Friday, December 6, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Loan recovery falls in Punjab
Malwa belt farmers the worst hit
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Drought appears to have virtually broken the back of farmers in Punjab. An evidence to this effect is now available from the trend of recovery of loans, advanced by the cooperative sector, to the agricultural sector. In the state the recovery of such loans has gone down to 66 per cent. Punjab has been known for 90 per cent recovery of such loans in the country.

This situation prevails on the loan recovery front in spite of the fact that this time a record production of paddy has been reported in Punjab. Cooperative officials say farmers had spent additional amount by borrowing from commission agents and other moneylenders to save their crops. While moneylenders and commission agents recovered the amount instantly after the farmers disposed of their paddy crop, there was no surplus money left to return bank loans.

Loan recovery has been hit the most in Malwa districts such as Bathinda, Mansa, Ferozepore, Moga, Faridkot, Muktsar and border districts of Gurdaspur and Amritsar. It may be mentioned that the maximum number of farmer suicides have been reported in the past from the Malwa belt.

Informed official sources say there is about 1500 crore due against farmers which was to have been recovered by June 30 this year. However, farmers are not in the capacity to return the loans.

Besides, drought this year, the other reason appears to be repeated failure of cotton crop in that belt. In the border areas, according to cooperative department officials, the ever-hanging clouds of war have affected the farmers the most. In the past three years, because of repeated threats of war, farmers migrated from their villages a number of times. Moreover, landmines and other restrictions were also imposed on farmers because of the prevailing situation in the border belt. All this has affected the financial position of the farming community.

There is also confusion with regard to the postponing the recovery of the cooperative loans. There are no instructions from the government in writing yet. In fact, recovery of loans can only be postponed if damage caused by the drought is over 50 per cent. However, no official intimation in this connection has been passed on to the Cooperative Department by the government authorities concerned.

The confusion has been further compounded by a statement made by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee a few days ago. He had announced postponement of the recovery of all agricultural loans in the country till the next year. However, no official order has been circulated to the cooperative sector banks in this connection yet.

Officials linked with the recovery of loans say even the drought relief worth Rs 350 crore released by the Union Government from the Calamity Relief Fund has not been distributed in Punjab.

While the farmers are awaiting the orders with regard to the postponement of loan recovery, cooperative officials, in the absence of any such instructions, are duty-bound to continue their loan recovery drive.


Congress sweeps Nagar Council election
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 5
The ruling Congress made a clean sweep in the council poll here this afternoon by bagging all three posts of the President, the senior Vice-President and the Vice-President of the Nagar Council, Phagwara, even as the Opposition alleged that the ruling party had cheated it by backing out from an agreement. They raised slogans against the party and its MLA Mr Joginder Singh Mann outside the venue of the election.

The local SDM-cum-Administrator of the Council, Mr Pritam Singh, who acted as the Election Officer, told mediapersons that Mr Malkiat Singh Raghbotra of the Congress was unanimously elected President of the nagar council. All 28 members, including the Opposition supported Mr Raghbotra.

Ms Hardip Anand, an Independent supported by the Congress, who polled 10 votes was elected the senior Vice-President. Ms Sita Rani was elected Vice-President. Since both Ms Sita Rani of the Congress and Mr Iqbal Singh Kundi of the SAD polled nine votes each, the issue was decided by a draw of lots taken out by the DSP Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill. She was declared elected after she proved lucky in the draw of lots.

The SDM claimed that the process was completed peacefully and that the proceeding register was signed by all councillors of the Congress, the SAD, the BJP, the BSP and the Independents. The Election Officer acted as a nominee of the DC Kapurthala administered an oath to all the councillors before the election.

However, the Opposition raised noisy slogans after coming out of the election venue. Their ire was directed against MLA Joginder Singh Mann. Led by the SAD stalwart, Mr Jarnail Singh Wahad, the Opposition, including the BJP members and their councillors did orchestrated sloganeering against the Congress and even showed shoes to the passing victory cavalcade headed by Mr Mann. The police had to virtually escort and whisk away Mr Mann to save the situation from taking an ugly turn. Mr Wahad and others alleged that the Congress, particularly MLA Mann, had backed out of the agreement reached before the election that all three offices will be decided unanimously and that one of the offices of the Vice-President would go to the Akalis.

However, the Opposition was taken for a ride because the ruling party got its support for the two offices of the President and the senior Vice-President but ditched it when it came to their candidate Iqbal Singh Kundi for the post of Vice-President, Mr Wahad alleged further. The SAD-BJP combine declared that they would not cooperate with the ruling party in the functioning of the council and that it would oppose it at every step. But Mr Mann denied all these allegations.

Later, the Opposition stayed away from the victory procession of the President whom it had earlier supported. The Congress was in upbeat mood as it could sink its differences within the party and elect its candidates to all the three offices.

Meanwhile, Ms Hardip Anand, the first woman in the history of the local municipality to be elected to the post of the senior Vice-President of the Nagar Council said that women uplift will be her top priority. Ms Anand, who was earlier elected unopposed from Ward No. 7 said that she would also focus on the development of the ward and the city.


SAD-BJP men block traffic

IRATE activists of the Opposition parties, including the SAD-BJP combine, blocked vehicular traffic for over half-an-hour on the GT road at the Phagwara-Banga crossing this evening in protest against the ruling Congress party’s stance of ditching the Opposition by backing out of the agreement. The protesters claimed that some Congressmen had also joined the blockade to express their solidarity with them. They claimed that Congress councillor joined them in the protest against his own party.


Garcha’s judicial remand extended
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 5
A city court today extended the judicial remand of former Technical Education Minister Jagdish Singh Garcha and two other accused till December 19 in the multi-crore PTU scam case. Mr Garcha along with the Director (Outreach) of Punjab Technical University (PTU), Mr A. S. Grewal and Mr J. S. Dhaliwal, who had been arrested by the Vigilance Bureau for causing a loss of about Rs 11 crore to the university and allegedly appointing 95 ad hoc employees in violation of the prescribed norms about two months ago, were produced in a city court.

The Magistrate extended the judicial custody of all three accused till December 19. The District and Sessions Judge Mr R.M. Gupta, had already rejected the application of Mr Garcha seeking bail. Later, talking to reporters, Mr Garcha alleged that he was not being served hygienic food at the local Central Jail even after he had submitted formal complaints in this regard to the authorities concerned.

He alleged that the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, was using the Vigilance Bureau as a tool to implicate Akali leaders to settle political scores.

“Why is he not registering cases against four Congress ministers of the Beant Singh government, who had been indicted by the Punjab Lokpal? Besides, no action has been taken against two Congress ministers who had managed to get Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) degrees from Jammu and Kashmir by providing wrong information,” he alleged.


SGPC moves HC on panel members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
In an application filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee on Thursday sought directions for restraining Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission members from functioning.

The Committee added that the notification dated July 5, whereby another notification dated January 12, 1999, was rescinded for restoring the earlier Judicial Commission, was liable to be stayed. The application will now come up for hearing on December 16 before a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Viney Mittal.

Giving details, counsel for SGPC had added that the stay orders were liable to be passed in view of the judgement pronounced by the Special Bench on September 13 holding that the term of a Judicial member was co-tenuous or co-terminus with that of the Committee. Counsel added that the Commission, constituted by the notification January 12, 1991, was liable to continue with the same members as long as fresh elections to the SGPC were not held and the new Board was not duly constituted by a notification issued by the government.


Additional PPCC list released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The PPCC today announced an additional list of office-bearers on the intervention of the party high command. Earlier, a list of 45 office-bearers was announced last week.

The new office-bearers are Mr M.M. Singh Cheema, (vice-president), Mr Parminder Singh (General Secretary). In addition, Ms Amarjit Kaur, a former MP, Mr Kirpal Singh Dhillon, Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu and Mr Rajinder Singh Raja have been nominated as members of the executive committee.

A controversy has broken out last week following the release of 45 office-bearers by PPCC chief Hanspal here. It has been alleged that Mr Hanspal changed the list deleting at least three names. Among the names deleted were those of Mr Parminder Singh, who has now been appointed general secretary and of Mr Sukhi from Mansa district.

In fact, the party high command had approved a list of 48 office-bearers for the PPCC last week. When Mr Hanspal reached here from Delhi with the list, he, according to informed sources, got it retyped deleting three names. It led to a controversy and those whose names were deleted immediately approached the high command to make a complaint.

Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, a senior leader of the party, who is in charge of the party affairs in Punjab, expressing her unhappiness over the changes made in the original list approved by the high command, had called PPCC President Hanspal to Delhi. After talking to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, Mrs Kidwai directed Mr Hanspal to accommodate Mr Parminder Singh and Mr Cheema.

In fact, even Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar had complained to the high command for ignoring his supporters while finalising the list of office-bearers.

The PPCC has now accommodated Mr Kulbir Singh Sidhu, a staunch supporter of Mr Brar, in the executive committee. More additions are expected in the existing list of office-bearers as lobbying has been going on at the party high command level.


BJP to contest MC poll with SAD
Tribune News service

Chandigarh, December 5
At an emergency meeting held here today the BJP discussed the issue of elections of municipal committees and nagar panchayats and decided to contest them jointly with SAD. The meeting was held under the chairmanship of Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president of the Punjab unit of the BJP.

Mr Raj Bhatia, office secretary of the BJP, said in the coming municipal elections the BJP would leave those wards for SAD where it (SAD) had put up its candidate in the last municipal elections.

The elections are scheduled to be held in the third week of next month and a notification in this connection has already been issued.

The party has decided to hold meetings on December 7 and 8 at the district headquarters to discuss the strategy for elections at the local level. Those interested to contest will be asked to submit their applications by December 15 along with certain fee, Rs 500 for general category candidates and Rs 250 for those belonging to the reserved categories.

The party has requested the Central Government to ensure that elections are held in Punjab without any police interference.


Mann criticises Atal, Putin
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 5
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has condemned the statement of Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani calling Pakistan to fight a fourth direct war with India instead of engaging in proxy war.

In a press statement issued yesterday, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Akali Dal (A), said his party had also taken a serious notice of the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee’s statement that more temples would be attacked by militants.

He further said his party was also concerned at the Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of terrorists.

Mr Mann said Mr Advani, Mr Vajpayee and Mr Putin by issuing such statements were building up a war hysteria in South Asia to promote a victory for the BJP in the ensuing Gujarat elections.

He said his party stood for a nuclear-free South Asia divested of biological and chemical weapons.


Youth Cong men hold rally
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
In protest against the growing menace of terrorism, killing of innocent pilgrims and attacks on temples in Jammu and Kashmir, the Punjab Pradesh Youth Congress organised a protest rally here today. The rally, headed by Mr Narinder Kumar Tinu, secretary of the party unit, started from the Congress Bhavan and concluded at Jallianwala Bagh here.


PAC meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
The SAD (Badal) has convened a meeting of the party’s Political Affairs Committee at Bhai Gurdas Hall, Amritsar, for December 10, according to a press note.


Dairy owners stone MC staff, 7 hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
Seven persons, including the Medical Health Officer of the local municipal corporation and the gunman of the Additional Commissioner of the corporation, were injured when the families of two dairy owners pelted workers of the corporation with stones here today.

The corporation today cleared the two big dairies from the Gawal Mandi, Putlighar area in its operation of clearing dairies in the city’s vicinity, which were ordered to be shifted by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The corporation also demolished encroachments in the Hall Gate and Lawrence area here.

In the five-hour-long operation the municipal corporation impounded 38 head of cattle from the two dairies and registered a complaint against the families at Islamabad police station for pelting corporation workers with stones.

Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner of the corporation, while talking to this correspondent said the families started throwing stones on the workers when they went there to clear the dairies. The members of the families managed to escape. A case under Section 307 of the IPC was registered against the families, he added.

The injured persons include Dr Subhash, Medical Health Officer, constable Ranjit Singh, gunman of the Additional Commissioner, Mr Vijay Kumar, Mr Sanjeev Kumar, Mr Rattan Chand, Mr Sham Lal and Mr Maninder Pal, all employees of the corporation.

Mr Manjit, SDM, and Mr Chaman Lal Sharma, DSP, were present during the operation.

Meanwhile, the corporation today removed the platform raised by people illegally at the Hall Gate and Lawrence Road area. The corporation razed the kiosks near Hall Gate and on the Lawrence road. It instructed the shopkeepers not to display their goods on the corporation land.


Class discrimination in BBMB alleged
Our Correspondent

Nangal, December 5
Wards of the Class III and Class IV employees of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) and activists of some local social organisations today held a rally in front of the office of the Chief Engineer (Irrigation), BBMB, alleging discrimination against the employees belonging to these classes and their wards by the officers of the organisation. While addressing the rally, president of the Citizens Welfare Society Paramjit Singh alleged that in the BBMB, all the facilities were reserved for just a handful of officers and more than 10,000 employees were treated as second-grade citizens.

He said all rest houses of the BBMB were reserved exclusively for officers. Other employees had no place to entertain their guests. The Class III and Class IV employees, on official tours were not given proper accommodations. They were given just one or two dingy rooms at each project site of the BBMB to stay, which at the time of the construction of a project were used by drivers.

The officers’ clubs of the BBMB, meant for Class I officers only, had all modern facilities as swimming pool, lawn tennis and badminton grounds, etc. However, the clubs of the employees comprised of just one or two rooms and sans facilities.

The restriction on the entry of the wards of the Class III and Class IV employees in the clubs meant for officers was infringement on their basic human rights. The discrimination created an inferiority complex among the children vis-a-vis the more privileged wards of officers, Mr Paramjit Singh alleged.

Wards of employees of Class III and Class IV threatened to forcibly use the facilities reserved exclusively for officers if similar facilities were not extended to them by the BBMB management. The social organisations, while submitting a memorandum of their demands to the Chief Engineers, threatened to take up the issue of class discrimination in the BBMB with human rights organisations.

The Chief Engineer (Irrigation), BBMB, Mr D.S. Notra, when asked to comment on the alleged class discrimination in BBMB, said the charge was baseless.


Plea to stop promotion on caste basis
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 5
Members of the General Categories Welfare Federation, Punjab, have demanded that no employee should be promoted on caste basis and the reservation system in promotions should be done away with.

Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, district president of the federation, said here today that the reservation system was designed by the father of Indian Constitution, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, to uplift the downtrodden sections of the society and therefore, certain castes were given special privileges for 10 years after India became a Republic.

He said the reservation system was never intended to promote junior, less qualified and less competent employees as was being done now.

Mr Sidhu said if a section of the government employees was to be promoted out of turn and on the basis of their castes, rather than merit, it would lead to chaos in the system as those belonging to the general categories would feel cheated. He said no government employee was "downtrodden" or "underprivileged" and therefore, the benefit of reservations should not be extended to them any more.

He said a case regarding the 85th Constitutional Amendment was still pending in the Supreme Court and the Punjab Government was planning to implement the same, even before the judgement of the case. He said promoting employees on the basis of caste to gain political milage would cost the government dearly.

He said in a meeting of the federation it was condemned that the Punjab Social Welfare Minister, Mr Santokh Singh, was trying to bypass various departments of the state government, including the Personnel Department, to promote the employees belonging to the reserved categories.

He said the activists of the federation would hold "arthi phook mujahre" (demonstrations where the effigies of the minister would be burnt) all over the state.

He said on December 16 the activists of the federation would assemble at Phillaur (the constituency of the minister) and hold a state-level demonstration to press for their demands.


Employees seek release of DA
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
On a call by the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Punjab employees held a protest rally in Sector 17 here today, demanding the release of 3 per cent DA instalment from July 1, 2002 besides implementation of other demands.

Addressing the rally, Mr Nazar Singh, general secretary of the federation, said,‘‘ “The government should immediately release 3 per cent DA instalment, besides payment of 4 per cent DA instalment released with effect from January, 2002. As per the recommendations of the Punjab Fourth Pay Commission, the government should implement 52 per cent DA as dearness pay for all benefits and regularisation of daily-waged and work-charged employees.’’

Mr Paramjit Gandhri, president of the association, said that the government should withdraw budget proposals of a cut in leave encashment and commutation of pension, freezing of DA and LTC and other allowances. The government should, he said, reject the recommendations of the Disinvestment Commission regarding the privatisation of the PRTC and Punjab Roadways and selling of other units through disinvestment and abolition of vacant posts.

The speakers urged the state government to grant promotional scales to all employees after four, nine and 14 years of service, bonus of previous years and increase in fixed medical allowance. They also said that the government should accept the long-pending demands of uniform 15 per cent HRA to all Punjab employees and uniform allowance.


Cheaper technique to treat hernia
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 5
Guru Nanak Mission Hospital, Dhahan Kaleran (Nawanshahr) run by an NRI-sponsored charitable Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, has started Liechtenstein (mesh) repair of Inguinal hernia - Day Care surgery. It is cheaper than routine surgery of hernia. It does not require admission of the patient and drip application.

Dr Dinesh Verma and Dr Jatinder Kumar Bansal, surgeons, said hernia swelling in groins is seen in 10 to 125 men per 1000. Generally treatment of hernia is done by bassini method under spinal anaesthesia and patient has to stay for three to four days in hospital.

But, according to new method, prolene mesh is applied under local anaesthesia and patient is discharged on the same day. Besides being easy for the patient, recurrence of the ailment under this method of surgery is nil.

The surgeons added that more than 50 hernia surgeries with the new technique had been done at the hospital.


School buildings
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Taking up a petition on the conditions of schools and colleges, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday directed the appointment of local commissioners for inspecting buildings in the state of Punjab.

Issuing the directions, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Viney Mittal, also asked the local commissioners to submit their report by January 7. The Judges also fixed January 13 as the next date of hearing in the case.

In their petition, Mansa resident Vijay Kumar Singla and four other petitioners had initially sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to complete the construction of a college building, besides renovating the old structure. Quoting a newspaper report, Mr Kuldeep Singh had submitted on the behalf of the petitioners that the building had been “declared unsafe by the Public Works Department”.

It may be recalled that in a similar matter Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar of the High Court had asked the states of Haryana and Punjab to file status reports regarding the condition of schools in the rural areas. Taking up a public interest litigation regarding the condition of a school in Panipat district, the Judges had asked the respondents to file the report on the conditions of both primary and secondary schools.

Bail plea

Taking up a petition filed by Punjab MLA Ajit Singh Kohar, seeking the grant of bail in a cheating and corruption case, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Thursday issued notice of motion for January 14.

He was earlier booked by the Vigilance Department in a case registered 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, the petitioner, in 1999, had purchased land by way of benami transaction in Faridkot district and had also obtained five tube-well connections in the names of relatives on priority basis. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that the petitioner had been implicated in a false case.


17 admitted to de-addiction centre
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 5
Seventeen drug addicts have been admitted to the deaddiction centre at the local Civil Hospital, most of the them being motivated by various social workers and NGOs of the city.

Mr Vijay Goyal, president of Sahara Jan Seva, an NGO, said most of the destitute children fell prey to drugs and their earnings were spent in buying drugs. Citing an example, he said eight-year-old Chetan, who left his home in Uttar Pradesh about three years ago, had been taking drugs. He earned money by cleaning the floors of shops and spent it on drugs. He had now been admitted to the deaddiction centre by volunteers of the NGO, Mr Goyal said.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner and Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said the medicines for the patients were being provided free of cost by the district Red Cross Society. Mr Verma said drug abuse and addiction were social evils and we should contribute our bit in removing these.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, said round-the-clock medical services were available to meet any emergency.


Workshop on neonatal care held
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, December 5
The local Paediatrics Forum, as part of the “New-born week celebrations” by the Punjab unit of the National Neonatology Forum of India, on the theme of ‘Give a breath, save a life’, to create awareness among doctors, paramedical staff and midwives about the latest techniques to check pre-natal deaths, organised a workshop here today at Doaba Club. Dr P.L. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, inaugurated the workshop and doctors and paramedical staff of the district attended it. 

Dr H.S. Bains, President of the Punjab state unit of National Neonatology Forum, said 67 per cent pre-natal deaths occurred due to obstetrical factors. Pre-natal hypoxia and infections could be prevented by taking care during delivery. Most of the deliveries in rural areas were being conducted by untrained midwives. He stressed the need of training them for conducting safe delivery with reduced hazards to the mother and infant. 

He said that failure of effective breathing at the time of birth (Asphyxia) was the common cause of mental retardation including hypoglycemia and hypothyroidism. Asphyxia is a major cause of infant mortality. Harmful practices like milking the cord towards baby, roasting the placenta while still it is attached to the baby, throwing cold water on the face of infant, squeezing onion juice into infant’s nostrils, beating and forcibly flexing limbs of infant on to abdomen should not be done. Dr Bains gave a demonstration on how to resuscitate a new-born having difficulty in breathing at the time of birth. Dr S.R. Kainth, Dr L.R. Badhan also spoke.


Drive to collect Flag Day funds
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 5
The Deputy Commissioner, Mrs Seema Jain, today launched a campaign for collecting funds in connection with the Armed Forces Flag Day.

The Deputy Commissioner donated Rs 500 while launching the campaign in her office. Children of ex-servicemen pinned a badge on the Deputy Commissioner’s coat. Later, children also visited various offices of the local mini secretariat to pin the badges and collect the fund for the needy ex-servicemen and the widows of the ex-servicemen.

The children also collected fund from the local shops and business establishments. They were accompanied by the ex-servicemen, deputed by the office of the District Sainik Welfare Board.


‘Ensure supply of desi ghee to shrines’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 5
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today directed the Milkfed Managing Director to ensure uninterrupted supply of ‘desi’ ghee to Harmandar Sahib and other Sikh shrines under the SGPC control.

The Chief Minister reiterated his firm resolve that their would be continued supply of ‘desi’ ghee even if the contract with the SGPC for the purpose had lapsed. In case the SGPC failed to make payment the government would foot the bill for “desi” ghee, he added.

Meanwhile, Milk Federation Managing Director B. M. Mahajan said detailed instructions had been issued to all General Managers of the Milk plants in the state to strictly comply with the Chief Minister’s orders and ensure regular and uninterrupted supply of ‘desi’ ghee.


National award for Red Cross Society
Our correspondent

Faridkot, December 5
The Central Government has honoured the District Red Cross Society with a national award for its services. The award carries a cash prize of Rs 25,000, a citation and a certificate. Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, President, presented the award to Mr. A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, on World Disability Day at Vigyan Bhavan in New Delhi on December 3.

Stating this today, the Deputy Commissioner elaborated on several projects launched by the society.


US fellowship for Dr Khanna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
Dr S.L. Khanna, T.B. and Chest Specialist working in the Department of T.B. & Chest Diseases Hospital, Government Medical College, Amritsar, has been honoured with the Fellowship of the American College of Chest Physicians, USA.

The prestigious award was conferred on him on November 3 at San-Diego, California, during the annual convocation. According to Dr Khanna the Primary Mission of the ACCP is to improve patient care and health.


2 cyclists killed

Phillaur, December 5
Two cyclists were killed when they were hit by a speeding car near Paddi Khalsa village in this subdivision on Wednesday night. The deceased were identified as Sohan Lal of Chachrarri and Sital Kumar of Paddi Khalsa. They were returning from Goraya. OC


Rs 104 cr for police welfare

Moga, December 5
The Punjab government has allocated Rs 104 crore for various welfare schemes of the police department in the current year.

Director-General of police, M.S. Bhullar stated this at a news conference here today. He said the money would be used to build houses, on the education of the wards of police personnel and on development of police lines. For better schooling, the Police Department had set up model schools at Amritsar, Patiala, Phillaur and Bathinda, he added. UNI


5 held for assault on dentist
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 5
Five persons, including a woman, have been booked by the Barnala police for allegedly assaulting Dr Mahavir, a dentist, at his private clinic in the local Handiya Bazar on Wednesday evening.

According to reliable sources, Ms Shakuntla Devi, Mr Ram Gopal, Mr Laxman Dass, Mr Baljinderpal and Mr Rajinder Singh, all residents of Barnala, were booked under Sections 452, 506, 323, 148 and 149 of the IPC in the Kotwali Police Station, Barnala.

The sources revealed that a case against the alleged culprits was registered following a complaint lodged by Dr Mahavir with the Barnala police.

According to reports, the alleged accused started beating and slapping Dr Mahavir at his dental clinic on Wednesday evening when he demanded charges for the denture set given to the woman patient. The patient had complained some problems with the denture set given by him. The doctor in return had told the patient that new denture would take a few days to adjust. When the doctor demanded the balance payment they started arguing with the doctor and finally began beating the doctor at his clinic itself.

Following the beating and manhandling episode, Dr Mahavir called the police.

Dr R.C. Garg, President Punjab IMA (Indian Medical Association) has strongly condemned the barbaric attack on Dr Mahavir and demanded strict action against the guilty. He also expressed his concern over the increasing incidents of assault on doctors in Punjab.


‘Tantrik’ held for torturing youth
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 5
The police today arrested Dharam Pal Tantrik of Rasulpur under police station Purana Shalla who claimed that he had shamanistic powers to cure mentally retarded persons giving information, the SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar said that Ashwani Kumar (22) of Ramnagar Bhoon near here was mentally upset and his father Mr Charan Dass, who got a clue that the accused had these powers to cure such cases took him to his village for treatment.

The accused with the help of his two disciples, who are still at large, chained Ashwani Kumar and started beating him profusely on the plea that he was taking out the evil spirits from him. When Ashwani Kumar was being beaten his condition became serious and his father brought it to the notice of the accused who just put him off by saying that the evil spirits would again enter his body if he talked in such a manner.

It was on December 3 that Ashwani Kumar became serious and was rushed to the Civil Hospital on the directions of the accused. When the doctors attending upon him heard his tail of woes. Senior Medical Officer Dr Charanjit Singh, appointed a committee of three doctors including Dr Meena Mahajan, Dr Jagjivan Lal and Dr Arvind Mahajan for conducting his medico legal examination.

Later, the doctors reported the matter to the police who registered a case under Sections 343/506/323/34 of the IPC in police station Purana Shalla. The accused had absconded but the police was successful in arresting Dharam Pal today.


Wife, paramour held for murder
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 5
The police has arrested Sudesh Rani and her paramour Dharminder Singh, alias Rupi of Dorangala, for murdering Balbir Chand of Maglani on the night of October 25.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, today said that the wife of the deceased after strangulating him with the help of her paramour had reported to the police that her husband had got electrocuted. He said the police registered a case under Section 174 of the IPC and allowed the wife of the deceased to perform his cremation. The body was handed over to her after the post-mortem.

It may be mentioned here that Sudesh Rani had eloped with her paramour about two months ago but later reapproachment between the husband and wife was arrived at due to the intervention of some relatives. The couple had eight children.

The SSP said that Kishan Chand, brother of the deceased, had keeping in view the antecedents of Sudesh Rani filed a written report on police station Dorangala charging her for the death of his brother. Taking a clue from the complaint of Kishan Chand, the Dorangala police picked up Sudesh Rani and interrogated her, who confessed to have strangulated Balbir Chand in connivance with her paramour.

Meanwhile, the same was corroborated by her paramour, when he was picked up by the police for interrogation in another incident pertaining to the theft of a scooter.

The Civil Hospital here after conducting post-mortem of the deceased had sent his viscera to a chemical laboratory at Patiala for examination. The chemical examination revealed that the deceased had been administered some sleeping pills in the country-made liquor after which he was strangulated.

The police today produced the accused before the magistrate who remanded them in police custody.


Gang of extortionists busted
Tribune News Service

Moga, December 5
The police claimed to have busted a gang of criminals responsible for one of the biggest extortion, in which the ransom amount was received through hawala transaction in Canada. The gang members were also involved in many murders, robberies and other incidents of snatching of vehicles.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Mehal Singh Bhullar, DGP said the police arrested two main kingpins of the gang identified as Balwinder Singh, alias Binder, and Gurdas Singh, alias Dilla, both real brothers residents of Lande village falling under Baghapurana police station.

The DGP said the gang kidnapped Sham Narain Gupta of Hisar in Haryana and demanded Rs 3 crore for his release. However, the deal was finalised at Rs 35 lakh and the ransom was received in Canada by their friend, Sandeep, via hawala transaction. On receiving the ransom, gang members dropped the contractor Sham Narain Gupta on the outskirts of Sirsa, just two days before Divali.

During investigations, the accused revealed that the plot was hatched in September, by another accused Jagtar Singh, and Balwinder Singh. On October 19, they kidnapped the contractors from Hanumangarh in Rajasthan.

Mr Bhullar said Gurdas Singh was a dreaded terrorist who killed businessman of Bodipurs in Bathinda in 1992 and spent five years in jail. The DGP said the police would seek the help of Interpol to seek the extradition of Sandeep from Canada. Special police teams have been set up to conduct raids at various hide-outs of the remaining four accused involved in heinous crimes.


Probe ordered into sodomy case

Moga, December 5
A local court has ordered a probe into the complaint of a minor, who had alleged sodomy by a jail inmate when he was lodged in the jail in a theft case.

The complainant said he was sodomised by inmate after being forcibly administered some intoxicant. He said when he brought the matter before the jail authorities, they allegedly tried to hush it up. PTI


Two arrested for graft
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 5
Viresh Kumar, Octroi Superintendent, Municipal Council, Mansa, and his tout were caught today while taking a bribe of Rs 5,000 from a local electronic goods dealer.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, said on information that the Octroi Superintendent had been facilitating the evasion of octroi in lieu of a consideration, a team of the Vigilance Bureau was sent to Mansa.

Viresh Kumar, who had settled Rs 5,000 as bribe amount per month with the electronic goods dealer, Shushil Kumar, was sitting in his shop when Shushil Kumar offered him Rs 5,000. Viresh Kumar asked him to put the money in an envelope.

Viresh Kumar then called his tout, a shopkeeper, and asked him to take the envelope from Shushil Kumar. Both were caught red- handed.

Mr Grewal pointed out that Viresh Kumar had been allowing Shushil Kumar, the complainant, to evade octroi on electronic goods by taking bribe.


Cop arrested
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 5
The district police has arrested a local head constable, Paramjit Singh, for allegedly killing his wife, Tripta Maneka, in January.

Paramjit killed his wife when he was posted at Nangal police station and residing in the BBMB colony by smashing her head with a hammer. After killing her, he threw the blood-stained hammer on the roof and joined his duty in the police station.


Two held for murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 5
With the arrest of two persons here last evening, the district police claimed to have solved the murder case of a truck owner, who was killed in Maharashtra about four years ago. On a tip- off that a truck coming on the Majitha road had been stolen from Maharashtra, the police laid a naka at Ghala-Mala chowk near Guru Nanak Dev Hospital here and arrested Harbans Singh of Bhindi village in Maharashtra. Following investigations, the policemen also arrested his accomplice Harpal Singh of Dhulka village in Maharashtra.

The police found that Harbans Singh, Harpal Singh and Gurmeet Singh used to work as drivers for Rajesh Bhaia of Rajanand village in Maharashtra. They hatched a conspiracy and killed Rajesh, police sources said. They threw the body in forest. While Gurmeet Singh arrested by the Maharashtra police, Harbans Singh and Harpal Singh absconded with the truck.


Rs 1 lakh stolen from scooter
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 5
About Rs 1 lakh was stolen from the tool-box of a scooter, which was parked in front of the residence of a person located near the city police station yesterday.

Police sources said that Mr Rakesh Kumar Kaushal, who was working as a salesman with a private sanitary firm, located on the Amrik Singh Road, had withdrawn Rs 1 lakh from the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala (SBOP). After withdrawing money, he went to meet a lawyer. After he parked the scooter outside his residence two scooter-borne persons took out the money from the tool-box and fled. A case has been registered.


Varsity students boycott exams
Violence in campus, 8 booked
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 5
Students of B.Tech (Electronics), Fourth Year, Guru Nanak Dev University, today boycotted their examinations in protest against the registration of cases against eight students who were allegedly attacked by their fellow hostlers. One student was allegedly thrown from the balcony of a hostel.

Among those who were booked under cases, including attempt to murder, included Vivek Sharma, Bhupinderjit Singh, Sandeep Bhatia (all hostlers), Depinder Singh, Antarpreet Singh Bajwa, Chandermuni, Vipin Bhadiar and Jatinder Singh. A criminal case under Sections 307, 323, 325, 452 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code has been registered at sadar police station.

The sub-committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor is likely to take stern action against Jatinder Singh and Vipan Bhadiar who were allegedly involved in the attack. The university authorities are intrigued over the presence of these two students in the hostel though they were expelled from there at least six months back.

The insiders said the sordid incident in which a hostler was thrown from a balcony of the hostel occurred due to laxity given to security staff of the university. The security staff was directed not to “harass” the students on “flimsy grounds” when students had observed a strike in July this year. A section of students who had indulged in indiscipline outside the girls hostel had complained that security staff had been ‘unnecessarily’ harassing them on the ‘pretext of security’.

On this the Vice-Chancellor had to assure the agitating students that security of the university would be revamped and security personnel would be given proper training.

After the security relaxation, two groups of the law students clashed on October 28 and 29. In these two bloody incidents leaders of both the groups and their supporters had sustained injuries.

In wake of the increasing incidence of violence in university campus, the authorities have decided to tighten the security. So much so that the Punjab police was deployed outside the main gate to keep a close vigil on the activities of the students.

Meanwhile, the Dean, Students Welfare, Dr R.K. Bedi, conducted surprise checking of the hostels to check the entry of outsiders. Dr Bedi said a circular had been issued to all inmates of the hostels that a outsider could be allowed only with the prior permission of wardens.

To check the rash driving within the campus, maximum speed limit has been fixed at 30 km per hour.

The vehicles with tinted glasses have also been banned through a circular issued by the Dean, Students Welfare.


Youth fest opens
Our Correspondent

Budhlada, (Mansa) December 5
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner inaugurated the four-day Bathinda- Faridkot Zonal Youth Festival of colleges of Punjabi University at Guru Nanak College here today.

Mr Arvinder Paul Singh Pakhon, senior vice-president of the SGPC was the chief guest.


Entry tax on yarn, paper to be cut
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 5
Partly acceding to the demand of industrialists and business community to abolish the entry tax system, the Punjab government has finally decided to considerably reduce entry tax on yarn and paper.

Punjab Industries Minister Avtar Henry while talking to this correspondent here today revealed that a three-member Cabinet sub-committee constituted by the state Cabinet last month had recommended to reduce entry tax on yarn from 4 to 2 per cent, and entry tax on paper from 8 per cent to 3 per cent.

“We have also recommended to abolish entry tax on paper being used by the government departments for various purposes,” he added. The representatives of industrialists and business community had earlier met the Punjab Chief Minister demanding that the entry tax system should be abolished in the state since it was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution. The matter was discussed during the Cabinet meeting last month and it was decided to constitute a Cabinet sub-committee comprising Mr Henry, Punjab Finance Minister, Lal Singh and Excise and Taxation Minister Sardool Singh were to review the demands.

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