Saturday, March 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Malout: acid test for Congress
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
Accepting the election for the Malout assembly seat as its first acid test after assuming power in Punjab, the Congress is mobilising all factions within the Pradesh Congress Committee for the success of the party-supported CPI candidate in the April 4 poll.

As part of an action plan, the party high command has asked Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP from Muktsar, to cooperate fully with the Chief Minister-cum-PPCC chief, Capt Amarinder Singh, in Malout.

The AICC also wants that all former PPCC chiefs, including Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, Mr Varinder Kataria and Mr Mohinder Singh Gill, should campaign for the CPI candidate.

“It is a prestigious seat for me,” said Mr Brar after he met Capt Amarinder Singh at Punjab Bhavan here this afternoon, maintaining that his father, Mr Gurmeet Singh, “had contested five consecutive assembly elections from Malout before the seat was declared reserved.”

Since it was for the first time that he was meeting Capt Amarinder Singh after the latter’s election as CLP leader on February 26, Mr Brar congratulated him and presented a bouquet. The meeting lasted about 15 minutes.

Mr Brar, who has been mostly staying away from Punjab after the assembly elections, maintains that he will stay put in Malout till the polling is over on April 4. “He is flying to Malout with me tomorrow,” said Capt Amarinder Singh. A joint meeting of workers of the CPI and the Congress has been convened there tomorrow. The Congress-supported CPI candidate faces Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, widow of Mr Sujan Singh, a former Punjab Minister, whose death had led to the postponement of the election. Mr Baldev Singh Ballamgarh, who had won from there as a U-CPI candidate and was the NCP candidate this time, has decided to withdraw from the contest and join the Congress.

Mr Brar said that the Congress candidates in three assembly seats — Muktsar, Moga and Kotkapura — in his parliamentary constituency lost narrowly in last month’s elections.

The Shiromani Akali Dal had called a meeting of all its former and present MLAs, including former ministers, the chairmen of various boards and corporations, SGPC members and others today to finalise the election programme for Malout.

Malout has become prestigious, both for the Congress and the Akali Dal. The Congress-CPI “secular” front is desperate to strengthen its hold on the Malwa belt as the Akali Dal held sway there in the elections.

The conduct of the ruling Congress and the main Opposition party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, reminds one of the Gidderbaha byelection during which the then Chief Minister, Beant Singh, along with members of his Council of Ministers, had campaigned almost for a month there. The Congress had lost that byelection by a few thousand votes. Gidderbaha has been traditionally an Akali stronghold.

Malout, on the other hand, has returned Congress, Akali, U-CPI and even an Independent candidate after the 1966 reorganisation of Punjab.


Cong withdrawing grants to panchayats: Badal
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 15
Former Chief Minister and Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal, while alleging that the Congress government had started pursuing anti-development policies and were withdrawing the grants distributed to panchayats and municipal councils, claimed that the Malout Assembly election would be a turning point in the political scene of the state and would prove a nail in the coffin of the present regime.

While terming the action of withdrawal of the shagun and pension schemes as anti-Dalit and anti-old women, he claimed that the verdict of the Malout Assembly election would give a strong signal to the present government as it had failed to utter a single word on its development plan and was keeping itself busy with transfers.

Mr Badal, who addressed a huge rally of party workers before the filing of the nomination papers by SAD candidate Mukhtiar Kaur, widow of Rural and Panchayat Development Minister, alleged that the state government had committed contempt of Punjab and Haryana High Court by withdrawing the grants distributed under sangat darshan as it had been upheld by it.

Mr Badal, while lashing out at the Punjab Chief Minister and his Cabinet colleagues for their anti-development policies, alleged that they had been making false claims that the state government’s coffers were empty. He added that they should tell the people that when the SAD-BJP combine government kept on working for the development of the state for five years then how could the coffers had become empty within a few days. He claimed that the SAD-BJP alliance had left the administration when the state was having sound financial health.

The former Chief Minister pointed out that Mr Amarinder Singh had started talking about taking tough measures in the coming Budget for the revival of economy of the state despite the fact that the SAD-BJP combine government kept on giving concessions to every section of society in every Budget.

Mr Badal said the SAD-BJP combine would play a constructive role as the Opposition party in the Vidhan Sabha. Pressure would be kept on the government to fulfil all its commitments made to the people on the eve of the Assembly elections.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Mr Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Manpreet Badal and Mr Gurdas Badal (all senior leaders) were also present on the occasion.


Pro VC to ensure Syndicate meeting
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 15
The Punjabi University Pro Vice Chancellor, Dr R. N. Pal, today banned the entry of youth leader Bhupinder Singh Cheema and his brother, who are accused of attacking a University teacher, Dr H. S. Bhatti. He also announced that he would take up the issue of holding a meeting of the Syndicate after the meeting scheduled to be held on March 16 has been cancelled by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

Dr Pal, who had himself ordered a four-member teacher’s team to hold an inquiry into the circumstances leading to the attack on Dr H. S. Bhatti in front of one of the university’s gates today disbanded the inquiry committee, saying that there was no need for the same as the Punjab and Haryana High Court had entrusted an inquiry into the case to an Inspector-General of Police.

The Pro VC said in such circumstances the inquiry committee had become infructuous and had been accordingly disbanded. He said he had, however, decided to ban the entry of B. S. Cheema as well as his brother Varinderjit Singh, a student in the Social Work Department, keeping in view the police report registered in the case.

Meanwhile, the Pro VC disclosed that the Registrar, Dr B. S. Bhatia, had been informed by the VC that the Syndicate meeting scheduled for March 16 had been cancelled. He said he would, however, meet the government to ensure that the meeting could be held soon at a fresh date. He said the Syndicate meeting needed to decide on the interim budget.

Dr Pal also hauled up the Executive Engineer today, asking for an explanation as to why a new gate was being constructed facing Girls Hostel Number Two, despite his orders. Asking the officer to explain up to March 19 why the orders were not obeyed, he said the

construction seemed to be violation of government rules and would endanger the safety of girl students. He directed the officer to get the gate removed and construct a wall at the spot by March 19.

Meanwhile, students, employees and teachers under the banner of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is agitating for the arrest and ouster of the Vice Chancellor, today blocked the university gate for two hours and held a rally there. Leaders of the JAC, including Dr U. C. Singh and Mr Sukhwant Singh, expressed resentment in the delay in the arrest of the VC. They said even though three weeks had passed since the installation of the new government, no action had been taken against the VC.

The leaders, who were joined by Prof Balbir Singh, finance secretary, Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), said it was surprising that the VC was trying to run the affairs of the university from hiding.


Economic revamp plan for Punjab
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
These are hard times for Punjab as it passes through a transition period before a new politico-administrative order is born and castoffs adjusted. In the prevailing uncertainty, sceptics see harrowing weeks ahead while optimists wait for the new outfit to settle and deliver.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, and some other ministers have made populist statements, warned of harsh steps in the Budget and talked of economic reconstruction. One hopes their political rhetoric will give something to the people to hold in their worldly toil and travails?

In the confusion, no official orders have been issued on the appointment of chairpersons of reform committees in finance (Mr Surinder Singla, MLA), industry (Mr A.S. Chatha) and agriculture (Dr S.S. Johl). But one hears reports of politico-administrative disquiet.

Punjab does not have any worthwhile policy on industry. The autonomous corporations dealing with industry are in the red and big industrialists have fled, thanks to flawed, ad hoc policies. A large number of MoUs have become scraps of paper.

Agriculture — the mainstay of the economy — is under strain. Ever since the first report on diversification was prepared by Dr Johl in 1986, there has been several studies suggesting strategies on making agriculture viable, competitive and export-oriented. These include Vision—2020 by Punjab Agricultural University (September, 1998), Farmers and Farming in Punjab (October, 1998), Diversification of Agriculture (February 2000), National Agricultural Policy (July 2000), WTO and Punjab Agriculture (October 2000), Mission for second push to agriculture (2000-01) and Policy recommendations (January 2001).

Whenever a new committee on agriculture is constituted, it has enough cud to chew. But what happened to the earlier committee, chaired by Dr Y.K. Alagh, on post-WTO Punjab-Haryana? It had submitted just one preliminary report.

Viewed from the point of political exigency and importance, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has been allotted portfolios of agriculture, rural development/ panchayats and women’s welfare. Neither agriculture can be developed in isolation nor its economy revived in a vacuum. Agriculture must have linkages with the industry and service sector.

Providing economic succour to village women and youth is also a part of rural development. Even girls have to be educated in market-driven vocations—computers, short-hand, nursing, accounting, etc.

All this would require working on an integrated economic reconstruction roadmap. The map shall remain on the drawing board if it is not linked to resources. In the interest of the state and integrated reconstruction of economy, she would have to cut across political lines for help from the Centre and interact with Punjab MPs and bureaucrats in Delhi.

Dr Johl, when contacted in Palampur, said his concern was not “what” is to be done, but “where” and “how” to begin. Some modifications in the existing policies in consonance with political exigencies and financial situation would have to be made and also their likely implications studied. He suggested a compact “umbrella committee”, headed by the Chief Minister, integrating finance, agriculture, industry, education, health etc. and constitution of a representative state planning board with a mix of politicians, bureaucrats and technocrats.


Punjabis ‘welcome to invest in Bhutan’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
“Bhutan welcomes Punjabis to come and explore the possibilities of investing there,” says Mr Lyonpo Dago Tshering, Ambassador of Bhutan to India, maintaining that his country has close connections with Punjab as the people of Bhutan feel that Guru Nanak Dev was an incarnation of one of their saints.

A number of Bhutanese visit the Golden Temple in Amritsar every year.

Mr Tshering arrived here today on a two-day visit on an invitation from the Indo-Bhutanese Friendship Association. The Punjab Transport Minister, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, who is a patron of the Chandigarh chapter of the association, hosted a lunch for him. Mr Tshering, who earlier served as the Home Minister of Bhutan, said that India was a great friend of his country.

Mr Tshering also called on the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and senior functionaries of the Punjab and Haryana Governments today.

Talking to newsmen, he said that nearly 90 per cent of the total imports of Bhutan came from India. In return, Bhutan not only exported food and agro products but also supplied hydropower to India.

“Our export of hydropower to India will increase manifold in the coming years,” he said, maintaining that investment in this sector was open to Indian companies. Many of them were already operating from Bhutan.

Mr Tshering said that Bhutan was continuing to pursue its policy of “high value low volume tourism” as it wanted to provide quality service to tourists because of the limited infrastructure it had. On an average, a non-Indian tourist had to spend about US $ 200 a day in Bhutan.

Mr Tshering said that there was no restriction on Indian tourists from visiting Bhutan. “It is just because of the overall scenario in South Asia that some controls may be in place to establish the identity of tourists,” he added.

Earlier, Mr Rattan Anmol Singh Sidhu, president of the Chandigarh chapter of the Indo-Bhutanese Friendship Association, welcomed the Ambassador and members of his team. A memento was presented to Mr Tshering by Mr Tej Parkash Singh.


CDPO indicted for fake recruitment
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
A high-level probe, conducted by the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Tarn Taran), Mr G.S. Bal, has indicted the Child Development Project Officer (CDPO) for appointing her own sister on fake certificates.

According to sources in the office of the Deputy Commissioner, the five-page fact-finding report had found the CDPO guilty of misusing her official powers with the ‘fraudulent’ appointment of her sister as social worker in the village anganwari. The inquiry officer has reportedly recommended the registration of a criminal case against the CDPO. The fact-finding report alleged that with the ‘fraudulent’ appointment, a heavy burden was caused on the state exchequer and hence, as per the ruling of the Supreme Court if any officer was found guilty of making wrong appointments, he or she was liable to deposit the required amount from his or her own salary.

According to an affidavit given by Hari Singh, a former Sarpanch of Dharm Chand Kalan village, (Tarn Taran tehsil), Sukhwinder Kaur (sister of the CDPO) continued to do the job of social worker in the name of Nirmal Kaur who happened to be her niece. While Nirmal Kaur was married at Mumbai and never appeared for the interview, Sukhwinder Kaur succeeded in getting the job in connivance with her sister who was one of the members of the selection committee.

The inquiry officer recorded the statements of other social workers and staff of the Social Security Department also confirmed that the CDPO was directly responsible for the wrong appointment in the department. Earlier, the CDPO had claimed that the affidavit field by Mr Hari Singh was the result of personal enmity with her family. She had also denied that her own sister was appointed on ‘fake certificates’ of Nirmal Kaur.

The inquiry report revealed that Sukhwinder Kaur was under matric and hence she had to use the certificates of Nirmal Kaur. Ms Sarbjit Kaur, daughter of Mr Hari Singh, informed the inquiry officer that Sukhwinder Kaur did not even appear for the interview. Instead her sister-in-law appeared on behalf of Sukhwinder Kaur. She, however, stated that the anganwari centre in the village used to run in the name of Nirmal Kaur who never turned up for the duty.

During the investigation, Sukhwinder Kaur was also summoned by the inquiry officer but she failed to turn up. The Investigating Officer found that Sukhwinder Kaur had resigned as social worker. However, during the checking of the record, the resignation letter could not be traced in the office of the CDPO.

The inquiry recommended that the CDPO had misused her official power deliberately with a view to give financial help to her own sister and hence immediate action was sought against her.


Adopt power reforms, Punjab told
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 15
The Union Power Minister, Mr Suresh Prabhu, here today advised the Punjab Government to adopt power reforms soon as the State would not be able to get finances in the future.

Mr Prabhu’s advice came in the wake of the Punjab Chief Minister and Power Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, demanding funds from the Centre despite showing his helplessness in charging the farmer minimum user charge of 50 paise a unit.

The Union Minister made these assertions while launching the fully Central Government-funded Accelerated Power Development Programme (APDP) in Mohali. The minister asked Punjab to sign a fresh memorandum of agreement for reforms to get finances.

The APDP transmission and distribution projects have been devised to create islands of excellence with state-of-the-art technology use and fixing returns on each unit allotted an official.

This is one of the 63 such projects being taken up by the Union Government to show results of reforms to the reform-resistant states which require to modernise their power system as well as policies to achieve an ultimate goal of generating 1,00,000 mw additional power by 2012.

Mr Prabhu, while driving home the need to depoliticise tariff fixation and power reforms, said he was pursuing the recommendations finalised by Dr Manmohan Singh in 1991 and endorsed by all subsequent governments of charging at least 50 paise a unit.

The minister said it was a misconception that people would oppose reforms and would shy from paying a reasonable user charge.

He said if these losses could be reduced to 15 per cent the power sector would get Rs 55,000 crore, Rs 15,000 crore more than losses, to achieve the long-term goals of power generation.

The Union Minister of State for Power, Ms Jaywanti Mehta, said the ministry had done around 2,000 road shows to prepare people for paying ‘’reasonable’’ rates of power to get ‘’quality’’ power and the need to check transmission and distribution losses.

The Chief Minister assured Mr Prabhu to honour the MoU signed between the Power Ministry and the state government earlier but wanted to be excused from levying the minimum user charges on farmers. 


Attachment of DRME property likely
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
The non-implementation of the court orders with regard to the fixation of seniority of the medical teaching cadre and promotion may lead to the attachment of the property of the Directorate of Research and Medical Education (DRME), which has put the Health Ministry in a tight spot.

The orders of Ms Jaswinder Kaur, Additional Civil Judge (senior division), Amritsar, reads, “Despite assurances given by the Punjab Civil Secretariat regarding the implementation of the orders, dated May 23, 2000, and seniority of the decree holder, it was observed that the government had obtained three months’ time, however, till the passing of the order the seniority in the teaching cadre had not been fixed. Therefore in such an event warrant of attachment is ordered to be issued against the government on filing warrant fee and the list of property”.

It is pertinent to mention here that Dr Baldev Singh, Assistant Professor, ENT, Government Medical College, Amritsar, had made a request to the Principal Secretary through the Principal, medical college, for the implementation of the said orders but the administration did not bother to issue the required orders. When contacted, Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Medical College, said he had faxed the orders of the court to the Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Mr K.K. Bhatanagar, and Dr R.S. Sidhu (DRME) for taking the necessary steps. He said he had also spoken to Dr Sidhu on phone and it was the third fax he had sent to the DRME for implementation of the orders before April 2.

Dr Baldev Singh had pleaded that in PCMS (II) his seniority had been fixed by the Punjab Government in the gradation list of PCMS-II, 1975. In light of this his seniority was to be fixed in the teaching cadre and given promotion to the post of professor, which had been agreed to by the department in writing in the court. However, due to non-compliance of the orders, the court had ordered the attachment of the property of the department.


Bureaucrats behind high advocates’ fee
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
There is an interesting story behind the fixing of an exorbitant fee of Rs 1.50 lakh per appearance for special-category advocates by the Punjab Government. It also shows how a number of bureaucrats have used the state exchequer to defend cases in the Supreme Court.

Informed sources said a number of senior bureaucrats were fighting various cases in the Supreme Court during the tenure of the previous government. Such bureaucrats required the services of top advocates to plead the cases. For engaging top advocates, they, according to sources, influenced the government to jack up the fee to Rs 1.50 lakh per appearance for special-category advocates.

However, this proposal was opposed by the then Advocate-General, Mr H.S. Mattewal. When contacted, he told The Tribune yesterday that he got the wording of the instructions pertaining to the fee amended by getting the words “up to” included.

“It meant that the fee could be up to Rs1.50 lakh, which was the upper limit. It could also be Rs 70,000 or Rs 90,000, as the case may be”. In the original instructions, there was no mention of the words “up to”.

Mr Mattewal said he made the functioning of the Advocate-General’s office transparent and confronted the officers concerned whenever they tried to bypass his office. “I did not allow any foul play.” He claimed that his winning several cases as Advocate-General in the Punjab and Haryana Court, the Supreme Court and elsewhere resulted in the saving of several hundred crores of rupees of the government.

Informed sources said Punjab’s official machinery did not enjoy a good reputation among top lawyers in Delhi for certain reasons. One was the non-clearance of the payments of such advocates in time. Most of them either refuse to appear for Punjab or ask for payments in advance.

A top constitutional expert, when approached by the previous government, refused to take the SYL canal case. Reason: his payment of Rs 80,000 for legal opinion taken by the Punjab Government had not been made. He asked a number of times for clearance of that payment but to no avail.

When asked how the Punjab Government wanted to handle the SYL canal case now, a government source said that discussions were on with top advocates in Delhi . There was no possibility of filing a review plea in this case.

The only option was that a fresh writ petition should be filed in the Supreme Court on the pattern of Antulay case. A request could be made to the Supreme Court to review the earlier decision regarding the SYL canal by examining the relevant provisions of the Constitution placed before the court in the fresh appeal.


CM not behind cut in security: Badungar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 15
Virtually giving a clean chit to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, SGPC President Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar said he did not believe that the security of politico-religious Sikh leaders had been scaled down due to political vendetta.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Prof Badungar said the reduction in his security — with- drawal of a Gypsy as well as those given to the five Sikh high priests, including Akal Takht Jathedar and 15 executive members of the SGPC — was not on the orders of Capt Amarinder Singh.

On the new twist to the ‘siropa’ controversy, Prof Badungar reiterated that Capt Amarinder Singh was denied a ‘siropa’ during his February 28 visit to the Golden Temple because the practice had now been discontinued and not because he had dyed his beard.

“I have cordial relations with Capt Amarinder Singh and our fight was against the Congress and not any individual,” quipped Prof Badungar.

“I have regards for the courage that Captain showed by quitting as MP in protest against Operation Bluestar,” he continued.

Accusing former SGPC chief G.S. Tohra of playing a double game, Prof Badungar alleged that at one time Mr Tohra had launched a smear campaign against the Captain, but had now become his spokesman.

Jathedar Tohra, who had once talked about the All-India Gurdwara Act, was the brain behind the Pehowa meeting of his henchmen who took the retrograde step of demanding a separate body for Haryana gurdwaras, Badungar said.


SSP vows to improve police image
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 15
All-out efforts would be made to rid the police department of its bad image. The working of the police in the district would be streamlined and the police public relations would be strengthened to curb anti-social activities in the district, said Mr B. Chandera Sekhar, SSP, while talking to mediapersons after a meeting with district police officials here yesterday.

He said the top priority of the police would be to restore the confidence of people in the law and order machinery and ensure that all police personnel work as per law. He said corruption would not be tolerated at any cost and any one found indulging in corrupt practices would not be spared. All officials had been directed to impart speedy justice to people, he said.

Earlier, he held a meeting with the district police officials after taking over as the new SSP. Mr Chandera Sekhar, who belongs to Andhra Pradesh, gave instructions to the police. He also directed them to intensify patrolling at night and erect nakas on all entry points of the district. He said he would conduct surprise checking of the nakas.


Man involved in poll violence still at large
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
A history-sheeter, booked by the police on election day after he and his men forcibly entered a polling booth at Ajanta Public School, broke windows and furniture, has not been arrested even a month after the incident. It may be mentioned that a written undertaking was reportedly given by the kin of Congress leader on the same day to the SHO, Civil Lines, guaranteeing good behaviour by the history-sheeter.

The police took at least 15 persons into precautionary custody a day before the elections. However, after the written guarantee, the history-sheeter was not taken into custody alongwith others.

Several cases of the armed trespass and intimidation of residents in land-grab cases have been registered earlier against him. He was a prime suspect along with others in a case of exchange of fire during a marriage function on April 4, 1998.

In March, 2002, he first rammed his car into another vehicle at Ashoka Chowk and then shot an ASI, Indermohan, with a revolver, seriously injuring him.

On May 27, 2001, he and his men beat up the owner of a shop opposite the railway station and forcibly laid claim to his shop. In August, 2001, they threatened the owner of House No. 597 in Basant Avenue area to vacate his house. In all these cases, he was arrested and then reportedly let off on bail.


Deadlines set for cases of terrorist victims
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has ordered to clear pending cases of victims of terrorism and riots, besides jobs on priority, allotment of houses in addition of issuance of red cards to them. Orders to this effect have been issued to the Department of Relief and Rehabilitation (R and R), and a deadline of March 25 ordered for completing investigations in all 144 pending cases. This was disclosed by Mr B.K. Srivastava, Secretary R and R, at a high-level meeting with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.S. Puri, Director of R and R, Mr Roshan Lal Sankaria, Assistant Commissioner and SDMs.

As many as 335 applications of families of terrorist and riot victims for houses are deadlined to be scrutinised till April 15. A sum of Rs 5 lakh has been kept aside for compensation to victims of mine blast. 


Improvement Trust panel to probe charges
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 15
Even as the starting disclosure made by a trustee of the local Improvement Trust in connection with the use of substandard material in its new official complex which is under construction caused a furore in the House, the Chairman, Mr Mohan Lal Garg, has constituted a three-member panel to hold an inquiry.

A Bedlam was created in the House during the Budget meeting of the Improvement Trust when Dr Raj Kumar Garga, one of the trustees said he had been told by an official concerned with the construction of the complex that substandard material had been used and pressure was put on him by another official to sign some documents and make entries pertaining to construction.

He further alleged that the same official had told him that when he refused to sign the documents and make wrong entries, he was offered a higher commission.

Mr Chiman Lal Garg, another trustee, said efforts were also made to get the estimates of expense over the official complex revised but the move could not proceed as members were agitating.

He said the administrative approval for spending Rs 50 lakh on the complex was given by the authorities concerned and at the meeting a proposal for spending Rs 30 lakh more was made despite the fact that the total estimated expenses on the complex was Rs 69 lakh.

Mr Mohan Lal Garg an official might level such allegations as work pertaining to supervision was withdrawn from him about a week ago.

He claimed that no move was made to revise the estimates of the expenses of the building, adding that Rs 30 lakh had been earmarked for the next financial year and it would be spent on furniture etc required in the office. He said the Budget had been passed unanimously.


Theft of bales worries workers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 15
Even as panic has gripped transport workers of the Sherawala Gate area here, the functioning of the local police has come under cloud following a spurt in robberies during the past month.

As many as 20 to 25 incidents of looting of textile bales have been reported. At least one such case is reported daily. Each bale costs not less than Rs 10,000 and above, depending on the quality.

Labourers are the hardest-hit since the goods are their responsibility after the loading takes place and before unloading at the transport office.

Two labourers have now started accompanying the ‘‘rehra’’. One of them said the loss following a robbery was recovered from his salary in instalments.

The miscreants usually come on scooters and lift the bales when the labourer goes inside the godown to unload other bales. These bales are then reportedly sold at subsidised rates in the grey market. The connivance of traders in the same business cannot be ruled out, sources in the textile market said.

Workers alleged that these thefts were going on with the knowledge of the police which has turned a blind eye due to vested interests.

Earlier, a truckload of bales was taken away on January 18. Six persons had decamped with goods worth about Rs 5 lakh at midnight.

Mr Rajesh Jaiswal, SP (City), denied having received any complaint in this regard. He said police patrol in the affected areas would be increased.

However, wholesalers from the Katra Ahluwalia market and transporters alleged that the police had not registered their cases despite having been approached several times.


Muslim-dominated town peaceful
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 15
There was no apparent tension in this Muslim dominated town in connection with the Ayodhya issue here today. The local administration had, as a precautionary measure, called additional forces from the district and took out a flag march led by SDM Gurlovleen Singh Sidhu.

Ms Rajia Sultana, MLA, said the situation was normal. Residents had cordial relations with one another, she said.


‘No restrictions’ for student visa to UK
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 15
British Council Education Services First Secretary Nic Humphries said today that there were no harsh restrictions in granting student visas to the United Kingdom.

Humphries, who was here to promote British exams at the Lalvani Institute of Technology, said, “The only requirement for seeking a student visa was proper documentation and sufficient funds for sponsoring foreign education.

Over 300 institutions in India were affiliated to various universities of the United Kingdom and that 7200 students from India were granted visas last year, he added.

The students were also allowed to do part-time jobs in order to meet their expenses, the first secretary said. PTI 


Survey for AIDS awareness
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 15
A door-to door survey is being conducted in the district by the district health authorities to create awareness about AIDS, STD and RTI, Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said addressing a meeting of health officials here today.

He said from March 15 to April 2, an AIDS awareness programme was being launched by the Punjab Government with the help of National AIDS Control Organisation.

Mr Vikas Partap further said persons affected in the RTI and STD would be given free medicines.


Cop’s wife alleges second marriage
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 15
Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, has ordered an inquiry into the allegation of second marriage entered into by a constable posted in a local police chowki. The allegation was levelled by his wife, Mrs Jaswant Kaur, a resident of Dhobiana Basti in this city.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said the inquiry was being conducted by the SP (Headquarters) and if the police constable was found guilty of solemnising the second marriage he would be booked under relevant provisions of criminal laws and departmental action taken.

Mrs Jaswant Kaur in her complaint lodged with the SSP alleged that her marriage with the constable was solemnised about 11 years ago.

She said about a month ago, her husband started telling her that his father and mother were not willing to give him any share out of the common land and he would go to the village to get his share of the land. However, he arranged another marriage there.


Rally for religious harmony
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 15
A rally was organised by the district unit of Punjab Lok Morcha to motivate people to have religious tolerance and harmony in the wake of incidences at Ayodhya and other parts of the country.

The activists of the morcha were holding banners with slogans for promotion of brotherhood among persons of different religions. They shouted slogans against the fundamentalists who want to divide the country on the basis of religion.

The leaders of the morcha while addressing the gathering said they should not think that persons belonging to any particular religion were fundamentalists. They said that such miscreants were present in every religion and they did not like that people of different religions should live with harmony.


Baba of Nanaksar Kaleran dead
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 15
Baba Harbhajan Singh of Nanaksar Kaleran, successor of the late Baba Kundan Singh Kaleranwale, died in a road accident today at Adda Sarhali when his car collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction. Four other occupants of the car were injured seriously. They have been admitted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, Amritsar, where their condition is said to be critical.


Vedanti escapes unhurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 15
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht, escaped unhurt when his car met with an accident at Bhawanigarh, about 22 km from here, today.

Confirming this here tonight, SSP, Sangrur, said the Jathedar was going to Nabha from Samana when a jeep hit his car at Nabha Kenchian, Bhawanigarh. He said the jeep was on its way to Patiala from Sangrur.


Gang of bank frauds busted
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 15
The police has claimed to have busted a gang of frauds which had allegedly duped many banks. The gang was busted with the arrest of two of its members, Pargat Singh and Karamjit Kaur, both residents of Khamano in Fatehgarh, who tried to dupe a local bank. Three others have also been arrested.

The SSP Mr GPS Bhullar, talking to newspersons said Paragt Singh opened a bank account in the Ropar branch of the bank in the name of Ram Singh while Karamjit Kaur opened an account in the SAS Nagar branch of the bank in the name of Surinder Kaur.

Later, they presented a cheque for Rs 87,000, issued by Surinder Kaur in the Ropar branch. The cheque was, however, sent to SAS Nagar for verification. The bank authorities there informed that Surinder Kaur did not have the required amount in her account.

As the cheque bounced, the Manager of the Ropar branch tried to locate Ram Singh at the address given to the bank but it was found to be fake. Investigations revealed that even the signatures of the witness were forged. The police has arrested the duo. It was found that they were members of a gang which was responsible for bank frauds in various parts of the country.

They had duped a cooperative bank in Uttar Pradesh of Rs 6.5 lakh, Nanital Bank of Rs 7.3 lakh and Muradabad Bank of Rs 5.5 lakh.

The other gang members arrested are Surjit Singh, Bahadur Singh and Bhajan Singh. A case under Sections 420, 465, 468, 471, 472 and 120 (B) IPC, has been registered.


SLIET students end dharna
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sunam), March 15
Students of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) here today ended their dharna and relay fast on the assurance of Mr Ashok Kumar Singla, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Sangrur, that they would get justice with regard to their demands in the case of death of a SLIET student.

However, the students have decided to continue the boycott of classes till Wednesday to force the SLIET authorities to solve the issue by accepting their demands. The students are demanding the removal of Dr Kuldip Singh, posted at the health centre at SLIET, while holding the doctor responsible for the death of a student, Vikrant Singh, who was seriously injured in a road accident near here and later died on the way to Ludhiana a few days back. They are also demanding that Dr V. Sahni should be removed from the post of Dean (welfare) of the institute, alleging that his behaviour towards the students was not proper and he had not played an appropriate role after the death of Vikrant Singh.

The ADC visited the SLIET campus today to sort out the issue as the Director of SLIET had reportedly requested the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, to send force and a magistrate as the situation on the campus was deteriorating due to students’ agitation.

Talking to The Tribune over the phone Mr Singla, said he had been deputed by the Deputy Commissioner to get the matter sorted out after the request of the institute Director. He said he held meetings with the students and the SLIET authorities. He said he had asked the students that if the matter was not resolved by Wednesday then they could approach the district administration and the Chief Secretary, Punjab. He added that the SLIET authorities had informed him that they had already constituted an inquiry committee against the doctor while the functions of the Dean (welfare) had been entrusted to another faculty member.

Talking to mediapersons the students alleged that the SLIET authorities had manhandled some of them, at the dharna site at the main gate of the institute and were threatened with action in case they did not attend the classes today. They also alleged that the authorities had also not allowed the girl students to come out of their hostels by locking the main gates of the hostels.

Talking to TNS, Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director of SLIET, refuted all charges levelled by the students. However, he added that normalcy had now returned to the campus and the degree classes would start soon while diploma and certificate courses’ classes had never stopped functioning.


Technical education to be made affordable
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 15
The Punjab Government will take adequate steps to extend affordable technical education to those belonging to economically weaker sections, scheduled castes and other backward classes.

This was disclosed here today by Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Technical Education Minister, Punjab, while addressing the first meeting of the officers of the department. Emphasis would be laid on a new technical education policy with a view to accord the highest priority to modernisation and expansion of technical education system in the state. Multi-dimensional technical institutions needed to be developed in Punjab, said Mr Kaypee.

Mr Kaypee further pointed out that the system of getting admissions in the free and paid seats of the Punjab Engineering Colleges would be restructured in the larger interest of the public. New emerging technologies such as fashion technology, leather technology, information technology would be promoted and strengthened in the state, he added.

He also said during the past five years the state had suffered a lot on technical education front. The Punjab Government, through its well defined policies and programmes would provide adequate job opportunities to youth, he added.

Mr V.N. Ojha, Secretary Technical Education, Mr Vijay Kain, Chairman Punjab State Technical Education Board, Mr S.S. Sandhu, Special Secretary, Technical Education, Mr Arunjit Singh, Secretary Technical Education Board and Dr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, also attended the meeting.


GND varsity Sports Director quits
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 15
Dr Kanwaljit Singh, a senior professor at Guru Nanak Dev University who was embroiled in an alleged sexual harassment case, today resigned as Director, Sports, to pave way for independent inquiry.

Dr Kanwaljit Singh said a woman lecturer of the Department of Sports had levelled serious charges against him and had laid a pre-condition for submitting her Ph.D. thesis if he (Kanwaljit Singh) resigned. He was her guide.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said he had yet to receive the resignation letter. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken a suo motu action of a report published in these columns regarding sexual harassment cases.


Union tussle hits small truckers
Our Correspondent

Bhucho Mandi, March 15
The tussle between the present and former presidents for securing presidentship of the local Truck Operators Union is proving dear to small operators as for the past many days, the office of the union has been locked and trucks have not been booked by anybody.

Sources said the claims and counter-claims made by two rival groups over the presidentship of the union resulted in the booking of trucks coming to a standstill.

Both groups, claiming presidentship, formed separate working committees having 11 members each. The office of the union was locked on March 13 by the supporters of the present president.

Supporters of both groups said they would fight the battle, but due to the tension in the union, the truck operators having only one or two trucks were the worst hit.

About three years ago, a relative of the then Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had declared herself president of the truck operators’ union. Pressure of the SAD-BJP government had allegedly prevented the then president, Mr Jagjit Singh, from raising the issue openly.

With the recent change of government in the state, the group led by Mr Jagjit Singh stepped up its efforts to stake claim on presidentship which was allegedly taken from them under political pressure. They alleged that the other group embezzled about Rs 20 lakh and the accounts of the union were not properly maintained. They alleged that they had written to the authorities concerned but no action was taken.

Policemen were deployed on the premises of the union office to avoid any untoward incident.


Banks set up clearing house
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 15
On demand of industrialists from the area, local banks have set up a clearing house on Saturdays. According to Mr M.S. Jaggi, Chief Manager of the State Bank of Patiala and president of the clearing house, this will facilitate industries and business houses in their day-to-day transactions and financial matters. 

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