Wednesday, July 18, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Agra summit: SAD suffers setback
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 17
The SAD has virtually suffered a setback on account of its inability to ensure the inclusion of Sikh issues in the agenda of the Agra summit between the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf.

The Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, however, has stolen the limelight by submitting a memorandum to President Musharraf in this connection as a representative of the Sikhs.

Though the SAD leadership had not tired claiming that it was making efforts to make the Sikh issues part of the summit, they did not figure in the list of eight issues on which the July 9 all-party meeting had approved.

What has humbled the SAD, is the “failure” of the SAD leadership to even hand over a memorandum to President Musharraf during “leisure time”, even as the senior SAD leader and the Union Cabinet Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, claimed that he was among those who had presented a memorandum to the Pakistan President.

Earlier, the SAD, the SGPC and a number of other Sikh organisations had written to the Prime Minister’s Office, seeking separate time for raising the issues with the Pakistan President.

But the absence of Mr Badal, who is currently on US visit, virtually created a void.

On July 13, Mr Dhindsa had claimed at Chandigarh that the Union External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, had assured him that the Sikh issues would be taken up. Mr Dhindsa had also sought a one-to-one meeting and had urged for the inclusion of Mr Tarlochan Singh if such a meeting took place.

But Mr Tarlochan Singh, who along with Mr Dhindsa, were among some 150 special guests at Agra, virtually turned the tables by presenting the memorandum to President Musharraf who assured him that he would consider these after returning to Pakistan.

The issues which figured in the memorandum included revocation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, handing over the “sewa” and revenue collection of the gurdwaras in Pakistan to the SGPC and inclusion of only Sikhs in the management committees of the gurdwaras there.

Sources close to the SAD said the party leadership had never claimed that the issues would be discussed during the summit.


Hopes fade among Kashmiri Sikhs after Agra summit
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 17
Hopes for a better future for their relatives in the strife torn Kashmir valley receded among the few hundred Kashmiri Sikhs living in the city, following the breakdown of talks between India and Pakistan.

‘’We had pinned our hopes on the talks for revival of the peace process in the state where Sikhs have recently faced the wrath of militants”, said Sarwan Singh Shaktiman, a Kashmiri Sikh, who has written a few books on the displacement of the community from the valley.

The large number of Kashmiri Sikhs here, who still have a number of relatives living in the valley and also keep visiting it for business purposes, said they had felt during the run-up to the peace talks that both the countries were willing to work towards peace in the valley. They said, however, the tough stance taken by the Pakistan President as well as the delegation yesterday resulted in the talks ending without any understanding between the countries on the issue.

The Kashmiri Sikhs feel that a reliable peace should be worked out in the present framework with the line of control be converted into an international border. Such a move could work for the benefit of both countries as they would be able to save precious funds, currently being used on defence expenditure, for the development of the valley, they said.

The Sikhs also want an ease on visa restrictions for travelling between both the countries. The proposal of the Indian Prime Minister in this regard was a welcome step, said Mr Darshan Singh Kashmiri, adding that if it was followed, people on both sides of the border would be able to interact with each other. Where it took only a few hours to reach Muzzafarabad from the Indian side if the border was opened, those wanting to go to the other side had to travel to Delhi to get visas and then take a long route through Pakistan to reach Muzzafarabad, in Pak-occupied Kashmir, they said. They said visa offices should be opened in the valley and Jammu to facilitate the travel across the border.

Though criticising Musharraf for his tough posture during the talks, they, however, agreed with him on one aspect that Kashmir was the centre of all problems between India and Pakistan and solving it should be the top priority for both the countries. They said, however, Pakistan must simultaneously affirm that it would not support terrorism in the valley, adding that an atmosphere for talks between both the countries could be created only if it was followed.

Bringing relative peace in the valley by reducing violence there and then again make an effort for peace, is the message of the Kashmiri Sikhs, who feel the talks between both the countries should be carried forward despite the recent debacle.


Govt eases specifications for wheat
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana July 17
The Government of India is understood to have allowed some relaxations in the specifications for accepting the rain affected wheat stocks procured this year in response to the demand made by the Punjab Government.

According to authoritative sources, the Central Government has agreed to accept wheat stocks which have lost 50 per cent lustre loss and also agreed to move the rain affected stocks of wheat on priority basis ignoring the principle of first-in, first-out (FIFO).

The untimely rains in March and April had damaged the wheat crop in Punjab and the official procurement agencies of the state government and the FCI were reluctant to buy wheat from the farmers. But the state government pressed the agencies to buy the wheat stock and avoided a crisis in the state. The total procurement of wheat in Punjab this year has been to the tune of 1.10 crore tonnes and according to officials of the state agencies, the 50 per cent relaxation given by the Union Government in lustre loss would not help much as the luster loss incident is higher. The state government had sought relaxation to the effect of 100 per cent loss in lustre.

It may be mentioned here that private trade did not make much purchase of wheat this season because of the damage to the grain caused by the rains and low demand from other states.

Despite the relaxation given by the Union Government, the state procuring agencies are not happy as the FCI will create more problems in accepting the procured stocks. They are worried that they will have to grease the palms of officials of the FCI in order to effect the delivery of wheat stocks.

Although the Union Government agreed to ignore the principle of ‘first-in, first-out’, the officials of the state agencies are complaining the FCI is giving priority to its own stocks of wheat. The government has asked the Railways to move the rain-affected wheat stocks on priority. Since the movement of stocks is handled by the FCI, it is giving priority to its own stocks. The FCI does not have old stocks of wheat while the state agencies have about 80 lakh tonnes of wheat pertaining to the past two years. There are a few stocks of 1999-2000 also, it is learnt.

The state procuring agencies are reported to have lodged a protest with the government against the attitude of the officials of the FCI in not moving the stocks of the agencies and giving priority to its own stocks.

It has learnt the movement of wheat by the Railways is also very slow. According to sources close to the state agencies, four to five lakh tonnes of wheat is being moved out of Punjab by rail every month and at this speed the state will not be able to create space for storing paddy which will start arriving in the mandis in September.

The state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal has already directed the Deputy Commissioners and the officials of the procurement agencies to create maximum storage capacity for paddy and “he would not tolerate any complacency on this account.” The Chief Minister does not want any problem in the purchase of paddy and lifting of the same from the markets in view of the election year as the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha are due to be held in March 2002. The same may be advanced according to political observers.

The officials of the agencies are finding it difficult to move the wheat stock in view of the slow movement by the Railways. The procured wheat stocks are lying in the open space all over the state in the yards of the grain markets and the panchayat lands. Nearly 70,000 tonnes of wheat are lying in a posh colony of Amritsar and residents are protesting against the same with the agency concerned.

The current rains in the state have also caused damage to the wheat stocks stored in the open.

The state procurement agencies have spent Rs 7,000 crore on the procurement of wheat this year. Besides, huge stocks of rice and paddy are still lying in the godowns in Punjab.

According to official information available, as many as 40 lakh tonnes of rice and 35 lakh tonnes of paddy (unmilled) are lying in the stores in the state. Besides, 80 lakh tonnes of wheat were procured last year. In all, about 2.75 crore tonnes of foodgrains are lying in the stores in Punjab. The Government of India allowed the rice millers to mill the paddy stocks till July 31. The government will have to extend this deadline of milling of paddy as it was not feasible to complete the task by July 31. Meanwhile, the new crop will start arriving in September.

The Punjab Agricultural University had also analysed the samples of wheat from the mandis in April and had found “the analysis of the samples has revealed that in general the grains have lost lustre and the hardness of the grains is reduced. Hence, storability of grains shall be affected. Besides, overall falling number values have decreased and this shall affect the processing and industrial activity.”

The Punjab Agricultural University had taken as many as 110 samples from the grain markets of all districts in the state.


Farmers find direct selling cumbersome
Jaswiner Paul Singh

Bathinda, July 17
Motivated by experts farmers of the region started growing vegetables and fruits in order to bring diversification in the crop pattern, but little did they know that the marketing of the same would be so cumbersome that they would have to reconsider their decision.

Frequent failure of the traditional crops like paddy, wheat and cotton in the region made the farmers adopt new crops. The first option before the farmers was that they should grow cash crops like oilseeds but this also did not prove beneficial for them.

The Agricultural Department authorities suggested fruits and vegetables should be grown instead of the traditional crops. They were successful in persuading farmers and promised them some incentives also.

The farmers of the region with much efforts and hard work mastered the cultivation of fruits and vegetables. It was a different experience for them as they were not familiar with the new crop which needed much labour and day-to-day care.

They also met with a new experience when they had to market their produce. They had sold their other crops only once in six months but the vegetables and fruits were to be sold daily.

The farmers started selling their produce in the vegetable market of the city but were not able to get the right price for it. The absence of proper marketing policy and non-existence of minimum support price for vegetables and fruits disheartened the farmers.

The farmers had started growing fruits and vegetables with the expectation that all their economic problems would be solved as they had expected good returns from the new crops but their hopes were shattered to the ground when they had to sell their produce themselves.

The farmers not familiar with the tactics of the business are finding it difficult to go to the customers directly. Some of them find it surprising that they are selling their produce in kilograms while earlier they sold it in quintals and tonnes.

Although the direct marketing has proved beneficial for the customers as they can get fresh vegetables and fruits at a rate less than the market price but they also feel that the inexperience of the farmers in selling the produce in retail sometimes creates problems.

The farmers sell the seasonal vegetables and fruits by loading them on “Peter rehras” and tractor trailers. In order to attract the customers they have also installed loudspeakers on their vehicles.

The farmers sell their produce in cities as well as villages. Some of them who do not consider selling of vegetables and fruits as profitable think those who are in the business are fools because they have abandoned their parental occupation and have adopted the profession of “others”.

Although the area under fruit cultivation in Punjab is approximately 25,000 acres the marketing of the same is very poor and there is no government procurement agency for the purpose. As a result, the fruit growers have to depend on private purchasers or they have to sell their produce themselves.

The other problem of the fruit and vegetable growers is that they cannot store their produce. They have to sell the same when it is ripe. Thus, when they cultivate their produce they bring it in the market or sell the same themselves.

Although the government had promised from time to time that storage facility for fruits and vegetables would be provided in the state but nothing concrete has happened in this direction so far. 


BKU (Ekta) activists block traffic
Our Correspondent

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), July 17
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) blocked traffic on the Bathinda-Mansa road near Maiser Khana village, about 25 km from here, today.

The activists were protesting against the non-registration of a criminal case against bank officials and an arhtiya of the town allegedly responsible for the suicide of Mithu Singh, a farmer of Sandoha, in June this year.

The BKU (E) had planned to gherao Maur Mandi police station on July 16 but their bid was foiled by police personnel. The police had set up nakas at various villages, including Maiser Khana, Ghuman, Dhade and at the Maur Mandi crossing. At least 35 activists of the BKU (E) were taken into custody on June 16.

The activists were not allowed to enter the town and sat on a dharna at Maiser Khana village and blocked traffic. Thousands of BKU (E) activists joined the dharna today even as there was a heavy deployment of the police.

Senior leaders of the BKU (E), including Mr Jhanda Singh Jhetuke, district president, Mr Harnek Singh Lehrakahana, state vice-president, Mr Surjit Singh, district secretary, Mr Surmukh Singh, president, Phul block, Mr Baldev Singh, president, Maur block, were arrested by the police.

Traffic was diverted from the Bathinda-Maur-Mansa route to alternative routes causing inconvenience to villagers and commuters.

Heavy vehicles were diverted through interior villages. The rain, which lashed the region, did not dampen the spirits of the BKU (E) activists who raised slogans against the state government and the Centre.

The activists alleged that though the government claimed to be pro-farmers, yet its policies were against them. They alleged that the police was not registering a case against the arhtiya and the bank officials responsible for the death of Mithu Singh.

They demanded that Sections 63-C and 67-A of the Cooperative Act should be abolished. The rate of interest on government loans and private loans should be fixed at 4 and 8 per cent per annum, respectively. No compound interest should be charged on agriculture loans, they said.

Senior leaders of the BKU (E), including Mr Shingara Singh, district general secretary, Mr Buta Singh, senior vice-president, and Mr Surjit Singh, state general secretary (press), addressed the dharna.


JVs to harness hydel potential to be set up
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 17
The Punjab Government is likely to sign a joint venture agreement with Himachal Pradesh and Haryana to establish two hydel projects in Himachal with an overall capacity of 314 MW.

Deliberations on the issue were held at a high level meeting of Chief Secretaries of the three boards held at Shimla sometime back. Following the meeting projects were identified and detailed studies made on their viability by participating states. The projects which have been identified include the Uhl stage three which is a 100 MW project and the Sawra Kudhu project which has a potential of 214 MW.

Sources said it had been decided to take up projects with a potential of less than 300 MW and that three project profiles had also been made. Saying that this was the first time such a joint venture scheme had been initiated, they said the joint venture agreement as well as initiating the joint venture on the ground would be done within this year only.

They said both the Punjab and Haryana Governments were going in for a joint venture so that the equity money for the projects could be divided between the partner states. Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Chairman Gurcharan Singh Sohal disclosed that around Rs 1800 crore was needed for a project of 300 MW with a minimum equity of Rs 540 crore needed to start it. He said once the equity amount was divided between the partner states, only Rs 100 crore would be needed every year which came to around only Rs 35 crore per state.

Mr Sohal said there was no other alternative before the state but to go in for hydel projects. He said the demand was increasing by the rate of 400 MW each year in Punjab. He said Punjab was handicapped in the case of harnessing of hydel energy as there was a potential of only around 300 MW in the state. He said out of this around 170 MW would be generated once the Shahpur Kandi project came on steam and another 70 to 80 MW potential could be extracted from the Mukerian Upper Bari Deob Canal project.

The PSEB Chairman said according to present trends the state would have a shortfall of power even after the Shahpur Kandi project was completed. He said according to the estimates of a recent meeting of the Minister of State for Power, it was projected that the demand in the state would go up to 8,000 MW by the end of the tenth plan from the present demand figures of 5,600 MW. He said if all allocations of central projects were taken into consideration, there would be a gap of 1200 MW according to the present trends.

He said due to this an integrated power development programme was needed for the entire region. The Chairman said negotiations would be conducted with Himachal to finalise its share in the joint project. He said once the joint ventures of the two projects were initiated on the ground, other projects could also be taken up, adding that a joint strategy was likely to be made by the three states to harness various other proposals for harnessing of hydel energy.


DGP seeks report on SSP-DIG row
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 17
The Director-General of Police, Mr Sarbjit Singh, has said the Punjab police is facing a financial crunch as 94 per cent of the Rs 940-crore budget is being spent on the salaries of employees while the rest 6 per cent is spent on uniforms, TA/DA and other heads.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sarbjit Singh said the ratio of the police force to the population was much less than recommended by the Goria Commission and the National Police Commission. He said the Punjab police had replaced five battalions of the Indo-Tibetan Border Police posted for guarding banks. The number of paramilitary force battalions had come down from 350 to 14 only. Some of the Punjab police staff were deployed for poll duties in West Bengal and other states. Under such circumstances, nobody should blame the Punjab police for eating up much of the state’s Budget, he said.

Mr Sarbjit Singh said he had sought a report from the DIG and SSP, Patiala, on a tussle over the suspension and promotion of a woman Assistant Sub-Inspector. It may be mentioned here that an ASI, Mr Indu Bala, who was placed under suspension on corruption charges by Mr Sanjeev Gupta, was promoted as SHO at Ghagga police station by Mr Harpreet Singh Sidhu, SSP.

To a question, Mr Sarbjit Singh said the blacklist of Punjabis, who settled abroad during the heyday of militancy, was being reviewed by the centre.

He said much before the Indo-Pak summit, the Punjab police had increased vigil in the wake of the stepped-up violence in Jammu and Kashmir. He, however, refused to comment on whether the breakdown of talks between India and Pakistan would increase trans-border violence.

To a question whether old cases of Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, Khalistan ideologue, were being reopened, he said, “Why to make him a hero?”

Mr Sarbjit Singh also indicated winding up of women police stations. He said the women police stations, which were virtually acting as reporting areas, had not come up to the expectations of the Punjab police.

He said more than 500 women constables were being recruited in the state who would be posted in various police stations in the state. He said the Punjab Government had decided to promote constables with 16 years of services in principle.

To another question, he said the BSF’s denial to reports that weapons and narcotics were smuggled from the border was unfounded. He said weapons were certainly smuggled from the border. He, however, lauded the role of the BSF in guarding the borders.


Magisterial probe indicts policemen
Morinda custodial death case
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, July 17
The long-awaited magisterial inquiry into the Morinda custodial death case had indicted police officials for creating circumstances that led to the death of Jaspal Singh of Saheri village.

In the inquiry report, the investigating officer, Mr Daljit Singh, SDM, said a complaint was filed in the Morinda police station by Charanjit Singh against Jaspal Singh. On the basis of the complaint, Head Constable Shingara Singh and Constable Manoj Kumar, along with Surjit Singh and Gurmit Singh, uncle and father, respectively, of the complainant, went to the residence of Jaspal Singh but he was not present there. His mother told Shingara Singh they would produce him in the police station at 11 am the next day.

The report said as per the police version, Surjit Singh went to the police station at about 10 pm and told the police that Jaspal Singh had returned to his residence and was abusing them. On this, Manoj Kumar along with Surjit Singh went to bring Jaspal Singh to the police station. For this purpose, the scooter of Surjit Singh was used.

Jaspal Singh was brought to the police station at 10.55 pm and interrogated by Shingara Singh in the presence of Surjit Singh. As Jaspal Singh started quarrelling with Surjit Singh, he fell down. Saliva started oozing from his mouth. He was rushed to hospital at about 11.30 pm where he was declared dead.

After verifying the police version from other sources, the inquiry officer maintained that Jaspal Singh was taken from his residence at about 10 pm by Manoj Kumar and Surjit Singh and was brought to the police station at about 11 pm. The police took about 1 hour to bring Jaspal Singh to the police station even though the distance from the house of Jaspal Singh to the police station could be covered in 15 minutes. It can be concluded that the youth was detained en route to the police station for about 30-40 minutes.

As per the statements of other detainees, Jaspal Singh was not in a position to move when he was brought to the lock-up. It seemed he had been beaten before being brought to the police station. They said Manoj Kumar and Surjit Singh were under the influence of liquor.

The inquiry officer concluded that Manoj Kumar and Surjit Singh consumed liquor while returning to the police station after arresting Jaspal Singh. Jaspal Singh might have been tortured. Out of terror, he might have consumed organo phosphorus, a deadly pesticide, which led to his death.

The inquiry officer maintained that it could be said beyond doubt that the arresting and the investigating officer had acted in a manner to favour the complainant. He also indicted the accused police official of not taking the youth to hospital on time.

However, the inquiry still leaves several questions unanswered. It has been concluded in the post-mortem and the magisterial inquiry that Jaspal Singh died due to poisoning. Both reports favour the suicide theory.

In the magisterial inquiry it has been concluded that he consumed poison en route to the police station. It has, however, failed to point out from where he got the poison.

Moreover, medical experts are of the view that organo phosphorus starts reacting in the body within 15 minutes of intake. After that, the person undergoes unbearable pain.

Had Jaspal Singh consumed the poison, the reaction would have started before he was brought to the police station.

However, according to the statements of the detainees it did not seem like he was in pain. As per the police version, he was shifted to hospital at about 11.30 pm, half an hour after he was brought to the police station. It seems unlikely that he would have been in a position to stay in the police station after consuming the poison.

The case is to come up for hearing before the human rights commission tomorrow.


BJP seeks 3 seats
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 17
The district unit of the BJP has asked the Shiromani Akali Dal to give three Assembly seats — Sangrur, Lehragaga and Dhuri — to the party in the ensuing Assembly elections.

A resolution in this regard was adopted at a meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Jagdish Rai, president of the district unit, at Malerkotla yesterday.

The meeting also reviewed the progress made in the formation of the party units at the booth-level in the district. The units are to be set up by August 31.

The meeting also discussed the party’s constituency-wise strength, preparations for the ensuing Assembly elections and the SAD-BJP relations in Punjab.

On the occasion, Mr Vinod Gupta from Sunam was made district president of the beopar cell of the party.

The meeting was also attended by Mr Prem Gugnani, general secretary of the district unit, Mr Jatinder Kalra, MC from Sangrur, Dr Malwinder Bhardwaj, Mr Ram Singh, Ms Ranjit Kaur MC, and Mr Mahinder Bawa.


PPCC portfolios reshuffled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, has distributed work and allocated districts to various office-bearers to gear up the party machinery in the state.

Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, general secretary of the PPCC, has been given charge of the party office and general administration, Mr Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi will be general secretary attached to the PCC chief and will also oversee coordination work with the AICC. Mr Birdevinder Singh has been made general secretary in charge of frontal organisations and cells, while Mr Arvind Khanna will remain treasurer.

Mrs Garcha said the state had been divided into three zones and each zone would be looked after by a vice-president and a general secretary. Dr Kewal Krishan vice-president and Mr Upinder Sharma, general secretary have been given charge of Zone 1, comprising Amritsar, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Ropar, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts. They would be assisted by vice-presidents-Chowdhary Gurmail Singh, Mr Brij Lal Goyal and Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar and general secretaries Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Mr Darshan Singh Brar and Dr Raj Kumar.

For Zone 2, Mr Lal Singh, vice-president and Mr Ishar Singh, general secretary will be in charge of Ludhiana, Moga, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts. They would be assisted by vice-presidents Ramesh Chander Dogra, Tej Parkash Singh and general secretaries Gurbinder Singh Atwal and Abdul Gaffar.

Mr Avtar Henry, vice-president, and Mrs Malti Thapar, general secretary, will be in charge of Zone 3 comprising Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Mansa, Bathinda and Sangrur districts. They would be assisted by vice-presidents Partap Singh Bajwa, Sardool Singh and general secretaries Surinder Kapoor and Vijay Sathi.


BJP MCs leave minister’s meeting
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 17
Mr Krishan Kumar Garg and Mr Basant Bhatia, both municipal councillors (MCs) of the BJP, today said they left the meeting convened by the Punjab Science and Technology Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, in the Municipal Council Hall today.

Mr Krishan Kumar Garg and Mr Bhatia told TNS on phone that they left the meeting when the minister could not answer their queries and tried to snub them.

They alleged that the local council authorities had failed to hold election for the post of the vice-president which was due since March 28.

The members of the house tax sub-committee had not been changed during the past three and a half years. They added that these incidents reflected that there was no democracy in the council affairs.

Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, who is also a group leader of the BJP municipal councillors, alleged that citizens were being looted by the council authorities by levying heavy house taxes from them.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, President, Municipal Council, when contacted, said no MC left the meeting of the minister. He claimed that Mr Garg and Mr Bhatia were to reach some other venue and left the meeting when it started raining.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, when contacted, said he met the municipal councillors today to express thanks for the landslide victory of SAD candidates in the recently held elections of Land Mortgage Bank in the district.

He denied that he ever tried to snub any one. He claimed that no municipal councillor left the meeting convened by him.


Tributes paid to Brig Shergill
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 17
Glowing tributes were paid to Brigadier late Balwinder Singh Shergill of Daangarh village, about 15 km from here, who laid down his life while fighting terrorists in Kupwara sector of Kashmir last year, at the bhog of Sehaj Path held in Gurdwara Tapiana Sahib, Daangarh, Sunday.

The Shaheed Brigadier Balwinder Singh Shergill Foundation and the village panchayat had organised three-day first death anniversary functions in his memory.

Prominent among others who paid homage to him yesterday included Sant Balbir Singh Ghunas, MLA, Bhadaur, Sant Baba Tek Singh, president, district Sangrur Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Pandit Som Dutt, former Punjab Minister, Paramjit Singh Khalsa, general secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Dr Teja Singh Tilek.

Sant Baba Tek Singh on the behalf of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra offered a cheque worth Rs 5 lakh from the MP Local Area Development Fund for the construction of a stadium to Dr Shavinder Singh Shergill, a brother of Brigadier Shergill, who is also the Chairman of the foundation. Sant Baba Tek Singh urged the Punjab Government to set up a medical or dental college in the Brigadier’s memory.

Mr Paramjit Singh Khalsa offered a cheque for Rs 1 lakh on the behalf of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Sangrur, MP.

The Daangarh panchayat honoured family members of Brigadier Shergill with siropas, including Mrs Surjit Kaur (mother), Mrs Harinderpal Kaur (wife), Dr Shavinder Singh Shergill (brother), Miss Parneet Kaur and Miss Harkirat Kaur, both daughters.


Book SSF leader, demand migrants
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 17
The Uttar Pradesh Kalyan Parishad (UPKP), a welfare organisation of migrants, has demanded the registration of a criminal case against Mr Iqbal Singh Tung, senior vice-president, Sikh Students Federation, (SSF), for allegedly using objectionable language against a non-Punjabi IPS officer, Mr R.K. Jaiswal, in front of Kotwali police station here today.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, Mr R.C. Yadav, Mr Sukhvir Singh and Dr Kamlesh Yadav alleged that Mr Tung wanted to create communal tension for vested interests.

Earlier, Mr Tung and second rung leaders of the SSF, the Congress and the BJP had alleged that Mr Jaiswal, SP, had used objectionable language against Punjab and Punjabis.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagdish Singh Kahlon, SP (City), has started an inquiry into allegations that Mr Jaiswal had acted in a biased manner to favour a migrant labour.

It may be mentioned here that a minor dispute over playing of cricket in Judge Nagar colony had led to the unsavory situation. While the UPKP had alleged that a 22-year-old son of a migrant labourer was taken to Vijay Nagar police station and was forced to lick the shoes and made to craw, Mr Tung and other leaders had alleged that Mr Jaiswal had personally intervened to teach Punjabis a lesson. Mr Jaiswal had transferred the ASI, Head Constable and constable to the Police Lines in this connection.

While the SSF leader has threatened to take the matter with the Chief Minister who is expected to reach India on July 20, the UPKP has threatened to take to the streets if any non-Punjabi officer was made a “scapegoat”. The UPKP has alleged that already Mr A.P. Pandey, IG, Border, was transferred on political grounds.

The UPKP has warned that if state government continues to give a stepmotherly treatment to non-Punjabi officers, Mr Badal should forget dreaming about becoming the Chief Minister in the next elections. He said there were more than 18 lakh migrants in Ludhiana alone who would influence the poll outcome. The parishad said Mr Badal should take effective measures against forces bent upon creating regional and communal tension.

The UPKP produced the boy, his mother and other family members at the press conference. They alleged that Rajesh Saini, posted as wireless operator in the Punjab police, had severely beaten up the boy and had then taken him to the police.


Third building collapses in 17 days
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 17
A building, constructed over a century ago, collapsed at Katra Maha Singh, near Ramgarhia School, last evening. No one was hurt as its occupants were away and the road on which its debris fell was empty at the time.

Incidentally, a mild earthquake was felt in the city around 9.21 p.m. yesterday.

Residents of the area said that an earlier mild tremor could have destabilised the double-storey building that had two shops on its ground floor and four rooms on the first floor. The building collapsed around 7.30 p.m.

Mr Om Parkash, a tenant, resided on the top floor while Mr Banarsi Das had a bakery shop on the ground floor. The building belonged to Mr Ram Chand.

Residents of the area also told this correspondent that repair work on a neighbouring shop could have been a factor responsible for the collapse.

This is the third building in the city that has collapsed in the past 17 days.

A multi-storey building collapsed on June 30 at Katra Ahluwalia, near Ghanta Ghar Chowk, in Dharake Gali, killing three members of a family. A house collapsed in the Gujjarpura area on July 8, killing a rickshaw puller.


SGPC poll rolls
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The electoral rolls for the forthcoming election of the SGPC members would be prepared on the basis of the existing provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, which would enable both Sehajdhari and Keshadhari Sikhs to be enrolled as voters.

Mr Gurdev Singh, Secretary of the Gurdwara Election Commission, said in a statement that in view of the provisions of Clause (9) of Section 2 and Section 49 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, a Keshadhari as well as a Sehajdhari Sikh as defined in clause 10(A) of Section of the Act, and who is more than 21 years of age, is entitled to be enrolled as a voter provided that he does not smoke or take alcoholic drinks. In case of Sehajdhari Sikh he not trim his beard or keshas.

As provided under the Sikh Gurdwara Board Election Rules, 1959, for registration a voters, Sehajdhari Sikhs shall have to make declaration in Form 1-A and Keshadhari Sikhs in Form 1.

Mr Gurdev Singh further said all individuals and organisations, whether political, social or religious interested in the forthcoming SGPC elections were welcome to send their views and get further information from the office of the Gurdwara Election Commission, preferably by appointment. The work on preparation of the electoral rolls was likely to begin in the near future.

case: doc records statement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 17
An accused-turned state approver, Dr Balwinder Singh Sohal, today recorded his statement in the case relating to the mysterious death of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur, under Section 209 of the CrPC.

Dr Sohal recorded his statement before CBI Special Magistrate, Jaspinder Singh Heyer. The statement of Dr Sohal remained inconclusive today and he will record the remaining part tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel today filed an application stating that they should be provided with documents relating to the anticipatory bail applications filed by Dr Sohal in Chandigarh as well as the statement filed before the Delhi Metropolitan Magistrate and the application seeking pardon from the state.

The magistrate directed the CBI to provide copies of the documents tomorrow. All accused, including Bibi Jagir Kaur, her confidant Dalwinder Singh Dhesi, Paramjit Singh Raipur, personal security officer Nishan Singh, servants Sanjeev Kumar and Harvinder and maid servant Satya Devi were present in the court.


Banners give ugly look to city
Anita Tayal

Patiala, July 17
Marketing is important for businessmen, but the manner in which banner advertisements are being allowed to flourish in the city, is not right.

Businessmen have littered the city with banners and even punitive action by the Municipal Corporation does not deter them. “Cases should be registered against advertisers for this offence,” said Narinder Singh, a consumer. He said banners and other such forms of advertising were not only a nuisance from the cleanliness point of view, but are also traffic hazards.

Banners that advertise all kinds of products and services are commonly seen hanging on electricity poles and streetlights here. Advertisements on steel plates can be seen pinned to tree trunks.

Advertisement posters can also be seen on walls near the bus stand, cinema halls, educational institutes and even houses. However, cloth banners are in shocking abundance here.

This method of advertising is economical for manufacturers, but a nuisance for citizens. Mr Naresh Jain, a businessman, said, “Such banners not only spoil the beauty of the city walls but also give one an irritating feeling when one finds these everywhere.”

It is embarrassing for residents of local colonies to find these banners hanging on their walls. Ms Meena Bakshi, a school teacher, said, “The administration should get these banners removed or ensure that these are displayed properly at right places.”



Taj group offers to maintain Taj Mahal
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 17
Mrs Komal Anand, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, has disclosed that the management of the Taj Group of Hotels has offered to maintain and preserve the Taj Mahal in Agra and the offer is under the consideration of the Centre.

Talking to newspersons here today, Mrs Anand said the Japan government had offered a grant of Rs 15 crore for the maintenance of the Ajanta-Ellora caves.

Mrs Anand said the income of the department had increased to Rs 85 crore from Rs 7 crore, especially, through the sale of entry tickets to foreign visitors who came to the country for sight-seeing.

Mrs Anand said there were 3,606 heritage buildings in India of which 38 were in Punjab and the ASI had been spending Rs 250 crore annually on the maintenance of these buildings.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Aggarwal, said the ASI had undertaken the repair work of the district courts building and the rest house.

He said the ASI would give Rs 5 lakh each for the repair of the clock tower and the Moorish mosque.


Dharna to protest against pollution
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 17
Residents of the areas surrounding the Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd (GACL) unit and the Ropar thermal plant today sat on a dharna in front of the main gate of the plant. They were protesting against the pollution caused by the units in the area. It was affecting their health badly, they said.

Leaders of the Ambuja Peerhit Committee, an organisation floated by residents of about 30 villages of the area, alleged that the fly ash ponds created by the thermal plant had led to water-logging in the fields. The fly ash has also contaminated the underground water due to which residents were suffering from serious ailments. The trucks carrying fly ash through the villages had made their life miserable, they alleged. They alleged that hardly any resident of the area had been given employment in the units. The SAD-BJP government had earlier promised to produce relief to the villagers during the elections, but none of the leaders had fulfilled his promises.

Meanwhile, the management of the GACL refuted the charges of villagers at a press conference. The spokesperson of the company, Mr A.C. Verma, alleged that only some vested interests were dragging the name of the GACL into the matter. The GACL was consuming about 3,97,129 tonnes of fly ash generated by the thermal plant per month to manufacture the cement. So the company was reducing pollution in the area, he claimed. About the trucks carrying fly ash, he said the fly ash was being transported in closed tankers. There was no question of fly ash spreading in the area. The company had provided employment to the residents as most of the trucks hired by the company belonged to them. The GACL has also spent crores on eco-friendly schemes in the area, he claimed.


Widow’s wait over
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 17
After a year and two months, Gian Kaur, a widow of Pakhoke village, has succeeded in getting a case registered against those responsible for the murder of her son Harvinder Singh (24). Gian Kaur had to take the assistance of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the case registered.

According to information, Harvinder Singh was found dead under mysterious circumstances on May 26, 2000. The police station registered a report under Section 174, Cr PC and no post-mortem was performed.

Gian Kaur made allegations against certain persons and lodged a petition in the high court to get a case registered against three persons of the same village. On the instructions of the court, the police registered a case.


Artificial limbs distributed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 17
More than one lakh saplings will be planted and an eye check-up camp for 50,000 people will be undertaken during the year by the Lions Club, Patiala Fort, apart from various other development projects, including free distributions of artificial limbs.

This was stated by the club members during the distribution function of artificial limbs by Mrs Ravinder Kaur Bir, chairperson, Red Cross, at the Fitment and Handicapped Rehabilitation Centre here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr K.K. Mangla, President of the club, appreciated the development process initiated by Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Deputy Commissioner, for bringing improvement in society. Mr Mangla said that this year medicines worth Rs 12 lakh and clippers, tricycles, hearing aids and other amenities worth Rs 15 lakh had been distributed among the needy.


Aggarsen jayanti a holiday
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The Punjab Government has decided to declare a holiday on October 17 (Wednesday) on account of Sri Maharaj Aggarsen Jayanti, it was officially announced here today.


Rice scandal at Nabha: millers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
A group of rice millers from Nabha uncovered a major rice scandal here today. Addressing a press conference, they said though the focal point of the scandal was Nabha, but it had spread all over the state.

They also sent a representation to the top brass of the Food Corporation of India and other authorities concerned in the Union Government.

Urging the Union Government to order a CBI inquiry into the scandal, the rice millers said an inquiry would expose those involved in the scandal.

Giving details of the scandal, they said there were certain rice millers in the Nabha area who bought rejected rice from the FCI at Rs 595 per quintal. But the same rice was mixed in the fresh rice stock and again sold to the FCI at rates above Rs 900 per quintal. By doing so, the rice millers made a fast buck. In Nabha alone, certain millers made Rs 3 crore allegedly in connivance with certain FCI officials.

They said the rice sold by the certain rice millers to the FCI should be seized immediately and its samples should be tested at the appropriate level. Copies of the complaint had been sent to Mr Bhure Lal, FCI Chairman, and Mr Shanta Kumar, Union Minister for Food and Consumer Affairs.

They have given also details of the godowns where the old rice and fresh rice stocks are stacked.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
The Punjab Government has transferred Mr Harjit Singh, Special Secretary (Elections) and posted him as Special Secretary, Medical Education and Research against a vacant post.


Preet is Director, Health Services

Chandigarh, July 17
The Punjab Government has appointed Dr G.S. Preet as a regular Director of Health Services following the approval of his name by the Departmental Promotion Committee. He has assumed charge of his office with immediate effect.


Robbery sends shock waves
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, July 17
In a daring daylight robbery an armed gang robbed gold jewellery, cash and other valuables from a house in C-block in Ranjit Avenue yesterday.

The police continues to be clueless about the identity of the criminals as well as about the Contessa car which they used to commit the crime. The owner of the house, Mr Rajesh Jain, senior general manager with a leading agro-processing industry, said here that his family members, including his wife, mother and two daughters, were threatened at gunpoint by two tall clean-shaven youths brandishing revolvers.

Giving details of the incident, Mr Jain said at about 12.30 in the afternoon two persons walked into the house with a box of sweets, saying that it had been sent by one of their relatives.

After getting entry into the house, the two asked for water and immediately thereafter took out their revolvers and asked his daughters to hand over Rs 5 lakh along with a pistol lying in the house. When they failed to get any response to their demand they threatened to kill the women folk in case they did not hand over the cash, jewellery and other valuables lying in the house. Mr Jain added that the duo ransacked the entire house at gunpoint and searched each and every cupboard. They took away valuables worth over Rs 3 lakh.

While fleeing they gagged his mother, wife and two daughters and locked them up in the bathroom. They threatened to kill them in case they shouted for help. The dacoits also snapped the telephone connection and took away the telephone along with small household items.

According to eyewitnesses the other accomplices of the two youths were waiting outside in an off-white car in which they made their escape.

This daylight robbery has sent shock waves in the locality. The SSP, Mr P.P.S. Sidhu, told The Tribune today that the police had rounded up some anti-social elements involved in similar kinds of robberies. When questioned about the ownership of the vehicle the SSP added it had yet to be traced and identified. The police is already working on certain clues and is hopeful of arresting the gang very soon.


Bid to smuggle opium into jail, woman held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda July 17
Ranjit Kaur, wife of Sukhdev Singh, a prisoner lodged in the local Central Jail, was today caught by the jail authorities while she was trying to smuggle opium into the jail.

Information gathered by Tribune News Service revealed that Ranjit Kaur, who came to meet her husband here today, had opium in her possession.

The opium was seized when the woman jail guard posted at the main gate of Central Jail carried out a search on her person.

Mr Nirmal Chand, Superintendent, Central Jail, said that after the matter came to the notice of the jail authorities, the district police was informed immediately. He said the case was now with the civil lines police station.

Sukhdev Singh is undergoing imprisonment after being convicted in a criminal case about one and a half years ago.

This is the fourth incident of smuggling of narcotics and intoxicants into Central Jail in the current year.

The jail authorities caught Gurcharan Singh, a convict in an NDPS Act case, Gurmeet Singh, Jaswinder Kaur and Gurlabh Singh (outsiders) red-handed while they were trying to smuggle intoxicants and narcotics into the jail.

Central Jail authorities have deployed women guards at various strategic points to check the menace of smuggling of narcotics and intoxicants by women who come to meet their kin lodged in the jail.

Mr Nirmal Chand, said every inmate was searched when he or she used to return to his cell after meeting friends or relatives in the meeting room.

He said that during meetings of prisoners and undertrials with their acquaintances, an officer of the rank of Assistant Superintendent was always present in the meeting room.


346 crates of liquor seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 17
The district excise and taxation authorities have seized 346 crates of liquor smuggled from Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh from a mill at Chauke village yesterday. Gamdur Singh, one of the accused, has been arrested.

A team of excise officials and police personnel raided the premises of the accused and others on information and seized 346 crates countrymade liquor manufactured in Madhya Pradesh.

Sources said after smuggling the liquor from Gwalior to Chauke the accused used to convert it to Patiala Orange and Patiala Rose brands and sell them in market.

Caps and labels of various brands of liquor in large quantity had also been seized from the premises.

This is the second major recovery made by the excise and police officials. Earlier, hundreds of boxes of liquor smuggled from Delhi to Rampura were seized.

A senior official of the Excise Department said on condition of anonymity if the investigations were made the department would be able to check liquor smuggling which had been causing a great loss to state exchequer.

The others involved in the crime have been identified as Om Parkash, alias Omi, and Gurmeet Singh. A case under Section 61 of the Excise Act, Sections 420, 472 and 473 IPC, and Sections 78 and 79 of the Trade and Merchant Act has been registered.


GND varsity MoU with firm
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 17
Guru Nanak Dev University has signed an MoU with Panacea Biotec Limited, a New Delhi-based healthcare company. Under this MoU, the company will release funds to the tune of Rs 1.35 crore for research in Genomics under a project sanctioned to Dr Jai Rup Singh, Coordinator of the Centre for Genetic Disorders of the university.

The MoU was signed by Dr Bawa, Registrar of the university, and Dr Jai Rup Singh with Mr Rajesh Jain, Director, Panacea Biotec Limited. The university Vice-Chancellor, Dr Soch, said this step would lay a strong foundation for collaborative research.

Dr Satvir Singh, Dean (Academic Affairs), welcomed Panacea Biotec for signing the MoU, and looked forward to continuing interaction between the two institutions. Dr Jai Rup Singh said the project would cover genetic analysis of certain diseases and identification of new genes.



Sale of fake experience certificates on
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 17
Following the decision of the state government to recruit 7,230 teachers against vacant posts, several private schools of the district have allegedly started selling fake experience certificates to job seekers.

Experience certificates carry weightage in assessing the merit of a candidate, one mark being given for each year of teaching experience. Inquiries made by this correspondent revealed that an experience certificate could be procured from private schools for a price ranging from Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000, depending on the period of service sought.

The experience certificates must be countersigned by the District Education Officer (DEO) concerned.

Ms Bhupinder Kaur, DEO(S), Mansa, said that before countersigning the certificates, the record of attendance of the candidate was checked. However, inquiries revealed that no record of any kind was being maintained in the district education office regarding how many certificates were issued by a particular school.

On an average, every DEO of the area is countersigning 30 to 40 certificates every day. The boom in the sale of fake certificates can be gauged from the fact that some schools have issued more experience certificates than the faculty on their rolls. A reputed government-aided private school was in the eye of the storm during the previous recruitment of teachers after it issued hundreds of experience certificates against a strength of 30 faculty members. When the matter was noted by senior authorities in the Education Department, the school authorities allegedly stage-managed a fire in their record room in which attendance records were destroyed.

When contacted, principals of many schools refuted the allegations that fake certificates were being sold. They, however, admitted that some schools had issued more than 100 experience certificates, out of which, many were due to political pressure.

Sources said that only two recognised private high schools were running in the district, whereas there were 24 recognised primary schools. However, many affiliated high schools are functioning in the district.

Ms Parkash Kaur, DEO(P), told this correspondent that she was countersigning certificates issued by recognised primary schools only. Inquiries made by this correspondent revealed that the DEO(S) was countersigning certificates of both recognised and affiliated schools.


Decision to extend VC’s tenure flayed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 17
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, has taken exception to the Punjab Government’s decision to grant extension to the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, Dr J.S. Guram.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, which was released to the Press here today, Ms Chawla expressed her annoyance at the extension. She said he was facing an inquiry for allegedly misbehaving with some women employees of the university.

She said a probe had been conducted against the Vice-Chancellor, in spite of the indictment, Punjab Government went ahead to give him another extension.


ETT students boycott test
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 17
Students of the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) today boycotted the house test and held a rally in the institution against the decision of the government to appoint B.Ed. candidates on the posts meant for ETT students.

Mr Satwinder Singh, president of the DIET students union, said in a press note issued here today the decision to boycott papers was taken by the state unit of the union. He said the students sat on a dharna in front of the institution. He said the students were wearing black badges.

He said resentment prevailed among students that the authorities were not paying any attention towards the members of their union who were sitting on an indefinite fast at Chandigarh.

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