Friday, December 7, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Teacher sacked after mass protest
Furore over Vineet’s death ends
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 6
The furore over the suicide committed by Vineet, a student of the local M.S.D Public School, after he was allegedly beaten up by a Punjabi teacher and the subsequent protest by his parents and other students subsided late last evening when the management of the school sacked the teacher and declared three holidays as a mark of respect to the dead student.

The protesters, including the parents of Vineet and other students his classmates and other students of the school besides some politicians, yesterday jammed traffic for hours together on the main road and staged a dharna to protest against the inaction on the part of the management and the school authorities after Vineet committed suicide. Some protesters also ransacked the office of the Principal of the school raised slogans against the management.

According to sources, the issue was resolved by the Punjab Minister of Science and Technology, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, who is also the President of the management committee running the school. Mr Garg also assured the protesters that justice would be done in the case with Vineet’s parents.

Vineet, a student of plus two (commerce), consumed a poisonous substance on December 3 when he failed to overcome the trauma he had been facing after the Punjabi teacher in his school allegedly beat him up mercilessly about two weeks ago. Though the parents of deceased gave in writing to the Civil Hospital authorities that their son had consumed poison accidentally, they later started alleging that Vineet had committed suicide after he was beaten up by Punjabi teacher.

Mr Kewal Krishan Garg, secretary of the management committee, who invited criticism from the protesters yesterday, while talking to TNS, said the teacher, who had been accused of beating up Vineet had been sacked.

He said the Principal of the school, Mr O.P. Sharma, had applied for medical leave for an unspecified period and the management was considering his request. He said the resignation submitted by Mr Sharma had not been accepted yet.

He said though the protesters were demanding that the school should be closed for one day as a mark of respect to Vineet, the management had closed it for three days. He added that it would also help the school authorities to reschedule the dates of house tests which were going on.


Punjab to compensate MCs on octroi loss
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
In a significant statement before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab’s Principal Secretary (Finance) P.K. Verma today stated that the government would compensate Municipal Corporations, councils and committees for the loss suffered due to the abolition of octroi in the state.

The statement is significant as a former Municipal Councillor and other petitioners, challenging the decision to abolish octroi, had earlier claimed that the state’s financial position was weak and it was not in a position to bear the burden of paying salaries to the employees after enforcing the decision.

Deposing before a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, today the Principal Secretary asserted that the payment to the MCs for this month would be made by December 15. The Advocate-General, present in court, also stated that an affidavit, containing the undertaking, would be filed in court tomorrow.

Meanwhile, in its reply, the state of Punjab stated that the Council of Ministers, had on November 28 decided to form a committee to find out ways and means of compensating for the loss. Counsel for the state had added that the petition had become infructuous as the decision to abolish octroi had already been implemented. Giving details of the meeting, counsel added that as per the decision, octroi was to be abolished on all items, except on electricity and additional excise duty on liquor, being charged in lieu of octroi.

In his application, former Municipal councillor Mathura Dass had earlier contended that the state should not be permitted to implement the decision till alternate sources of income were provided to municipalities. Claiming that the orders had been passed in violation of the High Court directions, counsel had added that as per the orders the respondents were required to place on record a copy of the decision and were expected to implement the same after obtaining court permission. The respondents had nevertheless ordered the abolition of octroi from December 1.


Low oxygen killed Sutlej fish: report
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, December 6
A lesser amount of dissolved oxygen, allegedly caused due to the release of some toxic effluent, caused the mass mortality of fish in the Sutlej waters near Naya Nangal. Mr Krishan Kumar, ADC, has stated this in his report submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday.

Earlier, the court, taking a suo motu notice of a news item published in The Tribune, had directed the ADC to conduct an inquiry into the reasons that led to the mass mortality of fish in the Sutlej. He was directed to visit the spot on three consecutive days and get the autopsy of the dead fish done.

The ADC said the Fisheries Department took two samples of water from the Sutlej on November 23. Prof M.S. Joshi of the Department of Zoology, Panjab University, tested these samples in the departmental laboratory of the department.

From the analysis of water, Professor Johl concluded that it was difficult for the fish to survive in the both samples as the level of dissolved oxygen was too low.

The normal value of dissolved oxygen in water should be 8-10 mg per litre. The much alkaline water found near the NFL’s discharge point could cause damage to the skin and gills of the fish. If the conditions like it persisted in the water for 20 to 30 minutes, fish would die.

In case of second sample also, which was taken from 1 km downstream from the first sample, Professor Johl concluded that the fish could survive for the time being, but could die due to the shortage of oxygen.

The ADC also stated that he visited the spot for three days and recorded the statements of the villagers residing on the banks of the Sutlej. He recorded the statement of villagers, including the sarpanch of Bela Dhiani. They alleged that the fish started dying on November 17, allegedly due to the effluents of the NFL.

The most startling revelation was that of Jagan Nath, a farmer who has his fields on the banks of the Sutlej. He told the ADC that he saw certain contract workers of the NFL collecting dead fish from the Sutlej and dumping these near their ash ponds, under the supervision of their senior officers. The ADC stated that when he got the spots dug, he found the dead remains.

The ADC has also admitted in his report that fish contractor also allegedly supplied the dead fish in the market. He concluded that from the circumstantial evidence, it seemed that the fish in the Sutlej might have died because of some polluted or toxic water released by the NFL in the river.


Sunit Batra is Miss Lashkara 2001
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 6
Amritsar damsel Sunit Batra was chosen Miss Lashkara-2001 while Kiran Gill of Mumbai and Gehna Singh of Bhopal were declared the first and second runners-up at the ‘Miss Lashkara -2001 Beauty Paegant’ held at the sprawling lawns of Hotel Gulmohar here last night.

Though the programme started over two hours late, yet the audience waited patiently for the mega event which was full of glitz and glamour, flavoured with good music and anticipation. The 20 participants from all over the country held the audience spellbound with their beauty and brains.

First was the saree round, in which all the young girls walked on the ramp very confidently. They wore bright coloured sarees in red, orange, yellow, green and black with heavy pallus and borders of embroidery work. They presented the exquisite feminine look, when the stone, zircon and delicate embroidery work moved elegently with them on their pallus.

After the second round of lehanga-choli, the other subtitles were declared by former Miss India (Universe) Gul Panag, the anchor and the main attraction of the event.

Jatin Kochar, renowned designer and one of the judges presented the ‘Ms Photogenic’ title to Harsangeet Kaur and ‘Ms Beautiful Eyes’ to Surbhi Aggarwal.

Mehr Bhasin, supermodel and another judge, gave the ‘Ms Catwalk’ title to Gagandeep Kaur and ‘Ms Perfect 10’ to Amanpreet Kaur. Kiran Gill won the two titles of ‘Ms Beautiful Hair’ and Ms ‘Beautiful Skin’, while the title of ‘Ms Personality’ was won by Priyanka.

The 12 shortlisted semi-finalists were asked a number of questions on promoting Punjabi culture. The beauties were given a chance to prove themselves with their quick and witty answers on Punjab, Punjabi culture, the ideal woman in the world, important qualities a woman should possess etc. Some of the contestants were uneasy while giving the answers as one of the participants said that she considered Balwant Singh, an ideal man in her life. Then she apologised and said, “The name was Beant Singh and not Balwant Singh”.

The cultural programme by Hans Raj Hans, Sardool Sikandar and Aman Noorie was very much appreciated by the audience.


Kanwaljit clarifies on teachers’ benefits
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today clarified that there was no confusion over the grant of pensionary and gratuity benefits to the teachers of privately-run government-aided colleges in the state.

He said the government was committed to honouring the provisions of the 1999 Act. Under Chapter V of the Act, a corpus fund had been proposed to meet the financial obligations of payment of pension and gratuity to the beneficiaries. The initial amount available was Rs 61 crore out of which the contribution of the state was Rs 58 crore.

A committee had been constituted to suggest ways and means of supplementing this corpus fund as the annual requirement would be Rs 35 crores.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that the Department of Higher Education had been preparing a detailed scheme for the sustenance of the corpus fund. “Once this advice or scheme is received from the Department of Higher Education, it will be approved by the Council of Ministers. As far as the implementation of the Pensionary Benefits Act of 1999 is concerned, there is no confusion. The government is implementing it,” he added.

The Finance Department had already given its concurrence to the implementation of the Act. The scheme or the advice of the Department of Higher Education would ensure that there was no disruption in the disbursement of these pensionary benefits, he added.

The Finance Minister further said that a deputation of the employees’ union of the privately-managed government-aided colleges met him and he assured it that the pensionary benefits, including gratuity, would be given as per the Act of 1999. There was no substance in conflicting reports appearing in a sections of the Press, he asserted.


Non-teaching staff join strike
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 6
The “ceasework” programme in the non-government colleges entered its third day as the college teachers remaining on a stay-in strike. The studies and the examination work in the colleges has been paralised. The non-teaching staff also joined the strike today. The local unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union organised a rally here in front of the residence of the Irrigation Minister and local MLA, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, in support of their demands.


Koshiari non-committal on poll pact with SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 6
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has expressed keenness for an electoral alliance with the BJP in the February-2002 Uttaranchal Assembly elections to be held along with those in Uttar Pradesh and Punjab.

This was stated here today by Uttaranchal Chief Minister, Bhagat Singh Koshiari, at a press conference.

Mr Koshiari said Shiromani Akali Dal President and Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal, had expressed this desire in a telephonic conversation recently.

He, however, appeared non-committal on whether the BJP had accepted the offer of the Punjab Chief Minister for an alliance saying the matter would be considered to the mutual satisfaction of both parties.

The Uttaranchal Chief Minister’s reluctance to accept to readily the offer is borne out from the fact that the Punjab Chief Minister had opposed the inclusion of Udham Singh Nagar in the hill state, which had not been taken kindly by the people of the hill.

The BJP will have to assess whether there could be any backlash in the hill area if the SAD was made a partner and whether the BJP itself could attract Sikh voters in Udham Singh Nagar banking upon their an “anti-Congress’’ tilt.

Mr Koshiari said the state was going to be a “power-house” of north India with an identified potential of 15,000 MW of hydel power as the final hurdle to the Tehri Dam had gone with environmentalist, Sundarlal Bahuguna, reportedly agreeing to remove his hut from the catchment area.

He said the project alone would, in the long run, wipe out Rs 1,250 crore deficit of the state as within next two years, when around 1000 MW of power would be generated, the state would start getting Rs. 120 crore power share annually.

Mr Koshiari said till now around Rs 4,500 crore had been spent on the project and around the 1,500 crore more are required for its completion. He said the state on its own is taking up 304 MW Maneri Bhali phase II project which might be completed in three years.

Mr Koshiari said Punjab had expressed eagerness to join the project but the State Government had requested her to join in other projects.

He said the state was faced with the dual challenge of providing jobs to the people and resisting pressure of creating non-productive jobs.

The CM said European Union countries recently expressed a desire to participate in the state’s quest for creation of power capacity.

Mr Koshiari said if his demand for a special status to the state was granted even for five years, the state was likely to become self-sufficient and self-reliant in 10 years and might even be a model state.


Clergy ‘protecting’ CM’s interests
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 6
Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi, covener, Panthic Morcha, alleged today that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, who was given a two-year extension as priest, Golden Temple, after his superannuation in April, 1998, had no authority to take any decision on behalf of the Panth.

In a press note issued here today, Baba Bedi said Jathedar Vedanti was now working on “daily wages” after the completion of his two-year extension in April last year. Hence he had no moral right to convene a meeting of the Sikh high priests.

Jathedar Vedanti has convened a meeting of the Sikh clergy tomorrow wherein the case of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, a former SGPC chief who had allegedly used “derogatory” language against the jathedars, will be discussed. Baba Bedi alleged that Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh, jathedars of Kesgarh Sahib and Damdama Sahib, respectively, guilty of violating the edict issued by the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, on December 31 in which he had directed leaders of all warring Akali factions to maintain truce till the celebrations of the tercentenary of the Khalsa Panth were over. He said an inquiry constituted by the SGPC was still pending against these two jathedars.

Baba Bedi alleged that the present lot of jathedars could not take any decisions relating to the Panth as they wanted to protect interests of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister. He claimed that the Sikh high priests could not dare to take any action against Mr Talwandi who had rightly protested against the nomination of Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar as SGPC chief.


Pasla charges Surjeet with deserting ideology
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 5
With the expulsion of Mangat Ram Pasla former state secretary of the CPM from the primary membership of the party by the Politburo for his anti-party activities, the Punjab CPM, has virtually split which will be formalised on December 13 when the Pasla faction holds its two-day conference at Jalandhar. The dominant group of the CPM led by Prof Balwant Singh, State Secretary, who has the support of Mr Harkrishen Singh Surjeet has convened its state conference at Garhshankar from December 14 to 16. The Punjab state will witness the first split in the CPM since its formation in 1964. The Communist Party split into the CPI and the CPM in 1964.

Mr Pasla was removed from the state secretaryship of the Punjab CPM in 1998 when he fell out with Mr Harkrishen Singh Surjeet on the issue of extending support to the line that Mr Jyoti Basu be put up as candidate for the prime ministership of the country. Mr Chander Shekhar a confidant of Mr Pasla who was secretary of the Punjab unit of the CITU was removed from the same a month ago. Reacting to the decision of the CPM Politburo Mr Pasla said today that he was nor surprised at the decision because Mr Harkrishen Singh Surjeet had misled the party. ‘I am definitely feeling hurt since I have spent 32 years of my life in the Communist Party. I will keep the flag of the CPM afloat raised by leaders like EMS Namboodripad and P. Sundriya and uphold the traditions of the party in the state.’

Mr Pasla alleged that Mr Surjeet himself had indulged in anti-party activities through Prof. Balwant Singh. At the last state CPM conference at Jalandhar in 1998, campaign was launched and money and liquor was used to oust and defame him. Even police force was used in this campaign. Such things never happened in the CPM and he had brought these facts to the notice of Mr Surjeet and Mr S.R. Pillai at the time of the state conference but Mr Surjeet hushed the matter up.

Mr Pasla further charged that Prof Balwant Singh had not held a meeting of the Punjab CITU for the past more than two years since he did not enjoy majority in the working committee. Rather the women workers were being beaten up by his camp followers. Even the state president of the All-India Democratic Women Association Surjit Kumar was beaten up at Chandigarh and no action had been taken against them so far.

Charging Mr Surjeet with aligning himself with the alien classes Mr Pasla said that a huge complex costing crores of rupees was being built at Chandigarh. From where had the money come, Mr Surjeet should tell the party cadres, he demanded. Instead of making the party of the of working class, toiling masses and peasantry stronger and redressing their grievances, Mr Surjeet was pursuing anti-party activities. ‘Whosoever has confronted Mr Surjeet has been thrown out of the party. Hundreds of workers who have spent lifetime in the party have been shown the door, he alleged.

Mr Pasla asserted that they would 'expose' the acts of Mr Surjeet and his coterie on December 13 and 14 at the Jalandhar conference. There would be a massive rally in the morning on December 13 and this would be followed by a delegate session for two days.

‘We will base our programme on 1964 line and we will be the real CPM in Punjab and launch Communist movement. We will get the support of the members of the central committee and many state units of the CPM’, he said. Mr Pasla said that the conference would also discuss the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Poll prospects and possibilities of having poll alliance with the like-minded parties. ‘We will have no truck with the Congress and oppose the policies of the SAD-BJP, combine he added.

Mr Tarsem Jodhan a former CPM MLA was thrown out of the party in 1998 while Mr Harkanwal Singh and Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu were expelled along with Mr Chander Shekhar in the latest infighting in the CPM Punjab. Mr Jagjit Singh Lyallpuri a CPM stalwart had left the party more than a decade ago and is now general secretary of the MCPI (Marxist Communist Party of India).


Kainth to hold rally on Dec 8
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 6
To bring some former top BSP leaders and those who are dissatisfied with the working of BSP supremo Kanshi Ram on one platform, Bahujan Samaj Morcha leader Satnam Singh Kainth is organising a “massive rally” on December 8 at Partap Bagh here.

Mr Kainth, a former MP who had opted out of the BSP owing to some differences with Mr Kanshi Ram, is thus planning to host a “show of strength” in the Doaba region, where Mr Kanshi Ram and his party has a considerably base among Dalits. Some former BSP leaders are expected to participate in the rally.

“Dalit leaders from all states who were among the founding brigade of the BSP and those who disagree with the way of working of Mr Kanshi Ram will be seen in rally, which will be a turning point in the Dalit politics,” said Mr Kainth while talking to TNS here. He said, among others, the rally would be addressed by Mr R.K. Chaudhary, a sitting MLA from UP, Mr Barkhu Ram Verma, also a sitting MLA and former speaker of the UP Assembly, Mr G.B. Pushkar, MLA, Mr Manohar Atte, former general secretary of the BSP, and Mr Bhojtaru, a former general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the BSP.


Badal keeping SGPC under thumb: Gagowal
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 6
“By appointing Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, his OSD and close associate of excommunicated Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, as President of the SGPC, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, has not only violated the Sikh traditions but also given a proof of keeping religious institutions, like the SGPC, under his control”.

This was stated by Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, former Punjab minister and president, District Congress Committee, here while talking to newspersons today.

He said on his recommendation, Capt Amarinder Singh, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, had approved the list of following block presidents in the district: Mansa (rural) — Mr Jagmail Singh Nangal Kalan; Mansa (urban) — Mr Baghirath Lal Danewalia; Bhikhi — Mr Barkha Ram Pandit; Budhlada — Mr Rattan Lal Goyal; Jhunir — Mr Ajaib Singh Chachohar; Sardulgarh — Prof Jiwan Das Bawa; Raipur — Mr Gobind Singh; and Bareta — Mr Mehar Singh Khanna.

Mr Gagowal said a series of rallies would be organised in the district. The rallies would be held at Budhlada on December 7, Joga on December 15, Mansa on December 24 and Sardulgarh on December 27, he said.


Malti for CBI probe into ministers’ assets
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 6
Former president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) Varinder Kataria today alleged that the SAD-BJP combine government of Punjab had brought the state to the brink of economic disaster due to fiscal mismanagement.

Mr Kataria, while addressing a block-level rally of the party here, said every section of the society had been facing the pinch of the misrule of the Punjab Government which had been wasting crores of rupees in the name of development by distributing grants during “sangat darshan” programmes as a major chunk of this money was being eaten up by the officials in connivance with the ruling politicians.

Dr Malti Thapar, former minister, alleged that traders, employees, farmers and industrialists had been finding it difficult to make both ends meet due to bad governance of the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his Cabinet colleagues. She said to crush the voice being raised against the misdeeds of ruling politicians, the Punjab Government had been implicating Congress workers in false criminal cases in large numbers.

She demanded that a probe by the CBI should be made to unveil the huge assets acquired by ministers and their kin in the past five years.

She alleged that a section of ruling politicians had uprooted the foundation stones laid by former Chief Ministers of the Congress, including the Late Beant Singh, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar and Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Mr Jagjit Singh, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, also addressed the gathering.


Cong, BSP men enter verbal duel
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 6
Workers and leaders of the Congress and the BSP entered into a verbal duel at the local Ambedkar Chowk, where they had organised separate functions to observe the “norman divas” of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

Trouble started when a group of Congress workers, led by Mr Jagjit Singh Chaudhary, the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, bedecked the enclosure of the statue of Dr Ambedkar with small flags.

This was objected to by the BSP workers led by Mr pawan Tinu, a former president of the district unit of the BSP and Mr Sukhbir Singh Shalimar, another BSP leaders, who maintained that the Congress leaders had no right to observe the day as they were not following the policies of Dr Ambedkar in the true sense.


Civic bodies spend lakhs on ads
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 6
Even as municipal councils and corporations of the state have been trying hard to pay the salaries to their employees after the Punjab Government decided to abolish octroi from December 1, 2001, lakhs of rupees have been spent by various civic bodies on inserting advertisements in various dailies to highlight the function organised today at Mohali in connection with the foundation stone laying ceremony of Punjab Municipal Bhavan by the Union Minister for Urban Development, Mr Ananth Kumar.

Big advertisements had been inserted in various dailies despite the fact that almost all municipal councils and corporations of the state are facing financial crunch and urging the government to make arrangements for the payment of salaries of their employees, official sources revealed.

The sources added that last year, the Punjab Government had directed all administrative secretaries to take austerity measures which were outlined in the state budget for 1999-2000. Despite these instructions, big advertisements were inserted in various dailies last year when Mr Tandon launched the state Transient Pass scheme.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that in today’s newspapers some of the civic bodies had inserted advertisements in more than one newspaper. Some Improvement Trusts also inserted advertisements.

Apart from spending lakhs of rupees on the advertisements, almost all senior officials of the municipal councils and corporations had been summoned at Mohali to attend the function through oral instructions.

A senior official of the Punjab Government, on the condition of anonymity, said as the Assembly elections were approaching, so the development works which were being carried out in the state should get proper publicity. He added that spending of a few lakhs of rupees on the advertisements did not affect the financial health of any municipal council or corporation.


Manch holds dharna against POTO
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 6
Members of the local Anti-POTO Manch comprising the Punjab Radical Students Union, the Kirti Mazdoor Union and the All-India People’s Resistance Forum (AIPRF) today sat on a dharna on the office premises of the SDM here and took out a protest march demanding withdrawal of the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance (POTO).

Addressing the dharna, the speakers condemned the Union Government for implementing POTO and urged for its immediate withdrawal, terming it as a “black law”. The speakers also described POTO as anti-people and claimed that it would infringe upon the Fundamental Rights of the citizens in one way or the other. Besides, POTO would also prove to be a danger to the freedom of the press.

The leaders also criticised the Centre for banning several organisations under the provisions of POTO. They said with the implementation of POTO the police had been given unlimited powers.

The dharna was addressed, among others, by Mr Tarsem Lal, district secretary, Democratic Teachers Front, Mr Nardev Singh, state secretary, AIPRF, Mr Harbans Singh Sonu, treasurer, state unit of the Punjab Radical Students Union, Mr Hardev Singh Rathi, district secretary, Democratic Employees Front, Mr Iqbal Singh, Kirti Mazdoor Union leader and Mr Brijesh Kumar, state secretary, Punjab Radical Students Union.


Dalit Sangathan holds rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Mr Jai Singh, president, Dalit Dasta Virodhi Sangathan, said today that farmers in Punjab made a hue and cry if they did not get the minimum support price (MSP) for their produce but spared no thought for the labourers ‘harassed’ by them.

Mr Jai Singh was addressing a rally here today. Members of the sangathan are on an awareness campaign throughout the state to tell the public about the plight of bonded labourers and to free the labourers from the slavery of farmers and brick-kiln owners.

He added that they had started their journey from Banwala village, near Kapurthala, where they succeeded in freeing bonded labourers. Most of the members present here today were once bonded labourers at one or another place.

The president of the sangathan said in Punjab there were more than 8.5 lakh bonded labourers, out of which 5 lakh were working at farms and the rest were in the “captivity” of brick-kiln owners. He said their organisation had so far identified 1,300 such cases and sent their names to the Human Rights Commission for help.

He said it would be better to close the Labour Department of the state as it had failed to identify even a single such case. He said even the Union Government was not doing anything for the welfare of these hapless people. He added that according to the guidelines of the Supreme Court if a labourer did not get minimum wages for his work he would be considered to be a bonded labourer. He said it was a violation of the Supreme Court ruling as well as the provisions of the Constitution.

He said December 10 would be celebrated as International Human Rights Day by the sangathan and a rally would be held at Chandigarh on that day.


MC fails to pay salary to staff
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 6
Abolition of octroi in the state has started showing its adverse affect on the financial health of the municipal councils. The local municipal council has also become its victim as it could not pay the salary to more than 200 employees, including the Executive Officer (EO), for the month of November till date.

This was stated by Mr Mahesh Kumar ‘Meshi’, President of the local municipal council (MC). He said here today that due to shortage of funds the council was unable to pay the salaries to its staff for the month of November.

Mr Meshi further said that the council was facing his situation as regular income from octroi had stopped now. He said earlier the salaries were paid to the employees every month from the octroi collection.

Mr Meshi stated that the council has also not made this payments to about 100 sanitation workers, engaged by the mohalla safai committees in the town. Each sanitation worker used to get Rs 1,000 from the council, he added.

The President also disclosed that even the municipal councillors of the local MC, including himself, had not received their honorarium for the month of November so far due to lack of funds.

Mr Meshi said the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, had assured the council authorities that sufficient amount to pay the salaries to the staff would be released shortly by the government.


Govt urged to withdraw Electricity Bill
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 6
The PSEB Engineers Association, Bathinda zone, has urged the Central Government to withdraw the “Electricity Bill-2001” from the agenda of Parliament as its passing and subsequent implementation would lead to “slavery” of India apart from unprecedented escalation in cost of power.

In a press note issued here today, Mr V.K. Sharma, regional secretary of the association, said the Bill was being passed for short-term personal gains, as the assets of state electricity board (SEBs), worth crores of rupees would be sold off at throwaway prices.

He said the association in its meeting held in the recent past observed that there was no need of bringing this Bill and instead of it the existing laws relating with electricity should be implemented properly. Due to populist schemes of political parties, SEBs were not even allowed to take 3 per cent return whereas in the proposed Bill, minimum 16 per cent rate of return would go to private companies.

Apart from it, the implementation of the Bill would escalate the cost of power and ultimately it would become out of reach of the consumers. The power system would be thrown out of gear by private companies, which would work with only motive of earning profit. Such reforms had already failed in Orissa and Maharashtra, he added.


DC orders removal of encroachments
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
Taking a serious note of the gross violations of the Municipal Act and rampant encroachments being made in the city, Deputy Commissioner R. Venkatratham has ordered that the encroachments must be removed and necessary action taken within three days.

In a press note issued here today, he ordered that no one would be allowed to encroach upon the government land in the Ambedkar Park, Civil Lines, parking places, Power House Road and the 100-foot road areas of the city. Mr Ratnam said the officials had been directed to remove the encroachments at the earliest.

A common modus operandi adopted by the encroachers is that a religious place is erected at a piece of government land and within a few months, it is developed into a sprawling building.

The Bathinda-Barnala bypass, Bibi Wala Road, Bathinda-Goniana Road, 100-foot Road and Power House Road have been reduced to half their width.


Armed men loot bus passengers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 6
A PRTC bus was looted near Jind by some armed robbers on gun-point last night when it was on its way to Sangrur from Delhi.

In a note sent to the PRTC authorities today, Mr Iqbal Singh, General Manager of the Sangrur depot, said the robbers looted cash, gold ornaments and other commodities worth Rs 8 to 10 lakh from the passengers. He said there were been 70 passengers in the bus.

Mr Iqbal Singh also stated that the looting continued for about two hours and the robbers searched the passenger’s pockets three times. Later, they decamped with the loot.

The General Manager said security personnel used to accompany the night bus service in the past but the Sangrur SSP had withdrawn the security recently. The PRTC authorities had requested the SP (Headquarters) in this regard several times, but to no avail, he added.


3 officials held on graft charges
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 6
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested Mr Jasvir Singh, Manager, Punjab National Bank, Vadai branch, allegedly while accepting a bribe of Rs 800 from Mr Jagtar Singh for passing his loan. According to Mr Hardyal Singh Mann, SP, Vigilance Bureau, Mr Jagtar Singh had got a loan of Rs 70,000 sanctioned under the Prime Minister Rozgar Yogna to set up his workshop. An amount of Rs 54800 was provided to him in July last. Mr Mann said for the release of the remaining amount, the Manager had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 800.

In another case, Vigilance sleuths led by Mr Baljeet Singh arrested Mr Jaswinder Singh, Senior Assistant at the DDPO office, Moga, allegedly while accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from Resham Singh, a panchayat member from Kaloor village. According to sources in the Vigilance Bureau, Mr Jaswinder Singh had allegedly demanded Rs 15,000 from Mr Resham Singh for sanctioning an approval for the appointment of a Supervisor.

The team also arrested Reader to SDM, Mr Baljinder Singh, allegedly while accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from Mr Milkha Singh.


Constable held carrying smack
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 6
A team of the Amritsar police led by DSP, Manminder Singh, today arrested Raj Kumar, a police constable, Jaspal Singh, a railway employee, and Harjit Singh and recovered smack from them.

A case under Sections 21/61/85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against the three persons.

In another incident, the police rounded up a matric student, Gangandeep Singh, a resident of Partap Nagar, and Balbir Singh, a resident of Azad Nagar, for consuming drugs. However, they were let off on the assurance given by the panchayat of the area as drugs could not be recovered from them.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested 11 youths who belong to elite families on the charges of gambling. A case under the Gambling Act has been registered against them.

They were identified as Tarlochan Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Bakshish Singh, Vijay Kumar, Tejinder Singh, Jaspal Singh, Mahesh Kumar, Prem Kumar, Anup Singh, Raj Kumar and Devinder Singh.


Principal dies in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 6
Jagdish Rai Kalra (43), Principal of Government Senior Secondary School, Nukerian, was killed yesterday when a bus hit his motor cycle, 6 km from her, on the Fazilka-Abohar road. He died on the spot.

Bus driver Bahadur Singh fled from the spot.

The Sadar police, Fazilka, has registered a case and impounded the bus.

Jagdish Rai Kalra was also a prominent social worker and founder president of the Social Welfare Society of Dabwala Kalan.


Sarpanch booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 6
The police has registered a case at the Nathana police station against Jasbir Kaur, sarpanch of Buraj Kahan village in the district, for committing a fraud of Rs 1,95,000 in a government grant given for the working of the panchayat. Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Jasbir Kaur forged the signatures of another member of the panchayat, coincidentaly whose name was also Jasbir Kaur, on a cheque of Rs 1,95,000 and withdrew the amount from the village branch of the State Bank of India.

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