Sunday, October 21, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Complaint against another ‘dera’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 20
Even as the Sikh high priests, the ruling Akali Dal and the SGPC are yet to douse the flames generated by the sordid episode of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, another complaint of sacrilege had been made against a woman of Verka, near here.

The chairman of the market committee, Mr Sukhraj Singh, and many leaders of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal and religious societies have lodged a written complaint with the Jathedar, Akal Takht, for seeking prompt action against the ‘dera’ which has sprung up recently. 

The complainants, who met Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, alleged that the woman had indulged in “anti-Sikh” activities.

Mr Prithipal Singh, personal assistant to Jathedar Vedanti, said that Akal Takht would take action against the ‘dera’ of the woman. He said the Akal Takht secretariat would send a fact-finding team to ascertain the details of the allegations made in the complaint. 

Those who met the Jathedar include Mr Sukhdip Singh, Mr Sewa Singh, Mr Gurmej Singh, Mr Amrit Singh, Mr Parmbir Singh, Bibi Surinder Kaur, Mr Prithipal Singh, Mr Jatinder Singh Laadi and Mr Karam Singh Sukha.

The complainants alleged that the woman boasts that the 10 Sikh Gurus had visited her ‘dera’ and that is why she had put up 10 “gaddis” there. They further alleged that the woman had been misleading the Sikh “sangat”.

However, when contacted the ‘baba’ (woman) denied the allegations levelled against her and the dera. She said she had been asking the Sikh “sangat” to bow before Guru Granth Sahib only. She said there was some “deep-rooted” conspiracy to defame the dera. 

She further said that she never claimed that the 10 Sikh Gurus had visited the place. She further clarified that no “gaddi” had been put up at the dera as alleged in the complaint. She claimed that earlier a fact-finding committee of the “taraksheels” could not find anything objectionable at the dera.


Baba’s ‘illegal’ brick-kiln sealed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 20
The district administration has sealed the brick-kiln allegedly being operated illegally by Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara near his dera in Nurpurbedi.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, told newsmen that a case under the Punjab Control Brick Supplies Price and Distribution Control Act, 1998, had been registered against the Baba for operating an illegal brick-kiln. 

3 ‘deras’ looted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 20
A gang of more than 20 masked armed robbers looted three deras at Haripur Khalsa village and Akalpur in Phillaur subdivision last night.

According to reports received here today, they first struck at the Haripur Khalsa dera and decamped with Rs 38,000 and some gold ornaments.

They then went to the dera of Deep Singh at Akalpur village and took away Rs 20,000 and gold ornaments.

In their third attempt, they struck at another dera in the same village and took away Rs 35,000 and twenty tolas of gold ornaments.


SGPC had honoured a ‘tankhaiya’?
Varidner Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 20
Did Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi honoured an ex-communicated Sikh with a “siropa” during the visit of the then British Columbia premier Ujjal Dosanjh last year?

Yes, he did. At a function organised in Amritsar on December 22 last year, the SGPC chief had honoured the ex-communicated man, Kashmir Singh who, had come along with Mr Dosanjh. Kashmir Singh, a record secretary, of the Khalsa Dewan Society, Vancouver, was among the six foreign based Sikhs ex-communicated by the then Akal Takht Jathedar, Bhai Ranjit Singh, on July 25, 1998 over the “langer” controversy. The six — Giani Harkirat Singh, former Head Granthi of Ross Street gurdwara, Balwant Singh, president, Guru Nanak Sahib, Gurdwara, Surrey, Ratan Singh, Tara Singh, Editor Indo-Canadian Times, Jarnail Singh, senior vice-president, Khalsa Dewan Society, and Kashmir Singh — were also adjudged “tankhaiyas” as they had failed to present themselves at Akal Takht to put forth their view.

Following the directive of Akal Takht Jathedar, Rattan Singh, one of the six ex-communicated Sikhs was forgiven by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, even as the others did not plead for their reinduction into the panth as the controversy regarding partaking of “langar” on chairs in foreign gurdwara had subsided.

Mr Talwandi and Mr Vedanti were not available for comment despite repeated efforts. Former Akal Takht Jathedar Ranjit Singh said if such a development had taken place it was painful for every Sikh. “Any such person should seek forgiveness first and then he or she was eligible for his re-induction into the panth”. Mr Talwandi’s family members at his Ludhiana residence maintained that he was doing “path” and could not talk anybody till 8 p.m.


Letter triggers anthrax scare
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
The anthrax scare has hit the city with a resident reporting receipt of a suspicious letter from Singapore following which he suffered a cold and is also suspecting a chest congestion.

Commander K.D.S. Sandhu (retd), a Shaurya Chakra winner, told TNS that he had only woken up to the threat posed by a packet he received from Singapore yesterday when he saw similar envelopes being shown on a Television in which it was stated that they were being sent for testing to ascertain whether they carried the anthrax virus.

He said only when he saw the warnings on the television did he have a second look at the envelope contained in the packet sent from The Economist magazine from Singapore. He said the inside envelope contained a list of names in a column starting from Richard Branson, Lee Kwan Yew, George W Bush, Kim Dae Jung, Aung San Sui Kyi, P J Keating and Bill Gates all of which had been crossed over and which were followed by his name.

He said shortly after the arrival of the packet he started experiencing a cold and afterwards also felt as if he had congestion in his chest, all classical signs of the anthrax virus. He said though right now he felt somewhat okay he had been distressed by reports in the Press which said the virus sometimes remained dormant for some days after the first attack but could be fatal in the second attack.

Commander Sandhu has talked to his doctor and been recommended dosage to tackle any eventuality. He said he wanted other city residents to be cautious of foreign mail being received by them adding he had contacted the Police Control Room to tell them about the receipt of the suspicious letter but had not got any response.

He said he had received the packet from the Asia Pacific Circulation Director of The Economist adding the address on the packet was similar to the one submitted by him to Time magazine of which he was a regular subscriber. He said he was a well travelled man and also had the distinction of being a member of the first Indian expedition to Antarctica. He has also been awarded the Shaurya Chakra for showing conspicuous bravery by making daring recoveries during the course of the expedition.

Meanwhile, inquires at the local Head Post Office here revealed that the staff had not been given any directions to vet any suspicious letter received from abroad and was not monitoring foreign mail. In fact it was revealed that most of the staff did not know that mail from abroad could be used to spread the deadly anthrax virus. Meanwhile, Municipal Corporation officials disclosed that they had enough stock of Ciprofloxacin medicine to tackle any anthrax related problems in the city.



BJP plans ‘rath yatra’ in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
For quite some time a silent, ‘saffron’ surface wind has been blowing across Punjab. as the BJP, has slowly but surely dug its heels even in villages.

The BJP has quietly worked on the analogy of “rural character’’ in respect of 70 per cent of the 23 Assembly constituencies that it had contested (winning 18 seats in 1997), giving it a foothold to work on a rural organisational set-up. Given the nature of the BJP’s political partnership with the SAD, its leadership thought it prudent to nurse these 23 constituencies, as also spread its wings. In the process, the BJP today claims to have a visible presence in six more constituencies like Budhlada, Barnala, Bathinda, Balluana, Balachaur etc.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal; state BJP general secretary, today seemed not only optimistic of re-forming the government but reasoned why the SAD-BJP Government was needed in Punjab for another five years. He is aware of the conflicts and contradictions between the two parties. Going beyond the myopic political vision, he says: “More than anything else, it is imperative that a correct and strong signal of communal amity and peace prevailing in Punjab because of the two partners is transmitted across the nation’’. To the BJP’s organisational wing, numbers do not matter as to how many seats the BJP would claim or wish to contest. What is important to the BJP is that winnable candidates should be put up to defeat the Congress and its allies.

Mr Jaiswal keeps a low profile, providing logistic support to the state BJP President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, who operates at the grassroots. What matters to both is the morale of the “karyakartas’’ who must be educated on wider issues broadening their perspective rather than getting entangled in minor ego hassles within or outside the party. The very presence of Mr Rinwa and the nomination of Ms Gurcharan Kaur to the Rajya Sabha from Malwa has sent out the message that recognition is not elusive for the committed workers.

The BJP today has its cells in 5,000 villages spread across its 23 district units and 140 mandals. Unlike the SAD, whole-time attention is paid to these “shakti kendras’’. In the run-up to the Assembly elections, meetings of “karyakartas’’ are under way in the state. In fact the forthcoming meeting of the BJP national executive in Amritsar, in the first week of November has afforded the organisational wing an opportunity to re-charge its batteries and prepare for the political assault on the Congress.

Mr Jaiswal disclosed that by November-end it was proposed to take out a “rath yatra’’ to highlight the “achievements’’ of the SAD-BJP Government in all 23 districts (constituencies) and hold at least two major functions in each, covering urban and rural segments. These will be addressed jointly by SAD, BJP leaders. Already senior BJP ministers in the NDA Government and in the organisation, who have roots in Punjab, have held a conclave in New Delhi, where poll strategies have been discussed. They would participate in the “rath yatra’’.

Coinciding with the national executive meeting, the BJP is organising a “sammelan’’ of “parmukh karyakartas’’ of Punjab to be addressed by the party chief, Mr K. Janakrishnamurthy.

Mr Jaiswal is clear that the poll planks will be “development, peace, brotherhood, amity and farmers’ interests. He is conscious of the “incumbency’’ factor that is likely to crop up. The SAD-BJP he says, has set in motion an “operation clean-up’’ after the mess left behind by the Congress. ‘’We have inherited a poor legacy that smacks of divide and rule pursued by the Congress all these decades. The situation now is different. When I say the SAD-BJP combine requires another five-year term, it is to ensure that no remnants of that ill-conceived legacy are left’’, Mr Jaiswal says. 


Revive youth wings of SAD: Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 20
In view of the ensuing Punjab Assembly elections, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is actively working on a proposal to revive the Youth and Women wings of the party.

Talking to this reporter at the local PWD rest house today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemical and Fertilisers, and Secretary-General of the SAD, said Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal had been asked to revive these wings before the ensuing Assembly elections.

Mr Dhindsa also stated that there were no possibilities of an alliance with the Panthic Morcha at this stage. He said legal opinion would be sought from the Legal Remembrancer and the Advocate-General, Punjab, to hold an inquiry into the case of sacrilege of Sri Guru Granth Sahib allegedly by the followers of Piara Singh Bhaniarawala.

But the final decision in this regard would be taken after holding discussions at the meetings of the district presidents of the SAD, working committee of the SAD, and the PAC of the SAD on October 22 in Chandigarh, he added.


Kapoor made JD (U) chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 20
Mr Sharad Yadav, president of the Janata Dal (United), has appointed Mr Jaspal Singh Kapoor as president of the Punjab state unit of the Janata Dal (U).

This was informed by Mr Arun Kumar Srivastava, secretary of the dal.


Harpreet case committed to sessions court
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 20
A special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court today committed the case involving the alleged murder of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of a former SGPC President, Bibi Jagir Kaur, in which the Bibi along with six others are accused, to the sessions court.

The Special Magistrate, CBI, Mr Jaspinder Singh Heyer, today committed the case to the sessions court after the completion of the cross-examination of Dr Balwinder Singh Sohal, the doctor from whom one of the accused allegedly took sleeping tablets to administer them to Harpreet to facilitate her illegal operation, who had turned approver in the case.

Earlier, while cross-examining Dr Sohal, the former SGPC chief’s counsel Satnam Singh Cler asked him as to how long he had known Paramjit Singh Raipur, an accused in the case. Dr Sohal told counsel that he had first met Raipur at a function organised in the Begowal dera in 1996. He had been introduced to him by the manager of the dera, Baldev Singh.

When counsel asked Dr Sohal why he had been introduced to Raipur when there were 50,000 more persons attending the function, the doctor said he had been told that Raipur was an Akali leader. Dr Sohal also claimed that he had been introduced to Ms Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, a confidant of Bibi Jagir Kaur, and the Bibi by Raipur. He also alleged that it was Raipur who had taken sleeping tablets from him with the purpose of mixing them in Harpreet’s food.

Earlier, the CBI had named Dr Sohal as a suspect in the case. When proceedings into the case started, Dr Sohal volunteered to come out with the truth and turned approver by giving a statement under Section 163, CrPC, in the court of the Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi.

An FIR was filed in the case on October 3, 2000, following which four persons — Sanjeev Kumar, Harvinder Kumar, Satya Devi and Paramjit Singh Raipur had been arrested on November 5. Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi was arrested in the case from Delhi after which Bibi Jagir Kaur and her personal security officer Nishan Singh were booked in the case. At present, all of them are out on bail.


Suspend Sangrur SSP: protesters
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, October 20
On a call given by the Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee, nearly 1,000 activists, including women of local trade unions, employee unions, political parties, social organisations, held a more than three-hour long protest rally at the Triveni Chowk here today.

The rally was organised in protest against the failure of the police to arrest the killers of a local youth, Ravi Kant (17), who was allegedly kidnapped on August 14. Later, his body was found in the canal near Sangrur Police Lines.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Achra Singh, former MLA, and state President of the Punjab Kisan Sabha, Mr Tarsem Jodhan, former MLA and state convener of the Punjab Lok Shakti Sangharash Committee, Mr Nachhatar Singh Jahangir, state President of Adhyapak Dal, Punjab, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bari, state President of the Government Teachers’ Union, Punjab, Mrs Mohinder Kaur Sabar, State General-Secretary of the Punjab Istri Shaba, Mr Gurbux Singh, national President the FCI Staff Union, Mr Baldev Singh, convener of the Action Committee, Mr Raghbir Chand, district President of the Sangrur unit of the Punjab Rice Shellers Association.

The speakers condemned the police for its failure to arrest the killers of Ravi Kant. Some also alleged that the SSP, Sangrur, was shielding them and trying to hush up the case due to pressure from high ups.

They also alleged that the family members of Ravi Kant had already disclosed the names of the killers to the police, but it was not intentionally arresting them. Rather, the family members were being harassed and tortured by the police with the ulterior motive to keep them mum.

Some speakers also demanded the suspension of the SSP, Sangrur, alleging that the killers of Ravi Kant would not be arrested during his posting at Sangrur. The speakers also threatened to intensify the agitation, if the killers were not arrested immediately.

The 20 days old fast being observed daily by the five members of the local trade unions, social organisations and employee unions in this regard since October 1 at the Triveni Chowk ended today.


AIPRF against move on anti-terrorism ordinance
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 20
The All-India Peoples Resistance Forum (AIPRF) yesterday condemned the Union Cabinet’s decision to promulgate the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance 2001 and termed it back door introduction of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Bill 2000.

General Secretary of the Forum G.N.Saibaba said the POTA Bill had been in the pipe line for more than two years. He said the attempt had been criticised in both Houses of Parliament, outside Parliament and civil, democratic and human rights organisations. He said the NDA government had to drop the POTA Bill 2000 in Parliament twice earlier in the past one and a half years. The National Human Rights Commission also advised the government not to bring in such a draconian law.

Mr Saibaba said now the BJP-led NDA government was going to promulgate the ordinance following the US-created hype against terrorism. He said the ordinance was based on the much-criticised POTA Bill, 2000. It is not a comprehensive anti-terrorism law as the Home Minister, Mr Advani described it but an act of terrorism in itself against the people of the country, and against democratic, human, civil and constitutional rights.

He said the Forum appealed to the President to intervene and stop the government from issuing such an ordinance. The Forum leader said the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance 2001 gave wideranging arbitrary powers to the investigating police officers. He added that this ordinance had more “draconian” clauses than the TADA had, which was allowed to lapse under the pressure of strong democratic rights movement all over India.

The TADA, first introduced in 1985, itself gave governments and police officials such sweeping powers that any alleged terrorist could be arrested and kept behind bars for years on end without allowing him to seek the normal judicial intervention. Past record shows that incompetent police forces, incapable of controlling crime, often employed the TADA in ordinary cases. Statistics reveal that as many as two out of three TADA detainees had to be acquitted for want of evidence and that only 1.1 per cent of those who were tried could be awarded punishment for some crime or the other.


Martyr’s widow moves from pillar to post
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 20
Ms Manjit Kaur, widow of Subedar Nirmal Singh, Vir Chakra recipient of Chhina Bet in this district is being pushed from pillar to post for setting up a petrol station allotted to her. Her husband sacrificed his life in Kargil during Operation Vijay July 6, 1999.

Soon after the death of her husband, Ms Manjit Kaur was allotted a petrol station in pursuance of the efforts made by the Ministry of Defence. She even received a letter from the Ministry of Defence in this regard and the then Deputy Commissioner was also informed about the allotment.

The Deputy Commissioner, on December 27, 1999, wrote a letter to the respective SDM directing him to allot her the requisite panchayat land at Purana Shalla for setting up the petrol station but in vain.

She has written afresh to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, to do the needful. She has also sent the copies of the letter through fax to the Defence Minister, the Petroleum Minister, the Prime Minister and the President of India.

Ms Manjit Kaur recently met the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, when he visited Dinanagar on October 15 for “sangat darshan”. She had even offered to surrender the Vir Chakra. The Chief Minister promised to pursue the matter with Mr Ram Naik Union Petroleum Minister.

Ms Manjit Kaur told this reporter today that she had two school-going sons and was hard pressed to make both ends meet. 


A park forsaken by all
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 18
Supposed to be the lungs of Tripri township, which was established as a refugee colony after partition, the Citizens Park does little to serve this purpose.

The park that lies as a picture of neglect, attracts hardly any visitors. Besides overgrown foliage, bushes and wild grass, it is littered with garbage that nobody cares to remove. The flower beds do not seem to have been tended for years.

When a TNS team visited the park, some elderly persons were playing cards in one corner which had been partially cleared. These few regulars are the only visitors to the park. One major reason for people avoiding this park is the absence of any kind of lighting. It plunges in darkness soon after sunset. Besides, there is not even a bench where one could sit for a while.

“I tell my children not to enter the park because of the wild growth of grass”, said Ranjana, a housewife. Besides this, bricks and pieces of crushed stone litter the park. These are the remnants of some construction work that might have been done sometime in the past.

The residents of the area blame the Municipal Corporation and the Citizens Welfare Council for this state of affairs. The Welfare Council which had taken over maintenance of the park has done precious little in this regard except putting up a board, “Citizens Park”.

A few years ago, the Corporation handed over the park to this welfare organisation for maintenance. Initially, some improvement was done in collaboration with the Corporation, such as construction of a boundry wall to keep stray pigs out. But soon it was forgotten by both. A number of electricity poles are now dumped in the park. There also are other encroachments which need to be removed.

The Commissioner of the Corporation, Mr K S Kang, says that the Corporation has plans to develop the park and a proposal in this regard has been prepared.

He says that the park was handed over to the Citizens Council for maintenance and he would find out why it had not been maintained properly.



Army’s move to form buffer zones
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 20
Those who want to construct a house in the circumference area of 2000 yards of the ammunition depot of the Army cantonment, should think again as the same has been declared restricted area by the authorities so as to develop it as a buffer-zone between the civil and cantonment area.

The Deputy Commissioner has written to various departments about declaring it as the restricted area and has asked these to submit the report if they had any objection to it. Sources said that the Commandant, ammunition depot has written to the Deputy Commissioner to take necessary action in that regard.

The Army authorities had decided to make a buffer zone around the ammunition depot after fire incidents at some ammunition depots in the state. The fires had engulfed the ammunition depots at Pathankot, Bharatpur and in Hanumangarh district in Rajasthan.

But residents who had been living in the area for many years that falls within 2000 yards circumference of the depot were likely to resist the move.

Some of the residents said they had met the authorities concerned to know about the exact status of the zone but to no avail.

Sources in the Army said the formation of a buffer zone may take years. The construction of new houses could be stopped but the shifting of the existing dwellings would take time. They said a survey would be carried out to make an estimate about the compensation that would be paid to the owners of dwellings who would have to vacate the area.

One of the senior official concerned said the decision on the existing dwellings would be taken after a meeting of the Army and civil authorities.

He declined to inform about the estimated time that would be taken by the authorities to form the buffer zone.

The Deputy Commissioner could not be contacted.


Relocation of dairies hangs fire
Tribune News Service

For years, attempts have been made to move dairies out of the city to ensure a better environment for the residents. Despite all the plans and deadlines set by the Municipal Corporation and the Improvement Trust, the dairies have remained where these were.

The city has a large number of dairies, big and small, which besides creating unhygienic conditions, create problems for the sewerage system and spread a number of diseases, particularly in the monsoon season.

These dairies are located mainly in the inner city and the outer colonies. Here posh houses stand next to small dairies in the midst of filthy surroundings. In some areas such as Bishen Nagar, the streets are filled with heaps of dung which make it virtually impossible to pass through them.

However, neither the Improvement Trust nor the Municipal Corporation seems keen to take any decisive action in the matter. About three years ago the corporation had announced that it would move the dairies out of the city but later it was decided that the Improvement Trust would provide land for their re-location. Subsequently, about two years ago, the trust identified land in Ghalori village for the dairy-owners of inner city and in Seona village for those in the outer colonies.

The trust has been setting deadlines for the allotment of plots in these villages to dairy-owners, but every time the time limit has been missed. The dairy owners are happy at the delay on the part of the trust and the corporation as they feel they would have to invest money to buy the plots and construct the buildings. They are also demanding allotment of plots at subsidised rates.

Meanwhile, the people of the city have to put up with the nuisance.


A virtual death trap has been created on a streeet in the Gher Sodhian locality near Purani Kotwali Chowk. Only half of the culvert on a drain crossing the street has been built and the result is that a number of persons and even cows have been trapped in the drain on many occasions. Some scooterists have met with accidents at this spot. The residents tried to fill the gap by dumping stones in the drain but these had to be removed as the drain was getting blocked. For the last one month they have been approaching the corporation authorities to solve the problem. They were then told that the corporation staff was busy on account of the Chief Minister’s visit to the city. Now the Chief Minister is scheduled to visit the city again and it will be some time before this problem is solved.


The laying of the foundation stone of an overbridge at the Railway Crossing Number 22 has been welcomed by the residents. The residents consider this to be a victory over a group of traders who were against the construction of the overbridge as it would affect their business. The residents had approached the Chief Minister for the construction of the overbridge to solve the traffic problem in the area.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, had been under pressure from the traders and some local politicians who did not want the overbridge to come up. Finally, the residents have succeeded in their attempts.



Power failure decried
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 20
Power failure while the operations are being performed at Government Rajindra Hospital has posed serious danger to the life of patients.

In a statement here today, Convener of the Co-ordination Committee of Social Welfare Organisation, Mr Mohinder Singh Walia, said a delegation had met Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during the sangat darshan programme held here yesterday. They alleged that candles were being used by doctors in order to carry out the operations in the event of power failure.

The Chief Minister had directed the authorities of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), present on the occasion to supply uninterrupted power to the hospital. 



Project to rehabilitate mentally challenged
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 20
The Central Government has allocated a pilot project of the Regional Resource and Rehabilitation Institute to the Faridkot Red Cross Society to rehabilitate persons suffering from cerebral palsy, mentally retarded and disabled persons of Ferozepore, Moga, Muktsar, Bathinda and Faridkot districts.

Under the programme, a three-month treatment and training will be provided to the needy through physiotherapists, occupational therapists, speech therapists and special educative ways to enable and empower them to lead a normal independent life. However, the time period can be extended as per the severity of the case.

Initially, a group of 20 persons will be brought under the scheme. Twelve persons had already been identified for this purpose and the survey for the detection of the others is underway.

Disclosing this here today, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner and Chairman of the local Red Cross Society, said a medical and therapeutic committee, comprising experts in Psychiatry, ENT, Orthopaedics, Ophthalmology and medicine, led by Dr T. L. Parmar, Principal of Guru Gobind Medical College and Hospital, had been constituted.

The Union Government had already given a grant of Rs 7 lakh, out of Rs 14.25 lakh for the project. It would start from November 1 at Senior Citizens Home at Baba Farid Sabhyacharan Kendra.


Minister: check female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 20
The Health Minister of State, Mr Baldev Raj Chawla has called upon different social and other organisations to strive for checking female foeticide. Dr Chawla was speaking on the occasion of two-day regional seminar on women’s social empowerment here yesterday. The seminar was organised by the Punjab State Welfare Advisory Board at Guru Nanak Dev University.

Mr Mridula Sinha National Chairperson, Central Social Welfare Board said better health and education facilities should be provided to women to elevate their status in society.

Earlier, Ms Mridula Sinha, inaugurated the seminar, Mr Gobind Singh Kanjla, Cabinet Minister, Department of Social Security and Women and Child Development was the chief guest and the function was presided over by Mr Baldev Raj Chawla.


Lok Adalats to settle farm debt disputes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
A new chapter was added to the Lok Adalat system with a special adalat to settle debt disputes held here today. Mr Justice H.S. Bedi, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, pointed out that cases in the courts had been piling up due to acute shortage of judicial officers.

Mr Justice Bedi, Executive Chairman, Punjab Legal Services Authority, while presiding over the first special Lok Adalat to settle farm debt disputes between farmers and commission agents, said that in developed countries, there were 17 judicial officer for one lakh population while in India, the strength of these officers for the same population was less than two. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has decided to hold such Lok Adalats and use same loan settlement pattern as adopted in bank loan disputes.

He said in today’s Lok Adalat, about 31,00 cases of farm debt disputes were solved on the spot with the consent of both parties.

He disclosed that a decision to pay special allowance to those working in the Lok Adalats had been taken. He added that so far 2,059 Lok Adalats had been held and 1.17 lakh cases settled. Claims worth Rs 206 crores were also settled in these Lok Adalats.

Mr Justice M.S. Gill, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr A.N. Jindal, District and Sessions Judge, Faridkot, Mr S.M.S Maran, Additional Sessions Judge, Muktsar, and Mr K.J.S. Cheema, Deputy Commissioner, were present on the occasion.

TALWANDI SABO: A Lok Adalat was organised here on Saturday by Mr Harsh Mehta, Additional Civil Judge (Senior Division) and Mr Karunesh Kumar Kakkar, Civil Judge (Junior Division) and loan recovery cases of the State Bank of India and the Oriental Bank of Commerce were taken up. Total amount of settlement in today’s Lok Adalat was Rs 58,40,000, out of which 29 cases of State Bank of India were of Rs 40 lakh, 12 cases of Oriental Bank of Commerce were of Rs 7.40 lakh, apart from these 17 pending cases were also settled.


Head Constable, SHO suspended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 20
Mohan Singh, SHO, General Railway Police (GRP), Bathinda; along with one Head Constable, Kashmir Chand, have been placed under suspension by the railway police authorities for their alleged failure to check the smuggling of narcotics on trains.

Police sources said some time ago, narcotics were seized and these police officials failed to take action against the accused. Even the record pertaining to the seizure was tempered. Somehow the officials came to know about the incident and began their inquiries. It was found that these two officials had failed to check the smuggling of narcotics.

The officials placed both police officials under suspension. A new SHO had joined at the local GRP police station, the sources added.


Protest against power cuts
Our Correspondent

Moga, October 20
Local organisations here today protested against the daily power cuts and breakdown which they said had paralysed their business activities.

At a meeting members of the Agro Industries Association, Ramgarhia Welfare Society, Auto-mobile Diesel Service Union and Great Grill Manufacture Association and other organisations said power cuts also affect water supply.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had failed to keep the promises he had made before the previous Lok Sabha elections.

They urged the Chief Minister to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the industry to save them from ruin.

They warned the government that if it failed to redress their grievances they would launch an agitation. Farmers who are sowing rabi were also facing an acute shortage of power and water. 


Lord Rama’s wedding procession taken out
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 20
A procession of the marriage party of Lord Rama was taken out in the main bazars of the city here this afternoon in connection with the Dasehra festival celebrations. Mr Tikshan Sud, Minister of State for Excise and Taxation, Punjab, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President, Punjab BJP, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, and local leaders of various political parties accompanied the “barat”.


Company found selling substandard paddy
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, October 20
Mrs Raji P. Srivastva, Deputy Commissioner, today told the SSP to register a criminal case against the commission agent owners of Kamal and Company of Delelwala village for their alleged bungling in the procurement of paddy. The company had allegedly cheated procurement agencies by managing to get substandard quality of paddy procured.

Sources said during a surprise check by the District Food and Supply Controller and District Manager, FCI, it was found that Kamal and Company had filled substandard and old paddy in the bags which were later procured by the unsuspecting agencies. Also, in a heap of paddy, it was found that while the upper layer was fresh paddy, the inner layers comprised old paddy. Mr Prem Kumar Goyal, District Food and Supply Controller, said that licences of Kamal and Company and one other firm were suspended after they were found indulging in malpractices. He added that 316 bags of substandard paddy were found from the firm.

He pointed out that the firm had also managed to get more paddy purchased by agencies than it received from farmers. He added that paddy found in the bags did not belong to any farmer and the firm owners were trying to sell substandard paddy to the procurement agencies under the garb of fresh and quality paddy. Meanwhile, Mr R. Venkat Ratnam, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, said that licences of four commission agents had been suspended in the district for their alleged involvement in violating norms for the procurement of paddy. 


Discrepancy in voters’ lists
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, October 20
Even after spending crores of rupees on the preparation of voter identity cards and annual revision of electoral rolls, voters are still not sure that their names had been included on the list of eligible voters.

The electoral rolls for the state Assembly and parliamentary elections are the same but there are separate rolls for panchayat samiti, zila parishad and municipal body election.

Sources in the Election Commission office said most of voters who could not find their names in the rolls were those whose names were registered in the rolls for the local bodies.

The sources said when the rolls were revised, people had stated that they had been listed in the rolls but were not sure whether they had been registered for the local body elections or the MLA/MP elections.

The number of listed voters in this Assembly elections is said to be 2,03,588, out of which 1,45,163 voters reside in the city and the rest in villages. The number of voters had been rising about 1 per cent in each revision of the electoral roll, the sources said. This figure includes the names of dead persons whose names are not sent to the Election Commission by the municipal council.

Even migrant labourers have started getting voter identity cards.

The sources said the voter turnout in the MLA/MP elections had been low due to the registration of “bogus” voters in the voters’ list of local bodies. This fact was revealed when the Education Department conducted a survey of families to get the figures of children in the age group of 0-14. The figures revealed that more than 29 per cent of the voters listed in the municipal lists were “bogus”.

The survey revealed that in some cases more than 40 voters had been listed at a single address and even the addresses were found to be business establishments.

Senior officials pointed out that in the present set-up it was not difficult for a person to get his name registered in multiple voters’ lists. The voter should be asked to submit that his name had not been included in multiple voters’ lists and in case of migration, he could be asked to produce a no-objection certificate from the place he had migrated from. To reduce wastage of money and resources, the same lists should be used for MLA/MP elections and those of local bodies, they said.


Amendment to ST Act okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 20
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved an amendment to the Punjab General Sales Tax Act, 1948, to enable it levy additional tax, surcharge at the rate of 10 per cent payable by a dealer.

The amount thus realised shall be deposited in the Consolidated Fund from where it shall be allotted to the Social Security department for rendering assistance by way of pension to senior citizens, widows and destitute women, dependent children, disabled persons etc.

This step has been taken following an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court quashing the social security cess by striking down the Social Security Act, 2000, on September 27.

By another decision, the council also approved the proposal for granting Rs 15 lakh to purchase additional land for an “Idgah” at Malerkotla.

The payment will be made through the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, according to an official press note.


213 arms licenses found invalid: DC
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 20
The district administration has, in an inquiry conducted into the validity of arms licenses issued during the past five years in this district, found 213 licenses to be invalid.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr G.S. Grewal, said 2,176 cases were examined, of which declarations given in 213 cases were found incorrect.

In most of the invalid cases, license holders were not found at the addresses given in the declarations.

Show-cause notices had been issued to those whose declarations were found incorrect. If they did not respond to the notices within a stipulated time, their licenses would be cancelled.

The license holders seemed to have shifted residences, he said. It seemed that most of them were either tenants or employees who had been transferred.

However, if any case of dereliction of duty came to the fore during further inquiry, appropriate action would be taken against those guilty.


2.15 lakh missing from CDPO’s office
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 20
The mystery regarding Rs 2,15,689 lakh, missing from the office of the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) Naushehra Pannuan, since the past four days as not been solved yet. Anganwari workers who were to get this amount as salary are resentful in this regard.

Ms Raj Surinder Kaur Kailey, CDPO, in a written complaint yesterday to the SHO, Sarhali, alleged that this was the handiwork of a senior assistant (accountant) who withdrew the amount from the State Bank of India on October 4. 


Two booked for rape
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 20
The police here booked two young men under Sections 376, 342, 506, of the IPC for raping a girl.

Police sources said that the accused had been identified as Nishan Singh resident of village Raniwallaha village and Tarsem Singh resident of Bath village. The girl is the resident of Rattoke village aged 21 years. The accused were arrested from Bath village last night.

Also the local excise staff seized 3900 millilitre liquor being smuggled from Chandigarh from a Punjab Roadways bus of the local Tarn Taran depot. A case under the Excise Act against driver Jaswant Singh has been registered.


Factory owner murdered
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 20
Sanjiv Kumar Lalli, the owner of Gopal Industries, Mehligate here, who was attacked last week with a sharp-edged weapon, succumbed to his injuries at the DMC, Ludhiana, yesterday. The local police had registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC.

Only one of the three assailants Satnam Singh has surrendered in the local court and was sent to judicial lock-up, disclosed Mr Surinderpal Singh, SHO, city police station today. He said the rival party had been objecting to the noise created by the factory and demanding its closure. However, the ownes did not oblige.

Sanjiv and his brother were attacked and since Sanjiv has sustained serious head injuries and had gone into coma, he was referred to the DMC, Ludhiana. The local police had earlier registered a case of assault.


3 held for showing obscene films
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 20
Three persons — Ashok Kumar of Akalgarh Basti, Karam Chand of he Dhanaula road and Suraj Kant of Prem Nagar here — were arrested by the police for screening blue movies and selling such cassettes.

He said these suspects were nabbed when they were screening blue movies . A VCR and four cassettes had been seized from their possession. Three different cases under Sections 292 and 293 of the IPC had been registered against them.


College students gherao DSP
Our Correspondent

Sunam, October 20
Students of the local Shaheed Udham Singh College took out a protest march through the main bazars of the city and gheraoed the local DSP in his office today to press the administration for the acceptance of their demands. They were demanding the arrest of Jaswinder Singh and Kulvir Singh, ETT teachers, Gagandeep Singh, Manish Joshi, Ranveer Singh, alias Ravi, and Baljinder Singh, alias Hani, for allegedly attacking, Swaran Singh and Harinder Singh, alias Hani, leaders of the Students Federation of India (SFI) with sharp-edged weapons and lathis on October 13.

Though the police has registered a case under Sections 307, 324, 323 of the IPC read with Sections 148 and 149 of Cr PC against the suspects, no arrest has been made so far. Students owing allegiance to the SFI threatened to block the road traffic on November 6 and to intensify the stir if the guilty were not arrested till then.

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