Tuesday, April 2, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vigilance sleuths search Sidhu’s office
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
Punjab vigilance sleuths today searched the office of PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu even as all five members of the commission got together to hold a meeting to discuss the extraordinary circumstances created after the arrest of the Chairman.

More than 20 Vigilance Department officials led by an SP searched the office of the PPSC Chairman. According to sources, the officials searched the office of Mr Sidhu by taking Commission Secretary Pritpal Singh along with them. The office of the Secretary was also inspected by the team.

The sources said the team also inspected the file of Bhupjit Singh, the complainant in the case, who alleged that Mr Sidhu had demanded Rs 35 lakh to facilitate his induction into the Punjab Civil Services. The team remained closeted in the office of the Chairman for more than one and a half hours. However, it could not be ascertained what records were taken away by them.

Meanwhile, all five commission members who met for first time today after the arrest of Mr Sidhu, virtually castigated the Chairman for ignoring the adverse reports regarding corruption which had appeared in the Press in the past. The members said even though this had been brought to the notice of the Chairman, he did not pay heed to them.

It was also decided at the meeting that the senior most member, Ms Harjit Kaur Randhawa, would preside over the meeting of the commission and look after the work in the absence of the Chairman. It was also decided that Major-Gen G.S. Riar (retd) should be made administrative member of the commission.

Talking to TNS, commission member Amarjit Singh Chawla said Secretary Pritpal Singh, who had been asked to tell why the commission records had been burnt twice and with whose permission, had asked for two more days to prepare his reply. Mr Chawla said directions had also been given to the Secretary to provide the members with details of all resolutions passed by the commission since 1990. He said the next meeting of the commission would be held on April 5 to discuss the issue.

Meanwhile, the sources said the Secretary had told the commission members that only record had been burnt which was not needed and that no controversial record had been burnt. The Secretary could not be contacted for his comments.


3 held for ‘bogus’ paddy purchase
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 1
The Vigilance Department today arrested three persons in connection with “bogus” purchase of 4500 bags of paddy worth about Rs 15 lakh which was shown as procured by Markfed from Verowal Mandi in this district during the off season.

Mr Tajinder Paul Singh Sandhu, Superintendent Police (Vigilance), Bawa Mahesh, his son and Harwinder Singh of B.G. Rice Mill, Rayya, had been arrested. They were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate here who gave them police remand till April 3.

Mr Sandhu said earlier the Vigilance Department had arrested Mr Lakhwinder Singh Sekhon, district manager of Markfed who was later released on bail. According to sources, Mr Sekhon is likely to be suspended. More arrests may also take place in the near future.

It may be mentioned here that the accused had evolved a novel method to siphon off the huge amount by showing the purchase on paper only.

The scam was detected by some officials of the Markfed when the owner of the rice mill approached them to make a receipt-cum-inspection note (RCIN) in connivance with high-ups. The officials expressed their inability to give the RCIN, as the paddy was not unloaded on the mill premises (with the given gate passes). The officials then wrote a letter to Markfed’s then Managing Director, Mr D.S. Bains, against the alleged scam. Which reads, “We are in receipt of gate passes, issued by Ranjit Singh, Purchase in charge, Verowal Mandi, through Rayya wherein this stock was to be shifted as per the district manager, Markfed, Amritsar (Mr Lakhwinder Singh Sekhon) vide letter number 5229-32 dated November 9. The rice mill handed over only the gate passes and no stock of crop has since been received by the mill against these gate passes. This proves connivance of the miller to adjust the purchases made by them in their own account.”

The complaint of the officials further reads, “It is not understood as to how these stocks have been shown shifted to above rice mill’s premises prior to issuance of shifting orders by the district manager, Amritsar, and it is more alarming as these stocks have not been received so far actually. This activity shows that to oblige the miller, shifting orders have been issued by the district manager to cover the bogus purchase with stocks purchased by the miller in their own account. Reportedly no purchase actually has been made at Verowal market against the 4500 bags of paddy shown purchased in the first week of November. This is a big fraud played on the government funds. Now we are being forced to issue the RCIN by the district manager and the miller in order to save our skin and responsibility for the bogus shifting of the stocks, it is requested to take immediate stern action and save us from any harassment in this episode.

The inquiry conducted by Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Deputy Chief Manager, Chandigarh, in his report had reportedly indicted senior officers, including the district manager. On his report, the district manager was transferred to Chandigarh. However, by using political connection, Mr Lakhwinder Sigh Sekhon, the district manager, got his transfer cancelled.

Though the then Managing Director, Mr D.S. Bains, took a personal interest to take stringent action against the accused, the Akali government tried to hush up the matter. The case was re-opened when the Congress formed the government in the state.


Govt to take 6,200-cr loan to procure wheat
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
The Punjab Agricultural Advisory Committee Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, said today that there would not be any problem in procuring wheat with the government set to take a Rs 6,200 crore loan from the Reserve Bank of India for the purpose.

Speaking at the Kisan Mela organised by the Young Farmers Association at Rakhra village near here Dr Johal also called for grading of wheat and paddy so that the top quality could be exported to West Asia. He said the grading system should also be made foolproof. He said if the system was successful then the farmers of the state would benefit by getting more value for high quality foodgrains.

Dr Johal also expressed the viewpoint that industries should be introduced in the villages so that the farmers could benefit by working in the industry during the day and tending to their crops in their spare time. He said the system had been tried successfully in Japan.

He said to make the experiment successful the government could exempt the industries set up in the villages from excise duty and sales tax. He said the government on its part could make it mandatory for industrialists to employ only residents of the state.

The committee Chairman also called for giving incentives to farmers to sow oil seed-based crops. He said the country was importing Rs 13,000 crore worth of oil seeds every year. He said production of oil seed-based crops would also benefit the state as the paddy crop had lowered the water table in the state.

Later, Dr Johal and the Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, inspected a demonstration of HD-2687 wheat seed. Speaking on the occasion Young Farmers Association secretary Bhagwan Das Gupta stated that 5,000 bags of PUSA-44 variety and 1,500 bags of PUSA-1 basmati seed were distributed among the people.

Speaking on the occasion Young Farmers Association president J.S. Cheema urged the government to give an alternative to the farmers by giving incentives if it wanted to end the wheat - paddy rotation and bring in diversification in the true sense.

Others who were present on the occasion were Akali legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra and Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh.


SHSAD wants Rs 700 as MSP for wheat
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 1
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) yesterday asked the Union government to announce the minimum support price (MSP) for wheat as Rs 700 per quintal. It also declared that it would launch a campaign from April 13 against the SAD to expose the “misdeeds” of SAD leaders and “mismanagement” in the SGPC with regard to “misuse” of funds and scams like “rumala” scam, if Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his men did not desist from making false statements against SHSAD leaders and SGPC members belonging to the SHSAD in order to mislead the people.

Addressing a press conference here, Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the SHSAD, accused Mr Badal of becoming a hurdle in the way of enhancement of the MSP for wheat. He said on the directions of Mr Badal, the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, preferred to remain a mute spectator at a meeting of the Union Cabinet on the issue of the MSP of wheat while Mr Ajit Singh, Union Agriculture Minister, advocated an increase in the MSP of wheat in that meeting. He said Mr Ajit Singh asked the government to enhance the MSP by Rs 15.


BKNKS workers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 1
Bhartiya Khadya Nigam Karamchari Sangh (BKNKS) workers today organised a rally in front of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) office here as part of their election campaign, being conducted under the Chief Labor Commissioner (Central) to verify the relative strength of each union for the purpose of recognition.

Addressing the rally, the president and general secretary of the BKNKS, Mr Om Pal Singh and Mr M.C. Tyagi, respectively, alleged that the FCI had failed to evolve any scientific norms to avoid storage losses. There was much quality deterioration in spite of studies by different agricultural universities, food technology institutions and recommendations of various committees constituted by the FCI.

Blaming the Central Government for the losses in the FCI, the spokesperson for the union, alleged that the government was issuing foodgrains to the traders at a much lower price in comparison to those provided to the consumers through the PDS, thereby giving benefit of subsidy to the traders instead of consumers.

The speakers also alleged that the class IV employees were being subjected to much discrimination in the promotion scheme by the FCI.



Preneet addresses rallies in Malout
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 1
After Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, his wife Preneet Kaur MP, addressed a series of election rallies in the town late last evening for the Congress-CPI alliance candidate, Mr Nathu Ram.

Ms Preneet Kaur, who reached the town yesterday afternoon also conducted door-to-door campaigning in certain pockets. She tried to establish a rapport with the residents by promising them that special attention would be paid to redress their grievances.

Addressing the rallies, she said the Punjab Government was committed to providing a clean, efficient and transparent administration to the people. A good beginning had been made in this connection as indicated by the auction of liquor vends recently, she added.

Lashing out at Mr Badal for his “misrule” and apathy about development issues, she said the Congress government would not discriminate in matters of development and all areas, whether rural or urban, would get equal attention of the authorities concerned.

She alleged that Mr Badal had managed to win several seats by getting deleted the names of voters who were opposed to him. The Punjab Government would leave no stone unturned to make the state well-equipped to overcome all problems it had been facing due to the “misdeeds” of Akalis, she said.

Mr Surinder Singla, who has been looking after the campaign here, urged the people to ask Mr Badal why he was keeping mum over how he had managed to acquire assets worth Rs 3,500 crore. He said Mr Badal should tell the people why his government had failed to set up the oil refinery in Bathinda district even though the Congress government at the Centre in 1996 had sanctioned it.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, General Secretary, DCC (I), said the Congress would not allow Akalis to grab public property with the use of the police force. Every such property which was in their forcible occupation would be returned to the real claimants, he promised.

Senior Congress leaders, including Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Mr Suresh Gupta, Mr Mansa Ram, Mr K.K. Sharma, Mr Gurmeet Singh, Mr Jeet Mal, Mr Anil Bhola, Mr Sewak Ram, Mr Pardeep Kumar, Mr Darshan Ghuda, Mr Amrit Lal, Mr Harinder Jaurkian, Mr Shamsher Singh Khudian and Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, were also present on the occasion.


3 observers for Malout bypoll
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 1
Following criticism from the SAD leadership for inordinate delay in the appointment of observers for the Malout Assembly elections, the Election Commission today appointed three observers for the same just three days before April 4, the day of polling.

Mr Babu Lal, District Election Officer-cum-Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today, said Mrs Usha R. Sharma, Additional Chief Electoral Officer, would also reach Muktsar today. He added that she would be available for any complaint in connection with the election process at the Canal Rest House there at phone number 63896.

Mr Jagtar Singh, IRS, had been appointed as observer (expenditure) who would stay at the PSEB guest house at Muktsar and would be available at phone number 65109. Mr Alok Chaturvedi, another observer, would reach Muktsar on April 2. He would stay at Canal Rest House there and would be available at phone number 63896.

For the past many days, former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had been urging the Election Commission to appoint observers immediately so that all sorts of violations could be stopped.


Ahluwalia adamant

The Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, appears to be in no mood to oblige the Punjab Government by submitting his resignation. A series of meetings with senior functionaries of the state government during the past few days have reportedly ended in a deadlock.

Dr Ahluwalia had a long meeting with the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, in his office on Friday, in which the Principal secretary to the Chief Minister, Mr S.K. Sinha; Secretary to Governor, Mr S.C. Aggarwal, and the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr N.S. Rattan, were also present. Another meeting followed a day later. Since then, Dr Ahluwalia had maintained a contact with the government through Mr Rattan and had once offered to quit “gracefully”, but it did not happen.

Sources said the Vice-Chancellor wanted to wait for the outcome of his hearings in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in both criminal cases. Though the hearing has been adjourned till April 11, the state administration appears to have taken the tougher line of action against him after all attempts made to persuade him to “quit” failed.

At one stage, he wanted to consult his lawyers and also a senior media functionary before reverting back to the government.


Fine Arts Dept staff,  students to hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 1
The teachers, employees and students of the Department of Fine Arts, Punjabi University, today decided to hold a dharna from tomorrow to protest against "Implication of Dr Saroj Rani, Ms Aman and Mr Jaspal Singh in false cases". The Fine Arts authorities said that the students and staff of the department would observed a two-hour dharna from tomorrow onwards. The Fine Arts Department authorities also informed that they had appealed to the Chief Minister, Punjab, and Member of Lok Sabha Ms Preneet Kaur" not to believe the false allegations being levelled against the department as it was well planned conspiracy".

Meanwhile, the joint action committee (JAC) continued its dharna today and reiterated its demand that the Vice-Chancellor should immediately step down. The JAC also requested the Punjab Government to initiate an enquiry into the "financial irregularities and gross violation of rules and regulations in promotions, admissions and affiliations of institutes of information technology particularly the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information technology."



Saru Rana impleaded in VC case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Ms Saru Rana, complainant in the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor case, was today ordered to be impleaded as a party in the petition filed by the VC seeking the quashing of a first information report registered in the matter.

Issuing directions, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, also granted four days’ time to counsel for Ms Saru Rana to file an affidavit. The Judges directed that a status report on investigations so far conducted submitted by Patiala’s Inspector General of Police Anil Kaushik, should be put in a sealed envelope. The IGP was present in the court.

In their detailed order, the Judges directed Punjab’s Advocate General to retain copies of the status report. “It is expected that the report will not be made public so that prejudice is not caused to either side,” they ruled.

During proceedings, counsel for Ms Saru Rana stated that the state was misusing its machinery. The IGP had asked Saru Rana’s parents to reach a compromise, her counsel alleged. A letter in this regard had been addressed to Punjab’s Director General of Police, he claimed.

Meanwhile, in an affidavit submitted before the Bench, Senior Superintendent of Police Paramjit Singh claimed that the petition for quashing the FIR was not maintainable and deserved to be dismissed on the ground that it was under investigation. He added that the petitioner had not approached the High Court with clean hands and had concealed material facts.

In her complaint, post-graduate student Saru Rana had alleged that “wrong things” were happening in the Department of Fine Arts. She had added that the VC, instead of taking action, had forced her to keep her mouth shut. Seeking the quashing of the FIR, the VC’s counsel had contended that the allegations were vague, aimed at implicating the fine arts faculty. In addition the SSP had ordered prompt registration of the FIR as he was annoyed.

Seeking the quashing of another FIR registered on March 5 under Sections 323, 341, 307, 148, 149, 506 and 120-B IPC, on of Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti’s complaint of being manhandled the VC had contended that he had no grievance against the alleged victim. Moreover, he had nothing to gain from the alleged attack.

Give probe report on Kaunke in 3 weeks

Taking up a petition filed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, for directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to make public the report of inquiry conducted by Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police regarding the alleged murder of Akal Takht Jathedar Gurdev Singh Kaunke, a Division Bench of the High Court today granted three weeks’ time for placing on record the status report on the action taken.

In his petition, taken up by the Bench headed by Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, the petitioner had stated that the Jathedar was shown to have escaped from police custody on January 3, 1993, and since then his whereabouts were not known. In all probability, he had been killed, the petitioner had claimed. His counsel had contended that the ADGP, after submitting the report to the then Chief Minister, had stated that he was being pressurised to give findings against the authorities. The case will now come up on April 23.

Give child’s custody to mother

The High Court has held that the custody of a minor child has to be with the natural guardian unless some valid reason can be shown for justifying refusal.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by a Tarn Taran resident. Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also directed that the custody of the child should be given to the mother. In her petition, the child’s mother, a school teacher, had contended that after the death of her husband in an accident, her in-laws had taken custody of the child.

DC, CE summoned

A Division Bench of the High Court today directed the Deputy Commissioner of Mansa and the Chief Engineer of the Public Welfare Department to be present in court tomorrow after taking up a petition based on a report regarding the dilapidated condition of a college building. The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, also directed the Deputy Advocate-General to contact the Finance Department for release of funds so that construction or repairs could be carried out.


Factions summoned at Akal Takht
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 1
The fight between the two factions over the control of the management of Gurdwara Singh Sabha of Ropar took a new turn today with the faction headed by the former President, Mr Gurdev Singh Kohli, appointing Mr Gurmukh Singh as President.

Today’s function at the gurdwara was attended, among others, by the district president of SAD Mr Pritam Singh Salomajra, and the local SGPC member, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh. With this, both factions have their own Presidents.

Earlier, another faction had on March 24 appointed Mr Amarjit Singh Satyal as President. Mr Satyal’s appointment was, however, marked with a clash between the factions which led the police to intervene.

The group led by Mr Kohli had alleged that the district administration was helping the Satyal group in gaining the control of the gurdwara.

The Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has summoned both factions to the Takht on April 10.

Sources said the Jathedar was contemplating strict action against them.


Minister patronising encroachers?
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 1
While accusing the state Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee of patronising and encouraging encroachers the Punjab BJP today demanded that the Chief Minister should intervene to remove the encroachments on government land in the district.

Mr Mohinder Bhagat, Vice- president of state BJP alleged that though they had been complaining to the local municipal corporation authorities to stop the ongoing illegal construction of seven booths on the road outside Kabir Bhavan in Bhargo Nagar locality for the past several days, but the Commissioner Mr Jagjit Singh had done nothing allegedly due to political pressure exerted by the Congress minister, who is representing Jalandhar (South) constituency.

They criticised the role of the MC Commissioner for his alleged failure to remove encroachments on government land worth crores of rupees. Later the BJP workers and residents of Bhargo Nagar locality held a dharna in front of the Commissioner-office and raised anti-government slogans. Subsequently, the Commissioner who was virtually forced to act against the encroachers , ordered the officials concerned to immediately demolish the structures outside Kabir Bhavan.

Though the civic body staff demolished the booths late in the afternoon, but the Punjab BJP reiterated its stand for the intervention of Capt Amarinder Singh for the removal of encroachments on government land. “Mr Kaypee is shielding the unscrupulous elements, who are being given free hand to grab vacant government land worth crores of rupees in the city,” he alleged.

On the other hand, Raj Rani,of Bhargo Nagar locality, who is allegedly constructing a booth, said she had been running a meat vend for the past 25 years at the same place. She had only vacated the place for the construction of Kabir Bhavan when BJP leader and former MLA Chunni Lal Bhagat had assured that she would be allowed to construct a booth outside the bhavan. “The booth was the only source of income for me and I am virtually on road after the demolition of the booth. I will self immolate in front of the bhavan” she rued.

When contacted, Mr Kaypee said he was not aware about the encroachments on government land in the Bhargo Nagar locality. “I had been camping in Malout constituency for the past one week and can only the comment on the situation after the visiting the place personally after the completion of election process,” he added.


Pakistan national languishing in jail

Amritsar, April 1
All goodwill gestures that have marked the much hyped highs of Indo-Pak relations seem to have bypassed Mukhtyar Ahmed, a Pakistan national, who has been languishing in Amritsar Central jail even five years after the completion of his seven-year sentence.

Mukhtyar claims that his sentence got completed in 1997. “But the tardy process of law in Pakistan seems to be reluctant to seek my repatriation”, he told a visiting PTI correspondent.

According to Mukhtyar, the Indian Government put up his case in the list of foreign nationals who after the completion of their sentence are released subject to the acceptance of their respective foreign governments.

“The Pakistani team met me at Jaipur after having the complete verification of my antecedents from the police station concerned in Pakistan but I was not called for the interview as some required papers were not with the Pakistani team due to which I was left out”.

Mukhtyar Ahmed (44) was arrested in December, 1989, by the BSF near the Indo-Pak border at Mandot-Joginder BOP on charges of espionage and carrying opium. After a two-year trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to a jail term of seven years which he spent in Patiala, Ferozepore and Amritsar jails.

A resident of Kasoor district of Pakistan, Mukhtyar claims to be an owner of 65 acres of agricultural land there. He was married in 1982 and has three children, with whom he said was maintaining regular postal contact.

“I usually get letters after a gap of six months from the date of mailing. It seems that my letter has to face strict scrutiny before reaching me, he said, adding that he had received no information from them for the last six months.

The delay in his release is not on the part of Amritsar Central Jail, said Jail Deputy Superintendent Hardip Singh Chabba, who confirmed the facts regarding the Pakistani national. PTI


Judicial remand for Keetu till April 15
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 1
Though Malkiat Singh Keetu, MLA here was today remanded in judicial custody till April 15 when he was produced in the court of Mr Rakesh Gupta, Civil Judge (Junior Division)-cum-Judicial Magistrate (First Class), the district police had to face a tough time at the local courts complex.

The policemen on duty at the complex invited the wrath of the Bar Association here when they did not allow even the lawyers to enter the complex.

The situation took a very awkward turn when the policemen on duty stopped Mr Mukand Singh Uppal, president of the Barnala Bar Association, from entering the complex. He even disclosed his identity but in vain.

Keeping this in view a deputation of the Barnala Bar Association called upon Mr S.S. Gupta, Additional District Sessions Judge (I), in this regard. Mr Gupta instructed police officials on duty to lift the illegal blockade immediately.

The Bar expressed resentment against the misconduct of the police and decided to boycott court work for today.

Supporters of Keetu, including a large number of men and women, blocked traffic for about more than two hours at the local courts complex in order to protest his implication in an alleged false case. 


Garbage collects as employees’ strike continues
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 1
The ongoing strike of employees, including safai karamcharis of the local municipal council, for the past one week in protest against the non-payment of salaries, has started causing inconvenience to the residents here as piles of garbage, filth and chocked drains dotting the town. This may cause disease in the town, but neither the municipal council nor the district administration is taking any step to solve the problem.

Instead, with the formation of a Congress government in the state, the issue is being politicised as the president of the council, Mr Chamkaur Singh Kauri, belongs to the BJP. Mr Kauri and supporters of Mr Parkash Singh, Congress MLA, are busy levelling allegations and counter-allegations on each other for financial crisis being faced by the council.

Mr Surinder Mohan Tejpal, Municipal Councilor, in a press statement here today demanded that the government should dissolved the council and appoint the local SDM as its administrator so that some concrete steps could be taken to improve the financial health of the council instead of making it just a political issue. He also urged the newly elected MLA to take note of the grim financial position of the council and to make efforts to improve it so that the development activities in the town could be undertaken.


Cong for promotion of Punjabi
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
The Congress MLA from Phagwara and a former Punjab Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, today asserted that the Congress was more committed to the promotion of Punjabi language than Akalis who were raising objections about its use in the Vidhan Sabha just to divert public attention from the crusade launched by the Congress government against corruption.

Replying to mediapersons’ questions about the controversy, Mr Mann made it clear that most of the Congress MLAs spoke in Punjabi in the Assembly but in case someone chose to speak in English or Hindi, he was within the constitutional rights to do so. The SAD-BJP regime had become an epitome of corruption and its leaders had launched a disinformation campaign about the language just to cover up their misdeeds, alleged Mr Mann.

Going to step further, Mr Mann demanded that even the proceedings of the High Court and the work of the Secretariat should be conducted in Punjabi. We simply cannot afford to ignore our mother tongue, which was also the language of the holy Granth Sahib, quipped Mr Mann. The Akalis had no locus standi to speak for Punjabi since they had introduced English from first standard in schools during their regime, he added.


Soldiers train guns on illiteracy

Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur) April 1
It is a military campaign that breaks through illiteracy.

A teaching mission called “Jagran has been initiated by the Army in the border area of Kasowal which aims at promoting educational awareness among unschooled rural children and their parents.

As part of this programme, the Army has restarted a primary school in Ghanie Ke Bet village of Kasowal Bulge. Children below 14 are being encouraged to attend it regularly.

“It was initially difficult to encourage children, who work in the fields, to attend school. But once the parents and children realised the nobility and genuineness of the intent, they cooperated fully,’’ an army official told visiting mediapersons. However, the programme started receiving good response gradually, he added.

The Army has distributed textbooks, notebooks and other writing material free of cost to the children.

Soldiers teach them basic reading, writing, mathematics, moral science, health and hygiene. Students also learn to sing the National Anthem and take part in sports.

After class, they are given refreshments. “It is very interesting. We wish it lasts forever,” says Ramandeep, whose father is a local farmer.


Medical allowance to Railways pensioners stopped
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The Punjab Law Forum has alleged that pensioners of the Railways Department were not given medical allowance to which they were entitled to as per the recommendations of the Fifth Central Pay Commission.

In a letter written to the Union Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, the forum stated that the railway authorities had asked the bank officials of the city not to pay Rs 100 as medical allowance to the railway pensioners from February. It had also asked for the recovery of the amount paid earlier to the pensioners as medical allowance.

Mr M.M. Behl, secretary of the forum, said the decision of the railway authorities was against the interests of the pensioners. He said as per the recommendations of the commission the retired persons residing at places which were not being covered by the Central Government Health Scheme (CGHS) should be paid Rs 100 as medical allowance. He said 24 cities were covered under the CGHS and Bathinda was not one of them.

Mr Behl said the railway pensioners got the said amount after the recommendations were implemented. He alleged that the decision to stop the payment of allowance was taken suddenly without assigning any reason for the same.

He further said the Railway Department after consultation with the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare had issued memorandum in April, 2000, by stating that the medical allowance of Rs 100 per month would be given to those Central civilian government pensioners whose places of residence were not served by the CGHS.

It urged the Union Railway Minister to intervene and issue necessary instructions to the officials concerned to give medical allowance to the pensioners.

Mr Behl said if their demand was not fulfilled they would go to court to get justice.


Doctor's repatriation right step: PCMSA
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The National Medicos Forum (NMF), Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), and the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) have welcomed the decision of the government to repatriate doctors who were on deputation to city hospitals. The associations said this would benefit people living in the rural areas.

This was stated in a joint press note today by Dr D.C. Sharma, senior PCMS leader, and President, of the NMF, Dr D.S. Bhullar.

They said the health facilities in the rural areas were affected when several doctors were transferred on deputation to urban hospitals. They said some of them even got their posts shifted to the city hospitals.

They also said the recommendations of the pay commission had not been implemented. They urged the present government to do something in this regard.

The doctors were also against the formation of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) and said since its formation, the poor had not benefited in any way.

They alleged that the PHSC had failed to achieve the results for which it had been formed.

The doctors urged the Chief Minister to hold a high-level inquiry into the alleged irregularities in the functioning of the PHSC. They said the allegations levelled against officials of the PHSC in the purchase of equipment, medicines, appointments and other works undertaken by it should be probed.

They alleged that the steps taken by the previous government were aimed at privatising the Health Department, which they said would mean no cheaper treatment for the poor.


IMA seeks concessions for private doctors
Our Correspondent

Barnala, April 1
The Punjab Indian Medical Association (IMA) has urged the Punjab Government to give concessions and patronage to doctors serving in the private sector, charging of electricity bills at domestic rates instead of commercial rates, provisions for soft-term loans to private doctors, and creating infrastructure in the rural and semi-urban areas to bring down the costly treatment.

Dr R.C. Garg, President of the association, said yesterday that a memorandum had been given to Mr Romesh Dogra, Punjab Health, Family Welfare and Medical Education Minister at Hoshiarpur in this regard.

He said the government should encourage doctors to set up clinics in the rural and semi-urban areas by giving them land at reduced or reserve price. 


Salmon good for heart: cardiologist
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Phambian (Hoshiarpur), April 1
“Eskimos and other salmon eaters have little chance of contracting a heart disease,” says Dr Brij Bhambi, one of the top cardiologists of Indian origin in the USA and the Chief of Staff of the California-based Central Cardiology Medical Clinic.

Dr Bhambi, who claims to have initiated coronary stent angioplasty programmes at San Jaoquin Hospital and Bakersfield Memorial Hospital has specialised in nuclear and interventional cardiology. He was on a private visit to his native village near Sham Churasi in Hoshiarpur district.

Talking about the relation between dietary habits and heart diseases, Dr Bhambi said he had observed that heart diseases were not witnessed in those who made salmon a part of their food. “Salmon has a lot of Omega-3 acid, which prevents a heart stroke. Since Eskimos eat a lot of salmon, they are usually free from heart diseases,” said Dr Bhambi. He observed that red wine was good for health and useful against heart diseases. “Red wine is helpful since it contains anti-oxidants, Dr Bhambi said.

He said smoking was the single largest cause of preventable deaths all over the world. He said a heart stroke was very dangerous as compared to a heart attack. “A heart stroke should be prevented at any cost,” he said.

Dr Bhambi said human life was more valued in the West, where the quality of medicare was higher as compared to India. Interestingly, Dr Bhambi is a personal medical adviser to a number of top Indian film stars, whose names he wished should not be quoted.


Film producer gets police remand
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
A Punjabi film producer, arrested yesterday under Sections 420, 406 and 120-B of the IPC and Section 24 of the Immigration Act for cheating Gurmej Lal of Balalon village and Saravjit Singh of Khusropur village by promising to send them to the USA, was today remanded in police custody till April 3.

It is learnt that Pargan Singh Purewal, and his friend duped the two youths of Rs 4.90 lakh in 1998 for giving them a role in a Punjabi film whose shooting was to be done in the USA. He assured the youths that he would get them settled in the USA after the shooting.

However, the film was shot in India. The youths were taken to Delhi and after getting their signatures on papers, they were sent back to Punjab.

However, even after four years, the youths were neither sent to the USA nor was the amount returned to them. They reported the matter to the police, leading to the arrest of the producer. 


Drowned woman was mentally ill, says brother
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Kailash Chander, a local resident and brother of Sneh Lata, who had drowned a few days ago in a lake of the local thermal plant, has said she did not have any marital problem and no case had been registered as had appeared in a section of the Press.

In a written statement issued to the Press yesterday by Kailash Chander, it was stated that Sneh Lata had been suffering from depression since childhood. She had been getting treatment from a psychiatrist, he said. He further stated that full records about her had been submitted to the Thermal police station. He further said the police had completed the proceedings under Section 174 of the Cr PC.


Bathinda credit plan launched
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The annual credit plan for the district for the financial year 2002-2003 was launched today by Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner. The Rs 512.41-crore scheme would cover 2,69,215 beneficiaries under various categories.

The plan for the current financial year is Rs 40.12 crore, more than that of the previous year which was Rs 472.29, thus an increase of 8.5 per cent.

Mr Kharbanda said the target of 400 cases under the PMRY scheme had since been achieved. He said the target could be achieved with the cooperation of bankers and the DIC.

The allocation for agriculture for the current financial year had been fixed at 412.43 crore while for industries, the target was Rs 43.22 crore and for the service sector, it was Rs 56.76 crore. In addition to this, Rs 31.48 crore had been allocated for non-priority sector.

Mr Kharbanda said the bankers should start working immediately so that targets could be achieved in the specified time. He said the coordination of the banks and government departments was necessary for the development of the district.

Mr M.D. Balani, DGM, State Bank of Patiala, said during the previous financial year, the banks had given 60,000 kisan credit cards which amounted to Rs 221 crore. He also spoke about various credit schemes launched by commercial banks in the district.


Sirhind SHO suspended
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 1
Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, today suspended Kashmira Singh, SHO, Sirhind, and sent him to the police lines for not handling the custodial death of a former sarpanch properly. Earlier, a deputation of the people led by Mr Pawan Kumar, sarpanch of Alluna village, had met the SSP and demanded the arrest of Gamdur Singh, a resident of Dera Mir Miran village, who had accompanied the police party when the sarpanch, Jagjit Singh was picked up.

The sarpanch of Alluna village had died in police custody. Villagers and relatives of the deceased had been alleging that he died due to the torture by the police, where as the Sirhind police says that they had picked up the sarpanch to recover an abducted girl and when he was taken to recover the girl he developed chest pain and was taken to the Civil Hospital, Fatehgarh Sahib, where he died.

The residents of Alluna village had staged the dharna and demanded action against the police party as well as the man accompanying the police party.

Mr Pawan Kumar told Ludhiana Tribune at the SSP’s office that they have presented a memorandum to the SSP and have demanded that Gamdur Singh should be arrested as on his behest the police party has raided the house of Jagjit Singh and he also accompanied the police. He said that Gamdur Singh has falsely implicated the former sarpanch in the case. He expressed satisfaction over the action taken by the SSP and said that SSP has assured to arrest him soon.

When contacted the SSP said all the accused including the police party has been arrested.


Poppy husk worth 2 lakh seized, 5 held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 1
The district police has arrested five persons and seized poppy husk worth Rs 2 lakh from them.

In a press note issued here today, the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, said those arrested included Pargat Singh, a resident of Dina village in Moga district, Jaswant Singh, alias Babbal, Sukhwinder Singh and Baljinder Singh.

He pointed out that Pargat Singh, against whom proceedings had been launched to declare him as proclaimed offender in another case registered under the NDPS Act, was arrested for being in possession of seven bags of poppy husk and tractor-trailer on which he was carrying the same. Pargat Singh had been evading arrest since June 29, 2001.

Jaswant Singh, who had been bringing poppy husk from Rajasthan at the rate of Rs 7,000 per bag of 30 kg each, was selling the same at the rate of Rs 10,000. 


7-member gang busted
The Patiala police today nabbed seven members of an inter-state gang who have been active in this region for quite some time. The Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Omra Nangal, informed that a .12 bore country made pistol along with three cartridges and some sharp edged weapons were found on the gang members. The arrested members include Vipin Kumar, Ram, Yashpal, Bhaksish Ali, Sonu and Hardeep Ali. The gang used to intoxicate its victims or throw chilies in their eyes.


GND varsity appoints two Deans
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 1
The Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, has appointed Dr Bikramjit Singh Ghumman, a Professor in the School of Punjabi Studies Dean, Academic Affairs, and Dr R.K. Bedi, a Professor in the Physics Department, Dean, Students Welfare.

Dr Ghumman and Dr Bedi have taken charge of their new assignments. Dr Gurnam Singh, a Professor of Political Science, has been appointed Director, Research, and Dr B.R. Batra, Professor at the Guru Ram Dass School of Planning, Director, Planning and Monitoring.

Dr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, a Reader in the Department of Commerce and Business Management, and Dr Gurpreet Bal have been appointed as Wardens of boys and girls hostels respectively. Dr Swarn Singh, Principal, Guru Nanak Dev University College, Jalandhar, will continue as Dean, Students Welfare of Regional Centre (Jalandhar).


Candidates contest B.Ed results
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 1
Though the much-awaited result of the B.Ed candidates belonging to this district, who had applied for the ETT posts, were declared today, many candidates have contested the list declared by the department. Due to this the appointment letters and the allotment of stations process, which was started in the morning by DEO(P) office, was withheld.

A large number of candidates while talking to Ludhiana Tribune in front of the DEO (P) office said the names of all those who had been leading the agitation to get the result declared had not figured in the list. They alleged that the list declared by the department did not indicate the percentage of marks obtained by the successful candidates. They also handed over a copy of the list to this correspondent. They said it was mandatory to show the percentage of marks obtained by the selected candidates due to the directions given by High Court.

They also alleged that certain successful candidates had less marks than them, but had managed to get their names included in the list. The department had totally ignored the merit and they were planning to approach High Court in this regard. The candidates also alleged that there were 123 posts for the general category, whereas in the general category, names of 22 boys and 21 girls figured.

They also alleged that certain so-called leaders of unemployed teachers front, who belong to the SC category, managed to get their name included in the general category. Moreover, the name of one of the general category candidates also figures in the reserve category.

It maybe recalled that the State Government had advertised 7,230 posts of ETT teacher about two years ago and applications were also called from B.Ed candidates. After the directions of High Court, interviews were conducted and results of selected candidates were declared except Fatehgarh Sahib district in December 2001. It was alleged that the results of the district had been withheld as the then DEO (P) had refused to change the selection list prepared by him as per the wishes of the then Education Minister. The annoyed minister not only changed the DEO(P) but also transferred him.

The unemployed teachers union had been organising dharnas to get the result declared. Now as the list had been declared, the candidates have again revolted and complained to the DEO(P), Deputy Commissioner, DPI and even to the Education Minister and urged them not to issue the appointment letters.

Ms Kalraj Kaur DEO (P) refuted the allegation that the list had been declared without showing the percentage of marks. She said the list with her office had got the percentage of marks and the list without percentage of marks was shown. She said she did not know from where the candidates got this list. She said as far as ignoring the merit is concerned, it is up to the chairman of the selection committee to see and it is not my responsibility. She said she had started giving the appointment letters as well as stations to female candidates today and the male candidates would be given tomorrow. She said out of 123 posts, 101 had been fulfilled.

Sources in the department revealed that the process initiated to issue the appointment letters as well as stations had been stalled on the telephonic directions of the DPI as certain candidates had objected to the list and the Education Minister had taken the note why the list had been declared without showing the percentage of marks against the names of successful candidates. The appointment letters could not be given today.

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