Thursday, October 25, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

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P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


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Mail from Pak being x-rayed
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The Department of Post, Punjab, has asked the Customs Department to put the land mail coming from Pakistan at Amritsar through X-ray to prevent attempts to send letter bombs.

“Letters coming through land from Pakistan and received at Amritsar are being checked for letter bombs as terrorists after spreading the anthrax scare may try new tricks,” sources in the Punjab Postal Department told The Tribune here today.

The department has issued the Universal Postal Union’s “drugs in the Mail Enforcement Training Module” to all post sorting offices to prevent terrorist attempts in creating panic.

Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has also decided in this connection to form district-level committees under the chairmanship of the Deputy Commissioner.

Though the mail from Pakistan goes to Delhi despite landing in Amritsar for checking, it is now being checked for letter bombs in Amritsar before being sent to Delhi, sources said.

All foreign mail is sent to Delhi because of specialised handling for Enforcement, Customs and External Affairs Ministry checking.

Foreign mail in the region is sent to Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar and Amritsar, where officials have been given specific instructions to handle such cases as per the guidelines.

Though no case of anthrax has been reported yet the department has issued guidelines to the people also to trace such cases.

The people have been asked to be vigilant against letters containing powdery, stiff and lumpy material giving foul odour.

Letters or parcels having excessive postage and addressed to well-known persons, with marks like “Do not X-ray,” “Fragile”, “Do not open,” and “To be opened by addressee only” should be seen with suspicion.

Such letters may also have a public figure as sender, excessive weight, unknown substance leaking from the postal item, excessive tapes, unusual smell, personal notings and greetings on the envelope and an unusual return name and address, the sources said.



 

Another Army officer gets letter
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 24
Another letter suspected of containing anthrax powder landed here yesterday. The letter received by a senior military official was immediately handed over to the police and later to the Civil Hospital authorities for chemical examination. About a few days ago, a Brigadiar had received an anonymous letter. The test reports of the letter were awaited.

Official sources said another senior Army officer received a similar letter yesterday. The police said a general alert had been sounded in the district. All SHOs had been directed to remain vigilant.

The sources said what had been worrying the authorities was the fact that the letters had been received by Army personnel for the first time and that too in Asia’s biggest cantonment which was of strategic importance.

Both cases had been registered in the daily diary report in a police station and the cantonment.

It was mentioned on the envelope that if undelivered it should be returned to “The Economist Newspaper Ltd. 8 Cross Street, 23-01 PWC Building, Singapore 048424, Republic of Singapore.

Dr Sat Pal, a forensic expert of the Civil Hospital, said a culture of the first letter had been made for examination and it would take 48 hours to complete.



 

Admn sniffs anthrax scare, gets ready
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 24
Workers of the Department of Posts have been advised to wear gloves and masks while sorting out mail. The department has also launched a programme to make them aware of the anthrax symptoms and precautionary measures.

At a meeting held here yesterday, where Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, Civil Surgeon, and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, were present, members of administration reviewed the plan for combating the anthrax threat here.

A crisis management group has also been constituted in the office of the Civil Surgeon, of which, Dr S.P. Sharma is the nodal officer. The Senior Medical Officers (SMOs) have appointed their own nodal officers in all district hospitals.

Mr Bir has urged the people to carefully handle letters that contain white powder or release an odour on opening. He urged everyone to contact the nodal officer in the office of the Civil Surgeon at telephone numbers 212734 and 304621 for enquiry.

The others who attended the meeting included Dr A.S. Sakhaon, Medical Superintendent of Rajindra Hospital, Dr Amarjit Kaur Gill, Professor of the Microbiology Department of Medical College, and Ms Chopra of the office of the Senior Superintendent of Posts. The officials said any unusual letter or parcel should be brought to their notice, so that, the packets can be sent to the Microbiology Department for examination. If the packet tests positive for anthrax, it would be forwarded to the Chemical Examiner Laboratory.

Meanwhile, the Patiala police has taken several steps to ensure that residents of the city do not panic in expectation of any anthrax attack.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Paramjit Singh Grewal, said there had been a meeting of all 16 local Station House Officers and the other police officials here today, where Dr Satinder Pal had delivered a lecture to educate the SHOs on guiding residents in this case.

Mr Grewal said Mr Gurdeep Singh Pannu, Superintendent of Police, had been made a nodal officer for this operation and residents were free to contact him at the police control room.

Mr Grewal said a special ambulance had been kept ready at the Police Lines here for any emergency.



 

CISF to be deployed at airport today
Our Correspondent

Rajasansi (Amritsar), October 24
Rajasansi Airport will get an added boost with the formal induction of Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel tomorrow.

More than 130 personnel belonging to the anti-hijacking security wing of the CISF have already pitched bases here. More are likely to arrive here tomorrow to raise the figure up to 184, Mr V.S. Mulekar, Airport Director, said the here today.

Roughly, 140 Punjab police personnel currently man the security aspect of the sensitive airport in this border district which has been a witness to more than six hijackings in the past.

Mr Y.P. Singh Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Airport Authority of India (AAI), said he was not sure about the security provisions regarding the religious shrine located near the runway. However, Mr Mulekar confirmed that security of the shrine was also placed with the CISF.

The OSD, however, said it would take the CISF at least a month to coordinate security operations with the Punjab police to perform efficiently.

During this month, both CISF and Punjab police would set up parallel duties at the airport.

The induction slated for tomorrow will be inaugurated by Mr Syed Shah Nawaz Hussain, Minister of Civil Aviation.



 

Give justice to Punjab on river waters: Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, here today urged the Union Government to do justice to Punjab regarding the allocation of share from river waters.

Punjab was discriminated against while allocating river waters to the states concerned. While Haryana with a far less area ( 80 lakh acres) under agriculture had been allocated 14 maf of water, Punjab with 105 lakh acres got 12 maf water from the divisible pool after the reorganisation of Punjab. Haryana, which was to be given 40 per cent share from the divisible assets, got a bigger share than Punjab, he added. Punjab should be given a share from the Yamuna waters. A redistribution of water should be made between the two states keeping the area under agriculture as the criterion, he added.

He said he was ready for any sort of debate with anyone at any place on this issue. Punjab would become a barren land if justice was not done on this issue. Sub-soil water resources were depleting fast as farmers pumped out about 14.5 m.a.f every year, he added.

He urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to issue a clarification on the alleged commitment made by him to the Prime Minister and the Haryana Chief Minister on the SYL canal issue. Water would not be allowed to flow in the canal, he said. Rejecting the setting up of a judicial commission by Mr Badal to probe the recent acts of sacrilege, he said that only a commission headed by a sitting judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court would be acceptable to his party.

He said that he was ready to accompany Mr Badal to make a joint request to the Chief Justice of the court to spare a Judge. He said he would also make a request at his own level to the Chief Justice in this connection. Capt Amarinder Singh said that his party, if voted to power, would give Rs 30 per quintal as bonus to paddy farmers even if the SAD-BJP government gave bonus now. The bonus announced by the Congress would have no link with the incentives given by the SAD-BJP Government, he added.

The Congress would enter into an electoral alliance with Left parties in the state, he asserted.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the AICC, would visit the Radha Soami Satsang headquarters at Beas in the first week of next month, he announced. It would be a purely personal visit. She was going there on the invitation of the head of the Radha Soami Satsang, Baba Gurinder Singh.



 

Govt makes mockery of job offer
Terrorist victims left high and dry
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 24
The abolition of vacant posts in government departments has made a mockery of government claims of giving jobs to terrorists-affected dependants.

Jobs were denied after vacancies were abolished following the expiry of a six-month period within which these individuals were eligible for the jobs. However, the dilly-dallying attitude of the authorities and red tape had delayed the process.

This issue was taken up strongly by Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, and BJP MLA Laxmi Kanta Chawla, however, flimsy grounds were attributed for rejections.

The case of Ashok Kumar of Labour Colony was submitted by the Deputy Commissioner here to the Director, Technical Education and Industrial Training (ITI), Chandigarh. It was later learnt that the ITI had banned new appointments a long time ago. Ashok’s case has been hanging fire for the past five months with little knowledge of the ban.

“The government it seems is sanctioning jobs against non-vacancies”, Mr Dang said. Many cases were presented to the Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, out of which only some candidates were interviewed. One such case is of Asha Rano who was left disabled in a terrorist attack. She was never interviewed and her file was returned on flimsy grounds, Mr Dang alleged.

The case of Sham Kumar, son of Sadhu Ram who was gunned down by the terrorists, is pending for no concrete reason. His brother was rejected on grounds of being an illiterate.

The case of Satish Kumar whose father was shot by the militants also hangs fire. He was eligible for a Class-III job.

Ms Kiranjot Kaur whose husband succumbed to terrorist bullets says her case has been pending since June this year. With three minor children she is surviving on loans and odd jobs.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Dang has sought his attention on this issue and has called for new decisions and assurances.



 

Publisher, authors of Bhaniara granth arrested
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 24
The police has claimed to have arrested the publisher and authors of the Bhav Sagar Samundar granth of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said the controversial granth was initially recorded on tapes. Darshan Singh, Harmail Singh, Rajinder Singh, Manager, Oriential Bank of Commerce, Moga, Pritam Singh and Sohan Singh, a pharmacist, decodified the baba’s verses on paper.

It was scripted in the form of a handwritten granth by nine women, three of whom, had been arrested.

The granth was finally published by Baljinder Singh, resident of Chandigarh. He published 100 copies of the granth in his printing press located in the industrial area of Chandigarh at a cost of Rs 5,000 per copy. The publisher told the police that he had received order to publish the granth one month before Baisakhi this year. He was made a payment of Rs 5 lakh for publishing it.

The police has booked them under Sections 295-A, 153-A, and 501-A of the IPC.



 

Harpreet case transferred

New Delhi, October 24
The sensational murder case of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Bibi Jagir Kaur, has been transferred to a Sessions Court in Patiala, CBI sources said here today.

The case was earlier being heard by a special CBI court in Patiala.

The body of Harpreet Kaur was found in suspicious circumstances in her Phagwara farmhouse on the intervening night of April 20-21 last year. While Bibi Jagir Kaur had maintained that her daughter had died a natural death, Harpreet’s husband alleged that she was killed as part of a conspiracy masterminded by Bibi Jagir Kaur.

The case was then referred to the CBI by the Punjab and Haryana High Court for investigation. UNI



 

Political scene hots up in Sirhind
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 24
Hectic political activities have begun in the district, with the declaration of ‘sangat darshan’ programme of the Chief Minister for Sirhind constituency to be held on October 31. Different warring factions of the SAD (B) have geared up their activities and are mobilising their supporters.

Sirhind is basically a rural Akali dominated constituency, but for the past two terms since the Akali Dal had witnessed the split, a Congress MLA is representing it. Sirhind being the hometown area of Mr G.S. Tohra, president SHSAD and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president SAD (A) both top Akali stalwarts having great influence in the area, had earlier been neglected by the government. None of the major projects had been sanctioned for the area nor sufficient funds had been released for the speedy completion of the ongoing projects. The SAD (B) leaders of the area had been running form pillar to post to get some big projects for the area so that they may counter the influence of the rival Akali Dal but to no avail. But now the SAD leaders and the aspirants for the SAD ticket have started touring the rural areas in order to get the maximum mileage of the sangat darshan programme.

According to sources Mr Badal was not giving any date for the “sangat darshan programme” in the district in spite of the repeated requests of the SAD leaders of the area, as he was hopeful of unity with Mr Tohra and wanted to sanction the grants according to his priorities. As now the chances of unity between these two leaders are very remote and moreover the SAD leaders have clearly told Mr Badal to arrange ‘sangat darshan in this area, if he wanted to strengthen the party in this constituency to counter their influence and to send the right signal to the public to clear their dilemma regarding the unity move.

Since the declaration of the “sangat darshan” programme the two factions of SAD led by Mr R.S. Cheema, former minister and considered to be a SAD candidate and the other faction led by Mr Rajeshpal Singh Lalli and Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, hot contender for the seat too have started their individual campaigns.

This sangat darshan would be a different one for Mr Badal, as he will have to face Dr Harbans Lal, Congress MLA, who told The Tribune that he would also attend the “sangat darshan” and would highlight the problems of his constituency and would demand the grants for the same. On the other hand Tohra loyalist sarpanches of the area will also appear in the ‘sangat darshan’ programme to get grants. The most important part of the “sangat darshan” to be noticed by the District Administration, political circles and the people of the area would be that which of the two warring factions of the SAD will be given a preference while sanctioning grants and this move would also clear who would be the SAD candidate for the coming Assembly election.

The District Admission has stated gearing up for the success of the programme. The Deputy Commissioner is meeting officials of the different departments and has directed them to make the lists of all the pending development works and the complete information about the 196 villages of the constituency. Similarly the SSP has been holding meetings with his officials to make the necessary security arrangements.

The district administrative complex, the venue of the “sangat darshan” is being given a facelift and the work is going on warfooting.



 

Tohra begins poll campaign
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 24
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, virtually launched his party’s election campaign by addressing a gathering at Balbehra village in the Dakala Assembly segment, near here today.

Mr Tohra said Mr Parkash Singh Badal has not fulfilled his election promises except providing free electricity to farmers.

The poor were being made to believe that various village schools had been upgraded. On the contrary, Mr Tohra alleged no admissions were being allowed in these schools.

SHSAD leader Rajinder Singh Tohra said the Dakala constituency had made a lot of development under former minister Harmail Singh Tohra.



 

50 drug addicts die in 2 years
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 24
At least 50 drug addicts have died in two years in Chhehrta township, near here.

The town is worse than Maqboolpura, a suburb of Amritsar known as a “locality of widows” due to the death of a number of breadwinners in a period of five years.

Schoolchildren can be seen taking morphine injections in secluded fields of the township. Numerous complaints have been lodged with the police and the health authorities about drug addiction.

Mr Sarbjot Singh Gill, Principal, Government Senior Secondary School, said the school chowkidar had reported that drug peddlers enter the building after working hours. He said he had reported the matter to the police, the District Education Officer and other officials concerned.

He said the activities of drug peddlers could not be stopped as the school did not have a boundary wall on two sides.

Three youths have died in Shambu Nath building due to consumption of drugs in less than a year, Promila Devi, a government school teacher whose husband was killed by terrorists, told The Tribune that her newly-married son Amandeep (24) died due to drug overdose. She said her son was hooked on drugs during school days.

This is not an isolated case. There are a number of persons who have fallen prey to the menace. Pawan Kumar (22) and Raman Kumar of the same Shambu Nath building lost their lives due to drug addiction last year. Mr Bachan Lal, father of Pawan Kumar, has alleged that some policemen too were involved in drug peddling. He alleged that the drug peddlers were carrying on their activities with the support of politicians.

Alarmed by the menace, the Association for Democratic Rights, the Folklore Academy and the Folklore Research Academy have formed a fact-finding committee to prepare a list of those who have fallen prey to drug addiction. Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, secretary, CPI, has claimed that the number of persons who have died due to drug abuse could be much higher.

Mr Jaikarn Kathanina and Mr Raman Baxi, both local leaders, alleged that the menace had spread in villages too. The areas affected include Khasa, Wadali, Ghanupur, Kot Khalsa, Islamabad, Labh Nagar, Wadali Guru and Naraingarh. The fact-finding team alleged that some drug peddlers who were caught red-handed were let off even without the registration of cases against them.

The team members claimed that the peddlers could easily be contacted for the supply of drugs on cell phones. The deadly drugs are reportedly available at kiosks and provision stores. The Health Department recently found such drugs from a grocery shop.

Persons involved in drug peddling in the area have nicknames like Sukhi, Veeri, Sukha Machhi, Jassa Cat, Saavi, Baba Talli, Delhiwali, Malkit, Kala, Jaswinder and Master Twinkle. Women are also reportedly involved in these activities.



 

No bridge for past six months
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 24
Putting up a signboard “Drive slow, bridge is damaged” near a narrow, weak and temporary bridge is all that the authorities have done so far in place of proper bridge on the Behman distributary on the Bathinda-Malout national highway, which had collapsed about six months ago.

The authorities seem to have forgotten that the bridge was very important as it was on a national highway. Many vehicles, including heavy ones, pass from there every day.

The bridge had collapsed on May 8 following a breach in the Behman distributary on which it was constructed. The traffic remained disrupted on that route for many days.

On May 9 the operation to clear the debris of the bridge was stopped due to tussle between the Irrigation Department and the PWD over the responsibility to clear the same. None of these departments owned the responsibility to clear the debris.

Although the authorities had claimed on May 9 that the Central Government had sanctioned Rs 20 lakh for the construction of a new bridge, but sources said it was just eyewash, as the money had not reached so far. Sources said it was not possible that the Central Government could sanction money in such a less time after the collapse of the bridge.

Sources said the procedure was lengthy and included a large number of formalities, which generally took five to six months. The local authorities of the PWD, concerned with the construction of the bridge, have urged the Ministry of Surface Transport to release the amount immediately.

The sources said the local PWD authorities had sent an estimate budget for the construction of the bridge immediately after its collapse, but the proposal was reportedly rejected as it was not accompanied by proposed design. The local authorities were asked to send the proposed design of the bridge for the approval of the ministry.

The local authorities sent the design and other related documents to the Chief Engineer, Patiala, on August 27 for further transmission to the ministry in New Delhi.

The sources said after the proposed design would be approved by the ministry, the local PWD authorities would submit the proposal for the estimated cost on the construction of the bridge.

Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, said efforts were being made so that the necessary funds could be obtained at the earliest. He said the ministry would pay about Rs 15 lakh for the construction of the bridge.



 

Ravi Kant died of drowning: SSP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 24
Refuting the allegations levelled by the protesters at a rally organised by the Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee on October 20 at Dhuri, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, local SSP, on Monday said he was neither bowing to any political pressure nor was there any such pressure on him from any quarter to hush up the case.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Aulakh said the investigations by the police in the case would not be affected in any manner even if any one put pressure on the police in future. He said in this case the police also questioned Ravneet Singh, a friend of Ravi Kant, whose father had filed a complaint on August 28 against the Sangrur police with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, praying that his son be released from the illegal detention of the police and necessary action be taken against the erring police officers.

Mr Aulakh also stated that the chemical examiners report to the Punjab Government showed that no poison had been found in the viscera and blood samples of the deceased, Ravi Kant.

The SSP said in view of the report of the chemical examiner, a board of two doctors had opined that Ravi Kant died of drowning which was ante-mortem and was sufficient to cause death in ordinary circumstances.

Ravi Kant was allegedly kidnapped from Dhuri on August 17. Later on the same day, his body was found in a canal near the local police lines. He was allegedly kidnapped by two motor-cyclists.

The Ravi Kant Murder Action Committee has been agitating for the past two months demanding the arrest of the alleged killers of Ravi Kant. It has alleged that the police has not arrested the killers intentionally even after the disclosure of the names of the killers to the police by the members of the family of Ravi Kant.

The protesters on October 20 at Dhuri rally also declared that they would intensify their agitation in case that the police fail to arrest the alleged killers.



 

Again, no buyers for HIG flats
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 24
The High Income Group (HIG) flats constructed by the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) in Urban Estate, phase two, continue to be jinxed with PUDA failing to dispose them off despite inviting applications for their sale for the second time recently.

Around 60 HIG flats constructed by the development authority had failed to find any buyers last year also following which they had been readvertised recently. However, despite extending the time period for submission of applications by 15 days. PUDA has been able to attract only seven applications for around 60 flats put on sale by it.

The failure of the body to sell off the flats is forcing it to think of other measures to ensure their utilisation as well as collect the money spent on them. PUDA has now started toying with the ideas of selling the flats to the government so that it could accommodate its officers in them. PUDA Additional Chief Administrator R.S. Randhawa said as some officers were going to be displaced after the establishment of the administrative-cum-residential complex on the Jail Road, they could be put upin the HIG flats.

Meanwhile, though the ball is now in the government’s court as far as allotment of the houses to officers is concerned, the fact why the HIG flats did not attract any buyers is all to clear. Residents of the Urban Estate say the flat culture is yet to pick up popularity in the city, mainly because land prices are quite reasonable in the outer areas due to which everyone opts to construct his own house.

Besides this, residents say the flats were priced on the higher side at around Rs 11 lakh initially before the prices were reduced to attract buyers. They said even in the reduced amount one could buy one’s own plot and go in for an even bigger construction than that being offered by PUDA. Other issues which did not generate interest in the public to buy the flats was the substandard material used in their construction and the fact that they were along a cluster of LIG flats. “People going in for an HIG flat would not like it to be situated right next to a cluster of LIG flats,” said Jagtar Singh of the Urban Estate. There are also complaints of empty flats being misused for nefarious activities.

Other drawbacks of the area include the fact that it is flood-prone and had borne the brunt of the floods which had occurred in the city in 1988 and 1992. The price of land in the Urban Estate is also registering an increase since a long time and is presently around Rs 1900 per square yard. This, sources said, was because the Urban Estate had mainly attracted the academic community which wanted to reside close to Punjab University, besides professionals. They said businessmen were mainly going in for construction at the New Officers Colony which was registering a constant hike in land prices.

Meanwhile the Additional Chief Administrator said PUDA had received complaints that miscreants were misusing the empty flats by gaining illegal entry into them. He said the PUDA security staff had been directed to ensure this did not happen. Capt Randhawa said PUDA was also trying to make the Urban Estate more attractive by taking necessary flood-protection measures, besides developing unique parks.




 

IN FOCUS
An uncommissioned fountain
Tribune News Service

Patiala
More than a year ago, the Municipal Corporation decided to construct a water feature with a fountain in Tripri township. The water feature is ready but the fountain is yet to be installed.

But the feature, however, fails to enthuse the residents. The corporation has chosen to block the open space on one side of the road by constructing a concrete platform along the fountain. This has narrowed the road and is causing traffic problems.

The foundation feature is a long tiled tank with little space on its sides. Only a small space on one side can be used as a sitting place. Visitors will have to view it from the platform on its side.

The residents maintain that the corporation should have put up the fountain in Citizens Park which is hardly 100 yards away. “I fail to understand why this feature has been constructed by encroaching on a busy road when ample space is available in the Citizens Park”, said Mr Parmod Sukhija, a resident of the area.

This is not all. A member of the Improvement Trust who lives in Tripri said that although the fountain is yet to start functioning, the corporation had to spend money to repair the pillars along the fountains’ boundary. The residents had complained that most of the pillars were unstable.

Other residents say that the park has been converted into a dustbin as people are throwing their garbage in it. Some of the tiles of the feature have also broken. Besides this, there is a “rehra” stand on one corner of the park and the rehra owners use the platform to place fodder for their horses. There is a traffic jam whenever a truck passes this area on its way to shellers a little further ahead.

The Commissioner of the Corporation, Mr K.S. Kang, says he will inquire why the fountain feature has not been started. He said he was not aware of the fact that the width of the road was reduced because of the construction of the feature.



 

Channi clarifies to Akal Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 24
In a significant development, Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, political secretary to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, chief of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), and Mr Charnjit Singh Channi, chief, Khalsa Action Committee, today submitted clarifications to the Akal Takht secretariat separately and desired to undergo any “tankhah” if found guilty by the Sikh high priests.

Though SAD(A) does not accord recognition to the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Mr Tiwana still addressed him as Jathedar. It may be mentioned here that on behalf of SAD(A), Mr Tiwana had collected party funds from Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara even after his excommunication from the Sikh Panth. Mr Tiwana told the Akal Takht Jathedar that he was ready to appear before the Takht as a humble Sikh.

Meanwhile, Mr Channi, who was served show-cause notice for raising slogans against the mild “tankhah” pronounced by the Sikh clergy, in his clarification said that being a Sikh, it was his moral duty to raise objections to the punishment given to Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Agriculture Minister, his son Kewal Singh Badal, junior vice-president, SGPC, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, a former MP, and two SAD(A) leaders for having links with Baba Bhaniara.

He said whenever Jathedars of Akal Takht had played a “partisan” role, the Sikh Sangat had protested. He said Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC, had raised an objection to the mild “tankhah” pronounced on private publishers of Guru Granth Sahib. He said the Sikh Sangat had resented the alleged tampering of records of Akal Takht for giving benefit to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the then SGPC chief, who had visited Nirankari Bhawan in violation of an Akal Takht edict.

Coming down heavily on Giani Puran Singh, a former Akal Takht Jathedar, Mr Channi alleged that he had dubbed Sikhs as descendants of Luv and Kush. He said Giani Puran Singh had “wrongly” excommunicated Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, both Sikh high priests.

He said the Khalsa Action Committee would resort to direct action against Baba Bhaniara at an opportune time.

He said the politicians who were found guilty of having direct links with Baba Bhaniara should be removed from their respective posts.



 

Talwandi wasn’t target: Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 24
Even as Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, has clarified that the joint appeal issued by the five Sikh High Priests on October 12 for not making “baseless allegations” against anybody henceforth was not targeted at Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, yet the Panthic crisis is unlikely to be defused in the near future.

With the Assembly elections round the corner, SAD would like to defuse the crisis while the leadership of the Panthic Morcha would endeavour to take political mileage from the prevailing situation. The closed-door meeting of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Talwandi has given clear indications that the days would be crucial for the Sikh Panth. The situation is so fluid that any development can take place any time.

While Mr Vedanti had already announced that Mr Talwandi could be summoned any time if proved guilty for presenting a siropa to an excommunicated Sikh, Mr Kashmira Singh, who had accompanied Mr Ujjal Singh Dosanj, the then Premier of British Columbia, Mr Talwandi would make effort to check-mate Mr Vedanti. The SGPC executive has already decided to seek an explanation from him for issuing a statement against Mr Talwandi with regard to Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, officer on special duty.



 

Directive on unity not hukamnama’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 24
Even as Mr Kulwant Singh, a former SGPC secretary, has sought a written clarification from Akal Takht on the “validity” of the directive issued by the then Jathedar Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, in 1998 for maintaining truce to the warring Panthic leaders, Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti said it could not be described as a hukamnama as it was issued for a “limited purpose”.

The directive had asked the Panthic leaders to maintain status quo till April 15, 1999, so that the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa Panth could be celebrated unitedly. However, Bhai Ranjit Singh and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra were unceremoniously removed as Jathedar Akal Takht and SGPC chief, respectively, in violation of the directive. As the result, directive to two jathedars and a media baron to appear before Akal Takht could not be implemented.

It is the 1998 directive under which rival Akali factions alleged that Mr Badal should be summoned at Akal Takht as the ruling party was responsible for the violation of the same. However, Jathedar Vedanti said a hukmnama and a directive should be acceptable to all and “biased” decisions of any person could not be dubbed hukmnamas.



 

Employees want bonus, promotions
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, October 24
A large number of government employees organised a flag march in villages of the Dera Bassi subdivision today to press for the acceptance of their pending demands.

On the call of the PWD Workers Coordination Committee, employees of the Departments of Public Health, Irrigation and Forests, besides those of the sewerage board and PUDA, assembled here and took out a procession through the villages.

After the march, the agitators staged a dharna at Dera Bassi and raised slogans against the government. They criticised the Punjab Cabinet for not implementing the decisions taken by the House.

The agitators wanted that the services of the employees who had been daily wagers for the past more than three years be confirmed. They also wanted promotions after four, nine and 14 years of job, bonus that had not been paid for the past four years, implementation of the pension scheme in the sewerage board and an increase in the medical allowance. Another demand was that the department employees who had cleared the qualifying tests for junior engineers be appointed as such.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Saini, Convener of the committee, said the government was ignoring these demands. He said the agitation could be intensified if the demands were not considered soon.

Those who addressed the gathering included Mr Baljit Singh Badunger, Mr Suresh Sharma, Mr Mohinder Singh Dhaliwal, Mr Balbir Singh Ropar and Mr Darshan Singh Dhillon.



 

Veterinary pharmacists hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 24
Members of the Veterinary Pharmacists Union today held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, here to press for acceptance of their demands.

The agitating employees demanded that they should be considered diploma-holders after the training; the minimum educational qualification for admission to the veterinary pharmacists’ course should be plus two, and promotion channel should be opened for them as in the case of some other categories.

Mr Surinderpal Singh, president of the district unit of the union, while addressing the gathering, said the call for the rally had been given by the state unit.

The union had urged the authorities concerned to fulfil its demands earlier also but to no avail, he said. Mr Surinderpal Singh warned if their demands were not accepted till the end of this month, they would hold a state-level rally in Chandigarh in the first week of the next month.



 

Mrs Kalwant Singh dead
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Mrs T. Kalwant Singh, a member of the Board of Governors of Punjab Public School, Nabha, died here yesterday. Mrs Singh (85) was living in Sector 2 here. She had been on the board for more than three decades.

Punjab Governor, Lt-General (retd) J.F.R. Jacob, today mourned the death of Mrs T. Kalwant Singh.

In a condolence message, General Jacob, who is the President of the Board of Governors of the school said everyone would remember her contribution in the field of education, especially as a member of board of Governors of Punjab Public School, Nabha. She carried forward the task of her husband General Kalwant Singh, who also was on the Board of the school since the inception of Punjab Public School, Nabha.



 

PSEB extends date
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 24
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to extend the last date, till November 30, to accept transformers procured by prospective tubewell consumers obtaining connections under “Own Your Tubewell Scheme” without inspection and sealing by the Inspecting Officer and Sealing Officer of the Board. However, after November 30, no transformer will be accepted from the consumers without inspection.



 

Dearness relief for pensioners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The Punjab Government today granted another instalment of dearness relief to pensioners/family pensioners in the state from July 1, 2001, thereby enhancing the dearness allowance from 43 per cent to 45 per cent.



 

98 lakh tonnes of paddy procured
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
Paddy procurement in Punjab touched 98 lakh tonnes on October 22. It is likely to cross last year’s figure of 110.32 lakh tonnes, the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, said here yesterday. A special feature of this year’s procurement was that 97 per cent of paddy was recorded as “A” variety, according to a press release.



 

New Municipal Act soon: Tandon
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 24
The new Municipal Act for Punjab will be notified soon. The Punjab Government has sent clarifications sought by the Union Government regarding the newly drafted Act of the state and now only the formal assent of the President is awaited.

Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Local Self-government Minister, Punjab, gave this information while talking to mediapersons here today. He was here to attend the annual function of the local Shivalik Public School.

Earlier, the state government had sent the Municipal Act of the state to the Central Government. Its notification was delayed because of certain objections raised by the Union Law Ministry. The ministry had maintained that certain provisions in the new Act were against the provisions of the 74th Amendment in the Constitution.

He said the government was committed to lifting of the octroi whenever the high court stay was lifted.

About the extra seats the BJP would demand from the SAD he said the party would lay stress on claiming those seats which were presently not represented by the SAD or the BJP. The number of seats to be contested by both coalition partners would be decided only after the announcement of the election date.



 

Time for depositing dues extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 24
The Punjab Government has extended by two months the period for depositing instalments by government land allottees. Now they can deposit their dues up to December 31, the Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, said here today.



 

Villager held for sister’s murder
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 24
The Lehra police has arrested Kewal Krishan, a shopkeeper of Gobindgarh Jejian village, for allegedly killing his sister, Rani, and a four-year-old child, Amritpal, son of Hari Bhan of the same village, in the last week of September. The police registered murder cases against Kewal Krishan yesterday.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, Sangrur, said in both cases of murder, Kewal Krishan gave a poisonous substance to the victims. He said Kewal Krishan killed his sister to grab the money which she got from her former in-laws and earned by stitching clothes.

Mr Aulakh said Kewal Krishan confessed that he also killed a child, Amritpal, as his father, Hari Bhan, had not been making payment of the commodities taken from his shop. The SSP said Kewal Krishan had confessed his crime before the village panchayat which produced him in the Lehra police station.

The SSP also stated that the Dhuri police had arrested four persons, namely Balbir Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Hardev Singh and Gurmit Singh, while their accomplice Balwinder Singh, managed to escape when they were planning to rob a bank at Mimsa village. They were arrested from a deserted place near Bugra village near Dhuri.

Mr Aulakh further said that the police had seized two pistols of .12 bore, four cartridges, two toy pistols and scooter from those arrested. He said they confessed that they had stolen a scooter from Kanjhla village and looted two liquor shops at Chaunda and Salempur villages.

The SSP said several cases had been registered against them at various police stations in the past few years.



 

DAV College wins fest trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 24
The local DAV College won the Guru Nanak Dev University Zonal Youth Festival trophy for men today. Hindu College, Amritsar, and Khalsa College, Amritsar, stood second and third, respectively. In the “B” division, SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib, won the championship while Guru Nanak College, Batala, and Government College, Ajnala, were placed second and third, respectively.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the function and gave away trophies to the winners.

The following stood first in various competitions: Cartooning: DAV College, Amritsar; Colleage: DAV College, Amritsar; Debate: Government College, Ajnala; Quiz: Hindu College, Amritsar; Skit: DAV College, Amritsar; One-act play; DAV College, Amritsar; and Bhangra: SGAD College, Khadoor Sahib.


 

PU youth festival concludes
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, October 24
The three-day Panjab University Zonal Youth Festival concluded at the local DAV College today. Several one-act plays were staged on the concluding day.

The winners of various competitions were the following: Debate: Arshpreet of Government College, Hoshiarpur; Indian classical dance: Yuvika of DAV College, Hoshiarpur; Group dance: DAV College, Hoshiarpur, Punjabi folk dance (Bhangra): SD College, Hoshiarpur; and Gidha: Government College, Hoshiarpur.



 

PU Zonal Youth Festival results
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, October 24
Folk and classical dance performances were the highlight of the finale of the Panjab University Zonal Youth Festival held here at the DAV College for Women. In all, 18 teams comprising over 350 students competed in different events. Mr G.S. Julka, General Manager, Telecom, presided over the valedictory function and gave away the prizes to the winning teams. The final day results were as following:

Group dance: Dev Samaj College, (1); Dashmesh College, Badal, (2); and SBBGNG College, Sukhanand (3).

Individual winners: Neeru Bala, SBBSNG College, Sukhanand, (1); Minica, Dev Samaj College, Ferozepore, (2); and Anjali, Dashmesh College, Badal (3).

Punjabi folk dance (gidha): S.D. College for Women, Moga, (1); Dashmesh College, Badal, (2); and Dev Samaj College Ferozepore, (3).

Individual winners: Baljit, S.D. College, Moga, (1); Mandeep, Gopi Chand College, Abohar (2); and Harpreet, MMD DAV College, Gidderbaha, (3).



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