Thursday, May 16, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



40 lecturers held for giving tuitions
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
In a major crackdown on the menace of private tuitions, the Punjab Vigilance Department today arrested at least 40 college teachers from all over the state for running tuition centres.

These arrests were made following a series of simultaneous Vigilance raids carried out at more than 45 places in all major cities of the state early this morning.

While most of these teachers have been sent to 14 days of judicial remand, many of them are still being held up in various police stations in the state and will be presented before Judicial Magistrates tomorrow.

Teachers from both government and private colleges of the cities have been arrested. Most of these teachers are senior lecturers in science and also include a Vice-Principal of a college. Teachers from engineering colleges too have been picked up.

Sources said the raids were carried out at 6.30 a.m. and most of these teachers were caught while teaching students at these centres. Many of these centres were running in the residences of these teachers. These teachers have been booked under Sections 168, 13(B), and 13 (D) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

Reacting to these raids, the state President of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), Mr K. B. S. Sodhi, stated that although the PCCTU was against the evil of tuitions, the step of the Punjab Government in this regard had been too harsh and unexpected. ‘‘We had been given time till May 23 to inform about these teachers but all this has happened today without giving any warning to these teachers. They were simply rounded up from their homes or wherever they were giving tuitions. Even the PCCTU was not consulted before the step was taken’’, he said.

The PCCTU leaders will be meeting the state Minister for Education, Mr Kushal Behl, day after tomorrow to discuss the matter. ‘‘We have been asking for a meeting with the government on this issue but were not granted any meeting till now, ’’ Mr Sodhi said.

According to reports received, four teachers have been arrested from Ludhiana. These are Mr S. Ahuja, Mr Jagmohan Singh, Mr Baldev Singh and Dr Mohan Singh. One of these teachers is working in the local engineering college.

Five teachers have been arrested from Jalandhar. Mr J.S. Randhawa, the PCCTU general secretary who was sitting with the four arrested teachers in Jalandhar in the police station, lamented that the teachers booked in the city were not presented before the magistrate today by the police and now they would be spending the night in police custody.

According to sources, Ms Manju Anand, who teaches biology at the Thapar Engineering College, Patiala, has been arrested.

Varinder Walia adds from Amritsar: Prof Kewal Krishan Gupta, Vice-Principal of the local DAV college, was among the four teachers booked for running private tuition centres. The college Principal, Mr M.L. Airee, admitted that he had received a letter from the state government in which the help of principals was sought to check the menace of tuitions. Here the Vigilance team was led by Mr Tejinder Paul Singh, who conducted a series of raids at 16 places early this morning. The other teachers who were booked from Amritsar are Mr Vimal Kumar, Mr Rajinder Bhatia and Dr S.P.S. Sadana.

It may be mentioned that the state government had directed the principals of aided colleges to ensure that no teachers of the institutes concerned indulged in private tuitions. The state had also directed them to supply complete information about teachers who indulged in tuition work by May 23.


Govt lecturers held giving tuitions
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Three lecturers of science and maths of the local Rajindra Government College were caught red-handed during raids by teams of the Vigilance Bureau (VB) here today while they were giving tuitions at their residential premises.

The arrested included Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Satvir Singh and Mr Amolak Singh Sekhon. However, the teams could not arrest four other lecturers of the college as they have either shifted their place of tuition classes or temporarily closed the business.

Over the past one decade, the tuition business in the town has taken the shape of a full-fledged industry. Government lecturers have been minting money like any thing and have accumulated huge assets. Some of the lecturers force students to get private tuition from them.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that though the tuition business had been going on for the past one decade, the income tax authorities had failed to take action against the persons engaged in this business who had been evading tax.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), while talking to TNS said raids were conducted on the basis of repeated complaints from a section of society that government lecturers had been forcing the students to get private tuitions from them.

He added that about 200 students were found taking private tuitions from Mr Harbhajan Singh, Mr Satvir Singh and Mr Amolak Singh Sekhon when the vigilance bureau teams raided their premises.

The teams were accompanied by a civil gazetted official and raids were conducted with the permission of the District Magistrate. Statements of students had been recorded. The bureau would also write to the Income Tax Department to make arrangements to probe the assets of the lecturers accumulated during the past few years.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act and Sections 168 of the IPC has been registered.

Meanwhile, a major section of lecturers and school teachers, who have been giving tuitions have fled their dwellings while some of them have hired private persons to carry on their business.


Dhira in court remand till May 29
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 15
Mr A. S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, today extended the judicial remand of Randhir Singh Gill, alias Dhira, an alleged right-hand man of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, Chairman Punjab Public Service Commission, and Prem Sagar, another accomplice of Sidhu, till May 29 in the PPSC recruitment scam.

In another case related to the junior engineers’ recruitment scam in the Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Department, Mr Kathuria extended the judicial production warrants for May 29 for Chief Engineer Baldev Singh, another accused, who was not produced in the court today as he is admitted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.


Govt will not last long, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 15
Former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today alleged that there was no law and order in Punjab, in general, and in Jalandhar, in particular.

Mr Badal said the present government would not last beyond five months as resentment prevails among Congress MLAs and ministers, who were being ignored at the cost of bureaucrats.

Mr Badal, who was addressing his first public at rally the local Grain Market after his party lost to the Congress in the recent Assembly elections, said lawlessness prevailed in Punjab, particularly in Jalandhar.

Referring to a report published in The Tribune “Jalandhar haven for criminals”, on May 13, Mr Badal said fear had gripped the residents of the city following the increasing crime rate and the failure of the police to deal with it. “You see, hardly any day passes when there is no dacoity, abduction, rape or murder in your city. Criminals and rogues are roaming free here without any fear of police machinery. Almost same is the situation elsewhere in the state,” alleged Mr Badal adding that members of his party were being implicated in false cases.

Mr Badal, however, said his party endorsed the decision of the present government to not to send commandos of the Punjab police to Gujarat.

Mr Badal said the present government would not last long as bureaucracy dominated it which was causing resentment among the Congress rank and file. He also lashed out at the electronic media for portraying an “incorrect” picture of the Congress, which had been partly responsible for the defeat of the SAD-BJP. “You see, it was a matter of tilt of only 1.5 per cent votes in favour of the Congress, even then we honour the verdict given by the people,” he said adding that one of biggest reasons for the SAD-BJP poll debacle was his inability to campaign properly due to his injury.

Mr Badal alleged that his party was being defamed in the name of corruption by the present government. He said the government had failed to initiate development works in the state.

Mr Badal alleged that the Congress government would effect a hike in power tariff and was planning new taxes, which was why it was holding civic body elections.


Kohli backing SAD nominees in MC poll 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
In a surprise move, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra’s firm loyalist and former minister Surjit Singh Kohli has distanced himself from his mentor’s party and is busy campaigning for Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) candidates for the Municipal Corporation election.

Mr Kohli had earlier refused to contest the Assembly election on the Panthic Morcha ticket even though he was the sitting legislator from the Patiala town constituency. He had also kept away from campaigning for the Panthic Morcha candidate.

Instead of helping candidates put up by his party — the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal — which had contested the last elections as part of the Panthic Morcha, Mr Kohli is supporting a group called the Patiala Vikas Board which consists of his loyalists. The group has managed to get eight tickets under an arrangement with the Akali-BJP combine.

Besides campaigning for candidates of the board, Mr Kohli is also campaigning for the Badal Dal candidates and is frequently seen at functions organised by them. He is not working for the candidates aligned with his party, who are presently contesting corporation elections as Independents as Mr Kohli has deserted them in favour of the candidates of the board.

Mr Kohli, when questioned, said he was campaigning for candidates of the board which was headed by Mr Surjit Mehta. He said all board candidates had taken their own symbols following an understanding with the Akali-BJP combine. However, on campaigning for an Akali candidate at Karah Wala Chowk and at some other places recently, he said it was sometimes done in a joint manner because the board had an understanding with the Akali-BJP combine.

Sources said new alignments were taking place in the local Akali unit with Mr Kohli also accompanying Samana Akali Dal legislator at some places. They said this was happening despite the fact that some Tohra loyalists were fighting the corporation election as Independents which included Mr Joginder Singh Chhanga and a former police officer, Mr Ajit Singh Kooner who was being promoted by a former MP and Tohra loyalist, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra.

They said besides Mr Chandumajra who was doing selective campaigning, former legislator and Tohra loyalist Jagtar Singh Rajla was campaigning for some candidates who were fighting the election from Tripri township which formed a part of Samana township.

The sources said the reasons for Mr Kohli’ s action were twofold. He wanted to remain politically active. That is why he had formed his own group which was contesting on eight seats and could indulge in some bargaining if a majority got through. They said Mr Kohli knew that the candidates would find it difficult to win if they fought only on the Tohra ticket due to which he had entered into an adjustment with the Akali-BJP group. They said Mr Kohli might ditch his mentor and return to the Badal Dal because the Shiromani Akali Dal still lacked a popular leader who could take on the Congress in this prestigious constituency.


Ahluwalia furnishes bail bonds
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
Former Punjabi University Vice- Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia today furnished bail bonds for Rs 15,000 in the court of District and Sessions Judge S N Aggarwal on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Sessions Judge fixed the next date of hearing for June 6 in the court of Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Sanjiv Berri.

The High Court had directed on May 10 that the bail of the former Vice-Chancellor would continue till the statement of Saru Rana, who was a complainant in the case, was recorded. It had been decreed that the bail order would come to an end as soon as Saru’s statement was recorded. Saru had alleged that Dr Ahluwalia attempted to rape her. Accordingly, a case under Sections 376 and 511 was registered against him.

The former Vice-Chancellor had earlier filed an application in the High Court, saying he should be released on bail in the event of his arrest besides contended that he had been implicated in the case.


Punjab Budget session from June 12 likely
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
The Budget session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha is likely to start from June 12. This was stated here today by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. There would be no expansion of the Council of Ministers and reports pertaining to it were baseless, he added.

When asked who would be the Congress candidate to fill the slot in the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, he said a decision in this connection would be taken by Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee.

When asked about the prolonged power cuts the rural areas, Capt Amarinder Singh said the PSEB was in the red. A sum of Rs 740 crore was required to cope with the peak power demand from June 1 to September-end.

He said farmers would get assured power supply for 10 hours daily from June 1. The facility of free power to small farmers would continue, he added.


Amarinder cancels unity rally
Change in nominees upsets Congress men
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, May 15
Even as four days are left for polling and only a day more for electioneering, the sudden change in Congress candidates from three wards — 48,37 and 27 — has created confusion in the party rank and file.

The situation has become murkier with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who was reportedly, trying to checkmate Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, last-minute induction of 14 candidates from the Om Parkash Soni (Independent MLA) camp just hours before the nomination deadline, has cancelled his proposed rally tomorrow.

Ironically, the rally to be addressed by the Chief Minister was to forge unity between the warring factions. The proposed meeting of Congress candidates to chalk out a programme for the rally too was cancelled today following the announcement by the Chief Minister, Mr Surinder Arjun DCC general secretary, said.

Mr Arjun has issued notices to all those Congress party members who have filed their papers as Independents to withdraw in favour of the official Congress candidates, failing which disciplinary action could be initiated against them, including expulsion.

More than 40 Congress members are contesting as Independents following denial of ticket to them even as Mr Raminder Singh Bularia, former general secretary, Congress, announced support for Independent candidate Ramesh Kumar from Ward 27.

The sudden change in candidates announced by the AICC general secretary, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, has sent contradictory signals to the party rank and file and to the public. Reacting to the change, Mr Om Parkash Soni said these decisions could not be taken by the party by ignoring the rules and regulations that governed the election procedure.

Perturbed over the developments in which three of his confidants were replaced after being given authority letters and being allotted party symbol for the election on May 19, Mr Soni said elections were not a child’s play and all parties had to abide by the election Act.

Prof Dalbari Lal, MLA, said: “This was the first instance in his political career of 50 years that such an announcement had been made after the nominations had been filed, accepted and party symbols allotted to candidates.”

The DCC too is disturbed over the announcement though no formal intimation has been received by it.

Mr Arjun said the change in candidates when the elections were just a few days away was impractical and unfeasible. However, Dr Raj Kumar, Congress MLA, said he had spoken to Ms Kidwai in Delhi and read the news of replacements today. He said the party decisions would be abided by.

Meanwhile, the Congress which is sailing on the anti-incumbency wave and encashing on the anti-corruption drive undertaken by Capt Amarinder Singh is facing rough weather both in its rank and file and the public by giving confusing signals of party representatives. The disunity has not gone well with the public and the BJP-SAD alliance has got a new issue.

All three candidates who have been replaced were seen canvassing in their wards today.

The district administration has announced dry days on May 17 and May 18 and banned the carrying of firearms until May 22.

Mr Dharmvir Sareen, a confidant of Mr Soni, today claimed that he was still the official candidate of the Congress for Ward No 48 and had not been replaced by the party high command as reported in a section of the Press.

However, senior Congress leader claimed that at least three candidates belonging to the Soni group had been replaced at the behest of the high command.


Rebels may affect Cong chances
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
The Congress seems to be up against its own party men in the race for controlling the local Municipal Corporation with dissidents threatening to affect the chances of party candidates in about 12 constituencies.

Congress men, who had been hoping to cash in on the popularity generated for the party following the Assembly elections with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, winning with a record margin from the city, filed their nominations as independent candidates when many former corporators were denied seats in favour of new leaders picked by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur.

More than the Akali-BJP combine, it is these dissident Congress workers who have been threatening the positions of official candidates in at least 12 of the 50 seats up for stake. Though the party is officially putting up a brave face saying it will easily win an absolute majority, it is trying to woo the dissident candidates to withdraw from the race or is now planning to concentrate on the seats where they are putting up a stiff challenge to party candidates.

Only seven of the earlier Congress corporators have managed to get seats this time. The earlier Municipal Committee was crowded with supporters of former minister Brahm Mohindra. But, this time Ms Preneet Kaur has chosen to give tickets to persons who had helped her in the Lok Sabha and recent Assembly elections.

This has resulted in some supporters of Mr Mohindra contesting the election or independent. Former president of the municipal committee Raj Kumar Malhotra and a party leader, Mr Krishan Dutt Bhola, are giving a difficult time to senior Congress leader Vishnu Sharma, who is also a candidate for the post of Mayor of the Municipal Corporation. Besides, other Brahm loyalists in the fray include Mr Hardeep Singh Deepa, Mr Ashwani Kumar Micky, Mr Gian Chand Channu and Mr Krishan Kumar Budhu.

Besides Brahm loyalists some office-bearers and Independents are also in the fray protesting against the unjust allocation of party tickets. These include Naveen Saronwala who is giving a tough contest to Congress candidate D.C. Sharma in Ward No. 44, Congress office-bearer Chaman Lal from Ward No. 12, Mr Ashwani Kapoor from Ward No. 23, Ms Raj Rani from Ward No. 28, Mahila Congress officer-bearer Neelam Bhandari from Ward No. 32 and Ms Amrawati from Ward No. 34.

Sources said Ms Preneet Kaur was making last-ditch attempts to make the dissidents toe the party line. They said the MP was also likely to hold rallies in wards where dissidents were contesting against Congress nominees adding that the party campaign could get a further fillip with Capt Amarinder Singh scheduled to address a public meeting at Anardana Chowk tomorrow.

Sources said SAD, which had been running a muted campaign earlier, could get a fillip if some of the dissidents were able to upset the official Congress candidates. SAD had cleverly associated former minister and Tohra loyalist Surjit Singh Kohli by giving his group eight seats even though he was still aligned with Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, they added.

The sources said, however, the Congress could still romp home comfortably because of the poor position of the BJP candidates. As of now, it seemed comfortable only in one seat being contested by Anil Kumar Bajaj. 


Bhagat Singh’s village sans potable water
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Khatkar Kalan (Nawanshahr), May 15
Crores of rupees might be involved in the making of three films on Shaheed Bhagat Singh and governments might have made promises of developing his village into a model village, but in reality people of this village are still awaiting basic amenities like potable water. Films on Bhagat Singh and repeated promises make little difference to the residents who feel they will have to approach politicians for the development of their village, like any other village of Punjab. They are also not hopeful of the promise made by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that the village would be converted into a “sundar gram”.

The villagers are still going without potable water for there is no overhead water tank. Despite repeated promises, nothing has been done by successive governments to ensure proper drainage of water from the three kutcha ponds in the village, causing havoc in low-lying areas, particularly during rains.

“We have to do with hand pumps since there is no water tank in the village” said Kala Singh, a resident. “The ponds are a nightmare for people living in the low-lying areas during rains,” he added.

Also, there are two unmanned railway crossings in the village.

The villagers have to go to Banga to take buses for Jalandhar, Chandigarh or Ludhiana as most of the buses do not stop here. “The problem has been aggravated after the bus stand was shifted near the statue of Bhagat Singh and at a considerable distance from the village. We have to walk to the local bus stand from where we take a three-wheeler to go to Banga for boarding buses for all important destinations,” said Surjit Singh, another resident.

Residents said though politicians had been making false promises, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had said he was not going to make any promise but would come to them only after doing something “concrete” for them, “Let us see, what happens,” said Balkar Singh.

“Actually, the politicians are only interested in votes and filmwallahs in money”, Surjit Singh said.


Dalits allege persecution by upper castes
Tribune News Service

Todarwal (Kapurthala), May 15
Nearly 30 Scheduled Caste families of this village have been facing persecution by upper caste residents of this village and adjoining villages for the past two months.

The Scheduled Caste families had raised voice against certain village level leaders belonging to upper class who allegedly were instrumental in the illegal clubbing of a piece of land belonging to the village primary school with the land belonging to the village gurdwara.

Upper class residents not only of this village, but also of adjoining villages have allegedly stopped even giving seasonal employment to men and women of Scheduled Castes families. It is interesting, the village panchayat is dominated by Scheduled Castes, but it has not been able to help the Scheduled Caste families. It could result in a clash in the villages. Nothing has been done by the district administration to reduce tension though panchayat had repeatedly complained to senior officials, including the DC and the SSP.

We have now approached the state human rights commission and also written to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court,” said sarpanch Shanti Devi. The village panchayat has two members belonging to upper class while three others including the sarpanch belong to the Scheduled Caste.

Our problems started when we started opposing an illegal move by some upper class leaders to club the land belonging to the “gurdwara and the primary school. “Since then, nobody speaks to us,” said Surjit Singh, another panchayat member. Primary School land had been vacant for quite some time, before it was merged with the gurdwara land by villagers, particularly, after the school was shifted to the new premises.

An alleged open announcement about the boycott by the upper class families using a loudspeaker was made. “Our people are not allowed even to go to fields to answer the call of nature. Our families have no work to do. The condition of our children is more pitiable since they are too confused to realise what had happened and suddenly they cannot roam about freely,” she alleged. Sarpanch Shanti Devi maintained that after the DC marked the complaint to BDPO Ranjit Singh, the latter instead of assessing situation did not visit the village but advised Scheduled Caste residents not to take “punga” with influential upper class people. She alleged that upper class residents of adjoining villages like Dariawal, Thatha and Sakhowal had also slapped a boycott against them at the behest of upper class members of Todarwal village. A section of upper class residents, denied the boycott of SC families. Sadha Singh and Gurnam Singh, two upper class members, maintained that Scheduled Castes had left the work on their own. “Actually, almost all of them had taken money in advance from us and now they don’t want to return it,” he asserted.


Languages Dept to house archival records
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 15
Archival records of as many as eight former princely states preserved in the crumbling Rajindra Palace here are being shifted to the state Languages Department as an emergency measure.

Minister of State for Tourism and Culture Ashwani Sekhri announced the decision after an inspection of the archives building which is housed in the old Rajindra Palace in the Baradari Gardens. The minister inspected the building along with department Director R. S. Randhawa and felt there was an urgent need to shift the record to another building. He ordered the implementation of the directions before the monsoons.

The archives building is in a precarious condition due to termite infestation in the wooden fixtures and rusting of roof girders. A part of the roof of the main hall had collapsed last year due to which the entire record stored in the hall had to be shifted to other rooms.

Mr Sekhri said the shifting of the records was likely to facilitate research scholars. He also directed that the record pertaining to former Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru’ s stay in the Nabha jail be displayed appropriately.

Mr Randhawa stated that the archival record preserved in the state archives belonged to the former princely states of Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Kapurthala, Faridkot, Nalagarh, Kalsi and Malerkotla. He said the record provided a study of Urdu, Persian and Punjabi works over 250 years and included various pieces of literature and administrative measures taken by the erstwhile rulers. He said there were eight lakh files and 30,000 books with rare maps and lithographs amongst the records.

Later, the minister also visited Quila Mubarak and Sheesh Mahal and showed concern as to why the previous government had not shown any initiative in conserving the quila, despite the fact that the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered in 1995 that it be restored in totality. He said despite this the SAD-BJP government had taken only superficial measures to conserve the quila.

Mr Sekhri said Patiala, Sirhind, Amritsar, Batala and Kapurthala could be promoted as tourism destinations from the religious and cultural angle.


Pak to release Sikh youths next month

Moga, May 15
The Pakistan Government, at the intervention of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PSGPC) and at the instance of the International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Yaadgari Society, has agreed to release all 13 Punjabi Sikh youths from Kot Lakhpat (Lahore) and Mach (Baluchistan) Jails.

These youths are expected to be released next month, on the eve of martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev, said the president of the society, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, today, following a telephonic message received from the PSGPC Chairman, Mr Sham Singh, yesterday. He said the Pakistan Government was awaiting a formal request from India, in this regard.

These youths, who had unauthorisedly entered Turkey, were sent to Iran several months ago. The Iranian authorities, however, had pushed them into Pakistan and since then they had been languishing in its jails.

Mr Bhullar said parents and families of these youths who had gathered here on May 13 made an appeal to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to take up the matter with the Pakistan Government to secure their release. The society, too, made similar appeal to Mr Vajpayee and the External Affairs Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, to secure the release of the youths by taking necessary steps as also to allow the Sikhs from Punjab to visit Pakistan to pay obeisance in gurdwaras of that country, especially the Dera Sahib on the martyrdom of Guru Arjan Dev. UNI


SGPC wants to send jatha to Afghanistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
In a significant development, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee yesterday sought permission from the Prime Minister to send its delegation to carry out ‘kar seva’ of historical Sikh shrines in the war-ravaged country destroyed due to the “indifferent” attitude of the Taliban. In a communication to Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, said the SGPC wanted to send a team of employees to Afghanistan so that a preliminary study of the damage caused to the gurdwaras could be conducted.

The letter of the SGPC chief reads: “There are several historical Sikh shrines in Afghanistan raised in the memory of Guru Nanak Dev who during his ‘udasis’ (religious journeys) sanctified the places with his pious touch. These shrines have partly been destroyed during the decade-long internal strife in the said country and the indifferent attitude of the Taliban.”


Kabul-Amritsar flight resumed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 15
The national carrier of Afghanistan, Ariana, will resume its biweekly flights from Kabul to the Rajasansi airport from Monday. The general sales agents of the airlines, A. Mr Ajit Mehra, said here today that the president of the company, Mr Jahed Azimi, will come here on the maiden flight from Kabul.

Mr Mehra said since Amritsar and Afghanistan had an economic bond for the past many centuries the local traders and exporters were quite enthusiastic about the resumption of the flight. Mr Mehra hoped that the government of Afghanistan and India would also encourage passenger flights on the route.


Carnage exposes Centre’s failure: Raj Babbar

Amritsar, May 15
Bollywood star and MP Raj Babbar said today that the Kaluchak carnage has exposed total failure of the intelligence agencies in the country.

Talking to the mediapersons here Raj Babbar said the intelligence failure had drifted the situation in the valley from bad to worse.

“With each passing day the number of innocent killings are swelling in the valley,” the Samajwadi party leader said.

He said farmers of border villages were in a pathetic condition as a result of wrong policies pursued by the government.

“Farmers are starving while the Central Government has slipped into a deep slumber after ordering the deployment of forces on the border”, he added.

The government is “totally unmindful” of the hardships faced by the Army personnel who are on their toes at the Rajasthan border battling the sweltering heat before the start of the actual battle with the enemy, Raj Babbar said, while claiming, “The deployment of Army on the borders is costing more than Rs 100 crore daily, which is severely telling upon the economic health of the country”. PTI


Poll panel to probe Manpreet’s complaint
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
On a complaint by the Akali MLA, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, has deputed Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu to visit Gidderbaha tomorrow for verification of the allegation that Akali supporters are not being registered as voters by the district administration.

Mr Badal had met Mr Bains this morning and submitted a written representation stating how arm-twisting tactics were being employed to ‘’strangulate democracy’’ at the grassroots in view of the coming elections to panchayati raj institutions.

It was alleged that on an average 150 votes were being deleted per village in all 50 villages in the Gidderbaha constituency. Writing with full ‘’responsibility’’ as MLA, the letter to the commission spoke of denial of the voters’ rights to help the Congress win the elections. The modus operandi employed included destroying of the electoral rolls.

The sufferers were weaker sections as well, who always voted for the Akali Dal. Mr Badal cautioned that if correctives were not applied, there might be social upheaval.

Mr Badal had made a similar complaint to the Governor and the Chief Minister.


Judicial remand of CE, DDPO extended

Chandigarh, May 15
Ropar Special Magistrate A. S. Kathuria today extended the judicial remand of District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) Kuldeep Singh, the accused in the illegal recruitments in the Rural Development Department, till May 29.

The court also issued production warrants for Chief Engineer Baldev Singh, the accomplice of Kuldeep Singh in the case, as he was not produced in the court today by the Patiala Central Jail authorities.

The prison authorities stated in the court that Baldev Singh had been hospitalised for treatment and, thus, could not be brought to the court.

Both senior officials had been arrested last month by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on the charges of illegal recruitments in the state’s Rural Development Department. UNI


22 poor girls married off
Tribune News Service

Tapa, May 15
A construction company solemnised the marriages of 22 couples belonging to the weaker section of society today. Several residents came to the banquet hall to bless the couples. Some persons contributed household items while others gave cash gifts to the couples.

The brides and bridegrooms, wearing traditional wedding attire, were given a rousing welcome by Mr Yash Pal, owner of the company and Congress leaders Prem Bhut, Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, Darshan Ghuda, Pardeep Kumar and Anil Bhola.

Each couple was given wooden and steel furniture, beddings, silver and gold jewellery items, wrist watches, fans and irons, besides machines and utensils. Mr Yash Pal said others should come forward and help the poor.


Panchayat samiti poll on June 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Elections to panchayat samitis and zila parishads in Punjab will be held on June 30, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, announced here today. She said that a notification in this regard had already been issued.


AIDS awareness programme expanded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 15
Umeed Khanna Foundation has increased the reach of its HIV/AIDS target intervention and awareness generation programme from the truckers to migrant labour in Sangrur district.

The project was launched today by Mr Arvind Khanna, MLA and Foundation Chairman. The project is funded by the Punjab Aids Control Society and commences with a detailed needs-based assessment survey of the area.


Youth killed in road mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 15
A youth was killed near the Fauji chowk today on the Bathinda-Goniana road in the city in a mishap.

The identity of the youth could not be ascertained. The body was handed over to an NGO, Sahara after a post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, a scooterist was injured when he was hit by iron chains put up at the entrance of the local Dhobi Bazar. He was taken to the Civil Hospital by an NGO. He was referred to a hospital at Ludhiana as his condition was stated to be critical. The injured has been identified as Bal Krishan, a resident of the city. Eye witnesses said the mishap occurred as no reflectors were put up on the chains.


Wheat arrivals dwindle
Procurement target may not be achieved
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, May 15
The wheat procurement target of 1.20 crore tonnes set by the FCI and other agencies may not be achieved this year as only of 97.5 lakh tonnes of wheat has been procured in the state so far.

The state Agriculture Department had predicted marketable surplus of 1.20 crore tonnes of wheat this year against the procurement of 1.10 crore tonnes last year.

Officials of the Food Supplies Department estimate that procurement will not be more than 1 crore tonnes as the daily arrivals in the mandis have dwindled to about 25,000 tonnes. They do not even expect the arrivals to last beyond the current week.

The officials feel that there was a fall in the yield of wheat this year as compared to last year. According to the assessment of the officials, the yield of wheat per acre was between 18 quintals to 20 quintals per acre this year against 22 to 24 quintals last year.

Because of the untimely rain last year, the grain of wheat had become luster less and the officials feel that the germination of the same seed this year had resulted in low yields.

However, officials of the Agriculture Department do not agree with the assessment of the Food Supplies Department. They maintain that the quality of the grain has been good this year and even the cultivation area under wheat had also increased. Wheat production will not fall, they add.

According to Dr G.S. Nanda, Director Research, PAU, the final assessment of wheat yield is yet to be made.

The officials of the Food Supply Department do not agree with the reports published in columns of certain newspapers that farmers might have held back their produce. They say there is no logic in such reports as the godown of Punjab are already full.

Meanwhile, the lifting of the procured wheat stocks had been going on smoothly at mandis. Though the movement of procured stocks of wheat and rice from Punjab has also been picking up for the past three months, huge stocks of wheat and rice are still lying in the godowns of the state.


GNDTP units to be modernised
Power Finance Corpn to raise 182 cr
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Even as the PSEB has cleared the renovation and modernisation work worth Rs 182 crore of two units of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), residents can get relief from ash rain being generated by four chimneys of the plant.

Various vital parts of the two units, including boilers, will be changed to bring down the emission level from chimneys, apart from reducing the consumption of coal by 15 per cent and auxiliary consumption by 4 per cent to 5 per cent. The emission level from the chimneys of the units would be reduced to 90 mg/NM against the prescribed limit of 150 mg/NM. Boiler leakage will become negligible and plant availability factor will increase considerably.

For the past several years, coal ash being emitted from the four chimneys of the plant, the oldest and the first in Punjab, has been raining in the city and its surrounding areas and has exposed the residents to health hazard.

While these two units of the GNDTP have outlived their life of 25 years, the other three units are about to.

Sources said after the project report prepared by the Central Power Research Institute (CPRI) in connection with the maintenance work was cleared by the Central Electricity Authority and the PSEB, a formal request had been made to the Power Finance Corporation (PFC) to raise Rs 182 crore.

The work would be carried out by the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and a Delhi based power service in joint venture. The work would start only if the PFC advanced the required amount.

This exercise will increase the life span of the GNDTP by over 15 years.

Mr S.C. Mahajan, Chief Engineer, GNDTP, said it would take two months to get the required money from the PFC. One month after the commissioning of unit number one, the joint venture would take up worth on the second unit and would complete the job in eight months.


6 Rly officials promoted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 15
The Northern Railway has promoted six Assistant Station Superintendents and Traffic Inspectors (Planning ), this railway sources said here today, that Station Superintendent, Phagwara, Ashok Kumar Mukerian, T.R. Mahajan (Sujanpur), Traffic Inspector Planning, Bimal Kumar were included in the list of Railway Officers who have been promoted and Bimal Kumar has been posted at Pathankot Railway station while remaining Railway Officers would remain posted at their present Railay Stations, Sources said A. S. M. Jalandhar Mr S. K. Ghosh has been promoted and posted Station Superintendent at Beas Railway station. 


PSEB staff strike today
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Even as members of various employee unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) have left no stone unturned for tomorrow’s state-level strike, the authorities concerned have taken security measures to prevent any untoward incident and keep the power supply in interrupted.

The PSEB has already implemented the “no work, no pay” principle and has warned that the services of any employee on an ad hoc or temporary basis, will be terminated if he participated in the strike.

Members of various unions have been on strike at the district level from time to time to press the authorities to implement their demands already accepted by the government, including payment for overtime and fresh recruitment.

Official sources said police personnel had been deployed at vital installations of the PSEB and engineers directed to be present to meet any emergency situation, including power failure.


HITEC post inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 15
Mr Raj Pal Meena, DIG, Punjab Police, Faridkot Range, today inaugurated the highway integrated traffic enforcement cell (HITEC) post on the Bathinda-Mansa road at Kotshamir village, 15 km from bere.

This is the fifth HITEC post in the district which has been set up to regulate the heavy traffic volume on the Bathinda-Mansa road. The post is equipped with an ambulance and first aid box. A police party will man it round-the-clock. A milk bar and STD-PCO has also been set up on its premises. The ambulances have been donated by the local Finance Companies Association.

In a press note issued here today the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, said the post had been constructed for the district police by Nambardar Dev Raj Carrier Private Limited.

Those who attended the function included Mr Sukhdev Singh Chahal and Mr Mansa Ram (all senior Congressmen) and DSP (R) Jagmohan Singh.


Woman killed in group clash
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, May 15
A woman was shot dead and seven others injured in a group clash at Badala village in the Ferozepore today.

According to details available from the police, the incident took place in Badala village falling under Mallanwala police station at 11 a.m.

A dispute over the ownership of proprietary rights of 90 acres of land is stated to be the cause of the clash.

The munshi of Mallanwala police station told TNS over the telephone that Naseeb Kaur was killed and seven others injured when a group of persons attacked their house by firearms.

Those injured have been identified as Mohar Singh, Jagjit Kaur, Suba Singh, Nachhatar Singh, Jarnail Singh, Karam Singh and Narain Singh.

The injured were rushed to Civil Hospital here, where the condition of one of the injured is stated to be serious.


Pension scam kingpin eludes arrest
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
The police has failed to arrest Surinder Kumar, kingpin in the Rs 29-crore pension scam, even after eight months.

According to sources, Surinder Kumar has succeeded in getting a passport and may flee to a foreign country anytime.

It may be mentioned here that the then Assistant Commissioner (Removal of Grievances), Dr Rishipal Singh, had submitted a comprehensive report to the state government which mentioned startling facts that even the unmarried girls were able to get ‘widow pension’.

Veteran CPI leader, Mr Satya Paul Dang, said the police failure to nab Surinder Kumar was a matter of great concern. He said the hard work done by Dr Rishipal Singh, activists of AITUC, the CPI and the Punjab Istri Sabha had helped expose the scam.

A list of 10 agents, headed by a panch, Surinder Kumar, who were getting old-age pensions sanctioned for bogus and ineligible persons for bribes shared by many was submitted to the Social Security Department. A case had been registered against Surinder Kumar at the Civil Lines police station here under the order of the then SSP.


SHO hit by car, hospitalised
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 15
Additional SHO, city police station, Sub-Inspector Ram Lubhaya, here was seriously injured last night after his scooter was hit by a car at Sugar Mill Chowk on the GT Road while he was on patrol duty. He had to be hospitalised. Pillion rider Head Constable Amrik Singh also received minor injuries. A white Maruti car was allegedly hit into the cop’s scooter. The car sped sway after the incident. The SHO today said he could not take down the number of the car nor the number of persons within it. A case under Sections 279 and 337 of the IPC has been registered.


SAD leader held
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 15
Mr Brij Lal Khairwa, vice-president of the sub-divisional unit of the SAD has been arrested by the Khuyiansarwer police in connection with a case registered on April 22 under Sections 325, 326, 307, 148, 149 of the IPC and 27/54/59 of the Arms Act.

Sources said Ajay Kumar son of Raja Ram of Panjkosi village had complained to the police in the emergency ward of the Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here that certain armed persons had attacked him when he was irrigating fields. He had identified the seven persons as Brij Lal Khairwa, Sahib Ram, Prem Kumar, Surender Kumar, Kishan Kumar, Sanjay Kumar and Manoj Kumar. 


Dang urges CM to take over college
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 15
Veteran CPI leader, Mr Satya Pal Dang, has alleged that certain senior professors of Shree Lakshmi Narain Ayurvedic College had used indecent remarks against girl students tantamount to outraging their modesty.

Mr Dang said following allegations by girl students and certain women lecturers of the college, the government should take over the college as the management had shown apathy to the state of affairs even as the agitation of students had entered the second month.

In a communication to the Chief Minister, Mr Dang said the officiating Principal and the Vice-Principal must be asked to proceed on leave immediately. The new admissions should take place only after setting up of a new management committee by the government. He said a deputation of students, mostly girls, had met him in this connection.

He said though the approval of the Vice-Principal was withdrawn by Guru Nanak Dev University in 1994 in connection with the Anita Kanda case but no action was taken by the management. 


Meritorious students honoured
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 15
The teachers should work hard and live a disciplined life so that students from the district follow their example and secure top positions in different examinations throughout Punjab and remove the stigma on the district being an educationally backward area.

This was stated by Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, at a function here today which was organised to honour students of the district, who had secured top positions in class VII examination throughout Punjab.

Nisha Garg, Tarun and Sukhchain, all from the district, got first, second and third positions, respectively, in Punjab in the said examinations, while Amandeep Kaur, also from the districts, obtained highest marks among the students of government schools. 


College to start M.A. Punjabi Class
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 15
Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar has granted permission to the R. K. Arya College for starting a post graduate Class in the subject of Punjabi from the coming academic session. Mr S. K. Sharma, Principal, stated this in a press note here yesterday.


DD Punjabi scores over other channels
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 15
“DD Punjabi” the Prasar Bharati’ city-based satellite channel has scored over other TV channels by cornering 19.5 per cent of the urban viewership of Chandigarh and adjoining areas.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Ashok Jailkhani, Director, Doordarshan Jalandhar, said a field survey conducted in the urban areas of Chandigarh and adjoining areas by the Audience Research Unit of the Doordarshan Kendra had revealed that viewers had a special liking for entertainment programmes such as serials, variety and music-based programmes and the “shabad kirtan”.

The figures revealed that while DD Punjabi attracted 19.5 viewers, each of other channels like Alpha, Etc Punjabi and Lashkara followed with about 16 per cent viewers.

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