Monday, July 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab reverts 31 District Education Officers
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
In an endeavour to cleanse the Education Department of “ad hocism,” favouritism and nepotism, the Punjab Government has ordered the reversion of 31 District Education Officers, both Secondary and Primary , to their substantive ranks, besides making “merit-cum-seniority” the sole criterion for appointments at the senior level.

As a sequel to this major policy decision, 60 Circle Education Officers (CEOs), Deputy CEOs, District Education Officers (DTEOs), both Secondary and Primary, were either reverted, transferred or given fresh postings today.

The decision to revert to the “merit-cum-seniority” policy, says Mr Khushal Bahl, Education Minister, was necessitated because of the “total chaotic atmosphere” prevailing in the department for the past four or five years.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Bahl said that juniormost members of the Punjab Education Service Class II (Schools and Inspection Cadre) were posted as District Education Officers while the seniormost and meritorious Principals were ignored.

The new policy would be strictly implemented. “And those who do not fulfil the merit-cum-seniority criterion have been shown the door and replaced by more competent, experienced and meritorious seniors,” said Mr Bahl, revealing that some of those who entered the PES Class-II (School and Inspection Cadre) only in 1999 and lacked adequate experience of even running a secondary school as Principal “manipulated” to get the coveted and responsible post of District Education Officer.

A DEO is expected to implement the policies and programmes of the government and supervise hundreds of schools within his or her jurisdiction. “The old policy of ‘ad hocism’, favouritism and nepotism resulted in utter demoralisation in the cadre of Principals as juniormost members of the cadre started writing the ACRs of their seniors. Such a situation led to indiscipline,” he added.

“We have also decided to concentrate on primary education. To strengthen primary education, seniormost PES Class-II officers have been posted as DEOs (Primary), both in big and educationally backward districts.

“In the coming years the role of the DEO(Primary) will become very important as he or she will be the key officer in the district for implementing the Sarv Siksha Abhiyan, aimed at admitting all children in the 6-14 age group to schools in a time-bound manner.

“Unfortunately, the number of absolute illiterates has been on the increase. Against 62.39 lakh illiterates in 1991, the number increased to 63.80 lakh in 2001. And there are 2.97 lakh children in the 6-14 age group who are still out of school in Punjab,” Mr Bahl added.

Meanwhile, the following transfers and postings have been ordered in the Education Department:

Circle Education Officers

Mr Jaskartar Singh becomes Principal, GISTC, Faridkot, and, in addition, CEO Faridkot; Mr Rajinder Kumar will be CEO, Nabha; Mr L.R. Lakha will be the new CEO, Jalandhar.

Deputy CEOs

Ms Gulshanveer Kaur goes to Jalandhar as Deputy CEO while Ms Charanjit Kaur will be the new Deputy CEO, Nabha.

District Education Officers (Secondary)

Mr Avinash Chander Sethi — Moga; Mr Baldev Krishan Mittal — Ferozepore; Mr Sohan Lal Goyal — Muktsar; M Avtar Singh — Mansa; Mr Krishan Chand Kapoor — Nawan Shahr; Mr Bachittar Singh — Ludhiana; Mr Ujagar Singh Mahi — Ropar; Ms Iqbal Kaur — Fatehgarh Sahib; Ms Sukhmander Kaur — Faridkot; Ms Sudesh Handa — Kapurthala; Ms Bhupinder Kaur — Patiala; Mr Ashok Kumar Sachdeva — Sangrur; Mr Avtar Singh — Hoshiarpur; Mr Gurpartap Singh Guri — Amritsar; Ms Surinder Kataria — Bathinda; Mr Avtar Singh — Gurdaspur; Mr Raunak Ram — Jalandhar.

DEOs (Primary)

Mr Yah Pal Gulati — Amritsar; Mr Gian Singh Basra — Faridkot; Mr Yash Pal Mehra — Ferozepore; M Chander Hans Puri — Bathinda; Mr Harbans Lal Sodhi — Hoshiarpur; Mr Ved Parkash — Sangrur; Ms Jatinder Kaur — Jalandhar; Ms Veena Sharma — Ludhiana; Ms Mohinder Kaur — Fatehgarh Sahib; Ms Veena Gupta — Patiala; Ms Tejinder Kaur Shillon — Kapurthala; Mr Palwinder Singh — Mansa.

DEOs reverted to their substantive ranks

Mr Surinder Pal Singh Dhillon, Ms Usha Rani Sidhu, Mr Harbhajan Singh Bhullar, Mr Dalip Singh, Mr Ashok Kumar Bhalla, Ms Harjit Kaur, Mr Davinder Pal Singh, Mr Ajmer Singh, Ms Kulraj Kaur, Mr Kharag Singh Cheema, Ms Parkash Kaur, Mr Babu Lal, Ms Gurjit Kaur, Ms Parkash Kaur, Mr Raj Singh, Ms Bhupinder Kaur, Ms Pritpal Kaur, Mr Pritpal Singh Walia, Ms Gurminder Kaur, Mr Surinder Nibber, Mr Darshan Singh Brar, Mr Jaswant Rai, Mr Amrit Singh and Ms Raj Kumari.


Action sought against 2 ministers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
A former Deputy Speaker, Punjab, Mr Satpal Gosain, has sought action against two ministers in the Capt Amarinder Singh government, Mr Harbans Lal, Minister of State for Forests, and Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, the Minister of State for Health, for the allegedly fabricated certificates they claimed to have got from the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani Medicine, J&K. Mr Gosain demanded that the matter should be probed by the CBI and the two ministers be dismissed from the government.

He claimed that the two ministers were quacks and had been found to be practising illegally and unauthorisedly. Mr Gosain said one of them had also got an anticipatory bail after the Vigilance Bureau filed its inquiry report and got an FIR registered in the case. He said their names had figured among 500 others in the inquiry conducted by the Vigilance Bureau. No follow-up action was taken after the registration of the FIR, he regretted.

According to Mr Gosain, the ministers had claimed that they were registered with the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani System of Medicine, J&K, in 1976. They had mentioned their residential addresses as Sambha in Jammu while they are permanent residents of Punjab. Interestingly, the Jammu and Kashmir board does not register any practitioner from outside the state.

The former Deputy Speaker pointed out that these facts came to light in the inquiry after which the Vigilance Bureau filed an FIR No. VB-14/22/99(1)15458 dated August 24, 2000, with the Vigilance Bureau Flying Squad No 1 at Mohali. In the said case, the Vigilance Bureau had also taken 23 persons as approvers who had admitted that they had paid an amount ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 50,000 for the registration. These 23 persons were among the 500 others who included these two ministers also.

Mr Gosain said the Vigilance inquiry was ordered by the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in May 1999.

Earlier, the government had asked the Board of Ayurvedic and Unani System, Punjab, to conduct an inquiry into the antecedents of about 500 registered medical practitioners. The committee members appointed for Jammu and Kashmir claimed that they went to Srinagar to meet the J&K board officials on December 12, 1995. However, the inquiry revealed that all state government offices had already shifted to Jammu where these functioned from November 1 to April 30. So there was no question of any official being available in Srinagar at that time.

Mr Gosain pointed out, all candidates, including the two ministers, who claimed to have got themselves registered with the J&K board, belonged to Punjab. But the Vigilance inquiry revealed that the J&K Act for registration of the practitioners clearly mentions that anybody to be registered on the basis of experience should be a permanent resident of J&K.

He said Mr Harbans Lal had also mentioned his age wrong in the affidavit submitted to the government. Anyone who wanted to register himself as a practitioner should have a minimum experience of seven years. Both ministers had claimed that they got registered with the J&K board in 1976. Mr Harbans Lal, who was actually born in 1955, mentioned his year of birth as 1950. If he had mentioned his actual age, then his age at the time of registration would obviously be 21 years only. That meant he should have started practice at the age of 14 only. This made him mention his year of birth wrong. And interestingly while in the affidavit to the government he had mentioned his date of birth as February 17, 1950, in the assembly records he had mentioned his date of birth as February 17, 1955.

Mr Sharma, who also claimed to have registered himself with the J&K board in 1976, had claimed that he remained in jail during the Emergency (between 1975 and 1977). The ministers had mentioned their registration numbers as 2513 and 2798, while the latest gazette had only 1819 registered practitioners.


Mann to raise rice scam in Parliament
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 30
The scam pertaining to the diversion of export category rice to domestic markets by export firms in connivance with rice mill owners and officials which came to light in the Food Corporation of India (FCI) in the district and other parts of state will be taken up in Parliament in the coming session by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and President, SAD (Amritsar), as he alleged that the FCI authorities has succumbed to the pressure of the “export lobby”.

Mr Mann alleged that road movement of export category rice from various parts of Punjab to ports located in Mumbai and Kandla was suspended after the scam came to light, had been started again by the higher FCI authorities under pressure from the “export lobby”.

A major scam, running into crores and involving illegal diversion of export category rice to local markets through and alleged nexus between rice mill owners, export firms and FCI officials was unearthed by the district police on June 18. Similar scams have also allegedly taken place at Sangrur and Ferozepore districts of Punjab, which had been reported in the media.

The FCI authorities, which swung into action after The Tribune exposed the rice diversion scam, constituted a two-member panel to probe the role of FCI officials into the alleged scam and suspended the road movement of rice from Punjab to various ports.

Though the different Central and state agencies, which have been tasked to probe the scam, are yet to submit their findings to the authorities concerned, the FCI authorities have once again allowed the road movement of export category rice to various ports from Punjab. After suspending the road movement of rice, the Punjab regional office of the FCI sought the permission of the higher FCI authorities for restarting the same. A week after the suspension of the road movement of rice, the FCI authorities allowed it be restored.

Mr Mann while talking to TNS today said he had been collecting all relevant documents pertaining to the rice diversion scam to raise the matter in the coming session of Parliament. He added that a higher FCI authorities were involved into this scam, it was being hushed up.

Sources said the FCI authorities had allowed the road movement of rice for clearance of stock which had been choking the storage space and to make enough space for storing the rice to be delivered by the millers after the next milling, which would start around October or November.

They added that road movement had been allowed only to those export firms which had submitted bank guarantees and made advance payments to the FCI authorities in lieu of rice. In other cases, road movement would not be allowed.

The district police, which exposed the rice diversion scam, seized about 36 trucks loaded with rice bags from six rice mills located in the district. The rice seized by the police was meant for export through an export firm namely Sharp Menthol India Limited. The Sharp Menthol India Limited, a Delhi-based export firm, was blacklisted by the FCI authorities after the scam was unearthed.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the rice mill owners had been selling better quality rice, to be delivered to the FCI in lieu of paddy taken from it for milling, in the open market at high rates. They would replenish their stock by purchasing rice from export firms at their doorsteps at a small premium. In this way, both rice mill owners and export firms, which had been getting rice from the FCI under export category at very low prices, had been minting money.

The sources said in the past more than two years, more than 35 lakh metric tonnes (MT) of rice had been sold by the FCI to export firms under the export category rice. How much quantity of export category rice had illegally been diverted to the local markets by export firms will be known only after a probe by an independent agency.


SGPC move on Takhts draws flak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The move of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to bring all five Takhts under the direct control of the proposed All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act is being opposed by Mr G.S. Lamba, a member of the sub-committee on the draft of ‘the Sikh Gurdwara Bill, 1999’ on the ground that such a move would affect sovereignty of the great institution of Akal Takht. He alleged that some forces wanted to dilute authority of Akal Takht which could not be tolerated.

The chapter four of the draft of the Sikh Gurdwaras Bill, 1999, proposes that the central board shall manage the Sikh Gurdwaras namely Darbar Sahib and other notified Sikh gurdwaras within the municipal limits of the city of Amritsar, Sri Akal Takht, Takht Sri Hazoor Sahib, Takht Sri Patna Sahib, Takht Damdama Sahib and Takht Kesgarh Sahib and other gurdwaras there.

Mr Lamba who attended the recently held meeting of the SGPC’s sub-committee on the draft Bill at Chandigarh said that Akal Takht should not be considered as mere gurdwara which could be controlled by any Act. He said the Sikh Gurdrara Act 1925 already had kept Akal Takht out of the purview of the Act. “Akal Takht is not a gurdwara but a unique institution which has no parallel in any religion of the world. Its sovereign authority must be maintained”, he suggested. He said the institution of Akal Takht was set up by the sixth Guru as a ‘religious picket/post to protect the gurdwaras... this is an institution where weapons are worshipped.

The Sikh scholar said that for maintaining sovereignty of the Akal Takht, it was imperative that an independent set-up should be established to manage the affairs of the institution , appointment of Jathedar and his impeachment (if necessitated).

It may be mentioned here that it was Mr Lamba who had raised this issue earlier too when the draft Bill was presented by the Sikh Gurdwara Commission.

However, Mr Kulwant Singh, a former secretary, SPGC said that no Sikh should have any objection over the status of gurdwara, accorded to Akal Takht. He said gurdwara is a place where Guru Granth Sahib is worshipped. He further said that right from the appointment of Jathedar, all affairs of the Akal Takht were being looked after by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, General Secretary SGPC, however, said that nobody should raise any objection over the proposed Bill publicly as all its clauses would be passed by consensus evolved in the proposed meetings.

Some other provisions of the draft Bill are bound to create controversy in the Sikh circles. Mr Lamba said that the definition of a voter given in the draft was not acceptable in its present form. He claimed that the root-cause of the rot in the system was unmanageable size of electoral college which had acquired all the ills, vices perpetuated in the general elections. He said only a baptised Sikh should be allowed to become a voter for the general elections of the SGPC.


Machhiwara boy tops Class XII exam
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, June 30
Boys have bagged two positions out of the top three slots in the class XII examinations (humanities and vocational group) of the Punjab School Education Board, the results of which were declared here today.

Jarnail Singh, a student of Shakti Public Senior Secondary School, Machhiwara, topped the examination by securing 403 marks out of 450. Ranjit Kaur of the same school stood second by getting 398 marks. Iqbal Singh Shergill of Paragon Senior Secondary School, Sector 71, SAS Nagar, was placed third on the merit list. He secured 396 marks.

Ms Narinder Kaur, Controller of Examinations, said in the humanities group a total of 1,72,599 students appeared in the examinations out of which 96,432 candidates passed. As many as 1,14,150 students appeared as regular candidates, while 58,449 appeared as private candidates.

In the vocational group, 7,474 candidates sat for the examination out of which 4,968 cleared it.

She said in the humanities group 87,419 boys had appeared for the examination while the number of girls stood at 85,180. The pass percentage in the boys category was 48.66, while in case of girls it was 66.21.

Other students placed in the top ten list are (marks in brackets):

Shelly Jain, R.S. Model Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, (390); Ashu Batra, Amrit Model Senior Secondary School, Abohar, (387); Nittin Batra, KrmdAv College, Nakodar, (387); Jagpinder Singh, Shakti Public Senior Secondary School, Machhiwara, (387); Gunveen Kaur, Hindu Kanya College, Kapurthala, (386); Pooja Khanna, BKE and I Girls Senior Secondary School, Chourasti Atari, Amritsar, (384); Gurmeet Kaur, BCM Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, (384); Palvika, Amrit Model Senior Secondary School, Abohar, (383); Jaagatjot Kaur, Atma Public Senior Secondary School, Ludhiana, (381); Komal Sharma, Modern Senior Secondary School, Patiala, (381); and Gagandeep Kaur, Paragon Senior Secondary School, SAS Nagar, (380).


Warm homecoming awaits Sekhon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, June 30
Notwithstanding his unceremonious exit from the Indian Air Force, residents of Issewal village have arranged a hero’s welcome for Air Marshal Manjit Singh Sekhon (retd) who would visit his native village on July 2.

This would be his first visit to Issewal after his retirement from service. Air Marshal Sekhon was forced to put in his papers after his controversial letter written to the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was leaked.

The Sarpanch of Issewal, Mr Gurdyal Singh said an akhand path was begun in the village gurdwara today and its bhog would be on July 2. He said that a large number of people from all parts of the state and panchayats would attend it. The villagers have taken up cudgels on behalf of the Air Marshal and had met the President also.

Talking about the Air Marshal, the Sarpanch said, “He is one of the most honest, experienced and dedicated Air Marshals who is ever ready to accept challenging tasks. During the four wars, he killed thousands of enemies and during times of peace, saved thousands of Indians from most difficult situations.”

“He has popularised the name of Issewal with his heroic deeds. He will remain our hero and inspire our children. Besides serving the nation, he has done a lot for the development of this village. He is one of the persons who do not forget their roots,” he added.

The villagers planned a warm homecoming for him. “He is planning to serve the people of Punjab after his retirement. We are proud of him and why not? He has been decorated with the most prestigious gallantry awards of the Air Force,” said the Sarpanch.

Air Marshal Sekhon was born and brought up in Issewal and received his education in this village. He is considered to be a light of inspiration for the village youth which is already known as a village of heroes as the maximum number of defence personnel and martyrs in the district are from here. Air Marshal Sekhon is a frequent visitor to the village where he is treated very respectfully. The indicator of this fact is that he is invited to all functions held in the village.

Even after his forced ouster from the service, the villagers had stood by him and termed the development as “unfortunate” and alleged that injustice was meted out to him. They had organised rallies in the village and demanded his reinstatement. They had even written letters to the Prime Minister as well as the Defence Minister.


406 ITBP recruits pass out
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 30
The Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) has adopted the latest techniques to impart special training to its recruits to counter growing terrorist and anti-national activities across the country.

The Director of ITBP Academy, Mussourie, and Inspector-General (Training Zone), Mr

M.P.Vasudeva, talking to reporters at the Ad hoc Training Centre near here today, said that in view of the prevailing security threat preceptions and use of latest weapons and communication gadgets by the terrorists, the ITBP had adopted the latest technologies and equipment, including thermal-imaging system, laser-range finders, surveillance radars system and computer-operated guns to train fresh recruits at all the training centres in the country.

“Though we are basically meant to look after managing the borders of the country, but the changed security scenario and the use of the ITBP for internal security purposes is the main reason for the introduction of changes in the training schedules of the troops specifically to counter terrorism related activities, which were a serious threat to the society. We have also constituted quick reaction teams to perform special internal security operations,” Mr Vasudeva added. He further said that they were kept reviewing the training schedules periodically and major changes had been introduced in the past to upgrade the standards of training.

Earlier, speaking on the occasion of the passing-out parade of the recruits, the Additional Director -General of Police, Uttar Pardesh, Mr Himanshu Kumar, said that the spurt in terrorist related activities in the country during the past two decades had caused a great loss to the nation.

“Though thousands of freedom fighters sacrificed their lives to win freedom for their fellow countrymen in the pre-independence era, but, going by the prevaining situation, it is very obvious that some traitors in connivance with foreign forces are trying to break the country for their vested interests. Now, the major responsibility to maintain sovereignty and integrity of the nation lies with our brave soldiers and all of us should be prepared to sacrifice our lives to eliminate the menace of terrorism, which is posing a serious threat to the whole civilisation,” he added.

Later, he took salute from the passing-out recruits, in which 406 cadets participated. He awarded trophies to 18 soldiers for their outstanding performance in different fields during the year-long training programme. Mr Darpan Kumar of the Sports Battalion was adjudged the overall best cadet.


DC orders FIR in forgery case
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 30
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh K. Verma, has ordered the registration of criminal case against Surinder Singh, resident of the Bhularai road, Phagwara, Gurmel Singh resident of Sangatpur, Phagwara, Hansraj, Numberdar, and some other persons under Sections 419, 420, 468 and 471 read with Section 120B of the IPC.

Mr Verma stated that the three persons got three powers of attorney executed in favour of Gurmel Singh by impersonating three dead persons — Tej Kaur, Darshan Singh and Jit Singh and two persons living abroad namely Gurmit Singh and Ruldu Singh.

He said a complaint was made by Jarnail Singh on June 17 and the forgery came to the light when the Tehsildar, Phagwara conducted an inquiry into the complaint.

Mr Verma has suspended Hansraj who wrongly identified the dead persons and those living abroad before the Sub-Registrar, Phagwara, for the execution of the powers of attorney. He has been issued show cause notice for dismissal from the post.

Keeping in view a large number of forgery and cheating cases being reported from Phagwara, Mr Verma said he had written to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Kapurthala, to strengthen the Economic Offences Wing at Phagwara to promptly deal with such cases.


LeT militant taken to Batala
Our Correspondent

Khanna, June 30
Abdul a militant of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, a banned militant outfit was taken away by the Batala police on production warrant issued by the Senior Sub Judge Mr Munish Arora, for one day.

Abdul who was arrested by the Ludhiana police on June 19 was brought by the Khanna police for interrogation in Doraha train bomb blast in which three persons were killed. Earlier he was produced in the court of Mr Munish Arora on June 23 and the court sent him in police remand till June 30. He was grilled by several agencies, including the research and analysis wing, intelligence bureau, Pathankot police, Hoshiarpur police.

During interrogation he confessed his involvement in Doraha train bomb blast, two bomb blast cases in Hoshiarpur firing on Army camps in Kalu Chak. He was taken to the Hoshiarpur and Pathankot for further investigation and for the recovery of arms and ammunition.

Today he was produced in the court by the Khanna police late evening. Police took Abdul from the back entry to avoid questioning by scribes.

DSP Balbir Singh of Batala police requested the court to hand over Abdul to them. The court issued production warrant to take him to Batala for one day.


Volte face by govt over lift pumps
Our Correspondent

In yet another volte face, the state government has withdrawn orders to ban lift pumps which had been diverting 850 cusecs of canal water at the cost of villages located at the tail end.

The Irrigation Department had early this month disconnected 120 lift pumps allotted to SAD loyalists in the Muktsar, Malout and Lambi Assembly segments during the past five years. These pumps were allowed to farmers against the payment of Rs 40 per acre annually on the Sirhind feeder.

The department alleged that the farmers had violated the conditions of the agreement by installing motors of bigger HP than sanctioned, pumping out more than 850 cusecs instead of 250 cusecs. This caused a loss of lakhs to the department.

The Rajasthan government had repeatedly lodged protests with the then SAD-BJP government over the supply of less water than prescribed in the bilateral agreement. In this region too the farmers resented the non-availability of irrigation water at the tail end of sub-canals due to the lift pumps. The BKU and the BKS had organised demonstrations in this regard.

Upon the formation of the Congress government, Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, had drawn the attention of the higher authorities to the lift pumps even after the agreement had expired on March 31. Landlords had been pumping out additional water, besides free water by the previous government. This led to the removal of volvos from 120 lift pumps.

However, when DCC president Sajjan Kumar Jakhar contacted the irrigation authorities to express concern over the scarcity of water in a majority of villages, he was astonished to learn that the lift pumps had started operating again, allegedly under the orders passed by the Irrigation Minister.


PUDA plot transfer allowed till July 15
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, June 30
The Punjab Government has decided to extend the date for the transfer of plots and houses in the PUDA urban estates till July 15 on the payment of a transfer fee. The earlier deadline expired today.

It is reported that three local property dealers — Mr Karamjit Singh, president of the Mohali Property Dealers Association, Mr N.K. Marwah, founder president of the association, and Mr D.S. Benipal — met Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Housing and Development Minister, in this connection. They pleaded with the minister that in view of the summer vacation, many buyers and sellers of property had gone out of station. As such, there was delay in the finalisation of property deals. They sought a 30-day extension in the matter of transfer of property on the payment of the transfer fee.

However, according to Mr Marwah, the minister agreed to extend the date only till July 15

Under the new policy expected to take effect after July 15, applicants will be required to make full payment of the cost of the plot or house, execute a conveyance deed and get the registration done. Only then transfer will be allowed.


MC President’s arrest stayed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 30
The arrest of Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, MC President, who was booked in a case pertaining to the auction of a piece of land at a throwaway price, has been stayed until July 5 by the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr Karnail Singh.

Mr Bhullar along with former Executive Officer Bohr Singh and Tehsildar Anil Garg were booked by the police after they were found guilty in an inquiry conducted by Mr L.K. Yadav, SP (H).

The investigations had revealed that the auction of the land was not carried out properly and the signatures of an officer on some of the papers pertaining to the auction were taken after a considerable delay and some of the documents were fabricated.

Employees of the municipal council, contractors and revenue officials, however, claimed that the auction had been carried out in a fair manner.

Revenue officers of Faridkot division have threatened to launch an agitation if the ‘false” case was not withdrawn by July 2. They had earlier observed a two-day strike in protest against the registration of the case.

Mr Bhullar alleged that the case against him was politically motivated and claimed that the auction had been carried out in a transparent manner.


Owners ready to surrender sites
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 30
A section of the owners of milk booth sites located in the heart of the city, who have purchased the sites in an open auction, said today that they were ready to surrender their sites on which shops had been constructed, instead of facing criminal case registered against them, coupled with humiliation and harassment at the hands of the police without any fault of theirs.

A criminal case was registered against those who had purchased the sites in an open auction in April 2000 on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. A case under Sections 427 and 447 of the IPC was registered against them.

Further, the president, of the local municipal council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, a former Executive Officer, Mr Bohr Singh, and the Tehsildar, Mr Anil Kumar Garg, were booked in corruption and fraud case after they were found guilty in an inquiry conducted by the SP (H), Mr L.K. Yadav, into the allegations that the sites were auctioned at a throwaway prices.

Mr Yadav has now issued summons to the site owners to appear before him to join investigations into the case.

The site owners in a press note issued here today said they had purchased the sites in an open auction, which was widely publicised in local media as well as by putting wall posters on prominent places of the city. “We are ready to surrender our shops if the government pay us our purchase price of the land, the cost of construction and interest on the total amount. It would save us from the mental tension and the harassment we have been facing ever since we have purchased these sites,” said one of the site owners.

They claimed that the land was sold by an open auction that had been duly approved by the then authorities concerned and now the present government was treating the entire episode as a big scam. “If the trend of harassing innocent shop owners who had purchased small pieces of government land in an open auction for settling political scores by various political parties continued, nobody will come forward to purchase government land in future,” they said.

They alleged that some vested interests were trying to create panic among the shop owners and were misguiding public opinion also. They maintained that they had nothing to do with the alleged allotment of a piece of land at reserve price to one of the municipal councillors and the proceedings into that case.


Gen category staff rally in Chandigarh
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 30
Mr Prabhjit Singh, senior vice-president, Punjab State General Category Welfare Federation, addressing a meeting of the district unit of the federation here on Sunday exhorted the activists of the Federation to mobilise people, especially employees, to take part in the state-level rally to be held in Chandigarh on July 17 in protest against the “anti-employee” policies of the government.

He accused the Congress government of back-tracking from the pre-poll promises and said they would launch an agitation to force the government to withdraw the ‘anti-employees’ provision in the first Budget passed by the Capt Amarinder Singh’s government.

Moreover, the federation would fight against the proposed move of the Vajpayee government to include reservation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution and would urge the Centre to scrap the 85th constitutional amendment, which had virtually nullified the Supreme Court’s verdict given in the Janjua case to remove anomalies in the implementation of reservation police while giving promotions. The federation would also fight for providing reservation benefits on economic basis rather than caste basis, he added.

Mr Balbir Singh Pojewal, state vice-president, Dr Brij Mohan Barthwal, state press secretary, Mr Vijay Kumar Dutta, Dr H.S. Gupta (Nawanshahr), Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu (Bathinda), Mr Baljit Singh Somal (Fatehgarh Sahib), Mr Manohar Lal Sharma (Gurdaspur), Mr Darshan Singh (Moga), Mr Sajjan Singh Bath (Ropar), Mr Prem Kumar Beri (Muktsar), Mr Gurdip Singh (Jalandhar), Mr Shyam Sunder Sharma (Mansa), Mr Sukhbir Inder Singh (Faridkot), Mr Megh Raj Sharma (Sangrur), Mr Narinder Kumar Jindal (PSEB, Mohali) and Mr Bhajan Singh Khalsa (Thermal Plant, Ropar), among others also addressed the gathering.


Gurdev Badal’s daughter-in-law granted bail

Faridkot, June 30
A District and Sessions Court here has granted anticipatory bail to Paramjit Kaur, daughter-in-law of former Punjab Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal, in a case of cheating.

While granting bail to Paramjit Kaur yesterday, Judge, A.N. Jindal, directed her not to leave the country. The court also directed the accused not to try to influence anyone connected with the case.

The court said in case the accused was arrested by the police, she should be released on a bail bond of Rs 20,000. But the judge refused to grant bail to other three accused — Darshan Singh, Raj Singh and Dilbagh Singh.

It is alleged that Paramjit Kaur took a bribe of Rs 1 lakh from a dismissed cop for his reinstatement. UNI


Josh wanted “undue” favours
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
Mr Harbeant Singh, secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee today levelled serious charges against senior SGPC member Puran Singh Josh for helping “unscrupulous” contractors.

In a press release, issued here today, the SGPC secretary alleged that Mr Josh had been levelling ‘baseless charges’ of corruption against him. He alleged that Mr Josh started criticising the management of the SGPC when he failed to get ‘undue’ favour to the contractors of ‘barfi parsad’ at shaheedan gurdwara.


Harassed’ minor girl reunited with family
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 30
The minor girl who was brought from Phullanwala village (Ludhiana) here by a doctor family as a ‘maid’ on the condition of providing her good education fled from the house after she was harassed.

The harassed girl reached Golden Temple. When she did not disclose her address, the manager inserted an advertisement in newspapers. On reading the same the family of the harassed girl approached the Darbar Sahib manager who handed her over to the parents in presence of the police. The girl told that she was mentally tortured by the family who brought her here. It is learnt that the doctor had served in the SGPC-run Guru Ram Das Hospital till his retirement. The girl remained in the women’s ward of Guru Ram Das Serai for 20 days.


Abhijit rues dance sequences in Punjabi music
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 30
Filmfare Award winner playback singer, Abhijit is greatly upset at “tinkering” with original Punjabi music by people “out to make” albums a big hit at any cost and who are, even, throwing to winds the melody Punjabi music is known for all over.

“Let it be as it is. Please don’t touch its inherent originality,” Abhijit advises Punjabis, particularly composers and singers, in an exclusive interview with The Tribune. “It is sad that some people are trying to churn out hits at the cost of originality”, said an emotion-charged Abhijit, who recently won Filmfare Award for his songs in the film, “Yes Boss”.


Highway ambulance launched
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 30
The local Lion’s Club launched highway road ambulance here, today, in association with Asian Foundation for Help-London and Lion’s Club-Kingwary (London). The ambulance is meant for carrying patients of road accidents in the district.

Launching the ambulance in the division no. 2 police station of Moga, Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP said that few more ambulances would be launched with the help of NGOs. He stressed on observing of road safety rules to reduce accidents.

The President of the Lion’s Club, Mr H.K. Bansal, said that the ambulance would be equipped with the facilities of oxygen cylinder and first-aid box. A team of police especially constituted for this purpose would run the ambulance in case of emergency. They have already been trained in first-aid in the Moga civil hospital.


Directory released
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 30
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, here released the “Punjabi writers directory”, published by the State Languages Department. Edited by Mr Madan Lal Hasija, Director of the Languages Department, the directory offers brief biographies and works of Punjabi and Hindi writers of Punjab.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Hasija said that the directory had been designed in such a way as to benefit the common reader and research scholars. He also informed that the directory is available on the department’s website.


PTU launches ‘online virtual campus’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 30
Punjab Technical University has launched an innovative “online virtual campus” offering education through the online mode and the e-correspondence mode.

Launched in collaboration with Lovely International Trust, it is aimed at a global target audience offering them the choice of “studying anytime, anywhere”, at an affordable price in a multimedia enriched interactive learning environment.

Mr A.S. Grewal, Director Outreach, PTU, said in a press release here today that the online virtual campus starting from this academic session would offer courses in management, computer science and arts streams. “Online education will be the future of education in the coming era. So, we have taken the initiative to start it and we are the first university in India to have launched a project of this nature.

As the Government of India has permitted free trade in India, the market is going to be very competitive. It is essential to meet international standards in the latest technology and upgradation to survive and compete in the market.”

Among the courses to be offered through the online and e-correspondence modes are MBA, Masters Diploma in International Trade (MDIT), Masters Diploma in Computer Application (MDCA), MCA, MSc (computer science), B.Sc. (computer science), BBA and BA with eight options. The M. Tech and B. Tech programmes will be available only through the online mode.

Virtual campus give students, professionals, businessmen, executives, housewives, employees, defence personnel and retired people an opportunity to learn and get degrees and diplomas in their chosen field of study.

The online virtual campus would provide distance education through a widespread web of “learning network” consisting of learning centre, learning points, learning associates and learning consultants. The students enrolling for the courses would be given individual accounts for logging on to the PTU online network for gaining access to the learning material.

For the online mode, the learning centres would be equipped with high-quality infrstructure, local area network with multimedia PCs having broad bandwidth to enable the students to study online by logging on to as well as offline via CD-RoM containing the course curriculum. Interestingly, no faculty would be required for the online or e-correspondence courses. For e-correspondence courses, the university would provide printed course-ware, interactive course-ware and the e-mail facility for interaction with the faculty.


Parallel counselling by PTU upsets students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 30
Even as Punjab Technical University (PTU) announced the counselling schedule for admission to various engineering colleges yesterday, students are still resentful.

Pankaj Kumar, an engineering aspirant, talking to The Tribune said the PTU authorities would be conducting parallel counselling for students belonging to the reserved and the general category in the first round even though the number of students from the reserved category were fewer than the number of seats reserved for them.

He said the seats reserved for SC/ST students remained vacant and were later converted into general category seats. Thus, those belonging to general category were forced to attend the counselling twice.

Another student said entrance tests and competitive examinations had been reduced to means of making money for universities and institutes.

She pointed out that Guru Nanak Dev University authorities had prepared a waiting list of 65 students in each discipline against a total of 30 seats in each discipline. They had also charged Rs 2,000 from each student for having him on the list and thereby earned Rs 1.30 lakh as fee.

Meanwhile, a professor of a local engineering college, said seats in architecture, textile and civil engineering courses remained vacant in almost all engineering colleges of the state.

He admitted if the counselling of students belonging to the reserved category was held before the counselling of general category students, the students would not be inconvenienced.


Move to ‘close’ college resented
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 30
Expressing concern over the ‘closure’ of the only college for boys in holy city, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, former BJP MLA, today in a press statement said that the government had declared neither the closure of the college nor had it given admissions to the new students even as the last date of the admissions had passed.

Due to uncertainty over the closure of the college hundreds of students who came for the admissions in the college had to return disappointed.

She said it was the moral responsibility of the government to see to it that the students, belonging to the poor section of the society, completed the degrees studying in the college.

These poor students are forced to leave their studies due to the poor financial conditions of the family.

She further said if the government could not provide the infrastructure to the college such as buildings, the college could be run in buildings of the schools which remained closed afternoon.

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