Saturday, March 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder hints at harsh measures
Tribune News Service

Makha (Mansa), March 8
Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh announcing that state’s interests would be protected at all costs said here today that newly-appointed Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh had started consulting senior counsels in Delhi in connection with working out various legal strategies to be adopted in the Supreme Court in connection with the SYL issue.

Disclosing that eradication of corruption and revival of economy of Punjab was top priority of the Punjab Government at a press conference here held after the bhog ceremony of former Minister, Kirpal Singh Makha, he said that would not be allowed on the SYL issue and efforts would be made to protect the fair share of river water of Punjab.

The Chief Minister hinted at some harsh steps to revive the economy of Punjab, which had been ruined by the previous SAD-BJP government. He, however, refused to elaborate the steps but added that no undue burden would be put on any section of society. If the harsh steps were not taken, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) would cease production of electricity.

The Budget would be presented in May or June and for running the economic affairs of the state till then, the arrangement would be made through vote on account which would be carried out in the first session of Punjab Vidhan Sabha to be started from March 20.

The Chief Minister said that vested interests were raising doubts that the Punjab Government would not be able to procure the wheat crop which was totally baseless and motivated. He added that Centre government had been cooperating with Punjab Government and the Union Minister of Food had assured him that minimum support price of wheat would be announced in a day or so after consultation with the Agriculture Ministry.

All arrangements for procuring 120 lakh MT wheat in the state without any problem or hassle had been made and farmers should not worry about anything and nor they should believe in any misinformation campaign launched by the vested interests.

He pointed out that today evening, he would meet the Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes, in connection with proper share in the recruitment of residents of Punjab into Army, compensation to farmers of border areas whose crops worth Rs 176 crore had been damaged due to the deployment of Army, compensation for those who had been rendered handicapped due to mine blasts laid into the border areas and compensation for those whose trucks carrying arms and ammunition to various locations had been destroyed in the fire incident that took place near Bikaner.

The Chief Minister pointed out that a high-level inquiry would be instituted to unveil the conspiracy behind the deletion of names of voters in large number from the voters’ lists in various Assembly segments and an action would be taken as per the inquiry report.

When asked what would be the stand of Congress leadership in connection with the Malout Assembly election which would be held on April 4, he said that a three-member committee including Food and Supply Minister, Mr Lal Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Jagjit Singh and Chairman, Economic Revival Committee, Mr Surinder Singla had been constituted to take a decision in the same connection. To another question, he said that the Congress and the CPI was having an electoral alliance and there was no commitment to induct CPI MLAs into the Cabinet.

When asked what would be done to those rebel Akali candidates, who had become MLAs and now wanted to join the Congress, he said that every case would be considered on its own merits and added that those rebel Congress candidates, who had also become MLAs, would not be taken back into party as they had been expelled for six years.

Mr Amarinder Singh said that first project of any kind which the state government would set up in Mansa district shortly would be in the name of Kirpal Singh Makha, former Congress Minister, who died during his swearing-in-ceremony function in the Raj Bhawan at Chandigarh on February 27.

In his speech made on the occasion of bhog ceremony of Kirpal Singh Makha held here in the local school, Mr Amarinder Singh said that late Makha was a loyal party man and such people were hard to find in today’s world, which had been occupied by the selfish people. The Punjab Government would make all efforts to recognise late Makha’s services so that people could come to know that loyalty mattered most in the political parties.

Mr Bhan Singh Bhora, MP, said that he would give Rs two lakh to the village panchayat to set up a memorial to late Makha and added that he would arrange more funds for the same if the need arose.

Those who attended the bhog ceremony included Mr Lall Singh, Food and Supply Minister, Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, Economic Revival Committee, Mr Balwinder Bhunder, MLA, Mr Jasbir Singh and Mr Surinder Kapur (former Punjab ministers), and Mr Harinder Singh Jaurkian, Mr Sewak Ram Bhola (senior Congress leaders) and Mr Jagdish Nehra, former Haryana minister.


Radical financial reforms on cards
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
From the presentation on the financial situation to the Council of ministers on Wednesday, it is apparent Punjab faces “total bankruptcy”. Its economic bubble has popped. The devastating truth is out not just in terms of facts and figures but even in the political context.

While seeking quick corrective measures, the Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr K R Lakhanpal, sounded the ministers that the kind of reprieve, howsoever temporary, the previous government got from New Delhi was unlikely now in the changed political scenario. His warning bell was loud and clear —future is probably not going to be bright.

Broad contours of the “radical reforms” suggested in the presentation to the Council are discussed in the following paragraphs. These are likely to form the “agenda” of the Cabinet sub-committee on fiscal management. Because at the end of the meeting, sources told TNS, there was near unanimity on the suggested steps.

Though widely politicised, the issue of “free” power to tube- wells and “free” canal water will definitely get a second-look. This facility may even be withdrawn. Punjab will fall in line with the national norms of levying suitable charges.

Imposition of adequate “user charges” is expected on the socio-economic services provided by the state, at least to the extent of that operation and maintenance costs are met. This may include hike in certain fees as well as bus fares, last revised in 1999. Privatisation of state transport is another suggestion as is plugging revenue leakages under motor vehicle registration. That alone can generate Rs 400 crore. The leakages are equally serious in the engineering departments.

Another suggestion is to drastically cut-down on “committed” expenditure, salaries and pensions, in the medium and long term. One way out is to ‘freeze’ all fresh recruitments as well as new perks and facilities (allowances) to employees, across the board. Austerity in expenditure (security, furnishings, vehicles, petrol, oil, lubricants, telephones etc.) must begin at the top — ministers and bureaucrats. A fresh review of vehicles with various departments, particularly the police, is already under way.

“Dis-investment” axe will fall on the public sector undertakings, which neither return 4 per cent equity nor earn profits, for that is the only way out to release the locked-up money in the loss-making PSUs. Full revenue realisation is not forthcoming from even registration fee due to evasion of stamp duty. If checked, it can fetch Rs 500 crore.

Punjab has to reschedule debt repayments with NDA and opt for low-cost debts. Proper administration of excise and taxation department can fetch minimum of Rs 4,000 crore by way of sales tax and Rs 1,500 crore from excise, in the next financial year.

So “grim” is the situation, the finance department has given just 15 days to the administrative departments to act enabling the Sub-committee take effective decisions, even if unpopular.

The state has already received what is due from the Centre. The option to beg or borrow more is almost closed.


Bhattal still wants to be Chief Minister
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 8
“I was a Chief Minister and I still desire to be. I had never asked the Congress high command to bestow upon me any other post, including the post of the state President of the party or the Deputy Chief Minister. However, being a disciplined worker of the party, I have joined as a minister as per the wishes of the party high command’, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, former Chief Minister and now Rural Development, Agriculture and Panchayat Minister, Punjab, said this while talking to newspersons at Government College, Ropar, today.

She was responding to queries regarding her reported annoyance at the degradation of her status from a Chief Minister to a minister.

Ms Bhattal was at Ropar today to preside over a state-level function organised by the Social Security, Women and Child Welfare Department to mark the International Women’s Day.

She said the biggest challenge before the Congress government in the state was to clean up the “financial mess” created by the previous government. All Congressmen would have to work jointly to win public support for the measures the government might have to take to put the state back on the rails. She, however, declined to articulate the kind of measures the state government was contemplating in view of the tight fiscal position.

The open statement regarding her desire to be the Chief Minister, however, kept all elected representatives of the Congress from the district away from the function presided over by Ms Bhattal. Sources here said newly elected Congress MLAs did not attend today’s function to express their loyalty to Capt Amarinder Singh.

Earlier, addressing women present at the function, she criticised the Union Government for failing to pass the Bill for 33 per cent reservation to women in Parliament. The ruling NDA government had deliberately played down the Bill. Compared to other parties, the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, had given maximum representation to women in the recent elections held in four states, she said.

She said even if the Centre failed to pass the Bill, the Congress government would try to implement it in the state during the elections to the local bodies and panchayats. Besides, though many laws had been formed to protect the rights of women in our society, yet they had not been implemented in the right spirit. The government would work for the strict implementation of laws to prevent exploitation of women, she added.

Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, while speaking on the occasion, stressed the need for converting the rhetoric regarding the upliftment of women into reality.

Various government departments also organised an exhibition displaying various household articles made by various local women organisations.

Mr J.R. Kundal, Secreary, Social Security, Mr Ramesh Goel, secretary, PPCC and Mr Harminder Saini, district president of the Congress, were among others present on the occasion.


Ex-Major-Gen ‘humiliated’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The Chairman-cum-Managing Director of the Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation, Major-Gen U.S. Sidhu, never expected that the Punjab Government, in which three former defence officers occupy top positions, would remove him from office in a humiliating manner.

On March 5, three senior officers of the state government entered his office in Sector 34 here shortly before the closure of the office for the day. One of the officers occupied his chair. General Sidhu was away in the Punjab Civil Secretariat. As he got the message on the phone, he rushed back. He was told to leave the office as his tenure was over.

“I was shocked to see such discourteous behaviour” on the part of the officers concerned”, he said. Virtually in tears, General Sidhu said: “I would have quit immediately if the government had told me to do so, just conveying the message in a decent manner”. There was no need for the officers to behave in such a way.”

General Sidhu joined the corporation as its CMD on March 7, 1998. His extension for two years was approved by the Badal government well before the commencement of the Assembly election process and was cleared by the Chief Electoral Officer. He got the extension order from the government on February 22 this year.

General Sidhu claimed that the net profit of the small corporation during the past two years was Rs 2.5 crore while almost all major corporations incurred losses totalling several thousand crores.

Besides, the corporation had also done an excellent job of bullet-proofing government vehicles used by VIPs not only in Punjab but also in other states. General Sidhu said that during his tenure he managed to get jobs for 3,400 ex-servicemen as security guards in thermal plants, and government and semi-government organisations. The number was only 600 before his joining the corporation, he added.

General Sidhu said the corporation did not get any grant from the state government in the past five years for its business activity. In other corporations, it had to pump in a lot of money to pay wages and salaries.

“The government should have examined my work and performance critically before removing me in an insulting manner,” he said. “As I have served the Army for a long time as a disciplined soldier, I would not have stayed in office even for a second against the wishes of the government. But the way I have been treated has been hurtful.”

General Sidhu was not served with a notice to quit.


SGPC budget session on March 30
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 8
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has decided to call its annual budget session on March 30, in the wake of the debacle of the Shiromani Akali Dal in the Assembly elections, the general house session is likely to be stormy. Members belonging to the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal have already expressed concern over the probability of deficit education budget in the forthcoming session.

In yet another significant development, the SGPC has relaxed the conditions for visiting Pakistan. Earlier, as per rules, no devotee could revisit Pakistan before five years of his previous pilgrimage. Now devotees can visit every year to pay their obeisance at Sikh shrines in Pakistan. The relaxation has been done to check certain unauthorised organisations who arrange pilgrimage without any pre-condition.

Talking to TNS, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC, said the committee had already got verbal permission from Pakistan to send jathas from April 10.

The SGPC had sent reminder to the Government of India soliciting clearance for sending jathas. He, however, said the SGPC would have to adopt “wait and watch” policy in wake of volatile situation in Ayodhya, “We are concerned about the safety of pilgrims” he said.

Meanwhile, the SGPC president, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, has alleged that revenue officials were trying to enrol bogus voters for the forthcoming SGPC elections.

He said the SGPC could not tolerate “back entry” of voters and the direct interference of government in Sikhs affairs.

In a letter to the state government, Prof Badungar alleged that a large number of “non-Sikhs” had already been enrolled as SGPC voters under a deep-rooted conspiracy.

He asked state government officials to stop the illegal enrolment of bogus voters.


Academicians want non-partisan VC
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 8
Former Vice-Chancellors and eminent academicians feel the recent happenings in Punjabi University have left a black mark on the university and hold Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia responsible for the same.

Besides expressing surprise at the manner in which university bodies as well as the administration have been silent spectators to the entire episode, all demanded that a non-partisan Vice-Chancellor from outside the region be appointed and Dr Ahluwalia replaced.

Vice-Chancellor Ahluwalia has been in the thick of controversy since the past two years. Now he has been charged with moral turpitude with a girl-student getting a case registered against him. He has also been accused of conspiring to attack a university teacher who was participating in a dharna organised to demand his ouster.

Speaking to The Tribune, a crosssection of intellectuals felt the university had reached its nadir under the leadership of Dr Ahluwalia. Former Vice-Chancellor Gursewak Singh said the manner in which the situation had been allowed to brew proved Ahluwalia had “deliberately slept over the matter’’.

Dr Gursewak Singh said degeneration had set off in the university shortly after Dr Ahluwalia took over. He said this had vitiated the campus atmosphere.

The former Vice-Chancellor said he felt a time had come when a system should be introduced in universities whereby members of the faculty as well as the Vice-Chancellors could be transferred. He said such a move would act as a deterrent for Vice-Chancellors as well as the teachers to indulging in group politics.

Former Linguistics Minorities Commission Chairman Dr Harbhajan Singh Deol, who has also served in the university as Head of the National Integration Chair, said the present imbroglio had given a deathblow to the credibility of education. He said it was surprising that the university bodies like the Senate and the Syndicate were silent spectators to the happenings.

Former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr H K Manmohan Singh advocated that an outsider be appointed the Vice-Chancellor to end polarisation in the faculty. He said a search committee should be constituted for this purpose.

It could be headed by eminent persons, including Congress leader Manmohan Singh or former Chief Election Commissioner M S Gill or even a retired judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court.

Academician and former head of the Department of Correspondence Studies, Dr M P Kohli, said people had lost confidence in the university authorities.


ABVP strike for VC’s ouster today

Patiala, March 8
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) today gave a call for strike tomorrow in 73 colleges affiliated to Punjabi University to press for the removal of Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, who has been booked in two cases of molestation and attempt to murder.

Meanwhile, the Joint Action Committee(JAC) of Teachers and Students have decided to hold a dharna in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office at the university campus on March 11. JAC spokesman U.C. Singh said the dharna would continue for two weeks to force out Dr Ahluwalia.

It is learnt that the Student of the Department of Fine Arts on whose complaint the police had registered a case of molestation against Dr Ahluwalia has recorded her statement before a local magistrate. But the student today denied having done so.

Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh had stated that the police had completed investigation against the Vice-Chancellor and the report was pending evaluation with the Education Secretary.

The JAC has sent memorandum to the Chief Minister, Minister for Higher Education and Punjab Governor, who is the university chancellor, demanded the removal of Dr Ahluwalia. UNI


VC’s hold over Sikh foundation questioned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 8
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, who is already in the thick of a controversy following the registration of cases against him, yesterday came under attack for the manner in which he has “manipulated” lifelong presidentship of the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation for himself.

A study team of the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) comprising Dr Harbhajan Singh Deol, Dr P.S. Jammu and Dr Nirbahi Singh, besides FEAR President Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said Dr Ahluwalia has managed to appropriate lifelong presidentship of the foundation making a democratic body a monopoly of one person who was controlling property worth crores of rupees and managing its affairs in connivance with a few of his close friends.

The study team said it had also learnt that Dr Ahluwalia had removed and broken the photographs of some of the previous presidents of the foundation like those of state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, which were hanging in the office of the foundation.

The forum team appealed to Capt Amarinder Singh to immediately order a thorough probe as to how Dr Ahluwalia had manipulated monopoly over the foundation and made it an “anti theses of the Guru’s preachings”. It also appealed for democratisation of the foundation so that the younger generation could also participate in its activities.

The team said earlier after the death of former Maharaja Yadavindra Singh the doors of the foundation were closed to new members in 1974. It said earlier a widely represented convention was called in 1965 by Maharaja Yadavindra Singh to establish a permanent body to plan and carry out a countrywide programme to spread the message in connection with the 300th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

It said according to the rules of the foundation the term of the president was to be three years from the date of his election. It said this tradition continued for around 20 years with personalities like Maharaja Yadavindra Singh, Ujjal Singh, Justice Gurdev Singh, Capt Amarinder Singh, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Giani Lal Singh and Jasdev Singh Jassowal holding the position of president of the foundation. It said unfortunately in the nineties, the foundation was made a one-man show by Dr Ahluwalia, which should be rectified at the earliest.


Badal’s wife to head SAD campaign

Moga, March 8
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has appointed Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of former Chief Minister and party president Parkash Singh Badal, as in charge of the election campaign for Malout (reserve) constituency.

Two other former Punjab ministers, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg and Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, will assist Mrs Badal in campaigning, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal said at Malout today.

Mr Badal has already named Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, widow of former minister Sujan Singh, as party candidate for the Malout Assembly election which was put off by the election commission following the death of SAD candidate Sujan Singh On January 25.

The Election Commission will issue a notification on March 11. The last date for filing of nominations will be March 18 while the scrutiny of nominations will be done on March 19 and the last date of withdrawal will be March 21.

Mrs Badal, Mr Garg and Mr Sekhon today addressed four meetings in the town of Malout and claimed that the SAD would win the seat with a comfortable majority. UNI


Panthic Morcha not dead: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
The SAD(A) supremo, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, today held Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Ravi Inder Singh responsible for the debacle faced by the Panthic Morcha in the recent elections to the Punjab Assembly.

In an interview here with TNS, Mr Mann said the Panthic Morcha had received “tremendous response” from the people of the state soon after it came into being in December last year. The massive rally held in Ludhiana in December gave the morcha the mandate to try to emerge as a third force on the political horizon of Punjab as an alternative to the SAD and the Congress. It was with this end in view that the morcha decided to put up its nominees on as many seats as possible.

“But the secret talks pursued by the former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, with Mr Parkash Singh Badal on the one hand and by the former Punjab Assembly Speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, with the BSP supremo, Mr Kanshi Ram, on the other, spoilt it all. The talks for so-called unity sent a very wrong signal. It damaged the Panthic Morcha seriously. People felt that the morcha was not a serious and credible alternative to either the SAD led by Mr Badal or the Congress. This was the main reason for the poor performance of the morcha in the elections”, he said.

Mr Mann emphasised that ensuring the defeat of the SAD led by Mr Badal in the elections was not the main objective of the morcha as was being propagated by Mr Tohra. “Our main objective was that we should win the elections by trouncing both the SAD and the Congress and emerge as a viable alternative equidistant from both”.

He also said that there would not be much difference between the administration to be provided by the Congress and that given to the state by the Badal regime. “There is not much difference between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Both are equally corrupt. Look at the kind of tainted politicians and officers Capt Amarinder Singh has inducted into key positions of his administration. Look at his so-called political advisers. How can you expect a clean administration from him?”

The SAD(A) chief said that the Panthic Morcha was not finished. It would continue to function as a political entity under the leadership of the Sant Samaj chief, Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi. Although the morcha candidates had not performed so well in the elections, the morcha had still been able to retain its poll symbol of “cart”(gadda) because of the high number of votes polled by its candidates. He also said that Baba Bedi, who had gone to the South for a medical check-up, would return soon to resume the activities of the morcha.

He was also critical of the new government’s move to file a review petition in the Supreme Court on the issue of the SYL canal. “How many review petitions can you file on the same issue? A review petition has never succeeded in the past. The best way to settle the SYL issue is to launch an agitation and fill up the canal if and when it is fully dug. This is just what my party will do”, he said.

Mann may write to UN on Ayodhya
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 8
Disillusioned with the BJP-led NDA government, the Akali Dal (Amritsar) headed by Lok Sabha MP Simranjit Singh Mann plans to submit a memorandum to the UN on the controversial issue of construction of Ram Temple.

The party is in the process of mobilising leaders of the minority communities from Ludhiana, Sirhind and Malerkotla to participate in an Ayodhya-bound peace march from Gurdwara Rakabganj on Sunday.

Mr Mann told TNS after a media conference here today that about 1,000 leaders belonging to the minority communities were expected to join the peace march to kindle the secular consciousness of the masses.

Mr Mann said the memorandum would draw the attention of the UN to the need to use the constitutional provisions to place Ayodhya under the President’s rule. “We do not advocate that temple be built on the disputed territory,” he added.


Inexperience’ went against women MLAs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
Four of the five women MLAs of the Punjab Congress could not get a berth in the Amarinder Singh ministry due to lack of experience.

This was stated here today at a Chandigarh Territorial Mahila Congress (CTMC) function to celebrate the 27th International Women’s Day by the lone woman in the ministry, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. “Other women MLAs could not get a berth in the ministry as they were first-timers, which went against new male MLA also,” she said.

The Rural Development Minister urged women to neither tolerate injustice nor become party to injustice done to anybody.

The Punjab Minister criticised Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for failing to provide 33 per cent reservation for women. She said the Congress President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, was committed to provide reservation for women.

The city Mayor, Ms Lalit Joshi, urged women to fight against injustice and strive for equality and empowerment.

Ms Joshi said an enlightened, independent and educated woman could make her child aware of the country’s great culture and traditions, besides giving them qualities she herself possessed.

The function was attended, among others, by Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee president B.B. Bahl, councillors Sohan Lal Vaid, Shyama Negi, Chander Mukhi Sharma, Deputy Mayor, Mr Balraj Singh and Kuldeep Singh.


Bathinda lawyers join Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
A group of lawyers from Bathinda, led by Mr Jatinder R. Khattar, a former President, District Bar Association, today formally joined the Congress in the presence of the Punjab Rural Development and Agriculture Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Talking to newsmen at the residence of Mrs Bhattal, the lawyers said that keeping in view the good leadership provided by Mrs Bhattal and the sacrifices made by her family during the freedom struggle and subsequently for getting Punjab its due had prompted them to join the Congress under her leadership.

Among those present were Mr Surjit Singh Sohi, a former president of the District Young Lawyers Association, and Mr Sukhdarshan Sharma, a former general secretary of the District Bar Association.


A mobile dispensary for poor
Varinder Singh

Tribune News Service

The governments might have failed to extend healthcare facilities in the country but a bank and a charitable hospital have joined hands to show the way by striving to reach people in remote areas of Punjab with free medical and diagnostic facilities through a unique mobile dispensary.

The mobile dispensary, first of its kind in Punjab and a brainchild of officials of Punjab National Bank and the local SGL Charitable Trust, will cover remote and inaccessible areas to provide succour to the poor in the form of medical experts, medicines and laboratory comprising diagnostic facilities like portable X-ray and scanning machines. While the bank has donated the dispensary van, the trust will fund medicines and other facilities. The dispensary will function round the clock and will be just a phone call away for the poor, particularly those living in remote areas. The facilities will be provided free of cost.

Enlisting the working and features of the dispensary, Baba Kashmira Singh, Chairman of the trust, said after informing sarpanches it would remain stationed in villages for a day. Needy patients would be treated on the spot.

The keys of the van were handed over to Baba Kashmira Singh by Mr Vijay Chopra, Editor of Punjab Kesri Group of Newspapers.

When I shared the idea for such a mobile dispensary with the bank management, particularly its General Manager P.N. Khurana, it agreed to extend financial aid for the purpose,” Baba Kashmira Singh said.

Mr Khurana said the bank was going to play an important role in society by aiding such projects. “Another such project envisaged by the bank was the setting up of tractor training institutes to help unemployed youth in the rural areas. We have already initiated talks with the Punjab Government,” he said.

Baba Kashmira Singh said he had sent an offer to the bank that the SGL Trust would provide an acre to the bank for the purpose. The trust would also offer dialysis facilities free of cost.


Punjab told to pay 1 lakh to kin of two
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 8
In just over 10 years after two Amritsar district residents allegedly picked up by the police disappeared, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered the state of Punjab to pay an interim compensation of Rs 1 lakh each to their kins within six months of receiving the order’s copy.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Justice Goel also directed that a copy of the report of Gurdaspur’s Chief Judicial Magistrate — recommending the registration of a murder case against a Senior Superintendent of Police and another official — should be sent to Punjab’s Additional Director General of Police (Crime) for carrying out the “investigation into the death of Jasbir Singh and Jagjit Singh”.

In his petition seeking probe by an independent agency, victim Jasbir Singh’s father Rajinder Singh of Kashtiwal village had earlier alleged that a police party headed by an Assistant Sub Inspector had picked up his son, along with Jagjit Singh, before taking them to an unknown destination. Expressing apprehension regarding their elimination in a fake encounter, the petitioner’s counsel had added that representations were sent to the Home Secretary, the Director-General of Police and other authorities but their whereabouts were still unknown.

Recommending the registration of a case under Sections 302 and 201 of the Indian Penal Code, the CJM, in his report, had added that the evidence on record was sufficient to establish that on May 30, 1991, the two were brought from their village in connection with a case. After going through the record and hearing the arguments in the case, Mr Justice Goel ordered: “In view of the CJM’s report, father of Jasbir Singh and heir of Jagjit Singh will be awarded interim compensation of Rs 1 lakh each by the state of Punjab within six months”.


Empowerment of women must, say speakers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 8
Concerned at declining number of females, female foeticide and atrocities on women, the speakers, at a seminar on International Women’s Day that concluded here today, highlighted society’s role to check these social evils.

Seminars were held at various places in the region on women’s rights, women labourers had nothing to celebrate about and stuck to routine of earning livelihood to keep home fire burning.

Speaking at the seminar, Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, ADC said that empowerment of the women and economic independence would help fight social evils against women. He said that Punjab had the lowest number of the females vs males with new law prohibiting sex determination test female foeticide would decline. Stressing the need of education for girls and awareness about the legal rights, Mr Kharbanda said that such seminars should be held in rural areas also and NGOs should participate in the same. .

Mrs Raj Gupta and Mrs Usha Sharma, college coordinators of the seminar said that atrocities on women were not confined to India alone.

Dr Pragati Grover and Dr H.K. Nagpal delivered lectures on health and hygiene, pregnancy and childcare, AIDS and sex education and other related topics. Mrs Parmjit Devta, social worker, spoke at length on the free legal services available to women. College students, invitees, homemakers, working women and other prominent residents of the city, attended the programme.


Umeed’ celebrates Women’s Day
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 8
Local non-government organisation (NGO) “Umeed” under the leadership of its chairman and MLA from Sangrur, Mr Arvind Khanna, today celebrated Women’s Day. Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, presided over the function.
On this occasion, a grant of Rs 4.50 lakh was given by “Umeed” to its women wings in various villages of the district. 

‘Check foeticide with firm hand’

Patiala, March 8
Dr Sawraj Singh, an NRI surgeon, while donating a sum of Rs 5,100 to the inmates of Dr Khushdeva Singh leprosy patients colony pleaded for a change in public attitude towards girl child and a check on female foeticide in Punjab.

Dr Sawraj was presiding over a valedictory function organised by the National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) Patiala, to mark the completion of statewide theatre campaign through Punjabi play ‘Daire’.

Dr Sawraj lauded the efforts of Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal for preparing value-based plays to promote theatre movement.



Get encroachments removed, MC chief told

Gurdaspur, March 8
Justice J.S. Narang, who was here on Wednesday in connection with the annual inspection of courts directed the president of the municipal committee, here Mr Rakesh Jyoti, to remove encroachments within a month.

He also impressed upon him to improve the environment of the city and streamline civic amenities like sewerage and water supply.

He said that he would come here after one month to ensure that the said works were completed by the municipal committee.

Mr Jyoti said he was keen to remove the encroachments and soon after taking over as president about three years ago launched a campaign in the town to clear the encroachments. He resented the police and district administration had not cooperated.

Mr Jyoti promised to remove the encroachments provided he got cooperation from the police and district administration. The judge on the spot directed the police and district administration to cooperate with the municipal authorities and provide proper security to remove encroachments from the town.

Regarding environmental improvement in the town Mr Jyoti promised to plant 1000 trees within a month. He also assured the judge that a comprehensive master plan would be made to develop Nehru Park and Jhulna Mahal Park in the town. He added that the Fish Park and Guru Nanak Park had been recently developed and would be maintained accordingly.


Kanwaljit alleges land grab by Cong workers
Our Correspondent

Amloh, March 8
The SAD General Secretary and former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh yesterday served a 72-hour ultimatum to the state government and administration to take action against those Congressmen who are alleged to have ploughed 9.5 acre of standing wheat crop to grab the village common land leased to three Akali workers of Salana village, after the declaration of Assembly results in favour of the Congress candidate from Amloh (Reserve) constituency. The Panchayat land was taken on lease by Amar Singh nambardar, Sher Singh and Bhagwant Singh in June last year for a term of one year.

He said Mr Shingara Singh, President, Block Congress, Amloh, along with his supporters were threatening the aggrieved farmers. The former minister along with the village panchayat and Akali workers visited the site and criticised the Congress party which had promised to provide clean administration and justice to the people before the elections. The former minister alleged that all this had been done on the behest of the local Congress MLA.

The administration had not taken appropriate action against those involved in the case. He had informed the DIG and other officers concerned on the telephone and demanded immediate action. He told mediapersons that he would take up the matter on the floor of the House.

On the other hand Mr Shingara Singh Salana, Block President of the Congress, said in a press conference last night that they had not down any thing illegal and he presented a photocopy of the decision of the court of Mr K.S. Cheema, Additional Civil Judge, Amloh, in which the court had restrained the defendant gram panchayat from lifting earth from the said land by way of auctioning except in due course of law. Mr Shingara Singh further alleged that the Captain has failed to muster support from the electorate in the Amloh (Reserve) constituency for SAD candidate and was making false allegations against the Congress.


Tributes paid to scribe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 8
Tributes were paid today to Amarjit Singh Sidhu (45), Staff Correspondent, Punjabi Tribune, during the bhog ceremony at his native village, Sidhwan Dona in Kapurthala district.

Addressing a gathering at Gurdwara Ber Sahib, Mr Harbhajan Singh Halwarvi, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, said Sidhu was a saintly figure who had worked for the organisation with dedication.

Paying tributes to the departed soul, Mr Jagtar Singh Sidhu, president of the Chandigarh Press Club, said Amarjit Sidhu was a symbol of humility and decency. He assured full co-operation to the bereaved family.

Mr Harish Vasisht, who represented The Tribune Employees Union, said the untimely death of Sidhu had left void in the field of Punjabi journalism.

Mr Varinder Singh, Staff Correspondent of The Tribune, paid tributes to the departed soul on behalf of Mr Hari Jai Singh, Editor-in-Chief, The Tribune.

Among others who paid tributes were former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Major Singh, Prof Niranjan Singh Dhesi and former Transport Minister Raghbir Singh.


Incentives sought for families with girls only
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 8
On the occasion of the International Women’s Day, the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) today urged the Punjab Government to declare special incentives for families which only have female children and that too less than two. It said the incentives should include free education at all levels and reservation in jobs for the girls.

In a press note issued here, Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Surinder Singla, president and general secretary, respectively, of the PCMSA, urged the government to direct the district health authorities to strictly implement the Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act, 1994, and the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act, 1971. They also appealed to government and private doctors to fight against the practice of female foeticide and crime against women. They urged the doctors to take a pledge not to conduct sex-determination tests.

They said the government and the people should play an active role in checking the alarming disparity in the sex ratio in Punjab which had 793 females against 1000 males. They said seven districts in the state — Patiala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Kapurthala, Bathinda, Amritsar and Ropar had the lowest sex ratio at the national level.


Rail track to be electrified by September
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 8
The first phase of electrification of the Ludhiana-Amritsar rail-track would be completed by September, said Assistant Railway Commercial Manager Hari Narain while inaugurating a computerised rail reservation centre at the railway station, here today.

Mr Narain said that self-printing ticket machines were being set up at the Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Jammu, and Ferozepore railway stations.

He said the Railways had planned to expand the Beas-Goindwal rail section up till the Tarn Taran area. He said after declaring Jammu, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Ludhiana, Amritsar and Ferozepore as model stations, the Railways would now beautify the Phagwara railway station, besides expanding its platform.


DC’s role in theatre campaign lauded
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 8
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) Patiala, which completed the state-wide women empowerment theatre campaign of its anti-female foeticide Punjabi play “Daire” by covering all the 17 districts of Punjab, expressed its gratitude to the Patiala Deputy Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, and his wife, Mrs Ravinder Kaur Bir, for their laudable contribution in making the state wide theatre campaign a grand success.

NTAS foreign coordinator Dr Sawraj Singh, Mr G.S. Kakkar, President NTAS, theatre couple Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal, NTAS personalities and artists, lauded the contribution of Mrs and Mr Bir towards the development and welfare of Patiala, arts, sports and humanity and especially for bringing Patiala on the national map of progress. They said the Baradari Gardens Theatre Movement would continue to flourish according to their “aspirations and wishes”.


Headmaster beaten to death
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 8
Narinder Singh, a Head Master Government Primary School Bhullar village, was allegedly beaten to death by certain persons here yesterday.

According to reports Narinder Singh allegedly had illicit relations with a woman who lived near the school. The accused were reportedly the in -laws of the woman.

Narinder Singh, who was going to school yesterday was laid by Joginder Singh, Mahinder Singh, Sacatar Singh, Dilbagh Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, all residents of Bhullar village. They took him to their house and beat him up with iron rods and bamboo sticks. Narinder Singh, who was critically injured in the incident, later died on his way to hospital. A case has been registered.


Two killed, nine hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, March 8
Two women were killed and nine injured in an accident near Abohar last evening.

According to details available, a truck (PB05-3197) hit standing tractor-trailer on the Abohar-Sito Gunno road. Two women and nine others were injured. They were rushed to the Civil Hospital, Abohar, but Mombhai and Bakhobhai succumbed to injuries in the hospital.

Among the injured are Ramesh Singh, Suba Singh, Mindo, Santo, Sher Singh, Gurtej Singh, Mangal Singh, Mindo and Mayabhai.

All belong to the border village of Bakain. They were returning from Budhlada in Mansa after attending the funeral of a relative. The driver of the truck fled. The police has registered a case against him.


Fake currency seized
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 8
The local police claims to have busted a gang involved in fake currency and recovered fake currency worth Rs 3 lakh of Rs 1000 denomination.

According information available, the police had laid a special naka near the Samrala Road from where it caught Balwainder Singh and Narinder Walia. The duo who were in a car , had been active for the past few days.

It is learnt that the police had been following the trail for the past few months. It had also been receiving complaints from the banks about their nefarious activities.

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