Thursday, August 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



UK jatha refuses kar seva
Finds SGPC resolution unacceptable
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

 Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib located in Pakistan
Gurdwara Sri Kartarpur Sahib located in Pakistan.

Amritsar, August 22
Even as Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (United Kingdom) which had carried out gold-plating of the Golden Temple has expressed its inability to accept the kar seva of gilding the dome and “palki” of Dera Baba Nanak, Sachkhand Guru Nanak Asthan (Gurdaspur), as per a resolution passed by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), the Canada-based Guru Nanak Shrine Fellowship (GNSF) has offered to construct a corridor across the Indo-Pak border so that pilgrims from India could visit Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan) without passport.

Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak (India) and Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib (Pakistan), built in memory of Guru Nanak are a few kilometres away from each other. While the Government of Pakistan and the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) had offered to construct the corridor, the SGPC had passed a unanimous resolution through which the Government of India was urged to reciprocate the “gesture” of Pakistan. The Akal Purkh ki Fauj and Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, President of the SAD (Democratic) had organised rallies at Dera Baba Nanak recently with a view to forcing India to take up the matter with Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the GNSF has appointed Dr Ranjit Singh Bajwa, head of the Department of Punjab, Guru Nanak Dev University, director (Honorary). The GNSF has also sent a detailed programme for carrying out kar seva at Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib.

The GNSF has also sent communications to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf, and Punjab Government for carrying out the kar seva for constructing the corridor so that devotees could visit the Sikh shrine without any hassle.

The GNSF said compared to the long circuitous route via Wagah, Lahore and Narowal, the corridor passage across India and Pakistan would make it easier for the devotees.

Mr Teja Singh, founding director and president of the GNSF, wrote to Mr Vajpayee and President Musharraf, saying that citizens of both countries were looking forward to the official opening of the corridor.

Kartarpur is an important place where Guru Nanak’s body was claimed by both Hindus and Muslims as they regarded him as their guru and “pir,” respectively. A samadhi and a tomb exist side by side and are an everlasting testimony and tribute to the teachings of Guru Nanak.

Meanwhile, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (United Kingdom) in a letter addressed to the Secretary, SGPC, said the kar seva for gold-plating of Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak was given without its consent. Hence, it expressed its inability to undertake the work as per the resolution passed by the Shiromani committee. Baba Mahinder Singh of the jatha said the kar seva could not be undertaken till the completion of the gilding work of the Golden Temple and Takht Hazoor Sahib (Maharashtra). However, the jatha has prepared a preliminary feasibility study for the gilding of the dome and “palki” of Gurdwara Dera Baba Nanak. The town of Dera Baba Nanak is situated on the left bank of the Ravi, on the Indo-Pak border.


Pension scheme for private college teachers
by month-end
Chitleen K Sethi

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Having waited for more than 11 years, teachers of 4500-odd private aided colleges of the state will, by the end of this month, be entitled to receive pension and gratuity when they retire.

Reliable sources state that the Punjab CM is taking personal interest in expediting the implementation of the scheme. If all goes well, the scheme should be through by the end of this month. There are many others who feel that the teachers still ought to keep their fingers crossed.

Following an undertaking given by the Punjab Government to the Punjab and Haryana High Court that they will be implementing the scheme within three months, i.e. before November 1, and pressure from various teacher unions, the CM had showed interest in the matter and asked Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, to expedite the matter.

Earlier, at a meeting of the Director Public Instructions, Colleges, Punjab, with leaders of the college unions, the total amount received from college managements which was to be made the corpus for the fund had been decided amounting to a figure close to Rs 86 crore. However, it is the learnt that after the file left the office of the DPI Colleges it had been doing rounds of the Finance Department. And till yesterday, the file was with the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr Bhagat Singh. According to sources in his office the file is under active consideration and will be sent to the Chief Secretary in a day or two.

The pension scheme for private college teachers of the state has been approved, accepted and notified by two governments in the past 10 years, waiting to be implemented.

In 1990, a notification of the Punjab Government said private college teachers would be given pension in lieu of the Contributory Provident Fund by the managements of the colleges. The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) protested against this and demanded that the pension should be given by the Punjab Government and not the college managements. This issue which affected more than 140 private colleges of Punjab was raised in the manifestoes of the Congress and SAD in the Assembly elections.

The Congress came to power then and Dr Kewal Krishan, the then Finance Minister, announced in the Punjab Assembly on April 3, 1992, that all private college teachers would get pension. A committee comprising the Finance Minister, the Education Minister, the Finance Secretary and the Education Secretary of the state was formed to look into the matter. In March 1995, the Finance Bill introduced in the Assembly accepted the pension scheme and on January 3, 1996, the Council of Ministers passed the scheme.

In February, 1996, the Finance Department gave its concurrence to the scheme and sent information to all college principals to deposit the CPF in the government treasury. On December 19, 1996, the Punjab Government sent a detailed notification to all colleges concerned for immediate action. It also asked teachers for their options as the cut-off date was April 1, 1992. This notification included in its purview, the non-teaching staff of the colleges as well.

After the next elections, the SAD-BJP alliance came into power in February, 1997, and rejected the demand, considering it as the Congress’s baby’. However, no public statement was made on the issue. The teachers staged many agitations, dharnas and strikes in colleges. More than 30 executive members of the PCCTU and the National Secretary of the AIFUCTO were jailed at Burail from January 26 to March 3, 1998.

In April 1998, the Punjab Government issued an executive order that it was pleased to implement the pension scheme according to the order of December 18, 1996, for teaching and non-teaching staff. Managements of all private colleges were urged to deposit the Contributory Provident Fund share along with an interest in the Government Treasury. However, many college principals failed to send the money on time.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister introduced the bill regarding the pension-cum-gratuity scheme in the Vidhan Sabha on March 30, 1999. The Bill was unanimously brought under the Act of the Assembly. The Governor of Punjab signed the Act on April 17, 1999, and this was notified on April 26, 1999.

After this nothing was done till the time the PCCTU intensified its agitation and several meeting and memorandums later and following strict directions to college managements, the DPI colleges collected the corpus for the implementation of the scheme.


7 booked in Shagun scheme scam
Deputy Commissioner orders probe
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 22
The police has registered cases against seven persons of Raiya village of the district for their alleged involvement in drawing money from the government exchequer under the shagun scheme. The case have been registered under Sections 406, 420, 467, 468, 470, 471 and 120-B, IPC. Two of the accused namely Gurcharan Singh, alias Charna Singh, a panchayat member, and Nahar Singh have been arrested.

The other accused in the case are Bhola Singh, Dalip Kaur, Bhura Singh, Binder Singh and Bhuro Kaur. All of them are said to have derived benefits under the shagun scheme of the state government by giving false information about the marital status of some girls for whose marriages cheques for Rs 51,00 each were given to them.

Meanwhile, Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, has ordered an inquiry into the bunglings in the distribution of cheques to those who were not eligible for getting benefits under the scheme. The inquiry will be conducted by Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and he has been instructed to give his report within seven days.

An official press note said Mr Bant Singh, one of the panchayat members of Raiya village, had written to the SDM, Rampura Phul, about the alleged in getting the cheques under the scheme by six persons of the village. The SDM asked the Tehsildar, Rampura Phul, to conduct an inquiry into the incident.

During the inquiry, it was found that some residents of Raiya village, in connivance with Gurcharan Singh, a panchayat member, had received cheques for Rs 5,100 each for the marriages of those girls who were married before April 1, 1997, when the scheme was launched.

Official sources said one of the beneficiaries, Bhola Singh, had confessed before the inquiry Officer that he did not know what was written in the application form which were filled in his name by Gurcharan Singh. He said Gurcharan Singh had misled him in the matter, adding that the Sarpanch of the village, Mrs Jaspal Kaur, had attested all documents.

Mr Ratnam said these beneficiaries had been asked to deposit the amount drawn under the scheme by giving false information.

He said Gurcharan Singh took half the amount given to such beneficiaries. Gurcharan Singh had misled these claimants, he added. The Deputy Commissioner said if any official or employee of the department was found guilty after the inquiry, stern action would be taken against him.


Row over ration depot allotment
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Even as the dust raised by the shagun scheme scam is yet to settle down, another controversy has erupted over the decision of the state Food and Supplies Department authorities to hold fresh interviews of the applicants for allotment of ration depots (fair price shops) in the city.

Eyebrows are being raised in official as well as political circles over this move of the Food and Supplies Department as it is being alleged that fresh interviews were being conducted to extend “favours” to selected persons as the Assembly elections were round the corner.

Official sources said more than two years ago, the committee constituted for the interview of applicants for allotment of ration depots had done the same. However, no list of those who were then allotted the ration depots was released.

The sources added that the fresh interviews were being held on August 24. A committee headed by Mr Kurnesh Sharma, Deputy Director, Food and Supplies Department, Punjab, would conduct the interviews.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that there were 687 applicants for the allotment of 64 ration depots in the city. Two deputy directors had been changed in the department ever since the interviews of the applicant were held for the first time.

Though the officials of the department admitted that ration depots should have been allotted to those candidates who were on the merit, but now, they said, a fresh merit list would be prepared and ration depots would allotted accordingly.

A section of applicants, on condition of anonymity, alleged that now the ration depots would be allotted to those applicants who would ensure their support to the SAD-BJP alliance candidates in the coming Assembly elections. They added that merit list would be based on “political connections” of the applicant.

Mr Kurnesh Sharma, Deputy Director, when contacted, said it was legally wrong to make a merit list on the basis of recommendations made by the committee which had already interviewed the applicants. He added that a fresh merit list would be prepared as per norms fixed for the allotment of ration depots.

He denied that fresh interviews were being held keeping in view the coming Assembly elections, adding that it had nothing to do with the elections.

The sources revealed that earlier, the depots could not be allotted to the deserving candidates as there was a difference of opinion between two ministers over the list of selected candidates. The department authorities also claimed that applicants had been showing little interest to get the ration depots allotted after the quota of kerosene oil had been decreased to 5,000 litres from 25,000 litres.

The matter of allotment of ration depots has figured time and again in the various official meetings held for the redressal of grievances of people.


Punjab silent on basmati issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
While a heated debate has been going on in Parliament for the past two days over the basmati issue, Punjab, which gave this variety of rice to the world, remains indifferent to the issue.

It has shown no concern at all in this connection. Neither the Punjab Government nor any official of the state Agriculture Department has yet reacted to the recent development.

It is a recognised fact that basmati was evolved in undivided Punjab before Partition. In fact, experts say that its origin in this part of the world can be traced several centuries back.

In undivided Punjab, before Partition, basmati used to be sown in the Sialkot belt, the Amritsar-Gurdaspur-Hoshiarpur area and also in certain parts of the Karnal- Kaithal belt which has now become a part of Haryana. After the reorganisation of Punjab, Haryana along with Uttar Pradesh has become popular as a basmati growing states. At present basmati of the doon valley is said to be the best in the world in the matter of aroma and flavour.

Ordinary varieties of rice have become more popular with Punjab farmers than basmati in recent years. Out of 22.50 lakh hectares under paddy this year, hardly 1.5 lakh hectares is under basmati in the Amritsar-Gurdaspur-Talwara belt. In fact the Punjab Agriculture Department has been trying hard for the past few years to enhance the area under basmati in the state. This year farmers were motivated at several places, especially in the Ludhiana belt, to increase the area under basmati. However, success was limited on this front.

Basmati, obviously king among all dining table varieties of rice, is most prone to attack by pests. And its yield level is low compared to ordinary varieties which are far less susceptible to attack by pests and insects. Owing this, farmers in Punjab shifted to the ordinary varieties of rice.

Punjab and even Haryana depended on the 370 variety of basmati for several years. It was popular as desi basmati. A few decades ago a Pakistani variety of basmati, the 385 variety, became popular in this part of the country. However, later it was renamed basmati 386. Haryana sows this variety under the name of travery. This variety has a better length of grain, on the basis of which its price is determined in the international market. It is said that Europeans give preference to the length of the grain than to its flavour and aroma. Climatic conditions in this region suit basmati the most. It needs a cool temperature at the ripening stage. In Punjab it is transplanted in July and harvested in the last week of October with the onset of the winter.

Experts at Punjab Agricultural University, when contacted for comment on the basmati controversy, said the Union Government should inform all state governments, especially Punjab and Haryana, about the genetic material of the basmati patented by the Texas based Rice Tech company.

If that genetic material differed from the basmati varieties sown in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, then it would not have any adverse effect on the basmati grown in this part of the country. But if the genes of the basmati variety patented by the US firm matched with those of Indian varieties, there could be problems for Indian basmati in the long run in the international market. After remaining silent for some years, the US firm could again rake up the issue asking for the stopping of trade in Indian basmati in the international market. The Union Government should release the genetic data relating to the US basmati patented there. India exported basmati worth Rs 90 crore to the USA last year. This is expected to increase it Rs 120 crore this year.


DTO questioned for graft
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 22
Officials of the Vigilance Bureau here today rounded up Deepak Raj Garg, District Transport Officer (DTO), Sangrur, and arrested his driver, Baldev Singh, a havildar, and Happy, in a corruption case. The DTO was, however, allowed to go home this evening by the Vigilance authorities.

Mr Balwinder Singh Negi, a member of the local Tempo Union Tata 407, had lodged a complaint against the DTO and the driver with the Vigilance Bureau alleging that they have demanded Rs 10,000 as “wagar” from him.

On his complaint, officials of the Vigilance Bureau laid a trap in the office of the DTO, and recovered Rs 10,000 from the driver, Baldev Singh. Mr Ranjit Singh Dhillon, DSP, talking to mediapersons, said the driver had taken Rs 10,000 from Mr Negi on the directions of the DTO. The DTO had been rounded up and permission had been sought from the government to take action against him, he added.

Mr Neelkanth Avhad, SDM, Sangrur, and Mr B.S. Shergill, Executive Engineer, were present as independent witnesses on the occasion.

Mr Dhillon said here tonight that Mr Garg had joined the investigations in this case. So, he had been allowed to go while his driver, Baldev Singh, and Happy would be produced in a court tomorrow.


FCI to set up panel on transit losses
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
In an important decision, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has decided to constitute a committee to evaluate factors responsible for storage and transit losses and complaints regarding the quality of foodgrains. The committee will make recommendations on these issues on the basis of which new norms and parameters for the same would be laid down.

The FCI took this decision after it was brought to its notice by representatives of the FCI Executive Staff Union that there were several instances when action was taken against the field staff by district managers (DMs) and senior regional managers (SRMs) without following due procedure with regard to determination of storage and transit losses, official sources said.

Mr S. Nigam, Executive Director (Personnel), FCI, in a letter to Mr Vinod Kumar, general secretary, FCI Executive Staff Union, said it had been brought to its notice that DMs and SRMs had been issuing charge sheets to their staff and ordering recovery of penalty for losses without following the due procedure.

He said the guidelines issued and parameters prescribed were not being observed uniformly by various DMs and SRs. Therefore, there was a need to reconsider these.

He said the committee to be constituted for this task would have close interaction with FCI unions and would seek their recommendation and suggestions with regard to norms and guidelines for such losses.

The committee would start work immediately and submit its recommendations within three weeks. Based on these recommendations, fresh guidelines, whenever necessary, would be issued.

He pointed out that a direction would be issued to DMs and SRMs to follow the guidelines and procedure before assessing storage and transit losses.

Whenever any action was warranted, the DMs and SRMs were expected to issue a show-cause notice. He said with regard to the demand of the union for fresh recruitment of the watch and ward staff, it had been intimated that the management would take up the matter vigorously with the Government of India.

As regard to appointments, on compassionate grounds instructions would be issued to zonal managers to complete the process within a month. Mr Megh Raj, president, and Mr Ajit Kumar Bawa, secretary, FCI Executive Staff Union, Punjab, said the union had deferred its countrywide strike planned for August 27.


Ads about Badal misleading: Khiala
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 22
Mr Baldev Singh Khiala, MLA and rebel Akali leader, said yesterday that advertisements that appeared recently in newspapers, portraying Mr Parkash Singh Badal as the best Chief Minister Punjab had ever were misleading.

Talking to this correspondent, he said the survey conducted by an English weekly which formed the basis of the claim, was also doubtful.

He said it was possible that Badal loyalists might have published only that portion of the survey which suited them.

Mr Badal was the only Chief Minister in whose rule more than 30,000 arms licences were given by giving the rules a go-by. Some of those who had got the licences were lodged in jails, he alleged.

Commenting on red tape, he said it had crossed all limits in the past four years.

He said that unemployment during the present government tenure had been all time high. He said if the number of unemployed youths was to be considered as a criteria, Mr Badal deserved number one position.

He said a baptised Sikh should not indulge in activities that degrade the institution of Akal Takht.

He said Mr Badal had violated the verdicts of Akal Takht several times.


DCC appointments ‘not valid’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Capt Amarinder Singh President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), has taken a serious view of the list of office-bearers of the district unit announced by the District Congress Committee, Muktsar.

Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, General Secretary of the PPCC, said that all appointments of the office-bearers at district level could be announced after the approval by the President of the PPCC. She said that the appointments made by DCC at Muktsar were not valid. The presidents of the District units had been told to submit the list of office-bearers of their units to the PPCC President, Capt Amarinder Singh, for approval, she added.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh, has suspended Ms Kusum Sharma, a Municipal Councillor of Phagwara from the primary membership of the party with immediate effect for violating the party discipline.


Akalis, Congress to ‘blame for waters muddle’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Maheshinder Singh Grewal, former Punjab Ministers, today said that both the Akalis and the Congress were to blame for the river waters muddle. Merely apportioning blame to each other would not help.

In a joint statement, the two MLAs said had the Vidhan Sabha taken up a discussion on the issue, because of which pandemonium prevailed in the House, both parties would have been exposed for their overt and covert actions in the past.

Moreover Thursday was “non-official” day and two resolutions, moved by them, were listed for discussion. These pertained to the non-transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab and the government stand on the issue of granting some “relief” to police personnel facing trial and investigation for their conduct during the period of militancy.

All these would have embarrassed both the Akalis and the Congress. By creating a situation warranting adjournment, the government had managed to wriggle out and the Congress too got a face-saver, the statement added.


Sheelam Sohi starts campaign
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, August 22
Accepting the requests of the public and Congress workers to lead them, Ms Sheelam Sohi, wife of late Ravinder Singh Sohi, a former Zila Parishad Chairman, today addressed six rallies in the subdivision.

After the death of her husband, Ms Sohi had joined the Congress and came before the public first time to address the rallies at six villages.


Officials ‘pocketing’ damages
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 22
Six prominent CPI (ML) leaders of the state have demanded a CBI probe into the recent disbursement of compensation among the farmers for the distress sale of the paddy.

The Punjab Government has given more than Rs 3 crore for distribution as compensation among the farmers whose paddy had been purchased below the fixed price in the district.

These leaders in joint press statement issued here today alleged that the officials of the local market committee in connivance with commission agents and sheller owners allegedly pocketed the compensation amount by getting the cheques released in the name of fictitious persons.

They alleged that a large number of farmers had been roaming around the government officers with ‘kacha parchies’ of the paddy sold to commission agents with the hope to get compensation.

The farmers have received compensation who had got J-Forms issued by the commission agents for the sale of their paddy.

These farmers have been deprived of the compensation worth crores of rupees due to the alleged involvement of officials of the local market committee in the scandal.

They alleged that sheller owners who have purchased paddy through commission agents have allegedly succeeded in getting the compensation in the name of fictitious persons. They alleged there were more than 100 sheller owners in the district who had purchased paddy through the commission agents.

These leaders alleged that the officials of the market committee had got issued compensation amount in fictitious names. They mentioned cheques nos. 865, 818, 865, 820, 865, 816, 865, 019, 865, 807, 866, 062 worth Rs 5 lakh had been issued in the name of fictitious farmers to get compensation.

The signatories to the statement are Mr Balwinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Tek Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhullar, Mr Mohinder Singh Padda and Mr Kashmir Singh.


Shift bones disposal site: residents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 22
Residents of Badal road here have demanded that the site for disposing of bones of dead animals be shifted to another site as it had a bad effect on environment.

Mr Rajinder Singh, former senior vice-president of the municipal council, in a letter to the Deputy Commissioner has alleged that four years ago Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal had announced that the same would be shifted to Bhagu. The municiapl council had even started the process to shift the site, but as panchayat elections neared the process was stopped.

He alleged that as a close relative of the local MLA was one of the candidates for the post of sarpanch in Bhagu village, the process was stopped on verbal orders.

Residents of the area said if the site was not shifted from the area, they would have to resort to an agitation.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, when contacted said the council was looking for an alternative site.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, could not be contacted.


Ancient structures in decay
Lalit Mohan

A number of ancient structure, under the control of the Wakf Board, are in a state of extreme neglect. These octagonal structures, believed to have been built during the Mughal period, are fast becoming heaps of rubble.

One such structure in Morinda is infested with wild growth which is weakening the building. The residents of the surrounding areas are encroaching upon the land in the periphery of this tomb, but no authority has paid any heed to it.

Sources in the Department of Archaeology explain that these structures were built with small bricks, commonly known as Lahori or Shahjahani bricks. These octagonal double storey structures have been reinforced with mud mortar, have walls about two or three feet thick and have endured the elements over the centuries. The symmetry of these structures, with four entrances and a dome at the top indicate the architecture of the Mughal period.

There are different theories about the original purpose of building these domes. Sources in the Ropar-based Department of Archaeology say that these were burial sites of important persons. The other view is that these were centres of communication during the Mughal period.

The supporters of the former theory hold that had these been centres of communication, there should have been more such structures along the Grand Trunk Road. The fact that similar structures exist in Ropar and Chamkaur Sahib raises the question how identical graves were constructed for different persons.

This strengthens the view that these were communication centres, built for military purposes.

Whatever the original purpose of building these structures, if immediate attention is not paid, these will perish soon. The Department of Archaeology had forwarded a project for the maintenance of these structures but the proposal was turned down by the Union Government on the plea that these were not of nation importance. So, their maintenance should be done either by the state government or the Wakf Board.


‘Guard’ farmers against WTO challenges
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 22
A senior leader and chief whip of the Congress Parliamentary Party, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, said today that the Central Government should present its case solidly in the next meet of the WTO to be held in Doha lest it should expect another failure like the Agra summit. He said the government should take steps to strengthen the economic condition of farmers.

Mr Brar said if the government acted honestly the farmers of the country could be saved from adverse effects of the WTO agreement. He said the Badal government had taken no stand on this agreement which he described as ‘death warrants’ of the farmers.

He said corruption was rampant in the Police Department and as a result of which smuggling of poppy husk was highest in the district. Although Mr Parkash Singh Badal had good rapport with Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala and Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, yet he had not taken any steps to resolve the pending inter-state disputes, he added.

Mr Brar said Punjab could not afford to give water to Haryana and the state would be deprived off 1.5 million cusec of water if it was released in Satluj, Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. The Badal government had totally ignored the district which was the most backward district of Punjab, he said. The Congress leader said the Punjab government had failed to provide drinking water to the people as the water supplied in 90 of 117 blocks of the state was not fit for consumption. The industry of the state had been badly hit due to anti-industry policies of the government, he said. Mr Brar said during last Vidhan Sabha elections the SAD polled 28 per cent votes as against 27 per cent polled by the Congress. Now the position had changed and in the forthcoming Assembly elections the Congress would come out victorious.


Beant murder case: witness identifies accused
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 22
The main accused in the Beant Singh assassination case, Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh, were today identified by one of the witnesses in a makeshift court at the Model Burail Jail.

The witness, Manish Pal, said before the UT District and Sessions Judge, Mr H.S Bhalla, that Jagtar Singh Hawara and Balwant Singh were among the three persons who had met him in 1995 to seek his help in renting a house for themselves.

The witness disclosed that Balwant Singh, had met him as Pardeep Kumar, while Hawara’s name was not disclosed to him. Their third accomplice was Vikramjit Singh, alias Tony, who was introduced as Ashok Kumar to him, he added.

He said he got Ashok Kumar a house of Mr Gupta on rent for Rs 500 per month through his college-time friend Sushil Agnihotri.


Polemics at sangat darshan
Padmini Jain

A sangat darshan programme fixed for Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Punjab’s Minister for Local Bodies, turned out to be a forum for political polemics, and the common residents did not get a chance to present their problems.

The tone was set by Mr Dharampal Pahuja, a former municipal commissioner and a Congressman. He grabbed this opportunity to highlight the work done by his party when it was in power. He declared that when his party leaders when in power, they were easily accessible and people could go to them any time with their problems. But Mr Tandon, he said, was not easy to reach by ordinary men. He also listed the development work done by his party in the town.

Mr Tandon, in reply emphasised his party’s achievements, pointing out the overbridge which is under construction. He also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the Neelkanth Mandir, where the function was held.


Sargam Kala Manch organised a dance competition-cum-beauty pageant on August 18. Inderjeet Kaur alias Kajal was crowned Miss Punjab out of 12 contestants.

The show was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. It, however, started at 9 p.m. and the first round of the beauty contest was held at 10.45 p.m. Some of the contestants had by that time left.

Earlier four rounds had been announced but these were reduced to three. Ultimately, six rounds were held, extending the show till 3.30 a.m.

The girl who was crowned Miss Punjab had earlier won the Miss Haryana Contest, also held by the same organisation.

When the results of the dance competition were announced, Ms Arora was declared first and handed over a cheque of Rs 10,000. Later it was realised that the cheque was intended for the winner of the beauty pageant. The 14-year-old girl was later searched out and the cheque was taken back from her and given to the winner of the beauty pageant.

In the midst of all this confusion, some VIPs were honoured and speeches were made by the SSP of Patiala, the DSP of Rajpura and some political leaders.


The last few days have seen a number of thefts in Rajpura. Gobind Colony has been the most vulnerable area in this respect. In one case the theft was discovered when the residents returned from a pilgrimage after a week.

Mr N.P.S. Sodhi and his family had been to a pilgrimage to Hemkunt Sahib. When they returned on Sunday, they found their house ransacked. They, however, heaved a sigh of relief to notice that most of their valuables were in tact. Only a walkman and Rs 3,000 in cash were missing.

The police says that gold and cash were the main targets of the thieves, and since the family had not left any jewellery in the house, the thieves did not steal items that were hard to conceal and also to sell.


On Sunday night, a bus on its way to Rajpura from Ludhiana, ran into a stationary truck near Uggani village, about 7 km from Rajpura, resulting in the death of three persons and injuries to four. The bus driver is believed to have lost control of the vehicle, resulting in the accident. The occupants of two front seats died on the spot. The injured persons were taken to A.P. Jain Civil Hospital at Rajpura. One of them was later shifted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, where he succumbed to his injuries. The driver of the bus suffered minor injuries.


Power fluctuations damage gadgets
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 22
Fluctuation in power has damaged electrical gadgets of residents of Old Bishen Nagar, with a number of refrigerators, television sets and cordless phones being rendered useless.

The people most affected are residents of street No. 7 in the Old Bishen Nagar area. The residents complain that fluctuations in power have led to sparking and burning of various electrical instruments. The problem has been going on for nearly one week.

Mr Rajesh Saxena, a resident, said they had complained to the PSEB, but nothing had been done so far. Another resident, Mr Ankit Gupta, questioned as to who would be responsible if an accident took place. A cable operator had recently installed an online UPS worth Rs 1.5 lakh and its battery had developed cracks.

The SDO, Mr Bhupinder Singh, when contacted, said the residents had approached him in this regard. He said power had been restored to the area. Residents said the new system would be tested only after the power supply was regularised.


Health Dept appointments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department has decided to issue appointment letters to the eligible legal successors of those employees who died while doing official duty.

Dr G.S. Preet, Director of the department, said that claimants should check with the department whether the documents submitted by them were complete in all respects.


Gang of robbers busted, 2 held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 22
The police has busted a 15-member gang of robbers following the arrest of two its members. Arms and stolen vehicles, including a Tata Sumo, were recovered from their possession. With these arrests, a large number of robbery cases in Phillaur subdivision have been solved.

Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said today that information was received that nine persons armed with weapons had gathered at an isolated place near a brick-kiln at Dhaleta village and were planning to commit a robbery.

A raid was conducted by the police last night and two of them were arrested. The others escaped. They have been identified as Gurjit Singh, alias Fauji, of Bheekowal in Hoshiarpur district and Gurpreet Singh, alias Gopi, Malho Majra village, also in Hoshiarpur district.

A .32 bore foreign made revolver with 10 cartridges, a 12 bore country-made pistol with three cartridges, a stolen motor cycle, a scooter and a Tata Sumo were recovered.

The SSP said the accused have identified their accomplices as Sital Singh of Daduwal, Amarjit Singh of Bheelowal, Jaspal Singh of Patti and Hukam Singh, alias Budhu, of Handowal near Mahilpur.

The other three accomplices have been identified as migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh.


Drugs seized, shopkeeper held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
A shopkeeper was arrested yesterday and over 1,000 capsules of proxywon and 2,000 tablets of lomotil were seized during a raid on his shop at Jethuwal village by a team led by the Civil Surgeon, Dr Ajaib Singh Sandhu. The Civil Surgeon told newspersons here that the raid was conducted following complaints by parents of students of the area that their children were taking these capsules daily and dozing off during school hours.

Dr Sandhu said a team consisting of the district Family Planning Officer, the Drug Inspector and himself raided the Arora Karyana Store and seized the drugs. A case against the store owner.


Man kills infant daughter
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 22
Driven by poverty and family circumstances, a man killed his three-month-old daughter and threw her body in a well at Kutbewal village yesterday.

Joginder of Pratapara village, who had recently returned from Dubai, was going through mental tension. Unable to make both ends meet, he took up jobs like whitewashing. His parents allegedly threw him, his wife Kulbir Rani and their daughter Harvinder out of the house.

Joginder started living at a temple in Kutbewal village whereas Kulbir Rani decided to put up at her parents, place at Kang Jagir village.

When Joginder’s wife along with her parents and child went to meet him at Kutbewal village, he, all of a sudden, snatched the child from his wife, killed her and hurled the body of the infant in the village well.

Joginder was arrested this morning. Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said during investigation, Joginder had confessed to the crime saying that he had wanted to save his daughter from a miserable life.


2 more held in cow slaughter case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
With the arrest of two more persons, all six accused in the cow slaughter case have been held. On August 18, six cows, including a calf, had been slaughtered. Babbi and Major have been arrested. Earlier, the police had arrested Vicky and Chhinda Masih on the spot. All accused have been booked under Section 11 of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.


Toppers prove unfit  for scholarship
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
One may be a merit holder in the state conducted Class-V examination, but still be able to secure only average scores of 25 per cent in mathematics, 25 per cent in science, 23 per cent in Hindi and, surprise of surprise, only 24 per cent in one’s mother tongue Punjabi.

These startling facts were revealed during a survey of 310 students of the district who had secured above 70 per cent marks in the SCERT annual examination this year and was conducted by the Nishkam Sikh Welfare Council, New Delhi.

The survey, which was restricted to students of government schools and was held to identify 20 students who could be awarded scholarships by the Trust, saw the students faring way below expectations.

In mathematics, only 28 per cent of the students managed to pass the test. None of the students could secure 100 per cent marks and only three per cent of the students could reach the seventieth percentile. As many as 19 per cent of the students got two marks or even less than two marks in the 20-mark test, which had two to three such multiplication questions.

In science, 70 per cent of the students failed to pass the test and 48 students got two marks or less. Most of the students were deficient in the skill of drawing figures.

In case of Punjabi, only 31 per cent of the students managed to pass the test. Only five per cent of the students secured a first division and only three per cent were able to above 70 per cent. Most of the students failed to write even two to three sentences correctly.

A general knowledge paper conducted as part of the test, though not part of the syllabus, found them faring poorly. Only 40 per cent of the students could pass the test and 121 students secured only one mark out of ten in the test.

Dr T.R. Sharma, who was the coordinator for the test, disclosed that the only redeeming factor was the score of the students in the social studies paper. He said while 66 per cent of the students cleared the paper, 31 per cent of the students secured a first division in the subject. He said interviews with students revealed that they found the subject interesting because it included stories of freedom fighters and great men of India.

Dr Sharma said a major factor which was revealed following the test was that the SCERT test had mostly objective-type questions which did not involve recall, reasoning or written expression of the students. He said as a result of this testing technique, students had also been rendered unfit to write three to four lines coherently and express themselves freely.

The students, Dr Sharma said, had learnt to answer questions in yes and no and had no practice in writing connecting sentences requiring reasoning. He said guessing or thoughtful ticking could earn a score of 50 per cent marks easily.

He said by analysing the examination results, it was also noticed that questions on percentage, average and decimal fractions had not been attempted by 90 to 95 per cent of the students. He said essays or explanations of the students were also written very clumsily, indicating that continuous writing of sentences was difficult for them.


Schools asked to get permits for vehicles by Aug 26
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
The Punjab Government has directed the district transport officers to impound all vehicles plying without a valid permit.

The government would also penalise the owners of such vehicles as per the provisions of the Motor Vehicles Act.

In a circular issued to all heads of schools here, Mr Gurwaryam Singh, District Transport Officer, has stated that the owners of such vehicles had been causing a loss to the estate exchequer. It was a matter of concern that even schools were plying vans without obtaining permits from the competent authority, he added.

The DTO said the school vans being run illegally would be impounded after August 26. In order to avoid any harassment and inconvenience to the school children, the schools must complete all formalities in this regard by then.

It may be mentioned here that hundreds of school vans and buses have been plying all over the state without paying any tax. Even the “peter rehras” which were banned on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have been plying with impunity.


Federation submits memo to Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
The Non-Teaching Employees Federation today submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in support of their demands.

The memorandum stated that employees of four universities in Punjab and the Punjab School Education Board were getting pay and allowances on the pattern of employees of the Punjab Secretariat. These allowances were, however, stopped in 1994.

The employees had then launched an agitation against the decision of the Punjab Government. The agitation continued for 63 days. A high-powered committee constituted by the Government had assured a delegation of the federation that if the Supreme Court pronounced its verdict in favour of the employees, the pattern of the Punjab Secretariat regarding scales and allowances would be introduced. In November, 2000, the apex court ruled in favour of the employees. However, the government did not accept the demand of the employees. Instead, it filed a review petition before the Supreme Court. The court rejected the review petition.

The federation has urged the Government to heed their demands.


Cooperative banks expanding base
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 22
Cooperative banks are now expanding their activities beyond the agricultural sector and have started providing fresh loans for non-agricultural purposes as well. Stating this while addressing the elected representatives of the bank here yesterday, Ms Devinder Ahuja Principal, Punjab ADC Staff Training Centre, said the bank was providing opportunities of self-employment among the unemployed youth.

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