Sunday, October 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India

P U N J A B    S T O R I E S


SHSAD not to field candidates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today affirmed his faction would not field any candidate for the November 12 SGPC Presidential election and would prefer to propose the name of a ‘person selected by the seven-member core committee of SGPC members’.

Addressing mediapersons at the Chandigarh Press Club, Mr Tohra also asked former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to give up his obstinacy and accept the existence and recommendation of the core committee to bring down the ‘’political temperature’.

Incidentally, the core committee is headed by a SAD-rebel, Mr Mal Singh Ghuman. It has already been rejected by Mr Badal, who has described it as yet another form of interference by the government in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. He has even said that Mr Ghuman, owing allegiance to SAD, had no authorisation to initiate any such move.

On the other hand, while welcoming the initiative of the committee, Mr Tohra has also refuted the charge of Mr Badal of interference by the government in the present run up to the SGPC Presidential poll. In fact, he said that the practice of interference by the government was a ‘’gift’’ of Mr Badal and that he should know better. Moreover, he continued, had there been any interference by the state, Mr Badal would not have succeeded in taking 80-odd members of the SGPC ‘’hostage’’ in Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. In the same breath he asked the government not to thrust any security personnel on unwilling SGPC members, admitting in many words that the state had provided security against the wishes of some members.

Therefore, both on the issue of presence of core committee as well as interference by the government, Mr Tohra’s remarks show he was on the defensive, as he himself added that he was not speaking on behalf of the government or as its spokesperson. ‘’The core committee met me today and I am sharing those views that I conveyed to the committee, which is doing a good job of depoliticising the SGPC and trying for a consensus candidate, who is neutral’’, he added.

Mr Tohra who gave a long-winding background of how the SGPC came into being first as a voluntary force that would launch ‘’satyagrah’’ to free gurdwaras and how with the passage of time it was dominated and politicised by SAD.

He also objected to the demand of SAD to post “observers’’ during the SGPC poll and said he had conveyed his reservations to the Union Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, arguing when Sikhs never interfered in the religious affairs of other communities, why is there such undue government interest in the affairs of the SGPC?

Persons like Mr Badal, who has defied even Akal Takht, have, in fact, over a period of time “trivialised’’ the SGPC and other Sikh institutions, traditions and “maryada’’, he added.


Tohra blesses non-aligned members
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
A seven member committee formed under the convenership of Mr Mal Singh Ghuman to field a consensus candidate selected by SGPC members and not by the PAC of any political party for the post of SGPC President, called on Mr G.S.Tohra, President, SHSAD, at his native village Tohra today. The committee members held a discussion with Mr Tohra and sought his support to fulfil their objective. The committee members also requested Mr Tohra to send his representative to the meeting called by them on November 1 at Akal Takht.

Talking to The Tribune at his village, Mr Tohra said the committee members had expressed their views that they wanted to free the SGPC from the clutches of political leaders and to give powers to the SGPC members to undertake religious affairs independently and select a true Gur Sikh candidate as SGPC President.

Appreciating the efforts of the committee, Mr Tohra said he had given his consent and assured the committee that he would not only support but also purpose the name of the candidate selected by the members. He said he would abide by all decisions taken by the committee. Answering a query that if the committee selected him to head the SGPC, would he accept their choice, Mr Tohra said neither would they select him as he represented a group nor would he accept it.

Mr Mal Singh Ghuman said earlier political leaders were guided by religious leaders but now the politicians had taken over religious affairs. He said the situation had come to such a pass that a single man had grabbed all powers, who was the Chief Minister, party president and the chief of PAC, who could appoint and remove the Jathedar of Akal Takht and even send an envelope with the name of the candidate who would be made SGPC President.

He said 21 members had assembled at Anandpur Sahib and formed a seven-member committee headed by him to contact all Sikh leaders to seek their support to curb this menace and allow SGPC members to select their President by consensus on their own and not through any envelope. He said they had met Mr Mann, Bibi Surjit Kaur Barnala, Mr Talwandi, Mr Kuldeep Singh Wadala and Mr Tohra. He said the committee had also sought time from Mr Badal and hoped to meet him soon.

He said the committee members had also urged Mr Talwandi and Bibi Barnala to convince Mr Badal to support their mission.

Mr Hardeep Singh Mohali, a member of the committee, urged political parties to form religious committees on the pattern of the PAC to advise them on religious affairs.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, Mr Gurdev Singh Khalsa and Mr Jassa Singh Ahluwalia all leaders of the SHSAD, also participated in the talks.


CM to ensure safety of SGPC members
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 26
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh refuting the allegations levelled by the Akalis that the Congress government was interfering in Sikh religious matters, particularly the SGPC elections, said the government would ensure the safe entry of all SGPC members into the Golden Temple.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said the SAD would be defeated in the coming SGPC elections, as was evident from the desperation of Parkash Singh Badal. “Why should the Congress government interfere in the religious matters. The government is concerned only with the safety of all SGPC members,” he said.

The government, he said, had been receiving information that some SGPC members had been kept in illegal confinement in Haryana. He said the government was worried and security was being provided to those SGPC members who had demanded it.

Asked whether he apprehended bloodshed on the day of the SGPC elections as indicated by Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, he said he had directed the police to maintain law and order.

Regarding the anti-corruption campaign, he said it would continue and the Vigilance Bureau and other agencies had been investigating corruption charges against various Akali leaders.

Asked what the government would do with the Vaishnav Committee’s report on disinvestment, he said the Directorate for Disinvestments had been set up and the Cabinet would discuss the recommendations of the committee.

He said Rural Development Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal should not quit if charges were framed against her in a corruption case.

He said this when asked whether he would ask her to quit if the charges were framed against her on October 29, the date of hearing in the case.

He said the framing of charges did not mean the same thing as conviction.


PGPC invites Mann to Pak
Our Correspondent and UNI

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
Pakistan Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (PGPC) co-President Sham Singh has invited Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, to Pakistan to participate in the gurpurb celebrations next month.

According to a letter sent by the PGPC co-president, the birthday of Guru Nanak Dev will be celebrated in Pakistan from November 17-19 at Nankana Sahib with religious fervour and gaiety. All necessary arrangements were being made by the Pakistan Government and the PGPC to celebrate the event in a grand manner, he added.

Mr Sham Singh has invited Mr Mann along with his jatha for ‘darshan deedary’ of gurdhams in Pakistan.

But as Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani has not obliged a Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee deputation (DSGMC), led by its President Paramjit Singh Sarna, to allow a jatha of Sikhs to visit gurdwaras in Pakistan for participation in the celebration of Guru Nanak Dev’s birth anniversary, the DSGMC has decided to organise a protest dharma in New Delhi, if devotees were not allowed to pay obeisance in Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

All-India Shiromani Akali Dal President Gurcharan Singh Tohra described the denial of permission as most unfortunate. He said SAD President Parkash Singh Badal had failed to get the genuine demand of the Sikhs to visit Pakistan accepted from the NDA government.

SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar said he endorsed the views of Mr Mann that the Union Government should allow Sikh pilgrims to send jathas to Pakistan.

He said the SGPC had written around six times to the Union Government but it did not give permission, perhaps due to security reasons.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann, while addressing a press conference here today, has criticised the Central Government of its failure to issue letters of stay to Indian residents in Italy even as the Pakistan and Bangladesh government have issued such letters to their citizens. Mr Mann alleged that more than 15,000 Sikhs and other immigrants were anxiously waiting to receive such letters in various parts of Italy. He said the Italian Government in 1998 decided to issue stay permits to all Indian immigrants in Italy subject to the issuance of stay letters by the Indian Embassy in Italy. He said in the absence of these letters, the Indian citizens would have to forgo permanent work limits. He urged the government to immediately release the letters.

He said Jawaharlal Nehru and Liaquat Khan had reached an agreement that Sikh Jathas would be allowed to visit Sikh shirnes in Pakistan four times a year. He said it was unfortunate that not a single jatha had gone to Pakistan this year. He criticised Mr Ramoowalia, President, Lok Bhalai Party, for giving misleading statements about the Sikh cause.


Scrapping of 40-yr-old scheme mooted
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, October 26
After waiting for nearly 40 years, over 100 refugee families from Lahore and west Pakistan have got relief after an Improvement Trust scheme was recommended to be “scrapped” by a high-level inquiry report.

The scheme forbade residents of Kucha Panditan to renovate or reconstruct their structures which are over 80 years old.

The area, basically a Muslim locality, was declared evacuee property post-Partition and was purchased by the refugees.

A report about the scheme which curtailed rights of residents had been highlighted in The Tribune.

An inquiry report by Ms Gurpreet Sapra, Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, spoke of “selective harassment of area residents since decades which would continue until the scheme was formally quashed”. The report was submitted to the Director, Urban Local Bodies.

According to the inquiry, conducted following a complaint by Mr K.K. Nanda, retired government official, it was found that the trust had acquired 4,821 sq yards of the area out of a total of 12,800 sq yards. The trust had exempted 6,000 sq yards in 1962 when the scheme was mooted.

Since 1965, the trust had not undertaken a single development project in the area in accordance with the original plan of development for which the scheme had been mooted.

According to trust records, a tubewell was sunk in the area through the MLA’s fund, but the trust had not stopped its construction which was against the plan of the scheme.

The inquiry also reported that those properties which were claimed to have been acquired and compensated for by the trust were “re-occupied” by the original occupants and hence left only “re-acquisition” as the option for the government to restart the scheme.

“Again in 1971, some of the properties were required to be acquired through ‘negotiation’, but their record was not produced before the inquiry officer. Even some acquired properties shown in Amritsar district form-II records have no original transfer documents,” the inquiry report said.

The report also said the notices served on “selective” persons should be revoked.

The inquiry noted that in 1976 the scheme was recommended to be “dropped” but no formal intimation in this regard was followed up.

Ms Sapra said the scheme was merely on paper and was hanging fire since decades without any development work undertaken by the trust.


Contract issue stirs up row in PSEB
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
The issue of awarding the execution contract for the 500-MW Stage II of the Lehra Mohabbat project on engineering, procurement and commissioning (EPC) basis to BHEL has resulted in a tug of war between PSEB engineers and its management which has even bypassed the technical advise of its Chief Engineer, Thermal Design. The Chief Engineer has advised the PSEB not to go in for an EPC contract with BHEL.

While the engineers are claiming that the PSEB was likely to lose around Rs 200 crore due to this proposal as BHEL would sub-contract around 60 per cent of the project to other companies, the Board authorities feel the engineers are making a noise because the earlier “power” enjoyed by them in awarding contracts for various works, extending contract deadlines and even arbitration between various contractors was being taken out of their hands. The PSEB authorities feel that while the project cost would increase by awarding the EPC contract, efficiency of work would also increase with the project being completed earlier.

The Chief Engineer in his recommendations to the PSEB has claimed that the EPC contract was a costly proposition. He has also said the contractor does not have expertise in various specialised fields such as coal handling plant, ash handling plant, BM plant insulation, civil construction of cooling towers and chimneys and that he would offload these packages to various specialised agencies. This will result in an increase in the project cost, he says.

The PSEB officer in his report submitted on September 24 to the Member, Generation of the Board, has claimed that the PSEB had executed work on 12 thermal units by splitting various units on the specialised agencies and that BHEL only supplied boiler, turbine, generator and its auxiliaries. It says, in all 12 units’ orders were placed to BHEL through negotiations for these parts. He said the PSEB had developed enough expertise in executing various packages and coordinating with various agencies.

The Chief Engineer in his recommendation also submitted that recently BHEL was awarded the contract on EPC basis at Panipat Refinery. It offloaded work to M/s BSES who further offloaded the work to other agencies. He said a stark example was offloading of work of coal handling plant and the ash handling plant to Ms Indure India Limited which had never installed a coal handling plant anywhere in India. He recommended that the best thing for the PSEB with regard to its Lehra Mohabbat Plant would be to get necessary machinery from BHEL and award the other packages to specialised agencies as done earlier.

Member, Generation, H.S. Sahai said no one in the country was awarding package contracts as it meant dealing with multiple contracts and agencies. Though EPC contracts were slightly expensive they could be executed more quickly. He said multiple contracts meant unnecessary delays in case even one company did not stick to the schedule.

He said, however, in the case of an EPC contract responsibility was fixed on only one person. Even the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) was going in for EPC contracts. However, a final decision on the matter would be taken by the state government, he added.

Meanwhile, PSEB Engineers Association general secretary H.S. Bedi said sub-contracting of major packages worth more than Rs 1,000 crore would result in 15 to 20 per cent margins at each stage escalating the cost of the project by more than Rs 200 crore.

The association “warned” the PSEB and the government that some agents of big industrial houses were using BHEL as a front to cause loss to the Board. It said the burden of the proposal would result in increase in the capital cost of the project which would increase the cost of power to be produced by it.


Two officers suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 26
The Punjab Department of Local Government has placed Mr Banke Behari, Assistant Town Planner and Mr Madan Gopal, Building Inspector of the Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, under suspension with immediate effect.

The suspension orders have been issued by the Secretary, Local Government, Mr Sarvesh kaushal, on the recommendation of Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, on the grounds that the officials allegedly suppressed the truth for granting illegal benefits to the owner of the Central Mall, a massive commercial complex at Amritsar.

The owners of the building had connived with officers of the corporation to fraudulently obtain a wrong completion certificate on February 12 last. The fact that the builders had indulged in excess construction over and above the sanctioned plan was concealed. It was also not reported that the building suffered from non-compoundable violations in front parking and house line area.

On the request of the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Amritsar, the Chief Town Planner has been assigned the job of an intensive inspection and to submit a report for further necessary action.

The officials placed under suspension or others found responsible in due course will be issued charge sheets under major penalty proceedings and in case the sufficient evidence regarding corruption becomes available, registration of criminal cases will also be considered by the department.

The Department of Local Government also accorded sanction to the Punjab Vigilance Bureau to prosecute Mrs Sushila Rana, Executive Officer under Prevention of Corruption Act. In an order issued by the Secretary, Local Government, Mr Kaushal, it has been stated that the Vigilance Bureau has detected purchase of certain properties and National Saving Certificates worth about Rs 13 lakh in the name of the officer and her children during 1993-97 whereas as per known sources of income, her income was calculated at Rs 4.22 lakh only.


33 appointees’ degrees reported fake
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, October 26
An inquiry into the scandal of recruitment to the posts of elementary teachers training in the SAD/BJP rule has found that 33 candidates were appointed on the basis of fake degrees.

Highly placed sources said that an inquiry under the supervision of Principal Secretary Punjab K.K. Bhatnagar, has identified 26 candidates whose degree were found to be fake, seven candidates who obtained degrees from unrecognised universities and four candidates did not have basic qualifications advertised for the job.

Earlier taking a notice of the report on recruitment scandal published in The Tribune, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the Education Department Punjab to hold an inquiry into it. At a hearing of the case on October 18, the Education Department authorities submitted a list of 30 candidates appointed on the basis of fake degrees.

The candidates who made use of fake degrees to get appointment, include Baljinder Kaur from Muktsar, Gurbachan Singh, Rajwant Kaur, Rishu Sukhija and Kewal Krishan from Ferozepore, Prakash Singh and Gurjit Singh from Mansa, Buta Singh and Kuldeep Singh from Faridkot, Gurdeep Singh and Kuldeep Singh from Patiala, Harwinder Singh, Jagdip Singh, Daljit Kaur and Karamjit Singh from Ludhiana, Mohammad Aslam, Jagtar Singh and Karamjit Singh from Sangrur, Kulwinder Singh from Fatehgarh, Kuldeep Singh and Sarabjit Singh from Moga and Avtar Singh, Rajesh and Inderjit Kaur from Jalandhar.

The candidates who were appointed despite their having obtained degrees from fake universities, include Virpal Kaur from Muktsar, Dharampal from Nawanshahr, Rajwinder Kaur, Harjinder Kaur and Jang Bahadur from Gurdaspur, Manjit Kaur from Ludhiana and Gurbax Kaur from Kapurthala. These candidates had obtained degrees from Mahilla Gram Vidhyapeeth Prayag Allahabad, Bhartiya Sikhsha Parishad, Uttar Pradesh, Hindi Sahitya Sammelan Allahabad and Gandhi Hindi Vidhya Peeth Allahabad.

It is interesting the candidates who obtained degrees from the abovesaid institutes were given appointments despite the fact that the UGC and the Chief Secretary, Punjab, through several notifications had declared the said institutions fake. The sources said the degrees of many more candidates recruited in the past five years might also be fake if the verification reports of the degrees were received. The investigating officers of the Education Department faced difficulties in getting the degrees verified from various universities of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh. The officials of the Maghad University from which many of the appointed candidates obtained the degrees were alleged to be not cooperating with the investigating officers of the Education Department under one pretext or another, the sources added.

The sources added that if a thorough inquiry into the appointment or benefits of promotion taken by the candidates using fake degrees from other states, was held it would be biggest scandal having been unearthed in the state. Besides the appointment to various categories of government jobs, thousands of government employees allegedly obtained promotions and financial benefits on the basis of fake degrees. If an inquiry is held into it the government could recover crores from the ones to be found guilty.


Punjab sends 50,000 tonnes of wheat,
fodder to Rajasthan
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Guru Harsahai, October 26
Punjab has come out to the rescue of Rajasthan in overcoming starvation and the after-effects of drought by deciding to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat and adequate fodder for cattle by two special trains today besides supplying 1,000 cusces of water for a limited period to bring cheer to the Rajasthani people in the festival season of Divali. The unfavourable climatic conditions that prevailed during the past few months have affected the agro-economy of the neighbouring state.

Talking to TNS here today, Capt Amarinder Singh said, “The hue and cry being made by the opposition parties regarding supply of extra water to Rajasthan depicts the selfish nature and narrow-mindedness of the so-called quardians of Punjab”.

He said not only Punjab but other states and NGOs should also come forward to save the lives of our fellow Indians who were passing through hard times.

Punjab should be proud of being portrayed as one of the prosperous states of India, despite the financial crisis precipitated by the wrong policies of the previous SAD-BJP government. Whenever, there was any natural calamity, one looked towards Punjab to get timely help.

He said the supply of 1,000 cusces of extra water to Rajasthan was only for a limited period as Punjab required less water at present. Most of the extra water being supplied was for drinking purpose and a small portion for the brjra crop, the last hope of Rajasthan farmers.

“The Punjab Government has decided to send 50,000 tonnes of wheat by two special trains, today evening, to Jodhpur and Bikaner as relief on humanitarian grounds for the starving population of western Rajasthan”, said the Chief Minister.

Two trains carrying 25,000 tonnes of wheat each would be flagged off late this evening from Talwandi Bhai and Jalalabad railway stations of Ferozepore district. Besides, the Punjab Government is also sending adequate fodder (toorhi) for Ajmer, Bharatpur and other parts of western Rajasthan where the cattle have been worst affected.

In reply to a question, Capt Amarinder Singh said a few religious organisations and NGOs had also come forward to help the people of Rajasthan come out of the crisis.

Pehowa Wale Sant had offered to organise langars at two places in Rajasthan for at least four months. Besides, Hansali Wale Sant had also offered similar help. Other NGOs were also coming forward to help people of Rajasthan.

When asked about the controversial SYL issue, the Chief Minister said Punjab would fight a legal battle to protect its rights.

He also announced that if the Union Government was adamant in not allowing the Punjab Government to sell sugar stocks worth Rs 423 crore lying in the sugar mills, the state government would be forced to consider the option export.

A few proposals had come from exporters to purchase the sugar lying in the mills for export. A high-level meeting to discuss the issue had been convened next week to take a final decision on the issue if the Union Government remained obdurate.

Earlier, the Chief Minister laid the foundation stone of a railway overbridge at Guru Harsahai. The proposed cost of the project has been estimated at Rs 11 crore.


Rotation notice upsets councillors
Our Correspondent

Barnala, October 26
With the local municipal council poll a couple of months away, the decision of the Punjab Government on rotation of reserved and general wards has upset councillors intending to try their luck once again in the ensuing poll scheduled to be held early next year.

In the wake of the government notification, reserved as well as general category wards of the council have been rotated. Most councillors wishing to enter the poll arena have been constrained to select safe wards for themselves because of reshuffling of wards on a large scale.


Forum’s war on social evils
Raj Sadosh

The Democratic Citizens Forum has once again shot into prominence by spearheading a campaign to contain two major evils simultaneously.

Mr Subhash Kanwer Bedi, founder-president of the forum, says that blackmailing and drug addiction had threatened the social and financial culture of this area for the past two to three years.

These elements enjoyed political patronage during the SAD-BJP coalition government and they managed to escape action owing to political influence. The forum was conceived and organised in May, 1982, to safeguard the interests of the citizens to prevent their exploitation at the hands of the corrupt whether government employees, black-markeeters, traders, autonomous or semi-autonomous institutions.

In pursuance of the aims and objects of the organisation as enshrined in its Constitution such as raising a strong protest against high-handedness, harassment, red-tapism among corrupt officials. Corrupt officials dread its existence at the local level and at the same time the organisation commanded respect at the highest level.

Worried over traffic problems on the Hanumangarh road, the forum struggled for getting dividers constructed on both sides of the railway crossing. Transformers and wires in the highly congested Sadar Bazar were replaced in 1992 to augment the electricity supply.

Another major problem relating to telephone consumers was inflated billing. The forum fought for the cause and managed to get TRA branch shifted to Abohar. Besides a united voice was raised against victimisation of LPG consumers. This helped in streamlining the distribution system, besides ensuring supply of cylinders at a fix rate. A traffic plan was submitted to the SSP in 1994, which came into force after five years. The forum succeeded in getting ration cards renewed, this had been lying pending for last eight years. The organisation had requested the Punjab and Haryana High Court that old leasehold properties of the Municipal Council should be auctioned as the council had no funds to pay the bill of even street lights.

The latest issue adversely affecting the life of the sub-division was indulgence of certain elements in yellow journalism. The forum had received complaints that officials and other citizens had been allegedly targeted by those who carried spying gadgets in their pockets. Such elements had allegedly amassed movable and immovable property disproportionate to their known sources of income. Nearly a dozen complaints were lodged with the higher authorities supported by affidavits in August. An inquiry was in progress.

The initiative of the forum had been widely appreciated not only by those who had been victims of the alleged blackmailers but also by the people in general. The forum is joining hands in the campaign against drugs also. Mr Bedi agreed with the conception that the drug mafia had defamed the region and exploited youths on a large scale. The forum recently honoured senior police officers for their determination to fight the menace.


More jawans deployed along border: Jain
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, October 26
Mr S.N. Jain, Inspector-General, BSF, said today that in view of the seizure of 18 Pakistan-made pistols and ammunition near Daoke village, a special operation in the area adjoining the Indo-Pakistan border was being launched.

Mr Jain was talking to mediapersons at the Subsidiary Training Centre of the BSF at Kharkan village 12 km from here. On the seized pistols, he said these were not hand-made but manufactured in a Pakistani factory.

Mr Jain said patrolling on houses had been started in the border area. Jawans in civil dress as well as uniform had been deputed to further strengthen the belt. He claimed that the Pakistani youths who had crossed over to the Indian territory had done so for winning a bet.

Earlier Mr Jain took the salute by 156 recruits at an impressive parade. The Inspector-General awarded trophies to five cadets for outstanding performance in different subjects during their nine-month training. Recruit constable Subhash Singh was adjudged the best cadet.

In his welcome address, Mr V.K. Sharma, Commandant, STC, BSF, Kharkan, said the 156 recruits had been trained in weapons use, physical training, field craft, border problems, border security and surveillance, field engineering, map reading, internal security and human rights.

The training would continue for another four weeks to give them specialised combat training against terrorism.

The Inspector-General, congratulated the newly passed out recruits and advised them to respect human rights while discharging their duties. A colourful cultural programme was organised after the parade by fresh recruits of the Centre.


Badal, Tota Singh meet Garcha in jail
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 26
Former Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal today met former Technical Education Minister, Punjab, Jagdish Singh Garcha, aremanded in judicial custody till November 8 in a case in Central jail here this evening.

Mr Badal along with Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and former Education Minister Tota Singh, reached the jail in the evening and met Garcha briefly.

Mr Garcha reportedly told Badal that though vigilance Bureau officials had threatened him to name him (Badal) for alleged irregularities during his Chief Ministership yet he refused to succumb to the pressure during police remand. Garcha alleged that Bureau officials forced him to sign blank papers even as he was framed in a case of embezzlement of Punjab Technical University funds to the extent of Rs 11 crore at the behest of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. He also alleged that Vigilance cops were trying to harass him in judicial custody by forcing him to accept the charges. Mr Badal assured Garcha of political and legal support. The SAD chief said that a ‘morcha’ would be launched against the Congress government very soon to oppose “repression” mitigated by it.

Mr Badal accused the CM of using the Vigilance Bureau to frame Akali leaders to settle political scores.


Gurdev Badal’s pre-arrest bail plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 26
A court here today dismissed anticipatory bail application of Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, MLA from Panj Grainan and former Punjab Agriculture Minister, as infructuous following police statement that Mr Badal was not wanted to by it as no case had been registered against him.

Mr Gurdev Singh Badal made an application for anticipatory bail on October 16 in a court here apprehending his arrest by the Vigilance Bureau, SAS Nagar, in a case under Sections 409 and 420 of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The bail application of Mr Badal was sent to the special judge by the Session Judge for proceedings.

On October 23, the Judge adjourned hearing on the anticipatory bail application to today due to the non-production of police record of the case by the Vigilance Bureau.


Pherurai case: ex-SHO may turn approver
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 26
Former SHO of Mamdot police station Darshan Singh is said to have acceded to become an approver and key witness against Gurcharan Singh Pherurai in a case of graft registered against them.

Police sources said the police had a soft corner for Pherurai who was in police remand. He was addressed as “Sir” during interrogation, even though the police top brass wanted to prove him guilty.

The police remand of the accused had been extended to Monday. The sources said Pherurai was kept at Fatehgarh Sabrawan police station last night and shifted to Mamdot police station this morning for interrogation. Mr Monish Chawla, SP (D), would be interrogating him.

In the afternoon, he was shifted to Makhu police station. He was produced at the residence of a judge as mediapersons were waiting for him in the judicial complex. The police was said to have rounded up a few persons involved in the fake currency seizures during the time of Pherurai.


Sidhu case: next hearing on Oct 29
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 26
Mr A.S. Kathuria Special Judge, today fixed October 29 as the next date of hearing in the case related to the accumulation of assets disproportionate to known sources of income by Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, former PPSC Chairman.

The case was registered against Sidhu by the Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar on March 25 under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Harbhajan Mann thrills Tribune readers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
Harbhajan Mann, popular Punjabi singer, thrilled subscribers of The Tribune here and gave them gifts. Symbolic of popularity and credibility, Harbhajan Mann and The Tribune have started a joint venture to honour Tribune readers.

The Tribune subscribers were happy to be with the pop star, besides winning gifts for being loyal to the largest selling English daily of North India.

Harbhajan Mann soon became the centre of attraction and people gathered around him for autographs. It was a matter of pride for the readers to see him at their door. Balwinder Singh said they could never have thought of meeting him but The Tribune had made it possible.

Harbhajan Mann visited houses at random in East Mohan Nagar, Ajit Nagar, Kashmir Avenue and Ranjit Avenue and anyone having a copy of The Tribune was presented with gift hampers, including audio cassettes of Harbhajan’s latest Punjabi film, “Jee Aayan Nu”, caps, pens and writing pads. The event evoked good response. Some of the residents had even called photographers with the view to taking their pictures with the singer. Several residents were standing outside their houses with copies of The Tribune in their hands.

Harbhajan Mann was amazed at the response of the people to the high standard of journalism maintained by The Tribune.

He also paid obeisance at the Golden Temple and performed ardas for the continuing growth of the newspaper and the success of the film.


Chawla objects to CM’s remarks
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
Former Sikh Students Federation general secretary and presently member of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Amarjit Singh Chawla said today that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, should have been discreet in his words while talking about terminating his services due to his alleged militant activities in the past.

“Capt Amarinder Singh should realise that I am a member of a constitutional body and not a general secretary of the Sikh Student Federation at present”, he said while talking to The Tribune at his official residence here.

Regarding the statement of the Chief Minister that the government could not allow a former militant to select candidates for the state services, Mr Chawla said he was examining the statement and would react to it in a few days. He said he would not make an empty statement on the issue but would produce documents to substantiate his remarks.

He said the Chief Minister should have tried to differentiate those who were against former PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu and those who were on his side.

The PPSC member refused to talk about his past and did not entertain any question about his alleged militant background. He, however, said he had not been convicted in any case and had been discharged in a few cases registered against him.


Future bright for folk songs: Malkiat
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 26
Punjabi singer Malkiat Singh today lashed out at artistes for vulgar videos of Punjabi songs and appealed to the Punjab Government to institute an award for those artistes who promoted and preserved the Punjabi language, culture and poetry.

Addressing newsmen and students of Guru Nanak College here today, Malkiat said the mushrooming of self-styled singers in Punjabi was jeopardising the langugae and culture.

Malkiat quipped that the Punjabis in India had become more “modern” as compared to their counterparts abroad.

Expressing concern over the growing menace of drugs, Malkiat Singh offered to perform free of cost if the Punjab Government held any show or programme against drug addiction.

He lamented that sentiments related to Shaheed Bhagat Singh were being exploited by those who did not know our history and said the government should produce authentic versions in this regard.

He predicted that the popularity of pop songs would decline while that of the folk songs would rise in the near future.


Govt to intensify tree plantation drive
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, October 26
Tree plantation campaign would be intensified from November 1, the Punjab Day, in the state and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would inaugurate the campaign by planting a tree in SAS Nagar, said Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest, while addressing an impressive function at Sirhind today after inaugurating a tree plantation drive launched by the District Environment Protection Society. The function was organised in association with various social organisations in which schoolchildren attended the function in large numbers.

The minister said his department had taken an initiative to make the state green. He said after forming societies at district level, block-level tree plantation committees would now be formed so that the movement could reach the grass-roots. He said the Forest Department had introduced a new central nursery scheme in every division of the state under which a full-fledged nursery would be developed and tress of all varieties would be made available to the public at a nominal charges.

He stated that sapling plantation in the state was in full swing and people had started coming to the nurseries on their own to get the plants.

Mr Harbans Lal said the Forest Department had constituted an encroachment removal committee to remove illegal encroachments on the government land and more than 5,000 hectares of land all over the state had been evicted by the department so far. He said though the department was facing paucity of funds, with the arrival of aid from Japan the financial position of the department would improve. He urged social organisations to come forward for the cause.

Addressing the function, Mr Vikas Paratap, Deputy Commissioner, said efforts were being made to make Fatehgarh Sahib a model green district of the state. He said 1.5 lakh trees had already been planted in the district. He urged the people to donate blood in a blood donation camp being organised by the district administration on October at the local Civil Hospital.

Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, assured that the police would also join the tree plantation drive in the district and the plantation would be done in all police stations and chowkis.

Mr Shamsher Singh, chairman of the society, gave a detailed report on the projects to be initiated by the society and said more than 500 tree guards would be provided by the society on both sides of major roads passing through the district.

Mr Dhaninder Singh, conservator, Mr Ganana Parshad, DFO, Mr Nakesh Jindal, secretary of the society, and Mr Naresh Sharma also addressed the gathering.


Rajindra hospital to be developed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 26
The Punjab Minister of State for Health, Medical Education and Research, Mr Ramesh Dutt, today said the Government Rajindra Hospital here would be developed on modern lines keeping in view the necessity of having a modern health facility in the state due to the extra burden on the PGI at Chandigarh which had to service the entire Northern region.

Speaking at the third North Zone ISACON medical conference of anaesthetist at the Government Medical College here, the minister said the hospital would be allowed to acquire modern machinery for this purpose.

The minister said the government would also ensure that all three major hospitals were able to draw the user charges imposed on the medical fee in the hospitals directly. He said though the scheme was envisaged with the aim of improving the lot of hospitals by allowing them to use the extra fee charged to patients for development of its facilities it had failed at the ground level. He said the hospitals were not able to use the money themselves as it was transferred to the government account and they had to make out requisitions to get it back.

Mr Dutt also announced that the demand of medical teachers to redesignate them would also be accepted as it did not have any financial implications on the state. Admitting that the government was not able to provide the needed facilities to the doctors due to which there was a constant brain drain, he said the government would ensure the backlog of promotions was cleared in a definite time frame.

Earlier, while speaking on the occasion conference organising secretary Dr Jasbir Kaur said that more than 60 doctors were attending the conference with 10 of them having come from abroad. Others who spoke on the occasion were Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa and Dr Ravinder Singh also spoke on the occasion.


Queries from abroad on organ sale
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
The Government of India has been receiving queries on the “illegal sale” of human organs in our country even from abroad. Some of the countries sought curbing of this trade. This was disclosed by Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, in his address at a state-level seminar on female foeticide, organised by ‘Shakti’ a non-governmental organisation for the welfare of women, here today.

Later talking to the press the secretary said that the government would take strict action against the members of the Authorisation committee if they were found ‘guilty’ of clearing wrong cases for kidney transplant. He, however, said such action would be taken on the basis of a genuine complaint only. The secretary informed that it was shocking that Amritsar had emerged one of the big districts from where maximum number of cases of female foeticide were reported.


Govt harassing SAD supporters: BKU

Moga, October 26
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) today criticised the alleged unnecessary harassment to SAD supported SGPC members by the Punjab police at the instance of G.S. Tohra, former SGPC President, and Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, to get the support of SGPC members having allegiance to Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Punjab unit BKU chief Ajmer Singh Lakhowal said here that the BKU had decided to support the Badal group for the presidentship of the SGPC and all BKU affiliated SGPC members would vote for Mr Badal’s candidate in the SGPC presidential election.

Mr Lakhowal said the decision was taken by senior BKU leaders who met at Mahesari village of this district, this morning.

Those who attended the meeting included Manjit Singh Kadian Secretary-General, and Bhupinder Singh Mahesari.

He charged the police with not only keeping surveillance over the activities of SGPC members but also harassing women SGPC members and even their families. The BKU would not tolerate such repression by the police, Mr Lakhowal added. PTI


BKU agitation continues

Moga, October 26
Continuing their statewide mass agitation in support of farmers’ demands, activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) blocked road and rail traffic at the Malout-Hisar railway crossing for more than two hours today.

The farmers, led by BKU state president Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, demanded restoration of free power supply to agriculture sector and early payment of sugarcane arrears amounting to Rs 80 crore and withdrawal of 4 per cent sales tax on fertilisers and pesticides.

Addressing the farmers at the dharna, Mr Lakhowal criticised Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for releasing additional canal water to the neighbouring state of Rajasthan. UNI


BKU (E) flays govt policies
Our Correspondent

Nathana (Bathinda), October 26
The local unit of the BKU (E) said today that some of the decisions taken by the Punjab Government would further deteriorate the economic condition of farmers.

The BKU (E) organised a meeting here today and urged debt-ridden farmers not to commit suicide and take to agitation.


One held with 27 bottles of IMFL
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, October 26
A team of the Excise Department led by Harjot Singh Bedi, Inspector, today seized 27 bottles of the IMFL being smuggled from Jalandhar to Ferozepore from an employee of the railways.

Talking to TNS, he said during a special checking campaign of the buses launched outside the city, a person carrying two bags tried to escape from the bus. He was arrested and 27 bottles of various brands of the IMFL were seized from the bags.

Rakesh Kumar of Lal Kurti (Ferozepore) confessed that he was a class IV employee in the railways and used to bring liquor daily from Jalandhar after duty hours. An FIR under Sections 61, 1 and 14 of the Excise Act has been registered.


Kale kachhewale gang busted
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, October 26
The local police has busted a notorious killer gang of kale kachhewale and arrested six members of the gang after a brief encounter. It has seized a pistol, two cartridges and shells besides stolen gold jewellery and cash from them.

According to the police, the gang has 40 to 50 members, including women, belonging to the Bangala and Pernas groups.

The arrested persons have been identified as Chaman Lal, alias Guddi, of Nagrota Bagwan, Surjit of Kangra district, Dilbag of Tagloyi village, Kangra district, Dharam Pal, alias Desu, of Kangra district, Rakesh Kumar, alias Manoo, of Bangalwari, and Pahari of Raja Ka Bagh.

The police has registered a case under Sections 395, 397, 398 and 307 of the IPC and Sections 25, 54 and 59 of the Arms Act.


Two held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 26
A team of the police, led by Mr Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City I) seized CDs carrying inflammatory speeches of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale from the house of Jaswinder Singh, alias Kala, at Tehsilpura. He has been arrested.

In the Bagh Ramanand locality, Anil Dogra was arrested with nearly 1000 pornographic and pirated CDs.


Teachers not paid salaries
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 26
As many as 1,354 teachers of middle schools appointed under the Upper Primary Blackboard Operation scheme and 100 teachers appointed in 50 recently opened primary schools in the state have not been paid their salaries for June, July, August and September.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Government Secondary/Primary Teachers Union, Punjab, said these teachers had not been paid salaries as the budget allotment and sanction for these posts had not been sent to the officers concerned. 


Dons visit Rayat institute
Tribune News Service

Ropar, October 26
Dr Rob Cameron and Mr Harbans Singh Bassan, Professors at Bradford University, UK visited the Rayat Institute of Engineering and Information Technology at Railmajra village, 6 km from here, and delivered a series of lectures to students of the institute in small groups. Dr Cameron delivered lectures on feedback systems and mathematical models while Mr Bassan spoke on modern security systems.

During their interaction with the faculty, Dr Cameron and Mr Bassan exchanged views on how technical education could be made more useful for industrial growth. Dr Gardiner, Professor and Head of Electronics Engineering Department, Bradford University, will pay a visit to the institute in November.

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