Thursday, August 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM’s remark messes up farmers’ case: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
SAD chief Mr Parkash Singh Badal today charged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh with ruining the case of farmers for compensation from the Centre by saying the state was not yet drought-hit.

Describing the statement as “shocking”, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister had gone public on an issue of life and death without even going through the process of special “girdawaris” to assess the situation on the ground.

The Akali Dal President said the Chief Minister owed an apology to the farmers for his stand and urged the kisan organisations to come forward to set the record straight on the issue.

Mr Badal expressed surprise that the Chief Minister’s statement came on a day when, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, spoke about the gravity of the situation arising from drought-hit conditions in the state. These contradictory statements, emerging from the top echelons of the administration, were bound to mess up the farmers’ case for getting their due from the Centre.

The SAD chief described Capt Amarinder Singh’s allegation on the former’s links with militants as “a ridiculous case of the pot calling the kettle black” and challenged him to stake his political career on providing any credible evidence on the charge.

Mr Badal also dared the Chief Minister to deny that he had given his signed approval at Akal Takht to the declaration demanding a separate sovereign Sikh state (Khalistan) on May 1, 1994. “Since the Chief Minister also claims to be a devout Sikh, would he clarify as to what sanctity he attaches to the oath taken by him at the highest religious-temporal seat of Sikh religion? What is his stand on the issue, as Chief Minister of Punjab now?”

Referring to the statement of Capt Amarinder Singh published in the media today regarding the Zaffarwal issue, Mr Badal said that having failed to implicate him (Badal) in corruption cases, the Chief Minister was now trying to shift the focus to militancy.

Mr Badal advised the Chief Minister to check the records available with his government to find out that he (Badal) had always remained on top of the hit list of elements propagating a violent ideology while Captain Amarinder Singh not only used their language but also openly supported their ideology.

Mr Badal reminded the Chief Minister that even now, he (Amarinder Singh) was presiding over a party that was packed with elements having direct links with terrorists. “The Lokpal has indicted at least two of his colleagues of having worked in close collusion with terrorists and smugglers. And what about Partap Singh Bajwa, whose brother appeared in photographs with terrorists, which were published by the Frontline magazine? What is the background of Gurchet Singh Bhuller and Master Jagir Singh?” the press note asked.


Power crisis in state may worsen
Less water to be released from dams
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 31
With less release of water from Bhakra and Pong dams from tomorrow, the power situation in Punjab will further worsen, leading to additional power cuts.

According to PSEB sources, the BBMB has decided to release 21,000 cusecs from Bhakra Dam from tomorrow against 32,000 cusecs. Similarly, water release from Pong Dam at Talwara has been reduced to 7,000 cusecs from 8,000 cusecs. This decision will reportedly lead to a shortage of 43 lakh units more per day. Besides this, Uttaranchal will also stop the supply of 10 lakh units to Punjab from tomorrow.

The sources said a shortage of 43 lakh units included 31 lakh units from Bhakra and one lakh unit from the Pong powerhouse. Generation at the PSEB’s Anandpur Sahib hydel project would be reduced by six lakh units per day from tomorrow. Generation at the Mukerian powerhouse will also be reduced by five lakh units per day.

With the delayed monsoon, even in the catchment areas of Bhakra and Pong, the BBMB has been forced to release 11,000 cusecs less per day. The water level at Bhakra, which was 50 feet higher in June against the corresponding period last year, was now only 5 ft higher now. The water level at Bhakra stands at 1596.86 ft while the water level at Pong Dam is 1290.36 ft, 48 ft lower than the corresponding period last year, the sources added.

The demand for power has exceeded 1,300 lakh units per day and the PSEB was supplying power around 1050 lakh units per day.

The Chief Minister has asked the PSEB to increase power supply to tubewells from eight hours to 10 hours daily. Under these circumstances, the PSEB has reportedly decided to impose additional power cuts on the industry. Earlier, a nine-hour power cut was imposed on the industry with a load of 100 KV, but from August 1 even the industry getting a supply of 70 KV and above would have to face a nine-hour power cut.

Industrial consumers under category-II who are not running process industry and are getting independent supply will now be given only 10-hour power supply from tomorrow.

Supply to domestic consumers in the urban and rural areas will be further restricted, including unannounced power cuts.

The situation may further worsen with the forthcoming strike by employees of Coal India Limited from August 5 against the privatisation of coal mines. This may hamper the supply of coal to thermal plants in Punjab on a large scale, leading to additional power cuts.


Water flow into canals low
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 31
While rain in parts of northern India over the past few days has increased the water level of the Bhakra reservoir, the water flow into canals in southern Punjab continues to be low as the water-carrying capacity of the feeder systems has been reduced over the years due to growth of weeds and accumulation of silt.

The water level of the Bhakra reservoir recorded today was 1596.74 feet. While the demand for water for the Bathinda branch of the Sirhind canal, said to be the lifeline of the Malwa region, was 2,552 cusecs, only 2,466 cusecs were discharged into it today.

Similarly, the Abohar branch received 3,043 cusecs against a stipulated requirement of 3,073 cusecs. This was despite the fact that the Sirhind canal, feeding these branches, received 11,354 cusecs, against the requirement of 11,350 cusecs.

Sources in the Irrigation Department said over the years, the canal system, mostly unlined was being choked by weeds and silt. Further, the banks of the canals had become weak due to erosion.

The Bathinda branch had been of great use to this region, with its water being used extensively for irrigation as well as drinking. It was originally constructed by the British in 1882 and was remodelled later. With a bed width of 45 metres and a depth of 1.6 metres, the 100-kilometre canal was designed to have a water-carrying capacity of 2,787 cusecs.

While the water flow into the Bathinda branch was nowhere near its stipulated capacity, a drive along its banks revealed that large tracts of weeds, particularly water hyacinth, were restricting the flow of water. At several places, the mud embankments had weakened from the outside.

Officials of the Irrigation Department said water flow had been reduced by around 100 cusecs and the canal, in its present condition, could not take more water without risking damage to its banks.

Sources said though the issue of clearing weeds and desilting the canal had been taken up with the state government several times, paucity of funds had proved a roadblock.

Flow of water into rajwahas (narrow V-shaped distributaries), which carried canal water to the fields, had also been reduced to a considerable extent.

Another factor was that canal water was becoming polluted as residents of towns and villages along its course threw garbage and other affluents into it, with the authorities not exercising any check.


Mann for central aid to Punjab farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, today demanded adequate central assistance for Punjab farmers whose kharif crop stands ruined. The Centre should waive the loans of farmers, as had been done in the case of industrialists.

Mr Mann said the drought-like conditions in the country in general and Punjab in particular should at least now make the government effect changes in its foreign policy in respect to Islamic states. If Punjab could trade its agricultural produce with Pakistan and Central Asian Republics via Wagah and Hussainiwala, the state could get gas and electricity in exchange.

Locational disadvantages have deprived Punjab of natural minerals like coal. This heightened the need for more hydro-electric projects.

On the sharing of water, Mr Mann said Punjab was opposed to any constitutional amendments.


Town greets rain with laddoos
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 31
Even as prayers were being held by desperate farmers for the past several weeks, rain hit various areas of the region late last night and early today, the people of this area distributed sweet rice and laddoos to welcome the delayed monsoon.

For the past many weeks, people in the region have been holding yajanas and performing “goodi phookna” to appease the rain god. Due to delayed monsoon, paddy and cotton crop in thousands of acres which had dried was ploughed by the farmers.

As the paddy and cotton crop in different areas of Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot districts, had started wilting a section of farmers had to sell jewellery to purchase diesel to run their tubewells for irrigating their fields. In some areas, the farmers had to deepen their wells as the level of underground water had gone down considerably.

Official sources said Bathinda subdivision received 23.4 mm of rain, while Talwandi Sabo received 4 mm, in Mansa, there was 2 mm while in Rampura Phul, there was 6 mm of rain.

Meanwhile, the heavy rain in the city threw normal life out of gear with areas, including the Mall road and the nearby residential colonies inundated.


Waive farm loans: BKU
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 31
The Bharatiya Kisan Union has demanded that the entire Punjab state be declared drought-hit and interest on all agriculture loans waived.

In a statement signed by the district organising secretary, Mr Budh Ram Bishnoi, block president Gurjant Singh and vice-president Hardit Sheoran of the BKU regretted that the government only reacted during calamities.

Ruling parties had given scant thought to the fate of cotton growers who had suffered due to the attack of the American bollworm, inadequate supply of canal waters for irrigation and failure of the authorities to supply certified seed for the past four years.

The BKU leaders said Ferozepore district, being close to Rajasthan, faced greater scarcity of water. The American bollworm had started affecting the crop. Abohar had emerged as the largest insecticides selling centre. Rates here were allegedly higher than in other cities as local traders did not allow dealers from outside to transact business here.


BKU activists hijack 3 buses
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 31
At least 30 activists of the BKU today allegedly hijacked three buses plying on link roads in Talwandi Sabo subdivision of this district.

Mr Hakam Singh Jatana, a transporter, alleged that BKU activists had hijacked the buses on the pretext that bus operators had been overcharging the fare from passengers. He said the issue pertaining to the fare had been decided by the authorities concerned. He said BKU activists were armed with sharp-edged weapons and lathis. He said a complaint in this connection had been lodged with the SSP to secure the release of buses, drivers and conductors.


Punjab should have own population, health policies
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The draft state development report recommends that Punjab should frame own policies on population, health and education.

The highlights of the report, commissioned by the Planning Commission and prepared by the Chandigarh-based Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development, were recently presented to Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh. The implementation of most of the recommendations, he was told, required minimum budgetary support and the stress was on private participation with state acting as a facilitator.

Whereas the report draws attention to the post-1966 achievements of Punjab, it acknowledges the ‘’quantitative’’ spread of social and economic services and also refers to lack of ‘’qualitative’’ aspect of these services.

There is a telling comment in the report on the human resource development, which Punjab has neglected while pursuing economic policies. The deprivations identified in human resource are literacy, declining male:female ratio, neglect of mother and child care, relatively lower life expectancy rate and higher infant mortality rate.

In Punjab, 51 per cent of the population is completely illiterate, one-fourth has studied till the primary level or below, the percentage of the middle-pass and matriculates is 9 and 10, respectively, and only 3 per cent are graduates and above. The educational institutions have inadequate or no buildings. The civic amenities are woefully missing. Schools do not attract students and absenteeism among teachers is all pervasive.

The teacher-pupil ratio has not changed at the primary level (1971-2000) despite expansion in the education sphere. This ratio, for instance, was 55 and 60, respectively, in Muktsar and Mansa. Lopsided development in the education system has also precipitated employment scenario in the state. Of the total 5.49 lakh unemployed (September, 2001), three-fourths are educated but jobless.

The story of health delivery system and health of Punjabis is no better. The state spends from 1.5 per cent to 3 per cent of its budget on health services. In terms of infrastructure, both private and government, health services look impressive. But the healthcare system needs greater attention. The rate of morbidity is high and the duration of illness long. Several chronic diseases afflict the people — asthma, piles, rheumatism, bronchitis, tuberculosis, epilepsy, kidney stone or urinary problems, hypertension. The facilities for pre and post-natal care for maternal and child health care need improvement.

As one of the richer states in terms of the per capita income, Punjab still has an infant mortality rate of 52 per 1,000 live births. Punjabis are no longer health conscious. At least 14.8 per cent adults in rural Punjab are obese and the percentage of obesity among women is the highest in India — 30.2. The percentage of underweight children is 29 while 41.4 per cent women and 80 per cent children (six months to 35 months) are anaemic.


Conspiracy hatched to frame me: Bhunder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, a former minister and General Secretary of the SAD, said here today that a conspiracy had been hatched to implicate him in false cases. Some of his political opponents had procured affidavits against him for this purpose, he added.

He said he had never charged a single penny for the allocation of grants from the funds which were provided to him as a member of the Rajya Sabha. In fact, funds were released by the Deputy Commissioner concerned through cheques to the Sarpanches and BDOs concerned. “I had no role as far as the releasing of funds was concerned. My only job was to forward the request to release the funds for a particular project or work to the Deputy Commissioner concerned”, he added.

Mr Bhunder alleged that Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, who joined the Congress quitting the Akali Dal

( Amritsar) a few months ago, was defeated by him in the last Assembly elections. Mr Mofar was procuring affidavits against him as he could not digest his defeat and “ is now using other means against me,” Mr Bhunder reasoned.

He said he had a prolonged ongoing political tussle with Mr Mofar . Even a case was registered against a close relative of Mr Mofar during the 1997 Assembly elections. When asked whether he was apprehending action against him from the Vigilance Department, Mr Bhunder said he had read in newspapers that a complaint against him had been forwarded to the Vigilance Bureau by the Home Secretary, “In the prevailing atmosphere in the state anything could happen”, he added.

Mr Bhunder said Mr Mofar considered him a big political hurdle in his ( Mofar) political career.

“ I started my political career as a sarpanch of the village and had the opportunity to serve people of the state as a minister in 1978, Chairman of the Mandi Board and as a member of the Rajya Sabha. But no one levelled a single charge against me during that period, “ he said. “ It is now that certain persons are trying to get false cases registered against me.


Transfer Principal, insist students
Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti to hold inquiry
Tribune News Service

Sandhuan (Ropar), July 31
While all 35 students of the local Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, who fled on the intervening night of July 28 and July 29 from the school’s hostel due to alleged “ill treatment” by the school authorities, are demanding the transfer of the principal, the Chandigarh-based regional office of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti has decided to conduct a departmental inquiry before taking any action against the principal or the students.

A closed-door meeting between the students and the district administration was held today. Mr Vikas Garg,ADC, Ropar, represented the administration. The ADC also held a meeting with the school staff. These meetings were also attended by two deputy directors of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti from Chandigarh and Delhi. However, the ADC declined to give details of the meetings, saying that the Deputy Commissioner would brief the press about these.

After the meeting, the students, while talking to mediapersons, demanded the transfer of the principal, Mr S.S Bedi, and alleged that the school authorities “tortured” and “ill-treated” them like animals. They said this was the main reason behind their fleeing from the hostel. They held the principal responsible for all this. The students said their studies were suffering due to lack of proper facilities in the hostel and “mental torture” by the school authorities.

The students alleged that the deputy directors of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti had not heard their grievances properly.

Mr M.L. Sharma, Deputy Director, regional office of the Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti in Chandigarh, said the samiti would hold a departmental inquiry into the incident. He said the inquiry would be completed in a fortnight.

Mr Sharma, who was accompanied by Deputy Director Kuldip Singh from Delhi, said whosoever (staff or students) was found guilty, would face action.

Mr Paramjit Singh, Mr Bikar Singh and Mr Ashok Singh, whose children study in the school, threatened to withdraw them from the school in case the conditions were not improved. They alleged that they had never been allowed by the authorities to meet their children in the hostel. They alleged that children were being served inferior food in the hostel.


HC pulls up DEO on appointments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Strange but true. Candidates lower on the merit were appointed as JBT teachers in the state of Punjab after ignoring deserving cases.

Taking up a petition filed by two such claimants, Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court have directed the Principal Secretary in Union Department of Education to hold an inquiry to find out why candidates higher on merit were overlooked.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by Raj Kumari and another applicant, the Judges also asked the Principal Secretary to submit his report to the court and fixed August 26 as the next date of hearing.

The Judges further directed the state and other respondents to appoint the petitioners forthwith. Allowing their petition, the Judges held that the petitioners were entitled to Rs 10,000 as costs.

Coming down heavily on the District Education Officer, the Judges observed: “The case discloses a sad state of affairs. It does not reflect well on the authorities in the Education Department. In particular, the conduct of the DEO was not fair. The petitioners, higher in merit, had a better right to be appointed than the persons below them. Their claims were arbitrarily overlooked.”

The Judges further observed: “Counsel for the petitioner stated that a petitioner’s husband had gone to the DEO’s office. There was a demand for money. Since payment was not made, a letter of appointment was not issued. He further submitted that it was on account of lack of direct evidence that the petitioner was not able to make a specific allegation in the petition.... The circumstances of the case speak for themselves. It is clear that the DEO had failed to issue letters of appointment to the petitioners without any justifiable cause”.

In their detailed order, Mr Justice Gupta, speaking for the Bench, added: “It is the admitted position that the petitioners were higher in the order of merit than various persons appointed as JBT teachers. Why were the petitioners overlooked? There is no explanation whatsoever. The petitioners had admittedly represented. Even then, the error was not rectified. They were forced to approach this court. Yet the authorities did not undo this injustice. A junior person of the rank of DEO has filed an affidavit on behalf of the state government as well as Director”.

The Judge concluded: “The petitioners having brought the matter to the notice of the authorities through a writ petition, the least that was expected was that some responsible officer would look into the matter, fix responsibility and take appropriate action against the erring officer. Nothing of the sort has been done. Instead, a puerile plea was made that there was communication gap. What was the communication gap? Who had committed it? Nothing has been stated in the affidavit.... The writ petition is allowed. It is directed that the petitioners shall be appointed forthwith”.


Minister’s stand stalls PTU probe
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
A vigilance inquiry ordered by the Punjab government into the affairs of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, has run into trouble.

A note written by the Director, Outreach Programme, PTU, and forwarded to Secretary, Technical Education, has claimed that the inquiry instituted by the state government is not valid because the university is an autonomous body. Only the PTU Board of Governors is competent to take a decision in the matter. Since the Board of Governors of the university has neither considered this issue nor taken any decision to hold an enquiry, the vigilance inquiry is invalid, and should, therefore, be wound up.

The Minister for Technical Education, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, is said to have concurred with this view. He has ordered that both the Department of Technical Education as well as the Vigilance Department be apprised of this position.

The stand of the PTU and the Minister for Technical Education has come as a surprise for the Department of Technical Education because the case had been handed over to the Vigilance with the knowledge and approval of both the minister as the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. What has brought about this about-turn in the views of the minister is a mystery.

The PTU has been the vortex of a raging controversy for a long time over the acts of omission and commission of its previous Vice-Chancellor. It is alleged that a large number of appointments have been made in the PTU without following any established procedure. Many of the members of the PTU faculty are also alleged to be underqualified. There have also many cases of leakage of question papers leakage in annual examinations.

Some of the innovative programmes launched by the PTU including distance education and the opening of private engineering colleges have also been questioned. It has been alleged that the PTU has deviated from its mandate of conducting research and development in technical education and upgrading the technical skills of the students. Instead, it has unauthorisedly ventured into the field of awarding franchises for opening private centres for providing technical education in the field of IT and other branches of engineering under the garb of distance education.

It has been alleged that money rather than merit has played a major role in the selection of master franchises of distance education centres and service providers as also the new engineering colleges. There are about a dozen master franchises and 140 distance education service provides in Punjab and elsewhere in the country.

There have been complaints that while deciding the allotment of master franchises and service providers, no norms, if any, were followed. People who were not even remotely connected with education had been given franchises. A large number of service providers allegedly do not have either the necessary infrastructure or properly qualified faculty.

Therefore, one of the first acts of Mrs Romila Dubey after taking over as Principal Secretary of Technical Education, about two months ago, was to hand over the whole case to the Vigilance Department. It has already made considerable progress in the inquiry. It has summoned records, visited the premises of scores of service providers and questioned their owners. Sources in the department says that the inquiry report would be submitted to the government within a fortnight. But now the note forwarded by the minister has thrown a spanner in the works.


Badal trying to ‘shield’ Akali leaders
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, July 31
Mr Gurdas Girdhar, member, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) yesterday alleged that former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in order to “shield” the Akali leaders, who had been exposed by the Vigilance Bureau, was making meaningless statements.

Addressing a workers’ meeting here, Mr Girdhar said during Mr Badal’s tenure corruption had increased. He alleged that when the present government launched a campaign against corruption Mr Badal and other members of his party were trying to divert the attention of people towards non-issues.

He alleged that even the state president of the BJP, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, has pointed out on many occasions that there was corruption in the working of various government departments, during the tenure of Mr Badal.

Mr Girdhar said to divert peoples’ attention from the issue of corruption Mr Badal first invited an NDA team to take stock of the situation and later gave a memorandum to the Punjab Governor.


CPI holds protest rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 31
The Communist Party of India (CPI) held a rally in the city to protest against the policies of the government.

The party passed a resolution and demanded that tax levied on pesticides, fertilisers and diesel should be withdrawn. The leaders of the party alleged that farmers, employees and poor people were badly affected by the policies of the government as prices of many items had increased.

The CPI also demanded monetary help for the farmers so that they do not have to sell jewellery, tractors, milch cattle and other household items for purchasing diesel.


CPI for all-party meeting
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 31
While criticising the Congress government for its alleged failure to project the case of Punjab farmers, who were like facing hardships due to prevailing drought like situation in the state, during the recently concluded meeting of Agriculture Ministers at Delhi, the state unit of Communist Party of India (CPI) today demanded that Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should convene an all-party meeting to outline proper strategy to discuss the current drought-like situation in the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, the secretary of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dyal alleged that the state government was shirking responsibility with regard to the welfare of farmers, who were hit hard due to delay in the arrival of monsoon.


Professionals hold rally
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Under the banner of the Coordination Committee of the Professional Services Association, Punjab, hundreds of professionals from various departments of the state government held a rally here yesterday in protest against the government’s move to declare 41 batches selected during the tenure of suspended PPSC Chairman, Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, as “tainted”. They urged the government not to take any hasty step and review its decision pertaining the issuance of an ordinance to remove the “tainted” professionals.

Among those who participated in the rally were engineers of PWD , Punjab Irrigation, Punjab Public Health, Punjab Panchayati Raj and Punjab Polytechnic departments besides Punjab Farm technocrats.

Addressing the rally, various speakers said not a single person of 1999 batch of the PWD (B and R) had been named for using foul means for selection by touts of Mr Sidhu during the investigation. The batch had some gold medallists and toppers from reputed engineering institutes. Selection of the batch was made by a committee having members and technical experts appointed by the PPSC. There was no involvement of Mr Sidhu in the selections. Among the 15 selected sub divisional engineers in general category, seven were masters’ degree holders in engineering against the requirement of a bachelor degree as qualification.

They said the inquiry conducted by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) was one sided. No SDE had been questioned by the VB as no name was mentioned by touts. The government should not proceed against them and protect the meritorious candidates, they added.


Details sought on Langah’s ‘fake’ passport
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has asked the Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh, to supply complete details of the “fake” passport pertaining to ex-minister Sucha Singh Langah so that the purpose of his foreign visits and overseas suspicious contacts be ascertained.

Mr Langah had also disclosed that the contracts — given to big construction firms Pearl Company and others — were allotted strictly under the directions of the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

The bureau spokesman said that Langah was intentionally concealing his fake passport.


Police treatment to Langah decried
Our Correspondent

Amritsar July 31
While supporting the anti-corruption drive launched by the Chief Minister, Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa and Mr Surinder Singh Gharyala, Deputy Chairman and Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Commission and the Khalra Commission Committee, respectively, in a press statement here today condemned the alleged police-highhandedness with Mr Sucha Singh Langah, former PWD minister in police custody.


Strike by PSEB staff on Aug 13
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 31
Employees of the PSEB will observe a strike on August 13 to demand the withdrawal of a circular related to 25 per cent deduction in the salaries of employees of Classes- I, II and III, and 10 per cent deduction in the salaries of Class- IV employees. The circular was issued by the PSEB on July 22 with a view to improving the financial health of the board.

Mr Rathey Shyam Sharma, convener of the PSEB Employees Struggle Committee, said here today that they would force the board management to withdraw the circular and refund the deducted amounts.

He also said the employees would hold demonstrations with black flags before the Chairman and members of the PSEB from August 1 to August 13.

He said the Board’s financial condition might be improved by receiving dues of crores of rupees pending towards different departments, curbing power theft and withdrawing subsidies to various categories.


5 die as train, tractor collide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 31
Three women and two children were killed and two others injured, including the driver of the tractor-trailer, when they were hit by a passenger train at an unmanned railway crossing near Kerakhera village on the Abohar-Bathinda section today.

Sources said 2 SHB Sriganganagar-Bathinda passenger train left Abohar at 12.30 p.m. for Bathinda. As a tractor-trailer tried to cross the unmanned crossing it was hit by the train. Fortunately the trailer got separated from the tractor, which got completely damaged. Its tool box was found at a distance of 300 m.

Eyewitnesses told the correspondent that the train repeatedly whistled. A bus following the tractor also horned. The occupants of the tractor-trailer also raised an alarm but the driver of the tractor could not control the vehicle. He would have passed had the trailer not got stuck into an iron girder near the crossing.

The train met with the accident 20 minutes after leaving the local platform. The victims were brought to the Civil Hospital here but three of them were declared brought dead by the doctors.

The main gates of the emergency ward had to be closed as hundreds of people thronged the hospital compound while relatives of the victims were seen wailing.

Those killed were identified as Bhagan Devi (40), wife of Krishan Kumar, Geeta (28), wife Ram Swarup, and Gagan (10), Shanti Devi (60), wife of Datta Ram, and Samman (15) brother of Gagan. The driver of the tractor, Lal Chand, and Luxman Ram were still struggling for life.

Deputy Commissioner D.K. Tiwari visited the site along with SDM Jaskiran Singh and other officers. The villagers said the blind turns affected the visibility of the driver. Mr Tiwari asked the SDM to send a special report recommending technical alterations in the track, besides the creation of a manned crossing there.

Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, MLA, also visited the site and spent an hour at the Civil Hospital.

The District Congress president, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, expressed shock over the incident and said he would take up the matter with the railway officials.


AISSF (Gill) seeks Badal’s arrest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
All-India Sikh Students Federation headed by Harminder Singh Gill have in a statement said that whereas former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, during his tenure never supported the genuine demands of “dharmi” faujis and did little to rehabilitate Army deserters or those Sikh youth who had been languishing in jails, it is “amusing” to see his support for the corrupt ministers of his Cabinet.


Tributes paid to Rafi
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
The Mohammad Rafi Society headed by patron Mr Nirmal Singh Dheer today paid tributes to the noted singer Mohammad Rafi on the occasion of his 22nd death anniversary here.

Mr Dheer informed that the society would organise a high-level programme in September.


Remand extended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 31
Special CBI Magistrate Jaspinder Singh Heyer yesterday extended the police remand of Gurbaksh Singh Kukoo, prime accused in murder case of Congressman Harmesh Kumar Mukhija till August 3.


46 police officers shuffled
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
The Punjab Home Department today ordered the posting and transfer of 46 police officers.

Among those shifted are two district police chiefs. Mr Shiv Kumar is new SSP, Moga, while Mr Major Singh is SSP, Muktsar.

Mr Arpit Shukla has been posted as Joint Director, Vigilance Bureau, Chandigarh.

Several changes have been effected in respect of Commandants and SP-level officers. The transfer of at least six SPs, who were shifted on July 11, has also been cancelled.


Order on transport of animals

Kapurthala, July 31
District Magistrate Rakesh Kumar today directed the transporters and the railway authorities not to transport animals, particularly cattle, purchased at animal fairs without obtaining a no-objection certificate from the Animal Welfare Board of India or the Centre in the district. He said the non-compliance of these orders would be dealt with in accordance with the law.

The District Magistrate issued the order following complaints that a large number of animals, particularly cattle, was being purchased at animal fairs for slaughter. UNI


DC orders closure of schools
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
The District Magistrate, Mr Sawinder Singh Puri, has ordered the closure of all government and private schools till August 4 in view of the power problem and the failure of monsoon. He said strict action would be taken against schools which defied orders.


Commandos withdrawn
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 31
Punjab police commandos guarding banks, Government Museum and Art Gallery, Sector 10 and UT Guest House here, have been withdrawn by the Punjab Government. The Central Government had reportedly asked the Punjab Government to provide six battalion of commandos for election duties in Jammu and Kashmir. They have been asked to report on August 6, sources said.


Dara Singh’s son- in-law booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 31
The police here tonight registered a case against travel agent Sunny Gill, a noted wrestler and son-in-law of reputed wrestler-cum-film star Dara Singh, for duping 60 persons of Rs 1.90 crore for sending them abroad. Sunny’s father Kashmira Singh Gill and his wife Loveleen (Daughter of Dara Singh) had also been booked it is learnt. The case had been registered under Sections 420, 406 and 120-B of the IPC and of the Immigration Act. While Sunny Gill and his father Kashmira Singh Gill are in Canada, his wife Loveleen reportedly is in Mumbai.

Sunny Gill defrauded mostly wrestlers of Rs one lakh to Rs 3.50 lakh each. He had also made a film group and lured youths. Amarjit Singh of Kanshi Nagar Mehtan had lodged complaint on behalf of 60 persons. It was learnt. Among the victims are Jaskaran Boparai, Mandip, Sukhdip Lali Samrali, Bittu Balachaur, Kaka Harjit, Sukha Gurdip Jaswinder etc.


Gang of vehicle thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
The police today claimed to have busted a gang of vehicle thieves and a four-member gang of robbers. Three persons have been arrested in this regard.

Giving details of the incident, Dr S.K. Kalia, SP (City-II) said, a number of raids had been conducted. A naka was set up near Khalsa College last evening and Gurnab Singh of Tarn Taran was arrested. During investigation, he identified his accomplices as Ranjit Singh and Raju who were still absconding.

In another incident, the police arrested Mohan Lal and Anil Kumar and recovered three stolen vehicles and two scooters from them.


BJP leader booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 31
On the instructions of Mr Rajinder Aggarwal, Subdivisional Magistrate, the city police station has booked Anil Joshi, a BJP leader, who has recently been appointed president of the Amritsar (rural) unit of the BJP, under Section 182 of the IPC for getting a false case registered.


School fee hike to hit poor: Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
Mr Sat Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, alleged the Education Minister, Mr Khushal Behl, had not been briefed about the existing conditions in government schools which could be gathered from the latter’s statement regarding a hike in school fees.

He said even as successive governments had made education more expensive, the hike would make education a preserve of the rich and exclude poor and meritorious students. The government had asked principals to make arrangements for essential material, equipments, including desk, chairs, tables books for libraries and their maintenance and repair. He said the principals would collect the money from parents and teachers by collecting these funds from the Parent-Teacher Association. The schools also raise these funds by holding variety shows to which the parents are required to contribute.

The veteran leader said the government, instead of actively contributing to a welfare fund, was trying to lay the burden on the principals.


MBBS entrance test for Sikhs on Aug 4
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 31
A medical entrance test for admission of candidates of Sikh community to MBBS and BDS courses at Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Research (GDR) will be held on August 4 at the campus of the institute.

The information has been given by Dr Rai Sudhir Prasad, Registrar (examinations). He said admit cards had been despatched to eligible candidates. The candidates who had not received their admit cards could contact the authorities. All candidates were required to bring two attested photographs and relevant documents.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |