Friday, October 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Buta Singh, nephew to be summoned at Takht
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 18
Mr Buta Singh, a former Union Home Minister, has the dubious distinction of being summoned at Akal Takht for the second time. Earlier, he was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth for carrying out “kar sewa” of Akal Takht after “Operation Bluestar” in gross violation of the Sikh traditions. However, he atoned later for his religious misconduct.

Now ‘show-cause notices’ are being despatched to Mr Buta Singh, his nephew Joginder Singh Mann, a former Congress minister, Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, President of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Charnjit Singh Channi, a former member Parliament, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, a former Congress minister, Jathedar Satnam Singh, Nihang chief of the Taruna Dal, Mr Sukhdev Singh Badal, Sant Shamsher Singh Jagera and Sikh leaders of the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party and other parties.

When contacted, Mr Prithipal Singh, P.A. to Jathedar Vedanti, said that ‘show-cause notices’ would be issued to all Sikhs whose links had been established with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara. He said Akal Takht secretariat had been preparing the list of all those who pictures had been published in the “bhawsagar granth”.

The Akal Takht secretariat is also trying to procure the diary of Baba Bhaniara with the names of bureaucrats and politicians so that appropriate action could be taken against them.

Meanwhile, the directive of Akal Takht which had asked the Sikhs not to visit any dera are being violated by leaders of Akali factions. Sikh intellectuals feel that Akal Takht must take stringent action against such leaders. There are confirmed reports that leaders of various Akali factions have direct links with ‘deras’.

Interestingly, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a former SGPC President, had refused to comment when his attention was drawn towards the rising of ‘dera culture’ in Punjab. Though Mr Tohra remained staunch opponent of ‘deras’ yet it has become his ‘political compulsion’ to get the support of ‘sants’ in wake of the coming elections.

Meanwhile, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman of the Dal Khalsa, met Jathedar Vedanti at his residence and demanded strict action against the leaders who had found visiting ‘deras’. He said it was the need hour to strike at the root of the problem. He alleged that the issue of Baba Bhaniara was just a tip of the ice-berg. Leaders of all Akali factions who claimed to be ‘Panthic’ were found promoting the ‘dera culture’.

On the other hand, Sikh circles feel if the state government fails to tackle the problem properly, it would give an issue to radicals and rival Akali factions to criticise the government.

The allegations were also levelled against Mr Parkash Singh Badal who has been visiting ‘deras’ in violation of the Sikh “rehat maryada”.


Mann denies having written to Baba
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 18
The SAD (Amritsar) chief, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today denied that he had ever written any letter to Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara after the February 1998 parliamentary elections. He was referring to recent media reports claiming that he had communicated on record with the controversial baba.

Addressing a Press conference here today, Mr Mann, however, admitted that three letters had been written to the baba by the party general secretary, Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana.

He alleged that his signature carried on a letter, facsimile of which was published in a Punjabi daily, was forged. He also circulated his specimen signatures along with the newspaper report, asking mediapersons to compare the two.

Mr Mann was irked at a question whether he would resign as his party general secretary had written letters to the baba. He and his party had been demanding the resignation of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, holding him responsible for the actions of his minister Mr Gurdev Badal, who had visited the baba.

The SAD (A) chief said similar yardsticks could not be applied since Mr Badal was the head of the government and he shared collective responsibility. In his case, the party general secretary had written to the baba in a routine matter without his knowledge.

He clarified, it was a matter of routine that before every election the party formally wrote to about 570 babas, whose list was with the party, for their support. Another letter was written to them after the completion of the elections to express gratitude. He said “for that fault, Mr Tiwana has presented himself before Akal Takht”. Asked whether the party planned any action against Mr Tiwana, he retorted: “There cannot be two punishments for a single crime”.


SAD leaders object to Mann’s utterances
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
Two ruling SAD leaders, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, a member of the Political Affairs Committee and Cabinet Minister and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, party secretary, have taken exception to the “irresponsible” utterances of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and other leaders of the so-called Panthic Morcha inciting the peace-loving people of Punjab by using the language of violence.

In a joint statement issued today they asked Mr Mann and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to clarify whether they again wanted to bring back the dark phase in Punjab that caused misery and agony. They asked the two leaders to stop their attempts to lower the honour and dignity of the Sikh religion for their personal gains.

The statement said the Morcha leaders had a two-point agenda: helping anti-Panthic forces like the Congress and attempting to stab the Shiromani Akali Dal in the back. The people, they said, should not be misled.


Govt to take fresh decision on sacrilege
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 18
Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said with the Punjab and Haryana High Court expressing its inability to spare a judge to inquire into the various acts of sacrilege in the state, the Shiromani Akali Dal would meet shortly to take a fresh decision on what should be done in the matter.

Claiming that the government had acted swiftly and firmly in the case of burning of “Birs” at a sangat darshan programme held for the people of Dakala constituency near here, he said both the Panthic Morcha and the Congress were only using the issue for political purposes. When questioned about the appearance of the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo Kanshi Ram at Fatehgarh Sahib in support of the protest march, Mr Badal said too much should not be read into this. He said the situation would become clear only after a month or so when alliances between different political parties would take shape.

He said the Panthic Morcha was presently operating with the sole aim to destabilise him and had nothing to offer for the development of the state. He said by its recent activities it had only helped the Congress. He said his government on the other hand had covered nearly 80 per cent of the state through the sangat darshan programme and was bringing in swift development without any administrative delays.

The Chief Minister also announced that the government would investigate the sale of human organs in various parts of the state. He said he had ordered the police to conduct a district-level inquiry so that the practice could be tackled effectively.

The Chief Minister distributed grants worth Rs 3.50 crore to 44 village panchayats on the occasion. Besides, a grant of Rs 1.32 crore has been given for digging up of the Meeranpur choe.

The function was attended by Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Public Works Minister Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Subordinate Services Selection Board Chairman Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu and senior leaders Charanjit Singh Walia and Surjit Sing Rakhra.


Probe: Badal may look for other options
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
As the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has conveyed to the Punjab Government that it will not be possible to spare a judge for holding the judicial probe into the recent acts of sacrilege in the state, the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, may look for other options in this connection.

Mr H.S. Mattewal, Advocate General, Punjab, today confirmed the receipt of the letter from the Chief Justice.

Last week, while announcing a judicial probe by a sitting judge of the court, Mr Badal had requested the Chief Justice to spare a Judge for holding the probe.

The high court has only 30 judges on its rolls against the requirement of 40.

Perhaps, owing to the heavy workload and inadequate number of judges, the request of the Chief Minister has not been accepted by the Court.

Mr Badal had stated in a letter to the Chief Justice that the “government is keen that all facts and circumstances surrounding these incidents be unravelled and a thorough and independent investigation be conducted so that those responsible for committing this crime are brought to book at the earliest”.

Mr Badal may choose someone from the available retired judges of the court for the task.

Sources said that a number of retired judges were available in Chandigarh.

Mr Badal is not expected to accord official status to the probe panel of two retired judges and a Sikh scholar set up by the SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi. 


Harassment of Sikhs decreases: Australia
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
“The Australian Prime Minister has made it clear that there is no place for acts of religious intolerance,” says Mr Rob Laurie, Australian High Commissioner to India, claiming that complaints of harassment of Sikhs in his country after the September 11 terrorist attacks in the USA have decreased considerably.

In his reply to Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Minorities Commission, Mr Laurie said that a special hotline started by the New South Wales Community Relations Commission to deal with cases of religious intolerance in general and Sikhs in particular had been closed now.

Mr Tarlochan Singh had written to the High Commissioners of both Australia and New Zealand on October 3 to express concern over incidents of harassment of Sikhs as acts of religious intolerance after the September 11 terrorist attacks. He wanted the High Commissioners to take up the matter with their respective governments to ensure the safety of Indians settled in Australia in general and Sikhs in particular.

The hotline was set up to cater to the needs of Punjabi speakers after the Australian media reported that there had been a small number of cases of harassment of Sikhs following the terrorist attacks. The commission set up a special hotline so that members of the Sikh community could report such cases.

The Australian High Commissioner said that all such complaints received on the hotline were being dealt with by the authorities concerned.

All levels of the Australian Government as well as the wider community condemned such harassment and violence motivated by religious intolerance.

Even Prime Minister Howard had stated that there was no place in Australia for acts of religious intolerance, the Australian High Commissioner said in his letter.


Take charge of unmilled paddy, Punjab asks Centre
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
Upset over the “uncooperative attitude” of the Food Corporation of India regarding the milling of 4.5 lakh tonnes of paddy worth Rs 400 crore procured last year, the Punjab Government has urged the authorities concerned at the Centre to take possession of that paddy.

Informed official sources said that the milling of the paddy in question could not be done because the authorities were not ready to accept the rice prepared from it.

It was for the Centre to decide what to do with such paddy. The period of milling should be extended till December 31 or the paddy should be sold to millers and the sale proceeds reimbursed to Punjab which had procured the paddy on behalf of the FCI.

Meanwhile, the state government, which has come to the conclusion that the FCI is not showing the required interest in the procurement of paddy, has urged it to “gear up” the procurement operations. The FCI, which had procured 19.35 lakh tonnes of paddy (25.6 per cent of the total paddy procured by the government agencies) till last evening, is supposed to procure 30 per cent of the paddy as per its fixed share.

Years ago, when the procurement of paddy was a profitable venture for the FCI, it used to procure 40 per cent of the paddy in Punjab. However, as the procurement of paddy has become a liability for the FCI during the past three years because of the “surplus buffer stock of foodgrains”, the FCI has started cutting down its share.

To solve the problem of payment to farmers against paddy, the state government has asked the RBI to release Rs 1,700 crore more till October 31 and further Rs 400 crore in the first week of November. The Government has already utilised Rs 4,100 crore from the Rs 6,200 crore sanctioned by the RBI for paddy procurement.

Mr P. Ram, Secretary, Food and Supplies, Punjab, said that he was expecting the arrival of 115 lakh tonnes of paddy till November 15 which could be taken as the end of the procurement season. About 88 lakh tonnes of paddy had already been procured by the government and non-government agencies. The daily arrival of paddy was over 50,000 tonnes in Sangrur, Patiala and Ludhiana districts whereas in other districts the figure was below 1,4000 tonnes. He said that farmers faced no problem at any level as far as the sale of paddy was concerned.

As rice shelling had started, the government had decided to add covered storage facilities for about 22 lakh tonnes of rice. Punjab had about 80 lakh tonnes of rice in its godowns and about 70 lakh tonnes was expected to be added this year. Punjab had about 180 lakh tonnes of wheat in its stores.

“On the foodgrains front Punjab is facing an explosive situation and it requires to be tackled soon”, said Mr P. Ram. The offtake of rice and wheat from Punjab to deficit states was just 5-6 lakh tonnes per annum which was insignificant as compared to the total stock of foodgrains lying in the state.


Overseas job cell meant to help youth: Labour Dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
A spokesman for the Punjab Labour Department today clarified that the purpose of the overseas employment cell was to help youth get jobs. He was reacting to a news item in these columns on October 10.

The cell was established to save Punjabi youth from falling prey to unscrupulous agents who charged exorbitant amounts for sending them abroad.

The biodata of the registered candidates is displayed on the site overseas employment of the cell. This site is available on more than 500 search engines to employers all over the world. The cell, through its website, is acting as a link between employment seekers and employers.

A matching facility has been provided on the website. An employer, after getting himself registered with the cell, can give details of the vacancies available with him and search for suitable candidates, according to the spokesman.

The cell works on information received from employers through e-mail and on the basis of news in reliable and leading newspapers published in India.

It received an e-mail in which a keen desire was expressed for recruiting nurses and maths teachers from India.

The cell wanted to make candidates available to the employers abroad by putting their data on the site. Keeping this in view, qualified candidates registered with local exchanges were informed and given the option to register themselves with the cell.

He said that it was optional for the candidates registered with the employment exchanges or otherwise to get themselves registered with the cell. The cell in no way compelled candidates to pay the registration fee.

There was no question of either deceiving or fleecing candidates. The cell was working as a saviour and helping needy candidates get employment abroad without spending any money and was not like unscrupulous travel agents. Seventynine candidates (40 during the past six months) registered with the cell had been selected by various employers in Canada, the USA, the UK, Malaysia, Uganda, Bahrain, Qatar, New Zealand and Saudi Arabia.


Cong dharna fails to draw crowd
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 18
The much-hyped Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) dharna against the reinduction of Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister failed to attract much crowd or even half traffic at the BMC chowk here today.

Congressmen assembled at the chowk at 12.25 p.m. and stood in the middle of the chowk for barely 10 minutes before burning the effigy of Mr Fernandes. They also raised anti-BJP slongans.

Most of the Congress leaders, including CLP leader Jagjit Singh, PPCC, vice-president Avtar Henry and MP Balbir Singh, were seen posing for photographs by forming small groups. Later, most of them left in a hurry to attend a similar dharna at Kapurthala.

The president of the urban unit of district Congress, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee and his supporters chose to sit on the road for a few minutes to register their presence. Mr Raman Dutt, a Youth Congress leader, got injured as the leaders tried to burn the effigy of Mr Fernandes.

All of them left after they realised that no senior civil or police official had reached the spot to persuade them to lift the dharna. Traffic was moving uninterrupted throughout the dharna.

Senior Congress leaders are trying to get themselves photographed to show their presence through media to the high command that they have held a massive protest dharna here as per its directions. I feel ashamed of their behaviour since nobody has the time to sit on the road for couple of hours to show the strength of the Congress,” Mr Dilbagh Singh, a 60-year-old Congress worker said. Ms Kittu Grewal, a Mahila Congress leader, claimed that the dharna was successful.


Protest against George’s comeback
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 18
The District Congress Committee staged a massive dharna today in front of the Deputy Commissioner office as part of their national-level protest campaign against the reinstatement of Mr George Fernandes in the Union Cabinet as Defence Minister. The Congressmen raised slogans against the Vajpayee and Badal governments.

Addressing the dharna, Dr Sikandar Singh, president DCC, demanded the resignation of the Central Government for reinstating Mr Fernandes without the completion of ongoing inquiry against him and BJP’s former president for their involvement in corrupt practices, which were exposed by Tehelka. He said the Congress president, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, had raised the issue at that time and the party had arranged dharnas forcing Mr Vajpayee to drop Mr Fernandes from the Union Cabinet. He said Mr Vajpayee had brought him back feeling that the people had forgotten the Tehelka exposures as the attention was now directed towards American war against terrorism. He said Sonia Gandhi had again taken up the issue to disallow any ‘corrupt’ person from holding such office. He said the Congress party would force the Vajpayee government to drop him again.

Mr Gurdaman Singh, Makhan Lal Lalka, Dr Satya Rani, Dr Joginder Maini, Mr O.P. Shukla, Mr Gurdial Chand, Mr Ram Kewal Yadav, all senior leaders of the party, also addressed the dharna.

Later, the Congressmen, led by Dr Sikandar Singh, presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.


Cong dharna against George’s induction
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 18
The district Congress leadership today urged people to uproot the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre as it had become “anti-national” after inducting Mr George Fernandes into the Cabinet as Defence Minister.

Addressing a dharna staged by Congress workers in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office, various leaders alleged that the intention of the NDA government had become clear after the recent Cabinet expansion.

Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, president of the District Congress Committee (DCC), alleged that Mr Fernandes was directly involved in defence deals bunglings as exposed by and an inquiry against him was yet to be completed.

His induction into the Cabinet had shown how serious the Prime Minister was about the safety and security of the country, he said.

Mr Surinder Kapoor, former minister, said by extending unconditional support to the USA in its campaign against Afghanistan, the Centre had bartered away the security interests of India at a time when cross-border terrorism was claiming lives in Jammu and Kashmir.

Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, general secretary of the DCC, said in Punjab, the SAD-BJP combine government had been cheating the public by reneging on pre-poll promises.

He said on the one hand Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal announced the abolition of octroi while on the other hand, three municipal councillors of Bathinda belonging to the SAD and a former municipal councillors of the BJP had moved court against the proposal.

A number of Congress workers who had submitted their application for ticket for the coming Assembly elections about two months ago were conspicuous by their absence.


Preneet wrongly criticised: Kapur
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 18
Former MP and Senior Congress leader Satpal Kapur today said former Minister Brahm Mohindra had wrongly condemned party MP Preneet Kaur for violating discipline by projecting PPCC president Amarinder Singh as candidate for the local Assembly seat.

In a statement here, he said more than 1,000 persons, including members of the District Congress Committee and block presidents, met the Congress observer sent recently by the AICC and demanded that ticket should be given to Capt Amarinder Singh.

More than 35 meetings had been held in the city and residents welcomed Capt Amarinder Singh's candidature from the city Assembly seat, he claimed.

Mr Kapur said he had also recently met party general secretary in charge of Punjab, Mr Moti Lal Vora, and party president Sonia Gandhi and supported the candidature of Capt Amarinder Singh.


Collecting food, endangering lives
Gayatri Rai

Bathinda, October 18
As soon as procurement season for wheat and paddy starts in the state, a number of poor people descend on main and interior roads criss-crossing the state to gather scattered foodgrains.

Unmindful of the risk to their lives caused due to inhaling of paddy and wheat husk and from harmful emissions of the traffic running at breakneck speed, they work for hours on roads, separating the edible part from the produce. Even small children are made to help in this work. The season is the time for them most of whom are jhuggi-dwellers, to hunt for food.

They collect the produce dropped from trucks and tractor-trailers loaded with wheat and paddy or from mandis left by farmers. Then it is cleaned and used as food or sold to buy some other eatables. They are compelled to do it as now they were not getting much options to work labour because of mechanisation of agriculture and loss in agriculture activities due to various calamities.

But this food gathering cost them dear as in the process of cleaning it manually they fell victim to a number of skin and respiratory diseases. Though they are aware of it yet they have little choice. As whole family take part in the process, they bring infants with them and risk their lives too.

The process has an ugly face. The husk spreads in the air when cleaned with “chaj” and it create trouble for drivers. This husk sometimes fall in eyes of drivers causing the loss of control over vehicles. It also causes slipping of vehicles.

Sometimes these people collect the left-out in fields especially when the crop is cut by combine-harvester. They cut this left over crop and lay it on main roads for crushing by vehicular traffic for separating the edible portion.

This creates traffic hazards, causing slipping of vehicles. Sometimes they are so lost in their cleaning work that they became unmindful of fast vehicles. Many of them have received injuries in this manner. Infants many a times also come on the busy road while playing or crawling.

They leave the remaining portion on the roadside which adds to the air pollution. Scattered husk causes breathing problems for persons residing nearby.

The fact remains that this food-hunting endangers others lives and their own.


Enhanced security for Samjhauta Express
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 18
In view of the growing anti-Indian frenzy in Pakistan, the India Government has sounded red alert and enhanced security for the Samjhauta Express.

Intelligence agencies reveal that holidays for security staff have been “put on hold” in anticipation of retaliatory action following the alleged stone-pelting incident on the Samjhauta Express on Monday at Wagah.

Though the incident is unconfirmed, security agencies are taking contingency measures to thwart any retaliatory attempt that could create communal tension.

Approximately 1,990 personnel of the general railway police (GRP) currently patrol the track up to Ambala from where the Haryana and Delhi GRP take over, Mr Jarnail Singh Chel, Director-General Police, GRP, when contacted in Patiala, said. He admitted that there was inadequate security to man the tracks in view of renewed threat and apprehensions of sabotage.

He said he had written several times to the government for more security after the September 11 attacks, but the authorities had taken no notice of the requests.

Meanwhile, a high-powered meeting was reportedly held in Patiala between the IG (Police), Mr P.M. Das, Mr Mansingh, AIG, and Mr Chel. It was, however told that the meeting was a routine matter.

According to sources, a new bimonthly schedule of the Samjhauta Express will be in place by November 4.


No tubewell despite CM’s orders
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, October 18
Though the Punjab Chief Minister had instructed the local municipal corporation authorities to get a tubewell dug within three months for providing drinking water supply to residents of the local Basti Pirdad and adjoining localities during his ‘sangat darshan’ programme five months ago, the latter has failed to complete the task so far, forcing the residents to live under miserable conditions.

Residents of Basti Pirdad, Rohini Colony, Dashmesh Nagar, Bajwa Colony, Hitler Colony and Raja Garden complained to the Chief Minister during his ‘sangat darshan’ here on May 21 that there was acute shortage of drinking water supply in these colonies which has severely hit life for the past four years.

Subsequently, Mr Parkash Singh Badal ordered the then civic body chief, Dr Roshan Sunkaria, to get a tubewell dug in Basti Pirdad Colony within three months.

When this correspondent visited these localities yesterday, it was found that contrary to the assurances given by the civic officials in the presence of the Chief Minister, the work on the project was incomplete, forcing the residents to cover a stretch of 2 km to get a bucket of water from nearby localities.

Interestingly, residents, particularly women of Basti Pirdad, mistook this correspondent for a civic body official and started hurling questions regarding completion of work on this tubewell. More than 10,000 residents of six colonies are suffering due to the “indifferent” approach of the civic authorities on the issue.

Womenfolk have to wait for hours in long queues to get a bucket of water from hour civic water taps installed in Basti Pirdad.

Mr Rajesh Kalia, a resident of Bajwa Colony, said: “The indifferent attitude of the officials towards our problems can be gauged from the fact that though the Chief Minister had sanctioned funds for laying water supply lines in the locality and specifically instructed to complete work within three months, the authorities concerned are yet to start work, even after a period of five months.

The residents are forced to live under miserable conditions due to drinking water scarcity. Though they have met the Superintending Engineer, Mr A.K. Parbhakar, several times nothing concrete has been done beyond hollow promises, alleged Mr Raghbir Singh of Dashmesh Nagar.

When contacted, Mr A.S. Dhaliwal, Executive Engineer, admitted that the work on the tubewell was still pending. “The drinking water will be supplied to all localities within 20 days as we are going to install a pump and motor on the site within 10 days. Moreover, the PSEB authorities have assured that power connection for the tubewell will be released immediately after the installation of machinery”, he added.


Riots panel members meet DC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 18
Office-bearers of the district unit of the 1984 Sikh Parwasi Sangharsh Committee today met the Deputy Commissioner and urged him to allot houses and flats to them as were given to riot victims in other districts.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Gurmeet Singh, press secretary of the union, said they had urged the Deputy Commissioner to implement the decision of the state government to give houses to the victims of 84 anti-Sikh riots.

The deputation of the union was led by Mr Karam Singh, president of the district unit of the union. Mr Ajaib Singh, secretary, Mr Dalip Singh, vice president, Mr Uttam Singh, Mr Upkar Singh and Manjit Singh, all members of the union were also present.

Mr Gurmeet Singh said they had urged the Deputy Commissioner to speed up the process. He said as per their information the necessary records had reached the office. The reports had been submitted by the authorities concerned, he added.


Quacks thrive on gullibility
Ravi Bhushan Puri

Quacks are ruling the roost here, exploiting gullible patients looking for a cure for various diseases.

These quacks, posing as “sex experts,” have put up impressive hoardings at the bus stand and the railway station and work from makeshift “clinics” in hotels in the area. Their visits are regularly announced in vernacular papers and handbills inserted in the newspaper supply.

The quacks, who charge an exorbitant fee, profess to cure impotence, AIDS, cancer and even infertility.

Most of the quacks claim the medicines prepared by them are based on secret formulae which are not known to doctors following the allopathic, homoeopathic, Unani or ayurvedic systems.

An opium addict (name not disclosed) said a quack operating from a hotel on Railway Road charged him Rs 12,000 for deaddiction treatment for a month. He was told that he would be cured within that period. However, he later found that the black pills he was asked to take thrice a day by the quack contained opium.

When this correspondent visited the clinic of the quack, he denied that his medicine contained opium but refused to give a sample of the medicine .

Similarly, an Army man who was seeking a cure for impotence also fell into the trap of a quack. The patient was charged Rs 8,000 for a week’s treatment. When the treatment proved ineffective, the Army man demanded his money back, but the quack refused to return it. When a scuffle ensued, shopkeepers intervened and the money was finally returned.

According to sources, more than 100 quacks are thriving in the area in connivance with government health officials. 


Shortage of KVPs irks residents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 18
Post offices in the city are facing an acute shortage of Kisan Vikas Patras ( KVPs). After standing in long queues for hours, people are being turned back by officials who are also finding it difficult to cope with the rush and the inquiries on the KVPs.

Sources reveal that the KVPs issued in 1993 are out of stock and that there is a difference in terms and conditions of these patras as compared to those issued earlier.

A post office employee, confirming the shortage, said 25 patras received a few days ago were not enough to meet the demand for the same.

A customer at the main post office pointed out that one of the difficulties being faced by them was that even the few patras available were of low denomination. He said the highest denomination patra available was of Rs 500. Hence, those wanting to save money in lakhs would not be able to do so by purchasing these patras.

This is nothing new for the post offices here which are often plagued with such shortages. A few months ago all financial transaction had come to a standstill since revenue stamps were not available in the post offices. A senior official at the GPO admitted that there was shortage in the supply of patras for the past two days.


Three-day cultural mela on Nov 3
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 18
The annual three-day 10th International Salamat Ali Nazaqat Ali Cultural Mela, dedicated to the memory of renowned classical singer Ustad Salamat Ali Khan, will be held at Sham Chaurasi village in Hoshiarpur on November 3.

Apart from presentation of folk songs and poetry, a “dhadi darbar” will be held. Persons from different walks of life who have contributed towards the enrichment of Punjabi culture would be honoured during the mela.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Mr Gurmit Khanpuri, chairman and Mr Daljit Singh, president of the mela committee, said mela would begin with the recitation of Gurbani.

“We have decided to organise special competitions for the youth on the second day. The winners will be awarded with mementos,” they said. “The mela will be dedicated to the memory of renowned classical singer, Ustad Salamat Ali Khan,” Mr Khanpuri said.


One gets death sentence
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 18
Mr R.P. Nagrath, Additional Sessions Judge, Sangrur, today awarded death sentence to Resham Pal Singh in a case in which four persons were murdered in May 1991 at Bishangarh grid of the PSEB near Sandaur village in this district.

Resham Pal Singh was also fined Rs 50,000 and was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment under Section 307 of the IPC in this case.

Those who were murdered with a rifle by Resham Pal Singh included Mohinder Singh, Gurmail Singh, both PSEB employees, and Paramjit Kaur. A baby was injured in this incident. Resham Pal Singh was a daily wager in the PSEB.


Garbage collection scheme launched
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 18
A door-to-door garbage collection scheme covering about 1,500 households and commercial establishments was launched in the Tripuri township here today by the Municipal Corporation.

The Corporation Commissioner Mr K. S. Kang said the garbage collection scheme was the first step towards the implementation of a Municipal Solid Waste Programme launched by the corporation in the city as per the guidelines of the Management & Handling Rules, 1999, regarding municipal solid waste. He said the project would be implemented in a phased manner in different parts of the city and could be fully operational by the end of the year 2003. Apart from door-to-door garbage collection, covered garbage containers duly guarded by sweepers would be placed at key points in the locality. The Patiala Municipal Corporation Health Officer, Dr D. C. Sharma, stated that the garbage would be collected from the doorsteps of the people.


OT assistants seek free accommodation
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, October 18
The Punjab State Senior Operation Theatre Assistant Union in a press note issued here today demanded free accommodation for the operation theatre (OT) assistants in Punjab.

Mr Neel Kamal, state president of the union, said operation theatre assistants had a strict 24 hours duty during which they had to assist in emergency surgery treatments.

He alleged that two operation theatre assistants were working in the civil hospital here but none of them had the accommodation facility in the hospital, due to which patients had to suffer.


Minister lauds role of youth clubs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 18
For a healthy society, the youth should use their energy in social welfare works, instead of indulging in anti-social activities. This was stated by Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Minister for Science and Technology, while inaugurating a cultural programme organised by the local Guru Teg Bahadur Youth and Welfare Club here last night.

He said youth clubs in the state could be useful for society. He appreciated the efforts of these clubs in activities like medical check-up and blood donation camps and sports and cultural programmes.

The audience which wanted to listen to singers got impatient when Mr Garg changed the topic of his speech and started asking for votes. He had to cut short his speech when the audience started hooting.

Later, various Punjabi folk singers, including Hardev Mahinangal, Balbir Chotian, Harpal Pali and Guljinder Gullu, regaled the audience. The programme continued till midnight.

Mr Harjeet Singh, president of the club, said there was no entry fee for the programme. He said the expenses were borne by office-bearers of the club.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Sandhu, general secretary of the club, said a free medical check-up camp would be organised with the help of a charitable hospital. He said volunteers of the club would also donate blood at the camp which would be organised next month.


Austerity steps at engineers’ cost: association
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 18
The PSEB Engineers’ Association yesterday condemned the irrational and arbitrary decision of the board to downgrade the admissibility and rates of travelling expenses.

In a statement here today, the association general secretary, Mr Anil Miglani, said in the revised criteria, even Chief Engineers had been clubbed with grade II and Assistant Engineers with grade IV.

He said was not only an “irrational and ridiculous” step, but also an attempt to lower the status of engineers vis-a-vis their counterparts in other government and public sector undertakings.

The association leader said he was not against austerity measures but these must be logical and aimed to curb wasteful expenditure without affecting efficiency.

“The association is pained to observe that the so-called austerity measures undertaken by the board are a mere eyewash with the sole purpose to distract the attention of the public from real causes for the virtual financial bankruptcy of the PSEB”.

He said the board would not be able to save even Rs 1 crore by curtailing travelling expenses, whereas the annual loss of the board was expected to be over Rs 1,600 crore during the current financial year.

Condemning the “penny wise, pound foolish” approach of the board, he said the recent decision of the board to grant tariff concession to a particular section of society along with lowering tariff rates to domestic consumers had resulted in a loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 120 crore annually.

The board had issued instructions on the directive of the state government to regularise more than 40,000 temporary tubewell connections by charging Rs 5000 instead of Rs 10,000 per BHP, resulting in a further loss of Rs 100 crore. The losses on account of these “populist” measures were in addition to a loss of Rs 1500 crore, which the board had been suffering annually for the past five years on account of free power to the agricultural sector.


Punjab to reactivate crisis group
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
Following some reports of panic over perceived chemical and biological threats, Punjab has decided to reactivate the Crisis Group for the Management of Chemical Accidents.

This group (with sub-groups in each district) was primarily constituted in the Department of Science, Technology, Environment and Non-Conventional Energy to deal with major chemical accidents and provide expert guidance on handling emergencies. This was notified on September 18, listing the composition of the sub-groups for each district as well.

The Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Mr Rajan Kashyap, had suggested to the government to entrust this group with the job of dealing with chemical and biological threats.

A meeting of the state-level group is expected to be convened shortly to assess the situation and the state of preparedness. The Department of Health and Family Welfare is in the process of preparing a comprehensive background paper on the subject. A list of possible chemical agents, viruses and bacteria and their antidotes has already been prepared.

Mr Kashyap told TNS today that he had written to all deputy commissioners, SSPs and civil surgeons on the subject advising that the sub-groups should be activated and meetings convened preparing a blueprint to educate people in this regard. Besides the state control room there would be one such room in each district, manned by the assistant civil surgeon.

The state-level group has been constituted under the Chemical Accidents (Emergency, Planning, Preparedness and Response) Rules, 1996, as per the guidelines of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests. The group would monitor, review and examine emergency plans and adequacy regarding the manufacture, storage and import of hazardous chemicals and enable the state to take appropriate steps. The group will meet at least once in three months.


New SP (HQ) at Ropar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
The Punjab Government ordered the following postings and transfers in the Police Department today:

Mr S.C. Jain, Additional Director-General of Police, Computer and Wireless, will also look after the work of the Additional Director-General of Police, Vigilance, Punjab State Electricity Board.

Mr Gurmeet Singh becomes Assistant Commandant of a PAP Battalion in Chandigarh while Mr Dharam Singh goes as Superintendent of Police, Headquarters, Ropar. Mr R.P.S. Bajwa has been posted as Superintendent of Police, Vigilance Bureau, Ludhiana.


Rakesh Nath takes over as BBMB chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 18
Mr Rakesh Nath, yesterday took over as Chairman, BBMB. Born on May 21, 1950, he passed B.Sc Engineering with Honours from Punjab Engineering College, Chandigarh. Prior to joining BBMB, he was holding dual charge of the posts of Whole Time Director, Power Trading Corporation and Chief Engineer, Central Electricity Authority.

Mr Nath has worked for more than 28 years in the power sector in different organisations.

As Member-Secretary of Northern Regional Electricity Board and Western Regional Electricity Board, the two largest regional grids of the country, he had an opportunity to deal with inter-state issues relating to power system operation and during his tenure a large number of technical and commercial issues could be resolved amicably.


Crime by migratory labourers rising
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 18
Crimes by migratory labourers is on the rise and an order passed by the District Magistrate, Mr R. Venkatratnam that all migratory labourers shall be registered in the nearest police stations had not checked it.

A month ago a migrant labourer who was working as a domestic help allegedly looted the house of his employer with the help of his three accomplices. In another case a maid servant was arrested by the police as she allegedly wrote threatening letters to his employer, who is an industrialist, seeking money.

Though the police authorities have been keeping a close watch on the activities of suspected persons in the district and has claimed many breakthroughs also but without cooperation from the public, not much has been achieved. Last year police of this region had sleepless nights as robberies by the Kale Kachchewale gang had increased manifolds and more than 10 persons were killed. Most of the members of the gang were found to be from Madhya Pradesh and Bihar.

The District Magistrate passed an order under Section 144 asking all employers of the migratory labourers to get them registered at the nearest police stations. The landlords were also asked by the District Magistrate to get their tenants registered at the nearest police station.

The police authorities obtained finger prints, local permanent addresses and photographs of the migratory labourers from the shopkeepers and some of the industrialists. As the region is the traditional cotton belt, generally they shift to other districts or to their home towns from May to November the sources said.

Most of the labourers generally lie about their residential background and carry no identity cards with them. In most of the cases the culprits commit a crime at one place and shift to another to avoid police action, sources said.

Dr Jatinder Jain, SSP said the police was registering the migratory labourers and more than 1000 had been registered. Coordination of the public was very much needed in this task, he said.

The District Magistrate said all officers had been directed to ensure that the migrant residents were registered with local police authorities. 


Assailants kill 1, injure four of family
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 18
Balbir Chand was shot dead while his mother Parkash Kaur, daughter Savita Rani, brother Mohan Lal and another close relative Prem Singh sustained injuries, when six armed assailants opened fire on them and attacked them with sharp-edged weapons at Mansoorpur village late last night.

The police said the assailants wanted to get the house vacated from Balbir Chand’s family. The house belongs to an NRI Nasib Chand.

A case has been registered under Sections 302, 148, 149, 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act against Chhinder Paul, Chotta, Harwinder Singh and Yash Paul. The body of the deceased was handed over to the family after a postmortem examination. The injured were admitted in the local Civil Hospital. 


Man crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 18
One person was crushed to death when his scooter was hit by a local municipal corporation truck near Nakodar Chowk here today.

According to the police, Sanjeev Kumar (30), a resident of Sat Nagar locality, was approaching the chowk on his scooter when the truck lost its control and hit his scooter. Sanjeev fell on the road and was crushed by the truck. He died on the spot.

A case has been registered.


Unit making fake speakers unearthed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 18
The police today unearthed a factory manufacturing fake speakers under the brand name of international company, Pioneer, and a Delhi-based company, Universal.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, district police chief, in a press note issued here today, said Vijay Kumar and Som Nath, local residents, who had been running their factory in Bhaika locality, were arrested today.

The accused used to manufacture fake box of speakers and put a fake seal of reputed brand name on these and sell these to unsuspecting buyers on the same brand rate.

The police seized 42 boxes with fake speakers, mobile sound speakers, speaker case and other equipment. The accused confessed selling fake speakers in Bathinda, Jaitu, Rampura, Tapa, Barnala, Moga and Dabwali areas.


Online courses soon by GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 18
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, said yesterday that the university planned to start from next year a job-oriented distance education programme for students of areas that did not fall within the jurisdiction of the university.

The scheme would include other states within the country and foreign countries. He was talking to mediapersons at the local Guru Nanak College after inaugurating Guru Gobind Singh Block of the college.

Giving details of the proposed scheme, Dr S.P. Singh said it would be imparted online as well as through study centres which would also be set up abroad for the benefit of NRIs. Quality education in new courses like multi-media, B.Tech, IT and computers would be given on online and lessons sent through e-mail.

Guru Nanak Dev University would become the first to provide distance education through website codes, claimed the VC. The scheme would be self-financed.

Plans were afoot for a basic shift in higher education with a provision of Rs 1000 crore additional budget for it by the Centre. The Planning Commission had agreed in principle to include higher education in “productive Plan”.

The VC said the university had taken steps to promote research, Punjabi and “book culture”. A sum of Rs 15 lakh had been earmarked for promotion of Punjabi language. University work had been started in Punjabi and “my own car carries the nameplate in Punjabi”, Dr S.P. Singh, known for his commitment to Punjabi language, said.

Earlier, he addressed students. He was felicitated with a silver plaque by the management, staff and students. The Punjabi Lekhak Sabhas of Palahi Phagwara and the host college honoured Dr S.P. Singh with a shawl for his outstanding services to the Punjabi language.

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