Saturday, June 22, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM seeks report on rice scam
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
The Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said he had sought a report from the district police in connection with the export rice diversion scam, which allegedly took place in the city, and added that the matter would be dealt with according to the report.

While addressing a press conference at Talwandi Sabo, 30 km from here, Capt Amarinder Singh said at the moment the matter seemed to be serious but action would be taken after he receives the report from the district police.

A major scam, running into crores of rupees involving the illegal diversion of export earmarked rice, to the local market through a nexus allegedly between rice mill owners, some export firms and employees of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) was unearthed by the district police authorities on June 18 here.

The Chief Minister said though the matter related to the Central Government, the Punjab Government would take appropriate action if the situation demanded.

Meanwhile, Mr V.K. Singh, Senior Regional Manager (SRM), FCI, Punjab region, while talking to the TNS said Sharp Menthol India Limited was a real business firm and had been doing business worth crores of rupees with the FCI for the past many months. The firm had been doing major share of export of rice through railway mode of transportation. He added that no senior official of the FCI based at Delhi was involved in the scam.

He pointed out that the FCI had a bank guarantee worth Rs 35 crore from this firm and it had about 60 per cent of share in the export market.

Information gathered by the TNS revealed that the police authorities did not have any evidence so far which could establish that the firm was fake and higher FCI officials were involved in the alleged scam.


Punjab to move SC on river water issue
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, June 21
In a significant statement which could have far-reaching consequences, the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Punjab Government would approach the Supreme Court through a writ petition for judicial division of river waters between Punjab and Haryana and the SYL canal could be used for bringing the surplus water which Haryana had been consuming for the past many years back to Punjab.

Capt Amarinder Singh said though the Supreme Court had ordered the completion of the SYL canal, the Punjab Government would approach it for division of quantum of river waters between these two states on the basis of ratio of agricultural land. He added that Haryana had been getting more water than Punjab against the norms.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was accompanied by Mr Enrique Anchordoqui, the Ambassador of Uruguay, was here to inaugurate the water treatment plant donated by Uruguay. The Chief Minister said Punjab had been getting only 12 million acre foot (MAF) water against the agricultural area of 105 lakh hectares while Haryana had been getting 14 MAF water against its agricultural area of 80 lakh hectares. He added that the main issue before the completion of the SYL canal was that there should be judicious division of the river waters.

Disclosing that the expansion of the Council of Ministers would take place only after the AICC chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, gave her nod after the Budget session was over, Capt Amarinder Singh said efforts were being made to secure foreign funding to make the financial position of the state strong. Every body, including employees, would have to make some sacrifices for bringing the economy of the state back on the rails. He added that money which was being seized from politicians the who had been in power earlier and other government servants would be diverted to development works.

The crusade against corruption would continue and 10 retired Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had been shortlisted for constituting the judicial commission to probe corruption during the previous SAD-BJP regime. The assets acquired by the politicians in power earlier through unfair means would be forfeited and put to use for development works.

The Chief Minister said panchayats would be empowered as per the constitutional provisions made in the 73rd and 74th amendments. Panchayats would be given powers to run dispensaries and schools in their respective areas, he added.

Regarding the allegation levelled by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal that he had an affidavit against Public Works Minister Partap Singh Bajwa in connection with bungling, the Chief Minister said as Mr Badal and his associates were under attack on various counts, Mr Badal had made a fake affidavit against Mr Bajwa to save himself. He added that the crusade against corruption would also take Mr Badal to task.

Answering a question regarding the alleged role of a DCC functionary in the construction of a multi-storey building around the fort at Bathinda, Capt Amarinder Singh said he was yet to get complaint from senior functionaries. When he received the same, he would look into the matter, he added.

The Chief Minister said to provide safe drinking water and sanitation facilities in rural areas, a soft loan of Rs 5000 crore would be taken shortly from a consortium of banks through a UN agency and a plan of Rs 2350 crore had been prepared in this connection. In the coming three years, about 6000 villages would be covered under the rural health programme, he declared.

Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health, Mr Enrique Anchordoqui, the Ambassador of Uruguay, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, an MLA, and Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, a former minister, also spoke. Capt Amarinder Singh also went to Takht Damdama Sahib to pay obeisance.


CM: Siddiqui not to be made DGP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
The controversy regarding the return of Mr A.A. Siddiqui, an IPS officer of 1968 batch of Punjab cadre currently heading the Manipur police, to his parent state was today put to rest by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, when he made it clear that Mr Siddiqui would be given his due seniority and would not be made DGP. “Mr Siddiqui is a fine officer. The Punjab Government will bring him back. 


Banks ignore small farmers
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 21
The Agro Economic Research Centre (AERC) of the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), recently conducted a study on indebtedness of farmers for the Ministry of Agriculture. The study threw up some shocking facts. The small and marginal farmers whose number is the largest lent their holdings are small in the state get merely mere 27.02 per cent of the total agricultural credit. Here too the process has been marred with wrong selection of beneficiaries, improper monitoring and less promising purposes for which the loans are being advanced defeating the national objective of providing low-cost credit to this group.

What to talk of diversification, the share of certain thrust sectors like dairy and poultry farming besides fisheries has decreased in the past three years. It may be recalled that the Centre had sometime ago, directed the states to suggest measures so that a national policy could be drafted to benefit the marginal farmers whose condition is deplorable even after half a century of Independence.

In this context, PAU carried out a study “flow of Credit to Small and Marginal Farmers in Punjab” under the aegis of the Ministry. It was conducted by Kamal Vatta in association with Prof Karam Singh, Director, AERC.

The study recommended to the state government and the Centre to adopt the Self-Help Group (SHG) strategy to provide low-cost credit to the small and marginal farmers, most of whom largely were dependent on arhtias and commission agents for credit needs. The SHG strategy has enjoyed great success and has come to the aid of farmers in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal to reduce their dependence on money lenders, who charged highly excessive rate of interest — 24 per cent to 60 per cent — from them.

Talking to The Tribune about the study, Prof Karam Singh, said, “there are 1,706 banking institutions — including 942 commercial banks — in the rural areas of the state which have raised deposits worth Rs 12,254.28 crore and advanced about Rs 6,000 crore as loans to the agriculture sector. Out of this amount, the small and marginal farmers — whose number is largest and who own small holdings in the state — are poorly placed and are getting just 27.02 per cent of the total agricultural credit. We found that no worthwhile efforts have been made by the banking institutions for financing the self-help groups till now. The credit scheme has rather been marred with wrong selection of beneficiaries, improper monitoring and less promising purposes for which the loans are being advanced, he added.

Despite an increased flow of credit in the state in the past three years, crop loans still constituted more than two-thirds of the agricultural advances. Incidentally, there has been a decline in the proportion of advances made to crucial sectors like minor irrigation (from 2.82 per cent to 1.09 per cent), land development (from 0.47 to 0.36 per cent), farm machinery (from 16.83 to 11.67 per cent), dairy farming (from 5.37 to 4.90 per cent), poultry farming (from 1.58 to 0.87 per cent) and fisheries (from 0.13 to 0.16 per cent) in the corresponding period, he revealed.

It was found that cooperative and commercial banks gave preference to medium and big farmers for providing agricultural loans. If this trend continued, the objective of overall rural development by eradicating the rural poverty will not be achieved. The banks would have to favour small operational holdings and agricultural holdings and agricultural labourers to achieve this national objective, he pointed out.

A study done by Prof H.S. Shergill, Department of Economics, Panjab University, Chandigarh, in 1998, also found that the small and marginal farmers were mostly dependent on informal sources, despite high rate of interest, as they were discriminated against the cooperative and commercial banks.

The researchers relied on primary data collected from two villages, one in an advanced region — Ludhiana — and the other a traditional one — Moga. It was observed that the medium and large farmers had to spend lesser sums as transaction costs, as compared to about one per cent of the total loan amount, that small farmers had to pay as bribes and other non-official charges to secure loans.

It is interesting commercial banks take 14.07 and 8.33 days on an average in advanced and traditional areas to process a loan, against 2.32 and 7.65 days taken by cooperative banks in the same area respectively. But the informal sources (money lenders and commission agents) process loans within 0.73 and 1.09 days respectively.

Prof Karam Singh maintains that small and marginal farmers have to face various problems as compared to medium and large farmers to get credit from formal and informal sources, including high cost of credit.

The study advocated that to meet the needs of the small and marginal farmers at a reasonable rate of interest, the government should adopt a strategy of Self-Help Groups (SHG). It would also cut down the transaction costs of the banks, besides providing them an alternative to money lender. It has also recommended that the banking institutions should also be encouraged to provide adequate credit to the neglected segments of the farm community. — Concluded


Govt seeks reports on sangat darshan funds
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 21
The Punjab Government has sought detailed written reports before July 10, 2002, from all Deputy Commissioners of the state to submit these in the high court regarding the utilisation of funds disbursed by the previous SAD-BJP government during ‘sangat darshan’ programmes in their five-year tenure. A Public interest Litigation (PIL) petition was field in the Punjab and Haryana High Court recently seeking a thorough probe into the ‘misutilisation’ of funds in the form of ‘Sangat Darshan’ from the government treasury.

A spokesman for the state government programmes said here today that the Deputy Commissioners had been asked to get details of these funds from the respective heads of the executing departments/agencies and compile a detailed report. The report should include utilisation certificates (UCs) of each payment released through ‘Sangat darshan’ programmes.

The report should also include details of the ongoing projects, the reasons thereof if they delayed intentionally. If the money has not been utilised and the department or agency has not checked the matter, responsibility should rest upon the head of the executing department or agency, The Deputy Commissioners have been asked to take stern action against them for negligence of duty.

Not only this, the government has directed the Deputy Commissioners to make sure that an affidavit attested by the executive magistrate is filed along with the UCs. If the money has not been utilized so far, it should be deposited in the government treasury at the earliest.

The Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore district, Mr DK Tiwari, called a meeting of all the executing departments and agencies yesterday, and directed them to submit the details of expenditure of ‘sangat darshan funds latest by June 25 before him.

From June 25 till month end, teams constituted under the control of the Deputy Commissioner will go out for an on-the-spot physical verification of funds. Criminal cases will be registered against those involved in the embezzlement of these funds.


Punjab Police team to discuss crook’s business
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Top academic’s financial experts, law enforcement and intelligence officials, bankers and policemen — including Mr Sarabjit Singh and Mr Jyoti Trehan (both from Punjab Police) — shall meet at Jesus College, one of the oldest and medieval colleges of the University of Cambridge in England from September 8 to September 15 to concentrate on putting the crooks out of business.

“Putting the crooks out of business. The war on organised Crime and Terror” is the theme of the symposium which has attracted 200 experts, who will through keynote addresses, lectures and over 50 workshops focus on the practical issues relating to crime and terror, their implications for the rest of the world.

By crooks, say the organisers of the symposium, they mean not only fraudsters and organised crime, but also terrorists. Over the years the fight against serious crime and abuse, has increasingly focused, at many levels, on the proceeds. This inevitably has led to more and more attention being focused on money laundering.

Mr Sarabjit Singh has been invited as a keynote speaker to the symposium. He would speak on “Wealth, Power, Crime and Terror — the links”, the subject relevant in the aftermath of the events of September 11 last year. The symposium dates coincide with the first anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the USA.

Mr Trehan has been into research and currently is a Jawahar Lal Nehru fellow. He has done commendable work on money laundering.

Besides Mr Sarabjit Singh, Mr Michael Chertoff, Assistant Attorney-General of the US Department of Justice; Dr Dayanath Jayasurya, Director-General, Sri Lanka Securities and Exchange Commission; Prof Leonid Fituni, Director, Centre for Strategic and Global Studies, Russia Academy of Sciences; Prof Mark Pieth, Professor of Criminal Law and Criminology, University of Basel (Switzerland); Dr Eamon Mullen, Federal Prosecutor of Argentina; Prof Margaret Beare, Director, the Nathanson Center for the Study of Organised Crime and Corruption, York University, Toronto, and a few others would speak on the same subject.


Trust takes up cudgels for accused
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, June 21
The Khalsa Panchayat today described the arrest of two youths, Amandeep Singh and Mahavir Singh, by the Moga police on a charge of a conspiracy to kill controversial Baba Bhaniarewala, as false and concocted story.

Addressing a press conference, Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd) of the Human Rights Group demanded a magisterial inquiry in to the whole episode of these two youths being ‘kidnapped’ from Chandigarh by the Punjab Police.

He said the family members of the duo had given applications at the Phase 1 police station and the Phase 8 Police Station about their missing on June 18. But no case of missing was lodged by the SAS Nagar Police, said Mr Rajinder Singh of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat.

Ms Kulbir Kaur Dhammi of the Guru Asra Trust, who had filed a habeas corpus in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for release of the two youth on June 19, said the action of the trust of seeking release of the two youth from the illegal detention of the police was self explanatory about the trust’s statement about the fake case registered by the police. She claimed that the police was trying to put up false evidence against the two youths to prove its case.

Justice Bains said, “The disgruntled elements in the Punjab Police were trying to create a false alarm about the militant connection in the case of Baba Bhaniarewala to keep earning their bread and butter”. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, should be made aware of such police officials as the reputation of the Congress government was at stake. Mr Kanwar Singh Dhammi, chairman of the Guru Asra Trust, said the conspiracy to kill the baba was not possible as he was already lodged in jail.

Mr Dhammi said the Chief Minister should take strict action against the police officials who had “masterminded” the case against the two youths. He, however, admitted the two youths, were actively involved in the welfare activities of looking after the children of slain terrorists. The Guru Asra Trust had held demonstration against the baba few months back.

Mr Dhammi said, “The basic intention of the government appeared to cause damage to the image of the Guru Asra Trust as it was looking after the children of the slain terrorists. The fact was not easy to swallow by the police.

Justice Bains said, “the Punjab Police was yet to come out of its “terror” image of the terrorism day’s. He said the Chief Minister should review the functioning of the Punjab Police, especially its old practice of implicating youths in false cases”.

Mr Dhammi said they would the fight the case within the perimeters of the law.


Police remand for 2 ultras

Moga, June 21
Two hardcore terrorists, who were arrested by the district police on June 19, have been remanded in police custody till June 25.

The terrorists, owing allegiance to the so-called Babbar Khalsa and the Khalistan Zindabad Force (KZF), were remanded in police custody by Judicial Magistrate Mohammad Gulazar last evening.

According to district police chief Varinder Kumar, during interrogation the two terrorists, Amandeep Singh, a chemical engineering graduate, and Mahavir Singh, both residents of Mohali, confessed to having procured both foreign-made pistols, recovered from their possession, from Mastan Singh in the district about five months ago. UNI


Excise staff not to work on holidays
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Alleging that the recent death of Mr K.S. Sahota, Excise and Taxation Officer posted at Gurdaspur, was caused by “stressful working conditions” in the state’s main revenue-earning department, virtually all employees posted at Ludhiana — from drivers to ETOs — have decided not to work on forthcoming holidays — June 22 to June 24 — and restrict office work from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on all working days.

The Ludhiana meeting also demanded “immediate withdrawal of the Excise and Taxation Commissioner and the Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner-I” alleging that “they have imposed themselves on the department, have no appreciation for the work ethos, zeal and sincerity of purpose of the staff which has achieved the targets fixed by the state government”.

Punjab Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation, Mukul Joshi, was reportedly away on Nainital on holiday. Attempts to contact him were in vain.

The Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Suresh Kumar, could not be contacted till the time of filing of the report. Even the Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, could not be contacted.

The decision to resort to work to rule as protest was taken at an emergency meeting of the presidium of all employee unions of local chapters of the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department held at Ludhiana today. The meeting was attended among others by the office-bearers of the Excise and Taxation Officers’ Association, the Ministerial Staff Association, the Taxation Inspectors Association and the Class IV Employees Association.

In a resolution adopted at the meeting, the four employee associations resented the “suffocating atmosphere created in the department”. This work environment, they alleged, had put great strain on the minds of all officers and they were being forced to work overtime daily and under duress.

The meeting also decided to wear black badges to protest against “dictatorial, arrogant and insulting attitude” of the superiors.

The general body of the Excise and Taxation Officers’ Association also met at Ludhiana today and expressed resentment over work environment in the department. The association members observed two-minute silence as a mark of respect to Mr K.S. Sahota.

The meeting felt that working of senior officials of the department was not revenue-oriented and time and energy of staff was wasted in preparing “unnecessary and repetitive statements”, entailing avoidable duplicity, besides making them sit in the office till late hours daily.

Condemning the attitude of the Commissioner and Additional Commissioner for refusing an appointment to the association, it felt that such actions demoralised the employees .

The association felt that attitude of the top bosses had accentuated tension among the officials.

The members felt that they were made to work under duress even on holidays.

“The association feels constrained to resort to work to rule agitation. It also condemns the anti-employees proposals in the Budget like freezing of DA, medical allowance and LTC and feels that these decisions should be reversed to reassure the employees,” the resolution said.

The Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Suresh Kumar, when contacted said Mr K.S. Sahota had died in an accident while returning from Pathankot a few days ago. He denied there was anything wrong with the work environment in the department.

He said no new instructions with regard to working on holidays or overtime had been issued.

Admitting that there were some redundancies, he said the working of the department was being streamlined. Keeping in view the increased workload, 50 additional posts of Excise and Taxation Officer had been sanctioned. An equal number of posts of Inspector, too, had been approved, besides additional ministerial staff. These new posts had been approved by the Cabinet Committee on Fiscal Management.

Mr Suresh Kumar maintained that suggestions had been invited from all, including all associations of employees of the department, in an endeavour to streamline its working.


Sukhbir Badal booked

Chandigarh, June 21
Former punjab chief minister’s son Sukhbir Singh Badal among others was today booked on the charge of attempt to kill a photographer during the 1999 Lok Sabha elections in the Faridkot constituency.

Faridkot district police chief Harinder Singh Chahal told UNI on telephone tonight that junior Badal, a Rajya Sabha member, was booked on the direction of Punjab and Haryana High Court. He said a case vide FIR No.93 was registered under Sections 307, 382, 342, 148/149 of the IPC by Kotkapura city police station.

Kotkapura DSP Raghbir Singh said the case was registered on the complaint of photographer Naresh Sehgal, who alleged that Sukbhir Singh Badal and his supporters had assaulted him, snatched his camera and kept him in wrongful confinement on September 5 in 1999 when he was doing his professional duty of filming the Lok Sabha election in Faridkot constituency.

Mr Badal, a former union minister, had lost the election to Jagmeet Singh Brar of the Congress.

Mr Sehgal had moved the high court when the police failed to register his complaiant against Mr Badal. The DSP said no arrest has been made in the case so far. UNI 


Probe corruption charges against Cong men also: BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The Congress Government in Punjab should not target only its political opponents but also institute cases against its own corrupt partymen, says Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, expressing concern over irgoring complaints of serious corruption charges against Congress men in the State.

Addressing newsmen at the party office here this afternoon, Mr Rinwa said that it was not only the SAD and the BJP but even the CPI MLAs from the State had brought to the notice of the State government a big scandal in “allotment of contract for loading, unloading and transport of foodgrains from grain markets to godowns at Mansa”.

Even after five weeks of this complaint sent by the CPI MLAs, the state Government has take no action giving an impression that it does not want to touch any complaint of “corruption against its own partymen” while targeting its political opponents. While the Food Corporation of India awarded the same contract for similar operations at Mansa at 75 per cent of the DFSC basic rates, the five State procurement agencies gave the contract at 103 per cent of the DFSC rates thus causing a huge loss, running into nearly a crore of rupees at Mansa alone.

Accusing two Congress MLAs for their involvement in preventing other contractors from even getting the tender papers for the award of contract by the five state procurement agencies, he said that the entire “drama” to award the work through tenders was “stage-managed”. Some of the aspirant contractors even filed affidavits alleging that they were prevented from getting the tenders. Also present at the Press conference were the leader of the BJP Legislature Party, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, the General Secretary (Organisation), Mr Avinash Jaiswal, and a member of the State Executive Committee, Mr Jagpal Singh Chahal.

Mr Rinwa said that Mr Nathu Ram and Mr Gurjant Singh Kutiwal, both CPI MLAs, had written to the Chief Minister about this “scandal” on May 15 but no action had been initiated by the government so far. The Punjab Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, denied her involvement in the case and said that “there was no harm in holding an inquiry into the allegations made by the Mansa Palledar Karamchari Sangh or CPI MLAs.”

Mr Rinwa said that Akali and BJP workers were being harassed and implicated in false cases. “We have never opposed any NDA team from visiting Punjab to look into complaints of victimisation of Akali or BJP workers by the Congress government in the State. We do not oppose even an all-party team visiting Punjab later,” he said maintaining that relations between the Shiromani Akali Dal and the Bharatiya Janta Party were as cordial as ever.


SPOs without pay for 6 months
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
For about 250 Special Police Officers (SPOs) in this district, life has been a misery over the past six months. The administration has been unable to pay their salaries, leaving them to fend for themselves.

The SPOs concerned are deployed in various parts of the district for assisting the police to maintain law and order. Some are also posted in police stations and chowkis to carry out routine duties and administrative tasks.

“Virtually every other day, we are appearing before the SSP or some other senior officer, reiterating our problems, but things are not working out. Every time we are told that the issue has been projected with the higher authorities concerned,” an SPO here said.

Official sources attribute the situation to non-availability of funds. “We are aware of the situation and have apprised the higher authorities regularly about the matter. Every time a representation from the SPOs is received by us, we write to the higher authorities to sort out the matter at the earliest,” a police officer, when contacted, said. “Unless the requisite funds are available, there is little we can do at our end,” he added.

While the majority of the SPOs in the district are engaged in regular police duties, over a dozen or so have been deputed with the Food Corporation of India (FCI) as security guards for its food storage depots in the district.

Although the FCI is responsible for the salaries of these SPOs, paid through the district administration, even they are going without salaries. Sources inform that although the FCI authorities have claimed that they have been depositing the requisite amount with the district administration, it is not being disbursed.

While SPOs are paid a salary of about Rs 2,700 per month by the district administration, those deputed with the FCI get paid about 15 per cent more, which amounts to about Rs 3,200 per month.

For the SPOs, who generally belong to rural and economically weaker families, their job is the only means of earning their livelihood. Some of them say there is rising discontent and frustration among them due to non-payment of salaries. “It is very difficult to meet even basic requirements,” an SPO remarked. “We are supposed to be on duty for long hours, but can barely manage a square meal and that too by seeking financial support from our families,” another SPO added.

But it is those who are married and have families to support for whom the going has become really tough. Household expenses, school fees and a virtually endless list of requirements have virtually put them in a desperate situation, according to a source.

Although they are not aware of the situation concerning SPOs in other districts of the state, they add that it is not for the first time that they have remained without pay for a long time. “There have been such instances in the past,” an SPO, claiming to have nine years’ service, commented. “It may not be a lucrative job, but for us, there is no other option,” he added.


Police allowed to record Ravi Sidhu’s arrest
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 21
Mr Kuldip Singh, in charge Sessions Judge, Ropar, today ordered the police that it, if so desired, could record the formal arrest of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, present in the court, under Sections 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC.

The Vigilance Bureau added Sections 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC on May 21 last in the FIR registered against Sidhu and March 25 under the Prevention of Corruption Act at SAS Nagar. These sections were added in connection with the preparation of a forged will for the Masonic Lodge, Kasauli, allegedly by Sidhu.

The Vigilance Bureau approached a Kharar court on June 19 to permit it to arrest Sidhu, under the newly added sections. It yesterday ordered the producing of Sidhu in the court of the Special Judge here today.

The counsel for Sidhu opposed the demand of the prosecution to rearrest Sidhu on the ground that this court had no jurisdiction to allow the prosecution to proceed in this regard. On the other hand, the public prosecutor urged the court to allow the Vigilance Bureau to formally arrest Sidhu under the newly added sections.

In his order, the Judge mentioned that there was no provision under which the police could be disallowed from recording the formal arrest for added offences. In fact, under law, no formal permission of the court was required. The question of jurisdiction was also not involved. In the absence of the Sessions Judge, the in charge Sessions Judge could pass appropriate orders.

The period of 90 days was going to expire within one or two days and the police wanted to present the challan. The police, if it so desired, could record the formal arrest of the accused, present in the court, under these sections.

The Judge also ordered that Sidhu be produced before the Sessions Judge on June 22, the date fixed in the remand papers. DSP Zora Singh said the Vigilance Bureau had not rearrested Sidhu and he would be produced in the court of the Sessions Judge tomorrow.


Remand extended
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 21
The suspended Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, was today further remanded in judicial custody by a local court. Mr Sidhu was produced before the UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L Mohal, who remanded him in judicial custody till June 25 in a case under the Arms and Excise Act.

Earlier on June 18 a local court had issued a notice to the Punjab and Sind Bank, Sector 17, on a plea of Mr Sidhu for issuing 10 loose cheques to him to fulfil his daily needs till June 25 to file a reply.

The UT police had registered the case against the accused under the Excise and Arms Act on the complaint of the DSP, Vigilance, Mr Jora Singh. The police had recovered 14 bottles of foreign liquor, 250 rounds of .12-bore gun and 225 rounds of Springfield rifle from the house of the accused in Sector 39. The court had already framed charges against Mr Sidhu on June 12 under the Arms Act.


Production warrants against Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
A local court today issued production warrants against former PPSC chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu on an application filed by state Vigilance Bureau yesterday.
Duty Magistrate Ranjit Kumar Jain issued the warrants in a case related to widespread irregularities in the recruitment of candidates appearing before the commission, besides other issues listed in the Vigilance FIR registered here.


700 colonies to be regularised
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 21
Acceding to the demands of private colonisers and residents, PUDA authorities have decided to regularise about 700 “illegal” colonies in Jalandhar and will introduce a single-window scheme for allotment of licences to private colonisers.

Stating this at a press conference here yesterday, the Chairman of the Urban Development Cell of the Punjab Congress, Mr Anil Chopra said at a high-level meeting with the Chief Administrator of PUDA in Chandigarh, it had been decided to constitute a five-member subcommittee headed by the Chief Administrator to contemplate a comprehensive plan for regularisation of about 700 “illegal” colonies in Jalandhar.

It had been decided to charge development charges from the residents of these colonies for regularisation purposes. The PUDA authorities would give two months to such colonisers to volunteer declaration of “illegal” colonies and no case would be registered under the PAPR Act against them.

Mr Kultar Singh Jogi, president of the Punjab Colonisers and Property Dealers Association, said the authorities had also decided to refer all pending court cases pertaining to violation of the PAPR Act to the lok adalats concerned for final settlement. “These cases will be settled amicably by the department and private colonisers through mutual negotiations,” he said.

“The Chief Administrator has also accepted our demand to introduce single-window scheme for allotment of licences. Under the proposed scheme, the licences will be sanctioned within one month of submission of application by a private coloniser. The authorities have also agreed to reduce external development charges from Rs 3.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh per acre,” Mr Chopra added.


2,829 posts in schools abolished
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Responding to a question of Congress MLAs Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi and Mr Joginder Singh Mann, in the Punjab Assembly today, Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Government had stopped payment of pension sanctioned to 767 persons, who had participated in Morchas against emergency, Punjabi suba, Kapoori Morcha and Sis Ganj Gurdwara Morcha by the previous government.

He said that those allowed pension had participated in a political activity for which they could not be paid from the state funds. Replying a question of Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, Khushal Bahl, said all posts vacant in schools till May 13 had been abolished. These include 1485 posts of lecturer cadre, 329 posts of master cadre, 733 posts of classical and vernacular cadre, 248 posts of vocational master and 34 posts of vocational teacher, EVM master and EVM teacher.


DSP, 3 cops booked
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 21
Under the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the local police has registered a case under Sections 192, 201, 420, 465, 466, 468, 471 and 120B of the IPC and Section 7, 13 and 2 D against eight persons, including three junior police officers and a DSP, for tampering with police record and indulging in corrupt practices. The police officials include Bhupinder Singh Khattra, DSP, Major Singh, Rajbeer Singh and Balbir Singh, all the three junior police officers, Amarjit Singh and Gurmit Kaur besides their two relatives Atma Singh and Raj Kaur.

In a press note released here yesterday, Mr H.S. Chahal, district police chief, said Amarjit Singh, son of Seetan, who was already married with Paul Kaur, daughter of Inder Singh, a resident of Dhudi village in the district, got married again to Gurmit Kaur. Paul Kaur filed a complaint with the local police in June last year who arrested both Amarjit Singh and Gurmit Kaur and registered a case against them besides putting up a challan before the judicial court here. However, both accused got bail and left for the USA with the connivance of the police officials by getting hold of their passports attached with the police record. Later they returned both passports through Amarjit Singh’s mother to the police officials concerned who attached the same with the record, said the SSP.


Rs 1.2 cr meant for pensions recovered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
A whopping Rs 1.20 crore meant for old-age pensions, left “inoperative” in various banks, has been recovered by the Social Securities Department. Mr Gian Singh Bal, ADC in charge of pensions, said the amount had been lying unclaimed for the past about one year.

Questions were being raised over such a large amount remaining unclaimed for so long. It was believed that the said amount could be meant for bogus pensioners who had disappeared after the Rs 23-crore scam had been unearthed. The names of several agents facilitating bogus pensioners had been mentioned in the inquiry report of Dr Rishi Pal. With the recovery of such a large amount lying unclaimed, the connivance of banks officials could not be ruled out, sources pointed out.


Suicide case: JTOs go on fast
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
The Junior Telecom Officers’ Association yesterday decided to go on indefinite strike in protest against the inordinate delay in the registering of an FIR against officials who had allegedly forced JTO Ashok Kumar to commit suicide. The suicide note had pointed an accusing finger at the highhandedness of his seniors, according to a press release of the association. All sister associations have also joined the strike.

The indefinite strike would continue till the registration of an FIR and arrest of the alleged culprits.

It may be recalled that Ashok Kumar, a JTO, was found dead on June 14. His identity card and a suicide note were found from his pocket but the police declared the body as unidentified, the association leaders alleged. In a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, the association sought his intervention in the matter.


New rules to appoint Sainik Welfare Director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The Punjab Government has formally framed and notified the rules pertaining to the appointment of Director, Sainik Welfare (DSW). A statutory notification in this regard was published in the official gazette last week under the signatures of Mr K. B. S. Sidhu, Secretary, Defence Services Welfare.

Formerly called the Secretary, Rajya Soldier Board, the post of the Director, Sainik Welfare, enjoys the rank and status of a head of department. Apart from being an ex-officio member-secretary of the Rajya Sainik Board, which is the apex state-level body presided over by the Governor, the Director also co-ordinates the functioning of sainik welfare offices in various districts and supervises the implementation of schemes for ex-servicemen and their wards.

Hitherto, under executive instructions, the DSW was appointed from among retired Brigadiers or equivalent ranks from the other two wings. However, in the absence of any statutory backing, litigation often cropped up whenever a new incumbent was to be appointed since some of the senior District Sainik Welfare Officers would stake their claim on the basis of seniority. However, now provisions have been made in the Punjab District Sainik Welfare Officers (State Service Class-I), Rules, 1986, codifying the existing practice.

The provisions mandate that the incumbent should have retired as a Brigadier or equivalent after putting in at least 25 years of commissioned pensionable service. He must have a clean service record and bear good moral character and should have retired with full pension.

A high-level committee presided over by the Chief Secretary shall recommend the appointment of the Director. A representative of the Director-General (Resettlement), Ministry of Defence, shall also be co-opted as a member on the selection committee. The age of superannuation remains 58. Since the present incumbent Brig K. S. Kahlon (retd) has already reached this age, a fresh advertisement inviting applications for this post is likely to be issued soon.


EC plan on MLAs’ voting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The Assistant Returning Officer for the presidential election, Mr Nachhattar Singh Mavi, said yesterday that for the purpose of the election, the Election Commission has fixed the committee room of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Secretariat, as polling booth on July 15 for members of the Punjab Assembly.

However, a member of the Punjab Assembly on permission from the Election Commission, can caste his vote at room number 63 of the Parliament House in New Delhi


Gram sabhas for Punjab villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The Punjab Panchayati Raj Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said in the Punjab Assembly that there was a proposal to set up gram sabhas in villages on the pattern of the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

She said such Sabhas would hold their sessions like state assemblies. Apolitical but well-educated persons would be taken as members of such bodies and would be headed by eminent persons of the villages.


Teacher among 5 held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 21
The district police today busted a gang of robbers and solved the case of a robbery of Rs 2.80 lakh in Oriental Bank of Commerce, Bareta, on June 11.

Mr Sudhanshu Shekhar Srivastva, SSP, said five members of the gang, identified as Gurmeet Singh, a teacher at DAV Public School, Bareta, Kalyan Singh and Mithu Singh of Dharampura village, Ranjodh Singh of Rode village in Moga district and Naresh Kumar, alias DC, of Budhlada have been arrested, while another member Janak Raj Sharma is absconding.

Mr Srivastva said Rs 2.48 lakh out of Rs 2.80 lakh looted from the bank have been recovered from the accused.

The police have also impounded a Maruti car and seized two countrymade pistols, a 38-bore revolver, a 12-bore gun and a sword used by the accused in the bank robbery. The gang members have also confessed to have looted Rs 1 lakh from an accountant of a commission agent at Budhlada. They said they had also planned to loot the Punjab National Bank branch at Borawal village in the district.

Gurmeet Singh, the teacher, who was the kingpin of the gang, returned to Bareta within a few hours of the robbery.


JE arrested for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 21
The Vigilance Bureau today nabbed Chanchal Singh, a Junior Engineer in the Punjab State Electricity Board, Khem Karan, for allegedly taking bribe from Mr Swarn Singh of Mastgarh here.

Mr Tejinderpal Singh, SP, Vigilance Bureau said Chanchal Singh was caught while taking a bribe of Rs 5,000 to instal a new transformer in the field of Mr Swarn Singh. A case has been registered under Sections 7 and 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act at Vigilance Bureau, Jalandhar.


Inter-state gang busted, 3 held
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 21
The Kharar police has busted an inter-state gang of swindlers and thieves by arresting three members of the gang, Vijay Kumar, Mukesh and Banti, resident of Sekar district in Rajasthan.

The police has seized about 12 tola of gold ornaments, watches, a scooter and cash from them.


Fate of IT institutes hangs in balance
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
The issue of the final closure and the future of the two Information Technology institutes started by the former Vice-Chancellor, Dr J.S. Ahluwalia on the Punjabi University campus here by the name of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology (MRSIIT) and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology (GGSIIT) at Damdama Sahib has taken a back seat as the five-member high-level committee constituted by the Acting VC, Dr N.S. Rattan, to look into the matter has failed to hold a meeting on the issue.

Dr Rattan had formed a five-member Committee consisting of the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal, Dean, Colleges, Dr S.P.S. Virdee; Dean, Academics, Dr U.C. Singh; Registrar, Dr K.S. Sidhu and the Head of the Department of Computer Science, Dr Chandan Singh to recommend the manner in which the two institutes were to be closed down simultaneously and to ensure that the students already studying in them did not suffer.

It has been nearly a month since this decision was taken, but the committee has not been able to meet even once. This despite the fact that the Vice-Chancellor had directed the committee to submit its recommendations on or before the meeting of the Syndicate scheduled for yesterday which has now been postponed to June 21.

Sources said the committee was not likely to meet tomorrow and that the future of the two IT Institutes would not be discussed at the Syndicate meeting. The sources said the committee could not meet till date because the order under which it was formed was being contested by some of the committee members.

A perusal of the order clearly states that the committee will recommend now the two Institutes are to be wound up. The sources said if the university had already taken a decision in this regard there was no need to form a committee for the purpose. The order also stated that the interest of the students should be watched which is contradictory to the first statement.

Besides this, the formation of the committee has also sparked off a controversy. Two members of the committee — Dr Sidhu and Dr U.C. Singh — had opposed the opening of the institutes and also complained to the police against the formation of the institutes as members of the Joint Action Committee which was spearheading the agitation for the ouster of Dr Ahluwalia. Dr Chandan Singh had protested against the formation of the MRSIIT as a member of a sub-committee. On the other hand, two other members of the committee, Dr Pal and Dr Virdee, are members of the Governing Council of the institutes. It is felt that one group wants to close down the institutes whereas the other wants a rethink on the issue.

Meanwhile, the examinations of the MRSIIT are starting from June 22 and those of Study Centres of the GGSIIT from August 10. Sources said the university could also compel the institutes to take affiliation from Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, from the next academic session even though the students are opposed to any such move.


Saroj’s suspension revoked
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 21
Punjabi University today revoked the suspension of the Head of the Fine Arts Department, Dr Saroj Rani, who is co-accused in the attempt to rape case registered against the former VC, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

Though Dr Rani’s case was brought up at the Syndicate meeting for confirmation of suspension today, the Syndics after discussion decided to revoke the sus-pension. The suspension will now be revoked effectively from the next session subject to the decision of the court in the matter.

Earlier, Dr Rani had also submitted an appeal to the university Vice-Chancellor for the revocation of the suspension. She had claimed that she had been falsely implicated in the case by the local police and that she had no concern with it. She claimed that the complainant, Saru Rana, who was a student of the Fine Arts department, had not levelled any allegation against her in her complaint to the then VC and that her name had been added to the FIR at a later stage.

Meanwhile, the Public Relations Director, Dr G.R. Kataria, of the university today claimed that three promotion given by former VC under the Career Advancement Scheme were deferred. However, those attending the meeting were not clear on the point, saying that the issue was not on the agenda. They also said only two cases had been discussed regarding the CAS and that the official information was misleading. Dr Kataria refused to disclose the names of the persons whose promotions had been deferred.

They said the first case was that of Dr B.L. Mehta of the Department of Physics. It was revealed that the former VC had put a condition on his promotion as Professor after the promotion had taken place by stipulating that he must present a paper within six months. The Syndicate felt that such a condition should not have been imposed after the promotion. They said the second case pertained to the promotion of Dr P.N. Chichra. The decision to give him promotion from a back date by the former Vice-Chancellor had been rejected, they said.

At the syndicate meeting held under the chairmanship of VC N.S. Rattan, another committee was set up to look into the legalities involving the controversial Information Technology institutes set up during Dr Ahluwalia`s tenure namely the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of IT and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of IT at Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda. It may be recalled that the university proposes to close down both these institutes as UGC norms were allege violated in setting up the institutes. According to rules, no private institute can be permitted to operate from within the university campus.

Sources said the new committee would examine how the institutes were to be closed.


Training disabled to be self-reliant
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, June 21
For this institution, the mentally challenged are not disabled but endowed with different abilities. The Navjivani School of Special Education with 123 students on its roll, is perhaps one of the best equipped institutions in the region offering tailor-made syllabus to its students according to their learning abilities.

Situated at Sular village in Patiala, the Navjivani Society for Mental Health was founded in 1981 to create services and training for the development of mentally retarded children.

The Navjivani School of Special Education had a modest beginning in 1982, functioning in a rented accommodation. Now it has an elaborate infrastructure built over the years supported by voluntary donations and institutional support amounting to around Rs 40 lakh.

Managed according to guidelines laid down by the National Institute for Mentally Handicapped and Rehabilitation Council of India, the school attracts students from all over the North -Western India and admits mild and moderate categories of mentally retarded children (MRC) who are classified into educable, trainable and custodial groups. Teaching time and money concepts, imparting skills to improve social interaction within and outside the family, offering behavioral modification to rectify undesirable behaviour as reported by the parents, the school also imparts vocational training in skills like candle-making, bookbinding, card and chalk-making. This is done not just to facilitate rehabilitation but also to infuse a feeling of self-dependence among the special children. The school is all set to increase its capacity with another building.

Mr N.S. Sodhi, director of the school and former Professor in the Department of Social Work at Punjabi University, stressed that educating parents of the special children was an important aspect of the overall training of the child.

The school holds special counselling classes to guide the families of the special child. The parents are counselled to integrate the special child into the family and for recognition of their right to education, training for self-reliance, social security and equal property rights.

Guardians of the special children are made to understand that their ward being special, will not be taught the usual academic syllabus of ordinary schools. They will instead be trained in self-management which involves bathing, dressing up and using the bathroom.

Navjivani aims to sensititise the community to the needs and rights of the mentally challenged. Community interaction with the special children is enhanced by seeking active involvement of ordinary schools , banks, industry and government bodies for organising exhibitions and sale of articles like candles made by the inmates of the special school.

The school is all set to inaugurate Sadhu Basant Residential Care ,a permanent home for the adult mentally handicapped persons.The ultra-modern building, with a capacity of 60 persons, is ready to offer separate accommodation to both men and women .

“This has been done sensing the anxiety among the parents of the special children, particularly the aged, who are worried what will happen to their ward after their death,” Mr Sodhi said. The parents will have to deposit a fund, which will be deposited in the corpus-fund of the organisation and the mentally retarded person can spend his/her life here.

Annual day function
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
GCS Computer Tech Pvt. Ltd. (an ISO9001:2000 institute) is holding its annual day function tomorrow at auditorium of Thapar Engineering College. The function will include modelling, bhangra, group dances, mimickery etc. Mr and Ms GCS Patiala will also be selected. Mr Tejbir Singh, Deputy Commissioner of Patiala, will preside over the function as chief guest.

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