Wednesday, August 7, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Delhi to have separate SJC: Sarna
Refuses to recognise Bhai Ranjit Singh as Takht Jathedar
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 6
Even as the decision of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to constitute a separate Sikh judicial commission for New Delhi has sparked off a fresh controversy, its (DSGMC) newly elected president Parmjit Singh Sarna has refused to recognise Bhai Ranjit Singh as the real Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Mr Sarna categorically stated that he considered Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti the Jathedar, Akal Takht. He, however, added that he did not want to go into the controversy over his (Jathedar Vedanti) appointment.

Mr Sarna claimed that he had no differences with Bhai Ranjit Singh. It may be mentioned here that Mr Sarna is a confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) who had been projecting Bhai Ranjit Singh as the real Jathedar. The differences between Bhai Ranjit Singh and the SHSAD had cropped up during the recent Delhi gurdwara poll on the distribution of party ticket. Bhai Ranjit Singh had alleged that Mr Tohra had let him down during the gurdwara poll.

However, Bhai Ranjit Singh said he did not give any significance to the statement of Mr Sarna regarding the real Jathedar issue. He said earlier some executive members, who owe loyalty to Mr Tohra, had appeared before the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, while on the other hand they considered him (Bhai Ranjit Singh) as the real Jathedar. He said the Sikh sangat could interpret the “double standards” and added that he would continue to oppose Mr Sarna and his policies.

On the other hand Mr Sarna said he would immediately resign as president, DSGMC, if Bhai Ranjit Singh would prove that he had given party ticket on the recommendations of Mr Sajjan Kumar, who was allegedly responsible for engineering Sikhs riots.

However, Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that Mr Sarna had given ticket to Gurcharan Singh Raju, who was a district general secretary of the Congress. A candidate, Mr Inderpal Singh, who contested the election against Mr Gurcharan Singh (brother of Bhai Ranjit Singh) is a son of Congress MLA, Mr Jaspal Singh, he alleged.

In yet another significant statement, Mr Sarna said the DSGMC would constitute a separate judicial commission to probe the charges of corruption, especially against his predecessor Avtar Singh Hit. He said Justice Jaspal Singh, a retired Judge of the Delhi High Court, would be the president of the commission.

Meanwhile, Bhai Ranjit Singh described the move as illegal as there was no provision in the Act to constitute a separate Sikh judicial commission for New Delhi.

Levelling another serious charge, Mr Sarna alleged that Mr Hit had embezzled DSGMC funds. Many appointments in various DSGMC-run institutes and gurdwaras were made after taking bribe. He said a two-member inquiry committee was being constituted in this regard.

Mr Sarna said the DSGMC was ready to accept any directive of Jathedar Vedanti with regard to the compensation to be given to his predecessor Avtar Singh Hit in lieu of Guru Nanak Public School handed over to the DSGMC. He, however, added that Jathedar Vedanti was unlikely to intervene.


Converts offered daughters to deras: SHSAD report
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
The fact-finding committee of the SHSAD constituted to inquire into the misdeeds of the Nurmehalia sect chief, Mahant Ashutosh, and the circumstances leading to the Malout firing has come up with some shocking facts that the self-styled godman and his disciples impressed upon the new converts to leave their young daughters as offerings at the deras of the sect”. Moreover, administrative “inefficiency” was stated to be the cause behind the firing in which 18 persons were injured.

A perusal of the report procured by The Tribune reveals that the sect had a modest beginning in the early 80s and the followers carried on with their activities in a guarded manner by building up a following among the semi-literate and literate rural peasantry. The area was subsequently extended to the semi-urban and urban areas with the alleged influx of money and political patronage in the early 90s.

The committee was shocked to find that there were more than 30 Sikh families from Muktsar, Malout and Bathinda who had left their unmarried daughters at the dera at Dabwali Malko ki.

The report claims that these “ girls were used for attracting young men. The total number of such girls is said to be more than 150 in Punjab alone,” the report reveals.

The committee also found that 2 acres were gifted to the dera at Malko ki in pursuance of the wishes of former SAD minister Gurdas Singh Badal. The sarpanch of the village, Harbinder Singh, a close aide of former CM Parkash Singh Badal, got the latter’s nod to organise a sammelan of the sect at Muktsar, last year, after the same was refused by the local authorities.

Evidence collected showed that the wife of Mr Badal was a regular visitor to the dera and that the daughter of former minister Gurdev Singh Badal had organised a sammelan of the sect on April 7 at Dharamkot from where her husband, Mr Sital Singh, was the sitting Akali MLA. Besides, the committee found that the metalled road to the dera was built on government expense along with the sanction to a 60 kv power station exclusively for the dera,” the report adds.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, a senior leader of the party, said the report was prepared by a committee headed by Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Toga Singh, Jathedar Rajinder Singh Tohra, Mr Jaswant Singh Phaphre, Baba Tek Singh Dhanaula, Mr Hardeep Singh, Mr Ishtpal Singh, Baba Ajit Singh Mohlan, Mr Gurdeep Singh Deep and Mr Harshavinder Singh.


Chief Minister playing fraud: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Shiromani Akali Dal president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today re-asserted his stance that the Punjab Chief Minister was playing a fraud with the people and the state of Punjab in the Hardwar case and that the panel of lawyers prepared by the Home Department contained the names of close kin of the Punjab Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh.

“This is a unique case in the history of jurisprudence. Capt Amarinder Singh, acting in the true style of the medieval emperors, has declared that he will decide who will be lawyer of his opponent. And who is his opponent? The state of Punjab of which he is the Chief Minister. And whom has he chosen as a lawyer of his opponent? The man whom he has appointed to work as his own eyes and ears, Mr Harbhagwan Singh,” said Mr Badal challenging the AG to disprove that he had appeared for the Captain in May in personal cases, including the latter’s election petition.”

Mr Badal scoffed at the rejoinder given by Mr Harbhagwan Singh in which he had denied the existence of any panel of lawyers prepared by the Home Department to defend the state of Punjab against Capt Amarinder Singh. Said Mr Badal, “The Advocate-General clearly forgot to check both records of the Home Department available with him and the finer points of jurisprudence before going public with his shocking denial about the constitution of a panel of lawyers comprising all close kin and a junior of the AG to defend the state of Punjab .

Mr Badal asked the AG to double check the fact file of the case in the Home Department to find out the existence of the panel. “ If he is still unable to find it, let him seek our help. We will help him locate the file in 10 minutes flat, and all this time will be taken up only in going from the AG office to the office of the Home Secretary,” said Mr Badal, adding that the right course for Mr Harbhagwan Singh would have been to tender an apology to his own esteemed fraternity, the Bar, as well as to the people of Punjab whose property Captain Amarinder tried to usurp fraudulently by deliberately not making the real owner of the property, the state of Punjab, a party to the case.”

Expressing “utter surprise and disbelief” at the letter purportedly written by the AG to him, Mr Badal wondered how a person holding such position was ignorant of the basic that it was not the PWD but the Home Department with whom the power to take decisions on legal representations etc. rested. “I was amazed to read his statement claiming that the matter was dealt with by the PWD and not the Home Department. If such is the professional competence and level of legal awareness of the present AG, it is not difficult to see why the Chief Minister has chosen him to be the lawyer against himself “

Mr Badal said as the Chief Minister of the State on three occasions, he had the good fortune to be guided and helped by Advocate-General who had the moral courage to tell him where he was wrong and to ensure that he decided on the side of truth and merit.

The former Chief Minister said he had consulted eminent lawyers of the Supreme Court before expressing his opinion on the propriety of Mr Harbhagwan Singh deciding to “double-fork” his tongue, biting Capt Amarinder Singh with one and extolling him with the other. He asked Mr Harbhagwan Singh to explain why it had to be him rather than a lawyer to be chosen from the panel prepared by including the names of leading lawyers in the country.

Mr Badal asked the AG to share with the people of Punjab his true opinion of the man who chose to keep the state of Punjab, the real owner of the property, in the dark by not including it as a party in his petition. He said that it was only when an official of the PWD discovered Capt Amarinder Singh’s trick that the SAD-BJP government put the record straight by going to the court.


Promotions Punjab police style
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The poor fiscal health of the state apart, doubts have been raised over both sanctity and legality of promotions ordered in the Punjab police during the past few weeks.

The most controversial are the promotions ordered in the 1991 batch of the IPS where 13 of the 15 officers have been given the current-duty charge of a DIG. These promotions, feel senior police officials, have not only been “advanced” but also reflect “how poorly the cadre is being managed in the state.”

Of the 13 beneficiaries, only one — Mr B.K. Uppal — is a direct appointee to the IPS while the remaining have risen through the ranks. According to rules, the basic qualification for elevation to the rank of DIG is the selection grade, which is normally granted after 13 to 14 years of service. But in this case, none of the beneficiaries has completed more than 11 years of service in the present substantive rank. Keeping in view the tight financial position of the state, advancing promotions in the Police Department alone have also raised many an eyebrow.

On the other hand, Mr Parag Jain, an IPS officer belonging to the 1989 batch, and currently on deputation with the Chandigarh Administration as SSP, will get his promotion as DIG only when he returns to Punjab.

The most intriguing part of this whole promotion exercise has been that two officers of the 1991 batch — Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao and Mr Paramjit Singh Gill — either refused to accept promotions or preferred to continue in their present positions. Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao is currently the district police chief of Fatehgarh Sahib while Mr Paramjit Singh Gill is SSP, Jalandhar.

After the July 11 promotions of the 1991 batch officers, certain discrepancies and serious irregularities pertaining to discipline in the police have cropped up. For example, while the SSPs of Fatehgarh Sahib and Jalandhar are bound to “salute anyone sporting the rank of DIG with current-duty charge even if he is otherwise junior to him”. Invariably, this protocol requirement is ignored in situations as created by the present promotions. Not only that in certain cases, promotions to higher ranks were ordered, including those of Inspector-General, even without convening the departmental promotion committee meetings.

A careful study reveals that the Punjab police is fast becoming a top-heavy cadre. At present, it has four DGPs, 17 Additional DGPs, 17 IGs, 30 DIGs (including 13 holding current-duty charge) in a total authorised cadre strength of 144, meaning thereby that every second officer in the cadre is either a DIG or higher rank officer.


Lokpal for proper probe into clerk selections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Accepting the complaints submitted by Mr Gurdarshan Singh and two others against the selection of clerks by the Punjab State Subordinate Services Selection Board, the Lokpal, Punjab, Justice D.V. Sehgal, has felt the need of holding a full-fledged inquiry against the conduct of Chairman and members concerned of the board.

Justice Sehgal has reached this conclusion following preliminary inquiry made in this connection by him through his I.G.

In the complaints it was stated that the board sought applications on three different occasions to fill 892 posts of clerks. The Board had kept 75 marks for educational qualification and 25 marks for the interview.

During preliminary inquiry, it was found that 157 candidates were interviewed for the Backward Class category. Eleven candidates who had earned 54 marks for educational qualifications had been selected by awarding 18 marks in the interview, though there were 86 candidates with higher marks. Out of them, 67 were rejected by awarding them poor marks in the interview.

Almost the same was repeated while selecting candidates for SC and general categories. The candidates, who topped the merit list on the basis of educational qualifications found no place among the selected ones. Hence, the full-fledged inquiry.

Justice Sehgal has directed his I.G. to secure the relevant documents from the board and to put these in the custody of the Registrar, Lokpal.


Another challan against Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 6
The Punjab Vigilance authorities today presented another challan in the court of the Sessions Judge, Mr Maghar Khan, here against Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Earlier, a challan was presented in this case on July 13 by the Vigilance Department against Sidhu for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 5 lakh from Mr Bhupjit Singh, an Assistant Excise Inspector, for his selection as a PCS officer.

The Vigilance also presented challan against Sidhu’s mother Pritpal Kaur, his brother Reetinder Singh, his sister-in-law Ajinder Kaur, his alleged touts namely Jagman Singh, Randhir Singh Dheera, Prem Sagar, Paramjit Singh Pammi, Dr Ghamsher Singh, and his alleged hawala conduits G.S. Manchanda and Surinder Kaur Manchanda. Mr Jaskaran Singh, SP, Vigilance, and Mr Zora Singh Brar, DSP Vigilance, were also present in the court.

The Sessions Judge entrusted the challan to the Special Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, and sent the challan file to him. The Special Judge fixed August 8 for further proceedings on the challan.

Sources said the Vigilance had attached several documents with the challan including sanction of the President of India for presenting the challan in the court against Sidhu, income and expenditure statement of Sidhu, statement regarding operation of lockers and accounts of Sidhu, and the list of witnesses etc. Meanwhile, Special Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, today issued a notice to the state government for August 14 on the bail application of G.S. Manchanda, an alleged hawala conduit of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, the suspended chairman of the PPSC.


Kewal Singh refused bail
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
Mr Jaspal Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, today refused bail to Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, in a dowry death case registered against him and his son Baljinder Singh and one of their kin, Joginder Kaur, at Talwandi Sabo police station.

Mr Jaspal Singh also framed charges under Sections 304-B and 306, IPC, against Giani Kewal Singh, Baljinder Singh and Joginder Kaur and fixed October 10, as the next date of hearing, the public prosecutor said.

Mr Kurnesh Kakkar, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), Talwandi Sabo, had committed the case to session trial on July 2.

Giani Kewal Singh had surrendered in the court of Mr Kakkar, Judicial Magistrate (First Class) on May 9 after he failed to secure anticipatory bail from the Supreme Court. Baljinder Singh, the main suspect in the case, surrendered in the court of the Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate, Mr Harsh Mehta, on March 7. Both suspects had been remanded in judicial custody while Joginder Kaur secured interim bail in the case.

The suspects were booked in connection with the death of Sharnjit Kaur on the direction of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, when the brother of the deceased, Mr Amarjit Singh, approached the court after he failed to get justice from the local police authorities.

During the previous SAD-BJP government, the district police had filed a cancellation report in the court of the Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate here in connection with an FIR registered against Giani Kewal Singh, Baljinder Singh and Joginder Kaur on the pretext that in an inquiry conducted by the officer of the rank of DSP, all three had been found innocent.

However, the then Sub-divisional Judicial Magistrate, instead of accepting the cancellation report, issued summons against them and when they failed to appear in his court, non-bailable warrants were issued against them. Giani Kewal Singh had to resign from the post of Jathedar.

Sharnjit Kaur, married to Baljinder Singh, was found dead under mysterious circumstances in 1997. Her body was found from the sarovar of Likhan Sar Gurdwara located near the official residence of Giani Kewal Singh.


Nangal NFL plant to be closed by Aug-end
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 6
Curtains will finally be brought down on one of the oldest heavy water plant based at Nangal by month-end as the government has directed National Fertiliser Ltd (NFL) to stop production in it. The plant was installed here in 1962.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, when contacted on phone admitted that the decision to dismantle the heavy water plant had been finalised on the recommendations of the committee constituted for the purpose. The plant was a major hurdle in the disinvestment process of the company.

The Department of Atomic Energy, which owned the plant, declined to hand it over to some private party due to security reasons. A committee comprising members of the heavy water board and authorities of the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre was constituted to suggest alternative arrangements.

The committee in its recommendations had also declined the possibility of shifting it to another place. Therefore dismantling was the only alternative left, Mr Dhindsa said. The committee comprising Mr S.C. Hiremath, CEO of the heavy water board, and Dr Kakodar, Chairman-cum-Secretary of the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre, will visit Nangal on August 14 and hold a meeting to fix the date for the closure of the plant.

Meanwhile, the decision to dismantle the plant has evoked protests from the worker’s union of the NFL. President of the Nangal Khad Factory Mazdoor Dal G.L. Khera alleged that for installing heavy water plant Rs 200 crore were needed, but the government was planning to sell off the present plant for just Rs 20-25 crore. If the plant was not dismantled it could run efficiently for at least two decades, he said.


Cong leader hits out at Amarinder
Calls for review of ‘anti-people’ policies
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
In an outburst, which could have far-reaching consequences, a former minister and general secretary of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr Surinder Kapur, while alleging that the law and order situation had deteriorated in the state, said today that people had started distancing themselves from the Congress government because of its anti-people and anti-employee policies.

“How long people could stay with any government when they are being continuously whipped on one pretext or the other. Everything has got its limits,”, Mr Kapur said.

Mr Kapur said he had taken up the matter with the central party leaders and some ministers of the state government and all were of the opinion that the state government led by Capt Amarinder Singh should review and subsequently change its decisions of imposing cut on the salaries of employees, surcharge on the consumption of electricity and tax on the use of generators.

He said he would meet Capt Amarinder Singh and the state PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, shortly to stress that the government should adopt the middle path to improve its financial health. He, however, declined to disclose the name of ministers with whom he had taken up the matter. Despite a cut imposed on the employee salaries and the imposition of various taxes, the state government was still facing difficulties to arrange enough money to pay salaries to its employees. Citing an example, he said faculty members of DIET had not been paid salaries for the past seven months.

Mr Kapur, while talking to mediapersons, alleged that rapes, murders, dacoities, robberies, looting of petrol stations atrocities on women and incidents of other crime had become the order of the day. He said demonstrations and dharnas were being held by various sections of society in the state. Employees were not getting salaries regularly.

He said under the garb of austerity measures to improve financial position the state government was doing many unpopular things. On one hand free electricity was being given to big farmers and on the other hand general consumers were being made to compensate the loss incurred by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). The imposition of surcharge on electricity would encourage more power thefts by consumers.

Mr Kapur said earlier Congress governments had faced drought-like conditions in the state without bothering any section of society and the same should be done by the present state government. The government should check revenue loss and take pro-people and pro-employee steps.


MC chief resigns
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 6
The acting president of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, today submitted his resignation to the Executive Officer (EO) of the council. The EO has confirmed the receipt of resignation.

According to information available, the acting president handed over his resignation at 9.40 am. The EO said he would call a meeting of the councillors at the earliest to discuss the issue.

Some councillors had brought a no-confidence motion against the acting president, but the motion was defeated on August 1, on the intervention of a minister from the area, Dr Harbans Lal, who persuaded councillors to help in defeating the motion as it was brought in by the Opposition.

He had promised to remove him from the post at the earliest. Sources said the minister had kept his promise made to the councillors.


Bhundar refutes allegations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, MLA from Sardoolgarh, has refuted the allegations levelled against him by Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, a former MLA.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Bhundar said the allegations were imaginary, baseless, and politically motivated. "The people of Punjab are aware of my 40-year stint in politics and honest political image. My entire property is ancestral. Ours is a joint family which gives the impression of excessive holdings."


Suspected polio case in Maur Mandi
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), August 6
Even as various agencies of the state have spent crores of rupees on polio-eradication programmes, detection of a suspected polio case in this town has put a question mark on the effectiveness of these drives.

Mr Pajinder Kumar, a resident of this town, in a written statement issued here today alleged that his one-and-a-half-year old daughter, Jivika, was crippled for life due to polio and that he received no help from doctors at Bathinda Civil Hospital. He said his daughter had some trouble with her left leg on July 28 and he took her to a private hospital from where she was referred to the Civil Hospital.

Mr Kumar said he was asked to go to the Civil Hospital at Bathinda by the SMO of Maur Hospital, and despite his putting in a reference word to doctors at Bathinda, his daughter was not attended upon properly. He said one of the doctors refused to attend his daughter on the pretext that the child was not cooperative and another doctor asked him to go to a private hospital. Another doctor took the X-ray of the child claimed that it was not a case of polio, he added.

He said that while his daughter was under treatment of the doctors at Bathinda Civil Hospital and was not improving he called up the doctors at Maur Mandi again and they said that Dr V.K. Kaushal, from the Bathinda hospital would visit him in a day or two and asked him not to leave his place. He further alleged that no doctor visited his house or called him even after two days and the condition of his daughter worsened and that he had to go to a private hospital of Rampura Phul.

Mr Kumar said despite treatment, the right leg of his daughter stopped moving and it was only yesterday that the doctor at Rampura Phul said that it was a case of polio and referred him to Chandigarh. He added that the same day Dr Kaushal from Bathinda called him and said that he had been stopped from visiting the town by the higher authorities. He said the doctor handed him a box and asked him to collect the stool samples of the child, which were to be sent to Kasauli for investigations.

He said he had given all the required and even an extra dose of polio vaccine to his daughter but even then she had been afflicted with polio. He pointed out that had his daughter been attended to properly at the initial stages itself she would not have become handicapped.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, when contacted denied all the allegations and said that he had asked the District Immunization Officer, Dr V.K. Kaushal, to visit the area and collect the required samples. He said the stool test report was necessary to confirm such cases and the same had not been received so far. He denied that his staff had not cooperated with the patient. He said at this stage it could not be said that the legs of the child had become unresponsive due to polio, adding that it could happen in any of the twelve diseases. He said it was only a suspected case of polio.

The private doctor at Rampura Phul on the other hand confirmed that it was a case of polio, while refusing to comment further.

Even last year two cases of polio were found in Faridkot district and some stray cases of polio were reported from Bathinda district, claimed to be a polio-free zone by the health authorities.


‘Shocked’ govt depts pay power bills
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
A day after the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) started cutting connections of defaulting government departments and issuing three-day notices to those engaged in essential works, it has netted Rs 7 lakh and cut 27 more power connections.

The Senior Executive Engineer (West) of the board, Mr P.P. Vithal, said several defaulters had already paid their dues by today. Rs 79,000 was received from the SSP's office for five connections installed there, Rs 14,895 from the Commissioner's office, Rs 2,583 from the Court of the Session Judge, Rs 63,000 from the Building and Road Department, Rs 74,000 from the Public Health Department and Rs 42,000 from the Irrigation Department.

Mr Vithal said the defaulters whose connections had been cut today included the office of the Subdivisional Magistrate. The office owed the board Rs 58,000 for three connections. Besides this, 13 connections of the Public Health Department and seven of the Building and Road Department had also been snapped today.

The board has also snapped the connection of the Excise Commissioner, whose office owes the board Rs 18,500, as well as that of the Principal of the local ITI. Three more connections of the Horticulture Department and one of the Animal Husbandry Department have also been snapped.

Among the major defaulters who have still not responded to the notice of the PSEB is the Senior Sub Judge in the District Courts here, who has to pay Rs 57,000. The connections that were snapped yesterday included that of the State Language Department Headquarters here. Sources said the department had urged the board to restore its connection on the plea that it was holding typing and Punjabi classes. The plea was dismissed.

The board it would snap the connections of all departments that had not responded to its three-day notice. Defaulting government departments owe the board Rs 40 lakh in the Patiala circle.


4-yr wait for water supply scheme
Ravinder Sud

Residents of Dholbaha village are running from pillar to post to get the water supply scheme of their village completed for the past four years but nothing has materialised so far. This village, located in the Kandi area of Bhunga block of this district, has a population of about 3,500. The village is spread over a 20 sq km area.

More than half of the population of the village has been facing an acute shortage of drinking water. Despite the tall claims of development in the Kandi track by the outgoing SAD-BJP Government, the water scarcity problem of the village has not been solved.

Women and youngsters have to fetch water from a distance of more than 4 km from their houses. Besides, important establishments, like the Government Senior Secondary School, Archaeological Museum, Forest Rest House and places of worship also face drinking water shortage.

Mr Mangat Ram, Sarpanch of the Dholbaha gram panchayat told this reporter that after the repeated representations by residents, Mr Sohan Singh Badal the then MLA (SAD) who represented the Garhdiwala segment, got the water supply scheme sanctioned and work was undertaken in 1998. A tubewell with a submersible motor was sunk, but no further work like the construction of water tank and laying of pipes had started till now. As a result, lakhs of rupees had been wasted. He said the village consisted of 650 houses and people had to travel 4 to 5 km to fetch a bucket of water. Even infirm and old persons have to pay Rs 10 for 20 litres of water.

He pointed out that the Union Government often circulated the message on television that no child of the country had to go more than a km to get water. But this message had no validity here. The people's pleas for completing the scheme had fallen on deaf ears. Over 80 per cent of the village residents or their kin had served in the defence forces and eight jawans had sacrificed their lives for the motherland. The students and staff of Government Senior Secondary School were forced to bring water in bottles from homes as there was no provision for drinking water there.

The gram panchayat has approached the Chief Minister and the Public Health Minister but in vain. The gram panchayat always felt embarrassed while holding meetings of the gram sabha because people often asked about steps being taken to provide drinking water. Soon after the state assembly elections a deputation of the panchayat met Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Public Health Minister, who promised to complete the remaining work, but nothing has done so far.

The panchayat recently passed a resolution in this regard and copies had been sent to the Prime Minister and Union Minister of Rural Development.


Power cuts hit water supply
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 6
City residents are facing the driest monsoon this time, creating an acute scarcity of water. It has only rained twice in the entire season.

The non-coordination of the electricity board with the local municipal corporation is taking its toll on the water situation in the city.

With the timings of the power cuts clashing with those of running the tubewells, the water supply remains suspended for the entire day at times.

Junked tubewells have outlived their utility and are causing untold hardships to residents. Nearly 32 of the 212 tubewells are in disrepair and fail to pump adequate water. The corporation does not possess a generator, putting the entire water supply system at the mercy of the PSEB.

The water condition is so “pitiable” here that even the Municipal Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, admits to it being “bad”, with only 60 per cent of the city population receiving a reasonable water supply. The Commissioner said undeclared electricity cuts disrupted the water supply.

A few days ago the corporation thought of a novel idea to save on water by cutting water lines from the tubewell and attaching these to two unused overhead reservoirs in the Chheharta area.

The tanks were reportedly neither cleaned nor sanitised. Corporation officials failed to check that both reservoirs were leaking profusely. As a result, for more than five days residents of Chheharta stood in queues, hoping to get some water from municipal taps before the corporation came to rectify its fault on a complaint of Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader.

The situation is worse in nearly 60 demarcated slum areas in and around the city.

With the municipal corporation frequently defaulting on payment of bills to the PSEB, the matter has further aggravated, with the electricity board having issued notices to cut electric connections to more than seven tubewells catering to water supply of more than 1.5 lakh city residents.

The situation is grim in Verka, Mustafabad, Krishan Nagar, Majitha Road and Sandhu Colony where the water level has dropped so low that new bores are needed to lift water.

Dr Raj Kumar, MLA from the Verka constituency, said at least four more tubewells were needed to meet the water requirements of the area.


World tour on foot for peace
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 6
He does not know what inspired him last year when he set out on a world tour on foot to spread the message of peace and universal brotherhood, a journey which would take about 10-12 years to complete.

Mr Arun Rudra (55) of Kolkata, West Bengal, who arrive here on the last leg of his journey in Punjab, quit job of documentary film director on May 7, 2001, to start touring the world spreading the message of peace. A bachelor, Mr Rudra said he had toured 22 Indian states and found Punjabis to be the best hosts.

The Punjabis have a peculiar style of working — offer a glass of cold water, ask the guest to have a seat and then talk of business — which he had seen nowhere in the country,” said Mr Rudra. He accused politicians of depriving people of their rights.

When asked about his bitter experience during the journey, Mr Rudra said he had been in Godhra (Gujarat) from February 26 to March 1. He burst into tears saying that he wished he could forget that nightmarish experience. “Even while filming tribes and tribal people, who live like beasts I have not experienced such shame and frustration,” he lamented.

He said he travelled about 50 km every day and his monthly expenses were about Rs 3,500 per month. The All-India Insurance Employees Association was providing funds for his trip. The government or politicians had not given any financial help so far, he lamented.

Admitting that his earlier medium of expression (documentary films) was also powerful enough to mould the opinion of the society, he said meeting people individually and sharing their views was perhaps more effective one.

He said after Punjab, he would be going to Haryana and after getting visa he would leave for China via Nepal. He regretted that while all countries issued visas to people like him with a promising note, Pakistan-Embassy had refused to provide him.

He said the youth of the country would have to come forward in the process of nation building and be more assertive to get their rights.


‘Give priority to Army men’s cases’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
In instructions circulated to all Secretaries, Heads of Departments and Deputy Commissioners of all districts, the Punjab Government has directed that the court cases pertaining to defence personnel may be heard expeditiously and on priority, during their period of leave.

Giving details, the Secretary’ of Defence Services Welfare, Mr. K.B.S. Sidhu, said here today that a number of requests in this regard had been received by the government through the Army authorities, following which the matter was examined from a legal standpoint.

Scrutiny revealed that Section 32 of the Army Act, 1950, already provided a legal basis for such speedy disposal. According to these provisions, on presentation a certificate from the appropriate military authority, a defence forces member could request the court for a speedy hearing and final disposal. As per this Section, no court fee was payable for making this application. The statutory provisions further provided that in case the court was unable to arrange for hearing or final disposal of the suit or any other proceedings within the period of leave, it was incumbent on it to record its reasons for its inability to do so, a copy of which was required, by law, to be furnished to the member concerned.

Mr Sidhu said the statutory regulations framed under Section 191 of the Army Act, 1950, provided that the court was bound to hear such cases “irrespective of the order in which they stood on the register and as speedily as consistent with the administration of justice”. It was hoped that with the circulation of these instructions, serving defence personnel would get palpable relief in respect of litigation involving them in their personal capacity.

The Secretary stated that a copy of this communication had already been forwarded to the Registrar, Punjab & Haryana High Court with the request to consider issuing similar instructions to various courts. 


Candlelight vigil at Wagah

Jalandhar, August 6
Despite escalating tension between India and Pakistan, members of the India-Pakistan Dosti Manch will hold a candlelight vigil at the Wagah joint checkpost on August 14.

The manch, founded by noted journalist Kuldip Nayar, has been holding the candlelight vigil since 1996 at the checkpost. The vigil is a symbolic gesture of friendship from the people of India to their brethren across the border.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Nayar said despite the heightened tensions between the two countries he still believed that there was room for people of the two nations to come together. “Throught the vigil, we are sending a message to the people across the border that we have no ill-will towards them despite the stands of the two governments,” he said. UNI


Attack on Pak bus: Sena men acquitted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 6
The Judicial Magistrate, Mr Jagjit Singh Bhinder, has acquitted Punjab Hindu Shiv Sena president Surinder Dogra, vice-president Pawan Parbhakar, sena activists Dhiraj Karwal, Rajesh Palta, Narinder Sharma, Vinod Gupta, Inderjit and Gopal Chopra of the charges in connection with the stopping of a Pakistani bus near Chachrarri village on March 4, 2000, damaging it and threatening the driver.

They were also charged with trying to obstruct police officials accompanying the bus. The acquittal was announced in a Phillaur court today as the driver of the bus did not appear in the court.

It may be mentioned here that the Sena activists were arrested by the Goraya police and a case under various Sections of the IPC was registered against them.


Unions criticise Civil Surgeon
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 6
The PCMS Association and the Paramedical Staff Union have criticised the Civil Surgeon, Ferozepore, for allegedly misbehaving with doctors and other staff members of the Civil Hospital here during a visit to the hospital on Saturday.

Both organisations held emergency meetings today. Members of the PCMS Association took exception to the Civil Surgeon’s alleged dictatorial behaviour and use of indecent language” with the doctors and other employees of the hospital. It was decided at the meetings to apprise the Directorate of the resentment prevailing among the staff members against the Civil Surgeon.

The signatories to the joint statement issued this evening included, Dr Ramesh Verma, Dr D.P. Godara, Dr Ramesh Arora, Dr Rakesh Arora, Dr Baldev Raj, Dr H.S. Sandhu, Dr P.R. Bhadoo, Dr G.S. Kalra, Dr M.L. Madaan, Dr L.S. Sandhu, Dr Dalip Kumar, Dr Jaspal Singh, Dr Gobind Aggarwal, Dr Sudershan Kaur, Dr Poonam Bhasin, Dr Poonam Bajaj and Dr K.D. Vashishat.

Mr Ravinder Singh, president of the Paramedical Staff Union, in a statement released here today said the Civil Surgeon visited the Civil Hospital at 7.30 a.m. on Saturday.

At that time staff members were in room No. 5 to mark their attendance, but they were prevented by the Civil Surgeon from making any entry in the attendance register. He also misbehaved with electrician Naresh Kumar and Shamsher Singh, he added. However, the Civil Surgeon could not be contacted for comments.


Doordarshan to celebrate foundation day
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 6
For the first time since the inception of Doordarshan the Prasar Bharti Corporation authorities have planned three-day celebrations to mark Doordarshan foundation day at all 40 regional Doordarshan kendras across the country.

The celebrations would start from September 15 during which all kendras would offer a bonanza of programmes comprising live shows for their viewers, who would be invited to participate in the programmes. The decision was taken by the corporation in accordance with the directions of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.

Mr Ashok Jailkhani, Jalandhar Doordarshan Kendra Director, said they had planned a host of live shows for viewers of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh.

He said the celebration would start from September 13 with a multilingual live show to be aired between 8 p.m. and 9.30 p.m. The celebrations would conclude with a two-hour variety show starting at 8 p.m. on September 15.


Yoga centres in govt hospitals
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, August 6
The Punjab Health and Family Welfare Principal Secretary, Mr Rajan Kashyap, has said the state government has decided to start yoga centres in government hospitals where trained instructors would guide patients in practising yoga lessons.

Mr Kashyap said this while inaugurating a yoga centre in the local Civil Hospital yesterday. He said yoga was an effective, simple and cheap alternative therapy to prevent and cure chronic diseases which did not respond to allopathic drugs and other routine therapeutic methods being recommended by specialist doctors.

Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health said the whole world was moving towards holistic health care system which included yoga and other natural non-toxic and non-invasive methods of healing along with modern system of health care system. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejvir Singh, also spoke on the occasion.


LPG dealers to challenge PM’s decision
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 6
Annoyed at the Prime Minister’s decision to cancel all allotments of petrol stations, LPG and kerosene dealerships made after January, 2000, the All-Punjab New LPG Distributors Association has decided to challenge the decision in the appropriate court. Terming the PM’s decision as highly unjustified, taken without holding any inquiry into individual allotments, the association said in a statement here today that many deserving persons, particularly the handicapped and those belonging to the Scheduled Castes and needy sections, had been deprived of their only source of livelihood.


Mission to give free ration to 110 widows
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 6
The Chinmaya Mission has launched a major social drive to provide ration free of cost to over 110 widows in the city.

A former Minister of External Affairs and MP, Mr R.L. Bhatia, who presided over the inaugural function lauded the mission for its efforts.

The secretary of the Chinmaya Mission, Mr Avinash Mohinderu, said they would continue to provide ration at regular intervals to these widows.


4 pc ST on fertilisers may go: Bhattal
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, August 6
Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said today that the state government was likely to withdraw 4 per cent sales tax on fertilisers and she would write a letter to Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh the state government could not put extra burden on farmers.

Talking to mediapersons, she said the government had taken steps to defer the recovery of loans from the farmers by the cooperative sector and Central agencies.

She said each district had been given Rs 10 lakh as drought relief.

She alleged that Union Finance Minister Jaswant Singh had told her at a meeting held by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee that Punjab had been given instalments from the Natural Calamity Relief Fund to deal with the present situation but when she inquired about it, she was told that only Rs 5 crore, that too of last year, had been given so far.

A special survey would be conducted to know the level of groundwater in Punjab and to make the land fertile, gypsum distribution would be restarted.

Asked why the crop insurance scheme could not be introduced in the state, she said the Central Government had fixed a high rate of premium which was not affordable to small and medium farmers.

MALERKOTLA: Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, speaking to Kup Kalan village, near here, on Tuesday said the proposed levy of Rs 2 per unit for power used by farmers had been postponed on the recommendation of the Cabinet sub-committee constituted in this regard.

The government was also considering the withdrawal of 4 per cent tax on fertilisers. She said due to some technical reasons, the area in Punjab could not be declared as drought-affected area but the government would make efforts to help the farmers.


PSEB not to charge duty on generators
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
In view of the drought situation in the state, no electricity duty will be charged by the PSEB on private generators being used by the farmers to irrigate their paddy fields, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, said presiding over a meeting on the drought and power situation in Punjab here today.

The government had requested the Union Government to release Rs 800 crore from the Calamity Relief Fund for the macro-management scheme and drinking water supply etc.


Suspended official still in saddle
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 6
A Markfed official who was recently suspended on charges of fraud following an inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau is still performing official duty.

Mr V.K. Sharma, the controversial branch manager of the Guru Har Sahai branch of Markfed, was suspended on June 19 this year for duping the co-operative society of more than Rs 1 crore. However, through manipulation he is still performing official duty illegally.

According to an official document received by TNS, Mr V.K. Sharma wrote to Amrik Singh and Company of Guru Har Sahai on August 2, asking them to furnish a confirmation report of transfer of paddy to them from various millers of Jalalabad. The controversial officer transferred 41,425 bags of paddy to 10 other millers last month.

It has been alleged that 41,425 bags of paddy have been transferred to other rice millers in order to tamper with the records, as he is yet to file a reply to the charge sheet submitted to him following an inquiry report of the Vigilance Bureau.

The Vigilance Bureau found that 20,661 bags of paddy were shown as having been lifted in the registers of Markfed from two commission agents of the Tibbi Kalan and Tibbi Khurd grain markets that was never purchased by them from farmers. Besides, thousands of bags of wheat are said to be missing from the plinths that were under his charge.

The Vigilance Bureau conducted an inquiry into the fraud and two reports were sent to the head office for the registration of a case. But instead, senior officials of the Vigilance Bureau forwarded the same reports to the MD of Markfed for action against the official.

Interestingly, when Mr A.S. Sekhon, Senior Manager, Export Division, Markfed, along with a few of his colleagues from the flying squad visited Guru Har Sahai on July 25 and 26 this year for verification of the wheat stocks in this branch, 3,600 bags were missing.

Subsequently, the team from Chandigarh checked all stocks on different plinths and found that 213 bags of wheat on an average were missing in each of these. In all more than 19,000 bags were missing.


Streetlighting in Patiala goes private
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
The Patiala Municipal Corporation has decided to privatise streetlighting in the city by passing a resolution in this regard at a meeting held here today.

Stating this, the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, said the corporation would save money and fix accountability in a more effective manner by privatising the service. Giving details, he said around 13,000 streetlight points would be handed over to private operators who would be paid per point by the corporation.

He said the private operator would be held responsible for maintaining the service. He said it was agreed that the private operator would pay a penalty double the amount payable to him by the corporation in case any streetlight point remained non-functional for more than 24 hours. A minimum of three private contractors would compete for streetlights of 20 watt, 40 watt, 125 watt, 150 watt, 250 watt and 400 watt capacity.

Mr Sharma said tenders would be floated soon adding that the project would involve an expenditure of around Rs 40 lakh annually on the part of the corporation. Earlier, the corporation had privatised all its streetlight points from the Rajpura octroi post till the overbridge adjacent to the Bus Stand besides points on the Mall road. He said following the success of the experiment it had been decided to privatise the service in the whole city.

The corporation is expected to save around Rs 6 lakh annually by privatising the service. Earlier, the corporation had an agreement with the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to whom it gave Rs 13 per point as maintenance charges per month besides bulbs and other material that needed to be replaced.

A Finance Committee has also been constituted with the Mayor as its Chairman.


Boy rescued from kidnapper
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 6
A deaf and dumb boy who had been kidnapped yesterday allegedly for ransom was rescued from the kidnapper today at Dalmirkhera village, near here. The alleged culprit was in police custody, but sources said parents of the victim were still divided over getting the case registered.

The sources said Vicky (11), who studied in class II in a privately run school for deaf and dumb children, was kidnapped around 5 p.m. on Monday. His parents received a telephonic call at their neighbour’s residence from the culprit. He asked them to reach with Rs 10,000 at a bridge, under construction, near Alamgarh village, on the outskirts of the town.

The caller threatened to eliminate the boy if the amount was not paid or the police informed.

Gurnam Singh, father of the boy, informed ASP Rakesh Aggarwal. The policemen in plain clothes cordoned off the specified destination but nobody turned up there.

Meanwhile the police was informed that a youth, Mohinder Singh, a resident of the same locality, was also missing since the last evening and he could be the possible kidnapper. Interrogations revealed that Mohinder’s relatives lived at Dalmirkhera village.

The police found Mohinder Singh and Vickey in a field.

Father of the boy looked reluctant to getting the case registered. However, his mother wanted the culprit to be booked.


Man posing as Vigilance officer dupes jeweller
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 6
The police has registered a case under Section 420, IPC, against an impostor who duped a jeweller of jewellery worth about Rs 1.75 lakh by posing as an officer of the Vigilance Department, Delhi, and a friend of the Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur.

According to the police sources, the man went to a jewellery shop yesterday and posed as a Vigilance officer and a friend of the Deputy Commissioner. He told the owner of the shop that there was a function at the residence of the Deputy Commissioner and he wanted to gift jewellery. He also made a fake call to the Deputy Commissioner. Later, he said the Deputy Commissioner wanted to see some jewellery for selection. He took nine gold chains, two bracelets and a bangle and the jeweller accompanied him to the Deputy Commissioner’s office.

The impostor took the jewellery and entered the office, before slipping away. When after half-hour he did not come back, the jeweller, Mr Sushil Jain, became suspicious and enquired about him. He was shocked to know that it was a taxi in which he and the imposter had come. He reported the matter to the police.


Robbery in hostel
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 6
A midnight robbery in the postgraduate wing of the girls’ hostel of the local Medical College has created panic among students staying at the hostel.

The robbers entered the PG Hostel No. 2 around 1.30 am and managed to break into room Nos: 147, 151, 152 and 161. They decamped with wrist watches, other sundry items and about Rs 5,000 in cash.

In an earlier incident, robbers had taken away a TV from the common room of the hostel and it was only after a lot of hue and cry the TV was restored in the room.

An hostel inmate, Manpreet, said they had written on numerous occasions to the Principal about the loopholes in the security of the hostel but to no avail. Manpreet, herself a victim of the last night’s robbery, narrated the sequence of events and said, “I came to know about the robbery in my room (No. 161) and immediately rushed to inform the watchman. Since the watchman took time to come to their rescue, the robbers managed to make their way out with the booty.


Body found
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, August 6
A body was recovered by the Sahnewal police at Bhairo Munna village yesterday. A case has been registered under Section 304-A of the IPC against unidentified occupants of a Tata Sumo who allegedly crushed the man under their vehicle at Bassi Pathana. Later, they allegedly threw him on the road when he succumbed to his injuries while being taken to a hospital.


Rs 1.5 lakh looted from petrol station
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 6
Five persons looted about Rs 1.5 lakh from a petrol station near Jethuke village, around 45 km from here, this evening.

Police sources said the criminals, who were armed with sharp-edged weapons, decended on the IBP petrol station and injured the manager, Mr Narotam Dass, helper Manjit Singh and an SPO, Mr Sarabjit Singh. The SPO was posted at a nearby godown and came to the aid of the victims.

The injured were first given treatment at the Barnala Civil Hospital and later referred to CMC, Ludhiana.


Scholars condemn GNDU on “pirated” edition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Five academicians of Panjab University have criticised Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, for bringing out a “pirated edition” of its book “B-40 Janamsakhi Guru Baba Nanak Paintings”.

In a joint statement, Dr Gurdarshan Singh Dhillon, Dr Sukhmani Riar, Dr I .D. Gaur, Dr M.S. Bajwa and Dr Nirmal Singh said today that the publication of the second edition without informing the Editor of the book, Dr Surjit Singh Hans, and without mentioning the number of copies printed, besides deleting the names of the then Vice-Chancellor and Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the university from acknowledgements sent a wrong signal not only to the scholars and academicians, but also colleges affiliated to the university.

“An opportunity to revise some of the conclusions in the light of the latest research has been denied to the Editor. This is unacademic. It creates the wrong impression. An unwary reader would conclude that the Editor is subserviently cultivating the ‘incumbent’ Vice-Chancellor”.

“It creates the impression that the ‘incumbent ‘ Vice-Chancellor has taken the initiative in publishing a major work on Sikh paintings by stealing the contribution of Prof S.S. Bal. The Guru Nanak Dev University Act does not enjoin the university to spread the message of Guru Nanak to the world in this manner. The ‘incumbent’ Vice-Chancellor has acted amorally, unacademically in an un-Sikh way,” the statement said.

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