Friday, April 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD to counter Cong ‘vendetta’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) is evolving a strategy to counter the Congress “vendetta” against party activists, including MLAs. Taking cognisance of the political confrontation brewing in the state, the SAD plans to launch a district-wise mobilisation programme effective May 12.

This was stated by the SAD secretary-general and Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, here today. He told newsmen that the Congress, in just two months, had shown its true colours by engineering the “harassment” of Akali activists, paving the way for a political confrontation.

The agenda for the district meetings would be “issue based” and these would expose the “high-handed attitude” of the Congress. The SAD had already received complaints against ministers, with evidence, which would be revealed at the appropriate time. “We are not scared of facing the Congress onslaught”, he added.

To a question, Mr Dhindsa said: “There is no question of cooperating with the one-man commission of inquiry against the previous Akali ministry. We will boycott it.” The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had already termed the commission “as illegal” and rejected it. The commission was politically motivated, he added.

The mala-fide intentions of the government were clear from the fact that it did not write to the high court Chief Justice asking for a sitting Judge. Instead, Mr Dhindsa said, it appointed a retired Judge, who was closely related to the Advocate-General and whose close relatives had been “favoured” by appointing them in the AG’s office.

Asked about the mention of the name of his son-in-law, Mr Harsohinder Singh Brar, (1999 PCS batch) in the PPSC recruitment scandal, Mr Dhindsa said when he finalised the marriage of his daughter, Ramandeep Kaur, a BDS doctor, in 2000, Mr Brar was already undergoing training as a PCS officer in Ludhiana. In fact, Ramandeep herself had appeared in the PPSC examination that year but was not selected.


Garg promises impartial probe
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
From a judge, to a novelist, to a one-man-commission — Justice A.S. Garg finds himself comfortable in all the roles. Little wonder, the retired Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge believes he will be able to look into the allegations of "irregularities, illegalities, corruption and other misdoings" of the previous government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal impartially, "without favour, frown or obligation". Also without entering into any sort of controversy regarding the commission's jurisdiction vis-a-vis the existing statutory institution of the Punjab Lokpal.

"I am confident that the commission will be able to function strictly in accordance with the provisions of law," says Justice Garg, reposing on a comfortable bottle-green sofa meticulously placed in the first floor visitor's room of Punjab Bhavan in Sector 3 here. "The commission will not record any finding against anyone without giving him an opportunity of hearing, which in any case is the person's right in accordance with the principles of natural justice".

But how does the commission propose to go ahead? Act on the basis of complaints, or suo motu look into the irregularities committed by the SAD-BJP government?

"At this moment, I am not in a position to comment on the issue as I joined just yesterday. So far, the data and the documents have not been supplied to me. One thing, however, is for sure that the commission will try to contain itself strictly within the framework of law. Under no circumstances, will the commission exceed its powers and jurisdiction".

Still, with just six months time and functioning of public servants, MPs, MLAs and other functionaries of the previous government, which lasted for full five years, to probe, wouldn't it be tough?

"The commission will first examine the volume of work and then see if it needs to apply for extension of time," Justice Garg reveals. "As for myself, I believe in finishing the work as expeditiously as possible, preferably within the specified period of time".

For the purpose, the retired Judge, clad in an immaculate white shirt over well-ironed trousers of the same hue, asserts: "I plan to speed up the disposal of cases of corruption, nepotism and favouritism, besides financial and other irregularities, committed by the politicians and the bureaucrats, by dividing the entire work in different categories. I also plan to ensure that the commission does not waste its precious time by probing frivolous complaints aimed at defaming and damaging others".

Will the commission also examine the allegations against the relatives of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats?

"By all means. No one will be spared. Basically we will be dealing with bureaucrats and politicians, but if during the probe we come to know that some favour has been shown to the kith and kin of top officials, we will record our findings".

Regarding the question of government's jurisdiction to appoint a commission for a specific purpose without the Lokpal's recommendation or with his prior permission, Justice Garg says: "The question is purely a legal one. I do not wish to comment on it. Lets wait and see".

Lastly, will his passion for writing novels help him in his new assignment? "Novels deal with public interest. The talk about the problems encountered by the people in their day to day existence, simultaneously bringing out the sentiments. Yes, they teach you the art of looking at every thing from a human point of view, by encouraging you to place yourself in the position of a victim. Penning down a novel helps you in completing your job with a sense of realisation".

Justice Garg plans to start functioning actively from his office in Punjab Mini Secretariat from Friday. A law graduate from Delhi University, Justice Garg joined as a judicial officer in February, 1964. He became a District and Sessions Judge in 1988 before being elevated to the Bench in February, 1999. He retired in December last year. He has authored two novels primarily dealing with the protection of women and is currently writing on human rights and Indo-Pak relations.

The Punjab Government, it may be recalled, had ordered the setting up of a one man "Commission of inquiry" to probe into "irregularities, illegalities, corruption and other misdoings" of the previous government. The setting up of the Commission was approved by the state Council of Ministers after a meeting here on Tuesday morning. The Commission would inquire into the acts of omission and commission committed by the previous government, besides "acts of mala-fide and biased mind, which were detrimental to public interest", along with "acts committed for personal gains which adversely affected the state exchequer, or squandering away public money or resources".


Ex-VC’s co-accused Cheema arrested
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The local police today successfully effected the surrender of former student leader Bhupinder Singh Cheema, who is a co-accused along with a former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, in the case involving a murderous attack on Dr H S Bhatti a varsity Reader, in March.

According to sources the surrender of Cheema, who was working in a local college on ad hoc basis after a stint in the university as a research scholar, and was absconding since the attack, was effected in Rajpura.

It is learnt that the student leader may turn approver in the case and is likely to disclose to the police the reasons behind the attack on Dr Bhatti as well as the role of the former Vice-Chancellor in the entire case.

The sources also disclosed that it had not been easy to locate Cheema and that the help of his close friends, including a woman, was taken to locate him. They said calls were made on cellular phone by friends of Cheema to him from which the police learned about his whereabouts. Following this he was ordered to surrender before the police and his surrender was effected at Rajpura. The sources said Cheema had been living on tubewells in the countryside since March 5 on which he led a murderous attack on Dr Bhatti. They said he had also spent some time in Ludhiana with his friends.

A case of attempted murder had been registered against Cheema and some other students of the varsity for attacking Dr Bhatti in front of the gate of the varsity. According to the FIR registered in the case, Cheema led a group of students out of the residence of the former VC and then attacked Dr Bhatti.

Besides the fact that Cheema had came out of the residence of the VC before attacking Dr Bhatti, the police also submitted in the court that another teacher had heard the VC giving directions to Cheema to finish off Dr Bhatti some days before the attack.


CM orders probe against PTU VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The Punjab Government has ordered a probe into the sexual harassment charges made against Punjab Technical University (PTU) Vice-Chancellor Dr H. S. Gurm, who is in the thick of controversy following allegations of misconduct levelled against him by female employees of the university.

Talking to TNS today after presiding over a function of the Indian Newspapers Society (INS), state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh said disturbing reports had been emanating from Jalandhar and since the charges levelled against Dr Gurm were serious in nature, the government had decided to get these investigated.

Accordingly, he said he would ask Technical Education Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee to submit a detailed report on the issue so that appropriate action could be taken in this regard. The Chief Minister said the concerned Secretary would also be asked to probe the matter at a later stage.

Meanwhile, sources said a vigilance probe into the functioning of the Vice-Chancellor was also not ruled following a spate of charges of misconduct and sexual harassment levelled against him. The Vice-Chancellor is also under fire for the manner in which he allowed private parties to give franchises to open information technology units in various parts of the state. There are allegations that many of the franchises do not have the adequate infrastructure.

The sexual harassment charges against Dr Gurm first surfaced last year when three female staff members of PTU alleged that the Vice-Chancellor had behaved inappropriately with them during office hours. Though an inquiry was ordered into the case after then BJP legislator Laxmi Kanta Chawla took up the case with then Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, Dr Gurm was exonerated from all charges. The inquiry had been conducted by then Technical Education Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha.

All three complainants were later removed from their jobs by Dr Gurm. The staff members have been carrying out a campaign against the move since then. Recently, the style of functioning of the Vice-Chancellor came under a cloud again when he allegedly manhandled mediapersons on the campus on Tuesday.


Officers selected by Sidhu apprehensive
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 25
The decision of the Punjab Government to cancel 639 appointments made by the Chairman of the PPSC, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, has created apprehensions among many Class-I officers appointed by him over the past few years. The officers fear that the government may now cancel their appointments, too.

Many of them have already started taking a legal opinion to decide as to what course they should follow if the government removes them from the posts. An officer posted in this district on the condition of anonymity said his lawyer told him that it was very difficult for the government to remove the permanent appointees.

Some of the officers posted over the past few years say that the entire batch should not be punished for a few black sheep. An officer said he was a gold medallist throughout his academic career.

PCS officers selected by Mr Sidhu feel that even if the government doesn’t oust them still the controversy has already affected their career. Since their selection has come under doubt the government would not give them prime postings in the near future, they said.

All eyes are now on the hearing of Jagman’s case that is to come up in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate here. Jagman, the main conduit of Mr Sidhu, has pleaded before the court to become an approver in the case. The officers fear that many permanent appointees might face suspension if Jagman identifies them as those who gave him bribe for selection.

According to legal experts it might be difficult for the government to dismiss permanent employees even if Jagman identifies them. The fact that the appointees actually paid bribe would have to be proved in the court. The government, however, can order the suspension of employees whose selection is under doubt till the matter is decided in the court. A petition challenging the selections of the PCS officers of the 1998 batch is already pending before the Supreme Court, they said.

At least 3,446 posts of doctor, engineer, judge, DSP and PCS officer were filled through selections made by the PPSC headed by Mr Sidhu. The persons recruited against the above posts have completed periods ranging from three to five years in service. The government has now ordered a probe into these selections.


Rejected by PPSC, disabled girl joins IAS
Chander Parkash

Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 25
Polio paralysed both her legs at the age of only 14 months. Nevertheless, it failed to deter her from taking on the challenges of life. Braving all odds, she became a college lecturer of English after winning various awards of best girl student, best debater and prizes in the quiz competitions. After doing MA. (English), she jumped into the arena of competition. She made it to the IAS allied services in her first attempt and made herself and parents proud of her.

But disappointment is writ large on the face of Ms Manisha Bansal, a local resident and now working in Central services in Haryana, even after joining the IAS allied services. She has been feeling sad ever since she was rejected by the interview panel of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) for the post of PCS (Executive) in 1998.

Manisha has been a topper throughout her academic career. She has collected various awards and merit scholarship in matric exams, state and national scholarship in plus two exams and a gold medal in her BA (honours) and MA exams. She also cleared the National Eligibility Test for appointment as lecturer (college cadre) in the first attempt. Manisha feel more pain when she thinks that those who have been selected by the PPSC did not deserve the selection. Her parents have renewed hope that their daughter would now get justice, with the scams done by PPSC Chairman Sidhu exposed.

Mr S.P. Bansal, father of Manisha Bansal, in a letter written to Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, has urged him to review all the selections made during the tenure of Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu and prosecute all those who were selected through corrupt and unfair means. Mr Bansal said that if the law permitted, they should be removed from office with immediate affect.

In another case, while the Supreme Court had ordered the removal of 11 block development and panchayat officers (BDPOs), who were found to be appointed against prescribed norms, the previous SAD-BJP government led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal reappointed them after removing them once without taking any test again and made a mockery of the selection procedure and merit.

A cross-section of aspirants of state civil and other services who failed to make it to same alleged that large-scale bunglings had been made in the recruitments of PCS, Executive and judicial, lecturers, veterinary officers, PCMS, DSPs, principals and other class one posts in the past 20 years. They pointed out that some of those, who scored well in the PCS and other competitions, were closely related to the Chairman and members of the PPSC.

Ms Yadvinder Kaur, a local resident, B.VSc. and AII with more then 75 per cent marks, who was not selected by the PPSC in January, 2002 for the post of veterinary officer, in a letter written to the CM, has alleged that most of those who selected had merit lower than those who were not selected. She has demanded a probe into the matter.

While the investigations into the property amassed and ‘paid recruitments’ made by Sidhu are going on, a major section of educated unemployed persons have appreciated the move of the Congress government to eradicate corruption from high places.

Mr Bikram Jeet Kumar, one such unemployed youth demanded that a probe into the assets of the former chairpersons and members of the PPSC, Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB) and other selection boards should also be ordered.


Austerity measures to save 500 cr: CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today made it clear that netting a few big fish was not the goal of his government in its ongoing drive against corruption and that the drive would be taken to its logical conclusion with the objective of removing the menace from the state.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the Indian Newspaper Society (INS) on “Challenges to the Print Media”, the Chief Minister said the drive against some prominent persons, including the Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), was not aimed at mollifying critics who had doubted the promises made by the Congress before the elections. He said instead the drive against corruption would continue till Punjab became a place where the most under-privileged person could get his work done without paying any bribe.

Claiming that his government had been voted on a mandate to remove corruption, bring in good governance and go in for fiscal management, he said all these three things were being looked into. Saying that criticism on the large-scale transfers was not fair, he said his job was to turn the whole state around for which he had to bring in a responsible bureaucracy. He said due to this changes had been affected till the sub-divisional level and that his government was also going in for appointing officers for specialised roles according to their expertise.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the government expected to save between Rs 500 crore to Rs 550 crore through the measure. He said his own security had been reduced in contrast to his predecessor and that 7,000 police personnel had been withdrawn from security duty and were expected to provided an impetus to the law and order situation.

Speaking on the role of media, he said people were looking for objectivity in papers and only those who provided it could grow in the new scenario.

Speaking on the same issue The Tribune Editor Hari Jaisingh said it was imperative to perceive the readers as masters and reflect their feelings. He said he was against the recent trend of treating newspapers as market products which he believed was akin to insulting the readers. “Anything which deals with ideas, compulsions and reads the mind of the readers cannot be a product”, he added.

While claiming that small newspapers had the right to exist, Mr Jaisingh said they should not be used for blackmailing and should resist the psychophancy culture. He said papers must be honest, correct and try to be responsible. “These are the qualities which make The Tribune the voice of the under privileged’’, he said. The Editor, however, said papers must reflect all shades of opinion and that the right to reply was sacrosanct. The Editor also stressed that the role of the Press Council of India should not be belittled, adding that it was unfortunate that some publications did not pay due respect to it because the body did not have the power of punishment.

Press Council of India Chairman Justice K. Jayachandra Reddy said the media needed to play the role of a watchdog to see that the legislature, executive and judiciary functioned fairly within the constitutional framework.

INS President Partap G. Pawar urged the Chief Minister to look into the problems being faced by the small and medium newspapers with regard to advertisements and sales tax issues.

Earlier PCI member Jagjit Singh Dardi, who is also Editor of the Chardhikala group, stressed the need for evolving a uniform advertisement policy aimed at safeguarding the interests of the small and medium papers.

Others present on the occasion were INS Secretary-General P.K. Lahiri, Mr Vijay Chopra, Editor, Hind Samachar Group, Mr Ratnesh Singh Sodhi, Editor, Akali Patrika, Mr Jagjit Singh Anand, Editor, Nawan Zamana, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Editor, Aaj di Awaz, Media Adviser B.I.S. Chahal and Director, Public Relations, S.K. Ahluwalia.


Hunting trip: student dies
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, April 25
The Kot Kahlur police has booked the Principal of the Dashmesh Academy, Anandpur Sahib, as the injured student, Gurpreet Singh, a son of Mr Karnail Singh, died in the PGI today morning due to the bullet injury. Sources said the student who did not regain consciousness since he was brought to the PGI on April 20, died today morning due to the excessive blood loss from his injured leg.

The substantial portion of the thigh of the injured boy had blown off due to the impact of a bullet fired from the .12 bore rifle, which went off accidentally from a point blank range. The bullet had also blown a portion of the thigh bone of the injured boy, due to which the doctors had to remove it.

However, the doctors failed to save the life of Gurpreet, as he had lost a lot of blood before he was brought to the PGI, the sources added.

The SHO of Kot Kahlur police station in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Chamel Singh, when contacted admitted that the injured boy died today morning. A case under Sections 336, 338 of the IPC and Sections 30, 54, 59 of the Arms Act had been registered against the Principal of the Academy, Mr Pradeep Mal. Now that the boy has died proceeding under Section 304 of the IPC may also be initiated against the Principal. The post-mortem report of the student was still awaited, he said.

As reported earlier in these columns a Class X student of the Dashmesh Academy, Gurpreet Singh, was seriously injured on being accidentally hit by a bullet from the .12 bore rifle of his Principal. The boy accompanied the Principal along with some other students on a hunting trip, in a jungle adjoining the Academy.

Gurpreet allegedly started playing with the loaded gun of the Principal, which went off accidentally, ripping off a major portion of his leg.

The boy was given first aid at the Anandpur Sahib hospital and later shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The Anandpur Sahib police which came to know about the incident on April 20, provided the entire information of the case to the authorities of Kot Kahlur police station as the incident had taken place in their jurisdiction.


Amritsar civic poll may be put off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Plans of various political parties in the fray for the local municipal corporation elections have gone awry, following the high court order effecting rotation of wards for elections, on a writ petition.

The BJP is happy over the orders of the court as it is a battle won for the party.

In the current scenario, it is likely that elections to the corporation scheduled for May 19 could be postponed.

The Congress has started inviting applications by Congress MP R.L. Bhatia in the wake of the order while the BJP has announced a meeting of district leaders, including former MLAs Baldev Raj Chawla, Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Om Parkash Kalia, district president, Satpal Mahajan, chairman, Water and Sewerage Works, and Panna Lal Mahajan to chalk out the new election strategy.

Interestingly, with rotation, aspirants for mayorship of most parties find their wards changed into women’s wards. They are Mr Bakshi Ram Arora (BJP), Mr Laxmi Narain Tandon (BJP), Mr Krishan Kumar Kukku (Independent), Mr Sunil Datti (Cong), Mr Ashok Soni (Independent). Following the rotation every third ward is reserved for women, starting from ward number 2.

Most sitting women councillors, however, are disheartened over the de-reservation of their wards. A majority of them feel that work culture could suffer in wards reserved for women.

Anticipating rotation, interestingly, a married couple had applied for two separate wards for the convenience of “inter-change”.

The corporation has a total of 60 wards, with 20 reserved for women and common sharing of four wards in the Schedule Caste quota. Seats in the general category are 31, for women in the general category 16, Scheduled Caste men seven and two for backward classes.

The BJP holds 21 seats, Congress 17, SAD eight and the rest are held by Independents.


Civic poll: BJP sets up panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The Punjab unit of the BJP has set up a committee for coordination with the Shiromani Akali Dal to jointly contest the elections to the municipal corporations in the state.

The members of the committee are Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, Mr Shakti Sharma, Mr Narottam Dev Ratti, Mr Vinod Sharma, Mr Harjit Singh Grewal and Mr Avinash Rai Khanna.


Remove Modi or face dharnas: MLA
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 25
Mr Parkash Singh, local MLA, while talking to mediapersons here today said as per the instructions of Capt Amarinder Singh he along with Mr Satvir Singh, president of the District Youth Congress, and local Congress workers had visited Gujarat to take stock of the situation there.

He said the most alarming fact was that though the state was reeling under the communal riots and the people, especially the minorities, had been feeling insecure, the BJP Government, both at Centre and State, had been “trying to fish votes in bloodshed.”

He accused the Modi government in Gujarat of flaring up communal riots in the state to get political mileage.

He said district-level dharnas for raising the demand of removal of Modi government would be held soon in Punjab.


Common minimum agenda for Punjab mooted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
There is growing concern in several quarters over the future of Punjab, which is faced with a slew of problems like a fragile economy and ones with religio-political connotations that require to be tackled by cutting across political ideologies and interests.

Voicing their concern, certain well-meaning Punjabis, coming from different social strata, have addressed a four-point letter to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and several Akali leaders, including the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, besides Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann.

The letter draws their attention to the four issues that require immediate attention and resolution through a "common minimum programme" in the larger interests of the Sikh Panth and Punjab.

The four issues are: the river water dispute, which holds the key to state’s economy; education, particularly at the primary level and mainly in rural areas, which cover 70 per cent of the state’s population; health of the people, with focus on the use of drugs causing economic distress and deterioration of health and even death; and Sikh identity (Section 25 of the Constitution of India).

The letter, signed by an eminent agricultural scientist and Sikh scholar, Dr Kharak Singh, informs the recipients that a committee has been formed to contact them individually as well as collectively to discuss the four-point agenda and work for the suggested ‘’common minimum programme’’ after coming together at a round-table.

The committee comprises retired Chief Justice Ranjit Singh Narula, a former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agricultural University, Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, a former bureaucrat, Mr Gurdev Singh Brar and an eminent educationist, Dr Gurbax Singh Shergill. The committee has sought appointment with the recipients of the letter at a date and time convenient to them.

The underlying spirit behind this move, informed sources told TNS, is to create harmonious political relationships among the men who matter so that the Sikh Panth and Punjab do not suffer. It stresses that due care of future generations should be taken by strengthening the socio-economic, political and religious fabric.

The initiative that these persons have taken in regard to the future of Punjab already has a precedent, though on a larger canvas.

A successful attempt at political networking was made by a BJP MP from Hamirpur, Mr Suresh Chandel, in New Delhi recently. He invited all MPs, irrespective of their party affiliation, from Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Punjab and Chandigarh, to draw a ‘’common minimum programme’’ for regional development as well as to form a pressure group in Parliament to develop the region economically and socially, thereby ending political acrimony and setting new trends in intra-party cooperation.

This meeting identified areas of regional cooperation, like infrastructure, communication, common market, common airport, etc. The next meeting is to be shortly hosted by the Chandigarh MP, Mr Pawan Bansal.


Chhina’s booty crosses Rs 2-cr mark
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
The Vigilance Bureau here has managed to get information from Mrs Upjit Kaur, wife of Managing Director of the Amritsar Central Cooperative Bank Surinderpal Singh Chhina, who was arrested on April 13 and remanded in judicial custody.

According to sources in the bureau, Mrs Chhina who had been initially a tough nut to crack, finally broke down to reveal that during the past one year, the family had purchased three commercial plots in Ranjit Avenue, a posh colony in the civil area. Chhina has already paid Rs 70 lakh in cash against the total payment of plots which have been valued at Rs 1.12 crore. The payment of Rs 70 lakh was made in two instalments during 2000-2001.

Around 2.50 kg gold and Rs 36 lakh have earlier been recovered from his house and various banks in Amritsar. The assets, including cash, gold, plots etc., are valued at over Rs 2 crore.

The sources added that this booty may be the tip of the iceberg. Persons interrogating Mrs Chhina revealed that her husband enjoyed the patronage of a former Akali minister who even saved him from some criminal cases pending against him. Chhina was accused of bungling the Kargil fund collection and the city police had filed an FIR against him two years ago, but he managed to come out of it scot-free.

Chhina had been recruiting junior clerks and peons allegedly by taking cash with the connivance of the former minister.

Fearing the uncovering of his misdeeds and manipulation of the bank accounts last year, Chhina replaced the chartered accountant firm, Sanjay Kapoor and Company, appointed by the Chief Auditor, Cooperative Societies, Chandigarh. During the tax audit last year, the chartered accountant was allegedly asked to sign the audit report on the dotted lines which was prepared by the bank itself without presenting the book of the accounts. The firm of the CA had refused to oblige and complained to the Chief Auditor.

Sanjay Kapoor and Company had alleged in its report to the Registrar, Cooperative Societies, that proper information about the working of various branches of the bank was not provided.

Sleuths working on members of the family revealed that Chhina’s elder son was at present pursuing his studies of Colorado, USA, and younger son in a prestigious public school of Himachal Pradesh.


Situation in Gujarat under control: Swami
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Union Minister of State for Home I.D. Swami said today that contrary to claims, the situation in Gujarat had been brought under control and that complete normalcy would return to the state gradually.

Talking to newsmen here while attending the concluding function of the Samrastha Divas being organised as part of the birth anniversary celebrations of B.R. Ambedkar, the Union Minister said the situation could be gauged from the fact that nearly 7,000 persons had proceeded on Haj pilgrimage from the state.

He said besides this the recent school exams in the state had registered 98 per cent attendance. He said panchayat elections had also been held in the state recently and all these factors indicated that the situation was under control.

Mr Swami also indicated that recent reports of mushrooming of madarasas in the border areas of the state as well as in Ganganagar district of Rajasthan were being looked into.

Others present at today’s function were party’s Scheduled Caste Morcha national president Ramnath Govil, its state president Vijay Sampla, party senior leader Avinash Jaiswal, district presidents Ram Kumar Goel, Bhupesh Aggarwal and Anil Bajaj.


HC orders rotation of MC poll wards
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Plans of various political parties in the fray for the local municipal corporation elections have gone awry, following the high court order effecting rotation of wards for elections, on a writ petition.

The BJP is happy over the orders of the court as it is a battle won for the party.

In the current scenario, it is likely that elections to the corporation scheduled for May 19 could be postponed.

The Congress has started inviting applications by Congress MP R.L. Bhatia in the wake of the order while the BJP has announced a meeting of district leaders, including former MLAs Baldev Raj Chawla, Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Om Parkash Kalia, district president, Satpal Mahajan, chairman, Water and Sewerage Works, and Panna Lal Mahajan to chalk out the new election strategy.

Interestingly, with rotation, aspirants for mayorship of most parties find their wards changed into women’s wards. They are Mr Bakshi Ram Arora (BJP), Mr Laxmi Narain Tandon (BJP), Mr Krishan Kumar Kukku (Independent), Mr Sunil Datti (Cong), Mr Ashok Soni (Independent). Following the rotation every third ward is reserved for women, starting from ward number 2.

Most sitting women councillors, however, are disheartened over the de-reservation of their wards. A majority of them feel that work culture could suffer in wards reserved for women.

Anticipating rotation, interestingly, a married couple had applied for two separate wards for the convenience of “inter-change”.

The corporation has a total of 60 wards, with 20 reserved for women and common sharing of four wards in the Schedule Caste quota. Seats in the general category are 31, for women in the general category 16, Scheduled Caste men seven and two for backward classes.

The BJP holds 21 seats, Congress 17, SAD eight and the rest are held by Independents.


Panchayats to monitor schools, dispensaries
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
In a significant decision, the Punjab Government has decided to authorise gram panchayats to monitor and supervise the working of school teachers and doctors in the rural areas. A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the Cabinet Subcommittee on fiscal reforms held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, here yesterday.

A press note said that the committee took a serious view of the high rate of absenteeism among teachers and doctors in the rural areas as reported by the Vigilance Bureau after conducting surprise checks in a few blocks in the state.

The state government has decided to implement democratic decentralisation, as mandated by the 73rd and 74th Amendments to the Constitution, by delegating adequate powers to the municipalities and panchayati raj institutions so as to make them suitable entities of self-governance, the press note added.


SGPC to discuss Bhaniara issue report today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
The report of the fact-finding committee appointed by the SGPC chief on the Bhaniara issue will be discussed by the executive meeting of the SGPC tomorrow at Gurdwara Alamgir in Ludhiana.

The committee was set up by the former SGPC President, Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi, overruling the official committee constituted by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The committee included Mr Ujagar Singh, Mr Kulwant Singh Tiwana and Dr Kharakh Singh took more than nine months to submit its report. Baba Bhaniara’s controversial granth had raised quite a storm, resulting in the burning of holy birs and his arrest. The executive would also discuss issues related to gurdwaras falling under Sections 87 and 85 and the education trust.


SGPC to set up research board
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
The SGPC yesterday decided to constitute a Sikh history research board after the gap of more than a decade. The President of the SGPC, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, has been authorised by the sub-committee to nominate its members to revive the research on Sikh history which had remained non-existent for many years.

In another significant move, the SGPC has also decided to constitute a religious advisory board with 21 members on its roll. The board will study all kinds of religious and social issues before being sent to Akal Takht.


Notice to PSEB
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 25
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Additional Civil Judge, Senior Division, Kharar, has issued notice to the Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), and the SDO, Bhagomajra, for June 12 in a suit filed by Mr Baljinder Singh of nearby village Dharak Kalan. The suit was filed under public interest litigation for restraining the defendants from releasing 24-hour electricity supply to any village or city till the release of 24-hour power supply to the plaintiff and for mandatory injunction directing the defendants to release 24-hour electricity supply to the plaintiff’s village, Dharak Kalan.

He pleaded that the village deposited Rs 10,000 under the 24-hour electricity supply scheme on July 1, 1997. The defendant had released 24-hour supply to some villages.


Father, son killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 25
In a tragic incident, a father-son duo died as a Tata Sumo they were travelling in collided with a truck near Adampur-Doaba township today.

Victims have been identified as Pakhar Singh (60) and his 26-year-old son Sawaraj Singh, both residents of Dhingrian village near Adampur.


Ownership no basis for farmers’ relief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Mr S.S. Puri, Deputy Commissioner, has announced that compensation will be paid to farmers of border villages, regardless of the fact who the owner of the land is.

The plight of genuine farmers who might be denied compensation due to the fact that revenue records may have been manipulated” was highlighted by The Tribune in its April 13 and April 16 issues. The DC informed that the first instalment of Rs 15 crore was distributed at Bagarhian village on the Indo-Pak border here today.

An amount of Rs 33 crore had been demanded by the Central Government for providing relief to farmers whose crops were affected by the Army movement.

The cheques were presented before the village panchayat and Army personnel. The identity cards issued by the BSF to border farmers whose fields lay beyond the fence was the sole documentary proof of the genuine farmers’ ownership.

As many as 43 farmers were compensated for their 83 acres of land while cheques for Rs 5.36 lakh were distributed to them. The compensation was made at the rate of Rs 10,000 to Rs 12,000 per acre.

Similarly, tehsildars and naib tehsildars will distribute compensation in their respective areas.

In addition to this details of losses suffered due to the recent fire are being assessed and the administration would procure compensation for it.


Change cropping pattern, farmers told
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 25
Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, while inaugurating a state-level function organised by the National Horticultural Research Department at Hodla Kalan village in the district today stressed upon the need for changing the cropping pattern and asked farmers to grow vegetables, fruits and flowers instead of the traditional crops of wheat, paddy and cotton. He said the production of these crops had reached a saturation point and it would not be possible for the government to pay subsidies on wheat and paddy.

He said under the WTO agreement, the wheat was available at cheaper rates in other countries as compared to Punjab. Necessary technical know-how would be provided to the farmers for growing vegetables, fruits and flowers, he added.

Speaking on the occasion Dr Jagtar Singh Mann, Director, Punjab Horticultural Research Department, said proposal to set up industrial units for manufacturing oil from chillies in the state was on the avail. He said in Punjab 8,000 hectares was under the cultivation of chillies, 1,200 hectares under garlic and 6,000 hectares under onions.

Mr Mann further said export zones would be set up in Sirhind and Sangrur districts of Punjab for exporting the vegetables produced by the Punjab farmers. He urged the farmers not to purchase saplings from substandard nurseries and asked them to procure the same from approved ones only.

Among others who addressed the farmers were Dr K.K. Gupta, Joint Director, National Horticultural Research Department, Karnal, Dr Palwinder Singh Aulakh, Chief Agriculture Officer, Mansa and Dr Manmohan Singh Sandhu, Deputy Director, Punjab Horticultural Research Department.


Licences of six arhtiyas suspended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Deputy Commissioner S.S. Puri has suspended the licences of six arhtiyas and issued show cause notice to nine in the district. He said the district had achieved more than 50 per cent of the target during the past 20 days of the procurement operation. He said over 5.60 lakh metric tonnes had been bought by the government agencies.

He added with the movement of wheat to various destinations, there was no problem of storage in the godowns of state and Central Government agencies. He said the entire process of procurement would be completed within the next 15 days.


DC’s order on public durbars
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 25
All Sub-Division Magistrates of the district have been directed to hold public durbars along with other Sub-Divisional Officers twice a month to redress the grievances of the public at the grassroots level and have been asked to fix permanent days for this purpose, said Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over the meeting of District Grievances Committee here today.

He said it would help to solve the problems of the people at their doorsteps instead of coming to the district headquarter to redress their problems. This would not only save their money, time and energy but also save the time of the officials. Moreover, most of the problems relate to the sub-divisional level. He said if any problem is not solved at the sub-divisional level, the same would be considered at the district-level public durbars, which would hold once in a month. He clarified that any person can approach the district headquarter officials any time, if he is not satisfied with the performance at the sub-divisional level. He said that the district officials have also been directed to solve the problems of the people on a priority basis and to ensure their presence in their respective offices.


Stir threat by MC staff
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 25
Employees of all state municipal committees (MC) will observe a strike on May 7 if their demands, including monthly payment of salaries and deposit of provident fund, are not accepted.

This was stated by Mr Ramesh Gupta, member of the Joint Action Committee of the employees, here yesterday.

He said a meeting would be held on May 9 here to chalk out further course of action.

Employees of the municipal committees of Sri Hargobindpur Qadian, Dera Baba Nanak and Dhariwal are already on strike due to the non-payment of salaries for the past more than five months.

Mr Gupta said arrears of provident fund of the employees due to municipalities of Pathankot, Batala and Gurdaspur remained to be deposited.

Arrears of other municipalities in the district was to the tune of more than Rs 20 lakh per municipality, he said.


Pandey, Izhar Alam made ADGPs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Mr A. P. Pandey, who has been supervising Punjab Public Service Commission chief Ravi Sidhu’s case, is among two officers of the 1974 batch who have been promoted Additional Director-General of Police.

The Punjab Government ordered the promotion of both Mr Mohd Izhar Alam and Mr Pandey as ADGPs. They have been given higher positions in the organisations in which they are at present working.

While Mr Izhar Alam becomes the ADGP, Prisons, Mr Pandey will be the ADGP-cum-Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau.

With these two promotions, the number of ADGPs has gone up to 17. Punjab has four DGPs also.


2 police districts to be merged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
The two new police districts of Tarn Taran and Majitha out of Amritsar district and Batala out of Gurdaspur, in the wake of terrorist activities in the 80's, are likely to be merged with the original districts, according to a report prepared by the Chief Secretary on the advice of the Chief Minister. The axe will fall on the police districts carved out for better policing in the hotbed of militancy in the border districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur.

Presently the Army have been deployed in strength along the border in view of the terrorist attack on Parliament on December 13 and all borders have been sealed effectively to foil any attempt by Pakistan to sneak terrorists and arms across the border.

A senior police officer, on condition of anonymity disagreed with the dismantling of new police districts and felt that the government must debate the issue keeping in view the sensitive nature of the law and order peculiar to this border belt. He added that such a move might demoralise the force which had rendered yeomen service to check the menace of militancy during its peak.


Sangrur MC staff strike ends
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 25
On the intervention of Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, all employees, including 135 safai sewaks, of the local Municipal Council, here today ended their 18-day-old strike.

These employees were observing strike from April 8 in protest against the non-payment of their salaries for the month of March and non-depositing of Rs 40 lakh PF into their provident fund accounts by the council authorities.

A decision to end the strike was taken as a meeting organised today. It was attended by Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Neelkanth Avhad, SDM, Sangrur, and representatives of the Joint Municipal Employees’ Struggle Committee.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said today that the employees had been given an assurance that no development work in the town would be executed till the payment of arrears of their PF. He also ordered an inquiry to know under what circumstances the Municipal Council authorities utilised the PF amount of the employees. The inquiry would also ascertain whether the PF amount had been spent on development works or elsewhere as had been alleged by the employees.

The Deputy Commissioner also said a loan would be arranged from the bank for the Municipal Council to disburse wheat loan amongst the eligible employees. With regard to payment of salaries, he had been told that funds to pay the salaries would be released by the government soon. Accordingly, the salaries would be paid to the employees, he added. 


Advocates resent appointment as Law Officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
A number of advocates appointed as Law Officers by the Punjab’s Department of Home Affairs and Justice today expressed dissatisfaction over the move to appoint them on posts they considered were “below their level”.

Describing as “humiliating” the decision to appoint him a Deputy Advocate General, Mr Sanjay Majithia asserted that the order was passed without taking his consent. Ms Nirmaljit Kaur has also refused to join as Assistant Advocate General. 


SAD leader’s murder: prime suspect arrested
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 25
The police has arrested Nahar Singh, one of the prime suspect involved in the murder of Teja Singh Toofan, senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader and husband of Darshan Kaur Toofan, member of the SGPC, which took place on the evening of April 17 in the city.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, said the main suspect, Nahar Singh had confessed during interrogation that he along with two other suspected persons namely Saudagar Singh and Nazam Singh had murdered Teja Singh due to personal enmity.

Teja Singh, a renowned ballad singer, was attacked with a sharp-edged weapon when he was returning to his house along with his wife on a scooter after making some shopping in the market. One of the suspected persons gagged Teja Singh while another stabbed him with a knife on the upper part of abdomen killing him on the spot.

Darshan Kaur alleged that after killing her husband all three suspected persons fled away from the scene and she brought her husband to Civil Hospital. She pointed out that about a year ago Nahar Singh had fired at her husband and a case in the same connection was pending in the court while he was granted bail. She added that one of the suspected persons also attacked her son Gurdeep Singh once.

Mr Ishwar Singh said various police parties had been sent to nab the remaining two suspected persons. A case under Sections 302 and 34 had already been registered against the three in the city police station.


SI arrested on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 25
The district police has arrested the in-charge of the Shankar village police post and a head constable on the charge of accepting bribe.

In a press note issued here today, the SSP said Sub Inspector Kashmira Singh had seized a bag of poppy husk from Krishna of the village about two-and-a-half months ago. Kashmira Singh, in connivance with Head Constable Sulakhan Singh and Amrik Singh, settled a deal for Rs 8,000 for non-registration of a case against the accused.

The matter was reported to the senior police authorities and it was found that these police officials were involved. Though Sub Inspector Kashmira Singh and Head Constable Sulakhan Singh were arrested yesterday, Amrik Singh was still at large. A case has been registered.


12-yr jail term for woman
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, April 25
Baljinder Kaur, a resident of Bambhaura village, Sangrur, has been sentenced to 12-year rigorous imprisonment under the NDPS Act. Ten kilogram opium had been recovered from her possession.

Delivering the verdict, Mr G.R. Banyal, Additional Sessions Judge, Ludhiana, held that “the guilt of accused stands proved beyond any doubt. Hence, she deserves no leniency”. Accused was booked under Section 18 of the NDPS Act on November 9, 1996 at Police Station Sadar, Ludhiana.

According to prosecution, police party was performing special checking operation at GT Road, near Threskay village under the supervision of Mr Karnail Singh, In charge anti-gunda staff. Accused was crossing the GT Road, but when she saw the police party, she tried to escape but was intercepted. Later on DSP - Gurjit Singh was called there and in his presence 10 kg opium was recovered from the bag of Baljinder Kaur.

Though accused pleaded not guilty and claimed false implication. But finding credible evidence against her, she was sentenced.


Bid to commit robbery, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 25
The district police has foiled the plan to rob an industrialist of the town, Mr Ravinder Kumar, by arresting four members of the gang Darshan Singh, Manjit Singh, Hardev Singh and Dilbagh Singh before they could commit the crime.

A police party led by Mr Tehal Singh, in charge, CIA staff, Moga, raided a place and arrested the four near Dargah Baba Peer. One of their accomplices managed to escape. Mr Varinder Kumar, district police chief, in a press note issued here today, said the accused had made plans to commit robberies in other parts of the district.

Darshan Singh also confessed that he had stolen a truck from near the canal in Ropar district and sold off the same to Binder of Tilak Nagar, New Delhi. He also confessed that they had stolen three scooters from SAS Nagar. During interrogation Dilbagh Singh confessed that he along with his brother and others were making plan to rob Mr Ravinder Kumar, businessman. Dilbagh Singh had been working as a driver of Mr Ravinder Kumar for the past six years.

The SSP said three pistols of .12 bore, six cartridges and one knife were recovered from them. Two cases under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC and under Section 25 of the Arms Act had been registered.


Clean Patiala campaign
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Students of Our Lady of Fatima Convent school launched a “clean Patiala campaign” in a unique manner with the students and staff members taking out an impressive procession carrying placards with the slogan of “Do not use polythene”.

The procession, which was led by the principal of the school, Sister Annet, started from the school premises to Leela Bhavan market.

The school management has chalked out an elaborate programme for the entire week in which various messages pertaining to keeping the environment clean and pollution-free will be given.


Punjabi University’s April 29 exam rescheduled
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has decided to give a call to boycott examinations on April 29 in colleges in six districts under the jurisdiction of Punjabi University, on of Guru Nanak Dev University and Panjab University on April 24 and 26, respectively, to protest against the alleged silence of the state government towards its commitments made during the recent elections.

Meanwhile, Controller of Examinations Parmjeet Singh Khera of Punjabi University has rescheduled the examination to be held on April 29. The examination will be held on May 12.


3 more qualify for talent hunt contest
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 25
Pepsi today announced the names of three more semi-finalists for the “Pepsi Banjaa Staara Yaraa Contest”.

Nine-year-old Kanak Joshi, 25-year-old Sewa Singh and 28-year-old Sukhdev Sagar emerged winners in the second quarterfinal. In a live concert held at the Guru Nanak College Ground here, six quarterfinalists performed in front of about 10,000 persons.

The contestants were judged by well-known singers Gursevak Mann and Paramveer Singh, music director Atul Sharma, Vice-President ETC Channel (Punjabi) Sam Mall and journalist Sushil Khanna.

Paramveer also enthralled the audience with a live performance.

The remaining two quarterfinals will be held at Roshan Grounds, Hoshiarpur, on April 26 and Sun City, Amritsar, on April 28.

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