Friday, January 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No move to exonerate Bhattal: Garg
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 3
Is the Punjab Government trying to exonerate former Chief Minister, Punjab, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, from the corruption case registered against her at vigilance bureau police station, Ferozepore, on May 22, 2001 on the complaint of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, President, District Amateur Boxing Association, Bathinda?

After the Vigilance Department moved an application in the court of special judge here yesterday in connection with the return of challan which it presented in the court of Additional Sessions Judge (duty) in the same case on December 27, 2001.

Instead of returning the challan, the Special Judge yesterday issued summons for Mrs Bhattal for her personal appearance on January 7, 2002 and ordered that the application for return of challan would come up for consideration on same day.

The Vigilance Department official, Mr Khushi Mohammad, DSP, moved an application for the return of challan by claiming that proper court for presenting the same was the Special Judge, Chandigarh, as the money which was allegedly misappropriated by Mrs Bhattal was withdrawn there and secondly, no sanction from competent authority was taken before launching prosecution against Mrs Bhattal as the offence allegedly committed by her was in the capacity of public servant as she was then the Chief Minister of Punjab.

Various leaders of different political parties and senior officials have been taking this action of the Vigilance Department as a move of the Punjab Government to exonerate Mrs Bhattal from the corruption case by first withdrawing the challan and then the case.

The Law and Justice Minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, denied that the Punjab Government had initiated any move to withdraw the corruption case against Mrs Bhattal. The application for the return of the challan from the special court here was moved for making the government stand sound.

He further pointed out that the government’s case was legally weak as the local special court, where the trials had been initiated, was not having territorial jurisdiction. Moreover necessary sanction from the competent authority had not been taken for prosecuting Mrs Bhattal.


2 ministers face serious charges
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 3
With the Punjab Assembly elections barely six weeks away, the BJP appears to be in a quagmire with a senior party leader coming out openly against two party ministers and defying even the authority of the party president to level serious charges against the two. The ministers have dismissed the allegations as mala fide.

Punjab BJP chief Brij Lal Rinwa has issued a show-cause notice to Capt Vikram Singh, a state executive member, for showing “gross indiscipline” by levelling allegations against two Punjab Ministers — State Minister for Excise and Taxation Tikshan Sood and Food and Supplies Minister Madan Mohan Mittal. Capt Vikram Singh asserted today that he would leave no stone unturned in bringing the “guilty” to book. Mr Rinwa, on the other hand, gave a clean chit to the two ministers and said he had spoken to them regarding the allegations and the party leadership was satisfied that they were not guilty and that the allegations against them were false.

“We think that Capt Vikram Singh has violated the party discipline for which he has been asked to explain within a period of one week or else he will face serious disciplinary action which could be his expulsion from the party,” Mr Rinwa stated while talking to The Tribune on his mobile.

What may put the BJP leadership in the tight spot is the allegations of Capt Vikram Singh, who said the BJP leadership, including the national BJP President Jana Krishnamurti and Mr Rinwa, had backtracked from their promise of taking action against the two ministers, who had brought a “bad name” to the BJP. “Earlier, they had promised that no shady party member or leader will be given the ticket, but now they are speaking a different language,” alleged Capt Vikram Singh. He alleged that the party leadership had formed an inquiry committee headed by Ms Luxmi Kanta Chawla, but it had not done anything “worthwhile” so far.

In his letter dated December 30, 2001, addressed to Mr Rinwa, Capt Vikram Singh alleged that Mr Tikshan Sood had taken a Congressman from Ludhiana — Raj Lakhanpal — to Canada during his tour to that country by “wrongfully” showing him as his Personal Assistant and had taken an amount of Rs 12.5 lakh from him with a promise that passage and employment in USA will be arranged for him later on. The minister, he alleged, had returned home along with passport of Raj Lakhanpal, who got stuck in Canada as the promise could not be realised. As his passport was with the minister, he had no alternative but to contact one of his relatives — Vijay Singh — who is incidentally a brother of Capt Vikram Singh and a senior leader of the Punjab unit of the Bajrang Dal. Vijay Singh took up the matter with Mr Sood, who promised to return the money, but did not, said Capt Vikram Singh.

“Instead of returning the money, Mr Sood approached the Punjab CM, with a complaint that he was being blackmailed by Mr Vijay Singh and the CM directed the Hoshiarpur SSP to take action. But Vijay was saved for timely action by Mr Rinwa, who informed me about the issue. As senior leaders intervened and as we had taperecorded version of both Mr Sood and Vijay Singh, Mr Sood returned Rs 7.5 lakh to Mr Lakhanpal through Mr Bittu Bhatia, a close associate of BJP MLA Sat Pal Gosain, and Mr Setia, PA to Mr Sood, and withdrew the complaint against my brother,” said Capt Vikram Singh. He alleged that he had misrepresented to the Canadian High Commission by showing Mr Lakhanpal as his PA.

The Hoshiarpur SSP was not available for comment.

Maintaining that the Canadian High Commission has instituted an inquiry into the incident, in the same letter Capt Vikram Singh also levelled allegations against Mr Madan Mohan Mittal. He said Mr Rajneesh, a brother-in-law of Vivek Mittal, who is son of Mr Mittal, was arrested recently at the Indira Gandhi Airport while taking huge amounts of Indian and US currency amounting to Rs 50 lakh to the UAE.

He alleged that Rajneesh remained in CBI custody for three months and had “admitted” that the money belonged to Mr Madan Mohan Mittal.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, when contacted, dubbed the allegations as a “bundle of falsehood”, created by a person who was “frustrated” “Don’t take note of him, as except for a few newspapers, none has published his allegations so far. Do you think his allegations are true?” he threw a poser at this correspondent.


Akalis against Tandon’s candidature
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, January 3
Supporters of Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh have opposed the candidature of Punjab Local Bodies Minister and sitting legislator Balramji Das Tandon from Rajpura seat by petitioning party chief and state Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to give the ticket to an Akali candidate.

Supporters of the Finance Minister, including Rajpura Circle Akali Jatha president Surjit Singh Garhi, Market Committee Chairman Jaswant Singh Neelpur, Land Mortgage Bank Chairman Didar Singh Khanpur, bank Director Gurdarshan Singh Ugani and Zila Parishad member Jasmer Singh Chandumajra besides senior leaders of the district and youth unit of the party, at a meeting here last evening passed a resolution demanding that the seat be given to an Akali candidate.

The resolution said the Bharatiya Janata Party’s presence in the constituency was negligible as compared to the Akali Dal. It said unconditional support to the candidature of Mr Tandon last time had proved dear for the party cadre in the constituency as it was completely ignored by Mr Tandon.

The resolution also charged the Local Bodies Minister with discriminating against Akali supporters while distributing grants in the Assembly segment and also pressurising Akali workers to join the BJP. The communication to the Chief Minister made clear that the Akali workers would not tolerate the ticket being given to Mr Tandon and that the party would have to face the anger of party workers if he did not pay heed to them. The meeting also resolved that party workers were willing to arrive at a consensus on any Akali candidate.

Mr Tandon won with 1000 votes in the last elections in which he received the help of both Capt Kanwaljit Singh and former SGPC Chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Mr Tandon and Capt Kanwaljit Singh share cool relationship since the former accused him of not releasing development grants. Though Capt Kanwaljit Singh attended the meeting organised by the BJP here on December 30, his supporters, including Mr Surjit Singh Garhi and others, refused to share stage with the BJP leadership and sat down in front on the stage when Capt Kanwaljit Singh came to address the meeting. Most of the Akali supporters also left the rally immediately after Capt Kanwaljit spoke leaving only a few hundred at the rally site for senior BJP leaders to address.

The Rajpura seat has traditionally favoured Akali candidates with Prem Gupta winning the seat as an Akali candidate and CPM candidate Balwant Singh also winning with the support of the Akali Dal. The sources said this time around also there were three prominent Akali contenders for the seat, including Surjit Singh Garhi, Jaswant Singh Neelpur and Jasmer Singh Chandumajra, all of whom attended yesterday’s meeting.


Ranjit Singh cautions Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 3
Even as Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal would pay his obeisance at Golden Temple and Akal Takht tomorrow, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht has warned Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti that any move on his part to “bail out” Mr Badal would prove counterproductive.

Talking to TNS here today, Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that Jathedar Vedanti had held a closed-door meeting with Mr Badal and efforts were being made to give Mr Badal a clean chit.

The former Jathedar said that if Jathedar Vedanti took any such step, it would be considered as violation of the Sikh traditions.

Mr Badal was “guilty” of violating the ‘Hukmnama’ issued on December 31, 1998, which had directed leaders of warring Akali factions to maintain truce till the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa Panth, He said. The edict was signed by the five Sikh high priests, hence Mr Badal would have to appear before Akal Takht one day, he added.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said if Jathedar Vedanti gave a “clean chit” to Mr Badal he, too, could be summoned at Akal Takht. He said the Sikh Panth was observing these developments and jathedar Vedanti had committed a “blunder” by dubbing the ‘Hukmnama’ as an appeal.

He claimed that whenever five Sikh high priests issued a statement, it had to be treated as a directive. Moreover, the ‘Hukmnama’ issued on December 31 had even directed Disciplinary Action Committee of the Akali Dal to ensure truce among the warring Panthic factions.


Hussainiwala a bigger draw
Anirudh Gupta

As dusk falls, the Hussainiwala border checkpost comes alive. Smartly turned out BSF personnel and their counterparts on the other side begin the Retreat ceremony.

The impressive ceremony is witnessing a spurt in the number of spectators, especially on the Pakistan side of the border. Earlier, on any given day, the number on the Indian side used to be more than that on the other side but the tension between the two neighbouring countries seems to have made a marked difference, stirring a feeling of intense patriotism.

As soon as one walks past the BSF barrier, the entire atmosphere looks surcharged and the heavy deployment of the Army almost presents the picture of a battlefield.

During the ceremony the crowds on both sides are locked in a slogan war, glorifying their respective countries. A feeling of hatred is evident.

Though even today the sanctity of the border is well preserved, these sturdy and daring BSF men, who always place the interests of their nation above everything else, evoke the spirit of sacrifice. All efforts of the BSF to prevent the enthusiastic crowd from raising provocative slogans are in vain.

According to Mr A.K. Malik, DIG, BSF, the change in the mood of spectators these days is no surprise. He says the BSF jawans are always ready to prevent the situation from taking an ugly turn.

Mr Malik says that the slogan war will not disturb the peace at the checkpost and the ceremony will not be discontinued.

With the last note of the buglers marking the end of the ceremony amidst thunderous applause and slogan-raising, the crowds on either side slowly make their way home as the birds come back to their nests around. The sun goes down and again an eerie silence prevails.


Attari Customs staff to be redeployed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 3
A series of meetings of the Customs authorities is on the cards for the redeployment of the customs staff which had been performing duties at Attari railway station and the Wagah border. The staff have been rendered idle following the termination of both passenger routes in the wake of the Parliament attack.

About 35 Inspectors and 16 Superintendents had been deployed at Attari for giving custom clearance to passengers of Samjhauta Express. As many as 14 Inspectors and 5 Custom Superintendents had been deployed for “Sada-e-Sarhad”, the Delhi-Lahore bus, in this connection.

These personnel will reportedly be deployed either on airports or on cargo duties in Punjab. Mr P.S. Pruthi, Assistant Commissioner, Customs, confirmed the reports emanating from certain quarters about the possible redeployment of the personnel. However, he denied reports about the possible cut down in the staff.

Meanwhile, immigration officials remained tight-lipped about the scaling down of the immigration staff at both border junctions. Mr Vijay Kumar, Assistant Foreigner Registration Officer, talking to The Tribune said there was no change in transfers in the immigration staff deployed at the Indo-Pak border routes as the foreigners rush was continuing from both sides via the Wagah road route open to them from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. A 24-hour-immigration clearance was continuing for diplomats and Embassy officials at Wagah, he added.

Intelligence officials, were silent on the issue of the redeployment of the security personnel that had been deployed at both routes.

However, Customs personnel and intelligence officials seemed disheartened over the new orders which have rendered them “almost duty-less”. Most of them said the routes were likely to be restored soon after tempers on both sides of the border cool down.


PNB union not to take part in strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 3
The Punjab National Bank Workers Union (PNBWU) (north zone) will not participate in strike tomorrow the call for which was given by the All-India Bank Staff Association (AIBEA).

Mr Kirpal Singh, member, central committee of the union, said in a press note issued here today that although the union was affiliated to the AIBEA yet it would not participate in the strike.

Mr Kirpal Singh said the union had full sympathy for the 50 employees of Standard Chartered Bank who had been transferred. He said similarly, several employees of the New Bank of India were victimised by the PNB management in 1993. And even after eight years their grievances have not been redressed.


Rally a boon for Chiranji Lal Garg
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 3
The BJP rally in the city today came as a boon for the SAD-BJP candidate from this constituency, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, as the entire district unit leadership of the BJP, who had earlier opposed his candidature, appealed to the electorate to vote for Mr Garg.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, the state BJP President who was in the city as part of the “sadbhavna and vikas rath yatra” which reached here last night.

Ms Gurcharan Kaur, BJP MP, Mr Gulzar Singh, party district unit president, Mr Mohan Lal Garg, Chairman Improvement Trust, Mr Narinder Mittal, party mandal unit president and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg were also present.

Mr Rinwa said there were no differences in the rank and file of the BJP and nobody would oppose the official candidate. He claimed that the electorate would vote for the candidates of BJP-SAD combine in the Assembly elections as the state had witnessed overall development in the past five years.

Mr Rinwa said dissent at the lower level of the party would not be tolerated adding that the party high command had given instructions to the party leaders and workers to support the official candidates.

Earlier, speaking to the mediapersons, Mr Rinwa said that the rath yatra had been receiving overwhelming response of the people of the state. He said the state leadership of the party would recommend the names of the candidates but the final decision would be taken by the high command.

In addition to 23 seats, the BJP had contested in the previous elections, it would ask for two or three more seats to its alliance partner. He added that the BJP had told the SAD that it would like to contest from Budhlada, Sangrur, Ludhiana (west), Balachaur, Gurdaspur seats which were earlier contested by the SAD. He said the BJP felt that its candidates could win from these seats.

Mr Rinwa said although the SAD had announced its candidates from 43 seats, but it could stake its claim on one or two seats on which the SAD had announced its candidates.


Tohra wary of Badal’s advisers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 3
The former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra is not wary of Mr Parkash Singh Badal but of his four close advisers, who do not favour unity.

The four advisers including a senior journalist, one Punjab minister and two party general secretaries had reportedly sworn that they would not align with Mr Tohra. In the return Mr Badal had also given his word to them. They had reportedly insisted on Mr Badal not to appear before Akal Takht, not at least at the instance of Mr Tohra.

It is learnt that one of the four persons, who also met Mr Badal before his aborted meeting with Mr Tohra yesterday, again insisted on the former not to forge unity on his (Mr Tohra’s) conditions. He is learnt to have told Mr Badal that in case he agreed to both the condition laid down by Mr Tohra, it will amount to his political defeat and he may lose the moral claim over the Akali leadership.

Mr Tohra has himself also been blaming these four persons for the continued deadlock on the issue. Otherwise, it has been reliably learnt, Mr Badal was prepared to bring back Mr Tohra as the SGPC President. But that is no issue for Mr Tohra.


Cong to hold talks with CPI today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Jolted by the decision of the CPI to contest the elections without any alliance, the Congress today again contacted the CPI to resume discussion for an electoral tie-up in Punjab.

Sources said the Congress high command had directed the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee's (PPCC) top brass to revive a dialogue with the CPI immediately.

The sources said Mr Lal Singh, a former minister and Mr H.S. Hanspal, a former Rajya Sabha member, had been told by the party high command to meet the CPI leadership in Punjab. Mr Lal Singh and Mr Hanspal would reach here tomorrow to hold a meeting with Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the state unit of the CPI, and other leaders. The meeting would be held at the CPI Bhavan.

Dr Dayal confirmed that a meeting had been fixed for tomorrow and the Congress leaders were on their way to Chandigarh.

The CPI had yesterday announced the names of 18 candidates for the elections following the breakdown of talks with the Congress on the sharing of seats.


Sekhon kicks off poll campaign
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 3
With the Assembly elections just 50 days away, the SAD-BJP combine seems to have taken the advantage of time in the election campaign. The SAD has already released the first list of its candidates whereas thousands of aspirants are still queuing up for the Congress ticket. The SAD-BJP candidate for the Ferozepore Cantonment Assembly segment, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, has already launched a vigorous election campaign, whereas the Congress and the other parties are yet to nominate their candidates.

In the Ferozepore Cantonment constituency, four candidates are in the race for the Congress ticket, namely Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, Mr Gurnaib Singh Brar, both former MLAs and two new faces, Mr Ratinder Singh Saiyanwala and Mr Harjinder Singh Sangha. Mr Saiyanwala is son of a former Akali MP and minister in the Barnala government, Mr Mohinder Singh Saiyanwala, and Mr Sangha is a budding Youth Congress leader. For the BSP ticket, Mr Lal Singh and Mr Mehar Singh are trying their luck. The district president, Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Sekhon, has started the campaign in the right earnest.


Balmik sabha leaders flay chairman’s decision
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh, January 3
Leaders of the Punjab Pardesh Balmik Sabha Centre Committee in a meeting held here today criticised the announcement made by its chairman to join SAD (B) and to support SAD (B) candidates in the coming Assembly elections. They stated that the committee has neither decided to join the SAD (B) nor has committed to vote for them.

In a press note issued here today, 10 top senior leaders of the committee led by Hari Chand and state General Secretary, Naresh Kumar Vaid said the announcement to join SAD by Mr Geja Ram, chairman, at a public function in Banur at the behest of Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Finance Minister, was his individual decision and not that of the organisation. They said the organisation was opposed to such decision and a meeting of the state body would be called soon in which the matter would be discussed and suitable action would be taken.

In another statement, Mr Brij Lal, member state committee, Mr Kasmiri Lal, vice president, Mr Jagdish Kumar Bhalla, Mr Raj Kumar Bhambak, president, Balmiki Basti, and others have also condemned the decision. They said they had nothing to do both with the decision and SAD.


Seats: BSP, Morcha meeting dead-locked

Jalandhar, January 3
With both the Panthic Morcha and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) refusing to play second fiddle to each other on the issue of seat adjustments for the February 13 Punjab Assembly polls, the meeting between senior leaders of the two parties held here today remained dead-locked with the BSP supremo Kanshi Ram demanding the lion's share. Senior Panthic Morcha leader Ravi Inder Singh confirmed the outcome. The BSP was led by Mr Kanshi Ram. The Morcha leaders included Jasbir Singh Rode of the Akali Dal (Panthic), Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and Prem Singh Chandumajra of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD). UNI


Mann lambasts Tohra
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 3
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, today disclosed that Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Senior leader of the Panthic Morcha, had not taken the Morcha leaders, including Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi and him, into confidence with regard to unity move with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Talking to The Tribune over the phone, Mr Mann said even Jathedar Tohra had not given any indication to the Morcha leaders on any such move.


Maluka suffers another jolt
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, January 3
Punjab Power Minister Sikander Singh Maluka, who has been renominated by the SAD from this constituency for the forthcoming Assembly elections, suffered another jolt yesterday when the local unit of the BJP, led by mandal president Sunit Bitta, did not participate in his election rally held in this town.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, a confidant of Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, who wields considerable influence in this Assembly segment, has already announced that he would contest the elections as an Independent candidate against Mr Maluka.


Political party formed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
A Morinda-based veteran Gandhian, Dr Bhangi, has formed the Bharatiya Khidmatgar Party. It will put up its candidates in the coming assembly elections in Punjab. In a statement Dr Bhangi said he had the opportunity of working with Dr Vinoba Bhave and Frontier Gandhi, late Abdul Gafar Khan.

Dr Bhangi said his organisation had a four-point agenda — Non-violence, fight against injustice, nationalism and social service.


Final chance to get voter I-cards
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 3
To provide the final opportunity to voters in the district, the administration here will make arrangements at the Ropar mini-secretariat for issuing voter identity cards impromptu after January 14.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr G.S. Grewal, while giving this information at a press conference held yesterday evening said the facility was being created on the directions of the Election Commission.

Under this facility any voter in the district who has not been issued a voter identity card as yet can come to the mini-secretariat along with a proof of identity and get his card made. The online facility with which cards can be issued immediately to the voters will be provided at the district headquarters from January 14 to February 7.

The Election Commission had directed are electoral officers to issue voter identity cards to at least 85 voters before the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state. However, the set target has not been achieved.

Among the five constituencies in the district the maximum voters issued voter identity cards are in the Chamkaur Sahib Assembly constituency.

In Chamkaur Sahib 86 per cent voters have already been issued voter identity cards. The percentage in other constituencies is 80 per cent in Nangal, 77 per cent in Anandpur Sahib, 73.9 per cent in Morinda and 70 per cent in Kharar. Following the Election Commission’s directive that voters not having identity cards would not be allowed to vote in the elections. This final effort was being made to issue maximum identity cards, he said.

The Deputy Commissioner said the returning officers in all constituencies has been appointed.

He said the facility for issuing passports at the district level would also be started here from January 15. According to the latest instructions from the Ministry for External Affairs, people who want to apply for passports can now have the forms from the district. All formalities for issuing the passports will also be completed by the district administration. For this new software is being installed at all district headquarters. The Ministry for External Affairs will reimburse Rs 200 per passport to state government for the processing the passport forms.


Suspension of nursing council Registrar kicks row
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 3
The Punjab Nursing Council is in news again. The suspension of the Registrar of the Punjab Nursing Council for allegedly increasing the seats of the Sacred Heart Hospital, Maksudhan (Jalandhar), in violation of rules and regulations has raised yet another controversy. The hospital imparts training in general nursing and midwifery.

The case for increasing the number of students of the institute was approved before the suspended Registrar, Ms Gulshan Bir Kaur, joined the office. Sources in the Punjab Health Corporation said that the case to increase the seats of the hospital from 30 to 40 was taken at a meeting of the council held on August 24, 1999, under the presidentship of the then Director, Health Services.

As per the agenda item number 9, relating to increase in the number of students of different institutions, a request to the then Registrar to increase the strength of students from 30 to 40 in the nursing institute was approved. Earlier, during a meeting of the council held on April 22, 1997, the number of seats of the institute was increased from 20 to 30.

The Director, Health Services, Dr G.S. Preet said the Registrar was suspended on the orders of the Chief Minister. When asked about the case of increasing the student strength of the hospital being approved prior to the Registrar assuming charge, he said he would be able to comment only after he saw the file of the case.

A senior official of the Health Department said the suspension was the outcome of groupism between two factions in the Punjab Nursing Council. The case of leakage of the paper of the nursing and midwifery conducted by the Punjab Nursing Registration Council has brought to light the involvement of the staff in running affairs of the council.

Sources said at least four employees were kept on contract in the council in March last without following the laid procedure. Posts of two peons and two clerks were created at a meeting of the council but the persons were kept against the post without advertising in paper or calling the names of candidates from the employment exchange.

A case of the nursing council recognising a local nursing institute without obtaining a no objection certificate (NOC), mandatory under the provisions of the Indian Nursing Council, from the Punjab Government was a case in point.


Unhygienic functioning of state chemical lab
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 3
The state chemical laboratory situated here is the last ray of hope in the court of law for people whose loved ones have been unlawfully done away with. However, even a cursory look at the functioning of the laboratory makes one feel that the hope is misplaced.

The laboratory functions with samples of viscera in cases of poisoning and murder and other body parts being tested in an open verandah. Sources said the samples are also left in the open in the backyard of the laboratory complex near Dukhniwaran Gurdwara. The latter part is, however, denied by the laboratory management.

However, there seems to be much scope for foul play in the present set-up. The laboratory shares a common backyard with the Artificial Limb Centre of the District Red Cross and has only a low wall as a deterrant for anyone who wants to tamper with the samples which are tested in the open verandah. The Tribune team also took a photograph of alleged samples as well as medicines lying in the open in the backyard of the complex after approaching the same through the backyard of the fitment centre.

Sources said the laboratory, which had limited resources with much needed chemicals being brought on a piecemeal basis, had opened a large number of samples for testing, which could not be accommodated in the laboratory inside the main building. They said due to this a large number of samples were lying outside in the backyard which, they said, could be tampered due to the open nature of the building complex and lack of any security.

State Chemical Examiner Rajesh Chander, when questioned on this score while visiting his office, denied that any samples were left in the open during testing. He said only those samples were lying in the open which had been tested. He however, refused to let The Tribune team see the premises of the laboratory or visit its backyard.

Dr Chander claimed that the work in the laboratory was going on smoothly under him with the backlog of samples accumulated in the laboratory being tackled in a phased manner. He said while earlier there was as a backlog of five to six months, it had now been shortened to around three months. He said work was continuing without a break at the laboratory even though there were space constraints and there was also sometimes a shortage of reagents and other stuff needed for testing.

However, independent sources present a stark picture of apathy. According to sources, the laboratory lacks the infrastructure to tackle the large number of postmortem packets being sent to it. Besides this they said once a post mortem packet was received and opened, it started stinking soon and had to be shifted to the verandah or the open to be tested, as the testing procedure took 15 to 20 days. They said there were also no separate storage or disposal facilities in the building. Employees said the viscera and body parts were disposed off in the ganda nala on the outskirts of the city by hiring a rickshaw whose driver was given compensation by way of liquor to cart the stuff.

The laboratory is the only one of its kind in the state which examines human viscera sent after postmortem in cases of murder and unnatural deaths, semen examination in cases of rape, cases of poisoning in attempted homicide and suicide. The laboratory also examines the samples of opium, alcohol and other drugs under Prevention of Narcotics Act.


Cartpuller becomes crorepati
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Lady luck has smiled on a cartpuller of Jalandhar and turned him into an instant crorepati.

Mr Raj Kumar of Basti Peer Dass, Mohalla Rajan Nagar, Gali No 6, Jalandhar, who works as a cartpuller with a gas agency, has won the first prize of Rs 1 crore in the Maa Lakshmi Divali and Pooja Bumper-2001, of the Punjab State Lotteries.

The lots were drawn in Ludhiana on November 15 last year and the prize money of Rs 1 crore was handed over to the winner through a bank draft by Mr V.K. Bhalla, Director, Punjab State Lotteries, here today. Many other prize winners were also given their prize money through bank drafts at the function held at the Punjab Lotteries Directorate .

Mr Bhalla stated that till date the department had created 23 millionaires. The success of the Punjab State Lotteries was attributable to its fair draws and quick payment. The revenue earned from lotteries went to the Consolidated Fund of the state. He further announced that keeping in view the public demand, a new bumper issue, the “Punjab State Holi Bumper-2002, was being launched, the draw for which was proposed to be held on March 25.

The Director also stated that the Punjab State Lotteries was known for its transparency and its bumpers schemes were quite popular in northern India. They had a first prize of Rs 1 crore and the same was guaranteed to be given in public, as it was drawn out of sold tickets only. He also extended an open invitation to the public to rotate the draw machine for the ongoing “Punjab State New Year Lohri Bumper-2002, the draw for which would be held on January 14 at Nehru Siddhant Kendra, Ludhiana at 4.30 p.m.

He said during the last financial year, the department earned a net profit of Rs 35 crore and the expected profit for the current financial year would be more than Rs 65 crore. It would be the endeavour of the department to contribute the maximum to the state exchequer and for this purpose, the department was planning to introduce monthly lotteries also. Steps for launching an online lottery were already under way.


2 jawans cremated
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 3
The mortal remains of Lance Naik Paramjit Singh, who had fought the Kargil war, and Subedar Swaran Singh of 7 Sikh Infantary were consigned to flames today.

Paramjit Singh (30), a resident of Surkhpur village, was killed in a mine blast near Jaisalmer in Rajasthan yesterday. He had joined the Army in 1990.

His funeral was attended by villagers, Punjab Urban Development Minister Upinderjit Kaur, SDM G.S. Khaira, DSP Chaman Lal and many Army officers.

Subedar Swaran Singh was killed in a militant attack near Rajouri. His body was brought to his native village, Habibwal last night. His funeral was attended by former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur among others.


Shiv Sena’s offer to PM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 3
In a communication the All-India Shiv Sena president Surinder Kumar Billa, has assured him that activists of his organisation would maintain supply of ration to Army men if India attacked Pakistan. Mr Billa, who undertook a tour of the border areas today, said that the morale of forces and residents of the border area was very high.


M.L. Kaushal retires
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Dr M.L. Kaushal, Director and Warden, Fisheries, who retired today after attaining the age of superannuation, was given a warm send-off by the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association.

He had put in 37 years of service in the Department of Animal Husbandry before taking over as Director. He also held charge as Joint Director, Animal Husbandry.


Notice on contempt petition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 3
Taking up a contempt petition filed by Additional Deputy Commissioner Som Nath and five PCS officers against Punjab Chief Secretary N.K. Arora, the Secretary of the Union Public Service Commission, and another respondent, the Central Administration Tribunal today issued notice for February 14.

The petitioners, senior PCS officers, were selected for promotion to IAS by the Select Committee at a meeting held on November 16 last year. They alleged that the inaction on the part of the respondents in not reconvening the meeting with a view to finalising the selection amounted to intentional disobedience of the tribunal orders.

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