Wednesday, March 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM woos Mahesh Inder Singh
Political equations change in Badal village
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), March 26
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, with a view to ensuring victory for the Congress-CPI alliance candidate, Mr Nathu Ram, in the Malout Assembly election visited the house of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, who contested as an Independent candidate against Mr Parkash Singh Badal from the Lambi constituency, to secure his support. This has initiated a process of change of political equations in this village again.

It is interesting to note that Capt Amarinder Singh had expelled Mr Mahesh Inder Singh from the party for six years as he has contested the last Assembly election against the official Congress candidate, Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana.

Apart from it, Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing a rally of Mr Abulkhurana during the poll campaign at Lambi said Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal was befooling people by claiming himself as a real candidate of party and cautioned people not to vote for him. Capt Amarinder Singh went to the extent of saying that Mr Mahesh Inder Singh would not be taken back in the party fold before the expiry of six years.

The Chief Minister who landed in the Field Hostel, Bathinda, drive straight to house of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, located near the house of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, along with hundreds of Congressmen and functionaries, including Mr Surinder Singh, MLA and Mr Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary.

Mr Gurnam Singh Abulkhurana, was not with Capt Amarinder Singh, when he left Bathinda for Badal village. Whether Mr Abulkhurana joined Capt Amarinder Singh at Badal village or not, could not be known.

However, the party rank and file has been taking Capt Amarinder Singh’s visit to the house of Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal as the beginning of another process of change in the political equations in the village.

In the past about six months, Mr Paramjit Singh Lalli, who is a close kin and was a staunch opponent of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, patched up with him (Mr Badal) along with another kin Mr Sanjam Singh Dhillon, who had defeated Mr Badal’s candidate in the panchayat elections for the post of sarpanch. Later, Mr Lalli was made member of Punjab Public Service Commission.

Another change in the political scene of this village took place when Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal joined the Congress shortly before the Assembly elections. However, the scene again changed when he decided to contest the election as an Independent candidate when the Congress High Command denied him ticket. Now, the visit of Capt Amarinder Singh to his house is being taken as a significant development.


Frame rules for high priests’ selection: Vedanti
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti has directed the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to frame rules and regulations for the appointment of Sikh high priests immediately.

In a communication to the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, the Jathedar said notwithstanding his direction issued to the SGPC on March 29, 2000, regarding framing the rules no action had been taken so far. He said after the resignation of Giani Kewal Singh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, and the retirement of Giani Charn Singh, Granthi, Golden Temple, criterion should be laid down to fill these posts.

The SGPC has not yet fixed qualification for the appointment of Sikh clergy causing controversy over appointments. On the other hand, the Jathedar, Akal Takht, has directed the SGPC to send a fact-finding team to Ghariala village where the Guru Granth Sahib had been reportedly placed in a tomb in violation of the edict issued by Akal Takht. Akal Takht has taken a suo motu action on the petition filed by the Khalsa Council. Mr Kuldip Singh Mann, a spokesman for the council, alleged that during the three-day annual festival in the memory of Sher Shah Wali and his disciple Chhapayhiye Shah, the “path” of Guru Granth Sahib was performed. The Khalsa Council also alleged that the holy book of Guru Granth Sahib was permanently placed in the tomb complex.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the fact-finding team of the SGPC has collected information regarding the violation of the edict. The Khalsa Council has also made a video film on the three-day festival. Mr Mann said the Khalsa Council would meet the Jathedar again so that action against the culprits could be taken.


Decision on panchayat poll likely today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The election fever may continue to keep Punjab in its grip for some more months as the state Council of Ministers is all set to approve the holding of block samiti, panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections simultaneously in June or July this year. A formal decision is expected tomorrow when the council holds its next meeting under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The Department of Local Government has already notified the holding of elections to the municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar and Ludhiana before the expiry of their present terms. The department has also notified the holding of elections to the newly constituted Patiala Municipal Corporation. The municipal elections are expected to be conducted simultaneously on May 19.

The important issue to be decided is whether to prepone the gram panchayat elections or hold the block samiti, panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections for the remaining term of the panchayats only. The term of the block samitis, panchayat samitis and zila parishads had expired in November, 1999.

Their subsequent elections were postponed for one reason or the other, the sources said, maintaining that preponing the gram panchayat elections may facilitate the holding of elections to panchayat samitis and zila parishads for their full terms from amongst the winners of the fresh elections. This would also save the state exchequer precious money. All legal aspects of the issue were being considered before taking a final decision tomorrow.

The Chief Minister, who was away to Malout in connection with the April 4 polling there, has made it clear that the Congress government would hold all elections as and when these become due.

“The idea,” he says, “is to take democracy to the grassroots level and empower panchayats and civic bodies to take their own decisions.” The elections to the SGPC too are due later this year.

Sources said besides approving the holding of panchayat elections, the Council of Ministers may take up a few other issues. But the immediate issue of political significance has been the holding of elections to the Malout assembly constituency where polling was deferred after the death of the Shiromani Akali Dal candidate, Sujan Singh, a former minister.

For both the ruling Congress and the main Opposition party — the Shiromani Akali Dal — the Malout Assembly poll has become prestigious. The entire political leadership of the state has been camping there.


MC ‘allowing’ change in land use
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Ignoring all procedures under the prevailing laws for change of land use from residential to commercial the local municipal corporation and the city Improvement Trust are “illegally” permitting commercial buildings on residential land.

The authorities are not taking into consideration even the security of the places like the circuit house where dignitaries usually come, as they are allegedly allowing the change in land use and construction of banquet halls and hotels in the vicinity of the circuit house.

Moreover, these commercial buildings have been constructed without any proper arrangements of parking which leads to parking on the Albert road, Court road and Rialto Chowk area.

The conditions become worse on the Albert Road, the portion between the Rialto Chowk and income tax/sessions court, as in this small stretch there are three big hotels. In addition to this, permission has been granted to establish three more banquet halls. On the Court Road there are already seven banquet halls.

The Amritsar Vikas Manch revealed that most of the conversions of land use has been allowed in the sanctioned development schemes of the improvement trust and sanctioned building town schemes of the municipal corporation. The manch alleged that the Acts under which such schemes had been framed did not allow the change in land use.

Prof Mohan Singh, president of the manch, urged the Chief Minister to direct the authorities concerned to resist from these practices and stop immediately the illegal construction around the Circuit House as the security of the Circuit House could not be compromised.


Stopping of grants irks councillors
Naveen S. Garewal and Iqbal Singh

Ludhiana, March 26
The Congress Government in Punjab is learnt to have taken a decision to reverse major decisions of the previous Akali-BJP government. The first casualty in this regard is the stopping forthwith the release of all development funds sanctioned by the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during his sangat darshan programmes.

Sources in the government revealed that the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, has issued directions to all Deputy Commissioners in the state, on March 15, asking them to stop the release of all pending funds sanctioned in sangat darshan programmes.

Recently when a group of councillors of the Khanna Municipal Council approached the Executive Officer of the council to enquire about the delay in the implementation of various development projects going on in the district, they were told that the funds had been stopped by the district administration. The Executive Officer told the angry councillors that he had received a wireless message from the Additional Deputy Commissioner, (Development), Mr A.K. Sinha. to stop the release of these funds, which were still pending to be released.

When contacted here yesterday, Mr Sinha confirmed that he had directed to stop the release of funds following the directions from the Punjab government. He said the funds would be released very soon.

The decision has led to great resentment among the people in general and the councillors in particular who say that with great difficulty they had managed the release of funds during the sangat darshan programmes of the then Chief Minister, Mr Badal.

Funds to the tune of Rs 1 crore were sanctioned by the former Chief Minister, at a sangat darshan programme held at Khanna on September 6 last. Of this Rs 8.9 lakh was meant for a road leading towards Khalsa School and Rs 4.77 lakh for the purchase of a generator for the main disposal of the local municipal council.

The government is learnt to have asked for the details of the funds already spent on various developmental projects. The details are being gathered from all over the state. The government hopes to save crores of rupees by holding back the sanction to the release of funds for the time being.

The funds will be released only after the projects are reviewed and their viability established to the satisfaction of the new government. This is reportedly being done on the presumption that Mr Badal had lavishingly sanctioned funds worth crores of rupees in view of the elections and without verifying whether these were needed or not. Moreover, he had not cared for the ailing economy of the state.


‘Golden Temple could be world heritage site’
Roopinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Richard A. Engelhardt is Regional Adviser for Culture in Asia and the Pacific. He was in Chandigarh today at the end of his tour of Punjab during which he went to various heritage sites, presented a UNESCO award to the people who had worked on the conservation of the Krishna temple at Kishankot and met conservationists, political and social leaders and architecture students. Richard studied archaeology in Yale University and was awarded a Ph.D from Harvard University. He has been working for the UN for 20 years and he started the international efforts to safeguard the Angkor Vat temples in Cambodia, while he headed the UNESCO office there.

The following are excerpts from an interview in which he spoke about the Golden Temple being declared a world heritage site and what needs to be done for conservation in Punjab:

Q: What brought you to the region?

Ans: This year, the Krishna temple at Kishankot in Gurdaspur district won the Award of Distinction, UNESCO Asia Pacific Heritage Award, for culture heritage conservation. We encourage the community to celebrate on the receipt of the award and I came to be a part of the celebration and officially present the plaque and to congratulate the people who have been working on the project. These awards were established by UNESCO to coincide with the millennium with the idea that as the world is rushing towards modernisation, we should do what we can to conserve the memory of the past and the skills and techniques that created our heritage, particularly our built heritage. Very often there is this idea that conservation work is only being done well by a few professionals in Europe and maybe in Australia and these professionals are always brought in to advise, whereas in fact when you look at the projects you see that very excellent work is being carried on locally all over Asia and we want to call attention to that.

Q: You have visited other places also. What have you found interesting?

Ans: One of the members of the close circle of advisers on UNESCO's future plans for the past five years or so is Gurmeet Rai who took me to the Golden Temple. We have been talking to the local people and also to the Chief Minister on whether or not it would be appropriate to pursue the world heritage nomination for the Golden Temple. These nominations always emanate from the owners of the site and from them, through the national government, to the UNESCO. So our organisation does not pick the world heritage sites itself. The people we met seemed very positive in wanting to go ahead with this and certainly UNESCO would very much encourage this because UNESCO wants that representatives of all cultures should be on the world heritage list and the absence of the Sikh culture would make the list less complete, less good. We also talked to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh about it and he was also very positive as well, saying he would support the nomination. A working group needs to be formed and the dossier has to be prepared for presentation through the Indian Government to UNESCO. In case of the Golden Temple, it would not be a difficult thing to do because so much has been written on it and much documentation has been done. Everything should fall quickly in nomination of the Golden Temple as a world heritage site, which would be an honour for the site. UNESCO also makes available various technical and other resources for conservation.

Q: What other sites did you see in Punjab?

Ans: The Patiala fort seems to be quite a jewel in the heritage of Punjab, and also for all of India, because this fusion of architecture and crafts there from India, not just Sikh and Mughal. It is also quite a daunting project, because it is so large. We know that the best way to keep a building is to use it and we have to think of what we are going to do with it before we start conserving it. We are exploring the idea of using it as a centre for training conservation craftsmen and artists, painting conservation and restoration etc. This could cause a groundswell for conservation because there is always a shortage of conservation workers. The Nabha fort could be returned to the private sector with government controls on its use and conservation safeguards, so that it can be utilised. This is just an idea that is being explored.


2 NRIs convicted for tax evasion
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Investigations carried out by the CBI into a case of massive tax evasion by two non-resident Indians has resulted in their being convicted by the British authorities. British revenue officials had charged the accused, hailing from Phagwara, with defrauding the British exchequer of the equivalent of Rs 15 crore in Indian currency by filing incorrect tax returns and claiming rebate on non-existent income by using fake documents prepared in India.

A letter received by the Chandigarh branch of the CBI from the Revenue Department in the UK today has, while appreciating the role of the CBI in the case, intimated the authorities here about the outcome of the case. A CBI Inspector, Bhori Singh, who carried out investigations at this end had gone to the UK a few weeks ago to submit his report and depose before the judicial court concerned.

According to sources, the accused, Sewa Singh Gill and Paramjit Singh Gill, who are brothers, had earlier been arrested by the British authorities at Walthamstow in Essex, for “cheating Her Majesty” by filing incorrect tax returns and failing to declare their true income and assets. In addition, the sources reveal that the duo claimed tax rebate on non-existent agricultural income.

Sewa Singh was charged on nine counts for failing to declare interest earned from investments in the Bank of Ireland and the Woolwich Building Society, omitting details of accounts held in the Royal Bank of Scotland and Handals Bank, both in Zurich, and filing an incorrect declaration of his assets and liabilities.

Paramjit Singh, on the other hand, faced four charges, including concealing accounts held at the Royal Bank of Scotland and the National Savings.

The British judicial authorities approached the CBI through Interpol last year, seeking assistance in the case and details of the accused’s assets and income sources in India, on which tax rebate was being claimed.

Investigations carried out by the CBI revealed that the duo had filed a number of fake affidavits, issued at Phagwara, besides forging letters of advocates and commission agents to show non-existent income.

CBI investigations also revealed that though the accused, along with some family members, owned about 100 acres of land, no income was being generated from it.

Copies of these fake documents and other evidence gathered by the CBI were submitted before the British court along with the statements of witnesses. Five other witnesses were also produced before the court in the UK by the CBI in support of its investigations.


Absorption of staff to be reviewed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The issue of the absorption of at least seven officials in the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority from sick industrial units, boards and corporations during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government came under scrutiny when the minister concerned, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, announced the review of the appointments today.

The absorption of the officials, including an Additional Chief Administrator (ACA), had reportedly been done by circumventing the service rules and regulations at a meeting of the authority held on December 21, 2001. The employees' union of PUDA had then protested against the absorption.

Talking to TNS, the minister said a decision to constitute a committee to look into various administrative decisions was taken at an authority meeting held in Chandigarh today. He said the decisions, including those on the absorptions, had been taken in undue haste without following the prescribed procedure. The committee would examine all cases before these were put up at the next authority meeting.

A steno — posted at PUDA's office at SAS Nagar — is related to an employee who was on the personal staff of the previous Housing and Urban Development Minister.

The absorption of two well-connected persons (from a sick industrial unit, Punwire) against two new posts has also come under scrutiny, it is learnt. The ACA, who is the wife of a bureaucrat, was working in PUDA on deputation before being absorbed.

Meanwhile, at the authority meeting the revised budget estimates for 2001-2002 and the budget for 2002-2003 were approved. The minister said emphasis would be laid on providing houses to the weaker sections.


Bajwa flays Badal on Sehajdhari issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Vice-President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), today assailed Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, and other leaders of SAD, for “crying foul” over the issue of interference of the state government in Sikh religious affairs.

Lambasting Mr Badal and his party colleagues, Mr Bajwa said they had “put the Panthic and Sikh religious affairs and other important issues of Punjab in the cold storage during the past five years and now suddenly their hearts have started bleeding for the Sikhs”.

He pointed out that the SGPC passed a resolution on November 30, 2000 to delete Sehajdhari Sikh voters from Sikh definition and lowering the age of electors from 21 to 18 years. The file in this case was sent to then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in December, 2000 and it remained with him for more than a year, but no order was passed. The Congress leader accused Mr Badal of having double standards.


Tohra loyalist transferred again
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 26
Mr Ranbir Singh, a former personal assistant to the then SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra has been transferred for the fifth time in less than three years.

While Mr Ranbir Singh has been transferred to the publication wing with immediate effect, Mr Harjit Singh, a former personal assistant to Bibi Jagir Kaur, has been given the important assignment of assistant secretary (section 85 gurdwaras).

Immediately after taking over as SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur had reverted Mr Ranbir Singh, a Tohra Loyalist, from additional secretary to assistant secretary. He was transferred to Kalgidhar Nivas, Chandigarh, in March, 1999.

He was transferred to the head office in Amritsar in July, 1999, and later directed to join the publication wing during the presidentship of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi.


2 Shiv Sena units dissolved
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 26
The district units of Shiv Sena, Gurdaspur and block Pathankot have been dissolved with immediate effect. However, Mr Ashok Sooden will remain the district president of Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) in Gurdaspur, according to a press note issued by Mr Vinay Jalandhari, senior vice-president, Punjab Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray).

Mr Jalandhari said all new units of the district would be formed within a month, as per the recommendations of the state President, Mr Pawan Gupta, and district president, Mr Sooden.


Dharna held against non-payment of salaries
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, March 26
Employees of the local municipal council today held a dharna in front of the office of the president of the council in protest against the non-payment of salaries for the past two months.

They did not let the president and councillors to enter the office for the annual budget meeting which was scheduled for today.

A number of councillors had to sign on the proceeding register outside the meeting hall and some of them did not sign the proceeding register in protest.

The employees threatened to disrupt drinking water supply power supply to street lights and sanitation system in the town if they were not given their salaries.

Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, senior vice-president of the council, in a press statement criticised the state government for putting the council into such a situation by forcing it to return the grants given by the previous government. Moreover, the state government had not sent the promised grant for February and March to pay salaries to the octroi staff.

As the budget meeting of the council could not be held today, it would further lead to a number of technical problems, he said.

Mr Surinder Mohan Tejpal, a councillor, in a separate statement said the government should dissolve the council.


In aid of patients’ attendants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Moving a step further towards what Fortis Heart Institute, SAS Nagar, chooses to call "complete health care" has started a rehabilitation centre and medical inn on its premises for the attendants of patients getting treatment here.

The idea to set up a rehabilitation centre was conceived keeping in mind the good old sarai in hospital campuses. The place pays special attention to the needs of patients, relatives and attendants. The first, of course, is closeness to the patient. Since the rehabilitation centre is a part of the main hospital building complex, the patient's relatives, find it convenient.

The relatives also find it affordable and even economical staying in the inn rather than in accommodation outside. The cost of a day's stay ranges from Rs 1,250 to Rs 2,000. There is also special arrangement for the maids, drivers or servants accompanying the family of the patient. They are charged Rs 100 a night for stay in rooms with bunks made in the basement.

The Chief Operating Officer, Fortis, Mr Shivinder Mohan Singh, says that the idea to start an inn at the hospital was actually need based. ‘‘The patient is generally more worried about the comfort of his or her relatives and so they were the first ones to give us the idea of starting such a place", he says.


Foetus found, team to probe case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
The local Civil Hospital authorities have dug out a 12-week-old foetus buried at Goniana town, 15 km from here, late last night, suspecting it to be a case of female foeticide and a team of four medical specialists has been constituted to investigate the case.

While the doctors, including Senior Medical Officer (SMO), Health Centre, Goniana, and a district Family Planning Officer, have been carrying out investigations in connection with the suspected case of female foeticide, in another case, the Civil Hospital authorities have placed a Class IV employee, Jaswant Kaur, under suspension when some material to be used for abortion was found from her residential premises. Official sources said the foetus was dug out by a team which carried out a search of Goniana town on the basis of an anonymous complaint. The foetus had been preserved at the local Civil Hospital, they added.

Dr P.N. Maini, Civil Surgeon, when contacted, said though the preliminary investigations revealed that the foetus which had been dug out was a case of threatened abortion, what had raised the suspicion was that the woman was already having two female babies and had undergone an abortion earlier also.

He added that the foetus would be sent to Medical College, Faridkot, for various examinations to determine the sex of the foetus, as it could not be determined by a naked examination. He said the team would investigate whether the abortion was induced or threatened. The identity of the woman was being kept secret so as to avoid any controversy till the report was received. Dr Maini pointed out that a campaign had been launched against female foeticide and even the medical and para-medical staff working in government-run institutions were being kept under watch.


Book SMO, Insaaf urges CM
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
The Insaaf International, a non-governmental organisation, today urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to register a criminal case against Dr Ajit Pal Singh, SMO, local Civil Hospital, for his alleged involvement in the issuance of fake medical certificates to the kin of prisoners and place him under suspension.

Dr Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary, Insaaf International, in a press note issued here today alleged that the local Civil Hospital authorities were trying to shield him.

She said in the earlier two inquiries conducted by the hospital authorities in the bogus medical certificate scandal, Dr Ajit Pal Singh had been indicted. She alleged that Dr Ajit Pal Singh had issued a number of false medical certificates to certain kin of prisoners lodged in Central Jail here to facilitate their leave from the judicial custody.

Dr P.N. Maini, Civil Surgeon, said a panel of two doctors — Dr A.S. Sidhu, District Health Officer, and Dr H.S. Dhillon, Assistant Civil Surgeon — had been constituted to probe into the allegations. They would submit their report with in a week.

He pointed out that in earlier inquiries Dr Ajit Pal Singh had requested that he did not want to get the inquiry conducted from certain doctors. He said as he had joined as Civil Surgeon here a few days ago, he was not aware of the facts.

Dr Ajit Pal Singh, when contacted, alleged that some vested interests were trying to defame him. He claimed that neither any inquiry was conducted earlier nor he was indicted.

He said the inquiry officer never summoned even the records from which the facts could have been verified.

He asked why the complainant was not furnishing an affidavit to the Civil Hospital authorities to substantiate the allegations.

He alleged that as he had exposed certain medical specialists on the union platform, he was being victimised.


Father’s illegal detention alleged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Narinder Singh of Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur district in a letter to Batala SSP has alleged illegal custody of his father Balbir Singh by the SHO and ASI of the Dera Baba Nanak police station. He alleged that his father was working at the residence of Dr Vijay Singh Ghai as a mistry when the SHO and ASI picked him up on March 22, since then his father had been untraceable.

In another case, the Bahujan Samajwadi Party has demanded the arrest of accused in the murder of one Bhawana who had died on January 25 this year in a letter to the SSP.

Parents of the deceased had alleged that their daughter was administered some poisonous substance due to which she died. They accused her husband Gagandeep resident of power colony Majitha road and other members of her in-laws’ family for this act. The BSP alleged that the police registered the FIR on the directions of the court only on March 19, 2002.

The party in a statement by general secretary Mr Ravinder Kumar has threatened to hold a protest rally in front of the SSP’s office if the police failed to nab the accused.


Dharna by scribes
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 26
Journalists of Gurdaspur and Dhariwal held a dharna on the GT road near Upper Bari Doab Canal at Dhariwal and blocked traffic for an hour. They were protesting against police action in a case in which Dhariwal-based reporter of a Jalandhar daily Yash Mahajan’s brother Jawahar Mahajan, mother Suhagwanti and others were attacked allegedly by nine Bajrang Dal activists and his shop was damaged and Rs 5000 in cash and two cameras were stolen at Dhariwal on March 5, 2002.

The Dhariwal Police had registered case against Dhariwal Bajrang Dal President Shiv Nandan alias Yodha, Sanjeev Kumar alias Ballu, Jasbir Singh alias Jassa and six others, but no action followed. SDM Gurdaspur Gurwaryam Singh and SP (Operations) D.S. Dhindsa yesterday reached the dharna and assured action within 48 hours after which the dharna was lifted. Meanwhile Mr Dhindsa announced that Dhariwal Additional Station House Officer Samir Singh would be sent to Gurdaspur Police Lines allegedly for misbehaving with a reporter.


Burning of ‘bir’ was accident: SSP
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 26
The burning of “bir” at Sotal Baba village, near Kurali, a few days ago was caused due to the negligence on the part of two minor daughters of the gurdwara granthi.

The SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, while addressing a press conference here today said the police did not see any involvement of miscreants, in the case.

He said the family associated with the gurdwara along with the village panchayat met him and said the incident occurred due to the negligence on the part of Manpreet Kaur and Gurpreet Kaur, the two minor girls of the family.

On the day of the incident the girls had gone to the gurdwara for lighting a lamp. Accidentally a match stick slipped from their hand and fell on the silk cloth in which the “bir” was wrapped.


Vikas Parishad official missing
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Mr Avinash Jain, Organising Secretary of the Punjab State Bharat Vikas Parishad, who has been suffering from depression, is untraceable since March 24.

His car was found abandoned, 60 km from here, on the Ropar-Nangal road today.

Suffering from a disease eluding diagnosis and relief for the past 30 years, Mr Jain opened the first branch of the parishad in Chandigarh and later expanded its network to 100 branches in the state of Punjab, the Parishad National Convener, Dr K. L. Passi, said here.

"Unable to bear the pain of his ailment, Mr Jain left his house in his car around 6 pm on March 24 and he or his body has not been found since then,’’ Dr Passi said.

He said Mr Jain’s wife, daughter, son and thousands of admirers were tense and worried as the social worker had been going through bouts of depression due to a prolonged ailment in the digestive system.


Mahant Sewa Dass cremated
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 26
The body of Mahant Sewa Dass Singh, President, All-India Akali Dal, Pheruman, and general secretary, Sadhu Sant Samaj, was consigned to flames here today. He was 55. He is survived by his wife and two sons. He died in New Delhi in the early hours today.

A large number of mourners, including Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon and Mr Mantar Singh Brar MLAs (SAD), Faridkot and Kotkapura, respectively, Mr Sukhinder Singh Dhaliwal, President of the state UCPI, Mr Jagdev Singh Jassowal, former MLA, Ludhiana and President Vishav Punjabi Sabhyacharak Manch, Mr Shamsher Singh Sanghera, President, All-India Sadhu Sant Samaj, Mr Jagir Singh Dardi, former MP, and Mr Manmohan Singh Brar, Chairman, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, and Mr A.Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, and several senior police officers attended his funeral.

Mahant Sewa Dass Singh took an active part in politics and observed 40 days’ fast at Bathinda in 1977 after the death of Mr Darshan Singh Pheruman for the acceptance of various demands of Punjab.


Rs 27 crore for shagun scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Punjab Social Welfare Department today reviewed the Shagun scheme for better implementation and will provide Rs 27 crore to 52, 941 daughters of Scheduled Castes families on the eve of their marriages, during the current financial year.

This was stated by Social Security and the Social Welfare Minister, Ch Santokh Singh, here today.


3 die in accident
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 26
Three persons were killed in an accident on the Kapurthala — Jalandhar road near Mansoorwal village on Sunday night.

The dead were identified as Ravinder Paul Singh, Dabbu Parshad and Manjit Dubey all from Jalandhar.

According to police reports, the deceased were going to Jalandhar from Kapurthala in a three wheeler when a Maruti car hit the three wheeler from behind resulting in the death of three occupants of the three wheeler. The driver of the car escaped from the site.


Sainik Institute opened
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Lt Gen Shantanu Chaudhary, Vajra Corps commander inaugurated Sainik Institute in the cantonment here yesterday. Setting up of the institute is part of the ongoing drive of creating welfare-oriented projects for men in uniform.


Diversify into other fields, farmers urged
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 26
More than 10,000 farmers from districts of Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar participated in a kisan mela here today organised by the Krishi Kendra of Punjab Agricultural University. Mr Khushhal Behl, Education Minister, was the chief guest. Dr K.S. Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, presided while Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, was the guest of honour.

Experts urged the farmers to be careful while taking up agronomic practices like timely sowing and harvesting of crops. They also emphasised on the balanced use of fertilisers and pesticides and testing of soil.

Mr Behl exorted agricultural scientists to take up intensive research to evolve cheap varieties and profitable crops. He also advised them to take up special projects under which they should organise marketing of the produce.

Mr Behl said Punjab had reached a saturation point in the production of wheat and paddy. The farmers were left with no alternative but to diversify in to horticulture, floriculture, sericulture, dairy farming and mushroom farming. Mr Behl released two books published by the university — “Uttam Kheti” and “Crop Calendar” on the occasion.

Dr Aulakh emphasised on the cultivation of sugarcane. Though the farmers, he said would not be able to compete in the international market for supplying sugar but molasses produced from sugarcane were used to manufacture B-grade alcohol and many chemicals which make the sugarcane industry profitable. Some industrialists, he said, had generated power by using the off-shoot of sugarcane as fuel. He advised the farmers to make use of vedanic wheat varieties like PW 34, PW 233.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha Deputy Commissioner, said the government procurement agencies in the district had targeted the procurement of 6.55 lakh quintals of wheat during the current season.


Dharna against shifting of paddy
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 26
Members of the Mansa Rice Shellers Association have been staging a dharna in front of the local office of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) since yesterday in protest against the shifting of paddy stocks outside the district for milling. Mr Raj Kumar Danewalia, president of the association, told mediapersons here today that the FCI had entered into an agreement with rice mill owners of other districts of the milling of paddy of the district. He said shifting of paddy stocks for milling to rice shellers outside the district would cause loss to the tune of lakhs of rupees on account of transportation to the FCI.

He urged Dr V.K. Singh, Senior Regional Manager of the FCI, Punjab region, to take steps for creating adequate storage capacity here for the storage of stocks of rice and stop shifting of paddy outside the district.


69 centres to procure wheat in Muktsar
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, March 26
Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, presiding over a meeting of officials of various procurement agencies, representatives of labour unions and farmers here said 69 procurement centres would be set up in the district to ensure the smooth procurement of wheat.

Mr Lal, in a press note issued here yesterday, said about 7.51 lakh metric tonnes of wheat was expected to come to the grain markets of the district in the season. He said the officials had been directed to ensure smooth, procurement and timely payments to the farmers.


Money wasted on non-essential items: PCMSA
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) has claimed that hurried attempts were being made by “henchmen” of the former Minister of Medical Education and Research to purchase non-essential items.

In a press release here, association president Hardeep Singh and general secretary Surinder Singla said orders for the purchase of liquid phenol at Rs 40 per litre were given at the fag-end of the tenure of the previous government even though it was available in the market at Rs 20 per litre. They said besides this a public sector undertaking which was engaged in making carpets, bed sheets and curtains had been asked to supply plaster of paris bandages in defiance of the drug policy of the state.

Demanding that such purchases be stopped immediately, they said an attempt was being made to waste money meant for health facilities on non-essential items. They said the orders for these items had been issued without following proper procedure and guidelines. They said even the purchase list made during the tenure of the former minister was not in accordance with the priorities decided by the hospitals.

Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Singla also claimed that Rs 25 crore had been collected from medical students. Non-Resident Indians besides from increasing charges for the various facilities offered by the hospitals attached to the government medical colleges in the state.


Civic poll rolls on display
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 26
Complying with the Punjab Election Commission’s instructions, the district administration yesterday displayed the preliminary revised electoral rolls pertaining to elections of village panchayats, Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads.

Deputy Commissioner K. Siva Prasad stated here yesterday, that people could inspect the electoral rolls at the offices of SDMs and BDPOs concerned. He added that the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) and Sub Divisional magistrates concerned had been assigned the task of District Electoral officer and Election Registration Officer respectively.

He added that the last date for filing claims and objections would be April 4 and these claims and objections would be settled on April 12. The Deputy Commissioner said that the final electoral rolls would be published and displayed on April 19.


Man shot at, cash looted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Three unidentified armed youth shot at Gopal Singh (24), a jeweller and a son of an Akali worker of Ajit Nagar here, last evening. The victim was critically injured in the shoot-out and the assailants fled from the scene after looting a bag containing cash and jewellery from his possession.

According to reports, two of the accused were already present at the incident site according to their plan. When Gopal was returning and was just a few yards away from his house the third accused fired a shot, which struck him on the face. The victim was admitted to Guru Ramdas Hospital where his condition is reported to be critical. The police has registered a case.


3 cops held for beating up youth
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 26
Three cops posted at the police chowki in Dhalh village, near here, were placed under suspension and arrested today for beating up a youth, when he allegedly failed to give them bribe.

The SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said the incident occurred yesterday. A youth of Sohal Majra village, Randhir Singh, had applied for a passport.

SPO Baldev Singh met Randhir Singh at the bus stand of Bahrampur Bet village and told him that his police verification in connection with the passport had been done and in lieu he should pay him Rs 250. Randhir Singh, however, told him that he did not have the amount with him. At this the SPO allegedly caught hold of Randhir Singh and in the ensuing scuffle the turban of the former got off from his head. The SPO then called two constables who brought Randhir Singh to the police chowki where he was beaten up. He was admitted to the Civil Hospital here.

The SSP said he had asked the DSP headquarters to conduct an inquiry which found the policemen guilty. A case has been registered.


Suicide by four of family
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 26
A man, his wife and two children committed suicide by jumping into Babban Pur canal 7 km from here.

The bodies were recovered yesterday by the police from the canal on the Malerkotla-Dhuri road.

According to information received, Sohan Lal (35) his wife Shashi (32) and two children Ritu (12) and Mitu (5 months) were living near the bus stand here.

They reportedly left home a few days ago and jumped into the canal to end their lives.

The police has registered a case in this connection. The reason behind the suicide is yet to be ascertained.


4 killed in road accidents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
Harjit Singh of Ferozepore and Nirmal Jeet Singh of Shikhawali village, died on the spot, while Sanjay Kumar was injured seriously when the car in which they were travelling, collided with a truck near Jeeda village, 25 km from here, on the Bathinda-Goniana road today.

A case has been registered against the driver of the truck who fled the scene.

In another accident, a youth died after he was hit by a vehicle near the railway station, Goniana town. Another person, Shivji Ram, died on the spot when a speeding vehicle hit him near Katarsinghwala village on the Bathinda-Mansa road. He was returning to Maur Mandi after meeting his kin.

Cases have been registered.


Businessman found murdered
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 26
Fear gripped residents of this historic town when Toti Ram, a local kiryana shop owner, was found murdered in his house.

A large number of residents, who attended the funeral of Toti Ram, earlier blocked traffic for about 4 hours to protest against the lawlessness and broke the windowpanes of a private bus. Information collected by TNS revealed that Toti Ram did not stay with his father, who was also a businessman. Toti Ram was found dead by his father, Mr Surja Ram, this morning when the deceased did not come to open the shop.

According to reports the accused came to the house of the deceased last night and attacked him mercilessly. After making Toti Ram incapacitated, the accused looted Rs 53,000 in cash and about 10 tolas of gold. A case has been registered.

Mr Raghubir Singh Chahal, DSP, said special police parties had been pressed into service to nab the culprits.


Electric wire stolen
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 26
Electric wires from 17 electric polls near Samrai village was stolen on Saturday night. Junior Engineer Punjab State Electricity Board R.K. Nayyar who reached the site said here yesterday that thieves cut 900 metres electric wires of 15 spans. One bundle was found later on.


End disruptive activities: VC men
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Following a long lull, supporters of Punjabi University Vice-Chancellors, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, today spoke up in his favour appealing to the state government to put an end to disruptive activities on the varsity campus.

Teachers aligned with the Vice-Chancellor, including Punjabi University Teachers Association president Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, presidents of the A class and B class Officers Association and conveners of various teachers bodies got together at a meeting held on the campus today. This group had been quiet ever since the Vice-Chancellors disappeared from the campus after the registration of criminal cases against him.

The group members today appealed to the district police chief to act judiciously to maintain law and order and restrain anti-social elements from disrupting the free movement on the campus. They said the forcible closure of the university gate should also be stopped and that this was crucial as examinations were around the corner and a peaceful environment was required urgently.

The members also felt concerned over the agony and pain suffered by teachers, students and employees at the hands of anti-social, anti-academic and selfish elements who indulged in deriving sadistic pleasure out of the sufferings of others. They said such elements had made the university an arena for fighting political battles and settling personal scores.

They issued a press release which was signed by PUTA president Dr Dalbir Singh Dhillon, PUTA joint secretary, Dr S.M. Verma, A Class Officers Association president A.S. Kohli, the B Class Officers Association president, World Sikh Council president BS Balluana, Sikh Intelligentsia Forum convener HS Pannu, Liberal Teachers Council convener R. K. Chaudhary, Progressive Teachers Front convener, S.S. Grewal and Teachers Welfare Front convener Tara Singh Antal.

Meanwhile, the Vice-Chancellor was asked to present himself at the sadar police station for the first time after two days of questioning in the office of the IGP. Following the question by the police, the VC remained closeted in a series of meetings till the evening.

On a call of JAC a dharna was organised in front of the VC office today. JAC in a fax message to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, has impressed upon that the Vice Chancellor be immediately removed from his post and his salary be stopped for being absent from duty while he was absconding to evade police arrest between February 24, 2002 and March 23, 2002.

The JAC has decided to intensify agitation against the VC.


Employees, teachers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 26
The district units of the Democratic Employees’ Front (DEF) and the Democratic Teachers’ Front (DTF) today staged a dharna in the district administrative complex here. Members were protesting against the non-payment of salaries, arrears, medical expenses, and the GPF to the employees.

The protesters were led by Mr Swarnjit Singh, district unit president of the DEF and Mr Harcharan Channa, district unit president of the DTF.

Mr Tarsem Lal, district unit secretary of the DTF, Mr Hardev Rathi, district unit secretary of the DEF, Mr Suraj Parkash, president of the district Para-Medical and Health Employees Front, Mr Avtar Singh “Kaptan”, district president of the Pensioners’ Union, Mr Amritpal, district president of the Pharmacist’s Union also addressed the gathering.

Later, a deputation of the organisations met the District Treasury Officer, here to bring the irregularities, allegedly committed by various treasury offices in the district.


PTU zonal festival concludes
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 26
The two-day zonal cultural festival of Punjab Technical University (PTU) concluded at the Malout Institute of Management and Information Technology late last night.

Students from 26 technical institutes of the Malwa belt participated in the festival to compete in 28 events of different categories.

The chief guest, Dr H.S. Gurm, vice-chancellor, PTU, in his inaugural address stressed the importance of cultural programmes in personality development. He said by hosting its first-ever cultural festival the institute had secured a distinct place in this field, he added.

Dr Gurdip Singh, Principal of the institute, also spoke on the occasion.

The following are results:

Poem Recitation: Gautam Sharma, GZSCET, Bathinda — 1; and Mukti Shukla, GTBKIET, Chhapianwali — 2.

Elocution: Rishi Tejpal, LLRIET, Moga — 1; and Smarti Kotiwal, GZSCET — 2.

Debate: Mukti Sharma, GTBKIET, and Gautam Sharma, GZSCET — 1; and Puneet Kaur, MIMIT, Malout, and Pranav Khanna, SBSCET, Ferozepore — 2.

On-the-spot Painting: Sumeet, MIMIT — 1; and Pranav AIET, Faridkot — 2.

Folk Song: Jagdeep Randhawa, GTBKIET — 1; and Gurkirpal Singh, LLRIET — 2.

Western vocal solo: Sumeet Singh, MIMIT — 1; and Jagjit Singh, SBSCET — 2.

Geet Gazal: Summet Singh, MIMIT —1 ; and Pawan Sood, GTBKIET — 2. Shabad/bhajan (solo): Deepti, GTBKIET — 1; and Preet Kang, GBSCET — 2.

Group shabad: MIMIT (Malout) — 1; and GTBKIET (Chhapianwali) — 2. Group song (Indian): MIMIT (Malout) — 1; and GZSCET (Bathinda) — 2.

Group song (Western): SBSCET (Ferozepore) — 1.

Quiz: Sachin Garg, Jagmeet Singh, and Vishavdeep Bali, MIMIT, — 1; and Karambir Singh Sandhu, Ankit Chambial, and Mukti Shukla, GTBKIET — 2.

Short story writing: Saba Sharma, GZSCET — 1; and Gagandeep Kaur Gill LLRIET — 2.

Essay writing: Hitesh Vir Gupta, MIMIT — 1; and Kumar Sethi, AIET — 2.

Poem writing: Mukti Shukla, GTBKIET 1; and Gautam Sharma GZSCET — 2.

Collage making: Himanshu, GTBKIET — 1; and Priya Sharma, GZSCET, — 2.

Poster making: Neha Gupta, MIMIT, — 1; and Pranav Kumar, AIET, — 2.

Classical dance: Sukhpreet, GTBKIET — 1. Mimicry: Vikas Kalra, AIET — 1; and Sandeep Suman, GZSCET, — 2.

One-act play: GZSCET (Bathinda) — 1; and AIET (Faridkot) — 2

Cartooning: Parnav, AIET — 1; and Neha Gupta, MIMIT — 2.

Bhangra: GZSCET (Bathinda) — 1; and MIMIT (Malout) — 2.

Skit: GTBKIET (Chhapianwali) — 1; and MIMIT (Malout) — 2.

Clay modelling: Sumeet, MIMIT, — 1; and Shiv Shanker Singh, GZSCET — 2. Rangoli: Himanshu, GTBKIET — 1; and Neha Gupta, MIMIT — 2. Giddha: MIME (Malout) — 1; and GTBKEIT (Chhapianwali) — 2. Mime: MIMIT (Malout) — 1; and LLRIET (Moga) — 2.


+2 papers at two centres cancelled
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, March 26
The Punjab School Education Board today cancelled papers of plus two examinations at two centres on the basis of reports of copying given by flying squads. The papers were cancelled under Chapter VI of the General Regulation of Examination.

The board has cancelled the general English paper conducted at Government Senior Secondary School, Bandala, Jalandhar, on March 16. The political science paper conducted at SAS Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Paldi, Hoshiarpur, on March 25 is the other one cancelled.

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