Wednesday, April 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PAU ‘bends’ rules for Badal’s man
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
In an alleged case of relaxing rules for a politically well-connected faculty member, Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) has allowed Mr Harcharan Singh Bains, Media Adviser to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, to join duty after remaining away from office for over 10 years. The university is yet to decide on the recovery of about Rs 3 lakh as salary drawn by Mr Bains during the period he was supposed to be doing Ph.D. He is yet to submit his thesis.

Mr Bains’ study leave began in August 1990, with the change of the government, he was relieved of his post as Media Adviser and he has joined duty in PAU. Insiders allege that the alleged twisting of rules to benefit him came because of the ‘benefits’ he got for some officials in the university in the past over 10 years.

The Vice-Chancellor, Mr K.S. Aulakh, when contacted said he had no information or details on Mr Bains’ joining duty or the rules and the head of the department concerned should be contacted.

The head of the Department of Journalism, Languages and Culture, Dr J.S. Bains, confirmed that Mr Harcharan Singh Bains had submitted his joining report on March 7 and he was allowed to join the department as the Board of Management of the varsity had allowed him to work as Media Adviser to the former Chief Minister. He said he was not aware of the background of the case as he was appointed the head of the department recently. Mr Bains could not be contacted despite best efforts.

Mr Harcharan Singh Bains had joined the university as Assistant Professor of English on February 13, 1979. He went on two-year study leave from August 3, 1990 to August 3, 1992 to do his Ph.D. After two years he submitted an application that he should be given leave for one more year. It was also granted to him.

Before proceeding on the leave he furnished a bond with the university stating that he would “serve the university for five years after completing his Ph.D.” and if he failed to complete his Ph.D. his entire salary would be refunded at the university’s rate of interest.

However he did not submit his thesis to Panjab University, Chandigarh, from where he was doing his Ph.D and again requested the PAU authorities asking for leave to complete his Ph.D. The leave was again sanctioned to him up to 1994.

Later, he extended his leave for two more years as the Board of Management of the university at its 158th meeting held on October 25, 1995, allowed him extraordinary leave (EoL) up to January 31, 1996, in relaxation of the rules. Then on January 25, 1996 he made a request to the Vice-Chancellor stating that he should be allowed to join the university without submitting his thesis. But his request was turned down. He neither made any request for leave nor did he turn up. He kept silent for more than a year.

Later when the Akalis came to power in the state in 1997, Mr Bains wrote to the university that he had joined as Media Adviser to Chief Minister. Interestingly he wrote to the university on June 26, 1997, while he had already joined the Punjab Government on March 3, 1997. He also wrote to the university that he should be allowed to join there in the back date.

In his letter he said he should be given permission to join the Punjab Government, and the period of his absence from the university (25.1.96 to 3.3. 97) be treated as extraordinary leave and that he should be allowed to submit his thesis after six months of rejoining PAU.

The then Vice-Chancellor put up the matter before the Board of Management in its meeting on July 7, 1997. The board held that,” The Board of Management has considered the item in detail and allowed to treat Mr H.S. Bains, Assistant Professor of English, to have joined duty in the university with effect from March 2, 1997, afternoon and to accept the assignment as Media Adviser to the Chief Minister of Punjab with effect from March 3, 1997, on deputation on terms and conditions to be settled between the university and the Punjab government.

The board also decided that since “Mr Bains has failed to submit his thesis the period of study leave and leave of kind duly granted to him from August 3, 1990 to March 1, 1997 may be granted as leave of kind due and recovery made from him for the excess payment made on account of the grant of study leave as per the terms and conditions laid down in the bond.”

Mr Bains submitted his joining report on September 9, 1997, for having resumed duty on March 2, 1997 to the Head of the Department. Meanwhile the Registrar wrote to the head to prepare the list of amount of salary paid to him as he was supposed to return the money for not having completed his Ph.D as per the orders of the board.

The Registrar’s office communicated to him that he owed Rs 2,90,000 to the university. Surprisingly the then Vice-Chancellor Dr G.S. Kalkat, in his orders wrote to the head of department in November 2000, that the recovery of study leave salary from Mr Bains be differed till decision was taken by the board. Further action might be taken in the matter accordingly. This was despite the fact that the board had already ordered the recovery of the money from Mr Bains.

Mr Bains was relieved by the Punjab Government on February 24, 2002, and sent the joining report on March 7 to the university.


Move to counter Pak subversives
Joint police operation planned
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 9
The Punjab, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir police and other security agencies have geared up for a major joint operation against militants following reports that several Kashmiri outfits based in Pakistan have been revived to carry out subversion in the border region.

According to a senior Punjab Police official, Pakistanis ISI is trying its level best to foment more trouble in this region and to give another twist to militancy they have started reviving some defunct outfits.

According to reports, several Kashmiri outfits had been rendered defunct following massive pressure by security forces. Hundreds of their cadres were killed and several others arrested during anti-insurgency operations. Due to pressure, the area of operations of these outfits had got squeezed and they were not able to function in their areas. They shifted to border areas of Punjab, Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir.

A senior Jammu and Kashmir police officer said on condition of anonymity, “We work in a scientific way. We prioritise our operation and deal with the militants according to a well-planned strategy. We have come a long way in conducting our anti-insurgency operations.” He further added some outfits had been wiped out and others had been rendered dysfunctional on account of pressure by the security forces from all the border areas of states.

Though the police is still clueless about the January 1 terrorist attack on the Damtal (HP) Army Range in which two Army personnel were killed and several others were injured, but according to reports in a joint operation by the Punjab and Himachal Police, the police seized weapons and other materials from the spot.

According to reliable reports, only the Lashkar-e-Toiba, Hizb-ul-Mujahideen, Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen, Harkat -e-Jehad-e-Islami, Tehreek-e-Jehad, Al-Umar-Mujahideen, Islamic Front and Kashmir Resistance Force are dominating the militancy scene in the area.

The local police has recently unfolded a racket of Pakistani ISI and arrested two persons and seized a huge quantity of weapons.

A senior Punjab Police official said, “We need to streamline our intelligence network so that more pressure is built on ultras. We are sure that we will not let militancy take roots in the region.”


Punjab Planning Board being reconstituted
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Punjab state Planning Board is being reconstituted with a view to framing an overarching economic policy, encompassing finance, agriculture, industry and business. The board is to be headed by the Chief Minister with Dr S. S. Johl as vice-chairman and will include MPs, ministers, MLAs and experts from identified fields besides members of the industry and agriculture committees.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has constituted separate committees on finance, agriculture and industry.

In fact much heat and dust has been raised on the appointment of Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, as the chairperson of the proposed committee on fiscal reforms. Without delving the facts, the plea bureaucrats took was that his appointment would attract ‘’disqualification’’ as an MLA because he cannot hold an office of ‘’profit’’. It was suggested that the Act be amended through an Ordinance, which would have covered some appointments like political secretaries and OSDs to the Chief Minister and save them from disqualification. Even legal opinion was sought in this regard.

As per the Punjab Legislature (Prevention of Disqualifications) Act, 1952, amended in 1981, there is no bar on any MLA being appointed to a Committee. This is clearly stated in the Clause 2, ‘Prevention of disqualification for membership of the state Legislature’ that reads —A person shall not be disqualified for being chosen as, and for being, a member of the Punjab Legislature by reason only of the fact that he holds any of the following offices of profit under the Government of India or under the Government of Punjab, namely...’’. Then it lists the exemptions. The relevant one, in the present context, is Part 2 (e), which reads, ‘’Chairman, vice-chairman, president, vice-president, director or member of any statutory or non-statutory body; or of any committee, whether he is or is not in receipt of any remuneration or compensatory allowance by virtue of holding such office’’.

Therefore, how does Mr Singla get disqualified? Yet, a draft amendment to exclude the political secretary (an MLA) to the Chief Minister and Mr Singla as chairperson of the committee on fiscal reforms from being disqualified, an ordinance is in the process of being issued. And it has been approved by the Council of Ministers.

In fact, one reason why appointment of political secretary (an MLA) was shelved is that the CMO wanted that he be given the rank of Deputy Secretary. This was a flawed because MLA’s enjoys a status higher than that of the Chief Secretary.

While the name of a former Chief Secretary, Mr A.S. Chatha, is being mentioned to head the committee on industry, it is Dr Johl, who is slated to head the one on agriculture. On finance, there is already a Cabinet sub-committee to which Mr Singla is a ‘special invitee’.

In anticipation of Mr Singla’s appointment as a Cabinet Minister he was allotted a room on Floor-2, where the Chief Minister Office is. He was given the same room which was earlier occupied by Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon along with the requisite staff. Even a nameplate of Mr Singla was displayed, say sources. But the so-called technical snag delayed the appointment.


Direct elections to zila parishads, block samitis
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
Notwithstanding the controversy over the advancing of the panchayat elections, the Punjab Government today decided to go ahead with the holding of the poll to these bodies and also to the block samitis and zila parishads at the end of June. Various issues pertaining to these elections informally came up for discussion at a meeting of the Council of Ministers held today.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the government was legally empowered to dissolve the elected panchayats and to advance their elections. The panchayat elections are otherwise due to be held in June next year.

Making a major break from the past, the government said that there would be direct elections of the members of the zila parishads and block samitis. The initial provision was to elect 40 per cent of the members direct and 60 per cent through sarpanches. However, later this ratio was changed to 30:70 by the SAD-BJP government which was struck down by the court following a writ petition filed by the Congress.

The government has now decided that all members of these bodies will be elected direct. The minimum limit of members of the zila parishads is 15 and of block samitis 10, according to government officials. The elections of panchayats, block samitis and zila parishads will be held on one day simultaneously. “ We have set the process in motion in this connection”, said Capt Amarinder Singh.

According to informed sources, the Congress will contest the elections of zila parishads and block samitis on the party symbol. A formal decision in this connection is expected to be taken at a meeting of the party to be held later, it is learnt.

Responding to the former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s statement that the SAD would challenge the proposed dissolution of panchayats in court, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Akalis were running away from the elections to these bodies. They wanted to create hurdles in the democratic process being followed by the Congress. “Why is Mr Badal scared of facing the elections?” he asked.

The government has also decided to dissolve all market committees and appoint administrators by removing the political chairpersons appointed by the previous SAD-BJP government. A formal order is expected to be issued in a day or so in this connection.

At the meeting, a number of Ministers said that such bodies required to be dissolved.

The Chief Minister said the government was already on the job of setting up a judicial commission to probe various cases of corruption in the state. When asked about Punjabi University, Capt Amarinder Singh said the government would review and undo all decisions taken recently by the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. In future only eminent academicians would be appointed VCs, he added. Mr Sudhir Mittal would continue as the Chairman of the PSEB for some more time, he said.

The Council of Ministers deferred a decision on the issue of setting up an exclusive department for non-resident Indians (NRIs). The issue was on the agenda of the meeting and it also came up for discussion. Speaking on the agenda, a number of Ministers said that the issue should be examined in detail and also eminent NRIs should be consulted to know what they expected from the state government. A committee of five senior Ministers has been proposed to examine the issue, it is learnt.

The objective of setting up a separate department for NRIs is to provide them with adequate security and safety for making investments in various development projects in the state. There are several problems like property disputes relating to NRIs which could be handled only by a full-fledged department. During SAD-BJP rule, an NRI sabha was set up with its headquarters at Jalandhar.


BDPO, 3 others indicted
Fraud in village Sarpanch elections
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
A Block Development-cum-Panchayat Officer (BDPO) and three others have been indicted in a CBI probe conducted into allegations of fraud in the declaration of results for the election of village Sarpanch in two different villages of Moga district, it is learnt.

According to the investigation report, filed before a special CBI judge last week, Sukhdarshan Singh, the BDPO was appointed as the Returning Officer for Panchayat elections held in 1998. He, along with two candidates and an ad hoc government employee allegedly entered into a criminal conspiracy to wrongfully show the defeated candidates as elected. The CBI registered a case in July 1999 following a High Court order.

CBI investigations revealed that in the first instance, during panchayat elections in Chak Mohantawala village, Surain Chand had polled 22 votes more than his rival, Sher Singh. The presiding officer, Raj Karan SIngh declared Surain Chand as the winner and issued the necessary “Form-IX” in this regard. Two copies of this form were sent to the BDPO for sending them to the District Electoral Officer.

Investigations revealed that the BDPO in connivance with the losing candidate and another employee, Jagtar Singh, prepared a fake result sheet declaring the wrong candidate as the winner. The name of the wrong candidate subsequently got published in the gazette notification by the Punjab State Election Commission.

In the second instance, the BDPO connived with the losing candidate of Chak Kathgarh, Kashmir Chand to wrongfully declare him as the winner. Kashmir Chand had polled 20 votes less than the actual winner, Gursharan Singh. In this case too, a fake result sheet was prepared after the presiding officer, Ram Parkash had issued the requisite Form-IX.

The CBI had taken the original forms as well as the fake result sheets into its custody. The opinion of the handwriting analysis expert was also sought in this regard, which evidently brought out the fraud.

The BDPO, Sukhdarshan Singh, and the employee, Jagtar Singh, have been booked under provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The accused have also been booked under Sections 120, 420 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code for conspiracy, cheating and forgery along with the other two losing candidates.


Election of SGPC chief challenged
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
In 10 petitions filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the election of former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur, besides former Ministers Tota Singh and Ranjit Singh Brahmpura, were challenged.

Seeking directions for setting aside the election of Bibi Jagir Kaur from the Bholath assembly constituency, Congress candidate Sukhpal Singh alleged the adoption of corrupt practices by the winning candidate. He further alleged that the Bibi had procured the help of the police for the furtherance of her prospects.

In another petition, Congress candidate Sathi Vijay Kumar alleged that the Tota Singh, Education Minister in the Badal government, had succeeded from Moga Assembly constituency after getting the booths captured, besides obtaining the help of the police.

Former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar claimed that independent candidate Sukhdarshan Singh was declared elected from the Muktsar Assembly constituency as the electronic voting machine malfunctioned and had to be changed.

In his petition against Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi — son of Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi — Congress candidate Harmohinder Singh Pradhan claimed that corrupt practices had been adopted. He claimed that religious symbols were used and appeals were made through the religious leaders of the area.

Challenging the elections of Shiromani Akali Dal candidate Ranjit Singh Brahmpura from the Naushera Pannuan Assembly constituency, voter Balbir Singh alleged that government officials, responsible for ensuring free and fair polls, had acted in a mala fide manner, to give undue advantage to the ex-minister, by not preparing the voters’ list in accordance with law.

Accusing BJP candidate Tiksan Sood, successful candidate from the Hoshiarpur Assembly constituency, of publishing false statements regarding the petitioner’s character, Congress candidate Naresh Thakur claimed that his prospects had been affected.

Congress candidate Harminder Singh Jassi had, meanwhile, claimed that Independent candidate from the Talwandi Sabu Assembly constituency Jeet Mohinder Singh obtained the assistance of the returning officer for the furtherance of his prospects.

In his petition, SAD candidate Sucha Singh Langah claimed that independent candidate from Dhariwal Assembly constituency Sucha Singh Chhotepur got himself elected after votes of dead persons were polled at different booths by his polling agents.

Accusing SAD candidate Balwinder Singh Bhundar of obtaining the help of a Deputy Superintendent of Jail, voter Amrik Singh sought the setting aside of his elections from the Sardulgarh Assembly constituency.


Case against SGPC chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 9
The Sikh gurdwara Judicial Commission has issued summons and notice to the SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, SGPC Secretary, Mr Harbeant Singh, Principal Secretary to President, SGPC and in charge establishment SGPC office for backdoor entry of nine persons as sewadars and clerks by the SGPC. The commission was chaired by Mr Manmohan Singh Brar and members Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa and Ajwant Singh Mann here today.

In the petition filed by Mr Harbans Singh it was alleged that nine appointments which included two clerks and 7 sewadars were made from January 23 to March 16 just to accommodation their near and dear ones casting a heavy financial burden on the SGPC.

He further alleged that respondents had not advertised the posts and some of the appointees were under the eligible age of 28 years for such appointments and others were those whose near relatives were already in the service of the SGPC in violation of the service rules of the SGPC.

It was prayed in the petition that the amount by way of salaries already paid to appointees be recovered from the respondents as their personal liability holding them jointly responsible for any amount paid by way of salaries and recovery be made along with interest at 18 per cent.


Dr Bedi indicted for assault on doctor
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, April 9
An inquiry committee set up by the medical council to probe into the case of assault on a doctor in Guru Nanak Hospital on Saturday, that trigerred off strikes in medical colleges and associated hospitals, has indicted Dr Paramjit Singh Bedi, Professor of Surgery, for the incident in its inquiry report submitted to the medical council.

The highly confidential report dated April 8 with The Tribune is signed by the three-member committee comprising Dr Inderjit Singh Shergill as Chairman, and Dr Jagdish Gargi and Dr H.S. Gill, Medical Superintendent, as members.

It reads, “Dr Paramjit Singh Bedi, Professor of Surgery, was summoned to present himself before the inquiry committee but he failed to turn up. All statements recorded in the inquiry establish that Dr Paramjit Singh Bedi came to see the patient without anyone inviting him to do so and without his duty assigned there. Hence it could be safely established that Dr Bedi was behind the incident”.

Dr Atul Kumar, a junior resident, was assaulted and beaten up by Gagandeep and his friends Manjeet Singh and Jagpreet Singh on Saturday night. The inquiry committee had summoned almost 10 witnesses to the incident, including junior residents, staff nurses and the bearer at the time, for the inquiry. Meanwhile, more than 150 junior doctors and 100 medical students took to the streets and jammed traffic on Majitha Road outside Guru Nanak Dev Hospital for nearly two-and-a-half hours here today. They sat on a dharna outside the main gate of the hospital, sealed the gate to the OPD with posters and supported black badges to protest against the apathetic attitude of the authorities to provide them security.

Dr S.P. Bedi, president of the Junior Doctors Association, speaking to The Tribune said the association was demanding internal security for the hospital and college complex.

The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) and Medical Students Association (MSA) joined the strike which was called off for a short interval on the intervention of the Medical Superintendent, Dr H.S. Gill while the Principal of the medical college, Dr O.P. Mahajan, was reportedly attending a conference at Faridkot today. However, Dr Gill assured the students that internal security would be provided to the hospitals and college within a month.


Congress to go it alone for MC poll
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 9
The ruling Congress has decided not to tie up with any other party for the forthcoming municipal corporation elections scheduled to be held on May 19 in Patiala.

This was stated by the District Congress chief (Urban), Mr Ved Prakash Gupta, at a press conference here today. Mr Gupta said the Congress would contest from all 50 wards of the corporation here. Out of these, 17 wards had been reserved for women candidates, he said.

He said local leaders would be consulted while screening of the candidates. He said those interested in contesting elections must submit their nomination papers at the District Congress office by April 17. The nominations would be screened as per the guidelines of the State Congress Committee and the final decision would be taken after consultations with the State Congress Committee.


CPM warns against ‘fiscal slavery’
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 9
Prof Balwant Singh, secretary of the state unit of the CPM, addressing a meeting of the district unit of the CPM here at Desh Bhagat Hukma Singh Ghakewal Yadhgar Hall yesterday, said capitalist countries under the guise of liberalisation and globalisation were trying to make inroads into developing countries through the multinationals with a view to enslaving these “economically”.

He criticised the Vajpayee government for bowing to pressure of capitalist countries in implementing these policies. During the Congress regime, the share capital of foreign companies in the country was 49 per cent, but it rose to 75 to cent per cent during the BJP regime, which had raised the slogan of ‘swadeshi’ before coming to power.

Moreover, he accused the Vajpayee government of jeopardising India’s foreign policy based on the principle of non-alignment by tilting towards the USA. The increasing US interference on the Kashmir issue was a dangerous sign, he alleged.

Besides, the “communal face” and “hidden agenda” of the BJP had been exposed by incidents of communal frenzy in Gujarat. He criticised the BJP for bringing in POTO, even more dangerous than MISA and TADA, and said the BJP would misuse POTO to suppress the minorities.

The CPM leader said at the 17th party congress held recently in Hyderabad, it had been decided that the party would focus on its fight against communalism and strive to form the “Lok Morcha” for the purpose.

Nathu Ram sworn in as MLA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan, today administered the oath to Chowdhary Nathu Ram, who has been elected from the Malout Assembly constituency.

Among those present on the occasion were Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, Mr Hardev Arshi and Mr Ajaib Singh Raunta, both former MLAs of the CPI, and Mr Harchand Singh Bursat, Political Secretary to the Chief Minister.


Illicit liquor brewers now turn to pouches
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Mand (Jalandhar), April 9
Glass bottles have been replaced by polythene pouches for the transportation of illicit liquor in the Mand area.

In a bid to avoid detection of illicit liquor, brewers have devised a new method by replacing glass bottles and milk cans with polythene bags and pouches to increase sales in the Mand area, falling in Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Ferozepur districts.

During a visit to the area, which had recently been targeted by the Excise and Taxation Department, it was found that almost all illegal brewers in different villages were selling “desi daru” in pouches of different sizes.

“Actually, it is safe to carry ‘daru’ in pouches as you can hide them in your clothes. Moreover, bottles and milk cans could be easily detected by officials,” said Makhan Singh, who had bought such a pouch from near Sangowal village.

It also saved the cost of bottles and the problem of storage as polythene pouches can be stored in a small place, an illegal liquor vendor said.

The recent trend shows that Rai Sikhs, known for the distillation of illicit liquor, are leaving the profession for education while other communities were taking it up.

“Nowadays, you find that not everybody selling liquor belongs to the Rai Sikh community. Other communities have also jumped in to earn livelihood from it. Even Jat Sikhs, Dalits and some Hindu families, who used to do farming or other petty jobs are selling liquor in a clandestine manner,” said Tarsem Peter, General Secretary of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha.

Mr H.S. Nanda, Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Jalandhar, maintained that the number of illegal liquor “bhattis” was decreasing, indicating that Rai Sikhs were leaving the profession slowly. “We have information that only 120-125 ‘bhattis’ are working in the area, as compared to 400-500 last year,” he said.

“Our people have started shunning this profession as they have got educated and are opting for farming by buying pieces of land on lease from affluent farmers of the area,” said Gura Singh, a Rai Sikh belonging to Tahli Dian Channa village.


Ropeway project to boost tourism
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 9
The Punjab Government has decided to build a seven-km ropeway between Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi in Himachal Pradesh to boost tourism. For this, the state government has entered into an agreement with the Himachal Pradesh Government to develop this area as a major tourist destination by attracting private investment.

This was disclosed by Mr Ashwani Sekhri, a minister, here today. He was in the city to participate in the annual convention of Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab. Talking to mediapersons, he said a contract had been given to Rail India Technical and Engineering Service, a subsidiary of Indian Railways, to work out the details and feasibility of the project. The ropeway would be built by a private party on build, operate and transfer (BOT) basis, for which tenders would be invited shortly.

He asserted that the state government was determined to give a big push to the tourism sector, which had been ignored for the past many years. A blueprint of the new tourism policy of the state had been prepared and after getting comments for the industry, it would be released. The state had also decided to develop the Harike lake in Ferozepore district as a world-class bird sanctuary.

The Centre had released a grant of Rs 10 lakh to the Department of Tourism. A tourist complex would be built up there by the department. Regarding loss-making hotels of the department, he said, “Efforts are being made to make them profitable, but at present there are no plans to privatise them.”

Later, addressing the convention, Mr Sekhri said, “The state government has planned to focus on religious and cultural tourism in view of the rich cultural heritage of the state. The plan is to promote Patiala as a centre of cultural tourism and Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib as religious centres to attract national and international tourists.” He assured the industry that their demands, including charging of industrial rates for electricity, would be taken up with the Chief Minister and PSEB officials.

Earlier, Mr N.S. Nanda, president, Hotel and Restaurant Association of Punjab, brought to his notice that though the government had declared hotels as an industry, the PSEB was charging commercial rates from them. He urged the state government to provide a five-year tax holiday to new hotels, restaurants and resorts and to exempt them from sales tax and other taxes, besides opening of a Punjab Tourist Information Centre at Ludhiana. He pointed out that house tax should be charged on actual rent of rooms and not on room tariff.

Mr Sekhri said he would take up the matter with Choudhry Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies. A committee would be also formed in consultation with industry to promote tourism in the state.


Nathana annual mela from today
Jaswinder Paul
Our Correspondent

Nathana (Bathinda), April 9
This sleepy village of Malwa becomes a hub of activity during this time of the year as members of the Romana community from throughout the country come here during this time of the year in thousands to pay homage to Baba Kalu Nath who is said to be their forefather.

The five-day festival, which begins on Chetra Krishna Tersi, which this year falls on April 10, is considered a lifetime pilgrimage for the Romanas. The residents of the village said the members of the community considered it pious to visit here once in their lifetime. If they cannot do so, they pay homage to Baba Kalu Nath from their homes throughout the world.

According to the historical background, the land where Baba Kalu Nath was worshipping was claimed by a farmer of the village namely Attak. A conflict started between Baba Kalu Nath and Attak. Incidentally, the then ruler of India, Shahjahan, came to the village during his visit to the area. The conflict was brought to his notice. The emperor asked both of them to give proof of their claims for the ownership of the land.

As the tales go, the Baba had unveiled the Ganga near here to show his divine powers.


Municipal staff seek salaries, threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 9
Employees of municipal committees in the district are on the warpath to get their salaries regularly. Employees of Srihargobindpur Municipal Committee have not received salaries for the past 22 months. Employees of Dhariwal Municipal Committee have not been paid their salaries for past five months, of Qadian Municipal Committee for the past three months, of Dera Baba Nanak Municipal Committee for the past two months and of Dina Nagar and Gurdaspur Municipal Committees for March.

Mr Ramesh Gupta, senior vice-president of the Nagar Council Karamchari Maha Sangh, Punjab, while talking to newspersons today said most of the municipal committees had not been depositing provident fund of the employees for the past several months. The Punjab Action Committee, he said, had submitted a memorandum to the government to pay salaries to the employees by April 17. He threatened that they would resort to statewide agitation if they were not given their due share.

Mr Gupta accused the managements of municipal committees of diverting funds earmarked for salary and various other development purposes. He said the local municipal committee had received Rs 1.67 crore from the sale of various properties, Rs 70 lakh during sangat darshan from the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and Rs 67 lakh from excise duty. Despite this, the staff had not received salaries.


Amarinder seeks Modi’s ouster
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today demanded the immediate removal of the Gujarat Chief Minister, Mr Narendra Modi, for his utter failure in controlling the communal riots in Gurarat that have led to loss of several innocent lives.

Accusing Mr Dodi and his administration of a partisan role in the riots, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Gujarat Chief Minister had lowered the prestige of the high office held by him. Castigating Mr Modi, the Chief Minister said it was surprising that the Union Government had been seeing all what happened in Gujarat as a mute spectator.

He criticised the Centre for not removing Mr Modi, who has been indicted by the National Human Rights Commission.


Scrap PHSC, say doctors
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 9
Representatives of the PCMS Association, National Medicos Forum, and the in service wing of the Punjab branch of the Indian Medical Association today met the Cabinet Minister for Health and Medical Education, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, and presented a memorandum highlighting numerous problems being faced by government doctors and patients besides demanding the scrapping of Punjab Health Systems Corporation.

The minister, who was here today to give away prizes at the annual sports meet of Government Medical College, was presented the memorandum by Dr D.C. Sharma, president, National Medicos Forum, Dr D.S. Bhullar, chairman, in service wing, IMA, Punjab, and Dr Harish Malhotra, PCMS Association, besides others. Medicos while lamenting the high cost of medical education in the state have drawn attention of the government towards the fact that the state medical colleges will have to be modernised and provided with the latest diagnostic facilities if standard of medical education in the state is to be raised.

The organisations have asked the government to scrap PHSC as it is an avoidable burden on the already starved state exchequer.


Baisakhi mela today
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, April 9
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will be the chief guest at the first Baisakhi mela to be organised by the Friends Sports Welfare and Cultural Club, Dera Bassi, here tomorrow, Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said here today.

She further said that a rally would also be organised on the occasion. Various political leaders, including Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, and Mr Gurkirat Singh Kotli would also participate in the mela. Punjabi folk singers, including Balkar Singh, Avtar Tari, Shabnam, Gurtej Tej, Rajinder Mohani and Jatinder Panchhi would perform at the function, said Ms Krishan Pal Sharma, general secretary of the District Congress Committee.



Ex-MLA denied bail
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 9
Mr Ranjit Singh, Judicial Magistrate, yesterday turned down the bail application of Sher Singh, former MLA from Jalalabad.

The former SAD MLA had been booked in a case of assault on Bhim Sen, ETO. He surrendered in court on April 5 and was remanded in judicial custody till April 20. The case was registered against the former MLA on January 15 following the recovery of illicit liquor from a brick kiln at Bhambavatu village during the Assembly elections. 


FCI shock to farmers, commission agents
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 9
Farmers and commission agents may face the wrath of the FCI during the coming wheat procurement season as the Chairman of the FCI, Mr Bhurelal, has directed the Zonal Manager (North) not to pay the commission to commission agents for the wheat procured by the FCI from them.

According to him, the commission should be paid by the seller.

If the orders are implemented, farmers will have to pay approximately Rs 16 per quintal to commission agents and they will get only Rs 604 instead of Rs 620, the minimum support price announced by the Centre.

The Chief Minister, kisan unions and political parties have criticised the Centre for just a marginal increase of Rs 10 per quintal.

On the other hand, commission agents are apprehending that the farmers may not be willing to give them the commission. Other state agencies will also refuse to pay commission to the agents as they purchase wheat on behalf of the FCI for the Central pool.

The FCI chairman has written that as per the recommendation of the Administrative Staff College, the FCI should avoid payment of commission as the direct beneficiary of the procurement is the farmer, who should bear this additional expenditure. This will result in saving about Rs 267 crore by the FCI.

He has also mentioned that arhtiyas have not been doing full justice to the various activities for which remuneration has been made by the FCI.

He has mentioned that as per the desire of the board, the FCI has written to the government that the arhtiyas commission should be borne by the sellers and not by the FCI.

He has also urged he Centre to take up the issue with state governments.

He has further mentioned that the FCI is holding huge stocks and al-out efforts should be made to boost the export of wheat. He has directed officials to ensure that the wheat procured from mandis is fully cleaned and weighed properly. Stocks of good quality wheat should be separated to facilitate direct export.

Reacting to the letter, Mr Surjit Singh Sahi, district president, Arhtiya Association, has said if the recommendations are implemented, it will be unfortunate for farmers and commission agents.

He has added the FCI is going to cause them a huge loss, which may result in confrontation, as there is apprehension among the farming community that the state government may not be able to procure their produce.

He has apprehended that this decision may also ruin the business of commission agents in the state, who have played a major role in bringing about the green revolution in Punjab along with farmers. 

He has urged the Chief Minister to take up the matter with the Centre.


Set aside land for alternative farming’
Tribune News Service

Laddowal, April 9
Dr Sardara Singh Johl, an eminent economist and Agriculture Adviser to the Chief Minister, today told farmers to get out of the wheat-paddy cycle if they wanted to survive in future.

Dr Johl told farmers in the clear terms that there was no need of their produce in the market as the godowns of the government were already full with surplus grain. He was speaking at an Borlaug’s Day function organised by Agriculture Technocrats Action Committee (AGTAC) at JDM farms in Laddowal today. Dr Johl was also awarded with the Norman E. Borlaug Award for his services to the farm sector on the occasion.

Dr Norman E. Borlaug day was celebrated to mark the anniversary of the visit of founder of Green Revolution to the city and the JDM farms as well. Dr Borlaug had visited the farms on April 9 last year and had been all praise for the work of three progressive farmers, Mr Jagjit Singh, Daler Singh and Mr Manjit Singh. 



Wheat procurement
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, April 9
The procurement of wheat has started in three big mandis namely Muktsar, Malout and Gidderbaha while the purchase in rural and focal point mandis will start from April 15 in the district.

This was stated by Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, while formally inaugurating the procurement of wheat at the local grain market today. He said about 2,000 bags of wheat had arrived in the mandi.


149 DSPs shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
With in hours of the issuance of directions by the Chief Ministers’ Secretariat to all administrative secretaries and heads of various departments to finish transfers by May 5, the Police Department, in a major reshuffle , transferred and issued fresh posting orders for a record number of 149 deputy superintendents of police this evening.

The directions also follow a letter from the State Election Commission that no “transfers would be allowed after the issuance of notification for election to Mr municipal corporations of Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala on May 6”. The massive transfers in the police notwithstanding, the state government is still in the process of finalising a new transfer policy by which the shifting of government employees would be regulated in accordance with certain norms.

The DSPs’ transfer virtually cover all major towns and cities of the state. Interestingly, 33 of the DSPs so shifted move from field positions to the Vigilance (six), Commandos (nine), the India Reserve Battalions (seven) and the Punjab Armed Police (11).

Top-level changes in the Police Department have already been affected with the appointment of a new DGP, a new DGP (Vigilance) besides posting of new district police chiefs in 17 police districts. A similar order is expected to be issued for the reshuffling of PCS officers on a large scale. The sources reveal that administrative reshuffle at subdivision and district level would now be made later this week or early next week.

The shifting of police officers at such a large scale has been ordered, say sources, to give a message that the new Government wants to give “clean and transparent administration”.

The officers shifted today with their new place of posting are: 

Amritsar — Mr Ravinder Bakshi (Headquarters and Civil Lines); Jatinder Singh (Detective), Barinder Singh (S.D.), Jagdish Singh Khaira (Traffic), Chaman Lal (City-II), Ashwani Kapoor (City-I), Ashwani Kumar (Baba Bakala), Davinder Sing (Jandiala), Balraj Singh Sidhu (Majitha), Lakha Singh Randhawa (Ajnala), Lakha Singh (Headquarters, Majitha), Jaswinder Singh ( Patti), Major Singh (Bhikhiwind), Gurpreet Singh (Taran Tarn), Manmohan Singh (Goindwal Sahib), Surjit Singh (Headquarters, Taran Tarn), Harminder Singh (Detective, Taran Tarn)

Gurdaspur — Jagdeep Singh (Gurdaspur), Baljinder Kaur (Headquarters), Pardeep Malik (City, Pathankot), Narinder Kumar Bedi (City, Batala), Gajjan Singh (Qadian), Balbir Singh (Detective, Batala)

Jalandhar — Harinderjit Singh (City-I), Pargat Singh (Headquarters), Savinderjit Singh (Control Room), Rakesh Kumar (CID), Upinderjit Singh Ghuman (Nakodar), Satinder Singh (SD), Kanwaljit Singh (SD, Phillaur), Gurmail Singh (Shahkot), Sarwan Singh (City-II), Avtar Singh (Detective)

Hoshiarpur — Mandip Singh (Headquarters), Charanjit Kumar (SD), Rajpal Singh (S.D. Garhshanker), Dharam Singh (Detective), Navjot Singh (Mukerian); Kapurthala — Harmanbir Singh (SD, Phagwara), Ravcharan Singh Brar (SD, Sultanpur), Daljit Singh sahota (SD), Simratpal Singh (Balachaur); Nawanshahr — Lakhwinder Singh (SD);

Ludhiana — Manjit Singh (SD), Sandeep Goel (City-I), Gurjit Singh Randhawa (City-II), Bhupinder Singh (Detective), Mahipal Singh Mann (Headquarters); Khanna — Chand Ram (Detective), Gurtejinder Singh (Samrala), Amarjit Singh (Payal), Balbir Singh (SD, Khanna); Jagraon — Tarsem Lal (Dakha), Shivdev Singh (Jagraon), Paramjit Singh (Raikot); Ropar — Balwinder Singh (SD, Morinda), Harcharan Singh Bhullar (SAS Nagar), Sarbjit Singh (Detective), Rajinderpal (Headquarters)

Patiala — Satbir Singh (City-II), Sandeep Shama (SD), Jaspreet Singh (SD, Samana), Pritpal Singh (Rajpura), Shamsher Singh (Nabha), Kashmir Singh (Detective), Gursharan Singh Bedi (City-II), Parambir Singh Gill (Headquarters), Inder Mohan Singh (Amloh); Narinder Kaushal (SD, Bassi Pathanan), Harjit Singh Brar (SD, Dera Bassi), Fatehgarh Sahib — Sukhwant Singh Gill (SD)

Sangrur — Ashish Kapoor (Moonak), Raj Bachan Singh (Malerkotla), Gurbachan Singh (Dhuri), Gurmit Singh Chohan (Sunam), Varinder Singh (S.D., Sangrur), Surjit Singh Grewal (Detective), Kanwaldeep Singh (Barnala), Sukhminder Singh (Tappa); Faridkot — Hurmel Singh (Headquarters), Surinder Singh (SD), Gurmeet Singh (Detective), Raghbir Singh (Kot Kapura)

Bathinda — Ashutosh (Talwandi sabo), Jagmohan Singh (Rampura Phul), Mukand Singh Malli (City), Manjinder Singh Chohan (SD), Gautam Singhal (Headquarters), Amajit Singyh (Detective), Raminder Singh (Sardulgah)

Mansa — Daljit Singh (Detective); Ferozepore — Avtar Singh (Detective), Hardev Singh (City), Manminder Singh (Zira), Harbans Lal (SD, Abohar), Sarabjit Singh (SD Jalalabad), Darshan Singh (SD, Ferozepore), Baljinder Singh (Headquarters); Muktsar — Mohan Lal (Malout), Ram Parkash (Gidderbaha), Manjit Inder Singh (Muktsar), Jarnail Singh (Detective)

Moga — Nachhattar Singh (Moga), Harjit Singh (Bagha Purana), Sushil Kumar (City); Vigilance Bureau — Brij Mohan Sarup, Narinder Singh, Gurnam Singh, Jagir Singh, Mukhtiar Singh and Rachpal Singh;Crime wing — Gurmukh Singh and Vinod Kumar; Computer — Jagjit Singh Gill; Commando — Bhupinder Singh, Khushi Mohd, Rachpal Singh, Bhula Singh, Amarjit Singh, Ranbir Singh, Jatinder Singh Mand,Ranjit Singh and Jhilmal Singh; IR Battalions — Harmohan Singh, Rajeshwar Singh, Dilbagh Singh Panu, Charanjit Singh, Gurmit Singh Randhawa, Jatinder Pal Singh, Baljit Singh and Shamsher Singh; PAP — Kashmir Singh Bhinder, Paramdeep Singh Teja, Raghbir Singh, Baljinder Singh, Narinder Pal Singh, Rachpal Singh, Savinder Singh, Satpal Joshi, Gurmit Singh, Garib Dass and Puran Singh Purewal.


PWSSB relieves 76 on staff
Employees end agitation
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, April 9
The Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) yesterday relieved all 76 employees of the local Municipal Council who were on deputation with the board for the past two years. They were agitating as the council had refused to take them back.

The board had to take the drastic step as the council failed to pay Rs 15 lakh as maintenance charges.

Sources said Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, spoke to the Deputy Commissioner, and senior officers of the PWSSB. An emergency meeting under the directions of the DC was held. After discussions over the table, the council issued a cheque dated April 6 to the board and gave an undertaking in writing that another cheque for Rs 2 lakh would be issued before April 30.

The council decided to put its immovable property on auction again and promised that if it succeeded in the bid, the rest of the debt would also be paid to the board.

Interestingly, some papers had refused to publish the auction notice of the council as it had not paid advertisement bills since 1994. Senior officers of the Department of Local Bodies were informed about this. Mr Sham Lal Bansal, SDE, PWSSB, visited the employees’ camp inside the council complex at 11 am as they were staging a dharna after suspending office work. Engineering Department officers of the council, too, accompanied the SDE. A copy of a letter addressed to the PWSSB was handed over to the leaders of the employees union.

The letter signed by president Babu Ram Arya and EO Harbhajan Singh of the Municipal Council said that decisions taken at the meeting held on Sunday with the PWSSB officials would be implemented in letter and spirit.

It confirmed that the council had issued a cheque for Rs 1 lakh on Saturday and rest of the dues would be paid as per the terms of the agreement to the board.

The council agreed to mark all 76 employees relieved by the PWSSB as present. They will rejoin duty at the board complex with immediate effect now.

Leaders of four unions of the employees said in a statement this afternoon that keeping in view the action taken under the direction of the DC and the concern expressed by Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, it had been resolved to postpone the agitation.

The unions, however, warned that the council would not be allowed to put the land earmarked for their housing colony on auction. The council has fixed April 12 as the date for the auction. The employees have decided to oppose tooth and nail any step “prejudicial” to their interests.

Meanwhile, the pipe damaged by a vehicle near the local sports stadium here was repaired on Mr jakhar’s intervention by the board. A resident, Mr Mohan Lal Chugh, had complained to the authorities in writing that grants released under the Urban Development Fund by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal during ‘Sangat Darshan’ had been misutilised in laying water and sewerage pipes in this locality.

The work was allegedly not done as per the specifications and substandard material was used. 


ADC to probe corruption charges
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 9
The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, today directed the ADC (General), Mr Ajmer Singh, to hold an inquiry into the corruption charges against the local Tehsildar, Mr H.S. Tuli. The inquiry was ordered after the publication of a news item in a section of the Press in which it was alleged that the said officer had accepted a bribe of Rs 2,000 for making the marriage certificate of a journalist of a Jalandhar-based Punjabi daily.

Today, the father of the journalist, Mr Gurdev Singh, also submitted his allegations against the said officer in the form of an affidavit to the ADC. 


Panel on martyrs’ memorial set up
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
A panel comprising the Chief Town Planner, the Chief Administrator of PUDA and a senior architect has been set up for the beautification of martyrs' memorial at Hussainiwala in Ferozepore district.

The panel will invite proposals from eminent architects. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who held a meeting here today in this connection, has directed that the work on the memorial should be completed before the next March 23.

The Punjab Government has also decided to develop Khatkar Kalan, a native village of Shaheed Bhagat Singh as a "model place". All facilities on urban pattern will be provided there. Capt Amarinder Singh also held a meeting in this connection with officers concerned of Nawanshahr district today.


Report of panel not yet ready
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Punjab Finance Department today clarified that the Punjab Expenditure Reforms Commission has not prepared its final report.

It has been holding discussions with the administrative secretaries of the departments concerned. The term of the commission has been extended up to June 30. The clarification was issued by Mrs Vini Mahajan, Special Secretary of the department. 


Drug addict poisons wife, 3 children

Batala, April 9
In a bizarre incident, a drug addict poisoned to death his wife and three minor children after thrashing them in Khanpiara village under Qadian police station near here last night.

According to the police, ex-serviceman Kuldip Singh, under the influence of drugs and liquor picked-up a quarrel with his wife Sukhwinder Kaur (40) when she refused to give him money. In a fit of anger, he beat her up and then forced her to consume some poisonous substance.

Later he forced his children Manjit Kaur (15), Surjit Singh (14) and Preet Kaur (10) to consume a poisonous substance and fled from the scene.

The police has sent the bodies of all four for post-mortem examinations and took into custody Kuldip Singh’s parents for questioning.

Parents of Sukhjinder Kaur told the police that since his marriage 16 years ago, Kuldip often beat up their daughter when she objected to his taking intoxicants or refused to give him money. A case has been registered. UNI


BA final English paper ‘baffling’
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 9
Students of BA final were baffled on seeing the question paper of English examination conducted by Punjabi University, Patiala. It was not only from outside syllabus but also contained, reportedly, a number of errors and discrepancies.

In a written complaint made to the Principal of the local Government Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College, the students said in question number 6 (a), sentence number six made no sense while in sentence number 10, the word “is” was missing.

In part (b), nine sentences out of the given 10 were out of syllabus which was studied by them in BA part I whereas, according to the syllabus, these sentences should have been from the syllabus studied by the students in BA part II.

In this part, sentence number III made no sense. The students said the question paper should have been based on the studied by them in BA part III. They alleged that in part (c), the paper setter had set seven sentences from the syllabus of BA part I and three from BA part II. 


Another women’s college
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 9
The subdivision will soon have another degree college for women. The foundation stone of the college hostel was laid by former minister Sajjan Kumar Jakhar at village Kalatibba, 3 km from here, Sunday.

The college named as Bhag Singh Khalsa College for Women would be run by a trust. Mrs Harbaksh Kaur Hayer, wife of the late Bhag Singh Hayer, Congress leader, donated 26 acres for the college at a well-attended function. Principal Pritam Singh Sidhu said regular classes would begin from the coming academic session.


Resignation accepted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 9
The Punjab Government has accepted the resignation of Mr H.S. Sagar, Principal of Dr B.R. Ambedkar Regional Engineering College, Jalandhar, according to a press note.

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