Friday, June 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Modified pension scheme for private colleges
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
Based on the concept of ''defined'' contribution, a new modified pension scheme for Punjab's non-government aided colleges has been approved by the Council of Ministers.

The scheme envisages contribution of the share of the employer (private college managements), the employee (teaching and non-teaching) and the government towards the Contributory Provident Fund to create a corpus out which the staff will be entitled to pension benefits. The corpus will be operated by a registered trust, comprising managements and union representatives.

The draft pension scheme, along with the necessary guidelines for its framing and operation, have been sent to the Legal Remembrancer for vetting. An official notification of the scheme is expected in a fortnight, according to highly placed sources.

The issue of pension has been hanging fire since April,1992, when the then Finance Minister, Dr Kewal Krishan, now Speaker, first conceded the demand of the private colleges, which get 95 per cent grant-in-aid from the government. Thereafter, it went through a maze of political and administrative vicissitudes, coupled with agitation, boycott of examinations, lightning strikes, relay fasts, rallies, etc, by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union and the Joint Action Committee of the Non-government Affiliated Colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh.

The chronology of events related to the pension scheme shows that it was repeatedly taken up by both the Congress and Akali-BJP governments in their respective council of ministers' meetings between 1992 and 2002. In fact, there is also the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service of Employees) Amendment Act, 1999. But the pension scheme has failed to take off.

The new draft pension scheme, it is reliably learnt, envisages that if pensionary benefits are indeed to be given, these should be limited to pension and gratuity. It leaves out the commutation of pension, leave encashment etc. As per the new scheme, the entire amount in the Contributory Provident Fund, including the share of the employer and employee will form part the corpus fund from where the pension and gratuity payment will be made. Under no circumstances will the corpus fund be part of the state Budget. Sources told TNS that there was no legal sanction to treat the staff of the private colleges on a par with government employees.

The latest decision of the Council of Ministers, taken on June 9, has nullified the earlier decision of the Akali-BJP Council of Ministers, taken on December 12, 2001, as also the decision of the Congress Council of Ministers of January 3, 1996. Interestingly, the Akali and Congress Council of Ministers kept changing and modifying the pension scheme and undoing each other's decisions, ostensibly at the instance of the Department of Finance, much to the disappointment of the staff of the private colleges.

There are 140 aided colleges, which have been raising this demand since 1990. The total number of employees seeking pension benefits is 3,903 teaching and 2,865 non-teaching. This benefit, if accepted by the colleges, will not accrue to the 30 unaided colleges.

Even in the present case, the Finance Department had its way and overruled the proposals of the Department of Higher Education, say sources. The council was told on June 9 that if the December 12, 2001, decision of the Akali-BJP government was to be implemented, it would cast a financial liability on the state, which would not be justified in view of the precarious fiscal condition. Legally, it argued, the state was not bound to provide pension to the aided private colleges, as the law in this regard only enables and does not direct the government to do so.

Punjab, incidentally, is the only state in the country where the pension-cum-gratuity scheme has not been implemented so far. Even Haryana has given this benefit to its aided colleges.


Walkout in Punjab House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
Raising slogans Akali and BJP legislators and certain Independent MLAs today staged a walkout from the Punjab Assembly in protest against the use of English in the House. They urged that the House should confine itself to Punjabi.

When Mr Birdevinder Singh, Congress MLA, started reading out his call-attention motion in English, Capt Kanwaljit Singh got up to protest and requested the Speaker to ask him to speak in Punjabi. This led to an exchange of taunts for a while, ultimately leading to a walkout by the Akalis as well as certain Independent MLAs even as Mr Birdevinder Singh switched over to Punjabi. Earlier, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Akali MLA, repeatedly intervened to ask that the proceedings should be in Punjabi.

Mr Sucha Singh Chhottepur, a leader of the Independent MLAs’ group, said that they were not with the Akalis, but they were all for the use of Punjabi in the House. They also staged a walkout. He said: “We are known in the world for our Punjabi identity and it will be appropriate to use Punjabi in the Assembly.”

Earlier, the House witnessed a war of words between Congress and the Akalis over the use of what the latter described as unparliamentary words against them by the Treasury Benches yesterday. The Speaker assured them he would remove the objectionable references if any.

The use of offensive language, especially by the Treasury Benches, against Akali legislators has become a common feature. Comments laced with bitterness from the Treasury Benches are often heard. Earlier, such bitter wordy duels were never seen between the Treasury and Opposition Benches.

Mr Birdevinder Singh also provoked Akali legislators during zero hour by observing that they (Akalis) clapped in the House like “khusras” (eunuchs) yesterday. It offended the Akalis and Capt Kanwaljit Singh got up to reply that he was not prepared to utter the filthy words used by Mr Birdevinder Singh, but his observations were objectionable. The Speaker ruled that the use of the word “khusra” by Congress legislator was not unparliamentary. Chowdhary Jagjit Singh and Prof Darbari Lal condemned the conduct of the Akali legislators in the House yesterday.

Through his call-attention motion, Mr Birdevinder Singh asked the government why it was wielding the stick against junior-level employees of public sector undertakings by slashing their wages and allowances. He sought taking of the report of the Disinvestment Commission for debate in the House before its implementation.

He urged the government to take to task IAS and PCS officers and other high-ups for bringing PSUs into the red. Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, said in his reply that the final report of the commission was not ready yet. It would be made available to the House after completion. He also promised to look into the demand for action against the IAS and PCS officers concerned.

During question hour, replying to Mr Joginder Singh Mann’s question regarding suicide by farmers, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa said that the member had asked a significant question which should draw the attention of all. As many as 20 farmers committed suicide from 1997 to February, 2002. Replying to a supplementary question of Mr Birdevinder Singh whether there was a proposal to waive the loans of small farmers, Mr Bajwa said that as the government was in a financially tight situation, it would be unable to do so at present, but it could be possible at a later stage.

As many as 144 posts of lecturer were vacant in government colleges, said Mr Khushal Behal, Education Minister, replying to Mr Tikshan Sud’s question. Mr Sardul Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, said that the Ambuja cement factory at Bathinda had been given sales tax exemption of Rs 171.87 crore on February 14 this year. He was responding to a question by Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa.

The Finance Minister said a total of Rs 314.37 crore was given under the “sangat darshan programme” during 2000-2001 and 2001-2002. The question was asked by Prof Darbari Lal.

There were 1,1486 male and 614 female inmates in Punjab’s jails against the capacity of 9,434 males and 420 females, the members were informed.

Mr Manpreet Singh Badal raised, during zero hour, the issue of 300 lift irrigation schemes on the Sirhind canal which had been lying closed for the past three months. He sought their revival immediately as otherwise the farmers concerned would not be able to sow their kharif crops.


Speaker ‘gagging’ voice of members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
“The Speaker is not listening to us. He has gagged our voice in the Punjab Assembly”. This was stated here today by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister and Akali legislator.

But he was not alone in making the charge. Almost similar observations have been made by Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC President and Akali MLA, and Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, another senior Akali legislator.

In fact, Akali MLAs went into a huddle in their office in the Vidhan Sabha complex to deliberate on this issue. Capt Kanwaljit Singh said that at a meeting on February 11 with representatives of the Akali Legislature Party and others concerned, the Speaker had agreed to put the issue of the use of a particular language in the Assembly before the House to seek the opinion of the members. And whatever the members would say, would be implemented by him (Speaker). But he did not do this.

It was also agreed that in whatever language a question was asked by any member of the House, the Minister concerned would answer in the same language. Even that was not being followed in the House, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said.

He said the Akalis were neither against English nor Hindi which was the national language. But the issue was the use of Punjabi in the House. In all other state assemblies, the proceedings were conducted in the respective mother tongues and the same approach should be adopted in the Punjab Assembly, asserted Capt Kanwaljit Singh. “We will not allow Punjabi to be murdered the way Congressmen want”, he added.

Expressing her resentment against the Speaker, Bibi Jagir Kaur said that Congress legislators, especially Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, daughter of the late Beant Singh, made derogatory remarks against her and even referred to her deceased daughter’s case in the House.

Today, when “I tried repeatedly to give an answer to what was said against me by Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur and others, I was not allowed to speak by the Speaker” Bibi Jagir Kaur said. Mr Bhunder said that remarks made by Mr Birdevinder Singh against Capt Kanwaljit Singh referring to his service in the defence forces were not in good taste. He said it amounted to denigrating the armed forces which had made sacrifices to protect the borders.

“We are going to raise all these issues forcefully on June 17 when the House will meet again after a three-day break”, he added.


End drug menace in Punjab: House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
The Punjab Assembly today passed a resolution against the growing use of drugs in the state and asked the government to take effective steps to check the menace.

Expressing their concern, members said that vested interests had spread their network in the state to peddle drugs. Political leaders at certain places had been providing patronage to those involved in the smuggling of drugs.

They said non-government organisations had failed to play significant role in checking drug abuse. Religious bodies like the SGPC should have played an active role to save youth from drugs.

In the last assembly elections, there was free use of poppy husk which was brought to the state in trucks. All this should be stopped to save Punjab’s youth from ruin.

Among those who spoke on this issue were Mr Hans Raj Joshan, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, Prof Darbari Lal, Chowdhary Santokh Singh, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Mr Birdevinder Singh, Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mrs Aruna Chowdhary, Mrs Harbans Kaur and Mr Kanwaljit Singh Lali.

No Akali MLA was present in the House when this resolution was taken up.

Chowdhary Santokh Singh assured the House that the government would initiate the necessary steps to end the drug menace.


Akali leader’s murder: govt in tight spot
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
The publication of a picture of Capt Amarinder Singh, showing him sitting in the Qualis allegedly used in the killing of senior Akali leader Gurdial Singh and five others on May 19 has put the Congress government in a tight spot.

According to confirmed reports, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, whose name was also mentioned in the FIR, and Mr Tarlochan Singh Chakwalia, a Congress candidate from Patti, were also travelling in the vehicle, which was being driven by one of the accused, Jasbir Singh, alias Jassa. However, after the killings, the Chief Minister had stated that Mr Bhullar had no links with the accused.

It may be mentioned here that Capt Amarinder Singh had addressed at least five election rallies in Amritsar district on February 1. Some of the persons against whom the FIR was lodged also participated in the rallies.


Govt seeks SGPC’s views
Draft of Sikh Gurdwaras Bill
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
The state government has sought the comments of the SGPC on the draft of the Sikh Gurdwaras Bill, 1999, which has been gathering dust for the past three years.

If the Bill is passed by Parliament, the proposed Act will replace the 77-year-old Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925. While the present gurdwara Act covers the historical gurdwaras falling in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal and Chandigarh, the proposed Act will bring all historical gurdwaras all over the country under its direct control. After receiving the reminder from the state government, the SGPC has sent the copies of the draft of the Sikh Gurdwaras Bill to its executive members so that recommendations could be sent to the government.

It may be mentioned here that the draft Bill was presented by the gurdwaras election commission, based on the Sikh Gurdwaras Bill, 1986 (sent by the Government of India). The Bill was presented to Mr Shiv Basant, Joint Secretary, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, by the then Chief Commissioner of gurdwara elections, Justice Harbans Singh (retd).

The move to pass the gurdwara Bill would also scuttle the move of certain Sikh leaders of Haryana who wanted to form a separate gurdwara committee to control the Sikh shrines in that state.

The draft Bill has suggested a number of changes in the existing Sikh Gurdwara Act, including new bylaws for the appointment and removal of Sikh high priests.

Earlier, an advisory committee was formed by the government in 1979 under the chairmanship of Justice Harbans Singh (retd) to prepare a draft of the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Bill. A draft Bill was prepared on the basis of a consensus arrived at by the chairman and some members of the committee, visiting states with a substantial population of Sikhs and was sent by the Punjab Government to the Government of India for introducing it in Parliament. For one reason or the other, the Bill could not be introduced in Parliament. On the basis of the draft Bill of 1979, the Government of India in the Ministry of Legal and Legislative Affairs prepared a draft of the Sikh Gurdwaras Bill, 1986. Later, in a seminar organised by the Sikh studies, on the subject of Sikh gurdwaras legislation on October 18, 1997, the key note address was delivered by the Chief Commissioner (Sikh gurdwara elections) inter alia pointing out various aspects requiring consideration in the draft of the Bill. At this seminar, a sub-committee under the chairmanship of Justice Harbans Singh (retd) was constituted.

One of the proposals of the draft Bill reads, “On or after the date of commencement of this Act, no new Sikh gurdwara shall be established without the prior permission of the registering authority.” The draft Bill has also laid down the eligibility for being elector. It reads, “Every Sikh being 18 years of age or more who is a resident of a constituency, constituted for the election of a member or members of state board shall be entitled to have his name registered as an elector on the electoral roll of the constituency.”

The significant recommendations of the draft Bill proposed that no jathedars of Takhts or the Head Granthi, Golden Temple, shall be removed from office except when the incumbent becomes of unsound mind, when he is found guilty of violation of Sikh rehat maryada, and when by his unbecoming conduct renders himself unworthy of the august office held. However, the Sikh high priests would be exempted from personal appearance in courts. The draft Bill reads, “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple and the jathedars of Takhts shall be exempted from personal appearance during the tenure of their office.”


Punishment doesn’t reflect harm to society
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
The bursting of the stock market bubble, emergence of a new class of highly paid top executives, increased level of education and increasing involvement of older persons are other aspects related to the growing incidence of corruption, fraud and other types of white-collar crime.

“If one looks at the age of persons involved in heinous crime, including dacoity, robbery, murder, attempt to murder, rape and kidnapping, one finds that 90 per cent of them are between the age of 20 and 35 and only 5 per cent are above 35,” says a senior police officer, claiming that those involved in white-collar crime are mostly older persons, above 35 years of age.

“As society ages, the incidence of economic offences will increase,” he says. Further, in violent crime, the education level of those involved is much lower than those indulging in white-collar crime. While most of the criminals charged under various sections of the IPC are under-matriculates or, at best, undergraduates, those involved in economic offences are mostly postgraduates with professional degrees.

“The reason is simple. The take is better and the punishment generally is almost nothing. Take the case of Ravi Sidhu. If convicted, he may get 10 years’ imprisonment besides a fine of a few lakhs of rupees,” reveals a senior functionary of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau. “It is the law which is ‘on the side’ of economic offenders. He may have spoiled the lives of so many families, but the punishment or sentence will in no way reflect the quantum of damage his actions may have caused to the social fabric. On the other hand, a murderer, harming one family or, at best, a couple of families, gets life term.”

If one looks at the conviction rate of economic offenders, the figure may be less than 1 per cent against the much higher rate in heinous crime cases.

Both policemen and sociologists agree that new types of economic offences are being committed every other day. The amount of money involved is incredibly large. They agree that some of the scams in various companies, financial and banking institutions throughout the region are the result of the manipulation of financial statements for personal short-term gains of highly paid executives.

All attempts by The Tribune to get credible figures of white-collar crime recorded in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh were futile as none of the state agencies, including the police and vigilance cells, maintain precise data. The only thing they have to offer is the number of cases registered under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code or the Prevention of Corruption Act. But then the number of cases under Section 420 also relate to petty economic offences, cheating, forgery and failing to keep promises.

Interestingly, all states have special cells to deal with economic offence with hardly any expertise in tackling, investigating and taking cases of white-collar crime of their logical conclusion. Invariably, these cases peter out for lack of corroborating evidence after languishing in courts for years together. The conviction rate is pathetically low, less than 1 per cent.

Until the early 90s, it was rare for a senior executive, bureaucrat or politician to land in the vigilance, CBI or police net on charges relating to fraud, financial irregularity, scams or scandals. But lately, it is to this “elite class” that a majority of the publicised offenders belong.

The worst hit by this boom in white-collar crime are financial institutions, insurance companies and other public lending institutions.

(To be concluded)


10 objections against CAS promotions by Ahluwalia
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 13
Ten objections were filed against promotions under the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) during the tenure of former Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, with two cases of teachers having been promoted as professors though they did not possess a PhD degree coming in for special mention.

A circular had been issued by Punjabi University, asking those who had alleged that promotions under the CAS had been carried out in many cases by bypassing eligibility criteria to submit their objections till today. It had been stated by the university that the complaints were to filed in writing and that no complaint would be entertained after May 13.

Though university authorities were tightlipped about the details of the objections received, sources said only two cases had been challenged on grounds of complete illegality involving the promotion of mathematics Reader Tara Singh Antal and Punjabi teacher Kulwant Singh Grewal to the post of professor though they did not possess a PhD degree.

According to objections filed in the case of Mr Antal, the teacher had been asked to submit his M.Phil degree within three years of being promoted as Reader in 1986, but the condition had later been waived as a special case. This time round, it had been alleged that rampant manipulation had been done in the expert panel constituted to see whether Mr Antal's work could be seen to be equivalent to a PhD effort.

The sources said one of the experts of the panel had given a negative report on the work submitted by Mr Antal, stating that it was not of the PhD level. The experts had simultaneously given his comment about two papers written by Mr Antal, saying these were not of his field and that another expert could evaluate them.

The sources said the committee constituted to make a gist of the reports had ignored the negative comments made by one of the experts, but had taken note of the fact that he had requested that two of the papers be evaluated by someone else. Correspondingly, Dr Ahluwalia had asked the Head of the Department of Correspondences Studies, who had nothing to do with mathematics, to nominate another subject expert. The expert had approved of Mr Antal's work to be equivalent to a PhD degree.

The sources disclosed in the case of Mr Grewal, a complaint had been filed by his colleague Dr Jaswinder Singh, who had been overlooked for selection as Professor by the former Vice-Chancellor in favour of Mr Grewal. Dr Jaswinder Singh had then been aligned with the majority Punjabi University Teachers Association group, opposed to Dr Ahluwalia.

According to the complaint, it had been alleged that the University Grants Commission norms had been violated while selecting Mr Grewal. According to the complaint merit had not been followed in the case, with Dr Jaswinder Singh, who had written several books and had acted as guide for around 20 stu- dents for their MPhil and PhD degrees, had been ignored.

Meanwhile, the other objections raised by the teachers in complaints submitted to the authorities pertained to favouritism during the tenure of Dr Ahluwalia, which had led to many juniors superseding their seniors. According to the complaints, many teachers had been ignored because they did not toe Dr Ahluwalia's line, due to which teachers many years junior to them had been promoted at their expense.


SGPC poll: enrolment date extended again
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 13
As many as 56 lakh voters, including about seven lakh Sehajdharis, have been registered for the SGPC General house elections in Punjab so far. The Chief Commissioner for gurdwara elections, Justice J.S. Sekhaon (Retd) has further extended the date for enrolment of voters until August 27 following a communication from the Union Home Ministry. The last date for the registration of voters was May 27. Four extensions have been given so far. The registration of voters in Haryana has been reported at five lakh.


Probe into irregularities in MC working begins
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
On the complaint of a Municipal Councillor, the Vigilance wing of the Local Bodies Department, Punjab, yesterday started an inquiry into the alleged bungling in the working of the local Municipal Council.

A two-member team of the Vigilance wing, comprising Mr M.S. Sikand, Senior Vigilance-Officer, and Mr A.C. Bansal, Vigilance Officer, recorded the statement of the Municipal Councillor, Mr Krishan Kumar Garg.

Mr Garg has been levelling allegations against the president, councillors and officials of the council regarding their alleged involvement in the bungling.

Another Municipal Councillor, Mr Basant Bhatia, had also signed the complaint, although it could not be ascertained whether his statement was recorded or not.

Mr Sikand, while talking to this correspondent, said the inquiry had been initiated on the instructions of Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary of the Local Bodies Department. He said the allegations levelled by Mr Garg included misappropriation of funds meant for development works, beating up of some MCs, including Mr Garg, by supporters of the president during a meeting a few months ago and giving of contracts to kin of MCs.

Although Mr Garg belongs to the BJP, an ally of SAD, which has majority of MCs, yet he alleged that there was large-scale bungling in the affairs of the council.

Mr Sikand said as the allegations of Mr Garg were not specific, therefore the statement of any other person would not be recorded today. He said he would submit the report to the higher authorities, adding that Mr Garg could be asked to submit the record pertaining to the alleged bungling.


Sale of property stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
Taking up a petition filed by union members of a Rajpura based factory, closed down in 1997, accusing a nationalised bank of selling immovable property at a throw-away price, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered stay on the auction.

In their petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, HTF workers union had earlier sought directions for quashing the proceedings initiated by the Recovery Officer of the Debts Recovery Tribunal for the sale of immovable property.

Terming the action as "illegal, arbitrary and unsustainable in the eyes of law", the members had contended that over 300 families were depending upon the factory for livelihood. They had added that the property was being sold in a hush-hush manner. Going into the background of the case, they had claimed that as per an estimate the total value of assets was Rs 3.65 crore. The property, including the machinery, was initially being sold for a reserved price of Rs 1.6 crore and had now been fixed at Rs 2 crore.

Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, Ms Manjit Kaur Sandhu had added that the respondents were neither following the procedure required to be adopted for auction, nor was the reserved price adequate.


The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a significant judgement, has held that an employee can be transferred on the basis of a complaint or on his personal request.

The orders were passed by a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, on a petition filed by an Additional Assistant Engineer with the Punjab State Electricity Board seeking the quashing of his transfer orders issued on March 18 last year.

Dismissing the petition with Rs 5,000 costs, the Judges observed: "The transfer policy is clear that the transfer of an employee can be effected on a complaint or on a personal request. In this case, there is no personal request, but a very serious complaint has been filed regarding corruption and demand of illegal gratification of Rs 10,000. The petition is dismissed. The costs of Rs 5,000 are imposed on the petitioner to be paid to the Board".


Panel misguided CM: mahasangh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
The Punjab State Cooperative, Boards and Corporations Workers/ Employees Mahasangh held a rally here today and claimed that the Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, headed by the former Chief Secretary, Mr P.H. Vaishnav, had misguided the Chief Minister, Capt Amrinder Singh, by recommending winding up of profit-making corporations.

Speaking at the rally, which was organised as part of the ongoing statewide protest movement against the recommendations of the draft report, Mr Nirmal Singh Ghuman, president of the mahasangh, said, “The commission was constituted by the SAD-BJP government about two years ago, to suggest the restructuring of state corporations. The previous government had already started the winding up operations in some of the corporations like the Punjab Poultry Development Corporation and Punjab State Leather Development Corporations. The commission has simply misguided the newly elected Congress government by suggesting winding up operations of corporations like the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) and Punjab Finance Corporation.”

He alleged that these were among the profit-making corporations which had suffered losses due to corrupt and inefficient management.

The protesters later took out a protest march towards Matka Chowk and submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister urging him to reject the commission’s recommendations, especially regarding the winding up and privatisations of different corporations.

Speakers at the rally claimed that the government had already forced employees of some corporations to accept pre-mature retirement or had transferred them to other departments. The workers alleged that the staff has not been paid salary for the past six to 12 months in Punjab Poultry Corporation and others.

Mr Gurdip Singh, general secretary of the mahasangh, claimed that on the one hand the commission had recommended the closure of PSIEC, but the managing director has recently decided to call back 22 employees, working at Bhatinda Growth Centre, who had been transferred to the municipal committee to run the focal point. Such decisions by the management has resulted in increase in losses.

The memorandum urged the government to reject the recommendations of the disinvestment commission especially regarding merger/ closure of PSUs and decrease in allowances. The mahasangh also asked the government to withdraw false police cases registered against its leaders.

Among others employees of Markfed, PSIEC, PSIEDC, PFC, Eltop Tubewell Corporation, Schedule Cast Land Development Finance Corporation, Poultry Corporation, Tourism Corporation, Spinfed, Forest Corporation also took part in the rally.


State unit of IMA constituted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 13
Dr R.C.Garg, president of the Punjab chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), has constituted the state unit of the IMA.

The following doctors have been elected office-bearers: secretary — Dr Surinder Singla (Sangrur); financial secretary — Dr Gursharan Singh (Ludhiana); joint secretary — Dr Balbir Singh Sekhon (Ludhiana); assistant secretary — Dr Pardeep Sharma (Barnala); organising secretaries — Dr Amrik Basra (Dasuya), Dr D.K.Gopal (Malerkotla), Dr Subhash Bansal (Jagraon) and Dr Amrik Singh Arora (Amritsar); and secretary for public relations — Dr Sanjiv Sharma (Jalandhar).

Members of different committees are: IMA Punjab bulletin committee: editor — Dr Rajesh Sharma (Tapa); associate editor — Dr Amarjit S. Nagpal (Amritsar); action comittee-cum-legal cell: Chairman — Dr O.P.S. Kande; IMA College of General Practitioners: Director — Dr J.S.Virk; and secretary — Dr K.S. Bamrah (Phagwara); IMA Academy of Medical Specialities: Chairman— Dr Kulwant Singh Bhatia (Amritsar); and secretary — Dr B.P. Singh (Jalandhar) supervisory committee on female foeticide and PNDT: Chairman — Dr Kuldeep Singh (Hoshiarpur) and in-service doctors wing: Chairman — Dr D.S.Bhullar (Patiala).


Thermal plant staff hold protest march
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 13
Hundreds of employees of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) under the banner of the RTP Employees Joint Action Committee today held a march in the town in protest against the reduction of the generation incentive of employees working at the plant by the PSEB.

They gathered at the local Ram Lila ground and held a rally before holding the march. They also held another rally near the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

These rallies were addressed among others by Mr Vasdev Singh Gill and Harmesh Singh Dhiman, both conveners of the action committee; Mr Hari Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh, Mr Gurcharan Singh and Mr Ramesh Chand Rana, all leaders of the action committee.

Addressing the rallies, the leaders criticised the PSEB management and raised slogans against the Punjab Government and the Chairman of the PSEB. They also demanded the withdrawal of the circulars, issued to reduce the generation incentive of the employees.

A deputation of the action committee, led by Mr Vasdev Singh Gill, met the Deputy Commissioner and submitted her a memorandum, demanding the withdrawal of the curricular issued to reduce the generation incentive.

The deputationists also demanded release of last month’s generation incentive to the thermal employees.


Thermal plants’ staff hold protest rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
Thousands of employees of the Guru Nanak Dev thermal plant of the city and the Guru Hargobind thermal plant, Lehra Mohabbat, today held a protest rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, and presented a common-demand letter to him.

Employees of state thermal plants are agitating against the curtailment of the generation incentive provided by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, listened to the problems of the employees and assured them of conveying these to the state authorities.


Musharraf’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 13
Pakistani flag and effigy of its President Parvez Musharraf were burnt by Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress (PPYC) activists at the busy hall gate area here today.

Leading the protest march in various parts of the city, Mr Narinder Kumar Tinu, Secretary, PPYC, castigated the policies of the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, for sparing the “rouge” neighbouring country which was spreading terrorism in India.

He criticised the Prime Minister for allowing access to Pakistan air traffic in Indian air space besides calling for de-escalation of its naval forces from the Arabian sea.

Call the Pakistan promises a “bluff” he said, India should have taken the ultimate steps to destroy Pakistan so it would not be able to raise a bogey about Kashmir being a disputed territory and terming it a “freedom struggle” to hide its terrorist activities.


Pensioner denied allowance arrears
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
Mr J.N. Jairath, a government pensioner, has urged the Finance Department to pay him old- age allowance for 11 months on the basis of new instructions from the Punjab Government.

In a letter written to the Under Secretary of the Finance Department and Additional Director of the Treasuries and Accounts branch, Mr Jairath stated that he became entitled for getting 5 per cent old-age allowance in January 2001. He said the allowance was earlier given to those pensioners who had attained the age of 70 years. But as per the new orders issued on November 22, 2001, the allowance would also be given to those who had attained 65 years of age on January 1, 2001.

Mr Jairath said the authorities refused to pay him the arrears as according to them he had started getting 5 per cent old-age allowance in December, 2001, when he turned 70. Mr Jairath claimed that he was eligible for getting the allowance since January 1, 2001, when he was below 70 but above 65 years.

No senior official of the District Treasury Office could be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Plea to impound Maluka’s passport
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 13
The criminal case registered against a former state Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, and others took a new turn today when his nephew, Mr Paramjit Singh and the complainant, Mr Resham Singh, moved an application to the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, for impounding their passport and weapons.

A criminal case under Sections 188, 323, and 506 of the IPC was registered against Mr Maluka, his son, Mr Gurpreet Singh Maluka, Mr Charanjit Singh Jatana, president, Municipal Council, Rampura Phul, Mr Prem Kumar, a businessman of Bhagta Bhai Ka, Mr Gogi Brar and Mr Satnam Singh Dhiman at the Dialpura Bhaika police station on June 11 for their alleged involvement in violence at Maluka village on June 9 while voting was going on for panchayat samiti and zila parishad elections.

Police sources said the case had been registered as Mr Maluka and his accomplices had beaten up the complainant Mr Resham Singh and threatened him on the day of polling, they also allegedly carried firearms during the polling.

In the application, Mr Paramjit Singh and Mr Resham Singh pointed out that Mr Maluka and the others had been giving them death threats and saying that they would go abroad after killing them.

They urged the district police chief to impound the passports and weapons of Mr Maluka and the others.


Search warrants of Langah’s house
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 13
Mr R.L. Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, here today issued search warrants of houses of Sucha Singh Langah, a former PWD Minister, and one of his close associates and ordered that the report of the search should be produced before the court on June 15. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has, meanwhile, issued notice on his anticipatory bail plea.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecutor, and Mr Jagdish Singh and Mr Bakhshis Singh, both Inspectors, Vigilance, appeared in the court and pleaded that search warrants of Langah’s houses, one in Chandigarh and another in Dhaliwal, Gurdaspur district, should be issued. They also pleaded that search warrants should also be issued for Ms Varinder Kaur’s house in Sector 45, Chandigarh.

The court while issuing warrants ordered that the search of the houses should be conducted during 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the presence of two responsible persons of the locality.

The Vigilance Department has already registered a corruption case against Langah and others.


MC men die of asphyxiation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 13
The underground sewer today took its toll as two employees of the municipal corporation were killed and the other two suffered severe breathing problem due to suffocation while cleaning a manhole near Sodal mandir in the city. The injured are said to be out of danger.

The incident took place this afternoon. It was only later in the afternoon that all four employees were evacuated by Fire Brigade staff. The deceased have been identified as Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Modal House locality. He is survived by his wife and two children while the other was a temporary employee. They have been identified as Sham Lal, a supervisor and Sat Pal, a daily wager.

Charan Dass Sidhu, fire officer of the civic body, said they received an information at around 1.30 pm and immediately rushed one fire tender and a jeep to the spot.


Widows getting remarried to get pension
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
The widows of Army personnel whose special family pension/liberalised family pension was stopped due to their being getting married to a person other than the brother of their late husband could avail of the same again. This was stated in a press note issued here on Monday by Col M.S. Boora of HQ 81, Sub Area.

He said as per the new instructions of the Ministry of Defence the widows of Army personnel who remarried on or after January 1, 1996, and whose family pension/liberalised family pension was stopped due to that reason were entitled to get it again.


Houses of 200 migrants demolished
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 13
Houses of 200 migrant families, a primary school and gurdwara at Kapoor Basti near the New Sabzi Mandi market on the Faridkot-Ferozepore road were demolished here yesterday by a team comprising officials of the local market committee and the police.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, said the entire land belonged to the Punjab Mandi Board. The inhabitants had been directed to vacate the area, he added.


Case against Kewal Singh adjourned
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, June 13
Mr Kurnesh Kakkar, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), today adjourned the hearing in the dowry case registered against former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Kewal Singh, his son Baljinder Singh and another kin Joginder Kaur to June 26 and fixed July 2 the date for the scrutiny of record to commit the case for Sessions trial.

Giani Kewal Singh surrendered in the court of Mr Kakkar on May 9 after he failed to scure anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court.


Dhira’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 13
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, today extended the judicial remand of Randhir Singh, alias Dhira, and Prem Sagar, both accomplices of suspended chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, till June 27 in the PPSC recruitment scam.

In another case related to the junior engineers’ recruitment scam in the Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats Department, the Special Judge also extended the judicial remand of Baldev Singh, Chief Engineer, and Kuldip Singh, DDPO, till June 27.


Warrants against Dy Director
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 13
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, today issued non-bailable warrants against Ms Kiran Dhawan, Deputy Director, Social Welfare Department, Punjab, for July 1 in connection with the JE recruitment scam in the Rural Development and Panchayat Department, Punjab.

These warrants were obtained by the Vigilance Department today.

An IAS officer and Chief Engineer of the department are among those who have been named in the case.


Anoopgarh base for fake currency racket
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 13
Preliminary interrogation of five persons nabbed in the fake currency racket has indicated that their base camp was in Anoopgarh, near Pakistan border.

Sources said earlier the police had arrested another gang near Moga. The accused had revealed that they had been supplying fake currency note to visitors from Sangria in Sr Ganganagar and the sale had gone up during the Elections. Anoopgarh is part of the same district and had been in the headlines due to the inflow of sophisticated arms by militants during 1984-92, smuggling of hydrates used in the manufacture of narcotics, besides ISI activities.


SC women allege coercion in voting
Our Correspondent

Moga, June 13
Scheduled Caste women of Smalsar village under Baghapurana police station in the district, in a written complaint lodged today with the DSP, Baghapurana, Mr Harjit Singh Punnu, alleged that the Sarpanch of the village had abused them and threatened them with dire consequences if they voted in favour of Congress candidates. They told the DSP that in spite of these threats, they had voted in favour of the Congress during the recent zila parishad and block samiti elections. They urged the DSP to inquire into their complaints and take action against the Sarpanch.


A freak rail mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 13
A freak mishap took place here this evening. The busy Satnampura railway barrier was down. Two persons on scooters, along with others, were waiting for the Delhi-Amritsar Deluxe Up train to pass. However, they were unmindful of the Amritsar-Delhi superfast Shatabdi Express coming on the Dn track.

The Shatabdi as a run-through and virtually storms through the crossing. When the two noticed the Shatabdi, they jumped from their scooters and ran away. The scooters were dragged by the train for 25 to 30 yards and were mangled. The scooterists had a providential escape. the identity of the scooter owners has not be ascertained so far.


2 ‘fake’ Vigilance Officers held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
Even as most of the people in the state are satisfied with the anti-corruption drive launched by the Vigilance Bureau, some unscrupulous persons are ‘exploiting’ the situation and are harassing residents for money by posing as Vigilance Officers.

Informed sources said one gang of such persons was active in the area which was looting people by posing as officers of the Vigilance Bureau. The gang, which included some women also, kept changing its addresses and modus operandi for cheating people. Some incidents of checking buses, schools and measuring weights of shopkeepers by fake Vigilance Officers had come to light but most of these incidents went unreported, the sources said.

The “trend” came to light when one such gang, comprising a woman and man, tried to extract money from a farmer of Lehra Mohabbat, who had to repay a loan to a bank, by posing as Vigilance Officials. They asked the farmer to repay the loan, otherwise stern action would be taken against him.

The “Vigilance Officers”, Manjeet Kaur and Manjeet Singh, “raided” the residence of the farmer at around 11 pm on June 10. When the farmer showed his inability to pay them cash at that point of time, they asked him to give them jewellery or other valuable items. They told the farmer that he could get back the valuables when he would deposit the cash with the department.

The farmer, Mr Pritam Singh, became suspicious when the “Vigilance team” asked for jewellery and he raised an alarm. In the meantime other residents of the village assembled there and thrashed the “officers”.

The sources said Manjeet Kaur “made” a telephone call to some police station and told it that she was the head of a Vigilance team and villagers were beating them up. She had sought the help of the police to save themselves.

Police sources said Manjeet Kaur claimed to be a resident of Chamkaur Sahib in Ropar district. She got divorced after six years of her marriage. She reportedly got engaged in this ‘business’ after getting divorce. She was joined by various persons from time to time. Recently, Manjeet Singh, a bus driver, became her accomplice. Manjeet Singh was a resident of Jagraon in Ludhiana.

The sources said Manjeet Singh was a former Special Police Officer (SPO) while Manjeet Kaur was a former constable in the Home Guards. Villagers said both of them had stayed at the residence of Manjeet Kaur’s relatives in the village, where they learnt that Mr Pritam Singh had to a repay the loan to a bank. They, however, said the relatives were not aware of their activities.

The police authorities while confirming the incident said both were booked under Sections 419 and 420 of the IPC at the Nathana police station.


Armed robbers injure four
Tribune News Service

Paragpur (Jalandhar), June 13
Eight robbers attacked the occupants of a farmhouse, a car-selling unit and a garage on the outskirts of the village today, leaving four injured.

Armed robbers, about eight in number attacked the farmhouse of Gurnam Singh after one of the latter’s two servants challenged them. They beat up Mukhtiar Singh, Surjit Singh and Gurnam Singh with rifle butts.

Later, the victims were tied up with their turbans and dumped in a corner of the farmhouse. One of servants raised the alarm and the robbers returned to the farmhouse. They fired some shots at Gurnam Singh and his servants.

As they tried to enter the garage, Garib Dass, the securityman, challenged them, which led to an exchange of fire between him and the robbers. One robber caught hold of him and fired a shot at him from point-blank range, resulting in serious injuries to him. The injured were shifted to a private hospital at Jalandhar.

The attack come as a shock for people living in farmhouses on the outskirts of about 12 surrounding villages. Villagers alleged that there was no proper police arrangement to prevent any such eventuality.


Man posing as Vigilance DSP arrested
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
A man posing as a DSP (Vigilance) “raided” the premises of government hospitals today but was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau when he was checking the attendance and stock registers.

Earlier, the “one-man” Vigilance team created a panic in the government-run blood bank and hospitals for more than four hours as officials lined up to present the details of attendance and stock. However, Dr R.P.S. Boparai, Head, Department of Orthopaedics, got suspicious and contacted the DSP (Vigilance), Mr Rachhpal Singh, who rushed to the spot and arrested the imposter, Manjit Singh Bamrah.

Mr Tejinder Paul Singh Sandhu, SP (Vigilance), said Bamrah had been booked under Section 421 and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code. Mr Sandhu said he had received a number of complaints from various departments against imposters who had been taking advantage of the activism of the Vigilance Bureau.

Similarly, some imposters today “raided” some private hospitals, including Kalra Nursing Home and Dhingra Hospital.


MP booked in assault case
Tribune News Service

Chak Suhele Wala (Ferozepore), June 13
The Ferozepore police has booked Mr Jora Singh Mann, MP, and his associates under Sections 188, 379, 323, 324, 148, 149 and 506 of the IPC for their alleged involvement in an attack on his rivals at his native village over a land dispute.

Mr Mann had fled from his village after the incident. A police team raided a number of places today, but could not know about his whereabouts.

According to the FIR, Mr Surinder Singh, a resident of the village, had stated that they had a dispute over 31.18 kanals of irrigated land with Mr Darshan Singh for the past few years. The local administration had imposed Article 145 on this land on April 23 last, but Mr Mann had helped them try to grab it.

Mr Surinder Singh had fitted a water pump on this land and the other party had objected to it. Mr Mann’s brother, Mr Jagnandan Singh, and two of his associates, Mr Darshan Singh and Mr Manjit Singh, had removed and taken away the water pump.

When Mr Surinder Singh and his associates were busy in calling the police, the MP reportedly came with his associates behaved rudely with them and took out his small sword. He allegedly attacked Mr Gurdev Singh, who received injuries on his hand. Mr Surinder Singh was also beaten up with hockey sticks.

Local residents said Mr Jagnandan Singh and Mr Darshan Singh were also injured, but the police, under political pressure, did not prepare an FIR. They were taken and admitted to a private hospital at Muktsar.

When contacted, Mr Mann denied the allegations of being involved in the attack. He admitted that a dispute was going on between the two parties. He lashed out at the Congress for framing him.


3 arrested in land dispute case
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
The district police has arrested the three accused in a land dispute case.

In a press note issued here today the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, said a land dispute between a Dalit and a landlord family of Gidder, village, near here had led to scuffle. Some of the members of the Dalit family were injured.

The family members of the injured and activists of the Punjab Khet Majdoor Union (PKMU) alleged police inaction. The sarpanch of the village came to the support of the Dalits.

Mohan Singh and one of his relatives, Sadhu Singh, were badly injured in the scuffle. While Mohan Singh suffered fractures on legs and arms. One of the fingers of his relatives had to be amputated, sources said.

Gurdev Singh, Sarpanch of the village, had even accused the police authorities of acting in connivinance with the culprits.

The SSP, however, claimed that the inquiry of the case had been entrusted to the SP (D) and three accused, Kaka Singh, Ghulla Singh and Sher Singh had been arrested under Sections 325, 323, 148, 149, 307 of the IPC. He added that Sections 3, 4 of the SC/ST Act were added after investigations. The Judicial Inquiry into the case was still going on and the other culprits would be arrested soon, the SSP added.


Senior Akali leader arrested

Moga, June 13
Senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader and district nagar council president Kuldeep Singh Gill was arrested here today by the police on charges of cheating and forgery.

The case was registered against Dr Gill on a complaint made by Surinder Singh, a resident of Moga, and one of the partners of the commission agency known as Malwa Commission Agents and Traders.

Acting on a petition of Surinder Kumar, the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in May last year, had directed the district Senior Superintendent of Police to register a case against Dr Gill and two others, including Mohinder Kaur and Bikramjit Singh, and take necessary action. But the police, as alleged by Surinder Singh, failed to comply with the High Court’s directions and it was only after the district attorney’s report was the case registered.

The petitioner had alleged in his complaint that he was illegally removed from the membership of commission agent by Dr Gill with the connivance of his other partners and Dr Gill himself became the partner and shareholder of the commission agency by preparing forged documents which stated that the petitioner himself wanted to be removed from the commission. UNI


Dowry claims one more life
Tribune News Service

Joga (Mansa), June 13
Yadvinder Singh and his kin harassed his wife Simarjit Kaur. Her tolerance gave way yesterday.

Mr Lal Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), local police station, said Yadvinder Singh and his parents had been demanding a scooter from the deceased Simarjit Kaur. She was married six years ago and had a son. She poured kerosene oil on herself and lit her own pyre at about 9 a.m.

On the complaint of Mr Sukhdev Singh, father of the victim, a case under Section 304-B of the IPC has been registered against Yadwinder Singh, his father Balbir Singh, mother Satya Devi, brother Joginder Singh and sister-in- law Sukhjeet Kaur.

The body was sent to the Civil Hospital, Budhlada, for post- mortem.


4 of family killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 13
Four members of a family, including two women, were killed while a woman was critically injured in a head-on collision between a Punjab roadways bus and a Maruti car today. The accident occurred when the bus coming to Amritsar rammed into the Maruti car coming from the opposite direction near Bhinder and Kalchien villages.

The deceased have been identified as Sukhdev Singh and Satwant Singh both brothers, and their wives, Harjinder Kaur and Jaswinder Kaur, respectively. The injured, identified as Lakhwinder Kaur, has been admitted to the Dera Beas hospital, where her condition is stated to be serious.

The deceased were residents of Dashmesh Avenue in the Chheharta area here. A case has been registered against the bus driver.


Dharna by Principals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
Members of the Managing Committees and the Principals' Federation of Non-Government Affiliated Colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh organised a dharna at Matka Chowk, here today.

The protest was organised to draw the attention of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh (retd), to the non-implementation of demands of non-government aided colleges despite a commitment by the party and the Chief Minister at the time of elections.

The demands raised by these colleges include release of grant in accordance with the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme and the non-implementation of the pension-cum-gratuity scheme.

In a joint statement, Principal Subhosh Kumar, Vice President of the Managing Committee Association, and Principal P.S. Sangha, General Secretary of the Principals' Federation, urged the government to release the pending salary grants of Rs 65 crore under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme and Rs 21.34 crore UGC pay scale arrears. These arrears were received by the Punjab Government last year from the HRD Ministry.

The protesting members also deplored the outgoing government for not honouring its commitment regarding bringing 30 unaided colleges under 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

Among those who sat on dharna were Principal Tarsem Bahia, Principal J.S. Gill, Prof Balbir Singh, Prof S.S. Hundal, Prof Sudesh Kumar, Principal S.S. Chatha and Principal B.D. Budhiraja.

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