Friday, August 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Subsidy to PSEB to continue
Way paved for tariff revision
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
While sending its reply to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC), the state government today reportedly committed to continue the current level of subsidy that is in the range of Rs 1,000 crore to the PSEB.

According to informed sources, the state government’s subsidy to the board will be by way of not charging interest, that is Rs 571 crore for the current financial year, on the loans given by it to the board besides allowing the retention of electricity duty to the tune of Rs 150 crore and capital subsidy worth Rs 100 crore and extending other financial support from to time to time.

The government has sent the reply responding to the commission’s latest letter through which it had asked the government to specify the amount of subsidy that it was prepared to give to the PSEB. With the government’s letter, the way has been paved for the commission to recommend the revised power tariff for various categories of consumers.

It has now become almost certain that the commission will have to impose power tariff on the agriculture sector. The PSEB has sought a power tariff of Rs 2 per unit for this sector. However, it appears the commission will recommend a tariff less than what has been sought by the board. The PSEB has in its petition stated that the agriculture sector was consuming about 5,986 lakh units annually and the returns from this sector were nil. If Rs 2 per unit tariff is charged, the total earning to the board from the agriculture sector alone will be to the tune of Rs 1,197 crore.

The Commission was supposed to announce the new tariff rates earlier this week. However, as it was awaiting the government’s response to its query, it delayed the announcement. Now it is possible that the commission may announce its order on tariff on Monday.

The board is insisting that the new tariff rates should become operative with restrospective effect that is April 1, but the commission may recommend the implementation of new tariff rates from August 1. The government, according to sources, has evolved its own strategy to provide subsidy on tariff to certain sections of society. First, it will study the tariff rates recommended by the commission.

After examining the rates, it will decide which categories of consumers should be given free power for which it will compensate the board by providing cash from the state treasury. Sources said the government was of the view that farmers owning land up to five acres should get free power for agriculture purpose. There were about 1.50 lakh tubewells of such farmers. It would not be very difficult for the government to fully subsidise power bills of such farmers.

Likewise, there are poor sections of society which utilise power up to 150 units per month. Their totally liability is expected to be Rs 40 crore which the government can afford to pay to provide free power to such categories.

The PSEB has projected its annual revenue requirement to the tune of Rs 7,858 crore from the power tariff and other sources while it is earning, at present, Rs 5,239 crore. There is a gap of Rs 2,619 crore that it wants to be bridged by the revision of power tariff. The board had prayed before the commission that the tariff slabs should be revised in such a manner that the board should be able to mop up an additional Rs 2,619 crore from the consumers. However, contesting the board’s claim, the state government projected the requirement of the board to the tune of Rs 5,561 crore.

The ball is now in the court of the commission. What it will decide is keenly awaited by all concerned especially the board which is facing a grave crisis on various fronts. It is clear that while revising the tariff, the commission will put several conditions on the board asking it to take drastic cost-cutting and economy measures and curb power theft by taking all possible steps.


Drought impact on paddy “marginal”
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The high-decibel hullabaloo over drought in Punjab notwithstanding, its impact on the overall paddy production in the state this year is likely to be marginal.

Mr V.K.Singh, Senior Regional Manager of the Food Corporation of India, Punjab, said here yesterday after an extensive tour of the state that despite the failure of the monsoon in large parts of Punjab, the overall paddy output was expected to remain more or less the same at around 125 lakh tonnes. As matter of fact, according to some inputs received by him, the deficient rain might result in a better quality of rice grain this year because of the less moisture in the atmosphere.

In an interview with TNS, Mr V.K. Singh identified some of the important indicators for his assessment:

i) Although the monsoon was not as vigorous as it should have been, the fertiliser consumption in the state had gone up by at least 10 per cent since last year.

ii) Similarly, the consumption of diesel had gone up by 80 per cent as compared to last year.

iii) The prices of submersible pumps used by the farmers to lift water from deep wells to irrigate their farms had nearly doubled. There was also a great shortage of these pumps in the state.

All this indicated that although the rains were deficient, the Punjab farmer was doing everything possible to maintain production levels. It was another matter that in the process, his cost of production had gone up considerably.

Mr V.K. Singh said the FCI was proceeding on the assumption that the market arrivals of paddy would be almost the same as last year and was making arrangements for procuring the grain accordingly. Although Punjab produced 125 lakh tonnes of paddy last year, the market arrivals were of the order of 115 lakh tonnes. Of this, 20 lakh tonnes was procured by private millers, leaving the remaining 95 lakh tonnes to be procured by government agencies.

He said that paddy procurement would begin officially from October 1. Every effort was being made to educate the farmers to bring their produce to the market for sale only when it was ready with minimal moisture content.


4,000 hectares paddy damaged in Hithar area
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 29
An estimated 17,744 hectares under paddy, cotton, sugarcane, fodder, moong and other minor crops have been damaged due to lack of rain in Faridkot district.

A major loss has been caused to paddy in the Hithar area in Faridkot block where the crop on about 4,000 hectares has been damaged. Similarly, 450 hectares under sugarcane has been damaged in the Hithar area. This was stated by Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, here after getting a final report of girdawari, which started on August 10 and was completed on August 25.

More than 200 government employees comprising revenue, agriculture and senior district officers took part in girdawari. Sarpanches and nambardars of the respective villages also cooperated with the girdawari teams, the Deputy Commissioner said. A detailed report in this connection had been sent to the Punjab Government for necessary action.

The Girdawari was conducted on the government direction so that farmers who suffered losses could be compensated. Meanwhile, according to Agriculture Department sources, an estimated loss of Rs 25 crore had been caused to crops.



After drought, it’s bollworm
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 29
Cotton growers of Bathinda and Mansa districts, who were earlier affected by the drought, are finding themselves in a critical situation as the attack of bollworm on their crop crossed the Economic Threshold Level (ETL) in some pockets.

To make a field survey and to advise the farmers regarding the use of insecticides and pesticides to kill the bollworm, teams from Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) and the state Agriculture Department will make a visit to several villages.

Official sources said paddy, sugarcane, some oilseed crops in thousands of acres of land had been damaged due to drought which gripped Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda districts. In certain pockets the farmers were forced to plough their cotton crop, which had been dried up due to drought.

Mr H.S. Bhatti, Agriculture Officer, pointed out that so far, it had been noticed that attack of pink bollworm, also known as spotted bollworm, had crossed the ETL. He added that farmers had been advised to use insecticides in a proper manner to save their cotton crop.

He added that the attack of insects and pests on cotton crop could be countered with timely spray by the farmers. The Agriculture Department officials had also been keeping a constant watch on the situation, he said.

In Mansa district, the Agriculture Department officials said in a number of pockets, the attack of bollworm had crossed the ETL. The Punjab Government had been informed about the situation, they added.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, who accompanied the teams of the Agriculture Department to various fields today, said he had received reports that bollworm was being controlled with the use of insecticides and pesticides.

Mr Major Singh Brar, Chief Agriculture Officer, Muktsar, said in the district, the attack of bollworm had not crossed as per today’s reports. He added that even then the farmers had been advised to carry out the spray of insecticides and pesticides on cotton crop.

Meanwhile, sources in the Agriculture Department revealed that the state agriculture authorities were revising its target of cotton production in Punjab this year.


Police guards Ashutosh dera
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 29
After the fire incident in the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan building, the police has been deployed at the local branch of the Sansthan here today. Office-bearers of the Sansthan met the vice-chairman of the Minority Commission and sought minority status for the sect.

Meanwhile, Swami Arvinda Anand, an organiser of the Sansthan justified the changing of names by Ashutosh Maharaj before the establishment of the sect. “The great spiritual personalities like Mahatma Buddha and Swami Vivekananda has also changed names after becoming enlightened”, he said. He, however, said that Ashutosh Maharaj had not changed his name after he established the Sansthan at Noormahal. He said there was deeprooted conspiracy behind the alleged allegations being levelled against the ‘Sansthan’.

Giving background of several passports issued under different names of Ashutosh Maharaj, Swami Arvinda Anand said that he (Ashutosh) had visited many spiritual places in search of ultimate truth before the establishment of the Sansthan. He said the Manav Utthan Sewa Samiti (MUSS) which had alleged that Ashutosh Maharaj had direct links with ‘Anand Margis’ must admit the fact that he (Ashutosh) himself had left the MUSS after realising that it (MUSS) was not treading the path of spirituality. He claimed that Ashutosh Maharaj was not expelled as claimed by the MUSS but he himself severed links with the ‘dera’. Swami Arvinda said that the MUSS should come out with the reasons for which Ashutosh Maharaj left the dera.

Mr Prithi Pannu, another organiser of the “Sansthan” said that Ashutosh Maharaj had been working for “Hindu-Sikh” unity through his sermons. He said, there was not even an iota of truth that Ashutosh Maharaj had been enforcing conversion. He said truth was that he (Ashutosh Maharaj) was trying to make a Sikh a better Sikh, a Hindu a better Hindu.

The Sansthan would ‘expose’ the misdeeds of the MUSS soon.


‘Ban sect head’s activities’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
A delegation of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat here today met the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to submit a memorandum against the activities of Ashutosh Maharaj, head of a sect with its headquarters at Noormehal.

Mr Rajinder Singh, convener of the panchayat, in a statement said the delegation sought ban on the activities of Ashutosh Maharaj in the light of the recommendation made by the National Commission for Minorities.

He said the Chief Minister told the delegation that the government was keeping a close watch on the activities of the sect. The government would soon take a final decision regarding the sect and till then it would not be allowed to hold any “samagam”. The Chief Minister said no one would be allowed to play with the Sikh religious traditions. Among those who met the Chief Minister were Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Charanjit Singh, Mr Joginder Singh, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Kesar Singh and Mr H.P. Singh.


Ex-servicemen approach Kalam on pension
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
Disheartened over the attitude of successive governments in implementing a Supreme Court decision regarding pensions to BSF personnel, their association has now taken up the matter with the President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam.

The apex court in its ruling in 2001 had decided that those service personnel who have resigned are eligible for pension under the CCS pension BSF rule 19 only if they have put in a minimum 20 years of service. While the earlier rules stated that a minimum of 10 years and 40 days of service is mandatory for a service man of the BSF to be eligible for pension in case of resignation from service.

The BSF Ex-servicemen Welfare Association says that the government has wrongly withdrawn the pension of those who were already covered under the previous rule. The president of the association, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, alleges that the government has started implementing the apex court decision with retrospective effect. Hence, those drawing pensions earlier have been facing withdrawals of their pensions.

The elite Border Security Force was raised on December 1, 1966, and placed under the command and control of the Army immediately after the Indo-Pak war in 1965. The force rendered commendable service and made supreme sacrifices for the nation in the Indo-Pak war of 1971.

After 1978, some BSF personnel resigned after putting in more than 10 years of service due to various reasons. These personnel, who are now in the twilight of their lives, are left with no pension to sustain them in their old age. Many of them have become frail in health and cannot even take up their cases with the government.

Meanwhile, the government has thought nothing of their services for the country and has left them to languish in penury. Mr Sandhu said many of them had been coldshouldered by their children after their only source of income dried up.


Probe into corruption charges against BDPO
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 29
A fact-finding team of the State BDPOs’ Association deputed by the president of the association today visited BDPO office Sirhind, to verify the facts whether the charges levelled by the BDPO Sirhind that the money had been forcibly put in his pocket by officials of the vigilance department, whereas the department claimed that he was caught red-handed while accepting Rs 5,000 from Bhupinder Singh of Jallah village for making one of their panches as acting Sarpanch of the village.

The team also discussed and got the first hand information from both the government witnesses Mr Jai Krishan, APRO and Mr Ved Bhushan Sharma, ETO, and the sources told that both the witnesses told the team that he has been caught red-handed and there was no truth in it that vigilance officials had put the money in his pocket. The team later went to Nabha jail to interact with the BDPO.

Meanwhile, Mr P.S. Khera, DSP vigilance strongly refuted the allegations of the BDPO that the money was forcibly put in his pocket. He said the BDPO during his short tenure of service had been suspended twice earlier on one or the other pretext. He said now various panchayats and sarpanches had come forward with the charges of corruption against the BDPO. He said the BDPO had a very bad reputation in his department and he had been managing to get the prime stations for posting with the blessings of the political masters.

In significant development photocopies of the official letters written by Dr Harbans Lal, Minister of the area written to the Minister, Rural Development, Ms Bhattal marked as “V.V. Important” were distributed to the mediapersons. The minister has stated that the BDPO should not be transferred from Sirhind as he was working satisfactorily there. In the second DO written to Ms Bhattal, the minister had recommended that the BDPO, Bassi Pathana should be posted out of district and the BDPO Sirhind should be given the additional charge of the Bassi Pathana block. Mr Sadhu Singh MLA, Amloh had also made similar recommendation to Ms Bhattal, minister in charge of the department. 


Battling ‘bhang’, his aim
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Can prohibitory orders under Section 144, Cr PC, be promulgated to check the wild growth of ‘bhang’ and its subsequent misuse by drug traffickers ?

“Bhang”, though a psychotropic plant, does not come under the purview of the NDPS Act. Its wild growth and subsequent use by drug traffickers is widespread not only in Punjab, but also in parts of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh.

Mr Uttam Singh Dhaliwal, former Deputy Advocate-General of Punjab, has taken upon himself the task of waging a one-man battle against “bhang trafficking”.

In September last year, the Ludhiana police registered a case against a roadside vendor selling “bhang lacerated drinks” after seizing three bags full of the dry leaves of this psychotropic plant weighing about 60 kg. After investigation, the challan was put up in the court for prosecution. The accused, however, preferred a bail application in the Punjab and Haryana High Court where it was held that “possessing bhang was not covered within the definition of Section 2 (III) of the NDPS Act”.

How can the state be a silent spectator to free drug trafficking though bhang may not be covered by the NDPS Act? Hundreds of youth, in general, and Nihang Sikhs, in particular are addicted to this psychotropic plant. Various names are given to this plant by different sects of Nihang Sikhs.

Even labourers and others consume this “cheap drug”. The consumption of “bhang” touches the peak during festival seasons, especially holi when a popular snack of pakoras made from ‘bhang’ leaves.

“There is an easy way out to tackle the bhang problem,” says Mr Dhaliwal. He suggests that during the season , the District Magistrates should promulgate orders under Section 144, Cr PC, directing all superintending engineers, executive engineers, subdivisional engineers and junior engineers to ensure that all wild growth of ‘bhang’ should be cleared from their respective jurisdictions. This is, perhaps the only effective way of controlling the misuse of this psychotropic plant”, says Mr Dhaliwal. He has already written a letter to the Principal Secretary, Home, in this regard.

He further says that this is the time when the government must act as after the rainy season, the whole of Punjab gets covered with wild ‘bhang’ crop.


SAD meeting tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 29
In its bid to ensure huge gatherings during the proposed dharnas at all district headquarters on September 11 in protest against the alleged repressive policies of the Congress government, the SAD has convened an emergency meeting of the party’s senior leaders at Kalgidhar Nivas in Chandigarh on August 31.

In a press note issued here today, the press secretary of the SAD, Dr Daljeet Singh Cheema, said all district presidents, MPs, MLAs, former MLAs and candidates who were defeated during the last Assembly elections, had been asked to attend the emergency meeting in Chandigarh to chalk out the strategy for the dharnas.

Dr Cheema said the meeting would be presided over by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He said all SGPC members belonging to the SAD and senior leaders of the Youth Akali Dal would attend another meeting in Chandigarh on September 2.


MC cuts 349 water connections
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 29
Owing to a severe fund crunch, the municipal corporation here has disconnected 349 water connections as the owners of these were found defaulting on the payment of water bills.

Interestingly, the police quarters, Officers’ Colony and even the Deputy Commissioner’s office complex are major defaulters. At least Rs 15 lakh is pending towards these.

The Commissioner, Mr Jasbir Singh Bir, said the corporation was taking action in all nine zones in and around the city.

The corporation has arrears amounting to a whopping Rs 17 crore in water bills alone. Of this, Rs 12 crore is pending in lieu of bill payments from 66 slum areas, identified in the jurisdiction of the corporation.

There are about 1,22,000 sanctioned water connections in the city of which owners of nearly one-fifth are defaulters. The defaulters include mandis, gurdwaras, government departments, associations and political party offices.

A maximum of 82 water connections were cut in the housing board colony in the Ranjit Avenue area while 35 connections were cut at Maqboolpura, infamously known as a “locality of widows”.

Other areas where water connection were cut are Batala Road, Bhagtanwala, Majitha Road, Lakkar Mandi, Laxman Chowk, New Model Colony, Chheharta, Khardwala, Dashmesh Avenue, Sultanwind Road, Kot Laxman Dass, East Mohan Nagar, Sunder Nagar and Kangra Colony.

Mr Jasbir Singh said slum area dwellers had been notified to clear their last water bill only to get their water connections restored while others had been asked to clear all their dues. 



Exploitation of girls to be checked
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 29
To check exploitation of girls by Punjabis from overseas on the pretext of marrying them and later dumping them back home, a joint conference of Punjab and British Police would be organised at Punjab Police Academy Phillaur. This was disclosed by Mr G.S. Aujla Additional Director-General cum Director Punjab Police Academy Phillaur at Police Recruits Training Centre, Jahan Khelan 8 km from here today. He said a strategy would be finalised to check the exploitation. A joint meeting of Punjab and British Police Officers was held recently.

Mr Aujla said the Police Training Academy of Phillaur had been identified as training centre of excellence for counter terrorism studies out of all five academies of the country.

He said that photography was very important and helpful in Police investigation. Photographic evidence was considered authentic. A photographic club had been opened at Police Recruits Training Centre Jahan Khelan. Different training courses had been introduced in the PRTC, he added.

Earlier, Mr Aujla took the salute from 187 trainees of Capsule Course No. 14, Conversion Course No. 4, Basic Course No. 224 (Wireless) and C-2 Course No. 6 in this centre. He called upon the trainees to perform their duty devotedly in the field and give justice to the people.

Mr R.S. Khatra, Commandant PRTC Jahan Khelan highlighted activities of the centre and said that besides, basic course, training in weapons and tactics field craft and field engineering course, capsule course, re-orientation course for constables and head constables registered in C-2 etc. was being imparted in the centre.


Case registered in hair cut incident
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 29
Even though the Aircraft Maintenance Engineering College authorities here have denied that any incident of any Sikh boy’s hair being cut during a ragging incident in the college on August 19, the Civil Lines police today registered a case in the matter.

Sources said a case of kidnapping with the intention to kill and hurting the religious sentiments of a person was registered against Hamender Kumar and some others, who are students of second year of the college on the complaint of Harmanjit Singh, a first year student, who has accused them of ragging him and getting his hair cut.

Harmanjit, who is a resident of Chaunda village near Amargarh, had complained to the college authorities, along with his father, that Hamender Kumar had taken him to a barber sitting in front of the Government Rajindra Hospital and forcibly got his hair cut there.

The college Principal, Mr Amrik Singh, had said in a statement yesterday that he had got an internal inquiry conducted into the case and found that the boy had got his hair cut earlier and had blamed his seniors for the act to escape the wrath of his parents. The Principal had claimed that the boy could not locate the barber who had cut his hair since the last two days.

Mr Amrik Singh claimed that other boys said that the Sikh boy had got his hair cut before August 19. He had also questioned as to why the boy remained quiet about the incident for eight days and also alleged that some vested interests were trying to ignite religious passions in the college.



Ragging incident: SGPC seeks action
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
The SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, took serious note of the alleged forcible cutting of hair of a Sikh student of an engineering college of Patiala. Harmanjit Singh was allegedly forced to cut his hair during ragging by a senior student, Harinder Kumar.

He demanded that a case be registered against the accused for committing the sacrilegious act.


Corpses float in water channels
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, August 29
More than 24 unclaimed and unidentified bodies have been fished out from various canals and water bodies of the region in the current year and the reason behind the death of most of these could not be ascertained.

Reliable sources said during the current year, around 36 bodies had been recovered from various water bodies of the region of which 12 could be identified. Most of these bodies could not be identified and in certain cases, even the post-mortem examination failed to establish the cause behind the death.

The sources said mostly, the bodies recovered from the Bathinda canal, lakes in the city and the railway tracks were of those who had committed suicide, while the bodies recovered from the rivulets and other water bodies were generally beyond recognition.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the Sahara Jan Sewa, an NGO, said an unidentified body was found floating in a rivulet near the Raman Mandi bypass at the Bathinda-Talwandi Sabo main road, about 30 km from here. He said the volunteers called the police and took out the body, which could not be identified. It was cremated by the volunteers after a post-mortem examination. He said during the current year, they had cremated nearly 100 unclaimed bodies, around 24 of which had been recovered from various water bodies of the region.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said the record pertaining to the post-mortem examinations was maintained by the doctors concerned.

The district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, said the bodies of the local and nearby residents were identified and were handed over to the kin after a post-mortem examination. He said all legal formalities were completed in such cases and investigations into the cause of the death were made.


Malerkotla councillors allege police excesses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The happenings in the Malerkotla Municipal Committee meeting on August 26 found an echo here today when seven councillors narrated the sequence of events and ‘’indicted’’ Congress MLA Razia Sultan and her DIG husband (Ludhiana police range) M. Mustafa for creating an atmosphere of ‘’fear-psychosis’’ in the town there.

Prompted by the BJP state President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, and the General Secretary (Organisation), Mr Avinash Jaiswal, the councillors gave a graphic account of the alleged irregularities committed in the election of the committee president at the behest of the husband-wife team (Razia-Mustafa) through their ‘’henchmen’’, how the officiating president, Mr Krishan Kumar Jindal, was beaten up in public view and stripped naked by cops in plain clothes, how one Faqir Mohammad was elected president in place of Mr Jindal and how 13 councillors opposed to Razia were neither heard nor their point of view recorded in the minutes. All this, they alleged, took place in the presence and with the connivance of the district administration, as the SDM, Mr P. K. Sabharwal, was present.

Later, a BJP delegation, including the councillors, submitted a memorandum to the Governor highlighting the ‘’high-handedness’’ of the Congress in Malerkotla. The memorandum briefly narrates the incidents, including the ‘’murderous attack’’ on Mr Jindal and demands a CBI inquiry into the happenings, as they said ‘’we have no faith in the district administration’’. The memorandum is signed by Mr Rinwa, Mr Jaiswal, seven councillors, besides the president of the Sanatan Dharam Sabha, Mr Kamlesh Kumar Garg, and the President, SAD (Urban Unit), Mr Satnam Singh Sodhi.

Mr Rinwa, who took up the cudgels of the councillors, said a mini emergency (the kind in 1975) had been imposed in the state, where the police ruled supreme. The Chief Minister, he said, owed an explanation to the people on the ‘’police raj’’ and excesses being committed on ordinary citizens and elected representatives. ‘’What has happened in Malerkotla is not an isolated or sole incident. Similar incidents, where the police created fear and intimidated people, have earlier been reported from Patiala, Malout and Pathankot’’. He demanded action against those who had broken the law.

On the other hand, both Razia and her husband, Mustafa, denied all allegations when contacted by TNS. Razia said she had today apprised the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of the happenings. She said three days after an incident there was an attempt to politicise the issue. Replying to several questions and allegations by the councillors and BJP leaders against her, Razia said after the unfortunate incident in which Mr Jindal was beaten up, he had met her. She asked him who were the persons responsible so that action could be taken, but he feigned ignorance. She went on to say, ‘’It now seems there is a conspiracy to defame me’’. Razia also disclosed that a videofilm of the proceedings of the municipal committee meeting that took place on August 26 is available. It shows there was neither any rigging of the election of the new president nor any councillor’s signatures were forged, as alleged by the councillors.

A similar account was given to TNS by Mustafa on telephone. He listed several cases against Mr Jindal, who is admitted to a hospital in Ludhiana, and stressed that even arrest warrants were pending in the court of the SDM against Mr Jindal, who was allegedly known as the satta king. Giving more details, he said, ‘’My wife promised to clean the place and that has irritated those whose ‘shops’ have been closed. I do not interfere in her work’’, he added. He scoffed at all charges and said the councillors should first get their facts correct. He also alleged that there were corruption charges against Mr Jindal that he had demanded money for the recruitment of some firemen. This had come to the notice of Razia, who stalled that selection.

The councillors demanded that SAD-BJP leaders should jointly come forward to take up the matter and visit Malerkotla, where a reign of terror had been let loose by the MLA and her husband.


Langah’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 29
Mr A.S. Kathuria, special Judge, today extended the judicial remand of Mr Sucha Singh Langah, a former Punjab PWD Minister, till September 13 in a criminal and corruption case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau, SAS Nagar.

Mr Langah’s remand was extended after the expiry of his earlier judicial remand today.


Remand of Kohar’s PS extended
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 29
The Chief Judicial Magistrate Mr A.S. Grewal, today extended the judicial remand of Jarnail Singh, a Personal Secretary to a former Punjab Jail Minister and an Akali MLA Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, for a period of 14 days.

Mr Grewal instructed the police to produce Jarnail Singh in the court on September 12. He was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau for amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Meanwhile, the Vigilance Bureau is learnt to have collected documentary evidence against some close associates of the former minister.

Vigilance Bureau sources maintained that some of Mr Kohar’s associates were found involved in sale and purchase of “benami” properties.


Doctors boycott scribes for ‘biased’ news
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, August 29
Doctors of the town belonging to the Indian Medical Association (IMA) have socially boycotted two local scribes for publishing a news item about the death of a woman patient. The news item had stated that the patient had died due to the negligence of a doctor. The woman had been suffering from tuberculosis.

According to the doctors, the news item was biased and it was aimed at maligning the image of the doctor. The reporters, however, said the news was based on facts and there was no personal enmity in publishing the news.

One of the scribes, Baldev Singh Bham, alleged that the IMA had instructed its members not to give treatment to the members of his family.

He further alleged that the reporters were being threatened by the doctors who were using the boycott as a pressure tactic.

He said the office-bearers of various political and social organisations had condemned this decision of the IMA. He said local scribes would launch an agitation against this decision.

Dr Sukhwinder Singh, district President of the IMA, said the doctors had socially boycotted the scribes only to show their resentment. He assured the reporters that full care would be taken if the reporters concerned came for treatment to any of the members of the IMA.

Dr Sukhwinder said the news item was biased and did not give the version of the doctor. He said the woman had died of the disease and there was no fault of the doctor. Dr Sukhwinder further said the scribes had not been threatened.


CM greets people on Janmashtami eve
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has extended his greetings to people on the occasion of Janmashtami. On the eve of the auspicious occasion, in a message to people, Capt Amarinder Singh said Lord Krishna was an apostle of peace, love and human brotherhood. People should follow his teachings, he added.


Give me my dues, says man in briefs
Our Correspondent

Samana, August 29
Mr Vijay Kumar, a local contractor, held a dharna today on the premises of the Municipal Office here wearing only underwear.

He was awarded construction work by the Municipal Committee. Though he had started the construction work, no payment has been released to him so far.

He alleged that he had given gifts worth Rs 6,500 to municipal officers to get the payment released.

The dharna was lifted after 4 hours when the SDM came and assured him that the payment would be released soon.


PWD employees up in arms
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 29
Employees of the Public Works Department (Buildings and Roads) are up in arms against the state government’s decision to wind up 61 subdivisions and declare about 1,200 employees as surplus.

Mr Manjit Singh Kamboj and Mr Amarjit Singh Randhawa, Chairman and President of the PWD Mulajam Dal, said today that the government had issued a circular regarding the winding up of 61 subdivisions on August 23. The order had caused a lot of resentment among the employees concerned.

They said a meeting of the employees had been called on September 3 at the PWD complex in Mohali to plan an agitation against the government in this connection. There were about 10,000 employees in the department. With the implementation of these orders, about 1,200 employees had been left with no work.

The decision to wind up the subdivisions appears to have been taken as per the government’s policy to declare about 40,000 employees posted in government departments as surplus.


ADOs stage dharna against govt move
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 29
More than 150 Agriculture and Horticulture Development Officers of Moga Faridkot staged a dharna here yesterday in protest against the proposal of Punjab Government to terminate the services of those 147 ADOs and HDOs who were recruited by the PPSC under the chairmanship of Mr Ravinder Pal Sidhu in 2000.

Addressing the protesters, Dr Satnam Singh, convener of the Coordinating Committee of Professional Services Associations, Punjab, (CCPSAs), expressed concern over the attitude of the state government and appealed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to review the proposal keeping in view the academic careers of the officers.

He said as many as 26 officers had Ph.D degrees and the remaining had secured more than 70 per cent marks in M.Sc (Agriculture) against the B.Sc condition laid by the government. He further said the appointees were not only interviewed by the PPSC but also by technical experts.

Dr Satnam Singh said the division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ruled out the possibility of cancelling every selection without concrete evidence and had asked the state government to reconsider its decision in this connection.

Later the protesters submitted a memorandum to Dr Harkesh Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, addressed to the Chief Minister.


BKU (E) for uniformity in loan waiver
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
The State BKU (Ekta general secretary, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, in a statement issued here today said the Union and state government were setting up various commissions and committees to look into the problems of debt trapped industrialists but nothing was being done for farmers.

He alleged that loans of even big capitalists were waived by the government though they owed the government crores of rupees. On other hand, the loans amounting to a few thousands of the farmers were not being waived.

Even various unions of bank employees had been demanding that the names of those who had defaulted on loans payments should be made public.

He said five kisan organisations would hold a rally on September 2 at Ludhiana. in this regard. 


Action against spirit licensees ordered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 29
At least four licensee of spirit have been found violating the rules regardings the storage and selling of spirit by different teams of the Excise Department which conducted a comprehensive checking of their premises following the recent death of six persons due to consumption of spirit.

Officials sources said one of the licensees was selling spirit to the purchasers in a higher quantity than permitted by the Excise Department under the rules, while the other had stored the same on the premises which was not approved by the department.

In case of two other licensees, it was found that they could not trace the purchasers to whom they had sold off the spirit in the past as per their issue and stock registers.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), said he had recommended action against these licensees to the DETC as per rules. He added that their licences were likely to be cancelled. The licence of Joginder Singh, who was found to be involved in the hooch tragedy, has already been cancelled.

Mr Kundlas pointed out that Excise officials had been carrying out checking of all the 32 licensees on regular intervals and those found violating the rules faced action.

On August 24 and 25, six persons, mostly daily-wagers and rickshaw-pullers, died after consuming spirit allegedly supplied to them by a licensee, Joginder Singh, through his middleman Laddo. The police has registered a case in this connection and both accused have been arrested.


ETOs among 15 found absent
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, August 29
At least 15 employees of the offices of the District Food and Supply Control (DFSC) and the Excise and Taxation were found absent when the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Usha R. Sharma, along with Mr A.S. Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), conducted a surprise check here today. There are a total of 38 employees in both the offices.

The absentees included two Excise and Taxation Officers and two Inspectors. Ms Sharma has written to the heads of the departments concerned for taking disciplinary action against the absentees.

The Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here, said surprise checks would continue and anyone found absent or coming late to his or her office would not be spared.

She said she also conducted a surprise check at the local Civil Hospital and everything was found satisfactory there. She added that she also inquired about problems being faced by patients and their attendants. Instructions were given to the officials concerned to solve these, she added.


Mother booked for boy’s murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
A mother, her “paramour” and the maternal uncle were booked in the murder case of Harwinder Singh today. Harwinder was allegedly poisoned by his mother Harwant Kaur, her paramour Dharma Singh and his maternal uncle Talwinder Singh after he objected to his mother’s relations with Dharam Singh.


Brawl costs scrap dealer his life
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 29
In a bizarre incident, a scrap dealer was shot dead while three others were seriously injured in an attack by five persons in the Surnassi cantonment area, 1 km from Maqsoodan police station, on the Jalandhar-Amritsar road today.

This was the second murder in the past four days. Earlier, a Punjab police constable, Gurtek Singh, had been shot by five persons near Chugitti bypass on August 26.

The victim, Arminder Singh of the New Grain market, and his three friends were in the business of the sale and purchase of scrap. They had gone to the cantonment area to participate in an open auction of defence items, including motor vehicles. The incident took place when the victim entered into a brawl with Amarjit Singh Baboo, another scrap dealer, over some issue. Amarjit allegedly opened fire at Arminder Singh in the presence of military personnel, killing him on the spot.

Balbir Singh, father of Amarjit, started firing from his double-barrel gun, causing severe injuries to three persons. The injured, identified as Gurvinder Singh of Friends Colony, Kishan Lal of Ali Mohalla and Sanjiv Kumar of Ladowali road, have been admitted to hospital. Gurvinder Singh was later shifted to CMC, Ludhiana, in a serious condition.

Later, senior police officials reached the site and ordered red alert in the district. Nakas were laid at all entry points in the district to nab the accused, who were identified as Amarjit Singh, Balbir Singh and Dutu. 


Staffer defrauds post office of Rs 11 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 29
The postal authorities here have detected an “embezzlement” of Rs 11 lakh by a Sub-Postmaster at a branch in Nuhon Colony, near Ghanauli village, about 10 km from here. The Sub-Postmaster, Raj Kumar Gupta, absconded on August 19 when the fraud was detected.

Sources said the postal authorities had lodged a complaint with the police in this regard against the Sub-Postmaster. Initially, the postal authorities, in a complaint, had informed the police that Raj Kumar had embezzled Rs 2.15 lakh, but after further departmental inquiries it was found that the actual amount embezzled was Rs 11 lakh.

Mr M.S. Negi, Postmaster of the Head Post Office confirmed here today that the fraud was committed by Raj Kumar. He said Raj Kumar used to issue national savings certificates (NSCs) and Kisan Vikas Patras (KVPs) to people but he did not deposit the money received from them with the post office.

It is learnt that Raj Kumar mainly committed the fraud in October 2001 and May 2002.

Mr Negi said the fraud came to light when a team of the Department of Posts during a routine checking inspected the Nuhon Colony post office. Raj Kumar reportedly fled the scene on some pretext.

Meanwhile, an Assistant Superintendent of Post Offices, Ropar, Mr Ujjagar Singh, who detected the embezzlement was conducting an inquiry on a day-to-day basis, sources said. They said the money of the customers was safe as they had received the NSCs and the KVPs.


Car used in bank robbery found
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 29
A Tata Estate car used by dacoits for robbing a branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce at Bakapur Guru yesterday, was found abandoned at Lasara village, near Phillaur, last night.

This was stated by Mr Rohit Chaudhry, DIG, Jalandhar Police Range, while talking to mediapersons today. He said the car was without number plate and documents. However, it was yet to be ascertained whether it was a stolen vehicle.

Mr Chaudhry said a joint team of police of Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr and Kapurthala had been constituted which would function on the instructions of Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur. Mrs Deo said the night dominance scheme had been restarted in the district. Meanwhile, computer sketches of the dacoits had been prepared and circulated among people.


Punjab Monitor Editor held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
Editor of “Punjab Monitor” a quarterly magazine, was arrested today morning on the basis of an article titled “the realities of Hindu Gods and their embodiments” in published Punjabi.

Editor Kulwinder Kaur was arrested from her premises following written complaints to the police by All-India Hindu Shiv Sena president Surinder Kumar Billa. Family of the editor confirmed the arrest. A police team reportedly has been sent to Jalandhar to arrest the printer of the multilingual magazine. All accused have been booked under Section 295 of the IPC for causing communal disharmony.


Theft at medical college hostel
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 29
Even though all entry and exit points of Government Medical College have been closed and guards have been deployed, seven persons entered a girl’s hostel and decamped with cash, mobile phones and watches, among other things, at about 4 a.m.

Students said the thieves probably sprayed some substance due to which the girls did not wake up. Most of the rooms had been ransacked . However, one girl got up and raised the alarm following which the theives fled.

A doctor returning from night duty said he saw seven persons fleeing the premises.

The students sat in dharna today and submitted a memorandum to the Principal, seeking the deployment of armed guards and installation of spotlights. A six-member inquiry committee has been formed.


No takers for B. Pharma courses
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 29
Even after the second counselling only 50 per cent of the total seats have been filled in pharmacy colleges of the state. Institutes imparting instructions in pharmacy courses which have mushroomed across the state over the past few years not getting any government grant and may face threat to their existence. Sources told The Tribune that out of 440 seats of B. Pharma in 11 pharmacy colleges of the state only 268 were filled after the completion of second counselling on August 3.

The most affected colleges include Baba Ishar Singh College of Pharmacy, Kot Ise Khan in Zira, in which 28 out of 40 seats are vacant, Shivalik College of Pharmacy, Nangal where 28 of 50 seats, Indo-Soviet Pharmacy College, Moga has 21 out of 60 seats. Shaheed Bhagat Singh Pharmacy College, Patti has 27 out of 40 seats unfilled. None of colleges in the state has been able to fill all seats available with them.

Some of the office-bearers of the pharmacy colleges speaking on the condition of anonymity blamed the higher fee structure fixed by the Punjab Technical University (PTU) for fewer admissions in B. Pharma courses. The fee for a free seat in B. Pharma course in the state is Rs 40,000 per annum, while fee for a paid seat was Rs 80,000 per annum.

The fee for B. Pharma course in Punjab was very high as compared to that of other states. The high fee structure in the state has, in fact, had made the course almost beyond reach for the students coming from the middle class families. So, the students opting for B-Pharma course prefer to take admission in other states, they allege.

The sources also told that in view of the poor response of the students to the B. Pharma course the PTU has now allowed the colleges to fill vacant seats on their own. This has created a piquant situation for a few management committees. The students, admitted earlier, have competed in the entrance test and have high merit. However, now with the colleges being allowed to fill seats on their own, students with even low marks will get admission easily. The college managements fear that if this trend continues the students in future would not take the entrance test of pharma course seriously. This may also discourage talent coming to the college. The B. Pharma course was started in the state after the decision of the Pharmacy Council of India (PCI) to abolish the diploma course in pharmacy. The PCI through the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had earlier directed all colleges running diploma course in Pharmacy to upgrade their course of B. Pharma or face closure. However, keeping in view the poor response of the students to the B. Pharma course it seems that the AICTE may have to reconsider its decision on the diploma in pharmacy course to ensure the survival of pharmacy colleges.


DIET students oppose policy, hold dharnas
Tribune Reporters

Ferozepore, August 29
Students of the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET), who gathered here from Bathinda, Moga, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepore districts, staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in protest against the new education policy of the state government.

Hundreds of students raised slogans against the government and demanded the withdrawal of the policy.

State vice-president of the DIET Student Welfare Association, Dheeraj Kumar, said the government had violated the guidelines issued by the NCTE and the NCERT by increasing the period of internship to two years.

They also opposed the scrapping of vacancies in the Education Department.

JALANDHAR: Hundreds of DIET students on Thursday sat in dharna outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

The students said the new education policy made it compulsory to obtain 55 per cent marks in plus two for appointment as an ETT teacher.

The policy ruled that ETT teachers could only teach up to Class III while paragraph 34 of the policy admitted that the ETT teachers were being trained to teach students up to Class VIII.


DIET students stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 29
Students of DIET, Fatehgarh Sahib, held a march and staged a dharna in front of the local SDM’s office here yesterday. They were protesting against the new education policy and raised slogans against the government.

Addressing the dharna Mr Mandeep, president, DIET, criticised the new education policy and demanded its withdrawal. He said till the acceptance of their demands, they would continue to stage a dharna and the students appearing in the exams would join the dharna for one hour daily. 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.


Students of District Educational and Training Institute staged a dharna in front of the institute on Thursday in protest against the education policy of the state government. Leaders of the institute said the policy was against the interest of the students.


Pupil pays for school mistake
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 29
Poonam Khangwal’s academic career is at stake due to the fault of a school which bungled her matriculation result while issuing her a character certificate.

Poonam, who was declared failed in Class IX while she was studying at the local Central School, was shifted to a local private school for appearing in the matriculation examination of the Punjab School Education Board as private candidate.

However, the school authorities sent the examination fee of Poonam as regular candidate and a roll number was issued to her. Poonam appeared in the matriculation examination conducted by the board in March, 2001.

The board authorities, on finding that she was not eligible for appearing as a regular candidate since she had not cleared, the class IX exams cancelled her candidature. In the official gazette, her result was shown as late.

However, the private school authorities issued a character certificate to Poonam, declaring that she had passed her matriculation exams in the third division, on the basis of which she took admission in the plus one class at a local government school. She passed the same.

Poonam came in for a shock when the board authorities demanded the matriculation detail marks card when sending her an examination form for the plus two examination. It was found that she had not passed the exam.

Mr Prem Sagar, an Army personnel, father of Poonam said as the private school authorities had jeopardised the academic career of his daughter, he had lodged a complaint with the district education authorities for taking action against the guilty.

He said her daughter had to appear in the matriculation examination as private candidate again due to the fault of the school. She would lose three academic years.

Mrs Surinder Kataria, DEO (Secondary), when contacted, said she had written to the higher authorities and the board for taking appropriate action against the erring school.


5 students injured in group clash
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 29
Five students of the local Mohindra College were injured in a group clash outside the institution yesterday shortly after the Principal recognised one student group as representative of students of college.

According to sources, two members of the “victorious” group — Bhavanjot Singh and Prabhjot Singh — were attacked with sharp-edged weapons just outside the college by a group of 15 to 20 students who were sore at their recognition.

The sources said when the “victorious” group came to know of the attack on their leaders, its members rushed out of the college and attacked students of the other group injuring three persons.

These students have been identified as Mandep Singh, Ramandeep Singh and Gursewak Singh.

The injured students have been admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital.

The police has not registered a case so far. 


Drycleaners oppose service tax
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, August 29
Drycleaners of the city have urged the President not to pass the Bill regarding imposition of 5 per cent tax on their earnings.

In a letter to the President, Mr Tejinder Mehra, general secratary of the association of drycleaners said the imposition of tax was unjustified as they did not earn much.

He said a large number of the drycleaners belonged to the poor section of society and were illiterate. It was not possible for them to maintain a proper account of their earnings, he said, adding that they could not afford an accountant.

The drycleaners have also written a letter to the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, in this regard.

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