Thursday, February 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Kewal Singh’s resignation accepted
SGPC to raise ‘Operation Bluestar memorial’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 20
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) today accepted the resignation of Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar,Takht Damdama Sahib, who had to resign on January 10 under pressure when the Additional Sessions Judge, Bathinda, had vacated the stay order on the arrest warrants in the mysterious death of his daughter-in-law on May 18, 1997.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting held under the presidentship of Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar at Guru Nanak Niwas of the SGPC here today.

While Sarnjit Kaur’s brother, Mr Amarjit Singh, had alleged that his sister was killed for dowry, the family of the Jathedar had described it “accidental death”. The body of Sarnjit Kaur who was married to Baljinder Singh, son of Giani Kewal Singh in January, 1996 was found in the holy tank of Gurdwara Likhansar, opposite the official residence of Giani Kewal Singh at Takht Damdama Sahib. The Senior Sub Judge, Talwandi Sabo, had issued arrest warrants against Giani Kewal Singh, his son, Baljinder Singh and kin, Joginder Kaur. However, these orders were stayed by the Additional Sessions Judge, Bathinda, which was vacated later on.

The SGPC Executive has also decided to raise a memorial on infamous “Operation Bluestar”. Prof Badungar said the place for the memorial would be decided after consultation with Sikh high priests since Akal Takht and Golden Temple were also affected in this operation. Interestingly the SGPC had not taken the decision in the past 18 years after the “Operation Bluestar” to preserve the damaged structures.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Senior Vice-President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, and executive member, SGPC, said had the shiromani committee completed inquiry against Giani Kewal Singh and Prof Manjit Singh in time the jathedar would not have faced such humiliation today. He alleged that the inquiry committees constituted by the SGPC for probing Rs 32 lakh “siropa scam”, Rs 30 lakh “photo scam” and Rs 40 lakh “Coca Cola scam” could not complete the probe as the SGPC wanted to “hush up” the embezzlements committed after unceremonious removal of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra as SGPC chief. He said his party has urged the SGPC management to expedite the inquiries so that truth may be brought before the Sikh sangat. He said the Akali ministers, including Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Sucha Singh Langah, Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, and many SGPC members who got their wards admitted in the NRI quota had not paid about Rs 2.5 crore which was still pending against them.

Prof Badungar, however, said the SGPC Executive had refused to pay the pending amount of about Rs 5 lakh to Anandpur Sahib Foundation incurred at the timing of tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth despite request made by Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in this regard. Though Rs 43 lakh had already been paid by SGPC, the members belonging to SHSAD opposed releasing of the pending amount to the foundation. The SHSAD also opposed the move of the SGPC to encash the fixed deposits of the SGPC.

Replying to a question, Prof Badungar said that SGPC had no objection to send “jathas” to Pakistan for paying obeisance at Sikh shrines there. He, however, said the SGPC won’t accept the existence of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee. However, he hastened to add that the pilgrimage was possible if tension on the border was defused as no devotee would like to visit Pakistan amid heightened tension in the region.

Answering another question, Prof Badungar claimed that the result of Assembly elections won’t have any adverse on the SGPC. He claimed that the Congress was unlikely to form the government in the state as predicted by exit poll. Interestingly, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur who was sitting with Prof Badungar predicted that after the results of Assembly elections all the members of the ruling Akali Dal, except Mr Badal, would shift their loyalty to the Panthic Morcha.


Martyrs denied place in House: Raj Babbar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Samajwadi Party Lok Sabha member Raj Babbar here today accused the BJP and the Congress of failing to remove the British handed-down ‘’terrorist tag’’ in Parliament records to freedom fight martyrs like Bhagat Singh.

‘’Martyrs from Punjab and other places do not find place in Parliament of the country despite my representations to the Prime Minister, the President and the Speaker of the Lok Sabha,” the film actor-turned-politician Raj Babbar told a press conference here today.

He said when he met the Speaker of the Lok Sabha for giving the martyrs a place in Parliament, an impression was given that they were considered ‘’terrorists in Parliament record’’ as a result of which their names could not be mentioned or portraits and statues of them could not be put up in the House.

Raj Babbar came here to announce the launch of a film based on the life of Shaheed Bhagat Singh.

He said the mention of these national heroes like Bhagat Singh, Subhash Chandra Bose and Udham Singh as ‘’terrorists’’ and the leadership’s failure to correct it came as a shock to the people of the nation amidst all the nationalistic boast of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani..

He said in this situation, statues or portraits of these leaders could not be erected in Parliament despite five decades of Independence.

Raj Babbar expressed his dismay at the dismal condition of martyr Sukhdev’s house in Ludhiana, which is ruining for want of government support.

A frustrated Samajwadi Party MP said he would raise issues of ‘’disrespect to the national heroes in his films’’.

The Samajwadi Party leader indicated options of post-poll alliance with the Congress not being closed telling The Tribune ‘’nothing is clear cut in politics’’.

Raj Babbar, however, said the Samajwadi Party would form the government in Uttar Pradesh on its own against all predictions projected by exit polls.

The actor said he was pursuing the freedom from all shackles espoused by Bhagat Singh even in political life.

The fight on the TADA issue was not initially even considered by the partymen, who were surprised at his stand.


Quasi-judicial authority to check corruption
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
The Second Punjab Finance Commission has presumably based its recommendations on three assumptions. One, the state’s difficult financial situation that it perceives is unlikely to improve. Two, the menace of corruption that it says needs to be checked. Three, it apprehends that its report may also not go “unconsidered”, the way the First Commission’s report went, involving the legislature.

Therefore, in its report submitted to the Governor on February 15, the commission has recommended: One, that 4 per cent of the net receipts from all state taxes may be transferred to the PRIs (panchayati raj institutions) and ULBs (urban local bodies) during the period covered, 2000-03 to 2005-06. (The first report had covered the period from 1996-97 to 2000-01.) The total amount to be transferred is estimated at Rs 222.65 crore in 2002-03, going up to Rs 277.97 crore in 2005-06.

Two, in order to check corruption, a quasi-judicial authority, on the pattern of the Lok Pal, may be constituted to look into the complaints of corruption against the elected heads of PRIs and ULBs, apart from greater access to information regarding schemes and purchases and awards to those giving clues to corruption.

Three, considering the delay in the implementation of the recommendations of the First Finance Commission, apart from its recommendations on the devolution of funds and some other key recommendations being never considered at all, the commission has demanded an ‘’action taken report’’ to be placed before the legislature within six months of the submission of its report and also setting up of an ‘’implementation committee’’ to oversee the processing , progress and implementation of the recommendations, again within six months.

Going by the commission’s report to achieve the recommended targets for the PRIs and ULBs as also the government, their resource gap has been assessed at Rs 126 crore and Rs 581 crore, respectively, during 2002-03, rising to Rs 207 crore and Rs 751 crore, respectively, by 2005-06.

After the incorporation of the 73rd and 74th Amendments of the Constitution of India, it is now mandatory for every state to set up a Finance Commission on the devolution of powers, functions and finances from the net proceeds of the state taxes, duties, toll and fees leviable to the PRIs, and ULBs.

It is well acknowledged that greater financial authority to the grassroots democratically elected bodies, the PRIs and ULBs, to improve their functioning, is imperative. But this seldom happens. One finds clouds have been gathering over Punjab’s economy spreading darkness down to the PRIs and ULBs. Finding consoling conclusions is becoming difficult. Punjab, once a prosperity machine has run down. A lot of backroom time in finding ways and means is needed to re-run it. The commission seems to have done just that. The crucial question is whether the administration (prickly bureaucracy and intransigent politicians) will show the necessary will to get off the drawing board what the commission has suggested?

Tenaciously reviewing the state’s PRI and ULB balance-sheets, the commission recommendations are expected to give a new impetus to the ground zero elected bodies that are adversely affected by the resource crunch. These bodies are sick. The commission finds them curable and, thereby, saving an implosion. Let’s see how life flows in villages and cities, how the PRIs and ULBs are placed at present and what has the commission recommended, having studied both portfolios. After all, the commission is acting only as a whistle-blower to warn the next government.

(To be continued)


Students’ rally against VC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 20
The call for the removal of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, following the registration of a criminal case against him by Saru Rana, today gathered momentum when several student bodies along with the Forum for Educational Action and Reform pressed for his immediate removal. The forum has also called for his arrest.

The zest at the ongoing youth festival in Punjabi University was somewhat marred as members of several student bodies, including the ABVP, AISSF, SFI and PUSA, held a protest rally in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office here today. The Vice-Chancellor could not be contacted despite repeated efforts and also did not turn up to inaugurate the festival as scheduled.

The Sadar Police yesterday registered a criminal case against Dr Ahluwalia and three others including the Head of the Department of Fine Arts, Ms Saroj Rani, a research scholar, Ms Aman and an employee, Mr Jaspal Singh, for allegedly harassing Saru Rana, student of MA Fine Arts. The charges against him and others who were booked included assault on a woman to outrage her modesty, wrongful restraint, obscenity and criminal intimidation.

It may be recalled that Saru Rana’s missive to the Vice-Chancellor few days ago alleging exploitation and harassment of girl students at the hands of the university authorities had stirred up a hornet's nest on the campus. In her letter, Saru Rana had stated that girl students of her department were asked to wait upon the VC and his guests, wear dress of a particular colour , stay back after department hours for extra work and taken out of station to decorate premises at various functions.

Saru Rana’s complaint was followed by a criminal complaint filed against her by her classmate Sarabjeet Kaur for which Saru Rana had received summons to appear before officer in charge at Sadar Police Station here. Saru had then appealed in a written plea to the Governor and Chancellor of the university, Lieut Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), to immediately intervene and save her "life and career".

The university responded by constituting a probe panel to look into the alleged misconduct by Saru Rana. An order to this effect was issued by the Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr Tarlok Singh Anand, asking the girl to appear before the panel.

The case was registered after Saru along with representatives of various student organisations met the Superintendent of Police, Mr Param Raj Singh Umranangal. Saru has complained in her FIR that Ms Saroj Rani along with Ms Aman and Mr Jaspal Singh have been threatening her with dire consequences if she does not withdraw her complaint against the VC, adding that she has been receiving threats from anonymous callers at the behest of the Vice-Chancellor. The SSP informed that the complaint by Sarabjeet Kaur had been sent to the Deputy DA (Legal) for opinion.


FIR part of  conspiracy, says Pbi varsity VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, said today that the FIR lodged against him, Dr Saroj Rani, Head of the Fine Arts Department, Ms Aman and Mr Jaspal Singh was part of a deep-rooted conspiracy by certain vested interests inside and outside the university.

In a faxed statement, he said those who were aspiring for the post of Vice-Chancellor had also joined the campaign against him and certain politicians. He added that soon the truth would come out.


PUTA factions slug it out
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 20
As the case of alleged harassment of Saru Rana by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, reached a new high, with the former filing a FIR against him and three others yesterday, the anti-and pro-VC factions warmed up for a war of words and release of press statements against each other.

The Punjabi University Teachers Association, led by Dr D.S. Dhillon, took a stand in favour of the Vice-Chancellor and dismissed the whole incident as being blown out of proportions. Challenging the credibility of the complainant, PUTA insisted that some “frustrated” and “disgruntled” elements of the faculty were using Saru Rana to malign the image of the Vice-Chancellor. Dr Dhillon stated that a delegation would be sent to the Governor and the Chief Minister to apprise them of the facts.

On the other hand, a faction of the PUTA, led by its suspended secretary, Dr N.S. Atri, demanded that the Vice-Chancellor’s entry in the university be banned till he was cleared of the case. He said it would be appropriate that the charged should not occupy the chair of the Vice-chancellor. The faction, lauded the action of the SSP of Patiala in registering the case against the Vice-Chancellor.


Varsity Act not notified
Students’ fate uncertain
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 20
The fate of the students of Medical Colleges in the state of Punjab, affiliated to Baba Farid University of Health Services hangs in the balance as the Act under which the university was created never came into force till date in the official gazette of the state government.

Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu, Member, Central Council of Homoeopathy, Ministry of Health (Government of India) and Member, Regulation Committee, Central Council of Homoeopathy in his letter written to the Governor of Punjab said that thousands of medical students studying in different medical colleges of Allopathy, Ayurveda as well as homoeopathy faced bleak future. The Act 1998 (Punjab Act no. 18 of 1998) Sub Section 3 of Section 1 has not been notified by the State Government in the official gazette.

Dr Ranu added that from the perusal of Section 1 (3), of Act it was clear, that the date on which the said Act shall come into force, was required to be notified on a subsequent date. “And the date has not been notified in the official gazette till date,” maintained Dr Ranu . The medical colleges affiliated with the said university and the university started functioning without any lawful authority.

The member, Central Council added that the fact of not notifying the date of enforcement of the said Act came to the notice of Punjab and Haryana High Court through civil writ No. 12257 of 2000 in Shaheed Kartar Singh Sarabha Ayurvedic Medical College and Hospital versus the state of Punjab and it was held by the High Court that the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Act, 1998 was not in force. And the natural consequences was that the transfer of Institutions or the exercise of the jurisdiction by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences was without the authority of law.


Universities operate from rented buildings
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, February 20
Punjab is perhaps one of few states where two technical education universities — Punjab Technical University (Jalandhar) and Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (Faridkot) — continue to operate from rented buildings.

Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, which is the first of its kind in Punjab and fifth in the country, has 41 colleges affiliated to it. These include six medical, 11 dental, eight ayurvedic, six nursing, three physiotherapy, six homoeopathy and one college of sports medicine. In 1999, when this university was formally established, it had 26 colleges affiliated to it. While the growth in the number of health sciences institutions in Punjab has been phenomenal, the parent body continues to operate from rented buildings.

The university recently established its own College of Nursing here which is a major breakthrough in its academic activities, says Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of the university.

The Punjab Governor, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (retd), yesterday visited the university. He is also the Chancellor of the university. He reportedly expressed his concern about the shortage of anaesthesists and radiologists in the state and wanted the university to take steps to train specialists in these fields.

The university was established with an ambitious programme of developing a great centre for teaching and research in health sciences. But in the absence of a campus, it is finding it difficult to set up its research centre as medical equipment is costly and fragile and can not be shifted easily.

The university also proposes to set up six study centres encompassing various health disciplines and three regional centres at Amritsar, Ludhiana and Patiala. Though the university is supposed to play a major role in improving medical education and conduct research in all aspects of health sciences, both basic and applied, its major handicap is the financial crunch.

The release of grants to the university, too, are meagre. The Punjab Government released only Rs 1.77 crore as revenue and Rs 7.5 crore as capital against the allocation of Rs 14 crore and Rs 56 crore, respectively, during the Ninth Plan.

The Vice-Chancellor has reportedly sought the intervention of the Governor-cum-Chancellor for the release of adequate funds so that work on the construction of the university’s campus can start.

The master plan and designs of buildings are ready. The chief architect of the project, Satnam Singh of Chandigarh, died some months ago. The construction has also been delayed because of paucity of funds.

Dr Gujral wants that some sort of legislation should be introduced to make the issuance of notifications for entrance tests in a time-bound manner so that admissions to various professional courses can be made on schedule. Baba Farid University is ahead of many other universities in the field of computerisation and its networking.


Paramilitary forces at SAS Nagar sought
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 20
The District Election Officer, Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, has requested the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) to allow him to deploy para military forces at the SAS Nagar counting centre.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Mr Grewal said the Returning Officer for the Kharar Assembly Constituency had demanded the deployment of the paramilitary in SAS Nagar on the plea that supporters of certain candidates might clash there. The request of the Returning Officer had been further recommended to the CEC, he said.


Counting may be disturbed, fears Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, the Indian National Congress candidate from the 69 Kharar Assembly constituency in Punjab, today sent a letter to the Chief Election Commissioner expressing his apprehension that a candidate was planning to create disturbance at the time of counting by damaging the EVMs with the connivance of the Returning Officer.

According to the copy of the letter faxed to Chandigarh Tribune, the Chief Election Commissioner had been urged to provide foolproof security arrangements under the supervision of the Election Commissioner for the safety of the EVMs. He further requested to ensure that EVMs were out of the physical reach of the counting agents as well as of the candidates and their election agents.

He also requested that adequate paramilitary forces be deployed outside the counting station. Mr Bir Devinder Singh said he had serious apprehension that the Returning Officer of the constituency, Mr Jaipal Singh, SDM of SAS Nagar, whose role had been doubted by the Congress party, might become instrumental in creating disturbance. He also insisted that instead of Punjab Police, paramilitary forces be deployed at the counting station.


Additional force for vote counting centre sought
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, February 20
Additional police force has been sought for the Kharar Assembly constituency counting centre at Shivalik Public School in Phase VI here.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, on the request of the Returning Officer-cum-SDM, Mr Jai Pal Singh, has sought permission from the Election Commission for deployment of additional paramilitary force inside the counting centre and two more video teams in addition to the one that every counting centre is provided with.

Meanwhile, the rehearsal of the counting of votes polled on February 13 was held here today. The counting staff were acquainted to various procedures and rules relating to the counting exercise in front of the SDM’s office building in Phase I.

The Returning Officer said there would be 14 tables for counting with two persons on each. There would be four to six persons in reserve, besides other staff. The second rehearsal, he said, would be held on February 23.


In custody for ‘brother’s offence’
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 20
A case of blatant violation of human rights by the Punjab police has come to the fore, with the Ludhiana police allegedly picking up and keeping in illegal custody a Nangal resident for an offence which the police suspects has been committed by his brother.

Som Nath who was residing alone in his house No. 32 in block I of the Nangal Township, was picked up in the early hours on Sunday allegedly by some policemen in plain clothes. Neighbours of Som Nath told this correspondent that some people came in their locality in a Tata Indica car at about 5.30 am. They were accompanied by a local policeman and before the neighbours could enquire about them, they bundled Som Nath in the car and took him away. There is a sense of insecurity among the people of the locality after the alleged picking up of the youth, who the people say, had never indulged in any unlawful activity. He had been staying in the locality for the past five years.

The Nangal police station SHO when asked about the whereabouts of the missing youth said a police party from Civil Lines police station, Ludhiana, had come to Nangal which was led by Mr Naresh Kumar, Head Constable, on Sunday. They had informed the local police that they had come to the area for investigation in a car theft case. The SHO, however, declined having any knowledge about the picking up of Som Nath.

Some Nath was working with a Nangal-based courier agency. The authorities of the courier agency when contacted said he originally belonged to Behl village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh. He had been working with the agency for the past five years and had never reportedly indulged in any unlawful activity.

The sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity said reason behind the picking up of Som Nath was that his brother, Ashok, used to work in car bazar of Ludhiana. The police suspects his involvement in a car theft of a kin of a retired police officer.

A police party had left Ludhiana on Sunday to look for Ashok Kumar at his native village in Bilaspur. Not finding anyone at his residence the police team came to Nangal and picked up his brother, Som Nath on the promises that on finding his brother in police custody Ashok Kumar would surrender himself.

The sources also alleged that Som Nath was being kept in illegal custody by the Civil Lines police of Ludhiana for the last 58 hours. None of the Som Nath’s kin was available for comments at his native village.

The SSP, Ludhiana, was not available for comments. When contacted on phone the office incharge of the SSP said he was busy making arrangements for the visit of the DGP to the city tomorrow.

The SHO, Civil Lines, when contacted on phone though admitted that a case of car theft was registered in his police station on February 14th but declined any knowledge about the whereabouts of Som Nath.

Meanwhile, a Nangal based NGO Arpan, has threatened to take the case to the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Punjab Human Rights Commission if he was not released from illegal custody immediately.


Washermen’s appeal dismissed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 20
An appeal challenging a judgement given by Civil Judge Rajinder Aggarwal on February 8, 1999 filed by 43 residents of the town has been dismissed by Additional District Judge Gopal Krishan Dhir. The petitioners had opposed the move to demolish Dhobi Ghat in the old Suraj Nagri area.

Mr Ratan Lal president, Khem Chand vice president, Udey Chand secretary, Manghey Ram cashier of the Washermen’s organisation were among 43 appellants who filed the suit for permanent injunction for restraining the family of late Ami Chand Nambardar of Azeemgarh, Improvement Trust and the Municipal Council from demolishing or damaging the dhobi ghat for implementing a housing scheme in old Suraj Nagri .They contended that 100 years ago an area measuring 14 kanals 14 marlas had been left by the council here for dhobi ghat in Khasra number 978. Even the forefathers of the appellants had been using the ponds for washing the clothes. The Canal Department had sanctioned use of water for this purpose. Site in question had never been used for any other purpose, they claimed.

Nambardar’s family said that the appellants had no locus standi to file the suit. The entire area was not under dhobi ghat and the family, was owner of half of the area lying vacant there. The council was competent to shift the dhobi ghat as there was danger of spread of diseases due to existence of the ghat in a thickly populated area.

The Improvement Trust maintained that the Municipal Council vide resolution number 348 of December 6, 1991 gave consent to the trust to implement the scheme. Civil Court had no jurisdiction as the trust was competent to prepare the housing scheme under Section 25 of the Punjab Town Improvement Act. dhobi ghat was emitted foul smell.

It was pointed out that the Municipal Council being the owner of the land, could certainly specify suitable places for washing animals, clothes etc. as per the convenience of the public. Thus the council was entitled to shift dhobi ghat also from the inhabited area. The council could order demolition of the ghat particularly when evidence established that the existing site of the ghat was a nuisance for the adjoining locality. There was no population surrounding the ghat 50 years ago. Now linen of hospitals were washed it could spread diseases. Social welfare organisations had made representations to the council seeking shifting of the ghat. Thus there was nothing wrong in exercising powers u/s 106 of the Punjab Municipal Act.

The Additional District Judge held that the appellants had no right to seek relief of permanent injunction which is objected to by inhabitants of surrounding localities and even by owners of the land. Trial court, therefore, committed no error in dismissing suit of appellants. Judgement of the trial court, did not call for interference, Mr Dhir observed. The court dismissed the appeal leaving the parties to bear their own costs. Copy of the judgement was received here on Tuesday.


Employees denounce 92nd Amendment
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 20
The General Category Employees Welfare Federation has denounced the 92nd Amendment to the Constitution, which ensures accelerated seniority to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled tribes over general category employees in government jobs.

The latest Amendment has nullified the Supreme Court judgement in the Ajit Singh case, which states that the reserve category employees, who availed themselves of the facility of promotion as per the roaster-point system, in no case, would be considered senior as compared to those general category employees, who had been appointed first but had availed themselves of the promotion later.

Mr S.S. Chohan, convener of the federation, said here today the Amendment would result in the promotion of junior reserved category employees at the cost of senior general category employees. He said with this Amendment, SC and ST candidates would be entitled to not only preference at the time of recruitment but during promotion as well. The Amendment was in contradiction to the Supreme Court judgement and Mandal Commission report.


Chicken pox affects 9 villages
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 20
Several residents of Lakhiwal, Talabwala, Uddat Saidewala, Hakamwala, Sherkhanwala, Maghania, Alampur Mandran, Sandli and Faridkot villages of the Boha area of the district and nearby area of Haryana on the Punjab-Haryana border, have been affected by chicken pox which will assume epidemic form if steps were not taken to check it.

According to information available here today, Ms Akki Devi of Hakkamwala village has already died of this disease. Members of her family said that she fell victim to the disease a month ago whereafter her hair started falling and yellow pimples appeared over her body. She could not survive despite treatment at various places. Ms Paramjit Kaur, Principal Jyoti Public School said that pimples had appeared on the body of Harjit Singh, a student of her school and he is on leave. Prior to it his brother Satyam Singh also suffered from the same disease, she added. Similar pimples also appeared on the bodies of pump operator Mukhtiar Singh and Mr Chatta Singh and they are receiving treatment from a private clinic. Some residents of Jhalbutti village of the area of the district including Karanjit Singh, a student of ITI Budhlada. Ms Murti Devi and Muni, a four year-baby have also developed symptoms of the disease. Dr P.D. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, Mansa, said so far only three persons have been found suffering from chicken pox. When asked about one death from this disease, he denied its information. He said yesterday he sent a team of doctors with medicines to the affected area.


Doctors violating MTP Act: panel
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 20
The District Advisory Committee, constituted for the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 1994, at a meeting held here last evening asked the district health authorities to strictly implement the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971, to check sex determination tests.

The meeting, held under the presidentship of Dr Nirpal Singh, Chairman of the District Advisory Committee, was attended among others by Dr Surinder Singla, a representative of the IMA, Mrs Kusum Garg, a social worker, Dr P.S. Klair of the local Civil Hospital and Dr Suresh Goyal, District Family Welfare Officer, Sangrur.

The committee also expressed its concern that due to government’s lax attitude, the MTP Act, 1971, was not only being openly violated by the nurses, midwives and quacks but also by qualified doctors. As per this act, termination of pregnancy (abortion) could be done only by the doctors, approved by the government, at approved places under “specified conditions”. Even qualified gynaecologists could not do abortions at unapproved places.

A member of the committee also stated that gross violation of the MTP Act, 1971, led to pre-natal sex determination by ultrasound centres, followed by selective abortions at unapproved centres by unapproved persons or doctors as these were within comfortable reach of the common persons.

Later, Dr S.N. Tiwari, Civil Surgeon here held a meeting with owners of all ultrasound centres of the subdivision. He asked them to register the name of every female patient, aged between 15 to 50, coming for ultrasonography test for any reason.

Dr Tiwari also told them if any female patient, aged 15 to 50 years, was found undergoing test without prior registration of her name in a special register, provided to them by the district health authorities, then he or she would be booked under the PNDT Act, 1994.


Ultrasound centres told to submit reports
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, February 20
All ultrasound scanning centres in the district have been asked to submit weekly reports of the tests performed in their centres on women between the age group of 15 and 45 years. The step has been initiated to check the increasing cases of abortions, particularly those female foeticide.

An advisory committee of medical experts set up by the local administration to control abortions met here yesterday under the chairmanship of Dr Meena Jagga to discuss the various aspects of female foeticide. It was also decided to set up a complaint centre in the Civil Surgeon’s office to monitor such cases. The complaints of the tests conducted by ultrasound centres solely meant for abortions could be lodged in the complaint centre in written as well as by telephone.

A three-member subcommittee of experts has been constituted to look into such complaints and further initiate inquiries by inspecting the records of the ultrasound scanning centre. The team members of the committee have also been empowered to go in for sudden inspection of the ultrasound centres apart from the routine checking after 15 days.

The senior Medical Officer here, Dr Karnail Singh, has also passed an order to such centres to maintain proper record of the tests performed at their centre. Legal action would be initiated against those not maintaining proper record and not submitting the weekly report to the SMO’s office.


Traffic a major problem here
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 20
Traffic continues to be a major problem in this town. The administration has formulated a number of plans to control traffic, especially in markets, but due to lack of coordination between the administration and the police, the situation is deteriorating.

Even though signboards forbid parking and plying of four-wheelers in markets, nobody pays heed to them.

Police personnel are rarely seen at markets, and even if they are deployed there, they simply challan two-wheeler riders for not wearing helmets. They do not help in regulating traffic.

Traffic lights near the local SP office have been lying out of order for the past more than six months. No policeman is deputed at the Shahpur Chowk area to regulate traffic.

The town is surrounded by over 100 villages and thousands of villagers come here every day.

Irregular parking of rehris and stray animals have compounded the problem further.

Traffic jams are common and the condition of roads pitiable. Also, there is no specified parking in the markets.


Parliamentary team visits border villages

Amritsar, February 20
A seven-member Parliamentary team yesterday held parleys with residents of the border villages of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts at Kaunke village near Attari, 15 km from here.

In an inter-action the team was apprised of the difficulties of the border residents in the wake of the Army taking positions along the border after the December 13 attack on Parliament. Senior Army commanders and civil and police officials also participated in the meeting.

The villagers demanded compensation for their next of kin who either died while stepping onto Army-laid mines in the past two months. The villagers also expressed difficulties in maintaining crops across the barbed wire fence and on this side of the zero line. The teamassured the border residents of all help and said that the matter would be taken-up with the ministers concerned. UNI


Police memorial stadium opened
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 20
Mr Sarbjeet Singh, DGP, inaugurated a police martyrs’ memorial stadium at police lines here today.

Mr Sarbjeet Singh urged the police officers to take inspiration from Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, and involve themselves in welfare activities. He said there were a small number of officers in the police force who paid attention towards such activities.

The DGP said with the efforts of Mr Aulakh, the local police lines now had a stadium which was much better than the stadiums of the police force situated at Jalandhar and Phillaur.

The DGP also honoured some persons on the occasion for their contribution to the stadium building.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jatinder Singh Aulakh, SSP, and Mr Mandip Singh Sidhu, SP (Headquarters) also spoke on the occasion. Mr S.M. Sharma, IG (Zonal), Patiala, and Mr Iqbalpreet Singh Sahota, DIG, Patiala Range, were also present.


Commuters want new train
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 20
Representatives of various social organisations, traders’ unions and panchayats of Haryana and Punjab have urged the Union Railway Minister to start a new DMU train between Bathinda and Sirsa so as to facilitate the commuters.

In a letter to the minister, Chief Manager, Northern Railway, New Delhi, and Divisional Manager, Bikaner, they said there was no new train on the section for the past many years although the number of passengers had increased manifold.

They said the four trains running on the section were unable to cope with the number of passengers.

They said a large number of traders, students and employees commuted daily and they found it very difficult to do so due to a shortage of trains. They said that the DMU should run between Bathinda and Sirsa in mornings and evenings.


No ticket collector for over 10 yrs
Our Correspondent

Barnala, February 20
The railway station here has no ticket collector for the past more than 10 years. Also no one attends to railway inquiry calls because there is no provision for any employee to attend to the calls. This was stated by Mr Ramesh Chander Batra, Station Superintendent, Barnala, on Sunday. Residents, in the absence of a ticket collector, often go for strolls, even during train arrival timings, on the platform. On February 16, 20 persons had to pay penalty to a raiding team in this regard.

There is also no computerised reservation facility and railway inquiry services here.


Scribe’s death mourned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 20
Local journalists today mourned the death of Mr Swatantra Sheel who died at Ferozepore a few days ago.

The mourners, led by Mr Radhey Shyam Sharma, a former Editor of Dainik Tribune and President of the Chandigarh Journalists Association, recalled his services to the profession. A condolence resolution was also passed.

Mr Sheel was a native of Batala and started his journalistic career as Staff Correspondent of Hindustan Samachar News Agency in Chandigarh. He worked with several news organisations and was a senior journalist with the Punjab Today TV channel till his death. He is survived by his wife, Mrs Madhu Prasher, Principal of the Ferozepore Dev Samaj College, and two sons.


101-yr-old freedom fighter dead

Moga, February 20
Ujjagar Singh, a 101-year-old freedom fighter, died last night at his native village Sher Singh Wala in Faridkot district, family sources said.

Ujjagar Singh, who leaves behind three sons and two daughters, was cremated with full state honours even as a large number of people, including freedom fighters and senior officials of the civil and police administration, paid their last respects. PTI


Seminar on Maharaja begins today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 20
Guru Nanak Dev University here organise a national seminar on the Life and Times Maharaja Ranjit Singh under the aegis of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Chair. Nearly 40 scholars will present papers. Mr L.M. Singhvi, MP and former High Commissioner to the UK will inaugurate the three-day seminar starting from February 21.


Case against Inspector for torture

Moga, February 20
The Moga district police has registered a criminal case against an inspector, a sarpanch and the son of a local MLA on a charge of torturing a government primary school teacher. The case was registered on the recommendation of the Additional Director-General (Crime) yesterday.

In his complaint to the Punjab Human Rights Commission, Surinder Singh, a school teacher of Rajyana village, alleged he was severely beaten up in his house and then in the police station by the then in charge of Bhagpuranan police station at the instance of the son of the Bhagpurana MLA, Jagtar Singh, and the Rajyana sarpanch in September last year. The complainant said even his son was beaten up in the police station when he came to enquire about him. But instead of registering a case against the sarpanch, the police registered a case against him and his son under Section 107/152 of the Cr P.C.

Later on finding the allegations correct, the ADGP directed the Moga district police to register a case against the three accused. UNI


Nursing institute starts functioning
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), February 20
To overcome the acute shortage of trained nurses and other paramedical staff in various hospitals and dispensaries, being run by the Punjab Government, a State Institute of Nursing and Para-Medical Sciences, the first of its kind in the state, has started functioning at this native village of the Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Even as Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) and the State Health Department authorities have been making concerted efforts to take the medical care to the grass-roots level, the poor nursing and para-medical services which are non-existing in some of the pockets, have become a big hurdle in producing the desired results.

There is a feeling among the authorities concerned that well equipped hospitals and dispensaries are of no use and will not be able to deliver the goods unless these institutions are provided with adequate manpower to operate machines and to conduct various clinical and other investigations.

Though there are a number of private institutions imparting training to para-medical staff and a number of persons have taken diploma certificates in related courses from such institutions after paying exorbitant fee, they are not able to deal with the computerised machines of the hospitals due to the lack of exposure.

Ms Shama Lohumi, Principal, State Institute for Nursing and Para-medical Sciences, said the institute, which was a brainchild of Mr Anurag Aggarwal, MD, PHSC was being run from a portion of the building of the local civil hospital. She added that the institute building equipped with all modern facilities and hostel was coming fast and would be completed by June 2002.

The institute would impart professional education for B.Sc. in nursing, medical laboratory, technician, hearing speech therapy, diploma in electro-cardiography technology, public health and environment technology, O.T., technician, ophthamology, child behaviour and development, bio-informatics and diploma in bio-medical instrumentation. The institute is exclusively for the girls.

She pointed out that the institute, which was being funded by World Bank, would have nutrition, X-ray, and other laboratories. The classrooms would be fitted with audio-visual aids. The institute, which was coming up on a piece of 23 acres of land, will have also a big auditorium.

The institute will also provide training to those employees of hospitals and dispensaries, who carry out laboratory related jobs under its in-service programme.


Students suffer mismanagement
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 20
Students of class 10 and plus two, who are appearing for their practical examination these days at different schools in the city, are a harassed lot due to the mismanagement and seemingly lack of coordination between the authorities of schools and senior officials of the Punjab School Education Board.

Plus two students who came to a private school for taking practical examination in physical education yesterday, kept waiting for the examiner. When the teacher came after a long time students and their wards complained to her about this, she told them it was not a big issue and she could make up for the late arrival. The same situation prevailed in other schools also.

Although no official of the managements of different schools in which practical examination is going on wished to come on record, but they opined that due to the insincerity of higher officials they as well as students had to suffer.

A teacher of a private school said the PSEB should have given the lists of students to schools atleast a month in advance. He further said the schools were not given adequate material for conducting the practical examination.


Awareness camp for entrepreneurs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 20
As many as 80 students of textile technology participated in a two-day entrepreneurial awareness camp conducted by the Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and Development at the Punjab Institute of Textile Technology here today.

Dr Satish Verma, Director of the Centre for Distance Education, GNDU, and Mr A. Haq District Manager, Punjab Financial Corporation, were the guests of honour.

Speaking on the occasion, both stressed on the need to start ventures in view of decreasing opportunities in public and private sectors.

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