Thursday, November 14, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Apologise, Badal tells Sonia
Tribune News Service

‘I don’t see CM’s face on TV’

MR Parkash Singh Badal said he had never talked to Capt Amarinder Singh. “I do not even see his face on the television. Whenever Capt Amarinder Singh’s face emerges on the television screen, I switch it off,” he said. 

Chandigarh, November 13
While endorsing the resolution passed by the General House of the SGPC urging the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to pronounce “ exemplary tankhah” ( religious punishment) for Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for sending the police into the Golden Temple Complex, SAD President Parkash Singh Badal today said that Mrs Sonia Gandhi should apologise for this act of the Congress Chief Minister. He also sought the resignation of Capt Amarinder Singh from chief ministership.

Mr Badal said the SGPC presidential election was a “war which our party has won”. To call it an election would be unjustified. He said police cases were registered against SGPC members, their houses raided, their close relatives harassed and their children taken to police stations. This, he said, had never happened earlier.

A former Prime Minister had to tell Mrs Sonia Gandhi that his party was playing with the hard earned peace in Punjab. “Let Punjab and its inhabitants live in peace” was the message conveyed to Mrs Sonia Gandhi by the former PM. That perhaps, made Mrs Sonia Gandhi and his party retreat from the SGPC elections at the last moment.

Addressing a press conference here this evening, Mr Badal said he had nothing to do with the resolution passed by the SGPC. “I would not comment on the SGPC decision regarding on “tankhah”. However, at the end of the press conference he changed his mind and endorsed the resolution.

In fact, the SAD President has taken his fight to the backyard of the Congress high command. He has asked the Congress as a whole to clarify its stand “ on the unprovoked and unwarranted decision of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to violate the sanctity of the Golden Temple complex by sending the police to the sacred place.

“It is unbelievable that Capt Amarinder Singh could have taken the decision without even taking his high command into confidence.”

The former Chief Minister said Capt Amarinder Singh had sought to achieve with the unprovoked police entry into the Golden Temple complex the same objective that Mrs Indira Gandhi had tried to fulfil through the Army assault (Operation Bluestar) in 1984. The idea behind both actions of the Congress was to “humiliate Sikhs and politically marginalise the SAD”.

The SAD chief said Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra and the entire SHSAD were equally responsible for Capt Amarinder Singh’s actions as these were taken with the sole purpose of helping them in the crucial SGPC poll.

“I am shocked that a person who had received so much honour from the Panth is going to the extent of forgiving and even justifying the tragic sequence of events, including the police entry into the Golden Temple complex, simply because he could have benefited from these heinous deed. He said Mr Tohra’s statement defending Capt Amarinder Singh on the issue of police entry into the Temple and issuing a clean chit to Mrs Sonia Gandhi was an “incredible disgrace”.


PPYC refutes Badal’s charges
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, President, and Mr Pawan Dewan, Senior Vice-President, Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress, in a Press statement issued today strongly criticised Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other Akali leaders for levelling false allegations of interference in the religious affairs of the Sikhs and SGPC elections in particular, against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Mr Devinder Singh Babbu refuted Mr Badal’s allegation that the police entered the Golden Temple complex on the eve of the SGPC elections.

Mr Babbu said instead of making such baseless allegations, Mr Badal should be grateful to the Chief Minister for making elaborate security arrangements to keep peace as there was definite apprehension of serious breach of peace between various Akali factions participating in the SGPC elections.

He said by making such statements, Mr Badal wanted to divert the attention of the people from corruption scams and other malpractices of the former Akali Ministers.


Badal hints at action against Talwandi
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 13
Taking a serious view of the alleged crossover of party disciplinary action committee chairman Jagdev Singh Talwandi, SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal today hinted that “action will be taken in consultation with the political affairs committee, but it will be better if the former hears the voice of his conscience and acts accordingly.”

Mr Badal was in the city today and interacted with mediapersons at the residence of party Vice-President Amarjit Singh Bhatia. The visibly elated leader was mobbed by party workers who raised slogans in favour of the party. He was profusely garlanded and served with sweets.

Those present on the occasion included former Speaker C.S. Atwal, former MP A.S. Aliwal and MLA Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal.


SGPC poll: SHSAD to move court
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 13
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) will move the high court to seek cancellation of the election of the SGPC president held in Amritsar yesterday on the plea of corrupt practices allegedly indulged in by the Shiromani Akali Dal. Senior SHSAD leader and former minister Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal stated here today that the way SAD chief Parkash Singh Badal kept SGPC members captive for over two weeks at his farmhouse in Balasar in Haryana amounted to intimidation of voters and a corrupt practice.

Mr Grewal said presuming that SGPC members stayed at Balasar on their own, even that amounted to an unfair and corrupt practice. He pointed out that “during any election you cannot provide any baits to the voters, not to speak of the five-star hospitality provided by Mr Badal to SGPC members”. Observing the way SGPC members were ferried from Balasar to Delhi and then airlifted to Amritsar in a chartered flight by Mr Badal, Mr Grewal said “it is all corruption of the highest level”. He argued, “take any election you cannot provide ordinary conveyance to the voters for reaching the polling booth and here Mr Badal airlifted them from Delhi to Amritsar”. He asked: “Does it not to amount to an unfair and a corrupt practice”?

The senior SHSAD leader also alleged that Mr Badal was being rewarded for betraying the people of Punjab by the Haryana Government. He pointed out that Mr Badal surrendered Punjab’s water rights to Haryana by not defending the state’s case on the SYL canal issue in the Supreme Court under a tacit understanding with his friend and Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala. “Now he has received handsome dividends for the betrayal of hundreds and thousands of farmers of Punjab whose water will have to be given to Haryana,” Mr Grewal alleged.


Badungar & unimplemented Takht directives
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 13
Will Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, be able to implement the long-pending directives, issued by the Jathedar Akal Takht, from time to time, apart from fulfilling the promises made to the Sikh sangat in his earlier term?

Many directives issued to the SGPC could not be implemented in his earlier term. Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, had directed the SGPC to resolve the controversy regarding Nanakshahi calendar and Dashm Granth by constituting committees of Sikh scholars. However, the directives have remained unimplemented so far. So much so the ‘Jantri’ (calendar) or gurdwara diary could not be published for the past three years and the jathedar had allowed the Sikh sangat to observe the religious festivals or anniversaries of Sikh Gurus according to the traditional calendar till the matter was resolved. The SGPC is yet to revive the ‘Sikh Itihaas Board’ to re-write books on Sikh history as historical facts were distorted by many historians.

Mr Badungar, however, said that he would raise memorials, including that of Operation Bluestar, as approved by the SGPC House earlier.

The SGPC chief is yet to revive the sub-committee constituted three years ago to probe charges against Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar Kesgarh Sahib, and Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, though the committee was constituted at the time of the removal of Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar, Akal Takht, in 1999 but it could not hold even a single meeting.

The SGPC has also failed to resolve the controversy regarding the “death” of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale though the Jathedar, Akal Takht, had given a direction in this regard.

It is to be seen whether Mr Badungar will be able to bring about rapprochement between Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, and other Sikh high priests as promised by him in his earlier term. Giani Puran Singh refused to attend the meetings of the Sikh clergy ever since he was appointed Head Granthi, Golden Temple, due to differences over certain issues.


Orders that were not there!
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Can there be any variance in a certified copy of the order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the gist of the order conveyed by the office of the Advocate-General of the state through the Deputy Commissioner concerned ?

Normally, there should not be any. But this is what happened yesterday. Soon after the general House meeting of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee started and the first item — election of office-bearers — was taken up, the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, informed the House that 12 members debarred by the Judicial Commission had been allowed to attend the meeting and cast their votes. Their votes would be sealed in a separate envelope and not be counted.

This announcement resulted in the former SGPC chief and the President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, asking for a copy of the order of the High Court to be produce before the House.

Prof Badungar reiterated that the votes of “these 12 members shall not be counted and that the gist of the order has been conveyed to him by the Punjab Advocate-General through the Deputy Commissioner of Amritsar.”

Alerted by the demand, the SGPC official got in touch with their office in Chandigarh, besides their counsel, to get a certified copy of the order so as to prevent any subsequent complications.

When the certified copy of the order of the High Court arrived, the SGPC officials were confused. There was sharp variance in the gist conveyed through the office of the Deputy Commissioner and the actual order.

For example, the letter of the AG, Punjab, endorsed by Deputy Commissioner (No PA/DC/389 dated November 11, 2002, asking the Secretary of the SGPC for “strict compliance of the orders” stated that: “The court has further directed that the counting of the rest of the votes should be done and in case the candidates secure more than half of the total number of votes cast, the result should be declared. In case the votes are less, the result should not be declared till the decision of the court”.

However, there was no such direction in the certified copy of the Punjab and Haryana High Court order conveyed by the Chandigarh office of the SGPC office to its headquarters.

The operative part of the order said: “We, in the interest of justice, stay the operation of the order passed by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission, Amritsar, a copy of which has been produced before us by Shri Patwalia, which is being kept on the record, however, directing that the vote cast by the petitioner shall be kept separately in a sealed cover and not be counted for the present subject to further order of this court.”

Meanwhile, the state observer, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, said nothing “irregular” was brought to his notice during the General House meeting.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of the SGPC has, in a letter to the Registrar of Punjab and Haryana, informed him about the confusion created by the “variance” in the letter sent by the office of the AG and the certified copy of the order of the court. He wants this to be brought to the notice of the Chief Justice.


SAD activists released
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 13
A former Punjab minister, Mr Chiranjit Lal Garg, today said that the victory of Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar as the SGPC President marked the success of ideas of communal harmony, non-violence and universal brotherhood advocated by the SAD.

Mr Garg, while interacting with mediapersons at the local Central Jail, said the divide and rule policy of the Congress and the dictatorial behaviour of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, notwithstanding, the real panthic dal triumphed. He said the election of the SGPC President, had shown that there was only one Akali Dal, which was led by the “real” panthic leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said all other Akali Dals had either become puppets in the hands of ruling Congress or did not have any following in the state.

Mr Garg visited the jail today to receive activists of the SAD, belonging to Bathinda and Mansa districts, who were released today after the completion of the SGPC election. They were taken into preventive custody a few days ago in the wake of the SGPC election.

Mr Garg said the SAD had support of the Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular. He said despite various restrictions imposed by the Congress government to assume control of the SGPC indirectly, the victory of the SAD nominee showed that the Sikh panth had faith in the leadership of Mr Badal.

He garlanded the activists of the party, who were released today, at the exit of the jail. The activists shouted pro SAD and anti-Congress slogans. They said whatever atrocities the Congress committed on activists of the SAD, it could not curb the voice of the Sikh panth.

Mr Garg was accompanied by Mr Gura Singh Tungwali, MLA, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, President of the local municipal council and other district-level leaders.

The SAD leaders said the sacrifices made by the jailed Akali activists played a vital role in the victory of Professor Badungar.

FARIDKOT: All 48 activists of the SAD who were arrested by the district police last week in connection with the SGPC poll were released from the jail here on Wednesday evening. Talking to The Tribune Mr Sukhmander Singh Mumara, general secretary of the district unit of the SAD and member of the Block Samiti, Mr Makhan Singh, former chairman of the Market Committee, and Sadiq, the detainees assailed the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for his high-handedness in dealing with the SGPC members and Akali workers for political gains in the SGPC poll.


Naidu: Is Punjab Capt’s ‘riyasat’?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 13
The Congress is playing dangerous games for short-term political gains in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir, said Mr Venkaiah Naidu, national President of the BJP, while addressing a press conference here today.

He said the Congress had tried to meddle in Sikh affairs with disastrous consequences and had propped up Bhindrawale in Punjab. He added that during the SGPC elections, it had again tried to interfere in religious affairs, resulting in a setback humiliation.

In Jammu and Kashmir, Congress support to the PDP had made it party to decisions to the PDP, which had announced the release of several hardcore terrorists, most of whom were foreign mercenaries. The PDP was following a policy of “political reciprocity” by reciprocating to the terrorist ranks which had supported him by announcing their unconditional release. Even persons held under POTO had found amnesty and the Congress should clarify its stand in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.

Coming down heavily on Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, he said the Chief Minister had virtually turned Amritsar into a “war zone” during political oneupmanship was the police his personal army or Punjab his personal riyasat, the BJP President asked. In Punjab, the Congress had promised free power and was giving the same free power sop in Andhra Pradesh. It was now opposing the anti-conversion law though it had been supporting the call earlier.

The opposition of the Congress to the review of NCERT books showed lack of clarity, he claimed. Terming the Congress as “pseudo — secularists” over the Gujarat violence, he said those responsible for the Delhi riots, and the rise of terrorism in Punjab were talking of secularism.


Heritage city status for Amritsar sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 13
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Mann) has demanded a Vatican and heritage city status for the holy city as it is one of “foremost spiritual centres of the world”. The party gave a memorandum to the BJP President, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, at the local railway station at the time of his departure today.

It demanded that a “special fund’ be set up for development and sanitation to make Amritsar a model city. It also said it favoured a third country intervention to solve the tangled Jammu and Kashmir issue.

Other demands included severe punishment to those who took part in anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 and release of Sikh youths languishing in jails for years. Party members, including Mr Ram Singh, submitted the memorandum.


Pakhoke will lead jatha to Pak, says Badungar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 13
The re-elected SGPC president, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, today declared that the newly elected senior vice-president of the SGPC, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, would lead a 50-member token jatha of Sikhs to Pakistan on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev on November 19. The jatha would leave from Amritsar via road on November 16.

On his first visit here after his re-election, Professor Badungar told a press conference that the SGPC received a telephonic message today about the clearance of a token jatha by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee last evening. The ban on jathas should be lifted as the border tension had eased, Professor Badungar said.

Professor Badungar sought to prove wrong the premise of Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, as to what constituted the Golden Temple complex and gave rejoinder to Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SHSAD president, for giving clean chit to Capt Amarinder Singh and Ms Sonia Gandhi, AICC President.

The “invasion” of the Amarinder-Tohra-Ravi Inder troika on the Complex was a pointer to their possible complicity in the Operation Bluestar in 1984, alleged Professor Badungar. He reminded Capt Amarinder Singh that it was the so-called Corporation road that the police had entered in 1986 during the Barnala government when he had resigned as Agriculture Minister in protest against the action. Besides, the police did not only entered serais, but it entered the “Charan Ganga” i.e. the point from where the devotes entered Harimandir Sahib by washing their feet after depositing their shoes at the “joraghar”, he asserted. “In my presence about 20 officers of the rank of DSP and SP had entered the sanctified holy point with shoes and I had to lodge strong protest with the DC and the SSP, at which both the officers intervened, alleged Professor Badungar. The SAD and the SGPC were body and soul and politics and religion could not be separated as body and soul could not be separated, he quipped when asked about Mr Mal Singh Ghuman’s initiative to depoliticise the SGPC. Mr Tohra was president of the SHSAD, Rajya Sabha member and SGPC member, he pointed out. How come he is a three-in-one? he asked. Mr Ghuman, the so-called author of the initiative, also held political as well as religious posts, he said.

On Mr Tohra’s statement that Capt Amarinder Singh and Ms Sonia Gandhi had done no wrong, Professor Badungar said Mr Tohra had “torn to pieces his blue turban” and proved to be the true protege of CPM leader Harkishen Singh Surjeet and a follower of Congress camp.

PATIALA (TNS): Professor Badungar on Wednesday attributed the outburst of former general secretary of the SGPC Kiranjot Kaur to “frustration”.

Talking to mediapersons here after being accorded a warm welcome by Akali workers upon entry into his native town at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran, the SGPC president said it was normal for a person to feel frustrated after not getting a desired post. He said the former general secretary was still a child and that she would be advised about this by party leaders.

He said the SGPC would soon hand over a written request to the Akal Takht jathedar requesting him to summon Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to the takht to face “tankah” (religious punishment) for ordering the police to enter the Darbar Sahib complex.

The SGPC leader said while the harassment and persecution of SGPC members was there for all to see, some inquiry needed to be done on the abdication of the state’s power to Mr Ravi Inder Singh and Mr Tohra’s loyalist Inderjit Singh Zira during the run up to the SGPC poll. He claimed that an attempt was made to arrest him on the direction of Mr Zira by the police at Ahmedgarh, where he had gone to meet an SGPC member.


DSGMC opposes jatha to Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 13
Even as the SGPC has been authorised to send a “token jatha” to Pakistan, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, President, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, (DSGMC) has decided to lodge a protest with the Central Government.

He said the very purpose of sending a jatha would be defeated as common devotees would not be allowed to go to Pakistan this time whereas Sikhs in their “ardas” demand “khule darshan didar” (easy access to Sikh shrines in Pakistan).


Punjab submits Rs108-cr project to WB
ITIs to be strengthened
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Department has submitted a comprehensive and revised Rs. 108.84-crore project to strengthen Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) in the state to the World Bank officials.

According to the Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, the project was submitted during discussions between the senior officers of the department, with Dr Vikram K. Chand, Senior Public Sector Management Specialist of the World Bank and the officers of the state Finance Department.

Giving details, the Secretary Technical Education, Mr K. B. S. Sidhu stated that the thrust of the project was on the augmenting the physical, financial as well as the human resource infrastructure in as many as 125 technical institutes in the state. A formal presentation was made to the World Bank officials before the project report was formally submitted.

Mr Sidhu said that the key thrust in the project was to lay emphasis on tool kits, machinery, equipment, with special reference to the information technology (IT) hardware and software. An amount of Rs. 45.67 crore had tentatively been earmarked for this purpose. It had also been proposed to earmark Rs. 28.34 crore for the completion of the incomplete buildings and construction of new ones.

The budget for salary, wages and honorarium had been restricted to Rs. 13.12 crore. Special provisions had been included for high-level training of the instructors (Rs. 6.95 crore).

Proposed to be implemented over a five-year period, the project enviages setting of 30 centres of excellence in the ITIs, women wings in 14 ITIs, and women vocational training centres at 12 places. As many as 60 institutions have been selected for the strengthening of planning and management capabilities, including an MIS. A special component of the project was devoted to the training of the physically challenged persons. It was also proposed to set up a state-level project management unit.


Punjab proposes toll on certain roads, bridges
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 13
The Punjab government has proposed levy toll on certain roads and bridges in the state. In a proposal submitted recently to the World Bank the government has sought Rs 1500 crore soft loan for the construction and maintenance of roads and bridges in the state. The loan is proposed to be repaid by imposing toll on main roads and bridges in the state by which the government expects to collect Rs 75 crore every year.

The roads and bridges on which the toll may be levied are being identified and a report is likely to be submitted within two months. The tractor-trailors, two-wheelers and government vehicles would, however, be exempted from the proposed toll.

Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, Punjab, stated this at Nangal today. He was in Nangal to visit the constituency of the local MLA, Mr KPS Rana.

Mr Bajwa, added that due to financial crisis in the state funds were not allotted in the annual plan for the maintenance of state highways and guest houses. So World Bank loan was the only source to keep the roads in good shape. The people of the state would not mind a nominal toll on main roads provided they got quality roads, he added.

On being asked about government directives against repairing planned and link roads in the state, Mr Bajwa said that a directive on it had been issued by the secretary finance. He had met the Chief Minister and requested him to order grants at least for patch work on the said roads, which involved an expenditure of Rs 10 crore to 12 crore. The Chief Minister had assured to had the said funds released, he added.

To another question Mr Bajwa said that he had requested the Chief Minister, to re-transfer the PWD jobs given to the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) by the previous government. The PIDB should restrict to arranging finances for the project while the execution should be left to the PWD, he said.

The government would also go ahead with the construction of 25 Railway overbridges in the state. The Union Railway Ministry has, for the first time, agreed to release its 50 per cent share for the construction of 65 Railway overbridges in the state. The government would start construction of 25 railway overbridges very soon. In Ropar district, the Morinda and Kurali Railway bridges would get priority, the minister added. 


Capt meets IHRO men on SYL
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 13
Even as the SGPC elections were under way in Amritsar, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was already focusing on the contentious Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal issue which threatens to snowball into a major controversy with Haryana sticking to its guns. The state has only about two months to comply with the Supreme Court deadline of January 15, 2003.

The Opposition parties in the state had discussed the issue at an all-party meeting here in October and had recommended that all riparian accords inked during the past 25 years were not only null and void but had bartered away the rights of the people. It was also decided that the proposed National River Waters Grid was a step in the wrong direction and was not in the best interests of the state.

Sources said a delegation of the representatives of the International Human Rights Organisation (IHRO), which has been authorised to pursue the case in the Supreme Court on behalf of farmer outfits, Opposition parties and kisan outfits, had a meeting with the Chief Minister yesterday in Chandigarh.

In the hour-long meeting, the Chief Minister is said to have forcefully reiterated his stand of doing “everything possible to protect the rights of the people and solve the issue once and for all.” Present on the occasion were the Irrigation Minister and the Irrigation Secretary, besides senior officers. The delegation, led by Mr D.S. Gill, chairperson of the IHRO, comprised Mr Sukhdev Singh, Mr M.S. Grewal, Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, Mr Amrik Singh Lakhowal and Mr Pishora Singh.

The sources said the Chief Minister in principle agreed with the stand of the delegation and questioned it about various aspects of the issue. It was brought to his notice that the Chief Minister need not worry about contempt of the Supreme Court in this case since the Cauvery issue was a water dispute between two riparian states and a different matter altogether. The closest semblance of the situation in Punjab reflected in the flowing of Gujarat’s Narmada waters to Rajasthan, the latter being a non - riparian state, the sources disclosed.

The Chief Minister reportedly asked them to strengthen the stand of the government and submit a detailed note listing all major points to be included in the IHRO’s writ petition to be filed in the Supreme Court. The note is to be submitted in a week’s time, the sources added.

Capt Amarinder Singh is said to be of the opinion that there would be no compromise on the issue and that the matter should also be discussed with the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S. Boparai, who was the Irrigation Secretary when the decision to stop work on the canal was taken in view of militant activities.

Mr D.S. Gill confirmed the meeting between them and the Chief Minister in Chandigarh. He said the Chief Minister was examining all options before the state and would personally discuss all points before the petition was filed in the Supreme Court, possibly in the first week of January.

Mr Gill said he would submit the detailed note next week and that they had been asked to attend another meeting after the issue was discussed at the government level and after consultations with Mr Boparai. The Punjabi University VC was an old hand and knew the intricacies of the issue, he added.

He added that they impressed upon the Chief Minister that on this particular issue, the Opposition” does not wants to aggravate the situation but want to inform the Punjabis that the situation witnessed in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu was the outcome of issues which had been left unresolved for too long for narrow political gains.”

“The situation is no better in Punjab today. The state has suffered a drought for the first time and viewed in the backdrop of the changing climate and the steep decline in the groundwater level, the entire volume of river waters will have to be harnessed and distributed within the state through a network of canals if the farmers are to be saved,” he pointed out.


Children’s Day means nothing to them
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, November 13
For 15-year-old Raju, all days, including November 14 (Children’s Day), are alike as he do not get any respite from his work as a domestic help.

Ten-year-old Rani, who picks rags, does not count days and it makes no difference for her whether it is November 14 or any other day.

They are two of the innumerable child labourers who have to work at an age when they should be studying in school, the claims of politicians notwithstanding.

Functions organised on the occasion do not hold any significance for these children of a lesser god.

Says Ramdin, a 14-year-old shoeshine boy, that all he knows about the day is that two years ago, some government employees had asked some children to attend a Children’s Day function and they were given sweets and toys. He does not attend such functions as he can earn much more by shining shoes in the time “wasted” at such functions.

Says Rashmi, a 12-year-old, that her parents want her to get education, but she could not study after class III as the income of her parents was not much. She works as domestic help at the house of a senior official.


‘Black salt need not be iodised’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a significant judgement, today ruled that the notification prohibiting the sale of salt without Iodine was not applicable to grounded black salt.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by a Nawanshahr businessman seeking the quashing of a complaint registered against him under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the High Court ruled: “A perusal of the notification shows that the prohibition is on the sale of salt other than Iodised and it is defined as common salt mixed with potassium Iodate or calcium Iodate. Grounded black salt is, thus, not covered by the notification”.

In his detailed order, Mr Justice Goel observed: “The petition seeks the quashing of a complaint under the provisions of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act of 1954. In the complaint, it is alleged that on February 12, 1997, a sample of grounded black salt was taken. As per the public analyst’s report, it did not contain Iodine which was required under a notification dated October 14, 1986. Counsel for the petitioner contended that the prohibition was in respect of common salt only and did not apply to grounded black salt which was not required to carry Iodine....”.

The Judge further observed: “There was a counter viewpoint that consumption of Iodised salt by persons not suffering from Iodine deficiency disorder could be harmful.... It appears that on rethinking, the Government of India accepted the counter viewpoint that it was not necessary to make it mandatory to sell only Iodised salt for human consumption”.

The Judge concluded: “In view of the fact that the Government of India has taken a decision not to insist on requirement of Iodine in the salt and also in view of the notification being applicable only to common salt, prosecution of the petitioner for the absence of Iodine in grounded black salt is not justified. The petition is allowed and the proceedings against the petitioner on the basis of the complaint are quashed”.

Suspension challenged

In a petition filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission member Dara Singh on Wednesday challenged the orders of his suspension. Taking up his application, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court fixed November 16 as the next date of hearing in the case.

In his petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, Dara Singh claimed that his suspension orders, besides the chargesheet, had been issued without jurisdiction. Giving details, he had contended that there was no power with the state government to suspend a judicial member.

Describing as false the incident narrated in the chargesheet, Dara Singh had added that “it was pure and simple criminal act done at the behest of Punjab Chief Minister” so as to prevent him from exercising his judicial powers during the hearing of the petitions dealing with the voting right of certain SGPC members before the elections on November 12.

In an affidavit submitted before the High Court, Dara Singh had earlier claimed that he was picked up by the police following his refusal to tow the line of the state government. He had also denied the allegations of consuming liquor.

He had alleged that Judicial Commission President Kashmir Singh had told him to pass orders against certain SGPC members supporting former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, as the present Chief Minister’s prestige was at stake in the forthcoming SGPC elections. After he insisted upon passing the orders “on merit”, he was picked up by the police, Dara Singh had submitted.

Notice of motion

Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday issued notice of motion on a petition filed by approver in Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam Jagman Singh seeking directions to the trial court for examining him as the first witness after framing of charges and then release him on bail.

The petitioner was earlier taken into custody in a case registered in the PPSC scam under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act by the State Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar on March 25. Claiming to have been implicated in the case, he had added in another petition that his name had not been mentioned in the first information report registered by the Bureau. Counsel for the petitioner had added that Jagman Singh was later projected as a tout of Commission’s suspended chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu. The case will now come up for further hearing on November 20.


Scam in mid-day meal scheme
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 13
The mid-day meal scheme started in primary schools in the state on the directions of the Supreme Court has turned out to be a farce in the district.

Under the scheme, each student is supposed to be given a diet of Rs 3 to 3.50 in the form of laddoos, soyabeen, “khhichdi”, halwa, etc. However, in the absence of cooked food, each student is given 100 gm of wheat.

According to official sources, irregularities have been detected in the distribution of wheat in Kahnuwan block.

Kulwant Singh, head teacher, of Beri and Sukhdev Singh, a teacher at Dhesian, primary school were allegedly involved in the scam. Both these teachers have allegedly misappropriated over Rs 50,000.

The sources said an inquiry in this regard was conducted by the Deputy District Education Officer (Primary), which found these teachers guilty, who were made to pay the amount.

The inquiry report has been sent to the Education Department.

The sources alleged that the wheat distributed by the office of the Deputy Commissioner through Punsup was sub-standard.

The Deputy Commissioner has given orders to the Education Department to intimate him about the quality of wheat distributed under the scheme, but surprisingly no complaint in this regard has so far been received.

The district has 1,548 primary schools and more than 60,000 students.

Dorangla block has been chosen for serving cooked meals under the scheme. However, villagers belonging to border areas said the scheme existed on papers only.


Labour laws to be cut to 15
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, November 13
Union Government has been preparing a comprehensive draft of the labour policy. It would be tabled in Parliament for approval in the forthcoming Budget session, Union Minister of State for Labour Ashok Pardhan, stated this to reporters here today.

He said the Second Labour Commission had already submitted its report to the ministry and consultation and discussion were on with various political parties, labour unions and associations, mediapersons and labour law experts at different levels to give it final shape.

“Subsequently, draft of the new labour policy would be tabled in the next Budget session of Parliament for approval. The government is committed to the simplifying of the provisions of labour laws to help labourers and employers. It has also decided to reduce the number of existing labour laws from 200 to 15,” Mr Pardhan added.

He refuted allegations of Left parties that the new labour policy would result in more exploitation of labourers at the hands of the employers. “We are committed to safeguarding the interests of 40 crore labourers in the country, particularly those in the unorganised sector, who are most deprived of their rights due to ignorance,” he added.

On the problems being faced by Indians, who had migrated to western countries and to West Asia for greener pastures, he said that the ministry recently set-up a Protector of Immigrants Cell to provide all legal help, using various diplomatic channels to protect them from any kind of exploitation at the hands of their foreign employers.

Commenting on the “illegal” methods adopted by some of the unscrupulous travel agents for making money in the name of sending unemployed youth abroad, the minister asserted that it would be made compulsory for every travel agency to register itself with the ministry and the agency would face prosecution in case of irregularities, he said.

He admitted that hundreds of Punjabi youths had migrated abroad in search of better employment opportunities by using “illegal” methods. “We are in the process of compiling the data of such cases and would see how could the government help them attain legal status in that country,” Mr Pardhan added.

AMRITSAR: The country has a labour force of about 40 crore, out of which only three crore come under the social security net. The remaining 37 crore have not been covered and a majority of these are farmers, said Mr Ashok Pradhan, Union Minister for Labour, while addressing a press conference at information office, Golden Temple, on Wednesday.

He said the government had constituted the second Labour Commission under the chairmanship of Justice Virender Verma, but the opposition was not ready to debate on the report of the commission. He said the BJP, was discussing the matter with various unions, representatives of associations and labour law experts to bring the remaining labour force in the social security net.

The minister further said besides spreading awareness about the evil of bonded labour, it had made provision for about 1.90 lakh bonded labourers to be adopted by different organisations for better living. He said there were about 1.12 crore child labourers and a majority of them were in Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh.

Describing the win of the SAD candidate in the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee elections as the victory of justice over injustice and of good over evil, the minister said it had created history. Mr Pradhan alleged that instead of starting development work in the state, the Chief Minister started political vendetta against the opposition.


SAD MLA refused bail in school funds case
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 13
Mr Harbans Lal, Special Judge, here today rejected the bail applications of Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, SAD (B) MLA from Budhlada. Dr Lakhwinder Singh Moosa, District President, Youth Akali Dal (B) and Mr Narinder Pal Danewalia, President, the Arhtiya Association Punjab unit in a case registered against them and 10 others under Sections 420 and 468 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 7 and 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 for alleged misappropriation of Rs 22 lakh of Khalsa High School here.

Others involved in the case are Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, former Mansa MLA, Mr Sukhwinder Singh, Chairman, Mansa Central Cooperative Bank, Mansa, Mr Malkiat Singh Bhapla, former president, Truck Union, Mansa, Mr Mukhtiar Singh Tandia, member, SGPC and Ms Bhupinder Kaur, former District Education Officer (Secondary), Mansa.

The case was registered on the complaint of Mr Magher Singh president, Managing Committee of the local Khalsa High School. He had stated that a “fake” managing committee appointed Dalip Singh as manager with the power of correspondent of the school and this “fake” managing committee allegedly received bribe for the appointment of staff and for reinstating the dismissed and suspended employees of the school. They also allegedly received huge amount on account of rent of the shops belonging to the school, he added. The court stayed the arrest of four advocates — Dalip Singh, Jagir Singh, Kuldeep Singh and Harcharan Singh Sidhu in the above said case on October 22, 2002. Their bail applications are pending before the court for arguments on November 18. Ms Bhupinder Kaur, former District Education Officer (Secondary), Mansa got her arrest stayed from the court.


Foreign firm may handle garbage in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 13
The Patiala Municipal Corporation is proposing to go in for global tenders for handling of garbage in the city besides proposing to even privatise door-to-door collection of garbage in the city.

The proposals have been listed on the agenda for the November 15 meeting of the corporation, which will take a final decision on the matter. Sources said the corporation had earlier held talks with an American company for handling all its solid waste. The company, which had only demanded land for the project, had promised the corporation 25 per cent of the power generated by it by burning the solid waste. The private company has also planned to produce tiles after burning the solid waste, which could be sold commercially. The tender is being called a on built-own-and-operate basis with the company required to treat at least 300 metric tonnes of garbage everyday.

The sources said besides this, the corporation was also holding talks with a French firm, Onyx, to privatise garbage collection in the city. The firm is already collecting garbage in a few zones in Chennai and it has been decided to send a 25- member team of corporators to Chennai to study the operations of the company there.

The sources said the scheme was yet to be finetuned as the company was charging Rs 20 per head in Chennai for the service. Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma, when contacted on the issue, said there were many areas in the city where people could not pay even half the amount per house. He said the corporation would study a proposal to subsidise part of the cost so that people had to pay less for the service. Mr Sharma said all sweepers of the corporation would be adjusted by the private company if the scheme was approved.

Meanwhile, a perusal of the meeting agenda also revealed that the corporation was proposing to give a 2450 sq yrd plot worth lakhs of rupees to the District Congress Committee (Urban) on a request by its President Ved Prakash Gupta. According to the agenda, the DCC (Urban) had requested the corporation to give a 3000 sq yrd plot to the DCC (Urban) on a 99-year lease. The agenda says the request was discussed and a survey of the vacant plots of the corporation made, following which it had been decided to put the request before the house. The corporation has identified a 2450 sq yrd plot near the PSEB Forest Sub-Division Office on the Sirhind road to be given to the DCC (Urban).

Besides, the agenda also contains an item proposing to increase the constituency allowance of both the corporators and the Mayor. It is proposed to pay the corporators Rs 5,000 per month from the present Rs 3,000 per month and pay the Mayor Rs 10,000 per month from the present Rs 5,000 per month. The request will, however, have to be forwarded to the Secretary, Local Government, after it is passed by the House, which will take a final decision on the matter. The corporators are also proposing to give themselves Rs 200 per meeting of the House, according to another agenda item.

Besides, the House will also discuss development works worth Rs 80 lakh that are being undertaken by the corporation, including applying pre mix on various roads in the city besides discussing laying of concrete floor of several roads in the inner city at a cost of Rs 1 crore.


Help check drug menace, NGOs urged
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 13
In view of the increase in the number of drug addicts in the district, Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, convened a meeting of social organisations to devise ways to check this menace.

Speaking on the occasion, he said there were reports that more than 10 per cent of the population, a majority of them youths, in the district were drug addicts against 4 per cent in the country.

He said he had received numerous complaints against many medical stores which were allegedly selling intoxicants.

The district police chief sought the cooperation of NGOs to fight the menace. He disclosed that recently the district police, accompanied by officers of the Health Department, conducted a raid on a local medical store and seized intoxicants worth Rs 3 lakh. A case under the NDPS Act has been registered against the owner of the store.

Three coordination committees comprising members of the Jan Sahara, the Sewa Bharti and the Lions Club have been constituted to check the menace with the help of the police in the district. Similar committees will by constituted at Kot Kapura and Jaitu.

Earlier, participating in the meeting, several members gave suggestions to curb the evil and demanded action against unregistered medical practitioners.

Meanwhile, the Faridkot police arrested more than 30 drug addicts and mobile drug sellers this evening in the district.


Artistes honoured at NZCC concert
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 13
At a well-attended concert of classical music and gazals, presented by 14-year-old artist Sumangal Arora and sponsored by NZCC, prominent personalities were honoured for their outstanding contribution in their respective fields.

These include theatre couple Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal, Mr S.S. Kareer, Mr Yash Pal Sharma, Dr Som Pandav, Mr Deepak Sharma, Mr Jagmohan and Mr J.L. Miglani.

The chief guest, Mr K.S. Kang, administrative-member, PSEB, said hard work and regular riaz were behind the success of Sumangal. He congratulated his gurus, including his grandfather, Dr Dev Kishan Arora, who has been keeping the tradition of his forefathers alive. He also congratulated the organisers, Mr Jaspal Malhotra (NZCC), Mr Sudesh Verma (anchor) and Dr Ram Arora (father of Sumangal) for the success of the show.

Earlier yesterday, Harbhajan Mann, a renowned Punjabi popstar and hero of the much-hyped Punjabi movie ‘‘Jee aayan noon’’ visited the NTAS Mandir, Patiala, and sought blessings of Lord Shiva.


Programme on drug awareness
Our Correspondent

Behman Diwana (Bathinda), November 13
Parents and teachers should pay special attention to school students who they feel are taking narcotics. Dr Mehboob Singh Sran, project director of the Bathinda Red Cross de-addiction centre, said this while addressing students of Government Senior Secondary School here today.

Mr Baljinder Singh, a social worker, distributed anti-drug handbills among the students and residents of the village.


ST on fertilisers sends farmers to Haryana
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 13
The imposition of 4 per cent sale tax on fertilisers by the Punjab Government seems to have become a blessing in disguise for fertiliser traders of Haryana as farmers of Punjab have started frequenting them to purchase their requirements at cheaper rates due to absence of sales tax on some of the commodities in that state.

Though the sales tax authorities in Punjab have not started bothering about this trend as yet, the fertiliser dealers of those districts of Punjab, which border Haryana, pointed out that the current rabi season would witness a 25 per cent fall in the sale of DAP and urea in Punjab as compared to their sale in the corresponding period during the last year. They said the trend of bringing fertilisers from Haryana would catch up among the farmers in the coming days when the use of fertiliser would begin at a large scale.

They pointed out that at present the farmers had been getting a 50 kg urea bag of a reputed company at Rs 10 less in Haryana than in Punjab while they were getting a 50 kg bag of DAP at Rs 30 less in Haryana than in Punjab.

Mr Narinder Mittal, member of the Punjab State Fertiliser, Pesticide and Seed Traders Association, pointed out that farmers of Bathinda, Mansa Muktsar, Patiala and Sangrur districts had been buying their requirements of DAP and urea at cheaper prices in Haryana taking advantage of their close proximity to these markets.

He added that last year the rate of a 50 kg bag of urea was Rs 200 and this year it had increased to Rs 235. Similarly, the rate of a 50 kg bag of DAP had gone up to Rs 485 this year from Rs 400 last year. The prices of urea and DAP had also gone up as the Central Government had revised the prices a few months ago. He said these differences in prices had adversely affected the sale of those fertiliser dealers who had been conducting their business from the afore mentioned five districts of Punjab.

Agricultural experts pointed out that due to a considerable hike in the prices of urea and DAP, a significant section of farmers of those areas of Punjab which could not arrange the fertilisers from Haryana might keep their land undernourished in the current rabi season by using minimum fertilisers to keep the cost of inputs within limits. They added that such a trend would adversely affect the yield of wheat, mustard, potato and gram which were main crops of the rabi season.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Bathinda said the Sales Tax Department had no authorities to stop the farmers from bringing fertislisers from neighbouring state of Haryana. He added that only traders could be asked to deposit tax if they brought the fertilisers from Haryana.


Engineers allege ‘mental harassment’
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 13
The PSEB Engineers Association of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) region has expressed resentment over the alleged “mental harassment” to the engineers, of the RTP regarding the registration of FIRs in the EPF scam, against two labour contractors. The contractors had allegedly duped their workers of their EPF contributions between April, 1997 and December, 1999 by allegedly forging bank challans.

A spokesman for the association said here today that the engineers at a general body meeting of the association, held at the plant on Tuesday, maintained that the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Chandigarh, had held in the matter of dispute about the deposit liability of the EPF contribution of labourers that contractors having independent EPF codes were principal employers and as such were solely responsible for complying with the requirement of the EPF Act.

The spokesman said the engineers resolved that any strong-arm tactics by the police against the engineers in the case would be met with tough resistance.

He stated that the engineers unanimously resolved that the deployment of workers through contractors to carry out routine activities of maintenance be stopped at the plant.


Thermal plant units trip
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 13
Due to some technical fault the tripping of the unit No 4 of the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) in the early morning today resulted in the tripping of the 220-KV Ropar-Gobindgarh transmission line. This further led to the tripping of the unit No 5 and the unit No 6 of the plant at about 3 a.m.

The sources said due to the tripping of the Ropar-Gobindgarh transmission line, Gobindgarh and the adjoining areas remained without power for sometime.

The sources said this afternoon that four units of the plant were generating power while the unit No 4 and the unit No 5 were under repair.


PPCB closes six brickkilns
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 13
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has moved against brick kilns, saila plants and rice shellers which have defaulted on the installation of effluent treatment plants (ETPs) and air pollution control devices (APCDs), closing down eight units, besides initiating action against 77 others.

The PPCB had earlier fixed September 30 as the deadline for all rice shellers and saila plants to install pollution devices and October 31 as the last date by which all brick kilns in the state were to install APCDs.

The regional offices of the board have started initiating action against the defaulters, sources disclosed. The PPCB has closed down six brick kilns — two each in Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Bathinda districts.

The regional offices have recommended action against 21 more units. The board has written to the Deputy Commissioners not to issue licences for operation to any brick kiln unless it acquired a no-objection certificate from it.

The sources said two saila plants had been closed down in Kapurthala and action had been initiated against eight others which had not installed ETPs. The sources said a recent survey had revealed that 11 units had still not installed ETPs while five others were still defaulting on installation of APCDs out of a total of 448 working saila plants in the state.

A total of 88 rice shellers — 25 in Gurdaspur, 20 in Sangrur, 16 each in Amritsar and Ludhiana, six in Faridkot and five in Bathinda, were found to be defaulting with regard to installation of APCDs.


In-laws ‘beat up’ woman for dowry
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 13
A case of torture and beating up of a woman by her in-laws at Premgarh Mohalla for dowry was reported at the city police station, Hoshiarpur, yesterday. She reportedly attempted suicide.

According to police sources, Manjit Kaur, mother of the victim, Rajiv Kaur, had lodged a complaint against her daughter’s father-in-law, Prem Singh, mother-in-law, Kamlesh Kaur and husband Hardeep Singh in which she alleged that they used to torture and beat up Rajiv Kaur for more dowry.

This had forced her to attempt suicide by consuming poison. She was admitted to the local Civil Hospital and was later referred to the DMC, Ludhiana, where she was struggling for life. The police has registered a case under Sections 307 and 498-A of the IPC.


2 robbers held

Phagwara, November 13
The district police arrested two armed robbers near the local Grain Market late last night. The police, led by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Harmanvir Singh Gill, recovered two .12-bore countrymade pistols and five live cartridges from the possession of the robbers who were identified as Palwinder Singh and Harwinder Singh. UNI


Youth fest opens at GND varsity

Amritsar, November 13
The Punjab Government is committed to preserve and promote cultural heritage of the state and has taken a number of steps in this regard, said Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister of Local Bodies, Punjab while inaugurating a four-day final youth festival (men and women) of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Speaking on the occasion, the minister said help would be provided to the university for the establishment of a “heritage village” on the campus.

More than 900 students of colleges in Amritsar, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr districts would participate in music, dance, theatre, fine art, folk song, folk orchestra, rangoli and Phulkari categories.

The minister also laid the foundation stone of a new D-type residential block for university employees on the campus, which would cost Rs 35.45 lakh. OC


Hostel girls allege bias
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, November 13
Resenting Punjabi University administration’s move to fix the entry time to the girls hostels at 6 p.m. girl students of four university hostels claim that they are being subjected to a “step-motherly” treatment by the university authorities and the facilities being provided to them are inadequate compared with those in boys hostels. Even the food being provided to them is inferior in quality, several hostel girls say.

Although the girls have appreciated the recent measures taken by the Dean (Students Welfare), Dr N.S. Kapoor, including enhanced security outside the girls hostels, however, they stressed that classes of girl students enrolled in professional courses ended at around 5 p.m. and reporting to their respective hostels by 6 pm gave them a little time for visiting the library or recreation hall. Emphasising that most universities in the region, including Panjab University, Chandigarh, had a more girl student-friendly hostel rules and timings they alleged that the authorities had paid no attention to their grievances.

Lamenting the lack of any entertainment facilities in the girls hostels, one of the senior research scholar said, “What does the administration expect us to do after 6 pm, we cannot go to the library, there are absolutely no recreation facilities, not even a table-tennis table or a gym whereas almost every boys hostels have these facilities. The ambience of the girls hostels is more like a fortress after 6 pm.”

The single computer installed each in the girls hostels did not even have an Internet connection and most students seldom got enough time to use it as an average of 200 girls stayed in each hostel, they said.

The girls said though no one objected to hostel boys playing their music systems on electricity, the same was strictly banned in the girls hostels.

“Some boys even keep coolers during summers and we are not even allowed to charge our cellphone batteries in our rooms. Why this discrimination? The rules should be same for all,” the girls said. Pleading not to name them, as they had been specifically instructed by their respective wardens not to speak to the Press about their grievances, the girls said the rules of their hostels had remained unchanged for years and no effort had been made by the administration to make the regulations more student-friendly.

Dr Kapoor said he would look into the problems of the girls “on a priority basis”.

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