Thursday, August 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC may move SC on issue of ‘Sehajdharis’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 29
Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC, today announced that the SGPC could move the Supreme Court if the Central Government failed to debar ‘Sehajdharis’ from voting during the elections of gurdwaras.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Talwandi said there was no word like ‘Sehajdhari’ in the original Gurdwara Act. He, however, hastened to add that the word might have found its way into the Gurdwara Act later. He claimed that under the Master Tara Singh — Nehru pact, there was no provision for ‘Sehajdharis’ being elected as SGPC members. Mr Talwandi rejected the proposal of the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee for an international Sikh body. To another question, Mr Talwandi said the SGPC had already rejected the PSGPC which was headed by a non-Sikh. “Let the 30,000 Pakistani Sikhs manage the gurdwara affairs”, he said.

Mr Talwandi assured when a vast country like India given control of mosques to Muslims (Waqf Board), why could not the control of Sikh shrines in Pakistan be given to the Sikhs there.

In yet another significant statement, Mr Talwandi said the statement by Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, on amnesty to police officials was “unfortunate”. If at all the Central Government was planning to release ‘guilty police officials’, it must let of Sikh youths languishing in various jails of the country.

Mr Talwandi, who is considered an ‘iron man’ in Sikh circles, said that he bore no grudge against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, for not taking action against Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, for arranging a ‘show of strength’ and levelling serious charges against him. Interestingly, Mr Talwandi is also chairman of the disciplinary action committee of the ruling Akali Dal.


Sehajdharis should get right to vote: Rinwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said here today that the Sehajdhari Sikhs should not be denied the right to vote in the SGPC elections.

Replying to a question in this connection at a press conference, Mr Rinwa said his party was for giving the right to vote to the Sehajdhari Sikhs.

It may be mentioned that a controversy is going on in the Sikh circles on this issue for the past several months. While organisations like the SGPC wants that the word Sehajdhari should be omitted from the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925, certain other organisations have opposed the move.

Admitting that the decision about the waiving of the octroi had been delayed beyond the expectations of the party, Mr Rinwa said octroi would be abolished within two or three days. Explaining the reasons for the delay, Mr Rinwa said the government was trying to find alternative resources to fund the municipal committees in the absence of octroi. The government had also contacted the Union Government to help it in this connection. The party had assured that no municipal employee engaged in the octroi collection would be removed from service.

Mr Rinwa, who had earlier stated that the party would contest 30 seats in the states, today increased the number to 35. He said the party would request its senior coalition partner — the Shiromani Akali Dal — to allot 35 seats to the party in the assembly elections. The party was engaged in the task of making assessment of the assembly constituencies in which it had chances of winning. The BJP chief refused to comment on the river waters issue. He said the party high command was the right forum to speak on such issues. Mr Rinwa said the statement of the Union Home Minister with regard to amnesty to policemen involved in criminal cases was interpreted out of context.

Mr Tikshan Sud, Minister of State for Excise and Taxation, Punjab, who accompanied Mr Rinwa at the press conference, gave a detailed account of the benefits extended by the state government to the trader and business community in the state in the past-four-a-and-half years.

He said the summary assessment limit of sales tax had been increased from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 20 lakh and it would be further increased to Rs 40 lakh in the coming weeks. It would benefit about 1.50 lakh registered dealers. The period of cases of deemed assessment of sales tax had been increased from 1994-95 to 1998-99. By doing so as many as 13790 cases had been settled and the government had realised Rs 9.92 crore from the parties concerned as part of the settlement of cases. The time limit of one month for fresh registration of a dealer has been fixed. The government has given clearance for setting up six distilleries and two breweries in the state. The sales tax on 36 items had been decreased. A new sales tax division had been set up at Ludhiana. The sales tax on 170 karyana items had been levied on first stage.


Oppn MCs demand probe
Charges of corruption in council
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
The incident of beating up of two BJP municipal councillors by some SAD councillors during a meeting yesterday opened the Pandora’s box as various political parties today demanded a high-level probe into the allegations of rampant corruption in the working of the council.

Members of the Opposition parties demanded that bunglings in the working of the council had been alleged in the past also, but these were not taken seriously. While the Congress demanded that the president of the council should be immediately suspended and an administrator appointed in his place, the SHSAD demanded action against those who had tried to hide the truth.

Mr Surinder Kapoor, former Punjab minister and General Secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said many councillors from the Congress had raised the issue of corruption, but their voice was not heard.

He said the allegations levelled by the group leader of the BJP councillors indicated that many councillors had got the contracts for development works thus violating the rules. He said though such contracts were ‘benami’, yet it was an open secret that councillors had received benefits out of these contracts.

Mr Kapoor said the district administration should have intervened when the councillors were being beaten up. Even after so many hours of the incident, the administration had not taken any step to bring out the truth, he said. Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, general secretary of the district SHSAD, said the Deputy Commissioners should seal the account books of the council and a scrutiny be carried out.

He said the incident was only the tip of an iceberg. Members of the ruling party had used all types of hooliganism to curb the voice raised against corruption.

Mr Khialiwala further said as per reports, one of those who had beaten up the councillors was not a member of the council, therefore was not allowed in the meeting hall. He demanded an inquiry into the entry of a non-councillor into the meeting hall. The leader said working of the municipal council should be made transparent.


CBI begins probe against Chohan

New Delhi, August 29
After nearly 17 years, the CBI has begun investigations into a case against Jagjit Singh Chohan, who spent decades in exile espousing the cause of so-called “Khalistan” before returning to India recently.

The CBI, which registered the case against Chohan under the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act in 1984, has started collecting documents and investigating his role in an allegedly anti-national campaign, agency sources said here.

Though expressing difficulties in view of the case being very old, the CBI sources expressed the hope of taking the probe to its logical conclusion. PTI


TB Hospital may be derecognised
Bed occupancy comes down to 25 pc
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 29
The bed occupancy of the prestigious TB Hospital spread over 10 acres has come down to about 25 per cent, which may lead to de-recognition of the post-graduation and undergraduation degrees being run by the hospital by the Medical Council of India.

This apprehension was expressed by the Deputy Medical Superintendent, TB Hospital, Dr A.S. Bhatia, in a communication to the Director, Medical Education and Research (DRME), vide letter No. 1897, August 17, 2001.

Earlier, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had sought explanation of the Medical Education Department with regard to the decreasing bed occupancy. One of the main reasons attributed for the same was the running of a parallel OPD by Dr Mitterpal Devgan, District Tuberculosis Officer, in the hospital premises.

The letter of the Deputy Medical Superintendent also highlighted the pitiable condition of the hospital and apathy of the officials concerned in not allocating sufficient funds to it for medicine and other maintenance work.

On November 17, 1999, Dr Bhatia wrote to the Principal, Medical College, with a copy to the DRME, that the parallel OPD being run in the premises of the sanatorium was causing confusion to patients, apart from unavoidable administrative problems. But no corrective step was taken.

Dr Bhatia had also mentioned that the parallel OPD was causing a revenue loss to the Medical Education Department. “The OPD by the DTO has led to a reduction in the patients admission to the hospital which in turn adversely effects teaching of undergraduates and postgraduate students of the department”.

The report of the Deputy Medical Superintendent reads that only Rs 1.78 lakh had been allocated for the purchase of x-ray films against a demand for Rs 3 lakh. Despite the fact that sanction had been accorded for the purchase of x-ray films, the hospital had not been supplied with the same. Dr Bhatia demanded immediate supply of the films for the sake of poor patients.

The report says in the absence of sufficient budget, patients cannot be given regular medicines. This in turn can cause in patients multi-drug resistance.

The report of the Deputy Medical Superintendent also says the building of the palatial hospital is in poor shape. The electrical maintenance of the hospital is unsatisfactory.


No relief for kin of mishap victims
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 29
Families of eight city-based scheduled caste pilgrims, who were killed in a road accident on their way to Manikaran Sahib in Himachal Pradesh on August 14, are a disgruntled lot as no compensation has been paid to them by the state government so far.

No senior official or political leader attended the funeral of the pilgrims next day. What is more disturbing is the silence of the state government on the issue of compensation. Even those injured in the accident have allegedly not been given a single penny for their treatment.

Raj Kumar, who lost his 22-year-old daughter Rekha, said the apathy of the government towards the pilgrims’ families reflected its anti-Dalit approach. “Though the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, readily announced compensation to relatives of those killed on way to Kiratpur Sahib last month, but he has forgotten to send a condolence message to the bereaved families what to talk of any compensation,” said Raj Kumar. Families of many victims are of the view that since all victims belonged to the Dalit section, the ruling SAD-BJP combine has ignored them.

The SDM, Mr Vinay Bublani, had visited them on the behalf of the government for recording the names of the victims, all of whom belonged to backward localities of Bhargo Camp and Tilak Nagar.

Jai Singh of Tilak Nagar, who lost his entire family except a daughter in the accident, said they needed money badly for the treatment.


New Presiding Officer of ST Tribunal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The following postings and transfers were ordered in Punjab today, according to an official release:

Dr Dinesh Chandra is the new Presiding Officer, Sales Tax Tribunal, vice Mr Kamal Nain Singh, who retires on August 31.

Mr Jivtesh Singh Maini is the new Principal Resident Commissioner, New Delhi, vice Dr Dinesh Chandra.

Mr K.K. Garg is the Deputy Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister (Residence).

Mr R.S. Jangu will be the Administrative Officer in the office of the Director, Agriculture, against a vacant post.

Mr N.S. Bath is the new Subdivisional Magistrate, Baba Bakala.

Mr Deepak Raj Garg is Assistant Commissioner (Grievances). Gurdaspur. Mr Manpreet Singh is District Transport Officer, Sangrur.

Mr Tarlochan Singh Bhatti is Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Jalandhar.

Mr Jaspal Singh is Estate Officer, PUDA, Bathinda.

Mr Harcharan Singh is Subdivisional Magistrate, Bhulath.

Orders relating to the posting of Mr Ajmer Singh, Mr B.S. Dhaliwal and Mr Kirpal Singh will be issued in due course as will the orders about the posting of an officer as Deputy Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development.

In the police following changes have been effected:

Mr Rajesh Kumar Jaiswal is now SP, City-I, Amritsar and Mr Jagdish Singh Kahlon is SP, City-II, Amritsar, with additional charge of SP, Traffic.

Meanwhile, Mr Mohd Mustafa has been posted as DIG (Admn), PAP, Jalandhar.

Mr Gurinder Singh, DIG, has been posted as DIG (Administration), Commandos, Bahadurgarh.


Cong blames Badal for ‘misrule’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 29
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) has charged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with misrule during the past four years in the state leading to “rampant corruption, collapse of the Panchayti Raj and exploitation of the masses.”

Addressing a party meeting to take stock of the preparations for the rally at Payal on August 31 to pay homage to the late Chief Minister Beant Singh, the PPCC General Secretary, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, alleged that the SAD leadership in general and Mr Badal in particular were aiding and abetting terrorism. “Hardcore militants like Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, who should have been put behind the bars for perpetrating violence and senseless killings, are roaming free.”

Exhorting partymen to reach Payal in large numbers, he placed on record the achievement of the then Congress government led by Beant Singh. The later had not only led the fight against terrorism from the front, but also sacrificed his life for the sake of the unity and integrity of the nation, Mr Nahar Singh said.

Prominent among those present at the occasion were Mr Sushil Kumar Rajput, Mr Ram Nath, councillor, Sahnewal, Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Iqbal Singh Babbi, Mr Ranjit Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Sandhu, Mr Ajaib Singh, Mr Mehar Singh, Mr Gurmej Singh Geja and Mr Sohan Singh.


No boycott of BJP functions: SAD
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 29
A local Akali minister, Mr Nusrat Ikram Khan Bagga, today refuted the statements given by some local Akali leaders that the SAD would boycott BJP functions to be held here in the near future.

Talking to this correspondent over the telephone from Chandigarh, Mr Nusrat Khan said the BJP was an alliance partner and the question did not a rise for the SAD to boycott BJP functions.

Meanwhile, the Chairman of the Malerkotla Improvement Trust, Mr Mumtaj Ahmed Shah, condemned the statements of the local SAD leaders which might lead to rift between the alliance partners.

This has put a question mark on the unity among the local Akali leaders as some SAD leaders had earlier issued statements regarding the boycott of BJP functions after a function organised by the local industrialists a few days ago which was presided over by Mr Balramji Dass Tandon.

At this function, Mr Nusrat Khan was reportedly ignored by the BJP leadership and not even given a chance to address the gathering.

On the other hand, the local BJP leaders have expressed their resentment over the statements of the local SAD leaders.


Sangrur dist chief of YC removed
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 29
Mr Harinder Singh Seera Dhillon has been removed from the post of president, Youth Congress, Sangrur district.

According to an office order of Indian Youth Congress, New Delhi, signed by Mr Nitin Sharma, permanent secretary, issued to the newsmen here today, Mr Jagtar Singh Dhanaula has been appointed president of the District Sangrur Youth Congress with immediate effect.

The office order said: “As approved by Mr Randeep Surjewala, president of the Indian Youth Congress, you are hereby appointed as President of District Youth Congress Sangrur (Punjab) with immediate effect.


Two die as building caves in
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
At least two persons were killed here this evening when a building under construction collapsed, in the cloth market area of the city.

Sources said that the second floor of the building owned by Sarna Mal Nathu Ram was under construction and labourers were laying the RCC lintel this evening. The boundary walls of the building were built yesterday only and the lintel was to be laid today.

It could not be confirmed whether the site plan of the building under construction was passed by the municipal authorities or not. Shuttering from under the lintel collapsed when half of it had been laid. Owner of the building Mr Behari Lal Mangla and contractor Mr Mithu Singh were killed on the spot. The deceased were supervising the construction of the building and standing beneath the lintel which was being laid down. Weight of the building under construction was not distributed evenly, the sources said.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP reached the spot to supervise relief and rescue operations.

Mr Vijay Goyal, President, Sahara Jan Sewa also reached the spot of incident and along with volunteers of the emergency blood club helped the rescue team.

Though rescue team of the Fire Brigade also reached the spot on but being ill-equipped to deal with such emergency they had to work hard and a gas welding cutter was pressed into the service to cut the girders and the iron rods under which the deceased lay.

The injured were taken to the civil hospital by the volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sawa where they were declared brought dead.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, the science and technology minister Punjab and Mr R. Venakat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner reached the spot at 6 pm when the bodies had been recovered. Ambulance of the Punjab systems corporation could be summoned only when the Deputy Commissioner was made aware of the incident he said strict action would be taken against the officials of the Civil Hospital who were found guilty of negligence in duty.


Minor’s rape and murder: police clueless
Residents of high-security area shocked
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 29
The city police has failed to achieve a breakthrough in the case of the rape and murder of a six-year-old girl in the high-security military cantonment here two days ago.

The girl was the daughter of a corporal and her body was found in the new KC park of the General Kulwant Singh Colony early yesterday. The girl had been missing since the previous evening. The family of the girl had gone to the house of a family friend for dinner and the girl had insisted on spending the night there. Later in the night, that family friend informed the father of the girl that she was missing.

The postmortem of the girl’s body was done today, following which, doctors said death had been caused due to asphyxiation, following combined smothering and throttling (covering of the nostrils and strangulation). This suggest that more than one person may be involved in the crime. The swabs from the girl’s body have been sent for chemical analysis and DNA fingerprinting. Sources said the girl had suffered not only rape and strangulation, but also an attack with a brick that had smashed her face. The postmortem was conducted by Dr S.S. Oberoi and Dr D.S. Bhullar, Senior Medical Officer.

Sources say that the police is working on the theory that the culprit is one man who lives alone in the colony or its neighbourhood. They say that the police is working on this theory because it is difficult for an outsider to enter the high-security cantonment area at night. The police authorities are also holding meetings with senior Army officers to plan the line of investigation.

According to the Station House Officer of Sadar police station, Mr Sewa Singh, the girl’s father, Kaval Vinod, is a Corporal in the Air Force and a resident of Bihar. Sources said the family had arrived in the cantonment only 15 days before the incident.

According to the father of the girl, the girl had insisted on staying overnight at the residence of Mr S.K. Tiwari, the friend whom the family had visited for dinner. After 40 minutes of this, Mr Tiwari had rushed to his house to tell him that the girl, Nidhi, had been missing. They, along with the Army authorities and residents of the nearby houses, had found Nidhi’s body early next day under a tree in New KC Park.

Sniffer dogs were requisitioned from Chandi Mandir, but even these could not provide any lead. The DSP (R), Mr B.S. Virk, was also present on the site of the murder yesterday. However, the Air Force personnel refused to talk to reporters and residents of the area were still in a state of shock.

Some of those who live near the place where the body was found, said they were scared because such an incident had happened in spite of a high security in the area.


Rajpura Diary
Civic post remains unfilled
Padmini Jain

The post of vice-president of the Municipal Council of Rajpura had been lying vacant for more than a year since Mr Trilochan Dev assumed the post of president after a supreme court judgement. Since then the council has seen considerable political activity. A resolution to fill the vacant post was passed on July 3 and the election was to be held on August 24. But it had to be postponed indefinitely as only five of the 25 councillors could be present. Some boycotted the election and the others were scared away by the heavy security arrangements. Some councillors who wanted to exercise their franchise were not allowed to enter the municipal office. They staged a dharna outside. Inside, the election had to be withheld for want of a quorum. Most of the members of the council blame the ruling party for the state of affairs which made it impossible to hold the election.

* * * * *

A seminar was held at Battawala village to create awareness about the declining sex ratio in Punjab. Mrs Kamaljit Kaur, CDPO, interacted with the village women and told them that sex determination tests were unethical and against the law. She explained that the sex of the child did not depend on the mother and female foeticide would upset the balance of nature. Moreover, a person guilty of female foeticide could be fined up to Rs 10,000 and imprisoned for three years. A repetition of this crime, can mean a fine of Rs 50,000 and five years in jail.

Mrs Kumud Mitra, President Innerwheel Club of Rajpura, answered the questions of the villagers.

* * * * *

The Rotary Club of Rajpura held a dental camp for school children in Uksi village near Rajpura. A team of dentists from the AP Jain Civil Hospital, headed by Dr M.S. Amandeep Kaur Sandhu, examined the children. More than 300 students were given free tooth brushes and tooth paste tubes. Those with cavities and other problems were asked to visit the hospital.

* * * * *

Even after repeated intervals, only 94 of the 168 seats in the ITI centre at Rajpura have been filled. The 74 unfilled seats are becoming a source of worry for the authorities. Interviews are expected to be held again to fill the vacant seats.

* * * * *

The local branch of Sewa Bharati has started a free tuition centre in Angat Dev colony. A number of retired teachers have got together to start this project. They have hired two rooms and equipped these with blackboards and other necessary furniture. Children who cannot afford to join regular schools will find this centre highly useful. Dr Mathura Das Swatantra, a retired principal inaugurated the centre. Mr Anil Bharati of Sewa Bharati, Patiala was the chief guest.

* * * * *

A quiz competition was organised by the SJS Ekadhiken coaching Centre, on the occasion of its first anniversary. Almost all the schools of Rajpura participated and many students went there in their school dresses to cheer their teams. After a tough competitions, Public Girls School team emerged the winner among the Hindi schools. Savita and Ravinder constituted the team. Nidhi and Piyusha of Patel Public Schools were the winners among the English medium schools.


Bank workers’ union alleges irregularities
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
Mr Surinder Singla, zonal secretary of the Punjab National Bank Workers Union , has alleged that the financial institutes had become breeding houses of corruption and public money was being mismanaged. Mr Singla, in a written statement issued here today, alleged that financial institutes like the UTI and the LIC were examples of the mismanagement of public money and the non-performing assets (NPAs) of the banks had touched Rs 65,116 crore. Senior officials, in connivance with big industrialists, were responsible for the financial mess and employees were being victimised to please these “big guns,” Mr Singla alleged. Mr Singla alleged that more than 50 per cent seniority of the employees adjusted from New Bank of India had been cut in Punjab National Bank and even the senior officials of the bank had been victimised by the PNB management.

Mr Singla alleged that an employee was transferred to Bhutan Kalan village, about 150 km from here, and though he applied for a transfer in 1997, he was not transferred to a nearby branch. Instead, the bank management transferred an employee from Rampura Phul to Bhuchu Khurd on deputation.


Situation normal in Samana
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 29
The situation is returning to normal at Samana, about 30 km from here, where an outbreak of gastroenteritis had taken place due to the contamination of drinking water supply, with 20 patients remaining admitted in the sub divisional hospital there. According to Civil Surgeon Amrit Lal Dhingra, 28 patients of gastroenteritis were admitted in the hospital on August 27. He said out of these, 19 were discharged after a few hours, while others were also discharged late in the evening. He said 20 cases of gastronenteritis had been received yesterday. He said none of the patients was serious. Meanwhile, Deputy Commissioner Jasbir Singh Bir said a cleanliness drive had been launched in the town and all pipe connections were being checked by a special task force.


Detainees to get compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Chief Secretary to process the case for the payment of suitable compensation to 250-odd youths who were long detained in Jodhpur jail in the wake of Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple complex in Amritsar.

Though these youths were eventually left off when the cases against them were withdrawn by the prosecuting agencies, till date not much attention was paid to them. Now the state is keen that something must be given to them. The modalities will be worked out with the Finance Minister and proposals submitted to the Chief Minister.

Sources say the youth wing of the newly constituted Panthic Morcha had taken up the cause of the detainees.


YC: provide space for advocates’ chambers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The Punjab Youth Congress today urged the state government to provide adequate space and assistance for the construction of chambers for advocates in judicial complexes all over the state. In a press note, the Vice-President of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr G.B.S. Dhillon, stated that the space for chambers had not been earmarked in some of the tehsils and districts, including Ludhiana and Jalandhar. He added that chambers at present were situated at a considerable distance from the newly-constructed judicial complexes resulting in inconvenience to the lawyers.


CM condoles Bedi’s death
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today expressed grief over the sad demise of Dr Sohinder Singh Bedi (Wanjara Bedi). He had died in Delhi.

In a condolence letter to Mrs Kudan Kaur Bedi, wife of Dr Sohinder Singh Bedi, Mr Badal said Dr Sohinder Singh made commendable contribution to the Punjabi literature and folk lore. His production of Punjabi Lok Dhara, Vishva Kosh will continue to show the way to the literati and researchers for all times to come.


Brar opposes amnesty to cops
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 29
Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP and vice-president of the PPCC, has opposed the move to grant general amnesty to the police personnel who allegedly violated human rights during the days of militancy in Punjab. However, the Congress MP advocated taking steps for the rehabilitation of those hit by militancy.

Mr Brar, who had arrived here to mobilise the district party workers for the success of a party rally to be held at Malout on September 11, said this while talking to mediapersons.

Mr Brar held Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal responsible for notifying the Land Acquisition Act on SYL canal in February 1978. He also accused the Chief Minister of taking Rs 2 crore from Haryana in this regard. The Congress leader urged the Chief Minister to call all-party meeting to find an amicable solution to the river water dispute in accordance to the directions of the Supreme Court.


Efforts on to hit cotton target
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
Mr C.L. Bains, Finance Commissioner Development-cum-Secretary, Agriculture, Punjab, has said that the state government was taking all steps necessary to achieve the production target of 17 lakh bales of cotton this year and if the weather was favourable it would be achieved.

Mr Bains, who visited many villages of the district, said that the reports collected from the villages would be brought to the notice of the Chief Minister. Village level camps were being organised by the Department of Agriculture and experts of Punjab Agriculture University in the cotton belt of the state. Most of the farmers of Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot and Muktsar had demanded pesticides from the Department of Agriculture and subsidy for the spray.

Mr Gurdial Singh Khera, Joint Director, Agriculture, Punjab Mr H.S. Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, and Mr Ashok Dhawan, cotton expert from PAU accompanied Mr Bains.

Mr Bains said that strict legal action would be taken against those found guilty of selling substandard pesticides and disciplinary action would be taken against the officer under whose jurisdiction the act took place. He also visited the farms where the projects under the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) scheme had been initiated. He said that Rs 10 lakh had been given to the Department of Agriculture so that poison to kill rodents was made available to the farmers.

While the agriculture experts maintain that the production target of 17 lakh bales of cotton would be achieved and that the attack of the American bollworm was under control the farmers of the region have been rushing in large numbers to the so-called ‘babas’ in the region for remedies. The ‘babas’ give about two to three liters of water to the farmers, claiming that it would eradicate the American bollworm and grateful farmers make cash offerings, said an attendant of a baba at Maur mandi.

Even farmers from the neighbouring villages of Rajasthan and Haryana seek the water from babas. However hot western winds have lessened the attack of bollworms. Three ‘babas’ in the district have been offering “holy-water”, “incense sticks” and “holy-thread” to control the attack of bollworm. One of these babas said that the pest was not killed by the water, but made ineffective.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted about these ‘babas’ said that the question was not of the money being charged from the farmers, but of saving the cotton crop. “We have asked them to stop these activities immediately,” Mr Venkatratnam said.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, could not be contacted for comments. However highly placed police sources said that no FIR regarding cheating or misleading the farmers had been registered.


3 arrested for murder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
The district police has solved the mystery behind the missing of Darshan Singh, who was killed about three years ago, when it arrested Harjinder Singh, Gurjeet Singh and Sukhminder Singh, all residents of the district, today. Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said here today that all these persons killed Darshan Singh on September 9, 1998. He said they were also involved in dacoities at various places in Punjab and Haryana.

He said on that day they hired a taxi from Darshan Singh from the local taxi stand and told him that they wanted to go to Jhanda Kalan, near Sardulgarh, in Mansa district.

They asked him to stop the car near Natheha Jorkia village at a deserted place where they strangled him and threw the body in the Bhakhra Canal near Surtia village in Haryana. They took away the car.

The SSP said the motive behind the murder might be looting. He said the family members of Darshan Singh searched for him for many days and then lodged an FIR.

The SSP said one of the killers, Harjinder Singh alias Bittu, resident of Jaga Ram Tirth near Talwandi Sabo, along with others used the stolen car to take away another car from a resident of Ludhiana.

The SSP said the gang used both the cars abduct a woman from Hisar in Haryana. It demanded a huge ransom for the release of the woman but did not get it. The gang released her after a few days.

The SSP said the gang also took away a tractor from Bhutan Kalan village in the Moonak area of Sangrur district. Two of the accomplices of Bittu, namely Baldev Singh, a former sarpanch of Sanjhli, and Gulshan Kumar, a resident of Hisar, were arrested by the Haryana police for the crime. Dr Jain said the three alleged culprits were arrested and Darshan Singh’s car recovered from them. He said a case had been registered Under Sections 302 and 201 of the IPC.


Two years’ jail for theft
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 29
Mr Karnail Singh, Judicial Magistrate, here yesterday convicted Mohan Lal of Dehriwal village and sentenced him for two years and fined him Rs 500 in a case of theft.

Mr Sain Dass of Bhanwal village complained the police, on December 22, 1999 that after finishing work he proceeded to his village and when he reached a point on the Defence road, the accused stopped his scooter and snatched Rs 5000 and wrist watch at pistol point.

Acting upon the complaint the police registered an FIR under Section 382 of the Indian Penal Code and arrested the accused.


No salary for elementary teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
Members of the District Institute for Elementary Training (DIET) Staff Association have alleged that they have not received their salaries for the past three months.

The representatives of the union today met the Director of the State Council of Education and urged him to do the needful in this regard. The union leaders said the government should make arrangements so that they could draw their salaries.

They demanded that the state government should release the grant of Rs 30 lakh so that it could get the share which was given by the Central Government. They alleged the delay in the payment of salaries was due to the wrong policies of authorities concerned.

Mr Labh Singh Sandhu, convenor of the association, suggested the state government should make the necessary arrangements on the pattern of Himachal Pradesh so that a regularity in the payment of salaries would be maintained.

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