Sunday, February 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal for putting ban on opinion poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The political affairs committee of the ruling SAD today slammed the Congress for its bitter election campaign and called for electoral reforms, including banning of media opinion and exit poll. It urged the Election Commission to invite political parties to discuss the reforms.

The meeting assessed that a section of media allowed itself to be “exploited” in projecting a particular view. It expected the Election Commission to probe into this "deep — rooted" conspiracy.

The PAC noted that exit poll in the past elections had proved wrong. Even in the latest Maharashtra Nigam elections such polls had proved wrong. “It is time the Commission and the political parties jointly evolved a mechanism that would restore peoples faith in electoral democracy. Let parties make their claims but media should not become part to influence public opinion”, said a resolution adopted at the meeting.

Briefing newspersons after the meeting at his residence, Mr Parkash Singh Badal exuded confidence that the Akali-BJP combine would form the next government by winning a “comfortable majority”; the media projections and predictions notwithstanding. “With full responsibility and 50 years experience of politics and elections, I can say with confidence that we will form the government”.

Except for Mr S.S. Dhindsa, all other members of the committee attended the meeting at Chief Minister’s residence. He was joined at the briefing by Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MP.

Mr Badal admitted that SAD ads in response to the Congress’ were in “bad taste”. When pushed to the wall the party had no choice, he added.

Mr Badal said he had read and seen quotes in the media which he had not said. “I did not show any discourtesy to anyone even at the cost of my discomfort while travelling, yet, unthinkable quotes have been put in my mouth”, he sighed.

Mr Badal said the Congress had tried to create divisions among Punjabis by completely vitiating the atmosphere.

On the Panthic Morcha, he said it helped and harmed the SAD.


Exit polls leave alliance fuming
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Near-peaceful polling in Punjab on February 13 notwithstanding, the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janta Party alliance has been fuming over media opinion and exit poll.

While the BJP leadership has accused the Election Commission of being “biased” against the alliance, the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has made veiled remarks.

Mr Badal has let off his steam on a section of the media for its “partisan role” in the pre-polling period, maintaining that such trends were detrimental to democratic values and conventions.

While the Punjab Congress has apparently no reason to “challenge these opinion and exit polls”, it has yet to make its stand clear, both on the methodology and timing of such “opinion and exit polls”.

Other parties in the fray, including the Panthic Morcha, Bahujan Samaj Party, the CPI, the CPM and the Lok Bhalai Party and others have maintained silence on the issue.

The issue had generated heat and debate even during the last general elections. The Supreme Court had remanded the case back to the Election Commission of India. How the suggestion of Mr Badal for an all-party meeting or debate on the issue is received remains to be seen.

Intriguingly, none of the parties has come in support of those who were not allowed to cast vote at the last moment. The last minute deletion of names from voters list had left thousands of voters bitter.

Another trend witnessed during the February 13 polling has been the diminishing number of service voters. Punjab, still considered the sword arm of the country, has a fairly good representation in the armed forces as well as the paramilitary forces. But the total number of service voters was a mere 12,500. These voters include the adult family members of serving men and officers of not only defence and paramilitary forces but also of the diplomatic corps.

Little has been done to make voters list flawless, contain poll violence and distribution of liquor and drugs.

The Election Commission is yet to go beyond minor issues, like preventing of banners and flags on electric and telephone poles, government buildings and ensure safety and well-being of a vulnerable voter.


What next for Punjab-II
Improving growth rate
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Despite the entrepreneurial spirit of the Punjabis, the state is in an economic mess. Its annual growth rate has dipped from 5.3 per cent in the eighties to 4.4 per cent in the first two years of the Ninth Plan.

In order to achieve a higher growth rate attention has to be paid to rural education, health system, tax mobilisation, halting the slide of public sector undertakings and review over-staffing.

The road-map for the 10th Plan has to be drawn quickly and correctly. For this a cross-section of bureaucrats TNS spoke to expressed concern, admitted lapses and suggested remedies.

It was stressed to re-draft man-power policy and effect re-deployment of the staff. The salary bill has shot up two times in the past five years. It was Rs 2,139 crore in 1996-97 and 4,428 crore in 2001-02.

The next government should enact an Act on the voluntary retirement scheme, re-deployment of surplus staff in various departments and semi-autonomous organisations. No recruitment should take place for at least two years, but for socially important and economically viable units. The remaining public sector undertakings should be closed or dis-invested or sold. The money realised should be used for either resuscitating the remaining PSUs or paying for the golden handshake.

The pension bill has shot up three times in five years. It was Rs 349 crore in 1996-97 and Rs 1,150 crore in 2001-02. Many bureaucrats felt that when ban on recruitment is lifted after two years moratorium, a less burdensome pension scheme should be ready.

Several schemes and projects in the social and economic sectors were performing poorly because of paucity of funds. These included education, health, roads, bridges, water supply etc. Why take up new projects, if the old ones are becoming a burden? The remedy lies in blanket ban on politically-motivated schemes and projects, finding local institutional arrangements for running the existing schemes and projects and taking up all future infrastructural programmes on build-own-operate; build-operate-transfer and build-own-operate-transfer basis. The commitment of state finances should be minimum in all these.

Allow private practice to professionals. A sum of Rs 50 crore is paid as non-practicing allowance annually. That will improve delivery system of services and effect savings. Likewise, involve the Punjab police in security rather than para-military operations which consume Rs 15 crore every year.

In view of poor recovery of cost from social and education sectors, let there be an independent regulatory authority to determine tariff and other charges to increase competition. Introduction of VAT—value addition tax— will boost economy. Once income is enhanced, expenditure will comes down, the debt burden will ease.

All this means taking politically and administratively ''bold and correct decisions''.



Congress ultimatum to cops in Kalia case
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 16
The issue involving the Punjab Medical Education Minister, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, and the Congress allegations that he had slapped the daughter-in-law of his rival and Congress candidate from the Jalandhar (Central) constituency on the day of polling took a new turn today with the District Congress Committee (DCC) threatening to launch a stir against the Jalandhar police if it failed to register a case against Mr Kalia within three days.

Mr Kalia had allegedly slapped Sunita Rani, daughter-in-law of Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, Congress candidate, when she had gone to cast her vote at one of the booths in the Charanjitpura locality on February 13, which had invoked widespread protests and stone-throwing between Congress and BJP supporters. However, what has provoked the Congress is the alleged “inaction” of the police authorities in the matter and its dill-dallying attitude in the registration of a criminal case against Mr Kalia, who, according to the DCC leadership, had not only slapped the woman, but had also prevented her from exercising her right of franchise.

The Congress has also rejected the daily diary report (DDR), which the police authorities had reportedly registered only after the PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, snubbed some senior officials for exhibiting their “partisan” attitude towards the SAD-BJP combine.

“We are taking it very seriously, and we will also probe the conduct of some senior police officials, who have been playing into the hands of SAD-BJP leaders,” said Mr Balbir Singh, local MP, while taking to TNS.

Mr Tejinder Bittu, DCC chief, said the reported DDR under Sections 323 and 506 of the IPC had been rejected by the Congress since the alleged incident was of a more grievous nature. “Actually, the police is trying to save the minister by using one or the other plea. We have given an ultimatum of three days to the police and if it falls to register a case we will hold a dharna in front of the district police office,” said Mr Bittu, adding that his party would go to court if the case was not registered. “There is no relevance of the DDR, particularly in the light of a Supreme Court judgement wherein it has been clarified that the police has to register a case in case of congnizable offences.”


Stamp duty worth crores evaded
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 16
Evasion of stamp duty amounting to crores of rupees is taking place in the district allegedly with the connivance of the sub-registrars of the district.

Sub-registrars are allegedly pocketing part of such stamp duty amassing huge money. The Deputy Commissioner as Registrar, has fixed rates for agricultural, commercial and domestic land. The rates of “nehri” agriculture land has been fixed at Rs 1.5 lakh per acre, “Barani” land at Rs 1 lakh per acre for the purpose of registration. The rates of lands in the urban area has been fixed at different rates ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 15,000 per square yard.

The state government has instructed all sub-registrars to register all documents through computers and not to register the documents manually. Although the time for registration has been fixed from 9 am to 1 pm on all working days but the sub-registrars register the documents after 5 pm and continue till 9 pm and the people have to wait till night to get the registered document.

However, sub-registrars with ulterior motives somehow make computer non-operational so that the documents can be registered manually and big amounts can be “pocketed” through their agents. Sometimes deed writers obtain the signatures or thumb impressions of the seller, purchaser and witnesses required for the registration of documents at their seats and charge heavy “fees” and later on get the deeds registered in the absence of such persons by paying the “fees” of the sub-registrars at their residence.

Mr Sanjay Kumar, former Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, had ordered an inquiry against the then Sub-Registrar (Tehsildar) Mansa, Mr Sukhdev Singh, for registering the under-valued documents and amassing huge wealth but with his transfer the inquiry seems have been buried.

The powers of the Sub-Registrar withdrawn by Mr Sanjay Kumar has since been restored without waiting for the result of the inquiry.

Moreover, the government is imposing new taxes on the public while officials are eating into it. Certain deed writers are allegedly charging hundred times more fees than prescribed without issuing any receipt. The racket of the sub-registrar, deed writers, registration clerks and other persons need to be probed, but it seems that the state government is not sincere in solving the problem.

Custodial death: govt told to pay relief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
Even as the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), New Delhi, has directed that “the Government of Punjab shall pay a sum of Rs 1 lakh as immediate relief under Section 18(3) of the Protection of Human Rights Act to the next of the kin of the deceased and report compliance with in six week”, the family of the deceased, Ram Chander, who allegedly died in police custody in 1997 has reportedly shifted to an unknown place.

It was in April 1997 that the commission received an intimation from the local SSP about the death of Ram Chander alias Chandi, son of Budh Ram, in the police custody of police station E-division here on April 4, 1997.

A copy of the commission’s letter to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, was received by Mr Satya Pal Dang, a veteran CPI leader today.

A copy of the same has also been endorsed by the commission’s office to Mr Budh Ram of Lakha Mandi here, father of the deceased.

Mr Dang has requested Mr Ripudaman Singh, former secretary of the CPI unit, who had taken the initiative to get justice for the family of the deceased to trace the family which is believed to have left Amritsar so that it could get the interim relief awarded by the National Human Rights Commission.

The commission received no reply to its registered notice issued on September 11 last year to the Government of Punjab.

A reminder sent on October 30, 2001 also remained un-replied. It is under these circumstances that commission made the above recommendation.


BJP to review performance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
The Punjab BJP will asses its performance in the February 13 poll here tomorrow. Specially called for the meeting, to be presided over by the party President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, the office-bearers and five ministers.


Bid to glorify criminal: Abohar DSP
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 16
The police has taken a strong exception to “motivated attempts” made by a section of the people to glorify an alleged criminal as a hero of the polling day violence.

DSP Gurmeet Singh Chauhan said here today that on February 13 police patrolling parties were informed that some persons were creating trouble at the polling station in the Pucca Seed Farm locality on the outskirts of this sub-divisional town. Inspector Mal Singh, in charge of the city police station, led a patrolling party to the area.

Supporters of two candidates had reportedly clashed there. One person identified as Harchand Singh, who had received injuries, lodged an FIR against Surender Kumar Vij, Arvind, Gaurav, Amar Singh, Diwan Singh, Avtar Singh and Sukha Singh of the same locality under Sections 307, 324, 323, 148, 149, IPC.

According to Mr Chauhan, the groups however, continued their fight at saw mill owned by a former councillor Surender Vij at Malout Road. The police dispersed them and arrested Balkar Singh under Sections 107 and 151 apprehending breach of peace there.

It was recalled that a case had been registered against Balkar Singh at Khuyiansarwer police station on June 11, 1999 under the Arms Act. Two cases had been registered against him at city police station here on January 7, 1999 and on October 4 last year under Sections 307, 324, 323, 452, 427, 506, 148, 149 and 307, 325, 323, 148, 149, IPC, respectively. He had been evading arrest. The police claimed that Balkar Singh had entered the town on the eve of election.

Mr Chauhan said Balkar Singh was injured during the group clashes and was admitted to the civil hospital after the arrest for treatment. He was discharged from the hospital yesterday and produced in the court where he was remanded in judicial custody till February 28. Now some elements were trying to give it a political colour, he said.

The DSP maintained that the polling was not disrupted due to clashes between rival factions at Pucca Seed Farm on February 13. The police was determined to deal with anti social elements firmly, irrespective of their political affiliations.

Eight cases had been registered under Section 188 and vehicles illegally used for election publicity by different candidates were impounded during the campaign. The police had registered cases under Excise and Arms Act against the offenders also during the last week of electioneering. Adequate security arrangements would be made around counting centres in Abohar and Balluana constituencies falling under this sub-division.


244 matrimonial cases disposed of
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16
As many as 244 matrimonial cases were disposed of and Rs 64.14 lakh was awarded as compensation at a state-level lok adalat organised for quick disposal of matrimonial cases in the court complex here.

Stating this here today, District Legal Services Authority Chairman S. N. Aggarwal said the lok adalat was presided over by Mrs Justice Bakshish Kaur, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Aggarwal said besides this, Mr Justice K. S. Garewal, Judge, Punjab and Haryana High Court, also had a round of the lok adalat and participated in the settlement of the matrimonial cases.

Mr Aggarwal said around 229 matrimonial cases under the Hindu Marriage Act and 174 cases under Sections 125 and 128, CrPc, regarding maintenance and 98 cases under Sections 406 and 498, IPC, pertaining to dowry, harassment and embezzlement of articles were taken up by the adalat. He said 22 other matrimonial cases and 20 cases of the Punjab Financial Corporation were also taken up in the adalat of which 16 cases had been disposed of.

The District Administration, Patiala, and the district bar associations of Patiala, Rajpura, Samana and Nabha also gave their cooperation in holding the lok adalat. In all 28 lok adalat Benches had been constituted with each bench being presided over by a judicial officer assisted by a social worker and an advocate. Students of the Army Institute of Law besides, Mr H.P.S. Mahal, a member secretary of the Punjab State Legal Services Authority, and Punjab Women Commission Chairperson Surinder Kaur also attended the adalat.


Absence of railway underbridge hits life
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Mansa, February 16
The non-construction of a railway underbridge is affecting life and business of the local residents who are held up for hours daily. All trains — passenger and goods pass through the city, which lies, on the busy Delhi-Bathinda section.

This is one of the major demands of this 10-year-old district and has been one of the issues that was prominently highlighted by all contesting candidates in the Assembly poll. Prominent politicians of the district have turned a blind eye towards this problem while officials cite paucity of funds for the project as the reason for the non-construction of the underbridge.

Being the district headquarters, hundreds of people visit the city daily. The railway line divides the city into two areas. The offices of the Deputy Commissioner, SSP, District Court complex, bus stand, municipal council, marriage palaces and big hotels are located on one side while the Civil Hospital, all private clinics, grain market, big business establishments, banks, colleges, schools, besides the main gurdwara are situated on the other side of the railway line.

Mr Dhan Singh, a local resident, says most of the people plan their visit to the city keeping in mind the time schedule of the trains. This is not enough since numerous goods trains are unscheduled. City residents say at least 10-15 trains pass through the city everyday. Besides the passenger trains, racks ferrying oil from the Bathinda depot and coal to the Bathinda thermal plant compound the problem. Sometimes it takes more than an hour to just go to the other side — a distance of not more than 2 km.

According to Mr Narinder Kumar, the main manned level-crossing remains closed for nearly three to four hours everyday. In the absence of an underbridge long queues of vehicles can be seen at any time during the day. The problem is acute for patients who have to be rushed to hospital. It is a common refrain of the people that a patient may not “die enroute the hospital but is sure to breathe his last at the crossing,” he added.

Others too voice the same problem. Not only this, most of the long-route buses from other places to Haryana — particularly Sirsa and beyond — pass through the city. Apart from these buses to Sardulgarh, Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo and adjoining rural areas are held up for long durations during the day. Long queues of buses, tractor trailers and other vehicles held up on the Mansa-Sirsa highway could be seen during the day.

Residents say they have been hearing that Rs 50 lakh has been sanctioned for the underbridge but nothing concrete has been done. The MLA, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, said he had taken up the matter with the Chief Minister who promised that the sanctioned money would be released soon.

The Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, made a public announcement in this context in May last year but the money had not reached the district authorities so far. Mr Aulakh claimed that the project was held up due to some technical problem but would be revived soon. The construction of the underbridge was a commitment, which would be met, he asserted.

The local unit of the CPI too had been going to town that money for the project would be made available from the funds of the MP, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura. The underbridge would be constructed near Kamboj Palace, party workers said but were silent on why nothing had been done so far. “Mr Bhaura is trying his best to push the project through,” they claimed.

Another resident, Mr Sanjeev Bhardwaj, pointed out that a railway overbridge had been competed at Sunam and it had eased the traffic congestion in that city. “If an overbridge can be constructed in a subdivision like Sunam, why not at the district HQs, here”, they question. 


Maruti told to pay Rs 1,000
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 16
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed Maruti Udyog Limited and its local dealer, Lovely Autos, to replace all four faulty shock absorbers of the Maruti 800 car purchased by Mr Krishan Lal Saini. The forum also directed the company to pay litigation costs to the tune of Rs 1,000 to the consumer

The president of the forum, Mr Iqbal Singh Bajwa, directed the defendants to comply with the orders within a month. According to the five-page order, Mr Saini, who had purchased a Maruti car on April 4 last year, started complaining about faulty shock absorbers of the vehicle soon after the purchase.

Though the company got repaired the shock absorbers in May last year, the consumer was not satisfied with the functioning of his car. Mr Saini again submitted a complaint on September 9 last year against the malfunctioning of the shock absorbers. He demanded that either the vehicle should be replaced or all shock absorbers changed free of cost, but the dealer and the company refused to do so.

After hearing both counsels and going through the documents placed before it, the forum held that from the outset, there was a defect in the shock absorbers which could not be removed. The forum directed the dealer and the company to replace the shock absorbers of the complainant’s car with new ones.


Fairness of poll process questioned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, BJP MLA, while questioning the authenticity of the polling process, said it seemed that the Election Commission neither took notice of the complaints nor does it see the ground reality in which voting took place.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Ms Chawla alleged that a large number of names of authentic voters had been missing from the voting lists. Similarly, some voters, who got their photographs clicked at least three times, had not received voting cards. In addition to this, incorrect names of voters had been entered in the voting lists, she alleged.

She further said there existed no system for such voters to register their complaints. She said it seemed that the Election Commission had merely indulged in transfers or issuing statements to the media in the current election.

She added that the Election Commission ought to take serious notice of the free distribution of liquor, money and even mobile phones, scooters and televisions and those who got authentic votes deleted.

Ms Chawla said unless there was a permanent voting department to register votes throughout the year, the problem of deletion and inclusion of bogus votes would not be solved.

She demanded that justice be meted out to those whose votes had been maliciously deleted and exemplary action be taken against those who had perpetuated the crime.


Nisha — a local celebrity
Tribune News Service

Raikot (Ludhiana), February 16
Eversince her letter addressed to the state Chief Minister was published in an English Daily on the frustration prevailing among unemployed youth in the state, Nisha Kaura has become a celebrity in this town, 40 km from Ludhiana. While enjoying public attention, Nisha and her family members are a bit apprehensive over any possible backlash due to their outburst against the government.

Denying reports doing the rounds that some officials from the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the district administration had threatened the girl’s father, Varinder Kaura, a junior engineer with the PSEB, Nisha and her father told Ludhiana Tribune that some friends had “cautioned” them but not “threatened” them.

The courageous father-daughter duo, asserted they had indeed complained to the state Lok Pal regarding the alleged irregularities conducted in the selection of JBT and B.Ed teachers by the Punjab Government.

This correspondent met the family a couple of days ago while covering polling in Raikot. Her celebrity status was evident from her popularity in the town as every Tom, Dick and Harry knew her address. “The girl took a very bold step”, said a local journalist. He said thousands of youth had applied for the post, but due to alleged corruption those with less marks had got the job.

“All of them sat back, but Nisha raised her voice and the media has lived up to her expectations by coming to her aid,” he explained.

It has not been easy for Nisha. After passing B.Ed scoring high percentage, she was confident of getting a job.

She topped the M.Sc examination in Chemistry from Panjab University. But to her utter shock, when she applied for a teacher’s job, several persons with less marks got the appointment letter, whereas she was denied the same.

She then decided to write to the Chief Minister.

Nisha’s parents appeared reluctant to get her photo clicked.

Mr Kaura had his reasons: “We will fight any threat, but you know is the world anything can happen. So please bear with us”, he requested. The family is eagerly awaiting the Lok Pal’s reaction. “We have furnished proof about the irregularities” said Mr Kaura.


MLA denied bail
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 16
The bail plea of Mr Sher Singh, MLA from Jalalabad, has been rejected by a local court. He was accused of beating up certain excise officials and serving illicit liquor to lure the voters.

Mr K. K. Kareer, CJM here, has rejected his bail in a five-page order passed yesterday. Earlier, the bail plea of Mr Devinder Singh, another accused in the same case, was also rejected by the court in February 11.

An FIR was registered against the MLA and his associates in Jalalabad city police station on January 25 on the request of Mr Bhim Sen, Excise and Taxation Officer. He alleged that the MLA and his associates attacked him in the Sadar Police Station, Jalalabad, when he was drafting a case of making brewing illicit liquor and “Lahan”. They beat him up and took away the equipment and utensils seized by the Excise Department that were used to make illicit liquor and “Lahan”.


Old-age pensioners want dues paid
Our Correspondent

Moga, February 16
An emergency meeting of the Punjab Government Old-age Pensioners Association was held here yesterday. The state president of the association Mr Hardev Singh, urged the government to make payment to the persons who had attained the age of 65 to 75 at revised rates.

Mr Hardev Singh said that though the district treasury at Ludhiana had released the money to pensioners, those in Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepore were refusing to make the payments. He said the central and the Haryana governments were also giving pensions at the revised rates.


Docs go on strike over rowdyism

Moga, February 16
The doctors of Moga civil hospital today went on a three-hour strike in protest against the rowdyism of a mob gathered at the behest of a candidate of a political party from Dharamkot last night.

Later, doctors on deputation met the SSP, Moga, and submitted a memorandum condemning hooliganism and threats given to them.

According to the memorandum, the mob, carrying lethal weapons, entered the doctors’ duty room and tried to obstruct them from discharging their duties.

The doctors association appealed to the SSP to take steps to bring the culprits to book, failing which it would resort to an agitation.

The association also demanded that a round-the-clock post be set up on the hospital premises so that the staff on emergency duty could discharge their duties fearlessly. UNI


Waiters seek salaries
Our Correspondent

Moga, February 16
Resentment prevails among the waiters of various tourist complexes in Punjab over the non-payment of their salaries for the past two to three months.

According to reports, the payment had not been made to them since November last. They have warned that if their salaries were not released immediately, they will resort to an agitation. This was stated by a spokesperson of their association here today.


Woman crushed to death by train
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, February 16
A woman was crushed to death by a train in Jalalabad yesterday.

According to the police, Krishna Devi (24), wife of Ashok Kumar, slipped on the railway track while crossing. A train coming from Fazilka ran over her.

She is survived by her husband who is a plumber and a two-year-old daughter.


Attack on ex-MP condemned
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 16
Members of the faculty and B.Ed and M.Ed students of DAV College of Education, at a meeting held under the chairmanship of the college Principal here today, condemned the cowardly attack on Sqn/Leader Kamal Chaudhry a former MP. They appealed to the district administration to bring assailants to book. The Sqn Leader, however, arrived on the scene and pacified the agitated students.


SI suspended for slapping candidate’s kin
Our Correspondent

Moga, February 16
A Sub-Inspector, in charge of a counting centre at Kotisekha in Dharamkot Assembly segment, has been suspended for allegedly slapping the son of Congress candidate Bibi Gurdarshan Kaur at the centre last night.

Besides Sub-Inspector Ram Parkash’s suspension, a DSP Mr Lashkar Singh, was also served a show-cause notice on the charge of not properly supervising security of the counting centre which had the polled electronic voting machines (EVMs), the SSP, Dr Sharad Satya, told newsmen here today.

The SSP said the Sub-Inspector reportedly misbehaved with the son of Congress candidate last night. The candidate’s kin had apprehended some foul play with the EVMs after electricity went off. He wanted to enter the room where the machines were lying by showing an authority letter.

Angered over this, the Sub-Inspector slapped the candidate’s son several times, the SSP said.

The DSP was served the show-cause notice as he arrived very late at the counting centre despite being informed well in time about the altercation, the SSP added.

The Dharamkot SDM has been asked to probe the incident. 


Robbers in police uniform loot houses
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 16
Robbers dressed in Punjab Police commando uniforms forcibly entered several houses in the Hira Bagh locality on the outskirts of the city yesterday and made off with around Rs 15,000 and 15 tolas of gold jewellery.

Sources disclosed that the gang members, who had muffled their faces with red cloth, entered street number 1 in Hira Bagh yesterday. They first entered the house of one Surinder Singh on the pretext of searching it and robbed him of Rs 4,000. They also took away ration worth about Rs 4,000 from Surinder’s house, besides gold earring of his wife.

The gang members also entered the room of a resident of Bihar, Bharat, who is staying on rent in Surinder’s house, and snatched Rs 2,000 from him. After this they forced their entry into the house of one Gurjant Singh, also residing in the same locality, and robbed him of Rs 3,000 in cash, gold earrings and some clothes. The robbers also entered the houses of two other persons — Raja and Suman — and snatched Rs 800 and a silver chain from them.

They also robbed one Harbhajan Kaur, who lives in the same locality along with her eight-year-old son. They robbed her of Rs 3,000 in cash, 12 tolas of gold and suit lengths. Harbhajan Kaur told the police that the looters were talking in some tribal language and were armed with metal and wooden rods.

Cases have been registered in the Sadar police station in this regard.


DCC chief’s remarks flayed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 16
The dominant faction of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA) today condemned the utterances of District Congress Committee (Urban) president Ved Prakash Gupta, who yesterday demanded the registration of criminal cases against the university Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, following a complaint of harassment by a girl student, besides allegations of irregularities.

Following an meeting of the PUTA executive, its president, Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, said it was out of turn for Mr Gupta to interfere in the internal matters of the university. He said Mr Gupta had made the statement due to his ''selfish interests'' and that the views expressed by him were unilateral and made without taking into consideration the views of other party functionaries.

Dr Dhillon said the president of the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR), Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, was engaged in vilification of the university's prestige. He said the activities of Dr Amarjit Dhillon showed an ''unbalanced mindset'' and urged the university management not to take any notice of his utterances.

The PUTA president claimed that the executive had also taken serious note of the pending account of Rs 42,000 to be cleared by a former president, Dr B S Khaira, and a former secretary, Dr Balwinder Singh and urged the university authorities to lodge an FIR against them. He also urged the authorities to start interviews and clear the backlog as soon as possible. It was also requested to make promotions effective from 1998 and raise the age of superannuation to 62 years.

Meanwhile, in a separate note, the FEAR president today alleged that the Vice-Chancellor was committing blatant opportunism by blaming the RSS for the troubles on the university campus when a change of government was on the cards in the state.

The FEAR president said the Vice-Chancellor had earlier made efforts to please the RSS and the BJP. He said a person with an RSS background had been installed as Head of the newly-created National Integration Chair. He said Dr Ahluwalia had got a BJP minister registered for PhD under him, had translated the poems of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and got the book released at Delhi, besides getting a ballet prepared on the poems which was staged in Lucknow in RSS-sponsored functions.

The forum appealed to the Pradesh Congress President, Capt Amarinder Singh, in particular and the public in general to understand the real motives of Dr Ahluwalia for criticising the RSS at this juncture by doing an about-turn''.


Oppn plea to Governor on ETT test result
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 16
Various Opposition parties have urged the Punjab Governor to stop the Education Department from declaring the result of the entrance test for the Elementary Teacher Training (ETT) till the formation of the next government. There is flurry of activity in the Education Department to declare the result on February 18.

Alleging several irregularities in the preparation of the result, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, former Education Minister, Punjab, who has contested as the Congress candidate from Faridkot this time, said that the election process had not been completed yet. So, no result should be declared.

A senior CPI leader said that earlier an entrance test for the ETT course was conducted in August last. Why the second test only four months after he asked. He has urged the Governor to hold a probe in this connection. He said there were only 550 approved seats of the ETT in Punjab. But over 1900 students had been enrolled in Punjab against these seats on the basis of the August test. He wondered at the fate of successful candidates in the December test.

He urged the Punjab’s Chief Electoral Officer not to grant permission to the Education Department to announce the result.


‘Use IT for masses’ benefit’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 16
"Political freedom without economic prosperity is meaningless. India has political freedom but not economic prosperity. The vast majority is still not free from hunger, disease and illiteracy," Dr Gulshan Rai, Executive Director, Ernet project, Department of Information Technology, New Delhi, said here today. He was addressing the annual convocation of the faculties of engineering and technology, physical planning and architecture of Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the convocation and awarded degrees to more than 125 graduates and postgraduates of these faculties.

Dr Rai said in the field of technology, though India had made rapid advances, its progress had been lopsided. He said India was ranked 63rd on the technology achievement index in the human development report 2001 compared to China's ranking of 45, even though Bangalore was 11th among the 46 hubs of technological innovations across the world. He stressed that information technology (IT) should be used for the benefit of the masses. He said technology could be used to solve many of the problems peculiar to the country, be it regarding human resource development, employment, environment and planning for disaster management. Finding appropriate solutions was undoubtedly a technological challenge, he said.

Addressing the scholars, he said they were the budding technologists of the day and should think how to make use of IT for the benefit of the people.


Principal suspended for violating code
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 16
Mr Prabhjot Singh, Principal, Government Senior Secondary School, Chheharta here has been suspended allegedly for the violation of election code. An inquiry conducted by the Circle Education Officer, reportedly established the charge.

According to a press note issued by Mr Jai Karan Pathania, Assistant Secretary, CPI here today, a stadium constructed in the school was inaugurated on January 5 by a candidate contesting the elections when the code was already in force while a stone reading that the inauguration took place on December 25, last year was put up.

Mr Pathania further alleged that the Principal had sent teachers and students to cheer up Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at Chheharta Chowk on January 4. The Principal himself was also present there.

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