Tuesday, April 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sidhu’s hand alleged in record burning
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
All five members of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) today accused Chairman of the Commission Ravinderpaul Singh Sidhu and former Commission Secretary of a “dubious’’ role in the burning of answersheets of the PCS (Executive) paper of 1998 and urged the government to institute an independent probe or vigilance inquiry into the entire matter.

Two Members of the Commission today submitted a report on the burning of answersheets of the PCS as well as other examinations which was accepted unanimously. The report virtually indicted the Chairman and then Secretary Pritpal Singh of duplicity in the burning of the answersheets of the PCS (Executive) 1998 examination.

According to sources the two Members — Amarjit Singh Chawla and Maj Gen (retd) G.S. Riar in their report claimed that undue haste had been shown in burning the PCS examination answersheets. They said the process of making a file to burn the answersheets started on February 18 and was completed by February 22. They said following this immediately after the exit of the Akali - BJP government in the State orders were given to burn the answersheets.

The Members reported that an attempt was made to cover up the entire deed by issuing another order on April 28 under which directions were issued to burn answersheets of some other examinations, including those of doctors and Public Works Department officials. They said besides this the record was burnt with undue haste after the formation of the Congress government, on a holiday. Moreover they said the very fact that all Members of the Commission were kept in the dark about the burning of the record indicated that the action was not above suspicion.

Talking to The Tribune Commission Member Amarjit Singh Chawla said all Members — Harjit Kaur Randhawa, R.C. Gupta, Maj Gen Riar and Paramjit Singh Dhillon were present at today’s meeting. He said the Members had recommended to the government to institute a probe into the burning of the Commission record by an independent agency or give the case to the State Vigilance Department so that the guilty could be brought to book.

Mr Chawla said the Commission Members had made this recommendation because they could not summon the Chairman or Secretary for inquiry into the case and they prima facie felt that an inquiry was needed to know why the PPSC Chairman and the former Secretary had shown such haste in burning the PCS 1998 answersheets immediately after the change of government in the State.

The Commission Member said it had been decided to hold the next meeting of the Commission on April 19. He said the meeting would deliberate on the report of the Fact-Finding Committee consisting of himself and Maj Gen Riar formed to find out whether proper procedure had been followed in holding various examinations by the Commission in the past. He said the Committee was also looking into the procedure under which Subject Experts were appointed by the Commission for interviews for various posts. He said the Committee would also deliberate on whether there was any need to review the examinations held recently including those of PCS, DSP and Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs). The Commission was also studying the need to lay down proper procedure in this regard on the pattern of other Commissions, he added.


CM attends class in e-governance
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
It was back to the classroom for the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who spent a major part of the day attending presentations on e-governance by reputed IT companies at Punjab Bhavan here today.

The eager “student’’ ensured that his colleagues and administrative secretaries did not miss out on lectures on topics of common interest. These included “Online integrated secretariat and government portal’’ by TCS+CMC, “e-governance solutions from IBM’’, the ‘’Chief Minister Information System’’ by NIIT, “Successful e-governance projects in Punjab’’ by TICL, “e-governance road map solutions’’ by C-DAC of MIT, “Smart card technologies’’ by SCL, “e-governance: national experience’’ by NIC of MIT and “IT and e-governance policy, strategy and action plan’’ by IT framework, government of Punjab.

Primarily, these companies were asked to present “success stories’’ in other states. Consequently, Punjab is likely to adopt inputs applicable to the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister’s office as also in respect of secretariat computerisation there. Likewise, some inputs from the Gujarat Government will be introduced in Punjab. The application of smart card technologies showing micro-level data of 50-odd villages making use of the Geographic Informatics System was impressive.

At the end of the presentation, the Chief Minister was informed that for the successful implementation of programmes under e-governance the state must keep aside at least 2 per cent of the state Budget for IT. The Centre has 5 per cent allocation of the total Budget for IT. Punjab already has a policy document, copies of which, running into 28 pages, were circulated on the occasion.

The bottom line was “start simple, grow fast’’ but do “start’’. The Chief Minister was given feedback on the growth of IT, so far, in the state with emphasis on “IT implementation is possible if there is political will and bureaucratic commitment".

IT application could be done in phases. Priority could first be accorded to “revenue generating” departments, like Excise and Taxation, where investment would have a multiplier effect. The next could be “citizen interface’’, say in the offices of the deputy commissioners, where people go for various purposes. The computerisation of revenue offices in tehsils is already showing results.

In fact, a new portal “Punjabsewa. governance.in’’, is almost ready giving information on 300 services listing procedures and having application forms, etc. This site is expected to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister in a couple of days.

There is a proposal to impart training in IT and computer handling to all ministers and MLAs. The Department of Information Technology and Administrative Reforms will work out modalities for the implementation of the IT Policy-2001. IT can be a catalyst in accelerating growth and help in human resource development. The policy envisages three phases: government to citizens, government to business and government to government.

Today’s presentation is expected to give impetus to IT application. Capt Amarinder Singh has told his Finance Minister to make adequate provision for this in the June Budget.


Relief may elude border farmers
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Indo-Pak Border, April 15
Thousands of farmers who have been cultivating land across the border fencing in Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Ferozepore districts may be denied compensation for the mined fields in the absence of the ‘girdawaris’.

Though the records of the Border Security Force (BSF) is enough proof to establish the real cultivators, the compensation, worth crores, will be disbursed on the basis of revenue records. A team of the Kirti Kisan Union (KKU), which had taken a group of journalists to the border belt for a first-hand report on the plight of the hapless farmers, informed that most of the cultivators were Rai Sikhs — known as ‘Tigers of the border belt’.

They had to put in a lot of hard labour to reclaim the land, which had been rendered waste due to the ever-changing flow of the meandering Ravi. The river traverses many areas of the border belt before entering Pakistan. Mr Jatinder Singh Chhina, state organiser of the KKU, said the mighty river changed its course from time to time, leaving most of the land uncultivable. He said it was the hard-working Rai Sikhs who had made the land cultivable.

Technically, the land belongs to the Centre, the Forest Department and the state government. Since the Centre, the state government and the Forest Department had not made serious efforts to make use of the land, many unscrupulous persons had succeeded in registering ‘girdawaris’ fraudulently in their names. Some paramilitary forces personnel had also got the ‘girdawaris’ registered in their names, speaking volumes about the apathy of all concerned.

Mr Sukhraj Singh Chhina, vice-president of the KKU, said thousands of farmers in 50 villages in Amritsar district had been cultivating the land across the border fencing while 99 per cent of them had failed to get the ‘girdawaris’ in their names. Mr Tarsem Petar, state president of the Pendu Mazdoor Union, alleged that most of the ‘outsiders’, who did not even know the location of the land, got the ‘girdawaris’ registered in their names in connivance with revenue officials and Subdivisional Magistrates.

Shockingly, the Forest Department had failed to cultivate the land for reasons best known to the authorities concerned. Activists of the KKU claimed that more than 4700 acres was being put to use by Rai Sikhs across the fencing in Amritsar district alone.

A visit to Burj and Nain villages, close to the zero line, revealed that farmers were worried about their future. A former sarpanch of Burj, Mr Mehar Singh, said after the Army build-up, the farmers were not being allowed to irrigate their fields across the fencing.

The BSF jawans were not allowing them to bring back the agricultural equipment after the Army build-up. Mr Surjit Singh of the same village had four acres across the fencing. Mr Inder Singh, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Mohan Singh and Mr Mohinder Singh had the same story to narrate.

The villagers said the laying of mines in the fields had been done in the most haphazard manner. Pakistan had saved much of the cultivable land which was visible from these villages with great planning. Pakistan had constructed ‘dhusi bandhs’ within days after the Army build-up.

The KKU team told the reporters that the border villages, including Burj, Tur and Dag Tut, were annexed by Pakistan in 1971. The border villages had suffered a lot during the war. The Centre had disbursed compensation properly among them. This time, revenue officials might deny compensation to them on flimsy grounds, they feared.


Introduction of Bt cotton unlikely this year: PAU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 15
Will Punjab farmers be able to introduce Bt cotton this year? Going by the status report prepared by Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), it will not be possible as the Monsanto-Mahyco company has not tested the hybrids suitable for the state.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has convened a meeting of PAU experts and Punjab Agriculture Department officials to discuss the situation with regard to the introduction of Bt cotton on April 18 at Chandigarh.

The PAU Vice-Chancellor, Dr K.S. Aulakh, in a note to the Chief Minister, has stated that in India, Monsanto-Mahyco has introduced Bt-based hybrids. Two Bt cotton hybrids — Mech-184 and Mech-162 — have already been approved by the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee (GEAC). Both hybrids are being marketed in Central and South India as per guidelines and restrictions imposed by the committee. These hybrids were also tested in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan during the 2001 crop season. The PAU experts witnessed these trials and observed that Bt cotton was the need of the hour to make the cultivation of cotton economical.

Dr Aulakh has maintained that before these Bt cotton trials, PAU had suggested in writing to the company concerned that for Punjab, the Bt gene should be introduced in only those hybrids which were suited to conditions in the state. The university had said that these hybrids should be resistant to the cotton leaf curl virus disease because Bt itself did not provide any protection against it.

The Vice-Chancellor regrets that in spite of PAU’s advice, Monsanto-Mahyco tested hybrids which were not suitable for Punjab one of the hybrids, Mech-915 is susceptible to the cotton leaf curl virus disease. “So as per our apprehension, the company is not in a position to market the seed of any tested Bt cotton hybrids. The whole problem has been created by the wrong choice of hybrids for Punjab. The fact is that Bt technology has been approved for the entire country and the northern states have not been excluded from its cultivation,” he says.

The Vice-Chancellor further points out that the company at present has no good hybrid for Punjab. The Vice-Chancellor said farmers were bringing spurious Bt cotton seed from Gujarat, adding that Monsanto-Mahyco has not yet sold seed of Bt hybrids.

The university is in the process of obtaining Bt gene which will be added to non-hybrid varieties.

Dr Aulakh has urged the government that the GEAC should be approached to simplify the procedure of testing new Bt hybrids, which should be simultaneously tested by the GEAC, ICAR and state agricultural universities.

Dr Aulakh, who met Capt Amarinder Singh last week, also urged him to ensure the availability of good-quality insecticides to farmers. Pest surveillance and monitoring should be increased and farmers advised to use proper spray technology. He said farmers should also be educated not to sow spurious Bt cotton seed from Gujarat.

Dr Aulakh also suggested to the Chief Minister that the official procurement of paddy should not be started before October 1.


Search for better job ends in Pak jail
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

MALLIANA (MOGA): When Karam Singh (29) planned to change his place of work from Lebanon to Greece, little did he realise that he would find himself behind bars in Pakistan instead of getting the promised job.

He is not the only one who has landed up in jail. He is among hundreds of Sikh youths languishing in different jails of countries like Germany, Lithuania, Belgium, Mexico, Cuba, Italy and Greece on charges of trying to sneak into prosperous countries without legal documents or on a fake passport and visa.

According to a letter written by Karam Singh from a Pakistani jail to his family in Malliana village, 20 km from the district headquarters of Moga, he was arrested along with three of his friends — Gurnam Singh, son of Gurbax Singh, resident of Garhi Kanugo village (Nawanshahr), Amarjeet Singh, son of Gian Chand, resident of Donowal Khurd village (Hoshiarpur) and Gurmeet Singh, son of Teja Singh, resident of Timberpur village (Fatehgarh Sahib) — by Pakistani soldiers when they were ordered to cross the border at gunpoint by Iranian troops.

The letter further stated that the four of them, while working in Lebanon, planned to go to Greece through local travel agents for better job opportunities. The agents took them to Turkey from where they were to be taken to Greece. However, they were arrested by the Turkish army while trying to sneak into Greece. They were suspected of being spies and were interrogated for a month. They were later released on the condition that they would leave the territory immediately. Again luck did not favour them. They were arrested by the Iranian army and interrogated. Iranian army officials took away all their money and passports. After two weeks of interrogation, they were let off on the Pakistani border and ordered to leave Iran. The Pakistani forces deployed in Baluchistan along the Pakistan-Iran border arrested them on July 23, 2001, and sent them to the Central Prison, Match (Baluchistan).

Since then, they have been in this jail. Surprisingly, Karam Singh wrote in one of his letters that the Pakistani army did not torture them while interrogating them. They were later sent to the jail, where they were never beaten up and were allowed to write letters to their parents and the higher authorities of both Pakistan and India so that they could be deported to their homeland.

Another letter stated that replies were received to letters written to the Pakistani authorities, but none of the officials concerned posted in the Indian High Commission in Islamabad or in India had replied. The Pakistani authorities have agreed to deport them on the condition that they be handed over to officials at the high commission.

Balwinder Singh, younger brother of Karam Singh, told TNS that officials of the Intelligence Bureau had visited their house twice for inquiries.

This correspondent contacted the authorities in the jail at Match on phone number 0092-08-36400 but Jail Superintendent Ghulam Murtaja and his subordinate, DSP Jaquir, refused to give details. They said the four Indians were fine and were being treated well. On the other hand, the authorities of the Indian High Commission did not even bother to pick up the phone (no. 0092512206950).

Mrs Surjit Kaur (62), mother of Karam Singh, is hopeful that her son will come back soon, get married and stay with her. She has urged the President of India to help her.


Review alliance with SAD, Sodhi urges BJP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 15
Blaming the state BJP leadership for ignoring grass roots workers during its five-year rule, a former Punjab BJP Chief Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, today called for a review of the party’s alliance with SAD before going in for the ensuing MC poll in the state.

Talking to reporters here at the residence of the Mayor of the municipal corporation, Mr Suresh Sehgal, he alleged that the state BJP had ignored these workers, resulting in the defeat of its candidates throughout the state in the Assembly poll.

Mr Sodhi said he was expecting poor results in the MC elections since the ministers and BJP leadership had failed to convey information about the welfare programmes and schemes initiated by the ruling alliance in the state at the grass- roots level.

He alleged that the party leadership was not serious about the MC poll which was evident from the fact that it had not constituted any committee of senior BJP leaders for the selection of candidates and had failed to chalk out the poll strategy. “Though Congress has taken a lead by starting the process of selection of candidates for the MC poll, the BJP is still to chalk out its plan,” he said.

On Punjab BJP organising secretary Avinash Jaiswals reported comment that the party had gained a lot during the past two years, Mr Sodhi said: “Does it mean that the previous state leadership had done nothing to promote the cause of the party in the state? The results in the recent Assembly elections would have been different, had the party and its ministers maintained their links at the grass-root level”.

“The state leadership has failed to enquire into the conduct of those BJP councillors who voted against the official party nominee during the election to the post of Mayor of the Amritsar Municipal Corporation two years back,” Mr Sodhi alleged.

He alleged that the state bureaucracy had turned a blind eye towards the complaints of party workers regarding irregularities committed by officials while preparing voter lists for the MC poll. “Though Congress men, in connivance with bureaucrats, got enrolled hundreds of bogus voters, the claims and objections filed by the BJP were overlooked by the officials concerned in Amritsar. Even the delimitation of wards in Amritsar has been done keeping in view the interests of the ruling party,” he alleged.


BJP reports to high command on poll debacle

Phagwara, April 15
The Punjab BJP has submitted its detailed report to the party high command about the causes and factors behind its debacle in the Assembly elections in February.

The BJP, as the coalition partner of SAD, had contested 23 seats but could scrape through only in three. This was against 18 seats it had won in the previous Assembly elections.

The state BJP organisational general secretary, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, said here today that the major cause of the defeat of the SAD-BJP combine was that the 1997 election manifesto was implemented only in the first and last three months of the coalition rule. Besides, lack of coordination between the coalition partners, leg-pulling within the BJP and lack of media management were among the other major factors responsible for the defeat, he said.

Replying to a question, Mr Jaiswal said the Punjab BJP had urged the high command to discourage elements which were working to weakened the party for their selfish interests. He, however, ruled out any reshuffle in the state BJP. He said his party and SAD would jointly contest the ensuing MC elections. UNI


Doctors to go back to actual places of posting
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Overturning the previous Government’s controversial decision, which had jeopardised medical services in the rural areas, the Punjab Government today cancelled orders relating to the deputation of doctors and other medical staff at various places.

Under political pressure, the previous government had shifted a large number of doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other medical staff from rural dispensaries and primary health centres to various cities and towns. The government had given the justification that such staff were required in the urban areas.

In fact, the previous government did this to favour those who were not inclined to serve in the rural areas but otherwise had political clout to make the government change their posting orders. There were more than 100 doctors and a large number of nurses and pharmacists. Though they were posted in the urban areas on deputation, they were drawing their salaries from the actual place of posting. Owing to this there was not a trace of health services in certain rural areas of the state.

In certain cases, the previous government had made a mockery of the health services. It had allowed the authorities concerned to draw the salaries of certain doctors posted on deputation in the urban areas against posts of doctors vacant in the rural areas.

Informed sources said that the Punjab Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, taking serious note of this practice, directed the Health Department authorities to immediately relieve all deputationists by telling them to report at their actual places of posting.

Meanwhile, the government is drawing up a number of new schemes to improve the health services in the rural areas. It wants to start mobile dispensaries. Sources said that at certain places dispensaries were set up under political pressure. These were not serving any purpose.


Wear uniform, doctors told
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 15
Dr O. P. Mahajan, Principal of the local Government Medical College, has issued directions to the doctors on duty to wear uniforms and name tags.

The circular issued by the Principal reads, “It has been brought to the notice that the doctors on duty to not wear overalls and do not carry name tags. Certain persons with BAMS degree work in the hospitals, which is not only neglect for duty, but also against medical ethics. The professor in charge of the unit and the emergency will be responsible for any incident that may occur due to non-wearing of name tags and overalls. The doctors are directed to adhere to the instructions, failing which action will be taken accordingly.”

On April 6, a patient with head injury was admitted to the emergency ward of the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital and some unidentified “doctors” with stethoscopes were giving injections to the patient. They were later found to be outsiders.

The attendants of the patient called a senior doctor of the adjoining unit and a scuffle between the attendants and postgraduate students followed. Postgraduate students went on strike, which was called off after three days on an assurance by the authorities concerned on adequate security arrangements on the college premises.


Villagers, Baba Dhakki Sahib on collision course
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Baba Darshan Singh also known as Sant Dhakki Sahib Wale, has been face to face with residents of Gharuan village near Khamano, over the attempts by the Sant and his followers to reopen their old ‘dera’ in the village, which is his native village. A row between the two parties has been over a piece of land in the village.

There is tension in the village since Baisakhi day afternoon after a news that the Sant with hundreds of followers was coming to the village to attend the Baisakhi celebrations in Malaksar Sahib Gurdwara and to reopen his ‘dera’ on a piece of land, mired in controversy due to that ownership spread. The village Panchayat called an emergency meeting and resolved due to that the residents of the village would boycott Sant and his followers. The villagers resolved to oppose attempt by the Sant to reopen the ‘dera’.

Clash between the Sant’s followers and the villagers was averted yesterday late evening due to the presence of heavy police force.

Sensing trouble, the Sant also decided to stay away. According to information available here the Saint with hundreds of followers was about to leave for the village but later changed mind. Mr Zora Singh and Mr Gurdeep Singh, two Sevadars of the Sant told The Tribune that Babaji decided to stay away for the sake of peace in the village.

There were heated exchanges between the two parties late in the evening in the presence of the police. The followers of the Sant showed court orders claiming they were the rightful owners of the land and be allowed to stay on but had left the place due to opposition of the villagers and on the advice of the police.

Baba Darshan Singh was re-habilitated recently at Dhakki Sahib ‘dera’ near Maqsoodran village in Ludhiana District after the Punjab and Haryana High court ordered a CBI inquiry into an attack on his ‘dera’ allegedly by supporters of a former Akali Minister. After the change of government in Punjab, scene at Dhakki Sahib also changed dramatically. While earlier the Sant or his followers were not allowed near the ‘dera’, now they have freedom with the police also in a supportive role.

With the change of governance the Sant according to police sources, decided to reopen his old ‘dera’ in Gharaun village his birth place and it was there that he had established his first ‘dera’ before moving over to Dhakki Sahib.

The residents of Gharuan village apprehend that the Sant will set up another ‘dera’ like that Dhakki Sahib in the village and decided by a resolution adopted late last night to oppose him. Police sources said they had put the force on alert to prevent any untoward incident following mood of the villagers.

Mr Arjun Singh sarpanch of the village, told The Tribune that they had resolved social and economic boycott of the Sant and his followers. The panchayat also directed all villagers against giving an offering or alms to them. A copy of the resolution with The Tribune claims that the villagers were doing so not for the piece of land but due to certain ‘objectionable’ activities of the Sant.

Mr Zora Singh and Mr Gurdeep Singh, ‘sevadars’ of the Sant, however, said the villagers were doing so because of the land. They even alleged that the present government was also against them. They threatened to move court against the government if they were not allowed to set up a ‘dera’ in the village.


3-day Baisakhi mela concludes
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 15
The three-day annual Baisakhi mela, which marks the harvesting of wheat crop, culminated on a colourful note here late last evening. On the concluding day, the Nihangs, known as beloved forces of Guru Gobind Singh, who assembled in thousands here five days before Baisakhi, played “gatka” and showed their horsemanship.

The procession, led by Baba Santa Singh, head of the 96 Crori Baba Budha Dal Sect, who was in a bus, started from Ber Sahib near his ‘chawni’ (headquarters) and went to Jandsar Gurdwara and then to Likhansar Gurdwara. After that, the processionists went to Takht Damdama Sahib and paid obeisance and then to Ber Sahib again.

While some Nihangs, donned in their traditional blue and saffron dresses, displayed their “gatka” skills, others who were on horseback displayed their skills in sword fighting and tent pegging. Two elephants were also seen leading the procession. More than 10,000 young and old Nihangs, who came from 12 misls (units), from far away places on their ‘chakarvarti yatra’ participated.

Baba Santa Singh, who was excommunicated from the Sikh Panth in 1984 for his involvement in the reconstruction of Akal Takht after Operation Blue Star at the Golden Temple, participated in the Mohalla for the second time yesterday.

During the mela, religious diwans, dhadhi darbars and kirtan darbars were organised at various religious places, some of which were tastefully decorated. Langar (community kitchen) was organised at large number of places.


Mann denies meeting militants
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 15
Member Parliament and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann today said that he did not meet any of the militants in Pakistan during his recent visit to that country and he was not aware of their presence there.

In a statement here today, Mr Mann said: “I did not see or meet any alleged militant in Pakistan so I do not know whether the alleged militants are in Pakistan”. However, he added, “I have stated both to the print and the electronic media that before calling a person a terrorist the UN must define what terrorism is and who is a terrorist".

Secondly, he said, "I have stated in Pakistan that both India and Pakistan have made out lists of persons wanted in each of their countries. However, the two have no legal framework like an extradition treaty between them”.


Man writes to Chief Justice, CM
Alleges attempt to murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15
Mr Sanjay Garg, a local resident, has approached the Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court, and Chief Minister, Punjab, alleging that the Tapa Mandi police authorities in Barnala district have converted an attempt to kill him into a road accident case after conniving with the suspect.

Mr Garg, while talking to The Tribune, alleged that when he was coming to Bathinda, the suspect tried to kill him by ramming a Canter into his vehicle and the police had converted the same into a road accident. He added that while he was under treatment at a hospital in Ludhiana, a police official came to him with a statement in connection with a compromise with the suspect and asked him to put his signature on the same. It indicated that the police in connivance with the suspect was trying to hush up the case.

He added that the Canter, which was earlier in a parked position, came into motion suddenly when he approached in his car. The Canter hit the car and smashed its engine. It took about an hour to pull him and his companions out of the vehicle.

Mr Garg, while pointing out that he was the only breadwinner of the family, alleged that the suspects were influential persons and openly proclaiming that they had connections with the officials of Tapa police station.

While pointing out that he apprehended that someone was trying to kill him, he urged that the background of the accident should be proved so that in future nobody could harm him.

Mr Nachhattar Singh, the then Station House Officer, Police Station, Tapa, when contacted on phone, said what had happened on March 24 was purely a road accident and not an attempt to murder as he had made his inquiries which had established that the suspect had neither the intention to kill Mr Garg nor they knew him earlier. He added that an FIR had been registered in this connection under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 427 of the IPC.

He said no police official had gone to the Ludhiana-based hospital to get the signatures of Mr Garg. Only the statement which Mr Garg had made before the police official had been recorded. He said it was a case of accident and not of an attempt to murder.


CM’s directions on traffic curbs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today directed the state police not to cause harassment to the general public by way of putting traffic obstacles or diverting vehicular traffic in the wake of visits by VVIPs to different places.

A press note today said he was shocked to note that people were made to wait unnecessarily till the convoys of VVIPs passed through busy roads.

He said whenever he visited any place in Punjab or outside, the police in general and the traffic police in particular should ensure that the public was not made to wait.


Malwa farmers in for water shortage
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 15
With the paddy season approaching farmers of the Malwa belt may face water shortage for irrigation, due to the pathetic state of the Sirhind canal. The absence of repairs along the course of the canal for more than past three years has reduced to carrying capacity of the canal by about 1000 cusecs.

The Sirhind canal, which is bifurcated from Sutlej at the Ropar head-works, has an installed capacity of 12,600 cusecs. However, sources here said due to the lack of repairs over the past few years, the irrigation authorities will not risk releasing more than 11500 causes of water in the canal in the coming season.

The Sirhind canal starting from Ropar goes up to Manpur head in Ludhiana district. Here it is bifurcated into Patiala feeder, which irrigate areas of Patiala and Sangrur districts and the combined branch, which ends at Bowani head. At Bowani head the combined branch is bifurcated into Abohar branch and the Bathinda branch. This way the Sirhind canal irrigates almost the entire Malwa belt.

The lack of repairs over the past few years has hit the carrying capacity of the canal, especially after the Manpur head in Ludhiana. The banks of the tributaries have been reduced from 12 feet to just two to three feet at many places. Even these have not been properly strengthened, due to which the irrigation authorities fear releasing full water into them. If full water is released into the Sirhind canal and its distributaries, there is a risk of it getting breached, the sources say.

This year, the condition has further worsened due to the non-release of funds for the desiltation of the distributaries carrying water from the Sirhind canal to the fields. Funds for the desiltation of these distributaries, which generally get chocked every year are released in February. The work of desiltation is completed generally up to the end of April.

However, this year funds have not yet been released for the desiltation of the distributaries. The irrigation authorities managing the canal are in a fix as to how they will release water in the distributaries if their desiltation is not carried out.


More transfers in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
The Punjab, government ordered fresh transfers today. Mr R.P.S. Pawar is now Principal Secretary, School Education, vice Mrs Romila Dubey, as well as Additional Principal Secretary, Information Systems and Administrative Reforms.

Dr Swarn Singh is secretary, Information System and Administrative Reforms. Mr R.L. Kapoor is Director, Hospitality, Mr H.R. Megh is Director, Grievances and Pension, and Mr Dalip Kumar is Joint Secretary.

The PCS officers reshuffled are: Mr Som Nath as PSO to Commissioner, Ferozepore Division, Mr Megh Raj, Director, Small Savings; Mr Surjit Singh, Director Land Records, Settlement and Consolidation of Holdings, Land Acquisition, Jalandhar; Mr Satwant Singh, Secretary, PPSC, Patiala and Additional Secretary, Freedom Fighters; Mr Dipinder Singh Additional Secretary, Agriculture; Mr Mangat Ram Aggarwal, Additional Secretary, Excise and Taxation, Mr Harbhupinder Singh ADC, Amritsar, and Mr Arunjit Singh Miglani Secretary, Punjab State Board of Technical Education.

Mr Baljit Singh goes as ADC and ADC (Dev.), Fatehgarh Sahib; Mr Gurnam Singh Gill is Secretary, Backfinco; Mr Vinod Kumar Bhalla is Director, Relief and Resettlement; Mr Sher Singh Sidhu is Director, Lotteries; Mr Mohinder Pal Arora is AC (Grievances), Nawanshahr; Mr Devinder Singh Saroya is Joint Secretary, Education; Mr Balraj Singh Sekhon is SDM, Dera Baba Nanak; Miss Kiran Rosy is Secretary, Punjab State Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation; Mr Jaipal Singh is SDM, Nihal Singh Wala, Mr Sukhwinder Singh is AC (Grievances), Bathinda; Dr Jaswant Singh is SDM, Amritsar-II; Mr Gurwaryam Singh is DTO, Ferozepore; Mr Sanjay Popli is Joint Secretary, Public Grievances and Pensions; Ms Babita is EO, PUDA, Jalandhar; Mr Hari Krishan Nagpal is ADO, CE, Irrigation Works; Mr Avtar Chand Sharma is Secretary, RTA, Ferozepore and in addition AC (Grievances); Mr T.K. Goyal is Deputy Secretary, Agriculture; Mr Devinder Singh is SDM, Faridkot; Mr Inderpreet Singh Kahlon is EM Jalandhar:

Mr Harbans Lal Bansal is Deputy Secretary, Welfare of SCs and BCs; Mr Om Parkash Verma is EM, Sangrur; Mrs Balraj Kaur is EM, Amritsar; Mr Rajinder Singh Sidhu is LAC, Improvement. Trust, Amritsar; Mr Gurdev Singh is Deputy Secretary, Forests and Wild Life; Mr Jiwan Kumar Garg is LAO, PWD (B&R); Mr Amarbir Singh is ADO., Director, Health and Family Welfare; Mr Bharat Bhushan is EM, Ferozepore; Mr Rubinderjit Singh Brar is AC (General), Fatehgarh Sahib; Mrs Surinder Kaur is AD.O., DPI (Schools); Mr Sukhpreet Singh Sidhu is Executive Magistrate, Patiala; Mr Sukhwinder Singh Brar is EM, Hoshiarpur; Mr Amarjit Singh is EM, Faridkot; Mr Rajesh Dhiman is EO, PUDA, Patiala; Mr Rajdeep Singh Brar is Deputy Director, Colonisation; Mr Balbinder Kumar is AD. O, Director, Agriculture, and Ms Praneet Shergil is Ad.O., OCE, PWD (B&R).

Meanwhile, Mrs Bhawana Garg is now Subdivisional Magistrate, Gurdaspur, and the posting of Mr Parwinder Pal Singh as Executive Magistrate, Kapurthala, has been held in abeyance, as per a press note issued today.

At least 20 all-India and Punjab Forest Service Officers have also been reshuffled.


MC flouts HC order on waste disposal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 15
Despite Punjab and Haryana High Court directions to file a status report giving details of the solid waste disposal plants by April 22, the local municipal corporation is allegedly violating the order even as the Bhagtanwala grain market, the biggest grain market in the Majha area, has become a dumping ground for the garbage of the city.

The local Pollution Control Committee, in a communication to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, has pointed out that the corporation is shirking its responsibility and its apathy may have serious health consequences in the area.

Mr Prabhdyala Singh Randhawa, general secretary of the committee has alleged that the bio-degradable waste, along with construction material and debris is dumped here, with no provisions for their separate and segregated disposal by the corporation.

Stray animals create nuisance in the area and are carriers of diseases that may be a precursor for epidemics. During minor showers, the place is filled with stench. The monsoon may spell disaster for the area.

Mr Surjit Singh Bhitewind, president of the Galla Arhtiyas Welfare Association, Grain Market, says the market has more than one lakh visitors daily, who along with those, residing in the vicinity, are prone to eye and skin diseases, respiratory problems, gastroenteritis, malaria, dysentery and hepatitis.


Don’t go on strike, PSEB to employees
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 15
The PSEB today urged its employees not to be misled by “the politically motivated” strike called by the National Coordination Committee of electricity employees and engineers on issues which were not related with the PSEB.

Board Chairman Sudhir Mittal in a press release here said the board management had always been very sympathetic and considerate towards the genuine demands of the employees and many of the important demands had already been settled while few were under consideration.

Mr Mittal urged the employees to attend their duties tomorrow saying the PSEB was committed to providing uninterrupted power supply to the customers. He said all steps had been taken to maintain the power supply system.


DC cancels licences of 4 arhtiyas
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 15
Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, here has cancelled the licences of four arhtiyas K.D. Traders (Deep Singh Wala), Rajeev and Company (Jand Sahib), Dhingra Trading Company (Machaki Kalan) and Jagdish Traders here for committing irregularities in the purchase of wheat. The Deputy Commissioner visited rural and urban purchase centres today to review wheat procurement arrangements of different state agencies told the dealers to follow norms of the Punjab Government for procuring wheat failing which action would be taken a press note here said. The Deputy Commissioner also took note of slow lifting of wheat at rural centres Sadhawala, Deep Singh Wala, Sukhanwala, Jandsahib, Buttar, Mumara, Mehmuana, Ghumiara, Hari Nau, Charneli, Wara Draka, Panjgrain and Sarawan besides at two urban grain markets at Jaitu and Kotkapura. He directed to speed up lifting of wheat. He also directed them and traders to provide all facilities for the farmers in the mandis.

Earlier, Mr Prasad held a meeting with officials of the state agencies and district administration for proper procurement arrangements of the crop. He directed the District Transport Officer to ensure smooth movement of the trucks and other vehicles in the centres for the lifting of wheat stock. He also asked the DTO stop the parking of trucks and other heavy vehicles at Sadiq Chowk, Faridkot.


DC office shifted to new building
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, April 15
The office of the Deputy Commissioner and other offices of the district heads have been shifted from the Market Committee Building to the newly constructed district administrative complex on the Bathinda-Muktsar road from today.

Mr Babu Lal, deputy commissioner, in a press note here said that by having all major government offices in one building, the administrative efficiency would improve and people would save a lot of time. He added that the formal inauguration of the new building would be done by Mr Dharamveer, Commissioner, Ferozepur division, in a few days.

A langar and akhand path ceremony was held at the complex.


CM reschedules meeting time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
In larger public interest, the appointments of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh have been rescheduled as follows:

The Chief Minister will meet the public under the “Jan Sampark” programme at his residence from 9.30 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. from Monday to Friday, when he is in station.

He will also meet MLAs and senior party leaders from 10.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m., with prior appointments, at his residence on these days. Ministers can meet him at his residence from 11.30 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.

The official meetings would, henceforth, be held at Chief Minister’s Office from 2.30 p.m. to 5.00 p.m.


Rally by thermal plant staff
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 15
Members of the employees union of local thermal plant today hold a rally to show their resentment against the policies of government which were not in the interests of the employees.

The employees said they had been agitating for a long time against the Union Budget proposals which were anti-poor and anti-labourers. They said they had urged the authorities concerned to accept their demands.

They said that they were forced to launch an agitation as their demands were not accepted. The employees said they would continue their struggle till they got justice.

Their demands include cash payment of overtime, promotion of employees in place of direct recruitment of employees on senior posts, the implementation of 23 years promotion scale for all employees.


NFL staff to go on strike today
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 15
Members of the local unit of the National Fertilisers Employees Union will go on a strike tomorrow to show resentment against the decision of the government to sell public sector units. Leaders of the union said in a press note today that the move of the government would render thousands of employees jobless.


R. R. Bhardwaj assumes charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, a retired Punjab IAS officer, today assumed charge as Deputy Chairman, State Planning Board. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was present.


Boy crushed to death by van
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 15
The competition between the drivers of two school vans to overtake each other proved fatal for an eight-year-old boy who was hit by one van and the other ran over him, killing him on the spot.

A student of Class III, Harmandeep Singh, who was going along with his cusion Raju, today towards their shop from the railway overbridge when the incident occurred. He was the only son in a family, which also has two daughters.

Mr Partap Singh, father of the deceased, said the vans in order to overtake each said other were running at an exceedingly high speed. One of the vans hit Harmandeep and he received injuries on his arm. He added that before his son could take control of himself, the other van ran over him killing him on the spot.

Mr Partap Singh further said his son and nephew were going on their side and the high speed of vans and carelessness of the drivers was responsible for the accident. He said the vans were on contract with a private convent school.

The family members and relatives of the boy at the Civil Hospital where the post-mortem examination of the child was to be conducted while talking to this correspondent demanded stern action against the drivers.

The police has arrested the drivers of vans Om Parkash and Rakesh Kumar, both residents of the local Parasram Nagar. They have been booked under Sections 279 and 304-A of the IPC.


Home Guard shoots another
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 15
Gulzar Singh, a Home Guards jawan, posted at Patti and attached to the Army, shot dead another Home Guards jawan, Bishan Das, and later shot himself suffering injuries in the process on Saturday at a border village, Boparai Maddal.

According to information, Gulzar Singh came to his quarters at Boparai Maddal village where he shot Bishan Das dead and ran away from the spot.

The Patti police registered a case under Sections 302, 452, 25, 27, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

When the police conducted a raid to arrest Gulzar Singh, he tried to commit suicide by shooting himself with his service rifle but was injured.

The police admitted him to Civil Hospital, Patti, and registered another case under Sections 309 and 511 of the IPC against him.


Six arrested for carrying 28 oxen
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 15
The Moonak police has arrested six persons namely Satish Kumar, Manohar Lal, Sham Lal, all from Tohana in Haryana, Umardin, Iliea and Chhota, all from Malerkotla, under Section 295 of the IPC and II-D of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

The persons were allegedly carrying 28 oxen in three canters from Haryana to Punjab. Residents of the Moonak town had also held a demonstration in front of the Moonak police station on Saturday against the alleged failure of the police in initiating action against the accused as they were of the view that the oxen were being taken to Malerkotla from Tohana via Moonak with “bad intention”.

The Moonak police said yesterday that all 28 oxen and three canters were now in its custody.


Bidder beaten up at auction site
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 15
Even as Mr Rajan Mittal, a local belting and machinery dealer, was allegedly beaten up during the auction of scrap held at Mohali on April 10, 2002, by some other bidders, he along with his brother, Mr Ajit Mittal while alleging bungling in the auction urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and Chairman PSEB, Mr Sudhir Mittal to make arrangements for proper investigation in the auction and further necessary action.

In the FIR registered at Mohali police station against the accused, Mr Rajan Mittal alleged that when he started offering his bid, the Superintendent Engineer, Mr Ashok Vij, declared the bid in favour of the other party. This action of Mr Vij had caused a revenue loss to the PSEB. He said when he tried to raise his voice against this, he was beaten up by a section of other bidders.

He added that his companions, including Mr Krishan Singla and policemen, present at the venue of auction saved him from the accused and the matter was reported to the police.

Mr Ajit Mittal, in letters sent to the Chief Minister and the PSEB Chairman, has also submitted an affidavit by Mr Krishan Singla carrying the details of incident and allegation against the auction in charge for leaving the bid in favour of some other persons. Mr Singla also alleged that the auction in charge in connivance with other officials and other parties had caused huge loss to the board.

Mr Vij when contacted on the telephone at Patiala, first said he was least bothered about the allegations levelled against him by Mr Rajan Mittal and Mr Krishan Singla as they were politicians and then added that auction was held as per procedure and board fetched 100 per cent more revenue than the reserved price.

He pointed out the auction of the item, on which Mr Rajan Mittal was levelling allegations, was first cancelled, as there was no bidder. When Mr Mittal came and requested to offer his bid for the same item at particular price, which was about double the reserve price, his request was entertained.

In the meantime some other people came, who also started offering their bids. The last bid of Mr Mittal was for Rs 44 for rubber conveyer belt and the last bid of the other party was Rs 44 and 1 paisa and the second bid was accepted. After that, a scuffle broke between Mittal and others and he tried to rescue Mr Mittal. He added that allegations of Mr Mittal and others were false.


‘Supari’ killers arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 15
The Moga police today claimed to have busted an inter-state gang of dacoits involved in ‘supari’ killings and other crimes.

This was stated in a press note issued today. The members of the gang have been identified as Jagsir Singh of Mandiran Nawan, Baljit Singh of Bharirupa, Kuldip Singh of Dharamsinghwal, Buta Singh, Chamakaur Singh and Mohan Singh, alias Mohini, all residents of Saideke village.

Five of them have been arrested while Mohan Singh is at large.

The miscreanats were arrested when they were allegedly planning a robbery near the community health centre at Rode village. The police recovered two .32 bore revolvers and 12 cartridges, a .12 bore pistol and a sharp-edged weapon from the accused.

Buta Singh and Mohal Singh had allegedly taken Rs 2 lakh from one Chamkaur Singh, alias Kauri, for taking possession of a piece of land. They had also taken Rs 50,000 from Gurjant Singh for killing Gurdip Singh, a resident of Bilaspur.

A case under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC and 25, 54, 55 of the Arms Act has been registered against them at Baghapurana police station.


Woman, paramour held for husband’s murder
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 15
The Patti police today arrested Rajbir Kaur, along with her paramour Malkiat Singh, on the charge of murdering her husband Ram Parkash (40), whose body was buried in the dry bed of a nullah.

The district police chief told this correspondent that Malkiat Singh had illicit relations with Rajbir Kaur. Her husband was kidnapped from his house on April 5. The next day, he was killed in a gruesome manner.

When the father of deceased, Harbans Lal, enquired about his son, Rajbir Kaur gave an unsatisfactory reply. Harbans Lal became suspicious and lodged a complaint with the Patti police.


Dowry death: four of family booked
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, April 15
Gurmeet Kaur, daughter of Mr Jodh Singh, resident of Patiala, ended her life by hanging herself from a fan here yesterday. According to information, Gurmeet Kaur was married to Sukhpal Singh, son of Harbhajan Singh, resident of Prem Basti here.

Gurmeet Kaur’s father in a complaint lodged with the police alleged that her in-laws had been forcing her to bring more dowry due to which she ended her life.

Acting on the complaint the police registered a case against Sukhpal Singh (husband), his father Harbhajan Singh, his mother Daljit Kaur and his brother Raghubir Singh.


Thieves attack farmhouse

Hoshiarpur, April 15
A gang of thieves struck at a farmhouse near Jaura village under the Tanda police station last night. Three inmates of the farmhouse, namely Saroop Singh, his wife Gurmit Kaur, and another woman Baljit Kaur were knocked unconscious by the intruders, police sources said here today.

The police, on searching the fields around the farmhouse, recovered three empty trucks which were taken away by the thieves from the farmhouse. The three injured were admitted to a hospital in Tanda. UNI


Theft in varsity dept
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 15
Three students of the Fine Arts Department of Punjabi University have alleged that four canvases and 12 wood-cut plates were stolen from the workshop of the department between the evening of April12 and the night of April 14. Kapil Sood, an MA (II) student, alleged that he along with other students left the department at around 4 p.m. on April 12. With April 13 and 14 being holidays he returned to his workshop today to find four of his canvases and four wood-cut plates missing.


Probe govt role in ‘shielding’ VC: JAC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 15
The Joint Action Committee (JAC) comprising teachers, students and non-teaching employees of Punjabi University, which has been spearheading the campaign for the ouster of the Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, asked the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today to comment on the recorded conversation between Dr Ahluwalia and senior government officials of the state government, including Mr N.S. Rattan, Principal Secretary, Higher Education and Mr Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Political Adviser to the Chief Minister.

The transcript of the same was submitted by Dr Ahluwalia to the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Dr Ahluwalia alleged that he was being subjected to intense political pressure to quit his post.

Urging the Chief Minister to constitute an inquiry into the alleged role of the high government officials who had reportedly given assurance on behalf of the Chief Minister to withdraw cases of attempt to rape of murderous assault against the VC in lieu of his resignation from the post of Vice-Chancellor, the convener of the JAC, Dr U.C. Singh, and those found guilty of such assurances must be punished so that faith in the new government which claimed to provide clean, transparent and honest administration was reinstated.

The JAC also alleged that some bureaucrats and senior Akali leaders had attended “entertainment” functions at the VC’s residence which had been video-taped and some officers sympathetic to the previous government had been trying stalls the probe to save themselves and their patrons. Calling upon the state government to refer the VC’s case to the CBI, so as to ensure an impartial inquiry, members of the JAC, including Mr K.S. Sidhu, asked for the immediate suspension of the VC on grounds of absence from duty for nearly 20 days in March.

The committee said since the present VC’s term was coming to an end on May 15, a search committee should be immediately constituted to finalise the name of the new Vice-Chancellor so that any adhoc arrangement for the highest post in the campus could be avoided. It said the proposed dharna which was to be held on April 17 in front of Punjab Raj Bhavan at Chandigarh had been postponed to April 20.


Explanation sought from board officials
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 15
The Punjab Government has taken a serious note of certain alleged irregularities committed in the Punjab School Education Board during the tenure of the SAD-BJP government.

Comments of senior officials of the board have been sought by the government as complaints about certain alleged cases of misuse of official machinery and the promotion of some board employees against the rules have been received in the office of the Chief Minister.

Sources in the Education Department said the Chief Secretary had sought comments about the allegations against senior board officials from the Chairman of the board. However, the Chairman, Dr Kehar Singh, said he had already submitted his reply.

The government is said to be probing the recent appointments of clerks and helpers in the board, which are alleged to have been made at the instance of former Education Minister Tota Singh. It could, however, not be confirmed whether the government had sought the merit list of the clerks and helpers from the board authorities or not.

Enquires reveal that the former education minister gave preference to candidates from Moga. A government notification regarding regularisation of the daily-wage employees — who fulfilled the laid down criteria — was not implemented. The work of checking answer sheets, type test, compilation of interview results and finalisation of lists was got done by a senior official in the board. Certain candidates were reportedly declared successful after rechecking.

According to sources, a senior clerk, whose increments were stopped after he was found guilty in a case was promoted from a back date by exonerating him of the offence. The case of dismissal of a superintendent was converted into a case of voluntary retirement.

Sources said a retainer was appointed for taking legal advice whereas there were regular posts of senior legal adviser, legal adviser and a full-fledged law office was present in the board.

An official car of the board was used by the former education minister. An official telephone connection, having STD facility, and a mini-exchange were shifted to the Sector 18 residence of the former education minister. Bills amounting to around Rs one lakh were paid against the telephone connection during the last year. Contractual appointment of the wife of a retired Army officer against a non-existing post has also been highlighted.

The government has also sought comments about the appointment of an Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to the Chairman.


Millers oppose FCI order
A. S. Prashar

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 15
Nearly 130 roller flour millers of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh are up in arms against an order of the Food Corporation of India debarring them from participating in open tender for open sale of lustre-lost wheat lying in the FCI godowns of the two states.

The millers have warned that their units, which were already functioning at only 20 per cent of their installed capacity, will be forced to close down because of this “discriminatory policy” adopted by the FCI. They have argued that there is no reason to debar them from participating in the open sale tender of wheat in the states where it was primarily produced and where the main segment of the industry was located while permitting states like Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, West Bengal, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu and Assam and other North-Eastern states.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Vinod Kapoor, past president of the Roller Flour Millers Federation of India, Mr Vinod Mittal, president, Chandigarh Roller Flour Mills Association, Mr Gopal Bhushan Gupta, president, Punjab Roller Flour Mills Association, and Mr Rakesh Goyal, secretary, Haryana Roller Flour Mills Association, said: “The policy announced by the FCI defies logic and such open discrimination against mills located in wheat-producing areas like Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh has not been seen before. We feel that millers located in all parts of the country should be given an equal opportunity to participate in open sale without any discrimination. This will also help the FCI mop up additional crores of rupees”.

The millers said that they would meet the Chairman of the FCI, Mr Bhurelal, in Delhi tomorrow to bring their grievances to his notice.

They urged the ministry to take millers from all over the country into its confidence before formulating a policy which affected all of them. “The present policy seems to have been formulated just to help millers from certain parts of the country only”, they alleged.

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