Thursday, September 13, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



US tragedy casts shadow on Doaba region
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 12
The widespread terror which has gripped the USA following the suspected terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon — has cast its shadow on the Doaba region. It has caused fear psychosis among relatives and friends of NRIs, particularly those living in and around New York and Washington.

Worried over the developments, people from all parts of the region gathered in small groups and desperately tried to establish contact with their near and dear ones.

But their efforts largely proved futile till early morning today as phone lines and other communication channels were jammed by the US security agencies after the explosions, which were suspected to have left thousands dead and injured. A large number of people from the region live in New York, Washington and their suburbs.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Sardool Singh of Jamsher village, near here said he and his entire family was stunned to know about the collapse of the two buildings and subsequent devastation in the USA. “I got worried about my brother Palwinder Singh, who lives in New York and picked up the phone to contact him. I failed to establish any link with him till this afternoon and was relieved to know that he was hale and hearty,” he said.

Similarly, Mr Harjinder Singh of Kahlon village in Nawanshahr district, whose brother Kulbir Singh lives in New York said, “I was so tense as I learnt about the incident and could not sleep the whole night. The phone line got connected only at around 5 a.m. today when I learnt that Kulbir was ok. But he was disturbed over the developments like other New Yorkers,” Mr Harjinder Singh said, adding that he unsuccessfully tried to get connected to New York through the Internet also.

A number of NRIs who are currently in India, have postponed their scheduled return to the USA under pressure from their relatives and friends. “I had to return this week. But my parents are holding me back as they are too scared to send me back to the USA for yesterday’s terror struck by terrorists,” he said. Mr Gurnam Singh of Khera village in the district said they could not sleep the whole night and tried to establish telephonic contact with their son Kamaljit, who is in New York. “When we failed to do so, we had to ask our another Befdford (UK)-based relative Makhan Singh to inform us about Kamaljit, who with the grace of God is alright,” he said.


Red alert at Raja Sansi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 12
In the aftermath of terrorists attack on key US installations yesterday, the Union Home Ministry sounded a red alert at the Raja Sansi Airport this morning and directed the security agencies to step up vigil in and around the airport.

The Director of the airport, Mr V.S. Mulekar, told this reporter that precautions had already been taken in view of the vulnerability of this border international airport. The airport had witnessed six hijack incidents. He said although the deployment of the CISF unit comprising 180 personnel had yet to be worked out in view of some logistic problems, the special CISF would be trained for anti-hijack techniques by the National Security Guards.

Mr Mulekar said the airport was well guarded.


CM flays attacks
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has condemned the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon in the USA, describing these as a “crime against the humanity”.


Punjab in cleft stick over recruitment
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
Is there a price-tag on jobs/posts being filled in Punjab? Yes, if one is to go by the petition filed by the Chairperson, Mrs Surjit Kaur, of the Central Cooperative Bank, Kapurthala. Interestingly, Mrs Surjit Kaur is none else than the wife of the Cabinet Minister, Mr Rabghbir Singh.

Notwithstanding the allegations by the Congress that posts were being ‘’auctioned’’ in the state, the petition by Mrs Surjit Kaur seems to have endorsed what the Congress alleges. The petition is in the wake of recruitment in the bank.

In fact, by lifting the ban on recruitment, the SAD-BJP government has invited more trouble than it anticipated. Having first tied itself into knots with nimble political fingers, it is unable to untie itself even with its teeth. This has resulted in two developments. One, lakhs of applications have been received for a variety of jobs/posts and, two, the decision, approved by the Council of Ministers, has given rise to a lot of political acrimony.

The latest on this front is the tussle reported between the Chairperson, Mrs Surjit Kaur, and the bank’s Managing Director, Mr Rashbeg Singh Dhillon, who is the brother-in-law (wife’s brother) of the Minister of Cooperation, Mr Ranjit Singh Brahmpura.

In the petition to the Registrar, Cooperatives, she has reportedly levelled serious allegations against the Managing Director as to how the recruitment process was being subverted. The bank had advertised 98 posts: junior accountants, 6; clerks/data entry operators 51; steno-typists 5; and peon/chowkidar 38.

It is interesting to note that the petition quotes the going ‘’price’’ for the advertised posts alleging that the Managing Director was promising to get appointments made for a consideration. The rates quoted in the petition are — junior accountant, Rs 6 lakh; clerk/data entry operator, Rs 4 lakh; and peon-cum-chowkidar, Rs 2 lakh. The petition refers to the political clout wielded by the Managing Director and alleges illegalities in recruitment.

It is believed nearly two lakh applications have been received for 786 different posts in 12 central cooperative banks in response to the advertisements. No vacancies are being filled in respect of seven banks because the elected Board of Directors has not been constituted. For the 12 banks alone, the additional financial burden is estimated at Rs 12 crore per annum.

In view of the grave financial crisis, all recruitments were banned in 1998. Now in the last year of its governance, the ban stands relaxed since April, 2001. The justification for lifting/relaxing the ban is stated to be ‘’administrative’’ and ‘’public interest’’. Earlier, prior approval of the Chief Minister was mandatory. This condition has now been waived.

Name any department where the recruitment process is on, job-seekers have inundated it with thousands of applications for a handful of jobs/posts. In the Rural Development and Panchayats Department there is a heavy rush. It is estimated that for Class III and IV posts (100 or so each) as also for the post of Panchayat Secretary (700-odd vacancies) lakhs of applications have been received. Education, Health and Police are other departments where applications have piled up.

Enquiries by TNS reveal there is no provision for the new jobs/posts in the current year’s budget. Sources said the file was sent twice to the Chief Minister for making approval by the Finance Department mandatory. But he is reported to have rejected this suggestion, made once by the Principal Secretary, Finance, and later by the Chief Secretary.

There are reports of interested parties and people even obtaining stay orders from the court on recruitment. A case in point is the Tarn Taran Cooperative Bank, where, Mr Brahmpura and Mr Surinder Singh Kairon (father of Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, Minister of Excise and Taxation) have locked political horns.

Contrary to its own policies, rather than filling vacancies by redeploying the surplus staff, estimated at 34,000, new recruitments are being made. Forget right-sizing or downsizing of the government when the race is to fill as many posts as possible. An estimated over 15,000 slots are up for grabs, it is learnt.

The SAD-BJP government has now realised it has no backdoor exit to escape from the trouble it has invited for itself. Informed sources say it is looking for ways and means to slow-down the process of recruitment delaying the final selections. But how to wriggle out? Is there a solution with the Advocate-General?

In its enthusiasm to recruit people, the council at its June 23 meeting had even amended Rule 17 of the Punjab Civil Services (General and Common Conditions of Service) Rules, 1994, facilitating wards of defence services personnel to take up the initial appointment against Class III posts without having cleared the Punjabi language paper of matriculation standard. That can now be cleared later within two years of joining service.

Notwithstanding the financial crisis, the council had also regularised, at its January 3 meeting, the services of 4,414 work-charged employees and 6,975 daily wage earners having completed three years of service as on December 31, 1999, with the former getting preference. No new posts were to be created for them. Only adjustment was to be made against vacant posts.

Sources say that in the wake of murky reports on recruitment and apprehending more brickbats than bouquets, the government reaction now is to be more prudent and ‘’go slow, make the final selection lists but withhold the results till after the assembly elections’’, say sources.

A strong opinion is emerging within the coalition partners that the recruitment drive may prove to be politically counter-productive in the elections. Recruitment has seemingly become a nightmare for the SAD-BJP with hopefuls making endless visits to politicians and bureaucrats for a "sifarish’’ to land a job.


Teachers’ removal: govt seeks legal opinion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Punjab Government has sought the legal opinion of the authorities concerned with regard to the implementation of a report submitted by a committee of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to remove 1,288 teachers from the Education Department.

The committee headed by Mr Tota Singh, Education Minister, in its report submitted to the Vidhan Sabha, has recommended the removal of 1,288 teachers, declaring that they have been recruited by tampering with the merit list. The committee has also recommended that the slots to be vacated by the removal of the teachers should be filled by those who actually deserved to be selected on the basis of their merit.

The committee has also recommended action against those involved in making the wrong selections. Sources said action would be taken against such officials on the basis of the legal opinion. The selection of the teachers was made during the previous Congress Government.

Informed sources said that only after the legal opinion would action be taken to remove the teachers. Already, the authorities concerned in the Education Department have initiated the process to enforce the recommendations of the committee. Sources said it was mandatory for the department to implement the report within 90 days after its acceptance by the Vidhan Sabha. The report was accepted by the Vidhan Sabha on August 22.

Sources said the government was worried as enforcement of the recommendations could have an adverse affect on the SAD-BJP ruling combine in the state. Interestingly, the SAD-BJP government had itself passed an Act in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in September, 1999, to retain all such teachers selected during the tenure of the previous government. Why the committee continued to function even after the passing of the Act is a question being raised by the teachers to be affected by the recommendations.

Meanwhile, a number of ruling party politicians are pressing the government not to take any hasty step in this case. They say that it would not be advisable to remove the teachers who have served the department for a number of years. They have asked the government to take a sympathetic view of the issue.


Dispense with services of re-employed officers: BKU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Bharti Kisan Union today urged the Punjab Government to immediately remove all those officials, who have been re-employed after attaining the age of superannuation in various Government departments.

Addressing a press conference at the local Press club, the BKU General Secretary, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, said that the re-employment in the state had become a norm or rather an exception. In fact, it has assumed the dimensions of a scandal.

While thousands and thousands of youths in the state were running from pillar to post for employment, the State Government had given employment to several retired persons via backdoor. He said that not only retired officers had been re-employed but they had been provided with all official facilities like cars, Government houses and subordinate staff.

And this has been done violating all the Standing Orders issued by the Government from time to time.

The BKU has quoted an instance of the Revenue Department where about five retired officers had been re-employed in various capacities. Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, who was accompanied by Mr Baldev Singh Mianpur, President of the BKU and Mr Onkar Singh Angol, General Secretary of the State unit of the BKU, said that in the Revenue Department one retired IAS officer, one retired Additional Sessions Judge, one retired Additional District Attorney, one retired Tehsildar and one other retired officer had been re- appointed. He said that this was in addition to the official staff like a special secretary, two Joint Secretaries, three Under Secretaries, and private secretaries and personal assistants etc.

The BKU leaders said that the Government recruited about 20 Tehsildars a few months ago. They were supposed to be appointed in tehsils or elsewhere after giving a training of 30 months as per the Rule 24 of the Punjab Tehsildar Training Act, 1984. However, they have been given regular postings only after eight months of training which was illegal. As they are not trained fully officers, many had no knowledge of revenue work. And some of them were attesting affidavits by using powers of a Magistrate.

The BKU has stated that all this should be probed. Otherwise, the BKU would knock the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek justice and to get the illegal actions of the Department right.

Meanwhile, the BKU has urged to give Rs 720 as minimum support price of paddy. It has sought the waiving of all bank loans of farmers. Mr Rajewal said that the BKU would support the political party which would announce the waiving of the loans.

He said that the inquiry in the assets of Mr Badal should be held. He said that Capt Amarinder Singh had made very serious allegations. Either Mr Badal should make his position clear in this connection or subject himself to inquiry. He said that the BKU had information that many of the SAD-BJP Ministers had become rich after coming into power. He named atleast two Ministers. He said that it was unfortunate that Mr Badal had not kept his promise of declaring the assets of his Ministers.


Punjab Cong to meet Governor on SYL
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12
Looking for issues to bolster its poll campaign, the Punjab Congress has decided to nail the Badal government over its talks with Haryana on the issues of river-water sharing and transfer of Chandigarh. A high-level delegation of the party will meet the Punjab Governor soon to complain about the way the Badal government was “compromising the state’s interests” on these vital issues.

Aware that polls could be held in the state as early as November, the Congress is seeking to raise the pitch of its attack on the Badal government. At today’s coordination committee meeting held at the AICC here, party’s senior leaders, including Mr Motilal Vora and Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, discussed the party’s poll preparations in case of an early election. The meeting was attended by 11 of the 12 members of the coordination committee.

While the party’s election manifesto will still take some weeks to come, Mr Amarinder Singh submitted the draft of the party’s charge sheet against the Badal government. The draft would be studied by senior leaders at the high-command level, including Mr Manmohan Singh, before the charge sheet is formally released.

As part of its “ground strategy”, the state Congress’ campaign committee would now meet in Chandigarh on September 15 to decide about rallies which the party plans to hold in each of the 117 constituencies of the state in the coming two months.


Another arms racket unearthed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 12
Even as the dust raised by the Ferozepore arms scandal yet to settle down some residents of the area have found another way of possessing illegal arms legally, by engraving genuine numbers on them.

The modus operandi of these miscreants were that they procured photocopies of the arms licence from somebody by making false promises to him. They kept these copies with them to produce before the authorities at the time of inspection.

They purchased illegal weapons which were available at cheap rates in the neighbouring states. After purchasing these weapons they used to get genuine numbers engraved on them. These numbers were taken from photocopies of genuine arms licences.

At times on one genuine licence a number of unlicensed weapons were kept. The scandal came to light when the district police arrested Baljeet Singh, alias Happy, a resident of Kotkapura in Faridkot district, Raj Kumar, alias Raju alias Dimpa, Mohan Lal alias Bhopi. A case against them under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 34 of the IPC and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act has been registered.

The culprits procured the photocopy of the arms licence of Dharam Singh, a resident of Dhaipai under Kotkapura police station. Dharam Singh was authorised to own one .12 bore gun and one .32 bore revolver. The number of the gun registered on the licence was 14917-89 and that of the revolver was 81-B. The licence was issued by the District Magistrate, Faridkot.

Raj Kumar, one of the accused too owned a .32 bore revolver on which was made in England. The accused got the number 81-B engraved on it. He was caught as he forgot to change the name of the manufacturer on the weapon.

Another .315 bore illegal pistol with four live cartridges were also recovered from the accused.


CPI negotiates poll tie-up with Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Punjab unit of the CPI today admitted that it was negotiating with the Congress to jointly contest the assembly elections in the state.

Addressing a press conference, Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the CPI, said that his party was inclined to have adjustment of seats with the Congress in the elections.

He said the CPI would call a meeting of all parties next week to discuss various developments in the state and inter-state issues like the river waters dispute and transfer of Punjabi-speaking areas and Chandigarh to Punjab.

His party had extended support to the call given by the five kisan organisations for a “chakka jam” agitation for two hours on September 20. Traffic in the entire state would be stopped.

Dr Dayal said the allegations of amassing huge wealth by the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, should be probed by a judicial commission. He said Mr Badal should resign or set up the judicial commission in consultation with the high court. In fact, he said, a probe should be ordered against all present and former ministers, even if they belonged to the Congress. Mr Badal had himself stated that he would declare his assets and those of his ministers. He said the SAD-BJP combine should give Rs 50 per quintal as bonus on paddy as the minimum support price announced for it by the Union Government was inadequate.


Mohindra stakes claim on Assembly seat
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
Senior Congress leader and former minister Brahm Mohindra today said he was still a candidate for the Patiala Assembly seat for which members of the District Congress Committee had recommended the name of PPCC president Amarinder Singh to the Congress observer yesterday. He alleged that he had not been informed officially about the visit of the observer.

Mr Mohindra said he was certainly a candidate for the seat which he had represented thrice in the state Assembly, adding that he had been given wrong information about the visit of observer Shiv Kumar Upmanyu. He said earlier he had been told that Mr Upmanyu was coming to the city two days ago. He had rung up at the Circuit House, to enquire and had been told that he might come the next day. However, when he called at the Circuit House today, he was told that the observer had left the city.

Mr Mohindra said he would leave the issue to the high command. He said he was already in touch with the high command on the issue.

Meanwhile, the parading of supporters in front of Congress observer Choudhary Daulat Ram continued today with aspirants from the Samana and Shutrana Assembly constituencies putting up their case. The tussle for one-upmanship was between former MP Sant Ram Singla and Harinderpal Singh Mann, both of whom had a large number of supporters. While supporters of Mr Mann thronged the PWD Guest House, those of Mr Singla gathered at a nearby marriage palace before marching to the guest house.

Mr Singla was accompanied by the president of the Samana Municipal Committee, besides members of the committee, members of the Arhatiya Association, District Youth Congress president Sanjeev Sharma and members of the Bar Association. His supporters, while interacting with the observer, said he was the only Congressman to have wrested the Samana seat in 1980 for the Congress after defeating the combined candidate of the Akali Dal, BJP and the Left parties. They said Mr Singla was accepted by all sections of society.

Mr Mann claimed that 40 sarpanches of the Samana constituency had accompanied him besides members of the municipal committee, former committee president I.S. Waraich and members of the Industries Association.

For the Shutrana (reserved) seat, former legislators Hamir Singh Ghagga and Satwant Singh Mohi presented their case to the election observer along with their supporters. Local leader Kabir Dass also presented his case.


SAD (B) adviser
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has appointed Mr Amrit Lal Garg, President of the Agar-Nagar Society, Ludhiana, as adviser to the Shiromani Akali Dal, according to a press note issued here today by the party’s secretary, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar


Saragarhi a saga of bravery
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 12
The story of 21 Sikh soldiers who died fighting against heavy odds while defending the Saragarhi fort against 10,000 Pathans in Wazirstan on September 12, 1897, is an instance of one of the most daring feats in Indian history.

The 36 Sikh Regiment (now 4 Sikh) was at Jalandhar in April, 1897, under the command of Colonel Cook. In January, 1897, the regiment was sent to Fort Lockhart, of which Saragarhi and Gulistan were important posts. On the morning of September 12, 1897, about 10,000 Pathans surrounded Saragarhi and took positions within 1,000 yards of the fort. Thereafter, they opened fire.

There were only 21 Sikh soldiers in the fort. Outside help was out of question. Sepoy Gurmukh Singh, the radio operator, heliographed to his commander, Colonel Naughhten, informing him about the attack. On orders from the commander, these brave soldiers returned fire. The battle continued for seven hours. At about 2 p.m., the Garrison began to run out of ammunition and a request was made to the Colonel for more supplies. No supplies came, but the soldiers were told to hold their position. In the meantime, the Pathans asked the Sikh soldiers to surrender but they preferred to die fighting.

In the end, the leader of the brave band, Havildar Ishar Singh, was left alone. With consummate skill, regardless of the bullets whistling around his head, he kept sending his heliographic communications.

According to a contemporary Army authority, Havildar Ishar Singh, the only man alive, took his rifle and placed himself in front of the doorway. He fought with the army all alone. Unconquered, even in death, the Sikh war cry, “Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh” rang from his dying lips in defiance of the enemy. The silence followed.

The Indo-Pakistan border town of Ferozepore, where these 21 brave Sikh soldiers belonged to, is privileged to have their permanent memory in the form of historic Saragarhi Memorial Gurdwara. Every year on September 12, a religious congregation is hosted there in the morning, while re-union of ex-servicemen is held in the afternoon.

The Gurdwara, in which same stones have been used which had witnessed grim battle of Saragarhi, was built at a cost of Rs 27,118 and publicly declared open on January 18, 1904, by Sir Charles Montgomery Rivas, the then Lieutenant Governor of Punjab.


Floods expose civic body’s claims
Rajnish Sharma

The recent rains have exposed the tall claims made by the Municipal Council that it is fully prepared to fight any situation arising from rains. Though the construction of roads is appreciable, yet the raising of their level makes the town prone to flooding. Moreover the newly laid cemented roads have developed cracks at many places. In the absence of a fool-proof water drainage system the town became a lake during the torrential rains on August 9, 10 and 14. Every part of the town whether it be main roads or bazaars were inundated and the streets turned into rivulets affecting commuters, office-goers and school children, who were compelled them to stay indoor. It took nearly five to 12 hours for the drains to be cleared as these were filled with waste.

Those days were like a nightmare as all main roads like Railway Road, Hospital Road, Kotwali Road, Model Road and roads extending from all five gates to the bazaars are under knee-deep water. The worst affected was the road extending from Boran Gate to Old Sabzi Mandi were the water entered the shops which were two feet above the road.

Patients had to suffer a lot as water from this road entered the hospital, thus changing the hospital complex to a marshland. The other pathetic roads were the one extending from Patiala Gate to Bhiki More and that extending from Mehs Gate to Sadar Bazaar, where several vehicles, particularly two-wheelers, were stranded.

Residential areas like Pandusar, Kartarpura, Hira Mahal and many lanes like Dojhian, Majhial and around the fort remained submerged in water for hours. The vegetable market and bus stand were converted into lakes as the drains were choked and water from these areas overflowing.

The only big drain, along Cinema road, which caters to the need of the town was unable to cope as water started flowing back into it around the cinema hall. The town’s problem of water-logging was due to clogging of drains and occupation of the other drain which was once active. That drain used to run parallel to the present drain and was situated at a slight elevation. Now that drain has disappeared as the people have built houses over it. This all went under the nose of then Municipal Committee (now Municipal Council).

Garbage from the drains flowed out and was spread over in the whole area. But this is a common phenomenon as sweepers keep the garbage on the edge of the drains which again moves into them.

Resentment prevails among the residents as stagnant water and garbage have been spread out at almost all places emitting a foul smell. They fear that the garbage can lead to water-borne diseases.

Mr Rajesh Babla, Chairman of Municipal Council, when contacted claimed that the water dispersal was much faster than before. The council planned to construct a drain which could be similar to the previous drain that had been filled for houses to be built.


Panthic Morcha holds dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 12
The top leadership of the newly formed Panthic Morcha addressed a large gathering of thousands of people at a protest dharna here today. The leadership called upon the people to inflict a crushing defeat on the SAD and the Congress in the coming Assembly poll and provide an opportunity to the morcha to form a government in Punjab. The morcha leaders said they had formed the morcha to prevent the people from leaning towards the Congress. The people, they said, were fed up with the SAD-BJP regime due to its “wrong” policies. The morcha leaders also urged the gathering to strengthen the morcha to prevent the SAD and the Congress from capturing power in the state in the coming Assembly elections.

The leaders said they would not allow sharing of Punjab’s river waters with other states in case the apex court delivered a decision to provide Punjab’s waters to Haryana and Rajasthan or Parliament passed a Bill to this effect.

The leaders also criticised the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for corruption in Punjab. They also levelled corruption charges against Mr Badal and his family. The morcha leaders also criticised the Congress for allegedly “committing excesses” on Sikhs in the past and demolishing the Akal Takht in 1984.

At today’s protest dharna, almost all top leaders of the Panthic Morcha participated, including Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, convener of the Panthic Morcha, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Ravi Inder Singh,Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Jathedar Surjan Singh Thekedar and Mr Dhian Singh Mand.

The dharna was organised to protest against the “wrong” policies of the Badal government and the BJP-led Central Government. Addressing the dharna, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi alleged that Mr Badal had “tarnished” the ideology and traditions of Sikhism and Sri Akal Takht. He said the Sikhs would not forgive Mr Badal for this.

Baba Bedi also announced that the Panthic Morcha, after the Assembly elections, would form a new Akali Dal. He said the new Akali Dal would be formed before April, 2002, and would have a president, a vidhan and a sanvidhan.

Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra described Mr Badal as a “traitor” of the Sikh Panth alleging that he had lowered the image of the panth. He also sought “politicial death” of Mr Badal to save the panth and Sri Akal Takht. He said by providing the right to vote in the SGPC election to non-Sikhs, Mr Badal wanted to control the management of the SGPC.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann announced that if the Panthic Morcha was voted to power in the ensuing elections, it would not impose any tax for six months; rather it would amass money from the “corrupt” Akalis, led by Mr Badal, and the Congressmen to run the government. He asserted that the morcha would not allow even a single drop of Punjab’s water to flow in Haryana even by delaying the apex court’s decision in favour of Haryana with regard to river waters.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, spoke on incidents of suicides by farmers in the state. He said if Punjab’s water went to another state, the cases of suicides would increase in the state.

Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra claimed that the next government in the state would be of the Panthic Morcha. He also said the morcha had been formed so that the people did not lean towards the Congress.

Among others who addressed the gathering included Mr Dhian Singh Mand, Capt Harcharan Singh Rode, Jathedar Surjan Singh Thekedar, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhalwan, Mr Randhir Singh Rakhra and Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, all leaders of the Panthic Morcha.


Identify poor homeless people’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 12
To expedite the allotment of five-marla plots to all homeless poor people in villages, the block-level committees, comprising the BDPO, tehsildar, and Tehsil Welfare Officer, have been formed to visit each village to identify the beneficiaries as per the normal laid down by the government.

These directions were given by Mr M.P. Arora, Additional Deputy Commissioner, while reviewing the progress of the scheme in the monthly meeting of the development committee held under his chairmanship at Bachat Bhavan, here today.

Mr Arora directed all BDPOs to finalise the lists of the beneficiaries village wise and submit to the SDM, concerned who is the Chairman of the plot allotment committee at the sub-division level along with the resolutions of the general houses of Gram Sabhas. He also told the SDMs to make the random checking of the lists personally before issuing the allotment letters and asked them to form two block-level verification committees where number of villages was much higher.

The ADC directed all district heads of the different departments to frequently make surprise checking of their subordinate offices to ensure the punctuality and presence of the staff. He also asked them to send monthly reports regarding the checking and action taken against the defaulting officials.

The ADC also directed the EOs of all Municipal Councils to send the required information about the eligible cases who were residing in the houses built up on the MC land and prepare their cases for the allotment of the encroached land at the concessional rates announced by the government. He also informed that the application forms for this purpose could be obtained from the offices of the SDMs and MCs.

Among others who attended the meeting were Mr Rubinderjit Singh Brar, Assistant Commissioner (G), Mr J.R. Ghai, DDPO, Mr Randhawa, SP(HQ), and SDMs of all sub-divisions.


Salaries ‘embezzled’ in warehousing corpn
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 12
Startling facts showing embezzlement of lakhs of rupees by officials of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation here have come to light. It is learnt that the corporation has engaged 34 chowkidars who are shown to be paid Rs 1,876 each per month, but they are actually paid Rs 800 each per month and the rest of the amount is allegedly pocketed by the officials concerned of the corporation.

The sum of Rs 67,955 which was snatched by some miscreants from Mr Buta Singh accountant of the corporation, after he had withdrawn the amount from the main branch of State Bank of Patiala earlier this month, was meant for payment of wages to these 34 chowkidars. Normally payments to the employees are made through cheques, but the corporation has been paying these chowkidars in cash to short-change them.

To cap it all, the corporation has actually engaged 20 chowkidars while it is claiming payment for 34 chowkidars. Knowledgeable sources further said that the corporation was ‘spending’ Rs 1.30 lakh per month on cleaning of passages between the stacks of foodgrains while, in reality, no amount was spent on this work as Markfed got this work done by engaging only two labourers once a month for one day only for stacks of 50,000 bags.

When contacted, Mr Chajju Singh, District Manager of the corporation, denied the allegations.


Improvement Trust chief issued contempt notice
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 12
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a contempt notice to Chairman Mohan Lal Garg of the Improvement Trust, Executive Officer Avtar Singh and civil works contractor Jain Paul in a writ filed by a city resident over the illegal construction allegedly carried out by the trust authorities on a piece of land belonging to her.

Official sources said Ms Anita Garg, in a writ petition, alleged that the trust authorities along with the civil works contractor had tried to encroach upon the piece of land belonging to her.

In the contempt notices issued to the Chairman and the Executive Officer of the trust and the civil works contractor, the high court held “whereas from the material laid before this court has been made to appear that you are guilty of contempt of court punishable under Section 12 of the Contempt of Court Act, 1971, the proceeding in the matter will be laid before this court for determination or change on November 6, 2001. You are hereby directed to attend the court on November 6, 2001 in person to answer the charge and file the affidavit at least seven days before the said date in support of your defence, if any.” Earlier, Mr Pawan Garg who is a co-owner of the land, had moved an application to the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, had asked the SDM to enquire into the matter who had further directed the trust authorities to stop construction over the plot of land till the inquiry was over.

Ms Garg alleged that the trust authorities had been carrying out the construction in violation of the SDM’s orders.

Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman, Improvement Trust, said no construction was being carried out on the land which belonged to the petitioner. He said the work was being done as per the record of the trust. A boundary wall around the plot had been constructed about four years ago at the cost of Rs 2 lakh by the Improvement Trust. Now an office complex of the trust was being built, he said.

When asked why the trust was constructing another office when it already had a well furnished office at Veer Colony, Mr Garg said the existing office was too small to accommodate all employees.


Arms licence checking extended for week
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 12
Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate, has extended the checking of arms licences by another week from today. In a press note issued here today, the District Magistrate said he had got reports that a large number of arms holders had not followed his directions to get their licences examined. He warned if the arms holders failed to comply with his order, their licences would be cancelled and arms forfeited.

Mr Prasad said the arms holders of Faridkot city and Sadar could get their licences checked from the local Tehsildar, EO, Nagar Council, AETC and Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board, Naib Tehsildar and Secretary, Market Committee, Faridkot. Similarly, residents of Kot Kapura and Sadar could avail the services of the EO, Nagar Council, Naib Tehsildar and Assistant Registrar, Cooperative Societies and BDPO, Secretary, Market Committee and Excise and Taxation Officer of the town. Inhabitants of Sadiq could get their licences checked by the district Mandi Officer, BDPO and the Naib Tehsildar, Faridkot.

The Chief Secretary, Punjab, Mr N.K. Arora, had asked all Deputy Commissioners in the state last month to verify arms licences in their respective areas following a racket involving issuance of fake licences in the district. The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had already marked an inquiry into the matter.


Truckers gherao toll staff
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, September 12
It was a field day for hundreds of vehicle drivers as agitated truckers forced employees working for the contractor of the Satlej bridge toll tax barrier near the bridge here to flee this afternoon.

The truckers alleged that the employees were overcharging vehicle owners, including truck drivers, and indulging in hooliganism with those who refused to pay beyond the toll tax charges fixed by the government.

It was around 12.30 pm when the truck drivers from Phagwara, Phillaur and Ludhiana started converging at the bridge and gheraoed the employees, asking them to show their contract with the authorities, which according to the truckers, had already expired.

As the employees could not give a satisfactory reply, they fled the scene. Later the truckers sat on a dharna. Vehicle owners passing the barrier did not have to pay the toll.

Hundreds of truck drivers had virtually taken charge of the toll tax posts on the bridge. “For me it was a break from the monotony of paying tax everyday while coming back from Ludhiana and waiting in queue to get the slip” said a Phillaur-based college teacher.

Mr Satbir Singh Sabhi, vice-president of the Punjab Truck Operators Union, who was leading the truckers alleged that the employees of the contractor were overcharging for the past several months.

“Not only this, they had around 50 goons at the posts who used to maltreat or even beat up those who refused to pay the amount being charged by them”, he alleged.

He said if the toll charges for a car and truck were Rs 5 and Rs 20, respectively, the employees forced people to cough up Rs 15 and Rs 50, respectively.

“Though according to rules they cannot charge excessive amount from vehicle owners of other states, but they used to force them to pay four times more”, Mr Bhupinder Singh, president of the Punjab State Goods Transport Association, alleged, that the truckers would lift the dharna only when the contractor proved that his contract had not lapsed.

Traffic was plying undisrupted on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana highway.


Work-charged staff not regularised
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 12
Although the Punjab Government has ordered all departments to regularise the services of the work-charged staff and daily wagers by adjusting them against the existing vacant posts within four months, the local Municipal Corporation authorities have failed to initiate the process so far.

The state government, after reviewing the policy of regularisation of the work-charged staff, the daily wagers and other categories, had issued instructions to all departments to absorb all these employees against the vacant posts.

But the civic body has failed to implement the orders and has not initiated the process of regularisation even after nine months. Mr Naresh Kumar, president of MCJ Seweragement and Water Supply Labour Union said this here today.

“We met the Commissioner, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, several times in the past four months to expedite the process of regularisation, but nothing concrete was done. The union has already submitted a memorandum to the Commissioner to accept its long-pending demand before September 18, failing which the employees will launch an agitation against the indifferent attitude of the civic body officials,” Mr Pawan Kumar, president of the Water Supply Technical workers Union said.

The Commissioner was not available for comments.


Punjab karamcharis hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 12
The Punjab State Kamachari Dal today demanded the immediate implementation of 15 per cent house rent for the employees, which was assured by the Chief Minister during the International Mazdoor Day in May 1998.

This was stated by the Karamchari Dal during a dharna staged in front of the Commissioner’s office, Patiala Division, on the Mall Road here. The dharna was also staged in front of the offices of Chief Engineer, PWD (B&R) and Public Health Department.

The dharna was presided over by the state president, Mr Hari Singh Tohra, in which various government, semi-government employees and pensioners of Punjab took part. The dharna was staged in protest against the non-fulfillment of demands of employee by the Punjab Government.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Tohra said they were disturbed by the apathy of the Punjab Government, which had failed to heed to their demands. He said the assurance of giving 15 per cent house rent that was made by the government in May, 1998, has not been implemented so far.

He added that various other demands, including five per cent and 10 per cent increment in the pensions of 65 and 75-years-old persons, had also not been put into practice. He said the decision was given by State Finance Minister at Fatehgarh Sahib on April 25.

Mr Tohra said despite the issuance of a notification, no action regarding the regularisation of workcharge and daily-wagers, who have completed three years of service, had been taken by the authorities. Even the contractual system employed by various departments had lead to the degradation of machinery. He contradicted the abolition of octroi which, according to him, would further mar the income of the MC.

While addressing the rally, leaders showed concern over the non-availability of bonus to the employees since 1997 and said despite repeated requests made to the authorities concerned, no action had been taken. The leaders added that the time-bound scales of 4,9 and 14 years had also not been made available to them.

The dal has given October 8 as the deadline for the acceptance of their demands, failing which a massive dharna would be held at Chandigarh on October 10 whereupon further plans would be sorted out.


BSM to hold rallies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
The Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) will hold rallies in different cities of Punjab in order to strengthen the party’s base keeping in view the forthcoming assembly elections in the state.

This was stated by Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, former member of Parliament and President of the state unit of the BSM, while addressing a press conference here today. Mr Kainth said that the BSM would make up its mind on any type of electoral alliance when the assembly elections were announced and added that his party had no part in the decision making of the present SAD-BJP alliance in the state.

He claimed that the BSM had the potential to fight at least 70 assembly seats and the party was ready to go it alone, if necessary. Mr Kainth said that Mr Kanshi Ram’s claim that there was no leader in the BSP was wrong since Mr Kanshi Ram never let any person to emerge as a leader.

Mr Kainth added that keeping in view the various electoral combinations no party could come to power on its own and it was here that the BSM would play a vital role in the government formation.

Mr Paramjit Kainth, convener of the district unit of the party, said that the party would hold rallies at Amritsar on September 15, Nihalsinghwala on September 16, Ludhiana on September 22 and Banga on September 23.


Zaffarwal acquitted in shooting case
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 12
Mr M.R. Batra, District and Sessions Judge yesterday here acquitted Wassan Singh Zaffarwal in a shooting case registered against him on February 19, 1986, at city police station, Batala. His accomplice was acquitted in the same case by Mr A.S. Sodhi, Additional Sessions Judge, on March 12, 1988.

According to an FIR, the duo was involved in the shooting incident in which five persons identified as Satwant Singh,Sudershan Kumar, Kuldip Kumar, Mukesh Kumar and Arun Kumar were killed near Government Senior Secondary School, Batala. A case under Sections 302, 307, 34 of the IPC was registered against them.

Sarbjit was arrested on May 27, 1986, while Zaffarwal announced the constitution of the Panthak Committee and fled to Pakistan. Zaffarwal was declared a proclaimed offender in the case.

The District and Sessions Judge acquitted him in the case for want of adequate evidence.


Chohan files plea for regular bail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
Khalistan ideologue Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan today furnished bail bonds in a local court and moved an application for the grant of regular bail.

Dr Chohan today furnished bail bonds of Rs 25,000 in the court of Judicial Magistrate (First Class) Mewa Singh on the direction of Additional Session Judge B. S. Mangat who had granted him anticipatory bail on September 4.

The counsel for Dr Chohan while moving an application for the grant of regular bail, said no recovery was to be made from Dr Chohan and that sending him behind bars would not serve any purpose. The Judge fixed September 19 for the next date of hearing in the case. Arguments would also be held that day and notice in this regard has been issued to Congress legal cell member and advocate Jagmohan Singh Saini who is the complainant in the case.

Earlier on September 4, the Additional Sessions Judge had granted anticipatory bail to Dr Chohan. A complaint had been filed against him at the instance of Mr Saini who had claimed that he had raised the issue for the creation of a separate state for Sikhs at a press conference at Chandigarh soon after he returned from abroad. The complainant had also alleged that Dr Chohan had rung him up to ask his suggestions as to what was needed to initiate the process of creation of such a state.


NCC cadets donate blood
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 12
A blood donation camp was organised yesterday by the NCC cadets of various colleges and schools of the state in cooperation with the district branch of State Bank of Patiala and the district Red Cross Society at the ITI here.

Four hundred NCC cadets from various schools and colleges of Ropar, Patiala, Nabha, Sangrur, Barnala, Mansa, Bathinda and its adjoining areas participated in the camp. A total of 38 cadets donated blood, at the camp.

The blood donation camp was part of an annual training camp for NCC cadets being held at the ITI here from September 7 to September 18. Cleanliness in the local Civil Hospital and bus stand are some of the other activities being undertaken at the camp. Ms Raj Gupta, a social activist of the area, and Mr Balbir Singh, Principal of the ITI, addressed the cadets on the occasion.


Lawyers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 12
Members of the District Bar Association struck work today in protest against the non-allotment of land for new chambers in the district court complex. Lawyers also sat on a dharna.

The president of the association, Mr Sarabjit Singh, said the foundation stone for 16 chambers was laid by Mr M.S. Gill, a justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

However, the district administration had been dithering on the issue of allotting land despite repeated reminders.


Chief Engineer suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 12
The Punjab Government has placed under suspension Mr Manmohan Singh, Chief Engineer, Government Aero Engine Overhauling Workshop, Patiala, for allegedly committing irregularities. He allegedly misguided senior officers in purchases, hiring of services for installation, mandatory inspections, etc.

Stating this here today Raja Narinder Singh, Civil Aviation Minister, said that an inquiry had been ordered by the Vigilance Department into the alleged irregulatities.

During his suspension approved firms would be entrusted with the proper maintenance of state aircraft.


Cong observer locked out of room
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 12
A Congress observer and senior Himachal Pradesh leader, Chaudhary Daulat Ram, who has come to the city to assess Congress aspirants for the party ticket from seven Assembly seats of the Patiala Parliamentary constituency, was locked out of his room in the PWD guest house here today.

According to sources, the step was taken at the behest of local PWD Minister Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur following a complaint that some flowers pots had been broken during a quarrel between former minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa and former Minister Amarjit Kaur.


‘Excessive use of pesticides harmful’
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, September 12
Cotton growers of Punjab have reportedly spent about Rs 750 crore on the spray of insecticides on the cotton crop to save it from the attack of American bollworm in the cotton belt of the state this year.

Four teams of Punjab Agricultural University and officials of the Punjab Agriculture Department have been undertaking survey of the cotton belt in order to assess the damage by the American bollworm and the preventive measures.

According to Dr Darshan Singh, Professor and Head, Department of Entomology, Punjab Agricultural University teams surveyed 276 fields in the cotton-growing areas of the state and found that the problem of American bollworm still persisted. The experts had warned that the indiscriminate use of synthetic pyrethroids or their mixtures would harm the quality of seed cotton.


Farmers’ march in Delhi on Nov 9
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 12
Farmers from all over the country will stage a march in New Delhi on November 9 in protest against the participation of India in the WTO conference in Doha.

This decision was taken by farmer leaders at a meeting held at Mauran Wali dharamshala here last evening. The leaders criticised the liberalisation and disinvestment policies of the Central Government.

Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president of the Punjab unit of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta), said the NDA government had surrendered the interests of the farmers to multinational companies.


Car thieves’ gang member held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 12
The district police has arrested a member of an interstate of car thieves.

Yesterday, the suspect, a resident of Virk Kalan village, was arrested at a naka set up near Chuge Kalan village in the district. He was unable to produce the documents of the jeep in which he was travelling. On being questioned, the suspect said he, along with Rajwant Singh, alias Pammi of Virk Kalan and Gurtej Singh, alias Teja, of Bharu, had hired the jeep from Ellenabad in Haryana in April.

He said they took the jeep to Sanghria in Rajasthan, where they killed the driver of the jeep and took away the vehicle. Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, said a case under Section 25 of the Arms Act and Section 411 of the IPC had been registered in this regard.


Petrol station worker shot dead
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 12
Two unidentified youths shot dead Shiv Dev Kumar Sharma (65), an employee of Sutlej Petrol Pump, at Banga road here and decamped with Rs 1,29,900 cash today in the broad daylight.

According to sources, Shiv Dev was going to a bank for depositing the amount on his scooter. When he reached near Taxi Stand, the youths, also on a scooter, blocked his way and shot him at his head. They took the cash and fled towards Banga.


College teachers go on strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 12
Teachers of local colleges observed a strike in protest against the non-implementation of their demands by the Punjab Government.

They also organised a rally on the DAV College campus where tactics adopted by the government for not granting pension and gratuity to teachers of private colleges were condemned. Students criticised the strike by the teachers which was hampering their studies.


Lecturers hold strike against police action
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 12
Teachers of the local colleges today observed a strike and staged a dharna to protest against the police action against lecturers holding demonstration in front of the mini-secretariat, at Ludhiana.

Addressing teachers and students, Prof Davinder Arora and Prof S.N. Rudra, president and secretary, respectively, of the PCCTU, condemned the police for manhandling the teachers and for the illegal detention of the state president, Prof K.B.S. Sodhi, and other leaders.

Meanwhile, the PCCTU has decided to intensify agitation against the government for not accepting the demands of teachers which include implementation of pension and gratuity scheme and the release of arrears with effect from January 1,1996. It has also decided to observe stay-in-strikes daily for two hours till September 22.

Professor Arora said the union had decided to boycott all work relating to house examination.

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