Wednesday, July 25, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Appointments raise eyebrows
Soch says he followed precedent
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
Many “strange” decisions taken by the last Syndicate meeting of Guru Nanak Dev University, two days before the expiry of the extension of Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch as Vice-Chancellor, have surprised academicians.

Interestingly, it was for the first time the Syndicate meeting was held at Chandigarh instead of Amritsar on July 20. The university remained closed on July 21, and 22, being Saturday and Sunday.

While the Chairs after the names of Bhagat Ravi Dass, Bhagat Namdev, Dr B.R. Ambedkar had Bhagat Kabir and to be winded up due to a financial crunch, four posts have been sanctioned against the new Chairs yet to be established.

While Dr Soch has claimed that there has been a precedent in granting extension to persons prior to retirement, many academicians see the move as “infringement on the rights of new Vice-Chancellor.”

Dr Satinder Singh, a former Dean, Academic Affairs, and Professor in the Department of Punjabi, who will be retiring after a year on June 30, 2002, has been appointed Head, Namdhari Guru Ram Singh Chair. He will hold the post for two years after retirement, subject to the release of grants by the state government.

Dr Satinder Singh is said to be a confidant of Dr Soch. However, when contacted, Dr Soch alleged that the issue was being raised due to groupism in the university.

Similarly, Dr Madanjit Kaur, an eminent Sikh scholar and Professor, Guru Gobind Singh Chair, was reportedly “forced to resign” to accommodate another Sikh scholar, Dr Madanjit Kaur alleges that such a situation was created that she was left with no option but to resign.

The Syndicate has appointed Dr Jodh Singh as Professor, Department of Guru Nanak Studies, against vacant post, though he will retire as Professor, Religious Studies, Punjabi University Patiala, in May, 2002. However, Dr Soch says the decision was taken by a three-member committee comprising Dr Jaswant Singh Neki, he himself and Principal Secretary, Education, before the issue was taken to the Syndicate. The appointment has been made under statue 9.1 and 9.2 of the university. He further says though he had presided over the meeting, yet the entire responsibility for appointments is with the Syndicate.

Academicians have expressed surprise that except in case of Dr Jodh Singh, no annexture or biodata of candidates was attached with the agenda of the Syndicate meeting for the creation of four Chairs (Guru Granth Sahib, Guru Gobind Singh, Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Nanak Singh).

In another controversial decision, Dr Sukhdev Singh Khehra, Reader, in Department of Punjabi, has been selected as head and Professor of Nanak Singh Chair without any interview. Though Dr Soch claims that the work done by Dr Khehra in the field of fiction is significant, yet Dr Harbhajan Singh Bhatia, Reader in the same department, has more experience than Dr Khehra. Dr Bhatia has a number of books of Punjabi criticism to his credit.

However, Dr Bhatia has been ignored for the post for reasons best known to the authorities. Several academicians plan to approach the new Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, for reviewing the controversial appointments made on has last working day by Dr Soch.

Faculty members have also expressed surprise over the one-year extension to Dr Gurinder Bir Singh, Director, IAS Centre, who retired as principal of a government college. His contribution to the department during his term is stated to be “insignificant”.

However, the Syndicate has withheld its decision on granting same leniency to teachers of Khalsa College disqualified as examiners for giving “extra marks” to BA/B.Sc students appearing for the maths exams in 1995. Dr Soch justifies the handing of the charge of Director, Sports, to Dr Kanwaljit Singh. He say Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, who had been holding the additional charge, had expressed his inability to hold the post. He says the case is not subjudiced.


VC’s appointment welcomed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 24
The appointment of Dr S.P. Singh as Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University has been hailed by various prominent personalities, including Principals of various colleges of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr.

They also thanked the Governor and Chief Minister of Punjab for appointing an eminent academician and experienced administrator like Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university.

The new Vice-Chancellor said his utmost efforts would be to make the university a “model university of the world”. The university has already achieved distinction at the national level in the sports and cultural field. He assured that the university in the coming years would provided more facilities, modern training and infrastructure for its sports personnel and young artists so that they could make a mark in the international arena.

He said his priority would also be to maintain a cordial and peaceful atmosphere on the campus for teaching and research. The newly appointed Vice-Chancellor was welcomed by Dr Satvir Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, Dr B.S. Guman, Dean, Student Welfare, Dr Satinder Singh, Director (Research), Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, SGPC secretary, and Mr Kewal Dhaliwal, renowned drama director and president of Manch Rang Manch.

Mr Sarchand Singh, secretary-general, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta), Mr Harkanwal Karpal, Senator, also hailed the appointment of Dr S.P. Singh.


Tragedy casts gloom over Dirba
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Dirba (Sangrur), July 24
Bazaars of this village today wore a deserted look as all shopkeepers kept the shutters of their shops closed to express sympathy with the bereaved families of about 50 villagers of Dirba and surrounding areas who were drowned in a canal near Kiratpur Sahib yesterday when the truck in which they were travelling fell into it.

When this correspondent today visited the village, a pall of gloom hung over it. The residents, with mournful faces, were roaming in the village. Some of them were eagerly waiting for the bodies of their relatives and neighbours.

In this tragedy, the local Deepa Patti has lost most of its residents, as about 40 pilgrims of this patti were in the truck. A total of 75 persons, including 50 women and children, were in the ill-fated truck. Out of these, at least 16 persons belonged to Samuran, Bhai Ke Pishor and Kakuwala villages.

Four survivors, namely Jaswant Singh, Sahib Singh, Rana and Santa returned to the village today. This correspondent visited the houses of Jaswant Singh and Sahib Singh. Jaswant, who lost his son in the mishap, and Sahib were in a state of shock and they did not talk much about the accident.

Mr Chhota Singh, a local grocer, has lost 12 members of his family, including five women and four children. Mr Mishra Singh has lost 10 members of his family. Mukhtiar Singh has lost four members while two members of Tirshan Singh’s family are still missing. These victims belonged to this village, according to Mr Harpal Singh, a teacher and resident of Deepa Patti.

Mr Amar Singh, brother of Mr Chotta Singh, said Mr Deepak Sharma, owner-cum-driver of the truck, was among the survivors and he was under treatment at Anandpur Sahib hospital. He also said that Deepak had lost his mother in the tragedy and now he was alone in the family.

The local police said the Ropar authorities had fished out 15 bodies so far, of which eight had been sent to the village while remaining bodies would be despatched after a post-mortem examination.

The Sangrur administration has sent Mr Praneet Bhardwaj, SDM, Sunam, and Mr Pritpal Singh Thind, DSP, Sunam, to bring the bodies and make arrangements for the survivors. Both officers are in touch with the district administration. Mr Baldev Singh Mann of the PSEB, Mr Gurcharan Singh Dirba, MLA, and Mr Darshan Singh, president of the Dirba Nagar Panchayat, have also gone to Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib in this connection.

Meanwhile, several tents have been put up in the streets near the houses of the deceased for mourners. Relatives of the deceased are arriving from various places.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from Sangrur, has also expressed grief and shock over the mishap. Mr Arvind Khanna, chairman of Umeed Khanna Foundation, today expressed his condolences.

Bus operators blame DTO for mishap
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
The bus operators here have blamed the DTO of Ropar district and other officials of the Transport Department for the death of 47 persons when a truck fell in the Anandpur Sahib canal, near Kiratpur Sahib, yesterday.

Mr Fateh Singh Libra, Managing Director, Libra group of bus service, in a memorandum to the Chief Minister today, has alleged the transport officials, particularly the District Transport Officer (DTO), Ropar, were responsible for the accident as they had failed, like their counterparts in other districts, to check the illegal operation of trucks and Tempos for ferrying of passengers in the state.

He said, ‘‘The state government is losing crores of rupees annually as passenger tax due to the illegal operation of these trucks and Tempos in the state. These vehicles are not meant for passenger traffic. However, due to the connivance of the higher officials they ferry passengers, especially during the Naina Devi festival, posing great danger to the lives of passengers.’’

He reminded the Chief Minister about the complaints submitted to him and the Transport Department regarding the number of deaths caused by the illegal operation by trucks and Tempos to ferry passengers. He pointed out that video films of the illegally operating trucks and Tempos in Ropar district were also submitted to the government. He said the drivers of trucks and Tempos were not competent like bus drivers.

Mr Fateh Singh disclosed they had filed a petition in the famous Namit Kumar and others case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court before Justice Swatantar Kumar. The judge had asked them to file another writ in this case. They were contemplating filing a writ in case the state government failed to take any action.

He urged the state Chief Minister to fix responsibility for this accident and take serious action against the erring officials who had failed to check the illegal operation of other vehicles.


7 mishap victims cremated
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 24
The mortal remains of seven pilgrims, who were drowned yesterday when the truck in which they were travelling fell into a canal near Kiratpur Sahib, were consigned to flames at Dirba village, about 28 km from here, this evening.

The pilgrims were identified as Gurtej Kaur, Khillow, Jangir Kaur, Jaspreet Kaur, Bhola Singh, Jasbir Singh and Dalbir Singh, all from Dirba.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, Sangrur, and Mr Rajinder Pal Singh, DSP, Moonak, were present during the cremation. The Dirba police said more bodies were expected to reach here from Anandpur Sahib.


Custodial deaths: jail staff absolved
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, July 24
The Principal Secretary of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) is believed to have absolved all those persons who were allegedly involved in recent custodial deaths at Ferozepore Central Jail. They have also been absolved of allegation of harassing jail inmates.

Sources revealed that he had submitted his inquiry report to the commission. He was entrusted the task of conducting an inquiry into all custodial deaths that took place during the past 40 days at the jail.

The report says that in only one of the five cases of alleged custodial deaths, the jail authorities might have manhandled the prisoner. The other four cases do not indicate towards any physical violence. The Principal Secretary also submitted a separate report on the alleged custodial death of a prisoner, Vipin Kumar.

As per the report, prisoner Balbir Singh developed pain in the stomach leading to diarrhoea on June 22. He was taken to the Civil Hospital, Ferozepore, where he was declared dead. The other prisoner, Anwar, consumed a chemical given to him for polishing furniture at the jail workshop. He was also admitted to the hospital where he too died. Rajinder Singh Negi took an overdose of sulfa tablets and died in the hospital on July 12. About Jagjit Singh’s case, the report says the records were not readily available, as the case was an old one.

Protesting against rising number of custodial deaths in Central Jail, a number of prisoners went on a hunger strike on July 13. They alleged that the jail authorities had given inhuman treatment to them and even forcibly cut the hair of an inmate to stop their strike.

The PSHRC took cognizance of the complaint filed by a human rights body, Lawyers for Social Reform (LSR), and directed the Principal Secretary to visit the Central Jail, hold an inquiry into the incident and submit its report by July 20. He was also directed to record the statement of any person who could help in the investigation. The PSHRC also directed the Senior Superintendent of the jail to provide assistance in the inquiry.

The report says the charge of human rights violation by the jail authorities in the jail, including the charges of cutting the hair of a Sikh prisoner has not been proved. The only point on which everyone agreed was that the strike continued for two days and was unanimous.

The prisoners’ versions were contradictory with one group claiming that beating took place and the other denying it or disclaiming any knowledge. 


CM ignoring Ghaggar problem: Chandumajra
Our Correspondent

Sunam, July 24
The SAD-BJP Government is not sincere in solving the Ghaggar problem, which creates havoc in Sangrur, Patiala and Mansa districts every year in July. Due to the failure of the state government standing crops on thousands of acres is damaged and a large number of villages face the fury of floods every year.

Talking to mediapersons here yesterday, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, former MP and General Secretary of the SHSAD, accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal, of ignoring the problem. He said Mr Badal had never sought funds from the Union Government in this connection. Mr Badal had also never initiated talks with his Haryana counterpart in this regard, he added.

Professor Chandumajra disclosed that a Rs 365-crore plan to erect a bundh at Parwanoo had been drawn up by the Central Government in 1996-97, but the plan did not materialise as Mr Badal failed to persuade his Haryana counterpart for the construction of bundh. He said another plan had been chalked out by the Punjab Government to solve the Ghaggar problem. Under the plan Rs 139 crore were to be spent on the widening of the Ghaggar and the erection of bundhs on its both sides from Shambhu to Sardulgarh to channelise the water, but it remained only on paper, he added.

Prof Chandumajra urged the Punjab Government to widen the siphons from Chandpur to Khanauri to save Sangrur and Patiala districts from floods. He also asked the state government to take a policy decision to start the flood protection works throughout the state in October, immediately after the end of the flood season.

He demanded a high-level inquiry into the alleged misappropriation of funds earmarked for flood protection works by officials of the Punjab Drainage Department. He criticised the Badal government for its failure on every front, especially law and order, in the state. 


Land mafia’ operates with revenue officials’ help
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Scrutiny of over 40 cases of the allotment of land to those who claimed to be the “heirs” of “migrants” from Pakistan by the top authorities of the state Revenue and Rehabilitation Department has led to the uncovering of a big scandal.

Though the claims before the competent authority were to be filed before December 31, 1963, by the persons displaced at the time of Partition for the allotment of land, unscrupulous elements, in connivance with “officials” at the lower level, continued to file their claims until recently taking advantage of loopholes in the relevant rules.

A top official of the department, on condition of anonymity, told The Tribune today that by scrutinising cases of the allotment of land ordered by certain Managing Officers (of the rank of Tehsildar) of the department in the recent past, the top brass of the department had saved about 2,000 acres of state government land which was to be given to the claimants. The allotment in such cases had been cancelled by the authorities.

Examination of the voluminous old revenue records had also revealed the modus operandi adopted by the unscrupulous elements to get government land allotted. In most cases it had been found that claimants filed applications before the Managing Officers stating that their elders had migrated from Pakistan but land was not allotted to them anywhere.

The process to file such claims started in 1985-86. The Revenue Department authorities got suspicious recently and started calling for the allotment orders passed at the lower level for examination.

Scrutiny, which involved checking the revenue records brought from Pakistan and other related matters, revealed that certain Managing Officers accepted the claims of applicants without verifying even elementary details. The Managing Officers in certain cases accepted as truee what was mentioned in the applications by the claimants and did not bother to ask them to provide substantial basic evidence like proof of migration, size of their land holding in Pakistan, a legal statement with regard to the non-allotment of land in any part of the country after migration from Pakistan, succession certificate, etc.

Obviously, there was connivance at the official level. Otherwise, the officials concerned would not have relied on the contents of the applications submitted by the claimants and would have asked for proper evidence before passing the allotment orders, said the top revenue official.

It had been proved during the course of examining certain cases that a few applications did not bear the signatures of the claimants. Allotments were made without documentary evidence that the grandfather or great grandfather or any other person related to the claimant or claimants, as the case might be, had actually migrated from Pakistan. Secondly no pedigree table or succession certificates were sought from the claimants to verify the actual number of heirs of the migrant concerned.

Copies of the records were obtained allegedly with the connivance of the officials in charge of the record rooms where the revenue records brought from Pakistan had been kept. In certain cases people holding land in Pakistan did not migrate to this part of the country but claims for allotment in their names were filed in Punjab. It had also been established that in certain cases where land was allotted to claimants, they sold or transferred it to other parties within a few days of the allotment. In some cases the revenue records had been tampered with.

The top official said that there was a move to get criminal cases registered against those involved in the scandal. Even the government officials who connived with the “land grab mafia” would be taken to task. He said that in certain cases, the authorities had been told to proceed against the officials concerned.

When asked what other steps had been initiated to stop the recurrence of such scandals, he said restrictions had been imposed on the issuance of copies of the revenue records from Pakistan. The authorities had been told to issue a copy of the records after getting a prescribed form filled by the applicant.

All Deputy Commissioners, Managing Officers, the Director, Land Records, Tehsildars, Settlement Commissioners, Chief Settlement Commissioners and other revenue officers had been provided with information about the cases examined and the modus operandi of the interested parties.


20 buildings identified for demolition
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, July 24
After the 1987 survey of buildings under the Golden Temple ‘galiara’ project aimed at decongesting the area around the temple, the local Municipal Corporation has undertaken a survey of “dangerous buildings” in the walled city following collapse of three buildings within the past 20 days causing the death of four persons.

The survey identifies 20 buildings that are in “immediate and grave” danger of collapsing.

Demolition notices have been served on all 20 owners of buildings identified in the survey under Section 273 (2,3,4,5,6) of the Punjab Municipal Act, 1976. The survey includes four buildings in Dharekewali Gali, where a multi-storeyed building collapsed on June 30, killing three of a family.

Two of these most dangerous structures are located on the rear of the Municipal Town Planning Department. A house in Ghee Mandi, Gudamawali Gali, has a collapsed first storey, with the walls hanging precariously.

A structure near Ramgarhia School at Cheel Mandi and another near B.K. Girls High School have been found to have weak exteriors and are being used by a family which has installed pillars to prevent a roof collapse. Similarly, a building at Katra Safaid’s rear portion has crumbled and the front is being supported by make-shift pillars.

The survey shows an abandoned Dharamshala at Brahambutta Market whose outer wall has caved in. The roof can collapse any time. While a guest house near Bazaar Guru Ram Das has two collapsed storeys, it is a danger to surrounding buildings. Other buildings in precarious condition are at Chowk Mahna Singh, Baba Borewali Gali, Loharan Bazaar Gali Chapparwali and Chowk Chabutra.

The Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Mr B.R. Banga, said listing of only those buildings had been done that were in “immediate and grave” danger of collapsing. He favoured categorising the buildings as “most dangerous”, “dangerous” and “unsafe”.

Mr Balwinder Singh, Head Department of Guru Ram Das School of Planning, Guru Nanak Dev University, favoured a “reconnaissance survey” by the corporation which could include a three-member team comprising a conservation expert, a structural engineer and an architect. These experts could not only make a fair assessment of the condition of the buildings in question but also evolve and use Worldwide techniques of “refurbishment” to save buildings of historical and artistic importance.

“Some of these buildings have beautiful British railings. Some have exquisite hand paintings. Demolishing these could turn these beautiful artifacts to dust”, Mr Balwinder opined.

Technique like “scaffolding” for instance envisaged strengthening walls and demolishing a weak terrace.

Mr Balwinder warned against any unsupervised repair either of a dangerous building or buildings adjoining such a building.

In a scathing remark, Mr Balwinder said the corporation on its own was not competent to conduct a survey.

If “demolition” was the only recourse left for dilapidated buildings, then even Ram Bagh Darwaza, the only surviving gate since Maharaja Ranjit’s time, and Akhara Balanand that had beautiful wall paintings, were both unsafe. Should these be also demolished, he asked. He said certain techniques could keep the “streetscape” and historical character of the city intact.


Fake arms licences were made ‘under pressure’
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 24
The fake arms licence racket, which has virtually rocked the district administration, took a serious turn today with the four clerks arrested by the Jhajjar police admitting that these arms’ licences on fake documents were made under pressure and at the recommendation of some political bigwigs. Although the Jhajjar police had sought permission from the authorities concerned to nail these persons, which included certain politicians, their PA’s officials and arms licence agents, but instead of nabbing the small fries, whether the “big bosses” would be taken to task was a moot question, the fate of which was still unknown.

An uneasy calm prevailed in the Deputy Commissioner’s office, as the officials remain tightlipped over the status of the probe. The racket had come to light following the arrest of certain hardcore criminals against whom the Haryana police had framed charges of murder, extortion and other antisocial activities. Last year, following the arrest of some gangsters in Delhi, whohad got their firearm licences issued from Ferozepore, an inquiry was marked to look into the matter, but the issue was allegedly pushed under the carpet. Had the matter been taken seriously at that time, the issue would not have assumed gigantic proportions as it has taken the shape now?

Last week the DC, Ferozepore, Mr S.R. Ladhar, had suspended six clerks of the licence and passport branch, and issued notices to others who had allegedly shown laxity on their part while issuing licences to the persons with criminal backgrounds and had not checked their antecedents properly. The clerks were then issued notices by the Jhajjar police under Section 160 of the CrPC followed by their arrest when they had gone there regarding the verification of these fake licences.

The Jhajjar police had also issued notice under Section 160 of the CrPC to former ADM, Ferozepore, Mr R.G. Sahota, who was looking after the branch concerned from 1997 till the time he retired early this year. According to the information, an estimated 30,000 arms licences were issued during the tenure of Mr Sahota, of which half of them had been issued against fake addresses and incomplete documents, the reports said. When contacted, the licence and passport clerks dealing with the issuance of the licences assert that they were being made the scapegoat as they had issued these licences under pressure without actually verifying the records properly. The clerks even claimed that they possess applications duly recommended by the PAs’ of certain politicians of the area, on whose basis these were made.

The SSP, Jhajjar, Mr Mohammad Akeel, has sent a DO letter to Mr Ladhar to get all licences verified that were made during the past couple of years verified and cancel those with fake addresses and incomplete documents.

Interestingly, of the 67 arms licences checked so far on the request of the Haryana police, 66 were found bearing fictitious addresses. Reports suggest that when inquired 21 files pertaining to these cases were found missing.

A team of police officials from Jhajjar visited the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today and made inquiries about the scam. A section of the clerks assert that the police officials are equally responsible in getting these licences issued as they play a key role in the verification of the antecedents.


BJP men sabotaged CMs’ visit
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 24
Certain BJP leaders had twice sabotaged the joint visit of the Haryana Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, and the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in this subdivision.

This was alleged at a well-attended public meeting by Mr Aad Lal Jakhar, state president of the Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), at Diwankhera village. This was the second public meeting held by the INLD in rural areas. The first was held in the Fazilka assembly segment early this month, Mr Jakhar, eldest son-in-law of Mr Chautala, said the INLD had proposed joint public rallies to mobilise public opinion in favour of SAD, the BJP and the INLD in June and July but some BJP leaders managed to get both the rallies cancelled by “whispering something” in the ears of Mr Badal and insisted that the rallies be held under the banner of the BJP only even when all arrangements were to be made by the INLD.

Virtually launching the election campaign in this region, Mr Jakhar declared even if the BJP refused to make seat adjustment with the INLD for the next assembly elections his party might go it alone to field its candidates in 15 constituencies. Mr Jakhar had lost the election to the assembly twice on the Jan Sangh/Janata Party ticket from the Fazilka constituency in the past. He appeared to be keen for contesting the election again either from Abohar or Fazilka constituency now.

The INLD state chief said the alleged involvement of some elected representatives of the BJP in the fake arms licences scandal in this district had exposed the reported nexus between the political functionaries and the mafia. The scandal was unearthed by the Haryana police under the instructions of Mr Chautala. It was surprising that the district administration had not taken notice to thousands of licences being issued in a short span whereas less than 100 arms licences were issued before the present government took over.


Appoint Dalit as VC: morcha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
The Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) said today that it had virtually become a “policy” of the Punjab Government to ignore scholars or other deserving persons belonging to the Dalit community and backward classes while appointing Vice-Chancellors and the heads of other educational organisations.

Mr Paramjit Singh Kainth, a spokesman of the morcha, said that the SAD, the BJP and the Congress must explain why no Dalit had been appointed Vice-Chancellor or Pro-Vice-Chancellor in the state in the past decades.

He said hardly one or two persons had been appointed Vice-Chancellor from these sections since Independence in the state.

The BSM said several well-qualified persons were available among Dalits and the BCs for appointment to such posts.


New DCC chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Capt Amarinder Singh, president, PPCC, has appointed Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, a former minister, president of the District Congress Committee, Gurdaspur.


Unholy show goes on in holy city
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, July 24
The holy city whose residents want it to be free of meat and cigarettes are least bothered by the vulgarity let loose in Amritsar. Despite the ban imposed by the District Magistrate one can see nude male and female figures on cinema posters staring at you from every nook and corner. The unholy show goes on.

It is disgusting to see vulgar posters pasted on the walls of the city and even on the walls of some historical buildings. Certain cinema owners are so shameless that they paste these indecent posters on the walls of schools and colleges. The vantage point is near Alexandra Girls School and Sant Singh Sukha Singh Senior Secondary School on the posh Queens Road and Mall Road a few yards away from the SSP’s office. Even the names and words printed on the posters bespeak vulgarity. At one theatre at Chheharta boys between 13-16 years of age dressed in uniforms bunk classes and come to see these vulgar posters and films.

The pasting of vulgar posters on the walls was banned in 1998 under Section 144. “Interestingly, the Citizens Forum, a public awareness group, got the pasting of posters banned through the then Divisional Commissioner, Mr B.K. Srivastav, but till date even after the passage of three years it has not been decided as to which agency will implement this order,” said Mr Brij Bedi, president of the forum.

The Minister for Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Punjab, Mr Swarna Ram, has sent instructions to all SPs and SSPs but it seems the message is very feeble and inaudible. When the Police Department authorities were asked about this they said it was the function of the municipal corporation. The municipal corporation authorities said under Section 144 it was the responsibility of the Police Department to keep vulgarity in check. Therefore, till today it was not known who would do this work.

Mr Bedi wondered when we would get rid of this menace. He said he had been removing these posters from the school walls and visiting the Civil Lines police station frequently but nothing has happened.


54 PoWs languishing in Pak jails
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 24
Fifty’ four Indian PoWs who were detained by Pakistan in 1971, despite all efforts, have not been released even after 30 years. The kith and kin of these PoWs for whom the Indo-Pak summit had ushered a new hope, are once again dejected.

Sources reveal that a Pakistani newspaper, the “Sunday Pakistan Observer”, dated December 5, 1971, said that five Indian pilots had been captured alive, one of them being Flt Lt Tombay (actual name “Tambay”). The Time magazine issue of December 27, 1971, carried a picture of Indian soldiers behind the bars in Pakistan, including one identified as Major A.K. Ghosh. Pakistan Radio announced the names of several Indian pilots captured alive, including Wg. Cdr. Gill, Flt. Lt. Harvinder Singh, Flg. Officer Tyagi and Flt. Lt. Goswami.

However, the Pakistan Government has never admitted that these officers were in its custody and has not included them in the list of PoWs.

A former Indian spy to Pakistan who was battered and tortured by intelligence agencies for several years in various Pakistani jails, Mr Mohan Lal Bhaskar, refuted the statement of General Musharraf that there were no Indian PoWs in Pak jails. Mr Bhaskar, who was specially summoned to Agra to address relatives of missing Indian PoWs in Pak on the eve of the Indo-Pak summit asserted that 50 to 60 Indian PoWs were still languishing in Pak jails.

In 1974, Major Ayaz Sipra, an instructor in Defence College, Aptabad, and Col. Asif Shaffi, CO, Second Punjab Regiment of the Pakistan Army, who were jailed in the fort of Attak in connection with the Bhutto conspiracy case, informed Mr Bhaskar, who was also then jailed there that they had met one Gill (Wg Cdr Gill) of the Indian Air Force and Capt Singh (Giriraj Singh) of the Indian Army. Mr Bhaskar has stated this fact under oath on affidavit.

In 1975, Major Ashok Suri managed to send a letter from Karachi Jail to his father, in which he wrote that about 20 other Indian officers were there.

In 1988, a book written by a British woman, Victoria Schoffield, titled “Bhutto-trial and execution” carried a reference of Indian PoWs being lodged at Kot Lakhpat Jail in Pakistan close to where Mr Z.A. Bhutto was kept in solitary confinement.

All these years, relatives of these 54 Indian defence personnel have been going from pillar to post to secure the release of their loved ones but the government of Pakistan has always denied holding any such Indian PoW.

In 1983, a delegation of relatives of six missing PoWs was sent to Pakistan to identify them among the detainees, but Pakistan refused to show all of them.

The matter has now been raised more than 20 times in Indian Parliament. A memorandum was also submitted to US President Bill Clinton during his visit here. Repeated requests have been sent to the UN and Human Rights International Red Cross, but nothing has borne fruit so far. Colonel Pattu, president, Missing Defence Personnel Relatives Association told The Tribune over telephone from Delhi that he was not surprised at General Musharraf’s statement as he had expected this kind of reply only. He said that it was unfortunate that Pakistan had not honoured the Vienna convention relating to PoWs.


Life comes to a standstill for flying club staff
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Time may fly fast for flyers coming to practice in the Patiala Aviation Club here, but for the workers of the club who have not got salaries for 21 months, besides not getting arrears of pay for 22 months and arrears of increments for 13 months, it has ground to a halt.

The 30-odd workers of the club have been waging a lone battle for their pay and arrears to no avail since December, 1996, and have even been denied their rights despite having fought a legal battle on the issue and got a repreive from the court.

The workers of the club have not been paid their salaries from December, 1996, to October, 1997, from November, 1997, to March, 1998 and from April, 1998, to July, 1998. Besides this even though pay scales of employees had been revised from January, 1986, arrears of pay for 22 months have not been paid to the employees. Arrears on account of increments for 13 months since 1993 is also due to the workers.

This is not all, say the employees of the club, adding their pay had not been revised as per the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission and that they had also been denied bonus since the last five years.

“We are ekeing out a miserable existence, waiting since years to be given our rights,” disclosed Mr Balinder Kumar Sharma, who is also the president of the Workers Union of the club. Mr Sharma said the situation had become such that the club employees were unable to eke out a dignified existence and wanted the state government to come to their rescue immediately.

He said though the government had announced that on aviation authority would be made which would manage all the aviation clubs in the state, the move had not been translated into reality. Due to this they said the clubs were not able to get new aircraft and were finding it difficult to stay afloat. For instance the employees of the Patiala Club said there were only two serviceable planes with it and that it was difficult to get spares whenever any snag developed.

The members of the Patiala Aviation Club said they were further hit with the Jalandhar Flying Club, also being located in its premises due to which the revenue of the club had decreased substantially. Besides this, they said, the number of students had also decreased due to the high cost of flying. Due to the recent hike in fuel charges, each student has to pay Rs 2,300 per hour for flying, which only few can afford.

Sources said earlier the Punjab government was giving a subsidy of Rs 250 on flying and students had to only pay a little amount from their pocket. However, they said the subsidy had remained constant at Rs 250 even after 15 years and had lost all meaning. The Flying Club is also forced to purchase fuel from Delhi and give carriage cost for the same as the earlier arrangement, whereby fuel was available from Chandigarh, has been discontinued.



Kotwali flooded, records unsafe
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 24
Today’s downpour flooded the City Kotwali and police personnel had to shift the records at “safer places” inside the kotwali premises. Even the offices of the Station House Officer (SHO) and other senior police officials were flooded.

The records were shifted from the lower racks of the almirahs to the middle racks. A police official said these could not be shifted to the top shelves as the roof of the kotwali leaked.

However, none of the police official gave the details of the records destroyed by rain water. Interestingly, the kotwali had no arrangements for power failures and in case of power failure the police personnel have to work under the candle lights. A police official disclosed that the telephone of the Kotwali was also “one way” only since the begining of this year due to default in the payments of the bills and they were unable to make phone calls from the kotwali.

Police officials said prisoners’ barracks were also flooded. They said they too were facing “imprisonment” with them as prisoners were sitting on the table tops along with the police officials. Last Tuesday also the Kotwali got flooded and the water which receded after three days.

Not only the police stations but the official residence of the District Police Chief, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, was flooded with rain water today, but no records were destroyed, the sources added.

Almost all areas of the city were flooded with rain water. The municipal authorities claimed that they had made arrangements for the disposal of rain water and the water would recede in less than five hours.

Most of the residents were seen “carrying” their two wheelers on rickshaws. Due to pot holes and trenches on the roads many accidents were reported and the traffic remained disrupted as many vehicles which gave in to the rainwater were parked in a haphazard manner.


Tax benefit for transporters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Extending a major benefit to transporters in the state, the Punjab Council of Ministers at a meeting here this evening reduced the rate of occupancy from 60 per cent to 51.5 per cent for purposes of calculation of special road tax and increased the existing tax holidays from 18 days to 36 days.

The official spokesman of the state government claimed that this decision had been taken as a sequel to a meeting of the Chief Minister with representatives of the Punjab Motor Union, at which it was stressed that the recent hikes in diesel prices had cast a crippling burden on the transporters and the state government had not enhanced the tariff proportionately. However, it is significant to mention here that there is a strong lobby of transporters in the SAD-BJP government which appears to have forced the council to take such a decision. There are also a large number of senior SAD and BJP leaders engaged in the transport business in the state.

The council at its meeting held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, also decided in principle to restore the earlier policy to offer jobs on compassionate grounds to the dependants of those government employees who retire prematurely due to medical reasons.

The council also approved the setting up of a new Directorate of Elementary Education to conform to the national policy of school education. The Union Government had been pressing the state governments to set up such directorates.

The council also approved the upgradation of another batch of 200 schools all over the state, in addition to 1,404 upgraded earlier.

It was also decided to levy Rs 1.25 lakh in lumpsum sales tax per annum with effect from April 1, 2001, on every stone crusher irrespective of its capacity.


56 lok adalats to be held in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Legal and Legislative Affairs and Justice Minister, Punjab, said here today that the Punjab Legal Services Authority had decided to hold 56 lok adalats in the state from July to September.

These lok adalats would be held in Ludhiana, Fatehgarh Sahib, Khanna, Amloh and Samrala on July 28; Nabha, Malerkotala, Phul and Malout on August 4; Mansa, Talwandi Sabo and Samana on August 11; Ferozepore, Faridkot, Muktsar, Barnala, Dhuri and Rajpura on August 25; Moga, Gurdaspur, Jagraon, Zira, Patti, Tarn Taran and Ajnala on September 1; Kapurthala, Amritsar, Baba Bakala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Phagwara, Phillaur and Batala on September 15; Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Gidderbaha, Abohar, Ropar, Nawanshahr, Nakodar, Balachaur and Kharar on September 22; and Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Dasuya, Pathankot, Garhshankar, Anandpur Sahib, Sunam and Fazilka on September 29.

Six labour courts would also be held in Ludhiana and Gurdaspur on August 31, in Amritsar on September 14, in Patiala and Bathinda on September 21 and in Jalandhar on September 28.


Forum decision biased: IMA
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 24
The district unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said here yesterday that the decision of the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum asking Dr Amrit Gupta, orthopaedic surgeon of the city, to pay Rs 2 lakh to Mr Harjinder Singh for causing permanent disability in his right arm, was biased and not based on facts.

Mr Subash Singla, president of the unit, said in a press note issued here that the forum had not heard Dr Gupta properly before making the decision.

He alleged the decision was based on a false medical certificate issued by Dr Gurdev Singh Sidhu, SMO, Raman Mandi. He said that the Secretary, Health Department of the state government, had found in an inquiry that the certificate was not correct. The inquiry was initiated on the complaint of Dr Gupta against Dr Sidhu in the matter. On the basis of the inquiry, the doctor was chargesheeted and disciplinary action was pending against him.

He further said that the IMA after going through the case had found that there was no negligence on the part of the doctor in treating Mr Harjinder Singh. He said as per the findings, the patient (Harjinder) had received treatment from a quack in his village who worked as bone setter before coming to the hospital of Dr Gupta.

He further said that the condition of the patient was very serious when he had come to the hospital of Dr Gupta. He was suffering from blisters, loss of sensation and loss of movements of fingers. He said that with the treatment of Dr Gupta, his arm was saved. He added that the treatment done by Dr Gupta was the best possible which could be given in such a case.


74 eligible for dharam yudh morcha pension
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 24
Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said here today that at least 74 persons had been found eligible for giving the pensions under the scheme of giving monetary benefits to those who were imprisoned during various “dharam yudh” morchas held in the state.

In a press note issued here today he said under the scheme the persons who were imprisoned for three months or more during the morchas would be given Rs 300 per month as pension. He said earlier the minimum time to be spent in the jail for being eligible for the pension was six months. Mr Ratnam said after the death of a beneficiary a person who participated in the morchas, his wife would be given the pension. 


Sena workers burn Musharraf’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 24
Workers of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray,) the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Bajrang Dal today burned the effigy of Gen Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan at the busy hall gate area today protesting against the massacre of 16 persons in Doda district and killing of Amarnath yatra pilgrims.

A near-total bandh was observed in the walled city at local wholesale markets of Katra Ahluwalia, Jaimal Singh Katra, Guru Bazar, Shastri Market, Ram Bagh area as activists of the Hindu organisations forced shopkeepers to down their shutters. The retail markets too remained closed for few hours.

The call was given by Mr Surinder Dogra, chief of the Shiv Sena, Mr Santosh Gupta of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Mr Arun Khanna and Mr Rakesh Madaan.


Accumulated water poses threat
Our Correspondent

Sardulgarh (Mansa), July 24
Choked sewerage system in Anaj Mandi at Sardulgarh has led to the accumulation of sewerage water on the roads of the town, thereby posing threat of an epidemic.

As per the order of the Supreme Court, the discharge of effluents from factories and disposal of water from the cities into rivers has been banned, as a result of which, the disposal of sewerage water in the Ghaggar river has been stopped.

In absence of proper disposal system the sewerage pipes are filled up to the capacity and water is overflowing on the roads. The situation worsens, whenever there is heavy rain. The local Nagar Council has not taken adequate steps to clean the surface drains, which have become breeding ground for mosquitoes. It has a long time since DDT and BHC has been sprayed. Already several cases of malaria and jaundice have been reported in the town. People have to wade through knee deep-water to reach their homes.

Heaps of garbage can be seen in almost all localities of this subdivision. The authorities have also failed to impound stray animals and pigs. Most of the urinals built by the civic body were not being used by the public as these are dirty. Instead these have been converted into garbage dumps.


Vaccination drive against hepatitis-B on
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 24
The health authorities, with the help of the district administration, have started a special drive to vaccinate residents of Chauke village in the district against hepatitis-B.

The drive has been started after several deaths due to hepatitis-B occurred in the village in the few past few months. According to the health authorities, only three persons have died of hepatitis-B.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal Chief Minister, Punjab, had announced a grant of Rs 7 lakh for tackling the problem in the village on July 3.


Defence enclave scheme submitted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 24
The Municipal Corporation meeting held today passed two items on agenda. The defence enclave town planning scheme was submitted for approval. The scheme has been held up for nearly 10 years due to Air Force and defence objections on constructions in the area.

The case of 118 vacancies in the corporation and departments was also taken up.

The House also passed a resolution to send a memorandum to the Prime Minister, urging the Jammu and Kashmir Government to provide foolproof security to especially Amarnath yatra pilgrims and the innocent persons being mercilessly killed in the valley.

The house condoled those killed in Jammu and Kashmir. The next meeting is scheduled for July 30.


Minister warns docs against female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 24
Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, has warned of stern action against ultrasound centres and doctors who continue to indulge in illegal and immoral practice of female foeticide despite repeated appeals. In a statement to the medical fraternity of Punjab, Dr Chawla has sought wholehearted cooperation to banish the practice.

He said under the PNDT Act 1994, any doctor indulging in activities related to female foeticide could be sentenced up to three years of imprisonment and fined up to Rs 10,000 on the first instance, the licence of a doctor could also be impounded for a period of two years under the Act. Any person forcing an unconsenting pregnant woman to undergo foetal sex determination test and the doctors involved could also be punished.

Dr Chawla informed that 543 ultrasound centres throughout the state had applied for registration under the Act and only 216 had been granted registration. 


Barnala courts inspected
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 24
Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, an Inspection Judge, yesterday conducted the annual inspection of the local courts. Mr Mukand Singh Uppal, President local Bar Association, said he brought to the notice of Mr Amar Dutt various problems of the Bar members.

Mr Uppal said he urged Mr Amar Dutt that efforts be made to construct chambers for the bar members in the local courts complex.


7 held for sarpanch’s murder

Batala, July 24
The police has arrested seven persons, including three police personnel, on the charge of beating to death a sarpanch of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal, Karam Singh, at Chahgill village under Qadian police station.

District police chief S.S. Brar said here today the police had arrested Salwinder Singh, Gurnam Singh, Angrej Singh, Pipa and Head Constables Sawinder Singh and Gurnam Singh and constable Surjit Singh who had allegedly beaten to death Karam Singh and injured his wife.

Mr Brar said the widow of the deceased had lodged a complaint with the police that an Excise Department party on the behest of a local liquor contractor had conducted a raid on her house on the charge that her husband was running illegal trade of illicit liquor in the village.

She complained that the liquor contractor and his employees — Salwinder Singh, Gurnam Singh, Angrej Singh and Pipa — and the police personnel had beat up her husband mercilessly, who later died.

There was no excise official with them, she had alleged.

Mr Brar said a police party had been sent to Amritsar to arrest the liquor contractor, who had absconded. PTI


Travel agent held for duping
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 24
The Balachaur police has arrested an unauthorised travel agent Darshan Singh, alias Fauji, of the nearby Burj village for allegedly duping Angrez Singh of Charan Patti, village, Daljit Singh of Balachaur, Bahadur Singh of Gujjowal village and Jaswant Singh of Kharkuwal village in the district of Rs 1.35 lakh each on the pretext of sending them to Japan.

Mr Ishwar Singh SSP, in a press note issued here today that the victims told the police that they were taken to Delhi, Mumbai, and then to Malaysia, instead of Japan. In Malaysia they were forced to do mean jobs in a small factory. After some time, they returned home at their own expenses.

A case under Sections 419, 420 and 10 of the Immigration Act was registered at Balachaur police station on July 22 against the agent.


Inadequate grants hit primary schools
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 24
Primary education is in a shambles in this district. As many as 960 posts, including those of JBT teacher, head teacher and centre head teacher, are lying vacant.

Sources say that most of these vacancies fall in backward blocks of Dera Baba Nanak, Narot Jaimal Singh and Dhar. In Dhar alone, 32 primary schools are functioning without teachers. A majority of the schools in Dera Baba Nanak and Narot Jaimal Singh blocks are also running without teachers.

There is a practice to show more strength of the students in the schools to have more vacancies of teachers. In border and remote corners of the district mostly the teachers attend the school on alternate days. The practice of appointing proxy teachers by the incumbents is also in vogue.

The sources add that as many as 200 primary schools are functioning either without buildings or in buildings without roof. The roofs of nearly 50 per cent primary schools leak during rains.

Almost all schools are without a boundary wall and proper gate. As a result, stray cattle also enter the buildings. Most of the rural schools are without windows and ventilators. The doors of the building in several cases are broken, and hardly any attempt is made to maintain these schools. These schools have no furniture and in need of whitewashing.

The district during 2000-2001 received a total grant of Rs 1.42 crore for the construction and repair of about 220 schools which is far from adequate. The total number of schools in this district is 1548 and almost all need development grants.

All this adversely affects the quality of education.


PCCTU strike today
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 24
Expressing solidarity with the workers of defence - related industries, who will go on strike tomorrow against the proposal to privatise them by the Central Government, members of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) will observe a strike after the third period tomorrow in their respective colleges.

Giving this information here today, president of the PCCTU, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, said this was in compliance with the direction of the AIFUCTO taken at its executive committee meeting held in Bhubaneswar on June 17. 


Sondhi’s dismissal

Jalandhar, July 24
The All-India Federation of University and College Teachers Organisation (AIFUCTO) today condemned the move of the Union HRD Ministry in allegedly gagging the academics as shown by the “illegal and mala fide dismissal” of Prof M.L. Sondhi as Chairman of the Indian Council for Social Science and Research (ICSSR), according to a statement issued here by AIFUCTO’s national secretary. UNI

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