Thursday, October 4, 2001,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Octroi row may hit govt’s poll prospects
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
Even though Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal is leaving no stone unturned to bring the SAD-BJP alliance in power in Punjab again, the issue relating to the abolition of octroi may snowball into a major disadvantage for the ruling combine in the coming Assembly elections.

The Punjab Congress leadership has started criticising the state government over the fact that the writ petition on which the Punjab and Haryana High Court granted stay against any move of the state government to abolish octroi was filed by three municipal councillors belonging to the SAD and a former municipal councillor is a senior BJP leader.

The Congress leadership is alleging that the SAD and the BJP motivated their workers to file a writ petition in the high court to scuttle the move of abolition of octroi. The Congress had alleged that the SAD and BJP leadership has failed to take disciplinary action against those who approached the high court.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC, talking to TNS, said it had become clear to the people of Punjab that they were being befooled by the ruling alliance for the past four and a half years. He asked why the SAD-BJP alliance was not stating as to what it was going to do to abolish octroi from the state and what action it was going to take at party level against those who had filed the writ petition in the high court.

Mr Mathra Dass, a senior BJP leader who was one of the petitioners, told TNS that though he and his family members were under constant threat from various quarters, he would not withdraw the writ petition. He said a section of the BJP leadership had also played an active role in the whole process.

On the other hand, some Akali leaders pointed out that SAD President Parkash Singh Badal should take disciplinary action against those who were involved in it.

They said Mr Badal and former Union Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal had been trying their best to keep the SAD-BJP alliance strong enough to meet the challenge of the Opposition in the coming elections but certain vested interests were trying to weaken it.


22 followers of Bhaniara guru arrested
Tension in Tarkhan Majra village
Tribune reporters

Ludhiana, October 3
In a crackdown on followers of the controversial Bhaniara Guru, the Jagraon and Ludhiana police have arrested at least 22 persons from different places as a preventive measure for maintaining law and order in the region.

While the Jagraon police has arrested 18 persons, the Ludhiana police arrested four persons in this regard. One of the persons arrested in Ludhiana is a resident of Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar, in whose house the banned Bhavsagar Samundar Granth was burnt by a mob. The incident had sparked off series of similar incidents as well as protests by the Bhaniara Guru’s followers and torching of birs of Guru Granth Sahib.

Mr Parmod Ban, officiating SSP, Ludhiana, said the persons have been arrested under Sections 107, 151 of the Cr Pc as there was threat of communal disturbance in the city. He said the police had raided some places but no copy of the banned granth was found.

Mr Balkar Singh Sandhu, SSP, Jagraon, informed that most of the 18 persons arrested belonged to the Raikot-Sudhar belt of the police district, which was prone to violence between followers and opponents of the Bhaniara Guru.

Unconfirmed reports said the police had arrested several followers as a preventive measure.

Fatehgarh Sahib

Strong resentment prevails among the residents of Tarkhan Majra and the surrounding areas over the alleged role of the police implicating two villagers in the case of burning of “Birs” in the village gurdwara. A large number of villagers today gathered at the gurdwara where the akhand path is going on in connection with the sacrilege of the “Birs” and criticised the role of the police. Even the women of the village defended the alleged culprits and said that it was injustice to them. They said that the two were the only bread-earners of their families and if they were not released their children would starve.

Mr Mandeep Singh, sarpanch of the village and general secretary of the district unit of SAD, was upset over the implication of the village residents. Talking to this correspondent, he said that this was not the handiwork of residents of the village. He said as the police had assured the demonstrators, who had blocked the GT Road, that the culprits would be arrested within three days, so just to save their skin the police had implicated the villagers in this case. He demanded an enquiry by an independent agency to probe the incident and the role of the police in implicating the innocent. He alleged that the police had implicated Rampal at the behest of Saravjit Singh, a tout of the police, due to political rivalry.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra also visited the village gurdwara and ctiticised the sacrilege of “Birs”. The families of the alleged culprits along with villagers and village panchayat also met him and pleaded about their innocence and alleged that all those who were well to do had been released and these two poor had been implicated.

Earlier tight security arrangements were made in the District Judicial Courts today as a large number of people had gathered to have a glimpse of the accused responsible for burning the “Birs”

As soon as the police brought both the accused, Balbir Singha, alias Bheeru, and Rampal Singh of Tarkhan Majra to the court complex and presented them in the court of Mr Vijay Singh, Senior Sub-Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib, the people raised slogans against the Baba Bhaniara. The accused were provided security apprehending threat to their lives.

Mr Harpreet Singh, SHO, Sirhind, pleaded for their police remand as the police had yet to recover more banned literature, photographs and had to arrest more culprits involved in this case and the main culprit Baba Bhaniara, the judge remanded them to police custody up to October 8. No lawyer appeared for the alleged culprits.


Three Bhaniara followers held
Tribune News Service

Noormahal (Jalandhar), October 3
The police has arrested three persons and seized a copy of controversial, “Bhavsagar Samundar Granth”, authored by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara from one of them — a widow-hailing from Uppal Jagir village near here today.

The woman, from whose custody the book was recovered, has been identified as Debo a farm labourer.

After getting a tip off, a police party headed by an SP and Nurmahal SHO Kashmira Singh conducted a raid on the house of Debo and arrested her along with Mohinder Pal, alias Ghuggi, and Chhinder Singh, both residents of nearby Sarhali village, besides recovering the book, concealed in a trunk by the widow.


Police remand for Baba till Oct 8
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 3
Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, the main accused responsible for the sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib was today produced in the court of Mr Vijay Singh, Senior Sub Judge, Fatehgarh Sahib by the local police.

The judge remanded him in police custody till October 8. Advocates led by Mr Amardeep Singh Dhami, Narinder Singh Tiwana and J.S. Grewal, raised slogans and tried to manhandle him but the police rescued him. A large number of people had gathered outside the court and raised slogans against him.

Mr H.S. Saran, SSP, said Baba Bhaniara was brought from Anandpur Sahib as the district police had booked him under Section 120B of the IPC. He said the police was yet to recover objectionable literature from him and had to make more arrests of his followers, whom he had instructed for the sacrilege of the holy book. He said the police was yet to locate those printing presses from where he got his literature printed.

The SSP said 17 more followers of the Baba had been arrested under Sections 107, 151 of the Cr PC as preventive measure apprehending threat to their lives.


Strike against sacrilege of ‘Birs’
Tribune reporters

Kapurthala, October 3
Members of the District Bar Association here today observed a strike in protest against the recent incidents of the sacrilege.

The town residents observed a half-day bandh to protest against the incidents. Commercial establishments remained closed.

A large number of Sikh youth activists, Akali workers and local residents took out a protest march in the town and staged a dharna near Sainik Rest House on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road and blocked the vehicular traffic for an hour. They submitted a memorandum to Mr Vivek Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner.

AMRITSAR: Activists of the Panthic Morcha today blocked traffic at Hall Gate here for more than an hour in protest against sacrilege incidents reported from various parts of the state. They sought resignation from Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, for the alleged failure of the Punjab Government to safeguard the holy book.

The leader of the morcha, who led the protest march, included Mr Onkar Singh Arora, district president of the SHSAD and executive member of the SGPC, Bhai Manjit Singh, vice-president, SHSAD, Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Mr Jasbir Singh Ghumman, spokesman for the morcha.


Sacrilege: SGPC to form probe panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 3
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will constitute a fact-finding committee to probe the torching of the holy Guru Granth Sahib in different parts of the state.

Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, secretary of the SGPC, has said that the services of the task force of the committee were also being enlisted to catch miscreants who burnt the holy ‘birs’. He urged the Sikh sangat to form local committees and safeguard Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr Bachan said the managements of various historic gurdwaras should take a decision to hand over the shrines to the SGPC so that the holy ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib could be safeguarded properly. He said there were numerous historic gurdwaras which were not under the direct control of the SGPC.


Tarlochan writes to envoys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
Disturbed at the growing incidents of assault on Sikhs, both in Australia and New Zealand, the vice-chairman of the National Minorities Commission, Mr Tarlochan Singh, has in separate letters to the High Commissioners of the two countries in New Delhi urged them to approach their respective governments to ensure the safety of Sikhs.

Sikhs, according to reports, are being targeted for hate crime following terrorist attacks in the USA on September 11. They are being mistaken for Arabs or Muslims because of their turbans and beards.

According to reports reaching here, there have been a number of incidents of intimidation and abuse in New Zealand where Sikhs were being looked upon with suspicion. In one case an attempt was made to run over a Sikh pedestrian in Auckland city.

In Australia, the problem started after a daily carried a picture of a Sikh in handcuffs declaring it to be the first arrest after the terrorist attacks. A subsequent inconsequential clarification by the newspaper was not enough to prevent public outrage against the community. In New South Wales, a 24-hour hotline to assist Sikhs in distress has been started.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said he had been receiving reports, telephone calls and messages from Sikhs in distress from down under over the past few days and was feeling disturbed.

“I know these are cases of mistaken identity. The Sikhs were very well known to people of both New Zealand and Australia as they had fought in the World Wars. Sikhs have settled in Australia and New Zealand for a long time.

“I, therefore, request you to approach your government to issue strict instructions for the safety of the Sikhs and also to use the media extensively for educating people about their separate religious identity,” Mr Tarlochan Singh said in his letters to the High Commissioners.


9000 students await roll numbers

Patiala, October 3
As many as 9000 students due to appear for the forthcoming BA supplementary examination of Punjabi University starting from October 18 face an uncertain future as the varsity authorities are still to start work on the conduct of the examination due to the refusal by certain staff members to do computerised programming of the cut list of the candidates.

The varsity is still to initiate work on the cut list of candidates who failed in one paper in the annual examination and are being given another chance to clear it. The cut list the examination along with the date sheet has to be despatched to the various examination centres and the roll numbers to the candidates.

According to sources, the problem started last week when the System Analyst of the University Computer Centre, refused to do programming work associated with the supplementary examination. The sources said following this the Examination branch informed the university Vice-Chancellor.

Deputy Registrar, Examinations B.D. Verma when contacted said he did not know why the varsity computer centre had not started work on programming of candidates' lists and despatch of roll numbers adding it was a separate department. He said senior authorities had, however, been briefed about the situation. It would not be possible to do the process work manually at this stage and despatch of roll numbers to the candidates could be delayed, he added.

Varsity computer centre Deputy Director Dr J.S. Juneja said workload distribution among the staff members had led to the problem. When asked why a System Analyst had refused to do the work, he said he was burdened with excess work. He said the department was also suffering from lack of requisite manpower.

The sources, however, said the problem was not limited to lack of manpower alone. They said the varsity had also suffered as earlier programmes related to examination work had been deliberately deleted by an employee earlier. They said due to this entire programming had to be done afresh.

The sources said the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, held a meeting on the issue today to sort out the problem. They said another staff member who was presently working in the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology on the campus had been asked to do the necessary programming.

The Vice-Chancellor was, however, not available for comments.


13 sarpanches defect to SAD
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 3
The state government will spend an additional sum of Rs 50 crore on the development of the border areas of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur. This was stated today by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal after the inauguration of a modern bus stand at Zira built by Markfed at an estimated cost of Rs 2.23 crore.

In today’s “sangat darshan” programme, 13 sarpanches belonging to the Congress and the SHSAD joined the ruling SAD in the presence of Mr Badal, who presented “siropas” to them.

Mr Badal said a major project to provide potable drinking water in the area has been drafted and the proposal in this regard had been sent to NABARD for approval. He said 50,000 acres of land in rural areas was at the disposal of the state government but due to the erroneous policies of Congress government, it could not be allotted to landless peasants. He said the land would soon be allotted to farmers on easy installments. The rate of land for peasants belonging to the general category would be Rs 7,000 per acre and for farmers belonging to the SC/ST category, it would be Rs 6,000.

Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Irrigation Minister, while welcoming the defectors, said farmers having land holdings across the fence along the zero line of Indo-Pak border had been given compensation to the tune of Rs 3,000 per acre.

Mr Hari Singh Zira, chairman, PSTC, Mr Kuldip Singh, member, SGPC, Mr Sarbjit Singh, chairman, Market Committee, and Mr Mohan Singh, besides several senior Akali leaders and officials, were also present on the occasion.

Markfed, which has constructed the Zira bus stands has also been assigned the job constructing three other modern bus stands as deposit work on behalf of the Transport Department.

In all Rs 17 crore would be spent on the construction of bus stands at Ferozepore, Moga and Muktsar. The construction of these bus stand would be completed by next month, whereas work on a bus stand at Ropar is likely to start after completing the formalities of requisition of the land.

According to sources, the job of building a modern bus stand at Amritsar at an estimated cost of Rs 12 crore has also been assigned to Markfed and the construction work for the same is likely to start by the end of November.


Poor ‘to pay’ 20 pc cost of encroached land
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 3
The Punjab Government will charge 20 per cent of the total cost of the land encroached upon by the weaker sections of the society to rehabilitate them. The amount will be charged in five equal instalments This was stated by the Punjab Agricultural Minister, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, while laying the foundation stone of a middle school building at the local Sanjay Nagar basti last evening.

In a press note issued here today, the minister categorically denied that the pension of any handicapped person had been stopped in the state. He said the government was granting pensions to more than two lakh such beneficiaries every year and over eight lakh persons of different categories were availing of this facility in the state, whereas only two lakh persons were getting pensions in the previous Congress regime.

The minister said the present government had also decided to give 100 units of power free of cost to the Dalit families on a regular basis. The orders in this regard had been issued to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

He distributed 40 pension cards to the beneficiaries on the occasion. He also announced a grant of Rs 2.50 lakh each to the primary school and dharamsala buildings in the basti. Later addressing a social function at Jeewan Nagar here, he also announced another grant of Rs 2 lakh for the maintenance of government Middle School and a dharamsala building in the area.


Posts source of corruption: panel
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 3
The National Consumer Awareness Group, Muktsar, has said that the octroi posts throughout the state have become a source of corruption. Therefore, the state government should put up its case in the high court convincingly so that the stay order on the abolition of octroi should be withdrawn.

Mr Sham Lal Goyal, district president of the group, in letters written to the Punjab Chief Minister, Punjab Minister for Local Bodies and Advocate-General of Punjab has said that the octroi posts which are being run by the respective municipal councils do not collect much revenue as the traders, in connivance with the municipal councils employees, evade paying octroi.

He said octroi was introduced so that the municipal councils could earn some income which could be used for the development of the towns. He added that when octroi was introduced, about 85 per cent of the income was spent on development works and the rest was used to pay the salaries of the employees of the department. He said at present a major part of the income from octroi was spent for paying the salaries of the employees.

Mr Goyal said the situation in the town where the collection of octroi was done on a contract basis was even worse. He said contracts were given to the relatives of the officials of the municipal councils.

He said the octroi posts had been abolished in various states, adding that the action had proved successful. Therefore, it should be tried in Punjab also. He said those who had obtained a stay on the abolition of octroi in the state were influenced by some vested interests.


BJP workers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 3
At least 200 BJP workers today blocked traffic on the Nangal-Chandigarh road, near Bhanoopli, for about an hour to protest against the alleged police inaction in a case involving Manohar Lal, a Dalit of Daroli village. The BJP workers, which included Dalit sarpanches of 10 villages of the Nangal constituency, sat on a dharna on the road.

Mr Parminder Sharma, president of the rural wing of the BJP (Nangal) while addressing the rally accused the police authorities of shielding the sarpanch of Daroli village who allegedly instigated his associates to demolish the house of Manohar Lal.

Manohar Lal had started construction on a piece of land in the village. When he started the construction none of the panchayat officials objected to it. However, when the building was nearing completion, a section of panches belonging to the opposition parties demolished his building. They also allegedly beat up and used derogatory language against Manohar Lal.

An FIR was registered on the complaint of the victim. The BJP workers also alleged that the sarpanch of Daroli village was booked for non-bailable offence and it was unfortunate that he had not been arrested. They also threatened to intensify their agitation if action was not taken against the culprits. The SSP here Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said an inquiry into the case was being conducted by the IG (Crime) and the action could be taken only after the submission of the report.

The congressmen had earlier alleged that the sarpanch had been booked in a false case at the behest of ruling party. They have also alleged that the building of Manohar Lal, was demolished as it was being brought up on the encroached land of the panchayat.

Mr Parminder Sharma, has, however, alleged that Manohar Lal, was being victimised. The land on which he was bringing up his building was in his name and the court had earlier issued a writ in his favour, he said.


Telecom Dept under fire
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

THE functioning of the Telecom Department has come under severe criticism due to non-issuance of telephone connections to applicants for over 18 months since Mr Gel Chand assumed charge as General Manager of the Pathankot circle.

The “efficiency” of the department in the matter of connections to applicants has caused a great loss to the businessmen in particular.

The department in order to save its skin and to avoid public anger has started putting the blame on the local Municipal Council with the excuse that the council has been creating obstacles in the laying of underground cables. But the civic council chief, Mr Satish Mahajan, when contacted, said the council had been providing full cooperation to the department but the latter to cover up its own weaknesses had been involving the council in a controversy which it has nothing to do with. The council had never objected to digging for laying cables, he added.

Several times, phone applicants held demonstrations against the department for what they termed as dilly-dallying in the release of connections.

Mr Chander Shekhar, general secretary of the CITU state unit, stated that owing to the policies of the Akali-BJP government, loan amounts taken from the centre had increased from Rs 18000 crore to Rs 30000 crore.

The union leader said Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and Irrigation Minister Janmeja Singh had been making hollow claims about the release of heavy sums for various projects to generate more power and strengthen the irrigation system. He said two Prime Ministers had announced early construction of the Shahpur Kandi project during the last six years but nothing had been done to start work on the project.

Mr Shekhar urged the state government to halt the recovery of dues from retrenched workers of the Ranjit Sagar dam project and provide employment to next of kin of the deceased employees at the earliest.

* * *

Resentment prevails among thousands of residents of villages situated on and across the Ravi due to dismantling of a pontoon bridge laid during the rainy season.

The pontoon bridge was put up after efforts were made by the Gurdaspur MP, Mr Vinod Khanna, to fulfil his campaign promise of constructing a bridge on the Ravi river to link scores of villages.

The people have been facing great difficulty in the absence of a bridge for 50 years in crossing the river, particularly during floods.

The boats provided by the district administration after removal of the pontoon bridge are insufficient. Those given the contract for moving people from one end of the river to another have been fleecing passengers. They charge Rs 10 and Rs 50 for a scooter and a car respectively.

* * *

A special drive launched to regularise traffic in the city has become a nuisance for two-wheelers. The police has banned parking of two-wheelers on roadsides and in the bazars causing inconvenience to shopkeepers as well as customers.

Mr Indu Bhatia, PPCC Joint Secretary, has urged the SP (City) to lift the ban imposed on the parking of scooters in bazars and main roads whereas there has been no check over the parking of military vehicles on roads which cause a problem for smooth traffic.

Mr Bhatia said the need was to regularise traffic and not impose a ban on two-wheelers, which seldom create a nuisance.


Trader killed in J&K cremated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 3
Naresh Kapoor, a cloth merchant who was killed in terrorist attack on the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly on October 1, was cremated here today. He is survived by his wife, a son and two daughters.

The deceased was the brother of Mr Ramesh Kapoor, finance secretary of Sri Durgiana Committee.

Several social and religious organisations and market associations kept their establishments closed in protest against terrorist attacks.


AISSF to observe ‘shaheedi divas’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 3
The All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF) will observe “shaheedi divas” on October 9 at Akal Takht. It will be dedicated to Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha, who were hanged in the General Vaidya murder case.

Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, convener of the federation, said the Jathedar of Akal Takht would administer an oath on that day to federation activists who would be prepared to lay down their lives to protect Guru Granth Sahib from anti-social elements. Such activists of the federation would be called “marjiwaras”, he added.


Farmers shifting paddy to Khanna
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 3
The ‘smooth procurement’ claims of the state government have come under cloud as due to the non-procurement of paddy farmers from Ludhiana and several markets of the Doaba belt today headed towards Khanna grain market, where they expect early procurement.

The exodus of farmers may, however, cause procurement problems at Khanna as last year due to downloading of produce from several parts of the state, the market was filled to the brim and heaps of paddy could be seen piled up on the GT Road outside the market. The government had then assured that in future small and medium markets would have smooth procurement but the situation unlikely to improve.

A large number of farmers, riding their tractor-trailers loaded with paddy, and led by some political leaders met this correspondent in Ludhiana on their way to Khanna. Most of them belonged to the Phillaur-Partappura belt of Jalandhar district. They claimed that they had waited for the procurement agencies in different markets all these days but as their produce was not bought, they were heading towards Khanna.

Mukhtiar Singh, said initially only one or two farmers were going to Khanna market but others too decided to follow the suit today as they were encouraged by reports of early procurement at Khanna. The farmers said while the procurement agencies in the Doaba regime had rejected their produce citing high moisture content. Doaba belt, procurement agencies at Khanna were buying the same ‘rejected’ produce. They were also encouraged by a group of arhtiyas who visited several markets in the Doaba region a few days ago and urged the farmers to bring their produce to Khanna where they would get about Rs 560 per quintal.

Even though the procurement began on September 21 and the government started making tall claims regarding the farmers in these areas were being allegedly harassed by the agencies. As the agencies were not lifting the produce citing high moisture content and discolouration, the farmers were ‘forced’ to sell the paddy at less than Rs 500 per quintal.


Monitoring procurement on computers
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
Procurement of paddy has started in the district and for the first time the process is being monitored on computers. Subdivisional and block offices and important procurement centres have been linked through the Internet and e-mail to provide the necessary information to the district administration.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said all arrangements had been completed for smooth procurement. At the district headquarters a computerised management information system had been developed to monitor the arrival, procurement, lifting and storage of paddy. A data base on the staff on procurement duty, including their addresses, had been created. Centrewise grievance committees comprising representatives of arhtiyas’ associations and kisan unions, officials of the procurement agencies and prominent persons of the area had also been constituted. The relevant particulars about the members had been fed into computers. He said the administration would be able to get the required information from any centre or agency at the click of the mouse.

He said the district hoped to procure 4.56 lakh MT of paddy during this season against 4.02 lakh MT last year. Out of the total expected procurement, 1.12 lakh MT would be purchased by the FCI, 90,000 MT by Markfed, 86,000 MT by the Punjab Warehousing Corporation, 85,000 MT by Punsup, 54,000 MT by the Food and Civil Supplies Department and 32,000 MT by Punjab Agro.

He said it would be ensured that the farmers were given payment in accordance with government instructions. No delay in this regard would be permitted.

The Deputy Commissioner said seminars at the block level had been organised in the district to educate farmers in the proper harvesting of paddy. They had been asked to bring dry and clean paddy to the mandis. The operators of combine harvesters were being advised to use the machines only during the day as the harvesting of paddy in the evening increased its moisture content.


FCI not meeting procurement target
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 3
Although 1,58,111 metric tonnes of paddy have been procured in various purchase centres of the district till yesterday, the Food Corporation of India (FCI) has failed to meet its procurement target.

Official sources said the FCI was required to purchase 34 per cent of the total paddy which would arrive in markets of the district but it could procure only about 22 per cent.

Sources said of the total 1,58,111 metric tonnes of paddy which had been procured in the grain markets and purchase centres of the district, the FCI could procure only 34,791 metric tonnes up to yesterday.

Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, all arrangements for the smooth procurement of paddy had been made.


Licences of 5 commission agents cancelled
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 3
The district administration has cancelled the licences of five commission agents for committing various irregularities in the purchase of paddy in the district. They include Jaildar Trading Company and Lakhvir Chand and Sons, Sadiq, Gurtej Singh and Ajay Trading Company, Mehmuana, and Tehaldas Naresh Kumar, Kotkapura. A show-cause notice has also been served on Bansal Trading Company, Sadiq, in this connection.

This was stated by Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of the officers of different agencies here today. The meeting was held to review the paddy procurement in the district. Mr Prasad claimed that the district had achieved third position in the state by procuring 3.74 lakh metric tonnes of produce till yesterday.


211 kg of poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 3
The district police has seized 211 kg of poppy husk from a place near Kotha Guru village and arrested a man in this connection.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said in a press note issued here today that a police party on patrol arrested Dara Singh of Kotha Guru village and seized the poppy husk from his possession. A case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against him at Dyalpura police station.

During interrogation, Dara Singh admitted that for the past two and a half years he was involved in the smuggling of poppy husk. He said he used to buy poppy husk from Sanghriya town of Rajasthan and sell it in villages of the district.

Dr Jain said Dara Singh was already facing trial in similar cases registered at Nahianwala police station. He said the police had seized 20 quintals of poppy husk from the jeep of Dara Singh in April last year, but he had fled from the spot. Dr Jain said further interrogation of the culprit could reveal more information about the smuggling of narcotics and enable the police to nab more such culprits.

The police also arrested Rakha Ram of Talwandi Sabo, wanted in 30 criminal cases registered against him at various police stations of the district, for his alleged involvement in “satta” business and seized Rs 510 from his possession. A case under Section 13 of the Gabling Act has been registered at the Sadar police station.

Dr Jain said Rakha Ram was wanted in 3 cases under the NDPS Act, one case under the Excise Act and 25 cases under the Gambling Act.

The district police also nabbed three persons under the Gambling Act and seized Rs 470 from them. The arrested have been identified as Kaka Singh and Buta Singh, residents of Talwandi Sabo, and Gurmail Singh of Kalianwali village. Three cases under the Gambling Act have been registered against them.


Two arrested on charge of abduction
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 3
The Dhuri police has arrested Amrik Singh of Bhalwan village and Rajdip Singh of Farwahi village, who were allegedly involved in the abduction of Tejpal Singh (14), a son of Mr Bikar Singh, a teacher. The boy was abducted in the last week of August this year. Later, the abductors released the boy after receiving a ransom of Rs 4 lakh.

Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, Sangrur, said here today that during a nakabandhi, the Dhuri police intercepted a Tata Sumo. There were two persons in the vehicle, Amrik Singh and Rajdip Singh. During search, the police recovered a bag containing Rs 2 lakh from Rajdip Singh and a .12-bore pistol along with three live cartridges from Amrik Singh.

The SSP claimed that during interrogation, both confessed that they, along with Ranjit Singh of Malerkotla and Baldev Singh of Balwan village, had abducted Tejpal Singh from near Kuthala village and released him after getting Rs 4 lakh from his father. Baldev Singh and Ranjit Singh were still at large, he added.

Mr Aulakh said Mr Bikar Singh was a teacher posted at Government Senior Secondary School, Kuthala village. His son, Tejpal Singh, had been abducted by the occupants of the Tata Sumo on pistolpoint when he was returning to his village, Farwahi, from the school. On the same day, the abductors demanded Rs 15 lakh on phone as ransom from Mr Bikar Singh. But finally, the deal was settled for Rs 4 lakh which had been paid to the abductors by Mr Bikar Singh.

Mr Aulakh said the case took a new turn when Mr Bikar Singh identified the Tata Sumo and one of the abductors as Rajdip Singh of Farwahi village.


Woman raped, murdered
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 3
In a gruesome incident, a 24-year-old woman, who had been married for four years, was allegedly raped and murdered by a friend of her husband, who inflicted 20 stab injuries on her neck, chest and abdomen around midnight yesterday.

Police sources said the woman, Sonia, who was a resident of Rose Colony near the old octroi post on the Patiala-Rajpura road, was raped and murdered by her husband’s friend Harish Walia.

The sources said one neighbour of the woman saw some blood coming out of the house at around 1 a.m. following which she raised the alarm. According to the neighbour, earlier she had seen a black Vespa scooter parked outside the house and that the scooter-borne man had come to the locality at around mid-night.

The assailant has been linked to the crime through the scooter, according to the police as Harish also owns a black scooter. Moreover, the deceased’s husband — Parveen Kumar — who is the main complainant in the case, has also named Harish. He has said Harish used to come to his residence often. Parveen Kumar was working at a local transport company office when the crime took place.

The police said it had tried to contact Harish, but his whereabouts were not known. It is still to find out the reason why such a gruesome crime was committed. The police is also investigating as to why the accused had such an easy entry into his friend’s house and why he had come there at midnight. Sources said there could be other aspects to the crime also as the accused was a friend of the husband of the deceased. Police sources said Harish had also consumed liquor with Sonia’s husband one day prior to the crime.

Meanwhile, Dr S.S. Oberoi of the Department of Forensic Medicine in Government Rajindra Hospital, conducted post-mortem on Sonia today. He said Sonia had been inflicted around 15 to 20 injuries on the neck, chest and abdomen by a sharp-edged weapon. He said the post-mortem also confirmed that the victim had sexual intercourse before she was killed. He said the swabs had been sent for a chemical examination.


VC’s assurance to management school
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 3
The Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, today said the demands raised by the Punjab School of Management Studies would certainly get his full attention and support.

Addressing the new batch of MBAs in the Arts Auditorium of the university, Professor Pal assured the demands raised by Dr K.C. Singhal, Head, Punjab School of Management, regarding the construction of a management bhavan and established of a Business Policy Research Centre would be looked into.

Professor Singhal also apprised the Pro-Vice-Chancellor about growth of the school in terms of newly introduced programmes like MBA (IB) and MBA (IT), teaching faculty, infrastructure facilities like computer laboratories and the modern syllabi.

Prof B.S. Bhatia, a faculty member of the PSMS, and Dr Tarlok Singh Anand, Dean, Academic Affairs, were also present on the occasion.


288 schoolchildren participate in contests
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 3
As many as 288 students from 13 Saravhitkari Vidya Mandir of the Patiala division participated in a three-day “Kala Parav”, which concluded at Senior Secondary Saravhitkari Vidya Mandir, here today.

Based on the aim to groom the talent of the youngsters, the function was inaugurated by Mr Jagjit Singh Dalli, president, Dera Bassi Municipal Council, while Mr Gurnam Singh Saini, a social servant, was the chief guest on the concluding day.

Ms Anita Balli, Principal said 15 contests, including one-act play, Bhagavadgita salok recitation, rangoli, painting, handwriting, essay writting, declamation contest, mehandi, skipping, group dance, poem recitation and Kabar se Jugar, were organised.


Minister honours schoolchildren
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 3
To improve Indian education standard, an urgent change in education system is required. Vocational and technical education should be implemented in almost every school, said Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance and Planning Minister, while addressing a gathering at the 6th annual prize distribution function of Deepmala Public School, here today. He said the schools in the rural areas of the state should provide quality education so that their students could compete with the student of schools in cities.

He presented mementoes to 125 students. He also inaugurated the new school building at Shakti Nagar Colony.

Earlier, Ms Anita Mittal read out the school annual report and children were given the Rattan Chand Memorial Cash award. The school’s Chairperson, Ms Deepmala, thanked the chief guest and the parents of the students.

An impressive cultural programme was presented by students. Among others who were present at the function were Mr P.S. Johal, SDM, Mr J.S. Khaira, DSP, Mr Jagjit Singh Dalli, president, Municipal Council, and Mr Kewal Garg, president, Dera Bassi Industrial Association.


Rashtriya Gaurav Award for engineer
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 3
Mr Rajbir Jindal, a city-based engineer and fellow of the Institute of Engineers, has been awarded the Rashtriya Gaurav Award by the International Institute of Success Awareness for his outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of engineering.

He has also been declared Engineer of the millennium. The award was presented at a function presided over by a former Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Rabi Ray, in New Delhi. Mr Jindal had earlier received the Man of the Achievement award in 1999.

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