Sunday, December 9, 2001, Chandigarh, India

 

punjab
P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


TOP STORIES


 

Bhattal not among Cong ticket aspirants
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, a former Congress Chief Minister of Punjab, is not among the 1,000-odd applicants for the party ticket for the coming assembly elections in Punjab. Her predecessor, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar, besides several senior Congress leaders, including Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, are among the applicants.

While the Congress is half way through in inviting nominations for the party ticket, other parties are yet to launch this formal exercise as the announcement for holding elections is expected any time later this month.

Punjab Chief Minister and SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal, who suffered a hip injury in an accidental fall at Amritsar, is also expected back here tomorrow after convalescing at a Delhi hospital. His return would revive political activity usually witnessed on an election.

While probable alliances and seat adjustments would follow a formal announcement of the election date, the ball has been set rolling by the Congress by inviting applications for the party ticket. Each applicant had to submit a demand draft for Rs 5,000 for a general category ticket and Rs 2,500 for a reserve category seat.

Of the 117 seats in the State assembly, 29 are reserved for candidates belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.

Mrs Bhattal was not available for comments. Otherwise, all remaining sitting MLAs have applied for the party ticket. Though the party had made it clear that no one who does not apply by the due date would not be considered for the ticket, no one from the PPCC was prepared to comment on Mrs Bhattal’s absence from the list of candidates.

Meanwhile, the PPCC has started a programme of holding rallies and meetings in each of the 117 constituencies from December 4 till January 5. Each day, five such rallies and meetings will be organised.


 

Punjab to continue free power to farm sector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
In less than 24 hours after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the PSEB to ensure a 3 per cent rate of return, the Punjab Government has clarified that it will continue providing free power to the agricultural sector.

According to sources in the Punjab Government, the target of 3 per cent rate of return will be achieved by checking power theft, reducing transmission losses and, if necessary, by increasing the tariff which was “the lowest in the region after Himachal Pradesh”. The notification would not be withdrawn, they asserted.

Punjab’s Advocate-General Hardev Singh Mattewal, said the Chief Minister had categorically said that the policy was still in force.

Welcoming the high court orders, the AG added that the directions were not a setback to the government’s policy as the notification for providing free power to tubewells had not been quashed. Mr Mattewal further added that the PSEB would comply with the orders and would compensate for the loss by checking power theft and through other measures.

The high court, it may be recalled, had on Friday directed the PSEB to manage its affairs in view of Section 59 of the Electricity (Supply) Act specifying a 3 per cent rate of return. In a ruling on a petition filed by a human rights body — Lawyers Initiative — and three other engineers, the Bench, had also granted the PSEB six months time to comply with the directions.

Challenging the notification, the petitioners had earlier contended that the board, running at a loss, was unable to achieve the stipulated 3 per cent rate of return. Counsel for the petitioners had added that the board had suffered a loss of Rs 1473.1 crore in 1997-98.

In an affidavit, the state of Punjab, on the other hand, had asserted that apart from huge amount of equity investment, the Government of Punjab had extended loans to the PSEB to the tune of Rs 7198.60 crores as on August 31, this year. The state had claimed that the annual interest payable to the state government came to Rs 730.36 crore.

It was added that the PSEB did not actually pay the interest, nor did it return the principal amount against such loans. “Instead, such receivables were adjusted against the subsidisation of the amount calculated by the PSEB on account of subsidised and free power to the rural and agricultural sectors”, it was further added.


 

It’s fragrance of ‘gur’ in Doaba
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur
It is jaggery time everywhere in the Doaba region where the fragrance of fresh “gur” being produced by dozens of seasonal jaggery making units, permeates the air.

Scores of such units have mushroomed along all the main roads in Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts. Hordes of semi-skilled artisans from Uttar Pradesh who have the expertise in making jaggery have descended here to set up makeshift units on vacant land along arterial roads to produce gur in different mouth-watering flavours and delight people of this region, traditional jaggery lovers.

As one takes a road leading to any town, one comes across usually sweet scented air followed by sight of migrants toiling in such units and selling gur at their outlets to passing drivers and their passengers who form the main segment of buyers.

Hoshiarpur, it seems, is the most favoured destination for gur makers as the district boasts of the maximum number of such units during winter. There are more than a dozen such units, called “velnas”, on the Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar road and double that number on the Hoshiarpur-Balachaur road as well as the Jalandhar-Nawanshahr road. “We have inherited this trade from our forefathers, who came all the way to Punjab, to make and sell gur after the harvesting of sugarcane was over. Though, it is not a very profitable business these days and we have been considering change, yet. I think that we have fallen in love with it and Punjab as well,” said Mohammad Alam, hailing from Shahjahanpur (UP) who has set up a unit near Bhikowal village on the Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road.

Hundreds of people like him, mainly from UP and some from Bihar, leave their homes and hearths to earn their livelihood by making this delicacy of Punjabis. After landing here, they take “velnas” from farmers on a contract basis and start business after setting up jhuggis. “One such unit can produce up to five quintals of gur, out of roughly 120 quintals of sugarcane which we procure at a price of Rs 80 per quintal. Though gur rates have remained almost the same at Rs 10 to 12 per kg during the past five years, but the sugarcane price has shot up from Rs 60 to Rs 80 per quintal during this period which has made it difficult for us to carry on with the business,” said Mr Prem Sharma, also a resident of UP who has taken a gur-making unit on contract near Adampur Doaba township.

Almost all people indulging in the business also prepare gur according to the choice and taste of the consumer. “Some people prefer to take it with peanuts, till and even almonds, so we have to make separate arrangements for them. We also supply gur to traders in far-flung markets of Himachal Pradesh and in areas like Ahmedgarh, Patiala and Ludhiana,” said Jasbir Lal, a gur maker at Banga (Nawanshahr).

Enquiries with people in the trade revealed that each worker with these units was getting a monthly salary between Rs 1500 and Rs 2000 and most labourers hailed from the Doaba region. “We had almost been rendered jobless by sugarcane growers who were unable to pay dues owing to non-payment by sugar mills. But people from UP who come here for gur making provide as employment for at least four months a year,” said Gurdev Ram, a worker with a gur making unit situated near Kandhala-Jattan on the Hoshiarpur-Tanda road.


 

Bains’ efforts to unite Akali factions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Efforts have been revived to forge unity among various factions of Shiromani Akali Dal. The latest initiative has come from the US-based World Sikh Council chief, Mr Didar Singh Bains, and his Secretary-General, Mr Jaswant Singh Mann.

Mr Didar Singh Bains, who once was considered one of the richest Sikh in the USA, was present at historic Nadha Sahib Gurdwara, near here, this morning at the bhog ceremony of “akhand path” organised to pray and wish for the well-being of the Punjab Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal Chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The “akhand path” was organised at the behest of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief.

Mr Bains and Mr Mann also met a large number of SAD MLAs, ministers and other party workers at the gurdwara where they were urged to “step up their efforts to forge unity in the Panth on the eve of the elections”.

Mr Bains, who arrived in India some days ago also visited Mr Parkash Singh Badal in Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi. He was also present at a wedding in the family of Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, a dissident Dal MLA, in Patiala. It was at the wedding that Mr Bains and Mr Mann also met the former SGPC chief and the President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

“I did not broach the subject of unity either with Mr Parkash Singh Badal or Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra,” Mr Bains told The Tribune, over the telephone maintaining that “everyone has been pressing me to use my good offices to bring the warring factions together. I know unity is of prime importance at this crucial juncture when the Assembly elections are round the corner.”

“I feel that everyone is keen on unity. I have also met Mr Surjit Singh Barnala. I am convinced that unity is very essential for the Dal,” h e said disclosing that he would meet the Jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti and the SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar at Amritsar on Monday at 10 a.m. Mr Jaswant Singh Mann would accompany him.

Close on the heels of these efforts comes Mr Harbhajan Singh Yogi who is expected to arrive here on December 13. There is annual function of the Miri Piri Academy run by Yogi Harbhajan Singh at Amritsar on December 15.

Both Mr Didar Singh Bains and Yogi Harbhajan Singh have considerable closeness both with Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.


 

SGPC, PGPC refuse to exchange ‘siropas’
Our Correspondent

Attari (Amritsar), December 8
Even as Sikh militants who have taken shelter in Pakistan did not distribute “inflamatory literature”, office-bearers of the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) and the Pakistan Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PGPC) did not exchange “siropas” (robes of honour) at Nankana Sahib to mark the 532nd birth anniversary of Guru Nanak.

Mr Dilmeg Singh, Mr Ram Singh and Mr Tehal Singh, who led the SGPC jatha, refused to bow before the PGPC officials when they approached them to present “siropa” to Mr Sham Singh, president, PGPC. Mr Dilmeg Singh, who arrived here in a special train along with the jatha, said he had also refused to accept the “siropa” from the PGPC chief, thereby refusing to acknowledge the formation of the committee constituted by the government of Pakistan. Interestingly, the “siropas” were exchanged between the office-bearers of the SGPC and the PGPC at gurdwara Panja Sahib (Hasan Abdal) during the Baisakhi celebrations in April.

The jatha members said unlike the past, the Sikh militants from Pakistan and other countries did not distribute the literature of Khalistan to Sikh sangat. There was hardly any banner of “Khalistan” put up at any Sikh shrine in Pakistan. However, while addressing a “political conference” at gurdwara Nankana Sahib, Sikh militants from Pakistan and other countries with the help of the PGPC passed a resolution against the Badal government. The resolution alleged that the Badal government had failed to come up to the expectations of the Sikhs.

Though the PGPC officials gave due respect and honour to the jathas sent by Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, former president of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee, and the one by Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the Vishav Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, yet they gave “step-motherly” treatment to the SGPC officials. Mr Surjit Singh, leader of one of the jathas (sarna group), however, claimed that this time the PGPC managed the pilgrimage better than the previous pilgrimage, yet the SGPC officials were tight-lipped about it.

Since the radical Sikhs remained low profile due to the changed stand of Pakistan against global terrorism after September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the USA, they failed to constitute international Sikh gurdwara management committee to mark the occasion. Meanwhile, a pilgrim, Pritpal Singh, a resident of Jammu, died of a heart attack at gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore. His body was brought here through a special train yesterday.


 
 

Leaders preparing ground for elections
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 8
Though the notification for the Punjab Assembly elections is yet to be issued yet the candidates seeking party tickets, especially from the Congress and the sitting SAD and the BJP MLAs and ministers have started hectic activity to influence the electorate in the district. The SAD-BJP sitting MLAs who are likely to get the party ticket in the coming elections have geared up the campaign in their respective constituency.

Mr Tikshan Sud, Minister of State for Excise and Taxation, held an “Akhand sangat darshan” programme from November 26 to December 1 in the rural areas of his Assembly segment. During the programme, he alongwith his supporters, went from village to village, organised public meetings and distributed cheques for about Rs 80 lakh to various panchayats for development.

Later, he carried out a similar campaign in the urban areas of his constituency. He has recently got repaired almost all roads and lanes in the Hoshiarpur city. There was no check on the quality and specification of the work done and the municipal contractors laid bitumen carpets even on the concrete slabs.

Mr Sud also organised a “sangat darshan and sanman samaroh” in which he honoured almost all sarpanches and the BJP-SAD workers of his constituency.

Ms Mohinder Kaur Josh, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, had recently got organised a “sehat mela” (health fair) from the Punjab Health Systems Corporation at Phuglana village of her Sham Chaurasi segment. Besides medically examining the people of the area, cultural programmes, including a magic show, dance and free food, etc., were also organised. She also inaugurated a 25-bed hospital at Sham Chaurasi.

Mr Kanshi Ram, BSP supremo, organised a “bhul sudhar” rally for Dalits here in which a large number of Dalits from all over the state participated. Ms Mayawati, former Chief Minister, UP, specially came from Lucknow to participate in the rally.

The Congress leaders had also organised a big rally at Roshan Ground on December 1 in which Ms Ambika Soni, General Secretary, AICC, Mr Moti Lal Vohra, Cashier-cum-in charge of Punjab affairs, AICC, Mr Shiv Lal Balmiki, Secretary, AICC, Capt Amarinder Singh, President, PPCC and majority of the state Congress leaders participated.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, President, Punjab Lok Bhalai Party, also organised a rally at Bajwara village.


 

Dalits denied due share in government jobs: Kainth
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 8
The president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM), Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, has criticised the SAD-BJP regime for its failure to implement welfare schemes for the downtrodden. Mr Kainth, addressing the state-level party rally at Partap Bagh here today, alleged that though the Dalits constitute 33 per cent of the total population of the state, yet they were denied their due share in the government jobs by the ruling combine.

He said though the SAD-BJP combine had promised to launch welfare schemes for the Scheduled Castes and labourers during the last Assembly elections, but it had miserably failed to do so in the past about five years of rule. He criticised the Congress for using the Dalit vote just to capture the power in the state.

The rally unanimously passed the resolutions seeking implementation of the Mandal Commission report, filling of vacancies in government jobs and hike in minimum wages for labourers. They also demanded subsidised education for all so that poor parents could send their wards to schools. Without specifying the plans about proposed electoral alliance in the forthcoming Assembly elections, Mr Kainth said the BSM would forge an electoral alliance with a party which would assure that the rights of the Scheduled Castes and Backward Class people were fully protected.


 

Cong leaders hold parallel rallies
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 8
The PPCC Vice-President and former Finance Minister, Dr Kewal Krishan, today addressed two rallies organised simultaneously by the district Congress and rebel Congress leader Tarlochan Singh Soond, at Purani Sabzi Mandi, Banga, and Behram, respectively, as part of election campaign rallies.

Both rallies were organised separately by Mr Pakher Singh Nimana and Mr Tarlochan Singh Soond, both PPCC members and aspirants of the Congress ticket from Banga Assembly segment.

In 1997 Mr Soond had contested Assembly election as an Independent candidate against Mr Nimana, official Congress nominee. The office-bearers of the district Congress told this correspondent that they had brought the matter to the notice of the PPCC. They said, surprisingly, Dr Kewal Krishan also addressed the rally organised by Mr Soond. Dr Kewal Krishan came down heavily on the SAD-BJP government and said it had belied the hopes and aspirations of people of the state. The people were awaiting Assembly elections to get rid of the most corrupt government the state ever had. He called upon people to bring the Congress to power.


 

Baba Bedi rules out unity talks
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 8
Convener of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Panthic Morcha), Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, today said he wanted to put a lid on reports of unity moves between the Morcha and the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal. He claimed that such reports were aimed at creating confusion among the Morcha cadres.

Talking to reporters on the eve of a rally being organised by the Morcha here tomorrow, Baba Bedi said, “I want to make it clear that there has never been any move on our part to forge unity with Mr Badal. These reports are being deliberately circulated to create confusion among our cadres and to demoralise them”. He asserted that the Panthic Morcha was a political entity, which was all set to provide a better alternative to the people of Punjab.

The Panthic Morcha leader clarified that the morcha did not pursue any “exclusive or sectarian agenda”. However, he admitted, “we cannot keep religion (Sikh) apart from politics”. But that did not mean that the people belonging to other sects and faiths would be ignored or victimised.

He pointed out, “Sikh religion believes in halimi raj (an egalitarian system of governance) where everyone is protected”. Citing the example of Guru Teg Bahadur, he said the great Guru had laid down his life to safeguard the faith of Kashmiri Pandits.

Speaking on tomorrow’s rally, he claimed it would provide a new direction to state politics. “People can have a third option apart from the Congress and the Akali-BJP”. Senior leaders from the ruling Akali Dal were expected to join the Morcha tomorrow. However, he refused to disclose any names.

Baba Bedi admitted that the Panthic votes may be divided between the Morcha and the Akali Dal, but added that the Morcha would also get the support of Hindu voters. He said “certain Hindu organisations” were already in touch with the Morcha seeking an alliance.

The Morcha convener said the Bahujan Samaj Party supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram would address the rally tomorrow. He said that the Panthic Morcha and the BSP had agreed in principle to share seats. A pact was likely to be formalised soon. However, he did not specify on the number of seats the Morcha would concede to the BSP. He did not rule out friendly contests at certain places.

Two senior leaders of the Morcha, Mr Charan Singh Lohara and Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretaries of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the All-India Shiromani Akali Dal, respectively, were present at the press conference.


 

BJYM rally on POTO gets poor response
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
To garner public support and end the controversy which has engulfed POTO, the BJP and the Bhartiya Janta Yuva Morcha (BJYM) organised a district-level rally here today.

The rally failed to attract people despite the fact that it was held in the heart of the city. Workers were also disappointed as Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president of state unit failed to keep date.

Mr Ashwini Jaiswal, organising secretary, and a host of local leaders, addressed a thin gathering.

Most of the speakers tried to alleviate fears about POTO. Mr Mohan Lal Garg, a senior leader and advocate, said various states of the country had stricter laws than POTO.

He said West Bengal, Karnataka, Kerala and Maharashtra had harsher laws.

Later, talking to mediapersons, Mr Ashwini Jaiswal, said in the coming Assembly elections, development and harmony would be main planks.

He admitted that debt on the state had risen manifold. He denied that the BJP was saffronising education.


 
COMMUNITY
 

Where a terror wound doesn’t heal
Harwinder Dhillon

Amritsar
Ramesh, Rajesh and Geeta, whose parents were gunned down by terrorists in broad day-light in 1984 as a backlash over Operation Bluestar, were only infants (the youngest was nine months old) and there was nobody to look after them.

However, a widow and aunt of the hapless children, Ms Sudesh Rani, decided to bring them up. She was given a meagre monthly allowance of Rs 1,000 instead of a pension of Rs 2,500 which she genuinely deserved.

Now, after 17 years, the children have become adults. This should have been the most happy day for Ms Sudesh Rani. Alas, it proved otherwise as Relief and Resettlement officials stopped the allowance of Rs 1,000 to the widow who had to earn her livelihood by working as a maid.

Ms Sudesh Rani, who met this correspondent at the house of Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, was inconsolable. Narrating her tale of woe, the widow said that the government had failed to come to her rescue despite her old age.

Ms Chawla said that the department should have at least sanctioned old- age pension to Ms Sudesh Rani. She said the orphans had to work as labourers as the government had not given them any compensation so far.

Ms Sudesh Rani said that she wanted to marry off 19-year-old Geeta, but she did not have money for her dowry. She also wished to provide a good education to Rajesh but due to her limited resources she was unable to do so. Though Rs 1,000 was a small amount, it was of help to the family.

Ms Sudesh Rani said she had been going from pillar to post to get the widow’s pension but in vain.

Ms Chawla said lavishly organised celebrations like the coronations of Maharaja Ranjit Singh were of no use if common people continued to suffer.


 

Dissemble nukes to avoid mishap: Virk
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 8
“To reduce the risk of a nuclear weapon being launched by error, panic or miscalculation, as could be the case in the aftermath of the US attack on Afghanistan out of frustration, revenge or just accidental; it is advisable to keep the nuclear weapons dissembled”. This has been stated by Prof H.S. Virk of Guru Nanak Dev University, who is the principal investigator of a national project sponsored by the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) of the Union Government in a survey.

Prof Virk is involved in the task of monitoring radiation effects during the past five years in over 300 villages of the state surveyed by the DAE.

Punjab was focussed due to its proximity to Pakistan, a nuclear state. The matter of health hazards caused by “radon” in particular came up for special survey after the Pokhran explosions in May 1998. However, the present scenario when the USA is facing a fundamentalist opponent capable of fomenting religious frenzy in adjoining Pakistan, the threat perception of nuclear leakage or accident, overt or covert should not be ignored, he says.

However, Prof Virk, who has had exhaustive deliberations with radiation experts of Germany, Denmark, Sweden and Romania, feels more stress should be laid on nuclear reactor technology by diverting the nuclear arsenal build-up with healthy co-operation from both China and Pakistan as thought by former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral.

He underlined the fact that Europe and the USA would be “only too glad” to shift their nuclear weapons to India or southeast Asia to avoid any mishaps in their countries.

Hence, the threat perception for Punjab in case of nuclear spillage was potent and alarming if Pakistan favoured Kashmir “to-be-procured-intact”.

On count of health hazards he says the solution could be underground bunkers as in Sweden and Norway to cut down radiation effects, he concludes in his survey.


 

PATIALA
Govt goes overboard in appeasing junk dealers
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
The local kabari bazar, which has become a major traffic bottleneck in the old city and has been in the process of being shifted out of the city since 1976, may no longer have to be shifted out, with Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal directing the Municipal Corporation to sell off its shops to the junk dealers who have been occupying them.

Shifting of the Kabari bazar from its present site on the Bahera road has been a major demand of the residents of the city and had become necessary to ease the flow of traffic on Bahera road to ensure easy access to Adalat Bazar the main market of the city.

Though attempts have been made to shift the market out of the city since 1976, the move picked up momentum during the past four years, when a survey about the number of shops in the bazar was conducted and a site was selected in Transport Nagar on the outskirts of the city on the Patiala-Rajpura road. However, even though the Improvement Trust was able to auction some plots to junk dealers in the Transport Nagar, a majority of the dealers opted not to take up the offer.

It seems all attempts to get the dealers out of the city are likely to fail with the chief minister, during a Sangat Darshan programme in the city recently, asking the Corporation to sell off its shops to the junk dealers as per government policy. Corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang said the Corporation had represented to the government that it was not right to sell off its shops in the ‘kabari bazar’ to the junk dealers.

However, Mr Kang said though the Corporation would sell off the shops to the junk dealers, it was not right to presume that the same occupation would continue to run in the shops. He said the junk dealers could do some other work in the shops, adding if they were adamant on doing the same work they could at least leave the area which they had encroached upon to the Corporation.

He claimed that the bazar” at the same spot was not in the interest of the residents adding it was difficult to carry out such an activity in the present narrow premises.

Kabari Bazar Market Association president Sarup Singh Sehgal, when contacted said there was no law in the country by which they could be dictated as to which profession they should run on their premises once the 50-odd shops which are presently on lease were sold off to them. He said the junk dealers were not averse to shifting out of the city, but they should be provided some appropriate place.

He said the space which was earmarked for them earlier at the Transport Nagar was no longer suitable for work as small plots had been cut up on the land and transport-associated businesses had sprouted in the area.

Mr Sehgal pointed out that the junk dealers, who had settled down in the area in the 1950’s, also deserved a fair deal as all of them were refugees who had migrated to the city after partition. He also charged that though promises to give them land outside the city had been made many times, they had not been followed up with adequate action.

Even though the Kabari Bazar Market Association and the Corporation have yet to sit together to hammer out the nitty gritty of transfer of the shops and hold talks on whether the junk dealers could shift out of the city, residents feel the government has gone overboard to appease one section of people without going into the merit of the case.

“The need to shift the market out of the city was felt even twenty-five years earlier and now the need is acute because an entire section of the Bahera road has been encroached upon by them”, said Amarjit Singh, a trader of Adalat Bazar. Other residents feel that even though the Corporation was in the process of selling off its shops to the junk dealers, it should fulfil its responsibility towards the resident of the city by getting the encroachments by the junk dealers in the area vacated and ensure general cleanliness of the premises.


 

Justice Anand visits Ludhiana courts
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, December 8
Lawyers are an integral part of the judicial system and they should extend whole-hearted cooperation to the judiciary for smooth running of the chariot of justice. This was stated by Mr Justice R.L. Anand while addressing the members of the District Bar Association here at the district courts today.

Mr Justice Anand said the lawyers were the ear and eyes of the society. He was here to interact with the members of the Bar to get their viewpoint on improving the working of the judicial system for providing speedy justice to be aggrieved litigants.

“As I have worked in Ludhiana as the Assistant District Attorney, the Additional Sessions Judge and headed a special court during militancy for a considerable time, I have a special attachment with the Bar here,” Mr Justice Anand said.

Earlier, he was given a warm welcome by the office-bearers of the District Bar Association and other members of the Bar. The judicial officers of the district were also present on the occasion.


 

Bishop condemns attack
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 8
The Bishop of Amritsar diocese, Babu Masih, has condemned the attack on Bishop House here on December 5, in which several persons were seriously injured.

In a press conference here today, he alleged that the “self styled” Bishop P.K. Smanta Roy and, Mr Denial B. Das, convenor of the Church Bachao Sangharsh Committee (CBSC), and several other members of the committee were the main culprits behind the incident. He said at the time of incident, only women and children were present in the house. The attackers did not even spare a pregnant woman present there, he alleged.

However, when contacted, Mr Das and Mr Roy denied the charges and said the residents had used abusive language during the procession and had indulged in stone throwing, which resulted in retaliation by the processionists.

Meanwhile, Bishop Babu Masih demanded arrest of the persons responsible for the incident.


 

Sangrur leads in 7-digit phone numbers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 8
Mr G.S. Gill, General Manager (Telecom) of Sangrur district, has said that no registration charges and security deposit will be charged from the existing subscribers of the urban exchanges of Sangrur, Ahmedgarh, Dhuri, Malerkotla, Tapa, Sunam, Barnala, Dhanaula and Bhadaur if they apply for second and subsequent telephone connections without the STD/ISD facility.

Mr Gill disclosed that Sangrur was the first district in Punjab to take the lead in changing the telephone numbers from five digits to seven digits. The telephone numbers of the Barnala area had already been changed by prefixing ‘39’ to the old telephone numbers while those of the Sangrur area had been changed from December 7 midnight by prefixing ‘32’ to the old telephone numbers.

Similarly, the telephone numbers of the Sunam and Malerkotla areas would be changed in due course. He said the STD code of Sangrur would also be changed to 157 from 1672. After the change of telephone numbers to seven digit scheme in the Sangrur district, any subscriber of this district would be able to dial any other number of a subscriber in the whole district without dialing the STD code.

Mr Gill said the Sangrur exchange had been upgraded to a new version with extra large capacity at a cost of Rs 20 lakh. It was now expandable to 40,000 local lines and 5000 trunk lines. He further said distinguished ringing facility had been introduced for incoming local and long distance calls.

Cash counters for depositing telephone bills and other payments had been opened at Sangrur, Barnala, Dhuri, Malerkotla and Sunam and connections were now available on demand in the urban exchanges of Ahmedgarh, Dhanaula, Dhuri, Dirba, Malerkotla, Sangrur, Barnala, Bhadaur, Tapa, Handhiaya and Sunam.


 

Garg highlights role of youth clubs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, Science and Technology Minister, Punjab, said organising more and more cultural programmes and sports fairs in the state would help ensure peace and happiness as these were in symbols of eternal joy. Mr Garg was addressing a gathering at a cultural fair at Balluana village, today.

The youth club of the village organised the fair. Mr Gurdas Singh Badal, former MP, inaugurated the fair and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal MLA, was the chief guest. Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, Mr Sukhmindir Singh, SDM and many other officials were also present at the fair.

Mr Garg said the SAD-BJP combine had carried out development works in every field. He said the youth should make efforts to maintain peace and take part in games and cultural programmes.

Mr Gurdas Singh Badal said youth clubs in the rural areas could help educate the youth about ill effects of drugs. He said the government had handed over many responsibilities to the youth clubs and these could play a vital role in the development of villages.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal said Punjab was rich in traditional and cultural values and the youths should preserve these. He criticised artistes who were “selling cheap thoughts” in the name of culture. He also motivated the youth to adopt self-employment schemes. He said the government was giving special attention to the younger generation.


 

Netizens lock horns with Glide
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
Members of the Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) Netizens Association, Lehra Mohabbat, in a complaint to the in charge, District Glide Internet Services, has requested to restore Internet service at Power Colony, GHTP, in the district.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Jagvir Goyal, president of the association, said Internet service was disrupted in the colony from November 23 and so far no action had been taken by the authorities concerned. He claimed that at the time of providing connections, Glide had promised to solve all problems regarding telephone lines and exchange modifications.

He alleged the authorities were evading responsibility and blaming it the Telecom Department. He threatened to sue the authorities in the court of law to claim damages.

Mr Vijay Kumar, technical engineer at the district office of Glide Internet, said the company provided problem free service. He said he had gone to the colony twice to assess the problem, but the actual problem lay with the exchange of Bhucho Mandi.

He said due to technical fault at the Bhucho Mandi exchange, difficulty was being faced in data transferring. He gave assurance that exchange officials were doing their best of rectify the fault.


 

Youths still falling prey to travel agents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 7
Even as the district police has launched a war against the unscrupulous travel agents operating in the region, more and more unemployed youths of the rural and semi-urban areas having small landholdings are falling prey to them.

Most of the youths, who have paid huge amounts to the travel agents by selling off their landholdings and jewellery, have landed into jails in foreign countries and India. For the past two years, the police authorities have been receiving letter from youths, who have been languishing in jails in foreign countries . The latest victim Darshan Singh, a resident of Dhinger village in the district, paid Rs 1.25 lakh to Beant Singh, a travel agent but was left at a secluded place in Malaysia where the police arrested him. 


 

3 injured in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
Two persons were injured today on the Bathinda-Barnala road when an unidentified vehicle hit their scooter and sped away. They were admitted to a hospital by volunteers of a local NGO. The injured have been identified as Mr Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Gurvinder Singh.

In another incident on the same road, an Armyman was seriously injured when a vehicle hit his scooter and sped away. The victim identified as Mr Ranjit Singh was admitted to a hospital but was later shifted to an Army hospital.


 

Boy crushed to death by truck
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 8
An 11-year-old boy was crushed to death by a speeding truck on the Phagwara-Banga road outside the local police station yesterday. The boy was reportedly crossing the road when the truck knocked him down.


 

Quality of phone directory ‘poor’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
The district unit of the Bharti Communist Party (BCP) has said that telephone directory released here recently by Telecom Department was not up to the mark.

Mr J.S. Ghai, secretary of the unit, in a press note issued here recently said that the paper used for the directory was of poor quality. Moreover, the font size used was very small, making it difficult to read.

He alleged that every page had a number of mistakes.


 
ADMINISTRATION
 

Lambardar ‘awaits appointment’ for 23 yrs
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 8
Mr Aggar Singh, a resident of Sadda Singh Wala village of this district, continued to work as Lambardar for 23 years without being appointed as such. He used to attend various meetings as Lambardar but none of the officials, including those of the Revenue Department, who are directly connected with the working of the lambardars, cared to check his credentials.

Inquiries revealed that his father, Mr Kartar Singh, who was a Lambardar, appointed Mr Aggar Singh as his “agent”. The appointment lasted till the death of Kartar Singh in 1977. After his death, Mr Aggar Singh automatically ceased to be his “agent”.

Now the district administration has taken note of this fact on receipt of a complaint and the Deputy Commissioner has ordered an inquiry into the matter. The process to appoint a new Lambardar has been initiated.


 
CRIME

Priest held for cheating youths
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 8
A priest who had allegedly cheated four residents of Noormahal to the tune of Rs 7.5 lakh on the pretext of sending them abroad was arrested here yesterday.

Mr Sawarndeep Singh, DSP, Anti-Fraud Staff, said here yesterday that the police received complaints on August 12 from Rajpal, Balwinder Kumar, Ram Lal and Ram Murthi, all residents of Noormahal, that a priest of Fellowship Christian Church Onkar Dass had cheated them to the tune of Rs 7.5 lakh on the pretext of sending them to Israel. He said Rajpal had paid Rs 2 lakh while Balwinder Kumar had given Rs 1.5 lakh. Similarly, Ram Lal and Ram Murthi had paid Rs 1.5 lakh and Rs 2.5 lakh, respectively, to the priest.

The victims further stated in their complaints that the priest had promised them to send them to Israel, but they were sent to Thailand.

Mr Sawarndeep Singh said on a tip-off that the accused was present in the area, a police party arrested him from his residence this afternoon. The arrested person was being produced in the court of the Magistrate.


 

Man running drug store sans licence held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
The police has registered a case under Section 420, IPC, at the Kotwali police station against Ranjit Singh, a resident of Goniana Mandi, for selling intoxicants and running a medical shop without a licence. According to an official press note issued here today, the accused was running the medical shop near the Paras Ram Nagar barrier in the city, but was actually selling intoxicants to youths.

He had taken a licence from a pharmacist named Yogesh Kumar Gupta “on rent” to run this business.


 

1 held for selling adulterated petrol
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
One person has been caught red-handed while he was adding petrol to kerosene oil so that it could be sold as petrol at a higher price.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today said on December 7, the police arrested Sohan Singh of Saboke village in Moga while he was extracting kerosene oil from a tanker near Dhobiana Basti here.

He added that the police seized two empty barrels and one filled with oil from his possession. During interrogation, the accused said with the help of Ravinder Kumar of Ferozepore, owner of the tanker he was selling adulterated petrol at various places in Punjab and Haryana.

The accused also said that he was going to sell kerosene as petrol on a higher price to a filling station at Chautala Road, Dabwali.


 

11 held for gambling
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
The police has registered eight cases against 11 persons under the Gambling Act and recovered Rs 4,350 from them.

Some of the accused have been identified as Joginder Kumar of Raman Mandi, Ajay Kumar and, Darshan Singh of Rampura, Bhim Singh of Mandi Kalan, Gopal Sharma, Suresh Kumar, Bhagwan Dass and Baldev Raj of the city. 


 

Mother’s earring snatched to buy drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
How bad is the habit of taking drugs is evident from the incident of snatching of an earring of a woman by her drug-addict son to buy drugs.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Ms Kiran Devi, a resident of the city, had registered a case against her son Manjit Kumar that he had snatched one of her earrings and threatened her not to tell anybody about it, otherwise he would kill her.

In her complaint, Ms Kiran Devi said Manjit Kumar was a drug addict when he had no money to buy drugs, he attacked her, and snatched her earring.

The police has registered a case against Manjit Kumar under Sections 356, 506 and 323 of the IPC at the Kotwali police station.


 

Case solved
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 8
The Goindwal police has solved the case of a missing old man, Hari Singh, a resident of Hothian village, who was allegedly kidnapped by Pargat Singh of the same village in May and was later murdered by him after he got his property registered in his name. The accused has been arrested by the police, who confessed to the crime. A case has been registered under Sections 302-A and 201 of the IPC.


 
EDUCATION

‘Shiksha abhiyan’ a mere farce?
Gayatri Rai
Our Correspondent

Nathana (Bathinda), December 8
The much-hyped Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan being conducted in the state with funding from the Union Government has allegedly been reduced to mere paper work.

Reliable sources said as teachers were not informed about the work and no rehearsal conducted, they found it difficult to understand the manner in which more than 50 columns of the forms were to be filled in the three-day statewide survey, which would end on December 9.

Another problem faced by surveyors was that in the rural areas even the parents of children did not have answers to some of the questions for example the date of birth of the child. In most of the cases, the date of birth and age of the child were being “filled” in the respective columns by the surveyors by guess work. Some of them filled the column on assumption that if the child was in class V, he/she should be of nine years of age and the same applied to other age groups also.

The movement has suffered badly in the Nathana block as the forms have not reached the Block Primary Education Office allegedly due to the negligence of the District Education Officer (P). The officer failed to issue appointment letters to the selected ETT teachers of the district.

One of the teacher, who conducted the survey at Rampura village, said a column in which the reason for discontinuing school education was to be filled, did not have the option “left school due to failure”. The seventh option “does not like school or education” was filled by most of them, she claimed.

The answers to the question did not include the other options, said one of them. The surveyors faced another problem with the column as no option was left for those who were yet to start their school and ‘table’ information had to be filled.

In the rural areas, high school teachers did not have any written instruction to help the primary school teachers with the filling of forms. The urban primary schools presented a different picture as teachers had no assignment like this.

The Union Government has already sanctioned Rs 25 crore in the current financial year for the introduction of the Education Guarantee Scheme in Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Bathinda and Faridkot. The sanction has been granted to expand the scheme to Patiala, Ferozepore and Amritsar at about Rs 45 crore. To cover the remaining nine districts of the state, Rs 66 crore are expected to be released.

Mr Jaswant Singh Dani, DEO (P), could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. Mr R. Venkatratnam, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said as soon as he got the information of non-availability of the forms for the survey, he immediately appointed a Block Development and Panchayat Officer to make necessary arrangements.


 

Teachers boycott BJP ministers’ function
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 8
Teachers and non-teaching employees of all three DAV colleges here boycotted functions of the BJP ministers and held a demonstration today in protest against the ‘highly evasive and callous’ attitude of the government towards the long-pending demands of the teachers of the privately managed colleges in the state.

The employees assembled near the Co-operative Bank here and shouted slogans when the motorcade of the ministers passed on the New Grain Market road. Later, they held a demonstration in front of a private institute which was to be inaugurated by Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, Health Minister and Mr Manoranjan Kalia, Minister for Research and Medical Education. Slogans like “Badal sarkar da eh parbandh, jailan khulian college bandh” were raised by the employees.

Mr Iqbal Singh Sandhu, president and Mr R.S. Sharma, former President of the district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union led the demonstration. On the employees’ insistence, the Health Minister, Dr Chawla, came out of the ‘pandal’ and was presented a memorandum signed by the Principals of all DAV colleges here and presidents of the local units of the teaching and non-teaching employees.

The memorandum stated that despite repeated assurances and the legislation regarding the grant of pension and gratuity, the Finance Minister had suddenly passed the buck to the college management committees to bear the expenses. It was also stated that the Chief Minister should remove all hurdles in the implementation of the promised benefits in letter and spirit.

Dr Chawla assured them that the matter would be taken up with the Chief Minister on his return to Chandigarh and added that the government was committed to fulfil the promises made with the college teachers and other employees of the private colleges.


 

Teachers burn minister’s effigies
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 8
Effigies of the Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, were burnt here on a call given by Joint Action Committee of the Management, principals, teachers and non-teaching employees of the government-aided colleges of the Amritsar district.

Later, the activists staged a rally at BBK DAV College in protest against the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards their demands. The rally was addressed by Mr O.P. Kalia, district president of the BJP, and Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, district president of the Congress (Urban).

The speakers expressed their support for the teachers and criticised the government for adopting dilly-dallying tactics. The unwarranted arrest of 18 teachers also came under attack from the teachers’ representatives.

Later, they took out a procession towards the residence of Mr Nirmaljit Singh Kahlon, Minister for Rural Development, raising anti-government slogans.

Almost 1,500 employees from 25 colleges of the district participated in the rally. The leaders reiterated their resolve to hold a massive demonstration and rally at Matka Chowk in Chandigarh on December 10.

BATALA: On the fifth day of their ongoing agitation, the college teachers of all four private colleges here assembled at Subhash Park and raised slogans in favour of their demands. The teachers, under the leadership of Prof Narinder Rampal, went to the residence of Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister and held a protest rally there. Prof Rampal said on December 10, the teachers of all colleges would hold a rally at Matka Chowk in Chandigarh.


 

Joshi promises autonomy to SLIET
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sangrur), December 8
Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, Union Minister for Human Resources Development, today announced that academic autonomy to Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) here would be granted by his ministry immediately after the file submitted by the SLIET authorities reaches him.

Dr Joshi made this announcement while addressing the fourth convocation of the SLIET here today. Earlier, Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, SLIET, in his welcome address, said a proposal for academic autonomy had been submitted to the authorities concerned. He also said the institute was now marching ahead to attain the deemed university status.

Dr Joshi said the Government of India would issue a notification to change the name of this institute from Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology to Sant Harchand Singh Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology if the Board of Governors of the institute approved this proposal.

A proposal to this effect was earlier made on the occasion by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, who presided over the convocation.

Dr Joshi said his ministry would not delay in granting approval to the research projects of the SLIET if the screening committee of the ministry cleared the projects.

The minister said it was, indeed painful that some historians had not been able to appreciate the “sublimity, spiritual heights and the bravery of the Gurus and our great men and had even tried to denigrate Guru Teg Bahadur’s supreme sacrifice.” He said he had corrected it by deleting objectionable portions from the history books taught in schools.

Dr Joshi said the country had great competitiveness in labour-intensive services. Our technical personnel like fitters, drillers and a host of other tradesmen could not compete with the USA and European counterparts in the absence of work visa. It was hoped that the restricted visa regime would be gradually dismantled and there would be a free flow of workers to the benefit of India. He said technical institutions should study these avenues and provide appropriate certification for various trades.

Dr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, urged the young graduates to learn “continuously”. He said there were several challenges before them. They should get ready to face the same. He said education as a whole was going through a revolution but the serious problem was manpower to teach properly.

Dr R.C. Chauhan said an approval had been granted to the institution by the authorities concerned to start M.Tech.

On the occasion, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi presented medals and merit certificates to toppers in various disciplines. 


 
BUSINESS
 

Traders’ complaint against ST staff
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, December 8
Two Sriganganagar-based traders were reportedly thrashed and duped of Rs 8000 by employees of the Punjab Sales and Taxation Department (mobile wing) at Hari ke Patan barrier while they were carrying a truck-load of goods on December 1.

In a complaint to the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, Pawan Kumar stated that excise and taxation employees deployed at the tax barrier detained their truck (RJ-19G-3879) on the pretext of verification of documents of the goods. Pawan Kumar claimed that the staff detained him along with his nephew, Harish Kumar, and asked them to deposit Rs 58,000 as security against the goods being transported allegedly without paying sales tax for Punjab. He was issued a receipt for Rs 50,000 against Rs 58,000 paid by him to the department. Moreover, they thrashed us.

When contacted Mr Tara Singh Tara, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab, said the duo were carrying goods without paying sales tax. He claimed that the traders misbehaved with the staff members and even tried to flee. Mr Tara said the matter would be looked into after receiving the case file by a day or two. 


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