Sunday, September 30, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rome ‘asked’ to probe Malta tragedy
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, September 29
In reply to the letter of Mr B.P. Singhal, MP Rajya Sabha, Mr Jaswant Singh Minister External Affairs of India stated that Indian Embassy in Rome had requested the Italian Foreign Ministry to have a search conducted at the site of the accident near Sicilian Coast, in which 300 persons were killed on December 25, 1996, to find the remains of the deceased.

Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission released the contents of the reply letter of Mr Jaswant Singh here today.

In his reply Mr Jaswant Singh stated that his Ministry had written to the President of the Malta Boat Tragedy Sufferers’ Association, seeking his advice on how the human remains should be handled, when those were eventually recovered and identified.

He said that the latest communications received from the Italian Government indicated that it was not very enthusiastic about effecting recovery of the wreckage and the bodies due to the location of wreckage, being in International Waters, raises delicate questions regarding Italian jurisdiction in on going prosecution of the crew members at Syracuse Italy, the chances of successful recovery of the wreckage and bodies were considered doubtful and the cost of an attempted recovery was considered very high.

He stated that assistance was being extended to the Malta Boat Tragedy Sufferers’ Association in obtaining compensation from the shipping companies or ship owners found responsible for the tragedy. Regarding the travel agents involved in illegal trafficking of victims of this tragedy, the government had promptly ordered a CBI enquiry.

The CBI interviewed 22 surviving Indians and filed chargesheets in 1997-98 against 24 travel agents and two officials of the Foreigners Regional Registration Office for their involvement in the illegal migration of youth from Punjab. The case is pending trial in the court of Chief Metropolitan Magistrate, Delhi, he added.


Corruption probes put on hold
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has been practically sitting idle since March. It has barely 40-odd investigations in hand and has been awaiting sanction from the government in as many as 250-odd complaints.

On the waiting list are the complaints filed directly by ministers. Many of them have learnt that the Vigilance Bureau does not register cases merely on their asking. One such example is of Minister for Power, Sikandar Singh Maluka. Informed sources say that of the several complaints referred by him to the bureau only one, pertaining to purchase of meters by the PSEB, is being investigated. The interim report is ready.

The bureau is yet to get sanction to probe how the PSEB returned the earnest money of Rs 12.50 lakh to a Haryana firm that had first agreed to purchase the Jalkheri rice straw thermal plant, for Rs 20 crore, but later backed out. Despite objections by the officers concerned and the Member (Finance), the firm was refunded the earnest money, thereby incurring a loss to the board.

The bureau is helpless to act on yet another complaint by the minister against PSEB Chairman, G. S. Sohal, who on being removed he has since proceeded on leave. He allegedly, in violation of rules and regulations had signed an MoU with a private firm. If implemented the MoU would have resulted in a financial loss running into hundreds of crores to the PSEB.

Informed sources told TNS that the preliminary inquiry into the ‘’meter scandal’’ has prima facie established that wrongs were committed in the purchase of meters. The board had placed an order for 4 lakh ‘’electro-mechanical’’ meters. This order was cancelled when Mr Sohal took over as Chairman. He preferred 4 lakh ‘’electronic meters’’. However, as an ‘’emergency’’ measure, he ordered that 50,000 ‘’electro-mechanical’’ meters too be purchased. The bulk order was placed with two private Delhi-based firms while Semi Conductor of SAS Nagar got a meagre order of 5,000 meters. This was in March-April, 2000.

The rate at which 50,000 meters were to be purchased was reportedly on the higher side by at least Rs 130 per piece. The board, as well as the Member, (Finance), had, reportedly, raised objections on the pricing but were overruled.

Mr Maluka confirmed that he had sent complaints to the Vigilance Bureau as he believed in ‘’transparent’’ working of the board. He admitted that action was yet to be taken on two complaints.

It is pertinent to mention ‘’providing corruption-free administration’’ is one of the listed priorities that ‘’guides the policies’’ of the SAD-BJP Government under the common minimum programme, (CMP). It also mentions the setting up of a ‘’special commission of inquiry, headed by a retired judge, to expose the congress’ hand behind the violence in Punjab’’, besides the institution of a Lokpal.

Another listed promise in the CMP is making it ‘’mandatory’’ for all legislators to declare their assets within 90 days of being elected and ‘’any increase in their assets will have to be declared and accounted for annually’’. But no ‘’special commission’’ has been set up till date. The institution of the Lokpal is in deep freeze. No legislator has declared his assets.

The institution of Vigilance Bureau also falls in the realm of such promises so as to punish the guilty without delay. But this has not happened. The bureau, remains only a decoration piece. So cumbersome are the procedures that the bureau, with its hands tied behind its back is expected to ‘’fight’’ corruption. The new system stipulates that complaints received by the bureau are to be referred to either of the two committees ( one for gazetted and the other for non-gazetted officers) for sanction before investigation. These committees have rarely met.

Consequently, not a single enquiry has been instituted against 2,000-odd complaints received since January 1.

The past history of the Vigilance Bureau shows seldom has anyone been prosecuted and convicted. Those facing inquiries got promoted and retired but their cases remained undecided. Thanks to the “sympathy’’ syndrome of the political executive and bureaucracy, guilty officers’ files are quietly ‘’closed’’. All this when the bureau is top heavy. Besides the Additional Director-General of Police heading it, there is one D.I-G, 10 SPs, 30 DSPs, 70 Inspectors and over 200 constables.

Bureau Director S.K. Verma refused comment when asked about vigilance functioning.


‘PMO holding back documents’
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, September 29
The Union government was not cooperating with the Justice Mukherjee commission probing Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s death. The government has not handed over the necessary secret documents regarding Netaji’s death which allegedly were in the possession of the Prime Minister’s office, Foreign and Defence Departments and the National Archives to the commission. The nephew of Netaji and All-India Forward Block leader, Subratta Bose, alleged this while talking to reporters here on Thursday.

He was here to attend the Bhog ceremony of Sri Akhand Path held in Netaji Model School here, to mark the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

He said the commission would not be able to arrive at the truth about Netaji’s death if the government continued to hold back documents relating to Netaji from it. This commission would also meet the same fate as earlier ones constituted for this purpose.

Mr Bose said a meeting of intellectuals and other prominent persons would be held at New Delhi tomorrow to discuss ways and means to make the government to hand over the documents to the commission.

He also alleged that the government had also not made sincere efforts to persuade governments of other countries, including Russia, Germany, England and Vietnam to hand over classified documents to the commission, which contained vital information about Netaji.

He said the Union Government should set an example and hand over the documents to the commission. “How can one expect that others would provide secret documents to the commission when the Indian government is withholding them”.

Netaji’s family does not believe that Netaji died in plane crash in Japan in August 1945. He also regretted that the contribution of revolutionary movement in the struggle for independence was not recognised by the successive governments. In this context he referred to the contribution of Netaji, Shaheed Bhagat and many others.

Earlier, he also addressed a gathering at the bhog ceremony organised on the birth anniversary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, North Zone Steering Committee Convener of the All India Forward Block, Mr V.P. Saini also spoke on the occasion.


Rajasansi security reviewed
Ashok Sethi

Rajasansi, September 29
The Chief Commissioner, Customs, Delhi zone, Mr S.P. Srivastva, has reviewed the security and other arrangements at Attari railway station, Wagah checkpost and the international airport. Winding up his three-day visit to the city, he told this correspondent here today that all security agencies, including the Ministries of Home, Finance and External Affairs, were coordinating at the highest level in view of the terrorist attacks in America.

Border management committee have been constituted to disseminate and decipher intelligence inputs and to work as a team to thwart any attempt by some groups to disrupt the peace and stability of the country.

Mr Srivastva informed that all agencies operating at the airports, including the Bureau of Immigration Services, the security personnel and the customs officers had been asked to feed information about every passenger into the computer. In case of any suspicion, a red alert signal would be given to the Customs men.

The Rajasansi airport had been categorised as Z plus plus due to its proximity to the international airport. This airport has seen more than six hijackings in the past more than two decades and requires additional security. The Ministry of Home Affairs had sanctioned the deployment of Central Industrial Security Force personnel and its first detachment of 180 men would be deployed here by the second week of October. The Chief Commissioner added that the Customs officials posted at the airport had been given training in meeting any emergency, including hijacking.

Talking about the lack of basic facilities at Attari station, the only international rail head in the country, Mr Srivastva added that the Customs authorities had prepared a comprehensive report. It has been presented to the Railways, Ministry of Home Affairs and other agencies. He said facilities like comfortable waiting halls, canteen and medical aid would soon be added in cooperation with the Railways.

Attari receives the biweekly Samjhauta Express. For the smooth flow of trade between India and Pakistan, the Customs authorities have sought a container scanning machine, he said.

Earlier, the Chief Commissioner launched a Customs website ( and email services at the airport. Any complaint received on email would be addressed within 48 hours.


PSEB owes Rlys Rs 60 crore
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 29
A cash-starved Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will now have to reckon with a further loss of Rs 10 crore due to its inability to pay one month’s advance in freight charges to the Railways since June this year following which the facility of 15 per cent concession on freight charges on coal has been discontinued to it.

According to an arrangement worked out with the Railways, the board submits one month advance on freight charges to the Railways before the first date of every month in lieu of which it gets 15 per cent concession in freight charges.

This arrangement was worked out as ordinarily the board would have to pay freight charges at around 50 to 60 loading points in Jharkhand which is difficult to manage. A month’s advance in freight charges solves this difficulty and is also convenient to the Railways which always has a positive balance with it vis a vis the board due to which it has granted it concession in the freight rates.

Board officials disclosed that the PSEB defaulted on paying the Railways advance on freight charges in June this year.

The Railways has promptly withdrawn the concession given to the board which has suffered a loss of Rs 10 crore due to this move.

This is not all the sources disclosed. Besides defaulting on the advance freight payment, the board has also accumulated a freight debt of around Rs 60 crore with the Railways. They said while the Ropar thermal plant had unpaid freight charges on its name to the tune of Rs 40 crore, the Bathinda and Lehra Mohobbat plants had accumulated a debt of around Rs 20 crore on account of freight charges.

The sources said it would be difficult for the board to get out of this financial mess without paying the full money due to the Railways.

They cited the example of how the board was late by one day in paying the advance freight money in 1997 and had to pay the Railways Rs 9 crore by way of final settlement despite having contested the Railway’s decision not to grant them concession on freight charges vehemently.

The officials said the board was also on a sticky wicket as far as payment to coal companies was concerned. They said the board still owed around Rs 28 crore to the four major coal companies for coal bought by it for its thermal plants. They said though the debt figure had been brought down from the Rs 70 crore figure in August, it could still spiral again if the board did not continuously try to get its debt written off.

Officials said the board had brought down this figure considerably only after the coal companies stopped sending coal in August this year. They said according to an arrangement with the coal companies, the Board had established letters of credit in their favour in banks which are irrevocable and revolving. They said the letter of credits covered 10-day supply and that the coal companies could take their bills to the bank. However, the coal companies, they said, were refraining from presenting the credit letters as the board did not have any ready money at its hands.

The position is not likely to improve quickly as the board is set to be further burdened with more loans while implementing its decision to give 24-hour power supply to villages on the urban pattern. Sources said its revenue on account of theft detection was already on the decline and it would also stand to earn less due to its decision to given more units free of cost to the weaker sections besides rearranging the domestic slab structure to the benefit of the consumers.


Kairon’s native village feels ignored
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 29
Partap Singh Kairon, known architect of modern Punjab is still remembered as a crusader and social reformer by his contemporaries and people of the Majha region even after 35 years of his assassination.

The credit for the tremendous progress of Punjab, especially the border belt, which is evident from its blooming fields, factories, running canals and beaming faces of Punjabis undoubtedly goes to Sardar Kairon”, says Kundan Singh, a resident of the township.

“He was the first person to launch a crusade against female foeticide, which was common in those days”, says Amrik Singh Fauji. Baba Nihal Singh, father of Partap Singh Kairon, and his family was responsible for the opening of the first boarding school, Bhujhangani Ashram, for girls in 1906 at Kairon village itself to promote women education in this remote area. The majestic building of the boarding school was built on the land donated by the Kairon family. This is the only boarding school for girls in Punjab so far.

The state awardee, Ms Gurmeet Sekhon, Principal of the school said it was Partap Singh Kairon’s great vision that he promoted women’s education in the region. However, the working of the school was being hampered due to vacancies which had not been filled despite reminders.

Mr Gurinder Singh Kairon, son of the late Chief Minister, while talking to TNS said his father took personal interest to save the area from the menace of water logging. He got installed lift pumps along side rivers in this regard. He was responsible for bringing in the green and the white revolutions in the state. For this he laid the foundation stone of the Verka milk plant and the land reclamation research centre in Amritsar, he added.

Remembering the administrative qualities of Kairon, Giani Kartar Singh, his contemporary, said he (Kairon) used to give immediate relief to those who used to visit him. “An old man once met him and told him with tears in eyes that his daughter had been abducted by dacoits a month ago. Sardar Kairon patted the old man and said, “Don’t worry your daughter will reach your house before night falls.

Bibi Balbir Kaur, daughter -in-law, and Mr Hardeep Singh Harry, grandson of Partap Singh Kairon, said memories were still fresh in the minds of the people of the Majha region that Kairon went from place to place in full military uniform with a view to inspire Punjabi youth against the Chinese aggression in 1962. He planned to enroll two million jawans in Punjab in this regard.

The residents of the native village of Partap Singh Kairon are sore over the fact that no function is being organised here to mark his birth centenary. They said this was the occasion which could have been celebrated with great fanfare. The person who had transformed the state into the most progressive state of the country should have been remembered in a befitting manner. Even the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee too forgot to celebrate the occasion though he was one of the great leaders of the party. People of the township said a befitting memorial should be raised at Kairon itself so that the younger generations should learn from his unparallel qualities.

A visit to his memorial presents a picture of neglect. The main gate remains closed most of the time.


PSSSB to recruit Inspectors, ASIs
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
To great dismay of the departmental selection committees, the recruitment of Assistant Sub-Inspectors and Inspectors in the Police Department has gone back to the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB).

The board made these recruitments last in 1977. Since then, the Police Department had been handling all recruitments to non-gazetted posts up to the rank of Inspector.

The Punjab Police has 12 vacancies of Inspector and 123 of Assistant Sub-Inspector, the selection process for which has already been set in motion by the PSSSB.

While the board will make recruitment from amongst the general and reserve category candidates, the selection of 10 ASIs and five Inspectors under the sports quota has been left to the sports selection committee of the Punjab Police. Among prominent candidates in race for appointment as Inspectors in the sports category is the current captain of Indian junior hockey team and Olympian Gagan Ajit Singh. Also in the race are Deepak Thakur, another promising hockey player; and middle-distance runner Sunita Rani of Sunam, a recipient of Arjuna award and Padam Shri. In the case of Deepak Thakur, the state may have to relax the educational qualifications to recruit him as he is yet to finish graduation.

It may be mentioned here that the Punjab Government has decided to take three posts of Deputy Superintendent of Police out of the purview of the Punjab Public Service Commission for recruitment of outstanding sportsmen and women. Test cricketer Harbhajan Singh has already been offered a post of DSP in the Punjab Police. Similarly, all five positions of Inspector and 10 of ASI have also been taken out of the purview of the PSSSB.

There is resentment in the Police Department over the withdrawal of recruitment powers after almost 25 years on the plea that the force knows better what type of people it needs. 


Punjab: octroi move a policy-decision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
The Punjab government feels that by staying abolition of octroi in the state, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has “interfered” in the domain of the executive and the legislature.

This thinking of the Punjab Government is reflected in the application moved by it before the High Court under Section 151 CPC for the vacation of exparte stay granted by the court on September 26. The application was not listed yesterday due to technical reasons even though it was cleared by the Registry on Thursday.

Para four (iii) of the application says: “Whether the respondent / applicant state of Punjab wishes to abolish octroi is in the nature of a policy decision. The Honorable Supreme Court of India has repeatedly held that the courts should not interfere in the policy decisions that are placed within the realm of the executive and the legislature. In this case, the policy decision is still under consideration and has not even been taken so far. The petitioners may challenge any decision by the government to abolish octroi, if and when taken, only after it is implemented through legislation, delegated or otherwise”.

In another paragraph, the state asserts: “Moreover, any such decision to levy or abolish octroi involves the power to tax, which is a legislative function. The courts do not permit interference in the decision to tax or not to tax.... The legislative competent with respect to levy of octroi rests with the state and not with the municipalities which is clear from Article 246 read with Entry 52 of List II of the Seventh Schedule. Therefore, the petitioners as municipal councillors, have no right to question the decision of the state government to abolish octroi or to implement the decision by such means as are available to it in law”.

The High Court, had directed the state of Punjab and other respondents against taking any step to abolish octroi. The High Court had also issued notice of motion for October 19 while taking up a petition filed by three Municipal Councillors and one former councillor from Bathinda.

In their petition, the councillors had earlier sought directions for quashing Punjab government decision taken on September 17 abolishing octroi in the state. Directions to the state against issuing a notification for abolishing octroi till the Municipal Councils were provided with independent source of income at their own level had also been sought.

The petitioners had contended that the decision was violative of the mandatory provisions of Article 243-W of the Constitution, besides the directions issued by the High Court on September 12 in this regard.


Sangat darshan poll gimmick: Bardhan
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 29
“Punjab is now being transformed into a poor state where farmers are forced to commit suicide due to wrong policies of the ruling party,” Mr A.B. Bardhan, General Secretary of the CPI said here today while addressing a national conference on problems of women agricultural labourers.

Mr Naginder Nath Ojha, general secretary of the Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union, Ms Amarjeet Kaur, general secretary of the National Federation for Indian women, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, Lok Sabha, Mr Joginder Dyal, CPI state unit general secretary and other senior leader of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union and the National Federation for women were present on the occasion.

Mr A.B. Bardhan said that short-sighted policies of the SAD-BJP alliance had ruined the farmers. In the past three-four years the condition of farmers had deteriorated not to speak of the condition of farm labourers here, he added.

He further said there were more than 20 crore farm labourers in the country out of which 55 per cent were women. They work equally hard as men but still they were being paid half the wages as compared to male labourers.

He added that although there were laws securing the rights of women farm labourers but these were being openly violated in the country. But the CPI would bring them on a single stage and would raise their voice at national level. He said the CPI, the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, the National Federation for Indian Women and the Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union had decided to work collectively for the rights of this section.

He criticised the sangat darshans being held in by Mr Parkash Singh Badal in which crores of rupees were being distributed without a proper cause or policies. He said these sangat darshans had made the state poor and debt-ridden. The needy people and neglected sections of society were being deprived of this donation. Mr Badal was doing it for votes only as the elections were nearing, he added.

He said the CPI fought against terrorism in every part of nation and made many sacrifices. In Punjab during terrorism several CPI members openly condemned the terrorists and lost their lives. He said torture of women and increase in foeticide was another face of terrorism and the CPI would fight against it. He said a demand letter would be prepared for the rights of women farm labourers and submitted to the Prime Minister.

Mr Naginder Nath Ojha, general secretary of the Bharatiya Khet Mazdoor Union said although this year was dedicated to the empowerment of women but the Union Government had done nothing to empower the women. On the contrary there was a tremendous rise in the cases of atrocities. He said their struggle was to get equal wages for equal work, leave of four months during pregnancy and Rs 1000 for diet. free education to their children and guaranteed work around the year.

Ms Amarjeet Kaur Mitra, general secretary of the National Federation of Indian Women, while speaking on the occasion said the farm labourers should fight for their rights. He said that this conference was the starting of the women’s struggle.

She added the main objective of this movement was to unite all working women labourers of the country so that they could struggle unitedly for their rights.

Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura Lok Sabha MP, Mr Joginder Dyal, CPI state unit general secretary, Mr Hardev Arshi, CPI MLA and many senior leaders of the National Federation for Indian Women, addressed the gathering.


16 block YC chiefs nominated
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
On the directions of Mr Amarinder Singh, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, 16 block presidents of the Youth Congress have been nominated by Mr Maninder Singh Patti, president district youth president.

They are Mr Gurinderpal Singh Kang (Khadoor Sahib) Mr Satinder Singh Pannu (Naushehra Pannuan), Resham Singh Sangha and Balwinder Singh Babbu (Tarn Taran), Jaswinder Singh Jass and Sarbjit Singh (Patti), Harjinder Singh (Valtoha), Rajiv Raju (Beas) Harbhajan Singh Marrhi Kalan (Majitha), Hirdepaul Singh (Verka), Rashpal Singh and Karnbir Singh (Jandiala), Ravinder Pal Singh (Ajnala), Sukhwant Singh Kidowali (Harsha Chhina), Satnam Singh Satta (Chohla Sahib), Jasbir Singh Babbu (Gandiwind), Baljinder Singh Dhaliwal) Chaugawan), Randhir Singh Batha (Tarsika), Narinder Dhawan (Bhikhiwind). Mr Parmjit Singh Dhand has been nominated president of Patti (urban).

Mr Manjinder Singh Patti said that earlier block units were disbanded as the PPCC chief wanted to nominate active leaders to lead the party.


AIDS patients: nurses seek risk allowance
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 29
Even as the Government Medical College Council today decided to set up two operation theatres at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital and Guru Nanak Hospital exclusively for operating AIDS patients as a precautionary measure, the association of nurses and employees have demanded risk allowance for performing such operations.

The college council, presided over by Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Medical College, has asked the doctors to go ahead with such operations on humanitarian grounds. However, the meeting of the council has asked the doctors to exercise caution while operating AIDS patients.

Meanwhile, Dr R.P.S. Boparai, who has already performed the first ever orthopaedic operation on an AIDS patient, has announced that the department would operate yet another operation on October 1.

Ms Gurbachan Kaur, general secretary, Punjab Nursing Association, and district president Usha Chopra said they had persuaded the nurses not to hesitate while assisting the doctors operating on AIDS patient. They, however, said they should be given risk allowance, apart from providing special dresses.

On the other hand, some senior doctors, on the condition of anonymity, raised questions regarding AIDS patients. They said due to lack of such hospitals and HIV/AIDS peoples’ wards at various government and private hospitals in the state, majority of HIV-positive people and AIDS patients are referred to hospitals outside Punjab i.e PGI, Chandigarh, AIIMS, New Delhi and Mumbai. All patients who require open surgeries are only referred to and not operated at the tertiary healthcare hospitals attached to this premier medical college of north India.

They said disposal of the biomedical waste of the operation theatre and patient need to be incinerated only whereas any other adopted method on day-to-day basis would lead to high risk to handlers. 


DSP’s bail plea rejected
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 29
The Additional District and Session Judge, Mr G.S. Gill, has rejected the bail application of Mr Harbhajan Singh, DSP, I.R.B., who allegedly molested a lady constable of the district police in Gurdwara premises. Sources told that DSP escaped from the court to avoid arrest.

It is worth mentioning that in this hotly debated case of the district, the woman Constable, Raj Parminder Kaur, in a complaint to the SSP had levelled serious charge of molestation against the DSP posted with IRB in the premises of Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib. The SSP got the complaint enquired by the SP (D) and in his report the SP (D) confirmed the allegations and recommended registration of a case against the DSP. The SSP ordered to register the case.

The Additional District and Sessions Judge in his order mentioned that a woman constable had levelled specific allegations against the DSP to the effect that she was induced by the DSP to go to the gurdwara on the pretext that some compromise of his relatives was to be effected, and that when she reached the gurdwara, he tried to make the constable sit in his car. He also made suggestions to the constable to be ‘friendly’ with him. On refusal to do so, the DSP threatened her.

He also mentioned that such conduct, specially coming from the member of the Police Department, which is supposed to be a disciplined force, was not only depreciable but also adds to the seriousness of the office, as the DSP, himself being a person in authority and entrusted with the duty to check lawlessness, had indulged in committing an offence by exercising his authority. “Further, I find that at this stage it cannot be said that the DSP has been implicated falsely. No lady would put her reputation at stake by levelling false allegations. Especially, which may also affect her position in the department, where she is working. So I find no special ground for grant of concession of anticipatory bail. Accordingly the bail application is declined,” the Judge observed.


Sant Samagam under way at Ratwara Sahib
Tribune News Service

Ratwara Sahib, September 29
This small village on the outskirts of Chandigarh is agog with spiritual activity as thousands of people drawn from all over north India and even abroad, including the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, Germany and New Zealand, are here to participate in the 11th annual samagam of the Vishav Gurmat Ruhani Mission.

The four-day ‘samagam’ to be held under the patronage of Sant Waryam Singh, founder President of the mission, is expecting more than a million participants.

Some of the top thinkers, philosophers, historians, spiritual leaders, including Sant Sadhu Singh Sangrur, Sant Mohinder Singh Khannewale, Sant Bhupinder Sing Jarg, Sant Kalyan Dass Singh, Sant Balwant Singh, Dr Ved Bharti Rishikesh, Sant Jaswant Singh, Sant Harnek Singh, Sant Nidhan Singh, Swami Ishwardass Shastri, Sant Kashmira Singh Jalandhar, Sant Avtar Singh Dhulkot, Sant Sarup Singh Chandigarh, Sant Ranodh Singh Dhonthal, Dr Jagjit Singh, Dr Shamsher Singh, Dr Kulwant Singh, Dr Sarabjit Kaur Sandhawalia and Dr D.K. Pande, are participating in the “samagam”.

Another attraction at this religious gathering has been the participation of certain top “dhadhi jathas”, including those of Bhai Daya Singh, Giani Hazara Singh Cheema, and Bhai Idu.

A huge pandal with closed circuit television network has been set up for the participants. A huge langar pandal, where 3,000 persons can sit and take langar, has also been set up.

Special arrangements have been made for NRIs.

Besides the spiritual discourses, a free medical camp is being run on the premises of the mission at Ratwara Sahib. Students of Guru Gobind Singh Mission School, run by the mission, present “shabad Gurbani” every morning. 


Two-day police remand for Baba
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 29
The Judicial Magistrate, Anandpur Sahib, has remanded Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara in police custody for two days today. Earlier, the police had registered a case under Section 25 of the Arms Act against him after the alleged recovery of illegal arms from the dera.

In another case registered under Section 120-B of the IPC against the Baba for allegedly instigating his followers to burn the holy “bir”, he was produced in the court of Civil Judge, Ropar, today. Earlier, he was remanded in police custody till September 29. The Civil Judge, today remanded the Baba in judicial custody till October 6.

Meanwhile, the defense counsel of the Baba today moved the bail application in the court of the Civil Judge. The application would come up for hearing on October 1.

The SGPC will organise a program to repent the burning of the “bir” tomorrow at Gurdwara Bhatha Sahib in Ropar. Takht jathedars and the president of the SGPC, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, will be present on the occasion.


Release of 14 jail inmates ordered

Moga, September 29
Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Mehtab Singh Gill today ordered the release of 14 Moga sub-jail inmates whose challans had not been put up in trial courts in cases of petty recovery of poppy husk and liquor. During his visit to the jail, the judge also ordered the release of Harinder Singh of Kapure village on humanitarian grounds on furnishing a surety bond of Rs 50,000. The accused has been languishing in the jail for 18 months.

Mr Justice Gill also directed trial court to complete the hearing of another accused within six months, failing which he should be released on bail. This accused, too, is awaiting completion of the trial for one-and-a-half years in the case of alleged recovery of .5 kg opium.

The Judge assured the inmates that he would take up with the Punjab Government their demand for shifting the office of the Deputy Superintendent of Police from near the jail when they complained that their relatives, particularly females, faced harassment at the hands of cops during visits to the jail. UNI


Seminar on legal aid today
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 29
Mr Justice Ashok Bhan of the Supreme Court will preside over a seminar on “Free Legal Aid” on September 30 in the District Court complex here. A state-level Lok Adalat will also be organised on this occasion.

Addressing a press conference here this afternoon, Mr R.M. Gupta, District and Sessions Judge, Sangrur, said Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Executive Chairman of the Punjab State Legal Services Authority; Mr Justice Nirmal Singh and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, both from Punjab and Haryana High Court, would also participate in the seminar. Besides, Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta and Mr Justice K.S. Grewal, all from Punjab and Haryana High Court, were also expected to take part in the seminar.

Mr Gupta added that 116 state-level Lok Adalats had been organised in this district so far, in which 8906 cases had been taken up and 4308 cases settled. He also said that Rs 6.40 crore had been awarded in the settled cases.

Mr Gupta also disclosed that the free legal services wing had received 1169 applications in this district so far from the needy persons. Free legal aid was provided in 1156 cases, he added.


Local youths worked in Laden’s company
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Feroze (Jalandhar), September 29
This small village has a connection with the world’s most wanted man — Osama bin Laden. Three youths of Feroze had worked as labourers with the Saudi bin Laden Group, the construction company owned by the Bin Laden family. The company did not forget to pay compensation to one of the youths who had died at its Dubai headquarters on December 15 last year, though it paid after about 10 months.

The remaining two youths, who had returned to their villages after the death of their companion Resham Lal, and the latter’s family rate Laden’s company as the best employer in Dubai and Saudi Arabia. Apart from the insurance amount, which the company has promised to pay soon, the death dues of Resham Lal amounted to Rs 43,572 and was routed by the company through the district administration.

Santokh and Balkar were construction labourers along with Resham Lal, who died following a heart stroke on December 15. They praise the company which has interests in construction of roads and bridges and is run by Osama bin Laden and his brother Abu Bakar. It provided them with modern amenities and insurance cover apart from a monthly salary of Rs 7000, which they used to send home, said Balkar. “We had to work for just eight hours and were not treated like petty labourers but like all other staff of the company,” said Santokh. He added that he was worried about the future of his other colleagues, particularly Punjabis, after the freezing of accounts of Osama bin Laden by various banks across the world.


N. S. Gill — a true democrat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 29
It was on this day 10 years ago that Mr Nachhattar Singh Gill, a true democrat and a legislator from Moga, laid down his life for democracy and communal harmony.

Popular as “Baiji”, Mr Nachhattar Singh Gill was born and brought up in Moga. He did his matriculation from Khalsa High School, Moga, and graduation from Brajindra College, Faridkot, and Law from Law College, Delhi.

An excellent sportsman, he represented Delhi University in All-India Inter-University Championship, besides holding the university record in shot put and discus throw. A lover of dogs, he was the President of the Punjab Coursing Club (Kennel).

He was Municipal Commissioner of Moga for 12 years and Chairman of THE Moga Improvement Trust for three years. He was elected to the Punjab Assembly from Moga twice, first in 1967 and again in 1980. He also served as a Chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board for two years.

A devout Sikh, he was totally against terrorism, violence and repression. He was of the conviction that any problem of Punjab could be resolved by involving Punjabis at the highest level. He never accepted any security cover and on September 29, 1991, he was silenced by the bullets of terrorists at Moga. Moga town had observed a complete strike on the day this great son of the town was cremated. He is survived by his family, including two sons, who are IPS officers.

Today people from all walks of life, irrespective of their religious, political or community affiliations joined the death anniversary bhog and paid rich tributes to Mr Nachhattar Singh Gill.


Sikh’s identity: plea to Akal Takht
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
The Culture and Heritage Conservation Initiative (CHCI) yesterday sought directive from ‘Akal Takht’ to wear saffron head gear, ‘kara’ an iron bangle and a badge of ‘Khalsa emblem’ to make identity of Sikhs distinct vis a vis Muslims, who have almost similar dress code for men and women.

Dr Manjit Singh Randhawa, convener of the CHCI, a voluntary organisation in a petition submitted to head priest of ‘Akal Takht’ Giani Bhagwan Singh, has appealed the Sikh clergy to issue a directive in this regard, to save Sikhs from avoidable harassment for ‘mistaken identity’ due to dress similarity with Muslims, who are facing worldwide violent reactions after a “terrorist attack” in America in which thousands of innocent people were killed on September 11.


23 Pak delegates attend seminar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
Inaugurating the first ever seminar of South Asian Federation of Accountants the Union Minister of Power, Mr Suresh Parbhu, emphasised the need of all segments of the society to take pledge to help uplift the standard of living of the poor.

Addressing the gathering of 150 chartered accountants, including 23-delegates from Pakistan, the Minister said it was imperative that all financial institutions experts formulate policies to improve the economic condition of the country.

The president of the institute, Mr N.D. Gupta, while delivering a keynote address said the economic reforms would be of no use in case the government fails to reform the financial procedures.


Patwaris to go on protest leave
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 29
Revenue patwaris have decided to go on protest leave for 15 days from October 1.

This was stated by Mr Nirmal Singh Bajwa, district president of the Patwar Union, here yesterday. He said revenue patwaris from districts of Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala would stage a dharna on October 8 in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner in protest against the dilly-dallying attitude towards their demands.


Conference on radiation oncology
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 29
The Eighth annual two-day north zone conference on radiation oncology of India would be held from October1 in which eminent doctors from all over the country would participate.

Dr Kanwaljit Kaur, organising secretary of the conference said that this was for the first time that such conference was being held in the city by the department of Radiology, Government Medical College here.


Rs 550-crore plan to revitalise agriculture
Our Correspondent

Bhai Rupa (Bathinda), September 29
Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, Punjab said a scheme of Rs 550 crores had been formulated by the state government to revitalise the agriculture sector.

The minister who laid the foundation stone of a sports stadium at this village today while talking to mediapersons said the plan would be aided by the Union Government and the cropping pattern would be changed in the state. New technology, improved techniques and seeds would be utilised. A grant of Rs 40 crores had been released by the state government for this scheme in the past two years.

Replying to a question he said the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court would not have any adverse impact on the social security pensions being given by the state government. The Punjab Government would challenge this decision of High Court in the Supreme Court, he added.

He said the Constitutional Review Commission would submit its report in the next couple of months before Parliament. Major issues of inter-state disputes could be solved with its help.

The Punjab Government had demanded that four major areas, defence, currency, communication and exports should be under the Union Government and all other areas should be under the review of the state governments.

He said the central aid to all states was given on a similar plan whereas their needs were different. This resulted in poor development of the states, he claimed.


16,000 MT of paddy procured
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 29
Around 16,000 metric tons of paddy has been procured from Patiala District till now during the current paddy season out of which about 9000 MT has been procured by the government agencies and around 7000 has been procured by the private procurement agencies.

This was stated by Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, State Minister for Food and Supply during his visit to the grain markets of Patiala and Rajpura. He said that last year, about 15,000 metric ton of paddy was procured. He added that the farmers had been advised to bring moisture free paddy in future. Others present on the occasion were Mr Bhupinder Singh, Deputy Director, Food and Supply and Mr H.S. Mocha, District Food Supply Controller.


Admn starts process to regularise encroachments
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 29
As per the directions of the state government to regularise the illegal encroachments on the revenue lands in the urban areas in the district, the administration has initiated the process to allot the occupied land to the people who had constructed their houses on the encroached lands in cities.

Giving details of the scheduled programme, Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today, informed that under this scheme all those families who were in possession of the government land and had constructed their houses before January 1, 1996, would be allotted such plots at concessional rates fixed by the government. He said the possession would have to be proved on the basis of “pucca” construction, drinking water and power connections and the family should be residing in the said house. The Deputy Commissioner further informed that mere long time “girdawaries” and entry into the revenue record would not be given weightage for the regularisation of the land. Apart from this the land being used for agriculture or taken on contract for agriculture or commercial purpose would also not be considered for allotment under this scheme, he added.

Mr Vikas Partap informed that as per the directions of the government the beneficiaries have been divided into four categories on the basis of the area under their illegal possession. Those occupying land upto 5 marlas would have to pay 20 per cent of the market price, those in possession of 5 to 10 marlas would be charged 30 per cent of the market price and 40 per cent of the market price would be charged from those who have encroached between 10 marlas to one kanal of land. The people occupying more than one kanal of plot would have to pay the full market price for getting the possession regularised. He further said the application forms were available in the offices of the tehsildars and SDMs concerned and the applications complete in all respects can be submitted before October 20 in the offices of tehsildars or SDMs concerned.

He further disclosed that to determine the market price of these lands a District Land Price Fixation Committee had been constituted and the decision taken by this committee would be final in this regard.

“After the allotment of the plots, the allotees will have to deposit one fourth of the total price within a period of one month from the date of issue of the allotment letter and the remaining three-fourth amount will have to be paid in half yearly installments in five years with 12 per cent simple interest.

The decision to allot the plot would be taken by the tehsildar or SDM concerned as per the guidelines of the government and no person would be allotted more than one property. The Deputy Commissioner has issued directions to all concerned SDMs to give wide publicity to this scheme in all parts of the urban areas, so that all such occupants could make benefit of this scheme. He also called upon the people to submit their applications in time.


Six ultrasound centres raided
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 29
A vigilance committee, formed by the district health authorities for the implementation of Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, today conducted surprise “raids” at six ultrasound centers at Barnala.

The members of the committee were Dr Suresh Goyal, District Family Welfare Officer; Dr Surinder Singla, secretary of the local unit of the IMA; and Mrs Kusum Garg, a social worker.

The committee found that none of these six ultrasound centers, registered with the Health Department, was maintaining proper records of the patients, as required under the PNDT Act. The committee also issued warnings to these centers and directed them to keep a record of each expectant woman, arriving for ultrasound test and for any kind of check-up, on a prescribed proforma. These centers were also directed to display boards outside their centers stating that “sex determination is a crime and is not done here”.


13 commission agents booked
Tribune News Service

Budhlada, September 29
The local police has registered criminal cases against 13 commission agents today for their alleged involvement in violence under Section 307, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

Police sources said the cases had been registered following a clash between two groups at a local hospital.

Following the registration of cases against the commission agents, the local traders observed a bandh and kept their business establishments closed.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, SSP, while refusing to give details, said a move to bring about a compromise among the commission agents had been initiated. He added that arrangements had been made to keep the law and order situation under control.

It is learnt that the clash among the commission agents took place when one of them allegedly violated the norms laid down by their union.

One of the commission agents was beaten up by a few others when he was going to the ward in the hospital where his son was getting treatment.


Held for screening blue films
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 29
The district police has arrested six persons for their alleged involvement in different criminal activities and registered cases against them.

In a press note issued here today, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Ramesh Kumar, son of Khem Chand, had been arrested for allegedly screening the blue movies for minors at his shop.

A police party raided his shop at Sirki Bazar and caught him red-handed. Three video cassettes, one VCR and a TV set have been seized from his possession. A case under Sections 292, 293 and 294 of the Cinematography Act has been registered against him.

In another incident, Sukhbir Singh of Partap Nagar has been arrested for selling intoxicating pills, capsules and injections to students. A case has been registered against him under Section 420 of the Indian Medical Act. His scooter has been impounded.

Mr Jain said that Sukhbir used to project himself as a qualified doctor. He was using the licence of Manmohan Singh, a resident of Bibiwala road, to run a chemist shop. Manmohan Singh has also been arrested.

Two cases under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act against Bikkar Singh of Bhundar village and Malkiat Singh of Bahiman Diwana village registered and seized 17 litres of illicit liquor from their possession.

Rakesh Kumar of Sangat has been arrested for his involvement in satta business and seized Rs 350 from his possession. 


Man held for pension fraud
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 29
The police has arrested Gurbax Singh, resident of Harraipur village of the district, for his alleged involvement in a fraud by withdrawing pension in the name of his deceased father.

In a press note issued here on Friday, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Ajit Singh, the deceased brother of the accused was in the British Army. He died in 1946-47 and his father Rattan Singh was granted the Army pension.

After Rattan Singh passed away, Gurbax Singh opened an account in name of his father in the branch of the State Bank of Patiala at Rampura Phul. His account number was 11574 and he would withdraw the pension by putting fake signature of his father.

The accused kept on doing so for 16 years continuously and allegedly withdrawn lakhs of rupees.

When the police authorities came to know about this fraud, a case was registered under Sections 419, 420, 465 and 467 against Gurbax Singh in police station, Rampura.

In another case four persons — Nachhattar Singh, Manmohan Singh, Baldev Singh and Baldev Singh, former Sarpanch, Bangi Deepa village had been booked under Sections 420 and 34 of the IPC for defrauding Mr Gurdip Singh of Rs 20,000 a resident of Mehta village on the pretext of securing a government job.

The police has registered a case.


Accused in stabbing case arrested
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 29
The police yesterday arrested the man from Rajpura who had stabbed a woman with a knife and fled with her jewellery.

According to Rajpura DSP R.K.Sharma, the accused Kuldeep Singh occasionally visited the house of Muskaan for some computer work as the woman was running a computer centre in her house. On the day of the incident, finding the woman alone in her house, he reportedly stabbed her with a knife and took off her gold bangles and a gold chain.

The victim’s mother-in-law, Ms Sita Devi, a school teacher, on returning home from her job found Muskaan in a seriously injured condition. The accused was still present in the house at that time probably in search of some other valuables. As soon as Sita Devi started crying for help, the accused managed to run away from the house on his scooter.

On getting the information, a police party led by Rajpura SHO William Jeji came into action and put up nakas. The accused was arrested from the local Baba Morh area. The knife used for the crime and the jewellery have been recovered. A case has been registered under Sections 452, 397, 324 and 506 of the IPC. The victim has been admitted to PCI emergency in a serious condition.

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