Thursday, August 2, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Panthic front likely on August 4: Tohra
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 1
In a volte face, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the SHSAD, has demanded the formation of an international body of Sikhs for controlling the affairs of gurdwaras in Pakistan as the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) had failed to come to the expectations of the community.

Addressing a Press conference here today, Mr Tohra alleged that the PSGPC had been looting the offerings of Sikh devotees. Despite the tall claims of the PSGPC regarding the renovation of Sikh shrines, the fact was that it was just eye-wash. He said the Sikh shrines should not be under the AUKAF Board, instead the control of gurdwaras in Pakistan should be entrusted to the international body of Sikhs comprising representatives from the SGPC, Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, boards of Takht Hazoor Sahib, Patna Sahib and from abroad.

Mr Tohra said a non-Sikh could not be accepted as head of a gurdwara body. He said the appointment of Gen A.K. Niazi as chief of the AUKAF Board could not be accepted.

In a significant statement, Mr Tohra said the ‘sanjha Panthic morcha’ comprising the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), SAD (Panthic) and Sant Samaj might be floated on August 4 at a political conference being organised at Baba Bakala. He said efforts were on to include the SAD (Democratic), led by Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala in the proposed front. He said he hoped that the BSP, the CPI, the CPM and the Lok Bhalai Party would also join hands with the front. He said the front would contest all 117 Assembly seats in the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Earlier while addressing a joint press conference, Mr Manjit Singh of the SHSAD, Mr Ram Singh of SAD (Mann) and Mr Gurjatinder Singh Bhikhiwind, general secretary of SAD (Mann) said a call to oust the Badal government would be given at the conference in Baba Bakala.

In a categorical statement, Mr Tohra said his party would not allow Sehajdharis to cast their votes during the general elections of the SGPC. He said Mr Badal must ensure that the resolution of the general house of the Shiromani committee which had resolved to delete the word Sehajdharis be implemented in toto.

He said as per the Nehru-Master Tara Singh Pact signed in 1956, the Government of India was bound to amend the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, as per the resolutions passed by the SGPC. He said either Mr Badal should withdraw support of his faction from the NDA government or the draft proposals suggested by the SGPC’s general house be implemented.

It may be mentioned that the SGPC had decided to change the definition of a Sikh voter. As per the new definition, the general house of the SGPC had said those who trimmed hair would be debarred from their voting right.

Mr Tohra alleged that there was a conspiracy to delay the SGPC’s general elections as Mr Badal wanted them after the Assembly elections.


Badal to meet PM today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who left for New Delhi this afternoon, will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee tomorrow.

A top officer of the Punjab Government today said Mr Badal talked to Mr Vajpayee over the phone before leaving for Delhi. The Chief Minister is believed to have requested him to continue as Prime Minister.

Mr Badal, who was in Gurdaspur this morning, had deputed Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa to represent the party at today’s NDA meeting. Apparently, Mr Badal needs the continuation of Mr Vajpayee in the office. There are reasons behind the need.

Mr Badal enjoys a good rapport with Mr Vajpayee. He had won the last Assembly elections for the SAD-BJP alliance in the state. Mr Badal will have to depend on a seasoned campaigner like Mr Vajpayee to help the alliance in the next Assembly elections.

Moreover, Mr Badal requires the Union Government’s help to gear up the developmental activities in the state. Free flow of funds from the Centre for various development schemes can help Mr Badal a lot in the elections. The Union Government has released Rs 50 crore for certain irrigation schemes in the state, according to a senior officer.

But what is troubling the Badal government the most at the moment is the procurement of paddy. The government has fixed August 21 to start the procurement. The Union Government’s help will be direly required to smoothly accomplish the task.

Political observers say paddy can make or mar the prospects of the SAD-BJP alliance in the coming Assembly elections.

The Prime Minister has earlier helped Mr Badal at a number of occasions, even ignoring the opinion of Union ministers on issues like increasing the minimum support price of paddy and wheat and procurement of these foodgrains by relaxing conditions.


Rinwa, Josan file PIL 
CBI probe sought into arms licence racket
Praful Chander Nagpal

Fazilka, Aug 1
Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, former MLA, and Mr Hans Raj Josan, former minister, have filed public interest litigation (PIL) petition against Punjab and Haryana through their Principal Secretaries, Department of Home Affairs, DGP Punjab and Haryana, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, SSP Ferozepore and SP, Jhajjar, seeking the handing over of the investigations in the arms licence scam to the CBI. The PIL was admitted for hearing in the court of Mr Justice V.M. Jain of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today.

It has been stated in the petition that from 1997 to 2001, 30,000 arms licences were issued by the office of the District Magistrate, Ferozepore, and nearly 15,000 were issued to anti-social elements flouting all norms. The licences were issued without verifying antecedents and addresses. The authorities allegedly issued licences even to those living outside the district following “recommendations” of politicians.

The scam came to light about a month ago when the Bahadurgarh police arrested Rajesh who was wanted in two murder cases. An arms licence was found in his custody and was issued by the District Magistrate, Ferozepore. An inquiry was started by the SP, Jhajjar, and a racket was detected in which arms licences on mass scale were granted to criminals of Haryana and undertrials on fictitious addresses.

During the investigation, the Haryana police issued a notice under Section 160, Cr PC to Mr R.G. Sahota, Additional District Magistrate (retd) and clerks of the arms licence branch, Ferozepore.

Allegations against Mr Sahota are that he forged the entries. Moreover, during the last month of his tenure, he reportedly issued 1,600 licences.

The Jhajjar police found that 4 municipal councillors of Abohar and Fazilka belonging to the ruling SAD-BJP were involved in verification of false addresses.

It has further been stated in the petition that last year, 200 licences were issued in a single day by flouting the procedure and without verification.

Besides, prohibited bore licences were issued by the Ferozepore authorities which is otherwise under the exclusive jurisdiction of the Home Department, Punjab, and the Centre.

It has been alleged in the petition that a former Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, even went to the extent of placing the arms licence register at the residence of a Punjab Cabinet minister and signed the licences there. Another discrepancy which has been pointed out is that some licences were issued without affixing the photographs of applicants. In most of the cases such applications were not verified by the police which is mandatory.

Further the authorities extended the validity of the licences which were issued by other districts without having the jurisdiction to do so. In certain cases, the arms licencing authorities, instead of sending the applications for verification to the SSP, directly sent them to the SHO and DSP.

It has also been stated in the petition that the main reason for demanding a CBI investigation is that most of the files pertaining to the issuance of the licences are missing and records tampered with. Another factor is that the main suspect, Mr Sahota, the then Additional District Magistrate, is not available and his house is locked. According to information, he has left the country.

Also the SP, Jhajjar, who conducted the inquiry was in favour of a CBI probe.


Bungling of gurdwara funds to be probed
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 1
The new management of Takht Patna Sahib is likely to take drastic decisions, including the appointment of a new jathedar, sending the draft proposals to the Bihar Assembly for amending the 45-year-old Act and ordering a probe into the alleged embezzlement by the former president, Mr S.S. Ahluwalia, a Rajya Sabha member of the ruling BJP.

The management will also try to ensure the participation of the Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib at meetings of Akal Takht so that the age-old concept of “panch pardhani” could be enforced in true spirit.

The jathedars of Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, Nanded (Maharashtra) are not being invited at the meetings of the Sikh clergy due to various reasons. Sikh scholars have been insisting that the concept of “panch pardhani” could be implemented if jathedars of all five takhts participated at the meetings.

Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, the new president of the management of Takht Patna Sahib, who was honoured by the Shiromani Committee and Sikh Gurdwara Commission here today said the executive would order a high-level probe into the alleged corruption charges against Mr Ahluwalia who had occupied the post for 16 years. He alleged that Mr Ahluwalia had taken Rs 26 lakh from bank without any resolution.

Mr Romana who was also an executive member of the Shiromani Gurdwara Committee said he was the first person from Punjab to have been elected president of Takht Patna Sahib Board in 54 years. He said residents of Patna Sahib and Sikhs all over Bihar had welcomed his appointment.

Mr Romana said the Minister for Railways, Mr Nitish Kumar, had accepted the demand of the management to start a special biweekly train between Amritsar and Patna Sahib.

He said the management would ensure that the 1993 draft proposals for amending the Act of Takht Damdama Sahib were referred to the Bihar Assembly.

He claimed that the Sikh sangat of Bihar was ready for implementing the maryada as approved by Akal Takht and the Shiromani Gurdwara Committee. The maryada of Takht Patna Sahib and Takht Hazoor Sahib differ from Akal Takht. The controversial Dasam Granth is also recited in the two takhts.

The managing committee of Takht Patna Sahib consists of 15 members which include elected, nominated and co-opted members. Three members are elected from the three constituencies of Patna district on the basis of franchise. Two members are elected by indirect election while six are nominated by different Sikh organisations, including the SGPC, Chief Khalsa Diwan and Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee.

The need to amend the management of Takht Patna Sahib has been felt for a long time since it still continues to be managed under the provisions of the Religious Endowments Act, 1863.


Phase IV of corridor scheme to start soon
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
The Minister for Local Government, Punjab, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, has announced that phase IV of the corridor (galiara) scheme for beautification of the surrounding areas of the Golden Temple will be taken shortly. The scheme which has been hanging fire for the past couple of years will be taken up as the funds sought from the Centre for it were expected soon.

Mr Tandon, who was addressing a press conference her yesterday, said he had called a meeting of the Project in Charge of the galiara scheme next week.

He pointed out that a three-member committee which was constituted to review the octroi, sewerage and water charges, house tax and property tax was likely to submit its report within a week. He added that the government was committed to abolishing octroi and rationalising other charges for he benefit of the urban population of the state.

The minister revealed that he would take up the issue of installation of a statue or erection of a suitable memorial of Shaheed Udham Singh who had personally taken revenge from General O’dyer, who was responsible for the massacre at Jallianwala Bagh. He added that Jallianwal Bagh would be the most suitable place to establish the memorial.

Mr Tandon said the issue of shifting the Sabzi Mandi from the crowded Hall Gate area of the city would be resolved shortly and the government had decided to sort out some technical problems and may issue an ordinance in this regard.

Replying to a question about the traffic congestion in the city, the minister said the government was preparing to build parking places in congested localities and bazars. Also, new road would be laid to divert the traffic from Lawrence Road, the most congested road of the city.

Commenting on his dream project to convert the Jandiala Canal on the GT Road into a tourist spot Mr Tandon said due to some technical problems, the land which belongs to the Irrigation Department was being transferred to the Municipal Corporation for the proposed project. It was likely to be completed within the next year.

Earlier, he laid the foundation stone of the modern and well-planned Defence enclave locality near the bypass. He said the colony duly approved by the Department of Town Planning would have more than 350 residential plots, a market and ultra-modern civic amenities.


BKU (E) holds rally against lathi charge
Our Correspondent

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), August 1
Thousands of activists of the BKU (E) held a rally on the outskirts of the town today to express their resentment against the lathi charge by the police on union activists and residents of Maiserkhana village on July 24.

The police had made elaborate arrangements to prevent the activists from entering the town to prevent any untoward incident. Police personnel were deployed at various entry points to the town.

BKU (E) activists from Bathinda and Mansa districts tried to enter the town after breaking in the police cordon but their attempt was foiled by the policemen.

The town and the Bathinda-Mansa road were virtually turned into a police cantonment. Senior police officials from Bathinda and Mansa district were also present on the scene.

About 1,500 activists from the Mansa area assembled near Desa Maur village in Mansa district. From there, they started towards the town in vehicles. The police, however, did not allow them to enter the town.

The activists from several areas assembled near the bypass and held a rally there. They shouted slogans against the Punjab Government and the police authorities. They alleged that the authorities did not allow them to show their resentment against police brutality through peaceful means.

The activists alleged that the authorities failed to listening to their genuine demands. They alleged that they were not fulfilling their demands. Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, state president of the union, while addressing the gathering said the police action on July 24 was not justified. He alleged the police had lathicharged the activists staging a peaceful dharna. He said the police was playing in the hands of those who were responsible for poor economic condition of the farmers.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Dittupur, general secretary of the union, said the state government which claimed to be a “government of farmers” harassed them without any reason. He said the union had never said that the farmers should not return the loans they took from banks or money lenders.

The police officials who had been on the tenterhooks for the past many days as they feared that activists of the BKU (E) might create some problem at their rally today, heaved a sigh of relief as the day passed off peacefully. Some of the activists were arrested as a precautionary measure.


PSEB to buy power with bonds
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 1
The cash-strapped Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will now pay part of its dues for power purchased from Central generating agencies through power bonds guaranteed by the state government.

The state government has already taken up the matter for payment of half of the money due to Central generating units like the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC) and the National Atomic Power Corporation (NAPC) through power bonds following a decision of a Central government committee in this regard.

The PSEB has already applied to the Centre that it may be allowed to make payments for power purchase through the bonds. The Board has decided to take this measure due to a severe financial crunch. Recently the Railways had threatened to slow down its supply to the Board following pending freight dues. Recently the Ropar thermal plant has only three-day stock of coal. Now it has the stock for seven days. The situation has been eased somewhat with the Board making some payments to both the Railways and the coal companies after the state government released Rs 50 crore to it which were ostensibly meant for ensuring regular power supply to farmers during the paddy season.

The board Chairman, Mr G.S. Sohal, said the Board had moved a case for some kind of concession in the mode of payment to Central agencies, which included use of power bonds, due to the good record of the Board in the matter of payments. He said earlier some of the States which had a long record of defaulting on power payments had secured this advantage whereas Boards like the PSEB had been purchasing power with cash.

Mr Sohal admitted that the transportation of coal to the state had been affected due to shortage of funds. He said the situation was likely to improve shortly after the State government released another Rs 50 crore in instalments as promised by it in the coming months. He said presently the Board owed the coal mines around Rs 24 crore and the Railways around Rs 10 crore.

The chairman disclosed that the price fixation of coal with the coal mines was also coming in the way in the establishment of the Goindwal thermal project. He said the partner private company was not agreeing to a 25 per cent hike in coal charges made by the coal companies. He said the PSEB was working towards resolving the matter amicably at the earliest.

Meanwhile sources said the financial position of the Board was likely to be severely tested in the coming months even if the State government released some funds to it due to the recent decision of the government to give free power to members of the Scheduled Castes. They said earlier while a minimum amount of 30 units was given free to this category now 50 units would be given free. Similarly while they were allowed a 300 watt capacity now it had been increased to 1000 watt. This the sources said would result in a large loss to the Board.


SAD counters BSP move
Plan to woo Backward Classes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
To counter the BSP move and to strengthen base among the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, the SAD has initiated several programmes.

The Backward Caste Welfare Dal, a wing of the SAD, has started setting up its unit at district, block, village and “mohalla” level.

The idea is to widen its base among the communities which were considered to be the traditional vote bank of the Congress and the BSP.

Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Gurdev Singh, president and secretary general, respectively, of the welfare dal talking to Tribune News Service today said meetings would be held at the grassroots level so that the grievances could be known and taken up with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

District-level rallies would be addressed by Mr Badal or by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the SAD.

Asked about their main demands and implementation of the Mandal Commission report, they said first of all they were trying to organise people under one flag. If the SAD got a majority, only then could it be implemented.

Mr Babu Singh, SAD secretary, Bathinda, said a meeting of circle jathedars of the welfare dal was held at the Hazi Ratan gurdwara. They were assured that the SAD would extend full cooperation to it for its activities.

Those who attended today’s meeting included Mr Sukhminder Singh Bhagibander, Mr Harnek Singh Singo, Mr Pritam Singh Joganand, Mr Avtar Singh Manuana (all senior Akali leaders) and 12 circle jathedars.

Mr Dalip Singh, president of the welfare dal of the district unit said a women’s wing and employees’ wing would be formed soon.


‘Grant autonomy to Kashmir’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 1
Dubbing Kashmir as a major bone of contention and a cause of mutual hatred between India and Pakistan, noted journalist and parliamentarian, Kuldeep Nayyar, today suggested that both countries should grant ‘greater autonomy’ to the disturbed hill state.

Mr Nayyar, who was talking to reporters here yesterday said, relations between the two countries for last 54 years had remained strained due to the unresolved Kashmir issue.

He was of the view that the dialogue, between the two countries should continue. Mr Nayyar suggested that one solution to the vexed question could be that both countries should grant ‘autonomy’ to the hill state and at the most they should retain control over departments of external affairs, defence and communication. After this, autonomous states on both sides of the border should go in for opening of the land routes for enabling the people of both parts of Kashmir to meet each other after obtaining visa from the respective governments of the two countries.

“Actually, it is almost impossible for both countries to have either full control over the entire valley or to leave it altogether,” Nayyar said adding that India should not accept any division of Kashmir on religious basis.

“We are still feeling the pain of the Partition of the country on religious basis”.

Referring to the failure of the Agra summit, Mr Nayyar said Pakistan wanted that the talks should revolve around the Kashmir issue and was not ready to talk on Indian point of view that the issue of terrorism should also be discussed.

Earlier, speaking at a function organised by the Hind Pak Dost Manch, Punjabi Folklore Research Academy and Punjabi Sath, Lambran, Mr Nayyar said the people of Punjab on both sides of the border were yearning to meet each other and this spirit could well be depicted at a function to be organised on the Indo-Pak border on August 14.

“I will request both Indian Prime Minister and Pakistan President to attend the function,” he added. Others who were expected to participate in function were Gulzar, Dipti Naval, Ompuri, Raj Babbar and Tabbu.

Those who addressed the function included Mr Satnam Manak, secretary, Hind-Pak Dosti Manch, Mr Tara Singh Sandhu, Punjabi Folklore Research Academy, and Dr Balbir Bhaura, president, Punjabi Sath, Lambran.


Police settling scores: MLA
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
Mr Sanjeev Gupta, DIG (Patiala Range) has ordered an inquiry into the alleged looting of a wine shop and beating up of certain persons by Mr Balwant Singh Sahpur, SAD, MLA, and the role of the district police. The inquiry has been marked to the SP (City), Patiala.

Supporters of the MLA today organised a protest meeting at Fatehgarh Sahib Gurdwara against the registration of a false case against the MLA. They criticised the police for implicating him and supported the cause of the MLA in eradicating a social evil like satta. They also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP.

Addressing mediapersons, Mr Sahpur said as he had been highlighting corruption and misdeeds of the police and opposing the sale of illicit liquor in the rural areas, the police was settling scores with him. He said he had never gone to the wine shop at Mirpur village.

He presented the sarpanch of that village and four other sarpanches of surrounding villages who claimed that no such incident had happened in their area and it was a concocted story.

He alleged that the DSP called wine contractors of the Jakhwali area and pressurised them to even name his (MLA’s) in the looting. He claimed that when he sent a delegation of four sarpanches to the DSP to check the menace of satta and illicit liquor trade, the DSP used foul language and threatened to teach him a lesson.

He said when villagers took him to Bhamarsi, he caught a satta agent and seized some documents. As Bhadson police station was near his village, he approached it. Handing over documents seized from agents to media persons, he said he was told that the main office of the satta king was situated on the GT Road (Sirhind) and that the money was deposited with him. He alleged that these agents and their customers who lost in the satta later indulged in looting and thefts.

Meanwhile, Roshan Lal, a salesman at the wine shop, who is recovering at the Civil Hospital said the supporters of the MLA attacked him as he (MLA) remained seated in a Tata Sumo. He said after injuring him, they fled with six cases of liquor and Rs 4,000.


No Rafi memorial in home state
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 1
Mohammed Rafi’s music continues to haunt music lovers even after 21 years of his death, yet none of the successive governments of his home state have bothered to set up a memorial to him.

Who would have though that a simple boy hailing from Kotla Sultan Singh, a tiny village in Amritsar, would gain such glory and become a legend in the world of music.

His stellar career spanning over 35 years and the golden era of Indian cinema saw him recording about 40,000 songs in several languages. His love for Punjab and his contribution to Punjabi films is unforgettable.

His ancestral kutcha house at Kotla Sultan Singh village is lying in a shambles.

Rafi recorded his first song for a Punjabi film, “Gul Baloch”, in 1941. After a lot of struggle, he finally got a break in Bollywood when he sang for music maestro Naushad. For the next about 35 years, he remained on the top and regaled music lovers.

If he sang immortal songs like “O duniya ke rakhwale, sun dard bhare mere naale,” he created a different kind of imagery with his “Badi door se aye hain, pyar ka tohfa laaye hain,” when he rendered it during a live show in Lahore where he was swarmed by Punjabis of that country.

Most people do not know that a not-so-educated Rafi had also sung some English songs. “The World is One ” is the name of an LP which comprises these songs.

He sang popular Punjabi numbers like “Russ ke tu challi gayion, kahnu eni door nee,” “Kehdi gall ton gulabi gallhan ho gaiyan, ke khid ke tu full ho gayee", “Sohnio, makhno malai de pedeo,” and Mittar piyare nu hall muridan da kehna,” to name a few.


2 girls injured as parapet gives way
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
Two girls were severely injured when the parapet of a double-storeyed building of Garhwali Sabha collapsed here on Monday. The building located at Krishan Nagar near Chowra Phatak was under construction by the Public Works Department (PWD). Mr Tajwar Singh, member of the sabha, blamed substandard material used in construction work as the cause of the mishap.

Talking to The Tribune, the two girls, Babli (15) and Aarti (10), said they were putting washed clothes on the parapet for drying when it suddenly gave way.

This is the fourth building to have collapsed in a month.

Even as the municipal corporation was served notices on owners of “dangerous buildings” another century-old building collapsed here in the Logarh area here on Tuesday.

This is the fourth old building to have collapsed this month. One building collapsed on June 30, another on July 9 and the third on July 17.

No one was hurt in today’s collapse that occurred at about 9.30 a.m.

The owner of the building, Mr Om Parkash Kapoor, claimed that no demolition notice was served on him.

There are several other buildings which are dilapidated and face a risk of collapse.

Mr Brij Bedi, president of the citizen’s forum, has urged the corporation to take steps for the demolition of such buildings.


Probe ordered into cracks in houses
Our Correspondent

Sunam, August 1
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, has directed the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, Mr Sarbjit Singh, to conduct a high-level survey of the badly damaged houses and shops located in the Kailash Parbat locality here.

Big cracks developed in the walls, roofs and floors of the houses and shops leading to a loss worth Rs 1 crore in the past few days, due to the alleged negligence of the local Municipal Council (MC) and a private company engaged in the installation of a tubewell in the locality. It is alleged that these buildings were damaged as water from a katcha tank seeped into the plinth of the houses.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal also announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the affected families whose houses and shops were damaged. He also asked the local Municipal Council to pay Rs 10 lakh as compensation to the affected families. Mr Badal gave these directions here yesterday when a deputation led by Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, the MLA, from Sunam, met him here in this regard.

Mr Khem Kumar Jain whose double-storey house got damaged has urged the Chief Minister that Rs 20 lakh “relief package” was not sufficient for the reconstruction of the houses and shops. He sought more funds from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund. He also demanded the restoration of drinking water supply to the Kailash Parbat locality.

Mr Sarbjeet Kaur Seikhon, who suffered a loss of Rs 10 lakh, urged the Chief Minister and the district administration to stop the payment to this private company with those whose negligence property worth Rs 1 crore damaged. She further added that under the pressure politicians the local Municipal Council had passed the contractor’s bill for the work done.

Ms Sarbjeet Kaur Seikhon demanded that the council should not make payment to the company until and unless the sub-committee submitted its report regarding the cause of cracks.


Vedanti’s call to curb drug addiction
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
As part of the de-addiction drive, the Jathedaar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, gave a clarion call for eradicating the evil at the Akal Takht today.

Expressing concern at the alarming rise in the number of drug addicts in villages, he said majority of the families in villages had fallen prey to the evil. Jathedar Vedanti was addressing members of the Sikhs Students Federation (Mehta) who initiated the anti-drug drive today under the auspices of its president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Grewal and general secretary, Prof Sarchand Singh.


Illegal vehicles ply with impunity 
Lalit Mohan

Tempos and locally built three-wheelers are used to ferry passengers from Morinda to the rural areas around the town. These vehicles, which are the most common mode of transport in this area, are generally overloaded with passengers in gross violation of safety norms.

These vehicles are built by local artisans. The engines and the body are assembled with spare parts of various vehicles and engines. In terms of carrying capacity and fuel efficiency, they have a clear edge over the legal auto-rickshaws. The use of these vehicles has been prohibited by the Punjab and Haryana court, but the transport authorities are allowing these vehicles without any hindrance.

Local bus operators and auto-rickshaw owners resent the plying of these illegal vehicles which hurt their business. Moreover, these vehicles also obstruct traffic on the main road. The operators of these vehicles neither pay any tax, nor do they observe any passenger safety or pollution norms. The transport authorities maintain that these operators enjoy the support of local political leaders and the sympathy of the passengers because of which it is difficult to take action against them.

The villagers who do not have any other mode of transport to reach their destinations, justify the plying of these vehicles. They maintain that besides being cheap these were the only vehicles available to passengers in many rural areas. Unless alternative arrangements are made in these areas, the stoppage of these vehicles will put them to great hardship.

However, the question remains that should the safety of the passengers be compromised because no alternative mode of transport is available. Even if the authorities find it difficult to stop these vehicles, the number of passengers they carry needs to be regulated.


Minister unhurt in road accident
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 1
Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Medical Education and Research Minister, Punjab, had a narrow escape in a road accident last night when his car (PB-08-AD-9000) was hit by a Tata Sumo (JK-02-G-4216) near Chanalon village on the Kharar-Kurali road.

According to the information, Mr Kalia was coming towards Chandigarh from Ropar side when a Sumo hit a side of his car. The car of the minister was damaged to some extent.

According to police, the driver of the Sumo, Joginder Kumar, who was badly drunk at the time of accident, has been arrested by the Kurali police and a case under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicle Act has been registered against him.


Fake notes in circulation
Padmini Jain

Spurious currency notes of Rs 500 denomination have made their appearance in Rajpura. The police has arrested two persons who were trying to get such notes exchanged at shops here. Their modus operandi was to purchase goods worth Rs 20 or Rs 50 from a shop and offer a 500-rupee note for the payment and get back genuine currency from the shop.

Mohan Singh and Lakhwir Singh were going round the market on a scooter and stopped at a shop to buy soap. They offered a 500-rupee note and got back the change. Seeing enough money in the drawer, they pulled out another 500 rupee note and asked the shopkeeper to give them smaller notes in exchange, which the shopkeeper did.

A little while later, a supplier who had to get his payment from the shop came and the shopkeeper paid him the two 500-rupee notes which he declared were spurious.

A search for the two men ensued and they were seen standing on the road. The police was informed who seized 40 spurious 500-rupee notes from them and put them under arrest. They are believed to have told the police that they had obtained these notes from a person in Panipat.

* * *

The Rajpura branch of Allahabad Bank has shifted its office from Calibre Market to ITI Chowk, Patiala Road. The fully computerised office was inaugurated by Mr V K Chopra, Vice-President, Regional Office, Jalandhar. He used this opportunity to highlight the achievements of the bank and to give details of various schemes of the bank.


Govt guarantees loan for sewerage
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), August 1
Mr Sukhbir Badal, MP and SAD general secretary, said the state government had guaranteed a loan of Rs 8.5 crore to be sanctioned by the HUDCO for laying sewerage in the town.

Mr Badal, while talking to mediapersons at a function organised by the Beopar Mandal here today, said the problem if stagnation of water and the disposal of waste water would be solved with the laying of sewer. Roads had been given a facelift and civic amenities improved, he claimed.

Addressing a gathering, he said all arrangements for the procurement of paddy in the coming season had been made and the paddy would be lifted by the state agencies at the minimum support price.

He said it was due to the wrong and short-sighted policies of the Congress governments that the farm sector was in a shabby state today. “The damage done in 45 years could not be undone in 5 years,” he said.


Lovers attempt suicide
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 1
Two lovers attempted suicide in Lalton village, about 15 km from here, today. While the girl died on the spot, the boy is struggling for life in a local hospital.

According to reports received here, Manpreet and Dheerpal Kaur, both around 20 years old, had gone together to Ludhiana. On their way back they allegedly consumed some poisonous substance. As Dheerpal fell instantly unconscious, Manpreet presumed her to be dead. As he found that the poison did not have any impact on him, he touched live wires in an attempt to end his life also.

He received severe electric shocks as he touched the wires passing over his house. While he fell down, the electricity transformer fused. As this alarmed the passersby, they spotted Manpreet who was struggling on the ground. Some villagers rushed him to the hospital where his condition is stated to be serious.

Manpreet and Dheerpal Kaur were neighbours and had intimate relationship for the last three years. While Manpreet was running an electronic goods shop, Dheerpal was reportedly doing some private job. Although the motive behind the suicide was not known, resistance to their relationship by their relatives is understood to be the cause.


Staff watch cricket, work hit
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 1
Most of the employees of the various government departments remained busy watching cricket match on television being played between India and Sri Lanka.

According to sources, a large number of employees of the local bodies department and other offices after marking themselves present in the morning were found watching T.V. at local dhabhas, hotels and other places.

The work of the local offices crippled due to match and even the attendance in the colleges was comparatively poor. People who had come from far-flung areas, for various officials works, felt offended, because of the apathy of the employees towards their work.


Dr Ahuja bereaved
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, Aug 1
Dr Iqbal Singh Ahuja and Dr Pushpinder Kaur Ahuja, the doctor couple who brought the test tube baby technology to northern India, were bereaved today when Pushpinder’s father, Mr Partap Singh Chawla (87) died at the Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, in the early hours of this morning. He leaves behind his wife three sons and five daughters. Among the sons is Dr Maninderpal Singh Chawla, who comprised the team that delivered the first test tube baby in 1992. The funeral procession will start from 433 Basant Road, Ludhiana , on Thursday at 11 a.m.


Front to honour freedom fighters
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, Aug 1
The All-India Anti-Terrorist Front Headed by Maninderjit Singh Bitta will observe “Swadheenta Sangram Divas” by holding a function at Talkatora Stadium in New Delhi on August 14. Front’s Punjab President Jagmit Singh Sahota said yesterday that 50 veteran freedom fighters or their families would be honoured at the function. They include Former President R. Venkataraman, former PM P.V. Narasimha Rao, film actor A.K. Hangal, kins of Mahatama Gandhi, Subhas Chandra Bose, Bhagat Singh, Rani Jhansi and Dr S. D. Sharma.


Office-bearers elected
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 1
The following have been elected office-bearers of the state unit of the All-India Sonia Gandhi Association (AISGA): president — Mr Rimple Midha; senior vice-president — Mr Gursharan Singh Peggy; vice-presidents — Mr Lakhbir Singh, Mr Sarabjit Singh Mantu and Mr Palwinder Singh Bajwa; general secretaries — Mr Balwinder Narang, Mr Gopal Monga, Mr Dharam Singh, Mr Sarvjit Sodhi and Mr Didar Singh Bhinder; and joint secretaries — Mr Munish Bhandari, Mr Vicky Awala, Mr Gaganjeet Singh Tinna and Mr Sukhwant Singh Brar.


Undertrial escapes from lock-up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
Lakhwinder Singh, alias Lakha, a drug peddler and undertrial, gave a slip to the Kotwali police on Monday night after breaking bars of the lock-up. Lakhwinder was arrested last evening from the telephone exchange area in the city while he was selling drugs. He was found in possession of 10 gm of smack and was booked under Sections 22, 61 and 85 under the NDPC Act.

Police sources said Munshi Balbir Singh and sentry Sukhpal Singh were on duty when Lakha escaped. The police has lodged an FIR against the police personnel under Sections 224 and 223 of the IPC for dereliction of duty. The inmate managed to escape allegedly because the police personnel were absent from duty and bars of the lock-up were rusted. The breaking of the lock-up was detected at about 10.30 p.m. by the SHO.


Jeweller’s shop looted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 1
Six persons, including two women, allegedly looted a goldsmith in broad daylight today.

Sources said six persons went to a jeweller’s shop. As Mr Rakesh Kumar, one of the relatives of the shop owners, was showing the jewellery, three of them took away gold items worth about Rs 1 lakh.

When the culprits tried to run away with the jewellery Mr Rakesh raised the alarm. He along with other shopkeepers managed to nab three of them who were handed over to the police. The shop owners alleged that the police did not register a case even after eight hours of the incident. The SSP said the case would be registered.


Registry clerk held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, August 1
Mohan Singh, a registry clerk in the local tehsil and his agent Chander Mohan were arrested by a team of Vigilance Bureau while taking a bribe of Rs 2000 from Mr Sucha Singh, a resident of Karaiwala village of Muktsar district today.

Mr Vinod Kumar, DSP, Vigilance, Muktsar, told TNS that Mohan Singh had been demanding Rs 2000 from Sucha Singh for handling over the registration certificate of land.

Though the registration of the transfer of land had been done a few days ago, the registry clerk was keeping all documents with him and demanding Rs 2000 as bribe.


PTU courses UGC approved: Garcha
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 1
To end the ongoing controversy regarding the non-approval of some of the courses started at different colleges and centres affiliated to the Punjab Technical University (PTU) by the University Grants Commission (UGC) or the All-India Council to Technical Education (AICTE), the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, today said all degree courses offered by the PTU were approved by the UGC.

Addressing a Press conference at the Circuit House here, he presented the copies of approval granted by the UGC authorities for the courses in information technology and computer applications and management. The minister said the state government was trying to ensure that modern courses related to information technology (IT) and computer applications could be started at the grassroots level.

“Punjab will bring IT revolution in the country on the pattern of the Green Revolution as the traditional technical courses have failed to generate employment for the past two decades. We have authorised 77 colleges to start these IT courses this year as compared to 33 last year and 75 centres have been granted affiliation to run these under courses the distance education programme,” Mr A.S. Grewal, Director (Outreach) of the PTU, said.

Mr Garcha said affiliation to centres and colleges to run these courses would help those students who were forced to pay hefty amounts to get a seat in colleges of other states. More than 15,000 students had been admitted to various courses this session despite the anti-PTU propaganda, the minister added.

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