Saturday, July 13, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Charge sheet filed against Sidhu
Vigilance submits 45 tampered answer sheets
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
The Vigilance Department today filed a charge sheet against suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu and his three alleged touts, two examiners and former Secretary Pritpal Singh in the Sessions Court here besides submitting 45 answer sheets of nine PCS (Judicial) candidates, including that of Amol Gill, daughter of Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice Amarbir Singh Gill.

The charge sheet which was filed by public prosecutor Vijay K. Markan has been filed against the suspended Chairman, former Secretary Pritpal Singh, alleged touts — Randhir Singh Dheera, Prem Sagar and Paramjit Singh Pammi and examiners Prof Gurpal Singh of the Department of Law in Punjabi University and Dr Jagdish Kalra of the Department of English in Panjab University.

Three other accused — Sidhu’s mother Pritpal Kaur, his brother Reetinder Singh and his sister-in-law Ajinder Kaur, who had been included in FIR number 24 registered at the Vigilance Bureau Station here on April 30 under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120 (b) besides Sections 12,2, and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, have been put under Section four in the charge sheet under the heading “yet to be arrested’’.

The Vigilance Bureau, whose two Superintendents of Police — Gurpreet Singh and Mukhtiar Singh — were at hand during the filing of the charge sheet has included two new sections in the charge sheet, including Section 409 (embezzlement) and Section eight of the Prevention of Corruption Act against the accused.

The Vigilance Department also submitted 45 answer sheets of nine PCS (Judicial) candidates — Amol Gill, Rajinder Bansal, Manvinder Singh, Ram Saran, Monica Sethi, Mandeep Kaur, Preetwinder Singh and Anil Kumar Jindal. Five answer sheets of all the candidates pertaining to the papers of criminal law, civil law (one), civil law (two) English and Punjabi have been submitted in the court. The papers will be scrutinised tomorrow by the court.

The Vigilance Department has also claimed in its charge sheet that papers of 16 candidates who appeared in the PCS (Executive) examination were also tampered with. It however, said that it would present their answer sheets in the supplementary charge sheet.

The Vigilance Bureau has also appended the statements made by alleged touts — Dheera, Prem Sagar and Pammi in the charge sheet. These include a list of candidates who had given money to them to pass on to the suspended Chairman for recruitment to various posts, including PCS (Judicial), PCS (Executive), Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSPs), block and development panchayat officers (BDPOs) and lecturers.

The Vigilance Department has linked together the role of Sidhu, former Secretary Pritpal Singh and the two examiners claiming that they worked in tandem. While Sidhu is accused of soliciting bribes through his touts and even accepting them at his mother’s residence in Chandigarh, the touts are accused of asking for money to hand over to Sidhu from candidates. The former Secretary is accused of violating secrecy norms by taking question papers to the residence of the PPSC chief besides using one pretext or the other to get marks of selective candidates increased from the examiners even after the answer sheets have been corrected. The examiners are accused of making cuttings and increasing marks of selected candidates.

The Vigilance Department is likely to include others under the ambit of a supplementary charge sheet, including Prof Amarjit Singh Kang, Chairman of the Department of Punjabi of Kurukshetra University. He has not been included in the charge sheet because he could not be questioned in the case with his arrest being stayed initially. The department has, however, submitted answer sheets of the PCS (Judicial) examination which have been allegedly tampered by him.

Sessions Judge S. N. Aggarwal has fixed July 18 for verification of the charge sheet.


‘Proof’ of graft against high priests by July 21
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12
In a significant development the Sikh clergy today accepted the principled stand “of the members of the Khalsa Panchayat, who insisted that they would submit concrete proof” of corruption against the high priests to the SGPC chief by July 21.

The members of the Khalsa Panchayat who were summoned at Akal Takht secretariat for submitting the proof of corruption against the high priests, including the Jathedar of Akal Takht, stuck to their guns that they could not do so as two of the Jathedars were party to the case.

This is for the first time in the history of Akal Takht that Sikh leaders have levelled serious charges of corruption against the Jathedars. The Khalsa Panchayat, in a brochure, had alleged that certain “Panthic cases” were decided in favour of the culprits after receiving hefty amounts. The case of Baba Dhanwant Singh, who was charged with moral turpitude was quoted in the brochure.

However, Jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti said that the Sikh clergy had to accept the demand of the Sikh Panchayat, with a view to maintaining transparency in the sensitive case. After the levelling of charges of corruption, the SGPC had shown the door to Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, personal assistant to Akal Takht Jathedar as he had attained the age of 60 years.

Meanwhile, Members of the Khalsa Panchayat, gave in writing, that the proof of corruption would be submitted to SGPC chief within 10 days. “If we fail to submit the same proceedings could be initiated against them as per Sikh maryada”.

On the other hand, Sikh high priests warned the state government that activities of the excommunicated Sikh, Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara could vitiate the peaceful atmosphere of the state. They also asked the SGPC to mobilise public opinion against Baba Bhaniara.


Bhaniarawala banned from entering Ropar
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 12
The local District Magistrate, Mrs Seema Jain, has imposed a complete ban on the entry of controversial Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala into the district till September 12. The order will be implemented three days after the information is conveyed to the Baba. However, the Baba has been allowed to enter the district only to appear in the courts in different cases registered against him.

The ban on the entry of the Baba into the district till September 12 was confirmed this evening by Mr Vikas Garg, local ADC, while talking to this reporter over the phone.

Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, local SSP, said the Baba’s entry into the district had been banned in view of the danger to public tranquility due to his presence in the district. He also stated that information with regard to the imposition of the ban on his (Baba’s) entry into the district was given to the Baba today by the police.

Baba Bhaniarawala, after spending nine months in the jail, returned to his native Dhamana village near Nurpur Bedi in this district on July 10 amidst tight security. With the arrival of the Baba, his followers have started trickling in and their number is expected to increase manifold in the days to come.

Sources said keeping in view the animosity of the local Dhamana residents and surrounding villages towards the Baba, possibilities of clashes between the followers of the Baba and villagers could not be ruled out, though the local police had taken adequate preventive measures.

The sources said the Baba was averse to the idea of staying away from his native village/dera as he felt that his credibility would be affected in case he left the village while the police apprehended a law and order problem if the Baba stayed there.

They said going-by the high court directives, the banning of entry of the Baba into the district was the best recourse available to the administration keeping in view the overall law and order scenario.

The sources also felt that the Baba was initially reluctant to go on his own but the present order of the administration would prove a face-saving measure for him.


Sehajdharis see plot in SGPC move
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 12
“The attempt to deprive Sehajdhari Sikhs of voting in the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) election is a deep-rooted conspiracy to drive a wedge between the already fragmented minority community besides denying representation to more than 80 per cent of the Sikhs in the world,” claims Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, national president of the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation.

Talking to The Tribune on this “ thorny” issue — threatening to snowball into a major controversy — here today, he said it is unfortunate that the present Sikh leadership had not spared any opportunity to fiddle with a serious and emotive issue of the Sehajdhari Sikhs. Of the total population of the community in the world, more than 80 per cent were not Amritdhari (baptised) Sikhs. It is all about the fear of losing control over vast funds available with cash-rich gurdwaras which allegedly were siphoned off to wage political battles, he alleged.

“Sehajdharis” — he reasoned — “ were the nursery of Sikhism since the erosion of social and moral values today underlines the fact that Sehajdharis should be encouraged to come to the Khalsa fold over a period of time and not pushed out into the cold, as was being done presently.”

“The controversy is all the more unsavoury since the federation feels that the definition of Sehajdhari as provided in the Sikh Gurdwara Act -1925 does not leave any ambiguity and has stood the test of time for almost half a century. That the Sehajdharis have posed no problem for the august body of the Sikhs is also borne out by the fact that even a stalwart like Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who remained SGPC chief for record 21 years and is now strong opponent — did not feel the necessity of initiating a move to deprive the Sehajdharis of their right to vote during his long tenure. Even Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi was elected to the committee in 1996 from Raikot on the strength of votes cast by the Sehajdharis ,” he pointed out.

Dr Ranu said “Parliament, too in its wisdom, in 1959 deemed it appropriate to include us within the definition of the voters enabling us to elect the true representatives of the Sikh masses when the gurdwaras under PEPSU were brought under the control of the SGPC. This was done since Parliament appreciated that the majority of the Sikh community - including the Sehajdharis - were good believers in Sikh tenets,” he opined.

He said the term Sehajdhari finds mention in the Mahan Kosh of eminent Sikh historian Bhai Kahan Singh of Nabha, who defines Sehajdharis as “part of the Sikhs — who are followers of the 10 Sikh gurus and do not recognise any other authority in religion, are non-baptised and do not undergo the initiation by the ‘Khande ka pahul’ and do not stick to the five Ks.”

He added that it was a matter of concern that a venerated personality like the Jathedar of Akal Tahkt choose to meet the PM and impress upon him that “ the voting rights of the Sehajdharis is a major cause for concern for all Sikhs as per Sikh tenets and there is no room for allowing them to manage any Sikh shrines. Owing to some political compulsions, they were given the rights in 1959 though there was no such provision in the original gurdwara act of 1925and that this anomaly continues till today”, he revealed.

“All this is contrary to facts since the issue of management of shrines has been addressed and stands protected in terms of the provision of Section 45 (clause 6) of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925 as amended in 1959, whereunder the qualification, the right to contest for a post has been confined only to Amritdhari Sikhs and all other categories have been excluded, to maintain purity of management”, he said.

Commenting on the Sikh leadership of today, he said “ it is better to leave some things unsaid. It is shameful that when leaders continue to cling to power despite having been held guilty of crimes like murder, dowry deaths, smuggling and consuming narcotics besides alcoholism,” he added.


SGPC member found guilty of drug smuggling
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12
The two-member inquiry committee constituted by the SGPC has found Sadhu Singh Raagi, an SGPC member, guilty of his involvement in the smuggling of narcotics. A petition for his disqualification as an SGPC member would be filed before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission. He was elected from the Bhadaur constituency.

After the executive meeting, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President, said the sub-committee comprising Mr Joginder Singh Panjrath and Mr Joga Singh Phaguwala (both SGPC members) indicted Raagi for indulging in “anti-Sikh activities”. The report was placed before the executive committee which decided to get him disqualified in accordance with the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

A case had already been registered against Sadhu Singh Raagi after the seizure of 240 kg of poppy husk. The case was registered at Dayalpura police station in Bathinda.

Shockingly, officials of the Central Jail (Bathinda) found 15 gm of opium hidden in the turban when he was brought from the district courts after trial.

The SGPC executive has also decided to rehabilitate Delhi riot victims settled at Fatehgarh Sahib. A two-member committee had been constituted to identify them so that the committee could provide them with residential plots at nominal rates. The meeting authorised Mr Badungar to nominate any member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee for his co-option.


Desperate farmers begin ploughing paddy
Power shortage, late monsoon add to woes
Chander Parkash and Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gidder (Bathinda), July 12
A section of farmers of this region have resorted to ploughing standing paddy crop as it had started drying up due to an acute shortage of canal water and absence of rains.

The monsoon, arrival of which has been delayed, has compelled them to take this extreme step as subsoil water in various pockets cannot be used because it has been declared unfit for irrigation or supply of power to operate tubewells is not available.

The farmers, who switched over from cotton crop to paddy cultivation this year after having suffered losses repeatedly by them due to fall in the yield of cotton and manifold increase in the cost of inputs have been hit more as now they have been forced to uproot standing paddy crop.

Official sources said that more than 1.5 lakh hectares had been brought under paddy by the farmers after change-over from cotton in the state’s cotton belt, which witnessed several suicides by farmers in the past six years. However, due to insufficient supply of canal water a section of farmers, particularly those whose fields are at the tail-end of the feeder systems criss-crossing this region have been left with no choice but to plough the paddy crop and keep the fields fallow.

The affected farmers, The Tribune talked to point out that on an average they had suffered loss of Rs 1500 per acre for sowing and later tending the paddy crop so far. Bachan Singh, (a 65-y) of Gidder village who ploughed four acres of paddy crop said that he had to take this step as he could not get sufficient yield from water starved paddy crop. Another farmer of the same village, Gurmail Singh, ploughed nearly three acres for the same reason.

Farmers say that supply of canal water in this area, diverted to the fields from mainline canals via minors (narrow canals) is grossly inadequate as these are blocked and water is siphoned off. Several channels in this area have a little water flowing in these.

In certain pockets where ground water is fit for irrigation, the shortage of power in the state is another problem. Supply of power to the farm sector is made available for eight hours daily. With canal water not available, farmers are forced to make use of ground water by sinking tubewells. “For irrigating a 15-acre farm, a tubewell motor needs to be run 24 hours a day. With supply of power poor, we are forced to use diesel generators which are expensive,” said Bachan Singh. “An engine generator uses about 1.5 litres of diesel per hour so you can imagine the cost,” he added. Even the cost of procuring motors is prohibitive. A 32-kv motor, which can run three pump sets costs nearly Rs 40,000. Added to the cost of diesel is the cost of pesticides, fertiliser and labour.

At this stage, paddy fields need at least three inches of standing water, but soil in several fields is only moist. Though there are tubewells falling subsoil water level has rendered a large number of these ineffective. “Two years ago, centrifugal water pump sets were installed at a depth of nearly 10 feet. Today we have to install these at a depth of about 30 feet,” said Gurmail Singh, a farmer in nearby Ganga village.

To ensure continuous supply of clean water, deep-bore tubewells with submersible pump sets at a depth of nearly 60 feet or so are required. “These pumps along with the required electricity connections and other charges cost nearly Rs 1.5 lakh each. While a few well-off farmers can afford these, others will find the going tough,” says Kuldip Singh, another farmer. Farmers add that if the present situation is any indication, every farmer may have to go in for such tubewells in another two years or so.

Officials in the state Agriculture Department, on the other hand claim that so far, they have not received any report of a standing paddy crop being ploughed. “If it does not rain in the next two/three days, the situation will become serious,” a source said. “The department has, none the less, put its field staff on the alert to keep situation under watch.

Needless to say, paddy output in this area has been declining. “Ideally, an acre should yield nearly 28 quintals of paddy. For the past three years, it has come down to 20-22 quintals per acre,” pointed out Bachan Singh.


Centre okays Punjab move on rice procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Union Government has concurred with the Punjab proposal for rice procurement in the Central pool as it will effect a saving of about Rs 200 crore.

The Punjab Government has urged the Union Government to lift rice directly for export from the mills. At present rice meant for the Central pool has to pass through a number of hands before its final delivery to the Union Government through the FCI for export or other purposes. The new proposal will also save the state government procurement agencies from extra work and problems that have to be faced in the course of the shelling of rice and its delivery to the Central pool.

The procedure prevalent now is that first about 75 per cent of the paddy is procured by the state government agencies and then it is stacked at the premises of rice millers for shelling. After the preparation of rice, its delivery is taken by the government agencies for onward delivery to the FCI. In the process, its quality is also examined. When the delivery is taken by the FCI, it is stacked in its godowns in the state.

The state government has convinced the Union Government that it should lift rice direct from mills after examining its quality for export. There would be no need for its stacking in godowns before its shifting for export. A lot of transportation cost will also be saved in the process.

Finance Minister Lal Singh said that he would again go Delhi soon along with Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and other officers for giving the final touches to this proposal. He said he was preparing a final draft of the proposal that was discussed with the Union Government last week . The Union Government had approved it in principle, he claimed.

When asked about a rice scandal in Bathinda, Mr Lal Singh said that there was no scandal. The Bathinda police had registered the case in a hurry without proper investigations. 


Five migrants allege rape
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Chaheru (Kapurthala), July 12
Have the Chaheru police’s pressure tactics led to the suppression of a gory story of simultaneous rape of five migrant women by a nine-member armed gang of robbers? Yes seems to be the answer if the nightmarish account of the July 6 night incident by the women and their husbands is to be believed.

Sangeeta, Vishnu Maya, Sukh Maya, Dhan Kumari and Chet Maya, all married and putting up in jhuggis near the Chaheru bridge, allegedly were raped and robbed of their belongings and cash by the nine-member gang which struck the jhuggis around 11.30 p.m. on Saturday last.

The incident has created a fear-psychosis among residents of the area. However, what was shocking was not only the delay on the part of the police to register an FIR, but its alleged efforts to cover up the matter. The police maintains that the women were just robbed of their belongings and not raped.

“We have been pleading with them to register a case of rape and book the culprits. But our pleas have been falling on deaf ears as they have just registered a case of looting,” said 17-year-old Sangeeta in the presence of a DSP who had come to make preliminary investigations about the matter. Similarly, Sunil Bahadur, husband of Vishnu Maya, who was allegedly raped, said efforts were being made by the police to hush up the matter. “We had lodged our complaint with the police on the same day. But it did nothing except registering a case, saying that nothing had happened. Can a woman insult herself by making false allegations that she was raped. It is a sheer effort to ridicule our agony”, rued Sunil Bahadur. Sangeeta was expecting when she was allegedly raped.

“After striking at our quarters, the robbers, posing as policemen, herded women and menfolk to separate enclosures and then raped us for about 45 minutes,” alleged Sangeeta, adding that the robbers were speaking a mixture of Hindi and Punjabi. “When I resisted, one of them stabbed me in my hand,” alleged Sukh Maya.

Migrant labourers alleged that police officials reached the spot, but pressured them not to speak anything about the rape.

Meanwhile, the Kapurthala SSP, Mr R.N. Dhoke, maintained that the preliminary investigations revealed that the women were not raped. “Earlier, the victims had not said anything about rape. Anyway, we are making investigations and if necessary Sections pertaining to rape would be included in the FIR,” said Mr Dhoke.

Mr Ranjit Singh, in charge of the Chaheru police station, denied that any effort was being made to hush up the case. He said the women did not mention anything about the rape when they came to lodge a complaint about the robbery incident.

Meanwhile, the Bahujan Samaj Party has threatened to hold a dharna in front of the police station if the police authorities fail to register a case of rape by July 15.


5 MLAs pledge issue-based support to Capt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Five independent MLAs said today that they would extend “ issue-based “ support to the Amarinder Singh Government. These MLAs — Mr Sucha Singh Chhottepur (Dhariwal), Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh (Talwandi Sabo), Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar (Muktsar), and Mr Harmit Singh Sandhu (Tarn Taran) — met Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh before pledging issue-based support.

The leader of these MLAs, Mr Chhottepur, said they were supporters of Capt Amarinder Singh and not of his party — the Congress. “ We all have Akali background and followers of the Akali ideology. But since Capt Amarinder Singh was doing a good job to remove corruption from every walk of life, we have extended support to him”, Mr Chhottepur said.

He said all his four colleagues would vote for Ms Lakshmi Sahgal in the Presidential election.


Three ex-MLAs to join SHSAD
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 12
At least three former Akali Dal (Badal) MLAs, including Mr Ajay Paul Singh and Mr Ujagar Singh Rangreta, a former Acting President of the SGPC will join the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal in the presence of its President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

This was disclosed by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former Akali Minister and a confidant of Mr Tohra here today. 


Scared of Cong man, family ‘shifts’ to hospital
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 12
Navin Kumar who was beaten up on Wednesday at Gidderbaha by a Congress leader of the same town is under treatment in a local hospital. Members of his family and other kin, including women and children, have ‘shifted’ to the hospital fearing a threat to life. They have alleged that the politician got some of them implicated in a false case. They thus locked their homes at Gidderbaha and came here.

The condition of Navin Kumar (22) who received 24 injuries including five on head and at legs and arms improved slightly today. He is not able to communicate properly. He was admitted in the hospital after receiving first aid from a hospital in Gidderbaha.

Mr Dharam Pal, father of Navin alleged today that to save himself the Congress leader got a false case registered against his other son Parveen and other kin. He alleged that the politician had threatened that they would have to face dire consequences, on their return to Gidderbaha. He said that as he had been threatened and even small children are not spared, women members of the family came to Bathinda by train late last night. He added that they did not feel safe in Gidderbaha as supporters of the politician were moving about in the town.

The mother of Navin alleged that she was abused by the Congress leader when she was present in the Gidderbaha hospital where her son was admitted on Wednesday night. An uncle of Navin Mr Parkash Chand alleged that the politician claimed to be close to senior Congress leaders of the state. He further alleged that the politician also claimed that he had contacts with police officials.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh Uppal, DSP, Gidderbaha when contacted on phone said that statements of Navin and other concerned have been recorded by an ASI at Bathinda Civil Hospital. He confirmed that the politician was named along with some others.

He added that as the incident occurred near the Railway lines, therefore the General Railway Police (GRP) would register the case as area was under its jurisdiction. He added that the ASI concerned has been sent to the GRP police station at Abohar. He added that only the GRP could tell about the Sections under which the FIR would be launched. He added that an FIR against brother of Navin and others under Section 307, 381 of the IPC had been registered on the complaint of Sunil Kumar a resident of the town. He had made a complaint to the police that he along with others was beaten up by Parveen and others.

He, however, added that before taking any action on the complaint of Sunil Kumar it would be ascertained whether the complaint was genuine or made for some other purpose. He added that the complaint and circumstances of the incident mentioned in the complaint of Sunil Kumar aroused suspicion.

Mr Uppal said that there was no political pressure regarding the registration of FIRs.


No water, dead fish — that’s Rajindra Tank for you
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, July 12
Scooterists speed up their vehicles while pedestrians walk as fast as they can while crossing the mini lake, also known as the Rajindra tank along the Mall Road in the city nowadays as the stench is unbearable owing to hundreds of carcasses of fish lying around the receding waters of the lake.

The tank, previously a popular boating venue for people of the city, has been deserted for quite some time now with its water level decreasing gradually due to the intense heat as well as a snag in the pipeline through which it receives its water from the Bhakra Main Line canal.

As the problem has persisted for nearly one-and-a-half months now the water level in the lake has been reduced to only a few feet. Sources said due to the low water level and immense heat the water heated up immensely resulting in the large scale death of fish which have been inhabiting the mini lake for the past few years.

An employee of the Boat Club and amusement park at the lake disclosed that they had been asking both the Municipal Corporation as well as the Irrigation department to ensure flow of water into the lake for the past more than one month to ensure the survival of the fish as well as ensure that boating continued in the lake.

The boating activity has also been stopped for a long time due to low water level in the lake.

Sources said the fish in the lake had been dying since the past few days. They said initially people from the lower strata descended on the lake premises and carried them off.

They said soon afterwards, the fish that were lying in brackish water, started emanating a foul smell which discouraged anyone from picking them up.

Even the Corporation staff did not try to clean the tank of the rotting fish and it was left to the geese who inhabit the tank to eat some of them.

However, now some of the fish are being buried by employees of the Boat Club.

The Rajindra Tank was refilled around three years back by the authorities after they managed to make a pipeline and restart the flow of water into the lake from the Bhakra Main Line.

Following that it had become a major picnic spot for the citizens, mainly because of the paddle boat fishing facility besides some joyrides set up their for the amusement of children.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the authorities had started diverting water from the nearby Kali Devi temple sarovar to the tank. However, sources said this would not have much effect unless water was brought to the lake from the Bhakra canal.

Senior residents, who walk by the side of the tank everyday are livid at the delay in rectifying the fault in the pipeline which brings water from the Bhakra canal. Jaswinderpal Singh of Sheranwala Gate said the tank had been brought back to life after it had become a ground for the disposal of garbage when water was refilled into it three years back and it should be saved from reverting to its earlier status.


Water scarcity hits dam generation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
Hydro power generation in the Ranjit Sagar dam touched a new low of only 27 lakh units today as only one of the three generation machines is working due to the declining water level in the dam because of the dwindling flow of water in the Ravi.

Board sources said the problem may be compounded if the matter was delayed further, adding that the only saving grace was the rising water level in the Gobind Sagar lake of the Bhakra Dam, from which the board receives about 180 lakh units everyday.

Board Member Operation S K Anand said to ensure the minimum nine hours of the three-phase power supply to agricultural tubewells and meet the shortfall to fulfil the daily need of around 1150 lakh units, an additional power of about 300 lakh to 350 lakh units was being purchased daily from the NHPC, NTPC, RAPP (nuclear power plant), Jammu and Kashmir, and Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Anand said curbs had also been imposed on industrial, commercial and residential consumers so that the required supply is made available for agricultural purposes. He said compulsory weekly offs had been imposed on industrial consumers from June 10 in this regard.

Disclosing measures taken by the board to facilitate agricultural consumers, he said control rooms had been established by the PSEB at all its Operation Circle headquarters where special staff had been deputed to register complaints of the people, specially agricultural consumers. He also appealed to the people not to run unauthorised loads and motors on single phase by using condensers.

He said due to the elusive monsoon and a sharp increase in the demand of power supply due to paddy season and the unbearable heat, it had become difficult for the board to maintain an uninterrupted supply to consumers. He said despite this, all thermal stations were generating power to their full capacity by producing about 490 lakh units everyday. 


PM may replace Sonia as trust chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
In a significant development, the NDA government is planning to appoint Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee as Chairman of the Jallianwala Bagh Trust whose present Chairperson is Mrs Sonia Gandhi. This was announced by Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister for Tourism, here today.

Talking to the media here, Mr Khanna said the Ranjit Sagar Dam would be the top priority of the government and would be developed as a tourist spot.

He said tourism had received a setback due to the threat of war but efforts were being made to de-escalate tensions along the border and woo tourists.

He said he would continue to work in at least one film a year. He also said he would try to set up a film institute in Punjab to boost revenue.

He paid obeisance at the Durgiana Temple and the Golden Temple, besides paying homage to martyrs at Jallianwala Bagh.


Sister seeks justice for brother
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 12
Ms Kulwant Kaur, a US citizen, has been running from pillar to post to secure justice for her brother Dilbhajan Singh, who she alleged, had been implicated in a false rape case on the complaint of a former employee working in an automobile agency being run by her brother allegedly to extract undue benefits.

Ms Kulwant Kaur, who has collected evidence to establish the fact that her brother has been booked in a false rape case, alleged that a senior official of the Punjab police and a business rival of Dilbhajan Singh had been using their influence to deny justice to Dilbhajan Singh.

In representation to various authorities, including the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, she urged that only a fair probe into the matter could reveal the truth.

Dilbhajan Singh was arrested by the district police allegedly for raping his former employee and for planting opium on her father when he (father of complainant) refused to marry her with him.

She claimed that she had proof which could put the light on the case and could expose vested interests who were trying to deny justice to Dilbhajan Singh.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, when contacted, pointed out the rape case was registered against Dilbhajan Singh when the complainant made a statement before the Judicial Magistrate. Action was being taken as per law, he added.


Dharna hits court work
Our Correspondent

Sunam July 12
Work at the local civil courts was partially affected today as document writes, stamp paper vendors, typists and draftsmen owing allegiance to the Court Complex Worker Union (CCWC) staged a dharna in a protest against the registration of cases against 13 of their colleagues at various places in Punjab.

Mr Sham Lal Jindal, president of the CCWU criticised the procedure adopted by the Vigilance Department with regard to the registration of cases. He said document writers do not maintain cashbooks but simply take proceeds of the sale of documents and stamp papers. When Vigilance officials registered a case they tallied the total amount retained by a document writer with the total amount of the proceeds received by him through the sale of the documents. They would then register a case against him without even listening to him.

Mr Sham Lal also demanded revision of rates of writing documents. He said a minimum of Rs 300 should be fixed for writing and registration of one document against the existing price of Rs 25. They also submitted a memorandum to Mr Parminder Singh Gill, SDM, Sunam, in this connection.


4 killed as trailer falls into khud

Gurdaspur, July 12
Four persons, including three migrant labourers from Bihar, were killed when the tractor-trailer in which they were travelling lost control and fell into a roadside ‘khud’ near Kilpur village in the district last night.

A police report here today said eight others in the trolley were injured and admitted to the Civil Hospital at Pathankot. The labourers were returning home after work.

The victims were identified as Shaloo, a resident of Kilpur village, and Samodh, Gopal and Ram Rattan, all migrants from Bihar. UNI


Jawan cremated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 12
The mortal remains of jawan Vikrant Singh of the 19 Dogra Regiment, were consigned to flames today at his native Chhatwal village near here.

He laid down his life while fighting terrorists at Poonch, Srinagar, yesterday.

Mr Ashok Sharma MLA, Mr Puneet Goel, SDM, and others paid floral tributes to martyr.

Mr Ashok Sharma announced that the village link road would be named after the martyr.


Inquiry points to misuse of funds
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, July 12
Even as an investigation is under way to look into the alleged misuse of funds given for various development works by former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in his home district, it is learnt that 30 per cent of such funds were not used for the desired purpose.

Although the inquiry would be completed within 20 days, the investigation so far has revealed that the funds were misused and the development projects given to the district were not executed properly.

This was disclosed by Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, at a meeting here today. She claimed that legal action would be taken against those found guilty.

She said huge funds were issued for the district, but few developmental works were undertaken.

She said an inquiry would also be conducted into allegation that some ineligible persons were getting old-age pension.


Irrigation cess to be reimposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab Government has decided to reimpose irrigation cess, which was withdrawn by the previous Akali-BJP Government in 1997. The other major decision taken was to give ''free'' electricity to tubewells. The regulatory authority is processing the case for introducing user charges for power supply to the agriculture sector.

Informed sources told TNS that the Cabinet subcommittee had decided to collect ''abiana'' and asked the Department of Irrigation to put up a case in this connection. The file has now been put up to the Chief Minister, seeking approval of the date from which the irrigation cess is to be charged.

As per the decision, farmers using canal water would now be required to pay Rs 10 per kanal, as water cess in the rabi and kharif season. The state expects to net around Rs 30 crore per annum against the previous collection of around Rs 19 crore in 1997.


Cabinet okays tax proposals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved amendments to the General Sales Tax Act, 1948, to effect the levy of an entry tax on yarn, paper and scrap of iron and steel; tax on “dhabas” with an annual turnover of Rs 5 lakh; abolition of surcharge on automobiles; and the introduction of Exim forms.

The relevant sales tax rules are expected to be amended by July 15 to levy modified tax rates on 10 items — chemical fertilisers, plant protection chemicals, de-oil cake, rice bran, husk of grains, pulses, cement, milk purchase tax), pan masala and “gutka”, goods consumed in execution of works contract pertaining to printing, dyeing, bleaching or processing by processor of cloth and inter-state sale of vegetable oils.

The Council of Ministers also approved the foreign visit of the Chief Minister beginning on August 2. Since there is a complete ban on foreign tours of ministers and officers, except in very rare cases, and that too, with the approval of the Council of Ministers, hence the item was put up in the meeting today. The ban is part of an exercise to compress non-interest and non-plan expenditure. Informed sources told TNS that the Chief Minister would be accompanied by a high-level team of officers to meet with the International Financial Consortium and United Nations Office for Project Services in Kuala Lumpur. 


Punjab postings, transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab Government today ordered the following postings and transfers .

Mr Kulbir Singh Kang, Member, Administration, PSEB, Patiala, will also be Executive Director, BACKFINCO.

Mr Amrit Lal Garg, Additional Director (Admn), Industries and Commerce, will also be ex-officio Additional Secretary to the Government of Punjab, apart from being Land Acquisition Collector, Department of Industries.

The transfer orders of Mr Jaskiran Singh as SDM, Gidderbaha, have been cancelled. He has been posted as SDM, Abohar, against a vacant post, says a press note.


Powers delegated
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 12
The Deputy Commissioner Mr G. Romesh Kumar, today delegated powers of sub-registrars to SDM, in all subdivisional towns in Moga, Baghapurana and Nihalsinghwala in the district with effect from today.

This has been done in view of strikes by tehsildars, naib tehsildars in the district. The order will remain in force till the strike is over. The Deputy Commissioner said the step had been taken to save the public from any inconvenience.

Tarn Taran: The strike call given by revenue officers, document writers and others have badly affected the functioning of the tehsil offices and that of the SDM’s offices. This indefinite strike call have been given in protest against the raids being conducted by the Vigilance Department.

Document writers on Friday staged a dharna at the local tehsil complex and submitted a memorandum to the local revenue authorities.


Jail escape: 3 cops suspended
Tribune News Service

Sangat (Bathinda), July 12
Even as two accused Ram Niwas and Subhas involved in smuggling of narcotics, who were arrested by the police, escaped from the cell of the local police station after breaking its iron bars and removing the bricks, the district police authorities placed three police officials, — Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) Kaur Singh, Head Constable Gurjant Singh and Constable Kulwinder Singh — under suspension for their negligence.

Apart from it, Additional Station House Officer (ASHO) Baldev Singh had been sent to the Police Line and a case under Sections 223 and 225 B of the IPC had been registered against Constable Kulwinder Singh.

Police sources said the two accused on the night of July 10 broke the iron bars and removed the bricks of the cell and escaped from police custody. They belonged to other states than Punjab.

A case under Sections 223 and 225 B of the IPC had also been registered.


Patrol along canals intensified: MLA
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 12
Mr Hans Raj Josan, MLA and former Punjab Cabinet minister, after a tour of border villages of the Jalalabad Assembly segment falling in this subdivision, said farmers whose land had been used to lay mines, shall soon be paid the second instalment of Rs 6,000 per acre as compensation.

A sum of Rs 5,000 per acre had been disbursed in the first phase.

He said the Punjab Government had intensified patrol along canals to check water theft. The government was determined to ensure the supply of irrigation water and electricity for eight hours.


Markfed officer suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab State Cooperative Supply and Marketing Federation (Markfed), today said Mr Jasbir Singh field officer posted in Chamkaur Sahib, was suspended following his arrest on July 10.

Markfed said that the police had arrested him with two trucks of wheat which contained 440 bags of wheat. Each bag weighed 95 kg.

The employee was sent in judicial custody till July 18.


Rape charge: case registered against ETO
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 12
The Faridkot police today registered a case against Jaspal Singh Randhawa, Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO), Faridkot, on the charge of sexually assaulting a Fazilka girl.

Stating this here today, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, said, action had been taken after getting a report from DSP Harvinder Singh.

According to reports available the victim in her complaint to Mr A. Veenu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, a few days ago alleged that the ETO, who was posted at Fazilka last year lured her with to get a job in the Excise and Taxation Department through a mediator in lieu of a bribe of Rs 50,000/-. However, the matter was decided on the payment of Rs 20,000/-.

Later the alleged accused took her to Bathinda to meet higher officials for settling the issue. There he allegedly raped her.


Petrol pump looted at Morinda

Ropar, July 12
Four car-borne miscreants looted Rs 68,500 from a petrol pump at Morinda here today.

According to the police, the four first demanded petrol worth Rs 500 for their car. Later one of them snatched the cash from a salesman at pistol point.

The salesman told the police that the miscreants escaped towards Ludhiana. PTI


250 kg opium seized

The district police on Friday claimed to have recovered 20 kg of opium from a car near here. Acting on information, a police party erected a naka on the Pehowa road near here and a white Maruti car without number plates, driven by one Satta Ram, a resident of Jind, Haryana, was searched, and at least 20 kg opium was recovered from the boot of the vehicle. A case in this regard has been registered .


Ten IT institutes face closure
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
A recent notice of Punjabi University seeking to disaffiliate all single-faculty professional colleges on the basis of a state government decision may threaten the careers of hundreds of students who have already taken admission in these colleges. The notice is likely to sound the death knell for as many as 10 Information Technology institutes which had earlier been given affiliation by the university after due inspection.

The Punjabi University Registrar recently issued a notice saying the government had taken a decision that universities in the state should grant affiliation to only those IT colleges, including those conducting the BCA, BMIT and MCA courses, which were multi-faculty in nature.

The notice is likely to affect around 10 specialised IT colleges which do not have any other course. The Registrar’s notice has been issued after most of them have completed their admission process and were set to start classes.

The various colleges, which have been affected by the notice, are not likely to take it lying down. The Punjab College of Information Technology (PCIT) Managing Director, Mr Harjinder Singh, said the notice of the Registrar was discriminatory in nature and uncalled for. He said both Panjab University and Guru Nanak Dev University had given affiliation to all IT colleges in their jurisdiction and it was only Punjabi University which was quoting a government decision even though the university was an autonomous body.

The Guru Harkrishan College of Management and Technology Chairman Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, said the university had not followed due procedure while releasing the notice saying all single-faculty colleges stood disaffiliated and that they should seek affiliation from Punjab Technical University (PTU). He said the university had not followed its own calendar while releasing the notice. He said the university calendar clearly stated that any case for disaffiliation of an institute first had to be moved in the University Academic Council and then discussed in the Syndicate which was the final authority on the issue. He said, moreover, due notice should have been given to the colleges before issuing any such notice.

As regards seeking affiliation with the PTU, he said the institutes as well as the students were against any such move. Moreover, all institutes had paid endowment and other funds, including continuation fee, affiliation fee and examination fee running into lakhs of rupees to the university and would have to start the process of affiliation afresh if they were to seek affiliation with the PTU.

The institutes, which have decided to form an association to take up their case effectively with the university authorities and the state government, feel that single-faculty institutes could teach IT letter than multi-faculty colleges where the same focus will be missing. They also point out that affiliation was given to them following due inspection and it was also approved by the university Syndicate, Academic Council and various other university bodies.

Meanwhile, the targeted institutes have also questioned the manner in which Punjabi University is running professional courses like the MBA, B.Ed and LL.B in a small “dhaba’’ like building at its Regional Centre in Bathinda and PGDCA, BCA and BMIT courses on rented premises which were earlier used as a warehouse at Jaito.

The colleges which have been affected by the university notice are: the Punjab College of Information and Technology, the Punjab College of Management Technology, the Guru Harkrishan College of Management and Technology, CMT, ICMT, SRE Institute and Sat Guru Institute, all in Patiala, the Desh Bhagat Institute of Management and Computer Science in Mandi Gobindgarh, RCMT, Bathinda, and W C Institute of Management, Dera Bassi, besides a few other Institutes.


Advocate General to decide closure of Punjabi University IT institutes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
The much awaited Punjabi University high-level committee constituted to find a way to close Information Technology institutes on the campus here and at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district saw members flying at each other before finally deciding to ask the Punjab Advocate General to study the matter and make a cancellation draft.

The meeting, which was held on the campus here yesterday after more than a month spent on deciding who would convene it, was attended by all its members, including Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal; Dean (Academics), Prof U. C. Singh, Dean, (Colleges), Dr S. P. S. Virdee, Head, Department of Computer Science, Dr Chandan Singh, and Registrar, Dr K. S. Sidhu.

Sources said the meeting started on an acrimonious note with one faction questioning the very need for calling the meeting to discuss closure of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology (MRSIIT) situated on the campus here and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information and Technology (GGSIIT) situated at Talwandi Sabo. It said there was no written order of the acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr N. S. Rattan, in this regard. The other group contested this claim saying that the Vice-Chancellor had made a categorical order in this regard on the file of the case.

Sources said one member questioned the status of two members on the committee — Dr U. C. Singh and Dr K. S. Sidhu — who had approached the police against the institutes and had also demanded their closure during an agitation led by them during the tenure of former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. Both members, however, went on to target Dr R. N. Pal and Dr S. P. S. Virdee who they said were part of the governing council of an illegal institute.

Both Dr U. C. Singh and Dr Sidhu demanded that they should be shown records of the institutes having been given permission to be set up on the university campus by the varsity Syndicate.

They called for handing over the case of setting up of the institutes to the Vigilance Department, claiming that the functioning of the institutes was questionable. Speaking about the local institute, they said maintenance of its accounts was a mystery and that there was no proper account of the money received by it in the form of fee from the students.

Meanwhile, the only decision taken at the meeting is on referring the case to the State Advocate General, drew controversy. While one group said the Advocate General was being approached to tell ways to close the institutes, the other said the law officer would be asked to prepare a cancellation draft.

Confusion prevailed over the future of the infrastructure set up on the campus here and at Talwandi Sabo. One faction maintained that the MRSIIT would be handed over to the Computer Science Department and the GGSIIT to the Correspondence Courses if the institutes were closed, the other said there was no ambiguity on the issue and a decision to hand these over to different varsity departments had been taken.


PTI faces removal
Selection on basis of unrecognised certificates
Tribune News Service

Mansa, July 12
In an interesting case, the State Education Department has initiated the process of removal of Mr Baldev Singh, Physical Training Instructor (PTI), Khiwa Dyaluwala (Mansa) village, who got himself selected on the basis of certificates not recognised by the Punjab Government.

The district education authorities have been asked to seek clarification from those officials, which included his (Baldev Singh) sister-in-law and former District Education Officer, Mrs Bhupinder Singh Harika, who were allegedly negligent while appointing him.

Official sources said an inquiry conducted by Mr Jagjit Singh Sidhu, Deputy Director (Senior Secondary), on the complaint made by Mr Jugraj Singh, who was also interviewed for the same post by the selection committee, it was found that allegations made against Mr Baldev Singh in the complaint were found correct.

The DEO, Mansa, had also been directed to seek explanation of those officials, who had been found negligent in their duties while appointing Mr Baldev Singh.

According to sources, Mr Baldev Singh was selected as PTI by the Departmental Selection Committee (DSC) headed by his sister-in-law, Mrs Bhupinder Kaur Harika in 1996-97. The diploma certificate was acquired by Mr Baldev Singh from the Muslim Institute of Home Science and Physical Education in 1983-84. The detail marks card of Mr Baldev Singh, which showed that he had passed in first position, had been issued by the Delhi-Madrasa Mayapuri Board of Education while the leaving certificate had been shown as issued by the Muslim Institute of Home Sciences and Physical Education.

Sources said the complainant, Mr Jugraj Singh, had made a complaint to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. However, the Punjab Government appointed Mrs Harika as inquiry officer to conduct a probe into the complaint lodged against herself.

Mr Kishori Lal, Superintendent, District Education Office (Mansa), when contacted, said the process of removal of Mr Baldev Singh from the post of PTI had been started as per rules and regulation.

Mrs Bhupinder Kaur Harika, when contacted, said the Secretary, Education Department, had already held an inquiry into the incident. She said as per the decision of the Supreme Court the writ titled Bhupinder Singh versus State of Punjab, it was ordered to the Punjab Government to give appointments to all those who were selected as teachers for different faculties against the advertisement published in 1996 so the inquiry conducted by Mr Sidhu held no substance in the light of the Supreme Court judgement.

She pointed out that she was deputy DEO when the DSC interviewed the candidates. She added that she was made chairperson as the then DEO suffered a heart attack and went on leave. The combined merit list of selected candidates was made at Chandigarh. She added that certificates of Mr Baldev Singh were not recognised by Punjab Government but they were not fake. Moreover, the complaintant, Mr Jugraj Singh had been facing a criminal case registered against him by Mr Baldev Singh. Mr Baldev Singh was appointed PTI by another DEO, she added.


Romila Dubey is officiating PTU VC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Mrs Romila Dubey, Principal Secretary, Technical Education, has been given additional charge of the post of Vice-Chancellor, Punjab Technical University, it was officially stated here today.

Mrs Dubey thus becomes the second Principal Secretary to hold the additional charge of the post of Vice-Chancellor of a university in the State. Mr N. S. Rattan, Principal Secretary, Higher Education, is holding charge of the post of Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, after the services of previous incumbent, Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, were terminated a couple of months ago.

The state government has set up a three-member search committee to look for a new Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University on the lines of a similar committee set up for selecting new VC of Punjabi University, Patiala. One of the members of the search committee for the PTU Vice-Chancellor is Mr Chander Mohan, a former Chairman-cum-Managing Director of Punjab Tractors Ltd. Two other members of the committee are from New Delhi. Mrs Romila Dubey is convener of the search committee.

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