Tuesday, August 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Cong, SHSAD plan separate functions
Sant Longowal’s death anniversary
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
A master stroke played by the ruling Congress in declaring the death anniversary function of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal at Longowal village tomorrow as a “state function” may take away some sheen from the “shaheedi conference” being organised by SAD (Badal).

While Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his men had been working hard to mobilise party workers to attend the “shaheedi conference” in large numbers to show to the NDA leadership that the party still has a mass base in the state, the state government has decided to organise a separate function at a nearby venue.

Leaving nothing to chance, the state government has extended invitations not only to Mr Parkash Singh Badal and leaders of other Akali factions but also requested leaders of other political parties to join in eulogising Sant Harchand Singh Longowal on his 17th death anniversary. The invitations have been politely turned down by most of the dal leaders.

In the past, only one function used to be held at Longowal village to pay obeisance to the slain Akali leader. But this time, besides these two functions another function to mark the martyrdom day of Sant Longowal is being organised at nearby Sherpur village by the SHSAD headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

As such, top political leadership of the country, including Union Defence Minister George Fernandes, Union Youth and Sports Minister Uma Bharti, Union Civil Aviation Minister Shah Nawaz Hussain, and BJP General Secretary Arun Jaitley would be the main speakers at the “shaheedi conference” . They will be joined by Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal.

At the Sherpur “shaheedi conference”, besides senior SHSAD leaders G.S. Tohra and Prem Singh Chandumajra, others expected to address the congregation include Mr Laloo Prasad Yadav, Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav and Ms Mamata Banerjee.

Who will all address the Congress conference is still not known. Besides Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal, a couple of party leaders from the Centre, including Mrs Ambika Soni, may turn up to pay homage to Sant Longowal.

In fact, the Deputy Commissioner of Sangrur had reportedly rung up union minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa to suggest that let there be only one function at the original venue where the ruling party leaders too would join. But the suggestion was turned down on the plea that such a “last-minute move was practically not acceptable”.

Interestingly, SAD (A) President and Sangrur MP Simranjit Singh Mann said today that by deciding to organise “shaheedi conferences” tomorrow, the SAD (B), the SHSAD and the Congress had by implication accepted the Rajiv-Longowal accord and the digging of the SYL canal.

“All three political outfits have sold out the interests of Punjab to the Centre and Haryana, much against the riparian principle and Article 246 of the Constitution, which makes rivers waters a state subject. We condemn all these three political outfits for their anti-Punjab stand. The blood of martyrs has been spilt in vain,” Mr Mann said.


Badal flays Cong move on Longowal’s death anniversary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
SAD President Mr Parkash Singh Badal said here today that Capt Amarinder Singh’s belated decision to observe the martyrdom anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal was not only an act of moral and political hypocrisy but also an outrage against the legacy of the legendary Akali hero.

“Poor Congressmen! On Tuesday, they will be making a sorry spectacle of themselves as they will be observing two anniversaries — one of the betrayer and the other of the betrayed,” said Mr Badal referring to the birth anniversary of Rajiv Gandhi, which also falls on August 20.

In a statement here, Mr Badal said: “The Congress decision to observe the martyrdom day of the Sant, is like Nathu Ram Godse observing Gandhiji’s death anniversary. The Congress hands are soaked in the blood of this great and saintly figure and that of thousands of innocent Punjabis. They have no right even to utter the name of the very man whose trust they had betrayed in broad daylight.”

He said the spectacle of Congressmen converging on Longowal village would be the most unnatural sight he would ever have seen in his life. “They will be coming there as an occupation army marching to the accompaniment of police battalions. Punjabis will be witness to this greatest show in hypocrisy on earth.”

Mr Badal said the Congress led by Rajiv Gandhi had worked systematically to heap humiliation on Punjabis and Akalis in general and on Sant Longowal in particular through their shameless betrayal on the Punjab accord. Captain Amarinder Singh himself was on record having held the Congress guilty of political betrayal on the Punjab accord. Mr Badal added Sant Longowal had been immortalised by his act of sacrifice. But as for his assassination, it really took place on January 26, 1986, when Rajiv Gandhi publicly backtracked from a sacred oath contained in the memorandum of understanding on Punjab.


Buses ‘impounded’ for Cong rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 19
Hundreds of buses, mini-buses, trucks and canters of the region have allegedly been impounded by the transport authorities to carry Congress workers to Longowal (Sangrur) tomorrow for attending a rally being organised by the party for the first time in connection with the 17th death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal.

It is learnt that the vehicles had been taken into “possession” and some of these had already been sent to Longowal. In most of the cases, the consent of the operators had allegedly been obtained forcibly.

Bus operators, pleading anonymity, alleged that the Congress government had promised a corruption-free, responsive and able administration but just after a few months of assuming office, it had started indulging in corrupt practices. They said one of the ministers in the Congress government was a transport magnate and the party should have used his buses instead. They pointed out that the people would face problems as a large number of private buses would be off the roads tomorrow.

The transporters said they would be suffering financial losses because of the high-handedness of the transport authorities, adding that with the increase in diesel rates their operating margins had decreased significantly. They alleged that the transport authorities and administration had been forcing them to lend their buses to increase the crowds at the Congress rally.

Sources said the villagers had been offered some incentives by the officials of the state government, including prompt payment of compensation to the drought-affected farmers. They said the state government had issued instructions that the ‘barsi’ of Sant Longowal would be celebrated on the state level. Many senior Congress leaders, including Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would attend the rally.

Similar reports were received from the neighbouring districts, towns and villages. In some cases, the district authorities had promised to provide the transporters with the required quantity of diesel for the buses but the latter alleged that such promises had never been fulfilled in the past. They alleged that the taxis plying illegally on the roads were often hired by the district authorities without paying them.

Political analysts said tomorrow’s rally was an acid test for the government and the Congress and Akali workers were fighting tooth and nail to mobilise the maximum number of workers for the rally. Traditionally the crowds mobilised at the Maghi mela in January at Muktsar, Baisakhi mela in April at Talwandi Sabo and Sant Longowal’s ‘barsi’ in August at Longowal were seen as the yardsticks for assessing the popularity base of various political parties.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said no vehicle had been impounded by the authorities for sending it to the rally at Longowal. He denied having any information about the alleged impounding of the buses and other vehicles.


SHSAD, AISSF (Gill) men in clergy’s panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 19
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) and the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Gill) has been given representation in the 31-member committee announced by the Sikh clergy here today to counter the activities of Baba Ashutosh. Both the Panthic organisations had boycotted the meeting, called by Akal Takht on August 5 on this issue. Interestingly, Akal Takht has also given due representation to the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat which had levelled serious charges of corruption against Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, and his former personal assistant, Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu.

Those nominated included, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee, Mr Charn Singh Lohara (SAD-Amaritsar), Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta (SHSAD), Bhai Mohkam Singh, a spokesman for the Damdami Taksal, Bhai Kanwarpal Singh, a spokesman for the Dal Khalsa, Giani Joginder Singh Talwara, a member of the Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Mr Bhag Singh Ankhi of the Chief Khalsa Diwan, Bhai Sher Singh, a representative of a Nihang organisation, Baba Gurbachan Singh of the Dashmesh Parivar, Mr Harjit Singh of Sikh Missionary College, Mr Jaswinder Singh, advocate of Akal Purkh ki Fauj, Mr Harminder Singh Gill, president, AISSF, Mr Karnail Singh Pirmohammad, president, AISSF (Pirmohammad), Mr Gurcharn Singh Grewal, president, Sikh Students Federation (Mehta), Mr Manjit Singh Bhoma, president, AISSF (Bhoma), Giani Ranjit Singh Delhi, Bibi Harjinder Kaur, Sikh Nari Manch, Bhai Harsimran Singh, Bhai Narain Singh of Akal Federation, Mr Basant Singh of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Sukhwinder Singh of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat, Mr Inderjit Singh Gagowali, Bhai Teja Singh Khudewale of Udasi — Nirmala institution, Baba Parmjit Singh Mahalpuri, Mr Surinder Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh Khalsa Khanewale. More members from the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and other Panthic organisations would be included later.


Sidhu case: SC order to Solicitor-General

New Delhi, August 19
The Supreme Court today directed Solicitor-General Harish Salve appearing for the Punjab Government to file within two weeks the response affidavit of the State on the Presidential reference under Article 371 (1) of the Constitution for inquiry of the charges against Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu.

A three-Judge Bench headed by Mr Justice S. Rajendra Babu granted two weeks’ time thereafter to Mr Sidhu to file his reply and directed listing of the reference after eight weeks for further hearing.

Earlier, Mr Salve told the court that Mr Sidhu had submitted his resignation but the Governor had refused to accept it.

The Bench which included Mrs Justice Ruma Pal and Mr Justice T.V. Reddy asked the state government to appoint either a high court or a district court judge to record evidence in the case.

Senior counsel K.T.S. Tulsi appearing for Mr Sidhu opposed the recording of evidence, saying that similar criminal proceedings were pending against his client elsewhere and if evidence was recorded under Article 307 of the Constitution, it would vitally affect the interests of his client, besides being violative of Article 20 of the Constitution.

In a reply affidavit filed earlier in the court Mr Sidhu said that he had falsely been implicated on account of a longstanding grudge that Chief Minister Captain Amrinder Singh was against him. UNI


3 ex-PSSSB members get bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 19
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today granted bail to Virsa Singh Valtoha, Munnawar Masih and Ashok Lumba, all former members of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB), in a criminal and corruption case registered against them on July 12 by the Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar.

In his order, the Sessions Judge has mentioned that “nothing is to be recovered from them. There is no independent witness against them to whom they may win over, if they were released on bail. The presentation of challan and its conclusion will take time. No purpose would be served by keeping the applicants in custody. The Sessions Judge observed that it was a fit case to grant bail to the applicants. Accordingly, they were ordered to be released on bail on their furnishing personal bonds in the sum of Rs 25,000 with one surety in the like amount each to the satisfaction of the court.


Corrupt SMO’s shocking return as DHO
‘Paid’ to get new post; I was coaxed: minister
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 19
“The anti-corruption campaign of the Chief Minister has suffered a setback in the district, with an SMO of the local Civil Hospital, proven to be corrupt, having been promoted and reposted here as the District Health Officer. He had been transferred out after a vigilance raid,” said Mr A.P. Pandey, ADGP (Vigilance), at a press conference here. He also said the Vigilance Bureau had recommended action against the SMO after a raid on the hospital followed by an inquiry that proved corruption charges.

The ADGP said the SMO had instead been rewarded with the plum posting on the recommendation of Dr Harbans Lal, Minister of State for Forests, Food and Civil Supplies. The recommendation letter to the Health Minister said the SMO should be promoted, as he was honest and hardworking. When contacted, the minister said one of his confidant had coaxed him into making the recommendation and he had been ignorant that the SMO had been facing corruption charges.

The minister said, now, he had asked the Health Minister, Mr R.C. Dogra, to transfer the SMO out of the district. Sources said the minister’s confidant had taken a huge amount for getting the SMO this plum posting.

Meanwhile, Mr Narinder Mehta, Ophthalmic Officer of Civil Hospital, on whose complaint the Vigilance Bureau had raided the hospital, has written a letter to the Chief Minister, criticising the SMO’s promotion and reposting here. He said, on his complaint, a team led by the Patiala Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) had raided the hospital on May 3. The team had to break open the doors of the record room to seize incriminating evidence. The ADGP, then, had made the corruption charges public at a press conference in Chandigarh. Inquiry officials had found that the SMO had cheated the government to the tune of lakhs of rupees.

Now, the SMO has been brought back as the DHO and given charge of food sampling in the district. He is allegedly influencing the inquiry and threatening the witnesses. Mr Mehta said the doctor had been claiming openly that he had bought his return and the new post. Mr Mehta has sought that the doctor be transferred out to prevent him from influencing the inquiry. The DHO was not available for comments.


Govt in a fix over withdrawal of SLP
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
The Punjab Government’s move of “shielding four senior functionaries of the ruling Congress, including a Cabinet Minister, indicted by the previous Lok Pal” appears to be running into serious legal implications as in spite of its orders, all but one special leave petitions (SLPs) filed by the previous SAD-BJP government and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal can be withdrawn.

The Department of Vigilance of the state government had on July 22 issued an order to its Advocate on Record in New Delhi to withdraw all SLPs pending before the apex court in cases pertaining to “indictment of four members of the Council of Ministers of the Beant Singh government”.

When this order was issued, the state government did not realise that one of the SLPs was filed by Mr Badal in his individual capacity and as such the government, in spite of its earnest wish, cannot withdraw it. As such, even after the withdrawal of five of the six SLPs, the apex court direction that “the state government is at liberty to take action on these reports of the Lok Pal “ remains operational.

Interestingly, 10 MLAs of the now main Opposition party — Shiromani Akali Dal —- namely Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, Mr Vir Singh Lopoke, Mrs Satwant Kaur, Mr Malkit Singh, Mr Sohan Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr Bhag Singh Malha, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, Mr Balbir Singh Miani, Mr Des Raj Dhugga and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal had served notices on the Principal Secretary, Home Department, and the Chief Director of Vigilance Bureau more than a month ago to take action against all those who had been indicted by the previous Lok Pal.

These MLAs had wanted that information given by them, including copies of the orders of the Lok Pal in case of Mr Lal Singh (presently Finance Minister), Mr Balmukand Sharma, Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawa and Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo (presently Member of Lok Sabha), be treated as information sent under Section 154 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

The representation made by the MLAs became all the more serious following the Punjab and Haryana High Court order in the case of Mr Ashok Chaudhary Advocate, member, Lawyers Initiative vs state of Punjab .

The order issued on June 18 this year inter alia directed that “all pending inquiries and investigations shall be concluded by all investigating officers concerned in accordance with the law of the land and reports under Section 173 of the code submitted to the courts of competent jurisdiction expeditiously. The progress reports of investigation/inquiry shall also be filed before this court on the next date of hearing. We make it clear that all investigating officers of any rank in the departments, shall adhere to this order. Default thereto would be viewed very seriously in accordance with the law. We part with this file by expressing a pious hope that the state would function normally and make every endeavour to achieve the ends of justice by presenting challans against defaulting persons, including politicians, bureaucrats, businessmen, police and other officers of the government, who are found to have committed various offences or are involved in the scams....”.

Legal experts hold that indicment by the previous Lok Pal still holds good and as such this order of the High Court is fully applicable in case of all these four Congressmen.

In view of this binding order, it becomes all the more serious for the Vigilance Department as well as the Vigilance Bureau to act on the representation submitted by 10 MLAs more than a month ago.

With the SLP filed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal against the operation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court order in the Lok Pal indictment case still in place, the government is in a fix.


Channi criticises Khanna’s charges
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 19
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, Congress MP from Hoshiarpur, has taken exception to the charges levelled against Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, by Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Tourism Minister, in Ludhiana yesterday.

In a press note issued by his office here today Mr Channi alleged that the previous SAD-BJP government sold government properties and leaders of both these parties amassed money through corrupt means as a result of which a prosperous state like Punjab became bankrupt. He said when Capt. Amarinder Singh started a campaign against corruption, the leaders raised a hue and cry to save their skin.

Referring to the Union Cabinet decision to refer the matter of elections in Gujarat to the President, Mr Channi agreed with the Election Commission’s decision to defer elections in the state.

He supported the demand of the Kashmir Committee, headed by Mr Ram Jethmalani, regarding postponement of the forthcoming Assembly elections in Jammu and Kashmir to facilitate the participation of more Kashmiri groups in the democratic process.


Mann decries reference to SC, President
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 19
SAD (A) President Simranjit Singh Mann today accused the BJP of bulldozing all democratic norms with its decision through the Union Cabinet to approach the President and through him the apex court under Article 143 to seek the constitutional validity of the Election Commission’s decision not to hold the Gujarat poll.

In a written statement, Mr Mann said the President should study the Cabinet decision with care and patience and use his prerogative not to forward the Cabinet decision to the Supreme Court under Article 143.

Mr Mann alleged that the Muslims names had been struck off the electoral rolls as a majority of them had fled their homes. The election at this moment would be a farce and could not be free and fair.

His party, Mr Mann said, would like to know how much expenditure was incurred on the medical treatment of Mr Parkash Singh Badal during his two trips abroad. At the same time, the present Chief Minister must also make public the expenditure incurred on his recent visit abroad.


Drought damper for marriages
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Bhikhi (Mansa), August 19
“I found a good match for my daughter before the transplantation of paddy. However, I am not in a position now to solemnise her marriage. I have been virtually ruined by drought. I am trying my best to save the crop”, says Mr Mukhtiar Singh, a resident of Cheema village, near here.

This is not his story alone in the Malwa belt whose cup of woes has filled to the brim.

Many farmers have postponed the marriages of their children. Not only marriages but also other social functions have become rare.

“There is no money from any source. Even commission agents turn down requests for loans for marriage or other social functions. In such a tight situation, it is difficult to organise money to give dowry”, says Mr Paramjit Singh, a farmer of Daipai village, near here.

Eighty per cent people in the Malwa belt have no money to buy “Chahpatti and Khand” (tea leaves and sugar). “Most of us have not gone to nearby towns and cities for the past several weeks which earlier used to be a routine”, says Mr Raghbir Singh, a farmer from Kotra village.

The biggest casualty is tree cover. Farmers are selling trees at a throw away price. “I have sold trees worth Rs 16,000 in the past two weeks”, says Mr Balbir Singh. He named several other farmers of his village who have done the same. Part of this money is used to buy diesel for tubewells,” he adds.

Farmers have been selling their livestock, especially milch cattle. Raghbir Singh says that he bought one buffalo for Rs 15,000 last year and sold that last week for Rs 10,000. Dry fodder is being sold at Rs 100 per quintal. “In winter, dry fodder fetches a price of between Rs 200 and Rs 250 per quintal,” says Mr Bikramjit Singh.

Mr Dhanna Singh, a commission agent, says that it is true that commission agents have stopped loaning money to farmers even for buying diesel. Most of the farmers are fighting a “losing battle” of saving the paddy crop. Of course, they will save the crop, but only by spending money far in excess than the return expected from it. Then how will they return the money to creditors”, he argues.

“A number of farmers removed drought affected paddy from their fields. Patwaris have refused to record it and the sale of trees and live stock”, says Mr Nirbhai Singh, a farmer of Daipai village. Patwaris should recard the removal of paddy provided that is verified by the Sarpanch or any other elected member of panchayat.



PSSF no for poll duty in J&K
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 19
The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation (PSSF) and members of its 42 affiliates will not go to Jammu and Kashmir for election duties during the forthcoming Assembly elections in the state, stated Mr Ranbir Dhillon, General Secretary of the Federation, in a release here today.

As per the release, the decision was taken by the State Federal Committee at a meeting held here, which continued till the small hours of Monday. It was further stated that Mr Rajinder Pal Soni, Mr Ranbir Dhillon, Mr Karnail Singh, Mr Sittal Singh Chahal, Acting President, General Secretary, Senior Vice-President and Finance Secretary of the PSSF, respectively, Mr Harbhajan Singh Johal, President of the Teachers Union, Mrs Satwant Kaur Johal, President of the ANM Union, and Mr Karnail Singh Bhatti, General Secretary of the Primary Teachers Union, in a joint statement said the Punjab Government was sending 4,000 employees for the election duties when the situation there was not “normal”. Punjab employees would not go there for a month-long duty to face bullets of militants.


Sunil Dutt ready for talks with J&K ultras
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
Congress MP Sunil Dutt who arrived here today to launch a “sadhbhawana” yatra from here to Srinagar said he was ready to talk and negotiate with Kashmiri militant groups if called upon by the government to do so. Talking to mediapersons, he refused to answer queries regarding his son Sanjay Dutt’s involvement in the Mumbai bomb blasts, saying that the matter was sub judice. However, he did say that Sanjay had not fled the country. “If he was guilty he would have fled,” he said.

The peace march would start from the Golden Temple tomorrow and would be flagged off by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Five children who had lost their fathers in the Kargil conflict would carry white flags and hand them over to the Chief Minister who would pass them to Mr Dutt.

The march would conclude at Srinagar on August 28.


PSEB engineers list govt lapses?
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association today accused the Punjab government of violating the Electricity Act as well as committing contempt of court by proposing a zero per cent return on net fixed assets in its written objections to the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Commission (PERC).

Releasing a paper on tariff revision, an Association senior leader, Mr Padamjit Singh, said according to Section 59(1) of the ES Act, 1948, it was mandatory for all state electricity boards to earn a minimum rate of return of three per cent of its fixed assets. The Punjab and Haryana High Court had also upheld this following a PIL in this regard and directed the PSEB to ensure compliance with Section 59 of the Electricity Act.

The paper has also given suggestions as to how the unpaid subsidy due to the Board from the state government can be treated. It says one alternative could be adjusting the total unpaid subsidy of Rs 7550 crore against the Rs 4,742 crore state government loan to the PSEB and Rs 2,806 crore state government equity. It said another method could be assuming that the interest on government loans was to be reflected in books then the unpaid subsidy of Rs 4890 crore could be utilised to negate the government loan of Rs 4,742 crore.

The Engineers Association has also claimed that the suggestion of Union Power Secretary, Mr R. V. Shahi, during his meeting with the Board on August 16, that state government loans could be considered as ‘’loans in perpetuity’’ on which no interest is payable. He said this could provided a chance for the revival of the Board.

The engineers body said the tariff revision exercise should not be looked into as a one year exercise to balance the expenditure and revenues as if the PSEB was starting with a clean slate as on April, 2002. It said the fact which was being ignored was that the PSEB started the year 2002 - 2003 with an institutional loan of Rs 5,000 crore and an interest liability of Rs 929 crore, a repayment liability of Rs 588 crore and net internal resources of minus Rs 932 crore in addition to unpaid bills of coal, power and Railways freight and supplier bills amounting to Rs 975 crore. 


Defaulters’ power supply cut, restored
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 19
Power supply to most of the state government offices here was cut today as they failed to pay the dues even after 10 additional days granted to them by the PSEB but, under pressure from the bureaucracy, it was restored later following verbal instructions from the PSEB Chairman.

Talking to TNS today, Mr Surjit Singh Chawla, Superintending Engineer, Ferozepore division, said the power dues yet to be recovered in the district were around Rs 82 lakh. The offices of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner, SSP and almost all police stations were among various other departments which had been declared defaulters but they were still getting regular power supply.

According to the details available, the dues yet to be recovered from government offices in Ferozepore city are: Central Jail — Rs 16.53 lakh, Civil Hospital — Rs 3.76 lakh, Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Societies — Rs 23,000, Sadar police station — Rs 13,000, City police station — Rs 16,000, Public Health Department — Rs 2.15 lakh and Tehsil — Rs 50,000.

In the Ferozepore cantonment area, the dues of government offices are: Water Works (all divisions) — Rs 44,902, Public Health — Rs 1,27,025, Public Works Department (all divisions) — Rs 1,65,881; Fisheries Department — Rs 71,252, Punjab Home Guards — Rs 19,736; SSP office (dog squad) — Rs 805, SSP office (computer section) — Rs 80,129, Deputy Commissioner’s office — Rs 15,931, Range Forest Officer — Rs 1,402; Regional Transport Authority — Rs 10,504, Police station (cantonment) — Rs 68,015, Labour Welfare Office — Rs 16,691 and Piggery Farm — Rs 4,395.

Mr Chawla said a few departments had cleared their dues on paper but the treasury officer was not releasing the amount to them leaving the PSEB authorities high and dry.

He said efforts were being made on a big scale to eradicate power theft, adding that during the past two months, Rs 1.5 crore had been recovered as fine in power theft cases.

FAZILKA (OC): The divisional office of the PSEB here is to recover Rs 13.61 lakh from the offices of the state government and Rs 43.59 lakh from the private sector. After several notices were served on them, the power supply was cut following non-payment.

According to the details available from the local authorities of the PSEB, the board is to recover Rs 6 lakh from the Public Health Department and an equal amount from the Civil Hospital and nearby dispensaries besides Rs 70,000 from the Punjab police offices.

In the private sector, a majority of the defaulters are flour mills having a load of 20 KV and other industrial, commercial and domestic consumers.

Mr Jeet Singh Brar, local Executive Engineer, said several notices had been served on the defaulters but most of them were yet to clear their dues.


Heritage festival at Patiala
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 19
Five years after the Akali-BJP government thwarted the holding of the Patiala heritage festival, mainly due to the objections of senior Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the present Congress government is making plans for holding another festival on the same lines but on an even grander scale to showcase the culture and heritage of the city.

The festival, which was earlier scheduled to be held immediately after the Akali-BJP government was sworn in 1993, was cancelled reportedly at the instance of Mr Tohra, who did not want Capt Amarinder Singh to get any mileage from it. The festival had then been the brainchild of Mr S.K. Sinha, who had remained Divisional Commissioner of Patiala for long.

Preparations for holding of the festival as well as deciding what needs to be done to make Patiala a tourism destination, as well as conservation of the heritage properties in the city were discussed during a meeting of an advisory committee to the Chief Minister on tourism. Former bureaucrat S.K. Mishra, who is the brain behind the highway tourism started by Haryana, and has also been behind successful marketing of heritage properties in Rajasthan is the chairman of the committee. The meeting was presided over by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and was attended by senior officers, including the Secretary, Culture, Secretary, Urban Housing Development, various conservationists, design experts and architects.

Speaking about the focus of the meeting Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh disclosed that Mr Mishra had been entrusted with the responsibility of forming a task force which could be associated with the responsibility of developing the city from the angle of tourism as well as effectively conserving its monuments. He said initially an inventory of buildings would be drawn up and then ways and means would be found to develop them further.

Mr Tejvir said among the features which were discussed were creation of a polo ground which was already on the anvil at the Patiala Aviation Club, creation of a Golf Range on the pattern of the Golf Range at Chandigarh and giving a boost to cricket activity, besides looking how the hotel and other facilities in the city could be upgraded.

He said besides this a plan was also being drawn for the urban renewal of the walled city. He said the issue of removing traffic congestion, particularly on the way to the Quila Mubarak, was discussed in detail. He said PUDA had also commissioned a separate study to work out the traffic plan for the whole city and efforts would be made to make the access to various historical sites more easier for tourists.

The Deputy Commissioner also disclosed that as a preliminary step towards encouraging tourism, an information centre would be created in the Deputy Commissioners office.



Minister opens Civil Hospital
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 19
Mr Ramesh Dogra, Health Minister, inaugurated a 30-bedded Civil Hospital, equipped with ultra-modern facilities and constructed at a cost of Rs 1.72 crore, at Balachaur, about 20 km from here, today. Addressing a gathering after the inauguration, Mr Dogra said the state government was committed to providing better health services to the people. He said 154 hospitals were being constructed in the state.

Mr Dogra said 2.50 per cent share of the fee collected from patients by the Health System Corporation would be kept at the discretion of the SMOs for spending it on the treatment of poor patients.

The minister urged NGOs to help the government in implementing health programmes.

Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister of State for Health, Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary (Health), Ms Kusumjit Sidhu, MD, Health System Corporation, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, Dr K.S. Purewal, Civil Surgeon, Mr Ram Kishan Kataria, former MLA, and Mr Nand Lal, MLA, also addressed the gathering.


Khadia Karamchari Sangh elections
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 19
The Punjab state-level regional conference of the Bhartia Khadia Nigam Karmchari Sangh (BKNK Sangh) was organised at Shakti Palace here yesterday. About 215 delegates from different parts of Punjab took part to elect the new team of Punjab state office-bearers as well as the regional committee of the sangh and hold parleys on various grievances and the double-edged problems faced by the FCI employees and the Sangh.

Giving this information Mr K.K. Sharma, secretary, Punjab state BKNK Sangh, said the following had been elected office-bearers and on the regional committee. Regional chairman — Mr Karnail Singh; senior vice-chairman — Mr Nirpal Singh; vice chairmen — Mr R.L. Narula; Mr Naveen Kaushal, Mr Kamaldeep Chahal, Mr Shakti Pal; state secretary — Mr K.K. Sharma; senior additional state secretary — Mr O.P. Chugh; joint secretaries— Mr Tirlok Singh, Mr B.S. Kumar, Mr A.S. Bhogal, Mr Lachhman Dass; organising secretaries — Mr O.P. Sharma, Mr Lukesh Meena; secretary finance — Mr Daljit Singh, and regional cashier — Mr Sat Pal Sharma for the year 2002-2005.

Earlier, Mr K.K. Sharma, state secretary of the sangh who was again re-elected state secretary read the report highlighting the various activities of the sangh during past three years.

In his report, Mr K.K. Sharma regretted that Union Government as well as the FCI management, in order to cover the failures of the wrong policies and system, were bent upon degrading, penalising, defaming and creating panic among the working class. FCI workers were now victim of the highhandedness of FCI Management in form of dismissals, compulsory retirement, down gradation, stoppage of increments and recoveries etc.


Judicial remand for dental college MD
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 19
Dr Naginder Singh Harika, Managing Director (MD), Khalsa Dental College and Hospital, Nangal Kalan (Mansa), facing trial in various cases of fraud with students, was today remanded in judicial custody for 14 days when he was produced before the Additional Sessions Judge here.

Dr Harika, who was an inmate of Bathinda Central Jail, escaped from police custody while under treatment at the PGI, Chandigarh, last month. The local police arrested him after he fell into the net of the Delhi police during a raid on a hotel in the Paharganj area recently.

Mr S.S. Shirvastva, SSP, Mansa, told TNS that Dr Harika was brought to this city today by the police after he was remanded in police custody for two days by a Delhi court. He was produced in the court today. He added that the Chandigarh police had been informed about the incident and it would investigate the matter as to how Dr Harika managed to escape from police custody at the PGI, Chandigarh.

After Dr Harika fled from custody of four policemen belonging to Bathinda district, Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, Bathinda, placed all of them under suspension. A case in this connection had been registered in the police station, Sector 11, Chandigarh.

Sources said Dr Harika was shifted to the PGI from Bathinda Central Jail for treatment on July 19. On July 20, he managed to escape from police custody by cheating policemen on the pretext that he was going outside the room to take some medicines.

Parents of affected students had alleged that Dr Harika collected crores of rupees on the pretext that dental and nursing courses being run by him were approved by the authorities concerned. The students were allured to the college by inserting advertisements in various dailies, claiming that the college was recognised by the Dental Council of India.


Left holds protest march
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
About 1500 workers of the CPM, MCPI, CPI (ML) and the All-India Forward Bloc marched from Company Garden to the Deputy Commissioner’s office and staged a demonstration there against the “anti-people” polices of the state government and alleged atrocities being committed by the police. They also handed ove a memorandum to the SDM.

Addressing a joint press conference here, Mr Jagjit Singh Layalpuri, general secretary, MCPI, and Mr Manget Ram Pasla, secretary of the breakaway group of the CPM, said this was the second phase of their struggle against the government’s “detrimental” policies, which “enrich the rich and leave the poor in debt”. 


3 youths killed in accident
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 19
Three youths were killed on the spot when their scooter was hit by a truck on the GT Road near Goraya last evening.

The deseased have been identified as Bittu, Kindi and Pappy of Shahpur village. The police has arrested the truck driver, Gurmit Singh, and impounded the vehicle.


Sunil Tangri surrenders
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 19
fugitive of one-and-a-half months, Sunil Tangri, son of the controversial Shiv Sena Rashtrawadi chief Jagdish Tangri, surrendered to the district police here today evening.

Sunil is wanted in the cases of rioting, preparing petrol bombs, supplying arms and sheltering illegal audio-video CD makers, extortion from shopkeepers and rehriwallas at Gur Mandi. Sunil surrendered at the division no. 3 police station, had gone underground on July 5 along with his father Jagdish Tangri after the Ludhiana police cracked down on their activities at Gur Mandi. Jagdish Tangri had surrendered a week later. 


Nurseries in all divisions
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 19
The Forest Department has introduced a new central nursery scheme in every division of the state under which a full-fledged nursery would be developed and trees of all varieties would be made available to the public at a nominal price to make the plantation a mass movement, said Dr Harbans Lal Minister for Forests, here today.

He said that now the people had started coming to the nurseries to get the plants as they had realised that the tree plantation was the only mean to check the growing menace of pollution.

He said that to make the tree plantation more popular and for the involvement of the social organisations and the people, he said that divisional-level forest advisory committees as well as district-level environment protection committees were being formed. He said that people from every walk of life would be enrolled as members of these committees. He said that he had created a sense of competition among the officials of the department as all officials, whose work would be extraordinary would be honoured at state-level function. He said that best forest guard from every division, best block officer, best 3 DFOs and best conservators would be selected by a committee and honoured.

He said that the Forest Department had constituted an encroachment removal committee to remove the illegal encroachments made on the government land and the department had started getting good response and more than 5000 hectares of land all over the state had been got vacated by the department. He said that though the department was facing paucity of funds but with the arrival of the aid from Japan, the financial position of the department would improve. He said that on Independence Day the department had distributed the saplings free of cost all over the state. He said that trees were must if we had to give healthy environment to our coming generations. He urged the social organisations to come forward for the plantations.

Mr Subhash Sood, Mr Naresh Sharma, Mr Sadhu Ram, Mr Varinder Takyar, Mr R.N.Sharma and Mr Hari Krishan, all senior Congress leaders also addressed.


‘Hike compensation for drought-hit’
Our correspondent

Patiala, August 19
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) organised a dharna near the district courts here today to protest against relief measures announced by the state government for drought-hit farmers.

The general secretary of the state unit of the BKU, Mr Gurmeet Singh Dittupur, said the drought conditions in the state would have not been so bad if the government had taken timely action and provided the farmers with requisite electricity and water. Urging the government to increase the compensation amount, Mr Dittupur stated that the condition of the farmers in the state was deteriorating steadily as they had taken loans on high interest rates for purchasing tubewell motors and were unable to pay the same due to failure of crops.

Expressing displeasure over the measures announced by the government, the district president of the union, Mr Gurbax Singh Balbera, said the government should carefully evaluate the damage to standing crops due to drought and flooding of the Ghaggar in some parts of the state.

The general secretary said the BKU would organise a dharna in Chandigarh on August 29 and that it would continue its agitation on unitl the government accepted its demands.



Addl SHO held in kidnapping case
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, August 19
The case of the alleged kidnapping of Malkiat Singh by some persons in connivance with police personnel posted at the local Sadar police station today took a new turn with the arrest of the Additional SHO, Tarlochan Singh, and his bodyguard Harbaksh Singh. With this, four out of the six accused have been arrested in the case exposing the nexus between the smugglers and policemen.

The Additional SHO was yesterday shifted to the police lines. He was formally arrested today following investigations made in the case by the investigating officer.

The SSP said they received a complaint from Malkiat Singh, a resident of Patiala a few days ago. Within four days, the allegedly guilty police officials were identified and booked. The delay in the case was caused on the part of Malkiat Singh who, fearing a threat to his life, did not disclose the matter to the police for about two months. The police had also succeeded in recovering from the accused an amount of Rs 2 lakh out of the total amount of Rs 4.5 lakh allegedly extorted from the complainant.

The investigation indicated that an accused in the case, Sham Lal, an alleged smuggler from Nalagarh, took away a substantial part of the money. He, however, could not be traced. Police parties had been sent to Himachal Pradesh to arrest him, the SSP added.

Malkiat Singh had made a written complaint to police authorities about his kidnapping and extortion of money by some persons in connivance with the police. In his complaint, he alleged that he met Gurcharan Singh of Makori village (Ropar district) at Patiala jail. Gurcharn Singh called him to Ropar for opium transaction after his release from jail.

When he reached a Ropar hotel on June 4, Gurcharan Singh and his friend Sham Lal of Nalagarh area in Himachal Pradesh were waiting for him. After a few minutes of their meeting, a police officer and a constable, along with three other persons, entered the room and alleged that he had opium in his possession. After this he was taken to some unknown place in a car, he alleged.

He was kept in a room where the kidnappers threatened to kill him if he failed to arrange allegedly Rs 7 lakh to secure his release. He was released only after has son, Hira Singh, paid Rs 4.5 lakh to his abductors, Malkiat Singh said.


ASI arrested for beating up wife
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 19
The police has arrested ASI Chhinderpal Singh, at Abohar, for beating up his pregnant wife. The ASI was produced before the Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, Fazilka, today who remanded him in judicial custody for two weeks.

The police had registered an FIR under sections 498-A, 506, 315, 511 and 323 of the IPC against Chhinderpal Singh yesterday on complaint of his wife Simrpal Kaur. She had stated that she was about 4 months pregnant and had been living with her parents following a dispute with her husband. On August 16, Chhinderpal Singh came to the house of her parents and started forcing her to terminate her pregnancy. When she refused, he beat her up.


Most wanted among 5 held
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, August 19
The Gurdaspur police arrested five members of a gang, including New Delhi’s most-wanted criminal Lal Chand, alias Lala, here today.

Mr Varinder Kumar, district police chief, said that the police party, headed by Inspector Jagjit Singh, intercepted a Tata Sumo DL-2CH-3024) and arrested five members of the gang — Lal Chand alias Lala, Vijay Kumar, Ram Kirpal, Ashraf and Bodh Raj. One .12 bore country-made pistol, four live cartridges, one toy pistol, two knives, one iron rod, three mobile phones and Rs 4,7630 in cash were found in their possession. Lal Chand, the kingpin, was involved in 18 cases of killings, assault registered with Mayur Vihar police station, New Delhi. Lala had killed one of his accomplices, Rajesh Kumar and thrown his body in the Beas. A case has been registered at Beas police station.

The gang operated in Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir. The district police chief said the gang would befriend strangers, give them lift and rob them.

Cases have been registered under Sections 399, 402 of the Indian Penal Code at Pathankot police station. 


Seetu Baba, 2 accomplices held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 19
Dhiraj Kumar alias Seetu Baba and his two accomplices have been arrested. The fourth member of the gang is absconding.

Mr Narinderpal Singh, the district police chief, identified the other two gang members as Tejinder Singh, alias Kala, Gurjinder Singh. Rana another gang member was absconding, he added. The gang operated in Delhi, Chandigarh, Meerut and Calcutta, the SSP said here today.

On August 17, the police learnt that Seetu Baba and Tajinderpal had looted Rs 2,000 from one Ajay Kumar of Ajit Nagar on gun point. The police set up nakas and nabbed them. The police also busted another six-member inter-state gang.


Smack seized from foreigner
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 19
The Ropar CIA staff has seized 110 grams of smack from a foreign national, Maqula Christin, wife of Bobby Jefferson, a resident of Uganda in Africa. Maqula is presently residing at Panchkula in Haryana.

In a press note issued here today, the police said during interrogation, Maqula said that she was doing a computer course at Panchkula. But she also supplied smack to the young boys and girls in the Chandigarh, SAS Nagar and Morinda areas. She said the smack had been supplied to her by an African national from Ludhiana, whose name she did not know but her husband knew him. The police said her husband was also involved in the sale of smack and had absconded. A police party had been sent to Ludhiana to nab the accused.


Two brothers held under NDPS Act
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 19
Two local residents, Harjit Singh and his brother Manjit Singh, have been arrested under the NDPS Act for selling drugs.

Police sources said today that more than 35,000 tablets, capsules and injections had been seized from them.

Both were produced before the court and the Sub-Judge remained them in police custody.


Mobile service likely in September
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 19
Due to delay caused in acceptance testing (AT) at the Chandigarh exchange coupled with the delay in the installation of equipments, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has failed to meet the deadline of August 15 to launch its mobile service in Punjab and Chandigarh.

Though the BSNL authorities considerably publicised and earlier claimed that it would provide cheaper mobile connectivity to the people on the occasion of Independence Day, it had started claiming that trouble-free mobile service would be in existence before the end of September 2002.

Mr Pankaj Goyal, DGM, BSNL, pointed out the deadline for the contractors was up to September 30. He added that the mobile service would be launched by September 30.

Official sources said that to provide trouble-free mobile connectivity to the consumers at cheaper and competitive prices, the BSNL authorities had been stressing on the fact that intensive trials should be carried out of all the equipments before they could be put to use for general mobile service.

Based Terminal Stations (BTS) were being installed in the nook and corner of the state and were being linked with the main exchange at Chandigarh. The trials of AT were going on war footing.

Mr Yoginder Mohan, G.M, BSNL, Bathinda, pointed out that tariff for mobile service would be announced at the launching of the service in Punjab and Chandigarh.

Meanwhile, the BSNL had floated tenders for giving dealerships and distributorships of mobile services in almost all the main cities of Punjab.

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