Wednesday, October 10, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vedanti administers oath to ‘marjiwras’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
The Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, today administered oath to “marjiwras” (sacrificial squads) who would be ready for supreme sacrifices to uphold the sanctity of Guru Granth Sahib, to safeguard “dharma” (religion) and to give a befitting reply (punishment) to the “anti-Panthic” forces.

It is for the first time after 1983 that the “marjiwras” have been administered oath for a do-or-die mission at Akal Takht. As many as one lakh marjiwras had pledged to sacrifice their lives in the name of religion when the Dharma Yudh Morcha was launched by Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, the then President of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

All Sikh youths who took oath as “marjiwras” belong to the All-India Sikh Students Federation (United). Their leaders — Mr Avtar Singh Boparai, Dr Manjit Singh Bhoma and Mr Karnail Singh Pirmohammad were also present on the occasion. The AISSF (United) was formed by forging unity among various splinter groups at the behest of Mr Parkash Singh Badal. However, differences cropped up among federation leaders immediately after the function at Akal Takht.

In a resolution passed by the federation, the “marjiwras” pledged to make supreme sacrifices in case of sacrilege of Guru Granth Sahib. The resolution condemned the rising incidents of sacrilege. The federation said it was the need of the hour to order a high-level probe to unearth the deep-rooted conspiracy in this regard. Another resolution warned the “anti-Panthic” forces of dire consequences in case fresh sacrilege.

The resolution, however, appreciated the steps taken by the Badal government to book excommunicated Sikh Piara Singh Bhaniara, the author of the controversial granth “Bhawsagar Samunder”. The federation said Baba Bhaniara should be booked under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code. The federation said there might be a conspiracy to topple the Badal government through acts of sacrilege.

It said the “nefarious designs” of anti-Panthic forces, which wanted to topple the Badal government, would not succeed.

In yet another resolution, the federation decided to launch a movement against the so-called “babas” who have indulged in anti-Panthic activities. The resolution said that instead of giving respect to Guru Granth Sahib, such deras had been worshipping living gurus which was not in accordance with Sikhism.

Meanwhile, some members of the policy-making body of the AISSF (United), including Mr Ujjal Didar Singh Aulakh, Mr Maninder Paul Singh Ghumman, Mr Baljit Singh Talwandi, Mr Lakhwinder Singh Ghumman and Mr Jagwant Singh alleged that Mr Avtar Singh Boparai, Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma and Mr Karnail Singh Pirmohammad had been working against the interests of the federation. They urged the party high command to persuade Dr Bhoma, Mr Boparai and Mr Pirmohammad to sink their differences at Akal Takht before administering oath to others.

They alleged that Mr Pirmohammad had been torpedoing the unity of the federation by promoting his loyal, Mr Tajinder Singh Sandhu.

The policy-making body has sacked Mr Sandhu from the post of press secretary of the federation.


Co-author of “Bhavsagar Granth” arrested
Tribune News Service

Moga, October 9
The district police today arrested Dr Pritam Singh of Dhudhike village in this district, who is one of the co-author of controversial book “Bhavsagar Granth”, being used by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, and recovered a copy of the same from him.

Dr Sharad Chohan, SSP, while talking to TNS today, said Dr Pritam Singh was one of the 30 writers of the “granth” and about 15 days ago he made a promise to the panchayat that he had stopped following the preachings of the book and Baba Piara Singh. But few days ago, he came back to the village and started doing the same.

To prevent any untoward incident, the police arrested him and recovered a copy of “Bhavsagar Granth” from him.

He said in another case, Kuldeep Singh, a veterinary pharmacist in the government dispensary at Mattewala village in this district, was arrested and some objectionable material, including some cassettes, were recovered from him. He was trying to disturb the communal harmony in the area.

Dr Chohan said 10 followers of Baba Piara Singh were arrested in different parts of the district yesterday. He said the police authorities had made all arrangements to prevent any untoward incident and senior police officials had been deputed to keep a close watch on the activities of followers of Baba Piara Singh.

He said cases had been registered under Section 295-A of the IPC against the arrested persons and they were being produced in the court under full security to avoid any attack on them by the public.


Judicial probe will bring out truth: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Capt Amarinder Singh, president of the Punjab Congress, said today that a judicial probe into incidents of sacrilege would bring out the truth putting Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s party in the dock.

Reacting to Mr Badal’s reported statement that the Congress was directly involved in such acts, Capt Amarinder Singh said only by holding an inquiry would the people of the state come to know who was behind the sacrilege.

Describing Mr Badal’s statement that he would order the probe if the Panthic Morcha asked him to do so as a cheap gimmick, Capt Amarinder Singh wondered what the morcha had to do with such an inquiry.

The Congress leader said electoral politics was always more important to Mr Badal than peace in the state. He said he had sought the judicial inquiry on September 29 at a public meeting in Gurdaspur following an incident pertaining to a place of worship in Ludhiana on September 28 and sacrilege in Tarkhanmajra village, near Fatehgarh Sahib, the next day, but Mr Badal responded to this on October 8, and that too after the situation worsened.


SAD (A) leaders appear before Akal Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
Shiromani Akali Dal leaders (Amritsar) who had violated the edict of Akal Takht by visiting dera of excommunicated Sikh, Baba Pira Singh Bhaniara today met Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and sought unconditional apology.

The two senior leaders of SAD (Amritsar) Mr Bhag Singh, party Ropar unit president and Mr Surjit Singh, general secretary and Chairman Ropar Block Samiti, appeared before Akal Takht and urged Jathedar Vedanti that they were ready to undertake “tankhah” (punishment for religious misconduct) for inadvertently visiting the dera in gross violation of the edict. Bhai Ram Singh, general secretary of the party said the Akali Dal (Amritsar) took the initiative to appear before Akal Takht.


Afghan Hindus, Sikhs stranded in Pakistan
Ashok Sethi

Attari (Amritsar), October 9
A large number of Afghan Sikhs and Hindus have been stranded in Pakistan during their mass exodus from Afghanistan in the wake of the war. This information was given by Mr Bhajan Singh who along with three Afghan Sikh families arrived by Samjhauta Express here today. Narrating their pitiable conditions in Kabul and Jalalabad, he said a large number of poor people of Indian origin had stayed put resigned to their fate.

Mr Chajjan Singh (32), a resident of Kabul, who along with his wife Surinder Kaur and three children landed here, said several Afghan Sikh and Hindu families had entered Pakistan after facing many hurdles. As a majority of these families entered Pakistan without valid travel documents these were unable to procure visa to travel to India. He said the Taliban had labelled them as ‘kafirs’ (traitors) and they were being looked down upon. “They wanted to come to India but due to their inability to get visas they had to stay in Pakistan,” he added.

Mr Gurbax Singh, who came from Jalalabad with his parents, said the Indian Government and the United Nations should make proper arrangements for the evacuation of people of Indian origin. Giving account of the happenings in Afghanistan in the aftermath of September 11 attack on the USA, he said a majority of the people of Indian origin were being forced to flee Afghanistan leaving their business and property behind. Afghanistan was already facing a severe economic crisis as the two decade-long turmoil had rendered the country in ruins and most of the people poor, he added.

All three families holding Afghan passports had managed to travel from Kabul and Jalalabad to reach Pakistan border four days ago and after procuring visas were travelling to Delhi for safety.

In the meanwhile, the Lahore-Delhi bus, reach the check-post this morning carrying 35 passengers mostly Pakistanis. Talking to this reporter Begum Razia Sultan, a housewife from Lahore, who arrived here along with her two children, said though Partition took place over 50 years ago yet their blood relations and emotional bonds had continued to bind them together.

Asked about Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden, she said “he should be handed over to the USA for killing thousands of innocent people. Violence has no place in Islam and “jehad” against the people of any origin was absolutely wrong”.

Talking about the situation in Karachi, Mr Salauddin, a resident of Bhopal, who had gone there to attend the marriage of his cousin, said the condition in the port city of Karachi was very tense and the people feared a civil war could break out in the country.

Meanwhile, senior officers of the Japanese Embassy were camping at the Wagha check-post to facilitate the crossing over of their nationals, diplomats and others who had been asked to leave Pakistan. A senior Custom officer posted here said during the past three weeks more than 1,000 foreign tourists, diplomatic staff and their families had crossed over to the India.

Since the US and British air strikes started in Afghanistan very few foreign nationals had arrived here. The security agencies, Immigration and Custom officers had been put on a high alert and had been directed to allow all foreigners to enter India round the clock.


Help stranded Hindus, panel urges Jaswant
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 9
The Vice-Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, today wrote a letter to the Minister of External Affairs Mr Jaswant Singh, expressing his concern over the stranded Hindu and Sikh families in Afghanistan. Mr Tarlochan Singh said a large number of newspapers had carried graphic account of their pitiable conditions as a majority of them had already reached Peshawar.

He urged the minister to issue necessary instructions to its High Commission in Islamabad to provide urgent visa papers to them for crossing over to India. Mr Tarlochan Singh pointed out that the government must do away with the policy to grant visa from Islamabad, which requires prior clearance from the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Mr Tarlochan Singh made an appeal to the Minister of External Affairs that directions must be issued immediately to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad to organise special camps for them in Gurdwara Panja Sahib or at any other place near the Pakistan capital and provide them all facilities.

He urged that the government must seek the help of International Red Cross Society to know about their welfare and in case they require food or other essential supplies these should be provided to them.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Home Affairs in his letter dated September 12, 2001 to all Chief Secretaries and state governments and union territories had directed to give extension of stay to Afghan nationals who had entered India legally or through valid travel documents. The circular had mentioned that the Afghan nationals presently living in India who had not registered or not have renewed their registration should be given an opportunity to register themselves till December 31, 2001. The letter also added that any fine or penalty chargeable for their overstay may be waived off.

The letter also added that in case the extension of stay to them was granted up to June 30, 2001, should be extended to June 6, 2002 for one more year.


Sikh NRIs looking for land in Punjab
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Shell-shocked by incidents of hate crime after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA, Punjabi diaspora in general and Sikhs in particular, have started exploring the opportunities of investments, both in real estate and industry back home.

A substantial Punjabi population settled in North America continues to feel uneasy as it is viewed with suspicion by the average American.

The Sikhs by and large are eager to buy property in India, especially in Punjab, the land of their birth and also make investment in financial and industrial ventures. “You never know when such attacks take epidemic form to put our future at stake in the countries where we have made a new home”, said Mr Satnam Singh Atwal, an American Sikh. “So, it will be in the fitness of things for us to plan for contingency and at least own a house in Punjab to secure our future”, he added.

Mr Satnam Singh along with several other Punjabi NRIs is currently visiting Punjab. His colleagues corroborate his views.

Mistaken for Arabs, Sikhs had been victims of hate crime in the USA, UK, Australia and now even in New Zealand.

In fact, Mr A.R. Talwar, Managing Director of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, told The Tribune that his corporation had got a lot of response from Punjabi NRIs for making investment in Food Park to be set up near Sirhind for which tenders have been floated recently.

For Americans, Europeans and other foreigners, it is difficult to distinguish between Sikhs and an Arabs, especially those sporting turbans and beards. Taliban, like most of the Sikhs, have flowing beards and similar physical features.

The Sikhs are perplexed at establishing their distinct identity, which makes them different from Arabs. Mr Balbir Singh Gosal , another American Sikh, said the community was seriously thinking of a solution of this problem.

“I am an American Sikh, God bless America”, such stickers have been distributed by Yogi Harbhajan Singh asking Sikhs to put these on their cars, obviously to convey a message to public at large that they have no connection with Arabs. Besides, Sikhs have been putting American flags on their vehicles and homes.

Mr Jasbir Singh, a Candian Sikh, said the Sikhs normally fund elections in the USA, Canada and UK, at the individual level. Instead , the Sikh community should fund the election campaign of political parties collectively for a strong political clout in the government. In case of any exigency, political parties funded by Sikhs would come to their rescue instantly.

Though Sikh community leaders have been “hyper active” in various areas, but on the media front they have not done much. They should have their own nationally televised channels to relay programmes about Sikh way of life, background and relating to their identity, says Mr Mohinder Singh Gill, a former Olympian, settled in the USA. He said Sikhs should participate in various charity programmes. He along with other Sikhs collected $ 10,000 after the terrorist attacks to contribute to the fund generated to help the families of victims.


Punjab to set up dept for NRIs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
To help non-resident Indians (NRIs) speedily solve their problems, the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal today ordered the creation of a new department in Chandigarh. It will be headed by Ms Geetika Kalha, Secretary, Education (Colleges), as Commissioner in charge. A post of Secretary, NRIs and Industrial Liaison, already exists in New Delhi. The new set-up in Chandigarh will function on the same pattern, according to a press release.

The government has already amended the Punjab Security and Land Revenue Act, 1953, under which NRIs can now get back possession of their agricultural land from tenants or illegal occupants. Similarly, to protect NRI's residential and commercial properly, the Punjab Rent Restriction Act, 1949, has been amended.

The NRIs are entitled to several concessions and incentives on investment. There are also NRI Police Helplines to provide relief to non-resident Punjabis visiting the state. There is one at Indira Gandhi International Airport, New Delhi as well. Punjab has also developed an interactive Internet website.


Attacks on Sikhs unacceptable: NZ
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
“Attack on the Sikhs, or any other innocent people, is unacceptable to the New Zealand Government and people,” says its High Commissioner, Ms C. J. McDonald, maintaining that the Sikhs are a “valued group in New Zealand’s multicultural society.”

In his reply to a letter from Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Minorities Commission, who had requested her to impress upon the New Zealand Government to ensure the security of Sikhs and their property following high incidence of hate crime after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA, the High Commissioner said that the Prime Minister of New Zealand had in a recent radio interview said she was “particularly concerned” that Sikhs were being singled out.

Mr Tarlochan Singh had written to the High Commissioners of both New Zealand and Australia to express his concern over the growing incidence of hate crime against Indians in general and Sikhs in particular in both these countries after the September 11 attacks.

The High Commissioner also referred to an official release of the Government of New Zealand issued by the Ethnic Affairs Minister, Mr George Hawkins, saying that he was disturbed by possible acts of “retaliation” against some ethnic New Zealanders following the terrorist attacks in the USA.

“I am shocked by the ignorance and racism that has been shown by a small number of people. Ethnic New Zealanders contribute to the country’s economic and social well-being. They own businesses, they employ people, and they contribute to community groups and organisations.

“New Zealand is a nation of diverse people, and that is one of our strengths. Many cultures mix in our schools, workplaces and communities and we all benefit from this diversity.

“Our children grow up in classrooms with the opportunity to learn about cultures they may otherwise never experience.

“Ethnic people come here with the dream of becoming ‘Kiwis’. They want to become part of New Zealand, but they also share their own cultures with us,” he said maintaining that he was disappointed that some politicians had chosen to fuel racist attitudes, with unfounded claims about terrorist links in New Zealand.

“What is needed at this time is understanding and support, not hatred based on incorrect stereotypes,” said Mr Hawkins.

The New Zealand High Commission also appreciated the long association of Sikhs with people of her country. New Zealand has a substantial Sikh population.


Low funds utilisation by MPs
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
The low utilisation of funds available to the Members of Parliament from Punjab is a cause of serious concern. Against the utilisation norms of 80 per cent to 85 per cent, it is a mere 48.9 per cent against the overall figure of 65.5 per cent at the national level.

The performance level of all states, except J and K and Tripura, is higher than that of Punjab, as on March 31, 2001.

Owing to the low pace of sanctioning of works, the actual money received shows a shortfall of Rs 44 crore for both the Lok Sabha (Rs 33 crore) and the Rajya Sabha (Rs 11 crore). The Centre should have released Rs 130.65 crore to the Lok Sabha MPs and Rs 46.50 crore to the Rajya Sabha MPs. But the money received up to March 31, 2001, was Rs 97.65 crore and Rs 35.50 crore, for the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha MPs respectively.

These facts were brought home to the MPs from Punjab at a meeting convened by the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, here today. It was attended by all Deputy Commissioners. Such a meeting had been convened for the first time in nine years. The MPs who attended included Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mrs Parneet Kaur, Mr Zora Singh Mann, Mr Balbir Singh, Mr Gurchaan Singh Ghalib, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo and Mrs Santosh Chaudhary.

Some of the MPs also aired their “grievances”. They complained that Deputy Commissioners did not listen to them or they were denied the usual courtesy as per the protocol.

Mr Arora told TNS that following the review it was decided that the Divisional Commissioners would inspect the works, initiated out of the funds of the MPs, at least once every quarter. Likewise, the Deputy Commissioners would, within one month, review the existing backlog and substantially reduce it. Better interaction was also expected between the MPs and the Deputy Commissioners.

Contrary to the guidelines, the Deputy Commissioners were not inspecting the stipulated 10 per cent of the MPLADS (Member Parliament Local Area Development Scheme) works every year.

The blame for the slow progress of works was apportioned by the MPs to the Deputy Commissioners, who are nodal officers for the implementation of the MPLADS. This was because sanction for the proposed works was not given by them within the stipulated 45 days from the date of receipt of the proposal from the MP concerned.

The number of cases sanctioned after 45 days from the date of recommendation by an MP for the period 1997-98 to 2000-2001 are 1,530 out of a total receipt of 7,127. The Deputy Commissioners, too, had much to say but did not pick up an argument.

The guidelines are that an instalment of Rs 1 crore will be released to an MP once the balance amount, after taking into account the cost of all works sanctioned (unsanctioned balance), comes to less than Rs 50 lakh. The lower sanctioning of funds, thus, has a direct bearing on the release of funds by the Centre.

The Deputy Commissioners were also not supplying the requisite information on sanctions and expenditure every month to the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation for the purpose of release of funds. This resulted in a delay in the release of funds. Even the mandatory signposts, (“MPLAD work”), were not being put up.

A look at the summary statement for release/expenditure for 13 Lok Sabha MPs (as on March 31, 2001) shows that the highest utilisation was in Bathinda, 99.35 per cent, and the lowest in Sangrur, 28.73 per cent. The former is represented by Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura and the latter by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

A similar statement for eight Rajya Sabha MPs shows that the highest utilisation was by Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, 85.95 per cent, and the lowest by Mr Raj Mohinder Singh (now Mrs Gurcharan Kaur), 13.94 per cent.


No pact with Cong, SAD: Kanshi
Our Correspondent

Balluana (Bathinda), October 9
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will not enter into an alliance with either the Congress or the SAD in the assembly elections due in the state next year as both had worked against the interests of the Dalits.

This was stated by Mr Kanshi Ram, BSP chief, while addressing mediapersons here today. He said so far his party had not entered into any alliance with any party, but if some party approached the BSP, it could think about it. But he clarified that in no way an alliance could be struck with the Congress and the SAD. Mr Kanshi Ram was in the village to address a rally of party workers. He said he had launched a campaign in the state and was holding rallies.


Morcha promoting Cong interests: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Three members of the Punjab Cabinet belonging to the SAD today launched a scathing attack against Panthic Morcha leaders.

Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka and Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, in a statement issued here today said the leaders of the morcha were acting as mouthpieces of the Congress on the sensitive issue of acts of sacrilege.

The ministers said the morcha was working as a frontal organisation for the Congress. They said instead of taking senior Congress leaders to task for creating and promoting the so-called Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, the morcha leaders were trying to create social and political instability by accusing the government in the state.

They asked the morcha leaders why were they protesting even after those guilty of sacrilege had been booked. They alleged that there seemed to be a conspiracy between the Congress and the morcha leaders to keep Baba Bhaniara in news with a view to creating divisions in the Panth and disturb peace and communal harmony in the state.

The ministers advised the morcha leaders to refrain from promoting Congress interests.


Students, traders not allowed to meet Badal
Sushil Goyal

Tribune News Service

Amargarh/Bardwal (Sangrur), October 9
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, today held “sangat darshan” programmes in two villages of the district. In almost identical speeches at both places he criticised the Congress and Panthic Morcha for allegedly getting, political mileage out of the sacrilege incidents.

At the “sangat darshan” programme at Bardwal village, activists of the Punjab Students Union, led by its district unit president, Mr Birbal Bala, burnt a memorandum, containing students’ demands, and raised slogans against the government as they were not allowed by the police to meet the Chief Minister to air their grievances. Likewise, representatives of the Dhuri Beopar Mandal, led by Mr Mangat Rai Goyal, also expressed resentment as they were also not allowed to meet the Chief Minister. At Amargarh, several individuals were also seen trying to reach the Chief Minister, but their attempts proved futile due to heavy restrictions by the police. At today’s “sangat darshan” programmes at both places, Mr Badal distributed grants worth Rs 2.60 crore to 107 village panchayats and Rs 50 lakh to the Dhuri Municipal Council for development works. Mr Badal distributed grants worth Rs 1.39 crore to 37 panchayats at Bardwal’s “sangat darshan”, while remaining amount was distributed to 70 panchayats at Amargarth village’s “sangat darshan”.

The two claimants of the SAD ticket for the Dhuri Assembly constituency Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, a member of the working committee of the SAD, and Mr Surinder Singh Dhuri, a former MLA, remained present near the Chief Minister all the time at both “sangat darshan” programmes Mr Kanjhla reportedly belongs to Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa group while MR Surinder Singh Dhuri belongs to Mr Surjit Singh Barnala group. Mr Gagandeep Singh, son of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, today attended both “sangat darshan” reportedly to provide moral support to Mr Dhuri. Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Nusrat Ali Khan, Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, all state Ministers, and Mr Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh, district unit president of the SAD were also present.

Addressing the “sangat darshan” at Bardwal village, Mr Badal alleged that sacrilege was an outcome of a greater conspiracy to plunge the state into “black days” and breach the peace and communal harmony. He said Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra was delivering such statements in frustration which could lead state towards darkness.

At Amargarh’s “sangat darshan”, Mr Badal said he had directed the Ropar Deputy Commissioner to initiate steps to get back the land from the Baba Bhaniarawala dera which belonged to the panchayat and the Forest Department. Mr Badal also inaugurated a building of the Community Health Centre at Amargarh, built at a cost of Rs 1.11 crore.


Notice to Punjab in Bhattal case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 9
Mr Surjeet Singh, Special Judge, yesterday issued notices to the state of Punjab, Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), Vigilance, and SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, in connection with a case registered against former Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal under the Prevention of Corruption Act for her alleged misappropriation of the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

The judge asked them to appear before the court on October 30 on the application moved by Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, Senior Vice-President, Lawyer’s for Human Rights International. Mr Dhillon had sought to expedite the investigations into the corruption case registered against Ms Bhattal.

Mr Dhillon stated that till date no investigation had been made due to cordial relations between Ms Bhattal and the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

He also pointed out that he had come to know from reliable sources that ADGP (Vigilance) and SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, were going to hush up the case in spite of documentary evidence against Ms Bhattal. He prayed to the judge to summon ADGP (Vigilance) and SP (Vigilance) to personally appear before the court and explain why they were not investigating into the matter.

A case was registered against Ms Bhattal under the Prevention of Corruption Act on May 22, 2001, by the Vigilance Bureau, Ferozepore, on the order of DGP (Vigilance), Punjab, who was directed by the Special Judge, Mr Surjeet Singh, to do so on the complaint filed by Mr Dhillon.

Mr Dhillon in his complaint alleged that Ms Bhattal had withdrawn Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund on December 30, 1996, in her own name for granting the money to needy persons and institutions.

He added that Ms Bhattal had dishonestly and fraudulently misappropriated the public money entrusted to her as a public servant and had committed a breach of trust within the meaning of Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. He said the money was never accounted for by her.


Overseas job cell of little help
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 9
Resentment prevails among unemployed youth of the area, who are being deceived and fleeced by the state’s overseas employment cell. The youth allege that the cell is not providing any information to them on the vacancies or the employer.

According to information available, the Director, Employment-cum-Labour Commissioner, in a letter to all District Employment Exchanges in the state has directed them to inform all maths and science teachers and trained nurses registered with them to get themselves registered again with their respective exchanges.

The charges for the forms are Rs 50 and for registration Rs 200. Similarly, through another letter he has directed them to visit private computer and technical institutions and motivate the youth to register their names with the employment exchanges, if they want a job in the USA.

When contacted, officials of the local Employment Exchange confirmed that they had received a letter from the Director in this regard. They said they had no details on the employment to be provided to the youth in the USA. They had no exact number of vacancies, nor knowledge of the employer.

They said almost all candidates already registered with the Employment Exchange had again not themselves registered with the same. They were finding difficulty in answering the queries of the candidates whether on the basis of the certificates being issued to them by private computer centres, they would be able to get jobs or not. 


Waiver of youths’ loan sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
A committee of parents of Sikh youths has urged the Punjab Government to waive the loans which were given to their wards by the Barnala government to start self-employment ventures.

Mr Palwinder Singh Raipur said in a statement that each youth was given loans between Rs 20,000 and Rs 30,000 and the total amount against all of them at present was nearly Rs 30 lakh.

He said that this should be waived on the pattern followed in case of Jodhpur detainees. Recently, the government had waived loans worth Rs 12 crore of Sikh youths who were detained in Jodhpur jail about a decade ago.

Mr Palwinder Singh said that a deputation of the parents concerned led by Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali had met Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, to seek the waiving of loans. He said that Captain had assured that he would look into the matter.


Gate in name of Gen Vaidya’s assassins
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
The Damdami Taksal and other Sikh organisations have decided to construct a memorial gate in the memory of Harjinder Singh Jinda and Sukhdev Singh Sukha —the assassins of Gen A.S. Vaidya, at their native village Gadli, 15 km from here today. Funds were also collected on this occasion to raise the memorial.

Earlier, the bhog of akhand path in memory of the assassins was held at Akal Takht to mark their ninth death anniversary. They were hanged on October 9, 1992, for assassinating General Vaidya.

Among those who attended the function were Baba Thakur Singh, chief of Damdami Taksal, Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Mr Kanwarpal Singh of the Dal Khalsa, Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, a former Jathedar, Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, a senior leader of ruling party, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, AISSF chief, and Bhai Ram Singh of the SAD (Amritsar).

Siropas (robes of honour) were also presented to the families of those who died during the militancy.


Work on bridge to begin on Oct 30
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 9
Work on the much-awaited overbridge, to be constructed over the “khooni phatak” of the city, will be started at a function to be attended by the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on October 30. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, gave this information while addressing a meeting of district officials here yesterday.

The meeting was attended by the Deputy Commissioner, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) and officials of the Public Works Department and the Railways.

Mr Garg said the overbridge, to be constructed at a cost of Rs 19 crore, would facilitate the traffic flow from trans-railway colonies and nearby villages. Mr Garg, who visited the construction site after the meeting, assured that the work would be completed within the stipulated time.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, president of the Municipal Council, said all possible efforts would be made to complete the work at the earliest.


Uncertainty over Shahpur dam
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 9
Uncertainty continues to prevail over the construction of Shahpur Kandi dam project inspite of repeated statements by the Chief Minister and his ministerial colleagues to take up its construction at the earliest. The Chief Minister, during his “sangat darshan” here had said that the project would be undertaken on departmental level in October and the Central Government had agreed to release an instalment of Rs 40 crore, but nothing in this regard has happened so far. Mr Sat Pal Saini, Minister of State for Information and Technology, went a step further and said Rs 10 crore had been released by the Punjab Government to undertake the construction of the project.

As many as 1,000 employees of Ranjit Sagar Dam, who were transferred to this project, have been reverted to Ranjit Sagar Dam.

Official sources said Ranjit Sagar Dam could not run its full capacity till the construction of Shahpur Kandi dam project was completed. After the completion of Shahpur Kandi Dam, a canal will be dug connecting Ranjit Sagar Dam reservoir with Jammu Tawi. The canal will have the capacity of more than 10,000 cusecs of water.

Sources said to run all four power stations of Ranjit Sagar Dam, 2, 400 cusecs of water was required, which the Irrigation Department, was unable to provide. Hence, water shall have to be released in Ravi which will go to Pakistan, for which India has already paid Rs 100 crore through Ravi Commission.

Sources said when completed, this project would generate 168 MW of power. In addition, Ranjit Sagar Dam will run full capacity and generate 600 MW of power, which will certainly improve the power situation in Punjab.


22 No. Phatak overbridge to cost Rs 8.35 cr
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, will lay the foundation stone of the railway overbridge at 22 No. Phatak here tomorrow.

Giving this information, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, said the construction work, which was delayed due to certain reasons, will cost Rs 8.35 crore. The bridge will be around 650 metres in length. Enough space would be available under the bridge to provide sufficient space for parking of vehicles.

Following this, Mr Badal would hear the grievances of people from Samana block during the sangat darshan programme at Maharaja palace.


Few takers for SGPC poll forms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Work on the registration of voters for the ensuing elections to the SGPC that started from September 3 has attracted a negligible number of persons. Very few have submitted the forms for getting themselves registered as voters in one month.

The Gurdwara Election Commission today requested people to get themselves registered as voters as the period of 61 days specified for this purpose would end on November 2, said a press release issued by the commission secretary, Mr Gurdev Singh.


Photos for voter cards from today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 9
Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said that photographs for the purpose of formation of voter identity cards would start from October 10 in the district.

In a press note issued here yesterday, he said only those citizens would be allowed to exercise their right to vote who had their voting identity card. He said it could be used at the time of filling of old-age pension form, and ration card.


Hearing in Giani Kewal Singh case adjourned
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 9
Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, today adjourned the hearing of Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, in connection with the dowry death case of his daughter-in-law Sharanjit Kaur to October 31.

Giani Kewal Singh, his son Baljinder Singh and a close kin Joginder Kaur were booked under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC for the death of Sharanjit Kaur, wife of Baljinder Singh.

The case was registered on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court when Mr Amarjit Singh, brother of deceased, filed a case after failing to get justice from the police.


Lovers commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 9
Two lovers allegedly committed suicide by consuming celphos tablets on the outskirts of Bagh Sikandar village, about 5 km from here, today.

The deceased were identified as Harpreet Kaur (16) and Kamal (20) of the same village. Their bodies were found near the Bhakra canal main line.


Raids on ultrasound centres
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 9
A vigilance committee under the chairmanship of Dr Inderjit Kaur, Civil Surgeon, conducted a series of raids on various ultrasound centres in the district.

Giving this information, Dr Kaur said none of the centres was using proper prohibition signboards to spread awareness among the general public discouraging them to undergo sex determination tests.

Apart from the inadequacy of the documentation of these centres, even the consent forms for doing various ultrasound tests was not available with the centre owners. Dr Kaur warned them to have up-to-date documentation on proper forms.

The centres, where the raid was conducted, included Aggarwal Ultrasound Centre, Malhotra Ultrasound Centre, Delta Ultrasound Centre and Bharat Ultrasound Centre.

Dr Kaur informed that Patiala was among the districts having the lowest female-male ratio in the country. She added that those disobeying the PNDT Act could be punished under the law.


New Special Secy (Public Works)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Postings/transfers were ordered today in Punjab. Dr Roshan Sunkaria has been appointed Special Secretary, Public Works (B&R) against a vacant post, and Mr Samir Kumar Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar, according to a press release.


Youths storm petrol station, loot Rs 8 lakh
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 9
People still looked scared around the petrol and diesel station on the National Highway No 15 outside Gumjal village where at least six armed youths stormed at 7.30 pm yesterday and looted approximately Rs 8 lakh at gunpoint.

Usmankhera Filling Station, 35 km from here on the Abohar-Sriganganagar road, is considered to be a flourishing business centre. The number of customers had increased here after the USA decided to strike back on the Taliban. As the rates in Punjab were less, the filling station had been attracting a large number of customers from the adjoining Sriganganagar district in Rajasthan.

Rajesh Kumar, cashier at the filling station, said he was busy putting cash in the bags to take these to Abohar when four youths stormed the room. All of them were carrying guns. Their faces were covered. One of them pointed a rifle at Rajesh and the other snatched the cash bag. Two of their accomplices were working as guards at the entry point.

Later, it was found that two other youths had detained a salesman, Surender Kumar, near the filling machine. They, too, were having rifles. After collecting the entire cash, all six persons, in the age group of 20-25, jumped the boundary wall and escaped.

Employees informed the owners of the filling station who are related to Mr Virendra Kataria, former MP. Khuiyansarwer police station was informed within half an hour. The SHO rushed to the site with other police personnel.

Mr H.P.S. Kang, SP (D) reached the filling station around 11.30 pm from the district headquarters and monitored the manhunt launched by the police. He was told that the suspects had fired a shot before fleeing to create-scare. Witnesses said customers, waiting near the filling station, preferred to run away when the suspects struck. More police force was deployed today to trace the suspects. A dog squad was called in from Ferozepore. The police has registered a case under Sections 382 and 34, IPC, and various Sections of the Arms Act.

The same petrol station was also looted two years ago. The culprits had injured a salesman then when he tried to resist.


Ropar DC’s car attached
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 9
Mr Roshan Lal Chauhan, Civil Judge, has issued warrants of attachment of the official car of the Deputy Commissioner (PB-12-0090) in an execution filed by Mrs Gurdev Kaur and others for the recovery of Rs 13,728 and has fixed the next date of hearing on November 27.

Jaswant Singh was working as junior assistant in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar. After his death, his wife, Gurdev Kaur, and daughter Jaswinder Kaur, filed a suit for the recovery of his service benefits and the suit was decreed on October 18, 1996, by the then Civil Judge, Mrs Gurmit Kaur Sekhon.

When the payment of this amount was not made, they filed a suit against the state of Punjab and the judge has ordered the attachment of the car of the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar.


SI arrested on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 9
Sleuths of the Vigilance Bureau have arrested Sub Inspector Fauja Singh while taking bribe of Rs 1000 from Mahinder Singh Mankeya Wali village for extending help in absolving charges framed against his wife Manjit Kaur in connection will the fake arms licence case.

According to the information, Manjeet Kaur, wife of Mohinder Singh who is sarpanch of Mankeya Wali village was arrested by the Haryana Police and lodged in a jail in Rohtak. Manjeet Kaur was charged with false attestation of the residential certificate in case of Ishwar Singh, son of Balvir Singh in order to help him get an arms licence the charges which she denied. She was released on bail. Sub-Inspector Fauja Singh who was posted in the same village demanded a bribe of Rs 5000 to help her in absolving the charges framed against her. A case has been registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In yet another incident, the Vigilance Bureau registered a case against Ajaib Singh, a resident of Gobindpura village who had earlier helped the Bureau to nab a Patwari, Prem Singh for allegedly demanding a bribe of Rs 800 from him for the transfer of mutation of his father’s land in the name of his brother and sister. Ajaib Singh was awarded with a sum of Rs 25000 by Punjab Government for extending cooperation to arrest a government employee while accepting a bribe. However, to everyone’s surprise while appearing in for evidence, he turned hostile and backtracked from the statement he had recorded earlier as a result the court ordered the release of the Patwari and registration of case against Ajaib Singh for his malafide intention to pocket the reward money.


Spate of thefts in Malerkotla
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, October 9
There is panic among the residents of Malerkotla and surrounding areas after a spate of thefts during the past 24 hours here in which gold ornaments, cash and other valuable goods worth lakhs were stolen.

According to sources, a four-member gang of thieves stole 340 gm of gold ornaments, watches, cash and other goods worth Rs 2 lakh from a house located inside Delhi Gate.

According to an FIR lodged with the police by Mohammad Amir Qureshi, the thieves broke open the locks of his house and took away the belongings.

In another incident, thieves broke into a television repair shop at Sirhandi Gate road and stole goods worth Rs 25,000. Electric motors and other equipment was stolen from a factory located in the Industrial Area.

Residents allege that they had requested the DSP to ensure round-the-clock police monitoring but to no avail. The people of the town have requested the higher police authorities to take necessary action in this regard.


Two gangs of robbers, murderers busted 
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 9
The Patiala police claims to have busted two gangs of robbers allegedly involved in various murder cases also.

According to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, 15 members of the gangs have been arrested under the drive.

The arrested persons have been identified as Hari Om alias Vijay, Shankar, alias Chaudhary, Jatinder Singh, Sudama alias Bitu, Rakesh alias Kala, Dinesh Beena, Narinder Singh alias Kala, Raju, Soni, Sanjay and Kaka, alias Aadhu. The police has recovered three pistols of .12 bore with eight cartridges, one pistol of .315 bore along with three cartridges, one pistol of .32 bore with two cartridges and six knives. Police sources said that by arresting the accused as many as 15 cases had been solved. Mr Grewal said these accused used to work in video shops during day time.

This gave them an opportunity to visit the residences of citizens on the pretext of delivering video cassettes.

On finding women of the house alone, the robbers, taking advantage of the situation, used to enter the house and commit robbery.

Cases have been registered.


Farmer murdered
Our Correspondent

Khanna, October 9
Jasbir Singh, a farmer of Naraingarh village, has been murdered allegedly by Joga Singh, a youth residing in his neighbourhood.

A case has been registered under Section 302 of the IPC. The accused has surrendered before the police.

According to sources, Jasbir was returning from his fields when Joga attacked him with a sword near his house.

Injured badly, members of his family took him to the local Civil Hospital where the doctors declared him brought dead. His body was handed over to the family after post-mortem.

The provocation behind the murder is stated to be a petty dispute between him and the accused.


JE murdered by colleague
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 9
A Junior Engineer (JE) of the PSEB was murdered allegedly by another Junior Engineer last night.

Davinder Singh was allegedly stabbed to death by Satpal. Professional rivalry is said to be the reason behind the murder.

According to Mr Rajesh Jaiswal, SP (city), a case has been registered against the accused on a complaint lodged by Jatinder Kaur, wife of the deceased.


Group song contest
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 9
The district unit of the Bharat Vikas Parishad, a socio-cultural organisation, organised a group song competition at the local SSD College.

Mr Lalit Sachdeva, secretary of district unit of the parishad, in a press note issued here yesterday, said Mr Jai Pal Garg presided over the function. Fourteen teams of students of various schools and colleges of the city participated.

He said in the senior students category, DAV College secured the first position and Arya Girls Senior Secondary School got the second position. In the junior students category, Kendriya Vidayala No. 3 got the first position and Satluj Public School was second.


Minister explains poor growth of industry
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 9
Due to paucity of funds the state government was not able to provide necessary financial help to industries in the previous years, which proved to be a hindrance in their development.

This was stated by Mr Jagir Singh, state Minister for Industries, while addressing mediapersons here today. He said when the SAD-BJP alliance took over power in the state its coffers were empty and thus the government was helpless in providing financial help to the industries.

Mr Jagir Singh said the state government was not able to give subsidy to small scale industries (SSIs) for about three years and the SSIs had suffered a lot due to this. The minister claimed that in the past few months the government had paid Rs 185 crore as subsidies for the establishment of different SSIs in the state. He said applications for obtaining subsidies were received during the financial years 1997-98 and 1998-99.

Mr Jagir Singh said subsidies amounting to Rs 500 crore would be given to the SSIs in the coming months. He said efforts would be made to obtain financial help from the Central Government for this purpose.

Speaking about problems faced by the industrialists at various departments like the Punjab State Electricity Board, Sales Tax Department and Octroi Department, he said to minimise such problems the single-window system had been introduced in the state.

The minister stressed the need for development of industries in the state as the agriculture sector alone would not be able to bear the burden of unemployment.

Mr Jagir Singh said efforts would be made to develop agro-based industries in the state. He said raw material for such industries was easily available here.

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