Tuesday, September 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Demand of ex-panchayat secys accepted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
About 450 panchayat secretaries of Punjab whose services had been terminated got a major relief today when the Punjab Chief Minister announced that he had accepted their demand of reinstating them. Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, and Mr Gurmeet Singh, political secretary to the Chief Minister, came to the place where the panchayat secretaries were agitating and offered juice to six members sitting on hunger strike early this morning.

The union decided to call off the hunger strike but made it clear that it continue its dharna till the final decision was implemented. Welcoming the government's decision, Mr Jatinder Singh, Senior Vice-President of the union, said: ‘‘We are grateful to the state government, especially Capt Amarinder Singh, Ms Bhattal and other leaders, who played a role in meeting our demands.’’

In a brief address, Mr Hanspal, said: ‘‘We cannot forget your contribution during the election. Since all legal hurdles have been cleared, the government will restore your services at the earliest, after calling a meeting with your representatives once the Chief Minister returns from Delhi.’’ He apologised for the delay in taking the decision

Amazingly, there was no ill-feeling among members of the union against the government. Mr Jatinder Singh said: ‘‘Our parents and relatives had prayed in gurdwaras and temples for the victory of the Congress and we organised so many rallies to support the party candidates during the elections. Though the CM had issued directions as early as in April to the department, to solve the matter, but nothing was done. We welcome the decision, though we are missing the absence of Sucha Singh, one of our colleagues, who could not see this day. He had committed suicide as he could not bear the shock of termination after six year's of service. Three other colleagues have also lost their mental balance.’’

It is to be noted that a majority of these candidates belong to the Scheduled Castes, and have passed plus two. They were getting about Rs 6000 per month at the time of their termination. Expressing his inner feelings, Mr Desh Raj, Press Secretary of the union, said philosophically: ‘‘The long struggle has made us to understand the value of government service, besides gaining a wisdom to differentiate between friends and enemies. We could do nothing against the advocate, who had declined to fight our case decisively even after taking Rs 50,000 in advance.’’


Rs 40 lakh village funds embezzled
Recovery from sarpanch, panch recommended
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
A scam of lakhs of rupees of Panchayat funds has come to light in Phulokhari village of this district. A case has been registered against Mr Narinderjit Singh, Junior Engineer (J.E.), Panchayati Raj Department, Mr Thana Singh, Panchayat Secretary, Mr Mahal Singh, sarpanch and Mr Nachhattar Singh, member panchayat by Raman Mandi police station yesterday under Sections 409, 465, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and Sections 13 (1) (D) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act after they were found guilty of having embezzled more than Rs 40 lakh of Panchayat funds by inquiries conducted by Executive Engineer (Xen), Panchayati Raj and District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) following a complaint by Mr Tara Singh to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma.

Official sources said that though only four persons had been named in the FIR, there was likelihood of involvement of more officials.

Sources pointed out that the Panchayat of Phulokhari village received more than Rs 1.25 crore compensation from the Punjab Refinery Project Authorities, which had acquired its land of this, more than Rs 40 lakh had been eaten up.

After the embezzlement of Rs 40 lakh was established by the two inquiries by two different officer, Mr Verma wrote to the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), Talwandi Sabo to recover the amount from sarpanch and panchayat member, Mr Mahal Singh and Mr Nachhattar Singh, respectively. The DC has also written to the Director, Department of Rural Development and Panchayat, Punjab for action against Mr Narinderjit Singh, J.E. and Mr Thana Singh, panchayat secretary. He had also urged the Director take action against sarpanch and panchayat member.

According to the inquiry report the accused had purchased material for the construction of buildings in the village in excess in very short period at excessive prices without taking quotations of competitive prices with the intention to embezzle money and favour those who knew them.

The sarpanch and panchayat member, who operated the panchayat account, did not maintain muster roll of labour properly.

The accused had shown payment to draftsman for making site plans of buildings without having sanction for same from the authorities concerned. For the purchase of furniture, the accused had entered more expenditure in the register than what they actually paid to the supplier.

The accused had also shown expenditure of lakhs of rupees on earthwork which was to be executed free of cost. The accused had shown payment to tractor owners for construction activity as well as 5000 litres of diesel was shown to be purchased for use in tractors for construction.

The inquiries also revealed that technical and financial instructions given to the J.E. panchayat secretary and other officials of Block Development and Panchayat Office by the authorities concerned for development work like erecting boundary wall of government middle school, construction of multi-purpose hall, veterinary dispensary, dharamshala for Schedules Caste, retaining wall of dead animal house, cremation ground and corridor in front of panchayat shops, were not followed. Even measurement books of civil work were not maintained properly by the officials concerned.

The DC said that process of action against the guilty had been initiated.

Police sources did not confirm any arrest in this case.


Cotton starts arriving in markets
Centre yet to announce MSP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
Cotton has started arriving in the markets of North Zone, comprising Punjab, Haryana and Sriganganagar and Hanumangarh circles of Rajasthan.

Those connected with the processing of cotton expect good yield.

The arrival of white gold in the markets has been delayed by 15 days due to late sowing and re-sowing on account of extreme hot conditions.

Presently arrival of cotton in markets is nearly five times less than that of in the corresponding period last year. The Northern India Cotton Association said that daily arrival of ‘narma’ variety of cotton in current season was 550 bales and desi variety it was 150 bales.

Last year in the corresponding period, arrival of narma was 2200 bales and ‘desi’ cotton was 1000 bales. Last year up to September 30, 60000 bales arrived in the markets whereas only 15,000 bales were expected to arrive in the markets up to September 30.

Arrival of cotton in Punjab markets is encouraging in Haryana it is less and in Rajasthan it is insignificant. The traders expect the arrival will pick up in October as due to late sowing and untimely rains the crop will mature late.

Mr Ashok Kapur, President, Northern India Cotton Association, said that production of 20 lakh bales was being estimated in the current season against the 18.5 lakh bales last year in the North zone. He added that according to the liberal estimate, 22 lakh bales were expected to arrive in markets in the current season.

Market sources pointed out that at present ‘desi’ variety of cotton was fetching Rs 1700 to Rs 1980 per quintal while ‘narma’ variety between Rs 1600 and Rs 1950. Last year MSP of ‘desi’ cotton was Rs 1250 and ‘narma’ Rs 1675. The Centre so far has not announced MSP for the current season.

Price of cotton had been low as no state or Central agency like Markfed and the Cotton Corporation of India (CCI) has entered the market so far. Also buyers from Mumbai and south India were yet to visit markets here to buy cotton.

The other factor, affecting cotton prices in the current season, was that certain big mills had already stored adequate stocks by importing cotton from other countries as prices of cotton ruled high in the domestic markets last year.

Mr Kapur pointed out that this time, average yield of cotton per acre was estimated to be at 15 maunds against five maunds last year. He added that, so far, only ginning and pressing mills here were buying cotton in the markets.

Meanwhile, Mr H.S. Bhatti, Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Bathinda, pointed out that cotton price was insufficient this season in view of increased costs of inputs. He added that at least one quintal of cotton should fetch Rs 2000.


Dhindsa blames mess on Chief Minister
Drought relief and paddy procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
In a counter-attack on Punjab Chief Minster Amarinder Singh and his government, the SAD Secretary-General and Union Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, said the former was fully responsible for creating a mess on the drought relief and paddy procurement.

Mr Dhindsa, who has faxed copies of the letters written by him to Capt Amarinder Singh and Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh to The Tribune, said that the Punjab Government even did not show the courtesy of formally responding to his letters.

In a letter dated August 12 to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Dhindsa informed him about the report submitted by the state government to the Union Government seeking relief for drought-hit farmers. His objective was to pursue that report at the Union Government level and also with his Cabinet colleagues for a substantial package for Punjab’s drought-affected farmers. However, no report was made available to him till date. Nor, he was intimated about the damage caused by drought in the state. It was a known fact that the Punjab Government continued to prepare its case for drought relief till the first week of September. In fact, it completed the “special girdawari” on August 25. By that time most of the states had availed themselves of drought relief from the Union Government.

Mr Dhindsa said before writing to the Punjab Chief Minister, he had taken up the issue of guidelines fixed by the Union Government for declaring a particular area or state as drought-hit. Mr Dhindsa while pleading Punjab’s case with Mr Ajit Singh had stated that “whereas some of the states could easily qualify for the calamity relief as per the existing guidelines of the government, Punjab being an agriculturally advanced state with more dependence on underground water, faces a peculiar situation”. So, Punjab’s drought situation should be viewed in totality while releasing calamity fund for the state.

Mr Dhindsa said he wrote another letter on September 19 to the Union Agriculture Minister to seek a substantial increase in the minimum support price of paddy and to start its procurement from September 21. The increase in the MSP was required to compensate farmers who saved the paddy crop by taking loans from commission agents and banks etc. Mr Dhindsa said instead of blaming the SAD leadership on the paddy issue, the Amarinder Singh Government should make public efforts it had made for getting the MSP enhanced and to ensure the maximum relief for drought-hit farmers. The Punjab Government had done nothing and was now trying to mislead farmers by blaming Akalis leaders, Mr Dhindsa alleged.


Farmers begin dharna in Chandigarh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
About 1,000 farmers from different parts of Punjab today set up tents near Matka Chowk on the call of various peasant unions. They have started an indefinite dharna to press upon the state and central governments to announce the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy and to meet their other demands.

The call for the state-wide protests has been given by Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and Kisan Sabhas affiliated to the CPI and the CPM. Five other unions also started their protest at Patiala, the home town of Capt Amarinder Singh, from today.

Addressing the farmers, Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, state President of Bharti Kisan union ( Ekta ), said: ‘‘ The Centre has neither announced the MSP nor the procurement of paddy has been started. The farmers, who had to spend about Rs 4,000 to Rs 5,000 additional on the paddy due to drought in the state, are being forced to sell the crop to traders at half the cost of production. The state government and the Akali Dal ( Badal ) have failed to press upon the Centre to announce the price.’’

He lamented that no action had been initiated against sugar mills who owed about Rs 100 crore to farmers. Rather, the government was imposing power tariff on tubewells that would result in an additional burden of about Rs 3000 crore on them. If the government was not ready to link the MSP with the cost of production, how could it impose additional burden on farmers, he asked.

In a memorandum submitted to the state government, the unions have also asked for waiving of loans in the cotton belt where the farmers were losing crops for the past eight years. They said the government should announce Rs 15,000 per acre as compensation for the loss of cotton during all these years.

The speakers urged the state government to implement its promise of providing Rs 30 per quintal bonus on paddy procured last year and to take back about 200 cases registered against their leaders during different agitations.


Distress sale of paddy
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 23
The procurement of paddy is yet to take off in the district.

Mr Amarjit Singh, a farmer of Sher Singh Wala, said he had sold 250 quintals of the produce. Mr Lachman Singh of Kabalwala said he had sold 250 quintals. He fears that he might not be able to return his loan of Rs 1 lakh to Cooperative Bank, Golewala. Mr Surjit Singh from Arayianwala village said he had been waiting to sell his 150 quintals of paddy for the past two days. About 600 quintals of paddy was lying in the village, he added.

According to reports, over 25,000 metric tonnes of paddy has been purchased by traders at the rate ranging from Rs 490 to Rs 510 in three grain markets, including Faridkot, Kotkapura and Jaitu, during the past few days.

Moga: It is paddy everywhere, with several lakh tonnes awaiting procurement for the past several days. The spacious squares of eastern and western grain markets and places around are packed with the paddy, leaving little space for fresh arrivals. Many carts, trucks and tractor-trailers are queued up along the entrances, waiting their turn for unloading their stocks.


SHSAD protest in Delhi on Sept 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
The SHSAD will hold a demonstration in Delhi on September 30 and its activists will court arrest to protest against the delay in starting procurement of paddy and hiking its minimum support price.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the party, said Mr G.S. Tohra would lead the demonstration. He said both Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh and opposition leader, Parkash Singh Badal were responsible for delay in the procurement of paddy. Mr Badal was in a position to press the Union Government to hike the MSP and to start early procurement of paddy but he did not do so.

Mr Chandumajra claimed that his party was the first to meet Union Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh. “We met him four days ago and submitted a detailed representation regarding the MSP and procurement. However, the minister said the state government had not yet sent any representation on these issues”.

Immediately after the demonstration on September 30, the party would start a “rail roko” agitation in Punjab.


Blood, kidney deals struck in gardens
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 23
The prominent gardens of this city are allegedly being used to sell blood and strike deals for sale/purchase of kidneys by certain persons.

Many of the accused, who have been arrested by the city police, disclosed during interrogation that most of the deals were done at the historic Ram Bagh, the Jallianwala Bagh and the Gole Bagh. The city SP, Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, said many agents of private blood banks would visit the gardens in search of ‘preys’ along with blood testing kits and take the blood there. Doctor, who pleaded anonymity, said the blood collected at a public place could be the most contaminated and could lead to the death of a patient, who is given such blood.

Ravi Mehra, a resident of Ujain, who sold his kidney four years ago, said he knew an agent Ram Parsad who used to collect the blood of wandering ‘faqirs’ at the behest of the private blood banks. It may be mentioned here that Ravi Mehra himself had become a ‘sub agent’, and used to lure poor persons from New Delhi and other parts of the country into selling their organs.

Dr Swami Ram Sharn Sharma, Assistant Professor and in charge of the government-run blood bank, while talking to The Tribune confirmed the selling of blood by beggars and professional persons in different parts of the city to the private blood banks. He, however, said he was not authorised to take any punitive action to check such ‘illegal activities’.

Replying to a question, he said the government blood bank had been collecting about 16,000 units of blood every year while about 50,000 units were used in the city. The remaining of the need (about 34,000 units) was met by the private banks. The SP said the illegal activity had been going on unchecked due to indifference of all concerned.


Councillors give themselves threefold raise
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 23
Development projects of about Rs 40 crore were passed during a meeting of the local Municipal Corporation here today amid allegations by SAD-BJP councillors that the Congress Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, had deliberately excluded most of the development projects of their wards from the agenda. Though objections were raised to almost all proposals, the House unanimously resolved to increase the monthly allowance of the councillors from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000.

Senior Deputy Mayor, Ms Anita Rani, presided over the meeting of the House in the absence of the Mayor, who was away to China to attend a seminar. The House observed two minutes’ silence to commemorate the death of the Vice-President, late Krishan Kant, and two residents of the Phagwari Mohalla, who died due to gastroenteritis.

The SAD-BJP councillors led by Mr Kishan Chand Bhandari raised objections to the proposals No. 6 and 7 with regard to seeking approval for Rs 6.5 lakh project for renovation and air-conditioning of the office and residence of the Mayor. Mr Bhandari alleged that Mr Mahey had flouted all prescribed norms by getting Rs 6.5 lakh project completed through one of his close contractors three months back without seeking the mandatory approval of the House and without inviting bids for the same. The House decided to send the proposal to the state government for approval.

Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, a Congress MLA, raised objection to a proposal to set up a corporation club at the local Burlton Park at a cost of Rs 50 lakh, alleging that though the civic body had failed to provide safe drinking water and other civic amenities to the city residents yet it was going in for wasteful expenditure for recreation purposes. Ms Anita Rani dropped the proposal.

The proposal to install high-mast lights at a cost of Rs 50 lakh in different parts of the city was also kept pending for the next meeting following objections by Mr Gupta.

Mr Kanwaljit Singh Gandhi, an Akali councillor, strongly objected to the proposal pertaining to the imposition of a hefty fee for giving a no-objection certificate (NOC) to the industrial sector, which was mandatory to get a power connection from the PSEB. The proposal was subsequently dropped.

Interestingly, most of the Congress councillors were seen blaming each other for the alleged failure of the MC officials to check mixing of sludge with drinking water in the Phagwari Mohalla, which resulted in death of two residents due to gastroenteritis two days ago. While a Congress councillor, Mr Sardari Lal, blamed MC officials for the deaths, another Congress councillor, Mr Harkrishan Singh Bawa, along with three others defended the officers saying that adequate measures had been taken to control the spread of the disease in the locality.


PM team eats, stays, fails to pay
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 23
Dozens of dishes of “tandoori chicken”, “chicken tangi kabab”, “chicken tikka”, “chicken sizzler”, “garlic chicken”, “tooti fruti”, “fresh juice” and “stuffed paronthas” gulped by officers, who accompanied the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, during his visit to Killianwali in Muktsar district on September 25, 2001, and Bathinda town on February 10, 2002, during their stay for many days at the local Sepal Hotel have left its owner poorer by thousands of rupees.

The district administration booked accommodation for the officers in Sepal, but the hotel owners have so far failed to get any positive response in connection with the payment of their bills, which run into thousands of rupees.

Officers from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and members of the crew who accompanied Mr Vajpayee when he visited this part of Bathinda and Muktsar district for addressing a pre-election rally and an election rally, were given “VVVIP” treatment in the Sepal by the then district officers under the directions of state government and they were not asked to pay their bills despite the fact that they were given TA and DA for their official visit with PM.

“I have been running from pillar to post to realise the outstanding bills totalling about Rs 70,000 for the past one year. So far, I have failed to generate any hope that payment will be made to me in lieu of those bills by the authorities concerned despite the fact that district administration booked rooms in my hotel,” pointed out Mr Vijay Katia, owner of the hotel.

He added that almost all the bills were signed by the officials who stayed in the hotel and enjoyed its food for days. The guests were given the best food and provided with all sorts of comforts. But non-payment of bills so far made him uncomfortable.

He has made a number of pleas to the district in this regard, but failed to get the desired result. Since the hotel is facing a hard time, he is in dire need of money for meeting the routine expenses.

Those who enjoyed sumptuous food include Wg Cdr N. Santosh, Sqn Ldr A. Sharma, Flt-Lt V. Juyal, G.K. Mishra, Warrant Officer, Djith Kumar and H. Parshad (both Junior Warrant Officers), B.S. Rao and I.P. Rao (both Sergeants), Mukhbrjer, S. Kumar, V. Chand, K.K. Verma and S. Bahadur (all corporals), A.S. Parendkar, A.S. Rajput and P. Ramesh (all members of the helicopter unit), Mr Anil Sinha and Mr Amloy Patnaik, both guests of then General Assistant to Deputy Commissioner and one senior IAS officer of Punjab state.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said all those who accompanied the Prime Minister should have paid their bills as they would get TA and DA for their visit also. He added that he had written to the higher authorities that either these bills should be realised from those who stayed in the hotel or from the PMO. He added that district administration could not pay such bills, as there was no provision for the same.


Wakf Board, SSP fight for cash-rich trust
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, September 23
The Punjab Wakf Board has locked horns with the local Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, for not handing over the possession of a dargah, the shrine of Baba Sher Shah Wali, despite the notification issued by the Government of India in its favour. The shrine, known as “Astana Auliya Dargah Hajrat Baba Sher Shah Wali Peer” is under the control of Baba Sher Shah Wali Public Welfare Trust headed by the SSP.

Challenging the SSP for illegally running the trust, the Punjab Wakf Board has filed an application before the Executive Magistrate to transfer the intkaal (mutation) of the land belonging to the dargah on the name of Wakf Board.

Mr Sinha, chairman of the trust, has contested the case on the plea that the lands belonging to the dargahs do not come under the preview of the Wakf Board.

The case will come before the court of Sub-Divisional Magistrate on October 3.

Mr Ashok Kumar, manager of the dargah, said Mohammad Mustafa, the then SSP of Ferozepore in 1992 constituted the Baba Sher Shah Wali Public Welfare Trust to get control of the dargah by throwing out Mata Sundar Bai, who used to look after the dargah then. Although, she filed a complaint before the Judicial Magistrate against the SSP, she died before the case was decided and the trust won the case without contest.

The constitution of the trust was framed in such a way that the chairman of the trust would always be the sitting SSP and general secretary the sitting SP(H) of Ferozepore. Other members include Mr Satya Pal Baghi (veteran journalist), Mr Manohar Lal (former MC chief), Mr Manjit Sodhi, Mr Pashminder Sodhi (both landlords of Guru Sahai), Mr Gurnaib Brar (former MLA and senior leader of the Congress), Master Channan Das (father of an IPS officer), Mr Javed Akhtar (brother of Mohammad Mustafa, now DIG, Ludhiana), Dr Kewal Krishan and Mr Razia Sultana.

According to Mr H.R. Khan, District Estate Officer of the Punjab Wakf Board, the Government of India has issued a notification in its favour, saying that the land of Kabar Baba Sher Shah Wali (later converted into dargah), Ferozepore, belongs to the board. But the district administration is refusing to hand over the possession allegedly under pressure from the SSP.

The notification published in the Gazette of India No. 50 dated December 15, 2001, states that the land of Kabar Baba Sher Shah Wali khasra No 153 (2 marlas) and khasra No. 154 (4 marlas) jamabandi 1998-99 belongs to the Punjab Wakf Board, Ambala cantonment.

Mr Khan said that the earnings of this dargah run into lakhs of rupees per month. As the SSP has direct access to these funds, being the permanent chairman of the trust, the dargah has become the most important ‘financial institution’ for him.

“Since, this is the only ‘discretionary quota’ of funds available with the SSP, every effort is being explored to put back the control of the police over the shrine with pressure”, said Mr M.U. Beg, president of the Muslim Welfare Forum, Ferozepore.

He alleged that an estimated amount of Rs 60 lakh per annum is being earned from the dargah but the registers of the trust do not show more than Rs 20 lakh per annum. He has demanded from the Chief Minister of Punjab to initiate an independent probe into the embezzlement of funds by the successive SSPs since 1992.

Mr H.R Khan said the board was preparing a suit against the successive SSP’s of Ferozepore since 1992 and all members of the trust to be filed before the Punjab Wakf Board Tribunal for recovery of the illegal use of wakf profits. He said that the money earned from a religious institution and meant for the minorities should have been exclusively spent on Muslim welfare schemes.

However, Mr Praveen Kumar Sinha, SSP, said that the earnings of the trust were being spent on development works, sports activities and other welfare schemes. The local hockey academy is being run on the total sponsorship of the trust. He said the notification issued by the Government of India was ‘null and void’ as dargah do not come under the preview of the Wakf Board. They would contest this notification, he said.


Crucial historical records missing
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Important documents relating to the historical importance of this border city are reportedly missing from the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the district library.

According to the details available, the city acquired the status of a district headquarter in 1838, when it became a British possession. Since then, the British started appointing a civil servant in charge of the district affairs of Ferozepore. From 1838 to 1914 officials in charge of the district held the post under different titles. The records of that are available in the city with a local citizen from whom these were recently collected by the Deputy Commissioner’s office for reference. But the records of the district officials from 1914 to 1947 are still missing from the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the district library.

The unique record of the officials mentioned in one of the Gazetteers (available with a local resident, Mr P.S. Sodhi, and then collected by Mr S.R. Ladhar, former Deputy Commissioner, from him during his research) who held the post of district in charge reveals that the first two officials, M.P. Edgeworth (5.12.1838 to 16.1.1839) and H.M Lawrence (17.1.1839 to 28.3.1841), were called Assistant Political Agent to the Governor-General, North-West Frontier. Later, this title was changed to Assistant Agent to the Governor-General, North-West Frontier. The officials who held the post under this title were Lieut J.D. Cunningham (29.3.1841 to 16.9.1841). H. Vansittart (17.9.1841 to 22.12.1841), Capt H.M. Lawrence (20.10.1841 to 22.12.1841), H.H. Greathead (23.12.1841 to 18.5.1843), Capt P Nicholsan (19.5.1843 to 12.12.1845) and P.A. Vans Agnew (13.12.1845 to 23.2.1846).

The next district official in charge of the district was S.C. Starkey (24.2.1846 to 20.4.1846) who was called Assistant Commissioner and Superintendent, Cis-Sutlej States. His successor A.T. Daniel’s (21.4.1846 to 1.11.1847) designation was changed to Deputy Commissioner and Superintendent, Cis-Sutlej States. From that time onwards, the title of Deputy Commissioner has been in use in Punjab as well as the whole country.

According to a historical reference found by TNS, district headquarter of Ferozepore in 1839, when as yet neither Punjab nor Sindh had been annexed, was a species of Ultima Thule, the furthest limits of our Indian possessions. It was described as a dreary and desert plain, where very little rain was ever known to fall and an almost continual dust storm was the normal condition of the atmosphere.

According to the details available 117 officials had worked as in charge of the district from December 5, 1838 to July 10, 1914. But the records from 1914 to 1947 are missing. A some old people revealed to TNS that few books were available both in the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the district library. “Nobody knows where the record has gone from the Deputy Commissioner’s office. A Gazetter of the British period was available in the district library till the early 1990’s”, said Mr M.L. Tiwari, an educationist and a veteran journalist. Further investigations by TNS revealed that the Gazetteer was issued to a woman PCS officer posted here, in the 1990s but was never returned. An independent inquiry is needed in the issue to find the historical documents that were once available in both the Deputy Commissioner’s office and the district library. Mr S.R. Ladhar, a former Deputy Commissioner of Ferozepore, took the initiative early this year to collect information from all possible sources but his research work failed falling prey to petty politics with the change of government in the state following his transfer.


Five-day Sewa Dal camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
It is only the Congress, which can give good governance and save the nation from communal clashes and lead it towards peace and development. The leaders of the Congress have made sacrifices to see India, a prosperous and developing country. Just to take this message to the grass roots level, the party has decided to strengthen the Congress Sewa Dal, said Mr Parhlad Yadav, national chief organiser of the Dal, while addressing the concluding ceremony of the five-day primary training camp of the Dal at Bassi Pathana town today.

He said a new scheme “Ek Gaun Ek Raat” had been chalked out by the Dal and under this programme, the Dal would train 150 workers at every district level. These workers would work only in rural areas. He said the national office-bearers of the Dal would visit these districts and stay with these workers for a night. He said the main aim of the Dal was to work in rural areas as the urban people had their own approach, whereas the rural people wound not highlight their grievances and reach the ministers and officials. He said every trained worker would visit three villages everyday and he would work as a mediator between the people and the officials, ministers and the government. He would get their grievances redressed and implement the schemes of the government at grass roots level. He said moreover, the youths would get a chance to build their character and strengthen the national spirit. He said the Dal would provide them a platform to develop their personality, social and political base and to develop leadership qualities.

He said the government should strengthen party cadre and particularly, the Dal to get real feedback.

Addressing the camp Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest and former state chief of the Dal, highlighted the role of the Dal and said he had become a minister after serving for a long time in the Dal. He advised the workers to serve the people with dedication and honesty. He said if they would highlight the problems of the public, then the people would come to their fold and only then the desire of the every Congressmen to see Sonia Gandhi as a Prime Minister could be fulfilled.

Dr Jawahar Lal Sharma, chief state Sewa Dal, Ravinder Rathore chief organiser of the camp, Dr Sohan Lal, state organiser, Sewa Dal, O.P. Tangri, district chief Sewa Dal, Leela Verma, veteran of Sewa Dal, Subhash Sood, Pt Naresh Sharma and Sadhu Ram, senior Congress leaders also addressed the function.


Kidnapped’ trader of Sirhind returns
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 23
The district police claimed to have recovered Lakhwinder Singh, a trader of Sirhind, who was allegedly kidnapped from his native Jalbehri Dhumi village, when he was going to pay obeisance at the nearby gurdwara by the unidentified kidnappers who were in a Sumo last Tuesday early in the morning. The Sirhind police had also registered a case under Sections 364-A & 34, IPC.


  • Mr Lakhwinder Singh, who was kidnapped, was scared and mentally tense.
  • He said the abductors made two calls to his residence from his cell phone and directed him to ask them to arrange for Rs 5 lakh as ransom.
  • The SSP said police parties had been sent to nab the abductor.

While talking to The Tribune, Mr. B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, said after working hard for six days, the police had ultimately succeeded in recovering Lakhwinder Singh from Rajpura town last night. He said since his abduction the police had been working on various theories and on receiving a tip-off the police had also searched the deras and surrounding areas. He said besides this the police also kept a watch on his residence and mobile phone. He, however, declined to give details about the recovery of Lakhwinder Singh and the abductors apprehending that the leakage of details may benefit the abductors. He said Lakhwinder Singh had identified one of the abductors and efforts are being made to nab him. He claimed that on specific information the police had tightened the noose around the abductors and succeeded in getting the victim released.

Meanwhile, Mr Lakhwinder Singh, who was kidnapped, was scared and mentally tense. He agreed to talk to The Tribune after great pursuance at his native village. He said as usual he was going to pay obeisance at village gurdwara at about 5 a.m. and as soon as he reached Sadhugarh, four car-borne Sikh youths asked him about the way to Hansali village and when he was guiding them they threw him into the car and put some cloth on his face. He said after half-an-hour journey they put him in another vehicle with different persons.

He said he was in the vehicle throughout the day and in the evening they took him to some isolated place and the cloth was removed from his face. He said he was kept in sugarcane fields and in a room at night. He said the abductors made two calls to his residence from his cell phone and directed him to ask them to arrange for Rs 5 lakh as ransom. When Lakhwinder become unconscious one day the abductors brought a doctor for his treatment. On seeing his condition the doctors got suspicious and he revealed the incident to the parents of one of the abductor, who helped in his release. They made him board a train from Saharnpur and gave him a ticket of Rajpura. On reaching Rajpura he informed his family members who took him to village. Lakhwinder said he had identified one of the abductors, who is a relative of his brother-in-law.

The SSP said police parties had been sent to nab the abductor and the police was also verifying the statement of the kidnapped person.


Govt seeks details on promoted JEs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
The Punjab government has asked all four Municipal Corporations in the state to send details of the persons promoted as junior engineers.

The highest number of promoted JEs is from lower cadres under the Amritsar Municipal Corporation has caused flutter in corporation circles here. Majority of those promoted in Amritsar were tubewell operators and were promoted in 1994. While one ‘fitter’ and another ‘chainman’ were promoted junior engineer in 1998.

Consequently, promotion of Surjit Singh and Shashi Kumar, both promoted JE in 1998, Mangat Singh, Avtar Singh and Wazir Singh promoted in 1994 and the latest to be promoted was Harjinder Singh, in February 2001 by ‘direct recruitment’, has come under scrutiny by the Local Self-Government Department.

Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation admitted that details of at least nine such promotees had been called by the local self-government. However, he said, none of the promoted persons was reverted to his parent cadre following controversy of the promotions.

It is being alleged that those singled out were persons whose promotions were under ‘doubt’.

The government has sought details, in a letter of September 18, 2002 addressed to all four Corporation Commissioners for sending details of promotion of JEs. Three persons were promoted JEs in other corporations, which has also come under scrutiny, namely Joginder Singh, Nachhattar Singh and Pawan Singh.


CM’s election: hearing on October 17
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Framing issues on a petition challenging the election of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh from Patiala assembly constituency, Mr Justice Jasbir Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed October 17 as the next hearing for the case.

The issues were framed after Mr Justice Jasbir Singh took on record a replication filed by petitioner Harkirat Singh a voter from Patiala and went through the other documents placed before the court, including to reply filed on behalf of the Chief Minister.

During the proceedings, the petitioner, in his replication, alleged that the Chief Minister had used a helicopter during his election campaign but the expenses incurred were not specified. Claiming the use of chopper for visiting his constituency and for dropping hand bills, the petitioner added that an expenditure of approximately Rs 3,70,000 was incurred.

Regarding the captain’s allegations of the CM using certain posters for projecting himself as the Maharaja of Patiala, the petitioner asserted that the same “would be summoned and proved at the time of evidence”. He added that in India, Maharaja and God had the same connotation and as such the posters had helped him during the elections.

As far as allegations about the captain using the services of Class I gazetted officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal were concerned, the petitioner claimed that documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt. He alleged that his role during the elections included extending hospitality to electronic and print media after contacting journalists. The petitioner further added that Chahal was rewarded by the respondent for the services he rendered.

Describing the allegations levelled against him as frivolous, vague and irrelevant, the Chief Minister, on the last date of hearing, had sought the dismissal of the petition. In a written statement, his counsel had stated that the petition did not disclose any cause of action. Denying the allegations about using the services of Chahal, Joint Director in the Information and Public Relations Department, counsel had added that the petition did not disclose the manner in which his help was taken.

He had further claimed that a copy of a poster, alleged to have shown the CM as Maharaja of Patiala, was neither placed on the record, nor were the contents reproduced.

Cases against Baba shifted to Haryana

The High Court, in a significant development, today transferred from state of Punjab seven cases registered against Baba Piara Singh Bhaniarawala — accused of sacrilege.

Mr Justice M.L. Singhal directed that all the seven cases will be heard at Ambala. In his detailed order, Mr Justice Singhal observed that six cases being tried by Patiala’s Chief Judicial Magistrate were being withdrawn and transferred to Ambala CJM’s court. The Judge added that another case registered at a police station in Sirhand was also transferred to the Ambala Session Judge’s court.

In his petition, the Baba had sought modification of an earlier order vide which all the cases against him were transferred to Patiala. He had added that his movement in the state of Punjab was not without risk to his life and as such the cases should either be transferred to the state of Haryana or to Chandigarh.

Show-cause notice to two SSPs

Taking a serious view of the failure of police authorities to file affidavits in the court, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel today directed Senior Superintendents of Jalandhar and Nawanshahr police to show cause why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against them for non compliance of orders in two separate cases.

Issuing directions on different petitions filed by two fathers seeking directions to the authorities for disclosing the whereabouts of their sons, Mr Justice Goel observed that SSPs of Nawanshahr and Jalandhar were directed on July 18 to look into the cases and file affidavits about the whereabouts of Naresh Kumar and Lakhbir Singh. The Judge added that neither was any affidavit filed, nor any explanation given.

In his application, Sohan Lal of Mukandpura village in Nawanshahr district had alleged that his 22-year-old son was taken away by the police and till date his whereabouts were not known. In the other application, Achhar Singh of Jalandhar district had added that his son, Lakhbir Singh, was falsely challaned regarding the recovery of poppy and his whereabouts were not known till date.

Consider sweepers’ regularisation

Allowing a bunch of writ petitions filed by part-time sweepers working in various government schools in the state of Punjab, a Division Bench of the High Court on Monday directed the government to consider their cases for regularisation within three months.

In a ruling, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, also set aside the orders passed by the government whereby the claim of the petitioners was rejected.


Court notice to Vigilance Bureau
Our Correspondent

Kharar, September 23
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, today issued notice for September 25 to the Vigilance Bureau on an application moved by the counsel of Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board, for the cancellation of non-bailable warrants issued against him by the court earlier.

The counsel has written in his application that Sandhu left India on June 12 and after that the FIR against him was registered. He has written that at present he is in Milwaukee (USA). The accused has not been abscounding in the case and has approached the court of his own without any notice from the court.

He has written that the accused will come to India and join the investigation as soon as the doctor permits him to travel. He has been advised by the doctor in Milwaukee not to travel for two months and to take bed rest.

He has requested the court that non-bailable warrants issued against him should be cancelled, he said.


15,000 ‘illegal’ immigrants to get citizenship
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 23
The Italian Government has decided to give citizenship to 15,000 Punjabi immigrants who have been “illegally” residing in Schengen countries for the past many years. All related documents in this connection will be handed over to them by the governments concerned by October 8.

This was claimed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, member of the Rajya Sabha and president of the All-India Lok Bhalai Party while talking to mediapersons here today. He is leaving for Italy on September 25 in this connection.

He had to take many steps and measures for the rehabilitation of the deserted immigrants, Mr Ramoowalia said. He urged upon the Union Government to take stringent measures against those 10,000 NRI men who had deserted their Punjabi wives due to liberal laws in various European countries. He stressed for the attachment of their (NRIs) properties in India and said these should be handed over the deserted wives.


Punjab staff ‘not taken care of’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 23
Punjab Agricultural and Rural Development Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has urged the Jammu and Kashmir Government to provide proper facilities to Punjab employees who have been put on election duty there.

Mrs Bhattal, who has returned after campaigning for two days in Jammu and Kashmir, said in a statement here today that she met a large number of Punjab policemen and other employees in Jammu. “I was shocked to see the plight of employees who have been made to live in inhuman conditions. Proper arrangements had not been made by the administration for their stay,” Mrs Bhattal said.

Mrs Bhattal said she had taken up this issue with the Election Commission of India also.


2 Hoshiarpur men shot in J&K

Hoshiarpur, September 23
A driver and a cleaner of a truck were shot dead by terrorists at Baramula Pakhwara in Jammu and Kashmir on September 21, according to delayed reports received here today.

According to the police, the deceased have been identified as driver Iqwal Singh of Miyani and cleaner Satpal Singh of Tanda Ram Sahai falling under the Dasuya police station. The bodies were cremated here today. UNI


Ex-minister’s son faces case of bid to murder
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, September 23
The district police has registered a case against Sandeep Singh Dhillon, son of the late Punjab minister Teja Singh Dhillon and his accomplice Tarsem Lal for allegedly trying to kill an advocate in the district courts complex here today.

Police sources said Dhillon had gone to the cabin of advocate Gurpreet Singh Bhasin in the courts complex. Thereafter, Dhillon allegedly took out his revolver and threatened to kill Bhasin, who saved his life by running away from the spot. Some other advocates present also raised the alarm to save Mr Bhasin.

A case under Sections 307, 452 and 506 IPC, was registered in this connection against Sandeep Singh Dhillon and Tarsem Lal. The accused are yet to be arrested.

However, Tarsem Singh denied that they had attacked anyone.


Gang of women thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
The Gurdaspur police busted a gang of women thieves with the arrest of one of its members and recovered about 4.3 kg of silver jewellery. Kamla, alias Billi, of Jaura Chhitran, one of the key members of the gang who was arrested, said they were a gang of five members namely Raj, Darshna, alias Dola, Skuntala, alias Bubbi, and Mattan.

The SSP, Gurdaspur, Mr Varinder Kumar, said gang wore fancy clothes and travelled in a Maruti Esteem and stole gold and silver ornaments. All members of the gang have been booked under Section 411 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, in another incident, Rs 12,020 was seized from four persons who were caught gambling under the Pathankot police station. The arrested included Harbhajan Singh, Kuldip Raj, Joginder Pal and Gulbar Singh.


2,000 pirated CDs of films seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 23
The district police has seized around 2,000 pirated CDs of new Hindi and porno movies and arrested three persons in this regard. A computer, a CD writer, a larger number of blank CDs and wrappers of different films have also seized.

The police raided complexes belonging to Kanwaljit Singh, Rishi Kapoor and Rishi Kumar, near the city bus stand yesterday, and seized around 2,000 pirated CDs of new Hindi films.


DEO (Secondary) to probe funds misuse
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 23
The services of all 700 candidates appointed in the recent past by the District Education Officer (Primary) here, Ms Malti Batra, under the centrally sponsored Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan were terminated today.

The government on Friday suspended Ms Batra after the scandal regarding the appointments made by her was exposed in The Tribune. She was, however, served the suspension orders personally by the DPI (Primary) on Saturday after she refused to accept the orders from the District Education Officer (Secondary) here, who was given the charge of her office.

The sources said even during the visit of the DPI here on Saturday, some of the candidates from different parts of the district had come to collect appointment letters from Ms Batra. The DPI met and questioned the candidates about the appointments being offered to them.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, admitted that the services of the candidates were terminated on the directive of the government. The authorities of schools had been directed to not mark the attendance of the candidates as the appointments were illegal. The DEO (Secondary), Mr Ujjagar Singh Mahi, has also been directed to conduct an inquiry into the use of funds received under the Sarva Sikhya Abhiyan Scheme during the stint of Ms Batra as she was the drawing and dispersing officer for the scheme in the district, the Deputy Commissioner added.

Meanwhile, the sources said the district had received around Rs 19 lakh under the scheme during the stint of Ms Batra. The investigating officer would now look into the use of these funds.

The sources further said that though Ms Batra was suspended on Saturday, she had not yet surrendered her official vehicle. The Gypsy, which was given to her due to her official position, was still in her “illegal” possession.


Show-cause notice triggers controversy
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 23
Newly appointed Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor S .S. Boparai may have promised to start on a fresh note, but top varsity management, comprising teachers who took a stand against former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, are reviving contentious cases with a committee headed by the Pro Vice-Chancellor deciding to issue a show-cause notice to former pro-Dr Ahluwalia unionist and head of the Social Welfare Department Manjit Singh, recently.

The committee decided to issue the notice to Dr Manjit Singh for “helping” Varinderjit Singh Cheema, brother of Bhupinder Singh Cheema, who was accused of leading a murderous attack on a varsity teacher, Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti, during the fag end of the tenure of Dr Ahluwalia.

Dr Bhatti had accused Varinderjit Singh Cheema of also being involved in an attack against him in front of the varsity gate. Pro Vice-Chancellor R. N. Pal had then passed an order banning the entry of both students into the campus. However, despite this, Varinderjit had managed to sit for one of the examinations. It was alleged that Dr Manjit Singh had issued to him the roll number.

The committee, however, opened to questioning because it consists of persons who were then ranged against the former VC, as also Dr Manjit Singh.

The committee is headed by Dr Pal who had passed the order banning the entry of the students which was disputed by Dr Ahluwalia. Dr Ahluwalia was in hiding because a criminal case had been registered against him in the same issue.

Other members of the committee are the Dean, Academics, Dr U. C . Singh who was the convener of a joint action committee agitating against Dr Ahluwalia, the Registrar, Dr K. S. Sidhu who is an active member of the JAC . Besides them, the committee comprises the Dean, Student Welfare, Dr Narinder Singh Kapoor and the Dean, Colleges, Dr S. P. S. Virdi, both sympathisers of the JAC.

Another point likely to raise a controversy is that acting VC N. S. Rattan, who had taken over after the ouster of Dr Ahluwalia, did not take any action against Dr Manjit Singh.

Dr Manjit Singh, when contacted, said he had a file in which the former VC had circled a request made by Dr Pal asking that action be taken against him and made a comment that the competent authority should not be addressed in such a manner.

Dr Manjit Singh claimed that the file also had the signatures of the former VC with the words “I have seen”, which clearly meant that no action should be taken against him.

Dr Manjit Singh also contested that the Pro VC did not have any legal right to issue the order banning the entry of the two students as the VC was still in the chair and the Pro VC could only use powers delegated to him by the VC.

He said that even if such orders were passed nor was he informed neither was his department.

The Social Welfare Department head also claimed that he could not be judged by his political opponents and that the VC should have gone in for appointing an “objective” committee to look into the matter.

He said the issue would be brought to the notice of the new VC and claimed that attempts were being made to prejudice the VC against a particular group . The issuance of the show-cause notice was a retrograde step which would take the varsity back to the days of confrontation between the two major groups of teachers, he claimed.

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