Thursday, August 29, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



35 posts of law officer questioned
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Taking a tough stand, the Punjab Finance Department has asked to the Law Department authorities to justify the requirement of 35 additional posts of law officer in the office of the Advocate-General (AG).

The office of the Advocate-General has 51 sanctioned posts of law officers. However, at present there are 86 law officers on its rolls. These include an Advocate-General, one Senior Additional Advocate-General, 12 Additional Advocates-General, seven Senior Deputy Advocates-General, 24 Deputy Advocates-General and 41 Assistant Advocates-General.

In the absence of 35 non-sanctioned posts, the law officers appointed against these posts have not got their salary for the past five months. The office of the Advocates-General has moved the case of salary of the law officers concerned a number of times to the state government. However, till the posts are approved, which is mandatory, by the Finance Department and cleared by the Council of Ministers, the salary cannot be paid to them.

Responding to the query of the Finance Department, the office of the Advocate-General sent back the file to the Law Department with remarks that the law officers had been appointed by the state government and their services were being utilised for the purpose they had been appointed in the office of the Advocate-General, according to informed sources.

Unofficially, officials in the Law and Finance Departments say that there is no need to have such a vast number of law officers in the AG’s office. In fact, the government had appointed 93 law officers, but the remaining did not join as they felt that they had not been given designation as per the standing in the legal profession.

There are only 33 courts. For each of them, one law officer is enough. Besides that, the services of another 10 law officers can be utilised as relievers or doing duty in place of those on leave and handling additional work. Services of another five law officers can be utilised for handling the cases in Central Administrative Tribunal and other Tribunals, consumer forums, and labour courts.

There is no justification having more than 55 law officers. The number of law officers during the previous SAD-BJP government was around 50. However, most of the law officers appointed by the government belong to either influential politicians of the Congress or VIPs such as retired judges and bureaucrats. Some law officers are related to Akali leaders said to be close the present ruling dispensation in the state. In a way the government has obliged them.

“Actually, there are only a few competent law officers who deserved to be appointed, but the remaining have got the entry because of political or other clout of their family members. In fact, a large number of law officers have no work to do. But they are on the rolls as the government wanted it”, said a senior officer of the state government while commenting in this connection.

The present government, which had assured the people before elections that it will make each appointment on merit without favouring any one, fixed no criteria to check the competency of the law officers concerned before their recruitment. The per month average cost of a law officer, appointed on a contractual basis, to the State exchequer will be near Rs 25,000. It means that the government has assured a total pay packet of Rs 15 lakh per head for the five years to even those law officers whose only qualification is that they are either close relatives of politicians or other sort of VIPs, but their competency to handle the legal issues has not been tested at any level.


Portion of Noormahalias’ dera found burnt
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 28
A portion of the local branch of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS) was found burnt in the wee hours here today.

Nobody has claimed responsibility of the incident. But hand written leaflets were found from the site.

After the clash between followers of Baba Ashutosh and activists of Sikh radical organisations at Tarn Taran and police firing on the Sikh demonstrators at Malout in which 18 persons were hurt on July 31.

Mr Swinder Singh Babla, in charge of the local branch of the Sansthan who also lives in the same building alleged that his family had providential escape as they (he, his daughter, son and wife) were asleep when kerosene was allegedly sprinkled through the windows of his drawing -cum-bedroom at 2 a.m. He further alleged that at least eight preachers of the Sansthan (all women and girls) were asleep in the upper storey of the house at the time of incident which is being used as ‘gurdwara’.

Mr Prithi Pannu, a senior office-bearer of the Sansthan said that some ‘pro-ISI’ forces were behind setting portion of the local branch ablaze. He said despite provocation followers of Baba Ashutosh would remain peaceful and cooperate with the government and district administration. He however said that the Sansthan had tendered conditional apology for hurting the sentiments of the Sikhs.

The leaflets reportedly warned the Sansthan to wind up its activities as Sikh masses could not tolerate their blasphemous acts anymore. However, the followers of the Sansthan described the incident as ‘lull before the storm’. Mr Prithi Pannu and Mr Babla sought holding of a function by the Sansthan to pacify its followers agitated over the incident.

Earlier, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee in a memorandum to the Union Home Minister had urged to probe activities of the Sansthan. The SGPC also had sought a ban on the organisation and arrest of Ashutosh.

The SGPC had also sent a copy a letter of the ‘Manav Uthan Sewa Samithi’ New Delhi which had expelled Ashutosh for his alleged links with Anand Margis.

The committee constituted by the state government on the activities of the Sansthan has already submitted its report but it has not been made public so far. It is, learnt that after studying contents of the literature, audio, video cassettes, the committee has found many objectionable things which could hurt sentiments of people of other religions.

UNI adds: The police has registered a case of causing ‘mischief’ by fire under Section 436 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Babla, a preacher of the Sansthan. 


Acting MC chief alleges assault by MLA’s men
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
A “murderous assault” by men of a sitting MLA and her IPS husband” on the vice-president and acting Municipal Council chief Kewal Krishan Jindal, who is recuperating in Christian Medical College here has been alleged. He was attacked and “left for dead” by armed assailants on Monday outside the council hall in Malerkotla while the police in strength there did not act.

Reluctant to talk to The Tribune as he was “rattled by the blatant attempt to cow him”, Mr Jindal alleged from his sick bed that “the orders to silence him were given by the Congress MLA and her husband.

He had aired similar views on July 2 when the MLA had reportedly voted her confidant for the post of president in the presence of the local authorities. The election was challenged by him in court and the case is pending before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. A departmental inquiry too is under way.

Mr Jindal pointed out that “the desperation of the authorities can be gauged from the fact that they did not abide by the directions of the high court wherein it was observed that the meeting was held in violation of norms and that the department should conduct an inquiry into the whole affair and not notify the president declared on basis of the aforementioned meeting. This meeting is also in violation of the Municipal Act,” he added.

Finding it difficult to speak due to injuries allegedly inflicted with motorcycle chains, he added that “SDM Pardeep Kumar Sabharwal had convened a meeting illegally to elect the president of the MC. He along with other councillors objected to the same and asked him to record their protest in the proceedings which were ignored by the SDM. The MLA too refused to intervene in the matter,” he added.

Later, he along with his fellow members, came out of the hall at 10. 15 a.m. While he was waiting for his driver to arrive, he was assaulted by a few persons led by Mohammad Shakeel and several other persons armed with chains and knives. “While I was being stripped, beaten brutally, dragged on the main road, a police party led by senior officers remained inactive”, he narrated.

“I passed out and regained consciousness half an hour later. Some friends — Mr Haleem Farooqui, Mr Des Raj Verma, both councillors, and Mr M. Jamil-ur-Rehman — brought some clothes for me. I pulled myself inside the hall where the meeting was still on and brought the matter to the notice of the SDM who commented that he was “following his orders”, he alleged.

“There is virtual police raj in the town and an ample proof is that people from all walks of life observed a complete bandh to protest against the attack on Mr Jindal in the town yesterday. The present scenario is such that anyone who opposes the MLA or her husband cannot consider himself safe,” alleged Mr Rehman and Mr Verma.

Mr Jindal has also faxed his complaints to the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Punjab CM, the Chief Secretary, the Chairman, Punjab State Human Rights Commission, the DGP, the DIG, Patiala Range, and the SSP, Sangrur.

Another councillor, Mr Abdul Wahid Aziz, was allegedly attacked by a person with a sharp-edged weapon, known for his proximity to the DIG. The police is yet to register a case even though an inquiry was marked by Patiala Range DIG Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota in May. Mr Aziz represents ward number 26.

The genesis of this trouble lies in the declaration of 14 Councillors on July 1 to start a stir if the Punjab Government failed to annul the “wrongful” election of the Municipal Committee president. The aggrieved group had alleged that the whole process was unfair to them but the MLA concerned had denied any wrongdoing and maintained that the voting was held in a free and fair manner.

The aggrieved councillors alleged that they were “prevented from exercising their franchise by plainclothes men and certain lumpen elements” at the main gate of the committee office.


ADGP to probe murder of Akali leader, 5 others
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
Entrusting the investigation of a case — pertaining to the murder of Akali leader Gurdial Singh and five other activists — to Punjab’s Additional Director-General of Police (Crime), Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the probe should be completed within two months.

In his petition against the state of Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and 12 others, Gurdial Singh’s brother Nau Nihal Singh had earlier sought the transfer of the case from the local police to the Central Bureau of Investigation or any other independent agency. He had further sought directions to the investigating agency to present the challan before the court of competent jurisdiction within the stipulated period of 90 days.

He had submitted that his brother, whose security cover was withdrawn, was murdered on May 19 in broad daylight in Bhikhindwind bazar, just 200 yards away from a police station, after a conspiracy for his elimination, involving Congress minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar, was hatched.

The petitioner had added that highly sophisticated weapons were used and about 100 bullets were fired. The police, he had claimed, had initially refused to register a case despite the statement of an alleged victim.

Going into the background of the case, he had stated that Gurdial Singh had contested the elections as Shiromani Akali Dal candidate from Valthoha but had lost to Mr Bhullar. He had further added that Mr Bhullar had engineered two other attacks on Gurdial Singh’s life. Two persons had even been convicted and sentenced to four years rigorous imprisonment, besides being fined Rs 1,000, he had asserted. 


Villagers without power for 14 days
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
Residents of Rampur Nobad village near the Sadugarh railway station have been without power since August 14. The power failure has also caused drinking water scarcity in the village. A few farmers who have their own generators are providing drinking water to other resident of the village.

Residents said their tubewell motors and domestic power supply failed on August 14 and since then, they had been repeatedly lodging complaints with the PSEB officials, including SDO and the Executive Engineer, but to no use. They alleged that the lower rank staff of the PSEB had demanded Rs 500 per connection to restore power in the village. They said that since they refused to oblige, their power had not been restored.

When contacted, the SDO (Rural) Sirhind, said that as the transformer of the village was damaged, a new transformer was being installed there. He said power would be restored at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the PSEB officials last week disconnected the streetlight connection of the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana, causing darkness in the town. The SDO said that as the council had failed to clear electricity bills worth Rs 12 lakh for the last year, the streetlight power supply had been disconnected and notice had been served to the council to pay the balance bills otherwise the supply to tubewells would also be disconnected. He said that besides Municipal Council, notices have also been served to the Police Department and the hospital authorities to clear the outstanding bills, otherwise their power supply would also be disconnected.

The EO Municipal Council Bassi pathana said that bills worth Rs 11 lakh are pending for the past one year.


Sikh boy cuts hair, blames it on ragging
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
In an inquiry conducted by the local Punjab Aircraft Maintenance College has revealed that a Sikh boy had falsely accused a senior of having got his hair cut forcibly following a ragging session as he was afraid to face his father’s wrath.

According a an inquiry made by the college authorities and the first year hostelers who live with the “victim” Harmanjit Singh, the boy had got his hair cut even before the alleged date of incident on August 19. The college authorities, who had yesterday suspended a second year student following a complaint made by the parents of Harmanjit, are in the process of reviewing the suspension order and have also decided to determine some form of action against Harmanjit.

Harmanjit had come to the college yesterday, alongwith his parents, who complained to Principal Amrik Singh that a second year student Hamender Kumar had taken their son to a roadside barber in front of Government Rajindra hospital on August 19 and got his hair cut forcibly. The boy had also complained that he had been ragged by his seniors and had been terrorised into getting his hair cut.

Even though the college authorities took immediate action by suspending the second year student yesterday morning only, later events in the day revealed that Harmanjit had cooked up the story to escape the wrath of his father.

College Principal Amrik Singh, while talking to TNS, said when Harmanjit and his parents and the hostel warden were sent yesterday to find the barber, the alleged victim failed to locate the barber who had cut his hair. The Principal said the barber could not be ‘located’ by the boy even today.

Mr Amrik Singh said moreover the first-year student had not reported the matter for eight days before he appeared before him along with his parents. He said even after the alleged incident the boy had attended classes as usual. He said first-year students had also corroborated that no ragging incident had occurred on August 19.

The college authorities have also pointed out that it was not possible for only one second year student to get any barber to cut off the hair of a junior student forcibly and that no one could be coerced into travelling on a scooter for more than 2 km to a barber as claimed by the first year student.

The College Principal said some ‘vested’ interests had deliberately tried to fan the sentiments of the people against the college management by trying to create a religious issue on the campus of the college. He said this ‘conspiracy’ could be due to the fact that he had changed the management of the hostel around three months back which had not been liked by some elements. He said he had already submitted a report in this regard to the Director, Civil Aviation.


Tubectomy death: SMO, another doctor indicted
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 28
“Poor arrangements in the civil hospital, Raman Mandi and negligence of the doctors on duty have deprived three children of their mother. It is not a small crime,” says the magisterial probe conducted by ADC, G.K. Singh into the tubectomy death, which took place on July 4, 2002.

Mr Anurag Verma, District Magistrate, who had ordered the magisterial probe, had written a demi-official letter to Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health, Punjab, for an appropriate action against the doctors and members of the paramedical staff of civil hospital, Raman Mandi, for causing the death of Rani, a mother of three children due to their negligence.

Mr Kashyap, when contacted, said that strict and exemplary action would be taken against those who had been found guilty for causing the death of Rani after she underwent tubectomy operation. He added that he had been examining the report sent to him by Mr Verma.

Sources say those found guilty in the case would invite criminal proceedings against them soon.

Rani, who underwent tubectomy on July 3, 2002 in Raman Mandi civil hospital, died due to administrative failure of civil hospital authorities and the negligence of the doctors, who were on duty.

“To send the patient in a rickshaw a few hours after the operation bringing the patient back to the hospital on mule cart after her condition deteriorated, the absence of doctors when the patient reached the hospital. Absence of ambulance driver stationed in the hospital and sending of class IV employee instead of a member of paramedical staff with patient Rani, who became unconscious, when she was shifted to civil hospital, Bathinda are the main factors responsible for her death,” pointed out Mr G.K. Singh in his 17-page report.

Rani, who was sent to her house a few hours after the operation by a rickshaw, was given no post-operative attention despite repeated pleas by her kin to the doctors of Raman Mandi civil hospital, that her condition has been deteriorating and she has been crying due to pain.

Rani died within two hours after she was shifted to local civil hospital from Raman Mandi. Instead of conducting a post-mortem examination, the local civil hospital authorities stared negotiations with kin of the victim to broker a compromise between them and the guilty doctors and other staff members for a consideration.

Though there was no formal complaint in this connection, the District Magistrate, ordered a magisterial probe into the same after taking a suo motu notice of news items which appeared in various papers in respect of tubectomy death.

In the report, Mr G.K. Singh indicted Dr Gurdev Singh, Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Raman Mandi civil hospital, for his administrative failure. Dr Gurdev Singh did not make arrangements for an ambulance to shift the patient to her house after the operation. He was also found guilty of living at a place other than the place of his posting.

Though Dr Gurdev Singh had deputed Dr Gurmeet Singh as emergency medical officer (EMO), he was also found absent from his duty on that night. Mr Kulbhushan Kumar, the driver of ambulance, also was on duty on that night, was also absent from duty.

“Had ambulance been provided to Rani for her shifting to civil hospital Raman Mandi from her house and then to civil hospital, Bathinda, she would have been given treatment at appropriate time. Dr Gurdev Singh is liable for disciplinary and departmental action for his administrative failure,” said the report.

Dr Rakesh Gupta, another doctor, who was informed of the deteriorating condition of Rani at 8 pm by another member of staff was supposed to visit the patient in her house for giving her treatment. However, Dr Gupta did not perform his duties according to the situation. Dr Gupta also failed to accompany Rani when she was shifted to civil hospital Bathinda and nor he sent any staff nurse along with her.

“Had both Dr Gurmeet Singh and Dr Rakesh Kumar performed their duties, the life of Rani could be saved,” pointed out the report.


Give Sinha case to CBI: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 28
SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal today demanded that the recruitment scandal involving Mr Sanjit Sinha, Principal Secretary to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, be handed over to the CBI for an independent and impartial probe.

He said all decisions taken by this officer since his appointment in the present post should also be reviewed and investigated by the central agency. Mr Sinha should be relieved of all his present assignments to pave the way for an impartial probe.

Mr Badal said that even the “ugly reality” of the Congress claims on corruption unfold, the Chief Minister was left with just one job to perform and that was to hide skeletons of corruption in the Congress cupboard.

“What a pity that the man placed at the head of the Vigilance Bureau to carry on the pseudo war on the corruption is himself found to be an architect of a massive recruitment scam”, said Mr Badal, adding that it was a matter of serious concern for the state that a person of such antecedents was also holding the Home portfolio.

In a statement here, Mr Badal said that the indictment of Mr Sinha in the scandal involving the recruitment of naib tehsildars during the Beant Singh regime had torn to shreds the anti-corruption campaign of the Congress government.


Cong activists hold protest
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
The factionalism in the Congress came to the fore during a dharna organised by the DCC in front of Deputy Commissioner’s office here today as the Forests Minister, Dr Harbans Lal, and activists owing allegiance to him abstained from the dharna.

Hundreds of activists led by Dr Sikandar Singh, president, DCC, organised the dharna to expose the petrol pump scam.

Addressing the dharna, he criticised the BJP government for committing one after the other scam. He said the government allotted petrol pumps and gas agencies preferably to its kith and kin and if allotted to anyone else it took Rs 15 to Rs 20 lakh per pump and agency. He said various touts of the Central Government were active and after settling the rate, the pump was allotted. He said during the raid on the residence of the Chairman, Dealers Selection Board for Punjab, the CBI has seized crores of rupees. He said earlier the government was exposed by, when its National President was shown taking bribe, then the embezzlement in the purchase of coffins for Kargil martyrs was surfaced. He said not only this the government allegedly indulged in communal violence in Gujarat. He said now the AICC president had taken a lead to expose the misdeeds of the government and has promised to give a clean and responsive government.

Among others who spoke on the occasion were Mr Sadhu Singh, MLA, Amloh, Mr Makhan Lal Lalka, Mr Gurdaman Singh Sondha, Pavel Handa, Mr Gursharn Singh Bittoo, Mr Ram Kewal Yadav, Dr Satya Rani, Ms Meeran Devi, Mr Baldev Krishan, Mr Kashmira Singh and Mr Ram Rattan Roorkie.

Later a delegation led by the DCC president submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner.


Hanspal favours consensual approach
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 28
The newly-appointed President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, (PPCC), Mr H.S. Hanspal, today said he would adopt a consensual approach to strengthen the party in the state by taking everyone along with him. He said this while talking to TNS here after addressing a demonstration organised by the District Congress Committee against the NDA government at the Centre.

The PPCC President said he was lucky to inherit a strong party network which his predecessor and Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’ had left. Mr Hanspal denied any dissension in the PPCC and said there was unity between the rank and file of the party.

Mr Hanspal announced that the committee would be reorganised very soon which would be followed by the district and block units. He said the committee had decided to appoint sitting MPs and all former PCC presidents as permanent invitees. He also disclosed that most of the incumbent DCC president might continue only if they were not elevated into the PPCC.

The PPCC president observed that a close coordination between the party and the government was very essential. He said that there would be perfect coordination between party leaders and government functionaries, including ministers. The party would serve as a resource bank for government and it would provide regular feedback to the government. He said at least one minister would always be available at the PPCC headquarters.

The PPCC President strongly defended his party’s hosting a function to observe the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal. Mr Hanspal said, “Mr Longowal had died for the nation and we should respect that sacrifice”. 


Relief for drought-hit
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
All loans credited to the farmers affected by the prevailing drought would be converted in to mid-term loans for three years and no extra interest would be charged from them.

This was stated by Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over the District Consultative Committee meeting at Bachat Bhavan here yesterday.

He said the farmers who are able to pay their loans can do so but the farmers who are unable to repay their loans would be sanctioned fresh credits for the next crop season.

He further said that the government would ensure help to farmers so that due to drought they may get some relief. Managers at the meeting assured the Deputy Commissioner that no extra interest would be charged.

The Deputy Commissioner stressed that at least two self-help groups should be established in each block of the district, where members may jointly start their works like making of pickles, chatnis, jams, small bottles and bottle covers.

This way they may repay the instalments of their loans easily and also earn some money for their homely needs.

He directed all officers concerned that there should be 454 self-help groups in the district by the end of this year so that more and more people may be covered under self-employment schemes near their houses.

He pointed out that under the Prime Minister Rozgar Yojna, 209 people had been sponsored till now against the target of 250, and 38 cases had been sanctioned.

Mr B.S. Sidhu, ADC (D), Mr M.L. Guru, Lead Bank Manager, Mr S.K. Banga, DIO NIC, Mr Karnail Singh Panag, Chief Agriculture Officer, and managers of various banks were also present on the occasion.


Kohar’s judicial remand extended
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 28
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr A.S. Grewal, today extended judicial remand of former Minister for Jails and SAD MLA Ajit Singh Kohar, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, for 14 days.

The former minister was produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate amid tight security. Mr Grewal instructed the police to produce the accused in the court on September 11.

Later talking to reporters, Mr Kohar alleged that the anti-corruption drive initiated by the Congress government was aimed at defaming the SAD. “If the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, is really interested in curbing corruption at higher offices, why is he shirking from taking against four tainted Congress minister, who had been indicted by the Punjab Lokpal during the SAD-BJP regime” he added.


DSP’s arrest further stayed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 28
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today further stayed the arrest of Parampal Singh, DSP, Morinda, till September 11 on an anticipatory bail application filed by the DSP on August 16 apprehending his arrest under Sections 420, 467, and 471, IPC and 13 (1) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

In his order, the Sessions Judge mentioned that it was stated by public prosecutor that he had not received the record and requested for adjournment. Under these circumstances, the bail application was adjourned to September 11 for consideration. Till then, the stay regarding the arrest of the applicant was to continue. However, he was directed to join investigations.


Prevention of nuisance or crime by cops
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 28
Rashwinder Singh, a resident of Guru Tegh Bahadur Nagar here was taking an Ice-cream at the Lalheri Road railway crossing on Monday evening. Constable Karam Singh accosted him. The tipsy policeman tries to extort money from him. When he refused to yield he was beaten up. A sum of Rs 560 was pinched from his pocket. A.S.I. Malkit Singh on naka duty called 2 A.S.I.’s from the police station. They took Rashwinder to the police station. SHO Baldev Singh Brar detained him. Rashwinder’s father along with 40 others requested SHO Brar to released the youth. Brar set him free the next morning after coercing to sign on a blank paper.

SHO Brar maintains that drunk Rashwinder was causing nuisance in the area. He was released after he tendered a written apology.

Rashwinder has complained to the SSP, Khanna, with a copy to the ADGP, crime, Punjab, through the All India Crime Prevention Society.


Confusion marks half-day holiday
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 28
Confusion marked the half-day holiday in government offices today as a word spread around that the state government had not announced the same.

Sources said employees went home in the afternoon. The sources said most of them did not verify a news report regarding the holiday from the authorities concerned.

Some educational institutes closed at half-time while some others, which received the “information” late, closed about two hours late. The district authorities had issued no instruction regarding this holiday, the sources said.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said he had received no intimation regarding the half-day holiday announced by the government. If it was found that the government had not declared a half-day holiday, a circular would be issued tomorrow. Those employees who had availed of the holiday today would not be allowed to avail another half-day holiday whenever announced.


Rajwant waits for PoW brother

Ludhiana, August 28
When Flight Lieutenant Gurdev Singh, 27, led a unit of Indian Air Force planes to attack Pakistani radars on December 5, 1971, he was hailed as a national hero.

Thirtyone years later his sister Rajwant Kaur believes that he is languishing in a Pakistan jail ever since he was captured as a prisoner of war (PoW). She is hopeful that her brother would return.

Gurdev, like some other soldiers and officers of the Indian Army and Air Force, are being tortured with third degree methods in Pakistan jails.

She says Gurdev is reportedly housed in the Kot Lakhpat jail of Lahore.

Gurdev led a unit to Pakistan on December 5, 1971 and attacked some important radar stations. But before he could return to his base, he was taken prisoner.

Gurdev Singh was honoured with the Vir Chakra for his exceptional bravery and leadership of a high order.

It was also stated in the citation of this “posthumous award” that his base had lost contact with him after the attack of the enemy radar unit.

Rajwant Kaur, a handicapped and 10 years younger than Gurdev, is settled in Britain, these days she is here.

The family has been pursuing the matter at different levels, including diplomatic channels, and has received some information that some Indians, including soldiers, continue to live in a state of death-in-life in the jails of Pakistan.

The family received no letters or any type of direct communications from her brother, she said. But they continue to cling on to the hope of meeting Gurdev one day.

Rajwant Kaur says that in 1988 some PoWs, including one Mukhtiar Singh, who were released from Pakistan jails, had informed the authorities about six Army and Air Force officers who were with them in the Kot Lakhpat jail of Lahore.

Among them reportedly are Flt Lt Gurdev Singh, Flying Officer Krishan Lakumji Malkani, Flt Lt Babul Guha, Capt Kanwal Bakshi, Capt Ravinder Kaura and Capt Giriraj Singh.

Rajwant Kaur complains that in spite of the several letters written to the Ministry of Defence, the family has failed to obtain any definite news about the whereabouts of her brother.

She says letters to the Pakistan government have also gone unanswered.

Rajwant Kaur says, her parents Kirpal Singh and Ranjit Kaur died in 1982 waiting for the return of their son.

She says the grand mother, however, is still confident that he is alive. She has resisted the installation of a statue of Gurdev at Chak Sarwan Nath village in Ludhiana district.

Rajwant Kaur still hopes the Government of India will take up the matter with Pakistan and secure their release. PTI


PSEB reduces peak load restrictions
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today reduced peak load restrictions on Category II, III and IV industrial consumers even as no coal was received at its Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda thermal stations. However, the coal supply is expected to pick up with some payments being made to various coal companies.

An official spokesman said today peak load restrictions on these categories of industrial consumers had been reduced from nine hours to six hours during evening. The spokesman said the reduced restrictions would come in to effect from today itself. Earlier, the board had reduced peak load restrictions on Category I industrial consumers from nine hours to three hours.

Meanwhile, board sources said today no coal rake was received at either Bathinda or Lehra Mohabbat thermal plants till this evening. The Ropar plant, however, received three rakes, they added.

The sources said the coal companies were likely to restart supply of coal to the board after payments of about Rs 30 crore were released to them. The major creditor of the board — Central Coalfieds, Ranchi, which has an outstanding bill of about Rs 70 crore, was paid Rs 20 crore. Southern Coalfieds was given Rs 4.5 crore, Western Coalfields Rs 2 crore, Eastern Coalfields Rs 1.6 crore and Bharat Coking Coalfields Rs 1.5 crore. The board had owed around Rs 110 crore to various coal companies.


Probe ordered into foeticide
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 28
Mr Rakesh K. Verma, District Magistrate, yesterday ordered a magisterial inquiry into the abortion of girl foetus, allegedly by a government doctor of a local dispensary at his private clinic.

The SDM has been deputed to conduct the inquiry and submit a report within 15 days.

Mr Verma directed the Chief Medical Officer to get a case registered under the provisions of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Prevention and its Misuse Act.


Move on Beant Singh’s anniversary flayed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 28
The move of the Punjab Government to celebrate the death anniversary of Beant Singh, a former Chief Minister, at state-level was a retrograde step. It would add insult to injury of Sikhs, according to President of the Akali Dal Simranjit Singh Mann. Mr Mann alleged that by already observing the death anniversary of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, the Congress, the Akalis belonging both to Badal and Tohra factions and the Centre had legitimised the anti-Punjab clause of SYL Canal incorporated in Rajiv-Longowal accord.


Mann’s UK, US tour from today
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 28
SAD (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann is all set to proceed on a month’s tour of Austria, Belgium, Canada, France, Britain and the USA to address Sikhs, meet political heads of foreign offices and counterparts in consultative committees.

Mr Mann is leaving for Canada tomorrow along with party General Secretary, Professor Jagmohan Singh.

In the first leg of the journey which begins with a visit to Vancouver, Mr Mann will address the Sikh community and thank the Canadian Government for setting up a Counsellor Immigration and Visa office in Chandigarh.


MC meeting to clear 40-cr projects
J. S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, August 28
The local Municipal Corporation has finally decided to convene a meeting of the House on September 4 to approve development projects involving an amount of about Rs 40 crore. Besides, the proposal to get a loan of Rs 75 crore from Hudco for the augmentation of drinking water supply and sewerage facilities in different parts of the city would be placed before the House for approval.

The meeting, to be presided over by the Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, had been postponed twice earlier, on August 19 and 25.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Mr Mahey said they were preparing project reports of various development works and estimates would be presented in the meeting for approval. “We have also decided to cancel the development projects of Rs 60 crore earlier sanctioned during the SAD-BJP regime for which tenders had already been invited,” Mr Mahey added.

According to sources, the estimates of development projects of Rs 40 crore will be passed during the scheduled meeting on September 4.

“My first priority is to provide drinking water supply and sewerage facilities in about 22 localities falling under slum areas of the city as per the guidelines issued by the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, in this regard,” said Mr Mahey.

Even as most of the slum localities, including Tilak Nagar, Santokhpura, Lamba Pind, Basti Danishmanda, Jallowal Abadi, Sidharth Nagar, Kot Sadiq, Gandhi Camp, Bhargo camp, Bootan Mandi and Khurla Khingra had been approved by the Local Bodies Department, the civic body has decided to put forth a proposal to approve the remaining slum localities, which had been come up “illegally” in the past 10 years, to enable it to carry out development projects.

Interestingly, the proposal to take a loan of Rs 75 crore from Hudco for the augmentation of drinking water supply and sewerage facilities in the city, which was rejected during the last meeting of the house on the plea that corporation would generate its own resources for this ambitious project, would be placed in the meeting for approval.

“While Rs 60 crore will be spent on providing sewerage facilities, a sum of Rs 15 crore will be used to augment the drinking water supply throughout the city. The project will be completed with the assistance of Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board in about five years,” the Mayor said.


Sand lessees charging heavy royalty’
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 28
The national secretary of the All-India Forward Bloc, Mr V.P. Saini, today asked Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to take action against lessees of “khuds” (sources of sand and rubble) whose employees were allegedly cheating the public in the name of royalty by charging exorbitant rates.

He said despite the appearance of news reports in this regard, the government had done nothing so far.

He said Rs 100 per tractor-trailer of sand was being charged against the rate of Rs 25. He said receipts were being given without the name of the person or any company to whom the “khud” had been auctioned. 


5 lakh to be spent on roads : DC
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 28
Ms Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, has announced that the district administration will provide Rs 5 lakh for the repair of roads and Rs 2 lakh for the repair of streetlights in the local Giani Zail Singh Nagar.

The announcement was made by Ms Jain while presiding over a meeting with the residents of the nagar to redress their grievances here last evening.

The Deputy Commissioner also planted a sapling in the main park of the nagar.


MC removes encroachments
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 28
The local municipal corporation authorities carried out a demolition drive in Gandi Camp and Ram Nagar, which is part of the assembly segment represented by the Punjab Industries Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, here this afternoon, in which unauthorised constructions, including gates and toilets on streets, were razed to the ground.

However, residents termed the drive as selective, accusing the MC authorities of turning a blind eye towards encroachments in posh colonies.

The civic staff, led by the Additional Commissioner, Mr Harjit Singh, reached Gandhi Camp at about 2 pm and removed about 400 encroachments using machines. Some residents tried to stop the authorities by lying down in front of the machines, but in vain. The residents, including women, raised anti-government slogans.

They alleged that the civic staff acted in a haste by not heeding their requests to remove their belongings before the demolition.

“Despite my requests to wait for sometime, the civic staff continued with its drive and demolished my room, resulting in damage to my belongings,” a resident, Mrs Ram Kaur, alleged.

Mr Darshan Singh, a resident of Ram Nagar, alleged that there were about 6,000 encroachments in the Bhargo Camp locality, which were identified by the civic body last year, but no action had been taken to remove these.

The municipal corporation is scheduled to file a status report in the Punjab and Haryana High Court on September 9 regarding removal of encroachments on government land.


Dacoits kill guard, loot 3.6 lakh from bank
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 28
Dacoits looted a branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce of Rs 3,60,810, killed its security guard and injured two staff members at Bakapur Guru village near Garhshanker, 47 km from here, today.

Mr Hardev Rai, Manager of the branch, told this correspondent that six or seven young clean-shaven dacoits, having firearms, entered the bank premises at 12.15 p.m. On seeing them, Charan Dass, security guard, tried to restrict their entry, but was fired upon. The dacoits also fired at Mr Kuldip Kumar, clerk, and Mr Dinesh Kumar, also a bank employee. The cashier, Mr Jiwan Kumar, entered the strong room of the bank and locked it from inside.

However, the dacoits entered the cash cabin and looted Rs 3,60,810. The dacoits also took away a gun of the bank and a personal bag of the Manager, and fled in a Tata Estate car. The security guard succumbed to his injuries on way to the DMC, Ludhiana.


Robbers strike at rice mill
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 28
A gang of robbers last night struck at the Zimidara rice mill situated on the GT road and took away two truck-loads of wheat from the sheller. Wheat of PUNSUP agency was stored in the rice mill.

According to Mr Inderjit Singh Sandhu, owner of the mill, at midnight about 20 persons came in two trucks to the rice mill. Four of them were carrying guns in their hands. On entering the mill, the robbers tied the hands of three employees of the mill and a chowkidar of PUNSUP, and locked them in a room. They threatened to shoot them if they made any noise or raised any alarm.

Mr Sandhu said that they immediately started loading wheat from the mill and soon loaded the two trucks and fled. He said that the truck belonging to his rice mill was also parked in the mill and they tried to start that truck also but could not succeed.

The Sirhind police has registered a case under Sections 382, 342, 457, 25, 54, 59 of the Arms Act.


Computer institute ‘dupes’ 35 students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 28
As many as 35 students have been allegedly duped by a computer institute which has reportedly issued them fake certificates and decamped with the money.

Addressing a press conference here, the students have sought police action against the local franchisee of Asset International, Mr H.S. Sandhu, Amit Sharma, business manager, Opinder Singh, center head, and general manager (learning services), IBM Global Services India Private Limited. Each student has been charged Rs 40,000 and the certificates given on behalf of the IBM have been found to be fake, the students alleged.


1 held for selling spurious fertiliser

Gurdaspur, August 28
The Punjab police has arrested the owner of a factory which was producing spurious zinc sulphate and selling it through retail outlets to farmers. Disclosing this here today, SSP Varinder Kumar said Braham Kumar, owner of S. K. Industry in Khanpur village under the Shahpur Kandi police station, was arrested on the complaint of the District Agricultural Officer, Mr G. S. Sidhu.

Mr Sidhu, in his complaint, had stated that two years ago he had raided the factory premises of the said industry. Samples were taken from 39 sacks supposed to be containing zinc sulphate and all samples failed, he said.

The SSP said other partners of the suprious industrial unit, Rajeshwar and Rajiv Kumar, both sons of Braham Kumar, and as Ms Arun Sharma of Kangra district were still at large.

Mr Varinder Kumar said the product of the factory was sold to farmers through retail outlets in Shri Hargobindpur, Qadian and Wadala Granthian. The Batala police had been informed of the addresses of these retail outlets, he said. UNI


Man held with fake passport

Amritsar, August 28
An Indian national, who flew to the city from London by a Turkmenistan flight last night, was arrested on the charge of travelling on a forged passport.

Police sources said today Harish Kumar turned out to be Tarsem Singh on close questioning by Immigration and Intelligence authorities at Rajasansi International Airport when he tried to check out.

Hailing from a village in Hoshiarpur district, Tarsem Singh was later arrested by the police for further interrogation. He travelled on the passport bearing the name Harish Kumar. UNI


Students gherao police station
Tribune News Service

Mansa, August 28
Students and residents of Jhunir town of this district today gheraoed Jhunir police station for about four hours in protest against the alleged high-handedness of the police.

The agitators said action should be taken against the in charge of the police station for committing “atrocities” on students and trying to implicate a teacher in a case.

Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP said the DSP, Sardulgarh, had been directed to hold an inquiry into the matter.

The police had used force against the students when they were protesting against the behaviour of private bus operators.

The state unit of the All-India Students Association has called a meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue.

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