Sunday, November 17, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No police entry in my tenure: Badal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Refuting the allegations of police entry into the Golden Temple complex during the tenure of his government, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD President, said the police had never entered the complex during his time. Mr Badal was addressing a press conference after a meeting of party workers and members of the SGPC at Bhai Gurdass Hall here today.

The crucial PAC meeting that was cancelled today was postponed. It was learnt that the meeting was postponed following indications that the critical decision regarding the fate of Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi former SGPC chief and chairman of the disciplinary committee of the SAD, was sensitive and needed more in-depth deliberations before an announcement could be made for the proposed action against (Mr Talwandi) who had crossed over to the camp of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra on the eve of the SGPC elections.

Mr Badal said the police had never entered the Golden Temple complex in the manner it was “sent” now by imposing Section 144, CrPC.

He said his stand of shifting SGPC members to Balasar was vindicated as the government had tried to thwart his efforts to make sure they voted.

On a query whether he would appeal to Akal Takht Jathedar to summon Capt Amarinder Singh at Akal Takht, he said it was for the Jathedar and the SGPC to decide what action could be taken.

He denied any interference by the Union Government in the recently conducted SGPC poll. He said his party would chalk out the next plan of action after the outcome of the “jail bharo andolan” on November 27 and asserted that it would force the Chief Minister to resign by intensifying agitations against him.

The Chief Minister passed three resolutions at the meeting of party workers that included denouncement of the police entry in the Golden Temple complex. The meeting congratulated the Sikh Panth for the victory of Panthic forces against the government might.


BJP leaders assail CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Taking serious note of some Congress ministers’ comments against the BJP Party Chief, Mr Venkaiah Naidu, the President of Punjab BJP, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa and General Secretary, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, said yesterday that their party President had only shown a mirror to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, while describing the prevailing situation in the state during the BJP rally at Tarn Taran.

In a joint statement, the BJP leaders said though Congress ministers claimed that Capt Amarinder Singh was a progressive Chief Minister but his performance of the past eight months showed nothing extra-ordinary. The Chief Minister remained busy in targeting his political opponents and transferring officers and other officers. The open support extended to the Tohra group in the SGPC elections had exposed the secular face of the Congress government in the state.

Refuting the Congress ministers’ claim that Capt Amarinder Singh’s functioning was democratic and humane, the BJP leaders said that the Chief Minister was moving about in the USA and the UK when the Punjab farmers were facing drought.

The BJP leaders said that the Punjab Government was being run by OSDs and certain other officers and not by ministers. Otherwise, a good number of ministers and MLAs would not have complained to Mrs Sonia Gandhi regarding Government’s interference in the SGPC polls.

The BJP leaders said that Capt Amarinder Singh had resigned from the Council of Ministers during the Barnala government following entry of the police in the area where it had entered a few days ago. This showed CM’s double standards, they asserted.


Talwandi abstains from SAD meeting

Amritsar, November 16
Veteran Akali leader and member of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal Jagdev Singh Talwandi failed to turn up at the meeting of the PAC members, MLAs and SGPC members which began a short while from now at Bhai Gurdass Hall here today.

However, Mr Talwandi’s son Mr Ranjit Singh Talwandi, who represents the SAD in the state Assembly from the Raikot constituency in Ludhiana district, was present at the meeting, SAD sources confirmed.

The meeting is also being attended by former MLAs and ex-MPs as well s the district jathedars of the SAD. UNI


SGPC poll: probe ‘Badal’s expenditure’
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 16
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today urged the Income Tax authorities, the CBI and the Vigilance Bureau to conduct an iqnuiry into the expenditure incurred by Mr Prakash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, on keeping members of the SGPC at Balasar in Haryana and then on taking them to Amritsar in a chartered aeroplane to Amritsar for SGPC elections. He also urged them to make the inquiry report public so that people could know “who spent the money and from where on the SGPC members?”

Talking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Guru Singh Sabha here today, Mr Mann also asked Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister to explain why he had sent to police in serais (inns) of the Golden Temple complex.

Mr Mann also asked the Union Government to enact a law on the pattern of POTA for the prevention of atrocities against minorities in the country. He also criticised the Central Government for not signing the International Criminal Court Treaty which provided a safeguard to the people against the violation of the human rights.

Mr Mann also announced that Jathedar Bhag Singh Surtapur was district unit president of his party. The remaining members of the district unit would be nominated soon.


Thekedar guns for Bir Devinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Opening a front against Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Congress MLA from Kharar, Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar, Congress MLA from Amritsar (South), said today that Mr Bir Devinder Singh, should be thrown out of the party for his anti-party activities.

Asserting that the police did not enter the Golden Temple complex, Mr Thekedar said the statement given by Mr Bir Devinder Singh criticising the Capt Amarinder Singh government would be brought to the notice of Mrs Sonia Gandhi. A deputation of party leaders would go to Delhi to meet the party President soon, he added.

When asked that Mr Umrao Singh, another senior Congress leader, had also given a statement criticising government’s action in Amritsar, Mr Thekedar said he did not read that statement. But anyone who had spoken against the government from Congress ranks should be expelled from the party, he added.

Claiming that his house was at a stone’s throw from the Golden Temple complex, Mr Thekedar said that a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had politicised the complex issue as he wanted to divert public attention from ongoing inquiries against him to religious issues. During Mr Badal’s regime the police often used to be deployed in the complex, he added.

When asked on whose orders the police arrested SGPC members, and harassed their families Mr Thekedar said police officers would have done so on their own.


Punjab on slippery wicket
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The Punjab Government today found itself on a slippery wicket when Punjab and Haryana High Court Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy asked the Advocate-General to explain how Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission member Dara Singh was released on bail if he was not arrested for committing a cognizable offence?

It all started at about 10.15 am when a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising the Chief Justice and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, took up the petition filed by Dara Singh challenging the orders of his suspension. One of the first questions asked by the Chief Justice was whether Dara Singh had committed any cognizable offence?”

The Advocate-General replied. Dissatisfied with the answer, the Chief Justice repeated the question, once twice, thrice, four times. Finally the Advocate-General told the court that a cognizable offence had not been committed. The step, he added, had been taken as a preventive measure.

Then the Advocate-General was asked to explain if any notice was served upon Dara Singh? No, the Advocate-General replied. At that stage he was in an inebriated state. Even the next morning, he did not disclose his identity and was later taken to the Sub Divisional Magistrate’s court and released on bail.

It was then the Chief Justice asked, “Where is the question of bail if cognizable offence had not been committed by Dara Singh? That is the reason why the question regarding the committing of cognizable offence was being asked”. The Judges then adjourned the case to November 20.

In his petition, Dara Singh had earlier claimed that his suspension orders, besides the charge sheet, 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 charge sheet, 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.


Accused drags ex-minister in case
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 16
Charanjit Singh, one of the two main accused in the paper leakage case of the Punjab Nurses Registration Council, has alleged the complicity of former Minister of Health Inderjit Singh Zira and president of the Nursing Training Institutes Association, Punjab, Mr Charanjit Singh Walia in the case. The two have, however, denied any involvement in the case.

Alleging that the present Registrar of the council, Ms Aruna Chhabra, had been appointed through Mr Charanjit Walia and the former minister’s intervention, Charanjit Singh, in an impromptu press conference, pointed out that Ms Chhabra was instrumental in the leakage of question papers as she had on Mr Walia’s behest posted a particular examiner in the Srinagar centre who allegedly leaked the question paper.

Mr Walia and the former minister have counter-alleged that according to their information, the two accused have been involved in leaking examination papers from the council for at least two years and now since they have been caught, they were trying to involve others.

Mr Zira also said he was approached by the present Registrar for her appointment to the council but he had shown his inability to help her. ‘‘I don’t even know who she is,’’ said Mr Zira.

Charanjit Singh also handed over to mediapersons the comments of the Registrar, which she had given in writing after the papers were leaked. In her comments, she has informed that she suspects the Srinagar examiner to have leaked the question papers. She points out that despite her telephonic orders on the morning of October 25, a day after the first paper was leaked, that the October 25th and 26th examinations not be conducted, the Srinagar centre examiner went ahead with the examinations on both the days to justify the opening of the seal of the examination paper bundles.

‘‘The plan was to get back all bundles of question papers in sealed form and to catch the culprit by identifying the bundle with a tampered seal. But the Srinagar examiner, who is a Principal of a nurses’ institute in Kotkapura, defied the orders and continued to hold the examinations. This examiner had been posted there at the behest of Mr Charanjit Walia,’’ said Charanjit Singh.

Mr Charanjit Singh Walia denied that he had anything to do with either the appointment of the Registrar of the council or getting a particular examiner posted in Srinagar.

Charanjit Singh also alleged that he and the Superintendent, Gurpal Singh Kang, who have been named in the FIR, were innocent and had been made a scapegoat to save the real culprits. Both the accused have been granted anticipatory bail from the Sessions Judge, District Ropar.


Motor repair scam unearthed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 16
Even as an inquiry into the contract labour scam that surfaced in the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP) is still pending, another scam in the repair of high-tension (HT) motors has come to the fore. Inquiries by The Tribune revealed that for the past 10 years, the plant authorities had been placing work orders for the repair of HT motors on a single quotation basis causing a huge financial loss to the PSEB.

The plant has high-tension motors supplied by Bharat Heavy Electrical Ltd (BHEL), Kirloskar and Jyoti companies. From 1991 to 2000, the repairs of these motors were carried out on a single quotation basis by a Mohali-based firm, HSB and Sons. In 2000 alone, the plant authorities got these repairs done for Rs 43.60 lakh in four cases without calling for quotations.

However, after the transfer of the Superintending Engineer (Electrical) concerned in 2000, when the new authorities invited tenders for a similar job, they saved more than 70 per cent for similar work. Sources said a 1,300 KW BHEL motor of unit two of the plant was damaged on October 19, 1999. It was repaired by the Mohali-based firm at a cost of Rs 9.55 lakh on a single quotation basis. However, a similar fault of a motor of the same capacity was got repaired in July 2001 at a cost of just Rs 2.09 lakh by calling for open tenders, thus saving Rs 7.46 lakh for the PSEB.

In another case, a 250-KW motor that was damaged in January 2001 was jointly inspected by a representative of the Mohali-based firm and the plant engineers. The firm in February 2001 quoted Rs 3.48 lakh for the repair of the motor. However, when the newly posted officer, instead of getting the work done from the firm called for open tenders, the same firm quoted Rs 1.64 lakh for the job. The plant authorities finally got the work done for Rs 3.48 lakh.

The sources said the plant authorities got the work done from the Mohali-based firm on a single quotation for 10 years continuously causing a huge financial loss to the PSEB on the plea that of all aforesaid companies it was the only accredited re-winders and repairers of HT motors company. However, the sources said recent inquiries had revealed that the firm did not fall under the category of authorised dealers or agents of aforesaid companies.

If an inquiry was conducted into the amount of repairs got done from the Mohali-based firm on a single quotation basis during the past 10 years, it may surface as another scam in which unscrupulous officers allegedly swindled lakhs from the coffers of the board.

The sources also said the Comptroller and Auditor General’s office of Punjab had also taken notice of the anomalies in the repairing rates of the HT motors in the plant and written to the PSEB Chairman to take action in the matter.


Naib Tehsildar booked
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
A former PA of an Akali Dal (Badal) MLA, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, who is now posted as naib tehsildar, did not pay the requisite fee while applying for the post. A criminal case has already been registered against the former PA, Charanjeet Singh, by the Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), said here today that during the investigation it was found that Charanjeet Singh had not deposited the fee to the Punjab Subordinate Staff Selection Board while applying for the post of naib tehsildar in 1996.

The written test for the post was held in August 9, 1998. The bank demand draft that Charanjeet Singh claimed to have deposited for paying fee, was actually submitted with the board by Manjit Singh, a resident of Muktsar district.

Mr Grewal said Mr Manjit Singh had submitted two demand drafts with the board, having serial numbers 136769 and 136768, one each for the post of kanungo and naib-tehsildar.

The board had issued three lists containing the roll numbers of the candidates who were eligible for sitting in the written test for posts of naib tehsildar. Out of these, first two were computerised, while the third one was hand-written. The name of Charanjeet Singh appeared in the third list, he said.

Mr Grewal said during the investigation of the case against Charanjeet Singh it was found that all 18 appointments of naib tehsildars made on basis of written test and interview conducted in 1998, should be probed. He said the academic record, performance of the selected candidates in the written test showed that there could be some malpractices in the selection.

While the selected candidates got low marks in the written test, they scored higher marks in the interview. The bureau has suggested that an inquiry should be conducted into the selection of all candidates.

Mr Grewal said as Charanjeet Singh had not fulfilled the basic requirements of depositing fee while submitting the application form, his selection was questionable.

Mr Raghubir Singh, a Congress leader of Muktsar district, has lodged a complaint with the bureau, regarding the selection of Charanjeet Singh.

A case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and 13(1) D read with 1388 PC Act was registered against Charanjeet Singh at Vigilance Bureau police station sometime ago.

Mr Grewal said the report had been sent to the senior officials for further action.


Consulate-General to function from November next
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Mr Herb Dhaliwal, Canada’s Minister of Natural Resources, is yet to make up his mind on “joining the leadership race” that could anoint him as Prime Minister.

“I have not even decided to say no. Ours is a very open system where various factors, including community service, are considered in electing a new leader of the party,” says Mr Dhaliwal, who was here this afternoon to perform the ribbon cutting ceremony for the establishment of the office of the Consulate-General of Canada in the city.

Mr Dhaliwal says he has yet to give a thought to the whole thing before making up his mind. The ruling Liberal Party of Canada, of which Mr Dhaliwal is a senior member, has decided to replace Prime Minister Jean Chertien next year. The front runner for the position is Mr Paul Martin, who resigned in June this year from Mr Jean Chretien’s Cabinet.

Mr Dhaliwal had given indications of joining the race for the Prime Ministership early this year. Otherwise, Mr Dhaliwal, as an Indian-Canadian, has risen to the highest position in the federal politics occupying key Cabinet positions like Revenue, Natural Resources, besides Oceans and Fisheries during the eight of his past nine years of his three terms as Member of House of Commons.

Talking about the new legislation being proposed by the US authorities requiring landed immigrants of Canada belonging to majority of Commonwealth nations, including India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, to get a visa before entering the USA, Mr Dhaliwal said Canada would strongly oppose any “racial profiling”. There is, at present, no such requirement.

“We have a very strict and tight security system before granting landed immigrant status to an alien,” he said, maintaining that the issue has been taken up with the US authorities at the government level.

Mr Dhaliwal said at present India was the second largest source of immigrants to Canada. Of the total immigrants, nearly 45 to 50 per cent came from Punjab alone.

Talking about the high rejection rate of applicants from Punjab, Mr Dhaliwal said people should be forthright in stating the purpose of their visit to Canada.

The Canadian Natural Resources Minister said the decision of the Canadian Government to open a full-fledged Consulate-General in Chandigarh was landmark. It would cost the federal government between $ 23 and 25 million in the next five years and the new office which would become functional by November next year will have a staff strength of 35 to 40.

Complimenting the Indo-Canadian community and his colleague in the Liberal Party, Mr Gurbax Malhi, MP, Mr Dhaliwal said it was a collective effort supported by the Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Foreign Affairs Minister and Minister for Immigration and Citizenship of Canada that got the Canadian part through.

On the Indian side, he said besides Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee and some of his successors, it was Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities who helped in getting the clearance for opening a Consulate-General office outside the four cosmopolitan towns of New Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai.

The Consulate-General would not only facilitate Indian-Canadians and their families or visa seekers but also boost Indo-Canadian trade in general and Canada-Punjab cooperation in particular.

Mr Gurbax Malhi said the establishment of a Consulate-General was fulfilment of a dream as the immigrants from Punjab in the early ’30s had to struggle very hard to establish themselves. He said the Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular were elated when he became the first turbaned man to enter Canadian House of Commons in 1993.

The Canadian High Commission, Mr Peter Sutherland, said Mr Dhaliwal was the fifth Canadian minister to visit India this year. Next week the sixth minister would come. Four Indian ministers have visited Canada this year.

Mr Dhaliwal led a delegation of 46 to five cities in eight days in an endeavour to work out possibility of new joint ventures in various areas of natural resources, including forestry, renewable energy and nuclear energy.

The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was the chief guest, said that Punjab had signed an MoU with the delegation accompanying Mr Dhaliwal today for setting up a plant at Ludhiana to produce energy from waste material.

Also present at the ceremony were Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, National Commission for Minorities; Punjab Ministers — Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Ch Jagjit Singh and Ch Santokh Singh — besides senior officers of the Punjab Government, including Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, and Secretary Cooperation, Dr B.C. Gupta, and the Adviser to the Administrator of Chandigarh, Ms Neeru Nanda.

The special guests at the ceremony were school children from Chaheru, the native village of Mr Dhaliwal.


Advocate files affidavit
Probe in PPSC recruitment scam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Expressing dissatisfaction with the probe being conducted in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, Punjab and Haryana High Court advocate Rupinder Khosla today claimed that the excellent job done by the intelligence wing of the Punjab Police had been nullified. He asked the state of Punjab and other respondents to explain whether “investigation had been conducted against persons whose names Dheera — approver in the case — had retracted from in his later statements?”

In an affidavit submitted before the High Court, Mr Khosla also asked for the details of the investigations if they had been conducted in this regard at all. Quoting a statement earlier issued by Additional Director-General of Police (intelligence), Mr A.P. Bhatnagar regarding ‘selective disclosures’ by ADGP (Vigilance) A.P. Pandey, Mr Khosla also asked for details of “the persons whose names had been mentioned by Dheera but held back by Mr Pandey”.

Details regarding the connection of the selected candidates with the Judges and the bureaucrats — IAS, IPS and PCS officers — along with the politicians were also sought, besides information regarding persons named by bank official K.S. Bedi for their alleged involvement in the hawala transactions. In all 18 questions were asked. The affidavit will now be taken up with the main case.

The advocate added that the main thrust of the investigation so far had been on former PPSC chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu and his touts while the role of the bureaucrats, politicians and other VIPs was being suppressed. “It is apparent that key players through which the sordid drama was being enacted included PPSC Secretary Pritpal Singh and banker K.S. Bedi.... The soft paddling regarding the role of these two gentlemen by the Vigilance Bureau and failure to trace their share in the booty has led to the escape of ‘bigger fish’ and nullified the great initiative of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh and the excellent job done by the intelligence wing of the Punjab Police”.

In his petition, Mr Khosla had earlier accused the government of being involved in “operation-coverup”, instead of revealing the truth in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi, Rupinder Khosla had claimed that the transfer of officers belonging to the intelligence wing in the middle of the investigations ”may have been done to thwart the probe”. Giving details, he had asserted: “So far as the strategy of emasculating the Intelligence Wing was concerned, the coup de grace was delivered when its head Additional Director General of Police (intelligence) Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, along with three colleagues was unceremoniously shunted out”.

34 ‘tainted’ PCS nominees get bail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 16
A court here today granted anticipatory bail to 34 “tainted” candidates who had been selected for the state civil and police service during the tenure of former PPSC Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu.

The court while passing the orders asked the candidates to co-operate with the investigating agency and also ordered the candidates to submit their passport in the court. The candidates were also directed to furnish a bail bond of Rs 50,000 and a surety of the same amount.

The candidates granted bail are Mandeep Kaur, Navdeep Singh, Ram Saran, Anil Kumar, Rajinder Bansal, Preet Mohinder Singh, Monica Sethi, Amarbir Singh, Kanwarjit Singh, Kamal Kumar, Deepak Gakhar, Jiwan Kumar, Kuljit Kaur, Randeep Singh, Bharat Bhushan, Daljit Singh, Harpreet Singh, Sarbvijay Singh, Jaspal Singh, Jasbir Singh, Baljit Singh Sandhu, Bhupinderjit Singh, Harbans Lal, Balraj Kaur, Pritpal Singh, Inderpreet Singh, Om Prakash Verma, Rajinder Singh Sidhu, Jarnail Singh, Parvinderpal Singh, Gursharan Vir Singh, Naresh Kumar, Gurjeet Singh and Amardeep Singh.


Civic poll early next year
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 16
The elections to Nagar Council and Nagar Panchayats will be held as per schedule in the beginning of the next year. This was stated by the Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, here today.

He said all officials of the Nagar Council and Nagar Panchayats had been instructed to provide clean drinking water, cleanliness, streetlight, metalled roads and sewerage in towns. He said the working of all Municipal Committees would soon be computerised in phases.

On encroachments on Municipal land in the state, he said a campaign would soon be launched to remove encroachments on Municipal lands and Municipal officials had been instructed to check encroachments daily.

On unauthorised constructions at several places the minister said Municipal officials had been instructed to dispose of all cases of map sanctioning within one month of applying for it. He added that privatisation of octroi collection would be decided by the Municipal Committees at the local level, harassment of people by octroi collectors would not be allowed.

To a question on Akali’s demands for the resignation of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, after Badungar’s election as SGPC chief . He said the Chief Minister took right steps to control law and order situation and the police did not enter the Darbar Sahib complex.


Sonia to arrive in Chandigarh on Nov 23
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
As the political scene in Punjab is hotting up, Ms Sonia Gandhi, President of the All India Congress Committee, will arrive here on November 23. She is slated to address an ex-servicemen rally in which ex-soldiers from northern states will participate, according to Zorawar Singh (retd), Chairman of the Ex-servicemen Cell of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

Ms Gandhi’s visit will provide an opportunity to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, and his close associates, to explain in detail what happened on the eve of SGPC elections and why the police had to be deployed in big strength in Amritsar. 


Pre-arrest bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The Punjab and Haryana High Court has rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by an Amritsar resident accused of possessing CDs with “inflammatory speeches of Jarnail Singh Bhindrawala and of Operation Bluestar showing the damaged Akal Takht”.

Delivering the verdict, Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court observed: “The petitioner was named in the first information report which was recorded on the basis of secret information and when the police carried out the raids, he gave them a slip and ran away. It has not been possible for the police to arrest him so far. The orders of Amritsar’s Additional Sessions Judge show that the police wants to interrogate him with regard to the origin of the recovered pirated material. The circumstances do not justify the grant of concession of anticipatory bail to the petitioner”.

According to the prosecution, Gurmit Singh and his nephew were found in possession of 1500 pirated CDs, besides the ones containing the speeches. The prosecution had added that the two were preparing the pirated CDs and offering them as genuine.


It is safe for the Court not to place reliance on the sole testimony of official witnesses with major discrepancies in their statements in a case registered under the Narcotics Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act — Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled in a significant judgement.

Delivering the verdict, Mr Justice Viney Mittal elaborated: “When the prosecution evidence comprises of merely official witnesses and there are major discrepancies in their statements, then it is safe for the Court not to put reliance on their sole testimony for ordering the conviction of the accused”.


Grievance panels’ notification by Dec
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 16
The Punjab Government has completed the process relating to constitution of the District Public Grievances Removal Committee and these will be notified by the government by December 10.

Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, Minister of State for Public Grievances (Independent Charge), Punjab, stated this to mediapersons at the Canal Rest House here today.

He said besides the district-level committee, the government had also finalised the list of sub-divisional level Grievances Removal Committees. The lists would be issued by December 10.

The minister said the chairpersons of the District Planning and Development Boards would act as chairpersons of the committees at the district-level.

Mr Sharma stated that the Population Policy had been finalised and Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh had approved it.

The minister said this policy would be presented in the next session of the Punjab Assembly.

He said there was no move to wind up the Punjab Health Systems Corporation as its term would expire in March 2004. He said with the funds from the World Bank, all154 hospitals in the state had buildings, infrastructure and medicines for the patients.


Nagar kirtan held
Tribune Reporters

Tarn Taran, November 16
A nagar kirtan in respect of Birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev was taken out today here in which thousands of school-children alongwith gatka and band parties participated. The town was decorated by putting up arches. The procession started from the local SGAD Khalsa Senior Secondary School and ended at the local Shri Guru Arjan Dev Serai. Devotees distributed sweets to the participants. Panj piaras led the procession. Representatives of political religious and social organisation also took part in the procession.

PHAGWARA: A nagar kirtan was taken out here on Saturday on the eve of the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev. It passed through decorated bazars. It started from Gurdwara Nimnawala chowk. Bands, gatka parties and shabad kirtan marked the occasion. A large number of devotees took part in it. Leaders of various parties, including local MLA Joginder Singh Mann took part in it.


Bid to save Punjab Tourism
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
The Public Sector Disinvestment Commission, headed by Mr P.H. Vaishnav, a former Chief Secretary, Punjab, may have pronounced its writ to close down the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation (PTDC), besides four other units, but the employees and management are still hopeful to save the corporation. They are now pinning their hopes on their meeting, to be held on November 18, with Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra and Director, Disinvestment, Punjab, Ms Vini Mahajan, that would make a final decision about the disinvestment.

The employees are making last ditch efforts to save the corporation. Despite adverse report of the Disinvestment Commission, they point out Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister of Cultural Affairs and Tourism, has assured them that the government may review the decision of the commission provided they could bring out the corporation out of red.

Consequently, about 500 employees under the leadership of Mr R.L.Kalsia, newly appointed Managing Director, have made significant progress in this regard. The PTDC, which suffered about Rs 40 lakh losses between June to September period, has succeeded to cut down average monthly losses from Rs 13 lakh to Rs 8 lakh. Mr Kalsia, who had played an active role in making the Ludhiana Municipal Corporation as a role model in the state, is quite hopeful that by March they would wipe out all the losses.

He has recently signed an MoU with the Himachal Pradesh Tourism Corporation to make bookings for its hotels and restaurants at PTDC counters. The corporation is also in the process of signing agreements with its counterparts in J&K, Haryana, UP, Rajasthan, Delhi, West Bengal and other states. Under that MoU, the corporation would make reservations for tourists in these states in Punjab and would get a share in their business. It has also identified 21 tourist circuits in Punjab, and neighbouring states, including Chandigarh- Sirhind- Amritsar, Chandigarh- Ropar- Naina Devi and others, in collaboration with them to jointly develop tourism in the state. It would provide board, lodging and transport facility to the tourists at reasonable rates.

The management claims that what it needs is not any financial package, but just about six months’ time, to turn the corporation into a profit making unit. Mr Ashok Bhardwaj, chief adviser to the PTDC Karamchari Dal, assures,‘‘ The government may not get more than Rs 10-20 crore by selling assets, but we would provide it the same amount as profits, if some corrective decision are taken”.

Mr Ashwani Sekhri, when contacted over phone in this regard, said from Amritsar, ‘‘ The government has not so far taken any final decision. We would wait for the financial results of the corporation by March end. Financial consultants would also submit their report about the viability of privatisation by that time. Only then the decision would be taken by the state Cabinet keeping in view the interests of the employees as well.’’


Villagers threaten agitation
Our Correspondent

Sunam, November 16
Residents of Lehal Khurd, Khai, Khandewad, Akarwas, Gaga and Changaliwala villages are up in arms over the inclusion of the villages in the Lehragaga Municipal Committee limits, stating that it would hit development works in the villages.

They have urged the state government to scrap the notification issued in connection with the increase in the municipal committee limits.

The residents, in a representation to the Punjab Rural Development Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, who represents the Lehragaga constituency, have stated that with the inclusion of their villages in the municipal limits, their business establishments like petrol stations, rice shellers, brick-kilns and foodgrain godowns would be adversely affected as these would be governed by the rules and regulations of the municipal council.

The villagers have threatened the government that if it does not cancel the notification they will be forced to launch an agitation.


CPI’s charge against govt
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
The CPI has condemned the state government for not electing chairmen and vice-chairmen of block samitis and zila parishads, although the election to members of these bodies were held about six months ago.

Mr Hardev Arshi, former MLA and member of the State Secretariat of the CPI, said in a press note here today that when the members of these bodies were elected in June, people had thought that the Congress would give more powers to the Panchayati Raj institutes in the light of the Constitutional Amendment, but nothing has happened so far, he said.


Irrational use of drugs ‘may be fatal’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Illiteracy, self-medication and prevalence of quackery, in addition to the sale of drugs without valid prescriptions, are responsible for the irrational use of drugs. This was stated by Dr Sangeeta Sharma, Technical Coordinator of the India-WHO Essential Drugs Programme, and Dr Geeta Sharma, Professor, Department of Pharmacology, Government Medical College here yesterday.

They were speaking at a workshop on rational drug use.


2 injured in accidents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
One person was injured when a vehicle hit him near Talwandi Sabo about 30 km from here. today. He was admitted to the Civil Hospital at Talwandi Sabo but was later referred to the local Civil Hospital. He has not been identified as he is mentally unsound.

In another incident, a person driving a motorcycle was injured when a vehicle hit him on the Bathinda-Gidderbaha road, about 22 km from here, last night.

He has been identified as Chandu Lal of Gidderbaha. 


36 cases settled
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, November 16
A Lok Adalat was held at the local courts complex today which was chaired by the Civil Judge (Junior Division), Mr Karunesh Kumar Kakkar.

Civil cases, family disputes, bank loan cases and even cases in pre-litigation phase were taken up at the quarterly Lok Adalat. The adalat disposed of 36 of the 53 cases put up before it today through amicable solution and compromise involving an amount of about Rs 22,00,000.

Mr Kakkar urged the residents of nearby villages, panchayat members and members of the Bar Association to create awareness about the Lok Adalats and the Legal Services Authority.

Mr Narinder Singh Bath, SDM, Mr Lakhan Pal, AGM, State Bank of India, Mr Rajesh Sharma, ADA (Legal) and other dignitaries also participated in the Lok Adalat.


Lok adalat organised
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 16
A state-level lok adalat was organised in the judicial courts complex here today under the supervision of Mr Harsh Mehta, Civil Judge (Senior Division)-cum-Member Secretary, District Legal Services Authority. It was presided over by Mr Harbans Lal, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mansa. Three Benches headed by Mr Dharam Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Ms B.K. Bhatia, Civil Judge, and Ms Jitender Kaur, Civil Judge, took up cases pertaining to motor accident claims, bank recovery, civil suits and compoundable crimes.

Of the 90 cases, 18 cases were decided through mutual settlement of the parties and Rs 6,09,239 were awarded to the parties of which deposit release orders worth Rs 1,87,239 were issued.


Man gets 10-yr RI for rape
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 16
Mr Harbans Lal, Additional District and Sessions Judge, here today sentenced Harinder Singh to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years. He was also ordered to pay a fine of Rs 2000 and in default of payment of fine he would undergo further imprisonment for six months under Sections 376 (2) (g) of the IPC.

The case was registered in the city police station on October 22, 1995 on the complaint filed by a resident of Tamkot village in the district. The complainant who was studying in eight class in Government Middle School Tamkot village, was taken to house of Paramjit Singh by Mishra Singh and Bhani Singh of the village came on the pretext that her mother was ill. Paramjit Singh is reportedly a nephew of Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, sitting MLA from Mansa. She was raped in the house by Harinder Singh and Mishra Singh.


Woman abducted, gangraped
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 16
A woman of the Islamabad Shanti Nagar area was allegedly gang-raped by four youths. The police has registered a case under Sections 376 and 366, IPC, against the four Gujjar youths.

According the FIR, mother of four children, has alleged that four youths — Alam, son of Yusaf, Saron, son of Mussa, both residents of Bajwara, Alam, son of Yusaf, of Ram Colony Camp and Ghammu, son of Gulabdeen, of Daroli abducted her on October 27. They took her to Himachal Pradesh in a Maruti van and raped her for 19 days. She managed to escape from their clutches on November 15.


3kg RDX, ammo found buried
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, November 16
The Sadar police found RDX and other arms and ammunition buried in a field at Lalowali village, 7 km from here, yesterday.

Mr Swarandeep Singh Dhillon, DSP, alongwith Mr Jaswinder Singh, SHO (Sadar), briefing mediapersons said according to an FIR lodged by Kashmir Chand of Lalowali, when labourers uprooted a tree, they noticed a black kit. They got suspicious and informed the police which opened the bag and found 3 kg of RDX, an AK-56 rifle, three magazines containing 130 cartridges and 50 cartridges of pistol, 2 metre codex wire, a detonator, LED and an adapter.

“Switch wire” was written in Urdu on the bags containing the RDX. Zameel Bashir in Urdu was inscribed on the knife. The rifle and the magazines were rusted

It is being suspected that the bag might have been hidden a few years ago by some terrorist group during terrorism in Punjab.

Police sources pointed out that the recovered quantity of RDX was sufficient to blast and destroy Fazilka.

A case has been registered. The DSP said the RDX would be sent to forensic laboratory at Chandigarh.


Police remand for junior engineer
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo (Bathinda), November 16
A court here today remanded Ashok Kumar, a junior engineer of the Panchayat Department in police remand for two days’ in a case registered against him under the Prevention of Corruption Act.

The accused was arrested yesterday in connection with a case registered against him and some other persons for embezzling panchayat funds.

Sources said that the Phulokhari village panchayat had received grants in connection with the land acquired for the Punjab refinery. The grant was Rs 1.25 crore and the accused allegedly embezzled Rs 10 lakh, in connivance with some panchayat members also.

The embezzlement of the funds had been distributed by two different officers and Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, had wrote to the BDPO, Talwandi Sabo to recover the amount.

Earlier, the police had also arrested Mahal Singh, Sarpanch and Nachhattar Singh, member panchayat of Phulokhari panchayat in connection with this case. The case was registered under Sections 409, 465, 467, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code in September this year.


2 vehicle thieves arrested
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 16
The police has arrested two persons involved in theft of brand new two-wheelers. The SSP in a press note here today said Harbhajan Singh of Hoshiarpur and Sudhir Kumar of Ludhiana were arrested in this connection. With the arrest of Sudhir Kumar, the murder case of Rajeshwari, daughter of Hukam Singh of Ludhiana has also been solved.

A police party intercepted Harbhajan Singh and Sudhir Kumar on November 11 while they were coming on a scooter. Two scooters and a motor cycle were also recovered from them.


Poppy seized
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, November 16
The local sadar police has seized 20 kg of poppy from two persons on the Kabulshah Khuban-Hiranwali link road, 13 km from here, last evening. According to the DSP, Mr Swarandeep Singh a police patrol party signalled Parkash Singh and Amarjeet Singh, both residents of Kabulshah, to stop while they were going on a scooter. However, Amarjeet Singh escaped. Parkash Singh was arrested with a bag of poppy. 


Cong leader booked
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 16
A senior Congress leader is among three persons booked under Sections 452, 341, 323, 325 and 34 of the IPC for assaulting a BJP activist with whom the ruling party leader has a dispute, it was learnt today.


Apeejay College wins youth fest trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
The Apeejay College of Fine Arts, Jalandhar, lifted the overall trophy at the Guru Nanak Dev University Youth Festival, which concluded here today at the Dashmesh auditorium of the university.

The local BBK DAV College for Women won the runners-up trophy while DAV College, Jalandhar, stood third.

Mr Avtar Henry, Minister for Industries, Punjab, presided over the valedictory function and awarded trophies to the winners. He also announced a prize of Rs 31,000 to overall winners of festival out of his discretionary fund. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, welcomed Mr Henry and congratulated the winners.

The trophy in music went to Apeejay College while the local Khalsa College for Women and BBK DAV College were declared second. The trophy in theatre was also won by Apeejay College while BBK DAV College finished runners-up.

The trophy in literature was also annexed by Apeejay College while the RR Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, stood second. The BBK DAV College won the fine arts trophy while Apeejay College was declared runners-up in the competition.


Fraud alleged in midday meal scheme
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 16
Mr Ravinder Kumar Mittal, a teacher at Government Primary School, Varkandi, has alleged that certain teachers in connivance with a contractor had committed fraud in the students’ mid-day meal scheme.

In a complaint to the SDM, Mr Mittal alleged that the Head Teacher, a primary school teacher and a contractor, allegedly supplied food items that were not as per official instructions.

He said he was asked to sign a register keeping the record of food given to students, but he refused to do so as the food items written in the register were different than those actually given to the students.

He said a new register was prepared, while the old one was torn.

Mr Mittal further alleged that the contractor had bribed the teachers.

He said although some officers and employees of the district office of the Education Department were aware about it but they did not take any action.

Mr Mittal said he was asked to sign the record register for being the in charge of a class, but he refused to do so as entries were not correct. He alleged that even some senior officials pressurised him to sign the register.

Mr Upjeet Singh Brar, SDM, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts. However, sources said Mr Brar has visited the school concerned to investigate into the allegations. The sources said the teachers were asked to explain their point of view.


Rajan pins hopes on Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune New Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Meet Professor Yagnaswami Sundra Rajan. His appointment, as Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, a month ago, went almost unnoticed. Punjab is yet to know him. He is not new to Punjab. As founder of the Technology Information Forecasting and Assessment Council (TIFAC), he has closely seen and studied Punjab over a period of time.

He lifted the thick veils to show a new face of Punjab, hidden away by vested political and bureaucratic hands. A face that becons women for greater involvement in intellectual enterprise, proper care of the girl child and youth.

In an interview today, Professor Rajan thus rekindled a new hope, painted a new picture of Punjab to show that soon, ‘’What Punjab does today, India will do tomorrow’’. He is working on a module, which will ensure ‘’net-working of academic institutions and then dove-tail them to government’’.

His aim is good governance for social and economic progress, despite existing government system constraints. The bottom-line of his ‘’vision paper’’ is to make Punjab investment-friendly, while focus remains on uplifting the people. The fatalism that has set in, notwithstanding, his aim is to extrapolate Punjab from the existing growth rates to boost its economy.

Professor Rajan had an informal discussion with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and some of his Cabinet colleagues here last evening.

When reminded about the financial crunch that Punjab faces and how will his concept fit in such a scenario, the scientist, the administrator and the financial manager in Professor Rajan replied, ‘’Concepts have changed. Intensity of knowledge is much more higher than that of capital investment, which, though, is important. Finance, it is said, now plays only 10 per cent to 15 per cent role in economic development/growth. It is market forces, multiplicity of links amongst government, private sector competitors, trade and public accountability, which matter today’’.

Professor Rajan has already covered lot of ground and interacted with a cross-section of people within and outside Punjab and even beyond, as to how to go about doing what is best possible for Punjab. His involvement at Rashtrapati Bhavan with Mr Bill Gates and his close associates in Microsoft on November 11-12, is yielding positive results.

What enables him access to corridors of power, to the advantage of Punjab, is his background and association with men, who matter in seats of power. Professor Rajan has been Adviser, Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, and is an internationally recognised space scientist. He is co-author of Prof A.P.J. Abdul Kalam’s book ‘’India 2020—A vision for the new millennium’’. He writes poetry in Tamil and has published two collections. His latest book is, ‘’Empowering Indians: with economic, business and technology strength for the twenty-first century’’.

Using PTU as the base, sister universities/colleges as a fulcrum, Professor Rajan is keen that more and better attention is paid to higher education, on which Punjab has slipped badly. Professor Rajan says Punjab is a good lab to put into practice ‘’knowledge driven prosperity’’ because people have inbuilt capacity to adopt and adapt. He is working to make Punjab proactive and taking it to high growth business areas, which are value adding for traditional sectors.

His concept also stresses on new ‘’knowledge intensive’’ industries, ranging from biotechnology to nanotech, advance sensors, advance manufacturing and advance material and as service providers to service areas of socio-economic life, namely, health, education, sanitation, sports and, of course, setting up employment opportunities through areas like research and development labs. His other concern is state’s unsustainable economy and ecology and how to make Punjab WTO friendly.

Impressed with available infrastructure he sees a future in attracting investors in computer software, electronic hardware, biotech and medical machinery and equipment, insurance, banking, call centres etc. His concept of infrastructure is not just physical but also one of people, who have resilience, enterprise and skill and of course, law and order.

Village sanitation is his other concern. The village ponds have to be cleaned up. In fact, his vision concept outline and how Punjab’s progress is to be linked to academic institutions is reflected in the agenda papers for the forthcoming ninth meeting of PTU Board of Governors in Chandigarh on November 20. The document is as much a blueprint to revamp PTU and its affiliated colleges as distance education programme.


Women’s harassment: panel, a house divided
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, November 16
Constituted on the guidelines of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Punjabi University’s Violence and Sexual Harassment of Women at Campus Committee, established by the then acting Vice-Chancellor, Dr N.S. Rattan, after the Saru Rana case, has seemed to have yielded nothing.

With a total of seven members, drawn from the faculty, research scholars and students, it seems to exist only on paper as even after three months of its inception, it is yet to decide whether the Saru Rana case should be opened.

According to committee sources, there is no clear framework within which the committee functions and neither are its powers clearly defined. It has had only one formal meeting in August which concluded without any concrete decision.

A senior member of the committee said she had written two letters to the convener of the committee, Ms Ravinder Kaur, to “complete the inconclusive meeting” but was yet to get any reply from her.

At the first meeting itself, the committee members were divided over the Saru Rana case. Some of them wanted it to be opened. The others felt that since Saru Rana was no longer a university student, her case could not be taken up.

Saru Rana, who had made a sexual misconduct charge against former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, said though she had made two representations to the committee, exhorting it to investigate the case, no action had been taken. “What is the point of setting up such a committee which does not even bother to acknowledge the representation put forward by a student. “Although I have been persistently requesting it to look into the matter for three months now, it has not even bothered to inform me whether it would be opening the case or not”.

Questioned about the argument put forward by some members that she was no longer a university student, she said she was pursuing the diploma course in journalism and mass communication of the university.

According to another member, who had been persuading the committee to hold a meeting, no effort had been made by the committee to even acquaint the students with the “existence” of the committee. Most girl students did not even know that such a committee existed, she said. She said the maiden meeting of the committee abruptly ended without any effort to outline its functioning or powers.

On condition of anonymity, some members said they had repeatedly appealed to the convener of the committee to hold a meeting. They were yet to receive any response in this regard, they added.

The convener, Ms Ravinder Kaur, declined to comment, citing the university administration’s circular asking the faculty not to talk to the Press. She said: “All questions regarding the committee should come through the university’s Public Relations Department”.


Dead yet suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 16
Suspension of a dead employee along with 13 other employees by the authorities concerned has caused a flutter in the Punjab Education Department. The suspended employees include 10 senior assistants, three superintendents and one Assistant Director.

The issue has been taken up with the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra. In fact, not only one dead person has been suspended, but one other employee has been suspended twice.

Darshan Kumar, who has been shown suspended, died on September 3 last year.

These employees have been suspended, according to the order, “for willfully disobeying the orders of the government issued vide memo number 1005/97/5edu/2/16520” pertaining to the posting of Mr Chiranji Lal, who was promoted from the master cadre to the lecturer cadre in schools in 1997. Most of the employees concerned, who have been suspended by the authorities say that they have never dealt with the case.


Theatre dedicated to students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 16
Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, dedicated a newly constructed open air theatre at Botanical Garden of Guru Nanak Dev University to student-artistes here yesterday. The theatre has been built at a cost of Rs 70,000.

Artistes enthralled audience with popular couplets of renowned Urdu poets.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, was also present.

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