Sunday, June 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Take publisher in custody: CM
Main conduit of Tota Singh absconding
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 29
Adding a new chapter to the alleged recruitment scandal involving former Education Minister Tota Singh, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has ordered the Vigilance Bureau to take in custody a Jalandhar based publisher who was reportedly the main conduit between job aspirants and the minister. The bureau would also explore his involvement in the supply of substandard paper to the Punjab School Education Board for printing books and answersheets during the minister’s tenure.

The minister was arrested on June 14 and after investigations it was established that Tota Singh had allegedly amassed assets worth Rs 17 crore in the form of agricultural land, a sheller, a godown, shares in benami properties and at least 25 private buses. It was also alleged that he had appointed teachers, besides 136 clerks in the board for “extraneous considerations.”

According the sources, the vigilance sleuths are on the lookout for Manjit Singh, a publisher, who was allegedly the main tout of the minister. He was said to have collected bribes on behalf of the minister and recommended names.

The sources said the name of Manjit Singh had been figuring for quite some time but action had been initiated just now. He was said to have absconded ever since the arrest of Tota Singh. He was also said to be behind the acceptance of a contract for substandard paper, reportedly okayed by the minister, for use by the education board, the sources added.

In this context, the state Education Department has, on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, constituted four teams of senior officers who will scrutinise the testimonials of all “successful” candidates. There are allegations that many candidates had, besides paying bribes, secured jobs by submitting fake degrees and experience certificates.

Only last month the minister was indicted by the Lok Pal for the wrongful selection of 100 science teachers. The court had directed the Principal Secretary, Education, to constitute teams to check the testimonials of the teachers recruited during the tenure of the minister. The teams are likely to submit their report in a fortnight.

Meanwhile, a team of the Education Department led by Mr Jagtar Singh Khatra today scrutinised the documents of 280 ETT teachers of Ludhiana district at the Inservice Training Centre at the mini secretariat here. They were asked to submit photo copies of Class X, plus two and ETT certificates. The B.Ed teachers have been summoned on July 2 at the same venue.

Mr Khatra, however, refused to comment on the reasons behind the exercise.


Relations with Centre cordial: CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that his government was getting all required financial and other support from the BJP-led government at the Centre.

“We have very smooth relations and facing no problem at all as far as the Union Government is concerned”, he added. He cited the example of how the Planning Commission authorities approved Rs 43 crore on their own above the amount of the annual plan that was submitted by the state government.

Inspite of the dispute of Rs 2400 crore that was a legacy of the previous SAD-BJP government, the Union Government was helpful enough to sanction a limit of Rs 6700 crore for the procurement of wheat in April this year, he added.

Meanwhile, talking about the report of the Disinvestment Commission, he said that the final report was yet to be submitted to the government. It would be studied at an appropriate level, not implemented blindly, he added. Interest of employees would be protected.

Meanwhile, the Punjab unit of the CPI,has strongly opposed the disinvestment in public sector undertakings in the state. Addressing a press conference, Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI, said it would ruin the lives of two lakh employees and their families in the state.


Exorcist kin, SGPC men clash
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Even as Mr Narinder Pal Singh, Assistant Information Officer, in his communication faxed to the SGPC, chief claimed that he was no exorcising at Baba Balak Nath temple as claimed by the members of the SGPC flying squad, the task force of the SGPC allegedly used force to remove the ‘encroachment’ outside the shop of his (Narinder Pal Singh’s) father near the Golden Temple today.

However, the Manager, Golden Temple, in a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, district police chief and high officials urged them to take action against Mr Santokh Singh, Additional District Attorney (brother of Narinder Pal Singh), for allegedly intimidating the SGPC employees.

Meanwhile, Mr Harbhajan Singh, father of Narinder Pal Singh, lodged a formal complaint with SHO, Kotwali, that shop was attacked by certain armed ‘employees of the SGPC who took away readymade garments worth Rs 25,000 from the shop. He said his shop was attacked as a retaliatory action. He claimed that some senior functionaries of the SGPC had a personal grudge against his son and wanted to implicate him in false cases. However, Mr Raghbir Singh, Personal Assistant, to SGPC chief, claimed that the task force had gone, there to clear the encroachment by Mr Harbhajan Singh.

Mr Harbhajan Singh said his son Santokh Singh also reached the venue and asked the employees about their names. On this they said they had come here on the orders of Secretary, SGPC, and the Manager Golden Temple.

However, the high officials of the SGPC said Narinder Pal Singh was still absent from duty as he did not present himself despite the orders of the office.

In his explanation, Narinder Pal Singh said he was unnecessarily implicated by his rivals. He said he had not indulged in any ‘anti-Sikh ‘activities as claimed by members of the flying squad. He, however, admitted that he was present at the time of the raid. Narinder Pal Singh said he had produced a number of documentaries and films on Sikhism and as a part of his “research work”, he had met Devinder Kumar, who had been “mitigating the sufferings” of the people without charging even a single penny. He said Devinder Kumar would always appeal to the devotees to get their sufferings mitigated by reciting the name of the God. “He never indulged in any type of exorcism.

He further claimed that on the advice of Devinder Kumar his own disease had vanished. He alleged that Mr Waryam Singh, Assistant Secretary, Dharm Prachar Committee, Mr Harbhajan Singh Manawa, members of the flying squad, and Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, a spokesman of the Dal Khalsa entered the temple of Baba Balak Nath without removing their shoes and hence desecrated the religious place. “When they realised that they had indulged in sacrilege, they fleed”.

Narinder Pal Singh urged the SGPC chief to intervene as certain employees of Dharm Prachar Committee were misleading him. He said the members of the flying squad did not ask him for explanation at the time of the raid and started intimidating him. He alleged that he had been receiving threatening calls from his seniors to accept their version that he was exorcising, which was not true.


PSEB violates power Act
No money to pay arrears
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 29
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) seems to have been caught in a debt trap by consuming more coal than being procured by it from the coal companies in Bihar which could result in major power breakdowns in case of any disruption in the coal supply.

As against a daily consumption of 10 rakes of coal for its three thermal plants the board was not able to get a single rake for s Bathinda plant yesterday and got only three rakes for Ropar and two for Lehra Mohabbat. Under normal conditions, it receives two rakes for Bathinda, two for Lehra Mohabbat and six rakes for Ropar everyday.

Board sources said the organisation had not been able to stabilise its coal supplies despite various attempts because it simply did not have the money to pay the arrears which had accumulated to around Rs 80 crore a few days ago. The sources said the coal companies were asking the board to pay the arrears if it wanted the supply to be stepped up.

The sources said due to the reason the PSEB coal pipeline had become unpredictable. They said the position was such that presently only five days’ stock was available at Bathinda and Ropar and 10 days at Lehra Mohabbat. They said the board had allowed the situation to deteriorate to sea level despite the fact that the Central Electricity Act stipulates that thermal plants away from pit heads should keep stock of 30 days of coal with them to cater to all eventualities.

Board officials said the position could take a turn for the worst if the Board did not improve its stock position. They said there was more likelihood of coal supplies being disrupted in case of heavy rainfall in the mine area or any disruption in rail traffic. A few years ago they said two units of the Ropar thermal plant had to be closed due to a train accident near Kanpur because then too the board authorities had gambled by keeping very low reserves.

While the board has to pay arrears to the coal companies it also has huge arrears, nearly Rs 120 crore, to pay to the Railways on account of freight charges. The sources said besides normal freight tariff, the PSEB was not getting a 15 per cent discount on freight tariff from the Railways since May.

They said under an arrangement worked out with the Railways the PSEB gets a 15 per cent discount if it maintains a one month advance with the former. Once the board defaults on a single payment it stops getting the discount even if it makes full subsequent payments. The board has allowed itself to default despite the fact that a similar mistake in 1997-98 cost it dear with the Railway authorities slapping a Rs 200 crore penalty on it. This is still being contested by it in the court.

The PSEB Engineers Association has also taken up the issue with the State Regulatory Commission highlighting the fact that it is imperative to clear the defaulting amount with the Railways immediately so that the board is not saddled with huge penalties which it will find difficulty to clear due to its current financial position. It has also requested the state government in this regard.


Privatise power supply: PSERC
Tribune Reporters

Abohar, June 29
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal and Consumer Welfare Council have urged the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) that the PSEB should not be allowed to increase the proposed tariff from 24 per cent to 47 per cent for various categories of consumers. Only a 10 per cent increase may be allowed under pressing circumstances after six months, they suggested.

Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, and Mr P.L. Garg, executive member of the council, said in their memorandums sent to the PSERC that the PSEB in its report to the commission had compared transmission and distribution (T and D) losses with those states which were in the top five in terms of losses. They further suggested that the distribution of electricity be privatised in cities like Nabha, Sangrur, Malerkotla and Patiala which were fed by private companies before the formation of the PSEB.

Coal transit loss during the past two years had increased by 2.28 per cent. This put an additional burden of Rs 100 crore on the PSEB. The thermal plants in Punjab are located far off from the coal mines. The board is paying 60 per cent of the total cost of coal as freight charges. Indigenous coal is not appropriate for the plants having high ash contents. If permission is taken from the Union Government to import coal, nearly Rs 100 crore could be saved, besides improving production. The board could save another Rs 1 crore by repaying old loans which had been secured at a higher rate of interest. As the government had failed to make payment of 24-hour rural electricity subsidy, it should be stopped and the additional staff be retrenched.

Raising another point Mr Kapoor and Mr Garg said revenue stamp of Re 1 was required to be affixed on each receipt exceeding Rs 500 but the PSEB cashiers had not been using the stamp on more than Rs 8 crore bills annually. This alleged siphoning off the revenue could be prevented by getting exemption from the government from affixing the stamps. Although inflation rate was within 2 per cent, the PSEB had in its report made a provision of 5 per cent increase in the purchases on account of inflation.

MOGA: Members of the Punjab unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union at its meeting held here on Thursday evening and chaired by its vice-president, Major Singh Khukharana urged the PSEB to withdraw the orders asking farmers to get the transformers damaged in their respective villages repaired at their own expense. They said as the transformers were the property of the government, it was its duty to repair them.

The union decided that if the government failed to withdraw these orders, the farmers would launch an agitation. It also said that farmers were facing an acute shortage of canal water as the water released in Kingwan canal passing through their villages in this district was not sufficient for paddy sowing and watering operations.

The meeting further demanded action against the corrupt PSEB employees.


Admn seeks legal view to recover grants
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 29
Even as the district administration has issued notices to various rural clubs, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and religious bodies in connection with the recovery of grants allocated to them under the sangat darshan programmes held by former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against the norms in the district a few months ago, no club, NGO or religious body has deposited the same with the Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development).

Sources said about 70 such clubs and bodies had been served with notices asking them to deposit the money back and as they did not comply with the same the administration has started seeking legal opinion to recover about a sum of Rs 25 lakh which was granted to them. The sources revealed that some of these clubs, NGOs and religious bodies were given grants throwing all norms to winds and very few of them had done any social service. Some of the clubs and bodies that had been served with notices had even failed to submit the bills and other necessary documents giving details of the expenses. Some of them could not be traced and even their existence seemed to be fictitious.

The sources revealed that one of the beneficiaries of such funds was the Seva Bharati, an NGO, which had been granted Rs 2.25 lakh in the sangat darshan programme. It had neither used the grant as per norms nor kept a proper record of the use of the funds. They said some of the other bodies that had been asked to deposit the money, Rs 10,000 each, received in the sangat darshan programmes included the Mata Naina Devi Bhandara Mandli, Pracheen Mandir Hazi Rattan, Guru Nanak Langar Committee, Mata Chintpurni Langar Committee and the Jain Milan Club. Similarly, the Jai Ambey Sankirtan Bhandara Mandli and the Social Service Welfare Society were asked to deposit pack Rs 20,000 each and the Jai Durga Bhajan Mandli Rs 30,000.

The authorities had also asked the Mandir Shree Bala Ji situated at Lal Singh Basti to deposit Rs 25,000 back. The authorities maintained that as per rules no religious body could be given a government grant to organise religious functions, the sources said.

The authorities had also asked the local MSD Public Senior Secondary School to deposit Rs 5 lakh, given to it as a grant by former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the sources said.

The state government had asked the deputy commissioners of the state to file a detailed report on the utilisation of the funds allocated in the sangat darshan programmes. An investigation had also been ordered into the utilisation of the funds received by the various panchayats during the sangat darshan programmes and the vigilance officials would be helping the district authorities in the task, the sources said.


DFSC’s role being probed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 29
Even though 22 of the 34 rice mill owners have been arrested for their alleged involvement in the fraud regarding the delivery of rice to the state agencies in 1999-2000, a probe has been started into the role of officials of the District Food and Supply Control (DFSC) in this connection.

The district police after launching a campaign against defaulter rice mill owners registered 13 criminal cases at different police stations in the district in connection wit the fraud regarding the delivery of rice worth about Rs 10 crore. The police managed to get all relevant documents of defaulter rice millers from the DFSC authorities. However, the DFSC authorities failed to supply copies of the agreement and partnership deeds of two rice mills based at Malout and Muktsar, though both these mills had allegedly committed fraud worth Rs 62 lakh and Rs 43 lakh, respectively.

Police sources said this was the reason that prompted a probe into the role of DFSC officials. The DFSC authorities failed to supply these documents despite the fact that the district police authorities had written about 10 letters in this connection. Apart from it, senior police official of the rank of DSP visited the DFSC office a number of times to get the documents.

The sources added that the police authorities had arrested 22 persons from various places, including religious places, where some of them were hiding. Some of the accused had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for quashing of the FIR registered against them.

The Punjab Food and Supply Minister, Mr Lal Singh, has said more than 50 per cent of rice mills located in the state had become defaulters in the delivery of rice worth hundreds of crores of rupees in lieu of the paddy taken by them from the state government agencies for milling and subsequently its delivery. He added that the state government had decided to take legal and other departmental action against the defaulting rice mill owners for recovery of rice from them.

What surprised the Congress government was the fact that during the previous SAD-BJP combine government in the state, the authorities concerned had launched arbitration proceedings against the defaulting rice mill owners instead of registering criminal cases against them.

Mr S.S. Bhatti, SP (D), Muktsar, when contacted said after the police authorities launched the campaign rice worth crores had been recovered from them. Some defaulting rice mill owners were still trying to deliver the quantity of rice to the respective state agency that was due against them.

He confirmed that the DFSC authorities had failed to supply the relevant documents of the two defaulting rice mills needed for investigation.


12 more trains for Ferozepore division
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 29
The Northern Railway has approved the introduction of 12 new trains, including four express trains and eight diesel multiple unit (DMU) trains, in different sections of Ferozepore division with effect from July 1.

Railway sources told this correspondent here today that 4609 up/4610 dn Jammu-Hardwar Express would run daily between Jammu and Hardwar, and 4547 up/4548 dn Pathankot-Delhi Express would run thrice a week on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays between Pathankot and Delhi.

Eight new train services would also be introduced on July 1 in Ferozepore division. A new DMU service IPJ/2PJ would be introduced between Pathankot and Jammu. It would ply on all days of the week, except Sundays. Two passenger trains 3LF/8LF would run between Ludhiana and Ferozepore, two passenger trains 5FF/6FF between Ferozepore and Fazilka and four passenger trains i.e. 1JRJ/4JRJ, and 5JRJ/6JRJ would run daily between Jejon and Rahon daily from July 1.

Sources informed that 8101 up/8102 dn Moorie Express would now run between Jammu Tawi and Moorie instead of Pathankot and Moorie.

While 5209 up/5210 dn Amritsar-Barauni Jan-nayak Express would run daily instead of five days, 5211 up/5212 dn Darbhanga-Amritsar Jansewa Express would run daily instead of twice a week from July 1.


Musical extravaganza at Lashkara function
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 29
The city, reverberated with different genres of music and dance as artistes turned the Lashkara Music Award-2002 into a musical extravaganza with their soulful performances last night.

It was a pleasant surprise to see Kuldip Manak and Charanjit Ahuja, the legendary singer and music director, respectively, getting the lifetime achievement awards in the presence of Vadali brothers — Puran Chand and Piare Lal, Bollywood singer Abhijit, Sardar Anjum, composer Sham Bhateja and noted lyricist Gulshan Bawra. Charanjit Ahuja has been composing music and producing singers for the past 22 years while Kuldip Manak, known as “Kalian Da Badshah” is known for his distinct folk style.

Braving the hot and humid evening and even a bit of mismanagement,  hundreds of music lovers thronged Lilly Resorts, the venue for the event. The programme took off with the bursting of crackers and the voices of actor Pankaj Dhir and Mink Singh who anchored the programme. It was Kulbir, the Punjabi heart-throb, who made everyone dance with his number, “Adhi raatin sutti payee daa, khar khar khadke...”, with a dance sequence depicting the romantic yearnings of a girl in the rural backdrop.

Then it was the turn of upcoming dance doll, Richa Sharma, to make the audience sway as she rendered, “Kehte hain mere ankhen” and “Aya maahi aya, ishque di gali,” in her sonorous and velvety voice.

Abhijit impressed the youth and made them stand on chairs with his famed “Chand taare tod laayun.” Ashok Masti presented “Punjabian di ho gayi vah bhai vah.” The martial arts feats presented by a Mohali-based group of Nihangs was laudable.

Harbhajan Maan also drew crowds but his gunmen, who surrounded him, were a nuisance for the viewers.

The following were the winners: Bhai Harjinder Singh Raagi Sri Nagar wale (Special Award), music director Jaidev (Best Music Director), Azim Parkar (Best Video Director), Simran Tripat (Best Folk Singer) for her number “Hai sohnian laide lacha multan daa, Poni Verma (Best Choreographer), Kaur sisters (Best debutante Award) for their album, “Baajre Daa Sitta”, Preet Brar (Best debutant), while the Best Video Award went to the album, “Tere Te Dil Aa Gaya.” The jury comprised artistes like Mahendra Kapoor, Abhijit, Ken Ghosh, Gulshan Bawra and dance director Ganesh Hegde.


Eight get bail in corruption cases
Our correspondent

Ropar, June 29
The District and Sessions Judge, Mr Maghar Khan, today granted bail to eight persons accused in various corruption cases. They include Prem Sagar, Randhir Singh Dhera and Paramjit Singh Pammi, alleged agents of the ousted PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, Jasbir Singh, PA of Sucha Singh Langah, Jasbir Singh, field officer of Markfed caught yesterday while stealing wheat from a godown, Maheshwar and Naresh Kumar, Junior Engineers and Chaman Lal Premi, Deputy Director, Rural Development Department accused in the Kahlon case.

Randhir Singh Dhera and Paramjit Singh Pammi and Prem Sagar were granted bail against bonds of Rs 1 lakh each and Rs 50,000 respectively.

Jasbir Singh was granted bail as challan had not been presented. Jasbir Singh was granted interim bail until July 9.

The Junior Engineers accused in a similar case were also granted anticipatory bail until July 10. Chaman Lal Premi was also granted anticipatory bail in a separate hearing.

The other cases that came up for hearing included that of former Education Minister Tota Singh and Bikramjit Singh former PA of Sucha Singh Langah. In the Tota Singh case the Vigilance failed to turn up due to which the next date of hearing was fixed for July 3. The case would now come up for hearing before the Additional Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr J.S. Khushdil.

The judicial remand of Bikramjit Singh was, however, extended until July 12.


Pak intruder shot
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, June 29
An intruder was killed in an exchange of fire that took place between them and security personnel in this sector near Jalalabad today morning.

According to details available, a few intruders opened fire from the Pakistani side near the Border Observation Post (BOP) of Yaru falling under Chak village today morning at about 4.30 a.m. in a bid to intrude into the Indian territory.

The BSF and the Army personnel retaliated from within 250 yards of the international border and forced the intruders to flee leaving behind the dead. The reports from within BSF sources revealed that the intruders had entered 50 yards inside the Indian border.

An FIR has been registered in the Sadar police station of Jalalabad under Sections 307 and 34 of the IPC; 334 of the Violation of the Passport Act and 25, 27 of the Arms Act. The SHO said no weapon had been recovered from the site.

The SHO said Rs 30 in Pakistani currency was recovered from the pocket of the dead intruder.


Police shielding dept head: Dang
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 29
Accusing the authorities concerned of delaying action against the “guilty” top officials of Guru Nanak Dev University who were indicted by the police in the fake admission case for MCA course, veteran CPI leader Satya Pal Dang today sought intervention of the Governor.

In a communication to Mr JFR Jacob, Mr Dang alleged that the officials who were directly responsible for the fake admission, were being shielded by the authorities concerned with a view to hush up the case.

His letter reads, “After an inquiry by an SP a case under Sections 420, 465, 471, IPC and sections 7/13, Prevention of Corruption Act, was registered against Parmanand, the then personal assistant to Dean (Academic Affairs), Mr H.S. Kahlon, Head of MCA Department, and others. The police was forced to arrest Parmanand on June 9 when the complainant, Rakesh Kumar, and his cousin took him to the police station.

Accusing the police of shielding the Head of the Department, Mr Dang alleged that the inquiry officer (a DSP) had stated that He (Mr Kahlon) was not arrested as there was no evidence against him. Mr Dang claimed that there was documentary evidence against Mr Kahlon and added that he had confirmed reports that Mr Kahlon had not applied for bail as he was sure that he was not going to be touched.

He further said the son of Mr Parmanand had claimed that his father had been arrested to save others, including some top functionaries of the university. He urged the Governor to ensure that law should be allowed to take its own course.


Kapurthala gets mobile PCR units
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 29
The district police has launched a mobile police control room units in the town in order to check crime. Mr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, flagged off 10 motorbikes from the Local Police Lines at a function held in this regard.

Addressing the function, Mr Dhoke said the cycleborne policemen would man the roads of the town, which has been divided into 10 zones round-the-clock. He said that the aim of the purpose would be to check the incidents of dacoities, robberies and harassment to women. Each zone would be put under the control of one police control room unit (PCR), he added.

The SSP said each PCR unit would perform eight hours’ duty daily. He further said 70 policemen had been given special training for one month in this regard.

Mr Dhoke said each team would comprise one head constable and a constable equipped with a wireless set, carbine pistol, first-aid kit, short-baton, beat book and personal diary.

He added that Mr Arun Paul Singh, S.P. (Headquarter), had been made in charge of the PCR units.

Mr Arun Paul Singh said a separate communication network had been set up for immediate link with PCR through wireless.


Drive to check liquor smuggling
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 29
The local police has launched a drive against smuggling of liquor in the district from Chandigarh and other states.

The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, while addressing a press conference said here today that 4,62,692ml of IMFL liquor, 37, 950ml illicit liquor, 44 kg lahan and 23,400ml of beer had been seized in the recent past. The smuggling of liquor has increased due to variance in the rates of liquor in Chandigarh and Punjab. Due to this the state was losing a lot of revenue.

He said the district police had also achieved a breakthrough in checking the narcotic smuggling. The Nangal police recently arrested Jagtar Singh, alias Pappu, a resident of Una and recovered 50 kg of poppy husk from him. The Morinda police arrested Nirmal Singh, a resident of Sangrur, and recovered 30 kg of poppy husk from him. The CIA staff also arrested Davinder Singh of Kharar and recovered 500 gm of opium. Cases under the NDPS Act have been registered against them.


Probe pigeon episode: JD(S)
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 29
Mr Balwant Singh Khera, Chairman, Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission and Janata Dal (S) leader, today wrote to the Punjab Government to punish Akali leaders involved in the alleged human trafficking during the SAD-BJP regime.

In a statement here, Mr Khera said if the government failed to do anything, the mission would appeal to the Lok Pal.

He said the pigeon scandal was “planned” by office-bearers of the SAD and claimed that he had written many times to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Vedanti, Akal Takht Jathedar, and the SGPC President but to no avail. He said all those involved in the pigeon episode should be ex-communicated.

He also said they would approach the apex court in case Sehajdharis were debarred from voting in the SGPC elections.

He said the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, was enacted after a long struggle by the Sikhs and the leaders had no right to do away with its fundamental clauses.


Woman dies in pickle factory
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 29
A woman was killed and three others were injured due to inhaling of suffocating gas while working in a pickle factory at Sriganganagar, 40 km from here, yesterday. The factory has been sealed. The owner of the factory reportedly absconded when the police carried raids.

Information gathered from different sources said the factory has been operating from the thickly populated Harmilap colony for the past more than 10 years.

Yesterday, when Seeta Rani (40), was trying to mix spices in the “achaar” she fell in the tank due to the suffocating gas emanating from it. Choas prevailed following the incident as three more workers fell inside the tank while trying to rescue her. The fire brigade which was informed after 3 p.m. entered the tank and rescued Rajesh (20), Harpal (28) and Subhash (44).


Durga Vahini camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Batala, June 29
The regional training camp of Durga Vahini, Punjab, concluded today at BVN High School, Batala.

The camp started on June 25. At least 90 participants from Ludhiana, Bathinda, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Patiala attended the camp. Durga Vahini is an offshoot of the RSS.

The main speakers on the concluding day of the function were Ms Meena Bhatt, All-India Convener of the Vahini from Gujarat, Rachna Rathore, Convener, Punjab wing, and Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Vice-President, jap-yagya committee. The function was presided over by Ms Usha Sareen.


Mayor ‘not available’ to public
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 29
Mr B.K. Chopra, a senior a senior resident of the city, has alleged that though the Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, had announced that he would be available for hearing public grievances from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at the corporation guest house and 3 to 5 p.m. at the Mayor office daily but to his disappointment the Mayor was not present even on a single day when he visited these places for four consecutive days.

Mr Chopra said that promises which are made merely to get publicity were not good for welfare of public and should be avoided.


800 quintal wheat found missing
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 29
After the seizure of two truckloads of wheat allegedly stolen from the plinths of Markfed in Chamkaur Sahib yesterday, it has been found that 800 quintals of wheat have been allegedly reported missing from the possession of the Block Development Officer, Anandpur Sahib.

Sources told “The Tribune” wheat comes to the block under the centrally sponsored employment insurance scheme and the Jawahar Rozgar Yojna. Under the scheme, the local labour is to be employed for the development works and is to be paid half in cash and half in the form of foodgrains.

However, officials of the Panchayati Department allegedly get most of the works done on contract and pocket the profit by selling wheat in the open market.

On receiving complaints of the missing wheat stocks, the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, ordered an inquiry into the usage of wheat stock received in March.

The inquiry conducted by the Secretary, Zila Parishad, found that the entire wheat stocks received under the said schemes were missing. The inquiry officer also could not locate the disbursement records of the wheat from the villages.

On the basis of the inquiry report, the Deputy Commissioner has written to the SSP, Ropar, to register criminal cases against former BDO Anandpur Sahib, Madan Lal Bains and the junior engineers.


Politicisation of APCC decried
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
The Bharti Kisan Union has decried the politicisation of the Agricultural Prices and Cost Commission. In a statement issued today, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the BKU, said that it was unfortunate that the APCC by not recommending any increase in the MSP of paddy was indirectly fixing a low return for the crop as important factors like increase in the prices of diesel, power and withdrawal of subsidies on fertilizers had not been taken into consideration while calculating the MSP.

He said it was such recommendations of not increasing the MSP that was forcing debt-ridden farmers to commit suicides. He said the farmers were forced to raise loans from commission agents at exorbitant rates to irrigate their paddy crop. The watertable in Punjab was going down steeply. The farmers had spent huge amounts on deep-bore tubewells.

Mr Rajewal warned that if the commission and the government failed to increase the MSP for paddy, the farmers would be compelled to start an agitation in New Delhi to get their grievances redressed.


SEA awards rice bran producers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
The Solvent Extractors’ Association of India ( SEA), as part of its drive to encourage rice bran processing in the country, presented awards to three firms here today.

Choudhary Santokh Singh, Minister for Social Security, Women and Child Welfare, presented the award for the highest producer of refined rice bran oil to A.P. Solvex Limited, Dhuri, Sangrur District. The firm has produced more than 30,000 tonnes of refined rice bran oil with an annual turnover of Rs 108 crore during the last financial year.

The second and third awards were bagged by two Andhra Pradesh firms — Foods Fats & Fertilisers Limited Tadepalligudem and Satyakala Agro Oil Products Limited., Ganguru, respectively. They have produced over 16,000 and 13,000 tonnes of refined rice bran oil, respectively.


Contractor held for patchwork
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 29
The district police today arrested contractor Jagjit Singh for allegedly misappropriating funds during 1993 in the premix coating job for the Ganga-Barkandi-Goniana link road of the district.

A case against three contractors and one executive engineer (XEN) of the B and R Department under Section 409 of the IPC for criminal breach of trust had been registered at Nahianwala police station.

The former Education Minister, Mr Tota Singh, had ordered the officials concerned to get a case registered against the three contractors and the XEN, who had allegedly misappropriated funds for laying the premix on the Ganga-Barkandi-Goniana road. Mr Tota Singh was the Chairman of the District Planning Board.

The premix coating was to be completed by the B and R Department at a cost of Rs 8 lakh. Sources said the B and R authorities, who were supposed to call tenders and allot work to private contractors after taking sanction from the wing concerned collected quotations by dividing the project into parts. The cost of each part was estimated at Rs 50,000 or less.

The B and R authorities accepted the quotations from one contractor only. Instead of laying premix, the contractor did patchwork which did not survive and the road soon became unmotorable.

The scam had come to light when the then Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Mr Vivek Aggarwal, made inquiries into the case on the complaint made by the then MLA of Nathana, Mr Balbir Singh to Mr Tota Singh.


Bank employee’s house robbed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 29
Cash and jewellary worth Rs 1.24 lakh have allegedly been stolen from the house of Mr Harjinder Singh, a resident of Muradpur mohalla.

The robbers have not been identified as yet. Mr Harjinder Singh said he had gone to a religious place from June 23 to 27. On his return he found that his house had been burgled. The police has registered a case under Sections 457, 380 of the IPC against the accused.

According to another report, the Bhikhiwind police has recovered a stolen motor cycle from the possession of Lakha Singh of Kale village. A case under Sections 420, 468 and 467 of the IC has been registered against the accused.


Don’s reinduction shatters victim
Kanchan Vasdev
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 29
The decision of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) to reinstate the Professor accused of molesting a girl student has shattered the victim who says that she has “lost faith in justice and the law of the land.”

Talking to “The Tribune”, the dejected victim, a postgraduate student, said that it seemed that decision of the university authorities was aimed at “encouraging such elements.”

“The university has definitely set a wrong precedence by reinstating him. By just transferring him and cancelling his two increments, the university has let me down. The message conveyed to all and sundry is — molest a girl and go scot free. I am really disgusted with the latest development,” said the victim.

Totally dejected at the PAU authorities’ decision to reinstate Dr Harmit Singh Thind, a Professor in the Department of Soils who was held guilty by a PAU inquiry, the victim said she was anguished at the manner the PAU authorities had handled the case.

“I think nobody listens to a girl in this country. When I had complained against him, many professors had urged me not to go ahead with the case. Even the authorities were not taking any action till students started agitation. Then were delays in the submission of the inquiry report. And now they have reinstated him. Where is the justice? There are the guidelines of the Supreme Court on such issues as well. But who cares?” said the victim.

She has decided to write to the Vice-Chancellor for reviewing his decision. “Look at their attitude. They have not even bothered to intimate me about the decision. I got to know of it through the media. After all the case involves me. Was it not important to inform me also the?” she said.

Stating that the punishment was very soft as compared to the wrongdoing of the Professor, the victim asked, “Can they imagine how difficult it is for a fatherless girl to live through such a phase in her life. And what effect will it have on the psyche of a girl who is molested by her teacher whom she considered to be a father figure?”

She is writing a letter to the Vice-Chancellor to demand a review of his decision and action against PAU teachers, including a functionary of PAUTA, who pressurised her not to go ahead with the case and tried to intervene in her path to get justice.


Results of PU BA II, BA III declared
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
Panjab University today declared results of BA Part II and BA Part III conducted earlier this year, besides several other examinations, an official press release said.

Subjects whose results were declared included : BA Part II (general), BA Part III (general), BA Part III (general, all compartment cases except English which includes improvement and additional subject), BA Part III (honours), Bachelor of Fine Arts IV and BE (Chemical) VI semester. The postgraduate courses whose results were declared included MA Part I (economics), MA Part II (English), MA Part II (music vocal), MBA (human resources) first semester and MSc Part I (zoology).

Copies of the result gazette will be available at the enquiry counter of the university on all working days.


VC search panel to meet tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 29
A meeting to start the process of the selection of the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University will be held on July 1.

This was disclosed here today by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He said that the high level search committee set up to select the Vice-Chancellor would hold its first meeting on that day.


Reduce carriage charges, truck unions told
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 29
Mr A. Venu Pradad, Deputy Commissioner, has directed truck unions of Faridkot, Kot Kapura, Jaitu and Sadiq in the district at least to reduce 10 per cent of their carriage charges to give relief to traders, industrialists and others who are already suffering a lot due to economic crisis and other problems in Punjab.

In a press note issued here yesterday, the Deputy Commissioner, who was presiding over the meeting of the district truck owner and operator unions here, particularly expressed concern over the truck union of Jaitu which was charging heavy rates from the traders.

He made it clear that if the unions failed to comply with the orders, stern action would be taken against them according to law.

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