Wednesday, November 27, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Captain speaks to Ajit, Dhindsa
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 26
Cutting across party lines, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today solicited support from both Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Agriculture Minister Ajit Singh to get the state its rightful due as far as drought relief was concerned.

The Punjab Chief Minister, who is in the union Capital, reportedly talked to both Mr Dhindsa and Mr Ajit Singh over the telephone just before the start of the Union Cabinet meeting later in the this evening.

Capt Amarinder Singh reportedly argued that the Punjab Government had taken extra pains and made efforts to ensure that the “standing crops were not affected by the poor southwest monsoon. This entire effort cost the state a whopping Rs 6,700 crore which the Centre must reimburse, besides appreciating the efforts of the government. On the other hand, the special demand for a relief package of over Rs 3,100 cr was turned down by the Centre, saying that Punjab did not meet the “drought criteria”.

The Punjab Chief Minister maintained that since the political parties to which both Mr Dhindsa and Mr Ajit Singh belong claim to champion the cause of the farmers, they should strongly support the Punjab case in the Union Cabinet which was expected to discuss “drought measures” at its meeting later in the evening. Sources reveal that both Mr Dhindsa and Mr Ajit Singh promised to support the Punjab case strongly.

The telephone calls from the Chief Minister to Mr Dhindsa and Mr Ajit Singh become significant as the NDA’s alliance partner in Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal, has given a call for a “jail bharo” agitation tomorrow.

The party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has announced that he would court arrest at Muktsar tomorrow. Interestingly, when the MPs from Punjab turned up for a meeting convened by the Punjab Chief Minister in the union Capital, four SAD MPs — Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur and Mr Zora Singh Mann — were conspicuous by their absence. In fact, SAD leaders were busy mobilising workers for the “jail bharo andolan” in the state.


Eye camp: probe finds 25 lost sight
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, November 26
Probe by a team of doctors from the Civil Surgeon’s office here has confirmed that 25 persons lost sight after undergoing surgery at a camp near Jagraon on October 12. Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, Dr S.N. Tiwari, said the report had been forwarded to the Secretary, Health and Family Welfare.

The inquiry into the incident was conducted on the directions of the Principal Secretary (Home), Mr S.K. Sinha, and the Civil Surgeon was asked to probe the extent of the damage caused to the patients. The committee set up by the Civil Surgeon was asked to find out the exact number of people who had suffered temporary or permanent loss of vision.

The report stated that 25 persons lost sight after they were operated upon for cataract at an eye camp held at Nanaksar Kaleran, near Jagraon, sponsored by Baba Nand Singh, Baba Ishar Singh Charitable Trust, in association with Lions Club mid-town, Jagraon.

The surgery was conducted by a team of doctors from Patiala led by Dr Dhanwant Singh and his son Dr Pushpwant Singh on being contacted, Dr Dhanwant Singh termed the fiascos as an exaggeration by the media adding that only five persons had lost vision which was due to lack of post-operative care. The patients had been operated upon by a team of experts. They were discharged after a thorough examination, he claimed.


ZP shops: vigilance probe recommended
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 26
The scam involving reduction in rent rates of certain zila parishad shops here and allotment of some shops by the Panchayat Samiti, Pathankot, had taken a new turn with the Punjab Government recommending the Vigilance Bureau to investigate the case.

Official sources said owners of 32 shops belonging to the zila parishad here were issued notices that their allotment had been cancelled and the last date to obey these orders was fixed as November 7. There were complaints that rents of at least 12 shops belonging to the zila parishad here had been arbitrarily reduced against which affidavits were submitted to the Deputy Commissioner by certain shopkeepers that the step had been taken allegedly after accepting gratification.

The sources said that five shops and two sheds at Pathankot belonging to the panchayat, samiti were sold to the occupants for a song. The Director Rural Development, Panchayats then approved the sale despite the fact that the authority laid with the Minister of Rural Development. However, after investigation the orders approving the sale were cancelled on October 9.

Official sources said in October, 2002 this year a zila parishad shop here was illegally allotted allegedly after an exchange of Rs 1.5 lakh at a monthly rent of Rs 147 per month. The complaint in this regard has been submitted to the department but no action has been taken so far.

The Vigilance Bureau was directed by the Financial Commissioner, Rural Development and Panchayats on October 9 to investigate the case and fix responsibility. He has also recommended to the Chief Secretary to take action against the then Director, Rural Development and Panchayats.

Meanwhile, four clerks of the zila parishad here who have been identified as Sohan Singh, Harjinder Singh, Karnail Singh and Narinder Singh have been placed under suspension.


Animal acts in circus banned
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 26
Taking a note of the cruelty being inflicted on performing animals, the district administration has banned performance by an animal in Bharat Circus, running in the Pratap Bagh locality here.

Mr K. Siva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, also ordered the police to register a case against the circus management under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, after a report in The Tribune yesterday that a number of birds and animals, parrots, dogs and elephants, were made to perform which amounted to cruelty as per the Act.

The management also did not allegedly fulfil the pre-condition that a veterinary doctor was a must in case the owner had more than 10 animals, even though it had more than 30 animals.

The circus management had obtained permission from the district administration for the circus, it made animals perform in spite of not being registered with the Animal Welfare Board of India (AWBI), which was mandatory as per Section 22 of the Act.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Prasad said he had banned the circus acts relating to performance by animals. “They may carry on with the other acts, but no none would be allowed to inflict cruelty on animals,” he said.

Earlier, a team comprising Dr Sandip Jain, an executive member of the AWBI, and Dr G.S. Bedi, president of the local chapter of the PFA, had found several anomalies in the running of the circus and had submitted a report to the DC, seeking the registration of a case against the management and ban on the performance by animals.

Meanwhile, the circus management has reportedly approached the DC and higher authorities of the Punjab Veterinary Department pleading that the PFA and the AWBI were not competent to carry out an inspection.


Doctors hail probe into kidney racket
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November, 26
The Punjab Nephrology Society has welcomed the decision of the state government to order a Vigilance probe into the sale and purchase of kidneys. It has demanded that if the government felt that organ donation from unrelated donors was an offence, then it should immediately ban the practice instead of harassing the medical fraternity on the issue.

In a press statement issued here on Sunday, the president of the society, Dr Navdeep Khera, said, the government should frame a comprehensive policy to regulate organ donation from unrelated volunteers to eliminate the middlemen, who had brought a bad name to the medical fraternity due to their dubious dealings.

The government had initiated a Vigilance probe in to the kidney donation racket following complaints about unrelated donors in different parts of the state, including Amritsar, Ludhiana and Jalandhar. These donors were not paid the agreed amounts by middlemen for donating organs.

“In fact, the ongoing controversy over kidney donation, projecting it as an illegal activity, was generated due to lack of public awareness in this regard and the touts involved in the racket had tarnished the image of doctors,” the statement said.

Dr Khera said the recent arrests of some of middlemen, who were allegedly found exploiting the donors economically, was a welcome step and urged the government to depute a Vigilance official of a senior rank to conduct an impartial probe into the matter.

The statement further called upon the state government to constitute a high-powered committee to suggest guidelines to the authorisation committees concerned to establish the donors’ identities and to suggest measures for saving them from exploitation. Dr Khera said the reported mortality rate of the recepients was 0.03 per cent, which was far less than in other surgical procedures.

The society declared that its members would not conduct any kidney transplant till the formation of a comprehensive policy by the state government pertaining to unrelated donors.


CBI probe into kidney sale sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 26
Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran Communist leader, has demanded a CBI probe into the kidney sale racket allegedly “flourishing” in the city. He said the Punjab police could not conduct an impartial inquiry as an IGP was suspected to be involved in the racket.

In a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Mr Dang said the case of kidney sale had been handed over to the Crime Branch to protect some influential persons, including doctors, advocates and police officers.

The Communist leader cited a case in which a manager of OBC Bank, Naresh Mahajan, was killed. After passing through the hands of several SPs the case was transferred to the crime branch, allegedly to hush it up on the behest of influential persons involved in the banking scam, Mr Dang said.

He said the kidney sale case had met a similar fate.

Alleging political backing to the multi-crore racket, he said poor donors were being exploited and even murdered for money by agents.

Mr Dang said lack of post-operative care led to the loss of lives of many donors, who were cremated as unidentified persons. Reportedly, some unscrupulous doctors and politicians, too, had a share in the booty”.

He said cases had been reported in which youths were made to look like migrant labourers before being presented before the authorisation committee, which scrutinised case of kidney donors unrelated to recipients.

The involvement of top lawyers to prepare false affidavits presented before the committee had come to light from police investigations, he said.


Akalis go underground
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Elaborate security arrangements had been made to meet any eventuality. Many Akali workers have reportedly gone underground on the eve of ‘Jail Bharo’ andolan tomorrow.

According to information available with The Tribune, the police could resort to raiding the houses of Akali leaders late this evening.


Dal (Amritsar), Muslims decry temple attack
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, November 26
Mr Jaskaran Singh, general secretary, Akali Dal (Amritsar), headed by Simranjit Singh Mann, today criticised the attack on temple in Jammu and described it as an attempt to create communal divide.

However, while Parliament condemned the attack on Jammu temple the next day of the incident but the House had not condemned the attack on Golden Temple in 1984 even after 18 years. Neither the massacre of Sikhs in 1984 nor the 36 Sikhs in Chittisinghpura in Jammu & Kashmir last year, he regretted.

He wanted Parliament to adopt a resolution condemning the attack on the Golden Temple and the government should ensure that killers of Sikhs in 1984 were brought to the books, added Mr Jaskaran Singh.

Meanwhile, several Muslim bodies today condemned the attack on the temples in Jammu and the killing of 13 persons in it on Sunday night. Syed Nazir Ahmed, president, Anjuman-e- Dawtey Islamia Committee, Punjab described the attack as barbaric. Islam did not preach violence and killing of the innocent, he asserted. Only un-Islamic elements could do unholy acts like entering the temple in the holy month of Ramzan, quipped Ahmed. Baba Mohammed Gulzar Shah Qadri, Chairman, Muslim Wing of the Punjab state unit of the Rashtri Janata Dal (Democratic) said that terrorists had no religion or “mazhab”. A meeting of the wing alleged that Pakistan-backed and ISI-sponsored terrorists wanted to create riots in India by such activities. The meeting warned Pakistan against such blasphemous acts. Terrorists were enemies of mankind and not true Muslims, added Baba Qadri.


Paonta mishap: kin given relief
Our Correspondent

Lehra Dhurkot, November 26
A large number of local residents today attended the bhog ceremony of eight persons of the village who were killed in an accident, near Paonta Sahib, on November 16.

Family members of the deceased were given cheques of ex-gratia grant by Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, Minister of State for Public Health. The government had announced that family members of the deceased would be given a grant of Rs 1 lakh.

As many as 10 persons were killed in the accident, near Paonta Sahib, when a truck in which they were travelling fell into a gorge.

Eight of the killed persons belonged to the village. The residents were going for a pilgrimage to Kapal Mochan in Haryna.

Among others who attended the ceremony were Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, MLA, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhillon, former Punjab Minister, Mr Jasmel Singh, former MLA, and members of various political and social parties.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SHSAD and MP, gave Rs 3 lakh for the development of the village. The cheque was presented on his behalf by party activists to village sarpanch Mr Chand Singh.


Tarn Taran bus stand in bad shape

Tarn Taran, November 26
The multi-crore bus stand here is suffering heavy losses even seven years after its completion. The bus stand has multi-facilities like 12 shops, a restaurant, toilet facilities, a PCO, mini post office, two rest rooms etc.

The authorities have failed to maintain it properly. There is no cleanliness. The toilets have lost the apparatus fitted there.

Only five shops have been auctioned this year. The remaining shops are lying unauctioned resulting in loss to the government and the department. The restaurant is yet to be auctioned. Because of the heavy losses, maintenance work has been badly affected.

The roads leading to the bus stand are in no better condition. The department has not cared to maintain the main building. The fans installed are either missing or non-functional. The second storey of the bus stand is lying vacant.


World Bank team lauds SUWIDHA
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 26
“Wonderful, excellent, a very good beginning”. These were the words of Mr Bikram K. Chand, Senior Public Sector Management Specialist of the World Bank team, during his visit last week to study the initiatives taken by the district administration in making use of Information Technology to reach to the doorsteps of the people — specially weak and downtrodden section of society. He appreciated SUWIDHA (Single User-Friendly Window Disposal & Help-Line for Applicants), a project recently inaugurated by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. He said the district administration had done an extraordinary work for the welfare of the people and he would recommend to the Punjab Government to implement such model projects in the entire state.

Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, who himself is an electronics engineer, said SUWIDHA would strengthen the relationship between the administration and the people. First the government offices went in for computerisation of their routine office work to generate various procedural MIS report. But the district was contemplating the idea of how to make use of IT for the welfare of people. He said the need arose as hundreds of people used to come to his office as well as to various other offices for the redressal of their petty grievances and getting various services, which could had been solved just on a single counter.

Giving details about the project, Mr Pratap said SUWIDHA would facilitate the citizens in getting easy access to government services. Now citizens will not be required to visit different branches. Instead, all the services will be made available from a single window counter. After filing the application for the requisite service at the SUWIDHA counter, they will be issued a receipt slip bearing token number and a specific date of delivery of service(s). The case will move to the branch concerned for action and for delivery of their documents on the specified due date from the counter itself. In order to ensure timely delivery, progress is monitored regularly so that the citizen does not have to visit the office again. This way the branches will be able to concentrate on the official and creative work rather than attending to routine complaints. This will further help in improving government service and the citizen will also be freed from harassment. Government fees are also accepted at SUWIDHA window and the citizens are not required to visit the banks.

Mr Navneet Kukreja, Director (NIC), said SUWIDHA had been linked to other systems operational on LAN. This will facilitate use of WebCITI (Web Based Citizen-IT Interface) for delivering information to the masses and DialCITI (Phone Based Citizen-IT Interface), a dream project initially developed for the department of social security due to problems being faced by the aged the windows, the physically challenged and the downtrodden.

With the implementation of these projects, the people will not be required to visit the district offices or the banks from far flung areas to know the status of their applications DialCITI will bring the IT at the doorsteps of citizens and E-Governance will implemented in true sense. DialCITI has a resemblance to a voice mail or auto-attendant system.

Mr S.K. Banga, Principal Systems Analyst, NIC, told The Tribune that the Fatehgarh Sahib was also putting all land records data of the district on the Internet.


Global gurdwara panel in offing
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Foreign-based Sikhs are contemplating forming an international gurdwara parbandhak committee to bring all Sikh shrines in the USA, Canada, UK and other countries under its ambit with regard to their management.

Mr Pritpal Singh, president, American Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (AGPC) told the correspondent at Gurdwara Dera Sahib, Lahore, that he had approached Sikhs based in Canada and other countries to come on a single platform so that “maryada” could be restored in all Sikh shrines of the world. He, however, said the AGPC and the proposed international committee would continue to follow the “maryada” in accordance with the SGPC Akal Takht norms. He said Akal Takht was the supreme temporal seat of the Sikhs and hence no Sikh could challenge its authority.


Notice issued

Chandigarh, November 26
Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday issued notice to an accountant working with Punwire to explain why his bail, along with that of other accused in the case, should not be cancelled.

The Court, on the last date of hearing, had issued notices to certain staff members including the Accounts Manager, the Accounts Officer and certain other officials, asking them to explain why their bail should not be cancelled. The directions were issued while taking up a bail plea filed by another accused in the case. He had contended that all accused had been released on bail by the Ropar’s Sessions Judge, but his application had been erroneously dismissed.

Bail granted

Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday granted bail to Jarnail Singh, personal assistant of Punjab’s former minister Ajit Singh Kuhar.

In his plea for the grant of bail, the accused had earlier contended that he was being implicated in a false case. The police had earlier booked him on the allegations of managing the affairs of the former minister.


8 rail sections incurring losses
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, November 26
Eight rail sections of Ferozepore division have been incurring losses this year. Railway sources while confirming this report told this correspondent here today that the Amritsar-Attari, Amritsar-Khemkaran, Pathankot-Jogindernagar, Jalandhar-Hoshiarpur, Amritsar-Dera Baba Nanak, Ludhiana-Lohian, Phagwara-Nawanshahr and Jalandhar-Nakodar rail sections had been incurring losses.

The sources said railways had recorded a 6 per cent decrease in passenger traffic in Ferozepore division, but 15 per cent increase in earnings from long-distance travel. As much as 300 per cent increase from goods loading had also been recorded.

The sources said the Ludhiana-Jalandhar rail section would be electrified by March, 2003, and the electrification of the Jalandhar-Amritsar rail section would be completed by June next. The sources said close circuit cameras had been installed at important railway stations of Ferozepore division to observe activities of anti-social elements, besides other safety measures which had been taken.

The sources said the speed limit in all branch railway sections had been increased to 75 km per hour whereas trains had been permitted to run at a maximum speed of 110 km per hour on main lines during day time, but the speed limit between 2 to 6 km had been reduced. The sources said railways had opened a “Customer Care Institute” at New Delhi to give training to railway staff to behave well with the public.

The sources said railways was observing this year as “Yatri Suvidha Varsh” to facilitate rail passengers. Railways was taking several steps for modernising the railway stations and rail service.


Govt ‘failed’ to fulfil demands
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 26
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union has alleged that the government has not implemented the decisions taken in September regarding the demands of the employees.

Members of the union, who have been holding rallies at their respective offices since November 20, said in a press note here yesterday that they had started the agitation as the government failed to fulfil its promises. The union leaders said the government had accepted some of their demands in September and had promised to implement these in due course of time. Mr Gurjant Singh Grewal, district president, and Mr Baldev Singh, state press secretary of the union, respectively, said in a press note that they would hold rallies till November 27. They said the government had accepted the demands, including 15 per cent house rent for employees of Patiala city, no dismissal of newly appointed employees. They alleged that the government was now backing out from accepting the demands.

The union leaders said they had given enough time to the government to act upon the accepted demands, but the government had not made any such move.


Funds’ shortage hits veterinary care
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, November 26
The paucity of funds and shortage of staff has affected the working of the Animal Husbandry Department in the district. There are no funds even for the repair of departmental vehicles.

The annual medicines budget for hospitals and dispensaries is also insufficient. Medicines worth Rs 10,000 each are being supplied to a hospital and Rs 5,000 each to a dispensary.

According to official sources, there are 2,72,300 buffaloes and 1,92,400 cows in the district out of which 1,60,520 buffaloes and 92,100 cows are breedable. There is no scheme for the rehabilitation of stray animals who are not only creating problems for the smooth flow of vehicular traffic in the urban areas but are also damaging standing crops in the rural areas. There are 92 veterinary hospitals and 91 dispensaries in the district.

The veterinary dispensary at Mangowal Nari village had been closed due to washing away of its building in heavy floods in 1998. Since then the department had failed in constructing the new building for running a dispensary in the village.

Sources said there are 71 sanctioned posts of doctor, 151 pharmacist and 170 of class IVth employees in the district out of which eight posts of doctors, 26 pharmacists and 11 of class IVth employees are lying vacant since long. There is no budget even for the electricity and telephone bills. The department has to pay arrears to lakhs of rupees for their electric and telephone bills to the PSEB and the Telecom Department. The annual budget for petrol for four vehicles is Rs 1.20 lakh only which is insufficient.

The state government had opened fodder stores and fodder banks under the integrated watershed development project (IWDP) at villages of Chohal, Maili, Janauri and Dholbaha located in the Kandi area to meet the scarcity of fodder there. But all fodder banks and stores had been closed by the project authorities for reasons well-known to them. The department has made fodder stores there now. The office of the Deputy Director, Integrated Watershed Development Project has also been shifted to Dasuya as the said project is confined to Dasuya sub-division only.

Sources said though eight months of the current financial year had passed but only half of the medicines have been provided to these hospitals and dispensaries.


Ban Ashutosh’s activities: SGPC

Amritsar, November 26
SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar has taken exception to the attack on the historic gurdwara of Baba Lakho in Bharta Ganeshpur village in Hoshiarpur district yesterday.

A press note issued by the publicity wing of the SGPC here today called upon the Punjab Government to ban the activities of the ‘Divya Jagran Jyoti Sansthan’ and its head Baba Ashutosh. The note claimed that he was distorting facts from the Gurbani, which had hurt the sentiments of the Sikhs.

Such preachings would only incite the Sikh masses against the Baba’s sect, it added while referring to the confrontation of the Noormahalias with Sikhs in Tarn Taran, Jalandhar and various other places in the state. UNI


Judicial remand for followers

Hoshiarpur, November 26
A Duty Magistrate today remanded 55 followers of Baba Ashutosh Maharaj, head of the Noormahal-based Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan, in judicial custody till December 9.

They were arrested yesterday under sections 307, 204, 295-A and 427 of the IPC after they attacked a cassette seller belonging to the Khalsa Panchayat at Bharta Ganeshpur village, near Mahilpur. Four persons belonging to the Baba Lakho dera were injured in the attack by the Noormahalias as the “sansthan” is generally known.

The immediate provocation behind the attack was the playing of a cassette against the Noormahalia sect and Baba Ashutosh. UNI


Boycott Mann: Thakur Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 26
Baba Thakur Singh, acting Jathedar of Damdami Taksal (Jatha Bhinderan) today gave a call to the Sikh sangat to boycott Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), for his alleged propaganda against the taksal.

In a press statement issued here today, Baba Thakur Singh warned Mr Mann against interfering in the internal affairs of the taksal. He said Mr Mann wanted to damage the Damdami Taksal, which had promoted him in the past. He said the Sikh sangat should not give any support to Mr mann in future.


National award for Faridkot Red Cross
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 26
The Central Government has selected the District Red Cross Society here for a national award for its dedicated services. The award carries Rs 35,000, a citation and a certificate which will be given by Mr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President, on the International Disabled Day at Vigyan Bhavan, New Delhi, on December 3. This was stated Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner and chairman of the society, here today.

Elaborating the activities of the society, Mr Prasad said it has been running a number of welfare projects like an artificial limb fitting centre, a physiotherapy-cum-rehabilitation centre, Umang school for mentally challenged and another school for visually handicapped children in collaboration with the Central Government.

The society has recently set up a senior citizens’ home at a cost of Rs 32 lakh. It was also running a 15-bedded hospital for drug addicts.

A plan has also been mooted for a multipurpose school complex on the Faridkot-Kotkapura road at a cost of Rs 1 crore.


Woman, 3 daughters electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Kot Kapura, November 26
A woman and her three daughters were electrocuted this morning on the Moga road here. The accident was caused by heating rod used to heat water.

Sources said Malkit Kaur was washing clothes using water heated with electrical heating rod. Her three daughters were helping her to clean the house. The deceased tried to take water from a utensil and received electric shock and fell down immediately. This displaced the heating element also still connected to the power supply and it fell on the wet floor, which the three girls were washing. They were also electrocuted and could not be saved.

Sources said the family had religious function tomorrow and were preparing for it. Balwinder Singh had gone to Gurdwara to arrange for the function. Eldest daughter of Balwinder Singh, Paramjit Kaur, was a student of class IX, while Gurpreet Kaur was a student of class VIII and the youngest Manpreet Kaur was the student of class VII, the three were the students of the local Government Senior Secondary School. The school remained closed.

Balwinder Singh who works as a commission agent had shifted to this town a few months ago and one of his daughters and a son stay with his (Balwinder’s) sister at Khialiwala village. The town mourned the incident.


Three of family die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 26
Three members of a family were killed in a road accident on the Abohar-Sri Ganganagar road here yesterday.

According to information, Rajesh Rampal, an employee of Marlin Foods, had come here from Sri Ganganagar to attend a marriage. As he was returning home along with his wife Jyoti (40) and daughter Naina (4) on a motor cycle they swerved sharply to avoid a dog. Meanwhile, an Army vehicle which was coming from the opposite side hit the motor cycle. Rajesh and his daughter died on the spot. Jyoti was brought to the Civil Hospital here on the Army vehicle, but she died within a few minutes.

Rajesh Rampal’s father-in-law Diwan Chand Sharma, a head constable in the Rajasthan police, reached here on getting the information along with others late last night. The bodies were handed over to the bereaved family after conducting a post-mortem examination at the Civil Hospital.

In another accident Kahna Ram, a local resident, and Lal Chand, a mechanic from Sri Ganganagar were killed as their jeep collided with a truck. According to information, they were going to Bhavnagar to buy a compressor for an ice cream factory located on the Sri Ganganagar road here. Seven occupants of the jeep were also injured.


Civil Surgeon visits HIV patients
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 26
Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, today visited HIV positive patients at Rampura Phul town.

Dr Goyal in a press note issued today, said, Mr Rupan Deol Bajaj, Principal Secretary, and Mr Darbara Singh Guru, Secretary of Health and Family Welfare Department, had given instructions to visit HIV positive patients.

Dr Goyal said the family members of the patients were given information about disease. He claimed that no discrimination was made while treating HIV positive patients in government hospitals.


Typhoid cases in Amritsar area
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 26
Cases of typhoid have been reported from the Friends Nagar area on the Majitha road here. A local doctor told this correspondent that at least eight or nine typhoid patients had been regularly visiting him for treatment.

Meanwhile, despite initial denials of the spread of jaundice in the slum area of Kot Mit Singh, Guru Arjun Dev Nagar and other adjoining areas on the Tarn Taran road, Dr K.K. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, along with other senior officials of the Health Department and Mr Hansa Singh, senior sanitary inspector, yesterday visited the jaundice affected areas. The Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti, along with several MLAs also visited the localities.


Status quo on construction of ‘deorhi’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 26
On a writ petition filed in the Sessions Court, Mr Laxman Singh, Civil Judge, has ordered “status quo” on the construction of a “deorhi” (main entrance gate), being carried out at Santokhsar gurdwara here. The next hearing in the case will be on December 3.

The issue has been an apple of discord between the Amritsar Municipal Corporation and the SGPC since the past week.


Army starts demining
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 26
The Army today started removing landmines from the border near Dostpur village in Dera Baba Nanak sector. The landmines were laid on an area of 5000 acres. The Army authorities said the area would be gradually demined during the month. Eight persons in the district had lost their limbs due to landmine blasts.


Rally against transfers
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, November 26
More than 200 employees owing allegiance to the General Category Welfare Federation held a rally in front of the office of the District Education Officer (Primary) here today against the transfers done under ‘pressure’. They decided to intensify the stir if the transfers of teachers were not withdrawn.


Jalandhar DD centre best

Jalandhar, November 26
Jalandhar doordarshan centre has been declared the best among 26 major DD centres at an award ceremony held in Mumbai.

Of the 26 major DD centres of the country, Jalandhar Centre was judged the best for its overall performance in different fields, an official press note said here today. PTI


Rice millers not to deliver rice to FCI
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 26
The Patiala Rice Millers Association today decided not to deliver any milled rice to the Food Corporation of India (FCI) until the body ensured equal distribution of paddy slated for custom milling to the millers.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the association chaired by the president of the Punjab Rice Millers Association, Mr Tarsem Saini and general secretary Gian Sofat at a meeting held at the FCI Buffer Complex. It was also decided to protest against the unequal distribution of paddy amongst the various millers. The association demanded a clear cut and transparent policy formed in this regard.

Mr Saini also appealed to Food and Supplies Minister Lal Singh on the occasion to abolish the Sales Tax levied on rice bran and husk. He said the minister had in an earlier meeting promised to take up the matter with the Chief Minister.


Lathi charge on farmers decried
Our Correspondent

Mansa, November 26
Mr Joginder Singh Ugraha, president, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary, Mr Malook Singh Hirke, senior vice president, Mr Inder Singh Bhaini Bhaga, vice-president, of the Punjab state unit of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), and Mr Ram Singh Bhaini Bhaga, district president, in a joint statement here today condemned the Chautala Government for lathi charge on the agitating farmers of Haryana demanding payment of arrears of sugarcane supplied to sugar mills.

They demanded release of Mr Ghasi Ram Nain, president, BKU of the Haryana unit and other farmers arrested yesterday.


Auction of trees: DC asked to form panel
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 26
The Punjab Government has directed the district administration to form a committee to identify old and withered trees on land meant for drinking water projects so that these can be auctioned to generate funds.

This was stated by Mr Jasjeet Singh Randhawa, Public Health Minister, while talking to mediapersons at Rampura Phul today. He said the funds generated would be used to improve the supply of drinking water to rural population.

Mr Randhawa said the Deputy Commissioner had been directed to form the committee to auction the trees.

He said Rs 8 crore had been sanctioned for the changing of filter media and other maintenance work of drinking water supply schemes in Bathinda, Mansa and Muktsar districts.

He said the World Bank would give Rs 700 crore for providing water supply and sanitation facilities to 600 villages in the state.

Mr Randhawa said about 7,800 villages had been covered under various water supply schemes. He said five villages would be selected from each block in the state as model villages for providing sanitation, drinking water supply, sewerage, street lights and pucca streets with the assistance of foreign companies.


Road berms cleared of encroachments
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, November 26
Under a special campaign to clear encroachments on roads and streets in the city, the municipal council authorities today took away the items put up by shopkeepers in front of their shops.

The authorities cleared the spaces on the Mall road and in the Arya Samaj Chowk area today. Senior officials of the municipal council were with employees when the drive to clear encroachments was carried out.

Many shopkeepers had showcased their wares on the pavements and foot paths thus obstructing the smooth flow of traffic. Some minor accidents had taken place in the past months due to unauthorised extension of shops.

Mr Milabh Kishore, SP (City) and his team were deployed to assist the municipal council authorities.

Temporary hosiery market established near Government Girls Senior Secondary School by some Nepalese was also removed as it was an encroachment on the pavement.

Mr Kamal Kant, Executive Officer, and Mr B.D. Singla, Municipal Engineer of the Municipal Council, who were supervising the campaign said the campaign would continue until all government land encroached upon by shopkeepers at different places of the city was not cleared.

Meanwhile, some of the shopkeepers alleged that they were not given notices before launching the campaign.


Husband, father-in-law held for killing woman
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, November 26
Piara Singh and Daljit Singh, father-in-law and husband of Bhupinder Kaur, respectively, were arrested on Monday for killing Bhupinder Kaur.

According to a pressnote issued today, Mr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, Bhupinder Kaur in her dying declaration alleged that her father-in-law Piara Singh raped her. She alleged that when her husband Daljit Singh came to know of the incident, he beat her up mercilessly.

She alleged that on November 24 at about 8.30 a.m. Piara Singh dragged her in his shop and set her on fire after sprinkling kerosene on her. She was admitted to DMC Hospital, Ludhiana, where she succumbed to her injuries.

A case under Sections 376, 302, 307 and 34 of IPC was registered against Daljt Singh and Piara Singh who were arrested.

Piara Singh and Daljit Singh were today produced in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr S.S. Dhaliwal, who remanded them to police custody till November 27.


Rs 15.29 lakh looted from bank
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 26
Three armed robbers entered the Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar branch of the Corporation Bank, here and walked away with Rs 15.29 lakh and gun of the security guard without any resistance from the staff and the guard.

This is the eighth such robbery since January this year in the area. The police was able to solve only one robbery which took place at Bakapur in Hoshiarpur district two months ago.

As they were entering the bank they snatched the gun from the guard, secured the keys of the cash cabin from the cashier.

According to police officials investigating the case, robbers did not face resistance from the guard and the bank staff did not use the emergency siren.


DE (Telecom) held for graft
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 26
Mr Shashi Bhushan Sharma, Divisional Engineer (DE), Telecom, Ropar, has been arrested by officials of the local Vigilance Bureau while allegedly accepting an illegal gratification of Rs 1,000 from a businessman Kuldip Kumar for the installation of a telephone on priority at his shop at Bela village.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Sarup Singh Mann, DSP, Vigilance, Ropar, said Mr Kuldip Kumar had applied some weeks ago for a new telephone connection and he approached the DE for installing the phone on priority. On this, the DE demanded Rs 2,000 from him for favouring him in this regard, but the deal had been struck at Rs 1,000.

The DSP said Mr Kuldip Kumar submitted an application the previous day before the DE for marking the same to instal telephone connection on priority and also handed over Rs 1,000 to the DE as per the deal.

The bureau had registered a case against the DE under Sections 7, 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act.


Political use of religion decried
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 26
Celebration of the Communal Harmony Week organised by the University College of Nursing Faridkot with central government’s assistance which concluded here yesterday underlined the need to strengthen secularism.

Fundamentalism has posed a serious threat not only at the local and national-level but also at the international level. Speakers expressed their concern over the misuse of religion by the vested interest for political gains. They did the present political system should be revitalised in the national interest.

Dr Mehar Singh Manick, Professor, Sociology Department, Panjab University, Chandigarh, regretted that the religion which was meant for making the society better was causing great harm to the democratic set-up in the country. He regretted that the religious places were becoming a shelter place for communal elements with the passing of time. Stringent measures were needed to remove this cancer.

Dr Jagmohan Singh, Principal, Adesh College of Physiotherapy from Muktsar, appealed to the countrymen to adopt more orphan children and being them in the mainstream of the society. He said his institution had already launched a special programmes for maintaining communal harmony in different areas. Presiding over the function, Dr P.S. Sandhu, Registrar of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, emphasised the need for promoting communal harmony. Dr Sandhu said 48 medical, dental and other institutions affiliated with the university were also observing communal harmony week in Nursing College, Faridkot. Mrs Raj Rani and Mrs Surinder Sharma, Principal, and faculty member, respectively, of the institution also spoke. More than 100 students took part in different functions and held various programmes like essay, painting, sports, poetry reciting, group songs and other competitions for maintaining communal harmony.

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