Saturday, August 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Is SGPC a missionary body?
T.R. Ramachandran
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 17
Is the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Amritsar, a missionary organisation? That is how the Union Government categorises the SGPC. In simple terms it means that the employees of the SGPC cannot secure a passport for travel abroad as a right without the explicit clearance of the Union Home Ministry.

The problem of those being part of the SGPC which is the overarching body overseeing the affairs of the Khalsa Panth is that they continue to be viewed on a different footing and suspicion in matters connected with acquiring a passport.

This issue has assumed delicate undertones with Mr Daljit Singh Bedi, publicity officer of the SGPC, and Mr Harmel Singh, private secretary to SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi wanting to travel to the United Kingdom. The passport office at Jalandhar has forwarded the application forms of Mr Bedi and Mr Harmel Singh to Delhi for obtaining the necessary Home Ministry clearance before issuing the travel documents.

There is consternation in SGPC circles that the Union Government should be pursuing a policy evolved for reasons of security in the 1980s when Punjab was in the throes of militant violence.

SGPC sources said here categorically there was no case for following such a line of action when militancy had long been crushed and there was peace and calm as well as a democratically elected government in Punjab. They were agitated that SGPC employees faced avoidable difficulties in obtaining passports as necessary sanction had to be obtained from the Union Home Ministry.

Sources in the Union External Affairs Ministry acknowledged that in keeping with directives they were in the process of obtaining the necessary clearance from the Union Home Ministry. They pointed out that there was no problem in this regard and the matter was being speeded up.

The issue of the SGPC being categorised as a missionary body by the Centre has also been taken up strongly by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities.

In a formal communication to Union Home Minister L.K. Advani dated August 16, Mr Tarlochan Singh said under instructions from his ministry employees of the SGPC were not being issued passports in a normal way from the passport office in Jalandhar. As and when anyone applies, his case is forwarded to the Delhi office for clearance, he explained.

Mr Tarlochan Singh stated he spoke to the Joint Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs who informed him that the SGPC was being treated as a “missionary body and special clearance is required for them.”

He said the SGPC is the only religious body elected under an Act and has hundreds of employees working in its secretariat and other offices. “All of them cannot be treated as missionaries. Secondly, there should be no ban on any of the employees such as ragi, pracharak or a priest because they are in great demand by lakhs of Sikhs who are settled abroad.”

Mr Tarlochan Singh impressed on Mr Advani to issue fresh instructions withdrawing these directives which he felt might have been issued in the 1980s because of the special situation prevailing at that time. “These instructions are an infringement on the rights of those employees to have a passport in a normal way,” he added in his letter.


Panthic parties head for showdown with Centre
Holding of SGPC poll
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The SGPC and panthic organisations appear to be heading for a showdown with the Union Government on the issue of holding elections to the SGPC as per the existing provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

Representations of the SGPC and various Pathic parties, who met Justice Harbans Singh, Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, there made it clear that the proposed electoral process should be withheld till the definition of “Sikh voter” was determined by making the necessary amendment to the Act by Parliament. A resolution was also passed by various Panthic parties urging the Centre to first make the amendment and hold the election afterwards as per the amended law.

However, the commission authorities made it clear to all concerned that they would go ahead with the electoral process as directed by the Union Government. By mid-September, the updating of the voter lists would be started on the basis of the existing provisions of the Act.

A copy of the resolution signed by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, former secretary of the SGPC and representative of the Panthic Morcha, Dr Gurbachan Singh, secretary of the SGPC, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary of the SGPC, Mr Kartar Singh Takkar, president of the Haryana State Akali Dal, Mr J.S. Dhaliwal, In charge of the office of Panthic Morcha, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann of the World Sikh Council, Prof Jagmohan Singh Toni and Mr Jaswinder Singh Khalsa, both Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) was presented to Justice Harbans Singh with a request that it should be forwarded to the Union Government for the necessary action.

Interestingly, no general secretary or other office-bearer of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal attended the meeting called by the commission. A letter was written by the commission to Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar informing him about the meeting. The absence of office-bearers of the SAD at the meeting made it almost clear that Mr Badal wanted to keep away from the amendment controversy which has the potential of becoming an issue in the state.

The SGPC also wanted that all clauses pertaining to “Sehajdhari Sikh” in the existing Act should be deleted.

When asked why no office-bearer of the SAD was present at the meeting, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said she was a member of the Executive of the SAD.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said that the Punjab Government had no role to play in the proposed amendments. The matter should not have been referred to the state government by the Centre, she added. The SGPC was an independent body and the Union Government should have gone ahead to effect amendments to the Act on the basis of the resolution passed by the SGPC. She said the state government was not competent to decide on the definition of the word “Sikh”.

The Union Government had referred the draft of the proposed amendments to the Punjab Government for its opinion. The government kept silent on this issue for a long time

When asked whether the SGPC would seek the help of Mr Badal for securing the necessary amendments to the Act, she said he would not be approached in his capacity as Chief Minister but as President of the SAD. It was the prerogative of the SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, to decide whether Mr Badal’s help should be sought in this connection.


SMO, 6 docs being charge-sheeted
Found absent from duty
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 17
The Senior Medical Officer (SMO) and six medical officers at Khemkaran, who were allegedly found absent from duty during a surprise raid on various dispensaries falling in the border belt, are being charge-sheeted by the state government.

According to sources in the state Health Department at Chandigarh, the Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare has already received a draft letter sent by Dr Ajaib Singh Sandhu, Civil Surgeon. On the basis of the draft, a show-cause notice was being sought from the SMO and six other doctors under the Punjab Civil Services Rules (Punishment and Appeals), 1970. When contacted by Tribune News Service, Dr Sandhu admitted that he had sent the draft to the state headquarters.

The medical officers were allegedly found absent on June 11 by the District Immunisation Officer. The Civil Surgeon wrote a strongly-worded letter for initiating action against the medical officers, especially those posted in the border belt. In his letter, he alleged that he had received several complaints regarding the doctors being absent.

However, the SMO, Dr Harjap Singh Mahal, claimed that most of the doctors who were shown “absent” were actually present. He said during the surprise checking of primary health centre, Rajoke, Dr Gurbinder Singh, Dr Mohinder Singh and Dr Parminder Singh reached the dispensary only half an hour late. He said the doctors reach the dispensary from Amritsar every day and hence could get late as there was no direct bus service to Rajoke. When asked as to how all three doctors reached together, Dr Mahal claimed that on that day they had gone to the dispensary in car.

Dr Vishal Verma, Medical Officer of the subsidiary health centre (SHC) at Chakwala was also found absent from duty. In his report, the Civil Surgeon said a casual leave was placed in the SHC and was not entered in any register. However, Dr Mahal claimed that Dr Verma had obtained an order for going on casual leave which was his right. He said the District Immunisation Officer should have sought the movement register or tour programme before reporting to the higher authorities.

Dr Mahal could not give a satisfactory reply as to why Dr Shalinder Singh, posted at Mehndipur dispensary, was absent. He claimed that Dr Balwinder Kaur, who was also marked absent, was present at a satellite hospital being run by the Health System Corporation at Fatahpur. He claimed that Dr Balwinder Kaur was given orders by the Civil Surgeon himself to be on duty three days a week.

However, the Civil Surgeon said after the surprise checking, the functioning of dispensaries in the border belt had improved considerably. He said he had checked the dispensaries twice in the recent past and found that most of the doctors were present. He further said that during a sangat darshan by the Chief Minister at the Valtoha block, no complaints were made about the Health Department.

Dr Mahal said the medical officers had to commute as there were no residential quarters for them on the dispensary premises.


Money order, savings certificate scam
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Department of Posts, Punjab Circle, has unearthed a money order, Kisan Vikas Patra and savings certificate scam involving lakhs of rupees. Most of those whose money has been siphoned off belonged to Darbhanga in Muzaffarpur, Bihar, and Gorakhpur and Gonda in Uttar Pradesh and were usually migrant labourers working in Punjab, sources told The Tribune here today.

The department detected 2,932 cases this year and 2,005 last year in which the money sent through money orders did not reach the remittees or reached them after months despite the department promising delivery within a week, the sources said.

They said 48 per cent of the complaints relating to the non-delivery of money orders came from Bihar while 30 per cent were from UP. The rest related to Punjab.

As money is not transferred in time to the remittee or not given to him at all, the gangs, allegedly involving Department of Posts staff, get it encashed on the hasis of false witnesses, fake signatures and stamps to earn interest on the amount for the period of delay or gobble up the money. The department has approached the police in Bihar and UP to nab members of such gangs and lodge criminal cases against them. However, the gangs have been managing to scuttle police intervention by depositing the amounts in the accounts of the remittees if the misappropriation is detected. The sources said Punjab had not been getting money delivery confirmation on the V-SAT in such cases.

They said when an affidavit from the remittee was asked for in such cases, postal officials in UP and Bihar had reported that the persons concerned were untraceable. A similar pattern has been found in Punjab with regard to Kisan Vikas Patras and National Savings Certificates.

They said such fraud was allegedly committed in connivance with authorised agents who were found to have produced the wrong persons with the help of “witnesses”.

Stamps were found of some post office of Ludhiana in the cases of Kisan Vikas Patras and savings certificates. The department has alerted banks in the region to get such certificates verified before they were pledged for availing loans.

The department has also asked the Punjab and Chandigarh police to treat post offices as sensitive places requiring additional security and night patrolling as incidents of theft of property have recently come to the notice of the department. The department has now suggested that all application forms for Kisan Vikas Patras and savings certificates must have photographs on them so that impersonation can be eliminated.

The sources said that the department was pushing for the registration of criminal cases and the levying of heavy penal interest on those who either delayed payments or siphoned off the money.


Flood warning by dam authorities
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 17
The authorities of the Ranjit Sagar Dam are issuing warning of floods owing to the rise in the level of water in the reservoir, but are not yet ready to start generation from all four units. The water level in the reservoir of the Ranjit Sagar dam has risen to 517.277 meters according to information available here today while the optimum level of the reservoir is 518 meters.

There has been a steep rise in the inflow of water to the reservoir due to heavy rains in the catchment areas. The authorities of the Ranjit Sagar dam are reported to have issued warning to the district administration of Amritsar and Gurdaspur and some of the Jammu and Kashmir in view of rise in the water level and conveyed that spillway gates might have to be opened to release water from the reservoir if the level crossed 520 metres.

Enquiries shows that the Ranjit Sagar dam authorities want to keep the water level in reservoir at 518 meters whereas the same is designed to store up 527.91 metres. The PSEB authorities are insisting that the dam authorities must store water without spillage. The PSEB has not agreed with the contention of the authorities of the Ranjit Sagar dam, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the inflow of water in the Bhakra and Pong dam reservoirs have witnessed an unprecedented rise during the past three years. According to official information Pong dam reservoir received as 94,500 cusecs of water on August, 13,2.08 lakh cusecs on August 14 and on Wednesday, the inflows were 83,00 cusecs respectively. Similarly inflows to Bhakra reservoir were reported as 49,800 cusecs on August 13, 1 lakh cusecs on August 14 and 65,000 cusecs yesterday.

According to PSEB sources, the rains have been very heavy and there was no need for releasing water for irrigation purposes. This resulted in curtailing power generation in the Pong dam to 1.86 lakh yesterday which was 62 lakh units on August 13. The normal power generation may be started from Pong dam by this evening.


Chawla takes up rape victim’s case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
Withstanding police brutality and repression, a rape victim and her husband continue their fight for justice even after seven years of their ordeal.

Residents of Wanawali village in Mansa district, Naseeb Kaur and her husband Harpal Singh have been moving from pillar to post and made several representations to the highest authorities in the country, seeking protection and demanding action against policemen who have been hounding them.

The BJP MLA, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who presented the couple to the Press today, said Naseeb Kaur who was allegedly raped by Head Constable Mohan Singh, Jasvir Singh and Kuldip Singh in Mansa in 1994. Adding insult to injury, the policemen had been harassing the couple and exerting pressure on them to withdraw the case registered against them. Ms Chawla said she had already taken up their case with the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and DGP Sarabjit Singh but there had been no response.

Harpal Singh told reporters that the police had implicated him in various cases during the past seven years, including cases of narcotics, theft and for disturbing peace in the village. He has just been released on bail in the narcotics case after remaining in jail for seven months.

The couple were accompanied by panches from their village and from neighbouring villages. The panches said Harpal Singh was earlier implicated in a case at the behest of a police tout in 1994 in a bid to settle scores, the police picked up Naseeb Kaur as she alighted from a bus and took her to a desolate house in the city where she was sedated and raped for two days.

The then SSP (Mansa) after listening other story had filed a case against the policemen under Section 376, Cr Pc. After the registration of the case, the policemen started harassing them to withdraw it.

Harpal Singh said he was initially offered Rs 20,000 and later Rs 50,000 to withdraw the case.

He alleged that senior Akali leader and general secretary of SAD Balwinder Singh Bhunder had invited the couple for a compromise but it could not be materialised as he left for Chandigarh on the scheduled date.

The head constable who is the main accused in the rape case is presently posted as a gunman with an Akali MLA from Mansa. Ms Chawla added that although the three policemen were facing trial, they continued to remain in service and none of them had been suspended.


Cong meets aspirants for Assembly poll
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 17
Mr Sanjay Pathak observer of the AICC for the district, has completed the first round of meetings with those seeking tickets of the party and their supporters for prospective candidates for the eight state Assembly segments of Hoshiarpur for the forthcoming elections in the state.

Talking to this correspondent here today Mr Pathak said he had also met a large number of people. He said that there was a great enthusiasm among the Congress workers for the forthcoming elections of the state Assembly.

He said nearly 12 Congress leaders including Dr Kewal Krishan former Finance Minister of Punjab, had applied for Congress ticket from the Mukerian segment. In Dasuya, nobody had applied for party ticket so far. In the Tanda segment, eight persons, including Bibi Surjit Kaur Kalkat, former Minister of Social Welfare, had applied for the party ticket. There were more than 12 Congress leaders’ including Mr Dharam Pal Sabharwal, former Minister of Printing and Stationery, Mr Joginder Nath former MLA, Mr Narjan Singh Sahota, state government officer (retd.) and Mr Pawan Adia, president of the Dalit Sangarsh Samiti, had applied for Congress ticket from the Garhdiwala segment.

In the Hoshiarpur segment, Mr Iqbal Singh, former member of the Rajya Sabha, Mr Naresh Thakur, former state minister, Mr Sunder Sham Arora, a social worker, Mr Kuldip Nanda, general secretary of the DCC, Mr Brij Mohan Batra, Municipal Councillor, were among the aspirants. He said nearly 25 Congress leaders, including Mr Ram Rattan, president of the DCC, Mr Ram Lubhaya, husband of Mrs Santosh Chaudhry, Congress MP from Phillaur constituency and Mr Mohan Lal, Municipal Councillor, had applied for party ticket from the Shamchaurasi segment, he said.

Mr Gurmail Singh, former Education Minister, Mr Kartar Singh Langeri, former MLA, Dr Dilbagh Rai and Mr Rajinder Ladoo were among the aspirants from the Mahilpur segment. In the Garshankar segment, there were more than 12 aspirants, including Capt R.S. Pathania, Mr Krishna Dev, Mr B.R. Chohan, Mr Varinder Rana, and Mr Guddi.

Mr Pathak said he had received applications of the aspirants and would forward the same with his observations to the party high command within next week. He could start the second round of meetings after meeting leaders of the party high command soon. 


SAD, BJP district panels to be revived
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 17
Mr Arun Sood, State unit general secretary, Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) said due to the inefficiency of the district-level coordination committees set up by the BJP and the SAD differences had emerged in the rank and file of the partners.

Mr Sood while talking to mediapersons here today said these committees were set up by the parties so that the policies of the government may be implemented properly and the workers of the party had regular interactions with the ministers.

Mr Sood said in some districts the committees were not set up at all and in the districts where they were set up they did not work properly and failed to deliver the goods. The matter had been bought to the notice of the state Chief Minister.

Keeping the Assembly elections in view the alliance partners have decided to revive the committees. The morcha had decided to form committees named as Kesaryia Vahinis of 11 members from each which would be deployed at each booth where polling was to be held. These committees would help to strengthen the rapport with the voters, he said.

Mr Mohit Gupta, member of the all-India executive committee of the BJYM said a national-level meeting of the morcha would be held at Agra in October and at least 50,000 activists from Punjab were expected to participate in it.

Answering a question the youth leaders said there was no quota system in the BJP and the youth had been given adequate representation at all levels. Though the alliance partners have announced that certain percentage of seats would be reserved for the youth wing of the party the BJP had no such plans the leaders said.

Blaming the Pakistani President, Mr Pervez Musharraf for the failure of the Agra summit, the leaders alleged that the terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir had to be stopped first if the talks were to proceed further.

Activists of the morcha burnt the national flag of Pakistan at the Sadbhawna Chowk of the city this noon to protest against the recent spate of killings of innocent civilians in Jammu and Kashmir.

They said the BJP would contest at least 23 Assembly seats, as in the last Assembly elections and would demand at least one seat in each district from the SAD.


Beopar Mandals to contest elections
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 17
In an apparent bid to divide the BJP votes in the urban areas two traders’ organisations, Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Punjab, and the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, have decided to contest the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state.

Announcing this here today at a joint press conference, the leaders of the two associations said, they would field its candidates from 30 assembly segments, of the urban areas. This, they claimed, was a decided, much thought out move as no political party in the state had effectively solved their grievances. They were critical of the Akali-BJP government, for betraying the trading community.

Mr Tulsi Dass Jaitwani and Mr Jagmohan Sharma, both presidents of the associations claimed that they had the backing of traders who had been let down by the successive governments. Both these organisations are understood to be supportive of the Congress.

Surprisingly the two traders’ organisations have also rejected the government proposal to abolish the octroi terming it as a political gimmick. They said this move was aimed to get votes in the next elections.


People fed up with Akalis: Kataria
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
Former PPCC president Varinder Kataria claimed today that the SAD-BJP alliance had been leaving no stone unturned for survival as in apprehensing defeat in the coming assembly elections.

Mr Kataria, in charge, of the election campaign in Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Moga, people were fed up with style of functioning of the Akalis.

Mr Kataria, who was here in connection with a preliminary survey to find suitable candidates for the elections, talking to TNS, alleged that a fear psychosis had been created among the minorities by the SAD-BJP government by allowing Wassan Singh Zafferwal and Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan to return to Punjab.

He said the law and order situation had come to such a pass that police personnel were being used as a political instruments.

Every section of society, including farmers, employees, traders, industrialists and labourers, were fed up with the “misrule” of Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he alleged.


A park fallen on bad days
Rajnish Sharma

This town, once the capital of the erstwhile princely state of Nabha, has only one park, Maharaja Hira Singh Park, which is in bad shape.

Although the population of the town has increased manifold since the setting up of the park in 1935, no new parks have been developed so far.

Prior to the setting up of the park,earlier known as King George Silver Jubilee Park, there was a jail at the site. Jawaharlal Nehru was kept in that jail for a few days during the freedom struggle.

The then Chief Minister of Punjab, Giani Zail Singh, had given a grant to construct a room in memory of Nehru there. That room still exists in a corner of the park but is in a poor condition. It is often used as a toilet by visitors. Similarly, two rooms constructed near this room and a dilapidated pump room are also used by people as toilets. A large well near the pump room poses a danger to children at play.

There is congress grass all over the park, which comprises eight small lawns, a playground and a children’s park. The concrete pathways which connect these lawns need repairs. The statue of Maharaja Hira Singh has been damaged.

The three fountains are non-functional and the cement benches are in a state of disrepair. There are no dustbins in the park, measuring about 5,000 sq yd. Well-maintained flower beds are missing. Flowering plants have been uprooted or have dried up in the absence of proper care. Youths living nearby have made a cricket pitch in the playground.

The condition of the children’s park, which was developed in 1993 by the then MLA of Nabha, Mr Ramesh Singla, and inaugurated by the then Chief Minister, Beant Singh, is also poor. The swings are broken and there is no trace of the toy train which was introduced at that time. Even the train track has been uprooted. A school adjacent to the area is using it as its playground.

Out of more than 50 light points, only a few near the entrance and the Maharaja’s statue are in working order.

Last year some residents and a few clubs took over the maintenance of the park and its condition began to improve. However, later they stopped taking interest. When this correspondent met a few of the residents, they alleged that the Municipal Council was providing no assistance to them. All nine gardeners who were deployed at the park were working at the residences of officers or politicians while drawing their salaries from the council.

Mr Rajesh Babla, president of the council, said that in the absence of policemen on duty, a few youths living nearby often indulged in vandalism, breaking lights, railings and swings in the park. Besides, people residing in the areas around the park were using it as a short- cut to their houses. Efforts to lock the park at night had proved futile as they broke the wall and railings to enter.

He admitted that the fountains were not working as the pump was out of order. He suggested that the maintenance of the park should be given to a private party on contract.


Reply in MLA case on Sept 4
Sushil Goyal and Sumer Garg

Sunam, August 17
On a application moved by Assistant Public Prosecutor (APP) V.K. Gupta in the court of Mr S.K. Singla, Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate Ist Class, here with regard to withdrawal of the case registered against SAD MLA Manmohan Singh Sathiala at the Lehragaga police station, the complainant, Mr Ranjit Singh, a Punjab police constable, will file his reply through his counsel on September 4 in the court.

The court today fixed September 4 as the next date of hearing for filing a reply by the complainant in connection with the application moved by the APP. Mr Ranjit Singh today appeared in the court along with his counsel.

The case was registered against Sathiala under Section 353, 506, and 186 of the IPC and 134/131 of the Representation of People Act at the Lehragaga police station on September 29, 2000, the polling day of the Sunam Assembly byelection. In his byelection, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, son of Mr Sukhdev Singh dhindsa, Union Minister was a candidate of the SAD.

According to the case registered by the police, Mr Ranjit Singh, Constable, was on poll duty at a booth in Daska village when a person came to the booth at about 4 pm and wanted to enter the booth. But Mr Ranjit Singh objected to his entry. On this, the person said, “Does he not know him? he is Manmohan Singh Sathiala, MLA”. After this, Sathiala in the presence of two other policemen slapped Ranjit Singh and pushed him to the ground. In this incident the Constable’s turban also fell off. He reported the matter on phone to Mr Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal, IPS, ASP, Sangrur, at Control Room (election cell), Sunam.

It is learnt that the government has asked the authorities in Sangrur to withdraw the case registered against Sathiala, the ruling party MLA. Acting upon the government authorities’ reported instructions, the APP, Sunam, filed an application under Section 321 of the Criminal Procedure Code for the withdrawal of the case on July 16 submitting that “I apply for the withdrawal of the case from the case from its prosecution in public interest”. The APP has also requested the court that he may be allowed to withdraw the case from its prosecution.

Mr Gurcharan Kaur, mother of Mr Ranjit Singh, also filed an application with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) at Chandigarh to seek justice. The PSHRC sent the complaint to the Punjab Government which got an inquiry conducted into the case from SP (Special Staff), Crime Wing, Punjab.

The inquiry officer found that MLA Manmohan Singh hurled abuses at Constable Ranjit Singh and also gave him pushes and slaps when he was attired in uniform and was on duty. In the report, he also added that investigation in this case had been unnecessarily kept in abeyance by the SSP, Sangrur.


PRTC staff for abolition of transport policy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) workers union (AITUC) today demanded abolition of the state transport policy besides compensating the organisation for free transport facilities given to different sections of society.

The workers union, while alleging that the state government had not taken any action regarding a memorandum submitted to it, also demanded that the post of Chairman of the organisation should be abolished besides assuring pay and pension benefits to its employees.

Stating this the association general secretary, Mr Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal, further added that the Chairman had been frequently shifting the general manager and this was adversely affecting the working of the PRTC. The Chairman did not take necessary action against the corrupt employees and was showering them with promotions. He named Mr P.S.Sodhi, Mr O.P.Khichi and Mr Raj Singh Sandhu who despite having a bad record had been provided with promotions by the Chairman.

Mr Dhaliwal appealed to the government to appoint a commission to inquire into the matter. He said the organisation would make every effort to save the PRTC.


Vacant land gets fairyland look
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
A public park at the community recreational centre in Malout has been completed by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

The Chief Administrator, PUDA, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu, said the project had been undertaken exclusively out of sale proceeds of government land transferred to PUDA under the Optimum Utilisation of Vacant Government Lands (OUVGL) scheme. He said work on the Community Recreational Centre was also at an advanced stage and was likely to be completed within the next few months.

Arrangements are being made to hand over the maintenance of the park to an autonomous society comprising local officers and members of the public.

The Chief Architect, Punjab, Mr P.R. Luthra, who headed the design team, said the lush green lawns had been dotted with mushroom-shaped low level lights.

Free moving paved footpaths meander through the park, passing through long green tunnels. Other unique features of the park are its richly landscaped mounds and thatch-roofed rain shelters. A major centre of attraction is the huge water fall that comes down in the form of a water sheet and thereafter cascades through rocks creating sensuous noises. Special arrangements have, in particular, been made for children and play equipment like slides, swings, sand pits, benches have been provided for the little kids.

Mr Luthra further stated that toilets blocks and drinking water units have been planned and suitably camouflaged. The selection of trees has been made to provide evergreen environment, with colourful flowers in all seasons. As one walks through the park, one is able to hear the melodious music without being able to see its source. The unique feature of this park is that the illumination has been so worked out as to give the park a fairyland look at night

The park is likely to be inaugurated by Chief Minister, Prakash Singh Badal soon.


Market that chokes  the heart of city
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
From the once Baba Toba Dhyiana to a sprawling tractor market, the market on the Bahera road in the city has come a long way. Once a depression that was lying unused, the tractor market is today an eye-sore responsible for clogging traffic in the area and causing unhygienic conditions as it is situated right next to the “ganda nala” meandering through the inner city.

Decisions to shift the tractor market have been taken many times but none of the initiatives have borne fruit. Policy makers realised the need to shift the tractor market along with its adjoining spare part market, also know as “kabari bazar”, as long back as 1978. Shopkeepers were then asked to deposit Rs 1,000 each and promised that they would be provided plots elsewhere.

Following this there was a long lull with politics ensuring the market did not go out of the city. Another round of activity started in the last few years as two auctions were planned but both of these had to be cancelled as there was a bitter acrimony over the number of shops in the present market as well as the concessions to be given to the shopkeepers to encourage them to move out.

Around two years back, an auction did take place finally with some of the junk dealers participating in it and purchasing plots in the Transport Nagar, built on the outskirts of the city. However though some of the junk dealers have built shops in the Transport Nagar, none of the dealers have transferred their business to the Transport Nagar.

There is bitterness among the junk dealers themselves with those who claim they are not well off, alleging that competition had been unfairly created by the local Improvement Trust to auction the plots at higher cost. Meanwhile, even as the Improvement Trust and the administration is sleeping over the issue of shifting the market that is not deemed appropriate with Assembly elections around the corner, the people of the city continue to suffer due to the congested atmosphere in the area. If the spare part shops are shifted out, much-needed parking space could be created in the heart of the city with the traditional Adalat Bazar and AC market just a short walk away from the site.


Gas leak scare in Nabha
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
A scare was created in Nabha township, near here following a gas leak in the Indian Oil Corporation’s LPG unit. However no loss to either life or property was reported.

According to sources, the leak was from a truck parked on the premises of the LPG unit. The leak was attributed to a faulty valve. The sources said the Patiala - Bhawanigarh road was closed to traffic for nearly three hours following the leak and there was panic in the nearby villages.

However, traffic was restored after 6 p.m. Sources said a fire engine was requisitioned from Sangrur which however arrived after one and a half hours after the leak as there is no fire engine stationed in Nabha.


Sugar mill workers call off stir
Our Correspondent

Budhlada (Mansa), August 17
Sugar mill workers, who have been agitating since June 1, called off their agitation today when Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal visited Budhlada and announced that payment of their arrears amounting to Rs 3.4 crore would be paid to them.

He undertook to see the possibility of restarting the sugar mill in the cooperative or the private sector.

He said so far several villages had deposited Rs 125 crore for getting round the clock power supply which would be made available to them within three months.

Mr Badal distributed grants amounting to more than Rs 8 crore at sangat darshan programmes in Mansa and Budhlada. He distributed grants worth Rs 3.83 crore for Budhlada subdivision.


Plastic surgeon honoured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Punjab Government has honoured Dr Chanjiv Singh, a Jalandhar-based plastic surgeon, with a state award that includes a gold medal, a commendation certificate and Rs 11,000 cash. The award was presented to Dr Chanjiv Singh, at a state-level Independence Day function at Ferozepore by Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Dr Chanjiv Singh, who has won several other awards and scholarships, did his Master of Surgery (General Surgery) from Government Medical College, Patiala in 1988. He won the National Talent Search Scholarship of NCERT, New Delhi and several merit scholarships. Dr Chanjiv Singh is a member of several bodies of surgeons as well as sport, culture and youth organisations.


Ban on loudspeakers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
The District Magistrate, Mr Narinderjit Singh, in a written order today banned the use of noise pollutants like loudspeakers, late night orchestra.

According to the order, no one would be allowed to use noise-causing apparatus without the written approval of the Sub-divisional Magistrate. Mr Narinderjit Singh said the unauthorised loudspeakers were affecting the physical and mental health of the public, especially children. 


50,000 cusecs of water released from barrage
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 17
About 50,000 cusecs of water was released from the Harike barrage which entered Pakistan after opening the gates of the Hussainwala head works in Ferozepore.

Mr S.R. Ladhar, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, said people should not get panicky as the district administration had already taken precautionary measures and was keeping a close vigil on the water level.

About 129175 cusecs of water was discharged from the Ropar head works on August 14. Mr Ladhar said since then the Ferozepore administration kept close vigil on the situation. Round-the-clock monitoring was being done since the releasing of water from the Ropar head works. The current discharge from Harike barrage is registered as 22800 cusecs today. 


Undertrial dies of hepatitis-B
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 17
An undertrial prisoner Puran, alias Raju, lodged in district jail here died due to hepatitis-B at the local civil hospital today.

According to the official sources, Puran was under trial in a theft case registered by the police on February 14 last. He was arrested and shifted to district jail the next day. He was suffering from hepatitis-B. He was first admitted to the jail hospital on August 5 and was then referred to the Civil Hospital on August 14. Puran was a labourer and belonged to Madhya Pradesh.


Kisan Sabha demands Rs 600 MSP for paddy
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 17
The Punjab Kisan Sabha in a letter faxed to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, has urged him to announce the minimum support price of Rs 600 per quintal for the procurement of superfine variety of paddy.

This letter was signed by the President, Vice-President and General Secretary of the local unit of the Punjab Kisan Sabha.

They have demanded immediate announcement of the minimum support price of Rs 4,000 per quintal for American Cotton (narma), Rs 3,500 per quintal for cotton and Rs 125 per quintal for sugarcane.

They said such step was necessary in order to save the farmers of Punjab as they were unable to bear the burden of debts and were being forced to commit suicides due to the financial crunch.

They urged the government to start paddy procurement from September 1 and purchase of American cotton by the Cotton Corporation.

The formers’ leaders further said they would hold tehsil-level rallies to press these demands.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Punjab, when contacted on phone termed the protests of the Punjab Kisan Sabha as baseless. He said these protest were aimed at getting political mileage. The Punjab Government has demanded increase of Rs 50 in the MSP of wheat from the Union Government against the recommended increase of just Rs 10 by the Agriculture Price Commission.


Villagers await compensation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 17
Though the state government had ordered that special girdawris be made to assess the damage caused to the cotton crops due to the rains but some of the villages are still waiting for their turn.

The panchayat members of Sandoha village are one such example who have now filed a complaint with the Chief Minister alleging that the patwari of their village had demanded a bribe to assess to the loss of crop correctly.

Ms Mandeep Kaur, sarpanch of the village, alleged that though the girdawri was done last year the compensation cheques were not issued properly. Those persons whose crops were not damaged in the rains had been issued cheques and in cases cheques had been issued some who do not have lands in their name, she alleged.

The panchayat members alleged that the patwari of their village in connivance with certain influential persons of the village had issued cheques whereas these who had suffered losses were denied their dues.

Mr Gurgant Singh, panch of the village, alleged that they had submitted an application with the Deputy Commissioner in this connection also but without any results.

The panchayat members demanded an inquiry into the entire episode and said the cheques should be issued to the affected farmers immediately.


PSEB concessions to domestic, SC consumers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has given concessions to both domestic consumers and members of the Scheduled Castes in a major decision which is being seen as a sop on behalf of the state government in view of the forthcoming Assembly elections.

Informed sources said the board had taken a decision to give domestic consumers the advantage of paying less for consumption of up to 300 units even if they surpassed the figure. Earlier, consumers were charged Rs 1.60 paisa per unit if they consumed power between 200 and 300 units and Rs 2.90 per unit for the power consumed by them if they consumed more than 300 units.

Now domestic consumers would be allowed to take advantage of the first two slabs by paying less for the first 300 units of power consumed by them even if they consume more than 300 units.

Besides, members of the Scheduled Castes who had applied for connections under the category would now also be able to take advantage of 50 units of power which were being provided to them free of cost if they had a connected load of 300 wattage for a higher load. Now Scheduled Caste connection holders would get 50 units of free power up to 1000 watts.

PSEB sources said the decision had been taken yesterday following a high level meeting of senior members of the board with the government. They said although earlier there was a consensus on extending the free power facility to the Scheduled Castes only, later the government veered around to removing the slabs in the case of domestic consumers also.


Octroi staff to be adjusted elsewhere
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Dispelling fears among 4,300 employees engaged in octroi collection in 142 municipal committees in Punjab, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, said today that they would be adjusted elsewhere following the abolition of octroi in the coming days. “No such employee will be thrown out of his job”, Mr Tandon asserted.

Making it clear that octroi would be abolished soon, Mr Tandon said that the committee set up under the chairmanship of Mr Arunesh Shakar, a BJP MLA, would submit its report recommending what steps should be taken to mobilise resources following the scrapping of octroi. Mr Tandon said that the committee had visited various states for this purpose. At present only four states — Gujarat, Goa, Orissa and Punjab — were collecting octroi in the country. The other states had gone in for various options to fund municipal committees.

As 70 per cent of the revenue of the committees was from octroi, it was necessary to find an alternative source of revenue to fund the committees, Mr Tandon said.

Justifying the move to abolish octroi at this stage when the assembly elections were approaching, Mr Tandon said that when this government took over, the committees were passing through a financially difficult period. The government also had no money to fund these bodies. As the financial position had now improved in the state, the government could afford to abolish octroi, he added.

Mr Tandon said the experiment of privatisation of the maintenance of streetlights in a number of cities had proved successful. He said soon the maintenance of streetlights would be privatised in all 142 municipal committees. The maintenance cost had also gone down.


New Addl MD of Sugarfed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Punjab Government ordered the following postings and transfers today: Mrs Amrita Atwal becomes the new Chief Manager (Personnel), Markfed, in place of Mr Balwinder Singh, who has been posted as Additional Managing Director, Sugarfed.

Mr Dharam Dutt will be the new Joint Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, while Mr Jasbir Singh goes to Amritsar as SLAC. Mr Prem Chand will be the new Joint Commissioner, Ludhiana Municipal Corporation.

Mr Bhupinder Singh will be the new Estate Officer, PUDA, Patiala.


Sanghera resumes office as MC chief
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 17
Following a decision by Mr Justice J.S. Narang of the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday Mrs Rajinderpal Kaur Sanghera today resumed her office as President at Barnala municipal council.

Allowing a petition of Mrs Rajinderpal Kaur, Mr Justice Narang set aside the election of Mrs Sukhdershan Kaur as President of the local municipal council. Mrs Rajinderpal Kaur was elected President of the municipal council in 1998 before being elected municipal councillor. She was removed from the office of the chief of the civic body here following a notification issued by the local government on May 29, 2000, on the basis of a no-confidence motion moved by the local municipal councillors. Mr Justice Narang had directed that Mrs Rajinderpal Kaur would remain chief of the municipal council till removed in accordance with-law.


3 booked for duping LIC
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 17
Three persons were booked by the Nurpur police for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to dupe the Life Insurance Corporation (LIC).

According to police sources, Surjit Singh, an LIC agent working in the Nurpur branch of the corporation, told them that Raj Rani one of the accused, was running a shop of sundry articles at Rehan village. She was acquainted with the other accused Prithvi Singh and Surinder Kumar of Nurpur tehsil.

On December 12, 1999, the LIC agent, had come to Rehan village for the field work. Raj Rani allegedly called him for getting his nephew Saroop Singh, insured and paid Rs 200 as an advance. She promised to pay the balance amount of Rs 2,240 after a few days and agreed that Saroop Singh would sign the necessary documents on that day.

However, on December 28, 1999, when the LIC agent had gone to the shop of Raj Rani, she introduced a person who was sitting in her shop as Saroop Singh, who later signed the documents.

After some time Prithvi Singh, father of Saroop Singh, being nominee approached the Nurpur branch of the LIC with a request to make the payment as Saroop Singh had died.

Authorities suspecting a foul play got verified the death of Saroop Singh and came to know that the insured person had died much earlier from the date of insurance and Surinder Kumar had allegedly signed the documents posing as Saroop Singh. The accused had prepared the fake death certificate of Swaroop Singh to defraud the LIC.


Minor Dalit girl raped
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, August 17
A 14-year-old Dalit girl has allegedly been raped and sodomised by a resident of Innabajwa village in Sherpur police station. The accused is at large.

Disclosing this at a press conference here today, Mr Balbir Singh, DSP, said that the girl, daughter of a resident of the nearby Balamgarh village had been working as a part-time domestic servant in her village in the house of Balwinder Singh, the cousin of the accused, for about four years.

The DSP said on August 4, the girl went to the house of Balwinder Singh in the afternoon to do her job. Both Balwinder Singh and his wife were away at that time and the accused was present. Taking benefit of being alone, the accused allegedly caught hold of the victim, put a dupatta in her mouth, locked the gate of the house, and committed the crime.

Incidentally, the father of the girl reached the house and on seeing him, the culprit fled away. Before fleeing, he allegedly threatened the minor girl of killing her and her brother, if she narrated the incident to anyone. But she narrated the incident to her father, the DSP added.

The DSP further said that due to fear of infamy in the village, they did not disclose the incident to anyone. But when the incident became the talk of the village, the victim visited police station, Dhuri, on August 14 with her father and other relatives to lodge a complaint.

The Dhuri police has registered a case under Sections 377, 376, 342 and 506 of IPC against the accused.

The DSP further stated that the medical examination of the victim was conducted at Civil Hospital, Sangrur, on August 14, and the swabs collected had been sent for examination.


Teachers’ shortage in upgraded schools
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 17
Keeping the Assembly elections in view, ministers of the state government and even the state Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, have started the “process” of the upgradation of government schools and at least 1,344 schools are to be upgraded in the current academic session. What arrangements are made for the school in terms of increased requirement of staff, and infrastructure is not the ministers’ concern.

Earlier the problem was prevalent only in the rural areas only but with the massive upgradation of schools the urban schools too are affected. Sources in the district education office reveal that the problem had been compounded as vacancies for teachers and lecturers had not been filled since long.

The sources revealed that in some schools the authorities have been compensating the students by deputing teachers who had been teaching the subjects in which they do not have any expertise. In some schools history and Punjabi teachers have been teaching English and even Mathematics, the sources said.

Ms Rama, Principal, local Government Senior Secondary School (Boys) lamented that the post of English lecturer had been lying vacant since June last year and repeated reminders to the higher authorities had not yielded any results. More than 500 students of secondary classes were being taught English boy teachers of Punjabi and History, she said.

She admitted that it was wrong to force the teachers to teach subjects other than their own and that the students were suffering for no fault of theirs.

Mr Major Singh Sandhu, District Education Officer (S) could not be contacted. An administrative officer of the DEO office said the government policy state that the master cadre teachers who were promoted to lecturers were posted in rural areas so the newly appointed lecturers could not be deputed at the school.

Also no application from the lecturers had been received by the office asking appointment at Government Senior Secondary School, Paras Ram Nagar area of the city, “that was the reason no lecturer had been appointed at the school.” he added. 


40 pc schools without principals: Tota Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 17
As many as 40 per cent schools in Punjab are running without Principals and there is not much chance of the vacancies being filled up quickly with the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) not taking any action in the matter.

This was disclosed by the Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, after giving away the prizes at a function organised at Government Senior Secondary School, Pheelkhana.

The minister said though the PPSC had been informed about the need to fill the vacancies and had even been given two reminders, the recruitment process was still to start. Speaking about the shortage of teachers in the state, he said the main problem was with the primary cadre.

He said besides this the shortage of teachers was more in the rural and remote areas for which the department was taking action. He said undue transfers would not be allowed and that a policy was also being framed whereby it would be mandatory for all those seeking for transfer to get the approval of the school head and the respective village panchayat. He said the department would also go in for a rationalisation programme under which imbalances in postings in various schools would be removed.

The Akali leader also claimed that the experiment of teaching English at the primary level had been successful. He said now even the Haryana and West Bengal governments had gone in for introducing English as a medium of instruction at the primary level and added that English medium books were also being provided to the students.

Mr Tota Singh said the Cabinet had given approval for the upgradation of 200 schools out of which 56 had been upgraded recently. He said the department had also promoted 800 teachers recently and promotion of another 800 teachers was on the anvil.

All students securing more than 70 per cent marks in the board examinations would henceforth be given certificates of honour, he added. Besides this, all school heads had been directed to send progress reports of students to their parents or guardians at least three times in one academic session. This was being done to ensure parents got a proper feedback of the performances of their wards, the minister added.


Varsity cell to deal with violence cases
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, has constituted a cell to deal with the cases of violence and sexual harassment on the campus, a university spokesman said here today.

The spokesman said Dr Satvir Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, would be the chairman of this seven-member cell.

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