Thursday, April 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Voters’ deletion: panel seeks complaints
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The high-level committee to inquire into large scale deletion of names of voters from the electoral rolls for the elections to the Punjab Assembly in February, has started its work by inviting complaints from the rural and urban voters.

The committee, headed by Mr R.P.S. Pawar, Principal Secretary, Information Technology, will look into the reasons and circumstances for deleting the names of genuine voters, who have voter identity cards but could not exercise their valuable right to vote in the last Assembly elections.

Other members of the committee are the divisional commissioners of the division concerned and the deputy commissioners of the district concerned. The jurisdiction of the committee shall be the entire state of Punjab.

The committee has decided to issue a public notice to all voters concerned, sarpanches and panches in rural areas and municipal councillors in urban areas to lodge their complaints alongwith proof with the commission through their respective tehsildars, subdivisional magistrates or deputy commissioners within 15 days.

The government had notified the constitution of this committee on March 21 after a large number of complaints were received from voters throughout the state. The Tribune had highlighted this issue on the day of polling. In an alleged last-minute revision of electoral rolls, blue stars or red ink was used against certain names and all those who had such markings against their names on the electoral rolls were denied the right to vote. In some polling booths, the number of such voters was as large as 10 per cent. These voters protested and even met the tehsildars, subdivisional magistrates and even deputy commissioners in their endeavour to exercise franchise, but without success. When such complaints were brought to the notice of the new Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, he directed the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, to look into this serious complaint and hold a thorough inquiry to fix responsibility, besides taking necessary action against those found guilty.


Badal sees unfair polling in Malout
Tribune News Service

Campaigning in Malout
Campaigning in Malout. — Paramjit Singh Happy

Chandigarh, April 3
Mr Parkash Singh Badal is apprehensive that the byelection in Malout tomorrow would neither be fair nor free, going by the alleged intimidation of voters and Akali workers by the state machinery, particularly, the police.

Talking to TNS from his native village, the former Chief Minister alleged that the ‘’’politicisation’’ of the state police was complete and evident from what was happening in the Malout Assembly Constituency. He said he had information that batches of 20 police commandos each, in civil clothes, were deputed to the polling stations. He did not rule out ‘’booth-capturing’’ by them.

Mr Badal named the Ferozepore range DIG, Mr Mohammad Mustafa, whose wife is the Congress MLA from Malerkotla, for actively canvassing for the CPI candidate. DGP M.S. Bhullar’s son had lost the election in Zira. As such, the police was active in Malout, thanks also to the patronage of the Muktsar Senior Superintendent of Police, he added

Mr Badal was upset that the Election Commission of India had not sent any observer and was a mute witness to the misuse of government machinery. The Akali workers were being harassed and picked up despite a majority of them having secured blanket bail from the Sessions Judge. ‘’The state Congress is creating havoc and the people are unable to fight the police. Even officials of the civil supplies are camping and coaxing voters in favour of the CPI,” he alleged.

He said the Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had personally met the commission in New Delhi today to lodge SAD’s protest. The commission must deploy paramilitary forces for ‘’free, fair and peaceful elections’’, he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal alleged that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had not done enough to ensure a higher minimum support price for wheat. The Chief Minister, in the interest of farmers, should have built pressure on the Centre for a higher price. He recalled his own time when along with Mr Om Prakash Chautala and others, he had worked hard for the remunerative prices for wheat and paddy.

Mr Badal rejected the meagre raise by Rs 10 per quintal, pegging the price at Rs 620 per quintal. The announcement by New Delhi was ‘’one-sided’’ since it did not take into account Punjab’s view due to the cost of production that has gone up manifold.

Courts closed at Malout today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 3
The Punjab and Haryana High Court in a notification today declared April 4 a holiday in the judicial courts located within the jurisdiction of 107-Malout (SC) Assembly constituency due to byelections.

An order to this effect was issued by the Deputy Registrar (General) on behalf of the Chief Justice and judges of the high court.

Date for receiving complaints extended
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
The date for receiving complaints regarding deletion of names from the voters’ list has been extended till April 8. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said in a press note here today that if any person had complaint regarding deletion of his name from the voters’ list he could approach the officials concerned.

He said voters of Pakka Kalan constituency should approach Subdivisional Magistrate (SDM), Bathinda, Nathana voters should go to SDM Rampura Phul, Rampura Phul voters of the Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda voters to the ADC (D), Bathinda, and Talwandi Sabo voters to the District Transport Officer, Bathinda.


Bhattal for hike in wheat MSP
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Lehragaga (Sangrur), April 3
Expressing dissatisfaction over the increase of only Rs 10 per quintal in the minimum support price (MSP) of wheat by the Union Government this year, the Punjab Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, today urged the Vajpayee-led NDA government to review its decision over the MSP of wheat to increase the MSP up to the expectations of the farmers.

Talking to mediapersons before addressing a farmers’ training camp, organised by the Agriculture Department here, Mrs Bhattal said this meagure increase in the MSP of wheat was a cruel joke with the farmers. She claimed though a central committee had recommended an increase of Rs 15 per quintal in the MSP of last year, the Union Government had not heeded to that recommendation.

To a question on bonus on wheat, said she could not say anything at this stage. She said the state government would wait and see if the Union Government reviewed the MSP of wheat or not. With regard to the Rs 30 per quintal bonus on paddy sold by the farmers in the last paddy procurement season, as announced by the Congress before and during Assembly elections, Mrs Bhattal evaded a direct reply. She said the Congress government would fulfil the promises made during the Assembly elections.

Mrs Bhattal who was on her first visit to her constituency (Lehra) after becoming a Cabinet Minister also disclosed that the formation of the Johl Committee on agriculture would be completed in a week.

She stated that the government in Punjab would take steps to ensure that farmers did not commit suicide.

Mrs Bhattal appealed to the dealers of the pesticide and insecticide to sell genuine pesticides, otherwise the government would take action against them.

She also announced that the state government was preparing a plan to lay sewer lines in the rural areas.

Mrs Bhattal welcomed the approval of Bt cotton cultivation by the Union Government. Her ministry would arrange meetings between officials of the Agriculture Department and the Rural Development Department every fortnight to know whether the farmers were getting benefits from the government’s schemes.

She informed the Punjab Government had decided to hold the elections to the block panchayat samitis and zila parishads in June.

Regarding the Ghaggar problem, she said the government would solve this problem on priority.

Amarinder failed farmers: Badal
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 3
Former Chief Minister and President of the SAD Parkash Singh Badal today accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh of failing to present the farmers’ case strongly on the issue of minimum support price (MSP) for wheat.

Holding Capt Amarinder Singh responsible for causing loss to the tune of hundreds of crores to the farmers on account of a hike of only Rs 10 in the MSP as compared to a hike of the Rs 30 in the same last year, Mr Badal said though he was ready to present the farmers’ case before the Centre, his services were not taken.

He said it was the first big failure of the Congress government in the state. He said instead of taking a “revenge” on political opponents, Capt Amarinder Singh should sit in New Delhi and persuade the Centre to hike the MSP.

He said last year, the Agriculture Price Commission recommended a reduction in the MSP for wheat. Nevertheless, he personally camped in Delhi for weeks and lobbied for a hike along with Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. Ultimately, the farmers got an increase of Rs 30 per quintal.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh should have gone to Delhi with a strong case based on facts and data. But he wasted that time on petty issue like transfers and getting false cases registered against his political opponents, Mr Badal said.

“Everybody knows how we used to fight for the interests of the farmers in Delhi. Obviously, the new Chief Minister deems it below his dignity to do the hard work required to safeguard the interests of people of the state. He must change his style or the state and its economy would go to ruins, he said.



Further remand for Ravi Sidhu
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 3
Mr Roshan Lal Chohan, Judicial Magistrate, today extended the remand of Mr Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, PPSC Chairman, in police custody till April 5.The public prosecutor, the SP, Mr Jaskarn Singh, and DSP (Vigilance) Jora Singh Brar appeared in the court and pleaded for five more days of police remand. They said Dr Shamsher Singh, Paramjit Singh, Randhir Singh and Prem Sagar who were working as the middlemen for the accused, were yet to be arrested.

They pleaded that these persons would give information about lockers and bank accounts of the accused. Raids had been conducted on their residences but they were reportedly absconding.

The defence counsel on the other hand argued that the prosecution was preparing false stories. They said the police was working under pressure of the Punjab Government.

Asked by the court, Mr Sidhu alleged that he was being harassed and not being allowed to sleep. He was also not being given proper medical treatment.

Mr Jaskarn Singh refuted the charges and said the accused was given proper treatment as per the directions given by doctors of Government Medical College, Sector 32, Chandigarh. The court told the prosecution that the directions given by the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the accused should be strictly followed.

Reply to Sidhu’s charges: court
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 3
Ropar Additional Sessions Judge A.S. Kathuria has issued a notice to the State of Punjab for April 8 and directed it to file a reply on the charges filed by council of the PPSC Chairman, Mr Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu.

The notice is on a criminal revision petition filed before the said judge by Mr Sidhu, seeking that the orders passed by a Kharar court remanding him in to police custody be set aside.


Gold medallist denied job by PPSC?
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
“I might have used my time in developing ‘contacts’ in place of ‘wasting’ it on studies if I knew that these were more important than good marks for getting a job,” lamented Dr Poonam Batra, a postgraduate in veterinary surgery and radiology and a gold medallist in B.V. Sc & A.H., who was not found fit for the post of Veterinary Officer, the interview for which was conducted in January by the PPSC.

Dr Batra was a scholarship holder and the topper while she studied for Bachelor of Veterinary Sciences and Animal Husbandry (B.V. Sc & A.H.) and Masters in Veterinary Sciences (M.V.Sc) at Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana. She alleged that many candidates whose academic performance was inferior than her were selected because they had allegedly made payments to achieve their purpose.

Dr Batra said she had the highest grade points (8.34 out of 10 for B.V. Sc & A.H. and 8.46 out of 10 M.V. Sc) among the candidates who appeared for the interview. But her name did not figure in the list of selected candidates.

Talking to this correspondent, she said she was not able to understand the relevance of some questions asked by a member of the interview panel. One of the members asked her about the speciality of her native village Pakhowal in Ludhiana district, a question she failed to answer. She said the member asked her about the distance of a particular village from her village and told her that his sister resided there.

Dr Batra, who is presently working on a contract basis at the local Veterinary Polyclinic, said she had answered all questions asked by the panel that were related to the subject and concerned with the duties to be performed as a Veterinary Officer.

She said the arrest of the PPSC Chairman had raised her hopes. She has written a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who has claimed to weed out corruption from the PPSC and other such institutions. In the letter, she has stated that the PPSC has become an auction counter where jobs were given in lieu of money.

She has urged the Chief Minister to put a curb on the malpractices in institutions like the PPSC. 


Move to shift ammo depot irks villagers
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 3
The state government’s move to shift the Baddowal Ammunition Depot to Mullanpur Dakha has sparked off strong protests from at last seven nearby villages. The district administration has undertaken a survey of the area to identify the site for the depot.

Panchayats of seven villages Sawadi, Talwandi Kalan, Virk, Shekhpura, Garuhe and Morrkarima held a meeting at Talwandi Kalan here today and decided to oppose ‘tooth and nail’ any such move of the government.

The meeting was held after a team of the district administration conducted a survey of the village to select the site for the depot. After learning about the survey, panic spread in the villages as residents feared displacement and acquistion of their fertile land on low rates by the government.

Deputy Commissioner Anurag Aggarwal, when contacted, confirmed that move was on to look for an alternate site for the depot but it was not sure if the site would be near Mullanpur Dakha. He said the government would take all factors into consideration before approving any site.

Reliable sources in the administration revealed that there were strong indications that the site for the depot would be the one falling in these villages. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) had approved the plan of shifting the depot from near Ludhiana, where it was considered a major threat to the life and property particularly in the wake of a number of fire incident in ammunition depots in Pathankot and Rajasthan.

The MOD clause says that keeping in mind the huge financial burden of the shifting of the depot, the state government should search for a site near the present location of the depot. Sources said another reason was the depot cannot be shifted more towards the Jagraon side because of proximity to the border.

Unwilling to take this argument, villagers say the government would lose more financially if they decide to set up the depot in these villages. Mr Gurmail Singh, Sarpanch Talwandi Kalan and spokesperson for the seven village panchayats said the land here was highly fertile. Beside residents would be displaced as several houses would come in the over 3000 acres of land required for the setting up of the depot. He said the depot might face problems of residents living around it even if it was shifted here.

Mr Gurmail Singh said emotions were running high in the village as several families living there were earlier forced to leave their houses during the partition or later during the terrorism days or Delhi riots.

The Baddowal Ammunition Depot had remained in controversy for the past couple of years. The Army authorities had issued notices to persons living in an area of 1000 meters of the depot and had banned all construction activity. Later, the residents demanded its immediate shifting after the fire incidents took place in some ammunition depots. Last year, four marriage palaces were demolished for violating the Army orders.


Media pulled up for making woman suffer
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 3
The magisterial inquiry into a case in which Swaran Kaur, a resident of Kotla Nihang village near Ropar, had to suffer social boycott due to the apprehension of her being an AIDS patient has severely reprimanded the press for creating a situation which led to the sufferings of the woman.

In the inquiry report, a copy of which was acquired by The Tribune, the SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, has stated that the sarpanch of Kotla Nihang village received a registered letter on December 12, 2001 in which it was alleged that Swaran Kaur was suffering from AIDS and was of loose character. The letter was written on the pad of Dr Ranjana, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology, in the PGI, Chandigarh.

The general secretary of the youth club of the village was sent to the PGI to inquire into the matter, who stated that the letter was fake.

The news regarding the letters declaring Swaran Kaur an AIDS patient appeared in two Punjabi dailies on December 25 leading to the alleged social boycott of the said woman.

Though the PGI authorities tried the damage control exercise by getting published a news item on January 11 and getting a case registered with the Chandigarh police for the misuse of the PGI letter head, but in vain, the magisterial inquiry stated.

The inquiry tried to locate the source of the fake letter which led to the suffering of Swaran Kaur. From the facts collected from various sources it was revealed that the victim along with her acquaintance Kuldeep Singh had got a rape case registered against certain residents of SAS Nagar. Though the case was dismissed, the accused allegedly tried to seek their revenge by posting the defamatory letter in the village of Swaran Kaur.

The report further states that due to the efforts of the district administration and the local NGOs the family of Swaran Kaur was not facing any kind of discrimination in the village now.

It has recommended to the district administration that some financial aid should be given to the family.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, when asked about the follow-up of the inquiry report said all financial help would be provided to the family.


SHSAD resents voters’ forms in English
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 3
Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has taken strong exception to the publishing of voters application forms, for the coming elections to the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, by the Punjab Government in English. In a joint statement senior SHSAD leaders, including Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr Bikramjit Singh Khalsa and others, have demanded that the forms be published in Punjabi.

The leaders said people would face a lot of difficulty in filling these forms since many of them did not know English. They said when they tried to contact the Additional Deputy Commissioner in this regard, they were told that the forms had been published by the government and that they could hardly do anything about it.

While criticising the Congress government for publishing these forms in English the leaders alleged that it betrayed the lack of commitment of the new government towards Punjabi. They demanded that the forms be made available in Punjabi also.


Villagers oppose another bundh

Kapurthala, April 3
Residents of more than a dozen villages of the Mand area of Sultanpur Lodhi have said the construction of another proposed advance bundh to be built adjoining the Dhussi bundh by the Amritsar circle of the Drainage Department should be stopped to save their land from floods.

The residents of Sujjokalia, Bharona, Sheikh-Monga, Ahluwal, Lakhwarian, Ahlikalan and Passan Kadim villages today met Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Verma during his inspection of the bundh and urged him to take steps to stop the construction of the proposed bundh.

The Deputy Commissioner assured them to take up the matter with the government. He accompanied by Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) J.S. Brar and SDM Jivan Garg, inspected the Dhussi bundh from Gidderpindi to Talwandi Chaudhrian and the advance bundh from Sujjokalia to Passan Kadim.

The Deputy Commissioner directed the Drainage Department to resurvey the proposed bundh to be constructed from Darewal to Bharona village in order to save more than, 3,300 acres of fertile land from floods. Residents of Dera Nihangs have demanded the construction of two more spurs to check soil erosion.

The department had been asked to prepare a detailed report of the strengthening of the Dhussi bundh for forwarding it to the government for the release of funds. UNI


Give Sikhs separate status: Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 3
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today asked the Union Government to amend Article 25 of the Constitution to give the Sikhs a separate status as recommended by the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution headed by former Chief Justice, Justice M.N. Venkatachaliah, which had favoured Sikhism as a separate religion.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, Mr Mann also condemned the alleged police torture of Barnala SAD MLA Malkiat Singh Keetu during the police remand, and demanded a judicial inquiry into the incident.

Mr Mann also condemned the Union Government for not giving permission to the Sikh jathas to visit Sikh shrines in Pakistan on “Baisakhi”. He said this was an act of the “injustice”.

The SAD(A) President also demanded heavy compensation for farmers of border areas (Ferozepur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar) whose standing crops had been damaged due to an Army build-up.

Mr Mann also criticised the Union Government for increasing by only Rs 10 per quintal the MSP of wheat despite the fact that the cost of agriculture inputs had increased manifold. He demanded Rs 760 per quintal as MSP of wheat.

Mr Mann also reiterated that his party would not allow the flow of even a single drop of Punjab’s water to Haryana. He said his party would not allow the construction of the SYL canal. He said the Supreme Court could not interfere in the water disputes as this matter did not fall in its jurisdiction.


Dalit Sena’s charge against police, DC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
Mr Kiranjeet Singh Gehri, President, Dalit Sena, has alleged that the police was not releasing some of the residents, who were arrested after a case was registered against them, although both parties had reached a compromise. He also alleged that the behaviour of the Deputy Commissioner was not proper when they met him in this connection.

In a press note issued here on Monday, Mr Gehri said Sukhdevi, her daughter Rosy and other family members namely Jagdish, Parkash, Sunil and Amit were arrested by the police in a case registered against them by the office-bearers of the Kabir Sabha. He said a portion of the temple owned by the sabha was damaged when Sukhdevi was getting her house adjacent to the temple, renovated.

He said although the sabha had got a case registered against Sukhdevi and others, but later both parties had reached an agreement and it was agreed upon that Sukhdevi would bear the cost of repair of the damaged portion of the temple. The sabha had then agreed to withdraw the case, he claimed.

He said after the compromise they had asked the police officials concerned to release the arrested persons and withdraw the case. He alleged that the police did not hear their pleas and said since the compromise did not have any legal validity, hence the case could not be withdrawn.

Mr Gehri further alleged that when they went to the office of the Deputy Commissioner, he too did not hear their plea properly.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, when contacted said it was not possible to withdraw a case once it was registered. He added that the case becomes subjudice once the accused are arrested and only the court could release them on bail.

He added that the allegations levelled by Mr Gehri that the police was not honouring the compromise was baseless as the said agreement did not have any legal validity.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, also expressed his inability to do anything in the matter and added that only the police or the court who could take action. He further said the allegations levelled against him were baseless as he never discriminated in meeting visitors.


Awardee threatens to return medal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 3
Ms Amrik Kaur, Shaurya Chakra winner, today threatened to return her medal if the government did not restore the security for her family which was withdrawn about one month ago.

While talking to mediapersons, she said her family was still getting threats from the terrorists like Parmjit Singh Panjwar and other terrorist organisations like the Babbar Khalsa and the Khalistan commando Force.

She said her family was attacked by terrorists for at least 26 times from 1989 to 1992 in which she lost her husband and a servant.

She urged the state government to restore the security to her family as soon as possible.


Dispute redress panels set up
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 3
Dispute redressal committees have been constituted for the redress of any disputes in grain markets during the procurement. This was stated by Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, while reviewing the arrangements made for the procurement by the procurement agencies. Mr Vikas Partap said that the procurement of wheat in Fatehgarh Sahib district, was expected to be 2.92 lakh MT against 2.66 lakh MT last year. He informed that 35 purchase centres had been made in the district. The FCI, Punsup, Markfed, Punjab Agro, Warehousing Corporation and Food Supplies Department would purchase wheat at various purchase centres allotted to them. Mr Vikas Partap directed the in charges of the purchase centres to maintain movement registers.

The Deputy Commissioner said that all the arrangements of transport and labour to lift the wheat had been made. The arrangements for water, electricity and shelter had been completed at all the purchase centres. He said that initially weight of the bag would be 75 kg and 50 kg. If any bags were found underweight, action would be taken against the commission agent and his licence would be cancelled. He informed that arrangements had been completed for the storage of the wheat at various places by the agencies. Mr Vikas Partap directed the SDMs to hold separate meetings with commission agents and agencies in their subdivision and to finally check the storage godowns. He further directed district mandi officers and secretaries of the market committees to put reflectors on the tractor-trailers coming to the grain markets. He directed the secretaries of the market committees to direct the staff deputed in mandis to wear uniforms and display their identity cards. He said that the regular review meetings for the procurement would be held.


School chairman booked for defaming PCS officer
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 3
The Jalandhar police has booked Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, chairman of the local C.T. Public School, for printing and distributing defamatory material against Mr Harbhupinder Singh Nanda, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, and a few Jalandhar-based journalists who had recently exposed his “misdeeds.”

The police was dilly-dallying on the matter as it was reportedly under pressure from a Punjab minister not to register a case against Mr Channi, who had allegedly been distributing posters and handbills based on distorted facts with an intention to damage the reputation of Mr Nanda and newspapers, including The Tribune, and another Jalandhar-based Hindi daily.

Mr Channi, against whom a number of cases for raising illegal colonies in Jalandhar and Amritsar had been registered by Mr Nnda under the PAPR Act during his tenure as the Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA, had even been managing details of the mobile phones of a few correspondents and that of Mr Nanda allegedly in connivance with some senior police officials for quite some time.

In his complaint to Mr S.K. Sharma, IG, Police, Jalandhar Range, on the basis of which a case was registered against Mr Channi, Mr Nanda had alleged that Mr Channi had printed and distributed defamatory and baseless handbills and posters.

The police has also booked Mr Jagga Pasricha, a resident of Model Town and a newspaper vendor, for conniving with Mr Channi and distributing the defamatory material by inserting it in various newspapers. The handbills and posters were without the mandatory printline mentioning the name and address of printer and publisher.

A case has been registered under Section 9 of the Press and Registration of Book Act, 1867 and 469 and 189 of the IPC.


Migratory birds prefer to stay put
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Bir Rauke (Moga), April 3
The onset of summer brings a different look to the countryside of Punjab because of the migratory birds, which have not preferred to fly back to their habitats in Central Asia and other countries.

What makes the countryside more pleasant is the large presence of birds like spot bills, coots, red crested poachards, pintails and even goosanders and what is unusual this time is that the birds have overstayed.

Wildlife experts maintain that migratory birds have started behaving in an abnormal manner for quite sometime and were preferring to overstay here in the water bodies of the North India than to follow their normal schedule, according to which, almost all such birds fly back by February-end.

Wildlife experts maintain that they had observed rare birds like shellducks were overstaying at waterbodies of Sukhna, Chhat Bir and Harike this time. “The trend has been witnessed for quite some time and we think that this is due to less disturbance at the water bodies, Mr Gurmit Singh, Director, Wildlife Punjab said. The experts maintain that birds, not only from other countries but from areas like Ladakh and Central India, were overstaying in the waterbodies of the northern parts of the country. “Disturbances in Afghanistan could also be one of the factors responsible for this,” Mr Gurmit Singh said.


Baradari and changing attitude of Patialvis
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, April 3
Most of the residents of the walled city, who till a couple of years ago seldom ventured out of the confines of their houses have taken to walking and jogging amidst the serenity of the sprawling Baradari gardens in a big way.

The phenomenon of the residents, who comprise nearly 60 per cent of the city’s total populace, coming out in the open is relatively new as earlier they were content to do a little bit of calisthenics either on their rooftops or in narrow streets.

Now with the advent of crass commercialisation, green spots, leave alone small parks are at a premium in the city leaving residents with no alternative except to make a beeline towards the Baradari gardens which have been spruced up in recent times. Piped music and other innovations are an added attraction at the gardens and the ambience for those who want to exercise or even take a little walk is near perfect.

Moreover, entry to the National Institute of Sports (NIS) is restricted as various national camps are held the year around and the authorities do not want to disturb the schedule of the campers.

Even womenfolk have become hyperactive and can be seen exercising in their endeavour to slash off extra flab.

The moot question is what is the factor that has made these women, who earlier were highly introvert, change their attitude. Says a senior psychologist: “Social isolation is one of the primary reasons why these women are keen to come out of their homes. This type of isolation tends to create high stress levels which can raise blood pressure and lead to pre-mature ageing. This takes a toll on the immune system of the body thus making it imperative for these women to be more extrovert.”

Yet another reason for these women, some of whom do not belong to well off families, to shed their inhibitions is that they are secure in the knowledge that taking a walk is the simplest of all exercises and which most doctors prescribe to reduce the extra kilos.

So, the residents, particularly women, have finally shrugged off the cloak of conservatism and have donned the cloak of modernity and the scene in the Baradari is ample proof of changing attitudes among Patialvis.



Custodial death: ADGP condemns police inaction
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 3
The ADGP (Crime) Punjab, has expressed concern over the way the local police is proceeding regarding an inquiry into the custodial death of Pardeep Singh, a class X student and resident of Gandiwind Dhattal village, who died at Jamarai police post on December 22, 2001.

A case had been registered under Section 304, IPC, against the in charge of the police post, ASI Harbhajan Singh, who has still not been arrested.

The ADGP in a letter to the SSP who received the complaint through the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, said the inquiry was unsatisfactory.

He instructed that an SP rank officer should be deputed to look into the matter and should make sure that the accused did not flee abroad by arresting him immediately.

The witnesses should not be pressured in any way, he added.

The Pardeep Katal Kand Action Committee too has condemned the police for its failure to arrest the accused.

Mr Pargat Singh Jamarai, convener of the committee, and Mr Kanwalpreet Pannun, convener Kisan Sangharsh Committee, besides other leaders have condemned the role of the police which has failed to make the arrest even after about four months.


MC employees end strike
Our correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 3
The 10-day long strike by the Municipal Subordinate Employees Union in protest against non-payment of salaries for the past two months ended today. Due to the strike the sanitary conditions in the town have worsened.

Mr Pritam Singh, SDM, and Mr Rajnish Kalra, Executive Officer, along with municipal councillors, Harmesh Kumar Puri, Rajinder Chopra, Kusum Khosla, Sartaj Singh Minhas and Youth Congress leaders, Manoranjan Kalia, Lalit Mohan Pathak, Vipin Taneja, among others came to the office of municipal council and held talks with the striking employees. On the assurance given by the SDM that the salaries would be released by April 15, Mr Madan Lal Bhucher and Mr Major Singh, Chairman and president of the union, respectively, called off the strike.

Dr Shiv Kumar Tejpal, senior vice-president, municipal council and general secretary of the district unit of BJP, criticised the manner in which the issue was politicised. He said the employees should get their salaries and if the administration failed to honour its assurance he would resign from the membership of the council.


Relocation of wine shop sought
Our Correspondent

Batala, April 3
Mr V.K. Bhatia, Principal of S.L. Bawa DAV College, Batala, and Mrs Veena Wanti, Principal R.R. Bawa DAV College for Girls, and other social activists and organisations are agitated over the opening of a wine shop at Circular Road with effect from April.

The wine shop-cum-abattoir is situated near a school. There are five other schools situated within a distance of about 500 meters.

Ms Watni said today that she had written letters to the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, the SDM, Batala, and the chief of Batala police district in this regard.

She said she had talked to the authorities who had assured her that positive steps would be taken.

The Principal and the social activists demanded the immediate relocation of the wine shop.


Pendency of cases due to fewer judges’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 3
Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today attributed pendency of cases to under-staffing of the higher judiciary, among other things, adding that a judicial commission being set up by the Central Government would look into matters relating to the pendency of cases, strength of judges and their conduct. Mr Justice Gupta, who was here to inspect courts, said Parliament had passed the constitution of the commission which would come up soon.

He said there was a provision for 40 judges in the high court, but there were only 25 judges besides the Chief Justice.

He declared as genuine the demand of the local Bar Association that advocates of subdivisions should also be appointed high court judges.


State-level Lok Adalat on April 19
Our Correspondent

Gidderbaha, April 3
A state-level Lok Adalat will be held here on April 19, which would be presided over by Mr H.S. Bedi, Chairman, Punjab Legal Services Authority, and a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. This was stated here today by Mr B.R. Garg, Senior Sub-Judge.

Mr Garg said Mr Mohtab Singh, a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, District and Sessions Judges of Muktsar and Faridkot, Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, would be among those present on the occasion.

Besides bank loan cases, other civil suits like family disputes, marriage disputes, etc. would be settled at the Lok Adalat, he added.


3 boys sitting atop bus killed

Gurdaspur, April 3
Three teenaged boys sitting on the roof of a mini-bus were killed after being hit by a branch of a tree on the outskirts of the town today.

A police report here said the victims Ramesh, Rajinder and Manpreet were returning after participating in an Army recruitment rally in the border township of Dera Baba Nanak.

The mini bus driver stopped the vehicle after passengers inside the bus saw blood flowing down the window panes. The driver abandoned the vehicle and fled away from the scene. UNI


BJP leader’s son hurt in attack
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 3
Mr Kamal Gosain, son of former MLA and senior BJP leader Sat Pal Gosain, was attacked by some unidentified persons near the local Civil Hospital today. 

Mr Kamal Gosain was admitted for some time to the Civil Hospital. 

He received injuries on his head. In his complaint to the police, he suspected some political rivals behind the attack. He said the attackers hit him with bricks.


Admn “geared up” to procure wheat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 3
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner here claimed yesterday that arrangements for the procurement of wheat had been made and 112 purchasing centres set up in the district. Presiding over a meeting of representatives of procurement agencies, procuring departments, and associations of arhtiyas he said that 7 lakh tonnes wheat was expected to arrive in different mandis in the district this year.

Mr Verma informed that as per the decision of a state-level meeting convened in connection with procurement, the harvester combines could not be used between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. only so that wheat should contain specified moisture content. He said that if the farmers brought the dry wheat to mandis they would not have to face difficulties for selling it.

Meanwhile as per an official press not out of the 112 purchasing centres in the district more than one ageny had been asked to procure wheat in 12 big mandis, while the others have been allotted to single agency. It further stated that the number of mandis allotted to different agencies were FCI 36, Markfed 23, Punsup 20, Punjab Warehouse Corporation 13, Punjab Agro four and Food and Supply Department 4.


No change in mode of payments to farmers: MLA
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 3
Mr Surinder Singh, MLA, said today that the Punjab Government had not been contemplating to change the made of payments to farmers following the procurement of foodgrain.

He said the view of Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, Abohar, that the payments should be made directly to the farmers instead of commission agents was his personal view.


Plan to construct complex dropped
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 3
The plan to construct district administrative complex here by the Punjab Urban Development Authorities has been dropped. The estate office of PUDA has received an official communication in this regard by the Chief Administrator, Head Office, PUDA, Chandigarh.

Official sources said the plans to construct district administrative offices at Moga and Kapurthala had also been dropped. These complexes were to cost approximately Rs 12 crore each and were planned during the SAD-BJP rule more than two years ago. The administrative complex at Hoshiarpur, proposed at the same time, however, is under construction.

The sources said the land for the construction of the complex at Gurdaspur was earmarked and part of it was auctioned by PUDA. The then Additional Chief Administrator of PUDA at Jalandhar had announced that the proceeds of the sale would be utilised for the construction of the complex.


3 travel agents held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 3
The police has arrested and registered a case under Section 420, IPC, against Jagga Singh, alias Jagjit Singh, his wife Paramjit Kaur, both residents of Roomi village, and Surinder Singh, alias Shinda, of Khada village for allegedly duping Gurjit Singh on the pretext of sending him to Bahrain.

The accused were acting as travel agents and took Rs 1.25 lakh from Gurjit Singh to provide him with a permanent visa.

The victim allegedly that they provided him with a visa for four weeks on the basis of which he went to Bahrain where Jagga Singh was to give him a permanent visa and work permit. However, he got neither and returned to India.

The accused refused to refund the money.


Reform education system: Singla
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 3
Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, while alleging that the political leadership of the state has so far failed to reform the education system, said there was a strong need to change the existing education system.

Mr Singla, who presided over the annual prize distribution function of the local Rajindra Government College, said on Monday, that a lot of questions, remained unanswered which included that whether the present education system played a higher role in life, whether it helped in developing a critical mind among the students to meet the challenges of life and whether the education which was being imparted in colleges and universities were worthwhile.

He pointed out that at present about four lakh graduates were jobless in Punjab. He added that what was being imparted today in government run educational institutions was obsolete as compared to the education system world over.

He pointed out that Rs 1,650 crore on college education and Rs 1,200 crore on school education were being spent. But the main problem was that writing, comprehensive and speaking skills of students of private institutes were far better than those of government institutions.

He said a paper was being prepared by a Cabinet sub-committee to revamp the education system in the state.

Earlier, Mr Singla gave away roll of honours and college colour to students.

Mr Gopal Singh, Principal, read out the achievements made during the year and presented details of the requirements of the college.

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