Sunday, July 15, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bonanza for kin of militants?
Rehabilitation Secy ignorant of circular
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 14
In an apparent bid to woo radicals, the overzealous state government is contemplating to give bonanza to families of terrorists, who were responsible for a decade-long violence which claimed thousands of lives.

The appeasement move has its eye on the forthcoming Assembly elections.

The circular dated June 26 directed all Deputy Commissioners to supply lists of probable beneficiaries. However, it could draw criticism from the Opposition, apart from spoiling the image of the BJP which is part of the ruling coalition.

Though the circular was issued last year, it was kept “top secret” for obvious reasons. However, when the BJP MLA, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, brought the copy of the circular at a meeting presided over by Mr B.K. Srivastva, Secretary, Relief and Rehabilitation, at the Circuit House there was virtual shock and disbelief. Mr Narinderjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, and a battery of other bureaucrats were taken aback on the “leaking out” of the confidential circular.

Mr Srivastva, who read the circular thrice in the presence of mediapersons and victims of terrorism, denied knowledge of the circular ever issued by his department.

Replying to a volley of questions, he said there might be a typographical or clerical mistake. Later retracting from his initial hiccups, Mr Srivastva said he would look into the matter and said he would get it withdrawn.

Interestingly, after receiving the circular of the state government, the Deputy Commissioner marked it to all district police chiefs of Amritsar for seeking information about the beneficiaries.

The circular reads, “Supply complete information regarding the terrorists who had died till May 31, 2000, along with their addresses.” It further sought information about the dependents of the slain terrorists along with their bio data to be intimated within a week after the issuance of the circular.

Perturbed over the issuance of the circular, Ms Chawla said while more than 700 families of terrorist victims in Amritsar had been going from pillar to post to get compensation for the past 10 to 15 years, the scheme of providing benefits to kin of militants would rub salt on their wounds.

On the persistent demand of victim families, the Secretary Relief and Rehabilitation, announced the raising of the age limit from 35 to 40 years, besides giving academic relaxation for Class IV jobs. The time period for applying for jobs on compassionate grounds had been extended up to August 24. Mr Srivastva said SDMs concerned had been directed to hold darbars for mitigating the sufferings of terrorist victims.

Earlier, victims of terrorism narrated their tales of woes. Mr Srivastva assured them he would take up their cases and try to get their grievance redressed within two months.

Emotionally upset, Sherashta, whose husband Karan Kumar was hanged near Majitha in 1989, alleged that her son was denied job on compassionate grounds since she was in government service. She pleaded that she was already working before her husband was hanged and hence her son should be given employment.

Another victim, Kailashwati, who lost her husband and four sons, was in tears and alleged that all her pleas to get a suitable job had been ignored.

Veeru, another widow who lost nine members of her family in 1988, had given up hope to get a suitable job for her son. She along with her mother-in-law shifted to the Islamabad area in the city and were living in penury.

Ms Chawla strongly advocated the linking of monthly pension with price index for such families. She said the present monthly pension was Rs 2,500 that too was never paid on time.


Sikhs’ sufferings blamed on leadership
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
Return of normalcy to Punjab, notwithstanding, books on the history of this border state in general and its turbulent years in particular, continue to hit the stands regularly.

Today, for example, two books — “Turning Points of the Sikh History — A New Testament on the Punjab” by Mr B.S. Danewalia, a retired Inspector-General of Police; and “Genesis of State Terrorism in Punjab” by Arunjeev Singh Walia and Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan, both members of the Lawyers for Human Rights International — were released within an hour of each other.

Mr B.S. Danewalia, now in his 70s , took almost two years to complete this “scholarly work”. In fact, this has been his third book. The point he wants to make is that Sikhs are the only community, which has not changed its leadership while all others have done so.

The Punjab and the Sikh politics need renewal and redemption. The malaise that afflicted the Sikhs after Maharaja Ranjit Singh was the class of Sikh leaders who preferred Jagirs, property to liberty and sovereignty. Mr Danewalia says that the Sikh Sardars who always preferred Jagirs, property and then became decadent but clever to exploit the Sikh masses for their personal ends, by exploiting the Sikh past of sacrifices and sufferings and the masses always responded.

Mr Danewalia maintains that his latest book is of extraordinary historical scope and inquiries into the history of the Punjab. It brings out the historical turning-point in its religious, cultural and military-political conflicts since the Aryan times which determined the fates and faith and political fortune of the people. This is hopeful antidote to the ordinary historians who routinize and construct the study of the history.

The last chapter of his book deals with events since 1947 as politics of passions and since 1982, the role of the Akali leaders, intellectuals and human rights leaders, since 1986, who acted the same way as Sikh sardars on the eve of the first Anglo-Sikh war. Nothing has changed during the last 150 years since 1845 - in their destructive role and the Sikhs suffered due to want of leaders with qualities of leadership- except as exploiters, doing what the earlier sardars and chiefs had done.

Mr Danewalia also has come down heavily on Sikh intellectuals and human rights activists who never asked militants to desist from innocent killings. He believes that societies fail for many reasons but the most important is when these fail to throw up new leadership.

Sikhism is supposed to be a classless society. But unfortunately, in the Gurdwaras Act, reservation was made. Now most recently, the Shiromani Akali Dal government in the State has decided to place Ramgarhia in the OBC list.

“If Sikhism is surviving today, it is because of Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s rule in the State nearly 200 years ago,” adds Mr Danewalia.

Also present at the time of release of his book were Mr J.S. Bawa (a former CBI chief), Mr D.S. Mangat (a former DGP), Mr Harjit Singh Mr S.R. Sharma (also a former DGP of Punjab), Mr S.S. Bhullar (Inspector-General of Police), Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijee, Mrs Baljit Kaur and Mr Harjit Inder Singh Grewal and others.

Meanwhile, the Lawyers for Human Rights International, a non-government human rights organisation, released “Genesis of State Terrorism in Punjab”, a book about “unlawful and barbaric acts” of Punjab police allegedly committed in the name of fighting a proxy war against terrorism.

The book with of information on custodial deaths and missing or disappeared persons, has been done by two City lawyers — Mr Arunjeev Singh Walia and Mr Tejinder Singh Sudan.

Mr Amar Singh Chahal, President of the Lawyers for Human Rights International, said that the book divided into nine chapters took nine years to complete. It describes in many words, what the authors call “gory tales of human rights violations committed in Punjab between 1984 and 2001”.

The book has deliberately and intentionally left the issue of human rights violations committed by the armed groups during the same period, for the reason that the State terrorism cannot take the place of individual terrorism and there could be no excuse for condoning the acts of omission and commission of crimes of unprecedented magnitude committed by the men in uniform that was duty -bound to protect the lives of the people,” Mr Chahal said. The preface of the book is by Justice Ajit Singh Bains. 


Drugstore runs without licence
Chander Parkash & Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, July 14
The District Red Cross Society has been running a drugstore in the premises of local Civil Hospital without any valid licence from the state Drug Control Authority for the past more than one year.

Mr Ajmer Singh Mann, Secretary, Red Cross, said that the society had moved an application for the renewal of its licence to the state Drug Control Authority and the required fee for the same had been deposited. He added that in the recent past, a team of the state Drug Control Authority had carried out a check of the drugstore for the renewal of the licence.

He claimed that it was not a matter of few days to get the licence renewed. He added that the Red Cross could run its drugstore during the pendancy of renewal of licence.

However, the Manager, Red Cross Drug Store, Mr Sham Kumar Sharma, when contacted, said that the state drug control authority never took such a long time for renewing a licence. He added that if the renewal was not done within a few days, a fresh application would be moved.

A high ranking official of the Health Department when contacted, said that there was no need of running a drugstore within the premises of hospitals. He added that the department had been facing some problems in getting some of the shops run by the Red Cross closed.

A senior doctor of the local Civil Hospital on the condition of anonymity said that “physician samples not for sale’ category drugs were also being sold from the local Red Cross drugstore.

He alleged that the Red Cross drugstore was running in violation of various conditions and rules and regulation laid down by the state government.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commission, said the Red Cross should not operate the drugstore when its licence had not been renewed. He added that he would make inquiries regarding the state of physician samples at the drugstore.

The Principal Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare in the letters written to civil surgeons, medical superintendents deputy medical superintendents and other concerned quarters has directed them that if the district administration proposed to run a chemist shop in the premises of the Civil Hospital, it should be forwarded to the government for approval.

Whether the Civil Hospital authorities had sent such a proposal could not be known as no senior official was willing to make a statement on the record.

The manager of the drugstore meanwhile said that they had been providing better services to poor patients on cheap rates. He claimed that most of the medicines were being sold at less rate than prevailing in the market.


General alert on Indo-Pak border
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 14
Mr A.S. Aulakh, Inspector-General of Punjab Frontier of the BSF has said the Indo-Pak border in the state is completely sealed and there has been no incident of infiltration of any smuggler or Pakistani spy. However, one person at Wagah and two at Dera Baba Nanak were shot dead last week while they were trying to enter Indian territory. He said keeping in view the visit of the Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf, to India, a general alert had been sounded along the Indo-Pak border.

Mr Aulakh was talking to reporters at the BSF Subsidiary Training Centre, Kharkan, 12 km from here, today.

The Inspector-General said fencing work on 200-km-long Indo-Pak border in Jammu and Kashmir had commenced and 15-km fencing had already been completed.

Earlier, Mr Aulakh took a march past salute from 265 recruits who passed out from the centre. The recruits belonged to Andhra Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, Punjab, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Himachal Pradesh, Tripura, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Delhi, Bihar and Nepal.


SGPC unlikely to recognise new PSGPC chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 14
The SGPC is unlikely to recognise the newly appointed chief of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC). On the eve of his departure for the summit, Pakistan President Gen Pervez Musharraf, today replaced the former ISI chief and president of the PSGPC, Lieut-General Javed Nazir, by General Niazi. The SGPC has been seeking the removal of General Nazir since he was appointed two years ago. It had also decided not to send Sikh jathas to gurdwaras in Pakistan in protest against his appointment.

According to informed sources, President Musharraf has taken the decision to placate silks, who have been pressing for the removal of General Nazir and for allowing them to maintain and renovate gurdwaras in Pakistan. The removal of former ISI chief may further ease restrictions imposed by the Pakistan Government on the SGPC officials to maintain and renovate gurdwaras.


Mittal flays Cong leader’s statement
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 14
Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister, Punjab, today lashed out at Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Leader of Opposition in Punjab Vidhan Sabha, by saying that the Congress had not learnt a lesson from the militancy era and had lost its balance to achieve power. This was the reason that Chaudhary Jagjit Singh had stated that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had gone abroad for reasons other than the operation of his eyes, including talks with militants, he added.

Stating this at the PWD Rest House here, Mr Mittal said Mr Badal was a Chief Minister of the state not of one party. So Mr Chaudhary should pray for Mr Badal’s recovery in place of levelling allegations on Mr Badal, he added.

Mr Mittal said Mr Badal was not a weak Chief Minister and did not need any support from militants to win the elections. He said the militants were now an isolated lot in Punjab and no body would vote at their instance.


Terrorism Cong baby: Dalam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The Punjab Information and Public Relations Minister, Mr Natha Singh Dalam, has taken strong exception to the allegations levelled against the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by certain Congress leaders by blowing up the issue of Khalistan ideologue, Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan.

In a written statement, Mr Dalam said that terrorism was the brain- child of the Congress and it was this party at the Centre which perpetrated anti-Sikh riots in 1984 in the wake of Mrs Indira Gandhi’s assassination. How Congress could claim itself to be a secular party, he asked.


Industrial area cries for attention
Vikrant Jindal

Malerkotla falls in the industrial belt of Sangrur district and has more than 2,500 medium and small-scale units. Even as the number of units in the local industrial estate has been increasing, the facilities provided in it remain inadequate.

The estate is in a state of neglect. It now has the dubious distinction of being perhaps the most, ill-maintained industrial estate in Punjab.

The state’s Department of Industries built 30 sheds in the estate in 1960. Fourteen sheds were constructed by the Punjab State Industrial Development and Export Corporation. These were first leased out and then sold at a very low price.

Seeing the rise in the number of industries in the Malerkotla area, the state government in 1985 sold about 100 industrial plots at the rate of Rs 17.50 per sq yd and charged a development fee of Rs 12,500 per plot. The units were to be started within two years of the allotment.

At present there are about 70 sheds in the estate engaged in the manufacture of leaf springs, bicycle parts, hardware and other items. More than 15,000 workers are employed in the units.

Industrial unit owners are agitated over the treatment meted out to them by government officials. Some of them allege that officials of certain departments harass them on one pretext or the other in the hope of getting illegal gratification.

It was about 25 years ago that the government declared Sangrur an industrially backward district and a number of incentives were announced by the Centre and the state government. It was mainly due to the incentives that groups like Oswal, Vardhman, Rajgariah Udyog and Goenka set up their industries in this district.

Owing to the lack of maintenance, roads in the estate are in bad shape. Most of these have potholes. This has led to inconvenience and a rise in the cost of transportation.

Streetlighting and the sewer system are also in bad shape. During the monsoon water accumulates in parts of the estate and sometimes enters factories.

Blocked sewer pipes result in sewage flowing on to roads. This not only creates a health hazard but also damages the roads and affects transportation.

The estate also lacks proper drinking water arrangements. Some taps were installed a few years ago but the water supply is irregular.

A number of unit owners blame the administration for the poor state of the industrial estate. They say they had paid Rs 12,500 per plot as development fee, but the Industries Department had done little to provide the necessary facilities in the area.

They say that even though they are paying house tax, sales tax and octroi, the government has been ignoring their interests.

The Executive Officer of the local Municipal Council said the estate came under the Industries Department and it was the duty of that department to provide basic facilities in the area.

Mr Munish Jindal, spokesman of the Manufacturers and Suppliers Association, has demanded that the government should immediately redress the grievances of the unit owners.


Darbar Hall to be heritage building
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 14
The Punjab Government has intervened in the controversy going on between the district administration and officials of the Post and Telegraph Department over vacating a local Darbar Hall.

The Darbar Hall, a part of the district courts complex, is more than 100-year-old building and has been declared unsafe by the Public Works Department. The administration wants to preserve it as a heritage building and has given the job of repair work to the Archaeological Survey of India.

The Post and Telegraph Department has been occupying the building on rent for the more than 50 years. The administration had issued 15 days notice to the department for vacating the building which expired on July 5. But, when the department failed to vacate the building, the administration imposed prohibitory orders and barred the employees from entering the hall. When the department refused to comply with the prohibitory orders, the District Magistrate ordered the registration of a criminal case against the Deputy Director of P and T Department.

To solve the problem amicably, Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, convened a meeting on July 10 at Chandigarh in which Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Manjula Prashar, Post Master General, Punjab, and Mr Vivek Kaul, Director, Postal Services, participated.

Mr Aggarwal said Mr Kaul would visit Kapurthala soon to see the alternative site being provided to the office by the district administration.

On the intervention of the Chief Secretary, the administration has decided not to register a criminal case against the Deputy Director.

According to P and T sources, the Chief Post Master General will also meet Mr Ram Bilas Paswan to apprise him of the latest situation.

Meanwhile, the local Post and Telegraph Department has also filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking injunction against the district administration restraining it from forcibly evicting the office from Darbar Hall.

The officials of the Civil Engineering wing of the department visited Kapurthala and after inspecting the building declared it safe and sent its report to Chief Post Master General.


Harassed even after retirement
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, July 14
Mr K.K. Jindal, who served the Education Department for more than three decades, has been fighting tooth and nail to get justice as the authorities concerned allegedly harassed him throughout his career and continued to do so after his retirement.

Mr Jindal, who is an example of official victimisation, has been visiting various courts to seek justice. He has been deprived of salary from March, 1985 to December 2, 1985, and December 4, 1985 to December 5, 1985, besides August 12, 1986 to February 16, 1987.

Though the case for the payment of salaries was decreed in his favour on March 6, 2000, the prosecution department of the state government advised the Education Department that these cases were not fit for any appeal.

He, however, alleged that the district education authorities filed the appeal in these cases in the court of the district judge against the opinion of the prosecution department. The Education Department authorities filed these appeals without waiting for its sanction from the competent authorities.

He said by doing so, the education authorities had caused financial loss to the state government and harassed him.

He alleged that though he had retired, some of the payments, including GIS account, a part of leave encashment and GPF amount had not been paid to him.

He said though he had been promoted as Senior Assistant, authorities had been giving him the status of Junior Assistant.

These incidents were not isolated. Mr Jindal claimed that he had paid heavy price for his honesty. He was not allowed to cross the efficiency bar in 1967. However, he managed to do so after a ruling in his favour.

He had to seek police protection in 1975 as he exposed a copying incident while performing duty at the examination centre. In 1978, a departmental inquiry was initiated against him on “false” allegations. He was given a clean chit only after 12 years.

He was given a junior assistant grade in 1990 but the payment for the same post was made to him after several years. He was transferred frequently and every time he sought the help of Chief Ministers, Governors and editors of various newspapers against the injustice.

No official of the Education Department could be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Hospitals sans doctors, drugs
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 14
The absence of doctors and non-availability of life saving drugs at hospitals and dispensaries in some villages of the district for a long time have caused inconvenience to patients.

Speaking to mediapersons here today, the former president of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Mr Kuldip Singh Sandhu, said several hospitals and dispensaries in the district had been without doctors for months. Even life saving drugs were not available although the Punjab Health Department had earlier posted MBBS doctors and supplied medicines worth several lakhs of rupees to these hospitals and dispensaries.

Mr Sandhu said at present several hospitals were without doctors in the district, which included Daulatpura, Koliawala, Khukharana, Jhandeana, Chand-Nawan, Phulewala, Khosa Pando, Wadahar, Jemalwala and Jaising Wala.

He further said in several hospitals laboratory assistants were performing the duties of doctors.

Meanwhile, Mr Kanwalbir Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, was apprised of the facts at a meeting with panchayats at Mahesarkalan village here yesterday. 


Charge sheet quashed
Our Legal Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 14
The Central Administrative Tribunal, Chandigarh Bench, comprising the vice-chairman, Mr Justice G.C. Garg, and member M.P. Singh allowed the original application filed by Mr G.S. Sandhu, Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, Amritsar, seeking quashing of the chare sheet served upon the applicant for major penalty and consequently ordered the respondents to consider the case of the applicant for promotion to the post of Commissioner of Income Tax.

The applicant was served a charge sheet proposing holding an enquiry against him under Central Civil Service Rules on the ground that when the applicant was posted as Additional CIT, Bathinda range, he has issued certain directions under the Income Tax Act which were allegedly reckless and issued in undue haste. It was further alleged that the directions issued by the applicant were more in the nature of arbitration between the department and the assessee due to which benefit was conferred upon the assessee.

The applicant, through his counsel, contended before the CAT that a charge sheet could not be issued to an officer who worked as a quasi-judicial authority and passed directions in his best wisdom. The orders passed by a judicial/quasi-judicial authority are subject to further challenge in the appropriate forum by way of appeal and revision and are thus liable to correction. In such circumstances it would not be proper for the department to charge sheet every officer who passed erroneous or even illegal orders during the discharge of his quasi-judicial functions. Merely because an assessee benefits due to a quasi-judicial order passed by a revenue officer it would not mean that the officer has misconducted himself.

Accepting the contention of the applicant, the tribunal held that in the absence of any allegation in the charge sheet regarding any undue benefit or illegal gratification received by the officer, the officer cannot be chargesheeted merely for passing wrong orders in the discharge of his official duties. Consequently it was held that wrong or reckless orders cannot form the basis for initiating disciplinary proceedings against the officer.


Hoshiarpur martyrs’ families get aid
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 14
Brig Kuldip Singh Kahlon (retd), Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, visited the houses of Army martyrs in the district yesterday and gave cheques for Rs 5 lakh each to the families of three martyrs. He gave cheques for Rs 1 lakh each to the Army disabled persons at the District Sainik Welfare office here. He also provided cheques for Rs 50,000 each to four widows soldiers who laid down their lives for protecting the borders of the country before September, 1991, and gave a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to ex-serviceman Naik Balbir Singh.

He also visited the houses of martyrs havildar Dayal Singh at Jandoli village, Pawan Kumar at Nangal at Bihalan village and Sepoy Mukhtiar Singh at Tajewal village.


Stay sought on holding of ‘jagrans’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 14
Mr Rajesh Kumar Sharma, a local resident has moved an application in the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) for getting a stay order on holding of “jagrans” on July 17 and July 21.

In the application Mr Sharma said organisers of the “jagrans” Mr Gurdas and Mr Sewak Ram Bhola were political personalities and were organising the function to show their political strength.

He said they had engaged highly-paid professional singers who would sing bhajans on the tunes of Hindi film songs. He alleged that the singers would charge lakhs of rupees.

He said the “jagrans” would cause inconvenience to residents as loud speakers would create problems for patients, students and senior citizens.

He said both parties were giving wide publicity to the functions to be held at two places in order to get political mileage, adding that there was nothing religious about these functions.

He said he was not against a “jagran if the noise of the bhajans remained on the premises of the building in which it was being organised.

He said certain senior political leaders had reportedly been invited to “grace” the function. He said it was unfortunate that political parties and their supporters had started playing the religious card in the wake of the coming Assembly elections.

Senior leaders would use the “jagran” platform to make speeches and announce their political agenda, he added.


Station lacks civic amenities
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Pathankot, July 14
The Chakki Bank railway station here which was constructed in the 70s only as a goods unloading station has become a main station as 12 superfast trains halt there. The station does not have toilets, drinking water and waiting rooms. It has a notional compound wall without fencing.

A majority of the passengers who use the station are either armed forces personnel or pilgrims.

The station is open from all sides with a small boundary wall. It has been like this for the past three decades.

A waiting room, which was recently constructed, has yet to be inaugurated, sources said.

The lighting arrangements at and around the railway station are far from satisfactory. No steps have been taken for a proper illumination of the area despite reservations expressed in this regard by the Railway Police. The maximum parking area of the taxi stand remains dark.

Passengers seldom use drinking water taps as they usually remain dry. As a result they are forced to buy mineral water. There is no toilet and other civic amenities for the passengers, said a local resident.

Mr G.D. Misra, former president of the Municipal Council Sujanpur, said that the passengers should be provided with drinking water and other amenities.


‘Free probe into suspension case needed’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 14
Language Department Additional Director R.S. Gill today said only a free and fair inquiry could bring out the facts behind the suspension of department translation wing research assistant Bhagwant Singh.

Talking to TNS here, Mr Gill denied that he had made any written statement to the Press regarding the suspension of the research assistant. He added that the remarks attributed to him calling Mr Bhagwant Singh a hard worker who did his job with responsibility were in answer to a pointed question by a reporter.

The Additional Director disclosed that there was no question of him being inimical to the Director of the department. He said Mr Bhagwant Singh could have been victimised as he was his relative. He also charged that the suspension order of the Bhagwant Singh had been distributed to the Press by interested parties in the department.


NGO’s efforts avert tragedy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 14
A tragedy which could have resulted in electrocution of many persons was averted by the efforts of the volunteers of the Dost Welfare Society, an NGO of the city, on Thursday.

A truck (RJ-31-J 2728) dashed against a pole supplying electricity to the Bhatti road and its adjoining areas. The pole fell on a nearby kiosk where some persons were eating.

Sparks from the wires sent the people in a state of shock. The truck driver tried to escape but in the process electric wires got badly entangled with the truck.

One of the residents of the area called the volunteers of the Dost Welfare Society who later rescued the people and managed to get the power supply cut off.

Mr Sewak Ram Bhola, Municipal Councillor of the area, personally supervised the entire operation. The power supply was restored after the incident.


Lightning kills one
Our Correspondent

Poohla (Bathinda), July 14
Jasvir Singh of this village was killed yesterday when lightning struck him while he was working in the fields.

Preliminary information revealed that Jasvir Singh, whose father is the chowkidar of this village, was killed on the spot while he was working at the fields of Gurpreet Singh.

The deceased belonged to a Dalit tribe.


Three killed in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 14
Three persons were killed while another was seriously injured in two road accidents during the past 24 hours in the district.

According to police sources, two cyclists were killed and another was seriously injured when a Tata Sumo hit them near Ramidi village here today. The dead have been identified as Joga Singh (25) and Joginder Singh (27), both of Bootan village, and the injured as Deba. They were all farm labourers and were going to Jairam Pur village.

In another accident Sukhwinder Singh, a constable, of Khadas village was killed on the spot when his scooter was hit by a jeep near Bhadas village. 


Rain hits life in Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 14
Rain water entered shops and houses in Gurunanak Market, Subhash Nagar, Gaushala Road, Shivpuri, Ratanpura, Banga Post Office Road and other low-laying areas.

Many vehicles broke down and their occupants were stranded. Students strength in institutions was poor. Most of the city areas were water-logged.


1540 purchase centres for paddy
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 14
The Punjab Government has finalised arrangements for procuring 125 lakh tonne of paddy against the expected arrival of 115 lakh tonne. As many as 1540 purchase centres have been notified in the state for procuring paddy this season.

Stating this at the local PWD Rest House today, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, said all deputy commissioners had been directed to send the lists of purchase centres after allotting the same to the procurement agencies. He said the allotment of purchase centres would be finalised by the Directorate of Food and Civil Supplies.

Mr Mittal also expressed the hope that the Union Government would approve the hike of Rs 50 per quintal in the minimum support price. He said the Punjab Government would made all sincere efforts in this direction by putting pressure on the Union Government.


IT range set up in Jalandhar
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 14
To speed up departmental work, an income tax range has been set up in the city which will start functioning soon. This was stated by Ms S.K. Aulakh, Income Tax Commissioner, Jalandhar, while taking to mediapersons at the BSF Subsidiary Training Centre at Kharkan, 12 km from here today.

Ms Aulakh said an officer of the rank of Joint Commissioner would be in charge of the range. Two new income tax wards at Dasuya and Nawanshahr towns had also been set up which would be under the direct control of the trial range with income tax officers at these towns as their in charge.

Besides, assistant and deputy commissioner would also be posted in the local income tax range. A Tax Recovery Officer would also be appointed. Ms Aulakh said with these improvements, income tax revenue here would increase. Replying to a question, she said income tax revenue in Jalandhar had increased during the previous financial year. There was a collection of Rs 184 crore this year as compared to Rs 161 crore during last year. She said the number of income tax ranges in Jalandhar had been increased six from two.


Plans to boost development
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 14
Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner has said that many projects have been prepared to boost the development of the district.

Mr Venkatratnam said while talking to newsmen here this evening, that under the sanitation scheme launched specially for villages, 40,000 latrines would be built. Separate latrines for boys and girls would be set up in the schools.

Under the scheme to give 5 marla plots to Scheduled Caste, Bazigars, landless labourers and Christians the shamlat land would be used.

Ponds in the villages would be de-silted, ramps and boundary walls would be constructed. A sum of Rs 85 lakh had been received for the purpopse, he said.

Under the Sarv Sikhsa Aabhiyan a project would be prepared for the primary education to children in the 6-14 age group. Grant of Rs 17 lakh had been received after the detailed project report was made the funds for the project are likely to be to the tune of Rs 25 crore.

Commenting on the encroachment of roads, Mr Ratnam said the Bibi Wala road would be four laned and out of the 1.5 km road, half kilometer would be four laned by the Improvement Trust and the rest would be developed by PUDA. Dividers and street lights would also be set up.


Rs 8 cr released for Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 14
The Punjab Government has released a grant of Rs 8 crore for various development schemes during the current financial year for this district. This was stated by Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, here today. He said nearly an amount of Rs 29.77 lakh would be spent for the augmentation of water supply scheme, laying of 600 metre-long sewerage pipelines and construction of a drain linking Duareana road to Sem Nala in Kotkapura.

The water supply and sewerage board had also been asked to prepare an estimate on a priority basis for laying of a sewer connecting Hari Nau road to Muktsar road with the main sewerage in the town.

A team of senior officers, including the SDM, Jaitu, Executive Magistrate, DDPO, Deputy CEO, Zila Parishad, SDO Panchayati Raj and BDPO, Faridkot, besides BDPO, Kotkapura, had been constituted to ensure proper utilisation of funds and timely completion of projects.


PSEB office hours reverted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 14
The Punjab State Electricity Board, Patiala, has reverted the office timing to 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the demand of its employees.

In a press note issued here today, the Joint Coordination Committee has expressed its thanks to the board for conceding to its demand of changing the 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. working hours and reverting to the original hours. Committee leaders G.S. Mohi, Surinder Bains, Harjit Walia, Maggar Singh and Surinder Kamboj said the women staff were particularly finding the timing unsuitable.


Psychotropic drugs seized, one arrested
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 14
The Morinda police seized prescription drugs during a routine naka yesterday. A team of police officials intercepted a Maruti 800 car (PIM-6688), on the Samrala-Sirhind chowk, and seized 500 injections of morphine, 100 tablets of phenytal-50 and 30 tablets of phenytal-30, all psychotropic drugs.

The driver of the car, Narinder Singh, working at Anjali Medical Store, Ludhiana, was arrested for possessing the drugs without any bills.

Narinder Singh told police officials that he had procured the drugs from Dr Satpal Singh of Rajpura, who runs a chemist store there. The Ropar police raided the house of the doctor today but nothing was recovered. The doctor was not present in his house.


Father, sons get life sentence
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 14
Mr Kewal Krishan, Additional Sessions Judge, Gurdaspur while sentencing a father and his two sons to life term in a murder case on July 11, observed that the prosecution had succeeded in its case beyond any reasonable doubt.

According to the prosecution, Ajit Singh of Berri village lodged an FIR at Kahnuwan police station of Gurdaspur district on March 30, 1998, under Sections 302, 324 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code alleging that Balbir Singh, his younger brother had been killed by the father and sons.

According to the FIR, on March 30, 1998, the complainant was returning from his fields at about 9 a.m. and Balbir Singh was waiting for a bus on the road outside his house to go to Ludhiana to work. The accused, Shanga Singh (85), his sons Joga Singh (41) and Darshan Singh (30) armed with weapons attacked the complainant and his brother. They inflicted various injuries to the complainant party, resulting in the death of Balbir Singh. They were having dispute over a piece of land owned by the complainant party.

While delivering the 21-page judgement, the Judge convicted the accused and sentenced them to imprisonment for life and also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 to each of them.


25 kg opium seized, 2 held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 14
The Samana police today seized 25 kg of opium from two smugglers near the bus stand of Ghiora village here today.

The Deputy Superintendent of Police (Detective), Mr S.S.Boparai today disclosed that according to information available with the CIA staff, the gang had been smuggling large quantities of opium in Samana areas for the past several months.

The in charge of the Samana CIA staff, Mr Gurbaj Singh, along with other police officers searched a vehicle after laying a naka on receiving information and seized 25 kg of opium. The two smugglers were identified as Karnail Singh of Samroli village and Vijay Kumar of Dhanhori village, both villages falling under Shahbad Markanda (Haryana) police station.

The officials claimed that Vijay Kumar is a known smuggler and has been into the sale of opium for the past many years. Mr Boparai further disclosed that the Haryana police had arrested Kanail Singh eight months ago in a separate case and he had been released from prison only two months ago.

Mr Boparai said a case had been registered under the NDPS Act and the two had been remanded to police custody.


Education office sans building, staff
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 14
Faridkot which has given two chief ministers to Punjab and also education ministers has a neglected education system. The office of the Circle Education Officer with its headquarters at Faridkot is virtually being run on borrowed staff.

Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, former Chief Minister, Punjab during his tenure created the new divisional headquarters to pacify the people of the area following carving out of two separate districts from Faridkot district . At that time, the then Education Minister, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, who belonged to Faridkot, got the third office of the Circle Education Officer in Punjab established there.

The other two offices are at Jalandhar and Nabha. Six districts of Punjab, Ferozepore, Moga Mukatsar, Faridkot, Bathinda and Mansa were attached with the newly established office for all administrative purposes.

Ironically, even as five years have elapsed, no regular staff has been posted in the office and it being run by deputing officers and other officials here.

Sources say at present Mr Babu Lal, District Education Officer, is holding the additional charge of the Circle Education Officer. Consequently, the administrative work has been hit hard. Moreover the office has no separate building and is housed in the Service Training Centre of teachers. The Punjab Government has not sanctioned any regular post for the office.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Government Secondary Teachers Union, Punjab, urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, and Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, to take personal interest into the matter and ensure efficient and smooth functioning of the office.


School to be named after Brig Shergill
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 14
Mr Tota Singh, Minister for Secondary Education, Punjab, unveiled the stone marking the inauguration ceremony of the upgradation of Government High School at Daangarh village, about 15 km from here. He dedicated it to the memory of late Brig Balwinder Singh Shergill of the same village (he died fighting militants in Kupwara sector of Kashmir in August, 2000) at a function held at the school yesterday.

As a mark of respect the Punjab Government decided to name the school after Brigadier Shergill and upgrade it to the plus two level.

The minister announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh from his discretionary fund for the development of the school. He told the District Education Officer, Sangrur, to appoint a Punjabi teacher for the school within a week’s time or face stern action. No Punjabi teacher had been appointed in the school for the past 23 years.

Later, Mr Tota Singh said about 1,200 lecturers would be promoted to the posts of Principal in Punjab. A deputation of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Dhanaula, called upon the minister and asked him to sanction a promised grant of Rs 10 lakh so that the construction of a school building near the gurdwara could start soon.

Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, Punjab Minister of State for Irrigation, also announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the development of Government Senior Secondary School, Daangarh, from his discretionary fund.


Conflicting reports on B.Ed. result
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 14
Punjabi University today gave conflicting reports regarding the declaration of B.Ed. entrance result.

While the public relations declared the result to be available for sale on July 15 whereas the Joint Controller (Examination) said the certification of the scores obtained by students will be available on July 18. The university also stated that it has declared the result of B.Ed. Entrance test conducted on July 1 today in which 42,574 candidates appeared at 176 examination centres spread over 11 cities all over Punjab.

Dr B.S. Bhatia, Registrar and Co-ordinator of B.Ed. entrance test, Punjabi University said the first five positions had been secured by girls. Manpreet Kaur got the first position and Rajwinder Kaur and Amandeep Kaur got second and third positions respectively.


Tandon stresses on computer education
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 14
Mr Balramji Das Tandon, Local Government, Labour and Employment Minister, inaugurated a blood donation camp organised by Gram Panchayat and Youth Welfare Society at Bhadak village, near Rajpur, here today.

Mr Tandon said there was a need to provide computer education to youths. He said 35 villages will be provided computer education so that they can make their own living. He announced the introduction of a Rural Water Supply Scheme at a cost of Rs 30 lakh to provide clean and safe water to the residents of Bhadak and Khandoli villages.

Mr Tandon stressed upon the need to provide more job opportunities and better prospects to youths.

Mr Tandon also announced an grant of Rs 31,000 for the development of religious places, Rs 1 lakh for recarpeting of village roads, Rs 21,000 for Youth Welfare Society, Rs 25,000 for Dalit dharamshala and Rs 50,000 for the construction of cremation ground.


Not by selling books alone
Anita Tayal

Patiala, July 14
Once relying completely on books and magazines to keep the cash registers ringing, booksellers of the city have now gone in for cards, gifts, perfumes and stationery even as the reading habit has nosedived among the new generation.

A round to the city bookshops revealed that their owners have started sale of attractive items, including perfumes, deodorants, soft toys, chocolates, cassettes, Parker pens, showpieces and decorated mugs. The shop-owners has also started concentrating more on keeping varieties in greeting cards, depending upon the taste of their customers.

Though these shopkeepers buy the latest fiction novels, they have also diverged from classic books to adoption of other types of books related to astrology, health, childcare, recipe booklets, interior designing and fashion.

Mr B.K. Chhabra, running one such shop, says the sale of books has come down since 1996, with the coming up of the internet. He adds that the sale has gone up since, but not to earlier levels. He claims that the reading habits being given up by the new generation, which has taken to other hobbies resulting in decline in sales. He is confident that sales will improve with readers returning back to bookshops to buy old classics.

Shopkeepers especially at 22 number phatak, officers mess Budda Dal Shopping Complex and Shera Wala Gate feel that these days, with all the information available on computers, readers pay less emphasis on buying books. They add that this is the main reason for which the booksellers have turned their business from the sole sale of novels to the sale of other attractive commodities.

Another trend seen with these shopkeepers is the criteria of selling novels and magazines on returnable basis. The shopkeepers give an Indian novel on 50 per cent exchange price. There is no time limit for the customers. In case of a magazine, the rate is Rs 100 for a month, in which the shopkeepers issue one magazine a day to their customers.

Many readers who cannot afford expensive books follow this method, in which shopkeepers also earn a sufficient sum, while another thriving business is the sale of pirated books of reputed authors in various markets.

Mr Rajkumar, another shopkeeper, says the young generation believes more on presenting their friends and relatives with gifts and cards, due to which this business, along with the sale of classics proves quite profitable. He feels that with the rising growth of the Internet, the business may be more harshly affected, though he claims that nothing can replace the conventional novel for diehard fans.

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