Tuesday, May 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Race on for mayoral posts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
Accusations by both SAD and BJP of large-scale rigging of the municipal corporation elections held in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala yesterday notwithstanding, permutations and combinations have started for the election of Congress Mayors of these towns.

The elected Congress councillors will now elect not only mayoral candidates, but also candidates for the post of Senior Deputy Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

LUDHIANA: The Congress emerged victorious, albeit with a narrow margin, as the elections to the municipal corporation were marked by incidents of stray violence and severe infighting in the ranks of not only of the Congress but also the Akali-BJP alliance.

The Akalis threw up a surprise by winning 13 seats since it was being observed in the local political circles that the corruption charges against the party would have there fallout.

The following are the winners: Hem Raj Aggarwal (Cong), Amarjit Kaur (Cong), Rajiv Kumar (BJP), Madan Lal Bagga (Cong), Kashmir Kaur (Ind), Bhai Raj Singh (SAD), Chanchal Singh (Cong), Jagdish Kaur (Ind), Harjinder Singh (BJP), Kuldip Singh Janda (Cong), Asha Garg (Cong), Parshotam Verma (Ind), Ram Chander Yadav (Cong), Baljeet Kaur (SAD), Sardool Singh Grewal (Cong), Sunita Aggarwal (BJP), Ravinder Kaur (Cong), Nahar Singh Gill (Cong), Bhagwan Dass (Ind), Karamjit Kaur Garcha (SAD), Hakam Singh Giaspura (SAD), Surinder Kumar (IND), Sarbjeet Kaur Cheema (SAD), Simarjit Bains (Ind), Sohan Singh (Ind), Khushwant Kaur (SAD), Swaran Singh Maholi (SAD), Kulwinder Singh Taggar (Cong), Sunita Rani (Ind), Balbir Singh Mankoo (SAD), Rajinder Singh Bajwa (Cong), Devinder Kaur (SAD), Amarjit Singh Matharu (Cong), Harbhajan Singh Dang (SAD), Sukhwinder Kaur (Cong), Rajinder Singh Bhatia (SAD), Prem Mittal (Cong), Santosh Rani (Cong), Jaswinder Singh Bhola (SAD), Devinder Singh Bittu (SAD), Amrit Varsha (Cong), Satinder Singh Jawadi (Cong), Krishan Chhabra (Ind), Rajinder Kaur (SAD), Balkar Singh Sandhu (Cong), Surjit Singh Ahluwalia (Cong), Sukhchain Bassi (Cong), Bharat Bhushan Ashu (Cong), Rakesh Prashar (Cong), Sushil Gupta (Cong), Sanjay Talwar (Cong), Kailash Kapoor (Cong), Geeta Devi (BJP), Bhupinder Singh (Cong), Gurdeep Singh Neeta (BJP), Malkit Kaur (Cong), Parveen Bansal (BJP), Jasbir Singh (Cong), Anju Bagga (Cong), Kala Navkar Jain (Cong), Satpal Bedi (Cong), Shubh Malhotra (Cong), Satnam Ahuja (Ind), Sunita Sharma (BJP), Ms Sunita Luthra (BJP) , Sat Pal Puri (Cong), Hans Raj (Ind), Anuradha Nagar (BJP), Jai Parkash (Cong) and Sushil Thapar (Cong).

AMRITSAR: It is now Mr R. L. Bhatia group vs Mr Om Parkash Soni group as the newly elected Councillors get on to business of choosing their Mayoral candidate. Mr Soni’s group won 10 seats.

The following are the winners: R.C. Bhatia (Cong), Shama Sharma (Cong), Rakesh Gill (BJP), Dr Ajay Gupta (Cong), Manju Mehra (Cong), Sanjay Sharma (Cong), Mahesh Khanna (Cong), Saroj Khanna (BJP), Madan Lal Aneja (BJP), Prabdayal Mahajan (BJP), Parveen Dhami (Cong), Jarnail Singh (Cong), Kamal Nain Singh (Ind), Jatinder Kaur (Cong), Avtar Singh Truck (Ind), Ajit Singh (Ind), Rajbir Kaur (SAD), Sukhwinder (SAD), Ajay Bir Pal Singh (Ind), Balwinder Kaur (SAD), Gurvinder Singh Vicky (Ind), Amrik Singh (Ind), Harvinder Kaur (SAD), Baldev Singh (Ind), Tasvir Singh (Cong), Sunita (Ind), Vijay Kumar (CPI), Unis Kumar (Ind), Prem Lata (Cong), Parmod Kumar (Ind), Kashmiri Lal (Cong), Kashmir Kaur (SAD), Vinod Kumar (Ind), Rajpal Chadda (Cong), Shanti Devi (Cong), Sunil Datti (Cong), Sawinder Singh (Cong), Mamta Datti (Ind), Baljit Singh (Cong), Surinder Chaudhary (Ind), Usha Sharma (Cong), Shwait Mallik (BJP), Daljit Chhina (Cong), Sonia Sharma (Cong), Rajinder Bhalla (Cong), Ramesh Chander (BJP), Onkar Kaur (Cong), Ranjan Aggarwal (Ind), Yoginder Pal Dhingra (Cong), Prem Arjun (Cong), Ram Lal Sharma (Cong), Davinder Kant (Cong), Paramjit Kaur (Cong), Om Parkash Gabbar (Cong), Meena Bhatia (Cong), Sukhjit Kaur (Cong), Ajit Singh (Cong), Paramjit Rai (Cong), Manjit Kaur (Cong), and Jaspal Singh (SAD).

JALANDHAR: The Congress swept the elections here even as Independents managed to hold a good show.

The winners are: Des Raj Jassal (Ind:), Surinder Kumar (Cong), Gian Chand (Cong), Raj Kumar (Cong), Anjali Bhagat (Cong), Desh Deepak (Ind), Krishan Dev (BJP), Suman Malhotra (BJP), Dinesh Dhall (Cong), Tarsem Lal (Cong), Renu Sondhi (BJP), Bal Krishan Bali (Cong), Didar Singh (Cong), Madhu Rani (Ind), Om Parkash (Cong), Kamaljit Singh (SAD), Indira Dada (Cong), Gurpal Singh (SAD), Manohar Lal (Cong), Tarwinder Kaur (Cong), Sarwan Grover (Cong), Sardul Singh Kahlon (Ind), Anita Rani (Cong), Joginder Toni (Ind), Kuldip Singh (SAD), Uma Beri (Cong), Kuljit Babbi (Cong), Manjinder Singh Chatha (BJP), Ganga Devi (Ind), Arjan Singh (BJP), Pawan Kumar Gupta (Cong), Kamaljit Gullu (Cong), Ram Lal (Ind), Charan Dass (Ind), Surinder Kaur (Cong), Hans Raj Dhall (Cong), Narinder Kaur (Cong), Sardari Lal (Cong), Balbir Chand (Cong), Ekta (Cong), Swaran Singh (Cong), Joginder Kaur (Cong), Sudha Julka (Cong), Balraj Thakur (Ind), Darshan Singh (Cong), Usha (BJP), Jagdish Kumar Garg (Ind), Karmjit Singh Dipti (Ind) Bimla Rani (Cong), Gulwant Singh Vilayati, Mukand Lal (Ind), Shushma Gautam (Cong), Balbir Kumar (Ind), and Harkishan Singh Bawa (Cong).

PATIALA: The Congress swept the elections to bully its way to power in many of the wards. While the Congress was victorious in 37 out of 50 seats, independents got eight tickets and SAD five. The BJP drew a blank.

The winners are: Surjit Kaur (Ind), Rupinder Singh (Cong), Balwinder Pal (Cong), Sarita Gera (Cong), Shankar Lal (Ind), Gurjit Guri (Cong), Rajwinder Kaur (Cong), Tharu Ram (Ind), Surinder Pal Singh (SAD), Baljit Kumar Punia (Cong), Sukhdev Singh (SAD), Sukhwinder Pal Singh (Cong), Sukhwinder Kaur (Cong), Inderjit Singh (Cong), Pawan Kumar (Cong), Rama Rani (Cong), Rachpal Singh (SAD), Daljit Singh (Cong), Kamlesh Kumari (Cong), Surinder Kumar Modgil (Cong), Harish (Cong), Seema Sharma (Ind), Shiv Kumar (Cong), Vishnu Sharma (Cong), Jasbir Kaur (SAD), Krishan Chand (Ind), Sanjiv Kumar (Cong), Meena Sharma (Cong), Harvinder Singh (Cong), Narinder Lalli (Cong), Monica Grover (Cong), Raj Kumar (Cong), Budh Ram (Cong), Satosh Kumari (Cong), Narinder Singh (SAD), Anuj Trivedi (Cong), Suman (Cong), Narinder Kumar Niranjan Das (Cong), Leela Rani (Ind), Narinder Singh (Ind), Sohan Lal Jalota (Cong), Sharda Devi (Cong), D.C. Sharma (Cong), Sachdev Gautam (Cong), Rajni Sharma (Cong), Gopal Singla (Cong), Kabir Das (Cong), Amarbir Kaur (Cong) and Naresh (Cong).

With inputs from Amarjit Thind (Ludhiana) Rashmi Talwar (Amritsar) Jangveer Singh (Patiala) and Varinder Singh (Jalandhar).


Langah goes underground

Chandigarh, May 20
Former Akali minister Sucha Singh Langah has gone underground following a seven-day notice for his arrest in a case of corruption, cheating, fraud and accumulation of disproportionate assets registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau.

The bureau on May 18 had sent a seven-day notice to Mr Langah for his arrest as per the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Langah, who was the PWD minister in the Badal government, has been untraceable since the case was registered on May 16 at bureau’s Mohali police station. Police sources said raids were being conducted to nab the former minister.

“Besides Punjab, Mr Langah’s hide outs are in Delhi as well,” a senior official of the state intelligence said.

The bureau has arrested four persons in the case so far. They include Mr Langah’s close associate Amrik Singh, a municipal councillor from Mohali town, adjoining the city. His residence was searched today by the bureau officials with the permission of a Kharar court.

The bureau has seized several incriminating documents during the search. Mr Amrik Singh, who was arrested from his Mohali residence on May 19, is in police custody till tomorrow.

The other three arrested accomplices of Mr Langah are his personal secretary Harjinder Singh and two close relatives Ajit Singh and Jagir Singh. UNI


Crop diversification not at farmers’ cost: CM
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while categorically stating that no such diversification of crops would be allowed in the state which hit the economy of the farmers, opposed any reduction and elimination of subsidy being given on the agriculture-related items.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who along with Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Financial Commission (Development) and other senior functionaries of the Punjab Government participated in the meeting in Delhi recently convened by one of the Central Government agencies to discuss issues pertaining to the income support basis of farmers and globalisation of marketing of agriculture produce, said the Punjab Government would allow only that type of diversification of agriculture which suited farmers’ economy.

Informed sources said Capt Amarinder Singh, who had been toying with various ideas and reports to bring a farmer-friendly agriculture policy in Punjab, also demanded that diversification would take about three to five years as transitional period in the state. He also demanded that the Central Government, which had been incurring a loss to the tune of Rs 20,000 crore every year on the handling of foodgrains, should give Rs 5000 crore to the Punjab Government every year to fund the diversification.

The sources said the Chief Minister advanced his arguments when Dr Ashok Gulati, an eminent agriculture economist working with the UN group, who also attended the meeting, stressed that subsidy on agriculture should be cut down and international market should be explored to market the agriculture produce.

Dr Gulati argued that present arrangements of the government acting as one of the buying agencies of foodgrain would not continue too long and the entire agriculture economy should be market driven. He added that by adopting this policy, there would be no danger to the economy of the farmers and it would boost agro-based industry with the active participation of multi-national and national companies.

Some of the recommendations made by Dr Abhijit Sen Committee, constituted by Union Food Minister, Mr Shanta Kumar, included giving cash support to farmers in lieu of shifting the burden of selling their produce on their own without any support from the government could not find any taker due to various complications that would arise if the policy was implemented.

Mr Singla, when contacted, said Capt Amarinder Singh while expressing his desire to carry out diversification in the agriculture also made it clear that farmers of the state would not be allowed to pay any price for the same. He added that the Chief Minister also pointed out that when developed countries life the USA had been giving huge subsidy on the agriculture then how a developing country like India could afford to stop the same.

He said the Punjab Government had been urging the authorities concerned to make arrangements of required money to fund the diversification during the transitional period.


Vigilance Bureau fails to submit list
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today failed to submit a list giving information regarding the “links” of the candidates, along with the details of their academic performance, in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Reserving orders on a writ petition filed by PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu against “selective disclosure” to the media, besides another petition filed by a social organisation seeking “transparent investigation” in the matter, the Bench, on May 16, had asked Punjab’s Advocate-General to ensure that the list was placed before the Court today.

Issuing the directions, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Bakhshish Kaur, had observed that the government had enough manpower to accomplish the task of gathering information regarding the links of about 3,500 candidates.

Today, counsel for the state of Punjab asserted that about 40 per cent of the work was yet to be completed. She added that the Vigilance Bureau was working day and night, but four days were just not enough for them to accomplish the task.


Ahluwalia asked to file affidavit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked Punjabi University’s former Vice Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia to file an affidavit explaining the circumstances under which his interview appeared in a newspaper.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, also fixed May 30 as the next date of hearing in the case. Taking up a petition filed by Dr Ahluwalia seeking the quashing of a first information report registered at a Patiala police station, the Bench, it may be recalled, had earlier restrained the Senior Superintendent of Police and the former VC from making statements before the press.

Today, the former VC’s counsel stated that Dr Ahluwalia had not released any statement to the press. A newspaper correspondent had approached him and the former VC had talked to him “off the record”. Everything told to the correspondent was for his personal consumption, he added.

In his 123-page petition, the former VC had earlier sought directions to the state against passing any order on the basis of the allegations in the FIR pertaining to the Saru Rana episode, besides staying further investigations. Counsel for the petitioner had stated on the former VC’s behalf that the FIR was liable to be quashed as the allegations were vague, aimed at implicating the Fine Arts Faculty.


A Division Bench of the High Court on Monday dismissed a petition filed by Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu seeking the quashing of another first information report registered against him earlier this month.

In his petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Bakhshish Kaur, counsel for the petitioner stated that the FIR was registered against him for obtaining further police remand. Seeking the quashing of the FIR, he added that it was registered on the basis of allegations similar to the ones mentioned in the previous FIR. 


Files do rounds as authorities pass buck
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 20
Punjabi University, which had started a review of all decisions taken by ousted Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, today sent back the files to those who had passed them earlier for comments.

Immediately upon taking over as Vice-Chancellor, Mr N. S. Rattan, who is also Principal Secretary, Higher Education, had announced that all decisions of his predecessor made since December last year would be reviewed. Consequently, more than 700 files were recalled to the office of the Vice-Chancellor for review.

However, little progress could be made on reviewing the files as Mr Rattan also had dual charge as Principal Secretary and has been able to come to the university only a few times since he was given charge as acting Vice-Chancellor on April 22.

Today, the Vice-Chancellor’s office sent all files to the Registrar’s office. The Registrar, in turn, sent the files to the concerned branches for comments. Sources said thus, the files, many of which are controversial, were sent back to the persons who had put original notings on them.

The sources said as most persons in various departments are the same as during Dr Ahluwalia’s time, they were not likely to go back on their earlier views which had been put on the files. The sources said a proper review could have taken place if the Vice-Chancellor’s office had handled the review process.

Meanwhile, in another development, the authorities today accepted the resignation of Dr G. R. Kataria, Director, Public Relations, of the university. Dr Kataria, who is a Professor in the English Department, had taken over the reins of the Public Relations wing during the tenure of Dr Ahluwalia.


Deputy Director’s bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 20
The anticipatory bail application of Mrs Kiran Dhawan, Deputy Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, was today rejected by Mr A.S. Kathuria, special judge, here, in a case of Junior Engineers’ recruitment scandal in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab.

Meanwhile, Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today, further stayed the arrest of R. Venkatratnam, an IAS officer and former Director, Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, till May 28. Venkatratnam is also an accused in the JEs’ recruitment scandal of the Rural Development and Panchayats Department, Punjab.

On the request of proxy advocate that the anticipatory bail application of R. Venkatratnam was to be argued by Mr Kanwaljit Singh Ahluwalia, counsel, who was not present today, the Sessions Judge adjourned the anticipatory bail application of R. Venkatratnam, to May 28 for consideration and ordered till then the stay regarding the arrest of the applicant is to continue. The judge also directed the applicant to join the investigation.

Earlier, the arrest of R. Venkatratnam was further stayed on may 16 by the court till today.


Ashwani Kumar elected to RS
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
Mr Ashwani Kumar of the Congress was today declared elected unopposed to the Rajya Sabha. The result was announced by the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretary, Mr N. S. Mavi. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, and several ministers, MLAs and supporters were present.

Talking to newspersons, Mr Ashwani Kumar said there were two aspects to the river water dispute, one political and the other legal. The former would be taken care of by the Congress under the leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, while, in the case of the latter, top legal experts were being consulted and the Punjab case would be prepared within the parameters of the Constitution.


Taksali Akalis should join hands under Tohra: Chandumajra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today asked the BJP to press its central leadership for the removal of Mr Parkash Singh Badal from the leadership of the SAD as the price for continuing its alliance with the SAD in Punjab.

In a statement issued here, Mr Chandumajra said the recent happenings in the state had proved beyond any doubt that the lack of performance, maladministration and rampant corruption were responsible for the defeat of the SAD-BJP combine in the Punjab Assembly elections held in February. The outcome of the elections to the local bodies had also been the same for the SAD-BJP combine. “Ït is clear that Mr Badal has become a millstone round the neck of the BJP and the sooner the BJP got rid of him, the better it would be for the party”, he said.

Mr Chandumajra said it was sad that the BJP leadership had not paid any heed to the advice given by the SHSAD chief in this regard in the past. But the BJP could now ignore it further only at its peril.

He also said that although the recent exposure of corrupt practices during the Badal regime had shown the Akali Dal in bad light, he wanted to emphasise that not all Akalis were bad. “Only a few who enjoyed proximity to Mr Badal had been exposed to be rotten apples. Others were good and should consider joining hands with the SHSAD under the leadership of Mr Tohra. It is time all old, taksali Akalis came together on a single platform”, he declared.


Govt hospital closes kitchen
Food bills not passed by Treasury Dept
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 20
The local Government Rajindra Hospital has stopped providing food to its patients as its kitchen bills have not been passed by the Treasury Department since the past four months and it has over-extended its credit facilities.

The poor patients admitted to the hospital have been most affected by the move as they were being provided free food by the hospital. The hospital authorities can admit 10 per cent of the patients free of cost on their discretion by taking various things into consideration, including yellow cards issued to the economically backward.

Sources said the hospital, which has over-extended its credit on grocery items since nearly two months, had to close its kitchen completely a few days ago because it could no longer buy cooking gas on credit. As all food is cooked on gas, there was no other alternative before the authorities.

The hospital kitchen, only two years ago, used to cater to about 500 patients on a daily basis. This figure has gone down drastically with the hospital fee being increased. Now mostly poor patients are using this facility under which food is supplied to them free of cost three times a day. Other patients get it on a payment of Rs 20 a day.

Patients looking forward to free food are having a bad time. This is because many of them do not have any regular attendants to attend to them or get food for them from home. “Besides the cost factor, it is not possible for me to get food for my patient frequently”, says Manoj Kumar, an attendant. He said the free-food facility was stopped abruptly a few days ago and now he had to make frequent trips to the hospital to get food for his patient.

The sources said the yearly kitchen bill of the hospital had been severely curtailed in the past and was now only Rs 2 lakh per annum. They said the hospital was having problems in even getting this amount released, adding that no amount had been released to it since December to settle kitchen bills. They said as groceries and other commodities had to be got on a daily basis, there was a limit to which a private organisation could provide these items on credit.

The sources said this state of affairs had come about in the hospital despite the fact that it had raised a substantial sum of money by hiking the entire fee structure two years ago. They said besides crores being earned through the hike every year, many more crores had been collected through admissions to non-resident Indians. They said according to an understanding when both these schemes were mooted, it had been decided that the money collected by such measures would be given back to the institution for its improvement. The sources said this, however, did not happen and that the money was still lying with the government even as the most meagre of welfare schemes, like the free-food facility for the poor, could not be discharged by the government.

Meanwhile, the hospital’s Medical Superintendent, Dr A. S. Sekhon, when contacted, said he could not comment on the matter.


Cardiologist takes premature retirement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 20
Eminent cardiologist and Professor and Head of Department of Cardiology, Dr Manmohan Singh, has taken premature retirement from the local Government Medical College after serving the institution with distinction for more than 20 years.


Scheme for farmers: Plant a tree, own a tree 
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 20
Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forests, has appealed to people to grow more trees and look after them so that the environment could be saved from increasing pollution. The minister declared that all trees planted in and adjoining the fields of farmers on link roads would become the property of that farmer and whenever these trees were to be sold, the entire amount would be given to those farmers. He said similarly, farmers having trees in their fields on main roads would get 50 per cent of the amount of the trees sold. He said the scheme had been introduced so that farmers might take interest in growing trees, as the department could merely plant saplings but it was very difficult to look after them for a long time. The minister was addressing a series of gatherings in his constituency today.

He said that the government had taken a serious note of setting trees on fire in the jungle on a large scale, which also caused death of wild animals. He said the government had ordered an inquiry and asked for suggestions of to control such incidents in the future.

Presently the state has only 6 per cent of its land under forest cover whereas 30 per cent is needed for maintaining the balance of the environment.

He appealed to NGOs to join hands with the government to make tree plantation a mass movement. He said without the co-operation of the NGOs, no government policy or program could achieve the required results. He declared that Fatehgarh Sahib would be developed as a model district and ornamental trees would be planted on all entry points of the district.

Later, the minister heard the complaints of the people at Bachat Bhavan along with officials of the district administration. He sorted out various problems on the spot and the rest were marked to the officials concerned. Subhash Sood, Varinder Takyar senior Congress leaders, Pt Naresh Kumar, former MC chief and Sadhu Ram president BCC also addressed the meeting.


Amarnath Yatra issue: Dal  writes to PM
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 20
The Sirhind unit of the Shri Amarnath Barfani Sewa Dal, in a letter to the Prime Minister, the Chief Ministers of J and K and Punjab, the Union Home Minister and other senior officials, has highlighted problems being faced by pilgrims as well as religious organisations, which arrange community kitchens there.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Rajiv Gupta, its press secretary, has urged them to call a meeting of the social and religious organisations of Punjab, so that their problems could be solved. He said the Sirhind unit had been organising ‘langers’ and encouraging pilgrims for paying their obeisance at Amarnath cave. He said the registration work of pilgrims was carried out in New Delhi and Jammu only, which causes inconvenience to thousands of pilgrims from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal.

He demanded that a registration centre should also be opened in Chandigarh. He also demanded that air service from Chandigarh to Srinagar should be continued daily at least during the yatra days.


First Afghan flight lands in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 20
The first aircraft from Afghanistan touched India at Rajasansi airport here today. The Ariana Afghan Airlines resumed operations after three years. The flight landed as per schedule in the afternoon. A 20-member delegation led by Capt Zahid Azimi welcomed the VIP delegation aboard the aircraft.

The delegation was led by Mr R. M. Alami, Technical Deputy Minister of Civil Aviation and Tourism, Mr A. G. Basharyar, President of Civil Aviation Operation, Mr Feda Mohammed Fedawi, Vice-President, Technical Operations, Mr Abdul Bari, Vice-President, Commercial, and Mr Said Ashraf Hofyani, Vice-President, Finance.


CM to offer condolences
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 20
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will visit Sandhwan village tomorrow to offer his condolences to the bereaved family of Pardhan Kaur, widow of Giani Zail Singh, who died in the village on May 11. This was stated in a press note released here today.


Minister creates ruckus
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 20
An embarrassing situation was created in Punjab Udyog Bhavan here this morning when the Minister of State, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, trooped in and occupied the office room of Mr A. S. Chatha, Chairman of the Committee on Industry.

Eyewitnesses said that despite the nameplate of Mr Chatha, the Minister and his supporters occupied the room and asked the former Chief Secretary to find a room elsewhere. Mr Chatha, who was visibly upset, is reported to have taken exception to the ‘’uncouth’’ behaviour of Mr Sekhri. Getting office accommodation was no problem as his predecessor also had a room in Udyog Bhavan. But the manner in which the Minister went about occupying the room was in bad taste, said eyewitnesses.

Senior bureaucrats and staff members of various corporations housed in the Sector 17 building besides ‘’imported’’ supporters of the Mr Sekhri, Minister of State, Industries and Cultural Affairs and Tourism (attached to the Chief Minister for both portfolios) also addressed the employees.

Sources in the Punjab Industrial Development Corporation said the Minister’s kin owed several crores of rupees to the corporation. He is reported to have lost his cool when a corporation staffer told him that the room once occupied by his predecessor was now with Mr Chatha, who later is believed to have told the Minister in so many words that changing room was no problem but there had to be a proper method.

Later, Mr Sekhri told TNS that he had no dispute with Mr Chatha, who belonged to “our” Gurdaspur area. “I can sit anywhere in Udyog Bhavan, which is more convenient for visiting industrialists”, he added. Even Mr Chatha, he went on, had offered to shift to another room.

Mr Chatha is reported to have refused to be photographed with Mr Sekhri.


Man framed for snubbing daughter’s ‘rapist’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
A local resident and government employee, whose daughter was raped allegedly by an automobile dealer, remained behind bars for more than a month after the rape suspect implicated him in a case under the NDPS act as he had refused to marry off his daughter to the dealer.

These facts came to light when Mr L. Yadav, SP, made an inquiry into the case after he was approached by family members of the government employee. The rape suspect, Dilbhajan Singh, who is also facing a CBI probe with regard to various scams, was found responsible for framing the girl’s father by planting opium in his house. Dilbhajan was booked in a rape case on the complaint of the government employee’s daughter, whom he intended to marry.

Sources said Dilbhajan Singh had threatened her parents that if she was not married to him, they would have to face dire consequences. He had also allegedly taken objectionable photographs of the girl with the help of an Abohar-based photographer and was blackmailing her in this regard.

The sources said the rape victim was working as an employee in Dilbhajan’s automobile agency. When the parents of the victim decided to marry her off, Dilbhajan tried to ensure that she would not get married by showing the photographs to prospective bridegrooms.

During the inquiry, it came to light that when Dilbhajan could not get any positive response from the girl’s parents, he, along with two other persons, decided to implicate the father in an opium case. He expected that after the only earning member of family went to jail, the family would give in to his demand.

The girl’s father, after being found innocent, has been granted bail.


ASI arrested in stripping case

Moga, May 20
The police has arrested an Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) in the infamous Rajyana girls stripping case.

The police produced ASI Gurmail Singh in court which today gave him a day’s police remand.

The police had registered a case against Akali Dal MLA Sadhu Singh, his son Jagtar Singh and two police officials, including the then SHO in charge Joginder Singh and the ASI at the instance of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for allegedly outraging the modesty of women.

The girls’ father, Jarnail Singh, moved the high court through a writ petition and the court directed the police to register a case against all four.

Sadhu Singh, Jagtar Singh and Inspector Joginder Singh were granted bail on April 29 by the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Moga. Gurmail Singh was arrested yesterday. PTI


Proclaimed offender arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 20
The Faridkot police has arrested a proclaimed offender against whom a case was registered in 1995 under Sections 363 and 366 of the IPC. This was stated in a press note issued today.

Roopa Singh, a resident of Hardayaleana village was declared the proclaimed offender on December 19, 1995, by the court. He was booked on the charge of allegedly eloping with a girl of his native village on August 23, 1995.

The police said he had stayed at different places, including Dabwali and Sirsa during the past seven years, where he earned his living by working as a labourer. He was arrested from near Pippli village yesterday.

Meanwhile, in another press note the Faridkot police said, Jagtar Singh, a resident of Heeke Kalan in Muktsar district and Balkar Singh of Suragpuri in Faridkot district were arrested while they were carrying 750 grams of opium from near Machaki Kalan village.

During interrogation the accused told the police that they had purchased the opium from Jandwala village in Haryana. They had brought the opium to sell it at various villages of the Faridkot district. They had been in the trade for the past three years. A case under Sections 18, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered against them at the Sadar police station, Faridkot.


3 brothers held in kidnap case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 20
The police today solved a case of kidnapping. The DSP, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill said at a press conference that Mr Sital Kumar was kidnapped by five persons on May 18 in a Tata Sumo. They were carrying sharp-edged weapons and took him to Pandori village. They demanded Rs 3 lakh from him. Mr Sital Kumar had opted for VRS as Asstt Manager, PNB, Kapurthala.

The kidnappers phoned his wife today, asking her to come with the money at a canal near Haripur village, near Nakodar. She, however, informed the police which laid a trap.

Plainclothesmen reached the place and when one of the kidnappers, Harbans Lal, came to get the money, they pounced upon him.

The police has nabbed three brothers, Harbans Lal, Rakesh Kumar and Hans Raj under Sections 364 and 34 of the IPC in this regard. 


DEOs’ powers decentralised
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 20
The Punjab Government has decided to decentralise the powers of the District Education Officers (DEO) and Circle Education Officers (CEOs) to transfer teachers. The DEOs and CEOs will follow this process at the district and divisional headquarters, respectively. The transfer work will start in the first week of June and be completed by the same month. This was stated by Mr Khushal Bahl, Minister of Education, talking to this reporter at Kotkapura today.

The minister who attended a social function, criticised the previous SAD-BJP combine government for its failure to improve the education system.

He said the Congress government had formulated a comprehensive policy to bring uniformity the education system and resolve the problems of the teachers and students. If required, some changes would also be made in the syllabi. Steps were also under way to introduce English as medium for teaching science subjects in higher classes.

Mr Bahl said a fool-proof policy had been prepared regarding the selection of teachers and lecturers, but keeping in view the financial crisis, no new recruitment would be made. Surplus staff from schools and colleges would be shifted to fill vacancies.


Institute MD booked on student’s complaint
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 20
The Sadar police has registered a case against Mr Naginder Singh Harika, Managing Director, and his wife, Ms Sukhwant Kaur Harika, Director, of the Khalsa rural Hospital and Training Institute, Nangal Kalan, under Sections 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC on the complaint of Pritpal Kaur, a student of the institute.

In her complaint, Pritpal Kaur alleged that Mr Harika took Rs 10,000 from her on January 20, 1998, and gave her admission to the institute for the ANM course. She studied in the institute for a few days, following which Mr Harika allegedly instructed her to go home and appear in the examinations when called.

On January 24, 1999, she deposited Rs 30,000 on the demand of its Managing Director. She also alleged that Mr Harika demanded another Rs 18,000 from her to appear in the examinations. She visited the institute with Ms Amarjit Kaur, municipal councillor and district secretary, All-India Democratic Women's Association, but the chowkidar did not let them in.

She reported the matter to the then SSP, Mr Yurinder Singh Hayer, but to no avail. She met the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, on November 3, 2000, at a sangat darshan programme in Bhupal village and told him about the case, but nothing was done despite an assurance given by Mr Badal. She has demanded an inquiry into the working of institute.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Sadar police has registered two other cases against Mr Harika. He was arrested by the police on May 1 last year in connection with a case registered against him on November 4, 1999. He is presently in judicial custody at Central Jail, Bathinda.

He appeared today in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.


Principal guilty of locking up students

Moga, May 20
An inquiry into the locking up of eight students of class V by a principal has found her guilty but said: "What she did was for the betterment of the students".

The report of the inquiry, conducted by an SDM at the directive of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, has been submitted to the commission, an official spokesman said here today. The report said the principal of the private school at Kotkapura was guilty but had no mala fide intentions.

The principal had locked up eight students in a room for about two hours on May 16 last year for not completing their homework.

The school closed for the day and the principal and staff forgot to release the students, who were later released by a peon. The rights commission had ordered a fresh inquiry in the episode. PTI


Govt ‘to protect traders’ interests’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 20
Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the High -Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, said the state government was committed to protect the interests of traders.

Mr Singla, who was addressing a dealers’ meeting organised by a tea manufacturer of Rampuraphul town late last evening, said some leaders had given derogatory remarks against the traders without evaluating their role in society.

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