Thursday, March 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal offered RS seat to Bhai Ranjit
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 13
Bhai Ranjit Singh, former Jathedar, today revealed that the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) had made last ditch efforts to win over him before the Assembly elections.

Talking to newspersons here, today Bhai Ranjit Singh said the emissaries of Mr Badal had offered that he (Bhai Ranjit Singh) could either get control of the Delhi Gurdwara Management Committee or membership of the Rajya Sabha. He, however, claimed that he had declined the offers on the plea that he could not forge unity as it was an unprincipled offer. He said Mr Badal and leaders of his party were responsible for denigration of Akal Takht and the Sikh maryada (tradition).

Bhai Ranjit Singh said that any move of Panthic unity, initiated by the SAD was unacceptable to the Panthic Morcha as he (Mr Badal) himself had violated the “hukamnama” (edict), pronounced on December 31, 1998. He said this edict was aimed at maintaining truce among the leaders of warring Akali Dals till the celebrations of the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa Panth.

Replying to a question, Bhai Ranjit Singh said the Panthic Morcha had achieved its goal as the ‘sikh sangat’ had toppled the Akali government in the state. It had sent a clear signal to all concerned that there were many people who still stood with the age old traditions of Sikhism.

The former Jathedar also stated that the election manifesto of the Panthic Morcha during the forthcoming general election of the SGPC would be to restore the Sikh traditions. If voted to power, the Panthic Morcha would endeavour to remove the ‘tainted jathedars’ of Takhts. He said it was a matter of great concern that despite inquiries pending against certain Sikh high priests, no action had been taken. He said during the regime of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Sikh traditions were violated with impunity.

To yet another question, Bhai Ranjit Singh said that if he was reinstalled as jathedar of Akal Takht he would summon Mr Badal and the ‘tainted Jathedars’ at Akal Takht for allegedly violating the edicts. He claimed that the edict issued on December 31, 1998, was still relevant and Mr Badal and his supporters could be summoned any time at Akal Takht.

He alleged that the Sikh clergy had maintained a silence on various violations committed during the regime of Mr Badal. Mr Badal had tried to take control over Sikh institutions for vested interests.


Security to jathedars withdrawn
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 13
The Punjab Government has reduced the security to Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, and several Akali and BJP leaders all over the state.

In a fax message sent by the ADG (Security), Punjab, to various district police chiefs, it was stated that the security given to various leaders, including religious personalities, should be withdrawn/reduced immediately.. Apart from the Jathedars, the security to Mr Tarun Chugh and Mr Shavet Malik, both BJP leaders, and Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, a senior Akali leader, stands withdrawn.


Operation clean-up’ in Punjab Advocate-General’s office
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
“Operation clean-up” has begun in the Punjab Advocate-General’s office here. Instructions have been issued to stop the payment of exorbitant fees to special-category advocates. The Home and other government departments have been told not to make any payment in this connection without the prior approval of the authorities concerned.

Government sources said a “mind-boggling” fee was fixed by the previous government for the special-category advocates. It was Rs 1.50 lakh per appearance. Has it been done to favour a select few? Efforts are being made at the appropriate level to find out.

Such high fee is not charged even in the case of the Supreme Court. Normally, top-category advocates charge Rs 33,000 per appearance except on the first appearance when charges for matters like drafting of the case, etc, are included in the fee, according to informed sources.

In fact, the entire fee structure will be redetermined for various categories. For certain categories, the fee rate is woefully low. It will be revised upward. There are reports that certain hand-picked advocates have been charging hefty sums from various government corporations and boards. For instance, one advocate, who was close to the previous government, earlier used to charge only Rs 2,200 per appearance, but all of a sudden he first jacked up his fee to Rs 22,000 per appearance and then to Rs 44,000.

A select few advocates, enjoying the patronage of the previous government, have milked certain government undertakings almost dry. “All such cases are being looked into”, said a senior government functionary.

A large number of appointments have also been made in the AG’s office in the past few months. How did it happen? This is also being looked into. The office has no funds even to meet its small needs, it is learnt.

What is bothering all concerned is the huge number of cases against the state government. Roughly, the figure is around 90,000. In fact, the number of writs is about 65 per cent of the total cases. This means that, by and large, “the executive has not been doing justice to the persons concerned”. Because of this, more and more aggrieved persons have had to knock at the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to seek justice.

“The number of cases against the government can be brought down to one-third by just making the executive (say the bureaucracy) accountable in this connection on the pattern of England”, said a senior government officer. In England, the bureaucrat concerned has to face the music if anyone moves the court against his or her department for not providing justice to the party concerned as per the law of the land. Ironically, in Punjab action has not been taken against certain bureaucrats who were fined by the Punjab and Haryana High Court a number to times for not following the rule book.

Another reason for such a huge number of cases is non-implementation of court judgements properly and uniformally. There are certain judgements which require to be implemented “across the board”. However, government departments and the bureaucrats concerned have been granting the benefits of various judgements only to the petitioners or the parties that win the cases. All others entitled to the benefits have to again file petitions to get these. “We would like to stop this practice and all judgements which require to be implemented across the board will be handled accordingly to save the time of courts and the aggrieved persons,” said a top government source in the legal wing.

The number of Judges in the Punjab and Haryana High Court is only 26 against the sanctioned strength of 40. But as per the existing workload, there is need for 60 Judges, say knowledgeable sources in the state government. A recommendation for the appointment of seven more Judges has been pending for approval with the Union Government for the past one year, it is learnt.


Record summoned in VC’s case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
Taking up a petition filed by Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, seeking the quashing of an attempt to murder case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice to the state of Punjab and other respondents for tomorrow.

Issuing the notices, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, also asked Punjab's Deputy Advocate General to bring the relevant record.

In his petition seeking the quashing of a first information report registered on March 5 at Sadar police station in Patiala under Sections 323, 341, 307, 148, 149, 506 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code on the complaint of Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, the VC contended that he had no grievance against the alleged victim. Moreover, he had nothing to gain from the alleged attack.

His counsel had added that in the FIR it was not specified how the petitioner was involved in the alleged conspiracy. He further added that the injuries suffered by Dr Bhatti were apparently simple and disclosed the commission of an offence under Section 323, IPC, which was non-cognizable in nature.


VC’s bail plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 13
In a day high drama, District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal today heard lawyers for more than one hour and adjourned the case for lunch after which he gave his judgement, rejecting the anticipatory bail application of the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, in a case involving a murderous attack on a university teacher on March 5.

The prosecution said the attack on university teacher, Dr H.S. Bhatti, had taken place in connivance and criminal conspiracy between the VC, the main attacker and a former student leader, Bhupinder Singh Cheema, and other co-accused. It said prior to the attack Cheema and his companions were seen coming out from the residence of the VC. They came in a black Cielo armed with weapons, and attacked Dr Bhatti, injuring him.

The prosecution said two teachers overheard the VC and the co-accused conspiring to attack Mr Bhatti. They said the VC was heard saying that Dr Bhatti was leading the agitation and he should be eliminated.

It said Dr Ahluwalia was already booked in a moral turpitude case registered against him by a student. Even in that case he was not cooperating with the investigating agencies.

Our Correspondent adds: Members of the Joint Action Committee of the university again sat in dharna in front of the VC’s office on Wednesday. Members of the Lawyers for Human Rights, Punjab, PCCTU also participated in the dharna, seeking the ouster of the VC.


Students again at the receiving end
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 13
The future of students pursuing M.Sc (information technology) courses from the various centres affiliated to Punjab Technical University (PTU), received a blow when former chairman and member secretary of the AICTE, Prof R.S. Nirjar, while talking to The Tribune here today stated that the course was not recognised by the AICTE. Mr Nirjar was on a visit to the Rayat Institute of Engineering and Information Technology near Ropar.

It is worth mentioning here that earlier the Chairman of the UGC had also stated that such courses were not recognised by them.

Responding to queries regarding the franchise centres being opened by the PTU, Mr Nirjar, said it was unfortunate that certain institutes were taking undue advantage of the recent Supreme Court judgement, in which it has empowered the universities to start courses on their campus.

The AICTE has approached the Government of India to curtail the activities of such universities.

He further alleged that certain universities were trying to manipulate the laws. They have started the M.Sc and B.Sc courses in information technology, which are otherwise technical courses, but do not fall under the purview of the AICTE or UGC. By starting such courses the universities were misguiding the students and increasing the trend of commercialisation of education.

It was the duty of the state government to check the activities of such institutes because if the present trend continued then the AICTE might be forced to recognise such institutes, he said.

When asked about the steps being taken to regularise the activities of foreign universities in India, he said a resolution had already been moved before the executive committee of the AICTE in this regard. In the resolution it has been proposed that only those foreign universities which have a very high grading in their own countries should be allowed to offer their courses in India.

Even the said universities would have to take permission from the AICTE and have to adopt to the Indian procedure of education before starting the courses here. In addition to that it has also been proposed in the resolution that the fee structure of these universities would also be decided by the AICTE. The resolution is likely to be passed by the AICTE in June, he said.

When asked about the future of the diploma course in pharmacy, Mr Nirjar said the AICTE had handed over the control of the diploma courses to the state government. 


SAD expels 7 Bhogpur leaders
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 13
A decision was taken to boycott Bibi Prabhjot Kaur and expel seven Akali leaders, including SAD’s Bhogpur circle president Dalbir Singh Dhirowal, at a meeting of the unit held under the chairmanship of Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, president of the district unit. Mr Kohar alleged that Bibi Prabhjot Kaur and her family supported the Congress candidate pitted against him at the Lohian constituency.

Mr Kohar alleged that this defeat was caused by the internal strife led by such leaders. Mr Banta Singh Butter, will replace Mr Dhirowal as chief of the SAD’s Bhogpur circle, while Mr Sarbjit Makkar will head the Adampur unit of the SAD. 


Badal’s kin ‘involved’ in land-grab case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 13
A close relative of former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is reportedly involved in a land-grab case.

The property in question is worth lakhs and belongs to the Principal of Khalsa College for Women. It was forcibly occupied allegedly with the help of some armed persons.

Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, has raised this issue in a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh after the aggrieved party failed to get justice despite an FIR. Mr Dang alleged that the FIR was recorded many days after the incident took place. The relevant Sections under the Arms Act were overlooked, he alleged.


Controversy over names on stone

Phagwara, March 13
A fresh political controversy has arisen following the inauguration of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia Municipal Park by newly-elected Congress MLA Joginder Singh Maan in Model Town, here, today.

Interestingly, while the name of Nagar Council president Khariti Lal Gaba is missing on the inauguration stone of the park, the name of Congress councillor Gurbachan Singh Walia is inscribed as vice-president of the council on the stone. Mr Gaba, along with BJP leaders and councillors, have taken exception to that.

Mr Gaba said he was not even invited to the function though he was still president of Nagar Council, Phagwara, till March 19.

Meanwhile, former Nagar Council vice-president Ram Saroop Arora alleged that Mr Walia’s term as vice-president expired on December 9 last year and it was objectionable to inscribe his name on the stone as present vice-president.

Mr Arora said the matter would be taken up at the emergency Nagar Council meeting. UNI


CM “denied siropa” for dyeing beard

Ludhiana, March 13
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was denied a “Siropa” during a visit to the Golden Temple late last month because he violated the Sikh faith by “dyeing his beard”, according to a magazine edited by SGPC General Secretary Kiranjot Kaur.

The SGPC had earlier said it had “discontinued the practice” of presenting “Siropas” — or holy stoles of honour, but an article published in the March issue of the Punjabi monthly “Sant Sipahi” has given a new twist to the “Siropa” controversy in the wake of Chief Minister’s February 27 visit to the Sikh shrine.

The article further said former Union Minister Balwant Singh Ramoowalia had also been denied the holy stole for the same reason when he had accompanied the then Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda to the Golden Temple in 1996.

The journal took exception to the criticism by former SGPC chiefs Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Bibi Jagir Kaur for the SGPC not having honoured Capt Amarinder Singh, a scion of the former Patiala royal house. UNI


Baba returns amid security
Our Correspondent

Doraha, March 13
Baba Darshan Singh, in charge of Dhakki Sahib Gurdwara in Maksoodra, returned after a period for three years amidst tight security today. Although no untoward incident has been reported by the police, the entire area was covered with securitymen.

Baba Darshan Singh has returned following the court order allowing him to visit Dhakki Sahib.

He said the cases against him had been handed over to the CBI and he would abide by its decision. He added that he had been wrongly accused by an Akali minister and an MLA and he expected justice from the Congress government.

Residents of Guru Patti, where the gurdwara stands, however, opposed the return of the Baba, saying that it would endanger the peace and security of the place. But they had to retreat because of tight security.


Controversy over voter lists
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 13
A controversy has erupted over the fact that the authorities concerned have allegedly deleted more names of voters than added during the revision exercise of electoral rolls which was undertaken from 2000 to 2002 for the Assembly segment.

Though the Deputy Commissioner-cum District Election Officer, Mr Babu Lal, while expressing ignorance on the matter, said if he received any complaint from any quarter he would conduct an inquiry into the same.

Mr Sham Lal Goyal, President, National Consumer Awareness Group, Muktsar unit, alleged that during the electoral revision genuine voters were ignored and fake persons registered as voters. In a letter written to the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, Chief Election Commissioner, Chief Electoral Officer, Punjab, and District Electoral Officer, Mr Goyal alleged that proper procedure was not followed during the revision of electoral rolls.


DC distributes free medicines, spectacles
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 13
Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today distributed free medicines, spectacles and fruits to needy persons, who had had their eyes operated at a free eye check up and operation camp organised by the Patiala Welfare Society and other voluntary organisations at the Government Rajindra Hospital here.

Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Commissioner said the Patiala Welfare Society and other voluntary organisations, inlcuding the Lok Chetna Samiti, Ananth Gaushala, Samana and Citizens Welfare Council, Patran were doing yeoman’s service by holding such camps. He gave Rs 55,000 to the organisations and also assured that further camps would also be held to ensure necessary health facilities to the needy.

Civil Surgeon Inderjit Kaur Walia, while speaking on the occasion, said in future eye camps would not be held in the open. She said eye camps had been successful held in the Government Rajindra hospital, as it had the appropriate operation theatres.

The welfare society’s head, Mr Vijay Kumar Goel, while speaking on the occasion, said during the five-day camp, as many as 600 patients had been examined and 40 operations had been conducted.



Wheat procurement in Punjab from April 1
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
The procurement of wheat by the government agencies will start on April 1 in Punjab. This was stated by the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today.

Speaking to mediapersons here, he said all arrangements for the procurement of wheat had been made and officials concerned had been told to ensure that farmers should not face any problem at any level.

The government was expecting wheat production to the tune of 150 lakh tonnes, Mr Lal Singh said .


All set for wheat procurement
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 13
“Government agencies have made elaborate arrangements for wheat procurement in the subdivision and the construction work of grain markets at Lalru and Dera Bassi will be completed before the arrival of crop in markets.

This statement was made by Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, a former Deputy Advocate General of Punjab and general secretary of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee, while addressing a gathering after offering prayers in a temple here today. He was here to attend a havan organised by the Shiv Mandir Committee, Dera Bassi, to mark Mahashivratri.

Mr Dhillon, assured that the Congress government would complete the Dashmeh canal within its five-year rule. He also thanked the people for extending their support to form the Congress in the Assembly elections. He donated a sum of Rs 3,100 for the mandir committee.



Govt seeks loan to fill coffers
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 13
The Badal government during its tenure in the past five years has virtually brought the state to the verge of bankruptcy, with a debt of more than Rs 62000 crore and the income of various departments like the Mandi Board having been mortgaged to certain financial institutions for want of funds.

Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to Chief Minister and MLA from Guruharsahai who was accorded reception at PWD Rest House here by Congress workers, lashed out at the SAD-BJP for the erroneous policies it pursued during its regime. He said the Congress government had sought a soft loan of Rs 3000 crore as the Akalis had left the state coffers empty.

About the procurement of wheat in the coming season, Rana Sodhi said Capt Amarinder Singh had met the Union Food Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, in New Delhi last week who has promised that all wheat produced in the state, would be purchased by the government. As far as storage facilities were concerned, the government had envisaged a plan to develop facilities to store 10 lakh MT of wheat in the coming season.

He said a proposal had been sent to the Ministry of Defence to compensate the residents of the border areas whose fields had been spoiled due to laying of mines by the Army and a grant of Rs 176 crore had been sought from the Defence Minister.


Orders to remove encroachments
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 13
Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, today ordered the local PWD authorities to remove roadside encroachments in the district.

Addressing a meeting of district officials held here today, she said a large number of unauthorised constructions had come up on the roadsides in the district.

The authorities had also been directed to complete development works in the district.


DGP directs SSP to produce record
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 13
The Director-General of Police has directed the district police chief through the secret branch to produce the documents regarding the complaint of Mr Jaswant Sarpal against an IPS officer for implicating him (the complainant) in a ‘fabricated’ case.

Mr Sarpal, in his complaint had alleged that Mr Rajesh Jaiswal, SP (City) had tried to register a ‘fabricated’ case and harassed him on orders of his seniors as he (Mr Sarpal) had been fighting a legal battle against a number of police and senior administrative officers.


S.M. Sharma is IG (Crime)
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 13
The Punjab Government ordered the following postings and transfers in the Police Department today:

Mr J.P. Virdi goes to the PAP, Jalandhar, as Inspector-General of Police. Mr S.M. Sharma becomes IG, Crime. Mr Hardeep Singh Dhillon will be the new DIG, Litigation.


Woman absconds after son’s murder
Our Correspondent

Kathunangal (Amritsar), March 13
In a bizarre incident a 16-year-old boy was allegedly murdered by his mother. The body was then buried in the house courtyard.

The murder came to light after Amarjeet Kaur’s son Swarn Singh, both of Shehzada village, went missing for a couple of day. Apprehending foul play his paternal cousin Jaswant Singh lodged a complaint with the local police yesterday.

The police raided the house of Amarjeet Kaur following the complaint, but she reportedly fled hours before the raid. The police, however, found the soil loose at a particular spot in her house and on digging the kit found the body.

SHO, Kathunangal, when contacted said the possibility of other persons being involved could not be ruled out.


Land dispute leads to murder

Amritsar, March 13
Two persons were allegedly murdered with sharp-edged weapons at Vallaha village under the Sadar police station last night.

A police report here today identified the victims as Baba Sadhu Singh and Dilbagh Singh. The police said the alleged assailants had been identified as Seva Singh, Meva Singh, Shangara Singh and his son Palwinder Singh, all of whom are at large.

The police said a land dispute was the cause of the crime. A criminal case has been registered against the alleged culprits. UNI


Jail inmate commits suicide

Ferozepore, March 13
A prisoner of Central Jail, Jalandhar Singh of Muktsar district, committed suicide in the wee hours of the day by allegedly hanging himself from the ceiling fan of his barrack today.

The Deputy Commissioner S. R. Laddar ordered magisterial inquiry into the incident.

According to jail sources the said prisoner was mentally disturbed after the death of his father and was under treatment. UNI


Punjabi paper cancelled at two centres
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, March 13
The Punjab School Education Board has cancelled the plus II Punjabi (general) paper examination at two centres in Faridkot.

The board’s Controller of Examinations, Mrs Harcharanjit Kaur Brar, said today that the Punjabi paper had been cancelled at two centres on the premises of S.S. Bhai Pheruman Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Faridkot. She said she had visited the centres and found sheets and help books in the pockets of examinees. It appeared certain supervisory staff were also involved. The invigilation staff had been removed and the Education Department would be requested to take appropriate action.

In another case the person in charge of the examination centre at Baba Buddha College at Bir Sahib, Amritsar, had submitted the answersheets of plus II maths paper examination held on March 9 after two days.

According to the board rules, answersheets were to be submitted the day the examination is held.

It is reported that the Principal of Government College, Ropar, had not allowed the examination superintendent to joint duty at the college. The premises of the college was being used by the board authorities as an examination centre. The board had then decided to take total charge of the examinations to be held there with only board staff members being put on duty. An inquiry also had been ordered into the case.

At SSD School, Bathinda, where two examination centres were located, the superintendents were not replaced despite the board’s written orders to this effect sent through a special messenger.

Mrs Brar said in the Bathinda case the District Education Officer was being asked why the orders were not implemented. The superintendents had to be changed later by the Controller.

Mrs Brar, who visited 34 centres in Ferozepore, Faridkot, Bathinda and Muktsar districts on March 9 and 11 in connection with the conduct of the ongoing examinations, said at most centres the examination work was going on according to rules. She said to check malpractices the board had provided scanned photographs of the examinees on the attendance sheet available with the centre. These photographs would be used later on the detail marks card-cum-certificate of the matriculation examination, besides science and commerce students of plus II.


PCCTU urges CM to fulfil poll promise
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 13
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has urged Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister to fulfil his poll promise of continuing 95 per cent grant-in-aid to private colleges of the state and the implementation of the pension and gratuity scheme for the teachers of these colleges.

Prof R.S. Brar, executive committee member and former general secretary of the union, told this reported here last night that at a PCCTU executive committee meeting held recently at D.M. College, Moga, a resolution to this effect was passed.

Professor Brar said in its manifesto, the Congress had promised that if voted to power it would implement the pension and gratuity scheme for the private college teachers.

A lot of resentment prevailed among the teachers against the government in the wake of some reliable information that the Chief Minister would shortly translate into reality the Badal government’s proposal to bring 95 per cent grant-in-aid offered to private college to zero level in a phased manner, as the government was well set to order a 10 per cent cut in the grant-in-aid of the colleges from this year itself, Professor Brar added.

He said the PCCTU had decided to meet Congress MLAs and ministers of the state to request them to impress upon the Chief Minister to honour his pre-poll commitment.

Professor Brar said the government must release Rs 21 crore which it got from the University Grants Commission as arrears for the revision of pay scales of private college teachers with effect from January 1, 1996.


SLIET students hold demonstration
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 13
Students of Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) at Longowal village today staged a demonstration at the SLIET campus protesting against the doctor and Dean, Students’ Welfare, and holding the former responsible for the death of a student who was seriously injured in a road accident and later died on the way to Ludhiana a couple of days ago.

According to sources, the students are demanding the suspension of the doctor and the Dean, Students’ Welfare. The students alleged that the doctor and the Dean had not played a proper role before and after the death of the student.

Senior officials of the institute were not available for comments.

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