Thursday, July 25, 2002,
Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress MLA takes Amarinder to task
Utterances on SYL canal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
The war or words between Punjab and Haryana leaders over the SYL canal took a new twist today with Mr Ajay Singh Yadav, Deputy Leader of the Congress in the Haryana Assembly, spewing venom against Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh.

“Mr Amarinder Singh and I may be from the same party but I shall still criticise him for behaving in an immature fashion on the SYL issue”, Mr Yadav told TNS today. The Haryana Congress leader said it did not behove well for the Punjab Chief Minister to say that Punjab would not give even a drop of water to Haryana as it was against the Rajiv-Longwal agreement.

“Both Amarinder Singh and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala are interested in politicisation of the river waters issue,” the defiant Congress MLA said, adding that the worst sufferers of the SYL stalemate had been the people of the southern districts of Haryana who did not get adequate supply of water. “There is enough water in Punjab as well as in Haryana Chief Minister’s home district, Sirsa, and they are not really bothered about the waters issue”, alleged Mr Yadav.

“Amarinder Singh is in a responsible post. He should better restrain himself from making irresponsible statements”, Mr Yadav said. In view of Punjab’s unwillingness to complete the canal, Mr Chautala should try to pave the way for an amicable settlement of the SYL issue by involving the central government.

Mr Yadav also demanded that a compensation of Rs 5000 per acre must be given to the farmers by the state government in view of the draught situation prevailing in the state. A special girdawari must be ordered in the southern districts as the canal network was weak in those areas.


Priests differ over clean chit to Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
Despite Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, having exonerated his former personal assistant and close relative, Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, from charges of receiving a bribe from Baba Dhanwant Singh, Chairman Noor Vishav Ruhani Charitable Trust, as alleged by the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, the Giani Bhagwan Singh head granthi, Akal Takht, has said that the case was pending before the Sikh clergy.

Talking to The Tribune Giani Bhagwan Singh, said Mr Sandhu could not be absolved of the charges yet as the high priests so far had not received a report from Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president SGPC. He said Mr Badungar was busy in religious functions and could not bring the sealed envelope containing the 18-page complaint and five affidavits in today’s meeting.

Activists of the Khalsa Panchayat had alleged that Mr Sandhu had accepted money from Baba Dhanwant Singh who faced charges of rape and consuming liquor at his dera, for awarding him (Baba Dhanwant Singh) a mild ‘tankhah’ (religious punishment).

Meanwhile five Sikh bodies expressed serious concern over the inability of the SGPC chief to submit the evidence of the Khalsa Panchayat to the Sikh clergy today. In a joint statement Prof Jagmohan Singh, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) and Mr Kanwarpal Singh, a spokesperson of the Dal Khalsa said, “we believe that there is absolutely no need to acdept the unreasonable and untenable demand of the Khalsa Panchayat regarding the submission of evidence to a person or committee of their choice.” They claimed that the Khalsa Panchayat did not have the support of crosssection of the Sikhs nor was it in any position to direct the working of Akal Takht. They suggested that the Sikh clergy should treat the non submission of the evidence as an attempt to delay the case which would complicate the matter further resulting in more bad blood within the community and therefore they (Sikh clergy) should decide the case unilaterally on merit without further delay.

The Sikh high priests will meet on August 12 to discuss the matter in the light of the ‘proofs’ submitted by the Khalsa Panchayat.

When asked whether the demand of summoning Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, was taken up for discussion at today’s meeting, Jathedar Vedanti said that many complaints were still pouring in and the matter would be discussed at the next meeting.

Meanwhile, the Sikh high priests today pronounced ‘tankhah’ (religious punishment) on four ‘granthis’ (Sikh priests) for taking holy Guru Granth Sahib at ‘samadhs’ of Baba Rode Shah and Baba Swaran Dass all the four granthis confessed to their guilt and accepted the ‘tankhah’ with folded hands. They are Bhai Baldev Singh and Bhai Gurdip Singh, both residents of village Khehra (Gurdaspur), Bhai Sarbjot Singh, a resident of Bhoma village and Bhai Kashmir Singh, a resident of Verowal village.


Farmers sell cattle, jewellery to buy diesel
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 24
Even as the state government has formed a three-member committee to tackle the drought-like situation and the BKU has been holding dharnas and rallies to resent government agencies, failure in handling the situation, the farmers in the area have alleged that both were wasting time and nobody was coming forward to help them. The farmers of the area have started selling milch cattle and jewellery to purchase diesel for running tractors and tubewells.

The farmers have been dependent on arhtiyas for the past many years and as such most of the farmers have been declared defaulters by different banks as they have not repaid the loans.

The arhtiyas have also started refusing money to the farmers. A number of arhtiyas told this correspondent that they could not take the risk of giving money to the farmers having small holdings. They said that if the present situation prevailed it was possible that both cotton and the paddy crops would be damaged.

The farmers are exploiting every source from which they could secure some money for purchasing diesel. Petrol station owners have also refused to give diesel on credit.

Harbans Singh, a farmer of the district, said he sold his buffalo for Rs 9,000 although its market value was nearly Rs 12,000.

The condition of other farmers is not better than that of Harbans Singh. Gurdial Singh (name changed) of Gobindpura village said with no other option left he had to sell a necklace of his wife for Rs 13,000 although it had cost him Rs 14,000. He alleged that some persons were exploiting the situation and purchasing the jewellery at low prices.

Manjit Singh of Kalyan Sukha, Hazoora Singh of Bath, Bhupinder Singh of Dayalpura, Makahn Singh of Dapali, Waryam Singh of Jida, Karnail Singh of Mehraj and Jasvir Singh of Bhucho villages said the committees formed by the government would not serve any purpose. They would not serve any purpose. They alleged that such committees were mere formalities.

They also rejected the agitation call given by the kisan unions.


Dheera, Sagar miss many names
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Prime accused in the PPSC scam — Randhir Singh Dheera and Prem Sagar — seem to have suffered memory lapses while recording their statements before a local court yesterday, with Dheera forgetting to mention most of the names of candidates whose selections were done through him to the PCS (executive and judicial).

While recording his statement he said he could have forgotten some names because of the time factor.

Randhir Singh Dheera forgot to mention most of the names recorded by him in two statements made under Section 364. He today, mentioned the names of Deepak Gakhar besides other prominent candidates, including Bharat Bhushan and Ranjit Singh, who were recruited to the PCS (executive) and Ramsharan, Rajinder and Preetinder, all of whom were selected for the PCS (judicial). All these names had earlier been mentioned by him.

Sources said only one new name — Anil Kumar Jindal — had appeared in the statement recorded by Randhir Singh Dheera. It said other candidates referred to by him included those who had been nominated to the PCS, including Bhupinderjit Singh, husband-wife team of Pritpal Singh and Balraj Kaur, Tehsildar Gurdev Singh, ETO O.P. Verma, Mr Kahlon and Karnail Singh.

For the post of DSP he has mentioned Mittal of Moga while for the post of BDPO he has mentioned the names of Daljit Singh, Harpreet Singh and Sarvvijay Singh. He has also mentioned the name of one person for the post of Principal of a College besides referring to selections of some lecturers.

In case of Prem Sagar, he too adopted the predictable path, only making disclosures which were already known to the investigating agencies and which he had made in court earlier. Recording his statement yesterday, he mentioned the names of former Ferozepore SSP G.S. Pherurai’s son Gurjit Singh for the post of DSP and his daughter Kuljit Kaur for the PCS (executive), Naresh Kumar for DSP, Monica Sethi for PCS (judicial), Ish Kumar for the post of lecturer and Gursharanveer Singh for the post of DSP.

Their statements will be submitted in the court of the Sessions Judge tomorrow. Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal while earlier directing the court of Ranjit Kumar Jain to record the statements of the accused under Section 306, had stated that the sincerity of the statements of the accused would be examined before they were given permission to turn approvers in the case and be eligible for pardon.


Probe Badal-Sidhu ‘nexus’: Ravi Inder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Urging the Punjab Government to probe the “nexus” between former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, a former Punjab Speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, said today that this aspect had not been touched by government investigating agencies so far.

He said circumstantial and official evidence was available to prove that Mr Badal had a nexus with Sidhu. Facts in this regard should be presented before the people after holding a proper investigation, he added.

He appreciated the campaign against corruption started by Capt Amarinder Singh.

He observed that when Mr Badal became Chief Minister in 1997, he had an unwritten agreement with ministers of the previous Congress government to the effect that they would not be touched by the SAD-BJP government which incidentally was voted to power on the plank of ending corruption. During his five-year rule, Mr Badal did not touch a single corrupt Congress leader, he added. Mr Badal, he said, had the impression that if after his rule, the Congress was voted to power, it would not target his( Mr Badal) men.

However, since Capt Amarinder Singh was not ready to compromise on the corruption issue, “corrupt” ministers of the Badal Government were now facing the music.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh would have to wield the stick against corrupt politicians in his party also as the campaign against corruption could not be a selective one.

He said the bureaucracy should also be taken to task on the corruption issue.

He said Mr Badal had not appointed a treasurer in his party and MLAs used to hand over money (election funds and party enrolment fee, etc) to his personal assistant, Mr Hardip Singh, who was a government employee. It was an illegal arrangement, he alleged.


Ravi Sidhu gets copy of challan
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 24
The court of the Special Judge here today supplied a copy of the challan to Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC). The challan was presented against Sidhu by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the court of the Sessions Judge, Mr J.S. Khushdil, on July 13 here in a corruption case registered against him.

Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, also fixed August 5 for the scrutiny of the challan. In another case the Special Judge extended the judicial remand of Amar Singh, personal assistant to the Vice-Chairman of the Punjab School Education Board, till August 7 in a criminal and corruption case. He was produced in the court of Special Judge here after the expiry of his earlier judicial remand today.


PSERC in a fix about PSEB bailout
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 24
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) is in a fix to bail out the cash-starved PSEB due to the divergent stands taken by various lobbies. The proposals forwarded by the PSEB to the PSERC for revision of power tariff may therefore not be accepted in toto.

Sources in the PSEB said the board had sought a major increase in power tariff, amounting to Rs 2,600 crore, out of which Rs 1,200 crore would come from the agricultural sector, Rs 125 crore by ending free power facility to Dalits, and the rest from industrial and domestic consumers.

The PSEB Engineers Association has also made a strong case for tariff revision and ending free facility before the PSERC. However, the industrial lobby has demanded that there should not be any upward revision in the tariff and farmers have pleaded that free power should be given to them. The Punjab Government may go in for a partial revision in tariff.

A spokesman for the association said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the PSEB to fix the tariff in such a way that it was able to earn a return of 3 per cent on its fixed assets within six months as per the provision of the Indian Electricity Act, 1948.

With delay in the arrival of the rains, the demand of power has increased by 15 per cent from 220 lakh units to 250 lakh units everyday. The PSEB has to purchase extra power from the central sector power companies at market rate.

The PSEB has imposed a 25 per cent cut on the salary of its employees for two months to generate an extra Rs 10 crore to Rs 15 crore.


Cut-throat tonsillitis surgery kills woman
Run-away doctors abandon body
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 24
The report of a post-mortem examination conducted on the body of Saroj Wadhwa, a woman who died in Civil Hospital here during a tonsillitis surgery, showed negligence on part of two doctors who had performed the surgery. The post-mortem examination was conducted in camera by doctors of Patiala’s Rajendra Hospital on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner.

Saroj’s relatives said they feared that doctors here would conceal the real cause of death under pressure from their colleagues. The district police has registered a case under Sections 304-A and 34 of the IPC against the accused doctors.

The Sirhind woman, 35, had died allegedly after the doctors had cut a vein in her throat. When her condition deteriorated in the operation theatre, the doctors sent her relatives to bring refreshments for the staff and took her to the PGI without informing anyone. While the PGI admit card was being prepared, the doctors fled from there, abandoning the woman.

At finding this, the PGI doctors refused to admit the woman and declared her brought-dead. No post-mortem was conducted there and the body was sent to the mortuary. The woman’s relatives alleged that she had died in Civil Hospital here due to a loss of blood caused by the cut.

Meanwhile, Ms Anita Takyar, Municipal Commissioner, has also sought action against the doctors. She also said the woman’s family would be looked after. The viscera from the body has been sent for testing to find out the cause of death.

Some doctors, however, said there was no need for a chemical analysis of the viscera, as the woman had not died of poisoning.


Ex-MD granted loans ‘bypassing rules’
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, July 24
Mr Parmeshwer Singh, a former Managing Director of Punjab State Co-operative Bank, (PSEB), Chandigarh, arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday, had allegedly caused a loss of more than Rs 53 crore to the state, says a press note.

According to the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, Mr A.P. Pandey, ADGP, Mr Parmeshwer Singh, currently posted as Additional Registrar, Cooperative Societies, was booked under Sections 420, 120B, IPC, and Prevention of Corruption Act.

Preliminary investigations showed that Mr Parmeshwer Singh had distributed loans totalling crores to public and private sector units without taking adequate securities. These were disbursed when he was the Managing Director (1998-99) PSCB. Loans were offered to seven companies some of which were still to start production. The loans were granted violating the rules and regulations

A loan of Rs 82.68 crore was given to M/s Heal L Toes Footwears Ltd while Rs 28.28 crore was given to Punwire. The loan to M/s Heal L. Toes Footwears was granted despite the objection of Mr K.S. Pannu, the then Additional MD. Loans to certain other parties were also granted by Mr Parmeshwer Singh, ignoring the remarks of officials of the bank.

KHARAR: Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Parmeshwar Singh, former Managing Director of Punjab State Cooperative Bank, Chandigarh, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday, in police custody till July 29.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecutor, however, pleaded for 14 days’ remand for the accused. He alleged that the accused was the Managing Director of the bank in 1998-99 and had sanctioned loans to seven firms without taking adequate securities from them.

As a result the bank suffered a loss of Rs 53.3 crore. He has been booked under Sections 420 and 120B of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Mr Punn said Parmeshwar Singh had visited Canada thrice and he was yet to be questioned in this regard.

The defence counsel on the other hand refuted the charges that the firms to whom the loans were given belongs to a former MLA of Punjab and police officers and there was no question of receiving any bribe from these persons. The court allowed the defence counsel to meet the accused for an hour daily during the police remand.


‘Convert’ Morcha into Akali outfit
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Observing that the Congress Government in Punjab will not last forever, former Speaker and senior Akali leader Ravi Inder Singh said today that there was need to convert the Panthic Morcha into an Akali outfit as an alternative to the SAD.

Addressing a press conference here, he said efforts had been started by various leaders of the Panthic Morcha to give a practical shape to this concept. Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, convener of the morcha, has been authorised to take the necessary steps in this connection.

The SAD had become a private company of Mr Badal, who for selfish gains had caused a great damage to Akali politics in Punjab. An appeal would be made to honest and dedicated Akali leaders, who were now part of the SAD, to leave Mr Badal and join the rejuvenated new Akali party.

When asked whether former SGPC chief G.S. Tohra would also be a part of the new outfit, Mr Ravi Inder Singh said he had great regards for him and would consult him on this issue. In fact, all constituents, including Mr Tohra, had performed “ardas” to convert the morcha into a political party after the Assembly elections.

Accompanied by Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Mr Ravi Inder Singh said seminars would be organised at Bathinda, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and other important cities to highlight the misdeeds of Badal rule.

He said he was in a position to form a government by removing Mr Badal as Chief Minister about two years ago. “ I had 36 Akali MLAs with me at one stage,” he said. It was Mr Badal who made Capt Amarinder Singh quit the SAD for his vested political interests. One by one, Mr Badal removed all senior Akali leaders as he wanted to perpetuate his family rule in the state.


DMC faculty wants hospital working resumed
Tribune News Service

Chandigharh, July 24
The faculty of Dayanand Medical College (DMC) has expressed keenness that the hospital should start functioning normally at the earliest, suggesting that all cases against the administrators and employees should be withdrawn and a meaningful dialogue between the management and the union started to end the current crisis.

The hospital functioning has been lying paralysed for the past more than 10 days now.

Though the faculty claims that it even tried to reach the Chief Minister with a prior appointment but the meeting could not materialise because of the latter’s non-availability. The faculty members, however, met the state Public Health Minister, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, who assured all help and cooperation.

Talking to TNS members of the faculty maintain that the unfortunate and ghastly events that took place on July 13 have only strengthened the deadlock between the employees and the management. On that day, the employees were peacefully protesting against certain policies of the management but what followed has been described by the media as the “worst bloody carnage”.

The faculty has viewed as a positive step the assurance which the President of the Managing Committee is reported to have got from the Chief Minister after a meeting yesterday over the release of the arrested employees.

“The tussle was between the management and the employees union. The faculty was not involved at any point of time. It does not support the agitation of the employees. Its involvement in the whole episode has been purely on humanitarian grounds and its intentions “to secure the welfare of the employees, particularly the release of employees arrested under frivolous cases and to restore hospital services in the best interests of Ludhiana and its neighbourhood” have been made clear.

The present situation has arisen because of the mishandling of the situation by the management and the district administration. Further, several days after the July 13 police action, claims and counter-claims have been made with reference to certain missing employees.

Of late the police has been successful in locating one missing person. “The faculty is relieved by this development. However, it urges the administration to uncover the mystery regarding other persons claimed to be missing. More importantly, the faculty denounces allegations that it was involved in a conspiracy with an employee who was reported to be missing. All such allegations are false and against the interest of creating an atmosphere conducive for the restoration of hospital services.

Meanwhile, the Punjab State Medical And Dental Teachers Association has also expressed its deep concern over the happenings in DMC, Ludhiana.The association appreciated the DMC faculty for its endeavour to defuse the crisis. The association also condemned efforts of the district administration to implicate doctors in false cases and warned that if action is taken against any doctor, the entire fraternity would rise as one. It also appealed to the Chief Minister to intervene and solve the crisis in the interest of the suffering humanity as well as employees.


DMCH row: IMA writes to CM
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 24
In a communication to the Punjab Chief Minister today, the Indian Medical Association, Punjab, had sought his intervention in resolving the Ludhiana DMCH tussle which had led to its closure after the July 13 incident of violence.

Dr Raman Aggarwal, vice-president of the association, demanded the release of all DMCH workers arrested during the clash between the workers and the police.


Ex-minister ‘threatens’ DFO, Forest staff
Our Correspondent

Sunam, July 24
Mr Ranjit Singh Balian, former Housing Minister Punjab, and his brother allegedly threatened Mr Dharminder Sharma District Forest Officer (DFO) Sangrur, and his staff when the DFO and his staff tried to take the possession of ‘forest inspection hut’ at Kute Khana, Sangrur occupied illegally by Mr Balian.

Mr Sharma said today that Mr Balian occupied the inspection hut for staying there for a few days but he extended the stay there without permission from the Forest Department. Mr Sharma added that Mr Balian had allowed his supporters to stay there instead of himself.

Mr Sharma said furniture and costly items of the Forest Department were lying in the hut so it was necessary to take the possession of the hut. Mr Sharma added that a letter requesting the Deputy Commissioner Sangrur for help was sent in this regard. The district administration appointed an executive magistrate to prepare Panchnama of the items inside the hut.

When officials of the Forest Department were in the hut to take its possession, then Mr Balian, his brother and supporters tried to attack them and threatened them. On this the SSP Sangrur was informed. He sent police force to disperse the mob and to maintain status quo, Mr Sharma added.

Mr Sharma refuted charges of the former Minister that Forest Department officials evicted him from the Forest Inspection hut.

Mr Balian was not available for comments.


Phillaur lawyers up in arms against police
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
An emergency meeting of the general house of the Bar Association, Phillaur, was held there under the chairmanship of Mr Satya Nand Aggarwal. The meeting was called to discuss the situation developing due to a murderous attack on Mr Jatinder Kumar Aggarwal, a member of the Bar Association, Phillaur.

The meeting expressed grave concern over the inaction of the police despite the culprits having already been identified. The bar regretted that the culprits were openly claiming that nobody could harm them since they held considerable influence in the police. All the Bar members condemned the attack on Mr Aggarwal and demanded that the police should arrest the culprits against whom the FIR under Sections 307, 323, 324, 341, 148, 149, 506, IPC, and 25/54/59 of the Arms Act was registered in Haibowal police station, Ludhiana.

Mr Jitender Aggarwal explained that his client had moved a complaint to the High Court which was entrusted to the Jalandhar police for an inquiry. But the Jalandhar police had falsely and against the direction of the court registered a “false and frivolous” case/FIR in the Division No 4, police station, Jalandhar, against Mr Jitender Kumar Aggarwal and his client at the instance of the culprits. The members of the Bar also condemned the role of the Jalandhar police for registering the false case against an advocate. The Bar Association also demanded that the false FIR registered against Mr Jitender Aggarwal be cancelled immediately.

The Bar Association unanimously decided to observe a strike till July 26 in protest against the registration of the false case against Mr Jitender Aggarwal and the murderous attack on him. They demanded that the accused be arrested immediately. They also demanded that security should be provided to Mr Jitendar Aggarwal. The Bar Association, Phillaur, has also appealed the to Bar Association of Ludhiana and Jalandhar to support them.


Truckers oppose industrialists’ decision
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 24
The stage is set for a confrontation in the coming days between members of the Dera Bassi Truck Union and local industrialists over the opening of an office of the Dera Bassi Truck-Tempoo Association here today.

Truckers of this subdivision alleged that the local industrialists had opened the office from where they would ply their vehicles and permit vehicles belonging to other unions, expect the Dera Bassi Truck Union.

Truckers said the industrialists and traders were enjoying political patronage and had started harassing them openly. They alleged that the Punjab Government’s new policies were favouring the business houses and had given a cold shoulder towards their demands.

Members of different truck unions of Patiala district today staged a dharna here in protest against the Punjab Government for an indifferent attitude against various truck unions operating in the state.

The protesters raised ‘anti-government’ slogans and criticised policies of the Amarinder Singh government.

To press their demands, they formed a district-level union, District Patiala Truck Operators Union, and threatened to organise a rally and dharna at the Matka chowk in Chandigarh next month if their demands were not given immediate consideration.

The government had asked the truckers to follow the guidelines framed by the government under the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, and the Punjab Motor Vehicles Regulation Act, 1989.


Tohra let me down, says Bhai Ranjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
Even as Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna has been elected President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) unopposed, Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, has said his group (he has six members in the (DSGMC) will continue to oppose the “arbitrary” approach of Mr Sarna.

Talking to TNS, Bhai Ranjit Singh said he had no option but to support Mr Sarna. Expressing disillusionment, he said it was a matter of concern that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SHSAD President, did not accept the demand that Mr Sarna should not be made the President of the DSGMC. He said Mr Tohra had let him down.

He alleged that both Mr Sarna and Mr Avtar Singh Hit, President of the Delhi unit of the SAD had distributed liquor to woo voters in gross violation of Sikh traditions.


Councillors catch ‘EO’s fraud’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 24
More than 20 councillors of the Sirhind- Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council, in a letter to the Chief Minister and the Local Bodies Minister, have demanded action against the Executive Officer (EO) of the council for allegedly making false notings in the proceedings book. The notings were regarding privatisation of octroi collection.

They alleged that the EO got their signature of attendance on the proceedings book and after the meeting, he added some lines that permitted octroi collection through private contractors. They said it was a major issue in the last meeting and they had opposed it. The issue had not been included even in the circulated agenda, but he managed to add some lines in the proceedings book allowing the move.

They alleged that the EO and the acting president were hand in glove with a particular contractor. They had signed a memorandum against the EO to be submitted to the Chief Minister and the minister concerned.

While talking to Ludhiana Tribune, majority of the councillors said the vice-president had no right to decide on major issues, as he himself was facing a no-confidence motion. They said the EO and the acting president were in a hurry to give octroi collection to a private contractor and they had given a notice in this regard in a vernacular paper on July 23. The date for auction had been mentioned as July 29. They said according to rules a minimum 15-day notice was a must. They said just to avoid opposition the minutes of the meeting had not yet been circulated among members, although it was mandatory to circulate minutes within 48 hours of the meeting. They said the matter of no-confidence motion against the acting president was to be decided on August 1, so he had knowingly fixed the date for giving octroi on contract a day prior to this.

The councillors further said the acting president had constituted a committee to sort out dispute, if any, between the private contractor and the traders in an arbitrary manner and nominated Mr Yash Lahoria as its chairman. They said it was unfortunate that he did not know that the rules and regulations did not permit the formation of any such committee.

Meanwhile, Mr Varinder Rattan, general secretary of the district Beopar Mandal, said a delegation of traders had met the acting president and he had assured that the collection of octroi would not be given on contract. But, in spite of that, he got the resolution passed without including this item in agenda for the reasons best known to him. They demanded the council should reconsider its decision keeping in mind the interests of the traders.


FBI man questions
Abdul Latif
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Mr Ralph Paul Horten, legal Attache of the Embassy of the United States of America (USA), who is also connected with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), today questioned Abdul Latif, an accused in the hijacking of Indian Airlines aircraft IC-814 in the Central Jail here.

According to sources, Mr Horton came here to question Abdul Latif in the hijack case as one American national was travelling in it. The sources said Mr Horton had filed an application through CBI counsel Y.K. Saxena to interview Latif.

Latif, reportedly, declined to speak to the American in the absence of his lawyer, following which Sessions Judge S N Aggarwal allowed his lawyers — Brijinder Singh Sodhi and H V Rai to be at his side during questioning which was done in the room of the Superintendent of the jail.

Mr Horten asked Latif whether he had ever been to Pakistan, Bangladesh or Nepal to which Latif said he had visited only Nepal when he was a child. Latif also denied any knowledge of the kidnapping and later murder of journalist Daniel Pearl or the kidnapping of foreign tourists in Kashmir in 1994. Latif also said he knew nothing about the hijacking of the aircraft IC-814 from Kathmandu to Kabul in December 1999 claiming he had been made a scapegoat by the CBI in the case because he had studied in a madrasa and fitted the description of the accused, the CBI wanted to nab in the case. 


Problems galore in Ferozepore dist: MLA
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 24
Post offices in Ferozepore district have not been supplied revenue stamps for the past three months, while many sub-post offices were not even having postage stamps required in the day-to-day working. Commemorative stamps were never made available in the Malwa region.

Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, said today that the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd might not be able to meet the expectations of customers with regard to private companies. Sign boards offering Internet connections had been displayed at telephone exchanges in the region, but the BSNL was yet to commission its towers. STD services collapse after every second or third day due to malfunctioning of the TAX exchange at Kotkapura, he added.

Regretting that the NDA government had ignored the region regarding the rail services, Mr Jakhar said the Abohar-Fazilka rail link project had not been started despite a provision of Rs 32 crore in the supplementary rail Budget.

Refuting the allegations that the town had suffered in development due to the withdrawal of funds from the sangat darshan accounts, he asked why the former BJP MLA had withheld the release of Rs 40 lakh when the BJP was in power.


On ‘padayatra’ for peace and harmony
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 24
Killing of hundreds of innocent in “riots”, and suicides by several displaced persons later in Gujarat, and killings of several innocent by terrorists in Jammu and Kashmir, inspired Lakshmi Narayan Bhartiya (22), undertake to padayatra from Madhya Pardesh to Kargil in Jammu and Kashmir to spread message of peace and national integration.

Bhartiya, president of the Yuva Shakti Jagriti Manch Lahore of Bhind district Madhya Pradesh, having five brothers and three sisters, asked his father Radhey Shayam, to go on a ‘peace march’. His father gave content after a long discussion with him. He started his “Pedal Shanti March” from his village on June 25 with only Rs 1000/- a national flag in his hands and “nange Paumb”. After one month of his peace march, he reached Phillaur and Phagwara today, after covering Madhya Pardesh, Haryana, Delhi.

He walked about covering 30 km daily. Talking to The Tribune on the GT Road, at Phillaur, he said on roadside he would reach Jammu on August 5. Then he will proceed to Srinagar and Kargil to conclude, his peace march. He will hoist national flag at Kargil.

He wants to wave National Flag through a “para shoot” in somewhere in Kashmir to spread message of peace among citizens of the country. He said that people in all states welcomed him and his “National Flag”.

Bhartiya wants army jawans near the border to boost their morale”. He will cover six states to convey peace message. Bhartiya felt hurt over communal tension in different parts of the country and wanted to work for communal harmony. Bhartiya started fast from today and said that he would continue fast till reaching Jammu.

He refused to wear chappals or shoes even in extreme heat. He claimed that he had Rs 1000 intact as people as different towns helped him. In extreme heat he restarted his march and headed for Jammu.


Survey on number of scavengers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 24
A special survey will be conducted within three months to identify the number of the scavengers and their dependents, in the district, said Mr Ganga Ram Teja, Member of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, while presiding over a meeting to study the socio-economic, living, working and education conditions of the scavengers in the district here today.

He said the Social Welfare Department would prepare a fresh list of scavengers with the help of Executive Officers of Municipal Committees falling in the district and would report after each 15 days to the SDMs concerned regarding the identification of these people. He said that after knowing the authentic number of these people, the Government of India would provide special facilities to these people so that scavengers may live a dignified life in the society.

Mr Ganga Ram Teja said that many beneficiary schemes had also been launched by the Government of India for these down-trodden people of society but due to lack of their exact number they were not getting the facilities. He said that all special component schemes would be reviewed to assess the real situation.

On this occasion Executive Officers Bassi Pathana, Gobindgarh, Sirhind, Amloh and Khamano Municipal Committees told the number of sweepers working in their respective Municipal Committees. Mr Ganga Ram pointed out that the numbers of sweepers in these Municipal Committees were less according to population. He said that five sweepers should be at least for the population of 1000 according to law. He urged all EOs that the strength of sweepers may be enhanced according to population. He also directed the Municipal Committees that uniforms, shoes, masks, gloves may be provided to the sweepers and a medical check up must be ensured within three months so that these people may not suffer any health problem.

Mr Ram Parsad Balmiki, member of the commission, was also present on the occasion. The ADC, Mr VK Ohri, assured that implementation would be done in the same manner and number of sweepers would be enhanced after the sanction by state government. 


Solar lanterns for state villages soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
Every village in Punjab will have a proper streetlight network. A proposal prepared by the Rural Development Department in consultation with the state Planning Department has been cleared by Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, according to informed official sources.

However, it will not be the traditional electricity-based streetlight system. It will be a solar energy-based streetlight system. The plan in over 10,000 villages will be executed by the Punjab Energy Development Agency in collaboration with the Rural Development Department in a phase manner.

Informed official sources said that a high-level committee under Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra has been set up to implement the proposal.

Each village will have 40 solar lanterns, each costing around Rs 3,300. The total cost of the project will be Rs 120 crore as about 4 lakh solar lanterns will be required. The elected panchayat of each village will be asked to contribute 25 per cent of the total expenditure to be incurred on the system in the village concerned.

In the first phase, small villages with a population up to 500 will be covered under the scheme. The number of such village is 38,00. After that villages having population between 500 to 1000 will be covered. And then villages with larger population will be covered. Each lantern will have the capacity to function for four hours. These lights will be used between 7 p.m. and 11 p.m. 


Special road tax opposed
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, July 24
A delegation of the association of affiliated schools of Punjab under the presidentship of Mr Rajinder Sharma along with Mr Manjit Singh Malerkotla, spokesman of the Congress, Punjab, and Mr Sushil Malhotra, general secretary, Youth Congress, met Mr Tej Parkash, Transport Minister, and apprised him of the problems confronting the affiliated schools of Punjab. The associations requested him to exempt the schools from a special road tax charged from affiliated school buses at commercial rate. The Transport Minister assured the delegation to take immediate steps in the matter. He said that a new transport policy was chalked out by the Transport Department in this regard. A high-level committee has been constituted so that the Transport Department could take action on delayed matters.

Dr M.D. Sabharwal, Mr R.S. Bains, Mr R.L. Sewak, Mr Inder Mohan Dutta and Mr Inderjit Malhotra comprised the delegation. The delegation further told Mr Tej Parkash that the buses had only been purchased for the convenience of the students who came from distant places. These schools buses only ply on the roads in the morning and evening. This special road tax on school buses is an extra burden on the parents. The delegation stressed upon the minister to give concession to school buses.


4 PSSSB officials sent to police remand
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 24
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded four former member of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board namely Manuwar Masih, Ashoke Loomba, Jarnail Singh and Virsa Singh Valtoha in police custody till July 27 and one another member Kulbir Singh Randhawa in judicial custody till August 3.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecuter and Mr Jaspal Jassal (DSP vigilance) pleaded for a police remand of five days for all accused.

Mr Punn alleged that Virsa Singh had purchased a house worth about Rs 8 lakh in Amritsar and Ashoke Loomba had purchased two cars. He alleged that Manuwar Masih had purchased a plot for Rs 6.83 lakh in SAS Nagar.

Jarnail Singh had purchased 25 per cent shares in a sugar mill. He pleaded for police remand as information was yet to be collected from them about the above mentioned investments.

The defence counsel refuted the charges and opposed the demand of police remand. Meanwhile, members of the BJP, SAD and Christian Front staged a dharna outside the Judicial Complex and raised anti-Punjab Government slogans.


Non-bailable warrants against PSSSB ex-chief
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 24
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, here today issued non-bailable warrants against Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu, former Chairman of Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, and former member Parkash Singh Garhdiwal for August 1.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, informed the court that a case had already been registered against the accused on July 12 at SAS Nagar but they could not be arrested.

Meanwhile, the court also gave permission to open two lockers of Jarnail Singh, a former PSSSB member, and his family in a bank in Phagwara and ordered that the list of all goods recovered should be submitted in the court on July 27.


SAD to revamp media network
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 24
The SAD has decided to revamp its media network by inducting the youth in to it.

To achieve this objective, SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal camped here for two days and held talks with party workers and leaders of Jalandhar and Kapurthala, apart from appointing his loyalist and youth Akali leader. Daljit Singh Cheema as the party’s press secretary.

Mr Badal asked the party workers to mobilise people, particularly in the rural areas, and make them aware about the “anti-people” policies of the Congress government.

Sources said the appointment of Dr Cheema, who was shunted out of the SAD after he contested the Sri Hargobindpur Assembly segment as an Independent after being denied party ticket, was achieved by Mr Badal’s former OSD, Harcharan Bains.

Dr Cheema said he had been instructed by Mr Badal to tour the state and assess the possibility of setting up a vast media network.


Harike barrage water level up
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, July 24
The water level at the Harike barrage improved considerably today due to rain in Ropar and Ludhiana districts in the past several days. However, it is still short of the requirement for irrigation purposes in Punjab and Rajasthan.

Mr V.K. Matrao, Superintendent Engineer of the Ferozepore division, said the outflow of water from the barrage today was 17,238 cusecs as compared to an average of 15,000 cusecs last week.

“The situation has considerably improved as compared to the past few days but the actual requirement of water for irrigation purposes in the Ferozepore division and Rajasthan is estimated at around 22,000 cusecs. The situation is expected to further improve in the coming days with rain in the catchment areas of the Ravi and Satluj, he said.

He said 9,150 cusecs had been released to Rajasthan today. This accounted to 58 per cent of the total water released from the barrage as per an agreement signed between the two states.


Declare all water accords null and void, govt urged
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 24
Giving a new twist to the river waters issue, the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO) has urged the state government to table a motion in the Assembly to ‘‘declare all accords on the waters signed with neighbouring states null and void to safeguard the rights of the people of Punjab’’.

The NGO, along with other outfits like the Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal), the Bharti Kisan Union (Rajewal), the Sikh League, the Panthic Akali Dal, the Ex-servicemen League, the Dal Khalsa, the Punjab Sikh Lawyers Council, the Akal Federation and the International Sant Khalsa Foundation, while appreciating the firm stand taken by Capt Amarinder Singh also decried the ‘‘instigating ’’ statements made by the Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala on the issue.


Kiran Dhawan denied bail second time
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 24
Application for bail of Ms Kiran Dhawan, Deputy Director, Social Security, Women and Child Development, Punjab, was rejected today by the Sessions Judge, Mr Maghar Khan, here. Ms Dhawan is an alleged accused in the Junior Engineers’ recruitment scam in the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab.

This was the second bail application, moved by Ms Dhawan on June 17 last. Her earlier application for bail was rejected on May 20.

The Judge also adjourned consideration of the bail application of Jathedar Tota Singh, MLA from Moga and a former Punjab Education Minister, to July 29 in a case, registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar.

Consideration of Jathedar Tota Singh’s bail application was adjourned due to the non-production of police record by the Vigilance Bureau in the case.


Ex-MLA’s bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 24
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, Ropar, today rejected the anticipatory bail application of Daljit Kaur, a former MLA from Kharar and senior SHSAD leader, in a case registered against her by the Morinda police for harassing her daughter-in-law for bringing insufficient dowry.

The police has registered the case under Sections 406 and 498-A of the IPC on the directives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The petition was filed by Harinder Kaur, daughter-in-law of Daljit Kaur.


PSEB staff resent salary cut move
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 24
The proposal of the Punjab State Electricity Board to deduct 25 per cent of the salaries of employees, which would be deposited in their GPF, has spread a wave of anguish among the employees of the local thermal plant. Showing resentment against the decision, they held a rally here today.

Members of the GNDTP Employees Thermal Federation said the salary cut would prove a blow to their financial position. They said the move would affect the efficiency of the workers.


PSWC employee killed in mishap
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 24
Chaman Lal Sharma of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) died on the spot when his scooter went into a skid today. He was coming from Batala after an inspection.

In another accident near Jungal, three persons identified as Sandeep Salaria and Shubh Singh, residents of Dodwan village, and their servant Amarjit Singh of Mahal in Amritsar district died on the spot when a truck loaded with marble fell on them.


Foodgrain stocks’ verification ordered
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 24
The Punjab government has ordered physical, chemical and weight verification of foodgrain stocks in the state. All Deputy Commissioners have been made chairmen of the committees formed to verify stocks in their respective districts.

Verification implies the counting of bags in godowns, analysing quality of foodgrains and ascertaining quantity of foodgrains in bags.

Sources told The Tribune that verification of foodgrain stocks was being done for submitting a status report to the Government of India. There have been reports of theft and rotting for foodgrains in godowns.

The state government has directed the formation of committees under the SDM’s and DFC’s to verify stocks of foodgrains.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain admitted that the government had ordered verification of foodgrains in the district 


Punjab postings, transfers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 24
The following postings and transfers were ordered in Punjab today.

Mr Himmat Singh goes as Resident Commissioner, Punjab at New Delhi and will also coordinate the schemes of the Rural Development Department vice Mr A. Didar Singh.

Mr A. Didar Singh, is now Secretary, Department of Health and Family Welfare. He will also look after work of the post of Project Director, Punjab State AIDS Control Society, Chandigarh, according to an official press note. 


Gang of car thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, July 24
The Amargarh police has arrested three persons and recovered three stolen cars from them.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, DSP, Dhuri, in a press note issued here yesterday, said the gang used to steal cars from Delhi and sell these in Punjab by preparing fake documents and registration numbers.

The car thieves have been identified as Jatinder Singh, alias Goldy of Bhalwan village, Jarnail Singh, alias Jaila of Guara village and Sukhchain Singh, alias Chanchal of Satirwala village.

A case under Sections 420/467/468/471/120B/379/411 of the IPC has been registered against the three.

In another case the Amargarh police seized a country-made pistol from Jagdeep Singh of Mehmadpur village.


53 bonded child labourers rescued
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 24
As many as 35 bonded child labourers, aged between nine and 15 years, working with different jewellers in Guru Bazar were rescued here last evening. Fifteen persons were arrested in this connection.

The search for livelihood brought them to the holy city all the way from West Bengal. Some were even suspected to be Bangladeshis. Most of these children were brought on the pretext of getting them employed on attractive salaries, but on coming here they were forced to do cheap labour, apart from being subjected to physical and mental torture.

It is also learnt that these children were also being used for smuggling gold, diamond and other precious stones in the Guru Bazar area.

A crying Mustkin (12) said his employer Rabial mercilessly beat him up everytime he failed to prepare the food in time, he said he was brought by Rabial two years ago and used to work in a jewellery shop and in the house for just Rs 10 a week.

Ram Khilawan (10) had a similar story to tell. He was brought here by his maternal uncle. He recalled how he was severally beaten up when he broke a glass by his employer.

Other children who were rescued by the police were Khagan (14) from Kolkata, Manyal (12) and Billa, (15).

Those arrested were Abdul, Nasir, Shahjahan, Shekh Mujibudeen, Bapi, Naseerudin, Sukumar, Shakti, Sham Sunder, Somnath, Nirmal Dinesh Kumar, Rabial and Joharwan.

A case has been registered undersection 26 of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, section 14 of the Child Labour Act, 1986, and various sections of the IPC.


Contract killer, 7 accomplices held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 24
The district police has arrested a proclaimed offender and contract killer, Seetal Singh, resident of Daduwal village near Mahilpur along with his seven accomplice.

Mr Rohit Chaudhry, DIG, Jalandhar police range, at a press conference here today stated that a police party arrested them after an exchange of fire on the Phagwara road. The others have been identified as Manjit Singh of Rasulpur, Balkar Singh of Dhadde Majra, Sukhwinder Singh of Jandi, Jaswinder Singh of Shamchaurasi, Satwant Singh of Theppal, Onkar Singh of Lakhpur Sahni and Hardeep Singh of Harshi.

Three country-made pistols, one 12-bore gun, 129 cartridges, a Yamaha motor cycle, a Maruti van and three mobile phones have been recovered from them.

Four accomplices of Seetal Singh escaped during the exchange of fire. A constable was also injured in the firing.

UNI adds: According to the DIG, a naka had been laid on the canal bridge on the outskirts of Bhungane village. The police party signalled a car and a motor cycle to stop, adding that the occupants of the two vehicles opened fire on the police party.

The DIG claimed that a back-up police party surrounded the gang and forced it to surrender.


Woman rescued from kidnappers’ clutches
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 24
The police yesterday evening recovered a newly married woman Surjit Kaur, a resident of Nurpur Hakiman village in Moga district after 72 hours of her abduction.

The SSP, Mr Major Singh, said here today that Surjit Kaur was married only three days ago with Jaswant Singh of a nearby village. She was kidnapped by four car-borne miscreants when she was going to her village with her husband. Although her husband raised the alarm no one came to help him.

The SSP said on a tip off the police rushed to spot and chased the car and overpowered the four occupants. They were later identified as Kuljit Singh, alias Ladoo, Kulwant Singh, alias Kanta, Jaspal Singh alias Jessa, and another person.

A case has been registered against them under Sections 366/506/341, 120 of the IPC.


Challan against Bhaniarawala followers
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 24
The local police has presented a challan against three followers of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala — Dilbag Singh, Seetal Singh and Nachattar Singh — in the court of Mrs Preeti Sahni, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, in connection with a case registered against them under Sections 295A, 153A and 504, IPC, on October 7, 2001. The court fixed the next date of hearing for August 28.

The police had arrested the accused for keeping “Bhav Sagar Granth” of Baba Bhaniarawala which had been by the Punjab Government.


Suicide case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 24
Rajni (21) committed suicide by allegedly hanging herself at the local Prempura Mohalla today. Her parents were alleging foul play. The police has rounded up Rajesh Kumar, husband of the victim, Gurdial Atwal, father-in-law, and Shakuntla, mother-in-law.


Teachers to be appointed on contract
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 24
Punjab Education Minister Khushal Behl said today that teachers would be appointed on a consolidated basis whenever there was a shortage of staff in the State.

Addressing a ‘’sarv sikhya abhiyan’’ function at the anaj mandi here, the minister said there were reports that certain schools in the rural areas were suffering on account of lack of teachers. He said primary and middle schools which did not have buildings of their own would be given financial aid by the government.

He said Rs 129 crore was being spent in the first phase of the programme which would continue till 2010 with the help of Central assistance. He said committees had also been set up for the purpose.


Varsity dept without teachers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 24
With its classes slated to resume in a week’s time, the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies of Punjabi University here is conspicuous by the absence of teaching staff.

Of the three teachers belonging to the department, Prof R.N. Mishra is scheduled to retire on July 31, Reader Rakesh Dutta has proceeded on long leave and is not expected to return having taken up a new appointment in Chandigarh and Prof K.S. Sidhu is presently the Acting Registrar of the university.

The department had announced August 1 as the date for its classes to begin. However, when teaching will resume remains to be seen as no fresh appointment for teaching staff has been made so far.


Varsity students block traffic
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 24
Students of Guru Nanak Dev University today blocked traffic on the Amritsar-Wagah road for more than three hours in protest against the “high-handed” manner of security men. The police was called to clear the traffic.

Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, said trouble started when some securitymen objected to the presence of certain students near the hostel for girls last evening. The students burnt the effigy of the Chief Security Officer and decided to stage a dharna tomorrow.

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