Wednesday, October 23, 2002, Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badungar lodges protest with CS
Alleged picking up of SGPC members’ kin
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Unable to establish contact with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Mr M.S. Bhullar, DGP, on the phone, SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar, today lodged a strong protest with Chief Secretary, Y.S. Ratra about alleged terrorising and “ kidnapping” of close relatives of SGPC members by the Police.

Sources said Mr Badungar first tried to contact Capt Amarinder Singh but the latter’s private secretary, Mr Rajinder Singh, told the SGPC chief that Capt Amarinder Singh was away to Delhi. Then Mr Badungar tried to contact Mr M.S. Bhullar, DGP, but he was also not available. He made yet another try and this was to contact Dr A.A. Siddique, ADG P and OSD ( Law and Order) but was told that the police officer was away to the USA.

Then he contacted Mr Ratra Confirming that he had tried to establish contact with the Chief Minister and the top brass of the police, Mr Badungar said it was his duty to protect the families of SGPC members from police harassment. On the one hand the Chief Minister was making statements that his officers were not interfering in the SGPC elections, on the other the police was picking up close relatives of pro-Badal SGPC members. Under whose orders the police was raiding the houses of SGPC members if Capt Amarinder Singh had not given any such directions, he asked.

About the Chief Secretary’s response, Mr Badungar, said that the officer had assured him to convey his ( Mr Badungar) sentiments to the Chief Minister. The names of a number of family members, who had been picked up were also forwarded to the Chief Secretary. Among them are Mr Avtar Singh, a close relative of Bibi Surinder Kaur, and a son of Bibi Harbans Kaur, SGPC member from Naushahra Panuan and a brother of Jarnail Singh Dogarwala, whose wife is an SGPC member.

Mr Badungar said he did not expect such action from Capt Amarinder Singh, who quit important positions twice opposing the police entry in to the Sikh religious places. No one could dare pick up close relatives of SGPC members and ask them to change their political loyalties without the orders of the state government.

He said former SGPC chief G.S Tohra had no right to suggest that the session of the SGPC general house should be held at Amritsar. During the Barnala Government, the meeting of the SGPC general house was held at Anandpur Sahib and Mr Tohra was elected President. Even under Mr Tohra’s command, meetings of the SGPC executive committee were held five times outside Amritsar and a number of times in Haryana and Himachal. “But to maintain the tradition, I have decided to hold the session at Amritsar”, he added.

Mr Badungar said those SGPC members, who were advising that the SGPC should be freed from political control, should first themselves resign from their political parties. Mr Tohra himself was a President of an Akali party and Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi is a senior Vice-President of the SAD. Mr Mal Singh Ghuman was also a member of the SAD and remained Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board, which was a political office. Moreover, almost all members of the SGPC belonged to one political party or the other and contested the elections on their party symbols.


Sikh panel rejects Badungar’s plea
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 22
The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission here today dismissed an application filed by Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President, Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Senior Akali leader, Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC chief, and their respective secretaries, including present SGPC secretary Harbeant Singh in a case filed before the commission by Narinder Pal Singh.

The case against two former presidents of the SGPC and the present one and their secretaries alleged abuse of power and acts of malfeasance and misfeasance, breach of trust, neglect of duty, conferred on the office-bearers of the SGPC by the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, in not recovering the dues from several students admitted in Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research for MBBS course in the past three batches from 1999 to 2002.

The commission was prayed that the present SGPC president be ordered to be removed from the executive committee of the SGPC and the ex-presidents and secretaries of the SGPC, including Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Bibi Jagir Kaur be disqualified to be members of the SGPC for a period of five years. However, an application filed today by counsel for respondents (Badungar, Bibi Jagir Kaur Talwandi etc) had sought the dismissal of the petition on the plea that the institute in question was a ‘separate entity’ constituted under deed of trust and hence not performing any function as a “notified gurdwara”. The application stated that trustees who were also SGPC members were not performing their function in relation to a notified gurdwara. Thus the present petition under Sections 142 of the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925 was neither maintainable nor competent and was liable to be dismissed.

The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission’s bench headed by Chairman Kashmir Singh Patti and members, Mr Dara Singh and Mr Ragbir Singh, ‘dismissed the application outright,’ and held that the trust of the educational institute is created by the SGPC. It is fact that SGPC presidents and secretaries have also been president and secretary of the trust under which the Guru Ram Das Medical Institute functions and hence manages the affairs of institute. The funds for the institute are also provided by the SGPC. Hence, the institute where the gurdwara funds are being utilised is absolutely in the purview of the Sikh Judicial Commission under the Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925. The next date to summit written statement by respondents for the SGPC presidents and others is fixed for November 8.


Tohra threatens to hold parallel poll
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 22
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SHSAD president, addressing party workers at Gurdwara Singh Sabha said here today that he was not a candidate for the post of SGPC presidentship.

He said he would hold parallel elections to the SGPC if the elections to the post of president were held outside Punjab. He said he apprehended that the elections would be held either in Haryana or Himachal Pradesh due to the proximity of Mr Parkash Singh Badal with the Union Government. He said Mr Badal wanted to hold the elections outside Punjab, fearing large-scale defection.

The SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, has already announced that the election to the post of SGPC President would be held at Amritsar on November 12.

Mr Tohra said the assertions of Mr Badal that his party would launch an agitation from November 15 were misleading. The agitation was not being launched for Panthic interests but was an attempt to divert attention from large-scale corruption during the SAD-BJP rule.

Mr Tohra said earlier there used to be a parliamentary board of the SAD which selected candidates for the Assembly and parliamentary elections. Even candidates for the SGPC election were selected by the board but after 1997, the parliamentary board was disbanded and Mr Badal set up the Political Affairs Committee for the purpose.

He said the SHSAD would participate in the Punjab bandh announced by non-political farmers’ organisations on October 29.


SGPC allows ‘blacklisted’ scholar to hold ‘katha’
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 22
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee today embroiled itself with another controversy by allowing a Sikh scholar to hold “katha” (discourse on Sikh scriptures) at Golden Temple who had been allegedly “blacklisted” by inserting an advertisement in newspapers on behalf of the secretary of the SGPC last year.

The scholar had replaced noted “katha-vachak”, Giani Sant Singh Maskeen at the 11th hour who had been holding katha at Golden Temple for the past four decades from Guru Ram Dass Gurpurb and Divali every year.

The advertisement dated July 22 last year reads, “Bhai Karnail Singh Gareeb of Guru Nanak Seva Mission had been collecting funds in different parts of the world allegedly by misguiding the Sikh Sangat that this society is affiliated to the SGPC. ‘Hence Sikh Sangat’ through this notice is being urged to beware of him as he had nothing to do with the SGPC.”

However, Giani Gareeb said that the then secretary SGPC, Dr Bachan, was pulled up by Mr Talwandi, the then SGPC chief for publishing the notice against him. He said he had performed at many functions of the SGPC after the notice was issued as Mr Talwandi had, immediately, realised that it was a “conspiracy” hatched by some vested interests to malign him in Panthic circles. He said he did not take a serious view of the notice as he did not want a confrontation with the SGPC due to the folly of one official. He further claimed that he had to cut short his visit to England as he had received a written invitation from the manager of Darbar Sahib that he (Giani Gareeb) would hold the ‘katha’ on the demand of Sikh Sangat. He claimed that Dr Bachan had already tendered an unconditional apology for publishing a notice against him.

This notice was published when Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi was president of the SGPC. However, Mr Narinder Singh Bara, the then officer on special duty to Mr Talwandi claimed that the notice was got published inadvertently by Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan, the then SGPC secretary. Mr Bachan when contacted said that it was Mr Talwandi who had got the notice published in his name.

Bhai Sant Singh Maskeen, when contacted said that he was not allowed to hold ‘katha’ without serving any notice. The detail of programmes published by the SGPC had mentioned the name of Giani Maskeen for holding ‘katha’ from October 21 to November 5 but the name of Giani Gareeb was nowhere in the list. Giani Maskeen said that he was not charging even single penny from the SGPC for holding ‘katha’. He said he had given a word to the former jathedars of Akal Takht, about four decades ago that he would be holding ‘katha’ on Gurpurb of Guru Ram Dass and Divali till he kept good health.

However, Mr Ajaib Singh, manager, Darbar Sahib refused to give appropriate reasons for replacing Giani Maskeen with Giani Gareeb. He said this question should be addressed to Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief.

However, the matter was brought to the notice of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, who reportedly spoke to Mr Badungar on this issue. Giani Gareeb, however, claimed that he and Giani Maskeen, both would continue to hold ‘katha’ from tomorrow as the matter was already resolved.


Badal’s arrest after probe: CM
Tribune News Service

Kiratpur Sahib, October 22
Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, today claimed that the SAD’s proposed mass movement from November 15 against the Congress government would not evoke any response from the Punjabis, especially farmers, as they felt that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, was misleading them.

He said Mr Badal would not be arrested till the investigations against him, with regard to Mr Badal’s Rs 3,500 crore property, were completed. He said all “corrupt persons”, including Akalis, Congressmen and BJP leaders, would be arrested.

Capt Amarinder Singh was talking to mediapersons after laying the foundation stone of a bridge over Lohand Khad crossing the Dehni-Massewal-Baghari road connecting Punjab and Himachal Pradesh at Dehni village, about 6 km from here. This 120-metre-long bridge will be completed at a cost of Rs 4.36 crore in one and a half years. With the construction of the bridge, about 40 villages of Punjab and Himachal Pradesh will be benefited.

On the occasion, a function was organised which was attended by Congress persons from Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. Those who attended the function included, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, Punjab PWD Minister, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Punjab Minister, Mr K.P. Singh Rana, MLA from Nangal, Mr Virbhadra Singh, opposition leader in Himachal Pradesh Assembly, Ms Vidya Stokes, president of the Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Ram Lal Thakur and Chaudhary Lajja Ram, both Congress MLAs from Himachal Pradesh, former Maharaja of Nalagarh Vajindra Singh and former Maharani of Nalagarh Sukriti Kumari.

Due to the ensuing Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh, the gathering turned virtually into an election rally, projecting Ms Sukriti as a candidate from Nalagarh, as more than 20 villages situated near the proposed bridge are part of Nalagarh constituency.

Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that besides Akali jathedar no one would participate in the proposed mass movement by Mr Badal. He said no one had supported Mr Badal for this so far. He said to implement the 15-point charter, presented by the SAD, thousands of crores of rupees were required, while Mr Badal knew the fiscal position of the state more than the Congress government. He said only one demand of the SAD, that drought-hit farmers should be compensated at the rate of Rs 5,000 per acre, needed an amount of Rs 2,300 crore.

Capt Amarinder Singh said he had not given a clean chit to the corrupt BJP leaders, but only those leaders would be arrested who would be found corrupt during investigations. He asked the Akalis to approach the Lok Pal against the corrupt Congress persons if they had no faith in him.

With regard to protection by the police to SGPC members, he clarified that he had only asked the SSPs to provide police protection to only those SGPC members who wanted it on the plea that Mr Badal was compelling them to support him against their wishes.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Government was preparing a new case, with regard to the SYL canal issue, to file in the Supreme Court on the plea that the Supreme Court should decide the matter of river waters keeping in view the reorganisation of the state. He said he had written a letter to the Prime Minister seeking funds for the completion of Khalsa Heritage Complex at Anandpur Sahib. He said the Union Government had asked the Punjab Government to provide land for the establishment of a defence junior leaders academy at Anandpur Sahib for which the state government had sent its nod to the Centre.

Earlier, addressing the gathering, Capt Amarinder Singh accused the BJP government in Himachal Pradesh of spreading corruption in the state. He said when the Congress government, after the ensuing Assembly elections, would come into power, it would cleanse the state. He gave credit to Ms Sukriti Kumari for the starting of the construction of bridge. He also assured all help to Himachal Pradesh.


CPM ultimatum to Amarinder govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The CPM today gave the Amarinder Singh government an ultimatum till November 15 to either implement its charter of demands or face a “jail bharo andolan” from November 18.

The announcement was made by CPM Punjab Secretary Balwant Singh in the presence of national Secretary Harkishan Singh Surjeet and members of the Punjab Secretariat at a rally organised at the Parade Ground here to present a memorandum to Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The memorandum demands the Punjab Government should ensure minimum support price for all agriculture produce, withdraw the power hike, give free power to the poor and agricultural labourer and release new tubewell connections.

It said 14 articles of essential commodities of daily use should be supplied at subsidised rates through the public distribution system; effective steps should be taken to re-open closed industrial units and check illegal lockouts, retrenchment and closures.

The memorandum said that the Congress Government in Punjab was pursuing the “anti-people” economic policies of the Atal Behari Vajpayee government at the Centre.

Addressing the gathering at the rally amidst “lal salam” from the cadres, Mr Surjeet said the BJP was on its way out after losing elections everywhere, including in Jammu and Kashmir. He said the National Conference in Kashmir and the Akali Dal in Punjab had to pay the price of aligning with a “communal” BJP.

Mr Surjeet trained his gun on former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for allegedly indulging in corruption and pursuing communal politics and only made a brief mention of Amarinder Singh.


BKU(E) cancels ‘rail roko’stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 22
The Ugrahan group of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) has cancelled the “rail roko” agitation scheduled to be organised on October 24 in order to participate in October 29 Punjab bandh called by various kisan unions, against the withdrawal of free of cost power to farm sector.

BKU(E) leaders said as they had to make preparations for the bandh on October 29, they decided not to go ahead with the farm sector trail roko agitation. The union had decided to block rail traffic for four hours on October 24.

The BKU(E) is one of the seven kisan unions that would participate in the Punjab bandh on October 29. Several political parties had decided to support the Punjab bandh.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, state general secretary of the BKU, said as the activists of the union were busy mobilising farmers for participation in the bandh, they had decided to cancel the rail roko stir. He added that the other six unions had urged them not to begin a separate agitation.

He said the activists of the union were holding meetings in villages in the state to enlighten farmers on the anti-farmer policies of the Congress government in the state and asking them to participate in large numbers in the bandh.

He further said the union also urged some farmer leaders, who were part of the so-called struggle committee formed by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to join the bandh. He said the anti farmer face of the Congress government had been exposed. He added that by holding dharna in Delhi, Capt Amarinder Singh wanted to win the sympathy of farmers, but by withdrawing free power to tubewells, he said shown his true colours.


Lord Paul opens hospital block
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, October 22
Lord Swraj Paul, British business ambassador, concluded his much-hyped “Jalandhar Outreach Event” by inaugurating a 50-bedded block at the local Devi Talab Charitable Hospital. He also addressed the annual convocation at Doaba College and interacted with children at the local Red Cross Deaf and Dump School.

Lord Paul, Chancellor of Wolverhampton University, was accompanied by Mr Shital Vij, Chairperson of the Devi Talab Charitable Hospital Management Committee. The new block at the hospital is dedicated to Lord Paul’s brother, Dr Satya Paul. With the addition of the new block, the bed strength of the hospital has risen to 150.

Addressing a gathering on the occasion, Lord Paul, who also paid a visit to the adjoining Devi Talab Mandir, said though religious donations were important, people should also donate for improving basic health services. “That is the real service to God and mankind,” he added. Lauding the services being rendered by the hospital, he said more such hospitals were needed in the country as these could bring a positive change in the basic health services, particularly in the rural areas. “Social organisations should come forward to take up the cause,” he said.

Mr Vij said the new block had been constructed at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore and the hospital had now been divided into four blocks — medicine, general surgery, paediatrics and orthopaedics. Lord Paul also paid obeisance at the historic Devi Talab Mandir, where he was presented siropas by the Devi Talab Temple Management Committee Chairman, Mr Vinod Gupta, and Dr Satpal Gupta, a senior office-bearer.

Earlier, Lord Paul, who was accompanied by Mr K. Siva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, and the Red Cross Society Chairman, Dr Kamala Prasad, visited the local Deaf and Dump School, being run by the Red Cross Society. During his interaction with students and their parents, Lord Paul said such students could also achieve greatness in life and society. “The British Home Secretary is deaf but he is one of most efficient officials, which shows that sky is the limit for such children, despite their disabilities. They should be encouraged by one and all,” he observed.

Before leaving for Delhi, Lord Paul addressed the annual convocation at the local Doaba College where he was a student once. He said he was elated to be in his old college after so many years. “I cannot express my feelings in words,” he added. He was welcomed by the Principal of the college, Mr D.P. Bharadwaj, and the college staff. Mr Bharadwaj said Lord Paul was a source of inspiration for the young generation, particularly for the students of Doaba College. A cultural programme was also organised in honour of Lord Paul, who left for Delhi in the evening by the Shatabdi.


Sikh jathas to Pak: Advani’s no to DSGMC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 22
Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani has not obliged a Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee deputation led by its President Paramjit Singh Sarna to allow a jatha of Sikhs to visit gurdwara in Pakistan for participation in the celebration of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary in mid November.

However, the DSGPC will meet Mr Yashwant Sinha, Foreign Minister, tomorrow for permission to visit Pakistan. Mr Sarna told The Tribune on telephone that DSGMC will organise a protest dharna in New Delhi if devotees were not allowed to pay obeisance in Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Mr Kanwarpal Singh, spokesman of the Dal Khalsa, appreciating the decision of Government of India and Pakistan for withdrawing of troops from the international border, said the rail, road and air links between the two countries which were snapped after the December attack on Parliament should also be restored. He said while both countries had agreed in principle to reduce tension on the border there was no reason to hold back the jatha. Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, convener, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Committee has also appealed to the Prime Minister to help Sikh devotees to visit Pakistan.


SAD not shielding corrupt: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 22
“The SAD is not in favour of shielding the corrupt, but it want that the probe against them should be fair and preferably should be done by a sitting high court Judge or a ‘joint Assembly committee’ should be formed on the pattern of the Joint Parliamentary Committee. Moreover, all politicians irrespective of their party affiliations should be probed covering the last 25 years”.

These views were expressed by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, while addressing mediapersons here today. He promised that if any Akali leader was found guilty by any investigating agency, he should be immediately expelled from the party. However, he said the present drive of the Amarinder government was just a political vendetta against Akali leaders.

He said it was strange that in the drive both the complainant and the investigator were the Vigilance Department and such cases would not stand any where in the judicial courts. He said though the government had failed on all fronts, it would miserably fail on the judicial front.

The minister appreciated the declaration of Mr G.S. Tohra, chief, SHSAD, not to contest the SGPC elections. He said it was unfortunate that Mr Tohra, who had been condemning the Congress throughout his life, had lately joined hands with the Congress.

Clarifying his statement on the central observers for the SGPC elections, he said: “As per the Gurdwara Act, the SGPC covers four states and it is the duty of the Union Home Ministry to monitor that no pressure or state repression is brought upon the SGPC members on the eve of elections.


‘Consensus’ on SGPC chief must: panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Mr Hardeep Singh, who is on the seven-member core committee of SGPC members, said here today that the objective of the committee was to work for consensus with regard to the election of the SGPC president next month.

He said both Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and Mr Parkash Singh Badal were senior leaders, who had been in politics for the past 50 years. The committee was working to end the confrontation between both on the SGPC issue.


SAD dharnas on October 28
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
SAD general secretary and former minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh said today that all like-minded parties, including the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), would be invited to join the “insaaf davao morcha” being launched by the SAD on November 15 in favour of the genuine demands of the people.

Talking to newsmen here, he said protest dharnas would start in all districts from October 28.


‘Tough laws’ on power theft needed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
The PSEB Engineers Association yesterday urged the Punjab Government to enact stringent laws on theft of power on the pattern of the Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka governments. Besides, it asked for the issuing of instructions for the registration of the FIRs in power-theft cases.

In a statement here, president of the association, Mr M.S. Bajwa, and general secretary, Mr H.S. Bedi, said at present, in 99 per cent of the power-theft cases, the FIRs were not registered by the police even though the association had taken up the issue with the Chief Minister and the state Chief Secretary. They said the government should introduce a deterrent against power theft or the increased revenue from the hike in tariff would be nullified.

The association said the government could not escape its responsibility to ensure the revival of the board. It said even though the State Electricity Regulatory Commission had ordered that the government compensate the PSEB to the tune of Rs 100 crore in four equal instalments starting from October, the first instalment of Rs 25 crore was yet to materialise.

The association warned the board that the practice of taking loans to cover operational revenue deficits was suicidal for the power sector adding that it was better to resort to power cuts than to take more loans and plunge deeper into a debt trap.

The engineers, meanwhile, also appealed to the public to understand that nothing came for free and that it was not possible for the PSEB to sustain its operations with a highly unremunerative tariff structure. They said the price of giving freebies for the past five and a half years would have to be paid by the power consumers over the next two to three years as the Rs 5,107-crore institutional debt of the board could not be cleared in one day.


Dayal for white paper on PSEB
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The Punjab CPI Secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, today demanded a white paper on the PSEB.

Dr Dayal listed the following issues on which the CPI had raised objections; 1) presence of a top heavy civil and police setup, eating into the exchequer; 2) presence of six-odd officers on special duty to the Chief Minister and certain bureaucrats running the government; 3) blindly following WTO policies; 4) The Akalis were selective in their 15-point charter of demands and had left out inter-state issues; 5) the government was partisan in its anti-corruption campaign as it had not yet touched any former BJP minister.

The CPI would maintain equi-distance from the SAD and the BJP. The CPI would support the October 29 Punjab Bandh called by seven farmers’ organisations.


SAD to oppose water to Rajasthan
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 22
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), said today that the release of water to Rajasthan by the Congress government in Punjab was a step towards the completion of the SYL canal and the SAD would oppose the move.

Mr Badal, while addressing a Press conference here today, said Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, had consented to release water to Rajasthan under pressure from the Congress high command, despite the fact that all canals and distributaries in the state had gone dry. He added that under pressure from the party high command, Capt Amarinder Singh was also trying to complete the SYL canal.

He said so far the Congress government in Punjab had failed to file a review petition in the Supreme Court against its decision given in connection with the completion of the SYL canal within one year.

He pointed out that water from Punjab was being given to Rajasthan as Assembly elections in that state were approaching and the Congress in that state would try to woo the electorate by this.

Regarding the anti-corruption campaign of Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Badal said on one hand false cases were being registered against Akalis and on the other, the tainted ministers, MLAs and other party functionaries of the Congress were being spared. He said by doing so Capt Amarinder Singh was violating the Constitution as he was not the Chief Minister of the Congress but of whole Punjab and he was bound to give equal treatment to all.

Mr Badal alleged that Mr Amarinder Singh had hushed up export category rice diversion scam, which ran into crores of rupees. He had hushed up the online lottery scam. Congress ministers and MLAs involved in minting money from transfers of government officials and land-grabbing had not been touched so far, he alleged.

Mr Badal, who was accompanied by a former minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, and the Faridkot MLA, Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, said his party was opposed to octroi. He condemned the Congress government for privatising the collection of octroi instead of abolishing it as promised in its election manifesto.


Garcha, Grewal’s custody extended
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 22
The Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Mr A.S. Grewal, today extended the police remand of former Technical Education Minister and sitting Akali MLA Jagdish Singh Garcha and Director (Outreach) of Punjab Technical University (PTU) A.S. Grewal till tomorrow.

They were arrested by Vigilance Bureau officials at their residences in Ludhiana on October 19 for the embezzlement of funds and appointing 95 employees in the PTU on an ad hoc basis without following prescribed norms.

Earlier, they were produced in the court under heavy security even as the supporters of the former minister, who had assembled outside the court in a large number, raised anti-government slogans.

The defence counsel argued that the Distance Education Programme (DEP), started by the university one and a half years ago, resulted in the collection of revenue of about Rs 12.60 crore from its service providers in the past three semesters. Besides, the service providers, appointed after giving advertisements in various newspapers, had spent about Rs 1.18 crore for providing licensed software to all study centres running various information technology courses under the DEP.

“No government grant was given to the university as the government asked it to generate its own resources through intellect and resource-sharing programmes,” he contended.

He said there was no substance in the charges of the Vigilance Bureau that the accused had caused a loss of Rs 11 crore to the university due to wrong policies.

Though the public prosecutor urged the court to extend the police remand for 14 days, the CJM, after hearing both parties, ordered to extend the police remand till tomorrow.


VB raids house of Garcha’s partner
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 22
Punjab Vigilance Bureau officials today raided a house of Mr Rajwant Singh, a liquor contractor and an associate of Akali Dal MLA Jagdish Singh Garcha, in Block-B of Sarabha Nagar here.

The Vigilance Bureau team was assisted by the Sarabha Nagar police. Sources said the raid was made after search warrants issued by the court as a sequel to the arrest of the Akali leader in a case of corruption two days ago.

The team recovered $ 250, Rs 55,000 in cash, some cartridges, at least five bottles of different brands of liquor and some documents from the house. An inventory of the items recovered has been made and a copy given to the Sarabha Nagar police. Vigilance sources said a case under the Arms Act and the Excise Act was likely to be registered against the contractor if he failed to provide a licence for keeping ammunition and bottles of liquor in his house.

Mr Rajwant Singh was not available for comments as he was stated to be out of station by his family members, his wife Sukhjinder Kaur and daughter-in-law Amanpreet Kaur said they had all documents to prove that no item in the house was illegal. They said it was normal for them to keep some ready cash in home as Rajwant Singh was a liquor contractor and cash was received and paid daily.

Ms Amanpreet Kaur said her father lived in America and he had given the dollars as shagun to her new-born baby. They said Mr Rajwant Singh had all licences and would produce these as soon as he returned home.

The Vigilance team was led by DSP Sukhdev Singh Kahlon. The team spent several hours in the house and searched it thoroughly. The DSP refused to give details saying only his seniors were the competent to do so.

Mr Rajwant Singh is close to the Garcha family. He is a business partner of Mr Mann Singh Garcha.


SDM’s police remand extended
Our Correspondent

Kharar, October 22
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate here, today extended till October 24 the police remand of a Punjab Civil Services officer, Jagir Singh, at present posted as the Subdivisional Magistrate at Malout.

Jagir Singh was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau in a case of issuing of fake arms licences during his posting at Amritsar. Earlier he was remanded in police custody till today by the court on October 19.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecuter, and Mr Bhulla Singh, DSP, Vigilance, appeared in the court today and pleaded for a 10-day police remand of the accused.

They informed the court that they had got information from the accused about 48 persons who had been issued arms licences by him. They said he had “misplaced” the files in collusion with the other accused.

The accused, in connivance with two other PCS officers, Arvinderpal Singh Sandhu and L.D. Hans, issued arms licences to those who were not even bona fide residents of Amritsar district, they added.

A case has been registered against the three officers by the bureau at SAS Nagar.


16,000 ‘bogus’ old-age pensioners in dist
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 21
Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Minister for Social Security and Welfare of SCs and BCs, has said that more than 16,000 old-age pensioners were found to be “bogus” in a survey conducted in the district. Talking to The Tribune, he said about 1.16 lakh old-age pensioners were drawing the benefit in the district and surveys had been conducted in the entire state to remove corruption from the scheme.

He said two District Social Security Officers (DSSOs), Mrs Jaygee and Mr Iqbal Singh from Patiala and Sangrur, respectively, had already been suspended and more were likely to face the axe after inquiries were completed.

Meanwhile, Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, in a letter to Chaudhry Santokh Singh, has drawn his attention to a Class I officer, named in the Rs 23 crore old-age pension scam, against whom no action has been taken, despite suspension of 11 officials after the exposure.


VB raid on ETO’s house
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 22
Kishan Chand Rajoura, Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO), Ferozepore, was arrested from his house here today by the Vigilance Bureau (VB) for amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The Vigilance team led by the DSP searched the house in the presence of witneses, including Rajoura’s neighbours.

He allegedly has property worth Rs 35 lakh in his name or in the name of his family members, according to Vigilance sources.

The sources said the ETO had also given some money to a private company and earned interest to the tune of lakh. There were several bank accounts in his name and the members of his family.

Later the Vigilance team opened the lockers of Rajoura and seized gold jewellery. About 90 tolas of gold were seized.

Twentyfive tolas were seized from his residence.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), said the ETO had been booked under the Prevention of Corporation Act.


Notice to 2 sons of ex-minister
Fake arms licences case

Ferozepore, October 22
The District Magistrate has served show cause notices on two sons of former BJP minister Surjit Kumar Jiani on finding that they had been issued firearms licences when they were allegedly underaged.

Confirming it, DM D.K. Tewari told UNI today the notices were issued 10-12 days ago when they found Jagdeep and Navdeep were underaged in 1999 when they were issued firearms licences.

It is significant that Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, who is under investigation for having allegedly given security clearance for the issue of thousands of fake firearms licences during his four-year tenure as district police chief, was the SSP then. The DM has already cancelled 3743 fake firearms licences, including 12 issued on a address care of the SSP, Ferozepore, issued during the tenure of the ex-police officer, perceived to be close to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. Pherurai, who was arrested on October 15 in a case of disproportionate assets, is in Jagraon police’s custody which booked him.

The DM said when files of the wards of the ex-minister in the erstwhile Badal government came to him for certain additions sought by the applicants, he found they were not 21 years of age when licences were issued to them in 1999. UNI


Pherurai’s lockers searched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Sleuths of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today opened two bank lockers of former SSP Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, who is facing charges of corruption. The sleuths seized a FD receipt valuing about Rs 7 lakh, besides three sets of gold ear rings and two sets of gold necklaces from the lockers of Pherurai in a Punjab and Sind Bank branch here, Vigilance Bureau sources said here.

The search was carried out in the presence of Pherurai.

Pherurai was arrested by the Punjab police on October 15 for allegedly amassing wealth to the tune of Rs 15 crore by corrupt practices.

Pherurai said he would not become approver against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal in any case. “I have not committed any sin and would not turn approver against Mr Badal. I have not met the former Chief Minister for the past eight months”, he said.

Pherurai’s advocates said Rs 7 lakh was deposited in the bank upon his retirement.


Pherurai case: police to seek production warrant
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 22
The police has decided to seek production warrant of Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, former SSP, in a case of graft registered against him.

A senior police official said the warrant was mandatory for police to bring him to Mamdot for preliminary investigations as Pherurai was already under the police remand of the Jagraon police.


Conference on e-governance in city
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
The Punjab Government has taken a major initiative in the field of IT by playing host to the sixth national conference on e-governance to be held here on October 24 and 25. It is likely to give a big boost to the image of the state as an IT savvy state, said Mr N.S. Kalsi, Managing Director, Punjab Information & Communication Technology Corporation, here today.

He disclosed that the annual event would be jointly organised by the state government, the Union Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, the Central Government and leading IT companies. The state secretaries and directors of IT from all the states, and heads of the e-governance projects in the central departments were likely to participate in the conference. About 60 representatives from Oracle, Quark, Intel, Microsoft, CISCO, IBM and other companies would also attend the conference which would be inaugurated by Capt Amarinder Singh.


Eyes of 5 deceased donated after mishap
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, October 22
Five members of a family were killed in a road accident on October 16. The tragedy could not deter the survivor, Mr Kushwant Rai, from doing his utmost for those who had been waiting for donors of eyes to receive the gift of seeing the world.

Though Mr Rai saw death in its goriest form as the mutilated bodies of his kin lay on the Muktsar-Malout road near Chak Doha village on October 16, he made sure that a doctor from Sirsa reached the local Civil Hospital for removing the eyes from the bodies for donations before the post-mortem examinations.

Mr Rai even helped the doctor in removing the eyes of the deceased, including his mother Dawarki Devi (68), brother Nirmal Kumar (48), sisters Pasho Devi (46) and Parmila (34) and the driver of car Thomas (20).

Within seven hours of the tragedy, the doctor, who had come to remove the eyes, was on his way back to Sirsa to transplant the eyes into the patients. Mr Rai was instrumental in donating nine eyes as one of the eyes of his mother was damaged in the accident. Shops were closed on October 7 at Faridkot town, to which the victims belonged, for a few hours as a mark of respect to the departed souls.

Mr Des Raj Singla, brother of Dawarki Devi, while talking to TNS said the car, in which six members of the family were travelling, dashed against three trees and rolled twice on the road at about 1.55 pm near Chak Doha village on October 16. The family was returning to Faridkot after attending the bhog ceremony of a relative.

He added that Ms Kanta Rani, wife of the deceased Nirmal Kumar, was severely injured in the accident. She was under treatment at DMC Hospital at Ludhiana.


Shortage of potable water resented
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 22
The supply of drinking water to the city has been reduced resulting in great inconvenience to the local residents. Most of the residents had got their handpumps removed as the sub-soil water in the district is not fit for human consumption.

Inquiries revealed that the supply of water to the Moosa branch, which supplies water to the water works had been suspended for the cleaning of the distributary. There is little water in the reservoir of the waterworks. Officials of the sewerage and water supply board have not taken any steps in this regard. An official of the board said the supply of the water to the city would be resumed after the release of the water in the canal distributary.


Sharad Utsav concludes
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 22
A three-day concert, Sharad Utsav, organised by the Kapurthala Heritage Society in memory of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia at the local Jagatjit Palace concluded last night.

Renowned flautist Pt Hari Prasad Chaurasia and Manjari Asanare Kelkar enthralled the audience with their compositions.

On the invitation of Brig Sukhjit Singh erstwhile of the royal family of Kapurthala, who is also the chief patron of the Kapurthala heritage society, Mr Bernard de Montferrand, French Ambassador, to India, also attended the concert.

Welcoming the French Ambassador in the French language, Brig Sukhjit Singh said, Kapurthala had got a close connection with France.


CM felicitates people
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 22
Capt Amarinder Singh today felicitated the people of Punjab on the eve of the ‘aagman purb’ of Guru Ram Dass Ji — fourth Guru of the Sikhs.

In a message the Chief Minister said Guru Ram Dass preached brotherhood and mutual tolerance and his teachings were still relevant. He composed 638 hymns in 30 ragas (Asa, Basanti, Gauri, Majh, Ram Kali and Suhi) and established Amritsar (city of nectar).


Nagar kirtan held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 22
On the occasion of the eve of Parkash Utsav of Guru Ram Dass, a palanquin carrying Guru Granth Sahib, and led by the Panj Piaras, made the rounds of the city. The nagar kirtan started from Akal Takht. Sikh religious organisations, societies, jathas, parties and students participated in large numbers. An aircraft showered petals on the procession.

A kirtan, katha, poetry and other competitions were held at gurdwara Diwan Hall Manji Sahib in which the students participated.


Animal welfare camp today
Our correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 22
The district Animal and Husbandry Department will organise an animal welfare-cum-awareness camp at Chunni Kalan village tomorrow.

According to Dr Sushil Khullar, president, Punjab State Veterinary Officers Association, during the camp animals will be examined and treated free of cost.

Besides this, farmers will be imparted knowledge about the management of animals and production of green fodder in a scientific way. The camp is being sponsored by the State Bank of Patiala, Chunni Kalan branch.


Bid to ‘kidnap’ doctor
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 22
Two scooter-borne youths tried to kidnap Dr Kuldeep Singh Chug from his residence today. However, the police has yet to lodge a report in this regard. Mr Kewal Kumar SP (HQ), said as the kidnappers were not carrying any weapon, it could not be called kidnapping.

Dr Chug said someone knocked his door in the wee hours but upon enquiry, he observed something was wrong.

He tried to shut the door but the kidnapper dragged him to the road where his accomplice was waiting for them on the scooter. There was a scuffle and he managed to escape.


Holiday today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 22
The District Magistrate, Mr S.S. Puri, has announced a holiday tomorrow on the occasion of Parkash Utsav of Guru Ram Dass. This was stated in a press note today.


Ex-SHO, 3 others booked
Tribune News Service

Fazilka, October 22
The police has registered a criminal case against Kirpal Singh, former SHO of Fazilka police station, and three others following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court for torturing and keeping Manjit Singh Shah, alias Murli, local Congress leader, in illegal confinement in 2000.

According to the FIR, there was a minor scuffle between Shah and Sushil Jairath on May 7, 2000, following which the police picked up Shah, allegedly under political pressure.

Shah was reportedly tortured on the night of May 7. The next day his supporters called for a bandh. The police was forced to release Shah who was then admitted to the Civil Hospital.

The then DSP, Mr Ajay Maluja, had recommended the suspension of the SHO. However, the SHO managed to get reinstated and was transferred to Khuian Sarvar police station.

Shah then moved the State Human Rights Commission and the high court. The commission announced a relief of Rs 50,000 in its judgement. On October 16, 2002, the high court ordered the registration of a criminal case against the accused. The police has booked Kirpal Singh, Sushil Jairath, Ashok Jairath, husband of counsellor Anita Jairath, and Vikas Mahendru, a transporter.


UGC chief’s advice on PSC selections
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 22
The University Grants Commission (UGC) Chairman, Mr P.C. Hota, today advocated amending the Articles of the Constitution governing the appointment of the state Public Service Commissions, suggesting that future selection of members and chairman of the commissions could be made from a panel recommended by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).

Talking to TNS here today after presiding over the inaugural function of a national integration seminar, Mr Hota said this would entail amending Article 316 of the Constitution, which said the chairman and members of the state commissions would be appointed by the respective Governors.

He said the state Chief Minister could make such a recommendation to the Governor. He said a high-level committee could also be constituted for the purpose.

Mr Hota said in the 76-year history of the UPSC, there had not been even a single case of impartiality towards any candidate.

Regarding the expected changes in the examination system of the UPSC, he said the Alagh Committee had submitted its recommendations to the government. He said the committee had toured the entire country to evole a consensus on the issue of reviewing the Civil Services Selection process. He said the recommendations had been submitted five month ago and were under the consideration of the Union Government.

He said the UPSC was continously streamlining the selection process with the candidates being allowed to take the examination in any of the 18 recognised languages of the country.

Mr Hota said the UGC was ensuring the timely declaration of results despite several constraints.


Students to fight drug menace
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 22
Nearly 50 per cent of the police in this region was part of the drug/narcotics nexus during the SAD-BJP rule. This was alleged by district Congress president Sajjan Kumar Jakhar today. He was addressing a rally at Ramsara village, 10 km from here.

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