Tuesday, October 2, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal upset over Talwandi’s remarks
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is upset over the reported statement of the SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, that acts of sacrilege have occurred when the Badal government is in the saddle and one of the Chief Minister's Officers on Special Duty, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, has links with controversial Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

Informed sources said that Mr Badal had a detailed talk with Mr Talwandi early this morning on the phone. Mr Talwandi reportedly told Mr Badal that he had not made any statement against him or Mr Badungar.

Mr Badal told Mr Talwandi that if he had not made any statement in this connection, he should issue a denial. However, according to the sources, the intelligence agencies had confirmed to Mr Badal that the SGPC chief did make the allegations reported by the media from Ropar yesterday.

The sources said that Mr Badal had a lengthy meeting with his political confidants early this morning at his residence. He reportedly discussed with them the statements made by Mr Talwandi and the situation arising in the following state the incidents of sacrilege in Tirkhan Majra village, near Fatehgarh Sahib, yesterday and earlier in Ropar district. Those who attended the meeting, according to the sources, advised Mr Badal to tackle the situation at this stage by taking some tough and decisive steps, otherwise the issue could be exploited by political opponents.

There are reports that some police officials, who allegedly failed to take timely action with regard to the incidents in Ropar district a few days ago might be shifted from the district. Delay in action on the part of the Ropar police, as had been alleged by the SGPC chief and others, resulted in tension in the Ropar-Fatehgarh Sahib belt.

Reacting sharply to Mr Talwandi's statement, Mr Badungar said today that he was a “baptised Sikh” and accepted only Guru Granth Sahib as his Guru. He said he did not know Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara. The allegation of having links with the Baba were false.

Mr Badungar said that the statement made by Mr Talwandi against him was misleading, political motivated and without any basis. Such a statement had been given by Mr Talwandi to “damage” him politically, Mr Badungar said. If Mr Talwandi did not withdraw his statement, he would have to retaliate, Mr Badungar added.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal issued a stern warning to those trying to disrupt peace and communal harmony in the state by resorting to acts of sacrilege.

Mr Badal said that those involved in such incidents would not be allowed to go unpunished. The Punjab Government had launched a full-scale onslaught against those hatching conspiracies against peace and communal harmony. They wanted to bring black the days of bloodshed and communal hatred. But the government would crush all such conspiracies with the help of the people. Those guilty of such acts would be fully exposed, Mr Badal said.

Mr Badal said the SAD-BJP combine was the sole guarantor of peace in the state. Peace would be maintained at all costs and no one would be allowed to come in the way of Punjab's march into the new millennium of hope and prosperity.

Mr Badal said the government was not ruling out the possibility that some frustrated political elements in the state, who had been rejected by the people at successive elections, could be trying to fish in troubled waters. “We have witnessed such things in the past and are fully alive to the danger even now.


AISSF defends Badungar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Reacting to the statement reportedly made by the SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, against the secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, the All-India Sikh Students Federation said today that Mr Talwandi was playing into the hands of anti-Panthic forces.

Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, convener of the federation, said that Mr Badungar was an “Amritdhari Sikh” and had no connection with any Baba. The AISSF leader said that Mr Badungar had always stood against so-called Babas who believed in exploiting the innocent masses.


Security beefed up in state
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 1
Security has been beefed up at places of worship and historical importance, apart from transport stations and key government offices in the wake of the simmering tension in the state over Baba Bhaniara issue. The move followed intelligence reports that tension might increase after the unsavoury incidents, particularly, the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib.

Police sources said the intelligence wing of the state police had warned against serious repercussions of the incident, especially in view of the coming elections. In fact, a communication dated September 26 from ADGP Intelligence to all SSPs in the state also directs them to beef up security in their respective areas after terrorist attacks in the USA and subsequent escalation of tension between the USA and Islamic terrorist organisations.

It says that precautionary measures need to be taken to ensure that the terrorist attacks do not affect communal harmony in the state. It warned that fundamentalist miscreants were ready to exploit every opportunity to create social tension and unrest in the state.

It further directed the SSPs to keep a vigil on vital installations, installations, including historical and religious places, monuments of national importance, bridges, government offices and other key places. The SSPs have also been directed to take action in response to a complaint filed by a member of a minority community in the state. Intelligence sources said members of minority community were exposed to threat in the wake of recent developments.

Intelligence sources said security system in the state was already under close scrutiny due to the terrorist attacks in the USA, but had been beefed up due to tension between the followers and opponents of controversial Baba Piara Singh, who had been arrested recently.

Sources said the intelligence agencies and the police were working overtime for the past few weeks to gather information about the possible fallouts of the terrorist attacks in the USA and about the social and religious tension over the Bhaniara guru controversy.


Sacrilege bid foiled
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 1
Another bid to commit sacrilege at a place of worship was foiled at Kajal Majra village of Bassi Pathana subdivision in the district. However, attendants at the place of worship woke up after hearing the noise and the miscreants escaped.

The police was apprised of the incident by the priest.

Meanwhile, normal life was put out of gear in the district as the protest continued on the second day today against the sacrilege at Tarkhan Majra village near Sirhind yesterday. A bandh was observed in almost all towns and villages.

Workers of a students’ body got all schools and colleges closed in the district and held a march from Fatehgarh Sahib to Sirhind and Tarkhan Majra.

They also blocked traffic at Nabipur, Tarkhan Majra and Badali Ala Singh villages. The blockade was lifted only after the assurance from the district administration that culprits would be arrested and punished. Mr R.S. Cheema, a former minister and Mr Kirpal Singh Sethi, a senior Akali leader, addressed the gathering the dharna at Badali Ala Singh.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (A), visited Tarkhan Majra village. He said the Badal government had failed to protect places of worship. He urged people to maintain communal harmony.

Meanwhile, the police has rounded up a number of suspects and investigating the case.

Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner and Mr H.S. Saran, SSP, claimed that no untoward incident had taken place in the district. They assured the people that the culprits would be arrested soon. 


Call for bandh on October 6
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 1
Sacrilege at a place of worship has caused widespread resentment among people. Opposition Akali leaders have given a state-wide ‘bandh call’ for October 6. While the Dal Khalsa, the All India Shiromani Youth Akali Dal and the Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (Amritsar) have decided to organise a state-level rally and dharna in front of Raj Bhavan in protest against the sacrilege. These organisations alleged that the Punjab Government had failed check such incidents.

The strong stand taken by Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president Shiromani Akali Dal, could embarrass Mr Badal who is accused to delaying action against Baba Bhaniara. Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman for the Dal Khalsa said it was for the first time that the Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh was ‘gheraoed’ by the Sikh sangat at Anandpur Sahib. He said the atmosphere was surcharged and the state government must act strongly. Further delay on the part of the state government to book Baba Bhaniara could discredit Mr Badal as senior leader of his party.

Meanwhile, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht has called a meeting of all Panthic organisations on October 5 at Mohali to take stock of the situation. On the other hand, the Damdami Taksal has threatened to resort to strict action if the guilty were not punished.

LUDHIANA: The youth wing of Shiromani Akali Dal (A), the Youth Wing Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, the Sikh Students Federation (Gill faction) and the Dal Khalsa on Monday threatened that if the government failed to take any action against Baba Bhaniara till October 5 they would jointly observe Punjab bandh on October 6.


Baba booked in another case
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 1
Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara has been booked in yet another case relating to sacrilege at Rasoolpur village near Morinda by the local police. He was presented before the local Duty Magistrate and remanded in police custody.

In another case of illegal arms baba was remanded in judicial custody till October 15. The hearing of the bail application of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara has been postponed till October 3.

Meanwhile, the lawyers also struck work against the incidents of sacrilege in Takhan Majra village near Sirhind. 


Tighter security at dams
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Security in and around major hydro and thermal power projects has been beefed up in the aftermath of the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

In view of the vulnerability of high-profile projects, security will be further tightened and the new procedures are expected to come into force soon. The country's biggest reservoir at the Bhakra dam, about 150 km from here, already has radar-guided anti-aircraft guns. These guns get activated whenever an aircraft comes within a specified area from the dam. The guns are routinely checked for efficacy and reaction time.

Top sources in the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) claimed the concrete wall of the dam was very strong and could withstand minor crashes. Just ahead of the wall were high-tension power cables and reaching the wall in a daring attempt in a plane was impossible, said officials while assuring that the Bhakra dam was safe in the eventuality of an attack similar to the ones in the USA. Even the approach from the valley did not permit the entry of large planes.

The sources said intelligence gathering had been stepped up and around all dams in North India. This would also be done in other regions of the country.

About 800 additional personnel have been deployed around the BBMB projects. Special teams are also stationed at the Ranjit Sagar Dam in Gurdaspur and the Chamera project on the Ravi near Chamba. As additional teams are being deployed, the monitoring of suspicious persons and outsiders near the dam premises is being done by plainclothesmen, a source added. An eye is also being kept on new settlers, if any.

A review of security in and around dams and thermal projects was carried out within 24 hours of the terrorist attacks on the WTC and the Pentagon.


Seven killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 1
Seven persons were killed and 24 injured when a Tata 407 carrying disciples of “Sachcha Sauda” returning from Sirsa collided with a PRTC bus near Fatta Maloka village on the Sirsa-Mansa road here last evening.

Three persons died on the spot while four died on the way to hospitals at Sardulgarh and Mansa. The bus driver is among those dead. All six occupants of the Tata vehicle died.

Three persons have been referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.

Those killed have been identified as bus driver Dalbir Singh (45), Fakir Chand (30), Ram Paul (20), Charan Singh (40), Prem Nath (30), all of Kheri Gujran village in Patiala, and Vinod Kumar of Solar village (Patiala) district. One body could not be identified.


Punwire will not be reopened: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today expressed his inability to help reopen the SAS Nagar-based Punwire.

Participating in the “bal sangat darshan” organised by the National Society for the Child Artists here today, Mr Badal, however, sanctioned an amount of Rs 10,000 to one of the students affected by the closure of the firm. Earlier, Charu, a local student, had pleaded with Mr Badal to help reopen Punwire, as her family was having a tough time after the closure of Punwire since her mother was rendered jobless and her father was confined to the wheel chair.

In fact, some tough questions greeted the Chief Minister. A girl student, Jagdish Kaur, complained that frequent power cuts in Punjab had adversely affected their studies. To this Mr Badal listed various steps to augment the power supply in the villages. A physically-challenged student brought to his notice the fact that rules regarding concessions to physically-challenged students were being flouted by certain students.

Mr Badal informed that he had instructed all universities in the state to provide free education to needy brilliant students up to the university level.

Over 75 children from Punjab participated in the sangat darshan. Through a representation, the children demanded separate directorate, change in syllabus, review of education system and review of the education system.

The chief programme coordinator, Mr Ajit Salani, claimed that this was first of its kind programme in the country.

Earlier, Amanjot from Central Public School, Ghuman in Gurdaspur district, demanded financial and political assistance for the society.

Mr Badal announced a grant of Rs 5 lakh for the society.


Farmers complain of erratic payments
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 1
Even though paddy procurement started only 10 days ago yet, farmers are already complaining of erratic payments by procurement agencies which are also slow in procuring paddy in the district with 15,000 metric tonnes of the 50,000 metric tonnes arrival this weekend still to be purchased.

A quick survey of some mandis in the district revealed that two to three procurement agencies are running behind schedule in making payments to farmers. Mr Ujaggar Singh of Dakala said while the government was claiming that payments were being made immediately, he was waiting for his payment for the past one week.

Farmers in Nabha block also complained of slow payments. Sources said this could be because the procurement had picked up speed in the past one week or so. They said a backlog of about one week in payments had developed due to this. This weekend itself around 50,000 metric tonnes of paddy had arrived in various mandis of the district and of which 15,000 metric tonnes was still lying unpurchased, they added. Besides this farmers also complained of improper facilities for their overnight stay at the mandis and said basic facilities were also missing at some places.

Meanwhile, Food and Supplies Director G. Vajralingam, while visiting some grain markets in the district today, warned procurement staff not to be lax in purchasing the produce. While directing the staff to speed up the procurement process, he also directed them to ensure that the paddy was purchased both in the morning and afternoon every day.

Mr Vajralingam also directed commission agents to ensure that power cleaners were used by them regularly in all mandis. He also checked the sewing process at the local mandi besides, directing that lifting of grain from the markets should also be speeded up. Directions were also given to maintain a minimum stock of gunny bags at all purchase centres.

Meanwhile, the Director, Food and Supplies, said around 125 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was expected in Punjab this year as compared to 105 lakh metric tonnes purchased this year. He said the procurement process this year was quicker than last year with 26 lakh metric tonnes of paddy being purchased till now in the state as compared to 13 lakh metric tonnes purchased during the same period last year.

Giving a break up of the procurement process, he said 2.68 lakh metric tonnes had been purchased by the Food and Supplies Department, 3.83 lakh metric tonnes by Punsup, 4.51 lakh metric tonnes by Markfed, 3.50 lakh metric tonnes by the Warehouse Corporation, 1.43 lakh metric tonnes by Punjab Agro, 5.42 lakh metric tonnes by the FCI and 5.03 lakh metric tonnes by private traders. 


PSEB launches modified VDS
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 1
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has relaunched the voluntary disclosure scheme (VDS) for agricultural consumers so that they can regularise their unauthorised loads. The scheme will remain open till November 30.

An official release here said under the modified scheme all prospective consumers will have to deposit Rs 2,500 per BHP for submersible motors installed and Rs 3,000 per BHP for non-submersible motors installed unauthorisedly by them. The applicants will be required to deposit advance consumption deposit at the rate of Rs 200 per BHP for the extended load.

The board has also decided to grant permanent agriculture tubewell connections to those consumers who had applied for temporary tubewell connections and completed requisite formalities up to July 30. It said the connections had been released during the paddy season 2001. The spokesman said the decision would give a long awaited relief to a large number of agricultural power consumers and would help in boosting agricultural production in Punjab.

The spokesman said farmers will have to deposit Rs 5,000 per BHP as service commission charges to avail of this scheme. He said applicants will have to pay material cost, labour charges and other charges applicable for the release of the tubewell connection under the scheme. He said alternatively farmers could also get their service cable erected from a private contractor approved by the Chief Electrical Inspector, Punjab. Farmers could avail of this scheme till November 30.


NRI shot dead in Canada
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 1
Kamalbir Singh (24) of the nearby Haripur village in the subdivision was shot dead allegedly by two other Punjabi NRIs in Vancouver in Canada on Sunday. Personal enemity was said to be the reason behind the murder.

Kamalbir and his cousin Inderbir went to the house of assailants, but the assailants opened fire on them killing Kamalbir on the spot while his cousin sustained bullet injuries.

This correspondent visited the Kamalbir’s home in his native village. Lehber Singh and Ajit Singh distant uncles of the deceased, said they were informed about the murder by a telephone call from Canada yesterday. Amar Kaur grandmother of the deceased who came to India recently ruled out the possibility of any love-story behind the murder of her grandson.


Rs 1 crore paddy scam detected
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 1
The owners of a rice mill in connivance with officials of the Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation (Punsup) and Punjab Agro Industries Corporation are reported to have caused a loss of Rs 1 crore to these agencies. Although the matter had come to the notice of the higher authorities of the agencies and the district administration, yet no worthwhile action has been taken so far.

According to the information available, Mr Raj Kumar, a resident of Bareta town in the district, and Mr Vijay Kumar, a local resident, took Jai Vishnu Rice Mill at Bhikki on lease for 1999-2000 and allegedly misappropriated the paddy stocks.

It is learnt that Punjab Agro gave 31,987 bags of paddy for milling during 1999-2000 to the mill. Thirty-four wagons of rice were to be delivered against this stock, but the rice mill allegedly delivered only 13 wagons and misappropriated the remaining 21 wagons valued at Rs 63 lakh. In addition, Punsup shifted paddy for 13 wagons of rice lying with Bishna Mal Puran Chand Rice Mills, Bareta, to Jai Vishnu Mill.

According to the information available, the mill delivered only one wagon of rice to Punsup and allegedly misappropriated 12 wagons valued at Rs 36 lakh.

An Inspector of Punjab Agro posted at Bhikki locked the main gate of the mill last month as four to five wagons of paddy were still lying there fearing that these might also be taken away by the owners of the mill. Both agencies are claiming their right over these stocks.

It is also learnt that Mr Raj Kumar gave a cheque for Rs 12 lakh to Punjab Agro, but it bounced. Similarly, another cheque for Rs 38.77 lakh given by Mr Raj Kumar to Punsup at the time of the agreement has also bounced. Mr Makhan Singh, Inspector of Punjab Agro, when contacted said that he had brought all facts to the notice of the higher authorities several times. He said he had also reported the matter at the Bhikki police station. The police had referred the matter to the local Assistant District Attorney for legal advice. The District Managers of Punsup and Punjab Agro were not available for comments.


Heart attack rate ‘rising’ among youth
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 1
Regular exercise, reduction in central obesity, physical work, change in methods of food preparation and intake of fruits and fibrous diet are some of the cardinal points for the prevention of heart attack.

This view emerged at a seminar-cum-cardiac meet organised by the local branch of the Indian Medical Association headed by Dr S.P.S. Sooch last night. Dr Raman Chawla, cardiologist, and Brig Dr J.S. Saini (retd), an expert on diabetes, delivered keynote address on the topics “from treatment to prevention of coronary artery disease” and “management of diabetes mellitus in coronary artery disease patients”, respectively. Dr S. Mohindra, Dr S.P.S. Sooch, Dr Anoop, Dr M.I.B.S. Parmar, Dr Raman Aggarwal, Dr J.S. Virk, Dr N.P.S. Makkar and Dr Kiranpreet Kaur also participated.

Addressing newsmen after the seminar, Dr Raman Chawla said even youths were now suffering heart attacks. Surprisingly, the heart disease in case of youth was more severe, extensive and had 10 times more mortality than old people, he said.

Dr Chawla said in case preventive measures were not taken the disease would acquire epidemic proportions in Asia by 2015 AD. Brig Dr Saini said at present diabetes was the first among the ten diseases afflicting Indians the most. By 2025 AD, the present number of 20 million diabetic cases would swell to 60 million, he added. Coronary artery disease was also found afflicting Asians, particularly Indians.

Dr Chawla attributed the rise in the heart disease to genetic and environmental degradation factors in India.


No case against MLA: SSP
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 1
Mr H.S. Saran, SSP, said here today that the district police had not registered any case against the local MLA, Dr Harbans Lal, and his private secretary as published in a section of the Press.

A news item said that the police had registered a case against the MLA on the complaint of Dr Charanjit Singh of Khamano alleging that the MLA and his secretary had threatened and misbehaved with his nursing staff in his hospital.

The SSP said that rather the activities of the complainant were also objectionable and he had been receiving complaints against the high-handedness of the doctor. He said that the FIR had been registered against Subhash Verma and his brother-in-law.

Meanwhile Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, Sirhind expressed surprise over the news item that the Khamano police has registered a case against the MLA. A large number of supporters of the MLA today gathered at his residence and criticised Dr Charanjit Singh for allegedly levelling false charges against the MLA.

The supporters threatened to launch an agitation if the police tried to implicate the MLA in any case.


Lawyers observe strike
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 1
More than 1,000 lawyers of the district courts observed a strike against the indifferent attitude of the three-member building committee of the Punjab and Haryana High Court pertaining to the allotment of space for the construction of lawyers’ chambers at the new judicial complex here today.

Even though Rs 10 crore new judicial complex project is near completion and the courts are going to be shifted to the new place by the end of December, yet the committee had failed to take concrete steps pertaining to the construction of chambers for the past more than four years, the lawyers said.

“The indifference of the judiciary can be gauged from the fact that though we have submitted a comprehensive plan regarding the construction of around 500 chambers in the multi-storeyed building to the committee about five months ago, but it had failed to approve the same so far,” Mr Varinder Singh Shelly, senior vice-president of the District Bar Association said.

Mr Shelly said the association had also proposed that the chambers could be constructed under the Self Finance Scheme by the lawyers themselves and there would be no financial burden on the committee or the state government. Presently more than 600 lawyers have about 300 temporary chambers, that too constructed in a haphazard manner, at the old Judicial Complex, he added.


Sirhind overbridge to be opened shortly
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 1
With the completion of the construction work at the railway overbridge at the railway crossing, Sirhind a long-standing demand of the residents of the area has been fulfilled. The work on the widening of the approaching roads on both the sides of the bridge is in full swing and is likely to be completed shortly.

Sirhind, district headquarters town, is located on the main trunk route of Delhi and Amritsar double-line section. More than 152 trains pass through this busy railway junction daily. These include 82 passenger and mail trains.

According to railway officials, the railway gate has to be closed for at least 15 minutes before the passage of a train resulting in its closure for 15 to 20 hours a day. This leads to chaos and traffic jam with people having to wait for hours to reach Fatehgarh Sahib from the GT Road side and vice versa. The railway electronic signal further aggravates the situation. People from all walks of life have been demanding a bridge for decades. Many times patients seriously ill lost their lives because they could not reach the hospital in time due to the closure of the railway gate.

Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, told The Tribune that the bridge was the lifeline of the district, and development of the district depended on it. He said the work on the bridge was started in October last year and had been completed in a record time of less than a year. He said that final touches were being given and it would take another few days. He said that the bridge had been constructed at a cost of Rs 9.22 lakh, which was being shared in the 50:50 ratio as per the laid policy.

Mr Kewal Krishan, XEN, said the state share of Rs 463 lakh had been arranged by raising a loan from HUDCO. The total length of the bridge was 32.24 metre. The approaching roads on both sides of the bridge were being widened. Traffic lights were being installed for the smooth flow of vehicles . Besides this, service roads were being constructed for local traffic. The Municipal Council, Sirhind, would maintain the lights being installed.


Women Helpline launched
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 1
Having introduced round-the-clock Animal Helpline last year, the police has now launched a Women Helpline.

Women Helpline has been set up with an objective to take immediate action following receipt of information of atrocities on women and to provide counselling and succour to women in distress. On the directive of the Director-General of Police, Punjab, all district police chiefs have been told to set up helplines for women in the district control rooms.

Mr J.P. Virdi, Inspector-General, who launched the helpline today, said it would take action immediately after getting information about a crime against any woman or in case any woman required any relief. “The helpline officials would inform the SHO concerned and DSP of the area who will rush to the spot immediately along-with lady police,” said Mr Virdi. Legal aid would also be provided for which Mr M.F. Farooqi, SP (headquarters), would be the nodal office, he said, adding that information got through telephone would be duly entered in the duty register. The helpline officials also consider involving voluntary organisations for counselling purposes and for redressal of long-pending matrimonial and other disputes.

“All reports received at the helpline would be sent to the SP (H) and he will take decision whether to refer it to a voluntary organisation or to the police,” said the SSP, Mr Gaurav Yadav. Anybody could access the helpline by dialling 880100, he said. Two officers, three head constables and four constables, all women, had been deputed with the helpline, he added.


Mann: give asylum to Afghan Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 1
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, as well as MP from Sangrur was on a three-day visit to the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency to study grievances of the people.

While talking to this reporter yesterday, Mr Mann regretted that neither the Union Government nor the SAD-BJP combine government led by Mr Badal took any steps to ensure the safety of Sikhs living in various parts of the world. He expressed surprise that Mr Badal (who himself happens to be a Sikh) did not brother to see the US Foreign Secretary or the US Ambassador to India or Mr Jaswant Singh, to suggest steps to restore confidence in Sikhs living in various parts of the world because of US reaction against Taliban following the terrorist attacks in New York and the Pentagon.

Expressing his concern over the plight of about 30,000 Sikhs stuck up in Afghanistan, Mr Mann urged that the Union Government must offer political asylum to these Sikhs in India. He suggested that the Government of India must utilise its diplomatic relations with Pakistan to come to the rescue of these unfortunate Sikhs.


CM announces Rs 10 lakh grant for trust
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 1
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, has praised the efforts of the Vishav Gurmat Ruhani Mission, Ratwara Sahib, in serving the mankind by following the path shown by the Gurus and appealed to people to give full respect to every religion. He was addressing a gathering at the 11th Vishav Gurmat Samagam at Ratwara Sahib, near here, today.

He announced a grant of Rs 10 lakh for the Vishav Gurmat Ruhani Charitable Trust and promised to get permission from the Centre for a donation of Rs 2 crore which was being expected from abroad for a 25 bed charitable hospital to be constructed by this trust.


Reiki workshop for jail inmates
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 1
Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Human Rights Commission, today inaugurated a Reiki workshop for the inmates of local Central Jail here today. Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bhatnagar said such workshop could enable the prisoners to become better persons and help them in overcoming tension.

Mr R.S. Chalia, IG (Jail), said the workshop would help the jail inmates in easing out their mental tension. Mr Swaran Singh, Jail Superintendent, said a new environment would be created whereby the prisoners could bring about a change in their lives and thus become better persons.

The workshop was being organised by a social organisation, Ahasaas-A Feeling. Dr Ritu Sharma, director of the organisation, said during the workshop, the inmates would also be made aware about AIDS.


Potable water for 7500 villages 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 1
As many as 7,500 villages of the state have been provided with the clean and hygienic water and Rs eight lakh have been spent to provide water supply to about 317 villages of the area. This was stated by Raja Narinder Singh, Public Health Minister, while addressing a gathering at Kulara village, falling in Nabha subdivision here today.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jora Singh Thind SDM said voter cards would be prepared from October 8 to October 11. In the coming Assembly elections, no voter would be allowed to vote without producing his voter card, he said.

The minister gave a grant of Rs 50,000 for the village dharamshala, Rs 5,000 for the maintenance of village roads, Rs 20,000 for a Shiv mandir and Rs 25,000 for the Baba Champ Singh Memorial Club, Kulara.


Blood Donation Day observed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 1
The International Blood Donation Day was observed and many blood donation camps were organised here today. A total of 26 units blood were collected at the camps.

The Sahara Jan Seva organised a blood donation camp in association with the Guru Teg Bahadur Blood Donation Society at the Blood Bank of the local Civil Hospital. Mr Vijay Goyal, president, Sahara Jan Seva, said the organisation had organised more than 50 such camps in the past.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP, who was the chief guest on the occasion, said AIDs, hepatitis-B and many other diseases could be eradicated if proper precautionary measures were taken, regular blood donation being one of them.

Mr R. Venkatratna, Deputy Commissioner, was the chief guest at another blood donation organised by the District Red Cross Society and the United Welfare Society. He lauded the contribution of Mr Vinod Bansal, a volunteers of the society who had donated blood 72 times.


NFL SC staff plea to PM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 1
Mr Mangal Singh, general secretary of the National Fertilisers Limited SC/ST Employees Welfare Co-ordination Committee in a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee said that the interests of the SC/ST employees should be protected if the NFL was to be privatised reportedly as per provisions of the Constitution of India. He feared that SC/ST employees would suffer if the NFL was privatised.

He urged the Prime Minister to make special provisions in the Memorandum of Understanding on privatisation to protect interests of the weaker sections of the society.


Minister takes procurement staff to task
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 1
In an unusual incident, the Punjab Minister for Jails, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, allegedly snubbed the District Food and Supply Controller (DFSC) for not ensuring fast pace of paddy procurement at Shahkot mandi and even went to the extent of levelling allegations that the procurement officials of different state agencies were not purchasing paddy as they were hand in glove with the millers at a meeting here this evening.

Ironically, Ms Harsimarjot Kaur, DFSC and Deputy Director, Food & Civil Supplies, Mr H.S. Sidhu, had claimed yesterday that the paddy procurement was going on smoothly and there was no pressure from any quarter, including politicians and bureaucrats, for unofficial relaxations as far as the quality of paddy in the markets was concerned. In a virtual damage-control excercise, they had also asserted that there was no pressure on them from the SAD-BJP-led government for making a compromise on the quality of the crop coming in the markets.

The minister reportedly shocked everybody in a closely door meeting regarding the progress of paddy procurement when he allegedly accused the DFSC and other procurement officials of having some “git-mitt” (being hand in glove) with the millers which had led to non-procurement of paddy in the Shahkot mandi during past few days, particularly, yesterday when about 100 trucks had got stuck in the market. He also advised the officials to sit in their homes if they were unable to purchase the paddy.

Later, the coordination committee of procurement officials of state agencies submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Shiva Prasad, against the behaviour of the minister. They also decided to take up the matter with the Chief Minister tomorrow.

The DFSC was not available, while the Deputy Commissioner admitted that the procurement officials had submitted a memorandum regarding this to him.


Arhtiyas continue boycott
Tribune News Service

Budhlada (Mansa), October 1
Even as the arhtiyas (commission agents) of local grain market boycotted the procurement of paddy for the second day today in protest against implication of about 13 commission agents in false criminal cases by the police authorities, the district administration is trying to work out a compromise between the two parties.

Official sources said the Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM), Mansa, had been asked to evolve a formula for the compromise which would be acceptable to all parties involved in the dispute. Apart from it, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) and DSP (Sub-Division) had also been holding regular talks with the commission agents and other parties.

The commission agents of local grain market started a three-day boycott of paddy procurement yesterday in protest against the implication of 13 commission agents in false criminal cases. They had also warned the district administration that if the cases were not withdrawn they would start agitation in the entire Mansa district and would boycott paddy procurement.

The commission agents had also demanded that Mr Paramjit Singh, SHO, police station Budhlada, should be transferred immediately and a criminal case against him should be registered as he had used derogatory remarks against commission agents and other prominent citizens.

The local police has registered criminal cases against 13 commission agents and some unidentified persons on September 29 after a clash took place in the grain market and local hospital. The commission agents had beaten up Mr Kushwant Singh and his father, Mr Kulwant Singh. Kushwant Singh is also a commission agents.

Mr Paramjit Singh, SHO, while denying having used derogatory remarks against anyone alleged that the police had rescued Mr Kulwant Singh from the commission agent.

Mrs Raji. P. Srivastva, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said efforts were on to sort out the matter. 


Rain damages paddy
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 1
The heavy rain which continued for about an hour lashed the city and its vicinity flooding the local grain market and hampering the harvesting of paddy by combine harvesters.

The farmers, who had unloaded their paddy outside the sheds at the grain market due to space crunch did their best to save their crop from rain, but to no avail as the rain was very heavy.

Mr Lachhman Singh, of Bibiwala village in the district, while talking to TNS, said about 250 mounds of paddy brought by him at the grain market had become virtually damp. There was no proper arrangement in the grain market to save the crop from rain.

Mr Baba Singh of Jaisinghwala village, Mr Darshan Singh and Mr Nazam Singh of Jaganand village, Mr Bagha Singh and Mr Gora Singh suffered losses as their produce was also damaged by the rain.

Farmers said the rain had also hampered the harvesting of paddy crop by combine harvester. Moisture content or ripened standing crop of paddy had also increased due to the rain.

Owing to the shortage of space, the farmers had started unloading their crop on roads and ‘kutcha’ places near sheds.

Meanwhile, Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today said so far 70 per cent of the total paddy had been procured by the state and Central agencies in the district.


Experts lay stress on soil, water testing
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 1
The local Krishi Kendra of Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, organised a regional kisan fair today. A large number of farmers from Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts participated. Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over and Mr Sucha Singh Langah PWD (B&R) Minister, was the chief guest at the fair.

Experts of the university, representing various fields of agriculture, emphasised the rational use of fertilisers and micro-nutrients. They also stressed on soil and water testing along with timely sowing and watering of crops.

Dr Aulakh said there was a need for checking increase in population otherwise landholding would be reduced to the minimum and agriculture as a profession would become unprofitable.


Dhillon sworn in PPSC member
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
Mr Paramjit Singh Dhillon was today sworn in as a member of the Punjab Public Service Commission by the Governor, Lt- Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), at a simple ceremony at Punjab Raj Bhavan.

With the induction of Mr Dhillon, the strength of the commission has risen to five, including the chairman.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, his wife, Ms Surinder Kaur, some ministers and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP, were among those present.


Rail property theft: two held
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 1
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has busted gangs of thieves and recovered stolen Railway property worth Rs three lakh from Mandi Gobindgarh in Punjab.

The force raided the godown of Magharmal Thapar in Mandi Gobindgarh before his arrest and claimed to have recovered property worth Rs 65,000, an RPF release said here today. Thapar was remanded in judicial custody by a Fatehgarh Sahib court after three-days of interrogation.

Another gangster from Rajasthan alleged to have stolen Railway property worth Rs 42,000 caught from near Naugaon village was arrested along with his six others. The group leader was Lala Ram from Hanumangarh District in Rajasthan.

Interrogation of these revealed that five such gangs were operating in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and were allegedly selling the railway property to L.R. Industries in Mandi Gobindgarh.

A raid was conducted and the unit owner Satdev Garg was arrested. Stolen Railway property valued at Rs 1.70 lakh was recovered.


4 held for posing as DTOs
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 1
The police has arrested four persons posing as district transport officers (DTO) and staff of the transport department on the charge of fleecing money from truck drivers and other vehicle owners on the pretext of challaning their vehicles.

Stating this here today, Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said the accused had put up a naka near a village on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road and were forcibly extracting money from vehicle owners for not challaning their vehicles.

A case has been registered.


Law students face uncertain future
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, October 1
Law students at the local Regional Centre of Punjabi University, Patiala, are reportedly going to face rough time this year also as the conditions laid down by the Bar Council of India for the approval of the course have reportedly not been fulfilled by the university authorities.

Sources said the council had imposed certain conditions to be fulfilled within 90 days by the university authorities and the last date for it expires on September 30 (Sunday). The conditions included, the appointment of a separate head of the department for the Law Department, having a Reader or professor scale.

The second condition imposed by the council directed the university authorities to have a separate library/librarian for the law course. A separate fund was also needed to be established for the law course at the centre.

A separate building for the law course was needed till the next session begins. The sources said none of these mandatory conditions have been fulfilled.

Sources said this was not for the first time that law students of the local centre were facing trouble. The council had not recognised the degrees of the students who had done their LLB from the local regional centre a number of times earlier but later granted licences to them to save their future, who were not at fault.

Law students of the local regional centre though aware of the problems they would have to face if the course was not approved by the council, expressed their helplessness. For a total of at least 180 students of law only four permanent lecturers had been appointed. While the students are made to pay fees paid by the law students studying at the university campus they are denied facilities like hostel, senior professors etc. The students alleged that the number of permanent teachers at the university campus for the Law Department were at least 18, as compared to just four here.

Mr Vasudev Aggarwal, President, Peoples’ Law Forum, alleged that he had also been a victim of the apathy of the university authorities. He pointed out that his batchmates were given licences by the council after repeated requests and a lot of time was wasted.

Mr Jagroop Singh, Director of the regional centre, said the centre was only a teaching department of the university and all important decisions were taken at the university level. All letters and correspondence received in this connection had been forwarded to the university authorities for necessary action.

Replying to a question Dr Singh said the fee which was overcharged due to a communication gap from the law students would be refunded soon, while the students alleged that more than one session had elapsed since the so-called mistake.

No senior official of Punjabi University, including Dr B.S. Bhatia, Registrar or Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor was available for comments.


Irregularities in ETT admission
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 1
The District Institute of Education Research and Training (DIET) has denied admission to a candidate who had got first place in the merit list (waiting) and instead admitted a student who not only belonged to another category but also got 12 marks less in the entrance test held for admission to the two-year elementary teachers training (ETT) course.

Sources said after the admission to the ETT course, a seat in the general category was vacated by Neeraj Gupta in August. The seat was to be filled from the waiting list of candidates, of the same category that had already been made public by way of notices in newspapers.

Instead of following the rules and regulations laid down by the department, the DIET authorities admitted a student from a reserved category. The change of category after the forms had been filled was not allowed, the sources said.

Sarjeev Narula, who was placed at the first position in the waiting list, had secured 123 marks in the entrance test. She alleged in a complaint filed with the Director, State Council of Education Research and Training, (SCERT), that she had been denied admission due to favouritism. She said ever since the seat had been vacated, she had been in touch with the DIET authorities but was denied admission.

Mr Barjinder Singh Mann, Principal, DIET, was not available for comments. Officials of the DIET, however, said the vacant seat was filled as per the directions of the Director, SCERT.

Though the prospectus stated that the vacant seats would be filled with candidates of the same category, a circular issued by the state government stated that of the candidates placed at first position on waiting lists of various categories, the candidate senior most in age had to be admitted.

The candidate who was admitted against the vacant seat had scored less marks and belonged to a different category but was senior in age so she was given admission, the officials maintained.

The SCERT, Director could not be contacted.


Winner schools
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 1
The following schools have won the National group song competition organised by the local unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad, Shivalik Public School, 1st, Tagore Model School, 2nd. The prominent social worker, Mr RS Parmar, gave away the prizes to the winners. This information was given by the president of the parishad, Mr RK Kapoor.

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