Tuesday, September 18, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Publicise Sikhs’ identity in USA: manch
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 17
Sikh religious and social organisations in America should inform the US society about its separate identity distinct from Arab Muslims through Internet, TV, mass media and peace marches, the Sikh Chintak Manch, an intellectual body said at a meeting here today.

Presided over by Mr R.S. Bindra, the meeting expressed concern and grief over attacks on Sikhs and their places of worship. Condemning terrorist attacks on America, the manch urged the Indian Government to approach the Bush administration to ensure the safety of Sikhs.

Meanwhile, the Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (Kahlon) headed by Mr Kuldip Singh Kahlon called upon the SGPC chief, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi and the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to clarify the identity of the Sikhs in the European and American media.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, apprehended that vested interests could be behind the attacks on Sikhs using the pretext of “identify” to settle scores. He called upon the Bush administration and responsible organisations to help stop the atrocities on Sikhs.

Meanwhile, the USA has announced to launch media campaign from tomorrow to save members of the Sikh community who are under threat as they are being mistaken for Arabs.

Navjit Singh, a engineering student who is doing masters degree while talking to TNS from Milwaukee (America) said the Sikhs were absolutely safe in all states except in Washington and New York. He said the Government of America would use electronic and print media to educate the people that the Sikhs had separate identity.

Meanwhile Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president of the SGPC expressing deep concern over the continued attacks on Sikhs has called upon the American and Canadian governments to immediately clarify the identity of Sikhs who are the target of attack after terrorist attacks in the USA. He was referring to the lynching of Balbir Singh Sodhi yesterday.

In a press note, Jathedar Talwandi said he had already written to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and the Foreign Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, to immediately intervene to stop the killings and harassment of Sikhs.


Brar for all-party meeting on security
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
Expressing concern over developments since the terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11 and subsequent incidents of violence targeting the Indian community in general and Sikhs in particular, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, leader of the Punjab Congress Parliamentary Party, has urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to call an all-party meeting to review the security scenario in the state.

Talking to newsmen here today, he said that military action against Afghanistan by the USA might spill over to Punjab, being a border state.

“The closure of training camps for various terrorist organisations, which are being run in Pakistan, will lead to the immediate ‘exodus’ of trained militants for whom the natural and only outlet will be India. There can be an escalation in terrorist violence both in Punjab and Kashmir. Mr Badal must convene an all-party meeting to discuss the situation developing in the state. We are all extending our full support to the state in handling the emerging situation but the ruling alliance must keep us apprised of the steps being taken to ensure that peace in the state is not disturbed,” he said.

Mr Brar said he had also convened a meeting of party MPs to discuss the situation arising out of the attacks on Indians in general and Punjabis in particular in the USA. The situation was serious and alarming.

“On behalf of the Congress Parliamentary Party, I have already written to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and the US Ambassador to India, Mr Robert D. Blackwill. We will also call on the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, before he visits the USA shortly,” Mr Brar said maintaining that in most of the cases, Sikhs were being targeted out of “mistaken identity”. But the Indian Government, Indian missions and others had to undertake a campaign to apprise the Americans that Indians were always opposed to terrorism and were for the USA.

“We are ready to do anything to help our Brethern in North America,” Mr Brar said maintaining that India was all for a global war against terrorism.” I feel that war alone may not help. It is public opinion against terrorism that will help the world tackle this menace.”

Mr Brar said that tomorrow there would be a meeting of the PPCC’s Core Committee where the issue of attacks on Punjabis in the USA would be raised by him. Besides that “I want a separate meeting of all Punjab Congress MPs on September 19 or 20, probably in Chandigarh, to discuss the issue before we call on the External Affairs Minister. We are fully with the government and ready to play our role in this hour of distress for the Punjabi community,” Mr Brar said.

Talking about his stand on the waters issue, Mr Brar said that he wanted the Congress to convene an all-party meeting on this important issue as the ruling SAD-BJP alliance had failed to do so. But the party Core Group on Punjab, however, decided on submitting a memorandum to the Governor on the plea that the holding of an all-party meeting would give other parties undue importance.

Regarding the naming of the Malout rally as “garib, kisan maha panchayat”, Mr Brar said that the issue also came up at the fag-end of the Core Group meeting and he justified it saying that it encompassed not only the landless and the poor but also farmers. Further, the Congress had been organising “kisan rallies” and “chetna marches”.

Mr Brar said he still believed that the Congress must go in for a greater alliance to defeat the SAD-BJP alliance in the coming elections. The alliance should include all those parties which were secular and opposed terrorism. These could include the BSP, the CPI, the CPM, the Lok Bhalai Party and other such parties. There was, however, a difference of opinion in the Core Group on this issue. No final decision had been taken so far.

Mr Brar denied that Mr Paramjit Singh Lalli Badal was joining the Shiromani Akali Dal on September 25. “I met him today and he maintains that he is a Congressman and will stay in the Congress.”

Mr Brar said that there was no harm in projecting the PPCC president as the chief ministerial candidate. “I have been openly saying it at all major political rallies we have organised in Punjab in the recent past,” he added.


Homage paid to US attack victims
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 17
To pay homage to the people who were killed in the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, a condolence and prayer meeting was organised by the Forum for Social Justice, Hoshiarpur, at the local Lajpat Rai Senior Secondary School last evening.

Leaders of various political parties and social organisations were among those who participated.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, Mr Gurmesh Singh, district secretary, CPM, Mr Kabul Singh Kaloya, district secretary, CPI, Mr Naresh Thakur, former minister, Mr Ram Rattan, president, and Mr Om Parkash Saini, general secretary, DCC, were among those who paid tributes to the victims. They criticised Pakistan for supporting terrorists and said the USA should not fight alone against terrorism and take all other democratic countries along to create a world opinion against disruptive forces.

A two-minute silence was observed in memory of the victims. 


Flights at Rajasansi may be re-routed
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Rajasansi (Amritsar), September 17
Apprehensions of imminent American airstrikes on Afghanistan may have its fallout on international and domestic carriers operating 13 weekly flights over Afghanistan connecting this holy city with various destinations in Europe, the USA, Canada and West Asia.

Two international carriers of Uzbekistan and Turkministan, which had increased their weekly frequencies from seven to 11 flights last month are reviewing flying over Afghanistan in view of the threat of air attacks by the USA in the aftermath of the monstrous strikes on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon last Tuesday. Alternate routes are being looked into include via Iran.

Meanwhile, the Director, Amritsar airport, Mr V.S. Mulekar, pointed out that since Afghanistan had not yet announced a ban on the use of its airspace, the flights would continue to operate on their original route.

Afghanistan, which has been facing UN sanctions since July, 1999, will suffer immensely in case it (Afghanistan) enforces the ban on use of its airspace as each flight crossing the country’s boundaries pays Rs 25,000 to Rs 50,000, depending upon the capacity of the aircraft, as charges for using the airspace.

Mr Mulekar said he had taken up the issue of immediate deployment of the elite Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) for guarding the airport. The force, comprising 180 men, had been held up in view of shortage of accommodation.

Interestingly, it was due to the presence of Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden in the war-ravaged Afghanistan in July, 1999, that Afghanistan’s national carrier, Ariana, operating between Amritsar and England via Kabul was discontinued, which was in operation since 1956.

The Ariana flights were cancelled under US pressure which send these were being used to replenish aviation fuel needed by the beleaguered country for their small fleet of jet aircraft. It was also alleged that the airline was being used to ferry food and essential supplies for the Afghan militia, besides carrying chemicals to refine heroin. It may be mentioned here that the annual trade in drugs in Afghanistan is 700 million dollars in the international market.

The enforcement of the UN sanctions on Afghanistan hit the annual trade between Amritsar and Kabul. According to sources, 250 tonnes of goods estimated at Rs 45 crore were sent through Ariana during 1997-99. The annual turnover increased to Rs 55 crore later a majority of items exported included medicines, textiles, woollens, cosmetics, tea, auto and sewing machine parts, zarda, utensils, blades, plastics, paper, TV sets and watch spareparts.

The cancellation of the Ariana flight deprived a large number of local traders of their livelihood.

Questioning the rationale behind cancelling the flight, the local Indo-Foreign Chamber of Commerce told TNS that Pakistan had also been abetting and supporting terrorism in India but the government of India had not stopped Pakistan Airlines flights between India and Pakistan.

The annual trade through the Pakistan land route consisting of dry fruit was to the tune of Rs 200 crore, but there was no export from India in view of the cancellation of the flight as Pakistan does not permit any exports to Afghanistan through the land route in view of the UN sanctions.

Meanwhile, one of the Uzbekistan flights today was cancelled. The Director attributed the same to a technical fault. However, Turkministan operated its flight today.


MLA booked for manhandling scribes
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 17
The Jalandhar police has booked the Garhshankar MLA, Mr Shingara Ram Sahoongra, for manhandling, misbehaving and threatening to shoot three journalists at the local Circuit House, where they had gone to cover functions yesterday.

The incident occurred when Mr Sahoongra left the conference room and made his way through a group of four journalists standing at the door of the room by pushing them aside. When they objected to his conduct, he abused the journalists, namely Rajiv Bhaskar (PTI), Varinder Singh and J.S. Malhotra (The Tribune) and Muneesh Attre (Zee News). Thereafter, he and his supporters abused and slapped J.S. Malhotra. A supporter of Mr Sahoongra removed his turban. When Rajiv Bhaskar tried to intervene, he too was manhandled and slapped repeatedly by Mr Sahoongra in the presence of his supporters and the ASI, Mr Sucha Singh.

Mr Sahoongra also threatened The Tribune correspondents and Rajiv Bhaskar that he would shoot them.

Interestingly, when he was about to leave the Circuit House, the ASI instigated Mr Sahoongra by suggesting that he was being ill-treated as he belonged to a Scheduled Caste. Later, the ASI tried to pressurise the journalists to tender an apology to Mr Sahoongra.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Sahoongra was reportedly booked by the Hoshiarpur police for allegedly threatening the Garhshankar SHO and barging into the Garhshankar police station on July 7, 1998, along with his supporters and causing damage to police station property. He was declared a proclaimed offender in the case registered under Sections 451, 353, 427, 147, and 149 of the IPC and Section 3 of Damage of Punjab Property Act, 1984.

When the police was informed about the latest incident, a case was registered against Mr Sahoongra under Section 341, 506 and 323 of the IPC. The SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav, gave the assurance that the MLA would be arrested.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chandigarh Patrakar Association, at its meeting held here today, condemned the incident. Mr Tejinder Bittu, organising secretary of the PPCC, has given a “social boycott” call against Mr Sahoongra while demanding the withdrawal of security of the MLA.

Mr Ramesh Kumar Chohkan, district president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha, has also condemned the incident. The convener of the Chandigarh Coordination Committee of the Newspapers and News Agencies Union, Mr Jagtar Sidhu, and The Tribune Employees Union president, Mr Balbir Singh Jandu, have also condemned it.


DIG’s staff threatened scribes: police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 17
The Ludhiana police has identified a police Gypsy and an Ambassador car, whose occupants threatened and abused two employees of The Tribune at Ghumar Mandi here last week. The car (No CH 01-G-1097) belongs to the DIG, Border Range, Mr Jasminder Singh, posted at Amritsar. The Gypsy (No. PB46-A-1226) was being used by his security guards and six policemen were in it at the time of the incident.

Incidentally, according to Punjab police rules, only the DGP is entitled to have-pilot vehicle whereas all other officers can only have an escort vehicle for their security. The security team of the Punjab police officer was thus also violating these directives.

Local police sources said the police officer, who was travelling in the car at that time, denied that any such incident took place when the police contacted his office in Amritsar after the journalists lodged a complaint. All efforts to contact the DGP, Punjab, Mr Sarbjit Singh, regarding action taken on the complaint proved futile.

Meanwhile, a number of unions of journalists have condemned the incident and demanded action against the cops. Mr. Rajesh Bhambi, president, Ludhiana Photo Journalists Association, and Mr Pramod Batish, president Punjab Press Club Ludhiana, said gunmen of VIPs put the general public to great inconvenience.

Mr Harjinder Singh Lal from Khanna, Mr Ashok Singhi from Ludhiana, Mr Satish Kumar from Raikot and the Samrals Journalists Association have also condemned the incident.


In search of character certificate
Vijay Mohan

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
For 70-year-old Charan Singh, it is battle of a different kind. Twentyfive years after being “implicated” and discharged in an espionage case, the retired armyman continues to battle the bureaucracy to get his pension restored. While the Army authorities want him to submit a character certificate from the police authorities concerned, the police, on its part has failed to do so.

Charan Singh was picked by the CID from his village, Sangwan, near Amritsar in 1976 on charges of spying. Later, however, he was told that he was innocent and that it was on the basis of some “false report” and “misinformation” that he was questioned. The Army authorities, meanwhile, immediately stopped his pension.

In a letter written two weeks ago to the Punjab Home Secretary as well as the Director-General of Police and other officials concerned highlighting his plight, Charan Singh has stated that when he approached the army authorities to restore his pension after his innocence was established, he was told by the officer in charge (OIC), Records, of the Punjab Regiment to submit a certificate from the police that he was not involved in any espionage activities. He continued to approach all police officials concerned a number of times in the ensuing years, but to no avail.

He was later told that the police wanted some letter from the Army authorities on the basis of which the character certificate could be issued. In January, 1991, the OIC of the Punjab Regiment, in which he had served from 1948 to 1964, wrote to the Senior Superintendent of Police (CID) at Amritsar to issue the necessary certificate to Charan Singh. A reminder was sent by the OIC a few weeks later, but things still did not make any headway.

Charan Singh continued in his efforts through various representations as well as personal visits to police offices to obtain his certificate, but nothing moved. He even checked with the local courts if any case was filed against him by the state, but was told there not even an FIR or DDR was filed against him.

Since he has now grown old and finds it difficult to travel and fight for his pensionary benefits, he sought the help from another ex-serviceman, Naik Karnail Singh, to take up his case. Karnail Singh took up the case afresh, but the Army authorities again asked for the character certificate from the police.


Pak imposes curfew along border with Punjab

Amritsar, September 17
The Pakistan Government has imposed dusk-to-dawn curfew along the 553 km long international border with Punjab and substantially thinned the presence of its Rangers, equivalent of the BSF, apparently for deployment on internal security as a precautionary measure. Middle level BSF officers, doing duty on the border, confirmed it but Mr Suresh Purohit, DIG, (Amritsar) range when contacted, declined to either confirm or deny it.

The BSF officers said it seemed that rangers’ strength had been reduced due to their requirement on internal security duty and also possibly for deployment along Pakistan-Afghanistan border in view of influx from across the Durand line. BSF sources said villagers living on Indian side of the border were keeping a close vigil all along the sensitive Punjab frontier with Pakistan in view of tension there. UNI


Pension for staff of govt-aided schools
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
The Punjab Government has decided to grant pensionary benefits to all employees of government-aided privately managed schools in Punjab on a par with employees of government schools.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, said here today that with this decision a long-pending demand of these employees had been conceded. The decision would be effective from January 1, 1996 and entail an expenditure of Rs 10.50 crore up to the next financial year.

The Finance Minister further said that it would benefit 10,000 employees of more than 400 schools. The benefits would include the revision of gratuity, pension, family pension and commutation of pension.


Dr Chohan to float Khalsa Raj Party
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 17
Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, self-styled president of the so called Khalistan talking to reporters at his residence, said that in view of the prevailing corrupt politics in Punjab he would soon form the Khalsa Raj Political Party to contest the coming elections to Punjab state Assembly. While giving essentials of the proposed Khalsa Raj Party he said that the main aim of his political party was to provide justice and employment to every one. There would be no place for casteism and everyone would be treated equally. It would provide neat & clean and corruption free rule to the people of Punjab. He said that his party would contest from Tanda, Dasuya, Garhdiwala, Sham Chaurasi and Hoshiarpur segments of this district. He made it clear that he himself would not contest from any seat.

Replying to a question he said that he never believed in violence. He was votary of peace.

Referring to the Anandpur Sahib resolution he said that it was nothing and should remain in cold store.

Replying to another question Dr Jagjit Singh said that he never promoted Khalistan and was not responsible for it. It was the Congress Intelligence Agencies, the police and goonda elements who promoted it and were responsible for it.

Replying to the recent act of terrorists in the USA due to which thousands of innocent persons were killed he condemned this incident and said that hasty steps of the USA would not bring fruitful results for it but could divide the world in various camps.

Dr Chohan strongly criticised activists of the Shiva Sena for their trying to disrupt his public rally held at Grain Market in Tanda today. He said that in a democracy every person had full right to express his views. If they had any objection about his activities they should had come and talked to him in this regard.

He said that he had already met number of national leaders including, Mr Chander Shekher former Prime Minister of India and Mr Sudarshan RSS Chief and explained to them his concept of Khalistan.

He said that Indian Constitution was outdated now. If he comes to power he would make new model for the people of Punjab.

Earlier Dr Jagjit Singh while addressing his first public rally at grain market after coming from England to India, appealed to the people to elect his candidates from the aforesaid segments in the coming elections of Punjab. He would show them how to rule the state with only these five candidates.

Hundreds of Shiva Sena activists from all over Punjab reached Tanda to oppose the rally of Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan. They assembled at Tanda bye pass on the Jalandhar-Pathankot road but were not allowed by the police to reach the venue where Dr Jagjit Singh was addressing a rally. They staged dharna on the road due to which traffic on the Jalandhar Pathankot section remained suspended for two hours. They also demonstrated and shouted slogans against Dr Chohan and the police.


Badal may woo Morinda voters with sops
Nishikant Dwivedi

Ratwara Sahib, September 17
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will be under tremendous pressure to make wooing announcements during his visit here as part of his sangat darshan programme on Thursday to marginalise his political opponent Mr Ravi Inder Singh’s influence in Morinda Assembly constituency.

Residents of the constituency are expecting important announcements by Mr Badal.

The constituency has assumed importance as it is represented by a rebel SAD leader and former Punjab Assembly Speaker who is being projected by the Bahujan Samaj Party as their chief ministerial candidate.

The Chief Minister is now expected to concentrate in the area to make up for the loss of Anandgarh Project that has antagonised over 30,000 residents of 29 villages to be acquired for the Project.

Residents of the Naya Gaon, Kansal and the surrounding villages (with an approximate population of 50,000) are expecting that Mr Badal will grant “Notified Area Committee” (NAC) status to their area on Thursday.

The failure of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to check the un-authorised construction activities in the area has led to a “very chaotic” situation. Today, a large number of residents are living without power and water connections.

Bridge on the Patiala-ki-Rao connecting Nada village with Naya Gaon was washed away a couple of years ago and is yet to come up.

There are four liquor vends on the Khuda Ali Sher road (adjoining wall of Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh).

The vends are on the very entry point to Naya Gaon village and thus have become a nuisance for the residents. As many as 50,000 persons have to pass by the vends to reach to Chandigarh.

The power and water supply in the villages of the constituency is anything but satisfactory.

Residents of Mullanpur-Garibdas village, are demanding 24-hour power supply. Mr Arvind Puri, a resident of the village said, “The village has given free of cost land to the PSEB to set up a sub station and in return the board had promised uninterrupted supply to the village. However, the village only gets long and un-announced power cuts.”

Link roads in a large number of villages are in very poor shape. The road near the Togan village simply does not exist. The road connects several villages and the residents are forced to use alternate routes.

Various government schools in the area require special attention by the government. A large number of the schools are functioning without adequate teachers and proper infrastructure.

Cashing on the inefficiency of the government schools, a large number of private schools have sprung up in the area. Mr Manjeet Singh Kamboj, president of the Joint Action Committee Naya Gaon, alleged that private schools were not very good either as a large number of them are being run by unqualified persons”.

The two police stations at Mullanpur and Naya Gaon are functioning sans proper infrastructure. The police stations which cater to a population of over 80,000 are also short of staff, said a Punjab Police official.


SAD-BJP Govt most corrupt: Sandhu
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 17
Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu, member, PPCC, in a statement issued here today alleged that the present SAD-BJP ruling alliance in the state was the most corrupt. Mr Sandhu alleged that all government departments had been reduced to machines for minting money to fill the coffers of the corrupt politicians. While the state Chief Minister claims to give the rule similar to that of Maharaja Ranjit Singh but the ground reality was just the opposite. The nexus between the bureaucrats and politicians had reduced the faith of the people in the system.

He further alleged that even the alliance partners of the government were holding rallies against each other. The BJP activists organised a rally against the SAD minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg on September 13 in the city. The rally was attended by certain members of the SAD also, he claimed.

He said the BJP activists were demanding an enquiry into the affairs of the municipal council of the city. The people were fed up with the corrupt policies of the alliance, he alleged. The “sangat darshan” programme of the state Chief Minister, where liberal grants had been distributed amongst the public had failed to “secure votes” for the SAD-BJP and even the MLAs and the ministers of the ruling alliance were ruing that their grants had been distributed by the Chief Minister. The favourites of the ruling alliance had been getting the money in the “sangat darshan” and the needy had been devoid of the same, he alleged.


Hike in MSP a joke, says Bhinder
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 17
Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, senior Congress leader and chairman of the PPCC Manifesto Committee for the Assembly elections talking to newspersons here today, said if the Punjab Congress was voted to power, it would provide power free of cost to farmers for running tubewells. She said the Congress would include more relief for Dalits and the Scheduled Castes in the manifesto.

When asked to specify the relief being promised in the manifesto, Mrs Bhinder said the manifesto committee was committed not to reveal the details before the presentation of the manifesto by the PPCC chief. When told that one of the members of the manifesto committee, in a press note from Patiala, had said that traders were being included for pension in the manifesto, she said she was not aware of any such statement by her colleagues.

Mrs Bhinder said the state government had failed to do anything substantial for the benefit of the farmers. The enhancement of the minimum support price of paddy by Rs 20 per quintal only was a joke in view of the substantial hike repeatedly promised by the Chief Minister, she said.

Mrs Bhinder said the “VIP treatment” accorded to Wassan Singh Zaffarwal and Dr Jagjit Singh Chauhan was an attempt to disturb peace in Punjab.

She alleged that the Chief Minister had diverted funds for distribution among sarpanches during his ‘sangat darshan’ programmes.

Mrs Bhinder said Mr Badal had not given a satisfactory reply to the charges of corruption levelled against him and his family by the PPCC.


‘Bir’ burnt, tension in Morinda village
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, September 17
Three unidentified scooter-borne persons, suspected to be ‘big’ followers of the controversial Sant Piara Singh Baniara, burned a bir of holy Guru Granth Sahib after stealing it from a gurdwara in Ratangarh village near Morinda.

Reliable sources said the crime was allegedly committed by followers of the sant in retaliation against the alleged burning of the Bhav Sagar Samunder Granth, authored by Baba Piara Singh, by AISSF activists in Ludhiana yesterday.

The sources said the incident occurred at 6.10 am today when the three scooter-borne persons with their faces covered descended on a gurdwara at Ratangarh. They allegedly stole the holy Granth and took it to Rasoolpur. There, they allegedly touched the holy Granth. Villagers of Rantangarh later went to Rasoolpur and brought the burned Granth back to the gurdwara.

The people of Ratangarh suspect the involvement of the followers of Sant Paira Singh who resides in the adjoining village of Kalheri.

The district administration fearing violence has made full security arrangements in the village. The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G. S. Grewal, the SSP, Ropar, Mr G. P. S. Bhullar, and the SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, visited Ratangarh village to take stock of the situation.

The police has registered a case but none of the culprits has been identified as yet. The sources said as a precautionary measure, security has also been tightened around the dera of Baba Piara Singh at Nurpur Bedi.

Baba Piara Singh has been at the centre of controversy since long. He proclaims himself to be the incarnate of Guru Gobind Singh. The former Jathedar of Akal Takht had excommunicated him for blasphemous pronouncements.

Recently, the baba raked up another controversy when he announced that he had authored the Bhav Sagar Samunder Granth.


Board denies power consumer’s charge
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 17
Mrs Mohinder Kaur, a local resident, has approached the Punjab State Human Rights Commission against the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities for their alleged high-handedness and disconnecting the power supply to her house.

In a letter to the Chairman, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, she said on June 20, PSEB employees of north sub-division, Moga, took away the old meter and replaced it with electronic meter.

She said on June 21, some senior employees of the PSEB came to her house and asked her to put her signature on the meter and on one slip to be pasted on the box which was to be used for packing the meter, on the back date of June 20.She alleged that when she refused to put her signature, they threatened her and said heavy penalty would be imposed on her apart from disconnection of power supply to her house. She added that she sent a complaint to the Superintendent Engineer and the Executive Engineer, Faridkot and Moga, respectively. She had also approached the District Consumer Forum in this connection.

She alleged that she was served three notices by the PSEB authorities for securing her presence in and later power supply to her dwelling was disconnected. She alleged that PSEB officials were demanding Rs 10,000 as graft and withdrawal of case from the consumer forum, she was also asked to deposit Rs 10,1303 as penalty. 

She said when the matter was reported to the police, PSEB officials restored the power supply to her house. She demanded that a probe should be ordered into the matter and action should be taken against the PSEB employees who had been harassing them.

Mr Swaranjit Singh, Executive Engineer, PSEB, when contacted, while denying the allegations of Mrs Mohinder Kaur, alleged that she had been indulging in power theft in a unique manner. The consumer had changed the coil of meter and slowed it down.

He added that when the meter was sent to the ME laboratory, it was found that its coil had been changed and one of the seal was bogus. He pointed out that the consumer was asked to deposit the penalty and when she refused to do so, a notice was served to her regarding the disconnection of power supply to her house. The power supply was disconnected after the expiry of the notice period.

He alleged that when the PSEB employees went to her house for removing the meter, her husband did not allow them to do so. He said a complaint in connection with the “misbehavour” of the husband of the consumer with the PSEB employees had been lodged with the police authorities.


Preference for senior citizens
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 17
Senior citizens of the city are in for a pleasant surprise as Rajindra Hospital and Government Dental Hospital propose to introduce a token system in all outdoor patient departments in which the first 15 tokens will be reserved for the persons above the age of 60 years.

In a press note, Ms Mohinder Singh Walia, convener of the Co-ordination Committee of various social welfare organisations, stated that a delegation of the committee met the Medical Superintendent, Rajindra Hospital, and the Principal, Government Dental Hospital, here today in this regard. A number of demands from the already submitted memorandum were accepted in the meeting, he said.

Not only would a token system on a “first come ,first served” basis would be introduced in the OPDs of both hospitals but also every OPD would remain open till 2 pm, he said.

Earlier, the delegation had met the Chairman, Human Rights Commission, Punjab, at Chandigarh in this connection and was assured of the commission's full cooperation.

As per the other demands accepted in the meeting, medical representatives would be permitted to distribute samples only after noon, no doctor would be permitted to get his name printed or affix stamps on the investigation slips and every effort would be made to check overcharging by parking contractor.

At the meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Walia the committee resolved to continue its efforts for the fulfilment of its remaining demands. The delegation consisted of the chairman of the Bir Ji Trust, Mr Mohan Lal Gupta, president of the Dedicated Brothers Group, Mr Rakesh Bermi, the president of the Punjab Senior Citizen Welfare Association, Mr Madan Lal Mangal, and the President of the Consumer Forum, Mr K.K. Tandon, among others.


Construction of DAC complex uncertain
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 17
The construction of the district administrative complex (DAC) on the premises of the office of district Animal Husbandry has become uncertain in view of reshifting of the office of the Deputy Director, District Animal Husbandry Department, to its original building recently. The office was vacated about six months ago at the instance of the Chief Minister and the construction of the district administrative complex was approved by the Minister for Animal Husbandry.

According to official sources, the office of the Deputy Director was functioning in the official residence of the Deputy Director which was too small to house the office. The arrangement was temporary and the district Animal Husbandry Department was promised to be given alternative building for office in the DAC. The officials of the department when asked by Minister for Animal Husbandry to vacate the office did not raise any question but did so.

The official sources said PUDA which had been authorised to construct the complex had promised the department to give it Rs 50 lakh and transfer five acres in its name for the construction of sheds to house poultry and piggery farms from the present premises. The department had already refused to shift the piggery farm from the proposed site of the DAC because no piece had been earmarked anywhere in the district for the farmer.

PUDA in this regard had hastened to vacate the offices of the Deputy and Assistant Registrar, Cooperatives, and auctioned the same on the promise to give them office premises in the DAC. The offices were shifted to rented accommodations and PUDA is paying the rent of these buildings out of the interest it gets on Rs 26 lakh deposited by it. The Cooperative Department is pressurising PUDA to start the construction of the DAC or provide them with alternative accommodation.


Ex-servicemen want one rank, one pension
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 17
The Sangrur district unit of the Indian Ex-Services League (Punjab and Chandigarh) today held a rally in the local war Heroes Stadium to discuss the problems, faced by the ex-servicemen, and force the state and Central Government to accept its demands.

Nearly 1500 ex-servicemen and widows of the Army personnel participated in this rally addressed among others by Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Rajit Singh Balian, both Punjab Ministers, Mr Nanak Chand Kalra, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Sangrur; Mr Jeet Singh Alloorakh, district president of the SAD (A); Mr Malkeet Sigh Keetu, MLA from Barnala; Major Sajjan Singh (retd) and Mr Jagdish Singh Kohli, president and press secretary, respectively, of the district unit of Indian Ex-Servicemen League; Mr Harjeet Singh Grewal, National vice-President of the BJP Kisan Morcha; Mr Parkash Chand Garg, Chairman, the Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation; Col (retd) Zorawar Singh Col (retd) Milkha Singh Grewal (retd) and Mr Didar Singh, Sangrur.

Their man demands of the league are — one rank, one pension, provision of full medical cover, grant of concessions on the pattern of Kargil martyrs to 1962, 1965 and 1971 war martyrs, grant of pension to World War II veterans/widows on the pattern of freedom fighters, grant of job to one dependent of those who die on duty and establishment of defence colonies for Army personnel etc.

On this occasion, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, a Punjab Minister, announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the district unit of the Indian Ex-services League. He also assured the gathering that all genuine demands of the ex-servicemen, under the jurisdiction of Punjab Government, would be considered soon for acceptance at the earliest.

Major (retd) Sajjan Singh called upon the ex-servicemen to unite at one platform to get their demands accepted as early as possible. He said without unity, achievement of demands was difficult task.


Minister gives grants
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 17
The Punjab Finance and Planning Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh , today gave a grant of Rs 50,000 for the construction of a primary school building, Rs 1 lakh for repair of village roads and Rs 50,000 for the Sports Club.

The minister was here to inaugurate the upgraded high school at Kheri Barna village in the Dakala block. He also attended the prize distribution ceremony of the three-day sports meet held here.

The minister emphasised the need to give importance to sports and for which the state government would provide sports equipment to all rural registered clubs.

At another function held at Kaul village falling in Nabha sub-division, the Public Health Minister, Raja Narinder Singh, said the Punjab Government would provide five marlas of land to the Dalit community devoid of any residential facility.

He said this during a prize distribution function of the first rural tournament organised by the Dashmesh Sports Club, here today. Apart from this, 100 units of electricity would also be provided free of cost to the Dalit families.

He said the government had decided to give Rs 3 lakh to the village for developmental purposes.

He decided to give a grant of Rs 25,000 to the Dashmesh Sports Club along with a cricket kit. He also gave a grant of Rs 10,000 to the women cell of the village for the purchase of five sewing machines.


Coop bank staff rally tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 17
All is set for the rally to be held in front of the office of the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Chandigarh on September 19 by employees of the cooperative banks of the state, to pressurise the government to fulfil their demands.

The employees of the cooperative banks have been agitating for long time for getting their demands accepted. National leaders of the union of the cooperative banks would also participate in the rally. the arrangements for the rally had been made on a large scale. Employees had been holding meetings at the respective banks to make the rally a success.

Nearly 10,000 employees of these banks are expected to attend the rally if the enthusiasm among them is any indication. The bank employees have alleged that they had been discriminated against, due to the wrong policies of the authorities.

If the bank employees went on strike in case the rally did not yield result the work in the rural areas will be badly affected as about 95 per cent of them were posted in the rural areas.

Mr Fakir Chand Sahota, state president of the federation had recently stated in Amritsar that they had to resort to take drastic step because the mild ways of agitation had failed to yield results. 

The main demands of the employees were that they should be given pension on the pattern of other state government who gave pension to employees working in semi-government organisations. The reduction in travelling allowance from Rs 90 to Rs 60 during the last two years was also not acceptable to them.

The employees are also angry with the government as they are no longer given the wheat loan, festival loan and ex-gratia grant. They had been enjoying these facilities for a long time. They urged the authorities to re-start the facilities with effect from January 1, 1996.Resentment also prevailed among them for not being given the conveyance allowance when they travel to far-off places for the recovery of loans.


Doctors operate on AIDS patient
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 17
The first orthopaedic surgery on an AIDS patient who had suffered a fracture on the right femur was successfully performed at Guru Tegh Bahadur Hospital here today. Dr R.P.S. Boparai, Head, Ortho-paedic Department, claimed that this was for the first time that an AIDS patient had been operated upon in any government hospital of the state.

A junior engineer working with the Punjab State Electricity Board was brought to the hospital when he suffered a fracture. When his blood was tested, he was found to be HIV positive. For confirmation, another blood test — the western blot — was carried out by a local blood bank.

After the second test, he was confirmed to be HIV positive. Dr Boparai said he had to get permission from the Principal of Government Medical College, Dr O.P. Mahajan, and civil surgeon A.S. Sandhu before performing the one-hour operation.

After a no objection certificate by the higher authorities, junior doctors, he said virtually refused to operate upon the patient. After a lot of persuasion his junior agreed to assist him. He said the operation was a bit difficult as the doctors had to take extra precautions, wearing three masks, gloves and gown. Among those who assisted Dr Boparia during the operation were Dr Des Raj, Dr Mehta, Dr Iqbal Singh, Dr Sunita Bali, Mr Jasmail Singh Brar and two Class IV employees.


Old manuscripts to be preserved
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 17
The State Languages Department has chalked out a plan to preserve the 400-year-old manuscripts by tranforming them into the computer CDs so that one can take help from them whenever needed.

This was stated by Dr Madan Lal Hasija, Director, at the state-level Hindi Day function here recently. He added that with the help of website, the department could now be acknowledged on the world map. Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supply Minister, was the chief guest.


Rally against reservation policy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
The Punjab State General Categories Welfare Federation has said that various associations and federations from all over India held a rally at Lucknow against the reservation policy of the Union Government to appease Scheduled Castes and Backward classes.

The press note said various speakers at the rally warned the Union and state Governments against the appeasement of Scheduled Castes and backward Classes in the name of reservation. They highlighted the harassment caused to general category people due to the prejudiced use of the Act to prevent atrocities on the Scheduled Castes.


Residents hopeful of “sangat darshan”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
Residents of Naya Gaon, Kansal, Janata Colony, Chhotti Karoran and other villages on the periphery of Chandigarh have welcomed the holding of “sangat darshan” at Ratwara Sahib, near Mullanpur, on September 20.

The residents are hopeful that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will concede their long-standing demand for NAC status to Naya Gaon and Kansal at “sangat darshan” and also declare the opening of power connections for houses outside “lal dora” in the above-mentioned villages on the pattern of Haryana and the UT Administration, Mr Rajinder Rana, convener of the Residents Welfare Associations of Naya Gaon and Kansal, said in a statement here today.


Army recruitment rally
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 17
An open Army recruitment rally is being held for the Soldier GD Category Sikh, Sikh (Mazbi and Ramdasia), Dogra, All-India All Class (AIAC) and Soldier Technical for candidates hailing from Patiala, Sangrur, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Roopnagar, Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur on October 9 at ITI ground, Bassi Pathana (Fatehgarh Sahib).


Procurement from Sept 21
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, Food and Supplies Minister, Punjab, today said that the officials concerned had been told to camp in the grain markets to start the paddy procurement process from September 21.

He said the process would be formally launched at Amritsar. Against 1,598 procurement centres last year, this time 1,653 such centres had been set up.


New PSSSB member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 17
The Punjab Government has appointed Mr Dayal Singh of Kolianwali village (Muktsar district) a member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB), a notification issued here today said.


Looter held, Rs 4 lakh recovered
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 17
The district police has made a breakthrough in yesterday’s looting incident near Jaitu, involving more than Rs 4 lakh. It has been found that Ram Gopal Sharma, who had lodged the complaint regarding the incident, was the mastermind behind it. The police has arrested his accomplices, Sukhraj Singh, and recovered the money from him.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, while talking to mediapersons today, said Ram Gopal had hatched a conspiracy with Sukhraj under which the latter would loot money from the former and later they would divide it equally among them. Ram Gopal worked as a “munim” (accountant) with an oil company situated in Raman Mandi.

Dr Jain said Ram Gopal had been entrusted with collecting a payment from a company at Batala in Gurdaspur amounting Rs 3.44 lakh. Besides, he was also asked to collect money from some other customers in Amritsar district. Ram Gopal asked Sukhraj to loot the money from him at a specified place near Jaitu town.

To give it a semblance of reality, they lodged two FIRs with police. One was about the looting of the money and the other was about theft of truck in which Sukhraj escaped after looting the money.

In his complaint to the Jaitu police, Ram Gopal stated that while he was returning in the tanker used for supplying oil to the customers, he stopped near Bajakhana town in Faridkot district on a roadside dabha.

He said when the driver of the tanker went inside the dhaba to get some eatables, a truck (PB-4H/2698) stopped there and two persons alighted from it and forcibly drove away the tanker. He said near Bhaikewara village they forced him out of the truck and sped away with the money. He said they also drove away the truck in which they had come.

Dr Jain said Ram Gopal framed a false story to dodge the police. He said Sukhraj, who drove the other truck worked according to plan. He added that when the “munim” and the driver of the tanker stopped near Bajakhana town, Sukhraj appeared on the scene as per the scheme. He added that since the driver of the truck was not involved in the conspiracy, he was asked to leave tactfully. Later, the complaints were lodged with the police following which it became suspicious. Investigation into the case brought the conspiracy to light. Dr Jain said Sukhraj had confessed to having committed the crime. Sukhraj told the police that “munim” had motivated him to commit the crime. Ram Gopal has absconded. A case has been registered against the accused.


Arrears for teachers shortly?
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 17
A function held here last evening to honour the newly elected Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) president, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, in a private hotel raised eyebrows among the teaching fraternity due to the presence of the State Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who is otherwise a rare visitor to the varsity.

Sources attributed the presence of Capt Kanwaljit at the function to the desire of varsity Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia to get the arrears of teachers, which have crossed the Rs 4 crore mark, released quickly. Arrears of teachers are due to them from July 11, 1997, to December 31, 1998.

The sources said release of the arrears had become important to the Vice-Chancellor to make good his promise to the United Teachers Front, which is aligned with him and which body trounced the anti-VC Teachers United Front in the PUTA elections, that he would get their arrears released at the earliest. The UTF had also on its part promised speedy release of the arrears once it was voted to power in the PUTA polls.

Teachers of the varsity are already embittered with the state government for not having released their arrears even though the other universities of the region have done so. The teachers have only received arrears of 18 months till now after their pay scales were revised from January 1, 1996. They claim that the state government had not released the arrears even though it had received the money for the same from the Centre.


Upgraded school teachers await salary
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 17
The Punjab government is in a hurry to upgrade government schools in the State but enthusiasm is lacking as far as the teachers of these upgraded schools are concerned. The teachers have been withdrawal salary for the past four months. Under a special scheme launched in June, the State government decided to initiate a programme under which four schools each of Primary, Middle and High level were upgraded in each constituency in the State.

The aim is to take education to every eligible person. It was welcomed specially by the teachers whose schools were being upgraded little knowing that they might face the brunt of the move. Presently thousands of school teachers in around 1400 schools in the State have not been paid salaries since June.

Sources said there were problems in releasing pay of the teachers as the Finance Department had not given permission for the release of pays under the new scheme. They said likewise the Accountant General, Punjab had not received information regarding giving authority to Principals of the upgraded schools to withdraw and disburse money to the staff.

Officials in the office of the DPI (Secondary) at Chandigarh when contacted said the case could not be cleared till now because the list of schools had not reached the head office till recently. They said the case had not been made and sent and was awaiting clearance. They however said that it would at least take one month more before the affected school teachers would get pay. For the teachers who have been without pay, it is an ordeal. Local teachers said they had approached the District Education Officer (Secondary) on the issue but no headway had been made in the matter and they were merely told that their case was being processed.

Particularly affected are some teachers who include husband and wife teams. Vijay Kumar, one such teacher who is teaching in the Senior Secondary School, Lachkani said he was facing great difficulty in making ends meet as he had committed his savings in a business started by his son. He said the government should have made proper planning before rushing head on into implementing the scheme and demanded that their salaries be released immediately.


PCCTU formulates action plan
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 17
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union (PCCTU) has formulated an action plan in support of its demands. Disclosing this at a press conference here today, Prof Jaspal Singh Randhawa, general secretary, PCCTU, said the decision to intensify the agitation was taken at the union’s executive committee meeting yesterday.

Over 5000 teachers working in 172 non-govt colleges were agitating against the delay in the implementation of the Pension and Gratuity Act of 1996 and other demands. Mr Randhawa said the teachers of GNDU would take mass leave on September 28, converge at DAV College, Amritsar, hold a protest march, block traffic at the Bhandari bridge and court arrest.


Punjab board cancels history paper
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, September 17
A spokesman of the Punjab School Education Board said today that the examination paper of history, code A, of the senior secondary class being held in the evening session at the examination centres in Ropar district and Chandigarh on September 18 had been cancelled due to administrative reasons.


Savings day held for students
Tribune News Service

Kurali (Ropar), September 17
The National Savings Organisation, Punjab and Chandigarh and Rupnagar district administration celebrated circle-level Sanchayika Day function on Saturday at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Kurali, in the district.

Mr Rajinder Lal, Deputy Regional Director, National Savings, Chandigarh, said the strength of students in the school was 925 and all students had opened their accounts under the scheme. The total savings of the students as on that day was more than Rs 1,16,034. Teachers had also opened their five year Post Office Recurring Deposit and PPF accounts, he said.


Record collection under savings schemes
Our Correspondent

Lalru, September 17
The Punjab Government has collected a record amount of Rs 2,811.98 crore from the small savings schemes during the last financial year and aims at achieving a target of Rs 3,500 crore next year.

This was stated by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister, at a meeting held at Government Senior Secondary School on the occasion of Sanchayika Day here recently.

The minister urged the public to motivate their wards for investing in small savings schemes. He announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the school building.

Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, Director, Small Savings, highlighted the achievement of small savings schemes in general and the sanchayika scheme in particular. He said that 10,37,536 students of 3,024 government schools in the state had collected Rs 4.10 lakh this year.

Mrs Neelam Rihan, school principal, said that Rs 1.09 lakh was contributed by 956 students of the school during 2000-01.

Mr Mohinder Malhotra, Regional Director, National Savings, Punjab and Chandigarh, Mr T.S. Negi, District Savings Officer, Patiala, a number of local residents and parents of school students were also present on the occasion.

A cultural programme was also presented by school students.


Few takers for fish market booths
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

A planned campus with 44 booths, stores and space for customers to sit and relax. All this describes the Government Fish Market on Jail Road. Still fish sellers have been staying away from it for nearly two years.

In its search for customers, the Fisheries Department has in the past two years scaled down the monthly rent of each booth from Rs 1,800 to Rs 870. Still the place has failed to attract fish sellers.

Fish hawkers of the city have kept away from this market, arguing that it is out of the way and will not attract customers. Besides, they feel that the booths have not been constructed properly and that the rent is also high.

Shafiq Ahmed, who has been hawking fishes in the city for the past 40 years, said the government had decided to construct the booths at the present site, although fish hawkers had, on various occasions, pointed out that the site was not appropriate. He said that the fish hawkers felt that shifting to the new site would be disastrous when other fish sellers would remain in the heart of the city. “Who will come here to buy fish when it can be had in the city and other areas?” he asked.

Sultan, another fish seller, says: “We are ready to move to the new site but the Administration must ensure that no fish is sold elsewhere in the city. Otherwise shifting to the new market will be of no use”.

The fish sellers also maintain this the fish market should be enlarged so that meat and chicken could also be sold there. They say that fish sellers alone will not be able to take all the 44 shops in the market and that other meat should also be sold here. They say that the Administration should take steps to stop the sale of meat in other areas of the city so that it can be sold here in hygienic conditions.

Fishery Department sources say that having failed to rent out the booths, the department is now working on a proposal to lease out the booths for 99 years for Rs 1 lakh per booth. The proposal has been sent to the higher authorities and a final decision was yet to be taken in this regard. They maintain that it will be difficult to allow persons other than fish hawkers to do business in the complex since the market has been constructed under a Central Government scheme to sell fish only.

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