Saturday, July 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Minister given birthday bash
Officials, Cong leaders line up to offer gifts
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, July 26
Scores of top bureaucrats and senior Congress leaders of the district, including the Mayor of the Jalandhar Municipal Corporation, Mr Surinder Mahey, today lined up to offer gifts to the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, on his birthday at the bash celebrated in Milap Bhavan here this evening.

The minister, who turned 69 today, must have been pleased by the big arrangements for his birthday bash, unmindful of the fact that he was violating the instructions of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, that no wasteful expenditure be incurred on the entertainment of the ministers during their official visits or that officials should not be forced to pay bills for such functions. A visit to the party by this correspondent revealed that 12 safai sevaks of the Municipal Corporation were busy cleaning the approach roads to the venue and colourful flags were being erected around the function spot to welcome the honourable minister.

As soon as Chaudhary Jagjit Singh reached the venue around 6 p.m., councillors and senior bureaucrats of the district rushed towards him to greet him. The officers, including the Deputy Director of the Local Bodies Department, Mrs Sarojini Gautam, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), Mr Bains, SDM, Mr Mohinder Chaudhary, Commissioner of the Municipal Corporation, Mr Jagjit Singh, and other senior functionaries of the civic body, local Improvement Trust and Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board were seen eager to offer gifts and bouquets and congratulate the minister on his birthday.

A senior functionary of the civic body, it was learnt, ordered the organisation of the birthday bash and the palace owner was allegedly asked not to charge anything for the function.  Meanwhile, the president of the district unit of the BJP, Mr Subash Sood, criticised the minister for allegedly forcing the officials to his birthday party. “The birthday should be a personal affair and members of the public should not be expected to pay for the entertainment of the minister. It has exposed the double standards adopted by the Congress regime while dealing with the prevailing fiscal situation in the state,” Mr Sood added.


Punjab BJP leaders call on Advani
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 26
The Punjab BJP has accused the Congress government in the state of politically victimising its leaders.

In a representation to Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, state BJP leaders said the Congress government in Punjab had created an atmosphere of terror among the people, including government servants, in the name of anti-corruption movement.

The leaders, who met Mr Advani today, said the corruption had been bred by the Congress which ruled the country for five decades. They said in the past five months the Amarinder government had adopted vindictive methods to tarnish the image of the BJP-Akali government.

Citing the arrest of BJP leader Ashok Loomba, they alleged that political opponents were being targeted and the police was using rough methods to extract confessions. They claimed that some leaders were being framed on the basis of statements made under duress by those arrested.

Pointing out that Mr Loomba belonged to a well-respected family of Ludhiana, the BJP leaders demanded that the case against him might be withdrawn and the “state government directed to stop framing cases for political vendetta.’’


Dusty conditions stunt growth of crops
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
The absence of rainfall in this region has given rise to a new problem. Continuous dry winds over the past several days have been depositing a layer of sand on standing crops, thereby affecting their growth by restricting intake of air and sunlight.

Large tracts of land across southern Punjab supporting kharif crops have been hit by the adverse climatic condition. A visit to the fields reveals a thick layer of dust and sand settled on paddy and cotton crops, which is adding to farmers’ fear of having a fruitful yield.

Agriculture specialists say that for over a week now, the air has been heavily laden with sand and dust particles. “This layer of sand clogs pores on leaves, thereby affecting the air intake as well as reducing the ability to trap sunlight for photosynthesis,” a source in the Agriculture Department commented.

Normally, such dust is washed off by rains, but this has not been the case this year as the monsoon has failed to arrive in this region so far. Though such dust-like conditions are not uncommon, under normal climatic conditions these are usually followed by rain within 24 hours.

Due to the absence of moisture, dry winds pick up sand and particles from the adjoining areas following pressure differences. These continue to hang around for a long time. The hazy condition is particularly severe in the morning, with visibility in some areas being reduced to as low as 500 metres. If the moisture content in the air is high, as during normal monsoons, such conditions are not formed.

The problem is more in areas where there is little or no standing water in the fields. In some areas where standing water is available in fields for cultivating paddy, moisture condensing on leaves during the night provides a little succour, but things are back to square one the next morning.

Lack of rain has seriously affected the paddy crop and to some extent, the cotton crop in this region. Already 340 acres of standing paddy crop and about 20 acres of cotton crop have been ploughed by farmers in this region, as there was inadequate water supply to irrigate the fields.

Agriculture experts, while confirming that the growth of crops has been adversely affected by the dusty conditions, fear that consequently the yield would be lower. Further, the present weather conditions, leading to high temperatures and unsuitable humidity conditions, have also started to affect the roots of the paddy crop.


Distressed farmers may take extreme step: forum
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 26
The Social Sciences and Health Forum, Punjab, has cautioned that Punjab farmers are once again in dire straits and unless drastic steps are taken to implement large-scale crop diversification a tragedy similar to what happened in the cotton-growing areas of the state in 1998-99 is imminent.

A spokesperson of the forum, Mr Pawan Kumar Harchandpuri, stressed that the paddy-wheat crop cycle was not in accordance with the weather conditions in Punjab and due to excessive expenditure and huge loans taken by farmers on non-viable paddy crop the farmers of the region had been caught in a debt trap.

He said frustrated by the delay in monsoons poor electricity supply, inability to use motor pumps, falling water level in Ranjit Sagar Dam and canals there were reports that farmers were ploughing standing crops of paddy in Bathinda, Sangrur and other places.

Admitting that the situation warrants immediate intervention of the authorities concerned Gurmeet Singh Dittupur, general secretary, Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) said unless action was taken now the eco-system of the land might be damaged.

Mr Jagmohan Singh, organising secretary, BKU, said the government should take concrete steps to guarantee support for diversification by ensuring minimum support price, procurement by government agencies and processing of the diversified crops opted by the farmers. He added that the government should also protect the diversified produce against the dumping of agricultural products by developed countries in the Indian market and impose 300 per cent import duty on these products.


Non-bailable warrants against PPSC examiner
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
In an important development in the PPSC recruitment scam, a local court today issued non-bailable warrants against Prof Jaspal Singh, an English teacher at Budhlada Government College, following a plea by the state Vigilance Department that he was needed with FIR number 24 in which cases have been registered against suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and others.

Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Ranjit K. Jain issued the non-bailable warrants against Prof Jaspal Singh which are returnable till August 24.

Vigilance Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaipal Singh had earlier submitted through an application that the department had found irregularities in papers marked by the English teacher during scrutiny of answersheets of candidates who had taken the PPSC examinations. The application said that cuttings and over-writings had been done in some papers and that the department wanted to question him in this regard as well as other facets covered in FIR number 24 registered against Sidhu, his family members and other examiners.


Sidhu case: Punjab issued notice
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 26
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, here today issued notice to Punjab for July 27 in an application moved by the counsel of Gurdeep Singh Manchanda who was arrested by the Vigilance on the charge of sending money belonging to Ravi Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the PPSC, abroad through hawala transactions for granting bail.

The counsel in the bail application has stated that the accused was in custody since July 13 and next date of production in judicial custody before the court is August 1.

He has stated that no recovery was involved in the cases registered against him. He has appealed that the accused should be ordered to be released on bail.

PATIALA: All accused in the PPSC recruitment scam, including suspended Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, former Commission Secretary Pritpal Singh, Paramjit Singh Pammi and examiners Prof Gurpal Singh and Dr Jagdish Karla were on Friday supplied with copies of the chargesheet filed against them by the Vigilance Department in the Sessions Court.

District and Sessions Judge also ordered that the scrutiny of the challan would be done on August 9. Disposing off another application filed by Sidhu’s advocate Sahib Singh Dhindsa, the judge allowed him to meet Sidhu for one hour privately whenever he was brought to the court here for a hearing.

Meanwhile, a demand made for provision of the copies of the statements made by Randhir Singh Dheera and Prem Sagar was also adjourned till August 9.


Ahluwalia case: police rapped for tacky probe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
Tacky investigation by the local police may cost the prosecution dear in the Saru Rana case in which the ousted Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, is accused of attempting to rape the Fine Arts Department student.

The Patiala police had registered a case of attempt to rape against Dr Ahluwalia and few others, including Fine Arts Department Head Dr Saroj Rani, department former technical assistant Jaspal Singh and research scholar Amandeep Kaur in February this year.

Now it seems that the investigating authorities have not been able to buildup their case against the former Vice-Chancellor and the other accused if one is to go by the views of the Patiala District Attorney's office. The office has rapped the Investigating Officer with regard to cases against both Dr Ahluwalia and research scholar Amandeep.

With regard to the Ahluwalia case it has clearly stated that there is no ''cogent and tangible evidence of attempt to rape. It has also pointed out that the prosecution did not get Saru subjected to any medical test. It caps off by saying ''This is a very weak case".

In the same case, it has referred to the statement of Saru claiming that some girls had already left the department due to “illegal” behaviour of the former Vice-Chancellor. It said though the question of recording the statement of these girls was raised it was not done by the Investigating Officer who said another girl in her statement had stated that the former Vice-Chancellor had approached the parents of the girls due to which there was no need to record their statements.

The view say that the only evidence on the base of which the offences under Section 376 and 511, IPC have been added is the statement of Mrs Sultana Begum, Saru's mother. Mrs Sultana Begum in her statement has come on record that the former Vice-Chancellor had tried to rape Saru on January 30 this year.

The District Attorney's office came down even more heavily on the investigating authorities in its view on the case against Amandeep Kaur, the research scholar, who is also an accused in the case. It has said the chances of success of the case were bleak and that ''the I.O. has built a case on sandy foundation which is bound to demolish.'' It goes on to add that ''it is just amounting to flogging a dead horse'', it adds. However it says that in view of the seriousness of the circumstances the challan should be put up in court for trial.


Langah case: notice to Punjab on counsel’s plea
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 26
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, here today issued a notice to the state of Punjab for July 27 on an application moved by the counsel of Mr Sucha Singh Langah, former PWD Minister, for curtailing the police remand of Mr Langah, who was remanded in police custody till July 30 by the same court.

The counsel wrote in his application that the court had allowed him to meet Mr Langah between 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. every day at the police station, Phase VIII, SAS Nagar, in its order dated July 25. But when the two counsel went to meet Mr Langah he was not available and they were told that he had not been taken to the office of the Vigilance Bureau office, Chandigarh.

When the counsel contacted the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance Bureau, on telephone he was told that it would take time to bring him to SAS Nagar.

The counsel waited till 7.45 p.m. and returned without meeting his client. In the application he wrote that the court order had been violated as the suspect was taken to Chandigarh without the court’s permission. He added that the accused was being interrogated till late hours, which was against the law.


Withdraw cut in salary: PSEB staff
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 26
Hundreds of members of the Employees’ Federation of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) took part in a rally held at Shakti Sadan here today in protest against the recent decision of the PSEB authorities to impose 25 per cent cut in their salaries.

The president of the federation, Mr Lakhbir Singh, alleged that the Congress government was pursuing anti-employees’ policies. “The recent order is nothing but clear violation of Article 360, according to which no cut can be imposed in salaries before announcing financial emergency in the state,” he added.

He further alleged that the board authorities instead of initiating strict action against the defaulters had made a scapegoat of employees which was highly deplorable. They demanded that the orders should be withdrawn by July 29 otherwise a statewide agitation would be launched.

The employees alleged that the Congress government was pursuing the policies of the World Bank under the garb of fiscal management exercise.

Phagwara: At least 600 PSEB employees of the local Division struck work and staged a demonstration in front of the complex of the SDM Courts on Thursday. They presented a memorandum to new SDM Pritam Singh against decision of the PSEB to impose 25 per cent cut on employees’ salary.

Tarn Taran: Hundreds of power men organised a rally on Friday in protest against the management of the board for the decision to deduct 25 per cent of their salary.

Mr Gurdev Singh Pannu, Mr Tara Singh Khehra, Mr Jagtar Singh Uppal, Mr Surinder Pal , Mr Gurpreet Singh and other leaders of the employees also addressed the rally.

The local circle unit of the council of junior engineers of the PSEB also organised a dharna here yesterday in protest against their transfers on alleged political grounds.


TSU not to accept reduced salaries
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 26
After employees of the thermal plant at Lehra Mohabat decided not to accept their pay with a cut, members of the Technical Services Union (TSU) of the PSEB today said that they would not withdraw their salaries till the 25 per cent cut in their salaries is withdrawn.

The decision was taken after a rally held in the city by the employees to show resentment against the decision of the government to cut in their pay. They said that they could not accept the reduced pay.

Employee leaders alleged that they had been made scapegoat in the name of reducing expenses of the PSEB. They said the Congress government was harassing the employees.

Mr Resham Kumar, a TSU leader, said the financial crunch in the PSEB was due to the wrong and populist policies of the government and management and the employees were not responsible for the crisis.

The TSU would launch an agitation on July 29, in which employees of other unions of the PSEB and the thermal plant would also participate.


4 students get life term in murder case

Sangrur, July 26
Four students of a college were sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment by a local court which held them guilty of murdering their college fellow in 1997 at Bardwal Degree College in the district.

Additional Sessions Judge Sudarshan Modi awarded the sentence to Jagtar Singh, Rajinder Singh, Amit and Gurmeet Singh while the fifth accused Ranjit Singh died during the trial.

According to the prosecution, there was an ego clash between the deceased and the accused to become the “kingmaker” in the college during the election to the president’s post of the College Students Union. On the day of the incident, when a student was distributing sweets in the college canteen to celebrate the marriage of his sister, the accused came in a car armed with sharp-edged weapons and murdered Gurlal Singh, alias, Lali on December 17, 1997. PTI


Docs give death, not certificate
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 26
Mr Naresh Wadhwa, husband of Veena Wadhwa, a woman who was killed during a tonsillitis surgery in Civil Hospital here, is a harassed man. The hospital has refused to issue him his wife’s death certificate and told him get it from the PGI. The PGI authorities told him to obtain it from Civil Hospital here.

The Civil Hospital authorities say that the woman had died in the PGI and not in this hospital. The PGI authorities said the woman had been declared brought dead and never admitted, so, a PGI certificate could not be issued. Even the post-mortem examination was not conducted in the PGI.

Till today, the Civil Hospital authorities have not reported the woman’s death to the Registrar of Births and Deaths. The man said this was because his wife had died due to negligence on part of doctors.

When contacted, Dr Bansal, acting SMO of the hospital, said the man should go to the PGI for the certificate and refused to say anything further.

Meanwhile, various social welfare organisations have urged the local health authorities not to harass the man any further.

Mr R.N. Sharma, president of the Citizens’ Welfare Council here, and Mr Varinder Takyar, a social worker, said if the authorities did not change their behaviour, there would be protests.


Punjab staff leaders’ meeting with govt today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (INTUC) has opposed the participation of trade union leaders, who are not in government service, in tomorrow’s meeting convened by the state government to buy peace with agitating employees. The meeting was earlier to be held today.

The Punjab Chief Minister, four of his Cabinet colleagues, Chief Secretary and other senior officers are scheduled to participate in the meeting on behalf of the government. About 50 representatives of various employee unions have been invited to attend the meeting. Mr Roshan Lal Goel, general secretary of the federation, said only those trade union leaders, who were in government service, should be allowed to attend the meeting.

There are 15 demands of employees enlisted on the agenda. Mr Goel said there was little hope of any positive outcome. The employees were not prepared to compromise on certain issues. They would like the government to give them bonus, promotional scales after four, nine and 14 years of service, increase the medical allowance to Rs 500 and withdraw the decision to freeze DA for the current financial year.

Mr Goel said there was no use of holding discussions on the issues that were settled at a meeting of the joint consultative machinery on August 1 last year. These decisions along with the promises made by the ruling party with employees before elections should be implemented without delay. He said employees had decided to celebrate August 15 separately and not to participate in government functions.


Roof collapse: one killed, 2 hurt

Jalandhar, July 26
One person died and two were injured seriously today when roof of a building under construction collapsed in the Central Town area.

The incident occurred in the afternoon, when a few labourers were working on the construction site and suddenly part of the roof collapsed, police sources said adding that the police and Fire Brigade officials reached the spot and rescued three persons from the debris and removed them to the local Civil Hospital.

One person identified as Suresh was declared brought dead and others namely Jai Ram and Bahadur received serious injuries. They were stated to be out of danger, the police said. A case against the contractor of the building Jagdish Kumar has been registered. PTI


Northern Rly XEn booked by CBI
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
An Executive Engineer of Northern Railway, presently posted at New Delhi, has been booked by the CBI for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

CBI sleuths today conducted raids at the Patiala house of Executive Engineer, Jagtar Singh and seized documents pertaining to five properties — three at Patiala and one each at Noida and Delhi. Sources in the CBI said the evaluation of documents seized during the raid at his house revealed the properties were priced at Rs 90 lakh against his known sources of income.

The Executive Engineer has two children who are studying abroad. The property was reportedly amassed between 1989 and 1996, said the sources. The officer is yet to be arrested and teams have reportedly been sent to Delhi in this regard. A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.


Tension prevails among truckers, traders
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 26
Tension prevails between members of the Dera Bassi Industrial Association and members of the Dera Bassi Truck Operators Union over opening of the office of the Dera Bassi Truck-Tempo Association here on Wednesday.

Though the local administration claims to have acted as per the government directions and maintains that the law and order situation is under control, residents of the area say that the tension may take a violent turn any time.

The industrialists alleged that the truck union was charging exorbitantly from the customers and were even restraining them from hiring trucks from outside. Moreover, ignoring the benefits and losses of the industrialists they were also plying the vehicles according their will.

They further claimed that the trucks being hired by the industrialists were being restrained by the truckers from transporting the goods of local industrialists causing them huge losses.

Members of the newly formed Dera Bassi Truck-Tempo Association claimed that they would procure vehicles from transporters in Chandigarh and nearby cities for transportation purposes.

Meanwhile, Mr Gurcharan Singh Pappu, president of the Dera Bassi Truck Operators Union, claimed that they would object against the local industrialists for hiring vehicles from other truck unions or using private vehicles. He however, made it clear that the vehicles owned by the local industrialists would be permitted to transport the goods.

Truckers of this area alleged that the local industrialists had opened the office from where they would ply their own vehicles and permit vehicles belonging to other unions except the Dera Bassi Truck Union. This would hit the livelihood of thousands of truckers.


Rickshaw-puller returns bag with Rs 30,000
Balraj Mahajan

Batala, July 26
A rickshaw-puller, Jaswant Singh, son of a granthi of Mula-Sunaiya village found a bag lying at the local bus stand at 9 a.m. yesterday. He tried to search for its owner but in vain. He opened the bag and found Rs 30,000 in cash, an Army fatigue and five bottles of liquor.

He handed over the bag to the police in the presence of five witnesses.

The policemen on duty reportedly offered money to the poor rickshaw-puller and asked him to “forget” about the whole thing, to which he declined.

When this correspondent talked to Mr Narinder Kumar Bedi, DSP, City he was informed that the Army man who had left his bag at the Batala bus stand had been identified. He was a resident of Behrampur near Dinanagar in Gurdaspur district. Mr Bedi said a policeparty had been sent to the village to contact Mr Sukhwinder Singh and to inform him about his lost bag.

Mr Shambu Sharma, president, Anti-Corruption and Human Rights Safety Council, Punjab, has urged the administration to recommend the name of the rickshaw-puller for an award on the Independence Day for honesty.


3 more testify in Harpreet case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
Two PCO owners of Chandigarh and one of their employees today testified in the Harpreet death case saying that Harpreet used their PCOs to avail of the STD facility.

The owners, Achint Nand and Bachan Singh, and the latter’s employee, Ms Anju, testified in the court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge S. P. Bangar. 


Arrest culprits, say Muslims
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 26
A meeting of the Intzamia Committee of Noori Masjid, Noori Colony, Shampura village, near here, held under the presidentship of Mr Abdul Rashid Noori, Imam of the Masjid, today urged the police to arrest the persons who allegedly “attacked” the Masjid yesterday to take forcible possession of the land on which a large number of Muslims are residing.

Mr Noori exhorted the Muslims to maintain peace. He said the Ropar Deputy Commissioner had assured a deputation of the Muslims that they would get justice.

He also asked the police authorities to make arrangements for the safety of their life and property.


Ban on Nepalese association flayed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 26
The Revolutionary Centre, Punjab, has condemned the imposition of ban on the Nepalese Unity Society (NUS).

Mr Mukhtiar Singh, president of the centre, said the ban was an attack on the democratic rights of the Nepalese people, who had been residing in India for a longtime. He said the ban was uncalled for as the association was merely trying to get some benefits for the Nepalese people through democratic and peaceful means.


Mysterious deaths of cattle: help of US experts sought
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 26
Animal husbandry experts from the USA are now being consulted on mysterious deaths of milch cattle in some border villages in the Fazilka sector.

Farmers said nearly 30 head of cattle (17 according to official sources) had perished this week after eating green fodder. Flash messages had been sent through Internet to experts seeking guidance. A team of experts from the state Animal Health Institute, Jalandhar, was visiting the affected villages to study the situation.

Sources said preliminary investigation indicated that the farmers had preferred to grow green fodder in the land left by the security forces after taking preventive measures in more than 17 thousand acres close to the international border.

They had sprayed urea fertiliser besides an insecticide in the area under cultivation. As the monsoon betrayed them and required quantity of canal water was not available for irrigation, the urea perhaps increased poisonous ingredients in the green fodder coupled with effect of the insecticide.

Initially reports of sudden deaths of animals were received from Karnikhera. Later the problem spread to other villages, including Asafwala, Pucca Chishti, Kerianwali, Sainia and Odian. At least four more deaths were reported yesterday.

The farmers have been advised by the Animal Husbandry Department to stop serving green fodder to the cattle and arrange green grass. A post-mortem examination of the cattle has begun.


Poultry farmers seek power at domestic rates

Moga, July 26
The convener of the North India Poultry Farmers Association Parampal Singh Gill said here today the poultry farmers were facing problems of lack of subsidies, frequent interruptions in electricity supply, high rates of interests on loans, and lack of infrastructure for the export of poultry products.

Mr Gill demanded that the poultry sector should be provided power supply on domestic rates and be linked with 24-hour power supply feeders because poultry birds require electricity at least for 18 hours in a day.

He said he had met Punjab Agricultural University Vice-Chancellor who gave an assurance to provide all technical guidance to poultry farmers. UNI


Probe into vegetable scam stopped
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 26
The enquiry into the vegetable scam regarding the “incredibly low” price quotations for supplying vegetable and dry ration has been discontinued midway. But attendants of patients admitted in government mental hospital still complain of poor quality food despite a stringent check by the authorities concerned.

The inquiry initiated into the quality of vegetables and other edible items supplied to the hospital was directed by the state Human Rights Commission into the alleged scam in which the supplies were being made at astonishingly low rates.

Interestingly, the one-man enquiry commission into the scam started the probe on June 13, but orders to stop it were issued last week as a similar inquiry had already been conducted by the Vigilance Bureau, it was stated.

Dr B.L. Goel, Director of the hospital, who had objected to the enquiry on these grounds, said he was unaware about it. However, Dr Amrik Singh, officiating Civil Surgeon, said the inquiry was stopped due to the objections raised by the Director.

The Vigilance has sent its inquiry report to the Director, Medical Health, officials of the Health Department said. The contents of the report have not been disclosed so far.

Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president, All-India Youth Organisation, who had raised the issue, alleged that substandard food was the main cause of the poor health of hospital inmates.

Four mentally challenged patients, including a woman, have died here during the past one-and-a-half months. They are Rajesh Kumar, Naresh Kumar, Jaswinder Kaur and Deepak Kumar. Dr Goel said all four died due to medical problems like cardiac arrest, brain hemorrhage, pneumonic high fever and meningitis.


Inspector caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, July 26
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested an inspector of the Food and Civil Supplies Department posted here. While accepting a bribe of Rs 1000.

According to information available from the Vigilance Bureau office here, today, Chairman Lal Inspector Grade-I of the Food and Civil Supplies Department demanded Rs 2000 from Bhagwan Singh for transferring a ration depot in the name of Gurmeet Kaur his sister-in-law whose husband had recently died. The depot was originally in the name of her husband. The accused agreed to do the work for a sum of Rs 1000.

Mr Jangiri Lal, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, laid a trap to nab the culprit. A case has been registered against him under Sections 7, 13 (2) and 88 of the PC Act.


Firecrackers banned
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, July 26
The District Magistrate Mr D.K. Tiwari, has banned the sale and use of noise-producing firecrackers within the district till September 23. These orders have been passed under Section 144 of the CrPc.


Woman burnt alive for dowry

Kapurthala, July 26
A newly married woman was allegedly burnt alive by her in-laws in the presence of her parents for not fulfilling the demands for dowry at Miani Bhagupurian village last evening.

Mrs Sarabjit Kaur, mother of the victim, Nirmaljit Kaur, 22, who witnessed the incident also received burn injuries while trying to save her daughter from the flames.

According to the FIR lodged on the complaint of the victim’s father, Mr Sukhdev Singh, the victim was married to Baljinder Singh on December 9, 2001 and just after seven days of marriage, the in-laws demanded a motor cycle from the victim’s parents.

Mr Sukhdev Singh, who has a tailor’s shop at Rupwali village, expressed his inability to fulfil the demand but gave them Rs 10,000 for purchasing a motor cycle. After a few months the in-laws of his daughter again demanded Rs 50,000 for sending abroad the victim’s husband who is a driver. But the victim’s parents again expressed their inability to fulfil their demand.

On July 24, the in-laws mercilessly beat the victim for not bringing Rs 50,000 from her parents. The victim informed her parents about the incident.

On the very next day, the complainant and his wife visited the in-laws of the victims and pleaded with them not to harass their daughter. This agitated the in-laws who then asked the victim to get ready to accompany her parents to their house. While the parents were waiting for their daughter, the in-laws and the husband of the victim entered the room of the victim and sprinkled kerosene on her and set her clothes on fire. When the victim’s parents heard the screams of the victim, they rushed to the room and tried to extinguish the flames but could not save their daughter.

The police has registered a case under Sections 304-B and 341 of the IPC against the in-laws and arrested the husband of the victim while the other accused are missing. UNI


Rice miller duped of Rs 1.2 crore

Amritsar, July 26
The police on the complaint of Ashok Sachdeva booked a Chennai resident E.S. Murli last evening for duping allegedly him of Rs 1.2 crore.

According to the police, the accused E.S. Murli assured Ashok Sachdeva, a rice miller, for arranging Rs 600 crore for him. For this Ashok Sachdeva paid him commission of two per cent (Rs 1.2 crore) in advance.

Initially Murli tried to put off Ashok Sachdeva by lame excuses but on pressure from Ashok Sachdeva, Murli expressed his helplessness to arrange funds for him. On demanding his money back, Murli refused to return the money to Ashok Sachdeva.

The police has booked the absconding accused under Section 420 of the IPC. PTI


Brother-in-law, 5 others ‘assault’ woman
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 26
Gurjit Kaur, a resident of ITI here and married nine months ago, was seriously injured after she was assaulted with sharp-edged weapons today near a fish pond by three car-borne and an equal number of scooter-borne persons. She alleged that one of the assailants was her brother-in-law, Satpal Satta.

She said Satpal had estranged with his wife who was her sister. Moreover, she was a witness against him in a murder case, she alleged.

The City police had registered a case under Section 307 of the IPC against the accused.


Robbers’ gang busted
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 26
In a major breakthrough, the local police has arrested members of a gang of robbers and seized arms and ammunition from them. The members have allegedly confessed to their involvement in many incidents of robbery.

Disclosing this here today Mr Rajpal Meena, DIG, Ferozepore range, said six members of this group of criminals were arrested from an abandoned brick-kiln near Ransinh Kalan village of Nihal Singh Wala. Two Maruti cars, five country-made pistols, a double barrel .12 bore gun and some ammunition have been seized from them.

The arrested persons have been identified as Amrinder Singh, Praveen Kumar, Jagroop Singh, Gurnam Singh, Hardev Singh, Baljit Singh and Lakhwinder Singh. FIRs have been registered against them under Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act against the accused.


Withdraw cut in grants: PCCTU

Jalandhar, July 26
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union today demanded the withdrawal of 10 per cent cut in grants and alleged illegal pension notification issued on July 9 by the state government.

The state government has committed fraud on teachers through the pension notification which killed completely the already issued executive order regarding the pension-gratuity scheme on December 18, 1996, alleged Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary of the union while addressing a protest rally here.

The union leaders met Education Minister Khushal Behl yesterday. He agreed to disburse Rs 21.35 crore towards the UGC pay-revision arrears. He revealed adding that this was not enough and the state government must withdraw the pension notification and the proposed 10 per cent annual cut in grants.

He also demanded that the entire UGC package on pay-revision including extension of revised scales to all colleges and posts as on January 1, 1996 counting of total length of service for promotion placement, benefit of past service and other benefits being given in the other states. PTI


Musical chairs over theatre dept headship
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
Punjabi University seems to be playing musical chairs as far as the headship of the Department of Theatre and Television is concerned.

In a press note issued here today by the university, it was disclosed that the Vice-Chancellor, Dr N.S. Rattan, had ‘’appointed’’ Dr Yogesh Gambhir as Head of the Theatre and Television department for a term of three years.

The university apparently suffered amnesia regarding the appointment of Dr Gambhir as Head of the Department some days ago which was rescinded by the Vice-Chancellor on the pretext that a case was pending against Dr Gambhir and that he could not be appointed Chairman of the department due to this reason.

An inquiry had been ordered against Dr Gambhir during the tenure of former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, on the basis of allegations that he had committed ‘’unruly’’ behaviour during his stay at an institution in Delhi.

Sources disclosed that Dr Gambhir’s file was moved in a routine manner by the establishment branch after the tenure of Dr Gurcharan Singh came to an end. They said even as the file was being processed a complaint was received by the Vice-Chancellor that an inquiry was pending against Dr Gambhir. The sources said even though the Vice-Chancellor ordered that the appointment should be stopped, the establishment branch released the order appointing Dr Gambhir as Chairman.

The sources said when this came to the notice of Dr Rattan he immediately ordered that the order should be reversed. Subsequently Dr Nivedita Behl of the same department was given temporary charge as Chairman of the department.

The sources said following this Dr Gambhir represented to the Vice-Chancellor that he had been victimised by the former Vice-Chancellor and that a complaint had been deliberately procured against him because he was in the forefront of an agitation seeking Dr Ahluwalia’s removal from the university. Dr Gambhir also stressed the malafide intention behind ordering of the inquiry following which Dr Rattan has now again ‘’appointed’’ him Chairman of the department.

University sources are perplexed at the manner in which the university has reacted to Dr Gambhir’s appointment, specially the clause that it was stopped because an inquiry was pending against him. Sources said this clause had apparently not deterred the university authorities from appointing Dr U.C. Singh as Dean, Academics, a much more sensitive and important post. They said Dr U.C. Singh had been found guilty of not submitting his PhD thesis during the time stipulated as a condition for promotion. They said this inquiry had also been ordered by Dr Ahluwalia and that a retired IAS officer had conducted it. Sources said though the intentions of the inquiry against Dr U C Singh also appeared to be malafide, different yardsticks could not be applied to different persons.


Govt move on teachers resented
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 26
Holders of B.Ed degrees have resented the government move on the appointment of teachers in government schools.

Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, president of the district unit of the Association of Unemployed B.Ed Degree holders in a press note said that with the implementation new policy the number of unemployed would increase in the state.

He said that the new education policy was not practical. He alleged that posts of teacher were abolished in various schools. He said that on one hand the government said that it would provide free and compulsory education to all children between six years of age and 14 years of age but on the other hand restriction was putting on the appointment of teachers.

He said that there would not be more than one per cent Ph.D degree holders in the total population of the state but the state government has said that only Ph.D degree holders would be eligible for the post of lecturer. He said that this step would make hundreds of unemployed youths ineligible for the posts of lecturer.

The Association chief added that the ongoing dharna by the association at Chandigarh had entered the 32nd day but no state government official came to hear to their grievances. He said that in place of dharnas they would start relay fast at Chandigarh soon to press the authorities for the acceptance of demands.

He said that they would gherao ministers and ruling party MLAs when they visited the towns and villages in the state. He added that a meeting would be held in this connection in the local Teachers Home on July 28.


Assault on teachers condemned
Our Correspondent

Barnala, July 26
Prof P. K. Sharma, president of the Sangrur unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has condemned the assault on teachers of Government Ranbir College, Sangrur, by half a dozen miscreants with a criminal background on the campus of the college on July 23. Prof Sukhdev Singh Gill, Prof Malkiat Singh Khattra and Prof Jaspal Maan sustained serious injuries in the assault while a few others received minor injuries.

Prof Sharma urged the police authorities to apprehend the guilty persons at the earliest.


College teachers observe strike
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 26
Teachers of Phagwara block private colleges, including the local Guru Nanak College, Ramgarhia College, GNBL Ramgarhia College for Women, GNNB College, Narur Panshat, and SBDSM Khalsa College, Domeli, went on strike after the second period today. They sat in dharna in front of the office of the SDM and presented memorandum to him to be forwarded to the Punjab CM.

The teachers were protesting against the alleged distortion of the pension-cum-gratuity scheme and downsizing of the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme.

Addressing the rally, Mr Jasbir Singh Dhaliwal, district president, PCCTU, and others flayed the Punjab Government for turning its back on higher education and its poll promises.

The protesters made a bonfire of the pension notification.


Moga traders strike work
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 26
Members of the local Moga Foodgrain Traders Association, the Social Welfare Society and shopkeepers of both eastern and western grain markets today struck work and resorted to an indefinite hartal in protest against the “excesses” committed on them by certain officials of the Municipal Council.

They alleged that last evening the officials assisted by strong police posse, demolished sheds of shopkeepers. There were heated exchanges between members of the Moga Municipal Council and the shopkeepers.

According to sources, the shopkeepers allegedly kept an engineer of the council in illegal confinement for about two hours. He later freed by the police. Cases were registered against eight shopkeepers. The associations of the eastern and western grain market said they would continue the strike till the cases registered against the shopkeepers were withdrawn.

Congress leader Malti Thappar had to telephone the Chief Secretary as also local bodies Minister Jagjit Singh for intervention. the Deputy Commissioner maintained silence on the matter.

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