Monday, August 5, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


Hanspal to bridge govt-public gap
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 4
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief Mr H.S. Hanspal, said today that he would work to bridge the gap between the government and the people.

Mr Hanspal, who was addressing his first press conference in Jalandhar after taking over as the PPCC chief said “I would try my best to go closer to people and tell them what the government intends to do. At the same time, my priority would be to bring problems faced by the people to the notice of the government”. The District Congress Committee chief, Mr Tejinder Bittu, the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, and the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh were among those who attended the press conference.

Mr Hanspal said since the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, had set a precedent by advocating the need for the appointment of a separate PPCC chief after becoming the Chief Minister, the party would implement the principle of one man one post and this would also be applicable to those ministers who were party office-bearers.

He said the PPCC would be reorganised as soon as the Chief Minister returns from foreign visit.

Referring to the river dispute between Punjab and Haryana, Mr Hanspal said the Punjab Government had decided to file a review petition in the Supreme Court. Mr Hanspal refuted the allegations levelled by a section in the party that he was an outsider and added that he had a long association with Punjab and henceforth would be camping in Chandigarh.

Earlier, he was welcomed by the Jalandhar Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, and a number of party functionaries, including Mr Manoj Arora, a PPCC member, and Mr Manjinder Singh Chaudhary, the president of the District Congress Committee (Rural).

Ropar: Mr Hanspal said the Congress government in Punjab would also take action against Congressmen, in case a solid complaint was received against any of them. He said this at the residence of Nangal MLA Rana K.P. Singh before proceeding for Anandpur Sahib for paying obeisance at the Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

When his attention was drawn towards the indictment of some ministers of the previous Congress government by the then Lok Pal, he said they had been indicted by the Lok Pal appointed by the SAD-BJP government. But the then Governor of Punjab had exonerated them, he added.

Mr Hanspal added the government would take action against the “corrupt” BJP leaders.

The PPCC chief said he would constitute new executive soon by making requisite changes in the old set up. He also said district units of the Congress would also be reconstituted.


Badal: panel on Hardwar case blatantly mala fide
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh August 4
Keeping up pressure on the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today alleged that the constitution of a panel by the Chief Minister comprising Advocate-General and all his kin to defend the state against himself (Capt Amarinder Singh) in the Hardwar property case “is blatantly mala fide and requires direct intervention by the judicial authority at the highest level to stop this ugly joke from being played on the people of Punjab”.

Reacting to media reports that the panel of advocates to defend the state included the names of wife, son and daughter-in-law, apart from one junior of Advocate-General Harbhagwan Singh, Mr Badal said: “it is ridiculous that as Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh will be either telling the court that his Chief Minister is lying about his claims on the said property or, more likely, would present a weak case to help the Chief Minister grab this property.

“It is strange that Captain Amarinder Singh, the Chief Minister — would be seen to be opposing Capt Amarinder Singh — the man . I have never heard of such strange happenings in the world of law and politics. Clearly, the Chief Minister and the Advocate-General both have misconducted themselves in this case”.

The Akali Dal chief described as a joke the compensation of Rs 700 per acre announced by the state government for those whose paddy had been affected by the current drought. “They have not even conducted special girdawaris for the purpose so far. And even this paltry sum is unlikely to reach the farmers because of the supremacy of bureaucracy in the government”, Mr Badal said.


Officials impeding recovery of paddy: millers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 4
Accusing officials of state procurement agencies of impeding the recovery of paddy from rice millers lieu of paddy diverted by them in 1994-95 through arbitration, the rice millers today urged the Punjab government to implement Cabinet decision of the previous SAD-BJP government on the withdrawal of criminal cases registered against such defaulters.

Punjab Rice Millers Association sources said that cases of recovery of paddy belonging to 1994-95 were settled through arbitration but the officials of state procurement agencies had been impeding implementation of those decisions to keep their balancesheets clean.

Mr Tarsem Saini, President, The Punjab Rice Millers Association alleged that almost all state procurement agencies had been suffering huge losses and to cover the losses they had been blaming the rice mills who had sold the paddy in 1994-95. He added that though the cases of recovery of that paddy had been settled through arbitration the officials concerned were impeding the implementation of the decision to save themselves from blame as the state procurement agencies had suffered heavy losses on other accounts.

He added that out of 600 rice mills, the owners of 50 rice mills, whose cases had been settled through arbitration, are facing criminal cases despite a Cabinet decision of the previous government that no criminal proceedings would be launched against any miller, whose case had been settled through arbitration.

He disclosed that the Association today decided to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court and contest the reduction made by the Centre in the rate of custom milling from Rs 23.87 to Rs 20.35 for parboiled rice. He added that the association would also take up the discontinuation of benefit of two per cent driage in case of custom milling of parboiled rice also. It was stopped by the Centre five years ago. Apart from it the association would also keep urging the Punjab government to take money from the rice millers in lieu of actual consumption of electricity by withdrawing the condition of minimum monthly charges at the rate of Rs 370 per kilowatt. He said that as rice milling was seasonal industry and agro-based, it should be extended all facilities by the government.

The association had also approached the Centre for reducing the outturn ratio of custom milling to 64 kilogram from 67 kilogram so that industry could survive.

He added that Mr Hari Pupneja had been made president of Ferozepore unit of the association while Mr Raj Narual and Mr Ashok Grower vice president and organising secretary respectively, of the parent body.

Panels to tour areas hit by drought
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 4
Four committees set-up at divisional levels by the Punjab Government will visit the worst affected areas in all districts from tomorrow onwards to assess the drought situation.

Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, said this last evening while presiding over a meeting of the senior officials and MLAs of Muktsar, Moga and Ferozepore districts.

He asked the Deputy Commissioner present in the meeting to keep a regular check on the power and water supply in order to avoid theft as the state was passing through a major power and water crisis. Punjab was getting just 988 lakh units of power daily as against the requirement of 1250 lakh units per day. At least 210 lakh units of power was being purchased by the PSEB from outside sources to cater to the needs of the consumers. Even the states of Uttaranchal, Jammu and Kashmir and the Bhakra Beas Management Board had reduced the power supply due to less production.

The Deputy Commissioner of Muktsar, Ms Usha R. Sharma, said Muktsar district was the worst affected area as no kharif crop was sown in 26,000 hectares due to the shortage of water. A large number of farmers needs to be compensated in this regards.

Similarly, Mr Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Moga, revealed that in 16,000 hectares of irrigated land, the loss has been estimated between 25 to 50 per cent while in 4,000 hectares the losses were beyond 50 per cent. As far as the situation in the district was concerned. Mr D. K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner, revealed that a total of 8,000 hectares of land was directly affected due to the shortage of water and irregular supply of power.

The Superintendent Engineer of the Irrigation Department, Mr V. K. Mantrao, brought to the notice of the Irrigation Minister that this division was getting a supply of just 2,300 cusecs of water as against the requirement of 8,500 cusecs.


A trickle to sustain on
Rashmi Talwar

Chabbal (Amritsar), August 4
Drought-like conditions have gripped the tiny hamlet of Thatha on the Amritsar-Chabbal road where about 40 Dalit families are facing an acute water shortage due to a “truant” monsoon and an “apathetic” government.

According to agriculture experts, the water level in the area has fallen below the normal mark. With taps having gone dry, village folk are trying to get water from a 30-year-old unused well, which was earlier used not only for drinking water, but also for irrigation purposes.

However, the well has nearly gone dry, which, villagers say, has never happened before.

Women can be seen sieving water using fine cloth to make it suitable for drinking. The threat of an epidemic booms large as the water is contaminated. Jagir Kaur, a villager, says, “Our MLA and the sarpanch have done little to mitigate our sufferings. She said village folk, including women, had tried to remove silt and bricks from the well, which was their only source of sustenance. Her brother-in-law Davinder said the villagers were too poor to afford Rs 5000 required for de-silting the well.


Punjab to demand 300 lakh units of power
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, August 4
To meet power crisis and uninterrupted supply for irrigation in the state, the Punjab Government will demand 300 lakh units of electricity from the national power grid.

Presently the state was drawing 1000 lakh units against its total requirement of 1260 lakh units.

This was stated by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development, Agriculture and Panahayat Minister, while addressing a public meeting here today.

Ms Bhattal along with Ms Praneet Kaur, wife of Capt Amarinder Singh, were here to conduct a survey of drought-hit areas in the Banur Assembly constituency.

She stressed on the diversification of crops and appealed to the farmers to go for cash crops to get rid of such droughts in the future.

She said the government had chalked out a plan relating to marketing of the produce in the international market.

For this purpose international-level consultancy house was being set up.

Agriculture zones had been created state wide so that the farmers should be educated to opt for cash crops.

The government would demand Rs 700 crore as calamity relief fund from the Centre as over 75 per cent of the kharif crop had been damaged. Of this Rs 100 crore were needed to carry immediate relief measures in the state, she said.

Ms Praneet Kaur said the government would do all best possible to tackle the drought-like situation in the state.

Among others who spoke on the occasion were Mr R.R. Bhardwaj, Deputy Director, Punjab State Planning Board, Mr Tejvir Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon, general secretary, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Krishan Pal Sharma, Ms Sheelam Sohi and Mr Sahibjit Singh Sandhu.


Councillor’s nephew stabbed to death
Murder linked to drug menace
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 4
One person was stabbed to death and another received grave wounds in a clash between two groups in Sirhind’s Brahman Majra late yesterday. The stabbed youth, Pawan Kumar,18, and his friend, Rajinder ‘Jindri’, 19, had been moved to Civil Hospital in a serious condition. Pawan was the nephew of Mr Balbir Singh Balli, municipal councillor from Brahman Majra.

According to an FIR registered at the Sirhind police station, Pawan and Rajinder were returning home after attending a religious function in the locality when three youths, named Harjit Singh, Roda and Karma, who had knives, came there along with some other youths armed with sticks and attacked them. On hearing their cries for help, Mr Kesar Singh, Pawan’s uncle, reached there and found Pawan in the street, stabbed and down, following which, he took the injured youths to the hospital. There, Pawan succumbed to his injuries.

The police said personal enmity was the cause of the murder. The persons of the area said the feud was between Rajinder and Harjit, who had clashed a few days earlier as well, following which, Jindri’s parents had lodged a protest with Harjit’s parents. Pawan had died in trying to save Jindri.

Both councillors from Brahman Majra said the murder had its roots in the increasing use of intoxicants among the youth. They said Brahman Majra had become a haven for drug-peddlers and addicts. The area is, now, notorious for illegal activities, including immoral trafficking and illegal sale of intoxicants and drugs. The peddlers include even some women, who sell poppy husk openly, while the police plays a silent spectator. Drugstore-owners of the area sell intoxicants and the Drug Inspector and other officials ignore these activities for a monthly cut. Half of the youths of the area are, now, drug addicts.

The councillors urged the district administration and the police to take action against these elements and pledged the support of all local persons in uprooting the menace. Mr Raj Kumar, local Station House Officer, said a case had been registered and hideouts of the accused had been raided.

Meanwhile, Pawan’s body was cremated here today after a post-mortem examination. There was a huge gathering at the funeral. Dr Harbans Lal, Minister of State for Forests; and Pt Naresh Sharma, Mr Subhash Sood, Mr Sadhu Ram, Mr Vaid Hari Krishan, senior leaders of the Congress; have condemned the attack.


Khalsa panchayat to confront Ashutosh followers
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht and the Khalsa Panchayat have separately resolved to physically counter Noormahalia sect chief Ashutosh and his followers if the ‘government’ allowed him to hold sammelans in the state which denigrated the Sikh gurus, Guru Granth Sahib and Sikhism.”

These resolves come a day before the meeting convened by the Sikh high priests at Akal Takht on August 5 to work out a strategy to counter the spread of the sect in wake of the firing in which 18 persons were injured .

Bhai Ranjit Singh, accompanied by Baba Sarbjot Singh Bedi of the Sant Samaj declared that it was an “either with us or against us situation” where all appeals to the government had failed and physical confrontation was the only way to tackle the latest crisis looming before the Sikhs. The previous Akali government had also failed to rein in self-styled godman Piara Singh Bhaniara and it was only the fear of direct confrontation with the people that had aroused the authorities from slumber, they pointed out.

The former Akal Takht chief warned that if something was not done soon there was all likelihood of the situation going out of control. “The present government should learn from the past and nip the evil in the bud since the Akalis have lost all moral high ground by preaching what they themselves did not practise,” he said.

“It’s a matter of shame that the Akali Dal — a party which had rich traditions of sacrifices for the ‘qaum’ — was now embroiled in corruption charges and busy saving its ministers and other lackeys from the authorities”, he added.

He added that “if things come to a pass, we will pick the ‘dera’ of the Noormahalias and force them to flee the state. No one can play with religious sentiments of the people.”

On the other hand, talking to The Tribune from the Christian Medical College Khalsa Panchayat chief Charanjit Singh Channi where he is under treatment following having received two gunshots at Malout, also reiterated that “Akal Takht was the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs and he would do nothing to denigrate it, but his outfit, along with other like-minded organisations, would not scale down their resolve of physical confrontation with the Noormahalias whenever and wherever they organised their sammelans. Our activists are attending the meeting at Akal Takht tomorrow but nothing short of a ban on the activities of Noormahalias is acceptable to us,” he affirmed.

Mr Channi, who was interrupted continually by a stream of visitors including Nihangs from Punjab and Haryana, grimly observed that “it was unfortunate that our leaders have let us down and it is now left to the masses to take matters in their own hands. We have seen that appeals to the Panth leaders do not have the desired effect since only direct action rouses them from their reverie,” he added.

He revealed that district-wise teams have been constituted to keep a tab on the activities of the sect while a special response team was on the anvil to pick and disrupt — by force if necessary — any function organised by the sect followers. “We are not afraid of bullets since the Sikhs have a long history of laying down their lives for their beliefs and tenets and will not flinch from doing so even today”, he stressed.

Meanwhile, Baba Santokh Singh of the Shiromani Jarnail Baba Jiwan Singh (Haryana ) order of the Nihangs said his followers would attend the meeting and support the stand taken by the Sikh high priests at the Akal Takht tomorrow. The Baba added that his followers were ready for carrying out the order of the Takht even at the cost of their lives.

The local unit of the Shaheed Baba Deep Singh Youth Federation has also reiterated its resolve of disrupting any function of the Noormahalias and would support all like-minded outfits.


KMC to honour Malout firing victims
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 4
The Khalra Mission committee and other Sikh organisations of the town at a meeting here today decided to honour the persons injured in police firing in Malout two days back. When they were protesting against the holding of a congregation by Maharaj Ashutosh head of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Noormehal.

Mr Jasbir Singh Padhri, Mr Joginder Singh Fauji and others addressed the meeting and demanded the arrest of Sharda Nand preacher of Ashutosh against whom an FIR has been registered at the local city police station under Section 295A and 506 of the IPC for alleged by using objectionable remarks/ comments against Sikh Gurus and Sikh religion. The victims would be honoured here on August 10.


Survey on labourers in Punjab soon
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Punjab’s Employment and Labour Department plans to conduct a fresh survey of labourers, both children and bonded, in the state to assess their conditions especially after drought in several states and drought-like conditions in Punjab.

Since thousands of families have reportedly reached the state from Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, UP and other states to various towns and villages in the state, along with their children, officials of the Labour Department say it is likely to affect the on-going efforts of the state government to rehabilitate child labourers as well as bonded labour.

Mr Sanjay Kumar, Director of the Department of Employment and Labour, says. “The department has already received a grant from the International Labour Organisation and a matching grant by the Union Ministry of Labour has been released to the state Finance Department. The survey is likely to start shortly as we are finalising the agency outside the state that would conduct the survey and submit the report to strengthen our programmes.’’

He says: “There are very few children from Punjab, who are engaged in work: it is rather the children of migrant labourers particularly from Bangladesh, that are working in sports goods and other industries.”

The department is already running about 100 schools in Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar in collaboration with NGOs to rehabilitate about 5,000 child labourers. The Union Labour Ministry is reportedly providing an annual grant of Rs 9 crore to run these schools.

Incidentally, the Institute for Development and Communication (IDC), Chandigarh, recently completed a study on child labourers in Punjab. The study was sponsored by UNICEF and Punjab State Human Rights Commission. Dr Manjit Singh, Department of Sociology, Panjab University, Mr A .D Sud and Mr Varinder Sharma of IDC, who co-authored study, said, “The number of highly exploited children in Punjab is around 22,000 to 25,000. The condition of children working in sports goods industry in Jalandhar, knitwear industry in Ludhiana and on dhabas and in brick kilns is pathetic. The child labourers are neither paid adequate wages nor good working conditions.’’

The study found that about 80 per cent of such children, working on dhabas, basically belong to Bihar, UP and other states, and were paid Rs 550 monthly on an average, though they had to work for more than 12 hours. They were highly exploited and prone to child abuse. The study also found that condition of children working in sports industry, has relatively improved over the years due to international attention and efforts of the NGOs.

The children in sports goods industry now work for four hours, on an average, and had access to school education. The detailed study of 500 houses from 11 slums has also confirmed that 11 per cent of the children in the 6-14 age group were actually working, and 45 per cent wanted to work as labourers. But they did not have access to working opportunities. Consequently they were just loitering away and not going to school.

Dr Pramod Kumar, IDC, Director, says, “The study has suggested long and short term measures to deal with the situation. The slum policy and urban poverty alleviation programmes should concentrate on the social and economic development of these vulnerable groups besides specific programmes for rural development and universal education in other states. The schools run by the labour department should be made more attractive to properly rehabilitate the child labourers.”


Complaints pile up at PHRC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
There are at least 800 “unallotted’’ complaints in the Punjab Human Rights Commission, (PHRC) which is facing a shortage of members.

While Justice J S Sekhon quit on April 12 (shortly before his term was to end on May 4) to join as Chief Commissioner, Gurdwara Elections, the PHRC Chairman, Justice V. K. Khanna and another member, Mr T. S. Cheema, completed their terms on July 15. Of the two serving members, Mr M.S. Chahal, retires on August 7 while, other member Maninder Kaur Mattewal’s term ends on March 10, 2003. In fact, only on August 1, the government had passed orders enabling Mr Chahal to exercise the powers of the Chairman.

The prevailing situation has affected PHRC working leading to the piling up of complaints. It is reliably learnt that the appointment committee has cleared the name of Mr N. K. Arora, a former Chief Secretary and at present Presiding Officer, Sales Tax Tribunal-II, for appointment, as a member of the PHRC. He retires on August 31.

As per the Act, the PHRC Chairman has to be the retired Chief Justice of a high court and one member each must be a retired judge of a high court and a District and Sessions Judge. The other two members must be ‘’familiar with the human rights issues’’.

Mr Arora is likely to fill the slot being vacated by Mr Chahal. The term of a member is either 5 years or till the age of 70 years, whichever is earlier. After August 7, the commission will still be left with three vacancies, including that of the Chairman.

Enquiries have revealed that the file on the appointment of Mr Arora is yet to reach Punjab Raj Bhavan.


Mofar wants Bhunder to clarify stand
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 4
Senior Congress leader and former MLA Ajit Inder Singh Mofar today while claiming that he had no personal enmity with Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary, SAD, said Mr Bhunder should reply to the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

Reacting to Mr Bhunder’s statement that Mr Mofar was playing mischief to defame him by levelling corruption charges against him, Mr Mofar said in a press conference addressed here today that being a part of the Congress government in Punjab, his duty was to bring to book persons who had amassed huge wealth by misusing their “political powers”. He added that the people of Punjab had given the mandate to the Congress on its anti-corruption drive plank.

He added that Mr Bhunder should explain why he had moved an application for anticipatory bail in the court when no criminal case had been registered against him.


Revenue record tampered with?
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 4
Even as revenue officials of the local tehsil office have been “committing repeated mistakes” in the maintenance of the revenue record, three affected persons — Mr Mohan Lal Garg, former chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, Mr Ashok Bharti and Mr Parkash Chand (both advocates) — have been running from pillar to post to get justice for the past many weeks but in vain.

Mr Ishwar Singh district police chief, said an inquiry had been instituted into the complaint lodged by one of the affected persons and action would be taken according to the law after getting the inquiry report. The SP (City) would hold the inquiry, he added.

Officials of the Revenue Department first entered the ownership of Gursewak Singh in the mutation record on April 15, 1998, for 317 square yards instead of 90 square yards.

Mr Gursewak Singh, after becoming the owner of 317 square yards, executed a sale deed of a 217 square-yard plot in the name of his wife in 2001 allegedly mentioning wrong sides surrounding the plot to establish its identity. On the basis of the sale deed, the ownership was transferred in the revenue record in the name of his wife after mutation.

The wife of Mr Gursewak Singh further sold the same piece of land by mentioning different sides surrounding the plot and showing two rooms and two temporary structures present on it to three persons in July, 2002.

Before the wife of Mr Gursewak Singh executed the sale deed on July 19, 2002, an application was moved in a police station on July 8 by Mr Ashok Bharti, one of the affected persons, for registering a case against those who had committed a fraud on them.

On July 10, 2002, the revenue patwari, who made entries in the mutation register regarding the ownership of Mr Gursewak Singh, came to know about his mistake and sent a report to the Tehsildar, Bathinda. On July 17, 2002, an entry was made in the mutation register to amend the mutation made on April 15, 1998.

Interestingly, the same Tehsildar, who ordered for amending the entries in the mutation on the basis of the report sent to him by the patwari, registered the sale deed of same piece of land executed by wife of Mr Gursewak Singh in favour of the three persons.

Mr G.K. Singh, officiating Deputy Commissioner, asked the SDM and the Tehsildar, Bathinda, to take immediate action in this regard and sent a report to him after a complaint was lodged with him by Mr Ashok Bharti on July 30. Whether the report has been submitted by the SDM or not, however, could not be known.

Mr Bharti alleged that revenue officials, in connivance with some other people, tampered with the revenue record as the “khasra” number of the piece of land in question was changed. He added that the sale deed executed by some other persons was registered by the revenue official, despite the fact that the patwari had confessed in writing that he had made wrong entries in the mutation register.


First animal shelter resurrected
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Pashupalika, India’s first police-run animal shelter, is being resurrected, thanks to efforts by the Punjab Police and animal lovers.

The round-the-clock animal shelter, opened in July last year by the Jalandhar police owing to efforts by then SSP Gaurav Yadav, had brought laurels to the Jalandhar police and had enabled it to break its image of a “danda-wielding” police force.

The effort was not only appreciated by residents and animal lovers of the Doaba region, but had also prompted the then Union Minister, Ms Maneka Gandhi, to send a commendation letter to Mr Yadav, and had asked the then DGP to open more such centres aimed at helping animals in agony. Though the centre had come up well, but gradually it had fallen to politics and waning interest of police top brass resulting in the creation of hurdles in animal welfare work. The situation had come to such a pass that payment of fodder bills had been stopped and SPOs deputed for running the shelter had been withdrawn by “indifferent” police officers.

But what is a good news for animal lovers is that finally this four-kanal shelter at the local Police Lines is getting a facelift due to interest taken by SSP Paramjit Singh Gill and SP Shammi Kumar, who have drawn up a plan to revive the lost glory of this animal helpline of Punjab.

The resurrection process has taken off with construction of a clinic-cum-doctor’s office at the entrance to the centre. “We are also planning to construct a fodder shed within the premises,” said Mr Shammi Kumar, adding that the ground level of the centre premises has been raised with sand to prevent any discomfort to animals due to collection of rain water. The air-conditioned clinic would also be used as a reception room. Three SPOs had been attached to the centre to assist volunteers in rescue and rehabilitation operations.

When contacted Dr G.S. Bedi of the People for Animals (PFA), who has been playing a key role at the centre as a volunteer along with animal lover Chander Bhushan, said he was glad to see the centre regaining its lost glory. The PFA had already attached an ambulance to the centre, which was providing shelter to about 12 to 13 dogs and other animals.

“Even with almost no resources, we had been able to treat about 50 animals during past one year. But now on police officers taking interest, I hope, we would be able to help animals with more zeal,” said Mr Chander Bhushan, who had got treated a number of sick animals. He said seven diseased dogs treated at the centre had been rehabilitated at Piran di Mazaar in Bansi Bawa Khel.

Mr Bedi said Mr Gill has assured him that all the fodder and medicine bills would be cleared as soon as possible.


Teenager’s adventures land her in Kupwara
Anirudh Gupta

From a small town of Ladhuka in this border district of Ferozepore to Kupwara in Kashmir, the story of Monica (name changed) a teenager girl, has all ingredients of a real Bollywood flick, complete with twists and turns. She left home in search of greener pastures as she did not like a mundane life. She did not want to continue her studies in the small backward place as desired by her parents.

Providence arranged a chance meeting with a Kashmiri belle who assured her that it was easy to get a good job in Kashmir, even if one was a matriculate.

Fascinated by the proposition, ‘Monica’ left home with a mere Rs 200 in her pocket. While she was boarding a bus for Ferozepore at the Fazilka bus stand, she met Sukhdev Bhandari, from whom she used to learn music. She asked him to convey to her parents that she was leaving home on her own and that they should not worry about her. When she reached Ferozepore, she was disappointed. The Kashmiri woman did not turn up. A few boys at the bus stand started teasing her. She went inside an STD PCO and introduced herself as a Muslim girl waiting for her aunt. The girl sitting at the PCO guided her to a locality in Basti Tankan Wali in Ferozepore where a lot of Kashmiris have settled down.

She went to that locality where she met a Kashmiri boy and narrated the whole story to him. As destiny would have it, that boy gave her his Kupwara address and promised to meet her there in a few days. He also gave her Rs 200 for travel and other expenses.

Bold as she was, she faced a lot of trouble during her journey to Srinagar via Amritsar. On reaching Srinagar, she was interrogated by security forces. She finally reached Kupwara after a journey of five days. There she met the family members of the boy she had met in Ferozepore, who provided her shelter. She started residing with them which made the locals suspicious about the antecedents of the girl. A few militants asked the family members whom she was residing with to hand over the girl to them. But to her rescue came the boy she had met at Ferozepore. The duo got married to evade protest from the residents.

Meanwhile, the parents of the girl lodged a report with the Ladhuka police station about the missing girl. The father of the girl, in his statement named a few persons whom he alleged had misguided his daughter. He even named Sukhdev Bhandari, who had informed them about his conversation with Monica at the bus stand.

On the basis of the statement of Mr Kulwant Rai, a case was registered on April 13 under Section 363/366 against Sukhdev Bhandari, Sandip Kumar besides Maya, Guddo, Morni, Charanjit, Ruby (all ‘Monica’s friends) at the Sadar police station, Fazilka.

‘Monica’ along with the boy went to Srinagar to meet an advocate who was known to the family to sort out legal modalities and discuss the further course of action. From Srinagar, ‘Monica’ first rang up her mother, but could not speak to her. Then, she rang up Bhandari to tell him she was fine and staying in Srinagar.

Bhandari rushed to the police station and told the police about the call he had received. The police traced the call and sent a team accompanied by ‘Monica’s father and Bhandari to Srinagar.

The SSP Ferozepore, Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, contacted some police officials in Srinagar to seek their help.

The police team with the help of the J&K Police traced the advocate whom she had met in Srinagar. Getting a clue from him, they reached Kupwara and finally found the girl. ‘Monica’, who is a minor protested, but her father did not pay heed and brought her back.

Mr Sinha said as per her statement, since none had forced her to elope, the case against the persons named in the FIR had been withdrawn.


NUJ flays 26 pc FDI in print media
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 4
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) has criticised the Union Government’s decision to allow 26 per cent foreign direct investment in Indian print media. Shyam Khosla, a senior journalist and national president of the NUJ, said this step would pose danger to the national unity and integrity. Khosla was speaking at the inaugural function of the two-day workshop ‘ Techniques of Reporting’ organised by the Punjab unit of the NUJ in association with the PAU Communication Centre at Punjab Agricultural University here today.

Khosla said it was ironical that persons or leaders, who had fought for freedom of the press during the emergency in 1975, had now mortgaged it. He ridiculed the argument that the management control would still be in the hands of Indians even after the foreign investment. He announced the NUJ’s resolve to fight for the freedom of the press.

Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, Vice-Chancellor, PAU, who was the chief guest on the occasion, expressed concern over the declining standard of journalism. Dr Sanjay Pande, News Editor, Dainik Bhaskar, Chandigarh, Radhey Shyam Sharma, Ashok Malik, Narender Bhullar, Prof V.N. Kotiyala, Dr H.S. Lal, G.S. Ashk, Dr S.S. Gill and Ashok Singhi were among others who attended the function.


50 pc more Uttaranchal power for PSEB from today
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 4
The Uttaranchal State Electricity Board authorities (USEB) will provide 15 lakh units of power from tomorrow on a daily basis to the Punjab state power board. It is significant as the Uttaranchal and J&K State Electricity Boards, had discontinued supply of power to the PSEB due to failure of monsoon in their respective regions.

Sources said that in the past couple of days the Uttaranchal Board was providing 10 lakh units of power to the PSEB daily to tide over acute power crisis due to partial failure of monsoon in Punjab. However, as situation in Uttaranchal improved gradually with monsoon reaching the state, the Uttaranchal State Electricity Board authorities have increased the power being provided to the PSEB to 15 lakh units daily.

The decision has come as big relief as water level in the Pong Dam fell by 50 feet. Also reduced share from the Bhakra and other hydel projects resulted in an acute burden on various PSEB grid stations of which had resorted to load-shedding necessitating more power cuts in urban areas of the state.

Also due to cool weather conditions, demand of air-conditioners has decreased considerably. The consumption by AC’s was nearly 80 to 90 lakh units per day.

A few days ago, the PSEB resorted to power cuts of six hours daily in urban areas, now power cut is only for one hour.


Teej at Pingalwara
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 4
It was a rare feast to the eyes to see sick, disabled, deaf and dumb, physically and mentally handicapped inmates of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society singing on swings, spinning ‘charkha’ and doing embroidery as a part of the ‘Teej festival’ to mark the tenth death anniversary of the society founder, Bhagat Puran Singh.

Nehru Yuva Kendra and the Pingalwara society attempted to revive the dying traditional arts of embroidery, charkha etc. An exhibition of folk arts was also organised on the premises of Pingalwara for the first time since its inception in 1947. Patients of Pingalwara wore colourful clothes and participated in the function.

Competitions of ‘spinning charkha’, embroidery, ‘nala bunana’ and other forms of folk art were organised.

Dr Inderjit Kaur, president of the Pingalwara society, said she had made an effort to revive the traditional folk Arts which were dying in wake of the western media onslaught.

Folk singer Kanwaljit Neelon enthralled the audience.

Dr Maheep Singh, a noted Hindi writer, inaugurated the festival.


DMCH-employees deadlock ends
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 4
The 45-day-old deadlock between the management and employees of Dayanand Medical College Hospital (DMCH) here was resolved during the course of a series of meetings between the management, leaders of various political parties and striking employees convened by the district administration here today.

Details of the agreement between the management and employees are being worked out and will be announced tomorrow.

The employees of DMCH had been agitating for the past 45 days, demanding better service conditions. The agitation turned violent on July 13. One employee was killed.


Punjab MLA in ICU after road mishap
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh August 4
Punjab Congress MLA Rana Gurjit Singh received multiple fractures in a road accident near Dehra Dun on the intervening night of Friday and Saturday. He is in the ICU at Apollo Hospital, New Delhi.

As per information received here, among others injured in the accident are Mr Mukul Joshi, Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation, Industries and Commerce, and two others, who are also reported to be in the ICU.

The accident reportedly occurred when the driver dozed off and lost control over the vehicle which fell into a ditch and hit a tree. It was the police escort of the MLA, who rushed the injured to the hospital, reports said.


Engineers plan stir fearing sack
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 4
Subdivisional engineers of Punjab posted in various departments, including the PWD, Public Health, Irrigation and Panchayati Raj, have decided to hold rallies in all districts of the state to protest against the government’s decision to dispense with the services of those engineers who were recruited by the Punjab Public Service Commission under the chairmanship of Ravi Sidhu.

The decision was taken at a meeting held at Zakir Husain Rose Garden here today.

In a statement issued here today, the Joint Secretary of the Punjab PWD (B&R) Subdivisional Engineers Association, Lt Col Gurbax Singh, said no one, including two alleged touts of Sidhu, had ever named any of the engineer as having paid any money for a government job. He said most of the engineers possessed ME degrees against the minimum required degree of BE. Doing away with their services would be grave injustice to the engineers and their families.


Mann demands refugee status for J&K Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 4
Akali Dal (Amritsar) president Simranjit Singh Mann has demanded a refugee status for 30,000 Kashmiri Sikhs, who have been living as “state-less” people in Jammu and Kashmir since 1947.

In a letter to the Chief of Mission of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, New Delhi, Mr Mann said such a status was a pre-requisite for them to get citizenship and other accompanying rights in India.

Mr Mann told the Commissioner to conduct a thorough study on Jammu and Kashmir Sikhs and their problems.


45 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 4
A state-level Lok Adalat was held here yesterday under the chairmanship of Mr B.C. Rajput, District and Sessions Judge and 45 cases involving a compensation of more than Rs 20 lakh were settled on the spot.

According to an official press note, cases relating to motor accidents claims, family disputes, rent and cases under Sections 125 and 138 CrPC were taken up.

Mr Rajput said those belonging to SC/ST and underprivileged sections of the society were provided free legal aid.

Those having annual income less than Rs 30,000 were eligible for free legal aid from the district Legal Services Authority.

Mr A.K. Goyal, member, Bar Association, Talwandi Sabo in a separate press note said 27 cases were settled at a Lok Adalat held at Talwandi Sabo.

The Adalat presided over by Mr Karunesh Kumar Kakkar, Civil Judge (Junior Division). The total amount settled in the cases was about Rs 12 lakh and Rs 6,80,000 were paid on the spot.


Professor denies links with ultras
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
Mr Baljinder Singh, a senior Professor of Khalsa College, has refuted the allegations levelled by Dr M.S. Dhillon, Principal, that he (Prof Baljinder Singh) had links with terrorists.

In a press note here yesterday, Professor Baljinder Singh claimed that he had been cleared by the police and intelligence agencies during militancy. He said he was ready to face an inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau.

Meanwhile, the Khalsa College Old Students Association in another press note, urged Dr Dhillon and Prof Baljinder Singh to refrain from going to the Press against each other and clear their misunderstanding through negotiations in order to save the reputation of the college.


Naik Ranjit Singh cremated
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 4
Naik Ranjit Singh of 11 Sikh Light Infantry, who sacrificed his life for the country on August 1 in the Kupwara sector of Jammu and Kashmir, was today cremated with full state honours at his native village Bhaini near here. Mr Baldev Singh, brother of the martyr, lit the pyre.

Wreaths were placed on the body of the martyr by Mr Vikas Garg, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Ropar; Mr Daljit Singh, SDM, Ropar; Mr Pishora Singh, Deputy Director, Sainik Welfare Board; and officers from the Western Command, Signal Core, Chandimandir. Besides, a police contingent saluted the martyr by reversing their arms.


Tributes paid to Sunder Singh
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 4
Despite rain, death anniversary of senior Congress leader Chaudhary Sunder Singh, former Minister and MP, was observed at hotel Maharaja Palace here today. Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary, AICC, Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC and several senior Congress leaders paid tributes to Chaudhary Sunder Singh. Many admirers of the late leader from all over Punjab attended the bhog ceremony.


Army holds medical camp
Our Correspondent

Surjeet Kaur is helped by Army officials at the Army medical camp held in Chack Ruldu Singh Wala village
Surjeet Kaur is helped by Army officials at the Army medical camp held in Chack Ruldu Singh Wala village, near Bathinda, on Sunday. — Tribune photo Kulbir Beera

Chack Ruldu Singh Wala (Bathinda), August 4
Officers of the Indian Army posted somewhere near here organised a medical camp today in which more than 2,000 villagers of the area were examined by a panel of expert doctors.

The Army authorities had arranged to transport the villagers to the camp, which was held at the local Government School. A team of 14 doctors, including four gynaecologists, attended on the patients who were given medicines free of cost. The authorities had also arranged for a dentist, a heart specialist, a paediatrician and a psychologist, besides a surgical specialist.

The doctors said that most of the men complained of eye disorders while the women of gynaecological diseases.

Army officials said that more such camps would be held in the region and in the next camp, the services of an expert ophthalmologist would also be arranged.

The villagers expressed gratitude to the doctors of the Indian Army.


Mentally challenged bathed by NGO
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 4
Volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva have taken up the cause of mentally challenged persons by giving them baths alternate days at the office of the NGO here.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the NGO, said it was a tough task to give bath to the mentally-challenged persons as they initially resisted. He said after the bath they were dressed in clean clothes.


Police budget touches Rs 1000 cr
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 4
Punjab Police is in for another top-level reshuffle as Mr A. A. Sidiqqui joins as Officer on Special Duty on his return from Manipur where he was Director-General of Manipur Police for nearly two years. He is likely to get DGP’s rank as he headed the police in Manipur and had been promised that rank.

With Mr Sidiqqui’s elevation three IPS officers, Mr S. K. Verma, Mr B. P. Tiwari and Mr A. P. Bhatnagar senior to Mr Sidiqqui and in the rank of ADGP, will have to be promoted.

The Punjab police already has four DGP rank officers — Mr Sarbjit Singh, Mr M. S. Bhullar, Mr Jarnail Singh Chahal and Mr S. V. Singh. There are 16 ADGPs, 18 IGs (Inspector Generals) and more than 24 DIGs (Deputy Inspector General of Police). The Government promoted 12 officers as DIG and gave them current duty charge. The Punjab Police with 70,000 personnel, headed by a Director General of Police rank officers. One DGP rank officer heads the Pepsu Road Transport Corporation as chairman.

Mr Sarbjit Singh police chief during the SAD-BJP rule is on leave. When promoted four ADGPs will raise the number of DGPs to eight, too high for a small state like Punjab.

The Punjab Police has witnessed unprecedented expansion. Budget of the force has touched Rs 1000 crore which was Rs 100 crore in 1980. An IG headed the force before militancy. The IG was made DGP during chief ministership of Darbara Singh. Thereafter there was no looking back.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC chief, has urged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, to down size the heavy force but Mr Badal, due to pressure from the police force which fought militancy could not agree. Mr Amarinder Singh on becoming Chief Minister also announced to prune the top-heavy force but added to more higher level posts.

Senior police officers maintain that all states had more than six DGPs and some states had even 12 DGP rank officers. One senior IPS officer said there was all-around expansion of the force as crime pattern too changed. Punjab a border state faces problem of militancy, counter-espionage and smuggling. There are more blind murders and crime against women, and children like kidnappings and abductions have increased requiring supervision by senior officers.

Justifying 10-time increase in budget of the police, officers say 85 per cent of it is spent on salary and there was shortage of funds for modernisation like equipment including transport, communication network and highway squads to check highway robberies and accidents. The Punjab Police officers complain non-cadre posts are not being given to the IPS officers by the IAS officers dominating the administration. The IAS officers have two years precedence over an IPS officer in the service rule like grant of seniority.


Murders on rise due to family disputes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 4
Nachhattar Singh and his two sons, Gurlal Singh and Balraj Singh, were murdered allegedly by his third son, Sukhraj Singh, at Duhowala village of Muktsar in July as he suspected that one of his younger brothers had illicit relations with his wife.

An NRI girl, who was allegedly in love with her kin, was murdered in the city by her father, mother and maternal uncle about two years ago. Seven members of the family of Nathu Ram belonging to Burj Sidhwa village in Muktsar district were allegedly murdered by a close kin last year over a family dispute. A resident of Abohar subdivision murdered his father-in-law and five other close relatives over a property dispute. About three years ago, a resident of the district, allegedly burnt his wife and three children to death in connivance with a relative over a family dispute.

All these murders have one thing in common — these were committed due to family disputes, including the division of residential and agriculture property, division of water from the common course for irrigation and tension in the family due to the consumption of liquor or drug addiction.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the trend was more evident in Bathinda district as in the past 14 weeks, nine persons had been done to death by their close relatives over various family disputes. In almost all cases, the main suspects had been arrested by the police on the basis of FIRs registered following the statements of their close kin.

Information revealed that Iqbal Singh, a local resident allegedly killed his father, Niranjan Singh on July 29 when the deceased asked him to get up and do some work. On May 29, Surjeet Singh mercilessly beat up his daughter Baljit Kaur at Kotshamir village as he suspected that his daughter was having an affair. After beating her up, the suspect threw his unconscious daughter outside the village. She later died.

On June 10, Jagjit Singh, a resident of Bandi village, allegedly killed his father, Makhan Singh, when the deceased along with his grandson tried to stop the former from taking liquor. He later killed himself. On July 5, Gurmel Singh, along with his son, Iqbal Singh, and a kin Bachan Singh, allegedly killed his brother, Surian Singh, and severely injured his father, Harnek Singh, due to a property dispute. On July 9, Ram Lal with the help of his son, Jagtar Singh of Teona village, allegedly murdered his brother, Dasuda Singh, when the deceased went to irrigate his fields by taking water from the joint tubewell with the accused. After killing Dasuda Singh, the accused threw his body into the well.

On July 30, Iqbal Singh, who was alcoholic, allegedly killed his wife, Chinderpal Kaur and father-in-law, Bhajan Singh, at Bhager Mohobat village when Bhajan Singh along with some other kin, came to him to persuade him to stopping taking liquor. On August 1, Balkar Singh, a local resident, with the help of his brother, Jeet Singh, allegedly strangled his wife Rani when the deceased objected to the consumption of liquor by her husband.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, when contacted, said murders due to family disputes were difficult to prevent. He added that seven such cases had been registered in different police stations in the past 1


Youth bares torture
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
Vishal Sharma (34), a resident of Cheel Mandi here, was allegedly beaten up and tortured while under “illegal detention” by Mr Davinder Singh, SHO, Kotwali and three other policemen in the suicide case of Meenu Sharma in which he was not even an accused.

Meenu was the sister-in-law of his wife and six persons were booked in the case, all from his in-laws’ family. Vishal alleged that first his pregnant wife was forced to accompany four policemen including two ASIs, who came to his house on August 2. However, residents of the area intervened and she was let off. Vishal was arrested.

He said the police wanted to know the whereabouts of his in-laws with whom he was not on good terms and with whom he had even fought a legal case. Vishal claims that he was tortured by the policemen, including the SHO. He was not given food and water till the time he was let off yesterday afternoon after having been made to sign some papers. He alleged that he was also issued threats by the SHO.

Vishal presented himself before a duty magistrate (judicial) who ordered his medical examination, a few hours after his release yesterday. The medical examination was conducted at the Jallianwala Bagh Memorial Civil Hospital yesterday, a copy of which is with The Tribune. The medical report states that the injuries were caused by a blunt object. Vishal had injuries on his buttocks and thighs.

The SHO denied having taken Vishal into illegal custody or having tortured him.


5 held for immoral trafficking
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 4
Five persons, including two women, were arrested yesterday during raids on a hotel opposite the district courts under Sections 3 and 5 of the Suppression of Immoral Trafficking (Girls and Women) Act. Police sources said the raids were carried out on a tip-off and two women and two men were found in rooms of the hotel. They said the two men were identified as Jasbir Singh, a constable, and Amarjit Singh, an employee of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The owner of the hotel, Ishtpal Singh, was also arrested.

The sources said the arrested women, Jaspal Kaur and Ranjit Kaur, were married and belonged to a nearby village.


Medical entrance test results
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 4
The results of the entrance test of all-India Sikh minorities conducted by Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences and Research and Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research would be available on the SGPC website

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