Friday, March 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt interfering in Sikh affairs: SAD
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, March 28
The Shiromani Akali Dal and the Congress made scathing attacks on each other while the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and the Panthic Morcha, despite their separate pandals , announced their decision to contest the coming SGPC elections unitedly, as the political conferences at the historic Hola Mohalla festival passed off peacefully here today.

Conspicuous by his absence was former Chief Minister and the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who according to party sources, could not make it here due to his hip injury.

The Shiromani Akali Dal leaders, including the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa; former Punjab Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh; the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, the former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, and the SGPC Secretary, Dr Kiranjot Kaur, took the new Congress government in the State to the task not only for its “vindictive actions by targeting SAD leaders and workers” but also criticised it for its alleged “direct interference in Sikh religious affairs by supporting voting rights to Sehajdhari Sikhs”.

Both Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra presided over their separate political conferences at the adjoining pandals where they criticised the NDA government for passing the controversial POTO Bill at a joint session of Parliament.

On the other hand, the Congress leaders criticised not only the previous SAD-BJP government for its “misrule and rampant corruption” but also blamed it for taking Punjab backwards. Among those present at the conference besides Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh were Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, both Ministers; Mr Bir Devinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Saini, both MLAs, and several other leaders.

While most of Congress leaders appreciated the steps taken by the new Government to wipe out corruption and provide “clean and transparent governance”, they also wanted that steps be taken for the development of the State besides provision of basic amenities. The problem of drinking water in the Kandi area, for example, was highlighted by local MLAs at the conference.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said that victory or defeat in elections should not make a political party or its leadership to be vindictive and start “harassing leaders and workers of the Opposition”. He said that registration of a case and arrest of an Akal MLA from Barnala was an example maintaining that every where there were disputes within the Unions and such bodies.

“We appreciate the drive against corruption. We welcome that but it does not mean that you start harassing your political opponents. Not only that an MLA from Anandpur Sahib, and now a Minister, has recently forcibly taken possession of a Singh sabha gurdwara here. The election to the management committee of the gurdwara is a few months away but the men of the minister forcibly took possession of the gurdwara. I appeal to the Chief Minister to put an end to all such actions directed only against political opponents of the Congress.”

Mr Dhindsa maintained if one looked at the results of the last Assembly elections in 93 seats contested by Dal, it got 2 per cent more votes than its main opponent the Congress. If the votes of the rebel Dal candidates are also taken into account, our share goes up by another three to four per cent.

“If the Congress government wants to give message of providing corruption-free government, it should not have included tainted ministers of the previous Congress government in its new Council of Ministers. These ministers were indicted by the Lok Pal,” he said claiming that working on the basis of personal or political enmity was not good governance and should be discarded henceforth with. He also criticised the Congress government’s decision on Sehajdhari Sikhs’ issue.

Mr Dhindsa further said that Shiromani Akali Dal was always supportive of the demands of farmers of the State. “I accompanied Mr Parkash Singh Badal to a meeting with the Prime Minister and the Agriculture Minister some days ago on the issue of the MSP. We hope that the NDA government would announce the MSP very soon.

“We are confident of our win in Malout,” he added.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh assailed the Congress assertions on financial bankruptcy of Punjab. Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar was critical of government interference in gurdwaras, including entry of police in a Singh Sabha gurdwara.

At the Congress rally, both Mr Charanjit Singh Channi and Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang supported the steps taken by the new Government. They said that the previous Government besides indulging in rampant corruption had squandered the State coffers.

The Punjab Chief Minister said that his government would come up to the expectation of people and put the state back on rails for development. “We are going to get more power, more industries and more job avenues for our unemployed youth. We are also getting new cropping pattern as we have decided to go for Bt cotton. We have to make farming remunerative and attractive also by opening avenues in agro-processing,” he said.


Bhattal case takes new turn
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 28
The corruption case against the Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, took a new turn yesterday evening when Vigilance Bureau officials moved an application in the court of a Special Judge to withdraw the application which they had moved on January 2 in connection with the return of challan presented against her. The Special Judge has adjourned the hearing to May 2.

Ever since the case has been registered at the Vigilance Bureau police station, Ferozepore, against Ms Bhattal under Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 409 of the IPC for her alleged involvement in bungling in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund the authorities concerned have been playing a hide-and-seek game with the investigations. Ms Bhattal has also alleged time and again that a section of bureaucrats, political opponents and a senior official of the Public Relations Department, Punjab, have been involved in a conspiracy to implicate her in a false criminal case.

The Vigilance Bureau officials presented a challan in the case in the court of the Special Judge on December 27, 2001. Showing undue haste, the officials moved an application through their DSP, Mr Khushi Mohammad, for the return of challan on January 2, barely five days after filing of the same.

In that application, DSP Mohammad mentioned two grounds for getting the challan returned from the court of the Special Judge. They were that the court of Special Judge, Chandigarh, was the proper forum where the challan should have been presented as the trials were to take place in the court under whose territorial jurisdiction the offence was committed and since Ms Bhattal was a public servant as the Chief Minister of Punjab when she allegedly committed the offence, it was necessary to take sanction for prosecution from the competent authorities before taking cognisance of the offence as envisaged under Section 19 of the Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 197 of the Cr P. C. The required sanction was not obtained from the competent authority.

However, the Vigilance Bureau officials again changed their stance and moved an application in the court of the Special Judge yesterday making a request to return the application which they had moved for the return of challan presented by them in the court.

Though a number of officials of the Vigilance Bureau were contacted to know the reasons for the change in their stance, no one came forth with any comment. All officials kept mum when asked whether the application moved by them in the court of the Special Judge yesterday was under the direction of the higher Vigilance Bureau authorities or it was the decision of the local Vigilance Bureau authorities. A senior official also declined to comment when asked whether the change in their stance was due to change of government in the state.

A case was registered against Ms Bhattal when the Special Judge, Bathinda, in whose court an application was moved by Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, president of the District Amateur Boxing Association, in connection with the bungling in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, ordered a probe into the same by the Vigilance Department.


Bt cotton triggers debate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The permission given by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC) on March 26 for the commercial cultivation of transgenic Bt cotton has triggered a debate.

While a large section of the farmers, including the Bharti Kisan Union leader, Mr Bhupinder Singh Mann, have welcomed it, some sections and environmentalists like Vandana Shiva have opposed it saying that though the commercial cultivation of transgenic seeds has been around for a decade, its impact is yet to be studied fully.

What is ‘’Bt’’ cotton?

The Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, says this is the abbreviation of a soil-born bacteria, Bacillus thuringiensis. Bt is a changed version of the use of microbial pesticides in the form of the development of crop-resistant varieties. Since the late 90s, Monsanto has been working on Bt cotton by transferring a particular gene from that soil-born bacteria to provide ‘’in-plant’’ control of the family of lepidopteron insects — bollworms — that have played havoc with cotton.

‘’Bt cotton is safe to all non-target organisms, including man, useful insects, wildlife and marine life.... There is no chance of the accidental transfer of pollen from Bt cotton to contaminate another crop because cotton does not cross-pollinate any other crop or weed’’.

The GEAC has given permission for the commercial cultivation of Bt cotton to Punjab, Haryana, Andhra Pradash, Gujarat and Maharashtra. The recommended varieties are Bt Mech 12, Bt Mech 162 and Bt Mech 184. Cottonseed availability is for 15,000 hectares of the country’s 9.5 million hectares under cotton.

The Director, Agriculture, Dr S.S. Bains, says: “This is just the beginning. Genetically modified mustard oil, corn, soya, potatoes, etc, are being worked upon. We are entering phase two of the Green Revolution by the increased use of genetic engineering or biotechnology, which will mean evolving crops and vegetables that are genetically resistant to insects, pests and diseases and will require lesser sprays of chemicals, give better yields and also protect the enviornment’’.

Over the years the area and production/productivity of “white gold’’ has shrunk, leading to an economic setback to farmers in the south-western districts, the state’s cotton belt.

It is officially estimated, says Mr Mann, that the losses to farmers in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan on account of the bollworm alone totalled Rs 1,363.61 crore. Together with western UP, this north-zone cotton belt contributes 33 per cent of the total cotton production in the country with 22 per cent of the total area.

Cotton production in Punjab was down from 23.50 lakh bales (1992-93) to 5.95 lakh bales (1998-99). It is estimated to touch 13.07 lakh bales (2001-02) against 11.99 lakh bales in 2000-01. A bale is of 170 kg, says the Joint Director, Mr Gurdial Singh, in charge integrated pest management.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is a strong votary of Bt cotton. He had been questioning the Akalis why they did not pursue this with the Centre, if they claimed to be farmer-friendly. He has already given directions that the necessary steps should be taken to ensure the distribution of genuine Bt cottonseed.

Sowing starts next month. PAU experts recommend early sowing (beginning April 15) and completing it before May. The university has tested new hybrids like white gold, GK-151 and Ankur-651. Its recommended varieties are early maturing LHH-144 and LH-1556 and the desi variety LD-327.


Punjab gets 36 cr for damaged crops
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 28
The Ministry of Defence has released an ex-gratia compensation of Rs 36 crore to Punjab for paying them to farmers whose crops had been damaged during the movement of troops in the border areas in the wake of December 13 terrorist attack on Parliament.

Compensation under the scheme will cover damages to standing crops, fruit trees and orchards around airfields and vital installations and damages to fences, sheds, structures connected with agriculture and other agricultural properties, a Defence Ministry note said here today.

Rajasthan has been paid a compensation of Rs 13.8 crore.


Dharna against ex-sarpanch’s death in custody
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 28
A large number of people today blocked traffic and staged a dharna in front of the district administrative complex here in protest against the alleged killing of a former sarpanch of Alluna due village due to torture by Sirhind Police.

Mr Iman Singh Mann, son of Simranjit Singh Mann also joined the dharna. People raised slogans against the police as well as against the state government. They were demanding registration of a murder case against the police personal responsible for the killing. They also demanded that a board of doctors should conduct the postmortem.

Later, they lifted the dharna on assurance by the SSP, Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, that culprits would be booked after conducting an enquiry.

Mr Pawan Kumar, Sarpanch of Alluna village said that last night at about 8.30 a police party in police vehicle, accompanied by another blue-coloured Maruti car came to the village and enquired about the residence of Mr Jagjit Singh, a former sarpanch of the village and member, block samiti. They went to his house and took Jagjit Singh in custody and told his son that they were taking him to the Sirhind Police Station as he is wanted in some case.

He said later some villagers reached Sirhind police Station later in night and the police told them that it had not brought anyone from Alluna village.

The Sarpanch said that to their surprise they then received a message from Basant pura police chowki that Jagjit Singh had died in an accident and his body was lying in the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib. He claimed that even the chowki in charge admitted that he had not seen any accident or its clues on the site.

He said that the village panchyat had even lodged a report with the Rajpura police in this regard. He said that Jagjit Singh had no enmity with any one, neither he had ever visited police station nor any case was pending against him in the court or any police station. He was a widely reputed man and was a supporter of Congress MLA Raj Khurana.

The Sarpanch demanded that a proper enquiry should be conducted as to why he was picked up and tortured and case should be registered against the policemen responsible.

When contacted SSP B Chandra Sekhar, he said that the Sirhind police had registered a case against Manjit Singh, resident of Pola village under Section 364, IPC for abducting a woman Lavjeet Kaur, alias Laddi. He said that on a tip off the Sirhind police raided the house of Jagjit Singh at Alluna village and the girl was not found but he informed the police about the hideout of the girl. The SSP said as the former sarpanch was being taken to the hideout, where he developed chest pain and was immediately taken to the Civil Hospital Fatehgarh Sahib, where he expired.

The SSP denied any torture by the police and said the police had handled the case in legal manner and a postmortem by a team of doctors under the supervision of Magistrate was got conducted promptly. He said that as Jagjit Singh had died in police custody a case has been registered vide FIR No 68 at Police Station Sirhind under Sections 304,34, IPC against the police party headed by Surjeet Singh ASI. He said that no body would be spared.

Meanwhile, Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said that he had directed the SDM, Fetehgarh Sahib, to conduct an inquest under Section 174, Cr PC immediately so as to know the circumstances behind the death of Jagjit Singh. He said that a report to the National Human Rights Commission had also been sent.

Mr Raj Khurana, MLA, who was present at the Civil Hospital Fatehgarh Sahib, said that the relatives of the deceased demanded that the post-mortem examination should be conducted on Rajpura as they did not have faith at the doctors here. He said that they had requested the District Magistrate to send the body to Rajpura.

He demanded a judicial probe and action against the guilty. Till the filing of this report the body was lying at the Civil Hospital here and the administration had decided to send the request to the District Magistrate, Patiala, for further action.


SGPC members may raise siropa issue
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 28
Some of the members of the SGPC belonging to the SAD may take up the alleged ‘siropa scam’ with the party high command during the high-level meeting being held here tomorrow.

The Akali Dal has convened a meeting, one day before the Budget session to plan strategy. The Budget session of the SGPC will be held at Teja Singh Samundari Hall on March 30.

In his official note, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, Secretary, SGPC has raised serious objections over the alleged ‘substandard’ ‘cloth for ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) supplied by a firm. During the various tests the cloth of the ‘siropa’ was found to be of substandard. While a senior official of the SGPC had recommended a cut of about Rs 16 lakh another SGPC functionary recommended the cut of only 1.7 lakh only. The difference between the two recommended cuts is more than 14 lakh.


People ‘not safe’ in Congress rule
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 28
Former Punjab Law Minister and senior Akali leader, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg alleged that a dacoity and murder at Talwandi Sabo, a murder at Bathinda in broad day light, a firing incident in the city and incidents of looting and snatching were strong indications that the law and order situation was deteriorating under the Congress government.

He claimed that during the five-year term of the SAD-BJP government people lived in complete peace and harmony but the Congress government was not paying any attention to the deteriorating law and order situation.


Keetu supporters stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 28
The festivity of Holi was marred here today because of the staging of protest rallies by the activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal, the BJP and the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) and supporters of Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA Barnala, SAD, in the local Sadar Bazar, railway station and Shaheed Bhagat Singh chowk areas.

The police and the district administration had as a precautionary measure, arrested eight supporters of Keetu as well as leaders of the SAD and the BJP hailing from Barnala, including Jarnail Singh Bhotna, Prem Pritam Jindal, Ram Sarup Goyal, Karam Chand, ex-municipal councillor, Bhim Sain Bansal, Nand Lal, Rupinder Singh and Dharminder Singh early today.

Reports reaching from Bhadaur town, about 25 km from here, said Sadhu Singh Raagi, an SGPC member hailing from Bhadaur, was also put under house arrest at Bhadaur.

Supporters of Keetu gathered in the railway station area and held a protest march through the local Sadar Bazar raising anti-Captain Amarinder Singh slogans in order to press the Punjab Government to release Keetu and withdraw the false case registered against him immediately. Protesters made it clear that they would not tolerate injustice and repression.

When processionists reached the Bhagat Singh chowk a piquant situation arose between the police administration, as protesters wanted to take out their procession to local Handiaya Bazar and Pharwahi Bazar by passing in front of local Kotwali police station. The police led by Mr Narjinder Singh Sekhon, SP (Detective), Barnala and Mr Rajesh Verma, Executive Magistrate-cum-Tehsildar Barnala, were present to prevent any untoward incident.

Later, the arrested were produced before N.S. Walia, Sub-divisional Magistrate, Barnala, at his residence today. They refused to seek bail. He ordered their release on the assurance that they would not indulge in any act which might lead to breach of peace in the area.


Holi: cops play spoilsport
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 28
Even as youngsters of the city tried to make the most of the holiday today by celebrating Holi, the cops foiled their plans by keeping an extra vigil on the “geri routes” of the city. The youngsters were seen looking for safe places to celebrate Holi with their peers. The cops, however, did not allow them to indulge in unlawful activities. Some police personnel were seen patrolling in plain clothes on private vehicles in the city.

All important places of the city, including the 100-foot road, Bibi Wala Road, Mall Road, AC market, were under constant police observation as these had been dubbed sensitive. Almost all eating joints, the rose garden, pool joints and even the cyber cafes have not escaped the eyes of the police personnel.

Nearly 55 persons were challaned for violating traffic rules. At places, youngsters were seen pleading before the police that they might be allowed triple-riding to save on fuel costs. Interestingly, some police personnel were seen chasing mischief-mongers on the vehicles they had impounded. Temporary nakas had been set up even at the corners of the streets.


Holi Celebrated

Hoshiarpur, March 28
Holi was celebrated with great enthusiasm here today. Young boys and girls were seen roaming in groups on cars, jeeps and scooters, motor cycles and playing with colours. Some groups also performed bhangra on various crossings. However, no untoward incident was reported.

PHAGHWARA: Holi was celebrated here with great enthusiasm with certain groups dancing on drumbeats on the roads. The roads and bylanes of various localities were painted with various colours. However, incidents of hooliganism and eve teasing were reported. Traffic was also disrupted at certain places, including the railway road.


Senior GND varsity officials ‘shielding’ Kanwaljit Singh
Varinder Walia and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, March 28
The case of sexual harassment in Guru Nanak Dev University today became more serious as Ms Anita Tamarkar, alleged victim, alleged that several senior officials of the university had been shielding Dr Kanwaljit Singh who recently resigned as director for paving the way for an independent inquiry.

Ms Tamarkar and the office-bearers of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) threatened to meet the Chief Minister if an FIR was not registered against Dr Kanwaljit Singh allegedly for making advances towards the former. However, Dr Kanwaljit Singh who was Ph.D guide of Ms Tamarkar denied the charges and claimed that the data of the summary thesis submitted by Tamarkar was not genuine it was challenged by him ‘frustrated’ over this, Ms Anita started levelling charges of harassment against him, he alleged. He offered to resign as professor if the data of the summary thesis came out to be genuine.

Meanwhile, the inquiry report of the committee, formed by the university to probe the allegation of sexual harassment is unlikely to submit its report by March 31- deadline fixed by the university. Ms Anita Tamarkar has alleged that some of the members of the committee were also under direct influence of the university authorities and hence justice could not be done to her.

Mr Vipin Bhatti and Mr Gautam Majithia state and district president of the NSUI respectively threatened an agitation if justice was not given to Ms Anita Tamarkar.

In a written statement, Ms Anita, a lecturer in the Department of Physical Education alleged that those who had given witness in favour of Dr Kanwaljit Singh were never appointed by the Board of Control for conducting tests in the play ground. She alleged that they had been manipulated. She added that she was a merit scholarship holder and product of LNIPE- a premier institute in India for physical education and her research paper were accepted for international seminars. When asked why she did not produce the data of her thesis before the committee probing the incident of sexual harassment, she said it had nothing to do with the incident.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken a suo motu action following a front page news published in these columns regarding the incident of sexual harassment in the university.

Ms Anita alleged that she was receiving threats on telephone to withdraw complaint lodged against Dr Kanwaljit Singh. She said some members of the committee were putting ‘irrelevant questions’ during the inquiry which had no link with the incident. She further alleged that the university authorities were not interested in taking action against Dr Kanwaljit Singh.

Dr Kanwaljit Singh, however, claimed that it was an ‘after-thought’ of Ms Anita to level charges of sexual harassment against him as she had not made such charges in earlier complaints made against him. He said he had resigned as Director Sports as Ms Anita had laid this pre-condition for submitting her Ph.D thesis. “I have resigned as director and now she should submit the data of the summary thesis if she had actually collected the same”, he said.

On the other hand, Ms Ratna, general secretary Punjab Pradesh Congress also a member of the committee probing the charges of sexual harassment said that the submitting of the report might take more time as she was not getting proper cooperation from the quarters concerned.


Saroj Rani, Jaspal questioned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 28
The Head of Fine Arts Department, Punjabi University, Dr Saroj Rani and technical assistant Jaspal Singh, who were arrested by the Patiala police yesterday in the Saru Rana case, were today questioned for over two hours by senior police officials. They were arrested on the charge of conspiracy in the case.

According to sources, both of them questioned with regard to the allegations of mental harassment caused to Saru Rana by them. Besides this, their role in various trips to attend official functions of the varsity was questioned by the police which asked them how the girls going as part of the varsity team for the functions were put up and what work they were made to do.

Allegations made by Saru Rana that on one such trip code names like ‘Pepsi’ were given to girls also came in for questioning and it was asked why such names were given to them.

Meanwhile, the Punjabi University Teachers Association and various other organisations expressed today concern over the arrest of Dr Saroj Rani and Jaspal Singh. Calling upon the police authorities to act “judiciously”, the members also appealed to the Chief Minister “not to be partisan”.

Meanwhile, the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) has demanded that only the budget agenda should be taken up for discussion in tomorrow’s meeting of the syndicate.


Army camps to villagers’ rescue
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, March 28
The Army in an effort to maintain rapport with the residents of villages situated along the Indo-Pakistan border has mooted a plan to organise a series of medical camps so that their hardships could be mitigated.

The Vajra Corps had launched “Operation Sahyog” a couple of years ago as a tribute to the brave people of Punjab and to acknowledge their contribution to nation-building.

The residents of the border villages are undergoing immense hardship due to Army deployment along the border in wake of the volatile situation between the two nations. Sporadic incidents of mine blasts are common as innocent villagers inadvertently tread into fields where mines have been laid.

The Golden Arrow Division, in appreciation of the unflinching support rendered by the people of border belt during “Operation Prakaram”, organised several medical camps at Hussainiwala, Jalalabad and other places which were inaugurated by Major-Gen OP Nandrajog, GOC of the division.

At these medical camps, facilities such as dental, surgical, ENT, eye, gynae, as also modern testing equipment like ECG, ultrasonography and x-ray machines were provided.

The Army authorities also provided free medicine and refreshment. Exhibitions on health, sanitation, environment and childcare were also being organised.

General Nandrajog expressed the hope that these medical camps would go a long way in fostering ties between the Army and the people of Punjab. Girdawaris are also being carried out by the administration and the Army in cases where standing crops and fields of the farmers have been damaged by the laying of mines.

The administration has also sought compensation of Rs 176 crore for residents by way of relief.


Bir’ burnt in accidental fire
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 28
A ‘bir’ of Sri Guru Granth Sahib and two “gutkas” were burnt in a fire which broke out yesterday at a gurdwara in Rampur Mander village under the Boha police station area of the district. This was stated in a press note issued here today by the Public Relations Department. As per preliminary inquiries, the fire was caused by a short circuit.

Mr Mohinder Singh, granthi of the gurdwara, had gone to the village after the evening prayer when the fire broke out. People saw smoke billowing out of the room where the “bir” was kept. On unlocking the room, the “bir” and two “gutkas” were found burnt. The matter was reported to the police, following which Mr Joginder Singh, Station House Officer, Boha, and Mr S.S. Brar, Deputy Superintendent of Police, Budhlada, visited the spot. Five “pyaras” came from Takht Sri Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Sabo to inspect the site. They asked the management of the gurdwara to immerse the ashes of the holy books at Goindwal Sahib. They also asked the villagers to organise an “Akhand path”.


Shaurya Chakra winner wants security back
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 28
Mr Balwinder Singh, his wife and three members of his family were awarded Shaurya Chakra for showing exemplary courage against terrorists during the hey days of militancy, today threatened to return the award if his security which was taken back recently, was not restored immediately.

Addressing a press conference today, Mr Balwinder Singh, the first civilian to receive the ‘Shaurya award’, claimed that he and his family were still getting threats from terrorists, especially from Paramjit Singh Panjwar, a self-styled chief of the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF). Panjwar is one of the 20 most wanted terrorists of India who have taken refuge in Pakistan.

Mr Balwinder Singh said whenever a new government took over, his security was withdrawn. However, after the issue was highlighted in the media, the government had to restore his security. Similar treatment was meted out to his family when Badal Government came to power five-years-ago. He said his case should not be dealt like that of an ordinary person, who took the security cover only as a status symbol.


PNB to accept IT deposits
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 28
Mr C.R. Khajuria, senior Regional Manager, Punjab National Bank in a press note issued here today said that the bank had made special arrangements at authorised branches for the acceptance of income tax.

He added that if there was need, banking hours would be extended to facilitate the customers. Six branches of the region, Bathinda main Mansa, Barnala main, Sangrur main, Malerkotla main and Baretta branches have been authorised to collect direct taxes.


Aspects of Civil Defence exhibited
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 28
All aspects of Civil Defence such as artificial breathing, emergency rescue techniques, fire-fighting, self-defence intricacies during bombing were exhibited by officials and volunteers of Civil Defence on the conclusion of a special camp in the District Administrative Complex here today.

Mr Manish Kumar, GA to DC, addressed the gathering.


CM to meet Union Minister on MSP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 28
Even as wheat crop is to hit grain markets within a week or so, the worries of the state government and farmers have been increasing day by day as the Central Government has not announced the minimum support price (MSP).

The Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, has decided to meet the Union Agriculture Minister, Mr Ajit Singh, in this connection.


Punjab postings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 28
The Punjab Government has ordered the following postings and transfers:

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary, will continue to be Principal Secretary, Personnel, General Administration and Grievances.

Mr Mukul Joshi will be Principal Secretary, NRIs and Industrial Liaison, New Delhi, and Financial Commissioner, Excise and Taxation. In addition, he will continue to be Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce.


3 killed as car rams into truck
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 28
Three of four occupants of a car were crushed to death at Kanganan village, near Malsian, late last night.

According to the police, a brick- laden truck was parked in the middle of the road without any blinker on. As the car driver Thakur Singh could not see the parked vehicle, the car rammed into it resulting in the death of Gurmeet Singh, Lakhmir Singh and Jaswant Singh, all residents of Seechewal village.


GND varsity to sign MoU with 6 foreign varsities
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 28
Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with six foreign universities of California, Germany, Australia, Russia, USA and Canada.

This was revealed by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, while addressing the syndicate meeting held here today.

He hoped that bilateral visit of teachers and students to these universities would heighten mutual awareness of social, education and cultural issues.

He said that the negotiations were at the final stage for entering into an MoU with Sain Jose State University, California, University of Essen, Germany, State University of Russia, Golden Temple of Oregon Inc, USA, and Simon Freaser University, Canada.

He said after signing the MoU with these universities, teachers and students of Guru Nanak Dev University would find an opportunity to go abroad and interact with their counterparts to have more knowledge about their discipline.

The Vice-Chancellor said Sikh Centre of Singapore had also approached the university for the introduction of some diploma courses and their request had been accepted.

He said the centre would be accorded the status of recognised institution very shortly under the distance education programme.

He said a new planning and monitoring cell had been established at the university which would work for better planning and monitoring of various schemes of the varsity.


9 JAC members to face charges
Punjabi University Syndicate meeting
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, March 28
The Punjabi University Syndicate, which is meeting on March 29, is in for a surprise with a controversial agenda being prepared by Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, in which a dossier has been made on nine teachers who are members of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) which is leading the agitation against the VC.

According to sources, Dr Ahluwalia wrote to the Registrar to prepare a note on the current situation in the university with special reference to the teachers who were members of the JAC.

The note has been prepared and is being included in the agenda of the Syndicate meeting. It lists nine teachers who had allegedly joined hands against him as they felt they might have to face action due to pending complaints against them.

In the note, reasons have been cited for the animosity of the teachers towards Dr Ahluwalia. It alleged that wife of one of the teachers, also a teacher, university had been charged with plagiarism in her thesis. Besides this, it also claimed that one of the teachers had not fulfilled the criterion for promotion to the post of Professor and that rules had been bent to give him the promotion. When an inquiry was ordered into the incident the Professor turned against the VC. It said a number of inquiries were on against the members of the JAC.

Meanwhile, the JAC, in a memorandum, urged the Chief Minister, to remove the VC and initiate a Vigilance enquiry against him, failing which they would be forced to intensify their campaign against the VC.

The members of the JAC also organised a dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office to protest against “inaction” of the government in the case despite repeated demands of the committee.

Addressing the dharna, speakers pointed out that it was for the first time that a Vice-Chancellor, who had been charged with moral turpitude and attempt to murder, refused to resign.


Parents protest against fee hike
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, March 28
To protest against the sudden fee hike and ‘‘exploitation of students by private schools’’, parents, under the aegis of the newly formed Shiksha Sudhar Committee, took out a protest march and staged a dharna in front of the SDM office here on Tuesday.

Addressing the gathering at the local municipal park, spokespersons of the committee blamed the private schools for adopting a negative attitude towards their genuine demands and forcing the parents to adopt the path of agitation.

In a memorandum submitted to the SDM, the agitating parents demanded the abolition of the readmission and computer fees, reduction in the admission and monthly fees and putting a stop to the collecting of funds under various heads and making profit on the sale of books and other materials by the schools.

Apart from this, the demand for the abolition of the ‘fake’ Parents Teachers Association and formation of new committees, represented only by the parents of students, was also raised.

The other demands included, potable drinking water, qualified staff, bicycle shed, play grounds and reasonable charges for school transport.

When contacted, Ms Satwant Bhullar, Principal of DAV School, who has been in the eye of the storm for raising the fees for this academic session, justified the 10 per cent hike. The hike, according to her, was in accordance with the guidelines laid down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

She said the school faculty was well qualified and getting salaries in accordance with the Fifth Pay Commission and keeping in mind the facilities provided by the school, their charges were appropriate. However, she said other demands would be looked into.


Re-exam of cancelled papers on April 7, 8
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, March 28
The examination of subjects of the matriculation and senior secondary classes which were cancelled by the Punjab School Education Board in the wake of reports of mass copying would now be held on April 7 and 8. The candidates would have to pay Rs 100 per paper, said a spokesman of the board.

The candidates have been asked to appear for the re-examination as per the list of examination centres being given through a public notice. The students can take the examinations on the previous roll numbers.

The spokesman said orders to cancel the chemistry paper of 10+2 class, which was held on March 6 at Government Senior Secondary School, NTC, Rajpura (Patiala), had been withdrawn. The last date to submit the application forms for those appearing in the re-examination of painting has been extended to April 15.


Gaganpreet tops class V exam
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 28
As many as 13,529 students out of 14,194 of class V in the district have been declared pass. The result was announced yesterday.

Ms Surinder Kaur Nibber, District Education Officer (P), in a press note issued here today said Gaganpreet Singh of Phagwara, Ramandeep Kaur and Satwinder Kaur achieved first, second and third positions, respectively, in the district.

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