Tuesday, August 14, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC, SAD on collision course
Vimbly Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 13
There appears to be a dichotomy of opinion between the leadership of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) on the issue of voting rights of the Sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC elections. The issue assumes importance in view of the passing of a unanimous resolution on disinfranchising Sehajdharis by the SGPC at Gurdwara Manji Sahib in Alamgir, near here, for the third time yesterday, particularly at a time when the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was not inclined to rake it up.

This is also being viewed as an indication of the assertion of authority by SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi, who is not feeling comfortable with the Chief Minister, after the outburst of his predecessor Bibi Jagir Kaur against him and the silence of Mr Badal on the issue. After the Bibi had gone on record criticising his (Mr Talwandi’s) actions, he had left it to Mr Badal to take action against her.

This is despite the fact that Mr Talwandi is the chairman of the Disciplinary Action Committee of the SAD and could have taken action against the Bibi. But he wanted and expected Mr Badal to act.

Peeved at Mr Badal’s silence, he called an emergency meeting of the SGPC Executive committee and got a resolution passed seeking disenfranchisement of the Sehajdhari Sikhs for the SGPC poll. In fact, the SGPC is not the final authority. The Gurdwara Act of 1925 has to be amended and it can be amended on the recommendation of the SGPC Executive, provided that the amendment mooted is passed by two-third majority. In this case, the resolution (of disenfranchising the Sehajdharis) has been passed unanimously.

It is for the third time that the SGPC has recommended it to the Union Home Ministry, which is reportedly avoiding the matter at the instance of Mr Badal. Mr Badal has his own compulsions as Assembly elections are round the corner. He wants to delay the issue. His son and secretary-general of the SAD Sukhbir Badal has gone on record, opposing any move to disenfranchise the Sehajdhari Sikhs from the SGPC poll.

Obviously, Mr Talwandi has acted in defiance to assert his authority.

The SGPC is the supreme decision making body of the Sikhs and holds the final authority over issues related to religious matters. But in fact, it is usually the SAD, which was control of the SGPC, as the (SGPC) chief can never act without the blessings and goodwill of the SAD president.

Mr Talwandi seems to have tried to set a new precedent of trying to do things independently, rather in defiance of the SAD(B) president and Chief Minister.

Mr Badal’s reaction remains to be seen. The Tohra-Badal feud in 1999 led to the division in the SAD(B).


Panel to take up SGPC poll issue with ministry
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
The Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Election Commission, in response to a communication from the SGPC, has replied that it will take up the matter in respect of the ambiguity in the definition of the term “Sikh”, directly with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs. The definition can be changed only through an amendment in the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, for which the Ministry alone was competent.

The commission, meanwhile, today reviewed the progress of the SGPC poll-related work with the representatives of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh Union Territory.

The commission had received a copy of the resolution adopted yesterday by the SGPC Executive Committee at a meeting at Ludhiana, reiterating that the definition of “Sikh” be amended to eliminate the word Sehjdhari Sikh, debarring them from the right to vote in the SGPC elections. This resolution was first passed by the general house on November 30, last year and again in the budget session on March 31, this year.

Informed sources in the commission told TNS that the SGPC had been informed that as per a directive from the Home Ministry received in July last, work on revision and printing of electoral rolls etc. had been taken up as per the existing provisions in the Act, and as desired by the Ministry.

The Act, as per section 2 in clause 10 and 10-A, permits both Keshadhari Sikhs and Sehjdhari Sikhs to vote and become members of the SGPC. The right to vote to the Sehjdhari Sikhs, for the first time, was introduced in the Act in 1959 when the Gurdwaras in Pepsu were brought under the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

There were, according to commission sources, many complaints with regard to the habitual smokers and even some Muslims being included in the electoral list, by filing false declarations under the Act. In oder to deter such persons from filing false declarations, it was made an offence punishable with imprisonment and fine and similarly if a false declaration was given by a prospective candidate for the membership of the SGPC or even a local gurdwara committee that was also made offence punishable with a little heavier dose of punishment than the one provided for a false declaration by a prospective voter.

There has been a clear consensus on the point that the definition of Sikh should be the same as given in Delhi Gurdwara Act, 1971, and only a Sikh should have the right to vote.

In fact the former SGPC Secretary, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, had also written to the commission on similar lines on November 16, 1995.

As per clause 10-A of the Act, a “Sehajdhari” means a person who performs ceremonies according to Sikh rites; who does not use tobacco or “kutha” (halal meat) in any form; who is not a “patit”, and who can recite “mul mantar”. The word “patit” further means a person who, being a “Keshadhari Sikh”, trims or shaves his beard or keshas or who, after taking “amrit”, commits any one or more of the four “kurahits” — having sex with a person other than one’s spouse; eating “kutha” meat as per Muslim rites; trimming or shaving the beard or keshas, or using tobacco in any form.

The misuse of the term Sehjdhari has irked the SGPC. All that one had to do was fill up Form 1-A, declaring oneself a “Sehjdhari” by stating “I perform ceremonies according to Sikh rites, do not use tobacco or “kutha” (halal meat) in any form, do not use alcoholic drinks and I am not a ‘patit’ and can recite ‘mul mantar’. The SGPC has sought to re-define the definition because the declaration is also loosely worded.

The original definition of a Sikh, as per clause 9 of the Act reads, “Sikh means a person, who professes the Sikh religion, or in the case of a deceased person, who professed the Sikh religion or was known to be a Sikh during his lifetime”.

The amended definition, approved by the SGPC, reads, “Sikh means a person who professes the Sikh religion, believes and follows the teachings of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and the 10 Gurus only and keeps unshorn hair and does not use tobacco in any form”.

The commission had sent several important amendments desired to be made in the Act on August 1999 to the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The SGPC resolution has not only amended the definition of “Sikh” but has unanimously resolved that clauses 10-A and 11 of section 2, pertaining to the definition of “Sehjdhari Sikh” and “patit”, respectively, be “deleted” and the use of terms “Sehjdhari Sikh” and “patit” anywhere in the Act be also “deleted”. It has also added a new proviso to clause 10 of section 2 relating to the definition of “Amritdhari Sikh”. That proviso is the same as the one that defines “patit’. The four provisions are described as “bajjar kurahits”.

In the last SGPC elections, held in October 1996, there were 53 lakh voters, including “Seahjdhari”. If and when the Act is amended to change the definition of “Sikh” or delete the words “Sehjdhari and “patit” there will be fall in number of voters by at least 25 per cent, say commission sources.

The SGPC general house comprises of 170 elected members from 120 constituencies spread over Punjab (110), Haryana (8), Himachal Pradesh (1) and Chandigarh Union Territory (1). The number of coopted members is 15. There are six jathedars. Of the 120 constituencies, 50 are double member, 30 reserved for women and 20 for Scheduled Castes.

From the present scenario, it seems that the SGPC election will be held after the Vidhan Sabha poll. The term of the present SGPC expires on November 21. The Act provides that in case elections are not held in time, the present house would continue.


Human rights bodies oppose amnesty
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, August 13
Various Human Rights organisations of Punjab strongly opposed the demand for general amnesty to those decorated police officials who are facing charges of murder, fake encounters, causing disappearance, rape, illegal detention, molestation and abduction during militancy days.

They submitted a memorandum of their demands and resolution to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, here today

The representatives of the Human Rights organisations — Lawyers for Human Rights International, Guru Asra Trust, Sarab Hind Youth Akali Dal, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and All India Human Rights Watch — also submitted a list of 148 police officers who were allegedly involved in breaking the law of the land.

The officers of the Punjab police alleged to be involved in the criminal cases are a DGP, an IGP, two DIGs, nine SSPs, 18 SPs, 19 DSPs, an ASP, 11 Inspectors, 19 Sub-Inspectors, 31 Assistant Sub-Inspectors, seven Head Constables, 15 Constables, two SPOs and six SHOs.

The organisations demanded that all Punjab police personnel indicted, suspended, facing court cases or departmental inquiry in cases of human rights violations should be dismissed Under Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India. A Judicial Commission should be appointed to find out the number of persons tortured and killed in custody by the police or eliminated in fake encounters.

The organisations also demanded that all gallantry medals and out of turn promotions given to such police personel should be withdrawn and compensation should be given to the next of kin of victims of police excess in Punjab in the past.

They also urged the State Government to set up special courts for expeditious trial of these Punjab police personnel.

Reacting on the confession of Punjab police officials in fake encounters, the Human Rights organisations are of the view that the act of returning the medal or gallantry awards by the Punjab Police personnel in protest against their prosecution would be taken to be an act of guilt.

The organisations termed the decorated officials move as pressure tactics and said if these police personnel had done any brave and rightful work then were are they afraid of the law.


Cops put off move to return medals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
On an appeal by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, police officers have postponed their decision to return the President’s Gallantry Medals on August 15.

The Principal Secretary, Home, Mr Bikramjit Singh, told TNS that a deputation of officers had met him during the day and presented their case. Thereafter the Chief Minister was consulted, who sought a week’s time to ‘’legally’’ examine the issue and asked the officers to defer their decision of marching to the Rashtrapati Bhavan on August 15.

The state government, Mr Bikramjit Singh said, was collecting relevant data and would examine how far it can go to grant amnesty and pardon even to those who have been convicted besides the ones facing investigation by the CBI or trial in the courts of law. “We have invited them next Monday”, he added.

The President’s Police Gallantry Awardees' Association President, Mr S.K. Madan, said he had asked the President, the Prime Minister, the Home Minister and the Chief Minister of Punjab to examine the issue by December 31. If nothing concrete emerges by then, thereafter, the officers would have no option but to return their medals on January 26 next.


Acts do not give immunity to police
Kashmir cops may also face music the Punjab way
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
Despite the Agra summit, Acts (the Disturbed Area Act and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act), shifting political cross hair and actions by several agencies and security forces, bullets and blood continue to add a new chapter to the sordid story of Kashmiris each passing day.

Punjab has had its share of similar Acts and actions of politicians, bureaucrats, intelligence agencies, security forces and militants. The turnabout came only when a clear sense of direction and command replaced the ad hoc approach. Once that happened, peace finally settled-in. But another set of agencies stepped-in — judiciary, human rights activists and commissions. The civil and police bureaucracy took opposite stands leaving, perhaps unwittingly, umpiring to the politicians.

Kashmir seemingly is in a transit mode. Hopefully, peace will one day descend on the Valley when ad hoc approach is replaced by similar sense of clarity and direction.

While a major problem of bringing home peace and restoring law and order may have been solved, another problem persists in Punjab. It has political parties. There are people with power. There is no leader. Kashmir cannot afford such a vacuum.

Another disturbing aspect has emerged in Punjab. Notwithstanding the commitment or what the SAD-BJP’s Common Minimum Programme says on the police, maintenance of peace, law and order and communal harmony, the media reports on the decision of the President’s Police and Gallantry Awardees Association returning medals (gallantry and distinguished service) to Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi on August 15 or leaving them hanging at the Bhawan gates in the absence of a representative meeting them, is disturbing.

The very thought is disturbing, more so the act itself. The grievances, as Press reports suggest, include, “humiliation on account of suspensions, court cases and jail terms”. The only fault of the policemen, perhaps, was in obeying the orders of the superiors during that tumultuous decade. The Association seeks “amnesty” barring for those who indulged in excesses for personal “gains or revenge”.

Enquiries on medal issue by TNS evoked the predicted response: “It is much ado about nothing. There are only about 15 of them making noise”. It is not the question of numbers. What matters is whether there is merit in the Associations’ grievances. Nearly 400 Police personnel — Deputy Inspector-General rank to a constable or a special police officer — are facing either the CBI or courts. The main charge against them is on “missing” persons who were last seen in their custody. The Punjab co-ordination committee on disappearances has put the number of “missing” at 2,097.

The number of cases being pursued by the CBI is 40, involving nearly 80 cops, all ranks. The number of cases in trial courts is 50, involving 300 personnel. The total policemen involved is 400-plus out of whom 294 are facing prosecution in the courts. So far, 14 have been convicted. The break-up is— superintendent of police, 1, deputy superintendents of police, 3, inspectors, 1, sub-inspectors, 3, assistant sub-inspectors, 1 and constables, 5.

It is also reported that some of the police officers, including those belonging to the BSF and the CRPF, who were on duty in Punjab, where too the Disturbed Area Act, 1983, and the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was in operation, are still facing the music. Some of them are under suspension for the past six to eight years. There seemingly is no end to their travails and tribulations for having acted during the tumultuous decade. And that too on orders from their superiors. “They came, they fought and they are stuck here to face trials”, remarked a range D.I-G. The Kashmir cops will face the same situation when peace is restored. This is the apprehension of Punjab officers seeking “immunity and amnesty”.

Just as the killings rage on in Kashmir, Punjab officials are seething with rage. The officers involved and facing trial and trauma and also those not involved in CBI or court tangles but who empathise and sympathise with them ask a simple question: despite the Acts, why is there no immunity for the police? Enjoying special or extra powers under the Acts to search, seize and pull the trigger or take action at a given point of time is one thing. Feeling naked without immunity or hope for amnesty later, when peace returns, is quite another thing. Hence the demand for “amnesty”.

The officers are quick to draw parallels and comparisons in defence of their arguments. Look at Purillia arms-dropping case? Have the foreigners responsible not been given the Presidential amnesty and sent home? How about Jagjit Singh Chauhan and Wassan Singh Zaffarwal? Even those involved in killing of RSS workers roam free. Therefore, smitten by the ordeal of CBI investigations and court cases, the Punjab Police officers wonder what will be in store for those now engaged in life-and-death combat operations in Kashmir and empowered by the two Acts when peace returns.

Some Police officers wondered when even in respect of certain Supreme Court judgements the bureaucrats know how to circumvent unpalatable orders by framing new rules and issuing fresh notifications to their advantage, why similar treatment was not given in respect of the police personnel?

Another sore point is that the CBI has secured an order from the Chandigarh High Court that mandatory sanction to prosecute an officer is not required. This is quite contrary to Section 6 of the Punjab Disturbed Area Act, 1983. Punjab has now filed an SLP in the Supreme Court that has stayed all proceedings and issued notices to the parties concerned.

Another reference quoted is about an observation by the Supreme Court in Tiljila killing case that the police officials had entered into a “criminal conspiracy” to kill admitting the person killed was a terrorist.

Those facing trials spend from their pocket. They are left to defend and fend for themselves. The state has no role. The police has been left with no alternative but to create a Litigation wing headed by an Inspector-General of Police keeping track of cases in different courts and extending only limited secretarial assistance.

Sources admitted that the prevailing situation has not adversely affected the morale yet. A reversal of trend in investigations and their trials could, perhaps, infuse a new confidence and discipline in the police. But the police has also to be urgently de-politicised. Apparently, there is a lack of clarity on such issues. The vision is clouded and signals emanating from the powers that be are confusing.

At the same time, several hundred cops are facing departmental enquiries for various acts of omission and commission. A large number of complaints against them have been forwarded to the department by the Human Rights Commissions. 


Fertiliser scam: govt issues new instructions
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
The government has issued strict instructions to Agriculture Department officials to verify consumption of phosphatic and potassium fertilisers consumed in their districts within a month or face disciplinary action.

A verification done by the Agriculture Department in 1993-94 had resulted in the registration of cases against department officials when serious discrepancies were noticed in the verification process. The staff members had relied on the records of fertiliser dealers to conduct the verification, which had revealed that even scooter and moped were used to carry fertiliser stocks to the dealers. The amount of fertilisers shown to be consumed was also more than that produced by the factories in the region.

This time also the staff of the Agriculture Department are getting the jitters after being directed by the Financial Commissioner, Development and Secretary, Agriculture, Mr C.L. Bains, to conduct the verification in their districts. The communication, while asking them to conduct the task immediately, admits that the verification has not been done for years together. Surprisingly, some of the officers who will conduct the verification process are among those who have cases registered against them for the irregular verification done in 1993-94.

Agriculture technocrats, while talking to the TNS, said the same rules which had resulted in faulty verification earlier were also applicable now. They said it was not possible to verify the sale of fertilisers from the farmers as they themselves were sometimes not sure about the exact nature of fertiliser used by them. The officers said due to this they would again be forced to take the record in the possession of the dealers, which could contain discrepancies as there was no mechanism with the dealers to check the identity of the consumers.

Sources said the reason behind the government move to get the verification completed was that there was a subsidy quotient in both fertilisers. They said according to the rules framed by the Union Government, while 80 per cent of the payments were made to the manufacturers or importers at the time of delivery, 20 per cent of the subsidy amount was paid after verification by the department. They said various manufacturers and importers were pressing the government to get this process completed quickly so that they could avail of the subsidy money.

The Agriculture Department officials, however, want that the verification process should be done at the source. They said in case of imported fertilisers the verification could be done at the shipyard and in case of indigenous fertiliser it could be done at the godown. They said such a process was already being followed in case of other products. 


50,000 compensation for rape victim
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 13
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Punjab Government to pay a compensation of Rs 50,000 to a victim whose leg was chopped off by two persons after they were convicted for raping her.

A full bench of the PSHRC comprising the Chairman, Mr Justice V.K Khanna, Mr Justice J.S. Sekhon, Mr M.S Chahal and Mr T.S. Cheema, said in its order: “Regarding the pain, agony and mental torture suffered by the complainant due to the grave injury of chopping off her leg by the accused, it is considered desirable to recommend to the state government to pay Rs 50, 000 by way of immediate interim relief “.

The Bench also issued directions to the state government to pay the compensation and the medical expenses of Rs 33, 020 to the victim and submit the compliance report before August 22.

The complainant had alleged that the accused, Kulmit Singh and Gurmit Singh, brothers of Jhuge Nihanga village under Sadar police station, Ferozepore, after trespassing into the house of the victim, raped her on August 17, 1996.

The accused sentenced 10 years rigorous imprisonment by the Sessions Judge, Ferozepore, Mr Nirmal Singh, for the crime.

Later, the accused escaped from the court and went to the house of the victim and chopped off her leg with a sharp-edged weapon and fled. The victim prayed for the reimbursement of all medical expenses already incurred by her and asked for another Rs 50, 000 approximate expenses on her medical treatment as well as for the fitting of an artificial limb.

The victim had also claimed Rs 5 lakh for the loss of her leg as she had been left incapable of earning her livelihood.

According to the complaint the victim has a 17-year-old son and she is dependent on him. She has no agricultural land or any other property apart from a two marla mud house in her village.

The Bench also stated in the order that the commission could not grant the compensation of Rs 5 lakh due to her permanent disability of the left leg. However she will be at liberty to claim adequate compensation under the general law of the land.


BSP will form govt in Punjab: Kanshi
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 13
Though Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram continues to project Mr Ravi Inder Singh, leader of the Panthic Morcha, as the next Chief Minister of Punjab, he is in no mood to oblige the newly floated morcha of the radical Akalis either by joining it or by having any poll pact with it.

Talking to newsmen here last evening, Mr Kanshi Ram said though the mann - Tohra Panthic Morcha was better than the ruling Badal - led combine, yet he would not have any alliance with either of the two. He admitted that Akali leaders of both the morchas had approached him but he had decided to go about it alone in the Assembly elections. He also admitted that the former speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, had joined the morcha with his consent and consultation.

Rather than supporting or siding with any political morcha, I would build up a front of various castes which are divided at present. My mission is to unite 6,000 castes and bring them on one manch (platform) for capturing power”, quipped Mr Kanshi Ram. “I have experimented enough by having pacts with political parties, but my experiments have not succeeded”, he continued. “So, the BSP will contest all 117 seats in Punjab and win 60 out of them for forming the next government”, he declared.

He scoffed at the very suggestion that the Lok Jan Shakti of Mr Ram Bilas Paswan had made any inroads into Dalit constituencies in Punjab. “Both Mr Paswan and his party are non - entities so far as Dalits are concerned”, he said. “The Union Communications Minister has no base among Dalits at all”, he added.

Mr Kanshi Ram said the silence being maintained by the Punjab CM, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the Haryana CM, Mr Om Prakash Chautala over the issue of sharing of river waters was only a prepollstunt. The politics of gimmicks showed their non - seriousness about the issues, he said.

The BSP chief also took to task those Congressmen who proclaimed themselves to be Dalit leaders, but acted as stooges of Manuvadis”. Naming some of them, Mr Kanshi Ram alleged that these pseudo-Dalit leaders of the Congress party were hypocrites.


Statewide stir against corruption
Our Correspondent

Moga, August 13
Members of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Punjab Unit) and Congress committee and other opposition parties today decided to launch a statewide stir against the alleged corrupt policies of the government and officials of various departments.

Members of these parties said here today that as the government had failed to curb the activities of the officials almost all over the state, they had been forced to take this step.


Rail station to get facelift
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

The Chakki Bank railway station will be expanded and developed into a modern railway station under the model railway station scheme mooted by the Railway Board.

The railway station will have all modern facilities including a computerised enquiry counter, electronic time-table for trains, reservation charts, cloak-room, refreshment hall and resting points.

Talking to this correspondent the Divisional Railway Manager, Mr J.S. Marwaha, said a facelift for Pathankot railway station would also be taken up. With the availability of funds the railway authorities will expedite developmental work at the Chakki Bank railway station.

The Pathankot railway station is 4 km from Chakki and it takes about 15 minutes’ time for long-distance mail and express trains to go there for the shunting of engines.

The Pathankot railway platforms have the capacity for superfast trains having 21 coaches only whereas there is an urgent need for a large platform which would provide space for trains with 24 coaches. This facility is likely to be provided at Chakki Bank railway platforms.

The conversion of Chakki Bank railway station into a model railway station will ensure better facilities to passengers and save time and energy, Mr Marwaha added.


Havildar Lakhwinder Singh cremated
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 13
The body of Havildar Lakhwinder Singh of 16 Rashtriya Rifles who laid down his life on Satuday at Surajkot in Rajouri sector of Jammu and Kashmir, while fighting terrorists was consigned to flames with full military honours at his native village Bhule Chak, about 4 km from here today. The pyre was lit by Manpreet Singh (8), the eldest son of Lakhwinder Singh.

Gurbachan Singh father of Lakhwinder said his son joined 16 Rashtriya Rifles about 18 months ago and was posted in Jammu and Kashmir. Lakhwinder Singh had to postpone the visit to his native village as the leave of the armed forces posted in Jammu and Kashmir was cancelled due to the sudden spurt in terrorist activities in the area.

His cremation was largely attended by the residents of Bhule Chak and its surrounding areas. The Station Commander, Brig J.B. Garewal of 86 Infantry Brigade along with his officers, including Col Rajinder Singh, CO, and Col Mukherjee attended the cremation on behalf of the Army and the SDM and Mr J.S. Cheema, DSP.


Sarpanch demands transfer of SHO
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 13
The Sarpanch of Nangal Kalan village in the district has demanded immediate transfer of Mr Hardevinder Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), sadar police station, Mansa.

In her complaint faxed to the Chief Minister, Punjab, today she stated that rain water had accumulated in the houses of villagers and certain antisocial elements of the village were causing hindrance in dewatering operations. She alleged that Amarjeet Singh of the same village, stated to be a close relative of the SHO, had constructed a wall, which was blocking the flow of water to the village pond.

She further stated that the SHO had been issued instructions by the District Development and Panchyat Officer (DDPO) in this regard but he had instead been helping his relative. She wrote that the stagnant water might not only cause damage to the houses but also had become a cause of outbreak of epidemic in the village.

It is pertinent to mention here that in July, when water had accumulated during heavy rain, Ms Raji P Shrivastava , Deputy Commissioner had deputed the DDPO, Mansa to ensure dewatering of rain water from the residential areas of the village. Due to highhandedness on the part of the SHO, dewatering could not be carried out.


Cremated first, identified later
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 13
The body of Seema Rani who had been reported missing since August 5 was found near Sirsa on August 7. The body had been cremated there after declaring it unidentified.

The parents learnt about the girl on Sunday from a close relative who had been told about the cremation by a Sirsa resident. They collected her ashes from the ground last evening. Inquiries made by this correspondent revealed that the body had been recovered from a water course of the rural waterworks nearly 3 km from Sirsa on the Grand Trunk (GT) road.

Sources at Civil Hospital, Sirsa said that the body looked decomposed and the cause of death was determined as drowning. Other sources said the body was seen floating in a water tank.

Seema Rani belonged to Jalalabad west town located on the Abohar-Ferozepore road. She was married to Harish Setia of Anand Ashram street here and had two children. Her father runs a cloth shop at Jalalabad West. Shops remained closed till 2 p.m. there today to express sympathies with the parents and anguish over the mysterious death of the girl.

The city police confirmed late evening that a case under Section 306, IPC, has been registered against six persons, including the husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and brother-in-law of the victim on the basis of a complaint filed by the parents who suspected foul play behind Seema’s death. Earlier reports had said that Seema had been missing from her in-laws’ house after Sunday (August 5) afternoon.

Local newspapers had carried her photograph with information about the episode the next morning. The in-laws had stated that they had been reportedly receiving mischievous telephone calls from unidentified persons. On their request, the telecommunication authorities had put the phone under observation and provided the ID-call facility. The telephone number of a local factory was reportedly recorded, but the investigation by the local police indicated that there was nothing serious in that. The chowkidar was quoted as saying that some outsider might have played the mischief as the telephone instrument was not locked. However different aspects were still under study.

In the meanwhile, information about the recovery of the body of a girl and cremation afterwards was received. Sources said the body had two gold bangles and a stud on the nose, on earring was found whereas Seema had generally been using gold earrings. Mystery shrouds the circumstances which led to the death of the girl. Her in-laws’ residence was found locked, nobody was there when a police party conducted the raid late this evening.


Panel remembers Kiranjit
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 13
The fourth death anniversary of Kiranjit Kaur, a college student who was kidnapped, gangraped and later killed four years ago, was organised at the Grain Market complex at Mahal Kalan village about 20 km from here, yesterday by the Kiranjit Kidnapping, Rape and Murder Action Committee.

Thousands of men and women of the region remembered Kiranjit at her fourth death anniversary. She was returning home from her college when she was abducted by a group of youths of Mahal Kalan village. She was allegedly gangraped and killed by the alleged accused. Her body buried in the fields of the alleged accused was recovered after many days.

According to reports the arguments in the case were concluded a couple of days back and the judgement is likely to be announced on August 16.


2 cops suspended for misbehaving with scribe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 13
Sub-Inspector Davinder Singh Sandhu, SHO, Ram Bagh, was transferred to Police Lines while two Constables Balvinder Singh and Lakhwinder Singh were suspended by the SSP on the charges of misbehaving with a senior journalist here yesterday. A delegation of the Working Journalist Association here met the SSP, Mr P.P.S. Sidhu, and complained to him about the alleged misbehaviour of the two constables and the SHO with a senior scribe who along with his colleagues was returning after attending a press conference at the Golden Temple complex earlier in the day.

The association members giving details of the incident said Balvinder Singh and Lakhwinder Singh banged their scooter in to the motor cycle of the journalist and later started abusing him.

The cops challenged him to report their case with any senior officer. The journalist reported the matter to the Ram Bagh SHO.


Burning of holy book: bandh observed
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 13
A complete bandh was observed in the town by the residents and traders in protest against the burning of a religious book by a woman who had been running a “dera” in the town, in the recent past.

The woman who has been identified as Navdeep Kaur, has been arrested by the police after she was booked under Sections 295-A, and 298 of IPC. The bandh call was given by many religious and social organisations. A meeting of the representatives of various organisations was held today.

The representatives demanded that a CBI probe should be conducted to know persons behind the crime. The agitators were demanding that the police authorities should also tell the people that how many religious books had been burnt by the accused.

Mr Kultar Singh SSP, when contacted, said three religious books and remains of burnt religious book had been recovered from the accused. All these had been given to various religious places.

Agitators in a memorandum submitted to police authorities also demanded that “dera” being run by the accused should be handed over to them.


Police picks up sabha chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 13
On a complaint filed by Ms Bubbly Brar, daughter of Punjab’s former Chief Minister H.S. Brar, CIA staff of the Patiala police today picked up Mr Naresh Mittal, president of Aggarwal Sabha, Panchkula, in a land deal case.

Mr Manoj Yadav, SP, Panchkula, when contacted, confirmed the fact. He added that the police was looking into the matter.


CM’s promise on Shahpur Kandi project
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 13
Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal yesterday said the state government had made arrangements of Rs 250 crore for executing the Shahpur Kandi project in four years.

Mr Badal, while addressing a gathering at a sangat darshan in the city, said Rs 1,000 crore for the same would be taken from the Central Government. He added that the Punjab Government had decided to complete the project on its own.

He claimed that there would be no problem of funds. The project was being exacuted to meet the rising demand of power in the state.


Gumtala allowed use of Mayor’s vehicles
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 13
Bowing to pressure from Deputy Mayor Lakha Singh Gumtala, the Municipal Commissioner, Mr B.R. Banga, today permitted that he be given transport facilities after the former threatened to stage a dharna in front of the kotwali here today.

The Mayor’s seat has become a bone of contention. After Mayor Brij Mohan of the Bharatiya Janata Party left for medical treatment abroad, the Deputy Mayor belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal staked claim as officiating Mayor.

Emboldened by the decision to grant him official use of the Mayor’s vehicles, Mr Gumtala, talking to The Tribune, said he would call for a meeting of the Municipal Corporation next week. Besides presiding over the meeting he would sanction development works in his own ward on a priority basis as well as in other wards.

He said he had written to the Punjab Government on August 7 for a CBI probe into the role of BJP councillors — Mr Rajesh Khandhari, Mr Naresh Sharma and Mr Surinder Sharma — who had opposed his right to officiate as Mayor.

He said in case the CBI failed to take cognisance, he would write to the authorities again.

He complained it had been ensured that his office telephone was rendered out of order to thwart his functioning as officiating Mayor.

However, it is learnt that councillors have been told not to consider the Mayor on leave as the latter has not officially taken leave from office.

However, BJP councillors are sore over the Commissioner’s, decision on use of Mayor’s vehicles as Mr Kapoor is expected back in a few days.



Govt keen on abolishing octroi: Tandon
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 13
Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Self Government, has declared that the Punjab Government is keen on abolishing the octroi in Punjab provided the business community comes forward and declare the alternate source of income for local self government in Punjab in lieu of octroi.

Mr Tandon was talking to mediapersons at the local rest house this evening, who was here to participate in a function organised at Nawanshehr-Badaa village.

He said the committee formed by the Punjab Government to look into all aspects concerning octroi in the state was expected to submit its report within few days and after that the matter was to be discussed and placed before the Punjab Cabinet for final discussion.

He said the only hinderance in abolishing the octroi was how to compensate the loss incurred due to it by the municipal committees in the state. He said at present the income in the state from the octroi alone was about 500 crore and many committees even earned up to 70 per cent of their total income from octroi. He said the business community felt harassed due to the levying of octroi and there was loss of fuel and time due to it, but it was also important for the municipal committees to provide basic necessities to the citizens.

Mr Tandon said the Punjab Government was sympathetic towards abolition of octroi. He appealed to the business community to come forward and disclose the alternate source of income on an open platform.


Closedown of 2 medical stores ordered
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 13
On the directions of Mr Anurag Agarwal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare and Managing Director, Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC), Dr S.S. Sharma, the local Civil Surgeon has issued orders to “managers” of two Red Cross medical stores, functioning in the civil hospital here, to close down stores.

Dr Sharma has threatened to take legal action in case the stores are not closed immediately. The two medical stores — one in the OPD section and other in emergency section were earlier in a ‘pacca’ rooms which were demolished when the construction of the new hospital building began. At present both the medical stores have been working in makeshift temporary structure, which are not as per specifications provided in the Drugs and Cosmetics Act 1940.

Mr Harbans Singh, District Drug Inspector, many times issued directions for the closure of both the stores but these continue to function apparently with the patronage of the district unit of Indian Red Cross Society, which is earning huge profits from these stores. In fact, the Red Cross Society has leased out both the stores for fixed amount of Rs 34,500 (22,500 and 12000) per month. In account books of society, the lease amount received by it is being accounted for as profits from the stores and false entries regarding payment of salaries to the lessees of these stores is being made showing them, the managers of these stores, while actually no salaries are being paid to them. In fact, both stores are being run by the lessees, Mr Naresh Kumar and Mr Prem Kumar.


1 killed, 2 hurt in collision between buses
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 13
One person was killed and two were injured today when a Punjab Roadways collided with another bus parked on the road at the Goindwal bypass here.

According to information Ram Murti of Pathankot died on the spot. The injured have been identified as Kulwant Singh (47) of Pathankot and Paramjit Sharma of Kot Khalsa, Amritsar. They were admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The police has registered a case in this regard.

Meanwhile, the city police found decomposed body of an unidentified woman aged about 35. According to another report, the Sarhali police found the body of an old person who was crushed under a vehicle yesterday.

The police has lodged complaints under Section 174, Cr PC. The bodies were sent for post-mortem examination at the local Civil Hospital.


Villagers rebuild govt school buildings
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Gohavar (Jalandhar), August 13
It is not with the help of any government department or NGO, that two government school buildings have been transformed here. It has been possible only with the efforts of villagers.

Anybody stepping in the narrow lanes of this village can easily spot beautiful school buildings from a distance. The schools boast of a well-built and well-equipped building, which is an exception in case of government schools in Punjab.

These buildings have not been funded by the state government or the Education Department but is solely a venture of the villagers who could not see their wards getting education in an unsafe, dilapidated building with broken wooden planks in the name of furniture.

After resolving to rebuild the school buildings, the villagers joined hands and put their resources together. The result was sturdy buildings with dozen classrooms and proper playgrounds.

The village had two primary schools for boys and girls and one of them was upgraded to the senior secondary level in 1991 by the government. However, the buildings were still in a poor condition. Nothing came of repeated requests for grants.

They then decided to bring about the change in the buildings with their own money. “Within no time, work started and we saw to it that the building was completed. Everybody contributed towards this cause,” Mr Sodhi Ram, a former sarpanch, said, adding that Rs 30 lakh was spent on the project.

Except for a grant of Rs 1.75 lakh, we got nothing from the government, he said.

After the completion of the construction, the strength of students touched the 300 mark, which is remarkable for a rural school. “We are proud of our schools now. People come from nearby villages to see the buildings and go with a resolve to undertake similar projects in their respective villages,” Mr Mohan Singh, another resident, said. 


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.


MA (Sanskrit) course in English medium!
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, August 13
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor (VC), Punjabi University, Patiala, who was here yesterday in connection with the inauguration of the College of Education in an interview with this correspondent said admission to the Master of Computer Applications (MCA) course were going on unabated and alleged that the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) was overstepping its powers.

He said the AICTE Act did not include universities under “technical institutes” head.

The university authorities were fighting the case legally.

The Vice-Chancellor said if the universities did not come forward in computer education “teaching shops” would cash in on the demand for computer and information technology courses. “If the AICTE is right why does it not take action against the university,” he said.

He said the university was offering Master of Arts (Sanskrit) degree in Punjabi medium to promote the ancient language and develop the interest of students, the course was being offered in Punjabi. The university has decided that the course will be offered in English, too and any other foreign language to facilitate translation and propagation of the language,” the Vice-Chancellor said.

He said the university had decided to start six courses, including one on environment education, with the help of the Ministry of Environment, private industry and the state government.

The standards of education in the university had been improved and the Department of Astrophysics had been revived, he said.

Commenting on the irregularities in the university, he said the police had been informed about the missing answer sheets. Three answer sheets were missing from over two lakh. Answering a question on out of syllabus” question papers the Vice-Chancellor said there were several channels from where the question papers were passed and the university authorities, in order to curb the leakage of papers had stopped checking the papers, resulting in this problem. He admitted that in the fourth paper of BMIT (second semester), questions worth 40 marks were missing from a paper of 100 marks. The Registrar, Mr B.S. Bhatia, said the students were given grace marks for the lapse.

Some of the students of the Law Department of the university alleged that the LL.B course of the university regional centre was not approved by the Bar Council of India but the Vice-Chancellor denied it.


NIFD students display talent
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 13
The exhibition organised by students of the local National Institute of Fashion Designing (NIFD) here attracted a large number of people during the past two days.

‘Impressive’ was the word used by most of the visitors to describe the work of 35 students on display. The variety of garments included beautiful suits and saris, capris, trousers, parallel suits, short dresses, skirts, night dresses, gowns, evening dresses, denims, leather wear and collection for kids.

Ms Shefali Jaidka, teacher and administrator of the institute, said that the exhibition was divided into sections. The first section titled ‘Rang Rachna’ displayed the range of traditional dresses, suits, lahangas, saris and men’s wear. The second section ‘Oasis’ was on western dresses comprising skirts, trousers, capris, shorts, evening gowns, tops and kurtas with embroidery along with night dresses and bathing gowns.

The other sections had items of tie and dye, batik, screen painting, block printing, leaf painting and macarame. In macarame, roaps are tied in different styles of knots and used too make beautiful curtains, and decoration pieces with beads and bells.

‘Fabmart’ displayed graphics, sketches and drawings made by students as a part of their training.

The dresses of ‘Khaddar casement’ having a three-D effect attract the people.

Suits and saris in bright colours having ornate embroidery, ‘tilla’ work, ‘dabka’ work and decoration of crystals, artificial diamonds and beads were appreciated by women.

For those who were looking for office — wear, there was block printed, tie & dye cotton suits with dupatta in cotton, excellent for summer.

Saris ranging from creppes, silk, net, chiffon embellished with embroidery, leaf painting, block printing, hand painting and glass work the left the visitors spell bound.

The kids’ section had kits comprising bedding, quilt, pillows, napkins, caps, bottles, frocks, jump suits, sun suits and towels painted with images of cartoons.


Teachers criticise Dean Academics
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 13
The Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) accused the Dean Academic Affairs, Mr Kuldeep Singh Dhir, of being inefficient, and partial, here today. It sought that his term should not be extended.

The association at an emergency meeting of its executive body, alleged that the office of the Dean Academics had become a place for “anti-teacher activities” and the Dean favoured a particular group of teachers.

The association president, Dr B.S. Khaira, and the PUTA general secretary, Dr Balwinder Singh, said the Dean had completed two years in office and he should not be given an extension. They also said the Dean was much junior to many professors who were prospective candidates for the post. The Dean’s term is to expire on August 15.

The executive body also took a serious view of the “violation of the rights” of Jai Teg Singh, son of the PUTA president, Dr B.S. Khaira, who had been denied admission to the MCA course, despite fulfilling all requirements. He had to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the admission.

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