Wednesday, December 4, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Lawyers speak up for Bhattal
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 3
Even after getting a positive response from a section of central leaders, Punjab Rural Development Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal has decided to stay put in Delhi until she secures an audience with AICC chief Sonia Gandhi. A section of lawyers of Bathinda has also decided to bring out the fact that Mrs Bhattal is being victimised by her political opponents.

Mr Jatinder Rai Khattar, former president, District Bar Association, talking to TNS, said here today that a group of lawyers would meet Ms Gandhi shortly to tell her that the Congress government in the state was following two sets of rules for different persons.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who had given a clean chit to state Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhuller in a murder case and Mr Kuldeep Bhuller, son of the DGP, Punjab, in a land grab case, had shown undue haste in filing the challan in the corruption case against Mrs Bhattal in the court of the Special Judge, Chandigarh.

He wondered why the Congress government had failed to take notice of the shifting stand of the complainant, Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, president, Amateur Boxing Association, Bathinda, and why legal proceedings had not been started against him.

Mr Dhillon, he said, had requested in writing to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, and the Special Judge here, on December 29, 2001, that investigations into the case against Mrs Bhattal on his complaint be terminated as the matter had been adjudicated upon by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Khattar, in a press note, urged Capt Amarinder Singh to let the law take its own course.

He alleged that Capt Amarinder Singh had ‘rewarded’ those who had been ‘harassed’ Mrs Bhattal. A police official posted in Moonak area and known for his anti-Bhattal stance had been given extension in service. This had been done against the Cabinet decision, he added.

Meanwhile, Mrs Bhattal, who is camping in Delhi, told TNS that she had faith in the judiciary and the Congress leadership.

Supporters of Mrs Bhattal have demanded that a panel of Congress MLAs from other states be constituted to determine whether Mrs Bhattal is at fault or she has been a victim of conspiracy hatched by her political opponents and a section of bureaucrats.


Amarinder leaves for Delhi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
The portfolios of certain Punjab ministers are likely to be reshuffled on Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh's return from Delhi at the end of this week.

Sources said Capt Amarinder Singh left for the National Capital today to meet the party high command, especially Mrs Sonia Gandhi to get the portfolio-shuffling exercise approved and also to discuss Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal's case with her. Capt Amarinder Singh had gone to Delhi with a lot of material published in newspapers with regard to Mrs Bhattal and her case material.

There are about six ministers whose portfolios are expected to be changed.

A number of ministers and MLAs from Punjab have left for Gujarat to campaign in the Assembly elections there. The high command may ask Capt Amarinder Singh to reshuffle the portfolios only after their return from Gujarat, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, Mrs Bhattal has been camping in Delhi for the past two days. She has taken up her case with party General Secretary, Mohsina Kidwai and Ms Ambika Soni and has sought an appointment with Mrs Gandhi.


Political leadership with foresight need of hour
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
The Punjab Development Report—2002, released by Capt. Amarinder Singh on Monday, is only a referral point for those concerned with the processes to bring about prosperity for posterity. To achieve that it suggests that political consensus is as imperative as regional co-operation and decentralisation of powers.

For a Punjab of tomorrow, the report raises several questions. Is it not important to reorganise the state to reduce distortions in the administrative organisational setup by going beyond the traditional concept of four divisions, 17 districts, 72 subdivisions and 140 development blocks? Should these not be re-demarcated and only districts and development blocks retained? Does Punjab need four divisions or 72 subdivisions, when the average number of development blocks in a district is just eight?

Should development blocks be only rural in character or should several towns/cities should also be included in them for ‘’integrated’’ development, as also to reduce rural-urban socio-economic disparities and divide? Another suggestion for effecting equitable development is making boundaries of an assembly constituency co-terminus with development blocks or of a parliamentary constituencies in conformity with higher-level administrative units?

Punjab, not long ago, led the country in several fields. Today, it is craving to be led because it has failed to recognise its own potential. It can regain its past glory only if it has political leadership that has a foresight and vision and a bureaucracy that has commitment. Merely identifying problems and tasks is not enough as many other similar reports have done in the past. Since the Punjab Development Report is being marketed as “different”, it has to be understood and absorbed in a different context and also seen in a different perspective. Will it make a difference?

Punjab must wake up to realise its potential and foresee the danger signals due to the widening economic divide. Unfortunately, despite the state having passed through a tumultuous period, politics and economic development continue to be at odds and populism remains at the centre-stage of politics-driven policies. The report points out that economic transition is always painful and costly, as was the period of terrorism, when not only were lives lost but even the economy and social matrix were distorted.

Ironically, today every issue is politically charged and the report takes cognizance of this. The daily growing incidence of political confrontation, fear of vigilance, shadow of criminalised police and rulers increasingly becoming skilful at diverting into their pockets whatever little cash flow remains in the state is not unknown. If, as the Congress says, the Akalis nurtured corruption and has even booked several former ministers. The situation is no better today, counter the Akalis. The impending change of portfolios of some ministers for which Capt. Amarinder Singh is in Delhi is a pointer to corruption already having grown roots.

Punjab of tomorrow, therefore, can today ill-afford political frustration to lead to populist measures. The politico-administrative crisis or conflict has already spawned a vigorous debate. Therefore, the future of Punjab lies in a complete change or overhaul of the “mind-set” or in a “revolution of minds” as The Tribune Editor, Mr Hari Jaisingh, remarked at the report-release function at the Centre for Research in Rural and Industrial Development yesterday.

One aspect that one finds missing in the report, however, is the change of climate. The world-wide concern over global “warming” has not been taken into account. The envisioned Punjab of tomorrow cannot be insulated from the changing patterns of climate which will increasingly influence the economies.

Punjab has just faced a tough time due to the delayed monsoon, which created a near draught-like situation. Punjab had to bear an additional burden of Rs 6,372.38 crore to save kharif crop, mainly paddy. The fast-changing climatic patterns could induce floods, droughts, variable rains, heat or cold waves. Therefore, future development plans and strategies shall have to take cognizance of climatic changes and make adjustments in the budgets. Remember, developing countries had to spend $42 billion in 1998 due to weather changes, which had adversely affected their economies, as reported by the IMF. Punjab of tomorrow will continue to depend heavily on agriculture and water, the two most vulnerable resources. Therefore, future will mean greater dependence on ‘’technology’’, which has already left Punjab far behind many other states. The report rightly cautions that in the absence of equitable distribution of wealth or socio-economic services or the widening gap between the haves and have-nots have the potential of leading to re-emergence of terrorism, violence and crime. This, particularly, will be more true of urban Punjab, which is fast getting choked and chaotic. With the changing demographic profile, Punjab today is the fifth major urbanised state in India and highly urbanised in the Northwestern region. Yet, the state does not have an “urbanisation strategy” that can take care of the increasing imbalances in civic amenities and infrastructure. As of today, all proposed monetary/fiscal/economic reforms (agricultural, industrial, educational etc.) are nowhere in sight. Punjab is neither poor nor financially broke or government a pauper. Yet, things that went wrong over the decades will take time to get back on the correct course. Capt. Amarinder Singh became the Chief Minister on February 27. He completed nine months on November 27. His Council of Ministers was constituted on March 5. It will complete nine months on December 5. The present government is yet to deliver. Punjab of tomorrow awaits the result.


Irrigation scam: cover-up exercise begins
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
Rattled by reports regarding a scam of Rs 100 crore pertaining to the Upper Bari Doab Canal remodelling project, certain officials posted at the project site have started a “ cover-up” exercise to conceal irregularities and other faults committed while handling the project, according to informed sources.

Sources said the officials concerned had become over busy during the past three days obviously to cover up things well before the arrival of the four committees set up by the Punjab Government for holding a detailed inquiry into the scam.

The committees today held its first meeting here. Apart from Mr Jasbir Singh, Chief Engineer (Vigilance), Mr R.P.S. Yaduvanshi, has also been entrusted with the job of supervising the probe, it is learnt. The committee members are expected to leave for the project site tomorrow as today they collected documents etc with regard to the project.

Following preliminary inquiry, four top engineers posted at the project site were suspended by the government last week.

Meanwhile, engineers urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to follow the scam to its logical end. If “ corrupt officers” continued to siphon off crores of rupees from major projects, then Central Government might stop providing funds in this connection, they said. They also urged the Chief Minister to ask the probe committees to focus on the involvement of politicians in the scandal.

The engineers demanded that no innocent engineer should be suspended. They said Mr Jarnail Singh in the capacity of Superintending Engineer was never associated with the execution of the project, but even then he had been suspended. His case should be re-examined and if he was not at fault, action against him should be withdrawn, they added.

Meanwhile, during preliminary inquiry, it has been found that rules and procedures under design guidelines were violated with impunity and the works were carried out against the provisions of the sanctioned drawings and specifications, including some even without drawings sanctioned. The Chief Engineer had sanctioned estimates even against the canal design approved by himself.

Boulder stone pitching on the inner sides of the canal done less than a year ago had already started crumbling at the site whereas the similar work done on this very canal more than 100 years ago was intact. The very expensive toe-walls built with stone mansonary under side pitching had not been taken to desired depth and had already collapsed at many places. The extent of the scam could be judged from the fact that a painting on a gate, which should have costed at the most Rs 7,000 had been shown to cost Rs 76,000. A small Nanu Nagal distributary head, which was already receiving its allocated discharge from the existing system, had been unnecessarily shown to had been remodelled at a cost of Rs 2.12 crore, where the structure was not worth more than Rs 15 lakh to Rs 20 lakh.

The preliminary inquiry committee has concluded that the entire expenditure of Rs 112 crore on these works at the remodelling project has gone down the drain.


Kamaljit’s sister records statement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 3
Ms Manjit Kaur, sister of Kamaljit, the alleged husband of former SGPC president Jagir Kaur’s daughter Harpreet who was allegedly murdered, today gave her statement in a local court claiming that her brother had developed a “relationship” with Harpreet and they were married during a ceremony held at a Chandigarh hotel.

Manjit, while giving her statement in the court of Additional Session Judge S.P. Bangar, said Harpreet had been coming regularly to her house in Begowal village since her school days because one of her younger brothers was in the same class with her.

She said afterwards Harpreet became friendly with Kamaljit and they developed “relations”. She said she came to know about this from a STD booth owner at Begowal.

Manjit said when she asked Harpreet about it, she said she wanted to marry Kamaljit.

The girl disclosed that a marriage ceremony between Kamaljit and Harpreet was organised at the Oasis hotel in Chandigarh. She said the traditional “chura” ceremony and “sindoor” ceremony was organised on the occasion.

She said after this she remained in contact with Harpreet who kept phoning her till March 18, 2000. She said on one occasion Harpreet told her that she had told her mother that she wanted to marry Kamaljit. The statement remained incomplete and will to be recorded on January 29 and 30.


Punish Prof Manjit: Mann
Gives clean chit to Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 3
SAD (A) today sought a high-level probe into the serious charges levelled by the Khalsa Panchayat against Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar Sri Takht Kesgarh Sahib.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President SAD (A), alleged here today that Prof Manjit Singh had violated the ‘maryada’ (Sikh tradition). He alleged that the Jathedar had denigrated the institution of ‘ardas’, which he had performed as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht on May 1, 1994, at the time of the formulation of the Amritsar Declaration.

The ardas was performed when Prof Manjit Singh had forged unity among various warring Akali factions. However, Capt Amarinder Singh (who was an Akali at that time), Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra had backed out. Despite violation of ardas Prof Manjit Singh had failed to take action against the Akali leaders.

It is pertinent to mention here that the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat had served an ultimatum on the SGPC to remove Jathedar Vedanti and Prof Manjit Singh by January 15 or face protest dharnas. Though a three-member inquiry committee was constituted against Prof Manjit Singh and Giani Kewal Singh the then Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib in the year 1999, yet it had not held a single meeting so far.

Mr Mann, however, gave a clean chit to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti Akal Takht Jathedar. Coming to his rescue, Mr Mann said Jathedar Vedanti had been performing his duty as jathedar very well as he had taken up the issue of ‘separate Sikh identity’ with Mr Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister. He said Sikh leadership should desist from making statements against Jathedar Vedanti. He warned that the SAD (A) would not tolerate any malicious propaganda against the jatehdar.

In a significant development, Mr Mann held a meeting with Baba Thakur Singh, acting Jathedar of Takht Damdami Taksal (Bhinderan) and tried to sort out the misgivings created by some ‘vested interests’. Without naming Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht and President of the SAD (Panthic), Mr Mann alleged that certain leaders wanted to create a wedge between the Damdami Taksal and him.

Mr Mann alleged that the state government had violated the directives of the National Commission for Minorities by allowing the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS) to hold its congregation near Mahalpur.


EPF scam: police seeks addresses of engineers
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 3
The local police today wrote a letter to the General Manager (GM), Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP), to supply the house addresses of 19 engineers of the plant to it in connection with the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scam which took place from 1997 to 1999. These engineers had not reportedly turned up on Saturday at the anti-fraud office in the police lines complex here to record their statements before the police.

The Ropar Thermal Plant authorities have provided two lists of 141 engineers and other officers to the local police so far who had reportedly executed the work orders during the scam period at the plant and verified the bills of the labour contractors. It is alleged that an embezzlement of about Rs 1 crore had been committed in the EPF of the labourers engaged by the labour contractors during the 30 months period.

The police has also collected almost entire record from the thermal authorities related to the EPF scam and is now examining the same. Mr Varinderpal Singh, SP (Headquarters), Ropar, who is investigating the case, today said prima-facie it seemed that some of the engineers and other officers had verified the bills of the labour contractors with “mala fied intention” as they had ignored a clause of the contract agreement before verifying the bills of the labour contractors.

He said the 19 engineers had not joined the police investigation which had compelled the police to seek their addresses from the thermal plant authorities. He also said the joining of these engineers in the investigations was necessary to go ahead in this case.

Mr Gurmeet Singh, in charge, Anti-Fraud Cell of the police, said these engineers had not joined the investigations on Saturday. The police had also written a letter once again to the thermal plant authorities asking the engineers to join the investigations so that the police could record their statements.


Engineers hold rally
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 3
Engineers of the Ropar Thermal Plant held a protest rally at the thermal plant here today against the PSEB management for its “anti-engineer” actions.

A spokesman of the engineers said the engineers expressed shock and dismay over the transfer of Padamjit Singh, Chief Engineer, System Operations, PSEB, Patiala, under pressure from a private company. This move had sent a wrong signal and demoralisation had set in among the engineers in the PSEB, he added.

He said the engineers also expressed concern over the initiating of a Vigilance inquiry against Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of the PSEB Engineers Association, on a ‘frivolous’ complaint.


NCM: allow jatha to Afghanistan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 3
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) today asked the Foreign Minister to allow the SGPC to send a delegation to Afghanistan to carry out kar seva of historical Sikh shrines which were totally destroyed in US attacks against the Taliban.

In a demi-official letter to Mr Yashwant Sinha, Foreign Minister, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman of the NMC, said that there were many historical gurdwaras built in memory of Guru Nanak Dev who had visited Afghanistan more than 500 years ago.

The NMC has written to the Foreign Minister on the basis of the report about the dilapidated conditions of gurdwaras in Afghanistan, published in The Tribune. Later SGPC executive, too, had passed a resolution to carry out immediate repairs of the Sikh shrines.

Mr Tarlochan Singh also sought the help of the Indian Embassy to carry out the reconstruction work.


13 called for probe into hospital affairs
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, December 3
Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Harbhupinder Singh Nanda has summoned at least 13 persons, including the District Vaccination Officer, Dr Amrik Singh, for the reported case of sodomy and death of four mentally challenged patients in a month at the government-run Vidhyasagar Mental Hospital here.

The ADC has been asked by the Deputy Commissioner to hold an inquiry into cases as directed by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC).

The ADC had earlier called Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, who had complained to the PSHRC.

Mr Nanda has called Dr Amrik Singh tomorrow. The other persons summoned are Mr Harcharan Singh, Mr Gopal Singh, Mr Yash Pal Sharma, Mr Kirpal Singh, all contractors, Mr Kamal Kanoujia, Mr Balwant Rai, Mr Sudarshan Kumar, Mr Harinder Singh, Mr Yaadwinder Singh Randhawa and Mr Dawinder Singh, all union leaders of the hospital. The ADC has also summoned Mr Amrit Lal Jain, a clerk, and Mr Vijay Kumar, a Senior Medical Officer at the hospital who has been suspended.

These persons have been summoned for serving poor quality vegetables to the hospital inmates. One Keso Ram, warden of the hospital, allegedly sodomised a mentally challenged boy, Vinod Kumar. The Health Department confirmed the charges against Keso Ram in its inquiry conducted by the then Civil Surgeon.

The ADC will also inquire into the death of four mentally challenged patients, including a woman, who died in the month of June, allegedly due to consumption of substandard food.


Revised observation therapy for TB patients
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 3
The district has started revised observation therapy for Tuberculosis patients with the view to ensuring easy availability of TB medicine doses to them.

Addressing a press conference here to give information about the activities of the Health department, Civil Surgeon Inderjit Kaur Walia said microscopic centres had been opened under the programme in Samana, Rajpura and Nabha. She said, besides this, doctors had been given training at the grassroot level to refer patients with chronic cough for TB tests. She said after conduct of the test grading was done and treatment started accordingly.

Dr Walia said patients were also benefitting from the revised scheme as now three boxes were allocated in advance for each patient who had to come to the dispensary concerned only thrice a week and not every day as earlier. She said as the entire medicine for the patient was allocated in advance there was no disruption in the treatment of the patient. She said a system had also been evolved to ensure that the treatment was not disrupted by contacting patients who did not turn up to get their medicine.

The Civil Surgeon also disclosed that there had been a slight increase in leprosy cases in the district as well as the state. She said earlier there was an incidence of only 20 to 22 per cent of leprosy in native Punjabis and that most cases were that of migrant labourers from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. She said skin specialists had now been deputed at the Civil Hospital as well as dispensaries to deal with the disease.

Dr Walia said a programe was also being started in slum areas and at brick kilns to identify leprosy patients who would then be given treatment. She said under the programme in case the patients left the state, information about their treatment would be sent to the Health Department of their respective state.

She also disclosed that three cases had been registered under the PNDT Act against ultrasound centres who were not following the provisions of the Act.


Gurum’s pre-arrest bail plea dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
Punjab Technical University’s former Vice-Chancellor Hardev Singh Gurum’s petition seeking the grant of anticipatory bail in a cheating and corruption case was today dismissed by Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Gurum was apprehending arrest in a case registered by Jalandhar’s Vigilance Bureau on October 18 under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the prosecution, Gurum, along with then Director of Technical Education Amarjit Singh Grewal and former minister, Jagdish Singh Garcha, had caused a loss of about Rs 11 crore to the state exchequer.

The prosecution had added that the three were allegedly involved in the appointment of 95 persons in the university without advertising the posts and arranging for the tests. Those appointed included 34 from Garcha’s constituency. It was further alleged that the petitioner and the co-accused gave contracts to firms quoting the maximum rates after ignoring the ones quoting the minimum.

After going through the documents and hearing arguments in the case, Ms Justice Lall ruled that the allegations were serious in nature and the police was likely to require him for custodial interrogation for finding out the necessary details.

Benefit of doubt

Suspicion, howsoever strong it may be, cannot take place of proof — a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court ruled on Tuesday while allowing a petition filed by a Ferozepore district resident accused of murdering a professor.

Pronouncing the orders, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice R.L. Anand and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, further ruled: “The yawning gap has to be bridged by the prosecution after leading cogent, reliable and satisfactory evidence”.

Referring to the appeal filed by Deepak sentenced to life imprisonment, the Judges observed: “There is a yawning gap in this case between suspicion and proof.... Giving benefit of doubt to the appellant, we set aside the judgement and the order of the trial court and acquit him of the charges framed against him”.


Tame politicians: scholars
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 3
Sant Baba Attar Singh Khalsa College, Sandaur, about 30 km, from here, hosted a University Grants Commission UGC-sponsored national seminar on “Code of conduct for politicians” today in which more than 100 scholars and academicians from Panjab University, Guru Nanak Dev University and Punjabi University participated.

Dr K.S. Sidhu, Registrar, Punjabi University, Patiala, was the chief guest. Dr Sidhu, in his presidential remarks, said India had the potential to excel in various walks of life, but unfortunately this potential had not been properly channelised, which had resulted in chaos and multifarious problems.

Dr Prithipal Singh Sohi, a teacher at Government College, Ludhiana, was the chief speaker, Prof P.C. Sharma, Principal of the host college, welcomed the distinguished guests and scholars, highlighting the objectives of this seminar, dwelling on the thrust of generating public opinion on the issue.

Principal Tarsem Bahia said democracy would lose meaning if the viewpoint of Dr Sohi, of determining qualifications for representatives of the people, whether MLAs or MPs, was carried out.

Prof S.S. Hundal, President, PCCTU, as well as Fellow, Panjab University, Prof Jaipal Singh, president Punjab Government College Teachers Union, Prof S.S. Chatha, Principal, Lyallpur Khalsa College, Jalandhar, Prof Jagwant Singh, Prof Santokh Singh, Prof R.S. Brar, former general secretary, PCCTU, Mr Babu Singh, general secretary, Khalsa College, Sandaur, Managing Committee, Dr Sanjeev Kalia, Principal, Desh Bhagat College, Bardwal (Dhuri), and Dr Tejwant Mann, also spoke.


Plea to summon CM at Takht
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 3
At a joint meeting here today, the Khalsa Mission Committee (KMC) and the Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) had decided to perform ardas on December 10 at Akal Takht for the release of Sikh youths who have been languishing in various jails of the country without trial.

Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman of the PHRO, and Mr Balwinder Singh Jhabal of the KMC, alleged that during his regime Mr Parkash Singh Badal had failed to get the youths released. They urged Akal Takht Jathedar to excommunicate Mr K.P.S. Gill, a former DGP who was behind several “fake encounters”. They also urged the Jathedar to summon Capt Amarinder Singh for allegedly sending the police in the SGPC complex. They alleged that Mr Badal had backed out from the Anandpur Sahib Resolution and violated maryada on several occasions.


Ghee supply to gurdwaras to continue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
Apropos of the news item published in a section of the Press today, a spokesman of the Punjab Milkfed has clarified that there is no question of stopping the supply of “desi” ghee to the Golden Temple or any Gurdwara in Punjab.

He clarified that as per practice prevalent during the past many years, the SGPC invites tenders for the supply of ‘desi’ ghee in the month of March every year. The Punjab Milkfed was awarded the contract for the supply of 300 tonnes of ‘desi’ ghee from April 1, 2002, to March 31, 2003. Milkfed had already made supplies of 328 tonnes against this contract. There was no intention to stop the supply of ‘desi’ ghee to any Gurdwara in Punjab.

The press note is signed by Milkfed Managing Director Brij M. Mahajan.


Steps to improve transport services
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 3
Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Verma has informed that a number of measures have been taken by the district administration to strengthen transport services in the district in pursuance of the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

He said 19 new routes had been identified by the district transport authorities. It had been communicated to the Regional Transport Authority, Jalandhar, for issuing necessary permits.

He said permits had been issued for 30 auto rickshaws and three maxi cabs in the district in the past seven months.

Mr Verma informed that too parking places for auto-rickshaws, maxi cabs and taxis had been identified at Phagwara. Similarly, one parking place had been identified at Bhullath, Begowal and Sultanpur Lodi. He said parking places would soon be earmarked in Kapurthala city. He said the Municipal Council, Phagwara, had been directed to construct a slip road in front of the bus stand terminus to avoid congestion on the GT Road. The Committee had started work on the road.


Entry of heavy vehicles banned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 3
After the gruesome incident in which five persons of a marriage party were run over by a truck loaded with concrete on Sunday, the District Magistrate, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, today banned the entry of heavy vehicles in the district.

Heavy vehicles, except those carrying milk or oil, will not enter the municipal limits of the district from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They could only enter the transport nagar. They will now ply between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. The order will remain in force till January 26.


Rally by thermal plant engineers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 3
Engineers of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant and west zone Operations of the PSEB today staged a rally near the thermal plant here in protest against the alleged victimisation of the office-bearers of their association.

They alleged that the initiation of a vigilance inquiry against Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of the PSEB Engineers’ Association, was being done with a motive to demoralise the engineers so that they do not demand their rights. They said the patron of the association, Mr Padamjeet Singh, was also being unduly harassed by the authorities.

Mr V.K. Sharma, regional secretary of the association, said by victimising the office-bearers of the association the PSEB authorities were pursuing a hidden agenda to help the unscrupulous elements against the interests of the board.


Toll on Ghanauli bridge mooted
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 3
The government has proposed levying toll tax on the Ghanauli bridge, which is nearing completion. Commuters on the Nangal-Chandigarh road have been awaiting the completion of the bridge, which will enable them to avoid two railway crossings on the way.

Sources said after the completion of the bridge by December-end, the government was willing closure of the old road along the Nangal canal to force commuters to pass over the newly constructed bridge and pay toll tax.

The Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, when contacted, admitted that toll tax was being proposed on the bridge and it would be inaugurated after the toll tax barrier was built.

The amount of toll tax is yet to be decided. The closure of the alternative road may be tedious for the government as it is the only approach to the historical Parivar Vichora Sahib Gurdwara.


Disband PHSC, demand docs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
The PCMS Association today demanded a high-level inquiry into the alleged mis-appropriation of funds to establish the Punjab Health System Corporation (PHSC). It demanded disbanding of the corporation, adding that the remaining World Bank loan should be utilised through the Directorate of Health Services.


Disband PSERC, says BKU (E)
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 3
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) organised a state-level conference today where farmers passed resolutions, demanding remission of bank loans, dissolution of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC), free water and power supply and reduction in power tariff.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugraha, president of the state unit of the BKU (E) said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was the enemy of debt-ridden farmers and was using repressive methods for the recovery of loans.

To save the farmers, he said the loans should be written off and loans should be granted at the rate of 4 per cent per annum. No commission agent should charge more than 8 per cent interest per annum, he said.

Mr Malook Singh Hirke, senior vice-president of the state unit of the union, said the Congress government had failed to honour its election promises.

They decided to burn the effigies of the state and Central governments and the WTO at all district headquarters of the state on December 23.


Dharna by cane growers
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, December 3
On a call given by six farmers’ organisations, more than 200 sugarcane growers of the area today staged a dharna and took out a rally in front of the main gate of the local Bhagwanpura Sugar Mills, in protest against the non-payment of arrears to the farmers by the mill management and its delay in starting the current crushing season.

The speakers charged the mill management with delaying the start of the crushing to force the cane growers to sell sugarcane at a rate lower than the price fixed by the government. Mr Amrik Singh Kanjhla, state member of the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Punjab, said if their demands were not met, representatives of the farmers’ organisations and cane growers of the area would meet on December 6 to decide the future course of action.


Punjab police website launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 3
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today exhorted the Punjab police to equip itself with the latest information technology and armaments to combat any eventuality due to cross-border terrorism, especially at the behest of hostile Pakistan.

He was addressing the top police brass after dedicating Punjab Police website ( to the people of the state.

The Chief Minister asked DGP M.S. Bhullar to link all districts and subdivisions with the state police headquarters through Internet in a phased manner.

Mr K.K. Attri, Additional DGP, Crime, said this website had recorded almost 63,000 hits and was being accessed by 54 countries around the globe and had been bestowed with the prestigious “Golden Web Award” for design contents, coverage presentation and originality by the “International Association of Webmasters and Designers” for the year 2002-03.

Capt Amarinder Singh recommended promotion both to head constable Rajesh Thakur and constable Surya Kumar attached to the ADGP, Crime, for their outstanding contribution in conceptualisation and designing of the website.


Row over absorption of paramilitary officers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 3
A controversy involving police officers and seven officers of the paramilitary forces has arisen over the issue of the absorption of the latter in the Punjab police. The office of the Chief Minister reportedly made the absorption possible.

The Punjab Police Services Officers Association is protesting against the move of the state government allegedly at the behest of some Congress leaders who are “close” to the officers concerned. The association said the absorption would affect the seniority of several police officers.

The issue of these seven officers has been a bone of contention between them and the Punjab police cadre officers since the terrorism days. The officers had come on a short deputation but due to their “closeness” to some politicians their deputation was extended.

Some years ago, a move was floated to absorb them in the Punjab police by giving due benefit of seniority and experience. However, the move was thwarted by the police officers.

The Congress government has now made a fresh proposal in this regard. Some of the officers were in Chief Minister’s security. The proposal has been sent to the Union Home Department by the state government, sources claimed.

The association has submitted a memorandum to the Chief Minister and the DGP.

Association general secretary Harmanbir Singh Gill said a delegation would meet the Chief Minister in this regard on December 10.


Woman arrested for committing fraud
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, December 3
Mrs Karamjit Kaur, wife of Mr Charanjit Singh, naib-tehsildar and former personal assistant of the local MLA, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday in connection with a case registered against her for allegedly committing fraud and indulging in corrupt practices for securing a government job.

Mrs Karamjit Kaur, who was presented before the Judicial Magistrate today, was remanded in judicial custody though the Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, requested for a five-day police remand.

Mr Charanjit Singh has already been booked under Section 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B, IPC, and Section 13 (I) D of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, said Mrs Karamjit Kaur had got the job of an ETT on the basis of fake educational certificates. He said the Vigilance Bureau would file an appeal in the court of the Sessions Judge against the denial of police remand.

As per information by the Vigilance Bureau, Mrs Karamjit Kaur was shown to have passed the examination from Bihar Intermediate Educational Council, Patna. On the basis of this fake certificate, she got degrees of BA and B.Ed from Maghad University, Bihar.

She wanted to surrender before the Judicial Magistrate as an arrest warrant against her for December 5 had been issued. She had also applied for anticipatory bail before the court of the Special Judge, Muktsar, and in the Punjab and Haryana High Court which was not granted to her.


5 of marriage party killed
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 3
Five members of a marriage party were killed when the jeep carrying them collided with a road-roller yesterday.

According to family sources, some residents of Arya Nagar had gone to Gharsana to attend a marriage. On their way back, their jeep collided with a road-roller near Rai Singh Nagar in Sriganganagar district. The bridegroom’s father Kishan Lal, Sudhir Sharma, Sanjay Kumar and Madan Lal died on the spot. Sant Lal, driver of the jeep, succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

In another incident, 14 occupants of a jeep were injured, two of them seriously, when their vehicle collided with a tractor near Balluana village on the Abohar-Malout road yesterday.


Two killed in mishaps
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 3
Two persons were killed in separate accidents in the district while another died at the local railway station since last night.

A cyclist was hit by a fast-moving vehicle near Seengo village, about 45 km from here, today. The cyclist died on the spot. The deceased has been identified as Bali (25) of Natheha village.

Another person was killed when the tractor-trolley he was sitting on was hit by a truck on the Bathinda-Dabwali road, about 25 km from here, last night. The trolley was carrying cotton sticks. The deceased has been identified as Mahinder Singh. The police has registered a case under Section 304-A of the IPC.

In another incident, a sadhu died on the local railway station today. The destitute sadhu had been ill. A postmortem examination was conducted after registering a case.


Young lovers commit suicide

Jalandhar, December 3
Two young lovers committed suicide after consuming a poisonous substance in Dhure village under the Adampur police station last night.

A police report here today identified the victims as Joseph Ali, 22, and Baljit Kaur,20, of Noorpur village. The girl was staying in the house of her maternal uncle in Dhure village.

According to the police, two victims consumed poison on the banks of the canal outside their village. According to the police, the decision to end their lives was taken following the alleged refusal of their parents to allow them to tie the nuptial knot.

The police, after a post mortem examination handed over the bodies of the victims to their respective parents. UNI


Couple dies of burns
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 3
A dispute over dowry ended in the death of a couple due to burns. Parveen Kumari (24) was married to Vishwajeet of Dhobra village near here, about three years ago. Parveen in her statement to the police had alleged that her in-laws poured kerosene on her, threw a lighted match stick on her and bolted her in a room. She died at the Civil Hospital here yesterday. Vishwajeet was also brought to the hospital with burns on November 30. He died today.


3 booked for abduction
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 3
The district police has booked three persons Ashwani Kumar of Katra Ahluwalia, Nand Lal of Gheo Mandi and Rishi Kumar for allegedly kidnapping a 15-year-old boy Gautam here today. In his complaint, Balkishan, a resident of Chowk Pasia, has alleged that the accused had abducted his son to kill him, when he had gone to the bazar for getting sugar. A case under Section 364, 34 of the IPC has been registered at the Kotwali police station here.

Meanwhile, Kala Masib was crushed to death when a speeding van (PB-08R-6688) collided with his scooter near Thoba village in Majitha police district. The car was allegedly being driven by Rinku of Qadian. A case has been registered.


Held for stealing coal from rail wagons
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 3
The local police arrested the driver of a tractor-trailer who was allegedly carrying coal stolen from rail wagons, in his vehicle during the intervening night of December 2 and December 3. The coal in the wagons is supplied to the Ropar Thermal Plant and factories at Nangal.

On a tip off, a police party led by Mr Balwant Singh Majitha, SHO of the city police station, laid a trap near the local railway station to nab the thieves. Around midnight, the police party noticed a tractor-trailer carrying coal near the Sadabrat area.

The local police said here today it had arrested Joga Singh, driver of the tractor-trailer, while others, including Finno, an old woman, and Balwant Singh, owner of the vehicle, who also ran a brick-kiln, were at large.

The police said Finno was the main accused in the case. She was involved in unloading coal from rail wagons and supplying the same to brick-kiln owners.

The police has registered a case under Sections 379 and 411 of the IPC. The involvement of railway officials is not ruled out.


Founder’s Day celebrated
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 3
Saffron City School, Fatehgarh Sahib, today celebrated its third Founder’s Day by organising a cultural programme. The entire function was managed by students.

An English play ‘The Simple Simon’, dances, skits, fancy dress by tiny tots, bhangra and speeches made by students from Class 1 to Class X were the highlights of the function, which were appreciated by the audience. The chairperson of the school welcomed the chief guest and other guests.

Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, was the chief guest. In his address he lauded the performance of the school as well as of the students in the field of cultural activities, education and sports.

He appreciated the management for providing qualitative, moral and value-based education to the students.

He gave away prizes among students. Manpreet Singh Ghuman was given the best athlete award and the best teacher award was given to Ms Anu Sharma. Mr S.S. Kahlon, Director of the school, and Ms A. Sakarsudha, Principal, also addressed the gathering.

Dr D.R. Vij, Mr Gurcharn Singh Bhangu, a mountaineer, Mr Jagdish Rai, a former Principal, Mr R.N.Sharma, president, Citizen’s Welfare Council, and Rotary members were present, among others.


GND varsity wins trophy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 3
Guru Nanak Dev University won the overall championship trophy of the North Zone Inter-University Youth Festival which concluded at Allahabad University, Allahabad, last evening, by winning four trophies out of five.

The festival was sponsored by the Association of Indian Universities and the Department of Youth Affairs and Sports, Government of India. Mr Baljit Singh Sekhon, Director, Youth Welfare, said the university won the trophies in the music, literary, theatre and fine arts categories.

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