Monday, March 18, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



It’s Amarinder vs Badal in Malout
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 17
The election for this Assembly segment, to be held on April 4, seems to have become a fight between the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, as the latter has announced that the victory of the Congress-CPI alliance candidate, Mr Nathu Ram, is a prestige issue for him and Mr Badal while predicting victory of SAD candidate, Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, claimed that poll outcome would be the beginning of the collapse of the present regime.

Capt Amarinder Singh, in whose leadership, the former Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and MP, Mr Jagmeet Brar, have reposed undisputed faith, while addressing a huge gathering yesterday here urged people to end the hold of Mr Badal in the region.

The election for this Assembly segment could not be held on February 13 due to death of sitting MLA and SAD candidate, Sujan Singh, during the electioneering. Mr Badal has fielded Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, widow of Sujan Singh, to cash in on the sympathy wave in the area towards her. On the other hand, the three-member panel of senior Congress leaders has decided to support CPI candidate from here.

Capt Amarinder Singh talking to TNS said the Assembly segment had been divided into zones and senior Congress leaders, including ministers, would man each zone. He added that overall in-charge of the election would be Mr Jagmeet Brar. He added that Congress leaders would camp in the Assembly segment till the polling day and they would be responsible for door-to-door campaigning apart from holding corner meetings.

On the other hand, Mr Badal is himself looking after the election campaign. To muster support for Mrs Mukhtiar Kaur, who is also a member of the SGPC, Mr Badal organised a big rally here the day she filed her nomination papers. Eash SAD MLA has been asked to look after one village each.

Political observers feel that history might repeat itself as things have started shaping up as they did in 1995 during the Gidderbaha Assembly byelection when Beant Singh was the Chief Minister.

Capt Amarinder Singh has managed to secure the support of the former MLA, Mr Baldev Singh Ballamgarh. He visited Mr Ballamgarh’s house yesterday.


Marriage palaces mushroomed under SAD rule
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, March 17
Cities under the municipal corporations have seen unprecedented construction during the past 5 years of the Akali-BJP rule. Not only have multi-storeyed commercial complexes flouted all norms of construction, the failing industry has led to marriage palaces coming up in a big way as alternate source of income.

Consequently, as many as 76 marriage palaces have come up in the short span after 1996 (the Akali-BJP combine came to power in 1997) out of a total of 181 such palaces enlisted by the corporation in Amritsar. The comparative industrial boom in Ludhiana has succeeded to keep this trend in limits with only 16 new palaces constructed in this period.

Jalandhar being fairly low key has recorded only eight new marriage palaces during this time. Patiala, with a relatively new corporation formed just two years ago, has shown no such constructions after 1996. Significantly, all mayors in the corporations then were either from the BJP or the Akali party.

Violating all bylaws, the marriage palaces were built by converting industrial sheds, residential buildings, old sarais and dharamshalas.

Besides, many of these were built irrespective of their proximity with hospitals, educational institutes, residences etc creating a nuisance for residents, patients and students.

Many of the councillors, too, took advantage of their powers and became owners of such properties in connivance with corporation officials.

A majority of them have not adhered to the special guidelines framed for marriage palaces after the devastating fire in Dabwali and Uphar cinema tragedy in New Delhi that prompted the corporation to issue strict guidelines to marriage palaces.

Consequently all, except two, have no proper parking space or fire fighting equipment mandatory to avert such tragedies. Less than half of these are built on 2,000 sq yard plots contrary to guidelines. Just a few are located on roads that are at least 80 feet wide.

Just a few of these palaces have the requisite number of a minimum of four exits, emergency door ventilation, fire alarms or sanitation. Almost all marriage palaces that have open spaces use shamianas made of inflammable material.

No concrete action till now has been initiated against these palaces that have come up flouting all norms of constructions and the guidelines framed for them. It all bespeaks of the connivance of officials of the corporation. More than half the marriage palaces in Amritsar were served notices which were never pursued.

The situation has come to such a pass that some of these have even encroached upon adjoining roads and complaints to the corporation regarding noise pollution, sanitation hazard besides brawls, drinking bouts etc have fallen on deaf ears.

The Commissioner, municipal corporation, Mr B.R. Banga was not available for comments.


Plan to revive flying clubs
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 17
With a view to opening up more job avenues for the Punjabi youth in the country and abroad, the Punjab Government is considering the revival of flying clubs at Jalandhar, Patiala and Ludhiana.

The state government is also planning to moot means and ways for the use of the Pathankot and Adampur airports for civil purpose.

Talking to The Tribune after holding his first meeting with district administration officials here on Thursday, the Punjab Minister for Civil Aviation and Science and Technology, Mr Avtaar Henry, said his department was envisaging a plan to revive operations at the flying clubs which had been lying redundant for years for want of funds and political will.

Mr Henry said the main objective behind the move was to create more job avenues for the Punjabi youth. “We have observed that there was lot of scope in this field in India and abroad, particularly, after globalisation was effected, and it would be better if our youths are trained as pilots, and we have almost all facilities for the same at these clubs,” Mr Henry said.

Similarly, the state government was evolving a plan as to how the airports at Adampur and Pathankot could be opened for civil use. “We have started drawing up a plan for that,” said Mr Henry. He said he would also take up the long-pending issue of waiving of water bills arrears to the tune of Rs 10 crore of people living in the slum areas of Jalandhar. “I will take up the matter in the Cabinet meeting.” said Mr Henry.

He said the allegations of various irregularities committed during the tenure of Jalandhar Mayor Suresh Sehgal would be probed and it would be looked into why an FIR was not lodged in a big scandal in the MC, despite recommendation by the Vigilance Bureau.

Regarding MC’s defaulters, Mr Henry said the Commissioner Mr Sameer Kumar, had been directed to issue notices to defaulters, particularly those who had erected huge buildings, like schools, without building plans in accordance with the building bylaws. “I have seen that poor people were harassed by the MC staff, whereas, influential people were spared. But now they have been asked not to spare such persons from whom we can realise crores of rupees as penalties,” said Mr Henry. 


Sehajdharis to back Cong-CPI candidate
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 17
Expressing resentment over the decision of the SGPC to disenfranchise Sehajdhari and efforts of SAD to get the word Sehajdhari deleted from the Gurdwara Act, the Sehajdhari Shiromani Akali Dal (SSAD) has decided to support the CPI-Congress candidate in the Malout byelection.

The decision was taken at a meeting of the SSAD office-bearers at Malout today. Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, SSAD president, said there was no need to amend the Gurdwara Act, 1925, in order to deprive the Sehajdharis of their might to vote in the SGPC elections. He said as Sehajdhari Sikhs had been voting for so many years, there was no point in reconsidering the decision now. He said the efforts of SAD to get the word Sehajdhari deleted from the Gurdwara Act had sent wrong signals among the community. He said the move was aimed at reducing the number of Sikhs. He said most of the Sikhs residing in foreign countries were non-baptised (Sehajdhari). Mr Ranu said the matter was subjudice and the SSAD was a party to it. He said there were vested interests behind the move.

He said the apprehensions of the SGPC president that members of the Muslim and Christian communities could enrol themselves as voters for the SGPC poll under the name of Sehajdharis were baseless. Mr Gurpreet Singh, senior vice-president, SSAD, alleged that religious institutions had become politicised during the tenure of the Badal government for personal gains. The others who attended the meeting included Mr Harmander Singh, state convener, Mr Pran Nath, secretary, Mr Gurpreet Singh Thamkoty, district president, Mr Gurcharan Singh, Mr Sukhdeep Singh, Mr Gurmit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh and Dr Ashok, all office-bearers of the district unit of the SSAD.


Children’s home project stillborn
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Hopes of the nearly 250 mentally retarded children of the remote areas of Pathankot sub-division seem to have been dashed to the ground with the Railways demanding Rs 60 lakh for providing railway land for St. Francis Home Project at Baghar village, about 5 km from here.

Mr S.R. Joseph Puthenpura, coordinator for the Rs 3-crore project for mentally retarded children, told this correspondent that his mission had purchased a piece of land measuring 24 acres in 1997 for the project. In 1999, the Railways built a small station on the land near the narrow gauge railway track. The Railways to the project demanded a sum of Rs 60 lakh. The project authorities were unable to fulfil the demand.

Mr Puthenpura said the matter was raised with Mr Vinod Khanna, MP from Gurdaspur, as well as the Punjab Government but to no avail. Representations were also made to the Railways Minister to direct the railways not to block the project. But nothing concrete has been done and the railways has been insisting on the deposit which the mission is unable to deposit.

Mr Puthenpura said during survey conducted by his men came in contact with nearly 100 such children who had been regarded. He said the project was to house over 250 such children where they would not only trained in various disciplines but helped to develop their mind and physique.

* * *

The district administration’s callousness towards the renovation of a martyrs’ memorial has shocked the martyr’s father Sagar Singh Salaria.

Col Salaria, while narrating the apathy of his letters written to the administration at various levels said his son, Lt Gurdip Singh Salaria, was killed while fighting militants in Kashmir was honoured posthumously with a Shaurya Chakra.

The district administration raised a memorial in his memory at his native village, Narianpur, near Taragarh. The gate got spoilt after heavy rain and has become an object of ridicule rather than a memorial.

He said the Block Development and Panchayat Officer of Narot Jaimal Singh had on August 3,1999, directed the sarpanch of the village also to take up case of the memorial and do the needful, but till now nothing has been done.

* * *

The residents of Sheikhan locality in Sujanpur and Jheyeli village have threatened to launch a stir to press their demand of shifting slaughter-houses being run unauthorisedly near the bank of Upper Bari Doab Canal near the village for the over an year.

The residents have repeatedly complained to the district administration against the slaughter-houses polluting the environment and canal. But the authorities did not heed their pleas.

Mr Vinay Mahajan, president of the Municipal Council, Sujanpur, said the slaughter-house problem would be solved soon.

The residents had expressed fears of an epidemic breaking out and demanded the slaughter-houses should be shifted. Stray dogs wandered near the slaughter-houses in search of meat which created problems for school-going children. The stray dogs often chase the children fearing that they were out to take away their piece of meat.

The sarpanch of Jhayeli village has also written to the district administration to shift the slaughter-houses from the village to keep the environment pollution-free.


Strong case’ for Hindi as second language
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 17
The Union Minister of State for Science and Technology, Mr Bachi Singh Rawat, said today that there was a strong case for making Hindi the second official language in Punjab. Responding to a demand on the issue by the Uttaranchal Kumaon Vikas Parishad here today, Mr Rawat said he would take up the issue with the state government and also bring it to the notice of the Central Government.

Mr Rawat was here to attend a cultural programme organised by the parishad. Talking to TNS, he said the people of Punjab were quite conversant with Hindi and the language was widely being used here after Punjabi. He observed that there should not be any opposition to it from any quarter. Besides, it did not involve any financial liability, he said.

Talking about his own ministry, Mr Rawat said this year the main focus would remain on space technology and biotechnology. He said that his ministry had got the maximum raise of 35 per cent over its budgetary allocation for the previous year. He said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee was taking a keen interest in the development of space technology and biotechnology.

On the issue of differences having cropped up in the National Democratic Alliance on the Ayodhya issue, Mr Rawat claimed that there were no differences and the allies were tackling the crisis together. 


Liquor vends’ auction fetches Rs 178.56 cr
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 17
The auction of 15 groups of liquor vends in Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts yielded excise revenue to the tune of Rs 178.56 crore here today.

The competition between the liquor cartels run by Ponty Chadha and Ashok Badia, both noted figures in the liquor trade in Uttar Pradesh, resulted in an increase of 14.3 and 2 per cent in the excise revenue for vends of Jalandhar and Kapurthala districts, respectively.

Senior officers of the Excise and Taxation Department held a series of meetings with the bidders at the local Circuit House till late last night to impress upon them that the state government has fixed a target of at least 10 per cent hike in the excise income from the district. However, the failure of the bidders to pool and close monitoring by officials, the auction fetched Rs 133.76 crore for Jalandhar vends, an increase of Rs 16.78 crore than the previous year.

Four liquor vend groups of Kapurthala district, comprising Kapurthala, Bholath, Phagwara and Sultanpur Lodhi, yielded excise income to the tune of Rs 44.80 crore during the auction, an increase of Rs 1 crore in the excise income as compared to the previous year. The auction was videographed and conducted in the presence of the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, the Commissioner of the Excise and Taxation Department, Mr D.S. Kalha, and the Deputy Commissioner, Mr H.S. Nanda.


Indians more prone to CAD: cardiologist
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 17
The district health authorities organised lectures by two cardiologists of the Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi. As many as 48 doctors participated.

Dr J.C. Garg, Civil Surgeon, and Dr Gurcharan Singh, Deputy Health Commissioner, Punjab, Health Systems Corporations, presided. Dr H.S. Dhillon of the Civil Hospital was the coordinator.

Dr H.S. Rissam, a senior consultant cardiologist, speaking on the new epidemic of coronary artery disease (CAD) in youths, emphasised that in addition to the old risk factors which caused heart attacks, there was an emergence of several new factors. Because of this, the prevalence of CAD was four times more in Indians than Americans and the British.

Indians living abroad had higher incidence than Chinese, Malaysians and Japanese, he said.

He said an overhaul was required in surgery to tackle CAD in Indians. The new aggressive approach should be directed towards detecting new risk factors. He warned the youth to refrain from alcohol and smoking.

Dr Suman Bhandari, speaking on the ideal treatment of heart blockages said that CAD was a major killer all over the world and stenting had become an easy and safe treatment for opening up clogged arteries.

Dr Bhandari said now stents could be coated with anti-cancer drugs. When these coated stents were used, the safety of which was like normal stents, there was no recurrence over up to two years of trial.


Plea to delete word “terrorist” for Bhagat Singh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
The Hari Singh Yaadgar Manch has urged the Union Government to take up the issue of deletion of word ‘terrorist’ attached to Bhagat Singh.

Bhagat Singh was referred to as ‘terrorist’ in the Indian Parliament under the British rule. The reference, thus, was never objected to and further no notice was taken of the objectionable phrase, the manch said.

The issue was brought into the notice on the occasion of the birth anniversary of freedom fighter Hari Singh Baghi here yesterday. The manch also urged the government to help the families of freedom fighters.

In addition to this, resolutions were passed to rename the government primary school at Kotla Sayadian and a memorial gate after freedom fighter Hari Singh Baghi.

A cultural programme and a kavi darbar were also organised. The Hari Singh Baghi Award was presented to poet Harbhajan Singh Hundal.


CPI opposes move to cancel holiday
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 17
Mr Joginder Singh Bhasin, member, state executive, CPI, has urged the state government to reconsider its move about the cancellation of holiday on March 23, the martyrdom day of Bhagat Singh.

In a letter written to the local MLA and Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, Mr Bhasin said he had learnt that the state government was going to cancel the holiday. He said for getting March 23 declared as a holiday, the people of Punjab had launched an agitation a few years ago. He said Mr L.S. Gill, a former Chief Minister of Punjab, had declared the day as a holiday.

He said to make future generations aware of the sacrifice of Bhagat Singh, it was necessary that the day should be observed as a special occasion. He said if the decision of the government was implemented, children of the new generation would forget about Bhagat Singh as the day would lose its significance for them.

Mr Bhasin said a life-size statue of Shaheed Bhagat Singh should be put up in place of the small statue in the city. He also demanded that the chowk where the statue was placed should be named after Bhagat Singh. He said a special drive should be launched for the beautification of the chowk.


Virk files complaint against SAD MLA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 17
Mr Bhola Singh Virk (a leader of the Lok Bhalai Party) yesterday filed a complaint with the Barnala police against Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, SAD MLA from Barnala, that Mr Keetu had threatened to kill him in the office complex of the SDM yesterday.

According to information, Mr Virk and Mr Keetu were called to the SDM’s office to settle the issue of presidentship of the Bhadaur Truck Union. Mr Virk was reportedly “elected” president of the Bhadaur Truck Union by a section of the union, by removing Mr Keetu, but Mr Keetu had not accepted this decision of the truck operators.

When this reporter contacted the Barnala police yesterday, he was told that the police had not registered any FIR against Mr Keetu on the basis of the complaint filed by Mr Vrik, but it had only written a DDR in this direction.

He was of the view that before registering an FIR, legal opinion would be sought.

However, no top police officer, including the Barnala SSP and the SP (D), could be contacted.


Probe bunglings, Law Forum urges CM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 17
The Punjab Law Forum (PLM) has urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to initiate an inquiry by the CBI into the alleged bunglings in the District Transport Department. A Press note issued here today by Mr Charanpal Singh Brar and Mr M.M. Behal, president and secretary, respectively, of the forum, said they had written to the Supreme Court and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner in this connection.

They said if a proper inquiry was held in to the working of the department, large-scale corruption would come to light. They said as per the report of a newspaper, a driving licence had been issued in the name of a person who had died eight years ago. Mr Brar and Mr Behal said if an investigation was held into the properties of employees and officials of the department, it would be found that they had collected assets disproportionate to their salary. They said the situation was the same in other districts. Anybody who wanted to get his genuine work done had to satisfy touts ‘employed’ by officials for dealing with the public. 


Demarcation issue to dominate MC meeting
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
Issues of re-demarcation of municipal wards and fresh reservation of these wards are likely to dominate the House pre-Budget meeting on March 19.

The increase in wards has perturbed BJP and Akali councillors who reportedly blame the top-level leadership for failing to re-demarcate wards during its five-year rule.

The new power scenario has tilted the balance in favour of the Congress councillors who may exert influence the demarcation according to the voting pockets.

The issue of reservation of certain wards into open and reserved categories for female and Schedule Castes is also likely to be in favour of the Congress councillors.

The House has, in its agenda, sought approval for increasing refreshment allowance for the Commissioner, and Additional and Assistant Commissioners to nearly double.

The Commissioner will now be able to spend Rs 4,000 per month while the Additional Commissioner and the Assistant Commissioner Rs 1,500 and s 1,000 respectively, per month.

For the first time the corporation will put the Rs 394-crore development and sewerage treatment plant for the Ravi action plan for approval before the House after the Pakistan Government had objected to the effluents passing in its territory via the Ravi.

The issue of unauthorised colonies is also likely to come up. Many such colonies were allowed to come up due to political influence.

The meeting is to be held after a gap of nearly four months. The last meeting was held on October 29 to discuss development and projects.


Probe bunglings, CM urged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 17
The Punjab Law Forum (PLM) has urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to initiate an inquiry by the CBI into the alleged bunglings in the District Transport Department.

A Press note issued here today by Mr Charanpal Singh Brar and Mr M.M. Behal, president and secretary, respectively, of the forum, said they had written to the Supreme Court and the Chief Vigilance Commissioner. They said if a proper inquiry was held in to the working of the department, large-scale corruption would come to light. As per Press report a driving licence had been issued in the name of a person who had died eight years ago.


Four-laning of road to be over in 2 years
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Minister for Public Works, claimed that the four-laining of the national highway from Jalandhar to Wagah border would be completed in next two years.

At a press conference here yesterday Mr Bajwa said that Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee during his visit to the holy city on the occasion of coronation ceremony of Maharaja Ranjit Singh had approved the four-laning of Amritsar highway.

However, the Union Government had given no money so far, he said. He said after the Budget session he would meet the Union Transport Minister and demand the approved money.

He alleged that the Akali-BJP Government not only drained the treasury but also put a burden of debt to the tune of Rs 55,000 crore on the state. He said the state government would issue a white paper regarding the economy of Punjab before March 20.


Farmers urged to use certified seed
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 17
More than 2,000 farmers, from all over the district participated in a kisan training camp held at Kahnuwan, 15 km from here, today. Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R), Minister, was the chief guest.

Experts from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, emphasised the importance of the zero-pattern crop to reduce the cost of production. They advocated timely sowing and watering, besides minimum use of fertilisers.

They also advised farmers to get their soil samples tested before the cultivation of the crop.

The use of certified and disease-free seeds was recommended for getting the maximum produce.

The farmers were advised to go through the literature published by the university and follow the recommendations of agricultural scientists.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Bajwa said the cultivation of traditional crops was no longer beneficial and advised farmers to reduce the areas under cultivation of wheat and paddy and utilise these by taking up horticulture, floriculture, sericulture and the cultivation of vegetables.

Mr Bajwa said the farmers of Punjab would be in a position to benefit from the coming up of an international airport at Amritsar only if they adopted the latest technology and took up processing of agriculture produce for exporting it to the Gulf countries and other nations.

Mr Bajwa said the erstwhile Akali-BJP government had brought the state under a debt of Rs 40,000 crore.

In the field of development, Punjab had slid to the eighth position from the first position it enjoyed during the previous Congress regime.

An agriculture exhibition organised on the occasion was a big draw.

Mr Kuldip Singh Chandi, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Development, and Mr Gulzar Singh Sandhu, Chief Agriculture Officer, were also present.


Badal misled farmers: CM

Moga, March 17
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has charged his predecessor Mr Parkash Singh Badal with “misleading farmers in the state by saying that the Centre would not extend support of lifting the new wheat crop”.

Talking to newsmen at Malout near here last evening, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Centre had rather assured him of lifting the fresh wheat arrival from mandis during the ensuing procurement season next month.

He said the assurance was given to him by both the Prime Minister and the Union Food and Supply Minister during his recent visit to New Delhi.

The Punjab Chief Minister said he had also pressed upon the Centre to enhance the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat from Rs 610 to Rs 760 per quintal. He said the Union Government had also assured of speedy lifting of the food crop stocks lying in the open and in godowns across the state.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government would initiate the setting up of more industrial units in the Malwa region after the Malout Assembly poll. UNI


DC seeks report on encroached land
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 17
Taking strict note of the failure of government departments to remove encroachments on its land, the district administration yesterday issued fresh instructions to these departments to file complete status report about encroached land within a month. Addressing a meeting of district officials of all departments here, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Siva Prasad, said it was unfortunate that the departments concerned had failed to remove encroachments on their land so far.

“So much so that most of the departments, particularly the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation and the Improvement Trust had failed to submit status report about encroached land with the district administration even after the lapse of four months,” he said.

The Deputy Commissioner warned that action would follow against the erring officials. “It is very clear that government land can not be encroached upon in a day and the officials concerned should fix the responsibility of the erring employees, who failed to check this practice. We will take strict action against those officials, who will not comply with the government orders,” he added.

The Deputy Commissioner further said all departments should ensure proper follow up in the cases pending before different courts in such cases.

Case filed against SMO
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, March 17
A resident of Patiala, Gurminder Singh, has filed a complaint against the state of Punjab through Secretary, Health Punjab Civil Secretariat, and Dr Ajay Kumar Gupta, Senior Medical Officer, Bhadson and Public Health Centre Bhadson, District Patiala in the Punjab State Human Rights Commission.

The complainant has sought action against Dr Ajay Kumar Gupta for violating human rights by hindering the effective implementation of pulse polio campaign.

He has further prayed for a direction to the state of Punjab through Secretary, Health Punjab Civil Secretariat, to take immediate and necessary action against Dr Gupta.


12 held for 6.69-cr bank scam
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 17
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has unearthed a bank scam involving Rs 6.69 crore and have got a case registered at the police station vigilance bureau, Ferozepore, under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC read with Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Twelve persons, including five local bank officers and four partners of the bogus spinning mills and three others have been booked for issuing false delivery certificates.

It is alleged that Mukhtiar Singh and Jaswant Singh, former managers of the Mansa Primary Cooperative Development Bank, Rajinder Singh and Raminder Singh, Land Valuation Officers, Gurbachan Singh, a clerk in the bank, sanctioned a loan to the tune of Rs 6.69 crore in favour of a local mill and the loan amount was allegedly disbursed even before it was sanctioned.

Angrej Singh, Jagdev Singh, Gurdev Singh and Mohan Lal, all partners in the mill had obtained the loan for setting up four spinning mills when they reportedly set up only one mill. The other accused Kulwant Singh, Vinod Kumar and Wirsa Singh have also been booked for issuing bogus bills and delivering certificates for supplying machinery and building material etc for setting up the spinning mills. The police has so far not arrested any of the accused.


Woman held for son’s murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 17
The Majitha police yesterday claimed to have solved a case in which a woman allegedly murdered her son with the arrest of the suspect, Amarjit Kaur.

The SSP, Majitha, Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, said the woman, whose husband had expired about two years ago, had developed illicit relations with Kartar Singh (20) of the same village.

One of her sons, Swarn Singh, objected to the relationship and threatened to kill Kartar. On the night of March 2, she poisoned her son to death and buried him in the courtyard.

Ms Dwivedi said the suspect had confessed to her crime.


Man attacks wife, kills himself
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 17
Two persons committed suicide in separate incidents in the district in the past 24 hours.

Jagat Singh, a resident of Ferozepore, committed suicide last night by taking poison in the Heera Chowk area of the city. He was shifted to the Civil Hospital where he was declared brought dead.

As per the FIR registered with the police by the wife of the deceased, Asha Rani, Jagat Singh was a drug addict. He allegedly beat her up a few days back following which she shifted to her parents home in the city.

Last night prominent persons, including a municipal councillor, asked the husband and wife to live separately. Asha Rani said both agreed to the proposal although no legal divorce was taken.

In the evening, Jagat Singh came to her parents’ house and attacked her and her mother with a knife. She received injuries on the arms and legs. She was admitted to the Civil Hospital where she learnt that her husband had committed suicide.

A case under sections 452, 324 and 309, IPC, has been registered.

In another incident, Bittu (21), a resident of Phullo Mithi village, took poison and died in the Civil Hospital today. His body was handed over to the family members after a post-mortem examination.


Manchanda case: 9 acquitted

Moga, March 17
All nine murder accused, who had been challaned in the infamous case pertaining to the murder of Karamjit Singh Manchanda were acquitted by Additional District and Sessions Judge J.S. Chawala here yesterday.

The accused acquitted are Gurdeep Singh, Rajinder Partap, Narinder Pal, Gurmail Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Paramjeet Singh, Devinder Pal Singh, Iqbal Singh and Gurpreet Singh. They had been arrested and challaned by the Moga police on the alleged charge of killing Manchanda on the evening of October 9, 1998.

The deceased man’s wife, Lakhwinder Kaur, had got a case registered against the accused under Sections 302-307 of the IPC and also under the Arms Act.

The prosecution had produced about nine witnesses in the case. But all these witnesses turned hostile and the prosecution could not establish its case. UNI


PSEB cancels papers at 9 exam centres
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 17
In the wake of reports of mass copying at different examination centres in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts, the Punjab School Education Board has cancelled the Hindi paper of Matriculation and the General English paper of the senior secondary class at nine centres. The Hindi and General English papers were held on March 15 and 16, respectively.

There were reports of active involvement of certain district education officials and police personnel in allowing mass copying at centres in Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts. The board has threatened to remove the examination staff and shift the centres to the district headquarters if there was no check on copying.

The board authorities have decided to write to the state government about officials of the Education Department who were allowing mass copying.

A spokesman of the board said the fresh dates for holding the papers would be announced separately. The Hindi paper of the matriculation class held at Government High School, Godharpur, Government High School, Kaler Kalan, and Government High School, Bhondal (all in Gurdaspur district) had been cancelled. The General English paper of the senior secondary class held at Senior Secondary School, Jetibikha, Government Senior Secondary School, Bakhala, Government Senior Secondary School, Baba Bakala, Government Senior Secondary School, Baba Budha, Government Senior Secondary School, Ram Dass (all in Amritsar), Government Senior Secondary School, Dera Baba Nanak, and Government Senior Secondary School, Dhargabad (both in Gurdaspur district) had been cancelled.


History scholars urged to use original sources
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 17
The three-day 34th Punjab History Conference ended at Punjabi University here today. Presiding over the valedictory session, a noted historian, Prof Hira Lal Gupta, said that scholars should write their papers on basis of original sources.

Dr Chetan Singh of HP University, Shimla, suggested that scholars from Pakistan should also be invited in the conference’s sessions to present a comprehensive view of the history of the Punjab.

Dr Joginder Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, emphasised the significance of analyzing demographic trends in presenting historical analysis of Punjab studies. He stated that there was a need to study Urdu in order to be able to decipher old records and newspapers written in the language. Professor Gurdev Singh of the same university emphasised the need to relate the past with the present while Dr V.K. Jain from Delhi University called upon the scholars to not be bogged down by the various controversies in history.

Condolence resolutions were passed at the demise of eminent historians, including Prof Ravinder Kumar, Prof Sukhdev Singh Charak, Prof B.R. Grover and Prof S.K. Gupta, V.C. H.P. University, Shimla, during the last year.

Prof Parm Bakhshish Singh, chairman of the organising committee, informed that more than 45 papers had been presented during the conference.

Earlier in the day, Dr Sukhwant Singh of GND varsity, Amritsar, presented a paper on the native Press and public in the Punjab with special reference to the agrarian agitation of 1907. Dr Anjuman Ara, fellow, Regional Centre, Jammu and Ladakh, University of Jammu, presented a paper on the political relations between the chaks and the Mugals from 1526 to 1586.

Major General Jaswant Singh talked about Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s various transformations in the army of Punjab while Dr Farooq Fayaz from University of Kashmir presented a paper on Kashmir peasants discontent in the light of periodical migration to Punjab through a study of popular literature of Kashmir.

Dr Chhatar Singh of Kurukshetra University, while presenting a paper on railways and socio-economic changes, refuted the Cambridge concept of the expansion of railways in India as based on humanitarian considerations. Dr Amarjit Singh, also from the same university talked about the Muslim League and Punjab provincial elections of 1946 in the context of the role played by Punjab Muslim Students Federation and Pirs and Sajjide-Nashins.

Dr Subhash Sharma of Jammu University presented a paper on Sikhs under the Dogras in J & K and brought out that as a result of the community consciousness among the Sikhs and state government’s progressive policy, there was a gradual expansion in the representation of the Sikhs in government services.

Dr Shyamala Bhatia from Delhi University spoke on Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and the Jehad while Dr Shailender Singh Jamwal of Jammu University talked about Kashmir in 1947. Mrs Sindhu Kapur presented a paper on ‘The Journey of Kohinoor from Punjab to Britain.’ Dr S.S. Sohal presented a paper on ‘Peasants condition reflected in surveys’ and Dr Sudarshan Singh read a paper on ‘Position of women in Punjab: beliefs and practices.’


Probe sought into ETT test results
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 17
The ETT Anti-Corruption Action Committee today said that if the assurance given by the Chief Minister and the Education Minister to look into the matter of alleged bungling in the entrance test of ETT was not met to their satisfaction, they would intensify their struggle.

At a meeting held here today, ETT aspirants from Muktsar, Malout, Gidderbaha, Sangrur, Barnala, Budladha, Mansa and Rampura alleged that they were not selected due to the bungling in the entrance test. They said that till a decision regarding cancellation of the result of the entrance test was not taken, classes of newly selected students should not be commenced. They urged the government to take the decision soon so that the deserving candidates, who were not selected, do not have to suffer.

Mr Sukhvir Singh Poohla, convenor of the committee, said that they had informed the former Chief Minister and the Education Minister about the bungling when the entrance test was held in December, last year, but no action was taken. 


Impersonator in exam caught
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, March 17
Ms Surinder Kaur Kataria, District Education Officer (Secondary), Ferozepore, during a surprise checking of an examination centre at Government Senior Secondary School, Ladhuka, 15 km from here, found that Baldev Singh, a resident of Janisar Chack village, of Jalalabad subdivision, was appearing in the English paper of plus two examination in place of Surjeet Singh.

Ms Kataria said Baldev Singh was impersonating Surjeet Singh under roll number 179532. 

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