Thursday, May 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ex-PPSC chief Bhupinder Sidhu also faces probe
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
After Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, it is the turn of his predecessor, Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, to face a vigilance probe.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has reportedly directed the Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, Mr A.P. Pandey, to look into charges of amassing of assets disproportionate to known sources of income of the former PPSC chairman.

When contacted, the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister and the Principal Secretary, Home and Vigilance, Mr S.K. Sinha, confirmed that an inquiry had been marked to the Vigilance Bureau.

Meanwhile, the President, Mr K.R. Narayanan, has referred the case of Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu to the Department of Personnel of the Union Government from where it will go to the Ministry of Law before being finally sent to the Supreme Court to get approval for his removal from the chairmanship of the PPSC.

“It is a very long and cumbersome procedure,” sources in the Punjab Government said, maintaining that cases of removal of a Chairman or a member of a Public Service Commission were rare.

The sources maintained that it was well within the purview of the Vigilance Bureau to hold a probe against any of the former Chairmen or members of the PPSC provided there was “enough substance” in the allegations or complaints made against them.

The bureau could also take suo motu cognizance of any authentic piece of information, the sources added.

Only yesterday, a newspaper report carrying details of assets, including immovable property, reportedly belonging to Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister immediately after a meeting of the Council of Ministers. At that time he had said that he would comment only after going through the report.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu was the Chairman of the PPSC from September 28, 1992, to August 31, 1996. He, too, like his successor, was appointed by the then Congress government in the state.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu was appointed to the PPSC on his superannuation from the Indian Administrative Service after starting his career as a Block Development Officer from where he rose to be a PCS (Executive Branch) officer. He was close to the then Adviser to the Governor and ultimately Governor of Punjab, Mr Surendra Nath. He also served as an Administrative Member of the Punjab State Electricity Board before being appointed a member of the PPSC.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu belongs to Doomwali village in Bathinda district and his son, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh, is an Independent MLA from Talwandi Sabo.

The sources in the Vigilance Bureau said that details of the immovable property, as given in a newspaper report, were being verified. Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu reportedly owns agricultural land or farmhouses at Pathrala, agricultural land at Khajuwal in Bikaner, agricultural land at Jharoli in Kurukshetra, an orchard in Dehra Dun, residential property in Chandigarh, Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo, Kasauli, Panchkula, Delhi, Noida and Patiala, a stud farm in Mehrauli in Delhi, LPG gas agencies in Maur Mandi and Bathinda, a dental college in Muktsar and factories in Mandi Dabwali and Patiala. Besides, he is allegedly getting huge rental income from his commercial property in New Delhi and other places.


Now muster rolls scam
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 22
After the recruitment scandal in the Panchayats Department of the state another scam involving gross irregularities in the spending of the rural development funds has come to light.

Investigations by The Tribune revealed that fake muster rolls were prepared by officials of the department in connivance with certain sarpanches to draw funds meant for the employment of unemployed youth in the rural areas. During the SAD-BJP alliance rule a nexus of the said authorities got development works, using rural development funds, from hand-picked contractors and later made forged muster rolls showing that local unemployed youth were employed for getting the said works completed.

A muster roll of Meghpur village in the Anandpur Sahib block carries names of Tersem Chand, Ramchander, Datta Ram and Harmesh Chander of the village who were allegedly employed during the development works. However, inquiries from the village revealed that these persons were not residents of the said village. Similarly, when a cross section of sarpanches was asked about the muster rolls against which local youth were provided employment alleged that the district development officials collected muster rolls from them. None of the village panchayats approached had muster rolls in its possession.

The rural development funds come under various centrally-sponsored schemes. They are distributed to the panchayats through the District Rural Development Agencies (DRDAs). According to the manual issued by the Union Government for using these funds, they are meant to provide gainful employment to the unemployed and underemployed persons of the rural areas.

The directive of the government for spending the rural development funds is that 50 per cent of it should be spent on unskilled labour. Chapter IV of the guidelines strictly prohibits the engagement of contractors while using the rural development funds.

It has been explicitly stated that labourers engaged while spending the rural development funds should be from the village panchayat area. Only if the appropriate labour is not available in the village, persons from the adjoining villages could be employed. The village panchayats have also been directed to maintain the muster rolls of the local employed youth in various development works, the manual states.

However, inquiries in the rural areas of the district revealed that rural development fund here was spent contrary to the guidelines. In the past financial years about Rs 16 crore was distributed in various villages of the district for development works. This amount was spent on works ranging from construction of dharamshalas, construction of link roads, repairing and constructing school buildings and preparing barren lands etc.

According to the guidelines and rules, out of it at least Rs 8 crore had to be spent on providing employment to the local unskilled labour of the rural area. However, officials of the Panchayati Department got almost 90 per cent of the development works using rural development funds from hand-picked contractors in gross violation of rules. The contractors further employed the migratory labour at lesser rates to get works done thus denying the local youth the right to employment.

The officials concerned later made fake muster rolls to show that the local youth were employed to get the said works done and in a way siphon the money that was to be used for providing employment to the rural youth.

The director of an NGO working in the Anandpur Sahib block, Mr Kuldeep Chand, alleged that if an inquiry is conducted into the way the rural development funds were spent in the past few years it could unearth another major scandal. Officials of the department made full use of the absence of panchayat samitis and zila parishad to misuse the rural development funds.


Fertilisers costly at coop societies
Markfed earning crores as mediator
Jaswinder Paul

Bathinda, May 22
The Cooperative Agriculture Service Societies (CASS) formed to help farmers are virtually ‘looting’ them by selling fertilisers at inflated prices as compared with the open market price. The biggest cooperative organisation of Asia, Markfed is a partner in the alleged ‘loot’.

Markfed purchases different fertilisers in bulk and sells it to the cooperative societies for selling to farmers. These fertilisers are sold to farmers at higher prices. Although Markfed does not manufacture any fertilisers of its own, it earns crores of rupees by serving as a mediator between the manufacturers and the cooperative societies.

As per the official information the price for a 50 kg bag of DAP is Rs 452 and that of urea Rs 230.50 through cooperative societies. Although both these fertilisers are available in the open market at Rs 440 and Rs 220, respectively.

The cooperative societies were formed for those farmers who could not afford to purchase fertilisers, pesticides and seeds from the open market.

The main reason for higher prices of fertilisers is that these are purchased through Markfed, official sources said. Many unions of farmers had urged to the respective governments from time to time to end the mediation of Markfed.

Even employees’ unions of Cooperative Societies favour direct purchase by them without any mediator. An office-bearers of the Punjab State Cooperative Employees’ Union, said on condition anonymity that they had written to the state government to end mediation by any agency for the purchase of fertilisers, but no action had been taken.

Cooperative Societies earn profit to the tune of more than Rs 500 crore every year by selling agriculture-related items. As per the rules the profit is to be distributed among the members of the societies, but barring a few societies, the profit did not reach the farmers.

Farmers who are members of these societies are doubly cursed. On the one hand they have to purchase costly fertilisers and other farm ingredients and on the other hand they cannot have the brands of their choice. They have to take the product of the company supplied by the society. At times manufacturers of different items, which are not sold in the open market, use their political links and ask the cooperative societies to sell their products.

Secretaries of some cooperative societies of the area told this correspondent said that they were in favour of purchasing the fertilisers directly by the societies. They said if they were free to do so, they could purchase the fertilisers which were in demand in a particular area. They said the money thus saved by direct purchase could be distributed among the member farmers.

Mr Satinder Chabbra, district manager, Markfed, when contacted, said while giving tenders for the purchase of fertilisers rules and regulations were followed. He said it was the policy of the government to make purchases through Markfed. He added that a purchase committee was formed for making the purchases.

Mr Raghubir Singh, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, when went contacted said as the Cooperative Societies could not purchase fertilisers directly, thus the present arrangement had been made.


Intoxicating drugs seized, chemist held
Tribune News Service

Raman Mandi (Bathinda), May 22
The district police achieved a major success yesterday in its anti-drug addiction campaign when it seized thousands of intoxicating tablets and capsules from a local chemist shop being sold by its owner, Pawan Kumar, without prescription slip to addicts at exorbitant prices.

Police sources said the accused was also earlier booked under the Drug and Cosmetic Act for selling intoxicating drugs about two years ago.

Following a tip-off, a raid was conducted by a team comprising Drug Inspector, a doctor from the civil hospital and police personnel.

The seizure included 1500 tablets of diazepam, 520 tablets of carrisoma, 400 norphine injections, 60 capsules of dekavan, 200 capsules of dexovan, 510 capsules of hypnopax, 140 capsules of parvon forte, 800 tablets of codine, 30 capsules of hypodex, 80 capsules of dextro van, 70 tablets of carpudyl, 1190 tablets of micotel, 1600 capsules of fortvin, 200 capsules of proxyvon, 3600 tablets of clorodia poxide, 70 tablets of subhinil and 200 capsules of pronov.

A decoy customer was sent to the accused and the accused gave intoxicants to him without any prescription slip.

A case had been registered against the accused and he has been arrested.


Anomalies in GPF accounts alleged
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 22
Anomalies in the gratuity-cum-provident fund (GPF) accounts of employees working in the Irrigation Department, Punjab, have come to light.

The data collected from various Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs) of the department in this district reveal that more than 60 per cent of employees do not get their annual GPF statements on time. And when they do get them, they are full of anomalies.

This has irked the employees as it creates problems in getting retirement dues or GPF advances.

Ramesh Sharma who worked as storekeeper in the department died awaiting seven years of his dues. The reason given for the non-payment of his dues is that his money was transferred in the account of another person with the same name. Similarly, Piara Lal, a senior assistant in the Finance Department of the BBMB, retired recently. In addition to closing his account, the irrigation authorities closed the GPF account of another Piara Lal who is still serving in the Bhakra Dam circle.

Mr Ashok Kuma Rana, president of the Joint Action Committee of the Punjab and Haryana Irrigation Employees in BBMB, alleged that certain officials deliberately introduced anomalies in the GPF statements to extract money from the employees. The delay in the release of the statements and the anomalies were a constant feature which proved that they were done deliberately.

The employees had to visit Chandigarh and pay about Rs 100 to Rs 200 for getting their GPF statements issued or rectified. In case of a retired employee, 1 per cent of his payments was demanded. Those who opposed it were harassed and forced to approach court to get their dues. In most cases, the government had to pay arrears to the employees with interest, he said.

Officials dealing with the GPF accounts of irrigation employees had not been transferred since a long time, despite persistent complaints against them, he added.

Union leaders of the BBMB have written to the Finance Minister to transfer GPF accounts to the office of the Chief Engineer, Bhakra Dam, to save them from the alleged harassment at the hands of some officials in the office of the Chief Engineer (Canal), Chandigarh.


Corporation poll: BJP presents ‘victims’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
A “sample” of the statewide ‘’excesses’’ committed by the Congress and the police on BJP workers and supporters during Sunday’s Municipal Corporation elections in Punjab was presented to the media here today.

The cases pertained to Patiala. Several BJP candidates and supporters, who had suffered at the hands of the ruling party, narrated their experiences and how not only a Bihar-like situation was created but BJP ‘’karyakartas’’ were also booked in “false” cases.

The BJP state general secretary, organisation, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, who briefed the media persons, said the ‘’victims’’ were from wards 24,16,18,32 and 33. Mr Jaiswal said a memorandum would shortly be submitted to the Union Minister of Home Affairs, Mr L.K. Advani, listing the ‘’excessess’’ committed against the party workers and the manner in which the Municipal Corporation elections were “rigged and hijacked” by the Congress . The police played an “active, partisan role,” when it came to polling by bogus voters, booth capturing, beating up of the BJP’s polling agents or insulting party women workers and candidates.

‘’What transpired in the Municipal Corporation elections is a replay of the Malout Assembly byelection. Democracy was yet again strangulated and brutal, undemocratic means used to capture grassroots democratic institutions’’, alleged Mr Jaiswal.

Mr Gobind Ram, BJP candidate, was manhandled in ward no. 24, allegedly by Congress candidate Vishnu Sharma, whose brothers were in the state services (one is a senior superintendent of police, one a PCS officer and one an excise and taxation officer). Even the SHO concerned, Mr Didar Singh, reportedly turned a blind eye.

Mr Radhey Shyam in ward no. 26 was allegedly beaten up, so was the BJP’s Yuva Morcha president, Mr Inder Kumar. Likewise, the BJP’s Neelam Gupta was “falsely” implicated in a case relating to the tearing up of ballot papers in ward no. 28, where even the polling agent was roughed up and his identity card torn up. She had to seek bail.

Mr Anil Bajaj, contesting from ward no. 32, was beaten up when Congress men stormed the booth. Similarly, in ward no. 33 Mr Balwant Rai, Punjab general secretary of the BJP’s SC/BC Morcha, was booked under various sections and the result was forcibly got declared in favour of Congress candidate, Budh Ram. Even the polling was forcibly stopped 10 minutes before the scheduled time. The margin between the two was 35 votes. ‘’Uncouth people even threw stones at my house and hurled abuses’’, alleged Mr Balwant Rai.

‘’In all these cases, the Congress hooligans ruled the roost at the instigation of Congress leaders, including the local MP, Mrs Parneet Kaur’’, alleged Mr Jaiswal.


Hectic activity on for panchayat poll
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 22
As the state Election Commission has issued a notification to conduct the general elections to elect the members of the panchayat samitis and zila parishads, hectic political activities have started in the district. The political leaders of all parties have started gearing up and touring the rural areas. The political leaders and the prospective candidates are confused as till today no one knows which zone has been reserved for which category and which one is general. The Akali leaders alleged that Dr Harbans Lal, MLA from Sirhind and Minister for Forest, got the zones reserved for different categories as per his convenience and where the Akalis were in strong position those had been got reserved for SC categories.

Certain Congress supporters, who had supported Harbans Lal in the elections, alleged that the Minister got their villages reserved in spite of their repeated requests. Dr Harbans Lal refuted the allegations and said that the reservation of zones had been done as per rotation. He said that his party would win the elections as the people had widely appreciated the campaign against corruption launched by the Chief Minister. He said that as the urban voters voted for the Congress in the corporation elections, the rural people would also vote for them.

Meanwhile, Mr B.S. Sidhu ADC (D)-cum-district electoral officer, told The Tribune that the entire district had been divided into 75 zones for the panchyat samitis election and in 10 zones for the zila parishad elections. He said that in all the five blocks of the district, 15 zones had been created in every zone. He said that the process for the election would start from May 27 as the filing of nomination would start from that day, and the last date for filing the nominations would be May 30. The scrutiny of nominations would take place on May 31. The last date for withdrawal of candidatures would be June 1. The polling, if necessary would take place on June 9 and the whole process would be completed by June 13.

The district electoral officer urged the people to contact his office if they face any sort of problem or confusion. He also urged the people that if they have any complaint regarding the addition or deletion of votes, they may contact the concerned SDM.


PRTC to launch automatic ticket machines
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 22
The days of punching tickets on buses are likely to be over soon with the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) developing automatic ticket issuing machines which are likely to be introduced in phases in the corporation buses.

The new ticket machines, besides improving the system of ticketing, are also likely to help the authorities to track the movement of its buses and make drivers and conductors more accountable. Besides, they are also likely to pinpoint passenger density at particular points on a route.

Sources disclosed that the machines were being trial-tested presently and would be introduced depot-wise in phases. Giving details they said a ticket coming out of the machine would contain the serial numbers of the driver and the conductor on it, besides time of issue, the kind of ticket, the destinations covered by it, the number of seats booked, fare and total money taken.

They said once the new ticketing system was installed, it would become impossible for conductors to issue tickets for destinations which had been passed by the bus. They said, besides this, the present ambiguity in the punching process and the use of expired tickets which the commuters were not able to distinguish would also come to an end automatically.

The machine will be linked to a personal computer at the end of the day to grean all information about the number of trips made by the bus on a particular route, besides its ticketing record. Sources said presently conductors spent nearly three-quarters of an hour to give an account of the entire ticketing done by them during the day for which they were paid extra time. They said this information would now be available at the click of the button.

The sources said the corporation was aiming at introducing the new ticketing machines along with the Global Positioning System (GPS). They said trials on the GPS were also being conducted and this system could also be launched in select depots along with the automatic ticket machines. The GPS is a system under which it becomes possible to track the progress of a vehicle on a particular route. The system would ensure a complete watch on the progress of corporation buses, besides giving immediate warnings in case the bus comes to a standstill for a long period signifying a breakdown or accident.

The corporation is in the process of collecting data to make the GPS viable.


Move on generation incentive decried
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 22
The Regional Council of the PSEB Engineers Association of the Ropar thermal plant region at its meeting yesterday condemned the move of the Punjab State Electricity Board to reduce the thermal generation incentive admissible to engineers and employees working at the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), Ropar, the GNDTP at Bathinda and the GNTP at Lehramohabat.

The meeting which was presided over by Mr R.S. Sohal, senior vice-president of the association, also urged the PSEB not to resort to such unilateral and retrogressive actions as these would not only cause resentment among the engineers but would also prove counter-productive in the long run.

The association also support the board in its endeavour to make the PSEB financially viable, but it condemned the action of the management in not differentiating between productive and non-productive units.

The meeting also observed that the PSEB’s proposals to reduce generation incentive and withdraw vehicles of senior engineers under the garb of economy measures would adversely affect the generation of the thermal plants in the long run.

The meeting also disclosed that the General Manager/Chief Engineers of the thermal plants had asked the PSEB not to reduce any incentive to improve the performance of the thermal plants.

The meeting also decided to form a joint action committee of engineers and workers of the three thermal plants to plan future course of action.


Free power to PSEB employees to go
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 22
The PSEB has decided not to give its employees any extra perks and allowances, including the part-free electricity facility, which will henceforth be given on the state government pattern.

Sources said this decision was taken at a high-level meeting recently and PSEB employees would now have to do without “local duty outdoor allowance” and would not be provided with free electricity.

It was also informed that some of the employee federations held meetings today in view of this recent development and are likely to oppose it.

It was also informed that Capt Amarinder Singh would chair the general body meeting of the PSEB on May 25.


Akal Takht rejects demand of Khalsa Panchayat
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
The Sikh High Priests today gave another opportunity to activists of the Khalsa Panchayat to submit ‘concrete proofs’ of alleged corruption against jathedars as alleged by them in a brochure — “Paigam” — by June 7.

The Sikh High Priests who met at Akal Takht Secretariat for the second day here today, however, rejected the demand of the Khalsa Panchayat to exclude Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedars of Akal Takht and Kesgarh Sahib, respectively, from any proposed committee which should take up this case. It may be mentioned here that members of the Khalsa Panchayat had pleaded before the Jathedars that they could not submit the proofs of corruption before the present set of High Priests since Jathedar Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh were party to the case.

It may be mentioned here that the ‘Paigam’, published by the Khalsa Panchayat, had alleged that the Jathedars had been denigrating the honour of Takhts by tilting edicts in favour of ‘so-called sants’ by taking bribes. The Khalsa Panchayat had also levelled specific charges against Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib. It is for the first time that the petition like corruption charges, levelled against Jathedars, is being taken up by Akal Takht. According to sources, if the Khalsa Panchayat failed to turn up with ‘concrete proofs’ of corruption against Jathedars, strict action as per ‘Panthic maryada’ could be taken up against them on June 7.

The pamphlet — ‘Paigam’ — had mentioned the cases of Baba Dhanwant Singh of Roohani Vishav Sanstha, Nawanshahr, who has been facing charges of moral turpitude and Sant Shamsher Singh Jagera, President, All India Sant Samaj, who were allegedly given mild ‘tankha’ (religious punishment) despite ‘a number of proofs’, submitted by the ‘Sikh sangat’.

The five activists of Khalsa Panchayat, who were summoned at Akal Takht, were Mr Charnjit Singh Channi, Mr Mangal Singh Khalsa, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Mr Amandip Singh and Mr Jarnail Singh Khalsa.


Akal Takht summons proprietors

Amritsar, May 22
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti today issued fresh summons to the proprietors of Ludhiana-based ‘Akal Upama’ monthly to appear before the highest temporal seat of the Sikhs on June 7.

Those summoned would have to explain their conduct of having questioned the integrity of the Sikh clergy in matters related to issuing ‘Tankah’ (punishment) to offenders of Sikh codes.

The summons were issued after the proprietors and writer of the article, who appeared before the clergy yesterday at Akal Takht, demanded that their case be heard by a five-member panel that did not include Giani Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Keshgarh Sahib. UNI


Pasla faction seeks SP’s suspension
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 22
The Mangat Ram Pasla faction of the state CPM today demanded the suspension of a local SP for allegedly facilitating the Harkishen Singh Surjeet faction to gain control of the party office.

Senior leaders of the Pasla faction, led by member, state secretariat, Mr Tarlochan Singh Rana, today met the Inspector-General of Police (Jalandhar Range), Mr S.K.Sharma, and apprised him of the “pre-planned” attack by the Surjeet faction on party workers yesterday.

Earlier, in an emergency meeting of the party office-bearers, the Pasla faction condemned the Surjeet faction for indulging in hooliganism by beating up its party workers. The meeting adopted a resolution condemning the role of the district police for arresting about 100 party workers who were holding a meeting at its Green Park office yesterday. The resolution further stated that the “fake” cases registered against workers should be withdrawn and the party office, which was in “illegal” possession of the Surjeet faction, should be reinstated to the Pasla faction without any delay.

The meeting demanded the suspension of the SP, a close relative of Mr Surjeet, for hatching a conspiracy to ensure the control of the Surjeet faction on the main party office.

The resolution said the main party office was the property of Bhai Rattan Singh Yaadgari Trust and all three trustees, Mr Harkanwal Singh, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu and Mr Pasla, belonged to the Pasla faction. The faction threatened to launch a statewide agitation against the state government if its demands were not met at the earliest.


A kidnapping that was not
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 22
A case of kidnapping has turned out to be a hoax, a stunt played by a travel agent. A press note by DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill said today that Sital Kumar of nearby Chak Hakim village who was reported to have been kidnapped on May 18, was a travel agent who had enacted the drama of kidnapping to get those duped by him framed in the case.

Mr Gill said Sital Kumar's wife had lodged a complaint with the police that her husband had been kidnapped by three brothers Rakesh Kumar, Harbans Lal and Hans Raj of Mehama village, for a ransom of Rs 3 lakh. The brothers were nabbed under Sections 364 and 34, IPC. However, on investigation it was found that Sital Kumar, along with the travel agent Nand Lal, had defrauded Rakesh Kumar of Rs 3.5 lakh promising to send him to the USA. When his father demanded back the money the wife of the travel agent lodged a false complaint.

Inspector Bhupinder Singh, SHO, Sadar police, said Sital Kumar had been booked under Sections 420, 406, 120-B and 506, IPC, for duping Rakesh Kumar.

However, the case against the brothers stood intact.


Police helped distribute liquor in MC poll: Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
In a complaint to the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) CPI leader Satyapal Dang has said in certain wards candidates and their supporters distributed liquor with the help of the police to woo the voters during recently held corporation election here.

Mr Dang alleged that the CPI had sufficient proofs to substantiate its allegations that the police officials were responsible for helping certain candidates to distribute liquor.

The complaint of Mr Dang reads, “On the election day in Ward No. 34 ( booth No. 6) some men of a Congress candidate brought bottles of foreign liquor and policemen posted for the security of booth No 6, situated at gurdwara Chhehrta, were handed over the bottles, meant for the said booth.

This led to uproar at the election booth. People seized four bottles of liquor. With the result polling remained suspended for sometime”.

Mr Dang said though the distribution of liquor was a common sight in the previous elections but this time it was distributed with the help of the police and that too during the daytime. Mr Dang sought immediate steps by the Chief Election Commissioner to reform the system.


576 constables pass out of PAP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 22
A total of 576 constables of the 129th batch of Punjab Armed Police training centre participated in the passings-out parade held at PAP complex here today.

The Additional Director-General of Police, Mr R.S. Gill, inspected the parade and took salute. The constables belonged to the Indian Reserve Battalion, district police, commando wing and PAP.

Mr Gill in his address said the Punjab police had set a tradition for the rest of the country by eliminating terrorism from the state.

Mr P.K. Uppal, SP, Training, read the training report. He said keeping in view the present scenario in the country, the recruits were imparted special training to control mobs.

“The constables are given training to operate automatic and semi-automatic weapons. Besides, they were trained to handle obstacle crossing and field tactics,” Mr Uppal added.


ISI agent arrested
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 22
The police has arrested an alleged Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) operative and recovered some confidential documents from him.

According to police sources, they received a tip off that a person would be passing through a certain part of the city and would be carrying sensitive papers with him which were detrimental to national security. The accused was nabbed near Giaspura while he was on his way to allegedly fax the secret documents. On sustained interrogation, he revealed his name as Palwinder Singh, alias Billa, alias Pinka, a resident of Dauke village in Amritsar. He said he had arrived in the city some months ago and had been asked by his Pakistani handlers to take photographs and get maps of defence installations of the area and pass on to them. He said he had come in contact with some smugglers of his native place — which borders Pakistan — and joined their gang which brought over consignments of drugs and other contraband. During this time, he came in contact with certain ISI officials who lured him to spy for them.


16 kiosks, shop gutted

Hoshiarpur, May 22
Sixteen kiosks and a shop were gutted at Talwara township early this morning.

Official reports here said there was no loss of life as the kiosks and the shop were closed. The loss suffered by the owners of the kiosks and the shop was being assessed.

A short circuit in one of the kiosks is believed to be the cause of the fire. UNI


Ultrasound machines seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The district health authorities today raided Rana Nursing Home, run by Dr Paramjit Singh and Dr Amarjit Kaur. The nursing home authorities could not produce any records regarding the ultra sound machine.

The department also recovered one portable machine belonging to Dr S. P. Singh of Fatehgarh Churian road. The Civil Surgeon, Mr K. K. Sharma, said more inspections of ultra sound centres using decoys would be held in the district.


Amritsar MC Commissioner bereaved
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
Mr Mohinder Singh (70), father of Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, died at his residence in SAS Nagar of cardiac arrest. He is survived by wife, two sons and two daughters.

Mr Mohinder Singh was a government contractor and took part in a number of social activities. His cremation will take place tomorrow at the cremation ground, Sector 25, Chandigarh, at 11 a.m. The body will be taken for cremation from Kothi No. 4, Phase III, Sector 60, SAS Nagar.


Labourer buried alive
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 22
A labourer belonging to Uttar Pradesh was buried alive under a mound of earth while digging for a tubewell at Kishanpura village, under Dharamkot police station, in the district yesterday.

Twentytwo labourers have already lost their alive like this in the district.

The families of the deceased labourers have asked for compensation from the administration.


PSEB moots Rs 2 per unit for agriculture
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has recommended to the Electricity Tariff Regulartory Authority Rs 2 per unit as charges for power supply to the agricultural sector. The Chairman of the board, Mr Sudhir Mittal, while addressing mediapersons here today, said in case the authority agreed to rationalise the tariff proposals mooted by the baord, it would eara an additional revenue of Rs 2700 crore annually and would improve its financial position.

He, however, opined that the proposal could be reviewed by the authority. He added that in case the state government decided to subsidise the farm sector, the difference in the tariff would have to be compensated by the government.

Mr Mittal said the government had given financial assistance to the tune of Rs 340 crore as compensation for agriculture last year. The rationale behind free power, he said, was a political decision.

The PSEB Chairman announced that the baord was going in for inatalling meters at all feeders in the state for ‘energy audit’ and accounting. This step would help determine theft and losses.

In the second phase, the board would install similar meters at all transformers. He added that by 2007, the board would save more than Rs 2000 crore lost due to theft and losses.

The PSEB Chairman ruled out privatisation of the board and said he would aspire to improve the efficiency of power suply. He added that with the proposal of revision of power tariff lying with the ragulatory authority tariff on all categories would be raised minimally.

The PSEB had decided to ‘dismiss’ any employees found involved in theft of power with immediate effect and also to penalise the offending consumers by imposing heavy fines and disconnecting supply.

Mr Mital assured the farming community that as per the directions of the Chief Minister, the board would provide 80 hours of continuous/power supply from June 1 for the paddy sowing season.

Talking about the arrears, the Chairman said the board was saddled with Rs 200 crore as outstanding amount. He hoped the PSEB would recover it through various schemes for consumers.


Gurcharan Singh takes over as Director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
Dr Gurcharan Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture (Hydrogeology), today took over as Director of Agriculture, Punjab.

He has been given current duty charge, as due to a writ petition, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in its May 1 orders has directed that the post of Director may not be filled on a regular basis.

As such, Dr Gurcharan Singh will work in his own pay scale and without any extra remuneration, as an interim measure, says the order passed by the Financial Commissioner, Development, Mr P.K. Verma.


DC: disconnect illegal water connections
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 22
Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, here has directed the district Public Health Department to disconnect all unauthorised water connections and impose restrictions on the use of motor fitted on water taps in the district to ensure uninterrupted water supply to the local residents.

He said he had got complaints that about 12,000 connections were functioning against the sanctioned 8,000 which were causing great problem to the residents of New Cantt Road, Bazigar Basti, Bhan Singh, Puri and Teacher Colonies.


24-hr power supply for border villages soon
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 22
The Punjab Government has envisaged a special scheme to provide 24-hour uninterrupted power supply to all villages falling within 16-km radius of the Indo-Pakistan border in the state and no security amount will be required to be deposited for the same.

Information in this regard was given by Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLA and Political Adviser to the Chief Minister, who along with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari, the SSP, Mr P.K. Sinha, and other senior civil and police officials toured various villages, including Chat Sarkar, Gatti Rahimke, Gajniwala and Dona Maral, situated along the international border in the Mamdot sector.

He listened to the grievances of residents of these villages and promised to redress them on priority basis. The villagers are facing great ordeal as mines have been deployed in the fields by the Army. While exhorting the villagers to provide all sorts of assistance to the Army, he praised them for their courage and perseverance.

While addressing a conference in Mamdot, Mr Sodhi asked the people assembled there to come forward and reveal the names of government officials who were demanding bribe and resorting to unfair means.


Gazetteer released
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 22
Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), Punjab, released the first gazetteer of old Faridkot district comprising Moga and Muktsar in the presence of a large number of district officers, locals and heads of social organisations here today.

Consisting of 19 chapters, the volume depicts detailed information regarding historical and religious places, people, agriculture, industry, irrigation, banking, trade and commerce, communication, miscellaneous occupations, economic trades, general and revenue administration, law and order and justice, local self-government, education and culture, medical and public health service, places of interest and social services of the area. He said 11 districts had been covered under this programme.


Follow DC’s order on school timings’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 22
Ms Bhupinder Kaur, District Education Officer (Schools), said yesterday that the school timings in the district was between 7.30 a.m. to 11.30 am as per the orders of the Deputy Commissioner.

Confusion prevailed among the students and teachers due to different orders issued by the Education Minister and the Deputy Commissioner regarding the school timings. The order of the Deputy Commissioner had given the closing time for schools as 11.30 am whereas it was 12.30 pm as per the border of the minister. The opening time in both orders was same.

The DEO in her order has instructed all schools in the district to follow the orders of the Deputy Commissioner.


DC’s appeal to panchayats, political bodies
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 22
Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, has appealed to all panchyats, clubs and other political and religious bodies not to get his name printed on any invitation cards without his prior consent.

According to a press note, it has come to his notice that certain organisations were mentioning his name on invitation cards without any prior approval. According to him, when he does not attend such functions, it brings bad name to the administration, whereas the reality is that the administration is not aware of such functions.


Seat reservation clauses amended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The Punjab Government has amended certain clauses related to the reservation of seats for admission to the state’s medical, dental and ayurvedic colleges and paramedical courses for 2002.

The Minister for Health, Family Welfare, Medical Education and Research, Mr R.C. Dogra, said today that seats would now be reserved for children of freedom fighters and of November, 1984, riot-affected displaced persons and children of innocent persons killed or those who had suffered 100 per cent disability in terrorist violence or during operations by the security forces acting in aid of civil power.


Vikas Garg shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 22
The Punjab Government transferred Mr Vikas Garg, SDM, Malout, and posted him as Additional Deputy Commissioner, Roopnagar, against a vacant post.

Orders about the posting of the SDM, Malout, would be issued in due course.


7 held for theft of vehicles
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The Majitha police today claimed to have arrested seven persons who were allegedly involved in the theft of vehicles and recovered a car and two tractors from them in separate incidents. The police has also arrested 12 proclaimed offenders.

Addressing a press conference here today, Ms Shashi Prabha, district police chief, said the police, acting on a tip-off, apprehended Balraj Singh and Kashmir Singh of Terha Kalan village and Kothe village, respectively, during a naka. On interrogation, they revealed that an inter-state gang of thieves headed by Pappldeep was operating in Delhi and Uttar Pradesh.

In another incident, the police arrested Jagtar Singh and Surjit Singh of Sourhian village and Birbalpura, respectively. Both had stolen a tractor at gunpoint from the farmhouse of Shashi Sen of Birbalpura. On the basis of information provided by them, the police arrested Kala Masih and Sukhwinder Singh of Bibalpura and Dharamkot, respectively, who were also involved in the robbery. The police recovered two tractors from Major Singh of Gandiwind, while his accomplice, Gurvail Singh of Kanwan village, fled the spot, leaving the tractor behind. The arrested person confessed that the two of them had stolen the tractors from Pathankot.

Meanwhile, the Beas police has seized 2 kg of opium from Gurdev Singh of Rangarh Nangal, near Dharampur, during a naka.

The 12 proclaimed offenders arrested, including a woman, are Lakhbir Singh of Mianwind, Satnam Singh of Mattewal, Didar Singh of Baba Bakala, Sawinder Singh of Mianpur, Vijay Kumar of Cheel Mandi, Harjinder Singh of Cheema Bath, Gurnam Singh of Kathunangal, Nirender Kaur of Raipur, Ninder Singh of Cheema Bath, Harjinder Singh of Chummo, Amandip Singh of Khatarai Kalan, Hira Singh of Kamalpura and Rajwant Singh of Raipur Kalan. Harjinder Singh of Chummo was wanted by the police in a murder case while the rest were wanted in cases relating to fraud, clashes and possession of illicit liquor.


Principal’s posts to be filled by May 31: Rattan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 22
The state government has decided to fill all vacancies of principals in government colleges by May 31 which have been lying vacant for a long time.

This assurance was given by Mr N.S. Rattan, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, and DPI Nisha Shard to a deputation of the Punjab Government College Teachers Association today.

A press note here today stated that studies in government colleges had been affected due to a large number of vacancies of Principals which could not be filled despite reminders. The association said the Principal Secretary Education, had also promised to accept all genuine demands of the teaching community.


B.Com III results tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 22
The results of B.Com part III examination of Guru Nanak Dev University will be declared on May 24. It will also be available on the same day on the university’s website,, according to a university press release today.

Meanwhile a spokesman for the university said the varsity had revised its schedule for summer-conditioning- coaching camp for various disciplines. The camps for girls of the university will be organised by the Sports Department of the university at Dharmsala from May 31 to June 10 while the coaching camp for men will be held from June 10 to 20 there.

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