Friday, July 20, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



New townships planned near Ludhiana
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, July 19
The Punjab Government is planning to develop new townships near Doraha on the Ludhiana-Delhi road, Goraya on the Ludhiana-Jalandhar road and Mullanpur on the Ludhiana-Ferozepore road to check the pressure of growing population on Ludhiana town. A high-level meeting was held in Chandigarh with Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab Government, in the chair where the situation regarding the development of satellite towns to check the pressure population on Ludhiana was discussed.

Mr Arora said today that it was decided that the possibility of having new townships towards Doraha, Mullanpur and Goraya should be explored and the departments concerned were also asked to make land use plans of these areas.

Mr Arora said the government was proposing that private investment should be made in the development of these towns and the state government would help private investors acquire land and provide other necessary facilities.

He emphasised that the projects must be self-sustaining as the government could not build such townships and make huge investments.

Regarding Ranjitgarh township which was conceived in 1980 by the late Mr Darbara Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Arora said no formal decision had yet been taken to abandon the project.

He pointed out that the project was conceived 20 years ago and no progress had been made towards the same. He said there was problem of acquiring land which was under the occupation by about 2000 tillers. The vacation of land would entail a lot of litigation. Moreover, the land belonged to the Rehabilitation Department of the Union Government. The entire land area was flood-prone and the site witnessed devastating floods in 1998.

According to Mr Arora, there was problem of connectivity also as the new township must have good connectivity from the business point of view and the overall development of the area.

On other hand, he said, Goraya had better connectivity and was only about 20 km from Ludhiana. Similarly Doraha and Mullanpur were also about 20 km from Ludhiana town.

Mr Arora disclosed that the state government was also keen that Dhandari railway station should be developed and expanded to lessen pressure on Ludhiana railway station. Moreover, Industrial Focal Point and other areas had also developed around Dhandari and to meet the requirements of the commuters, the expansion of the Dhandari railway station was very necessary.

The state government was concerned about the haphazard growth of Ludhiana town which has now a population of more than 30 lakh persons. This industrial hub of Punjab has huge migratory population which comprises of labourers engaged in the industries and other chores.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had set up a high-level committee consisting of Principal Secretaries of various departments to study the problems of Ludhiana under chairmanship of Mr R.S. Mann, a former Chief Secretary.

The committee which prepared the development plan for Ludhiana recommended the revival of Ranjitgarh (Phillaur) township project and recommended that Rs 10 crore should be provided to raise the necessary infrastructure. The committee has recommended that the new city should be limited to 4-5 lakh population and the state government should offer incentives for investment opportunities to the NRIs.

The committee further recommended that new investment in Ludhiana in terms of further development of industrial estate and public and private sector undertakings involving large resources and manpower should be discouraged and diverted to new city.


PUDA over-staffed: employees
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Contrary to the new buzzword of the Punjab Government to downsize its departments, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) is “over-staffing” itself.

Circumventing the rules and regulations, the PUDA has created two regular posts — attracting strong reaction from its staff. The move follows at a time when the Public Undertaking Committee of the Vidhan Sabha has asked the PUDA to implement the austerity measures issued by the state government from time to time.

Implementing the austerity measures, the authority had, in fact, withdrawn vehicles of at least 18 PUDA officials, including the air conditioners fitted in these.

But the austerity measures appear to be short lived. Now taking refuge in a government’s order, the PUDA has created a post of a Senior Manager (Projects) and that of a Project Manager (Computerisation and IT). Persons posted against these posts were not required in the PUDA and the work assigned to them was already being done, lament the employees. The PUDA would incur an additional expenditure of Rs 40,000 per month to pay their salaries and other allowances.

Sources in the government said a vacant post of an architect and two posts of law officers were surrendered to create new posts. A government order says when new posts had to be created the department concerned had to surrender posts of equal status. Not confronting the government orders, the employees question the manner in which two well-connected persons were allowed back door entry into the PUDA. Mr Parmod Kalia, employed as Manager (Marketing) in Punwire, was taken on contract for a period of six months which was further extended for six more months. He was then taken on deputation for six more months. A somewhat similar procedure was adopted for Mr Rajdeep Thind, who was also employed with Punwire —before it sank. After a certain period of deputation, the PUDA in its recent meeting regularised the posts of a Senior Manager (Projects) and a Project Manager (Computerisation). The employees apprehend that both would be finally inducted and then promoted as General Managers paving the way for posts of the Additional Chief Administrators.

The sources in the PUDA said the Project Manager (Computerisation) was initially made in-charge of computerisation at the SAS Nagar office when an officer of the rank of the Executive Engineer was already working as the Deputy Director (Monitoring). In another order he was then made in-charge of the computerisation work at PUDA’s head office and at the zonal offices when a private company, Trident Infotech, had already been given the contract for computerisation and training of the staff in computers at a fee of Rs 40,000 per month. The company was doing the contract job for the past four years.

Agitated employees said if the PUDA had to keep people it should have openly advertised and selected from among the applicants. The expenditure to be incurred in terms of salaries and other allowances would have been much less. The Association of PUDA Employees was reported to be taking up the issue with the Housing and Urban Development Minister.


GND university Syndics to meet in Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
For the first time the venue of the Syndicate meeting of Guru Nanak Dev University has been shifted to Chandigarh. The meeting will be held at Punjab Bhavan in the noon tomorrow.

Sources said the venue of the meeting has been shifted in the wake of the expiry of the extension of Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch, Vice-Chancellor, on July 22. The sources said the venue had to be shifted to Chandigarh for the Secretary, Education, who could be called by Mr Parkash Singh Badal at Delhi on his return from the USA tomorrow.

Aspirants for the post have rushed to New Delhi along with their supporters, mainly senior leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP. One of them, Mr Mohinder Singh Dhillon, has cancelled the meetings which were to be held at Khalsa College here tomorrow to receive Mr Badal in Delhi.

Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti and Mr Hardev Singh Virk, senior professors in Guru Nanak Dev University, have already left for New Delhi. Dr Bhatti has reportedly sought the help of the Kairon family to occupy the coveted post.

Meanwhile, Principal Jaswant Singh Phul, veteran Akali leader and renowned academician, and Dr Jaspal Singh, a former Ambassador and now principal, Khalsa College, New Delhi, have been actively lobbying for the post in Delhi. Principal Phul today said he had been adviser to Master Tara Singh, the then President, SAD, and not the late Chief Minister Justice Gurnam Singh.

He said he was close to Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Akali MLA, and Mr Parmjit Singh Saran, a former President of Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, both confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.


Ghaggar problem due to political apathy’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 19
The Ghaggar problem in the Punjab areas is the result of negligence of the Punjab Drainage Department and politicians in the past several years.

Almost every year floods caused by the Ghaggar create havoc by damaging standing crops and property, but no concrete steps have been taken by the successive governments in this regard.

This was stated by Mr Jugraj Singh Hotipur, Chairman of the Ghaggar Control (Charitable) Committee, Khanauri-Moonak, while talking to the The Tribune over the phone today.

Mr Hotipur said due to the Ghaggar problem, 26 villages of the Moonak subdivision in the district and 10 villages in Patiala district faced destruction almost every year in the month of July. He said a few years ago the residents of Khanauri-Moonak areas formed a Ghaggar Control (Charitable) Committee and filed a suit in the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get justice. He further said the High Court ordered the Punjab Government to widen the Ghaggar by 100 feet on each side from Khanauri to Jakhal railway line. But nothing had been done in this direction so far, he added.

Mr Hotipur has asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, to take steps for widening the Ghaggar and erecting bundhs on both sides to save the life and property of these flood-affected areas.

Mr Hotipur also expressed unhappiness over not taking up of this issue with Haryana and Rajasthan to solve this inter-state problem and not raising it in Parliament by Ms Parneet Kaur, MP from the area.

Mr Hotipur also appealed to all politicians to find a permanent solution of the problem by rising above from their political affiliations.


Note on Sikh issues sent to Musharraf
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 19
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) Vice-President, Mr Tarlochan Singh, who handed over a charter of Sikh demands to Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf in Delhi on July 14, has sent a detailed note pertaining to Sikh issues to him through the Indian Ambassador in Islamabad.

A copy of the note has also been sent to the Union External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh.

That the Pakistan President adopted a positive stance on Sikh issues, including the maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan was testified by Mr Tarlochan Singh, who had a brief but one-to-one talk with the visiting dignitary.

“We too are interested in the maintenance and conservation of the gurdwaras in Pakistan. Please send me a detailed note about the matter,” General Musharraf told him. Mr Tarlochan Singh said that this was followed by the advice of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who asked him to send the note as desired by General Musharraf.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Tarlochan Singh said he had sent a note, enlisting various long-pending Sikh issues like proper conservation of gurdwaras, to General Musharraf.

“Initially, when I approached him with a request that I wanted to have a discussion with him, he showed a little reluctance, but later agreed to discuss the matter briefly. He favoured a discussion on the Sikh issues with a select group of representatives of the Sikhs,” Mr Tarlochan Singh said. He said the solution to several Sikh issues, particularly the maintenance of Sikh shrines in Pakistan, was not in sight for so many years due to lack of proper approach and vision among the Sikh leadership. “They confine themselves to giving statements in the Press alone,” he said.

“I think the General is serious and positive about the issue of Sikh issues, going by his mood during his meeting with me,” Mr Tarlochan Singh said.


12 from Balloh die of cancer
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 19
More than 12 residents of Balloh village of the Joga Vidhan Sabha constituency of the district, have died of cancer, while some more are still struggling for life. Most of the villagers suffering from this dreaded disease are from the poor strata of society and they are forced to get treatment at the hands of quacks, as they cannot afford to get treatment in good hospitals. The authorities of the Health Department are perhaps not aware that cancer has taken such a heavy toll. The deaths of such a large number of people due to cancer has caused great fear among the villagers.

Although symptoms of the disease have been noticed in some people, yet they cannot approach good hospitals for treatment due to financial stringency. Billu Singh, one of the victims, died of cancer last year after one month of investigation when he came to know of the disease. Murti, wife of the deceased, said her family raised a loan of Rs 40,000 from a moneylender for providing treatment to her husband at Bikaner in Rajasthan and with the passing away of her husband she was unable to repay the loan raised by her family. To feed her four children and to make her livelihood she is doing working as a labourer.

Mewa Singh (40), another cancer victim of this village, died on December 4, leaving behind five children and a widow. His widow revealed that her husband got treatment through the Ayurvedic system of medicine but when there was no improvement he was got admitted to a hospital in Bikaner after raising a loan. All her efforts to save her husband from death, proved futile.

Harnek Singh (66), another victim of cancer, died in August last. He underwent treatment in Dayanand, Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, for two and a half years, but in vain. His wife told this correspondent that her deceased husband had complained of headache since long and on investigation he was found to be suffering from cancer.

Another victim, Kartar Kaur, wife of Mukhtiar Singh of the village, died of cancer was suffering from liver disease but later it was found that she had cancer. Karnail Kaur, wife of a labourer Kaka Singh of the village, also fell victim to this disease, which ultimately ended in death. Jagir Singh, another resident of the village, who suffered from chest pain, was also found to be suffering cancer on examination.

Four members of a family of this village have died of this direaded disease. Avtar Singh (26), a foreign returned young man, is suffering from this disease and hanging between life and death. Bhura Singh, Gurdev Kaur and Bachan Singh of this village were also devoured by this disease.

A survey of the village revealed that many persons of the village are still suffering from cancer. Inquiries made by this correspondent from villagers revealed there has no arrangement for cleanliness in the village and the sub-soil water of the village is not potable, as a result of which many villagers are suffering from various diseases.

So far, nothing has been done by the health authorities to prevent the outspread of disease. The people of the village have demanded a medical camp and analysis of the underground water.

Mr Babu Singh, Sarpanch of the village , said a large number of deaths due to cancer have created terror in the village and the government has miserably failed to take any preventive action in this regard. He said a survey was required to be done through a team of doctors from the medical college to find out the cause of spread of cancer in this village. He also demanded adequate financial aid for the aggrieved families of cancer victims. When contacted, the district health authorities expressed ignorance in this respect.


CPI to contest 25 seats in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 19
The Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) will contest 25 seats in the ensuing Assembly elections in the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, Comrade Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said the CPI would make an alliance with all secular forces to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance in the elections.

Comrade Dayal said the CPI was not in clash with the CPM anywhere in Punjab. He said the CPI would contest all those assembly seats which it had won in the past either alone or in alliance with the Congress or the Akalis.

Regarding a possible alliance with the Congress in the Assembly elections in Punjab Comrade Dayal said the CPI could make honourable alliance with the Congress to defeat the communal forces.

However, he said no talks were going on with the Congress at this stage.


Punjab Shiv Sena to contest 30 seats
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 19
The Shiv Sena will contest the forthcoming Assembly elections from 30 constituencies in Punjab. Most of the candidates will be fielded in Ludhiana, Amritsar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Fatehgarh Sahib districts.

The matter has already been discussed with the national party supremo, Mr Bal Thackeray, and the list of candidates will be finalised shortly. This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Kaura, organising general secretary of the party, while talking to this reporter here today.

He said the party would shortly take effective measures to strengthen its base in the state.


Villagers at nature’s mercy
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 19
The lack of funds for flood control measures in the district has left many villages at the mercy of nature.

Reliable sources said on condition of anonymity that consistent monsoons had weakened many bundhs and banks of the seasonal rivers and the Sutlej to such an extent that even medium floods could wash them off. However, the local authorities did not have any funds to carry out the repair works.

The sources said the kucha bundh on the Siswan had weakened considerably near Chaunta village. The width of the bundh had eroded to just 3-4 feet at various points against the normal width of 20 feet. The local Drainage Department officials had sent an SOS to the Deputy Commissioner to issue a warning regarding weakening of the bundh at 3-4 places which had further been conveyed to the higher authorities.

The bundh had weakened during the floods in the Siswan last year. The breach in the bundh had inundated nine villages of the area. The government had to give about Rs 16 lakh to the farmers as compensation for the damage to their crops. The Chief Minister who visited the area announced that the bundh would be strengthened through stone pitching to prevent such incidents in future. However, no funds had been released as yet for the project despite repeated reminders to the authorities concerned by the Deputy Commissioner.

The sources said the kucha bundh on the Budki had also weakened considerably near Sohali and Ropali villages. The Drainage Department had demanded Rs 2 lakh for the repairs of the bundh but the funds had not been made available as yet. The embankments on the Sutlej near Malewal, Sarangpur and Sultanpur villages were also reported to have weakened to an alarming level.

The sources said the Drainage Department had demanded about Rs 12 lakh on an emergency basis for the strengthening of various weakened bundhs in the district. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, had also sent emergency messages which had failed to evoke any response from the authorities concerned. The district authorities had now sent the District Revenue Officer (DRO) personally to Chandigarh to apprise the higher authorities of the situation.

The sources said if the government did not spare Rs 12 lakh for the emergency repairs, it might have to pay much more than that as compensation, if the floods hit the area.

This year the Punjab Government had released Rs 80 lakh for the flood control measures in the district. The sources said even that fund was allotted for specific purposes.


Mahajan case given to CBI
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 19
On the direction of Mr Justice V.M. Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court the Naresh Mahajan murder case has been handed over to the CBI. The police has been clueless of the murder for two and half years.

In the order of July 11, the Mr Justice Jain directed that the investigation of the murder committed on October 22, 1998 “shall be completed within four months from the date of the receipt of a copy of this order by the Deputy Inspector-General, CBI Chandigarh”.

The petition filed by Mr Banarsi Das Mahajan (father of the deceased) under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, criminal misc No. 38637-M of 1999 the petitioner had alleged that his son was murdered the mysterious circumstances and that the police was trying to hush up the matter, that in the “inquest” proceedings under Section 174 CrPC FIR No. 223 at civil lines police station, the police had not found any mark of violence on the deceased despite 12 injuries inflicted on the body including “ligature” mark on the neck and death caused due to strangulation as reported in the post-mortem report.

The petitioner had alleged that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy involving some bank officials and businessmen over money transactions. Despite writing to senior officers it had elicited no response from them, alleged the father.

The judge in his order ruled that the police had not reached any headway in solving the murder case and the investigation team was finding it difficult to trace the case this showed helplessness of the investigation team headed by Mr Nageshwar Rao, IPS. After perusal of records, including police file, it is opined that the matter requires thorough probe by an independent agency specialising in investigation of important and difficult cases. Hence the petition is allowed and the investigation of the case is transferred to the CBI. It was directed in the order that case shall be investigated by an officer of the rank of Superintendent of Police of the CBI.

At a press conference today Mr Banarsi Dass Mahajan and Mr Satish Mahajan (father and brother of the deceased, respectively) had mentioned that the CBI had held two earlier enquiries into the case.

The first inquiry into the sensational murder was ordered when a Rajya Sabha member, Mr Gurdas Dasgupta (CPI) raised the issue on the floor of Parliament when Mr Satya Pal Dang brought it to his notice.

The second inquiry was ordered on the directions of Mr Parsad Kumar, Cabinet Secretary when Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, President of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena had written to the President, the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister about the facts of the case involving “parallel banking”.


Fake arms’ licences: 6 suspended
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 19
Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner today suspended six licence and passport clerks for their alleged involvement in the issue of licences of fire arms on fake documents.

Official sources said that the six clerks had been suspended following an inquiry into the contents of the FIR registered by Bahadurgarh police station in Jhajjar district of Haryana in connection with the fake arms licence scam on June 18, 2001.

Sources added that four Sub-divisional Magistrates (SDMs) of Ferozepore, Jalalabad, Zira and Abohar probed into this scam and found that 66 licences out of total 67 licences suspected to be fake, had been found fake.

Mr Ladhar, when contacted, said that the employees, suspended, had been found to be guilty of committing irregularities in the issue of arms licences during their postings as per reports gathered so far.

He added that headquarter of these employees during suspension would be the Deputy Commissioner’s office. They would be issued charge sheets later on.

Sources said that last year, the scandal came to light in connection with the illegal arms licences which were made on fake addresses allegedly in connivance with the officials. A strong move remained afoot some time to hush up this matter as it concerned the criminal-official nexus.

Information gathered by The Tribune reveals that some of the aides of underworld Don Dawood Ibrahim managed to get licences for fire arms by giving fake addresses of this district in connivance with the officials and politicians.

The officials suspended used to wield considerable influence and kept the matter a hanging fire for long. However, the things went against them when an FIR was registered by the Bahadurgarh police station, in the Jhajjar district of Haryana.

The police parties from Jhajjar district raided a number of places of this district and arrested those who allegedly were involved into this scam. The Haryana Police had also started a high-level inquiry into this scam.

A section of officials of the Licence and Passport Branch of this district had also been issued summons by the court of Jhajjar. The Jhajjar police also had been trying to find out the middlemen running the scam.


Bungling of Bar funds: Dang seeks probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 19
In a letter to Mr H.S. Mattewal, Chairman, of Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana, Mr Satya Pal Dang, a veteran CPI leader, has sought his attention to the alleged misappropriating of funds given by the Bar Council.

Mr Dang has stated that a cheque for Rs 2 lakh issued by Mr Mattewal for the Bar Association here is learnt to have been misused by the former president of the association.

Explaining the fact Mr Dang said that the cheque when issued, went routinely to the Deputy Commissioner. Later, he alleged that the former president got the cheque issued in his own name.

“To authenticate the withdrawal, it is learnt that the former president had submitted some receipts to the Deputy Commissioner to indicate that the amount was properly utilised”. The receipts showed that the money was used to construct a “much-awaited” new room for the association.

However, Mr Dang stated only a photograph of the chairman of the Bar Council, Punjab and Haryana (Mr Mattewal) was added to an already existing room to authenticate the expenditure.

Mr Dang pressed the chairman to conduct a thorough inquiry into the allegations and action against the culprit.


PSGPC to observe Guru’s death anniversary
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 19
For the first time in Pakistan, the PSGPC will observe the death anniversary of Guru Nanak at Kartarpur Sahib. According to Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, the International Bhai Mardana Society will send a group of 150 pilgrims to Pakistan to mark the occasion.

He said the jatha would be led by Mr Sarbjot Singh Bedi. Mr Sham Singh, Co-Chairman, PSGPC, had convened a meeting of Sikh leaders of various countries in August to work out modalities for the constitution of the PSGPC governing body in which due representation would be given to Sikh leaders.

Mr Bhullar said Mr Ganga Singh Dhillon of the USA would be a special invitee. On the release of 29 Sikh detainees lodged in jails of Baluchistan in Pakistan, he said he had been told by Mr Sham Singh that the release had been delayed because of resignation by Gen Javed Naser as Chairman of the PSGPC. The issue had already been discussed with General Niazi, the new Chairman.


Sikh clergy discusses ticklish issues
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 19
The Sikh clergy met here this morning to discuss certain ticklish issues.

According to insiders, the much-publicised issue of Gurdwara Talwara (Hoshiarpur) was discussed. A granthi of the shrine was sacked on allegations of theft. The matter was brought up before Akal Takht. The Sikh clergy referred it to the Deputy Commissioner.

Some of the sensitive issues to be discussed included the controversial Nanakshahi Calendar and the case of Baba Dhanwant Singh. A section of the Sikh ‘sangat’ had levelled allegations against the baba and the high priests had asked the Sikh ‘sangat’ not to cooperate with him till he submitted a clarification. Baba Dhanwant Singh sent his clarification from the USA, refuting all charges.


Clash averted in Dhuri MC
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, July 19
With the intervention of the police, a clash between the supporters of president of the local Municipal Council, Mr Bhim Sain Jindal, and rival group of the Municipal Councillors today was averted near Kranti chowk here when rivals were burning an effigy of the president of the Council near the city police station.

Nearly 40 supporters of the president armed with lathis lost cool on seeing the burning of the effigy and tried to reach near the effigy to “teach a lesson” to rivals. Sensing mood of the president’s supporters, the police intervened and dispersed them.

Earlier the rival group led by Mr Malkiat Singh Mann and Mr Gandhi Singh, both Municipal Councillors, in large numbers held a protest march in the town as per their announced programme to protest against the alleged dictatorial behaviour and discriminatory attitude of the president in development works in several wards of the town. The protesters also carried the effigy of the president and raised slogans against the president. The women protesters also held a “siapa” at the time of burning the effigy.

At the same time, the supporters of the president of the Municipal Council also took out parallel procession in the bazaar to counter the protest march taken out by the rival group. Some councillors also participated and raised slogans against the leaders of the rival group.

The effigy of the president was to be burnt in front of the local Municipal Council’s Office, but later the venue was changed by the organisers. The police did not allow the organisers to burn the effigy at the proposed site in view of the tension in that areas.


Standoff between police, lawyers ends
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 19
The two-day standoff between the district police and district Bar Association over the registration of a case for an alleged assault on a senior lawyer on Tuesday was resolved today with the registration of a case in this regard.

Meanwhile, despite registration of the case, a controversy has arisen over the identity of the accused. A number of senior police officers say it was a case of mistaken identity and Mr Gaurav Sood was not the accused and was not present at the scene of the crime.

Earlier, more than 200 lawyers held a procession from new courts to the office of the SSP and presented a memorandum to Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, for the registration of a case against Mr Gaurav Sood and his accomplice for assaulting Mr Malkiat Singh, a senior lawyer, and for damaging his vehicle near Friends cinema on Tuesday. A case has been registered under Sections 307, 323, 427, 506 of the IPC.


Lekhak Sabha vice-president resigns
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 19
Dr Tejwant Mann, vice-president, Kendri Punjabi Lekhak Sabha today resigned from his post.

The resignation followed after Mr Bhagwant Singh, Research Assistant, State Language Department, was suspended by the Director, State Languages Department, Mr M.L. Hasija, Mr Jaswant Singh Kamal and general secretary of the sabha, Dr Joginder Singh Narula, had flayed the statement of Dr Mann demanding the removal of the Department Director, Mr Madan Lal Hasija.

Dr Mann had also demanded an inquiry against the Director for alleged irregularities. He had claimed that employees not toeing the line of the Department Director were being victimised while no action was being taken against “corrupt” employees.


Sale of book on Nanak banned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The Punjab government has banned the sale and possession of the book titled “Satguru Nanak Dev Ji (Sampuran Jeevan) Ate Mukti Marg” written by Mr Satnam Singh, advocate, and published by Gurmat Literature Parchar Kendra, Amritsar.

According to a notification issued today the book contained certain derogatory and malicious remarks which intend to hurt the religious sentiments of a particular community.


Body of woman found
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 19
The body of a woman was found in a distributary near Mari village under the Nathana police station, about 25 km from here, today.

Some volunteers took out the body from the distributary and the police sent it to the local Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

The identity of the woman could not be established.

As there was no claimant of the body it was cremated by the volunteers.


Coop societies’ urea price irks farmers
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, July 19
Various kisan unions have alleged that the cooperative societies working under Markfed were selling agriculture input items at higher than market rates.

Mr Gurjant Singh (name changed) a farmer of Nathana village while talking The Tribune here yesterday alleged that while a 50 kg urea bag costs about Rs 200 to 205 in the open market the Markfed societies were selling it at Rs 216.

Not only this various societies marketing these products do not sell these products on cash and carry sale but instead sell them on a compulsory credit basis. The various societies under the Markfed had been marketing urea, di-ammonium-phosphate (DAP), zinc phosphate and various insecticides and pesticides at prices higher than those prevailing in the market.

Mr Shingara Singh, district secretary, Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) alleged that the cooperative societies were not serving the purpose they were set up for but instead had been reduced to profit-earning centres by the policies of the state government. The societies not allowed to sell their products on cash, resulting in losses to the farmers who have to pay a simple interest of 14.4 per cent on the products they could have purchased on cash.

Giving details, he said the societies were selling urea at Rs 216 per bag (the maximum retail price) which was higher than the market price of Rs 200 per bag. The DAP was being sold at Rs 437.59 per bag, which was higher than the prevailing market price of Rs 415 per bag, the zinc-based fertilisers were sold at Rs 1,500 per quintal which was also higher by the prevailing market price of Rs 1,250 per quintal.

Official sources said the cooperative societies were earning annual profits to the tune of Rs 15 lakh per annum. The 4,800 cooperative societies were earning interests to the tune of Rs 576 crore and were in no way the no-profit no-loss societies. The basic reason for this was that the Markfed was only a marketing agency and had no manufacturing facilities.

The loans were another head where the cooperatives earned handsome profits for the state government. The National Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (NABARD) advances loans to the state cooperative bank at 4 per cent, simple annual interest rates. The bank then advances these loans to the district cooperative banks at 7 per cent and from here the loans were advanced to the cooperative societies at 11 per cent, simple annual interests. The loans reach the farmers at interest rates of 14.5 per cent, though the interest was compounded annually and was simple throughout the chain. This way the farmer ends up paying 10.5 per cent more than what was charged by the NABARD, the sources said.

Senior officials of the Markfed said the powers to purchase the inputs should be given to the cooperative societies. The rates were lower in the open market as the traders sell the agriculture inputs on a very low operating margins ranging from .5 to 1 per cent whereas the societies sell them at 4 per cent profits, as per rules.

Mr Mukand Singh, Fertiliser Supply Officer, was not available for comments but officials in the Markfed disclosed that traders were selling old and moistened stocks. The quality of the open market sales was doubted by the farmers, they claimed.

The BKU (E) leaders maintained that the operations of the societies should be made transparent and the middlemen should be done away from the channel of NABARD and the farmers.


MC chief issued show-cause notice
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 19
Mr Rajesh Chabra, Chief Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab has issued a show-cause notice to Mr Pawan Kumar Mattiwala, President Municipal Council, Mansa, asking him why he should not be removed from office for allegedly misusing his powers. He has been asked to submit his reply within 21 days to the charge sheet served with the notice.

As per the report of the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Bathinda, Mr Chabra invited tenders for the construction of a road in Sunni Gali before getting technical and administrative approval, misusing his powers.

The second charge against the municipal chief is that he granted a subsidy of Rs 1.25 lakh to the Dwakwa group being run by Ms Kailash Bassi, president of the group. On investigation, it was found that no such group existed and it was constituted only on papers to grab bank loan and subsidy.

The third charge against him was that he consolidated the estimates of six works worth Rs 15 lakh in one tender. This work was to be allotted to six contractors according to the number of estimate.


Anti-graft drive to be launched
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 19
The flying squad of the Anti-Corruption Board will launch a drive in Gurdaspur district to weed out corruption from government departments.

In a resolution passed at a meeting of the district unit of the board, presided over by its president, Mr Yogesh Mahajan, the board also decided to assist the Vigilance Department in arresting corrupt officials. He said the board would held those receiving harassment at the hands of the corrupt officials.


Woman kidnaps baby
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 19
A one-year-old Dalit boy was today allegedly kidnapped by an unidentified woman from a temple near the main bus stand here.

Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, DSP, Sangrur, said in the evening that as per the statement of the boy’s 15-year-old sister, an unidentified woman snatched her brother by slapping her.

The DSP said the police had searched many houses in the nearby localities. Police nakas had also been set up at different places to locate the boy. The police had also given an advertisement on the local cable TV network.


Former principal arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
Ms Devinder Kaur Mann, former Principal of the local Guru Nanak College for Girls, has been arrested by the police in connection with the fraud she committed along with other staff members and management.

Police sources said a case in this connection was registered against Ms Mann, Mr Harpal Singh, former president, and Mr Jaspal Singh a clerk, a few months ago.

After some time, the police initiated the process of cancellation of FIR registered against them by holding them free of any charges.

However, the new management which took over the affairs of the college moved an application for seeking punishment for those who were involved in financial bunglings to the Inspector-General of Police, Patiala zone. The I.G. (zonal) entrusted the inquiry to Mr Mohinder Singh, SP, Barnala.

Mr Mohinder Singh, who started an intensive probe into this case, arrested Ms Mann in the recent past after he found her guilty of making bunglings in the accounts, capitation fee and distribution of salaries to the staff members.


PTU’s distance courses not approved?
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
In what is being seen as a dilution of standards of education, the Punjab Technical University (PTU) is on a spree to admit students to certain courses without the approval of the regulatory authorities of the country.

This is not all. The university has reportedly been sanctioning BCA and BBA seats to its affiliated institutes without carrying out physical inspection of the premises. If the head of an institution is to be believed, such approvals are being granted over telephone.

PTU’s distance education programme which offers a two-year degree in MSc (IT) along with three other postgraduate diplomas and two undergraduate degrees has not got any of these courses approved by the Distance Education Council, the central regulatory authority which is responsible for the maintenance of standards in distance education.

It is not just the PTU which is playing truant with the rules. A majority of the “PTU approved” study centres of distance education are small-time computer academies, most of which have reported that they were never inspected for their infrastructure or location by the PTU.

With classes due to start on August 10, many of these centres are still in the process of building more rooms and installing computers.

The PTU has engaged private enterprises as master companies for various zones to ensure that standards are maintained in these centres. Gurmit Singh who runs one such master company for the Ropar region denies that these study centres have not been inspected.

“It is the duty of master companies to ensure that the faculty is trained and there is requisite infrastructure available. The PTU has given us complete authority to do so,” he said.

Several of the centres, however, maintained that no one from the PTU or from the Distance Education Council of India visited them.

Similarly, more than 40 institutes all over Punjab have been sanctioned additional seats for BCA and BBA by the PTU this year. Sources state that many of these sanctions were given to them on telephone and no inspections were carried out by any committee of the PTU.

While senior officials at the regional centre of the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) state that other than the Bachelor in Pharmacy, MBA and MCA courses run by some of the PTU affiliated colleges, none of the courses being offered by the PTU are approved by the AICTE nor do they fall in its purview. “We are in fact quite helpless.

There was a time when AICTE’s approval was required for certain postgraduate diplomas which the PTU offers but it is not needed anymore. In fact, the affiliating university is trusted with inspections and granting seats in BCA etc,” says an AICTE official.

“All degrees and diplomas being offered by the PTU are nomenclature-wise approved by the UGC but beyond that it is the university’s own prerogative to sanction these in accordance with the set standards,” says a senior Panjab University faculty member.

But there are many who state that the PTU is simply taking students for a ride. ‘‘If you compare the infrastructure which the colleges affiliated to Panjab University have been asked to start the MSc(IT) course with the ones being doled out at these distance education study centres, you will realise the difference. We have decided to bring out PTU’s case before both UGC and AICTE.

And if all fails we will be filing a public interest litigation against the PTU,” says Mr Tarsem Bahia, Principal of A.S. College, Khanna. The PTU Vice-Chancellor was not available for comments.


GND varsity to club winter, autumn break
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 19
Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to club autumn and winter break to increase teaching days in the academic year as recommended by the University Grants Commission.

The Vice-Chancellor has accorded his approval to the proposal submitted by the Registrar, Dr R.S. Bawa, and recommended by the Dean, Academic Affairs.

The Registrar said practical examinations would be conducted before the theory examinations under a new system. He said the first semester would be run from July 2 to the first week of November.

The examinations for this semester would be held from November 10 to November 30.

Similarly, regular classes for II, IV and VI semesters would start from December 1. The examinations for these semesters would be conducted from April 25 to May 10.

The Registrar also disclosed that the annual examination of all courses run by colleges would start from April 1 and the results declared by June 30 each year.


Row over setting up of IT institute
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
The establishment of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology on the Punjabi University campus in collaboration with a private body today came under a cloud with 22 teachers of the varsity’s Academic Council claiming that the Syndicate had given approval for setting up of the institute without following the Act, statutes and ordinances of the university and demanded an independent probe into the entire affair by a specialised agency.

Today 22 teachers noted their dissent on the decision of the Academic Council passing the establishment of the institute which was listed as item number seven at a meeting held on the campus.

The dissenting members said that at a Syndicate meeting of October 24 approval was given to M/s Optimas against the university Act, statutes and ordinances. They said later this “illegal” approval to a particular company was cleverly interpreted in principle to all private companies. They alleged that the whole process had been completed secretly, bypassing the statutory bodies and other academic mechanisms of the university system.

They said the move amounted to a sell-off in the name of information technology education.

They alleged that under the university Act and statutes there was no provision for the establishment of autonomous centres in collaboration with private companies. This major policy decision required an amendment to the university Act, which was not within the purview and authority of the Academic Council.


ETT students hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 19
Members of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union yesterday held a rally in the city and blocked traffic near the bus stand to press the authorities to accept their demands.

Some other organisations like the DIET Students Welfare Association, the Lok Morcha Punjab, the Randhawa Memorial Association, the Democratic Teachers Association and the Government School Teachers Union also participated in the agitation.

The agitating students started their march from the local Teachers Home in the morning. They sat on dharna in front of the District Education Officer (Primary) for about one hour.

They demanded that the interviews for the post of the elementary teachers held in Chandigarh should be cancelled.

The appointment of B.Ed teachers on the posts meant for the elementary teachers should be stopped. B.Ed students could be appointed on the posts of the teachers in the high school.

Leaders of the union alleged that the government had taken the decision under some consideration. Certain ministers wanted to appoint some of their relatives on such posts, therefore it has done away with the rules, they alleged.

They said according to the rules of the state government if the students from the elementary teachers category were not available for the vacant ETT posts then the B.Ed teachers could be appointed on these posts.

The unemployed youths blocked traffic near the bus stand for about two hours. Addressing the rally there Mr Sukhminder Singh Sukhi, president of the Malwa zone of the union, said the government had ignored their interests. He said they had been holding rallies, dharnas and demonstration for quite a long time but nobody was hearing them.

The student leader said some of their members were on an indefinite fast in Chandigarh for the past many weeks but none from the authorities came to them to listen to their grievances.

Mr Rajwinder Jalal, general secretary of the union, said that they would continue the agitation till their demands were fulfilled.


ETT teachers block traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 19
A large number of members of the district unit of the Unemployed Elementary Teachers Union, led by Mr Devi Dayal and Mr Jagjit Singh Bhola, presidents of the Malwa zone and the district unit, respectively, of the union, blocked traffic for one-and-a-half hours yesterday at Mahavir Chowk near the Civil Hospital here in support of their demands.

Employees’ organisations, including the Democratic Teachers Front, anganwari workers, the PSSSF (Dhillon group), the Democratic Employees Front and the Mulazam Action Committee (Barri group) also participated in the blockage.


Dalit Sena supports agitation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 19
Mr Jugraj Singh, president of the Goniana unit of Dalit Sena, has urged the state government to accept the demands of the ETT students.

In a press note issued here today he said the government should listen to the grievances of the agitatating students who were on relay fast for about 11 months at Chandigarh. He urged that these students should be appointed as elementary teachers immediately.

He said they would support the agitating students in their struggle against the state government.


Khalsa College students clash, Principal hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 19
Tension grips 110-year-old Khalsa College here this morning, when some outsiders clashed with students of the college and in the melee, the Principal, Dr M.S. Dhillon, also received minor injuries.

According to details available a group of seven to eight boys in their early twenties armed with swords and rods entered the college campus in a bid to hunt for a student over some minor dispute.

The Principal learning about the entry of these boys rushed outside and tried to intervene in the clash and to avert possible attack on the students. The gang pounced on the Principal but the fortunately the situation was brought under control with the arrival of college staff and teachers.

The police was called and it nabbed three boys Ajay Pal Sharma, Ankur, Goldi while the others manage to escape. The police also recovered a motor cycle.

The Principal has already sent a written complaint to the police giving details of incidence. The police however, added that it was on the outlook for other culprits and more arrests were likely to be made soon.

Mr Sandeep Singh Wallah, general secretary AISSF condemned the attack. He sought arrest of rest of the culprits.


Bathinda boy third in CBSE PMT
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 19
Mr Lakhbir Singh Kang resident of Bhuchoo Mandi has stood third in the PMT conducted by the CBSE.

Lakhbir gives the credit of his success to his parents and teachers. He passed class X from local Saint Xavier School by securing 86 percent marks and did his plus two from local DAV college.

Lakhbir, son of an eye specialist, said he wanted to do research work in the field of eye surgery.


DCC chief flays move to close down mills
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 19
The district Congress president, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, has condemned the decision to close down the Abohar Cooperative Spinning Mills.

In a letter faxed to the Punjab Chief Minister today, Mr Jakhar, a former Minister for Cooperation and Irrigation, said the SAD-BJP government in the state had promised to explore new avenues for employment four years ago but since then hundreds of people in this region had been deprived of jobs and employment opportunities.

He said that earlier Shree Bhawani Cotton Mills had been “allowed” to close down. More than 2,500 persons, most of them migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa had lost direct employment while hundreds had indirectly lost their source of income, he alleged.

He said a majority of the workers’ families had had to migrate to their parent states or elsewhere. A few families were still living in the labour colony of the mills but they had been deprived of electricity and drinking water facilities as the connections had been snapped due to non-payment of bills by the mill management, he alleged.

The matter had been raised during a sangat darshan programme of the Chief Minister but no remedial measures had been taken.

Mr Jakhar said the Beant Singh government had sanctioned an industrial training institute at Abohar.

The construction of the building of the ITI was completed but the present government had not permitted the department concerned to start classes for job-oriented courses in the ITI. An Industrial Focal Point was developed on the other side of the Alamgarh bypass by the government but no efforts were made to promote the setting up of industrial units in the same locality, he alleged.

The DCC president said it appeared that the government was interested in disposing of all mills in a phased manner.

Workers of the Abohar mills had been assured that the government would release Rs 2 crore to run the mills but funds were still awaited, he alleged. Workers had not been paid wages for the past two months, he said.

Mr Jakhar urged the Chief Minister and the Minister for Cooperation to intervene to ensure employment, payment of pending wages to the workers and smooth functioning of the cooperative mills on a priority basis.

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