Sunday, October 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal under pressure to change SGPC chief
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Shiromani Akali Dal President Parkash Singh Badal is under pressure to change Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar as Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee chief in the forthcoming election for the post of SGPC chief, scheduled to be held before November 30.

The “non-aligned” group of the SGPC, comprising members loyal to the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and the SAD will force Mr Badal to seek trust of his party members before announcing the candidate for the post of SGPC chief. Even during last election for the SGPC president Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, chairman SAD Disciplinary Action Committee had torn the ballot instead of casting it in favour of Mr Badungar on alleging that he (Mr Badungar) had links with Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, an excommunicated Sikh. Mr Talwandi who was removed as SGPC chief and many other members had opposed the decision of Mr Badal to appoint his officer on special duty (OSD to Chief Minister) as SGPC chief. Mr Badungar is not an elected member of the SGPC but a co-opted one.

Moreover, the SAD (Badal) is aware that the ‘Bhaniara’ issue could be revived if Mr Badungar was re-nominated president of the SGPC. Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, senior SHSAD leader has stated openly that his party would make all-out efforts to ensure that Mr Badungar was elected SGPC chief again. Welcoming the formation a “non-aligned” group, Mr Bhaur said the step aimed at electing SGPC office-bearers in a democratic way. He said ‘imposing’ of presidents by the SAD chief could not be tolerated.

Performance of Mr Badungar as SGPC chief has been said to be average. Tall claims notwithstanding, Mr Badungar failed to resolve issues like tussle between Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht and Giani Puran Singh, head granthi, Golden Temple. Mr Badungar ignored many directives of Jathedar Akal Takht during his 11-month presidentship. He failed to implement the SGPC decision to raise memorial in memory of Operation Bluestar. Though Mr Badungar claimed that sub-committees had been formed to probe complaints against Prof Manjit Singh Jathedar, Keshgarh Sahib, and Giani Kewal Singh, a former Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib would complete the inquiries yet no action was taken during his stint as SGPC chief.

Though Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC chief, had announced that she would support any candidate nominated by Mr Badal yet she is considered as serious contender for the post. Similarly, supporters of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, a former SGPC chief and Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, a member of the “non-aligned” group of SGPC members had been trying hard to see them as SGPC chief.


7 SGPC members may meet Talwandi today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Seven “non-aligned” SGPC members, led by Mr Mal Singh Ghuman may call on senior Akali leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi after holding its second meeting in Alamgir gurdwara (Ludhiana) tomorrow. Apart from seeking his support, they may urge Mr Talwandi for becoming “consensus” candidate for the post of SGPC chief.

According to reliable sources, the non-aligned group has clarified that nobody from the seven of them would become candidate for any post of SGPC and including that of an office-bearer. The group has pledged to work for projecting a consensus Panthic candidate.

The seven-member committee would also meet Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra separately for the sake of Panth. The committee members later would perform ‘Ardas’ at Akal Takht for the success of their mission.


Badungar lashes out at Tohra, CM
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 19
If Mr Tohra wants to become the SGPC chief again, he should approach to Mr Badal, SAD president, instead of seeking help from Capt Amarinder Singh. The Congress has always opposed the Sikhs. This was stated by Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, president, SGPC, while addressing a press conference here today. He had come to participate in the first Khalsa sports function being organised by the SGPC at the local MG College.

He said Mr Tohra had raised an unnecessary hue and cry over the SGPC executive meeting to be held at Kurukshetra. He clarified that earlier too the executive meetings had been held outside Punjab during the tenure of Mr Tohra. He said the general house meeting would be called as per the clauses of the All-India Gurudwara Act, 1925, but it was unfortunate that Mr Tohra had floated speculations in the media regarding the meeting.

Reacting to the threat of Mr Tohra regarding the call for a separate general house meeting he said the Secretary of the SGPC issues a 20-day notice to call the meeting with the consent of the SGPC president and none else could call the meeting. He said members could submit a no-confidence motion to the president and if he did not call the meeting within 15 days only then they could call the meeting on their own. He said members were being pressurised to change their loyalty and to join the SHSAD. He said the vigilance department had raided the houses of 12 SGPC members and two members have been allegedly booked under false cases. He said internal vigilance had no jurisdiction to raid the houses of SGPC member as they were not drawing any benefit from the state exchequer.

He criticised the claims of the state government that SGPC members were demanding personnel security as none of the member had demanded any security.

Answering a query regarding the formation of a 21-member committee by certain SGPC members and their meeting at Anandpur Sahib, he expressed ignorance and said only after contacting them he would be able to say something.


Bhaur flays Dhindsa on poll observers
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, October 19
Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur has opposed the Union Minister and Akali leader Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa’s announcement of sending central observers for the elections of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and described it as a direct interference of the government in religious matters.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Bhaur criticised the suggestions to hold SGPC elections somewhere else outside Amritsar and described it as pure frustration of Mr Badal and his party and said it seemed that Mr Badal was admitting his defeat before the elections.

He said the SGPC’s affairs should be discussed strictly in Amritsar, especially in the SGPC complex. He said the proposed meeting of the executive of the SGPC on October 21 at Kurukshetra was against traditions of the SGPC. He said elections of the SGPC should be held at Amritsar.

KURUKSHETRA: The president of the Haryana State Sikh Forum (HSSF), Mr Jagjit Singh Virk, in a press note here on Saturday condemned the SAD for making request to the Central Government and getting poll observers appointed for the SGPC elections to be held before November 30.

Mr Virk alleged that apprehensions of the HSSF stood established when it was being pointed out by the HSSF that the All-India Gurdwara Draft Bill, 1999 needed redrafting as provisions were such in the present draft that there would be direct interference of the state and Central governments in Sikh religious affairs and even the SGPC would not be able to get the wanted amendments brought to the statute, despite all efforts as it would need approval of all Chief Ministers of the country.


Badal appears in court
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 19
The former Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today appeared in a local court in a defamation case filed by him against the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Badal had filed a case accusing Capt Amarinder Singh of spreading and publishing false reports about his assets and properties.

Mr Badal appeared in the court of UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal, accompanied by the former president of the Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Bibi Jagir Kaur, and local Akali leaders. The security personnel of Mr Badal waited for him outside the court room on third floor while he attended the proceeding. The CJM, adjourned the case till November 16.

Mr Badal had claimed in the case that Capt Amarinder Singh had been spreading and publishing false information about his assets and properties for the past one year and had been persisting with the same after assuming the CM’s office.

Giving details about the allegations levelled against Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal had stated that immediately after assuming his office, Capt Amarinder Singh had launched a vicious campaign to defame and intimidate SAD workers and leaders. Mr Badal had further alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had defamed him through letters and advertisements issued in the media prior to his taking over the office.

Mr Badal had also alleged that even during the course of Assembly election campaign, Capt Amarinder Singh as president of the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) with the connivance of the All India Congress Committee (AICC), got a number of misleading and defamatory posters and advertisements published in various newspapers.

Mr Badal alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had been indiscriminately going about proclaiming that Akalis were corrupt.


SAD meeting on agitation today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
Though the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the SAD, that continued till late this evening, will be held again early tomorrow to give final touches to the agitation to be launched against the imposition of power tariff on the farming sector and state repression of SAD-BJP leaders, but the SAD has decided to give a “befitting reply to the state government”.

Speaking at the meeting, various members of the PAC told Mr Badal that the agitation should be so aggressive that the Amarinder Singh government should be made to lose sleep over it. Starting with dharnas, rallies and demonstrations, the agitation could culminate into “jail bharo” programme.

Certain members suggested that Amarinder Singh government had reminded them of emergency. It may be mentioned that opposing Emergency, the SAD had launched a morcha against it, making things difficult for Indira Gandhi. In fact, she never forgave the Akalis for it and it ultimately turned into an animosity between the Congress and the SAD.

The PAC leaders have not yet decided whether or not the agitation should be in phases. The most important question before the SAD is how to make the agitation sustainable and also maintain the interest of the print media.

The other question that was discussed pertained to the involvement of other like-minded parties in the agitation. The SAD leadership would like to associate the BJP with the agitation. Already the senior leaders of the BJP from Punjab have discussed the political and financial situation in the state with the senior leaders of the party including Mr L.K. Advani. Sources said the recent statements made by the Punjab unit of the BJP opposing the arrest of Mr Badal had been issued following a clearance from the party high command.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal has called a meeting of the party MPs, MLAs and district presidents on October 21 at Alamgir Gurdwara near Ludhiana. At that meeting, Mr Badal will brief them about the decisions taken at the PAC’s meeting. He has criticised the arrest of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, a former minister, describing it as “ continuing reign of repression and lawless vendetta”.


SAD plans stir over govt decision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
A meeting of the Political Affairs Committee of the SAD headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal was held here today to chalk out a programme for launching an agitation against the reimposition of the power tariff on the agricultural sector.

A spokesman of the SAD said the meeting would continue tomorrow. He said a meeting of all MPs, MLAs and other office-bearers, including district presidents, would be held on October 21 at Alamgir gurdwara to discuss the same issue.


BJP plans protest
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
The Punjab unit of the BJP has decided to organise demonstrations at the district headquarters on October 22 to protest against the Punjab Cabinet decision to roll back free power to the farm sector.

Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president, and Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the BJP, in a statement issued here today described the decision to reimpose power tariff on the agricultural sector as a betrayal of the promise made to farmers by the Congress before elections.


Bhattal not consulted on 2 CPI MLAs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 19
Punjab Rural Development Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said yesterday that she was not consulted by party men before admitting two CPI MLAs Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal and Mr Nathu Ram into the Congress party.

Mrs Bhattal had come here to appear in a court in connection with a case of corruption registered against her. Talking to reporters pointed out that the Congress and the CPI had an alliance at the national level and any issue between the two parties could be resolved by leaderships of both parties.

When asked whether the alleged engineering of defection by the Congress leadership would affect the party’s prospects in the Municipal Council elections and parliamentary election whenever held, she said that she would not like to make any comment.

When reminded that she once had said some party men, opposed to her and a senior functionary of the Public Relations Department were behind the registration of a false case of corruption against her and asked what her stand was now, she again said that she would not like to make any comment. She added that she had not committed any crime and had full faith in judiciary. Ultimately, she would get justice, she added.

When asked if charges were framed against her, would she quit as a minister, after a pause she said that future could not be predicted.

When asked why the Congress government was not taking action against the ministers and party men indicted by the Lok Pal, she said, “Don’t you want to see me in the Cabinet?”

Mrs Bhattal pointed out that the facility of power and water free of cost to farmers for agriculture use could not be continued as the World Bank and other international agencies were not coming forward to advance loan to Punjab for development. Apart from it, the bad financial position of the state also forced the government to withdraw this facility despite the fact that the Congress had promised not to do so in its election manifesto.

Mrs Bhattal said that elections of the chairmen of Zila Parishads and block samitis would be held by the end of this month or in the first week of next month.

Meanwhile, information with The Tribune revealed that an officer of the state prosecuting agency was deputed by the Punjab Government to monitor court proceedings relating for the framing of charges against Mrs Bhattal.


Set up more fast-track courts, Parshad tells Punjab
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
Fast tack courts were proving to be great boon for over 2 lack undertrials awaiting bail, claimed the Union Minister of Law, Justice and Coal and Mines, Mr Ravi Shanker Parshad.

Addressing, a press conference here today, Mr Parshad said the setting up of fast track courts had been the most significant step in bringing about reforms in the judicial system which has been saddled with over 2 crore cases.

The minister said the government must be complimented for providing Rs 500 crore for fast track courts and added over 7009 such courts had been sanctioned during the past one year. Courts have settled more than 65,000 cases and burden had been taken from the sessions courts. Mr Parshad pointed out that out of 7000 courts more than 1150 had become fully functional throughout the country and added that the next two or three years all courts would become operational.

Expressing his dismay over the tardy progress in Punjab in establishing fast track courts, the minister said 29 such courts were sanctioned but only five had started functioning. He urged the state government to take immediate steps to set up more courts for dispensing quick justice system which would be beneficial to all.

Accepting the fact that there had been allegations of corruption in the subordinate judicial level he said he would still hold the judiciary in the highest esteem as it had proved to be the strong pillar of our democracy.

Mr Parshad said the NDA government was committed to have a national judicial commission as recommended by Justice Venkatachalliah Commission for the review of the Indian constitution. He added that the proposed commission would select judges for the Supreme Court and the high courts.

Answering questions about the Lok Adalats, he said at present a large number of cases relating to insurance, electricity bill, telephone, medical and other such cases had been pending which had been transferred to Lok Adalats, he said only 10 lakh cases pertaining to insurance companies had remained undecided.

The judicial and administrative reforms, too, have brought down pending cases in the apex court from 1.25 lakh to 23000 in last five years. He added that the government was committed to bring amendments in the criminal procedure code for cutting down the duration of trial in the various courts.

Commenting on the politician-criminal nexus during poll, he said that the government had taken the recommendation of the Supreme Court and the Election Commission seriously and were working out a consensus to make suitable amendments in the Peoples Representative Act.

Mr Parshad said his ministry was seriously studying the proposal of a South African company which had offered to produce petrol, diesel out of coal. He said although, the gas research was at an infancy stage but he felt that it had vast potential since India had large coal reserves. At present, the government had received foreign investment proposal for funding exploration of mines worth over Rs 4,000 crore.

The minister said that the Punjab State Electricity Board still owes Rs 60 crore against the payment of coal but the government would not stop the supplies.


Fast-track courts for economic offences sought
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
There are 25,000 families in Punjab who have been duped by human smugglers in the garb of travel agents. The amount of money they paid to these “agents” runs into a stupendous figure of Rs 1,250 crore, say sources in the Police Department.

Police officials, however, express helplessness in checking or preventing the exploitation of “employable youth” who in the wake of a fast-shrinking job market at home are looking westwards for greener pastures.

The apathy of the state government towards this serious social problem has come in for severe criticism from none other than the General Secretary of the Communist Party (Marxist), Mr Harkishen Singh Surjeet, and the President of the Lok Bhalai Party, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.

The demand for setting up of fast track courts to handle cases of economic crime in general and those pertaining to “human smugglers” in particular has been made by various quarters, including the Lok Bhalai Party.

In June last year, when The Tribune ran a two-part investigative report on the Rs 1,000 crore human smuggling trade in Punjab, the state government took no action. Only last month, the NHRC took cognizance of these reports and ordered the state governments to take immediate steps to check “illegal immigration” from the country.

Though most of the victims or their parents have been pursuing their cases for recovery of the huge amounts paid by them to the “agents” through mediators, only a small percentage of the cases go to the police.

The reason for reluctance of the victims to go to the police is two-fold. The significant of the two is the long and cumbersome procedure to investigate and prosecute a person charged under Section 420, IPC (cheating).

And above all the conviction rate in such cases is hardly 1 to 2 per cent. Even if one or two in hundred are convicted after years of litigation, the sentence is a couple of years in jail with no financial relief to the victim. There is hardly any case where the victim got his money back even after the agent got convicted.

The second important reason is rampant corruption in the Police Department where the victims end up paying more money without ever getting any relief.

Of the 15,000 Punjabi youth on the verge of getting their “stay there” regularised in Italy, thanks to general amnesty declared by the government there, most of them had paid anything between Rs 2 lakh and Rs 6 lakh to get there. This “racket” had been going on for years. Italy is only one of the several destinations in Europe.

“I have appealed to the people of Punjab to learn from the experience of thousands of youth who have been exploited by these human smugglers. These youth end up in jails in various countries and only a small percentage gets to actual destinations unharmed,” says Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia.

“The situation has become so serious that every Embassy and Consulate in New Delhi now vets with extreme suspicion even genuine applications for visas.

“The only way out is that each case such be referred to the police and the trial should be held at fast track courts. Punishment in such cases should be made exemplary,” said Mr Ramoowalia.


Cong not rigid on CM issue, says Khurshid
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 19
Mr Salman Khurshid, senior Congress leader, said today that the Congress was not rigid about the selection of the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister or about going along with the National Conference, but at the same time it wanted to represent the feelings of the people of the valley in a true sense.

Mr Khurshid, who along with Narendra Kumar and Thakur Tarun Singh, Chairman, and Director of Delhi Public School, respectively, was here to participate in the school’s music programme said today that the post of the Chief Minister was not a bone of contention between the National Conference and the Congress. “We want to be fair to the people of the valley and we think that if we go along with the NC it might not be fair to them,” Mr Khurshid said.

Talking about Delhi Public School, of which he is the president, Mr Khurshid said the unique feature of the school was the utilisation of its infrastructure for teaching those who were underprivileged and who could not afford to pay the fees.


Canal water theft: JE seeks arrest of 3
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 19
Sukhjinder Singh, Junior Engineer of the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC), Dhariwal sub-division, has complained to SSP of police district Batala, Deputy commissioner, Gurdaspur and DIG, and police Border Range to arrest Jarnail Singh, Karnail Singh, and Joginder Singh, residents of Bangowal under Kalanaur police station in Batala police district, against whom a case was registered on August 21 this year for stealing canal water.

Official sources say the XEN UBDC complained to the SSP, Batala, on August 13, 2002, that the accused had been stealing water from Rania Rajwaha distributary of UBDC so the water did not reach the tail-end. As a result farmers of Dallowal, Mastkot, Lakmalia, Dargabad, Bhullar, Athwal, Khushipur, Aujla, Hakeempur, Padam and nearby villages do not get Canal water regularly because they fall towards the tail-end of Rania Rajwaha. Also farmers of the said villages met the MLA of Fatehgarh Churian Assembly constituency, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa and apprised him of their problem.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh took up the farmers’ problem with the Deputy Commissioner who directed the XEN UBDC to look into the matter. The SDO, Dhariwal sub-division accompanied by the complainant Sukhjinder Singh JE surveyed the area and found that the accused had laid underground pipe to irrigate fields and this hindered Rajwaha water’s flow. So UBDC officials seized more than 20 pipes which had been laid underground.

When the facts were brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner he wrote to the SSP, Batala for registering a case against the accused. The case was registered on August 21.

The accused reportedly due to influence of high-ups have not been arrested so far, and had been threatening Sukhjinder Singh, the Junior Engineer, of the area with dire consequences. The Junior Engineer on October 10 complained to higher officials seeking arrest of the accused.


PSEB subsidy adjustment ‘illegal’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 19
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association today claimed that the subsidy adjustment of Rs 795 crore in the tariff order announced by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission was not in accordance with Section 67-A of the Electricity Supply Act .

In a statement here, the Association, which today elected Mr M.S. Bajwa as its President and Mr H.S. Bedi as general secretary, said the Act stated that interest on government loan was the last priority and payable only at the end of the year after all expenses had been taken into account.

The statement said with current loss of the Board being Rs 1205 crore a year, a revenue increase of Rs 907 crore meant that board would remain in the red. It said so adjustment of Rs 553 crore against Rural Power Subsidy was ultra vires the Electricity Act.

It also urged the government to take note of the observations of the Regulatory Commission that the government was yet to pay the board subsidy of Rs 3305 crore as on March, 2002 and that the government had committed to settle this account. The Association said in case the State government had cash flow problem it could reduce the government loan to the board as on March, 2002 from Rs 4642 crore to Rs 1337 crore. It said this would bring relief to the PSEB from the interest on the loan.

The Association also demanded that since the Commission had allowed Depreciation of Rs 659 crore and three per cent surplus of Rs 228 crore, these amounts should be ploughed back to take up new power projects such as Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant - Stage II. It said the Board did not have any power project in hand and energy demand was increasing by seven per cent per year. It said the PSEB should take up new power projects at Pit Head in coal producing States to meet this demand.

The Association welcomed the implementation of the new tariff order saying it would encourage financial and technical revival of the Board and reduce losses.


Arhtiyas’ loans to farmers may sink
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
More than 450 arhtiyas (commission agents) of the district have been affected due to the withdrawal of free power from the agricultural sector. They fear less procurement of paddy by the government agencies which has set some standard for purchasing the paddy. This will not only lead to cut in their commissions but the arhtiyas who are unofficial money lenders to farmers also fear losing their money due to the added expense of the electricity bills.

According to rough estimates, nearly Rs 5,700 crore has been loaned by arhtiyas to the farmers of the district while the government lending agencies like cooperative societies, banks and FCI, sanction loans worth Rs 3,300 crore to the rural sector.

Not only has the government procurement agencies shied away from procuring paddy by laying stringent conditions like 17 per cent moisture content but has also laid additional conditions on ‘discolouration’ and reduced maximum damage of grain from 3 per cent to 2 per cent. Hence only 1.6 per cent of the total paddy has been procured at Bhagatanwala grain market since October 1.

Crop destruction due to the Army build up, fires and inadequate canal water at the tail ends have added to their woes. Farmers have been forced to spend lakhs of rupees for digging deeper bores for their tubewells and installing submersible water pumps due to the drought like conditions in the state. In addition to these farmers spend Rs 1,000 per acre on diesel for running their tubewells.

The mounting expenses had not only forced the farmers to take loans for farming and weddings, but also for purchasing tractors and oxen. The arhtiyas are now feeling the “pinch” as they fear that mounting expenses due to additional electricity bills will eat into the farmers savings leaving little scope for recovery of their loans.


Problems galore at Writers Home
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, October 19
Artists are welcome to stay in an air-conditioned room at the Writers Home for Rs 25. However, there’s one big problem at the place. It has been without electricity for the past five months as the Punjab State Electricity Board has cut the Home’s power connection due to the non- payment of bills.

Established alongside the State Language Department here in 1992 to facilitate inexpensive lodging for artists, the Sahitya Sadan, better known as Writers Home, is one of the most grossly ill-maintained government building in the city which lacks even basic facilities, including drinking water and clean toilets.

Neither the Languages Department, under whose jurisdiction it falls, nor the Punjab government have taken any step to improve the condition of the Home where several writers of repute used to stay and finish their works. The Home had seen better days but now the condition of the interiors has been deteriorating by the day. Carpets are being eaten by termite and curtains are heavy with dirt, besides parapets have become a store house for empty liquor bottles.

“Staying at the Writers Home has become virtually impossible today, absolutely no attention is paid to hygiene, one can see inches of dust everywhere at the Home.” lamented a Shiromani Awardee, who visits the city frequently but prefers to stay at a hotel rather than at the home.

The Writers Home has not been allotted any fixed budget or staff including sweepers, for its upkeep and maintenance for the past 12 years since it was established. As no regular sweeper has been allotted to the home, the cleaning of the rooms takes place only when the guests arrive. The few guests who stay at the home complain about the irregularity of the cleaning job in their rooms . Despite repeated appeals by the artists of the region, the authorities concerned have failed to take any concrete step to maintain and improve the facilities.

In the recent past the state government had even formulated a proposal to convert the place into a Bachat Bhavan but the artists opposed the move and forced the government not to implement the decision.

Although some private parties had presented a memorandum to the Languages Department in regard to renting out a few rooms of the Home so that funds could be generated to maintain the Home but the proposal is gathering dust with the department . Many artists and academics, of the view that an arrangement should be made to rent out some rooms or portion of the home to private parties so that capital could be generated to maintain and add to the existing facilities of the Home.

The Director of the State Languages Department, Dr Madan Lal Hasija, pleaded helplessness on account of dearth of finances.” We have been constantly appealing to the state government to allot a fixed budget for the Sahitya Sadan so that maintenance work could be undertaken and facilities added to the Sadan.” He said the matter had been forwarded to the state Finance Department, and that the Languages Department had been trying its best to do whatever it could with the limited funds available with them.


Police remand for PCS officer

Kharar, October 19
A local court today remanded a Punjab Civil Services officer, Jagir Singh, presently posted as Sub- Divisional Magistrate in Malout, in police custody till Wednesday in a case of issuing fake arms’ licenses during his postings in Amritsar district.

Arrested from Chandigarh on Friday, the PCS officer was produced before the court of Judicial Magistrate Roshan Lal Chohan here this afternoon.

The public prosecutor, along with Vigilance Bureau DSP Bhulla Singh, appeared in the court on behalf of the state and pleaded for 14 day’s police remand for the PCS officer.

They submitted that during his posting as General Assistant to the Deputy Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) in Amritsar from 1995 to 2000, the suspect, allegedly in connivance with two other PCS officers Arvinder Pal Singh Sandhu and L. D. Hans, who were posted as GA to the Deputy Commissioner and Additional Deputy Commissioner, respectively, in Amritsar, issued around 168 arms licenses to those persons, who were not even bonafide residents of Amritsar, which was contrary to the provisions of law.

It was also submitted that most of the licence holders were from Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and different parts of Punjab.

The court was informed that a case under various sections of the IPC and that of the Prevention of Corruption Act, has been registered against the three PCS officers at Mohali. PTI


Judicial remand for bank Director

Kharar, October 19
A court here today remanded Malout Land Mortgage Bank Director Sukhwant Singh Tillu in judicial custody till October 30 in a case of corruption registered against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s aide and Officer on Special Duty Hardeep Singh at Mohali on August 29.

The court directed that the suspect be produced before the Special Court in Roopnagar on October 30 for further remand-related matters.

After the expiry of his one-day police remand, which was extended on Friday, the accused was produced in the court this afternoon. Arrested on October 12 from Chandigarh, Tillu was first remanded in police custody till Wednesday on October 13 and on that day his police remand was extended till yesterday.

The public prosecutor, and Vigilance Bureau DSP Jaspal Singh Jassal, appeared in the court on behalf of the state and sought extension of police remand of the accused for further interrogation and recovery of documents relating to certain land deals.

The court declined the prosecution’s plea and remanded Tillu in judicial custody. PTI


HC: grant disability pension to ex-jawan
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
Allowing a petition filed by a soldier sent out of military service after he sustained injuries while on way to attend his mother’s last rites, Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the Union of India and other respondents to grant disability pension to him.

In his petition, ex-sepoy Lakhwinder Singh had claimed that he had sustained serious injuries after the autorickshaw he was travelling in for attending his mother’s last rites at his home village in Gurdaspur district overturned.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioner, posted with 21 Sikh Regiment, submitted that he was granted 10 days’ casual leave after receiving a telegram about his mother’s death.

The petitioner had added that his papers for the grant of disability pension, forwarded to the Chief Controller of Defence Accounts, were rejected on August 24, 1999. Appeal filed against the orders was still pending, he had contended. Arguing on behalf of the petitioner, Mr Bhim Sen Sehgal had added that the petitioner had to be treated as on duty during the leave period.

After hearing arguments in the case and going through the documents, Mr Justice Dutt observed: “In the facts and circumstances of the case, it cannot be held that the accident took place on account of an unlawful and entirely unconnected act or omission on the part of the petitioner. Having dealt with the objections raised by the respondents, there appears to be no legal impediment, which would disentitle the petitioner to the relief sought for. The disability, even according to the court of inquiry, was the result of an accident which was not due to any negligence on part of the petitioner”.


Pherurai’s remand extended

Ludhiana, October 19
A Jagraon court today extended the police remand of former Ferozepore SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai till October 23 in a case of disproportionate assets registered against him.

Judicial Magistrate H.S. Garewal, while extending the remand, directed the prosecution to produce him in the court on Wednesday.

Mr Pherurai, widely perceived to be close to former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, was arrested from a village near Moga on October 15.

He is also embroiled in the fake firearm licence scandal during his

four-year tenure as SSP of the district. A case against him is also being investigated for huge fake Indian currency he had allegedly given to now jailed former Chairman of PPSC Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu for the selection of his daughter as PCS officer and son as DSP in the Punjab police.

Thousands of fake arms licences were issued in different districts, including Ferozepore, and a PCS officer has been arrested, while raids are being conducted to nab the remaining two officers. UNI


Clear probation of doctors: PCMSA
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
The PCMSA has demanded to clear the probation period of 1998 and 1999 batches of PCMS doctors on priority basis.

Mr Navtej Pal Singh, president of the association, in a press note issued here yesterday said although the doctors of the batches had served the government for more than four years, the government had not cleared their probation period. As a result no increment and promotion were given to them.

The association demanded to issue the orders to strictly ban the use of Red Cross stickers on unauthorised vehicles. Meanwhile, following persons have been elected office-bearers of the district unit of the association: Senior vice-president — Dr Manjit Singh Khalsa; vice-Presidents. — Dr Usha, Goyal and Dr Harsimarat Singh; and general secretary — Dr Satwinder Bhagat.


Amendment in ‘ardas’ sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
Bhai Ashok Singh Bagrian, Sikh scholar, has sought an amendment to the daily “ardas” performed at the Golden Temple in accordance with the “true traditions” of Sikhism.

He regretted that several communications to the SGPC authorities and Akal Takht Jathedar in this regard had elicited little response.

Addressing the international conference on Guru Granth Sahib held in collaboration with the Academy of Guru Granth Studies, USA, at Guru Nanak Dev University here yesterday, he said, “if our identity is confused, our thinking would also be confused”.

He further said that deras following their own ‘maryada’ was a negation of Guru Nanak’s teachings.

Dr George Gispert Sauch from Delhi, while speaking on scriptures, said the revelation of the almighty was not limited to books or fixed texts. His words were addressed to us in many forms and one of them was ‘Gurbani’.


Sehajdharis ‘part of Sikhism’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 19
Noted Sikh scholar and founder President of the All-India Sikh Students Federation Bhai Harbans Lal today sought amendment in the procedure for nominating Sikh high priests including jathedar of Akal Takht.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Bhai Harbans Lal said there must be consensus among the Sikhs all over the world before appointing jathedars. He opined that a presidium of Sikh scholars from all over the world be formed to make recommendations for appointment to the post of Jathedar of Akal Takht.

To a question, Bhai Harbans Lal said Sehajdharis were part and parcel of Sikhism. He said they should not be deprived of the right to vote as they had been associated with “Guru ghar” from the beginning. He, however, said efforts should be made to give due representation to the ‘sehajdharis’ in the management of gurdwaras.


4 kids injured in accidental shooting

Gurdaspur, October 19
Four children, all aged below 15 years, were wounded in accidental shooting at Talwandi Raman village yesterday.

According to the police, Malkiat Singh, Manpreet Kaur and Gurpreet Kaur, were wounded when they were hit by shots fired from a .12-bore gun.

The police added that Rakesh Kumar was fighting with another person. Rakesh tried to shoot that person with his gun. Accidentally the shot missed its target and hit the children who were standing on the roof of a house.

The children were rushed to a private nursing home in Amritsar where they were being treated for pellet injuries. Rakesh fled away after the incident. UNI


18 passenger trains searched

Phagwara, October 19
The railway police team, headed by Superintendent of Police (Operation) Surinder Singh Sidhu, and anti-sabotage team today searched more than 18 passenger trains at the railway station here.

Confirming the drive, Mr Sidhu said here that the Malwa Express, Brauni Express, Dadar Express, Shan-e-Punjab, Swaran Shatabdi Express, Flying Mail, Sawraj Express and several Jammu-bound trains were searched thoroughly by the team, which used dog squads, finger print experts, bomb defusing experts, metal detectors and special mirrors. UNI


Remarks criticised
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 19
A member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, Mr Ashwani Kumar, reacting to the statements of VHP’s Parveen Togadia, said this would drive the last nail in the political coffin of the Sangh Parivar. “It is now clear beyond doubt that neither our politics nor our culture is safe with the frustrated, demented and communalist Sangh Parivar”, Mr Kumar, Chairman, AICC Vichar Vibhag Manch, said.


Communal harmony seminar
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 19
The Punjabi University National Integration Chair, in collaboration with the National Foundation for Communal harmony, New Delhi, will organise a two-day national seminar on “Communal harmony and national integration in India” to be inaugurated by the Punjab Governor Lt-Gen J.F.R Jacob (retd.), on October 22.


Fingerprint cell to be modernised
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 19
The ADGP of Punjab (Computer and Wireless), Mr D.R. Bhatti said yesterday that the border districts of the state were being linked up through computers with the police headquarters at a cost of Rs 8 crore.

A vehicle theft reporting centre was being set up at Ludhiana and Madhopur for keeping the records of vehicles stolen throughout the country, he added. Modern wireless sets would be given to the police and Rs 2 crore would be spent on purchasing these gadgets.

These wireless sets would be linked with a satellite through pole net system, he disclosed. An amount of Rs 1 crore would be spent on modernising the already well-equipped fingerprint cell of Phillaur Police Training College, he added. The fingerprint cell would be linked to the Facts System.


Cinema owner held for selling stolen vehicles
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 19
The police here today arrested Mr Rakesh Aggarwal for a cinema house owner and another person selling stolen vehicles; ASP said that that the police had put up naka.

Two luxury vehicles coming from a farmhouse were intercepted. The persons, driving the vehicles, could not satisfy the police regarding the validity of the documents. Interrogation revealed that a group of nine persons had been selling the luxury vehicles at throwaway prices.

The ASP added the police arrested Mohan Lal Nagpal of Fazilka and Sukhcharan Singh of Panniwala village on the Fazilka-Malout road after impounding a Marshal Jeep and an Ascent Car (MHo4A 1313) from them. Investigation led to the arrest of Gulshan Midha of Anand Nagri here allegedly instrumental in getting “fake” documents for such vehicles in connivance with Transport and Revenue authorities in the region.

Two member of the gang Gurcharan Singh (brother of Sukhcharan Singh) and Dilbagh Singh (resident of Amritsar) reportedly were camping in Mumbai. The gang had purchased vehicles from Maharashtra with money advanced by finance companies. Later they used to get an FIR registered at police station that the vehicle had been stolen. After getting certificate from the police that the vehicle was not traceable, they had been getting claim insurance companies. Later the same vehicles were sold in Punjab and neighbouring areas at throwaway prices. Fake documents were got prepared for all such vehicles. The police recovered an affidavit signed by Kartar Singh son of Kehar Singh from Mumbai. More disclosures are expected.

Last year the Delhi Police also busted a gang selling stolen vehicles. A resident here was member of the New Delhi-based gang. Some vehicles were recovered during raids by the Delhi police in Abohar, Muktsar and Sri Ganganagar areas then. But the case was hushed up due to alleged political interference. Even in the present case certain dissident Congress leaders were seen outside the CIA staff office complex. They reportedly tried influence investigation of the case at initial stage. Sources indicated that they tried to use political resources to influence investigation. The Cinema house owner was said to be in finance business also. His family and Gulshan Midha’s father also pleaded innocence in this case.

The ASP said that the police intercepted a truck (PB 02P 9927) near Diwankhera village on the Sri Ganganagar-Abohar road and recovered 500 gm opium during search. Driver Ranjit Singh Hardoi (Uttar Pradesh) was arrested under the NDPS Act.


Vehicle thieves’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, October 19
The police here claims to have busted a gang of vehicle thieves who used to rob vehicles on gunpoint from areas of the state.

Mr Manoj Singh Dhillon, SSP, in a press note said here today that Rajinder Singh of Bathinda was arrested for robbing a vehicle on gunpoint from Mr Narinder Mohan. The SSP said the robbed vehicle, 12 cartridges of .12 bore and a gun were recovered from the possession of the accused.

Mr Dhillon said the culprit had robbed a car from Mr Mohan on the night of October 4-5 at gunpoint and had confessed that he had two accomplices.

The accused had said Bittu Singh of Rampura (Bathinda and Krishan of Mandi Killianwale (Haryana) were the members of his gang. The police has recovered a car a colour TV, a VCR and a video cassette on clues from the accused. The SSP said the accused confessed to his involvement in such incidents in Punjab, Haryana and parts of Rajastan.

Mr Dhillon said the Deputy Superintendent of Police, Malout, played key role in the case.

The police here also solved a case of threatening calls demanding for ransom.

Those arrested in this case are Rajesh Kumar, Harpartap Singh and Pritpal Singh, all residents of Malout. They had been threatening a resident of the same town and demanding ransom. The press note said investigation revealed that a few months ago the culprits had tried to loot a money changer at Chandigarh. The accused even tried to loot cash from the Chhapianwali polytechnic college. 


Punsup’s field officer held

Jalandhar, October 19
The local branch of the Vigilance Bureau today arrested a field officer of PUNSUP on the charge of accepting a bribe at the Talwandi Sabho grain market.

According to the Vigilance Bureau here, a trader, Daljeet Singh of Kang Sabhu under Nakodar police station, complained to the Bureau that field officer of PUNSUP, Ram Rishi, was demanding Rs 24,000 for passing the quality of his 2,400 quintal of paddy. The matter was settled for Rs 15,000 to be given on the spot and the rest later on.

DSP Vigilance Rajwant Kumar raided the office of the accused and arrested him red-handed. A sum of Rs 15,000 was recovered from his possession in the presence of Naib Tehsildar Parmjit Singh Sahota.

The Vigilance Bureau has registered a case against Ram Rishi, a resident of Gujral Nagar in the city under a relevant Act of the IPC. UNI


Sons kill father for property
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
Two sons allegedly killed their father over some property dispute here late last evening.

Sirmal Singh, third son of the deceased residing in Fatehpur Colony, in complaint lodged with Sadar police station stated that his brothers, Jasbir Singh and Balwinder Singh of Mulechak village, stabbed their father, Pal Singh to death. A case has been registered under Section 302, IPC.


3 smack addicts arrested
Tribune News Service

Malout, October 19
Even as the state police authorities are busy taking members of the previous SAD-BJP alliance to task for their alleged acts of omission and commission this once cotton-rich town situated on the Fazilka-Delhi national highway has started turning into the den of smack addicts.

Over the years, a major section of youth who used to earn hard cash from cotton cultivation have strayed into the world of addiction.

To meet the huge expenses of fetching their doses of smack, most of the youths have started indulging in various type of crimes. Mr Gurmeet Singh Virk, DSP, while talking to TNS, said yesterday that three smack addicted namely Rinku Garg. Pirta and Harry, were arrested while making threatening calls to a local businessman, Mr Vikas Goyal, for extorting money from him. They threatened to kill Mr Goyal’s daughter if he did not give Rs 2 lakh as extortion money to them.

He added that these three addict-turned-criminals had confessed that they used to bring smack from Delhi and then used to sell the same in one of the local educational institutions. 


Punjab to implement Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, October 19
The Punjab government will implement the “Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan” in letter and spirit and strive hard to fulfil the desired target of 100 per cent literacy by bringing all children in the age group of six to 14 years in the fold of education. The government has earmarked Rs 129.80 crore to be spent for infrastructural development in government schools in the current financial year and has released a sum of Rs 64.90 crore in the state as its first installment.

This was stated by Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Social Security and Welfare Minister, while addressing a gathering after launching “Sarv Sikhiya Abhiyan” in the district at a function organised in Bharta Khurd village, 12 km from here, on Friday. The minister distributed cheques worth Rs 35,000 each to as many as 30 village education development committees on the occasion.

Chaudhary Santokh Singh, while expressing his concern over the plight of primary education in the state, said the turbulent period of 12 years and the ‘misgovernance’ of the SAD-BJP government were responsible for deterioration in the primary education. He accused the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, of “misutilising” the funds received from the Centre for implementing the “Abhiyan” for providing infrastructural facilities in government schools.

At present, as many as 2.97 lakh children in the age group of six to 14 years were not attending school and the total number of illiterates was 63.40 lakh in the state, which was a stigma on a prosperous state like Punjab, lamented the minister. He called upon teachers, panches, sarpanches and awakened citizens to mobilise sources for bringing in qualitative improvement in the functioning of government schools.

The minister also inaugurated the new wing of the Government High School and presided over the prize distribution function of the zonal tournament organised at the school.

Mr K.C. Kapoor, District Education Officer, Ms Kulwinder Kaur, zila parishad member, Mr Gurdev Singh, panchayat samiti member, Mr Pritpal Singh, Mr Dilbagh Singh, both sarpanches, Mr Balbir Singh Khanpuri, BPEO, Ms Iqbal Kaur, headmistress, among others also addressed the function.


Khalsa College Principal booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 19
Dr M.S. Dhillon, Principal of the local Khalsa College, was booked by the police for allegedly hatching a conspiracy to assault Prof Baljinder Singh of the Department of Commerce, of the college, here last evening. At least five miscreants had allegedly assaulted him on July 17.

In the FIR, Prof Baljinder Singh had alleged that on July 17 while he was sitting in his department, the miscreants attacked him with iron rods and asked him to withdraw a complaint lodged by him against the Principal to the Provident Fund Commissioner for alleged irregularities and discrepancies in the maintenance of the Provident Fund account. He alleged that the assaulters threatened him of serious consequences if he did not withdraw the complaint.

Meanwhile, Dr M.S. Dhillon said an inquiry had already been done by the police the same month in which it was found that no such incident had happened in the college. 


Varsity status for engg college
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 19
The Union Government has accorded the status of deemed university to the Dr B. R. Ambedkar Regional Engineering College here. In a press statement here today, the Registrar of the college said that the notification relating to the Dr B. R. Ambedkar National Institute of Technology was issued by the Central Government on October 17.


Students not to pay bus fare
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 19
Leaders of various students’ unions today said the students would not pay the fare while travelling in minibuses for reaching their respective educational institutions.

Mr Harjiwan Singh, and Mr Jagjiwan Singh, President and vice-president, respectively of the TPD Malwa College Committee, Rampura Phul, Mr Sukhdev Singh of Government Rajindra College of the city and Mr Sudeep of Shaheed Prithipal Singh Memorial Committee, said in a press note today.

They said after a meeting of students, and members of panchayat held at Rampura Phul last evening. It was decided that the students would not buy tickets.

A row has been going on between students and minibus operators, even since the latter refused to entertain the concessional passes. The bus operators said the passes issued to students were not valid in minibuses.

Students have urged the authorities that they should ask mini bus operators to allow them to travel free of cost.


Fancy dress competition
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 19
Blossoms School here organised a fancy dress competition in which students from pre-nursery to Class X participated. The students were divided into seven groups according to their classes. Ganesh Arora was adjudged first from group A, Jasmine from group B and Ishneet Gorwara from group C. From groups D, E , F and G, Ridhiwa, Divya, Raminder and Arshinder won the first prize, respectively.

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