Wednesday, September 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SYL: Gujral for legal solution
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Former Prime Minister I. K. Gujral here today favoured solution of the Satluj-Yamuna Link canal dispute between Punjab and Haryana through judicial means, a position which major political forces in Punjab are opposed to.

Mr Gujral said this while replying to a question during an interaction with mediapersons at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development (CRRID), where he was the chief guest at a seminar on ‘’governance’’ as part of the Haksar series of seminar and discussions that would conclude tomorrow.

The former Prime Minister, who was elected from Jalandhar with Akali support, termed the Akali policy of free power as ‘’unfortunate’’ saying Punjabis do not take anything free as was seen in gurdwaras where the people donated after paying their obeisance.

He said it seemed Pakistan had officially reduced its support to militancy but the infiltration had not stopped.

Mr Gujral said elections in Kashmir had to be free and fair and any observer from international community must be welcomed. He, however, said observers were not called by governments or election commissions but by civil society. He said India’s position would be strengthened when foreign observers would talk about militants’ attempt to sabotage elections.

He said he himself went to Pakistan to observe elections when Ms Benazir Bhutto was elected as Prime Minister.

The former Prime Minister resented all political parties’ attempt to deny the voter a right to know credentials of candidates as proposed by the Election Commission on the basis of a Supreme Court judgement.

Mr Gujral favoured a South Asian Association Countries observer group coming to oversee the Jammu and Kashmir elections.

He welcomed private initiatives like by Mr Jethmalani to engage in dialogue with Kashmiris.

Earlier, speaking at the seminar, Mr Gujral created a frightening picture saying that the very foundation of the state regarding people’s security could be in danger if the police and security personnel were not paid their salaries in time.

Speaking on the issue, former Kerala Governor Justice S.S. Kang (retd) attributed the poor governance to the failure to educate people. He said unless the factor was addressed the people would continue to have poor governance.

CRRID Director Rashpal Malhotra asked the Punjab Government to prepare a people’s plan for all 17 districts and .

He favoured the strengthening of the panchayats and municipal bodies, their training, transfer of powers to them and providing them funds to bring better governance to the state.

Punjab Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra, who read Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s speech, said the government was committed to eradicate corruption, turn government responsive, accountable, efficient and fiscally responsible. Former Principal Secretary to Mr Gujral, T.K. A Nair introduced the subject of discussion today.

Former Panjab University Vice-Chancellor and Vice-Chairman of the CRRID governing body thanked the speakers.

In the technical session former Foreign Secretary Salman Haider stressed on the need to solve problems with neighbours and not be tied down internationally. The session was chaired by Dr S.K. Goel, who was the Economic Adviser to former Prime Minister Chandra Shekhar.

A former Navy Chief, Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat, said problems of governance could best be served only by upholding the Constitution in letter and spirit.

Prof M.H. Ansari from Aligarh University said assumptions behind the Constitution had not worked and there was a need for the creation of a new value system and setting the house in order.

Former Punjab Chief Secretary N.K. Arora said Punjab was not even getting taxes of the level of 1969 when Rs 60 crore were collected as excise tax, which should have been by now Rs 10,000 to 12,000 crore at the same rate considering the growth of population and inflation. He said the taxes collected now were not even half of this amount.

Prof B.B. Bhattacharya said the people had to be told that they had to pay the cost of governance and a large number of laws had to be done away with for being economically ‘’regressive.’’

A former mediapersons, Subrat Banerjee, said the will of the political cadres and bureaucracy could still improve the situation.


PSEB planning review petition
PSERC order on power tariff
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The hospitalisation of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has temporarily put the implementation of the order pertaining to revised power tariff on the back burner while the PSEB is preparing to file a review petition requesting the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission to revise its decision regarding certain recommendations.

Though the commission passed the revised tariff order on Friday, the PSEB, has so far not taken any step to enforce the same. In fact, the PSEB authorities have not even got published a public notice in newspapers informing the general public about the revised rates.

On condition of anonymity, official sources said that the PSEB authorities were supposed to meet the Chief Minister today to discuss the revised tariff. However, the meeting has been cancelled following the Chief Minister’s hospitalisation. Without the green signal from the Chief Minister, the commission’s order would not be implemented. It is a fact that the state government has no power to block the enforcement of tariff rates but the PSEB authorities are of the view that the supremacy of the political executive over the state’s institutions should be respected leaving no scope for a confrontation.

However, the PSEB Engineers Association wanted that the state government had nothing to do with the order and the PSEB should implement it. If the state government has any objection, it should adopt the legal recourse to get that recommendation amended.

Informed sources said that the PSEB after examining the commission’s order carefully had decided to file a review petition asking the commission to re-examine certain recommendations. There is a feeling that justice has not been done while examining certain aspects related with tariff revision and the annual revenue requirements of the PSEB. A memorandum would be prepared with regard to review petition and filed before the commission.

While the commission has admitted that the PSEB is in a deep financial crisis, but while calculating the PSEB’s annual revenue requirements, the commission has ignored a sum of Rs 133 crore, which the cash-starved PSEB had to pay in excess as freight to the Railways. The PSEB was offered a rebate of 15 per cent in case it made advance payment of freight to the Railways. However, as the PSEB had no cash to pay in advance, it was unable to get the rebate and had to pay Rs 133 crore in excess because of this reason. The commission has held that the PSEB should have paid in advance to save this amount. The PSEB wanted this part of the order to be reviewed.

Secondly, the commission has allowed a fuel cost of Rs 1936.33 crore against Rs 1988.98 crore sought by the PSEB. The commission says that the fuel consumption which is around 2800 kilo calories per unit at the Bathinda thermal plant, 2600 kilo calories at the Lehra Mohabbat thermal plant and 2650 kilo calories at the Ropar thermal plant is above the norm of 2500 kilo calories fixed by the Central Electricity Authority. The PSEB authorities wanted that all expenditure made on fuel in the past should have been allowed by the commission while preparing a revised tariff order. And the board should have been asked to follow the norm strictly in future.

Thirdly, the expenditure of Rs 15 crore on purchasing costly power from the Rajasthan atomic plant has not been included in the expenditure of the PSEB. However, the PSEB authorities say when power was not available from cheaper sources, it had to buy power at a higher rate from Rajasthan. There was a demand for 21176 million units within Punjab and the PSEB had to buy power at a higher cost to save the paddy crop. The commission will be requested to reconsider this recommendation. There are several other points which are expected to be raised in the review petition, according to the sources.


PSEB recovers Rs 3 crore
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, September 10
In a special drive against power theft, the Sangrur circle of the PSEB has recovered more than Rs 3 crore from consumers indulging in theft or found guilty for having excess load.

In a press note issued today, Mr R.K. Bains, Deputy Chief Engineer, PSEB (Sangrur), said Rs 3.54 crore had been recovered from April to August from 8,403 consumers.


PSEB ultimatum to police academy, PAP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The cash-starved PSEB today directed the Police Training Academy (PTA), Phillaur, and the PAP, Jalandhar, to clear their dues worth several lakhs by tomorrow or be ready to lose power.

Informed sources said their dues were to the tune of Rs 1.71 crore. The Jails Department is yet to pay Rs 47.31 lakh.

According to information available here, the Public Health Department is to pay Rs 3.52 crore, the PWD (B and R) Rs 24.57 lakh, Hospitals, Veterinary dispensaries etc Rs 3.31 crore, the Education Department (Schools etc) Rs 1.67 lakh, Municipal Corporations Rs 2.81 crore, the Irrigation and Canal Department (Lift Irrigation scheme) Rs 27 crore, the Sewerage Department Rs 22.23 lakh and other departments Rs 81.16 lakh. The total dues to be recovered total Rs 34.41 crore.


Farmers hold dharna on power issue
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 10
Hundreds of farmers today organised a dharna against the withdrawal of the free power facility to the farmers and in support of other demands of the farmers.

The farmers were addressed, among others, by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, leader of the breakaway group of the CPM, Mr Tarsem Jodhan, former MLA, Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener of the Kisan Sangharash Committee, Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa, state leader of the Jamhuri Kisan Sabha and Mr Pargat Singh Jamarai.

The speakers sharply condemned the Punjab Government for withdrawing the free power facility to the farmers. They alleged that notwithstanding the tall claims of the government to provide a corruption-free administration, corruption still prevailed in different government offices. Besides the farmers were being harassed.

The leaders said crores of rupees were still pending with the co-operative sugar mills but the government did not bother. The Kisan Sangharash Committee led the dharna and declared to take part in the demonstration being organised by different kisan organisations on September 16 at the state level. It further declared to launch an agitation from September 30 from here to stress on the demands of the farmers.


Clouds of disquiet hover over Punjab
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Although the Congress came to power in Punjab on a promising note, a streak of disquiet is discernible in the state now. If the Congress Government is hemmed in today, it must apportion much of the blame to itself because it has induced politics of confrontation. This has led as much to internal strife and squabbles as an aggressive posture by the SAD. A nonchalant bureaucracy, agitation by employees, farmers and Dalits has compounded the situation.

There is a tide of persistent grim financial situation, trinket of revenue receipts, deluge of expenditure and sluggish economy. Political compulsions are now beginning to obstruct Capt Amarinder Singh’s fast-track plans to restore financial discipline and “reconstruct” Punjab.

The latest report on law and order by Additional DGP, A. A. Siddiqui at the recent joint meeting of police and Deputy Commissioners has added more to the existing worries. That report, sources say, revolves around politics and religion, economic situation and crime, menace of drug-addiction among youth, rising dowry deaths, NRI-induced allurement to youth to go abroad with increasing involvement of travel agents etc.

The rising crime graph shows law and order in poor light. Though “free registration of case” is listed as a factors showing a 15 per cent to 20 per cent rise in crime, crime statistics (January 1 to September 1) make a dismal reading.

The report cautions that influence of “deras” on the state’s social matrix cannot be minimised or ignored. If political patronage (by all parties and shades) give these “deras” a degree of legitimacy, their protection by the police and the bureaucracy is a natural corollary. There is apprehension that some politicians may focus on “deras” by playing up religious emotions and sentiments, thereby, activating the SGPC and embarrassing the government. The case in point is of Ashutosh’s sect and related activities.

There is a veiled word of caution for the government on the law and order situation. The report expects the Congress to steer clear of the internal strife in the Sikh clergy or attempts by some organisations either to foist new Jathedars or through political machinations dislodge Badal’s stranglehold over the SGPC or support emergence of the “real” Akali Dal. Even overt or covert interference by the government in such moves or in the ensuing SGPC elections will prove to be politically counter-productive.

The assessment also mirrors the perception of the people, who feel that a well-intentioned anti-corruption drive is getting off the track. It may have pushed the Akalis to the edge and put them on the defensive but certainly it is getting deflected. The need of the hour is that the government pays focused attention to socio-economic issues and improve performance of the service sector.

The undercurrents of socio-economic tensions are forcing the direction-less, jobless youth to the dark world of drugs. This menace has spread beyond Malwa and has now consumed Majha and Doaba. Allurement of the youth to go abroad by surreptitious means or desire for money to buy drugs has led to an increase in thefts, robberies and burglaries. The NRI angle in dowry deaths due to frauds and cheating has precipitated social tensions.

In this backdrop, the cautious feedback is that if politico-administrative correctives are not applied now, the much hyped economic/fiscal reforms will fail, resulting in a spurt in socio-economic tensions that will affect law and order. The civil administration feels even the police must be bridled and administrative departments restored their functional autonomy.

Though, the white paper has put the state of economy in a proper perspective, the proposed correctives are still stuck in the mud due to various vested interests. A major part of the blame for this muddle must again be apportioned to Congress ministers and MLAs, who have failed to understand the gravity of the situation, educate the people and employees, appreciate the suggested measures, and support the Chief Minister.

Denials notwithstanding, the general impression is that the government has apparently back-tracked under various pressures and is not implementing reforms, at least for the time being, in respect of compressing expenditure on employees or is slowing down on disinvestment or has almost conceded the demands of the employees or compromised, as a political exigency, and put all reforms on the back burner to quieten the unrest among employees.

Political blame games and populist measures will not help. To pull Punjab out of the financial quagmire, all intended reforms have to be vigorously pursued, be it the imposition of user charges or overhaul of the transport sector or improvement in quality of social and economic services or assured power to agriculture etc. For the moment, comprehensive steps have been taken only in respect of tax regime. Yet, there is a ray of hope of a small improvement in the Department of Finance.


Tilla Baba Farid no more a gurdwara
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 10
The historic Tilla Baba Farid institution (Faridkot) is no more a gurdwara.

With the dismissal of the case relating to the institution by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission today the 40-year-old dispute between the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) and the management of the institution stands settled.

The three-member judicial commission, presided over by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, announced that it (the commission) had no jurisdiction to take up this case in the wake of the decisions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, who has been continuing as president of the management, will continue to hold this post.

It may be mentioned here that Tilla Baba Farid was raised in the memory of Baba Farid, the first Punjabi poet whose ‘bani’ was also enshrined in the holy Guru Granth Sahib, who had visited this place in the 13th century. From this place (the site of Tilla Baba Farid), the sepoys of King Mohkalsi (the ruler of that time) forced him (Baba Farid) to take part in the construction of the quila being built nearby.

The dispute (whether the place is a gurdwara or belongs to the wakf board) has been pending since 1962. Though the Sikh Tribunal had declared the place as a Sikh shrine on October 18, 1977, the decision was challenged by the Wakf Board. On the basis of the decision of the tribunal, the state of Punjab had notified it to be a gurdwara the next year (1978). The Wakf Board challenged the same in high court in 1980. The high court had quashed all notifications which had declared the place as a notified gurdwara.

At one time, the Badal government tried to hold election of Tilla Baba Farid with the aim to dislodge Mr Sekhon as president. However, Mr Sekhon again moved the high court and the Badal government had to cancel the election.


Bhupjit Singh feels ‘abandoned’
PPSC recruitment scam

Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Unprecedented appreciation, besides publicity, in the ongoing “recruitment scam” notwithstanding, there are not many who have volunteered to help the State agencies, including the Vigilance Bureau, nab the known “corrupt” civil or public servants, including politicians, through traps.

A continuous follow-up and careful analysis of the case that led to the “trapping of then PPSC chief Ravi Sidhu” makes startling revelations.

“Threats on the telephone have become a routine. They do not bother me any more. Even my wife and children are now used to them,” says Mr Bhupjit Singh, an Excise Inspector with the Chandigarh Administration. It was he who after “negotiating a deal with the then PPSC chairman” went to his official residence in Sector 39 with the money.

Though he admits that it was Mr Sumedh Singh Saini, the then Inspector-General of Police (Intelligence) , besides his counsel — Mr Chander Mohan — and his friend Mr Parminder Singh, who not only encouraged but also extended all moral and administrative support to make the “trap successful”. Since then, both Mr Bhupjit Singh and Mr Parminder Singh have been the targets of “abuse and threats”.

“All threats are not dismissive. Some may be serious. So initially I took all precautions and necessary steps to ensure the safety of my children and wife.

“I feel sad sometimes as what I did was in the public interest and against a serious social malaise afflicting our society. But unfortunately some people have taken it as a personal challenge and blame me for whatever has followed the trap case,” he says maintaining that his role ended the moment the then PPSC Chairman was caught “red handed”.

Both Mr Bhupjit Singh and Mr Parminder Singh, however, feel bitter that instead of bouquets they have been getting brickbats holding the prevalent system responsible as many — instead of appreciating the “bold initiative of an individual — are blaming us for the fallout of the case”.

Though Mr Bhupjit Singh may not admit, the required government support and appreciation, too, has been missing in this unprecedented case of such a magnitude. At one stage, he was served with a notice by the investigation cell of the Income Tax Department to show the source of “bribe money”. Intriguingly, none accused of paying “bribes” has got such a notice so far.


Organ transplant panel rejects 20 applications
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 10
More than 20 applications filed by organ donors or recipients were rejected by the Organ Transplant Authorisation Committee meeting here today.

Significantly, this is for the first time that cases of kidney donations were rejected. About 30 cases of organ donors and recipients were presented to the committee after a postponement of nearly a week following adverse reports of a kidney racket flourishing in the city.

Most of the donors were rejected on the grounds that they did not belong to the state of Punjab. Some discrepancies were also found in the affidavit of the donor or the recipient. In some cases, the blood group did not match, Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal, Medical College told The Tribune.

However, it is learnt that in 95 per cent of the cases, the donors are unrelated to the recipient of the organ. Most of the kidney donations are a sham as ‘monetary’ consideration is of prime concern in arranging such donors. Dr Mahajan asserted that he had a talk on this issue with the Minister for Medical Education and Health, Mr R.C. Dogra, and had suggested that the city’s SSP could be a part of this panel, but it was rejected on ‘certain’ grounds.

He said the authorisation committee was only eligible to scrutinize the cases and had no monitoring authority to substantiate whether any money had changed hands in the organ transaction.

The kidney scandal had rocked the city when four migrant labourers complained that middlemen who had arranged for kidney recipients did not pay them the money.

The donors had alleged that they had sold their kidneys for a sum of more than Rs 1 lakh each but were left high and dry when the requisite operation was done.

The labourers were instead arrested on charges of filing ‘fraudulent affidavits’. This incident had successfully discouraged most of the poor donors who were being exploited by middlemen.


25-member gang busted
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 10
An abandoned Tata Estate car helped the Jalandhar range police bust a dreaded 25-member gang, which had created panic among the business community of the Doaba region by frequently targeting businessmen, banks, petrol pumps and liquor vends in Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts.

The gang, 10 members of which have been arrested by the police today, purchased at large number of firearms from Uttar Pradesh with the help of looted money. It also killed a bank guard besides injuring two other employees as it struck the Oriental Bank of Commerce branch at Bakapur village, near Garhshankar, on August 28.

Mr Rohit Chaudhary, DIG, Jalandhar range, said the police was able to lay its hands upon the gang as the Tata Estate (DL-ICD-5950) abandoned by it after a police party chased it following the August 28 bank robbery, provided a number of vital clues about it.

Though its number plates were removed by the gang members before they abandoned it in the Garhshankar area, but the corroboration of various pieces of information collected from mechanics, workshops, taxi stands and auto dealers of the area led the police to pinpoint the gang and its chief identified as Inderjit Singh, a notorious criminal belonging to Palli-Chikki village near Nawanshahr,” Mr Chaudhary said.

He said other members of the gang had been identified as Vijay Kumar, of Beharam village, Amarjit Singh, alias Sonu, of Bagwain village, Gurdip Kumar, alias Ninder, of Bheen village, Ashok Kumar of Batala, Dara Singh of Kalewal Lallian village, Jasbir Ram, alias Jassa, of Pilli Chlkki, Davinder Singh, alias Babbu, of Lasara village, Resham Lal, alias Resha, of Moron village and Jeet Singh of Lasara village.

The gang, from whose possession a double-barrel gun, mouser, two country-made revolvers, three country-made pistols, a Maruti van, a Tata Estate and two scooters, were recovered, admitted during preliminary investigation that it had attacked one Avtar Singh, a Phagwara-based commission agent and had looted Rs 3.5 lakh from him as he reached Garhshankar on July 7 along with his employee.

With the money the gang smuggled firearms from Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh through another gang run by Chandesh Thakur. Apart from firing at Nawanshahr-based currency changer Vijay Kumar and planning to rob the Punjab National Bank branch at Moranwali in Hoshiarpur, the gang looted Rs 1.6 lakh from Lasara-based petrol pump owner Harmesh Lal while he was returning to his home on his motor cycle on December 27, 1999.

Inderjit of Palli Chikki village, who had come out of the Hoshiarpur jail a few months ago, had masterminded the robberies committed after forming a gang with the help of some other jail inmates such as Ashok Kumar, Chandesh and Amarjit.

The modus operandi of the gang, according to Mr Chaudhary, was to rent small houses on the outskirts of cities, from where they would conduct reconnaissance before targeting a bank or a petrol pump.

Mr Chaudhary said a team of senior officials, including Mr Kulchinder Singh, SP, Mr Kamaljit Singh Dhillon, DSP, Phillaur, Mr Nirmal Singh and Mr Angrej Singh, both SHOs, had been formed for further investigation and for ensuring arrest of other members of the gang.


‘Fraud’ by MC chief comes to light
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 10
Another case of corruption and fraud against Akali leader Dr Kuldip Singh Gill, president of the Moga Municipal Committee had allegedly come to light.

Dr Gill is reportedly absconding in connection with a case of fraud registered against him on August 30.

Sources in the Vigilance Bureau told TNS that there were allegations against Dr Gill of illegally selling shamlaat land. The patwari concerned of the Revenue Department was summoned by the investigating authority of the Vigilance Bureau yesterday to produce official records of the land.

The Vigilance Bureau had also recorded the statement of the patwari besides procuring attested copies of the revenue record. It had been found that the numbers of the revenue record mentioned in the last two sale deeds of the same land were different from each other, said the sources.

Contrary to the investigations initiated by the Vigilance Bureau in the case, Dr Gill has, however, submitted an affidavit in a local court claiming that he was the owner of the land. But preliminary investigations by the Vigilance Bureau has revealed that the land was originally a shamlaat but was illegally transferred by Mr Gill in his name to further sell it.

A senior official of the Vigilance Bureau told TNS that the inquiry was likely to be completed against him by the next week. the inquiry report would then be forwarded to the Chief Directorate’s office for approval of registration of a fraud case against Dr Gill.

It is worth mentioning that the Vigilance Bureau has earlier also booked Dr Gill on June 13 under Sections 409 and 420 of the IPC and 13(2) of the PCA. The Vigilance Bureau has so far failed to arrest him in this case.

Meanwhile, Dr Gill has applied for an anticipatory bail in the local court of Additional Sessions Judge, the date of hearing for which has been fixed for September 13. Apart from this, another case of fraud registered against him on June 13, in the city police station, Moga, was pending against him in a local court. He was out on regular bail in the case.


Akali MLA booked

Gurdaspur, September 10
The police today registered a case against Capt Balbir Singh Bath (retd), Akali Dal MLA from Srihargobindpur, Gurnam Singh Dhirowali, former MLA of Srihargobindpur, and five others.

The case was registered on the complaint of Rashpal Singh of Boja village under Ghoman police station who had alleged that the accused had opened fire on him on September 3, the police said here.

Captain Bath said he had been implicated in a false case because the police had registered the case under pressure from the ruling party. PTI


Hearing on Langah’s bail plea adjourned
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 10
Mr Maghar Khan, Sessions Judge, here today fixed September 17 as the next date of hearing on the bail application of Mr Sucha Singh Langah, former Punjab PWD Minister and senior Akali leader, in a case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and 13 (1) (a) (c) (d) (e) read with 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Mr Langah, who is currently in judicial custody till September 13, had filed the bail application stating that the case had been falsely registered against him by the Vigilance.

The hearing on the bail application of Mr Langah was adjourned to September 17 due to the non-production of relevant record today in the court by the Vigilance.


Amarinder’s condition stable
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 10
The condition of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who underwent a coronary Angioplasty at Batra Hospital here yesterday, is stable. He is fine, the doctors attending on him said.

A Thalium test yesterday morning showed some block in an artery of Capt Amarinder Singh.

The doctors said he was likely to be discharged tomorrow.

CHANDIGARH: The President of the SAD and Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today rang up the Punjab Chief Minister to wish him “speedy recovery”.


SGPC’s sub-panel ‘to belittle jathedars’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 10
Rejecting the formation of a religious advisory sub-committee for scrutinising the complaints received by Akal Takht, the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) leader, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, said the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) wanted to belittle Sikh high priests. Such a step on the part of the SGPC was aimed at usurping the powers of jathedars, he added.

At the first SGPC meeting of the newly formed sub-committee on September 14 here, Mr Bhaur said Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President, wanted to ‘clip’ the wings of the jathedars so that they would not be able to take up any complaint against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Badungar himself or senior leaders of the Akali Dal (Badal), especially at a time when general elections of the SGPC were round the corner.

In yet another significant statement, Mr Bhaur said the SHSAD would convene a meeting of the SGPC members belonging to his party to discuss the ultimatum served by the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) on Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh. It may be mentioned here that the SKP had threatened to stage dharnas in front of the official residences of the jathedar and the SGPC chief if they failed to tender their resignation within 10 days in the wake of corruption charges.

Mr Bahur charged that the SGPC, which had refused to give admission to three Sikh girls for the MBBS course in Shri Guru Ram Dass Medical College under the Sikh quota for ‘shaping their eye-brows’ in violation of the Sikh tenets, were accommodated at the behest of Mr Badal. He alleged that one of the ‘patit’ Sikh girls was a close relative of Mr Badal.


Oust Amarinder Singh: Sukhbir
Tribune News Service

Malout, September 10
Former Union Minister and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, today urged the people of Punjab to oust Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for failing to fulfil promises made to them.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, has been touring villages of Faridkot district to mobilise party workers for the September 11 statewide agitation against the alleged atrocities committed on people by the Congress government was talking to reporters here yesterday.

He alleged the Congress government started burdening the people with irrational taxes, reducing salaries of employees and by increasing power tariff. He added now the government had initiated the move to withdraw the facility of free of cost power to agriculture. This facility was given by the previous SAD-BJP combine government. Also octroi has been re-imposed, facility of shagun scheme to Scheduled Caste people withdrawn and Sales Tax on petrol, fertiliser and pesticides hiked on the plea that the government was trying to fill coffers, allegedly left empty by the previous SAD-BJP government, he added.


Victory march turns violent
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 10
A victory procession of a councillor turned violent late last night, leading to a dharna by residents in front of the police station and a blockade on the Phagwara-Banga road.

It was learnt today that the procession was being taken out in Ward No 19 to celebrate the victory of Congress candidate Kusum Sharma, when some of her supporters began to “tease” opponents. A hand pump and some streetlights were damaged.

Supporters led by BJP councellor Arun Khosla and the defeated candidate, Ms Savita Ahuja, staged a dharna, demanding the arrest of those guilty.

The SHO, Mr Manjit Singh, said efforts were on to settle the issue and both sides had been called to sort out the matter.


PPCC chief names delimitation panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has named an eight-member delimitation panel to represent the party before the state delimitation committee. Those named in the panel, according to a PPCC press note issued today, are Dr Kewal Krishan, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Lal Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Mr Sardool Singh, Mrs Parneet Kaur, Mr Surinder Singla and Mrs Lakhwinder Kaur Garcha. The delimitation committee held its first meeting yesterday which was attended, among others, by Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary, AICC. It was decided at the meeting to constitute district-level committees to be headed by the Presidents of the district Congress committees and would include all MPs, MLAs, both sitting and former.


Forum orders insurance co to pay 5 lakh to complainant
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 10
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed the local branch of Oriental Insurance Company Limited to pay Rs 5 lakh to Mrs Gurmeet Kaur, widow of Amarjit Singh Marwaha, a local resident, against the policy under which her husband was insured for Rs 5 lakh.

In its judgement, the forum, comprising Mr J.P. Gupta, president of the forum, Mr S.K. Bhatia and Mrs M.K. Chawla, both members of the forum, has also allowed the complaint of Mrs Gurmeet Kaur against the insurance company with costs quantified at Rs 2,500. The forum has also directed the insurance company to pay the amount within 30 days from the date of receipt of certified copy of the judgement, failing which the said amount of Rs 5 lakh would also carry an interest of 18 per cent per annum till realisation.

In her complaint, made to the forum, Mrs Gurmeet Kaur had stated that her husband, Amarjit Singh Marwaha, had purchased a policy (No. 36324) on February 2, 1999, for Rs 5 lakh from the insurance company, which was valid upto February 1, 2011. But on September 16, 2001, her son, Japanjot Singh, while playing with some children came to the top of the stairs. In a bid to save the child, her husband went to the site, but slipped, leading to minor injuries and pain in the chest. He was taken to the Ropar Civil Hospital immediately where he died after treatment for some time. Dr Gurpal Singh, who treated the patient, found the cause of death of her husband as cardiac arrest with M.I. precipitated by fall from the stairs, she added.

The complainant was the nominee of the deceased. She, accordingly, filled up the claim form for obtaining the amount of the policy and also complied with formalities, but the amount was not paid to her despite various representations. On the other hand, the insurance company repudiated the claim on March 21,2002. This forced the complainant to file a complaint with the forum against the insurance company.

In its reply, the insurance company stated that the insured person had died as a result of cardiac arrest with M.I. and not by fall from the stairs. The claim had been repudiated for reasons mentioned in the repudiation letter. The company also raised various preliminary objections, including that the complainant had no locus standi to file the complaint and the complaint filed was not maintainable.

After hearing the arguments of counsels of both parties, the forum announced its verdict.


Farmers harden stance on ‘false’ complaints by labourers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10
Landlord—labourer relations have plummeted to a new low in the Malwa region with recent disturbance at Moondkhera village, near here, resulting in farmers hardening their stand and nearly 15 village panchayats getting together to tackle the problem of “false” cases registered against them, under the Bonded Labour Act, by Dalit labourers working under them.

This has become a sensitive issue in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts with landlords claiming that many Dalit labourers had left service at the behest of a Phillaur-based organisation.

They said the labourers had now appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to register cases against their former employees under the Bonded Labour Act.

The farmers claimed that none of the “aggrieved” labourers was ever treated as a bonded labourer and alleged that they had approached the NHRC to evade paying debts.

Landlords from Momian, Rampur Parta, Butasinghwala, Thudia Sodiwal, Harchadndpur, Sadharanpur, Bakraha, Arnetu, Dera Bikanerian, Seonakath and other villages collected at a gurdwara in Badhahpur village yesterday to discuss the issue.

The farmers expressed resentment that the labourers, after taking annual pay in advance as well as loan amounts, were now leaving work and filing “false” cases against them.

The meeting, which took the shape of a “kisan sammelan”, appealed to the government to save them from such cases. The farmers also claimed that if nothing was done in this regard, suicides among the landlords would increase. This, they said, was because the farmers were already going through a bad phase and had to borrow money to give advances to their labourers.

They said loans given by the farmers were lost with the labourers indulging in litigations. Moreover, the farmers could neither hire more labour nor ask commission agents for more loans.

The immediate provocation for the sammelan was the allegation by some labourers of Sadharanpur village that they were being made to work like bonded labourers by some farmers of the nearby Seonakath village.

The labourers have now approached the Patiala Deputy Commissioner, through the Dalit Dasta Virodhi Andolan, claiming that the farmers of Seonakath village had formed a committee and announced a social boycott against them from the village gurdwara.

The labourers alleged that they were not being allowed to cut fodder and shopkeepers had been directed not give them provisions.

Meanwhile, in another application submitted to the District administration of Fatehgarh Sahib today , Dalit labourer Gurmail Singh accused a farmer of calculating his pay and other dues “unfairly”.

The labourer accused the landlord of claiming Rs 50,000 in dues from him even though he had been paid only Rs 5,000 of his annual wage of Rs 22, 000. The applicant also alleged that the landlord had threatened his family and despite complaints to the administration no action had been taken in the case.

Sources said while there were problems in calculation of debts in some cases, but the labourers were being misled against the farmers which was tearing the social fabric of the villages apart.

Karnail Singh of Samana said the farmers had to give annual pay of the labourers in advance, which invited provisions of the Bonded Labour Act and forced them to take harsh steps like the boycott of families of “aggrieved” labourers at Moondkhera village.


MC demolishes 24 buildings
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 10
More than 100 employees of the local municipal council accompanied by a strong contingent of the police today demolished more than two dozen commercial and residential buildings situated between the Power House road and the Ajit road to clear the encroachments on the 100 feet wide Sector road in the city.

Though most of the owners of the demolished building did not resist the demolition operation, the district administration had taken adequate measures to prevent any untoward incident. Two SP-rank officers, Mr Rajinder Singh and Mr Nilabh Kishore, SDM Upjeet Singh Brar and Executive Officer of the municipal council Kamal Kant supervised the demolition operation.

The demolition operation was started early in the morning. Two bulldozers and several tractors and trucks were pressed into service to remove the debris. Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) cleared the electrical fittings from the demolished buildings.

Official sources said the owners of the demolished buildings and the local municipal council authorities had been having dispute for about 20 years over the proposal of widening the road. The matter was solved when the Punjab and Haryana High Court ordered the demolition recently.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said Rs 18 lakh would be given to the owners of the demolished buildings. He added that the PSEB authorities had been directed to remove electricity polls erected in the middle of the cleared road and put them back on one side.

Mr Amritpal Singh Brar, general secretary of the NCP, Punjab, and various other voluntary bodies of the town appreciated the action of the administration.


Press presents pitiful picture
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 10
Once know as the Bhupindra State Press, the sprawling Government Press spread over six acres of prime land on the Sirhind Road is today an antiquity used to publish low-grade printing material through presses which function in bits and spurts with many of them lying idle for want of repairs.

The press does have a single computer and still has a hand-composing section and letter presses which are not being used by even small publishers nowadays. Ironically, out of the five letter presses, three are lying idle as it does not have funds to even carry out small repairs.

One of its two colour offset machines has been lying idle since 1992 for want of repairs. It has not been able to find even the Rs 2 lakh needed to repair the machine. This offset machine is the only one bought after 1972. Five letter presses were brought from the HMT factory in 1983, out of which three are not functioning. No other modern machine has been brought by the press since then.

The production has decreased in recent years. The offset machines were put in use for the whole day by going in for two shifts. However now only one shift system is in force due to paucity of staff, which is not being recruited for years.

The government has been apparently indifferent to dispose of paper and other equipment of the press worth nearly Rs 1 crore damaged during the 1993 floods. This paper, which could have fetched some money by being sold as scrap, has been allowed to rot further as it is exposed to sun and rain in a room whose large glass ventilators on the roof have remained broken for years.

Press administrator-cum-additional controller Kiran Pal Brar, when contacted, said the damaged paper could not be disposed of till now because an inquiry was pending in the case. Ms Brar, who took over last month, said she would take a decision on the matter within a few days. She said there were also plans to modernise the press and she would meet the Printing and Stationery Minister shortly in this regard.

Almost all halls used as working rooms to cut, stack and bind material leak during the monsoon. The effect of the rain seems to be more inside the building than outside, said Mr Bajinderpal, an employee. One can see tarpaulins covering stacks of stationery. Pieces of mortar lie on the floor.

Besides this, the wiring system is beyond redemption. Electricians posted there said there was no way they could switch off power in case of any untoward incident due to faults in the main and OCB switches. They said the PSEB authorities would have to be requested to cut the power supply in such a case.

Press employees union president Gurkirpal Singh claimed that the staff strength at the press had been reduced by nearly 40 per cent as there had been no recruitment. He said no funds had been provided for maintaining the building for the past 10 years and bureaucrats posted at the press had not taken any interest in improving the conditions.


Jawans’ kin given Rs 23 lakh assistance
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 10
To provide financial assistance to kin of soldiers who laid down their lives during Indo-Pakistan conflict and to those soldiers who became disabled, the District Sainik Welfare Department organised a function here today. Brigadier Kuldip Singh Kahlon, Director, Sainik Welfare Department, Punjab, presided over the function and provided Rs 23 lakh to 25 families of the district.

Brigadier Kahlon said during different Army operations from January 1, 1999, such as Operation Rakshak, Operation Vijay and Operation Parakaram at least 310 Army personnel from Punjab had sacrificed their lives out of which 57 were from this district. He said though some of the states had curtailed facilities being given to the families of martyr soldiers, but the Punjab Government was still providing all facilities to them, which includes, ex gratia grant of Rs 2 lakh, one residential plot or Rs 5 lakh in cash and government employment to one member of the martyr family.

These facilities were in addition to those being given by the Union Defence Ministry. He said 23 petrol stations and 16 cooking gas agencies had been provided to families of those martyrs of the state who had lost their lives in different operations after January 1, 1999.

Besides the Sainik Welfare Department, Punjab had recommended the names of eight members of martyr families or disabled PCS posts, 18 for Class 1, 94 for Class III and 54 for Class IV posts. Out of which five had been provided service in PCS, 16 in Class 1, 70 in Class III and 54 in Class IV cadres. The remaining recommended persons would get posts according to their qualification at the earliest.


Potable water projects for villages
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said today that potable water projects would be set up in villages of the district under the sector reform scheme on a ‘first come, first served’ basis.

Mr Verma was addressing a meeting of members of panchayat held here as part of an awareness campaign. He said almost all panchayats had requested for setting up the projects in their respective villages.

As many as 55 members of panchayats participated in the meeting on the first day of the campaign. They were apprised of the benefits of the scheme.

Mr Verma said efforts would be made to give grant immediately after the respective panchayats deposited their share totalling 10 per cent of the total expenditure. The scheme is sponsored by the Centre.


Pensioners hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 10
On a call given by the Punjab State Pensioners’ Confederation, a large number of pensioners of the district led by confederation president Prem Sagar Sharma, today staged a dharna and held a rally in the district administrative complex here in support of their demands.

Their demands include grant of gratuity to the pensioners as per the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court of May 3, this year, revival of dearness relief for widow pensioners, LTC facility and 1 per cent increase in pension after every year for those pensioners who had served the government for 33 years.

Mr Ajit Singh Bagri, general secretary of the confederation, Mr Narinder Singh and Mr Darshan Singh Kherri, president and general secretary respectively of the district Pensioners’ Association, also spoke on the occasion.


One killed, 7 army men hurt in accident
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 10
One person was killed and 7 Army personnel injured in a road accident near Mamdot yesterday.

According to the details available, an Army truck collided with another truck coming from the opposite side resulting into the accident.

The driver of the private truck Sukhdev Singh died on the spot while seven Army personnel travelling in their truck were injured. They were rushed to the military hospital here where their condition is said to be out of danger.

The police has registered an FIR at Mamdot police station.


No grudges against govt, say Joga’s kin
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
Family members of Jagir Singh Joga, freedom fighter and Communist leader, have no resentment against the government and the district administration in connection with the bhog of Joga who died a few days ago. They said representatives of the government and the administration were present at the ceremony.

Dr Gurdarshan Singh and Dr Harminderjeet Kaur, son and daughter-in-law of Joga, said in a statement that the views expressed by some Communist leaders that the government had “neglected” the bhog were their own.

The Communist leaders had condemned the government for not giving due honour to Joga.


Keetu’s brother given bail
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 10
The sessions court has granted anticipatory bail to Gurdip Singh Deepa, brother of SAD MLA Malkit Singh Keetu, in a case registered against them on August 15, under the Excise Act.

The SAD MLA was arrested on the spot and is now on bail. Hearing the plea of defence counsel, the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr S.S. Khera, granted anticipatory bail to the co-accused.


Octroi collection to be privatised
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 10
As the revenue generated by the local municipal council through Octroi has fallen drastically during the past four months, a resolution was passed by councillors today to award octroi collection to private parties on contract.

Though a group of councillors, led by former municipal council president Jagroop Singh Gill, opposed the resolution, it was passed by the ruling SAD-BJP group after the President of the council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, cast his vote in its favour.

Official information revealed that the octroi collection in the past four months had come down by Rs 1.5 crore as compared to the octroi collected in the corresponding period last year.

Official sources said for the past many months, the council authorities had been facing difficulties to check octroi evasion due to an acute shortage of staff.

As many as 22 posts of peon and 16 of clerk have been lying vacant in the octroi wing. The state government has decided to abolish all vacant posts. The wing has been functional without any superintendent. Two posts of inspector have also been lying vacant.

Mr Bhullar said owing to the shortage of staff, octroi posts were not manned properly. The authorities had been finding it difficult to set up posts at more points which had been used by a section of traders to evade octroi. He had also convened a special meeting in this connection, he added.

Mr Gill said the authorities should fill vacancies to increase its vigilance and catch octroi evaders instead of privatising the octroi collection.

Meanwhile, Mr Krishan Kumar Garg, leader of BJP councillors, demanded that the probe pertaining to various bunglings in development works, waiver of house tax and awarding of a contract for sanitation should be transferred to the state Vigilance Department.


6 conductors sacked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
The Punjab Government has terminated the services of a General Manager, a Traffic manager and six conductors of the Transport Department for their involvement in the Muktsar depot tickets scandal, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, said here today. Those whose services had been terminated are: Mr Jagdip Singh Galwati (General Manager), Mr Amarjit Singh Sandhu (Traffic Manager), and Mr Balkar Singh, Mr Jarnail Singh, Mr Salwant Singh, Mr Charanjit Singh, Mr Iqbal Singh and Mr Sham Sunder (all conductors).


Sacked Panchayat Secretaries begin agitation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 10
Panchayat Secretaries, who were removed from service, have launched an agitation here. Their two colleagues — Ravinder Singh and Baljit Singh — have started an indefinite fast to press the Punjab Government to reinstate them.

Mr Des Raj, press secretary of the Panchayat Secretaries Union, said today that the Congress had promised to reinstate them. However, it had not keep its promise after forming the government in Punjab.

There were about 400 secretaries whose services were terminated.


Arms stolen from ‘malkhana’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 10
Another case of the nexus among criminals, judicial officials and police has come to light. The police has claimed to have achieved a major breakthrough in busting a gang involved in stealing arms from the judicial “malkhana”, allegedly in connivance with some policemen and judicial officials. These arms were reportedly sold to criminals across the country.

The SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, in a press conference here said today that the arrest of the kingpin was likely to open a Pandora’s box.

Constable Kulwant Singh, posted on security duty at the Amritsar judicial “malkhana”, had been accused of stealing the weapons.

Another constable, Tajinder Singh, posted at Amanat Khan police station, Amritsar, had been arrested along with some other gang members, including Sunesh Joshi of Delhi, Narinder Pal Singh Gill of Manimajra and Sucha Singh of Amritsar.

Efforts were on to identify the judicial officials involved in the case. It was also being apprehended that records of the judicial malkhana might have been tampered with, the SSP said.

One .30 bore pistol and four cartridges had been seized so far.

The gang also allegedly stole vehicles. One Honda City, four Zen cars and four Maruti cars had been recovered.

A case under Sections 371, 411, 465, 420, 468 and 471 IPC, and Sections, 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act had been registered against the accused.


Clerk sentenced to 2-year jail term
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 10
The Special Judge, Mr J.P. Mehmi, has sentenced Gurdial, a clerk of the Block Primary Education Office (BPEO), Alawalpur, to undergo rigorous imprisonment for two years and imposed a fine of Rs 1000 on him for demanding and accepting a sum of Rs 500 from Om Parkash for processing the increment file of his wife two years ago.

The judge further ordered that in case of default of payment of fine, the accused would undergo further rigorous imprisonment for six months under section 7 read with 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Om Parkash in his complaint submitted to the Vigilance Bureau on December 1, 2000 alleged that Gurdial, was harassing his wife Raj Kumari by not clearing her file regarding grant of increment for the past one month. He said though Gurdial had demanded Rs 1000 for getting her work done, the deal was settled for Rs 500. Subsequently, a Vigilance Bureau team along with two shadow witnesses caught the accused red handed outside the BPEO office on December 4, 2000 while accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from Om Parkash.

The Special Judge, in his order, said the period during which the accused was in detention in connection with the present case shall be set off against the sentence of imprisonment imposed on him.


‘Kale kachhewale’ strike again
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 10
Panic has spread among residents of Majitha after the attacks of the “kale kachhewale” gang on several houses on the second consecutive day. About seven such incidents have been reported during the post couple of days in which the gang has seriously injured several persons and looted thousands of rupees.

On the second consecutive day, the six-member gang attacked three houses in the Majitha police district. The gang attacked the house of Mr Balwinder Singh at Chhajalwari, in which Mr Balwinder Singh and his wife Kulwinder Kaur were seriously injured.

In a similar incident the gang attacked the houses of Mr Mahinder Singh and Mr Avtar Singh in the same area and decamped with valuables.

Sources in the police said the gang also looted the houses of Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr Gurmej Singh and Mr Hardev Singh in Chohan village in Majitha and decamped with jewellery and cash.

However, Ms Shashi Prabha, SSP, Majitha, could not be contacted for comments.


Flesh trade racket busted, 6 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 10
The district police has busted a flesh trade racket with the arrest of six persons, including two women, under the Prevention of Immoral Traffic Act at Dakoha village, near here, today.

According to the police, after receiving a tip-off, a police team raided the residence of Swaran Singh where it arrested Hardeep Singh of Raipur Rasoolpur village, Sukhwinder Kumar, Jaswinder Kaur, Satya Rani, all residents of Noorpur village, Harpreet Singh and Swaran Singh of Dakoha village. They were remanded in judicial custody for 14 days by the Ilaqa Magistrate.


Three held with poppy husk
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
The police has arrested three persons and seized 120 kg of poppy husk in the district.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note said here today that Gurdeep Singh of Gurusar village was arrested from a village under the Dayalpura police station and 105 kg of poppy husk was recovered from his car.

Pala Singh of the Glaso locality here was arrested from the Sangat police station area with 10kg of poppy husk. Gurdeep Singh of Tungwali village was also held with 5 kg of poppy husk.

They have been booked under Sections 15, 61,and 85 of the NDPS Act.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested 9 persons and seized 70 kg of lahan, 36 bottles of ilicit liquor, 96 bottles of countrymade liquor. Cases have been registered against them.

Ten persons have been arrested under the Gambling Act while cases have been ragistered against five. An amount of Rs 15, 335 has been recovered from them.


Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, September 10
A 32-year-old man of Kuranwala village on the Dera Bassi-Barwala road allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison this morning.

The police said the deceased Baba consumed some poisonous substance after purchasing it from a shop from the Dera Bassi market, following which his health deteriorated. He was noticed unconscious by some local residents and was taken to the civil hospital, Dera Bassi.

The doctors referred him to the PGI in Chandigarh, where he was declared ‘brought dead’. After sending the body to the civil hospital at Rajpura for postmortem examination, the Dera Bassi police started inquest proceedings under Section 174 of the Criminal Procedure Code.


Student bodies press VC to allow poll
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, September 10
Almost all student bodies of Punjabi University, under the banner of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, told the authorities concerned here yesterday to hold elections to the students’ council immediately. The student bodies had given a memorandum to the Dean, Students Welfare, Dr N.S. Kapoor, here yesterday in this regard.

The DSW met the newly appointed Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Boparai, here today to discuss the issue. However, the VC said these elections were a matter for the state government, not the university. No student-body elections have been conducted in the state since 1983, when these had been banned in the state in the wake of militancy.

Several student bodies, including the Students Federation of India (SFI), the Sikh Students Federation (SSF) and the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarathi Parishad (ABVP) had been urging the university authorities for the past many years to allow the elections. These bodies had had several meetings with the DSW in the past three days and urged him to meet the VC in this regard.

The bodies also launched a signature campaign on the campus today to gather support for the election demand. They sought support even from teachers and had more than 260 in their pocket by the end of the day. With the campus littered with campaign posters, student leaders are confident that the state government will allow the elections to be held. Most of the leaders said there would be an agitation if the demand was not met.

The president of the Sikh Students Federation (SSF), Jaspal Singh Manjipur, said the absence of an elected student body had resulted in much exploitation of students. “Students, especially freshers, generally don’t know whom to approach in case of a problem. If there was an elected student body, things would be different,” he said. He also said the ban on elections had lost its relevance, now, as militancy was over.

Gurtej Singh Teji, president of the Students Federation of India (SFI), said the state should allow the elections, as an elected student body would give students a forum that could redress their grievances.

The Registrar of the university, Dr K.S. Sidhu, when contacted, said government’s permission was mandatory for holding the elections and any statement in this regard would have to come from the Punjab government.


BDS counselling: students threaten to move court
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 10
More than 90 students are protesting against the indifferent attitude of the authorities of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and members of the selection committee. They were reportedly not allowed to appear for counselling to the BDS course at Baba Farid Sabhyacharak Kendra here today.

They alleged that in spite of having got high ranks in the merit list, they were not interviewed under the plea that they had not given the option for appearing in the BDS interview after failing to get admission to the MBBS course on September 3.

Col Jagmohan Walia (retd) and Mr G.S. Tiwana, parents, said after the completion of the MBBS counselling, they had met Mr G.S. Bindra, coordinator of the university, who told them that the names of the students would strictly be considered on merit for the BDS interview. He also had clarified that mentioning the course in the form was not necessary.

The students threatened to move court on this issue.

Dr A.S. Gill, Principal, Government Dental College, Amritsar, and chairman of the committee, said the entire process had been conducted according to the norms of the state government.

In spite of efforts, Dr J. S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of the university, could not be contacted.


NRI alumni bring in cool change
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 10
Students putting up in Boys’ Hostel Number 6 of Punjabi University will soon have an air-conditioned study room on the premises. Thanks to donations made by former students of the university settled abroad, the university will not have to bear these expenses.

An alumnus has donated more than Rs 1 lakh for installing the ACs, carpets, chairs and fans in the new reading room that 60 students will be able to use at one time. The donor has requested anonymity.

Dr Sarabjinder Singh, warden of the hostel, who took over the charge recently, is the man who invited alumni settled abroad to chip in with funds for improving the hostel facilities. He says that the improvements will allow students putting up in the hostel to study in comfort in high summer. “This was my hostel when I was a student, so, I know how uncomfortable it is to study in cramped rooms in summer,” he says.

The warden said he wanted more such alumni to help the university, as the Rs 30,000 contingency fund for the hostels was far too less to bring any improvement. Some alumni have recently donated water-coolers and fans to the hostel. “Some of alumni and my friends settled in Canada have asked the university to plan new projects for the hostel, for which, more than Rs 1 lakh has been promised,” he says.


ETT students hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 10
Students of the Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) course staged a dharna at the local Ambedkar Park today to press their demands.

The students alleged that the new education policy drafted by the state government was an attempt to legalise the contract system of employment and the government wanted to slow down the employment of ETT degree holders.

The spokesman for the students said they had been boycotting their classes for the past few days but the authorities did not pay heed to their demands. He said the state government was trying to introduce two-year compulsory internship, which had not been stated in the prospectus when they were given admission. He said their course already included teaching training at government schools and there was no need to introduce the two-year internship.

The students held a demonstration holding placards and shouted slogans against the state government, the Chief Minister and the Education Minister. The ETT students were agitating under the banner of the DIET Students Welfare Association.


DIET students hold rally
Tribune Reporters

Nawanshahr, September 10
Hundreds of students of the District Institutes of Education Training (DIET) on a call given by the Students Welfare Association today staged a protest march in the town and held a rally in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner to protest against the new education policy of the Punjab Government.

Mr Som Nath, president of the association, Mr Kulwinder Singh Chahal, state secretary PSU, Mr Prem Rakker, GTU, addressed the gathering. They said they would intensify the stir if the government did not withdraw the new education policy. They also submitted a memorandum to the ADC, Mr Sumer Singh Gurjar.

JALANDHAR: The indefinite dharna by students of the local DIET outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner entered its 11th day on Tuesday.

The press secretary of the DIET Students Welfare Association, Mr Sanjeev Kapur, said the clause of the new education policy making it mandatory for every student, admitted to ETT courses, to undergo two years of internship was a cruel joke on students, he alleged.


Students seek woman Principal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 10
A large number of students from the local Government Polytechnic Institute for Women today observed a strike and held a demonstration in support of their demands. They also objected to the behaviour of the Principal.

They demanded the shifting of the Principal and said there should be a woman Principal. They also criticised the hostel management for providing poor facilities to them. Mr Ajay Kumar, officiating Principal, declined to comment on the issue.

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