Thursday, July 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Row over photo showing Badal ‘performing havan’
Varinder walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
With the convincing victory of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and the rout of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) elections, the issues of ‘real jathedar’ and ‘real Akali Dal’ have again cropped up.

Ever since his unceremonious removal in 1999 Bhai Ranjit Singh continued to claim that he was the ‘real jathedar’ and would take the charge at an appropriate time. After the formation of the SHSAD, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra claimed that his faction was the real Akali Dal.

However, after the DSGMC elections the issues of real jathedar and real Akali Dal were being debated hotly.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former Akali minister, and Mr Harminder Singh Gill, president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, said that it was proved beyond doubt that Bhai Ranjit Singh was the ‘real jathedar’ and the SHSAD was the real Akali Dal. They said the Sikh sangat had openly come against the ‘anti-panthic’, policies of Mr Badal, who had lost no opportunity to denigrate Akal Takht.

Raking up a fresh controversy Mr Gill released a file photograph of Mr Parkash Singh Badal performing ‘havan’ in the presence of Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee in gross violation of the Sikh traditions. Appreciating Akal Takht and the SGPC for catching Narinder Pal Singh while indulging in exorcism. Mr Gill said same treatment should be meted out to Mr Badal. He alleged that the Jathedar Akal Takht and office- bearers of the SGPC had caught a low ranking official while they had been ignoring the ‘anti-panthic’ acts of Mr Badal and his associates.

Mr Gill said that after the SHSAD victory in the DSGMC elections, a no confidence move would be initiated against Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC. He said that Mr Badungar had close links with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, who was excommunicated from the Sikh panth. The SHSAD and the AISSF would launch a movement to reinstall Bhai Ranjit Singh as the Jathedar of Akal Takht, he added.

On the other hand, Mr Calcutta claimed that many members of the SGPC, belonging to the SAD were in touch with the SHSAD and Mr Badungar could be removed any time by bringing a no confidence motion against him.


Ranjit Singh, Sarna refuse to bury hatchet
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) is trying for a rapprochement between Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Akal Takht and Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, President Delhi unit of the SHSAD and former Chief of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC). Differences between Bhai Ranjit Singh and Mr Sarna cropped up over the allocation of party ticket before the DSGMC elections.

It may be mentioned here that out of total 46 candidates, at least six supporters of Bhai Ranjit Singh won the elections.

Though Mr Sarna is in a comfortable position to become the next President of the DSGMC (even without the support of Bhai Ranjit Singh ) yet Mr Tohra wants to ensure the support of former Jathedar. However, Bhai Ranjit Singh said he would announce support of Mr Sarna only after consulting his supporters. Bhai Ranjit Singh had levelled serious charges against Mr Sarna also. However, when contacted Mr Sarna said he did not want say any thing against Bhai Ranjit Singh and had always held him in high esteem. He said Mr Tohra was already making efforts to persuade Bhai Ranjit Singh to sort out the matter.


CJ wants Bhatnagar to ‘remain available’
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Holding it as a prerogative of the state government to post any officer anywhere, the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice A.B. Saharya, had reportedly wanted that members of the inquiry committee — Mr A.P. Bhatnagar and Mr Chandersekhar — should remain available to him till completion of their work.

This was conveyed to the government after the Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, went to him to obtain his consent before the transfer of four senior officers of the Intelligence wing last week.

The decision of the government to seek an explanation from Mr Bhatnagar, say sources in the government, may lead to complications as the entire controversy revolves around the inquiry being conducted by him at the instance of the Chief Justice.

Inquiries reveal that idea to obtain the consent of the Chief Justice was an afterthought as while taking the decision to revamp the Intelligence wing had been taken by the Home Department even without consulting the Chief Secretary.

The Chief Secretary, the sources reveal, came to know of this decision through newsmen. He reportedly conveyed his “displeasure” to the Chief Minister over the manner in which transfers were being ordered. The Chief Minister reportedly tried to pacify him and called him to Patiala. Realising the gravity of the situation, it was decided that since Mr A.P. Bhatnagar was a member of the two-member inquiry committee appointed by the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana Court to probe whether there was anything against any senior member of the judiciary in the “recruitment scam”. It was at that stage that the Advocate-General was asked to approach the Chief Justice for obtaining his consent.

Further, at a meeting of senior officials of the government held yesterday at the residence of the Chief Minister, it was decided to seek an explanation from the ADGP (Security), Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, about his interview to a local daily.

“The letter to be issued to Mr Bhatnagar is yet to be vetted,” say sources in the government describing as “mere speculation” the news reports that the government has decided to chargesheet Mr Bhatnagar.

“There is no question of that. In fact, the All-India Civil Service Rules does not give the state such powers to chargesheet someone belonging to all-India service,” remarked a senior functionary of the state administration holding that the “unsavoury controversy involving the Vigilance and Intelligence wings” of the police could have been resolved in a peaceful manner.

When contacted, the Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, stated that he was not present at the meeting where the decision to seek explanation from Mr Bhatnagar over his newspaper interview was taken.

He reiterated that even preliminary discussion on the one-man inquiry commission had not been held. “I am not aware of any panel. The issue of panel will come up only after peliminary discussions are held with the Chief Minister, the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary. No such meeting on the subject has been held so far. I do not think that there is anything coming up on this issue in the immediate future,” he added.


Bhatnagar heads probe panel
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 3
A team of officials of the Punjab Education Department headed by the Education Secretary, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, will be inquiring into the Punjab School Education Board text book scam. 


Panthic meet mooted to replace Badal
Tribune News Service

Mr G.S. Tohra claimed that Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, a member of the Rajya Sabha, had joined his camp. Mr Libra had severed his political relations with the SAD (Badal). Mr Tohra said his party would support Capt Lakshmi Sahgal in the presidential election. The party has votes of two members of the Rajya Sabha and one MLA, he claimed.

Chandigarh, July 3
Elated at his faction’s impressive victory and the defeat of Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s party in the elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra said here today that it was a beginning of the end of Mr Badal’s political career.

In the SGPC elections too, Mr Badal would face the similar fate, Mr Tohra asserted.

Mr Tohra said a panthic convention of all Akali factions would be called in August-end or the first week of September to elect a new leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal in place of Mr Badal. The convention would be held under a committee of eminent Sikh scholars. All Akali leaders except Mr Badal would be invited to the convention.

Using his official power, Mr Badal had captured all Sikh institutions like Akal Takht, SGPC, SAD and DSGMC but now after losing power he was facing the wrath of Sikhs, Mr Tohra said. He alleged that Mr Badal used the SGPC money for political purposes in the Majitha and Malout areas.

Mr Badal, Mr Tohra claimed, was creating problems in the holding of the SGPC elections which had already been delayed. The elections should be held at the earliest with the right to vote for only such Sikhs as observe all Sikh tenets.

All sorts of malpractices, Mr Tohra alleged, were used by Mr Badal’s men in the Delhi elections. Even liquor was distributed. Mr Badal had ruined all Sikh institutions systematically by using these to serve his political ends. He exploited religion first to attain political power and then to retain it, Mr Tohra said.


Councillors threaten stir over MC chief’s election
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, July 3
The stage is set for a showdown in the historic town after 14 councillors declared here today that they would take to the streets if the Punjab Government failed to annul the election of the municipal committee President where only councillors owing allegiance to the local MLA, Mrs Razia Sultan, were allowed to vote. The MLA denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the voting was held in a free and fair manner.

The aggrieved councillors alleged that they were prevented from exercising their franchise” allegedly at the behest of Ludhiana Range DIG Mohammad Mustafa, the MLA’s husband.

They charged the officer with “ “terrorising those who did not fall into line” and in this context revealed that one of the councillors, Mr Abdul Wahid Aziz, was allegedly attacked by a person with a sharp-edged weapon known for his proximity to the officer. The police was yet to register a case even though an enquiry was marked by the Patiala Range DIG Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota in May. Mr Aziz represents ward No. 26.

The councillors told TNS that they would follow provisions of the Municipal Act but would not be cowed down by the “police raaj” in the town. Our supporters and friends are being harassed and forced to abandon us. Affirming this, Mr Arshad Dolly, youngest brother-in-law of the officer, said he too” was staying in Chandigarh nowadays since he feared for his life from the officer. All policemen in this area have been asked to harass me on one pretext or the other. Fed up with his dictatorial attitude, I am writing to the Punjab DGP for police protection,” he revealed.

Mrs Aashia claims that a burqa-clad lady voted in her place and signed on the attendance register paving the way for the election of Mr Faqir Mohammad as the president. “Everyone knows that I have not worn a burqa ever since I got elected. I want justice to be done and have urged the Principal Secretary, Local Government, to get the matter investigated at the highest level and declare the election as null and void,” she stressed.

It has been alleged that in a house of 26, the MLA enjoys the support of only 12 councillors. Since 14 of them were not allowed inside, the vote of the burqa-clad woman was key to fulfil the quorum and win the election. The deciding vote was cast by the MLA herself.

“I have been receiving threats to retract my statement. Unknown people have been coming to me and saying I would face the consequences of my action since the election would in any case be notified in a day or two. They boasted that everything had been fixed at the highest level,” she added.

Mr Mohammad Ismail, who presided over the poll, claimed that the voting was held in a free and fair atmosphere. He, however, could not give a satisfactory reply to whether the identity cards of the members were checked before the polling began. He also ducked questions regarding their groups strength before the poll. “All that matters is that we have won and will take up the matter with the government”, he added He said any further queries should be addressed to the MLA.

Talking on the phone from Chandigarh, Mrs Razia Sultan, MLA, dismissed the allegations as “a pack of lies”. “The allegations levelled against me and my husband are a figment of their imagination. They have lost and this fact has not been digested by them. As for my husband, he never sent any cops to Malerkotla to prevent others from voting. Infact, he was away to Dehra Dun that day in connection with the admission of our children,” she claimed.

She said that she could not recall whether there were burqa-clad woman who voted that day.

The Executive Officer of the committee, Mr Nazar Singh, too claimed that no one was prevented from voting. He said that he had so far received no complaint from the aggrieved councillors.

Following this development, all developmental activity had come to a standstill. Committee officers too were staying away till the crisis was over, sources informed.

Meanwhile, Mr Dev Raj Verma, Secretary, CPM, has condemned the alleged high handedness of the MLA and her police officer husband.


Letter ‘exposes’ minister’s kin
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 3
The issue of corruption charges against Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD minister and his brother Mr Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa levelled by a liquor vendor, Mr Sanjiv Malhan, alias Babloo, who is also a Congress worker, took a new turn with Mr Malhan producing a letter allegedly written by Mr Fateh Singh Bajwa to his business employees regarding giving of vends to Babloo.

The letter on the official letter head of the Punjab Civil Secretariat, dated March 31 a copy of which is with The Tribune, establishes the alleged connection of Mr Fateh Bajwa and Mr Malhan.

It reads “Dear Tita/Piara Lal (alleged business employees of Fateh Singh Bajwa) as decided in the interest of the group, I request you to please give the following vends to Babloo”. The vends named are Harchowaal, Mari Panuan, Dhariwal Sohia and Panj Graiya. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had highlighted the graft charges against Mr Bajwa and his kin.

He had brought Mr Sanjiv Malhan in full media glare in Chandigarh last month where Mr Malhan had admitted to having paid bribe of Rs 5 lakh to Fateh Singh Bajwa for letting him continue his liquor business out of the alleged bribe deal settled at Rs 30 lakh.

Mr Malhan who claimed himself to be an active Congress worker for the past 14-15 years had confessed to have given nearly 400 cases of liquor for Bajwa’s Assembly poll campaign this time. He also claimed to have issued a number of advertisements in newspapers supporting Mr Fateh Singh during the poll at the time.

However, Mr Fateh Singh Bajwa had reportedly denied his association with Mr Babloo then.

Undeterred by the political clout of the minister Mr Sanjiv Malhan has written to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President, Congress, highlighting the matter. He has demanded that security be provided to him as he apprehends threat to his life and family by the minister’s henchmen due to his sensational revelations about the “misdeeds” of the two. He said he would be meeting Mrs Gandhi in Delhi tomorrow.

This is the first instance of a Congress worker alleging corruption by its own minister in the newly elected government in the state.

Mr Babloo has also written to the Central Vigilance Bureau, the Chief Justice, Punjab and Haryana High Court and the CBI to probe the matter of alleged illegal liquor vends running in Batala, Gurdaspur, Hargobindpur, Quadian, Pathankot under political patronage. Mr Fateh Singh Bajwa was not available for comments.


Punjab Roadways incurring Rs 3 cr loss each month
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 3
Punjab Roadways is incurring a monthly loss of Rs 3 crore for its failure to purchase new buses to complete its fleet of 2,407 buses for the past five years. With a whopping Rs 96 crore per annum loss to its credit, it has topped the list of those public sector undertakings for which the state government has decided to seek private partners.

Though 18 bus depots of Punjab Roadways have 2,407 buses as per the official records, but only 1,710 buses are presently running the show since 697 buses have already been declared unusable by technical experts.

According to departmental sources the Punjab roadways buses are unable to cover about 29 lakh km of the scheduled distance in a month as about 700 buses are off the roads for the past 3 years, thus, causing a loss of Rs 3 crore in a month.

Even as the Punjab Roadways buses were supposed to cover about 1.56 crore km of the scheduled distance per month, its business was severely hit due to shortage of buses resulting in the coverage of only 1.27 crore km thus paving the way for private transporters who are plying buses “illegally” on routes not presently covered by Punjab Roadways.

Some private transporters have been found plying buses “illegally” on some of the monopoly routes like Amritsar-Jalandhar and Amritsar-Ludhiana for which no permit was given to any private transporter. The Vigilance Bureau had recently impounded some private buses being plied on the Amritsar-Jalandhar route for violation of the transport policy of the state government.

According to technical experts, the state government was not concerned about the safety of passengers since the present working fleet of 1,710 buses had already completed its life by covering the prescribed kilometers and were vulnerable to accidents, thus, putting the life of the passengers at stake.

The sources further maintained that the Punjab government had not purchased a single bus during the past five years and even the PUN buses purchased about five years ago were not safe enough to travel.

Interestingly, the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had assured the employees in September last year, that the fleet of 2,407 buses would be completed soon, but it proved nothing but a ploy to appease the agitating employees with no new bus being added to the fleet during his tenure.

The experts were of the opinion that if the requisite fleet of 2,407 buses could be maintained by the government in the present context, the state-run transport system could easily garner maximum profits to come out of the red. The sources further maintained that the failure to check “illegal” operation of buses by private transporters and to get released Rs 220 crore from other government departments in lieu of the facility of subsidised fare to their employees had caused a whopping loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 324 crore during the past five years of the SAD-BJP rule.

Another reason for incurring loss, pointed by independent experts was the widespread corruption at all levels in Punjab Roadways. The unearthing of several scams involving the purchase of substandard material including the Rs 4 crore tyre-tube scam, Rs 32 lakh wooden slabs and sale of fake tickets by some conductors had badly shaken the credibility of the department.

While the new Congress government in state has decided to go in for privatisation of the Punjab Roadways, putting all speculations of its revival to the rest, the joint action committee of the Punjab Roadways employees has decided to intensify the stir against the government decision.


Akali Dal (Amritsar) to vote for Captain Sahgal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 3
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) will vote for and support Captain Laxmi Sahgal in the ensuing Presidential election. Declaring this here today, SAD(A) president and Lok Sabha member Simranjit Singh Mann said his party could not support APJ Abdul Kalam as he had used his genius for the destruction of mankind. Besides, Mr Kalam had been fielded by the BJP-Congress combine for the Presidential office and our party could not stand this combine which was responsible for Operation Bluestar and killed Sikhs, continued Mr Mann. The party, therefore, had decided to support a progressive candidate Captain Sahgal, quipped Mr Mann.

He described as dangerous the capture of the DSGMC by “Tohra men supported by the Congress. The two big national parties, the Congress and the BJP, had hatched a conspiracy jointly” to eat up Akalis in the way as big fish swallows the small fish, maintained Mr Mann. Jathedar G.S. Tohra the SHSAD President, had already gone the Congress way as SAD(B) President P.S. Badal had gone the BJP way, he continued.

The BJP through Badal had sway over the SGPC and now the Congress through Tohra had control over the DSGMC, said Mr Mann. Both parties had divided the Akali Dal between themselves, he said. He cautioned that Delhi results would affect the voting pattern in coming SGPC polls, Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab CM was helping Jathedar Tohra and the Congress had enrolled its workers as voters for the SGPC, claimed Mr Mann.

However, “my party” would go it alone in the SGPC polls and expected Panth and Sikh voters to vote and support for my party which was the real Akali Dal espousing principles of the Akali Dal which was founded in 1925, added Mr Mann.


YC activists to gherao Parliament
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 3
Activists of the All-India Youth Congress will gherao Parliament at the start of monsoon session on July 15 in protest against the communal and anti-youth policies of the BJP. This was stated by Mr Davinder Singh Baboo, President, Punjab Youth Congress, while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Baboo said that more than 10 crore youths were unemployed in the country and the NDA government headed by the BJP did nothing to provide employment to them. Moreover, various self-employment schemes introduced by the former Congress governments had been made ineffective causing frustration to unemployed youths. A meeting of presidents of the Youth Congress would be held on July 16 to chalk out further strategy, he added.

He said that the Punjab Youth Congress had launched a campaign from Jalandhar against drug abuse on July 1. All districts of Punjab would be covered during the campaign, he added.


NCP welcomes anti-graft drive
Our Correspondent

Mansa July 3
Mr Swaran Singh, state unit president of the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), has ruled out the merger of his party with the Congress.

Talking to mediapersons here today, he welcomed the campaign launched by the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, against corruption. He said the government should not be vindictive towards any person. He demanded action against corrupt politicians, including the Congressmen. He described the Punjab budget as anti-people and said his party would oppose it.

He announced the appointment of Mr Gora Lal Bajewala as general secretary of the state unit of the NCP and Mr Madan Lal Garg as president of the Mansa unit.


Left parties to hold joint convention
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 3
Four Left parties of Punjab namely the Marxist Communist Party of India (MCPI), the CPM (Pasha group), the CPI(ML) Liberation and the All-India Forward Bloc will hold a joint convention on July 6 in Jalandhar to oppose the recently-tabled Punjab Budget and to call upon the people to start an agitation in a phased manner.

At a meeting of the four Left parties organised here today, all parties unanimously opposed the Budget proposals. The members of the parties stressed that the freezing of the DA, stopping the LTC facilities and proposal to withdraw other benefits given to the employees will prove detrimental to the interests of the employees. Polit Bureau member of the MCPI, Mr Prem Singh Bangu, said the parties would soon launch an organised struggle in Punjab against the anti-people measures of the state government.


SAD PAC meeting on July 7
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal has called a meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the party on July 7 at Kalgidhar Nivas here.

The PAC meeting will be followed by another meeting of the Presidents of the district units of the party, according to Mr Iqbal Singh Tiwana, Secretary of the SAD.


Probe into PSSSB selections demanded
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 3
Many candidates who had appeared in the tests conducted by the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB) Punjab during the time when doubtful selections were made by the PPSC have urged the authorities to probe the selections made by the board.

Mr Harinder Pal Singh, who had appeared in the test for the appointment of Junior Engineer (Civil) conducted by the PSSSB, in a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister and other senior officials, alleged that these selections were not based on merit. He alleged that money had changed hands and a thorough probe could unearth a big scam in the PSSSB also.

Showing documents supporting his allegations he said that these vacancies were advertised in March, 1997, the test was held in November 1998. The result was declared after three years after the test on November 17, 2001, which shows delay had been caused to influence outcome of the result. The PSSSB interviewed those who had been declared successful in the test from November 24, 2001, but the result of the interview was declared after a delay about one year, on December 11, 2002, just 15 days before the election code of conduct came into force before the state Assembly elections, he added.

Alleging that certain roll numbers were “added” to the selection lists, he said that roll number 3901987 did not figure in the selection list announced on November 17, 2001, but was mentioned in the waiting list announced after the interviews. He claimed that no clarification was issued by the PSSSB. Stating that the candidate with the above roll number was in the waiting list. He added that the roll number 3901117 was also added to the selection list after announcing a clarification and the same roll number also finds mention in the final selection list.

He alleged that if the marks of the recruitment test were not to be considered for appointment what was the need for it. He claimed that candidates expecting decent scores in the test were ignored by the PSSSB simply by stating that the marks obtained in the recruitment test would not be considered in the interviews. He claimed that out of the 100 points for selection the interviews had 25 points, but the PSSSB authorities awarded high marks to favour some candidates.

No formal probe had been ordered by the state government into the alleged unfair selections by the PSSSB even as the complaints regarding corruption into the selection of panchayat secretaries, Junior Engineer (Civil), excise and taxation inspectors, audit inspectors, BAMS medical officers and many other vacancies filled by the board had been made repeatedly in a section of the Press.


PPSC scam: police remand for 2 teachers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 3
A local court today remanded two teachers, arrested by the Vigilance Department yesterday on charges of indulging in biased marking of answer sheets of examinations of the PCS (Executive) and PCS (Judicial) at the behest of suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinderpaul Singh Sidhu, in police custody for a day.

The teachers — Prof Gurpal Singh of the Department of Law in Punjabi University, and Dr Jagdish Kalra, Reader in the Department of Correspodence Studies of Panjab University, were produced in the court of Judicial Magistrate A.K. Aggarwal today.

The prosecution earlier asked for a three-day police remand for the accused. It argued that it was still to be verified from the accused as to how question papers were fudged for the favourite few. He alleged that only upon the interrogation of the accused would the entire modus operandi would be revealed.

The prosecution also alleged that overwriting was also done in case of some examination sheets and that it also wanted to investigate how the entire process was carried with regard to involvement of any transaction of money in the case. The defence pleaded that the teachers had been examining answer sheets since long and had a blemish-free record. It also pleaded that the accused were not part of any conspiracy along with the suspended PPSC Chairman.

The Vigilance Department also filed a separate application in the court requesting that the specimens of the hand writing of the accused be provided to it. The accused will be produced in the court of Mr A.K. Aggarwal again tomorrow.


PA of school board vice-chief remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 3
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Amar Singh PA of the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday in connection with recruitment of 134 clerks in the board, in police custody till July 8 and ordered that he should be produced in the court on that day.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn public prosecuter and Mr Gurmakh Singh, DSP, Vigilance, appeared in the court and pleaded for 14-day police remand of the accused.

Mr Punn said the accused had been arrested in connection with the case registered against Mr Tota Singh, former Education Minister, by the Vigilance. He said Amar Singh had been appointed convener of the committee formed to take typing test of the candidates. The tests were conducted from December 23, 2001 to January 3, 2002. After taking the test the answer-sheets were sealed and sent to examiners.

According to Mr Punn, when the answer-sheets reached the examiners, seals were not found intact. He said the Vigilance had recorded statements of two examiners Om Parkash and Harpal Singh in this connection. It was found that fake signatures of the Deputy Secretary were taken on about 31 answer-sheets and of these 16 candidates were found to be selected in the board. He alleged that the accused had replaced original answer sheets with the newones.

He said information was yet to be collected from the accused about the person who had forged the signatures of the Deputy Secretary and about others involved in the scam. He said it was found that 31 sheets had been typed on the same typewriter.

The defence counsel on the other hand refuted the charges of the prosecution and said a false case had been registered against him.


Remand of Tota Singh extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 3
Judicial remand of Jathedar Tota Singh, former Punjab Education Minister and senior Akali leader, was extended today till July 9 by Sessions Judge, J.S. Khushdil, in a case of corruption registered against him at Mohali. He was produced in the court after the expiry of his earlier judicial remand today.

Bail application of Tota Singh also came up for hearing today. On the bail plea of Tota Singh, the Sessions Judge ordered that bail plea be put up before the Special Judge, Ropar, on July 9.


Punjab told to pay Rs 1 lakh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
In less than eight years after a Special Police Officer, acting as a decoy customer for apprehending drug peddlers, was beaten to death, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the state of Punjab to pay Rs 1 lakh as compensation to the victim’s father within six months of receiving the order’s copy.

Seeking the grant of Rs 5 lakh as compensation, Gian Singh of Tarn Taran had earlier claimed that the state was liable to make the payment for his son’s death as the victim, along with another person, was directed to pose as customers for purchasing poppy husk.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioner had claimed that the police had initially received secret information regarding the arrival of a truck carrying poppy husk in Sichowal village following which his son and another person were asked to act as customers. The victim was, however, beaten to death by the villagers even though he was not at fault.

His counsel had claimed that the police, on the other hand, had registered an FIR claiming that secret information was received by the police regarding the presence of two thieves. Upon his arrival, an Assistant Sub Inspector discovered that certain unidentified persons were beating the SPO, it was added.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Justice Goel ruled: “Deceased Harjinder Singh was alleged to have been killed on August 17, 1994. It is also alleged that he was deputed on official duty as SPO. Inquiry was conducted by the Central Bureau of Investigation. Report was submitted recommending the prosecution of certain persons and departmental action against ASI Kulwinder Singh. Follow-up action was ordered to be taken, which is accordingly being taken”.

The Judge concluded: “Having regards to the facts and circumstances of the case and without causing prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties and without expressing any opinion on the merits of the case, the state of Punjab is directed to pay compensation of Rs 1 lakh to the petitioner within six months from date of receiving a copy of the order”.

Notice of motion

First it was the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam. Now a Chandigarh resident has filed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court claiming that the results of HCS (Executive) and Allied Service Examination of 1998 had been wrongly prepared to help “chosen” candidates.

In her petition seeking the quashing of the tests, besides directions for the production of her answer sheets, Jyotsna Singh had earlier alleged that the candidates selected were closely related either to the Commission members or with political and bureaucratic top brass. She had even mentioned the names and roll numbers of nine candidates along with the details of their relatives.

Referring to a report carried in these columns, she had submitted that MLA Karan Singh Dalal had released a list of candidates likely to be selected even if given low marks in the interview. Mr Dalal, the petitioner had claimed, had alleged that the influential candidates had been deliberately given high marks “in total disregard of the rules”.

Appearing in person before a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice H.S. Bedi and Mr Justice Viney Mittal, she had added that secret codes or roll numbers had not been assigned to the answer sheets. Taking up the case, the Judges observed that serious allegations had been levelled in a paragraph of the writ petition (regarding non-assignment of secret codes). The Judges also issued notice of motion for July 22 asking the respondents to file a reply only in regard to the allegations.

Records sought

A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday directed the Indian Oil Corporation to produce the record, including the criterion for giving marks regarding the allotment of a petrol pump at Badali Alla Singh in Fatehgarh Sahib. The allocation was made by the Dealer Selection Board.

In her petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice Varinder Singh, Ms Saroj Devi of Mandi Gobindgarh had alleged that the allotment was not made as per the rules and as such was liable to be set aside. Arguing on her behalf, Mr Mohan Jain and Mr Raksesh Aggarwal had submitted that the allottee had furnished wrong information. She had mentioned her parental address in spite of the fact that she was married to an Army personnel.


Truckers threaten suicide
Bikaner fire sufferers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 3
A few transporters, whose trucks were hired by the Army through the district administration from this city and surrounding areas and which were destroyed in a fire that broke out near Bikaner on January 11, 2002 while carrying ammunition to various destinations, today, threatened suicide if the authorities failed to pay them compensation for the damaged vehicles.

Fed up with apathetic attitude of the Army and district authorities concerned a section of affected truck owners thought of suicide in front of the Parliament House. They are feeling humiliated and harassed as the authorities concerned have not been hearing their woes despite several visits to the cantonment here and Army authorities at Chandigarh.

Mr Shavinder Singh, Chairman, the Truck Operators Sufferers Action Committee, pointed out that the transporters whose entire fleet of vehicles was damaged in the fire had been left with no choice but to commit suicide as the authorities concerned had been delaying compensation to them. He added that nearly six months had passed since the tragedy took place, the authorities concerned had not so far processed compensation to the affected persons.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that nearly 161 trucks hired by Army authorities from Bathinda, Goniana, Bhucho, Jaito, Mansa, Rampura and other towns of this region, were damaged in the fire. Most of the truck owners had been without work after that incident. They had also further employed two persons on every vehicle.

Sarbjit Singh a resident of Goniana Mandi, 15 km from here, Sanjay, a truck operator from this town and many others, who had employed two persons, one as driver and the second as cleaner on every vehicle have been thinking of leaving here and look for a job to keep the home fire burning as they have been rendered without work after their trucks were destroyed at Udasar near Bikaner in Rajasthan while on military duty.

The affected truck operators had approached Prime Minister, Atal Behari Vajpayee, Union Defence Minister, George Fernandes, Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, AICC president and Ms Sonia Gandhi for help.

Mr Bhushan Kumar, president, The Goniana Truck Operator’s Union, pointed out that most of those, whose trucks had been burnt had become paupers and the companies which financed the vehicles, had been pressing them to repay instalments of the loan.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, when contacted, said that the district administration had taken up the matter of compensation to truck operators several times.


Man cries foul in wife’s ‘murder’ case
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Dhalleke (Moga), July 3
The death of a woman who was buried alive under bags of wheat stored at an open plinth at Dhalleke village on June 15 has put up a question mark on the investigations that were conducted immediately after the incident.

The police found no one guilty and the incident was made to be an accident.

In a letter written to the Chief Minister of Punjab Shinder Singh, husband of the deceased and his son Rajinder Singh has demanded a proper inquiry into the incident. They alleged that the deceased was raped before being buried alive under the bags of wheat.

It is worth mentioning that Naseeb Kaur and one of her relatives Mukhtiar Kaur, wife of Mukand Singh, had gone to work as daily-wagers at the plinth (rented out to Markfed by Bakhtwar Singh) just outside their village in the afternoon and was supposed to return by evening. But she never returned.

At around 10 p.m. they got the information of her death. When Shinder Singh and his son rushed to the spot they found her buried under bags of wheat. Mukhtiar Kaur was crying for help, who was also buried under the bags of wheat. She was immediately pulled out and was taken to the hospital in a critical condition.

When contacted, Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Moga, told TNS that it was a case of accident. Proper medical check-up and post-mortem examination was conducted and there were no signs of rape as per the report, he added. Hence, the case was registered under Section 174 of the IPC. The police statement was recorded in the presence of the Sarpanch of the village, Markfed officials and the security guards posted at the plinth.

Eyewitnesses stated that the two were often found stealing wheat. According to one version of the incident, on the tragic evening they allegedly tried to steal wheat from a bag at the bottom of the stack of bags. When the bottom bags got loosened, the upper bags fell on them.

In her complaint to the Chief Minister Mukhtiar Kaur has, however, alleged that there was an attempt to rape and murder her but luckily she survived with serious injuries. She has stated that Naseeb Kaur was raped by Lal Singh, Sewak Singh of Baghapurana, Darshan Singh of Daroli village and Bhajan Singh before being murdered and buried under the wheat bags.

When contacted, Mukhtiar Kaur said an attempt was also made to rape her but she was brutally beaten up and forcibly buried under the wheat bags.

On the other hand, when contacted, Mr D.K. Sahi, holding the additional charge as District Manager of Markfed told TNS that as per the versions recorded by the police in his presence it appeared to be an accident. However, he declined to comment on whether the victim was working at the plinth as a daily-wager. Moreover, no departmental action has been taken against the watchman who was present during the time of the incident.

No notice has been issued to the security agency hired for protecting the plinth site. This raises doubts on the nature of the investigation.

Meanwhile, the SSP admitted that he was looking into the matter.


MC employees stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 3
Employees of the local municipal corporation (MC) today staged a dharna against the seizure of official records of the building branch by the district police authorities on Monday. The police has been investigating the case pertaining to 2,024 files, which were found missing from the official records during a raid conducted by the vigilance wing of the Local Bodies Department last month.

The employees, during the second day of the agitation, raised anti-police slogans and alleged that they were being harassed by the police.

They alleged that though the employees were ready to cooperate with the investigating team, yet the police officials had been using wrong methods to unveil the truth.

The district police had registered a case following a communication from the Secretary, Local Bodies department, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, that 2,024 files pertaining to the builders, who had violated building bylaws during the past five years, were found missing from the records by the vigilance wing.

According to information, though the MC officials had issued legal notices to the defaulters, who had raised buildings like commercial complex, hotels and educational institutions in violation of the building bylaws during the past five years but no serious effort was made either to realise the composition fee running into crores of rupees or to demolish the illegal structures, forcing the Local Bodies department to handover the case to the district police.


Forest Dept staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 3
Employees of the Punjab Forest Department on the call of the Punjab Non-Gazetted Forest Officers’ Union held a rally at Sirhind today, hometown of Forest Minister Dr Harbans Lal to protest against the anti-employee attitude of Swarn Singh, Forest Officer Bist Jalandhar circle. They demanded transfer of the officials and criticised the minister allegedly for protecting the officials. They also criticised the Minister for ignoring the interests of the department and the employees.

Black flag march in the town and dharna in front of the residence of the minister was postponed after an assurance by Mr Sunil Puri, office-secretary of the Minister that the demands would be met in the week.

They threatened to gherao the residence of the minister and the Chief Minister, if the demands were not met.

Addressing the rally Mr Jagdeep Singh Dhillon, president of the union, said that the minister in spite of repeated requests and reminders for the past four months had not taken any action or even transferred Swarn Singh from Jalandhar. They alleged that Swarn Singh was anti-employee and several employees had committed suicide due to his mental torture. They said that they had already submitted a 13-point charter of demands to the minister but he had not been paying heed. He said that 150 posts of forest guard and 162 posts of Japan project were lying vacant and there is 33 per cent shortage of staff in the department. They demanded that seniority should be implemented in the department as done in the Education Department. He said seniors were working as subordinates of their juniors. They alleged that money played a role through “touts” in transfers of officials of the department. They said that no financial implication was involved in the acceptance of demands. These are only administrative changes for the benefit of the department.

Mr Balbir Singh Dhillon, Mr Iqbal Singh and other office-bearers also addressed the rally.


Cong men stage dharna against police ‘inaction’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 3
Agitating residents and Congress workers of ward no. 12 sat on dharna at the Kishanpura chowk here and blocked traffic for about three hours in protest against the failure of the district police to arrest those who had attempted to murder a Congress councillor, Mr Bal Kishan Bali, at his office on July 1.

The residents alleged that the police was trying to shield the accused as no serious effort has been made to arrest the accused so far. They raised anti-police slogans. They further alleged that the family of the councillor had been receiving threat calls from the alleged accused, Jaswinder Singh of Kishanpura locality, asking them not to pursue the case.

“The police has only registered a case of attempt to murder. In fact, the police is trying to shield the accused by not arresting them and allowing them enough time to seek anticipatory bail from the court,” Mr Pritam Singh, a resident of Santokhpura, alleged.

Meanwhile, the relatives of Jaswinder Singh, alleged that despite repeated requests to register a case the police had deliberately failed to do so under the pressure of the Congress councillor. “There cannot be two set of rules. Why the police is hesitating from registering an FIR against the son of the councillor for attacking and injuring my father and mother? asked Jaswinder.

The dharna was lifted following an assurance by the DSP concerned that the accused would be arrested soon.


More youth take to smack
Tribune News Service

Manjit Chawla (name changed), an owner of an orchestra group in Malout town in the district, is in ruins today as he has wasted his entire money for getting a kick from smack. After about five years of taking the drug, he was motivated to get himself de-addicted by taking treatment in the Bathinda-based Red Cross De-addiction Centre. Lying on bed with disappointment writ large on his pale face, he recalled that he had initially tried smack two times without paying for it at a photo studio in Malout. After that he found himself unable to quit smack and it became part and parcel of his routine. Eversince he entered the world of addiction, he had been taking about 5 gm of smack every day, costing about Rs 600. Bhupinder Kumar (name changed), a young businessman in the city, tried smack for relieving tension and got addicted it. He got his supply of smack on the doorstep. And only after landing himself in deep debt, he realised the ill-effects of drugs and then got himself de-addicted.

Amarinder Goyal (28) and Suresh Kumar (22) (both names changed), who were into the business of selling medicines, started taking smack for getting a kick out of it and got addicted to it. Easy availability and addiction to the drug made them pay through their nose they stopped taking smack only after about an year.

These are a few of the victims of smack addiction which has been spreading its tentacles even as the authorities concerned are yet to wake- up to tackle the menace.

Over the years, due to active patronage extended to drug peddlers by a section of former ruling politicians, the availability of smack has become very easy in this home town of a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and other parts of the Malwa region and even the addicts have started selling the drug to other addicts to make and get dose of the drug free.

More than 18 persons from this region, including six from Muktsar district, six from Ferozepore district’ four from Bathinda and at least two addicts from Mandi Dabwali of Sirsa district Sirsa (Haryana), have got themselves deaddicted with the help or Red Cross De-addiction Centre, Bathinda, during the past nine months. This month has seen a tremendous jump in the number of smack addicts getting themselves de-addicted at the centre.

Dr Mehboob Singh Sran, Project Director, Red Cross De-addiction Centre said easy availability of smacks was one of the main reasons for the rise in the number of addicts.


Campaign launched against drug addiction
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 3
A campaign to free the district from the menace of fast-growing drug addiction has been launched here. A drug de-addiction centre is being set up at Fatehgarh Sahib, where expert doctors will treat drug addicts.

A brainchild of Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner and Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, Senior Superintendent of Police, the campaign is being supported by various social organisations.

A seminar as part of this campaign was organised at the local Mata Gujri Senior Secondary School, which was addressed by various speakers. On this occasion, a poster was released for distribution among the public against drug abuse.

The Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police said at public grievance meetings, a large number of people, particularly women, complain against their male members for committing atrocities against them under the influence of drugs. Similarly, regular complaints had been pouring in from the parents against their children who had become drug addicts and had started torturing, harassing, manhandling and insulting them. They said their tales of woes had forced them to curb this social evil and they had decided to launch a campaign at social, administrative, legal and individual level with the help of social organisations. They said the Zonal Director, Narcotics Control Bureau of India, and the District Sessions Judge are also extending full cooperation to control this menace.

They said seminars, painting competitions, lectures by experts, particularly in schools and colleges, have been initiated to create awareness. Besides, services of psychologists would be availed to determine the cause of increase in drug addiction in the section of society, which is falling prey to this menace. They appealed to every section of society to help in achieving the required results, as the government alone cannot succeed without public support.

Addressing the seminar, Mr Rakesh Goyal, Zonal Director, Narcotics Control Bureau of India, said illicit drugs destroy innumerable individual lives and undermine our societies. The illicit trade in drugs and their effects are a major challenge for the international community. The huge margin between the original price of the intoxicants like opium and poppy husk and its open market price was boosting this business, which was spoiling the lives of our young generations. He said that this profit was being pocketed by anti-social elements that used this money to create chaos in society.

Mr Vikas Partap said that drug abuse should be checked at the first stage and the people should refrain themselves from drug addiction.

Mr B. Chandra Shekhar said a campaign against drug abuse launched in the district would be further intensified and taken to grassroots level. He also urged the people to provide information to the police about those who indulge in the sale of drugs.

Mr Mohinder Pal, District and Sessions Judge, Mr M.S. Chahal SP (D), Dr K.C. Goyal DHO, Mr Subhash Sood, Mr Sadhu Ram, President BCC and Mr Mahesh Sharma from an NGO of Jalandhar, also addressed the seminar.


Govt going back on commitment: BKU
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
The Punjab unit of the Bharti Kisan Union ( BKU) has charged the state government with making efforts to violate its commitment made in its election manifesto to provide free power to the agriculture sector. In a memorandum submitted to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission here today the union has asked the state government to compensate the PSEB for the free power supply.

Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, President of the Punjab unit of the BKU, argued that agriculture in Punjab was already passing through a crisis. About 3 per cent of the agriculture land, he said, had been already grabbed by money lenders as the farmers were unable to pay their debts due to falling farm income.

The BKU claimed that PSEB was suffering losses not due to free power supply to the farm sector but due to unionisation, inefficiencies , wide-spread corruption and power theft. Interestingly, some of the other unions boycotted the commission’s hearing, claiming that the Congress had already made a promise at the time of the elections to provide free supply to the agriculture sector. In case the government decides to impose any power tariff on tubewells they would launch an agitation to teach a lesson to the government.


MC demolition drive selective: residents
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 3
The local municipal corporation authorities carried out a demolition drive in the Housing Board colony, which is part of the ward of the Mayor of the civic body, Mr Surinder Mahey here this evening, in which unauthorised construction of gates and encroachment on public streets were razed to ground.

However, the residents have termed the campaign as vindictive while accusing the MC officials of adopting double standards by not removing encroachment from the houses of some influential persons of the locality.

The civic staff, led by the SDM, Mr Mohinder Pal, and Senior Town Planner, Mr A.S. Tuli, reached the colony at 5.30pm and JCB machines were put into action. The staff removed about 50 encroachments, including pucca gates and boundary walls which covered as much as seven feet of the public street.

The drive had to be halted midway after one hour after the agitating residents, including women, sat in front of the JCB machines to register protest against selective approach while removing unauthorised structures. They also raised anti-government slogans.

“The Mayor has acted in haste. Though we are not against the drive but the way we are not allowed by the MC staff to remove our belongings has caused a lot of loss. The Mayor should have consulted the residents in advance and the matter could have been sorted amicably,” Mr Vinod Sahni, a resident, said.

Daljeet Sahni, another resident, alleged that though there were 6000 encroachment points in the Bhargo camp locality, identified by the civic body but none of these points had been removed due to political pressure.

The residents said the demolition drive should be launched throughout the city in a sincere manner and it should not be selective.

Mr Mahey was not available for comments.


Only 6 Bazigar families in Punjab
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, July 3
Once considered a highly skilled and respectable art, the tradition of Bazigari (gymnastics) is on the verge of extinction as only six families all over Punjab are pursuing this as many of their family members have now started working as farm labourers.

The holding of ‘baazi’ fair, which is held once in 12 years in a village, was considered very auspicious for the village concerned and legend has it that the villages where such baazis were held were never short of rain or harvest. Bazigars were offered the highest possible prizes in cash and kind by the villagers as it also brought fame to the villages.

Residents of Dunewall village, about 30 km from here, happened to enjoy the demonstration of skills by the Bazigars recently and were left spell-bound. Balbir Singh of Ferozpore district and the ustad of the party, while talking to the Tribune, said that traditionally every single household of the village offered them gifts, which included new clothes for their daughters, food grains and even household items.

He recalled that his party had collected a maximum prize of Rs 1 lakh and two rings of gold from Bajakhana village in Faridkot. He said that yesterday they had collected as many as 100 blankets, 100 new suits for their daughters and about Rs 7,000 in cash. Traditionally the baazis included three types of jumps; ‘tari di baazi’ — where the performer had to jump a long distance; ‘patri di chal’, where the performer had to jump between sharp-edged swords while holding burning sticks in his mouth and ‘tehhar di chal’, he had to jump over a wall generally made of three cots.

Balbir Singh said that various villages of the state had been divided among families of the Bazigars and they do not perform in each other’s territory.

The baazis were once the main recreational activity for rural folks and with the advent of modern tools of entertainment, the interest of the public in such fairs had eroded. The lack of support from any government or NGO had also led to a drastic reduction in the number of performances being held in Punjab over the past few years.

The villagers appreciated the skills of the Bazigars and also lauded their anti-drug jokes. Some of the septuagenarians were seen in tears when the Bazigars put a handful of food grains back into the utensils of village women who had brought these for them. It was seen as a bad omen to take empty utensils home, said one of them.

Balbir Singh said that they were finding it difficult to keep their tradition alive as their children were not willing to adopt their family profession and were either working as farm labourers or were studying to get jobs. He said that the panchayats collected contributions from every household, which was then given to the Bazigars. “If this trend continued the future generations would be able to read our skills only in books”, he said.


Pensioners’ body honours
I.S. Randhawa
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 3
The Punjab Police Pensioners’ Welfare Association in a function held here today honoured Mr I.S. Randhawa, SP(H), on becoming the president of the Punjab Police Service (PPS) Officers’ Association.

Addressing the gathering Mr D.S. Panag, president of the pensioners’ welfare association, appreciated the services of Mr Randhawa and said it was a matter of pride that an honest, dedicated and hard-working officer had become the president of the association and congratulated all PPS officers for electing such a dynamic officer as their president.

He lauded the services of Mr Randhawa towards the welfare of the families of policemen and particularly towards the widows and children of police martyrs. He also highlighted the problems being faced by the police pensioners and their families. He demanded that police should initiate more welfare schemes for the pensioners.

In his address Mr I.S. Randhawa assured the police pensioners that the officers in service would continue to give due respect to the retired police personnel and their grievances would be redressed on priority.

He thanked the association for honouring him and said with the help of the SSP various steps would be taken for the welfare of the children of the police personnel. He urged the retired police personnel to extend co-operation to the police to nab the anti-social elements and to eradicate the crime from society. He said without the co-operation of public no goal could be achieved.


End fixed quota of Amarnath pilgrims: Billa
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
The All-India Hindu Shiv Sena chief, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, has said that he would give a call to Hindus to boycott the forthcoming Assembly elections if the Jammu and Kashmir Government failed to do away with the ‘fixed quota’ of pilgrims for the Amarnath yatra.

Mr Billa said it was unfortunate that the Jammu and Kashmir Government had allowed only 85,760 pilgrims from all over India to pay obeisance at the Amarnath cave while there was no such restriction last year. He claimed that more than 2.50 lakh pilgrims including 1 lakh from Punjab, had undertaken the yatra last year.

He said now the government had asked the pilgrims to apply through 80 branches of Jammu and Kashmir Bank whereas such registrations were done in Jammu till last year. Only 14,016 persons from Punjab would be able to pay obeisance at Amarnath cave, he added. The quota for Amritsar was only 2,800 while more than 20,000 persons from the holy city paid obeisance at the Amarnath cave last year.


Court orders release of Akali leader

Faridkot, July 3
A local court today ordered the release of senior Akali Dal (Badal) leader and Moga Nagar (Council) President Kuldeep Singh Gill, who was arrested in an alleged cheating case on June 13.

Faridkot Additional District and Sessions Judge Fatehdeep Singh after hearing the arguments also ordered the release of two other accused in the case namely Bikaramjit Singh and Mohinder Kaur.

Mr Gill was arrested in a case registered against him and two other accused Bikramjit Singh and Mohinder Kaur on a complaint filed by Surinder Singh Grewal at the instance of the Punjab and Haryana High Court alleging cheating and forgery.

He was arrested on June 13 and after two days’ police remand he was sent to judicial custody. PTI


Exorcist’ snaps ties with SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 3
Mr Narinder Pal Singh, an Assistant Information Officer, who was found exorcising at a religious place in violation of the ‘Sikh rehat maryada’ has snapped ties with the SGPC.

Mr Narinder Pal Singh had reportedly taken this step to pre-empt the move of Akal Takht, which was about to summon him for indulging in exorcism. In his resignation letter, addressed to the manager of Darbar Sahib, he stated that ‘baseless allegations’ were levelled against him.


Construction of underbridge sought
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 3
Delegations of various social organisations met Mr V.K. Aggarwal, Divisional Railway Manager (DRM), Delhi Division, who was here today to inspect the local railway station.

Almost all delegates demanded the construction of a railway underbridge here stating that local residents were facing problem as the railway crossing remained closed most of the time.


PSEB staff stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 3
On a call given by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Employees Struggle Committee, board employees organised a march and a dharna outside the PSEB headquarters here today to protest against the non-implementation of their already accepted demands.

The convener of the committee, Mr Amarjit Singh Sodhi, said that in spite of repeated reminders to the board management, no step had been taken to implement their demands.


Woman beggar dies of heat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 3
An 80-year-old woman beggar died due to excessive heat at the local railway station last evening.

The woman could not be identified as she did not have any relative living in the city. The body was handed over to NGO Sahara after the post-mortem examination and police formalities.


Mishap averted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 3
A mishap was averted here when the ammonia gas pipe of an ice factory situated in a crowded bazar here got burst and the gas started leaking leading to panic among local residents. However, action by the local fire brigade saved the situation. Nobody in the factory was affected by the leakage.


Paddy sowing renders 58 tubewells dry
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chukhiara (Jalandhar), July 3
Injudicious use of subsoil water for paddy over the years has rendered all 58 tubewells dry, which in turn has made farmers shun paddy sowing and go in for nomadic style farming.

Life was smooth for farmers two-three years ago and they used to sow paddy in village’s entire 400 acres knowing little that this will lead to a situation when there will be no water for irrigation. This happened last year, when almost all tubewells of village went dry following water table going very deep forcing them to shun paddy. The situation worsened when no tubewell functioned and they had to await monsoon as the village did not have canal irrigation. “Last year, village had just four acres of paddy crop, but this year nobody sowed even a single plant of paddy as we have no water to irrigate our fields. No tubewell is in working condition,” said Baldev Singh, a farmer. He added that as paddy consumed too much of water, large number of tubewells could also be one of the reasons for extremely deep water table this year while the village boasted of 58 tubewells, land per family is only 2.5 acres.

The Punjab Agriculture Department too had no idea of miserable condition of farmers till a farmers’ camp was organised in the village recently. Now, they have advised farmer to go in for less water-consuming crops like maize and moong instead of paddy.

Mr Baldev Singh Kahlon district Agriculture Officer, admitted that all of tubewells of the village had gone dry.

He attributed loss of water to over dependence of farmers on paddy, which required excessive water. “We have already warned all farmers in the paddy belt of the Doaba region that the situation might not be far when they could also face a similar situation. He said his departments officials had been advising farmers to use water with the utmost care.

Since most of the farmers depended on paddy for livelihood, now they are facing financial problems. “We have to borrow from commission agents as we cannot sow paddy now. Above all, neither a government official nor an NGO has come to our rescue so far”, said another farmer. A group of farmers demanded that deep tubewells should be provided by the government as these were the only solution to the problem.


Give power connections without delay: DC
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, July 3
Farmers in the district who have applied for a power connection would not have to wait for long if the orders of the Deputy Commissioner were followed by the officials concerned in letter and spirit. He has ordered to make arrangements for giving connections to all those farmers who had deposited the required amount and completed other formalities.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Babu Lal, while addressing officials at a meeting of the District Development Committee here today asked officials of the Punjab State Electricity Board not to cause delay in release of power connections to farmers.

He said power connections to industrialists under the single window system and to those farmers who had sought connections under drip irrigation should also be given as soon as possible.

The Executive Engineer (PWD) said that under the scheme of nabard 26 kilometres of roads would be completed in different parts of the district till September this year.

The Chief Agriculture Officer said the farmers in the district have adopted alternative crops in place of cotton and thus the area under cotton has decreased by 40 per cent.

Addressing a meeting of the heads of schools and prominent citizens here today, Mr Bhatti said the project had been prepared under the Rajiv Gandhi drinking water mission of the Union Government.

Mr Bhatti said 60 per cent of the expenses would be borne by the Union Government while the rest would be given by the state government. He said toilets would be constructed at 33148 households of people of weaker sections, 200 at public places and 193 at the government schools in the district.


Admn scanning sangat darshan grants
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 3
The district administration has undertaken a vigorous exercise to check the utilisation of funds under the Sangat Darshan scheme. Additional Deputy Commissioners and Sub-Divisional Officers are examining each and every grant released during the programme which had been initiated by the Akali-BJP government.

Sources said the officers were trying to find out the purpose for which the money had been given, whether the work had been completed and if not when it was likely to be completed. According to sources, some instances have come to light in which money was not used for the designated work.

Additional Deputy Commissioner (General) Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon said the exercise was being undertaken on the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and it would be completed within a few days. He said a total of Rs 15.88 crore had been released by the previous government for completion of various works in the five constituencies of Patiala, Samana, Shatrana, Dakala and Nabha. He said the constituencies of Banur, Rajpura and Ghanaur were not covered under the scheme.

Giving the block-wise detail of the money released, he said Rs 1.94 crore had been released for Patiala, Rs 3.61 crore for Bhunerheri, Rs 2.10 crore for Sanaur, Rs 2.77 crore for Nabha, Rs 2.88 crore for Patran and Rs 2.62 crore for Samana.

Meanwhile, SDM’s have been directed to check blocks which do not fall in their area. Patiala SDM Manjit Singh Narang, has been made in charge of the task in Nabha, Nabha SDM Zora Singh Thind in Shatrana, Rajpura SDM Amrit Gill in Samana, Dera Bassi SDM A.S. Dhindsa in Dakala and Samana SDM G.S. Chahal in Dakala. They are working under the ADC (General) and the ADC (Development). In case of Dakala and Samana constituencies, the District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) and the Secretary, Zila Parishad have also been roped in for the job.


Order on outstation labour registration
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 3
Mr Anurag Verma, District Magistrate, in an order has said that no one in the district could employee a labourer from an other state without informing the police about his antecedents.

Mr Verma said the order would remain in force till August 31. He said the step has been taken so as to minimise chances of such labourers indulging in antisocial activities.


New Mansa, Muktsar DCs named
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 3
Mansa and Muktsar districts will have new Deputy Commissioners while Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Director, Public Relations, will be sent to Mansa, Mrs Usha R. Sharma will go to Muktsar, according to a top government functionary.


Two proclaimed offenders held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 3
Two proclaimed offenders, Raju, alias Kalia, alias Ram Kishan, of Chalhera village under Haripur police station in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh and Kaku of Jhalhera police station in Una district in Himachal Pradesh have been arrested for committing dacoities in 1992. The information was given in a press note issued here today by the SSP, Hoshiarpur, Ms Gurpreet Deo. She said members of the gang had been living in Kangra and Una districts for the past 10 years.

These proclaimed offenders had committed dacoities in 1992 after mercilessly beating up inmates of five houses in Kaheri village under Sadar police station here. She said a special police team was being sent to Kangra and Jammu and Kashmir to arrest other members of the gang.

Meanwhile, Nok Chand of Himachal Pradesh was arrested for being in possession of 6.45 kg of opium. The SSP said a bus coming from Mahilpur at Chabewal was stopped at a naka. When the police party started checking the bus passengers, Nok Chand jumped from the bus, along with his bag, and tried to flee. He was, however, nabbed and a case under Sections 61, 1, 85 of the NDPS Act registered against him.


5 hurt in clash over land dispute
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 3
While an army jawan today committed suicide by shooting himself in the head in the Suranassi Cantonment area, five persons, including a woman, were seriously injured in a clash over a land dispute at Lamba Pind in two separate incidents.

According to sources, Neeraj Kumar, a jawan in the Suranassi Cantonment area, used his official carbine to kill himself. He took such a step due to some family problem. The police said Neeraj ,soon after taking over duty at 6.30 am, shot himself in the head. A case has been registered.

In another incident five persons, including a woman were injured in a clash over a land near Lamba Pind village here. All injured were admitted to the local civil Hospital.

Surja Singh, one of the injured, talking to this correspondent at the local Civil Hospital, said his brother Tarsem Singh had taken possession of a piece of agricultural land which belonged to him. The incident took place when Surja was standing on the disputed piece of land and Tarsem, along with his two sons, armed with sharp-edged weapons, attacked him inflicting serious head injuries. Surja’s son Surinder Singh and mother Amar Kaur were also injured in the clash when they tried to save him.

Tarsem Singh, however refuted the allegations and said it was Surja who had encroached upon the disputed land. “Surja attacked us causing serious injuries to my son Kulwinder,” Tarsem alleged. A case has been registered.


Woman, daughter held for running flesh trade
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 3
The police today rescued three girls, including a minor, who had been forced into the flesh trade in the city.

The busting of the racket has revealed that the government-run international hotel and three-star hotels, including Mohan International, were being used for the purpose. The investigations made by the police bring forth startling facts that the girls were sent to the houses of rich persons of the city by Swarnjit Kaur, alias Pili Pardhan, with the help of her daughter Ritu.

Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh and Dr S.K. Kalia, both SPs, revealed that the accused were arrested from Jagdamba Colony on the Majitha road on a complaint of Jasbir Kaur, mother of one of the victims, a 20-year-old girl. A 23-year-old girl and her nine-year-old sister were also rescued from the clutches of Pili Pardhan, who claimed herself to be a member of SAD and the Rangreta Dal.

While Pili Pardhan and her daughter had been arrested, her son Sonu fled taking advantage of darkness. The raids were conducted in the wee hours.

However, during the interrogation Pili Pardhan and her daughter revealed that the Mohan International and a government-run hotel were being used for running the flesh trade.

The police said many influential persons were likely to come in the net as their addresses along with telephone numbers were found in the personal diaries of Pili Pardhan.


Pirated CDs seized, three arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 3
The district police has seized more pirated CDs of new Hindi movies and pornographic films in two raids at two shops in the posh locality of Ranjit Avenue late last evening. Three persons have been arrested in this regard.

At a press conference here today, Mr Kanwar Vijay Partap Singh and Dr S.K. Kalia, both SPs, stated that the police raided the premises of Ashirvad Music Hut and another music shop in the Ranjit Avenue A-block market and seized the CDs, 1,000 from Ashirvad Music Hut, and about 400 from the second shop.

The police arrested Sukhcharan Singh, owner of Ashirvad Music Hut and Harbans Singh, owner of the second shop. One more person was arrested in this regard. Two separate cases under various sections of the IPC and Copy Right Act have been registered.


Vigilance arrests pharmacist, 3 quacks
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 3
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested a pharmacist from the primary health centre, (PHC) Talwandi Mallian, in the district on charges of taking a fee of Rs 500 from a local resident for giving medicine and amassing property disproportionate to known sources of income. During the raid the in charge of the health centre, Dr Harvinder Singh, was also found absent.

According to a press note issued by the bureau Bakhtawar Singh of Sherpur, Ludhiana, complained that Gurdarshan Singh, a pharmacist posted at the PHC was running two private clinics with the help of three quacks. The pharmacist was arrested while taking the fee from Bakhtawar Singh for giving medicines. The three quacks were also arrested. A case under various Sections of the PC Act has been registered.

The bureau also raided the government hospitals at Moga, Dharamkot and Kot-ise-Khan.


Move to close boys’ college opposed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 3
The Akhil Bharatiya Vidhyarthi Parishad today opposed the government move to close the only boys college here. Mr Suraj Bhardwaj, district president of the parishad, said that the parishad would not allow the government to close the college and warned that if it carried out the move the students would be forced to launch an agitation.

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