Sunday, September 8, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



35 ‘tainted’ PCS nominees booked
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has registered cases against nearly 35 ‘tainted’ candidates, selected for various PCS posts (Executive), PCS (Judicial) and PCS (Allied) besides BDPOs, including Amol Gill, daughter of Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Amarbir Singh Gill, and Rahul Gupta, son of former PPSC member T.C. Gupta.

Highly placed sources said two teams of the Vigilance Bureau left Patiala late today afternoon to raid houses of certain ‘tainted’ candidates all over the state. The sources said a few arrests could also be made in the case.

Vigilance Department officials were silent on the details of the FIR. However, sources disclosed that around 35 persons had been named in the FIRs five in number, and registered under five categories dealing with ‘tainted’ candidates of the PCS (Executive), PCS (Judicial), PCS (Allied), DSPs and Block Development and Panchayat Officers (BDPOs). Most of the candidates against whom cases have been registered have been named by touts of Ravi Sidhu suspected Chairman of the PPSC. Markfed employee Randhir Singh Dheera and Moga businessman Prem Sagar who now have turned approvers in the case.

The sources said besides targeting candidates who allegedly paid bribe to suspended PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu, the FIRs have also for the first time targeted candidates alleged to have been selected on the basis of influence. These candidates include Amol Gill, daughter of Mr Justice Amarbir Singh Gill and Rahul Gupta, son of former PPSC member T.C. Gupta. Other high-profile candidates against whom cases have been registered are son and daughter of former Ferozepore Senior Superintendent of Police Gurcharan Singh


Sidhu’s plea on translated copies rejected
Allowed to withdraw Rs 50,000
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 7
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, here today rejected the application of Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, suspended PPSC Chairman in connection with the translation of copies of challan and other documents presented against him by the prosecution in the court.

Sidhu had sought the translated copies on the plea that he could not read or write Punjabi.

After rejecting his application the Special Judge fixed September 21 as the next date for hearing in the bribery case.

Earlier, the defence counsel urged the court to give a later date in this case to enable the accused to file a revision petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court to challenge the rejection of his plea.

On another application filed with regard to the opening of Sidhu’s frozen bank account in order to allow him to withdraw money for bearing expenses, the Special Judge allowed him to withdraw Rs 50,000 from his bank account. The bank was directed to issue a cheque book to Sidhu.

Regarding another application pertaining to the return of articles seized from Sidhu by the Vigilance at the time of his arrest the Special Judge directed the prosecution to file the report about the articles seized from Sidhu at the time of his arrest.

The Special Judge fixed September 16 for further proceedings in the case related to the possession of assets disproportionate to Sidhu’s known sources of income.

Mr H.S. Kang, Public Prosecutor, today filed a reply in the court on Sidhu’s application pertaining to the summoning of the PPSC records to prove that the latter had always worked in English. Mr Kang said the prosecution had opposed the application on the grounds that as per the instructions of the Punjab Government work should be done in Punjabi.

Besides, the prosecution also attached 10 notings of different cases which were in Punjabi and approved by Sidhu by signing the same in English.


Rally by those selected during Sidhu’s tenure
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
A protest rally was held by those selected during the tenure of suspended PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here demanding that their services should not be terminated on flimsy grounds.

Veterinary doctors, agricultural technocrats, engineers of Irrigation, Public Health and Building and Roads and Panchayati Raj, besides town planners and lecturers, gathered here under the banner of the Coordination Committee of Professional Services Association and claimed that only meritorious professional officers had been selected.


Power commission upholds govt viewpoint
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The tariff order pronounced by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission yesterday has electrified political circles with former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal reacting on the expected lines. Since he had allowed free power to the agriculture sector, the Akali Dal politicising the tariff issue in coming weeks cannot be ruled out.

The tariff order also brings to light several other facts, facets and observations the commission has made with regard to the government, consumers, the PSEB and its fairly well connected transmission and distribution network. It also throws light on their divergent mind-set, concerns and attitudes.

“Neither any representative group or any individual appeared before the commission to effectively project the viewpoint of the agriculture power users. However, almost all other consumer groups, who appeared  before the commission, vehemently opposed the supply of free or even concessional power for agriculture.” Are ‘farmer-friendly’ Akalis listening?

The commission almost sounds apologetic when it says:" The commission expects that agriculture power users will not feel greatly hurt in paying the low tariff (arrived at after adjusting government subsidy)..however, any upward revision of this rate in the future (as a result of reduction in cross subsidy or government subsidy) without a significant improvement in the bound to be stoutly opposed..and for ready co-operation of the agriculture power users to tariff hikes in future, the commission will insist on a significant and measurable improvement in the quality of power supplied to agriculture users."

The commission wants that for the next few years the goal should not be “tariff increase” but a steady “rise in productivity and reduction in costs”. The consumers have been asked to bear the cross for this year on account of the tariff hike which was inevitable in view of the poor financial health of the government and the PSEB.

The power sector is managed by a manpower of 91,624. The number of PSEB employees, per million units sold and 1,000 consumers served, are the highest in the country. A majority of objections received by the commission invariably mentioned about the burgeoning manpower, which costs the PSEB Rs 1316.50 crore.

The commission has allowed capitalisation at Rs 1250.13 crore and added a rider- the PSEB must identify surplus staff and re-deploy it to optimum use to improve customer service. Otherwise, the commission will not allow any addition to this cost next year.

The PSEB’s financial health has deteriorated since 1998 due to: free supply to agriculture pump sets and certain units to Scheduled Castes families, provision of 24-hour supply to villages, intermittent and inadequate revision of tariff, incongruent to growth in expenditure and loss of revenue and very little support from government, even for execution of capital works.

The PSEB is required to study the concept of  “Time of Day” tariff and meters and submit a report within three months. Finding merit in the PSEB claim, the commission has suggested to the government to pay Rs 300 crore to the PSEB on account of concessional/free supply of electricity to S Cs and works undertaken on government direction to provide 24- hour supply to villages.

The commission has directed the PSEB to prepare a metering plan for energy audit and reduction in transmission and distribution losses within two months, create energy audit cells within six months and submit reports periodically on this to the commission, introduce compulsory name badges for the field staff in the distribution wings, prepare plans to segregate feeder lines for power to agriculture pump sets and households within three months, replace all defective meters within three months and submit a “consumer charter” within three months, outlining steps to improve quality of service. It, thus, upholds the government view that the PSEB must not pass on its “inefficiencies” to consumers.


‘I took 50 lakh loan from NRI kin’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s long time personal assistant Hardeep Singh today sought to counter the Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s claim of his allegedly amassing property worth Rs 8 crore, admitting he owned property worth Rs 1.3 crore.

Rejecting the Vigilance Bureau’s claim to ‘’implicate’’ him in a corruption case, he gave details of his property as mentioned in his income tax returns for last year to counter the allegation.

Mr Hardeep Singh, who has been associated with Mr Badal since 1977 said he had got Rs 50 lakh as personal loan from NRI relatives and friends to buy properties he held in his name. Most of the transactions, however, had been during the chief ministership of Mr Badal.

He said the property is Sector 19 was bought by his NRI friend, Mr Man Singh Mann from Begowal, from one Mr Bhagat Singh. He said he bought his first house (H. N. 1158, Sector 42-B) in 1992-93 and sold it in 1997-98, earning a profit of Rs 5.39 lakh.

He then bought a house 1070, Sector 21-B in 1997 and sold it, earning a profit of Rs 1.74 lakh in 1998-1999. He took permission for this transaction.

He then bought another property (1289, Sector 42-B) and sold it in the year 2002, earning a profit of Rs 7.5 lakh.

He still owned three properties in his name —SCF 61 Phase II, SAS Nagar worth Rs 28 lakh, 815, 3B1, SAS Nagar, worth Rs 38.4 lakh and SCO 531, Sector 70 worth Rs 61 lakh.

Giving details of his income, he said he had borrowed Rs 39 lakh from a bank, Rs 25 lakh from NRI relatives, Rs 25 lakh from friends, had made a profit of Rs 14.35 lakh from sale of properties, earned 3.89 lakh interest on non-interest payable loan from relatives, Rs 23.16 lakh from rent, Rs 10 lakh from salary, Rs 3 lakh from GPF and Rs 1.3 lakh from his wife who is working with the Punjab Government.

Mr Hardeep Singh said his close relatives were NRIs in the USA and he had transactions with them.

Mr Hardeep Singh is on anticipatory bail till September 21.

He dismissed the allegations of holding 17 accounts, saying a large number of these were held by his wife Mrs Rajinder Kaur.

About the machinery recovered from his house, he said computers and electronic typewriters were of the Shiromani Akali Dal.


Cong trying to rig civic poll: Rinwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Senior leaders of the Punjab BJP led by Mr Brij Lal Rinwa this afternoon submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor to seek the transfer of certain police and civil officers, allegedly working as an “extension” of the ruling Congress in the municipal elections at Rayya, Ajnala and Phagwara.

At a press conference, Mr Rinwa accompanied by two Akali leaders from Rayya, said such officers were not only extending administrative help to ruling party candidates, but also harassing candidates of the Opposition parties such as the SAD and the BJP.

Mr Rinwa said no minister or outsider belonging to the ruling party should be allowed to enter the towns where municipal elections were to be held tomorrow. Paramilitary forces should be deployed at booths in these towns to prevent booth-capturing.

In Rayya, the authorities concerned rejected the nomination papers of five candidates belonging to the Oppositions parties and forced two others to withdraw to pave way for the win of the ruling party candidates. There were 13 seats, out of which seven, a clear majority in the house, had been won by the ruling party with the help of police and civil officers, Mr Rinwa alleged. The BJP President said that officers had been acting at the instance of the Congress MLA, Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa. The BJP had demanded registration of a case against Mr Dimpa for “terrorising” Opposition supporters.

Mr Amrik Singh and Mr Rajinder Singh, both office-bearers of the SAD from Rayya, who were also present, said Mr Dimpa had spread terror in the entire town to ensure the win of his party candidates in the elections. Opposition parties were not given voter lists till the filing of nomination papers were over. Names of a large number of voters of those belonging to the SAD and the BJP were deleted from the electoral rolls. They said there were about 11,500 registered voters in Rayya town, the total population of which was only 12,537. This meant 90 per cent of the population was adults.

Mr Ashok Kumar Lali said he was president of the BJP’s Rayya Mandal for the past two years and had lived in the town for the past 35 years, but the names of his entire family members were deleted from the voter lists.

Mr Rajinder Singh said there was threat to the life of his family from Mr Dimpa. “He is trying to get us implicated in false cases and issuing threats,“ he said.


BJP to launch ‘gaon chalo’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Making "gaon chalo" its slogan, the BJP, obviously dominated by urbanites, has chalked out an extensive programme to reach out to the rural populace, especially in northern states.

The programme has been named as " regional expansion". Before the launching of the programme in the northern states on September 25, the office-bearers of the party from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan and the Union Territory of Chandigarh will hold a two-day conclave from September 11 in Jaipur.

In fact, to implement the " gaon chalo " programme, the country has been divided into five zones. In each zone such conclaves will be held before September 25 to plan the strategy for expansion of the party in the rural sector.

Of course the strategy will differ from state to state because in certain states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal and Rajasthan, the party has a good base in the rural areas.

A team of party officer-bearers from Punjab led by Mr Brij Lal Rinwa will reach Jaipur on September 10. Mr Rinwa told The Tribune that the top leadership of the party from Delhi would also be attending the Jaipur conclave.

The objective of the Jaipur meeting is to " educate" the party office-bearers with regard to " gaon chalo."

Mr Rinwa said that there were about 12,000 villages in Punjab. The BJP would set up a unit of at least five dedicated workers in each village. By the end of the programme, the party would have about 60,000 party activists.

Though the party leadership says that the objective of the campaign is to expand the base of the party at the regional level, the real objective of the party high command appears to mobilise support in these states for the next Lok Sabha elections .

As the BJP has set its eyes on the rural votebank, there is a clear shift in the BJP stand with regard to rural areas. It has begun to issue statements to support the cause of farmers at the national level as well as in states.

Mr Rinwa said that the Congress government in the state had stabbed the farming community in the back by imposing power tariff on the farming sector. Before the elections, the Congress had assured farmers free power supply to tubewells .

Attacking the ruling party further, Mr Rinwa, who was accompanied by party General Secretary, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, said that farmers had been asked to pay sales tax on fertilisers and pesticides.


Poverty drives family to suicide
Hooch claims 3 lives in Budhlada
Tribune News Service

Paron (Mansa), September 7
Gurdeep Singh, a transporter of this village, and five members of his family allegedly committed suicide in this village late last night reportedly after finding it difficult to make both ends meet and to generate enough money to pay the monthly instalments of the truck purchased by him with loan from a finance company.

In another incident hooch claimed three lives in Budhlada town of Mansa district today. About 15 persons, who consumed the spirit, had been hospitalised at Patiala.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, has ordered a magisterial probe into both the incidents. He had also deputed a senior civil official to visit the spots of tragedies.

Those who died after consuming spirit are Chotta Singh, Piara Singh (father and son) and Susa Ram. The district authorities had confirmed only two deaths due to consumption of spirit. A case in this connection has been registered. About 10 days ago, six persons had consuming spirit in Bathinda town.

Though hooch claimed the life of Chotta Singh on September 5, the district administration came to know about the tragedy today when Piara Singh, son of Chotta Singh, also died after consuming spirit. Before the police could take action, the body of Chotta Singh had been cremated

Police sources said Gurdeep Singh first gave poison to his three daughters — Kuljit (13), Sukhjit (11) and Ramandeep (9) — and then administered poison to his 7-year-old son Balkar Singh. After that , he poisoned his wife Malkit Kaur before taking it himself.

Sources added that police came to know about the incident in the morning when a villager reported the matter to police station, Jaurkian. When the police party reached the house of Gurdeep Singh, all were found dead.

Gurdeep Singh was facing an economic crisis and finding it difficult to pay the monthly instalments of the loan taken for a truck. A few months ago, the finance company which had advanced the money for purchasing the truck, seized the vehicle after Gurdeep Singh failed to pay the instalments.

Gurdeep Singh had been under tension and was trying to get the job of a truck driver.

The bodies were taken to Civil Hospital, Sardulgarh, for a postmortem. A case in this connection had been registered in the Jaurkian police station.


No move to replace Rinwa: Jaiswal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
Mr Avinash Jaiswal, a General Secretary of the BJP, said today there was no truth in the reports that Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, would be replaced.

The party in the state was satisfied with the performance of Mr Rinwa and he would complete his tenure till June 2003, Mr Jaiswal said.


12 more gastroenteritis cases
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
Even as the district Health authorities have taken adequate measures to check the spread of gastroenteritis, at least 12 more persons, including eight children, all residents of the Dhobiana Basti locality of the town, suffering from the disease, were admitted to the Civil Hospital today.

Gastroenteritis acquired epidemic dimension in the Dhobiana Basti locality late last evening when as many as 25 inhabitants of it were admitted to the local Civil Hospital after they complained of severe vomiting and loose motions. Of 25 patients, 17 were discharged after treatment a few hours later.

The Civil Hospital authorities pressed special medical teams and an ambulance into service when it came to know abut the outbreak of the disease in the locality mostly inhabited by labourers and daily wage earners.

Patients, who reported in the Civil Hospital here, said they started vomiting and running temperature after they took food and water being supplied to their locality. The condition of those admitted to the Civil Hospital was stated to be stable.

Of 25 patients admitted to the Civil Hospital at least 12 were children. They had been shifted to a hospital for children. Dr Anil Singla, child specialist, said all children were dehydrated when they were brought to the hospital and now their condition was stable.

Sources said gastroenteritis broke out in the area as the inhabitants had been taking contaminated food and water. Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said all hand pumps installed in the locality had been uprooted and new hand pumps would be installed. Chlorine tablets had been distributed among the residents.

The water samples had been taken from the affected locality for chemical examination. The students had been advised to use boiled water and not to use stale food. Potable water was being supplied to them through tankers.

Meanwhile, the state Intelligence authorities have started verifying credentials of the patients and their kin, who claimed themselves to be member of a particular community of West Bengal. The Intelligence authorities suspect they belong to Bangladesh.

Inquiries by TNS revealed that most of those, whose kin had been admitted to the hospital, were working as labourers at the District Administrative Complex (DAC).


Thalassemia patient denied blood
Civil Surgeon comes to his rescue
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
Nitesh Garg (8) who is suffering from thalassemia got a new lease of life with Bathinda Civil Surgeon S.K. Goyal arranging blood for him after it was denied to him by the staff of the blood bank of the hospital, yesterday.

Instead of providing blood free of cost to the patient of thalassemia as per the directions of the Punjab Government, some blood bank staff allegedly demanded bribe from Mr Suresh Pal, father of Nitesh, and when he failed to do the same, the staff members hurled abuses on him.

“After the staff refused to give blood, I contacted some local persons and approached ruling politicians. After facing lot of humiliation and harassment, I succeeded in arranging the blood and saving the life of my son,” pointed out Mr Pal, who has lodged written complaints to Chief Minister, Punjab, and government functionaries concerned.

In the complaint, he alleged that he was abused and maltreated. He added that the blood bank staff members also urged the others not to transfuse the blood to his son if he succeed arranging it.

He alleged that blood unit was not given to him despite the fact that the doctor on duty had given a slip which showed the request made for blood unit.

He demanded that a case should be registered against the guilty staff members.

Dr Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said the staff members, who had misbehaved with Mr Pal and refused to give him blood, had been identified and action would be taken against them after holding an inquiry into his complaint.


Prisoner’s escape: 4 warders suspended
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
Four warders of the high Security Central jail here were suspended after a prisoner admitted in the government run Guru Nanak Dev Hospital for fractured arm disappeared in the wee hours today.

It is a co-incidence that another four warders who had been suspended following the disappearance of another prisoner six months ago, were re-instated yesterday only.

Prisoner Gurjant Singh a resident of Bainka village under Bhikhiwind police station (Tarn Taran district police) was arrested on the charge of dacoity (Section 399, 402 of the Indian Penal Code). He was admitted in the Orthopaedics Department for the treatment of fractured arm. The jail medical officer had recommended emergency treatment for the prisoner so he was taken to hospital on the night of August 28. The sources, in jail, said that there was no emergency for the admission of a person-having fractured arm as he could have been treated the next morning.

In a case of emergency (as recommended by the jail doctor), the jail staff has no option but to admit the patient immediately by providing security of jail warders. In routine case, the jail staff has to seek security from the Punjab police.

At least 10 undertrial prisoners disappeared in the hospitals where they were admitted. Two such prisoners were re-arrested by the Tarn Taran police Manjit Singh, an undertrial who disappeared from the Guru Nanak Hospital in March is still at large.


2 undertrials escape from police custody
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 7
The role of the district police has come under cloud once again, when two undertrials escaped from the custody of the police, after appearing in a local court, outside the judicial complex here on Thursday.

The incident took place when two undertrials — Paramjit Singh and Kuldeep Singh, who were arrested on the charges of committing theft, came out of the judicial complex alongwith the police officials and easily escaped from the place, while pretending to board a police bus, without facing much resistance from the cops.

Though the police personnel tried to chase the undertrials, but it seems that the whole drama was part of a larger conspiracy hatched by the accused police officials to save their skin from a possible departmental action against them.

The district police has suspended ASI Dilbagh Singh and registered a case under Sections 223, 224 of the IPC against the Constables. While Sukhchain Singh was arrested by the police, Balwinder Singh was still at large. This was yet to be established whether Balwinder, who had allegedly facilitated the escape exercise, fled from the place alongwith the undertrials or whether he was hiding out of the fear of strict police action against him.


Theft case: widow, family ‘tortured’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
A widow, her daughter and two sons who were rounded up by the Islamabad police on charges of theft were allegedly tortured and kept in illegal custody for more than 30 hours.

The widow, who has been working as a domestic servant in the house of a lecturer, was picked up by the police yesterday while her daughter was rounded up from another house where she was working as a domestic servant. The two sons of the widow were picked up from the factories where they were working.

The Shakti Mehla, a welfare organisation, alleged that the police had tortured the family for the whole night.

In a complaint lodged with the district police chief, Bimla (16) alleged that an Assistant Sub-Inspector yesterday picked up her mother Seeta Devi (49) from the house of Ms Harpal Kaur of Guru Arjun Dev Nagar where she has been working as a domestic servant. The latter had complained to the police that her jewellery worth Rs 3 lakh had been stolen.

Apart from “torturing” the four, the police also searched their house. Shankar and Bimla — brother and sister — were released today. A senior police officer on the condition of anonymity admitted that no stolen item was found from the widow’s house.


MP asks DC to probe Dalits’ boycott
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
Patiala MP Preneet Kaur today directed Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh to conduct an inquiry into the issue of social boycott of families of Dalit labourers of Moondkhera village after 15 of them left their jobs midway and fled the village besides starting proceedings against the landlords under the Bonded Labour Act.

The Dalit labourers had submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner yesterday claiming that they were still being targeted by the landlords of the village and that both inquiries into the case had not elicited their statements. They had also appealed to the Chief Minister to give them justice on the issue.

Mrs Preneet Kaur disclosed this when her attention was drawn towards the fact that both the two earlier inquiries conducted by officers of the district administration had not associated the affected parties with the inquiries with one of them even exonerating the landlords from being involved in any boycott without visiting the village.

The Patiala MP said she was unaware of the case as she had been in Delhi recently. She said, however, when she came to know about the matter today, she asked the Deputy Commissioner to visit the village himself to ascertain the facts. Earlier, two inquiries had been conducted into the case by Subdivisional Magistrate Manjit Singh Narang and Additional Deputy Commissioner Shiv Dular Singh Dhillon.

The Dalit labourers had submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner yesterday claiming that they were still being targeted by the landlords of the village and that both inquiries into the case had not elicited their statements. They had also appealed to the Chief Minister to give them justice on the issue.

Meanwhile senior Akali leader and former minister Dalip Singh Pandhi today urged the district administration to take ‘’assertive steps’’ on the issue of boycott of the Dalit labourers of the village. He said it was surprising that the district administration was trying to deliberately deny the incident despite the fact that landlords of the village had given interviews on television admitting the village panchayat had taken a decision to socially boycott families of Dalit labourers who had fled the village after leaving their jobs midway as they allegedly owed huge sums to the landlords. He said it was surprising that two inquiries had not yielded anything on the issue.


Licence period of arhtiyas increased
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
Addressing a conference of the Federation of Arhtiya Associations of Punjab, Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh today said distributing cheques directly to the farmers or procuring produce from them without involving the commission agents was not possible.

Mr Lal Singh said henceforth the Mandi Board licence would be valid for five years and foodgrain licence for seven years. He said commission agents would also be exempt from appearing in the sales tax office for annual cases and that summary assessments submitted by them would be accepted by the sales tax office.

Mr Lal Singh said the demand of the arhtiyas regarding giving representation to their leaders in advisory committees of food and sales tax and district and state grievances committees would be put before the Chief Minister as also the case of nominating two arhtiyas on the Mandi Karan Board.

Association president Bal Krishan Singla demanded the rationalisation of the licence renewal system. He feared that issuing cheques directly to farmers would create chaos in the state and increase corruption. He said commission agents had given loans of Rs 5600 crore to farmers in the state compared to loans worth Rs 3700 crore from government sources. He also demanded that the commission on pulses and oil seeds should be increased to 2.5 per cent.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur said the demands of the commission agents would be forwarded to the Chief Minister for favourable consideration. She said the Chief Minister could not attend the meeting because he was suffering from food poisoning since yesterday after partaking of some packed food.


Former minister released from jail
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 7
Mr Upinder Sharma, a former Punjab Minister of Law and Jails, who was sentenced to life in a murder case was released from the district jail today following the decision of the Punjab and Haryana Court on September 4 acquitting him of all charges and setting aside the orders of the District and Sessions Judge, Faridkot, delivered on July 26 last year here. Senior district Congress leaders, workers and his well-wishers received him at the jail gate. Later they brought him in procession to his residence. The District Congress Committee distributed sweets. Mr Upinder Sharma said that truth had prevailed and he always had great regard for judiciary. The former minister also praised AICC president, Ms Sonia Gandhi and Punjab Chief Minister Cap Amarinder Singh who he said stood by him during critical days and did not relieve him of general secretaryship of the PPCC despite pressure from some quarters. He thanked the AICC for allocating party ticket to his daughter Vibha Sharma from the Kot Kapura constituency in the last Assembly election in Punjab and the voters who supported her.

While the cavalcade of Mr Upinder Sharma along with the former Cooperative Minister, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar was passing through Kot Kapura town on July 7, ’92, some BJP workers gheraoed them and body guard of the Congress minister opened fire on the mob killing Raj Kumar Garg and injuring seven other workers at the instance of Mr Sharma. However, he (Mr Sharma) was absolved of all charges mentioned in the FIR following an inquiry by the Subdivisional Magistrate and the Deputy Superintendent of Police. Later, Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, a brother of the deceased filed a complaint in the District and Sessions Court for justice. After hearing the case the District and Sessions Court had sentenced him to life.


Recruitment rally reveals decline in physical standards
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
Physical and medical tests being conducted by the Army authorities at the ongoing recruitment rally here have revealed an alarming decline in the physical standards of Punjabi youths from a region considered a priority area.

Approximately 3,500 candidates had been shortlisted for screening, of which only about 350 managed to clear the physical tests. About 40 per cent reportedly failed in the medical tests.

Expressing concern over the situation, the Deputy Director-General, Recruiting (Punjab and J&K), Brig Ajay Pahwa said, “Earlier of 6,000 aspirants we were able to get around 1,000 physically fit. Today the figure is down to about 500.”

The recruitment is being conducted for youths belonging to districts of Ferozepore, Faridkot, Moga, Mansa, Muktsar and Bathinda.

Poor physical fitness has been attributed to malnutrition, which is widely prevalent in the region. Another major reason is widespread use of narcotics.


Retired cops offer to do J&K poll duty
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
Even as government officials have refused to go on poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir, the Punjab Police Pensioners Welfare Association has offered to do the duty.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sukhdev Singh Chinna, a retired SP and chairman of the association, said at least 500 members of the association were ready to perform the poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir. In a communication to the Director-General of Police, Mr Chinna said the members of the association could be called for any duty which the Punjab police deemed fit. A similar offer had come from Mr Rattan Singh, a retired DSP and chairman of Tarn Taran united the association.


Water blockage leads to bridge collapse
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 7
A 72-feet-long bridge on the Ferozepore feeder canal near Makhu on Ferozepore Makhu road collapsed today following a blockage in the flow of water. However, no casualties have been reported. The water flow has been immediately reduced to 3,000 cusecs as against the total capacity of 9,000 cusecs in the canal that caters to major portions of Rajasthan.

Mr D.K. Tiwari, Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore said the flow of water was disrupted due to the accumulation of water plants (hyacinth etc.) just below the bridge. The support pillars, under the bridge, got washed away with the fast flow of water following an increase in the release of water from the past couple of days.


BKU (E) men stage dharna, block traffic
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 7
Activists of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta), BKU (E), have been on a dharna on the Gaushala road here since yesterday. They are claiming compensation for the failure of the narma crop of Bant Singh, a farmer of Mirpur village in the district, last year. They alleged that the crop had failed due to the supply of inferior quality pesticides by M/s Gurshakti Trading Company, and local insecticide dealer.

Addressing the dharna, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary of the state unit of the BKU (E), said the narma crop on 25 acres of the farmer had been destroyed. He said the dealer had agreed to pay compensation at the rate of 4 quintals of narma per acre to the farmer in the presence of the village panchayat, but later refused to honour the promise.

Traffic on the Gaushala road was blocked today by the activists.

Meanwhile, in a press note issued here today Mr Tarsem Chand Midha, president, Punjab Seed Pesticide and Fertiliser Dealers Association, said here that the farmer had purchased the pesticide on credit from the dealer and the dealer was not at fault.


CPM protest against police
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 7
Hundreds of CPM workers yesterday held a demonstration against what they termed as partisan attitude of the police.

Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon, Mr Jagtar Singh, Mr Baldev Singh and other CPM leaders addressing the workers which included a number of women workers of the party condemned the local police for registering a case under Section 452 of the IPC against 18 farm labourers of Pandori Gola village, two months ago at the behest of Congress leaders and a former Punjab minister. The behaviour of the Sadar Police Station SHO was also decried for maltreating an old villager of Bagrian. The workers also staged a dharna in front of the office of the SSP and a memorandum presented to higher police authorities.


Baba Farid Society to give honesty awards
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 7
The annual awards for honesty and social service instituted by the Baba Farid Society, Faridkot, would be given on September 23.

Mr Inderjeet Singh, office-bearer of the society, in a press note issued today said, the award for honesty in judicial services would be given to Mr Beant Singh, retired Sessions Judge and presently the Chairman, Consumer Forum, Chandigarh. The other recipient of the award would be Mr Gurdev Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, Ferozepore. The Honesty Awards (general) would be given to Mr Harbhajan Singh Deol, a former member, Punjab Public Service Commission, and rickshaw puller in Batala Jaswant Singh.

Bhagat Puran Singh Awards for Social Service would be given to Dr Inderjeet Kaur, Chairperson, Pingalwara, Amritsar, and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP and President, Lok Bhalai Party.

The award carries a “siropa”, a “dauahala”, a citation and Rs 51,000 in cash. The awards would be given at Gurdwara Godri Sahib, Faridkot.


Central team visits canal sites
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
A Central Water Commission team today inspected the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) system, remodelled for the first time since Independence, in the border belt (Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts).

The team comprising of Mr T.K. Sandhu and Mr V.K. Sharma, Director and Deputy Director of the Central Water Commission respectively also inspected the construction of cross regulators on the main line of UBDC and renovation of canal rest houses. The team also checked the tail gauge of various distributaries and minors. They thoroughly inspected the condition of the Madhowork headworks and its allied structures and suggested for its immediate rehabilitation.


Round-the-clock power for hospital
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 7
Renovation work for the Civil Surgeon’s office at Patiala will be completed shortly and round-the-clock electricity supply will be provided to the Civil Hospital at Ghanaur.

This was stated by Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Public Health Minister, after inaugurating a free eye camp at Ghanaur, near here, today.

The minister opined that such camps should be held at the village.


Punsup inspectors denied bail

Moga, September 7
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Moga, Mr J.K. Mattu has rejected the bail plea of Punsup inspectors Daljit Singh and Surinder Nath Sani who were arrested yesterday by the Vigilance Bureau, Ferozepore. PTI


Dry day in Phagwara today
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 7
It will be a dry day in the town tomorrow on account of the Nagar Council poll. An order of the District Magistrate, Mr Rakesh Verma, said that no liquor will be sold or served at shops, hotels, clubs and restaurants here. The DM had also promulgated prohibitory areas under Section 144 CrPc within the local municipal limit till September 8 banning carrying of fire-arms, weapons, explosives and ammunition in general public here, in view of tomorrow’s poll.

Meanwhile, polling parties were despatched today to all 26 wards for the poll tomorrow.


Names for grievances panels sent
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 7
Names for appointments to the grievances redressal committees at the district and tehsil levels have been sent to the government and soon a team would be formed.

This was stated by Mrs Seema Jain, Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, while talking to mediapersons here today. She said that she had directed the officials of the district that till the formation of the team they had to take out time to listen to the grievances of the public and redress the problems on a time-bound basis. She said the issue of starting the midday meal in government primary schools in the district was being discussed.


Killer of 12 cabbies held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
The city police today arrested Sukhjinder Singh, who is allegedly involved in the killing of 12 taxi drivers and had been evading arrest for the past three years.

The district police chief, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, said the police had been on the lookout of this killer who had been operating in Amritsar, Ludhiana, Pathankot, Delhi and Rajasthan areas.

A stolen Maruti car, one AK-47 assault rifle and 20 cartridges were seized from him. The SSP said the accused used to hire Tata Sumo taxis and other vehicles, kill the driver after drugging him and throw the body of his victim into a river.

Then he would sell the vehicle by changing its registration numbers.


Pregnant woman raped
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
An eight-month pregnant woman, who was found near the Jandiala police station last evening, said she had been sold and raped a number of times. She was not in a position to talk to the correspondent who met her at the Civil Hospital here today.

Certain persons allegedly raped her last evening and left her near the police station. The police later admitted her to the Civil Hospital here. The doctors attending her said her condition was stable.

Frightened and finding it hard to speak she said she was sold by her husband to persons residing in Lucknow, Agra, Meerut and Punjab. She alleged that she was forced into the flesh trade and her buyers used to beat her brutally.


Man held for issuing fake letters
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
A cheat, Varinder Singh, was arrested for issuing fake appointment letters for employment in the Army as bus conductors at Pathankot. A resident of Dalhousie, Varinder had issued computerised appointment and selection letters to gullible persons by charging them even up to Rs 70,000 per appointment.

His activities came to light when four duped persons of Pathankot and nearby areas namely, Dev Anand, Manohar Singh, Shamsher Singh and Manjit Singh reported the matter to the police. Varinder was booked under Section 420 of the IPC at the Pathankot police station here yesterday.


ASI booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
The district police has registered an FIR against an Assistant Sub-Inspector for releasing a car thief after allegedly taking bribe. About 0.5 kg of smack and one AK-47 were also seized in separate incidents here today.

On the complaint of the CIA staff the Islamabad police has booked ASI Ranjit Singh, Gurbax Nagar police post, for allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 30,000 for releasing a car thief, Kanwaljit Singh of Wadala, Majitha police district in May. In the FIR a CIA officer stated that the accused had demanded Rs 50,000 from Kanwaljit for releasing him.


DIET students gherao minister
Tribune Reporters

Samana, September 7
As many as 375 students of the Nabha DIET Students Welfare Association of Patiala district under the leadership of the president of the association, Satnam Singh Palla, gheraoed Mr S. Lal Singh, Finance and Food Supplies Minister Punjab at the Bhakra Bridge on the Samana-Patiala Road yesterday.

He was gheraoed for about 10 minutes. The minister asked the office-bearers of the association to meet him later and thereafter they went to the residence of Mr Raj Kumar Verma, President of the Press Club, Samana, where the minister was already talking to the media. A memorandum containing some of their demands was presented to the minister. They urged that the NPE Policy of education which was announced in 1986 should be implemented properly.

ROPAR: Students of the local District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) here today held to demonstration by raising slogans against the Punjab Government. They have been demanding the withdrawal of the New Education Policy-2002 framed by the Punjab government.

The students said the new education policy would mar their job prospects in a big way as it had lowered the age limit to 32 years from the existing 42 years to get ETT job and had made two-year internship compulsory for every ETT student, thereby making the ETT a four-year course.

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