Thursday, June 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM orders recoveries PSIDC, PFC defaulters
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, today directed the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC) and Punjab State Financial Corporation (PFC) to immediately start recovery of dues from defaulters.

The amount to be recovered is about Rs 1,700 crore in the case of the PSIDC and about Rs 900 crore in respect of the PFC. Most of the defaulters are bigwigs of the corporate sector.

Talking to TNS today, he said when PSIDC made a presentation, he had told the Managing Director to effectively recover the dues from defaulters. The same applied to PFC. “My mandate in this regard is clear’’, he added.

He further substantiated this saying he had him self ordered a CBI probe into Punwire (Punjab wireless systems ltd.), where public money, running into crores, was lost. “We will make bureaucrats concerned accountable for the functioning of public sector undertakings as well as for effecting recoveries’’, he added. The Chief Minister disclosed that it was in his knowledge that some bureaucrats had rented out their houses to corporate defaulters and the same was being looked into.

On recoveries to be effected, in some cases, he said, “One Time Settlement’’ may have to be done but not in respect of the units doing well.

The issue of defaulters was also raised by some ministers in the meeting of the Council of Ministers yesterday. One of them said state may not impose any fresh taxes but should focus on recovering the dues from the industrialists, who are defaulters. The Chief Minister assured his colleagues that there would no compromise on this and defaulters would have to pay up their dues quickly.

Referring to the report of the Disinvestment Commission and the reaction of the employees of the PSUs, whose closure has been recommended, Capt. Amarinder Singh said their reaction was misplaced. The government would not remove them en mass. He, however, added that the state could not carry the weight of the deadwood.


Panel for retaining PESCO as PSU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, which submitted its draft report on Monday to the Punjab Government, has appreciated the role and functioning of the Punjab Ex-Servicemen Corporation (PESCO) and recommended that it should be retained as a public sector undertaking (PSU) “keeping in view the useful work being done by the corporation and the extra benefits of its being a PSU”.

Disclosing this here yesterday, Mr K. B. S. Sidhu, Secretary, Defence Services Welfare, stated that the commission had also made a number of useful suggestions to strengthen PESCO as an organisation so that it continued its high-growth trajectory in the rapidly changing economic scenario, while adhering to its core focus of ensuring the welfare of ex-servicemen.

Mr Sidhu, who is also the Chairman-cum-Managing Director of PESCO, said that the commission had suggested that the services of ex-servicemen engaged by PESCO could be utilised for taking care of security needs at VIP residences/static duty at various vital installations like telephone exchanges and power stations. Ex-servicemen could also be entrusted with duties in regard to the parking of vehicles at hospitals, district courts and other such places where the number of visitors was large. Their services could also be utilised by the government for traffic management.

Their experience in handling firearms and other weapons could be useful in providing security/gunmen to private persons/institutions as special police officers (SPOs). This would also help the police concentrate on law and order duties, the commission noted. As most of the ex-servicemen had experience in dealing with natural disasters, the corporation could also handle disaster management work, if authorised by the government.


No major tax dose likely in Budget
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Will Punjab’s Budget to be presented in the state Assembly on June 13 be free from fresh taxes? According to indications, there will be no major dose of taxes. However, there will be emphasis on the levying of user charges in the services sector. There are also pointers that Punjab will finally say goodbye to all sorts of subsidies and freebies in all sectors, including agriculture.

A major question at the moment relates to the direction that Punjab should take now? The state is facing crisis after crisis on various fronts. Its agriculture is at the crossroads. Its industry is in poor shape. It is facing big problem of unemployed youth. Its financial health is deteriorating day by day. In fact, the list of the state’s problems is endless.

Will the first Budget of Capt Amarinder Singh’s government address all these questions and point to the direction in which the state can move ahead?

Punjab figures among the states where the per capita level of taxation is not very high. But despite this the state government cannot afford to impose more taxes. There are several reasons for it. The farming sector is in crisis. Industry is also in recession. Moreover, Punjab is bound by a national consensus as far as the minimum level of sales tax on various items in concerned.

Punjab’s strategy, according to sources, is two pronged. First, it aims to cut down its expenditure by downsizing various departments and tightening the belt. The starting of the disinvestment process should be seen in this light. Punjab can save crores of rupees by closing down dead organisations and merging those which have almost the same kind of tasks to handle.

The second part of the strategy is to streamline tax collection system by modernising and strengthening the information centres set up at various places in the state. It is estimated that by plugging tax leakage and improving the tax collection system, the state can add several hundred crores of rupees to its revenue. It also wanted to introduce legislation for better collection of stamp duty, the evasion of which is a known fact. Punjab has the lowest level (6 per cent) of stamp duty.

It is not possible at this stage to impose more taxes on the middle class. This section is already facing the heat because of the increase in the price of petrol now and earlier of LPG, etc. Even parties like the BJP are saying that the last Union Government budget placed a lot of burden on the middle class and because of this it rejected the party in the recent elections to the Municipal Corporation in Delhi. So, the Punjab Government may not be in a position to tax the middle class at this stage.


Is Ravi Sidhu entitled to ‘B’ class ?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Is the suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), Ravi Sidhu, entitled to Better Class (“B”) facilities which he has been enjoying in the Patiala jail ?

According to Section L of the Punjab Jail Manual, all convicted and undertrial prisoners are to be classified under either “Better Class” or “Ordinary Class”. Under sub-section 509 (c)(i) of the manual, no one can be granted “B” class if he or she has been convicted of offences involving elements of sedition, cruelty, moral degradation or personal greed.

And sub-section 510 of the manual, which deals with undertrial prisoners, says : “While classifying an undertrial prisoner as Better Class, the officer in charge of the police station and courts concerned will be guided by the instructions laid down by the state government for the classification of convicted prisoners from time to time”. This means that the same instructions as applicable to convicts will apply.

The manual makes it clear that those convicted of offences involving elements of sedition, cruelty, moral degradation or personal greed, serious or premeditated violence, serious offences against property, offences related to TADA and the possession of explosives , firearms and other dangerous weapons with the object of committing an offence or of enabling an offence or of enabling an offence to be committed, persons convicted under COFEPOSA and the NDPS Act, abetment or incitement of offences falling within these sub-clauses cannot be granted Better Class facilities.

So the same yardstick applies to undertrials covered under sub-section 509(c)(i) to (vi).

Investigations reveal that in the Patiala jail, some of the undertrials or convicts enjoying Better Class facilities are covered under the offences mentioned in sub- section 509 (c) (i) to (vi). Among the beneficiaries, besides Ravi Sidhu, is a senior police officer.

Jail officials are believed to have sent copies of the court orders, granting Better Class facilities, along with copies of the rules to the authorities concerned for information and the necessary action.

“We cannot object to orders from the competent authorities, including courts, even though we know well that these are not in accordance with the provisions of the jail manual,” they maintain, saying that it is for the higher authorities to take a decision.


Zila Parishad poll: Tohra camp in upbeat mood
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 5
A keen contest is on the cards for the panchayat samitis and zila parishad elections in the district. Though the district is the hometown of two Akali stalwarts Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Congress MLAs represents both Assembly seats. Mr Mann and Jathedar Tohra have put up their respective candidates and the candidates of Mr Badal and of the Congress are also in the fray.

The prestigious seats for the Congress in the Sirhind constituency are Tarkhan Majra and Sekhupura from where the PA and OSD to Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest, are contesting.

According respect to the veteran Congress leader of the area, Vaid Hari Krishan, voters of zone No.4 Sanipur in the Sirhind block got his son, Mr Devinder Sharma, alias Makhan elected as unopposed. Though the division in the votes of the Akalis may boost the chances of the Congress candidates but the non-performance of the Congress Government in development have annoyed the Congress supporters. The Tohra camp is in upbeat mood in the district as the defection of Mr R.S. Cheema, a former Minister from the SAD (B) to the Tohra camp has boosted their morale.

Mr Didar Singh Bhatti of the SAD (B), who lost to Dr Harbans Lal in the Assembly elections with a thin margin along with Mr Rajesh Pal Singh Lalli have intensified the campaign in the district. On the other hand Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest, is heading the Congress campaign, where as the DCC president is conspicuous by his absence.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner said all arrangements for the smooth conduct of the elections had been completed for 471 polling booths. At least 3000 employees have been put on election duty. For 10 seats of the zila parishad in the district, 53 candidates filed their papers and during scrutiny three nominations were rejected. Nineteen withdrew their nominations and 31 candidates were in the fray.

He said for 75 seats of panchayat samiti elections in five blocks of the district 322 filed their nominations 29 nominations were rejected during scrutiny. Now 194 candidates were in the fray. He said out of 75 seats seven candidates were elected unopposed they are Rajpal Singh in zone no 11 and Dilbagh Singh in zone no 14 of Amloh block, Devinder Sharma zone no 4 of Sirhind block, Parveen Kumari zone no 3, Manjit Kaur zone no 5, Swarn Kaur zone no 8 and Balwant Singh from zone no15, all of Khamano block.

The Deputy Commissioner urged all candidates to cooperate with the administration for the smooth conduct of the elections.


Amend state Election Commission Act: Bains
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
Mr C.L. Bains, Election Commissioners, Punjab, will soon write to the state government asking it to amend the state Election Commission Act, 1994, to ensure free and fair poll.

Mr Bains was talking to mediapersons after presiding over a meeting of returning officers, assistant returning officers and police officers, organised to review the poll arrangements for zila parishad and block samiti elections. Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Mr Vikas Garg, ADC, and Mr Kanwal Sher Singh, ADC (D) were also present.

Mr Bains said he would write to the government to amend the Act and provide powers to the Election Commission to deal with appeals regarding rejection of nomination papers in zila parishad, block samiti and panchayat elections so that a voter or a candidate could appeal before the commission. An appeal before the Deputy Commissioner or a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court could also be filed in this regard, he added.

Mr Bains said he would also write to the government to make amendment in the Act for providing powers to the commission to form zones for holding zila parishad and block samiti elections in a free and fair manner. Presently, the power to form such zones was with the state government, he added.

He said regarding the allegations of nomination papers on “unfair” grounds, the commission had received such complaints but was helpless as the matter was out of its jurisdictions.


Tohra threat to boycott Badungar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today threatened to give a call for boycotting Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, if he failed to clarify his position on his alleged links with the excommunicated Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, secretary-general, and Mr Jagjit Singh Ghaba, district president (Jalandhar), alleged that there was proof that Mr Badungar and senior Akali leaders had established links with Baba Bhaniara. He said a civil writ petition, filed by Baba Bhaniara spoke volumes about his alleged links with Mr Badungar and senior Akali leaders. Mr Bhaur alleged that Mr Badungar and the Akali leaders should resign from their respective posts by owning moral responsibility.

He said the then SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, instead of casting a vote in favour of Mr Badungar had torn the ballot paper on the pretext that he (Mr Badungar) had links with Baba Bhaniara. The SHSAD alleged that it was on record that Akali leaders, including Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, senior vice-president, his son Kewal Singh Badal, junior vice-president, SGPC, and Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, a former MP had links with the excommunicated Baba.

Mr Bhaur said that the SGPC chief and Akali leaders had committed blunders and the Sikh sangat must punish them if they did not tender an unconditional apology.

The SHSAD leader alleged that most of the Akali leaders (led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal) were ‘tainted’ and out to distort the Sikh history by taking ‘anti-Panthic’ decisions.


Probe charges against high priests: Jatha
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
The Akahnad Kitani Jatha Prabhandhandidki Parchain has demanded the constitution of a committee comprising of Gursikh retired judges to inquire into the allegations of corruption against two high priests.

Mr Joginder Singh Talwara, member of the Parchain, addressing a press conference here today said allegations of corruption against Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Keshgarh Sahib, by the Khalsa panchayat, and the subsequent refusal of the high priests to receive the proofs in their absence had created a controversy in Sikh circles.

The Khalsa panchayat was willing to submit the proofs of corruption only on the condition that the jathedars against whom the charges were levelled be kept absent from the meeting of the high priests while hearing the case. However, this request by the complainants was declined and the matter had been left pending. Hence Mr Talwara demanded the formation of a committee of such intellectuals to inquire into the matter. 


ISI agent’s disclosure: news lensman named
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 5
Teams of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan police and the Army have been trying to extract vital information from the Pakistan-based ISI agent Ashgar Ali and his India-based subagents.

Information gathered by The Tribune shows that Ashgar Ali, who came to India at the age of 30 from Pakistan, had been living in this country for the past 15 years and spying without being detected.

Ashgar Ali was caught by BSF personnel twice near the Indo-Pakistan border in Rajasthan, but he was pushed into Pakistan territory taking him as mentally retarded. He was again caught in Rajasthan recently.

In Bathinda, Ashgar Ali and his subagents enrolled citizens as members of a gas company under the pretext that every member would avail free repair for one year for paying Rs 50. They extended membership drive into the Dhobiana area and residential colony of Guru Nank Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) where they charged Rs 31 membership fee.

The subagents also organised meetings of members in the hall located near the old bus stand of the city and gave away prizes to best members. This exercise was being carried to know the level alertness among the people in connection with ISI activities and to assess preparedness of Indian security agencies for war.

Information further revealed that investigating agencies came to know that Ashgar Ali and his subagents managed accommodation in thickly populated areas of this city with the help of a person, who claimed himself to be a press photographer. Even the ISI agent and his subagents organised a cultural show in the city with the help of that photographer a close kin of Akali leader to build relations with the security agency officials. 


Way for Cong Mayor cleared
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 5
With the BJP-SAD combine declining to field any candidate for the post of Mayor following its debacle in the corporation poll here, the coast has been cleared for the Congress. In a House of 60, the alliance secured only 11 seats this time, compared to 22 in 1997.

Mr Sudesh Kaushal, general secretary of the district BJP, admitted that the party would not field any candidate for the coveted post. However, he was not certain about the SAD toeing the same line. Mr Sardul Singh Sham, president of the district SAD, said his party, too, would not be voting for the Congress candidate in the mayoral election.

There are three contenders from the Congress for the post of Mayor. They are Mr Sunil Datti, Mr Yoginder Dhingra, president of the DCC, and Mr Ranjan Aggarwal, according to the political grapevine.

Meanwhile, the Congress which is in a favourable position, has outlined its agenda following the election for the Mayor scheduled for June 10. On top priority would be to take up the Rs 13-crore “ganda nullah” project.

Mr Surinder Arjun, general secretary of the District Congress Committee, said the water and sewerage problems in the city were the priority in the event of the coming monsoon. 


Operation Bluestar haunts ‘ghalliara’ oustees
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
Even after 18 years of Operation Bluestar, nearly 1000 small shopkeepers who were displaced twice during Army operation and then Operation Blackthunder (1988) have been facing penury. Many were ruined financially and circumstances compelled three of them to commit suicide.

Before the Army operation in June 1984, the Golden Temple in its vicinity had small shops doing brisk business in artificial jewellery, cosmetics, household items, hosiery and garments and was the hub of commercial activity. These bazaars, including Guru Bazar, Papranwala Bazaar, Atta Mandi reportedly find mention in folklore, were set up by Guru Ram Dass — founder of this holy city. Later Maharaja Ranjit Singh infused life into these bazaars and invited artisans for producing jewellery pieces. These bazaars bore the brunt of Army operation and were destroyed in crossfire between Army and militants.

Mr S.S. Uppal, an octogenarian oustee and who has been leading the movement for justice to those who suffered during Operation Bluestar and Operation Blackthunder when the “ghalliara scheme” (beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple) was conceived, said that even after 18 years the tenant shopkeepers have been waiting for justice but in vain.

Mr Uppal added that 130 shopkeepers whose premises were demolished after Operation Bluestar have not been given any compensation despite several representations to the state and the Central Government. Mr Uppal threatened to gherao the Chief Minister during his visit to the holy city if the state government failed to implement the ‘I.S. Bindra report’, made on the directions of the then Governor, Mr Nirmal Mukherjee, The report after a survey had identified the small shopkeepers who could not be given adequate compensation for the loss they had suffered in the Army operation/Blackthunder operation.

The Golden Temple Galliara Grievances Committee has sought remission of penal interest on defaulting amount on the plots allotted to them by the Municipal Corporation in lieu of their shops around the Golden Temple, Mr Uppal said while the Amritsar Improvement Trust had waived the penal interest, the corporation should also do it. He demanded Rs 2 lakh relief in each case and oustees be treated as weaker section of the society.


Tight security for ‘ghallughara divas’ 
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 5
Unprecedented security arrangements have been made outside the Golden Temple complex even as it is for the first time that ‘ghallughara divas’ would be observed during the Congress regime.

The earlier Congress government, led by Beant Singh, did not allow Akalis to observe the ‘ghallughara divas’ after June, 1992. However, during the regime of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the ‘divas’ was held at Akal Takht regularly.

Since the Akalis are now out of power, the tone and tenor of the speech of Jathedar, Akal Takht, to be delivered on the occasion of the eighteenth anniversary of Operation Bluestar is likely to be aimed at blaming the Congress which engineered the operation.

In the wake of the announcement of radical Sikh organisations that they would perform the ardas in memory of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee has deputed a heavy task force in the Golden Temple complex to meet any eventuality. The district police has also deputed a heavy police force in mufti inside and outside the complex.

However, the SGPC is reportedly under pressure from radical Sikhs that he should announce the raising of the memorial in the memory of those killed during the military operation.

The Executive Committee of the SGPC had passed a unanimous resolution to raise the memorial. However, the matter is pending as the SGPC had formed an 11-member committee to finalise the site and shape of the proposed memorial after discussing the matter with the Sikh clergy.

Even as the controversy over the death of Sant Bhindranwale is yet to die down, the Dal Khalsa, Akal Federation, PHRO, IHRO, Shiromani Youth Akali Dal, Human Rights and Democracy Forum and Khalsa Panchayat, have decided to perform his ardas in front of Akal Takht tomorrow.

The Damdami Taksal believes that Sant Bhindranwale is still alive.


Border tension: GRP seeks more personnel
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 5
The Additional Director-General of the Government Railway Police, Punjab, Mr S.C Jain today asked for at least two more battalions for the Government Railway Police in wake of tension on the border. He said he had written to the Director-General of the Government Railway Police, Punjab regarding the requirement of the GRP to ensure security for railway tracks, strategically important bridges, railway stations and passengers. He said the GRP requires at least 1400 more personnel.

Briefing the media here today Mr S.C Jain said for the first time, commandos had been assigned patrolling duties to ensure the security of railway tracks. Arrangements for round the clock security on the sensitive Madahpur to Pathankot track had been ensured and the trains entering Punjab from Jammu and other border areas would be thoroughly checked, he said.

He said the GRP had beefed up security at various vulnerable points in the state as per the security classification of category 1, 2 and 3. He said the GRP in co-operation with the civil-defence, security and intelligence agencies in the state had taken steps to ensure smooth functioning and clear division of duties in eventuality of a war.

Mr S.C Jain informed that the GRP would hold a meeting later today with the local police and security agencies in the state , including the Punjab Armed Police (PAP), Home Guards, district police and SP’s (Operations) to chalk out a strategy for the security apparatus in eventuality of an external emergency . A similar meeting was held at Jalandhar recently, he informed.

Stressing on the need to revamp the disaster management apparatus of the Railways, he said taking into account the poor disaster management of the railways during the recent Khanna accident, it is important that immediate steps were taken to provide this arm of the railways with proper equipment, specialised personnel, medical care, cranes and metal cutting equipment. 


Probe sought into Cong MLA’s assets
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 5
The anti-corruption drive initiated by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has received a setback when an Amritsar-based transporter accused a Congress MLA from Beas Jasbir Singh Dimpa of amassing assets worth crores of rupees disproportionate to his known sources of income and demanded a CBI inquiry into the matter.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, the Director of New Piar Bus Service, Mr Jagjit Singh Chahal, alleged that the Congress MLA from Beas, Mr Dimpa, and his family members had amassed assets worth crores of rupees disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Giving details of the properties of the MLA, Mr Chahal said Mr Dimpa owned 460 acres in Hoshiarpur district, 10 acres in Rayyia, worth Rs 15 lakh, a well-furnished house in the Kashmir Avenue Colony in Amritsar, a bungalow spread over two kanals on the Pheruman road in Amritsar and a banquet hall on the Majitha road in Amritsar.

He further alleged that Mr Dimpa and his family had encroached upon government land in different parts of Amritsar. Mr Chahal alleged that though a court had issued non-bailable arrest warrants against Mr Dimpa in State versus Raghbir Singh case several times in the past one year, the latter had failed to appear in the court till date.

While Mr Dimpa was not available for comments, his brother, Mr Harpinder Singh Gill, refuted the allegations. He alleged that Mr Chahal, in connivance with some Akali leaders and an Additional Director-General of the Punjab Police, had been running more than 10 buses illegally in the state during the SAD-BJP regime. “With the change in guard in the state, Mr Chahal is facing hardships in running his business, that’s why he is trying to pressurise us by issuing baseless statements. We have no benami property anywhere in the state and outside which is evident, from the income tax returns we are regularly filing,” he added.


PUDA ‘harassing’ ex-serviceman’s wife
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 5
Ms Saroj Kumari, wife of Subedar Inderjit (retd), in a letter to the Chief Minister, has alleged that officers of PUDA, Mohali, are harassing her. They are neither allotting her a plot in Mohali nor refunding her Rs 1,05,000 deposited for the past more than one year.

She has written that she applied for a plot (125 square yards) in Sector 76-80, Mohali, in defence quota in December, 2000 by depositing Rs 41,875.

In March, 2001, PUDA issued a letter of intent stating that she was successful candidate. She was asked to deposit Rs 62,813 within 60 days and bring a certificate from the Director of Sainik Welfare that she was the wife of Sub Inderjit (retd) and she had not received any plot/house in any part of the country under this scheme.

She has alleged that the letter of intent was lost and she fulfilled all formalities for getting a duplicate letter but they harassed her and finally she was told that duplicate letter could not be issued and they were going to cancel her plot because wife of a retired personnel was not entitled to apply in defence quota. The matter was taken up with the then EO, Mr Chander Gaind. He said the deposited money would be refunded as she could not get the plot.

However, when the case of refund was put up before the AEO, he refused to refund the money, saying that she would get the plot as she was fully entitled. The case was forwarded to the PUDA head office, Sector 17, Chandigarh, legal branch, for its view.

She has written that since January 2002, her husband has visited the head office many times. He was told in January that she would get the plot as she had deposited 25 per cent of the total amount but she did not receive any reply.

On April 19, 2002, her husband personally met the Chief Administrator and he instructed the Superintendent to forward the file to him. On May 27, 2002, her husband contacted the Superintendent and got the reply that their case file had not come to the head office so far.

She has urged the Chief Minister to look into the matter.


Wartime security steps taken
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 5
Kapurthala Deputy Commissioner Rakesh K. Verma said today that steps towards Civil Defence preparedness had already been taken keeping in view the tension on the Indo-Pakistan border.

Sirens had been installed alternative sites identified for evacuees, arrangements made in hospitals to handle extra rush of the injured or casualties in the event of a war, claimed Mr Verma.

He was addressing a press conference. He claimed that arrangements had been made for June 9 Zila Parishad and Panchayat Samiti elections. The DC disclosed that of the 535 booths in the district 80 had been identified as sensitive and additional security steps planned for these. 


Book Noormehalias: Mann
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 5
The BJP and the Central Government are behind the emergence of the Noormehalias who are causing communal disharmony and hurting religious sentiments of the Sikhs and hence should be banned and booked under the relevant Sections of the IPC. This was said by Lok Sabha member and Akali Dal President Simranjit Singh Mann this evening after visiting Mr Baghel Singh who was allegedly attacked by Noormehalias last month.

The activities of the Divya Jyoti Sansthan of the Noormehalias at Tarn Taran and Phillaur had proved that they were distorting Sikhism and would not be tolerated, he said.

The government had shown haste in registering a case under Section 295, IPC, against Barjinder Singh, Editor of Ajit, out of vendetta, he said.


Doctor ‘forcing’ relatives to sign discharge certificate
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 5
She can neither stand nor sit, has a compressed fracture in the vertebra column, broken right leg and fractures in the left foot. Pooja Rani, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh, was brought to the Rajindra Hospital and Medical College here on May 26 after she was allegedly pushed from the roof of her relative’s house in Samana after being beaten up, as she has alleged in the DDR registered at Samana .

Her mother, Ms Saroj Rani, alleges that doctor in charge at the hospital’s ward number 15 has been forcing them to sign the discharge certificate in spite of the fact that the patient is in no condition to move and the family may not be able to afford her treatment at a private nursing home. All her medical tests have been conducted at private clinics and medicines purchased from outside, they say. Rajindra Hospital is a government hospital.

Her family, including her two brothers, has submitted an affidavit to the Vice-Principal of the college in which they have alleged that Pooja Rani’s doctor is asking for Rs 5,000 from them. He has threatened to discharge the patient if the payment was not made. Having met the Principal of the college, Dr Ravinder Singh, and getting the assurance that a panel to investigate their complaint will shortly be set up, the patient’s mother and brothers instead of being relieved are now in a state of panic as they don’t know where to go if they are forcibly discharged? The doctor, who is allegedly asking for money, has advised them to go to “Canada or Delhi” for treatment of the patient. He has allegedly taken away her file which contains bills pertaining to tests carried out at private clinics and medicines purchased.

The Vice-Principal of the college admitted that an affidavit in this regard had been submitted to him. He added that the case had been referred to the Medical superintendent, Dr A.S. Sekhon for inquiry. He also said that he had constituted a team of orthopaedists to look into the case of Pooja Rani and give their advice about the condition of the patient. Any decision regarding the discharge of the patient would be taken after considering that report, he said.


Punjab seeks power from neighbours
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, June 5
To provide more and uninterrupted power to Punjab farmers the Congress government has started negotiating with neighbouring state over power issue. This will make it easy for the farmers in getting power for eight hours during paddy season in the state.

This was stated by Ms Preneet Kaur, MP from the Patiala and wife of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing a rally during the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections in Chhat village near Zirakpur, here today.

She said a sum of Rs 1 crore had been sanctioned to the state government which would be distributed among the elderly persons under the old age pension scheme soon.

She also addressed rallies in Lalru and Bijanpur villages and appealed to the residents to vote for the Congress candidates who were contesting the Zila Parishad and Block Samiti elections.

Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Congress Committee, and Mr Hardyal Singh Kamboj, president District Congress Committee (rural), also spoke on the occasion.


Veterinary officers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 5
Veterinary officers of the district today claimed that the appointments of at least 330 Veterinary Officers made during the tenure of PPSC Chairman Ravinder Paul Singh Sidhu were fair and were made on merit basis.

Veterinary officers posted at different veterinary hospitals and dispensaries in the district held a rally here in protest against the proposal of the government that all appointments made during the tenure of Mr Sidhu would be cancelled.

They claimed that all veterinary officers appointed during that period had obtained good marks during their study and had performed well in the interview taken by the PPSC.

Dr Amrik Singh, district president of the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association, said the veterinary services would be badly affected in the state if those veterinary officers appointed during the time of Mr Sidhu were sacked. He said the number of veterinary officers was already low as compared to the livestock in the state.

He said there was no need to pay bribe or use “influence” for getting appointed as veterinary officer as the number of candidates was not much as compared to the number of vacancies. He added that almost all veterinary graduates who were eligible got employment.


Plant engineers hold protest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
Members of the PSEB Engineers Association of the Ropar Thermal Plant region today held a gate rally at the main gate of the thermal plant in protest against the reduction in generation incentive and withdrawal of vehicles from senior officers like SEs by the PSEB management.

All speakers criticised the management for the decision to cut down the generation incentive by about 60 per cent. They also criticised the management for its allegedly anti-employee policies.

The rally was addressed among others by Mr S.C. Chabba, Mr Randhir Singh, Mr A.S. Kang, all central body leaders of the PSEB Engineers’ Association, and Mr Charanjit Singh, regional secretary of the association.

Mr Charanjit Singh said the association would intensify its agitation by organising a two-hour gate rally at the main gate of the thermal plant tomorrow. 


Cabinet accepts report on  NRI dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Punjab Council of Ministers, which met here yesterday under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, accepted the cabinet subcommittee’s report pertaining to the creation of a separate department of NRIs. Informed sources said that at the next meeting of the council, the agenda for setting up the department would be put up for approval.

About a month ago, a memorandum for setting up an NRI department was put up at the meeting of council. The issue was then referred to the cabinet subcommittee for preparing the case in a more comprehensive manner after consulting important NRIs and others concerned.


Bogus votes detected, claims SAD Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal, said today that a number of bogus votes had been detected in the voter lists of Shahpur village falling in the jurisdiction of the Doraha block samiti.

He said 34 votes had been found enlisted on the address of a house.

The matter has been brought to the notice of the state Election Commissioner.

Mr Tiwana has also requested state election the commission to ensure that staff put on poll duty remains free from from the “influence” of the ruling Congress party on the polling day.


IMA threatens to join PCMSA stir
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has condemned the move of the Punjab Government to terminate the services of about 850 PCMS doctors appointed during the tenure of PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. Describing the move as unethical, unjustified and unfair, the IMA has also extended its support to the 850 doctors.

Talking to the reporter on phone, Dr Surinder Singla, secretary of the Punjab unit of the IMA, said it would not tolerate the termination of innocent doctors at any cost. He said the sought from the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh as assurance that action would be taken only against tainted persons and innocent doctors would be allowed to perform the duties without any fear.

Dr Singla said in case the state government failed to do so the IMA would participate in the statewide agitation being launched by the PCMSA.


Blackout exercise today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
A blackout exercise will be undertaken in the city starting from 8 p.m. tomorrow. An official press note of the civil defence stated that the exercise will be signalled by a short span siren indicating an air raid.

The citizens are required to conform to the instructions and observe blackout by putting off all lights of the residence, commercial centres or vehicles.


Environment Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 5
Various NGOs of the city today celebrated World Environment Day by planting trees and organising awareness drives. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, who planted saplings with the Arpan, an NGO dedicated to save environment, said voluntary organisations would be given all necessary support in the drive to save and sanitise the environment.

Mr Pankaj Singla, spokesperson for the NGO, they had decided to plant saplings on a 5-km stretch of the Bathinda-Goniana road.

Mr Rakesh Narula, president, Bathinda Vikas Manch, organised an awareness drive in slum areas of the city. He said the organisation would be launching a cleanliness drive in the city.


Expedition flagged off
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, June 5
Two girls of the district have left for Ladakh for a mountaineering expedition to Sagar Kayri. Mr Babu Lal, Deputy Commissioner, flagged off the expedition on Monday. He said the district administration would provide Rs 8,000 for the expedition. 


CM warns pesticide companies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 5
The Punjab Government today made it clear that it would come down heavily on those who were selling substandard and “ineffective” pesticides in the state.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that it was in his knowledge that there were pesticide companies which had not changed their formulations for many years. As their products been used in the state for the past several years by farmers, pests had become immune to such pesticides. “Most of the pesticides do not kill bugs because they have developed a high resistance level over the years”.

When his attention was drawn by mediapersons to the pesticide manufacturing unit owned by the Kairon family, which is related to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Chief Minister said that unit had become a big nuisance to residents of Sangrur town. It had to be shut down because of the leakage of toxic substances from it in the past.

He said he would not allow any one to sell pesticides which had become ineffective. Even the licences of the offending pesticide units would be cancelled.


Technocrats hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
Agricultural technocrats of the Departments of Agriculture, Horticulture, Animal Husbandry and Soil Conservation held a protest rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner in protest against the proposed move to remove 126 agriculture development officers and 21 horticulture development officers recruited during the tenure of PPSC Chairman Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu.

The action committee of the agricultural technocrats has stated that no foul play is evident in their selections. Dr Satnam Singh, general secretary of the committee, has stated the exercise of termination of these officers will only jeopardise the services rendered by the department to the interests of farmers, in the light of no evidence of corruption in the said recruitments.


DC enhances security of public property
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 5
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, today passed an order under the Town Control Act, 1988, to provide security cover to public property. He said security cover would be provided to all railway tracks passing through villages, canals, rivulets, water outlets and the Indian Oil pipeline falling within the boundary of this district.

Mr Verma said all gram panchayats had been directed to ensure protection to sensitive points in their respective areas. He added that all youths of villages having sound health would be trained for the security of the sensitive points and public property in their villages. These orders will be enforced until July 4.

Meanwhile, Mr G.K. Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), who chaird a meeting of senior government officials, non-government organisations, said to provide immediate relief and first aid to public, camps, hospitals and basic infrastructure has been identified.

All relief and rescue arrangements in case of an emergency were discussed and assigned to different NGOs, which would be reviewed on a weekly basis. He said all NGOs and volunteers had ensured full support to the administration in case of any eventuality.


DC holds meetings to beautify Phagwara
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 5
The Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, Mr Rakesh K. Verma, today held a number of meetings to discuss issues related to traffic, parking and beautification of the town.

At a press conference here, he said the town would be given a facelift in the coming months befitting its status as an industrial hub. At a meeting with the owners of various marriage palaces on GT road, he discussed the parking problem being faced by the residents. He has given two week’s notice to owners of marriage places to make adequate arrangements for parking.

The Deputy Commissioner also discussed the issue of fixing the speed limits with-in the municipal limits of the town with the municipal authorities, District Transport Officer, police and Sub-Divisional Magistrate. It has been decided to give the public two weeks’ time to adhered to speed restriction.


Gang of robbers involving cops busted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 5
The Majitha police today busted a gang of policemen involved in the killing of two commission agents in broad daylight at the main bazar of Ajnala on April 30.

The police chief of Majitha, Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, giving details of criminal activities of the gang said they used to identify their target either outside banks or at market places. They would threaten them and snatch their cash and other valuables.

Ms Dwivedi said two of the gang members were previous police ‘cats’, criminal-turned informers, used by the then police chief, Mr K.P..S. Gill, during the peak militancy period. They were later inducted into the police force as SPOs. However, in case of Lakhwinder Singh and Balkar Singh, both original cats, were dismissed from police services in 1993.

Both former ‘cats’ with two serving consiables, Harbhej Singh and Manjit Singh, at present working in India Reserve Battalion and 9th Battalion of the PAP, had been operating for the past many years committing robberies at Jandiala Guru, Taran Taran, Balachaur and Mehta Chowk, Mattewal village in Nawanshahr district.

The police chief said all four of them armed with a cezchmade. .32-bore pistol and a .303-bore countrymade pistol had threatened commission agents Ashok Kumar and Chaman Lal who had withdrawn Rs 5.5 lakh from the Ajnala branch of the State Bank of India. They tried to snatch their bag containing cash. Some passersby started pelting them with stones and in panic they opened fire killing Ashok Kumar and Chaman Lal.

Ms Dwivedi said with the busting of the gang, the police had solved more than 12 cases of robberies in this belt and the murder of the commission agents.


42 promised CRPF jobs, cheated
Our Correspondent

Barnala, June 5
The police has unearthed a scandal pertaining to recruitment in the CRPF following the arrest of Niranjan Singh Dhaula village and Satvir Singh of Chhatrauli in Uttar Pradesh on June 3.

Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, said here today that Gurpreet Sharma and 13 other complainants belonging to Dhaula village, about 15 km from here, submitted an affidavit to the police, saying that Niranjan Singh and Gurtej Singh, alias Raj Singh, promised to get them recruited in the CRPF as ASIs and constables after taking money from them.

After registering a case under Section 420, IPC, and Section 8/9, Prevention of Corruption Act, the police nabbed the suspects.

Niranjan Singh and Satvir Singh have been remanded in police custody up to June 11.

Interrogation revealed that they had duped 42 youths of Dhaula village of nearly Rs 8 lakh.

Satvir Singh managed to get two youths from his own area recruited in the CRPF. They were undergoing training.

Another suspect Gurtej Singh has reportedly absconded.


Five held with fake currency
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 5
Five persons were arrested at Begawali village while allegedly offering to exchange Indian currency notes with fake currency.

However, Mrs Gurdeep Kaur was pleading outside the police station at Khukhera that her two sons, who were among the five arrested, were innocent.

The police arrested Amarjit Singh, his brother Dalip Singh, Chanchal Singh, Lakhwinder Singh and Joginder Singh under Section 489-A/B/C and 420, IPC, and seized their car for allegedly cheating residents of border villages by exchanging genuine currency with fake currency notes in 1:3 ratio. They reportedly had notes worth Rs 80,000.


Varsity foreign study scheme goes
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 5
Punjabi University has abolished the interdisciplinary extension study scheme started during the fag end of the tenure of ousted Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia under which Rs 25 lakh had been kept aside to facilitate trips of university teachers abroad to upgrade their knowledge.

Sources said a decision to this effect had been taken at a meeting of the Finance Committee of the university today. The meeting had been called to pass the university budget.

Not only has the axe fallen on the scheme but two teachers, who had been given Rs 50,000 each by the university to make trips abroad, have been asked to return the money. Till now only two teachers have been able to benefit from the scheme. They are Dr Manju Verma of the Department of Political Science and Dr Neelam Verma of the Department of Bio-technology.

According to the sources, the university had decided to do away with the scheme in view of the severe finance crisis being faced by it with the year ending on a deficit of more than Rs 8 crore. Besides this, the university authorities felt the continuation of the scheme would not allow it to enhance the money for other literary activities.

The sources said there was a feeling among a section of teachers that the former Vice-Chancellor had initiated the scheme to reward teachers who had stood by him during the elections to the Punjabi University Teachers Association and that it was populist in nature and had been framed without taking all aspects into consideration, specially the fact that a scheme already existed under which teachers could go abroad on invitation to present their papers.

The university administration has decided to increase the funding for research assistance and for international and national seminar participation.

Punjabi University Teachers Association president D.S. Dhillon said abolishing the study scheme was unfortunate.


Kids spread message of cleanliness
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 5
On the occasion of World Environment Day, a rally by school children to create awareness about the environment among the people was taken out here today. Mrs Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, flagged off the rally at the local Shiwalik Public School.

The Deputy Commissioner appealed to the people to keep their surroundings clean. She said the children could play a vital role in spreading awareness about cleanliness in every corner of their respective areas.

The students appealed to the people to celebrate birthdays and wedding anniversaries by planting a sapling. They also asked the people to stop the use of polythene bags and put garbage in bins

Saplings were planted in Shiwalik School on the occasion.


Jalandhar gets video conferencing facility
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 5
Industrialists, business-house owners and doctors of Punjab and neighbouring states will now be able to communicate with their counterparts sitting thousands of miles away or abroad without incurring huge costs on foreign travels, thanks to north India’s first video conferencing facility launched by Videsh Sanchar Nigam Limited (VSNL) at its gateway station here.

Until now, the facility was available only in the four metropolitan cities of the country and Jalandhar becomes the first city to boast about it as the VSNL made it operational and threw it open to users who could use it by hiring video conferencing hall set up at its local Adarsh Nagar gateway station.

To cater to the needs of different users and to suit every pocket an ‘on demand’ band width facility has also been provided in the room ,where date would be transferred at a speed ranging between 64 kb per second to 2,048 kb per second in accordance with the tariff plan selected by a customer.

“It is just like real time meeting except that you cannot transfer a cup of coffee to the person at the other end. It is almost like being in the same room and no matter if two or more people are sitting at a distance of thousands of kilometres. We have launched it after sensing the changing communication scenario and needs of people, particularly businessmen and other professionals operating in Punjab and adjoining states,” said Mr J.S. Puri, General Manager of the VSNL, while talking to The Tribune. He said the facility was world class and user-friendly. “Anyone who can operate the remote of a TV could master it within few minutes”, said Mr Puri.

“The facility could be used for sending and receiving text, video-compressed data and for multi-media applications while the video conferencing was on. Highly sensitive and synchronised cameras and monitors have been fitted. The system is synchronised in a way that the cameras would focus only on the person speaking and there was no fear of voice getting midway,” said Mr Puri.

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