Thursday, June 21, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM ‘promoting’ cause of radicals
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 20
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Santokh Singh (Vice-Chairmen) and Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, convener, Panchayati Raj and Rural Development Committee of the Congress, today said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had been allowing militants to return to Punjab.

Addressing a Press conference after holding a meeting of party workers from Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda on panchayati raj issues, they pointed out that in 1978 when Mr Badal came to know that his government would not survive long, he managed to initiate the Nirankari-Sikh fued which led to a ‘decade’ long militancy that claimed about 25,000 lives.

They alleged that Mr Badal was playing the same card again.

They asked Mr Badal to explain to people why Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, who headed the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF) involved in the killing of 700 persons, was getting “VVIP treatment” and holding press conferences.

They alleged that Mr Badal had now shifted his stand from the promotion of “Punjabiyat” to the promotion of the cause of radical Sikhs.

They said the grants being given by Mr Badal during sangat darshans were being “used” by his favourites. The money which was being distributed at sangat darshans was meant for farmers and had been given by the Central Government for compensating the losses suffered by them, the leaders said.

They said Mr Badal who used to claim that his was a Panthic government had been trying to secure a licence for a casino in Haryana.

They said PPCC President Amarinder Singh had formed 14 committees to deal with the problems of people and the recommendations of these committees would become the base for the party’s manifesto for the coming assembly elections.

They sought an independent inquiry into the demolition of marriage palaces in Ludhiana.

Sena opposes release of ultras
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 20
The 13th ‘balidan divas’ of Prof Ramakant Jalota, slain president of the Hindu Shiv Sena, and his close associate Vinod Gupta, was yesterday observed as “rashtriya ekta divas” at a state-level function organised by the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), Punjab, at the local Hanumangarhi.

Various speakers, including Mr Surinder Dogra, chairman, Mr Pawan Gupta, president, Mr Pawan Prabhakar, vice-president of the Shiv Sena, opposed the official move to allow the entry of hardcore terrorists like Jagjit Singh Chauhan into India, release detained terrorists and draft dreaded terrorists like Wasan Singh Zaffarwal into state politics. The Shiv Sena will oppose the move of the Badal government to revive terrorism in Punjab for petty political gains, speakers added. 


No stopping minister’s brother
House being constructed on dera land
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
The ongoing construction of a house by Faujinder Singh, brother of Punjab Minister of State for Public Works Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, on dera land has again come into focus with Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir asking the district police to inform him about the steps taken by it to stop unauthorised construction on the land of the Karheri dera on the outskirts of the city opposite the Punjabi University campus.

The Deputy Commissioner has through a demi official letter referred to the earlier request made to the police to stop illegal construction being conducted on the dera land on April 2 this year. Now the Deputy Commissioner has requested the Senior Superintendent of Police to inform him of the steps taken by his department to stop the unauthorised constructions.

The district administration had forwarded a case few months earlier to the government, citing various encroachments which had been made on the dera land, including the palatial house constructed by the Minister of State for Public Works. The Deputy Commissioner had ordered in December last year that no further construction would be allowed on dera land. The order was likely to affect only one person — Faujinder Singh, the brother of the minister, whose house was also coming up on the dera land then.

Despite the orders construction of the house of Mr Faujinder Singh did not stop then. In fact, the district administration was treated with disdain by the minister who even uprooted and took into his possession a board put up in the area proclaiming that the dera land belonged to the government and its sale was not allowed. The construction work at Mr Faujinder Singh’s house is going on with 90 per cent of the house having been completed. When the Tribune team visited the spot today it saw nearly twenty labourers engaged in construction work.

The Deputy Commissioner when contacted said the matter had been taken up with the government because of the involvement of the minister.

He said appropriate action in the matter would be taken up by the government only. He said a policy decision needed to be taken in the matter as other people, including shopkeepers who had constructed shops on dera land, were also involved.

He said meanwhile a request had also been made to the municipal corporation through a demi official letter that it should not give any water or sewerage connection to occupants constructing houses or any other facility on the dera land.

Meanwhile, sources disclosed that the Chief Minister has twice postponed a meeting which was likely to take up the issue of the unauthorised constructions made on the dera, including the constructions made by the minister and his family. They said the district administration had made a strong case against the Minister and the others on the basis of a “shahi farman” of the erstwhile Patiala State under which mahants were appointed caretakers of various deras and could not sell its land under any circumstances as well as a court order which has decreed that construction could come up on the deras only with the permission of the competent authority.

Additional Commissioner (Grievances) T P S Phoolka disclosed the administration would be again putting up boards on the dera land stating that the land belonged to the government and that it was not for sale.

He said similar boards had been put up on various other dera lands in the city to make sure the people knew the correct position on their sale.

Mr Phoolka said as regards the Karheri dera disciples of an earlier mahant had indiscriminately leased out dera land which they had no authority to do so.

Sources said the minister had also bought land from a disciple of the mahant around four years back and the minister claims that the seller had given on oath that he was the rightful owner and would get the land registered when registration on it was opened. 


Crop diversification a pipedream
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
Diversification may well remain a pipedream in Punjab with the government failing to provide viable alternatives to farmers forcing them to go in for sowing of paddy as usual. Even farmers who wanted to go in for other alternatives apparently have no choice but to sow paddy as they have not been able to get certified seeds of pulses and maize.

Whatever diversification has occurred in the present season is because of natural market forces and not due to any government effort, say farmers most of whom are going in for paddy transplantation. Diversification of crops has occurred mostly in the erstwhile cotton belt of Faridkot, Muktsar, Moga, Sangrur and Mansa where farmers have put more land under cotton this season as they got a good price for the produce last year.

Other attempts at diversification have almost failed, say experts. They said for instance in Patiala the Agriculture Department targeted only 2,000 hectares of the 2.50 lakh hectares which come under paddy cultivation every year for diversification. Department sources say they have met the requirements this year encouraging the cultivation of cotton and groundnuts in the Patran and Samana areas of the district and the cultivation of sugarcane in the Devigarh, Nabha and Patran areas.

A field survey, however, revealed that there were not many takers for diversification. Though farmers want to diversify they are not provided alternatives. For instance Tejinder Singh Punia of Rurki village in the Bhunerheri block said he wanted to sow ‘’ moong ‘’ pulse seed but could not get the proper seed from anywhere. He said while the seed was not available with the Agriculture Department, even Punseed was also not able to meet his requirements. He said certified seed was not available in the open market and he did not want to trust the seed of private traders.

The non availability of certified seed seems to be the bane of other farmers also who want to diversify. ‘’ I wanted to to go in for maize or soyabeen but have not been able to get certified seed for the same’’, said Narinder Singh of Dakala. He said if good quality seeds were made available easily to farmers at nominal rates diversification could take place in the real sense of the word.

Farmers have gone in for paddy transplantation again as the government does not have any policy of announcing the minimum support price for crops touted as alternatives. Nor they say is there any help in marketing these crops. ‘’You will not see anyone going in for sunflower in the region as the farmers have had a bitter experience last year’’, says Amarjit of Bhunerheri.

Another reason for the lack of diversification, according to farmers, is that the government does not want to rock the boat in any manner on the eve of Assembly elections in the state.’’ After being hammered with diversification appeals for the past one year and even warned there might not be any takers for the coming paddy crop, we have been assured by the recent actions of the government that the coming paddy crop will be procured at all costs by the government, ‘’ said Amarjit. He said in such a situation the farmers had by and large put off diversification plans for later.

Agriculture Department officials said the ‘’soft’’ attitude of the government on the procurement front and the liberalism displayed by it in procuring the wheat crop had not helped its cause of encouraging diversification.

Moreover the diversification would meet its first challenge this year itself as its further spread would depend on the experience of those who had gone in for alternative crops this season they said. ‘’ On this will depend whether the minuscule diversification which has occurred will increase or not’’, the officials added. 


Mand farmers fear eviction
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 20
Thousands of farmers who had transformed vast tracts of barren land into the lush green fields after partition have turned desperate as they fear that they might be displaced by the government.

Hundreds of farmers had been allotted lands by the government and some of them had occupied pieces of the Central Government land falling in the mand area after partition. The next two generations had worked hard to convert these lands into lush green paddy and wheat fields. Without knowing that in revenue records which were “streamlined” after the completion of the consolidation process in 1962 and 1974, their lands still belonged to the panchayats. Some of these panchayats have now started asking these farmers to vacate the land or have started forcing them to dole out money in the name of annual contracts. Most of the sarpanches and panches of the Mand area have, however, already written to the government that such lands in their respective villages were in the possession of the farmers and they should be treated as owners.

A number of farmers of Mand villages such as Gonsuwal, Daria Wala Billa, Burj Hassan and Raipur Gujran said apart from the involvement of their family for years together, they had taken loans from commission agents and banks. But what had virtually pulled the rug from under their feet was the move by some panchayats to reclaim fertile lands. “We have already installed tubewells and houses on these lands and now the village panchayat was asking us to vacate the land,” alleged a farmer of Gonsuwal village.

Mr Shingara Singh, president of Daria Wale Bille Village Cooperative Society, alleged that though the “intquals” of the lands stood in their name from 1991 onwards and they had spared no effort to convert barren land into fertile fields, yet the panchayat wanted to push them out of the village.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Shiva Prasad, was not available for comments. Mr Jagdish Singh, another farmer of Gonsuwal village, alleged that he had purchased his four acres of land from the panchayat and now the same panchayat was asking him to vacate it. Resham Singh of Burj Hassan village said his seven acres land, which was his only source of income, was being reclaimed by the panchayat. Similarly, Surat Singh of Mudhepur village said he would have no alternative but to commit suicide if his land was taken back either by the panchayat or the administration. Farmers and Mr Gurjinder Singh of the Kirti Kisan Union urged the Punjab Government to give them ownership rights of the land made fertile by them. 


PSEB imposes rotational power
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today imposed rotating cuts on various urban-industrial mixed feeders in the state.

Giving the cut schedule, board officials said a cut between 9 a.m. and 9.30 a.m. and between 12 noon and 1.30 p.m. had been imposed in the operation circles of Khanna, Muktsar, Ferozepore, Jalandhar and Patiala. They said power cut between 9.30 a.m. and 11 a.m. and between 1.30 p.m. and 3 p.m. had been imposed in the operation circles of Kapurthala, Ropar, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar and Mohali.

The Board officials said a power cut between 11 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. and from 3 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. had been imposed in the operation circles of Sangrur, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr, Bathinda and Ludhiana suburban. A cut between 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. and from 4.30 p.m. to 6 p.m. had been imposed in the operation circles of Ludhiana and Tarn Taran.

The board claimed that additional load-shedding up to one hour would be resorted to in case of outage of any thermal plant. It said peak load restrictions from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on large supply consumers and weekly off on industrial consumers would remain in force as per schedule.

Board sources said the demand had increased mainly due to the excess load being given to the agricultural sector with farmers being busy in transplanting paddy. 

They said last year the demand during the same days was above 1000 lakh units and that it was a little less this year due to intermittent rainfall during the last fortnight. Today while the total energy available was 957 lakh units, the restricted power demand was 960 lakh units.

Meanwhile the sources said unit one of the Ropar Thermal Plant, which had been non-functional for nearly two months due to maintenance, had also been lit up today.


Rinwa: no list of candidates announced
Tribune News Service

Kot Kapura, June 20
The President of the Punjab Unit of the BJP, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa said no list of candidates for the coming Assembly elections had so far been announced.

Talking to mediapersons here last night Mr Rinwa said no list of party candidates for the coming elections had yet been prepared.

There was a proper procedure for the selection of party candidates for elections, he added.

The BJP chief said the last general Assembly matter regarding seats would be discussed with Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

To a question, he said that SAD-BJP combine would seek votes on the basis of development works under taken in the state.

Mr Rinwa added that though there was lot to be done for the people living in the urban areas, waiving house tax, the elimination of ‘inspector raj’ and the simplification of the tax structure were among significant achievements of Punjab Government.

He pointed out that for the overall development of cities and to provide various amenities, special fund had been set up and a special committee had also been constituted.


Shun Cong for development, says Badal
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has called upon people to keep Congress out of power during the next Assembly elections.

He was addressing a gathering at the Akali-BJP district-level conference at new grain market here today.

Mr Badal said with a view to accelerating the pace of development process he had started the ‘sangat darshan’ programme in the state. During the sangat darshan programmes problems and development need of the panchayats were being heard and funds were being provided on the spot. Village panchayats had started getting funds for development works without the involvement of middlemen.

Earlier, Mr Badal laid the foundation stones of the ‘Maharshi Balmiki Municipal Community Hall’ at Bhagvan Balmik Nagar and ‘reception-room-cum tower’ of the local R.K. Arya College.


Problem of plenty plagues bus terminus
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, June 20
The city which was considered backward a few decades ago is fast emerging as an industrial hub and a mecca for students aspiring to get admission to professional colleges.

The city is attracting students and job seekes from nearby districts and therefore the number of bus commuters is increasing day by day. The local terminus, alas, is not keeping pace with the development of the city.

The number of buses has increased manifold but the space at the bus stand is insufficient. Buses can be seen parked haphazardly everywhere in the available space. Although there is separate space for the minibuses they enter the main bus terminus frequently.

The entrance to the bus terminus is itself a problem. It is very narrow and the buses move at a snail’s pace of the entry and exit points. A crowd is always there at these points, compounding the problem of flow of traffic.

The bus terminus also has inadequate basic facilities like drinking water and toilets. The condition of the toilets is abysmal. The drinking water is also not adequate.

Although separate counters have been provided for the buses plying on different routes sometimes the drivers do not park the buses at the counter meant for them. This creates problems for the passengers. Private bus operators break this rule frequently in order to save time which they think is wasted if they park their buses at the counter.

The conditions worsens in the rainy season when water fills the bus terminus. Although the rain water gets drained after some time it leaves behind slush which makes people skid and slip. The shed meant for passengers waiting for the buses is not able to cater to the needs of the number of passengers. They face difficulty when it pours or the sun shows its strength.

At the entrance to the bus terminus there is an electric transformer whose height is such that anybody could touch it if he is not careful enough while using the entrance.

The condition of the rickshaw stand is no better than the rest of hte bus terminus. The number of rickshaws had increased but the space is not sufficient. The rickshaw-pullers have to use the space meant for the buses in order to park their vehicles.

If a passenger wants to get information regarding any bus it proves to be a gargantuan task for him. The board displaying such information is used by advertisers for pasting their bills and posters. The needy have to depend on the employees sitting at the inquiry window to get any information.

The problem of beggars and pickpockets, which is a feature of the state at every public place, is also prevalent at the bus terminus. The number of beggers is increasing every day.

The vendors use the bus terminus for running their business, giving a go by to the rulers. They put up their business at any place. The already small bus terminus becomes even smaller with the rehris and vends.

A senior official of the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation when contacted said the space for parking buses was sufficient.

Regarding the accumulation of rain water, he said the bus terminus at the city was the best in the state. He said the water got drained a few minutes after the rain. He denied that the problem of slush was there at the terminus.


Panel fights for bonded labourers
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, June 20
Almost all district bonded labour vigilance committees in Punjab have become defunct due to the indifferent attitude of the Deputy Commissioners. Interestingly, staff at district offices, are not even aware of the existence of these committees. Under the Bonded Labour Abolition Act, 1976, these committees have been formed in every district under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner to keep a check on the flow of the bonded labour.

The major political parties, including the Leftists, may deny the absence of the bonded labour in the state. But the People’s Vigilance Committee on bonded, child and migrant labour, claims that it has got released more than 1,000 labourers from the clutches of brutal landlords living the different parts of the Punjab. Moreover, it has put forward about 1,000 other cases with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and National Schedule Castes and Schedule Tribes Commission.

Mr Jai Singh, Director of the People’s Vigilance Committee, who has worked with Swami Agnivesh and Mr Kailash Satyarthi during late seventies and early eighties claims that though the movement may be out of the fashion, but there are thousands of bonded labourers in the state mainly in rural areas. Though under the Act, any person who has employed a bonded labourer, may be sent to the prison for three years and fined 2,000.

He says,” Most of the bonded labourers belonging to the Schedule Castes, have taken loans from the landlords. Due to illiteracy and unemployment in their area, they are forced to work with the landlords at lower than minimum wages, on an annual contract system. The employers pay them less wages, and takes work during the day as well as the night. They deduct heavy interest from their wages for the loans taken even by their parents.”

Mr Jai Singh says, “Due to the prevalence of feudal mind-set in the rural areas, especially in the Malwa region, the bonded labour is still practiced. The Scheduled Castes women are also forced to work as bonded labourers, once they have taken debt of a few thousand rupees from a Sikh”.

Ms Jaswant Kaur, a Majhwi Sikh of Sangrur district, is one of those who have suceeded in approaching him with the help of a relative who was also got released by Mr Jai Singh. Relating her story, she says,” I worked as a sweeper, cleaning the house and animal sheds of a Sikh in the village. I had taken Rs 4,000 loan from him five years ago. Now he says that I owe him Rs 6,000. I have never been paid any wages for 12-hour work during the past five years except two time meals. The meal is served in earthen utensils, kep outside the house.” She tells with tears in her eyes,” They have illegally got my thumb impressions on a plain paper to change the ownership of my one room house in his name. I am not allowed to work anywhere else. One of my sons, who used to work with him as ‘siri’ also died two months back when he was infected by insecticides. We were not given any money for his treatment.

This is not the tale of a bonded labourer. She disclosed that in her village, there were more than 20 women belonging to the lower caste, who were not paid any wages though they used to work for more than 12 hours. The association has filed cases from every part of the state with the PSHRC, included 386 cases from Mansa, 105 from Bathinda, 53 from Jalandhar and about 100 other cases from other districts.

Mr Kulwant Singh, another bonded labourer, who was recently freed from a brick kiln owner said, “We will never take debt from the employer even if we have to beg. Now we are running a movement against the bonded labour and share-pattern agriculture labour under the leadership of Mr Jai Singh.”

The association has urged the state government to reorganise the district bonded labour vigilance committees by involving the NGOs and the former bonded labourers. A study should also be conducted to determine the nature and problems of the bonded labour in the state. The government agencies should strictly implement the Bonded Labour Abolition Act.


Slogans raised against DSP
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 20
Workers of the newly formed Bharatiya Samaj Party today staged a demonstration in front of the office of the SSP to protest against the alleged remarks of a DSP. The officer allegedly asked them to disperse and threatened if they did not do so they would be dispersed by resorting to firing and lathi charge. These remarks provoked the workers and they started raising slogans against the DSP and threw a challenge to him to fire on them.

Mr Vijay Hans, National president of the party, said the workers were staging a peaceful demonstration to highlight the incident in which the police force picked up three Dalit youths from their houses in Hamira and Lakhan Khole villages in the early hours of this morning. The youths had not been traced so far. In order to pacify the workers the police allowed a five-member delegation of the party led by Mr Bhushan Nahar to meet Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP, in her office. When she gave the assurance of looking into the matter the workers dispersed.

Mr Hans said the party had been organising rallies in the state in support of its demands and as part of this programme a rally was being organised at Kapurthala. A memorandum listing their demands was presented to the Deputy Commissioner.

Addressing the workers, Mr Hans announced his party would contest all seats during the elections to the Punjab Assembly.


Helping check spread of AIDS
Rashmi Talwar

Spearheading the fight against AIDS, the People’s Health Organisation (PHO), an all-India NGO, is aiming at covering every district in Punjab to tackle India’s entry into the “third phase” of the HIV epidemic, as reflected in the increasing trend of infection among members of families like housewives and children.

Established in 1985, the PHO, a privately funded organisation, whose AIDS projections are endorsed by the WHO, UNAIDS and the World Bank, has now entered Punjab, the sixth state after Maharashtra, Andhra pradesh, Manipur, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

The PHO plans include the setting up of centres at Faridkot, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Chandigarh. Dr S.P. Dewan and Dr Ashok Goel, state president and spokesman, PHO, respectively, said that “from a massive awareness campaign against HIV and AIDS through seminars on the change in behavioural pattern, use of condoms and monogamy, the second main thrust area is care and responsibility involving the infected and their relatives. In addition, the PHO is pressing for lowering the prices of drugs administered to those affected by HIV and AIDS” said Dr Dewan.

The 15-member Amritsar chapter of the PHO wants to take the fight further by proposing a multipurpose specialists’ cell for AIDS and HIV. The proposal is ready to be presented by Dr Dewan at the biannual general body meeting in the October session of the Medical Council of India.

Criticising policies in India that have proved detrimental to the successful prevention of the disease and the tackling and rehabilitation of the HIV-infected, Dr Goel said he personally felt that the secrecy factor had actually harmed the cause. He said this had led to the minimising of the efforts in tackling problems relating to the mental make-up and behavioural pattern of the infected person.

Gurdaspur is considered to be an area of high incidence of HIV positive cases due to the concentration of truck drivers and the alarming increase in drug abuse involving the use of infected syringes. Other areas of focus of the PHO are Sri Hargobindpur, Patti, Ajnala and bhikhiwind. It was found after studies that the incidence of HIV and AIDS among jail inmates was around 0.38 per cent.

The PHO, which got the Anne Marie Madisson International Award, 1999, has been recognised specially for its work among sex workers in Mumbai. It was also named the most outstanding NGO in India by the US-India Business Council based in Washington.


SP to probe youth’s torture in custody
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June, 20
The SSP, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, today ordered an inquiry into the alleged beating up of Rajinder Singh, a resident of Nagra village near Bhawanigarh, on June 10 by an ASI and a Head Constable while he was in custody of the Bhawanigarh police.

In a press note issued here today, the police said that the inquiry had been entrusted to the SP (D), Sangrur, who would look into the allegations, levelled by Mr Jarnail Singh, father of Rajinder Singh, with regard to the beating up of Rajinder Singh in “illegal” custody by the Bhawanigarh police and extortion of money by the ASI from the family of Rajinder Singh.

Mr Jarnail Singh had in the representations sent to the Chairman of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission and the DGP, Punjab, alleged that his son, Rajinder Singh was mercilessly beaten up and tortured by an ASI and a Head Constable of the Bhawanigarh police when he refused to pay Rs 50,000 for the release of his son. After taking Rs 10,000, the ASI released his son who was unable to walk due to torture in police custody.

The police said the ASI, Baljit Singh, had recovered poppy husk from Nazar Singh of Nagra village who during interrogation, told the ASI that he had purchased poppy husk from Jarnail Singh. On this the ASI along with village chowkidar visited the house of Jarnail Singh who fled. The ASI asked the family members to produce Jarnail Singh before the Bhawanigarh SHO. But instead of appearing before the SHO, Jarnail Singh concocted the story, the police added.

The police alleged that Jarnail Singh was a smuggler and the police had registered six cases against him at Bhawanigarh, Sunam and Longowal. Besides, a case had been registered at Samana by the police.

The police also stated that Jarnail Singh was convicted and sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment besides a fine of Rs 1 lakh in a case registered against him at Bhawanigarh under Section 15 of the NDPS Act. 


Telecom Dept to pay damages to consumer
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 20
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, Kapurthala, today directed the District Engineer (Telephones), Kapurthala and the General Manager (Telecom), Jalandhar, to provide the complainant, Mr Mukesh Kumar Garg, the telephone connection, pay Rs 1,000 as compensation for harassment and another Rs 1,000 as costs of the complaint and implement forum’s order within a month from the date of the receipt of the order.

The judgement was delivered by Mr M.L. Puri, president of the forum, and Ms Prem N. Kumar, member.

However, the consumer court rejected the plea of Mr Garg for compensation of Rs 20,000 feeling the amount to be much on the higher side and awarded Rs 1,000 as compensation and a similar amount as the cost of complainant, Mrs Kumar added.


Sikh jatha leaves for Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), June 20
A 500-strong Sikh jatha left for Pakistan today by a special train here. The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) sent 260 pilgrims while the rest comprised pilgrims from Delhi and other parts of India on the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

The jatha, headed by Mr Baldev Singh, a senior member of the SGPC, started from Teja Singh Samudhari Hall at Golden Temple Complex. A senior Akali leader, Mr Kartar Singh Takkar, also accompanied the jatha.

The pilgrims will pay obeisance at four historical gurdwaras in Pakistan before returning on June 29.


CM asks police to adopt more humane approach
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 20
“The state police should discharge its duty with responsibility since any kind of lethargy can lead to discredit not only to the police force but to the government as well. Special efforts should be made to improve cordial relationship between the police and the public by strengthening the concept of community policing.”

These views were expressed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while presiding over the annual conference of the Punjab Police Pensioners Welfare Association at local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here today.

“The police should adopt more humane approach towards people while dealing with their problems. It should adopt latest methods of investigation for speedy redressal of cases,” he said.

The Chief Minister also announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for construction of building of the association’s office for which the state government would allot a piece of land at Mohali at reserved price.

Mr Ajit Singh Kundal, president of the association, also presented a charter of demands to the Chief Minister. 


No decision yet on mini zoo
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
The municipal corporation’s meeting here today remained indecisive over the fate of the mini zoo located in the historical Ram Bagh Gardens of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s time. The meeting was to take a decision regarding the utilisation of zoo space which is currently being used as a dumping ground for garden material and wood. Several proposals were put forward to the Commissioner of the municipal corporation, Mr B.R. Banga, who presided over the meeting today that was also attended by the Joint Commissioner, the Assistant Commissioner and the Horticulture Officer.

However, the members failed to reach a consensus on the zoo which is under the Archeological Survey of India since it is located in the historical gardens. Sources reveal that proposals put forward would strictly adhere to the no-demolition agenda in the former zoo which has massive empty cages.

It was proposed to use one of the ponds to nurture ornamental fishes while others are likely to be filled up. The proposal also includes retaining the cages and growing climbers on them while installing garden benches and indoor plant in the cages for nature lovers.

Other areas are proposed to be cut as flower beds with fragrant bushes and flowers, walkways etc.

Mr Banga, however, said he needed to take a hard look at the ground realities before coming to a final decision which had been deferred till tomorrow.


Computerised centre to tackle postal problems
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 20
The Patiala Postal Division has opened a separate computerised business centre here today to tackle the booking, delivery and despatch of speedpost articles, Express Parcel Post and Speed Post money order.

Disclosing this, Ms Sukhvinder Kaur, Senior Superintendent of Post Offices, said that the centre had been opened under the guidance of Mr A.S.I.S. Paul, Chief Postmaster-General, Punjab Circle, Chandigarh. She added that the business centre would function from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays and postal holidays.

Ms Sukhvinder Kaur added that the timings of the counter at Patiala Head Post Office had also been extended to 8 pm for the convenience of the public and to provide necessary services like Indian postal orders, stamps and stationery, passport forms, UPSC forms and booking of registered articles.



Colony demands attention
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 20
The Ratan Nagar Colony on the Sheller road has remained deprived of any favours from the Municipal Corporation despite the fact that the various problems prevalent in the area are well under the notice of the authorities.

The colony, with a population of about 3,000, comprises more than 500 houses. There are also four private schools running in the area. Despite all this, there is one sheller and a PVC pipe factory running in the residential colony which pollutes the atmosphere and the residents have jointly complained to the Pollution Control Board.

The area is surrounded with many problems including sewerage, water supply, absence of a sweeper, dirt and dung scattered here and there without any care being taken to remove the waste. The main road also requires recarpeting.

The colony president, Mr Fatehjit Singh Jolli, complained that the degraded condition of the area has been brought to the notice of the local municipal authorities but all in vain. He said that there are no dust bins in the area and neither does any municipal truck or trolley visits the area to clean the rubbish accumulated in the colony.



Camps to focus on water-borne diseases
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 20
The district health authorities have chalked out a programme for the prevention of water-borne diseases in the coming rainy season, in which special awareness would be held with the help of the District Development and Panchayat Officer.

Dr Bawa Ram Gupta in a press note issued here today said a meeting was held in this regard here today. He said the officials of the Health Department had been given instructions that they should take care that the water pipes should be intact and if any leakage is reported the help of employees of the Public Health Department should be taken to plug it.

He said instructions had been issued to the employees at the waterworks in the villages to chlorinate water before supplying it to residents. He said the villagers would be educated regarding safe drinking water and measures to control the water-borne diseases.

Dr Gupta further said training would also be given regarding medicines to be taken if somebody falls ill with diarrhoea or other such diseases. He said the residents were advised to take medicines from the civl hospital and government dispensaries. He said the villagers should not go to quacks for getting treatment.


Somal dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Mr Tara Singh Somal, a former President of the All-India Brick and Tile Manufacturers Federation, and also the President of the Punjab Brick Kiln Association, died at Ludhiana yesterday. He was 77. He is survived by his wife, a daughter and two sons. The cremation will take place at Model Town Extension cremation ground tomorrow at 4 p.m.


3.60-cr aid for paddy farmers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 20
A compensation of Rs 3.60 crore would be given by the month-end to about 11,000 farmers who had sold their paddy between September 21, 2000 to October 14, 2000, at a less cost than the amount that was decided by the government.

This was stated by Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner, during a function organised at Bunerheri Anaj Mandi where he distributed cheques worth Rs 4.56 lakh to about 210 farmers who had sold their paddy at less amount. He said that main committees would go to 26 major mandis of the district to distribute these cheques.

Giving further information, Mr Bir said that 61,000 tons of paddy was sold by farmers at less cost and the 62 per cent of this compensation was being provided to them. He said that because of the recent developments and efforts made by the Punjab Chief Minister, no problem had been faced by farmers during the last two seasons in the sale of wheat and paddy.

Mr Bir advised the farmers to bring ripe paddy to mandis so that there was no delay in its sale. He expected that 13.50 lakh tons of paddy was expected to reach the mandis this year and added that the required preparation for their storage purposes was being undertaken by the authorities.

He said that a special Compensation Distribution Committee under the Chairmanship of SDMs at the subdivision level had been made to prevent any sort of corruption in the compensation procedure.

In this committee, the block Development and Panchayat Officer concerned, Chairman Market Committee, two representatives of farmers, a representative of arhtiyas and the Food Supply Officer or Assistant Food Supply Officer concerned would be the member secretaries .

The DC said that 1,939 farmers in the Sanaur, Patiala and Bunerheri blocks would be provided a compensation of Rs 77.41 lakh, about 3,510 farmers in Rajpura and Khanaur blocks would be given Rs 73.24 lakh, 1,006 farmers of the Dera Bassi subdivision would be given Rs 18.59 lakh, about 2,630 farmers of Samana subdivision would be given Rs 81.85 lakh while an amount of Rs 10.71 lakh would be provided to 1,934 farmers in the Nabha subdivision as compensatory amount.


5 held for forging court papers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 20
Inder Singh and his sons Hari Singh, Gurdev Singh, Attar Singh and Chattar Singh have been arrested for allegedly forging documents relating to a judgement given by Mr L.K. Singla, Civil Judge (Junior Division), in a land dispute.

Sources today said Mr Joginder Singh of Dhaani Karaka Singh had submitted an application to Mr Justice J.S. Narang on March 17 stating that a suit filed by him had been decreed in his favour on June 1, 2000.

The suspects had allegedly forged the date of preparation of the attested copy of the judgement to get relief for filing an appeal within the time limit.

This was also reportedly noticed by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, Mr Bhupinder Singh, on August 26, 2000.

It was alleged that the appeal filed in the district court was withdrawn on September 19, 2000.

Sources said under directions of Mr Justice Narang, the District and Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, asked Mr Rajinder Aggarwal, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), to conduct an enquiry into the complaint.

Mr Aggarwal, in his report, said the suspects had committed forgery in connivance with Raj Kumar, a clerk of their counsel, to extend the period of limitation.

A case was registered under Sections 464, 466, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC against six persons on May 4.


Babbar Khalsa activist arrested
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 20
Sarwan Singh of the Babbar Khalsa outfit and resident of Dhingar village in this district was arrested on June 18.

The militant had been declared a proclaimed offender and a case had been registered against him in 1992 under Sections 307, 148 and 149, IPC, and Sections 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act besides Sections 3, 4,5 and 6 of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act.

A number of cases in Mansa, Bathinda and Sangrur districts are pending against Sarwan Singh. He was remanded in police custody yesterday.


Bid to abduct sisters, man held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 20
The district police has arrested Ajit Singh, a resident of Uttar Pradesh, who was working as a salesman at a liquor shop of Kingrewala village in Faridkot district, while he was trying to abduct two sisters of the same village.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said the accused had been arrested from Bathinda after he abducted the two sisters from their village.

He added a case in this connection had already been registered.

Both the sisters, namely, Karamjit Kaur (22) and Paramjit Kaur (20), were married. Both had allegedly illicit relations with the accused Ajit Singh. 

The accused was trying to take these sisters to his native place Manpuri in Uttar Pradesh.

He said in another case the district police had arrested Kandhara Singh, a resident of Bhallo village, for possessing more than eight litres of illicit distilled liquor. A case in this connection has been registered.


5 migrants robbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 20
Five migrant workers were drugged and robbed at the local bus stand last night. They were brought to the hospital here in an unconscious condition.

The workers have been identified as Gulam Mohammed Khan, Sion Khan, Latia Khan, Fuso Khan and Debo Khan, hailing from Bihar.

The workers had come from a nearby village to go back to their native state. They wanted to board a train but went to the bus stand instead when they learnt that the train would leave in the morning. Three persons, accompanying them, served them biscuits laced with drug and decamped with their valuables.

The police has registered a case under Sections 328, 379 and 34 of the IPC but no arrests have been made.


1 killed as truck rams into scooter
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 20
Dalbir Singh, an Assistant Lineman, posted at Bundala subdivision of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) died on the spot while his other accomplice was seriously injured in a road accident today near Khabe Dogran village falling under the local sadar police station.

Dalbir Singh and Pishora Singh were coming back to their headquarters at Bundala on their scooter when it collided with a truck.

A case has been registered under Section 279 of the IPC against the driver of the truck who is reportedly absconding. The body was post-mortemed at the local Civil Hospital.


Poor performance by govt school pupils
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 20
The standard of education in government schools can well be assessed from the results of the middle class of the Punjab School Education Board declared recently. According to a survey conducted by Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, an eminent educationist, the facts emerging out of the analysis are startling, and reflects the performance of the pupils of the schools. According to the survey there are 534 students in Punjab who have secured more than 90 per cent marks in Class VIIIth examination conducted in March.

These students have been declared as merit holders. Out of thousands Class VIIIth students studying in 4,970 government, middle, high and senior secondary schools, only 14 students which constitute less than three per cent of the total merit list of 534 students have figured in the list.

The remaining 97 per cent comprising 520 students are from the private schools. According to details of the survey students of Bathinda district topped the merit list with the names of 78 students figuring in list. Moreover, 48 out of 78 students are from MSD Senior Secondary School of Bathinda. At least 70 students of Sangrur district have secured second position and 67 from Ludhiana have secured third position, respectively.

Primary school syllabi to be streamlined
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Education Department, Punjab, has decided to streamline the syllabi in primary schools to bring about an improvement and raise the standard of education.

A spokesman of the State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) said that after completing the admission process, regular studies in primary schools would begin from May 1. The students admitted to Class I would be kept busy in light sports activities and recitation of rhymes.

Two house tests would be conducted in September and December before holding the annual examination in March of each class in primary schools. Besides, regular monthly tests would be held. The admission process for all classes would be completed by April 7. The syllabi in each class would be covered in three phases. A progress card of each student would be maintained. 

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