Sunday, October 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Probe bodies zero in on Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The ongoing confrontation between the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, reached new heights as the former said today that the investigating agencies had almost zeroed-in on Mr Badal in corruption cases.

CM ready to double Badal’s security

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said he was prepared to double the security of Mr Badal, who as on today had Z plus security cover of 66 security personnel, including 25 NSG commandos besides two bullet proof cars etc. Similarly, his entire family, including son, son-in-law, nephew, brother had been provided with 51 security personnel and vehicles. Even now the IGP (Security) had been instructed to review the security cover of entire Badal family to ensure all necessary precautions. Capt Amarinder Singh said that as Mr Badal had levelled a serious charge of his murder plot, the matter would be taken up with the Union Home Minister to ask him to make available whatever evidence he may have to substantiate the charge.

“We have put all police agencies, including crime, vigilance and intelligence, to collect evidence against Mr Badal. We do not want to leave any lacuna in the investigation and any escape route for Mr Badal”, said Capt Amarinder Singh. “I and my Advocate-General, Mr Harbhagwan Singh, would satisfy ourselves about the investigation conducted by the police authorities concerned before moving ahead against Mr Badal”, said Capt Amarinder Singh.

When asked why so much delay has been made in collecting evidence against Mr Badal, the Chief Minister said he had evidence against the former Chief Minister even 10 months before the Assembly elections but now it was being collected at the official level by the government’s investigation agencies. “Why Mr Badal was in so hurry to go to jail ?”, asked Capt Amarinder Singh.” Wait for a while as the corruption probe is closing on him”, he said.

Talking to mediapersons immediately after laying the foundation stone of the “Law Bhavan”, Capt Amarinder Singh rubbished the murder conspiracy charge leveled against him yesterday by Mr Badal. Mr Badal had the knack and style to sensationalise matters when facing any crisis. “In fact, I want him (Mr Badal), who is under investigation in corruption charges, to be healthy to face the law of land once the cases come to the court”, said the Chief Minister.

“Whenever there has been a crisis even in the past, Mr Badal has always lost his nerve and, in fact, during those troubled years tried to strike deals with militant organisations to save himself”, said Capt Amarinder Singh, continuing his attack on Mr Badal, who had alleged yesterday that the Chief Minister and his longtime associate Mr Ravi Inder Singh, had hatched a conspiracy to kill him.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that “there was no need of holding a probe in Mr Badal’s relations with militants as it was an open secret “.

When asked that Mr Badal says that he had never leveled allegations pertaining to murder-plot earlier in his political career of past five decades, Capt Amarinder Singh said “earlier in past 50 years he (Mr Badal) has not been confronted the way I have done”. Not only Mr Badal but his other Cabinet colleagues “ who amassed property worth several crores during the five years of the SAD-BJP rule are also facing the law”, said the Chief Minister. “My government has nothing against ordinary Akali workers and leaders. We have taken on only those who held positions in the government and minted money”. The state government would not interfere in SGPC elections in any manner and all allegations levelled in this connection by Mr Badal were baseless”, he said.


A political showdown in offing?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Accusations and counter-accusations notwithstanding, Punjab, which has been struggling to recover from the after “effects of nearly two decades of turbulence, appears to be heading for another phase of “confrontation politics” for giving another severe blow to a tottering economy of the state.

Unfortunately, if the developments during the past few weeks are any indication, the ongoing “political confrontation” between the ruling Congress and the main opposition party — the Shiromani Akali Dal — may escalate further to halt any hope of revival of economy of the state.

The new Congress government in the state, after starting very well with its crusade against corruption, has virtually caught itself in its own web as the number of petitions and observations made thereon by the Punjab and Haryana High Court would indicate.

The observations made by the previous Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Justice Arun B. Saharya, in the PPSC recruitment scam is a sad reflection on the functioning of the Vigilance Bureau.

Unfortunately, the common impression that the Congress government has been using Vigilance Bureau as a tool to bash its “political opponents” is gaining strength. It is this aspect alone which is greatly responsible for “igniting confrontation in politics” in the state.

Eight legislators of the Shiromani Akali Dal — Dr Rattan Singh, Mr Vir Singh Lopoke, Mrs Satwant Kaur, Mr Malkiat Singh, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, Mr Bhag Singh Malha, Mr Balbir Singh Miani and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal — who moved a petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court demanded revamping of the Vigilance Department by posting officers of unimpeachable integrity, independence and competence for investigating cases against both opposition and ruling politicians and senior functionaries of the state in a fair, objective and unbiased manner.

The legislators wanted that the present Principal Secretary, Home and Vigilance, should also be immediately divested of his present charge as he was indicted by a Financial Commissioner in the “recruitment of naib tehsildars” case. The government, the petitioners alleged, was not taking any action even though the issue was raised in the state legislature by a CPI MLA, Mr Hardev Arshi.

Notices in the case have been issued not only to the Chief Minister as he holds the Home and Vigilance portfolio but also to his Principal Secretary, Mr Sanjit Kumar Sinha, four ministers — Mr Lal Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Dr Romesh Dutt and Dr Harbans Lal besides three other senior Congress leaders — Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, Mr Balmukand Sharma, Mr Lakhmir Singh Randhawa.

Intriguingly, the government has quietly withdrawn itself from its pre-poll commitment of setting up one-man inquiry commission to look into all acts of omission and commission against the previous SAD-BJP government in general and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in particular after Justice A.S. Garg quit following serious allegations were made against him.

Instead, the government preferred to use its Vigilance Bureau “for targeting the prominent leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal while turning a nelson’s eye to the grave and serious allegations against the leaders of the ruling party”, stated the Dal MLAs on oath in their petition.

They maintained while the Lok Pal had prima facie found four members of the previous Congress Government headed by Mr Beant Singh guilty of charges of corruption, the Vigilance Bureau, in spite of notices, had done nothing to register cases or initiate investigations. Instead, those belonging to the opposition parties are arrested on slightest suspicion.

Further, they challenged the jurisdiction of the Chief Minister in pronouncing “not guilty” a member of his Council of Ministers after his name appeared in an FIR in a murder case. Such statements or certificates given by the CM, they said, “amounted to gross interference in criminal investigations and gravely prejudice their outcome and as such cannot be justified.”

Not only that “various vigilance enquiries against some IAS and other officers have been reportedly ordered to be closed due to ulterior motives with a view to shielding them”.

Even otherwise looking beyond this petition, both the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal have been resorting to “confrontational course” for raising the same issue. Remunerative price for paddy, for example, was the issue both the Congress and SAD pursued but with different approaches. Even the Chief Minister had to sit in dharna in New Delhi to lodge a “formal protest against the apathy of the NDA government”. At one stage, the Congress had threatened to resort to “rail roko”. Akalis, being in the Opposition, had been holding dharnas, rallies and political conferences on various issues.

But the latest statement by Mr Parkash Singh Badal alleging conspiracy to liquidate him has added yet another serious dimension to this growing cult of confrontation in politics which has been targeting individuals more than policies and programmes of the parties they belong to.


Cong drive to cleanse party
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 5
On the pattern of on-going “anti corruption” drive in Punjab, the Congress Government has also launched a drive against the “corrupt” Congress persons to provide clean and corruption free administration to people in the state.

To a question, whether the Amarinder Government will launch “anti corruption” drive against the “corrupt” Congress persons, Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), stated that the Congress Government had already launched such a drive against the “corrupt” Congress persons, but it had not received any complaint against any Congress person, regarding corruption charges, so no case had been registered against any Congress person so far. If the government received such complaints, then Congress persons would also not be spared, he added.

Mr Hanspal was talking to mediapersons at the Canal Rest House here today before he addressed a meeting of Congress workers.

Mr Hanspal also stated that all MLAs of the party give details of their properties as had been promised by the Congress in its manifesto during Assembly elections. He further said no MLA or minister had submitted such details to him so far. If any one had submitted his or her details of property to the Punjab Chief Minister, he did not know about it, he added.

Regarding Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s arrest, Mr Hanspal indicated that the Punjab Government was not in a hurry to arrest Mr Badal because the government would have to keep Mr Badal in rest house, besides spending a lot of money on his meals. The government was collecting evidences and proof against Mr Badal with regard to corruption by him. After the collection of the same, Mr Badal would also be arrested, he added.

Mr Hanspal said both CPI MLAs, who had joined the Congress would not be given berths in the Council of Ministers by the Punjab Chief Minister.

The PPCC president also said he would implement “one-man, one-post” principle while constituting the state executive committee of the PPCC. No MP or minister would be given any office in the party. No person with criminal background would be included in the new executive of the PPCC. He also said after the formation of PPCC executive committee, district units would be constituted.

Mr Hanspal also announced that the Punjab Youth Congress would have its new president soon. He also claimed there were no dissidents in the party, even Mr Bir Devinder Singh, MLA from Kharar, had refuted the news stating that there were 23 MLAs with him. He said Mr Bir Devinder Singh was a loyal soldier of the party.

He also alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s Akali Dal had “conspired” to delay the announcement of the MSP for paddy by the Union Government. He also demanded that the MSP should be announced before the sowing of the crop. Mr Hanspal admitted that without help of 5,000 to 7,000 crore of rupees from the International Monetary Fund, development in the state could not be possible properly.


Akali ex-minister attends Nirankari meet function
Dal Khalsa sees red
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
Former Akali Minister, Chiranji Lal Garg, the only Hindu Akali minister in the previous SAD-BJP government of Punjab, attended the “Manav Ekta Sammelan” organised by Sant Nirankari Mandal on October 2 here and presided over head of the sect Baba Hardev Singh Ji Maharaj. The Dal Khalsa has alleged that SAD president, Parkash Singh Badal and his associates has been repeatedly hurting feelings of Sikhs.

Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, spokesman of the Dal Khalsa, talking to The Tribune said that Mr Garg could not be taken to task for attending the Nirankari function as he was a non-Sikh. The edict issued on June 10, 1978 by the Akal Takht to Sikhs for severing relations with Nirankaris applied only to the Sikhs.

He, however, pointed out that now it was up to Mr Badal to take action against Mr Garg. He added that Mr Badal, if failed to take action against Mr Garg, the Dal Khalsa would complaint against SAD leadership to the Akal Takht.

The SAD has given protection to those who have been hurting the Sikh sentiments time and again. The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal), which claimed itself as representative of the Sikhs, should take action against such people at the party level,” said Mr Kanwal Pal Singh.

Mr Garg also raised a major controversy in the SAD rank and file and created embarrassment for Mr Badal earlier, when he attended an eye camp organised by local unit of Sant Nirankari Mandal in 2001.

After that Mr Badal came under severe attack from various Sikh organisations. Even the activists of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) sought resignation of Mr Garg for attending the function organised by Nirankaris and announcing a grant of Rs 25,000 from his discretionary funds.

Information collected by The Tribune reveals that some of the political opponents of Mr Garg has started trying to cash in on the situation and was putting pressure on the SAD leadership to take action against him for bringing a bad name to the party.

On the other hand, any action against Mr Garg by the SAD leadership might cause a setback to the base of the SAD among the Hindu community, a major section of which have strong faith in Nirankaris and other sects against whom few Sikhs organisations had launched a attack after dubbing them anti-Sikh bodies.

Mr Garg could not be contacted. Mr Badal, who was in Delhi today, also could not be contacted. However, a senior party leader, on the condition of anonymity said that such an action of a former minister would give help to those who were always upon painting a bad picture of the party.


PF scam: PSEB told to file FIR
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, October 5
The Vigilance Department of the Punjab State Electricity Board has directed the authorities of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant to register an FIR against labour contractors responsible for the EPF scam.

Highly placed sources told this correspondent that the directive of the vigilance was based on the recommendations of the high-powered committee constituted to deliberate on the finding of the vigilance. The committee comprised the Secretary of the board, member, generation, and member of the finance.

Earlier, the PSEB vigilance had indicted officers of the thermal plant for dereliction in duty and labour contractors for the EPF scam. The vigilance inquiry had recommended filing of a charge sheet against 25 officers of the plant allegedly responsible for the scam.

Besides, the recommendations of the committee, the recent action has also been motivated by the directive of the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner in which the PSEB has been directed to reassess the misappropriation in EPF accounts of contract labourers during the 1997-2000. Earlier the reassessment was carried for 1990-1993. The PSEB authorities fear that if the FIR was not registered against the contract labourers responsible for the EPF scam, the liability of any additional misappropriation during the said period might lay with the board.

Now with the latest directive it seems that the plant authorities might also have to register an FIR against other major labour contractor of the plant, Mr Sodhi. This has created a piquant situation before the plant authorities who recovered the misappropriated fund from the said contractor with penalty and as a award allowed him to work as sole major labour contractor in the plant.

The General Manager of the plant, Mr Mohindroo, when contacted admitted that a directive had been received to register an FIR against the labour contractors.


PSEB engineer denies demanding bribe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Addressing a press conference here today , Mr R.P. Singla, Senior Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board, said that the Punjab Vigilance Bureau “ fixed “him in a corruption case in connivance with an owner of a private engineering firm that had been caught stealing power in Mohali by him.

He said Vigilance Officers concerned tried to plant money as bribe on him on September 18 last. Following the raid by certain Vigilance Officers, he was arrested, remained in police custody for two days and came out from the jail on bail. The Vigilance Officers had also taken away Rs 55,000 from his house but these had not been returned so far and no receipt had been given in this connection, alleged Mr Singla.

Mr Singla, who has sent a representation giving details of the alleged connivance of the Vigilance Officers concerned with an influential person, who was stealing power worth Rs 50,000 every month, said the entire PSEB Engineers Association had stood by him as he did a exemplary work in detecting power theft in the Mohali in the past four months. He said his representation had been sent to the Home Secretary by the Board authorities along with their comments.

Giving details, he said there was no question of his accepting bribe from the complainant (owner of engineering firm) as “ I have no powers to waive the penalty imposed on the complainant following detection of the power theft. Mr Singla said that he checked the power connection of the complainant on August 5 last and found him stealing energy by reversing the connections to the meter in connivance with certain local officials of the PSEB. Following checking, the meter was found recording 63 per cent less consumption. The report of checking was sent to the PSEB’s commercial office. However, the Commercial office delayed action. The action was taken against the connection holder only on September 13 when the matter was taken by the Director, Enforcement with the SE ( Operations) at Mohali. He was told to pay Rs 1.80 lakh as penalty.


Power supply to Kandi area ‘inadequate’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has made the lives of inhabitants of the Kandi area of Garhdiwala constituency miserable as it is supplying electricity in this belt for only two-three hours in a day. This was alleged by Mr Des Raj Dhugga, SAD MLA of the area, while talking to this correspondent here today. He said this had also badly affected water supply in the area and people had to go 5 to 6 km to get drinking water.

He pointed out that on account of non-payment of the electricity bill of Ram Tatwali Water Supply Tubewell by the Public Health Department, the PSEB had discontinued electric supply to the tubewell. The Public Health Department had handed over the control of the tubewell to the village panchayat. The panchayat had collected money from the beneficiaries of the tubewell and deposited the electricity bill about two-three months ago. But the electric supply had not been restored till date despite many requests to the authorities concerned.

Mr Dhugga said inhabitants of the Gujjar mohalla of Dehrian village and Barwadi mohalla of Bari Khud were still deprived of water supply. The inhabitants, especially women and children, had to travel 8 km to fetch water.

He said the condition of almost all roads in his constituency was deplorable. Though he had got sanctioned the repair of the Dosarka Dhoot Kalan-Tanda road, the repair work had yet to start.

Mr Dhugga also criticised the local Forest Department for not making any plantation in the area. He alleged that plantation was only on paper. Officers of the department had made huge money by showing bogus plantation in the area, he alleged.


PSIEC medallions popular
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The concept of gold and silver medallions to commemorate an event or to perpetuate memories of an occasion has won the Punjab Small Industries Corporation (PSIEC) a medal for itself.

The first such act was in 1999 to mark the birth of the Khalsa, when the PSIEC conceived the idea of issuing pure gold (24 carat) and silver (999 fineness) medallions to be preserved as heirloom. The concept received a tremendous response at home and abroad, when people bought these medallions to commemorate the Tercentenary celebrations of the founding of the Khalsa.

These medallions were released by the Prime Minister at Anandpur Sahib in April, 1999. Till now 19,000 gold and 20,000 silver medallions have been sold. An order for 5,000 gold medallions from Canada is pending. The PSIEC is trying for a tie-up with the Royal Canadian Mint to manufacture these in Canada itself to meet the demand.

The price of a gold medallion varies, depending upon the price of the gold. Gold medallions issued in 1999 cost Rs 5,400 each and silver medallions Rs 700 a piece.

More than turning out to be a profitable venture for the PSIEC, the concept itself is unique and had attracted the attention of the Jain community, which wanted the PSIEC to design similar medallions to commemorate 2,600 years of the birth of Lord Mahavira. Consequently, the medallions, approved by the Mahavira Janam Kalyanak Samiti, were released by the Prime Minister in April, 2002. Going by the response and success of the venture, the PSIEC decided to market these state-wise. The first launch was in Rajasthan, where Muni Sri Kshama Sagarji Maharaj released it in June, 2002. Already 1,500 gold and 1,200 silver medallions have been sold in Rajasthan, at Rs 6,000 and Rs 700 each, respectively.

PSIEC Chief General Manager, Mr S. Bawa, said the unique feature of the venture was that it was ‘’demand-based’’ and advance booking was done through banks only. Thereafter the minting is done. Besides the corporation’s own outlet, ‘’Phulkari’’, the medallions are available through the banks, which lend as much credibility to the corporation as to the ‘’purity’’ of the medallions.

Now, the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Mr Digvijay Singh, will release the Jain medallions at Bhopal on October 6, where the Punjab Minister for Industries and Commerce, Mr Avtar Henry, PSIEC Managing Director, Mr P S Aujla, and Mr Bawa will be present.

Mr Aujla told TNS that the medallions carried the picture of Lord Mahavira on one side and a quote,’’Ahimsa Parmo-Dharam’’, which symbolises Jainism, on the other. Likewise, the Tercentenary medallions carried on one side, ‘’300 years of the Birth of Khalsa’’ and the Sikh greeting, ‘’Waheguruji Ka Khalsa, Waheguruji Ki Fateh and Ek Onkar’’, on the obverse.

For these medallions, Mr Aujla said, both the gold and silver were imported from Switzerland and the Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation got these minted at one of the best mints in India.

A 24-carat gold medallion is available in temper proof packaging and weighs 10-gm with a circumference of 25 mm and a silver medallion weighs 50 gm with a diameter of 47 mm.

After the success of the Tercentenary medallions, the PSIEC issued similar medallions to mark 200 years of the Coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. These medallions, released by the Union Minister for Defence, Mr George Fernandes, in Amritsar in November, 2001, are the exact replica of the coins minted during the reign of the Maharaja. The PSIEC has sold 1.500 gold and 2,000 silver medallions.

The next on the list for release of Jain medallions are the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Gujarat, as per the demand of the Jain community. In Madhya Pradesh, booking through banks will be open between October 7 and 17.


Travel agents cough up 69 lakh
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Hoshiarpur, October 5
Even as the network of unscrupulous travel agents continues to spread in the Doaba region where hundreds of unsuspecting people are duped by these travel agents, the local police has set a record of sorts by making such travel agents return Rs 69 lakh to victims during the past six months by making investigation of such cases a time-bound affair.

Police records reveal that there is a rise in the number of victims of travel agents and during the past just six months as many as 161 travel agents were booked for duping people to the tune of Rs 1.27 crore on the pretext of sending them abroad. Most of the travel agents, simply for pocketed the hard-earned money of their clients while some sent them to wrong destinations like Turkey, Greece and Lebanon.

According to an estimate, over 150 unregistered travel agents were operating in the district, who do nothing but act as ‘subagents’ of some big sharks operating from Delhi. They pocket their hefty commissions after handing over the charge of their victims to their partners.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, said the sustained campaign against such travel agents and making investigations into such complaints a time-bound affair had started yielding results with travel agents coming forward to return the ill-gotten money. “We have made it mandatory that no Investigation Officer will take more than one month to complete the investigations before registration of a case on the basis of a complaint. And, unlike in the past, this has made a difference as people have started believing that at least the registration of a case, which acts as a deterrent, will not take months or years,” said Ms Deo. She said the Dastak programme launched by the district police to look into such cases had also made a positive change with more and more people coming forward to lodge complaints of economic offences.

According to the data available with the police, of the 161 cases registered against travel agents, in the case of 145 victims, the travel agents did not bother to do anything for their clients, while 16 victims were sent to the Middle-East countries instead of Canada, USA and Italy. Alternatively, they were left in the lurch in Greece, Lebanon or Turkey. “We have observed that registration of a case really works as a deterrent for such unscrupulous elements and they come forward to strike a compromise and return the money to their victims,” said the SSP.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that feeling the heat a number of travel agents have either shifted their bases to Jalandhar and the adjoining townships or have simply started handing over their clients to other travel agents of nearby cities after charging commission.


Tohra blames Badal for SGPC poll delay
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
Former SGPC Chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra today squarely blamed a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for deliberately getting the holding of the general elections to the SGPC delayed in connivance with the Union Government.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Tohra said Mr Badal interfered in the Sikh religious affairs in such a blatant manner during his five-year rule that he ruined all Sikh religious institutions.

“We want the elections should be held without further delay”. He also alleged that Mr Badal got appointed his relative as head of the Sikh Gurdwara Election Commission for getting the SGPC elections postponed again and again. “ Mr Badal got Justice Harbans Singh removed from the Commission to get his political ends served”, Mr Tohra alleged. He said that according to the latest order of the Commission, the SGPC elections would not be held before April, 2003.

He said that it was Mr Badal, who was working in tandem with the Union Government to stop the enactment of the All-India Gurdwara Act. The Centre was also interfering in the religious affairs of the Sikhs at the behest of Mr Badal. The Justice Tiwana Committee was set up by the SGPC on the direction of Mr Badal to delay the submission of the draft of the Gurdwara Act to the Centre.


Atinder for UN role in eco development
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
For Mr Atinderpal Singh, who once headed the dreaded Khalistan Liberation Organisation (KLO), it is now sustainable development of Punjab which tops his professional agenda.

Mr Atinderpal Singh, who was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1989 from Patiala has succeeded after almost a decade’s struggle to get the Sikhs the status of a sub national group in the United Nations.

It was in his newer capacity and the latest role as a representative of the community that he was invited to attend the World Summit on Sustainable Development at Johannesburg in South Africa where he claimed to have rubbed shoulders with world leaders from various continents and countries.

He claims that he has been successful in securing associate membership of the UNO Regional Government Groups of which India is unfortunately not a member. During his maiden address at the Johannesburg summit, he said the Sikhs had always honoured and respected UN charters and resolutions.

While raising issues about Punjab and its sustainable development, Mr Atinderpal Singh held that for the strict introduction of “bio-diversity and ecosystem management”, the UN must play a more effective and direct role, especially in the Third World or developing countries.

“There is an urgent need for non-governmental intervention for maintaining ecological and bio-agriculture balance besides encouraging bio-agro production in states like Punjab,” he said.

Mr Atinderpal Singh said that another important issue discussed at the Johannesburg summit was supply of safe drinking water. “In India the problem was of mismanagement,” he said, “maintaining that in a state like Punjab” available water was neither potable as per world standards nor fit for irrigation of crops.

The water problem has assumed serious dimensions in Punjab. There are three belts in the state — water logged, depleting ground water area and the kandi area.


NFL staff threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
The Central Government is yet to decide on disinvestment in various Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs). The Coordination Committee of Unions of employees of National Fertilisers Limited (NFL) today threatened direct action against NFL to resist disinvestment in NFL.

The decision was taken after a three-day meeting of office-bearers of unions of NFL units of Bathinda, Nagal, Panipat, Vijaipur, Central Marketing Office and Corporate Office concluded here today. Mr Kamal Nayan, Coordinator of different unions of NFL employees presided over the meeting.

Mr Nayan addressing mediapersons on the concluding day said that the direct action would, include strikes, dharnas gherao of Parliament, traffic jams. He added that if the government did not stop the disinvestment even after that suicide would be committed en masse.

Mr Nayan said that agitation by the union had been stopped for some weeks, as the government had slowed down on the process of disinvestment.

He said that a special task force of the NFL employees had been formed to motivate not only the employees but also the people for strengthening the agitation.

The office-bearers of the different unions of NFL employees claimed that the fertilizer manufacturing company was in profit. They claimed since inception the unit had never been in loss. They said that the government claim was false.

Mr Gurmail Singh, General Secretary of the Coordination Committee said that the government wanted to sell the NFL for a price much below the value of the unit. He said that this was being done under WTO and Western Powers pressure.

He said that the condition of the PSUs which were privatised recently was very bad. He added that the financial condition of employees of these companies had deteriorated.

Mr Satvir and Mr Jagsir Singh from Nagal unit, Mr Ram Ratan Naikward from Vizepur unit, and Mr Gulshan and Mr Laxman Rawat from Corporate office unit and Mr Vijay Chandela from Marketing Unit attended the meeting.

Mr Ramesh Bhardwaj, General Secretary of the Bathinda unit said that a rally was organised by them near the gate of the NFL unit here yesterday. He claimed that the employees wanted to launch a do or die agitation if the government went ahead with disinvestment.


Railways sanction 54 overbridges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
Punjab Public Works Minister Partap Singh Bajwa said today that 54 Railway overbridges had been sanctioned for Punjab by the Railway Ministry.

Speaking to newsmen after watching the semifinal match of the 27th All-India Gurdarshan Singh Memorial Football Tournament, he said never had, so many railway overbridges been sanctioned for Punjab in one go. He said repairing of all roads in the State in a phased manner had started.

Mr Bajwa also accused former Chief Minister and SAD President Parkash Singh Badal of trying to divert the attention of the people by saying that there was a conspiracy behind the withdrawal of National Security Guards (NSG) assigned to him. He said Mr Badal should name the agencies involved so that people could make a judgement.

The Minister also said that the State government did not have any say in the withdrawal of NSG cover to Mr Badal. This was prerogative of the Centre.

The Congress leader also announced the renaming of the Babelpur-Bhadson-Nabha road as Gurdarshan Singh Marg in honour of former Minister Mr Gurdarshan Singh whose native village was Babelpur. He announced that the government would bear the cost of constructing a gate at the Rotiwala pull near Nabha in honour of Mr Gurdarshan Singh as tribute to the late leader. Mr Gurdarshan Singh’s son and present legislator Randeep Singh briefed the Minister on the works needed in his constituency.


Fire brigade: vehicle repair costlier
Raj Sadosh

Sources in the Municipal Council here have indicated that the total expenses occurred on the maintenance of vehicles and accessories of the fire brigade during the past 15 years are more than their present book value. Even then the vehicles are known as “dhakka-start khataras”.

The fire brigade had been working satisfactorily in the early seventies. Later, the state government decided to gift new vehicles having tanks. Funds were arranged by the state Marketing Board on the pretext that the fire brigades were generally used in grain markets where the cotton crop can catch fire. The fire brigade was revamped on April 23, 1975.

On the other hand, there were more than 100 water hydrants of four-inch size in different markets but these vanished gradually with raising the level of streets and roads. Such hydrants had been useful for washing drains and public urinals besides providing water to tenders in emergencies.

Now the fire brigade has two vehicles — PCB 6093 and PCB 6094 — of the 1985 model. They look old and are worn out. Another jeep had been declared unfit but the council hardly makes any effort to dispose it of. The fire tenders being used were neither equipped with search-lights nor pressure horns. The staff comprises a fire officer, one sub officer and 13 firemen. Absenteeism and use of liquor during duty hours have been common complaints against some of the employees. The staff, however, deny such allegations.

Recently the fire control exercises taken up by the brigade on different occasions evoked sharp criticism due to utter failure causing heavy loss to traders and residents.

The staff blame encroachments for delay in executing the job. None of the markets in the town has proper traffic arrangements due to encroachments by shopkeepers.

Sadar Bazar always gave a dirty look as shopkeepers had crowded the congested road by putting up wooden structures. Sometimes it becomes difficult for customers to pass through. Eve-teasers move around the bazar in two-wheelers in the evening, but nobody checks them. Rehris are licensed to keep moving, but they remain at fixed places and shopkeepers allegedly charge them for using municipal land every month.

The Municipal Council had many a time been requested to provide funds for improving the equipment, copies of the letters were also sent to the district authorities, but the over-staffed council had not been in a position to pay salary to the employees for the past two months despite income from octroi. The council was thus not going to oblige the Chief Fire Officer. The Chief Minister had been requested during a “sangat darshan” last year to sanction at least Rs 2 lakh for renovation of the fire brigade, but he did not respond. The situation is so bad that people have to struggle while catching the canvas pipes during fire control operations because these are damaged and water leakage is common. Use of these vehicles to drain out rain water from parks and other low-lying areas is given as a reason for its bad state owing to overuse.


MC to generate power from solid waste
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
The Patiala Municipal Corporation proposes to generate electricity from solid waste which will help it run streetlight in the city for which it has roped in a US firm.

Disclosing this here today while addressing a press conference after returning from a three-nation tour sponsored by HUDCO, city Mayor Vishnu Sharma said the aim behind the project was two fold — to create a smooth system to collect solid waste and store it in covered dumps and to ensure profit from the exercise by generating power from it.

Mr Sharma said he had held preliminary talks with the US company and its representatives would visit the city next week to hold detailed discussions to finalise the project. He said the company only wanted seven acres of land from the Corporation and was ready to take on all other costs of the project. He said the Corporation on the other hand would be compensated by being given 25 per cent of the power produced by the project which it will use to run its streetlights.

The Mayor said the company had also given an undertaking that it would help the Corporation in streamlining its sold waste collection system. He said at present the Corporation did not have the requisite trolleys and other equipment to collect garbage on the required scale. He said the company had assured that it would provide the needed equipment to the Corporation.

Giving details of the other schemes being launched in the city, the Mayor said the Corporation was set to receive the first instalment of Rs 16 crore of the Rs 126 crore sanctioned for the creation of more sewerage facilities in the city. He said with the receipt of this money, the Corporation would start the process of laying sewerage lines in the outer colonies of the city. He said a proposal had also been made to cover the “ganda nullah” which was running through the city.

Mr Sharma also disclosed that the Corporation had decided to give the contract of running of the street lights from the Rajpura Octroi post to the Overbridge and those on the Mall Road to private parties. He said the Corporation would invite tenders for the same on October 9. He said the Corporation would pay a fixed amount to the private parties per streetlight following which the company would be held responsible for its maintenance. He said under the proposal the companies would be penalised at double the lease cost per light in case any light remained out of operation for more than 24 hours.

The Mayor disclosed that he also proposed to launch an awareness drive among the city residents on the need to maintain cleanliness as well as bring in responsibility amongst the Corporation staff on every job. He said these two factors were the hallmark of the successful manner in which civic facilities were being run in China, Hong Kong and Thailand as seen by him during his 11-day visit to these countries.


Need to rewrite Sikh history: Barnala
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 5
The Governor of Uttaranchal, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, in his presidential remarks at the Chief Khalsa Dewan said the Sikh history had not been presented in its right perspective and need to be rewritten with proper care without distortion of facts.

Mr Barnala felt that the euphoria of the tricentenary celebrations of the Khalsa had failed to enthuse Sikh masses. He said that Amritdhari tradition which started afresh during the celebrations had not moved ahead. The mushrooming of the dera culture, was harming the Sikh cause. The member of the Rajya Sabha and eminent journalist, Mr Kuldip Nayyar, questioned the rationale behind the creation of Punjab suba by the Akali party. Mr Nayyar said he had always opposed the formation of the Punjabi suba.

Mr Nayyar said this small state of Punjab today was both economically and politically unviable.

He favoured greater autonomy for the states in India and said the Central Government should adopt more federal structure through devolutions of powers. He said the states should manage its recourses and provide better opportunity to its people. Mr Nayyar earlier addressed a seminar on Punjabi journalism. He said he was sorry at the poor growth of Punjabi newspapers.

Earlier, Mr Nayyar honoured eminent Punjabi Journalists, including Mr Harbeer Singh Bhanwar, Mr Jagjit Singh Dardi, Mr Karamjit Singh and Mr Bhullar.


Sikh bodies want ban on Ashutosh
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 5
The row between the Noormahalia sect and the Joint Action Committee (JAC), of certain Sikh religious and political organisations, intensified today, when the latter threatened to stop the former holding any function in the state.

The JAC at a meeting here, resolved not to allow the Noormahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan to hold its weekly gathering at its Jalandhar centre tomorrow and decided to hold protest march on the same day against the failure of the state government to ban activities of the sect.

Addressing a press conference here, the spokesman for the JAC, Mr Jagjit Singh Gaba, said the 51-member JAC comprising representatives of the SAD, SHSAD, Youth Akali Dal, Nihang. Singh Jatha, Sewa Societies, Istri Satsang and the Naujawan Singh Sabha, had resolved to oppose any move by the Congress government to allow Noormahalias to continue with their alleged anti-Sikh programmes.

Mr Gaba they were ready to even confront the police on Sunday on the issue. “We have decided to start protest march from Gurdwara Central Town at 7.30 a.m. and pass main parts of the city before reaching the local centre of the Noormahalia sect at the Lodowali road to stop their weekly religious function, he added.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K. Siva Prasad, said nobody would be allowed to violate Section 144 of the Cr PC, which was imposed in the city last month, by holding rallies and march. The district police had swung into action and made elaborate security arrangements around the Municipal Park, the venue for the religious function to avoid any untoward incident.


Narcotics smuggler gives up in court
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 5
Raj Modar, a resident of Rampura Phul in the district, who had earned notoriety in the smuggling of narcotics internationally, surrendered in court here last evening.

Raj Modar, who had been into active politics and was a leading transporter in the region, had entered the world of smuggling to cash in on his relations with influential people in Rajasthan, Delhi, Haryana and Punjab.

Booked under the NDPS Act on December 6, 2000, along with two others when a police party seized more than 75 kg of opium from a special cavity in a truck, had been evading arrest since then. Ruling politicians had reportedly made efforts to hush up the matter.

The police had been under pressure and the area had been converted into a smugglers’ den as smuggling of opium, open sale of poppy husk and illicit distillation of liquor had become common.

Official sources said in the investigation of this case, conducted by a senior police official, Raj Modar had been given a clean chit and two others had been held responsible. The accused were driver Karamjit Singh and cleaner Charanjit Singh.

Police sources said the case had been investigated again and Raj Modar had been found to be the main accused. As Raj Modar continued to evade arrest, he had been declared a proclaimed offender. The police had started forfeiture of his property.

The police had moved an application in court for production warrant of the accused. Further details would be available after the accused was questioned.


Hearing on Langah’s bail on Oct 9
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 5
A court here today adjourned hearing on the bail application of Sucha Singh Langah, former Punjab PWD Minister and senior Akali leader, to October 9 in a case registered against him at SAS Nagar on May 16 under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Hearing on the bail application of Langah was adjourned as the police record of the case was not produced in the court today. So the additional public prosecutor requested the court for an adjournment which the court allowed.

Langah has been in custody since July 25.

In his application, Langah pleaded that the Vigilance had registered a false case against him.

As copies of the documents attached with the challan were not legible, the court also ordered the prosecution to supply the legible copies of the documents to the accused on October 9.


Hearing of plea on Jora Singh on Oct 8
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 5
A court here today fixed October 8 next date of hearing on an application moved by the Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, for declaring Mr Jora Singh, PCS, former Secretary of the Punjab, Subordinate Services Selection Board, a proclaimed offender.

The Bureau has already registered an FIR against the former Secretary, the former Chairman and former members of the PSSSB under the Prevention of Corruption Act and non-bailable warrants have been issued against Jora Singh while he is in the USA.

The Bureau, in its application today, said that a proclamation was issued by this court on September 19, 2002, against Jora Singh.

The Bureau submitted that he was absconding and he should be declared a proclaimed offender.


Hans Raj Hans backs farmers’ demands
Tribune News Service

Rakhra (Patiala), October 5
“Late I am to receive the award from the Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob, but not too late to interact with the farmers”. This is how Mr Hans Raj Hans consoled himself on Friday when he arrived here to receive the prestigious Amrik Singh Cheema Award 2000-01 at the Rakhra Kisan Mela. He got caught in a traffic jam on the G.T. Road near Khanna. The award was to be given to Mr Hans by Mr Jacob who had to go back hurriedly as he was confronted with tough questions put by farmers disgusted with the MSP for paddy and power supply position.

Moved by the resounding welcome by the Punjab Young Farmers Association and participating farmers for him, Hans declared his unstinted support to the farmers’ cause after receiving the award from PYFA President Jagdeep Singh Cheema. He offered to lead the farmers’ rallies and agitations and come to the festivals organised by the PYFA.

Hans started singing again at the Rakhra show where he entertained the audience with his famous Sufi songs and lyrics. Hans felt he was now free to sing since the dispute with T-series Music Company was resolved. He acknowledged the debt of the Punjabis who stood behind him to fight with the commercial company. He said he would adhere to the traditional and Suffiana music. T-series, he said, would soon release his Shiv Kumar Batalavi songs album before the close of the month. He felt relieved since the issue which disturbed him was no longer there.

Hans showed his anger at the Mumbai based music companies whose sole consideration for money. He said he would work for promoting Punjabi talent and would not allow it to be exploited at the hands of the professional companies.

His offer to attend all the agitations of the farmers and the PYFA Kisan Melas was widely acclaimed.

Hans also endorsed a resolution passed by the association unanimously for a Rs 100 increase in the support price of paddy. He said that of all awards he received the Amrik Singh Cheema Award was most sacred to him as it belonged to a community which was the heart and head of the Punjab.

Hans assured his support to Mr Surjit Singh Rakhra, MLA, whose brother Mr Darshan Singh Dhaliwal is a millionaire in the USA for building a five-star hospital at Rakhra by the Dhaliwal family.


World Heritage gild likely for Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 5
The Golden Temple in Amritsar will be made a world heritage centre and the Punjab government is striving in this direction.

Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister of State for Tourism and Industry, said this at the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology yesterday.

Mr Sekhri said he had taken the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee into confidence.

He said the process of applying for the same and completing of formalities was on and Rs 30 lakh had been spent for submitting the project report and other formalities.

Mr Sekhri added that Amritsar, Patiala and Anandpur Sahib had been included in the list of 26 tourist destination spots by the Union Government.


Badungar writes to PM on PGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 5
The SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, today faxed a formal letter to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, urging him to take up issue of disbanding the Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PGPC), embroiled in controversy over embezzlement of gurdwara funds, and to hand over the control of Sikh shrines in Pakistan to the SGPC.

Mr Badungar, in his letter, said the control of Sikh shrines in Pakistan should be immediately handed over to the SGPC.

He said the reports of embezzlement and misuse of gurdwara funds by the PGPC was in violation of the pact between India and Pakistan.


Special Vidhan Sabha session
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The Punjab Council of Ministers at a meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, has decided to convene a special session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha on paddy on October 11, at 10 a.m.

The Council of Ministers adopted two resolutions unanimously. Firstly, it strongly condemned the false and baseless allegation levelled by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, against Capt Amarinder Singh for physically eliminating him. Secondly, the council appreciated the CM for staging a protest dharna in front of Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi.


Musharraf’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), October 5
More than 200 activists of the All-India Christian-Dalit Front today burnt the effigy of the Pakistan President, General Pervez Musharraf, at the Wagah check-post in protest against the killing of Christians in Pakistan recently.

The workers, holding banners, raised slogans against General Musharraf.

The front threatened to hold a dharna in front of the UN office in New Delhi.


BSF martyr cremated
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 5
Mortal remains of Sub-Inspector of the BSF Bhajan Singh, who laid down his life while fighting terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir were consigned to flames today with full state honours.

People from all sections of the society, BSF officers and others were at the cremation. Among others, Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA Pathankot, Mr Puneet Goel, SDM, BSF Commandant, R.P. Sanwal, Mr Jatindar Dev Sharma President of BJP Unit, Mr Satish Mahajan, President local Municipal Council and others paid tributes to the martyr. Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA said that Lamini Chowk where the martyr lived would be named after him.

Wine contractors threaten stir
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
Wine contractors owing allegiance to the Patiala Syndicate today threatened to close down all wine shops in the state in case the police did not arrest former wine contractor Balwinder Singh Safdipur, who they accused of leading a murderous attack on their fellow contractor, within three days.


Punjab to go for contract farming
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 5
Dr R.K. Rampal, Agriculture Director, told newspersons here today that 10 lakh hectares under cultivation of rotational crops like wheat and paddy would be used for diversification in phases within five years. He said contract farming was being introduced in the state to ensure regular marketing of the produce of the farmers.

Dr Rampal said the Agriculture Department was holding seminars to identify farmers for contract farming. Eight camps were being held today in this regard in Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Kapurthala, Ludhiana and Amritsar districts. Nine such seminars would be held tomorrow in the remaining nine districts of the state.

Dr Rampal said the government had chosen Adventa Private Ltd and Pro-Agro Industries for the distribution of certified seeds among the farmers. The Punjab-Agro Industries Corporation and the Agriculture Department would acts as co-ordinators.

Under contract farming, the produce of the farmers would be purchased by the private firms at price which was likely to be more than the minimum support price.

Dr Rampal said initially the government had chosen to take up three crops for contract farming. These were barley, winter maize and gobi sarson. While barley would be cultivated in Sangrur and Patiala districts only, winter maize and gobi sarson would be cultivated throughout the state.

Dr Ram said the target fixed for the cultivation of gobi sarson had been fixed at 20,000 acres, for winter maize at 7,000 acres and for barley at 1000 acres.

Dr Rampal said the area under barley, grams and oilseeds was being increased this year.

The department has set a target of distributing 2.55 lakh quintals of certified seeds of high-yielding varieties of wheat during the current year.

Dr Rampal said the department had constituted flying squads at the state, district and block levels for quality control.


Confusion over paddy bonus to farmers
Iqbal Singh

Khanna, October 5
Confusion prevails among officials of the procurement agencies on the issue of bonus of Rs 20 per quintal for paddy declared by the Centre. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh inaugurated the procurement process at Khanna on October 1.

About 3 lakh quintals of paddy has been procured by government agencies, but no payment has been released. According to rule payment has to be made within 24 hours.

Officials of the Food and Supply Department and the Food Corporation of India said on the condition of anonymity that they had not received any directions from the government about bonus. They said they were yet to receive clear instructions about bonus payment for the paddy sold to private traders or millers.

Five lakh quintals of paddy had been purchased in Khanna mandi till yesterday. Out of this 2,14,000 quintals had been procured by private traders and millers and the remaining 3 lakh quintals by government agencies. The FCI had procured, 37,000 quintals, Markfed 53,000, Punsup 55,700, Punjab Agro 53,500, Warehouse 50,000 and Food Supply 58,000 quintals of paddy.

A commission agent of Khanna, Mr Major Singh Pallah, alleged that 3 lakh quintals of paddy was lying in the Khanna mandi. If the lifting was not stepped up there would be no space left in the mandi to store paddy.


Punjab bandh by farmers on October 29
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 5
In its bid to further intensify the stir against the state and the Central governments over the failure to hike the MSP of paddy to Rs 760 per quintal, seven farmers’ unions have given a call for Punjab bandh on October 29.

In a press statement issued here yesterday, the General Secretary of the Zamhoori Kisan Union, Mr Kulwant Singh Sandhu, said during an emergency meeting of seven farmer unions, including the Punjab Kisan Sabha, Kirti Kisan Union, Bhatri Kisan Union (Ekta), BKU (Ekta), Zamhoori Kisan Union, All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha and Agriculture and Kisan Vikas Front at Patiala, it was unanimously decided to further wage a battle against the indifferent attitude of the state as well as the Central Government towards the demands of the farming community.

The meeting passed a resolution demanding hike in MSP to Rs 760 per quintal and a bonus of Rs 100 per quintal for paddy crop. It was also decided to observe protest week from October 7 to 14 at all district headquarters in the state. Members of the seven farmers’ unions would gherao the offices of the Deputy Commissioner on October 14.

The meeting alleged that the state government had failed to persuade the BJP-led Central Government to accept the demands of the state farmers, who had to spend Rs 2,000 extra per hectare to supplement the week monsoon for diesel-fed irrigation.


12 PCS officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 5
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of one IAS and 12 PCS officers.

Mr V.K. Meena has been posted as ADC (General), Gurdaspur. Mr Sukhmandar Singh has been posted as SDM, Jalalabad while Mr Deepak Raj Garg has been transferred to Faridkot as A.C. (Grievances). Mrs Indu Malhotra has been posted as SDM, Malerkotla and Mrs Ritu Aggarwal posted as Administrator-cum-Additional Controller, Patiala. Mr Sanjay Popli, PCS, has been transferred to Ferozepore as A.C. (Grievances) while Mr Pardeep Kumar has been posted as SDM, Gidderbaha.

Mr Dharminder Pal has been posted as A.C. Grievances, Amritsar, while Mr J.C. Sabharwal has been transferred to Muktsar as A.C. (Grievances, General). Mr Surinder Kumar has been posted as SDM (Patti) while Mr Ravinder Kumar has been posted as SDM, Mansa. Mr Navjotpal Singh Randhawa has been posted as A.C. (General and Grievances) Gurdaspur. Mr Surinder Kumar Sharma has been transferred to Moga as A.C. (Grievances and General) while Mrs Kanwal Preet Brar has been posted as ADC (General) Bathinda.


Robbers attack 3 houses, loot jewellery, cash
Tribune News Service

Lambra (Jalandhar), October 5
Armed attacks by masked robbers at three houses at Tower Enclave on the city’s outskirts in the wee hours today left seven persons injured, four of them seriously.

The robbers, who were armed with iron rods, created a scare among residents of scores of colonies on the city’s outskirts. They decamped with cash and jewellery worth lakhs of rupees and a licenced gun of a resident. The gun and 25 cartridges were, however, recovered by the police later.

According to eyewitnesses, the robbers came to the tented accommodation of Rajinder, a quack, around 12.30 am and threatened him, his wife and his brother-in-law to keep silent failing which they would be shot. The family was watching a film when the robbers struck. “After coming to my tent, they took my licenced gun, 25 cartridges and Rs 15000 and snatched the earrings of my wife. Before leaving, they also took away about 2 kg of silver jewellery” said Rajinder, who was attacked by the robbers and had to be admitted to a private hospital. Later the robbers entered the house of Mr Ram Phere, an employee of APS School and injured his wife Preeti before fleeing with some jewellery and Rs 2000.

The robbers, numbering about six to eight, then barged into the house of Mr Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Phase III of Tower Enclave, injured him and his wife and fled with Rs 15,000 and some expensive home appliances. Kitu, daughter of Mr Kumar said the robbers had asked the children in the home to cover their faces with a sheet, otherwise they would be killed. She said the robbers had covered their faces with black ‘patkas’.

The robbers fled under the cover of darkness after leaving the gun near the Gakhlan bridge from where it was recovered by the police.


2 killed, 10 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 5
Two passengers were killed and 10 injured in a head-on collision between a private bus and a truck at Dyalpur village, near Kartarpur, on G.T. Road yesterday.

According to eyewitnesses, the driver of the truck, was coming to Jalandhar from Amritsar, lost control over the vehicle as the front tyre burst. The truck rammed into the Amritsar-bound private bus resulting in the mishap.

The mishap led to disruption of traffic on the busy Jalandhar-Amritsar road for about one hour. Senior police and civil officials reached the spot and visited Kartarpur Civil Hospital to see the injured.

While Dalbir Singh (35), a PSEB employee and resident of Saleempur village in Gurdaspur, and Thakur Varinder Singh of Purnia district in Bihar died on the spot, 10 passengers were admitted to Kartarpur and Jalandhar civil hospitals for treatment. The injured were identified as Jarnail Kaur, Manpreet Singh, Kartar Singh, Jarnail Singh, Salinder Kaur, Kartar Kaur, Balwinder Singh, Happy, Geeta and Ate Khan. The district police has registered a case.


Man, wife murder youth
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
Gurmeet Singh, a youth of Ablu village of this district was murdered late last night by a resident of same village, Chhinder Singh and his wife Paramjit Kaur.

Police sources said that Gurmeet Singh was murdered by Chhinder Singh as he was suspecting that deceased was having illicit relations with his wife.

Sources added that the police was informed of the murder by the sarpanch of village. The accused Chhinder Singh disclosed to the sarpanch that he had committed the crime.

The accused murdered the youth in their house. The FIR was registered on the complaint lodged by Karnail Singh, the father of deceased. No arrest had been made.

In another case, Nachhattar Singh of Moholla village was found dead in fields after having inhaled pesticide while spraying the crop. His body was handed over to his parents after a postmortem examination today. A case in this connection under Section 174 of Cr PC had been registered at Sangat police station.


Cop held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 5
A policeman, Balbir Singh, who was earlier the head munshi of the local City police station was arrested yesterday for dereliction of duty.

The arrest of the cop was made under Sections 420, 409 and 120-B of the IPC for cheating, criminal breach of trust by a public servant and criminal conspiracy.

It was learnt today that on a complaint of Ram Pal of Guru Nanakpura, a case was registered against Yashpal, son of retired DSP Ram Saroop, and others under Section 447, 452, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC in October, 2000. Yashpal and the others had urged the SSP to probe the matter.

The then DSP (D), Mr Chaman Lal, after conducting on inquiry, found that case was false. On June 1, 2001, the SSP ordered the DSP, Phagwara, to cancel the case and fix responsibility.

Mr R.N. Dhoka, SSP, Kapurthala, said Balbir Singh was arrested for dereliction of duty and for failure to present documents in court regarding the case. A case was also registered against other erring police personnel in this regard, he added.


Remand for 12 in flesh trade case
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 5
Mr Bhajan Ram, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, today remanded 12 persons allegedly involved in flesh trade in judicial custody till October 19.

According to the district police chief, Mr Varinder Kumar, the persons have been booked under Sections 3, 4 and 5 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.


5-year-old raped
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, October 5
A five-year-old was allegedly raped by an unidentified person near Naudhrani road here yesterday. According to the police, the girl, daughter of a Nepali labour, was standing outside her house when an unidentified person picked her up and took her away and raped here. The girl was admitted to the local civil hospital.


‘Laddoos’ draw kids to school
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 5
Coming regularly to school has started to mean much for thousands of students in 16 blocks of the state, with the start of the new mid-day meal scheme from the beginning of this month, under which they are being served with ‘pinni’ and ‘motichoor laddoos’, ‘kadah’ and ‘pulao’.

Earlier, the same students were being given three kg of wheat under the mid-day meal scheme. This, however, could not be implemented properly as teachers were made responsible for distributing the wheat, which was invariably of poor quality and was never an attraction for students.

The scheme, started in 55 schools of Samana - 2 block in the district as part of the pilot project being run across the state, has met with success, with students showing an interest in the cooked food and sweets being served to them. This has also given a boost to attendance figures in some schools, particularly in backward areas.

Rural Development Education Committees have been formed by involving panchayat representatives and villagers to ensure that the quality of the food served is up to the mark. The school staff will supervise the distribution of the food, which will be cooked under the supervision of the committee.

Meanwhile, students as well as educationists are happy at the move. Many schoolchildren have started looking forward to the mid-day meal. Vegetable ‘pulao’ has taken the children by storm. Children have been attracted to this dish, which is new for them.

Educationists feel the money should be used for infrastructure development of the schools instead. Former District Education Officer (Primary) M.S. Bajaj said the wheat distribution scheme should be done away with. He said the scheme could not be implemented properly, with teachers being made responsible for its distribution, though this was the responsibility of the district administration.


Lakhs collected for old student’s treatment
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 5
Students of Guru Nanak Dev University here in a gesture of goodwill have collected lakhs of rupees for the treatment of an old student of the varsity who has been suffering from blood cancer.

With consistent support by the Joint Action Committee (JAC) of the university, Balbir Singh, an old student of MA (Political Science) and serving as school lecturer would be declared cured by the doctors by the next February. Unable to pay hefty bills of Rs 1.3 lakhs per month. Balbir Singh had been trying hard to get his medical bills reimbursed but in vain. Harjit Singh Rajpur, president of the JAC said that the students and employees came for this noble cause. A cheque of Rs 1.3 lakh collected by the JAC was presented to Balbir Singh by Mr Surinder Singla, a Congress MLA. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said that a cultural show was being arranged by the university with the help of the JAC and the entire collection there form would be presented to Balbir Singh.


Technical college affiliated with PTU
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 5
The Director of local Maharaja Ranjit Singh Khalsa College, on Thursday said their college was affiliated with Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, and not with Punjabi University Patiala.

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