Sunday, September 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



MSP hike mere eyewash: BKU
Agriculture experts disagree
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The much-awaited minimum support price (MSP) for paddy has been announced. The official date when procurement will commence is not known yet.

Against a hike of Rs 50 per quintal demanded by the three Chief Ministers in their August 9 memorandum to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has settled for an increase of Rs 20 per quintal for common varieties and “A’’ grade paddy. This is Rs 10 per quintal more than the price recommended by the Commission for Agricultural Costs and Prices (CACP).

The MSP for the common variety is now Rs 530 per quintal (against Rs 510 per quintal last year) and for “A’’ grade paddy, it is Rs 560 per quintal (against Rs 540 per quintal last year).

There is a mixed reaction to this announcement. The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) leader, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, is obviously dissatisfied. The Union in its memorandum to the Prime Minister in New Delhi on September 3, where thousands of kisans had demonstrated, demanded a price of Rs 720 per quintal. The union wanted the price to be linked to the wholesale price index of 1966-67. The memorandum also opposed the Centre’s move to decentralise procurement.

Mr Mann, when contacted at Batala today, told TNS that with such a decision farmers would suffer greater economic hardship adversely affecting the country’s economy. The BKU would meet in Chandigarh on September 15 to review the situation. ‘’We are not satisfied. The price increase is an eye-wash. In actual terms, it is lower than the MSP of last year’’.

A former Chairman of the CACP, Dr S.S. Johl, an economist, described the paddy price decision as one born out of “politics’’ not “economics’’. To be fair to the producers and consumers, proper and permanent price restructuring is required as assured procurement and price rule the market. Farmers require continuous government support and intervention. Any price re-structuring should take care of diversification from wheat and paddy to oilseed, pulses, fruits and vegetables.

He referred to suggestions from some responsible quarters to wind up the Food Corporation of India and public distribution system and to even discontinue the system of MSP. With time, these entities have developed inefficiencies, becoming a burden on states. But one should remember that these had served the nation well and are required for “food security’’ and for providing the poor access to foodgrain. “The present stockpile of 61 million tonnes should not blur our long-term vision of the need for the system’’.

Dr Johl said in view of the WTO regime, new challenges should be transformed into opportunities. There were ways and means to continue with direct “input’’ subsidies benefiting farmers. The target group should be marginal and small farmers owning below two or three hectares. The WTO, too, accepted the need for subsidies. The category of “green box’’ comprised subsidies for mechanisation, irrigation channels, electric motors and pump that enhanced production capability and risk bearing ability of farmers.

Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh told TNS from Ludhiana than the increase of even Rs 20 per quintal was welcome given the “compulsions and constraints’’ of the government .

Despite repeated appeals to Farmers, the cost of production remained high in Punjab. The farmers continued to over-invest in agriculture by going in for unwanted machinery making farming uneconomical, and unviable adding to their debt burden.

The farmers indulged in more borrowings to pay old debts. Often farm loans were diverted for meeting social obligations. Moreover, the farmers had almost given up personal supervision of farm operations. The over dependence on labour had increased. Consequently, there was utter waste and wrong use of costly inputs.

Dr Aulakh believes that indiscriminate use of inputs has to stop and cost of production lowered, if farmers are to survive. Punjab agriculture is over-mechanised with four lakh tractors and allied equipment. Now second-hand tractor bazars are held. Easy loans from banks have further added to the misery of the farmers. With 45 per cent farmers owning less than five acres and yet having tractors the cost of cultivation will remain high. Blaming it on the MSP will not help.

Corporatisation is still a distant dream. The MSP can not continue for too long. Alternative viable to subsidised agriculture shall have to be found to support farmers. Even tenancy laws have to be changed to give farmers a sense of security of ownership, if corporatisation of agriculture is to step-in.

Similar were the views of the Punjab Director of Agriculture, Dr S S Bains, who said, “We have to welcome the increase, whatever it be. After all the CACP had suggested on only Rs 10 per quintal hike. The government has recommended Rs 20 per quintal of its own. “Do you have a choice? Punjab has to be careful on MSP in future. How long can this practice continue’’?


Badal hails hike in MSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has hailed the hike in the minimum support price of paddy announced by the Union Government yesterday.

In a statement, Mr Badal said he deeply appreciated the concern of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, for the farming community of Punjab. “In spite of general opposition from all quarters, including from within his own government with some even suggesting reduction in the MSP because of the prevailing stock position of foodgrains, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee has stood by the farmers of Punjab. The increase of Rs 20 per quintal is welcome,” he added.


Political conferences turn into poll rallies
Gurbax Puri

Khadoor Sahib (Amritsar) September 8
Political conferences, organised by various parties to mark the historic ‘Gur Gaddi Divas’ today turned out to be election rallies in which allegations and counter-allegations were levelled against one another.

Leaders from the Panthik Morcha Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi and Mr Simranjeet Singh Mann.

Capt. Amarinder Singh, Punjab Congress president, and other  senior leaders of the party.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura at the SAD conference.— Tribune photo

While Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, appealed to the ‘Sikh sangat’ from the stage of the Shiromani Akali Dal to bring his party to power again, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the newly formed Panthic Morcha, announced that his party would contest all 117 Assembly seats. He said the morcha would ally with the like-minded parties.

On the other hand, Mr Amarinder Singh, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, claimed that his party would sweep the polls as the ruling SAD-BJP had lost the confidence of the people.

Mr Badal alleged that the Panthic Morcha’s action would benefit the Congress as the division of votes would benefit that party.

Raising the inter-state waters issue and Operation Bluestar, Mr Badal alleged that the Congress was responsible for the ‘black days’ which the state witnessed in the past. He further alleged that Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Congress Member of Parliament, was present at the time of digging of the controversial Sutlej-Yamuna link canal by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Mr Badal alleged that Mr Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, was responsible for the disunity of the Panth, while described him as ‘overambitious’.

On the possibility of forging Panthic Unity, Baba Bedi said that it could be possible if Mr Badal apologised before Akal Takht for allegedly violating the ‘hukamnama’ (edict) issued by the then Jathedar Bhai Ranjit Singh.

Baba Bedi said that the aim of floating the Panthic Morcha was not to topple the Akali government but they had taken this step as Mr Badal had started promoting nepotism at the cost of the Sikh panth. He said the office-bearers of the morcha would be nominated by April, 2002, and there would be only one president and one flag of the party.

Refuting the charges of Mr Badal that the Panthic morcha was formed to help the Congress, Baba Bedi said that Mr Badal himself had married his children in Congress families which showed that he had inseparable relations with that party. He said that the Sikh panth had not accepted Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as Jathedar of Akal Takht and Bhai Ranjit Singh was still being considered as the ‘real Jathedar’.

Addressing from the Congress rally, Mr Amarinder Singh said that if voted to power, his party would constitute a commission to probe the properties amassed by Mr Badal and his family and the corruption charges against the leaders of the ruling party.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar), BSP and CPI also organised separate conferences on the occasion.

The rally of the Congress was bigger than that of the ruling party.


Kidnapped youth rescued
Rs 50 lakh ransom was demanded
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 8
Avdesh Kumar, 20-year-old son of an industrialist, who was allegedly kidnapped by two persons from Mandi Ahmedgarh last afternoon for a ransom of Rs 50 lakh was rescued by a team of the Khanna police from a mango orchard near Samrala this evening. The police, however, failed to catch the four kidnappers as they managed to escape on a scooter.

The youth was kidnapped in a daring daylight incident from near a cattle feed factory at Ahmedgarh yesterday. A massive search operation was launched jointly by the police of Khanna, Jagraon, Ludhiana and Sangrur as the kidnappers were suspected to have slipped into any of these police districts. A large number of policemen and officers of these districts were deployed for the task.

According to police sources, the breakthrough came near Samrala in the evening, when a police party led by Sub-Inspector Hari Mittal spotted some suspicious looking persons in a mango orchard. However, as a police Gypsy headed towards them, two persons escaped while the kidnapped youth was rescued. The police chased the absconding kidnappers, but they made good their escape on a scooter which they forcibly took away from a poultry farm.

The traumatised and shattered youth was in a semi-conscious state because the kidnappers had injected him with some drug. When he recovered consciousness later, he told the police that two persons, kidnapped him from their factory yesterday. He was taken away in a maruti car at some unknown place as he was kept in the narrow space between the seats of the car. The kidnappers also injected him with some drug due to which he was in a semi-conscious state and did not know where he was.

The kidnappers later told him that a deal of Rs 50 lakh ransom was struck with his brother who would be coming soon to take him away.

Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Khanna, said he would recommend an award for sub-Inspector Hari Mittal. He said they would nab the culprits soon and informed that the car in which the youth was kidnapped had a fake number.

As the news of the recovery of the youth spread, a large number of people from Mandi Ahmedgarh as well as police officers from other police districts, especially Sangrur, rushed to Samrala. A meeting of the police officers was also held at Samrala in the evening.


Government may lower duty on textile machinery
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 8
The Secretary, Union Ministery of Textile Mr Anil Kumar, said his Ministry has adopted three-pronged strategy to give a boost to the textile sector in the country.

Mr Anil Kumar, addressing a meeting of representative of the textile industries here last night, said a committee of ministers has recommended labour laws in conformity with the present environment, he said the government is aware of the labour problem and determined to come out with comprehensive laws to improve the productivity.

Mr Anil Kumar said there was a move to rationalise the excise, customs and other levies in view of the globalisation. His Ministry has already recommended new structure of duties and he hoped that in the coming Budget changes would be effected to give a boost to the productivity and profitability.

The Secretary said the government was encouraging the indigenous manufacture of latest textile machinery to offset the expensive imported machinery. The government was also considering to lower the Customs duty on textile machinery and also the spare parts.

Mr Anil Kumar said the government had introduced new upfront credit link scheme under which the Central Government would pay 12 per cent one time capital subsidy which was financed by tuff for setting up new enterprises. The entrepreneurs have the option to either claim the interest subsidy or get 12 per cent capital subsidy.

Allaying the fears of the textile industry Mr Anil Kumar said certain provisions in the Indo-Nepal trade treaty which was working against the interest of the local industry were likely to be discussed during the next talks. There are reports of cheap yarn and silk being smuggled from the neighbouring country. He assured the representatives that the government will take a tough stand to counter these imports.


Cyber cafe attacked, owner hurt
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 8
Some unidentified youths attacked a cyber cafe owner of the city late last night. The owner of the cafe was injured.

Mr Sanjiv Garg, owner of the Garg Cyber World, located at the Gole Market in the heart of the city said that yesterday a boy along with a girl came to his cafe at noon. When they were allegedly caught in a compromising pose in one of the private cabins, they were forced out of the cafe but the boy threatened him of dire consequences. Mr Garg alleged.

At night the same boy along with seven armed youths, with their faces muffled with black handkerchiefs ransacked the cyber cafe. Two colour monitors, computer tables, one CPU and the glass of the main door of the cyber cafe were damaged. Two other computers, chairs, counters were also damaged.

One of the Shopkeepers at the Gole Market pointed out that when he noticed that eight armed youths were going upstairs he closed the iron gate to prevent them from escaping. The police control room was informed about the suspects but they reportedly gave a telephone number of a police station to the caller, under whose jurisdiction the market falls.

The culprits after attacking the owner of the cafe escaped from another gate of the market. The number plates of their scooters were covered with papers, eye witnesses said.

Mr Garg said the culprits had come to his cafe for the first time. The main culprit could be identified, he added.

The cafe owner said at least 10 telephone calls had been received since today morning stating that the culprits were from the Jhutika Mohalla area of the city. The caller, however, refused to disclose his identity, Ms Pooja Garg, sister of the cafe owner, said. The parents of the cafe owner and other shopkeepers did not name any suspect in the FIR lodged with the police.

The shopkeepers of the market closed their shutters for about three hours in the morning and a deputation met the district police chief in this connection.

Meanwhile, some cyber cafe owners have started collecting details of the customers.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, said a case under Sections 452, 427, 506, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC has been registered in this connection.


Demoralised cops further shaken by crime rise
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
A spate of snatchings, kidnappings, rapes, murders and a bank dacoity in various parts of Punjab during the past 72 hours appears to have shaken the police here which is yet to recover from reversions, including of men and officers given ORP or ad hoc promotions, ordered at various levels recently.

While it is difficult to link the recent spurt in crime to the reversions ordered in the rank and file of the Police Department, yet the number of cases filed by policemen in courts at various levels certainly indicate a concerted effort to defend themselves than concentrate on law and order in the state which is heading for the Assembly elections in a few months.

The Buttar Kalan branch of the Punjab National Bank in Moga witnessed a dacoity on September 6 at 2 p.m. The assailants not only took away more than Rs 9.27 lakh in cash, but also two barrels of 12 bore guns lying packed in boxes in the strong room of the bank. They deprived of the manager of his wallet and three another employee of three gold rings.

The following day, Rs 2.5 lakh was snatched at gunpoint from a resident of Alipur in Hoshiarpur district while he was going to deposit the same in the Garhshankar Central Cooperative Bank. After a snatching incident at liquor vend on September 6 at Sangrur, a resident of Ahmedgarh was kidnapped by four unknown persons the next day.

In between a transporter was murdered in Ludhiana while in another case in the district an old woman was done to death and Rs 10,000 in cash, silver and gold ornaments taken away by the assailants.

Besides, there have been cases of abduction and rape of minor girls in Ludhiana, Batala, Tarn Taran, Khanna, Nawanshahr, Jagraon and Barnala districts.

Since last year, as many as 18 cases of bank robbery, dacoity and snatching of cash from bank premises have been reported indicating growing laxity not only on the part of guards employed by banks but also the police on patrol duty in strategic banking areas.

In the Moga case, as per the bank instructions, the double-barrel led guns were reportedly dismantled every evening and placed in separate boxes before being locked in the strong room. On the fateful day, the dismantled guns were not taken out and were still in the strong room when the “suspects” arrived around closing time.

In an earlier case reported from the Jagraon police district, a branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce was robbed as the bank security guard was also working as a peon-cum-messenger.

The police and security forces have taken serious view of these cases of laxity. It may be pertinent to mention here that during militancy in Punjab nearly 400 bank branches were robbed or looted. But with the return of normalcy, security arrangements at banks have once again decreased and no serious attention is being paid to this aspect, either by the banks or the police.

While the complexity of the crime has been changing rapidly, little or no attention is being paid to studying the changing pattern of the crime. The modus operandi branch of the crime cell is either dormant or not doing much.

Though the incidence of crime throughout the country has been on the rise, indicating involvement of “supari killers”, mafias, narcotic smugglers and “satta” players in violent crime, Punjab still remains far more peaceful than most of states and union territories.

Inadequate promotional avenues, growing attacks on policemen, their trial, controversy over gallantry awards and growing awareness on human rights are some of the areas which need immediate attention to keep the morale of the police high.

The growing incidence of assault on public servants in general and policemen in particular is as worrisome as lack of promotional avenues for policemen. There have been 250 cases of assault on public servants, mostly policemen, during the current year so far. This is indicative of a disturbing phenomenon of lack of public faith in public servants in general and law enforcement agencies in particular.

While a selected few got out-of-turn promotions and a quick rise during militancy days, a majority of the nearly 80,000-strong force is reeling under stagnation. It was only this year that examination for promotion from constable to Head Constable was held after a gap of several years, the reasons given being there were no vacancies. All quotas had been exhausted in advance.

Various concessions announced by the state government for promotions at the lower level are far from enough.


Now, betting on lawn tennis
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 8
Now, it is betting on lawn tennis. This city has re-emerged as a ‘satta’ market in the past few years.

To escape detection by the police, punters and bookies have been using mobile phones and operating from big hotels.

The district police achieved a major success when it caught redhanded four persons indulging in the ‘satta’ on lawn tennis from a hotel.

The accused were using a telephone of the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) for illegal activities as well as cellphones.

The accused have been identified as Satpal, son of Mr Boria Mal, resident of Birla Mill Colony, Bathinda, Mukesh Kumar of Veer Colony, Bathinda Honey Kumar of Suraj Nagri, Abohar, and Prem Kumar of Nai Avadi, Abohar. They had been allegedly facilitating betting by claiming that Martina Hingis had been fixed in her coming match with Serena Williams in the US Open Women Lawn Tennis Championship.

The accused had been facilitating the betting on the basis of their false claims by the people residing in Haryana, Mumbai, Delhi and Punjab through their cell phones.

In this way, they were trying to collect money from people by cheating them, said Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, district police chief, in a press note issued here today.

Dr Jain said that on getting information, the police raided a local hotel and arrested the accused. Four mobile phones, one telephone, one telephone of the DoT, two chargers of mobile phones, a television set with a remote control device, one tape recorder, four cassettes, one attaché, two account books, one blank register and one calculator were seized from the accused.

Preliminary information revealed that accused had spread their betting business all over the country. The accused had also been betting on cricket matches.

A case in this connection has been registered under Section 420 of IPC and Section 13-A of the Gambling Act in the city police station against the accused.

The district police had earlier also registered a case against three persons for indulging in cricket ‘satta’ in March 2000, Dr Jain said.


Govt teachers mint money with education shops
Anita Tayal

Patiala, September 8
Though holding private tuitions are banned in the state, the practice is flourishing without any check in the city, much to the dismay of its citizens.

Government school teachers and college lecturers in particular are openly holding private tuitions in batches continuously from morning to evening. A few college lecturers have even started giving training in practical work to the students in addition to the coaching given in regular science subjects.

The government, however, seems to be oblivious of the problem. The Higher Education Minister, Mr Mohan Lal, has been continuously saying the government will take action against those conducting private tuition classes, but nothing has been done in this regard. During a recent visit, the minister had hinted that no raids would be conducted against them as the government did not want to annoy anyone on the eve of Assembly elections in the state.

Parents of students studying in the science stream allege that while the Haryana Government has taken initiative to put a check on the practice of holding private tuitions, nothing has been done by the Punjab Government to curb the situation. No raids have been conducted and no preventive procedure has been adopted to stop the menace. They claim that immediate attention must be drawn towards the issue, which has taken a serious turn, particularly when the time for entrance tests, including PMT and CET, draws nearer.

More than 30 to 40 students per batch and teaching at least 4 to 5 batches in a day enable the lecturers to mint lakhs of rupees. The parents say even the students raise a hue and cry over attending tuitions following other students that join these tuitions. Most of these students are from the medical and non-medical streams.

The students taking tuitions mainly come from the Multani Mal Modi College and Government Mohindra College. Surprisingly, students register their names immediately after the completion of Class X examination, fearing that the increasing strength of students thereafter will not allow them to get their coaching from teachers who are sought after. After all, the professors cannot accommodate more than an average of 35 students in a single room.

However, most of the professors claim that they no longer take tuitions and aim at teaching the syllabi during the college hours only. Speaking against the practice, they blame the other professors for holding private illegal tuitions, thereby spoiling the career of students.

The District Youth Congress (Urban) has taken a serious note of the prevailing situation and has submitted a memorandum in this regard to the Deputy Commissioner and a copy of the same to Dean, Colleges, Punjabi University, Mr Janak Gupta. The president of the DYC, Mr Sanjeev Sharma says if no action is taken by the authorities, parents will be forced to adopt agitational means against this.

Mr Sharma adds that the holding of private tuitions is more of a business than aiming at developing the career of a child. Full-fledged notes once prepared by the teachers are distributed for the next many generations to come, without additional and latest charges.


Jagmeet Brar fears sabotage of
rally by Chief Minister
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 8
Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Congress MP, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday alleged that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was trying to sabotage the Congress rally to be held on September 11 at Malout.

Mr Brar alleged that Congress leaders might be put under preventive arrest. Many senior leaders of the party, including Mr Madhav Rao Scindia, Moti Lal Vora, members of the PPCC and thousands of workers of the party would attend the rally, he added.

He said the rally was originally slated for September 10, but the Chief Minister announced a sangat darshan programme on the same date at Lambi. Then it was decided to hold the rally on the next day, but the Chief Minister again changed the date for the sangat darshan programme which would now be held on September 11.

The Chief Minister was fearing that the success of the rally would expose the depleting support for the SAD in the home district of the Chief Minister. Even the truck operators’ unions had been asked not to give their vehicles to Congress workers, he alleged.

Mr Brar said he would convene an all-party meeting to discuss important issues of Punjab, including the river waters issue. Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Kanshi Ram, President, Bahujan Samaj Party, and Mr Joginder Dyal, state secretary, CPI, had agreed to attend the meeting which would be held next week. Mr Amarinder Singh, PPCC President, and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, would also attend the meeting, he said.

The Chief Minister would use all tactics at his disposal to ensure his win in the coming Assembly elections and even police and civil officials had been transferred on the directions of SAD ministers, alleged Mr Brar.

Mr Brar said the successive state governments had failed to plead the river waters issue with the Union Government resulting in losses to the state.

Attacking the SAD-BJP combine in the state he alleged that when the Inter State Water Dispute Bill-1956 was presented in the Lok Sabha a few days ago SAD and BJP MPs of Punjab were absent from the House and he was the alone to raise voice against the Bill.

He said Mr Badal was requested to call an all-party meeting in this connection but nothing had been done so far. If an amicable solution was not worked out for the water sharing problem of Punjab the state would be forced to follow the orders of the Supreme Court.

He said a “consensus resolution” was the need of the hour and the political parties should rise above the party lines to fight for the cause of the state. 


Indictment may cost Singla Nabha seat
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 8
The sentence served on former legislator Ramesh Singla to 18 months’ imprisonment has dealt a severe blow to his chances of standing for election from the Nabha Assembly constituency and weakened his case vis a vis Mr Randeep Singh, his bitter rival, son of former minister Gurdarshan Singh, who had lost the last election with a narrow margin, mainly due to opposition from Mr Singla.

A local state CBI court on Thursday sentenced Mr Ramesh Singla and nine others, including the Nabha branch manager of the Punjab and Sind Bank, for terms ranging from six months to three years on charges of entering into a conspiracy, whereby cheques were withdrawn from the bank under names of fictitious companies. The court has given Mr Singla two months to appeal against the judgement in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The judgement has severely affected his electoral chances from the Nabha Assembly seat. On the other hand, supporters of Mr Randeep Singh are buoyant. Today they expressed confidence that Mr Randeep Singh would now face little problem in securing the party ticket from Nabha.

In a statement here yesterday, Mr Singla tried to limit the damage, saying his brothers and partners looked after the family business as he did not get much time from political pursuits to look into business matters. He also said he had an unblemished political career and that there was not a single case of any irregularity against him during his career as office-bearer and president of the municipal committee and as legislator as well as General Secretary of the party.

Both Mr Randeep Singh and Mr Singla are bitter rivals. During the last Assembly elections, Mr Randeep had lost by a narrow margin to Raja Narinder Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal, mainly due to the fact that Mr Singla had entered the fray as an Independent. Their rivalry has continued after the elections with both leaders forming their own groups in the Nabha Municipal Committee.

Some months back, Mr Singla had given the impression that he had “sidelined” Mr Randeep Singh by holding a large rally in Nabha which was addressed by Pradesh Congress President Amarinder Singh. The PPCC chief has, however, all along played the balancing act and tried to mollify Mr Randeep Singh by visiting his house before addressing the rally.

Mr Singla again tried to gain a upper hand, claiming he would hold a rally in front of the statue of Sewa Singh Thikriwala. This was aimed at embarrassing Mr Amarinder Singh as Thikriwala had led the Praja Mandal agitation against the letter’s forefathers. Mr Singla was partly successful in this with the PPCC chief offering him the post of General Secretary of the party. However, supporters of the former legislator hope that he will be able to clear the hurdle, mainly because of his appeal at the grassroot level and that he may be adjusted by being allotted the party ticket from the Dhuri Assembly segment. This would be in the best interests of Mr Randeep Singh as well as the party.


Manmohan not in race for post of CM: Singla
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the media committee of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said today that the party high command had no proposal to project Dr Manmohan Singh as candidate for chief ministership of Punjab.

He said reports appearing in a section of the press that the high command planned to send Dr Manmohan Singh to Punjab to project him as Chief Minister in the coming Assembly elections had no basis.

He said that Dr Manmohan Singh was not interested in the state politics.

Dr Manmohan Singh, talking to TNS at the CRRID here, said he was not interested in becoming Punjab’s Chief Minister.

“These rumours are being floated by vested interests”, the Congress MP said.

Asked whether the high command was thinking on those lines, he said no such indication had been given to him.


Badal may meet reverted cops today
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 8
The Punjab Government has started contemplating arrangements to adjust those officials of the Punjab police who have been given ORP promotions and now have been ordered to be demoted to their original rank by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

According to information, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was likely to hold a meeting with these police officials tomorrow.

About 13 SPs, 20 DSPs and score of police officials belonging to the non-gazetted rank have been affected by the judgement of Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Sources added that the judgement had not affected those gazetted police officials who had been given ad hoc promotion by the state government instead of the Director-General of Police.

According to the Punjab police rules the DGP/IG, Punjab police, can give local rank promotion to the police officials up to the rank of inspector and promotions to the rank of DSP and SP can be given by the state government only. So the Punjab police officials who were given promotions to the rank DSPs and SPs by the then DGP fell into the category of ‘ORP’ promotions.

A section of police officials while talking to TNS on the condition of anonymity said if the Punjab Government did not take any action in this connection then they would feel demoralised. They pointed out that promotion in service was their constitutional right and hence it should not be denied to them.


Cops’ actions during terrorism right: Arora
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 8
Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, today said that the actions of the police personnel during their fight with terrorists in the state were justified as they were discharging their duty in abnormal circumstances.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said that, however, those police personnel should be punished who misused their power to settle personal scores.

About those police personnel who were facing trial for violation of human rights, he said that as the cases were in the court, he could not comment on them.

He did not give a direct reply to the question regarding giving general amnesty to the policemen. The fact that they had done their duty under odd conditions, should be considered before taking any decision about them, he said.

Regarding the abolition of octroi, Mr Arora said before taking decision on this, possible areas would be identified in which the taxes could be levied so that civic bodies did not suffer. The possible taxes could be, surcharge on sales tax, entry tax, development tax etc. The other states where octroi was abolished were collecting these taxes.

He further said that the municipal councils could increase the rates for supply of drinking water, house tax and other taxes and urban development would not slow down for the want of funds.

Mr Arora said that the expenses of the government should be reduced and for doing that number of employees in various departments should be reduced. He agreed that every department was overstaffed. He said that no other alternative was left with the government but to reduce the number of posts in departments.


Tributes paid to Giani Ditt Singh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 8
Cutting across social and political barriers people in large numbers turned up to pay their tributes to late Giani Ditt Singh, a prominent writer and a renowned social reformer, on his 100th death anniversary that was observed at his native Nandpur Klaur village, about 15 km from here, yesterday. The Shiromani Akali Dal and the BSP organised impressive conferences, which were addressed by senior leaders from both the parties.

Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president SGPC, while paying his tributes called upon the youth to follow the footsteps of such personalities. He announced that a memorial would be set up and a library would be opened at the village in his memory. He also assured to get his unprinted work published by the SGPC. He released a book “Durga Parbodh” by Giani Ditt Singh and published by NRIs from USA.

Besides paying his tributes Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, said prestigious development projects costing more than Rs 2,200 crore were underway in the state. He also asserted that the government had spent more than Rs 3,000 crore for the upliftment of the Scheduled Castes and weaker sections.

Speaking on the occasion, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab, said Giani Ditt Singh had made unmatched contribution to enrich the Sikh religion and culture. He announced to install a gate in the memory of the writer and to rename the Bassi Pathana-Kharar road as Giani Ditt Singh Marg.

Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, announced to rename the Government Senior Secondary School after the name of the writer and allocated a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the school building.

Among others who addressed the conference included Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu, Printing and Stationery Minister, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, OSD to CM, Mr Randhir Singh Cheema, former Minister, Sant Hardev Singh Lulonwale, Mr Balwant Singh Shahpur, MLA, and Jathedar Sawarn Singh Chanarthal, District President SAD.


Panel seeks transfer of SSP, Dhuri observes bandh
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, September 8
On a call given by the Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee, the Dhuri town today observed a near total bandh in protest against the failure of the police to arrest the killers of Ravi Kant (17), a local youth, who was allegedly kidnapped from here on August 14 and later his body was found in a canal near the Sangrur police lines.

Under the banner of “Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee,” a protest rally was organised here today in this regard at the Triveni Chownk in which a resolution was moved by Mr Sukhdev Sharma, secretary of the action committee. The committee demanded the immediate transfer of the SSP, Sangrur, in view of the deteriorating law and order situation in the district. Hundreds of activists, including women of various local trade unions, employees unions, political parties beopar mandals, social organisations and local residents, participated in the protest rally.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Achra Singh, state president, Punjab Kisan Sabha, Mr Major Singh Punnawal, state president, Punjab Kisan Sangharsh Committee, Mrs Hazari Lal, president, Kaccha Arhtiyas Association, Dhuri, Mr Mehma Singh, local CPI leader, Mr Rajwant Singh Ghulli, local Congress leader, Mr Iqbal Singh Chunda, local SHSAD leader, Mrs Kulwinder Begum, general secretary of the Dhuri unit of the Punjab Istri Sabha.

The speakers condemned the police for its failure to nab the killers of Ravi Kant. Some also demanded a CBI inquiry as they alleged that the Punjab police was trying to hush up the case. They also threatened to intensify their struggle, if the culprits were not arrested immediately.


Secy seeks more funds for nutrition
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 8
“The state government failed to provide requisite funds for giving nutritious diet to the children and expectant mothers in anganwaris in Punjab. It has only provided Rs 1.50 crore for this purpose against the required amount of Rs 18 crore during current financial year”, Mrs Romila Dube, Secretary Social Security and Women and Child Development, Punjab, said this while addressing a press conference after participating in the state-level workshop, organised by the Social Security And Women and Child Development Department on malnutrition and women health, at Ram Colony Camp, 5 kms from here, yesterday.

She said there were 13,099 anganwaris in Punjab where supplementary nutrition and health check-up services were being provided to 584332 children in the age group of three to six years and 128298 pregnant and nursing mothers. The Central Government was providing Rs 44 crore annually for the salary of CDPOs, anganwari workers and for other expenditure. The expenditure on nutritious diet had to be provided by the state government.

She said to create awareness about nutrition and other aspects it had been planned to impart training to 10,000 women panches and sarpanches under project UDISHA. At least 70,143 beneficiaries in the age group of six months to three years were provided nutrition under the Prime Minister Gramodya Yojna with a budget of Rs 678.751 lakh for 2001-2002. She said Kishori Shakti Yojna was being implemented in 10 blocks and it would be launched in 30 more blocks soon.

She said she had succeeded in motivating the participation of community to provide the nutritious diet to the children. About 4000 quintals of wheat and 1200 quintals of rice had been provided by various organisations for this purpose. She appealed to voluntary organisations to provide wheat and rice for nutritious food to the children, expectant and nursing mothers.

Mr R.L. Kalsia, Director, Social Security and Women and Child Development, said there were 8 lakh pensioners in various categories in the state. An additional sum of Rs 1.20 lakh had been sanctioned for pension.


Judicial complex inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 8
Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Inspecting Judge for Sangrur district inaugurated the newly-built district judicial complex here today.

On this occasion, Mr R.M. Gupta, District and Sessions Judge; Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner; and Mr Balraj Singh Sohi, President of the District Bar Association, were also present.

The courts will start functioning from September 10 in the newly-built complex. Mr Balraj Singh Sohi described the complex as “incomplete” stating that it has no Bar Room, no chambers for lawyers and no shed for litigants. He requested the authorities concerned to make arrangements for completing the remaining parts of the complex as early as possible.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, DC, assured the lawyers that efforts would be made for the construction of chambers for lawyers soon.


Punjab IDPD office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 8
The Punjab unit of the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) has drawn up a project on the topic “Health and Peace”, to create awareness among the people at the national and international-level.

Giving this information here yesterday, Dr Surinder Singla, newly-elected general secretary of the Punjab unit of the IDPD, said the organisation would organise declamation contests and debates especially in the colleges. First such contest for college students would be organised at the DMC, Ludhiana, in the last week of September, he added.

Dr Singla further said after the Ludhiana contest, such programme would be organised at other district headquarters to cover the entire state by the end of December. He said the IDPD would also educate masses to avoid tobacco and its products and to discourage female foeticide.

Dr Singla also said the newly-elected president, Dr M.K. Mahajan, Professor and Head, Radiotherapy Department, CMC, Ludhiana, had nominated other office-bearers of the Punjab unit of the IDPD: Senior vice-president — Dr Balbir Singh (Patiala); vice-presidents — Dr P.S. Brar (Kotkapura); Dr Tej Ram (Bathinda); Dr Bharti Uppal (Ludhiana); and Dr Nirmal Dhiman (Morinda); Joint Secretary — Dr Raj Kumar (Ludhiana); and Dr Naresh Goyal (Barnala); finance secretary — Dr S.S. Nijjar (Sangrur) and publicity secretary — Dr Ajay Bagga (Hoshiarpur).


Forum orders action against chemists
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 8
The District Consumer Forum has directed the Punjab Government and the Drug Controller, Punjab, to take stringent action against chemists involved in illegal practices and sale of expired drugs. The chemists seldom issue bills. This was stated by president of the forum, Mr J.P. Gupta and member S.K. Bhatia in a judgement issued recently.

They also directed the authorities to take action within three months and inform the forum. The strictures were passed by the forum on the complaint of a resident of Kurali against a local chemist.

The complainant had alleged that she had purchased medicines from the chemist last year based on the prescription of a doctor at the Civil Hospital (Kurali). However, the chemist allegedly supplied expired medicines. She asked the chemist to replace them. He, however, refused. She demanded a compensation of Rs 10,000 from the chemist.

The complainant was awarded a compensation of Rs 5,000, inclusive of the cost of the medicines.


‘Debar’ Sehajdharis from voting
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 8
Leaders of the Gurmit Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj today called upon Justice Harbans Singh (retired), Chief Gurdwara Election Commissioner, to debar Sehajdharis from casting their votes in the elections to the general house of the SGPC and check the interference of the non-Sikhs in the gurdwara affairs.

In a letter to Justice Harbans Singh, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, president, Sant Seva Singh Rampur Khera, vice-president, Sant Paramjit Singh, secretary -general, Sant Hari Singh, general secretary, and Sant Chamkaur Singh, secretary of the samaj, have observed that the Khalsa Panth is concerned over the right to vote to the Sehajdharis as these wold enable the anti-Panthic forces to interfere in the affairs of the gurdwaras. The well-wishers of the Sikh Panth want that the right of vote to Sehajdharis should be ended.

The Gurmit Sidhant Pracharak Sant Samaj has been opposing this and has demanded that the control of the gurdwaras should be in the hands of the Sikhs only. It had even submitted a memorandum to the National Minorities Commission in 1995.


Land possession to be regularised
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 8
The state government has sent instructions to all Deputy Commissioners in the state to sell land being used illegally for construction purposes to its occupants at the market rate.

In a press note issued here on Thursday, Mr Som Nath, Additional Deputy Commissioner, said the market price of the land would be determined by a committee to be headed by a Deputy Commissioner. It would include the President of the municipal council, a senior officer of PUDA, an Executive Engineer of the PWD, the Divisional Town Planner, the SDM and the District Revenue Officer.

The government has directed the district administration to sell five five-marla plots to the occupants by charging 20 per cent of the market price, 30 per cent for more than five marlas, 40 per cent for land between 10 marlas and one kanal and the full market rate for more than one kanal. The occupants have been asked to submit applications by October 22.


Public awareness vital for eye donation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, September 8
The Department of Ophthalmology, Christian Medical College and Hospital, orgnaised a poster painting and slogan writing competition for the medical students and interns yesterday. The theme was ‘Public Awareness on Eye Donation”.

A similar programme was conducted last year, and this year too, the students’ response was overwhelming. The programme titled ‘Kertoplant 2001’ coincided with the ‘Corneal Donation Fortnight’ (from August 25 to September 8), which was observed all over the country.

Dr Tejinder Singh, Professor, Department of Paediatrics, and Dean Undergraduate Studies CMC, was the chief guest. Speaking on the occasion, Dr S. Jaison, Professor and Head of the Eye Department, stated that although corneal blindness accounted for only 1.52 per cent, it was a matter of great concern as it affected children and young adults. 


Financers union donates ambulance
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 8
The Financers Association in the district today gave an ambulance to Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP. Mr Jaswant Singh Deo president of the association said on the occasion that the ambulance could be used at one of the MITEC centres on the main roads of the district.

Dr Jain said the police could do its job more effectively if they got the cooperation of the public.

He further said if the social organisations come forward the police could help the public in a big way. He said a plan was under consideration to purchase another ambulance which would be made available at some point on the national highway.


Municipal staff’s strike on Sept 13
Our Correspondent

Sunam, September 8
Municipal employees will observe a strike on September 13 throughout the state in protest against the proposed abolition of octroi and to press for their demands under the banner of the Punjab Municipal Workers Sangharsh Committee.

Stating this here yesterday, Mr Upkar Singh, a spokesman for the newly formed committee, said on that day no employee of the municipal councils would perform sanitation duty. Besides, the drinking water supply would be stopped during the first shift. The employees would also lock the municipal offices to prevent the entry of officers or any other person into the offices, he added.

Meanwhile, the dharna by the municipal employees in front of the municipal office here entered the third day yesterday.


Effigies of CM, ministers burnt
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 8
The Nangal Municipal Council employees today burned the effigies of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon and the Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, who represents the area to protest against the proposed abolition of octroi in the state. About 50 employees of the council and institutes being run by it organised a rally in Nangal and carried the effigies of the leaders in the procession throughout the town, before burning them at various crossings. The leaders while speaking on the occasion said the proposed abolition of octroi in the state would prove to be death knell for the 5,000 employees of councils and corporations across the state besides bringing the development works in urban areas to a halt. The institutes being run by the councils would also face closure after the abolition of octroi. The Nangal Municipal Council was running two schools and Shivalik College of Pharmacy which also face uncertain further the employee leaders alleged.

They also alleged that the abolition of octroi was aimed at benefiting the traders at the cost of the common people. The move was motivated and the workers would intensify their agitation if the Punjab Government decides to move ahead with it.


Magazine features life of Sobha Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday released a special issue of ‘Jan Sahit’ a Punjabi magazine focussing on the life and works of Sobha Singh. This issue is a part of the birth centenary celebrations of the artist.

The 224 page commemorative volume has been brought out by the Punjab Language Department. It has articles by 64 eminent writers, according to an official press note.


SGPC threatens to stop construction
of medical college
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 8
The SGPC today threatened to stop the construction of ‘Miri Piri’ Research Medical College and Hospital at Shahbad, Markanda in Haryana.

In a press note issued here today Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC, said the construction work would be stopped unless the local committee of Gurdwara Mastgarh (Shahpur Markanda) transfers the land deed to the SGPC. He said the SGPC had already spent Rs 80 lakh on the building. The SGPC attributed the non-transfer of land deed of the differences among members of the committee of that gurdwara.


Punjab to abolish octroi: Tandon
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 8
Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Minister for Local Bodies, has announced that the octroi in the state will be abolished. The municipal councils will be compensated by the state government with financial assistance every month equal to the loss of octroi.

He also assured the employees that their services would not be terminated and the surplus octroi staff would be accommodated at other places.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Tandon said octroi was levied only in four states of the country and all other states had already abolished it. He said this decision was also necessary to bring about uniformity on the roads. With this decision, a long-pending demand of the trade and industry had been fulfilled.

Later, Mr Tandon laid the foundation stone for the modernisation of the Mandi Gobindgarh bus stand at a cost of Rs 95 lakh.

Some municipal councillors of the town along with their supporters led by Mr Sadhu Singh, former minister and Mr Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, member, SGPC, staged a dharna and showed black flags to the minister against wasting money in the name of modernisation of the bus stand. They alleged that this project had been initiated just to grab money because the bus stand is already one of the best in the state.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Mr Tandon claimed that the income of all 142 municipal councils of the state had been enhanced to Rs 900 crore from Rs 350 crore during the past four years.

He said 20 modern bus stands were being constructed in all major towns of the state.

Referring to the financial position of the government, Mr Tandon asserted that the income from tax collection in the state had touched a new record of Rs 2800 crore annually, ever since the present government took charge, whereas earlier it was just Rs 1200 crore.

Referring to the demands raised by the speakers, he announced that sufficient funds would be released for the construction of two underbridges and one overbridge in the town. He also assured that more modern facilities would be extended to the residents of the adjoining villages.


Admn gets land, shops vacated
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 8
The district administration here this evening took the possession of 42 kanals of prime land, including 12 shops, worth Rs 3 crore, which was allegedly in the illegal possession of Pritam Singh Thalesan. The land reportedly belongs to Shahi Samadhan near Nabha Gate here which is under the management of the Punjab Government.

A large number of policemen, led by Mr Surjit Singh Grewal, DSP, Sangrur, were present to prevent any untoward incident at the time of taking the possession of the land. The possession was taken under the supervision of Mr Neelkanth Avhad, SDM, Sangrur, and Mr Amarjit Singh, Tehsildar, Sangrur.

The officers faced no opposition in getting the six occupied shops vacated from the shopkeepers. The remaining shops were unoccupied. The administration has also fixed boards there, stating: “This site is under the management of the Punjab Government”.

Mr Avhad said the occupants had been given one month’s time to vacate the property.

Mr Pritam Singh Thalesan was not present on the spot.


Amritsar abattoir to be shifted
 Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 8
The Chief Minister of Punjab Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today ordered to shift the abattoir outside the city limits within the next two months. Mr Badal was responding to the grievances of the people during a ‘sangat darshan’ organised in the assembly constituency of the BJP MLA, Mrs Laxmi Kanta Chawla.

The abattoir had been in operation on the outskirts of the city on the Jhabhal road for past over five decades and was the major source of supply to the city for meat and other products. It is close to the animal market yard where over 1,000 goats are brought every day from Rajasthan and are sold to local butchers while more than half of the goats are taken to Jammu and Kashmir daily by the Kashmiri traders.

The local Municipal Corporation has built the complex where more than 500 goats are slaughtered daily under un hygienic condition. According to a spokesman of abattior it is not properly maintained and is unable to cope with the growing demand of meat. The butchers in the area have been complaining to shift it from the present site to a bigger and better equipped complex outside the city limits.

Although the corporation charges Rs 5 per animal it is unable to provide better facilities to a large number of goats being brought daily from Rajasthan. The commission agents have been resisting the more to shift the abattori from the present site. This announcement may create problems for a large number of animal suppliers and the butchers.


Rs 2.5 lakh looted at gunpoint
Our Correspondent

Garhshankar, September 8
Two scooter-borne miscreants yesterday looted a bag containing Rs 2.5 lakh from Mr Sardara Singh, Secretary, Agriculture Society, Panam, at gunpoint near here.

No arrest has been made so far. 


Plea to fill vacant posts in schools
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 8
At least 34 out of 38 posts of principals, 24 out of 48 posts of headmasters, 131 out of 262 posts of lecturers, 42 posts of math teachers, 25 Hindi teachers, 36 Punjabi teachers and 77 out of 218 posts of classical cadres, are lying vacant in Government Schools of the district. Besides this 307 posts of primary schools teachers are also vacant.” This was disclosed by Mr Darshan Singh Dhillon, district president, Democratic Teachers Front.

He demanded immediate filling up of the vacant posts.

He also urged the government to create 1,446 more posts of teachers to create a ratio of 1:40 (one teacher for 40 students). More than 65 per cent schools in the district lack basic amenities of buildings, potable water, boundary walls, toilets, furniture, etc, he added.

A deputation of teachers met Ms Raji P Srivastava, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, and requested her that non-teaching works like census, polling, polio camps, distribution of wheat, sale of Red Cross tickets, duties in flood control rooms, should not be entrusted to the teachers. The deputation also demanded the setting up of the DIET at Mansa for in-service training of the teachers as at present they have to go to Bathinda or Ferozepore for the training.


Extend course dates: PCLA
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 8
The Punjab College Librarians Association (PCLA) has demanded relaxation from the condition of refresher courses upto December 2002 and to extend the date of these courses in order to provide help to the Librarians awaiting placements.

Stating this here today, the PCLA president, Mr Satnam Singh Ahluwalia, and the general secretary, Mr Barjinder Pal Dhiman, said the association had pointed out the matter through two separate memorandums addressed to the UGC Chairman and Principal Secretary of Higher Education, Punjab. In the memorandum, the association members had stated that participation in the UGC-sponsored refresher courses was a mandatory requirement for college librarians and lecturers for their placement in the senior scale and selection grade.

Mr Ahluwalia added that only a handful of the 51 academic staff colleges in India had conducted the refresher courses in Library and Information Science till the year 2000. With the result, a large number of library personnel had not been able to complete the refresher course.

The association also urged the Punjab Government to extend the last date for completing the refresher courses from December 2000 to December 2001. The members added that action in this regard must be taken to enable the affected librarians to get their senior and selection scales from the due date.

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