Friday, June 29, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong chargesheet against Badal govt
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, June 28
The Punjab Congress, whose campaign for the coming Assembly poll is picking up, is striving to be one up on the ruling Akali Dal in making promises to the electorate. The party promises to provide free power not only to the farmers but also to the weaker sections.

Though the Assembly elections are still eight months away, the party is in the process of finalising its election manifesto. The party has prepared a charge-sheet against the Badal government and a ‘Vision 2001-2006’ statement which will form the basis for the party’s manifesto. The party has set up 14 sub-committees which are working on various sections of the manifesto.

The Punjab Congress chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, told The Tribune here that since 52 per cent farmers in the state owned less than 2.5 acres of land, giving free power to farmers was justified. He said that annual income of these farmers was less than the per capita income of the state and any additional financial burden on them would make their condition worse.

Sensing the vote potential of freebies, the Congress has also decided to extend these to weaker sections. “Such a step would lead to an additional financial burden of only Rs 36 crore,” Capt Amarinder Singh said.

Asked about differences among party leaders on the leadership issue, the PCC chief said efforts would be made to take everyone along. He felt that party’s intention about not projecting any candidate for the post of Chief Minister would not affect its chances in the Assembly poll. Adding, however, that there would not be a leadership vacuum in taking on the Akali Dal, the PCC chief said, “I am leading the party as PCC president.”

The Congress, Mr Amarinder Singh said, would do away with octroi in the state which had led to “inspector raj.” Such a step is expected to fetch the party support of the trading community. He said that the decision would cost the state exchequer Rs 460 crore and other ways would be found to make up for the loss.

Trying to match the Akali Dal in doling out promises, the Congress has already announced that members of certain civic bodies in rural and urban areas would be paid salaries by the government.

Ruling out the possibility of alliance with the BSP “which had charted a new course,’’ the PCC chief said that talks would be held with the CPI for seat adjustment. There was also a possibility of reaching an accord with the CPM, he said.


‘Path bodh samagam’ concludes
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, June 28
The month-long ‘path bodh samagam’ (recitation of Gurbani) concluded here today on the note that more such functions would be held in future. Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SGPC President, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Baba Santa Singh, president 96 Crori Budha Dal, were present on the occasion. The presence of Giani Kewal Singh at the concluding function of ‘path bodh’ came as a surprise to many as it was only for the second time that he had attended the function. He did not attend the month-long programme except its inaugural function.

The speakers on the occasion were of the view that no alteration should be made with Gurbani. They said there was no need to use grammar while reciting Gurbani. Mr Santa Singh said Damdami Taksal, which was the main organiser of the programme, was in existence at the time of Guru. He said during the past few years it had become inactive therefore the people had started drifting away from Sikhism.

He said the efforts of the Taksal should be appreciated in holding the ‘path bodh’ so that the students should learn the right way to recite Gurbani. He said there was a need for more such programmes to be held in the state. He said the Jatha Bhindran had taught the students the right way of reciting of Gurbani.

Mr Puran Singh said those who dared to challenge the authority of Guru Granth Sahib were working on the instructions of the anti-Panthic forces. He said there was no need to form any type of committee to prove the authenticity of Dasam Granth. He added that even the slightest change could not be made in Guru Granth Sahib. He said Gurbani should be recited as it was written by the Gurus.

Jathedar Vedanti said there was need to find a solution to the problem faced by the Sikh community. He said there was no need to create controversy regarding the ‘path bodh’, adding that more such programmes should be held.

The Akal Takht Jathedar said those who belonged to the Nirmal sect should also be included in the programme. He said there was no need to use grammar while reciting Gurbani. He said it should be recited as it was written by the Gurus.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi said maryada as was followed by the Jatha Bhindran was right. He said the ‘path bodh’ function was organised here with the intention that people of the area should learn about recitation of Gurbani. He said there was no need to create differences among the different taksals. During the function a memorandum was also presented to the Jathedar, Akal Takht. The Jathedar was urged to make sure that no change was made in Gurbani while printing Guru Granth Sahib. It further demanded that those who publish the Granth according to their sweet will and drift away from the pure form of the same should be punished according to the Sikh traditions.

It further demanded that special arrangement should be made for the spread of Sikhism in the country.

After the conclusion of the function the foundation stone for a new gurdwara was laid near Takht Damdama Sahib. The gurdwara was named after Mata Sahib Kaur, Sundar Kaur. The kar sewa for the gurdwara is being undertaken by Mr Harbans Singh of Delhi. The foundation stone was laid by Mr Talwandi, Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Vedanti and Mr Harbans Singh.


Giani Kewal Singh breathes easy
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, June 28
Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takhat Damdama Sahib, has heaved a sigh of relief for the time being as the concluding function of the “path bodh” programme went off peacefully here today.

There were speculations that the last day of the “path bodh” programme might prove crucial for Giani Kewal Singh as his opponents were likely to put the demand for his resignation before Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC.

Although Mr Talwandi was present here for over seven hours, nothing happened which could be said to be crucial for the Jathedar. Besides, Talwandi, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, and Mr Santa Singh, President, 96 Crori Budha Dal, were present on the occasion.

The silence of the opponents of Giani Kewal Singh, who had been preparing to make the maximum of the occasion, created speculations among those present as they had held demonstrations in the past many days seeking his ouster.

Giani Kewal Singh did not involve himself much with the “path bodh” programme although he was supposed to actively participate in it.

He attended the opening function of the programme but was not seen after that.

People were expecting a high drama in the presence of Mr Talwandi, Mr Vedanti and others, but nothing happened.

An opponent of Giani Kewal Singh said they had met Mr Talwandi and had urged him to take action against the Jathedar within a month. He said if action was not taken they would launch an agitation.

Giani Kewal Singh seemed relaxed today. Sources said some sort of understanding might have been reached between the two factions.


Akali factions should unite, says Vedanti
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, June 28
Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht said here today he wanted all warring factions of the Akalis to unite so that the people of Punjab could get a true Panthic government.

Mr Vedanti, who was addressing mediapersons at the residence of Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, here today said he had been making efforts that all factions of the Akali Dal should come on one platform. However, he declined to reply the question when he was asked if he would get any response from the leader of the factions of the Akali Dal. He said at present he could not say what fruit his efforts would born but he would try his best in the direction.

Commenting upon the menace of intoxicants in the state, he said the trend should be curbed as early as possible. He said anti-Panthic forces were spreading drug abuse.

Talking about the publishing of the ‘birs’ by private publishers, he said there should be some restrictions for such publishers. He said the publishers from Ludhiana, against whom some complaints were received that they had made some changes while publishing some portion of Guru Granth Sahib, had sought a written apology from Akal Takht.


Chohan has realised futility of violence: police
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
“Demanding ‘Khalistan’ does not constitute an offence,” believes the police thus setting at rest the speculations that the statement made by Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan on reaching SAS Nagar after 21 year’s exile last night may land him in trouble.

“It is a settled law that making a demand for Khalistan does not constitute any offence. There is an Apex Court ruling on this in the case of Khalsa Raj Party,” say the police officials maintaining that “unless such a demand is accompanied by seditious activities, no action could be initiated against the person concerned”

Dr Chohan, soon after his arrival here, made clear his intentions of “continuing to work for Khalistan in a peaceful manner”.

Though the security and intelligence agencies would keep a watch both on the activities and utterances of this Khalistani ideologue yet they would like to avoid any direct interaction with him.

“He came here only yesterday and we do not foresee any problem. At present there is no thinking at any level of any security cover for him,” said a senior police official.

“When we arrested Wassan Singh Zaffarwal, some threats were made to liquidate him. Basically, they all are spent forces and now have reconciled to the reality that there was nothing they could do through militant violence. Their utterances and statements of taking to peaceful means for carrying forward their struggle for Khalistan amounts to an indirect submission before the law,” remarked another police officer.

The Director-General of Police, Punjab, Mr Sarabjit Singh, said that at present there was no case against Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan and there would be no police objection on his activities unless these were “subversive” and in “violation of the law of the land”.

The return of the two big players of the Khalistani movement, one after the other, within three months of each other, believe the political circles here, was not possible without the patronage of the State government.

Both the Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP have been maintaining that law would take its own course against all such persons facing criminal or other cases here and who wanted to return to their motherland.

On the other hand, major political parties have been accusing both the SAD and the BJP of being “hand-in-glove” with Khalistani ideologues and other wanted militants and claiming that the ruling party wanted to “rehabilitate these fugitives from law politically.” Though the charge has been vehemently denied by the government yet needle of suspicion still points towards the State.

The critics also argue that how come there has been a “change of heart suddenly in the last four months and not during past more than four years”. The answer remains elusive.


Chohan had passion for Hindi films
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Tanda Urmur (Hoshiarpur), June 28
Most people see Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan as Khalistani ideologue who formed the Council of Khalistan, but they may not be aware of his passion for films and the efforts he made for partly bringing Bollywood to Punjab.

Another hidden aspect of the Khalistani leader is that he was a Communist leader before joining the Akalis and his rise to the position of the Punjab Finance Minister in the Lachman Singh Gill Cabinet in 1967.

Dr Chohan loved Hindi films and strove to persuade the Bollywood bigwigs like Raj Kapoor to partly settle in Punjab. His logic lay in the fact that the Hindi film industry was almost ruled by Punjabis, particularly in the sixties. When he became the Finance Minister in October 1967, the first task he undertook was go to Mumbai where he held serious rounds of parleys with stars like Raj Kapoor, Rajinder Kumar and actor-dancer Manohar Deepak.

Mr Tarsem Singh, who was political secretary to Dr Chohan, said Dr Chohan was interested in bringing the film industry here since it was his view that this could boost the economy of the state. Mr Tarsem Singh is also an uncle of Dr Chohan and is looking after Dr Chohan’s residence here. He waited for Dr Chohan till late in the evening along with his supporters to welcome him home. But then he was told that Dr Chohan might not be able to make it as his anticipatory bail application had reportedly been rejected by the Punjab and Haryana High Court this afternoon. Tarsem Singh himself unsuccessfully contested the Tanda assembly segment as an Akali candidate in 1972 and the aborted 1991 poll.

Dr Chohan, sources said, was a Communist leader for about three years, before he started leaning towards the Akali party in 1959, when at the same time he started establishing himself as a doctor and an Akali leader. He contested as an independent from the Tanda constituency in 1962 but was defeated by Akali heavy-weight Giani Kartar Singh. What drifted him away from the Leftist ideology, according to Mr Tarsem Singh, was his displeasure over the fact that in Communist hierarchy, a budding and young leader had no place. “He used to spend money from his pockets, but when it came to distribution of tickets, the Communist leadership would turn away, saying that there were people who were senior to him,” said Mr Tarsem Singh. And what made him strike a discordant note with moderate Akalis was his visit to England in 1971 and his observation that states enjoyed more rights in the West and people were more free to express their opinion in the press. “He wanted the same system here. That is why he raised his voice for Khalistan for he thought the level of freedom in the West was not possible in the then Indian system,” said Mr Tarsem Singh.


PHRC rescues family 
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, June 28
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission finally has come to the rescue of a resident of Amritsar, Mr Shamsher Singh and members of his family detained illegally by the Punjab Police. The Commission has directed the Senior Superintendent of Police, Majitha, not to submit the chargesheet against the victim or his family in a case of dowry death till further orders.

The brother of the victim, Mr Kulbir Singh, had moved the commission against the illegal detention of Mr Shamsher Singh and members of his family in a criminal case of mental and physical harassment — registered against the latter’s brother. He had been named a co- accused in the case.

On January 5, Mr Shamsher Singh and two of his women relatives were picked up by ASI Tarlok Singh of Buttar Police Post. The women were also kept in custody for hours and released only with a direction to come again to the police station whenever the police required them. However, Mr Shamsher Singh, was kept in illegal detention even thereafter.

It was alleged that the complainant was forced to sign certain documents under orders of DSP, Baba Bakala by the police in Majitha District. It was stated in the documents that the complainant and his brother were to pay Rs two lakhs to the deceased, Ms Balwinder Kaur, wife of Sardul Singh, brother of the complainant. The complainant and his brothers refused to pay the amount as it was un-warranted.

Then the complainant moved a Habeas Corpus writ petition in the High Court. The High Court had appointed a Warrant Officer to visit the spot. The victim, Mr Shamsher Singh, was found in the illegal detention when the warrant officer visited the Mehta police station. The Warrant Officer was not shown Daily Diary, even Register was not available when the Warrant Officer visited both the places on January 8, in the morning. It was alleged that after tampering with the record, Mr Shamsher Singh, and his family members were falsely implicated in a criminal case.

The complainant complained to the SSP Gurdaspur and Majitha about the wrongful detention of Shamsher Singh and false implication of other persons. It was mentioned therein that Balwinder Kaur had been killed by Lakha Singh and her other family members at her parent’s house. It was also pointed out that Balwinder Kaur was residing with them. The murder took place in the jurisdiction of the Sri Hargobindpur Police Station. It was stated in the complaint that the illegal detention of Mr Shamsher Singh and taking women to the police station was a violation of Human Rights and Liberty.

Due to wrongful detention and false implication tampering of the record, Shamsher Singh, was entitled to a compensation of Rs 1 lakh. The complainant, his family members and other relations are also entitled to compensation of Rs 50,000 each.


Arms depot to have clearance zone
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 28
The district administration and the Army authorities have started taking steps to create a clearance zone around the ammunition depot of the local military station to avoid any loss of human life and property in case of any mishappening.

For creating the clearance zone and for strengthening the security of the ammunition depot, the district administration and the Army authorities have been contemplating to acquire 600 acres adjoining the ammunition depot to make it a buffer zone. Besides, the Army authorities have agreed to deposit Rs 28 lakh with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to shift five high-tension wires outside the military station.

With the setting up of the ammunition depot and oil dumps close to each other, the city has been sitting on a powder-keg as the authorities concerned have failed to take necessary steps to prevent any disaster.

Some villagers, including Phoos Mandi, Bhagoo and Gulabgarh, fall nearby and villagers have been cultivating their land which touches the boundary of the ammunition depot.

After harvesting the paddy and wheat crops, some farmers burn the remnants which can result in a disaster.

The villagers are, however, in the grip of fear following the fire incidents at the Bharatpur and the Jammu ammunition depots.

Construction within a radius of 1,000 yards around the local ammunition depot continued while the authorities concerned remained a mute spectator. The oil dumps came up near the ammunition depot despite the fact that the Ministry of Defence issued a notification on February 26, 1979, that 1,000 yards around it should be kept as a clearance zone.

The Army authorities also wrote to the district administration after the Bharatpur ammunition depot fire incident and urged them to clear 2,000 yards around the ammunition depot expeditiously. They urged the district administration to give requisite priority to the task and said the depot would not be responsible for any damage to civil property and life occurring within 2,000 yards of the depot perimeter.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that things could not move in the right direction as the district administration was blaming the Army authorities saying that it remained a mute spectator when the oil dumps were being set up close to the depot.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said a joint team of the district administration and Army personnel had been constituted to make a list of those buildings which fall within the 1,000-yard radius of the depot. The team would also prepare a list of those buildings which had come up in the area without any sanction, he added.


Tussle between 2 groups in Beas
Tribune News Service

Beas (Jalandhar) June 28
Tension has gripped this town over the tussle between followers of two religious groups over possession of historical Dera Baba Beas, said to be associated with Rishi Ved Vyasa.

Two groups of followers led by Rattan Chand Rishi, who is head of the Ved Vyasa Kund Sabha, and Faqir Singh, heading the Baba Beas Dera Sabha, have come out to claim their right over the dera. This might create a law and order problem during the five-day annual fair scheduled to start at the dera from June 29, particularly, when both the groups claim patronage of both the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress.

The town and the dera are important from the historical point of view for it is said the Beas used to flow adjacent to the town and Rishi Ved Vyasa used to invoke God at the place where the dera is situated now. The dera has a large number of followers among both Hindus and Sikhs and they converge here during the annual five-day fair, which has been an epitome of communal harmony since decades.

But what put the lace in the eye of the storm after 1997 was political interference and efforts by the two groups to dominate each other. So much so that for the past three years, one of the groups has been holding possession of the dera while the other group has control over the “golak” of the place.

Rattan Chand Rishi alleged the problem started in 1997 after Akali Dal came to power and when Faqir Singh, former sarpanch of Beas, tried to avenge his defeat in the panchayat election and started trying to coerce a group of followers to get hold of the dera keys on the pretext of storing some material being used in the construction of a nearby gurdwara. He said according to the written agreement at that time the keys had to be returned after completion of the gurdwara building, but the promise was not kept till June 19 this year when the panchayat had to intervene and persuade him to return the keys of the dera. He alleged the keys of the “golak” were still with the group led by Faqir Singh, who had patronage of the ruling Akali Dal.

Faqir Singh, however, has refuted the allegations being levelled by Rishi and his group and maintained it was a common place of worship for one and all. He mounted an attack on the other group by alleging that some members of the group were trying to link the place to one particular religion. He asserted that the sabha headed by him was duly registered and it would maintain its hold over the place.

Meanwhile, the district police authorities have decided to maintain law and order at every cost and to provide a security umbrella at the place to ward off the possibility of any untoward incident during the annual fair.


11 SGPC men given performance report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Nearly 10 per cent of SGPC members have submitted their performance report on the call of the Dal Khalsa at the fag-end of the five-year term of the general house.

The Dal Khalsa has sought the performance report which was opposed by SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi. He had directed the members not to submit any report to the Dal Khalsa as it had no locus standi to seek a performance report from elected members.

In an affidavit, Mr Bharpur Singh Khalsa writes, “I feel ashamed of being a member of that house which had degraded jathedars and denigrated the Sikh institutes”. Another member, Tarlochan Singh said, “It is a matter of concern that members are not allowed to touch real issues during the SGPC’s general house”. He also expressed displeasure that the SGPC chief rarely fulfilled the promises made during the meeting.

Mr Gurvinder Singh Shampur, another member, alleged that he had caught a “patit (apostate) member with trimmed mustaches and handed over to the jathedar. However, the high priest did not take any action against him.

Out of total 170 members, about 10 members have died during the past four and a half years. Only 11 members responded to the call of the Dal Khalsa as they had submitted their affidavits, pledging that they had worked as per Sikh “rehat maryada” and were true Sikhs.

Based on the affidavits submitted by the 11 members, the Dal Khalsa sub-committee comprising Mr Satnam Singh, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, Mr Satbir Singh Sandhu, Mr Sarbjit Singh and Mr Gurmej Singh would submit its report to the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti.

The five-member committee concluded that there was a need to launch another gurdwara reform movement as most of the SGPC members who were elected by Sikh voters did not have the courage to submit their written performance to Akal Takht even after the deadline. It concluded that most of the SGPC members had been working against the “rehat maryada” as “dera culture” had dominated due to vested interests. The SGPC members would attend the functions at mazars with a view to strengthening their vote bank.

The 11 SGPC members, including those of the ruling party, Tohra faction and Mann faction, who have submitted their affidavits are, Mr Kewal Singh (Mubai), Tarlochan Singh (Mamdot), Mr Jaswant Singh Taan (Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr Jaswant Singh (Rajindergarh), Giani Baldev Singh (Chaugawan), Mr Jassa Singh Ahluwalia (Mandi Gobindgarh), Mr Malkiat Singh (Nagpur), Mr Bharpur Singh Khalsa (Haryana), Bibi Kuldip Kaur (Ludhiana), Mr Kashmir Singh (Bariar) and Mr Gurvinder Singh (Shampur).

In its report, the Dal Khalsa concluded that several SGPC members did not work in accordance with the maryada. It alleged that most of the members had more faith in “deras”, alleging that some used the SGPC as a launch pad to enter politics.

Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Giani Kewal Singh had already pointed out that good people should be brought forward to manage the SGPC affairs. The Dal Khalsa claimed that it had taken the initiative to seek the performance report from the members in wake of the wish of the high priests. Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, had already stated that family members of several SGPC members were “patit”.


Ex-minister’s plea rejected

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today rejected an application seeking interim directions in an appeal filed by former minister Manjit Singh Calcutta and another appellant against the orders of a single Judge dismissing their petition for quashing a public notice regarding the alleged dissolution of Amritsar-based Sri Guru Ram Dass Charitable Hospital Trust.

Challenging the orders in their appeal, the appellants earlier had stated that after the trustees were appointed, the SGPC had no authority to induct more persons as there were no vacancies. They had added that the single Judge had erred in ignoring this aspect.

Going into the background, the appellants had stated that they had approached the High Court after, according to a news item, Mr Kulwant Singh and others were appointed as trustees by the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, and a resolution to operate the accounts of the trust was passed. Their petition was later dismissed by the single Judge, counsel for the appellants had added.

Liquor-laden truck’s auction stayed

The High Court on Thursday directed the state of Haryana and other authorities against auctioning a truck carrying 1003 cases of Indian made Foreign Liquor till the petition filed by a Madhya Pradesh-based distillery was decided. The truck had been impounded earlier by Faridabad’s Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner.

In its petition, Som Distilleries Limited had sought directions for quashing an order passed by the respondents imposing a penalty of Rs 3 lakh, besides directions for releasing the truck with liquor cases in it.

Going into the background, counsel for the petitioners had stated that the District Excise Officer at Raisen in MP had certified that the export pass dated May 29 was valid upto June 9. He had added that on June 13, the respondents acting on assumptions, impounded the truck and confiscated the goods.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal also directed the respondent authorities to decide, within three days of receiving the order’s copy, an application seeking stay on the operation of the orders.

Forest Corp DM’s extension stayed

Staying the operation of an order granting six months extension to a Divisional Manager with the Punjab State Forest Development Corporation Limited, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed August 22 as the next date of hearing.

In their petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, the Punjab Forest Rangers and Deputy Rangers Association had initially sought the quashing of an earlier order vide which Mr Baldev Singh, on his retirement from the post, was allowed to continue on contract basis.

Today, arguing before the Bench, counsel for the petitioners stated that Baldev Singh, appointed as Divisional Manager at Phillaur for six months on contract basis by an order dated December 27 last year, was given six months further extension with effect from July 1, 2001.

Terming the action as “illegal, arbitrary and in violation of the rules”, counsel added that the service rules did not permit any extension or re-employment on contract after the employee had attained the age of superannuation.

Notice to SP on parishad’s plea

On a petition filed by the Chairman and General Secretary of the Ferozepur-based Vishab Kisan Kalyan Parishad alleging “maltreatment” by a Deputy Superintendent of Police and another official for pressurising them into withdrawing a petition seeking probe into cheating by the procurement agencies at the time of purchasing paddy, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notices to the two respondents through the Superintendent of Police.

Seeking directions to the officials against harassing them, Chairman Paramjit Singh and General Secretary Hardyal Singh had earlier stated that the two had threatened them with implication in false cases to prevent them from pursuing the petition seeking CBI probe into the conduct of state functionaries and other procurement agencies at the time of purchasing paddy.

After going through the record and hearing counsel for the petitioners, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, issued notices through the SP for July 4.


Alert bus driver averts mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 28
A CTU bus caught fire at the Chaheru railway overbridge on GT Road here today but its passengers had a providential escape.

The alert bus driver Mahant Singh also prevented the bus from rolling down.

The bridge got tilted, disrupting traffic for about an hour. The local fire brigade department extinguished the fire.

It was learnt that the petrol tank got disengaged and caught fire, setting ablaze the rear portion of the bus. However, the driver brought it to a halt and the passengers jumped out.


Drive to oust jhuggi dwellers
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 28
The controversial issue regarding the alleged encroachments by the Vimukt Jatis and other migrant labour on crores of rupees of prime land on the Faridkot-Sadiq road belonging to the market committee of Faridkot adjoining Bhan Singh Colony, Narain Nagar and other nearby colonies took a new turn yesterday when class IV employees of the committee launched an indefinite stir for ousting jhuggi dwellers. The employees have been expressing their resentment by staging dharnas and rallies in front of the committee office.

Talking to this reporter here today, Mr Gopal Singh Sandhu, district president of the employees union, said the employees would not pay any house rent to the committee unless the authorities initiated necessary steps to remove the jhuggis besides constructing a boundary wall around their colony. He claimed the support of many organisations like the Punjab Subordinate Services, Federation, truck union, the Bhartiya Kisan Union and grain dealers. A meeting of all these organisations has also been convened here on July 2 to accelerate the agitation.

On the other hand, Mr Lal Chand, district president of the Vimukt Jatis said about 200 families had been residing in their jhuggis for the past nearly 15 years and had regular ration cards. Moreover, they were also exercising their franchise their regularly in the municipal council, assembly and parliament elections.

A deputation of the inhabitants led by Mr Nirmal Singh Nirmal, national president of Tapriwas and Vimukt Jatis, had recently met the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, who had assured to give a suitable place to them for rehabilitation before removing them from the present place, claimed Mr Lal Chand.

Expressing concern over the indifferent attitude of the market committee failing to take steps for the vacation of the encroached land, Mr Ravindra Bugra, a resident of Bhan Singh Colony, said the inhabitants of all colonies would shortly form a committee to impress on the district administration to take a suitable action to ease the situation. Mr Romesh Kumar, vice-chairman of the market committee, said the district administration had already been apprised of the matter and had been requested to sort out the burning issue amicably. When contacted, Mr A. Venu Prasad said the administration would provide all help to the market committee to settle the issue.


Suit filed against PSEB
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 28
Mr N.K. Garg, a lawyer working for social interest in the city, has filed a suit against authorities of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) in the court of the Civil Judge, Senior Division, for declaration to the effect that the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) is a nuisance for the residents of the city.

Mr Garg alleged that the GNDTP was a source of pollution in the city and because of pollution from the plant, the residents had been suffering ill-health. The imposition of unannounced and unscheduled power cuts on the city has also been challenged by Mr Garg.

The thermal plant, which was situated within local limits of the city, should be closed down and shifted at least 50 km away from the city limits. Due to the location of the plant within the city limits, the residents were legally entitled to regular power supply, the lawyer said in the suit.

The power cuts imposed on the residents had been creating problems for students, patients and industries. Although the residents had been bearing the pollution generated by the GNDTP, even then they had not been provided the facility of power cut free city, said Mr Garg. The defendants have been served summons for July 7, the lawyer added.


Postal stamps not available
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 28
In a complaint to the local Head Postmaster, Mr Swaranjit Singh, a former test-cricketer and honorary life member of the Amritsar Games Association, has complained that the philatelic staff of the post office often refuses to give special new stamps issued by the Department of Posts.

He said, being an NRI, he has many friends and relatives abroad who highly appreciated and added these stamps to their international collection. Mr Swaranjit Singh has urged the authorities concerned to look into the matter. 


Stamp release opposed
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 28
Former Punjab Minister and senior Congress leader Santokh Singh Chaudhary has objected to the commemorative postage stamp released by the Union Communications Minister, Mr Ram Vilash Paswan, on Guru Ravi Das a few days back.

Talking to newspersons here today, Mr Santokh Singh described it, as a political stunt by Mr Paswan to get political mileage.

The Congress leader urged the Union Government to withdraw the objectionable stamp and take stern action against the minister who had insulted the great guru for his political interests. He said the ultimate destination of a stamped letter was the dustbin and this was disgraceful enough if it had a saint’s picture on it.


Shopkeepers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 28
Shopkeepers of the local Gulshan Bazar held a dharna in front of the office of the Municipal Council today in protest against the delay in the construction of roads, which had been dug for laying sewer about five months ago.

Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, senior vice-president of the council, and Mr Surinder Mohan Tejpal, MC, also addressed the dharna. A memorandum was submitted to the Executive Officer.


DC reviews banks’ working
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 28
Deputy Commissioner R. Venkataratnam has said special attention would be given to the recovery positions of loans in banks. He said the main reason for the non-recovery of loans was the wrong use of loan by beneficiaries.

Mr Venkataratnam reviewed the working conditions and progress of various banks of the district and expressed his satisfaction over the functioning of some banks.

He said those banks which were not found up to the mark in their working, would have to face action.

He said if a person purchased an asset with the amount of the loan, there was no reason for its non-payment. To ensure the repayment of the loans, it was decided that an inspection would be done of the loans given under the Prime Minister employment scheme by tehsildars of the district within a month.

It was also decided that the district coordinator of every bank would visit at least one self-help group in a month so that they could be provided with financial help.

He further said that to help those students who had qualified for various medical, engineering and other professional courses and wanted to study in various reputed educational institutions of the country, the banks of the district would give them loan on the basis of their admission.

Mr Venkataratnam said if any student was willing to go abroad for higher studies but the expenditure required for it was unaffordable, then he could apply for the loan. Students aspiring to study abroad could get loan up to Rs 15 lakh.

Officials of various development departments and managers of different banks of the district were present in the meeting.

Mr Venkataratnam issued directions that every bank in the district would provide loan at least to one student within a month of the announcement of the scheme.

He said the loan would be given in the name of the student and the repayment of the loan would be done by the student after he finished his studies and got a job.


Flesh trade racket unearthed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 28
The police has unearthed a flesh trade racket in the city and recovered four girls.

The SSP, Dr Jatinder Jain, in a press note here yesterday said Nirmal Dass of Pakka Kalan village in the district was running a brothel in Misterianwali Gali. He used to bring girls from far off places by promising them good jobs.

He said Nirmal Dass had taken a building on rent from where he operated his ‘business’. A special team of the police personnel was set up and a raid conducted. The police arrested two others, who said they were the ‘customers’. They had been identified as Mulakh Raj, alias Leela, and Jaswinder Singh, alias Jagga residents of Pakka Kalan village in the district, he added.

A case had been registered under Sections 3 and 5 of the Suppression of Immoral Trafficking Act 1956 at Kotwali police station.

The police had recovered Anita Rani, a resident of Raipur of Chhatisgarh district in Madhya Pradesh who was allegedly sold by one Radha Rani, a resident of Phulo Mithi for Rs 20,000 about two years ago. Since then she was living with Nachhatar Singh of Bhagibandar village. Sukhminder Singh of Jaisinghwala village had worked as the mediator between the two. A case had been registered against the culprits at Sangat police station.

Dr Jain said the police had also recovered three girls who were abducted by different persons from different places in the district.

He said Krishan Kaur who was abducted from Kharak Singhwala village was recovered from Gurbakash Singh of the same village. A resident of Bala Ram Nagar and a student of plus two was recovered from one of her classmates residing in the Thermal Colony. The girl was abducted on June 24 from her residence. Another girl, who was missing since June 23 had also been recovered. 


SDM confirms stripping incident
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 28
Mr S.K. Singla, SDM, has conducted an inquiry into the parading of stripped women by warring factions of Neolan border village of this subdivision on Saturday and Sunday.

He has confirmed the incident and sent a report to Deputy Commissioner S.R. Ladhar.

Meanwhile, Mr Ajay Malooja, DSP, briefing mediapersons here today, said Mohinder Singh, Surjit Singh, Phuman Singh, Veer Singh, Kala Singh and Piara Singh have been arrested on charges of molesting women and parading them. He said the remaining nine accused, including four women, shall be arrested soon.


Lawyer booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 28
The police yesterday registered a case of cheating against a lawyer and two others on a report lodged by Balbir Singh, nambardar of Kabulshah Hithar village. According to the FIR, Rakesh Kumar of Fazilka, posing as reader of the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, met him on June 19 and told him that his (Balbir Singh) revenue receipts of 1988 were due and he had to appear in court on June 20. Rakesh Kumar also suggested him to engage a counsel and put forward the name of a lawyer and a resident of Kabulshah Hithar village.

The three are, however, absconding.


Rs 1 lakh snatched from cashier
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 28
Tension prevailed on the Kapurthala-Jalandhar road, near bus stand, when two armed miscreants on a scooter robbed Rs 1 lakh from the cashier of the local transport company yesterday.

According to the police, Surjit, an employee of the local Prince Bus Private Limited, was going towards the bank to deposit the cash. When he was overpowered by the miscreants who snatched the bag containing Rs 1 lakh at gunpoint and fled on the scooter.


School students visit an alien world
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, June 28
It was a new and enriching experience for students of a local convent school when they visited the slums and other backward areas of the city. They found the world of slums totally alien to the one they were living in.

In idea behind the visit was to make the students aware of the hardships of life the slum-dwellers were facing. The students who fell in the category of the “haves,” had a glimpse of the world of the “have-nots”.

Children belonging to well-off families, who never felt any shortage of resources and got whatever they wished, were given a chance to peep into the life of those for whom having two meals a day was considered a luxury.

The visit to the slums was part of the summer camp being organised by the school during the summer vacation. Generally, at such camps, training is given for making soft toys, greeting cards, masks, besides dancing and performing on the stage and other such activities. However, one of the teachers gave the idea to make students aware that there were many people in the world who were not enjoying the basic facilities of life. The other teachers appreciated the idea and asked him to make arrangements for the visit of the students to the slum areas.

The students were given instructions regarding how to talk to residents of the slums and they were asked to note down their experiences and their findings during the visit. They were given a free hand and no restrictions were imposed on them by the teachers.

The students spent more than five hours with the slum dwellers and when they returned to the school, they gave a bewildered look. They had seen such life only on the screen but had never been face to face with it. This first-hand experience of it made them ponder over the situation. The students observed that the slum dwellers were living in the most pathetic conditions. They wondered how could anybody live without proper lighting, sanitation and water supply. Incidentally, it had rained heavily a few days before the students’ visit. There was a pool of water in front of every house and mosquitoes were present in large numbers.


Jobless teachers hold meeting
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 28
A meeting of unemployed ETT Teachers Union, Fazilka unit, and five other employees unions, including teachers, was held today under the chairmanship of Mr Hari Krishan Kamboj, president of Trade Union Congress here.

The meeting expressed concern over the condition of Neeraj Aggarwal, an unemployed ETT teacher, who had undertaken indefinite fast at Chandigarh on June 20 to demand the recruitment of unemployed teachers on priority basis. Neeraj was taken into custody by the police and admitted to the general hospital at Chandigarh.

The incident has evoked great resentment among unemployed teachers, other organisation of teachers and employees, in general. Thereafter, Chanchal Singh who also sat on indefinite fast was also shifted to hospital by the police. The teachers and the employees are reportedly concerned about the indifferent attitude of the government in filling up 7,230 vacancies of ETT teachers in schools in Punjab.

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