Monday, August 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




CM faces angry sloganeering
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
Three municipal councillors (MCs) belonging to the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) were reportedly humiliated when they were not allowed into a house in Model Town where a dinner was being hosted for Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal by a supporter of Science and Technology Minister Chiranji Lal Garg.

Mr Krishan Kumar Garg along with Mr Basant Bhatia and Mrs Gurwinder Kaur Mangat (both municipal councillors) were pushed out by security personnel when they tried to enter the house.

Mr Mohit Gupta, member of the All-India Working Committee, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), also faced humiliation at the hands of the security personnel.

He alleged a section of BJP leaders were humiliated by the security personnel at the behest of the local minister who was trying to welcome the SAD-BJP alliance in Punjab. He said members of the BJYM, in a resolution passed at a meeting held today, had urged Mr Badal to take stern action against Mr Garg.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the BJP leaders who were denied entry into the house took their food at a ‘dhaba’ near the local railway station late last night.

The agitated BJP workers decided to boycott all functions organised in connection with ‘sangat darshan’. However, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, President, Punjab BJP, advised them against it.

Mr Badal, who started his ‘sangat darshan’ programme early this morning, faced embarrassment when municipal councillors representing various wards of railway station colonies led by Mr Jagroop Gill, former president of the municipal council, started raising slogans against him.

Irked at the refusal by Mr Badal for laying sewerage pipes for these colonies to drain out rain water, the councillors, along with other persons, raised slogans like Punjab “sarkar murdabad”, “sangat darshan band karo”, “Chiranji Lal Garg murdabad” and “Parkash Singh Badal murdabad”.

Mr Gill, in a press note issued here today, alleged that discrimination was being meted out to those wards which were represented by Congress councillors. He said the local municipal council had raised loan worth Rs 40 crore from HUDCO for sewerage and drinking water facilities but the trans-railway station colonies had not been brought under this project.


Sangat darshan MLAs’ nightmare?
CM says he is assessing legislators’ performance
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
The ‘sangat darshan’ functions being held by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, seem to have become a headache for the ruling alliance MLAs and ministers. Mr Badal today said party ticket would be given to them (sitting MLAs and ministers) on the basis of their performance as assessed during ‘sangat darshan’.

The statement is significant as the Chief Minister has acquired all powers to select the party candidates for the coming Assembly elections. Mr Badal has been empowered to select candidates by the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Asked if the performance of MLAs and ministers being assessed by him during ‘sangat darshan’ would form the basis for the allotment of party ticket, Mr Badal replied: “Naturally”.

Mr Badal, who was here today for ‘sangat darshan’, asked to comment on the claim of party General Secretary Sukhbir Singh Badal that members of the Youth Akali Dal would get a lion’s share in ticket allotment, Mr Badal said he could not decide the matter “individually”. The party as a whole would take a decision on such matters.

He said there was no possibility of a compromise with the Panthic Morcha headed by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi of the Gurmat Sidhant Parcharak Sant Samaj.

To a question, Mr Badal said Assembly elections in the state would be held at “due date”. He pointed out his party had always advocated that the prices of agricultural produce should be linked with price index and farmers Be given equipment and other inputs at subsidised rates.

He claimed the response of the Prime Minister had been “very encouraging” when he along with Chief Ministers of other paddy-producing states had met him on the issue of MSP.

Asked whether the Punjab Government was contemplating abolition of octroi with an eye on the elections, he said before taking such a step, the state government would have to find alternative sources of income to municipal councils.

On why Markfed had been selling fertilisers to farmers at rates higher than those prevailing in the market, Mr Badal kept mum. He said the Punjab Government was making efforts to provide certified seed of cotton and Rs 5 crore would be spent on the same.

B.Ed. college inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, inaugurated College of Education here today. Addressing a gathering, he said the college would be developed into a college and maximum facilities provided to it.

A long-pending demand of residents of the city has been fulfilled with the opening of the college.

Mr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, said the college had modern infrastructure. It was the responsibility of the university to ensure quality education in backward regions. The college had been approved by the National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE) and sanctioned 60 seats. The seats would be increased to 120 next year. It was the third B.Ed. college under the university. Each student would be provided with a tutor for closer interaction in the college. Subject associations and social groups would be formed for “national integration”, the VC said.

Later, the Chief Minister released a cassette on Maharaja Ranjit Singh composed by Dr Gurnam Singh of the Music Department, Punjabi University, Patiala. The function attracted thin gathering as downpour literally spoilt the function.

Liberal grants distributed
Our Correspondent

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who organised his first-ever ‘sangat darshan’ programme in the city today said this platform gave him firsthand experience of the problems faced by the public.

Mr Badal, who was accompanied by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Law Minister, gave liberal grants for developmental works in the city, including Rs 25 crore for improving water supply. Mr Badal assured the people to make Bathinda a power-cut free city after the paddys season ends. While unveiling the statue of Shaheed Sandeep Singh, who had laid down his life in the Kargil war Mr Badal said the other states had followed Punjab while honouring the kin of the martyrs. Replying to a question that the development of the state was at snail’s pace the Chief Minister accused the previous Congress governments of framing wrong policies.

Representatives of various wards of the city met the Chief Minister and apprised him of the situation. Total grants given by him for various developmental works, excluding those for water supply and sewerage, amounted to more than Rs 3 crore.

Farm technocrats meet Badal
Our Correspondent

A deputation of Agricultural Technocrats Action Committee (AGTAC) today met Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, at his first ‘sangat darshan’ here.

A press note issued by Mr Zoravar Singh, president of the Plant Doctors Services Association, Punjab, said that the committee led by Mr Satnam Singh, general secretary, AGTAC, demanded that the notification of reduction in pay scale and status of agriculture technocrats which was cancelled on December 8,2000, should be implemented at the earliest. The note further said that Mr Badal was surprised over the non-implementation of the decision. He assured the deputation that it would be implemented soon and their other demands would also be considered.


DIG serves notice on IAS officer
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
A senior police official has charged former Patiala Division Commissioner and now Secretary Programme Implementation R.N. Gupta with getting Punjab Police commandos deputed for his security in contravention of government rules and “illegally and arbitrarily” cancelling the allotment of a house to an officer after he ordered withdrawal of the commandos provided to the then Commissioner.

The officer, Mr Brijinder Kumar, Deputy Inspector-General of Police (DIG), Commandos, Bahadurgarh, near here, has served a legal notice on the IAS officer, saying if he does not tender an unconditional written apology within 15 days from the date of the notice, he would be constrained to file a legal suit against him under appropriate Sections of the law in a competent court.

According to the notice, the IAS officer when posted as Patiala Divisional Commissioner, from which post he has been transferred recently, had got Punjab Police Commandos deputed for his security from an officer junior to the DIG. It alleges that the action was in contravention to government rules. It further the says IAS officer also insisted on having commandos of his choice on deputation.

The notice says when the matter was brought to the notice of the DIG, he ordered the withdrawal of the commandos in “good faith” as the Commissioner had already been provided with a contingent of Sub Inspector, four Head Constables and 18 constables by the district police for his security.

The communication alleges that the IAS officer, offended by this action of the DIG, cancelled the allotment of House No 4B, Bhupindra Road, Leela Bhawan, Patiala allotted to the police officer. It says the allotment orders were cancelled by the officer via orders dated on January 18, 2001, in his capacity as Chairman, House Allotment Committee (Upper), Patiala, even though the allotment had been made in July, 1997, following proper procedure.

The DIG has alleged that the allotment was cancelled arbitrarily without calling any meeting of the Allotment Committee or following the prescribed procedure of the Punjab Government Houses (general pool) Allotment Rules.

The notice also alleges that the then Commissioner started eviction proceedings against the DIG, without issuing any notice to him. It says when the police officers felt aggrieved at the “illegal and arbitrary” acts he made a representation to the State Chief Secretary who set aside the cancellation order passed by the IAS officer on January 18, 2001.

The notice says due to the “arbitrary” acts of the then Commissioner, the DIG has suffered mental torture and anguish and has become a patient of hypertension. The reputation and official position of the DIG has also been affected in the eyes of his colleagues and subordinates. It says if an unconditional apology is not forthcoming, the police officer will be constrained to approach the appropriate court.


120 bombs found from Sirhind ‘choe’

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 12
The district police has found more than 120 live bombs from a Sirhind ‘choe’ on the outskirts of Mandi Gobindgarh town near here.

According to the SP, Mr Inderjit Singh Randhawa, the state police has asked Army experts to defuse the bombs at the site while the area has been cordoned off.

He said the police of nearby Sirhind town had received an anonymous call about the bombs. It acted fastly and surrounded Fatehpur village, adjacent to the spot.

Ruling out any terrorist activity, the SP said the bombs might have been imported, along with the scrap material used in furnaces installed in the steel town of Mandi Gobindgarh.

He said these bombs had been off-loaded into the ‘choe’ from old cement bags by a steel mill owner who wanted to save his skin.

According to police sources, the Army’s bomb defusing team was expected to reach the spot tomorrow. The exact number of bombs would only be known after the defusing operation, the sources said. UNI 


BSNL to provide 45,000 connections
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 12
To provide better services to its subscribers and compete with private counterparts in the telecom sector, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has decided to provide 45,000 connections under the Wireless local loop (WLL) technology with limited mobility and 1.10 lakh mobile connections in Punjab telecom circle by March 2002.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Mr S.C. Choudhary, Chief General Manager (Punjab circle), said here today while the BSNL would provide 45,000 telephone connections with limited mobility under the WLL technology in Punjab telecom circle this year, the tariff structure would remain the same as that of a fixed telephone.

“In the first phase, we will provide 10,000 connections each in Jalandhar and Phagwara, Amritsar and Beas, Chandigarh and Mohali, Ludhiana and Khanna, respectively, and 5,000 connections in Patiala, Rajpura and Mandi Gobindgarh by March 2002.

The tenders for the installation of towers at every 2 km-radius circle have already been invited and work will start from the first week of October,” the Chief General Manager said.

Mr Choudhary further said, “There will be three options for a subscriber either to purchase the special mobile set by paying us Rs 10,000 as cost or to get the set by depositing Rs 10,000 as security, which is refundable, whenever a customer wants to return the set. The third option for those who cannot afford to pay the amount will be provided mobile sets free of cost, but they will have to pay Rs 20 per month as insurance charges. Moreover, we will charge Rs 400 as monthly rental from subscribers.”

“As far as cellular connections are concerned, the BSNL will release 1.10 lakh connections in 51 cities and townships falling in Punjab, Chandigarh and Panchkula by March 2002.

We are yet to decide about the tariff structure for mobile phones but one thing is sure, it will be lower as compared to private cellular service providers,” Mr Choudhary claimed.

The BSNL had accepted the technical and financial bids of “Erricson”, s Sweden-based multinational company, for providing cellular services in Punjab, he said.

Any subscriber, who wanted to know about the bills, waiting lists, application forms, fault booking status would get this information within two minutes after commissioning of computers at all district headquarters by September this year, he said.

The work on connecting all 154 small exchanges with optical fibres was in the last stage and would be completed by March 2002. This would result in improving the connectivity, particularly STD dialling, he added.


Morcha panel on Aug 15
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 12
The recently floated Panthic Morcha of radical Akalis and the Sant Samaj will announce its 11-member executive committee at the “shaheedi” conference at Isru in Ludhiana district on August 15. This was disclosed here today by Bhai Dhiyan Singh Mand and Mr Jaskaran Singh, vice-president and general secretary, respectively, of the Shiromani Akali Dal (A) headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann. Earlier, the announcement of the executive committee was to be made on August 16 at Amritsar.

The Morcha leaders and the executive committee members would pay obeisance at the Darbar Singh, Amritsar, on August 18 and hold a meeting later at the resident of Bhai Ranjit Singh, Jathedar, Akal Takht, continued Mr Mand and Mr Jaskaran Singh. The Morcha leaders, executive members, MPs, MLAs, district jathedars, office-bearers and activists of all four constituents i.e Akali Dals headed by Mr Mann, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode and the Sant Samaj headed by Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi (morcha convener) would meet at Gurdwara Akal Garh in Ludhiana on August 24 to release the Panthic poll agenda, disclosed the two leaders. Pressed to reveal some points of the Panthic poll agenda, Bhai Mand and Mr Jaskaran Singh declared that the Morcha would champion the concept of welfare state on coming to power by promoting education, health services, rural development, Punjab’s cause of waters, Punjabi-speaking areas and provide a corruption-free, transparent, clean and “nasha rehat ” government.

Asserting that the Morcha would definitely form the government in Punjab, both leaders were confident that Punjabis would reject the ruling SAD-BJP combine and the Congress party as the Akali Dal headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Congress were chips of the same block and indulged only in friendly matches.

Taking Mr Badal to task for branding the Morcha as Congress agent, Bhai Mand and Mr Jaskaran Singh maintained that Mr Badal had got rattled by the formation of the Morcha. “We don’t need Panthic certificate from pseudo-Akalis and anti-Panth leaders like Mr Badal, who himself had contested his first election on Congress ticket and whose son-in-law had defected from the Congress ‘overnight’ and became minister in the Badal government, added Bhai Mand and Mr Jaskaran Singh.


Mann decries Disturbed Area Act in Jammu
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 12
Shiromani Akali Dal (A) President and Member of Parliament Simranjit Singh Mann yesterday criticised the declaring of six districts of the Jammu region as disturbed areas. It would prove counter-productive, he asserted here. Earlier only the Kashmir valley was declared disturbed under the Armed Forces (J&K) Special Powers Act, 1990, and now the Jammu region had also been brought under the purview which would further lead to the violation of human rights, continued the radical Akali stalwart.

Mr Mann termed as moral victory of his party and defeat of the Badal government the direction by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court issuing notice of motion to the Punjab Advocate General for September 10 on a petition filed by him (Mann) seeking from the state making public the report of ADGP B.P Tiwari on the disappearance of Akali Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke on January 3, 1993. Though the SAD had promised in its manifesto to punish violators of human rights. The Badal government actually rewarded those police officials with promotions and plum posting who had indulged in “murder of innocents,” regretted Mr Mann.

He also contradicted reports in a section of the press that he had submitted four names for the inclusion in the 11-member executive committees of the Panthic Morcha. The convener of the Morcha Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, would announce these names at an appropriate time, added Mr Mann.


Support to Farooq a compulsion: MP
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, August 12
With Assembly elections in the state round the corner, the BJP Kisan Morcha today organised a rally here which attracted a significant crowd. Leaders from the state as well as the Centre participated. Launching a scorching attack on the Congress, Mr Sangpriya Gautam, MP, Rajya Sabha, and General Secretary of the BJP, claimed that the accords signed after the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan had acted like cancer and were responsible for the present scenario in Kashmir.

He said support to Mr Farooq Abdullah was merely a compulsion.

On the Ram Temple issue, he said the BJP was “handcuffed” due to lack of a majority in all states, except Gujarat. On the failure of the Indo-Pakistan summit, Mr Gautam said the media was responsible to a certain extent for the summit not ending in any conclusion as things were not projected in the right perspective.

To a question on the recent happenings in Tamil Nadu, Mr Gautam said the electorate was responsible for the episode as it had chosen Ms Jayalalitha even after she was convicted by court in a corruption case. In the absence of absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha, the BJP could do little on its own.

Dr Brij Lal Rinwa, Punjab BJP President, said initially the BJP was not interested in waiving the octroi, but when the CM announced it, “we owned it”.

He said the government was contemplating different options to raise money for the municipalities in the event of abolition of the octroi. On the number of seats to be allotted to the BJP, Mr Rinwa said a committee had been constituted to take all decisions on the matter.

Mr Surjit Kumar Jiyani, Forest Minister, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, Ms Uma Chowdhry, Mr H.S. Grewal and a host of other leaders from all over the state participated in the rally.


BJP not to be soft on terrorists
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 12
Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the Punjab BJP unit has said the BJP will not compromise on the unity and integrity of the country and be ready to make sacrifice as it did during the black days of terrorism. He was here to participate in a three-day women’s morcha training camp of the party that concluded here yesterday. Eighteen out of 24 party districts in Punjab participated.

When asked why the BJP leadership was silent regarding the entry of KCF chief Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and Khalistani ideologue Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan in Punjab, Mr Rinwa retorted that the Punjab BJP unit had warned Central as well as state governments against it and said if both governments allowed the entry of hardcore militants and were soft on them, militancy would revive in Punjab. He added both governments had assured them tough stand against the militants.

Mr Rinwa said the Punjab BJP was in touch with the party high command to withdraw cases and CBI inquiries against police officers who fought militancy in Punjab. It is expected that a Bill in this regard would be brought for approval by Parliament. The party had discussed this matter with Mr L.K. Advani, Home Minister.

On 33 per cent representation to women by the Punjab BJP in coming Assembly elections, Mr Rinwa said the party favoured this proposal, but prospects of candidates for party tickets would be given preference, he said. He said the BJP contested 23 seats last year and would definitely contest 33 seats in the coming Assembly elections in alliance with the SAD.

Mrs Kiran Chadha, general secretary, Women Morcha National BJP, demanded amendment by Parliament by the end of December to grant 33 per cent quota to women in state Assemblies and the Lok Sabha.


Janshakti to enrol 15,000 workers in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 12
The militancy in Jammu and Kashmir and its promotion by the ISI has become a political issue between India and Pakistan. This was stated by Mr Ram Vilas Paswan, Union Minister for Telecommunication, while addressing a press conference here today. He said the stand taken by both countries was clear on the issue. To isolate terrorism from Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan should oppose the same to clarify its position. He supported the talks to bring about peace which would ultimately create brotherhood among the people of these countries. He said India was much stronger than Pakistan and it should realise this. Referring to PoWs languishing in Pakistani jails, he said the Government of India should send a delegation to Pakistan to ascertain the number of prisoners still in their jails.

He said there was no threat to the NDA government. Referring to his Lok Jan Shakti party, Mr Paswan claimed that it had made its base among the masses within six to seven months of its formation. The main aim of the party was to give right of education and health to every person in the weaker section of the society. He said he had asked his party workers to enrol at least 25,000 members in each segment of Uttar Pradesh and 15,000 in each segment of Punjab.

He said his party had yet to decide about fielding its candidates and alliance with the NDA and the BJP in the forthcoming elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. He said out of 17 MLAs of his party in Uttar Pradesh, 13 were ministers. After enrolling the aforesaid number of members in both the states his party would jump in the election fray. He said presently he was concentrating in Punjab. He had addressed three big rallies at Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur. He said ‘rath yatra’ would be organised in all states of the country to create awareness among the people about his programmes. The rath yatra in Bihar would begin on November 1 and end on November 28 at Patna where a big rally would be organised to celebrate the first anniversary of the formation of the Lok Jan Shakti.

Mr Paswan said out of 6.10 lakh villages in the country, 4.25 lakh have telephone lines. The remaining villages would get this facility before August 15, 2002. To improve the telecommunication network Wireless Local Loop (WLL) technology would be introduced in all telephone exchanges. At least 590 districts in the country had been provided with Internet connections. Out of 6,043 blocks, 6,032 were enjoying STD facility. Sanchar Dabhas having STD and computer service were being opened in the country. Referring to the mobile telephone service he said the BSNL would soon introduce this facility in the country. Mobile service was being introduced in Punjab on priority basis. He said 4,000 JTO and TTA had recently been recruited. More recruitment would soon be made to fill the vacant posts. He supported the privatisation of the Telecom Department.

Later, Mr Paswan addressed a rally at Roshan ground. Mr Ram Chander Paswan, MP, Mr Amar Singh Mehmi, President of the state unit of the party, and many others addressed the rally.


SAD infighting may intensify
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
After the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, the infighting within the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal may be intensified. This was indicated from the decision of the newly appointed president of the Jalandhar unit of SAD, Mr Partap Singh Advocate, and his supporters to meet Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal.

Though Mr Partap Singh claimed that there was no groupism within the Jalandhar unit, sources said with replacing of the district unit, infighting may intensify.

The infighting in the Amritsar unit of ruling party has already sent wrong signals as Mr Pardeep Singh Walia and Mr Sardul Singh Sham, both have been claiming to be presidents of the unit .

The differences among ruling party MLAs and ministers in different districts have already come to the fore, which may adversely affect the prospects of the party in forthcoming elections. The difference between Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, and Raja Narinder Singh, Civil Aviation Minister, were published in newspaper columns. Mr Badal had to intervene in the matter. The party high command had then directed the ministers and MLAs not to air their differences in the press.

However, Mr Partap Singh Advocate, who came here to pay obeisance at Golden Temple, claimed that he would carry all the groups within the party with him.


Govt fanning corruption, says Congress leader
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 12
Former PPCC president Virendra Kataria while talking to mediapersons here yesterday said the SAD-BJP alliance was trying to lure urbanites by giving signals that octroi was going to be abolished, but in the same breath it was inciting municipal employees to oppose the move saying it would be impossible to make up the Rs 400 crore revenue loss.

Mr Kataria said 95 per cent of the income from octroi was spent on salaries and allowances of the octroi staff only.

The civic bodies were getting lesser revenue than what the municipal officer and a section of the employees got. Transporters also suffered losses as fuel was wasted and goods unnecessarily delayed at the octroi posts. This also bred corruption. The PPCC President, Capt, Amarinder Singh, had already announced that the party, if voted to power, would abolish octroi immediately, he said.

Mr Kataria member of the Congress campaign and manifesto sub-committees, said the alliance had promised in its common minimum programme that corruption-free administration would be ensured at all levels, but practically corruption had been enforced at each step. He said none of those arrested under the anti-corruption act had been punished. Most of them were still working on the same posts and some in the same cities.

Mr Kataria said the reports indicated that the SAD ministers were trying to bring back those supporting terrorism and creation of Khalistan while enjoying hospitality from the enemies abroad. These leaders were conspiring to create fear psychosis among voters during the next Assembly elections to “win’ their support. Licences for arms had been issued in thousands on fake addresses to mafia men on the recommendations of those in power, he alleged.


Seven aspirants stake claim for ticket
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 12
As many as seven Congressmen have staked their claim for ticket from the Kapurthala Assembly seat for the coming elections to Mr K.D. Sultanpuri, central observer of All-India Congress Committee, who was here today.

They include Mr Gulzar Singh, President, DCC, Mrs Jasmine Sandhewalia, Mr Malwinder Singh Chahal, Mr Ajay Babla, Jatinder Singh Brindpur, and Rana Gurjit Singh and Mr Swaran Singh Cheema.

Congress workers raised slogans when Mr Rana Gurjit Singh met Mr Sultanpuri for interview, dubbing him an outsider. They said if ticket was given to an outsider, there would be a revolt among the workers.


3 of in-laws' family get life term
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 12
The District and Sessions Judge, Ropar, has sentenced Gurdebo, Balasa Singh and Surjit Singh, all residents of Bamnara village of the district, to life imprisonment for murdering Baljinder Kaur.

The complainant in the case, Mr Tarlochan Singh, father of the deceased, had accused her mother-in-law, Gurdebo, father-in-law, Balasa Singh and brother-in-law Surjit Singh, of killing his daughter. He had alleged that his daughter along with her husband was residing in a separate room in the house of her in-laws. They shared a common courtyard which was a constant source of dispute between them.

On May 25, 1999, when he went to see his daughter at her house, she was found hanging from the roof of her room with a plastic rope. Her in-laws, who were earlier present in the house, fled on his arrival, he alleged. On the basis of circumstantial evidence and the post-mortem examination report which indicated that the death was caused due to strangulation, he had filed a complaint against the three accused.

The accused, through their counsel, denied the charge. They maintained that she was suffering from an incurable ailment due to which she committed suicide.

The judge, however, held the defence was insufficient. He held that since the deceased was living in a separate room, it could be concluded that she was having strained relations with the in-laws. Moreover, the recovery of broken bangles from the site of the incident illustrated that the deceased had tried to protect herself before being killed.

The doctors who performed the post-mortem examination on the body of the deceased had also not stated that the deceased had died by hanging herself. The defence of the accused that the deceased was suffering from an incurable disease had also not been substantiated with documentary evidence, the judge opined.

The judge asked the accused to also pay a fine of Rs 5000. 


E-filing of income tax returns by September
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 12
The on-line filing (also known as E-filing) of income tax returns by the assessees and providing internet facilities for linking of the offices of the IT Department all over the country will be some of the major changes in the Income Tax Department.

This was stated by Mr J.S. Ahluwalia, Chief Commissioner, Income Tax (North-West Region), while delivering the key note address to the members of the District Taxation Bar Association here today.

Speaking at the meeting, Mr Ahluwalia said the prime need for restructuring of the department has been carried out by the Central Board of Direct Taxes to cater the increasing number of assessees expected to cross 3 crore by next year.

Mr B.M. Singh, Commissioner of Income Tax, said having achieved 100 per cent computerisation in assessment procedure, the Patiala charge of the Income Tax Department expects all due refunds to be paid by the end of September this year.

Mr Amarjit Singh, a prominent tax consultant and member of the Central Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, while speaking on the section 115 JB of the Income Tax Act said with the introduction of this section, the era of zero per cent tax companies was over and all cash-rich companies who were otherwise avoiding tax and still paid dividends would have to give income tax.

Mr Ajay Alipuria, general secretary of the Bar, assured the income tax officials for full cooperation of members in discharging their duties. He hoped the restructuring and modernisation of the department would ultimately benefit the assessees as well as the economy.

Mr Rajesh Malhotra, vice-president of the District Tax Bar Association, appreciated the work and efficiency of the officials of Patiala charge and called upon the members to guide the assessees in order to fulfil his tax obligations.


Registration of case against cop sought
Our Correspondent

Bareta (Mansa), August 12
The local residents, led by Mr Lachman Dass Salemgariha and Mr Kulwant Rai Singla, president and vice-president, respectively, of the local municipal council, staged a dharna in front of the local police station demanding registration of a rape case against Darshan Singh (35), Head Constable, posted at the local police station, and two others allegedly involved in the gang rape of Jasbir Kaur (20), a Dalit divorcee of Kishangarh village, near here.

It has been alleged that Darshan Singh had called Jasbir Kaur to the police station where she was taken to his quarters and gang raped by him and two others. The accused were caught red handed by the residents who had reportedly thrashed the accused and handed them over to the Bareta police.

It has, however, been alleged that the police did not register a case against the accused. Instead, it has challaned the accused under Section 109 of the CrPC.


Pingalwara ousted staff fast continues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
The deadlock between the Pingalwara orphanage authorities and its ousted workers on fast continues, with both sides taking an adamant stand. Both have locked horns over reinstatement of the dismissed employees.

The workers on strike are sore with the SHO of Ram Bagh police station and two ASIs who asked them today to dislodge the tent outside the orphanage.

The Chairman of the All-India Pingalwara Trust, Dr. Inderjit Kaur, at present in Sangrur has refused to reinstate any of the employees most of whom she said had been dismissed on serious charges. For instance she claimed Jaswant Singh’s termination was on account of forged receipts of fund collection for the institute. Another one misbehaved with a woman in a drunken state.

On the other hand, workers alleged that the chairman had siphoned off money for another institute.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Azad, president of the All-India Pingalwara Workers Union alleged that he was retired and others were dismissed on flimsy grounds as the trust wanted to employ new members who could work on menial wages. The workers are demanding the implementation of the Minimum Wages Act, regularising of services workers after 240 days of employment, paid holidays, ESI, provident fund and adequate pension gratuity for its employees.

The SHO said he had gone to inspect as he was expecting SDM Dilraj Singh Sandhiawala to resolve the longstanding dispute with the workers. He said that talks are going on between labour conciliation officer, Mr. Talwar and chairman of the trust Dr. Inderjit has agreed to meet the officer on Tuesday.


Important SGPC files missing
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
The SGPC headquarters here is facing rough weather in view of the missing files relating to promotions, reversions and the mini bus purchase scandal.

A senior political functionary of the SGPC, preferring anonymity, pointed out that the advent of Bibi Jagir Kaur as president of the SGPC heralded the era of mismanagement.

Giving details, he said a majority of transfers were actually promotions. He cited the case of an assistant clerk in the accounts department who was transferred as manager of a gurdwara. This meant an out-of-turn promotion of at least six steps, but on record it was a ‘mere transfer’.


Civil hospital lacks basic facilities
Our Correspondent

Nabha, August 12
The non-functional equipment at the local Civil Hospital has created resentment among patients and their attendants. They are seen running to various private labs at the time of emergency. These labs are charging a huge amount for the tests which are done at subsidised rates in the Civil Hospital. The inadequate staff also make the functioning of the hospital miserable.

The only ultrasound and the X-ray machines at the TB-wing of the hospital have not been working for the past several months. The 110-kw generator has also not been working since the day of its installation. The patients in the wards, OPDs, and the lab are the most affected. The two small generators can cater to the needs of emergency and operating theatres only.

The patients alleged that hospital authorities were not serious about repairing the ultrasound and X-ray machines as private labs were giving a part of their income to the doctors. They also complained that the centralisation of fee had created problem for them. The patients had to first get the OPD slip by standing in a queue, then they had to wait for their turn at the doctor’s room. If the doctors suggest some tests then they had to return to deposit the money at the same counter for tests in the lab which was non-functional. Moreover, a plumber has been given the charge of issuing OPD slips.

A technician, pleading anonymity told this correspondent that it would be sheer wastage to spend money on the repairs of the 1954 made X-ray machine due to the non-availability of the spares in the market as its ODELCA camera cannot be repaired.

Mr I.D. Goyal, SMO, admitted that ultrasound and X-ray machines were non-functional. He said the former SMO along with him had written to the health corporation to sanction an amount of Rs 70,000 for repairing the machines. He said the generator was repaired but the running cost of it was very high as it consumed 15 litres of diesel per hour.


Body of youth killed in Italy brought home
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 12
The body of 29-year-old Deepak Nanda, who was murdered in a restaurant in Rome in Italy on July 19, was brought here yesterday and cremated. The body reached Delhi airport on Friday night and the local administration, on the direction of Deputy Commissioner Vivek Aggarwal, transported the body to Phagwara by bearing the cost of transportation. Mr Jagdish Lal Nanda and Mrs Santosh Nanda, parents of the deceased, and Mr Gurjit Singh Khalsa, Akali stalwart neighbour, who brought the body here, praised the DC and Tehsildar Iqbal Singh Sandhu for sympathy and cooperation with the family.

They regretted that the killers of Deepak were not yet arrested and urged the Government of India to pursue the matter with Italian government.

They claimed that Deepak had saved money and made jewellery for his sister to be married on August 30. He was evidently robbed of it all before being murdered in a restaurant. He was with his friend Kuldip in the Indiana-Bombay restaurant the night he was killed, they alleged. They suspect a conspiracy behind it. The parents had earlier written to the PM and others about it.

It is the second body to reach this area from Italy within a week. Earlier, one Khraiti Lal of nearby Khothran village had died in firing in Italy. Khraiti Lal (37) was trying to enter Italy on July 9 when he was killed in firing by the Italian border police. His body reached here a few days ago. It was alleged that in all three youths of Doaba had died in the firing, bringing to the fore once again the travails that keep overtaking youths of Doaba seeking greener pastures abroad following growing unemployment at home.


National Youth Camp in Punjab this year
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 12
To encourage Punjabi youth and mobilise them for social work, the National Youth Camp, would be organised in the state this year. This camp would help the personality development of youths in Punjab. The campers would be addressed by youth experts of international repute. This was disclosed by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, in a meeting with office-bearers of the Punjab Cultural Promotion Council held here last evening.

The meeting was attended by Prof Davinder Singh Chhina, Chairman of the council, Prof Nirmal Jaura, secretary-general, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Shanber project Director, Mr Bhupinder Singh Vickey and Mr Gurcharan Singh (international bhangra dancers). Mr Dhindsa said he had already ensured the nomination of Mr Zora Singh Mann and Mr Kuldeep Singh Bhogal (Delhi) in the central Youth Affairs Ministry. He also promised to recommend talented youths of Punjab for participation in international youth conferences and national level youth committees so that Punjabi youth could propagate Punjab’s cultural heritage on national and international forefronts.

Prof Chhina, and Prof Jaura also discussed issues concerning the welfare of Punjab youth with the Union Minister.

Mr Dhindsa was honoured with a traditional “charkha” by Mr Chhina and other office-bearers for his services in highlighting Punjabiat.


Balbir Bedi dead
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
Prominent Punjabi writer and journalist Balbir Singh Bedi (46) died at the PGI, Chandigarh, today. He had suffered a bout of paralysis and was admitted to the PGI a few days ago. His body, which was brought here, was cremated here this evening. Mr Bedi is survived by his wife and three sons.

Among those present at the cremation were Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Madan Lal Hasija, the Director of the Languages Department, Mr S.S. Kohli, former minister and MLA of Patiala city, Mr R.K. Bhalla, DPRO, Manjit Singh Narang, SDM.

Condolence messages were sent to the bereaved family by the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, the PWD Minister, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, and Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Principal Secretary (Public Relations).


‘Biotech plant soon at Ageti’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 12
“A biotechnology plant will soon be set up at Ageti,” said Raja Narinder Singh, Public Health Minister, at a function after inaugurating a civil dispensary, a school building and a Dalit ‘dharamshala’ at Ageti village in Nabha subdivision here today. He said farmers would also be taught how to use the latest agricultural technology to improve the quality of their product.

He said repairs had been done along over 4,500 km of river stretch in Punjab at a cost of Rs 233 crore to improve the irrigation system. He also said 25,000 new tubewell connections were also being allotted to farmers. He said about 4,000 villages of Punjab enjoyed a 24-hour power supply.

Raja Narinder Singh said grants were also being released for improving village roads and canals. The minister gave away five sewing machines to the village Mahila Mandal and announced a Rs 25,000 grant for the village Youth Club.


Minister assures probe into murder
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 12
The Punjab Tourism Minister, Mr Swarna Ram, today assured relatives of Pardeep Singh that he would take up with the Haryana and Union Governments the issue of Pardeep’s murder in Kurukshetra district last month so that killers were traced and nabbed.

The minister was speaking at the bhog ceremony of Pardeep, 19-year-old college student.

He also said he would get the murder probed.


Forum demands rescheduling of train timing
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 12
The Democratic Citizen Forum has demanded that the timing of 336 Dn Sriganganagar Bathinda train be rescheduled to give relief to students.

In a letter faxed to the General Manager, Northern Railway, on Friday it said school and college students were facing inconvenience due to the closure of railway crossing on the Hanumangarh road for the arrival and departure of the passenger train at 7.35 am. The students usually had to reach their respective educational institutions between 7.30 to 8.30 am. The gate at the crossing was closed 15 minutes before the arrival of the train. If the arrival of the train from Bathinda was rescheduled to 7 am, the gate at the crossing could be kept open during the school and college timings. A majority of the schools and four colleges were located on the Hanumangarh road, it added.


Quackery at beauty parlours must be 
checked: expert
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 12
Skin therapist Indira Ahluwalia has suggested that quackery at beauty parlours be checked by fixing minimum educational qualifications as well as making training from recognised institutes compulsory for those who want to join the profession of skin therapy.

Talking to this correspondent after inaugurating the first hair care computerised centre in this subdivisional town, Ms Ahluwalia said therapy was not a mere hobby but had emerged as a complete science.


Millers not to store paddy
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 12
The rice millers in Punjab have decided not to store the paddy purchased by government agencies in their shellers during the coming paddy season until the Punjab Government accepted their demands and solved their problems. This was announced by Mr Tarsem Saini, president, Punjab Rice Millers Association, yesterday while talking to mediapersons, during a meeting of the rice millers of the district here.

Mr Saini said the yield of rice must be maintained at 64 kg, like the previous year, to have a good quality of rice. He demanded that the moisture content standard of paddy should not be decreased and all the state agencies should be directed to accept it. He said the rate of milling of paddy had been kept provisional for the past four years and demanded that the government should immediately come out with the final rate.

He demanded that the government must direct the Punjab State Electricity Board to drop the monthly minimum charges scheme and the millers be charged for the actual consumption of power. He demanded not to increase the rate of the electricity to Rs 3.35 per unit. Rather, he said, it should be brought down to Rs 2.85 per unit.

He said in Kharar, the Punjab Government was purchasing IR-8 variety of paddy, thus they could not mill the rice according to the specifications laid down by the government. He asked the government to change the specifications. He said over 300 wagons of rice was ready with the millers of Kharar but the government did not have enough space to store it.


25 arrested for various offences
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 12
The district police has arrested 25 persons for various offences. Of these, five were arrested along with 250 gm of opium and 31 kg of poppy husk.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said the police was not only keeping tabs on drug peddlers, but was motivating addicts to quit drugs. A large number of camps and exhibitions had been organised by the police at the village and township levels, he said.

The police also arrested Balloo Singh and Jaswant Singh and seized 250 gm of opium from them. Mohinder Singh was arrested from the city and 5 kg of poppy husk was seized from him. Gurmail Singh and Jaswant Singh were arrested by the police for possessing 20 kg and 6 kg of poppy husk, respectively.

The SSP said seven persons had been arrested under the Excise Act and 170 litres of illicit liquor seized from them.

The police also arrested 13 persons under the Prevention of Gambling Act and recovered Rs 6,145 from them, the SSP said.


Farmer kills wife’s paramour
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 12
Gurcharan Singh (27), a farmer of Burj Dhilwan village in the district, with the help of his aunt, Mukhtiar Kaur, allegedly killed Gurjant Singh, alias Mitha Singh (26), paramour of his wife Sukhjit Kaur (24) at Burj Dhilwan village, yesterday evening.

According to official information, Gurjant Singh had illicit relation with Sukhjit Kaur which was objected to by the accused Gurcharan Singh.

On that day Gurjant Singh armed with a pistol had gone to the house of Mukhtiar Kaur where he was allegedly beaten to death by the accused.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302, 342, 34 of the IPC against Gurcharan Singh and Mukhtiar Kaur and arrested them.


Petrol station looted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 12
Three armed robbers allegedly looted a petrol station and injured two of its employees near Goraya in this subdivision yesterday.

According to reports received here today, three armed robbers came to the local petrol station at about 11 p.m. and asked the employees to fill the petrol in their vehicle.

As soon as they woke up the robbers asked them to handover the keys of the lockers. When the workers resisted robbers fired at them.

Two employees, Ravinder Singh and Dharam Paul sustained bullet injuries. The robbers snatched the keys and decamped with thousands of rupees in cash after locking the employees in a room.

The police has registered a case under Sections 307, 382, 442, 436 and 341 of the IPC and the Arms Act. Miscreants managed to escape. Dharam Paul has been admitted to DMC, Ludhiana, and Ravinder Singh to Royal Hospital, Goraya.


A dream come true for village
Raj Sadosh

He had never thought even in his wildest dreams that he would be elected a Member of Parliament, but Mr Zora Singh Maan was keen to get a school established in or around his village, Suhelewala, 12 km away from here, on the Abohar-Ferozepore road.

As sarpanch of the village, it was not easy to raise a model school although he was concerned at the fact that only Ferozepore and Abohar in this district had good schools and colleges for women. The idea of setting up a senior secondary school at Suhelewala village was put before some friends, who not only approved it but pledged to work for it as well. A trust was formed under the chairmanship of Mr Gobinder Singh Chak Khuranj. Mr Parakjit Singh, MLA from Guruharsahai, was elected vice-president and 11 more trustees added. Mr Maan accepted the responsibility of working as manager.

A 13-acre plot was arranged for the school complex. The Chief Minister got the state’s Chief Architect to accompany him to the village at the school’s foundation stone-laying ceremony and prepare a blue print. The trustees, besides making contributions, arranged grants from the Chief Minister’s discretionary fund and the MP’s local area development fund.

The cost was put at Rs 2.80 crore but Mr Maan was confident of cutting it down considerably through “kar sewa”. He himself joined in the work whenever he was available.

A trustee, Mr Govinder Jindal, told this correspondent that furniture for the school had been arranged from Chandigarh. The education imparted was to be computer based so that children from the surrounding villages need not to go to the urban areas for such facilities. Two new buses were bought to fetch children from outlying villages.

So far 100 students had got admission up to class III and were provided a clean environment, an open-air theatre, marbled classrooms and sunmica desks. The school building on which Rs 70 lakh had been spent so far, would have 18 classrooms. There would even be well-equipped labs.

Mr Maan said he was hopeful of getting a model senior secondary school to provide quality education in his village without putting heavy burden on the pockets of the parents. Farmers had to pay high fees for the education of their wards in far off schools. He was equally concerned about those who could not afford education in private schools.

The state government had accepted his request and upgraded the government school in his village to the matric level. Mr Maan said his priority was to set up educational institutions in all nine assembly segments of the district because Ferozepore lagged behind not only in industrial development but in literacy as well.


PCCTU march to Vidhan Sabha on Aug 22
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 12
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided to organise a march to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha during the start of the monsoon session on August 22 to protest against the indifferent attitude of the state government towards its demands.

Mr Jaspal Singh Randhawa, general secretary of the PCCTU, in a press note released here yesterday, said though the state Assembly had passed unanimously the Bill pertaining to provision of pension and gratuity to non-government college teachers in 1999, the SAD-BJP coalition government had failed to cover those teachers under the pension and gratuity scheme so far.

He further alleged that Mr Badal should resign on moral grounds for his failure to honour the commitment he had made to the teachers during the last Assembly elections that his party would bring non-government teachers under the pension and gratuity scheme, if voted to power.

The union criticised the principal, Dev Samaj College for women at Ferozepore for allegedly misusing students funds and victimising the teachers. The union demanded her removal.


GACL to increase flyash consumption
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 12
The Gujrat Ambuja Cements Ltd (GACL) has signed an agreement with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to increase the utilisation of flyash from the Ropar thermal plant from 3.97 lakh tonnes to 8 lakh tonnes per year in the coming years. At present the GACL and the ACC cement were utilising about 60 per cent of the flyash generated by the Ropar thermal plant. However, with the expansion of the Ropar based plant the GACL would be able to utilise about 80 per cent of the flyash generated by the said thermal plant.

This information was provided by the DGM (Works) of the GACL, Mr Sunil Duggal while addressing a press conference here on Saturday evening.

The press conference was called to dispel the notions created by a locally formed Ambuja pirit committee, regarding the alleged environmental threat posed by the Ropar based plant of the GACL.

Mr Duggal told that since the establishment of the Ropar based plant of the GACL in 1995, the flyash consumption from the Ropar thermal plant has increased from 0.15 lakh tonnes to 3.97 tonnes. The GACL alone has consumed over 14 lakh tonnes of flyash in the last five years saving 90 acre fertile land.

He further told that the GACL has spent approximately Rs 21.5 crore on the pollution control measures which amounts to about 15 per cent of the capital cost of the project.

Mr Ajay Pathik, Manager Technical Services in GACL, who was also present said besides helping in flyash utilisation, ash containing cement has proved to better product than its other counterparts. The GACL presently has two plants in Punjab, including 6 lakh tonnes per annum grinding unit at Bathinda and 1.34 million tone plant at Ropar. Both these plants have been set up with the state-of-art-technology to produce finest cement at par with the international standards, he said.

Mr Duggal also claimed that the cement plant have for the economic upliftment of the areas in which they have situated. The Ropar plant employs around 475 people. In addition to it, a lot of indirect employment has also been generated with the establishment of the plant. Around 1200 trucks are engaged in transportation activity of the plant which provides employment to about 2400 families.


Petrol dealers justify protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
Petrol dealers all over the country will close their outlets to observe ‘no purchase, no sale’ of petrol and diesel from August 20 on a nationwide call to protest against the government’s “indifference” towards their demand for quality check and commission, Mr J.P. Khanna, chairman of the coordination committee of the Federation of All-India Petroleum Traders, said here today.

Addressing the media, he said the Ministry of Petroleum and Natural Gas had promised to solve these problems within four months on October 4 last year, but had failed to do so even after 10 months.

Mr Khanna alleged that all companies were supplying petroleum products to dealers without verifying quality.

The oil companies on the pretext of checking adulteration were adopting “coercive” methods and placing responsibility for specification of fuel being sent to the petrol stations, on their shoulders.

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