Monday, April 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



VC uses emergency powers, passes Pbi 
varsity budget
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 31
The Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, passed the university budget using his emergency powers today. According to sources, the budget has been passed for three months, taking into account the last year’s budget.

The Syndicate meeting to discuss and pass the budget, which was scheduled to be held on March 20, could not take place owing to the stance of the Joint Action Committee (JAC) which has been agitating against the Vice-Chancellor for quite some time and has asked for his immediate resignation in wake of the criminal cases lodged against him. The JAC also cited the clause in the university constitution which gives to Pro-Vice-Chancellor powers to pass the budget and said they would not interfere in the budget proceedings if the Pro-Vice-Chancellor passed the budget.

The university spokesperson said members of the JAC had blocked the passage of the Vice-Chancellor’s office and the Syndicate room in spite of the police presence, therefore the budget meeting could not take place.

According to authorities, the budget has been passed to disburse salaries among employees and for meeting sundry expenses of the university. The date of the next Syndicate meeting has not been finalised yet.


Malout poll: CPI presses ‘dhadis’ into service
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 31
Using “dhadis” (ballad singers) for electioneering has been an old feature of Akali politics in Punjab. However, in this Assembly segment, “dhadis” are being used by the CPI leadership at election meetings.

Though their services were never utilised by the CPI in the past due to its “secular” policies, “dhadis” have now been performing at the election rallies of the Congress-CPI alliance candidate, Mr Nathu Ram. They have penned poems on various alleged acts of omission and commission of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during the past five years.

The “dhadis” have also been making the electorate aware of the alleged crimes committed by Akalis, including Bibi Jagir Kaur, former President, SGPC, and Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib.

The unexpected decision of the Congress-CPI alliance leadership to use “dhadis” for electioneering has put the SAD leadership on the defensive. A prominent section of the party rank and file has started planning to work out a strategy to counter the propaganda of the Congress-CPI alliance being carried out through the “dhadis”.

“Dhadis” are supposed to spread the message of religion and make people aware of the sacrifices made by freedom fighters and religious figures for their nation, community and religion. Mud-slinging by them is bad and opposed to the tenets of Sikh religion,” said a senior Akali leader while talking to TNS on the condition of anonymity.

He said the Election Commission should take notice of the malpractices being done during the campaign of Mr Nathu Ram.

As April 4, the day of polling, approaches, the contest for this Assembly segment is turning out to be head-to-head battle between Mr Nathu Ram and the SAD-BJP candidate, Ms Mukhtiar Kaur. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, campaigned hectically for Mr Nathu Ram in rural and urban pockets of the constituency for two days. Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, has also been taking keen interest in the campaign of Mr Nathu Ram.

Meanwhile, the SAD leadership has decided to hold a rally in the town and bring senior leaders of the BJP, including Union Minister Sushma Swaraj, to address it on April 2.


Poll observers yet to reach Malout
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
With less than 84 hours to go for the polling, the election observers are yet to arrive at Malout, the "heartland of malwa", where tension has started building up in anticipation of a close contest for the lone Assembly seat.

The Chief Electoral Officer, Mr G.S. Cheema, said three observers, including an expenditure observer, would either reach there this evening or tomorrow to oversee the conduct of the election there.

While the Congress has directed its workers to campaign for the CPI candidate, Mr Nathu Ram, the main Opposition party, the Shiromani Akali Dal, has convened meeting of its key activists, including all Political Affairs Committee (PAC) members at Malout tomorrow to work out a "strategy to counter the anti-democratic and draconian measures" adopted by the ruling party to browbeat voters here". Mr Parkash Singh Badal will preside over the meeting.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, a General Secretary of the Dal, said "while the Election Commission acted with a vengeance during the Assembly elections, it has failed to post even a single observer here so far till this evening".

"What could be more shameful than the statement of officials that no paramilitary forces are available for the deployment to ensure a free and fair poll here. It is a ridiculous keeping in view the developments in neighbouring Jammu and Kashmir. Mr Bhunder said maintaining that no action had been taken so far on the complaint made against police officers directly involved in the electioneering at Malout.

The statements that the posting of two new SHOs has been cleared by the CEO was meaningless as the SHOs concerned had been forcibly sent on leave, he alleged and demanded a probe into the matter.


Bickerings in BJP intensify
May affect civic poll prospects
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 31
The bickerings in the district unit of the BJP that intensified after it lost all four Assembly seats in Jalandhar are likely to affect the poll prospects of the party in the forthcoming municipal corporation poll scheduled for May.

The district unit of the BJP is already divided in two camps as the party leadership has replaced Mr Naval Kamboh with Mr Subhash Sood at the district BJP chief on the charges that the former was indulging in ‘anti-party’ activities.

To avenge the humiliation meted out to Mr Kamboh, his supporters have been regularly disrupting meetings held by his rival (Mr Sood), even as the BJP state chief, Brij Lal Rinwa, has announced that no act of ‘indiscipline’ will be tolerated by the BJP leadership and it will not bow to pressure.

Supporters of Mr Kamboh have been expressing anguish by openly criticising Mr Rinwa and are blaming him for hatching a conspiracy with Mayor Suresh Sehgal, who lost the Jalandhar (North) seat to remove Mr Kamboh. Though Mr Kamboh has announced that he will not put up any Independent candidate, party sources do not rule out such a possibility and suspect that to prove his strength and to avenge humiliation, Mr Kamboh may support Independent candidates, which can cause more harm to the party, particularly at a time when it has already lost all four Assembly seats.

Another setback for the BJP came when the leader of the group of SAD councillors, Mr Gurcharan Singh Narula, who is also Senior Deputy Mayor, revolted against the BJP leadership, saying that there was no need for the SAD to continue its alliance with the BJP since the SAD councillors had been ignored by BJP Mayor Suresh Sehgal.

He went to the extent of charging Mr Sehgal with going out of his way to help ‘Congressmen’ instead of bestowing any favour on Akali councillors. Mr Narula has alleged that the BJP has lost its base among urban voters. Though Mr Narula has been criticising Mr Sehgal off and on, it is for the first time that he has asked his party to break ties with the BJP.

Similarly, Mr Ravinder Dhir, a confidant of Mr Kamboh, who was expelled from the BJP along with the latter, says supporters of Mr Kamboh will not allow anybody to ‘indulge in dictatorship’. He alleges that workers have lost confidence in Mr Rinwa for his ‘injudicious’ action against Mr Kamboh.

Interestingly, the Mayor, Mr Suresh Sehgal has been witnessing the whole drama without saying a word. He has stopped going to his office in the MC premises and instead has been operating from his shop on the plea that he can be closer to the people at his shop.

While internal fissures of the BJP have baffled party workers, the rival Congress camp is in an upbeat mood over the developments in the hope that it will be able to sweep the civic poll which, according to a Punjab Government notification, is likely to held in the month of May.


Govt gets tough against corruption, absenteeism
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
If developments during the past some days are any indication , the Punjab Government appears to have taken the fight against corruption and absenteeism from public offices to the “field” in its endeavour to win the confidence of the people.

While a couple of policemen have been hauled up in Faridkot district on corruption and cheating charges, a random check of dispensaries and health centres in rural areas of Ludhiana district revealed that not only doctors but also pharmacists and paramedical staff members continue to remain away from their place of work without any legal sanction.

These actions of the government, says a senior functionary, are not only directed against wiping out corruption at all levels but also ensuring discipline and efficiency.

After the Punjab Public Service Commission chief landed in the vigilance net last week, people expected many other heads, especially those of bigwigs in the state administration, to roll. Instead, reports suggest that a “rejuvenated and refurbished” administrative machinery at the district level has attempted justifying the confidence placed in it by the new government through some of its actions.

In Ludhiana district, for example, the district vigilance cell conducted a random check at dispensaries and health centres in Sidhwan Bet and Hathoor block last week. The raiding team found 14 doctors, five staff nurses, 24 pharmacists and paramedical staff members, 19 nurses and members of the clinical staff, three veterinary doctors and some others absent.

One of the veterinary pharmacists, though on duty, was reportedly “drunk”. The report on the raids is revealing. It reflects how the government machinery functions at the grassroots level, especially in the rural areas. The situation in remote and border areas is even worse.

The situation may not be different at the district headquarters or even the divisional and state headquarters where absenteeism has become a trend. There have been instances where persons in government service are known to be indulging in private practice or even running businesses in the names of their spouses or close relatives.

A report from Faridkot shows how the police works in the field. An Assistant Sub-Inspector and a constable were taken into custody under the Prevention of Corruption Act for demanding a bribe of Rs 20 from a tractor-trailer driver at a police checkpost. The Faridkot district police maintained that the arrested policemen were allegedly making Rs 50,000 a month at the checkpost by charging the same amount from all truck, Tempo and other commercial vehicle drivers. The daily “collection” used to be around Rs 3,000.

In yet another case, an Assistant Sub-Inspector of Police landed in the vigilance net at Faridkot for misusing his position after accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 in a land dispute case. These incidents are just the tip of the iceberg.

Corruption at other levels is of a much bigger dimension.


Finding jobs a big challenge
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Finding jobs for the youth poses a big challenge to the Punjab Government because the employment situation has not improved in the past years.

The data with the state's Labour Department shows that the number of registered job seekers, both educated and uneducated, has remained almost the same: 5.48 lakh in March, 1996, and 5.37 lakh in September, 2000. The number of educated jobless has increased from 3.18 lakh (March, 1990) to 3.51 lakh (March, 2000).

Among the unemployed are 23.61 per cent technical and 76.39 per cent non-technical persons. Fresh matriculates constitute nearly 50 per cent of the unemployed, as on March 31, 2000. This is an indicator of the low level of human resource development. Most of the workforce is employed as farm and construction workers and unskilled labourers in factories.

Referring to ''employment and population dynamics'' the White Paper on the state of the finances reveals that the number of educated unemployed was 3,51,440 in March, 2000. This included matriculates, undergraduates, graduates and postgraduates (freshers), graduate engineers, diploma engineers, craftsmen, allopathic and other doctors, agriculture specialists, and MEd, BEd, language and other teachers.

The Census-2001 report reveals that the literacy rate in Punjab has improved by 9.97 per cent in the past 10 years, raising the overall literacy percentage to 69.95. For males the percentage is 75.63 and females 63.55. At the same time, the National Council for Education Research and Training report (sixth all-India education survey, 1998) has revealed that the primary school-level dropout rate in Punjab was 31.47 per cent, with girls accounting for 31.82 per cent.

The White Paper analysis, as per the 1991 census, showed a critical dependence of Punjab on the primary sector for its employment with 56 per cent of the workforce engaged in this sector. This dependence is marginally higher for males.

The secondary sector that commanded the bulk of the investments in the state and accounted for an increasing share of the total gross state domestic product, accounted for only 15 per cent of the workforce. This called for sustained government intervention for the creation of quality jobs.

The public sector plays a dominant role. It accounted for more than 70 per cent of organised employment. Recent trends in curbing the growth of public sector employment has not changed this scenario because of an equal, if not faster, deceleration in organised private sector employment. During 1996-99, public sector employment decreased by 0.4 per cent, while that in the private sector declined by over 1 per cent, revealed the White Paper.

In this backdrop, one is reminded of a paragraph, "For the unemployed — a healing touch", in the Congress election manifesto. The Congress has promised to conduct a survey of youth — 18 years to 35 years — for determing "self-employment" potential and organise "crash courses" in vocational training at ITIs and polytechnics. Thereafter, banks are to be persuaded to give loans. There is a promise to accommodate qualified youth in government, public sector undertakings and private enterprises, through an aggressive placement policy. Quite in contrast to the steps suggested in the White Paper to correct fiscal mismanagement!


Clergy to take up Head Granthi’s absenteeism
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 31
The Sikh clergy has decided to take up the issue of Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, who has been absenting himself from the meetings of Akal Takht which is considered violation of the ‘maryada’ (Sikh tradition), at the forthcoming meeting.

Talking to TNS, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, said a meeting of the high priests would be convened shortly to discuss this issue. Jathedar Vedanti said that he would ensure the presence of the Head Granthi at meetings of Akal Takht which was mandatory as per the Sikh ‘maryada’. It may be mentioned here that immediately after taking over as President of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar had assured that he would bring about a rapprochement between Giani Puran Singh and the rest of the high priests. However, even after four years in office, Mr Badungar has failed to convene even a single meeting in this regard so far.

The issue pertaining to the absence of Giani Puran Singh in the meetings of Akal Takht was revived when Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, raised this point during the budget meeting of the Shiromani committee yesterday. She had urged the General House to direct Giani Puran Singh to attend the meetings of Akal Takht as per the Sikh ‘maryada’. She said if Giani Puran Singh could sit in the General House of the SGPC with other high priests, why had he been absenting himself from the meetings of the Sikh clergy?

In his capacity as Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh had excommunicated Bibi Jagir Kaur, the then SGPC chief, Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Kewal Singh, the then Jathedar, Damdama Sahib and Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, from the Sikh Panth through the controversial ‘hukamnamas’ (edicts) which was never accepted by them. After this, Giani Puran Singh was unceremoniously removed as Jathedar of Akal Takht by the SGPC Executive, headed by Bibi Jagir Kaur. When Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was installed as Jathedar of Akal Takht, he rescinded all the controversial edicts issued by his predecessor.

However, when Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi took over as President of the SGPC, he appointed Giani Puran Singh as Head Granthi, Golden Temple, which raised many eyebrows in the Panthic circles. Then the question arose whether Giani Puran Singh would sit with the Sikh high priests whom he had excommunicated from the Panth in his capacity as Jathedar, Akal Takht. Despite reminders, Giani Puran Singh refused to sit in the meetings of Akal Takht.

The issue of Giani Puran Singh may also be taken up at the joint meeting of Sikh high priests and the Dharam Parchar Committee, likely to be held at Anandpur Sahib next week. The meeting would also discuss other crucial issues pertaining to the Sikh Panth.

Panthic circles feel that the revival of the issue of Giani Puran Singh may cause embarrassment to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, as the controversy may snowball into a major controversy. It may be mentioned here that Giani Puran Singh has announced that he won’t sit with the ‘excommunicated’ Sikh high priests.


Cong, CPI may upset Badal’s apple-cart
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 31
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has managed to get the support of a number of confidants of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for the Congress-CPI alliance candidate, and Mr Nathu Ram is likely to cause an upset in the calculation of the Akali rank and file.

The two days’ hectic campaigning by Capt Amarinder Singh, in this Assembly segment, has changed the poll scenario with Mr Dhakkar Singh, an Independent candidate, Dr Prem Kumar, Master Chunni Lal, Mr Sat Guru Dev Pappi, municipal councillor, Mr Dilawar Singh and Mr Kartar Singh Sikhwala, a senior functionary of the SAD joining hands with the Congress.

The Chief Minister, who addressed a series of well-attended rallies here and in a number of villages in the past two days, has also made the people to come out of their dwellings in the support of Mr Nathu Ram, shedding their fear that they would be victimised by SAD supporters.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he would see to it that no Akali supporter harassed those backing Mr Nathu Ram

He said neither Mr Badal nor his associates would be allowed to purchase votes by distributing poppy husk, money, opium and liquor among the electorate nor they would be allowed to indulge in any sort of violence on the day of polling. All false cases, registered against people by Mr Badal and his associates to settle political scores, would be withdrawn, he added.

Launching a frontal attack, the Chief Minister asked whether Mr Badal could tell people why his government did not make arrangements for the supply of required pesticides to the farmers for saving the cotton crop from bollworm attack? Why his government allowed farmers to commit suicide due to economic crisis? Why his government put the jobs on sale? How Mr Badal amassed assets worth Rs 3500 crore?


Bairagis to back Cong-CPI candidate
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
The Bairagi Mahan Mandal, Punjab, has decided to support the Congress-CPI candidate, Mr Nathu Ram, during elections to the Malout Assembly segment.

In a press statement issued here today, the president of the mandal, Mr Krishan Kumar Bawa, said it was unanimously decided during a meeting of the executive committee to support the candidature of Mr Nathu Ram for the Malout Assembly seat. The meeting criticised the SAD-BJP alliance allegedly for promoting communalism during its regime. The Bairagi community leaders observed that there was a great need to defeat these communal forces to maintain harmony and sovereignty in the country.

The meeting further instructed its members to reach the Malout constituency from all parts of the state to campaign in favour of the Congress-CPI candidate.


Sehajdharis to back Cong candidate
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 31
The Sehajdhari Shiromani Akali Dal (SSAD) has welcomed the decision taken by the Punjab council of ministers regarding giving voting rights to the Sehajdharis for the SGPC elections.

Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, President SSAD, while addressing meetings and rallies in support of Mr Nathu Ram, the CPI — Congress candidate from Malout Assembly constituency, at various villages of the area said, the decision to support the Congress-CPI candidate was taken as it had fought for the cause of Sehajdharis.

Mr Ranu further said the efforts of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in keeping intact the rights of the Sehajdharis were welcomed by them. He said the Sehajdharis had been voting for these elections for the past many years. But alleged that due to some vested interests the SAD (B) President and former Punjab Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was opposing their voting right for the SGPC elections.


Brar: Cong to push for Punjab’s demands
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 31
Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, an MP and senior Congress leader, has reiterated the stand of the party to get the long-pending demands of Punjab accepted by the Central Government. He said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had gone to New Delhi today to meet with the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, in this regard. The main demands include the river water dispute and the transfer of Punjabi speaking areas of Haryana and Chandigarh to Punjab.

Mr Brar, who was here today to attend antim ardas of Mahant Sewa Dass Singh, president of the All-India Akali Dal Pheruman, while talking to mediapersons criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, for his failure to impress upon the Prime Minister to fulfil the demands in spite of the fact that his party was an ally in the NDA government.

Mr Brar alleged that Mr Badal had amassed wealth and property by unfair means and Capt Amarinder Singh would shortly appoint a commission to probe the matter. Categorically refuting Mr Badal’s allegations about the Congress using the official machinery for the ensuing Assembly poll on April 4 in Malout, he accused Mr Badal of blatantly violating the model code of conduct in the recent Assembly elections in the state.

He expressed hope that the CPI candidate would win from Malout Assembly constituency in reply to a question, he said his party was fully aware about its responsibility regarding the promotion of Punjabi language in the state.

Meanwhile, hundreds of men and women and representatives of various political and social organisations paid tributes to Mahant Sewa Dass Singh. Speaking on the occasion the speakers said the Mahant had worked for the cause of Punjab.


CM ‘disturbing’ peace
Tribune News Service

Malout, March 31
Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal alleged yesterday that Congressmen with active connivance of the Punjab Police at the instance of the Chief Minister had forcibly occupied the premises of the local Edward Ganj Public Welfare Association.

In a press note, Mr Sukhbir Singh Nagra, media in charge, SAD, said Mr Badal in telegrams sent to the Chief Election Commissioner had alleged that Mr Amarinder Singh was jeopardising a free and fair poll in the constituency and disturbing peace and amity in the state.


Markfed board, govt on collision course
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
A confrontation is brewing between the Akali-dominated elected board of Markfed and the Congress government in Punjab. There are 13 elected members of the board and four government nominees, including the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.

The board headed by its Chairman, Mr Jagdish Singh Walia, has not approved the appointment of the Managing Director (MD) of Markfed ordered by the state Government.

During a reshuffle in the state bureaucracy, the Punjab Government had recently appointed Mr S. S. Channy, a senior IAS officer, MD of Markfed replacing Mr D.S. Bains, who has been appointed Secretary, Higher Education. Until the appointment is approved by the board, as per the rules, the MD cannot discharge any business pertaining to Markfed.

Informed sources said that the board, which has an overwhelming majority of elected directors belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal, has referred back the appointment of the MD to the Punjab Government. It has asked the government to make his appointment under Section 26 (2B) of the State Cooperative Act.

However, the government nominees, who were in a minority, have given a dissenting note. The nominees, who attended a meeting convened to discuss various matters, including the appointment of the MD, took a stand that the appointment should be approved as it has been made by the state government holding a bulk of the shares in the organisation.

Sources said that under the Act, the state government had the powers to appoint the Chairman or the MD. However, the latest appointment made by the government was not made under the relevant section of the Act. The board members have asked the government that it should straight a way make the appointment under the relevant section for which there would be no need to take the approval of the board.

Elected directors of the board are of the view that the government will first get the appointment of the MD approved from the board and then make the appointment of the Chairman under the relevant section to remove the elected Akali Chairman.


Hoping against hope for pension
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, March 31
Hundreds of recently retired state government employees in the district are running from pillar to post to get their pensionary benefits, thanks to the instructions of the Finance Department asking the district treasury authorities not to release payment due to the bad financial condition of the state government.

The verbal orders issued in the first week of this month to the district treasury authorities by the Punjab Finance Department debars the release of any payment except salaries and regular pensions. The treasury authorities have been told not to release payments to any government contractor and just retired employees and stop scholarships of students belonging to the Scheduled Caste and other reserved categories.

Interestingly, a team of officials of the Punjab Internal Audit Department have been deputed to check that the verbal instructions of the department are being fully complied with by the officials concerned.

Though the treasury office was closed yesterday, scores of pensioners and teachers were seen waiting outside the office in the hope that the department may open the office to redress the problems of the employees.

“The payment of scholarships to 274 students belonging to reserved categories has not been released by the treasury authorities since September last. I have no choice but to wait outside the treasury office even during holidays,” A teacher of Government High School, Basti Bawa Khel told this correspondent.

Similarly, Ram Parkash, who recently retired from government service, alleged that though he had visited the treasury office several times in the past two months and had completed all formalities, the officials concerned were not releasing the pensionary benefits, including gratuity and leave encashment, for reasons best-known to them.

“What is my fault if the state government has empty coffers? How will I run my house? rued another pensioner, sitting outside the closed treasury office.

The District Treasury Officer, Mr A.S. Anand, was not available for comment.


Probe demanded into purchases for Navy
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 31
Sq Ldr Kamal Chaudhary (retd), a former Chairman of the Standing Committee for Defence Matters has alleged that the Union Defence Minister Mr George Fernandes, has misused crores of rupees in the purchase of missiles and cartridges for the Navy, as an emergency purchase, during the Kargil war.

Talking with mediapersons here today, he said that the Controller and Audit General (CAG) had raised objections into the purchase.

He described it unnecessary and this was a clear indication that a fraud had been committed.

Expressing shock and anguish, he said the anti-aircraft missiles were purchased for the Navy at a rate five time more than the purchase made in 1996.

He demanded a thorough probe into the matter by a high-level committee.


74-yr-old alleges torture, writes to PHRC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
Apprehending threat to his life, Mr Balbir Singh (74), who was allegedly taken into illegal custody by the Dera Baba Nanak police and tortured for four days, in a letter to the State Human Rights Commission has alleged the involvement of the S.H.O and the A.S.I of the said police station. Copies of the letter addressed to the IGP and the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court allege that he was taken into custody to trace his son and other relatives in a clash case that occupied on the election day (March 13) between two parties.

The police picked up Mr Balbir Singh, a ‘mistry’ by profession, on March 22 from a house where he was working and tortured him. He was taken to a police chowki and handcuffed to a bed throughout the night, despite his pleas that he was a heart patient and a diabetic.

The next day he was taken to Batala and the police took him to all his relatives asking about the whereabouts of his son. Later that night, they again handcuffed him to a bed in Dharamkot police chowki.

On March 25 he was let off by the new SHO on surety from Dr Ghai in whose residence he was working when he was taken into custody. When contacted, ASI Desraj of Dera Baba Nanak Police station confirmed that SHO Karam Chand was transferred on March 24 and the new SHO was not available for comment. He denied the illegal detention of Mr Balbir Singh.


Army launches war against illiteracy
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
The Army authorities in its bid to promote educational awareness among rural children, has undertaken a literacy programme “jagran” in the border area of Kasowal in Gurdaspur district. The main aim of the programme is to seek attention of the parents and children towards the benefits of formal education as one of the means for the overall development of a student.

A defence spokesperson, in a press statement issued here today, said a primary school, which was lying closed in Ghanie ke Bet village in Kasowal for the past several years, had been adopted by the Army authorities. Children below the age of 14 years were motivated to attend classes regularly being undertaken by the Army staff. The authorities had distributed free taxt books, note books and refreshment among the students. The statement further said a relatively new exercise to launch literacy programme had generated great enthusiasm among the locals. The authorities were in the process of adopting more abandoned schools to impart low-cost education.


Four constables suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
At least four constables were suspended following the escape of a prisoner of the Central Jail from their custody here last evening. The accused Manjit Singh had been in prison since 1998 on a murder charge.

According to sources, Manjit Singh was admitted to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital on March 20 after he complained about a severe pain in the chest. He was under treatment in the surgical ward-number 2 at the hospital. The civil line police station had registered a case against the constables and the accused. The constables are still at large.

Meanwhile, 65 litres of illicit liquor has been seized and 10 persons arrested in this regard. 


PUDA to set up satellite towns
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 31
Mr Raghunath Sahaipuri, Punjab Minister for Urban Development, while talking to mediapersons here today said that the Punjab Urban Development Act would be amended to control the unauthorised constructions by individuals or colonisers.

Mr Sahaipuri said keeping in view the congestion in the towns of Punjab, PUDA has decided to set up satellite towns on the suburbs of the city. He said the Congress had promised this even in its poll manifesto during the recent Assembly elections.

He said all Deputy Commissioners in the state had been directed to earmark two properties for their transfer in the name of PUDA so that proper development of the city, could take place. This would avoid congestion and prevent pollution also.

Mr Sahaipuri said the hasty decisions taken by the previous ministry on December 21 at Chandigarh would be reviewed. He said he had been authorised to constitute a committee in this regard within a week. The committee would be time-bound to submit its report within two weeks. 


MLA’s arrest not motivated: Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 31
Commenting on the arrest of Mr Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA, in a case of alleged misappropriation of funds, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Agriculture, Rural Development, Women and Child Development Minister, said it had nothing to do with political vendetta.

Talking to newsmen today at Tapa town, about 20 km from here, Ms Bhattal said the Government was committed to eradicating corruption in the state. She was in the town in connection with the prize distribution function of a tournament dedicated to the memory of the father Hira Singh Bhattal and her mother Harnam Kaur Bhattal.


Contractual recruitment of doctors condemned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 30
The National Medicos Forum has condemned the decision of the Chandigarh Administration to recruit doctors and paramedical staff on contract basis.

Reacting to the decision of the Chandigarh administration of inviting tenders from contractors to provide doctors, nurses, pharmacists, paramedical staff and other employees for hospitals in Chandigarh, Senior PCMS leader and President of the National Medicos Forum, Dr D.C. Sharma, said by doing that the UT Administration was destroying the state-run healthcare delivery system to favour private enterprises. He said the Punjab Health System Corporation was also heading in the same direction.

Dr Sharma criticised the Director Health Services, UT, for maintaining silence on the issue and asked him to quit his job if he was unable to protect the dignity of the medical profession.

Dr Sharma said a memorandum had been sent to the UT Chief Administrator requesting him to direct the Administration to cancel the decision of appointing doctors and other health staff on contract basis.

Dr Sharma said the National Medicos Forum, the PCMS Association and various other organisations of doctors and paramedical employees had been opposing the setting up of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) ever since its establishment five years back dubbing it as an anti-people step to destroy the government-run healthcare system. The doubts had proved true as the PHSC had not been able to make any improvement in the secondary healthcare despite spending hundreds of crores during the past five years.


MLA warns erring govt doctors
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 31
Government doctors should refrain from private practice, said Mr Sunil Kumar Jakhar, MLA, today.

Inaugurating Dheeraj Trikha Memorial Free Homoeopathy Dispensary in the remotely located backward area, Panpeer Tibba Colony, Mr Jakhar referred to complaints received from the public that some government doctors avoided sitting in their offices during duty hours and preferred to be at private clinics. This would no more be allowed, he warned. Poor people visiting the dispensaries and hospitals run by the state government should not be made to suffer due to this practice. Mr Jakhar said the NGOs had an important role to play for the welfare of the people.


City to have eye bank
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 31
An eye bank will be established in the city at a cost of Rs 10 lakh to preserve donated eyes for later use.

The establishment of the eye bank will eliminate the need for finding a recipient immediately after the death of the person who has donated his eyes. The eye bank will be set up at the local Mahavir Eye Hospital with the help of the Eye Bank Association (EBA), Hyderabad. The EBA has released an amount of Rs 3.75 lakh to the Mahavir Dal for starting work on the eye bank.

Meanwhile, the Mahavir Dal held a eye check-up camp today during which 600 patients were examined for different eye ailments. Contact lens were provided to 55 patients.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurating the camp, said the efforts by NGOs in the field of eye check up would help in checking eye diseases in the area. He said under the “Nayan Jyoti” programme, various NGOs would be brought together to create awareness among people about eye donation.


Tribune scribe bereaved
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 31
Mr Shiv Dutt Mahajan (86), father-in-law of Mr Ashok Sethi, a correspondent of The Tribune, died in New Delhi after a brief illness yesterday. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter. 


DC spells out wheat procurement steps
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 31
The administration has made proper arrangements to purchase wheat. According to Deputy Commissioner S.R. Ladhar, the district had been divided into 35 sectors and for every sector a gazetted officer appointed a nodal officer.

Presiding over a high-level meeting of the heads of various procurement agencies, Mr Ladhar stated that all nodal officers had been made in charge of five grain markets to keep the Control Room at the district headquarters posted with wheat received, purchased and lifted in the market daily. He said that wireless sets would be provided soon to all officials of procurement agencies for direct contact with the control room after every two hours.

Mr Ladhar said that grievance redressal committees consisting of commission agents, farmers, representatives of truck unions and labourers had been formed in all 170 procurement centres in the district to resolve disputes there itself. He said that officials of government agencies had been told to continue procurement till wheat arrived in mandis. He told them to ensure that commission agents had sufficient stock of tarpaulins, power cleaners, crates and other required things so that farmers did not face inconvenience while selling their produce.

Mr Ladhar said that procurement would take place daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. He said that no procurement would take place at night and Inspector of agency concerned would always be present during procurement. He instructed the stocks of wheat which could not be purchased be entered in the arrival register and the reason for its non-procurement mentioned.

He said that the arhtiyas would ensure that their name, name of the purchase centre and their licence number was written on procured bags of wheat. He added that the agencies had been instructed to lift the purchased stock by them within 72 hours of its purchase and shift to the storage centre.

Mr Ladhar ordered all secretaries of the Market Committees to ensure cleanliness, availability of potable water, power supply and other essential items at purchase centres under their jurisdiction.


Licences of 6 pesticide dealers cancelled
Tribune News Service

Moga, March 31
The Agriculture Department has cancelled six licences of pesticides dealers for selling spurious pesticides in the district. This was revealed at a meeting, held under the chairmanship of the local Deputy Commissioner, to review the progress of agriculture and related departments.

Officers of the Agriculture Department brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner that 210 samples from pesticides dealers and 226 samples of seeds were collected for laboratory tests. Out of these 7 samples of pesticides were found spurious and 11 samples of seeds were found substandard. Six licences of pesticides dealers were cancelled.

Officers of the State Electricity Board said 359 new connections of electricity motors were sanctioned during the past one month keeping in view the coming paddy season. However, the list of the pending connections to be sanctioned in the district is still increasing and has already touched the figure of 10,208. The Deputy Commissioner directed the officials of the PSEB to ensure supply of power in the rural areas during the paddy season.

Irrigation Department officials said the water supply through the canals was satisfactory. However, the supply of water will be increased in the coming days. 


Voters’ complaints
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 31
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, in a press note has said the state government has decided to entertain complaints of voters whose name have been deleted from the voters list.

For the five Assembly constituencies of the district, as many officers have been deputed. The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM), Bathinda, will receive complaints from voters of Pakka Kalan constituency, the SDM, Rampuraphul, will receive complaints from voters of Nathana, the SDM, Talwandi Sahib, will receive complaints from the voters of Talwandi Sabo, the Additional Deputy Commissioner (D) will receive complaints from voters of Bathinda and the District Transport Officer will receive complaints from voters of the Talwandi Sabo constituency.

The voters may lodge their complaints till April 4.


Former SHO, constable booked for graft
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 31
The Moga police has booked Balwinder Singh Sekhon, a former SHO of the Baghapurana police station and Constable Tarsem Singh under Sections 13(2) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act for taking bribe of Rs 2 lakh from Mohinder Singh, son of Mr Jang Singh, a resident of Mrar village of Faridkot district. The booked cops allegedly took the bribe to show leniency towards him in a case of fake currency.

The case was registered on the statement of Mr Ranjit Singh, a former Sarpanch of Jat Singh Wala village in Muktsar district, and a relative of Mohinder Singh. Mr Ranjit Singh had complained that Inspector Balwinder Singh Sekhon and Constable Tarsem Singh raided the house of Mohinder Singh on January 8 last.

At the time of the raid, Mohinder Singh was not present in his house. Later Constable Tarsem Singh informed the former Sarpanch Ranjit Singh on telephone that his relative Mohinder Singh was involved in the trade of fake currency and that he should meet Inspector Sekhon at his quarter along with Mohinder Singh. Next day Ranjit Singh met Inspector Sekhon and promised to produce Mohinder Singh a few days later.

Constable Tarsem Singh, who was also present at the meeting told him that if they wanted to settle the case of fake currency, they would have to pay Rs 10 lakh to him and the SHO. The deal was struck at Rs 2 lakh. Ranjit Singh further alleged in his complaint that he and his relative Mohinder Singh arranged Rs 2 lakh and handed it over to Inspector Balwinder Singh Sekhon and Constable Tarsem Singh. Inspector Sekhon assured them that no action would be taken against Mohinder Singh and others involved in the fake currency case.

Thus Balwinder Singh Sekhon and Tarsem Singh committed an offence by protecting the accused in the fake currency case. The accused are absconding. Mr Nachhattar Singh, DSP (Detective) Moga, is investigating in the case.


Brother-in-law booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 31
On a complaint lodged by Gurmeet Kaur, Head Constable, posted at Amritsar, the Sarhali police has registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B against her brother-in-law and seven others for grabbing about 8 acres of land standing in the name of her husband.

The police sources said here today that Gurmeet Kaur in her complaint alleged that after her husband was shot dead by militants, her brother-in-law, Parsan Singh, with the help of Narain Singh, lambardar of the village, and others made forged documents to grab nearly 8 acres of land which were in her husband’s name.

Besides Parsan Singh and Narain Singh, the other accused have been identified as Bhupinder Singh, Budh Singh, Baldev Singh, Attar Singh, Jinder Singh, Shan Singh, all residents of Chohla Sahib village.


Keetu in police custody
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 31
Malkiat Singh Keetu, the SAD MLA from Barnala, who was produced before Mr S.S. Mann, Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate (Ist Class), Barnala, was remanded in police custody till April 1. After listening arguments for about an hour, Mr Mann, Duty Magistrate, ordered that Keetu be remanded in police custody till April 1.

Keetu who was booked for the alleged misappropriation of the finds of Truck Operators’ Union Bhadaur, by the Bhadaur police under Sections 406, 408, and 120-B of the IPC on March 21 was arrested by the police on March 27. It was remanded in police custody till March 29 by Mr Rakesh Gupta, Judicial Magistrate (Ist Class), Barnala.


Wife, lover hang man to death
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, March 31
Anwar Hussain Naqvi, an employee of the Punjab Waqf Board, was allegedly murdered by his wife, Sanobar, and her paramour, yesterday.

According to the police, Sanobar and her lover hanged Naqvi to death with an iron chain.

The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC against Sanobar and her lover.


RECs fail to get deemed varsity status
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 31
The Regional Engineering Colleges at Jalandhar and Warangal have failed to make it to the list of the RECs which have been upgraded by the Ministry of Human Resources and Development (MHRD) to deemed universities. This, sources allege, is due to the failure of the respective state governments to retire the principals of the two institutes, as desired by the MHRD.

The ministry has given a nod to the upgradation of seven RECs in the country, including Jaipur, Kalikat, Nagpur, Bhopal, Silcher, Raurkela and Allahabad, to deemed universities. The case for according a similar status to the colleges at Srinagar, Suratkal (Karnataka), Hamirpur (HP) and Durgapur is almost through. But the ministry, according to the sources, has refused to consider the case of the REC, Jalandhar, and the REC, Warrangal, as the respective state governments had given extensions to their principals against the rules of the MHRD.

Perturbed over the defiance by the Punjab Government and the Board of Governors of the REC, which had allegedly refused to even consider the suggestion of the ministry that its Principal, Dr H.S. Sagar, should not be given an extension, the MHRD stopped the budgetary support to the institute from September 2001.

The ministry provides 80 per cent grant to the REC which the remaining 20 per cent is borne by the respective state government.

The ministry has asked the state government and the Board of Directors of the REC, here, to advertise the post of the Principal, through a letter dated February 24, 2001. “We had to stop the grant since the state government did not even bother to reply to our letter,” said a senior official of the MHRD at Delhi while talking to The Tribune.

The sources add that the MHRD was considering the case of the RECs at Srinagar, Suratkal, Hamirpur and Durgapur even as then respective state governments wanted some concessions like induction of some more members in their boards. “We are in the negotiating phase as far as these colleges were concerned,” said the sources in the MHRD adding that there were minor hiccups in granting a similar status to the RECs at Surat, Trichnapalli, and Jamshedpur.

While the Principal of the REC, here, Dr Sagar had repeatedly asserted that he was given an extension by the state government, the MHRD says that the state government has no right to interfere in the functioning of the REC. Interestingly, even the Congress-led government and its Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, have failed to solve the problem and restore the budgetary support to the REC.


PTU’s first youth festival concludes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 31
Western culture is fastly affecting our rich traditional Punjabi culture and the coming generation should not run after the western culture, G.S. Tohra, MP, while presiding over the first inter-college cultural festival of Punjab Technical University being organised at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, here today.

He appreciated the play ‘Saka-e-Sirhind’ performed by the host college prepared by Er. K.S. Dhindsa and Er. M.S. Mavi. Dr D.S. Hera, Principal of the college, said 600 students from 14 technical and management institutes affiliated to the PTU, participated in this cultural fair. Students competed in more than 31 events of fine arts, music, theatre and literary events in the three different venues on the college campus.

Baba Banda Bahadur College stood first in one-act play, geet/ghazal and on-the-spot painting and stood runner-up in mime and mimicry. GNMIT, Patiala, stood first in classical vocal solo and shabad bhajan. Dr H.S. Gurm, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, presided over the prize distribution function and Dr Inderpal Singh, former Pro-VC G.N.D.U. gave away the prizes. 


Waiting list of selected teachers awaited
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
Even as the session in primary schools is scheduled to start tomorrow and about 400 candidates selected for posts of primary teacher have failed to join duty during the past seven months in different parts of the state, the Education Department has done nothing to fill these posts from the waiting list of candidates.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court in its ruling last year directed the Education Department to fill 7,230 vacant posts of primary teacher by setting up District Departmental Selection Committees comprising representatives of the Education Department, university experts, district administration and Sainik Welfare Department.

Subsequently, the process of selection of candidates was started in July last year throughout the state and the results of selected candidates were displayed at District Education Office’s (Primary) in December last year. But the authorities failed to display the waiting lists of candidates.

“Though I have met officials of DPI (Primary) office several times in the past four months to know the status of waiting list candidates, nothing concrete has been done beyond giving hollow promises”, rues Mr Jasbir Singh of Jalandhar, who had applied for the post last year.

The Punjab Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behl, said all waiting list candidates would be appointed on merit against the vacant posts.


Fill posts of B.Ed teacher, govt urged
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 31
The district unit of the Berozgar B.Ed Adhiyapak Front, at its meeting held at the local Banasar garden today under the presidentship of Mr S.P. Aggarwal, urged the Punjab Government to fill vacant posts of B.Ed teacher in the state at the earliest.

The meeting also expressed concern over the non-recruitment of B.Ed teachers for the past several years.


Jobless teachers’ rally on April 7
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 31
The Unemployed B.Ed Teachers Front has decided to hold rallies at several places in the state to press the government to accept its demands.

A meeting of state and district office-bearers of the association was held here today during which it was decided to hold rallies on April 7 and May 7 at Bathinda and Patiala, respectively. A rally will also be held at Chandigarh.


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