Tuesday, September 10, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Voluntary disclosure scheme in offing
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
A voluntary disclosure scheme for one-time settlement of violation of building bylaws within the municipal limits is on the anvil in Punjab. This has been drafted on the premise that if financial institutions and banks can have a one-time settlement scheme to recover outstanding loans, why not give a breather to the violators of building bylaws in the urban areas.

The Punjab Local Government Department has decided to introduce a one-time voluntary disclosure of violation of building bylaws scheme in the four municipal corporation cities — Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala.

The proposal to introduce such a scheme will come up before a three-member Cabinet subcommittee constituted by the Chief Minister on September 11. The committee members are Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh and Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, who would be assisted by the Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra, Principal Secretary (Finance) K.R. Lakhanpal and Secretary, (Local Government) Sarvesh Kaushal.

The violation of building bylaws, say sources, has resulted in chaotic congestion in the four aforesaid cities, besides contributing to their unplanned, haphazard growth that has outpaced the process of urbanisation, town planning, architecture and scientific growth. Not only over 13,000 violations have been detected in the recent past in these four cities but several unauthorised colonies have also been identified, making these urban conglomerations almost unhabitable. That these places stink is another story. To top this urban chaos, the Local Government Department went into a shock to find that even the notices served on 13,000 violators had gone missing, obviously in connivance with or collusion of the municipal staff. That scandal of gigantic proportions is being probed separately at a different level, say sources.

In the agenda note circulated by Mr Kaushal, the committee has been explicitly told that nearly 50 per cent of the identified, classified and categorised violations pertain to ‘’non-compoundable’’ building violations and colonies, where demolitions are required. If the government is to resort to this mode, it will create serious law and order problems, as thousands of residential, commercial, industrial and institutional buildings and premises would be involved. Second, there will be a public outcry against intrusion into their privacy by the civic authority.

The Local Government Department has proposed that the Cabinet subcommittee should approve a one-time settlement through voluntary disclosure of violations and also prescribe compounding charges, penalty or acts and bylaws etc. required to be amended. The problem has several dimensions because some other agencies are also involved in urban development and planning. For instance, PUDA. sources say, is neither making authorised colonies nor challenging unauthorised ones.

The proposal before the subcommittee, therefore, is that a 30-day notice be issued for voluntary disclosure of violations and thereafter appropriate compounded charges, penalty etc. imposed. This would also mean making suitable amendments to the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act, 1976 and the Punjab Municipal Act, 1911, and their related, relevant bylaws.

In fact, the Local Government Department is facing a lot of flak as well as problems in respect of lack of parking areas in these cities. There have also been court cases in this regard.

Beginning with the four Municipal Corporation cities, the plan, if successful, will be extended to smaller towns.


Congress wins in Muktsar too
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 9
The way has been cleared for the Congress to run the local municipal council as its candidates have won 12 seats out of a total of 22 seats, the elections to which were held yesterday. Congress candidate Krishan Kumar has already been declared elected unopposed from Ward No 18.

Though the result of Ward No 3 is yet to be declared as the Deputy Commissioner has recommended repoll in booth No 6, the Congress has secured a majority in the 23-member House. Independents won in seven municipal council wards while the candidates of Sanjha Mohaj could win in only three though they were backed by different Akali Dals and MLA Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar.

According to information, the following are the ward-wise results: Ward No 1 — Ms Hardeep Kaur (Independent); Ward No 2 — Mr Harbhagwan Singh (Congress); Ward No 4 — Ms Surjeet Kaur (Congress); Ward No 5 — Mr Jagdeep Singh Kaka (Independent); Ward No 5 — Mr Vakil Chand Dabra (Congress); Ward NO 7 — Ms Gurwinder Kaur (Congress); Ward No 8 — Mr Nachhattar Singh (Congress); Ward No 9 — Mr Chandgi Ram (Congress); Ward No 10 — Ms Gurdeep Kaur (Independent); Ward No 11 — Mr Mangat Ram Sharma (Congress); Ward No 12 — Mr Dharam Chand (Independent); Ward No 13 — Mrs Kavita Sukhija (Congress); Ward No 14 — Mr Gurbax Singh (Independent); Ward No 15 — Mr Gurinder Singh Pohli (Independent); Ward No 16 — Mrs Santosh Rani (Congress); Ward No 17 Mr Sat Pal Pathela (Sanjha Mohaj); Ward No 19 — Ms Reena Rani Bhatia (Sanjha Mohaj); Ward No 20 — Mr Raman P.K. (Independent); Ward No 21 — Mr Sat Pal Bansal (Congress); in Ward No 22 — Ms Neelam Rani Dua (Sanjha Mohaj); and Ward No 23 — Dr Gurmeet Singh (Congress).

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Mr Charanjeev Channa, Ms Anita Takyar and Mr Yash Pal Lahoria have been unanimously elected President, Senior Vice-President and Vice-President, respectively, of the Shirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council here on Monday. All three were supported by the local minister, Dr Harbans Lal. Ms Takyar has taken charge of the acting President of the council.


Judicial remand for Baba Daduwal, seven disciples
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
Sant Baba Baljit Singh Daduwal, head of Daduwal Sahib Gurdwara, who along with his seven disciples was booked in a criminal case last evening, today alleged that the case was slapped against him by the police at the instance of some vested interests who instigated people against the Sikh religion.

Baba Baljit Singh and his seven disciples were remanded in judicial custody till September 21 by Mr H.S. Dhaliwal, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, when the former were produced in his court at 8 am today. Baba Baljit Singh alleged that the complainant was ready for a compromise but the SP (City), Mr Nilabh Kishore, opposed it.

He alleged that Mr Jagsir Singh, the complainant, had been making derogatory remarks against Sikhism. When he objected to it and tried to persuade him to avoid making such remarks, he was booked in a criminal case along with seven others.

At the police station, one of his disciples was slapped by police officials while another was also treated roughly. The police was acting under pressure from a sect which had been preaching against Sikhism, he said, adding that the case against him and others was registered by the police to malign his image. Even the allegations by Mr Jagsir Singh were levelled under pressure from the police.

A case under Sections 341, 365, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC was registered against Baba Baljit Singh, who commands considerable influence among the Sikhs and Hindus, late last evening on the complaint of Mr Jagsir Singh, a resident of Tungawali village, who was once a close associate of Baba Baljit Singh. On recovery of a .12 bore gun from them, a case under Section 25 of the Arms Act was also registered against Baba Baljit Singh and his seven disciples.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City), while denying all allegations levelled against him by Baba Baljit Singh, said he had taken action against the latter and others as per the law.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said Baba Baljit Singh and his associates were handed over to the police by the Army authorities. The latter caught Baba Baljit Singh and others when they were chasing the complainant, Mr Jagsir Singh, carrying swords in the military area.

The SSP said all religious norms were taken care of when Baba Baljit Singh, along with seven others, was arrested. The case was being investigated. The police had nothing to do with the allegation of Baba Baljit Singh that a false case had been registered against them as they were handed over to the police by a third agency.

Meanwhile, the police authorities, apprehending disturbance to the law and order situation, produced Baba Baljit Singh at the house of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Dhaliwal, at 8 am today though 24 hours were yet to be elapsed after their arrest.

According to a report, Baba Baljit Singh was admitted to the local Civil Hospital later today.

Leaders of different Akali Dals, including Mr Gursewak Singh Jawahar Ke, president SAD (Amritsar), Mansa district and Mr Tehal Singh Sandhu, member, PPCC, condemned the police action.


Badal’s secretary questioned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Mr Hardeep Singh Bamra, official Personal Secretary of the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today joined the investigation in a case registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau pertaining to his assets alleged to be disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Informed sources said Mr Bamra appeared before the Superintending of Police of the Bureau this morning. He was accompanied by five advocates. The bureau has reportedly asked him to furnish all his previous income tax returns and his permanent account number (PAN). The bureau has also reportedly sought his returns from the Income Tax department.

Sources said Mr Bamra told the bureau that he would supply the returns and PAN tomorrow. The bureau authorities have instructed him to bring only one advocate along while appearing before them.

Bureau officials reportedly did not question Mr Bamra about Mr Badal. Bureau officials say that “so far no query has been posed to Mr Bamra regarding Mr Badal”.

The bureau in its possession has two passports — one of Mr Badal and other of his wife — that were found while conducting a search of Mr Bamra’s house. As these have become case property, these can be taken back by the Badal’s through the court, according to bureau officials. Meanwhile, the bureau said it had found heavy transactions in Mr Bamra, his wife and son’s bank accounts since 1997. For instance, there were transactions of Rs 1.26 crore in the bank account of Mr Bamra.

The bureau has written to at least 400 bank branches in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Chandigarh and Delhi for intimation in case there is any account number in the name of Mr Bamra, his wife and other family members.

The bureau officials said they “stand by their first statement that Mr Bamra’s property was above Rs 8 crore.”


No decision on Badungar: Badal
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 9
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has yet to make up its mind to renominate Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the SGPC, for the next term. Elections to the body are to be held on November 30.

The matter would be decided in consultation with SGPC members. This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister and supremo of the party, while talking to the media at the residence of the local MLA, Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, here yesterday.

Lashing out at Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), who was trying to ‘take control of’ the SGPC with the help of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the SAD chief said his party SGPC members would not allow Mr Tohra and his coterie to fulfil their evil designs.

Mr Badal charged Mr Tohra with mobilise funds of the SGPC during his 25-year tenure as head of the SGPC.

Mr Badal, was here to mobilise party workers for participation in district-level dharnas being staged by the party in the state from September 11 against the Congress government’s failure to protect the interests of various sections.

He demanded that a judicial commission headed by a working judge with the consent of the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court be constituted to ‘expose’ the entire truth about the corruption charges levelled against his party leaders.

Addressing the workers, Mr Badal called upon the people to start a ‘lok lehr’ to oust the present government which had not fulfilled even one of its many promises made to the people in its poll manifesto.

Among other speakers who addressed the meeting were Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, former Agriculture Minister, and Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon. Mr Badal also addressed similar meetings at Kotkapura and Panj Grian in this district.


Badal ‘expecting’ his arrest

Moga, September 9
Shiromani Akali Dal president Parkash Singh Badal said today that he was “expecting” his arrest “anytime” by the Vigilance Bureau and said he was always “ready to go to the jail”.

“I will not apply for pre-arrest bail, rather I will prefer going to jail,” he said in reply to a question while addressing mediapersons at Baghapurana in the district.

Mr Badal said there was no truth in the allegations of “Chief Minister Amarinder Singh that I own property worth Rs 3,500 crore. I will renounce politics if such a charge is established,” he said.

He said the Vigilance Bureau had failed to detect anything “wrong” on his part, alleging that it was SHSAD president and form SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra and former Assembly speaker Ravinder Pal Singh “who were pressing the Chief Minister to put me behind the bars”. PTI


Coal supply to plants picks up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9
Transportation of coal to three thermal plants of the PSEB picked up today following a representation given to the Railways by the Member, Transmission, Mr H.S. Sahai, during his visit to Delhi.

Sources said the Ropar thermal plant had received its normal quota of six rakes and the Lehra Mohabbat and Bathinda plants, which normally received two rakes each, had received three rakes each.

The sources said the Railways had shown this “magnanimity” due to the visit of Mr Sahai even though the Railways had not been paid its dues which had mounted to around Rs 510 crore, according to the Railways, and Rs 265 crore, according to the PSEB. Though the board had tried to mollify the freight carrier authorities by releasing Rs 30 crore to it, the Railways reduced supply of coal to plants, particularly to the Bathinda plant.

Mr Sahai had submitted a proposal to the Railways in which the board had assured it to clear its dues by December end. The PSEB has projected that its freight bill will accumulate to the tune of Rs 510 crore by December end. Under the proposal the board has committed to pay Rs 70 crore in September, Rs 200 crore in October, Rs 145 crore in November and Rs 110 crore in December, the sources added.

Mr Sahai said though the Railways had rejected the proposal initially at meetings held with senior officers, the board still hoped that it would be reconsidered by the Railway Board. He said, meanwhile, the board had also decided to keep the coal stock in reserve at all three thermal plants. He said this decision had been taken to save money during the present financial crunch.


Markfed, cops differ on wheat theft
Varinder Walia & Gurbax Puri

Tarn Taran, September 9
Markfed — Asia’s biggest cooperative venture and the Tarn Taran police have different versions on the pilferage of wheat from Markfed godowns.

The police here already registered a case under Sections 420, 409, 379 of the IPC on July 26, 2002 against the manager of Markfed depot here, Mr Ajaib Singh Sandhu, inspector Om Parkash Puri and two of the “touts” Rakesh Kumar and Dharmpal for the pilferage of wheat during its loading in trains. The police alleges that Markfed officials adopted a novel method to steal wheat during the weighing of bags. Wheat bags used to be allegedly soaked with water to increase weight to steal food grains from every bag. This allegedly made the wheat stock unfit for human consumption. The Markfed officials would weigh the bags which had less weight at the time of unloading the stock. Doing so Markfed officials would calculate the average weight of the bag on the basis of the bag weighed earlier.

The police, had arrested all Markfed officials and seized 800 bags with Markfed emblem from a flour mill at Amritsar.

A fact-finding committee of Markfed comprising Mr T. R. Kurich, Mr Deepak Kumar and Mr Paramjit Singh was sent to Tarn Taran for physical verification of stock on July 31.

The committee had given a clean chit to the Markfed officials stating that no theft of wheat had taken place. The team also mentioned that during physical verification Markfed stock tallied with the balance sheet of the department. Two members of the team had recorded their statements in the court of Additional Sessions Judge, Mr G. S. Sra saying that no theft had taken place in Markfed depot at Tarn Taran.

However, Mr Narinder Bhargav, district police chief, said that Markfed wanted to hush up the case by giving a clean chit to its officials arrested after the recovery of stock from a flour mill.

Mr Bhargav claimed that during investigation the alleged culprits had admitted that they had stolen wheat. He said the case had been given to the Vigilance Bureau for further verification. He said senior officials of Markfed could also fall in the Vigilance net as the ‘scam’ would run into crores of rupees. The scam unearthed by the Tarn Taran police is just the tip of the ice-berg as the alleged accused had admitted that they used to give a share of pilfered stock to their seniors. They also had admitted that their (Markfed officials) property was disproportionate to their known sources of income.


Fraud case: DGP joins issue with department
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 9
Ignoring the orders of the Joint Secretary, Local Government, the Director-General of Police-cum-Director of the Vigilance Bureau, Chandigarh, has again proposed stringent action against the guilty officials of the local municipal corporation who were charge-sheeted for conniving to divest Mr Kanwarjit Singh Sabharwal of his property and allowing an illegal shopping complex to be built.

In a communication to the Under Secretary, Local Government, dated August 2, the DGP has proposed stern departmental action against corporation officials of the town planning (TP) wing who had given permission for the construction of the shopping complex.

The case of the illegal shopping complex has been hanging fire for the past eight years and relates to a commercial site worth crores in the heart of the city. The sanction for the site plan was allegedly granted without verifying the ownership, location and dimensions of the property.

A subsequent Vigilance inquiry into the case in 1994 proved the allegations to be true and detected connivance of two alleged “fake owners” who had submitted the site plan of the complex. Before it could be sanctioned, they started construction. On being served a demolition notice, the guilty party admitted its fault in raising an unauthorised construction and further prayed for compounding. The “owners” then deposited the money for compounding to legitimise their ownership and got sanction for their building plan.

Subsequently, Mr Sabharwal, the real owner of the property, filed a complaint against the “fraud”. A Vigilance inquiry found the allegations to be true and the corporation served a show-cause notice to file a criminal complaint against the fake owners.

Later the corporation wrote to the Local Government about the “revocation of order of compounding” and registration of a criminal complaint after disclosures about the alleged malafide intentions in grabbing the property was evident from report of the Vigilance Bureau.

Instead, the Joint Secretary, Local Government, in a letter to the Commissioner of the corporation last year, stated, “Revocation of compounding/compromise along with another notice of registration of criminal complaint against the accused is ‘not confirmed’ by the government”.


Vigilance report on irregularities in appointments soon
Bipin Bhardwaj

Dera Bassi, September 9
The vigilance wing of the Department of Local Government of Punjab is likely to submit the inquiry report regarding alleged irregularities in the recruitment of employees in various sections of the local municipal council.

Following complaints by Opposition councillors, the department had constituted a vigilance committee comprising Mr V.K. Singla, Senior Vigilance Officer, and Mr Neeraj Bhatti, Vigilance Officer, to inquire into the alleged irregularities in recruitment.

Sources in the department revealed that 28 employees, including three on contractual basis, were recruited by the local body authorities in February, 1999. The selection committee had allegedly committed several irregularities in the selection of firemen, drivers, clerks, stenos and peon.

The vigilance team had recently seized records of the civic body pertaining to the recruitment of firemen (15), leading firemen (2), drivers (4), regular clerks (2), steno (1), three clerks and a peon (all on contractual basis). All of them were recruited during the period of the Akali government.

The selection committee had recruited four persons, two firemen, including a woman, an octroi clerk and a peon, having links to a municipal councillor of the ruling party.

The civic body had recruited more employees against the advertised posts in different sections of the civic body. The selection committee, chaired by the president of the civic body, had indulged in nepotism and kin of the municipal councillor were given preference over others, sources claimed.

In some cases, the authorities had recruited candidates on contractual basis although they had applied against regular posts. These candidates had neither applied for the contractual posts nor they were present at the time of the interview, highly placed sources in the department said.

Sources said the vigilance team had recorded statements of some of the then officials, including Mr Harminder Pal Singh Bhullar, Additional Divisional Fire Officer of the Dera Bassi Municipal Council, while statements of the then Executive Officer Mr D.S. Sandhu, president, Mr Jagjit Singh Dalli, a member of the selection committee, and Mr Sardari Lal were yet to be recorded.

It is learnt that in his statement, Mr Harminder Pal Singh Bhullar has said that he was pressurised by a senior Akali leader to make some appointments ignoring the selection criteria in case of firemen.


Vigilance raids on Forest Dept offices
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 9
The Vigilance Bureau today raided the offices of Forest Department at Ferozepore, Zira and Jalalabad reportedly following instructions from Bureau’s Chief Directorates office.

Sources in the Vigilance Bureau Mrs Anita Punj, SP, Vigilance, Ferozepore Range led the operation following instructions from the head office. It was brought to the notice of the Bureau Chief Directorate office that hundreds of employees in the Forest Department working on daily wages basis were not paid salary for the past few months despite allocation of the funds.

Officials of the Forest Department allegedly embezzled funds received for Rs 400 crore afforestation project aided by Japan. For this project, the officials of the department had recruited hundreds of employees on daily wages basis during the previous SAD-BJP government but no records were maintained of official work.

Today vigilance raids in three sub-divisions of the Ferozepore district are seen as an exercise of secret investigations against former Punjab Forest Minister Surjit Kumar Jayanti of the BJP who hails from this district.


SAD not to be part of Akali unity
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
A formal move to ‘isolate’ former Punjab Chief Minister and President of SAD Parkash Singh Badal from the Sikh Panth, was initiated by different Akali dals by launching a campaign for the Panthic unity here yesterday.

Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, Convener, Panthic Morcha, talking to mediapersons, after a seminar said that he would continue to work for uniting various Akali dals and the seminar was the start of a series of programmes in this connection. Similar seminars would be organised across the state and rallies and public meetings to familiarise people with the ideology of the morcha would also be held.

He said unity amongst various Akali dals was possible, but Mr Badal would not be part of it. He said a constitution of the morcha would be drafted so as to keep the values of democracy, honesty, and transparency intact. The tenure of the party president would be fixed and no leader would be allowed to re-contest the post, he added.

Replying to a question, he said the people of the state had not voted for the Congress, but had voted in favour of Capt Amarinder Singh, whom he termed a devout Sikh.

Those who spoke at the seminar included, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, Capt Harchand Singh, Sant Mukhtiar Singh, Sant Baljeet Singh, Mr Gurdeep Singh and many other senior leaders of the morcha. The seminar was well attended.


NAC poll: SGPC men in soup
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, a Congress MLA and general secretary all-India Youth Congress, said his party would move the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC), against SGPC employees who took part in the notified area committee elections at Rayya yesterday.

Mr Dimpa claimed that he had got the photographs showing employees of Gurdwara Baba Bakala at the election camps. He further alleged that langar was held violating SGPC bylaws.

However, Mr Manjinder Singh Kang, a senior Akali leader, refuted the charges. He said Mr Dimpa had been levelling allegations to divert attention from the large-scale bogus voting during the NAC election.


Cong workers burn Jaya’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
Hundreds of workers of the Congress burnt an effigy of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Ms Jayalalithaa, at the Sadbhavana Chowk here today in protest against her derogatory remarks against the AICC President, Ms Sonia Gandhi.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Pawan Kumar Mani, spokesman, DCC, said later at a meeting held under the presidentship of Mr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, Congress workers were urged to mobilise activities for the coming municipal council elections here and in other towns of the district.


Sena to contest 14 seats in J&K
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
The Shiv Sena will contest 14 Assembly seats in Jammu and Kashmir. The party will contest on its own.

Disclosing this here today, the party in charge for the northern states, Lieut-Gen P.N. Hoon (retd) said his party stood for certain principles and it was not going to compromise on these.

General Hoon criticised the National Conference government in Jammu and Kashmir for its failure to deliver all these years”. The government had not done enough to contain terrorism in the state, he added.


Dayal is Punjab CPI Secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Dr Joginder Dayal has been unanimously elected Secretary of the Punjab CPI for three years, a party spokesman said here today.

The election was held at a three-day delegate session held at Sangrur from September 5 to 7. As many as 240 delegates took part in the session.

Mr Jagroop Singh and Mr Bant Singh Brar were elected Assistant Secretaries.


Be a crorepati — open a travel agency
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Want to mint money, say Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 crore per annum, without doing almost nothing? If yes, be an agent or sub-agent of a well-oiled conglomerate, run by dozens of “unscrupulous but powerful travel agents” based in Delhi or a foreign country, base yourself in a village or township in the Doaba region and successfully entice thousands of young foreign aspirants, each of whom is ready to pay anything from Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh for “permanent” settlement abroad.

This is no mere estimation. Official figures show that nearly 15,000 youth from Doaba and other parts of Punjab go to the USA. Canada and other Western countries annually — most of them with the help of people based in different villages, who act as sub-agents or conduits of certain Delhi or foreign based “travel agents”, running the flourishing “human cargo” business. The most popular method among young aspirants for settling in a country of their choice is to first intentionally misplace his or her original travel document and then apply for fresh travel documents through embassies of different countries. The widespread use of this method, mostly after being suggested by unscrupulous agents, is evident from heaps of national status verification queries — forwarded by embassies of different countries to the local Regional Passport Office and the police authorities. And the number of those people who had ‘‘lost’’ their travel documents during their foreign trip has been on the rise during all these years.

The RPO authorities, official sources revealed, received about 5,500 verification queries during past one year, which were routed by the RPO to the police authorities for the purpose. On the other hand, the office received about 625 such queries in 1999, followed by 582 and 632 during 2000 and 2001 respectively. The rise in number, of course, is mind boggling. “Though not all are wrong. But most who apply for a fresh passport intentionally misplace their travel documents so as to feign that they had not gone to that country through some illegal channel or were on a short visit as they had been accorded a visitor’s visa,” said an official adding that most such people act on advice given to them by their travel agents.

According to official estimate, this way, people who work as sub-agents of those indulging in the human cargo racket, mop up about Rs 1,000 crore per year since they charge an amount of Rs 10 lakh to Rs 15 lakh and since the number of people actually landing in certain Western countries are estimated to be twice those who apply for fresh travel documents. “Actually if, on an estimate, 5,000 people apply for a fresh passport from abroad, the same number of people are those who either don’t apply for fresh passport or those who, had paid the money to travel agents in India, but had failed to get through”, said a senior official associated with the verification process.

The Regional Passport Officer, Mr Amarjit Singh, was not available, but police officials, however, admitted that the most favoured destinations were the USA and Canada and those indulging in racket used varied routes, including Nepal and Mexico, for sending people to these two countries. The number of people who were not accredited travel agents but operated from various villages and townships of the Doaba region as sub-agents, according to the travel and trade industry sources, was between 125 and 150, but the police puts the number at 500. “They don’t have shops or offices and are generally those who have been to a foreign country once or twice or had adopted this profession after being deported. Their services are generally taken by people settled abroad, who want to get their relatives abroad at any cost”, said Mr Dharam Pal Sondhi, Chairman of the Travel Agents Association of India (Punjab unit).


J&K poll duty: ‘fake list of staff’

Gurdaspur, September 9
Detection of a fake list of Ranjit Sagar Dam employees for deployment on election duty in Jammu and Kashmir has caused consternation among the employees, whose union leaders have demanded a thorough probe into what they alleged to be a scandal.

When Dam Chief Engineer R.C. Jain received a list of 99 dam personnel from the district election office for poll duty in the troubled state, he wrote to the Deputy Commissioner on August 31, suggesting that instead of sending the dam’s field staff on poll duty, personnel from the clerical branch be sent. Mr Jain, while making the suggestion, however, did not send any alternative list of the personnel. He instead suggested that since list of the dam’s clerical staff was available with the district authorities, selection of personnel for poll duty be made from among them. But to his surprise, he received the second list from the election office on September 5, stating that it comprised the personnel mentioned in the list sent by him.

When the dam employees union leaders Ramesh Mahajan and Narinder Singh checked up with Election Tehsildar Subash Datta about the second list, he told them it was the same list which the Chief Engineer had sent along with his letter to the Deputy Commissioner’s office. But Mr Jain told the employees leaders that he had not sent any list with his letter. UNI


PPSC case: notice for Sept 16 issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Acting on an application filed by the state of Punjab for claiming privilege of certain documents, including police diaries and reports submitted by the Vigilance Bureau in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lal, today issued notice for September 16.

In its application, the state claimed that certain PSC executive and allied service officers had filed an application for inspecting record on the basis of which decision to dispense with their services had been taken. The government, state counsel added, had taken the decision on the basis of Vigilance Department report and its disclosure at the present stage would entirely prejudice the case and hamper the on-going investigations. It would also not be in public interest, counsel concluded.

Re-examine employee’s case, state told

Coming down heavily on the state of Punjab for differentiating between ad-hoc and work-charged employees, Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state to re-examine a work-charged employee’s case for regularisation of service prior to his retirement.

Delivering the verdict, the Judges ruled: “It is not disputed that the state government has regularly been issuing instructions for the regularisation of services of employees appointed on ad-hoc basis. In principle, there is no basic difference between persons appointed on ad-hoc basis and those appointed on work-charged basis. Both serve their respective employers for the duration of their employment. In a case where the ad-hoc employees had served for a long time, the state ordered regularisation. Why is a different yardstick being adopted in cases of persons appointed on work-charge basis? Nothing has been disclosed.”

Referring to the current case filed by a driver, Mr Justice Gupta, speaking for the Bench, concluded: “The petitioner has admittedly served the department for more than 15 years. Apparently, there was nothing against him which may dis-entitle him to get pension. The mere failure of the government to sanction a regular post should not result in deprivation of pension at the end of service.... It is directed that the petitioner’s case for regularisation of service prior to the date of his retirement shall be considered. Thereafter, his claim for pension shall be re-examined. Whatever is found due shall be paid to him. The needful shall be done within two months from the date of receiving a certified copy of the order”.

Re-admit student, school told

Taking up a petition filed by a student removed from the Kamla Nehru School of Sports at Rai, Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal of the High Court have directed the school authorities to re-admit him “subject to his maintaining discipline”.

In a ruling on a petition filed by student Deepak Kumar, the Judges held: “Normally students removed from educational institutes on account of acts of indiscipline are not shown any leniency in exercise of discretionary jurisdiction. However, in view of the assurance given by the petitioner himself and his father as also the good academic record, we give him one more chance to study at the school. Resultantly, we direct the school to admit him in Class VII. This would, however, be subject to his maintaining discipline and conducting himself properly. In case, the petitioner misbehaves, the school shall be entitled to take such action as may be deemed appropriate”.


Law Professor’s suspension revoked
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9
Punjabi University today revoked the suspension orders of Prof Gurpal Singh of the Department of Law who had been suspended following his arrest on charges of fudging examination sheets of PCS (Judicial) candidates.

Sources disclosed that the university authorities had decided to revoke the suspension of Prof Gurpal Singh after it came to light that his name was not mentioned in the FIR registered in the PPSC scam. The university, while revoking its earlier order passed more than two months ago has put some conditions while taking this decision.

Accordingly, if an FIR is registered against Prof Gurpal Singh and he is arrested in the case, he will be suspended. The sources said the Vigilance Department had accused the law teacher of fudging the PCS (Judicial) examination papers of Amol Gill, daughter of Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge Amarbir Singh Gill.


Karamchari Dal flays govt
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 9
Mr Hari Singh Tohra, president, Punjab State Karamchari Dal, while addressing the annual delegate session of the dal here today, criticised the decision of the state government to introduce contractual system and closing of five boards and corporations. He warned that if the government initiated any step in this regard employees would intensify the stir.

He said the Congress government had not fulfilled any promise made by it with the employees during the elections. He refuted the claim of the government that its Tourism Corporation is running in losses. He said rather all restaurants being run by it earned Rs 46,57,000 in 2000-2001 and Rs 56,58,000 in 2001-2002. He said it was official record and there was no loss in actual rather the IAS lobby was misleading the Chief Minister for their vested interests. He urged the Chief Minister to remain vigilant in this regard.


Tributes paid to Abdul Hamid
Our Correspondent

Asal uttar (Tarn Taran), September 9
Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today asked the administration to be responsive to the demands of people.

Addressing a public rally after paying tributes to Abdul Hamid, a martyr and recipient of the Param Vir Chakra, here today, Mr Hanspal said it was the fundamental duty of the state government to provide civic amenities for which people keep on presenting charters of demands every day. He said officers would have to keep themselves abreast of the problems being faced by the people.

Mr Hanspal said farmers could not be given free power supply. He said the Punjab State Electricity Regulartory Commission, which had recommended withdrawal of the free power supply, was constituted during the Badal government. He took serious note of the non-distribution of old-age pension for the past seven months.

Mr Hanspal called upon non-government organisations to come forward to save the youth, especially in the border belt, from the menace of deadly drugs.

Criticising Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, for organising dharnas against the Congress government, he described these as a political gimmick, with the sole motive of gaining cheap popularity.

Earlier, an impressive function was held at the memorial of Abdul Hamid where senior Army officials paid tributes to the national hero.


Suicide: BKU(E) wants financier booked
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 9
Refuting a news report which appeared in a section of the Press regarding the reason for suicide by all members of a family of Peron village in this district, representatives of the BKU (Ekta) and the Radical Peoples Forum, Punjab, in a statement here said today that it was another example of the financial crisis faced by farmers which forced the family to take the extreme step.

A team of the organisations which visited the village mediapersons that members of the team met Kaur Singh, father of Gurdeep Singh who committed suicide along with his wife, three daughters and a son, and others to ascertain the cause of the suicide.

They said Gurdeep Singh was under debt and had bought an old truck to supplement his income. However, the financier took away the truck when he was unable to pay the instalments, forcing him to take the extreme step.

The members urged the state government and the police to register a case against the financier, besides giving compensation to Kaur Singh.


Land grab: conviction of five upheld
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
Mr D.S. Malwai, Additional Sessions Judge, today upheld the conviction of five accused, including a local advocate, Charan Singh, and a revenue official, Surinder Singh, while disposing of an appeal filed by them against the judgement of the lower court, which sentenced them and two others in a land grab case.

Mr Malwai also sentenced Nirmala Rani, Sohan Lal Singla and Jaswant Singh. He acquitted Mr Ashok Kumar and Mr Gurtej Singh, convicted by the lower court.

As per a copy of the judgement of the lower court, Nirmala Devi, Sohan Lal, Charan Singh, Surinder Singh and Jaswant Singh were sentenced to two years each.

Mr Gurtej Singh and Mr Ashok Kumar, who were acquitted, had been sentenced to two years.

Mrs Hukama Devi and her daughter, Ms Santosh Kumari, had alleged that the accused tried to grab their land on the Dhobiana road of the city by forging documents in connivance with revenue officials. A case was registered on their complaint.


Tanker with toxic chemical overturns
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 9
A tanker carrying volatile chemical overturned near DAV College in the wee hours of today, spilling the toxic load and blocking the Bibiwala road for several hours. The tanker was on its way from the Kandla port to Ludhiana.

As per information, the tanker overturned after the driver lost control over the vehicle while negotiating a rough patch of road. The tanker rammed into a telephone pole before overturning.

The chemical, meant for industrial purposes, spilled out, forming a small poll in the area. Residents, who reached the spot, began filling it in bottles and canisters, mistaking it for kerosene.


BSF Subedar dies in accident
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 9
A BSF Subedar was killed in an accident around midnight yesterday, while two others were injured in an accident near Ladhuka village on the Fazilka-Ferozepore road, 14 km here. According to available details, Rajbeer Singh (45), a BSF Subedar, was coming from Faridkot in a vehicle when a cow came to the road. The driver, K. Murlidharan, veered the vehicle to the left but lost control and rammed into a tree, killing Rajbeer Singh on the spot. The driver and Jawahar Singh, a cook accompanying them was also injured.

Rajbeer Singh was a resident of Itawa district (UP).

In another accident on the Fazilka-Abohar road four persons, including a school girl, were injured near Khul Khera village 14 km from here. Gokal Chand (22) of Mamukhera village, Om Parkash (45) and his daughter Saroj (18) were going on a scooter from Khui Khera village to Mamu Khera village. Their scooter hit a passerby, Vijay Kumar (18) of Khui Khera village, resulting in injuries to all. Vijay Kumar, who sustained serious head injuries, was taken to Ludhiana.


Missing jawan found dead
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 9
Dalip Singh (55), a Home Guard jawan and a resident of Dhakran village in Bholath police station, who was missing since September 6, was found murdered in the fields of his neighbour yesterday.

The police recovered the body from the fields of Balkar Singh and brought it to local Civil Hospital for post-mortem. The body bore injury marks from a sharp edged weapon.

The father of the deceased in a report with the police said the deceased went to his fields on a September 6 at 3.00 p.m. to run a motor, but did not return. The police has registered a case under Section 302, IPC, in this connection.


Jagjit Singh to stay Municipal Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
In compliance with the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Jagjit Singh will continue to work as Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar, says a press note issued today.

He was transferred from Jalandhar following a controversy over the demolition of encroachments. His transfer was challenged by the Citizens Welfare Society.


Girdawari report sent to Secy
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 9
The Revenue Department has completed the process of special girdawari in Ferozepore district to assess the damage of crops due to insufficient rains. The report has been forwarded to the Secretary, Revenue Department, to enable the state government seek a relief package from the Union Government for distribution among the affected farmers.

The district revenue officer, Mr Sohan Lal Bhumbak, said crop on a total of 68,165 acres of land in 563 villages had been adversely affected in this border district due to insufficient rainfall. Crop on 39,350 acres of land has suffered 100 per cent loss, on 16,472 acres 75 per cent loss, on 10,813 acres 50 per cent loss and on 1,529 acres 25 per cent loss.

In Ferozepore tehsil, 124 villages, Fazilka 120 villages, Jalalabad 158 villages, Abohar 40 villages and Zira 121 villages have been adversely affected. In most parts of Jalalabad and Fazilka tehsils, salinity was another main reason for loss to the paddy crop as gypsum was not available in the market. This had added to the woes of the farmers.


Crops damaged
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 9
Standing crops in 400 acres were damaged following a 70-foot breach in a canal in Bhikhi, near Kishangarh Pharwahi village, in the district yesterday.

Mr G.S. Bath, Executive Engineer, Irrigation, Jawaharke, along with Mr J.R. Aggarwals SDO, and Mr Satwant Singh Dod, SHO Bhikhi, reached the spot. The flow in the canal has been reduced to plug the breach.

Villagers said a similar breach had occurred near the site some time ago which damaged crops in 500 acres. They alleged that the Irrigation Department did not strengthen the embankments. Mr Alok Shekhar, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa has ordered the SDM to enquire into the matter.


Paddy being sold below fixed price
Our Correspondent

Moga, September 9
Paddy arrivals at the grain market here have dwindled from over 1,000 bags per day during the first week of August to only 400 bags per day due to the recent rains.

The stocks are being sold at Rs 430-Rs 458 per quintal against the fixed price of Rs 530 per quintal. Mr Kuldeep Singh Sandhu, former president of the BKU demanded special bonus for the farmers.


JPC mooted for PSEB unions’ unity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 9
In a bid to bring PSEB trade unions under one platform, the board has proposed to form a joint parliamentary committee (JPC) in which all unions will be represented according to their strength in the institution.

The board is in a bind due to the proliferation of several unions and associations which sometimes work against the interest of the PSEB.

According to the proposal, the unions with the support of more than 10 per cent of staff of their respective categories would be allowed to nominate their representatives on the JPC, proportional to the votes polled by them. If staff members do not want to have affiliation with the unions, they can vote under the “independent’’ category.

Twenty seats of the JPC will be divided among the unions having ballot support of 10 per cent or more. The unions will nominate their representatives on the JPC as no individual will fight the elections.

The JPC is expected to be formed once in five years and will meet four times a year with two meetings being devoted to discussing the issues of employees.

The JPC will function at only the PSEB headquarters and zonal councils, circle councils and divisional councils will take up the issues of the employees for discussion. These councils will also be formed on the same pattern as the JPC. The board is proposing to hold secret ballot for elections to the JPC.

The board also proposes allowing supervisory and executive cadres to form an association each, free from any trade union. A broad-based PSEB supervisors’ association has been proposed in which representation will be given to each cadre, including engineering, drawing, general administration and accounts.


SHO suspended for inaction
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 9
Dr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, today placed under suspension SI Charanjit Singh posted at the Dhilwan police station for dereliction of duty.

In a press note, Mr Dhoke said on June 13 Sawinder Singh, a resident of Dhilwan was found injured at his tubewell. His relatives took him to the village Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the Civil Hospital here.

As the condition of Sawinder Singh grew worse, he was shifted to the DMC, Ludhiana, where he died on July 15.

The SSP said Sawinder Singh, being the SHO of the police station, neither tried to record the statement of the injured, nor cared to get his medical report.

The SHO did not initiate legal action in the case. Neither did he ensure the post-mortem of the body.

By his failure to get a case registered, the police official had shown gross negligence of duty for which he had been placed under suspension. He would face departmental action, the SSP said.


Dy Superintendent of jail booked
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 9
The Deputy Superintendent of the Moga jail, Avinash Chander, has been booked by the local police on charges of corruption. An FIR has been registered against him at the city — 1 police station. However, he is said to be rising.

According to the details available, Chander has been booked on charges of corruption following complaints by inmates during a special inspection visit to the jail by Mr J.K. Mattu, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) here, on September 5, 2002.

The jail inmates complained to the CJM that the Deputy Superintendent demanded bribes from them for keeping them at Moga. Those who did not grease his palms were transferred to the Central Jail, Ferozepore. The CJM inquired into the complaints and forwarded his report to the District Sessions Judge of Faridkot and Moga for action.

The FIR has been registered against Chander on the report of the Sessions Judge.


Cop heading gang of thieves held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 9
The police claims to have busted a gang of thieves with the arrest of its kingpin Surjit Singh, alias Pappu, a police constable posted at Ferozepore.

Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City), said a case of smuggling had been registered against the constable at the Barnala police station. Giving details of the criminal record of the constable the SP said during his stint in the CID, Barnala, he had seized gold biscuits from a smuggler but instead of entering the recovery in police record he (the constable) kept the smuggled items with him. Later, a case of forgery was also registered against the culprit for his involvement in a case pertaining to fake registration number of vehicles.

After committing a number of crimes, the constable formed his own gang which used to steal vehicles.

Though the Ferozepore police had suspended the constable, he continued to commit crimes in different districts.

The court has remanded him in police custody for three days.


15 booked for smuggling drugs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 9
The police has booked 15 persons who used to smuggle narcotics from Pakistan via the Jammu border here today.

According to Dr S.K. Kalia, SP (City), the accused had been booked on charges of smuggling drugs, narcotics from across the border.

Those who have been booked include Pargat Singh of Cheema Kalan, Bhagwant Singh (Cheem Khurd), Lakhwinder Singh (Bhome), Dilbag Singh and Angrej Singh (both residents of Bharopal village), Kulwant Singh of Dauke village, Avtar Singh (Naushehra Dhala), Rinku, Harwinder Singh, Ranjit Singh and Massa Singh, all residents of Kasel village, Inderjit Singh, Manga Singh, both residents of Burj village, Manjit Singh and Resham Singh of Raja Tal.


Man robbed of Rs 3.5 lakh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 9
Four persons robbed a bag containing cash and bank draft for Rs 3.5 lakh from a scrap dealer at Kochar market here this evening.

One of the culprits was, however, chased and caught by the victim and other shopkeepers. He was taken to the CIA for interrogation.

According to the victim, Kamalpreet Singh, son of Pritpal Singh, head priest of Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib here, he was returning home in Jawahar Nagar and had stopped for some work at Kochar market. Around 8.30pm, two persons knocked at one side of the car while two others picked up the bag from other side.


Rs 2.8 lakh looted
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 9
A sum of Rs 2.80 lakh was snatched by two car-borne persons from two persons on a scooter near Jhanjherri village this afternoon.

Mr Rupinder Singh, DSP, Kharar, when contacted, said that two persons were coming with Rs 2.80 lakh from Chandigarh and were going to Bhagdana village. When they were between villages Jhanjherri and Machli, two persons, who were standing near an Indica car, stopped them and looted the money and fled.

The police came into action and put up nakas.


Three dental colleges await approval
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 9
With just a day left for counselling the fate of several hundred dental course aspirants hangs in the balance as three private dental colleges are yet to get the approval from the Union Health Ministry.

The Registrar of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences here Dr P.S. Sandhu, told TNS that till Saturday none of the three colleges had received the mandatory approval from the Health Ministry. “No approval means no admissions,” he said.

The three colleges are Baba Jaswant Singh Dental College, Ludhiana, Desh Bhagat Dental College, Muktsar, and Laxmi Bai Institute of Dental Sciences, Patiala. The college at Ludhiana offers 100 seats, while the other two offer 60 seats each.

Punjab has 11 dental colleges, including two government dental colleges at Amritsar and Patiala, which offer 495 seats. Apart from the two government colleges seven private colleges have already obtained the necessary approval. Admission to Khalsa Dental College and Hospital at Mansa has been barred.

Dr Sandhu said unless these colleges got the approval the university would not be in a position to go ahead with the admission process. He added that so far there has not been any communique from these colleges concerning the grant of approval.

Although the colleges should have ideally obtained the recommendations from the Health Ministry in December, 2001, for this academic year, he said even if they got the approval by September 10, the day the counselling starts, it would be acceptable to the university.

University officials told TNS that last year no student had been admitted to the Dashmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences as the institute had failed to get the requisite recommendation from the Dental Council of India and the Ministry of Health. This year it has been granted the approval.

Citing another example officials pointed out that the non-recommendation of Desh Bhagat Dental College Muktsar last year had led to a controversy and the matter was taken to the court. Admissions were subsequently carried out following a court ruling.

Officials, however, claim that the university authorities are still awaiting a copy of the court’s orders as they are not aware of the contents of the orders.


SSF’s statement criticised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 9
Taking exception to the statement made by the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation (SSF), the Institute of Sikh Studies (IOSS) said here today that the management of Faridkot-based Dasmesh Institute of Research and Dental Sciences was well within its rights to advise the “ patit” ( with shorn hair) Sikhs not to seek admission to its institution.

Bhai Ashok Singh, secretary of the IOSS, said that the federation was trying to play mischief by making an irresponsible statement on this issue.

The management committee of the Dasmesh institute had passed a resolution on July 20,1996, stipulating that “ a patit Sikh who cut his or her hair beard should not apply for admission to the college.”

Bhai Ashok Singh said that his organisation was fully supportive of the stand taken by the Dasmesh institute.


Vigilance seals school records
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 9
Vigilance Bureau officials today raided SSD School at Maur Mandi, 40 km from here, and sealed records pertaining to admissions.

Sources said complaints of irregularities had been received by the bureau. It was alleged that some students had also got their names registered in government schools of the region and took their annual examinations from the government schools.

Mr Narinder Singh Sharma, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, said the records and all other relevant documents had been taken in custody.

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