Monday, September 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Killing of Sikh: SGPC writes to Vajpayee
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 16
Feeling deeply concerned at daily reports of harassment to Sikhs in America over mistaken identity which already has led to the killing of a Sikh there, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) today wrote to the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behare Vajpayee urging him to take up the matter urgently with the US government, so that the attacks on members of the Sikh community were stopped forthwith.

The SGPC president, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi today told The Tribune that he was shocked and pained over the report of killing of a Sikh in Arizona due to mistaken identity. Mr Talwandi, who was visibly upset over the incidents, pointed out, “mistaken identity is no alibi of harassing people to the extent of shooting them to death”.

On the other hand, it was reliably learnt that the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal has talked to the Prime Minister and conveyed his concern to him. He is reported to have impressed upon the PM to ensure that there was no more harassment to Sikhs as the reports continued to pour in that Sikhs were being victimised and their religious places targeted by the hooligans.

Mr Talwandi said that SGPC executive committee also passed a resolution at a meeting yesterday at Alamgir, Gurdwara seeking immediate attention of the Prime Minister. Mr Talwandi said, the Sikhs the world over had been feeling deeply concerned and shocked over the daily reports that the Sikhs were being targeted in cases of mistaken identity in the USA.

He said, while the entire Sikh community across the world stood by the people of America in their moment of grief, it also expected that the innocent people were not harassed and victimised. “We do not expect this to happen in a civilised society like that of America”, Mr Talwandi observed, while cautioning restraint among the Sikhs.

The reports of victimisation of Sikhs in America have added to the already prevailing concern among the Sikh community here. “While earlier we were concerned about the people in Washington and New York only, now we are worried over the entire Sikh community living across America”, the SGPC president remarked, while calling upon the US government to take all possible measures to stop harassment and victimisation of Sikhs there.

Mr Talwandi pointed out, the SGPC had already taken up the issue with the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh. He pointed out, “we are trapped in an unfortunate situation, where the predicament of the US government was understandable. Because they are faced with one of the worst crisis. But at the same time, we expect the safety, security and honour of our people to be safeguarded at all costs”.

The Punjab Cultural Promotion Council has also expressed concern over the attack on Sikhs in the USA. A meeting of the council was held under the chairmanship of its president Mr Devinder Singh Chhinna, which condemned the terrorist attacks in Washington and New York also.


Gloom in Passival village
Panicky residents call up kin in USA

Kapurthala, September 16
The murder of a Sikh migrant in USA allegedly due to mistaken identity yesterday, in the aftermath of terrorist strikes, has left residents of his native Passival village shell-shocked.

Mr Balbir Singh Sodhi was shot dead in Phoenix town of Arizona after he was mistaken to be an Afghan national due to his flowing beard and head turban. A pall of gloom enveloped the village in Bholath subdivision of this district when the news of his murder reached.

Mr Sodhi, who had migrated to the USA 12 years ago, was telephonically conveyed to his brother Jagjit Singh Sodhi last night by his relatives.

Mr Jagjit Singh, when contacted, said his brother was running a petrol station and a grocery store in Phoenix for the past six months. He was shot dead by three or four persons at his petrol station as he was mistaken to be a follower of Osama bin Laden, the prime suspect in the terrorist strikes in USA.

Balbir Singh Sodhi is survived by his wife, three sons and two daughters, all settled in the USA.

A large number of villagers in Bholath area visited the house of Jagjit Singh to mourn the death of his brother.

The death of Mr Balbir Singh has caused panic among families who have relatives in the USA. Villagers have begun crowding public call booths to ring up their relatives to know their well-being.

Kapurthala district is in the heartland of Doaba from where a large number of people have migrated to North America. The outflow continues unabated despite the Malta boat tragedy in the Mediterranean Sea off the Sicily coast in December, 1996 in which close to 200 youths, mostly from Doaba, were drowned.

The Sikh clergy and the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) have already appealed to the US government to ensure the safety of Sikhs. The SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi had written to Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh, requesting him to ask the Indian Embassy and consulates in the USA to take up the issue of security of the Sikhs with the US Administration.

Many Sikhs have been manhandled and abused, their businesses damaged and religious places attacked after the terrorist strikes, largely due to their resemblance with the Afghans.

Mr Sodhi, was tending to his garden in his gas station premises when four car-borne whites struck and pumped bullets in to him at around 2.30 a.m. (Indian Standard Time). Mr Sodhi who sustained bullet injuries in his chest and head, died on the spot. The US police has nabbed two assailants.

A sobbing Mr Jagjit Singh said the body of his 50-year-old brother would be cremated in Phoenix tomorrow. UNI


Air of uncertainty in Punjab
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
As the USA prepares for the operations against Afghanistan and terrorism, there is an air of uncertainty, a sense of apprehension and an under-current of disquiet in Punjab. The unknown scale of the ‘’theatre of war’’ further heightens the anxiety.

Questions such as Will Punjab, too, face the heat? and is it prepared to meet new challenges? are being frequently asked.

Given the worldwide spread of the Punjabi diaspora, reports of incidents of violence against Sikhs (including three shootouts) and an attack on a Gurdwara in the USA have added to the mounting fears among families living in the state. The Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Sikh clergy and the SGPC have taken up the issue with the Centre to ensure the ‘’safety’’ of the Sikhs abroad who are being targeted in a case of ‘’mistaken identity’’.

The Sikh organisations in the USA and Canada are also organising themselves to launch a major media blitz to allay Americans’ apprehensions about their identity and religion. The New York Mayor has assured security to the minority community and jail to those committing violence against the Sikhs.

The Chief Secretary, Mr N. K. Arora, told TNS today: ‘The ‘Punjab Government is seized of the evolving situation’’. From the bitter experience of the decade-long turmoil caused by terrorism, aided and abetted by Pakistan’s ISI and new war clouds gathering in the region, Mr Badal has spoken twice to the Home Minister, Mr L. K. Advani, and Mr Jaswant Singh, who doubles up as the Minister of Defence and External Affairs, seeking appropriate steps in Punjab as also in the USA.

Mr Badal in his talk with the Union Ministers referred to certain vital, sensitive installations in the state requesting greater security for these. He has also conveyed the anxiety of the state regarding the attacks on Sikhs abroad demanding urgent steps to protect them and their property in the USA and elsewhere.

Mr Arora has held informal discussions with the Director-General of Police, Mr Sarabjit Singh. ‘’We are closely monitoring the developments in the region. There is no reason to panic’’, he added.

The Principal Secretary, Home, Mr Bikramjit Singh, said the police had been given the necessary instructions to be on high alert. For the present, the focus was on providing security cover in Patiala and Ropar districts in view of the coming Presidential Review of the Indian Air Force in Chandigarh on October 17, he added.

Punjab’s strategic geographical location and 553 km international border, touching Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepure, also calls for special attention. These districts bore the brunt of militancy and of the Indo-Pak wars of 1965 and 1971. Tremors of any disturbances on the India-Pakistan border or in the bordering Jammu and Kashmir are felt by these districts first. Even now Punjab’s proximity to the emerging ‘’war zone’’ calls for people’s preparedness for any eventuality as also for greater vigil.

People living on the border, though in high spirits, do have apprehensions and talk of an uncertain future. These people have suffered the most. Their problems have two dimensions: economic hardship and poverty coupled with the lack of development (infrastructure, growth and employment). The state has also been a victim of the low-intensity proxy war by Pakistan. ‘’We cannot escape the heat once war begins’’, is the common refrain in the border districts.

The state’s countryside is dotted with 12,729 villages accounting for 66.05 per cent of the population.

The only road (Wagah) and rail links (Attari) with Pakistan are also through Punjab. The state also has an international airport at Rajasansi in Amritsar. At least 16 international flights operate to Eastern Europe and Sharjah from there every week. Thus far, there is neither interruption in the flight schedules nor drop in the air passenger traffic. Both the Samjhauta Express and the friendship bus from New Delhi to Lahore are running as per schedule.

The fact is that no attempt has so far been made by the government for an interface/ dialogue with the people through the appropriate channels. Even as a border state, there is no awareness among the people-about any contingency plan the state may have with it to deal with any given emergency situation.

Punjab requires to raise special reserves to deal with disasters, natural and manmade. Unfortunately, there is no such comprehensive plan or machinery encompassing the departments and agencies (including NGOs) concerned for quick-action deployment, in terms of men and material. There is no inbuilt system or training programme involving the youth to prepare the state and its people for any eventuality. A sensitive state like Punjab has to learn many lessons from the way the salvage operations are being carried out in New York.

The Punjab police has had in-house discussions, later reiterating the existing instructions to the field formations to maintain vigil. Meanwhile, the dusk-to-dawn curfew is operative in the border belt as is putting up of ‘’nakas’’ by the BSF despite the fence. As in other states, Punjab too, perhaps, looks to the Centre to act and react.


Pak may ask ultras to shift
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 16
Pakistan, which has been aiding and abetting the movement of “Khalistan” for more than two decades, may ask the Sikh militants in the country either to shift to other countries or keep a low profile in the wake of international pressure against terrorism after the monstrous attacks at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Pakistan cannot adopt double standards on terrorism as its President, Gen Pervez Musharraf, has announced that Pakistan would back all global efforts to wipe out international terrorism following the US request for helping it mount attacks on Afghanistan.

Significantly, General Musharraf has started describing the ‘Mujahideen’ as terrorists. General Musharraf is in a catch-22 situation as he may face retaliation from the ‘mujahideen’ trained by the Taliban.

Sikh militants have been launching a movement from the land of Pakistan, for a separate Sikh state since the eighties. During Gurpurb, propaganda is launched from Sikh shrines in Pakistan as radicals from all over the world assemble there. Inflammatory literature is distributed on the occasion. Sources said after extending support to the USA, Pakistan would not let the Sikh militants to carry out their activities openly.

More than 30 top Sikh militants have taken shelter in Pakistan. They are Wadhawa Singh, Mehal Singh of the Babbar Khalsa, Lakhmir Singh Rode, President, International Sikh Youth Federation, Ranjit Singh Neeta, Chief of the Khalistan Zindabad Force, Parmjit Singh Panjwar, chief of the Khalistan Commando Force, and Gajinder Singh, Chairman of the Dal Khalsa.

Though banners by different Sikh organisations were put up during the Gurpurb celebrations in various Gurdwaras in April this year, it was Gajinder Singh, a hijacker who openly met devotees and participants of the World Punjabi Conference at Lahore. The chiefs of the Khalistan Commando Force, the International Sikh Youth Federation and the Khalistan Zindabad Force did not meet the ‘sangat’ openly as they continue to endeavour to create “Khalistan” through violence. However, Gajinder Singh has denounced violence.

Pakistan continues to aid and abet Sikh militants. Time and again India has requested America and other countries to declare Pakistan a ‘terrorist state’, but to no avail. Now after the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center, USA has sought the support of all countries to curb the menace of terrorism.

Sources say in such a situation, Pakistan will have to ask the Sikh militants to shift to other countries or keep low, at least for the time being. Moreover, the Sikh militants have virtually become a liability for Pakistan as they have lost support in India.

The statement by the Dal Khalsa, condemning the horrific attacks in the USA is a clear indication that it (Dal Khalsa) no longer preaches is violence. Mr Kanwarpal Singh, a spokesman of the outfit, said the Dal Khalsa shared America’s grief over the “greatest tragedy in the 21st century”.


PPCC promises probe into Badal’s assets
Prashant Sood
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 16
The Punjab Congress, which is finalising its charge sheet against the Badal government, has decided to pin down the SAD-BJP coalition on the issues of “corruption, mismanagement of economy, problems of farmers, collapse of industry and threat to peace.”

Punjab Congress chief Amarinder Singh, who has submitted draft of the charge sheet to the Congress high command, said that problem of unemployment in Punjab was getting worse because of “corruption.” Alleging that money was changing hands in appointments, he said the Congress would review the local recruitments “opened” by the Subordinate Service Commission in the past few months. The PCC chief said that if his party came to power, it would “clean” the state Public Service Commission and Subordinate Service Commission.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that land in the controversial Anandgarh project would be reverted to the owners.

Alleging that the Badal family had amassed thousands of crores of rupees, he said that he had offered to submit a list of his assests to a designated judge if Mr Badal also agreed to do so.

Maintaining that the Congress was committed to eradicating corruption, Capt Amarinder Singh said that if the party came to power, it would request the Chief Justice of the state high court to appoint a judge to probe corruption charges against the Badal government. “The probe would start with Mr Badal and his family,” the PCC chief said.

Asserting that the Congress would defend the police officers who had combated militancy in the state, he accused the Badal government and the Centre of being “soft” towards former militants. He said that the Centre had pruned the list of NRIs, whose activities in the past were objectionable, to only 50.


Badal announces new canal in Ferozepore
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, September 16
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, said to improve the irrigation facilities in Ferozepore, a new canal would be constructed at a cost of Rs 53 crore.

Mr Badal, who continued his sangat darshan programme today at various villages of the district, also announced a grant of Rs 20 lakh for Chottra minor to improve the irrigation facilities in the region. He said during the past four years Rs 30 crore had been spent for the repair and improvement of about 2,000 km of canals, minors and distributaries.

The union government, under the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) project, had sanctioned an amount of Rs 150 crore. With this 2,500 km of canals would be remodelled which would benefit about 6 lakh hectares of land in Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.

He accused previous Congress governments for not caring about the development in the state and the poor infrastructure. He announced liberal grants for the panchayats of 37 villages and instructed the officials that these should be used as early as possible so that the people could enjoy benefits of the policies of the state government.

Mr Raj Pal Meena, DIG, Faridkot Range, Mr K.J.S. Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar and Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, Muktsar were also present on the occasion.


Warrants against SP, SHO
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 16
The CBI Special Magistrate Mr Jaspinder Singh Heyar, has issued non-bailable warrants against the Barnala SP (Headquarters) Mr Mohinder Singh and an SHO of the Majitha Police District Mr Kishen Singh. The Special Magistrate has asked both of them to appear in the court on October 16 which has also been set as the next date of hearing by the court.

The CBI after completing investigations had filed a charge sheet against the two police officials in the court in a case pertaining to the alleged disappearance of truck driver Sukhwinder Singh on July 27, 1990 from the Shahzada village bus stand in Majitha.

When the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the CBI to investigate the case, Mohinder Singh had filed an affidavit in the court in stating warrants that Sukhwinder Singh had been declared an absconder in a criminal case. The CBI has alleged that both the police officers had tampered with official records in an attempt to implicate Sukhwinder Singh in a criminal case.


Kanshi chides SC govt employees
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 16
The BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, addressing a well-attended sammelan at Doaba Milan Palace, Mahilpur, today asked employees belonging to the Scheduled Castes come forward to make the struggle for social change a success.

Mr Kanshi Ram said despite education and employment, they had done little for furthering the struggle for social change. He said they must realise their responsibility towards their community.

Dr S.K. Sukhi welcomed the BSP supremo and Mr Sat Pal Sahlon conducted the stage. A sum of Rs 1.22 lakh was presented to Mr Kanshi Ram on the occasion.


‘Sangat darshan’ on Sept 20
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister of Punjab, will distribute cheques for all-round development of 70 village panchayats in the Morinda Assembly Constituency at a ‘‘sangat darshan’’ programme at Ratwara Sahib, near Mullanpur Garibdass, on September 20.

The Chief Minister will also hear grievances of the residents of the area on the occasion, Mr Ujjagar Singh Badali, a senior SAD leader, said in a statement today.


Forum’s directive on non-construction fee
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 16
The District Consumer Forum has directed the local Improvement Trust authorities against recovering any non-construction fee from a complainant, Mr Ravi Kumar Jain.

The complainant, a resident of Ropar, told the forum that he was allotted plot No 368, measuring 250 sq metres in Dashmesh Nagar, on November 29, 1989. He alleged that the deposited the entire cost of the plot on schedule. The construction over the plot was to be raised within three years after getting the map approved from the Improvement Trust authorities. However, the authorities failed to provide facilities like roads, sewerage, water, electricity, etc on time. Even the maps of the colony were approved by the Town and Country Planning Department on January 1, 1993.

The authorities, after remaining silent till 1998, issued a letter to the complainant, demanding non-construction fee at the rate of Rs 150 per sq yard.

After receiving the letter, the complainant submitted a site plan for approval for raising the construction, which was rejected by the authorities on the plea that until the complainant submitted the non-construction fee of Rs 79,500 and an interest amount of Rs 28,620, he would not be given the permission to start the construction.

The authorities also threatened to forfeit the plot if the fee was not deposited. The complainant termed the fee imposed on him as illegal stating that the trust had not provided the basic infrastructure for starting the construction and demanded a compensation of Rs 1,50,000 for the negligence on the part of the Improvement Trust.

The Improvement Trust authorities, in their reply before the court, pleaded that there was no deficiency in service on their part.

The basic facilities were provided in the colony by the authorities due to which the complainant was liable to the fine imposed upon him in the form of the non-construction fee, they maintained.

After examining the evidence by both parties in the form of affidavits, the forum comprising the president, Mr J.P. Gupta, and a member, Mr S.K. Bhatia, maintained that as per the letter of allotment the complainant had to start construction at the plot till November 28, 1992. However, there was hardly any evidence on record to hold that the basic facilities had been provided by the Improvement Trust till that time to enable him to start the construction. The forum directed the Improvement Trust against recovering any non-construction fee from the complainant. It also directed the authorities to sanction the site plan and execute the sale deed of the plot in favour of the complainant within 30 days. The plea of the complainant for compensation was turned down due to lack of evidence of loss.


PSEB engineers decry transfers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 16
The PSEB Engineers Association yesterday alleged that transfers of senior engineers were aimed at ensuring the Board did not function efficiently and these were based on considerations other than merit.

In a statement here, association president M.S. Bajwa said the Executive Committee had taken note of the step which had been undertaken even though there was a ban on transfers. He added the management was bent upon ruining the working of the board.

He said the management continued to violate the Electricity (Supply) Act 1948 under which all electricity boards were bound to generate a surplus of 3 per cent on their fixed assets. However, from 1996-97 to 1999-2000 the board managements had achieved a negative return of growth.

The association president said the situation improved in 2000 - 2001 when the Board initiated serious action against theft of electricity and in that year the rate of return improved.

Mr Bajwa said the management had not only failed to save its financial and managerial autonomy but had also not taken any step to improve its working. He said a complete action plan to implement two world class consultancy reports on ‘’Re-engineering of the PSEB’’ and PSEB’s Information Technology Plan’’, besides a plan ‘’to redesign the PSEB working on Mumbai Suburban Electric Supply Company’’ was gathering dust with the board Management.

He said the recommendations when implemented could not only provide 24 hours supply to 12000 villages in Punjab without any additional financial implication but also make the PSEB earn an additional revenue of Rs 2000 crore per annum.

He said while the board was investing in the power system it was neither providing adequate manpower nor creating desirable infrastructure on training its staff. He said for the past three years no fresh assistant engineer had been recruited and despite fixing the date for the entrance examination, the test was postponed twice.


Orissa deaths due to food poisoning: minister
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 16
In typical government style of seeking refuge in technicalities, the Union Minister of State for Food, Mr Ashok Pradhan, today sought to attribute the starvation deaths in Orissa to food poisoning. He claimed that the people there had died, not because of starvation but due to the “food poisoning”. However, he had no answers when it was pointed out that food poisoning was caused after people had to eat mango kernel as they had no food to escape starvation.

Talking to reporters after addressing a public rally organised by the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Mr Pradhan said, he had received the inquiry report conducted into the starvation deaths in Orissa where it had been found that the deaths were caused by “food poisoning and not starvation”.

However, Mr Pradhan had no answers when it was pointed out to him that the food poisoning had been caused after the people had to eat the mango kernels since they had no food to eat. In fact the people are dying there after eating mango kernels.

The Union Food Minister sought to blame the Orissa government for the deaths. He said, the role of the central government was quite limited. “The union government only purchases food and keeps it at the disposal of the state governments who have to distribute it through Public Distribution System”, he explained.

Mr Pradhan said, there were abundant food stocks in the country to feed all country men. But what went wrong where, he could not explain. He said, despite the fact that there are abundant food stocks lying in the godowns in Punjab, each and every grain of paddy would be purchased and procured by the government.

Referring to the elections in Punjab and Uttar Pradesh (from where he has been elected to the Lok Sabha), Mr Pradhan claimed the alliance partners in both states were in comfortable position to return to power with a landslide win.


Octroi to go soon: Tandon
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 16
The Minister for Local Government, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, today said octroi would be abolished adding that the state government was in the final stage of working out modalities for the purposes.

Mr Tandon, however, said it was not possible to immediately give up Rs 530 crore revenue which was the mainstay of more than 143 municipalities and corporations. While traders had been requested to compensate for at least half of the revenue, the government was committed to contribute the other half, he said.

On the proposed changes in the Municipal Act, 1976, Mr Tandon said under the amendment, the clause of secret ballot to elect the Mayor would be withdrawn and replaced by the system of show of hands.


Police steps to check drug abuse
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 16
Drug addiction is widespread among youths of Barnala police district. With people’s cooperation the Barnala district police has initiated steps to check this menace of drugs in two months.

Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sandhu, new SSP, Barnala police district stated this today after inaugurating a blood camp organised by Swami Nitya Nand Moni Memorial Welfare Society Barnala in local Bansal Palace.

The SSP who was the chief guest of the welfare society function said that without people’s cooperation the police would not be able to check drug-addiction among young people.

Praising efforts of Moni Society members for utilising youth energy for noble and constructive pursuits, the SSP said the police while dealing sternly with anti-socials and criminals would also offer an opportunity to criminals and offenders to reform themselves to lead peaceful life according to the dictum “Hate crime, not the person committing a crime.”

Mr Malkit Singh Keetu, MLA Barnala, who presided over this function offered an ambulance in the memory of his late mother Mrs Gulab Kaur on this occasion to help serious patients shifting to various hospitals.

Mr Keetu said all sections of society like politicians, officers, voluntary organisations, traders and employees could serve mankind in their own way.

Mr Keetu presented a cash award of Rs 500 and memento to Mrs Sarla Rani a safai karamchari of State Bank of Patiala, SD College, Barnala branch for her honesty. Mrs Sarla Rani had handed over a packet of notes of Rs 10,000 to Mr R.K. Jindal, Bank Manager. The packet was forgotten by a customer in the bank premises.

Pandit Som Dutt former Punjab minister, Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal, chairman Punjab Beopar Mandal, Rupinder Singh Sandhu and chairman Improvement Trust Barnala addressed the gathering.


Medical camp organised
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 16
A medical camp was organised by the Jain Welfare Society here today. A team of heart specialists comprising Dr R.P. Singh, Dr H.S. Pannu and Dr K.C. Mukherjee examined the patients who were provided medicines free of cost.

Mr Bimal Parkash Jain, chairman of the society, in a press note said as many as 285 patients were examined in the camp and medicines given and all diagnostic tests, including ECG and Echo, done free of cost.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Cabinet Minister, who inaugurated the camp, lauded the welfare activities of the society. He announced a grant of Rs 11,000 for the society.

He said installing benches at the Civil Hospital, organising hepatitis-B vaccination camps in rural areas and slums and donating beds to the hospital were some of the activities of the welfare society.


IMA seeks MCI’s intervention
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 16
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association today sought the intervention of the Medical Council of India for saving the future of about 130 medical graduates of Punjab who are facing hardships in getting admission to post-graduate medical courses.

In a five-page letter to the council president today, Dr Raman Aggarwal, chairman, Action Committee-cum-Legal Cell of the IMA, Punjab, said despite two counsellings held on March 29 and 30 and August 14 this year, Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, was putting off classes of PG candidates who had opted for the DMC on the basis of a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court even though PG candidates allotted seats in government medical colleges at Amritsar, Patiala, Faridkot were attending classes since April 16.

The discrimination should be ended and a directive sent to the DMC authorities for starting classes of candidates who were selected on the basis of the post-graduate entrance test conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences.


24-hour power supply to villages
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 16
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has initiated work on providing 24 hours' electricity supply to villages falling in the southern zone.

Stating this in a press note issued here recently, the Board said the amount to be spent under the Electricity Supply Scheme had been deposited so that the work could be taken up immediately. 

Under the scheme, of a total of 675 villages in the Sangrur region, more than 400 villages had already been provided with 24 hours' power supply. The work was in full stream in at least 80 other villages, while the panchayats of 180 villages had been asked to deposit their share of amount with the board to get this facility.


New paddy sowing method attracts experts
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Idna (Jalandhar), September 16
The small farm of Bahadur Singh here has become a centre of attraction for farmers and agricultural scientists from various parts of the country and abroad for the ongoing experimentation on the unique ridge sowing technique of paddy in his field.

Curious farmers and farm scientists from countries like the USA and Australia are making a beeline to the farm of Bahadur Singh to observe the successful experiment, which may change the agricultural scenario of the country in terms of better yield, less farm inputs and less of attacks by pests as far as the paddy crop was concerned.

The lush green 15 acre paddy field where Bahadur Singh has sown paddy on ridges has already been adopted by the Department of Agriculture, Punjab Agriculture University Ludhiana, and the Agricultural Technology Management Agency (ATMA).

Mr Balbir Chand, the Agriculture Development Officer (ADO), who is supervising the unique experiment by Bahadur Singh on behalf of the state Agriculture Department, said in addition to cutting costs of inputs by Rs 500 to 700 per acre, the ridge sowing method showed very good results as far as the health of the plant, pest control and yield was concerned. “We cannot say anything about the yield at the moment, but the health of plants on ridges reflects that it will be certainly more than the paddy sown by using conventional method of puddling,” said Mr Balbir Chand. He said the dry part of the field on the ridges allowed better pest and weed management, which in other words meant more yield per acre, particularly in areas with heavy soils. “Moreover, this methods automatically gives birth to wormiculture on ridges, which in turn, keeps the soil loose with better aeration of the crop,” said Mr Balbir Singh adding that the method reduced the chances of crop being attacked by fungal diseases for it did not restrict flow of the air at the root level.

Farm experts said the ridge sowing method was very good for soil as it leads to better percolation of water unlike the conventional puddling method, which results in the formation of a heavy cake of the soil on its upper part only. “We have observed that the ridge sowing method allowed even yield in the field which was not in the case with the conventional method, where the yield was less in the centre of the field for lack of aeration in the central parts,” said Bahadur Singh, who said he had adopted the method last year also successfully, but it was for the first time that he was going in for scientific monitoring with the help of the Agriculture Department and the PAU authorities.

Bahadur Singh who keeps a visitor book at his farm house, said a number of eminent scientists, including Dr Peter R. Hobbs from the USA and Dr Jagdish Timsina from the University of Melbourne, Australia, had visited his farm to see his experiment. To enable the farmers to see the novel experiment the Department of Agriculture and the district administration are organising a field day at his farm tomorrow.


MC office peon suspended
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 16
Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, municipal council served a notice under section 39 of the Punjab Municipal Act (1911) to Charanjit Singh, for alleged misuse of his “powers” and corruption. Charanjit Singh, a peon had been placed under suspension and an application was moved to the district police authorities for necessary action by the municipal authorities.

The notice served a few days ago said Pooran Singh, a kin of Charanjit Singh, allegedly stole a gold bracelet of a municipal employee, Ms Maya Devi. Pooran Singh was a regular visitor to the municipal office.

The notice, a copy of which was procured by The Tribune today, further said Charanjit Singh with his relative Pooran Singh allegedly used to collect money from the roadside vendors and rehri owners of the Sirki Bazaar of the city.

Pooran Singh also allegedly used to move around in the city with other employees of the council in its official vehicle.

The incident came to the light when after search a “misplaced” gold bracelet was found to be stolen by Pooran Singh. It was also found that he had been collecting tehbazaari tax from rehri owners of the city. Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, municipal councillor, had raised the matter in the House.

Officials of the council had been reportedly involved in one or the other controversy for the past few weeks. A councillor pleading anonymity said these incidents had brought a bad name to the reputation of the house. Mr Krishan Kumar Garg and Mr Basant Bhatia were allegedly beaten up by a group of councillors belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on August 28.The councillors alleged that they were beaten up because time and again they had been raising the issue of rampant corruption in the civic body.

While the dust raised by these alleged incidents was yet to settle down a team of the Vigilance Office of the Local Bodies Department started an inquiry into the alleged bungling in various development works carried out in the city by the council authorities. On its two-day visit to the city beginning from September 10 the team examined the quality of the material used in the construction of the streets and took many samples.

The head of the inquiry team, refused to divulge the details. He said there was some bungling in the construction of the roads and the streets and the report would be submitted to the department.

The sample would be sent to a laboratory for examination and only after the report was received it would be established that whether the material used was of sub-standard quality or not. The report would be received in a month, he added.

Mr Shiv Kumar Mittal, Executive Officer, when contacted, said a reply from Charanjit Singh had been received and it was being evaluated. 


2 youths held for murder of jeweller
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 16
The Kotwali police claims to have solved the mystery surrounding the murder of Bhupinder Singh (35), a jeweller, with the arrest of two of his trainees, Sukhwinder Singh and Kulwant Singh, both in their twenties.

According to the police, Bhupinder Singh owned a small jewellery shop in Chaurasti Attarri area of the walled city and had been missing since September 13. Bhupinder’s mother lodged a complaint with the police about her missing son. His body was found from the Chatiwind Canal yesterday. The police added that the arrested persons were learning the making of jewellery from Bhupinder Singh and had hatched the plan to kill their employer as both had decided to steal Rs 50,000 and gold from his shop. Both Sukhwinder Singh and Kulwant Singh took Bhupinder to meet a prospective buyer at a lonely place near Chatiwind on the night of September 13 where they stabbed him and later threw his body into the canal.

Both admitted to have committed the crime and a case of murder had been registered against them, the police said.


1 held for selling old truck as new
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 16
A casual approach while purchasing a second hand truck can cost you dear as you may be paying the price of a new for an old model vehicle.

This is what has been happening in the Rampura town of this district as a mechanic here was converting old trucks into latest model trucks by changing their chassis number and subsequently getting their registration certificates afresh.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain the district police chief, said Jaswinder Singh, alias Jassa, a mechanic, had been arrested by the police. He had been changing the chassis number of old trucks to convert them into the ones of latest model.

The accused, in connivance with the owners of old trucks, was selling the converted trucks to unsuspecting buyers and was minting money.

Dr Jain said so far the police had the knowledge about the sale of four such trucks in Barnala and Rampura areas.

The instrument being used by the accused in changing the chassis numbers had also been recovered from him.

The accused used to take Rs 2,000 from the owner of an old truck for changing its chassis number.

He had been running a workshop in Rampura town.

Dr Jain said it was being verified whether employees of the Transport Department were also involved in this crime or not as the accused had been managing to fresh registration certificates for the old trucks.

A case under Section 420, 467, 468, 471, 472, 473 and 34 of the IPC had been registered in this connection.


Investigation into kidnapping case hampered
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, September 16
Balwinder Vickey, suspected of giving shelter to kidnappers of Abdesh Kumar, son of a local industrialist, has virtually crippled the police of three districts in its investigations.

According to sources, after Abdesh Kumar was released on September 8, Vickey slipped away to Chandigarh and reportedly got himself admitted to PGI.

By his action he has virtually stalled the case. The elements of the case are now scattered in three police districts of Punjab and Chandigarh. The boy was kidnapped from a factory in Sangrur. He was released near Samrala falling in Jagraon police district. Vickey is now admitted to the PGI.

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