Thursday, June 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Dr Chohan’s bail plea again dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
London-based “self-styled President of Khalistan” Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan’s anticipatory bail plea was dismissed again by the Punjab and Haryana High Court — this time as withdrawn — following controversy over an affidavit signed by the petitioner’s counsel.

Pronouncing the orders in the open court, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh observed that the affidavit, enclosed along with the petition, had not been signed by Dr Chohan, but by his counsel Mr Ranjan Lakhanpal.

The Judge elaborated that Mr Lakhanpal had signed the affidavit as a deponent and not as an attorney. He added: “Such a practice was not being appreciated by the Court”.

The Judge also warned a Grade II Superintendent with the High Court Registry “to be careful in the future and not to pass the petitions in a casual manner”. The officer had been asked by the Judge to be present in the Court following the controversy.

Earlier during the proceedings, Mr Lakhanpal stated that he could sign the affidavit as a Special Power of Attorney had been issued in his favour by the petitioner.

He added that the High Court Registry earlier had returned another affidavit filed by him. It was rejected on the grounds that the petition should have been accompanied with Dr Chohan’s affidavit and not by one signed by him as an attorney of the petitioner, he asserted.

In his application filed before the Court on Tuesday, Dr Chohan had prayed that he should be granted anticipatory bail in the event of his arrest in any case registered, or likely to be registered, against him in the state of Punjab.

Dr Chohan had added that he had no previous criminal record but was being harassed due to political reasons as the scenario in the state was likely to change after his arrival.

His earlier application for anticipatory bail was dismissed by Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill of the court on June 13 as he had signed neither the petition, nor the vakalatnama. Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Gill had added that the Power of Attorney, apart from being faxed, had not been appropriately authorised. Moreover, proper procedure had not been followed.

It may be recalled that Mr Justice V. K. Jhanji of the High Court earlier had directed the Union of India and other respondents to issue travel documents to Dr Chohan for enabling him to return to India.

In his detailed order, Mr Justice Jhanji had observed: “As regard to the contention that the intelligence agencies had not favoured the grant of travel documents to the petitioner in view of his known stand in favour of Khalistan, it is only to be stated that the return to one’s own country is the Fundamental Right conferred on a citizen under Article 21 of the Constitution of India”.

The Judge had concluded: “The right can not be taken away simply because the intelligence agency has not favoured the issuance of passport to a citizen.... The writ petition is allowed. The respondents are directed to issue travel documents to the petitioner.”

Plea on DSPs’ test rejected

A petition seeking quashing of a decision for holding a test to fill 14 posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police, Deputy Superintendent of Jail, besides District Probation Officer, was today dismissed by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In his petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice R. L. Anand and Mr Justice K. S. Garewal, Jalandhar resident Mr Avtar Singh had also sought directions to the Punjab Public Service Commission and its Chairman to hold the tests in accordance with the rules.

Delivering the verdict on the petition, the Bench observed that it was difficult for them to presume that there would be any bungling in the process of selection or in the final selection.


Chohan mustered support for Bhindranwale
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 27
The Khalistan ideologue, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, who landed in India after remaining in a 21-year self-imposed exile in England, was the first person who had mustered support for Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from Pakistan.

Dr Chohan is considered the political godfather of Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force, who was arrested by the Majitha police in a stagemanaged drama on April 11. Dr Chohan was perhaps the only Khalistani leader who had welcomed the return of Zaffarwal to India.

Sources said Dr Chohan had sent his nephew, Iqbal Singh, from the UK to India for facilitating the smooth return of Zaffarwal.

Dr Chohan, a qualified physician, first left India in 1970 for the UK where he raised a slogan for Khalistan. He was the General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal when he had gone to England.

The then President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Sant Fateh Singh, had expelled Dr Chohan from the party for raising the slogan of Khalistan. During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, Dr Chohan was shown on Pakistan Television receiving keys of Gurdwara Nankana Sahib from the then military ruler of Pakistan. After the electoral rout of the Congress at the Centre in 1977, Dr Chohan thought it to be the most opportune time to return to his motherland. It was a coincidence that Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister of Punjab at that time also.

After coming to Punjab, Dr Chohan floated the Akali Dal (Revolutionary). However, when the Congress returned to power in 1980, Dr Chohan went back to England. During his stay in Punjab, he installed radio transmission in the Golden Temple. After reaching England, Dr Chohan floated the National Council of Khalistan with himself as its president. Mr Balbir Singh Sandhu, who is now camping in Pakistan, was appointed the general secretary of the new organisation.

According to reliable sources, Dr Chohan left his general secretary, Mr Sandhu, with Sant Bhindranwale and collected money in their name from various countries.

After Operation Bluestar, Dr Chohan had given an interview on BBC announcing a handsome reward for assassinating Indira Gandhi. This statement had generated lots of protests all over the country.

Dr Chohan formed the “republic of Khalistan” in exile and declared himself as its self-styled president shortly after Operation Bluestar. He is known for his international connections with manipulative skills.

Dr Chohan had reportedly lost his right arm while making a bomb at the time of Partition.

He remained Finance Minister of Punjab during the Lachhman Singh Gill government which was formed in 1967 by toppling the Gurnam Singh government with the support of the Congress. He also remained Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Assembly.

Dr Chohan is the third radical Sikh who reached India in the recent past. Earlier, Mr Satnam Singh Paunta Sahib, vice-president, Dal Khalsa, who had hijacked an Indian Airlines plane in September 29, 1981, had sneaked into India on fake documents through Nepal. Zaffarwal was another person who entered India on fake travel documents.

Ms Laxmi Kant Chawla, a BJP MLA, has strongly criticised the entry of Dr Chohan. She alleged that he should be arrested immediately for engineering killings of innocents and misguiding youths to wage a war against their own country.


Crucial day for Giani Kewal Singh
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 27
The concluding function of the “path bodh” programme to be held tomorrow at Talwandi Sabo may prove crucial for Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, as the demand for his resignation is likely to be put before Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi President, SGPC.

The demand for his resignation has been doing the rounds for a long time as a criminal case is pending against him, his son and a kin for their alleged involvement in the death of his daughter-in-law, Sharanjeet Kaur. He has however, said that he would not resign from his post despite the demand of the Sikh sangat.

The organisers of the “path bodh” programme have kept themselves away from the demand for the resignation of the Jathedar saying that they have assembled at the Takht for a religious purpose. However, those who attended the programme have been holding demostrations for many days demanding the resignation.

They had also held a rally on the premises of the Takht and shouted slogans against the Jathedar. They demanded that if the Jathedar did not resign he should be asked by the SGPC to do so.

The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has distanced himself from the affair by saying that it is up to the Jathedar to decide about the resignation. He said the matter did not fall in his jurisdiction.

Those who attended the “path bodh” and held demostrations against the Jathedar had said that they would intensify their stir against him after the conclusion of the programme.

Members of the Granthi Sabha had said they would meet the SGPC President after the “path bodh” and would urge him for the Jathedar’s ouster.

Tomorrow’s function is likely to be attended among others by Mr Talwandi Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, members of the executive committee of the SGPC, prominent Sikh intellectuals and prominent political leaders.

The opponents of Jathedar Giani Kewal Singh will reportedly use the platform tomorrow to press for his resignation.

Hundreds of devotees have been pouring in at Talwandi Sabo to attend the concluding ceremony and the opponents of Giani Kewal Singh have reportedly started pooling in their resources to “accomplish their task”.


Cong-ruled states getting raw deal: Jogi
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Ajit Jogi today accused the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre of discriminating against Congress-ruled state governments and said the Chief Ministers of all 11 Congress governments would collectively raise the issue with the Centre shortly.

Talking to newspersons here at the Rajiv chetna shivir established for a north zone training workshop, Mr Jogi said the Chief Ministers had already bought this matter to the notice of Congress President Sonia Gandhi. He said Mrs Gandhi would soon be calling the party Chief Ministers to Delhi to discuss the issue as well as form a strategy to take up the matter with the Centre.

Mr Jogi said the Central Government was consistently giving a raw deal to Congress-ruled states in the matter of providing funds for various central schemes. He said the most recent example of discrimination was the manner in which Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh had not been given relief which was asked by these to counter the drought conditions. He said the relief, when finally given to the states, was too little and too late, which had increased the suffering of the affected in the states.

Mr Jogi said Centre had also discriminated against Chhatisgarh by not giving it special status as had been done in the case of Uttaranchal. He said there was no logic behind denying the state special status when it was more deserving for the same due to its large tribal population. He said the Centre had not done so mainly because the Congress was in power in the state.

The Chhattisgarh Chief Minister, while speaking at the chetna shivir, also spoke on the alleged corruption during in selling off of Balco to private parties. He said the Centre had taken a decision to privatise Balco despite the fact that the state government was ready to buy the public sector company for Rs 592 crore against its sellout price of Rs 591 crore.

He said the people were pinning their hopes on the Supreme Court to thwart the government move. He said some persons had filed public interest litigations against the Balco selloff and it was hoped that the court would deliver justice in the case. He said it was strange that the Centre had not even agreed to a Joint Parliament Committee probe into the issue.

The shivir was attended by a galaxy of leaders, including former Speaker Shivraj Patil, MPs Mani Shankar Aiyar and Preneet Kaur, Salman Khurshid and state participants, including former MPs Sant Ram Singla and Amarjit Kaur and Mrs Ravi Singh.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Patil alleged that the BJP had brushed aside all accountability in public life which could be seen from the activities of its senior leaders.


Cong must not forge alliance: Khursheed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
Senior Congress leader and party planning and policies department chairman Salman Khursheed today said the party should fight the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections on its own steam and not forge an alliance with any party.

Talking to newspersons here, he said at this juncture it was important to keep the party “alive” for which it necessary to field candidates from all constituencies. He said the party had paid a heavy price for allying with other parties in the past in Uttar Pradesh with the Congress presence in many seats being wiped out.

Mr Khursheed while admitting that the Congress had slipped to the fourth position in Uttar Pradesh, said the coming elections presented a chance to improve its showing. He said the BJP was not as popular and people were looking for an alternative. He said though there was a fair amount of Congress vote in the state, the general vote had got divided along caste lines.

He said the Congress needed to break these barriers if it wanted to do well. As no single party was in a position to win a majority on its own steam, the Congress could have a say in government formation if it could improve its showing in the coming elections to around 90 seats. He said if this was done the party could emerge as a central force in the state.

When questioned about the recent performance of the Congress in the Shahjahanpur Lok Sabha seat, he said the result could not be a barometer as former leader Jitender Prasada had also won the seat by a slender margin of 14,000 votes.

The Congress leader also debunked the idea of a “harit pradesh’ mooted by Mr Ajit Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal. He said there was no ground on which such a state could be created out of western Uttar Pradesh. He said for the creation of any new state there must be compelling economic reasons or issue of language or sub-culture. This he said was not the case with western Uttar Pradesh where the affluence of Delhi had spread.

“It is akin to saying that we will not keep the poor with us”, said the Congress leader while commenting on the issue. He said the demand was based on opportunism. The issue of reorganisation of the states should be taken up at the national level and a state reorganisation commission could be formed to look into the demands of statehood from various parts of the country. He said the issue needed to be discussed threadbare with the economic viability of the state also being taken into consideration.


Bishanpura flooding: Punjab writes to UT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab Government today wrote to the Chandigarh Administration drawing attention towards the flooding of the Bishanpura village due to open radial gates of the spillway regulator of the Sukhna lake on June 25 Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab has written a letter to the Lt Gen (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, Administrator of the Union Territory, in this connection. Capt Kanwaljit Singh has stated that the water flowing through the open gates caused a problem in the downstream areas falling in his Assembly constituency.

He has urged that the authorities concerned in the Punjab Irrigation department should be consulted before taking a decision pertaining to keeping the gate open or closed. As Punjab’s areas were hit directly by the water flowing from the open gates of Sukhna, it was desirable that the authorities concerned in the Union Territory, especially, those connected with the decision making process with regard to gates should consult top brass of the Punjab Irrigation Department on the closing and opening of the gates.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh told The Tribune that he had referred the flooding of the Bishanpura village because water escaped via open radial gates of spillway regulator of the lake.

Mr Dhillon, a former Chief Engineer, known expert on water management in this region, said that management of water especially in the rainfed choes during monsoon was a specialised job and it should be handled accordingly. A minor lapse on the part of the authorities could lead to huge loss by down stream choes known for violent behaviour during monsoon. Choes emerging from shivalik hills have proved dangerous several times in recent years, he added.

An expert in the matters pertaining to irrigation and flash floods should be posted to take important decisions like opening and closing of gates of the regulator. It should not be left to the presumption that the gates were not closed previously and due to this reason these were not closed this year also.

The authorities concerned should have borne the fact in mind that it was the wettest month of June in the previous several years and the rain started from the day one of June. Earlier, monsoon used to arrive in this region around June 28-30 while this year it arrived about a week earlier compared to previous years. All this should have been kept in mind by the authorities concerned. Meanwhile, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that the project to tame Ghaggar had not been abandoned. The matter had been taken up with the authorities concerned in the Haryana government for a joint effort to build a dam on ghaggar at a suitable place in the shivalik foothills.

Ghaggar is perhaps the only river which is a major course of destruction in the Patiala, Sangrur, Mansa districts of Punjab and farmers do not get any benefit from it as its water is not utilised any where. Otherwise, most of the rivers in the country have brought prosperity to the areas falling along their course.


Making illicit liquor family business
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Making cheap illicit liquor and selling it is no crime for them but a flourishing family business for generations. The marshy Mand area falling in Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Ferozepore districts along the Beas and the Sutlej has been providing them a safe haven for running their operations and making new innovations to keep themselves away from the eyes of the police officials.

For hundreds of men, women and children belonging to the Rai Sikh community illicit liquor distillation has not been an unlawful activity since they have been earning their livelihood from it for decades notwithstanding ocassional slowdown in business due to police crackdown or due to shooting up of gur prices. Except for some financial losses on account of seizure of their equipment, police action does not act as a long-term deterrent of them.

During a round of the countryside in the Mand area of Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts The Tribune team came across a number of Rai Sikhs who revealed that illicit distillation and sale of liquor was going on in a number of villages situated along the banks of the Beas and the Sutlej. Their mainstay are those people who prefer illicit liquor to whisky or countrymade liquor for their taste for it or for its low price than other legally sold brands.

What was more interesting to know was that the Rai Sikhs who indulged in sale of illicit liquor lived in separate colonies, mostly on the outskirts of villages or along the river banks, and had their own set of rules and their own “panchayats” to solve their problems arising out of violation of “respective territories” by some of them. In case anybody becomes a police informer and his or her activities comes to the knowledge of the “panchayat” the “accused” has to face trial and shell out a hefty fine amount ranging between Rs 2,000 and Rs 5,000.

“We don’t spare anybody who acts against the norms and traditions set by our forefathers”, said an old man of Baghela village under Nakodar subdivision who confessed he and his entire family earned their livelihood by selling illicit liquor despite being aware that this was an unlawful activity and was harmful for the health of consumers, particularly due to unhygienic fermentation and distillation conditions and due to its uncontrolled degree. “What else can we do as we don’t know any other job to earn our livelihood,” he said.

He maintained though small operators sold their product to people of their areas big “wholesalers” had been able to spread their network across the Sutlej and in townships like Moga, Khanna and Jagraon where they had even appointed “retailers”. The big operators, who do their “business” with the help of modern gadgets like mobilephones and Maruti vans, though they still transport liquor from one place to other in truck or tractor tubes, had even appointed “chaukidars”, to keep vigil when the distillation operation was on. Posted at distant places or en route an area earmarked for a “bhatti” (distillation plant) these “chaukidars” sound the alarm in case they spot any police official or any suspected person in the area with an objective to enable those working to leave for some safer place.

Another liquor producer operating in the Talwandi Chaudharian area of Kapurthala district revealed some secrets of the trade on condition of anonymity. He said that to save the lahan” (fermented material) from being destroyed in the event of a raid those in the business had started doing the distillation process in trenches where the entire equipment is concealed under a tarpaulin. In case of a raid they throw away the equipment covered in tarpaulin in the river and recover it after the police or excise people leave the place.

Talking to The Tribune a number of Rai Sikhs said the margins had come down following the recent hike in gur prices and they would not be able to sell the liquor at the old prices ranging between Rs 15 and Rs 20 per bottle, depending on the quality of the product and its availability. The gur prices, according to them, had shot up from Rs 275 to Rs 300-350 per 40 kg bag during the past two months. “We will be unable to do business if we don’t increase the price of a bottle to Rs 25 but that too involves risk for in that case some people might go in for countrymade liquor, available at authorised liquor vends.” He painted a dim picture of his “business” in future by saying that doing business would be more difficult as in the wake of decreasing profits they might not be able to give the usual share to the police officials.

Mr Pushkar Sandal, DSP, Nakodar, who led a special operation jointly planned by the Punjab police with the Excise and Taxation Department in the Mand area yesterday said apart from considerable quantity of liquor the joint team had seized two “bhattis”, 130 tarpaulins and nearly 26,000 kg of “lahan: from Dharme Dian Channa, Umrewal, Bhode and Gadra villages.

He said the number of people joining the ranks of illegal distillers was swelling mainly as a result of growing unemployment in the area. He said the overgrowth of “sarkanda” along the river banks and inaccessibility to certain areas was another reason for the proliferation of the “trade” in the area.


BJP’s executive to meet in Amritsar from July 18
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said today that an important meeting of the national executive committee of the BJP would be held at Amritsar from July 18 to July 20. He said that the central leadership of the party had accepted the request of the state unit in this connection.

The state unit was grateful to BJP President Jana Krishnamurthi for providing an opportunity to the state unit to play host, Mr Rinwa said.

Senior leaders of the BJP, including Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr L.K. Advani, Mr Murli Manohar Joshi will attend the meeting.

The meeting of the national body is being held keeping in view the ensuing Assembly elections in the state. The meeting would provide a boost to the party’s election campaign. Mr Vajpayee will also address a rally in Amritsar either on July 19 or next day at Amritsar.

Before deciding to host the meeting of the national executive committee, Mr Rinwa reportedly talked to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in this connection.


Gurtek Lok Bhalai candidate from Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 27
Mr Gurtek Singh Sidhu, member of the Lok Bhalai Party, will contest the forthcoming Assembly elections from this Assembly constituency. This was announced by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP and president of the party, while addressing a conference organised by the district unit of the party at the old grain market here yesterday.

Mr Sidhu is the 12th candidate nominated by the party supremo in this connection. The other 11 candidates are Mr Resham Singh Possi (Mehalpur), Mr Paramjit Singh Sidhwan (Ludhiana Dehati), Mr Jagjit Singh Lopo (Jagraon), Mr Avtar Singh Mullapuri (Raikot), Mr Nachattar Singh Sidhu (Rampura Phool), Mr Bhola Singh Virk (Barnala), Mr Sukhchain Singh Bargari (Kotkapura), Dr Mohinder Singh Joga, Mr Jodha Singh Maan (Mansa), Mr Balwinder Singh (Talwandi Sabo) and Mr Piara Singh (Chattrana).

The party would contest from 90 out of 117 constituencies and the remaining list of candidates would be released soon, Mr Ramoowalia said.

District-level committees involving the public would be formed to check the adulteration in petroleum products, seeds, fertilisers and pesticides, he said.


Ramoowalia rules out pact with third front
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 27
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP and president of the Lok Bhalai Party, gave a call to Hindus to come forward and take active part in politics. He said although there was a large number of intellectuals among the Hindus, their number was small in politics. He was addressing a rally organised here today.

He said his party would not make any alliance with the third front which was being constituted by various Akali factions. He termed these parties as opportunists. Mr Ramoowalia said his party would contest elections from 90 Assembly constituencies and the list of candidates would be announced by the end of next month. 


BBMB leave encashment issue gathers heat
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, June 27
All worker unions of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) have formed a joint front to carry out a struggle against the stoppage of their leave encashment. They have written to the Chairman of the BBMB against the stoppage of leave encashment and have threatened to carry out an agitation if it was not restored.

Fifteen thousand employees of the BBMB had been getting leave encashment since the establishment of the Bhakra Control Board (BCW) which was later converted to the BBMB. The leave encashment was paid to those employees of the organisation who did not opt for the LTC. It was paid in the form of one month’s salary once in two years. However, now the BBMB management has decided to stop this allowance of the employees.

The financial constraints of the BBMB and the objection by partner states are said to be reasons for the stoppage of leave encashment of the BBMB employees. Since the past two years the BBMB management has been under constant pressure due to non-payment of the dues by the partner states. According to information provided by reliable sources, the partner states and their electricity boards owe about Rs 100 crore to the BBMB. In a special meeting of the finance authorities of the BBMB and the partner states held on March 15 it was decided that the partner states would give their current budget to the BBMB on time and would liquidate their arrears in five months. The arrears were to be paid in five equal instalments. However, the partner states had failed to live up to the understanding as yet.

The source also said the BBMB had been following the PSEB pattern of pay scales. In the PSEB pattern no leave encashment was paid to the employees. As a result the Accountant General Punjab, raised objection to the payment of leave encashment to the BBMB employees. The matter was also raised by the central government and the members of the partner states in the BBMB. The BBMB management was thus forced to discontinue the said allowance to its employees.

The Financial Adviser of the BBMB, who is also the chief accounting authority in the organisation, Mr Satish Loomba, when contacted admitted the leave encashment of the employees had been stopped. He, however, denied the proposition that the said allowance had been stopped due to financial constraints. The allowance had been stopped due to the technical difficulty of adopting the PSEB scales. Besides this, the organisation was saving about Rs 10 crore by discontinuing the allowance, he said.

When asked if the organisation would really save the said amount in view of the fact that now more employees would now opt for LTC due to the stoppage of leave encashment. Mr Loomba said experience had shown that lesser number of employees opted LTC whereas all employees had to be paid leave encashment.

Meanwhile, the employee unions have planned to take up the matter of leave encashment with the Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu who is scheduled to visit Bhakra on July 6. 


Water shortage plagues residents
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 27
Residents of the district are facing acute shortage of water in some localities. They are also complaining of overflowing sewerage.

The National Consumer Awareness Group has urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Secretary and Minister, Public Health and Deputy Commissioner to make arrangements for the supply of adequate clean water. They also demanded the sewerage system be made more efficient.

Mr Sham Lal Goyal, president of the district National Consumer Awareness Group said contaminated water was being supplied to the residents.

He said sewerage water had got mixed with the water supplied. As per instructions of the Punjab Government water supply should continue for 10 hours but in the district it lasted for 15 minutes only.

No proper arrangement for filtering water had been made at the water works. Water was not being purified, he alleged. Many residents were suffering from water-borne diseases, he said.

He pointed out that manhole covers of sewers had developed cracks while some manholes were without covers.

He said as the underground water was not fit for human consumption, the residents had been forced to buy drinking water.

Mr Amrik Singh, SDO, Public Health, when contacted, said filters at water works had been changed. He said some problem of mixing of drinking water with the sewerage water existed in some localities on the Muktsar-Kotkapura road. Public Health personnel had been deployed to rectify the situation. He said 150 covers of manholes had been replaced.

Mr M.S. Kaler, Xen, when contacted, said there was no shortage of drinking water in the town. Estimates to increase water supply in accordance with the growth of population had been made. 


Faulty “phataks” drive citizens crazy
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
Malfunctioning of most of the “phataks” (gates) of the city since yesterday are driving its citizens crazy as they have to wait for long periods for the fault to be set right or go in for long circumventions to reach their destinations.

The railway crossings of the city have to be navigated to reach nearly all destinations. As many as four railway crossings are situated at busy intersections where even closure for a few minutes causes traffic crossing.

Since yesterday three of the important railway crossings near Capital Cinema, in the Baradari and on the Rajbaha road have been closed for long spells due to some fault in the mechanism which opens and closes these gates. According to sources, the trouble has been caused by overwear of the wires of the gear box used to operate the gates. Due to this problem the gate near the railway crossings was closed for a long period forcing the people to cross the railway line by using the overbridge near the bus stand.

It is very cumbersome to travel further for small journeys due to the faults in the railway mechanism, said Anita, a student. She said yesterday she had to wait for a long time in front of the railway crossing in front of Capital Cinema. When the gate did not open even after the train had passed did she realise that there was some problem with the gate and took a different route to reach her house.

Sources said the intermittent closure of the railway crossings due to faults in their operating mechanism was also causing havoc with the transport system in the city. They said, according to current regulations, heavy traffic could not travel on Mall Road during the day due to which most of the traffic took the Rajbaha road. They said intermittent closure of the Rajbaha road railway crossing due to faults in its mechanism caused a traffic jam in the area yesterday.

Railway sources said the reason for the current problem was the lack of proper maintenance. They said there were as many as 12 railway crossings on the Patiala-Nabha railway link and six railway stations in the way. Even though there were so many crossings, the operating systems were not maintained regularly which led to problems. Giving an example, the sources said while earlier maintenance checks used to be conducted at least once a week, now checks were sometimes not conducted even once in a fortnight.

Railway technicians said when they put this issue before the authorities they were admonished and warned that they would be transferred if they asked for more helpers to do maintenance work due to lack of staff. The Railway Station authorities said a technician would have to be called from Nabha as the local technician was not available.


Quacks active despite HC order
Pushpesh Kumar

Chauke (Bathinda), June 27
Even though Chauke village has been hitting the headlines recently due to the spread of hepatitis-B, the district authorities have failed to take any action against unregistered medical practitioners and quacks. According to an official report, over 16 such practitioners are active in the village.

The number of patients suffering from the disease and the death toll due to hepatitis-B has been increasing since the disease broke out, even though the authorities claim that they are taking appropriate measures.

Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the health authorities that the “services” of quacks and unregistered medical practitioners should be stopped immediately but the situation in the district is just the opposite, especially in the rural areas. Quacks have been operating in the region despite the fact that the health authorities had sent lists of quacks and unregistered medical practitioners to the authorities concerned and asked for legal action in the case.

Dr Bawa Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, was not available for comments but Dr H.S. Dhillon, Assistant Civil Surgeon, said the department had sent blockwise lists of quacks operating in the district to the police.

He admitted that quacks operating in the village was one of the main reasons for the spread of the disease. They were giving injections even for minor ailments and had been recycling disposable syringes leading to the spread of the disease, he said.

Blood samples taken from the village have confirmed that a large number of people are suffering from the disease. Of the 227 samples taken from the village, 63 have been found positive for hepatitis-B. Also, only three of the six samples of water taken have passed the tests. Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, said 19 quacks had been arrested by the district police.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said the orders of the high court would be implemented. “Why the quacks of the village have not been arrested as yet will be probed and the district will be made quack-free,” he said.


Pak Rangers ‘kidnap’ Indian farmer
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 27
A report of kidnapping of an Indian farmer by Pakistan Rangers in the border village of Noor Mohammad in this sector has been received. According to reports, Gurdeep Singh (45) of Noor Mohammad was allegedly dragged and kidnapped by Pakistan Rangers yesterday afternoon while he was returning to the village.

When this correspondent visited the village, eye witnesses said Gurdeep Singh was following a tractor-trailor carrying fire-wood which was being driven by his cousin. They were accompanied by two BSF guards who were sitting on the tractor. Some Pakistan Rangers reportedly kidnapped Gurdeep Singh and took him inside Pak territory. The occupants of the tractor came to know about the instance when they had covered about 50 yards.

Officials of the 42 Battalion of the BSF have lodged a report with the Sadar police, Fazilka, that Gurdeep Singh might have slipped into Pak territory by mistake. No officer was, however, available to provide details of the incident.

It is stated that BSF officers and Pakistan Rangers held a flag meeting last evening to discuss the issue of return of Gurdeep Singh. Villagers are hoping that he might be released in a day or two.

The recent kidnapping of Indian nationals by Pakistan Rangers is the third case in the past few months in this sector and is considered as an attempt the to intimidate farmers who are cultivating along the last inch of the Indian territory.


Legislatures’ Secys talk shop
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The inaugural session of the conference of Secretaries of the Legislative bodies in the country was held in the Punjabi regional hall of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Bhavan. Mr R. C. Tripathy, Secretary-General of the Rajya Sabha, Mr G. C. Malhotra, Secretary-General of the Lok Sabha. Mr N. S. Mavi, Secretary of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, welcomed the delegates to the conference.

Secretaries deliberated upon various problems related to the working of legislatures and ways and means to deal with these. The agenda of the meeting of the secretaries was parliamentary subjects such as quorum of the House, Business of the House, Vote of Account, Casting Vote by the Presiding Officer, Assent to Bills, Parliamentary privileges, Government assurances and legislature and judiciary.

As many as 29 secretaries of legislative bodies are participating in the conference. Earlier, an exhibition titled “A Panoramic View of Punjab”, organised by the Punjab Small Scale Industries and Export Corporation, was inaugurated by the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, in the Assembly precincts.

The Conference of the presiding officers of the Legislative Bodies will begin tomorrow.


Pathankot to have airport
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 27
Pathankot will soon be on the air map of the country with the Union Minister for Civil Aviation, Mr Sharad Yadav, scheduled to lay the foundation stone of a civil airport here on June 29.

This was disclosed by Mr Sat Pal Saini, Minister for Information and Technology, Punjab while talking to mediapersons here today. He said Pathankot was an important town of Punjab and a gateway of Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Saini said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, Chief Minister, Himachal Pradesh, Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs, and Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, would be present on the occasion along with other dignitaries.


I won’t return, says Dimple’s daughter
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 27
Water connection to the house of Dimple (42) at Anand Avenue was restored today, four days after her story was published in The Tribune.

Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the Pingalwara Society, helped to restore the connection. She also persuaded Dimple’s daughter Tanya (15) to accompany them to her house and meet her mother.

However, Dimple refused to meet her daughter ever though she had pleaded with The Tribune team to send her children back to her on a previous occasion. Thereafter, Tanya, speaking to this correspondent over the cell phone of Dr Inderjit Kaur, said that she would never go back to see her mother.

She said: “Kabhi nahin aaoongee, kabhi nahin aaoongee, kabhi nahin, main kisi bhi lalach main nahin aaoongee yahan dobara”, (I will never go back, never, I will not be tempted into going back).

According to the SDO, Mr Mohinder Singh, who went with the team to get the sewerage cleaned at Dimple’s house, Dimple locked the main gate on seeing Dr Inderjit Kaur accompanying Tanya.

Dr Inderjit Kaur, speaking to this correspondent, said Deepak (17), Dimple’s son, refused to budge from his stand of not meeting his mother.

Dr Inderjit, speaking from outside Dimple’s house, said today that Dimple had locked the gate, saying that she would see her daughter only with the permission of the CJM.

Dr B.L. Goel, director of the mental hospital, said none of Dimple’s relatives had approached the hospital authorities for treatment or discussion till now. He said no social organisation except the Pingalwara society had come forward to bear the expenses of Dimple.

He said he had tried to contact her sister Madhu but in vain.

He said Mr Mohinder Singh had, however, assured him that Dimple could be persuaded to seek treatment.

Mr Mohinder Singh admitted to this correspondent that Dimple needed treatment as she was suffering from a mental disorder.

Mr S.S. Rahi, the in charge of the Pingalwara Society, discussed the case with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Narinderjit Singh, yesterday.

The DC had replied that the SDM in charge of the case, Ms Gurpreet Sapra, was out of station and any decision could only be taken after her return.

Mrs Anu Khanna, a neighbour, said Dimple’s house was being cleaned and the latter was been shouting at the workers, telling them to quickly get out as she wanted to lock the main gate.

Despite the possibility that Dimple’s state of mind could become “more disturbed” in the absence of her children, reportedly nobody from the administration has extended financial assistance or any other kind of help to her or contacted her relatives to make her agree to get treatment.

Her electricity connection has still not been restored. Despite numerous attempts, the Deputy Commissioner could not be contacted for comments.


Mela organisers rue red tape
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 27
Alleged red tape in the government departments have caused losses to the tune of lakh of rupees to the organisers of a mela here.

A mela was to be organised by some private persons on the Bathinda-Goniana road on the land of Improvement Trust for about 40 days starting from June 28.

The organisers of the mela had erected temporary structures and set up shops during the past 10 days and no official of the trust come to inquire about the same, they claimed.

Mr Vinod Kumar (name changed), one of the organisers, said they had incurred expenses on the installation of the machinery and had been paying labour charges to employees. “When the fair was just about to start the Improvement Trust officials raised an objection and demanded that the land should be vacated.

We had obtained permission from the Deputy Commissioner,” the organisers claimed.

Many of the machines had been brought from far-off places, including Ajmer, Jaipur etc.

The organisers claimed they had paid heavy rentals as due to vacations the lenders were charging exorbitant fees.

Many such melas had been organised at the same place in the past few months, they added.

Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, when contacted said he had been shown no permission letter by the organisers of the mela.

About the eleventh hour decision denying permission for the mela, he said a function in connection with the foundation stone laying ceremony of the Improvement Trust building was to be held on July 5. “The work for the construction of the building was to start immediately and the organisers of the mela were unable to promise that the land would be vacated immediately so they had been asked to vacate the land,” he said.


Committee meets to review tax abolition
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
Mounting public pressure during the run-up to the Assembly election has forced the Punjab government to head to the growing discontent among the business, trading and manufacturing communities.

A high-level committee has been asked to gather views on octroi, house tax, water and sewerage charges, etc. The seven-member committee formed by the state government reached here yesterday and held a three-hour meeting with members of the business community, politicians, mandal and beopar mandal pradhans, councillors, etc.

The meeting was presided over by Mr Arnesh Saker, MLA, Mukerian, and attended by Mr Bhag Singh Malha, MLA, Jagraon, Mr Paramjit Singh Ghuman executive of the Municipal Council, Moga, Commissioners and Assistant Commissioners of the Amritsar corporation.

Most of the suggestions reported pointed towards the abolition of octroi duty, rationalisation of house tax, especially in the commercial sector and reduction in the water and sewerage flat rates.

The Amritsar Municipal Corporation draws nearly Rs 54 crore from octroi, Rs 9 crore from water and sewerage and Rs 4.5 crore as house tax collections annually.


Talwandi invites Musharraf to Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
The SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, in a letter to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, has extended an invitation to him to visit the Golden Temple during his visit to India.

In a press note here today, it was informed that prior to talks between Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President, Mr Talwandi planned to seek a meeting with the Prime Minister to include the cases of the upkeep of gurdwaras in Pakistan on the agenda.

Mr Talwandi had already sent a special messenger with the request for a meeting to Mr L. K. Advani, Union Home Minister, and Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh.


Employees ignore office hours
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 27
A number of government employees with offices in the mini-secretariat commute daily from places as far as Ferozepore. By doing so, they are unofficially leaving their office headquarters daily and are also being irregular as they often reach the offices late.

While this might have been the normal practice when the timings were from the usual 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., they had kept up with their routine even now when the office timings had been changed to 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Most of the commuters travel by the Janata Express and the Intercity Express which often arrive late. It is normal to see the employees coming between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. The matter was reported to the authorities concerned many times, but in vain.


MC fails to honour martyrs’ kin
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, June 27
The local municipal corporation had passed a resolution in the MC house two years back that it would host a state-level function to honour the parents and families of these martyrs where they would be provided with an amount of Rs 1 lakh. But contrary to this, no money had been distributed among the bereaved families of these martyrs so far, thanks to the apathy of the civic body officials.

Martyrs, who have been killed in different operations, were Major Rohit Sharma and Capt R.S. Garcha of Model Town, Lieut Joga Singh and Major Kanwal Gulzar of Jalandhar Contonment, Lieut Sachin Khindria of Kot Kishan Chand, Major Raman Dada of Adarsh Nagar, jawan Dalit Singh of Ramamandi, Capt Mandeep Singh of Civil Lines, Head Constable Lakhvir Kumar of Preet Nagar, jawan Nastinder Singh of Santokhpura, Capt Gurpartap Singh of Golden Avenue Phase II locality.

The Mayor, Mr Suresh Sehgal, had announced in June 1999 that a state-level function would be organised on the MC premises to honour the families of these martyrs as a mark of respect, but the infighting between Akali-BJP councillors has virtually overshadowed the smooth functioning of the civic body.

On the other hand, the parents of these soldiers, who were earlier reluctant to talk to this correspondent on the issue for the fear of being branded as “encashing” the death of their children into monetary terms, says, “Though we do not need any money from the civic body as we have already lost our beloved children who were most precious to us, but they way these politicians and officials have tried to encash the sentiments of the bereaved families during the funerals and bhog ceremonies by announcing grants to attract political mileage is highly deplorable.”

“Ask the Mayor and the Commissioner of the MC, why they are so indifferent towards the families of these martyrs, who have laid down their lives in fighting the enemies of the nation.

I am surprised and shocked over the indifferent attitude of the civic officials, who announced two years back that a statue of my son would be installed at Kapurthala Chowk but no action has been taken in this regard so far, let aside grant of any monetary help,” rued Mr Ravi Dada, father of Major Raman Dada, who was killed in Operation Rhino on May 2, 1999.

Most of the parents say, “We are proud of our children who lost their lives fighting the enemy to maintain the sovereignty and integrity of the nation, but the indifferent attitude of bureaucrats and the Mayor of the MC has certainly hurt our feelings.”

When contacted the Mayor admitted that the civic body has failed to organise a function to honour these families.

“We will organise a special state-level function at Pushpa Gujral Hall of the MC in August and the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, will distribute cheques of monetary help worth Rs 1 lakh each to the kin of martyrs. The prevailing political scenario here has led to this lapse on our part,” Mr Sehgal added.


Punjab police team scales 20,887-ft peak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 27
A Punjab police team successfully scaled Mount Kalanag, a peak situated at a height of 20,887 feet, on June 16. Stating this, the team leader Mr P.M. Dass, IGP, said the peak was situated in Garhwal region of the Himalayas in Uttaranchal.

Eight members of the team were able to reach the summit, he said.

The police team trained hard to scale the peak before it left for the mountains on June 3 from Jalandhar.

The expedition was flagged off by Mr Sarabjit Singh, DGP. Mr Dass said instructors at the Nehru Institute of Mountaineering, Uttarkashi, were of great help.

The team members braved hostile weather conditions to reach the top.

The other members of the team included Mr Mohan Lal, Mr Gurbachan Singh, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Daulat Singh Negi, Ms Nari Dhami (instructor), Mr Bhagat Singh Rawat (guide) and Mr Chandan Singh (porter).

Mr Dass, who was a member of the successful 1996 Everest expedition, said he had also written a book, “Storms amd sunset in the Himalayas” which had an exclusive account of his adventures in mountain-climbing.


Badal to visit USA for eye operation?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal may go abroad for eye surgery.

According to sources close to the Chief Minister’s Office, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been complaining of blurred vision and problem of focus in one eye. Top eye surgeons have been consulted. They have recommended surgery. The sources said that other options, including surgery at a Chennai based eye institute, are also being considered. In case the required facility is not possible within the country, Mr Badal may fly to the USA in the first half of July for operation.


Chemists oppose govt move
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
The Punjab Chemists Association has opposed a move by the state government to give more powers to DSPs and SMOs to check the illegal sale of prescription drugs at the chemists shops.

In a statement issued here, Mr Harish Chander Sethi, working president of the association, said that the move would create more problems than it would solve. “This move is ill-conceived as the DSPs and SMOs are not technically competent for this job. It is the drug inspectors who are trained for this job and are the competent authority as per the provisions for the Drugs and Cosmetic Act, 1945, which is a Central Act, under which licences are granted to sell, stock or exhibit the drugs throughout the country”.

He said that the government should appoint more drug inspectors, every district should have its own drug inspectors who would ensure more checking and compliance of the act. At present, there are only eight such inspectors looking after 18 districts of Punjab.


Convict released on bail
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 27
The duty magistrate, Mansa, Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, has released on bail Amrik Singh, who was convicted on May 17. Special judge A.S. Kathuria had sentenced Amrik Singh to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 12 years and imposed a fine of Rs 1 lakh on him.


Farmers run diesel engines on LPG
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 27
Farmers of the region have started running their tubewell motors on gas cylinders instead of diesel to draw underground water for irrigating their fields.

To tackle frequent power cuts, shortage of canal water and the rising price of diesel, the farmers, in association with mechanics, have developed methods to run engines on liquefied petroleum gas (LPG). Apart from running diesel engines on LPG, farmers have also started using their tractors for drawing underground water for irrigating their fields by running the same on LPG.

Mr Sukhpal Singh, a farmer of Bathinda district, told The Tribune that after carrying out modifications in the engine and the tractor, these could be run successfully on kitchen gas. He said the modification was not expensive.

It may be mentioned here that a number of car owners have started converting their car engines to the LPG made to run their vehicles as it has been costing them less on fuel as compared to petrol. The farmers, who have been running engines on LPG, pointed out that a pipe was joined with the air cleaner section and with it the LPG cylinder was joined. After that the engine worked very smoothly, they said.

Another farmer, Mr Kehar Singh, pointed out that the cost of running tractors on LPG was much cheaper than running the same on diesel. He said that according to estimates, a tractor consumed about seven litres of diesel in 10 hours’ operation while the consumption of LPG in the same duration was about 3 kg, which was much cheaper.


Arhtiyas seek ‘fair’ relief distribution
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 27
Local arhtiyas have urged the state government to initiate immediate steps for the “fair” distribution of relief among those paddy growers who could not get the minimum support price (MSP) against the paddy sold by them in the last procurement season.

Mr Ravinder Singh Cheema, vice-president of the Punjab Arhtiyas Association, said here today that though the Union Government had released Rs 100 crore for distributing the relief, due to the criterion fixed by the Punjab Government, a large number of farmers would be deprived of the relief. He said that as per the criterion, only those paddy growers could get relief whose sale of paddy had been recorded in PR No. 6 maintained by the Food and Civil Supplies Department and the auction register maintained by the Market Committee.

Mr Cheema said that in many cases the record of paddy sold had been kept in one register. Thus farmers would not be able to get relief, as announced by the government, despite the fact that market fee and purchase tax in these cases had been deposited, he said.

Mr Cheema has demanded that the Punjab Government should remove the conditions immediately so that farmers who sold their produce at less prices could also be compensated along with other beneficiaries of the relief.


Patiala to have new admn complex soon
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 27
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) will be completing the district administration complex (DAC) construction at a cost of Rs 30 crore within a span of 14 months.

Disclosing this in a statement issued here today, the PUDA Chief Administrator, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said the complex, which is being executed by the engineering wing of PUDA, would be constructed according to the guidelines of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).

He said the project would be funded out of the sale proceeds of various non-utilised government properties in Patiala or other places in the state. He said the work in respect of other DACs at Moga and Bathinda would also commence in the next two months or so.

Giving details of the project, Mr Sidhu said the complex would be spread over an area of 8.50 acres of land. The architectural design of the complex has been prepared under the supervision of the Chief Architect, Punjab, Mr P.R.Luthra.

Mr Sidhu added that the modern RCC frame structure building consists of four different blocks for the Deputy Commissioner, police wing, allied wing and general wing. Apart from the single-window system and air-conditioned building, the other chief features of the building would be segregation of public and official entry.

Various amenities like lifts, fire extinguishers, ramp for handicapped persons, land scaping and proper ventilation have also been incorporated.

PUDA has also planned a prime residential colony, Phulkian Enclave, under the Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Lands (OUVGL) scheme on about 30 acres of land just adjacent to the proposed new complex.

A total of 265 residential plots of sizes varying from 160 square yards to 500 square yards have been planned where all basic amenities will be provided.


EC Secretary visits Sunam
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 27
Mr C.R. Brahmam, Secretary, Election Commission of India, visited the town yesterday to seek suggestions regarding the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs) in the assembly as well as parliamentary elections in the near future.

Mr Praneet Bhardwaj, SDM, Sunam, who was returning officer for the Sunam Assembly byelection in September last year, said Mr Brahmam had sought suggestions from him regarding the use of EVMs and problems faced by him in the Sunam Assembly byelection with regard to the use of EVMs.

When this correspondent asked the SDM whether the EC Secretary had visited with regard to a complaint against faulty machines made by the SHSAD in the Sunam byelection, Mr Bhardwaj said the Secretary had not visited for this purpose as the commission had already filed the complaint of the SHSAD.

Mr Bhardwaj further said the Secretary of the commission would also visit other constituencies where elections had been conducted on EVMs in the past in the state. 


Power board seeks funds from govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 27
Top brass of the Punjab State Electricity Board led by Chairman G.S. Sohal today met the State’s Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh to seek more funds for the board.

The Government had promised to give Rs 250 crore to the board to bail it out from the financial crisis. Capt Kanwaljit Singh said the first instalment of Rs 30 crore was released to the Board by the Government last month. Almost equal amount would be released in next few days. He said that the Board would be paid the money in instalments by the Government.

The Board is passing through the worst financial crisis. It has no money even to meet its most urgent requirements like maintaining the inventory of transformers, conductor wire, etc.

At the Administrative level, the Board is also facing problems. Some of its top officials are facing inquiries for very serious irregularities and lapses.


Bid to abduct ‘reincarnated’ child
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 27
Resemblance of a one-month son of a migrant to his dead son and an urge to raise the infant as his own child drove Riasat to abduct the child while his parents were fast asleep in their hutment in Rajinder Nagar during the wee hours of the morning.

This was not a simple case of abduction, but a sad story of a mason who became an aimless wanderer after losing his wife and infant son in an LPG cylinder explosion in his home at Sultanpur township in Uttar Pradesh.

On reaching Jalandhar when he saw Vinesh, son of a migrant labourer hailing from Karnataka, playing in the lap of his mother in her hut in the Rajinder Nagar slums he was struck by Vinesh’s resemblance to his deceased son. He thought his son had been reincarnated as Vinesh. When the child was sleeping alongside his parents at night Riasat quietly took him away. He had barely covered some distance when the infant woke up and started crying. The mason started playing with the child till the little one went back to sleep.

Riasat landed in police custody who had been informed by worried parents and relatives about the absence of Vinesh from his home. Police officials heaved a sigh of relief when they saw a middle-aged man trying to comfort a crying child near the District Administrative Complex T-Point.

The frisking of Riasat, according to the police version, led to the seizure of a .315 bore country-made pistol along with two cartridges.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said the investigation into the case had been entrusted to DSP Rakesh Kaushal. The child has been restored to his parents.


Headless body found
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 27
The headless body of Sunil Thakur, son of Hari Thakur, resident of Damdaha in Purnia district a farm labourer, was found near the tubewell of Vikram Singh Saini at Lambra village this morning. The murderer brutally killed Sunil Thakur. He chopped off the head, feet and arms of Sunil and him hit in the abdomen with an axe. The head was missing while the chopped off feat and arms were lying near the body. It was a horrifying scene.

On the complaint of Parkash Thakur, who hails from Sunil Thakur’s village and is working at Lambra as a farm labourer, the Hariana police has registered a case under Section 302 and 34 of the IPC. He told the police that 10 to 15 farm labourers of Purnia district were living in the village. Sunil Thakur used to take meals with them and slept at the tubewell of Vikram Singh where he was employed for the last so many years. He said last night Sunil took his meal as usual with them at 9 p.m. and left for the tubewell to sleep at about 9.30 p.m.

When Parkash and the others went to the fields early this morning they found the headless body of Sunil Thakur. They immediately informed Vikram Singh Saini and the Sarpanch of the village. They also searched for the head everywhere but it was not traceable. He suspected that Parminder Singh of the same village had killed Sunil Thakur as he had enmity with the victim and had threatened to kill him.


Three booked in eve-teasing case
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 27
The Barnala police has booked three persons in a case of eve-teasing and harassment of a woman under Sections 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Suppression of Immoral Traffic Act, 1956. The case was registered on June 13 at Kotwall police station, Barnala.

It is alleged that some bigwigs of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, including a minister, an MLA and a woman activist, had tried to exert pressure on the police to soft-pedal the issue.

Sources revealed that a woman passenger became a victim of the evil intentions of a gang of six persons on the night of May 12.

The woman, travelling by train from Saharanpur to Bathinda, got down at Barnala railway station taking it to be Bathinda railway station. Expressing sympathy, six persons allegedly took her to a railway employee’s house and misbehaved with her.

It is reliably learnt that there was a clash between two persons inside the house and as one person had to be admitted to hospital after he was injured. Police personnel at the station allegedly whisked away the woman to ward off an awkward situation.

On learning about the incident from media reports, the police, on June 11, called six persons to the Barnala police station for interrogation.

On being asked about the progress in the case, the police said it was helpless since there was no complainant in the case. In the wake of the media reports, the police had to register a case.

When the police summoned an STD-PCO owner, a tea stall owner and two railway men, some SAD bigwigs allegedly started exerting pressure on the police to soft-pedal the issue.

In fact, The Tribune story “Police pressured to hush up eve-teasing case”, dated June 12, did mention that a gang, led by a sweetmaker having an influence in the SAD circles, and including a tea stall owner, some railway employees and an STD-PCO owner had been involved in cases of eve-teasing and sexual abuse in the railway station area.

Ironically, the police has registered the case against three persons, leaving out three others.


9 kg of opium seized, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 27
The Julkan police has arrested four persons in two separate incidents under the Narcotics Act and seized 9 kg of opium from them.

According to police sources three persons were arrested after having crossed over from Haryana into Punjab in a car.

When they were asked to stop their car at a naka laid by the Julkan police, one of the occupants - who was later identified as Tilak Raj - managed to escape. They said the other occupants of the car - Parshish Jain, Himmat and Jatinder Singh Bobby were nabbed on the spot.

In another incident Amarjit Singh of Teori village of Shahbad was arrested with 2 kg of opium under the Julkan police station area.

Police sources said a case under the Narcotics Act had been registered against the accused and they had been presented before the Illaqa Magistrate today.


Gang of thieves busted, 6 arrested
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 27
The police has busted a gang of thieves with the arrest of six persons. Stolen material and some arms have been seized. According to Mr Ajay Malooja, DSP, a deserted house at Jorki Kankarwali village was raided and Rakesh Kumar, alias Bablu, Ashok Kumar, alias Pappi, Raj Kumar and Vijay Kumar, all residents of Fazilka and Swaran Singh and Gurdeep Singh were arrested. They were reportedly planning to commit a dacoity.

One of their accomplices identified as Malak, escaped. The police has seized an air gun and sharp-edged weapons and sticks.

A revolver, a pistol and two cartridges, besides a whole lot of other things. Mr Malooja said the gang was involved in several thefts.

A case under Sections 399, 402, 25, 54 and 59 IPC, has been registered.


Two impostors arrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 27
Two persons posing as CID inspector and head constable were arrested by the Sadar police last evening.

According to an FIR, Manjit Singh of Pandori Phugurian was going back home on his tractor-trailer after selling his maize crop when Arwinder Singh of Sarhala Kalan and Kamaljit Singh of Hakumatpur stopped him and inquired about the missing number plate.

When Manjit Singh asked about their identity, Arwinder Singh posed as CID inspector and Kamaljit Singh as constable. Both demanded Rs 200 from him for not challaning his tractor.

However, a police party reached the spot and arrested them. During interrogation, Arwinder Singh revealed that he was a registered medical practitioner. A case under Sections 341, 506 and 34, IPC, has been registered against them.


Multi-faceted training at camp
Raj Sadosh

As many as 300 NCC cadets from schools and colleges participated in a combined training camp organised after a gap of four years here. This was the first camp of the session in the Ludhiana zone, clearance for which had been given by the Group Commandant, Col P.S. Bedi.

As many as 100 girls (senior wing) were selected for the camp from Gopi Chand Arya Mahila College, G.D. Senior Secondary School, Abohar, Khalsa College for Girls, Sidhwan Khurd, Government Senior Secondary School for Girls, Gidderbaha, and Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Guruharsahai. Nearly 200 boys were selected from DAV College, Government Senior Secondary School and G.D. Senior Secondary School, all in Abohar, Government Senior Secondary School, Khuiyansarwer, Government Senior Secondary School, Karnikhera, Government Senior Secondary School, DAV Senior Secondary School, S.D. Senior Secondary School and Army School, Fazilka.

The camp was inaugurated by Col Bachittar Singh Saunkhla, Officer Commanding, 2 Punjab Independent Company of the NCC. The cadets were imparted training by a team which included NCC officers Iqbal Singh Godara, Jitender Kaur and Surender Pal. In all, 16 NCOs were deputed for the camp. The AMC had set up a dispensary for the participants.

Cadets used to get up early in the morning and do physical training and yoga at 6 a.m. This was followed by parade and activities relating to leadership training, civil defence, first aid, hygiene and sanitation, awareness of drug abuse, assistance to the civil authorities, water conservation, national integration, map reading, field craft, firing at the range, drill and weapon training, ecology and social service programmes.

At the camp a kitchen was run for the cadets.

Colonel Saunkhla said that the training was aimed at developing leadership, discipline, courage, moral and national character, comradeship and other qualities required to become a good citizen.

The camp was also meant to train and motivate the youth to join the Army. The military station authorities here extended full cooperation to make the camp a success.

An exhibition of weapons and signal systems was arranged. A cultural programme was also held.

Besides, a blood donation camp was organised under the guidance of Dr Gobind Aggarwal of Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital.


Literacy scheme in limbo
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 27
The Total Literacy Mission, launched in the district about three years ago by Mrs Ravneet Kaur the then Deputy Commissioner, appears to have been abandoned. Reportedly not a single centre for the spread of literacy under the scheme is functional in the district.

According to official sources, Gurdaspur district was chosen under the scheme by the Centre. The district was promised a grant of more than Rs 1 crore which was to be shared in a fixed ratio between the Centre and the state.

The Central government, soon after taking the district under the scheme, released an instalment of Rs 25 lakh. Preparations for expediting the scheme were started and 1.25 lakh persons were identified to be made literate. The scheme aimed to impart training to persons in the age group of 15-35.

As many as 1,500 trainers from schools and non-governmental organisations were chosen to take up the scheme. Places for teaching the illiterate were also identified. However, the amount received by the Centre was exhausted, which slowed down the implementation of the scheme.

The Punjab Government reportedly did not contribute its share and the Centre also stopped the release of more funds in this regard. The district has had four Deputy Commissioners since the inception of the scheme. 


ITI students block traffic
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 27
Students of the local ITI today blocked traffic for about two hours in front of the main gate of the ITI on the Sunam-Patiala road here on a call for bandh given by the Punjab Students Union.

The students were protesting against the non-acceptance of their demands, including the withdrawal of hike in fees, stopping privatisation of education and shift system in ITIs.

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