Monday, July 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BBMB plans own power projects
Lalit Mohan

The BBMB has approached the Government of India to allow it to install proper projects on the canals under its control. The BBMB has been forced to take this decision after the Punjab Government, one of the major partners in the board, opposed its idea of venturing into new generation projects on these canals.

Mr Rakesh Nath, Chairman of the BBMB, told The Tribune that the BBMB planned to set up three 18 MW power houses on the Bhakra mainline canal. After the feasibility studies three spots upstream and downstream of the Nirwana branch of the Bhakra mainline canal were selected for these projects.

The proposals were accepted by the BBMB. However, the Punjab Government objected to the BBMB idea of setting up its own projects on the plea that the state had exclusive riparian rights over the water flowing into the BBMB canals.

If the BBMB set up the power projects, its other partner states — Haryana and Rajasthan — would get their share in electricity generated in proportion to their share in the organisation. However, the Punjab Government wants to retain the exclusive rights over the new project, asserting its riparian rights over the water of canals.

The BBMB Chairman said due to multiple ownership of the board the other partner states objected to Punjab exclusively setting up a generation project on the Bhakra mainline. The Punjab Government had earlier proposed to set up the said project through private developers. However, the BBMB rejected the idea.

Besides, the BBMB was also facing problems in installing a 40 MW power project on the Baggi tunnel in Himachal. The Himachal Government was asking for a 12 per cent share in generation for allowing the board to set up the said project. The BBMB, however, could not give that much share to Himachal according to the Punjab Reorganisation Act.

After perusal by the Union Government, the Rajasthan Government and the HSEB had already giving their assent to the idea of the BBMB venturing into new power projects. The Union Government would now take up the matter with the Punjab Government, the Chairman added.


Fake power of attorney racket: 8 booked
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 28
More than 15 days after Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh requested district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal to probe the issue of registration of hundreds of fake power of attorney at the Dudhan Sadhan sub tehsil office, around 35 km from here, the Julkan police today registered criminal cases against eight persons in this regard. Following a complaint by a Saharanpur-based woman, Shashi Aggarwal, made through the Saharanpur District Magistrate, claiming that her property worth Rs 1 crore had been sold in Saharanpur on the basis of a fake power of attorney made in Dudhan Sadhan, the police busted a gang involved in making fake power of attorney. Several hundreds of fake power of attorney had allegedly been made in one year.

The Julkan police has registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 472, IPC, against Iqbal Mohammad, Gulbahar Ahmed and Rajesh Gupta, all residents of Saharanpur, Neeraj Chopra and Praveen Kumar and advocate Amik Singh Wasu, all residents of Jagadhri, Manvinder Singh, an advocate from Dera Bassi, and Ajmer Singh, Nambardar of Julkan, in the case.

Gulbahar Ahmed and Iqbal Ahmed allegedly procured the power of attorney from Shashi Aggarwal and on the basis of which they sold off 40 bighas belonging to her. The two advocates Amik Singh Wasu and Manvinder Singh are signatories to the majority of about 600 power of attorney registered at Dudhan Sadan. The Nambardar of Julkan village had identified a majority of ‘’people’’ who had got their power of attorney registered at Dudhan Sadhan even though most of them had shown Dudhan as only their temporary residence and some had even admitted that they were residents of Uttar Pradesh.

Surprisingly, the police has not registered any case against Naib Tehsildar-cum-Sub Registrar Hussan Singh who had signed all power of attorney even though most of them were written in Hindi and those seeking them were not residents of the state. Sources said there was no way in which Mr Hussan Singh could get away with excuses that he had signed the power of attorney only after the applicants had been duly identified.

The sources said no departmental action had been taken against the Naib Tehsildar though he had been transferred from Dudhan Sadhan after the controversy erupted.

Earlier Sub-divisional Magistrate Manjit Singh Narang had during an inquiry found that as many as 90 power of attorney were registered from March 21 to 27, all pertaining to properties outside the state. Similarly, during investigations it was revealed that from April 2001 to April 2002 as many as 600 power of attorney were registered in the sub tehsil, all of which were similar in pattern and were forwarded by a group of persons.


Alarming decrease in water table
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
After having risen steadily for 26 years, the ground water level in this region have started plummeting, leading the Department of Agriculture to sound the alarm. In its latest report to the state government, the Agricultural Department, while cautioning against the depleting water table, has also suggested several preventive measures.

Departmental officials here maintain that heavy dependence on ground water due to insufficient canal water supply and reducing monsoon is responsible for the sinking water table.

As shallow tubewells in some pockets have turned dry, this has led to apprehension that some areas may become barren and uncultivable due to the non-availability of water if the trend continues. While some well-off farmers have managed to bore deeper tubewells and installed powerful electrical motors or diesel generators to run submersible water pumps, others are being left high and dry.

While the average rise in the water table in Bathinda block over a 10-year period from 1992-2001 was 22 cm, it fell by a sharp 61 cm in 2001-02. The ground water level had risen from 18 meters in 1973 to 3.10 meters in 1999, before falling to 4.60 meters this year.

The situation in other six blocks of the district is similar. The fall in water level in Phul and Rampura blocks in the past year has been drastic, being 99 cm and 92 cm, respectively. In Nathana, the fall has been 73 cm, while in Maur and Talwandi Sabo blocks the fall has been pegged at 67 cm and 27 cm, respectively. In Sangat block, the table has depleted by 25 cm.

In some pockets in the aforementioned blocks the fall in water table has been more alarming. In Bhallo village the water table has plunged by as much as 3.30 meters in a single year, while in Kalyan Sukha village near Rampura the fall has been 1.25 meters.

The areas where the fall in water table is more pronounced are those where paddy is being cultivated. However what is more alarming is that the water table has been going down in areas where crops requiring less water for cultivation such are cotton, are the mainstay.

Latest surveys carried out by the Agricultural Department reveal that the present ground water levels in Phul, Rampura and Nathana blocks are 10.86 metres, 7.25 metres and 9.95 metres respectively. In Sangat and Talwandi Sabo blocks the water levels are 10.40 metres and 10 metres, respectively.

With farmers in this area switching over to paddy even though the sandy soil of this region is unsuitable for its cultivation, the demand of water for irrigation has shot up multifold during the past few years. In 1981-82 only 5,791 hectares of land was under paddy cultivation. In 2001-02, this increased to 82,494 hectares. Consequently, the number of tubewells in the region also multiplied. Departmental surveys revealed a total of 42,551 tubewells functioning in the district. This is an increase from 32,650 in 1997 and 26,833 in 1990. Departmental records reveal that there were only 184 tubewells in this district in 1960.

Agriculture Departmental officers have recommended to the government that arrangements should be made to ensure adequate supply of canal water for irrigation. The department is also holding camps for farmers, where they are being advised to switch over from paddy to other crops such as oilseeds and pulses, which require less water for irrigation.


BKU dharna: traffic normal
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 28
Even as BKU (E) activists sat on dharna near Bhuchu Khurd village on the Bathinda-Barnala road, vehicular traffic in the district was near normal, today despite a statewide ‘traffic jam’ by the union. The traffic was diverted to a link road.

The BKU activists sat on dharna between 12 noon and 4 p.m. to press the government to accept their demands, including compensation of Rs 15,000 per acre to farmers whose paddy and cotton crop had been damaged due to the drought-like situation.

The union had decided that the traffic would be blocked throughout the state for four hours today, but it blocked only one main road in the district.

The activists raised slogans against the state government and the Centre, holding them responsible for the situation. Leaders of the union said the Rs 1000 compensation announced by the Union Government was only an eyewash.

The police put by barricades on the road and asked drivers to move through Bhuchu Khurd village on a link road and subsequently to the main road.

Some drivers felt harassed, but the traffic continued uninterrupted in the district.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, state president of the union, said in a press note that the ‘traffic jam’ was a success throughout the state. He said in Sangrur district the dharna was held at Chhajla village on the Sunam-Jakhal road, in Mansa district at Bhaini Bhaga village on the Patiala-Bathinda road, in Moga district at Ajitwal village on the Ferozepore-Ludhiana road and in Muktsar district near Doda village on the Muktsar-Bathinda road.

Mr Ugrahan said farmers should be given a compensation of Rs 15,000 per acre in the lieu of the damaged paddy and cotton crops.

He added that demands for diesel at subsidised prices, 24-hour power supply for tubewells and withdrawal of 4 per cent tax on pesticides and insecticides were justified, given the present situation.


Pensioners yearn for meeting with CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Government Pensioners’ Association is sore over the slashing of allowances to employees, serving and retired, in the current year’s Budget.

Mr Yash Paul Ghai, additional general secretary of the association, says the government must also lend its ears to the retired employees, who are equally affected by the “harsh” measures.

In view of the restiveness among the employees and pensioners, the Chief Minister has met the representatives of the employees working in the public sector undertakings. He has also constituted two committees to hear their grievances. The representatives of 20-odd other unions of the employees have, however, decided to wait till Capt Amarinder Singh returns from his visit abroad.

But how about his meeting pensioners? asks Mr Ghai. He told TNS today that all four Pay Commissions — 1967-68, 1978-80, 1986-88 and 1994-97 — were set up to improve the wage structure of its staff. Besides implementing the recommendations of the Kothari Commission for grades to teachers, it were the Akalis who accepted the recommendations of three of the four Pay Commissions constituted since 1967. The recommendations of the third Pay Commission (1986-88) were implemented in the late 90s when Punjab was under President’s rule.

Mr Ghai recalled that several benefits that accrued to the employees and pensioners by way of fixed medical allowance, rural area allowance, dearness allowance on the Central pattern, old-age allowance for pensioners at the age of 65, non-practising allowance for doctors etc. were granted by the Akali governments. Even the 95 per cent grant for private, government-aided colleges was introduced by the Akalis when Mr Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister in 1978-80.

To this, a senior leader of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers’ Union, Prof Charanjit Chawla, added that the latest July 9, 2002, notification on grant of pension-cum-gratuity to the staff of 140-odd government-aided private colleges is the third in the past 12 years since the demand was first raised on the recommendation of the UGC pay scale notification. Yet, the staff of the private-aided colleges has been denied this benefit. There is dissatisfaction and resentment and protests by PCCTU are a daily phenomenon.

Mr Chawla said another positive decision of the Akali-BJP Government was the Punjab Affiliated Colleges (Security of Service of Employees) Amendment Act, 1999. It included the grant of pensionary benefits. But the scheme was aborted due to bureaucratic bungling. Meanwhile, once again the political scene changed. The present July 9 notification was totally unacceptable to the staff, wherein even the implementation date had again been changed from April 26, 1999, to July 9, 2002.


Man murders wife, 2 kids
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 28
A sales representative of a tea company brutally killed his wife and two children, locked the bodies in an iron container and fled.

According to information gathered from Matili, also known as Sadulshehar, 30 km from here on the Abohar-Hanumangarh road, Surender Kumar reportedly informed his father-in-law Narain Dass Setia, a resident of Setia Colony, Sriganganagar, yesterday that his wife Neetu Bala had suffered an electric shock. Later, he again rang up Mr Setia to intimate that Neetu had died.

Mr Setia had been receiving complaints from his daughter regarding torture by her in-laws for bringing inadequate dowry.

He requested some persons, including Mrs Bhupinder Kaur Turna, district president, Congress Mahila Wing at Sriganganagar, to accompany him to Sadulshehar. There they found that Surender Kumar’s house was locked. They then went to the Civil Hospital, but no case of death due to an electric shock had been reported there.

Subsequently, they went to the police station and requested the SHO to send a police party with them. Locks at Surender Kumar’s house were broken.

Sources said a container, emanating foul small, was opened by breaking the lock and bodies of Neetu Bala and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter and 10-month old son recovered from it. Deep cuts on the bodies indicated that they had been murdered using sharp-edged weapons. The blood-stained bodies were taken to the Civil Hospital for a post-mortem examination.

The police has registered a case under Sections 498-A and 304-B, IPC, against Surender Kumar, his brother Rajinder Kumar, alias Jinder, his brother’s wife Kanwal Kumar, Dharam Pal and Kala on a complaint lodged by Mr Setia who alleged that the relatives had been instigating Surender Kumar against Neetu Bala and might be partners in the gruesome act. The bodies were cremated today by the parents of Neetu Bala.


Removal of Vedanti, Manjit demanded

Chandigarh, July 28
Prominent Sikh leaders today demanded the resignation of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and Keshgarh Sahib Jathedar Manjit Singh for reportedly exonerating the in charge of a trust of charges of allegedly raping a girl recently.

“Vedanti and Manjit Singh have not been performing their roles as per the Sikh tenets and their past conduct as well as their role on the issue has undermined the sanctity of Sikh temporal religious offices,” the 13 Sikh leaders resolved at a meeting here.

“Vedanti and Manjit Singh’s continuance in office will bring bad name to such institutions,” they observed. In charge of Noor Vishav Roohani Sansthan in Nawanshahr district, Baba Dhanwant Singh, was charged with allegedly raping a girl. The issue was brought to the notice of Mr Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh who reportedly exonerated the baba. The meeting demanded the constitution of a special commission of inquiry by the SGPC to redress grievances of complainants. PTI


Family takes milk, three dead

Nawanshahr, July 28
A man and his two daughters have died after consuming poisoned milk in Jagatpur village here.

According to reports, on Friday night, Amreek Singh, his wife, Sarabjeet Kaur, and two daughters, Amandeep Kaur(12) and Kuljeet Kaur(10), drank milk. After some time, Amandeep Kaur complained of stomach pain and inflammation.

She was immediately taken to a doctor in Banga, where she was declared brought dead. When Amreek Singh came back with her body, his younger daughter also starting complaining of inflammation.

After some time, Amreek Singh and his wife also felt pain in their stomachs. People from the neighbourhood gathered and took them to hospital, where Kuljeet Kaur died. Amreek Singh died last morning and the condition of his wife was serious.

It is being suspected that the milk got poisoned after a lizard dropped in it. UNI


In-laws’ mohalla remembers Kant
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 28
Several old associates of Vice-President Krishan Kant, who died yesterday and was married at Phagwara, while mourning his untimely demise, offered prayers here today for the peace of the departed soul. Kant’s father-in-law Joginder Chander Prem was a scribe and freedom fighter, and ran a stationery shop on the local Banga road. Prem’s ancestral house is in the local Satnampura Mohalla where Kant had come to wed Suman before Independence.

Lala Balwant Rai Uppal, a veteran freedom fighter, who was in the marriage party of Kant, went down the memory lane and eulogised his childhood friend as every inch a patriot. “We were friends since our Lahore days during the pre-Partition period, and often used to meet in Lajpat Bhavan, Lahore”, he said. Kant had a progressive outlook and did a lot for the welfare of peasants and workers, Mr Uppal said, adding that his sudden death had caused an irreparable loss to the country.

Mr Piara Singh Virdi, president, Senior Citizens Council, Phagwara, and neighbour of Kant’s in-laws, said he, along with other residents of Satnampura Mohalla, had the privilege of the company of Kant during the latter’s visit to his “sasural” here. Kant had great love for Phagwara and frequented the city till 1980s after which his visits became occasional, remembers Mr Virdi.

The council held a condolence meeting to mourn Kant’s death.


4 mines blast in Khemkaran area
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 28
Four landmines blasted today at Rampur village that fall under the Khemkaran police station, when standing wheat crop caught fire due to short-circuit. Sources told this correspondent that the fire broke out at about 3 p.m. which could be controlled after two hours with the help of local people and jawans.

No loss of life has been reported. According to the reports, the wheat crop in the border area, which has been acquired by the Army, has not been harvested till now. 


Nepalese labourers hold rally
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 28
Hundreds of Nepalese labourers and workers of the CPI (ML) today participated in a rally at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here in protest against the decision of the Central Government to ban the Akhil Bharatiya Nepali Ekta Samaj under POTA.

Those who spoke at the rally termed the ban as an attempt to divide the Nepalese community. Deploring the attitude of the government, they alleged that such moves would not be tolerated and a nationwide agitation would be launched against the misuse of POTA by the BJP-led Central Government. Later, they held a protest march through the main streets of Jalandhar.


Subordinate courts closed in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
All subordinate courts in the state of Punjab would remain closed on July 29 as a mark of respect to Vice President, Krishan Kant, who died yesterday.


Survey on crop diversification
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 28
Punjab Agro Industries in collaboration with Arther Enderson Ltd, a multinational company, has conducted a survey of the Fazilka area to promote diversification of crops. A team of senior officers led by Amber Doobey conducted an on-the-spot survey on cultivation of oilseeds in place of traditional wheat and paddy here and in surrounding areas which are major wheat and paddy producing areas of the northern region. The team talked to a large number of farmers, traders, industrialists and commission agents at a meeting organised by Mr Sanjeev Nagpal, vice-president, Solvent Extractors Association, Punjab, yesterday.

Mr Surinder Ahuja, a progressive farmer, said in north-east parts of Fazilka, cultivation of paddy was feasible due to availability of adequate water while in south-west parts some agricultural land was sandy hence oilseeds could be cultivated successfully. He added that groundnut could be cultivated during the kharif season while mustard (sarson) could be cultivated in the rabi season.

Satish Kumar Dhingra, secretary, Punjab Vyopar Mandal, lamented that while the government promoted cultivation of oilseeds it did not purchase it on minimum support price hence the farmers were compelled to sell these to private traders at lower price.

Om Parkash Setia, secretary, Arhtias Association, assuring the farmers said, “If they cultivate oilseeds the traders shall help them in all possible manner.”

Ramesh Babber, a farmer, said the relationship between the farmers and the agencies lending them loan was not good as a result of which the former were becoming economically weaker. In present circumstances there was no scope for agro trade in this area, he added.

Vinod Jyani of Katehra village, demanded that a board should be constituted by government for oilseeds. Horticulturist Prem Babber said, “Punjab Agriculture University has not been able to develop any hybrid oilseed variety giving high yield”. He lamented that with available oilseeds in market the yield per acre was about 4 to 5 quintals which was not much remunerative for the farmers while the hybrid seeds could yield up to 15 quintals per acre.

Mr Amber Doobey addressing the gathering said a section of farmers disappointed with the failure of traditional crops was mentally prepared to adopt diversification. 


Personal tours in office vehicles
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
Even as the state government has imposed heavy taxes on agriculture-related items and cuts in salaries of employees to improve the financial position of the state, a section of senior officials of various departments have been misusing their official vehicles.

Official sources said this fact came to light when various teams of the Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, carried out a check of government vehicles yesterday and found that some of these were being misused.

The sources added that Vigilance Bureau officials found that senior civil officials of the rank of Subdivisional Magistrate had used their official vehicles for thousands of kilometers for private purposes. The sources, added that yesterday, about 64 vehicles were checked and four out of these were found being used by officials to attend private or social functions and to meet their kin.

A report in this regard had been prepared by Vigilance Bureau officials and would be submitted to the authorities for further action.

The Vigilance Bureau would also write heads of various department in which those officials were working for departmental action against them.


Central aid
Our Correspondent

Moga, July 28
The Centre has allocated Rs 344 lakh for this district under the Rajiv Gandhi National Drinking Water Mission to provide potable drinking water. The district administration has identified 38 villages which will be covered under the project. This was announced by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, while presiding over a meeting here on Saturday.


Industries portfolio for Avtar Henry
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 28
The Punjab Governor has reallocated the portfolio of Industries to Mr Avtar Henry. This portfolio was earlier held by Capt Amarinder Singh. According to a press statement issued today by Chief Secretary Y. S. Ratra, Mr Henry’s earlier portfolio, Science and Technology (except Environment) and Civil Aviation, shall revert to the Chief Minister.


Fake road tax receipts seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 28
Even as the state transport authorities have been trying to work out strategy to arrest the fall in revenue due to registration of vehicles, purchased by people of the state, in Haryana, seizure of two fake receipts pertaining to special road tax (SRT) by the district transport authorities, has left them shocked.

Official sources said in the recent past, the district transport authorities seized two fake receipts of the SRT from two trucks. The authorities were suspecting that if comprehensive checking was carried out, a major scam could come to light.

The sources said any truck operator, who had registered the vehicle outside the state, was required to deposit Rs 1250 as the SRT to ply the vehicle in the state for three months. What most of the truck operators had been doing was that they were obtaining fake SRT receipts from the unscrupulous elements for a few hundred rupees.

The state transport authorities had been feeling the pinch of fall in revenue due to fall in the number of vehicles being registered with it for the past few years. A major section of owners of newly purchased vehicles had been registering these with the Haryana State Transport Authorities as it charged lump sum fee for registration while in Punjab, the fee was being charged at the rate of 2 per cent of the total value of every vehicle.

Most of the owners had been preferring to purchase vehicles from Haryana and Chandigarh to get these registered in Haryana.

Official figures revealed that in 2000, the registration of oil tankers witnessed a fall of 66 per cent, mini-buses 80 per cent, cars 34 per cent, scooters 17.3 per cent and mopeds 12.4 per cent in this district alone as compared to the number of vehicles registered in 1999. The state government had also been suffering huge losses due to plying of buses during night by various private operators without any valid route permits.

Mr Krishan Chand, District Transport Officer (DTO), while confirming the fact that two fake receipts of the SRT had been seized said these had been sent to respective banks for verification. He added that after the verification, criminal proceedings would be launched against the truck operators, who had been identified. A campaign would be launched in the district to detect such bunglings, he added.


Attack on witness raises questions
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 28
The murder case of Devinder Singh Walia, a Junior Engineer in the Punjab State Electricity Board, has taken a fresh turn, with Gurjit Kaur, the main eyewitness to the crime, having been attacked and critically injured on July 26 at Gurdaspur, just three days before the hearing on the bail petition of main accused Satpal Singh, alias Satta, in the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Walia was stabbed in his residence on October 8 last year.

In her statement Gurjit Kaur alleged that she was attacked by Satta along with five others. However, Satta, who has now been arrested by the police, has reportedly pleaded before the police that he was being implicated in the case as he was on duty at the time of the crime.

However, after having absconded for about nine months after the murder of Walia, the rejoining of duty by Satta, in the PSEB has raised many eyebrows.

Interestingly, he joined duty at the Transfer Repair Workshop (TRW) on the day the order was issued.

Tribune investigations reveal that Satta, who was marked present on July 26 in his office at Amritsar, was actually not present in the office when Gurjit Kaur was attacked in Gurdaspur.

Earlier too, Gurjit Kaur was allegedly attacked by Satta which she reported to the Gurdaspur SSP. An inquiry was then marked to a DSP. Gurjit alleged that the DSP concerned asked Satta and her to reach a compromise, despite Satta being a murder accused.

Mr B.S. Jabbal, Superintending Engineer, TRW, when asked how Satta managed to join the department despite the fact that his name figured in the FIR in connection with the murder of the JE, said the department had followed the rules.

Walia was allegedly killed due to personal enmity. Gurbaksh Singh, father of the deceased, had alleged that the case was being hushed up due to strong political connections of Satta.


Student held on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 28
The district police today arrested Gauravjit Singh, a B.Com. II student of the local Lyallpur Khalsa College, on the charge of murdering Amit Kumar in broad daylight in the Model Town market here on Saturday.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, SSP, said Gauravjit was arrested today while one of his accomplices, later identified as Ashok Kumar, was still at large.

During preliminary interrogation, Gauravjit, son of a Doordarshan employee, confessed that he, along with Ashok Kumar, had murdered Amit Sharma following a brawl with him over chatting in a cyber cafe in the market, said the SSP.

He further said they were concerned over the misuse of cyber cafes in the city for anti-social purposes and such cafes would not be allowed to run “illegal” porn programmes by charging hefty fee from the customers.

Meanwhile, the father of the victim, working as a sales manager with a private company at Aurangabad in Maharashtra, had been informed about the murder of his son.


1 held in Damtal firing case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 28
Makhan Gujjar, son of Dalbir Gujjar, resident of Chamba was arrested from a house in Gandla Nari Mor Muda in Sujanpur police station of Gurdaspur district, last evening.

Makhan has confessed to his involvement in the firing on Army personnel at the Damtal firing range on January 1, 2002. Three Army men were killed there. He has also confessed to his involvement in planting bomb in a shop in Hoshiarpur on February 23, 2001. The bomb did not explode. Mohammad Abdul, an activist of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, named him during an interrogation, Mr Rohit Chaudhary, DIG, Jalandhar Range, said.


GND varsity teachers’ body poll: 2 in fray
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 28
It will be a straight contest between two teachers’ groups for the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association elections.

While it will be a holiday tomorrow on account of the sudden demise of Krishan Kant, Vice-President of India, activists of the Progressive Teachers Front, the Democratic Teachers Front and the Radical Teachers Front have begun door-to-door canvassing. For the post of president, the contest is between Dr Narpinder Singh, Head of the Department of Food Technology, who is contesting the elections for the first time, and Dr H.S. Sidhu of the Punjab School of Economics, who has been president for two terms.

Dr Narpinder Singh has been promising fellow teachers a proper academic environment in the university if given a chance to serve as president. He has also promised uniform implementation of rules and regulations of the university. Dr Sidhu, on the other hand, has promised further overall development of the university.

Unlike at other universities in the state, the campaigning in the Guru Nanak Dev University has been a low-key affair. The Vice-Chancellor has kept himself aloof.

The Dr Narpinder Singh group has alleged that the papers of 41 candidates have been rejected due to an amendment in election rules with an ‘ulterior motive’ by vested interests, but university authorities have claimed that it has been done after seeking legal opinion. Two office-bearers have been elected unopposed.


Trust members flay school secretary
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 28
Children Memorial School, an educational institution, which was established to commemorate the death of 22 schoolchildren from the city in Nangal in 1983, has come under a cloud with nine members of its trust, comprising parents whose children were drowned in the tragedy, condemning trust secretary J.R. Sethi for compelling school Principal Remneek Ghumman to resign from his post.

The trust members, who held a meeting here, said Mr Sethi did not have any authority to relieve any employee without discussing the issue at an executive meeting which had not been called since long. The members have also demanded that the Principal should be allowed to continue and that allegations levelled by the Principal against Mr Sethi should be probed and action should be taken against the guilty.

The situation turned out of hand in the school when its Principal Ramneek Ghumman was allegedly made to resign from his post by Mr Sethi. The following day Mr Ghumman approached the police claiming some anti-social elements were used to force him tender his resignation even as school students came out in his favour and boycotted classes.

The next day the situation seemed to have normalised somewhat with the police affecting a compromise and Mr Ghumman reoccupying the Principal’s office. Mr Sethi, when approached also claimed that as the issue had been settled cordially and Mr Ghumman would rejoin duty soon.

However, this does not seem to be the case now. Yesterday students of the school met Patiala MP Preneet Kaur claiming that the school management had put several conditions by way of making Mr Ghumman rejoin the institution, including taking action against some teachers who had sided with him and rusticated students who had committed unruly behaviour. Mr Ghumman himself claimed that though he was allowed to reoccupy the Principal’s office, no written communication had been given to him stating that his resignation had been rejected. Mr Sethi was unavailable for comment on the issue.

Meanwhile, serious allegations have been levelled against the school management by Mr Ghumman. These include non maintenance of any bank account since the last eight months with Mr Sethi depositing and using cash from the safe constructed in the school office. Besides this he alleged that the Parent Teachers Association had been dissolved by the school management, that teachers’ provident fund had not been deposited in the their bank accounts and that they had not got their salary for the month of June.

Sources said that though Mr Sethi was elected as secretary of the school trust, he was functioning as its chairman also because present chairman Amarjit Singh Nakai had gone abroad since the past eight months and had in writing asked Mr Sethi to function on his behalf.

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