Friday, September 28, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Kofi Annan writes to Sikhs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 27
Mr Kofi Annan, General Secretary of the United Nations (UN) has written in a letter that the United Nations is with the Sikh community at this difficult moment (killing of Balbir Singh Sodhi of Arizona), who was killed due to mistaken identity after the attacks on the World Trade Center.

This is for the first time that the General Secretary of the United Nations has sent a message to a minority on a single killing. Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the Minorities Commission, who gave the letter to The Tribune today, said this was an achievement for the community as the UN had expressed concern over the attacks on Sikhs in the USA and other parts of the world.

In a message to the Sikhs and people of Arizona, Mr Annan said: “On behalf of the UN, I wish to convey my deepest sympathies to the Sikh community at this time of trial. Men and women from all faiths have been outraged by the acts of violence and discrimination that have taken place in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, both against Sikhs and against people of other faiths and cultures.”

“I would also like to express my support for the civil authorities and people of Arizona who have chosen to demonstrate their solidarity with the Sikh community by offering their condolences on the tragic death of Balbir Singh Sodhi."

“Essential to the global response to the terrorist attacks is a recognition the perpetrators are not, are never, defined by religion or national descent. No people, no region and no religion should be condemned, assaulted or targeted because of the unspeakable acts of individuals. In the words of New York’s Mayor Giuliani ‘that is exactly what we are fighting here’. He and President Bush have shown admirable leadership in condemning such actions. Other leaders have done the same. To do otherwise, and to allow divisions between and within societies to be exacerbated by acts of terrorism, would be to do the terrorists’ work for them.”

“The UN will continue to defend all victims of discrimination. We stand with the Sikh community, and with all people of tolerance, at this difficult moment for us all.”


Jaswant to ensure security for Sikhs in USA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The Union External Affairs and Defence Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, in a communication addressed to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, informed him that during his visit to New York and Washington from tomorrow he would fully ensure security for the Sikhs living in the USA.

Mr Badal had taken up the issue of security with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, and Mr Jaswant Singh. The Government of India acted promptly and raised it with the US Government.

Mr Jaswant Singh stated that there had been considerable concern in India following certain regrettable incidents in the USA in which Sikhs were targeted on being confused with Afghan terrorists.

SAD begins damage control exercise
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 27
After getting a severe jolt from three SAD municipal councillors and a senior BJP member of this city who got a stay from the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the move to abolish octroi, the Punjab Government has started a damage control exercise.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Punjab Science and Technology Minister, who summoned Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, president of the local municipal council (MC), Mr M.S. Sohal, Mr Jugraj Singh and Mr Tirloch Singh, all SAD councillors, along with other officials, talking to The Tribune said they had been asked to move the high court to withdraw the writ petition filed by them in connection with the stay.

The SAD-BJP combine government suffered a big jolt yesterday when these three municipal councillors led by another member of the local unit of the BJP secured a stay against the move of the government to abolish octroi despite the fact that Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had made an announcement in the presence of lakhs of people at a rally on September 25 that octroi would be abolish from October 1.

Information revealed that when senior SAD and BJP functionaries came to know that workers of their own party had secured a stay, a hard stance was adopted by them and a message was conveyed to the quarters concerned that it would not be taken lightly by them.

Mr Garg pointed out that Mr Bhullar, the councillors and an MC executive officer visited him in Chandigarh today and apprised him of the situation under which the councillors put their signatures on the power of attorney of the advocate who contested it in the high court.

He added that later they left for the court to move an application to withdraw the petition filed by them along with Mr Mathra Dass Setia, a former municipal councillor.

He said in today’s Cabinet meeting, it had been decided to follow the directions of the court. He admitted that the action of the Akali councillors had caused damage to the image of the party at a time when the Assembly elections were near.

Mr Bhuller, however, denied that he had visited Chandigarh today. He said he only visited his native village.

When asked that action would be taken against the councillors, he said only the district president and city president of the SAD were competent to take action against them.

Meanwhile, Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, former MC president, and Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary of the local unit of the DCC alleged that it was a planned move of the SAD to approach court for stay against the abolition of octroi by approaching the court through its councillors.

Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, leader of the BJP councillors, said certain people were trying to undermine the popularity of the SAD-BJP government.


Vajpayee to visit Amritsar on Nov 13
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
Impressed by the massive “sadhbhavna rally” at Killianwali, the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, will visit the state again to join the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Amritsar on November 13, the birth anniversary of the Sikh ruler.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said that this function would be a magnificent show in consonance with the stature and laudable contribution of Maharaja Ranjit Singh in promoting the values of humanism and secularism.

He said the three-day programme would start on November 11 with a ceremonial procession, after prayers at the Golden Temple and ardas and kirtan at Akal Takht. The procession would start from the Golden Temple and culminate at Ram Bagh.

An exhibition arranged by Dr Lafont, a French national, with coins and artifacts would be put up at Guru Nanak Dev University which would be inaugurated by Mr Badal. A commemorative coin made and designed by the PSIEC would also be released on this occasion.

On the same afternoon, a play on the life of the Maharaja will be staged at Guru Nanak Bhavan, Amritsar. It will be directed by Harpal Tiwana. A light and sound programme will be organised by the Department of Information and Public Relations which will be followed by display of fireworks at Ram Bagh. On November 12 a display of martial arts, a horse show and tent-pegging will be organised by the Punjab Polo Association at Guru Nanak Stadium. On the same day, a cultural programme will be organised at the Wagah border dedicated to the memory of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

A state-level dhadi darbar will also be organised. On November 13 a public rally will be held where the Prime Minister will be the main guest. Apart from the Chief Ministers of neighbouring states, 22 Union Ministers have already given their consent for their participation in the function. The foundation stone of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Panorama will also be laid at Ram Bagh.

A high-powered subcommittee to decide the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Award has been constituted with the Chief Minister as its chairman. The award will carry a cash component of Rs 25 lakh, a citation and a medal which will be given to an individual for excellence in any field and bringing fame to Punjab.


Shields for gilded gifts
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 27
For the first time, the invaluable gifts, presented to Sikh gurus and legendary Maharaja Ranjit Singh by rulers and Sikh Sangats, which are kept in “toshakhana” would be displayed in bullet-proof, fire-proof and theft-proof boxes for three days in November at the Golden Temple to mark the bicentenary of coronation of the Maharaja.

Talking to TNS, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, Minority Commission, said that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister and President Shiromani Akali Dal had agreed to his suggestion that the “jalau” (show of splendour) should not be restricted to special occasions. Mr Tarlochan Singh also spoke to Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, for making arrangements for the “jalau”. Later, the “jalau” could be permanently displayed.

The “jalau” is arranged on four occasions in a year in the Golden Temple itself. These occasions are the birth anniversaries of three gurus, namely Guru Nanak, Guru Ram Das (founder of Amritsar), Guru Gobind Singh and installation anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib. Apart from the four occasions, the “jalau” was held on two special occasions so far. The first was in 1965, when sacred relies and arms of Guru Gobind Singh were brought from the United Kingdom. The second was on the conclusion of kar seva in 1973. The time for “jalau” is restricted from eight a.m. to 12 p.m. now the show of splendour would be held in ‘parikarma’ for three full days.

However, the devotees won’t be able to see one of the most precious “chanani” (a canopy) made of dark-red valvet embroidered in gold and studded with pearls and precious stones as it was reduced to ashes during Operation Bluestar in 1984. This canopy was gifted to Maharaja Ranjit Singh by the Nawab of Hyderabad as a token of friendship.

Sikh sardars used to making offerings of jewellery, precious stones, gold and silver at the temple. 


Baba remanded in custody
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 27
Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, who was arrested last evening for instigating his followers to torch the Guru Granth Sahib “bir” that led to communal tension in the state, was remanded in police custody till September 29 by the CJM, Ropar.

Apprehending that some people may vent their ire on the Baba, the police produced him in the court early in the morning under tight security.

Sources said that in view of the public ire against the burning of the ‘bir’ allegedly by the followers of the baba, most of his followers have for the time being, disassociated themselves from him.

The sources also said that a local naib tehsildar had helped the baba flee before the police raid. A follower of the baba, he allegedly took him to his house in Dhamana village on the night before the police raid from where he fled to the forest. The baba stayed in the forest for three days before being apprehended by a police search party last evening from a ‘majaar’ located about 2.5 km from his dera.

The SSP, Ropar, Mr G. P. S. Bhullar, said a team of police officials, including Mr Jagdish Singh, DSP, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Pritam Singh, SHO, Morinda, and Mr Gurmail Singh, in charge, CIA, had been formed to investigate the case.

The legal aspect of the demand that a murder case should be registered against those responsible for burning the “bir” was also being examined. Though a Supreme Court judgment states that Guru Granth Sahib should be considered a juristic person when lying in the gurdwara, it was still to be verified if the burning of “bir” fell in the definition of ‘death’.

The district administration has also started tightening the noose around the properties acquired by the baba. The baba who was almost a landless labourer about a decade ago, now owns about 150 acres of land. An interesting fact that has come to the fore was that baba has six wives. In the revenue records, the land has been purchased in the name of his various wives. The baba has been stated to be the husband of the six women in the records, which was against the provisions of the Hindu Marriage Act.

The SDM, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Paramjit Singh, said it was found in the revenue records that baba had resorted to polygamy, a criminal case would be filed against him. The case could also be moved for the cancellation of the land registrations deeds in which the declarations were found to be illegal.

The three followers of the baba who were arrested yesterday were also remanded in police custody till September 29 by the CJM, Ropar.


CBI nabs 19 railmen for fraud
Ruchika M. Khanna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The Central Bureau of Investigations today conducted raids to nab several officials allegedly defrauding the Railways by manipulating tickets on a self-generating machine. They were allegedly making a whopping Rs 10 lakh on an average daily.

Sources in the CBI informed that raids were conducted at five places in Jalandhar and at one in Ludhiana in connection with the fraud, allegedly involving at least 19 Railway employees posted in the booking office of the Jalandhar city railway station.

CBI officials say that the Railway employees would issue a print of a passenger ticket to the passenger and manipulate the records to show that a platform ticket had been issued. This racket was causing a loss of about Rs 10 lakh to Rs 12 lakh to the Railways as the accused pocketed it amongst themselves.

It is learnt that these clerks, including two women employees, were manipulating the printing of high value tickets (self-printing ticket machine) by taking a print on ticket stationery corresponding to a low value ticket. The high value ticket was not issued on record. Thus the cash liable was reduced and the difference of amount of ticket on record and the ticket issued misappropriated.

CBI officials informed that with regards to the high value ticket, a child’s ticket of the same destination and another low value ticket was combined in order to print a duplicate high value ticket on the corresponding ticket stationery. Thus the accused employees were suppressing fare and self printing ticket machine generating random details by either not printing, erasing or overwriting.

It was only when passengers who had been issued these manipulated journey tickets came for cancellation and refund (though in rare circumstances) that the high level fraud going on in the railway station came to light.

It was on a tip-off from officials of the Divisional Railway Headquarters, Ferozepore, that the CBI got into action. Similar rackets are allegedly being run at several other railway booking centres in the region.

Meanwhile, the CBI has registered a case against 19 officials of the ranks of head booking clerks and senior booking clerks under Sections 120-B, 420, 409, 467 and 471 of IPC and relevant sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. The officials are Ravinder Singh Kalsi, Ram Baran, Sandeep Kumar, Hoshiari Lal, Madan Lal, Surinder Kumar, Jai Kishore, Jatinder Pal, Sant Ram, Ashwani Kumar, Parveen Kumar, Resham Singh, Rajinder Kumar, Shiv Kumar, Sunil Kumar, Rakesh Kumar, Ram Lal, Deepa Sharma and Manjit Kaur.

Till the time of filing of this report, the raids were still in progress and no arrests had been made.


Cong, BSP boycott MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 27
The much awaited Rs 113-crore annual budget of the local municipal corporation (MC) was passed unanimously at a special meeting of the MC here today amid allegations by Congress and BSP councillors that the meeting was “illegal” since a case was pending in the Supreme Court regarding the removal of Mr Suresh Sehgal from the post of the Mayor.

The meeting, which was presided over by the BJP Mayor, Mr Sehgal, was attended by 13 BJP, nine SAD, one BSP and five independent councillors, besides two BJP MLAs. None of the Congress and BSP councillors participated in the meeting, who termed it as an “illegal” exercise and amounted to contempt of court since the decision on the fate of the Mayor was still to be pronounced by the apex court.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Sehgal was reportedly removed from the post of Mayor through a no-confidence motion by 37-17 votes in the last meeting of the House on January 31 as all Akali councillors supported the BSP-sponsored no-confidence motion much to the annoyance of the party high command.

Though the civic body officials had submitted the detailed proceedings of the meeting pertaining to the removal of the Mayor to the Local Bodies Department for necessary approval, which in turn had failed to either reject or accept the proceedings of the MC house.

When the Mayor refused to abide with the order of the House, the Congress, Akali and BSP councillors filed a joint writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, which was still pending in the court.

The annual budget of the civic body could not be passed in time since the Mayor failed to convene the House meeting due to the ongoing differences with Akali councillors, who were anguished over the removal of their leader Gurcharan Singh Narula from the post of Senior Deputy Mayor with the help of the Congress councillors.

Meanwhile, the Local Bodies Department asked the Mayor to make arrangements to get the annual budget passed before September 30. Mr Ajit Singh Kohar and Mr Manoranjan Kalia, both Punjab ministers, were deputed to ensure the presence of all Akali councillors during the budget meeting.


Congress alleges discrimination in grants
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 27
District Congress leaders accused the Chief Minister, Punjab, of discrimination against panchayats having Congress sarpanches during the distribution of cheques for the development works in the sangat darshan programmes. Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, president DCC, talking to this correspondent today said more than 20 sarpanches of the Sujanpur Assembly constituency who had been given cheques by the Chief Minister were later asked to return these by the BDPO allegedly at the instance of the local minister.

Sarpanches of Ranipur Chikla, Gho, Mangni, Bahadurlahri, Gosainpur, Ittee, Bhabrali, Bhajura and Dadwan had obtained stay against the returning of the cheques. The development of these villages had been withheld, he added.


Govt allows overloading of trucks
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
In violation of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, the Punjab Government has allowed truckers to overload their vehicles by paying certain charges.

Punjab is the second state to do this in the region. Earlier, Haryana, had done the same, though a bit differently.

Official sources told TNS today that to allow the overloading of vehicles, the state government had made certain amendments to the rules which were enforced by issuing a notification on December 7, 1992. The government had now made a provision that excess load in trucks could be allowed by charging Rs 150 per tonne for a particular journey.

The money would be charged at tax collection centres to be set up by the Punjab Transport Department at entry points on the inter-state borders. Interestingly, Punjab has not fixed the upper limit of the excess load. It appears that the government has given a free hand to truckers as far as overloading of the vehicles is concerned.

The overloading of trucks could adversely affect road safety. Overloaded vehicles become more prone to breakdowns and accidents. The loading capacity of any vehicle is fixed by automobile experts.

Legal experts say that the Punjab Government has no authority to allow overloading. The Motor Vehicles Act is a Central Act. This substantive Act cannot be subverted by any state government by framing rules contrary to its provisions.

Informed sources said that the Legal Department of the Punjab Government had told the authorities concerned that excess load in trucks could not be allowed.

Under the Motor Vehicles Act, about 10 tonnes can be allowed in a truck. There is minimum prescribed fine of Rs 2,000 for violating this provision. Besides, the inspecting authority is supposed to ask the trucker to off-load any excess load on the spot. In the case of refusal, the authority can tell its own men to remove the excess load and charge money from the trucker for the work in addition to imposing the fine.

The sources said that popular governments had to take the obligation of truckers from time to time for transporting political workers and supporters to political rallies. Moreover, truckers had strong lobbies in states like Punjab and Haryana. They had put pressure on the state government to make it concede their demand.

The sources said that truckers, who numbered more than 50,000 in the state, had been pressing the Punjab Government for the past several months to allow the overloading of their vehicles on the Haryana pattern.


Loses kidney during operation
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 27
In a bizarre incident, a female patients kidney was removed while she was operated up on for removing a tumor from her spleen at a local private hospital on September 8.

The patient, Harjinder Kaur, a class IV employee of Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), came to know about the removal of her kidney when her condition deteriorated after the operation and she was told by a doctor that her kidney had been removed.

Dr Romesh Rani Thukral, at whose hospital the surgery was done, said Harjinder Kaur’s kidney was removed as it was badly damaged. She added that besides, the kidney was not in its original position and was displaced. It also had pus, she claimed.

She said the patient had recovered and was informed that her kidney was removed as it was in a bad condition. She added that even the attendants of the patient had called another surgeon for the same operation to her hospital.

She alleged that now some “vested” interests were trying to extract “undue” benefits from her by blowing the matter out of proportion.

Harjinder Kaur, when contacted, said she had undergo treatment at the PGI, Chandigarh, after her condition deteriorated, adding that her kidney was removed without her consent. She said she kept on battling to save her life for days together.

Dr Thukral, on the other hand, claimed that the kidney was removed to save the life of the patient. She added that all the examination reports of the kidney indicated that it had pus and was damaged. She added that the attendants of the patients were well aware of the fact.

Mrs Surjeet Kaur, mother-in-law of Harjinder Kaur, has also filed a complaint with the district police authorities demanding legal action against those who were involved in the “crime”.

Mr Baljit Singh Brar, convener, and Mr Harphool Singh secretary of the Ad Hoc Committee, Ministerial Staff, GNDTP, in a press note issued here today said their organisation would stage a dharna in front of the hospital where Harjinder Kaur was operated upon.


UNESCO award for Punjab temple
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
An Award of Distinction of UNESCO Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards for Culture Heritage Conservation has been given to Krishna Temple, Kishankot, in Gurdaspur district. The National Archives Building in Jakarta, Indonesia, was awarded Award of Excellence, as announced by the UNESCO Regional Advisor for Culture in Asia and the Pacific, according to information received here.

The Asia-Pacific Heritage Awards recognise the efforts of private individuals and organisations who have successfully restored and conserved structures and buildings of heritage value in the region.

The Krishna Temple has been conserved by a Delhi-based NGO, Cultural Resource Conservation Initiative (CRCI), New Delhi, and was built during the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, according to Gurmeet Rai, Director, CRCI, which is also involved in conservation projects like Guru ki Maseet in Sri Hargobindpur and Damdama Sahib Singh Bedi at Una.

Projects eligible for UNESCO awards must be more than 50 years old, the restoration must have been completed within the last 10 years and buildings must have been in viable use for at least one year from the date of the Awards announcement.

This years’ Awards programme drew 40 projects from 13 countries and administrative areas in the Asia-Pacific region.

According to UNESCO, the second award of Distinction, the Krishan Temple, Punjab, India, validates the important role that the conservation of shared heritage has in generating community involvement. The leading role of the NGO, especially in consolidating the efforts of the local community, is particularly commendable. The restoration was approached not just as a conservation project, but as a community-strengthening endeavour, demonstrating the success possible by conservation embedded in the community. By re-introducing traditional construction techniques and materials, and transferring this technical knowledge and appreciation to the local villagers, the project conservators ensured the future sustainability of the temple and the continued life of the building after restoration.

An Award of Merit was given to DBS House, Mumbai, India, which demonstrated how close collaboration between the corporate property owner and local conservation experts has resulted in an exemplary adaptive reuse project that preserves local heritage while accommodating the requirements of a state-of-the-art business centre.


Suicide note not written by deceased, say cops
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 27
Recent developments in the case pertaining to the suicide by a clerk with the Excise and Taxation Department, in which an AETC has been accused of abetment to suicide, indicate the man being mentally upset and taking this extreme step in a state depression. Though the investigation is at a preliminary stage, the suicide note allegedly left by the deceased holds the key as the police suspects that it may have been written by some other person before or after the man’s death.

The suicide note has been sent to forensic experts for examination. The police claims that the handwriting on the note is not similar to the specimen handwriting of the deceased.

The deceased, Mohinder Singh, a clerk, had allegedly committed suicide last morning by consuming some poisonous substance. On the basis of the statement of his relatives and a suicide note, possession, the police registered a case of abetment to suicide against AETC (Inspection) Partap Singh. The relatives of the victim and the deceased, in the suicide note, had alleged that the official was harassing the deceased due to which he took this extreme step.

The latest findings complicated the matter, forcing the police to look into the theory of some foul play behind the man’s death. The police said though the investigation was still far from complete, there was growing evidence that the deceased was hooked onto some kind of intoxication and was even under treatment with a de-addiction clinic. This was also revealed through the leave application of the deceased, in which he had demanded leave on medical basis.

While the aggrieved family members maintained that the deceased ended his life because of being subjected to harassment at the hands of the official, the AETC denied any role in the incident. He said the man had abstained from work for over three months and was visibly upset for the past several weeks. A number of other employees of the department corroborated his claims.

The AETC informed that the clerk had recently come under his department and had remained on medical leave from June 14 to August 14 this year. He had been attending office now and then, but mostly remained on leave. A medical certificate attached with the leave application said he was suffering from anxiety neurosis. The deceased attended office till September 10 and took leave till September 28. The AETC said he was open to any kind of investigation and had not subjected the victim to harassment.

The suicide brought into focus some irregularities in the salea tax assessment of city industrialists. Inquiries made by Ludhiana Tribune revealed that the bone of contention between the accused and the victim was some missing files pertaining to the exposure of some irregularities in sales tax assessment of some businessmen in the city. The files pertained to the assessment made in 1997-98. The Audit Department discovered some hanky-panky in the assessment and a formal inquiry was announced, but the files went missing. Partap Singh, the accused , said he did not know much about the files as the assessment was made before his tenure here. He said he was ordered by the Excise and Taxation Commissioner of Punjab to bring the files and had told the deceased to locate these as these were under his charge. Since the deceased committed suicide, and now no one knew where the files were.


Looking after statues of heroes
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

A veteran citizen and his party has taken up the task of cleaning up the statues of national leaders and martyrs.

Prof K.L. Bhatia and his party, the Hind Kisan Kamgar Sena, has already spruced up the statue of Mahatama Gandhi on The Mall. The party felt that the statue was cleaned up only on the occasion of the birth and death anniversaries of the Father of the Nation and remained neglected for the rest of the year.

The party has also spruced up the statue of the Praja Mandal Leader, Sewa Singh Thikriwala, and a former Chief Minister, Beant Singh. Prof Bhatia said the purpose behind the move was to ensure that the dignity of the statues was maintained in the eyes of the public. The party has demanded that the administration should keep the statues clean besides posting security men near them.


Patiala lacks in industry. However, a recent training programme to gear up women to take up industrial activity can put women in the vanguard of an industrial movement. The programme, held under the auspices of the Industrial Services International, in association with the Small Scale Industrial Development Bank, saw a number of city women take interest in starting their own ventures. The women were interested mainly in cottage industries or handicrafts, besides educational ventures. Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP, gave away the certificates to the women on the completion of the programme.


Traffic in the Baradari Gardens has now become orderly with the construction of road dividers and a round-about in the garden. The Baradari, which has roads meandering through it in a zig zag manner, has been a traffic manager’s nightmare and has also witnessed a number of accidents at various blind turns. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, said that the road dividers and the roundabout had been constructed in the garden following suggestions by the residents. Besides this, the stretch of road leading to the District Public Relations Office and further to the Gymkhana Club has been closed because a number of accidents have taken place on this stretch.


The Rotary Club is holding free hepatitis-B vaccination camps in the city with the help of a club in Toronto, Canada. The camp coordinator, Mr O.P. Gupta, said that for the first time a social organisation was targeting children of the weaker sections from the slum areas and was giving them vaccination free of cost.


Campaign to check pre-natal tests
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 27
The District Civil Surgeon has launched a campaign in the city to check whether the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act, 1994, was followed by the ultrasound and CT scan centres. The District Family Welfare Officer carried out surprise raids today at the various ultrasound centres and CT Scan centres of the city.

Disclosing this, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, said a Vigilance Committee has been constituted to carry out raids on these diagnostic centres to check whether they were complying with the act or not.

Dr Walia said the erring person could be punished for a term extending up to three years or a fine up to Rs 10,000. A repeat offence could lead to conviction up to five years and a fine of Rs 50,000.

She added that as many as 67 diagnostic centres have been registered with the department and necessary information while conducting sonography tests has been conveyed to all the centres. Dr Walia warned all the centre owners to undertake such tests only for specific cases, for which they are indicated, such as genetic counselling, metabolic disorders and chromosomal abnormalities.

She stressed that such tests were completely prohibited for sex determination and said that the Supreme Court’s decision for the registration of these centres has already been implemented.


Protest against govt failure to allot plots
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 27
More than 200 labourers, including activists of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, Punjab, today took out a march here to register their protest against the failure of the state government to allot 5-marla residential plots to them.

The march started from the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall and reached the Deputy Commissioner’s office after passing through main streets of the city. The protesters staged a dharna in front of the DC office and raised anti-government slogans.

Mr Hans Raj Pabwa, president of the district unit of the union, Punjab, while addressing the gathering alleged that the Akali government had failed to allot 5-marla residential plots to the labourers and instead notices had been issued to some Dalits in Kartarpur to vacate the government land, failing which their houses would be demolished.

Mr Kashmir Singh, secretary, said though 71 residential plots had been allotted to landless labourers at Ghugg village in Kartarpur, but some influential persons had encroached upon the land and it was never resorted to the beneficiaries.


Plea for more technical assistants in hospitals
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 27
The Punjab State Senior Operating Theatre Assistant, OT Assistant, Supervisor and Anaesthesia Technicians Union in a press note alleged that in the absence of technicians and assistants in operating theatres of the civil hospitals unauthorised employees are performing sterilisation and anaesthesia.

They alleged that only a qualified technician can do the proper sterilisation of the instruments, equipments, linen and other articles.

They appealed to the state government to create the assistants posts at the civil hospitals, ESI hospitals and primary health centres.

The Union President, Mr Neel Kanwal, and the General Secretary, Mr Gurcharan Beer Singh, said that surgeries in civil hospitals at Sangrur, Mansa, Fatehgarh Sahib, Faridkot, Muktsar, Nawanshahr, Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Rajpura, Phagwara, Nabha and many other primary health centers of the state are being preformed without the theatre assistants.

They added that the civil hospitals would likely face immense problem if no action was taken soon, as the assistants were responsible for proper sterilisation of the equipment.

Meanwhile, the union joined hands with co-ordination committee, paramedical and health employees.


Ex-Army man alleges beating by SHO
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
Mr Darshan Singh, a decorated ex-serviceman of the Army, has been running from pillar to post to get justice in connection with a case wherein he was beaten up by the SHO of the thermal police station and kept in illegal custody for three days.

Narrating his tale of woes, he said on July 31 he had gone to the police station to lodge a complaint regarding a scuffle with his neighbours. But he was detained, he said. When his son and wife came to know of the fact, they approached the police but his wife was abused verbally by the SHO, while his son was also beaten up. Moreover, the police staff present there asked for Rs 5,000 as bribe.

The medico-legal examination of Darshan Singh and his son Karamjeet Singh was carried out at the local Civil Hospital on the orders of the Judicial Magistrate (Class-I) which proved that the injuries were made by some weapons.

Mr Darshan Singh said the minor dispute with the neighbour was solved by mutual compromise on August 2 but the police officials continued to threaten him.

“The complaint against the SHO concerned was submitted to the district police chief, Dr Jatinder Jain, on August 3, but it seems to have been lost under the files”, lamented Mr Darshan Singh.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, could not be contacted.


Tributes paid to Bhagat Singh
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
A cultural programme was held by four social welfare organisations to mark the birth anniversary of martyr Bhagat Singh at the local Kikkar Bazar today. The programme was organised by the Asra Welfare Society, the Lala Jagat Narayan Memorial Committee, the Young Blood Club and the Hari Om Shankar Charan Paduka Sewa Dal. Mr Rajan Garg, advocate, who was the chief guest said the youth should not forget the sacrifice made by the martyr and should follow in his footsteps.

Mr Sadhu Ram Bansal, former Principal of the local M.H.R. School, while presiding over the function highlighted the life of the martyr.

Manohar Singh Masoom recited a patriotic poem while Bhushan Garg sung patriotic songs. Mr Rajan Garg assured the members of the societies to allot them a shop near the local Peer Khana for housing their office.

Office-bearers of other social organisations, including Mr Vijay Goel, president, Sahara Jan Sewa, Mr Pawan Mittal, Lions Club, Mr Pawan Kumar, president, Jai Durga Jagran Mandal, were also present on the occasion.


Seminar on tourism
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
A seminar on tourism was organised by the Hotel and Restaurant Association here today under the chairmanship of Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, Director Tourism, Punjab.

Mr N.S. Nanda, president of the association, said the hotel and tourism industry had increased employment opportunities in the country. He urged tourism officials that a rope way in association with the Himachal Pradesh Government should be set up between Naina Devi and Anandpur Sahib.

Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu while addressing the members of the association said the target for the tourist inflow for 2002, had been pegged at 1 per cent. Mr Surinder Bajaj, Deputy Director Tourism, Punjab, said diversification from cultural tourism to holiday and a leisure tourism held the potential to develop the industry.


Maluka inaugurates project
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 27
Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, Power Minister, Punjab, today inaugurated one of the most modern and first of its kind computer-based remote-controlled load management scheme for rural area at the 33-kv grid sub-station, Attowal, Hoshiarpur, covering 21 villages and 144 transformers of 11-kv Mona and Mehmowal feeders.

Addressing the gathering, he congratulated the people who were benefited by this scheme and appreciated the PSEB and CMC Limited, that have executed the scheme.

Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, presided over the function.

Talking to reporters, Mr Maluka said that the PSEB was incurring an annual loss of Rs 600 to Rs 700 crore due to power theft. 


Doctor’s bail plea rejected
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 27
Mr Harbans Lal, Additional Sessions Judge, Mansa, exercising the powers of Special Judge, under the Prevention of Corruption Act rejected the bail application of Dr Pushpinder Singla, Medical Officer, Government Rural Hospital, Bhikhi in the district, yesterday.

In his order the judge observed that the accused may tamper with records if released on bail. Dr Singla was arrested by Mr Gurmail Singh Neor, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, while allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 3,000 from Mr Parvinder Kumar Sharma of Bhikhi.


DC: FCI to supervise paddy purchase
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 27
The purchase of paddy by the government agencies in the district commenced on September 25 and 102 centres have been set up for the purpose. The arrival of paddy has picked up in 23 centres. The government agencies have purchased 5,800 metric tonnes of paddy.

This was stated by Ms Raji P. Srivasatava, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, while addressing a meeting of the district officials here today.

The Food Corporation of India, Punsup, Punjab Warehousing Corporation, Markfed, Punjab Agro and Punjab Food and Civil Supplies will supervise the purchase of paddy. She said committees comprising representatives of farmers, arthiyas and members of market committees besides the SDMs, district mandi officer and secretary of the market committee concerned have been constituted at all purchase centres of the district. 

In case of any difficulty the farmers are advised to approach these members, the Deputy Commissioner added. Ms Srivasatava also directed the arthiyas to ensure proper cleaning of paddy and remain present at the time of auction. The Deputy Commissioner disclosed that so far 18,064 quintals of narma and 6,204 quintals of kapas had arrived in the mandis of the district.


Farmers irked over FCI specifications
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 27
Though the district administration has claimed that the process of procurement of paddy is going on smoothly and is in full swing at the 30 purchase centres in the district, commission agents and farmers at Sirhind, Amloh, Bassi Pathana and at other purchase centres are facing a problem from the FCI as the procurement staff of the FCI is not purchasing paddy like the other state procurement agencies. 

Moreover, they are not heeding to the directions of the administration and there is a tussle between the FCI procurement staff and the civil officials monitoring the procurement process due to the adamant attitude of the FCI officials and the pressure being exerted by the administration. The commission agents alleged that officials of the FCI were harassing them and were purchasing only selective heaps and were rejecting the others on one or the other pretext, whereas the state agencies were purchasing the same paddy without any hesitation.

They said the FCI version of adhering to strict specifications during procurement was only an excuse to exploit them at a later stage. They said the arrival of the paddy at present was very slow and as soon as the arrival picked up the mandis would overflow with paddy, if the FCI did not change its stance.

They demanded that the FCI should be told to purchase the paddy smoothly or the purchase should be given to other state agencies. Mr Surjit Singh Sahi, district president of the Arthiya Association, said he had been receiving complaints from almost all purchase centres, where the FCI was purchasing paddy. Ms Rajwant Kaur Ghuman, DFSC, admitted that there was 8 to 10 per cent damage in the paddy crop and according to specifications only three per cent was allowed. She said state agencies had been giving relaxation to some extent while making a purchase, whereas the FCI officials were not cooperating and were making purchase strictly according to specification. She hoped that this problem would be solved soon.


Procurement staff shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
The Punjab Government has shifted procurement officials of two agencies — Punsup and Markfed — from the Jalalabad grain market following complaints of a nexus between private traders and certain members of the procurement staff.

Addressing a press conference, Mr P. Ram, Secretary, Food and Supplies Department, Punjab, said today that the departments concerned had been told to send new staff members to that market. A senior official of the Punjab Mandi Board had been suspended at Abohar for not implementing the government's instructions pertaining to the cleaning of paddy.

At the Moga grain market, the FCI had not begun paddy procurement. The matter was taken up with the higher authorities of the FCI. Consequently, the officials concerned had been told to start the work.

The government would get criminal cases registered against all traders or anyone else found involved in the resale of paddy. He said reports had been received that certain traders might try to resell the "sathi" variety by mixing it with common or grade "A" paddy at the minimum support price. They had bought the "sathi" variety at a price well below the MSP.

Following a clarification from the Union Government, the procurement agencies had been told not to reject paddy having a substantial content of black grains before checking it properly by removing the husk from samples. The Deputy Commissioners had been told to impound combine harvesters engaged in paddy harvesting at night.

He said millers would get their share from levy rice prepared from the paddy procured between September 21 and October 1. The government had made it clear to them that there would be no compromise on specifications and the out-turn ratio of rice.

Meanwhile, more than 12 lakh tonnes of paddy had been procured in the state till last evening.


Youth killed over land dispute
Tribune News Service

Tungwali (Bathinda), September 27
Kuljit Singh (17) of Tungwali village was killed in broad daylight by two persons while he was working in his fields with his father and others. Police sources said the suspects had been identified as Parminder Singh and Sukhjinder Singh, both brothers.

Sources said the suspects wanted to dispossess Kuljit Singh and his father Mohinder Singh from a piece of land. Kuljit died on the spot while Mohinder Singh and one other escaped unharmed.

The police said earlier also a case had been registered against Parminder Singh for using firearms.

Civil Hospital sources said though the murder took place at about 9 am, the body was brought to the hospital only at around 4.45 pm. A post-mortem examination was conducted today.


2 arrested on sodomy charge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 27
The district police has arrested two persons, who had allegedly charred the hands of a 14 years old boy after he refused to indulge in sodomy.

The incident had taken place 15 days ago, but the boy, a resident of New Raj Nagar locality, had not disclosed the facts to his parents or any of family members.

In a statement to the district police authorities yesterday, the boy presently recuperating at the local Civil Hospital, alleged that he was employed as a helper with a local transporter and had gone to a factory in Industrial Area to help his uncle unload goods, where he was allegedly forced to indulge in sodomy by Gurmail Singh, driver of the transport company. However, the boy refused to the overtures of the driver and resisted his moves.

He further alleged that he was kept in illegal confinement till next morning by Gurmail Singh, who later told his accomplices that the boy was trying to steal some goods from the truck. After this, the boy was mercilessly beaten up by Jagdeep, Tony, Kamaljit and Jasbir. He was hung between two trucks with ropes and Gurmail Singh allegedly poured acid on his hands to teach him a lesson. He was later let off by the accused.

When contacted, Mr Gaurav Yadav, SSP, said a case was registered and two accused had been arrested. They have been identified as Kamaljit Singh of Badaiana village and Jagdeep Singh of Kirti Nagar and the owner of the transport company.


District YC chief kidnapped

Gurdaspur, September 27
The Youth Congress, President, Mr Kulwinder Singh Laddi of Khanuwan block, was kidnapped by unidentified car borne miscreants near Meheate village under the Dhariwal police station last night.

A police report here today said that Laddi alongwith his friend Narinder Singh was returning to Alowal village from here last night in a car. When they reached Meheate village they were stopped by some persons who pulled him out at gunpoint and after pushing him into their car drove off leaving behind Narinder, the police said.

A case has been registered in this connection. UNI


Controversy over officiating DPI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 27
There is, at present, no regular Director, Public Instruction (Colleges) in Punjab. The officiating Director is Ms Nisha Sarad, who is Principal, Government Ranbir College, Sangrur.

This is so, informed sources say, despite the fact that the seniormost Principal is Dr Vidhwan Singh Soni, a PhD in Physics who heads Government Mohindra College, Patiala, and at number two is Dr S.S. Sooch, also a PhD in Physics, who is Deputy Director at the headquarters. Ms Sarad does not hold the PhD degree and is at number three.

It is reliably learnt that this ad hoc arrangement has upset Dr Sooch, who has reportedly sought premature retirement, though he is due for retirement only in May next year. He has not mentioned this in so many words but the conclusion is obvious. Likewise, Dr Soni is also reported to have sent a stinker to the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr Bhagat Singh, protesting against the functioning of the office of the DPI.

It is also learnt that no formal meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee was held before the appointment of Ms Sarad, though it was scheduled for the day the former DPI, Mr Gulzar Singh, retired. That was August 31. At a meeting the members were informally told that the new rules were yet to become effective and the old ones were still valid in respect of the selection of the head of the department. But for reasons unexplained, the two senior persons, Dr Soni and Dr Sooch, were ignored and Ms Sarad appointed to officiate.

Interestingly, it is now mandatory that the Principal of a college, government or private, must hold the PhD degree.

Despite the state’s Council of Higher Education and the Panjab University Syndicate and Senate having approved certain amendments to the PhD clause as ordained by the University Grants Commission, the government is unmoved, much to the consternation of college teachers who are eligible (administratively and experience-wise) to become Principals but are not being appointed because they do not hold the PhD degree. The government appoints officiating Principals in its own colleges who do not hold the PhD degree but frowns when private colleges seek its permission or demand the implementation of the decision of the state’s own Council on Higher Education taken in April.


GND varsity to approach World Bank
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 27
To strengthen the financial health of Guru Nanak Dev University special efforts will be made to approach the World Bank, HRD Ministry, UNESCO and Central and state governments. A separate planning and development cell will be created to generate financial resources. Fifteen books on the life and rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh to mark the bicentenary of his coronation will be released and distributed on November 12 at a special function being organised by the Punjab Government at Amritsar.

An international seminar on Maharaja Ranjit Singh will also be arranged by the university. This was stated by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university here today


Study circle to hold celebrations
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 27
The local unit of the Swami Vivekanand Study Circle will celebrate the 108th anniversary of the address delivered by Swami Vivekanand at the World Religious Parliament in Chicago in 1893, on September 30 at SSD Girls College here. This was stated by Mr R.K. Narula, press secretary of the circle, in a press note here today.

He said by celebrating this day the circle wanted to spread the message of patriotism in the public. Office-bearers of study circles of Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Rampuraphul would participate in the celebrations, he added.

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