Wednesday, August 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



University Secrecy Dept under cloud
Answersheets go missing
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 7
The issue of answer sheets going missing from the Punjabi University campus has put its Secrecy Department under a cloud with the university registering case in this regard with the police and going in for a change in the security setup of the department.

A list of allegations have been made against the Secrecy Department which has been accused of “deliberately misplacing” answer sheets of candidates which have found their way outside the department. According to sources, allegations along with detailed explanations have been made that answer sheets were taken out of the department after examinations had been conducted and they had been checked by the examiners to change the marks obtained by the interested parties.

Following a report submitted in this regard to the university, the authorities forwarded the case to the sadar police station which registered a case under Section 380, IPC, in the matter a few days back. Sources said the police was still investigating the matter.

Meanwhile, the university authorities have taken measures to ensure the alleged incidents do not occur again by changing the security guards of the Secrecy Department as well as rotating shifts as well and strengthening the security cover provided by its internal security to the department. The Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, when contacted while confirming this said the issue had been brought to light following an anonymous complaint some days back.

Dr Ahluwalia said though the university did not usually take notice of anonymous complaints, it took the issue seriously when “some names were particularised” in the complaint. He said the police had been asked to register a case of theft with regard to the answer sheets which were alleged to be missing as it was suspected that the disappearance of the answer sheets was caused due to ulterior motives.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor disclosed that to streamline the entire system a former senior employee, Major Jeewan Tewari, who had been handling research inquiries for the university, had been asked to study the entire issue in totality. He said Major Tewari would look into ways and means to plug loopholes if any in the Secrecy, Examination and Re-evaluation Departments and suggest ways and means to bring in more efficiency in their working.

He said Major Tewari had also been asked to suggest measures for bringing in more computerisation in all three departments. Dr Ahluwalia said he was of the opinion that computerisation could result in more efficiency as well as help the departments to cope up with the large number of paperwork it had to process. He said any reshuffling of any staff of the departments concerned would only be done after Major Tewari’s report was submitted to the university or the police came up with any revelations, adding that it could not be done right now due to practical reasons.

Meanwhile, the authorities said it would be difficult to locate the answer sheets which have been alleged to be missing. They said the university had lakhs of answer sheets of various courses with it and it was difficult to physically verify such a huge number of sheets. Sources said this went in favour of the alleged thieves as it would be difficult to pinpoint them, adding that university would then be solely depending on the police to nail the alleged culprits.


Indiscipline, poll on PAC agenda
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The meeting of the Political Affairs Committee and the district presidents of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) here tomorrow will take stock of the political situation and discuss the coming Assembly elections and the scheduled SGPC presidential poll. Another issue on their agenda is the indiscipline in the Akali fold, within the party or in the SGPC.

An indication to this effect was given today by the SAD President and Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is keen to put the party apparatus in election overdrive after obtaining feedback from the district jathedars whom he meets in the morning to be followed by a meeting of the PAC.

He was asked how he viewed the outburst of Bibi Jagir Kaur, claiming the support of 43 SGPC members, against some of the decisions and actions of the President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, and whether someone other than the present incumbent could be the SGPC presidential candidate.

Mr Badal said in a democratic party individual opinions were occasionally expressed but maintaining party discipline was imperative. “It is for the party to decide on the SGPC presidential candidate’’. The election of the SGPC president is to be held before November 30.

Though Mr Badal is aware of various acts of omission and commission of his party men (including ministers and MLAs), he is equally keen to know the “mood’’ of the rank and file from the district jathedars, enabling him to galvanise the organisational wings. Among various outflanks, the party’s youth wing is to be reconstituted. Most of the party wings have remained passive, leaving it to Mr Badal to keep in touch with the masses and ground realities. He is hopeful of his “sangat darshan’’ programme paying electoral dividends.

The SAD chief said no final decision had been taken on the allocation of 25 per cent of the party ticket for the Assembly poll to the youth, as announced by the general secretary and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal. Sources within the party, however, told TNS that at least one-fourth of the sitting MLAs may not get renomination. Mr Badal is on record telling his coalition MLAs to work for the people in their respective constituencies if they wanted to get re-elected.

In fact, Mr Badal has sanctioned Rs 3 crore per assembly constituency for development works. There are 117 constituencies.

The Chief Minister stoutly defended the “sangat darshan’’ programme and invited mediapersons, including editors, to attend it and then form an opinion on how fruitful the programme was. This is one administrative vehicle which redresses the grievances of people on the spot. An elaborate exercise is undertaken before each ‘’sangat darshan’’ and only then is money disbursed. He sought to dispel the erroneous impression that money was being frittered away. He has covered 62 constituencies and the remaining, both urban and rural, will be covered before the next Assembly elections. "Sangat darshan" has revealed the real problems faced by the people.

On octroi abolition, one of the promises held out in the February, 1997, election manifesto of the SAD-BJP and also mentioned in the common minimum programme of the government, Mr Badal said it would take about a month to clinch the issue. The government was working out on an ‘’alternative’’ and easy way out to ensure that municipalities did not suffer financial losses and business and trade did not feel harassed. The alternative had to be simple and beneficial.

Even as he talked of the elections, maintaining discipline in the party, urban and rural development works initiated by the government and the interest evinced in the affairs of the state by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, who has always stood by Punjabis, Mr Badal did not forget to refer to the Panthic Morcha.

The morcha was “old wine in a new bottle’’ created by those who adhered to heterogenous ideologies and had been time and again rejected by the people.

“Such a conglomeration can never succeed, much less pose a challenge or a threat to the SAD. Those who have joined hands have neither a policy nor a programme. Their only role is to help the Congress. After all, Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Capt Amarinder Singh are two sides of the same coin.

“Coming together of the likes of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode is an act by such elements who do not want peace in Punjab. But these people will not be able to destabilise the government. No voter wastes his precious vote knowing well that the candidates of such a morcha cannot win.

“The people know how Sikh dignity and honour have been restored by the SAD all over the world after the humiliation heaped on the Sikh quom by the Congress. People must understand the intentions of such a grouping’’.

Mr Badal admitted his meeting with the morcha convener, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, at Una some time back where he had gone for an official function at the invitation of his Himachal counterpart, Mr P.K. Dhumal. “No politics was discussed. It was a courtesy call’’, he remarked adding, “I have been visiting people despite their political affiliations as a social obligation’’.

On a statement of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Congress MP, that the Centre was amending the relevant Act to take control of water headworks in Punjab and that the Punjab Chief Minister had agreed to the distribution of five million acre feet of water among other states in a secret deal, Mr Badal strongly rebutted such allegations.

“We are not aware of any such move by the Centre to wrest control of the headworks. If there ever will be one, Punjab, as in the past, will defend its interests and oppose such a move tooth and nail. History is witness to the fact that it is only the SAD that has always struggled, made sacrifices and fought for the rights of Punjab and Punjabis rising above politics. It is the Congress that has always “sold’’ the interests of the state, may it be on water sharing or territory.” 


Romana sticks to claim on Patna Sahib
Flays Ahluwalia for challenging poll validity
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 7
Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, member, SGPC, and President of the Parbandhak Committee of Takht Sri Harmandir, Patna Sahib, has criticised Mr S.S. Ahluwalia, MP, for challenging the validity of the election of the new body held at Patna (Bihar) on July 21.

Commenting on a report published in The Tribune on August 4 in this connection here today, Mr Romana said the poll was held as per schedule and according to the constitution of the Takht.

Giving details, he said 13 members of the 15 attended the meeting at 11 a.m. He along with six other members — Mr Gurinder Pal Singh, Dr Gurmeet Singh, Mr Kulmohan Singh, Mr Tejinder Pal Singh, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh and Dr Kulbir Singh — marked their attendance in the proceeding book whereas six other members led by Mr Ahluwalia, being in the minority, did not sign in the proceeding book. They later illegally issued a notice stating that the meeting would be held after about an hour alleging that one of their members, Mr Mohinder Singh Chabbra, had been abducted by his rival group.

Mr Romana also charged the other group with trying to snatch the proceeding book since it was certain of defeat in the election.

Mr Romana then approached the District Magistrate of Patna on the telephone and apprised him of the situation.

The District Magistrate took stock of the situation and asked two of his junior officers and some police officials to conduct the poll for electing the office-bearers of the management committee peacefully.

During the election, Mr Mohinder Singh Romana was elected President, Mr Gurinder Pal Singh Senior Vice-President, Mr Kulmohan Singh Junior Vice-President, Mr Mohinder Pal Singh Dhillon General Secretary and Dr Kulbir Singh Secretary.

The minority group walked out of the meeting, said Mr Romana. The copy of the entire proceedings was sent to the District Judge, Patna, the next day.

Mr Romana said while the proceedings of the poll were being written in the proceeding book, Mr Chabbra, who according to the rival group had been abducted, appeared on the scene and gave a statement in writing to the authorities that he could not attend the meeting due to some unavoidable circumstances.

Mr Romana said the opposition group lodged a false complaint regarding the genuineness of the poll before the District Judge, Patna, who called all members to his chamber at 4 p.m. on July 26 to verify the exact position. Five members and two others through their representatives, besides Mr Chabbra attended the court and expressed their solidarity with Mr Romana.

However, none of the members of the minority group attended the court. Rather, their advocate sought the adjournment of the meeting for the next day as they were not prepared with arguments.


Punjabis’ achievements in Canada lauded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Union External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, has appreciated the success of the Punjab diaspora in the mainstream politics of Canada.

While responding to a suggestion made by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, to invite and felicitate both Dr Gulzar Singh Cheema and Mrs Surinder Kaur who, after their election to the British Columbia Provincial Assembly, have been inducted into the Council of Ministers of the province, Mr Jaswant Singh said that “it will be a good idea if they visited India.”

“It is indeed a matter of great pride and satisfaction that the Indian diaspora, particularly in Canada, is beginning to have a voice in mainstream domestic politics in the country of their adoption.

“I do, therefore, applaud the achievements of Dr Gulzar Singh Cheema and Mrs Surinder Kaur in getting elected to the Assembly of British Columbia and assuming ministerial positions. I also agree with you that it would be good idea for them to visit India.

It would, however, be more appropriate if the invitations were extended from one of the states, in this case Punjab, rather than the Government of India,” Mr Jaswant Singh said.

Dr Cheema, who had been earlier a member of the Provincial Assembly of Manitoba, belongs to Punjab while Mrs Surinder Kaur is from Delhi. They are among seven Indian-Canadians, mostly Punjabis, who have been elected to the British Columbia Provincial Assembly as members of the ruling British Columbia Liberals.

The previous Premier of the province, Mr Ujjal Dosanjh, was also an Indo-Canadian of Punjabi origin and represented the New Democratic Party.

Mr Tarlochan Singh in his letter had suggested to Mr Jaswant Singh that as far as the Government of India’s scheme of inviting eminent persons from abroad to visit India was concerned, both Dr Cheema and Mrs Surinder Kaur should be invited.

“This will be appreciated by the large population of Indian origin in Canada as well as the people of Canada,” Mr Tarlochan Singh had said.


Row over Mayor’s office intensifies
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 7
The tussle between the local BJP and the SAD may snowball into a major controversy as Mr Lakha Singh Gumtala, senior Akali leader and Senior Deputy Mayor, municipal corporation, has threatened to stage a protest dharna on the even of Independence Day if the Commissioner of the corporation fails to give keys of the Mayor’s office to him. Mr Gumtala said it was his right to officiate as Mayor in the absence of Mr Brij Mohan Kapur, Mayor and senior BJP leader, who has reportedly gone to Mumbai for medical treatment.

Mr Gumtala alleged that the Commissioner had been refusing to give keys of the office under pressure from BJP councillors. He threatened to resort to blocking traffic in front of the corporation office also if the Commissioner did not accept his demand. He said the SAD had political alliance with the BJP and hence the latter should not create problems on “flimsy” grounds.

It is pertinent to mention here that Mr Gumtala had forcibly occupied the office of the Mayor a few days ago when Mr Kapur left for Mumbai. Mr Gumtala said Mr Kapur should have given charge to him before leaving the city. He said the work of corporation was piling up in absence of the Mayor and several important and urgent files had to be cleared every day.

Mr Gumtala became an aspirant to the post of Mayor when Mr Subasha Sharma, a senior BJP leader, was unceremoniously removed following levelling of serious charges against him. The SAD had then staked a claim to the post. Mr Gumtala officiated as Mayor after the removal of Mr Sharma for some- time. However, the ruling SAD-BJP combine decided to nominate Mr Kapur, which led to resentment among Akali councillors.

At the time of nomination of chairman, Improvement Trust, the SAD leadership of Amritsar had staked a claim to the coveted post on the grounds that both posts — Mayor and chairman of the trust — could not be given to the BJP. Despite bickering among the local Akali leadership, Mr Baxi Ram Arora, a senior BJP leader, was appointed chairman.

Mr Gumtala said though he had informed the party high command, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, regarding the “high-handedness” of the BJP and the municipal corporation Commissioner, he did not expect any initiative from that quarter. However, he said he would continue his struggle to get the possession of the Mayor’s office. He claimed he had the support of all SAD councillors.

Mr B.R. Banga, Commissioner, Amritsar, however, said Mr Gumtala had never asked for the keys of the Mayor’s office. He said Mr Gumtala had been meeting him twice a day but had never discussed the issue. He said if Mr Gumtala wanted to officiate as Mayor in absence of Mr Kapur, he could do the same from his own office.


Khandelwal demands more powers for states
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 7
BJP national General Secretary Piara Lal Khandelwal has admitted that regional parties in the country are becoming stronger and described it as a political reality.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Mr Khandelwal supported the demands of regional parties for more powers to states but opposed the demands of some parties that Centre should give a free hand to the state except on the finance, currency, railway and defence matters. He also opposed Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister’s suggestion that pre-1953 status should be restored in the valley.

He said the Centre has constituted a committee headed by Justice Venkatya Swami on constitutional amendments.

He expressed his concern over increasing Islamic fundamentalism in the country. He said Union Home Minister’s warning to Pakistan proved that the Union Government was very much concerned about increasing terrorists violence.

When asked about the party’s next election manifesto, the BJP leader said it would incorporate issues of different states and would be made at state level.

Commenting upon the Tehelka episode, he said Mr Bangaru Laxman resigned on moral grounds otherwise the BJP had complete transparency in party funds. BJP National Secretary O.P. Kohli, Punjab BJP President Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, state general secretary Avinash Jaiswal were also present on the occasion.

Mr Om Parkash Kohli alleged that while the SAD-BJP alliance was working for all-round development of the state, but the Congress wanted to disturb it by issuing false statements.

The Congress tried to create panic by misleading the people on Zaffarwal and Dr Chauhan episodes, he said that these would be dealt according to law of the land.

Mr Kohli said the BJP had strongly recommended to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for octroi exemption and reducing power tariff. Mr Kohli said that the SAD-BJP alliance would approach the voters with a slogan of stability, peace, and development. When asked about the number of seats BJP wanted to contest, Mr Kohli said the BJP would increase its present tally of the 23 seats with SAD co-ordination.


Chained man released
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 7
The Moga police today registered a case against the father and brother of Jagtar Singh, a mentally challenged man of Talwandi Malian village, who was chained to a tree for the past seven years by his family members.

The Moga police which rescued the man late last evening said Jagtar had become mentally challenged due to the inhuman treatment meted out to him by his family members and especially by his younger brother Gurdip Singh and father Harbans Singh. The accused were yet to be arrested.

Confirming the development late this evening, the DSP, Moga, Mr Surinder Singh Sandhu, said Jagtar had been taken to hospital in Moga and sent to the village. He said Jagtar was now under the supervision of the village panchayat and was likely to be shifted to the mental asylum in Amritsar for treatment.

The DSP said the police was verifying the allegation that Jagtar had been chained due to some property dispute.

The team of Dharamkot police station had visited the village in the afternoon yesterday, but had returned without releasing the man. However, sources said, the team returned again in the evening after the senior officers directed them to rescue the man.

Jagtar according to village sources, was still shaken and keeping to himself. However he has not attacked or hurt any person. He was experiencing difficulty in walking.


MLA ‘tarnishing’ party image
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 7
In a new development the district president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Jathedar Swarn Singh Chanarthal, and other office-bearers in a press note issued here yesterday lashed out strongly against the alleged wrongdoings of the SAD MLA and his supporters and condemned his anti-party and anti-social activities which had tarnished the party image. They have stated the district unit of the party had briefed the Chief Minister in this regard. They said the party workers would work as disciplined soldiers of the party and nobody would be allowed to indulge in criminal and anti-social activities.

Interestingly, they have also mentioned that no case of satta being run in the rural areas has come to their notice nor has anyone complained to the party high command in this regard.

Meanwhile, in continuation of the inquiry being conducted by Mr R.S. Gill, IG (Patiala zone), against the charges of looting a wine shop and abduction of certain citizens by MLA Balwant Singh Sahpur and his supporters the IG recorded the statements of both the parties again today at the Mulepur police station. The sources said the police had taken a tough stand in this regard. They had urged the IG to either register the case against the MLA who had committed the crime, or against the police.

The MLA had said the police had concocted a story to settle the scores with him as he had raised the issue of satta being run in connivance with the police. The sources further said even the SSP had briefed the IG that the MLA had admitted to him in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner that he had gone to the wine shop but did not beat the salesman and loot the wine shop. He said now the MLA was deviating from his early statement. Sources said the SSP had also briefed the Chief Minister in this regard.

It is learnt that today the wine contractors, their employees, police officials and even the workers and office-bearers of SAD got recorded their statements with the IG against the MLA. Certain supporters of the MLA also recorded their statements in favour of the MLA. Sources said the IG was likely to complete the inquiry at the earliest and submit his report to the Chief Minister.


Cong councillors stage walkout
Allege discrimination against their wards
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 7
Eight municipal councillors belonging to the Congress today staged a walkout from a council meeting when its president, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, allegedly refused to record their protest resolution concerning the discrimination being made in matters of development against the wards represented by them.

The meeting of the municipal councillors was convened by Mr Bhullar to know their priorities about the works to be carried out in their wards so that same could be conveyed to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who will visit Bathinda on August 9 for a sangat darshan programme.

Those who staged a walkout were Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Mr Sewak Ram Bhola, Mr Jeet Mal, Mr Balwant Rai, Mrs Rajni Sharma, Mr Gulab Mahonta, Mr Shivji Ram and Mrs Paramjit Kaur Brar.

Mr Gill, in a press note issued here, alleged that the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), when it was out of power, had advocated that democratic norms should be followed in matters of development. However, when it came to power, it suppressed the democratic rights of the poor and those belonging to the opposition parties, he alleged.

He alleged that several localities, including Sanjay Nagar, Bhai Mati Dass Nagar, Harbans Nagar, Amarpura Basti, Naruana Road, Lal Singh Basti, Multania Road, Surkhpir Road, Partap Nagar, Paras Ram Nagar, Fathe Singh Nagar, Hans Nagar, Gatta Factory, Bhag Singh Basti, Shamshan Ghat, Jogi Basti, Arjan Nagar, Gopal Nagar, Gurukul Basti, Janta Nagar, Kothe Amarpur, Kothe Sucha Singhwale, Kothe Kotha Singh, Kothe Hakam Singh Wala, Kothe Inder Singh and Gurdial Singh Nagar had been excluded from the project for laying sewers and water pipes.

He said the councillors had decided to convey their grievances to Mr Badal through the Deputy Commissioner, Mr R. Venket Ratnam. They alleged that the wards represented by them were being discriminated against on the directions of the local minister.

Mr Bhullar, when contacted, said Congress municipal councillors had staged a walkout today on political considerations.

He alleged that by doing so, the municipal councillors had cheated the people who had elected them as their representatives. He said they had failed to raise development issues at the meeting.


Sarpanch installed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 7
Mr Buta Singh Dhillon, a resident of Naruana village in the district, took oath as Sarpanch of the village yesterday at the office of the local Block Development and Panchayat Officer.

According to information, Mr Buta Singh lost by 19 votes the 1998 election for the post of Sarpanch to Mr Shamsher Singh, another resident of the village. The authorities concerned administered oath of office to Mr Shamsher Singh. However, Mr Dhillon approached the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar, and requested him to order recounting of votes. In the recount, Mr Dhillon was declared the winner by 41 votes.

Mr Shamsher Singh filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and got a stay order and remained the Sarpanch. But on August 1, the high court gave its verdict against Mr Shamsher Singh and ordered that Mr Dhillon should be made Sarpanch.


PUDA builds district admn complex
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has started construction of the Bathinda District Administrative Complex (DAC). The complex has a covered area of 3 lakh sq ft, said the Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Upinderjit Kaur.

The complex will accommodate 43 different district offices, at present scattered at various places in the city. The complex is being constructed on an eight-acre plot in the civil station following demolition of the old structures on the site that had outlived their life.

The PUDA Chief Administrator, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, stated that work on this Rs 16.26 crore project had been allotted after inviting competitive tenders. The project would be funded entirely out of the sale proceeds of the vacant government lands of the district transferred to PUDA by the state government.

Mr Sidhu stated that the new complex, approachable from three sides, would comprise four intersecting blocks enclosing a central courtyard to be landscaped with pavements, plants, water-bodies to provide a relaxed environment with vehicular movement and parking areas along the periphery of the plot.

Mr S.L. Kaushal, Senior Architect, PUDA, who headed the design team, stated that the public from the eastern portico would be generally contained within the large hall with single-window system, overlooking landscaped central courtyard. A canteen, bank-counter, post-office, STD and photostat facilities would form part of the core adjacent to the public entrance. The western portico for the VIPs would lead one to the exhibition hall and a library.

A staircase-reaching up to the first floor, would provide access to the offices of DC, SSP and conference halls. The portico on the north would provide an independent approach for the district police chief.

The four intersecting blocks with service cores at the intersections provide eight independent units at each floor to accommodate 43 district offices. The complex, will have ramps for physically challenged persons.


Report on damage to buildings in a week
Our Correspondent

Sunam, August 7
The survey report regarding assessment of losses caused due to cracks in the houses and shops at the local Kailash Parbat locality here will be submitted to government within a week. The cracks appeared due to the seepage of water into the plinth of the buildings about three weeks ago during installation of a tubewell by a private company engaged by the local municipal council. The loss due to damage to the buildings is estimated at about Rs 1 crore.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, visited the locality here last evening and conducted a door-to-door survey of the damaged houses as per the order of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on July 13 last.

The Deputy Commissioner said he would form a committee comprising local residents and experts to assess the losses and ascertain the amount of relief to be given to each affected person. The committee would be formed within three days.

Mr Sarvjit Singh also said he would ask the municipal council to provide land for the construction of new houses as the houses were damaged to such an extent that no human being could live there. He gave an assurance to the residents that justice would be done to them.

Meanwhile, residents of the locality have urged the Deputy Commissioner to make immediate arrangements for granting them relief so that they could construct their houses before the ensuing of winter season.

They said the relief package amounting to Rs 20 lakh announced by the Chief Minister was insufficient as compared to the loss caused by the negligence of the municipal council. They demanded that the amount of relief be enhanced to Rs 1 crore. The residents also urged the Deputy Commissioner to initiate steps for plugging the bore drilled by the company for the installation of tubewell.

During the survey, the Deputy Commissioner was accompanied by Mr Praneet Bhardwaj, SDM, Sunam, Mr Pritpal Singh Handa, Chairman, Market Committee, Mr Subhash Chander Bhardwaj, Executive Magistrate, Mr Jagtaran Singh, executive officer and Mr Gurcharan Singh Channi, vice-president, Municipal Council, Sunam.


Manned railway crossing sans gatekeeper
Tribune News Service

Kot Ram Dass (Jalandhar), August 7
A dysfunctional railway crossing on the Jalandhar Cantonment-Jammu track has been giving sleepless nights to residents of Kot Ram Dass, Chaugitti and Ladhewali villages for the past six months.

A number of accidents have been averted at this point, which was once an open level crossing but was converted into a manned crossing about six months back. However, it has been without a gatekeeper since then.

Even though the railway authorities have absolved themselves of any responsibility in case of an mishap and performed their “duty” by putting up a sign board cautioning people against crossing the line without checking about the train, it is of no use to those who are unable to read the board. Residents maintain that the manned crossing has increased their problems, primarily due its precarious location.

“Due to a U-turn in the line, it is very difficult for anyone about to cross it to ascertain from a distance whether the train is approaching for he or she is unable to see it until it comes nears” says Dharamvir, a resident of Kot Ram Dass village. Earlier, in the absence of this type of manned crossing, people used to be very cautious while crossing the line. Now they cross the line presuming that it is functional,” he added.

When this correspondent visited the place, the room of the gatekeeper was locked and the crossing was wide open. A train passed even as the crossing remained in the same position. Mohinder Pal, a resident of Ladhewali village, said: “We have never seen any gatekeeper here.”

Villagers alleged that their pleas to the railway authorities had fallen on deaf ears.


Engineers: end curbs on use of vehicles
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Joint Action Committee of the Senior Engineers Forum and the Subdivisional Engineers Associate-ion, PWD (B and R), Punjab has urged the state government to remove restrictions on the use of official vehicles by the field staff for the inspection of various works.

Mr M.S. Nijjar, president of the association, said here today that such restrictions were against the policy of the department. He said as the expenditure on the running of the vehicles was a part of the estimates of various works, there was no logic in imposing curbs.

The association urged the government to adhere to the promotion policy of 1961 and fill the vacant posts at the top level immediately. Five posts of superintending engineer and one of chief engineer are vacant.


Farm labourers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
Member of the Punjab Agriculture Labour Union, the Punjab Agriculture Sabha and the Punjab Village Union staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner office jointly here today.

Unions leaders said due to increased mechanisation unemployment was increasing in the villages. Therefore, the Punjab Government must set up agriculture-based industries to solve the problem of unemployment and to give Rs 2500 per family per month.

They sought the remission of the electricity and water bills of the agricultural labourers and demanded to increase the old age, and widow pension amount up to Rs 1000.


Union to gherao FCI godowns
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 7
Members of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union will gherao the godowns of Food Corporation of India (FCI) in Punjab on September 18 to compel the government to distribute the foodgrains through the public distribution system (PDS) at cheap rates among the rural weaker sections.

Mr Chand Singh Chopra, a former MLA and president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said today while addressing a protest dharna organised by the four rural and agriculture workers organisations in front of the SDM’s office complex here. A large number of khet mazdoors, including women, took part in the dharna.

Members of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the Pendu Mazdoor Union Punjab, the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha and the Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal) participated in the dharna. Mr Kali Charan Kaushik, vice-president of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union’s district unit; Mr Bhup Chand Channo, state committee member of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union; Mr Sukhdev Sharma, district secretary, AITUC; Mr Jeet Singh, the Pendu Mazdoor Union (Mashal); Mr Pritam Singh, president of the district unit of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha and Ms Harpal Kaur, a member of state council of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha also addressed the dharna.


Badal to unfurl flag at Ferozepore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, will unfurl the National Flag at a state-level Independence Day function at Ferozepore on August 15, according to an official release. Ministers have also been allocated district and subdivisions for this purpose.

The Speaker, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, will unfurl the flag in Jalandhar.


Resentment among health staff
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 7
Mr Lal Singh Dhanaula, Mr Amar Singh and Mr Surinder Ghai, chairman, convener and co-convener, respectively, of the coordination committee of the Paramedical Health Employees Association, Punjab, and Mr Dharam Singh, president, Class IV Health Employees Union, in a joint press statement issued here today alleged that the Health Minister, Punjab, had failed to solve most of the problems of health employees.

They alleged that Health Department rules were being changed to please political bosses. They said a Ludhiana-based private institute was giving training to students as sanitary inspectors. The institute was working under the patronage of a former Health Minister, they said. Department service rules were being changed to accommodate the sanitary inspectors in the Health Department, they alleged.

Taking a serious note of the situation, the coordination committee of the association has decided to stage a dharna at Parivaar Kalyan Bhavan, Chandigarh, on September, 6 against the Health Minister and the Punjab health authorities.


Protest against Kishtwar killings
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 7
Activists of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha today burnt the Pakistani flag and the effigy of General Pervez Musharraf in protest against Kishtwar killings by Pakistan-backed terrorists.

The protestors staged a rally and a demonstration on the GT Road disrupting traffic. Senior leaders of the morcha and the BJP addressed the rally and condemned the massacre.


Protest by Bar association members
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
The District Bar Association (DBA) today abstained from work in protest against the implication of Harbhajan Singh Virk, advocate, in a false case. It was further resolved to get the false case withdrawn.

Issuing a press note, Mr Wirsa Singh Waraich, secretary, DBA, said the association had condemned killings of innocents by anti-social elements in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir.


62 cases solved at lok adalat
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 7
A lok adalat was held at the Judicial Complex in Nabha near here today. It was presided over by Mr J. P. S. Werniwal, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division).

As many as 92 cases were discussed in the lok adalat out of which 62 were resolved with the consent of both the parties. A sum of about Rs 12 lakh was distributed to the litigants.


27 civil servants shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
The Punjab Government today ordered postings and transfers in respect of 27 IAS and PCS officers with immediate effect. Among those given new postings are Mr S.S. Brar, who becomes Secretary, Cooperation, against a vacant post, and Mr Rakesh Singh, who goes as Managing Director, Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation, in place of Mr Brar.

As usual, several officers have not been given any post after being transferred, asking the authorities concerned to make internal arrangements till further orders, says an official release.

The following are the details:

Mr Dalip Kumar is posted Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Mr Krishan Kumar is Additional Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, and Mrs Bhawna Garg is Subdivisional Magistrate, Pathankot.

Mr Ajoy Sharma is Subdivisional Magistrate, Dhar Kalan, Mr Dharam Dutt Trehan is Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, Mr S.S. Bains is Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Jalandhar, Mr Desh Deepak is Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, Ferozepore, Mr Paramjit Singh is Subdivisional Magistrate, Anandpur Sahib, and Mr Kulbir Singh is Principal Staff Officer to the Commissioner, Jalandhar Division.

Mr K.K. Garg becomes Subdivisional Magistrate, Amloh, and Mr Inder Yash Bhatti Subdivisional Magistrate, Batala.

Mr N.S. Bath has been appointed Land Acquisition Officer in the Industry Department, Mr Pardeep Kumar is Subdivisional Magistrate, Khanna, Mrs Raghbir Kaur is Administrative Officer, Chief Engineer, PWD, Patiala, and Mr Bakhtawar Singh is Subdivisional Magistrate, Baghapurana.

Mr Vimal Kumar Setia is District Transport Officer, Kapurthala, Mr Amarjit Singh Shahi is Subdivisional Magistrate, Bassi Pathana, Mr Gurmit Singh is Assistant Commissioner (General), Ferozepore, and Mr Jaspal Singh is Executive Magistrate, Gurdaspur.

Ms Surinder Kaur is Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Ludhiana, Ms Ankita Darshi is Assistant Commissioner (General), Nawanshahr, Mr Harcharan Singh is Assistant Commissioner (General), Jalandhar, Mr Gurwaryam Singh is District Transport Officer, Amritsar, Mr T.P.S. Phoolka is Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Moga, and Mr Sumer Singh Gurjar is Subdivisional Magistrate, Abohar.


Red Cross medical store raided
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 7
A team of doctors and pharmacists led by Dr Bawa Ram Gupta, Civil Surgeon, raided the medical store run by the Red Cross on the premises of the civil hospital here today.

The raid was conducted on a complaint filed by the Vigilant Citizens Forum with the Deputy Commissioner in which the forum had alleged the patients were being overcharged and sometimes even physicians samples which are not meant for sale were being sold.

Though Dr Bawa Ram Gupta refused to divulge the details information gathered by this correspondent revealed largescale bunglings were detected in raids conducted today.

Sources said the shop had been running on an expired license and the management of the shop had applied for a license with the authorities about two years ago. A license had not been given yet. Complaints about overcharging had been received by the authorities concerned many times earlier also, the sources said.

The sources said complaints regarding no-issuing of bills to the patients, sale of substandard medicines and physicians samples had been received by the authorities. As the shop was running under the Red Cross Society the patients had faith in the shop but they were being allegedly cheated by employees, the sources said. The sources said in today’s raid certain complaints were found to be true and substandard medicines were found at the store.


Wanted in Jammu, held in Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 7
The Jalandhar police has arrested a Jammu-based dreaded criminal and history-sheeter, who was living in the city in the garb of a labourer and was wanted by the Jammu and Kashmir police for a number of crimes ranging from murders to thefts.

After committing crimes in the Jammu area, Joginder Pal, alias Liaco, alias Mama, a resident of Domana village near Jammu, had settled down in Jalandhar and was working as a labourer since 1992. He had allegedly murdered a Rajput in his village. He was putting up in at a settlement near the New Courts Complex here.

Liaco, according to Mr M.F. Farooqi, SP (City), had also escaped from Jammu jail where he had been lodged after his arrest in the murder case.


Two bodies found under wheat stack
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), August 7
Two Dalit boys, Binder Singh (10) and Jagsir Singh (11), were found burried under wheat bags in a godown of the District Food and Civil Supplies Department on the Jakhal road yesterday, according to information here today.

The boys possibly tried to open a bag of wheat from the lowest layer of the stack. Due to extraction of wheat from the bag, the stack of wheat gave in and other bags fell upon the boys which resulted in their death. The incident came to light when officials of the department visited the godown the next morning. They noticed the fallen stack and found both the bodies. The local police was informed who sent the bodies for a post-mortem examination.


Teacher posing as doc enters female ward, held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 7
Satnam Singh, a private school teacher from Ajnala was arrested after he entered the gynaecology ward of Sri Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital posing as a doctor on Monday night.

The medical superintendent of the hospital, Dr H.S. Gill, said here today that Satnam, in a drunken state, entered the female ward and started examining Kulwant Kaur, a patient. The mother-in-law of Kulwant, becoming suspicious of the "doctor’s” intentions, raised alarm and managed to nab him with the help of relatives of other patients. He was later handed over to the police. A case against him has been registered at the Civil Lines police station.

Dr Gill, commenting on the security lapse said a comprehensive report on the beefing up of vigilance had been sent to the government, which would recruit ex-servicemen for round-the-clock security at hospital.

Dr Gill said the entire security plan been drawn up on the lines of the PGI and the AIIMS and it would cost Rs 50,000 per month. However, the hospital was awaiting the approval of the government, he said.


6 hurt as two groups clash
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 7
In what could well be its first kind, a face-off between Punjabis and Purbias took place here today, leading to a clash in which six persons were injured and traffic blocked on the G.T. road. The blockade was lifted only after Inder, a migrant meat supplier, tendered an apology.

It was learnt that a Purbia parked his rehri on the pavement in front of the shop of Satish Kumar, a local. While the rehriwala moved away, a prosperous Purbia running a meat shop attacked with rods Satish Kumar. Punjabi shopkeepers and their supporters attacked the Purbias. The Punjabi shopkeepers blocked traffic to demand the arrest of Inder, the migrant supplier of meat. The police reached the site. A rapprochements was reached when Inder tendered an apology. The market opposite the JCT Mill is manned by about 300 migrant workers. 


Lobbying on for post of DPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 7
Lobbying is on for the post of Director of Public Instructions (Colleges), Punjab. The post, which is currently held by Mr Gulzar Singh, will be vacated by the end of this month when he retires.

Three names have been shortlisted by the Education Department. The name of Mr Vidwan Singh Soni, the Principal of Mahindra College, Patiala, is at the top of the list since he is the seniormost in the education cadre.

The next on the list is Dr S.S. Sooch, who is currently the Deputy DPI (Colleges), Punjab. Dr Sooch had earlier served as Principal at four colleges in the state. He had also applied for the post of Dean, College Development Council, Panjab University, but the interviews were cancelled.

Ms Nisha Shard, Principal, Government Ranbir College, Sangrur, is next on the panel. While Principal Vidwan Singh is due to retire in October this year, Dr Sooch will be retiring early next year and Ms Shard much later.

Sources in the Education Department say since the promotion policy for Punjab Government employees is being revised, this promotion will be done by the Departmental Promotion Committee on the lines of the Union Public Service Commission according to which a panel member should have more than 15 points out of 20 to be eligible for the post.


Decision on private schools’ demands
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 7
The Punjab School Education Board has planned to implement all decisions taken by the government on December 12 last year regarding demands of the Punjab Private Schools’ Organisation. A letter has been issued by Secretary of the Board to the organisation.

This was stated by general secretary Tejpaul Singh of the organisation at a state-level meeting which was presided over by Principal P.L. Kheti here yesterday.

Mr Kheti said the demands that had been accepted included recognition of private schools and setting up of examination centres within 3 km radius of schools. Now students of class V, VIII and X could appear in examination as candidates of recognised schools. More than 20 lakh students, 1.5 lakh teachers and one lakh other employees were attached to more than 20,000 private schools in the state.

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