Friday, June 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Elections to civic bodies were rigged: SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal( SAD) the main opposition party in the Punjab Assembly today demanded probe by an independent agency into the recently held elections, which it descried as a fraud on democracy, panchayati raj institutions and four Municipal Corporations.

Initiating the discussion on a special motion moved under rule 77 by 14 MLAs of the SAD, Akali legislator, Balwinder Singh Bhunder equated these elections with that of recently held in Pakistan. In Pakistan the referendum was conducted recently under the shadow of army guns, in Punjab the elections were held under the fear of the police. For casting votes for the compress candidates at certain places, it extended all help to them, he added.

It is interesting, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Akali legislators disrupted proceedings of the House on May 12 that resulted into special discussion on the issue today. But many of senior Akali legislators, including Mr Badal were not present in the House today.

Pleading that Pakistan pattern, should not be followed in Punjab, Mr Bhunder rejected results of the elections and urged for fresh elections. Quoting from several newspapers and drawing the attention to a packet of other documents, Mr Bhunder said these were not elections but a fraud. He said that an inquiry was not held and injustice, undone consequences for the state would be very dangerous.

He also alleged that certain places terrorists were used by the Congress party to help its candidates. Among the specific charges levelled by him were that the voters were enlisted even when the polling was on, there was no provision for the identification of the voter, voters’ lists were not given to candidates till June 3 and there were irregularities in voters’ lists with regard to deletion and inclusion of names of voters. Even residents of Haryana were listed voters in Punjab.

Mr Avinash Khanna, a BJP legislator, also supported what Mr Bhunder stated and urged for the setting up of a committee of the house to hold a probe into the matter. He also cited several instances of foul play and use of force to defeat the Opposition candidates.

Mr Hari Singh Zira, an Akali MLA, said these were not elections but murder of the democracy. He repeatedly named a senior officer of the police in the House for interfering with the elections in Zira and Makhu belt. Police officials had been instructed to support the present ruling party candidates. If the senior police officer was interested in electoral politics, he should resign and contest the elections. He said that inquiry into the irregularities in the elections should be conducted by a Judge of the high court. He said that cases against Akali supporters have been registered.

Mr Sucha Singh Chhottepur, leader of Independent MLAs in the House, reminded the Akali legislators of the misdeeds of the previous SAD-BJP Government during its tenure regarding the elections to panchayats.

However, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Minister for Panchayats, rejected the demand of the SAD legislators for a probe and said that the elections were held in a free and fair manner. No wrong was committed. People voted in a big way for the ruling party candidates and rejected the Akali candidates. There was no substance in what had been said by Mr Balwinder Singh in the House.

Defending his party and the conduct of elections, Mrs Bhattal said that Akalis should not forget what they did to the Congress men when they were in power. She gave the instance how Wassan Singh Zaffarwal’s appeals were used by akalis to win the Majitha byelection. She gave many other such examples. “I did not receive a single complaint from any quarter regarding any mischief in the holding of elections of Zila Parishads and block samitis from any where”, she said.

Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Punjab Local Bodies Minister, said that no wrong had been committed in elections of Corporations. The ruling party got a massive mandate in these elections which the SAD-BJP alliance could not reconcile. To charges and allegations of misdoings in Corporation elections had no basis, he asserted.


BJP distances itself from Akalis over graft

Chandigarh, June 20
The Punjab BJP today distanced itself from the multicrore-rupee PPSC recruitment scam and corruption cases against former ministers belonging to its alliance partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), saying that it had, in fact, warned former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against the rampant corruption in the state.

“We had been warning Mr Badal against corruption during our government by specifying cases like irregularities in the PPSC and conveying to him that this could be the reason of our defeat in the state elections,” Punjab BJP general secretary Avinash Jaiswal told reporters at a press conference here.

The senior Punjab BJP leader’s assertions are in contrast to Mr Badal’s stand that he had never been informed by any individual or organisation about the recruitment scandal during his tenure.

Asked to comment on the Vigilance raids being conducted against Akali leaders over charges of corruption, Mr Jaiswal said he would not be surprised if some of them were found guilty.

“What can we say on this? Let the things be investigated... I can only convey my party’s (BJP’s) principled stand against corruption,” he said.

Mr Jaiswal said the BJP appreciated the Amarinder Singh government’s drive against corruption, but added that “This has to go beyond targeting the Opposition leaders.”

Responding to a question, he clarified that the state party delegation, which met Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee this morning in New Delhi, had not discussed the Akalis’ demand for a visit of an NDA team to Punjab to assess “repression by the Congress government” of Opposition leaders.

“This is an individual demand of the Akalis which has to be supported by the BJP for both the parties being allies,’’ Mr Jaiswal said.

Mr Jaiswal said the party delegation, however, apprised the PM of the worsening law and order situation in the state following “the misuse of government machinery by the ruling Congress leaders” during elections to the local bodies and zila parishad and panchayat samitis.

He alleged that several party leaders were being booked under false criminal cases. “The Punjab police has booked a false case of attempt to murder under Section 307 of the IPC against BJP leader Balwant Rai and seven of his party colleagues in Patiala,” he alleged.

In another case, he further said, a BJP activist, Ms Gayatri Devi, and four of her party colleagues had recently been severely beaten, allegedly by some local Congressmen in Kotkapura.

“An FIR related to the incident was filed only after tremendous pressure from the public,” he claimed.

Mr Jaiswal said the delegation also urged the PM to induct BJP Lok Sabha member from Gurdaspur — Vinod Khanna — into the Union Cabinet in case of an expected expansion of the Central Council of Ministers.

“This request has been made for the sake of the Punjab BJP’s representation at the Centre,” he said. UNI


Order to produce Sidhu before Special Judge
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 20
Mrs Harinder Sidhu, local Judicial Magistrate, today ordered that Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, should be produced before the Special Judge, Ropar, on June 21. Sidhu was produced before this court on a production warrant issued by the court yesterday.

Mr Jatinder Jit Singh Punn and Mr M.P. Shahi, both public prosecutors, appeared in the court and said that Sidhu was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau in connection with an FIR No. 7 dated March 25, 2002, registered at SAS Nagar under the Prevention of Corruption Act. They said now a few more sections of the IPC, that is 467, 468 and 471 had been added to the FIR and Sidhu was to be arrested under these sections. They pleaded for permission of court to arrest him again.

The defence counsel, on the other hand, opposed the demand of the prosecution and said this court had no jurisdiction to allow the application of the prosecution as the accused had already been sent in judicial custody by the Special Judge, Ropar. The Judge forwarded all papers to the Special Judge, Ropar, without passing any order on merit.


Jagman again denied bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 20
The interim bail application filed by Jagman Singh, an accused in the PPSC recruitment scam, on June 13, was dismissed by Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today.

Jagman Singh, through his counsel, had filed the application for grant of interim bail on the ground that his wife was in an advanced stage of pregnancy and there was nobody to look after her. His earlier bail application, filed on April 22, was dismissed by the Sessions Judge on May 29.

In today’s order, the Sessions Judge mentioned that during the course of arguments in the previous bail application, the counsel for the applicant had made a prayer that he be released on interim bail as his wife was in an advanced stage of pregnancy, but the bail application had been dismissed. When the prayer for grant of interim bail had been rejected, the second application on the same ground was not maintainable.


Vigilance seeks Sidhu’s production warrant
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 20
The Punjab Vigilance Department today moved an application seeking the production warrants of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, with regard to a case registered against him here. The Duty Magistrate, Mr Ranjit Kumar Jain, has given notice to the defence counsel of Mr Sidhu, Mr Sahib Singh Dhindsa, for tomorrow in the case.


No ban on filling posts by promotion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Responding to a call attention notice, Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh stated in the Punjab Assembly today the Chief Secretary had issued necessary clarification by writing a letter to all administrative secretaries that there was no ban on the filling of posts by promotion from the feeding cadre.

The notice was given by the three BJP MLAs — Mr Tikshan Sud, Mr Sukhpal Singh and Mr Avinash Khanna.

However, justifying the decision to abolish the vacant posts, he said that if such remedial measures were not taken to deal with the serious financial situation, the situation would have led to default in the payment of salaries and pensions to employees and debt servicing etc.

Responding to another notice moved by Mr Birdevinder Singh, Punjab Public Works Minister Partap Singh Bajwa said that the work on a Rs 40-crore bridge over Sutlej on the Jagraon-Nakodar road had been stopped for two months following the collapse of five beams of this bridge. One Executive Engineer (XEN) of the Public Works Department, posted to supervise the work, had been suspended. Besides, a high-level inquiry had been ordered. He said that construction work was being handled by one of the leading companies of India.

Mr Birdevinder Singh asked whether there was a proposal to blacklist the company and whether any guarantee had been obtained against such mishap in future.

A resolution moved by Mr Birdevinder Singh to appreciate the efforts of the state government to root out corruption was talked out.

Earlier during the question hour, Punjab Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar said that there were 22 buildings such as rest houses, occupied by the police in various districts. No rent had been paid by the police for these buildings except for the old office building at Harike.The question was asked by Mr Birdevinder Singh.

Responding to a question of Mr Balbir Singh Bath, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister of State for Revenue, said that no final decision had been taken to give honorarium to Lambardars in villages. Replying to a question of Mr Joginder Singh Mann that whether any advertisements were given by Municipal Committees and Improvement Trusts for a brochure published by the BJP to commemorate its 50th anniversary, Local Bodies Minister Jagjit Singh replied in the affirmative. He said that, if needed, an inquiry would be conducted. He also gave a list of the amount paid by several such bodies for their advertisements.

Mr Khushal Bahl said that the Punjab Government had not imposed any cut in the grant to Panjab University and it was being paid regularly on the basis of laid down formula. He said that in 1998-99 a grant of Rs 16.44 crore was paid. However, there was no proposal to increase the grant. The question was asked by Mr Harnam Dass Johar. Replying to a question of Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, the Education Minister said that almost all appointments made in the Education Department by previous governments were being looked into by various government agencies, including the Vigilance Bureau.


Shylocks still prowl in villages
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 20
The era of village Shylocks usurping land of the farmers in debt may have faded from memory, but it is a harsh reality that even after the British enacted the Punjab Debtors Protection Act, 1936, to guarantee inalienability of half the farmer’s land and the security of his assets, more than 3 per cent of land in rural Punjab passes into the hands of the moneylenders even today.

The British, unlike the present-day governments, had realised the genesis and plight of the farmers and had — under the doctrine of dam — dupat — decreed that no recovery for any sum larger than twice the advanced amount could be effected. For this, they had set up the Debt Reconciliation Boards in 1934. At that time the total debt of united Punjab stood at Rs 135 crore.

Today, the condition is just as critical. Moneylenders often arhtiyas, charge exorbitant rates of interest which the farmer is unable to pay. Thus, starts a vicious circle which ultimately ends by his becoming landless or in his death.

A cross-section of commission agents and moneylenders, on condition of anonymity, told TNS that they were unaware of the 1943 Act but had been resorting to taking over the land mortgaged to them in lieu of money through legal documents or even on the basis of entries in their ‘bahis’ — ledgers. Most of them were non-committal on the sums advanced by them to the farmers, its source or whether the interest charged thereof was intimated to the farmers at regular intervals. A majority of them agreed that if any legislation makes it mandatory for them to declare loans forwarded in excess of a certain amount, it would affect their business. But at the same time added that it would be in the lenders interest since there would be no possibility of the debtor concealing the extent of his indebtedness. The government would also be the gainer since a lot of black money would be unearthed as a majority of the loans would be declared null and void on account of being usurious, they opined.

Non-institutional debt today comprises between 60 per cent and 80 per cent of total rural debt of Rs 10, 000 crore. Investigations by the Movement Against State Repression (MASR) into rising incidents of suicides by farmers are an eye opener of the magnitude of the problem. According to the report, the interest rate charged by the money lenders varied from 24 per cent to 60 per cent — depending on the urgency of the loanee. Since, banks covered a “mere 20 per cent of the cost of agricultural production” and the need of the farmer was pressing, he had no option but to knock on the door of the moneylender.

If certain measures, both legislative and legal, were initiated by the government, the problem could be solved to a large extent. First, waiving interest of the marginal and small farmer and if not possible, a three-year moratorium on the recovery of the principal amount should be imposed. Kisan cards should be issued to farmers to enable them to avail of loans without delays.

In the case of non-institutional finance, the government should strictly enforce existing legislations outlawing usurious debts. It should be made mandatory for the commission agents to make declaration of loan money over a certain amount within a month. The government could establish Debt Reconciliation Boards on the pattern of the 1934 Act. If other Acts could be a carryover from the colonial era, why not re-enact a good piece of legislation, the study reasoned.

(To be concluded)


5,703 cases of power theft detected
Rs 1.5-cr penalty slapped on guilty
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 20
Even as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has issued fresh instructions to its staff to withhold delivery of electricity bills to consumers who migrated from the Indo-Pakistan border to safer places after the Army build-up, flying squads slapped a penalty to the tune of Rs 1.5 crore on 5,703 consumers who were found indulging in power theft.

Giving details, Mr C.J. Rai, Chief Engineer (Border Zone), said the premises of 15,872 consumers, especially in posh colonies, were raided by the flying squads as part of a special drive launched last month which detected that 5,703 consumers were indulging in power theft. Of the total penalty of Rs 1.5 crore, the PSEB had already recovered Rs 1.19 crore.

Mr Rai said there were more than 3000 consumers who had migrated from zero line after the heightened tension in the region. They would not be delivered electricity bills as directed by the Chief Minister. He said the consumers who had already received the bills and had not paid these should not fear disconnection. He said subdivisional officials had been asked to meticulously follow the instructions of the state government and the board in this regard.

In yet another development, the PSEB has chalked out a plan to provide an alternative source of power supply to the owners of 945 tubewells which fell in the mine areas on the Indo-Pakistan border (in both Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts).

Meanwhile, the Chief Engineer has issued instructions to Superintending Engineers/Executive Engineers to ensure uninterrupted power supply to the villages of the border belt.

The board has introduced “energy accounting”. It has also opened consumer-care centres which would help consumers in getting their grievances redressed on a priority basis.

Mr Rai said efforts were being made to release power connections within a week.


Panel seeks report on old-age pension scam
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
Taking cognizance of a report published in The Tribune (May 12) about the Rs 23-crore old-age pension scam, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has directed the Principal Secretary (Home) and IGP (Litigation) to submit a report to the commission before August 29.

The order of the commission reads, “Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi, a social activist, had filed this complaint borrowing facts from a news report in The Tribune which pertains to the old-age pension scam.

The news report states that Mr Satya Pal Dang, a CPI leader, in his statement had stated that about 10 agents, including the kingpin of the whole scam, Surinder Kumar, a panch, who used to get pensions sanctioned to bogus and ineligible persons, had still not been arrested. The news report went on to state that a case was registered against Surinder Kumar on the orders of the then SSP, Mr Parmpal Singh Sidhu. However, he managed to get bail from the high court. Subsequently, another case was registered by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Chandigarh against him recently. Mr Dang further stated in his press statement that the high court had rejected the application of Surinder Kumar following registration of a new case but he had managed to evade arrest till then.

The news item of The Tribune further stated that the money involved in the pension scam was to the tune of Rs 23 crore.”

The commission’s direction further reads that “in view of the serious allegations coming as they do from the mouth of a social stalwart and activist, Mr Dang, and the high stake involved in the scam, the commission considers it as a fit case for taking cognizance of the matter under the provisions of the Protection of the Human Rights Act. The complaint be registered as a case.” In his order, Mr T.S. Cheema, member of the commission, stated that the “Principal Secretary (Home) and IGP (Litigation) shall submit a report to the commission with regard to the allegations of the complaint.”


Tota Singh remanded till June 23
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 20
Ms Harinder Sidhu, Duty Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Mr Tota Singh, former Education Minister, Punjab, in police remand till June 23.

The public prosecutors demanded police remand of 10 days for the accused. They pleaded that information was yet to be collected from the accused about ETT admissions and two plots purchased by him in SAS Nagar. They said record regarding misuse of telephone and car of the Punjab School Education Board had been recovered by the Vigilance Bureau. They said information was required from the accused about six acres purchased by him near Moga and Mr Kehar Singh, Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board.

The defence counsel, on the other hand, opposed the demand of police remand. They said vague allegations had been levelled against the accused. They sought exact dates on which property had been purchased by him during his tenure as minister.

Meanwhile, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, met Mr Tota Singh for about 20 minutes. A large number of his supporters also met Mr Tota Singh as he was taken out of the judicial complex.

The police made tight security arrangements.


Anti-corruption drive politically motivated: BJP
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 20
Ms Gurcharan Kaur, an MP and senior BJP leader, said yesterday that the BJP’s support to Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam for the President’s post showed that the party did not have ill-will against any particular community.

Ms Gurcharan Kaur, while addressing a meeting of party workers here, said the allegations of other parties that the BJP was communal party had been proved baseless with the party supporting Dr Kalan only on merit.

She praised the decision of the Congress to support Dr Kalam as a good gesture and criticised the Left parties for opposing his candidature.

She alleged that the anti-corruption campaign launched by the Punjab Government was politically motivated. If the Congress government was serious about taking action against corrupt politicians, it should indict those Congress leaders against whom charges had been levelled in Lok Pal, she said.

The local BJP unit office-bearers, including district president Gulzar Singh, were present at the meeting.


Concern over rise in AIDS cases
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 20
Experts have expressed concern over the unprecedented rise in suspected AIDS cases in the district. At a seminar organised here today, the Primary Medical Officer of the BBMB Canal Hospital said though the number of full-blown AIDS cases in Punjab was just 203, as per the latest data released by the National AIDS Control Organisation, the number of HIV-positive cases was much higher.

Patients coming to the hospital were being tested for AIDS through TRIDOT method, which had 70 per cent reliability. Such patients were being advised to go to the PGI in Chandigarh for confirmatory tests. However, most of them were not going for the tests due to the social stigma attached with it. They acted as carriers of the AIDS virus to other persons, he said.

Dr V.K. Jaswal, a private practitioner, said the number of suspected AIDS cases in the area had been increasing at such a pace that the disease might take the form of an epidemic in the near future. In the preliminary tests conducted for testing AIDS at his clinic, almost one to two patients had tested positive a month on an average. The most dangerous trend was that most private clinics were not keeping kits to check patients for AIDS. By doing this, they were exposing the healthy patients to the danger of getting infected with AIDS.

The government should make it mandatory for all private clinics to keep AIDS detection kits. The doctors should also take up the social responsibility to assure that they did not accidentally infect healthy patients with AIDS virus.

The seminar, organised by a local NGO ARPAN, was attended by about 200 truck drivers and owners associated with the Nangal Truck Union. The ADC (General), Ropar, Mr Vikas Garg, presided over the seminar.

Mr D.P. Singh, while addressing the seminar, stressed the need to involve religious institutions in spreading AIDS awareness. Mr R.C. Roy, Principal of the Shivalik College of Pharmacy, told about the latest research in the field of medicine regarding AIDS.

Research in the field of ayurveda had provided effective treatment for AIDS, he said.

Mr Kuldeep Chand, Director of Arpan, said in Punjab, truck drivers were the main carriers of the disease. The government had now launched a campaign to make them aware about the dangers the disease posed to life and family.

The NGO had also launched a programme to spread awareness regarding AIDS among about 5000 truck drivers in the district.


Brickbats for Budget
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, June 20
The local unit of the Punjab State Ministerial Services Union has flayed the provisions announced by the Punjab Government in the 2002-03 Budget. In a statement issued here today, the President of the union, Mr G.S. Grewal, said the government had failed to keep the promises made earlier.

Instead of striving for greater welfare of the employees, the government had cut down on the existing facilities and welfare measures, the statement said. From the government’s action, it was evident that no political leader could be trusted, the statement added. The statement added that the union would launch a stir against the provisions in the Budget. A meeting of representatives of various employees’ union in Punjab was scheduled to be held in Ludhiana on June 22 to discuss the issue and chalk out further strategy.

The union also urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Finance Minister Mr Lal Singh, to review the decisions announced in the Budget so that the welfare of the employees was not hampered and any showdown between the government and employees was averted.

In an other statement, members of the Council of Trade Unions (CTU), Bathinda, said the Budget was anti-employees and harsh on the masses. The CTU also expressed apprehensions that as a fallout of the Budget provisions, thousands of government employees might be rendered unemployed.

Further, imposition of toll tax on newly constructed roads and bridges would hit the lower class who had to commute daily to earn their livelihood. The CTU also flayed the increase in rates of drinking water and sewerage in the state.

FARIDKOT: The Punjab Beopar Mandal on Thursday expressed concern over the government proposals to withdraw various concessions to the trading community in the Budget. Mr Madan Lal Kapoor and Mr Bimal Gupta, President and Patron of the body, respectively, said enforcing modified value-added tax to eradicate theft of sales tax in the state would create more complications for the businessmen who were under stress due to a harassment at the hands of the Excise and Taxation Department.

Introduction of exim forms, besides imposition of sales tax on 206 different items would also create problems for the traders. They regretted that withdrawal of sales tax exemption for five to seven years to start new industrial units would give a setback to the state industry which was facing a financial crisis. This policy would also cause harm to the economic conditions of the state.

Mr Kapoor and Mr Gupta also regretted the failure of the state government to file a writ petition in the Supreme Court against the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court of reimposition of octroi in the state. Non-removal of barriers was another problem for the business community. They further stated that the imposition of cess on petrol would also affect the economic condition of the middle class families.


Budget agitates Punjab doctors
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association, Punjab, has decided to gear up its ongoing agitation against the review of the non-practicing allowance and hike in user charges for the common man at government hospitals in the Budget by the Finance Minister, Punjab, Mr Lal Singh.

Stating this in a press note, the association said all the district units had been directed to hold meetings and the state executive body meeting at the ESI Hospital, Ludhiana, on June 23, would decide the further line of action.

In a representation, the association has put forward that the Budget is totally against the interests of doctors and the common man.


Construction of roads to be probed
Our Correspondent

Bhucho mandi (Bathinda), June 20
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday ordered an inquiry to be conducted by the Deputy Director, Department of Local Bodies, into the alleged use of substandard material for building roads in the town.

Mr Verma along with the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh, was here to listen to the grievances of panchayats, councillors and other people at a sangat darshan. Some of the councillors of the local municipal council alleged that some officials and the president of the council were biased while undertaking development works in the town.

Councillors Budh Ram, Raj Kumar and Ashok Kumar alleged that the development works in the ward of the president of the council were undertaken vigorously while some other wards were totally ignored. They said some of the roads laid a few months ago were in bad shape because substandard material was used.

On hearing the complaints Mr Verma asked the SDM, Mr Upjeet Singh Brar, to inspect the roads, and give report immediately.

Some of the councillors even said that they would resign from the council if an investigation into the matter was not undertaken. They alleged that officials and councillors belonging to the majority group did not listen to their problems.

Ms Santosh Devi, president of the council, said as she did not attend the sangat darshan she did not know what transpired there. However, she said that no discrimination was made while undertaking development works.

The SDM, while confirming that he had been asked to inspect the roads, said he was not aware whether an inquiry had been ordered into the case. Mr Verma, however, confirmed that the Deputy Director of the Local Bodies Department had been asked to conduct an inquiry and submit the report within four months.


Police remand for ultras till June 26
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 20
Two ultras, Amandeep Singh and Mahavir Singh, arrested by the local police yesterday have been remanded in police custody till June 26.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Moga, told TNS that they were produced before the judicial court of Mr K.K. Bansal here this morning. On the request of the local police, they were remanded for six days.

Meanwhile, interrogations have revealed that the two militants got the pistols from Mastan Singh, a weapons’ supply agent of militants, to kill Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, who was charged of sacrilege to Guru Granth Sahib.

The militants had tried to kill the Baba at Anandpur Sahib recently, when he was in judicial court complex where he had been called for a hearing in the court. As the Baba was accompanied by a number of security persons, both of them did not dare to shoot him.


Hearing on Dy Director’s bail plea adjourned
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 20
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, adjourned for July 9 hearing on the anticipatory bail application of Ms Kiran Dhawan, Deputy Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, here today. Ms Dhawan was an accused in the junior engineers’ recruitment scam in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab. The public prosecutor stated in the court that he had not received the record related to the case and sought adjournment.

Under these circumstances, the court adjourned hearing on the anticipatory bail application for July 9 for consideration.

In his order, the Sessions Judge mentioned as the record had not been produced by the prosecution, the arrest of the applicant be stayed till the next date of hearing.

Ms Dhawan filed her second anticipatory bail application on June 17. Her earlier anticipatory bail application was rejected on May 20.


Remand of Langah’s agents extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 20
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, extended till July 9 the judicial remand of Amrik Singh Mohali, Gurcharan Singh Channi, Pradeep Bhateja and Kamaljit Singh, alias Neetu alleged touts of former Punjab PWD Minister Sucha Singh Langah, here today.

The Sessions Judge remanded them in judicial custody till July 9 as the challan in the case had not been presented and the investigation was pending. They were produced in the court after the expiry of their earlier judicial remand today.

The Sessions Judge also adjourned hearing on the bail application of Amrik Singh Mohali for June 22.


Villagers seek action against doctor
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 20
More than 200 men and women of nearby Rurrka Kalan village held a demonstration and staged a dharna in front of the SDM office, and civil hospital, here for more than three hours to protest against the corrupt practice of a Medical Officer of the Civil Hospital, Phillaur, Dr (Mrs) Sidhu, today.

The demonstrators were led by Mela Singh Gill, sarpanch Rurrka Kalan, Sarabjit Singh Gill, cashier, Shaheed Bhagat Singh Naujwan Sabha, district Jalandhar, Ram Saroop Saroya, sarpanch Sarkandi.

Demonstrators alleged that Dr (Mrs) Usha Sidhu, Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, Phillaur, had demanded money to conduct the medical examination of an eight-year-old girl who was allegedly raped by Maghar Singh on June 12. The suspect had been arrested by the police. They alleged that the doctor had refused to conduct the medical examination without getting the money.

The doctor, however, denied these allegations.

Irate residents of the village presented memorandums to Phillaur SDM Sandeep Hans and Senior Medical Officer of the Civil Hospital and demanded immediate suspension of the doctor.


Over 50 pc vets ‘want to migrate to Canada’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 20
Over 50 per cent veterinary officers employed with the Punjab Government wish to migrate to Canada in view of the fast increasing demand. This was revealed by Dr Ajaib Singh and Dr Mandeep Singh, president and general secretary, respectively of the Muktsar district unit of the Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association today.

They earlier addressed a rally of veterinary officers in protest against state government’s proposal to cancel all selections made by the PPSC during the tenure of Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu.

The association claimed that 330 veterinarians were selected by the PPSC on the basis of merit. Only meritorious students were selected to the BVSC and AH courses after clearing the common entrance test conducted by PAU. Merit in the BVSC and AH course plus marks obtained in the interview by technical experts had been the criteria for selection. Since no written test was conducted, chances of corruption were less. Moreover all those selected by the PPSC in the past five years had cleared the departmental test to testify their professional knowledge.

Dr Ajaib Singh said most of the veterinarians belonged to middle class families, how could they afford to give Rs 2 lakh to Rs 4 lakh as bribe.


Two murder cases solved
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 20
Wih the arrest of Arun Kumar and Sukhdev Singh of Tibber village, the police here claims to have solved murder cases of Surjit Singh of Ladhupur village whose body was found from UBDC canal at Dhariwal on June 9 and Vishal Kumar of Tibber whose body was found from Ladhupur in March last year.

Mr B.K. Uppal, SSP, talking to newsmen here, yesterday said, the accused with a view to snatching the motor cycle of Surjeet Singh gave sleeping pills to him and after killing him on June 8 threw his body in UBDC canal near Dhariwal.

Mr Uppal said, during interrogation the accused confessed to having killed Vishal, alias Kala, of Tiboor in March last year. Vishal had been declared proclaimed offender in the murder case of Navneet Kumar who was also killed in March last year.


Award for thermal plant
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 20
While the state government has proposed a change in the award of generation allowance to the employees of the various thermal plants of the state, the more than 25-year-old Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP), which has crossed its expiry date, has won a cash award of Rs 12.88 lakh for the 10th year in row.

Mr Sharat Chander Mahajan, Chief Engineer, GNDTP, in a press note issued here yesterday said that the plant achieved significant savings in the consumption of fuel oil during 1999 and 2000. He said the Union Government had introduced the cash prize for thermal plants that achieved savings in the consumption of fuel oil during 1992.


34 Punjab IAS, PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
The Punjab Government ordered following 34 transfers and fresh postings of IAS and PCS officers today:

Ms Bhawna Garg goes to Ludhiana as SDM (East); Mr Ajoy Sharma becomes SDM (West), Ludhiana; Mr Desh Deepak will be the new SDM, Khadoor Sahib; Mr Jagir Singh has been posted SDM, Malout; Mr Bhupinder Singh becomes SDM, Tarn Taran; Mr Rajinder Pal Singh will be SDM, Kapurthala, and hold an additional charge of AC(General), Kapurthala; Mr Pritam Singh will be the SDM as well as the AC (General), Nawanshahr; Mr Sukhwinder Singh goes to Bathinda as AC (Grievances); Mr Pritpal Singh gets an additional charge of the Executive Magistrate (Hoshiarpur); Mr Gurtej Singh will be the SDM-cum-AC(General), Ferozepore; Dr Jaswant Singh will be the SDM-cum-AC(Grievances)-cum-Executive Magistrate, Amritsar; Mr Gurwaryam Singh is the new SDM, Amritsar-II; Ms Indu Malhotra has been posted the SDM-cum-AC(General), Mansa; Mr Ashwani Kumar goes as the DTO-cum-AC (General and Grievances), Fatehgarh Sahib; Mr Malwinder Singh Jaggi will be the AC (Grievances and General), Ludhiana; Mr Manpreet Singh will be the DTO-cum-AC (General), Sangrur; Mr Dilraj Singh is the SDM, Baba Bakala; Mr T.S. Dhaliwal becomes the DTO-cum-AC (General), Gurdaspur; Mr Pradeep Kumar is the SDM, Malerkotla-cum-AC (Grievances), Sangrur; Mr Kuldip Singh, SDM, Dhar Kalan-cum-DC, Resettlement and Rehabilitation, Ranjit Sagar Dam, Shahpur Kandi-cum-LAC, Ranjit Sagar Dam; Ms Gurpreet Kaur Sapra will be the DDULB, Amritsar-cum-Executive Officer, PUDA, Amritsar; Mr Jaskiran Singh, SDM, Abohar; Mr Rajiv Prashar is DTO-cum-AC (General), Muktsar; Mr G.S. Khera is AC(Grievances)-cum-Executive Magistrate, Gurdaspur; Ms Surinder Kaur Riar is AC(Grievances and General), Ropar; Mr Ajmer Singh is the SDM, Dhuri; Mr Surinder Singh Sidhu is DTO-cum-AC (General), Moga; Mr Avtar Chand Sharma is the Secretary, RTA-cum-AC (Grievances)-cum-Executive Magistrate, Ferozepore; Mr Vimal Kumar Setia is DTO-cum-AC (Grievances), Kapurthala; Mr Devinder Singh is SDM-cum-AC(General), Faridkot; Ms Parneet Shergill is Administrative Officer, PWD (B&R),Patiala and AC (Grievances), Patiala; Mr Harbir Singh is AC(General), Jalandhar; Ms Ranjit Kaur is Executive Magistrate, Jalandhar; and Ms Poonamdeep Kaur is AC (General)-cum-Executive Magistrate, Patiala.


Interview call for no day
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
A number of candidates, who had applied for Class IV posts in the office of the Auditor General, Punjab, were in for surprise as the interview call letters, received by them did not mention the date of interview. Even the office address mentioned on these letters was not correct.

One such candidate, Mr Nitin Sharma, a resident of Sector 22, alleged that he had received a call letter from the department in which interview date was not mentioned. He was more surprised, when tried to approach the officials concerned, at the address mentioned in the letters — 20-21, Sector 17-E. There was no of AG, Punjab office, there.

With much difficulty, he was able to locate, the office of the AG, Punjab, near bus stand, in Sector 17 today. He said for seven Class IV posts, more than 700 candidates had been called for the interview, which was held today.

Another candidate also made a similar complaint. He had also received an interview call letter that did not mention the date of interview. He said, “Since there are only three or four posts in the general category, someone has deliberately played mischief to befool the candidates. I have to spend more than Rs 100 to locate the office and to know the exact date of the interview. If they want to select someone else, they should not have called us at all,’’ he added.


4 lakh saplings to be planted in Fatehgarh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 20
Four lakh saplings would be planted on roadsides and vacant land of panchayats in the district. Presiding over a district officers’ meeting at Bachat Bhavan, Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, directed officers concerned to remove the encroachments on road sides so that the trees may be planted by the Forest Department. He told that the saplings were ready with the Forest Department. He said that one lakh saplings would be planted by various social organisations in the district. The Deputy Commissioner further said that a campaign against AIDS would be launched in the district by the Health Departments.


Vehicle thieves arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 20
The district police has busted a gang of criminals by arresting four of its members, who used to sell stolen cars by using fake documents. Five vehicles have been recovered from them.

Mr Opinderjit Singh Ghumman, DSP, said here today that on a tip-off that some persons were involved in the sale of stolen cars by using fake documents, the police yesterday laid nakas at different points in Nakodar and arrested the four. They are Jang Bahadur Singh, Gurvinder Singh, Shingara Singh and Onkar Singh. Later, the police recovered one Toyota, one Bolero, two Maruti Zen and one Maruti 800 from their possession.

Meanwhile, the district police claims to have busted a flesh trade racket, in the city with the arrest of four persons, including two women. Those arrested have been identified as Darshan Kaur, Seema, Balbir Singh and Pritam Singh.


Pirated CDs, porn films seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
A large number of CDs were seized by the police in two separate raids conducted on fish market and Ravidas Road late last evening. A large number of pirated CDs of new Hindi films and pornographic films were seized. Six persons, including the owners of the shops were arrested.

Mr Kanwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP-I, at a press conference, revealed that Mr Suresh Kumar and Mr Ranbir Singh, employees of Annam and Sangam cinema halls, respectively, had approached him and complained that Sardar Electronics in the fish market and a shop at the Ravidas Road had been selling pirated CDs of films like ‘Shaheed’ and’ The Legend of Bhagat Singh’ on rent. Following this, raids were conducted and the CDs seized.

The SP said the accused used to copy the films from the CDs purchased from Dubai and Delhi. Palwinder Singh and Gurmeet Singh Chinna, owners of Sardar Electronics, and a shop situated on the Ravidas Road, respectively, were arrested. A case has been registered under Sections 292, 293 and 420 of the IPC and Sections 51, 52A, 64, 66, 68 of the Copyright Act. Further investigations are on and more raids will be conducted to seize the computers and other apparatus used for copying, the SP said.

Meanwhile, the wholesalers of CDs in the fish market today launched an agitation and held dharnas against the raids.


2 arrested for murder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 20
The police today claimed to have solved the murder case of Darshan Kumar, brother of a municipal councillor, Surinder Pal Kaur Mangat, by arresting the brother-in-law of the deceased and another person.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said in a press note issued here today that David Kumar Chopra, alias Babu, husband of Ms Surinder Pal Kaur, had allegedly murdered Darshan Kumar with the help of his brother Goga on June 11. A case in this connection was registered under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.

The SSP said Ms Mangat had identified the body of Darshan Kumar who had injury marks on different parts of the body.


Sarpanch held with poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 20
The police has arrested Thana Singh, sarpanch of Mohallan village, against whom many cases have been registered. Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said in a press note issued today that Thana Singh was arrested yesterday while he was carrying 18 kg of poppy husk in a car. The SSP said 72 kg of poppy husk belonging to Thana Singh was recovered from a tractor trailer.


PTU unearths exam scam
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 20
Punjab Technical University (PTU) has detected cases regarding use of unfair means involving a Director-cum-Controller of the J.D. Institute of Management and Technology and National College of Information Technology, Muktsar. He allegedly used to allow a few chosen students to attempt their papers again after these had been sealed and entrusted in his custody.

The alleged involvement of Mr Sham Lal Goyal, Director-cum-Controller of the institute, in the case came to light when a special team dispatched by the PTU Vice-Chancellor, Dr H.S. Gurm, laid a trap and seized a packet containing some papers of BCA first semester from his official almirah just after completion of the examination. Papers of three students had been found missing from the packet, the seal of which had also been found to have been broken.

Talking to The Tribune, Dr Gurm said the trap had been laid after a number of complaints had been received that the said official had been favouring some students by allowing them to attempt their papers again. He said Mr Goyal had allowed some students to take the papers to their homes so that they could attempt their half-done papers again properly.

A PTU team had sealed the office of Mr Goyal after the latter had failed to turn up after repeatedly being asked to do so. Later, the team had opened the almirah and had found that the sealed packet containing papers had been torn, with papers of three students missing. Dr Gurm said the university had got an FIR registered against Mr Goyal and had recommended his removal from the institute management.


PTU plans seminars on IT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 20
Punjab Technical University will soon hold a series of seminars on IT throughout Punjab to create an awareness about the advanced programmes used by professionals around the world in information technology.

Talking to the mediapersons here, Mr A. S. Grewal, Director Outreach, PTU, said, “These seminars will be conducted by our study centres and regional service providers in their respective zones at the regional level. We will cover all six zones to interact with the students. Each seminar will have a different topic”.

Referring to the need for creating awareness for the new courses, he said, “Most of the students who want to adopt IT as a career are unable to take the right decision due to lack of proper guidance and information. Generally, either they get half-baked or wrong information, which can spoil their career. We are trying to provide them a platform of clear, complete and latest information of the information technology world.”

According to Mr Grewal, the topics will be focused on the latest developments in information technology, in terms of most advanced software and latest programmes available globally and the kind of IT professionals required in the future market. Mr Grewal said, “In the present market scenario where there is a tough competition in the market all over the world, it is very necessary to update and meet those standards. All programmes run by the PTU are based on international parameters and the latest trends of industry. Being affordable, it is within the reach of even the middle and lower middle class. We are playing an effective role for the higher education of girls as most of the parents of rural and semi urban areas are not willing to send their daughters to colleges in big cities for higher education, Now with distance education study centres, even they can get quality education at their doorstep and have an opportunity to put themselves on a par with the other students.”


Additional subjects create row
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 20
A decision of the Punjab School Education Board to decide merit of the candidates who appeared in this year’s matriculation examination, on the basis of marks secured in six subjects, instead of the total eight, is attracting strong criticism from candidates.

The issue has already been raised in the ongoing session of Vidhan Sabha. The board has already announced to declare the result on June 25. According to the information available, the Punjab Government had last year directed the board to introduce two new subjects in Classes VIII and X, thus raising the total number of subjects to eight.

Two subjects — physical education and an additional subject — have been introduced from this year. It had been categorically told that the total marks for the middle and the matric classes would be 800 and 850, respectively. Merit for this year’s middle class results was ascertained on the basis of eight subjects. However, the same yardstick was not being adopted for the Class X.

It is learnt that the officials took the plea that in case of compartment in two subjects, the supplementary examinations were held. But with the addition of two more subjects, if the candidates were allowed to take supplementary exams in four subjects, it would almost amount to holding another annual examination.

A senior official of the board said since the new subjects had been introduced for the first time, proper books and the teachers were not available in all schools. He said the two subjects did not help in calculating the actual merit of candidates as marks in these subjects were awarded by respective schools on the basis of practicals.


Fee refund eludes ex-student
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 20
Priya Goyal, a BDS student, is still waiting for the refund of fee and other charges paid to a dental college at Dera Bassi, although she migrated to another institution in February.

A first-year BDS student at Guru Nanak Dev Dental College and Research Institute, Sunam (Sangrur), she spends half of her time communicating with the authorities of National Dental College and Hospital, Dera Bassi, for getting the fee refunded. She says she cannot concentrate on studies as her attention is being diverted.

She is not the only student who is suffering at the hands of private dental colleges. The authorities of private dental colleges make excuses to delay the refund of fee to those students who migrated from there to some other institutes.

She was allotted a seat under the free category at the Dera Bassi dental college on the basis of the PMET conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, in 2001. She had got admission at the institute and had paid Rs 24,250. According to a notification of the Punjab Government issued on June 1, 2001, private dental colleges can charge Rs 11,000 from each student who gets admission under the free category. The college authorities had asked her to deposit administration fee, internship and eligibility fee and the tuition fee.

She said on the second counselling by the university in February this year, she had got a seat at a dental college at Sunam. She added that as the college was near her hometown, she had preferred to migrate there. She said she had paid the whole fee again at the Sunam dental college.

Priya Goyal alleged that when she requested the authorities of the Dera Bassi college to refund the fee, they did not entertain her request in a suitable manner. She added that they did not give any satisfactory reply to her repeated queries.

When she failed to get any positive response, she had sent a legal notice to the college authorities. Even the legal notice had not been taken seriously and no ‘responsible’ reply had been given.

She said she had thought of taking further legal recourse, but as the same could take time and money would be spent for hiring some lawyer, she had abandoned the idea. She added that it was up to the college authorities to return the fees charged.

Mr Gurbir Singh Sandhu, Chairman of National Dental College and Hospital, Dera Bassi, when contacted, at his residence in Chandigarh on telephone, confirmed that the institution had to refund the fee to Priya Goyal as she had migrated to another college. He said due to paucity of funds, the fee could not be refunded immediately after migration. He added that arrangements would soon be made for the same.

Mr Sandhu said they had not overcharged the students. He said Rs 11,000, as prescribed in the government notification, was tuition fee. He added that private colleges could ask for other funds as security. He said Ms Goyal had been given concession as she belonged to a poor family and others had paid an amount to the tune of Rs one lakh. He said the amount was refundable after the students completed the course.

Mr Sandhu said as the economic condition of the college was not good, they could not arrange for the refund. He said after migration at least 15 seats in the institution remained vacant. He added that the institution would refund fee to all those who had migrated to other institutions.

He said on June 23, new admissions would be made and new students would deposit the fee and other charges. He said fee to migrated students would be refunded after the new admissions. Mr Sandh showed ignorance about any legal notice being sent to the college. He said the staff at the institution could tell about this.


GND varsity to start MCA course
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 20
Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to start a five-year integrated MCA course on the university campus here from the current session. An entrance test for the course will be held on July 4. The last date for the submission of application forms is July 2. The entrance tests for admission in MA (Hons and pass course) and BA (Hons) in Punjabi courses being run at the School of Punjabi Studies at the university will be held on June 24 and 25, respectively. The roll numbers for these tests have been despatched. Candidates who do not receive their roll numbers could contact Prof R.S. Bawa, Head of School of Punjabi Studies, on June 21 or 24.

Another press note from the university stated that admission to the one-year certificate and diploma courses in Urdu and Persian at the university was open till June 30. Candidates with minimum qualification of plus two or equivalent were eligible for the courses. They could submit their application forms in the office of the Department of Urdu and Persian in the university.

Meanwhile, the university has extended the last date for receiving application forms for admission to MA (Sanskrit) up to July 5. The entrance test for admission will be held on July 8 in the department concerned.


Confusion over status of medical college
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, June 20
Confusion prevails among students applying for medical seats in the Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences and Research here over the college being denied permission by the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, for making admissions.

As many as 76 medical and dental institutes throughout India, including this institute, have been denied permission to make admissions following regulations of the Medical Council of India (MCI) and the Dental Council of India. (DCI).

The institute has reportedly received more than 700 applications for 50 medical seats for the academic year 2002-2003.

This would be the second batch to be admitted o the college despite being debarred, as the institute’s case is “under the consideration of the Government of India”, according to the website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (

This makes this institute the only one in the state of the total six to be “disallowed to make admissions”, even as the last date for sending applications to the institute is July 20 and the all-India medical entrance examinations are scheduled for August 4 (for the Sikh community) and August 26 for others, as mentioned in the prospectus.

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