Friday, May 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Border tension may act as damper
Panchayat samiti, zila parishad poll
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Name of the district No of ZP zones No of PS zones




















































*ZP — Zila Parishad; PS — Panchayat Samiti

Chandigarh, May 23
By June 9, more than 90 per cent of the total electorate in the state would have exercised their right to franchise for the second successive time since the Assembly elections in February this year.

While nearly 25 lakh electors participated in the recently concluded Municipal Corporation elections in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala, another 1.20 lakh electors will cast their votes in the panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections to be held on June 9 throughout the state.

Since there have been large-scale complaints of deletion of names of genuine persons from the electoral rolls, the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, has already ordered the fresh registration of left-out voters between May 19 and 25.

The panchayat samitis and zila parishads in Punjab have long outlived their terms. Their constitutional terms expired in October, 1999. The previous Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party government kept on postponing fresh elections on one plea or the other.

Under the Constitution — as per the 73rd and 74th Amendments — the terms of any of the grassroots level bodies — gram panchayats, nagar panchayats, nagar councils, municipal councils, municipal corporations, block samitis, panchayat samitis and zila parishads — can neither be extended nor shortened.

Though the new Congress government in Punjab, on the pretext of economy, wanted to advance the gram panchayat elections, it has been challenged in the Punjab and Haryana High Court where the petitioners have maintained that democratically elected bodies cannot be put on the altar in the name of economy. Arguments on the petition are being heard by the Bench daily.

This time the Congress government has decided to go in for direct elections against the previous provision of 60 per cent direct and 40 per cent from amongst gram panchayats and block samitis. The SAD-BJP government amended this clause to make it 70:30 which was later struck down by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The only probable damper on the June 9 elections is the escalation of tension along the Indo-Pak border.

The Congress government in the State was keen on holding of gram panchayat, block samiti, panchayat samiti, zila parishad and municipal corporation elections before the start of the Budget session from June 11. While the municipal corporation elections have been completed, the gram panchayat and block samiti elections have been the subject of a legal battle. The panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections, too, will be completed before the start of the Budget session on June 11.

The State Election Commission has already directed the state government not to order fresh postings and transfers in the wake of the coming panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections.

At one stage the State Election Commission was toying with the idea of using electronic voting machines and holding all four — gram panchayat, block samiti, panchayat samiti and zila parishad — elections simultaneously for which it would have required 52,000 electronic voting machines against 23,000 EVMs used in the Vidhan Sabha elections in February this year.

The reason given for this large number of EVMs was that at the polling station, the commission would have put a minimum of four machines for the conduct of the four elections simultaneously.

Later, it was decided to hold these elections in two phases — gram panchayats and block samitis in one phase and panchayat samitis and zila parishads in the other, thus limiting the requirement of EVMs to 26,000 for each phase.

But the Election Commission of India does not appear to appreciate the idea of allowing the use of its EVMs for elections to local bodies. As such, the State Election Commission is going ahead with the traditional ballot paper-based polling.

The panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections would cost about Rs 6 crore, sources in the State Election Commission said.



BJP against holding parishad poll now
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab unit of the BJP today submitted a memorandum to the Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), requesting him to direct the state government not to hold the elections to the block samitis and zila parishads keeping in the view the tense situation on the international border.

Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, a former BJP Minister, and Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the party, at a joint press conference said that the state government appeared to be “unmindful” of the serious situation on the border. The government was keen on turning the temporary political climate, that was in its favour, into electoral gains by holding elections to grassroots rural bodies.

He said that instead of holding the elections, the state government should boost the morale of people settled in the border belt and prepare them to contribute the maximum to help the defence forces deployed in the border areas.

Raising another significant issue in its memorandum, the BJP drew the attention of the Governor to the ongoing probe into the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam. It appeared that high-ups in the government were working overtime to hush up the cases of certain VIPs involved in the scandal. The BJP said that if the investigation ended in a fiasco, the faith of people in the government would be shattered. The Governor was requested to direct the government to hold a probe in a fair manner and punish the VIPs concerned.

In a separate memorandum, the BJP drew the attention of the Governor to the deteriorating law and order situation in the state. During a three-month period the situation on the law and order front had worsened. An era of political murders had started in the state with the gunning down of Akali leader Gurdial Singh and his associates in Bhikhiwind. But the Chief Minister had given a clean chit to his Minister without holding any inquiry into the case.

The BJP stated that there could be danger to peace in the existing situation. It alleged that the government was functioning in a partisan manner. The government had let loose repression on its political opponents. BJP workers were beaten up during the recen elections to the Municipal Corporations. Cases were registered against them while Congressmen involved in these incidents were left untouched by the police.

The party asked the Governor to tell the Chief Minister to identify the culprits involved in the attacks on BJP activists and arrest them. It took certain BJP workers, who had been “beaten up” by Congressmen, to Raj Bhavan today to parade them before the Governor, it is learnt.


Langah has 73 shops in Dhariwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Former Punjab PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah, facing Vigilance probe, also owns two houses in Chandigarh, 73 shops in Langah Market in Dhariwal (Gurdaspur) and four buses in Gurdaspur, a Press note of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau said here tonight.

These properties are in addition to the list of properties released by the Bureau earlier.

The Bureau claimed that Mr Sucha Singh Langah owned H. No 425, Sector 45 which otherwise was registered in the name of one Ms Varinder Kaur. Other house is 3191 in Sector 44-D which is in his own name.

The Bureau said that the former PWD Minister has four buses which operate in the name of Deol Transport Company.

From among those arrested in this case, Amrik Singh Mohali confessed to having taken Rs one lakh from Mr N.P Singh, SDO for his transfer. He also reportedly confessed to having accepted Rs one lakh each from SEs Tikam Chand and TS Gill, Executive Engineers Virdi and Har Ashok.

Amrik Singh Mohali owns a palatial house in phase II of SAS Nagar, one industrial plot measuring 2500 square yards and two cars.

Other person arrested in the case Gurcharan Singh, alias Channi, of Jalandhar, also confessed having accepted Rs one lakh from SDO Rajinder Singh; and Rs 1.5 lakh from contractor Kulwinder Singh.

He owns a palatial house in SAS Nagar, one industrial plot of 2500 squar yards and two cars.

Pradeep Bhuteja, who constructed eight godowns at Jagraon at a cost of Rs 3 crores has also been arrested in the case.He used to handle all ill-gotten money of Sucha Singh Langah.

Another person arrested in the case — Vinod Kumar Garg — was the one in whose name Sucha Singh Langah had reportedly purchased 80 acres of land at Sukrate village in Dhar Kalan tehsil in Gurdaspur district.

The Vigilance Bureau has also arrested Kamaljit Singh, alias Nittu, from Patiala, reportedly who had been acting as a tout of Sucha Singh Langah and took Rs 10 lakh from Shamshe Singh Jakhu for his promotion as Chief Engineer, Rs 10 lakh from Executive Engineer Mintu of Sangrur, Rs 5 lakh from JP Chander of Sangrur; Rs 2 lakh from SE Sekhon, Rs 5 lakh from CE Sarbjit Singh, Rs 50,000 from SDO Sonni Saagur and Rs 3.5 lakh from Surinder Mittal for getting their work done from Sucha Singh Langah, the Vigilance Bureau Press note said.

Meanwhile, Sucha Singh Langah has been served a notice to surrender by May 25, the press note said.


Seized gold deposited in treasury
Tribune news Service

Ropar, May 23
The local Vigilance DSP, Mr Sarup Singh, today deposited a sealed packet, containing about 833 grams of gold ornaments recovered from the bank locker of Tarinder Kaur wife of Amrik Singh Mohali, a confidant of the former PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah, in the District Treasury Office here.

The gold ornaments have been deposited in the treasury on the orders of a Kharar court. A few days ago, the Kharar court had ordered the vigilance authorities to break open the bank locker of Tarinder Kaur. Amrik Singh Mohali is in police custody till May 24 in a case related to assets disproportionate to the known sources of income of Langah.


Cong leader acted as Sidhu contact?
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
A former general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) may be holding key to certain missing links in the multi-crore recruitment scandal centering round disgraced Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission Ravi Sidhu. However, according to sources he may not be implicated in the case given his proximity to some senior AICC leaders in Delhi.

It is learnt that the leader, who has Ludhiana connections also, has a house in Sector 10 of Chandigarh.

Mr Sidhu is reported to have made his first call to the leader after his arrest from the hospital. It is said that he also paid the medical bills of Mr Sidhu after the latter’s arrest for medical investigations. The leader is learnt to have purchased a spacious house in Bhai Randhir Singh Nagar here also about two years ago.

Sources say that given his proximity to a senior AICC leader from Madhya Pradesh, he is unlikely to be implicated in the case, but his questioning is not ruled out. While most of Sidhu's friends and associates severed all links with him, the Congress leader is believed to be among the few who is still standing by Sidhu.


Talwandi abstains from PAC meeting
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 23
The former SGPC chief and senior vice-president of the SAD, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi today stayed away from the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) meeting of the party. His family sources said, Mr Talwandi could not attend the meeting held at Chandigarh since he was “not keeping well”.

However, considerable significance is being attached in political circles to his absence from today's PAC meeting in the backdrop of reports that Mr Talwandi is distancing himself from the party and its President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and coming closer to the Sarb Hind Akali Dal (SHAD) chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Sources close to the two leaders revealed that Mr Talwandi and Mr Tohra were gradually coming close to each other and had already held several rounds of meetings. Only yesterday, Mr Talwandi and Mr Tohra met at former's residence here in the evening. Both leaders had a one-to-one meeting which lasted for over an hour. The meeting was another in a series which the two leaders have held so far but are being kept as a closely guarded secret.

Although the details of the meeting were not available, they are said to be trying to create a rebellion within the SAD and channelise the dissidence in the party. Both Mr Tohra and Mr Talwandi, who have to settle their own scores with Mr Badal are reportedly trying hard to create division in the party.

Cornered and conscious of the fact that a number of Akali leaders have taken an ambiguous stand against the Congress-led government in the state over its campaign against some former Akali ministers, Mr Badal is reportedly finding himself alone in his battle against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Even some senior leaders who enjoyed the spoils of power along with Mr Badal during his regime are not prepared to stand by him fearing witch hunt and reprisals from the Congress government.

Mr Tohra and Mr Talwandi may create problems for Mr Badal by trying to create divisions among the party legislators and also among the SGPC members. The sources said, it was too early to say anything as yet, particularly when the "patch up" between Mr Tohra and Mr Talwandi itself was in early stages only. However, there is one consolation for Mr Badal that Mr Talwandi's son, Mr Ranjit Talwandi continues to swear his loyalty to him and may even try to motivate his father (Mr Jagdev Talwandi) to desist from any extreme step.


Senior SAD leader quits party
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today suffered a setback when senior Akali leader and former secretary of the party, Mr Manjit Singh Tarn Tarani, today resigned from the primary membership of the party.

Giving reasons for quitting the party, Mr Tarn Tarani said the letters written by Mr Badal to the Prime Minister for recommending the name of Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, the tainted PPSC chief for membership of the UPSC had shown the real motives of the party President. He said during his tenure as Chief Minister, Mr Badal had failed to check corruption which had assumed alarming proportions. He further alleged that huge moveable and immovable properties, amassed by the Cabinet colleagues of Mr Badal, unearthed by the Vigilance Bureau was an eye opener for every body.

Mr Tarn Tarani who had close relations with Akali stalwarts like Master Tara Singh, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal said Mr Badal preferred to promote his family at the cost of Akali workers. In his resignation letter to Mr Badal, Mr Tarn Tarani said there was hardly any former Akali minister who was not endeavouring to get anticipatory bail. Corruption had surpassed all records, during the regime of Mr Badal, he alleged.

Mr Tarn Tarani, however, appreciated the drive launched by Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister against corruption and urged Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, to take full command of the Panth.


Customs men destroy opium fields
Inter-state smuggling racket detected
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 23
Opium, which is being illegally cultivated in terrorist-infested valleys of Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pradesh, has been finding its way to Punjab through truck drivers. With the result, the beautiful valleys which were considered “heaven on earth” are fast becoming “heaven for drug smugglers”.

Acting on a tip-off, the Amritsar Commissionerate, which has jurisdiction over Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, found opium was being cultivated in a camouflage manner in the beautiful valleys. Though the Customs officials destroyed the plants in many parts of the troubled state, yet through satellite imagery, it was found that some areas are inaccessible for the sleuths.

Mr P.S. Pruthi, Additional Commissioner, Customs, informed that the department had written to the state governments concerned to help for destroying the plantation in such areas. Mr Pruthi said after an extensive survey by the Customs Department in Jammu and Kashmir, some villages in Anantnag and Pulwama districts were identified where illegal cultivation of opium was first detected. Some of it was in plots as big as 25,000 square yards. The poppy was purposely grown in between thick foliage of grass, mustard crop, vegetable plants so as to camouflage and conceal it.

After having identified these areas, it was considered prudent to nip the evil in the bud by destroying the plantation. Accordingly, an operation to destroy the plantation was carried out by a team of 25 Customs officials with the assistance of ITBP and Rashtriya Rifles. Land area measuring 700 kanals was cleared from this illegal plantation. Out of this, 242 kanals fell in Marhaama, Sirhama, Mehant, Shalljul, Waghana and Wapsun villages of Anantnag district and 460 kanals in Litter, Agler, Zainapora, Baba Pora, Rishi Pora, Nagbal, Mirza Pora, Lethi Pora, Imam Sahib, Hellow, Dachhu, Chitrangam, Galandhar, Banzoo, Nayar, Aripora, Gulzarpora, Rangil, Tumal Hall, Postung and Chursoo villages in Pulwama district.

The operation is significant as the districts in Kashmir where opium plantation has been destroyed are terrorist-infested. The Kulu valley in Himachal Pradesh has gained notoriety for the cultivation of cannabis but now illegal cultivation of opium poppy has spread its tentacles in this beautiful valley as well.

Mr Pruthi said in certain areas, people themselves destroyed the poppy plants before the Custom sleuths could nab them for this illegal cultivation.


Five-year leave under self-employment scheme
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Punjab Government employees can now serve in the private sector or even start a private enterprise of their own, and all this while they are in service. Announcing a special five-year leave option to all its employees who have served the state for more than eight years, the Punjab Government will be giving this employees the option of rejoining duty in case they fail in the private venture. In case the employees decide to continue with their self-employment, they will be granted premature retirement from the state services with all benefits included.

A recent circular to all heads of offices throughout the state has laid down the various terms and conditions of this leave offer made by the government under the ‘self-employment scheme’.

The special leave for self employment will be for a minimum period of three years extendible to five. The employees cannot reduce the leave period from three years and will not be given any extension of leave beyond five years. The circular also states that the employees while on this special leave should not misuse their position in government service for starting private enterprise or getting a job in the private sector.

While such employees are on leave, no other person will be kept in their place. The government has also allowed the employees to take out 75 per cent of their GPF to start their own business.

There are a large number of other details which have been laid down regarding the categories of employees who can avail this option and those who cannot. The circular also lays down the various categories of employees who will be given permission from different heads of department to be allowed to avail this special leave.

Government servants in Punjab are the highest paid government servants in the country, including the employees of the Central Government and its foreign service. However, the time has come for these employees to prove that what they earn from the government, it will be possible for them to earn that outside in the private sector or in an autonomous organisation or through a business of their own, including trying their luck at a job outside the country. And for those who do not find the grass greener on the other side in these three years, will be welcome back or at least this is what the circular promises.

The immediate benefit to the government would be in terms of a drastically reduced salary bill because it hopes that many of its employees, disgruntled by the so-called meager government pay and the so-called bad working conditions might want to try their hands at some other economic enterprise.


Border villagers gear up as war clouds hover
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, May 23
With the war clouds hovering once again, the panic-stricken residents of the villages situated along the Indo-Pakistan border are gearing up to face any eventuality. But this time, the mood is “do or die”. As on earlier occasions, they are not abandoning their homes due to the fear of war, but are ready for any situation.

“Enough is enough. For how much time we can be sitting like this, waiting for things to improve?” asks a resident of Gatti Rajoke village, close to the international border. For him and many more living under the shadow of guns, the war is already on since December 13 attack on the Parliament house.

A visit to the Gatti Rajoke, Hazara Singh, Jhuge, Bhakra, Chandiwala, Khunder Gatti, Habibi Ke, Bhokhra and Alike villages situated along the zero line revealed that the villagers want it to be over as soon as possible.

Although the district administration and the Army authorities are leaving no stone unturned to ameliorate their hardships, there seems to be no end to their ordeal. Today, Deputy Commissioner D.K. Tiwari and SSP P.K. Sinha visited these border villages to boost the morale of the people, assuring them of all possible assistance and safety measures. Mr Tiwari said the administration had made arrangements to tackle any sort of situation emerging out of the present scenario. He said motor boats and paddle boats had been arranged to evacuate the residents of 22 colonies situated across the Sutlej on the border, if the need arises.

He said attempts were being made to provide the remaining compensation to the border residents whose fields had been spoiled due to installation of mines by the Army. Relief camps had been established and cattlefeed was being arranged, he added.

Mr Sinha said special police posts were being established in various villages so that any information could be communicated through wireless sets.

Mr Satnam Singh, a former sarpanch of Chandiwala village, said the villagers were ready to face any situation and the morale was high. He said that if need arises, every villager would support the Army.

In some villages, the residents could be seen helping Army personnel in their work. Army movement has been intensified and patrolling has also been augmented along the fence. As per certain unconfirmed reports, shoot-at-sight orders have been given to prevent any attempt of infiltration from across the border.

Mr Surjit Singh of village Jhuge Hazara Singhwala asserted that in case of need, they would fight till the last drop of their blood.

The Civil Hospital authorities have been told to keep adequate stock of all type of medicines and first-aid equipment. The doctors have been asked not to go on leave. 


Fire destroys crops on 500 acres

Attari (Amritsar), May 23
A fire which probably erupted following explosions triggered by landmines along the Zero-line on Pakistani side late last night destroyed crops over 500 acres even as no casualty had been reported.

Initially unable to comprehend what was happening, but when the flames reached their thatched houses, villagers rushed out to find that a blaze from across the border was spreading.

Within minutes, the whole village started appearing lurid with many temporary hutments and ground level tubewells in the fields being reduced to ashes in the conflagration, eyewitness accounts said.

The inferno played havoc with my mango garden and I could do nothing except being a helpless spectator. Efforts to put out the fire were adversely thwarted by the sporadic mining of the garden, one of the affected farmer said.

Residents of Bachhwind and Mulakot village complained that their heavy stock of wheat gutted in the firing from across the border.

Villagers who were witness to the scenes told mediapersons that fire erupted last night in the Pakistan fields exactly at the Zero- line, which soon went out of control to engulf the fields along the Indian territory. Though no casualty was reported but the flames caused the blowing of dozens of landmines on the Indian side.

Conservative estimates put the crop loss around 500 acres of land.

Pakistan villages from where the fire originated are Dhati-Kheda, Bhareen, Bisma and Bahsin. As per the villagers of Phul-Ala and Chuck-Allahbaksh, one could easily witness the fire engines trying hard to control the turbulent fire at Pakistan side. PTI


MC refuses action against indicted employees
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 23
The Municipal Council has declined to take departmental action against the employees indicted by the auditors of the Local Funds Department for alleged embezzlement of Rs 1.54 lakh in recovery of water and sewerage tax.

The council at its meeting here last evening resolved to return the communication received from the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board in this regard, with comments that the employees of the council were on deputation with the board for more than two years. The fraud, if any, had been committed there. It was therefore the responsibility of the board to take action against the guilty.

Some councillors demanded that the SDE of the board should be sacked for not keeping a vigilant eye on erring staff. The fraud had been detected by the auditors after two years and the SDE had no knowledge of it, they resented.

The members present at the meeting foiled a move by the council president Babu Ram Arya to get his action approved by the House.

He had passed an order to file a suit against an employee in February on the eve of the Assembly elections. The state government had issued a show-cause notice to Mr Arya, holding him responsible for misusing powers in this case.

Members were of the view that the president must face action for his wrongdoing. An unpleasant situation developed when the president sought confirmation of the minutes of the proceedings of the last meeting. It was pointed out that the Deputy Director, Local Government, had stayed resolutions passed at that meeting on the basis of complaints, alleging tampering and violation of norms and rules.

A senior member of the ruling BJP said the president was incompetent and the members could not provide him any cover at their own cost. They took strong exception to shifting of the Central Octroi Office to Malout road, allegedly without written orders. As the president denied the allegations and the executive officer was on leave, the House resolved to get the office shifted back to the Water Works Complex.


4 councillors complain to CM
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 23
Four local Municipal Councillors, Ms Krishna Devi Bholi, Ms Amarjeet Kaur, Mr Prem Sagar Bhola and Mr Harpal Singh Pali, in a written complaint to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, have accused the Municipal Council chief, Mansa of mortgaging the bus stand and New Sabzi Mandi to raise a loan of Rs 1 crore from the local branch of Oriental Bank of Commerce. They said previously the council had raised a loan from the bank for the purchase of a car, but could not repay the same. Now the account has been cleared to get fresh loan from the bank.

They said the annual budget of the council was Rs 3.71 crore against an expenditure of Rs 3.66 crore. They said the council was yet to pay Rs 75 lakh to the contractors for various works and Rs 80 lakh towards the provident fund of its employees. The monthly pay bill of the employees was Rs 14 lakh and other monthly expenses, including electricity bill, was Rs 6 lakh, while the monthly income of the council was Rs 18 lakh from octroi and other sources, they added.

They further said the council was yet to pay Rs 5 crore to the World Bank, Rs 4 crore to HUDCO, Rs 35 lakh to the Cotton Corporation of India and Rs 10 lakh to the Municipal Council, Mandi Gobindgarh.

They asked the Chief Minister not to allow the council to raise any loan. The council chief, Mr Pawan Kumar Matti, said the council had already repaid the loan of Rs 4 crore of HUDCO. The council had permission of the Director, Local Bodies, Punjab, to raise the loan, he added.


Dang alleges scandal in Transport Office
Our Correspondent

Amritsar May 23
A terrorism-victim has alleged that his mini bus route permit was being used by an imposter who had forged the documents, allegedly in connivance with an official of the District Transport Office (DTO).

Mr Tejinder Kumar alleged that he had given his permit to a person on a power-of-attorney basis. However, someone had forged the documents with only his father's name differing in the fake document, it was found.

Consequently, an irregularity committed by the imposter using his permit, led to a peculiar situation wherein Tejinder was allegedly hauled up by the police for the crime, despite protests. He alleged that the police had been harassing him since then.

Following this, Mr Tejinder submitted a written representation in April to SSP Narinder Pal Singh. Veteran CPI leader Satya Pal Dang also took up the issue, suspecting that a scandal was on in the DTO.

The case was entrusted to DSP Param Pal Singh who is reported to have done some investigations which seemed to support the apprehensions of a scandal, claimed Mr Dang. The DSP was, however, transferred before he could complete his investigations.

In a letter to SSP Narinder Pal Singh, Mr Dang again expressed the apprehension of a scandal in the DTO Department. The SSP was not available for comments.


Govt set to ‘weed out corruption’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 23
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA and General Secretary of the PPCC, said the Congress government in the state was trying for the revival of sick industrial units, diversification of agriculture and improvement in economy. He was talking to mediapersons here today. He said to bring the state back on right track, weeding out of corruption from government machinery was necessary. The MLA said the campaign against corruption was most successful, but much had to be done to eliminate the menace of corruption.

Replying to a question, he said various high-level committees had been constituted to improve the economy, diversify agriculture and revive the sick industrial units. He said a comprehensive plan for the development of rural and urban areas had been prepared.

Replying to another question he said the posting of a non-technical officer as Director, Agriculture, was a temporary arrangement and the regular Director would be appointed from among agricultural technocrats.

Excise Minister conducts raid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab Minister for Excise and Taxation, Mr Sardul Singh, today paid a surprise visit to the Shambu barrier, where he found an inspector absent from duty and also sought disciplinary action against four policemen who were allegedly indulging in malpractices.

This was stated by the Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Suresh Kumar, who had accompanied the Minister to Shambu at 7 a.m. The Additional ETC, Mr Krishan Kumar, was also present.

The Minister saw a long line of trucks awaiting clearance at the Information Collection Centre (ICC) and desired that more windows be opened to clear the rush quickly. There are four windows, two for import and two for export purposes. Only one was functioning in the morning. He also checked the cash register.


Appointment of Tota Singh’s son: probe sought
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 23
The former secretary of the Samajwadi Janata Party, Mr Krishan Aneja, has in a complaint to the Punjab Government, demanded a probe into the circumstances under which Balwinder Singh, a son of former Education Minister Tota Singh, was given a high post in the Punjab Pollution Board when he did not have the requisite qualifications. 

Mr Aneja alleged that all other applicants with requisite qualification were ignored.


PSEB fixes supply timings
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 23
The PSEB has fixed the timings of all 14 main power substations to ensure uninterrupted power supply for agricultural purpose in the district with immediate effect. The board has set 3.30 p.m. to 6.30 p.m. for the day supply and 1 p.m. to 5 a.m. for the night.

Under this programme, 132 kv substation Kotkapura I will cover Dheemawali, Panjgrain and Nanaksar village during the day hours while Maur and Kuharwala will be taken up in night. Similarly, Kotkapura substation II will cover Dhilwan Kalan and Deviwala villages during day and night, respectively. 132 kv station Panjgrain Kalan will cover Aulakh village in day group and Kothe Theh and Panjgrain Kalan in night. Jhakharwala, Saidasinghwala and Doad villages will be taken up under day programme and Maluka and Dabrikhana during night timings by Bajakhana substation.

Stating this here today, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, said 33kv substation at Jaitu would cover waterworks and Pind Guru Ki Dhab under day programme and Matta and Bisnandi in night. Sandhwan and Samalsar power houses will cover Sikhanwala and Sekhan Kalan villages in night, respectively.

Similarly, Wara Kishanpura and Faridkot 33kv substations will cover Rameana and Bhana during day timings whereas Dhudi, Tehna and Veerawala villages will be given power supply under night programme by both power stations.

Mr Prasad said that Golewala substation would cover Sainwala, Beguwala and Dulewala during day timings whereas Hardialana, Pipli, Kabalwala, Rajowala and Arayianwala villages would be taken up at night by the same substation. 132kv Faridkot substation will cover Kilanau during day time whereas Ahal and Saideke will be covered under day and night system, respectively, by 66kv substation Deep Singh Wala. 132 substation Sadiq will provide power to Kauni, Jand Sahib, Sangrahur and Kingra in the day period whereas Bhehlewala, Sadhuwala, Mahmuana, Doad and Mani Singh Wala will be taken up under night programme. 


Members of rival groups clash
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 23
Tension prevailed here last evening following a clash between some followers of a religious place of Noormahal and some members of the Khalsa panchayat on the issue of distribution of some handbills criticising the working of a religious head of Noormahal dera.

Interestingly, though some followers of the Noormahal dera allegedly beat up mercilessly Baghel Singh, a Khalsa panchayat member, his wife and their 10-year-old son at Mr Baghel Singh’s residence when a blind follower of the dera, Harpaul Kaur, along with others, went to his house and objected to the distribution of these handbills, but the Phillaur police registered a case against Baghel Singh under Sections 295A and 323, IPC, and arrested him. Baghel Singh and his family members have alleged that Harpaul Kaur and her accomplices attacked them at their residence. They alleged that the police supported the followers of Noormahal dera as many police officers of the local Punjab Police Academy were also followers of the Noormahal dera.

Meanwhile, on the call of the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Mehta), a meeting of the Shiromani Akali Dal, SHSAD, Akali Dal (Amritsar), Khalsa panchayat and Shri Sukhmani Sewa Society was held under the presidentship of Mr Sarabjit Singh. The meeting gave a 72 hours’ ultimatum to the Phillaur police to withdraw the “false” case registered against Baghel Singh and release him immediately. The meeting threatened to intensify its struggle if the demands were not met.


Settle row over Bhindranwale’s death: AISSF
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 23
Even after 18 years of Operation Bluestar, the controversy over the death of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale refuses to die down.

The All-India Sikh Students Federation (AISSF), led by Mr Manjit Singh Bhooma, has once again approached the Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti for making an announcement about the death of Sant Bhindranwale from Akal Takht on the “ghallughara day” falling on June 6. The announcement from Akal Takht would help nullify the claim of a section of the Sikhs who believed that Sant Bhindranwale was still alive.

Mr Manjit Singh Bhooma, President, AISSF, has appealed that any objections by the Damdami Taksal could be accepted after proof of the existence of the sant is presented at Akal Takht by the claimants. Mr Manjit further stated that last year during this time, proofs of death of the sant were published in various English and Punjabi dailies, besides the confessions of Mr Apaur Singh Bajwa, an SP, at the time had admitted to having attended the cremation of the sant.

Mr Manjit reminded the Jathedar that last year too an announcement was made to this effect, but nothing concrete had happened.

Meanwhile, some radical Sikh organisations are expected to join the issue and may approach the Akal Takht Jathedar and the SGPC chief to declare Sant Bhindranwale dead.


Sikh body appeals for unity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 23
Expressing concern over the alleged politicising of the SGPC, Baba Hakam Singh, vice-president of the Sampardaya Karsewa Sarhali Sahib, has appealed the Sikhs to be united in the forthcoming general elections of the SGPC.

Addressing a press conference here today, Baba Hakam Singh alleged that the SGPC had forgotten its “maryada” and was influenced by political leaders as a results, the Pakistan Sikh Gurudwara Prabhandhak Committee had come into existence. The historic gurudwaras of Delhi had already been running under a separate committee and the Sikhs of Haryana had decided to constitute a new committee in this regard, he observed. He also expressed concern over the alleged corruption in the SGPC. 


HC order to SSP on petitioner’s letter
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 23
Treating a letter addressed to a judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court as a criminal writ petition, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel has directed the SSP, Muktsar, to look into the petitioner’s grievances within a month of the petitioner approaching to him (SSP).

Madan Lal Gupta, a Malout-based correspondent of a leading vernacular, had submitted in his letter that Arun Jot Singh Sodhi of the same town, had allegedly attacked the petitioner in April 2001 when he was going on his bicycle. The scribe immediately informed the police but only an entry was made in the “kalandran”, no FIR was registered.

Gupta brought this to the notice of senior police officers at the district and divisional headquarters but still no FIR was registered nor the person rounded up for investigation. He then wrote to Mr Justice, M.L. Singhal, giving details of the incident and police inaction.


Pool a victim of official apathy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
The swimming pool in the local Civil Lines which is maintained by the Municipal Council is yet to start functioning.

According to sources, the motors used to fill the pool have been damaged due to poor maintenance. The pools at the local thermal plant and the cantonment are not open to use for members of the public.

Even if water is filled in the Civil Lines pool, it cannot be made functional due to the non-functioning of the water filtration project.

Mr B.D. Singla, Municipal Engineer, when contacted admitted that the electric motors were not functioning properly. He said these would be made functional soon.


Symposium on May 30
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 23
A national-level symposium on “Challenges to civil engineers in context of natural disasters” will be held on May 30 and 31 at the local GZS College of Engineering and Technology. This was stated in a press note issued here on Wednesday by the organising secretary, Dr Aradhana Mehta.

The aim of the symposium is to bring civil engineers on one platform to discuss the effects of natural calamities.


Punjab plans new water supply schemes
Tribune News Service

Ropar, May 23
The Punjab Government has drawn up a comprehensive plan to introduce new rural water supply schemes in 58 more villages in Ropar district at a cost of Rs 4.67 crore. These villages, till now did not have proper potable water supply.

This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, a Punjab minister, while inaugurating a Rs 42 lakh new rural water supply scheme at Goslan village near Kurali last evening.

Mr Kang also announced that the Punjab Government would cover all those villages under the new water supply schemes in the rural areas of the state, which had been facing scarcity of potable water till now.

He said the state government was committed to providing the basic amenity of potable drinking water to every person in the state, for which it would spend a huge amount in the near future. He appealed to people not to misuse water as the water table was going down day after day, leading to an alarming situation in the state.

Mr Kang said the state government planned to construct a new road from Kurali-Siswan to Baddi to link Punjab areas with Himachal Pradesh, directly.

Morinda town would soon have a dairy development and training centre to boost dairy business in the area. Unemployed youth, belonging to the farming community, would be provided training in dairy farming with modern techniques and ultra modern technology, he said.

The minister distributed cheques, worth Rs 20 lakh, under the MP local area fund schemes among 40 villages, including Kurali and Morinda, for various development works.

Mr R.L. Kauldhar, Executive Engineer, Public Health Department, SAS Nagar (Ropar) said the Goslan water supply scheme would provide potable drinking water to residents of Kalewal, Dhianpur, Chitamali and Goslan villages. 


Canal supply mooted for water problem
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
Canal water supply is the only solution for covering all 50 colonies in the city which are still without piped water supply and constitute around 45 per cent of the city’s population.

Talking to mediapersons here today Municipal Corporation Commissioner K.S. Kang said even though corporation had installed 19 new tubewells during the past two years, a large portion of the city was still not covered under piped water supply.

He said the colonies included those beyond Railway Crossing Number 22, near Tripri township, Sular village and Moti Bagh. He said though it would be a costly proposition, specially at the initial stages, yet canal supply could take care of the drinking water needs of the people efficiently.

Mr Kang said a survey showed that the water output of tubewells in the city was decreasing at the rate of 5,000 gallons per hour per day and that the water table had gone down in the city from 52 feet to 65 feet. He said the corporation was constructing eight recharging wells in the city so that the ground water could be replenished to some extent.

The Commissioner said, however, a special scheme was being instituted to deal with the water and sewerage problems in the city saying that a Rs 100 crore scheme had been chalked out and would be implemented in a phased manner. He said the scheme would take care of the water and sewerage needs of people living in the outer colonies which were without these facilities.

Mr Kang said keeping in view the need to treat sewerage and utilise the water so produced for watering lawns and other purposes, a special scheme was being envisaged under the development package worked out for the city by the new government. He said the package would also take into account the traffic congestion in the inner city and other present day traffic needs. 



Traffic violators to be penalised
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, May 23
Those who have incomplete papers of their vehicles or who are in habit of breaking traffic rules, should mend their ways as the district police is in a mood of taking stern action against such violators after May 31.

This was disclosed at a meeting organised at the local Red Cross Bhavan, by the SP (Headquarters), Mr Kishore Chand.

The meeting was convened to assess the implementation of the traffic rules in the district.

Members of various unions along with police officials participated in the meeting. Mr Chand while presiding over the meeting said owners of vehicles should make sure that their papers were complete.

He said the help of residents was necessary for the proper implementation of traffic rules. Special nakas would be put up in and around the city after May 31 to keep a check on violators.

He said the owners of rehris, tractor trollies, cycle and auto rikshaws had urged the authorities to grant more time for putting up reflectors in front and rear of their vehicles.

Therefore, they had been given time till May 31 to do the same. Strict action would be taken against those who failed to comply with the rules, he added.


Woman abducted, stabbed to death
Tribune News Service

Alawalpur (Jalandhar), May 23
The gang rape and murder of a 28-year old newly married woman by four assailants, who forcibly abducted her after attacking her husband near their house last night, has evoked widespread protest by residents who raised anti-police slogans for its failure to nab the culprits.

The victim was having a walk along with her husband near their residence in Nabipur locality, when four persons came on two scooters and allegedly attacked her husband Teeta. Teeta got unconscious in the attack. Later, they caught hold of her, forced her to sit on one of the scooters and fled away. After gaining consciousness, Teeta launched a search for his wife along with residents of the village, who found the dead body, with her neck having been tied with her dupatta and with stab marks at a number of places on her body.

Meanwhile, in a complaint to the police, Teeta identified the accused as Satbir of Jagravan village near Adampur and three of his accomplices. He alleged that the four came to the locality on two scooters and one of them caught hold of him, while another person accompanying Satbir hit him in his head with some heavy weapon. Later, they left the place after abducting his wife. He said Satbir had a monetary dispute with him. The body of the woman has been sent to the Civil Hospital for post mortem. A case under Sections 302, 376, 323 and 34 of the IPC has been registered.

Earlier, irate residents of the area shouted slogans against the Jalandhar police and alleged that crime had been on the rise in the district and the authorities had failed to contain it.


Man with fake passport held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 23
The Immigration Department of Rajasansi Airport today apprehended a person with fake passport.

Mr Manjit Singh, Immigration Officer at Rajasansi Airport, said during checking, the passport of Kulwant Singh of Guru Nanakpura, Phagwara, who was going to Turkministan, was found fake. A case has been registered under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471 of the IPC at Rajasansi police station.

Meanwhile, the Majitha police booked six persons and seized huge quantity of illicit liquor from their possession.


Pbi varsity Registrar under cloud
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
The recently appointed Punjabi University Registrar, Dr K.S. Sidhu, who was rewarded by the new Punjabi University management for being at the forefront of the agitation against the ousted Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, has come under a cloud with documents surfacing that he had been punished earlier for conducting illegal checking at an examination centre of a girls college in Bhawanigarh for which he was punished by the university Synidcate.

Though the acting Vice-Chancellor, Mr N.S. Rattan could not be contacted, it was learnt from authoritative sources that he had cleared the file for advertising for the post of the Registrar.

The university is agog since last week about an incident occurrring in 1986 in which Dr Sidhu, who is in the Department of Defence Studies, and Dr M.S. Sohal of Human Biology had misbehaved during an illegal checking at Guru Tegh Bahadur College at Bhawanigarh. According to details available with The Tribune, both teachers had no reason to go to the girls college as they had been given duties to check other colleges in Mansa and Bathinda districts.

The United Teachers Front (UTF), which forms the majority of the Punjabi University Teachers Association (PUTA), had also taken up this issue with the VC yesterday during a special meeting. The UTF members had alleged that it was unfortunate that a person who had impersonated as a member of the University Flying Squad and had misbehaved in a girls college after consuming liquor had been appointed Registrar by him. This pressure, sources said, was reportedly behind the decision to take out an advertisement for a regular Registrar today.

According to the Syndicate decision of October 25, 1986, which is in possession of The Tribune, both Dr Sidhu and Dr Sohal were gound guilty of gross misconduct and their two annual increments were stopped as a cumulative effect permanently. This decision has not been revoked till now.

The Syndicate decision taken during the tenure of Dr Bhagat Singh’s vice-chancellorship, says that both teachers, who were Readers then, had ‘’misbehaved’’ at the examination centre of the girls college at Bhawanigarh. It said following complaints from the college Principal a preliminary inquiry was ordered which corroborated the allegations. It said following this a detailed inquiry was ordered into the case and entrusted to aformer Registrar, Dr Gurcharan Singh.

According to the inquiry conducted by Dr Gurcharan Singh, Dr Sohal went to the examination centre at Bhawanigarh twice on April 26 and April 28 even though he was due to check centres at Rampura Phul and Maur Mandi. The inquiry said on April 28 Dr Sidhu also visited the examination centre illegally under the influence of alcohol and misbehaved with the Principal and staff members. The inquiry officers found both Readers guilty in the case and recommended that their two increments be stopped immediately. The Synidcate, meanwhile, also warned the teachers that in case they indulged in misdemeanour created any further misdemeanour of this sort, strict disciplinary action would be taken against them.

Meanwhile, the delegation of the UTF, which met the Vice-Chancellor yesterday, accused him of carrying on the same policies as followed by Dr Ahluwalia. The members of the delegation said the VC had gone out of his way to adjust all people who had been in the forefront of the agitation to remove Dr Ahluwalia by giving them important posts like Registrar, Dean, Academics, Dean, Students, and others. They also claimed that he should have not moved in such a manner as former Registrar Dr B.S. Bhatia was scheduled to retire in two months and Dean, Academics, Dr T.S. Anand in four months.


‘Stop harassment of medical teachers’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
Representatives of the faculty of government medical colleges in Punjab have urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that their colleagues should not be harassed by the Vigilance Bureau in the name of holding an inquiry into the alleged scandal in the purchase of drugs.

A deputation of the representatives, which met the Chief Minister, told The Tribune today that they were not against the holding of the inquiry, but in the name of the inquiry, a reign of terror had been let loose. Teachers had to stay away from their homes. Their names had been got published in the print media without making any verification from them with regard to the purchase.

They said there should be no attempt on the part of anyone to tarnish the image of the medical faculty without verifying facts.

“If there is any evidence that certain teachers, who were part of the purchase committee, had taken money for buying substandard drugs, they should be brought to book. But if their seniors made them sign on the dotted line, then first such seniors should be taken to task instead of harassing the teachers”, said a representative of the Punjab Medical College Teachers Association.

They told the Chief Minister that a former Minister had created a group of corrupt persons in the Medical Department and that group had been calling the shots. They said first the former minister should be questioned to seek details of the “touts” who were working for him in the department.

The representatives urged the Chief Minister that the senior IAS officers who were holding important positions in the Department of Medical Education at the time of purchase of the drugs should first be questioned by the Vigilance Bureau. They said it had become a practice in the bureau to put junior employees behind bars and not touch senior officers involved in scandals.


Demand to release grant to colleges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 23
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union in a press release issued here today has pointed out under payment of grants to non-government colleges.

Prof S.S.Hundal, a former President, and Dr V.K Tewari, a former General Secretary, have demanded release of pending amount of Rs 21.35 crore towards payment of pay revision arrears: They have also demanded the designation of lecturer for directors of physical education already granted to government college teachers with extension in time to complete refresher course and payment of other arrears.


2 schoolchildren beaten up by teacher
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 23
Two girls were brutally beaten up at a primary school today, leading to one of the girls being admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital.

According to sources, the class teacher of the third standard first asked Simarjit Kaur and another girl to bend down and stand on their haunches for some time. Following this the teacher beat them up with the stick. While Simarjit fell unconscious after the beating and had to be rushed to the hospital, the other girl started vomitting after being hit with the stick.

Doctors after examination of Simarjit said she had received six injuries on different parts of her body, including her head, following the beating. Simarjit's father, Hardeep Singh, has brought the matter to the notice of the local police which has started investigation in the case.

The primary school in the Central Jail caters to children of jail employees and is run on the premises of the jail.


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