Sunday, September 1, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal expects arrest any moment
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The ongoing political as well as personal tussle between Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today became more bitter.

“I will not seek anticipatory bail at any stage. I am prepared to go to jail and face cases. I have spent years in worst kind of jails under various Congress regimes. I have been expecting my arrest much earlier. Why has it not been effected till date, I don’t know”, said Mr Badal, while replying in one go a number of questions asked about the possibility of his arrest by the Amarinder Singh Government that has booked Mr Badal’s former Officer on Special duty Mr Hardip Singh Bamra, in a corruption case.

Mr Badal said Capt Amarinder Singh had decided to “arrest” him even before the elections and had mentioned in the Congress manifesto to put me in a “cage”.

On the other hand, when asked whether the registration of a case against Mr Bamra was a precursor to the arrest of Mr Badal, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said: “let us see what happens, we are collecting proofs about the property and assets of Mr Badal”. Continuing he said “we will tell you everything at the appropriate time”. Mr Badal had only landed property of 83 acres in the beginning “and it appears worth even more than 3500 crore now”, he added. He did not rule out the possibility of registration of more cases against staff members who were posted in the former Chief Minster’s office.

Challenging Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal, who was in an aggressive and attacking mood, said: “I will quit politics for all times to come and submit for any punishment in case the Chief Minster provides proof of even one malra property abroad”. In fact, Mr Badal put a number of options before the Chief Minister to face any inquiry. “Set up an exclusive judicial commission to probe my assets alone, if the Government feels that the Commission will take too long to handle all inquiries against Akali Ministers”, said Mr Badal “present a bill in the Punjab Assembly to acquire the unaccounted assets of all Ministers since 1985. My party will extend unconditional support to such a bill to take the shape of law”, said Mr Badal giving his second option. A special commission should be appointed to probe the assets of such Ministers since 1985, he added.

“I did not believe in any vigilance probe. Vigilance does what Capt Amarinder Singh wants. Actually, there is police raj in the state. No one should expect any justice from the police or vigilance officers who are playing the Chief Minster’s game”, said Mr Badal.

“As Capt Amarinder Singh has failed to come out with any proof even after leveling charges of amassing property worth Rs 3500 crore against me for the past one year, I had to knock at the doors of the court to seek damages from him”, said Mr Badal.

Mr Badal said at present two legal systems had been enforced in the state by the ruling party. One was for the Akali leaders. That was registration of cases against them on flimsy grounds to humiliate, insult and harass them. Even a 16-year-old case of employment had been opened against a former Minister, Mr Tota Singh. On the other side, Congressmen might be involved in murder or any other crime and corruption, but no action had been taken against them. When asked why his party MLAs were not declaring their assets, Mr Badal said first the Congress, which made the promise in the manifestos should take the lead in this connection.

Earlier, this morning Mr Badal held a meeting of party MLAs and MPs to discuss the preparations to be made for holding demonstrations on September 11 at each district headquarters. He would hold a similar meeting with members of the SGPC on September 2. Mr Badal said that not a single promise of the 18 made by the Congress in its manifesto ha d been implemented. All sections of society, especially employees, traders, farmers etc had become fed up with the Congress rule in the state.


Badal to seek action against 4 ex-ministers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that he had engaged an advocate to pursue the special leave petition (SLP) filed against Punjab’s four former Congress ministers in the Supreme Court to seek action against them as they had been indicted by the Lokpal. Mr Badal had filed one case in his private capacity.

Mr Badal said he would not withdraw the SLP. “I have engaged a top legal expert to follow the case”, he added. Mr Badal alleged that the present government was trying to withdraw the petition which were filed against the ministers by the state government when the SAD-BJP government was in power.

He has also sought action against Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister. If a 16-year-old case of recruitment could be opened against a former minister, Mr Tota Singh, then why a six-year-old case pertaining to the recruitment scandal of Naib Tehsildars could not be taken up by the government against Mr Sinha, asked Mr Badal.

He said he was determined to hold a rally tomorrow at Malerkotla in support of a Municipal Councillor, Mr Kewal Kirshan Jindal, who was allegedly beaten mercilessly in the presence of the local police and officers a few days ago. Mr Badal said Mr Jindal was brutalised allegedly at the instance of a DIG posted at Ludhiana. He further said there was threat to the life of Mr Jindal.


Kitu gets bail

Moga, August 31
Judicial Magistrate Tarsem Mangla today granted bail to SAD MLA from Barnala, Malkiat Singh Kitu, who was arrested by the Nihalsinghwala police in the district on August 16 following recovery of illicit liquor.

After hearing the arguments of both prosecution and the defence counsel, the magistrate ordered that Kitu be released after furnishing a surety of Rs 50,000. UNI


SYL impasse pulsates socio-political tensions
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
Since January 15, 2002, more words have been spoken/written than water would have flowed in the controversial Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal if completed. On that day, the Supreme Court had directed the Punjab Government to complete the construction of the canal within one year.

Punjab was then in the thick of the Assembly elections. The judgment added yet another dimension to the campaign of the Akalis and the Congress. Each took up the issue, either to keep its head above water or to pour cold water on the other.

Given the time-frame constraint, the government filed a review petition on February 7, 2002. The same was, however, dismissed. It was decided to file a fresh writ petition and challenge Section 78 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, and the agreements/decisions based, thereon, as also Section 14 of the Inter-state Water Disputes Act, 1956.

Besides, the then Advocate-General, Mr H.S. Mattewal, also advised that the Award of the Ravi-Beas Water Tribunal should also be challenged so that the river water issue was ultimately determined on the basis of riparian principles. The government had endorsed his opinion and for necessary action relevant papers were forwarded to the Advocate on Record, New Delhi. It is pertinent to mention here that this very legal opinion was given by Mr Mattewal on October 18, 2001, when the case was sent to him for opinion and still pending in the Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, the government changed in February 2002. It is seven months since the Supreme Court order and the deadline to implement its directive is not far. Punjab is yet to give a final shape to the writ it proposes to file. The Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, says consultations are being held with senior lawyers and experts. A fresh writ petition is likely to be filed in about a month. Before the SYL canal is constructed/ completed, several other issues, legal and technical, will also have to be determined, including the necessity and quantum of water of a state, he added.

The latest to join the SYL chorus is the Sikh Core Group, which has constituted a 10-member Punjab River Waters Defence Council with Dr G.S. Kalkat as convener. The group has given a brief to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, as to reinforce the government efforts to defend the rights of Punjab over its rivers.

The salient features of the brief are interesting. The universally accepted riparian principle is that water of a river belongs exclusively to its riparian state(s). Disputes can arise on distribution/sharing between and among riparian states. Neither Haryana nor Rajasthan are riparian states.

If that were so, how come Punjab was not made a party to Yamuna water when a 30-year agreement was signed among Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi and Rajasthan Governments for allocation of their respective share on May 12, 1994? Obviously, Punjab was not considered a riparian state. Why a different principle on sharing water of the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej?

All along, Punjab has maintained a consistent stand. As per the Constitution and relevant law, Punjab has complete powers over water of the three rivers. It can not be deprived of its right to enjoy natural, constitutional and legal endowments. Of the three dispensations only the December 31, 1981, transaction has been termed as an ‘’agreement’’. The three dispensations are: (1) March 24, 1976 (when a Notification was issued under some provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966); (2) December 31, 1981 (when Indira Gandhi forced Darbara Singh to withdraw the case from the Supreme Court, filed by the Akalis in 1979, and signed an agreement); and (3) July 24, 1985 (when Rajiv-Longowal the Punjab Accord was signed). Interestingly, the Punjab Accord as officially dubbed by the Akalis in the Supreme Court as “political’’, hence unacceptable to the government.

The December 31, 1981, ‘’agreement’’ was ab initio void and subsequently superceded by the Punjab Accord. The Punjab Assembly repudiated that ‘’agreement’’ on November 5, 1985.

The Sikh Core Group has also argued that “objections’’ filed by the state against the Eradi Tribunal interim award of January 30, 1987, are still awaiting a decision. No award was ever notified by New Delhi and consequently there is no award to be enforced.

The brief that the Core Group gave to the Chief Minister concludes with a warning that if Punjab parts with its water, the state’s economy will suffer irreparable loss — land will turn into a desert, result in the closure of Bist Doab canal, reduce irrigated area under Sirhind canal to one half, stop flow of water into the Sutlej from Ropar and accelerate fall of water table and render lakhs of tubewells redundant.


Farmers not to be charged for power: Amarinder
Tribune News Service

Shaheed Beant Singh Nagar
(Ludhiana), August 31
Ruling out the possibility charging the agriculture sector for electricity Punjab, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh said today that most of the farmers in the state were not in a position to pay electricity bills as their economic position was too precarious to afford payments. The Chief Minister also announced the review of all old-age pension cases in the state following reports of misappropriation and ineligible people getting this benefit.

Talking to reporters before addressing a rally held to observe the seventh death anniversary of former Chief Minister, Beant Singh, Capt Amarinder Singh set at rest all speculations on the possibility of charging the agriculture sector at this stage. However, he admitted that the government was aware of the massive losses suffered by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). “But we are trying to explore avenues to make up the losses. It will not be at the cost of farmers”, he assured.

When asked how could the government ignore the recommendations of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, which has favoured charging farmers, Capt Amarinder said it was for the government to decide. The recommendations of the commission were mandatory for the government. The Chief Minister said, the decision in this regard would be taken by the Cabinet only. However, he hastened to add, even if the government had to charge from farmers, it would provide proportional subsidy to them for the same.

The Chief Minister said, he had ordered review of all old-age pension cases in the state as there were reports of misappropriation. He pointed out, in some cases young persons and also those belonging to well-to-do families were getting old-age pension. “It will be thoroughly investigated and only genuine persons would be allowed the benefit”, he asserted.

On the issue of the Sutlej Yamuna Link canal, Capt Amarinder said, the government would file fresh case in the Supreme Court of India and employ the best lawyers available in the country to plead the state case. “We will submit to the court to decide whether Punjab really needs to give any water to Haryana or not because Haryana already gets more water than Punjab total gets although it has less land”, he explained. He criticised his predecessor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for not presenting the case of the state properly and effectively.

The Chief Minister clarified that although the state was not drought-hit from the existing standards of the central government, but it suffered phenomenal losses on account of drought-like conditions.


1,000 Indians languish in Pak jails
Indian Govt apathetic to relatives’ plea
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 31
At least 1,000 Indians continue to languish in prisons despite the Pakistani Government’s decision to release most of them, thanks to the apathy of the Indian Government.

It was on July 17 this year that the Pakistani Government decided to release 450 persons among 236 Indian fishermen lodged in their prisons on humanitarian grounds. However, the fate of at least 90 Indians still remains undecided.

According to the Pakistani Government they were arrested on charges of spying and therefore, could not be let off.

The Pakistani Government has conveyed its decision to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad and asked it to facilitate the return of innocent Indians languishing in their jails. Most of Indians lodged in Pakistani jails are from Punjab, New Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and fishermen from Vanakbara in Diu and Una in Gujarat, with a few belonging to other places.

According to intelligence sources, the coordinator of the Vulnerable Prisoners Project of the Human Right Commission of Pakistan, Brigadier Rao Abid Hamid, has conveyed this to advocate M.K. Paul, who has been pleading for the release of the Indian prisoners of war or their held on charges of spying and fishermen from Pakistani jails.

The Intelligence Bureau on many occasions had compiled a report regarding the character of the prisoners and submitted the same to the Ministry of Home Affairs so that the matter could be discussed with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for the release of the detained Indians. But no more has been initiated with the Government of Pakistan for their release.

Sources said more than 90 per cent of the Indians detained in Pakistan do not have any criminal background. At least 300 Indians have crossed the international border unknowingly. They were either forced by the security forces of Iran or the previous Taliban regime of Afghanistan to cross over to Pakistan after being detained on charges of illegal or fake passport. More than 500 are fishermen belonging to Gujarat. A little over 150 are prisoners of wars. And the rest are either terrorists or spies as claimed by the Pakistan.

Balwinder Singh, a resident of Malliana village, 20 km from Moga, told TNS that his brother Karam Singh (30) was arrested by Pakistani Rangers on July 23, last year along with three of his other friends on charges of illegally entering into Pakistan from the international border with Iran. The security forces of Turkey handed them to the Irani forces when they tried to sneak into Greece looking for job opportunities.

The Government of Pakistan has asked the Indian authorities in Islamabad to facilitate the return of those who were detained on charges of illegal entry but with clouds of war hovering over the Indian-sub continent, their return has not yet been finalised. Balwinder Singh further said officials of the intelligence agencies had visited their residence over four times to compile a report of Karam Singh’s character. Despite being the fact that no criminal case had ever been registered against his brother, his release has not been cleared by the Union Government.

Meanwhile, Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, President of the International Bhai Mardana Memorial Society has approached Bhai Sham Singh, Chairman of the Pakistan Gurdwara Committee, to secure the release of the Punjabi’s detained in Pakistani jails. Bhai Sham Singh personally met General Pervez Musharraf in this regard and managed to secure the orders release of at least 32 Punjabi’s lodged in Match jail of Baluchistan and Kot Lakhpat jail of Lahore. But despite their formal release order being issued by the Government of Pakistan their return is possible only if Indian Government agrees to bring them back.


Coordinated defence intelligence agency mooted
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, August 31
The Ministry of Defence is again seriously considering to strengthen the military intelligence by co-opting staff from IB, RAW, and the armed forces to set up a new agency that might also be put in charge of “information warfare” as well as electronic, air and marine surveillance at a time when the military standoff between India and Pakistan still continues.

Intelligence sources reveal that the policy makers of the nation’s defence strategy feel that there is no proper coordination among various intelligence agencies working independently. There are flaws in the national security management under the present system of collection, reporting, collating and assessing intelligence.

Many intelligence agencies — military intelligence (two wings), intelligence Bureau (IB), BSF intelligence, Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and Counter-Intelligence (State agency) — are working on cross-border operations. But there is no proper system of coordination among them. Often, these agencies compile different information on one particular issue. This poses an situation to defence policy makers.

The Indian Generals, in particular, want to establish a new agency with a limited remit: to monitor activity along the Pakistani and Chinese borders, which are restive after the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan. They feel that Chinese incursions across the disputed “line of control” into Indian territory have increased significantly in the northern Ladakh region over the past few years, specially during the Kargil war.

RAW and the Military Intelligence are the principal providers of intelligence to the armed forces apart from Counter-Intelligence of States and BSF or the ITBP, drawing up projections for six-month periods with a 30-day warning of imminent hostilities. But the armed forces now want a weekly forecast of the Pakistan side with daily updates.

The IB has little role to play on the information being collected from Pakistan through spies but still it sometimes compiles reports to show their presence. The basic drawback is that all these agencies hunt to collect reports from their sources that often befool them by giving different angles of the same issue to all of them. This puts the men in Delhi in an embarrassing situation.

The three armed services also have their own intelligence wings but lack resources, equipment and expertise in information gathering. The largest and consequently the most powerful is the Army’s Directorate-General of Military Intelligence (DGMI), headed by a Lieutenant-General. An Air Vice-Marshal heads the Air Force Intelligence while a Commodore heads the naval intelligence.

The principle reasons for the DGMI’s poor performance is that the Army headquarters uses it more as a propaganda wing.

Military officers are sceptical about whether the civilian agencies, particularly the RAW and IB, will allow a new coordinated defence intelligence agency to be set up, given the inter-service rivalries. In the early 1990s, RAW had torpedoed a proposal by the DGMI that it be given charge of tactical intelligence gathering 50 km beyond its borders. And in India’s foreign policy towards Sri Lanka and Burma also, differences of opinion exist among these intelligence agencies.

Senior army officers said RAW was unable to assess the relevance of Pakistan acquiring large quantities of high-altitude equipment, including boots, tents and snow scooters from European suppliers, a few months before infiltrating Kargil.


Canal wall cracks a threat to IAF station
Jupinderjit Singh

Tribune News Service

Halwara (Ludhiana), August 31
The authorities of the Air Force station here are worried over the widening cracks in the walls of the Abohar feeder canal near the IAF station. The cracks emerging in an area of at least 60 feet are threatening to develop into a breach that could inundate nearly low-lying residential areas and key installations.

The authorities have been waiting for Irrigation Department official to repair the cracks for the past almost a week. Workers of the department, who carry out a regular surveillance of the canal have been camping near the sensitive spot since last morning, but no repair work has started.

Sources in the department, however, claimed that some repair has been done and the canal walls were safe. Air Force sources said the repair could only be termed as patchwork.

At least three breaches, including a serious one near Ahmedgarh have occurred in the canal in the past few weeks. With the water level in the canal being high because of rains in the hills and the downpour that lashed the region today, the weak banks of the canal are always under a threat.

Group Captain S.K. Midha, Chief Administrative Officer at the Air Force Station, confirmed to The Tribune that he has written letters to the Irrigation Department for immediate repair work on the banks and to strengthen them.

Mr Midha said close to the boundary wall of the station, wide cracks have cut into the banks. “It is very close to us. The fencing is next to the weak banks. Any breach would immediately flood the residential areas,” he said.


A hi-tech hospital for the poor
Pratibha Chauhan
Tribune News Service

“It was after making rounds of a number of government hospitals as well as the PGI, where I was given a date for the operation after three months, that I was guided to Sohana Eye Hospital, where within a week my eye surgery was performed and that too free of cost,” remarked Ajmer Kaur, from the Ropar area.

There are many more like Ajmer Kaur, who make a beeline to the hospital, as not only is treatment given free to poor patients but counselling has been made an integral part of healthcare, so that those coming to this hospital understand their problem better. There are patients from as far as Bihar, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh and, of course, the whole of northern region, who turn up in large numbers at the OPD.

Inaugurated in April 1995, Shri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Charitable Eye Hospital and Trust, has today become synonymous with the poor and needy, who can avail of the latest medical facilities, especially eyecare, free or at nominal charges, “With my meagre income, I couldn’t have dreamt of getting my retina surgery done, that too with the latest technology, had it not been for the Sohana Hospital, who did it free of cost,” is how Teja Singh, sums up his experience at the charitable hospital.

Equipped with the latest machinery like fundus flourescine angiography, visual field analyser and slit lamp ophthalmic chair along with a team of specialists, the Eye OPD at the hospital is overflowing with people every morning. A majority of those who come here are from remote and far off places, where medical facilities are scarce and it is next to impossible for them to go to private hospitals.

The Sohana Hospital, known far and wide for its eye speciality, has now started gynaecology and dental departments. “Be it any of our departments, we have stressed the need for counselling, as it is essential for the patient to understand his medical problem and how to tackle it,” stated Mr Adarsh Suri, Manager of Finance and Administration.

Medical treatment comes much later, but the manner in which the doctors, nurses and staff attend to them, the patients feel reassured and comforted. Even those who cannot pay for their treatment are operated within a week’s time, as they are provided free medicine.

Interestingly, even those who can afford medical facility at the best hospitals, prefer Sohana, as they feel that the patient gets the best care and treatment, at a nominal rate. “With a lot of pressure on us from the public to start general surgery and urology departments, we will start these faculties by mid-September,” revealed Mr Suri.

He said expansion of the eye hospital was under way, while the long term plans included setting up of a 500-bed hospital and medical college. Apart from holding free camps in the rural areas, we will shortly start running our mobile OT van, which will help in solving the minor problems people face in the villages but are unable to come for treatment to our hospital, here, he added.

The Sohana Eye Hospital, has come a long way since it was set up as during the last one year over 85,000 people visited the Eye OPD at Sohana, while 3,862 surgeries were performed, a large chunk of it free for the poor patients.


Dal Khalsa tells Sikhs to shun deras
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 31
A convention organised by the Dal Khalsa today urged the Sikhs to crush the designs of all such sects and cults which had recently mushroomed and were propagating the concept of “living gurus” as it was against the Sikh faith and tenets.

Labelling Radhasoamis, Namdharis, Sacha Sauda, Nirankaris and the likes of Ashutosh as violators of the Sikh code of conduct who were showing disrespect to the basic teachings and philosophy of the Sikh Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib, the Dal Khalsa called upon them to beware of all such organisations.

The convention reiterated its resolve to resist all such moves that may create confusion about the concept of shabad-guru under any garb by such cults.

The 24th annual Dal Khalsa conference which was presided over by the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, was attended by representatives of the SGPC, Shiromani Akali Dal and Akhand Kirtani Jatha.

The Dal Khalsa sought a ban on the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS) and demanded that the links of its head Ashutosh with Anand Margis be probed.

A spokesman of the Dal Khalsa, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, while briefing newsmen after the convention said it was awaiting the report of the probe by the Punjab Government into the alleged “blasphemous” acts of Ashutosh.

Another resolution passed by the Dal Khalsa asked the SGPC to constitute a committee to set a procedure for the qualification, appointment and removal of Jathedars of Akal Takht and other takhts as per the Sikh traditions. The resolution also demanded that all jathedars should disclose their assets before the Sikh masses at the time of their appointment.

Various speakers at the convention were dismayed over the erosion of the status of jathedars during the past few years. Questioning the report of the inquiry committee, which was instituted to probe into charges of corruption against the Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Prof Manjit Singh, had yet to be submitted.

Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti admitted that the Sikh religion was not being preached properly as the dharm parcharks of the SGPC were not reaching out to people thus, creating a religious void. Because of this failure, innocent Sikhs, out of frustration, were being attracted to the deras which had mushroomed over the years, he said.

On the seventh death anniversary of former Chief Minister Beant Singh today, the Dal Khalsa convention paid homage and offered ardas to the human bomb Dilawar Singh who had assassinated the Chief Minister.

On other hand, the state government had today organised a special function to mark the day at Payal in Ludhiana.


Leaders pay tributes to Beant Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
A sarav dharma prarthana sabha was held today at the samadhi of late Beant Singh, Chief Minster of Punjab, on his seventh death anniversary.

Several senior leaders of the Congress high command including Mr Moti Lal Vora, and Ms Mohsina Kidwai, and state leaders such as Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr H.S. Hanspal, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mrs Jaswant Kaur, widow of Beant Singh, her son Tej Parkash Singh, Mr Gurkanwal Kaur and other family members paid homage with flowers to the departed leader.

Several Congress ministers including Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Dr Harbans Lal, and Dr Romesh Dutt Sharma, and leaders Mrs Santosh Chowdhary, Mr Pawan Bansal, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, Mr Hans Raj Sharma, Dr Malti Thapar, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Chowdhary Gurmail Singh, Mr Sat Pal Jain, and Mr Varinder Kataria also paid tributes to Beant Singh.

Talking to newspersons briefly, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state government would arrange funds for the memorial of Beant Singh soon. He went around the memorial which is under construction.

Senior officers of the union territory of Chandigarh, including the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, also participated in the ceremony.


ASI tortures Dal (A) jathedar, suspended
Tribune News Service

Joga (Mansa), August 31
Mr Paramjit Singh, Assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI), posted in police station here, was suspended by District police chief S.S. Srivastava following the police station was gheraoed by activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) after its circle Jathedar, Bhole Singh was tortured in it today.

Mr Bhola Singh, who suffered internal injuries and had four contusions on his back, was admitted in Mansa Civil Hospital.

Civil Hospital sources said that Mr Bhola Singh was conscious and responding to treatment. He had been kept under observation. Possibility of a fracture could not be ruled out till receipt of X-ray examination reports .

Mr Srivastava said that Paramjit Singh was suspended after he was found guilty of committing atrocities on Mr Bhola Singh in the preliminary inquiry by DSP, Mukhtiar Singh. He added that other police personnel, involved into this case, had been sent to the Police Lines.

Further action against the guilty including the registration of criminal case, would be taken after the inquiry report of the DSP was received, he added.

However, Mr Gursewak Singh, President, SAD (Amritsar), Mansa district, said that if police authorities failed to take legal action against the guilty police personnel, they would launch an agitation. He added that a meeting of party activists had been called in the Joga Gurdwara tomorrow.

Sources said that the police received a complaint against a son of Mr Bhola Singh few days ago. A police party led by ASI Paramjit Singh went to his house in Rad village in same connection on Thursday. The son of Mr Bhola Singh was not there.

Today again a police party led by ASI Paramjit Singh went to the house of Mr Bhola Singh. His son was also not there today even ASI Paramjit Singh and others committed atrocities on Bhola Singh.

Sources said medical examination of Mr Bhola Singh was being done in the civil hospital, Mansa. He disclosed that he was beaten up mercilessly with lathis. He was dragged by the ASI holding his hair.


2 ministers to visit drought-hit areas
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 31
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today deputed Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister of State for Public Health and Rural Development, to visit drought-affected areas in the Malwa belt to assess the damage caused to the crops. This was done to prepare a case for presentation before the Centre to seek compensation for the drought-affected farmers, according to an official press note.

The ministers have been told to visit Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar areas on September 1, 2 and 3. They have been asked to meet farm hands who are facing a grave crisis.

Interestingly, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who is Cabinet Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development, has not been included in the team. It may be mentioned that earlier in the absence of Capt Amarinder Singh, who had gone abroad earlier this month, Mrs Bhattal visited almost the entire drought-hit belt and held a number of meetings of the committee set up to monitor the situation on a day-to-day basis. The special girdwari order to assess the damage has been completed. The Revenue Department is expected to submit the report regarding “girdwari” on Monday.

Mysterious disease hits cattle
Our Correspondent

Khanna, August 31
Several head of cattle have died of a mysterious disease in the Samrala area. Many such cases have been reported recently from various villages of the area. Three head of cattle of Bachitar Singh, a resident of Rajewal village, near Samrala, died yesterday of the disease. Two such cases were reported last week from Kulewal village near Samrala, and Bhatian village, near Machhiwara. Harminder Singh of Rajewal village told this reporter that when the buffaloes of Bachitar Singh were afflicted with the disease, a doctor advised the farmer not to give green fooder to the cattle as it could be harmful. Even though the precaution was taken the buffaloes could not be saved.

Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, general secretary of the Bhartiya Kisan Union, has demanded compensation for the affected farmers and has urged the state government to take necessary action to check the spread of the disease.

Monsoon failure hits 2,815 acres in Kapurthala
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 31
Some 2815 acres have been reported to be affected due to the failure of monsoon following a special girdawari conducted from August 10 to 25 in the district.

This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma. He said maximum damage to 980 acres had been reported from Sultanpur Lodhi while damage to 856, 853 and 126 acres had been reported from Kapurthala, Phagwara and Bhollath tehsils, respectively.

The total cultivated area in the district is 2,159,46 acres with the maximum cultivated area of 96,940 acres in Kapurthala tehsil and 71,885, 23,203 and 21,218 acres in Sultanpur Lodhi, Phagwara and Bhollath tehsils, respectively.

Mr Verma added that 2,306 tubewells went dry in the district, including 1351 in Phagwara and 758 in Kapurthala. As many as 1,343 new tubewells had been bored, he added.


NDPS cases: concern over low conviction rate
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 31
Concerned about the low rate of conviction in criminal cases registered under the NDPS Act, the Narcotics Control Bureau, Chandigarh, has started acquainting police officials with the provisions of the Act and their enforcement to secure punishment for the guilty. The bureau has started holding seminars in each district of Punjab in this regard.

Mr Rakesh Goyal, Zonal Director, Narcotics Control Bureau, talking to TNS said at present the conviction rate for NDPS cases was around 12 per cent only. He said about 2,500 such cases were pending trial in different courts of Punjab.

He pointed out that one of the main factors for the low conviction rate was the difficulty in the enforcement of Sections 42 and 50 of the pre-amended NDPS Act. Mr Goyal said another factor which favoured the accused in most of the cases was the evidence given by independent witness in court. As independent witnesses were prone to temptations offered by the accused they usually favoured the latter he said.

Mr Goyal said now the Act had been amended and the procedure incorporated in Sections 42 and 50 had been simplified. The recovery of narcotics has also been categorised, with different degrees of punishment according to the quantity seized he added.

Mr Goyal, claiming that no smuggling of narcotics took place along the Indo-Pakistan international border in Punjab, said there was no mechanism to check the smuggling into Punjab from other state. However, the Narcotics Control Bureau has been trying to check it with the cooperation of the local police, the customs authorities and paramilitary forces, he added.


Ground water wilts crops
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 31
An alarming situation has arisen in this region, with about 85 per cent of ground water samples, brought in for testing at local laboratories, showing the heavy presence of effluent.

Sources in the Department of Agriculture, which conducts these tests, reveal that of the approximate 1,700 samples brought in by local farmers for testing so far, only about 16 per cent were found fit for agricultural and domestic purposes.

This year has seen an unprecedented increase in the number of farmers bringing in ground water samples for testing. Department officials attribute this to the severe drought conditions, which forced many farmers to use ground water to irrigate their fields as the water levels in the canal distributaries was low.

Ground water in large pockets in this area is unfit for agricultural use, while the falling water table has further compounded problems. According to departmental reports, several thousand tubewells in this region have gone dry, while the ground water level has dropped by 3 to 4 feet, leading to lower discharge by tubewells.

There are around 42551 tubewells in this district. Since the quality of water pumped by many of the tubewells was unfit, this had an adverse affect on the growth and subsequent yield of paddy crop, leading many farmers to get the water from their tubewells tested by laboratories. Poor water quality affected roots, besides making them prone to diseases.

Experts say that the quality of water is graded into four categories. While Grade-1 is considered to be fit for all conditions, Grade-4 is totally unfit for any purpose on account of high carbonates and electrical conductivity. Over 50 per cent of the aforesaid water samples brought in for testing have been graded in this category.

While about 25 per cent of the samples have been categorised as Grade-2, about 10 per cent have been categorised as Grade-3. The water falling in Grade-2 is considered to be “saline” and agricultural experts recommend that water falling in this category be mixed with canal water before being used for irrigation. Grade-3 water is considered to be “sodic”, in which gypsum should be mixed to counter the effects of effluents present in it.

Lack of rains in this part of the region has resulted in the ground water not being charged. Experts say that rain water, after seeping into the ground, counteracts the effects of poor ground water to some extent.

While water samples originating from Bathinda, Talwandi Sabo and Maur blocks have generally been categorised into Grade-3 or Grade-4, samples from Rampura Phul block have generally tested as fit.


Rain brings cheer to residents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 31
A sharp downpour this afternoon brought cheer to local residents here, who had been reeling under sweltering heat for the past few days. The much-awaited showers, began at about 3 p.m. and continued for about half an hour.

The rain was preceded by a severe duststorm, which caught many people unawares. Though it was sunny since morning, rain clouds formed up later, bringing showers of relief.

Although the rain did not last long, it was heavy enough to flood lowying areas and disrupt normal life in some parts of the city. It continued to remain cloudy after the rain stopped, thereby keeping the city environs cool through the afternoon.

Though many commuters out in the open hurried to seek shelter and street hawkers did their best to protect their wares, children were seen joyously playing in the rain.

Barring light drizzle in parts of the city on a couple of occasions, this is the second time that showers have hit the city this season. Although rain clouds had often been spotted over the city several times, these blew away without relenting.

The rain, however, has also given rise to fear among farmers that increase in moisture would result in greater pest attacks on crops. Already there have been reports of pests, including bollworm attacking the cotton crop in this belt, though the attack has not been severe to cause panic yet.

MOGA: Low-lying areas of the city on Saturday afternoon were flooded following heavy rain which lashed the region preceded by a violent storm.

This was the second rain during the past three months. The sub-jail police station situated on the GT road was flooded.

While the rain brought relief to the people, nearly 1,000 bags of paddy and other foodgrains in the market were damaged.


Mann writes to Advani on Sikhs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 31
The president of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today sought redefining of Sikhs under Article 25 of the Constitution which requires an amendment to the Constitution.

Mr Mann, in a letter to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, which was released to mediapersons here today, demanded that Sikhs had a separate religion and identity, and should not be clubbed with the Hindu religion.

Criticising the SGPC for not doing enough to preach Sikhism, he said the vast resources of the SGPC were not being utilised properly, and were spent to benefit SAD leaders.

He questioned the wisdom of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who has offered to extend all kind of help to policemen “involved in excesses” during militancy in the state. He urged Mr Advani to adopt a strict policy to curb the activities of cults, propagating against the fundamentals of Sikhism.


Triplets born in Ropar hospital
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 31
Mrs Baljit Kaur, wife of Mr Daljit Singh of Sukhrampur Taprian village, near here, this morning gave birth to triplets (two boys and a girl) in the Civil Hospital, here.

Interestingly, her ultrasound scan report of July 2, 2002, says “Twin fetii corresponding to 27.2 weeks period of gestation with same placenta”. Her ultrasound scan was done at a local private ultrasound centre.

Dr Satinder Kaur, doctor on duty in the gynaecology ward, said Mrs Baljit Kaur had given birth to triplets at 7.25 am, 7.30 am, 7.35 am. All three infants were normal. Their weight was 1.75 kg, 1.6 kg and 1.5 kg, she added.

She also stated that the ultrasound scan report of Baljit Kaur showed that she would deliver twins.

Mrs Baljit Kaur, aged about 26, has a five-year-old daughter.


Recruitment camp tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 31
A recruitment camp for the benefit of the unemployed youths of the state for induction into the armed and paramilitary forces will be organised at the Polo Ground here on September 2. The Centre for Training and Employment of Youth will organise the camp which is slated to be inaugurated by Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, this was disclosed here by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh. He also said that the centre would provide prior training to the candidates in various technical fields following which the recruits will be inducted into armed and paramilitary forces.

To be eligible candidate one should be between 16 and 20 years of age, with a height of 170 cm, chest measuring 77 to 82 cm and having obtained a minimum of 45 per cent in matriculation. The selected candidates will be given a stipend of Rs 400 per month, besides food and lodging.


In praise of yankees
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 31
Americans adopt children from Lanka, India, South Africa even though they have their own children. They did so to provide good upbringing to children from these countries.

They are early risers, compulsive morning walkers, health conscious, punctual. They start their day at 7 and return homes in time to have happy evening with their families. They value humans. Honesty and hard work, which were wanting in Indians, are in their blood. These observations were made by Miss Preeti Sahota, a lecturer from Jalandhar at a function held here yesterday to honour her at the local Rotary Club, South East.

She had made a Rotary District 3070- sponsored visit to the USA. She was honoured by Mr G.S. Batra, President, Rotary Club, South East, and Mr S.P. Sethi, Managing Director, Fine Switch.


Probe fire incident: SGPC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 31
The SGPC president, Mr Kirpal Singh Badunger, today sought a high-level probe into the incident of fire at the branch office of the controversial Divya Jyoti Jagaran Sansthan on the Sultanwind road here recently.

The SGPC chief condemned the police harassment of innocent Sikh youths and alleged that the fire incident was being used to disturb the peace in the state.


Proclaimed offender held
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 31
The Anandpur Sahib police has arrested a proclaimed offender, Chhote Lal, of Badaun district in Uttar Pradesh. He had been selling vegetables on a rehri in Anandpur Sahib for the past one year and was residing there along with his family.

Giving this information in a press note here today, Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Ropar, said Chhote Lal had been declared a proclaimed offender in a case relating to the looting of Rs 3.60 lakh from a petrol station. The UP police had registered the case against him under Section 394 and 411 of the IPC at the Ujjani police station (Badaun district) in 2000.

These SSP said the Mullanpur police had succeeded in recovering a stolen tractor-trailer from Uttar Pradesh. This tractor had been stolen from the Kharar area by Mohinder Bhaia of Muzzaffarnagar district in UP. The Kharar police had registered a case on July 12 last under Sections 406, 379 and 411 of the IPC in this regard.

The SSP said the Chamkaur Sahib police had arrested Rajinder Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib district and recovered a stolen scooter.


Bid to defraud bank of 5 lakh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 31
An attempt was made to encash a stolen cheque for Rs 5 lakh with forged signatures from the Bank of Punjab, Court Road branch.

An alert officer of the branch got suspicious of two persons who had come to the branch to draw Rs 5 lakh from the account of Messrs Kay Vee Textiles Pvt Ltd. He immediately contacted the Director of the company, Mr Jugal Kishore, to verify the cheque.

Mr Kishore told the officer that he had not issued any such cheque. Later, it was found that the cheque did not belong to the company but was stolen from the branch.

It was found that the cheque belonged to Messrs Diamond Engineering. The firm had closed its account with the branch and returned the unused cheques for cancellation. The cheque was taken from the cheque book and a fake rubber stamp made and signatures were forged.

A senior officer, preferring anonymity, said complicity with bank insider could not be ruled out.


Gang of car thieves busted, 2 held

Jalandhar, August 31
The local police today claimed to have busted an inter-state gang of car thieves with the arrest of two Kashmiris.

According to the police, the car of Mansur Ahmed, alias Guljar Ahmed, and Adil Nisar Bhat, was intercepted near the Lamba Pind chowk on the Pathankot road. When they tried to escape, they were overpowered by the police.

During a search, the police found a machine for breaking locks of cars and several bunches of keys. The documents of the car were found to be fake. UNI


Dacoits loot goods worth 5 lakh
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 31
Dacoits injured an employee of Kooka Motor Garage on the GT Road, near Kanshi Nagar on the outskirts of the town and took away goods worth Rs 5 lakh last night.

According to a report received here today, at least 24 dacoits came in two trucks. They tied two employees of the garage and locked them in a room. They attacked and injured another employee. They loaded 11 tyres, a turbo engine, a car engine, a gear box, a TV set and other goods in the trucks and sped away.


2 found dead on railway tracks
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 31
Kartar Singh, a farmer of Jaisinghwala village, was found dead on the railway track near the village today.

In another case, Kulwant Singh, a lineman, Punjab State Electricity Board, was found dead on the railway track near Kotfatha village late last night.

Cases under Section 174 of the Cr. PC have been registered.

Meanwhile, a farmer, Mehar Singh of Bhokra village, died after he was electrocuted in his fields.


Exhibition showcases students’ abilities
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, August 31
An exhibition was put up by students of various convent schools of Doaba region at Saint Joseph’s Convent School today on the problems being faced by countries, particularly environment.

The exhibition was organised to commemorate the 25th foundation day of Saint Joseph’s Convent School.

Students expressed concern over the degeneration of politics and created a mini parliament by aping various leaders like Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, etc.

The arts and the environment section aimed at creating awareness caught the fancy of the visitors.

Father Joseph and Sister Ancy, Director and Principal of the school, respectively, stated that the objective of the exhibition was to teach students and to create awareness among them about the realities of life by showcasing various periods of human evolution. He said all models were created by students under the guidance of teachers and parents. “Our effort was to inculcate scientific and futuristic temperament among students,” said Father Michael Ani, a senior functionary of the school.


TUF announces team for PUTA poll
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 31
The Teachers United Front, comprising the Progressive Teachers Council (PTF), the Council of University Teachers (CUT), the Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) and the Forward Teachers Front (FTF) on Thursday released its team list for the PUTA elections scheduled for September 6 in which Dr Balwinder Singh is contesting for the post of president of the association.

Releasing the list today, TUF convener Bhupinder Singh Khaira said Dr Jaswinder Singh Brar would contest for the post of vice-president, Dr Balwinder Singh Sandhu for the post of secretary and Dr O.P. Jasuja for the post of joint secretary-cum-treasurer. Dr Nazer Singh, Dr Ram Swarup Singh, Ran Singh Dhaliwal and Dr Inderjit Singh are contesting executive committee seats. Dr Khaira said the TUF team stood for dignity of teachers, rule of law, justice for all teachers and removal of victimisation.

He said it had been the endeavour of the TUF that the teachers get their demands conceded as a matter of right, live and work with dignity and develop a sense of belonging to the university and become partners in achieving academic excellence. The TUF had been in the forefront in the fight to remove former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |