Friday, September 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Lal Singh fires salvo at Badal
Procurement of paddy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
The Punjab Food Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today sought to politicise paddy procurement by charging that the Centre was doing a ‘’conspiratorial’’ and ‘’discriminatory’’ act that went against the interests of the state and its farmers.

He alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had conspired with the NDA government, of which the SAD was a partner, to let down the Congress and ensuring the paddy procurement operations were thrown into disarray. Else, there was no reason why the Centre had delayed the announcement of the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy or the date for its procurement or failed to respond to the state’s repeated written and oral requests that the purchase be commenced from September 21 and not October 1. Why the Centre took a unilateral decision that the paddy procurement price would be the ‘’MSP plus 4 per cent purchase tax’’ and that levies/ taxes beyond this would be inclusive of MSP?

“As a responsible politician and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Badal should have gone to New Delhi to seek an adequate MSP for paddy, as also its early procurement, rather than holding protests in the districts to cover up corruption cases of his partymen’’, he added. Mr Lal Singh’s political rhetoric, arguments in support of his allegations against Mr Badal and attempts to politicise the issue, were seemingly untenable. But he went on to say: ‘’Mr Badal first creates problems. Then he tries to solve them. It is my charge against him that actually woke him up. He must show political morality by supporting farmers rather than conspiring with the Centre to harm farmers’’.

Mr Lal Singh did not spare even Haryana which, he said, was “sleeping’’. He also cast a shadow of doubt over the ‘’silence’’ of Mr Om Prakash Chautala. After all, the MSP and related issues equally affected and applied even to Haryana.

The Food Minister said if need be the Congress would not hesitate to hold demonstrations in New Delhi to protest against anti-Punjab policies of the Centre at the behest of Mr Badal. He reminded the media that in the February elections, Mr Badal had repeatedly told the village voters that if the Congress was voted to power wheat and paddy would go a begging. Since the wheat procurement operations earlier this year went off smoothly, it rattled Mr Badal, who was now conspiring to “destabilse’’ the Congress using paddy as a fulcrum, the minister alleged.

When asked if one man (Mr Badal) is so powerful that the government stands shaken, Mr Lal Singh said his apprehensions were not without substance. ‘’It is a conspiracy to harm Punjab’s and farmers’ interests’’. He did not, however, comment when reminded that how Mr Badal could go against farmers or for that matter what purpose his stance would serve by conspiring with the Centre.

The minister said Punjab had suffered due to drought. The Centre must pay Rs 100 per quintal as bonus. The state had submitted its memorandum, claiming Rs 3,529 crore as compensation for the enhanced cost of production of crops and protection against drought effects.


Punjab gears up for paddy procurement
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 19
The Punjab Government is all set to procure paddy through the state procurement agencies and are waiting for the announcement of the minimum support price (MSP).

This was stated by B.R. Bajaj, Principal Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies Department, at a press conference here today. He was here in connection with a meeting of the district officials of the procurement agencies and Additional Deputy Commissioners of Moga, Ferozepore, Muktsar, Bathinda, Faridkot and Mansa districts. The Deputy Commissioner of Moga, Mr Ramesh Kumar, attended it as a special invitee.

Mr Bajaj said 1,500 procurement centres had been set up in the state. He added that the procurement process would be transparent.

Meanwhile, Dr Vijralingam, Director, Food and Civil Supplies Department, who also attended the review meeting, told TNS that the state government would make the payments of the procured paddy within 72 hours of procurement.

He said during the current procurement season payments would be made to the commission agents on the spot in the grain markets. He added that the officials of the procurement agencies had been asked to make sure that the commission agents or the rice millers do not purchase paddy at lower rates.


Paddy MSP: Bhattal threatens stir
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 19
Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today indulged in some plainspeaking on the crises gripping the state in wake of the drought and the uncertainty generated by the non -announcement of the MSP for paddy but reiterated that the Congress was committed to providing adequate remuneration to the suffering farmers and would strongly take the issue with the Centre, and if need arises, agitate there.

“The Punjabi farmer is not happy today for when he the produce to the mandis it is being sold at a fraction of the production value. “Sadi fasal de ta boli lagay, te baki saariyan cheezan da daam lok apni marzi naal laavan,” she thundered.

In an emotionally charged address, Ms Bhattal castigated the NDA government and said that while the government is bending over backward to meet the demands of its ally states. “Punjab has been singled out for punishment even though the farmer here is the mainstay of the green revolution and has made the country self-reliant in foodgrains. Time has come when the farmer is fed up with the carrot and stick approach. Whenever there is a crises, he is cajoled to improvise, but when there is a problem of plenty, he is simply ignored and left to fend for himself,” she pointed out.

The minister said a comprehensive agriculture policy has been finalised to pull out the state from its present crises and to increase the earning of the farmers. It has been decided that contract farming would be encouraged. The state is also being divided into five zones where precision farming - in sync with the soil conditions - would be stressed.

The joint director, in charge of these zones will be responsible for ensuring adequate supply of seed, fertilizer, pesticides and other material to the farmers. They will also look after the training needs of the farmers and the proper marketing of their produce. These officers will not be stationed in Chandigarh since it was her resolve to ensure that the farmers diversified and made a success of their new ventures, she added.

Expressing concern over the sale of spurious seeds and fertilisers to the farmers, the minister said that she is committed to stop this practice. She gave a 15-day ultimatum to the dealers of these spurious chemicals and fertilizers to either stop their malpractices or face the consequences. She announced the launch of mobile testing laboratories throughout Punjab to test spurious pesticides and fertilisers on the spot to rule out any wrongdoing later on.


Italy gesture to Punjabis
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Thousands of persons of Indian origin in Italy, mostly Punjabis, who in the absence of any legal sanctity have been doing “petty and irregular jobs”, could not have asked for more. In case they submit an “acceptable proof of entering Italy” to the local authorities by October 8, their stay in that country would be legalised. The Italian Government through an emergency decree on September 9, decided to benefit all those “aliens” who had been in Italy for variable periods of time.

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, a Member of Parliament and leader of the United Parliamentary Group, however, is upset over the “apathy” of the Consular staff of the Indian Embassy in Rome and Consulate-General’s office in Milan. In a series of meetings and exchange of letters with the Union Minister of State for External Affairs, Mr K. Digvijay Singh, Mr Ramoowalia has sought directions to Indian diplomatic in Italy to “extend maximum help to our people in this regard.

“The ground reality is that whereas the embassies of Pakistan and other Third World countries in Rome and Milan, are issuing ‘duplicate passports and travel documents’ to their nationals, our missions are not doing so. On the contrary staff at the lower level in these two missions was harassing and insulting them” wrote Mr Ramoowalia in a letter to Mr Digvijay Singh yesterday. “My information is that the Pakistani Embassy and the Consulate in Rome and Milan are issuing at least 1000 passports and travel documents a day to benefit their national,” adds Mr Ramoowalia.

Talking to The Tribune, he said keeping in view the shrinking job market in India there were no better opportunity for the youth. In two and-a-half years from now, they would be able to sponsor their wives, dependent children (below the age of 18 years each) and their dependent parents to Italy thus opening new vistas for a large section of society. Mr Ramoowalia said during his recent visit to Italy, he witnessed “shabby treatment” meted out to Indian nationals there. Meanwhile, Ms Sujatha Singh, India’s Consul-General in Milan, in a letter to Mr Ramoowalia has assured him that the consul staff would extend all assistance and help to Indian nationals in this connection.


Hans Raj gets threatening calls from underworld

Jalandhar, September 19
Famous Punjabi Pop and classical singer Hans Raj Hans has complained to the police of receiving “threatening calls” from the underworld in Dubai.

In his complaint, Hans has said that he was having some dispute with the super cassette industries, Mumbai over contract regarding the release of his recent album, which was allegedly violated by the Company, said Mr Pawan Kumar Rai, SP City (1).

The singer in his complaint has also said that the company owed him Rs 50 lakh and when he had demanded the same, he started receiving threatening calls from Dubai-based underworld, Mr Rai added.

“We are in touch with the Mumbai police on the issue and a case under various Sections of the IPC and of the Copyrights Act had been registered against Bhushan Kumar, Managing Director of the Music Company and Ajay Kapoor and Ashwani Kumar, officials of the music company, Mr Rai said adding that the security of Hans had been tightened.

When contacted, Hans admitted of receiving the threatening calls but declined to comment further on the matter. PTI


Doctor couple fined 3 lakh for negligence
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 19
The district Consumer Forum here has imposed a fine of Rs 3.10 lakh on Dr Gurdev Singh and Dr (Mrs) Parmjit Kaur of Jalal village for negligence in the handling of delivery case of Mrs Amarjit Kaur Gill of Bajakhana village The forum also directed them to pay Rs 20,000 as cost of the case.

Mrs Amarjit Kaur Gill had delivered a male baby on August 23, 2000. The baby was injured due to the negligence of these doctors, said the sources here today. The baby received a cut of five centimetres on his head and the neck. The doctor stitched the cut to stop flow of blood, but the stitches failed to improve condition of the child.

The sources said that the cut to the baby was due to the negligence of these ‘unqualified’ doctors. When the condition of the child deteriorated, the doctors referred him to another private hospital at Kotkapura (Faridkot) but he was declared ‘brought dead’ by the doctors of the hospital. The sources alleged that the child had died at the hospital of these ‘unqualified’ doctors and they sent him to Kotkapura only to save their skin.

The mother of the child was discharged from their hospital after treatment but she had grown weak due to infection and bleeding. Mr Jagdip Singh Gill, father of the deceased, said that he shifted his wife of Bathinda for further treatment and she had to be given four units of blood. Her life could be saved with much efforts and she recovered later.

Mr H.S. Sidhu, president, Mr Sham Lal Bansal and Dr Phulinder Preet (both members) in their orders issued here yesterday directed the two doctors to pay the said compensation to Mrs Amarjit Kaur, within two months of the receipt of the orders. The forum also passed strictures against a private doctor of Kotkapura as he had issued certificate with intention to save the two guilty doctors A case against these two doctors was registered under Section 304-A, of the IPC at Dyalpura police station on October 10, 2000.


Welfare Officer, sarpanch held for embezzlement
Tribune News Service

Pathankot, September 19
The police here has arrested Tehsil Welfare Officer (TWO) Ms Pushpa Devi and sarpanch of Khanpur village on the charge of embezzling Rs 50,000 government money meant for the construction of a dharamshala in Khanpur.

Earlier, the District Welfare Officer (inquiry officer) indicted the both tehsil welfare officer and sarpanch in his report. The report pointed out that the dharamshala was shown constructed on papers only and the money was allegedly embezzled by them.

Mr Varinder Kumar district police chief Gurdaspur said a Rs 50,000 was sanctioned by the district welfare officer but was not spent by sarpanch Bimla Devi for constructing “janj-ghar” (Dharamshala). The police booked the sarpanch and the TWO for embezzlement on the report of the facts finding committee.

The report submitted to the department reads in the year 1997-98, Ms Bimla Devi, sarpanch Khanpur was made cashier to spend the government grant. However on October 10 last year she was given bank draft of Rs 50,000 for the said purpose. A joint account (number 1214) was opened on the same day in Gramin Vikas bank in the name of Sarpanch Bimla Devi and Mrs Pushpa Devi, the then TWO, Pathankot. The draft, which was deposited in the account was withdrawn from the joint account. However, the present TWO, Pathankot, asked for the bills of the expenditure made on the construction of said dharamshala by sarpanch Bimla Devi. The sarpanch however failed to submit the bills or accounts of the expenditure. Hence the cashier-cum-sarpanch gave an affidavit that on October 10, 2001 when the amount was withdrawn the then TWO kept Rs 10,000 with her saying that this was her fees for withdrawing the amount. Then she (the then TWO) was transferred from Pathankot but she still indulged in all such official activities like opening of joint accounts and then withdrawing the entire amount on the same date. The SSP, claimed that on-the-spot inquiry by the present TWO confirmed that no construction was undertaken with the sanctioned amount of Rs 50,000. Earlier, an inquiry was ordered by the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, on the basis of the inquiry report. The Deputy Commissioner recommended to the SSP to book the TWO and the sarpanch under Sections 408 and 409 of the Indian Penal Code. The Sadar police station has registered a case.


A show of exemplary courage
Large gathering at jawan’s funeral
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Chak Fateh Wala (Bathinda), September 19
For Veerpal Singh, jawan of 28 Rashtriya Rifles, who attained martyrdom after killing three militants in the Baramula sector in Jammu and Kashmir on September 16, to serve the Army was a natural choice as eight members of his family had either served or were still serving in the Army and the para-military forces.

When a group of militants attacked 20 Army jawans being led by him in the Bader forest of Baramula region, he showed exemplary courage and returned the fire, killing three of the attackers.

“A group of 20 jawans led by Veerpal Singh was walking along a nullah with hills on both sides. A group of militants, who had taken strategic positions, attacked them with assault rifles. Another group of militants was attacking from behind. Veerpal Singh did not run for safety. He took position and returned the fire and in the encounter, three militants were killed, Capt Rajiv Thapa, who attended the funeral of Veerpal Singh, said.

His funeral was largely attended and he was cremated with full military honours.

Mr Pritpal Singh, elder brother of the deceased, who is also serving in the Army in Jammu and Kashmir and was getting treated at Baramula hospital for an eye injury he suffered during an encounter with the militants about six months ago, did not know that he would receive the body of his brother in the hospital when he went for a check-up on September 16.

Mr Jagsir Singh, father of Veerpal Singh, who was trying to console others by saying that “Shaheed de maut te ronde nahi hunde. Vatan de lekhe jaan laona adami da pehla dharam hai’, was himself crying inconsolably.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, laid a wreath on behalf of the Governor, while SDM Upjeet Singh Brar laid a wreath on behalf of the Chief Minister.

Mr Verma said the government would give Rs 2 lakh as ex-gratia grant to the bereaved family while the Central Government would give Rs 5 lakh. The family would also get an insurance cover of Rs 3.75 lakh and Rs 2 lakh from the Jammu and Kashmir Government as ex-gratia grant. The family would get 60 per cent of the last salary drawn by Veerpal Singh as pension and a job would be given to next of kin.


SAD to strengthen youth wing
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 19
The Shiromani Akali Dal has decided to strengthen its youth wing to make the people aware of its programmes and policies. Circle jathedars will be appointed soon and proper representation will be given to Hindu youths. The entire process will be completed in the next two months.

This was stated by Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, SAD, while talking to the reporter at Guru ki Dhab near Jaito in the district.


Government dilly-dallying on Noormehalias: Badungar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 19
The SGPC Chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, today accused the Punjab Government of dilly-dallying over the issue of Baba Ashutosh of Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan of Noormehalias. He cautioned the government to act before the people whose feelings he was hurting reacted.

Talking to newsmen here this evening, Mr Badungar said the Noormehalias were distorting and denigrating Sikh history and religion.

He said he would lead a Sikh delegation to the Minority Commission, New Delhi, tomorrow to sort out the issue of conversions of Sikhs under duress in Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. Representatives of Christians would also be present. Vice-Chairman of the National Minotities Commission Tarlochan Singh has invited them to discuss the issue of conversions.

On sending Sikh jathas to Pakistan for visiting gurdwaras there, Professor Badungar said PM Atal Behari Vajpayee had assured them that the jathas would be allowed when tension on India-Pakistan border eased.

Professor Badungar informed that a drive had been launched to wean away Sikh youths from social evils of intoxicants, apostasy, dowry and the menace of female foeticide by reminding the youths of their rich heritage. Seminars are being held on the role model Sikh personalities like Bhai Kanaya, Baba Banda Bahadur in which all 21 colleges and 25 schools run by the SGPC are being involved.


Ban sought on Ashutosh’s meetings
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 19
Perturbed over the alleged failure of the state government to ban the religious activities of the controversial head of Noormahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan, Ashutosh Maharaj, despite instructions of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), various Sikh religious, political and social organisations have formed a Joint Action Committee to stop the activities of Ashutosh.

Addressing a press conference here today, the spokesman of the JAC, Mr Jagjit Singh Gaba, said they had formed a JAC comprising representatives of the Khalsa Panchayat, Akhand Kirtani Jatha, Missionary College, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Samooh Singh Sabhawan, Seva Societies and Religious society.

Mr Gaba revealed that the JAC, at its emeregency meeting held here this morning, resolved that the state government had failed to ban the activities of Ashutosh. He was conducting religious gatherings at Jalandhar every Sunday under police protection, he added.

The JAC threatened to uproot the main board of the sansthan from outside its centre on Sunday which may cause a direct confrontation between the Sikhs and the sansthan authorities, if the government failed to take action in this regard.


Supplementary challan against Sidhu put up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today presented supplementary challan against former PPSC chief Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu and 11 others with regard to the case registered against them under FIR number 24 here.

The challan was presented in the court of the Sessions Judge by the Public Prosecutor under Sections 173 (8) Cr PC and covers Ravi Sidhu, former PPSC Secretary Pritpal Singh, teachers Prof Gurpal Singh, Dr Jagdish Kalra, Prof Jaspal Singh and Prof Amarjit Singh Kang besides Purshottam Singh Sodhi, Dr Shamsher Singh, Paramjit Singh Pammi and Ravi Sidhu’s mother Pritpal Kaur, brother Reetinder Singh and sister-in-law Ajinder Kaur.

The public prosecutor said all three relatives of Sidhu had been declared proclaimed offenders in the case and challan in respect of threats would be produced after they were arrested.

The prosecution also produced the sanction received from the President of India to prosecute Sidhu besides one received from the Punjab Chief Secretary to prosecute Pritpal Singh a PCS officer.

There are 85 prime witnesses in the supplementary challan. It will be taken up for scrutiny tomorrow. Earlier a case had been registered against the accused under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471-A, 120-B of the IPC and Sections 7, 13 (1) (e) read with Sections 7, 13 (2), 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


PPSC scam: KU professor gets bail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal today granted anticipatory bail to Kurukshetra University Punjabi Department Chairman Amarjit Singh Kang who has been charged with manipulating answersheets of candidates appearing for various examinations conducted by the PPSC during the tenure of Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu.

Arguing for anticipatory bail in the case, his counsel said his client had already joined investigation in the case and was not required for interrogation. The Sessions Judge ordered that if he had to be arrested, his bail should be admitted upon furnishing personal bonds of Rs 1 lakh and two sureties of like amount.

Meanwhile, the court today extended the anticipatory bail of eight “tainted” candidates whose arrest had been stayed till today, to September 26. Three more candidates — Mandeep Singh, Navdeep Singh and Rajinder Sidhu — who had filed their applications yesterday, will now be heard tomorrow by Special Judge Sabeena.

Three persons against whom a case has been registered in this matter, filed applications for staying their arrest today.


Sleuths keep vigil on recruitments
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Punjab Vigilance Bureau sleuths kept a close watch on the recruitment of Excise and Taxation Inspectors, which concluded at Patiala today, it is reliably learnt.

Besides vigilance sleuths, there are reports that ‘’moles’’ of the previous government’s political executive were also there to find out how interviews were being held under the new dispensation of the Congress, said some candidates.

There were over 500 candidates for seven posts, all for physically challenged persons. The recruitment was necessitated by a high court order passed last year, asking the Department of Excise and Taxation to fill these vacancies.

This time, sources say, the criteria for selection was strict and no manipulation was possible. The interview marks were just 15 and the marks to be awarded out of these depended upon the percentage of disability a person suffered from. In fact, such was the system that a candidate could himself award his own marks. Since there was no set criteria last year, this rigid system has reportedly upset many a politician.

When contacted the Excise and Taxation Commissioner said: ‘’No, there have been no pressures of any kind, such was the procedure adopted’’.


Challan presented against ex-minister
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 19
The Punjab Vigilance here today presented a challan in the court of the Sessions Judge, Mr L.R. Roojam, against Nirmal Singh Kahlon, former Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, and J.P. Singla, Deputy Director of the Rural Development Department, in a criminal and corruption case registered against them.

The case was registered vide FIR No. 13, dated June 14 last, by the Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 120-B of the IPC and 13 (1) (d) (e) read with 13 (2) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The case is related to a scam in the appointments of JEs, clerks and anganwari workers, accumulation of assets disproportionate to known sources of income and misuse of power and panchayat funds during the SAD-BJP regime.

The challan was presented by Mr Mohinder Singh Khokhar, Public Prosecutor, on behalf of the Vigilance in the court. After the presentation of the challan, the Sessions Judge entrusted the challan to the Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, for further proceedings.

The Special Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, fixed October 3 for the summoning of co-accused J.P. Singla in the court. Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, who was present in the court, was given a copy of the challan by the court of Special Judge.

The Vigilance has attached some documents with the challan which included some registers of the panchayats, list of the witnesses and other relevant documents.

Nirlam Singh Kahlon, who is on an anticipatory bail, today furnished a bail bond in the sum of Rs 50,000 with one surety in the like amount for his regular bail in the court.


Minister quizzed in bid to kill case
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 19
The recent inquiry ordered by the Lokpal against the Forest Minister, Dr Harbans Lal, on the complaint of Wg Cmd S.S. Balagan (retd), Mr Jaswant Singh, former Sarpanch, Mr Gurmukh Singh, Sarpanch of Dera Mirmiran village, Mr Kripal Singh and Mr Bakshish Singh, alleging that the minister allegedly influenced the police to hush up the case of attempt to murder Wing Commander Balagan has become a burning topic in the district.

Mr Lajpal Singh, DIG, Lokpal, is conducting the inquiry and has been asked by the Lokpal to submit the report by September 23.

The minister yesterday appeared before the DIG and sought some time to file his reply. The ex-servicemen’s cell of the PPCC has also joined the issue and addressed a press conference here today. The minister and the SSP also addressed separate press conference.

The retired Wing Commander had a dispute with his brother Gurdeep Singh and two nephews over a piece of land in Dera Mirmiran village. When his nephew started ploughing the field, Wg Cmd Balagan (retd) objected to it and allegedly his brother and two nephews tried to run the tractor over him. He was injured and admitted to hospital and a case under Section 307, IPC, registered against them. The complainant alleged that since the police did not take any action under influence of the minister, he filed a complaint with the Lokpal against the police and the minister.

Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, told mediapersons that the allegations levelled by the complainants were baseless. The police took action as per the inquiry conducted by the DSP, Fatehagarh Sahib. Mr S.S. Gill, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, who was conducting the inquiry on the complaint of Wg cmd S.S. Balagan (retd) visited the village twice and conducted an open inquiry and as per his report, action had been taken.

Col Zorawar Singh (retd), chairman of the ex-servicemen’s cell of the PPCC, while addressing mediapersons along with the complainants, said while the incident occurred on July 24, the police went to the hospital to record the statement of the complainant on July 29. It was only after a delegation of ex-servicemen met the SSP that action was initiated. He said that the inquiry was marked to the DSP of Fatehgarh Sahib, who did not “properly conduct the inquiry, rather he misled the SSP. He said that the DSP visited the village on July 30 just for a minute and did not record the statements of anyone. He said Wg Cmd Balagan (retd) went to meet the SSP many times but he was always referred to meet the DSP. He said that 11 times they went to meet the DSP, but he did not meet them even once.

He said interestingly, during this period the accused withdrew Rs 1.15 lakh from a bank and commission agents, which proved that money had played a role.

Meanwhile, Dr Harbans Lal, Forest Minister, while taking to The Tribune here today said the allegations against him were baseless and politically motivated. He said that he did not know any of the accused and he had not influenced the police in anybody’s favour. He said he would take legal action against the complainants and was ready to face any probe.


Siau murder case: notice to govt
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 19
The court of the Additional Sessions Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, today issued notices to the state government and Mr Dhani Ram, complainant, for September 25 on an anticipatory bail application of Kiranbir Singh Kang, a senior Youth Akali leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

The anticipatory bail application was filed by Mr Kang yesterday in connection with Siau murder case in which the bodies of two minor Dalit children were fond in a pond of Siau village near Kharar on June 22, last year.

In the bail application, Mr Kang had sought pre-arrest bail in connection with a criminal complaint filed against him and others by Mr Dhani Ram under Sections 302, 201, 120-B and 34 of the IPC.

On the basis of this complaint, the Ropar Chief Judicial Magistrate had issued non-bailable warrants of arrest against Mr Kang for September 20 for summoning him to the court. Mr Dhani Ram is a father of one of the two children whose bodies were found in a pond of Siau village. The counsel for Mr Kang also made a request to the Additional Sessions Judge to grant interim anticipatory bail to Mr Kang on the plea that non-bailable warrants for September 20 had already been issued against him by the court of the CJM, but the court declined his request and issued notices to the state and Mr Dhani Ram for September 25.


Aid given at rally of ex-servicemen
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 19
An ex-servicemen rally was organised at Sadhuwali cantonment in Sri Ganganagar by the Army yesterday. A total of 1,000 ex-servicemen, war widows and widows of servicemen from Sri Ganganagar and Hanumangarh districts attended the rally. A number of civil and military dignitaries graced the occasion.

Among those present were the SDM of Sri Ganganagar and Brig (Retd) Bhagwan Singh, Director, Rajya Sainik Welfare Board of Rajasthan. The chief guest was Maj-Gen R.N. Suryavanshee, VSM,General-Officer Comman-ding (GOC) of the Division.

The rally was addressed by the GOC and the Director, Rajya Sainik Welfare Board. The GOC said : “The land of Maharana Pratap has been a witness to various sagas of glory and sacrifice.” He praised the sacrifices of the people of this great state of India.

He honoured ex-servicemen, widows, war widows and disabled ex-servicemen by giving away gifts. Financial assistance and assistance in terms of utility items such as bicycles and sewing machines were provided.

A number of stalls were established which provided free medical check-up and treatment, information on animal husbandry, farming and advice on banking loan facilities. Stalls to render advice on rehabilitation and pension problems were also put up.

Elaborate arrangements were made for lunch. The rally provided a forum for interaction between serving and the ex-servicemen, war widows and government and non-government welfare agencies.


Naib Tehsildar, 2 rice millers refused bail
Tribune News Service

Moga, September 19
The District and Sessions Judge here has dismissed anticipatory bail applications of a naib-tehsildar and two rice mill owners in two different cases registered against them.

The Additional Sessions Judge here dismissed the bail application of naib-tehsildar Gurmail Singh and patwari Satpal Singh. The Dharamkot police booked them on September 12, 2002 under Sections 419, 420, 465, 467, 218 and 120 (B) of the IPC allegedly for registering a mortgage deed that was beyond their jurisdiction.

In another case, the judge also dismissed the anticipatory bail pleas of two rice millers Gopal Krishan and Bharat Bhushan. They were booked by the police.


Woman foils robbery bid
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, September 19
Suneeta, a local resident, foiled an attempt to rob her house late last evening, although she got injured she was fired at by one of the robbers.

Mr Vinod Kumar, husband of Suneeta, said at about 8.35 p.m. when he had gone to fetch milk, three persons came to his house and enquired about him from his son Jimitesh.

When told that he was not at house the three forcibly entered the house.

When Vinod Kumar’s wife asked them their purpose of coming, one of them tried to take out his revolver. Sensing danger she along with her children managed to enter the bedroom. After entering she bolted the door from inside, despite tough resistance.

In the ongoing tussle one of the robbers pressed the trigger and some pellets hit the woman. Though injured, she opened the back door of the house and raised an alarm. Sensing danger, the three fled the house.

A case has been registered.


Hindus own most cow abattoirs’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 19
Mr Ghuman Mal Lodha, Chairman, of the Animal Welfare Board of India, today said that Hindus and not the Muslims were more responsible for declining number of cows as most of the slaughterhouses in the country were owned by Hindus.

Mr Lodha addressing mediapersons here said that the Hindus who consider cow a sacred animal were doing nothing significant to protect the cows. He added that Hindus dominated leather business in Kanpur, where mostly cowhide was used.

He said that although export of beef was banned in the country but businessmen in the name of meat of other animals had been exporting beef in large quantity. He alleged that nearly 20000 cows had been sent illegally to Bangladesh for slaughter.

He hoped that if the people were educated on the benefits of the use of dung and urine of cow then slaughter of cows would stop. When asked what the Animal Welfare Board was doing in that direction, he did not answer.

Mr Lodha also did not give satisfactory answer when he was asked what the Central government of which the BJP the main constituent and claimed to be the ‘protector of Gau Mata’ was doing. He said that the BJP was not able to do much in that direction due to compulsions of the coalition government.

Mr Lodha claimed that dung and urine of cow could be used in pesticides, medicines and producing cooking gas and for generating electricity. He said that one such centre was working at Indore in Madhya Pradesh. He said that the board gave financial aid to such centres. He said that there were a number of centres in Maharashtra which used cow dung for gainful purposes.

Mr Lodha said as per official figures, in 1992 there were 20 crore cows in India and the number reduced to 17 crore in 1997. It was first time that the number of cows decreased in the country, people of which considered “mother”.

Blaming a few state governments for inaction he said that the sacred animal (cow) could be protected if all governments enacted a law against the slaughter of cows. He said that certain state governments were encouraging slaughter of cows.

On the condition of other animals in the country, he said that it was better in India as compared to the rest of the world. He claimed that other animals were killed in large numbers in many countries, but these were protected in India.


Cinema house sealed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 19
The Excise and Taxation authorities today sealed a cinema house in connection with the non-payment of entertainment tax dues.

Mr Taranjit Singh, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, said the owners of the sealed Gagan Cinema situated on the Batala road had not been paying tax dues for the past two years. The amount pending against them was more than Rs 65 lakh. He however, admitted that the delay in recovering the dues was because of a lacuna in law, adding that the cinema house was sealed under the land Revenue Act after all other means to recover the penalty had exhausted.

The owner of the cinema house Dalbir Singh’s name figured in connection with the bouncing of cheques for Rs 19 lakh issued to film distributors at Jalandhar. He was recently arrested under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.

It is learnt that the department is contemplating similar action against Nandan cinema house owned by Gurdev Singh Kairon, senior Congress leader, and Suraj Chanda cinema house for not paying entertainment tax dues amounting to over Rs 10 lakh each.


Witness protection cell set up
Tribune News Service

Ropar, September 19
Complying with the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Ropar SSP has constituted a witness protection cell under the chairmanship of the SP (Headquarters), Mr Varinder Pal Singh.

The SSP has also made Mrs Baldev Kaur, DSP, Ropar; Mr Mohinder Singh Bajwa, a resident of Ropar; and Mrs Surinderjit Kaur and Mrs Karamjit Kaur, both social workers, members of the cell. The cell will study cases in which particular witnesses apprehend any kind of pressure/threat from any quarter. It will also prepare a list of such witnesses with their home addresses and contact them. After due verification, the cell will ensure that proper protection is provided to such witnesses under the orders of the SSP.


Lok Adalat to be held on Sept 21
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 19
A state-level Lok Adalat for settling matrimonial cases will be organised by the District Legal Services Authority, Patiala, in the district court complex here on September 21.

The adalat will be organised under the guidance of the Punjab Legal Services Authority, Chandigarh. Besides, the matrimonial cases, labour cases, those registered under the Negotiable Instruments Act, the M.A.C.T and the Civil suits would also be taken up. In all 1,474 cases would be heard for which 22 Lok Adalat Benches have been constituted. Each Bench would be presided over by a sitting Judicial Officer, assisted by a social worker and a senior advocate.


Shopkeepers fall into line, remove structures
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 19
Owing to the local thermal plant authorities and the district administration launching an anti-encroachment drive in Ropar and Nuhon colonies, the shopkeepers have themselves started removing illegal structures raised by them outside the shops allotted to them. They are also pleading with the thermal plant authorities to deposit their lease money, pending since 1995.

The process was triggered after the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, ordered the eviction of nine shops in the said colonies recently. Out of these nine allottees, eight had sub let their shops and one had encroached upon the land around his shop.

Sources in the thermal plant who spoke on the condition anonymity, said since the shopkeepers had started paying their dues, the income of the board from these shops could go up by about Rs 1 lakh per month.


Sachkhand to halt at Phagwara

Phagwara, September 19
The Sachkhand Express will halt at the railway station here from October 2, according to Mrs Santosh Chaudhary, Congress MP from Phillaur. She told a press conference here today that she would herself lead pilgrims on that day to Nanded Sahib in Maharashtra.

Local MLA Joginder Singh Mann, who was also present, stated that grants of Rs 14 lakh and Rs 88,000 grants had been distributed among villagers at a function at Sapror village. OC


Freedom fighter dead
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 19
Mr Nagin Chand Sethi, a freedom fighter and close associate of late former President Giani Zail Singh, died here today. He was 82 and was bed -ridden for the past about eight months.

A large number of people, including Mr Avtar Singh Brar, former Education Minister, Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh and Mr Satish Baghi, president and press secretary, District Congress Committee, respectively, veteran Congress leader Mr S.K. Gupta and Master Karta Ram, a freedom fighter from Jaito, attended the cremation. Mr Devinder Singh, SDM, represented the Punjab Government. A tricolour was placed on the body by the District Committee.


Eye camp at police station
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 19
Mr Iqbalpreet Singh Sahota, DIG, Patiala Range, today inaugurated an eye operation camp organised by the district police at Fatehgarh Sahib police station. More than 100 patients were examined and a few of them were recommended for operation. Mr B. Chandra Shekhar, SSP, said that the families of the police martyrs would be looked after.


Kisan mela opens at PAU
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 19
Kisan mela opened at the Punjab Agricultural University (PAU) here today.

With a theme as significant and as topical as the — ‘Preservation of natural resources’, the emphasis of the mela was on educating the farmers on how to face the challenges brought about by the implications of our mismanagement of natural resources like water and their judicious use in future, besides the challenges posed by the WTO. The mela, organised by the PAU twice a year, had attracted thousands of farmers and their families from all over the state besides the adjoining states of Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan.

A favourite event with the farming community, the sons of the soil evinced keen interest in the latest technology in the farming sector and lined up to buy the latest quality of seeds. Stalls and exhibitions displaying the latest in farm equipment and farming drew large crowds. The impressive participation was an ample testimony to the contribution of the PAU in helping the farmers of yore solve the problems of foodgrains, its shortage and thus become instrumental in making the Green Revolution a great success.

The mela was inaugurated by the Agriculture Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who, while addressing a large gathering of farmers said the government was committed to providing a good minimum support price (MSP) for their crop and would do all in its power to ensure that the produce did not rot in the mandis. The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr A.S. Samra, also spoke on the occasion.

Lauding the efforts of the farmers to make the country self-sufficient, Ms Bhattal, said they all should come forward and fight the challenges posed by the opening of the International market. She also announced that the state would launch a drive to check the menace of spurious pesticides. She urged the people to come forward with their complaints so that the unscruplous dealers and suppliers could be taught a lesson.

Ms Bhattal remarked that the failure of the monsoon and the delay in getting compensation was due to the stepmotherly treatment of the NDA government. She disclosed that the Punjab Government had also approached the Centre for giving adequate MSP to farmers who have already incurred huge losses due to the drought.

Mr Badal urged the farmers to go in for diversification and assured every possible help by his government in the form of establishing suitable agro-processing industries and also exploring international market for export.

The Vice-Chancellor of PAU, Dr K.S. Aulakh called upon the farmers to adopt precision farming in order to increase their profits. He said in the past Punjabi farmers have extensively used the natural resources of water, land and air. Excessive use of irrigation water has also led to the lowering of water table in certain areas.

He said the need of the hour is — efficient utilisation of natural resources and other inputs. Dr Aulakh cautioned that unless we lower our cost of production and raise the quality of our produce we will not be able to compete in the world market. He strongly advocated the need for discarding the traditional ways of farming and adopt scientific ways of farmers.

While addressing the farmers Dr Jaspinder Singh Kolar, Director for Extension Education and Chief Organiser of the Kisan Mela, said diversification of agricultural crops holds the key for successful agriculture in future. He said that rice, wheat rotation in Punjab had already become saturated and new problems have stared to merge.

He said that shifting of 10 per cent area to fodders and 30 per cent to vegetable production is a big step towards diversification and will go a long way in increasing the income of farmers. He called upon the farmers to be in constant touch with the university scientists in order to update their knowledge on the farming front.

A question-answer session was also held in the evening where university experts answered the querries of the farmers.

Various departments of the university had also put up their stalls where scientists apprised the farmers of the new techniques and methods of cultivation. While the department of horticulture demonstrated scientific method of planting and maintaining orchards, the department of entomology stressed upon integrated pest control methods on cotton and other rabi crops.

The farmers were also taught safe method of using different pesticides. The recently evolved technologies for production of multiple queen bees from a single hive and royal jelly also drew the attention of a large number of farmers.


ADC probes complaint on bogus votes
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, September 19
Additional Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore Jain Singh Bal today conducted an inquiry into the complaint of the local BJP-SAD councillors regarding the preparation of bogus MC electoral rolls allegedly on the behest of certain Congress party workers.

The ADC said procedure for the preparation of electoral rolls was not being followed properly. He directed the official concerned to follow the procedure. He also directed the officials to hand over the acknowledgement of electoral rolls to the voters concerned on which the exact number of votes in a particular house hold should be mentioned in figures and words.

The ADC also convened a meeting of both political parties in the SDM’s office here. Mr Prem Valecha, President Municipal Council, Mr Rajnish Bindru, Mr Chinder Pal both Municipal Councillors and Mr Subhash Aggarwal of the SAD-BJP and Mr Hakem Josan, Mr Prithvi Raj and Mr Hari Pupneja of the Congress, attended the meeting. The ADC also directed the SDM to entertain flaws in complaints in respect of electoral rolls and rectify the same.

On the complaint relating to the shifting of an official thrice during the exercise the SDM-cum-electoral-officer Mr J.C. Sabarwal clarified that the duties of certain officials were changed for their convenience and not to facilitate the registration of bogus votes as was being alleged.


23 eating joints challaned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 19
A hotel and a dhaba were all which could scrape through a three-day special checking exercise of 25 leading hotels, restaurants and dhabas by the Municipal Corporation which ended today.

Hotel Mohan Continental and Bengali dhaba were the only two eating places in the city whose kitchens were found clean and hygienic during the drive which was undertaken by the corporation Health Officer, Dr Hardeep Singh Mann.

Those which were challaned included Narain Continental, Jeewan Plaza and Garden Resort (all hotels), Tandoor, Red Dragon and Handyman (all restaurants) and Nagpal Dhaba, Sheetal Dhaba, Arora Dhaba and Kwality Dhaba. All 23 institutions have been called for a special hearing at the corporation office tomorrow.

Disclosing details of the checking, the Health Officer said the biggest hotel — Narain Continental — came out the worst following the checking. Dr Mann said the kitchen of the hotel was so dirty that one could not stand in it. He said upon opening one refrigerator the checking team found scores of cockroaches in it.

Giving other details of the checking, he said other hotels, restaurants and dhabas were also not maintaining proper cleanliness in their kitchens. He said in a few cases it was found that cobwebs were present directly over the cooking area. He said in most of them the waste was kept in buckets without any covering in the kitchen itself which resulted in flies and other insects collecting in the area. He said in some cases wire mesh was not present in the windows.

The Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, when contacted, said the checking had revealed glaring cases of unhygienic conditions being prevalent in the kitchens of most of the hotels, restaurants and dhabas. He said though there was a minimum fine of Rs 500 according to the Corporation Act, he would try to impose a maximum fine of Rs 5,000 on all defaulting institutions and strict warnings would be issued to them to maintain cleanliness.

The Mayor said he had also given directions to the Health Officer to conduct fortnightly checks on all eating establishments and also take the various sweet shops in the city under the ambit of the checks. Mr Sharma said he had also directed the Health Officer to check the workshops of the sweet shop owners saying he had been informed that when the team went to check the premises of a ‘petha’ manufacturer in Mathura Colony, workers were found sitting on the packed sweetmeat.

Meanwhile, the corporation has also issued show-cause notices to various eating establishments which have encroached on government land following the checking. These include establishments in the 22 number railway crossing market where Dr Mann said Chawla Chicken establishment has encroached upon more land than the built up space occupied by it. Others are Khansama in the same market and Sheetal and Nagpal dhabas on the lower mall. The Health Officer said these dhabas had installed ‘’tandoors’’ on government land besides laying out chairs and tables for customers on government land. The corporation is likely to undertake a more comprehensive exercise to identify other establishments which have encroached on government land, the Mayor said.


PCS officer suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 19
Following the registration of an FIR against Mr Zora Singh, PCS, a former Secretary of the Subordinate Services Selection Board and now Joint Secretary, Department of Welfare, the Governor has placed him under suspension.

Mr Zora Singh has been unauthorisedly absent from office since August 29 as his leave application was rejected, said a press note.

During his suspension the headquarters of Mr Zora Singh will be Chandigarh. He will get subsistance allowance as admissible under the service rules. The order is signed by Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra.


Woman sarpanch held for fraud

Gurdaspur, September 19
The district police has arrested Bimla Devi, Sarpanch of Khanpur village, and a District Welfare Officer, Pushpa Devi, for misappropriation of government funds to the tune of Rs 50,000 which were sanctioned for the construction of a Dharamshala in the village last year.

A press note issued by the SSP’s office here today said the arrest was made yesterday following the registration of a case under Sections 408 and 409 of the IPC at the Pathankot Sadar police station against the two women.

The case was registered after an inquiry conducted by the tehsil welfare officer of Pathankot found the two guilty of misappropriation of funds.

The inquiry was ordered by the Deputy Commissioners office after members of the panchayat of Khanpur lodged a written complaint with the district authorities. While the woman Sarpanch pocketed Rs 40,000 the rest of the money went to the kitty of Ms Pushpa Devi who was then the district welfare officer but was transferred early this year. UNI


6 of family die in truck-car collision
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 19
Six persons, including three women, were killed in a head-on collision between a car and a truck near Hamira village on the G.T. Road, 12 km from here today.

The deceased belonged to a family of Lambran village, Jalandhar district. They have been identified as Anand Bir Mohan (40), his wife Sunita Devi (35), mother Krishna Devi (65), daughter Pratibha (10) and sons Rudra (10) and Shekhar (4).

According to police reports, they were coming back from Amritsar after participating in a “jagran” in their Maruti Zen when it collided with a truck coming from the opposite side while overtaking a bus.

A case has been registered.


Five dead in two mishaps

Phagwara, September 19
Five persons were killed in two separate road accidents near here late last evening. According to reports received here, three occupants of a van were killed on the spot when their vehicle collided with a tanker near Bahrr-Majra on the Phagwara-Banga road.

The victims were identified as Daljit Singh, Narinder Singh and Seas of Behram village. The police has arrested the tanker driver.

In another road accident, two persons, identified as Manga Ram and Gurcharan Singh of Sangrur, were killed when their car rammed into a truck near Gohawar village on the Phagwara-Ludhiana GT Road. UNI


3 vehicle thieves held, 6 cars recovered

Jalandhar, September 19
The police today claimed having arrested three vehicle thieves and recovered six stolen cars from them. At a special naka at Football Chowk in the morning, the police intercepted a Maruti car and demanded registration papers which revealed that it was a stolen vehicle, said Naresh Kumar, DSP adding that all three occupants of the car were arrested.

The arrested persons were identified as Binderjit Singh, Mukhtiar Singh and Harpreet Singh, all residents of Nakodar, the DSP said adding that five more stolen cars were recovered from them. During interrogation the arrested persons revealed that all were drug peddlers. PTI


Barnala college drama team excels
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, September 19
S.D. College, Barnala, has won the first prize in the national Punjabi drama festival being organised here on the eve of the “aagman purab” of Sufi saint Baba Sheikh Farid.

S.D. College was declared best for its performance of “Part Aaon Tak”. “Raat de Hanere”, performed by the Pracheen Kala Kendra, Chandigarh, and “Triskarian Dhian” by the Sirjana Art Group were declared second and third respectively. The Chetna Kala Manch got a special consolation prize.


Admission seekers in J&K colleges in a fix
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 19
Students of the region seeking admission to B.Ed course in different institutions in Jammu and Kashmir are feeling upset as no information is given to them whether counselling would be held on September 23 and September 24 as per schedule or not because the government has ordered the closure of educational institutions in that state and staff of these institutions put on poll duty.

The students, most of whom, have applied for admission to an institution in Jammu, said that if the institutions were to be closed the dates for counselling should have been decided keeping in view the election dates. They demanded that information about change of dates for counselling should have been intimated to students.

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