Sunday, November 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Jatha returns, reports theft cases
Rashmi Talwar

Wagah (Amritsar), November 23
Mr Wasan Singh, an 80-year-old Sikh pilgrim, heaved a sigh of relief when he crossed over from the Pakistan border in a wheelchair today as his passport was stolen in Pakistan and was provided provisional travel documents to reach his country.

He was followed by a 48-member Sikh jatha that returned to India via the Wagah road check-post here today after spending nearly a week in Pakistan on the occasion of the 533rd birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Nanak Dev.

Jatha members, including four women, lamented the poor quality of food and dirty lodging arrangements made for them in Pakistan.

Mr Alvinder Singh Pakhoke, leader of the jatha and senior vice-president of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee, said despite “warm invitations to them”, pilgrims were not provided proper accommodation and arrangements in other respects were also poor.

He said if a jatha of 50 could not be provided proper arrangements, what would have happened if the complete jatha (that normally constitutes about 2,000 pilgrims) had gone to Pakistan.

He criticised the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (PSGPC) for its “failure” to follow Sikh maryada. “There was no parkash of Guru Granth Sahib, no granthi, no ragi and no morning or evening ardas in any of the gurdwaras”, he said.

To a query on their refusal to accept siropas offered by the PSGPC, he said, “We cannot give recognition to the PSGPC as the committee is violative of the Jawaharlal Nehru-Liaquat Ali pact which allowed the SGPC to have complete control over Pakistan gurdwaras and it is for this purpose that Sikh jathas were allowed by the SGPC to visit Pakistan on four occasions. The PSGPC also infringes on the provisions of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

Mr Pakhoke said Mr Sham Singh, co-chairperson of the SGPC, was merely a puppet as he had no say in the decisions which entirely rested in the hands of Lt-Gen Mohammed Niam Akbar Khan, Chairman of the PSGPC, and other Pakistan leaders.

Mr Pakhoke said no Indian Sikh was injured in any firecracker accident as reported in the printmedia. He said Sindhi Sehajdhari Sikhs got hurt while bursting firecrackers.

Jatha members reported several thefts during the course of their stay in Pakistan. While Mr Wassan Singh’s passport was stolen when he was bathing in the sarovar at Nankana Sahib, other members of the jatha were robbed of their belongings such as clothes, documents, money and keys. Interestingly, one of the member’s spectacles were also stolen. Most of the thefts were reported at Nankana Sahib and the Dera Baba gurdwara in Lahore.

Jatha members said provocative banners were not visible this time.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, deputy leader of the jatha, said some foreign-based Sikhs, including Mr Ganga Singh Dhillon (USA), Mr Gurmit Singh Aulakh (UK) and Mr Manmohan Singh (UK) raised the demand for a separate Sikh state, but were greeted with disdain not only by the Pakistan authorities but also by Sikh pilgrims from all over the world.

Mr Joginder Singh, Deputy Secretary, SGPC, said Pakistan gurdwaras were not in a good condition. He said even though the Kartarpur gurdwara on the Indo-Pakistan border had been given a facelift, yet the Indian pilgrims were not allowed to visit it. The Pakistan authorities took the plea of their visas were only for Nankana Sahib, Dera Baba Sahib, Lahore, and Panja Sahib.


No praise for CM in Sonia speech
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Congress President Sonia Gandhi here today emphasised the need to maintain unity, strengthen organisation and create opportunities for “young generation” in the backdrop of the reported differences in the party over the government’s approach to the SGPC elections and an open display of lack of respect among leaders of Chandigarh and Punjab.

The speech of Mrs Gandhi delivered in Hindi followed resentment in party workers of the Union Territory and Punjab over merging the scheduled meetings of the Congress President with workers of the two units separately due to almost an hour and half delay of her flight.

In a virtual musical chair, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was left without a seat on the dais to the chagrin of a section of the Congressmen of Punjab with the Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee President H. S. Hanspal, AICC General Secretary Mohsina Kidwai, Mrs. Gandhi, Chandigarh Territorial Congress Committee President B. B. Bahl and the Chandigarh Mayor Lalit Joshi occupying seats early leaving out the Chief Minister.

A Congress worker from Punjab pointed out that the Chief Minister be given a seat prodding organisers to bring a chair for Capt Amarinder Singh, who had to sit next to the Mayor instead of Mrs Gandhi.

Clad in salwar kurta, Mrs Gandhi asked workers to strengthen the party saying “it has been seen wherever the organisation was ignored governments were weakened.”

Congress observers who attended the meeting saw a warning for the chief minister with Mrs Gandhi not intervening to get the chief minister a seat on the dais, not mentioning him in the address, not appreciating the government on its functioning apart from asking to concentrate on organisation, a position which detractors of Amarinder Singh had reportedly been taking before the the high command against the Chief Minister.

Amidst interruptions of slogans of “Sonia Gandhi zindabad and Captain Amarinder Singh zindabad,” Mrs Gandhi reminded the Chief Minister to fulfil promises made in the elections and also avoid making those that could not be fulfilled to show that Congress governments were different from others. Mrs Gandhi said that all sections of society, especially backwards, deprived and women, had to be carried along.

The Congress President was apparently referring to reported bickerings in the party in Punjab stressing the party was like a family where every body had to be accommodating.

Welcoming Mrs Gandhi, Mr Hanspal defended the Amarinder Government on the issue of police deployment during the SGPC elections in Amritsar, in which Mrs Gandhi intervened, saying that the police had to be deployed to pre-empt the alleged conspiracy of Akalis to spark off violence to bring back militancy in the state. Mr Hanspal also wanted Mrs Gandhi to hand over the responsibility of elections in Himachal to the Punjab unit like it did earlier when the late Beant Singh team did the same.

The Chief Minister said the state government would not allow Akalis to create violence in the state and it would work for implementation of 73rd and 74th Amendments, alleviate poverty, maintain cleanliness, provide drinking water, push forward power and fiscal reforms, saying that multi-lateral funding had been arranged for the purpose and a new industrial policy would be announced in 10 days.

The Chief Minister said he had received a letter from Mrs Gandhi yesterday asking his government to follow a direction on priorities of the government, which his government would follow.

Certain Congress workers who watched reactions of all groups said the chief minister’s camp followers were not very elated after the speech of Mrs Gandhi while dissidents seemed to see hope in Sonia Gandhi’s address to workers.

A senior Congress person from the Union Territory Shreshtha Mehta, as soon as Mrs Gandhi reached the dais in the CII conference hall, asked her to give a separate time to the unit but Mrs Gandhi said it could not be done now due to a lack of time. Mr Hanspal also sought separate meetings and a separate rally later on. Ms Mehta’s appeal for separate time is also being interpreted as seeking to grab an opportunity for briefing Mrs Gandhi on views of all groups of the party in the UT. Recent meetings of councillors at a senior UT leader’s tea party and another one yesterday had preceded Mrs Mehta’s call.

The call had also come after former Indian Youth Congress President Manish Tiwari could not be accommodated in the list of those who had to welcome Mrs Gandhi on the airport unlike in the past.

Mrs Gandhi was also accompanied by her Political Secretary and an AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni.


Snubbing Sonia style
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
The visit of the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, to the city today perhaps did not go the way the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, or the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief , Mr Bhajan Lal, expected it. They have been left wondering about the message the party chief gave them through her actions and utterances, both at the Sector 31 CII convention hall and the Sector 46 stadium.

Though the ex-servicemen rally at the stadium was for ex-servicemen from all northern states, those who came from Punjab outnumbered participants from other States. The party workers expected that Mrs Sonia Gandhi would pat the Punjab Chief Minister on his back for the “good work” he is doing in Punjab in “containing Akalis”. They also expected her to talk about the police action during the recently concluded annual elections of the executive committee of the SGPC, more so after the Chief Minister in his address focussed more on his way of “tackling Akalis”.

But Mrs Sonia Gandhi did not say a word either about the ensuing “jail bharo andolan by Akalis” or the action the state government had taken on the “pretext of maintenance of law and order for the November 12 general house meeting of the SGPC.” This development is being viewed with significant interest as delegations of the Punjab unit of the party were “frequenting the union capital” since November 12 to speak both “in favour” and “against the police action in Punjab in general and Amritsar in particular”. Senior party functionaries as well as workers expected “Madam Sonia Gandhi” to open her mind on the subject before the people of Punjab.

Instead her visit to the city, second in the current year, was gone through with business like precision. Though after the ex-servicemen rally, she had some time, she preferred to visit her aunt in Sector 4 than give the Haryana Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr Bhajan Lal, or its delegation any personal or individual attention.

Before flying back, she preferred not to respond when Bhajan Lal offered to volunteer party workers from the state for election duty in Gujarat. Those following Congress politics in Haryana view it as a “snub”.

Whatever be the case , the message is “loud and clear” for partymen, feels a section of the Haryana unit.


Apply same yardstick as Akalis to judge me: Capt
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that he hoped that same yardstick would be applied for judging his role during the recently held SGPC elections. Talking to reporters after inaugurating the 44th National Bridge Championship, he refused to comment on the demand of some Akalis to summon him to Akal Takht. However, he hoped that same yardstick would be applied on the issue since the police had also entered into the Golden Temple during the tenure of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Elaborating further he pointed out, “We only tried to maintain the law and order and it is being appreciated everywhere, including the media”. He argued that even the TV channels were showing the pictures of the policemen inside the Golden Temple during Mr Badal’s rule. “The issue has already died”, he remarked.

He observed that the issue which Mr Badal raised got some hype for some time but had now fallen flat. “Like the Agra summit when General Musharraf came to India for negotiations so much hype was created and nothing came out in the end. Like that all media hype over the SGPC has already fallen flat as Mr Badal and his people are now totally on defensive”, the Chief Minister claimed.

Replying to a question over Ms Sonia Gandhi skipping any reference to the SGPC elections, a visibly relaxed Chief Minister, maintained that she was appreciative of the situation in the state. She is in constant touch with the state leadership and is aware of the functioning of the government.

Commenting on the plans of the Akalis to court arrest, the Chief Minister said, there was nothing wrong in the peaceful and democratic protests. But he doubted whether the Akalis would be able to moblise the masses. He said everybody was welcome to lodge his protest in a democratic manner. But nobody would be allowed to disturb the peace in the state, he warned. He did not specify whether the Akalis would be arrested and put in jails. “Let them try we will see then and there only”, the Chief Minister remarked.


SAD men to be lodged in poultry farm
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 23
The district administration proposes to lodge SAD workers who will court arrest on November 27 in sheds of a government-owned poultry farm and an empty piggery.

The poultry farm and the piggery located on the periphery of the city were closed down a decade ago after the Punjab Poultry Development Corporation suffered heavy losses. A portion of the poultry farm was leased out to be Doordarshan authorities who erected a transmission tower while one shed was occupied by a company of the CRPF.

District Magistrate K.A.P. Sinha along with other senior civil and police officials visited the two farms lying adjacent to each other yesterday and got the shed occupied by the CRPF vacated. Orders were given by Mr Sinha to vacate the shed.

SSP Varinder Kumar said if the SAD workers were arrested on November 27 during the “Jail bharo andolan”, they would be lodged here and not in jail which was overflowing. CRPF Deputy Commandant Sidhu too confirmed that his company had been ordered to vacate the poultry farm shed last night which it had occupied.

Meanwhile, the administration has already commenced work of converting the poultry farm and the piggery into a “jail” for lodging the arrested SAD workers. Barbed wire fences would be erected and one shed would be converted into a kitchen and other facilities being provided in the Central Jail would also be given to the arrested SAD workers, officials said.

The district administration is taking the precautions as on the same day (November 27), the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would be in the town to inaugurate the All-India Junior Gymnastic Championships. The authorities fear that the SAD protesters might try to “gherao” the Chief Minister.


A lakh SAD men to court arrest
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 23
One lakh workers and senior leaders of the SAD will court arrest on November 27 under its “jail bharo andolan” in protest against the atrocities allegedly being committed against the party leaders and other sections by the Punjab Government.

Stating this on the telephone today, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal MLA, Gidderbaha, and spokesman of the party who was on a tour of various assembly constituencies like Malout, Lambi and Gidderbaha in Muktsar district to mobilise the workers said party chief Parkash Singh Badal along with Rajya Sabha MP and SAD general secretary, Sukhbir Singh Badal and he himself (Manpreet Badal) would lead a jatha of over 15,000 workers, sarpanches and panches and other leaders of the area to offer themselves for arrest before the office of the Deputy Commissioner at Muktsar.

Other former ministers and MLAs of the party would reach their respective district headquarters for the same.

Reiterating the determination of the party to court arrest by all means, Mr Manpreet made it clear that if the government failed to arrest the leaders and the workers on the stipulated day the party would step up its action by launching demonstrations, dharnas, rallies and picketing at each assembly constituency to express its resentment against the state government’s behaviour.

While lashing out at state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for his “misdeeds”, the party spokesman said the SAD would continue its agitation for the ouster of the government. He alleged that the rule of jungle was prevailing in the state and the police had crossed all limits. Mr Manpreet Badal also accused the state government of failing to improve the economic conditions. He reminded that the ruling party had also failed to fulfil its commitments made to the people before coming to power in the state. He appealed to people to cooperate with his party as this critical juncture.


Transfer orders in abeyance
Chitleen K. Sethi
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, November 23
At least four departments of the Punjab Government are in a state of virtual limbo following the partial non-implementation of the last set of transfer orders issued by the government more than a fortnight ago.

A set of four Secretary-level officers who have been transferred within the capital city from one post to another have not joined in their new positions and are continuing to hold their original posts. Interestingly, these shifts form a chain as a result one person due to replace another cannot do so till the one who comes first in the chain moves.

This obvious non-compliance of the written transfer orders passed almost 20 days ago is however being explained away by well placed sources stating that in a rather unique move, a ‘verbal and temporary stay’ to these set of shifts has been given.

While the grapevine in these departments is abuzz with wonderment on whether the headship will change or not, almost everyone agrees, including some of these officers themselves, that this state of uncertainty is now beginning to effect the working of these departments. Sources state that future schemes are being kept at abeyance and major decisions are being put on hold.

The chain starts with Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, the former Director, Public Relations, Punjab, who was transferred and posted as Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, who joined almost immediately leaving the post vacant. Mr Ahluwalia was to be replaced by Dr G. Vajrilingam, Secretary, Food and Civil Supplies, Punjab, who is yet to join as Director, Public Relations, and vacate his position which is to be filled by Mr D.P. Reddy, Chief Administrator, PUDA, a post, which will be taken up by Mr Sanjay Kumar, current Director, Employment, and Labour Commissioner, Punjab who will then be replaced by Mrs Surjit Kaur Sandhu, currently Secretary, Revenue.

Since the chain is now stuck at Dr Vajrilingam the important question becomes why is he not joining as Director, Public Relations. The answer to this, no one really knows for sure but according to unconfirmed information from sources, two of the transferred officers want to retain their current posts and have requested their Principal Secretaries for cancellation of their orders.

Towing the official line, the officers concerned stated that they will join their new posts the day they are asked to and their transfer is the prerogative of the government. On why the delay in following these orders, neither the Chief Secretary Mr Y.S. Ratra, nor the Secretary personnel, Mr C. Roul, had any comments to offer.


Arms supply to ultras: 2 dealers held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
The Patiala police today made more recoveries of arms and ammunition in the case involving the supply of guns on fake licences to militant organisations, including the People’s War Group (PWG), by seizing 21 firearms and 350 cartridges from a Maruti car today. Both occupants of the car, identified as owners of gun houses in Nabha and Kurukshetra, have been arrested.

Addressing a press conference here, district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal identified the gun house owners as Kulwant Singh of Nabha and Chiranji Lal of Kurukshetra. He said four revolvers, three double-barrelled guns, 11 single-barrelled guns, three MLG guns, 150 cartridges of .12 bore and 200 cartridges of .32 bore had been seized from them. He said the Maruti car in which they were travelling had been impounded and a case registered at the Sadar police station at Rajpura by a task force headed by Inspector Didar Singh and supervised by the SP (Detective), Mr B.S. Virk.

Mr Umranangal said investigations had revealed that 37 guns of .12 bore had been sold on fake arm licences issued from Ferozepore district to militant groups in Bihar and Jharkhand. He said these included a .30 bore carbine of former SSP Ajaypal Singh Mann which had reached Bihar. He said the two arms dealers had supplied 19 carbines, 13 revolvers and 26,000 cartridges of .38 bore to militant groups in Bihar.

The police had earlier uncovered the nexus between militant groups operating in Bihar, Jharkhand and Assam and gun dealers of Punjab and Haryana by arresting three PWG (Naxalite Federation) members and a local gun house owner with a huge cache of arms hidden in a Bolero on November 3.

Giving details of the police investigation, the police officer said the main suspects in the case, Anandji, who was still at large, and R.K. Sharma, had been supplying arms and ammunition to Ranvir Sena and the PWG. He said Sharma was a former ASI in the Bihar police who had absconded after being dismissed from service for his involvement in the Paras Biga carnage during the 1980s.

He said the modus operandi of the two was to arrange firearms, especially prohibited bores, from gun dealers in Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by making corresponding fake licences from Bihar. He said the racket had been going on since 1994. He said the gun dealers used to also issue fake receipts for firearms handed over to the gang. The Bihar Intelligence Bureau had been given details of the case for further action, he said.


Police in bind over a case of rape
Tribune News Service

Balachaur (Nawanshahr), November 23
A rape case has been baffling the Nawanshahr police, which booked three residents of Kangna Bet village two weeks ago. Now it has decided to go in for DNA profile of all three booked and to send the cervical smear to Hyderabad for tests, after the accused wished to undergo the DNA test or any other test to prove innocence.

The police booked Dilbagh Singh, his brother Kehar Singh and their cousin Harbans Singh, all farmers of Kangna Bet village in Balachaur sub-division for rape. The accused requested to undergo the DNA test and even offered to pay for hiring a taxi to Hyderabad to avoid a delay.

After the alleged rape and medical examination of the victim, the Nawanshahr Civil Hospital authorities ruled out the commission of rape and cancelled the entry in the register but later in the day, when the victim returned to the hospital, the doctor on duty confirmed rape.

According to the FIR registered by the Balachaur police, the alleged victim and the wife of a PCO owner of the village alleged that Dilbagh Singh, came to the PCO at 8 p.m. on November 13 and started abusing the PC owner’s wife and alleged that she ran a flesh trade. On this, both women sitting at the PCO caught hold of him and thrashed him. Later, injured Dilbagh Singh returned to the PCO with his brother and cousin, slapped the women and allegedly raped one of them.

Dilbagh Singh and one woman were admitted to the Primary Health Centre at Balachaur, and the other woman alleged raped by his brother and his cousin, was referred to the Nawanshar Civil Hospital where she reached with her husband and Kindi of Thatiala Bet at 1 a.m. on November 14.

Investigations revealed that after examining her Dr Sonia Kataria alleged rape victim reported that rape was not committed and cancelled the entry. The alleged victim the woman (rape victim) left the hospital her with husband and Kindi. Later in the day, the alleged victim returned to the hospital and doctors reported that she had been raped and the police registered a case against the accused.

Investigations revealed that the accused denied rape and pleaded with SSP Ms Neeraj Voruvuru, who visited the police station here to investigate the case on November 20, that they were framed due to “old enmity” and wanted to undergo the DNA test. As the SSP said that she would depute an ASI, and a constable to accompany the accused to Hyderabad by train, the accused offered to take the cops in their car to reduce delay to which the SSP agreed. The SSP said she had directed a DNA test of the accused and smear test of the alleged victim.


SAD takes a U-turn
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 23
Virtually taking a U-turn, the Shiromani Akali Dal today disassociated itself from the SGPC demand for summoning the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, before Akal Takht for alleged violation of Sikh maryada by allegedly sending the police into the Golden Temple complex during the recent SGPC elections.

Talking to reporters here today, the secretary-general of the SAD and Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, said since the issue of summoning the Chief Minister was a religious affair, it was for the Sikh high priests to consider the demand. His party had no role to play in it, he added.

Mr Dhindsa was in the city to attend the annual convocation of the local Lyallpur Khalsa College. On being pointed out that the SAD had backtracked on its earlier stand of summoning the Chief Minister before Akal Takht, the minister said though his party fully endorsed the resolution adopted by the SGPC over the issue, yet it would not interfere in the Sikh religious affairs.


Mittal flays govt for ‘failure on all fronts’
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 23
Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, former Punjab Food and Supplies Minister, said today that the Amarinder Singh government had failed on all fronts. It had not only stalled development works in the state but also failed to provide good governance.

Mr Mittal was talking to mediapersons in the district judicial complex where he had come to cast his vote in the elections of the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana.

Mr Mittal also criticised the government for its alleged anti-people policies. He said the government’s proposal to downgrade about 300 schools was wrong.

The SAD-BJP government had upgraded hundreds of schools, especially in the rural areas. The step of the Congress government would prove harmful to rural students as a majority of the schools upgraded were in villages.


EPF scam: PSEB fails to punish contractor
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 23
Continuing to promote labour contractors allegedly involved in the EPF scam in the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), the PSEB authorities have once again decided against blacklisting M/s Sodhi Erectors for future contracts.

Highly placed sources told The Tribune that in reply to a query from the General Manager of the GGSSTP, regarding action against the contractor in view of the FIR registered against him, the Secretary, PSEB, had written against blacklisting the contractor till the outcome of the FIR was clear.

Even though the court has denied anticipatory bail to the proprietor of M/s Sodhi Erectors, who is at large, the PSEB authorities have again failed to blacklist him. The sources said the contractor had been getting undue favours from the PSEB authorities even after his involvement in the EPF scam became obvious in 1999.

M/s Sodhi Erectors and M/s Calcutta Construction Company allegedly swindled about Rs 1 crore from the EPF accounts of contract labourers working under them. After the detection of the scam, while Calcutta Construction Company declined to deposit the swindled money, Sodhi Erectors deposited about Rs 50 lakh.

While Calcutta Construction Company was blacklisted after the detection of the scam, Sodhi Erectors was awarded transfer of the labour of the company. Sodhi Erectors was awarded with additional labour even though there were many other contractors working in the GGSSTP who had a clean record.

Earlier, M/s Sodhi Erectors, used to work just in the coal handing plant of the GGSSTP. However, after the scam, it was awarded other contracts also, like the maintenance of the power colony. At present, despite its involvement in the EPF scam, it is the biggest contractor in the GGSSTP, having about 1,200 labourers working fot it.

The GGSSTP authorities had earlier also shown reluctance in getting an FIR registered against Sodhi Erectors in the scam. The ADGP, Vigilance (PSEB) wrote to the General Manager of the GGSSTP to get an FIR registered against Sodhi Erectors in August this year. Instead of acting on the advice of the ADGP, the GGSSTP authorities sought the advice of the Advocate-General, Punjab. It was only after the latter endorsed the recommendation of the ADGP that an FIR was registered against the contractor.

Presently, the contractor is at large. His superviser, with the help of power of attorney, is carrying out his work in the GGSSTP.

Meanwhile, the sources said the ADGP, Vigilance, had written to the board authorities for the transfer of certain officers from the GGSSTP for an impartial inquiry into the EPF scam.


Trains to have anti-collision device soon
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
Railway Board Member, (Mechanical) S. Dhasarathi today asserted that the anti-collision device developed by the board to prevent accidents would be inducted into service after the completion of trials which were currently on the Ludhiana-Amritsar section.

Speaking at a press conference here after inaugurating the first rail-cum-road vehicle developed by the local Diesel Component Works (DCW) here, Mr Dhasarathi said though the induction of the anti-collision device would reduce accidents, they would not be able to prevent them completely.

He said the devices would, however, be very helpful in warning train drivers in case of any fracture in the rail track as well as give a very powerful beam of light in case the train derails to warn incoming traffic of the accident and avoid a collision with another train coming on the same track.

Mr Dhasarathi said additional safety measures were being inducted in locomatives. He said one additional brake and hand brake was being installed in locomotives so that the train did not start rolling on its own as had happened on few occasions without any driver at its helm. He said besides this additional facilities were being added in the cabins of drivers in locomotives which would include air conditioning of the cabin as well as provision of hot and cold water and facility to make tea.

He disclosed that 70 locomotives would be upgraded in the near future adding that the capacity of the locomotives were being upgraded to as much as 3100 to 3300 horse power which would increase their haulage capacity tremendously and reduce traffic congestion on the rail network. The member also disclosed that the rail-cum-road vehicle developed by the DCW would become operational in a month after it was cleared by the Research and Design Standard Organisation (RDSO), Lucknow.


DCW vehicle for faster rescue work
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
The Diesel Component Work (DCW) here has developed the country’s first prototype rail cum road vehicle for reaching sites of rail accident faster. It will also be used for rail maintenance.

The Mechanical Engineering and Civil Engineering branches of the DCW have already received an order of 10 such vehicles and all Railway Zones may be supplied the vehicles after oscillation trials of the vehicles by the RDSO, Lucknow, the quality check wing of the Railways.

The vehicle, which is to be launched by Railway Board Member, (Mechanical) S. Dhasarathi at a function today, was being given finishing touches of paint when The Tribune team visited the Loco Rebuilding wing in the DCW complex yesterday.

Assistant Works Manager D.S. Tanwar said the vehicle had been built on the chassis of a Swaraj Mazda truck. He said the 4x4 drive vehicle had been fitted with special heavy duty tyres and rail wheels. He said a central lifting and turning system allowed the use of the rail wheels fitted on vehicle. Once the central column was lifted the vehicle could be turned by one person as and when required, he added. Besides this, the front and rear guiding systems controlled the use of tyres or rail wheels as needed.

The vehicle could be put to several uses and was equipped to reach sites of rail accidents faster for rescue operations. Gas welding equipment, most essential during rail accidents to rescue persons trapped in coaches, had been fitted. He said the vehicle had room for six workmen in the cabin.

The vehicle is also fitted with a pair of 6 to 7 metres of rail tracks, nuts and bolts for use in case the fish-plates are tampered with or part of rail track removed. The vehicle can also be used as medical van or an ambulance with slight modifications according to the need. It can also be used as mini-crane to lift sleepers and other objects at the site of accident for rescue operations.

Sources said the vehicle had been tested by the DCW authorities on track and was likely to undergo further testing on the Rajpura-Bathinda, Ambala-Ludhiana and Bathinda-Sri Ganganagar railway sections. The officials said the last section had curves in the region and it would be tested there to see whether the vehicle could navigate the curves with ease. The vehicle had easy run on similar curves in simulated conditions in the workshop, they added.

Meanwhile, the sources said along with the Rail cum-RoadVehicle the new locomotives developed by the DCW, including the third ever microprocessor controlled 3100 horse power locomotives and the super heavy 3300 horse power locomotive would also be inaugurated. Both were new generation locomotives with the microprocessor controlled locomotive introducing international safety standards in Indian locomotives. The 3300 horse power locomotive had more hauling capacity and helped reduce congestion on the Indian rail network, the sources said.


Living with a stigma
Kulwinder Sandhu
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, November 23
This is an unfortunate tale of social disgrace of a woman by the district administration of Ferozepore in which a middle-aged woman was forced to leave her home after an externment notice was served on her under the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956.

But later on when the Human Rights Commission and a local court pulled up the administration, the orders were withdrawn. But this entire exercise has left a social stigma on her.

Kulwant Kaur, a resident of Zira, was served the externment notice in July, 2001, on charges of running an illegal brothel in her house. Subsequently, she was arrested, and after getting bail, she was forced to leave the town by the local police. No one ever tried to find out the truth whether she was really involved in such kind of illegal trade or not. Everyone had turned against her.

The exact reasons for the frame-up were not yet known, but in the words of Kulwant Kaur: “We did not enjoy good relations with a local police personnel and a neighbour who played a role in disgracing my family by concocting the tale of me running a brothel”.

The then SDM of Zira, Mr Bakhtawar Singh, blindly believed the police report and did not try to find out the truth although he was asked to hold an independent inquiry by the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.R. Ladhar. As a result, the case file as framed by the police went to the office of the Deputy Commissioner from where the orders of externment were issued.

Kulwant Kaur had no alternative but to leave her house along with her family which she had built with her husband’s earnings who works as a Junior Engineer in the Public Health Department. Since then, her house has been lying vacant. However, she has now settled down in Amritsar to get out of the social stigma that changed her life.

When the Punjab Human Rights Commission and the local court pulled up the district administration of Ferozepore, the orders of externment were withdrawn after a few months. She was finally acquitted of all charges by the court after more than a year. But, will the clock ever turn back and return her those happy moments with her husband and children? Who is responsible for uprooting her life from a town where she once lived in her home happily?


USA blamed for conflicts in world
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 23
The philosophy of Karl Marx and V I Lenin is still relevant and despite the temporary setback to the Communist order, things will change in the near future, claims Leonid Ivachenco, vice-president of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. He was in the city to address CPI activists this evening. Accompanying him were Russian Parliament (Duma) member Sergei Afanasiyev and CPI secretary, Punjab unit, Dr Joginder Dayal.

Talking to mediapersons, the Russian leaders said they were visiting many countries for bringing all like-minded parties on one platform. “We are visiting India after 10 years to strengthen the left parties here and have held talks with senior members of the CPI and the CPM. Both parties agree on more than 85 per cent of the issues and we have asked them to sink differences on the rest”, they said. On the rise of China in the past decade, they said they had stuck to the basics but changed the policies in view of the changed world order. It is not that there in an inherent flaw in the philosophy but they have changed with the times.

On the disintegration & the USSR, they said Communism was a first experience and that it was sound philosophy was borne out by the fact that it ensured for more than 70 years. There were some lapses in the implementation of various schemes but it was expected. The downfall was due to the policies pursued by Mikhail Gorbachev and Boris Yeltsin, they alleged.

Mr Ivachenco blamed Boris Yeltsin for the sad state of affairs in Russia. He alleged that many wrong decisions were implemented by him under the influence of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. He revealed that there were more than 5.85 lakh active members of the party in more than 85 states of the federation and they were being supported by an increasing number of “disillusioned” Russians. Refusing to comment on the future of Communism in India he said that its critics would be proved wrong in the years to come.

The Russians leaders said America was behind various conflict in the world and it was due to the vested interests of the superpower that the Israel-Palestine and Indo-Pak disputes, among others, could not be resolved till date.

The leaders said they had interacted with students of JNU, Delhi, and Panjab University. They would be meeting the party units in Rajasthan and Delhi in the coming days.


Recruitment rally from December 2
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 23
The Sikh Regimental Centre will organise a rally for recruiting soldier (general duty), tradesmen and soldier (clerks) at the Dogra Playgrounds in the cantonment area, near here, from December 2 to 11.

In a statement issued here yesterday, an Army spokesman said for recruitment as soldier general duty) candidates belonging to Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Ropar and Nawanshahr would be screened on December 2 while those belonging to Amritsar, Patiala, Sangrur, Bathinda and Moga should report between December 3 and 4.

Similarly, candidates belonging to Ludhiana, Gurdaspur and Kapurthala would be screened from December 7 to 8 and those from Ferozepore, Mansa, Muktsar, Faridkot and states of Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and other states shall appear for screening on December 9.

The candidates belonging to Jammu and Kashmir, the Kandi area and wards of ex-servicemen should appear on December 10.

The statement further said that for recruitment as soldier (clerks), the candidates should appear for initial screening on December 5 while for appointment as tradesmen, the candidates belonging to the states of Karnataka, Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Bihar, Jharkhand, Delhi. Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Orissa, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Assam should come on December 6.


PSEB told to release tubewell connections in 4 months
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 23
Allowing a petition by the Bharatiya Kisan Union, Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab State Electricity Board to give electricity connections for running tubewells within four months to applicants who had submitted their requests in 1987 and had deposited the money, besides submitting the test reports.

Mr Justice Gill ruled: “The writ petition is allowed to the extent that the applicants who had submitted their applications in 1987 and deposited Rs 500 the same year, followed by Rs 1000 in 1992 and Rs 15,200 in 1999, and to whom the demand notices were issued and in furtherance of these, had submitted their test reports, or were willing to do so, shall be given electricity connections as per their seniority”.

The judgement is significant as, according to the figures released by the electricity board, 2537 applications were submitted in 1987 alone for the release of connections.

In his order, Mr Justice Gill said: “It is abundantly clear from the instructions and the sales regulations for the supply of electric energy to the consumers that once a demand notice is issued and the consumer fulfills all conditions and had submitted his test report and it is approved by the authority concerned, the respondents cannot refuse to give electricity connection for running his tube well”.

Notice issued on Sidhu’s plea

Taking up a petition filed by the Punjab Public Service Commission’s former Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu seeking the grant of bail in a cheating and forgery case registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for November 25.

Seeking the grant of bail in the case registered under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471-A and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, Mr Sidhu had contended that he was a victim of Punjab Chief Minister’s animus.

His counsel had added that nothing incriminating had been found in Sidhu’s possession, besides there was no evidence to show his involvement in the matter except the alleged disclosure statement of co-accused.

FIR quashed

Quashing a first information report registered against two employees of Jind-based District Rural Development Authority, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that it was lodged to humiliate and harass the petitioners for “reasons best known to Additional Deputy Commissioner R.P. Bhardwaj”.

The employees — Mr Khushi Ram and Mr Jai Parkash — had earlier alleged that they had been implicated in a cheating and forgery case at the behest of ADC R.P. Bhardwaj. Seeking the quashing of the FIR registered on September 5 last year under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code, they had further alleged that the case was a result of “bias, revengeful and malafide attitude of the complainant against them”.

Going into the background of the case, the counsel had contended on behalf of the petitioners that the complainant, being a “casteist”, hated Mr Khusi Ram as he belonged to the Schedule Caste category. He had added that the complainant, by misusing his powers, got the FIR registered without going through the record.

Mr Justice Nirmal Singh held: “The respondent not only got the case registered against the petitioner but also suspended the witnesses of the petitioners. So this shows that the present FIR is nothing but to counter the FIR lodged by the petitioners for wrecking vengeance. The petition is accepted and the FIR registered at Jind’s city police station is quashed”.


Judge: give legible copies to Tota Singh
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 23
Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, Ropar, today directed the prosecution to supply the remaining and legible copies of challan papers to former Punjab Education Minister, Jathedar Tota Singh.

This direction was given by Mr Kathuria on an application moved by the counsel of the former minister who had said the copies of the challan papers, recently supplied to Jathedar Tota Singh, were incomplete and some of them were also illegible.

Mr Kathuria fixed December 4 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The challan against Jathedar Tota Singh was presented by the Punjab Vigilance on October 26 in the local court in a criminal and corruption case registered against him on June 14 at SAS Nagar under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Meanwhile, Mr Kathuria also fixed November 28 as the next date of hearing in the Sucha Singh Langah case. The challan against Langah and others was presented in the court on September 17 by the Punjab Vigilance.


Scam detected in pension for disabled
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
A scam pertaining to the pension, for the handicapped running into lakhs, has come to light in this district after officials of the District Social Security Office conducted a verification of the beneficiaries on the direction of the minister concerned, Mr Santokh Singh.

Official sources said the Punjab Government was contemplating action against those doctors posted in various government hospitals and dispensaries who had allegedly issued fake certificates to normal people so that they could avail of the handicap pension.

The sources said the Punjab Government was also contemplating launching recovery proceedings against those who had been enjoying the benefit of the pension on the basis of fake handicap certificates.

Mr Harpal Singh, District Social Security Officer, talking to TNS, said during the verification in the district, which was completed yesterday, 97 beneficiaries were found taking handicap pension on the basis of fake certificates. He said the maximum number of such cases were detected in Sangat block.

He said he had informed the Director, Social Security, Punjab, and the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, about the fraud, running into about Rs 10 lakh. He said all doctors who had issued fake certificates would be taken to task. Legal action would be taken against beneficiaries, apart from launching recovery proceedings against them, he added.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the fraud had started soon after pension scheme for the handicapped was launched in Punjab about four years ago. The verification also revealed that some officials of the department and elected representatives of panchayats of various villages were also allegedly involved in the fraud.


Hippo, chimp to be moved to Chhat Bir
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
The issue of animals being kept in small cages and the custody of a near-blind hippopotamus with the Jumbo Circus, currently camping in the city, has taken a new turn. The district administration has written to the District Forest Officer (DFO) and the Director, Chhatbir Zoological Park, to immediately transfer the hippopotamus and the sole chimpanzee with the circus to the zoological park.

Sources said the Deputy Commissioner had written to both officials yesterday, but no action was taken by them to transfer the animals to the zoological park till this evening. The DFO, when contacted, said he had not received the directions, but would make arrangements to transfer the animals to the park.

District Commissioner Tejvir Singh said he had passed the orders following reports submitted to him by local SPCA representative Mahavir Sharma and Animal Welfare Board of India executive member Sandeep Jain.

He said he had also received reports that animals, specially lions, tigers and panthers, were being kept in very small enclosures in which they were also transported from one place to another.

Mr Tejvir Singh said the question was where could the animals, including five lions, three tigers and two panthers, be kept. He said he had asked the management of the circus to arrange larger cages for the animals and also sought the help of the Animal Welfare Board in this regard.

He said he had also received reports that the hippopotamus was virtually blind and needed urgent medical attention and the chimpanzee was being kept in a small cage with an iron ring around his neck. Due to this the administration had decided to take immediate action regarding the two animals, he added.

Meanwhile, Divisional Forest Officer Karamjit Singh said though he was still to receive the directions of the Deputy Commissioner, he had written a similar letter recommending the shifting of the hippopotamus and the chimpanzee to his senior officers.

Mr Karamjit Singh said a team had also measured the cages in which tigers, lions and panthers were being kept. He said these cages were supposed to be used only during the transportation of animals and they needed to be kept in larger enclosures. He said a report regarding this would also be submitted to the government.

Meanwhile, Dr Sandeep Jain said the Jumbo Circus, currently conducting shows in the city, was still to get an approval for the same from the board.

He said though the circus had submitted an application in this regard, it was still to be cleared. He said it was against the law to keep the hippopotamus and the chimpanzee in solitary confinement and the Central Zoos Authority of India had already started the process of confiscating the animals. He demanded that a criminal case be registered against the circus.

Circus in charge Bhaskaran Nambiar, however, said the circus had submitted at least 30 applications to the Animal Welfare Board to get its approval over the past year, but the case had not been cleared till date.

He said other circuses were facing a similar problem with the board and the treatment being meted out to the circuses would lead to unemployment of thousands of employees.

He also claimed the hippopotamus was not blind, but suffering from an eye disease which could be cured. He said regular treatment was being given to the animal.

Regarding the chimpanzee, he said the circus had acquired it after a five- year- battle in the Supreme Court after it was gifted to it by a party from Kuwait.


Civic body grapples with stray-cow menace
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 23
Gaushala managements in Patiala have been accused of running their establishments as business concerns following the failure of a recent drive against stray cows carried out by the Municipal Corporation. The corporation had rounded up around 250 stray cows under the drive and handed them over to various ‘gaushalas’ in the city. But within a few days the animals were back on the streets.

The corporation is now in a bind as to how to tackle the stray cow menace and is likely to initiate another drive against stray cows only after tackling the problem of keeping the animals in the “gaushalas” as well as thinking of creating a separate resting place for them outside the city.

The corporation is likely to adopt a two- pronged strategy. Mayor Vishnu Sharma said the corporation would request the Deputy Commissioner to probe the manner in which the various ‘gaushala’ trusts had been formed with allegations that some of the trusts comprised entirely of relatives. The Mayor said the aim behind the action was to put pressure on the ‘gaushalas’ to take in and look after barren cows also instead of only keeping milk giving animals.

The Mayor said once this was done there was a suggestion to do numbering of all stray cows handed over to the ‘gaushalas’ during the next drive against them.

He said once a cow with proper numbering, which could not be tampered with, was handed over to an institution, the organisation would be held responsible in case it was found on the streets again.

He said besides this the corporation was also taking up the matter of placing all stray cows in the city at a special facility created earlier for them on government land on the Bhadson road which was not being used at present. He said as much as 60 to 70 acres of land was available at the site which was enough to cater to the stray animals and added the Deputy Commissioner and the Animal Husbandry Department would be approached in this matter.

Meanwhile, the corporation Health Officer, Dr H.S. Mann, disclosed that there were as many as 1200 to 1500 stray cows in the city. He said many of these cows were owned by residents but they let them move on street so that they would not have to give them fodder themselves. He said during the recent drive people who had come forward to claim some of the cows were asked to pay a fine of Rs 1,000 as well as give an undertaking that they would not be let loose again.

Gaushala managements, however, deny the allegations levelled against them. Kapda Market Gaushala in charge Sadhu Ram said the corporation had handed over 165 stray cows to them and all the animal were still in the gaushala. He said in fact the management was forced to despatch some of its own cows to another gaushala run by it near Moran village to accommodate the animals given by the corporation. He also denied claims that the gaushala was being run as a business establishment and said the management was able to get only 30 to 35 kilograms of milk from around 450 cows being kept by it.

Kalyani Mata Gaushala vice-president Ramesh Sharma also painted a similar picture saying that out of the 145 cows with the organisations, only 10 to 12 cows were giving milk. He said instead of making allegations, the corporation should check these facts by sending its own doctors. He also claimed that he had not received any cows during the present drive and added that in an earlier drive he had received 15 cows, and half of these were still in the gaushala.

He said the other cows had been withdrawn from the gaushala on the initiative of the corporation when some persons claimed them. Mr Sharma demanded that some help should be extended to gaushalas by the administration which could give medicines for the cows.


Bazigars block traffic
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 23
A mob of Bazigar tribe today blocked the vehicular traffic for over three hours on the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road, set tyres ablaze and raised slogans against Mr Jagjit Singh, Punjab Local Bodies Minister and chairman of the local Guru Ravi Das Educational Trust, when the Trust authorities started constructing a boundary wall dividing the Trust’s land from the Bazigar’s basti of Dharamkot Mohalla under the police protection.

The protestors were led by Bira Ram Valjot, leader of the Bazigar tribe and municipal councillor of the BJP. Other BJP activists, including block BJP president Chander Mohan Chawla, joined the protestors. Mr Valjot alleged that the Trust was building the boundary wall on the land used by the residents of Bazigar basti’s children and drainage. However, Mr Kishor Chahal, a Trustee, claimed that the land belonged to the Trust. The SDM, Mr Pritam Singh, and the DSP, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, who were camping at the site, told newsmen that the land belonged to the Trust which had sought the police protection for constructing the wall. They said the traffic was diverted through the market before being restored. The Naib-Tehsildar, Mr Mulkh Raj, acting as the Duty Magistrate, was overseeing the construction of the wall.

The Trust had bought 119 kanals and 17 marlas of land from the Provincial government on October 25, 1982. Its Khasra No was 56/2.

The Bazigar basti exists on 124 kanals and 3 marlas of land got from the Municipal Council and its No was 56/1. However, the residents of basti did not allow the Trust running a Girls College and an ITI to construct the wall on the side that divided the Trust’s land from the basti’s area. Residents of the basti had got a stay on the construction of the boundary wall on August 8, 2001, which was vacated on September 4, 2001. The Trust approached the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP for constructing the wall along Girls College named after Guru Ravi Das.


Dental healthcare conference
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 23
A two-day state-level Dental Health Care Conference organised by the Punjab Unit of the Indian Dental Council started here today with a special note for treating dental healthcare, at par with diseases like polio tuberculosis. Inaugurating the conference Dr S.C. Anand, Principal, Government College, Rohtak, laid stress on organising free dental camps at regular intervals.

More and more mobile vans should be deployed for providing better services to the affected people. A Special attention should be given to the rural areas. A special period should be introduced in primary schools to teach dental healthcare besides rerfresher courses should also be conducted for teachers in this regard.

Dr Anand said import duty should also be reduced on the dental material and efforts should be to manufacture the same in the country.

He disclosed that the Haryana Government had already taken various steps to provide better dental services and the orthodentics treatment was given to the needy at Rs 1500 for two years continuously. Dr Dalip Shanker Desh Pande from Bombay emphasised on the need for introducing implantation technology for artificial teeth to rehabilitate the oral cancer patients.

He said it would also increse the life expectancy of the people by at least 10 years. The DRDO in New Delhi was already working on this project. Among the other prominent speakers include Dr Harjinder Singh Retired Deputy Director Dental Health Services Punjab and Dr S.P.S. Sodhi, President of the state body.


Police remand for two Pak infiltrators

Ferozepore, November 23
Two Pakistanis, arrested by the BSF for infiltration near here, were remanded in police custody for seven days by a court here today. Identified as Haroon Rashid (18) and Shahbaz (22), were nabbed by the BSF while trying to infiltrate into India near the Hussainiwala border November 21 night. They were carrying Pakistani currency in small amount.

They were handed over to the police yesterday by the 14 BSF Battalion.

During preliminary interrogation, Haroon Rashid admitted having gone to Dubai some time ago where he befriended a person, at whose suggestion he and Shahbaz tried to infiltrate into India. The two are being shifted to Interrogation Centre in Amritsar tomorrow for further interrogation. Police suspect them to be ISI agents. UNI


PPCB simplifies hospital waste management
Our Correspondent

Barnala, November 23
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has decided to simplify authorisation norms for Punjab state’s private hospitals for the management of the bio-medical waste.

Dr R.C. Garg President of the Punjab IMA unit, stated here today the Pollution Control Board took this decision after a deputation of the IMA met Mr Satish Chandra, Chairman, PPCB, at Patiala on November 21 and sought simplification of authorisation norms for the private hospitals of Punjab for Bio-Medical Waste Management.

Dr Garg said now private hospitals in Punjab would be required to fill a simple proforma under Rule: 8 as per gazette notification of Bio-Medical Waste Management Rule, 1998 along with fee of Rs 1,500. The Chairman of the PPCB assured the IMA that the simple proforma would be sent in a week.

Earlier, the private hospitals were asked to attach 11 documents which included a hospital site plan approved by the Municipal Council or the Corporation and a balance sheet of income etc. with applications. The IMA claimed that the PPCB agreed to delegate authorisation powers to control Board’s offices in districts for the purpose of bio-medical waste management to help private clinics secure PPCB authorisation at the district headquarter itself. Dr R.C. Garg, Punjab IMA chief, was also nominated as member of the Advisory Board of the PPCB.

Dr Garg revealed that the Punjab IMA had entered into an agreement with PECMA, a New Delhi-based firm and Miridi, a Mumbai-based firm and offered them contract for the bio-medical waste management of Punjab private hospitals to meet December 31, 2002, deadline set by the Supreme Court of India.

Dr Garg informed that PECMA and Miridi would set up plants at Jalandhar and Mohali respectively, before December 31 this year. He made it clear that PECMA did obtain no objection certificate from the PPCB for setting up bio-medical waste management plant at Jalandhar.


BSNL mobile services from tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 23
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) will start its mobile services, both post and pre-paid, here on November 25.

The General Manager, Bathinda Telecom, Mr Joginder Mohan, said this while addressing a press conference. He said while the pre-paid (Excell) service would be started on November 25, the post-paid mobile (Cellone) service would be available from November 29. This was because a rating agency had been hired to check the credit worthiness of subscribers and it would file its reports within 48 hours after the application forms of the subscribers were sent to it.

He said no defaulter of the BSNL land line phones would be issued a mobile connection.

The department had planned to accept fee only in cash or by demand draft and no cheques would be accepted, he said.

To a question, he said by the end of this financial year, 4000 mobile connections would be released.

He said incoming calls under the cellone-325 scheme would be free of cost for the subscribers.

He said the SMS facility up to 160 characters would be free of cost for the subscribers and no airtime charges would have to be paid by them on BSNL mobile phones having STD facility, and only actual land line STD tariff would be charged. He said the security deposit charged from a BSNL mobile subscribers would be refunded after the connection was surrendered.


6 cancer deaths reported
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, November 23
Even as the authorities concerned have been trying to solve the mystery behind the unusual number of deaths at Giana, Jajjal and Bhallo villages in the district in the past many years, more than six deaths due to cancer in this town in the past one and a half months have sounded alarm bells for residents.

What has caused fear among the residents is that they have never witnessed death due to cancer in such quick succession.

To make people aware of cancer and its detention, and measures to prevent it the AIDS India Society has decided to organise an awareness and diagnosis camp on December 1.

Mr Anil Saraf, president of the society, said eminent doctors from Delhi and other parts of the country would participate in the camp.

While some family members of the deceased have confirmed the cause of death as cancer, others are concealing the fact due to social stigma as this disease is considered a “curse” in this part of the Malwa region.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that some of those who died in the past few weeks were getting treatment in various hospitals outside Punjab.

Earlier, the state health authorities had been trying to find out the cause of the unusual number of deaths due to cancer at Giana Bhallo, and Jajjal villages. Even the Governor, Lt-Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), took serious note of the deaths. The Punjab State Human Rights Commission had directed the state health authorities and Pollution Control Board functionaries to give reasons why cancer had been spreading its tentacles at Jajjal village.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, said he would obtain information regarding these deaths.


Eight jhuggis gutted
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
As many as eight jhuggis situated in Paras Ram Nagar, a trans-railway colony, were reduced to ashes when these caught fire today.

Official sources said as none of the occupant of the jhuggis were present when these caught fire so the cause of fire could not be known.

The sources added that cash and household goods worth thousands of rupees were destroyed in the fire.

Mr Gurbir Singh, Fire Station Officer, said the fire was extinguished at 5.30 p.m.


Ophthalmological conference starts
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 23
The sixth Punjab Ophthalmological Conference started here today evening and the newly-elected president, Dr N.S. Baweja, in his inaugural speech said even as Punjab had no backlog of cataract operations two major diseases which could be eradicated were still causing blindness.

Dr Baweja said cases of Glaucoma and coronary blindness were increasing and pointed out that NGOs and other agencies should be discouraged from organising cataract operation camps, as the same were not yielding desirable results. He said instead of such camps, the NGOs should be motivated to hold awareness camps for eye donation and prevention of glaucoma.

He said coronary blindness was another curable disorder which was making an increasing number of patients blind and added that the number of coronary transplants being done in Punjab was less than 2,000.


Two succumb to burn injuries

Amritsar, November 23
Two of the four persons, who were injured while assembling firecrackers in a room in Fateh Singh Colony on November 21 succumbed to their burn injuries at Guru Nanak Hospital here last night.

Official sources in the hospital confirmed the death of Amrik Singh, the owner of the mini fire cracker factory, and Roshan Singh here today. Both had suffered 90 per cent burn injuries when the pile of firecrackers caught fire. UNI


15,000 ex-servicemen to attend rally

Amritsar, November 23
About 15,000 ex-servicemen, widows, World War II veterans and war heroes will take part in a state-level rally to be organised by the Indian Ex-Services League, Punjab and Chandigarh here tomorrow. Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh will be the chief guest. OC


Jaundice death toll rises to 3
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
With one more death reported from jaundice affected Kot Mit Singh and the adjoining areas, the death toll has risen to three.

However, the district Health Department in a press note here today, claimed that the disease had been brought under control.

According to information, 15-year-old Ranjit Kaur of Ishwar Nagar on the Tarn Taran road died two days ago. Meanwhile, Mr D.P. Gupta, Assistant Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, said all samples taken from hand pumps in the affected areas had failed the test. 


Cane growers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, November 23
Hunderds of farmers today staged a dharna in front of the local cooperative sugar mills against the non-payment of Rs 5.64 crore to the cane growers.

Mr Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu, convener, Kisan Sangarash Committee, condemned the government for not paying the dues to the farmers for the past one year.


No privatisation of octroi collection: MC
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
The Municipal Council, President, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhuller, categorically stated today that no auction for privatising octroi collection would be held, as reported in a section of the Press. He said though a resolution providing for the collection of octroi on contract had been passed by the Municipal Council, the MC authorities would not take any step in this connection.

Mr Rajan Garg, general secretary, All-India Youth Akali Dal, said if the collection of octroi was privatised by the Municipal Council authorities, Youth Akali Dal activists would participate in an agitation, which would be launched by a section of the traders.

Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, however, gave an assurance to traders, who met him recently along with Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC, that octroi collection would not be handed over to private contractors.


Man murdered
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 23
Surjeet Singh, a resident of Dhansingh Khana village of the district, was murdered late last night in his house. Police sources said the assailants tied him to a cot and killed him.

A case under Section 460 of the IPC has been registered.


DAV institutions hold chetna rally
Tribune Reporters

Batala, November 23
A chetna rally was organised here today by the local DAV institution. About 3000 students of 10 DAV schools and colleges participated in the rally.

The rally was led by Mr Mohan Lal, Secretary, DAV College Managing Committee, New Delhi. Prominent among those who attended the rally were Mr Brij Mohan Lal Aggarwal, Chairman, Local Managing Committee, R.R. Bawa DAV College for Girls, Batala, Mr J.S. Nayyar, Chairman, S.L. Bawa DAV College, Managing Committee, Batala; Veena Watni, Principal, Mr V.K. Bhatia, Principal, Mr A.C. Preet, Principal, Ms Kanta Mahajan, Principal, Ms Shabnam Handa, Principal.

PHILLAUR: Students of the local DAV College and other educational institutions participated in the chetna rally organised on Sunday. The rally was led by the Principal, Mr A.K. Vaid.

FARIDKOT: On a call given by the state body of the Arya Pradeshik Pratinidhi Sabha, more than 800 children of DAV School, Kotkapura, led by Ms Kiran Verma, Principal, along with other members of the staff held a chetna rally in Kotkapura on Friday.

PHAGWARA: The local Mohan Lal Uppal DAV College, various Arya Samaj institutions and local schools on Saturday organised a chetna rally to create awareness for the eradication of social evils like corruption, female foeticide, dowry and casteism. The rally was flagged off by local SDM, Mr Pritam Singh.


Warrants issued in paper leak case
Our Correspondent

Kharar, November 23
Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan, Judicial Magistrate, today issued non-bailable warrants for November 30 in the case pertaining to the leak of question papers of the Punjab Nursing Council examination against superintendent Gurpal Singh and Charanjeet Singh.

The court also issued search warrants of the residents of the suspects in SAS Nagar for November 26.

Mr Jatinderjeet Singh Punn, public prosecutor, and Mr Malkeet Singh DSP, Vigilance, informed the court since no court had debarred the arrest of the suspects, non-bailable warrants should be issued against them.

It is worth mentioning here that the Vigilance Bureau had registered a case on November 15 under Sections 420, 166 and 167 of the IPC against the suspects for accepting a bribe of Rs 15,000.


GND varsity to be open today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 23
Teaching, non-teaching and administrative department and offices of Guru Nanak Dev University will be open tomorrow in connection with the 33rd Foundation Day celebrations of the university.

This was stated here yesterday in a press note.

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