Wednesday, August 28, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD, BKU reject river water accords
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
The most complex and sensitive issue of river waters has again started inching to the centrestage in Punjab. On the initiative of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU) headed by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, various political parties and other organisations today evolved a counter strategy vis-a-vis Haryana in which political outfits, joined hands on the issue.

At an all-party meeting convened by the BKU headed by Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, the SAD (Badal) endorsed all the three main resolutions on which a detailed discussion was held before finalising their draft. Through one resolution, the participants in the meeting “rejected” all the agreements pertaining to the distribution of river waters and electricity among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan etc.

The dominating opinion at the meeting was that the consequences of not protecting Punjab’s rights over river waters at this stage would be far-reaching and damaging.

Participants urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to convene a special session of the Vidhan Sabha to reject on the floor of the Assembly all accords pertaining to river waters distribution signed till date to send a message across the country that all political and other organisations in the state are united on the river waters issue. Forgetting the past and stopping the blame game, a new strategy should be adopted to convince the countrymen that “ injustice” had been done to Punjab on the distribution of river waters.

It was also decided to make a submission to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court to refer the BKU’s pending writ petition to the Constitutional Bench of the apex court. As a number of constitutional issues and technical points pertaining to the ownership and distribution of river waters have been mentioned in the petition, it would be appropriate if the matter was decided by such a Bench. The petition is expected to come up for hearing on September 2.

Interestingly, the ruling Congress party, the CPI, the CPM and the Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra did not participate in the meeting.

Among those present at the meeting were Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder (SAD), Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia (Lok Bhalai Party), Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala (Democratic Akali Dal), Mr Satnam Singh Behru (SAD-A), Mr D.S. Gill (IHRO), Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Mr Manjit Singh Kadian (BKU), Mr Gurdev Singh Brar, Mr Pritam Singh Kumedan, experts on river waters. Mr L.S. Bhangu (MCPI) and Ms Harvinder Kaur, a Supreme Court advocate.

The other issue that prominently figured at the meeting was Punjab’s diversion of river waters to Rajasthan. Most speakers stressed the point that Rajasthan was not entitled for any share from river waters in any manner and water supply to that state should be stopped. The Rajasthan Government should be asked to make its own arrangements for water within 10 years . After that the river waters should be stopped to that state. Rajasthan should be asked to pay for using the river waters.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia urged that the Punjab Chief Minister should be told to clear his party’s stand on river waters immediately. If the CM does not make his stand clear, than all political parties should go ahead with their collective agenda decided at today’s meeting, he added. He said Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal should be pressed to join hands on the river waters issue as it was a common issue facing the state and not confined to a particular political party.

The transfer of Chandigarh, Punjabi-speaking areas and High Court to Punjab was sought through another resolution. It was also urged to do away with Sections 78, 79 and 80 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act.

While going into the background of various agreements and river water tribunals, experts at the meeting contended that the Union Government had tried to do injustice with Punjab by overlooking constitutional provisions and international principles pertaining to the river waters distribution.


Voters’ names deleted from lists
Inquiry report indicts 2 PCS officers
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 27
Two PCS officers, a few BDPOs, Executive Officers (EOs), gram sevaks and a number of Revenue Department officials have been found guilty of deletion of names of genuine voters from the voters’ lists during a revision carried out in 2001 and 2002 before the last Assembly elections. This was found during an inquiry conducted in the four Assembly segments of this district by the district administration.

Official sources said the Commissioner, Faridkot division, to whom the report was submitted, had recommended action against two PCS officers posted in the district when the revision of electoral rolls was carried out.

Sources said in the Joga Assembly segment, it was found that the names of 136 genuine voters were deleted from the voters list during the revision of electoral rolls in 2001 and names of seven genuine voters were deleted in 2002 revision.

In the Mansa Assembly segment, 1,633 genuine voters were denied the right to exercise their franchise as their names were deleted from the voters lists by the officials who carried out revision of electoral rolls in 2001. Similarly, the number of persons who were also denied the right to exercise their franchise in the Budhlada Assembly segment was 1,197 in 2001. In Sardulgarh, names of 141 genuine voters were deleted in 2001 and 51 in 2002.

After the formation of Congress government in Punjab, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh constituted district and division level committees to inquire into the allegations that the SAD-BJP government had indulged into the deletion of genuine voters’ names in large number to ensure the victory of its candidates in the Assembly elections held in February, 2002.

Official sources said though the reports from various quarters in connection with the involvement of government officials in the deletion of names of genuine voters from the lists had reached to the state government, no action against them had so far been taken.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted said a comprehensive report regarding the deletion of voters from the lists had been submitted to the Commissioner, Faridkot division.


Badungar for probe into fake SGPC voters
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, August 27
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, has accused the state government of registering fake voters for the coming SGPC poll. He added that the matter would be taken up with the Central government.

Prof Badungar, who made a halt here while going to Delhi to meet the minority commission, said the 60 per cent increase in the voters was an indication that fake voters were being registered on the directions of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

He added that non-Sikhs were being registered as Sehajdhari voters. He alleged that these voters had been registered with the consent of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Prof Badungar said a blueprint of the All-India Gurdwara Act had been prepared by a committee headed by Mr Kulwant Singh Tiwana. The SGPC would discuss it shortly. He said the Act was to bring all the gurdwaras outside Punjab under the jurisdiction of one institution. A Bill in this regard would be moved in Parliament.

Prof Badungar said the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, had been urged to take steps to check attacks on the Guru Granth Sahib by deras mushrooming in the state. The SGPC would launch its own TV channel.

He added that members of some other communities had been entering into the Sikh community and exploiting it for their vested interests. The SGPC would do all to check such activities.

The SGPC president said that it would open an academy at Chandigarh for coaching Sikh students for civil service exams.

Apart from it, the SGPC would promote sports in its educational institutions. This exercise was being undertaken to prevent the Sikhs from falling prey to addictions.


Bibi Jagir Kaur submits proof
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 27
Bibi Jagir Kaur, MLA and former SGPC president, here today submitted evidence to the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) in the case Harbax Singh versus Bibi Jagir Kaur relating to the alleged irregularities committed during the appointment of two persons during her tenure without fulfilling the requisite conditions and formalities under the service rules of the SGPC.

Bibi Jagir Kaur stated that the media director was appointed against a vacant post. She added that Prof Jagtar Singh was appointed on an ad hoc basis. Mr Kirpal Singh Chauhan, who was appointed in charge of the sub-office of the SGPC, Chandigarh, was also “not appointed” on a permanent basis, she stated.

The SGPC panel set the next date of hearing in the case on September 11.

In another case — Satpal Singh Wadali and Bibi Jagir Kaur — the hearing was adjourned to September 18.

The case relates to the alleged withdrawal of Rs 10 lakh by Bibi Jagir Kaur during her tenure as president, SGPC, for a trip to South Africa, where she was accompanied by her son-in-law and two daughters.

Summons were issued to the respondents for September 12 in a third case — Mahan Singh Shhala versus Bibi Jagir Kaur and six others, including SGPC chief and secretary Kirpal Singh Badungar and Gurbachan Singh Bachan, respectively.

The case relates to the purchase of 15 buses for Rs 4.98 lakh each from Balwant Sales Corpn although Dadda Motors had put the price at Rs 4.85 lakh.

It was alleged that no approval was sought from the SGPC executive and there was no provision for its purchase in the annual budget.


Coal line to thermal plants runs dry
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 27
Even as the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is grappling to come to terms with the coal crisis, the coal line to the board’s thermal plants is running dry with only one rake being received at its Bathinda station today and the two other stations at Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat not receiving any coal.

Informed sources disclosed that the situation was likely to turn worse if the board did not make urgent payments to various coal companies as there were no rakes in transit to the stations.

The sources said the coal stock at Bathinda had reduced to eight days of generation even as the stock at Ropar was pegged at eight days of generation and that at Lehra Mohabbat at 15 days of generation. While 55,851 tonnes of coal was in stock at Bathinda, 1.67 lakh tonnes was in stock at Ropar and 1.07 lakh tonnes at Lehra Mohabbat.

Meanwhile, two power units at Bathinda were at present shut down. The sources said while one unit had tripped this afternoon, the other was expected to be lighted this evening. Unit number two at Ropar had not been functioning for the past two days and the board was not keen to light it up immediately in view of the coal stock position there.

The board is also overdrawing from the central pool by purchasing 47 lakh units more than its share from the pool. In view of the coal shortage it has also managed to convince the Jammu and Kashmir Government to start supplying 15 lakh units to it from tomorrow. The board has a banking arrangement with Jammu and Kashmir under which it supplies power to the state during winter and draws the same amount from it during summer.

Meanwhile, the board, in a last ditch effort to ensure substantial hike in tariff in all categories, including agriculture, has painted a bleak picture for coming winter. In matter circulated to the Regulatory Commission it has said in case it has to curtail power purchases due to financial constraints or non payments it will lead to power cuts even during winter in the range of six to eight hours a day. It has projected that in case the central purchase is totally stopped it will lead to power cuts of 12 hours a day and a virtual blackout in rural areas.


Relay fast by thermal plant employees
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 27
Employees of the local thermal plant today started a relay fast in protest against the decision of the PSEB management. Eleven employees sat on fast today. The fast would continue till September 2.

The employees have been agitating against the management’s decisions regarding the depositing of generation allowance for June and July in the GPF of employees, reduction in salaries, and stopping of overtime of maintenance staff.

Although the PSEB authorities had withdrawn the decision to reduce the salaries, the employees said their other demands should also be accepted.

Mr Sarup Singh Toor, vice-president of the GNDTP Employees Federation, said after the completion of 24 hours, the next batch of employees would observe fast.

Mr Gursewak Singh, president of the union, said as per the guidelines of the Thermal Employees Coordination Committee, the employees would observe fast at respective plants in the state between August 27 and September 2.


Doctor poisons beloved, commits suicide
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 27
A married doctor, who had allegedly poisoned his beloved, today allegedly, committed suicide by jumping in front of train near the local railway station.

Dr Sukhkirat Singh, 35, a registered medical practitioner and a father of two, who was running his clinic at Dhapai village in Kapurthala district, was allegedly involved in an illicit relationship with Kulbir Kaur, 20, of the same village. Everything went fine till the parents of the girl carne to know about the relationship after seeing them together on Sunday.

Annoyed at this a cousin of Kulbir allegedly thrashed the doctor on the same day with the help of some of his friends, for which they were booked by the Kapurthala police under Sections 452, 323, 324 and 506 of the IPC after Dr Sukhkirat Singh lodged a complaint at the Sadar police station.

Dr Sukhkirat Singh called his beloved out of her house yesterday while the family members were away and allegedly made her swallow some tablets, resulting in her death.

Acting on the allegations made by the parents of Kulbir, the police booked the doctor and his friend Nirmal Singh, also a resident of Dhaipai village, on the charges of murder under Section 302 of the IPC. Fearing arrest and the wrath of villagers, the doctors fled the village while the police conducted raids at different places to locate him.

The chase of the doctor and the love story came to tragic end when his mutilated body was found lying in a pool of blood by the Railway Police officials this morning. Kapurthala and Jalandhar police officials confirmed that the doctor had committed suicide by jumping before the Delhi-Amritsar superfast train.


Sidhu files plea for translation of court papers
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 27
Giving a new turn to the corruption case against him, former Chairman of the PPSC Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu has moved an application before the Special Judge, Ropar, Mr Kathuria, pleading that he did not know Punjabi. In the application Sidhu maintained that the court documents given to him, including the charge sheet and the copy of the police challan, etc, should be translated in to English as he did not know Punjabi.

The Public Prosecutor today filed a reply in response to the application of Sidhu and maintained that his assertion was baseless. He maintained that Sidhu was a Punjab Government employee for which knowledge of Punjabi till matriculation was an essential qualification.

The entire work of the PPSC was also transacted in Punjabi due to which Sidhu’s assertion was baseless.

The Public prosecutor also maintained that Sidhu regularly demanded Punjabi newspapers from the jail authorities.

Moreover, Sidhu was not pleading his case on his own. His case was being pleaded through advocates. Since the court language was Punjabi all advocates are well versed with it, the public prosecutor added.

After hearing the arguments the Special judge fixed September 3 for the next hearing on Sidhu’s new application.

Meanwhile, highly placed sources said Sidhu was planning to move an application before the Punjab and Haryana High Court requesting for the shifting of his cases from Punjab to any other state on the plea that the Punjab Chief Minister had a personal grudge against him.


Sack of PPSC-chosen engineers opposed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, august 27
Opposing the proposed removal of engineers recruited by the Punjab Public Service Commission for Irrigation Department, the Engineers Association of the department today questioned the criteria adopted by the government to brand various batches as tainted ones.

A spokesman of the association said it fully supported the Professional Services Association which was spearheading an agitation against the state government because of the proposed removal of 41 batches of various categories of employees recruited by the PPSC.

He said the 1999 batch of engineers recruited in the Irrigation Department had the best academic and professional records and selected candidates could not be declared as tainted. Such engineers mostly belonged to ordinary families and had no resources to pay far jobs”. The fathers of at least eight candidates are class III employees the kin of another three candidates Class IV employees.

The association has urged the government to reconsider its decision and punish only those found guilty on the basis of sound evidence.


162 file papers for council poll
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 27
As many as 162 candidates today filed their nomination papers for the September 8 nagar council poll in Phagwara, according to the SDM-cum returning officer, Mr Pritam Singh. Fifteen candidates had filed their nominations yesterday. Raising the total number of nominations to 177, he said. The Congress had fielded the largest number of candidates ie 24 and had decided support to three Independents, BJP had fielded 15, BSP 11 and SAD six.

Meanwhile, the Congress high command, in consultation with the local MLA, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, last night approved and released the list of all its 27 candidates for the council poll.

The following are the candidates — Ward No 1: Ms Kamla Suman, Ward No 2: Ramesh Lal Jordan, Ward No 3: Sanjeev Kumar Bugga, Ward No 4: Ms Jyoti Ghai, Ward No 5: Madan Mohan Bajaj, Ward No 6: Ram Saroop Gangar, Ward No 7: to support Hardip Kaur Anand, Ward No 8: to support Shinderpal (both Independents), Ward No 9: Sushil Kumar Maini, Ward No 10: Narinder Kaur, Ward No 11: Kishan Kumar Hero, Ward No 12: Ram Kumar Chadha, Ward No 13: Tripta Dhir, Ward No 14: to support Paramjit Singh (Independent), Ward No 15: Srinderpal Gikki, Ward No 16: Ms Sita, Ward No 17: Padam Dev Sudhir, Ward No 18: Pawan Kumar Sharma, Ward No 19: Kusum Sharma, Ward No 20: Devinder Kumar Sapra, Ward No 21: Ram Lal Uppal, Ward No 22: Miss Anita Kaura, Ward No 23: Manmohan Sharma, Ward No 24: Malkiat Singh Ragbhotra, Ward No 25: Jaswant Kaur, Ward No 26: Hardip Singh Bhamra, Ward No 27: Brij Bhushan.


Congress leaders bury hatchet
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 27
Congress MLA Joginder Singh Mann and PPCC member Balvir Raja Sodhi today buried the hatchet and held a press conference to put up a show of unity for the nagar council poll slated for September 8.

They said candidates for all 27 wards had been approved by the party high command and they neither belonged to the Mann group nor to the Sodhi group. They said if the party came to power, “irregularities” done by the council would be probed.

During the Assembly elections in February, Mr Sodhi was first allotted ticket for the Phagwara (Reserved) Assembly constituency but Mr Mann later managed to get it in a last-minute changed. This had created bad blood between them.


PRTC to add another 100 private buses
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 27
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) is in the process of inducting another 100 private buses in its fleet under the kilometre scheme. There are as many as 147 private buses already running on PRTC routes under the scheme already.

Under the Kilometre Scheme, initiated by the PRTC a few years ago private buses are allowed to run on PRTC routes and the operators are paid Rs 8.60 per kilometre. Under the scheme, the PRTC employs its own conductors for the buses.

The corporation, which is already under a cloud with the Disinvestment Commission formed by the Punjab government recommending disinvestment of its fleet along with routes by allotting these to groups of employees in lieu of retrenchment compensation, is gearing up to restructure itself and cut costs to escape the axe. Working on these guidelines, the corporation has made a proposal to add another 100 private buses to its fleet under the kilometre scheme, which is being put forward to its Board of Directors on August 29.

As many as 450 buses of the total fleet of 951 buses are over the hill, having covered the statutory 6.5 lakh km or having put in eight years of service after which they are due for replacement. Corporation sources say as these parameters are much higher than even those fixed by the Punjab Roadways and there are no funds for augmenting the corporation’s fleet, induction of buses into the fleet under the scheme seems to be the only way out. In fact the corporation authorities have also proposed to further increase the number of buses under the scheme, if necessary.

Sources said the route receipts of old buses had gone down because the corporation could not cover its scheduled mileage. Giving details of May 2002, sources added, the corporation fell short of covering its scheduled mileage of 94 lakh km by 5 lakh km. On the other hand it earned a profit of Rs 73 lakh for the period between April and June under the scheme.

Under the new scheme which is likely to be offered to operators, the corporation will seek a two-year contract with each operator at rates of around Rs 8 per kilometre. Those running buses under the scheme at present can also apply for new routes for which tenders will be invited.

These operators will also be allowed to apply for extension of their contracts which end gradually up to December 2003. The corporation has, however decided to ask only those operators to apply for routes who have spare bus to run in case present buses caused problems.


100 opt for J&K election duty
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 27
Till date at least 100 employees from various government departments here have opted for poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir.

A majority of them are teachers, workers of the BBMB and the Cooperative Department. The lure of visiting the beautiful Kashmir valley is said to be the basic motivation for most of the young employees opting for poll duty in the troubled state.

When contacted, most of them said it was a rare chance for them to visit the valley under protection of the security forces.

Election officers here are amazed at the overwhelming response of the employees.

Besides the lure of the beautiful Kashmir valley, attractive remuneration is another reason for the employees’ enthusiastic response.

The government proposes to give Rs 10,000 in addition to Rs 135 per day to all employees who serve during the three phases of the elections.

The employees would be given an insurance cover of Rs 5 lakh in case of death and Rs 25,000 in case of minor injury. The employees would be picked up from the district headquarters and stationed at Jammu, Poonch and Rajouri cantonments.


Jalandhar MC to sell surplus land
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 27
In its bid to generate extra revenue for the ongoing development projects in different parts of the city, the cash-strapped local Municipal Corporation has decided to sell 55 acres of its surplus land at the Bashirpura locality to the local Improvement Trust for a sum of Rs 9.8 crore.

The Municipal Commissioner, Mr Jagjit Singh said here today that the 55 acres of land was declared surplus by the corporation last year following the installation of a high-capacity pumping station connected with underground sewerage lines for the disposal of sludge.

The land was earlier used for the disposal of sewerage of the city.

The district-level Price-Fixation Committee, headed by Deputy Commissioner K.Siva Prasad, had fixed the selling rate as Rs 17 lakh per acre and the Financial Commissioner (Revenue) had given its approval for the same.

“The Improvement Trust authorities have agreed to pay Rs 5 crore in advance and the balance amount in instalments. The move is aimed at generating extra funds for various development projects in the city,” Mr Jagjit Singh added.

The plan to sell 55 acres of surplus land to the local Improvement Trust had been stalled earlier as the newly elected civic body was demanding that the selling rate fixed by the committee was below the prevailing market price.

The matter was resolved with the intervention of Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, who presided over a special meeting in this regard last evening, wherein he reportedly instructed the corporation authorities to accept the rate fixed by the committee.

Meanwhile, the corporation has identified its surplus land at the Gazigulla locality and Salempur Musalmana village, which is expected fetch them an additional sum of about Rs 10 crore.


BSNL lucky draw for bill defaulters
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 27
In order to recover arrears to the tune of Rs 70.88 lakh outstanding against different customers of Bathinda and Mansa districts, the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) has launched a lucky draw scheme. After depositing the arrears prizes like ITC card, motor cycle or car. A similar scheme has also been launched for the customers who would deposit the telephone bills earlier.

Mr Joginder Mohan, General Manager, BSNL, Bathinda telecom district, which comprises Bathinda and Mansa revenue districts, while addressing a press conference here today said that the schemes were aimed at motivating the customers to deposit telephone bills well in time and clear any arrears due to them.

He said that as many as 1456 customers in these districts were yet to clear the outstanding bills or other expenses to the BSNL. He accepted that among the “defaulters” there were many government departments.

The lucky draw schemes started on August 1 and would continue till September 30.

Mr Mohan the India Telephone Card (ITC) had become popular among customers. He said that during the four months of current financial year the Bathinda SSA had sold cards for Rs 4.48 lakhs. He added that as many as 33 agents had been appointed for the purpose.

Mr Mohan under the ‘phone on phone’ scheme a new telephone connection can be had on a phone call to the department. After a telephonic request an employee of the department would visit the place for paper work and the connection would be given within 48 hours. The wireless in local loop (WILL) would become functional from March next. Under the scheme the limited mobile facility would be provided to the customers.


Man ‘paraded naked’ by BSF jawans
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 27
Residents of Mahawa, a border village few kilometres from the zero line, are up in arms against certain BSF jawans.

In a complaint sent to senior BSF officials, the Centre and the state government, the residents alleged that the farmers who had their cultivated land across the border fencing were being harassed by the jawans on flimsy grounds. The complainants alleged that BSF jawans posted at fencing gates (106, 107 and 109) often forced the farmers to do bonded labour. Mr Kabul Singh, a resident of the village, alleged that the farmers, who were given a limited time to cultivate their land across the fencing, had to cut the wild grass near the fence first.

The complainants alleged that if anybody refused to obey the “illegal orders” of the jawans posted at the Mahawa post, he had to face the wrath of the jawans. In a shocking incident, Mr Mehal Singh, son of Mr Gurbax Singh, was allegedly paraded naked in full public view. Some residents were allegedly humiliated by a jawan, who was earlier transferred later got posted at the same post.

Those who signed the joint complaint included Ms Nirmal Kaur, Sarpanch, Mr Amandeep Singh, Mr Gurlal and Mr Tarsem Singh — all members of panchayat, Mr Kabul Singh, Mr Virsa Singh, Ms Rajinder Kaur, Mr Sarbjit Singh and Mr Namdev Singh, a leader of SAD.

The farmers have also been facing a lot of inconvenience on the power front, they said, adding that due to lack of coordination between officials of the PSEB and the BSF, the tubewells in the mined fields which got snags could not be repaired.


Probe starts into encroachment case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 27
A two-member team of the vigilance cell of the Local Bodies Department today started an inquiry into the allegations levelled by an advocate, Mr N.K. Garg, and municipal councillor Krishan Kumar Garg pertaining to the encroachment of municipal parks and waiver of house tax in selective cases by the authorities concerned without any valid reason.

Official sources said Mr A.C. Bansal, senior vigilance officer, and Mr Neeraj Bhatti, vigilance officer, today listened to the complaint of Mr Garg in this connection.

Sources added that Mr K.K. Garg, municipal councillors, would meet the team tomorrow in connection with waiver of house tax.

While talking to TNS he said he would also raise the matter in connection with the substandard material used by certain contractors in various works. He added that the house tax had been waived despite the fact that the beneficiaries had never moved a formal application for the same.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the vigilance team would also look into the complaint of a person who had alleged that a senior official was appointed in the local Improvement Trust on the basis of a fake certificate. The team would also look into the complaint made in connection with the construction of 200-feet wide road in the city by the trust.


BDPO held on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, Aug 27
The district Vigilance Department yesterday caught Mr Vinod Kumar Gagat, Block Development Panchayat Officer (BDPO), Sirhind, red-handed while accepting Rs 5,000 from Bhupinder Singh of Jallah village for making one of their panches as acting sarpanch. He has been arrested under Sections 7, 13, 2 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

But the BDPO claimed that he had become a victim of groupism among panches and the money was forcibly put in his pocket.

Mr P.S. Khera, DSP Vigilance, said Mr Bhupinder Singh of Jallah village had approached his office and stated that the BDPO Sirhind was demanding Rs 25,000 for making one of their panches as acting sarpanch.

He said the sarpanch and an acting sarpanch of the village had earlier been suspended. The BDPO had called a meeting of the remaining 6 panches on August 20 to elect acting sarpanch. Four out of the six panches gave in writing that Khushi Ram be made the acting sarpanch but the BDPO refused to accept the decision. Protesting the decision, Bhupinder Singh and Rajinder Singh, both panches, boycotted the meeting. The BDPO got a resolution passed against the two panches and threatened to get them suspended.

Both panches, fearing suspension, struck a deal with the BDPO. He assured that he would make their candidate the acting sarpanch and demanded Rs 25,000 in return. BDPO red-handed while accepting the first instalment of the “bribe”. Meanwhile, Mr Vijay Singh, Additional CJM, Fatehgarh Sahib, today remanded Mr Vinod Kumar Gagat in police custody for one day.


Rs 50,000 grant each for families of hooch tragedy victims
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 27
Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, said today that the state government would give Rs 50,000 each to the families who had lost their breadwinners here on August 25 and 26 in spirit consumption case.

He said the decision to give the grant was taken by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, after he apprised him of the situation. The grant would be given from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

About six persons, mostly rickshaw-pullers lost their lives after consuming spirit supplied to them by a contractor through a middleman in Amarpura Basti and Mohalla Khatika.


Undertrial didn’t collapse before me: Judge

Gurdaspur, August 27
District and Sessions Judge A.K.J. Sharma today said undertrial Janak Raj, who died in the District Jail here recently, did not collapse before his as reported earlier.

He clarified that Janak Raj had collapsed during his inspection of the District Jail on August 23 and he came to know about the incident after about 45 minutes.

He said the undertrial had complained of chest pain when he “had already left towards the de-addiction centre in the Central Jail after hearing the grievances of the undertrials”.

“Therefore, the incident of collapse of the undertrial had not taken place before the Judge,” he added.

He said he had asked for a detailed report from the Superintendent of the Jail along with the post-mortem report of the undertrial. PTI


Trust for martyrs’ memorial upkeep
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
The Punjab Government today decided to set up a trust under the chairmanship of the Commissioner of Ferozepore Division for the upkeep and maintenance of martyrs memorial at Hussaniwala near Indo- Pakistan border in Ferozepore district.

The memorial was raised as a tribute to Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev, for their supreme sacrifice for the country’s freedom.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said a corpus fund would be set up to ensure upkeep of the memorial.

The PUDA authorities concerned had been directed to oversee the implementation of its beautification plan worth Rs 8.50 crore. The design of the plan was approved today.


Bandh against attack on MC chief
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, August 27
A bandh was observed in protest against the attack on Mr Kewal Krishan Jindal, acting president of the local Municipal Corporation, here today. The call for the bandh was given by almost all religious and political parties of the town.

Almost all shops of the town were closed. Residents took out a protest march and participated in a demonstration. They demanded the arrest of the culprits and raised slogans against the police and the administration. Mr Nusrat Ali Khan Bagga, a former Cabinet Minister, Mr Abdul Gaffar, a former minister, Mr Ajit Singh, president, Truck Union, Malerkotla, Mr Kamlesh Garg, president, Sanatan Dharam Sabha and Mr K.K. Chopra, president, block BJP, while condemning the incident, demanded the arrest of the culprits.


Bank staff observe protest day
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 27
Employees of State Bank Of Patiala branches in the district today observed protest day by wearing black badges.

Later, the employees organised a rally in front of District Administrative Complex, where the employees from all over the district gathered.

Addressing the rally, Mr V. K. Takyar, regional secretary, All- India SBOP Employees Federation, criticised the bank management for not conceding to their genuine demands.


Bank employees hold demonstration
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 27
Mr M.M. Behal, Regional Secretary, State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation, today said the banks should fill the vacancies of the clerical staff and the policies drafted in connection with the settlement of computerisation should be adhered to.

Mr Behal, in a press note issued here, said activists of the federation demonstrated in front of the Zonal Office of the bank this evening on a call given by the All-India State Bank of Patiala Employees Federation and demanded that the welfare schemes for the employees should be implemented as per the agreements reached upon between the federation and the authorities concerned.

He said the compassionate appointment cases should be expedited and a policy for upgradation of wages of part-time workers should be framed. He claimed that the activists wore black badges in the various branches of the bank to show their resentment.


Employment awareness week
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 27
Mr Harpal Singh, District Employment Officer, in a press note here today said on employment awareness, guidance and counselling week was being observed by the office with the help of various government departments and private schools.

Government Senior Secondary School, Lehra Mohabbat, and Dashmesh Senior Secondary School, Bathinda, had already been covered. Students were being given guidance regarding various self-employment schemes.


Plantation drive inaugurated
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 27
The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, inaugurated a sapling plantation campaign, launched by Punjab National Bank here today. The bank has also provided 25 tree guards.

Mrs Seema Jain said the administration would seek the assistance of non-government organisations (NGOs) for procuring tree guards. It would provide saplings to educational institutions.

Mr N.C. Jain, Assistant General Manager of the bank from Chandigarh was also present at the function.


1 dies in mine blast

Amritsar, August 27
One person was killed and another injured in a landmine explosion near the border village of Naushera Pannua under the Serai Amanat Khan police station last night.

The victim was identified as Balwinder Singh, resident of Naushera Pannua village. UNI


Robbers’ gang busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 27
The Gurdaspur police has busted an interstate gang of robbers with the arrest of five of its members. A scooter, two television sets, a VCP, a CD player, a gas cylinder, a stereo system, and household articles were recovered from their possession. The gang committed robberies and thefts in Himachal Pradesh, Pathankot, Gurdaspur and Jalandhar.

Those arrested include Vijay Kumar and Buta Ram of Dinanagar and Balwinder Kumar alias Binda, Sanjiv Kumar alias Kaka, and Ashok Kumar of Sarna. They have been booked under Sections 399 and 402 of the IPC.

In another case the Gurdaspur police arrested two quacks who used to give medicines to people while displaying a fake degree of DHMS at their clinic. Dharampal and Gurmeet Chand were running the Dr Virat Himalaya Clinic near Pushap cinema, Pathankot. On the complaint of a patient whose condition deteriorated after consuming their medicine, the two were booked under Sections 420, 34 of the IPC and of the Indian Medical Council Act, 1956.


Probe sought into custodial death
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 27
Sohan Lal of Dehriwall village, who was arrested by the police under Sections 420 and 120-B, IPC, on Sunday died in police custody at the Civil Hospital, Tanda yesterday.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, told mediapersons here today that the National Human Rights Commission and the Punjab Human Rights Commission had been informed about the death. The District Magistrate had been requested to order an magisterial inquiry into the death.

A post-mortem examination of the body would be conducted by a board of doctors and video film would be prepared, she added.


ETT students stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 27
Students of the local District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), led by Mr Balwinder Singh Dhariwal, general secretary of the DIET Students Welfare Association, Punjab, and Mr Mukesh Bhandhari, President of the local DIET Students Welfare Association, today staged a dharna in front of DIET here in protest against the New Education Policy, 2002.

Talking to The Tribune at the dharna site, Mr Bhandhari said they would continue their dharna till the acceptance of their demands.

Students appearing in examinations would participate in the dharna for only one hour, he said.

They urged the government not to increase the percentage of marks for the ETT entrance test from the existing 50 per cent to 55 per cent. Mr Bhandhari also asked the state government not to lower the age limit to 32 years from the existing 42 years for an ETT’s job.

He also asked the state government that it should scrap the condition under which every DIET student would have to do an internship in a school for two years. Thus the ETT course had become a four-year course in place of the existing two years.


Student injured in clash
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 27
Ravi Kumar, student of Government College was injured in a clash between two groups of students on the college campus over the issue of supremacy and “elections to the college students’ union” today. However, these elections have been banned b y the government.

Ravi Kumar was taken to the Civil Hospital where he was admitted to the emergency ward.

The police said it had received no complaint far. Tension prevailed on the campus and nearby area. The police also beefed up security near the college to avoid any untoward incident. Sources said the police had also rounded up a youth in this regard.

Mrs Sukhjinder Kaur Bhattal, Principal of the college, said after the clash, the college had been closed as a precautionary measure. she appealed to the students not to bring outsiders on the campus.

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