Wednesday, September 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S




Date crucial factor in power tariff order
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
In the countdown to the tariff order of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, the crucial (contentious) factor is the date from which it is to be effective. While the PSEB has indicated April 1, 2002, for its enforcement, the government has kept silent.

The commission today spent the day not only on deliberating the date but also the rate at which power to the agriculture sector as also the Scheduled Caste families is to be charged in lieu of “free” availability of power since February, 1997.

With the government now having given a firm commitment of Rs 800 crore on “class of categories” and quantum of “subsidies” to the PSEB, the tariff order is expected any day this week. The tariff order on these two categories is keenly awaited as it has a high political voltage potential. Another issue which will embroil the board and the government once the tariff order is notified pertains to whether the PSEB gets cash or there is just book adjustment. The latter is opposed by the board and the PSEB Engineers’ Association.

The PSEB has categorically told the commission that besides agriculture consumers, allowing of “free” power to Scheduled Castes (SC) families had also given it a financial setback. At present, SC families are allowed 50 units per month of free power having a connected load of 1000 Watts. It costs the PSEB around Rs 120 crore per annum or Rs 10 crore per month as the number of beneficiaries is around 10 lakh. In the tariff order, this freebie is expected to be reduced to 300 watts. The latest census shows that in Punjab, the percentage of SC population is 33 per cent, which means 13 lakh households now. If free power to SC families is not reduced, the loss to the PSEB will go up. But if free power is reduced to 300 watts, the board liability will get reduced from Rs 120 crore to less than Rs 50 crore.

Sources say that even in view of the clear indication of Rs 800 crore as subsidy, the board is unlikely to get the expected upward hike in the tariff rate in respect of flat rate to be charged (on per BHP) from farmers. In February 1997, the PSEB was charging Rs 50 per BHP with a clear understanding that suitable compensation shall be given to the PSEB by the government. But this did not happen. The PSEB received no cash compensation except for Rs 250 crore, during 2001-02. Now it wants Rs 240 per BHP, a sum to which the commission is likely to say no. Instead it may settle for any sum from Rs 60 to Rs 70 per BHP. It may, however, concede the PSEB’s demand for levy of Rs 2 per unit, on metered supply.

The government will allow the PSEB to retain Rs 571 crore that accrues as interest on the loans raised by the board and payable to the state, as also the electricity duty amounting to approximately Rs 150 crore. The board is believed to have enhanced the same by 5 per cent effective August 1. The remaining gap will be filled by cash subsidy, reduction in loss by cutting down free units to the Scheduled Castes families, levy of a flat rate and charging for metered supply to the agriculture sector.

The state may be spared a “tariff shock” with a tariff order hike ranging only between 8 per cent and 13 per cent. Finishing touches are being given to the nearly 150-page order.


PSEB pays Rs 30 cr to Rlys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today made a payment of Rs 30 crore to the Railways, besides releasing Rs 10 crore to various coal companies in an effort to avoid a crisis with the coal stocks depleting at its three thermal plants.

Besides, the Railways apparently is targeting only the Bathinda thermal plant in order to make the board pay the arrears as the Bathinda station did not receive any coal rake today. The situation was stable at Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat, which received seven and two rakes, respectively. The board has decided to keep shut down one unit at both Bathinda and Ropar in order to conserve fuel. While the Ropar unit was closed on September 1, the Bathinda unit was closed yesterday.

Sources said the board tried to placate the Railways by making a payment of Rs 30 crore today and promised to pay another instalment in a few days after the freight carrier threatened to stop coal transportation to the thermal plants. The board owes the Railways Rs 260 crore according to its own estimates even though the freight carrier had forwarded a bill of Rs 453 crore. Coal companies owe around Rs 40 crore after the payment of Rs 10 crore.

Meanwhile, the PSEB today removed the three-hours extra peak load restriction imposed on category two, three and four consumers. Now the consumers under

this category will observe the normal three-hour peak load restriction, which is normally applicable throughout the year. Disclosing this an official press note said industrial consumers of north, south, west and border zones would observe normal peak load restriction timings from 6.30 p.m. to 9.30 p.m., while consumers in central zone will observe restrictions from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.


PSEB engineers flay Finance Dept
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 3
The PSEB Engineers Association today condemned the objections filed by the Finance Department before the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Commission, in which the department has urged the PSEB to ‘draw a road map for reducing transmission and distribution losses, establishment costs, pilferage, leakages, fuel costs and implementation of the same in a definite time frame starting from the current year.’

The general secretary of the engineers’ association, Mr Rajinder Sarao, while criticising the objections filed by the department, said they would have serious repercussions on power supply in the coming months. Alleging that the department had failed to shoulder responsibility to take the PSEB out of its debt trap, he pointed out that the present financial crunch in the board was a consequence of non-payment of subsidy in cash by the department during the period 1997-2002.

Members of the association also said on the one hand the department had demanded that the PSEB should improve the ‘quality of power supply’ and on the other hand it had drastically slashed the energy purchase requirements of the power board.

Further criticising the stand of the department, the general secretary claimed that the principle of ‘Merit Order’ in power purchase tabled by the department, if extended to power distribution would lead to a virtual blackout of rural and low revenue areas. The ‘Merit Order’ principle requires the purchase of power from cheaper sources to costliest sources in ascending order. This, the association said, when applied to the distribution sector would mean that in shortage condition, the lowest revenue consumers would be disconnected first and so on in ascending order of revenue obtained.


PSEB cuts power to Health Dept
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 3
The PSEB has finally decided to take action against government departments which have failed to pay electricity bills.

As many as five connections of the Health Department were disconnected by the PSEB yesterday. However, keeping in view the welfare of patients, the connections of the emergency ward and the Civil Hospital were spared.

Mr B.S. Rai, Executive Engineer, PSEB, admitted that they had disconnected five connections of the Health Department as it owed about Rs 2 lakh to the board. He said earlier a notice had been issued to it but nothing had been done.


Kidney racket thrives in ‘holy city’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 3
The sale of kidneys by Indians to patients in the UK unearthed by an undercover journalist which shook the world has deep roots in the city where at least one operation a day is performed. At least 95 per cent of the donors are not related to patients who virtually purchase the kidneys by exploiting loopholes in the prevailing Act.

Though operations to transplant kidneys are conducted at Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Mohali too but Amritsar has emerged as the biggest centre where half of the state’s operations are performed. Patients from other states and abroad throng the city for the organ transplantation. The reason is that nursing homes here are able to hoodwink the authorities concerned easily.

Though the Government Medical College here had taken up the case of allowing it to perform kidney transplantation at much lesser rates the state government is yet to pay heed to the demand. All kidney transplantation operations are performed in private hospitals and there is not even a single government hospital where such operations can be performed. Interestingly, the authorisation committees ignore the money involved in the kidney donations.

It is pertinent to mention here that the scandal of sale of kidneys in Amritsar came to light when at least seven migrant labourers, who sold their organs through middlemen in connivance with doctors, complained that they were not given Rs 1 lakh each for the organs which they had ‘donated’. Instead of getting the promised money from the middlemen they were arrested by the police on charges of filing ‘wrong affidavits’ before donating their organs. The illiterate labourers had put their signatures on the affidavits without knowing their contents.

Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a former BJP MLA said great injustice was being meted to the ‘poor donors’. She said for inexplicable reasons, the Human Rights Commission was maintaining a studied silence. She said most of the victims were from Bihar or UP who throng the city which is known for ‘free lunches and subsidised dharmshalas’.


Warrant against 8 cops in fake encounter case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 3
The Special CBI court today issued non-bailable warrant against eight Punjab police personnel alleged to be involved in a fake encounter in Amritsar in 1993 in which three Special Police Officers (SPOs) were killed.

The warrant was issued against Sub-Inspector Gyan Chand, ASIs Devinder Singh, Gulbarg Singh, Jagir Singh, and Raghbir Singh, Head Constables Mahinder Singh and Arur Singh and retired Inspector Gurdev Singh for their alleged involvement in the fake encounter which had resulted in the death of three SPOs — Shinder Singh, Desa Singh and Balkar Singh.

The court had directed the CBI to arrest and produce the accused in court on October 16.

Investigating the case registered on the complaint of Ms Narinder Kaur, wife of Shinder Singh, the CBI in its investigation report had alleged that the three SPOs were kidnapped on June 27, 1993 and subsequently killed by a police party in a fake encounter.

According to the CBI, a case was registered against the three SPOs in connection with charges of theft and vandalism levelled by Karnail Singh of Sangatpura village in Amritsar district, besides cases pertaining to absconding from duty with government weapons.

The CBI report said the police had maintained that the three SPOs were gunned down at a naka near Garawa village and later their bodies were declared unidentifiable and cremated. It said the police had also claimed that government weapons were found on the three SPOs.


Baba Dhanwant denies confessions
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 3
Even as Baba Dhanwant, chief of the Noor Ruhani Charitable Sansthan, was sent to judicial custody till September 17 by a Garhshankar court today, Mr Santokh Singh, his close relative, was reportedly recovered from the “illegal” custody of the Nawanshahr CIA staff by a Punjab and Haryana warrant officer yesterday.

A large number of supporters of the baba raised anti-government and anti-Khalsa Panchayat, slogans. They alleged that the panchayat was spreading misinformation against the baba and Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti. Baba Dhanwant alleged that he was being framed and had not made any confessions before the police.

He was arrested by the Hoshiarpur police on September 30 on a charge of raping the daughter of one of his followers at his Chakki Palli village dera near Garhshankar in November.

Baba Dhanwant, who was said to have confessed to the police that he had paid a bribe amounting to Rs 70,000 to Mr Prithipal Singh, PA to Jathedar Vedanti, “absolve” him of the charges, was arrested by the Garhshankar police on August 31, following which he was remanded in police custody till September 3 by a Garhshankar court.

Mr Prithipal Singh, however, said the allegations were baseless and motivated.

Though no senior police official was available for comment either at Hoshiarpur or Nawanshahr, sources and counsel of Baba Dhanwant, confirmed over the phone that Mr Santokh Singh, trustee of the trust headed by the baba, was picked up by the Nawanshahr police from his Ballagan village residence in Gurdaspur district at about 4.30 a.m. on Saturday. The counsel said the warrant officer had also recorded in “roznamcha” that the baba was also in the custody of the Nawanshahr police. He said the police had adopted an “illegal” course as the baba and Mr Santokh Singh could not have been taken to Nawanshahr, particularly when the baba was remanded in the custody of the Hoshiarpur police by the court till September 3.

Middle rung police officials, who did not want to be quoted, denied that anything “objectionable” was found during the raid.

Meanwhile, former office-bearers of the Ruhani charitable trust on Tuesday demanded that Baba Dhanwant should be booked for amassing “benami” properties in different parts of the state and for conducting “hawala” transactions.

A deputation of the former office-bearers of the trust comprised of former general secretary Dr Satnam Singh, former secretary Mr Harjit Singh Nagpal, former cashier Mr Sewa Singh met the IG Police (Jalandhar zone) Mr S.K. Sharma here this afternoon and submitted a formal complaint in this regard.


Badungar meets Sikh clergy
Asks them not to resign
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 3
In the wake of the ultimatum served by the Khalsa Panchayat on Sikh high priests Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, held an unscheduled closed-door meeting with the Sikh clergy at the information office of the SGPC here today.

Mr Badungar was reportedly upset over the developments regarding the rape case. The SGPC chief clearly told the Sikh high priests that they should not have taken up the rape case.

Later, he went to the house of Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, general secretary, SGPC, to know her views on sensitive issue. Both leaders reportedly discussed the issue of Baba Dhanwant Singh, chairman, Noor Vishav Roohani Charitable Trust.

According to sources, the SGPC chief has reportedly told the high priests that there was no point in resigning from their respective posts following threats of dharnas given by the Khalsa Panchayat. It may be mentioned here that the panchayat had threatened to stage dharnas at the SGPC office and official residences of the Sikh clerics if Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, did not resign within 10 days.

While talking to TNS, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur said the panchayat had no authority to seek the resignation of the high priests. She added that it must know that there was no precedent in the Sikh history of staging dharnas in front of the residences of Jathedars.

Meanwhile, in an unprecedented move the Panthic Commission formed by the panchayat to probe the allegations of corruption against Jathedars and rape charge against Baba Dhanwant Singh has called the Sikh high priests to put their case before the commission on September 8 at Chandigarh. However, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur challenged the authority of the so called commission to summon the high priests. “Is the Khalsa Panchayat was superior to the Sikh high priests”, she asked ?

Interestingly the commission has threatened to decide the case ex-parte if the persons concerned failed to appear at the forthcoming meeting.

The members of the commission are Mr Gurtej Singh, Principal, Tarlochan Singh, Bibi Sukhjit Kaur, Maj-Gen Narinder Singh (retd) and Mr Amar Singh Chahal.


Probe recruitment of naib tehsildars: CPI
Tribune News Service

Joga (Mansa), September 3
In a significant statement which could affect the CPI-Congress alliance in the state, Dr Joginder Dyal, state secretary, CPI, Punjab, today alleged that the actions of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had strengthened Akalis’ claim regarding eradication of corruption.

Mr Dyal demanded a CBI probe into the recruitment of naib tehsildars allegedly in violation of the norms by Principal Secretary to CM, Mr Sanjit Kumar Sinha, when he was the Commissioner, Patiala division. He claimed that if Capt Amarinder Singh did not to order a probe in this regard then the allegations of Mr Badal that the Chief Minister was indulging in political vindictiveness would proved correct.

Dr Dyal, who was talking to TNS at the bhog ceremony of Comrade Jagir Singh Joga here today, pointed out that the criterion for eradicating corruption should be same for everyone and it should be uniformly applied on all and sundry. However, under the present set up in the state corrupt bureaucrats and politicians were being promoted and patronised, he said.

Mr Dyal added that the CPI leadership had been demanding a CBI probe against Mr Sinha during Mr Badal’s rule and now the same trend seems to have gripped the Congress government.

Dr Dyal resented the fact that no minister of the Congress government participated in the cremation and bhog ceremony of Comrade Joga.

He said if Capt Amarinder Singh was serious about his anti-corruption drive then why he did not ask his ministers to declare their assets.

Dr Dyal said the CPI would not have any poll alliance with the Congress for the municipal council and panchayat elections. He added that for the sake of unity and integrity of the country, the CPI would have an alliance with the Congress for other elections.

Senior Congress leader and MP Jagmeet Brar also condemned the Congress government for not sending any of its minister to attend the bhog ceremony of Comrade Joga.


Hearing on Sidhu’s plea tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 3
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, today fixed September 5 for hearing further arguments on the application of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended PPSC Chairman, seeking English translation of the copies of the challan and other documents on the plea that Sidhu could not read or write Punjabi.

The challan and other documents are related to a case in which Sidhu was caught on March 25 by the Vigilance Bureau while allegedly accepting an illegal gratification of Rs 5 lakh from Mr Bhupjit Singh, an Assistant Excise Inspector, as part of a Rs 35 lakh deal to select him as a PCS officer.

Arguing on the application, the defence counsel said Sidhu could not read or write Punjabi, so he was handicapped to defend himself in court properly. The defence counsel also stated that under Section 207 of the CrPC, Sidhu was entitled to such copies.

However, Mr H.S. Kang, Public Prosecutor, said he had sufficient proof that Sidhu knew Punjabi and could read it. He said Sidhu regularly asked for Punjabi newspapers from the jail staff. Besides, Sidhu had signed many official documents written in Punjabi in his capacity as PPSC Chairman. Mr Kang also showed instructions of the Punjab Government that government work would be done in Punjabi. He also showed a letter of the PPSC Secretary, stating that the commission’s work is done in Punjabi.

Sidhu rebutted the arguments of the prosecution on the grounds that he had neither received education in Punjab nor made any noting in Punjabi while serving as PPSC Chairman. Rather, he had made such notings in English, Sidhu said.

The arguments today remained inconclusive as xerox copies of documents submitted in the court by the prosecution, claiming that Sidhu knew Punjabi, were sought by his counsel for perusal.

The defence counsel also submitted applications in the court with regard to the return of articles recovered from Sidhu at the time of his arrest, and for opening his frozen bank accounts in order to withdraw money for bearing the expenses of his case.


Decision to join Congress spontaneous: Sekhon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 3
Air Marshal Manjit Singh Sekhon (retd), who joined the Congress at an ex-servicemen’s rally at Jalandhar yesterday does not suspect any Congress or Akali politician behind the ‘mysterious’ leakage of his letter from the former Chief Minister’s Office, in which he had sought Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s help for getting him plum posting in Western Command.

“Some of my well-known rivals in the Air Force, whose opinion on an inquiry I ignored, got the letter leaked from CMO headquarters,” Air Marshal Sekhon said while talking to The Tribune while commenting on his sudden decision to join the Congress instead of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

Before his controversial dismissal, the officer, was quite “close” to former Chief Minister and President SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. It was being stated so far that certain Congress leader was behind the leakage.

“Yes, I was close to Mr Badal. He wanted me to work for Punjab. That is why I wrote that letter” Air Marshal Sekhon (retd) said. “After my ouster from the services, there was lot of talk about my joining the SAD, but nothing concrete came out of it. Then, I got a call from the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Sunday inviting me for the Jalandhar function. I had no reason to decline the invitation.”

“Air Marshal Sekhon (retd) was carefully choosing his words in the interview. He seems to be a fast learner of politics. He was revealing little about the sequence of events and his future course of action. “I just want to work. I have lot of experience and want to utilise it for the uplift of the Punjabi youth,” he said.

Air Marshal Sekhon (retd) said neither he had demanded any post nor he was after any. Mr Sukhpal Singh, son of the village sarpanch did not know about the development.


SYAD split formalised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
A split in the Shiromani Youth Akali Dal (SYAD) was formalised today with the announcement of a parallel organisational setup by Mr Balwinder Singh Nabha, who claimed to be its President.

The new setup was announced at a convention of youth activists held at Gurdwara Gursagar here today. The other group is headed by Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon. Youth activists expressed full faith in the leadership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President.

Criticising the activities of Mr Dhillon, Mr Balwinder Singh Nabha and his associates said they had been active as youth workers for the past several years but Mr Dhillon sidelined them. “We do not recognise the body headed by Mr Dhillon”, they added.

Mr Nabha said Mr Gurnam Singh Thekedar, Mr Mohinder Singh Bagarian, Mr Sukhwinder Singh Datewal, Mr Ravil Kamal Singh and Mr Swaran Singh Chuharchak had been appointed senior vice-presidents of the SYAD.

Mr Hardev Singh Bajechak, Mr Harcharan Singh Sivian, Mr Suvinder Singh Jaipura, Mr Surinder Singh Palahi, Mr Jaswinder Singh and Mr Palwinder Singh Grewal had been appointed general secretaries of the organisation.


Jaya’s ‘antics to please’ NDA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
Reacting sharply to the outbursts against Ms Sonia Gandhi by the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms J. Jayalalitha, the Mayor of Ludhiana Municipal Corporation, Mr Nahar Singh Gill, and the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress Senior Vice-President, Mr Pawan Diwan, today said she had lost her mental equilibrium.

In a signed statement, the two leaders said the remarks by Ms Jayalalitha were uncalled for and mischievous. Coming out strongly in defence of the AICC President, the two said that Ms Sonia Gandhi did not have to prove her credentials of being an Indian. The issue of her being a ‘’foreigner’’ has been legally settled. The next general election will catapult her to the post of Prime Minister. Therefore, the outburst of Ms Jayalalitha was only a sign of ‘’frustration’’ of a person, who is discredited and embroiled in scams.


DCC threatens stir on Sonia issue
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 3
Dr Kuldip Kumar Nanda, president, District Congress Committee, here has condemned Ms Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, for raising the issue regarding barring of persons of foreign origin from holding high constitutional offices in the country.


Employees not keen on J&K poll duty
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 3
People of Punjab, particularly government employees and politicians, seem to be indifferent to Jammu and Kashmir elections. The employees, who were given the option to volunteer for the poll duty, have refused to do so. Even leaders of various political parties, who were requisitioned for campaigning, are also learnt to be reluctant to go there.

The Punjab Government had given an option to its employees with an offer of Rs 5,000 for performing the poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, each employee opting for the duty would get an insurance cover of Rs 25,000 for injury and Rs 5 lakh for death. Interestingly, none of the employees volunteered for the job saying it was too risky to go and perform the poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir.

Official sources revealed that a circular had been received from the government asking the employees about their option for the poll duty. The first phase of the elections would be completed on September 15. Apprehending danger to their life, none of the employees had opted to perform the duty there.

The employees argued that why should they be pushed into “a virtual battlefield unarmed”, when they hardly had any stakes. The remuneration of Rs 5,000 for the poll duty for a single day, besides food, boarding and lodging free of cost seemed to be too less to attract the employees.

On the other hand the politicians were also in a fix. While the employees could opt not to perform the duty, the politicians were finding it very difficult to refuse their party assignments. Leaders of all major political parties in the state, including the Congress, BJP, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) had received calls from their parties to campaign in Jammu and Kashmir.

While Congress and BJP leaders would canvass for their party candidates, the SAD was supporting the BJP and the SHSAD had announced its support for the ruling National Conference.


Allowance for J&K poll duty hiked
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 3
The Punjab Government has increased the allowance for poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir from Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 per employee. The employees will also be entitled to get 80 per cent advance.

Mr Gurwaryam Singh, Additional District Election Officer, said the employees, who were unwilling to go on the duty, were now coming forward in wake of the fresh incentives announced by the government.


Ex-MLA acquitted in rape case
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 3
The local Sessions Court has acquitted a former BSP MLA, Mr Baldev Singh Bhatti, and advocate Daljit Singh Rajput in a rape case after the victim changed her version saying they did not rape her. Mr Bhatti was earlier also acquitted in another rape and murder case in 1993 when he represented the Dharamkot (reserved) seat.

According to details available, charges were framed against the former MLA and his friend Rajput, a former general secretary of SSMD Ayurvedic College for raping an ad hoc midwife of the college promising her to regularise her services.

A case of rape was registered against them on August 2, 1993, in the Sadar police station here.

Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Khera, Additional Sessions Judge, dismissed the case Mr Bhatti and Mr Rajput acquitting them of rape charges. Interestingly, the mid wife changed her version on May 18. This year saying the accused did not rape here. No only this, all other witnesses produced by the police backed off their previous versions saying they were under political police pressure.

Mr Batti told TNS over telephone that the case was politically motivated and they were framed by the then Congress government to check the growing popularity of the BSP. He said would file a defamation case in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the Punjab Police and the state government.


Joga’s bhog largely attended
Tribune News Service

Joga (Mansa), September 3
A large number of people, including a galaxy of leaders and prominent citizens of Punjab and neighbouring Haryana, descended on this village situated on the Mansa-Barnala road to pay homage to Jangir Singh Joga, a freedom fighter, on the occasion of his bhog ceremony here today.

Leaders, cutting across partylines, including the PPCC President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the SHSAD, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Sat Pal Dang, Ms Vimla Dang, Mr Bhagat Singh Bilga, president of the Desh Bhagat Yadgari Committee, and Mr Jagmeet Brar, declared Joga as a hero of the downtrodden.

Recalling the contributions of Joga, who jumped into the freedom movement at the age of 14, forwards securing ownership rights for “muhjaras” (serfs) from “jagirdars” (landlords) and his relentless fight against princely states and British rule. Various leaders urged the people to take a pledge to fight injustice as it would be a true homage to Joga.

Senior journalists and activists of various organisations, including Mr Gurdeep Singh, Editor Aaj Di Awaj, Mr Jagjit Singh Anand, Editor, Nawa Zamana and Mr Sarwan Singh Bir, president of the Malwa Itihas Khoj Kendar, were also present. Mr Harbhajan Singh Halwarvi, Editor, Punjabi Tribune, sent his condolence message.

Mr Hanspal while stating that he had been sent to attend the bhog by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the Congress also contributed to the freedom movement.

Mr Jagmeet Brar said he and his father, Late Gurmeet Singh Brar, took inspiration from Joga for fighting for the cause of people.

Mr Tohra while calling Joga a revolutionary declared that he would give Rs 2.5 lakh for setting up a library in his name. A close relative of Joga said residents of the village had demanded that the Mansa-Barnala road and two local schools should be named after Joga.


Father’s endless wait for daughter
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, September 3
The past two years have been a living hell for Charan Singh and his family. It has been two years since his daughter, who was 7 at that time, was allegedly abducted. Despite repeated rounds of police stations, cops have failed to take any action against those accused of abduction by the dejected father.

A resident of Sanaur near Patiala, Charan Singh’s daughter, Paramjit Kaur, was abducted on October 21, 2000, allegedly by his neighbour who has “powerful connections.” I and my wife were not at home when the incident occurred, my daughter was playing outside before she was abducted. I had even disclosed the identity of the suspect to the police. They had earlier threatened that they would abduct my daughter,” said a visibly shaken Charan Singh.

The provocation, according to Charan Singh, was the fact that he had played the role of a mediator in arranging a matrimonial alliance that had failed to materialise. The matter was brought to the notice of the then SSP, Mr Hardeep Singh Sidhu, who marked an inquiry to the SHO concerned. Charan Singh alleged that the police failed to take any action against the accused.

Mr Singh then filed another complaint with the then SSP on May 9, 2000, accusing three persons, including a woman, of abducting his daughter. The SSP ordered registration of a case. Although the FIR was registered the very next day, no arrests were made. Mr Singh further said that he had been receiving threats to his life to withdraw the case, and had even been offered money also.


4 deaths reported from district
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 3
As many as four persons died in separate incidents and a body was found in the district today.

As per information, Manjeet Singh (35) died when he accidentally consumed insecticide this morning. Harbans Kaur (70) died when the roof of her house collapsed.

Meanwhile, Mr Vijay Goyal, president of the Sahara Welfare Club, said in a press note that volunteers of the club fished out a body from a distributary, near Kothe Indersinghwala village, under the Nahianwala police station here today. The police handed over the body to the NGO.

Rajesh of the local railway station area, who was suffering from tuberculosis, died on Tuesday. The GRP handed over his body to the NGO after getting the post-mortem.

Raghunath (65) died in the Gandhi Market area on Tuesday. His body was also handed over to the Sahara.


Banquet hall wall collapses, 2 hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 3
Two persons were seriously injured when the boundary wall of Madhuban Banquet Marriage Hall in the posh Mall Road area of the city caved in here yesterday. The injured have been identified as Dewan Singh, watchman, and Gian Singh, labourer. Residents of the Rattan Chand road immediately rushed to the spot and took both of them out of the rubbles. Both had received multiple injuries on their faces, legs and feet.

They were both rushed to a private nursing home. The Rattan Chand Road Welfare Association has lodged a complaint with the SSP and demanded action against the owner of the banquet hall. According to a spokesman of the association, the owner of the hall has been urged to repair the wall which was in a dilapidated condition but he (the owner) never bothered to do so. The remaining portion of the wall continues to bend on one side of the road. The association has barricaded the area and stopped vehicular traffic.

When contacted Mr Sunil Pahwa, owner of the hall, said since they had sold the marriage hall last month as such they were not responsible for the injuries caused to two persons.


VHP asks Hindus to unite
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 3
Mr Ashok Singhal, VHP President, today exhorted Hindus to unite to strengthen the roots of Hinduism.

Expressing dismay over the “discrimination” being meted out to the majority community by vested interests, he said religion was a binding force while polities was a dividing factor.

Calling the Godhra killings as a response to the killings of Shiv Sainiks, he said this was for the first time that the tolerance level among the Hindus had breached.

Expressing concern for Kashmiri Pandits who were forced to flee, he suggested that trifurcation of Jammu and Kashmir was the only solution for saving them.

Earlier he inaugurated an orthopaedic and physiotherapy centre at Shivalya Bhiayan.


Thousands throng recruitment rally
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 3
Thousands of youths thronged a recruitment rally organised by the Army authorities here, giving a tough time to the local police in dealing with the surging crowd.

According to officers conducting the recruitment process, over 6,000 aspirants reported to the venue. After preliminary screening of the documents, tokens were issued to 3,500 aspirants. They will be required to undergo physical and medical tests, scheduled to be held tomorrow.

The rally, being organised by the Branch Recruitment Office, Ludhiana, is open only to candidates belonging to the districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Moga, Mansa, Muktsar and Bathinda.

The police had to resort to a mild lathi charge to keep the crowd under control.


INTUC resents govt decisions
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 3
The district unit of the INTUC has urged the state government to hold a meeting with the state unit of the association with regard to the problems being faced by employees.

In a memorandum to the Punjab Public Health Minister, Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, yesterday office-bearers of the district INTUC council urged the state government that some of its decisions taken in the past few months were against the interests of the employees. They said the decisions regarding privatisation of some corporations, ban on giving some allowances in cash, ban on promotions and appointments on priority basis were uncalled for.

Mr Pritam Singh, district president of the association, said the main reason for the losses being faced by the corporations was some wrong decisions on part of the corporation management.


Youth Akali Dal to set up vigil squads
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 3
The Youth Dal will set up vigil squads to foil possible attempts by the ruling Congress to capture booths or cast bogus votes during the local nagar council poll on September 8. This was stated here today by Mr Rajinder Singh Sandal and Mr Parminder Singh Khalsa, senior vice-president of the all-India Shiromani Youth Akali Dal headed by Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon of the SAD. Each squad will have 30 to 50 youths.

They said youths would also keep a vigil in the wards represented by BJP candidates. The closure of cults and deras distorting and denigrating Sikhism and a drive against drugs are high on the agenda of the Youth Akali Dal, Mr Sandal and Mr Khalsa said.


Pepsu announces concessions

Kapurthala, September 3
Pepsu Roadways Corporation has announced several concessions in the monthly bus passes, ‘bachat card scheme’ and holiday cards from September 1.

The corporation has sent circulars to all depots and instructed the general managers to implement the schemes in order to attract more passengers.

The corporation’s Kapurthala depot General Manager, Mr O.P. Khichi, said today that the corporation had reduced the fares from Rs 40 to Rs 30 in the monthly bus pass scheme thus giving the benefit of Rs 10 to the passengers.

The “bachat card” rates have been reduced to Rs 125 from Rs 160 in case of adult and Rs 10 concession will be given in case of the children. The ‘children bachat card’ will be available for Rs 50 instead of Rs 60 and the card will be valid for one day in the Punjab. PTI


Zila Parishad chiefs’ elections from Sept 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
The elections of chairpersons of the block samitis and Zila Parishads in Punjab will be held from September 25. The process will be completed by October 10.

Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, said today that the Deputy Commissioners had been informed in this connection.


Deposit seized goods with treasury: court
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 3
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, today ordered that all goods seized by the Vigilance Department from the house of Mr Hardeep Singh, OSD to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, should be deposited with the government treasury.

The public prosecuter moved an application on behalf of the Vigilance in the court and presented a list of all goods seized. These included 755 gm of gold, Rs 44,200 in cash, passports of Mr and Mrs Parkash Singh Badal, and shares of UTI in the name of Mrs Rajinder Kaur.

The court had earlier issued search warrant of the house of the accused after a case had been registered against him.


Advocate’s body found in canal

Khanna, September 3
The body of an advocate, who was missing since August 8, was found in the Sirhind canal yesterday, the police said today.

After a search of five days his body was found from the canal near Ghanaur village in Rajpura tehsil, the police said adding that a post-mortem was conducted at Khanna Civil Hospital. PTI


Rain damages paddy at purchasing centres
Our Correspondent

Moga, September 3
Yesterday’s heavy rains which lashed the villages in the district has considerably damaged the paddy crops ready for harvesting and those lying in purchasing centres. The villages which have been affected include Fatehgarh, Panjttor, Gagra, Janer, Lohara. Manjit Singh, a farmer said 45 per cent of his crop had been damaged. The rains came at the time when farmers were busy harvesting and packing it for purchasing centres.

Another farmer, Bhajan Singh, a resident of Gagra village, said the bajra and paddy crops had been damaged, and he had lost everything he had spent on sowing these crops. Gurbachan Singh with tears in his eyes said the crop sown by him in the lowlying area was still standing in the water. On the other hand harvesting in several villages of the district had been delayed due to the flooding of the fields. The arrival of paddy in purchasing centres had been delayed due to the rains, the farmers said. Traders had refused to buy the rain soaked paddy due to the absence of the government procuring agencies. On the other hand foodgrain worth crores of rupees lying in the open for several years in almost 12 village of the district had been rendered unfit for human consumption. Several thousand bags had reportedly been stolen by representatives of the government-agencies and sold to traders at marginal profits.

Former president of the BKU Kuldip Singh Sandhu and general secretary of the state unit of the BKU Bhupinder Singh Mahasari in a statement issued here today demanded adequate Central aid for Punjab farmers whose paddy crop had been damaged due to the drought like situation. Both leaders said if the government failed to give them adequate assistance they would be left with no alternative but to sell their belongings or commit suicide. They further demanded that Punjab should be declared drought hit and agriculture loans advanced to them be waived.


Punjab for early paddy procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
The Punjab Food and Supply Minister, Mr Lal Singh, said today that the Union Government had been approached to start the procurement of paddy from September 21 instead of October 1.

Paddy would start arriving early this year in the grain markets. The Union Government had also been requested to announce the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy. The Punjab Government has sought Rs 660 per quintal as the MSP for common and Rs 726 per quintal for Grade- A paddy.

Henceforth the state government would make direct payment to rice millers against the delivery of levy rice. FCI officials concerned had also been instructed by the authorities concerned in this connection.

Mr Lal Singh, who held a meeting with a delegation of rice millers led by Mr Tarsem Saini, said that their demands charter would be discussed at the next meeting of the Council of Ministers.


Local bodies to run PHCs
Our Correspondent

Nangal (Ropar), September 3
In a major decision here today, the Punjab Government decided to transfer powers, responsibilities and functions of primary healthcare centres (PHCs) to the Local Governments. These powers in the rural areas will rest with the panchayati raj bodies and in the urban areas with the municipal bodies.

The funds coming for the primary healthcare centres will now be at the disposal of the zila parishads and panchayat samitis. At the village level, doctors posted at the primary health centres will have to get progress regarding various schemes certified from sarpanches. Technical powers regarding the posting, transfer or taking disciplinary action against the doctors will rest with the state health authorities.

The decision, which was taken at the conclusion of the two-day conference of civil surgeons and Deputy Medical Commissioners, was in pursuance of the policy of the government under the 73rd and 74th amendments to the Constitution.

Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Health Minister, announced this decision at a press conference at the BBMB Sutlej Sadan rest house.

He said to implement the policy of decentralisation of powers, a state-level committee comprising Mr A.S. Bains, Additional Secretary, Health, Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health Services and Dr C.S. Brar, Assistant Director, Health Services, had been constituted.

At the district level, a committee comprising the Deputy Commissioner, the Additional Secretary, Health, and the Civil Surgeon would look into the implementation of the project.

The other decision taken at the conference was regarding manpower deployment. The government decided against allowing fresh recruitment and decided that civil surgeons would be given the powers for redeployment of the doctors within the district.

To check absenteeism, it had been made mandatory for the doctors to stay at the place of their posting.

To effectively implement the PNDT Act, the civil surgeons had been directed to send reports on prescribed performas on the 20th of every month.


2 magicians held for murder
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 3
Magicians Ved Parkash of Malout and Rajesh Kumar of Pathankot were arrested last evening under Section 302, IPC, for murdering Manjit Kaur of Mona village on August 30.

Manjit Kaur had been living at a dharamshala at the Krishan Nagar mohalla for the past three months and was pursuing her divorce case at a local court.

Ved Parkash and Rajesh Kumar were also staying at the same dharamshala on the fateful night they attempted to rape Manjit Kaur, but when they failed to do so they murdered her with sharpedged weapons and escaped. 


3 held for forging Army officials’ signatures
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 3
The Gurdaspur police has busted a three-member gang who used to forge the signatures of transferred Army officials of Tibri cantonment and get loans sanctioned to the tune of Rs 50,000 after getting a commission of Rs 10,000 for each case.

As many as 10 loan cases were got sanctioned by them out of which four are under process. Three members of the gang have been arrested, including two employed at Tibri. Fake stamps of Army officers have been recovered from them. The loans were sanctioned from cooperative banks.

According to SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Varinder Kumar, those arrested include Mohan Lal of Shezada Nangal, Gurdaspur and Om Parkash, a resident of Bhoa from Pathankot and Surjit Singh. Two are posted in Tibri cantonment. Interrogation of the accused revealed that they indulged in luring staff at Tibri of getting their loans sanctioned and for this they would charge Rs 10,000 for each loan of Rs 50,000. The fourth accused Jhangi had links with staff of the bank and used to get the documents cleared. He has absconded.


‘Smuggler’ implicates ASI, constable
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 3
A case pertaining to Kishore Chand of Nakki Narot village Jaimal Singh, booked for smuggling poppy husk and willow bats and arrested under the NDPS Act, took a new turn today when the police also booked him for giving bribe to ASI Lakhbir Singh and Head Constable Deepak Kumar.

According to the police, the accused had confessed that Lakhbir Singh and Deepak Kumar had helped him in the smuggling 15 trucks of willow bats when they were posted at Sujanpur. He alleged that the police had been charging Rs 10,000 as bribe for each truck.

Mrs Kiran Bala, Duty Magistrate, has remanded Kishore in police custody for two days.

According to sources, the policemen have applied for anticipatory bail.


MC chief booked
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 3
The Vigilance Bureau has booked another Akali leader Dr Kuldip Singh Gill, President of the Moga Municipal Committee for taking bribe and committing fraud with tenants of a local market. Earlier also, on June 13, this year he was booked by the Moga police on charges of fraud. At present, he is on bail.

According to Mrs Anita Punj, Superintendent Police (Vigilance Bureau) Ferozepore Range, Dr Gill has been booked under Section 409/420 of the IPC and 13(2) of the PCA. She said Dr Gill had so far not been arrested.

Three months ago shopkeepers of Guru Nanak Market made a written complaint to the Vigilance Bureau with affidavits that Dr Gill took a total of Rs 1.75 lakh from them in 2000 as bribe to transfer the proprietary rights of shops in their names.

Later, Dr Gill backed out from the promise made to them and denied that he took money from them. The money was returned to the shopkeepers during the last Vidhan Sabha elections at the behest of Mr Tota Singh, the then Education Minister and SAD candidate from the Moga constituency.


Undertrial escapes
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 3
An undertrial, Joginder Singh of Chhota Bajwara, escaped from police custody while he was being taken back to the district jail on Sunday after an appearance before the Duty Magistrate.

On way to the district jail, constable Nirmal Singh handed him over to constable Chaman Lal at Adda Mahilpur from whose custody Joginder Singh managed to escape.

The city police has registered a case under Sections 223 and 224 of the IPC. Joginder Singh had been arrested under Section 380 of the IPC against an FIR No 158 lodged on August 15.


Robber held
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 3
The police arrested a robber, Ajaib Singh, alias Ajaiba of Kotla village in the district today. A pistol and two cartridges were seized from his possession. He was reportedly involved in several cases of robbery in the state. This was stated in a press note issued by Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP.

Mr Dhoke said initially Ajaib was a member of the gang of Sital Singh and Amarjit Singh. Later he came in contact with militants Himmat Singh of Hoshiarpur district and Avtar Singh of Jalandhar district and started committing robberies.


One held for impersonation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 3
The Gurdaspur police has arrested Kuldip Raj of Qadian for impersonating as Junior Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and cheating and extorting money from people by issuing fake demand notices for tubewell connections. Kuldip posed as Ramesh Mahajan, JE of the PSEB.

In a fax message here today, Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, Gurdaspur, said on a complaint by Sarwan Singh that he had applied for tubewell connections, but ‘even after depositing the security money he could not get connection. A few days ago Kuldip came to him and took Rs 700 for the connection. He also gave him a demand notice which was later found to be fake when he approached the PSEB.

The police, on a tip-off, laid a naka at Panjar and arrested Kuldip when he was coming from Gurdaspur in a bus. A case has been registered.


SI’s son suspect in murder case

Jalandhar, September 3
In a cold blooded murder in the Suranasi Army camp, Jalandhar, on August 29 in which one person was shot dead and two other were seriously injured, the police has found a clue that the son of a Sub-Inspector (SI) was allegedly involved.

According to the police, the accused, Babbal, who is the son of Prem Lata, SI, posted in the Traffic Cell of the city police, was allegedly accomplice of Amarjit Singh, alias Babbu Lahoria, who is still at large. Rumours had it that Babbu Lahoria flew to the UK on the same day from Amritsar Airport.

Meanwhile, the SI has been shifted to the police lines. UNI 


Teachers announce stir plan
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 3
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) has released the programme of its stepped-up stir against the anti-higher education policies of the government.

The agitating teachers will observe Teachers Day on September 5 as ‘anti-repression day’ by holding a dharna in front of DPI (C) at Chandigarh and wearing black badges in colleges, according to Prof V.K. Tewari, General Secretary, PCCTU here today. An education bandh will be observed on October 10 when all teachers will go on mass casual leave and hold a rally in the constituency of the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh at Patiala to seek justice and the implementation of poll promises of the ruling party. Zonal-level rallies will be held on September 12 and 24 in colleges of Punjabi and Panjab Universities.

The union has convened a meeting of its general house on October 20 at GGN Khalsa College, Ludhiana to seek ratification of the decision of the executive committee to launch a jail bharo andolan and total cease work programme in November. A list of volunteers for the jail bharo andolan will be completed by September 30. A mobilisation campaign and a solidarity movement with students will also be launched. The teachers are demanding the revocation of the decision to downsize 95 per cent grant-in-aid besides the acceptance of their other demands.


Medical college students call off strike
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 3
Following assurances given by the four-member inquiry committee established to enquire into the theft at the girls’ hostel of the government-run medical college students of the college today called off their strike.

It may be mentioned here that the students had been on a strike for the past few days after the theft. The committee comprising Dr Bhola Singh, Medical Superintendent, Dr H.S. Gill and the Superintendent of the hostel assured the students to nab the guilty soon and to provide internal security on the college premises.

Meanwhile, Gopal Dass was caught while intruding into the nursing hostel at the medical complex yesterday. The intruder had entered the hostel and hid himself in one of the rooms before an alarm was raised. He was handed over to the police by the hostel authorities.


Punjab to take up REC’s case with Centre
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 3
Conceding the major demand of students, the Punjab Government today gave approval to send the case of Regional Engineering College (REC), Jalandhar, to the Union Government for declaring it as a National Institute of Technology (NIT).

Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, Technical Education Minister, said today with the grant of NIT status to the REC by the Union Government, the institute would get complete academic autonomy. The institute would then be funded by the Union Government and also qualify financial aid worth crores from the World Bank.

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