Sunday, August 5, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Populist steps may land Punjab in debt trap again
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Punjab is again likely to get into a debt trap if politically correct, bold, hard and harsh decisions are not taken to bridge the gap between income and expenditure.

Continuing populist measures, over a period of time, have had a cascading effect on the financial situation and will make things more difficult for the next political regime.

This note of warning has been given to the Council of Ministers by the Finance Department.

The opening of employment opportunities, allowing free power up to 100 units to Dalits (after free electricity and water to the agriculture sector), disbursement of money at “sangat darshan”, and sops to business and trade has put Punjab in a spot.

Moreover, the delay in holding of elections to Panchayati Raj institutions and not adhering to uniform floor rate of taxes may deprive Punjab of Central grants worth crores. In fact, Punjab is hard put to do a lot of “explaining” to the Centre on these and other issues.

Punjab, at the bidding of the Chief Minister, has been helped by the Centre with a special assistance of Rs 200 crore, against a demand of Rs 400 crore, to meet the gap between Plan and resources. But this will add to the state’s debt burden though enabling it to temporarily tide over financial crisis.

The overall performance during the first quarter, ending June 30, is not too encouraging compared to the corresponding figures of last year. In fact by not adhering to recommended floor rates in respect of diesel, pesticide and fertiliser, Punjab is likely to lose Rs 200 crore per year. As against recommended sales tax (in percentage) of 12, 4 and 4, respectively, for diesel, pesticide and fertiliser, Punjab is levying only 8, 2 and 0 per cent for respective goods. Not that Punjab did not follow the recommended sales tax rates. It did in January 2000. But when neighbouring states tinkered with the same, it lowered it to the present level in May 2000.

As per the consensus arrived at the Conference of Chief Ministers and Finance Ministers at New Delhi on July 5, all states and union territories were to adopt uniform floor rates by July 31. The conference recorded that in the event of any state/union territory not complying with the floor rates, the government of India would take steps to withhold Central assistance and grants to such non-complying states/union territories.

Similar action would follow if the states and union territories failed to withdraw sales tax incentives to industries by the same date (July 31).

It is on this issue that Punjab is now giving “explanation” to the Centre. Punjab’s arguments at the meeting did not cut ice with the rest.

By not holding elections to Panchayati Raj institutions, Punjab will lose another Rs 200 crore over a five-year period.

Another grey area is “food account’’. Though the Food Corporation of India has lifted some stocks, payment due to the state is still pending. The amount due is Rs 1,200 crore. The break-up, according to sources, is as follows: Rs 900 crore for stocks lifted but payment withheld; Rs 100 crore by way of interest; and Rs 200 crore as infrastructure cess. The Chief Minister has written to the ministries concerned but the response is nil.

Punjab has been able to arrest the galloping downward fiscal slide by taking certain steps. But more is needed. The expenditure (extravagant and wasteful) has still to be decreased and revenue income increased by way of sales tax, excise, stamps and registration fee and Motor Vehicle Act. There is a silver lining. The committed expenditure on four items (salaries and wages, pensions, interest and grants to aided educational institutions) as percentage of the total tax and non-tax revenue has come down to 93 per cent as per Budget estimates, 2000-01 against 137 per cent in 1998-99.

In fact there was a time when for every Rs 100 spent Rs 37 came from the “borrower”. The state, however, cannot find solace on the fiscal situation on the premise that it is able to at least pay salaries to its employees, warns the Finance Department.

Financial deficit means slowdown on development and economic growth. No doubt revenue deficit as percentage of revenue receipts has come down from 45 per cent in 1998-99 to 25 but much more is required to be done.

What really worries finance experts is the opening of the employment door. This decision has come when the government is still dithering over and delaying notification of the much-publicised Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS). “There are moral hazards involved”, remarked a source.

Because it involves a heavy financial outgo due to “attractive’’ provisions of the VRS, even “good’’ officials, it is apprehended.

Moreover, certain categories of employees that are most needed — say doctors, technocrats and even bureaucrats — may opt out. For the current financial year, a provision of Rs 50 crore is made for VRS.

Public sector undertakings remain a liability though budgetary support to these has been stopped. At “sangat darshan’’ it was pointed out though every penny was accounted for and proper administrative procedures followed, only the manner of disbursement had caused political ripples.

The third meeting of the Punjab Expenditure Reforms Commission, headed by Dr Ashok Lahiri is slated for August 17. A detailed paper has also been received from the Principal Adviser to the Commission, Dr Prem Chand, Professor Emeritus at the University of California. The commission has its cell in the National Institute of Public Finance, New Delhi, where Dr Lahiri is Director.


Romana’s allegations ‘full of falsehood’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Mr S.S. Ahluwalia, MP, has described the allegations made by Mr Mohinder Singh Romana against him as “full of falsehood, distortions, fabrications, malicious, misleading and disgraceful” maintaining that he was “ ready to face a probe by any authority of proven honesty and dignity but not by any member of the Akali party”.

Reacting to a news report in The Tribune on August 2, Mr Ahluwalia said the claim of Mr Romana being elected President of the Parbandhak Committee of Takht Sri Harmandir Sahib, Patna Sahib, was not only absolutely false but also an ugly manifestation of undemocratic, arbitrary and fascist bent of his mind.

On the day of the elections on July 21, Mr Ahluwalia said Mr Romana entered the holy precincts of the gurdwara with a horde of heavily armed security personnel, said to be from the Punjab police, mostly plain clothesmen accompanying a Punjab Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, who was camping close to the meeting venue, orchestrated a chaotic situation solely with a view to making the conduct of the meeting and the democratic exercise of election impossible.

Mr Ahluwalia alleged that just before the meeting, they kidnapped one of the members besides snatching away the proceedings book by manhandling the convener authorised for the meeting, Major Manjit Singh Sarla. The members were intimidated in order to enforce restraints on them from proceeding with the meeting and due conduct of elections of the office-bearers. The meeting was disrupted in a fascist manner unprecedented in the history of this holy shrine, Mr Ahluwalia said.

Amidst such unruly situation and considering the hostile attitude of the Akali aspirants which rendered the atmosphere totally uncongenial for conducting of the democratic exercise for election, the convener cancelled the meeting at 1 p.m. and conveyed the same to the Custodian (District Judge, Patna) besides the local administration. An FIR was also lodged at 1.30 p.m. against Mr Romana for snatching away the proceedings book and agenda papers, Mr Ahluwalia said.

In the evening, Mr Ahluwalia said Mr Romana and a few members reportedly met somewhere wherein he declared himself as the President unilaterally, illegally and arbitrarily which had no sanction under the Constitution and rules of the gurdwara. The gurdwara continues to be managed by an ad-hoc committee and Mr Romana is not in the committee.

Since the entire issue stands referred to the District Judge, Patna, who as the Custodian of the gurdwara, has duly taken cognizance of the unsavoury developments and issued notice on July 24 to the parties concerned.

Mr Ahluwalia said that it was beyond his dignity to respond to such vilification campaign launched by Mr Romana but offered to face a probe by any authority of proven honesty and dignity.

Mr Ahluwalia said that in the wake of massacre of 35 members of the Sikh community on March 26, 2000, at Chithi Singhpora in Anantnag district of Kashmir, he visited the valley on March 21 at the time of the cremation of the slain Sikhs. On that occasion, the Sikh leaders of Kashmir approached him stating that all killed Sikhs belonged to poor families who had lost their sole bread winners and sought the help from the Patna Sahib Gurdwara Committee.

In response to their request a relief fund of Rs 52 lakh — contributed by the Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee of the Takht Sri Harmandir Patna Sahib and the Sachkhand Sri Hazur Abchalnagar Sahib, Nanded — was disbursed by way of bank drafts to each and every family of all 35 victims of the massacre. The entire proceedings of disbursements during the bhog ceremony on March 30 were witnessed among others by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the then SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, he added.

Lastly, he said devout Sikhs like him were feeling gravely concerned about the alleged attempt by the Akalis and the SGPC to remove the Dasam Granth, which has been worshipped along with the holy Guru Granth Sahib, both at Patna Sahib as well as at Nanded Sahib, under the pretext of implementing the “maryada” as approved by Akal Takht and the SGPC. For centuries Sikhs have been paying obeisance to the Dasam Granth, worshipped at Patna Sahib especially due to historical reasons of the same having been written by Guru Gobind Singh whose birthplace is Patna Sahib and at Nanded Sahib where the Tenth Guru passed away.

“The people at large must be cautioned against such nefarious designs of dividing society by unnecessarily creating a controversy by such people of doubtful integrity and who seem to have been perpetually involved in desecration of the Sikh religion by misguiding the members of the Sikh community to waste their energy and resources in intra-religious rivalry and controversies,” Mr Ahluwalia concluded.


Varsity-AICTE war of words hots up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
The war of words between the north-west regional office of the All-India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) and Punjabi University heightened yesterday with the AICTE telling the university Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar not to proceed against the provisions of the Central Act on the issue of approval needed from the body for any technical course in the country, saying that their insistence to wrongly interpret the Act was being viewed seriously.

The Vice-Chancellor while reacting to a public notice brought out by the AICTE on this issue today, told Tribune News Service that the propriety of issuing such directions by the AICTE regional officer at Chandigarh had been brought to the notice of Mr Ashok Chandra, Special Secretary, Technical Education of the Central government.

The AICTE in a sharply worded public notice today charged the Vice-Chancellor and the Registrar of contravening the directions of the Supreme Court and working against the provisions of the Central AICTE Act which included coordination of technical education throughout the country at all levels. Accusing it of wrongly interpreting the statutes and will of Parliament as contained in the AICTE Act, it said any provision of the state Act through which the university was established was declared null and void according to law if it was not in keeping with the provisions of the Central Act.

The notice said according to the AICTE regulations published in the official gazette of the Central government, no institution, university or deemed university could start a technical course or continue to admit students without the prior approval of the AICTE. It said unless the AICTE accorded approval which was mandatory under the law, no university established through the state Act could affiliate and allow admissions into such unapproved institutions. It said this was also made clear in an order of the Andhra Pradesh High Court.

The Vice-Chancellor said he did not want to comment on the issue as it was sub judice. He said the issue would, however, be taken up in a writ petition being heard by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on August 20.

Meanwhile, the Punjab College of Information Technology (PCIT), whose affiliation with Punjabi University has been held illegal by the AICTE, said the institute had taken all mandatory provisions to run the courses. The PCIT Chairman Harjinder Singh said though it was not mandatory to take AICTE’s approval, the institute had applied for it and the application was being processed.

He said the AICTE was quoting the rules applicable in 1994 while a revised April 11, 1997 notification stated that those regulations would not be applicable to the proposals relating to postgraduate courses in the field of distant education.

He said the council had issued another notification in August 2000 withdrawing the 1997 regulations.

The PCIT Chairman said since the institute had been affiliated before the applicable date there was no question of it failing in the de-recognition category. He said this proved that the college was legally affiliated.


Suit filed against Pbi varsity on MCA admissions
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 4
Mr Sudhir Kumar, a local resident, has filed a suit against two private colleges of the city and Punjabi University, praying before the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division) that a decree for permanent injunction restraining them to admit students in the Master of Computer Application (MCA) course should be issued, till they seek approval of the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE).

Mr Kumar alleged in the suit that Punjabi University had advertised that these colleges or institutes were affiliated with it and had been authorised to give admissions in the MCA course. These colleges/institutes and Punjabi University advertised repeatedly that the students should seek admissions in these institutes, but the AICTE got published a public notice stating that these institutes had not been approved by the council and advised the students not to seek admissions in these institutes.

The complainant alleged that these institutes had collected huge amounts of money from students with the connivance of Punjabi University. The university and these institutes should be restrained from admitting students in the MCA course till these institutes were approved by the AICTE.

The respondents have been served notices for August 6, sources said.


VC keeping anti-socials in hostel: PUTA
Move to ‘terrorise’ teachers

Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today claimed the Vice-Chancellor, in a calculated move, was trying to “malign and terrorise” the elected body and appealed to the Chancellor and the Chief Minister to intervene.

In a statement here, association president Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira and General Secretary Dr Balwinder Singh said the Vice-Chancellor had deliberately concocted the “threat to his life story” yesterday after the PUTA president has issued a statement alleging the Vice-Chancellor had threatened to eliminate him earlier.

They alleged that some anti-social students were being made to stay in hostel No. 6 and were brandishing arms to terrorise students and teachers.

The teachers claimed that the Vice-Chancellor had been continuously terrorising PUTA leaders, teachers and employees. They said this had been brought to the notice of Chief Minister long ago. Both leaders said even the Vice-Chancellor had confessed to this fact in the presence of elected bodies of teachers association of the region and had issued his threats publicly while addressing a select group of teachers at his residence in August, 2001.

The PUTA leaders said the VC’s “mean attempt” to mislead the public would not succeed because the history of PUTA was ample proof of their faith in peaceful and responsible democratic struggle.

Dr Khaira and Dr Balwinder Singh, said the VC was trying to camouflage his “misdeeds”. They said the most recent evidence of his vindictive and autocratic behaviour was the denial of admission to the son of the PUTA president. The leaders said the admission committee led by the Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr K.S. Dhir, had checked all relevant documents and recommended admission but the VC had stopped the same on flimsy ground.

The leaders said the VC did not entertain even the certificate of the Regional Passport Office on the validity of the passport of the sponsor and rather than giving legitimate admission to Dr Khaira’s son, had threatened Dr Khaira and his family and other PUTA activists with liquidation.

They said the PUTA had faxed messages about the “grave” situation on the Punjabi University campus and the VC’s threat to the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, the Human Resource Development Minister, the Punjab Governor, the State Chief Minister and the Higher Education Minister, requesting their immediate intervention and grant of audience to the PUTA.


Badal distributes cheques
Kiratpur Sahib truck tragedy
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Dirba (Sangrur), August 4
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Punjab Chief Minister, here this afternoon visited those bereaved families whose members were drowned on July 23 when the truck in which they were travelling fell into the Anandpur Sahib canal at Kiratpur Sahib. In this tragedy, 57 pilgrims were drowned. Most pilgrims belonged to this village.

Sharing his grief with the bereaved families at a programme in the gurdwara complex here, Mr Badal said the “wounds of the bereaved families would not be cured” for a long time. He said he wanted to visit the houses of the bereaved families but could not do so as he was told the bereaved families had been called to the gurdwara for the purpose.

Mr Badal also distributed cheques worth Rs 56 lakh among next of kin of the deceased of this tragedy. The families were given Rs 1 lakh for each deceased. Women receiving cheques could be seen weeping.

Mr Badal also announced a grant of Rs 30 lakh for the development works in the village. He asked the Sangrur Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, to make arrangements in this direction.

Mr Badal also appreciated the services rendered by officials of the Sangrur district administration in this hour of grief in the village in the past several days. He also announced appreciation certificates for the officials.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MP, also expressed grief on this occasion. He expressed sympathy with the bereaved families.

Mr Baldev Singh Mann, administrative member of the Punjab State Electricity Board, also shared his sympathy with the bereaved families and requested the Chief Minister to announce grants for the disposal of filthy water in the village and other purposes.

Mr Darshan Singh, president of the local notified area committee, welcomed the arrival of Mr Badal to express sympathy with the bereaved families and the village.

On this occasion, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, a top SAD leader, and Mr Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh, district president of SAD, were also present.

Meanwhile, Gursewak Singh, son of Mr Joginder Singh, a former Sarpanch of the village, died under mysterious circumstances here yesterday. According to the villagers, he was under depression as his two brothers were drowned in the Kiratpur Sahib truck tragedy recently. They suspect that he had committed suicide by taking some poisonous substance.


Probe indicts cop in treasure case
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The claims of a youth of Ghungrana village of illegal confinement by the Dehlon police and the alleged role played by the police in the infamous Ghungrana treasure case have been upheld as a high-level inquiry by the Jagraon police has found that most of the charges levelled by him against the Dehlon police are true.

Jagraon SSP Balkar Singh has sent Inspector Nirabhjit Singh, SHO, Dehlon police station, to the police lines following the inquiry. The inquiry conducted by Mr Raghbir Singh Sandhu, SP (D), indicted him for wrongful confinement of Nirmal Singh, alias Dhiddi, and dereliction of duty for not informing senior officers.

The police has also referred the case to the Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, for getting a magisterial inquiry conducted into the claims of the discovery of the treasure. The SSP has also given directions to Mr Harbaksh Singh, a landlord of the village, not to use the discovered gold jewellery until a magisterial inquiry was completed.

The inquiry will also establish the owner of the jewellery. Several persons belonging to one family had made claims to it. The Tribune had exposed the alleged police torture, illegal confinement and discovery of the treasure. The inquiry was ordered after a news report appeared in these columns.

The SSP said the inquiry, however, could not establish the charges of torture of the youth. He said the inquiry was impartial.

Nirmal Singh, alias Dhiddi, had allegedly discovered some gold jewellery while digging in an old haveli allegedly owned by Mr Harbaksh Singh.


Seminar on girl child held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 4
A seminar on “Rights of the Girl Child” was held here today at St Xaviers Secondary School, in which a large number of students of various public schools participated.

Justice Kuldip Singh, a former judge of the Supreme Court, was the chief guest on the occasion. He said it was very unfortunate that even after more than 50 years of Independence, some people thought of the girl child as a burden. Appreciating the views of the participants, Justice Kuldip Singh said the workshop presented the true face of the girl child and the situation of the children in the country in general.

He said 147 children out of every 1,000 die of starvation every year despite the fact that the godowns were overflowing with foodgrains. About 10 crore children were reportedly working as labourers at various hotels, dhabas or in other industries, he said.

Justice Kuldip Singh said the ban on female foeticide was a welcome step and people’s support in making it a success was necessary. The recent census had shown that about 47 per cent of the total population of the country was illiterate. The sex ratio in the northern states was declining and Punjab had topped in the number of abortion cases and cases of female foeticide.

With the change in the social structure, women had started taking up jobs and economic freedom had led to their uplift, but much remained to be done, he added.

Neelima Sharma, a theatre artiste presented a short play depicting the plight of the girl child. Talking to mediapersons, Neelima said stage plays were effective in highlighting various issues of public importance like dowry, female foeticide, illiteracy, child labour etc and in building public opinion against these malpractices.

Schoolchildren of seven public schools presented various items on the theme of the seminar. The winners were given prizes by the chief guest, Justice Kuldip Singh.


Site for martyrs’ statue kicks up row
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, August 4
The installation of the statue in the city of jawan Sandeep Singh of 20 Sikh Regiment who laid down his life while fighting Pakistani enemies during the Kargil war two years ago has created a controversy as some persons are trying to change the official site selected for the purpose.

According to official sources, the roundabout near Rose Garden on the Bathinda-Goniana road was selected to install the statue of the martyr as the place was situated on the national highway and hundreds of vehicles passed on that road.

A resolution was passed by the municipal council to install the statue near Rose Garden so that the maximum number of people could see it and could be proud of the sacrifice made by him. The idea behind the selection of the site was also that residents of the other cities should know that the city had produced a martyr.

The politicians who had attended the bhog ceremony of Sandeep Singh two years back had promised to construct a memorial to the martyr at an appropriate place in the city. They had promised that the memorial would be constructed soon. They had also promised the government school in Parasram Nagar to which he belonged would be dedicated to him. The name of the school was changed a few months after the death of Sandeep but no memorial was erected even after two years.

The politicians and the authorities concerned seemed to have forgotten their promises. No concrete step has been taken in the past two years for the construction of a memorial.

Authoritative sources said the main cause of the delay in the installation of the statue was that some persons who wanted to extract political gains out of the sacrifice of Sandeep Singh wanted that the statue should be installed in Parasram Nagar. The sources said these persons were keeping an eye out for assembly elections in the state.

The administration had been caught in a dilemma as it was not possible for the authorities to annoy their political masters who wanted that the statue should be in Parasram Nagar. On the other hand they could not overrule the sentiments of a majority of the residents of the city who wanted the statue near Rose Garden.

Mr Vijay Kumar Sharma, municipal councillor of Parasram Nagar who is in favour of the installation of the statue in the locality, said a decision in this regard was taken after the residents conveyed their sentiments to him. He claimed it was the best place in the city for the purpose.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar president of the municipal council, when contacted said the resolution for the installation of the statue near Rose Garden was passed unanimously. He showed his ignorance regarding the installation of the same at Parasram Nagar. He added the resolution of the council could be rectified only by the higher authorities at Chandigarh. He also declined to comment when asked whether there was any political pressure behind the shifting of the venue.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted said the original site for the installation of the statue was near Rose Garden. He said certain residents of Parasram Nagar wanted that the statue should be installed in the locality where his house was situated. He said a final decision would be taken in this regard after consultations with the family members of Sandeep Singh.


Taxi operators allege harassment by cops
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, August 4
Members of the local Dasmesh Taxi Operators Union have been observing a strike and staging a dharna here since yesterday at the railway station taxi stand in protest against the harassment meted out by the Dhuri police in challaning their parked vehicles on lame excuses.

The taxi operators alleged they had been frequently providing their vehicles to the police free of any charge. But since the past few days they had refused to oblige the police.

The taxi operators further alleged that on Thursday evening about 30 vehicles were parked at the local railway station taxi stand when an ASI along with a few other constables from the local police station reached there and started challaning the vehicles on lame excuses. His sole motive was to harass them and force them to provide vehicles to the police. The action of the police personnel was resisted by the taxi operators and a photographer was called to shoot the illegal action of the police.

The police personnel, sensing the situation, left the taxi stand after challaning five taxis. This was stated by Mr Hardial Singh, president of the taxi union, and other taxi operators while talking to this correspondent.

The taxi operators led by their president also held a demonstration and a massive rally at the taxi stand on Friday afternoon to register their protest against the police.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Hardial Singh, Mr Achra Singh, former MLA and president of the Punjab Kisan Sabha, Mr Sukhdev Sharma, general secretary of the Sangrur unit of the all-India Trade Union Council, Mr Sukhdev Singh, vice-president of the trade union council of Dhuri and Mr Malkiat Singh, municipal councillor, Dhuri. All speakers criticised the action of the Dhuri police for unnecessarily harassing the poor taxi operators. The speakers also threatened to stage a continuous dharna in front of the Dhuri police station from tomorrow if the challans were not cancelled.

Later, the taxi operators along with activists of other local unions also took out a protest march through the city, raising slogans against the Punjab police.

Both the DSP and SHO, Dhuri, could not be contacted for their comments today as they were reported to be out of station.


House owners told to give tenants’ details
Our Correspondent

Moga, August 4
The Moga District Magistrate, Mr Kanwalbir Singh Sidhu, in a notification issued today directed house owners to give details about their tenants to the police in their respective areas.

The notification has been issued reportedly due to the increasing incidents of robberies, dacoities and thefts in the area.

The notification also said action would be taken against those who failed to do so.

In another notification, the Magistrate banned the sale of weekly and monthly lottery tickets with immediate effect.

The ban has reportedly been issued in view of various social problems arising out of gambling as a large number of people, including college students, daily-wage earners and workers, were being enticed and ruined due to this gambling.

There had also been reports of fake lottery tickets being sold in the state. The notification further said action would be taken against the owners of cinema houses if they did not refrain from pasting nude and semi-nude posters on the walls of educational institutions.

The notification has further banned the use of Army uniforms. It also warned people against their vehicles in Army colour. Anybody found violating the orders would be booked, the notification said.

The notification further ordered video parlours not indulge in the sale of pornographic video cassettes. It warned that action would be taken against those found guilty of violating the order.

The notification also warned the owners of old vehicles against plying their vehicles on roads in the district as they emitted pollutants which caused health problems.


Sikh jatha to leave for Pakistan

Moga, August 4
For the first time since Independence, the Pakistan Government has allowed 150 Sikh pilgrims to visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib in Sialkot district related to Guru Nanak, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society said on Thursday.

He said the society had received an official information from the Pakistan High Commission.

At least 150 pilgrims will leave for Pakistan on September 17 and return on September 24,.

During the week-long trip, the pilgrims would visit Panja Sahib, Nankana Sahib, Sacha Sauda, Dehra Sahib, Emanabad, and would reach Kartarpur Sahib where they would participate in Guru Nanak’s anniversary “samagam”. PTI


Chawla, others tie rakhis to soldiers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
The Rakhi festival was celebrated at the fort of Gobindgarh and Wagah border, under the leadership of the BJP MLA, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla.

“The Rakhi festival is symbolic of the love between brothers and sisters besides having religious and spiritual importance. Since 1968, women in Amritsar have been celebrating the customary Rakhi with soldiers of different battalions. Today also little sisters are going to celebrate this festival to motivate their brave brothers”.

This was stated by Ms Chawla, while addressing the jawans of the CRPF, BSF and Punjab Police battalions. On the occasion, rakhis were tied by little girls to almost 200 jawans. Ms Chawla tied rakhis to the jawans. The celebration started with a school bands music followed by the customary tying of rakhis and customary representations like giddha, bhangra, songs and paradu.

About the celebration, the jawans said they enjoyed the love given by these little sisters. Some jawans of the 28 Madras Battalion said though they did not have such a celebration in the South but getting a Rakhi was really a great and wonderful experience.

She reminisced that she had tied Rakhi to General Maneckshaw, General Jagjit Singh Aurora and Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen Chhibber and others.

Ms Chawla said the celebration was not a matter of money instead it included promise of every type of sacrifice for the safety of their sisters and for the nation.


Plea to remove tax barriers
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 4
Resentment prevails among businessmen, transporters and residents of the area over toll tax and other barriers around the town set up by the Punjab, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir governments.

These barriers at Madhopur, Lakhanpur (J&K) Mansar Damtal, Kandwal (Himachal) have been set up on the national highway.

According to Mr S.S. Neki, a local transporter, national highways come under the Union Government, whereas the state governments are levying and collecting taxes without the permission of the Union Government.

The local Beopar Mandal holds that the tax barriers are a public nuisance, illegal and unconstitutional.

According to Mr Sham Behal, president, City Congress Committee, the party will get the barriers removed if voted to power.


Badal’s claim on roads false: Cong
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 4
Mr Sunder Sham Arora, PPCC, member from Hoshiarpur, said in a press note here today though that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal was claiming that national and state highways and link roads in state were being repaired, the condition of the Hoshiarpur-Chandigarh road was still pitiable.

He said the condition of road between Garhshanker-Balachaur was most deplorable. Potholes existed on the entire stretch of road. The recently constructed Hoshiarpur-Phagwara road had been damaged at various places and developed potholes.

He alleged that out of the total money allotted for the construction, repair and widening of roads, only 30 to 40 per cent was being spent on it. He said this money which was raised from loans and selling properties of the Government was being misutilised. He urged the Chief Minister to check the misappropriation of funds.


Party holds dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala August 4
The Lok Jana Shakti Party on Saturday staged a dharna in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner here . A press note stated that similar dharnas were observed at all the district headquarters in the country. Addressing the dharna, Mr Amar Singh Mehmi, president, demanded that students below 14 years of age should be provided educational opportunities apart from free uniform, food and books for those who were below the poverty line.

He added that residential complexes must be provided under the Five Year Scheme. Mr Daljit Singh Handa, district president, said medical check-ups must be made mandatory for all children besides issuing health cards. He added that special programmes and schemes must be introduced to raise the standard of living of the weaker sections.


Probe arms licence scam: PPCC
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 4
The PPCC Vice-President, Mr Avtar Henry, yesterday demanded CBI probe into the arms licence scam. Addressing a press conference, Mr Henry alleged that even criminals had been issued licence on recommendation of the Akalis.

The Ferozepore District Magistrate had given licence even to those living in neighbouring states, he alleged.


Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 4
The Bharat Vikas Parishad has decided to celebrate Vanamahotsava at Agarsen Hospital, here on Sunday. Giving this information, the parishad press secretary, Mr Bharat Bhushan, said around 100 saplings would be planted in various institutions, like Ayurvedic Hospital, and other public places. He added that Mr M.P. Kapoor, Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET), would be the chief guest on the occasion.


Farmers complain of irregular power
Our Correspondent

Moga, August 4
Former President of Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union Kuldip Singh Sandhu said here today that frequent fluctuations in the power supply in various villages in Moga district had caused considerable damage to electronic goods during the past few days.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he said if no measure was taken to deal with the situation, the villagers would face considerable loss.

On the other hand, residents of several villages complained against irregular power supply which, they said, had caused them difficulty in running their tubewells.

They said they were getting power only for a few hours daily although the Punjab Chief Minister had assured them of 24 hour uninterrupted power supply.

Mr Gurbachan Singh of Bhekha village said if the situation persisted it would not be possible for them to save their paddy.

A deputation of farmers said free power was of no use when the government could not supply regular power. They were ready to pay for power if the government supplied them uninterrupted power.


BKU (E) alleges harassment by moneylenders
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 4
Mr Shingara Singh, district general secretary of the BKU (E), alleged in a press note issued here today that the moneylenders were harassing the farmers for loan retrieval. He said the arhtiyas with the help of the police grabbed the property of the farmers. He said some farmers had committed suicide due to harassment.


Municipal Committee to introduce meter system
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 4
The local municipal committee has decided to introduce meter system for the supply of water, which will come into effect from September 15.

This step has been taken to stop the misuse of water as till now, water was being supplied at flat rate system.

Mr Gian Chand Gupta, Executive Officer of the committee, said here yesterday that the decision had been taken by the committee in its meeting held here last week.

The committee, through a notice, has asked all residents to install the meters on their water supply connections before September 15, otherwise double rate would be levied on the consumer.

The committee has also decided to introduce the posting of a Mechanical Sectional Officer here for proper maintenance of water supply.

The committee has decided to notify all consumers, who have opened the plugs of pipes supplying water outside their houses, to close them immediately, failing which the committee would disconnect their connections.


IG holds probe into looting of wine shop
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 4
The IG, Patiala zone, today conducted a detailed inquiry on the direction of the Chief Minister into the alleged looting of a wine shop and kidnapping of satta agent by Mr Balwant Singh Sahpur, MLA, and his supporters. The inquiry continued for hours and the SP (City) who had been entrusted with the inquiry earlier by DIG, Patiala range, also accompanied the IG. The inquiry was conducted at the Mulepur police station. Both parties to the dispute, and the affected families, wine contractors and police officials recorded their statements with the IG.

Sources said Mr Sahpur admitted in his statement that he had picked up statta agents from different villages as he was time and again approached by the people of his constituency to control this menace. But he denied the allegations that he and his men had looted a wine shop and injured its salesman at Mirpur village. He said he had never gone to that village, so the question of looting did not arise. He also said just to settle scores the police had falsely implicated him in the case.

The sources said a majority of office-bearers of the district unit of the SAD recorded their statements against the MLA and his supporters who were allegedly involved in the incident.

The wine contractors, whose wine shop was looted allegedly by the MLA’s supporters, also recorded their statements and held the MLA and his supporters responsible for the looting. It is learnt that the wine contractors also told the IG that from their wine shop at Chunni Kalan, the MLA had forcibly taken away four cases of wine and that they had lodged a complaint regarding this with the police at the Badali Ala Singh police station, but the police did not take any action.

Police officials, a DSP, an SHO and lower staff also recorded their statements. Reliable sources said the police stressed that the wine shop was looted by the supporters of the MLA. They reportedly pleaded with the IG that if it was not done by the MLA’s supporters then he should register a case against the police officials. 


Worker found dead in mill
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 4
Aklesh Kumar of Uttar Pradesh, who was working as a label contractor in a synthetic mill was found dead under mysterious circumstances on the premises of the mill on August 1. Police sources said Aklesh Kumar, who was living with his three brothers, was found hanging from the hook of a ceiling fan in the store-room of the mill.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, talking to Tribune News Service today said the matter came to light when the brother of the deceased Sunil Kumar went to the storeroom to clean it.

He said on July 31 all four brothers went to sleep after having their dinner and on August 1 Aklesh Kumar was found dead. Some injury marks were found on the neck of the deceased and blood was coming out from nails of his toes. The SSP said a case of murder had been registered and the body sent for a post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, he said the police had arrested two suspects of Maur Mandi town of Bathinda district for their alleged involvement in the attack on Bikker Singh, a resident of Gidderbaha, and his family members on June 23.


Woman found murdered
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 4
Mrs Thakri (80), a resident of Arjun Nagar, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in her house today.

She was staying with her granddaughter Paramjit Kaur (12) in the house. Her son had gone to the USA.

According to the police, a few days ago she had rented out a room to two immigrant labourers. At night, her grand-daughter slept in courtyard while she slept inside the house. The girl said at midnight she heard some noise inside the house and when she went inside she found the labourers searching the almirah. When she inquired from them where her grandmother was, they threatened her and said she was sleeping in the room. In the morning, she found her lying dead on the floor. The tenants were also missing.

The police has registered a case. 


Father-in-law murdered
Our Correspondent

Samana, August 4
Lachhman Singh murdered his father-in-law, Hardyal Singh of Amamgarh mohalla, here today with a sickle. Hardyal Singh owned about 10 acres of land and his only daughter was married to Lachhman Singh. The accused apprehended that Hardyal might give his property to some one else. The police has registered a case.


630 kg poppy husk, 14 kg opium seized
Tribune News Service

Malout, August 4
The campaign launched by the police against narcotics has started yielding results as in the past three months, large recoveries of narcotics have been made.

Sources said in the past three months, the police seized 14 kg of opium, more than 630 kg of poppy husk and about 20 gm of smack. Apart from it, a working still was sealed and more than 255 litres of illicit distilled liquor and 145 kg of lahan was seized.

Mr Joginder Singh, DSP, in a press note issued here today claimed that the police also arrested those who were involved in “dara satta”. It also recovered stolen goods worth Rs 1.79 lakh in the past three years.

Informers were being cultivated to check the menace of smuggling of narcotics in the area, he said.


Gang busted
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 4
The local police has busted a gang of dhaba operators and truck drivers who were allegedly involved in the illegal sale of chemicals. Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, said truck drivers carrying chemicals from the Nangal-based chemical plants of NFL and the PACL used to stop at these dhabas.

The dhaba owners would buy the chemicals and sell the same to the small-scale industrial units. Kamaljit Singh of Indira colony and Surinder Singh of Anandpur were caught red handed. The police has seized 10 plastic drums of 200 litre each containing sodium chloride, nine drums of caustic soda and 80 litre of methanol from the accused. A case has been registered.


Undertrial escapes from hospital

Gurdaspur, August 4
An undertrial, identified as Ajit Ram, gave a slip to policemen guarding him at the Civil Hospital where he had been admitted on July 28 after he complained of stomach troubles.

The police yesterday said Ajit Ram went to the toilet of the ward on Thursday night and did not return to his bed. The policemen made a frantic effort to search for him on the hospital premises that proved futile.

After the escape was reported to the city police station, a case under Section 223 and 224 of the IPC was registered against Head Constable, Lakhwinder Singh, Constable, Nirmal Singh, and three other policemen who were given the task of guarding the undertrial in the hospital.

While Lakhwinder Singh and Nirmal Singh have been arrested the other three policemen are absconding. All five policemen have been placed under suspension and an inquiry has been ordered. UNI


HC summons record of MBBS quota seat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Allowing a student to participate provisionally in counselling for MBBS course in Sri Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Science and Research at Amritsar in the category reserved for the wards of persons who had participated in Dharm Yudh Morcha, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the respondents to produce the relevant record on August 20.

In her petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Amar Bir Singh Gill and Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar, former Punjab minister Major Singh Uboke’s daughter Navjot Kaur earlier had sought directions to Baba Farid University and other respondents to grant her admission in the institute on the basis of the certificate issued by the SGPC secretary verifying the fact about her belonging to the category.

Her counsel, Ms Nirmaljit Kaur, had also sought on the petitioner’s behalf the quashing of a notice issued by the respondents asking for fresh certificate issued by SGPC President.


IGNOU introduces short-term courses
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 4
To commemorate the ongoing year of women empowerment and create awareness about health and environment among the people, particularly women, the Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) has introduced a number of new distance education short-term courses.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr U.C. Pandey, Regional Director of IGNOU for Punjab and Chandigarh, said the University has started a number of new six-month duration utility-oriented courses for women, health and social workers and others from the current session. These courses included HIV and family welfare and health and environment.

“The HIV and family welfare course can be of enormous benefit to the workers of NGOs and those working in the field of health education. We have designed the course in such a way that it tells everything about the HIV which an individual should know. On the other hand, the capsule course on environment education and health can be useful to everybody, including teachers, writers and paramedics,” said Dr Pandey.

He said apart from these two courses, another course, women empowerment and development, had also been started for the benefit of NGOs. He said these courses were being offered to students at a nominal fee, ranging between Rs 800 and Rs 1600. He added that the admissions for January session were on.

Dr Pandey said the university was working towards making the concept of walk-in-admissions a reality in India and under the scheme the aspirants could walk in any of the regional centres of the university and apply for any course at any time of the year.

Dr Pandey further said the associate studentship scheme of the university was also a step in the same direction. “Under this scheme, a student can opt even a single paper of a master’s or bachelor’s degree and it will be treated as a certificate course,” said Dr Pandey.


Manuscript conservation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
Experts who participated in the five-day workshop on ‘‘preventive conservation of paper manuscripts and library materials’’ were of the view that lamination being acidic was not good to conserve paper material. They stressed on encapsulation and window-cut mount techniques for single-sheet documents.

The workshop was jointly organised by the Department of Library and Information Science, Guru Nanak Dev University, Indian National Trust for Art and Culture Heritage, Punjab, Intach, Indian Council of Conservation Institutes (Lucknow) and the Charles Wallace Institute for Conservation Research and Training, Lucknow.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, presided over the valedictory function.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
121 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |