Saturday, October 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Afghan developments to affect India: Gujral
Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, October 5
Former Prime Minister of India I.K. Gujral said that unless the Taliban are ousted and their sources of supplies and manpower were cut they would continue to disturb peace of the world especially the sub-continent. Mr Gujral speaking on “Recent Developments in the Region and India’s Concern” pointed out that Taliban were trained and indoctrinated in madrassas of Pakistan run by the ISI to forment Pan-Jehadism in the world.

Targeted countries on the list of Taliban and fundamentalists were Muslim countries. It would be a fallacy to believe that Taliban were fighting for Islam. Mr Gujral added that on the contrary they were destabilising the Islamic states in their bid to usher in religious orthodoxy of their choice.

Having Narcoterrorism he felt was funding their vicious their campaigns. These countries include Algeria, Chechnya, Central Asia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines and many more such countries. The so-called Jehadis were roping in disgruntled elements in such countries to spread the tide of Jehad.

Citing example of six neighbouring countries of Afghanistan, Mr Gujral said that these were resisting to fight back the Taliban in their region. Mr Gujral who visited several central Asian countries a week before the terrorist attacks in the USA, said that the six countries had formed Shanghai forum of nations including Russia, China, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrghyzstan and Tajikistan. He said that such frontline countries could beat back effectively the Taliban while supporting the Northern Alliance. The Northern Alliance now was leading the attack to dethrone the Taliban regime in Afghanistan.

Commenting on Pakistan President General Musharraf volte face under American pressure on Taliban, he said that though it was very difficult to comprehend at this juncture how much Pakistan could withstand the Jehadis in his own country. He added that now it was a fact known to everybody that Pakistan-based terrorist organisations had no intention of diluting onslaught on Kashmir and the recent attack on Jammu and Kashmir assembly had once again shown that these groups would continue to disturb our peace. He strongly advocated that the world’s civilised nations which had come together in the wake of attack on New York and Washington must ensure total rout of Taliban for stability of entire world.

Mr Gujral raised many issues, of impact on South Asia and Central Asia in case war break out over Afghanistan. It is difficult to visualise the post-war scenario in Afghanistan and in the sub-continent. Mr Gujral felt that he could not imagine if this war would drag on as in the case of Soviet intervention in Afghanistan or whether it would be brief.

The former Prime Minister said that any action in Afghanistan and its fallout would transform the post-cold war scenario in the region. The moot point would be to see change in the stance of Pakistan vis-a-vis India.

Mr Gujral said that the entire world now was faced with formidable challenges that would surely determine the faith of this century. Mr Gujral talking about, in the context of India’s future said that how could we preserve our multi-ethnic and multi-religious society within the secular and democratic framework since we were in close proximity of the war theatre. He urged the people to respond to this serious crisis to protect unity and integrity of the country. The government can only do its bit but it was people of the country which can withstand pressures to destabilise the country. He felt that the secular unity of a nation was of paramount importance as it was must for our survival and was part of our security.

Mr Gujral emphasised the need for vigilance both internal and external to fight terrorism and anti-national forces.

Dwelling on the history of Afghanistan Mr Gujral pointed out that with the assassination of Nahir Shah and the emergence of Ahmed Shah Durrani during the early 18th century, it was valour of Punjabis under the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and Khalsa soldiers proved their mettle. He added that the story of Afghan wars and deportation of Doast Mohammad in 1840 were well known to everyone. During his asylum in Punjab during the period by the Lahore Darbar and as his homage he presented the Koh-I-Noor to Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Whatever happened in Afghanistan, sooner or later influences the geo-strategic realities of South Asia. Overthrow of the Daud regime in Afghanistan extended the influence of Soviet Union in the region that reinforced Indian security that was confronted with belligerent Pakistan enjoying the support of the USA and China.

Mr Gujral revealed that although India was very unhappy over the Soviet Union’s intrusion into Afghanistan to forestall perceived anti-Iran war by the USA though India never publicly opposed the Russian intervention. In the meanwhile the American strategy was to engage Soviet Union through an innovative proxy war with the help of locally mobilised tribes in Afghanistan with the active participation of Pakistan. At that point he added that India was on the horns of a cruel dilemma.

Mr Gujral added that the massive arms supply to Pakistan with large financial support hit our security and as India could not afford to be left alone without any alternative source of arms supply which made India to develop friendship with Moscow.

Later, VC of the university, Dr SP Singh honoured Mr IK Gujral and Mr KS Duggal, member of Parliament.


Man with revolver held ahead of Gujral visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
Jasbir Singh, a man with no criminal record, was arrested hours before the arrival of former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral along with Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and other VIPs at the holy city here today.

A revolver of .315 bore and live cartridges were recovered from the miscreant after a tip off about his whereabout near the Golden Temple premises just before the VVIPs’ visit. Consequently, the former Prime Minister’s itinerary, including his visit to the Golden Temple, was delayed by more than an hour.

Mr Gujral laid the foundation for a four-storeyed art and culture centre to be built at a cost of Rs 1.8 crore in an area of 1350 square yards in the presence of the Chief Minister and Rajya Sabha member and noted Punjabi writer Kartar Singh Duggal.

The Chief Minister thanked the former PM for promoting major projects in Punjab like according international status to the airport at Amritsar.

Mr Duggal announced a grant of Rs 1.8 crore for the cultural centre. In his address, he regretted the “cannibalisation of Punjabi culture like bhangra” by pop artistes, producers and money-makers. He said the cultural project, “Heritage Village”, in SAS Nagar was his dream project.


SGPC meeting called for Oct 8
Ban on Dera Bhaniara activities likely
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 5
An emergency meeting of Sikh High Priests, the executive committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee SGPC) and the Dharm Prachar Committee has been convened for October 8 here. As per the Gurdwara Act, such meetings, which are rarely held, can be convened on a 72-hour notice.

According to sources, the crucial meeting may seek ban on the ‘anti-Panthic’ activities of Dera Bhaniara. Though the state government has already imposed a ban on the controversial “Bhawsagar Samunder Granth” authored by excommunicated Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara (now under arrest), yet many of his followers indulged in acts of sacrilege.

However, it will be extremely difficult for the joint meeting to take a clear stand against Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Senior Vice-President, Shiromani Akali Dal and Agriculture Minister, his son Kewal Singh Badal, Junior Vice-President, SGPC, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, a former Akali MP, senior leaders of the ruling and Opposition parties and senior police and judicial officers whose picture appear in the controversial granth. The meeting is likely to be attended by Mr Kewal Singh Badal in his capacity as Junior Vice-President of the SGPC.

The Opposition members of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and the Amritsar Akali Dal are likely to demand immediate resignation of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal as Cabinet Minister and Mr Kewal Singh Badal as Junior Vice-President, SGPC, due to their ‘established links’ with Baba Bhaniara. Mr Onkar Singh Arora, an executive member, said he would seek immediate dismissal of Mr Gurdev Singh and his son if they failed to tender their resignations. Mr Arora said he would also insist on summoning of the father-son duo at Akal Takht as they had not severed ties with the ‘excommunicated baba’, despite an edict issued by the Sikh High Priests.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Kewal Singh Badal has already written to Akal Takht that he is ready to face action as per the Sikh ‘maryada’ as he had ‘inadvertently’ participated at a function of Baba Bhaniara.

The emergency meeting may also take stringent measures for the protection of Guru Granth Sahib. A high-level probe may be ordered into the acts of sacrilege.

Some members, on condition of anonymity, said the role of Mr Buta Singh, a former Union Home Minister, may also come under scrutiny. Mr Buta Singh is said to be the one who helped Baba Bhaniara in setting up the dera.

The meeting may also demand bringing all historical gurdwaras directly under the SGPC for protection of the holy Granth Sahib.


Cases of sacrilege on the rise
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Fifteen cases of sacrilege in less than two months against only nine in the entire year last year may be worrying the Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party alliance in Punjab which is heading for Assembly elections in a few months time.

Intriguingly, 11 of these cases pertain to the desecration, torching or burning of Guru Granth Sahib. Last year, there was only one incident of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib while in another case, it was Nishan Sahib of a gurdwara which was removed.

Though most of the cases relate to Baba Piara Singh Bhuniara or his followers, yet a couple of cases have been reported from elsewhere in Punjab, including Muktsar, Barnala and Kapurthala also.

Before Baba Piara Singh Bhuniara case came into limelight, incidents of desecration of Guru Granth Sahib had been reported from Muktsar where on August 10, a case of burning of the holy book and also pictures of Gurus was reported. Eight days later, it was the turn of Barnala where at Pakho Kalan, a woman and her four sons torched the holy book.

The police officials maintain that since majority of cases have been reported from areas where the arrested Baba has the biggest following, a number of preventive steps have been taken. But these steps do not appear to be enough to prevent this dangerous trend from spreading as is evident from the increasing incidents of sacrilege.

Four cases of sacrilege were reported in August and the number went up to six in September and in first five days of the current month, five cases of sacrilege — all pertaining to desecration of Guru Granth Sahib — have already been registered in the state.

Three of the current month cases are from the police district of Barnala while the remaining two are from Fatehgarh Sahib.

Last month, there were three cases of sacrilege reported from Ropar district alone while Jalandhar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Kapurthala had one case each.

Since the Shiromani Akali Dal is the major partner in the ruling alliance, its failure to check the tide may cost it dearly in the coming Assembly elections. The SGPC chief and various other Sikh organisations have already made no secret of their pain over the handling of this sensitive issue by the state government.

While between 1994 and the end of 2000, a majority of cases of sacrilege registered in the state related to incidents like slaughter of cows, movement of beef or publication of books having comments hurting sentiments of one community or the other, the desecration of Guru Granth Sahib during an Akali regime is unprecedented in this state.

A look at the cases this year makes an interesting revelation. The first case was reported from Gurdaspur on January 20 over slaughter of a cow followed by detection of seven tins of beef in Batala on February 17.

On the same day, a case was registered after unparliamentary language was used for the holy book at Balachaur.

The first major provocative case was reported from Amritsar where “meat” was thrown into the langar of a gurdwara on February 24. Amritsar witnessed yet another unusual act of sacrilege when some derogatory slogans were found written on the wall of a church on March 6. The next day, a substantial quantity of beef was seized in Batala.

Amritsar was back in news on March 21 when the Koran was desecrated and “meat “ was thrown into a mosque. Six days later, a yellow printed pamphlet with anti-Islamic writings, was found on the steps of a mosque in Jalandhar. A case of desecration of the Koran was also reported from Moga on April 20.

Interestingly, in some cases of the holy book’s desecration, certain pages were torn. Such cases were reported from Taran Tarn (June 6), Kapurthala (September 10) and Ropar (September 30).

Even when militancy was at its peak, the cases of sacrilege were not that frequent and serious as in the past six weeks, remarked a senior police officer maintaining that almost all the incidents were directed against the majority community.


Sikh bodies hold protest march
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 5
Hundreds of activists of Sikh religious and political organisations participated in a protest march held here today against the recent acts of sacrilege in various parts of the state.

Members of Sikh gurdwaras, the Sukhmani Sewa Societies the Akhand Kirtani Jatha and the World Sikh Council, including women, assembled at Basti Sheikh Gurdwara and demanded strict action against the culprits. Shopkeepers and businessmen observed a complete bandh in all main bazars of the city as a march of solidarity with the protesters.

The march started from Gurdwara Basti Sheikh and moved through Jhandiawala Pir, Basti Adda, Jyoti Chowk, Rainak Bazar, Milap Chowk and Nehru Garden road before concluding at Gurdwara Central Town.

The protesters recited “Gurbani” during the march. They demanded that a case of murder be registered against Baba Piara Singh and his followers for sacrilege since the Supreme Court had ruled that the “bir” of Guru Granth Sahib while in the premises of a gurdwara, be treated as a living person.

They appealed to the lawyers not to fight the case of Baba Piara Singh as he had tried to create a wedge among people.


Students take out march against sacrilege
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 5
The news of burning of another ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib at Gharuan village yesterday worked like adding fuel to the fire for the already disturbed residents of the area. Students and staff of the local Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College held protest march against the burning of ‘birs’ and blocked the traffic in front of the District Administrative Complex. A five-member delegation of the staff and students presented a memorandum to the Additional Deputy Commissioner and demanded strict action against Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

The students distributed photocopies of the photographs of Akali leaders and officials who had visited Baba Bhaniara’s dera. The photographs had been published in a Punjabi daily of Chandigarh.

They raised slogans against the Government and the leaders shown in the photographs. Mr Harminder Singh, president of the AISSF, and presidents of various Youth Clubs have appealed to the public to observe a complete bandh in the district tomorrow on a call given by the various Sikh organisations.

Members of the local District Bar Association today abstained from court work and held a dharna in front of the judicial complex. Mr Jarnail Singh Cheema, president of the District Bar Association, said the Bar had decided to abstain from court work for two days in protest against the burning of ‘birs’ at Gharuan and in support of the bandh call given by the political parties and various religious institutions.

The Bar condemned the incidents and demanded stern action against the Baba. Mr Amardeep Singh Dharni, Mr J.S. Grewal, Mr N.S. Tiwana, all advocates, welcomed the statement of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, president of the SGPC, in which he had urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal to take action against the officials and politicians who had visited the dera of the Baba.

Meanwhile, the Panthic Morcha and Sant Samaj today started an Akhand Path at the gurdwara at Tarkhan Majra village where seven ‘birs’ of Guru Granth Sahib were burnt. Interestingly the bhog of Akhand Path for the burning of ‘birs’ was performed yesterday at the same gurdwara by the SGPC. Jathedar G.S. Tohra, former President of the SGPC, performed the rituals to start the Akhand Path at 10.30 a.m.

Mr Jaswant Singh Tann, district president of the SHSAD, Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA, Mr Jassa Singh Ahluwalia member, SGPC, Mr N.S. Tiwana, advocate, and members of the village panchayat accompanied him. A large number of people from the village and members of the Gurudwara Managing Committee participated in the ceremony. The bhog of the Akhand Path will be performed on October 7 in which top leadership of the Panthic Morcha and Sant Samaj will participate.


Tohra warns against dubious sants
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 5
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), has appealed to the Sikh sangat to follow the path shown by the Sikh Gurus and not to be misled by various dubious sants and babas who, he said, were acting against the principles of Sikhism. Mr Tohra was addressing a gathering at Gharuan village on the Kharar-Morinda road in Gurdwara Maliksar where a ‘bir’ of Guru Granth Sahib was burnt yesterday.

Mr Tohra came down heavily on such babas and said when their party came to power, strict action would be taken against them for working against the tenets of Sikhism and their properties would be impounded. He said the Sikhs today had abandoned the path shown by our Gurus and they were worshipping sants like God.


Police remand for Baba’s son till tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 5
Satnam Singh, a son of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, who was arrested by the Kharar police in connection with the desecration incident at Gharuan village on the Kharar-Morinda road yesterday, was produced before Mrs Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today. The court remanded him in police remand till October 7.

Mr Baljeet Singh Sahota, Assistant Public Prosecutor and Mr Atul Soni, ASI, who appeared in the court said more information was yet to be collected from the accused about others involved in the incident.

The Kharar police has registered a case under Sections 295, 427, 456, 452 and 454 of the IPC against Satnam Singh, Amarjit Singh, Gurnam Singh, Surmakh Singh and Soni.

Meanwhile Satnam Singh while talking to mediamen denied his involvement in the act of sacrilege at Gharuan village and said he respected Guru Granth Sahib as any other Sikh.


Bandh call by AIYA
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
The All-India Youth Association (AIYA) has given a call for Punjab bandh on October 6 in protest against the burning of holy “birs”.

Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president AIYA, said the state government was not taking adequate action against the culprits. The AIYA called for keeping all educational, business institutions, shops and other establishments closed as a mark of protest, he added.


7 cops sent to jail for illegal detention
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
A local court today dismissed the bail plea of seven police officials and two more accused of illegally detaining a resident of Buttar Kalan village in Amritsar district five months after he was shown to have been killed in an encounter, following which they were taken into custody and sent to jail.

Additional Sessions Judge Sabina today held the anticipatory bail application filed by the accused police officials, including two Inspectors, as infructuous as the challan had already been presented in the case. She also dismissed the regular bail application filed by the accused.

The accused, Inspector Dharam Singh, who was then SHO, Lopoke, Inspector Harbhajan Ram, who was then Additional SHO, Lopoke, SI Ram Lubhaya, who was then posted at Gagarbhana, ASIs Surinder Singh, Gurdev Singh and SI Amrik Singh, all three of whom were then ASIs at the Lopoke police station, ASI Bhupinder Singh, who was then posted at the Rataul police post in Tarn Taran, dismissed Head Constable Satbir Singh and Daljit, were all present in the court.

Complainant Kashmir Singh had filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1992 claiming that his son Harjit Singh was abducted by DSP Darshan Singh Mann and his police party on April 24, 1992 from the Thathian bus stand near Sathila College in Amritsar district and was detained at the Mall Mandi torture centre in Amritsar.

The court appointed a warrant officer to look into the complaint who raided the CIA Staff building Amritsar but the alleged detainee could not be found even though the petitioner had pointed out his son was in the CIA staff building. Based on the report of the warrant officer, the High Court directed the Sessions Judge to hold an inquiry.

The investigating agency after an inquiry into the case filed a challan against the police officials, charging them with arriving at a criminal conspiracy and indulging in abduction with intention to kill and filed the challan under Sections 120-B read with 364 and 302, IPC. Meanwhile the complainant, Kashmir Singh, also filed an affidavit through his counsel Brijinder Singh Sodhi claiming that the accused had been constantly threatening him.


New primary education plan extended to Punjab
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Punjab now comes under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan programme of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development with the Project Approval Board introducing District Elementary Education Plan in the state’s five districts and sanctioning Rs 25 crore for the purpose. The share of the state is Rs 47 lakh for the remaining part of 2001-02.

The Secretary for School Education, Mr R. S. Sandhu, told TNS that when the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan was introduced in the country in 1994, Punjab was left out. The programme already covers 2,198 districts in 18 states.

Punjab had proposed nine districts — Mansa, Muktsar, Bathinda, Sangrur, Faridkot, Ferozepur, Patiala, Moga and Amritsar — all having a low female literacy rate. The board had approved introduction of the programme during the current financial year in respect of five districts, namely Faridkot, Bathinda, Mansa, Moga and Muktsar. Plans for all districts were at the final stage.

Mr Sandhu said it was pointed out at the board meeting on September 18 that Punjab required special dispensation from the Centre as it was initially left out of the elementary education plan. The state had a large Scheduled Caste population with disproportionate growth in the number of habitation besides there being distortions in male-female literacy ratio. About 15 per cent of children between six years and 14 years were out of school and the drop-out rate was higher for males.

There were also distortions in the teacher-pupil ratio as well ranging from 1:22 to 1:55. Out of 100 children only 22 had completed secondary school.

The scheme would help build a strong infrastructure at the primary level of education taking care of all children in the 6-14 age group and would be applicable to the rural areas and urban slums. Special focus would be on girls, SC/ST children, low female literacy blocks, disabled and children in difficult situation. The thrust of Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan will be on all children in the 6-14 age group in schools, education guarantee centres and bridge courses by 2003, all children will complete five year primary education by 2007, eight years schooling by 2010.

The Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan is the Central Government’s new concept for universalisation of elementary education involving a holistic and convergent approach whereby all existing centrally sponsored schemes of elementary education, namely Operation Blackboard, teacher education, non-formal education, mid-day meal, Shiksha Kranti, education of disabled children and Prime Minister’s gramodaya yojna, etc get merged into it. The programme is financed by the World Bank.


No takers for Mahatma’s books
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
It is only two days since the state paid homage to Mahatma Gandhi but there seems to be no takers for as many as 90,000 books on him worth Rs 50 lakh which are lying in various stores of the Punjab State University Textbook Board since the past seven years.

The books, which include 20,000 copies of a book on the childhood of the Mahatma — “Panderan Varey Tak”, 50,000 copies of “Mahatma” and 20,000 copies of “Godri de Lal”, have no buyers despite attempts of the board to sell them and try to recover some of the money which has been blocked since their publication on the 125th birth anniversary of the Mahatma in 1994.

The board has now written letters to the DPI, Schools, and the DPI, Colleges, reminding them that they had then promised to purchase the books related to the Mahatma. Both heads have been asked to purchase books for various schools and college libraries. Sources said the board had only been able to sell a few thousand books related to the Mahatma in the past seven years. Punjabi writers said there was disinterest among the youth to buy books on the Mahatma as most of them in the state were more motivated to read books on martyrs like Bhagat Singh and Udham Singh which had good sales.

The board is reeling under a financial burden with books worth nearly Rs 1.5 crore lying dumped in its stores. Though the board met with some success recently by disposing of books meant for children, books regarding the Mahatma and textbooks related to syllabi which has long since been changed by the university, are a dead weight.

Efforts have been made by the board to clear its godowns of books meant for children. Board Chairman Madan Lal Hasija, who is also Director of the State Language Department, said meetings had been held in this regard with Deputy Commissioners of various districts and the board had been able to sell books worth Rs 6.25 lakh during the past month itself in Jalandhar, Moga, Ferozepore, Ludhiana and Nawanshahr. He said children’s books worth Rs 50 lakh were, however, still with the board. Dr Hasija said besides this, it had got a bulk order for two books each to 13,000 anganwadis in the state from the Social Security Department for Rs 5 lakh. He said the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats had also been roped in to place an order worth Rs 7 lakh for supply of books to department libraries across the state.

The sources said even though attempts were being made to dispose of the books accumulated with the board, the books on the Mahatma were still to be sold.


Ordinance on welfare fund for lawyers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
An Ordinance has been promulgated on setting up a welfare fund for advocates in Punjab. This is one of the major achievements of the Bar Council that goes to the polls on October 7 to elect a new chairman and vice-chairman.

For the Council’s top slots nominations are to be filed on October 6 and election, if required, would be held on October 7.

The Punjab Advocate-General, Mr H. S. Mattewal, who was unanimously elected chairman, has completed his two-year term. He is not a candidate now. He was to be Returning Officer, but has been advised rest. Consequently, he has expressed his inability to act as Returning Officer. In a letter to the Secretary of the Bar Council, he submitted that if the council so approved, Haryana’s Advocate-General, Mr Surya Kant, should be appointed Returning Officer for the election.

Meanwhile, Mr Mattewal told TNS that the welfare fund ordinance would go a long way to mitigate the problems of advocates. This was one of their long pending demands. Persistent efforts had now yielded results. As per the provisions of the ordinance, in the event of the death of an advocate, the family would be entitled to financial help. There are different slabs. For instance, advocates with five year standing would get Rs 1 lakh, with more than five years Rs 1.5 lakh and one with over 10 years standing Rs 2 lakh.

The fund also provides for group insurance, medical assistance, gratuity, financial assistance of bar associations, help to disabled advocates, legal heirs etc. Mr Mattewal said he had written to editors of all newspapers for upholding the council decision of not mentioning the names of advocates appearing in different cases as per Rule 36.


BJP national executive meeting on November 2
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 5
The first fortnight of November will be unusually hectic for the local administration as Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, and several Union Ministers and Chief Ministers of various states will visit the holy city twice on November 3 and November 13 in connection with the national executive meeting of the BJP and bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of the legendry Maharaja Ranjit Singh, respectively.

The national executive meeting of the BJP which was scheduled for July had to be postponed indefinitely due to several reasons. It is for the first time that the national meet of the BJP’s executive body is being held in Amritsar in the wake of the forthcoming Assembly elections. If both programmes are held on schedule, the Prime Minister will visit the holy city twice in a forthnight — a first for the city.

Senior BJP leader and Local Bodies Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, told The Tribune on telephone that the three-day national executive meeting of the BJP was likely to be held here from November 2. The Prime Minister might come on November 3 to participate in the meeting. Mr Tandon said Mr Vajpayee would also visit Amritsar again on November 13 to lay the foundation stone of a Rs 10 crore panorama being set up to mark the bicentenary celebrations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. Mr L.K. Advani, Union Home Minister, and Mr Jaswant Singh, Foreign Minister, would visit the city on November 11 and 12, respectively.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, Minorities Commission told The Tribune that the three-day function on the coronation ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh would also see participation of foreign dignitaries. He said the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would present the first “Punjab Award” to an eminent personality. The award carries Rs 25 lakh in cash, a shawal and a citation. It would be given annually to a renowned Punjabi who excels in any field.

However, Mr Tandon said the schedule for the national executive meeting was being finalised. For this hectic meetings of BJP functionaries and the administration were being held every day.

Sources said Amritsar had been chosen as the venue for the national meeting to strengthen the party where its base stood eroded after the formation of SAD-BJP government. After forming the government, the BJP could not fulfil most of the promises it made to the voters in its election manifesto. Moreover, the state BJP wants to use the influence of national leadership to get the party ticket for more of its candidates during the forthcoming elections. Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, state president of the BJP, had already announced that he would press upon the Shiromani Akali Dal to allocate at least eight more seats for BJP candidates. He had said there were many districts where not even a single candidate of the BJP was given the party ticket. The state BJP has already launched a number of programmes to woo the rural voters in Punjab. So much so the state leadership had visited the Golden Temple and Akal Takht to pay obeisance. The BJP leadership will leave no stone unturned to mobilise the voters.

Mr Badal will be camping in Amritsar for some days to finalise the programmers on Maharaja Ranjit Singh. After the success of the ‘sadbhavna rally’ held at Killianwali on September 25, the state government will mobilise the voters in this border district on November 13 when Mr Vajpayee will pay his visit.

The security personnel will remain on tenterhooks in the wake of the two major events to be held in the first fortnight of November. Security will have to be beefed up after the suicide attack on the Assembly in Jammu and Kashmir. There were reports that the terrorists across the border might step up their activities in the coming days due to heightened tension in the region.


Chohan for sovereign state
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 5
The Khalsa Raj Party (KRP) has decided to organise a state-level convention here on November 17 to create awareness among people regarding the formation on an independent sovereign state based on “Khalsa” ideology.

Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan, president, addressing a press conference here today alleged that the present SAD-BJP ruling alliance had failed to do anything for the uplift of the downtrodden. “Though the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has been claiming to be the sole leader of the Punjabis, yet he is least concerned about their welfare, which is evident from the fact that a common man can not get his work done without offering bribe to officials in all state government departments. Is this the concept of Khalsa Raj? questioned Mr Chohan.

Regarding geographical limits of the proposed sovereign state, Mr Chohan said. “The state will include whole of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Punjabi-speaking areas of Rajasthan. The main motive behind this move is to provide a corruption-free system to the society besides eliminating bureaucratic supremacy in deciding the fate of a common man.”

Elaborating further about his party’s role in the formation of such a sovereign state, he said the KRP would launch a state-wide decisive campaign against the misrule of previous governments at the district level. “We will organise a state-level convention of the party at Jalandhar on November 17 to highlight the misdeeds of the present Akali government and the need to form an independent model state as the Constitution of India had miserably failed to safeguard the interests of Punjab in the past 50 years. That is why the then Sikh leadership refused to accept the Constitution,” he added.


Mahila Cong to insist on 33 pc quota
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 5
The women cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee will demand 33 per cent ticket for women in the coming elections to the state Assembly. This was announced by Ms Gurkanwal Kaur, President, Mahila Congress, Punjab, while talking to mediapersons here last night.

She said more than 50 woman Congress workers had already applied the party ticket in these elections. Mrs Usha Meena, former MP and AICC observer, would visit Punjab to assess their candidature.

Ms Gurkanwal Kaur criticised the SAD-BJP rule and held it responsible for “atrocities” on women in Punjab. Rape and dowry cases were increasing day by day, she alleged. Corruption was all prevailing. People had to grease the palms of government employees and politicians to get work done.

She also alleged due to unscheduled power cuts, industrial growth and trade in the state had been affected. Thousands of industrial units had been closed, causing more unemployment.

She said the Congress was the only party which could provide corruption-free, stable and clean government.

Later, she presided over a function organised in connection with the installation of Ms Tarunjit Sethi as president of the District Mahila Congress, Hoshiarpur. Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, Mr Romesh Dogra, MLA, Mr Naresh Thakur, former minister, Chaudhary Ram Rattan, president, Mr Om Parkash Saini, Mr Kuldip Nanda, Mr Pawan Kumar Adia, all general secretaries of the DCC, and other local leaders participated.


PSEB to rescue of border residents
Anirudh Gupta

The performance of the Punjab State Electricity Board has been under bitter criticism both from urban as well as rural folk due to erratic power supply, rampant corruption and frequent breakdowns. But things are not as bad as they seem to be; there is a silver lining too.

This is evident from the fact that the PSEB men out here undertook the Herculean task of providing electric supply to far-flung villages along the border and the Hussainiwala checkpost through an innovative measure in which they even risked their lives.

The perilous task of laying new power lines was important in the wake of the fact that the existing 700m long 11 KV power supply cable laid around 40 years back, which ran along the bridge over the Sutlej, had worn out considerably and there were a lot of joints in it.

The position assumes alarming proportions during festivals and the supply had to be disconnected to safeguard against any fatal mishap.

The PSEB men laid cables by erecting towers on 13 pillars situated in the river Sutlej over which the train used to pass en route Lahore, and the water there was 150 feet deep. The PSEB men took assistance of the Army as they had to ferry material and equipment in boats and later used ladders to reach the pillars. “We were likely to embrace death in case of slightest inattention”, asserts one of the PSEB workers.

According to Mr Jagmohan Seth, SE, thousands will benefit by this newly-laid power transmission line. “We would try to ensure undisturbed electricity supply in these border areas so that no anti-national element can use darkness as cover for any sinister design”, added Mr Seth. He said the scrap material lying unused with the board has been used in the erection of pillars due to which the cost had come down considerably.

These PSEB men who have been under fire really deserve accolades for undertaking arduous task under extremely adverse conditions.


Foeticide: PHRC to take suo motu notice
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 5
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PHRC) will launch a scheme next month with a view to channelising and harnessing energy and talent of the youth. Stating this at a seminar on human rights and the youth at Community Polytechnic of Palahi village, Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, ADGP, of the commission, said today the scheme would be introduced in 13 districts.

Fifteen young police officers would act as district managers to monitor youth clubs to be run by 20 members each.

Small financial help would also be provided to the clubs for engaging the youth in sports, culture, social service and other constructive activities, he said.

Stressing on the need to sensitise the youth, he called for the provision of equal opportunities to the girl child for which an attitudinal change in behaviour of elders was required.

Coming down heavily on female foeticide, Mr Bhatnagar warned that the PHRC would take suo motu cognizance of foeticide.

Mr Parveen Sinha, Deputy Director, Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, said caste-based and gender-based discrimination were the direct infringement on human rights. The menace of drugs would also have to be tackled, he said.

Mr Gurmit Palahi, Principal of the Polytechnic, demanded the setting up of drug de-addiction centre at Palahi.


Rail overbridge to be beautified
Anita Tayal

Built to remove congestion in the city, the railway overbridge near the bus stand is at present serving just the opposite purpose. Those entering the city have to face burgeoning dhabas, rehris and haphazardly parked vehicles under the bridge.

Encroachers have occupied almost the entire space under the bridge and all plans of the district administration to develop this area have failed.

These encroachments not only cause traffic congestion, but also lead to accidents in the area. The overbridge has busy throughways on all sides and the bus stand and the railway station are situated next to it.

The district administration has for a long time been toying with the idea of developing the bridge. It had envisaged construction of shops and a parking lot under the bridge. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, says that the administration is now thinking of constructing a parking lot at this site.

The lay-out under the bridge has to be designed keeping in mind the repairs that may become necessary after some time. Space has to be left around the columns for inspection and maintenance. By and large the land under the bridge will be kept vacant because the construction of shops may not solve the rush-hour problem.

The administration does not want to over commercialise the area as it will create problems related to parking. Only a few shops or government offices related to traffic or octroi departments would be set up there.

Shopkeepers of the area feel that the place must be cleared of garbage and jhuggis should be removed from under the bridge. Mr Madan Lal, a shopkeeper, says: ‘‘the place becomes dangerous sometimes,. When the railway crossing is closed, it creates a lot of commotion. Passengers come from the railway station and from the bus stand and there are the scooterists and rickshaw-walas who make it difficult for the pedestrians and cyclists to wade through the crowd’’.


Forensic experts to meet on Oct 21
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 5
The Indian Association of Forensic Document Examiners, a body of prominent handwriting and fingerprint experts, will organise a one-day session on October 21 at Patiala in which eminent forensic scientists of North India will present papers on the latest developments in the field of document examination.

Stating this in a press note issued here today, Dr Inderjit Singh, press secretary of the association, said the decision to organise such a session was taken at the general body meeting of the association here. Problems faced by the experts in their day-to-day work in courts would also be discussed.

The meeting was attended by a number of document experts of Punjab and Haryana. It was presided by Mr K.N. Prasad, president, and Dr Atul Singla, secretary, of the association.


Free legal aid for poor planned
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 5
A state-level Lok Adalat would be held here on October 20. This was stated by Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda and Mansa, while presiding over a meeting of the Free Legal Aid Authority here today.

He said maximum cases should be referred to the Lok Adalat to reduce the pendency of cases in the courts. A Legal Aid Council had been set up to provide free legal aid to people living below the poverty line. A new list of advocates had been prepared for the council. To provide free legal aid, Rs 500 would be given to the lawyer concerned as remuneration.

To educate people about the free legal aid, a district-level seminar would be held on November 9.

Mr Krishan Chand Chowdary, Additional Deputy Commissioner, said the new judicial complex would be ready by October 31.

Mr Ajit Singh Bhangu, president of the District Bar Association, said Rs 3 lakh had been received for the Bar room.


SGPC project to preserve frescoes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee today decided on preservation, restoration and maintenance of precious frescoes, murals and other paintings at the Baba Atal Sahib gurdwara.

Dr Gurcharan Singh Bachan, secretary, SGPC, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, and Dr Santokh Singh Shariyara, noted art critic, unanimously approved of a project for the purpose at a meeting today after the Dharam Prachar Committee showed its willingness for the same. Earlier, the Indian National Trust for Architecture and Cultural Heritage had offered its services free of cost to preserve these following the SGPC’s interest after pressure from conservationists and art critics the world over.

The nine-storeyed tower of Baba Atal stands in memory of Atal Rai, younger son of Guru Hargobind. The interior walls of this tallest building have delicate frescoes in series the largest depicting scenes from “Janamsakhis”.


I-cards to be used in poll
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 5
Ms Usha R. Sharma, Additional Secretary of the Punjab Election Department, said it had been decided that voting be done on the basis of identity cards of the voters in the forthcoming elections of the state assembly. She was addressing a meeting of leaders of various political parties and returning officers of all segments of the district here yesterday. She said preparing of voter identity cards was started in 1994 in the state and during the past seven years identity cards of about 1 crore voters had been made. She stated that the teams for preparing identity cards would be sent on October 15 to all districts and the preparation work would be started from October 18. One camera team would cover four polling booths.

She said the work for preparing the votes for the SGPC elections had also been started.

Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, Deputy Commissioner, here said the work on the amendments in voters lists would be started from November 3 and completed before January 7, 2002, keeping in view the forthcoming elections of the state assembly. He said the preliminary publication of voters lists would be started from November 3.

Votes would also be prepared through a special campaign on November 10 and 11 and November 24 and 25 at all polling stations in the district. He said disposal of claims and objections and preparing of voters lists and their printing would be done on January 5, 2002. The publication of the final voters lists would be made on January 7, 2002.


No voting sans ID card
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Mr Gurjit Singh Cheema, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab today said no one would be allowed to vote without an identity card in the forthcoming Assembly elections as per the guidelines issued by the Election Commission of India.

Mr Cheema said a rigorous campaign to make these identity cards would soon be launched. Voters of Ludhiana, Patiala, Jalandhar, Bathinda and Moga districts would be issued identity cards from October 10. The voters of the remaining 12 districts would be issued identity cards from October 18. The voters would be issued identity cards within three days from getting them photographed.


SDM apologises for misconduct
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 5
The SDM, Khamano, had to apologise to procurement staff of the Civil Supply Department in the office of the Deputy Commissioner today.

According to Ms Rajwant Kaur, DFSC, a delegation of the staff of procurement agencies met her today and alleged that the SDM had abused the DFSO, Khamano, yesterday over the lifting of paddy. When he objected, the SDM abused him thrice.

She said as the entire staff threatened to boycott the procurement process, she took up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner.

Later the delegation met the Deputy Commissioner who called the SDM and asked him to apologise.


Vulgar posters dot Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
In blatant violation of law the city continues to be dotted with vulgar posters. They are a cause of embarrassment to the residents particularly senior citizens and young girls. The callousness of the MC authorities is brought out by the fact that they have not been able to pull these posters from the walls of the holy city. Such posters can be seen around the bus stand area, cinema theatres and some schools.

The efforts of the local non-government organisations to do away with these posters have also not yielded any results. However, it seems that the police could be turning serious about the menace as three cases have been filed against these violators under Section 188 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC).


Class IV staff hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
Members of Class IV Matric Pass Union (CFMPU) from all parts of the district today held a dharna in front of the office of the District Education Officer (DEO) to press the authorities to fulfil their demands.

In a press note issued here today, Mr R.S. Sivian, president of the union, said the members were demanding that the promotion quota for Class IV employees who were matriculates be implemented.


Procurement staff ‘exploiting’ farmers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 5
The CLP leader Choudhary Jagjit Singh today criticised the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for his failure to make arrangements for the procurement of paddy in all mandis of Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here today, Choudhary Jagjit Singh alleged that farmers were being forced by officials of the procurement agencies to pay Rs 20 per quintal as bribe in lieu of the immediate auction of their stocks.

“I have visited several mandis in the district and found that farmers are being harassed since the onset of procurement process from September 21 as their produce has been rejected on one pretext or the other if they fail to bribe the officials, who, in connivance with their political bosses, are running the show,” he alleged.

Regarding the recent controversy over the statement of Mr Badal during a sangat darshan that Kartarpur was the most backward area in Punjab since Choudhary Jagjit Singh had failed to nurse his constituency in the past four years, he alleged, “in fact, the Chief Minister has virtually turned his sangat darshan programmes into poll rallies where those Akali leaders, who had been defeated by the Congress in the last Assembly elections, are being projected as the saviour of the people. Moreover, this is below the dignity of a Chief Minister to issue such a baseless statement against the Leader of the Opposition.”

“How much I am attached to the grassroots level is evident from the fact that I have won last four elections from the Kartarpur constituency in the past 21 years. It is the ruling SAD-BJP combine which has stopped releasing funds for the development of those constituencies, which are being represented by the Opposition”, Choudhary added.

He alleged that Akali leaders and ministers were minting money by forcing sarpanches to pay half of the development funds, which would be released during the sangat darshan programme by the Chief Minister, as commission to them. Several panchayats had lost the opportunity to get grants since they refused to oblige these Akali leaders.

The Congress would appoint a judicial commission headed by a sitting high court judge to look into the alleged corrupt practices of Akali ministers, including the Chief Minister, he added.


20 cr released for paddy payments
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 5
The Punjab Government today released Rs 20 crore to the District Food and Supplies Controller (DFSC) to make payments for paddy procured by the Food and Supplies Department.

Sources in the Food and Supplies Department said the state government had released Rs 3.5 crore for Barnala, Rs 3 crore each for Malerkotla and Sangrur, Rs 2.5 crore for Dhuri, Rs 2 crore each for Sunam and Tapa, and Rs 1 crore each for Ahmedgarh, Lehragaga, Moonak and Bhawanigarh. The government had already released Rs 3 crore to the Sangrur DFSC on September 27.

It is learnt that the Food and Supplies Department had purchased paddy worth Rs 30 crore so far in this district. The sources said the department had procured 54,466 metric tonnes of paddy till last evening.

Rival political parties are of the view that the state government is committed to make the payments as early as possible to win the hearts of the farmers in the wake of the ensuing Assembly elections. 


Bhagat Singh is FC (Revenue)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
In an administrative reshuffle today, Punjab moved Mr Bhagat Singh Principal Secretary, Higher Education, posting him as Financial Commissioner (Revenue) against a vacant post.

In another significant shift, the Director, Information and Public Relations, Mr P. S. Aujla, has been appointed Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training.

An official press note said Mr N. S. Rattan has been posted as Director-General, Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration vice Mr Karl Reddy, who becomes Financial Commissioner, (Appeals-I) in place of Mr I. S. Bindra, who stays, as Principal Secretary, Sports and Youth Services.

Mr B. R. Bajaj is the new Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Research, while Ms Kusumjit Sidhu becomes Secretary, Planning, Advisory Council vice Mr Sudhir Mittal and, in addition, Special Director, Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration vice Mr Swarn Singh.

Mr Mittal will remain Secretary, Power. Mr Bidhi Chand Thakur is Special Secretary, Revenue.

Mr Jagpal Singh will also look after the post of Secretary, Personnel, in addition to his present charge as Secretary, Jails and Judicial.

The orders are silent on the posting of the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Principal Secretary, Information System and Administrative Reforms, Special Secretary Public Works, (B and R) and Director, Information and Public Relations.


Class III, IV staff may get special increment
Sarbjit Dhaliwal

Chandigarh, October 5
The Punjab Government is set to announce a financial bonanza for class III and IV employees in the state. It is likely to include special increment after a certain period of service and additional instalment of Dearess Allowance and bonus.

Informed sources said today the government was planning to announce special increment for the Class III and Class IV employees on the completion of five, nine and 14 years of service. This special increment would be in addition to the annual increment.

This demand of the Class III and Class IV employees has been hanging fire for several years. While almost all categories of Class I and 11 officers including PCS officers, Sub Divisional Engineers, veterinary doctors, PCMS staff, etc, had been given special increment on the completion of five, nine and 14 years of service on the recommendation of the pay commission, class III and IV employees were left out.

Obviously, the government has a political motive behind this proposal. The Assembly elections in the state are due to be held within the next four months. Therefore, the government wants to win the support of employees by announcing financial benefits. Various categories of employees, especially lower ranks, have become a hostile to the SAD-BJP Government in the recent past. They have been seeking more promotional avenues for them.

There are about 1.85 lakh employees in the state who are expected to be benefit. Besides, the government also plans to announce bonus to class IV employees this year.

The government may also announce the regularisation of the services of the employees working on ad hoc and work-charged basis.


Submit applications, encroachers told
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 5
The encroachers in the city have been asked to submit their specified proformas and applications latest by October 15 in order to get their possessions regularised.

This was stated by Mr Manjit Singh Narang, SDM, Patiala, during a meeting held with officials of various departments here today. The step was taken in order to curb the increasing nuisance of encroachments on the urban government lands.

Mr Narang said action would be taken against the encroachers who would not submit their application forms. He added that the encroachments which had taken place before January 1, 1996, would be taken into consideration. He said the encroachers must also submit the ration card, water and electricity bills as proof along with the application form.

He said the proformas could be collected from the departments concerned or from the SDM’s office. He added that in case the encroachments had been made on a public land as opposed to Town Planning Scheme, such encroachments would not be regularised.

Mr Narang said 20 per cent of the market price would be recovered from those encroaching five marlas of land, 30 per cent would be recovered from those holding five to 10 marlas of land, 40 per cent for encroaching 10 marlas to one kanal of land and complete market price would be recovered from those occupying more than one kanal of land.

Mr Narang said the money recovered from these encroachers would be utilised for the welfare projects of the city so as to provide basic amenities to the citizens.


Flesh trade on the rise in Bathinda district
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
More women and men are indulging in flesh trade, which has attained alarming heights in the district. Official sources said in the past nine months six such gangs had been busted by the district police. Twentysix persons had been arrested from various places for their alleged involvement in the flesh trade and cases under Section 3 and 5 of the Suppression of Immoral Trafficking in Women and Girls Act, 1956, registered against them at different police stations in the district.

In January, the police arrested Baljit Kaur and Gurmeet Kaur, both local residents, Gurdip Kaur of Tungwali village and Baldev Singh of Kutti Kishanpura for running a brothel in a house on the Ajit road here. The house was taken on rent by Baljit Kaur and was using it for running the trade. She used to lure women from various places into the trade by showing them dreams of getting rich. In the same month the police nabbed four women in connection with the running of a brothel on Nattha Singh street in a rented house.

In February the district police arrested Ramesh Kumar Nagpal, a local resident, along with his two accomplices for running a brothel at Nagpal Hotel on the Mall road here, which was owned by him. In April the police arrested Manohar Singh, a local resident, Karamjit Singh of UP and Rajinder Kaur, a local resident, for their alleged involvement in the flesh trade.

Two more gangs involved in this crime were busted in June and October. Seven persons were arrested in this connection.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain while talking to the correspondent said it was true that in the past two years there had been a rise in such cases. He added that the district police had launched a campaign to eradicate this menace from the district. 


1 held for opium smuggling
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
The police has arrested one person for his alleged involvement in the smuggling of opium and has recovered 1.5 kg of opium from him.

According to a police press note issued here today, Sukha Ram, a resident of Hanuwas in Pali district of Rajasthan, was arrested from near Panniwala village for possessing 1.5 kg opium. The alleged culprit was carrying the opium in a polythene bag wrapped around his belly.

During interrogation the Sukha Ram admitted that he had brought the opium from Rajasthan. A case under Sections 18, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against him at Sangat Police station.

Madan Gopal, a resident of the local Model Town area, was arrested for showing pornographic movies to minor children. He used to show cassettes of these movies at his shop situated at Bhagu road. A case under Section 7 of the Cinematography Act, 1952, had been registered against him at Kotwali police station.

Under the Excise Act, three persons had been arrested and cases registered against them. The police recovered 18 litres of country-made foreign liquor, 3 litres of illicit liquor, 120 kg of lahan and unearthed an illegal distillery. The culprits had been identified as Budh Singh and Surinderpal Singh of Bhairupa village and Kuldeep Singh of Chak Ram Singhwala.

Under the Gambling Act, four cases had been registered while eight persons had been arrested. The culprits had been identified as Rajinder Singh of Barnala, Hans Raj of Golewala, Mahinder Singh, Balwant Singh, Suresh Kumar, Khem Chand, all residents of local Partap Nagar, Raj Singh and Mohit Singh of Balahar Mehma village.


12 held for looting
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 5
The local district police has nabbed 12 members of different gangs of looters.

Mr Jagdish Kumar Mittal, SSP, told mediapersons here today that the Goindwal police had arrested Charanjit Singh, alias Chandu, a resident of Bharowal, who along with Karaj Singh, a resident of village Dhunda, his close relative, with the help of four others killed a woman at Bharowal on the night of September 18 at the farmhouse of Shingara Singh and Surinder Singh.

The gang members with iron rods and other weapons also injured four other members of the house.

Charanjit Singh had been arrested. The remaining accused were at large.

The gang was also responsible for a looting incident at the farmhouses of Hardev Singh and Gurdip Singh at Naushehra Pannuan of September 19.


One held for duping villager
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
The district police has arrested Bhinder Singh of Bhucho Khurd allegedly for cheating Jagsir Singh of the same village by taking money from him promising to secure a job for him in the Military Engineering Services (MES).

In a press note issued here today, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said Bhinder demanded Rs 1 lakh from Jagsir promising to secure a job for him in the MES. When the latter expressed his helplessness to arrange the money the accused told him to arrange Rs 70,000.

Jagsir paid Rs 67,500 to Bhinder who gave a fake medical form to him and told him to get his medical check up done then to get the job. But, even after fulfilling all requisites Jagsir could not get the job. He demanded back his money from the accused.

To put off Jagsir the accused made a new excuse that interview had been cancelled due to some reason, but he would surely arrange the job for him.

Jagsir brought the matter to the notice of village panchayat. The accused had admitted to give back money to Jagsir before panchayat members.

Dr Jain said a case under Section 420, IPC, had been registered.


Brother of KCF militant held
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 5
The police has arrested three wanted criminals, one of them related to Joga Singh, a hardcore militant and a close accomplice of Pipal Singh Dholewala of Khalistan Commando Force.

Mr Harchand Singh Sidhu, SSP, said Mr Rachpal Singh, DSP, had laid a naka on a bridge near Begawali village on the Abohar-Fazilka road. At around 1 a.m. they noticed a white Maruti car without number plates coming from Abohar side. Occupants of the car tried to flee away in different directions when they were signalled to stop the car. The police soon nabbed the three criminals who were later identified as Gurmeet Singh, the younger brother of Joga Singh who was an active militant of the KCF, Bagicha Singh who had been wanted in several cases of murder and extortion and Baldev Krishan, a fugitive criminal.

An AK-56 gun along with three magazines and 150 live cartridges, a .32-bore pistol and a .303-bore countrymade pistol with cartridges were seized from them. The police also seized 2 kg of opium, four cyanide capsules and a stolen Maruti car from them, Mr Sidhu added. The arrested criminals were presented before the mediapersons here this morning in the SSP office. They confessed to having committed crimes, including murder, extortion and robberies.


Grants to Tohra-run colleges stopped
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said the SGPC had stopped grants to Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College and Mata Gujri College, both in Fatehgarh Sahib. He said the SGPC used to give of Rs 25 lakh annually to both institutions. But it had not paid grants for three years. He said that both institutions were now mobilising funds from their own sources.

Mr Tohra is chairman of the managing committee of the Engineering College as well as Mata Gujri College.

He said that the management committee of the Engineering college had decided to give concession to students admitted to various degree courses. The management would charge Rs 1 lakh instead of Rs 1.02 lakh annually as tuition fee to students in the paid seats category.

Other charges which had been Rs 8,000 per year (for four years) have also been reduced. Students would now pay Rs 8,000 in the first year, Rs 5000 in the second year, Rs 3000 in the third year and Rs 2,000 in the fourth year of the degree course, he said.

He said the decision to slash these charges had been taken keeping in view the interest of the students and their parents.


Villagers cry foul over PTI’s transfer
Tribune News Service

Aaklia Jalal (Bathinda), October 5
Resentment prevails among residents of this village over the transfer of the physical training instructor (PTI) from the local Government High School by the education authorities allegedly under political pressure.

Though the students locked the school gates for a day in protest against the transfer of Mr Nachhattar Singh and villagers urged the authorities to cancel it, no action was taken due to “political pressure”.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the PTI who had got 50 students to participate in state-level games, apart from securing better results in science subject was allegedly transferred on flimsy grounds. He was considered close to a Youth Akali Dal leader who has been getting a massive response from the public in the Rampura Assembly segment.

The panchayat had written to the District Education Officer (Secondary) that false complaints had been lodged against the teacher. The education authorities claimed the transfer was a routine matter. They said an inquiry was pending against the PTI, but refused to divulge the details.

In a written statement, the teacher alleged that he had been transferred as he had not followed the dictats of some politicians of the area.


Garhwal varsity wins contest
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
HN Bahuguna Garhwal University won the over-all award for performance in all competitions at the five-day youth festival and national integration camp held in the city.

More than 200 youths from various universities of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttaranchal and Chandigarh took part in the festival.

In the debate competition held on October 2, Ms Yojna Shah of Garhwal varsity stood first and Ms Vidha of Bharat Vikas Parishad, Panipat, Ms Ramandeep Kaur of Jila Yuva Kalyan, Bathinda, stood second and third, respectively. In the poetry writing competition held on October 3, Ms Jyoti Juneja of Bharat Vikas Parishad, Panipat, Mr Parvez Ahmad of Garhwal varsity and Mr Sandeep Lohat of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Bilaspur, won the first, second and third positions, respectively.

In the painting competition, Ms Upasana of Garhwal varsity, Vinod Kumar of Nehru Yuva Kendra, Bilaspur, and Mr Shailendar Pal Singh of Jila Kalyan, Dehradun, stood first, second and third, respectively. In the drama competition, Garhwal varsity won the first position. Nehru Yuva Kendra of Ropar and Bilaspur got the second and third prizes, respectively.

The Prajapita Brahama Kumaris Ishwariya Vishwa Vidyalaya of the city organised the youth festival.

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