Thursday, July 19, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Can statues of Sikh Gurus be installed?
Vedanti asks Talwandi to convene meeting
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
In a significant development, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, has written to Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC to convene a meeting of representatives of the Sikh institutions who should take a decision on whether statues of Sikh Gurus, warriors and others could be installed or not?

In Sikhism, the installation of statues and idol worship is decried. A Sikh scholar, Mr Gursewak Singh Bathinda, recently pointed out the indifferent attitude of the Sikh Panth towards the rising trend of installing statues of Sikh Gurus, Sahibzadas (sons of Gurus) and Sikh warriors in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country. Mr Gursewak Singh wrote that more than 50 such statues of Gurus alone had already been installed at different places, including roads. He asked the scholars, why the trend was not being stopped.

Jathedar Vedanti has asked Mr Talwandi to convene a meeting of all sections of the Sikh Panth without delay for taking up this issue. He said the issue had caught the attention of the Sikh masses which needed to be clarified at the earliest.

Though the trend of the installation of statues of Sikh Gurus is on the rise in the Malva region yet the Majha region is not lagging behind in this regard. Recently, the statue of a Sikh warrior in front of a gurdwara on the G.T. Road was installed which could be a great traffic hazard in the coming years. Similarly, statues of Sikh warriors like Sardar Jassa Singh Ramgarhia were also installed in the Majha region recently.

Interestingly, in the light and sound programme, produced by the Public Relations Department, the legendry Maharaja Ranjit Singh was not shown anywhere during the two hour show. However, the SGPC had given a written permission to the state government that Maharaja Ranjit Singh could be shown in plays or in the light and sound programme. It is clear that if the SGPC convenes a meeting of Sikh institutions, a consensus could be evolved to ban the installation of the statues of Gurus. However, the meeting could allow the installation of the statues of warriors on the condition that they should not be worshipped.

The Sikh High Priests are likely to meet at Akal Takht Secretariat in a day or so in which the malady of installing of the statues of the Sikh Gurus could be taken up. The Sikh clergy may also discuss at length other issues like the Nanakshahi calendar which has been kept pending for the past about two years. The Dharm Parchar Committee of the SGPC has recently sent a request to Sikh clergy to take decision on the controversial calendar. However, the Sikh clergy kept the case pending in the previous meeting as many heads had already rolled after its implementation. Giani Puran Singh, the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, was removed when he stopped the implementation of the controversial calendar. Giani Puran Singh, in his capacity as Jathedar, Akal Takht, had also excommunicated the then SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur and three Sikh High Priests by issuing hukamnamas in connection with the calendar controversy.

The other ticklish Panthic issues include the case of Baba Dhanwant Singh of Gurdaspur and Gurdwara Talwara (Hoshiarpur district). 


Deadlock over WSC issue continues
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 18
Even as Akal Takht has not accepted the resignation of Justice Kuldip Singh (retd) as Chairman of the World Sikh Council (WSC) even after two months, the general secretary of the rival group of the WSC, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann, has written a three-page letter to the Sikh clergy to forge panthic unity in the wake of the forthcoming general elections of the SGPC and the Assembly due next year.

However, according to sources, the Jathedar of Akal Takht is unlikely to heed the suggestions of Mr Mann on two accounts: First, the rival faction of the WSC had appointed Mr Didar Singh Bains, the America-based richest Sikh of the world, as Chairman a day before the Sikh clergy held a meeting at Akal Takht; and second, the Akal Takht Jathedar is reportedly sore over the performance of the other faction of the WSC as it is not taking any decision with the constitution of the council. As per the constitution of the WSC, the Jathedar of Akal Takht is patron and any decision can be taken with the consent of the Jathedar.

However, while talking to TNS on phone, Mr Mann alleged that the council had to appoint Mr Bains as Chairman as at the closed-door meeting held in the office of the SGPC, there were clear signals that Justice Kuldip Singh would be appointed as Chairman of both groups. He also sent the minutes of the meeting held on May 12 in Amritsar.

Mr Mann in his letter addressed to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, said the Sikh clergy should directly intervene to unite the panthic force as per the aspirations of the sangat. He alleged that at the behest of some intelligence agencies, some anti-panthic forces were active to denigrate the Sikh institutions. Mr Mann suggested that Akal Takht should constitute an advisory committee to bring rapprochement among the warring panthic factions. He said the Jathedar might include Mr Didar Singh Bains as Chairman of one faction of the council.

The sources said the issue of the WSC was unlikely to be resolved, at least in the near future. The then Jathedars, Bhai Ranjit Singh and Giani Puran Singh, had also made vain attempts to resolve the matter. It is for the second time that Justice Kuldip Singh had tendered his resignation to the Sikh clergy.


Clarification on Sikh voter
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
Mr Gurdev Singh, secretary, Gurdwara Election Commission, today clarified that according to the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, a Keshdhari Sikh as well as Sehajdhari Sikh was entitled to be enrolled as a voter subject to the condition that he does not smoke or take alcoholic drinks and, except in the case of a Sehajdhari Sikh, does not trim his beard or kesh.

He maintained that the condition of trimming the beard or kesh does not apply to Sehajdhari Sikhs.


Rights Secy finds jail overcrowded
Probe held in custodial deaths 
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 18
Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), who visited the local Central Jail here today to make an on-the spot inquiry into the mysterious deaths of inmates in the recent past and to hear their grievances reportedly found that prisoners and undertrials had been facing problem on account of acute shortage of medical staff and overcrowding.

Official sources said the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had ordered an inquiry into the custodial death of Vipan Kumar in hospital at Faridkot where he was shifted from the local Central Jail.

Sources added that the PSHRC took suo motu notice of media reports published in The Tribune also in connection with the mysterious deaths of jail inmates.

About five jail inmates have died under mysterious circumstances in the local Central Jail in the past about 50 days.

The inmates also complained that they were being maltreated and beaten up by the jail staff. One of the inmate alleged that his hair were trimmed when he tried to raise his voice against injustice.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, District Magistrate and a senior police official also accompanied the Principal Secretary of PSHRC to the Central Jail. Mr Bhatnagar recorded the statements of the inmates in connection with their problems.

The sources said there were more than 1100 inmates in the Central Jail against the official capacity of 800. The inmates had been observing fast in protest against the installation of iron cross-grill in the meeting hall.

In the past 50 days, the local Central Jail had witnessed about mysterious deaths of five inmates which included Jagjit Singh, Balbir Singh, Anwar, Rajinder Singh and Vipan Kumar, all inmates of the Central Jail had died under mysterious circumstances in the past 50 days. Most of them were facing trial or had been convicted under the NDPS Act.

Mr Ladhar, when contacted, said he had sanctioned Rs 1 lakh for the installation of four water coolers in the jail.

The jail authorities had been asked to arrange medicines through the district Red Cross Society in case of emergency.

Informations gathered by TNS revealed that the jail authorities had been facing acute shortage of medical staff.

At present only a doctor and a pharmacist are working here against the sanctioned strength of two doctors and two pharmacist.

The district administration had taken up the matter with state health authorities for providing adequate medical staff in the local Central Jail which had been overcrowded due to the shifting of inmates from the Faridkot Central Jail to the local jail.

The sources said after making inquiries, Mr Bhatnagar will submit his report to the PSHRC shortly and the PSHRC will take action against the guilty after receiving the report.


Jail staff “thick with drug peddlers”
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
While intelligence agencies have sent reports of trafficking growing prevalence of drug trafficking in the local central jail, to the Home Secretary there seems no visible action to prevent it. Hence, the drug smuggling, addiction and sale in the jail premises continues unabated as jail employees are allegedly partronise the illegal activity. Involvement of employees can be gauged from the fact that warden Paramjit Singh was booked when a drug dealer Satpal Singh revealed his contacts in the trade a few months ago.

When contacted Mr Hardip Singh Chabba, Deputy Superintendent Jail, admitted this fact.

Sources also point out that mobile phones are being smuggled inside the jail to conduct drug trade from inside prison cells. However, Mr Chabba says this is not in his knowledge although he admits that drug business in jail was up to 70 per cent but has come down due to stricter searches in the jail and of visitors.

Drugs are carried inside the jail, by inserting drug into tablets in a loaf of bread. Similarly a plastic packet containing tablets of smack or heroin powder is dropped into the milk carried to the jail. Mr Chabba says most of the detections so far, are made from clothes and shoes.

Sources reveal that certain medical shops near the jail make such breads filled with tablets on order.

Sources also reveal that the common code for a consignment of drugs in the jail premises is gaadi aa gayi in the jail parlance from thence all barracks are informed of the new arrival through agents spread out among all 15 barracks of the jail.

“The situation is so bad that among the addicts who constitute nearly 70 per cent, even the clothes are given in barter to procure drugs” reveal sources.

By a rough estimate sources put the drug mafia in the hands of 50 out of the total 1689 jail inmates out of which 117 are women. It is admitted by jail authorities that women too are involved in the sneaking in of drugs. Amongst the total 320 jail employees about 60 are involved not only of in the smooth passage of these drugs but also indulge in attack and threats to those who refuse to fall in line with them.

Mr Chabba admitted that he was given threats several times when he tried to enforce stricter vigil on the activities of these persons. Among the employees that are others who reportedly are stationed here for the past 15 or more years without being transferred and some low-rung employees.

The foremost opportunity for smuggling in drug comes when a prisoner is taken for hearing for trial. However, it has also come to light that prisoners who get permission for medical treatment often use the opportunity to smuggle in drugs. Mr Chabba however stated that anyone caught with banned substances would not be spared.

Reportedly most of the smack and heroin comes from border villages of Bacchiwind, Gagarmaal, Shora etc where it is alleged that 100 per cent of the population was on drugs hence due to this girls of other villages refuse to be given in marriage here.

Meanwhile, a lok adalat was held today in the Central Jail here under Mr Justice V.K. Bali of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Justice Bali reviewed the cases of 125 undertrial prisoners caught for petty crime for four hours and will give their release orders, said Mr Hardip Singh Chabba.


Pak provides access to 29 jailed youths
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 18
The Government of Pakistan had provided Indian consular access to 29 Punjabi boys who were perishing in Balon Central Jail in Baluchistan, said Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Member of Parliament from here.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Channi said 29 Punjabi boys were caught by the police in Turkey and later on sent to Iran where they were beaten up, badly treated and ultimately abandoned in the no man’s land between Pakistan and Iran. Mr Channi said these boys were arrested by the Pakistan Rangers and later on shifted the Balon Central Jail. These boys had gone overseas through travel agents to earn their livelihood, he added.

Mr Channi claimed that on his request Mr Jaswant Singh, Union External Affairs Minister, the Indian Mission in Islamabad had taken up the issue with the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Mr Channi further said these innocent boys who had been victims of unscrupulous travel agents would be released and repatriated to their motherland soon.

Mr Channi urged the state and Union Government to take legal action against those who were involved in illegal human trafficking.


IA served with notice in hijacking case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
The Designated Judge, Anti Hijacking Act, Mr S.N. Aggarwal, today served notice to Indian Airlines for tomorrow in the Kandahar hijacking case.

Arguments will also take place tomorrow on the application filed by defence counsel Brijinder Singh Sodhi demanding that he be allowed to take photograph of the plane. Mr Sodhi had filed an application in this regard citing that the Punjab and Haryana High Court while allowing the application of Indian Airlines to sell the aircraft had said the plane could be photographed.

Counsel for the CBI today objected to the application saying that a local inspection of the ill-fated plane had already been made by a team headed by a judge in which Mr Sodhi was also a participant. Counsel said the CBI had also made available photographs clicked on occasion to the defence counsel and that there was no need of another inspection of the plane.

Mr Sodhi, however, claimed that he was not allowed to click any photograph during the inspection. Meanwhile, Dalip Bhujail, one of the accused filed an application requesting that he be provided free legal aid. The two other accused — Yusuf Nepali and Abdul Latif — had made a similar request earlier.


99 pc pesticides remain in environment: Paroda
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 18
Less than one per cent of pesticides applied to crops reach the target pest while 99 per cent of these remain in the environment and cause pollution. The information was given by Dr R.S. Paroda, Director General, ICAR and Secretary, Department of Agricultural Research and Education, Government of India, New Delhi, in his keynote address delivered at the “Symposium on biocontrol-based pest management for quality crop protection in the current millennium,” which began here today.

Dr Paroda further said this scenario and the serious concern of the people to develop alternate, sustainable and non-polluting strategies had led them to think seriously on an alternate pest-control technology. Biological pest control or biointensive integrated pest management could be the appropriate answer in this situation.

Biocontrol agents provide a natural check to regular pest population without causing pollution to environment and we must make concerted efforts to make integrated pest management (IPM) a people’s movement, said Dr Paroda.

Citing the example of Punjab where attack of pyrilla in sugarcane had been controlled through biological means, Dr Paroda called upon the scientists to develop technologies to replace chemical methods by biocontrol on all other crops. Talking about the rich natural beneficial insect fauna, Dr Paroda said our country was among the 12 “mega diversity” countries and accounted for 6.2 per cent of hymenoptera fauna, which was a large percentage of parasitoids of crop pests.

Dr Paroda said he was proud of the fact that at least 27 natural enemies of pests of Indian origin had established in other countries. The economic benefit of many of these was worth millions of dollars. Out of 18 species of parasitoids imported to the USA for biological suppression of heliothis and helicoverpa, 11 species were from India. This was an indicator of our rich biodiversity. It gives us many opportunities to collaborate with other countries and help their cause in controlling pests through introduction of natural enemies, he said. Dr Paroda said he hoped that by bringing all scientists working on biocontrol on one platform, the national symposium would go a long way in working out the strategies for collaboration.

Dr V.L. Chopra, president of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences and Padma Bhushan Awardee, called for the evolution of knowledge-based technologies, free from involvement of industrial chemicals. He said such technologies should be economical, robust, reliable, practical and ecologically benign. Dr Chopra further said biotechnology had a great role to play to free agricultural production system from the use of toxic chemicals.

Emerging biotechnological approaches for biocontrol of crop pests were in the field of identification of pests and diseases, monitoring genetic variations in natural enemy populations, genetic engineering of natural enemies, production of transgenic plants and plant-associated microbes, genetic engineering for imparting pesticide resistance, he said.

Stressing the role of transgenic plants, Dr Chopra said engineering of plants for crop protection had concentrated on incorporating resistance against insects and diseases into the plant genome or into the genome of plant-associated microorganisms. Dr Chopra called for the careful management of transgenic plants for their deployments in IPM context to maintain natural enemies and development of insect resistance.


Charge sheet against Badal govt soon: Cong
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
The Punjab Congress “charge sheet’ against the Badal government will be ready by next week.

The party’s coordination committee on Punjab, discussed the contents of the charge sheet at a meeting here today and assigned the task of finalising it to Punjab PCC chief Amarinder Singh.

The committee meeting, which was chaired by AICC treasurer Motilal Vora, who is in charge of Punjab affairs, also discussed the names of the members for the party’s campaign committee and manifesto committee. These names would be finalised soon, Mr Vora said.

He said all members of the coordination committee would attend the rallies to be held in various zones of Punjab over the next two months. The first of these rallies is being held at Riya in Tarn Taran area of Amritsar on July 21. Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, is in charge of the rally. The second zonal rally, which was scheduled to be held on August 4 at Phagwara, would now be held on August 5.

The charges likely to be included in the charge sheet are “bad governance of the Badal government, non-fulfilment of election promises, return of separatist elements, corruption, and suppression of SCs and STs.” Except Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Ms Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, the meeting was attended by the other 10 members of the coordination committee.

As the Congress campaign intensifies, the party is likely to have fewer meetings of the coordination committee. The task of organising and coordinating public meetings would be done by the campaign committee which is likely to be finalised in the next two days. Mr R L Bhatia, who heads the campaign committee, has already given his suggestions for the names to be included in the committee. The first meeting of the campaign committee is likely to be held on July 27.

The campaign committee would hold meetings in all 117 constituencies of the state. The party plans to hold at least five rallies in each constituency. Mr Vora along with some other central leaders, will leave for Punjab shortly to supervise the party’s election campaign. To present a picture of unity in the party, attendance of the coordination committee members at the five zonal rallies has been made mandatory. 


Singla heads PPCC media panel
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 18
The Congress high command today constituted a seven-member Punjab Pradesh Congress Media Committee (PPCMC) with Mr Surinder Singla, a former MP, as its chairman.

The other members of the PPCMC are Mr H.S. Hanspal, a former MP, Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa a former PCC chief, Mr Lakhbir Singh Randhawa, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Mr Gulzar Singh, all former ministers, and Mr Satinder Kaur.

Mr Singla said he would soon convene a meeting of the PPCMC in Chandigarh to discuss the work to be undertaken in the run-up to the Punjab Assembly elections.


Power cuts add to misery of patients
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, July 18
Insecurity lurks among the patients at the tuberculosis hospital here because of the failure of power supply to the hospital almost daily at night. The fear is confined not just among the patients; even staff nurses face a similar situation as the hospital premises spread over more than four acres of land is plunged into darkness as evening approaches.

A recent case of a 14-year-old girl allegedly teased by a ward bearer at midnight is a clear indication of the conditions prevailing in the hospital. “The ward bearer gave the excuse that he had misbehaved with my daughter after consuming liquor,” said Alamdin, father of the girl. An inquiry report of the incident would be released by the end of the week, the hospital authorities said.

The hospital with a capacity for nearly 300 patients has less than 60 patients at present. “The hospital that once overflowed with people now looks deserted, says Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA. The number of patients started decreasing from May, 1998, when the hospital started charging for everything from admission to treatment, medicines, diet and investigations.

While diet costs Rs 20 a day, a bed costs Rs 10, said Kiku wife of Nakinder who is a TB patient.

A patient from the lower strata has to dole out money for investigations and medicines in addition to unending overheads for a minimum of a month that a patient normally has to stay in the hospital, says hospital in charge Dr Kulwant Bhatia citing reasons for the poor patient strength.

The hospital cannot accommodate 300 patients now, as more than half the beds are broken and mattresses are in short supply. There is no provision for the attendants’ stay as the sarai attached to the hospital is locked. At night as fans do not work, the wiring hangs loose, bemoans a patient. The hospital has a thick undergrowth all over and a dead tree that fell over the building damaging it has not been removed for months. Repeated requests to the PWD Department for electric repairs have gone unanswered, says Dr Bhatia. There are limited stocks of medicines in the hospital with directions to use these “judiciously”.

Ms Chawla and Dr Bhatia have urged the government to provide medicines to the hospital free of cost and levy no charges for admission and stay there as the building of the hospital is a donated one and poor patients can ill afford to pay such charges.


Scholars at odds on suspension issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 18
Scholars of the Punjabi Lekhak Sabha have taken different stands over the suspension of a research assistant in the Punjabi Language Department headquarters here with the President and General Secretary of the Sabha questioning the locus standi of Sabha Vice-President Tejwant Mann in demanding the removal of the Department Director, Dr Madan Lal Hasija.

Sabha President Jaswant Singh Kamal and General Secretary Dr Joginder Singh Narula today flayed the statement of Tejwant Mann demanding the removal of Mr Hasija as Director of the Language Department. They said the sabha had no link with the statement of Mr Mann on the issue of the suspension of a research assistant and various other alleged cases of victimisation.

Mr Kamal and Mr Nirala said sabha need not comment on the administrative matters of the Language Department saying its basic purpose was to work towards the development of Punjabi language, literature and culture.

The scholars said it had been resolved in the last executive committee meeting of the sabha that only the General Secretary and the President would release statements on behalf of the sabha. They asked Mr Mann to send a copy of his statement to the sabha as well as clarify his position in a week so that the matter could be discussed in the next meeting of the sabha executive. They also clarified that there was no resolution under consideration for removing Dr Hasija from his post nor was there any move to seek an inquiry into the functioning of the department.Mr Mann in a statement demanded an inquiry into alleged corruption in the Language Department during the last some years besides calling for removal of Dr Hasija from the directorship of the department.

Mr Mann had also claimed that employees who were not toeing the line of the Department Director were being victimised while no action was being taken against corrupt employees.


‘Judicial activism needed for courts’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 17
“Judges of the nineties and the Judges of today are somehow more important than the judges of yesteryear simply because they have been called upon to discharge and have fully assumed, far greater responsibilities than their predecessors.”

“Over recent years, judging is longer what it used to be. Judges have now a dominant role in society. And because of this they are more often criticised for what they do and what they say. And yet today, the highest judiciary is also held in highest public esteem. This may sound paradoxical, but it is not. The public turns to the judiciary, and ultimately to the highest judiciary, more for the resolution of its problems- more and more than it ever did in the past.”

These quotes of Lord Bingham, Chief Justice of England and Wales, were used by Mr H.S. Mattewal, Advocate-General of Punjab, to conclude his address of members of the Malaysian Bar at Kuala Lumpur yesterday. Mr Mattewal spoke on “The Role of the Judiciary and the Role of the Government in a Democratic India”.

Mr Mattewal maintained that there was high cost of litigation and awesome delays involved in getting justice through the courts. “We are still saddled with archaic laws, cumbersome procedures. We are still nowhere near fulfilling Gandhiji’s dream of wiping the tears from the eyes of every Indian. A lot needs to be done. The judiciary and the government have to work hand in hand to redeem the preambular promise of justice — social, economic and political. There is no time for pious platitudes but concerted action by all wings of the government is called for to remove the scourge of poverty, literacy, casteism in a spirit of cooperation and humility,” he said.

Tracing the history of judiciary in independent India, Mr Mattewal said starting with six judges in 1950, the Supreme Court at present has a strength of 26. Between January, 1950 and August, 1999, the apex court decided 20,491 cases covering 97,240 printed pages of Indian law reports. It has determinedly endeavoured to ensure that men are ruled by law and not by caprice and that the rule of law becomes the imposing and effective inhibition upon arbitrary power, thereby ensuring to the “citizen the enjoyment of his guaranteed rights consistently with the rights of the society and the State.”

After talking about the period from the 50s to the 90s, Mr Mattewal said the last decade of the 20th century in particular was notable for the way in which issues regarding corruption in high places were highlighted. The charges of corruption involving the Prime Minister, Chief Minister, MPs, private sector managers and operators causing loss of thousands of crores of rupees affected the country and eventually reached the courts. Impeachment proceedings were launched against a sitting Judge of the Supreme Court. The credibility of the political establishment was a low ebb. The Supreme Court took up cudgels on behalf of the citizenry clamouring for action against the guilty.

Mr Mattewal further said the environmental front saw concerted action by the court. There were cases of water pollution due to discharge of toxic effluents by industries on the banks of rivers. The court issued directions to halt this. All this activity on the part of the courts led to the feeling in some circles that the judiciary was overstepping its limits and it was high time it should put a stop to such judicial activism.

“Indignant critics forget that it is the executive’s failure to perform its duty and the notorious tardiness of legislatures that impels judicial activism and provided its motivation and legitimacy. When gross violations of human rights are brought to its notice, the judiciary cannot procrastinate,” Mr Mattewal said quoting Mr Soli Sorabjee.


PUDA ignoring Amritsar: manch
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
The Amritsar Vikas Manch has taken a serious note of Amritsar “being ignored” in all urban developmental schemes by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

In a joint statement, the president of the manch, Mr Mohan Singh, and its senior vice-president, Dr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, said in the Rs 444.25-crore budget of PUDA for 2001-2002, Amritsar received a pittance of just Rs 5 to 6 crore whereas Sahibzada Ajit Singh Nagar received Rs 120 crore, the district administration complexes received Rs 105 crore, various urban estates, except Amritsar, received Rs 44 crore and the new bus stands received Rs 6.48 crore.

The manch alleged that PUDA was investing in urban estates in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Patiala and Bathinda while in Amritsar it had not charted out any such investment.

Mr Gumtala said Amritsar had a religious, historical, cultural, educational, commercial and industrial importance, besides being a tourist destination.

He said PUDA and the municipal corporation had done little for the development of the city due to which many unplanned colonies were mushrooming, besides industrial units, sheds, cold storages, etc in many places and along entry roads to the city.

Mr Gumtala said PUDA should develop a world class centre in Amritsar with good infrastructure to attract multinational companies. He said it should also plan a world class sports complex here to host international matches.

He said PUDA should strictly implement the provision of “no construction” on either side of “reserved” roads.


‘Khooni phatak’ claims another life
Residents block traffic, magisterial inquiry ordered
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, July 18
A large number of residents of trans-railway colonies today blocked rail traffic for many hours following the death of a youth, Rinku, resident of Partap Nagar, after he was crushed to death by a train today.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, District Magistrate, has ordered a magisterial probe into the death of Rinku and announced ex gratia grant of Rs 10,000 to the family members of the deceased. Mr N.K. Vadhawan, PGO, who has been entrusted with the magisterial probe, has been asked to submit his report by July 21.

The incident occurred around 11 a.m. today when Rinku was trying to cross level-crossing number 245-A in the Paras Ram Nagar, notoriously called khooni phatak (the deadly crossing).

The residents have sought a flyover bridge over the crossing.

Rinku was hospitalised by the volunteers of the Sahara Welfare Association but he succumbed to his injuries.

On hearing the news of the youth’s death, a large number of residents of the trans-railway colonies gathered near the crossing.

They blocked the railway traffic by sitting on a dharna on the rail track following which railway authorities had to cancel many trains.

The residents expressed resentment over the fact that whereas volunteers of the Sahara Welfare Association reached the accident site from their office which was more than 2 km away, the railway authorities or the railway police personnel whose offices were near the incident site failed to reach the spot.

They claimed that even the railway employees whose officers were hardly 50 m away did not care to attend the victim. Who had remained on the track with both his legs severed for more than an hour until the residents attended to him and got his body freed.

Mr Vijay Sharma, president of the Khooni Phatak Hatao Sangarsh Committee, while addressing the gathering at the crossing alleged that the authorities did not bother to hear their grievances.

He said they would continue their struggle until an overbridge was built across the crossing.

The residents holding the rally raised slogans against the local railway authorities.

They refused to go to the office of the authorities.

The residents sought magisterial inquiry into the incident. They said they were not satisfied with the dismissal of the person who was on duty at the crossing at the time of the incident.

They said it was always the employees at lower-level who were made scapegoats but the higher officials always went scotfree.

The rail traffic was resumed only after the magisterial inquiry was ordered.


Army to create buffer zone
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 18
The sale of residential plots and the construction of houses have come to a standstill at Bhai Mati Dass Nagar here on the Bathinda-Mansa road on the orders of the Army authorities as the colony falls within the limits of the clearance zone to be created for the safety of the ammunition depot at the local military station.

Residents said some Army men had come to the colony and asked them not to construct houses or make any addition to the existing structures. They had not received any written notice in this regard, they said.

The residents are restive since the district administration and the Army authorities took steps to create a clearance zone around the ammunition depot to avoid any loss of human life and property in case of any mishappening.

The district administration and the Army authorities are planning to acquire 600 acres of land adjoining the depot to make it a buffer zone.

The residents said the Army personnel had visited their houses at least three times within the past three weeks. They also urged municipal councillors and prominent citizens of the colony to ask the other residents not to construct new buildings in the area.

A few days later, they went door to door to give the message. The residents were not given any satisfactory answer when they asked the reason. The residents panicked as some of them had been living there for more than 15 years. They feared that they would have to vacate their dwellings. They said they would meet the district administration and the local MLA on the issue.

The residents argued that when they had got the plan of their houses approved by the authorities they could not be uprooted. They said the administration was giving permission for the construction of buildings in the area recently. They said if the construction within a radius of 1000 yards around the ammunition depot was against the rules, then why had the authorities concerned remained mute spectators to the recent permission.

Some villages like Phoos Mandi, Bhagoo and Gulabgarh also fall within the 1000 yards range. 


Academicians’ plea to save Pingalwara
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
Two prominent academicians of Amritsar — Dr G.S. Bhalla of Guru Nanak Dev University and Mr Gurcharan Singh, a retired Principal — have urged the Punjab Local Government Department and the Amritsar Improvement Trust to slightly change the alignment of a proposed road than force the famous Pingalwara to shift to a new location.

In a joint statement, they said that Pingalwara had been home to the homeless, the disabled, the mentally retarded and orphans. It was a unique institution of North India known throughout the world.

“It is extremely shocking and painful to note that the Amritsar Improvement Trust wants to get the Pingalwara building vacated to construct a road. This will cause immense hardship to the inmates of Pingalwara.”

“The trust should not harm the interests of Pingalwara, which was so keenly nursed by Bhagat Puran Singh and was at present managed by his successor, Dr Inderjit Kaur, with sincerity, devotion and dedication. Instead of honouring or acknowledging the noble services of Pingalwara to humanity, the authorities wanted to get its building demolished, which was condemnable. The trust should change the alignment of the road, they concluded.


1,000 treated at medical camp

The Shankar Dass Daulat Ram Nagpal Charitable Trust organised a free medical camp conducted by a team of eminent specialists.

It was for the first time that specialists from a half dozen branches of medicine provided free consultation to nearly 1,000 patients. Eminent heart specialist Dr Jagmohan Verma, head of the Fortis Heart Institute, Mohali; Dr Aman Arora, head of Medicine and Oncology Department Oswal Hospital, Ludhiana; Dr Sajay Saluja, orthopeadist at PGI, Dr O.P. Munjal and Dr S.K. Saluja well-known dentist and eye specialist of Chandigarh, assisted by about a score of doctors from Fazilka, Abohar, Sriganganagar conducted check ups patients at a camp held at Nagpal Barat Ghar, Abohar. The camp was inaugurated by Dr Jagmohan Verma.

Mr Jagdish Chander Nagpal, president of the Charitable Trust, said a fully-equipped mobile dental van of the CMC, Ludhiana, with their staff for the first time provided service to 150 dental patients.

Besides this, free ECG of 155 patients was conducted by Dr Subhash Nagpal of Abohar. A team of doctors of the Civil Hospital, Abohar, led by Dr J.C. Garg, Chief Medical Officer, and paramedical staff helped run the camp.

Ultra-sound scan on 27 patients was conducted. About 200 pathological tests were carried out.

Drug manufacturers Indswift and German Remedies provided medicines for free distribution at the camp.

A notable feature of the camp was that patients were provided standard medicine in adequate quantity. Two dozen assistance counters were opened for screening and convenience of patients.

The trust chairman, Mr J.C. Nagpal, said another camp would be organised next month.

A multi-facility modern hospital is also proposed to be set up on Malout road by the trust, he added.


Panchayats begin dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
Panchayats of Behman Jassa Singh, Tangrali, Sangat Khurd and Teona Pujarian villages today started an indefinite dharna in front of Government High School, Teona Pujarian, after locking it to lodge their protest against the transfer of a teacher from the school without any replacement and against the non-filling of various posts lying vacant in the school.

The agitators alleged that at present there was no Headmaster in the school, no science teacher and no clerk. They added that a Punjabi teacher had been posted in the school after 22 years.

They alleged that when they went to the district education authorities to lodge their protest over the transfer of the science teacher they were maltreated.

Mr Mohinder Singh Teona, secretary, Punjab Zamindara Union, while talking to TNS pointed out that the authorities concerned had been playing havoc with the future of students by keeping some important posts vacant in the school.

He alleged that some teachers were being adjusted at places of their convenience without taking care of rural schools.

He said this was the main reason that students of rural schools were not faring well in examinations.

The agitators were adamant on their demands and did not agree to withdraw their agitation when the district education authorities held talks with them in this connection.

They asserted that the dharna would continue till their demands were met. The Punjab Government would be responsible for the loss caused to the students on account of the agitation, they said.


Lawyers observe strike against police inaction
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 18
More than 500 lawyers observed strike in the district courts here today in protest against the failure of the district police to arrest the son of a senior official, who allegedly misbehaved with a senior lawyer and damaged his car yesterday.

The district Bar Association passed a resolution at its general house to observe an indefinite strike till the registration of a case against the culprit.

According to Mr Malkiat Singh, a senior lawyer, he was reversing his vehicle near Friends Cinema yesterday when his car accidentally touched the vehicle of Mr Gaurav Sood, who came out of the vehicle and began abusing him. He alleged that Mr Sood hurled a brick at him, which damaged his car.

When contacted, Mr Joga Singh, SHO, police division No 4, said the matter had been settled between the two parties at the police station last evening and Mr Malkiat Singh had also submitted to the police that since a compromise had been reached with Mr Gaurav Sood, he did not want to pursue the matter further. Meanwhile, the district Bar Association has declared that it will organise a procession tomorrow, which will start from new courts to the SSP office, to further highlight the issue.


Protest rally by postal and  telecom staff
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 18
Postal and telecom employees held a protest rally in front of the head post office here today.

The protest rally was held on the call of the confederation against the privatisation policies of the Central Government which included establishment, disinvestment, contracterisation, de-casualisation and downsizing the staff strength in government offices.

Mr Lalit Prashad, leader of the telecom employees, said that the confederation of Central Government employees had also given a call for one-day strike on July 25 against these policies.


Congress activists hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 18
Congressmen today held a dharna in front of the local Secretariat against the alleged violation of the Cooperative Act by the SAD-BJP government in the forthcoming elections for the Directorate of Central Cooperative Bank Limited here. Members of various cooperative bodies associated with the bank also participated in the dharna.

Mr Ramesh Dutt, a former MLA of the Congress from Nurpur Bedi, alleged that the last Board of Director of the bank expired on April 28, 2000. Under the Cooperative Act, the elections for the next body were to be held within six months. But the government failed to conduct the elections on time.

Now that the term of the government was about to expire, it had decided to hold the elections to capture the managing body of the bank, he alleged. The officers of the bank were being transferred arbitrarily, he alleged.

The protesting leaders also submitted a memorandum of their demands to the district authorities.


Cops to return gallantry awards
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 18
Families of the police officers, booked for alleged violation of human rights during decade-long militancy in the state, today demanded immediate withdrawal of these cases.

The affected police personnel and their families at the first ever meeting in a local hotel here today said on condition of anonymity, that instead of receiving bravery rewards for curbing terrorism in the state, hundreds of cases were filed against them for the alleged violation of human rights.

“We have decided to return President’s gallantry awards bestowed on us for bravery for-fighting and stamping out militancy from Punjab as a mark of protest against the failure of the state government to protect their rights”, rued a senior police official.

Another officer said that the Union Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, had also failed to take up their case on priority, who was known for his anti-terrorist stand during those black days of terrorism.

According to official sources more than 600 Punjab Police officials have been facing the trial for alleged human rights violations in the various courts and 35 are languishing in jails.

“If the authorities are claiming that we have conducted fake encounters to eliminate terrorists in violation of the law of the land, why the senior officials including, Deputy Commissioners, SDMs, DIGs and SSPs were spared for certifying those encounters as genuine ones.

In fact, no case had been registered against them so far since they belong to influential political circles,” another officer alleged.


Withdrawal of case against engineers sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 18
Members of the Council of Junior Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today expressed helplessness to keep uninterrupted power supply if the criminal case registered against two staff members was not withdrawn. A decision to this effect was taken in a meeting of the council held here today.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Surinderpal Singh Gill, president of the council of Bathinda circle, alleged that a criminal case had been registered against Hardidar Singh, Assistant Engineer, and Labh Singh, Junior Engineer, by the Vigilance Bureau without making an inquiry into the allegations against them.

He alleged that an influential person of the city was behind the registration of the criminal case against two officials.

He alleged that a fake affidavit was procured from some of the shopkeepers and then a case registered on the basis of it by the Vigilance Bureau without verifying its contents and departmental inquiry into same.

He said if the concerned authorities did not take any action in this regard, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the district administration would be responsible for the consequences.


Havildar cremated with honours
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 18
The mortal remains of Martyr Havildar Madan Lal of 8 JK Rifle who laid down his life during operation Rakshak, near Kupwara in Baramula sector of Jammu and Kashmir on July 15 were consigned to flames with full military honours at his native village Chuck Gujran, 19 km from here, today. He is survived by his wife, three daughters, one son and father.

Earlier, Mr Sohan Singh Bodal, MLA, Mr Paramjit, SDM, Hoshiarpur, Major Mohinder Pal Singh Kakra, District Sainik Welfare Officer, on behalf of the Director Sainik Welfare Punjab, Capt R.S. Minhas on behalf of JCO 11 Core, Subedar Partap Singh on behalf of 91 Sub Area Commander placed wreaths before the body.

According to Major M.S. Kakra, terrorists ambushed a convoy of Army going to Kupwara at 1 a.m. on the night of July 15. The nearby unit of 8 JK Rifle immediately took action, along with the BSF personnel, and cordoned the area. They killed six terrorists during the encounter. Havildar Madan Lal was killed during the exchange of fire.


Panel formed to expose MC bunglings
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 18
Representatives of various political parties, social organisations and prominent citizens formed a committee here on Monday to expose the alleged bunglings of the local municipal council in connection with the execution of various development works.

At a meeting of the committee held on Monday, Mr Inder Singh Dardi, convener of the committee, said bunglings made in the execution of development work by the municipal authorities would be brought the notice of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Local Bodies Minister Balramji Dass Tandon.

He said though the municipal council had purchased streetlight equipment worth Rs 50 lakh in the past four years, they were in a bad shape. He said the council had been burdening residents by imposing house tax while government lands were being sold at throwaway prices.

The other allegations which the committee members made was that Rs 1 crore under the IDMST scheme had not been spent properly.


HC judge visits courts
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 18
Mr Justice V.K. Bali, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, yesterday paid an annual visit to the local courts of Mr Rajinder Aggarwal, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division), and the court of Ms Ranjit Kaur, Additional Civil Judge, (Junior Division).


1 lakh neem trees to be planted
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 18
Mr K.J.S. Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, has said one lakh neem trees will be planted in various government school buildings and vacant land belonging to panchayats in the district.

Mr Cheema stated this while addressing a function organised in connection with “van mahotsav” at Lambi yesterday. He said Rs 15 lakh would be spent on the project.

He claimed that during the last financial year, around 4.38 lakh trees had been planted in the district at a cost of Rs 2 crore. More than one lakh trees were given to farmers of the district under the Farm Forestry Scheme, he added.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
The Tribune carried a news item with the headline “Zaffarwal camping in city” in its issue dated April 3,2001. Subsequent investigations reveal that Wassan Singh Zaffarwal was not present at the wedding reception of a son of a senior Akali leader of Chandigarh in Sector 11.The error is regretted.


10 school kids hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 18
Ten students of Saint Paul Convent School, Dasuya, were injured when a speeding truck collided head on with their school bus near Khanpur on the GT Road today. All the injured students were admitted in Civil Hospital, Mukerian. Eight of the injured were discharged after the first aid and two were referred to CMC, Ludhiana.


Niranjan Singh bereaved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
Mr Dalip Singh, father of Mr Niranjan Singh, Principal Secretary, Tourism, Punjab, died here yesterday. He was 84. He is survived by his wife and three sons.


Regular water supply sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 18
A deputation of the local Consumer Welfare Council has submitted a memorandum to the president of the local Municipal Council, regarding the supply of water to the Ward Number 8, 9, and 10 of the city.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Prem Bhatia, president of the council said for the past few months, the water supply was irregular in some of the areas and the residents were facing problems regarding drinking water.


Class IV staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 18
Members of the Class IV Government Employees Union today held a rally in the city and sat on dharna in front of the office of Superintending Engineer, PWD (B and R), to press their demands.

The call for the rally and dharna was given by the national leadership of the union. The union members shouted slogans against the authorities who were not giving heed to their demands. Mr Gurbant Singh, district general secretary of the union, said that they would continue their agitation until their demands were not accepted. They presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner in this regard.


Set up agro-based industries: officer 
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 18
Mr Harwinder Singh Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer, has said more agro-based industries should be set up in Bathinda as the region has adequate supply of fruits which are used as raw material.

Mr Bhatti said this while addressing a meeting of the Agriculture Production Committee at Rampura Phul yesterday. He said the region was famous for grapes, kinnows, oranges, ber etc which could be used as raw material. The requirements of power, land, labour and technical support could be easily met, he said, adding that the Regional Research Centre of Punjab Agricultural University and the office of the Agriculture Department were well equipped to provide support needed by industrialists.

Mr Bhatti said to ensure quality pesticides, the distribution should be routed through the department. It would ensure not only the quality, but also cost, timely availability and expert advice on the use. The department had set a target to test samples from 435 pesticide sellers of which 166 had been tested. Only one sample had failed the quality test and legal action would be taken against the guilty, he said.

Mr Inderjit Singh, Deputy Director, Dairy Department, said 45 milk plants were running in the state, including private ones. These plants needed a daily supply of 70 lakh litres of milk whereas the total supply was only 45 lakh litres. More dairy farms should be set up and the department would start a training camp from tomorrow in Bathinda to train the youth in the trade.

He said the production of fish in the state per hectare was the highest in the country (4100 kg) and the state government, in order to boost aquaculture, had decided to give electric motor connections on a priority basis, he said.


PUDA to harvest rainwater
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 18
Concerned at the depleting underground watertable, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) was framing a policy to harvest rainwater in urban estates. Guidance from the Central Ground Water Board, which had already initiated schemes for artificial recharging of underground water, was being taken to install roof-water harvesting structures.

Initially, the authority was planning to install the rainwater harvesting structures at its upcoming District Administrative Complex (DAC) at Patiala. A cost of around Rs 25 lakh had been earmarked for the project, said sources in PUDA. The scheme would then be extended to other DACs under construction in different parts of Punjab. The scheme could also be implemented at the proposed head office complex of the authority in the City Centre here.

The official of PUDA said with the increase in the demand for water and no recharging the watertable needed to be replenished through suitable groundwater recharging methods. The surplus rainy water which escaped into storm water drains would be used for recharging for the underground water. The officials said in the small urban estates of the authority where there was no provision of storm water disposal, recharging wells would be provided on public buildings. Bringing residential houses within the water recharging scheme would be included in the second phase.

Installing the roof-water harvesting structures would be made compulsory for premises covering an area of over 250 sq yard once an amendment in building bylaws were made by the authority. It was also being explored that the artificial water harvesting structures be made compulsory before issuing completion certificate to a building, specially the multi-storied structures. 


Medical drive launched
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 18
After the publication of a news item in The Tribune about the outbreak of gastroenteritis in Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib, the district health authorities have swung into action following directions from the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner told TNS that a special cleanliness and medical drive was launched in all towns of the district today.

He said all executive officers of the municipal councils of Sirhind, Mandi Gobindgarh, Amloh and Bassi Pathana had been directed to carry out cleanliness work in all colonies and to ensure the drainage of rainwater at the earliest.

He said five mobile medical teams had been formed to examine affected people in the areas and to provide treatment to them. The medical teams would be supervised by two doctors.

The medical staff have been provided with sufficient quantity of ORS packets and chlorine tablets for distribution among the people and have been asked to educate the people to bring their children immediately to the Civil Hospital in case of diarrhoea or loose motions, so that proper treatment could be provided to them.

The Deputy Commissioner said as part of precautionary measures, a special diarrhoea ward had been created in the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, where doctors and other medical staff would be present round the clock.

The Deputy Commissioner also directed those in charge of the five civil hospitals in the district to keep their staff alert to meet any kind of emergency and to have an adequate stock of medicines in the hospitals.

He also directed the sanitary staff of the municipal councils to check water pipes laid in the slum areas and to immediately replace damaged pipes if any.

Later, the Deputy Commissioner along with officers concerned and medical teams visited affected slum areas, including Bagat colony in Brahman Majra, G.T. Road Bara, Cinema Road and the Civil Hospital area, etc and listened to the problems of the people.

Mr G.L. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, informed that the health staff had been alerted and extra beds had been made available in the Civil Hospital to accommodate more patients.

Meanwhile, more cases of affected children are being reported at the Civil Hospital and about (15) children were admitted to the emergency ward of the hospital by noon. Parents alleged that glucose and syringes were not available in the emergency and had to bought from outside.


Langah plans to control educational institutions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 18
A group of Akali leaders led by Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Public Works Minister, Punjab, is preparing to get possession of the institutions run by the Sikh Educational Society.

Accompanied by Mr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary of the SGPC, Mr Langah told mediapersons at the PWD guest house here this morning that the Tohra group was in “illegal” possession of the educational institutions, including SGGS College and SGGS College for Women here. He said the SGPC would resort to legal means to take possession of these institutions.

Though Mr Langah talked about legal means, history shows that an earlier attempt made by him to take possession of these institutions had turned into a bloody feud and the local police had a tough time controlling the situation.

The controversy pertaining to the control of the educational institutions, the number of which is six (four in Chandigarh and two in Punjab), started about two years ago after the removal of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra from the presidentship of the SGPC. Mr Tohra’s close associate, Principal Bharpur Singh, who is a secretary of the society, manages these institutions.

Mr Langah, supported by Bibi Jagir Kaur, who replaced Mr Tohra as President of the SGPC, made an attempt last year to take possession of the educational institutions here. It led to violence in the local SGGS College. Since then a cold war is going on between the Tohra faction and the Langah group over these institutions.

Mr Bachan said these institutions were the property of the SGPC, which was bound to take these back from the “illegal” possession of the Tohra faction.

The Tohra faction had convened a meeting of the society today but it was postponed following reports that the opposite camp was preparing to take possession of the institutions.

When a senior leader, who holds a responsible position in the Shiromani Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was asked to comment on the plan of Mr Langah and Mr Bachan, he said that the party could not afford to enter into any controversy or clash with anyone at this stage. It was election year and any clash between the Tohra faction and the SAD would provide a chance to parties like the Congress to make it an election issue.

He said Mr Badal was scheduled to come here on July 22 and he should be consulted before taking any step pertaining to the possession of the educational institutions.

Replying to a question whether the political fight among the Akali leaders would affect the functioning of the Sikh educational institutions, Mr Bachan said that it would not. He said the SGPC was trying hard to ensure the teaching of Sikh tenets and philosophy in its institutions. It was also trying that there should be a provision in the entrance test of asking questions about Sikh history and philosophy from those interested in seeking admission to dental and other medical courses in the institutions run by the SGPC. 


ETT candidates block traffic
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 18
Unemployed ETT candidates today blocked traffic on the Sirhind Canal bridge on the Ropar-Jalandhar road for about three hours. At least 200 candidates, who were also supported by various local employees unions, were protesting against the decision of the state government to recruit B.Ed candidates against ETT posts.

The traffic blockade started at about 1.30 p.m. and continued till 3 p.m. Thousand of commuters remained stranded on both sides of the bridge which is the only transit point across the canal in Ropar. Policemen remained as mute spectators during the blockade.

Mr Avneet Chadha, general secretary of the unemployed ETT Union, alleged that the Punjab Government had advertised 7,220 posts of the ETT teachers. There were only 3,300 ETT candidates in the state. So, the government decided to consider the B.Ed or the higher qualified candidates against the rest of the posts. However, now the government has decided to form joint merit of ETT and other candidates.

The chances of selection of the ETT candidates against the existing posts have become very less.

The government decision has also put a question mark on future of the ETT course. If the ETT candidates are not given preference in the posts meant specifically for them, then what was the relevance of running the course.

He also accused the Punjab Government of ignoring the peaceful protest of the ETT candidates. Mr Neeraj Aggarwal, a leader of the Unemployed ETT Union, has been sitting on indefinite fast for the last 29 days.

He has been shifted to a hospital in a critical condition but none of the Punjab Government functionaries has cared to listen to his plea.

The ETT candidates have now been forced to resort to traffic block due to the apathetic attitude of the Punjab Government. “If anything happens to the fasting leader, we may resort to tougher measures in their agitation”, he said.

Mr Sucha Singh, general secretary of the general teachers union, who had come in the support of the ETT candidates blamed the Punjab Government for adopting anti-employee policies.


College teachers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 18
On a call given by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), the teachers of Khalsa College and DAV College, Amritsar unit, held a massive rally in front of the office of the Principal in protest against non-acceptance of their demands. The teachers had been agitating against the non-implementation of pension and gratuity scheme, career advancement scheme and sought the release of UGC scales and designation to the DPE’s and librarians working in non-government-aided colleges.

Dr Sukhbir Singh, president of the Khalsa College Teachers Union, said the Punjab and Chandigarh Colleges Teachers Union had decided to hold these dharnas in all colleges at the state-level. The ralliests also demanded implementation of arrears of pay scale, he said. 

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