Thursday, November 1, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vedanti chides critics of celebrations
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 31
Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti today had a dig at the people who are opposing the bi-centenary celebrations of the coronation ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. He ridiculed their argument that there was no coronation ceremony organised before Maharaja Ranjit Singh ascended the throne.

Talking to reporters here today, the Jathedar did not mince words in criticising the former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, for opposing the celebrations. He claimed that Mr Tohra’s argument was prompted and motivated more by vested interests than by the facts of history.

Jathedar Vedanti pointed out that it was a fact of history that Maharaja Ranjit Singh had ascended the throne after due coronation ceremony. “How is it possible that an emperor would have ascended the throne without a coronation ceremony?” he asked, while charging Mr Tohra with distorting history. He observed Mr Tohra would never have put forth such “ridiculous” arguments which had no historical basis had he been involved in organising the celebrations himself. “Since he is out of the picture, he is desperately trying to distort history”, he remarked.

When asked whether he would like to invite all people to the coronation anniversary celebrations, Mr Vedanti retorted, “why should I! If anyone is interested and inclined, he is welcome and moreover it is the individual interest that matters the most and not the external compulsion”.

The Jathedar tried to evade all controversial questions, particularly, those related to his reported moves to summon the SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi to the Akal Takht for his acceptance of a ‘siropa’ from Baba Kashmira Singh. He said he would not like to comment on any controversial issues. However, he disclosed that he had called a meeting of the five high priests at the Akal Takht on November 7 to discuss all Panthic matters.

Jathedar Vedanti also regretted that a large section of the Sikh youth lacked interest in the religious matters. However, he said, it would be wrong to blame a particular person or institution for it. He called for a thorough introspection within the Panth to ensure that people did not deviate from the path of religion.

He also appealed to all Akali parties to seek inspiration from the Panthic teachings and ensure that the Panthic cause was not harmed at any cost. However, he did not specify any particular party. He said all Akali parties should be Panth oriented.


Sant Waryam Singh passes away
Tribune News Service

Ratwara, October 31
Chanting of slokas and recitation of Gurbani began at the headquarters of the Vishav Gurmat Ruhani Mission soon after the news of the demise of Sant Waryam Singh, founder-president of the mission, reached here today.

Hundreds of followers soon started pouring in at the mission to have the last “darshan” of Sant. The body of Sant Waryam Singh has been kept in the pandal building opposite the newly-constructed gurdwara at the mission ashram.

He died at about 12.45 p.m. at the PGI where he was admitted some days ago. By his bedside were his wife Ranjit Kaur, and daughters Baldev Kaur and Rupinder Kaur.

Sant Waryam Singh, while presiding over the concluding session of the four-day annual samagam, on October 2 had a premonition that it was his “last samagam”. Mr Rashpal Malhotra, a close disciple of the Sant, said the Sant was highly impressed by the service provided to him at the PGI by a team comprising Dr S.K. Sharma and Dr S.C. Sharma and wanted that even if he did not survive, the doctors and other members of the team must be suitably honoured.

He will be cremated on Friday at 12.30 p.m. after his sons Manjit Singh and Nripjit Singh and hundreds of followers arrive here from abroad. The venue of cremation will be Ratwara Sahib.


Institute students go on strike
Demand clarification on UGC chief’s statement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 31
Students of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information and Technology, which was established this year in the Punjabi University campus, today went on strike and raised slogans against the university management, demanding a clarification on the status of the institute.

The Institute was established in collaboration with a private party and named after Maharaja Ranjit Singh to mark the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of the Maharaja being celebrated by the Punjab government.

Students of B.Sc (Computer Technology) boycotted their internal examination yesterday, demanding that the university clarify its position following the remarks made by University Grants Commission Chairman Dr Hari Gautam at the recently concluded North Zone Vice-Chancellor’s Conference that no university would be allowed to give franchise to private parties.

Students of all courses, — B.Sc Computer Technology, M.Sc Software Engineering, B.Sc Information Technology, PGDCA and E-Commerce — today boycotted classes and internal examinations after they could not get an audience with Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia yesterday. They were not satisfied with the assurance given by the Dean, Students Welfare, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon. The students raised slogans against “dilly-dallying” by the university on making the situation clear to them.

Students of the institute told TNS that they would boycott classes indefinitely unless the university issued a clarification. They said the authorities had tried to intimidate them down by calling policemen to the institute. The students said when they took admission they had been told that the institute was an integral part of the university. Now they were being told that it had the status of an affiliated college.

The university management has put up a notice in the institute campus in the name of the Vice-Chancellor, stating that the news item covering the visit of the UGC Chairman was misleading as facts had been misrepresented. The communication says the university does not need the sanction of either the UGC or the AICTE to establish the institute and that this stand has been vindicated by a recent Supreme Court judgement.

The statement says as far as the UGC is concerned, there is no bar on the establishment of the institute, the sole condition being that the nomenclature of degrees should be those notified by the UGC. It says there is no question of disapproval by the UGC of the institute or any of its degree or course. The Syndicate has approved the ordinances of both Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology at Talwandi Sabo, it says.

In a separate notice, the Director of the institute has warned that it has come to the notice of the management that some students are forcing others not to attend the internal examinations of various courses and strict action will be taken against them.


SHO pulls out gun to scare away students
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 31
Hundreds of striking students of Punjab Technical University were today shocked to see the Maqsudan police station in charge taking out his service pistol and threatening their leaders who were agitating against the alleged irregularities and injustice done to students by the university.

Students of different colleges affiliated with the university have been agitating for the past 22 days by holding rallies in front of the university to press for their demands. But it is for the first time that they have been threatened with the use of “excessive” force if they fail to lift the dharna.

The students were demanding the restoration of old rules and regulations and urging the university authorities to ensure their parity with students of other such universities.

The trouble started when a police party headed by Mr Surjit Singh, in charge of the Maqsudan police station, reached the spot and ordered the students to lift the dharna immediately so as to ensure smooth flow of traffic on the busy Jalandhar-Amritsar GT Road.

As the students showed some resistance, Mr Surjit Singh allegedly took out his service pistol to scare them away.

He also allegedly threatened press photographers for clicking his picture while he was pointing his pistol at students.


SGPC panel takes up job
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
The three-member “commission” set up by the SGPC President, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, to enquire into the recent acts of sacrilege in Punjab has taken up the job assigned to it.

The members of the panel are Justice K.S. Tiwana, Justice Ujjagar Singh and Mr Kharak Singh Mann, a Sikh scholar. Two commissions — one set up by the SGPC and the other by the Punjab Government — will hold the probe.

The commission’s office has been opened in the local sub-office of the SGPC. Mr Jawahar Singh, in charge of the sub-office, will provide secretarial assistance to the panel. The SGPC has also deployed a number of jawans of its taskforce to provide security to the members of the commission and their office premises.

Mr Jawahar Singh said that the SGPC’s official work would not be done in the sub-office as the premises had been handed over to the commission till it completed its task. The SGPC has also removed its signboard from the sub-office, obviously to give the impression that the commission has an independent status and that any individual or party can depose before it with the relevant evidence.

The terms of reference of the commission include the acts of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara and his associates vis-a-vis the Sikh religion and sacrilege. The commission will also identify the political forces behind the Baba and those who provided political patronage to him. It will also make recommendations to stop such happenings in the future.

The commission has held three informal meetings to discuss various issues pertaining to the acts of sacrilege to prepare the ground for starting regular hearings, it is learnt.

On Mondays and Tuesdays between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. any person having useful information with regard to the recent incidents and Baba Bhaniara can depose before the commission.

The commission has been requested by the SGPC to submit its report at the earliest. However, the judicial commission constituted by the Punjab Government has not started its work yet. The state government had issued a notification with regard to this commission on October 29.

It is felt that the probe panel set up by the SGPC is likely to complete its task before the panel set up by the government. Once it makes its report public, it many be difficult for the official commission to contradict its contents.


HC quashes Mandi Board-dept merger
Board curbed on loans
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
Punjab Chief Minister’s “sangat darshan” programme today suffered a setback after a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today quashed an order issued on May 29 directing the merger of the Colonisation Department with the Punjab Mandi Board. Seeking directions against the merger, the petitioners had alleged that the action would “put many more crores into the sangat darshan fund”.

Pronouncing the orders in the open court, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, also restrained the Mandi Board from giving loan to the Punjab Rural Development Board or any other agency. The Bench also restrained the board from utilising the funds for purposes other than the ones enumerated in Section 26 of the relevant Act.

The direction is significant as Punjab’s Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal had, in an undertaking before the High Court, stated that Rs 60 crore had been given by the Mandi Board to the Rural Development Board. The AG had revealed that the amount had been given by way of loan out of a total sum of Rs 100 crore. In their detailed order today, the Judges, however, granted liberty to the state government for taking appropriate legislative measures for transferring the functions of the Colonisation Department to the Mandi Board. Regarding the locus standi of the petitioners to file public interest litigation, the Judges ruled that every citizen had the right to ask the court to investigate any misuse of public funds.

In a petition filed in the High Court, two city advocates had earlier sought directions to the state of Punjab and four other respondents against the alleged diversion of Rs 250 crore by the Mandi Board for distribution by the Chief Minister during the “sangat darshan”.

Seeking directions for declaring the alleged diversion “illegal and invalid”, Bar-at-Law Karam Chand and Anil Pal Singh Shergill had stated that the Chief Minister should also “explain to the court how the amount was being spent without specific projects and without the approval of the projects by the boards”. Each penny, they had asserted, should be accounted for to win public confidence.

Referring to a report published in a regional daily on May 25, the petitioners had claimed that even the Chief Minister had admitted taking Rs 250 crore from the Mandi Board. They added that the Mandi Board, acting through resolutions, should also furnish a copy of the resolution vide which Rs 250 crore was sanctioned to be diverted for sangat darshan.

Giving details, they had added: “The attendance in the “sangat darshan” is not open. People are invited after selection and scrutiny. Largesse is distributed among the selected leaders, some times for selected projects. Money is distributed through cheques and these are not to be cleared through the state Treasury. It is obvious that amount distributed is independent of the budget and is not open to public scrutiny.”

In a similar petition, All-India Human Rights Watch president Col N.S. Pandher had sought directions for quashing an orders issued by the Secretary of Punjab Agriculture Produce Marketing Board to Deputy Commissioners asking them to immediately arrange for the sale of plots in the mandis in the state of Punjab and to deposit the sale proceeds with the Mandi Board.

He had stated that Rs 400 to Rs 500 crore were expected from the sale of 700 plots by the Colonisation Department in 20 new mandis in the state. He had added that the state would lose the amount if the Colonisation Department was merged with the Mandi Board. Challenging the decision to merge the two, he had also asked for directions against the diversion of Rs 250 crore by the Mandi Board for distribution by the Punjab Chief Minister during the “sangat darshan”.


Row over kar seva takes new turn
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 31
Tussle over the restarting of kar seva of Gurdwara Dasmi Patshahi at Jand Sahib, village 20 km from here yesterday took a new turn when a congregation comprising members of various rural clubs, panches and sarpanches appealed Baba Ajit Singh to start the work on the gurdwara.

A joint resolution passed at the occasion and signed by more than 132 members of different organisations, panches and sarpanches and numberdars of different gram panchayats was also sent to the Punjab Chief Minister Mr Prakash Sisngh Badal and Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, President, SGPC, seeking their intervention in resolving the issue.

The gathering also decided to hold another meeting by the end of November to decide the future course of action if no proper response was received from Mr Badal and Mr Talwandi. The meeting also regretted the attitude of the management committee particularly of Mr Mohinder Singh Romana a member of the committee and the SGPC for creating hurdles in the kar seva.

Talking to mediapersons Baba Ajit Singh, mukh sevadar, of the gurudwara said he did not want to court any controversy. His main aim was to complete the work at the gurdwara. He said on July 26, 1999, Bibi Jagir Kaur, the then President of the SGPC had laid the foundation stone for starting kar seva and the job was assigned to him by her.

However, after three months the work was stopped by the local management committee. During this period nearly Rs 41 lakh were spent on the historic building.

He stated the management committee also approached Baba Harbans Singh of Delhi for performing kar sewa who refused and asked the committee members to depute Baba Ajit Singh for this purpose.

Baba Ajit Singh said he was already performing kar seva at gurdwaras at Bharatgarh village (Ropar), Raipura Sahib (Bathinda), Bhundar (Muktsar), Ghal Kalan (Moga), Boli Sahib (Faridkot) Mohanta Thathia (Amritsar). He also disclosed that he had already handed over 11 rooms constructed through donations to Akal Academy in Jand Sahib village for the promotion of the education.

When contacted Mr Mohinder Singh Romana said under Section 87 a gurudwara having an income of more than 20 lakh annually was being managed by the SGPC and below this income by a local committee.

He alleged that Baba Ajit Singh and his followers who were managing the gurudwara were misusing funds and were not keeping proper accounts which were audited regularly.

He said under the circumstances the SGPC stopped the kar seva and asked the local committee to do the work properly. In this connection the SGPC also issued letters to the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, Faridkot, for necessary action.


CM doling out millers’ money to ‘sangat’?
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 31
The failure of the Punjab Government to make payment to rice mills for the levy rice supplied by them is adversely affecting the sowing of wheat. According to sources, the main reason cited for withholding the payment is that the Punjab Government has reportedly diverted the amount released by the FCI for distribution in “sangat darshan” programmes of the Chief Minister. The payment of about Rs 25 crore has been withheld in Fazilka only.

According to the government policy for levy rice, millers have started supplying 75 per cent of the total milled rice to the FCI towards the central pool. As they have not received the payment, they have been unable to make the due payment to commission agents from whom they have purchased paddy. As a result commission agents are facing a financial crunch and experiencing difficulty in financing the farmers. According to the rules, the government has to release the payment of levy rice to millers within two or three days of the purchase. However, the Punjab Government has not made any payment against rice purchased by it from millers since October 5. Resentment prevails among rice millers as they have to suffer a large interest for the delay in payment to commission agents. Under the circumstances, rice millers, commission agents and farmers are all feeling harassed.


Badal promises more sops to farmers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 31
Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal expressed concern for farmers and try to make promise that if he came to power again he would try to make farming a profitable business. He praised the Vajpayee for protecting the interests of the farmers by imposing duty on the imports as the previous Congress government had signed the WTO agreement. He said farmers were in debt because cost of farming inputs and the cost of everyday living gone up, whereas prices of produce are the same.

Criticising the Congress and Panthic Morcha, he said that they had no programme and policies accept criticising my government. Called on the people to participate in the celebrations relating to Maharaja Ranjit Singh to be held from November 13th.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister Punjab, who accompanied the CM, highlighted the welfare schemes initiated by the government.

He distributed the grants worth Rs three crore among the village panchayats of the Sirhind constituency and Rs 70 lakh grant to the Municipal Council of Sirhind and Bassi Pathana. He also inaugurated Railway overbridge at Sirhind level crossing constructed at the cost of Rs 9.22 crore in a record time.

Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, Rajeshpal Singh Lalli senior Akali leaders, Gurpreet Singh Bhatti, President Youth Akali Dal and R.S. Cheema, former minister also addressed and sought grants for panchayats.


Case against Kewal Singh adjourned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 31
Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, got further reprieve today when the hearing of the case related to the death of Sharanjit Kaur, his daughter-in-law, was adjourned to December 13. Giani Kewal Singh, along with his son Baljinder Singh and a close relative Joginder Kaur, are facing trial under Sections 304-B and 34 of the IPC.

Earlier, Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, had stayed the operation of the order of a Talwandi Sabo court under which summons and non-bailable warrants were issued against the three accused on June 14. The orders of the Talwandi Sabo court were stayed on a revision petition filed by Baljinder Singh on June 2.

The case against Giani Kewal Singh, Baljinder Singh and Joginder Kaur was registered on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in connection with the death of Sharanjit Kaur on May 18,1997, under abnormal circumstances. When the police did not take action against the accused, Amarjit Singh, brother of the deceased, approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for justice through a writ petition.

The case took an important turn when after the registration of a case against the accused, and application in the court of Judicial Magistrate, Talwandi Sabo, was filed by the then Station House Officer for the cancellation of the FIR, claiming that all three had been found innocent.

Sharanjit Kaur, who was married to Baljinder Singh in 1996, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 1997. Her body was found from the sarovar of Likhan Sar Gurdwara located in front of the official residence of Giani Kewal Singh in the Takht Sri Damdama Sahib complex.


Tributes paid to Indira Gandhi
Tribune Reporters

Faridkot, October 31
The District Congress Committee organised a function here today to remember late Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on her 17th death anniversary.

Various speakers, including Mr Avtar Singh Brar, local MLA, and Mr S.K. Gupta, former DCC president, paid rich tributes to her. Over 200 Congress workers and senior district leaders attended the function.

HOSHIARPUR: The death anniversary of Indira Gandhi was observed by the All-India Rajiv Gandhi Brigade at the Sant market on Wednesday. Mr Harcharan Singh Sodhi, District Controller, Mr Abhey Dutta, senior vice-president, Mr Balwinder Singh, Mr Deepak Puri, Mr Karnail Singh Saini, and Mr Punjab Mal, all leaders of the brigade, paid rich tributes to Indira Gandhi and took pledge to follow in her foot steps.

SHIMLA: The death anniversary of Indira Gandhi was observed here on Wednesday. Her statue at the Ridge was garlanded by ministers of the state government and leaders of the Congress. A separate function was also held at the headquarters of the Congress party.

The Industries Minister, Mr Kishori Lal, garlanded the statue of Indira Gandhi on behalf of the Chief Minister, Mr P.K. Dhumal, who was away on tour.


3 Sangrur cops dismissed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 31
The Sangrur district police chief Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, has yesterday dismissed three constables Gurnam Singh, Baljinder Singh and Rajinder Singh from service.

They were dismissed under Punjab Police Rules 16.1 read with Article 311 (2) (B) of the Constitution of India.

A police officer said the dismissed constables had been deputed to produce three accused Sukhwinder Singh, alias Sukhi, Jagjiwan Singh and Gurinder Singh in the court of SDJM, Dhuri, from Central jail, Patiala, in September this year. The three accused were involved in 31 criminal cases like murder, dacoity, kidnapping snatching etc he added.

The officer added a government bus had been hired to carry the accused but the dismissed constables on their own took the accused from Patiala by train and after producing them in a court at Dhuri hired a car for bringing them back to Patiala.

The officer stated that on way back to Patiala, the dismissed constables along with the accused went to Khanna to visit a relative of an accused and later they also visited Majri village of the accused. At both places the accused and the constables consumed liquor. After that, they started journey for Patiala via Mandi Gobindgarh and Sirhind. They also consumed liquor enroute, he added.

The police officer said that when the constables and the accused reached near Jakhwali village near Patiala, the accused got the car stopped. When all got off from the car, two of the three accused took out pistols and threatened the police officials to kill and escaped in the hired car, the added.


MC fails to decide on memorial site
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 31
Rowdyism prevailed at the Municipal Corporation House meeting here on Monday over the issue of allotment of a prime hotel site for the Maharaja Ranjit Singh memorial building. The opposition to the allotment of the site outside Ram Bagh instead of a site in the bagh saw fiery scenes in the house.

However, the Commissioner announced the constitution of a 6-member committee to look into the matter. The photographers trying to take photographs of the arguing councillors were interrupted by the Mayor, Mr Brij Mohan Kapoor, and the Assistant Commissioner, Mr D.P. Gupta, who threatened to throw them out.

Earlier, the House members argued over the issue of the sale of the government rest house. Opposition members, especially Mr Tarsem Singh Bhola of the CPI, opposed the proposed sale without any approval from any of the Opposition councillors.

Similarly, the issue of increase in the rent of the Guru Nanak Auditorium from Rs 5,100 to Rs 15,000 also saw frayed tempers in the Opposition. A committee to probe the matter was announced by the Mayor. Even the ruling SAD-BJP councillors opposed the increase in the rent.

Meanwhile, women councillors, especially of the ruling SAD-BJP combine, were aggrieved over their non-inclusion during the making of policy decisions.

Several Opposition councillors also raised the issue of non-development of slums and partisan attitude of the ruling party in the allotment of funds to the Wards of the Opposition members.


Mann: probe killing of Bhai Kaunke
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
The President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has urged the government authorities concerned to order a CBI probe into the alleged killing of Bhai Gurdev Singh Kaunke, Jathedar of the Akal Takht.

Mr Mann said here today the Punjab Government did not want to take any action against police officials allegedly responsible for killing the Jathedar. He said though an inquiry into the “disappearance” of Jathedar was held by a senior officer of the Punjab Police and the report was submitted to the government but no action had been taken in this connection yet.

Mr Mann said Jathdar was picked up by the police on January 2, 1993. A few days after his “ arrest”, police authorities had stated that he escaped from the police custody while he was being taken for the recovery of arms.


SPG takes over key venues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 31
An advance party of the Special Protection Group (SPG) has taken over key venues for the two-day BJP national working committee meeting which opens here on November 2.

Besides the SPG, Punjab Police commandos have been deployed at the strategic locations around circuit house and M.K. Hotel, the venues of the meeting.

The Punjab Police is being assisted by the CRPF and other paramilitary forces to provide a tight security cover to the 250-odd top BJP national leadership which will be reaching the city in the next 24 hours.

The party President, Mr Jana Krishnamurthy, along with central office-bearers of the party and other important functionaries, including six Chief Ministers, 25 Central ministers and state party presidents are expected to arrive here by tomorrow evening to participate in the opening session of the national executive meeting.

The General Secretary, Mr P.L. Khandelwal, along with Mr O.P. Kohli, talking to mediapersons here, said the two-day conclave would focus on terrorism.


Arhtiyas end strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 31
Arhtiyas who had been on a two-day strike at the local grain market resumed work at 1.00 p.m. today after receiving part payment from the agencies concerned. They were protesting against the delay on payments for paddy procured by procurement agencies.

The arhtiyas also took part in paddy auction as the authorities concerned assured them that remaining payments would be made with in a week.

Mr Pradeep Kumar Singla, general secretary of the local Arhtiyas Association, said they had temporarily withdrawn agitation on the assurance of the authorities. But in case the agencies failed to make payments, they would resume the agitation.

Meanwhile, Ms Gurmeet Kaur, District Food and Supplies Controller, talking to The Tribune said the Food and Supplies Department today disbursed Rs 37 crore among the arhtiyas in the district. She further said Punsup and the Warehouse Corporation also disbursed Rs 25 crore each among the arhtiyas.


Governor leads ‘shobha yatra’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 31
Birth anniversary of Lord Balmiki was celebrated here with fervour.

Social and religious organisations organised a joint “vishal shobha yatra”. Babu Parmanand, Governor of Haryana, Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly Chaudhary Jagit Singh led it. People of all religions participated in the “yatra” which passed through Ali Mohalla, Jyoti Chowk, Company Bagh, Phagwara Gate, Milap Chowk and concluded at Ali Mohala Balmiki temple. Langars too were also organised en route the yatra.

Speaking on the occasion, Babu Parmanand exhorted people to follow teachings of Bhagwan Balmiki for the formation of a healthy society — free discrimination on caste and religion basis — where every body had equal rights and opportunities.


PSEB to set up coal washeries in Jharkhand
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 31
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to set up coal washeries in the Karanpur area of Jharkhand at a cost of Rs 80 crore to tackle the problem of pollution near its thermal plants.

An official release here yesterday said that washeries, which would have a total capacity of 3.5 million tonnes per annum would be installed through private investment on build, own and operate basis through competitive bidding.


PSEB lifts power-cuts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 31
After reviewing the current demand and availability of power, the Punjab State Electricity Board has decided to lift power-cuts on urban and industrial feeders with immediate effect. The compulsory weekly off day for industrial consumers has also been withdrawn which will enable these consumers to run their units seven days a week.

A press note of the board stated that the timing of peak load hours restrictions on big industrial consumers would be advanced by 30 minutes with effect from November 1 to January 31. The large supply consumers in north, south, west and border operation zones would observe peak load restrictions from 6 pm to 9 pm, while in the central zone the timings would be 6.30 pm to 9.30 pm.


No Shiromani awards during Punjabi Week
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 31
The Punjab State Language Department is celebrating Punjabi Week from tomorrow sans the distribution of the Rs 1 lakh each to 13 Shiromani Sahitkar and Shiromani Patarkar (journalist) awards. The awards, which have not been distributed during the past three years continuously, were announced during a special function held in the beginning of this year which was presided over by Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

The Chief Minister had during the function expressed his anguish that the awards could not be given away for three years in a row and had asserted that funds would not be allowed to come in the way of distribution of the awards.

However, this promise has not been kept with the Punjabi Week set to be celebrated without distribution of the awards. 


SGPC voters: forms’ date extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh October 31
The Gurdwara Commission of the Union Government has extended the date till December 12 receive the duly filled prescribed forms to enrol new voters for the SGPC elections. A spokesman of the commission said here today that all eligible “Keshadharis and Sehajdharis” who fulfill the conditions laid down in Form 1 and Form 1 (A), respectively, should submit their forms by the due date.


HC quashes FIR in rape case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has quashed FIR no. 557 dated November 25, 2000 registered at Dera Bassi police station in Patiala district. The FIR related to case of alleged rape and invoked Sections 375/376/362/363/342/120-B/34 of the IPC against Jaswant Kaur and Nachchatar Ram alias Nachchatar Singh.

According to the FIR , Reena Rani (19) daughter of Jarnail Singh of Devi Nagar village under Dera Bassi tehsil of Patiala district on November 8, 2000 complained to a court at Rajpura in Patiala District against Varinder Singh and his brothers Sukhvinder, Devinder and others alleging rape by them. She had also stated that her marriage was fixed for April 9, 2000 with Varinder Singh s/o Nachchatar Singh. The Rajpura Court directed the Dera Bassi police to register a case. The police recorded the statement of Reena Rani and after investigation put up the challan before the court.

The counsel for the defendant accused moved the high court praying that there was contradiction in the statements of complainant Reena Rani. The counsel pleaded that if according to Reena Rani Varinder Singh had allegedly raped her on March 19, 2000 than she would not have made the statement to the High Court on August 29, 2000 then she wanted to marry him ( Varinder Singh). The counsel described the allegations as false and an afterthought. It was the abuse of the process of law, he added.

Concurring with the pleas of the counsel for the defendant accused Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the high court directed the quashing of the FIR and subsequent proceedings taken thereunder.


JE murder accused remains scot-free
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 31
The accused in the Davinder Singh Walia murder case continues to roam free despite his identification in the FIR. Walia was working as Junior Engineer in the PSEB and was brutally murdered on the night of October 9 by Satpal Singh Satta, sub-station attendant of the same department, with a sharp-edged weapon.

However, despite the registration of the murder case, the accused reportedly remains “unscathed”, even as he remains absent from duty.

The assurances given by Ms Ratna, Congress general secretary, Mr Kirpal Singh, former MP and president of the Chief Khalsa Divan and Mr Charanjit Singh, president, Punjab Employees Federation, on the bhog ceremony of the deceased seems to have little effect in the arrest of the accused.


Protest against US strikes

Kapurthala, October 31
Workers of CPI (ML) today held a rally in protest against the air strikes by the USA on Afghanistan resulting in “killings of innocent persons”.

Addressing a rally CPI (ML) state secretary Darshan Singh alleged that the USA had waged a war against Afghanistan on the pretext of apprehending Saudi fugitive Osama bin Laden. PTI


Couple commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 31
Shinderpal Singh and his wife, Harpreet Kaur committed suicide on the intervening night of October 29 and 30. They were residents of Dhanaula, 10 km from here.

According to reports, Harpreet Kaur first committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance and upset over his wife’s death, Shinderpal Singh also consumed a poisonous substance. He was rushed to a Ludhiana hospital for treatment but he died on the way, near Mahal Kalan.

The couple got married about seven years ago but were issueless, which was stated to be the cause behind the drastic step. The Dhanaula police has initiated proceedings.


WHO polio drive in 6 Malwa districts

Moga, October 31
On the directions of the World Health Organisation and the Union Family Welfare Ministry, the Punjab State Health Directorate today launched a special polio drive in Moga, Faridkot, Muktsar, Bathinda and Ferozepore districts of the Malwa belt.

The drive is being directly supervised by the Deputy Commissioners and the Civil Surgeons of the respective districts. During the six-day drive against polio, over seven lakh children upto the age of five years will be covered. UNI


Paddy procurement
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 31
About 11,59,000 metric tonnes of paddy has been procured through various government and private agencies in the district till date. Out of this government agencies have procured nearly 10,84,000 metric tonnes while private agencies have procured about 64,000 metric tonnes of paddy. This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, in a press note issued today.

He also stated that out of the paddy procured by government agencies 1,83,373 metric tonnes was purchased by the Food and Civil Supplies Department, 2,30,037 metric tonnes was purchased by Markfed, 2,89,906 metric tonnes by Punsup, 1,86,451 metric tonnes was purchased by the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation, 95,143 metric tonnes was purchased by Punjab Agro and 1,09,663 metric tonnes was purchased by the Food Corporation of India.

He also claimed that payments were being made to the farmers in time.


Repatriate ADGP to cadre state: ministry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 31
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has directed the Punjab Government to immediately repatriate Mr S.S. Virk, ADGP, to his parent cadre state.

Official sources told TNS today that the Home Ministry had asked the state government either to relieve Mr Virk by today or he should be “deemed as relieved” after October 31. The Home Ministry had specifically told the state government for strict compliance of its directives.

The sources said the state Home Department authorities had conveyed the Union Government’s directive to Mr Virk through a demi-official letter and compliance.

The ministry had earlier also directed, though unsuccessfully, a number of times to the state government to send Mr Virk back to his parent cadre, but it was for the first time that the ministry had specifically mentioned that he should be deemed as relieved after October 31.

Mr Virk, who has held very important posts in Punjab, including that of the SSP, Amritsar, when terrorism was at its peak. He played a very crucial role in tackling militancy in the state.

He has been promoted to his present rank last week. He belongs to 1970 batch of the IPS (Maharashtra cadre).


Gang of robbers busted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 31
The district police busted a gang of robbers arresting 10 persons here today.

Mr Inderjeet Singh Randhawa, SP (Detective), said today the CIA branch of the district police received information that about 15 armed persons had assembled at a brick-kiln near the Phillaur railway station and were conspiring to commit robbery.

Subsequently, a police party raided the brick-kiln and arrested 10 persons. All those arrested were from Phillaur area: Roshan, Chinda, Gurmeet, Badal and Gurnam, (Ravidas Nagar); Ashok Kumar, Sabu, Mohinder and Baggu, (Dakka colony); and Harbans (Ganna).

A 32 bore revolver, a 12 bore pistol, nine rounds and swords were seized from their possession.

Mr Randhawa said the accused had revealed during preliminary interrogation that they had committed robberies at Adampur, Phillaur and Kartarpur townships.


Man shot dead
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 31
Two persons, including a woman, were murdered in separate incidents here on Monday.

Kirpal Singh, a resident of Ganndi village was shot dead by Satnam Singh and his son Kulwinder Singh, alias Bittu, of the same area with a .12 bore gun. This happened when the deceased along with his cousin Baldev Singh was going to his fields. A land dispute is said to be the cause of the murder. A case has been registered under Section 302, 34 of IPC. The accused are still at large.

In another incident Swraj Kaur of Guru Nanak Wara was strangulated by an unidentified person. Mr Gurpal Singh husband of the deceased, in his statement to the police stated that his wife was alone in the house as his daughter-in-law was away when the incident occurred. According to the FIR cash to the tune of Rs 16,000 and gold jewellery weighing approximately 12 tolas was missing from the house. A case has been registered under Sections 302, 380 of the IPC at Islamabad police station.

Meanwhile, gold jewellery weighing approximately 150 tolas and Rs 20,000 in cash was looted from the residence of Ashok Bhandari of Daya Nand Nagar at Lawrence Road on Monday. In his complaint lodged at Civil Lines police station under Section 381 of the IPC Mr Bhandari suspects his servant Karan (15) to have committed the crime.

In yet another incident an unidentified person was run over by a truck near Goal Bagh. A case has been registered on the statement of Tirath Ram, an eyewitness under Section 304 of the IPC.


Couple with fake passports held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 31
A young couple was arrested at the Rajasansi Airport here today while trying to travel on forged passports to the UK to get married.

Inderjit Kaur of Giganwal in Jalandhar district was travelling on a fake name Manjit Kaur Gill. While Jaswinder Singh of Jodhanagri village here was travelling on the name of Kanwaljit Singh Jhandoo.

They were caught by Immigration officials for carrying British passports with fake names. On inquiry by the officials they could not answer questions relating to the passport details.

Later, on interrogation they revealed that they had paid Rs 2 lakh each to an agent, Lukcy, and were supposed to pay Rs 14 lakh on reaching London. A case under Sections 419, 420, 468 and 120B, IPC, and the Passports Act was registered against the two.


Newly wed burnt to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 31
Maninder Kaur, a resident of Jalandhar city, who was married here on July 29, 2001 was allegedly burnt to death by her husband, Devinder Pal Singh and mother-in-law Balwinder Kaur for bringing inadequate dowry.

Maninder Kaur, who was admitted to DMC at Ludhiana with severe burn injuries on October 23, 2001, died on Monday night.

Police source said Devinder Singh, husband of the deceased, was allegedly pressing her to bring money from her parents and brothers so that he could promote his business. The accused along with his mother used to beat up the deceased. The sources added that on October 23, the mother-in-law of Maninder Kaur, asked her to bring a cup of tea for her. The accused Balwinder Kaur had already detached the pipe of the gas cylinder from the burner.

When Maninder Kaur went to the kitchen, she tried to connect the pipe with the burner. In the meantime, Balwinder Kaur lighted a match stick and threw it in the kitchen and bolted the door of kitchen from outside.

Maninder Kaur, who suffered severe burn injuries, was taken to DMC at Ludhiana. A case was registered on her statement.

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