Sunday, August 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pension scam: 10 officials in the dock
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, August 18
The Rs 25-crore pension scam which has rocked the city is just the tip of the iceberg, claimed senior CPI leader Satya Pal Dang. Echoing the concern of Mr Dang, the BJP MLA Lakshmi Kanta Chawla who had been spearheading the pensioners’ cause said the inquiry proved that funds were being embezzled under the nose of senior officers.

Mr Dang has written a number of letters to the Chief Minister and senior officers of the Social Security Department, exposing serious lapses in the functioning of the office here besides agents and touts operating with connivance of the bosses. He alleged that last year itself, he had thrown light on such an clandestine operation where large number of genuine pensioners were denied their dues while non-existence and bogus persons were drawing the amount with the support of agents operating from the District Courts.

Mr Dang alleged that the modus operandi of officers posted here was that they would verify the cases of bogus pensioners through a well-oiled machinery involving senior officers at the district, tehsil and panchayat levels to avoid any suspicion.

District Security Welfare Office staff operated through their agents and touts who would prepare bogus lists and siphon off the pension amounts during the period 1996-97 to 2000-01.

Sources from the police team investigating the one of the largest scams of its nature said they would look into the role of the Treasury Office and banks which had been allowing them to collect cash on fake signatures and documents.

Mr Dang and Mrs Chawla said the scam of this magnitude could not have taken place without the patronage of political powers. Embezzlement in the Social Security Office was also unearthed in 1996 during the audit inspection, casting a shadow on the local administration.

The Director of Social Security and Development of Women and Children in his letter dated August 8, 1001, has sent a detailed note to the SSP here to register a case against the District Social Welfare Officer and the entire staff of the office for falsification of records, creating bogus lists of pensioners, embezzlement of government funds, cheating, forgery etc.

The Director has urged the police chief to initiate criminal proceedings against 10 persons, including two women, and made recoveries of Rs 24.37 crore which they had siphoned off from the government treasuries through fake documents.

The kingpin of the pension scam, the District Social Welfare Officer Swarup Singh, at present under suspension, has been named for misappropriating more than Rs 12 crore in liaison with his colleagues. The others named include Surmukh Singh, DSWO, now been posted in Ferozepore; Satwinder Pal Singh, accomplice of Swarup Singh who also functioned as DSWO and has been transferred to Fatehgarh Sahib. Another accused, Atma Singh, has since retired.

Two women employees, Bimla Devi and Ravinder Kaur, both assistants, have also been transferred to Ferozepore and Mamdot, respectively. Sukhwinder Singh, Kartar Chand, Ravinder Singh and Satish Kumar, whose names also figure in the list, have also been posted to other towns.

The Civil Lines police registered an FIR on August 16 on the instructions of the SSP, Mr P.P.S. Sidhu, based on the letter of the Director, Social Security, Mr R.L. Kalsia, and ordered a probe to be conducted by the DSP, Civil Lines, Mr Parampal Singh.

Senior police officers are, meanwhile, adopting the wait and watch policy before initiating the arrest of the culprits in one of biggest scam hitting the SAD-BJP alliance government.

Mrs Chawla felt that the government should take immediate steps to arrest the accused and make recoveries besides streamlining the working of the Social Security Department at all levels in the state.

The Director, Social Security, Mr R.L. Kalsia could not be contacted for his comments.


Pool joints become gambling dens
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, August 18
Do not be surprised if the boy next door exhibits marked change in his lifestyle and flaunts expensive clothes, mobile phones and latest bikes which cannot be explained from his known pocket money sources as the youth of the city have deviced innovative ways to take care of such expenses.

Most of the youth indulge in “posh” betting under the name of snooker, pool, tambola, computer games and even bridge at various pool joints dotting the city. The pool culture was largely unknown in the region but increasing modernisation and consumerism have led to a mushroom growth of these joints.

A psychologist said due to the lack of adequate recreation facilities in the city and changing social behaviour such things had increased. The cyber cafes are the other point were the youth mostly pass their time resulting in declining family interaction.

The police authorities are also not unaware of the trend and many pool joints had been raided in the past few months leading to unearthing of such trends. A pool joint on the Mall Road of the city had been raided twice but the owners allegedly continue to run their business.

Police sources said recently a raid on Pool Point situated at the Amrik Singh Road of the city was conducted and Jaswinder Singh, a resident of Mohalla Telian Wala was arrested. He was running his business under the name of pool joint.

Police sources said four another suspects Ashok Kumar, Bhura Singh, Mangal Singh and Naib Singh had been arrested under the Prevention of Gambling Act. The alleged culprits were arrested red-handed while having a bet on a game of cards and Rs 450 were recovered from them.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP said the culprits had been arrested under Sections 13-A, 3 and 67 of the Prevention of Gambling Act and Rs 550 were impounded from Jaswinder Singh.


Plots sold against rules?
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar August 18
Can a riot migrant or terrorist victim sell a site or plot soon after it is allotted? The question has arisen after many such sites were sold shortly after allotment by government draws in 1986.

Several sites were sold within a year or two of their allotment by the Improvement Trust authorities. The trust authorities, meantime, cleared these sales and allotted the sites to new owners.

Consequently, many sites meant to help terrorist and riot victims to tide over the crisis in their lives went to somebody else even as the trust flouted rules under consecutive chairman's to facilitate such transfers.

However, even years later, many cases of transferred sites to other owners are cropping up. But the trust has chosen to update the clause by withholding transfers of such sites. According to trust Chairman Bakshi Ram Arora, “Conditional sale deeds” (shartaa sahit baanama) by original owners do not hold much ground for transfer of sites, hence the reported new owners were not eligible to lay claim to transfer of the site. One such site at the shopping centre of Ranjit Avenue, allotted to Mohinder Singh, a Sikh migrant, ultimately went to Anand Bansal after a conditional sale deed from Shashi Bhushan to whom the land was similarly transferred by the migrant.

More than 70 sites allotted to victims were thus sold on a conditional sale deed basis.

Such cases were considered “fit” for transfers and later permanent registry, despite the specific time period withholding the victim from selling and the sales continued.

Are restrictive clauses meant for flouting ? This question is being asked after Mr Bakshi Ram, Chairman, offered relief in the form of legal transfer to Mr Bansal, provided the original owner (Sikh migrant) is brought in person to give a written undertaking regarding the sale deed of the site. Out of the four other pending cases with the trust, one includes a minister who was asked to give a similar written undertaking.

The Tehsildaar also says that the allotee gives an NOC (no objection certificate) in another’s favour, it is possible to effect a sale deed.

However both the chairman and the tehsildaar are not very clear over the specific time period of abstinence from sale of sites, by “state beneficiary” victims. It is not even clear if the site “so sold” can be resumed by the trust authorities leading to taking re-possession of the site.


Release of Indians in Pak jails sought
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 18
Parents of all those youths languishing in various jails of Pakistan are up in arms against the indifferent attitude of both, Indian and Pakistani governments over the issue concerning their release.

At a meeting held here under the patronage of the International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society, kin of these youths who have been moving from pillar to post for quite some time for their release criticised the government for its failure in taking appropriate steps for the early repatriation of the Indian youths. The meeting was attended by the parents of 29 Punjabi youths imprisoned in Baluchistan Jail and another six youths who had taken shelter in Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore.

Sources reveal that these Punjabi youths were fraudulently brought to Turkey by some travel agents who promised to send them to Europe, but they landed up in the police net. The travel agents not only mislead them but also pocketed $ 3,300 in the bargain. These youths were tortured by the Iranian police which deported them later forcibly to Pakistan.

According to the information, some of these Punjabi youths had gone to Lebanon on valid visas and also worked there till the validity of their visas lapsed. They tried to sneak into some other country, but the luck was not on their side as they landed up in Turkish and Iranian jails while trying to cross over to Greece. According to Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the society, who was instrumental in the release of 12 Punjabi youths from Pakistan last month, repeated requests have been sent to both Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and Gen Pervez Musharraf but no positive steps have been initiated in this regard so far. He said during the Agra summit, the officials concerned had given an assurance that these youths would soon be released but it seems that all appeals made by the parents of these youths have fallen on deaf ears. Mr Bhullar added that besides these youths in Pakistan there were more than 35 languishing in various jails of Turkey, Iran, Lebanon and some other West-Asian countries after being ditched by the travel agents.

Some of the youths who were released last month told mediapersons that they had been working in Lebanon for more than four years and were earning $ 200 per month, but the lust to earn more money landed them in the net of some travel agents who promised to send them to Europe. Later on, near Bursha city, the Turkish police forced them to enter Pakistan where they were arrested by Pakistani security agencies. 


Grant amnesty for killing terrorists: DSP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 18
The Zinda Shaheed Police Officers’ Welfare Association yesterday denied that its members, who had been booked by the CBI for alleged excesses committed during the decade-long terrorism in Punjab, have admitted their involvement in “false” encounters as was alleged in a section of press.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, SP, a member of the association, said here today that none of the association members had ever engineered fake encounters to eliminate terrorists during those black days. “We have been misquoted” he added.

“Infact, we have fought a proxy war with bravery and all those encounters were genuine and were duly certified as “genuine” by the then civil and senior police officials. The state government should recommend our case for granting general amnensty for eliminating terrorists in Punjab,” Mr Ashok Kumar, DSP, added.

He was falsely implicated by the CBI in a murder case of a terrorist while he was present in a court at Chandigarh, he added.


Cong, morcha upbeat over rally success
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 18
The Congress and the recently constituted Panthic Morcha may have many things to celebrate after their Issru rallies. Particularly after comparing the participation of people in their separate rallies with that of the official rally addressed by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Although the Chief Minister, looked buoyant and confident over his rating as best Chief Minister by an English weekly, he might be disappointed over the poor turnover at his rally and a relatively better show by his rivals like the Congress and the Panthic Morcha.

This might be most gratifying for the Pradesh Congress Committee president, Capt Amarinder Singh, who managed a good show at Issru. Moreover, he was joined in his campaign against the Badal government by his arch rivals within the party, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, and former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. This will have a positive impact over the grassroot workers in the run-up to the Assembly elections.

The PCC president ridiculed Mr Badal for his being described as the best Chief Minister Punjab ever had, by the weekly. He remarked, “Mr Badal definitely tops in corruption, nepotism and non performance”. 


Cong offers sops to Dalits
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 18
The Congress would give employment to one member of each Dalit family and weaker section if voted to power in the forthcoming Assembly elections in Punjab. Many more concessions like special loans on easy interest to start business or professions besides pensions to widows and senior citizens, increase in reservation quota in different fields, and education facilities free of cost up to higher classes will also be provided to them. This was stated by Mr Mohinder Singh Kalyan, former MP and chairman of the Punjab Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes cell of the Congress while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

He said the party had launched a special campaign to strengthen the Dalit section and counter the BSP at the grassroots level in the state. To mobilise this programme, district-level committees had been formed in 17 districts and in the remaining four districts at Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Kapurthala, the committees would come into existence shortly. These committees had also been entrusted to intensify the campaign at block and rural level, said Mr Kalyan.

He alleged that the functioning of the Scheduled Castes and the Land Development Corporation in the state had been ceased and no proper steps had been taken to enhance the wages of the workers.


Badal ‘gaining’ cheap popularity
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 18
Mr Jagjit Singh, Opposition Leader in the Vidhan Sabha, said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had got himself declared as the number one Chief Minister of Punjab through opinion poll conducted by a magazine and a newspaper. Now he was publicising this opinion poll by placing advertisements in daily newspapers to gain cheap popularity.

Mr Jagjit Singh said Mr Badal could not be compared to late Partap Singh Karion and Beant Singh who did commendable work for Punjab and Punjabiat.

Referring to the sangat darshan programmes of Mr Badal, he said Mr Badal was making Punjab bankrupt by distributing public money to consolidate his vote bank.

He pointed out that the state government had decided to make recruitments in various departments keeping in view the forthcoming elections and ministers and MLAs had been assigned the task. He apprehended that they would take huge amounts from aspirants to provide them with jobs. These would be used as party funds for elections, he alleged.

Referring to the registration of cases against those police officers who played a major role in nabbing terrorists, he said such a move would demoralise the police force. He said the Congress came to power it would withdraw all such cases.

He condemned the damaging of the foundation stones laid by Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Congress MLA, at Amloh village on August 15 by Mr Sampuran Singh Cheema, Chairman, Warehouse Corporation, Mahant Ram Parkash Dass, VHP leader, Dal Singh Sandhu, Joginder Minhas, SAD activists, and their supporters.


Gill seeks ticket from Payal
Our Correspondent

Doraha, August 18
Mr Jagjiwan Pal Singh Gill, state Delegate of SAD, has submitted his claim to the party ticket from the Payal Constituency, arguing that he had worked for the welfare of Akali workers and has strong family ties in the area.

Mr Gill along with other party leaders and workers had gone to Payal to pay tributes to Dalip Singh Deepa and three of his companions who were killed 18 years ago in an encounter with the police.

Expressing his claim to the ticket, Mr Gill said the local MLA had been overlooking the interests of Akali workers of the area. Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, minister for technical education, who was present on the occasion, assured senior Akali leaders and workers that they would be given their due.


Stay on Chohan’s arrest extended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
A local court today extended the stay on the arrest of Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chohan till August 31 in a case filed by a local advocate and Pardesh Congress legal cell member. Additional Sessions Judge B.S. Mangat today extended the stay on the arrest of Chohan till August 31. The stay was given after the local counsel of the accused submitted that the main counsel Ranjan Lakhanpal could not appear in the court and that his presence was needed to carry on the proceedings of the case.

Earlier, on August 8 Chohan’s counsel had filed for the stay of arrest of his client claiming documents in the case had to be procured by him. The court had issued notices to the complainant, Jagmohan Singh Saini, and the state of Punjab that the arrest of Chohan should be stayed till August 18.

Before that a local court had issued arrest warrants against the Khalistani ideologue for September 28 on a complaint filed by the local advocate. The court had ordered the police to arrest Saini and produce him in the court on the given date. Besides Mr Saini, two others have also recorded their statements in the case. While the advocate says he was present at a press conference addressed by Chohan in which he made the demand for Khalistan, the other two said they had attended a phone from Chohan following which he had spoken to the advocate and reiterated that he had come back to India to realise his mission of an independent Sikh state.

A complaint had been filed against Chohan under Sections 503, 504, 506, 124 (a) and 153 (a) of the IPC.


Plight of freedom fighters pitiable
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
The plight of freedom fighters continues to be pitiable. Giani Santokh Singh (82) has been putting up at his maternal cousin’s house since several years. He never married as he was involved in the freedom struggle.

In 1936 at the peak of the freedom struggle, he was involved in labour and rail movements. In 1939, he was part of the kisan morcha in Lahore. He also underwent a rigorous prison sentence for one and half years.

Giani Santokh Singh laments that late Chief Minister Partap Singh Kairon had granted him a “bus route” but it was cancelled by the successive governments. He is also a recipient of “tamra patra” (1972).

However, today he is a broken man, at the mercy of his only relative as his plot was “grabbed” by some persons on a false power of attorney. Independence to him means just to receive his continued monthly pension on which he survives, including his medical treatment.

The case of Mr Surinder Singh Sandhu, and another freedom fighter, is no better. He was part of the Goa Liberation Movement and was injured by a Portuguese bullet at “Banda border” in the company of Shaheed Karnail Singh, Shaheed Madhukar Chaudhary and Shaheed Raja Bhau Mahakal on August 15, 1955.

Talking to this correspondent, he said despite the popular belief that India gained freedom in 1947, it had been forgotten that some of the areas attained freedom 14 years after 1947. Till then, the Tricolour was taboo in these areas. Goa was one of them.

He said despite efforts, the Punjab Government paid little attention to Goa freedom fighters while political parties paid homage to Shaheed Karnail Singh annually to gain political mileage. He said other states recognised Goa freedom fighters as per a circular of the Ministry of Home Affairs in 1989 but Punjab continues to neglect them.

“Will we now have to fight for recognition in our own country after having fought in the freedom struggle?” he asks.


Fresh case against undertrial evokes protest
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 18
More than 300 inmates of the local Central Jail today observed fast to protest against registration of a case against Sarabjeet Singh, another inmate, for allegedly assaulting an undertrial and former Punjab police Inspector Gurmeet Singh Pinki yesterday.

Gurmeet Singh Pinki, arrested in a murder case, was being taken to the court of Additional Sessions Judge V.K. Mehta for a hearing yesterday when he was assaulted allegedly by Sarabjeet Singh. However, timely intervention of the jail authorities saved the situation.

Sources said the Head Warden accompanying Pinki raised the alarm. As a result the other jail staff reached the spot and prevented them from fighting. Pinki was later taken to the court for appearance whereas Sarabjeet Singh was reportedly thrashed severely by some undertrials.

The sources said during his tenure as inspector at Jalandhar, Pinki had allegedly implicated Sarabjeet Singh in some cases. Pinki was transferred to the Jalandhar Central Jail last month only.

The fasting inmates, however, demanded that Pinki and his accomplices should be booked for assaulting Sarabjeet Singh and the case registered against the latter under Sections 307 and 34, IPC, withdrawn immediately.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Inspector General of Police, Mr C.S.R. Reddy visited the jail to take stock of the situation.

When contacted, the Superintendent of the Jail, Mr S.K. Kaushal admitted that the inmates had been on fast since last night.


Roadways staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 18
On a call given by the Punjab Roadways Action Committee, employees of Punjab Roadways yesterday held a rally near the main bus stand in protest against non-implementation of the agreement reached between roadways employees and the Punjab Government on August 8, last year.

Addressing the rally, leaders of the committee criticised the government for not implementing their accepted demands. They alleged that the government was not purchasing 300 buses as was agreed upon.

The Minister for Transport, Punjab, while addressing a press conference here on August 15, had asserted that the government would purchase 300 new buses for Punjab Roadways.

They alleged that government was not taking action against the officers who were involved in various corrupt practices and scams which had allegedly pushed the department towards bankruptcy.

It was further alleged that the government was also giving viable and profitable routes and timings to private bus operators while government buses were being plied on unviable routes and unprofitable timings. The government was blindly hiring buses under the kilometre scheme which would add to the losses of the department in future, they alleged.

They also urged the employees to participate in a dharna to be held in front of office of the Director, State Transport, Punjab, in Chandigarh on August 22.

The rally was addressed, among others, by All-India Transport Workers Union (AITUC) Ropar Depot president, Mr Gurdev Singh, general secretary, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Dalbir Singh, Mr Kaka Singh, Mr Sabheg Singh and Mr Dilbagh Singh. They also burnt an effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Report on lathi charge released
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 18
The district unit of the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) which probed into the infamous Maiser Khana lathi charge in which the police had allegedly committed atrocities on activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) released a report in this connection here today.

Mr Satpal Goyal, district general secretary of the association, in the report issued said the dharna by the union activists which resulted in the diversion of traffic from the Bathinda-Mansa route for one week turned into a show of personal enmity with the police authorities.

The activists had staged a dharna in protest against the alleged suicide by Mithu Singh, a farmer of Sandoha village. They alleged that the farmer had committed suicide due to the pressure of an arhtiya from whom the farmer had raised some loans.

The report said on the intervening night of July 15 and 16 a police party raided various places to arrest kisan leaders and the activists at Maur Charat Singh village. The police was obstructed by the villagers. A few days later the villagers manhandled a bodyguard of Mr Gurbaj Singh, Superintendent of Police, and on the same day in the afternoon the party went to the village and lathicharged the villagers. This incident became a prestige issue between the police personnel and the activists, the report added.

On July 24 the police authorities lathicharged the activists who ran towards the village to save themselves. Some of the villagers pelted the police with stones and bricks. Following this, the police entered into the houses of the villagers and beat them up, the report said.

While union leaders have been stating that the farmer had committed suicide due to harassment at the hands of arhtiya, the report said on such proof was noticed by the team who probed into the incident. No conclusive evidence was found that the bank officials or the arhtiya was harassing the farmer, the report said.

The representatives of the association demanded that adequate compensation should be paid to the family of the deceased and that the accounting system of the arhtiyas be made more transparent.


Murder case committed to sessions court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
A special court here today committed the case regarding alleged murder of a Nabha resident by throwing him into a canal by a police official serving presently as a DSP and five other police personnel, including two Assistant Sub-Inspectors of police, to the Sessions Court.

The Special Judicial Magistrate and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today committed the case involving Moonak Rajinderpal Singh Anand, DSP, and four other policemen, ASIs Rajpal Singh, Jasdev Singh and constables Mahinder Singh, Darshan Singh and Vinod Kumar to the Sessions Court. The policemen are accused of murdering Balbir Singh, a resident of Nabha, by throwing him into the canal at the Thuhi waterfall on the outskirts of Nabha.

According to the CBI, Balbir Singh was arrested on July 27, 1996, on allegations of having stolen utensils of the gurdwara in Nabha.

The agency claims that Balbir was tortured and taken to the Thuhi waterfall the next day and dumped into it. The agency claimed that the body was fished out on July 30, 1996.

It said according to a post-mortem it was revealed that Balbir Singh had been tortured before being thrown into the canal and that he was alive at that time.

The agency said to escape responsibility the accused registered a report in Sadar police station at Natha on July 28, 1996, claiming that Balbir Singh had run away from police custody.

Special Magistrate Jaspinder Singh Heyer committed the case to the Session Court for August 29.


Fund paucity hits projects
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Most of the projects carved out by the civic body here for the beautification of the city and for regularising traffic have become a burden owing to lack of funds. These projects include a network of traffic lights and a fountain, which have become non-functional.

Two years back, the civic body had introduced traffic lights at main crossings but these ceased working in a short time following which the traffic police had to be deputed at the crossings.

The administration had spent lakhs of rupees on the traffic-light system. The people of the city also subscribed to this system and started following traffic rules to avoid accidents. But the system has failed and requires repairs including replacement of poles.

The other project which had flopped was the dream fountain installed at Gadi Ahata Chowk. This fountain had become an attraction owing to lights of various hues which got reflected in the water.

The fountain was installed after uprooting small vendors who were doing petty sales sitting in the chowk and along footpaths on the road sides. The fountain stopped functioning after mechanical faults developed in the water circulation and working of lights.


FCI staff call off agitation
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
Following an understanding with the management of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), Executive Staff Union of the corporation has called off its 25 days long agitation. The FCI management agreed in principle to implement the demands of the union at a meeting held between representatives of the union and FCI headquarter management in New Delhi yesterday evening.

Giving this information here today, Mr Gur Hakam Singh, National Secretary (Finance), FCI Executive Staff Union, said the agitation had been called off on the appeal of Mr S. Nigam, Executive Director (Personnel) of the FCI.

He said the FCI management had given in writing to the union that a committee would be constituted by the FCI management on Monday to evaluate the factors responsible for the storage/transit losses and quality complaint procedure as well as other guidelines within three weeks. He also said the management had also assured that 500 posts of the watch and ward staff would be filled in the first phase out of 1,500 sanctioned posts.

Mr Gur Hakam Singh added that the management had also assured to appoint the dependants of the deceased employees on compassionate ground for which instructions should be issued to the zonal managers to complete the process within a month.

The National Secretary (Finance) said the management had fixed September 18 for holding the meeting with the union’s representatives.


PSEB engineers resent government decision
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association today said the recent directive of the state government withdrawing the powers of the board for transfers and postings were violative of Section 79 of the Electricity Supply Act which gave the state electricity board complete autonomy in determining the “duties of officers and other employees of the board, and their salaries, allowances and other conditions of service”.

In a statement here, the general secretary of the association, Mr Anil Miglani, said since the Electricity Supply Act, 1948, was an Act of Parliament and had statutory power, no authority could override it. He said since the PSEB was constituted as an autonomous body under the Act, the functioning of the board was to be governed by the statutes contained therein and there was no justification for the board to surrender and abrogate its responsibilities given under the Act.

The association regretted that the board management had shown extreme weakness and failed to defend the statutory autonomy of the board.

The association leader said similarly in the matter of financial bankruptcy, the board had surrendered to tariff discretion of the government particularly on subsidised power which was causing the rate of return to be in the range of minus 30 per cent whereas Section 59 of Electricity Supply Act made it mandatory for the board to earn a minimum of three per cent surplus every year.

He said in case the board management continued to surrender at every step to the directives which were in clear violation of the Act, it would result in collapse of the financial and technical performance of the board and seriously affect the power supply and service to customers of the state. In a bid to bridge the gap between revenue and expenditure, the board had been desperately raising funds through market loans that had put it in a vicious debt trap with staggering debt burden of over Rs 4,000 crore and department service liability of Rs 1,400 crore per year.


PSEB panel flays board authorities
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, August 18
Members of the Punjab State Electricity Board Employee’s Federation (Zirakpur Circle) have criticised the board authorities for suspending two employees of the local subdivision.

The union has threatened to launch a agitation if the authorities do not reinstate the employees.

Earlier, the board had suspended two employees - Ravinder Raman, a lower divisional clerk and Gian Chand, a meter reader, for their negligence in collecting pending electricity bills of a Dhakauli village-based hotel.

While talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Kulbhushan Joshi, president of the federation, said that the boards employees visited the hotel repeatedly and tried to collect the bills from Mr Kamaljit Singh, owner of the hotel, but found him absent every time. He was then given electricity bills on a flat rate basis but those too were not accepted by the hotel owner.

The president further claimed that Kamaljit Singh was also served two notices for disconnection of the electricity in case he further delayed in making payment of bills.

Ignoring the efforts of the employees, the board authorities were unnecessarily harassing them, he alleged.


Copy of holy book burnt
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 18
Guru Granth Sahib kept in a kutcha room owned by a Buddha Dal activist at Pakho Kalan village about 20 km from here, was burnt this morning in an attempt to get the premises vacated.

It was learnt that Mehar Singh owing allegiance to Baba Singh’s Buddha Dal built a kutcha room on the plot number 707 owned by him about two years ago and kept a ‘bir’ in the room. He stayed there along with his son Tota Singh and a granthi, Chattar Bhuji.

A resident of the village Pritam Singh and member of his family, who allegedly burnt the bir, also manhandled and thrashed Tota Singh yesterday.

Mehar Singh went to Talwandi Sabo to complain to Baba Santa Singh regarding the matter.

Taking advantage of his absence Pritam Singh’s sons allegedly broke open the door and set the ‘bir’ on fire.

They allegedly wanted to grab the land.

The SSP, Mr Ajaib Singh Kaleka, visited the spot. He said a case under Sections 295, 436, 148 and 149, had been registered at the Tapa police station against Bhuppa Singh, Pappu Singh, Major Singh, Jagga Singh and Tej Kaur. Four persons had so far been rounded up, he added.


CMs’ visit boon for villagers
Our Correspondent

Panjkosi (Abohar), August 18
The visit of Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala to his in-laws’ village, Panjkosi, along with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today resulted in the release of grants for different development works for which the residents had been trying hard for past four years.

The tiny street which links Mr Chautala’s in-laws’ residence with the main road of this politically important village, was given a premix carpet only yesterday. A sanitation drive was launched all-around.

Workers were still trying to remove silt outside Panjkosi when the Chief Ministers arrived at 1 p.m. The water tanker of the local Market Committed was seen sprinkling water at 4 p.m. after the long cavalcade had left for Beganwali village where Mr Chautala was to visit his relatives along with Mr Badal.

The Punjab Chief Minister issued cheques for Rs 5 lakh each for remodelling the sub-canal, renovation of rural water works and repair of streets and drains at Panjkosi village. These were the three major demands placed before Mr Badal by Mr Chautala’s son-in-law, Mr Aad Lal Jakher, and other residents of the village.

The Chief Ministers were received by Mr Jakhar, President, Mr Sat Pal Khariwal, General Secretary, and Mr Bhim Sain Jaat, Secretary of the state unit of the INLD and district president Sehdev Sharma.

Leaders of the INLD submitted a memorandum to Mr Badal reminding him of the late Devi Lal’s social and political affiliation with Abohar subdivision. The memorandum said the building of an ITI had yet to be completed on the Abohar-Sriganganagar bypass even after four years.

Mr Badal accompanied Mr Chautala to Ramsara village where he announced upgradation of Government High School and sanctioned a grant of Rs 10 lakh, besides giving Rs 10,000 to students. The Punjab Chief Minister arrives at Panjkosi village near Abohar on Saturday.


Sirsa river ravaged 55 acres : DC
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 18
The flashfloods in the Sirsa river on August 14 ravaged 55 acres in Aspur, Taraf, Awaskot and Kowal villages situated near here. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, who visited these villages, told the correspondent that 15 acres had been washed away in the floods while crops on another 40 acres were also ravaged. A survey to assess the loss would be conducted by the revenue authorities and relief would be provided to the affected people, he said.

Mr Grewal further said damage had been caused due to the change in course of the Sirsa river near these villages. Due to the sharp turn, whenever the river was flooded the banks got eroded which led to the flooding of the adjoining areas.

He urged the Drainage Department officials to work out the estimates for straightening the sharp curve in the river course to avoid such incidents in future. He also appealed to the villagers who own land on the banks of the river to voluntarily donate the land for straightening the said curve.


Haemoglobin check-up camp
Our Correspondent

Patiala August 18
City girl students were found to be possessing a haemoglobin level much below the requirements, according to a survey conducted by the Dedicated Brothers group here.

Out of 214 girl students of Government Girl High School, only 46 girls has a normal haemoglobin level. All the others had the HB level much below set parameters.

Mr Joginder Singh Khandari inaugurated the project while president of the Agarwal Sabha, Mr Madan Lal Mangal, was the guest of honour.

Mr Khandari awarded the girls who secured first division in Class VIII and assured that scholarship would be given to around to girls from poor background.


Directive on case against MLA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 18
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the police and the civil authorities not to withdraw a case, registered against an SAD MLA, Manmohan Singh Sathiala, at Lehragaga police station for allegedly slapping and pushing to the ground Ranjit Singh, a Punjab police constable, on September 29, 2000, when he was on duty during the Sunam Assembly byelection at a booth at Daska village. Highly placed sources while confirming the direction yesterday added said the commission had directed the Sangrur authorities not to withdraw the case till further orders.


Statue of Mahatma Gandhi immersed
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 18
A headless statue of Mahatma Gandhi which was found lying in debris on the Kherra road here on July 31 was finally immersed in the Sutlej here on Friday by freedom fighter Kali Charan Sood and some Congressmen amidst the chanting of Veda mantras.


Cong leader dead
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Mr Khushi Ram Mehta, a senior Congress leader and former member of the PPCC, died here today due to cardiac arrest.

Mr Kushi Ram, father of Mr Anil Bhola, president, city Congress unit, was 72. He is survived by two sons and four daughters.


Threat to boycott paddy procurement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
The Punjab State Foodgrain Agencies Field Employees Co-ordination Committee today threatened to boycott paddy procurement in case their demands were not met by August 31.

Addressing a press conference here, association spokesman Ashwani Kumar said the demands of the unions included necessary amendments in Punjab government’s paddy policy. He said the word “joint custody” should be scrapped and only supervisory responsibility be entrusted to field employees regarding paddy stored for custom milling at private rice mills. Due to this non-practical joint custody, rice millers try to bring the onus on the field employees even after embezzling huge stocks of paddy and rice and the employees were being harassed.

He added that rice millers should be the lone custodian of the paddy stored in mills and for that necessary matching bank guarantees be obtained from the millers. The government should do away to hand over paddy stocks worth crores by merely accepting a security of Rs 50,000 from the millers.

Mr Ashwani Kumar said paddy should be stored by the agency employees only at demarcated places with proper storage infrastructure. Hundreds of agency employees were already facing illegal charge sheets on various accounts. He demanded immediate withdrawal of these charge sheets.

He said the storage of paddy at private rice mills should commence only after the execution of agreements, and agency heads at district level should be held responsible and accountable for all formalities. Field employees are only a witness to the agreements done at the district level.

Besides this, the employees’ leader emphasised that the need for arranging movement of about 1.5 mt of wheat lying with the state agencies in Punjab (excluding the FCI) pertaining to the parts four crops since 1998-99. The stocks are deteriorating day by day. The government should arrange for scientific covered storage space in the state in terms of longer storage periods. Amendments should be made in “bardana” replacement norms as due to longer storage “bardana” texture is affected by weather, insects and rats.

The employees have alleged that the gunnies, wooden crates, polythene covers and sheets by the agencies’ managements were substandard and warned that employees should not be allowed to suffer.


Bollworm: farmers plough crop
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
With the weather playing truant, cotton growers of the region have started ploughing their standing crop as they find themselves left with no other option due to huge infestation of cotton plants with American bollworm.

Though the uprooting of the standing cotton plants in the region started a few days ago, the situation might become alarming if the trend continued in the absence of proper arrangement made by the authorities concerned.

Finding themselves unable to control the bollworm menace even after spraying the fields a number of times with expensive pesticides and insecticides, the growers have been taking the ploughing of the standing crop as the best option to save themselves from further loss.

State Agriculture Department sources said last month farmers ploughed up cotton crop on 20,000 hectares in the cotton belt of the state comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Sangrur, Moga Muktsar, Ferozepore and Faridkot districts.

With the region being lashed by continued rains, excessive humidity in the air facilitated the infestation of bollworm in the cotton plants.

Some cotton growers with whom TNS talked to said they had been hoping a good yield this season as the weather remained conducive during the sowing period of cotton. Things turned bad for them when the rains continued to lash the region.

Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, general secretary, PPCC, said the Punjab Government should carry out a special survey of the loss caused to the cotton crop and then suitably compensate the growers. He alleged that the menace of bollworm and other post attacks could not be controlled as the markets had been flooded with spurious pesticides and insecticides.

The Agriculture Department sources said due to the uprooting of the standing cotton crop, the target to produce 17.5 lakh bales this year could not be met. They added that the area under cotton crop this year was more than the area brought under cotton crop last year.

Sources added that the surveillance teams of Punjab Agriculture University and state Agriculture Department had toured various parts of the cotton belt so that immediate action for checking the menace of any attack on cotton crop could be taken.


BKU morcha launch today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
The Bharti Kisan Union, Punjab, headed by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, will launch a peaceful ‘morcha’ from Akal Takht against the state and Central governments on August 19 against their alleged ‘anti-farmer’ policies.

Mr Lakhowal said that though the BKU had supported the ruling SAD during the previous Assembly and parliamentary elections, but non-fulfilment of the demands of farmers had forced the union to give a second thought on this issue.

Mr Manjit Singh Qadian and Mr Bhupinder Singh Maheshwari, general secretaries of the union, alleged that due to the wrong policies, farmers had to commit suicide. They alleged that more than 1,000 farmers had committed suicide during the SAD-BJP government Mr Lakhowal said the state government should rescue farmers by announcing different measures to improve their economic conditions, instead of giving grants to kin of those who commit suicide. He said his union would support that political party which promises to accept all genuine demands of farmers. 


Accept demands, stenos urge CM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 18
In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Punjab, the Punjab State Stenographers Coordination Committee and PSEB Stenographers Union have demanded the acceptance of their demands.

In a press note issued here today, Mr M.P. Jain, co-convener of the committee, said in the memorandum that it was specifically brought to the notice of Mr Parkash Singh Badal that though their demand of withdrawal of the conditional test of passing second language stenography test by stenotypists was accepted by him (Mr Badal), but even after several months, the board had not implemented it.

He further said the Punjab Pay Commission and PSEB Pay Revision and Anomalies Committee had done injustice to them by lowering their pay scales vis-a vis other categories.


Businessman shot dead, another hurt
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 18
A businessman was shot dead and another person accompanying him was seriously injured when two unidentified persons fired at them near Indira Market here. They took away their bag containing about Rs 3 lakh cash.

The deceased has been identified as Krishan Kumar, hailing from Amritsar. He was in the town to collect money from the local traders.

Sources reveal that Krishan Kumar, a wholesale grocery merchant was a regular visitor to the town for the past 10 to 12 years and used to come to the town weekly for the collection of money. The injured has been identified as Satpal Chabbra, who is also a local grocery merchant.

According to information, Krishan Kumar and Satpal were going to the house of a local shopkeeper, Madan Lal, when two masked persons fired at them killing Krishan Kumar on the spot.

The incident, the first of its kind, has sent shock waves among the residents, who gathered to protest against the killing. Traders closed their shops in protest and demanded arrest of the culprits. Mr Subhash Aggarwal, senior BJP leader, condemned the killing and demanded action by the police.


Landlord shot dead
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 18
A landlord was shot dead at Lallian Khurd village near here today.

The deceased, Darshan Singh (48), and his son Gurpreet were on way to their fields at around 5.30 a.m. on their bicycles when they saw a white Tata Sumo on the village Kutcha road. As soon as Darshan Singh reached near the vehicle the accused, who was standing on the other side of the vehicle, fired two shots from point blank range, seriously injuring his father, Gurpreet said.

Shocked at the development of events he ran to inform his family, who took the injured, Darshan Singh, to the local Civil Hospital, where he succumb to his injuries.

Senior police officials, including Mr Rajiv Ahir, SP (City) and Mr D.S. Uppal, DSP, reached the place of incident at around 7 a.m. According to sources, the police has questioned Santokh Singh, elder son of deceased, who was annoyed with his father over the transfer of a part of the family land to the younger son.


2 brothers held for murder
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 18
The Tanda police has registered a case under Sections 302, 307 and 34, IPC, against Kewal Singh and his borther Gulzar Singh of Khun Khun Kalan village for murdering Amrik Singh and injuring his wife and brother of Talla village yesterday.

According to the FIR, Amrik Singh along with his wife Lakhwinder Kaur and brother Tarnjit Singh were on their way on two scooters to Bagpur Sataur to meet their relatives. On the way, they were spotted by Kewal Singh and his brother. The two rammed their jeep (PCR 8871) into their scooters near Kurala and assaulted them with swords.

Kewal Singh also fired from his 12 bore gun. As a result, Amrik Singh died on the spot while his wife and Tarnjit Singh were grievously wounded.


SSD girls celebrate ‘saawan’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 18
‘Aaya saawan jhoom ke’ was the title of the function organised by the local SSD College for Girls today.

College students and staff members celebrate major festivals every year.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister of the state, was the chief guest.

The function started with a dance sequence on a religious song. The girls also took part in the ‘Mehndi lagao’ competition.

About 10 teams took part in the dance competition.

The final item was the dress competition. Participants presented themselves in traditional Punjabi dresses and jewellery.

The active participation of the audience motivated the participants.

Mr Garg announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the college.

Varneet Kaur of plus two was declared the winner of the dress competition. Serveen Kaur and Sukhpreet Kaur came second and third, respectively.

Deepika of plus two won the mehndi competition.

In the group dance competition, Mandeep Kaur and her team was declared the winner.


Agitated students block traffic
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
Agitated students, who had come to attend the second round of counselling for admission to the B.Ed. course of Punjabi University, today blocked traffic on the Patiala-Rajpura road for nearly two hours besides raising slogans against the university management when many of them were told they were not eligible for admission.

At least 4,000 students from various parts of the state had come to the university campus today to take part in the counselling session. Students got agitated when the varsity authorities refused to entertain students who had only Mathematics or Economics as subjects at the graduation-level. The university had, through an advertisement, asked science students desiring to take admission in the B.Ed. course to come for the counselling session.

According to sources, while the varsity, in its advertisement, had invited the students who had Mathematics or Economics as subjects at the graduation-level, the university authorities today said only students who had graduated in both the subjects were eligible.

Pleas of the varsity authorities that a mistake in printing had led to the understanding did not make any impression on the students as well as their parents who had been affected by the printing mistake. Such students and parents first raised slogans against the university administration and then blocked the road in front of the varsity. The dharna continued for nearly two hours before it was lifted after the intervention of the police.

Meanwhile, the varsity authorities said they had called eligible students for counselling again on August 20. They said a new list would be put up to end confusion in the matter. The authorities also disclosed that there was no question of filling up the reserved quota without calling the eligible students for recounselling.

The students, who were rendered ineligible due to the new guidelines, were, however, a dejected lot. Sanjeev Kumar from Ludhiana said many of them had to suffer financially for no fault of theirs. Others, including Rajnikant from Balachaur and Ranjana from Hoshiarpur, said the entire counselling procedure was botched up with students not being guided properly.

Meanwhile, the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad claimed that their varsity unit convenor Sandeep Kapoor was roughed up by the police even though he was present on the spot only as a well-wisher of the affected students. The ABVP said it would jointly protest against the injustice meted out to Kapoor along with other student organisations.


Butterfly research awaits funds
Anita Tayal

The Zoology Department of Punjabi University, which has a large collection of rare butterflies, finds research in this field weighed down for want of funds.

The collection comprises 52 species collected from the botanical garden of the university. Another 74 species have been obtained from different parts of Punjab. Experts of the department have identified 500 species for detailed study.

The experts are demanding funds from the government to compile a book on this subject. They claim that they posses all details of the life circle and other essential details of butterflies but lack funds to give concrete form to their study and research.

The department has more than 500 species of butterflies and more than 1,000 species of moths. Experts at the university claim that there still are pockets where more species can be found.

Apart from the genetic structures which serve as an acid test for the identification of butterflies, other characteristics are the wing pattern, tongue and morphological traits.

The butterfly collection of the Zoology Department has been obtained from different regions of north-western Himalayan ranges such as Spiti, Losar, Chitkul, Sangla Valley, Pangi and Ziro Valley. The experts have collected these species after facing considerable difficulties. At times they had to walk several kilometres to spot the host plant.

According to Dr H.S. Rose, Professor (Entomology), the main problem is to detect the larvel host plant of the butterflies on which the caterpillar feeds and on attaining adult stage, lays its eggs. ‘‘These species can be conserved if, apart from the life history of these butterflies, the larvel host plant is also known, so that more such plants can be planted and the species saved from extinction’’, said Dr Rose.

The species lying in Department include Apollo (collected beyond 12,000 feet), Kaisar-I-Hind and Blue Peacock (rated most beautiful), Bhutan glory, Dragon Tail and Bird Wings (rare species in India) apart from others called Maniola, Swallow Tail, Kallima, Sailor, Lycaenidae, Freyeria and Tarucus.


Non-teaching staff hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 18
Non-teaching employees of the local DAV college today went on a stay-in strike and sat on a dharna in front of the office of the Principal.

In a press note issued here today by Mr B.K. Sharma, unit secretary of the Non-teaching Employees Union, said that the call for strike was given by the Private College Non-Teaching Employees Union. The employees are demanding payment of arrears in one instalment and in revised grades, payment of pension, gratuity and house rent allowance at revised rates.


UGC coaching classes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
The IAS and Allied Services Training Centre of Punjabi University would organise coaching classes for the UGC National Eligibility Test (NET) on Punjabi University campus at the end of August. Giving this information, Dr G.S. Bajwa, Director of the training centre, said coaching would be provided in Economics, History, Political Science, Geography, Punjabi, Law, Public Administration, Commerce, Hindi, Sociology, Psychology, English, Library Science and Sanskrit.

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