Thursday, September 12, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Arms theft: ‘malkhana’ sealed, cops suspended
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The “sadar malkhana” in the district court complex where thousands of weapons have been stacked in an “unscientific” manner has been sealed by the district police even as the two cops responsible for the stealing of firearms have been suspended.

The inquiry officers have taken the entire record of the weapons into the custody and a high-level probe is being conducted by Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City).

Sources in the police said the weapons which were unaccounted for had been stolen by the guards on duty with the connivance of lower staff of the judiciary. The sources pointed out that it was difficult to count the weapons as they were kept in a haphazard manner.

The arms stolen from the judicial “malkhana” had been sold to criminals across the country. The sources pointed out that many crimes were committed with the “stolen” weapons.

Senior police officials said it was extremely difficult to conduct physical verification of “malkhana” as no system was applied while depositing the weapons of undertrials or seized arms and ammunition. While deciding the cases by various courts, the judicial officers hardly get time for physical verification of the weapons.

After the judgements of courts when the weapons are disposed of in the presence of the expert committee some unscrupulous officials could easily withheld some of them. Later the stolen weapons could be sold in the “black market”, the sources said.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has already taken serious note of the fact that seized contrabands, instead of being disposed of after following due procedure have been kept in “malkhanas”. The high court has directed the Home Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to file affidavits in this regard. It was also directed to prepare inventory of the seized contrabands stacked in the “malkhanas”.

The police officials, on the condition of anonymity, said though the “scam” of the stealing of weapons had been unearthed with the chance arrest of a cop by the Ropar police yet the practice had been going on unchecked for a long time. However, this is for the first time that the “theft” from the “malkhanas” had been detected.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Ropar police had arrested two constables — Tejinder Paul Singh and Kulwant Singh — both of Amritsar along with some other gang members, including Sunesh Joshi of Delhi, Narinder Paul Singh Gill of Manimajra and Sucha Singh of Amritsar. Efforts are on to identify the judicial officials involved in the stealing of the weapons.

Meanwhile, a fresh case has been registered against Kulwant Singh and Buta Singh — both constables at the Civil Lines here under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code. Both cops have also been suspended with immediate effect.

The unearthing of the scam is said to be just the tip of the iceberg.


Punjab budget model for other states
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
The Punjab budget, 2002-03, has been accepted as a ‘’model’’ for the other states to follow taking into consideration its several unique features. This was accepted at a meeting of the state Finance Ministers, presided over by the Union Finance Minister, in New Delhi on September 7.

As a follow up, a two-day meeting is beginning in New Delhi tomorrow to discuss the fiscal decline in the states and corrective measures needed to set the same in order. A strategy to evolve a ‘’national consensus’’ to replicate the Punjab budget will be evolved at the meeting, say sources.

Consequently, the Union finance minister proposes to convene a meeting of the state Chief Ministers for mid-October to draw a new countrywide fiscal responsibility and budget management code and consensus. That meeting would be addressed by the Prime Minister.

Meanwhile, Dr Ashim Das Gupta, Chairman of the high powered Committee of the state Finance Ministers, did some plain-speaking at the September 7 meeting. He reportedly said that the combined budget of all states is about Rs 4,15,000 crore against the Union Budget of Rs 3,80,000 crore. The combined figure of all states, in terms of revenue deficit, is Rs 47,000 crore and that of the Union Budget Rs 80,000 crore. While the RBI off and on issued the stop payment order to states, the Union Government was exempted though states usually followed the Centre when it comes to employees’ wages, salaries, pensions, allowances etc. There is need for a ‘’national consensus’’ on taking uniform corrective measures by all states and even by the Centre. It is in this context that the corrective measures contained in the Punjab budget have emerged as a ‘’model’’ for the other states to emulate.

During the next two days the state finance ministers will also deliberate on issues like creation of additional judicial courts and higher pay scales recommended for the judiciary by the Supreme Court, widening tax base for the states, economic measures to improve finances, ways-and- means balance, overdrafts by the states and the role of the RBI, discussion on devolution of funds to states under the centrally sponsored schemes with states being allowed to earmark funds, as per their local requirements etc. All states, sources said, were worried on account of heavy outgo on salaries, wages, pensions (and ways and means to freeze these), interest repayments on loans, leave encashment, additional dearness allowance, bonus, revision of pay scales, creation or ban on posts, commutation of pension etc.


Crackdown on illegal bus service
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 11
The decade-old racket of plying illegal luxury tourist buses between Jalandhar and Delhi, has suffered a setback following a crackdown by the State Transport Department authorities during the past about one month.

In a virtual absence of any action, Jalandhar had become as a haven for transporters indulging in illegal plying of luxury buses on the Amritsar-Jalandhar-Delhi route, causing huge financial loss to the state exchequer on account of tax evasion, running into crores of rupees.

Such transporters, running a parallel bus service in shape of about 40 ‘tourist” buses, were so powerful for their proximity with the powers that be that their illegal activity involved little government action despite complaints by the Punjab Roadways authorities in past 10 years and despite the fact that the government lost crores of rupees in shape of tax revenue. The modus operandl of such transporters, according to Transport Department sources, was to evade tax, by showing their buses as tourist vehicles with Delhi registration numbers and by plying these from Amritsar and Jalandhar during night. Tax for carrying passengers to Delhi is Rs 3200 for one side.

Forced by the financial crunch, the transport authorities, started a drive against such operators by impounding 28 buses in the past one month, thus, causing panic among operators, most of whom used to book their passengers from Mota Singh Nagar market during night even as rules stipulated that no tourist bus operator could ticket or carry any passenger, except for tourists, that too, in groups.

According to the sources Jalandhar had emerged as a hub of illegal bus operators as it was heartland of Doaba region, known for heavy inflow of NRIs. “Almost 90 per cent of operators had settled here and had been running their buses on the Jalandhar-Delhi route comfortably till the recent crackdown” admitted a senior official of the department. He said though such operators were using AC buses to attract passengers, yet most of buses used by them were those which were more than 15 year old and were to be discarded as per the Delhi court orders.

When contacted, Mr Vinay Bublani, District Transport Officer, said according to his information 39 buses were plying on the Amritsar-Jalandhar-Delhi route illegally, of which 28 were impounded by his department during special night nakas put up on the highway.

Meanwhile, sources said perturbed by the night nakas, these transporters had started using link roads. They were also using pilot vehicles and mobile phones to avoid detection.


Ashok Hotel to be disinvested: Jagmohan
Sushil Goyal and Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, September 11
The Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, Mr Jagmohan, today assured all possible financial help for the completion of Khalsa heritage complex here, but did not announce anything substantial much to the chagrin of the Punjab Government.

The Punjab Government had pinned high hopes on the visit of the union minister as the Rs 210 crore has been facing rough weather due to the paucity of funds. The Chief Minister, who was to accompany the minister to the complex today, could not come due to poor health.

The union minister after visiting the under construction site of the complex said he was impressed with the concept.

Officials of the L&T and National Institute of Design gave a demonstration on final designs of the complex. An official of the L&T Company on the condition of anonymity said the company has spent about Rs 8 crore from its own accounts on the project. “However, going by the reputation of Mr Jagmohan, we are hopeful that if he had assured finances they might finally flow in for the project,” he said.

Mr Jagmohan while addressing a press conference later stated that the Union Tourism Ministry would strive to develop the area around Anandpur Sahib as a hub of cultural tourism. The proximity to Chandigarh, which has an airport, the presence of important religious places as the Takht Shri Keshgarh Sahib and the Naina Devi Temple and the scenic sub-mountainous terrain of region gives area around Anandpur Sahib a great potential as a tourist spot.

The government would also consider the idea of promoting foreign tourists for a joint trip of Kurukshetra, Chandigarh, Amritsar and Anandpur Sahib. He said a meeting was held today with the Minister for Tourism Punjab, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, to develop Amritsar as a prime tourist destination.

Amritsar has been selected as the 26th prime place in the country for the development of tourism by the Union Government. Under the plan to develop Amritsar as a prime tourist spot the Union Government would issue financial aid for the development of tourist spots in and around Amritsar.

When asked about the future of the under construction Chandigarh-based Ashok Hotel, the minister said a final decision had been taken for its disinvestment. The bids for selling the hotel had been invited and the deal would be finalised very soon. About the Anandpur Sahib-based Hotel Punjab Ashok, which was developed during the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa as a joint venture of the ITDC and the PTDC, the minister said he had no knowledge about it.

The Secretary, Tourism, Ms Geetica Kalha, then intervened and said the decision to disinvestment the hotel would be taken very soon. About the proposed ropeway project connecting Anandpur Sahib and Naina Devi, the minister said that he was personally against ropeways.


PSEB to urge panel for fuel surcharge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
Close on the hike in power tariff for all categories of consumers, the PSEB is now petitioning the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission to pass on increase in coal prices and royalty by coal producing states to consumers.

The Board has prepared the petition following around 9 per cent average increase in coal prices by various coal companies and increase in royalty charges by Bihar and Jharkhand and is likely to be submitted to the commission in a few days.

The Board has calculated that it will have to pay an additional amount totalling Rs 27 crore to the coal companies in this financial year. It has requested for a two paise fuel surcharge to be imposed on all consumers.

Earlier this month, Southern Coalfields which had supplied around 54 lakh tonnes of coal to the board increased its rate for the C-grade coal from Rs 680 to Rs 721 per tonne. Bharat Coking Coal Limited which had supplied around 10 lakh tonnes of the E-grade coal had increased its prices from Rs 514 to Rs 527 per tonne.

Eastern Coalfields has increased its prices for the B-grade coal from Rs 1,317 to Rs 1,370 per tonne and South Eastern Coal Fields had increased its prices for the B-grade coal from Rs 1,034 to Rs 1,090 per tonne.


Trader, kin among Rajdhani victims
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
A local industrialist Sajjan Kumar Naharia is reported to be among those killed in the Rajdhani Express accident near Rafi Ganj Railway Station in Dhanbad district of Bihar. Sajjan Kumar, 55, was returning from Kolkata, where he had gone to attend a family function. His sister-in-law Kailash Rani and brother-in-law Atul Kumar also died in the accident. His daughter, who is married in Bhiwani, had reportedly broken her spine. She has been admitted to a hospital. They were trevelling in AS-1 bogey of the train, which fell in the river.

A pal of gloom descended on the house of Sajjan Kumar as the news of his death reached here. While both his sons Munish Kumar and Kishen Kumar had left for Delhi to receive the body, his nephew Mahavir said Sajjan Kumar and his wife had gone to Kolkata some days back to attend the birthday function of a son of his brother-in- law.

Sajjan Kumar’s wife Motia Rani was also scheduled to return with her husband. However, due to the ailment of her mother in Kolkota she could not accompany her husband. She is yet to learn about the death of her husband, brother and sister.

Sajjan Kumar was one of the leading shawl manufacturers of Ludhiana. His manufacturing unit is located at the Chaura Bazar. Relatives, friends and neighbours started arriving at their Civil Lines residence after the news of his death was received here. The family learnt about his death only during the day and immediately both his sons left for Delhi.


Bail for PPSC ex-Secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Punjab Public Service Commission’s former Secretary Pritpal Singh was today granted bail in a cheating case by a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Delivering the verdict on his bail application, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, directed that the petitioner should be released on bail subject to his furnishing bail bond of Rs 1 lakh, along with two sureties of Rs 50,000 each, to the satisfaction of Patiala’s Sessions Judge.

In their detailed order, the Judges further directed that the petitioner should not try to contact PPSC members, officials or candidates. In case of violation of the directions, the state could move an application for the cancellation of bail, the Judges concluded.

They further observed that after going through the documents and hearing arguments in the case they were satisfied that the petitioner deserved to be released on bail during the pendency of the trial.

Pritpal Singh, confined in Patiala’s Central Jail, was booked in a case registered in April under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471-A and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. He was accused of bringing answer sheets from the PPSC office at Patiala to suspended chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu’s Sector 10 residence. According to the prosecution, he was also Sidhu’s close friend.

Seeking grant of bail, Pritpal Singh, in his petition taken up by the Bench, had contended that the accused was being implicated in the case and compilation of the results was a part of his official duty.


Kohar’s judicial remand extended
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 11
The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr A.S. Grewal, today extended the judicial remand of a former Punjab minister and president of district unit of the SAD, Ajit Singh Kohar, who is facing charges of amassing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income, for 14 days.

The CJM ordered the police to produce the accused, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau under the Prevention of Corruption Act last month, in the court on September 25.

Kohar, in an application filed before the court, alleged that Vigilance Bureau officials were harassing him during the judicial custody by pressurising him to sign an affidavit and some other documents about his assets and properties. Kohar, through his counsel, prayed to the CJM to instruct the Vigilance Bureau officials not to harass him during the judicial custody under the garb of investigation.

The CJM reportedly reserved the order on the application of the former Jails Minister. Earlier, Kohar was produced in the court amid tight security. Hundreds of Akali workers, who had assembled outside the court complex, were seen raising anti-government slogans.

Later, talking to reporters after appearing in the court, Kohar said he had full faith in the judiciary and justice would prevail.


Wards: notification ‘illegal’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 11
Though the Punjab Government has not created new wards according to the determination of number of elected members and reservation of offices of presidents of Municipalities Rules 1994, the exercise for the revision of electoral rolls started today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that according to Schedule 1 of Rules 1994, the Punjab Government had to follow the mandatory provision of creating new wards according to the population of the town where the elections were to be held.

After creating new wards, the reservation of the same for the Schedule Caste and women (general) could be done. Only after meeting these formalities the exercise of the revision of electoral rolls could be started.

As per the Determination of number of Elected members and Reservation of offices of presidents of Municipalities Rules 1994, Schedule 1, for every municipality in a town having population ranging between 1.5 lakh and 1.75 lakh, the creation of 35 wards is mandatory, for those municipalities where the population of towns ranges between 1.75 lakh and 2 lakh and from 2 lakh to 2.5 lakh, the creation of 37 and 39 wards respectively is mandatory.

Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, former president, local municipal council and member PPCC, in a letter to Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh and Local Bodies Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, urged them to stop the revision of electoral rolls as it would be of no use till the new wards were created according to Rules 1994 schedule 1.

He added that hundreds of teachers and employees of different departments had been pressed into service for the revision of electoral rolls.

He said he had made Capt Amarinder Singh aware of the fact that if anybody approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court through writ petition for directing the state government to create new wards according to Rules 1994 schedule 1, the state government would have to face embarrassment in that case.

He added that as per the latest census the population of Bathinda had reached at 2.17 lakh and hence it should have 39 wards. But no new ward had been created though the revision of electoral rolls had started. He added that it was a clear-cut violation of the Rules 1994.


NDA team to visit soon: Tandon
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 11
A fact-finding National Democratic Alliance team is likely to visit Punjab at the end of this month or in the first week of October to have an on-the-spot assessment of the situation here. This follows allegations by a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, that his party leaders were being victimised by the Amarinder Singh government.

Addressing a press conference here today, before joining the joint dharna of the SAD and the BJP, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, senior BJP leader, denied that the NDA leadership at the Centre had declined to send a fact-finding team to Punjab. He claimed that the SAD and the BJP wanted the visit to be delayed “because we are collecting facts and figures so that these can be presented to the visiting team”, he disclosed, adding that “we will complete our home work in a week or two and only after that the team will visit Punjab”.

On being told that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had challenged them to prove any of the corruption cases wrong, Mr Tandon claimed that all FIRs were manipulated to lead to the desired results.

The BJP leader denied that there was any understanding between his party and the government.

He said whenever the Assembly met again, the SAD-BJP alliance would bring a no-confidence motion against the government.


BJP councillors to withdraw support
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 11
In an unprecedented move, the local BJP leadership has decided to make its municipal councillors withdraw their support to the President of the municipal council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, who belonged to the SAD shortly.

Mr Narinder Mittal, president of the local BJP mandal unit, said today that decision to withdraw support was taken when Mr Bhullar passed a resolution for amending octroi collection on contract allegedly by misguiding the party’s municipal councillors yesterday.

He alleged that the privatisation move was not on the agenda to be discussed at the meeting of the House of the municipal council. When the matter was discussed vertally, BJP councillors, Mr Krishan Kumar Garg and Mr Basant Bhatia opposed it.

However, Mr Bhullar moved a resolution to this effect in the absence of all councillors of the BJP. Both groups of councillors, one led by Mr Bhullar and the other by a former president of the council, Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, cast their votes. Mr Bhullar passed the resolution by casting his vote in favour of the privatisation move as the result had been tied at 8-8.

He pointed out that it was in the manifesto of the BJP that the octroi would be abolished and the same was abolished during the previous SAD-BJP combine government.

He alleged that Mr Bhullar’s action had also caused a setback to the SAD-BJP alliance. He added that Mr Bhullar never bothered to take action whenever BJP councillors raised any matter pertaining to corruption in the council.

Mr Bhullar, denying all allegations, said though there was no formal agenda for the privatisation of octroi collection. But, people and a section of the councillors raised the matter pertaining to drastic fall in the revenue generated from octroi.

He added that when the matter was being discussed, the BJP councillors left the House and did not raise any objection to the matter. He did not misguide any councillor, he added.

He claimed that BJP councillors were never with the SAD councillors and it did not matter whether they withdrew support to him or not.


Writing machines in RPO

Jalandhar, September 11
To streamline the functioning of the Regional Passport Office (RPO), three new writing machines called security printing system (SPS) were introduced today.

The passport written through these machines could not be tampered with as at the bottom of the applicant’s particulars a special code number is also printed and in case of any doubt the code number can be read through special reading machines and matched with the original particulars, Mr Amarjit Singh, Regional Passport Officer said.

“Moreover, the output of making passports will also be increased through these writing machines as now onwards we would be able to make 750 passports against the current number of 600”, he added.

“As the RPO, caters to the Doaba region and two other districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur, which is known as the NRI belt, the number of passport aspirants is quite high and a lot of complaints of tampering with passports are also coming, through these new machines we will be able to deal with the maximum number of applications with maximum security”, he said.

The commissioner, Mr R.S. Sandhu, inaugurated the machines and first passport through these machines was handed over to Mr Rajiv Ahir, Superintendent of Police of the district. PTI


Despite SDM’s orders, case not registered in temple row
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 11
In a twist to the Bhoothnath temple controversy, the Kotwali thana Station House Officer has not registered a case on the directions of the Subdivisional Magistrate, given yesterday.

SDM Manjit Singh Narang had directed the Kotwali SHO to register a case against Prem Dass and others following a representation by the Temple Sudhar Committee of the 400-year-old Bhoothnath temple, near Sanauri adda, in the city. Despite the fact that the directions were received by the police yesterday, a case had not been registered in the matter till now.

Earlier, the police had registered a case against members of the committee, including Mr Ram Kumar Goel, president of the district unit of the BJP. The case had been registered at the instance of Prem Dass who had alleged that Mr Goel and his colleagues had stolen Rs 45,000 from the temple premises besides breaking some idols.

Majority of the members of the committee, which owns the land on which the temple is situated, had given a representation to the SDM on this issue yesterday. The members had alleged that a case had been registered against Mr Goel and others despite the fact that the committee presented “real” facts to the police even before the alleged incident took place on September 4.

In the representation to the SDM, the members alleged that two members of the committee, who had since been expelled, had wanted to construct a marriage palace on prime land belonging to the temple. They said when this request was defeated through a resolution passed by the committee, the two members had brought in a priest, Prem Dass to the temple premises.

They said together with Prem Dass, an attempt was made to hold a “kar seva” in the temple premises on September 3 with the motive of encroaching upon a piece of land. They said, on the following day, the two members, accompanied with some outsiders, broke the store rooms besides stealing a silver “mukat”. They said despite the matter being brought to the notice of the police, a case was registered against members of the temple committee.

The representation of the committee was also accompanied with an affidavit filed by the official priest of the temple, Mr Rakesh Gautam, who said neither Mr Goel nor any other members associated with him had indulged in any illegal act and it was Prem Dass and two other members of the committee who were behind the hooliganism.

Despite the fact that the SDM asked the Kotwali SHO to “look into the matter at a personal level and take immediate action as per law and register a case”, no action had been taken in the matter.


Council to focus on sewer problem
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 11
With the installation of office-bearers of the Municipal Council, Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib, a new era of development would start, said Mr Subhash Sood, a senior Congress leader, while congratulating the newly-elected office-bearers here yesterday. He said the new team would work unitedly for the betterment of the town.

He highlighted various problems being faced by the residents and said the outlet of the sewer water was the main problem and would be solved on priority basis. He said a few hours of rain had exposed loopholes in the sewer system, as the rain water had entered shops and residences of people causing a big loss. He said the outlet pump installed on the council premises was of no use and a new plan had to be chalked out and a main sewer line had to be laid in the Sirhind choe. He said if the council failed to make any arrangements for the disposal of the sullage and sewer water it would always pose a threat to local residents.

He assured the council that he would take up problems with the departments concerned and would urge the Deputy Commissioner to allot the required funds for these projects. He said Dr Harbans Lal, a minister, had also talked with the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, and he had assured to release Rs 1 crore for the development of the town.

Mr Charnjeev Channa, president, and Ms Anita Takyar, senior vice-president of the council, in their address assured that they would try their best to redress the grievances of the residents. They said the development of the town would be initiated on war footing and assured that the corruption would not be tolerated. They said they would also ensure corruption-free council.

Meanwhile, the elections of the three office-bearers of the council and the role played by Mr Sood has been widely acclaimed by various social and religious organisations of the town. Mr R.N. Sharma, president, Citizen’s Welfare Council, Sirhind, congratulated the new team.

Mr Sanjeev Sharma, president, Bharat Vikas Parishad, Mr Sadhu Ram, president, BCC, Mr Sushil Sood, a social worker, Mr Varinder Takyar, Vaid Hari Krishan, Mr Sudhir Arora, Mr Ajit Kumar Manga, Mr Surinder Mohan, all senior Congress leaders, have welcomed the new team.


Punjab poll staff leave for J&K
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 11
As many as 350 employees from different departments left for poll duty in Jammu and Kashmir amid tight security from District Administrative Complex (DAC) here today.

The scene at the complex was very emotional as the parents and relatives of most of the poll staff were there to see them off. Even as the morale of the employees was very high, they were seen optimistic about performing the duty in the terrorism-affected state.

The Punjab Police could be accompanying the contingent up to the Lakhanpur border and the Jammu and Kashmir Police has been entrusted to make necessary arrangements for their security till the completion of the election process in the state.

The Punjab poll staff will be deputed at polling booths in the Jammu region, whereas the poll staff from Uttar Pradesh will be deputed in the rest of the state.


Training for mental hospital staff

Amritsar, September 11
The authorities of Dr Vidya Sagar Mental Hospital have taken steps with the approval of the Punjab Principal Secretary, Health, for imparting special training to the hospital staff to bring changes in their behaviour pattern while dealing with mentally deranged patients.

The steps were taken after the media highlighted an incident pertaining to the beating up of a mentally challenged female inmate by the hospital Supervisor.

Talking to PTI, the Director, of the hospital, Dr B.L. Goel, said it had been decided to send at least three staff nurses to the National Institute of Health and Sciences in Bangalore for mandatory training and a one-year diploma at the expenditure of the Punjab Government.

“Besides, the government has also decided to send doctors to Bangalore for a three-month training,” Dr Goel said, adding that “this would certainly help the doctors understand patients in a more humane way.” PTI


File affidavit on constable’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
If the allegations in a petition filed before the High Court are to be believed, a Barnala-based lady constable was exploited by a Senior Superintendent of Police after alluring her with the promise of marriage. The constable was first encouraged into surrendering herself and was then allegedly raped by the officer’s friend following which the victim be came pregnant and gave birth to a child.

In her petition, the constable alleged that the SSP developed relationship with her because of a pending case. Soon the relationship turned into physical intimacy as the SSP promised to marry her. However, she was introduced to a friend who drugged her before raping.

Seeking the registration of a rape and a criminal intimidation case under Sections 376 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code, the petitioner added that directions should also be issued for getting a DNA test conducted on the child and the two accused.

Taking up her petition, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel while issuing notice of motion to Punjab’s Advocate-General ruled: “This case makes startling revelations regarding extra-marital cohabitation. One of the questions is whether under the Rules of Conduct such cohabitation is permissible, and if not what action is called for. Let an affidavit be filed on the question by the government department concerned. Reply should also be filed about the other allegations”.


Parampal Singh’s bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 11
The District and Sessions Judge here today dismissed the anticipatory bail application of Parampal Singh, a former DSP of Morinda, on the grounds that after the submission of the public prosecutor the application had become infructuous. Parampal Singh filed the application on August 16 apprehending arrest in a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The judge mentioned that since the public prosecutor had submitted that no FIR had been registered against the applicant so far, the bail plea had become infructuous and was dismissed. However the judge ordered that in case the applicant was to be arrested for reasons given in the application, he should be given five days to move court.


Scribes seek action against ASI
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 11
A deputation of journalists of the district called on Mr A.A. Siddique, Additional Director-General of Police, here today and demanded stern action against some persons and an ASI who were allegedly involved in an attack on Mr Bharat Bhushan Sharma, a Punjabi Tribune reporter based at Kotkapura, on September 3 here.

While submitting a memorandum to him in this regard they also demanded suspension and arrest of the ASI and the registration of case under Sections 307, 120B, 452, and 324, IPC against him.

The ADGP, who was on a state tour to review the law and order situation, later told reporters that the crime rate in rape, dowry, fraud and drug addiction cases had increased in the state. Directions had been issued to the district administration to launch special campaigns with the help of non- government organisations to control it.

Mr S. Chattopadhaya, DIG of the local range, was also present at the meeting.


Monks on peace march visit Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), September 11
Ten Buddhist monks entered India from Wagah border after nearly a month-long peace march in Pakistan. Terasawa Junsei (52) of Japan belonging to the Nipponzan Myohoji order and leading the Buddhist troop while paying obeisance at the Golden Temple here today said: “India is more peaceful than Pakistan.”

Recalling his experience in Pakistan he said the prayer march for peace was confronted with severe security problems due to terrorist attacks on a missionary school in Muree and another on the chapel of a Christian hospital in Taxila.

They started the peace march on August 6 — the day atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima — at Taxila in Pakistan and today entered India, the day when terror attacks were made on the USA.

The monks will proceed to Sanchi where they will culminate their march at the Ashoka Stupa.


Complex for disabled soon
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 11
To mark the nine-day mela from September 15 here in connection with the aagman purab of the sufi saint, Baba Sheikh Farid, the District Red Cross Society, the main organiser of the function, has decided to construct a complex for mentally challenged, blind and other handicapped people in Faridkot at the cost of more than Rs 1 crore. Its foundation stone will be laid by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on September 23, the last day of the mela.

Funds for the complex will be collected through donations, savings from the mela and from sources of the District Red Cross Society, said Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner-cum-chairman of the society, at a press conference here. The Central government would also be approached for financial aid.

The first phase of the complex costing about Rs 40 lakh would be completed before the end of the next year. More than 300 needy persons would be provided facilities free of cost.

In the rural sports event of the mela to be held on September 22, paragliding, aeromodelling and hot air balloons would be introduced.

A seminar on the life and teachings of the sufi saint would be held on the sixth day of the function.


Move to privatise hospitals opposed
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 11
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Congress MLA from Kharar, has opposed the proposed move of the Punjab Government to privatise the civil hospitals at SAS Nagar and Kharar and said that if this happened the poor sections of society would be deprived of the cheap medical facilities being provided by these hospitals.

Addressing a press conference here this evening, he said he came to know that the government was thinking of giving some hospitals to private contractors and the hospitals at SAS Nagar and Kharar were also in the list. He said he would oppose the move.


Erratic power supply in Manauli
Tribune News Service

Manauli, Sept 11
Frequent, long power cuts have become order of the day in Manauli in Ropar District and Papri, Durali, Majra villages.

Residents of these villages are a harassed lot. The erratic power supply and frequent, unannounced, long power cuts have made their lives a virtual hell.

Times are when even refrigerators and other electric gadgets refuse to work. The worst hit are the students who are taking their terminal examinations.

The Manauli residents have already deposited Rs 20,000 with the PSEB to augment power supply.

It is a matter of great concern that nothing has been done in this regard till date. The residents of these villages have urged the authorities concerned to ensure regular power supply to this area, which is hardly 4-5 km from Phase XI of Mohali subdivision.


Dalits allege social boycott
Our Correspondent

Samana, September 11
Mr Chimna Singh, Prem Singh, Jassa Singh, Pappu Ram, Baldev Singh, Amarjit Singh and Mammu Singh — all Dalits of Sadharanpur village under the Samana subdivision complained to the Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, that they had been facing social boycott by landowners and not given work in the village and ration from shops. The boycott had been announced from the public address system of the village gurdwara, they alleged. The boycott followed after they had refused to work as bonded labourers. The land owners announced a fine of Rs 2000 on any one dealing with them, they claimed. Meanwhile land owners at a meeting at Badshahpur village said that Dalits filed false cases against them.


Farm labourers threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
After kisan unions, now farm labourers have threatened to launch an agitation if a proposal to make changes in policy on giving power to them free of cost, is not withdrawn. According to the proposal, only those households would be given 100 units of power free of cost which have a power load of 300 watts which was 1000 watts earlier.

The labourers said they would participate in an agitation of kisan unions to be launched in the state. They said provision to provide power to farmers free of cost for running tubewells should not be withdrawn.

Mr Lachhman Singh Sewala, state general secretary, Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union, said the agitation would be launched at the village level during the first phase and later dharnas, rallies would be held at district headquarters.

He said a meeting of the union was held here today. Other unions of farm labourers would be urged to launch a joint agitation, he added.


SGPC writes to PM over French move
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today sought the intervention of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in connection with the decision of the French Government to direct the Sikhs to affix their photographs without turbans on driving licences, ration cards and passports.

In a letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Badungar said that wearing of a turban for a Sikh is not a custom but an obligatory religious symbol which a Sikh cannot dispense with at any cost.


UP women being ‘sold’ in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 11
The Sarb Sanjha Rangreta Dal (Mahila Mandal) has alleged that an inter-state gang is active these days selling women from Uttar Pradesh and other states in Punjab.

In a press note issued here today, Bibi Kartar Kaur Sandhu, president of the organisation, alleged that the women from outside states were being lured by the unscrupulous persons on the pretext of getting them employment. The Rangretta Dal also produced some victims before mediapersons.

The organisation alleged that though the matter was brought to the notice of the police yet no action was taken so far. However, Dr S. K. Kalia, SP (City), denied that the women were being sold.


Harvest in hurry
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 11
Even though the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy has not been announced so far and official procurement is yet to start, the farmers of this region, fearing damage to the paddy due to uncertain weather, have started reaping the crop.

The heavy rain in the region about a week ago has increased the fears of the farmers about the uncertainty of weather. The farmers, who kept waiting for rain for many months when the paddy needed maximum water, were upset when it poured a few days back as the crop was about to ripen.

Visits to a number of villages of the district revealed that the farmers were in a hurry to collect the produce before rain played a cruel joke with them. They are so impatient that many of them have engaged labourers to separate the paddy manually, although it is expensive as compared to harvesting with combines.

A farmer of Khialiwala village said as the fields were water-lodged due to the recent rain, the combines could not enter there. He added that he did not want to take a risk and had hired labourers for reaping the crop.

The farmers who had sown varieties of paddy that mature early are in a hurry to harvest the crop regardless of the fact that they may have to sell it to the rice milers at a price much below the expected MSP. The undue hurry is to recover the money spent on cultivating the paddy crop.

A drought-like situation due to lack of rain, less canal water and lowering of the ground water level made the farmers to spend more money on paddy cultivation as compared to the previous years.

Farm labourers, who usually remain idle in this season as most of harvesting of paddy is done with machines are finding many takers this years. The farmers at Nathana said for harvesting an acre of paddy, combine owners charge them between Rs 400 to 450 while for getting it done manually they have to pay Rs 600 per acre.

Farm experts say the Pusa 44, PR-111 and PR-106 varieties of paddy mature earlier than the other varieties and any negligence in reaping the crop can cause a financial loss to the farmers.

Due to shortage of water paddy was ploughed up from 8,750 acres in the district as per officials record, although sources said the area could be more than that. The land from where the paddy was uprooted remained mostly vacant this season and farmers would sow some crop in the next rabi season only.

Although special girdawari has been completed but the farmers so far have not received any compensation in lieu of the damaged crop.

Due to adverse conditions, the production of paddy is expected to be lesser than the previous year although the area under cultivation was more this year. As per official information, the area under paddy was 82,000 hectares in the district last year, and 3.07 lakh metric tonne paddy was produced. On an average 3,742 kg paddy was produced from one acre. The area under paddy cultivation this year was 1.10 lakh hectares in the district but due to the drought-like situation, farm scientists are expecting that 3.52 lakh metric tonne paddy would be produced.

Although harvesting of paddy has started but till it was purchased by government agencies at the MSP, the farmers would remain a worried lot.


Bollworm returns
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 11
After drought, it’s now the American bollworm (sundi) which has attacked the cotton crop again. This has put the growers on the defensive.

Apart from borrowing money at exorbitant rate of interest for buying insecticides and pesticides for spraying on the infested cotton plants, the growers have also devised their own ways to kill the bollworm.

To counter the attack of American bollworm, the growers have installed light traps and pheromone traps in the fields to kill the “sundi”. The light traps kill the bollworm during night when the same approaches the light while the pheromone traps keep functioning round the clock to kill the “sundi”.

Official sources said the state Agriculture Department had also recommended the growers to install light traps and pheromone traps in their fields to reduce the attack of American bollworm.

The sources added that the attack of American bollworms had crossed the economic threshold level (ETL) in various pockets of cotton belt comprising Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Moga and Sangrur districts.

According to a report of a suvreillance team of Punjab Agriculture University (PAU), Ludhiana, which carried an intensive survey in the cotton belt, the attack of American bollworm had crossed the ETL in 12 points while it was below ETL in eight points. The team surveyed 20 points in the entire cotton belt. The attack of white fly, aphid and spotted bollworm was below ETL.

State Agriculture Department officials pointed out that rains in the recent past had encouraged the attack of American bollworm on the cotton. Earlier, the growers had suffered a huge loss when their cotton crop dried up due to drought and they had to plough the same. Even the cotton plants, which were saved from the drought, wilted away due to the scarcity of water for irrigation.

Mr Kanwarjit Singh, a farmer of Lakhewali village in the cotton belt, pointed out that if the light traps and pheromone traps failed to reduce the attack of the bollworm, the growers would engage extra hands to kill the same manually. He added that it cost 25 paise to Re 1 to kill one bollworm.

Mr H. S. Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Bathinda, when contacted, said the attack of American bollworm would be controlled by spraying the insecticides recommended by the Agriculture Department on the infested plants. He added that if weather remained favourable, there would be no increase in the attack of bollworm. The field staff of the Agriculture Department had been monitoring the situation constantly.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Department officials have started conducting surprise checking to detect the sale of spurious pesticides and insecticides to cotton growers by traders.


Hike in MSP for paddy urged
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 11
Even as the Central Government is likely to decide on the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy at the next meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, the Punjab Congress has urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to meet the Prime Minister to seek the fixation of the MSP at Rs 700 per quintal in view of the drought this summer season and the higher expenses per hectare incurred by farmers.

In a letter addressed to the Chief Minister, the president of the district unit of the Congress, Mr Tajinder Singh Bittu, said the drought situation had forced most of the Punjab farmers to spend an average of Rs 2000 extra per hectare on irrigation using diesel engines.

“Besides, around 12 per cent of the kharif crop has been lost this season on account of the widespread deficient rainfall in several parts of the state,” he said.

Mr Bittu urged the Chief Minister to take up the matter of hike in the MSP of Rs 700 per quintal as compared to Rs 530 last year with Prime Minister immediately since the farmers were already facing huge debts due to present non-profitability in the agriculture sector.

The Congress leader said the Central Government should announce bonus for paddy this season to save the debt-ridden peasantry of the state.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that the Commission for Agriculture Costs and Prices has recommended to the Central Government that the MSP should remain the same as that of last year, that is Rs 530 per quintal.


Procurement of paddy from Sept 21
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 11
The Punjab Government has planned to start the procurement of paddy from September 21 in the state. Directions have been given to all state agencies to ensure adequate arrangements in this connection. This was stated by Mr Amarjeet Singh Samra, Revenue Minister, while talking to newspersons at Kotkapura, 12 km from here, on Monday. He said the Punjab Government had approached the Central Government to give a special bonus of Rs 100 per quintal on paddy purchase to state farmers keeping in view the heavy loss suffered by them due to lack of rains in this season.

He disclosed that girdawari report regarding the damaged crop in the state had been received from all districts and was under review. The final action would be taken after the arrival of Capt Amarinder Singh, from New Delhi where he was under treatment.


JEs call on Bajwa
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 11
Members of the Navniyukat Mulazam Talmel Committee, comprising junior engineers, who were appointed by the Subordinate Services Selection Board, Punjab, during the SAD-BJP government regime, submitted a memorandum to the PWD Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, here today on their demands, according to Mr Bhupinder Singh Somal, its general secretary.

The delegation told the minister that as they had been appointed on merit, their jobs should remain intact. The minister reportedly assured the delegation that no appointment would be cancelled.


10 held for embezzlement
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 11
The police here has arrested Sadhu Singh Junior Engineer of the Panchayati Raj Department, Mr Kiran Kumar brick kiln owner, Darshan Singh a shuttering store owner on the charge of embezzlement of funds allocated by the state government for building eight houses for Scheduled Castes in Dhurkot Talhiwala village of the Moga district.

The JE has been remanded in police custody still September 13 while Kiran Kumar and Darshan Singh till September 12.

According to the police, a case was registered against them and six others including Tarlok Singh sarpanch of Dhurkot Tahliwala village, Naseeb Kaur, Baldev Singh, Bhajan Kaur, Mahinder Singh (all panchayat members) and Mukhtiar Singh, labour contractor at Mehna police station under Sections 465, 468, 471 and 120(B) of the IPC. However, the sarpanch, all four panchayat members and labour contractor are absconding.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the sarpanch allegedly used old material to construct eight houses meant for SC’s but showed fake bills of new material in the register thereby making money from it. The state government allocated Rs 7.6 lakh in 1999 to build houses for economically weaker SC’s of the village.

It was alleged that old bricks and steel were purchased from a poultry farm, building of which had been disrnantled. The sarpanch however managed to get ‘fake’ bills of new bricks from Bansal brick kiln and steel from Darshan Singh’s store. These ‘fake’ bills were entered into measurement registers with the help of JE.

The investigations revealed that the dates of purchase mentioned on the bills did not tally with the dates entered in the measurement book of the JE. Moreover, the work was completed in 1999 but entered in the measurement book in year 2000 under the signatures of Sadhu Singh JE. It was also found that the said JE was not posted here in 1999 when the work was completed.


4 vehicle thieves held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 11
The Civil Line Police has busted a gang of vehicle thieves with the arrest of four persons, including two residents of Jammu and recovered two stolen cars.

During investigation it was found that two of the accused used to steal vehicles from here and their accomplices in Jammu made fake documents and sell the vehicles in Jammu. These arrested are Ramesh Chander and Sultan Farukh Khan both residents of Jammu and Satwinder Singh and Pratap Singh of the Majitha Road and Sultanwind Road area respectively.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested Baljit Singh and Kulwant Singh of Gadli village in Jandiala seven years after the registration of the case under Section 411.


Move to cut dental seats put on hold
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 11
With private dental colleges in Punjab reportedly making some efforts to overcome the severe shortage of faculty, the authorities at the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences here, which controls all medical and health education institutes in the state, have decided to put the proposal to reduce the number of seats on the back burner.

The university Registrar, Dr P.S. Sandhu, told TNS that following persistence pressure, there had been “some improvement” in the situation, though it was still far from ideal. “We are continuing to exert moral pressure on the college managements to ensure the requisite staff strength,” he said, adding that the feeling among experts was that a cut in seats would be detrimental to the interests of students.

The university was earlier contemplating to enforce a proportionate cut in the number of seats in private dental colleges if they failed to maintain the required faculty strength. Mushrooming private dental colleges in the state over the past few years resulted in a shortage of qualified teachers and in some institutes the deficiency was to the tune of 30 per cent. There are 11 dental colleges in the state.

Dr Sandhu said regular inspections of dental colleges by the university authorities during the past few months had revealed that the shortage of teachers had been reduced by around 10 per cent. One such inspection was conducted last month and another would be conducted shortly after the ongoing admission process was over.

The Registrar added that it remained to be seen whether the steps being taken by the colleges to increase the strength of the faculty was a permanent feature or just a stop-gap measure. “We have to see if the teachers recruited actually stay on,” he said.

During earlier inspections by the university, the Dental Council of India and the state government, it was often found that some institutes were resorting to “underhand” means to show adequate staff strength, or were hiring part-time and “fly-by-night” teachers, generally from institutes in the South.

University functionaries remark that there have also been instances where teachers come to teach in colleges from other institutes for, say, about a week in a month. There have also been instances when the same teachers were spotted in different colleges during an inspection tour.


Polytechnic students block traffic
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 11
Nearly 150 students of the local Government Polytechnic Institute for Women today block traffic on the Ropar-Nawanshahr road for about an hour near Sainik Rest House and raised slogans against their Principal for his alleged “bad” behaviour towards girls students. They demanded that he be shifted immediately from the institute.

Talking to mediapersons, girl leaders said they would move the Punjab and Haryana High Court to get the stay on the Principal’s transfer vacated. They also demanded transfer of officiating Principal, Mr Ajay Arora, from the institute alleging that he had been supporting the actions of the Principal.

Persuaded by the SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, the students staged a dharna in front of the main gate of the institute. Mr Daljit Singh, while addressing the girls, lashed out at the institute administration. He said the Principal and staff seemed to have failed in performing their duties properly.

Later, he held a meeting with the institute authorities. He said he had been assured by the authorities that local problems of the girls would be solved in 10 days. He also asked the authorities to sanction leave of the Principal till September 30.

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