Sunday, December 23, 2001, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC poll: enrolment process listless
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 22
Despite last date for the enrolment of voters for the elections to the general house of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), having been extended two times leaders of the political parties and the religious organisations interested in SGPC elections have not shown much enthusiasm. Total enrolment of voters for SGPC elections is estimated to be less than 10 lakh votes so far. In comparison in 1996 SGPC elections, the number of registered voters — both Sikhs and Sehajdhari Sikhs was around 50 lakh. Political parties seem to have forgotten, for the time being, registration of voters for SGPC elections and these appear more interested in enrolling voters for elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha due mid February next year.

The Chief Commissioner for gurdwara elections has allowed second extension for the registration of voters for the SGPC till January 31 and according to the Gurdwara Elections Commission, this is the last extension. Indifference of the political parties and religious bodies to the registration of voters can be gauged from the fact that the Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections Justice Harbans Singh (retired), convened a meeting of the representatives of the political parties and the religious organisations in Chandigarh yesterday but none turned up for it. The meeting had to be cancelled.

Mr Gurdev Singh, Secretary Gurdwara Election Commission, told this reporter on the telephone that the meeting was convened to review the progress and persuade the parties to take more interest for the registration of voters. But there was no response from the parties and religious organisations.

According to Mr Gurdev Singh nearly 10 lakh voters have been registered — Sikhs and Sehajdhari Sikhs so far. The Gurdwara Election Commission had 65 lakh forms printed and distributed to the Deputy Commissioners in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal for the enrolment of voters for election for the SGPC general house.

Mr Gurdev Singh disclosed that the enrolment of voters in Himachal was more than what it was in 1996. There is one seat in Himachal for which elections will be held and more than 15000 voters had been registered for the same. Haryana state has eight seats and 50 per cent of voters had been registered compared with the last SGPC elections. The total number of seats for which elections will be held is 170.

Even SGPC authorities are worried over the slow process of registration of voters.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC said that he had written to all members of the SGPC, MLAs and Akali workers to take active interest in the enrolment of voters for the SGPC. The SGPC had got 80 lakh forms printed in two instalments.

Mr Badungar, said that he along with the secretary SGPC, Dr Bachan had met Justice Harbans Singh and sought extension in the date for the registration of voters.

Dr Bachan said that the SGPC would convene a meeting of the commissioners of three states and others concerned on January 6 to speed up the registration of voters for the SGPC general house.

Mr Badungar revealed that Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had ordered separate remuneration for the patwaris and other officials engaged in the registration of voters for the SGPC. The other reason for the slow registration of voters was the lack of interest on the part of the patwaris in rural areas because they were not assured additional remuneration for the registration of votes for the SGPC. Enquiries reveal that the number of Sehajdhari voters is much higher registered so far compared to that of 1996 and the bodies concerned in this regard are taking more interest than Sikh organisations.

Enquiries further show that voters are unaware that they will have to get fresh registration for casting their vote in the SGPC election . They will not be eligible to cast their vote on the basis of previous registration as is the case of Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha elections.

It has learnt that the Gurdwara Election Committee is also toying with the idea of making amendments in the Gurdwara Act 1925 to enable the voters once registered to cast vote on the pattern of Vidhan Sabha poll.

Prof. Jagmohan Singh, General Secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar) has filed a writ in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking that Sehajdharis be debarred from casting votes in the SGPC elections.

This petition has been challenged by Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu, President, Sehajdhari Sikh Federation and the petitions now are pending before the high court for decision.

Political observers are of the view that the process of voters for the SGPC election will not pick up till the elections to the Punjab Vidhan Sabha are held in the month of February. The Gurdwara Election Commission will have to give more extensions in the deadline for registration of voters. The elections to the general house of the SGPC are not likely to be held before June next year and much will depend on the political mood of the new government in Punjab.


CBI probe sought into Rs 1-cr fraud
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
In a suspected case of Rs 1-crore embezzlement in the Punjab PWD (B and R) the police has reportedly failed to apprehend the guilty despite an FIR having been registered in February, 2001. In fact, the accused have been drawing a “subsistence’’ allowance and their letters are on record demanding that the same be enhanced from 50 per cent to 75 per cent.

The case pertains to the detection of a fraud of Rs 1,02,38,695 in the Rural Works Division, Sirhind, in August, 2000. The Executive Engineer, Mr Kultar Singh Kultar, Superintendent, Mr Surjit Singh Kohli, Senior Assistant, Mr Amar Nath Singh and Junior Assistant, Mr Sukhdev Singh Sarpal are suspected to be involved in it. Following the registration of a case in Sirhind on February 3, 2001, the police investigated and concluded there was no evidence of involvement against Mr Amar Nath Singh and Bank Manager, Mr Gurvinderjit Singh, who were let off. But in respect of the others, the high court had rejected their bail applications. As per the police version, despite several raids, the accused, Mr Kultar Singh Kultar, Mr Kohli and Mr Sarpal, could not be arrested.

Taking a serious note of the police lapses, the Secretary, PWD (B and R), Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, has reportedly written to the Chief Secretary, Mr N.K. Arora, demanding that the investigation be entrusted to the CBI since the case had dragged on for over 18 months.

The fraud was detected by Mr H.S. Gill, who succeeded Mr Kultar Singh, and wrote to the government on August 31, 2000. The matter was inquired into by the Superintending Engineer, Construction , Circle 2, Patiala. Thereafter, the Chief Engineer informed the government on September 22, 2000, that a fraud of over Rs 1 crore had taken place. The modus operandi was that cash would be withdrawn from the government bank account without any matching payments in the cash books.

Following detection of the embezzlement, all officials concerned were suspended on October 10, 2000. The government on January 8, 2001, lodged an FIR against the suspects as also the Bank Manager. The FIR is dated February 3, 2001. The SSP concerned reported to the government on September 14 about the progress of the investigation.

The Secretary’s letter to the Chief Secretary calls it “incredible’’ that while the accused reportedly moved around freely and even sought enhancement in their “subsistence’’ allowance, the police was unable to trace them. A finger has been pointed on the possible “connivance’’ between the police and the accused in the Secretary’s letter, dated December 7.

The matter was first taken up with the Director-General of Police in March, 2001. Later, a meeting, attended by senior officers, including Director Vigilance and others, was taken by the Chief Secretary on May 22 last, where it was decided to entrust the case to the Crime Branch and appoint a full team to investigate. Despite this decision and a letter from the Chief Secretary to the D-G.P, on September 7, nothing tangible has been achieved, thus far.

Independent sources do not rule out the possibility of political protection to the accused.


A year mired in controversies
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 22
The first year of the new millennium witnessed the worst period in the 76-year-old SGPC which is the “mini parliament” of Sikhs. The year was mired in controversies which brought the SGPC and Akal Takht on a collision course.

Though a controversy was started with the appointment of Giani Puran Singh as Head Granthi of the Golden Temple, by Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi after taking over as the SGPC chief. It took an unsavoury turn when Giani Puran Singh refused to sit at meetings of Akal Takht as per the Sikh maryada. He earned the wrath of his predecessor, Bibi Jagir Kaur, who had sacked him as Jathedar, Akal Takht, and suspended him as Granthi of the Golden Temple.

The appointment of Giani Puran Singh as Head Granthi had also annoyed Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Keshgarh Sahib, Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Damdama Sahib, and Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, whom Giani Puran Singh had excommunicated from the Sikh Panth in his capacity as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Since Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti rescinded all controversial directives issued by Giani Puran Singh, they did not see eye to eye until now. Giani Puran Singh still feels that the edict once issued from Akal Takht could not be withdrawn but the Sikh clergy claims that these were “personal” directives and could not be termed as hukmnamas. As the year is coming to an end, the controversy still refuses to die. Though the new SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, has claimed that he will persuade Giani Puran Singh to attend the meetings yet sources say he is unlikely to be persuaded.

The year started with yet another controversy. The Rashtriya Sikh Sangat insisted that Guru Granth Sahib and the Dasam Granth should be recited in temples. However, the issue was resolved when its leadership withdrew the proposal.

Yet another controversy arose over the redefining of the word Sikh and brought the SGPC and Akal Takht on a collision course. When the then Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, took a firm stand that the age-old definition of a Sikh could not be changed, the SGPC did a volte face and said that the amendment was inadvertent.

The lack of coordination between the Sikh clergy and the SGPC led to several controversies. The SGPC chief, Mr Talwandi, had openly criticised the clergy over the mind tankhah pronounced on private publishers of Guru Granth Sahib. Though the Sikhs considered the statement of Mr Talwandi as “contemptuous”, no action was taken against him. The Sikh high priests would ignore any issue which could embarrass the ruling party. Mr Talwandi refused to accept directives of Akal Takht, including the constitution of sub-committees on controversial issues like the Dasam Granth, whether Sant Bhindranwale is dead or alive, Nanakshahi calendar and the Sikh History Board. Mr Talwandi had also used “derogatory” language against jathedars which was an unprecedent act in the Sikh history. The SGPC chief was also accused of presenting a siropa to an excommunicated Sikh.

The issue of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara had exposed several Sikh leaders, including those belonging to the ruling SAD and the SGPC. Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, Senior Vice-President, SAD, and Cabinet Minister, and his son Kewal Singh Badal, Junior Vice-President, SGPC, were found to have links with the baba and were pronounced tankhaiya. However, the then Officer on Special Duty to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar (now SGPC chief) was bailed out as there was no concrete proof of his having any relation with the baba however, Prof Badungar was elevated as SGPC chief. Earlier, Mr Talwandi confronted Mr Parkash Singh Badal on the constitution of a parallel panel to probe the episode of Baba Bhaniara.


PUDA plots for Everesters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) will offer one-kanal plots to the mountaineers who have scaled Mt Everest at 50 per cent of the allotment price in its urban estates.

The concession would apply to those who scaled the Everest after year 1995, when PUDA came in to being, as per a decision taken yesterday, said the Chief Administrator of PUDA, Mr K.B.S. Sidhu.

At yesterday’s meeting chaired by the Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Upinderjit Kaur, it was decided that the management of the Malout Community Centre-cum-Recreational Club would be looked after by a registered body headed by the Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar. Certain officials of PUDA would be made ex-officio members of the club management.

It was also decided that 35 clerks, two stenotypists and five data operators — working on a contractual basis — would be absorbed in PUDA subject to the condition that they did not indulge in anti-PUDA and anti-government policies. The Chief Administrator has been empowered to evaluate the cases of the contractual employees.

It is learnt that the authority has decided not take persons on contract in the future. In another significant decision, the work charge employees working as peons and clerks who fulfilled the educational qualification, would be eligible to opt for PUDA’s ministerial side. A person working as senior scale stenographer has been absorbed as junior scale stenographer.

Mr Sidhu said the person working as ACA (technical) had been absorbed against a deputation quota post. He said the absorption post would in no way affect the promotion of the inhouse candidates. Mr G.R. Jakhu, who had been officiating against the post of Chief Engineer of PUDA, has been promoted as Chief Engineer. A selection post of SE( Civil) has also been created.

A deputation quota post of SDO (Public Health) and JE ( Civil)/JE (Public Health) has been created for the employees who excelled in sports at the international level. The incentive would be offered in consultation with the Sports Department.


Suicide by cop facing trial angers colleagues
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 22
The ‘Zinda Shahid Policemen Association’ has taken a serious note of the suicide by Mr Ram Lubhaya a Sub-Inspector of police, who lodged in Patiala jail these days.

An office-bearer of the association said today that Mr Ram Lubhaya who committed suicide in Patiala jail yesterday due to depression had asked policemen who worked honestly during militancy in Punjab.

The office-bearer preferring anonymity said that policemen might go on agitation if the government failed to redress their grievances.

Mr Ram Lubhaya was working in Majitha police district and was lodged in Patiala jail these days regarding in a case of militancy period. After Mr Ajit Singh Sandhu the one-time SSP Mr Ram Lubhaya is the second policeman who committed suicide facing trial in militancy-related case.


Decide by Dec 29 or we go alone, CPI tells Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
After waiting for several weeks to clinch an electoral alliance with the Congress in the state, the leadership of the CPI today declared that it would announce its candidates for the state Assembly elections on December 29, if the Congress does not make seat adjustments with it by then.

The Congress had shown an interest to ally with the CPI in November. A committee was also set up by the Congress to hold negotiations with the CPI for seat adjustment. It even held a couple of meetings with the CPI leaders then. But nothing moved ahead after that.

When asked about the fate of the electoral tie-up between the two parties, Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the CPI, said today that his party would wait till December 29 for seat adjustments with the Congress. Otherwise, the CPI would hold an election rally at Bathinda on December 29 and announce its candidates. He said that party intended to contest around 35 seats on its own.

Dr Dayal said that the CPI had demanded 28 seats from the Congress. However, the Congress did not accept this demand and argued that only the chance of winning of the candidate should be the criterion for deciding the number of seats. Dr Dayal said that this criterion should be applicable in case of both parties.

Whenever the CPI had allied with the Congress, it has shown better performance than the Congress, he asserted. For example, in 1997, the CPI won two seats out of the 10 allocated to it with a good margin while the Congress won only 14 seats out of the remaining 107.

The CPI wanted to enter into an alliance with the Congress to remove the SAD-BJP combine from power. The CPI’s aim was not to gain power alone, he added

The Congress is not in a position to give 28 seats to the CPI. In the past years, the maximum number of seats left by the Congress for the CPI has been below 20. However, this time, the Congress was appearing bit over-confident and was sure of staging a comeback in the state.

That is why, it seems, the Congress has not shown any urgency to enter into an alliance with the CPI. However, the Congress leadership has given a number of statements in the past days declaring that it would tie up with the CPI in the Assembly elections.

Political observers say that it would not be easy for the Congress alone to wipe out the SAD-BJP alliance in the state. After the Lok Sabha poll, a number of political developments have taken place. The Congress party has lost at least three byelections in Punjab since then. Scheduled Castes have turned towards the BSP as its chief, Mr Kanshi Ram, has been working hard and camping in Punjab for six months.


500 SAD activists ‘join’ Congress
Our Correspondent

Sunam, December 22
Mr Randip Singh Surjewala, President of the All-India Youth Congress, today accused SAD of hatching a “conspiracy” against the youths of the state as the state government had not provided a sufficient number of jobs to the youths to reduce unemployment and it was diverting their attention towards religious affairs.

Mr Surjewala was addressing a function at Bharoor village, about 6 km from here, today. At the function about 500 persons along with Mr Hardeep Singh Bharoor, who claimed themselves to be activists of SAD’s youth wing, joined Youth Congress in the presence of Mr Surjewala. Mr Bharoor was appointed as secretary of the Punjab Youth Congress on the occasion.

Mr Surjewala further charged the SAD leadership with following “anti-farmer” policies. He also stated that posts were being auctioned during Mr Badal’s regime.

Mr Surjewala said the Youth Congress would strongly recommend PPCC to field young faces of the party in the ensuing Assembly elections in the state. He said during the elections, the activists of the Youth Congress would take charge of poll management, booth management and campaign management of the party.

He described the December 13 attack on the Parliament House as negligence on part of the Union Government.

Among others who also addressed the gathering included Mr Harinder Singh Lakhmirwala and Mr Sukhwinder Singh Jakhepal, both secretaries of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Jaswinder Singh Randhawa District President of Patiala (rural), Mr Rajinder Deepa, a senior youth leader, and Ms Geeta Sharma, a Municipal Commissioner, Sunam.


Amarinder fails to turn up at rally
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 22
The Congress held a rally at Chamkaur Sahib today.

The rally was organised in view of the ongoing Jor mela. Large number of congressmen gathered at the venue of the rally.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, MP, Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, Youth Congress president, Punjab, and Mr Harminder Singh Saini, president of the DCC.

Mr Dulo blamed the present government with financial mismanagement. Mr Shamsher Singh accused the government of neglecting the Chamkaur Sahib area despite its historical significance.

Party workers were, however, disappointed as PPCC President Amarinder Singh failed to turn up at the rally.


Badal asks DCs to visit border villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today directed the deputy commissioners and SSPs of the border districts of Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur, to visit the border villages and infuse confidence amongst the people in view of the reported tension and migration. He also asked the MLAs and ministers of the area to go to their respective constituencies and request the people not to panic.

Addressing a district-level meeting of SAD-BJP workers of Ferozepore, Mr Badal said the state government would protect the life and property of the people in case of any eventuality. The SAD-BJP government had always given top priority to the problems of border areas. The people on the border had suffered Partition and later faced the brunt of successive wars. “It is the responsibility of the government to mitigate their difficulties on priority.”

Mr Badal said it was unfortunate that the previous Congress governments had paid no attention to the development of Punjab, especially, the border belt. He said the problems continued to multiply which led to the state's poverty, unemployment and economic backwardness. “We arranged a compensation of over Rs 8 crore every year to the farmers whose land is beyond barbed wire on the Indo-Pak border.”

Describing his government as a trend-setter in “peace, progress and development”, Mr Badal said Punjab had achieved glorious heights in every field of activity, despite inheriting empty coffers in 1997.

He released a booklet on the historical background of Shiromani Akali Dal, written by Dr Sukhbir Singh Nagra, president of the Sikh Intellectual Council.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, vice-chairman, Minorities Commission, while speaking on the occasion appealed the people to strengthen the hands of Mr Badal.


Jor Mela losing religious zeal
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib
All is set for the Shaheedi Jor Mela to be held here from December 25 to 28 to commemorate the martyrdom of the younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh who were bricked in alive by the Mughals for refusing to embrace Islam. The sacrifice is considered unique in world history.

Political parties usually use this occasion for a show of strength and have started mobilising people for their respective conferences keeping in mind the coming Assembly elections. Shopkeepers, stall owners and the organisers of amusement games have put up their infrastructure and devotees have started arriving. More than 10 lakh devotees are expected here. The district administration has made elaborate arrangements for the smooth conduct of the mela.

Earlier this annual feature used to be marked by mourning for the young martyrs. Religious and devotional songs were sung. Old women used to move about wearing black scarves mourning for the martyrs. However, over the years the traditional nature of the event has undergone a change. Now political conferences marked by mudslinging by leaders gets prominence.

The attitude of people has also changed. Most of them, after paying obeisance at the gurdwara, usually spend most of the time going to the circus or seeing magic and cultural shows in the mela area. The SGPC has commercialised the mela by renting gurdwara land to a private contractor at exorbitant rates who lets it to stall owners and the organisers of amusement games. They, in turn, often fleece visitors.

According to Dr Dharminder Singh Ubha, Principal of Guru Harkrishan College of Information Technology, the mela has lost its basic purpose — to commemorate the great sacrifice of the sahibzadas. Political leaders use the occasion to wage a battle. They must take the initiative to make it a purely religious affair so that the coming generation may learn from the supreme sacrifice.

Dr Gurmohan Walia, Principal of Mata Gujri College, is of the view that with the passage of the time people have turned the mela into an occasion for celebrating and enjoying themselves. This is unfortunate, he says.

The main attraction for devotees during the mela will be a light and sound programme, “Sirhind ki Dastan”, to be organised by the Public Relations Department highlighting the supreme sacrifice. The mela will conclude with the bhog of the akhand path at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib and a big procession led by Panj Piaras up to Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib. 



Thrashing’ of SGPC men: 3 cops suspended
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 22
Residents of Sultanpur Lodhi, 25 km from here, are up in arms against the alleged beating up of six employees of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) yesterday by the police over a dispute on the construction a chowk in front of Gurdwara Ber Sahib by PUDA.

More than 200 residents today staged a dharna on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road resulting in a traffic jam for more than two hours.

Mr Jaimal Singh, member of the SGPC and president, Municipal Council, Sultanpur Lodhi, Ms Bhajan Kaur Dogranwala, Mr Shingara Singh, also SGPC members and Mr Jarnail Singh Dogranwala, Director, Punjab Mandi Board, were prominent among the agitators.

According to reliable sources, the dharna was lifted on the intervention of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, who summoned these leaders for a meeting at Chandigarh. Mr K.S. Badungar, president, SGPC, will also attend the meeting.

The residents of the town were demanding the suspension of SDM Jiwan Garg, DSP Ravcharan Singh and the SHO, Sultanpur Lodhi police station, for the beating up of the employees. The agitators criticised Punjab Urban Development Minister Upinderjit Kaur, who is also sitting MLA from Sultanpur Lodhi, for her alleged involvement in the beating up of the employees.

Mr Jarnail Singh Dogranwala told newspersons that the six employees opposed the PUDA authorities’ move to take possession of the land belonging to the SGPC for the development and beautification of the chowk in front of Gurdwara Ber Sahib. The SDO of PUDA reported the matter to the SDM, who rushed to the spot. Hot words were reportedly exchanged between the SDM and the employees over the issue. The SDM summoned the police and it allegedly thrashed the employees and put them behind bars.

When the incident came to the notice of the Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vivek Aggarwal and the SSP, Ms Gurpreet Deo, they rushed to Sultanpur Lodhi and tried to effect a compromise to which the employees did not agree. Both officers got the injured employees released from the police lock-up. They have been admitted to Civil Hospital.

Later, the SSP placed Balkar Singh, Head Constable, and Amrik Singh and Kuldeep Singh, both Constables, under suspension.


Scheme to supply potable water
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
The Sector Reform Scheme aimed at providing potable water to rural areas will be carried out in all districts of Punjab if the experiment in three districts is successful.

This was stated by Ms Gurwinder Kaur Chahal, Secretary, Public Health, Punjab, while addressing mediapersons here on Thursday evening. She was in the city to inspect the progress of work related with the scheme.

Under the scheme presently being implemented in three districts of Bathinda, Moga and Muktsar, 90 per cent funds is being provided by the Central Government while the remaining 10 per cent would be contributed by the local people.

Ms Chahal said a survey of various villages, where the scheme had implemented in the first phase, revealed that villagers could not contribute their 10 per cent share for the purpose. The villagers, therefore, were asked to contribute five per cent of their share in cash and the remaining five per cent in shape of labour and other help that could be needed for the completion of the project.

She said the responsibility of the Public Health Department was limited to the construction of the projects. Once the projects were completed these would be handed over to the village-level committees formed for the purpose, she added. She said the committees would be responsible for collecting tariffs on water supply and maintenance of the projects.

Asked whether the selection of villages was politically motivated she said care had been taken to select those villages where there was scarcity of water and underground water was not fit for drinking.


Protest against dual US policy

Phagwara, December 22
The Punjab Shiv Sena (Bal Thackerey) today demonstrated against US dual policy during Indo-Pakistan conflict.

Sena activists raised anti-America and anti-Pakistan slogans. Later they hold a protest rally in court complex and torched the American flag.

Sena leaders assured the Union Government its cooperation in any action against Pakistan.

Sena leaders alleged that both bus and rail services were being misused by anti-India elements and even weapons and intoxicants were being smuggled into India through these services.

Later Sena activists presented a memorandum to the SDM welcoming the Union Government’s decision on bus and rail service.

Sena leaders also demanded the withdrawal of false cases registered against Shiv Sena workers for stopping of Lahore-bound Delhi-Lahore bus on March 4. UNI


Chief Secy for crusade against foeticide
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 22
A state-level course of action would be implemented to launch a crusade against female foeticide in the state. This was stated by Mr N.K. Arora, Chief Secretary, Punjab, while addressing a seminar on female foeticide here yesterday.

Showing concern over the fact that the female ratio was lowest in Punjab, he said according to a survey report, 11 districts of the country had been identified with the lowest female ratio. Out of this eight were in Punjab.

He said as per medical ethics, if doctors take the responsibility not to conduct sex determinations tests, only then can this evil be wiped out. Awareness among the public would be brought about through NGOs by organising seminars.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Punjab State Human Rights Commission, said as the female literacy level in Punjab was more than other states, we should work to increase the female ratio. He said the doctors and persons involved in conducting sex determination tests and abortions should be punished.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said we must take a pledge to fight this evil.

Among others who addressed the seminar were Mr D.R. Bhatti, Additional DGP, Dr P.S. Jassi, consultant Unicef, and Mr Gursharanjit Singh, Secretary-General, INGOA.


Red Cross to set up centres for disabled
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 22
The District Red Cross Society with financial aid from the Central Government will set up information and assistance centres in rural and urban areas for disabled and mentally retarded people to provide treatment, education and rehabilitation to them.

Each centre will cater to the needs of 15 to 20 villages. Eleven such centres, including at Golewala, Deepsinghwala, Ghugiana, Kaler, Sarawan, Jand Sahib and Bargari villages and Kotkapura and Jaitu had already started functioning. This was stated by Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner and Chairman of the society while presiding over a seminar on “Disabilities, causes, detection and rehabilitation of the needy persons” organised by the society here yesterday.

He expressed the hope that the project would take final shape by the end of next year. Help would also be sought from the non-government organisations to make the programme a success. The Deputy Commissioner said Central Government had assured financial assistance in this regard. Six institutions, including School for Mentally Retarded, School for Visually Handicapped, Physiotherapy School, Artificial Limb Centre and the Relief and Rehabilitation Centre, were already working at Faridkot under the aegis of the District Red Cross Society and the Union Government since 1992.

More than 4000 persons had been provided aid at the cost of more than Rs 1 crore.


Irregularities in voters’ lists alleged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
Mr Jasmel Singh Gill, former MLA and member, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today alleged that the names of genuine voters belonging to the Scheduled Castes had been deleted from the voters’ lists under political pressure.

In a letter written on the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC), Mr Jasmel Singh has alleged that various fake names have been added to the new list. He alleged that the names of genuine voters were being deleted as the ruling party feared that they might vote for the Congress. He urged the CEC to suspend the concerned officials of the district who were indulging irregularities while preparing the voters lists under the political pressure.

He said in his native village, Marraipur, the names of various members from the Scheduled Castes were deleted from the voters’ list although they were eligible voters. He said the same happened in Kalayna, Tungwali, Mehma Sarja, Nehianwala, Handawala, Khemuana, Nathana, Lehra Mohabbat and Chak Fatehsinghwala villages also.


Lord Jagannath ‘rath yatra’ held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 22
Devotees participated in the rath yatra of Lord Jagannath organised by the Bhagwan Jagannath Rath Yatra Utsav Committee here today.

The “rath yatra” passed through different parts of the city including Jyoti, Jail Chowk, Patel Chowk, Balmiki Gate and concluded in the evening at the Sri Devi Talaab Mandir.


Deed writers granted bail
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 22
Mr Harbans Lal, Special Judge, Mansa today accepted the bail application of Sat Paul Singla, Ankush Singla, Rajinder Singla, Piara Lal — all deed writers, here and Surinder Singla involved in the case registered against them in connection with the assault on Jatinder Singh Saggu Tehsildar and Mr Jai Chand Parinda, Naib Tehsildar on December 13.


Small farmers too get credit facility
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Punjab Local Government Minister, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, today inaugurated a scheme of 'Kisan Credit Card', launched by the Government of India at Allahabad Bank, Rajpura.

He said from now onwards, a farmer owning land up to half an acre could buy seed from the market on credit by using a card. Earlier, the scheme was available to only a few farmers. Now, even farmers would also be benefited.

Mr Tandon also inaugurated a waterworks scheme at Dhakansu village. It will cost Rs 20 lakh. 


Construction work inspected
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 22
A team of officials of the Local Self Government’s Vigilance Department led by Mr L.C. Sharma, chief vigilance officer visited parts of the town yesterday evening and inspected the construction works of streets, drains and other development works. The team visited localities of Gandhi Nagar, Ward No. 2, near bus stand, Jhullelal Colony, Odanwali Basti and Badha Road.

The action was taken on the complaint of Mr Parmjit Singh Pammi, Mr Surinder Kalra, Mr Joginder Lal Setia, Ms Rani Devi and Ms Suman Jhamb, all local Congress municipal councillors.

Mr Kalra and Mr Pammi were present during the inspection. They later said in Odanwali Basti, concrete slabs of 1.5 inch thickness were laid instead of 4 inch thick slabs with a poor quality of cement. In Gandhi Nagar inferior quality of bricks were used in the lanes. Besides these, samples of road in street No. 3 of Ward No. 2 were taken.

Mr Kalra informed the Vigilance Officer that in Jhullelal Colony some construction work was allegedly carried out without inviting tenders. In yet another case of Budha Road higher rates of bricks had been approved.

Mr Sharma disclosed that the signatures of contractors concerned had been secured on all samples taken by the team.

Mr Kalra said some officials of the municipal council deliberately proceeded on leave during the visit of the Chief Vigilance Officer. However, the officer directed the officials to produce the entire record relating to complaints of irregularities at his office in Chandigarh.


Rs 2 cr development grant for Moga
Our Correspondent

Moga, December 22
Punjab Education Minister Tota Singh today released a sum of Rs 2 crore for the development of the town. The money would be used for purchasing electric poles, a laying underground power wires, repair of roads and other development works. The minister was speaking at a function held on the premises of the Moga Municipal Council.

He further said he had directed the council to immediately complete all pending development works of the town and redress the grievances of the people. He further asked the council to complete the work on sewerages before the next monsoons for which the state government had sanctioned Rs 17 crore. Heads of all government were present at the meeting.


Punjab Nursing Council Registrar suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 22
The Director Health Services, Punjab, has suspended Registrar of the Punjab Nursing Council Gulshan Beer Kaur in connection with an alleged irregularity in allotting more than required seats to Sacred Heart Hospital, Maksudhan in Jalandhar.

The nursing council has also been under spotlight over the leakage of examination papers of first year of nursing course.


Three arrested for smuggling narcotics
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
The district police has arrested three persons for smuggling narcotics and seized 27 kg of poppy husk from their possession. A scooter was also impounded.

A case under Sections 15, 16 and 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against Joga Singh of Salabatpura village. The police seized 10 kg of poppy husk from his possession. The police stopped a scooterist near Kot Shamir village who identified himself as Balvinder Singh of Chahel village. The police seized 10 kg of poppy husk from the scooter which has been impounded.

A case has been registered against Gurmail Singh Barnala under Sections 15, 16 and 85 of the NDPS Act at Sadar police station. Seven kg of poppy husk has been seized from his possession.

Under the Excise Act, five cases have been registered against five persons who have been identified as Saudagar Singh of Phulewala, Binder Singh of Chauke, Chand Singh of Machana, Amrik Singh of Fatehgarh Nauababa and Labh Singh of Maur Kalan.

The police has registered two case under Section 13-G of the Gambling Act against Dilbagh Singh of Maur Kalan and Harvial of Maur Mandi and seized Rs 725 from them.


2 booked for duping
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 22
Iqbal Singh and Naresh Kumar, local residents, have been booked by the police for allegedly duping Ganda Singh of Nathana of Rs 20,000.

Police sources said the culprits had promised Ganda Singh that his money would be doubled in a specific period if he deposited Rs 2,400 per month with them under a Green Gold scheme.

Ganda Singh in an affidavit given to the police said that the alleged culprits had refused to return Rs 20,000 collected from him.

Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, SSP, said the culprits had been booked under Sections 420 and 34 IPC, and 4 and 5 of the Prize Collect and Money Circulation Scheme Act-1978.


Interview on Dec 16, letter reaches on Dec 21
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 22
Mr Jatinderpal Singh of Onkar Nagar Mohalla here was called for interview for the post of a J.B.T. teacher in Government Model Senior Secondary School Sector 16-D, Chandigarh, asking him to present himself for the interview, from 9 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. on December 16, 2001, but the letter reached him on December 21, 2001.

Is it the fault on the part of the office of the Director Public Instructions (Schools) or department of Posts?

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