Saturday, October 26, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC poll: Centre keeping tabs on situation
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), October 25
Apprehending threat to peace in Punjab, the Centre has told to keep watch on the situation which has been changing fast as tension has been building up with the election for the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee office-bearers draws near.

The Centre has also been scanning intelligence reports on the law and order situation, under threat due to alleged reign of terror against members of the SGPC by police personnel.

Union Chemical and Fertiliser minister and secretary general, SAD, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Sukhbir Badal, also SAD general secretary indicating that the Centre might intervene to check disorder if the Congress tried to install its man as SGPC chief.

They added that SGPC members loyal to the SAD (Badal) might move the Punjab and Haryana High Court in respect of state terrorism against them. They said the matter had also been brought to the notice of the Centre. “We will face excesses of the Congress government but we will enter the Golden Temple Complex with the ‘sangat’ for participating peacefully in the SGPC election,” they said when asked how SAD leadership would react if the Congress government tried to stop SGPC members from entering Golden Temple Complex to participate in SGPC elections.

“How can the Congress government stop thousands of Akalis from entering the Golden Temple Complex to pay obeisance. No government can suppress peoples power,” said Mr Dhindsa. The Congress government earlier brought black days’ in Punjab by interfering into the religious matters of the Sikhs. It was playing the same game again.”

Mr Dhindsa and Mr Badal, who were here today along with other senior leaders to attend the Bhog ceremony of grandmother of Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, MLA, Joga, said that the party would take action against those who had joined hands with the Congress and become toadies of party. They dubbed the creation of the 23-member committee by Chairman, Mandi Karan Board, Mal Singh Ghuman in connection with SGPC election a drama and alleged that Mr Ghuman was in league with the Congress before Assembly election so that the Congress could form government in Punjab.

The SAD will win SGPC election and Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, who has joined hands with former speaker, Ravi Inder Singh and former SGPC chief, Gurcharan Singh Tohra, will not be able to stop people from entering the Golden Temple Complex. Mr Amarinder Singh will not be able to divide the Sikhs, claimed Mr Badal.

He alleged that the Chief Minister had betrayed all sections of society, including traders, farmers, industrialists and employees. Mr Amarinder Singh now was trying to interfere into religious affairs of the Sikhs, he added.


Ghuman revolts against Badal

Jalandhar, October 25
Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former general-secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) Mal Singh Ghuman today revolted against the leadership of the party supremo and former chief-Minister Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Ghuman, who occupied the post of Chairman, Punjab Mandi Board, during the tenure of the SAD-BJP coalition government, accused Mr Badal of interfering in the affairs of Akal Takht, the highest temporal and spiritual seat of the Sikhs. “The authority of the SGPC was undermined during the regime of Mr Badal,” he added. Replying to a query, Mr Ghuman said he had not aligned with any particular Akali faction and was committed to Sikh traditions. “I am not afraid of any disciplinary action,’’, he added.

Mr Ghuman made this statement to the press after meeting Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala, president of the Akali Dal (Democratic). Besides Mr Ghuman other members of the SGPC present at the meeting were Mr Sital Singh, Mr Kishan Singh, Mr Kaur Singh, Mr Dhian Singh and Mr Baljit Singh.

Mr Ghuman is a contender for the SGPC post of president.

According to reports, he held a meeting of 10 SGPC members at Anandpur Sahib last week to solicit their support for the November 12 SGPC annual presidential poll. He admitted having met Mr Tohra and senior SAD leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi on the SGPC poll issue. He also admitted having met SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann. UNI


Mann harps on Sikh homeland
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Malerkotla, October 25
The chief of the SAD (A), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who was thought to have softened his political stance after being elected to the Lok Sabha from Sangrur during which he projected himself as a moderate leader today chose a segment of the same constituency to reaffirm that he always stood for an independent Sikh homeland and would support the breakaway faction of SGPC members led by Mr Mal Singh Ghuman only if they showed their willingness to support a 1946 SGPC resolution voicing the same demand.

Mr Mann, who was here to take part in a dharna-cum-rally held in front of the office of the SDM here, made it clear while talking to TNS after the rally that his party had never withdrawn from its sand for an independent Sikh homeland. He also made it clear that his support could not be taken for granted by the breakaway SGPC faction following a meeting of faction leaders with him recently. He said the members of the faction had been told of the 1946 resolution filed by Balwant Singh Kukar, calling for an independent Sikh homeland, and that his party would support the group in the election to the post of the SGPC President. 


SGPC committee meets Mrs Barnala
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The seven-member core committee of the SGPC met Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala, wife of former Punjab Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala, here today in connection with the election of the SGPC President.

Mrs Surjit Kaur has appreciated the initiative taken by the committee. When asked whether she would support the candidate put up by the Tohra camp or that of the SAD she said Mr Barnala could only answer this question. But as Mr Barnala was now holding the office of Governor, he could not take part in active politics as per protocol.

The committee has been meeting various senior Akali leaders to rid the SGPC of political control and to find a candidate acceptable to all. Mr Hardeep Singh Mohali, one of the members of the committee, said the committee would meet Mr Tohra tomorrow and Mr Parkash Singh Badal later.

However, it may be mentioned that Mr Badal has already rejected the committee, saying that neither he nor his party has authorised Mr Mal Singh Ghuman, convener of the committee, to take up any assignment with regard to the SGPC election. However, Mr Ghuman, said that he was very much part of the SAD. In the past, Mr Badal used to select the candidate for presidentship of the SGPC. “But I want that the decision to select or elect the President should be left to the members of the SGPC”. Mr Tohra also met Mrs Barnala today.

Mr Hardeep Singh said a religious person should be made President of the SGPC and political interference in its affairs should be minimised. Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala, a senior Akali leader, has also supported the move of the committee.


Vigilance probes PSEB purchase
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, October 25
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) vigilance has begun an inquiry into the purchase of boltless fire wedge connectors by certain officials of the board. A team of PSEB vigilance led by the ADGP, Mr Lalit Bhatia, visited the Anandpur Sahib hydel project to inquire about the boltless fire wedge connectors purchased by the board in 1999.

The team collected samples and sealed the records regarding the purchase.

Highly placed sources told this correspondent that the PSEB vigilance is inquiring into the alleged misappropriation committed by certain board officials in the Rs 60 lakh purchase of connectors. The connectors were allegedly purchased for improving transmission in the switchboards of the Anandpur Sahib and Mukerian hydel power projects.

However, the hurried manner in which the purchase was made aroused the suspicions of the vigilance officials. The decision to replace the bolt-type terminal connectors with boltless fire wedge connectors was taken by the generation coordination committee of the board on April 10, 2000. Immediately after the then Chief Engineer (Hydel) went ahead with the purchase of connectors despite the fact their no budget was sanctioned for the purchase.

The amounts of Rs 39.99 lakh and Rs 18.86 lakh kept for the maintenance of the Mukerian and Anandpur Sahib hydel projects were used for the purchase of the connectors.

The budget for the purchase was, in fact, sanctioned seven months after the purchase of the connectors.

The connectors were purchased by the board from Impact India, a Delhi-based firm, at a cost of Rs 1600 per piece, three times the cost of ordinary bolted connectors.

The firm has since changed its name to Tyco Electronics. The firm had given an undertaking to the board that it was the sole manufacturer of the product in the country.

However, recent inquiries by the vigilance officials reveal that certain parts of the connectors bear the marking of “made in Canada”.

The vigilance has constituted a team of experts to certify the assertion of the board officials who affected the purchase that the new connectors reduced transmission losses.

The ADGP, Vigilance, Mr Lalit Bhatia, who was at Anandpur Sahib yesterday, when contacted, refused to comment.


PSEB signs purchase pact with NJPC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 25
The PSEB yesterday signed a power purchase agreement (PPA) with Nathpa Jhakri Power Corporation Limited for the purchase of power for 35 years from the date of operation of its project in Himachal Pradesh.

A PSEB press note here said the allocation of power would be decided by the Ministry of Power while the tariff would be notified by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission. The PSEB claimed that the tariff was estimated to be in the range of Rs 3 per unit.

The PSEB has finalised a tripartite agreement among the Union Government, the Reserve Bank of India and the Punjab Government which will serve as a payment security mechanism. It has said it is willing to purchase up to 40 per cent of power from the NJPC project. Besides, the board has offered to accept the power share of any other state electricity board or other utility which did not avail of it. This power will be surrendered to the board as a permanent allocation.

The press note, however, claimed that the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission would decide the final allocation and that the PSEB was likely to get an allocation of around 10 per cent of the power generated by the project against the offer to buy 40 per cent of power. This 10 per cent share would add up to 695 million units per year, he added.

The NJPC project is located on the Sutlej, about 140 km from Shimla, and comprises a concrete cavity dam which is 62.5 metres high, tunnels which are 27.4 km in length and an underground power house which is the single largest underground hydro power house in the country. The NJPC has a “design energy” of 6,950 million units out of which 12 per cent is to be supplied free of cost to Himachal Pradesh and the balance 88 per cent to the Central Government. The construction was started in 1993-94 but the commissioning was delayed due to unprecedented flash floods in the Sutlej in August 1997 and July 2000.

The press note claimed the tariff of the NJPC was envisaged to be more competitive than other comparable projects such as the Tehri in Uttaranchal and Baspa in Himachal Pradesh. It said whereas the tariff of thermal stations increased with time due to hikes in fuel and railway freight charges, the tariff of hydro stations reduced gradually with time as the loans were repaid and the interest component got reduced to zero over a period of 10 to 12 years.


PSEB revises tariff from Aug 1
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 25
Complying with Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission orders on power tariff for 2002-2003 the tariff rates for various categories of consumers have been revised by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) from August 1 this year.

An official release here revealed that monthly minimum charges at the current level have not been changed, for all categories and domestic consumers belonging to the SC category with connected load up to 300 watts will be given 50 units of power per month free of cost in view of the government subsidy.

In the domestic category tariff (P/Kwh) of Rs 1.88 per unit will be applicable up to 100 units. For 101 units to 300 units tariff rate of Rs 3.16 per unit and above 300 units Rs 3.51 per unit will be applicable. In the non-residential category Rs 4.05 per unit will be charged. The same tariff is applicable to public lighting also.

Irrigation tubewells without government subsidy will be charged Rs 2/Kwh or Rs 212/BHP/month while irrigation tubewells with government subsidy will be charged 57 paise or Rs 60/BHP/month. The government will pay subsidy of Rs 100 crore over and above the subsidy of Rs 800 crore. In the case of industrial supply consumers falling under Small Power category will be charged Rs 3.05 per unit while Medium Supply category will be charged Rs 3.46 per unit. Under the Large Supply category all three sub-categories namely General Industry, PIU and Arc Furnace will be charged at the rate of Rs 3.55 per unit.

The PSEB has also come up with “One Time Settlement Scheme” to recover arrears of crores from sick and shut down units in the state and to help revival of industrial connections. The board claims that the scheme with two-pronged effect will also benefit industrialists keen on reviving sick units. At a Lok Adalat held recently by the PSEB of 16 sick units which had applied for reconnection and settlement of dues of Rs 15.5 crore were settled. The board agreed to allow reconnections under the easy economic package scheme.

A second Lok Adalat of the PSEB to settle similar cases will be held in the third week of November. The Chief Engineer, PSEB, will invite applications from sick units.

RTP unit closed due to leakage
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 25
Unit number four of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) was closed following a leakage in the boiler of the unit late last night, leading to a loss of 50 lakh units of generation.

Sources said with the closure of the unit, now only four units of the plant were generating power as unit number one of the plant had already been closed over a month ago for maintenance.

The sources said due to the closure of unit number four, one hour additional power cut might be imposed on domestic consumers.

Mr V.K. Mohindroo, General Manager of the plant, said the unit would start generating power by tomorrow night while unit number one would start functioning on October 30.


Farmer in debt, commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, October 25
Living under heavy debt and poor economic conditions, Amarjit Singh (38), a young farmer of Chahal village, 5 km from here, committed suicide at his house yesterday. He has left behind two sons and a widow.

According to reports available, Mr Guruditta Singh, father of the deceased, took a loan of more than Rs 1 lakh from a local nationalised bank in 1992 to purchase a tractor and other equipment for cultivating his land. However, owing to the infertile condition of the land, he could not repay the loan. In view of the financial condition of the family and for improving the fertility of the land, Mr Guruditta Singh took more loans from different sources to the tune of nearly Rs 8 lakh. His efforts, however, proved futile creating complications for the family.

Confirming the facts, Mr Guruditta Singh told this reporter at Chahal village today that because of non-payment of a loan, the authorities of a bank got orders for the attachment of his property which scared the deceased, Amarjit Singh. Mr Guruditta Singh said due to the poor financial condition of the family, the deceased could not give education to his two sons Chamkaur Singh and Harjinder Singh aged 17 and 11, respectively. Mr Guruditta Singh has appealed to the Punjab Government to waive his loans besides giving compensation to the bereaved family.

Expressing shock over the incident, Mr Sewak Singh sarpanch of the village, said most of the 150 farmers’ families in the village belonged to the small and marginal category having about 10 acres of land. Almost all of them were living under heavy debts due to poor crops during the past three to five years. 


Pbi varsity divests Khehra of charge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 25
The Punjabi University authorities today divested Dr Paramjit Singh Khehra, who had been functioning from his residence for the past five years after an accident, of his charge as Controller of Examinations of the university.

According to information, this order was passed by Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai today. The order, however, did not state why Dr Khehra had been divested of the charge of holding the examinations of the university. The Vice Chancellor simultaneously passed an order appointing Dr Baldev Singh as Professor Incharge of Examinations.

Dr Khehra said he did not know why the charge had been withdrawn from him. He, however, disclosed that he had not submitted any request asking that the charge be withdrawn from him.

The Registrar, Dr K.S. Sidhu, said an attempt was being made to “correct” the functioning of the university. He said the issue was that of a complete overhual of the system and setting it right, adding that this had resulted in divesting Dr Khehra of his responsibilities.

He said it was felt by the authorities that Dr Khehra could not be allowed to operate from his residence. He said it was felt that when the Head of the Department did not sit in his office, it could not be managed properly. He claimed that results were also getting late due to this, but declined to say anything when asked if there was any specific complaint against Dr Khehra.

Dr Khehra had been functioning as Controller of Examinations since 1988 and had gained the confidence of successive Vice-Chancellors, none of whom divested him of this responsibility even when he met with an accident in 1997.


Eviction notices to 50-odd Sikh families
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
For the 50-odd Sikh families of Sindri in Dhanbad, if the 1984 riots were a nightmare then the recent Union Cabinet decision of disinvestment in fertiliser companies may be the worst catastrophe for them.

“The mental and physical trauma we underwent during the 1984 riots is nothing compared to the eviction notices served on us by the Fertiliser Corporation of India to submit the voluntary separation scheme papers by December 20. The Fertiliser Corporation of India has issued a circular to make alternative arrangements before vacating the piece of land in and around the gurdwara as well as the residential complex of the Sikh families,” says Mr Sewa Singh, President of the Shri Guru Nanak Singh Sabha.

“We have been living in Sindri for almost half a century now. And now we face eviction for no fault of ours,” he says.

“Even what we underwent in 1984 could not force us to leave the place. Before 1984, there were 200-odd families here. As many as 150 families, who suffered heavily in the anti-sikh riots moved to various places in Punjab and elsewhere but we stayed back. Now an executive order intends to uproot us and make us homeless because the government has decided either to close down the Sindri plant or privatise it. Unfortunately, Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa belongs to the Shiromani Akali Dal, a political party basically representing Sikhs. “We have been approaching all Sikh MPs for help as we all face uncertain future,” said Mr Sewa Singh.

A delegation of the sabha also met Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP and President of the Lok Bhalai Party. “The government had by a special agreement settled the Sikh families in Sindri.”

“I have written a letter to the Chief Minister of Jharkhand, Mr Babu Lal Marandi, to intervene and prevent these Sikh families from being uprooted . I have requested him that these families should be suitably rehabilitated in a nearby area so that they could continue to pursue their careers there. Further, these families are emotionally attached to the Sikh gurdwara there which again should not be relocated. A senior officer may be specially deputed to look into the grievances of these families,” said Mr Ramoowalia.


An escape from police torture
Vimal Sumbly
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 25
A labourer working in the canteen of the Hero DMC Heart Centre, was allegedly subjected to severe torture and subsequently kept in illegal confinement by the police for over three months.

The employees union of the Dayanand Medical College and Hospital produced the canteen labourer identified as Mr Rajinder Kumar, before newsmen late in the evening. He was allegedly kept in solitary confinement by the police till yesterday, after he suffered a fracture during police interrogation.

Mr Rajinder Kumar, hailing from Nepal, was working in the canteen of Hero DMC Heart Centre. He said on July 13, when a violent confrontation broke out between the police and the striking employees of the DMC, he was preparing food in the canteen. A group of policemen dragged him away to Sadar police station. This fact was corroborated by some employees of the DMC, who said they had seen him at Sadar police station. But they did not know where he was taken after that.

Mr Rajinder Kumar alleged that he was taken away by two persons from there, whom he identified as Atul and Dinesh, to Sahnewal police station. There he was kept for three days. As he had suffered a fracture in one of his legs, he was brought by the duo to the CMC, where he was kept for a couple of days. Later, the two shifted him to Dholewal and kept him with a family.

He claimed that he was tortured in custody. He could not think of escaping since he had a fractured limb. He was given food twice by the family, whom he could not identify. He said, he identified the two persons as Atul and Dinesh as they were addressed by the family members by these names.

Once he got an opportunity to telephone his son that he was being kept in confinement at a house in Dholewal. His son contacted the employees’ union. The union members, including its president, Mr Chandermohan Kalia, his son and some others went to Dholewal and located the house. However, nobody was prepared to let them in.

The union members then approached the police. Surprisingly the police officials reportedly told the union members that Rajinder Kumar could be released only if he was ready to return to Nepal as he could not be allowed to join the services in DMC canteen for obvious reasons. Mr Rajinder Kumar managed to convince the police that he would not tell anyone about his torture and confinement. He told them that they could release him and hand over him to his brother who was running a dhaba near the CMC hospital. The police accordingly handed him to his brother.

Today, the union members held a press conference and demanded action against the guilty cops. They also pointed out that it justified their case of police torture and excesses. They have also sought compensation for the victim as he lost over three months of wages, besides suffering the trauma and agony.


Rotary’s child labour project
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
The problem of child labour has assumed alarming proportions. To tackle this social evil the Rotary Club Amritsar South in collaboration with the Government of India has taken the initiative to raise the level of education of these children so that they can be absorbed into the mainstream.

To motivate the parents of these working children, a National Child Labour Project was introduced by the Central Government whereby a scheme was evolved to ensure the education of these children for at least three hours a day in the afternoon so that a conflict with their normal working hours is avoided.

This project was taken up in collaboration with the Amritsar Rotary Clubs, which are running seven schools with the capacity of 50 students each. According to Mr Upkar Singh Sethi, District Secretary of the Rotary International 3070 comprising major parts of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu & Kashmir, these schools are also being run in Jalandhar and Ludhiana as well in complete co-ordination with the local Rotary Clubs. Each school is provided with a financial help of Rs 1.6 lakh per year which includes honorarium for teachers.

To ensure that these otherwise employed children are motivated enough to attend these schools, they are provided with a monthly cash stipend of Rs 100 per month and are provided with free books and other educational material. They are also provided with daily diet.

Rotary also arranges free uniforms, school bags, shoes, etc.

Mr Darshan Singh, President of the Rotary Club, added that Rotary was keeping a regular vigil on the day-to-day running of these schools. The club also organises periodic medical camps with the help of its own members doctors. To give a complete humane and personal touch the member of the club celebrate festivals like Lohri and Divali with these children.


Home Guard job for Beant witnesses
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Nearly seven years after Punjab’s Chief Minister Beant Singh was killed in a bomb blast, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the prime witnesses in the case should be recruited as Home Guard volunteers.

Issuing the directions, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, further directed that the two — painter Surinder Sharma and mechanic Balwinder Singh — should be given the job within seven days — before Divali. The Judges observed that prima facie Surinder Sharma appeared to be the first informant in the case.

Earlier during the proceedings, counsel for the Chandigarh Administration told the court that there were no jobs available. Regarding the progress of the case, counsel for the Central Bureau of Investigation told the Court that out of 426 prosecution witnesses, 189 witnesses had been examined till date in the assassination case.

According to the prosecution, Sharma had painted a grey Ambassador car, allegedly purchased from New Delhi by an accused in the case, for the commission of the offence.

The car, as per the prosecution story, was recovered from the spot soon after the explosion in which the former CM was killed. The vehicle had later led to the identification of the accused and their subsequent arrest. Sharma, in his petition, had alleged that the award, promised to the person providing information in the case, had not been handed over to him.

The former CM, it may be recalled, was killed in an explosion on August 31, 1995. While the believed-to-be human bomb died in the blast, the other accused in the case are facing trial. According to sources, more than 130 prosecution witnesses have been examined by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

Contempt case

Taking up the Hindustan Times contempt of court case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday granted correspondent Manish Tiwari time for engaging the services of counsel.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, also asked Punjab’s Advocate-General to assist the Court in defining the scope and meaning of the word “publication”. The Judges also fixed November 14 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The High Court had earlier taken serious view of the matter after another reporter Maneesh Chibber reached the residence of a High Court Judge for enquiring about raids that were never conducted. Taking up the case, the Bench had asked the Advocates-General of Punjab and Haryana to assist the Court in the matter. The Judges had also held that the issue was of far reaching significance as far as the independence of the judiciary, besides the fair functioning of the system pertaining to the administration of justice, was concerned.


Procession against drug use
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, October 25
Sankalp, an NGO, held a “jaago” procession in the city last evening to spread awareness about the menace of drugs.

“The aim of the procession is to create awareness among residents regarding drug abuse which has become a matter of concern in Malwa, office-bearers of the NGO said.

Mr Vijay Goyal, patron of the NGO, said the purpose behind the campaign was to convey the anti-drug message through a medium that would appeal to the masses”.

Volunteers of Sahara Jan Sewa, parent organisation of Sankalp, also accompanied the procession. They were holding placards with anti-drug slogans. They also distributed pamphlets at a camp organised by the Civil Hospital authorities for the benefit of addicts.

Mr Tak Chand of Sankalp said no VIP was invited to flag off the procession as they wanted to make it people’s affair. He said the participation of people was more important than that of bureaucrats.

He said they would organise such programmes and also help those who wanted to quit drugs. Volunteers of the NGO were helping addicts at the de-addiction centre of the local Civil Hospital.

He said apart from such programmes, they were planning to expose those who were selling narcotics and illegal liquor, besides chemists who sold banned tablets and syrups without prescription.

Mr Goyal said the help of religious and social organisations would be taken to make the campaign a success.


Judicial remand for Garcha
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 25
Duty Magistrate Mandeep Pannu today sent former Technical Education Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha and Director (Outreach) of the (PTU) A.S. Grewal, amid judicial custody till November 8.

They had been produced in court in tight security this afternoon even as the supporters of Garcha, who had assembled outside the court, were raising anti-government slogans. The court ordered the police to produce the accused on November 8.


Ardas march on Oct 27
Tribune, News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
Khalsa panchayats of Chandigarh, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar, Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar, Malout, Nawanshahr, Ropar and Anandpur will take out the second ardas march on October 27 to press for the resignation of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti and Takht Keshgarh Sahib Jethedar Manjit Singh.

The congregation for the march would gather at Gurdwara Lohgarh Sahib and proceed to Takht Keshgarh Sahib at Anandpur, Khalsa panchayat convenor Rajinder Singh said in a press note here today.

The next programme at Amritsar would be announced later, he said. The panchayat is demanding the resignation of the two Sikh high priests.

Lawyers observe strike

Kharar, October 25
Over one hundred practicing lawyers in Kharar judicial courts complex yesterday observed a complete strike against the recent amendments in the Civil Procedure Court (CPC).

The strike was observed on the call given by Kharar Bar Association (KBA).

Claiming that the strike call has evoked a total response in Kharar, besides other parts of Punjab and Haryana, KBA general secretary Devinder Kumar Vattas said a special meeting of the KBA today resolved to convene a special convention of representatives from all Bar Associations across Punjab and Chandigarh here shortly to chalk out the further course of action against the recent CPC amendments.

The date of the convention was, however, yet to be decided, he disclosed.

Reports of lawyers’ strike have also been received from Roopnagar, Fatehgarh Sahib and Rajpura as the KBA appealed to all Bar Associations across Punjab and Haryana to show solidarity with it and ensure complete response to the strike call. UNI


Chemical Examiner assumes charge
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 25
The Chief Medical Officer, Dr DC Sharma, yesterday took over as Chief Chemical Examiner of the State Forensic Chemical Laboratory here.

The Forensic Chemical Laboratory here is the sole lab in the state where analysis of the human poison cases, including deaths due to suspected poisoning, is done. During the last two years the reputation of the lab had been tarnished with doctors posted there landing in the Vigilance Bureau net or were facing departmental probes.

Several leaders of the PCMS Association, including Dr DS Bhullar, Dr Harish Malhotra and Dr Yadvinder Singh Banga, were present to welcome Dr Sharma when he took over his new posting. Dr Sharma said he would work with honesty and dedication to restore the old glory of the institution.


Preneet exhorts religious tolerance
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 25
Patiala MP Preneet Kaur has urged politicians to take bold decisions to safeguard diversities of different cultures, as well as inculcate the feeling of religious tolerance among people.

Speaking at the valedictory function of a national seminar on ‘National Integration and Communal Harmony’, organised at the Punjabi University here, Ms Preneet Kaur said communal clashes were becoming the bane of the Indian society and had impaired the very edifice of secularism on which the foundation of the country was laid. She appealed to the media to be cautious against spreading the seeds of communal discord and disharmony.

In his presidential address, Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai emphasised the need of communal harmony. While criticising the previous government for its “inefficient and corrupt governance”, Mr Boparai stressed upon the need of rising above caste, class and religion.

Appreciating the present government’s policy of exposing the “conspiracy of the corrupt”, which he claimed had destroyed the very fibre of the country’s polity, he said the country did not need empty slogans or personal vanities but a visionary government with firmly chalked out priorities on national integration.

Earlier, welcoming the chief guest and other delegates, varsity Pro Vice-Chancellor R.N. Pal appreciated delegates who had come from all over the country and abroad.

An exhibition of books, periodicals and manuscripts was organised at the university library on the occasion.

As many as 14 scholars presented their papers during the seminar. Dr H.S. Deol and Mr Ranbir Singh chaired the two sessions, Registrar K.S. Sindhu proposed the vote of thanks.



NRIs ready to set up projects
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 25
A group of 40 NRIs from Canada, the USA and the UK met Mr D.S. Bains, Commissioner, NRIs, Punjab, here today. The group, led by Mr Lakhbir Singh Gill, has expressed its desire to contribute for the economic and social development of the state.

Mr Gill told Mr Bains that the NRIs were prepared to set up various projects in Punjab to expand its employment base. The NRIs felt there was need for making efforts to improve educational facilities in the state. Mr Bains told members of the group about the resolution passed by the Cabinet setting up a separate department to deal with the affairs of the NRIs, including property disputes. Mr Bains intimated the NRIs that the Union Government had also set up a high-level committee under the chairmanship of Mr L.M. Singhvi to deal with the affairs of NRIs at the national level.


Over 12 jaundice cases reported
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 25
More than a dozen cases of jaundice have been reported in various villages of Hajipur block of the district. Dr S.K. Sharma, District Health Officer, along with health officials visited Hajipur yesterday.

Dr M.L. Kakkar, the local Civil Surgeon, said here today that five patients of jaundice had been identified at Gagwal village, four at Nathuwal, two at Namoli and a child at Kamahi Devi.

He said three samples of water from the pond of Kamahi Devi village from where water was being supplied to 12 villages had been taken. Chlorination of wells and water supply sources had been done and chlorine tablets had been distributed in the area to control further spread of the disease. Besides, treatment camps were being held in the area to attend to the patients, Mr Kakkar added.


Men fast for wives
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, October 25
Karva Chauth was observed by several men here today. Mr C.R. Gautam, a lawyer, has been observing it for the past 38 years, when he was only 12 years old. Now he is 50 and fasts along with his wife. His son had also been observing it but discontinued with it this year.

Another man Deepak observed a fast today with his newly wed wife.

Simran, a young boy, fasted since his mother had done so while Gurdev observed the fast for his bride-to-be.

All of them followed the customs associated with the fast.

PATHANKOT: Some men and children also observed Karva Chauth here on Friday.

Mr H.S. Naru, a lawyer, kept the fast for his wife while Mr Naresh Kumar of Arjun Nagar kept it for his beloved whom he plans to marry soon.

Newly married Ratinder Sharma fasted for the long life of his wife.

Revti (7) observed the fast for the long life of her parents.


BKU activists block traffic

Moga, October 25
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), under the leadership of Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner and also blocked the traffic for about two hours at the Subedar Joginder Singh crossing.

The protesters were demanding payment of arrears of sugarcane to the extent of Rs 80 crore.

The dharna and the blockade of traffic were part of statewide protests at all district headquarters after Ferozepore, Kharar and Kapurthala.

The dharnas and blockade of traffic would continue up to November 8, Mr Lakhowal said.

Mr Lakhowal, president of the state BKU, said the union had decided to block both road and rail traffic at Malout in Muktsar district on October 26.

He demanded immediate restoration of free power to the agriculture sector.

He warned that if the Punjab Government failed to clear the arrears of sugarcane by November 4, the BKU activists would socially boycott Congress leaders, including ministers.

The BKU demanded compensation of Rs 12,000 per acre for loss of crop due to drought and later hailstorm , withdrawal of hike in sales tax on fertilisers and pesticides, bonus of Rs 20, Rs 100 and Rs 500 per quintal on sugarcane, paddy and cotton respectively. PTI, UNI

Our Correspondent adds from Maur Mandi: The local unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) held a meeting here today to inform the residents of the area about the proposed Punjab bandh on October 29 by seven kisan unions. The bandh would be observed to show farmers’ resentment against stopping of free power supply to them.

Office-bearers of the BKU (E) said today’s meeting was part of an awareness campaign launched by the union in the state. They said the union was holding meetings in all parts of the state for the past many days so that the maximum number of farmers could be asked to join the campaign against the “wrong” policies of the state government which were adding to the problems of the farmers.

Mr Surjeet Singh, president of the block unit of the BKU(E) said there was enthusiasm among the farmers about the bandh.

Straw burning banned
Our Correspondent

Patiala, October 25
Patiala Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh has banned the burning of straw following harvesting of the paddy crop in the district with immediate effect.

In an order passed here under Section 140, the Deputy Commissioner said burning of straw was leading to pollution besides other problems. He said burning of straw also resulted in loss of precious nutrients as well as burning of top soil which affected future yields.

The DC directed that the farmers of the district should be made aware of the order through ‘prachar vans’ and that the order should be posted at prominent places. The order will remain in force till December 16.


Desilting work allotted ‘without’ inviting tender
Our Correspondent

Mansa, October 25
The local Executive Engineer, Irrigation, is alleged to have allotted desilting work of various canal distributaries worth Rs 25 lakh without inviting tender to oblige a Congress leader. Sources said the Executive Engineer had earlier invited tender for the work up to September 27 but the tenders were withdrawn on September 25, stating insufficient funds as reason. However, later the work was allotted to some contractors, reportedly close to a Congress leader of the area.

Mr Balwant Singh, president of the District Cooperative Labour Union, has sought an inquiry by the Vigilance Department as the work had been executed at higher rates. He said the union would have done the work at much cheaper rates.

Mr G.S. Bath, Executive Engineer, however, said the work had been executed to facilitate water supply which was needed urgently for the sowing of wheat. He said inviting tender would have delayed the work and affected sowing.

He said during the visit of the Chief Minister to Uddat Saide Wala village of the district in August, the Chief Minister had ordered the desilting of all canal distributaries. A sum of Rs 35 lakh had been granted for the purpose but the funds were not released due to some technical reason and the tender had to be cancelled. Later the funds were released by the government. 


Rs 52.8 lakh for village projects
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, October 25
For completing various development projects in villages Rs 52.8 lakh will be spent in the current financial year by the state government in cooperation with the Central Government under the Integrated Waste Land Development Programme.

This was stated by Mr Phoolwant Singh Sidhu, Joint Development Commissioner, Punjab, while presiding over a meeting here today. It was convened to review the progress of such projects in villages of the district.

He said the state government had given its share of Rs 4.34 lakh for the district. He instructed the officials concerned to prepare an annual development plan for all villages. Under the Central Government’s Food for Work scheme, 7,050 quintal wheat would be given to the district. Out of it 3,163 quintal had been given to the district, said Mr Sidhu.

Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, ADC, Mr Gurdeep Singh District Development and Panchayat Officer, were also present at the meeting besides officials of other departments. 


Mystery shrouds minor’s rape
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 25
A minor domestic help working in the official residence of a Major, a dentist in the military hospital in the cantonment, was allegedly raped by an unidentified person on October 23.

Though the police has registered a case under Sections 376 and 452 of the IPC, the disappearance of the rapist under mysterious circumstances have been keeping the police and the military authorities on tender hooks.

The police which is waiting for the report of medical examination conducted on the victim in the local Civil Hospital, is also confused over the fact that no bleeding was reported in rape victim. Besides, the victim in her statement had pointed out that while she was drying clothes, some unidentified person made her to inhale some substance sprinkled on a piece of cloth. Following this she fell unconscious immediately.

The police has been trying to find out, that what kind of substance can make a person unconscious immediately after inhaling it.

Police sources said the domestic help had made a statement that she was taken to her servant quarter and raped. She regained consciousness after 20 minutes.

She reported the matter to her lady master and ultimately the police was informed about the incident.

After recording the statement of the victim who hails from Kerala and resides in a servant quarter, a case under Sections 376 and 452 of the IPC has been registered.

The lady master’s husband has been serving with the Air Force. The victim was alone in the house when the incident took place, the sources added.


Gang of thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, October 25
The police has busted an inter-state gang of thieves and recovered goods worth Rs 3.5 lakh from it.

According to a press note issued here today, Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, identified the members of the gang as Charanjit Singh, Sat Pal, both residents of Jammu, Rajesh Kumar and Kamal Kumar, both residents of New Delhi.

He said the police had arrested all members except Sat Pal.

The SSP said the police during a naka at a T-point in Defence Colony, Sajanpur, stopped a Qualis and on search found 390 gram of gold worth Rs 1.5 lakh, a computer and Rs 14,000. The occupants of the car, Charanjit, Rajesh and Kamal, were arrested.

The SSP said the gang operated in Delhi, Jammu and Kashmir and an area of Pathankot subdivision. They used to break open the locks of cars parked outside hotels and decamp with valuables lying in the cars.

He said the police had solved more than six cases of thefts by arresting the thieves. A case was registered.


Cop booked in cheating case

Faridkot, October 25
The police claimed to have nabbed Lakhvinder Singh, a constable of Moga, in connection with an extortion and cheating case. His two accomplices, head constable Jaswant Singh and Gurmit Kaur are at large.

The SSP, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, said today that Gurmit Kaur stopped a Maruti car of a Faridkot commission agent, Sukhdev Singh Brar, and requested for a lift.

Sukhdev Singh gave her a lift and asked to sit at the back. The woman used her mobile phone to contact Jaswant Singh and Lakhwinder Singh, who after overtaking the car, asked Sukhdev Singh about his relations with her and asked for Rs 50,000 to avoid being booked in a criminal case.

Sukhdev Singh asked them to come to his house the next day for the money. Lakhvinder Singh went to his house and took Rs 40,000 but he (Sukhdev) informed the police. The police reached his residence and nabbed the accused and recovered the money. UNI


Fake birth certificates racket busted
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, October 25
The district administration has busted a racket of fake birth certificates alleged to have been issued from the office of the Civil Surgeon. The racket came to light with the detection of three such fake certificates which were submitted in the office of the Deputy Commissioner for counter-signatures.

Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, in a press note issued here today said the persons going abroad or residing abroad submitted birth certificates in his office for getting those counter-signed to establish the authenticity of these certificates. He said on suspecting some fake birth certificates, he sent these for verification in the office of the Chief Medical Officer. On inquiry, the office of the Civil Surgeon found three certificates to be fake.

The police has registered cases of forgery and fraud against Hari Singh of Panchat village in the Phagwara subdivision, Sher Singh of Hoshiarpur and Kulwant Kaur of Fatehgarh village in Bholath subdivision.


Jilted wife commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 25
Dr Balwinder Kaur, who was running “Pathania” Hospital along with her husband, also a doctor at Ajanala, today committed suicide by strangulating herself with a ceiling fan.

According to an FIR lodged at Ajanala police station, she had objected to the alleged illicit relations of her husband with a nurse of the same hospital.

A case has been registered against the doctor and the nurse even as no arrest has been made so far.


Idols found missing
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 25
Idols of a deity were reported missing from a place of worship, 8 km from here last evening. The police arrested Surinder Singh of Kalian Skatran village (Khem Karan) who allegedly stole the idols taking these to be made of gold, Dr S.K. Kalia, SP (City) said. 

The accused intended to sell the idols. Surinder Singh had been to Pakistan several times in the past. He was also involved in the smuggling of arms, especially during militancy, the SP said. A case has been registered.

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