Wednesday, March 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sehajdhari issue to be taken up with Centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
The Punjab Council of Ministers at its meeting here today decided to convey to the Union Government that the right to vote to the “sehajdhari Sikhs” in the SGPC elections should be kept intact.

Capt Amarinder Singh told TNS after the meeting that a communication in this connection would be sent to the government soon. This issue had been hanging fire for the past two years as previous government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal kept it under the wraps.

About two years ago, the Union Government wrote to Mr Badal to know the state government’s stand on this issue as the SGPC had unanimously recommended to the Union Government that by amending the relevant provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, the word “Sehajdhari” should be omitted. Elections of the SGPC are held under the Act.

In the past two years, the Union Government sent about eight reminders to the Badal government but it remained silent on this issue. However, it had been reported that before the result of the recent Assembly elections, Mr Badal had told the officials concerned to convey to the Union Government that it should accept the SGPC’s recommendation in this connection. However, no communication was sent to the Union Government .

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Union Government had only sought the comments from the state government pertaining to the “sehajdhari Sikhs”. There was no mention of “non-Sikhs” in its letter, he added. He said his Council of Ministers had reached the conclusion that “a Sikh remains a part of his community and follows his religious beliefs even after cutting his hair. He should not be denied the right to vote”.

However, the most contentious issue is pertaining to the definition of the “sehajdhari Sikh”. Whether a person born in a Sikh family but not actually adhering to Sikh way of life and symbols can be defined as “sehajdhari Sikh” or a person not born in Sikh family but having full faith in the Sikhism can be called a “sehajdhari Sikh”.

The SGPC and Akali leaders say by taking the benefit of the “sehajdhari Sikh” Clause in the Act, a number of non-Sikhs have been enlisted as voters of the SGPC. 


Punjab gets ready for wheat procurement
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
With less than a fortnight to go for the official agencies to enter grain markets in Punjab to start procuring wheat, the Union Government is still to announce the minimum support price for the crop.

The procurement of wheat is being viewed as a litmus test for the new Congress government in the state as the Shiromani Akali Dal, the main Opposition party, has reportedly expressed its reservations on the operations being conducted to ensure satisfaction of the farming community.

To ensure that the procurement starts on April 1 throughout the state, the Food and Supplies Minister, Mr Lal Singh, addressed a meeting attended by the Secretary and Director of Food and Supplies besides the Senior Regional Manager (Punjab) of the Food Corporation of India (FCI), the Managing Directors of Markfed, Punsup and the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation and all Deputy Commissioners here yesterday.

Initially the Chief Minister was to address this meeting. But a bereavement in the family forced him to leave for the Union Capital to attend the funeral of Ms Natasha Singh, daughter-in-law of a former Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr Natwar Singh.

It was decided at the meeting that in the districts, the Deputy Commissioners would be the overall supervisory officers who must review every morning the progress of the procurement operations.

Various issues like making grain markets ready for procurement with provision of basic amenities to farmers, release of early payment to sellers, lifting of grain to warehouses, arrangements for storage space and movement of already procured foodgrains were discussed at the meeting.

In the morning, when Chief Minister Amarinder Singh addressed a joint meeting of Deputy Commissioners and SSPs, he made it clear that every effort should be made to make wheat procurement a smooth and effective affair so as to dispel the canard spread by the Shiromani Akali Dal that the new government would not be able to procure the crop to the satisfaction of farmers.

The prestige of the new government, it appears, is at stake. “We foresee no problems. Within a day of his assuming office, the Chief Minister was in New Delhi and called on the Food Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, who assured him full support in the procurement operations,” said Mr Lal Singh, claiming that he was present at that meeting.

“Finances for procurement are to be released by the Reserve Bank of India on a guarantee from the Union Government. We do not anticipate any problem on that count also,” the Food Minister said maintaining that the official agencies might have to procure 1.2 lakh tonnes of wheat. An equal amount of the crop purchased last year was still lying in Punjab. Besides, huge stocks of paddy were also there.”We have to create space for the new crop,” he added .

The farmers as well as the procurement agencies are awaiting the announcement of the MSP which inspite of numerous recommendations in the past by various agencies is announced at the last moment. At one stage the Agricultural Prices and Costs Commission had suggested that the MSP should be announced even before the sowing of the crop so that farmers knew what to expect for their produce. But their suggestion has hardly been accepted.


Bridge urban-rural divide: Hari Jaisingh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 19
The print and electronic media in the country is at a critical juncture today and it is time for the media to reorient itself with a view to reflecting popular feelings, besides exposing social evils. This was stated by Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor of The Tribune, while delivering a keynote address at a regional workshop on “Media and human development with focus on agriculture” at Punjab Agriculture University (PAU) here today.

He said: “The English-language newspapers in particular have a very crucial role to play as they have to act like a bridge between the rural masses and the urban elite. The quality of communication for this is important as the urban reader has to be made to feel interested in the rural areas. If we can achieve this, it will be the biggest service to the country”.

More and more newspapers and the electronic media, he said, were becoming market-oriented and were forgetting their social responsibility. Punjab saw social reformers fight injustice. With not many social reformers left, it was now the responsibility of the media to take over and play a constructive role. He said there was a perceptible rise in expectations of the newspaper readers and other segments of society.

He said the media should refrain from sensationalism. The real challenge lay in remaining truthful and fulfilling the aspirations of people. Mr Hari Jaisingh said more and more media persons were doing political reporting and hence an overdose of politics in the media. He said at The Tribune a deliberate effort was on to check this. Attempts were being made to address issues related to ground realities rather than politics.

Commenting on the contribution of the PAU to agriculture research, Mr Hari Jaisingh said it had produced excellent scientists who felt restricted in their research due to lack of funds. The media should join hands with institutions like the PAU to make people aware of the ground realities. He said the Indian farmer had been caught unawares in the post WTO scenario. While, the farm scientists had to guide the farmers, it was the media that had to spread awareness among them.

He said: “Reporting on agriculture or issues relating to the rural areas could be a very satisfying experience”. He fondly recalled the coverage of a conference for rural women early in his career and said this was one assignment that he cherished as it gave him an insight into the thinking of rural women. “We cannot forget our roots, hence it becomes all the more imperative that the English-language newspapers bridge the urban-rural divide”, he added.

The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, lauded the role of the media in educating the farmers and said the university had produced some fine journalists who were educating rural folks.

He said the production of food-grain in the country had reached a plateau and increasing yields had become a daunting task for experts. “Even though enough foodgrain was being produced in the country, rising population was upsetting the foodgrain reserves”. This was further hampered by lack of funds for research and development. Nearly 93 per cent of PAU funding went into the salaries of employees while the remaining was spent on maintenance and recurring expenses.

Mr Ajit Bhattacharjea, Director, Press Institute of India, was the distinguished guest on the occasion.

The workshop will witness several sessions on media and human development over the next two days.


Amarinder for PPCC working president
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
The president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Capt Amarinder Singh, has requested the party high command to appoint a working president of the PPCC.

He said here today that he had conveyed this to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. But as she was busy selecting party candidates for the Rajya Sabha poll, the issue could not be pursued further, he added.

There are several persons in the run for this post. Among the front-runners is Mr H.S. Hanspal, a senior leader of the party.


Mann’s grandfather ‘honoured’ Gen Dyer
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
The SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, has opened a new front against Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, member of Parliament and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today. He said General Dyer, who was responsible for the Jallianwala Bagh massacre on April 13, 1919, was honoured by paternal grandfather of Mr Mann, a close relative of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, at Golden Temple.

Mr Badungar said there was not an iota of truth that the “siropa” to General Dyer was presented on behalf of the SGPC.

He said Congress leaders like Prof Darbari Lal, an MLA, must correct their general knowledge that the SGPC was not even formed when the “siropa” was presented. The “mahants” had full control over the management of Sikh shrines at that time and hence the Sikhs had to launch a relentless struggle to flush out such anti-Sikh elements from the holy places. While the Jallianwala massacre and the presenting of “siropa” occurred in 1919, the SGPC came into being in 1925.

It may be mentioned here that Prof Darbari Lal had condemned the SGPC for denying “siropa” to Capt Amarinder Singh during his maiden visit to the Golden Temple after becoming Chief Minister of Punjab. Interestingly Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra — both former presidents of the SGPC — had also condemned the SGPC management for denying “siropa” to the Chief Minister.

They had stated that nobody should be discriminated against in the “guru ghar” (gurdwaras).

Prof Darbari Lal had pleaded that if General Dyer — a villain of the Jallianwala Bagh — could be honoured why “siropa” was denied to Capt Amarinder Singh whose ancestors had fought for the Sikh cause since the Mughal times.

Mr Badungar said Congress leaders must update their knowledge that after the formation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act many senior Congress leaders had sent telegrams to the Akali leadership stating that they had won half the battle of independence. He said even before the annual election of the SGPC President it was resolved that the tradition of presenting ‘siropa’ to the visiting dignitaries should be stopped as all were equal in the “guru ghar”.

Talking to TNS, Prof Darbari Lal claimed that Capt Amarinder Singh was a better Sikh as compared to Mr Parkash Singh Badal as the latter was responsible for removing three SGPC chiefs and two jathedars unceremoniously in the recent past. He said Mr Badal was also being accused of violating the age-old ‘Sikh maryada’ (traditions) and denigrating Akal Takht. However, Mr Badungar said Prof Darbari Lal with such remarks was trying to please Capt Amarinder Singh for vested interests.


Liquor likely to be costlier
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 19
The Indian made foreign liquor (IMFL) and country liquor is likely to be costlier during the coming financial year as the auction of liquor vends of Amritsar and Gurdaspur has registered a phenomenal increase in revenue. The Excise Department, fetched a revenue of Rs 164 crore from the auction. The Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, has been personally monitoring the auction.

While Amritsar district yielded a revenue of Rs 109.77 crore as compared to Rs 93.31 crore the previous year, the adjoining border district of Gurdaspur fetched Rs 55.56 crore which is Rs 3.16 crore more than the last year. The auction last year had yielded Rs 52.40 crore. The total increase registered for Amritsar and Gurdaspur was more than 22 per cent as compared to the corresponding period last year.

Another peculiar aspect of the auction was that a powerful liquor lobby succeeded in getting more than 90 per cent auction bids in its favour. The local liquor cartels could get only 10 per cent of the total vends auctioned today.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.S. Puri, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner Gurdaspur, Mr D.S. Kalha, Commissioner of Excise and Taxation Department, Mr Harbhupinder Singh Nanda, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, were also present at the time of auction.

Earlier the auction of liquor vends in Jalandhar and Kapurthalla districts had yielded excise revenue of Rs 178.56 crore.


Simultaneous poll to panchayati raj bodies
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
The Punjab Government has decided to hold elections to village panchayats, block samitis and zila parishads simultaneously.

If everything goes smoothly and no legal complications arise, the elections to these bodies will be held in either the last fortnight of June or in the first week of July. There are about 12,500 village panchayats, 140 block samitis and 17 zila parishads in the state.

This was disclosed here today by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He told TNS that Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, had been asked to start the process in this connection. At the end of June, farmers would be by and large free as the transplantation of paddy would be nearly complete by then.

While the elections to the zila parishads and block samitis should have been held in October, 1999, the poll to the village panchayats was due next year. Capt Amarinder Singh said legal opinion had been sought on whether the village panchayats could be disbanded before their term ended to advance the elections to these bodies.

The objective behind holding the elections simultaneously was to finish this job in one go. It would not only result in the saving of crores of rupees of the state but also spare the state administrative machinery from conducting the elections again and again. A lot of time and money were spent on holding the elections to panchayati raj.

The previous Badal government continued to dither on holding the elections to the zila parishads and block samitis, obviously for political reasons, for about two years. It continued to make statements on the holding of the elections but implicitly conveyed to the officials concerned not to proceed in this connection. Even though the Union Government withheld a number of grants to the state for not holding the elections, it did not make the Badal government act.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the issue was also discussed in the Council of Ministers today. He said his government would like to hold the elections to these bodies on the pattern adopted by the Beant Singh government. The Badal government had made a number of changes in the election process of such bodies.

The proportion of the members to be elected direct and indirect to the zila parishads and block samitis would be decided soon. The legal formalities would also have to be completed in this connection before announcing the date of the elections. After deciding the number of members to be elected direct and indirect, the district and blocks would have to be divided into zones. It would take at least two months to complete the exercise.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that the elections to the municipal corporations and a number of nagar panchayats and municipal councils were also due. The Badal government, he said, made changes in the set-up of wards in various urban centres for political reasons. Measures would be taken soon to make the wards compact units.


Police questions VC’s ex-PA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 19
The local police picked up Ms Kiran Sharma, who had joined Punjabi University along with Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia as his personal assistant when he had taken charge, last evening for questioning and let her off after two hours.

According to sources, Ms Sharma was questioned for nearly two hours after being picked up from her residence on the university campus. The sources said she was let off after being questioned regarding the charges of moral turpitude against the Vice-Chancellor by a girl student.

The joining of Ms Sharma in the personal staff of the Vice-Chancellor had raised many eyebrows. She had functioned as personal assistant to the Vice-Chancellor for quite some time before she was appointed technical assistant in the Department of Punjabi Development Studies. Eyebrows had been raised at her joining this department as she had been charged with not being qualified for the job. The sources said Ms Sharma had remained associated with Dr Ahluwalia though she had been recruited in the Punjabi Development Studies Department.

The sources said she had been incognito after the registration of a criminal case against the Vice-Chancellor and had been seen in the university for the first time a few days ago. They said the police had questioned her regarding the charges of moral turpitude levelled against the Vice-Chancellor as she had been closely associated with him.

Meanwhile, the personal staff of the Vice-Chancellor was again summoned to the police station today. They included Deputy Registrar Santosh Kumar, Nodal Officer Gursharan Singh Nagi, personal assistant to Pawan Kumar, steno Neeraj Kumar and Assistant Public Relations Officer Harminder Singh Khokhar. Their questioning could not be held till late in the evening.

Meanwhile, a few members of the Class-I Employees Union came to the police station to express solidarity with the employees summoned. Union president Ajit Singh Kohli said the employees were there only following the directions of the Vice-Chancellor and they should not be harassed to reveal his whereabouts.

The Executive Engineer of the university today obeyed the orders issued to him by Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr R.N. Pal, asking him to close the new gate constructed along with a girls hostel of the university on the main road facing the Urban Estate. Workers were seen reconstructing a wall in front of the gate today.

The Joint Action Committee also held a dharna in front of the Vice-Chancellor’s office. The protesters expressed shock at the delay in taking action against the Vice-Chancellor and demanded that he be declared absent from duty. They also demanded the appointment of another person as officiating Vice-Chancellor and the arrest of and an inquiry against Dr Ahluwalia.


Notice to Punjab in VC case

The Bench issued notice to the state of Punjab for March 21 on a petition filed by the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, seeking anticipatory bail in an attempt to murder case.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, counsel for the petitioner claimed that there was nothing to establish the connection of the petitioner with the alleged offences.

It may be recalled that the Bench had earlier ordered that an inquiry into the matter should be conducted under the supervision of the Inspector-General of Police concerned. Seeking the quashing of the FIR registered on March 5 at the police station Sadar in Patiala on the complaint of Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, the VC had contended that he had no grievance against the alleged victim. Moreover, he had nothing to gain from the alleged attack.


Consumer Protection Day a fiasco
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 19
A meeting convened by the district administration to observe Consumer Protection Day yesterday became a mere formality as representatives of various departments were not present to answer the queries of consumers invited for the meeting.

Representatives of various consumers’ associations, who raised issues concerned with the protection of rights of consumers, have expressed resentment about the absence of officials of municipal council, Water and Sewerage Board, Telecommunication Department, Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority, Improvement Trust etc. They said the meeting became meaningless in the absence of officials.

Representatives of associations said they had come to the meeting with the hope that they would be able to interact with officials of different departments and tell them about the problems faced by the consumers. However, they resented that Consumer Protection Day had been reduced to a mockery.

Mr Prem Bhatia, President of the Consumer Welfare Council, said the meeting lost its meaning when the issues raised by them were not responded to due to absence of the officials concerned. He said they felt disappointed when they learnt that no representatives of some departments were present. He said he raised the issue with the Additional Deputy Commissioner, who was presiding over the meeting, and urged him to ensure that representatives of all departments of the district were present at the meeting in future.

Mr Bhatia said he raised issues like potable water, drainage and sewerage system, parking spaces and toilets in public places in the city. He said the problems faced by old-age consumers, when they go to different offices, were also brought to the notice of the district administration. He said although there was provision for special windows and queues in all offices for the benefit of old age consumers, none of the offices in the city gave that facility. He alleged if officials of all departments were present at the meeting, these issues could have been brought to their notice. Mr Bhatia said the day lost its significance as the meeting held to observe it did not show any result.

Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, ADC, when contacted, said all officials invited for the meeting were present. He added that during such meetings the presence of officials of all departments was not necessary.

He added that any function or meeting convened to observe Consumer Protection Day was aimed at educating and creating an awareness among the consumers about their rights.

Mr Grewal said the purpose of observing the day was served by the meeting during which officials of the District Consumer Forum had educated those present about the rights of consumers.

He said the problems of consumers were also heard during the meeting and these have been referred to the respective departments for solutions.

He said if some association had any problem regarding the protection of consumers’ rights, it could contact the official concerned independently and every effort would be made to solve the problem.

He further added that some of the issues raised by some representatives of the consumers’ associations did not come under the purview of the Consumer Protection Act, although they concerned the residents of the city. He said special meetings would be called to tackle such issues in which officials of all departments would be invited.


Court orders police protection for two
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 19
The Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday directed Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police to give “adequate protection” to two Barnala residents — Karnail Singh and Harjeet Singh — reportedly rescued by CBI’s investigating officer from alleged illegal detention.

Mr Justice V. M. Jain of the high court ruled: “Considering the fact and circumstances of the case, it is directed that it shall be the personal responsibility of the SSP to see that proper protection is provided to safeguard their lives and property till further orders”.

In a petition seeking protection for the two, it was earlier stated that an independent investigation into the matter by the IO had revealed that “the antecedents of Inspector Surinder Pal Singh and accomplices were very bad and under the circumstances, the possibility of their causing any harm to the detainees could not be ruled out”.

It may be recalled that Mr Justice Jain, while taking up the petition filed by brother of the detainees, Mr Kuldip Singh, had earlier ruled: “It is a fit case where necessary directions should be issued for the registration of an FIR and investigation of the case by an independent agency”.

The Judge had clarified: “The necessity for ordering such an investigation has arisen after considering the fact that the main allegations are against Inspector Surinder Pal Singh, in charge of the CIA staff, and that a large number of other officers were also involved. Further, as per the report of the warrant officer and findings given by the District Judge (Vigilance), petitioner Kuldip Singh and his companion were beaten up by the inspector and other policemen when the warrant officer went to the CIA staff along with them for executing the court orders in a habeas corpus petition concerning his brothers Karnail Singh and Harjit Singh”.


Scrap Punjab Medical Council, says IMA
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 19
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has sought the scrapping of the Punjab Medical Council, constituted by former Punjab Health Minister Manoranjan Kalia allegedly by taking “his own men” in the last month of the SAD-BJP rule in the state in contravention of the Section 5 of the Punjab Medical Registration Act 1916.

The IMA’s state unit has shot off a letter to Mr Ramesh Dogra, Punjab Health Minister, alleging that the 11-member council was illegally constituted by the then Health Minister, by nominating his favourites in January this year without taking any of the NGOs in confidence under Section 5-A of the Medical Registration Act, even as the said amendment of the Act had expired in 1982.

“The constitution of the council was unconstitutional since the amended Section 5-A was incorporated in the Act in 1980 for a period of two years only and had expired in 1982. Since then the council had almost been lying defunct and was running under the control of the Director, Research and Medical Education, Punjab, till it was reconstituted by Mr Kalia in January. But this was unconstitutional since the amended section on the basis of which it was formed stood expired,” Dr Sanjiv Sharma, state secretary of the IMA, said.

He said what was more surprising was that it was constituted by Mr Kalia even though the state government had earlier submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court that it would be constituted as per the provisions of the Section 5 of the Punjab Medical Registration Act-1916. Dr Sharma demanded that the council should be revived as per the Act in force.


Judicial panel to probe corruption charges
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 19
The Congress government in the state will soon set up a judicial commission to probe the allegations of corruption against the SAD-BJP regime ministers.

This was revealed by the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, during a function organised by his supporters at New Grain Market in Kartarpur township near here yesterday.

Choudhary Jagjit Singh alleged that through the wrong policies and rampant corruption in higher offices during the SAD-BJP regime had virtually brought the state on the brink of bankruptcy, but the Congress government would make allout efforts to bring state’s economy back on the rails. “The state government will soon set up a judicial commission, as promised in its poll manifesto, to probe the allegations levelled against the SAD-BJP ministers including the family members of the then Punjab Chief Minister,” he said.

He said that a ‘white paper’ on the economical health of the state was being prepared by the Punjab Finance Minister. “There will be no delay in implementing the welfare schemes and policies committed by the Congress during the Assembly elections even if we are facing financial crisis at the moment due to wrong policies of the previous government,” he added.

Later Choudhary Jagjit Singh distributed cheques worth Rs 15 lakh for various development works to the representatives of 20 villages. Others who spoke on the occasion include president of the district unit of the Congress Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu, Mr Darbari Lal, MLA and former president of Kartarpur Municipal Council, Mr Daljit Singh Ahluwalia.


Bank recruitment on ‘fake’ caste certificates
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 19
More than 200 recruitment are alleged to have been made by a bank by submitting fake caste certificates.

Flouting the recruitment procedure, most of the appointments were made solely on the submission of caste certificates. The BSP has also raised the issue and alleged that “almost all these candidates are in some way related to some high-ups in banks or have got the job on some financial consideration”. Consequently, more than 200 candidates were inducted into the banking services, Mr Mohan Singh Bagowalia, BSP, Secretary Punjab, alleged.

In a letter to the Union Finance Minister, Union Law Minister and Chief Justice of India, the BSP alleged that castes shown by the candidates did not appear in the order of Schedule 1950 as per the bank record. Mr H.K. Parekh, Joint Zonal Officer of the bank, said the bank had no knowledge of the alleged dealings. 


OBCs’ plea to implement Mandal report
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 19
The OBC Welfare Association has urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh to implement the recommendations of the Mandal Commission report as was promised by the Congress during the election campaign. Meanwhile it said the SAD was defeated in the Assembly elections because it had ignored the interests of the OBCs.

The association also demanded that the benefit of reservations should be given to the members of 65 OBC castes, equally without any income limit of the family. It urged that while issuing the OBC certificate to its members the condition of income should be deleted.

Mr Jarnail Singh Poohla, president of the association addressing a meeting of members of the OBCs here today said that they had helped the Congress in the elections with the hope that it would fulfil their demands. He said that although Mr Parkash Singh Badal, claimed that he was a messiah of the backward classes but, he did not take any step to given benefits to them.


Dowry death: residents want in-laws arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 19
The OBC Welfare Association has urged the Haryana police to arrest the in-laws of Manju Bala Sain, a city girl, who was allegedly killed for bringing inadequate dowry.

Residents of the city also held a rally to show resentment against police inaction in the city and at Sirsa in Haryana, where in-laws of Manju live.

Manju (23), a resident of the local Parasram Nagar who was married to Prem Kumar of Sirsa, was allegedly killed by her in-laws on March 16.

The police booked Manju’s husband and his parents Kailasho Devi and Johri Lal under Section 304B of the IPC.

The residents today shouted slogans against the inefficiency of the police which had failed to arrest the alleged culprits despite the registration of a case against them.

They gathered in large number to condole the death of Manju. Later they left for Sirsa to force the Haryana police to arrest the alleged culprits.

Various social organisations, and women welfare societies of the city were also present.

Mr Jarnail Singh Poohla, president, OBC Welfare Association, said that they would launch an agitation till the in-laws of Manju were not arrested.


Plan to set up religious board
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 19
The two-day centenary celebrations of the establishment of Gursagar Mastuana Sahib, near here, today concluded with an announcement by Sant Baba Balwant Singh Sirhorrawale, patron of the centenary celebration programme, that a board comprising acharayas of all religions would be formed to settle religious issues.

Addressing the sarv dharam sammelan, he said this board would be an elected body and would have a constitution.


5 killed in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 19
Five persons have been killed and four injured in three different accidents in the district. Balwinder Singh, a constable of the Railway Protection Force, was killed in an accident near Brindpur village on the Kapurthala-Sultanpur Lodhi road on Monday. Three persons were killed on the spot when the tempo they were travelling in met with an accident near Subhanpur village on the GT Road, on Sunday. A 3-year-old child was killed in a collision between a jeep and a bus.


OSD honoured
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 19
Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha, Officer On Special Duty to the Punjab Chief Minister, announced that all roads of Kharar area would be repaired soon. Steps would be taken to open more schools in Kharar and SAS Nagar. She was speaking here at a function organised by the residents to honour her.

Earlier, various speakers thanked the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh for appointing Mrs Garcha as OSD. She was honoured by leaders of as many as 22 traders organisations.


Expert defends growing of BT cotton
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 19
Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), while hinting that a lobby was opposing the cultivation of BT+ cotton in the country, yesterday said when the same could not cause any harm in the USA where it was being cultivated then, how it could harm in India.

Addressing a gathering of farmers on the occasion of the Regional Kisan Mela here, he advised the farmers not to purchase the seed of BT cotton being sold by unscrupulous elements in the country after bringing the same from Gujarat.

He advised them to grow only those varieties which had been recommended by the PAU after thorough experimentation on their yield potential and resistance against insect, pests and diseases.

Dr Aulakh also advised the farmers to sow paddy nursery around May 10 and transplant between June 10 to 20. The practice of early sowing of paddy adopted by the farmers put unnecessary strain on the already scarce underground water. On the other hand, the sowing of cotton should be completed by mid-May after starting it from mid-April. He said late sown cotton was more prone to attack of insects-pests and diseases. Dr Aulakh appealed to the state government to release canal water between mid-April to mid-May and then after June 10 so as to facilitate the sowing of these major crops in time.

While sharing the major research highlights, Dr Govinder Singh Nanda, Director of Research, informed that the PAU had released four new varieties of kharif crops. The New American Cotton F-1861 had an average yield of 545 kg/acre and was resistant to cotton leaf curl virus disease.

The sugarcane variety CoJ 88 contains 17 to 18 per cent sucrose in December and was tolerant to red rot disease. Its average yield of plant crop was 340 q/acre. The new ‘moong’ variety SML 668 had bold grains with good cooking quality. It gave an average yield of 450 kg/acre. The new ricebean variety RBL 6 was resistant to fungal bacterial and viral diseases and gave an average grain yield of 600 kg/acre.

Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director Extension Education, advised the farmers to avoid excessive use of nitrogenous fertiliser on crops as it encouraged the incidence of insects and diseases. Only recommended doses of fertilisers should be used, he said.

He advocated the judicious use of pesticides as the over use resulted in the development of toxicity in crop produce and resistance in insect pests. He said the facilities for raining in these occupations were available at the Krishi Vigyan Kendras and exhorted the farmers to make maximum use of these facilities.

Thousands of farmers from the cotton belt of Punjab and adjoining areas of Rajasthan and Haryana attended the mela and evinced a keen interest in the field demonstrations and agro-industrial exhibitions. Dr Major Singh Aujla, Director of the Regional Station, disclosed that more than 100 government, semi-government, private and cooperative organisations had put up stalls in the exhibition to educate the farmers regarding various services and facilities provided by them. About 5,000 bags of the seed of different improved varieties of crops and 2,000 kitchen gardening vegetable seed kits were purchased by the visiting farmers.


Varsity study to help formulate fiscal policies
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 19
To facilitate the government in formulating its economic policies, Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to undertake a study and prepare a report on the economy of the state. Ten teachers of the Department of Punjab School of Economics have been engaged for the purpose. The university has sanctioned adequate grant from its own resources for the purpose.

Experts will conduct surveys on panchayats, rural banking, rural industry and marketing.

A research project for rural development has been prepared keeping in view the problems relating to research and extension services in the rural areas. For this, the university will send senior professors of various disciplines to foreign universities to understand advanced teaching and research facilities there.

A centre for Punjab politics has been established in the Political Science Department.

The university has engaged senior teachers of the Hindi Department to undertake the study of Hindi literature written in Punjab.

The Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh said the study of political history before 1980 would be undertaken with personal visits to freedom fighters of Punjab by a team of researchers. First-hand information would be incorporated in the survey. A centre for immigrant studies has also been established to undertake research in social, political and economic condition of NRIs.

The university has decided to give 20 per cent royalty in advance, 5 per cent more than before, to every publication published by the university in addition to the infrastructure to researchers.


PSEB to set up grievances cells
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 19
The PSEB has decided to set up grievances cells at the circle, divisional and subdivisional levels to expeditiously redress grievances of consumers regarding wrong or inflated bills.

An official press note issued yesterday by the board said it had been observed that a large number of consumers were approaching the government at various levels regarding redressal of grievances in connection with wrong or inflated bills.

It said accordingly it had been decided to set up grievances cells at all levels. It said at the subdivisional level, all Assistant Engineers posted in the operation subdivisional would listen to grievances in their offices on every Monday from 10.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. It said all grievances would be redressed within three days of receipt.

It said at the divisional level, all Additional Superintending Engineers and Senior Executive Engineers would listen to grievances in their offices every Monday and would redress them within a period of 10 days.

It said at the circle level the Senior Executive Engineer attached with the Deputy Chief Engineer or SE (Operations) would act as a nodal officer for the redressal of grievances received in the subdivision or division office. It said the officer would review the complaints once a month.

It said it had also been decided that all Engineers-in-Chief (Operations) would review all complaints regarding billing related to their zones in the technical review meetings every month with the SE (Operations).


Medical colleges to get autonomy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 19
Health and Family Welfare and Medical Research and Education Minister Ramesh Chander Dogra today said medical colleges in the state would be granted autonomy.

He said the government would soon decide on allowing a major part of the money earned by providing medical facilities to the public to remain with these colleges.

The minister said this at a seminar on ‘HIV and AIDS update 2002’ organised at the local medical college. The minister said councils or institutions would be formed and the money earned would be spent on improvement of medical institutions and on improvement of facilities to patients.

Dr S.P. Deewan disclosed that there were 40 lakh HIV positive persons and 30,000 persons were suffering from AIDS. He further said Punjab had 3000 HIV positive cases and 131 AIDS patients, with 1034 HIV positive cases and 31 AIDS patients in Amritsar.

Earlier, the minister inaugurated an administrative block in the college.


Tech festival results
Our Correspondent

Malout, March 19
Students of various engineering institutes participated in Tech Fiesta 2002, which concluded at the local Malout Institute of Management and Technology on Sunday. The results of various events held during the festival are as follows.

Paper presentation-Pukhraj Singh of Malout Institute of Management and Technology (MIMIT) (1), Nitin Arora and Priyanka of MIMIT (2), Hobbies-Vishal Pathya of MIMIT (1), and Puneet Trehan of MIMIT (2), Rangoli- Saloni and Himanshu of Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa Institute of Engineering and Technology (GTBKIET) Chhappianwali 1; Neha and Shivani of MIMIT (2).

Extempore- Mukti Shukla, GTBKIET (1); Jagmeet Singh, MIMIT (2);

Instrumental solo-Manish, MIMIT, (1); and Vishavdeep Beli of MIMIT (2).

Punjabi solo song-Keerat Kaur, Fatehgarh Sahib (1); Sumeet Singh, MIMIT and Deepti, GTBKIET (2).

Hindi solo song-Manish of MIMIT (1); Ankush Mittal of Bathinda and Pawan Sood of GTBKIET (2).

Western solo-Sumeet Singh of MIMIT (1); Keerat Kaur, Fatehgarh Sahib (2).

Technical quiz-Varun Bansal and Sujit Pathja, MIMIT (1); Harpreet Singh and Pukhraj Singh, MIMIT, (2).

Creating writing-Achin Gupta, MIMIT (1); Himanshu, GTBKIET (2).

Debate-Saloni and Mukti, GTBKIET, (1) Karunbir Singh and Richa (2).

Brushless painting-Nidhi Aggarwal, MIMIT, (1); Himanshu, GTBKIET, (2).

Collage making-Saloni and Himanshu, GTBKIET (1); Meenakshi Mittal and Vishal Bhatia, MIMIT (2).

On the spot s/w development-Salil Gupta and Gaurav Arora, MIMIT (1); and Birender Sandhu and Harjinder Singh, MIMIT (2).

Open s/w submission contest-Harjinder Singh, Baljit Singh, MIMIT and Rashpal Singh and Harsimaran Singh, GTBKIET (1) and Surjit Patheja, MIMIT (2).

Choreography-GTBKIET (1), MIMIT (2).

Group dance- (GTBKIET) (1).


Students demand grace marks
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 19
Class X students who appeared in the optional computer studies paper on March 16 urged the Punjab School Education Board authorities today to give them grace marks as the question paper was not according to the syllabus. This was demanded in a letter to the authorities concerned, signed by 30 students.

They said they would meet the authorities concerned and apprise them of the situation.

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