Thursday, August 16, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No announcement on octroi abolition
Chief Minister unfurls the national flag at Ferozepore
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, August 15
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal apparently launched a campaign for the next Assembly elections as he projected the achievements of the SAD-BJP government in the past four and-a-half years while addressing a gathering at the state-level function organised in connection with 54th Independence Day at the local Shaheed Bhagat Singh Stadium after unfurling the national flag, today.

Mr Badal did not announce any sop for the people including the abolition of octroi as expected by the BJP leadership, Mr Badal stressed that during the past four and-a-half years, the state had been given a oil refinery, an international airport, the Ranjit Sagar Dam, the Shahpur Kandi project, and the Lehra Mohabat thermal plant.

School children getting ready for the show, presented at Amritsar on August 15 to mark the Independence Day.

School children presents gidha at Amritsar on Independence Day.

School children getting ready for the show , presented at Amritsar on August 15 to mark the Independence Day. — Photo Rajiv Sharma

School children presents gidha at Amritsar on Independence Day. — Photo Rajiv Sharma

He said for the first time, a grant of Rs 3000 per acre had been given to those whose land fell across the fencing along the Indo-Pakistan border, shagun of Rs 5100 at the marriage of Dalit girl and pension to all deserving cases.

He said ever since Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee became the Prime Minister, Punjab was getting justice the state had started getting more than its due share.

Mr Badal while appreciating the efforts of Mr Vajpayee in holding talks with Gen Pervez Musharraf, to bring peace in this sub-continent, said the opening of trade routes through the Indo-Pakistan border was necessary for the prosperity of border areas.

He claimed that the “Sangat Darshan” being held by the Punjab Government was a successful exercise as it had been solving the problem of people at the spot and bringing them close to the government. He said 95 per cent people were in favour of holding the “Sangat Darshan”.

FAZILKA: Unfurling the national flag at the official function in the government school here on Wednesday Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani, a local MLA and Forest Minister, Punjab, recalled the sacrifices made by freedom fighters and martyrs. He distributed 22 tricycles, 6 wheel chairs to physically challenged persons, 10 sewing machines to poor and needy women. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Minister for Food and Supplies, hoisted the Tricolour at the Independence Day function held at Nehru stadium here. He distributed 20 sewing machines and tricycles to the needy.

GURDASPUR: Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Body Minister, unfurled the national flag on the Independence Day. After inspecting the parade he took salute from the contingents of police, the Home Guards, NCC cadets and girl guides.

HOSHIARPUR: Dr Upinderjit Kaur, Minister for Urban and Housing Development, unfurled the national flag and took march past salute from the BSF and police jawans, Home Guards, NCC cadets, Scouts and Guides.

Colourful cultural programmes were presented by the schoolchildren. Eight tricycles and eight sewing machines were given to the physically challenged and poor widows by the District Red Cross Society. Cheques worth Rs 35 lakh were also given to parents of 30 Kargil martyrs.

National flags were also unfurled by Mr Balbir Singh Maini, State Minister for Higher Medical Education at Dasuya, Mr Tikshan Sud, Minister for Excise and Taxation at Mukerian and Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, State Minister for Food and Supply at Garhshankar.

MOGA: Independence Day was celebrated here at various places. The official function held on the Guru Nanak College premises. Education Minister Tota Singh unfurled the national flag.

He exhorted the people to maintain the hard-won freedom. Similar functions were also celebrated at Baghapurana, Nihal Singhwala, Dharamkot and Badhanikalan towns.

NAWANSHAHR: Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Minister, Punjab unfurled the national flag and took salute from the march past by contingents of the Punjab Police, the Home Guards, NCC cadets, at the district level Independence Day function organised here at the ITI grounds.

The minister also handed over a cheque for Rs 5 lakh and allotment papers of a plot to the mother of the Kargil martyr Baljinder Singh of Gulpur village in on the occasion.

PATHANKOT: Mr Mohan Lal, Minister for Higher Education, unfurled the Tricolour at an impressive Independent Day function, at the SD School Grounds here.

Lauding the achievements of the SAD-BJP government he said the government got the Rs 8500 crore central loan waived and completed several development projects, including Ranjit Sagar Dam, oil refinery plant in Bathinda.

ROPAR: Transport Minister Raghbir Singh unfurled the national flag at Nehru Stadium here. The minister distributed cheques worth Rs 29 lakh to 16 families of Kargil martyrs. He also gave away 11 sewing machines to needy widows and 15 tricycles to physically challenged on behalf of the District Red Cross.

Independence Day was also celebrated at the local Municipal Council Office where Municipal Council president Inder Sain Chattwal unfurled the national flag.

SANGRUR: The 55th Independence Day was celebrated with great enthusiasm at a function at War Heroes Stadium here. Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister of Medical Education and Research, unfurled the national flag and released pigeons.

The minister honoured members of families of Kargil martyrs. He also distributed sewing machines and tricycles to the needy persons.

Schoolchildren presented a PT show and cultural programme.

KAPURTHALA: Mr Swaram Singh Phillaur, Social Welfare Minister, unfurled the national flag at Guru Nanak Stadium to mark the celebrations of Independence Day.

He gave a grant of Rs 2 lakh to parents of Deputy commandent Mr Mohinder Parkash who was killed in the Kargil war. He also gave away prizes to 14 students and government employees for rendering good services in various fields. He distributed 14 sewing machines among the needy women.


‘No guarantee of BJP ticket to sitting MLAs’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 15
There is a change of mind in the BJP over the renomination of sitting party MLAs and Ministers in the coming Assembly elections in Punjab.

In an exclusive interview with The Tribune, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the Punjab BJP said “ there is no guarantee that all sitting MLAs and Ministers will be given the party ticket to contest the Assembly elections”.

The party had reservations on the renomination of certain candidates as they had been found wanting in their performance as the party’s representatives in the Assembly and outside. Only those who performed to the satisfaction of the party would by renominated, he added.

“Let fresh blood be inducted in place of those who did not do what was expected from them “, Mr Rinwa said.

Earlier, the party had announced that it would renominate all sitting MLAs and Ministers except one or two . But from the current mood of Mr Rinwa, it appears that the party may go in for the induction of several new faces in the elections. The party is expecting to get a share of 30 seats from its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal. Last time it contested 23 seats.

Mr Rinwa said in fact a serious debate was going in the party not to allow more than two successive terms to any party leader as MLA or MP. After two terms, the MLAs and MPs concerned should be told to work for the party in the field. If they remained active, they could again considered for renomination as party candidates in the elections.

The issue may come up at the next meeting of the executive of the party to be held in Amritsar later this year. If the party approves this proposal, it will be a revolutionary step in the country’s politics.

Political observers say that a beginning can be made by taking such a step to end the monopoly of a limited number of politicians over the country’s politics.

Mr Rinwa said that he had stuck to the principle of two terms while electing the district presidents of the party in the state. All those who had completed two terms, each of two years, had been replaced as presidents.

Meanwhile, the BJP high command has come out with a novel idea to assess the performance of its party units in the states. Teams of senior party leaders have been told to visit each state to assess the performance of the units.

For instance, Mr Sahib Singh Verma, a former Chief Minister of Delhi, will visit Punjab for three days. He will come on August 24 to Sangrur district where he will hold separate meetings with nearly 200 party activists and 20 members of the “core” of the party in eight districts.

He is to interact with all 24 district units of the party. He will be followed by Mr Ram Kirpal, a former MP, who had given a tentative programme to visit Punjab from August 29 to 31. Mr Yogesh Parkash Nadda, a senior leader from Himachal Pradesh, will be the next to visit the state.

The BJP high command has selected assessment teams in such a manner that no state party unit will be in a position to influence them. All visiting members of the teams concerned will submit their assessment reports separately to the party high command.

The members of the visiting teams will get feedback regarding grievances of party workers at the grassroots level, the response of the party machinery, including MLAs and Ministers, to such grievances and the public image and behaviour of party representatives, including councillors, mayors, MLAs and Ministers. On the basis of these reports, the party high command will not get only proper feedback but will also be able to take corrective measures where necessary.


Fewer takers for SAD rally
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Issru (Ludhiana) August 15
It was a day of charges and counter-charges here today with the ruling SAD, the Congress and the recently constituted Panthic Morcha blaming each other for various omissions and commissions. While it was an impressive show for the Congress, it was very good for the Panthic Morcha. Compared to them the presence at the official rally addressed by the Chief Minister, was far less.

For the Congress it was the best beginning the party could make for the elections. It was after a long time that Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar shared the dais. They harped on the tunes of unity while identifying the common enemy in Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his “corrupt government”. Besides, the AICC general secretary, Ms Ambika Soni, the party treasurer Mr Moti Lal Vora and secretary Mirza Irshad Beg, the Chairman of the All-India Youth Congress Urban Development Cell, Mr Pawan Dewan, DCC presidents for rural and urban Surinder Dawer and Gurdev Singh Lapran, respectively, also appeared jubilant.

Talking to reporters, Capt Amarinder said he did not expect Mr Badal to go for early elections as he (Badal) was feeling quite insecure. About the Panthic Morcha he said, it was just a pressure group and would ultimately merge with the SAD. “Even then they will not be able to defeat the Congress”, he said.

The show was equally good for the Panthic Morcha. The rally ground was full of people. Convener of the morcha Sarbjot Singh Bedi also announced an 11-member management committee. The members include Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Capt Harcharan Singh Rhode, Mr Dhian Singh Mand, Mr Charan Singh Lohara, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar and Mr Swaran Singh Panjgrehi.

Mr Mann said today’s rallies had established that the contest would be between the morcha and the Congress while Mr Badal’s party had been relegated to the third spot.

Mr Mann, Mr Tohra and Baba Bedi were unanimous over the issue of Sehajdhari Sikhs, saying that they supported the resolution passed by the SGPC.

Blaming the Congress for all the sins, the Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, ridiculed the morcha, claiming that it had no direction and had joined together “just to harm the SAD interests”. He denied that he had compromised the position of the state on the water-sharing issue and alleged it was the Congress which had surrendered the water rights to other states.

The SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, clarified that he had no differences with the Chief Minister. He blamed the media for trying to create imaginary differences between him and Mr Badal. Mr Talwandi, who was not feeling well, left immediately after addressing the rally.

The Bahujan Samaj Party, the Lok Bhalai Party, the left parties and the Bhartiya Kisan Union also organised political conferences. The BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram also arrived at the rally although he was quite late. The rush at the BKU rally was also good.

Amid political din, people enjoyed kabaddi and wrestling which were organised in the local stadium.


Gurdwara panel can’t bypass SGPC decision: Talwandi
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 15
The Shiromani Gurdwara Par-bhandhak Committee (SGPC) will challenge the Gurdwara Election Commission on the issue for granting the right to vote to Sehajdharis.

Stating this, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC, said here today that he had asked officials of the SGPC to consult lawyers and challenge the decision of the Gurdwara Election Commission to go ahead with printing of voters’ forms for both of Amritdhari Sikhs and Sehajdharis.

Mr Talwandi said the Gurdwara Election Commission had no right to bypass the SGPC decision taken at the general house unanimously twice.

The SGPC chief maintained under the Nehru-Tara Singh pact, it was obligatory on the part of the Home Ministry to go by the decision of the SGPC and make necessary amendments in the Gurdwara Act, 1925. Under the Nehru-Tara Singh Pact, the Home Ministry was bound to accept the recommendations of the SGPC passed by a 2-3rd majority of the general house. He asserted that in this case, the resolutions were passed unanimously by the general house on November 30 and then again on March 31.

Mr Talwandi said the SGPC was the “religious parliament” of the Sikhs and it was the duty of the SGPC to protect the rights of the Sikhs. Mr Talwandi also called upon Union Home Minister L.K. Advani to stop the Gurdwara Election Commission from going ahead with the printing of the voters’ forms.

The SGPC chief is enlisting the support of Sikh organisations, including the Panthic Morcha, on the issue.

Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener, Panthic Morcha and Mr Simranjit Mann, president, Akali Dal (Amritsar), have extended support to Mr Talwandi and appealed to him to take legal action.


Bachan ready to face probe
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 15
Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, has said he will immediately quit his post if found guilty by any high-powered independent inquiry committee.

However, Dr Bachan said he did not want to ‘run away’ with a ‘tarnished image’. He alleged that certain persons had attributed the ‘show of strength’ by Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC chief, at Amritsar recently to him, while it was a fact that he (Dr Bachan) was with Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi the whole day at Patiala on that day.

On allegations of corruption, Dr Bachan said after taking over as SGPC Secretary he had stopped purchasing milk and ghee from private parties. Insteed, the SGPC started purchasing bulk supply of milk products from the government-run Verka. He had tried to streamline the functioning of the SGPC.

Dr Bachan said he did not have any vested interest in the Jalandhar firm which had been asked to supply cloth for ‘siropa”. He said persons who wanted ‘sub-standard’ cloth for ‘siropa’ from local firms at higher rates had raised objections over the placing of order with an outside firm. To a question, he said he was not aware that the firm which was given the order was not dealing in cloth.

Dr Bachan, however, admitted that only two of the five members of the purchase sub-committee had put their signatures on the quotations. Mr Kewal Singh Badal, Senior Vice-President, Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath and the late Major Singh Bhandal had not signed on the same.

Dr Bachan admitted that the cloth purchased by the SGPC from the Jalandhar-based firm was found ‘sub-standard’ and returned immediately and a local firm asked to supply the cloth on the basis of the recommendations of the sub-committee at higher rates. He said in his capacity as Secretary he had imposed a cut on payment while some members of the sub-committee had recommended that the deduction be reduced.

Meanwhile, heads may role in the case pertaining to the purchase of 16 buses by the educational committee of the SGPC. Pages of the file found missing have not been traced so far. Insiders say as per the bylaws, the resolution for purchase of buses should have been passed by the executive committee.

When contacted, Mr Harjit Singh, a former personal assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, denied his hand in the missing pages. He said if at all he was guilty, the SGPC could take action against him.

When his attention was drawn to the orders that Rs 10 lakh be given as advance to firm for supply of bodies of buses, he said he could not recall anything as the orders were placed a year ago.


Show of strength by Mohindra
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
Former minister and senior Congress leader Brahm Mohindra today used the Independence Day function presided over by him here to launch a veiled attack on Punjab Pradesh Congress President Capt Amarinder Singh, besides turning, it into a show of strength with an eye on the coming Assembly elections in the State.

Mr Brahm Mohindra, who has thrice represented Patiala in the Assembly is at odds with Capt Amarinder Singh. A show of strength was organised in his favour today in the city to highlight this claim, specially when there is a view in the Pradesh Congress that the PPCC chief himself will contest the forthcoming elections from this seat.

The former minister arrived at the venue of the function at Jauhrian Bhattian, which is one of the most densely crowded areas of the inner city, and represents the Hindu vote in the form of a procession which started from Anardana chowk. Hundreds of youngsters accompanied him in a procession, raising slogans in his favour. He was garlanded on the way.

The Congress leader did not mince words while addressing the gathering on the occasion which was organised by the Hari Gupta Memorial Club, named after a former leader of the area. In a clear attack the PPCC chief, he appealed to the people not to be taken in by persons in the habit of changing their parties and affiliations.

Apparently in a dig at Capt Amarinder Singh who was elected unopposed to the Assembly in 1992 but had refused to take part in its proceedings, he said people should not elect those who had never raised their voice in the Assembly.

On the performance of the Akali-BJP government in the state, he said it had failed on all fronts. Talking of the failures of the present government, he said there were around 15,000 vacant posts of teacher which were yet to be filled. The situation on the health front was critical with no funds available for maintaining the infrastructure of the government medical colleges.


Badal planning sops to get votes: Cong
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
The Punjab Congress yesterday charged the Akali-BJP alliance with planning to announce a series of concessions to the trading class as well as weaker sections on Independence Day in a “panic reaction” in view of the coming Assembly elections in the state.

Charging the Akali-BJP government with ignoring the interests of traders and weaker sections, including Scheduled Castes, Pradesh Congress president Amarinder Singh in a press conference here, said the concessions were being announced with an eye to the poll, as the state government had failed to protect the interests of these classes during its four-and-a-half-year term.

Capt Amarinder Singh said concessions to both sections were also being announced after the Congress made it clear that it would abolish octroi besides providing power free of cost to the weaker sections. He said both the demands were likely to be met by the state government but added that the Congress was happy that the genuine demands of the people were being conceded.

He said the government should disclose how it would compensate the municipalities for loss of octroi and the state electricity board for free power given to the weaker sections. Alleging that the government had no programme in this regard, he said the debt of the state, which was at Rs 8,200 crore when the Akali-BJP government took over, now stood at Rs 28,000 crore. Besides, state government public sector undertakings had borrowed Rs 30,000 crore.

The PPCC chief said due to these factors, the government was now borrowing money to give salaries to its employees. The salaries constituted 70 per cent of the roughly Rs 11,200 crore revenue earned by the state, adding it was also incurring a non-planned expenditure of Rs 13,000 crore.

Capt Amarinder Singh also accused Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal of selling out of the Centre on the issue of inter-state waters. He said while the Akalis had till now steadfastly refused to recognise the Eradi Commission which adjudicated on inter-state water dispute among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, it was not raising any protest against a Bill which envisaged providing more water to Haryana. He said it was surprising that no Akali MP had protested against the proposed Bill nor had the Chief Minister said a word against it.

The Congress leader also demanded a CBI probe into issue of gun licenses issued in bulk in the border areas of the state. He said according to his information around 30,000 gun licenses had been issued in the border areas and such a move could affect the national security of the country. He also alleged that honest officers had been transferred out of important assignments and people of questionable integrity appointed to top jobs with the hope that they would help the government in the coming Assembly elections.

He also expressed sympathy with the police officials involved in various human rights violation cases. He said these people must be exonerated as they had served the force during trying times. He said it was strange that the Chief Minister was not doing anything in the matter even though he had asked for a general amnesty for all Sikh youths who had left the country during the period of militancy and was allowing the entry of people like Wassan Singh Zaffarwal into the state.


Purbias’ join Panth
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 15
At least 1,000 migrant workers from UP and Bihar led by Mr Inderjit Sonkar, joint secretary, Block Congress Committee (Urban), today left the Congress and joined the “Panth” by adopting the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal as their party amid slogans of “Bole so nihal” and “Waheguru ji ka Khalsa”. The market manned by “purbias” opposite the local JCT Mill along side GT Road donned a unique look as they fixed atop their kiosks, rehris and shops Akali flags.

Punjab Cabinet Ministers Raghbir Singh and Chaudhary Swarna Ram were present to welcome the “purbias” into the Panth. Veteran Congress leaders Kulbhushan Sharma, Harjit Singh Makkar, Vipan Nanda, Ram Chander and Rameshwar Gupta also joined the Akali Dal along with their supporters.


VIPs missing as pilgrims are cremated
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 15
Eight residents of the city, who were on a pilgrimage to Manikaran Sahib in Himachal Pradesh and had lost their lives when their vehicle got involved in a landslide near Bilaspur were cremated at different cremation grounds here this afternoon amid absence of senior administration officials or political leaders who remained busy in the Independence Day celebrations.

Little did Raj Kumar, a resident of Bhargo Camp, and other relatives of the deceased, most of whom were from Tilak Nagar locality,realise before sending their near and dear ones to pilgrimage of religious places that a tragedy of this magnitude would befall and shatter their lives on the eve of Independence Day. Raj Kumar’s 22-year-old daughter Rekha, who was engaged and was scheduled to be married near Dasehra was among eight residents of the city who lost their lives in the mishap. “I could not believe it till I saw her dead body when it was brought to the city late last night. How could I, when we had sent a cheerful Rekha on pilgrimage along with others,” said a moist eyed Raj Kumar, while cremating his daughter at the Bhargo Camp cremation grounds. “We were preparing for her marriage and thought that she should go on the pilgrimage before marriage as it could be a good outing for her, but we did not know she would never return,” said another relative.

The shock was more intense for Jai Singh of Tilak Nagar, as except for his one daughter, he lost his entire family including his wife Pushpa (38), daughters Monica (11), Priya (5) and son Nitish(9), which left him and his another daughter injured. Jai Singh is still under treatment at PGI Chandigarh. His close relatives, who performed the cremation at the Tilak Nagar cremation grounds said Jai Singh, an employee of the local Municipal Corporation, was elated while preparing for the religious tour and had joined a group of 40 persons who had hired a Tata 407 and set on their journey on the night of August 13.

Girdhari Lal, another victim and a resident of Bhargo Camp, was also cremated at the Bhargo Camp cremation grounds,

The cremation was attended by none of the senior officials or leader of any political party except the local BSP councillor Pawan Tinu, which surprised hundreds of residents who had converged their to pay their tribute to the deceased. Same was the scene at the Tilak Nagar Cremation grounds.

Earlier, most of the shopkeepers in almost all the markets put down their shutters as soon as they got wind of the incident early in the morning.


PUDA directed to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 15
The District Consumer Forum, here, has directed the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to pay compensation to a complaint for providing poor service.

In a complaint before the forum, Mr Jaswant Singh Khokhar of Bathinda had alleged that PUDA had allotted him a plot in Sector 69, SAS Nagar, measuring 500 sq yards at the rate of Rs 1400 per sq yard on August 28, 1995. The price of the plot included all basic amenities such as roads, sewerage, water supply, drainage and electricity. However, PUDA failed to give the possession of the plot for four years 11 months. When the plot was given to the complainant it was at an alternative site as the PUDA authorities told him that the plot allotted earlier, was not feasible for development.

The complainant alleged in his complaint that as per the provisions of the Punjab Regional Town Planning and Development rules he had to complete the construction of his house within three years. He, however, could not undertake the construction despite depositing the instalments of the plot in time due to the delay in getting possession. He also demanded back the interest paid to PUDA along with the instalments and compensation of Rs 50,000 for the harassment he had to undergo.

The council for PUDA in his defence admitted the fact that there was a delay on the part of the organisation in giving the possession of the plot. He, however, asserted that since the complainant had not raised any objection while taking the possession of the alternative plot so his complaint was not maintainable. He maintained that the forum lacked pecuniary jurisdiction in the case because the price of the plot was Rs 7 lakh.

After hearing the arguments of both parties, the forum comprising president J.P. Gupta and member, S.K. Bhatia maintained that PUDA had no right to charge interest on the instalments till the possession of the plot was given to the complainant. In this case the complainant had paid an interest of Rs 1,83,750 in six equal instalments to PUDA without being given the possession of the plot.

PUDA was directed to pay back the entire interest amount to the complainant along with the rate of interest of 18 per cent from the date of deposit. The forum, however, rejected the plea of compensation by the complainant. It maintained that the interest awarded to the complainant on the amount being refunded to him should be deemed as compensation. The forum also directed PUDA to pay Rs 2,000 as quantified costs to the complainant in the case.


Non-installation of machine: CM takes serious view
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 15
Even as the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has taken a serious exception to the non-installation of blood separation component unit in local Guru Nanak Hospital following publication of report in these columns, Dr H.S. Gill, Medical Superindent, said efforts were being made to bring the rest of the components from the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) and state AIDS organisation.

Dr Gill said the NACO had supplied only five components while six parts were yet to be supplied. He, however, said the remodelling of the blood bank in the Hospital, being run by Government Medical College, was being done on ‘top priority’ basis. He said funds would not come in the way of installation of the unit.


Garg presides over celebrations
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 15
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology presided over the 54th Independence Day celebrations here today.

On the occasion the schoolchildren presented cultural programme and PT show. The Punjab police, Home Guards, NCC, Home Nursing division and Guides participated in the parade. Tabulex of various departments were also displayed in the function. The district Red Cross Society distributed 65 sewing machines and 20 tricycles among the needy.

Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, President, Municipal Council, Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr Gulzar Singh, district president of the BJP were among other present on the occasion. A function in connection with Independence Day was organised in the school of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant. It was attended by schoolchildren, parents and employees of the GNDTP.

Meanwhile, Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister unfurled the National Flag at Government College staduim, Muktsar.

Mr Kahlon distributed tricycles and sewing machines among physically challenged and women. Among those who were present on the occasion were Mr Harnirpal Singh Kukku, MLA, Mr Kawanjeet Singh Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar and Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, Muktsar.


Cross-border meetings held
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 15
About 800 Indians from Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Himachal Pradesh reached the Sadiqqi border checkpost, about 15 km from the Indo-Pakistan border in the Fazilka sector for a cross-border meeting yesterday with their relatives living in Pakistan. A large number of people from both countries had been coming annually on Independence Days of India and Pakistan for the meeting.

These people used to see their relatives from a distance and wave their hands. As tension between India and Pakistan mounted following the Kargil conflict, the Ministry of Home Affairs disallowed the meeting four years ago to check the activities of the anti-national elements.

But this year again BSF authorities allowed the traditional cross-border meeting though the turn out of the people on Indian side was comparatively low. Piare Lal, a resident of Diwan Khera village of Abohar subdivision, Palli Ram of Jalalabad, waived with joy to their acquaintance of Mandi Hiran Wali of Pakistan, Sher Singh another resident of Mauzdin village of Jalalabad subdivision met his relative Bashir Ahmed of Pakpattan tehsil of Pakistan Dullo Khan, Daddu Khan, Mozzi Hazi and Husaina, all residents of Gharsana (Rajasthan) had come to meet their parents and relatives living in Bahawal Nagar of Pakistan.

Hectic celebrations were visible on the Pakistan side yesterday. Loudspeakers played Punjabi folk songs which are liked in Punjab province of both countries. The Indian side was colourfully decorated today.


17 kids hurt as bus overturns
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
Seventeen children of an orphanage for children of former militants, families were injured when the bus in which they were travelling turned turtle near Kallar Bhaini village near here on the Patiala-Dakala road.

The children, residing in the Mata Gujri Trust, established on the outskirts of the city, were travelling to the Karahali Sahab gurdwara when the incident occurred. According to sources, the bus could not negotiate the slush on the road and slipped into a depression, following which it overturned.

The injured children were brought to the Government Rajindra Hospital for medical treatment. Sources said the driver of the bus, Shingara Singh, and a caretaker, Paramjit Kaur, were also injured in the accident.

Some children suffered fractures. Among those injured are Ranjit Singh, who has suffered an arm fracture, Harjit Kaur, Karamjit Singh, Manjinder Singh, Palwinder Kaur and Palwinder Singh. Doctors attending to the children said none of the children were seriously injured and that some of them who had suffered bruises and other minor injuries would be discharged soon.

Sources disclosed that a case of negligent driving had been registered against the bus driver. They said 30 children were travelling in the bus when the accident occurred.


Vigilance Dept to look into ‘coal crisis’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 15
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to conduct an inquiry into the alleged coal supply crisis at Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant, Ropar, by the Vigilance Department.

Sources said the alleged crisis had resulted in rumours that the power production had reduced due to the “coal crisis”.

The sources said the PSEB had decided that power production be streamlined and new power plants set up in association with Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal. The new units at Lehra-Mohabbat would also be set up shortly. Loans in this connection had been approved.

The sources said in order to make the billing of household consumers easy, the PSEB had revised the flat rate system. Now for the first 300 units of power consumed, the consumers would be charged at Rs 2.90 per unit. It had been also decided that the connections to the consumers would be released in less than a month.

The distribution losses were to be reduced and all recruitment had been stopped to lessen the expenditure. The voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) would be announced for the employees soon.

About 3.4 lakh tubewell connections were pending in the state and would be sanctioned on a priority basis keeping in view the coming paddy season.


Bypass to ease traffic congestion
Lalit Mohan

Traffic congestion in Morinda may become a thing of the past with the construction of a bypass, work on which is expected to start soon. The district administration has completed almost 80 per cent of the land acquisition process. According to the SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, 383 kanals and 8 marlas of land has been acquired in Marauli village, 82 kanals and 7 marlas in Rampur, 54 kanals and 3 marlas in Marauli Khud, 107 kanals and 13 marlas in Ramgarh, 266 bighas and 3 biswas in Morinda town and 35 kanals in Kangla village.

The four-lane bypass will skirt the Morinda town and will be supplemented by a flyover at the railway crossing. The flyover will solve the traffic problem posed by the railway crossing. Approximately 24 trains cross this point every day and keeps the traffic blocked for a total period of about six hours in a day.

* * *

The condition of the Morinda-Chamkaur Sahib road had worsened due to the rains. Huge potholes in the road pose a grave threat to vehicles, particularly at night. It is hard for the motorists to negotiate the potholes in the absence of any lights on the road.

* * *

The Morinda Police arrested one Sujjan Singh of Ropar for trying to smuggle poppy husk into the area. The SHO of Morinda, Mr Pritam Singh, said that this person was carrying about 25 kg of poppy husk in a bag when policemen at a naka became suspicious and challenged him. He tried to flee, leaving behind the bag. But was, however, caught. In a similar case, Babu Lal, a migrant from Bihar, was caught carrying 9000ml of illicit liquor.


MC union to gherao Assembly on Aug 23
Our Correspondent

Sunam, August 15
The Class III and IV Employees Organisations of the municipal councils of Punjab will gherao the Punjab Assembly on August 23 on the first day of the assembly session if the state government failed to chalk out the policy of their absorption in other departments before the announcement of abolition of octroi in the state.

Stating this here today, Mr Upkar Singh Josh, president of the Punjab State Municipal Workers Union, further said their deputation met Mr J.B. Goyal, Director, Local Bodies, Punjab, yesterday. They submitted a memorandum to the Director demanding that octroi not be abolished in the state before their absorption in other departments.

Mr Josh said the Director assured them that the excess staff of the municipal council would be absorbed in other departments, in case the state government decided to abolish the octroi in the near future.


Dal Khalsa seeks cases against Gill, Sharma
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 15
The Dal Khalsa has condemned the manner in which some police officers had asked for clemency for their alleged unlawful deeds. The officers, assembled under the banner of the “Zinda Shaheed Police Officers Welfare Association,” had pleaded that they were used as “hit men” by their superiors in killing Sikh youths who took to militancy.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Satbir Singh Sandhu, a spokeperson for the Dal Khalsa, said with the “startling revelation” by the policemen facing court trials, the authorities were exposed.

The Dal Khalsa said, since these police officials had clearly stated the names of Mr K.P.S. Gill and Mr O.P. Sharma for allegedly ordering them to kill Sikh youths, the Punjab and Haryana High Court should direct the Punjab Government to register FIR against the former DGPs, taking a suo moto notice of the reported revelations.

The press note said by passing buck to their superiors, these officers couldn’t be allowed to go scot free and they should be tried in a court of law for their offences.


BKU(E) workers observe fast
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 15
The leaders of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), who had been lodged in the district jail, observed a fast and marked their protest by wearing black badges.

Sources said the BKU(E) activists and leaders, more than 100 in number, who were sent to jail after the alleged lathi charge by the police at Maiserkhana village, had planned to raise slogans at the function organised on the occasion of Independence Day, but were prevented from doing so.

The Jail Superintendent could not be contacted despite repeated attempts. Mr R. Venkatratnam, District Magistrate, when contacted said he did not receive any such information and added that the jail authorities had informed him that a special meal had been arranged for the BKU(E) activists today.


2 held for posing as inquiry officers
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 15
Paramjit Singh, a Head Constable of Commando Company Bahadurgarh, and Bhura Singh, a SPO have been arrested by the Dhanaula police for posing themselves as inquiry officers and cheating people.

Giving detail information about these fake inquiry officers, Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleka, SSP, Barnala, said today that Paramjit Singh and Bhura Singh were nabbed when they came to Harigarh village in the Dhanaula police station area to probe the death of Birpal Kaur who had died sometime ago. Pretending to be the enquiry officers they demanded Rs 12,000.

A case under Sections 420, 171 and 34 of the IPC has been registered against the accused. The SSP added that Paramjit was on leave whereas Bhura Singh had been absenting himself from the duty for a long time.


Schoolboy found murdered
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 15
Two persons, including a police constable, died at the Civil Hospital while a student was allegedly murdered by two persons in the past 24 hours here.

According to the local police today, Matu Ram, a constable, who was on duty at the local Police Lines, today complained of pain in his abdomen. He was immediately taken to the local Civil Hospital where he reportedly died of a heart attack. In another case, Charanjit Singh of Kila Bathuha village near Dhuri also died at the hospital here yesterday. He had come to the house of his in-laws at the local Haripura Basti yesterday from where he reportedly went to a local market and allegedly consumed some poison. He was taken to the hospital in a serious condition, where he died.

The police also stated that the body of Ravi Kant (17), a student of a local school, who hailed from Dhuri, had been found in a canal near the local Police Lines last evening. He had been murdered allegedly by two persons who had reportedly brought him from Dhuri on a motor cycle the previous day. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered.


SHO booked, suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
District police chief Paramjit Singh Grewal today suspended Nabha Kotwali Station House Officer Gurmail Singh for implicating an innocent person in a narcotics case after taking a bribe.

A case has been registered against the SHO and two others under the Corruption Act, besides the Narcotics Act, in the case. The SSP has directed Superintendent of Police (Detective) Pritpal Singh Virk to conduct a detailed inquiry into the case.

Earlier, action was taken against the SHO following an inquiry conducted by Nabha Deputy Superintendent of Police H.P. Singh. According to police sources, Chuhr Singh, a resident of Kheri Nagian near Ghagga, was booked under the NDPS Act for possessing 150 grams of opium by the SHO on July 16.

They disclosed that following this, the wife of the accused, Surjit Kaur, represented to the DSP, Nabha, that her husband had been falsely implicated. They said upon inquiry it was revealed that a brother-in-law of the accused had been murdered some time back. Police officials disclosed that the victim's wife Paramjit Kaur later married Kanwalvir Singh, alias Bubble. They said as Chuhr Singh’s mother-in-law Amar Kaur was staying with the former, the other two persons, Paramjit Kaur and Kanwalvir, conspired to ensure Chuhr Singh did not get the ten and a half bighas owned by the old woman.

The police disclosed that the duo contacted another person, Major Singh, who knew the SHO, and bribed him with Rs 1 lakh to implicate Chuhr Singh in a narcotics case. They said following this, the SHO registered a case against Chuhr Singh.

Meanwhile, SSP, Paramjit Singh Grewal disclosed that one kg of opium had been recovered in a drive against narcotics launched in the district. He said Sultan Singh had been arrested while entering the district from Haryana with one kg of opium in his bag. He said a case under the Narcotics Act had been registered against Sultan Singh, a resident of Cheeka in Kaithal district of Haryana.

A case has also been registered against Kuldeep Singh, who has been charged with adulterating petrol with chemical solvent.


SI declared PO
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 15
A special court has declared a Punjab police sub-inspector, Gurdev Singh, as proclaimed offender as the non-bailable warrants issued against him earlier could not be served.

The Special Judicial Magistrate, CBI, Jaspinder Singh Heyer, declared Gurdev Singh proclaimed offender in the case involving disappearance of Bagicha Singh, a former dismissed constable of the Punjab Armed Police in December 1992. The Judge fixed the next hearing in the case for September 22.

The case was handed over to the CBI earlier when the mother of Bagicha Singh filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Ms Paramjit Kaur, the mother of Bagicha Singh, alleged that her son had been kidnapped by the accused on December, 11, 1992, and that his whereabouts were not known since then. A case had been registered under Sections 363, 364, 65 and 120 (B) of the IPC.

Earlier, non-bailable warrants had also been issued against the sub-inspector. His salary had also been attached since November, 1999. He is presently absenting from duty and his anticipatory bail application filed in June had been rejected by a local court.


VC inaugurates Internet facility
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 15
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, inaugurated a 24-hour centralised Internet facility at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Bhavan of the university here today.

A spokesman of the university said this centralised Internet facility had been made available at the department of computer science and engineering of the university and it would work for 24 hours with 30 terminals connected to it.

This would go a long way in fulfiling the demands of the students and teachers of the university for Internet access and act as a catalyst for boosting the research and academic activities on the university campus.

The spokesman added that the facility was available free of cost to all employees of the university while the students and research fellows could enjoy the facility at a nominal cost of Rs 10 per hour. Prior booking was to be done for the access and for night hours access booking would be done till 7 p.m. on the day, the spokesman added.

The university has also decided to open laboratories for computer practical till 7 p.m. and 20 terminals would be available to students of the computer science and engineering department on booking basis for completing their assignments every day in addition to their practical hours, the spokesman said.

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