Wednesday, November 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Pbi varsity pleasing govt?
Youth festival dedicated to Maharaja
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 6
Punjabi University has dedicated the North Zone Inter University Zonal Youth Festival to the memory of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, despite the fact that it is being sponsored by the Association of Indian Universities and the Ministry of Youth Welfare and no such announcement has been made by both institutions.

The dedication of the youth festival to the Maharaja seems to have been a sudden decision by the authorities who forgot to mention this fact in the invitation cards for the inaugural function which was held today with Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa as chief guest.

Literary circles are questioning the manner in which the university is trying to please the Punjab government by dedicating a national-level programme to the memory of the Maharaja. The university, however, thinks differently. An official press note last evening said the dedication of the youth festival to the Maharaja would help students imbibe the values for which he stood.

Even as the festival has been dedicated to the Maharaja there is not a single function related to his coronation celebrations during the five-day programme released by the university.

Dedicating functions and institutions to the memory of the Maharaja has not been lucky for the university earlier. It dedicated its ‘’Kala Bhawan’’ to his memory after felling trees and obliterating a landscaped garden. The dedication of the Institute of Information Technology set up in collaboration with a private party has met a worse fate.

The institute, which was slated to take the university into the new millennium, however, could not set up standards in computer education, offering only standard courses.

The institute is in the thick of a controversy with students on strike since a week demanding that the university explains its exact status vis-a-vis the University Grants Commission. The UGC Chairman, while on a visit to the campus recently to attend a conference of Vice-Chancellors of the northern region, had during his interaction with newsmen stated that the UGC would not allow universities to run education through franchises or private parties.

The students of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology (MRSIIT) went on strike soon after the remarks. A meeting of students with the Vice-Chancellor yesterday remained inconclusive.


Badal harps on Panthic unity
Tribune News Service

Mullanpur (Ludhiana), November 6
Mr Parkash Singh Badal today seemed to harp on the theme of unity among various Panthic groups, wishing that in case all Akali factions joined together then, all Congress candidates would have to forfeit their security deposits in the forthcoming assembly elections. Addressing party workers and members of various panchayats of the Dhaka assembly segment, during the sangat darshan programme, Mr Badal wished, “if the Akalis (all of them) spoke in one voice no Congress candidate will be able to save his security deposit in the elections”.

However, he did not want to be seen too desperate for unity. At the same time he was critical of the Panthic Morcha leaders alleging that they were hell bent on maligning him. He added in the same tone, “while I am the enemy No. 1 of the Panthic Morcha, the Congress is the enemy of all Akalis”. He sought to convey that the Congress was everybody’s common enemy and appealed to the people to ensure that they vote only on the Akali symbol.

However, he directed all his ire on the Congress tracing the history of omission and commission by its leaders right from Jawaharlal Nehru to Rajiv Gandhi. He did not even spare Lal Bahadur Shastri. Starting with Nehru, Badal said when Nehru’s China policy failed he died of heart attack. Continuing his rhetoric he said, when Shastri learnt that people had not welcomed his agreement he had signed in Tashkent with Pakistan military ruler General Ayub Khan, he also died of heart attack. And about Indira Gandhi he reiterated his party’s stand that she died for her role in Operation Bluestar. Concluding his rhetoric at Rajiv Gandhi, he observed he was too immature as when his own house was not in order he sent the Indian army to Sri Lanka, which ultimately led to his death.

It looked like a typical election speech where Mr Badal made no qualms in seeking votes. The Chief Minister made a fervent appeal to all the panches and sarpanches to cast their vote in favour of the Akali candidates to ensure development, peace and progress in the state. He asked the panches and sarpanches to raise their hands in his support which they did quite obligingly. He also counted various development projects launched by his government in the state.

Lashing out at the Congress, Mr Badal said the sangat darshan programmes were purely development oriented and the party (the Congress) was trying to give it a political colour. He also referred to a writ petition filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the sangat darshan programmes. He said, “No power on earth can prevent me from launching development schemes as I am the elected head of the state”. He stated that he had already completed 90 per cent assembly segments under this programme and the remaining segments would be completed very soon.

He admitted that the economic situation in the state was “pitiable” and blamed the 40-year Congress rule for it. However, he assured that he had arranged with the Central Government and had already got handsome grants for the development works.


Four killed in Ludhiana fire
Vimal Sumbly & Kamal Kishore Shankar

Ludhiana, November 6
At least three persons (four, according to UNI) were killed and several others injured in a major fire that broke out at the Jawahar Nagar main market here this evening. The fire which started in an illegal cracker shop soon spread to adjacent shops and houses. The flames kept on raging for a few hours, despite a number of fire tenders trying to extinguish it. Several vehicles, including about a dozen of scooters, were also gutted in the fire. The total loss is being put at several crores. However, the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Kaler, who was supervising the rescue operations confirmed that only one body was recovered.

Those killed were identified as Kasturi Lala, his servant Kanshi Ram and a vegetable vendor whose name could not be confirmed. Although the cause of the fire could not be confirmed, the eyewitnesses said it resulted after some sparks from a fast food vendor flew into a cracker shop. This immediately started fire in the cracker shop and within no time the entire market place had turned into an inferno. Fortunately the fire tenders reached the spot within minutes of the incident.

The people went helter-skelter trying to rush out of the market to save their lives. Since the market is congested and due to the festival time evening rush, panic gripped the area. The shopkeepers rushed out of their shops. The vehicles parked outside the shops also caught fire.

The city Mayor, Mr Apinder Singh Garewal, the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Kaler, the SDM (East), Mr Kuldeep, and the SP (City), Mr Gursharan Sandhu, rushed to the spot and supervised the rescue operations. Mr Kaler told The Tribune that one charred body had been recovered so far. He said 20 fire tenders were pressed into service to extinguish the fire. Preliminary inquiries have confirmed that the fire emerged from the cracker shop which was being run illegally. According to the District Magistrate’s notification of September 21, only 10 spots were marked for the sale of crackers and Jawahar Nagar market was not included in the list. A police post is located only about 100 yards from the shop.


Riar faction challenges Dhindsa; friction comes to fore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6
The local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) led by its President, Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar, today challenged the authority of the SAD national secretary general and Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.

An emergency meeting of the party chaired by Mr Riar and attended by 11 delegates of the local unit, three delegates of the state unit, most of heads of the frontal organisations and office-bearers here today accused Mr Dhindsa of encouraging indiscipline in the local unit and warned him to desist from interfering in the local affairs.

The challenge to Mr Dhindsa by the Riar faction came as a setback to the unity efforts in the local unit as Mr Dhindsa was asked by the party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to bring about rapprochement in Akali factions led by the Mayor, Ms Harjinder Kaur and Mr Riar.

The Riar faction’s attack on Mr Dhindsa came in wake of the SAD secretary general’s assertion that Mr Riar had no authority to expel his bete noire Ms Harjinder Kaur and her supporter party office-bearers.

The local unit felt that the Chandigarh unit was under the direct supervision of the SAD President, Mr Badal, and Mr Dhindsa did not have any jurisdiction over it.

Mr Dhindsa had said that he was asked by Mr. Badal to look after all units outside Punjab, including those abroad.

He had said that he would call a meeting this week to sort out differences between the two factions but with today’s stand Mr Dhindsa’s plans seemed doomed.

The meeting asserted that Mr Dhindsa’s claim that Mr Riar could not expel any body from the party amounts to playing into the hands of the ‘anti-party forces’.

It was said that Mr Riar, who was authorised to appoint office-bearers, could also expel them.

Mr Riar informed that he had telephonic conversation with Mr Badal who told him that Mr Dhindsa did not have anything to do with the local unit and Mr Riar was fully competent to take any decisions in the party, including seat sharing with the BJP.

The meeting also put conditions before the Mayor for rejoining the party and said party general secretaries, Mr N. S. Minhas and Mr H. S. Sahni, were residents of SAS Nagar and they had nothing to do with the Chandigarh unit.

The conditions before the Mayor were to remove late Indira Gandhi’s photograph from her office, present herself before Akal Takht, tender resignation from the mayorship as she was elected with the vote of Congress and beg pardon from the Sikh sangat of the city for ‘anti-party activities’.


No package sought from PM: SAD
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 6
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, and Secretary-General of SAD, said today that SAD had not asked Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee to announce any package for Punjab during his visit to Amritsar on November 18 as he was visiting the state to participate in the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh.

Mr Dhindsa was talking to mediapersons at the complex of Gurdwara Nankiana Sahib near here after addressing a meeting of the Akali workers held in connection with the coronation ceremony functions to be organised at Badrukhan near Sangrur and at Amritsar on November 11 and 18, respectively. Mr Dhindsa called upon the workers to participate in large numbers at these functions.

Mr Dhindsa said though SAD had not asked for any package but the Prime Minister might announce the same. He said whenever SAD had asked the Prime Minister for any financial assistance the same had been provided to Punjab whether it was in the case of paddy package or industrial package.

In reply to a question, Mr Dhindsa said the formation of the Panthic Morcha’s government after the ensuing assembly elections was a dream of Mr Simranjit Singh Mann. Secondly, he was not a candidate for the post of Chief Minister as the Panthic Morcha was projecting Mr Ravi Inder Singh for chief ministership under these circumstances, how he was talking about a six-month tax holiday in Punjab and putting the Congress and Akali leaders behind bars under corruption charges, he added.

Regarding POTO, Mr Dhindsa said the implementation of POTO was a decision of the Union Cabinet. In case, the opposition parties or the parties in the NDA wanted a change in some provisions of it the Union Government would follow the consensus, to be formed after holding discussions, before tabling POTO in Parliament.

Mr Dhindsa said regarding the fate of the Sikhs in Afghanistan, the Indian Government and SAD were equally worried and efforts were being made through the UN for the safety of the Sikhs as the country had no embassy in Afghanistan.


Sikh High Priests to meet today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 6
At least seven persons found guilty for having direct links with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara will appear before the five Sikh Priests who will hold a crucial meeting at Akal Takht tomorrow.

Other cases relating to the Sikh religion may also come up for discussion during the meeting. Those who will appear before the High Priests are Sant Shamsher Singh Jagera, President, Sant Samaj, Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, political secretary to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Mr Ajaib Singh Bedil, Thekedar Balbir Singh, Bhai Nirbhai Singh and two granthis of a gurdwara.

For uniformity in Sikh ‘maryada’ at all “deras” of Nihangs, a separate meeting of representatives of the Nihang sects will be held at Akal Takht. The meeting has been necessitated in the wake of allegations that many Nihang Sikhs visited the “dera” of Baba Bhaniara in violation of the edict issued by Akal Takht.


Cong urged to review stand on POTO
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
The Chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front (AIATF), Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, today criticised the Congress for taking a partisan stand on the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO), saying that the party was doing it in view of the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, where it wanted to appease the Muslim electorate. He asked party leaders not to compromise the interests of the nation.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Bitta regretted that senior Congress leaders like Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr Salman Khurshid were describing it as an anti-Muslim law. Referring to Mr Azad’s statement that the BJP should not repeat Congress’ mistake — which had brought in TADA— Mr Bitta said it smacked of the communal politics that Mr Azad was trying to pursue.

Defending the enactment of POTO, he said his organisation would gherao Parliament on November 26 to press for stringent laws.

Mr Bitta urged Muslim leaders to come forward unambiguously and boldly against terrorism. He lashed out at people like Shahi Imam who were glorifying Osama bin Laden.

When asked whether he was thinking of joining the BJP, since his stand on terrorism and POTO was similar to that of the party, he said: “If I leave the Congress, it would amount to betraying my leaders”. However, he would not mind supporting the BJP when it was pursuing a nationalist agenda, he said.

Mr Bitta also mooted the idea of forming a South Asian coalition against terrorism. He said this coalition should include all South Asian countries except Pakistan. He said his front was organising a meeting of High Commissioners of these countries to create a strong opinion against terrorism in the region.


Withdrawal of POTO sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 6
About 200 members of seven organisations, including the Punjab Radical Students Union, the All-India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF) and the Punjab Students Union, today sat in dharna in front of the SDM’s office here and took out a march through the town in protest against the US attacks on Afghanistan.

Addressing the dharna, speakers condemned the attacks and demanded that these be stopped. They also demanded the withdrawal of POTO and urged the Union Government to lift the ban on SIMI.

They also urged the Central Government not to support the US action against Afghanistan.

The dharna was addressed, among others, by Mr Nardev Singh, secretary of the state unit of the AIPRF, Mr Sukhwinder Pappi, a leader of the CPI (ML) New Democracy, Mr Ranjit Singh, state committee member of the Inqualabi Kendra, Punjab, Mr Dharminder Patran, a leader of the Punjab Students Union, and Mr Harbans Singh Sonu, treasurer of the Punjab Radical Students Union.


BJP spreading lies, says Sachar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6
The former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court and civil liberty activist, Justice Rajinder Sachar, here today said the BJP was spreading lies to seek support on the Prevention of Terrorist Ordinance (POTO).

Justice Sachar in a statement said that Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley’s claim that the assassins of Rajiv Gandhi were convicted due to POTO’s earlier avtar, TADA, was wrong as they had been absolved of TADA charges by the Supreme Court.

He said they were convicted under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code.

The former president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said that the BJP was trying to create an impression that normal law was insufficient to deal with terrorists.


Show of strength at Cong ‘chetna rally’
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 6
The District Congress Committee today organised a massive chetna rally at the local Shalimar Garden, which actually turned out to be an election campaign.

Capt Amarinder Singh, President, PPCC, who was to address the rally did not reach Kapurthala as he was summoned by Ms Sonia Gandhi and in his absence Mr Avtar Henri, Vice-President of the PPCC, presided over the rally.

The prospective candidates who staked their claim for Congress ticket from Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Phagwara and Bholath seats in the district put up their banners in the pandal. Mr Gulzar Singh, president, DCC, Mrs Jasmine Sandhewalia, Rana Gurjit Singh, Mr Gulzar Singh, Mr Malwinder Singh Chahal, Mr Sukhpal Singh Khaira, Mr Jagtar Singh Multani, Mr Pritam Singh Sikri, Bawa Niranjan Singh, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Raja Sodhi, Mr Rajanbir Singh, Mr Gurmel Singh Cheema, vied with each other in bringing their supporters to the rally to show their strength.

According to information, the aspirants of ticket had removed each other’s banners near the stage yesterday.


Sidhwan re-elected district CPM secretary
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 6
Mr Ajit Singh Sidhwan was re-elected district secretary in the delegate session of the CPM held here today.

Among those elected committee members of the tehsil are Mr Hans Raj, Mr Raghbir Singh, Mr Major Singh, Mr Gurmukh Singh, Mr Ajit Singh Thakkar Sandhu, Mr Davinder Kumar, Mr Harjit Singh, Mr Daljit Singh, Mr Sunder Singh, Mr Sharam Singh, Mr Avtar Singh, Mr Mulakh Raj, Ms Davinder Kaur Mohinder Singh Bishankot, Mr Sohan Singh Dinanagar, Mr Avtar Chand Dhamrai and Mr Nishan Singh Kalanaur.


BJP denies infighting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 6
Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, senior BJP leader and Health Minister, today claimed there was no differences in the party rank and file as reported in a section of the press.

Dr Chawla said Mr Balramji Das Tandon was a senior and respectable leader of the party. Hence, there was no question of having being ignored during the rally addressed by the Prime Minister at Amritsar. Mr Bakshi Ram Arora, BJP leader and Chairman, Improvement Trust, expressed similar views.


Public help sought to weed out corruption
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 6
Various distinguished speakers, while addressing the audience at a seminar on the concluding day of the ‘vigilance awareness week’ here today, stressed on the need for public cooperation to weed out corruption from society.

The District Vigilance Bureau organised a seminar on ‘Corruption a social evil’ at the local S.S.D. Girls College which was attended by distinguished personalities. Mr Surinder Pal Singh and Mr Jaspreet Singh Sidhu, SP and DSP (Vigilance), respectively, said. The state government had announced various cash prizes for those who helped nab corrupt officials.

Prof Mohammad Rafi Government College, Malerkotla, Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, Dr Surjit Singh Bhatti, Ms Raj Gupta, Ms Anuradha Kumar and Mr Gurmeet Singh (all educationists) said corruption had become a part of life.

“Once described as a blemish, now corruption and financial prosperity due to corrupt means has got a silent nod from society,” they said.

The speakers in their concluding remarks said though corruption existed in every walk of life, this did not mean that it could not be uprooted.

Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge, said the public should openly come out against corruption. The power of votes could topple governments and people should not feel helpless.

Various skits presented by school children revealed corruption prevalent in society in various forms.

Mr Raj Pal Meena, DIG, Faridkot Range, who presided over the function, suggested that district and subdivision level committees should be established comprising persons of standing to check corruption.

The corrupt should be socially boycotted. Mr Meena spoke about the “financial, moral and intellectual corruption” in society. He later distributed prizes to students.

The vigilance awareness week was also celebrated at various government offices. The Chief General manager of the local unit of the NFL said in a press note that during the weeklong celebrations various talks with human resource experts were held.


Male literacy lowest in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 6
Social activists at the fifth North-West Indian Sociological Association (NWISA) conference expressed their concern over the imbalanced sex ratio in Punjab and concluded that male literacy rate was also the lowest in the state. According to Ms Jasmeet Sandhu from Guru Nanak Dev University, in comparison, female literacy rate was much higher in the state.

The conference is being hosted by Guru Nanak Dev University in collaboration with the NWISA.

More than a dozen research papers were presented by eminent scholars, on the second day of the conference, today.

Talking about the immigrant Punjabis, Dr H.K. Puri saw the rise of “gadar movement” in America, as a soft and tolerant attitude of American government besides epitomising valour and enterprising nature of the Punjabi immigrants there.

Dr Paramjit Singh Judge of Guru Nanak Dev University, threw light on the continuing caste structure amongst the Punjabis in England. He opined that dalits in England face more discrimination, racist as well as casteist. Dr Gurpreet Bal, talked about the situation of Punjabi women in Canada.

On the relation of agriculture with globalisation, the speakers highlighted the deepening agrarian crisis in the region after the advent of market economy under the directions of the international trade and monetary agencies.

Prof Gopal Iyer, while discussing the impact of globalisation on agriculture, pointed towards the stifling control of the MNCs on the import and export of the agricultural outputs. He also talked about intellectual property rights and exploitative nature of biopiracy.

Prof Surinder Singh Jodhka highlighted the economic and cultural dimension of globalisation in relation to the agrarian situation. The focus has shifted from state controlled agriculture economics to a market oriented one, he said.

Prof Raj Singh observed that globalisation had made significant transformation in the socio-cultural scenario in Haryana as was evident from an increase in crime, decline in primary associations and a virtual collapse of the cottage industries. In another session, the social scientists noted with concern the imbalanced sex ratio in this region.

Prof M.K. Premi, Dr K.C. Kaistha, Dr K.S. Sangwan,

Dr Sukhdev Singh , Ms. Neelam Rani, Dr M. Sidhu , Prof Amarjit Singh Sehi ,Prof Gian Kaur, Prof Satish Kumar Sharma and Dr Falendra K. Sudan presented their papers on the topic.


Hindi can break barriers, says Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 6
Union Chemical and Fertiliser Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today said efforts should be made to make Hindi the country’s national language in the real sense of the word and urged youngsters to learn it along with the language of their province.

Presiding over the inaugural function of the North Zone Youth Festival at Punjabi University here, the Union Minister said this was necessary to inculcate a spirit of nationalism and integration in students. He said it was a pity that even after 54 years of Independence, people of different provinces could not understand each other. The Union Minister urged the students to work for national unity, saying the country could progress only if all of its people worked together for one goal. He said holding of youth festivals and cultural fairs was one way of forging national unity.

Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, speaking on the occasion, dedicated the youth festival to the coronation bicentenary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh and remarked that the precious heritage of the late Maharaja would be revived so that the country could recognise his contribution to human consciousness.

State Public Relations Director S.K. Ahluwalia was present on the occasion.


Panel to tackle anthrax threat
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 6
The Punjab Government will soon set up a high-level committee headed by the Principal Secretary, Health, Punjab, to tackle the anthrax threat.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Punjab Health Minister Baldev Raj Chawla alleged that Pakistan’s ISI was involved in creating the anthrax scare.

He claimed that no case of anthrax had been detected in Punjab till now. Dr Chawla said instructions had been issued to all Civil Surgeons and Senior Medical Officers of the state to deal with the problem.

Dr Chawla said that after a case of polio had been detected in Bathinda district, the state government had decided to administer three more polio doses this year.

He said 116 of the 154 civil hospitals had been modernised with the help of World Bank grants amounting to Rs 422 crore.


Addicts frequent Dabwali
Anti-drug addiction drive
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 6
Finding difficulty in getting intoxicants, particularly cough syrups, in this district due to stringent measures taken by the police, drug addicts of this area have now started visiting neighbouring districts and Haryana to secure their dose.

Hundreds of drug addicts visit various town, including Jaitu of Faridkot district and Dabwali of Sirsa district of Haryana, to buy cough syrups.

Due to its close proximity to Bathinda, Dabwali has become a favourite place for the addicts and these visits have become a permanent feature in their lives.

After the launching of the “Drug- free Bathinda” campaign by the district police chief, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, last year, the police has been checking the smuggling and sale of narcotics and intoxicants with a heavy hand.

Quacks who had been “making” people addicts under the garb of treatment and who had been selling intoxicants have been arrested in large numbers. Manoj (name changed), an addict, said he was finding it difficult to survive without cough syrups as he had been hooked to them for the past 10 years. As these were not easily available in this district, he had been frequenting Dabwali to get his dose, he added.

Binder (name changed), another addict, said he had been spending a lot of money on fuel as he visited Dabwali daily to get cough syrups.

Officials sources said after the measures taken by the police, some of the youths had started selling cough syrups at the doorstep of addicts after buying them from various towns of the neighbouring districts.

The police said in the past two years, cough syrups being sold under various brands had been seized in huge quantities. It also arrested those who had been supplying drugs at the doorstep of addicts.

Dr Jain, SSP, said no laxity was being allowed in this campaign. Informers had been cultivated to check the menace of drug smuggling and sale of intoxicants.

A special watch was being kept on educational institutions which were prone to the sale and consumption of drugs, he added.


Seven convicted of stripping women
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 6
Seven persons have been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for allegedly stripping a disabled Dalit woman and her daughter. The prosecution alleged that both of them were paraded naked in the street, their faces blackened, at Bhangerkhera village here.

The Sarpanch and a member of the panchayat has also been convicted for trying to save the culprits by passing a resolution.

According to a judgement delivered by Mr G.S. Dhillon, JM1C, the complainant had alleged that seven persons entered the house of Jamna Devi on January 15, 1999. Prithvi Ram blamed her for the theft of his lamb. He also accused her of having illicit relations with the father of an accused. He threatened to teach her a lesson. The culprits started assaulting her. When her daughter tried to intervene, she too was assaulted.

Mr Dhillon observed that the occurrence in question was a shameful act which deserved to be condemned in the strongest possible terms. The accused had no fear of law or respect for civilised society and perpetrated a heinous act against two hapless women. To compound the shame, the gram panchayat, instead of hauling up the accused and handing over them to law enforcing agency, devised means to protect them.

The act in question was a serious blot on our society and country. “I am of the view that the accused deserve the maximum punishment possible under the law to teach them a lesson and to set an example so that no other person dares to commit such an act,” he said.

The judge said the Sarpanch conspired with Jas Ram to forge a resolution on behalf of the gram panchayat in order to help a member of the panchayat, and kin. However, other members of the panchayat could not be validly considered to be party to the conspiracy, so they were acquitted, he said.

The court also censured a police officer. The judgement said investigation officer SI Atma Singh had helped the accused. He admitted that the accused were challaned on the instructions of his senior officers otherwise there was no case against them. Such a statement from an officer of the rank of Sub-Inspector was unbecoming. The court convicted Jas Ram Ghumar, Mohan Lal Ghumar, Ram Chand Ghumar, Paharia Ghumar, Krishan Ghumar, Rattan Lal Ghumar, and Prithi Ram Nayak. The quantum of their sentences ranged between nine and 10 years.


Phone directory released
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 6
The pre-paid telephone card facility of Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited BSNL has also been introduced in Bathinda.

Mr Joginder Mohan, General Manager, Telecom, BSNL, Bathinda while releasing the new telephone directory here yesterday said the pre-paid cards which had been given the name India Telephone Card (ITC) would be available at customer service centres situated at Gole Diggi and the Bhagu road areas of the city.

He said the cards would be available in three denominations of Rs 105, Rs 210 and Rs 525 and would be valid for a specified period of time. He said all type of calls could be made by using these cards.

Mr Mohan said the cards were very easy to use and would be beneficial to those businessmen, who visit those towns where they did not own a telephone.

The new directory released today is corrected upto December 31,2000 Mr Mohan said the customers of the area had been demanding since long that new telephone directory should be issued. He said it was about four years ago that directory was issued and since then many new numbers had been added.

Replying to a question regarding the slowing down of Internet services of BSNL, he said it could happen due to the load on the services. He said the number of internet users was increasing but the telephone lines and other equipment were not up to the mark.

He said the scheme to open Internet dhabas at block level was underway and many such dhabas had been opened in the districts. He said the remaining blocks would be covered soon.

He said a target for providing new telephone connections had been set at 36000 this year and out of these 11,000 telephone connections had already been given.


250 rare works to be displayed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 6
As many as 250 rare exhibits and reproductions of priceless works from France and Pakistan on the life of Maharaja Ranjit Singh will be on display here during the bicentenary celebrations of his coronation. This was stated by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the Minorities Commission.

The exhibition aims to depict the life and times of the Maharaja and the efforts made by him to build a modern state in the first half of the 19th century. Many works will be presented for the first time here, including the reproduction of the painting by artist Schoeff, “The Court of Lahore”, measuring 10 feet by 16 feet.

Exhibits on display will also portray the drive launched for modernisation of the Maharaja’s army by engaging French officers of Napoleon in 1822, leading to the formation of an army spearheaded by the Fauj-i-Khas.


Youth’s torture: PHRC orders probe

Chandigarh, November 6
Taking cognizance of a complaint filed by the Lawyers for Human Rights in which a resident of Samrala was alleged to have been brutally tortured by the Punjab police recently, a Full Bench of the Punjab Human Rights Commission today directed its Principal Secretary to inquire into the incident and file his report to it at the earliest.

The commission ordered the District Magistrate, Ludhiana, to provide medical treatment to the victim free of cost and constitute a board of doctors for his medico-legal examination.

According to a complaint filed by victim Randhir Singh, son of Gurcharan Singh, a resident of Samrala in Ludhiana district had consumed some poison on October 26 and was referred to the Civil Hospital, Ludhiana.

He had alleged that after he recovered, some policemen from Haadon police post came to the hospital and directed him to come to the post the next day (November 4) for recording his statement.

He further alleged that on November 4 two policemen came to his house and took him to police post and demanded Rs 15,000. When he expressed his inability to pay the money, he was stripped, tied to a tree in the police post premises and tortured with hot electric iron on his private parts which resulted in burning of the skin. UNI


Ropar plant of PSEB sets record
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 6
The PSEB today claimed that Guru Gobind Singh Thermal Power Plant in Ropar had achieved an all-time generation record by producing 751 million units of electricity in October against a target of 625 million units.

A press note said the plant had generated 664 million units in October 1999.

The Ropar plant has also surpassed its previous production of 5,118 million units during the corresponding period of the current year. Unit three of the plant created a new record by running continuously for 67 days from August 23 as against the previous best continuous running for 63 days, it said, adding that the unloading of coal wagons has also been increased to 590 wagons on a single day in October.


Health Dept men hold protest
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 6
Under the banner of the district unit of the Punjab Health Department Employees Action Committee health employees today took out a protest march through the town and staged a dharna in front of the office of the Civil Surgeon here to protest against the alleged anti-employees policies of the state government.

They urged the government to frame permanent rules with regard to the transfer of the employees. They demanded adequate supply of medicines in hospitals and dispensaries in the rural and urban areas.

The protesters also submitted a memorandum to the district administration.


BKU seeks MSP for sugarcane
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 6
The Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) has stressed upon the Punjab Government to announce the minimum support price of Rs 143 per quintal for sugarcane keeping in view the high cost of production in the state. In press note issued here yesterday, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, state President of the union, demanded immediate commissioning of all sugarcane mills in the cooperative sector to protect the interests of the farmers. He said the private mills had already started the crushing of sugarcane whereas the Sugarfed had not given directions to its sugar mills in this regard which was causing great inconvenience to the sugarcane growers. Mr Lakhowal demanded that concessions should be given to the farming community on a par with other backward classes keeping in view their poor economic condition. He added that if such a step was not taken soon, the farming community would be compelled to launch protest.

He stated that a meeting of the state executive of the Bharti Kisan Union has been convened at Ludhiana on November 15 to chalk out the future course of action.


Farmers forced into distress sale of paddy
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, November 6
A large number of farmers taking their produce to mandis for sale are being forced to sell the same at throwaway prices.

According to sources, the bulk of the paddy is being purchased by private traders at prices ranging between Rs 540-Rs 545 per quintal on the plea that official agencies have stopped buying the paddy at the minimum support price of Rs 560 per quintal.

While the minimum support price of paddy is Rs 560 per quintal, a majority of the produce sold so far has fetched farmers only Rs 540 to Rs 545 per quintal.

Hence, the agents and traders have been making a profit of Rs 15 to Rs 20 per quintal plus the commission.

Paddy worth several lakhs packed in gunny bags at various foodgrain markets is feared to have been damaged due to heavy rain on Saturday night.

Mr Davinder Singh ‘Darshi’, member, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, has urged the stage government to order a high-level probe into the complaints about the damage to paddy stocks.


Punjab Science Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6
Mr J.R. Kundal, Secretary, Science, Technology and Environment, and Mrs Ronik Dubey, Secretary Social Security, Women and Child Development, will swap places, according to a Punjab Government press release.

Mrs Seema Jain has been posted as Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, in addition to MD, PUNWAC, relieving Mr Babu Lal of the additional charge.

Meanwhile, Mr M.P. Singh, has been promoted Secretary to Minister in the cadre of the PSS.


Schoolgirl crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 6
Sandeep Kaur, a class VI student, was crushed to death and a woman injured, when they were hit by a speeding truck while crossing road on a canal bridge on the outskirts of the city this morning.

The injured has been identified as Inderpal Kaur.


Entrance tests for PAU courses soon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 6
Punjab Agricultural University has decided to introduce entrance tests for admission to various post graduate courses from the next academic session.

With this decision PAU has joined other universities in introducing such a practice. Earlier, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, Punjabi University Patiala and Panjab University, Chandigarh, had adopted the entrance test system. However, Punjabi University had abolished the entrance tests last year after following them for six years as the results were very discouraging.

The decision assumes significance for scores of prospective candidates in the state for seats for PAU courses. Earlier admissions were based on the basis of merit.

Mr K.S. Sekhon, Dean, Postgraduate Studies, has confirmed the development. He said the decision had been taken on the recommendation of the Indian Council of Agriculture Research (ICAR). The organisation had given the recommendation for bringing the university on par with the other agriculture universities in the country.

Informed sources said the decision would be publicly announced shortly in order to give enough time for the students to prepare for the examination. According to sources, earlier, the universities had decided to introduce entrance test for admission to two courses only. These were M. Sc agriculture and M. Sc basic sciences.

However, the Academic Council of the university at its meeting held recently had stated that it was not proper that the tests were being conducted for two courses only. It recommended that admission to all courses should be conducted through entrance test.

The sources stated that the modalities of the entrance test were being framed and would be declared soon. The university was taking cue from the experience of the other universities in this regard. It is also being discussed that how much weightage would be given to the marks obtained by a candidate in graduation.


VCs to discuss rescheduling of academic session 
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 6
Preparation of a document — Vision 2020 — introduction of new subjects in the curricula and rescheduling of academic calendars in view of the coming National Games are among the major items to be discussed when the Vice-Chancellors of Panjab, Punjabi and Guru Nanak Dev University meet here on November 12.

This will be the first of quarterly meetings which the Department of Higher Education plans to organise to ensure that higher education in the state moves in tandem with the requirements of society.

Though the Vice-Chancellors of the three universities agreed in principle to reschedule their academic sessions to accommodate the National Games being held at five venues in Punjab and Chandigarh from November 19 to December 1, a final decision has been left to them. The VCs or their nominees attended a meeting of the Organising Committee of the National Games held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister in Ludhiana on November 4.

“The rescheduling of academic sessions will be an important issue,” says Mrs Geetika Kalha, Secretary, Higher Education, “as the Vice-Chancellors have to decide how to reschedule the vacations so that the prescribed syllabi are completed in time for the final university examinations.”

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of GND varsity, says that only two colleges — one each of men and women — will be required to close for the duration of the Games to make available their hostels for the participating athletes.

“These colleges have agreed to hold their classes during the Christmas break ,” he said appreciating the sacrifice being made by both the teaching and non-teaching staff of these two colleges. “It is not only rescheduling their vacations. It also means that they cannot avail themselves of any LTC benefit or cannot spend holidays with their family members.”

A majority of the colleges of Patiala, Ludhiana, Ropar, including SAS Nagar, and the university campus at Patiala and colleges in Chandigarh will be required to accommodate participants of the National Games.

Confirming the holding of the November 1 meeting, Mrs Kalha said that the main issue for discussion would be the preparation of the Vision 2020 document, which basically would serve as a policy document on higher education in the state.

She further said that each university had been going its own way. There was an urgent need for a coordinated approach on the introduction of new subjects like environment.

Though the department had held meetings with each Vice-Chancellor to discuss the problems of the university concerned, the new concept of quarterly meetings was being introduced to ensure proper coordination and uniformity in higher education in the state, she added.


GND varsity B.Com results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 6
The results of B.Com (professional) part-I, B.Com part-II, BIT part-I and II exams of Guru Nanak Dev University held in September 2001 will be declared on November 7.

Meanwhile, the academic staff college of the university is organising a refresher course in fine arts from December 3 to 22. According to the spokesman of the university, the course will be open to the teachers of fine arts, music and dance.

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