Monday, December 9, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Scrutiny of ‘fake’ voters starts
Officer to do door-to-door survey
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad, December 8
Mr Alok Shekhar, Director-General (Schools), Punjab, has started probe into the registration of fake voters and the deletion of the names of genuine voters from the voters’ lists for Municipal Council elections. Residents of this border town brought some startling facts to his notice today when he met a section of complainants individually.

Mr Shekhar and Mr Sanjay Kumar, Labour Commissioner, Punjab, have been deputed by state Election Commissioner C.L. Bains to look into the complaints made to him in connection with the registration of a large number of fake persons as voters in Jalalabad and Abohar towns.

While Mr Prem Valecha, President, Municipal Council, and Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP and senior SAD leader, who met Mr Shekhar, alleged that Congress leaders got the names of genuine voters deleted and those of fake persons registered as voters, Congress leader Prithvi Raj Doomra pointed out that new voters lists were genuine and Mr Valecha and Mr Mann were trying to mislead the authorities concerned by getting the election delayed under the pretext of fake voters.

Mr Doomra added that the SAD and BJP leadership of the town felt frustrated on knowing that they would lose in the Municipal Council elections as the Congress candidate in the last Assembly elections, Mr Hans Raj Joshan, had polled 80 per cent of urban votes from this seat.

On the other hand, Mr Subash Aggarwal of the SAD, presented documents to Mr Shekhar, showing that in a single house of 65 sq yd area in Ward No. 7, nearly 79 voters had been shown residing. He added that even the votes of one SAD-BJP candidate for the council elections had been deleted from the list.

He pointed out that tomorrow nearly 3,750 appeals would be filed before the state Election Commissioner, Punjab, at Chandigarh for deleting the names of fake voters from the lists. He added that in the last Assembly elections, the number of registered voters in this town was 21,000, which had now gone up to 26,000. He said only 100 new voters had been registered in the Guru Har Sahai town in the past six months.

Mr Joginder Singh, living in this town since 1972 and president of local gurdwara, alleged that seven votes of his family members were deleted from the voters’ list at the instance of Congress leaders by the official concerned while revising the electoral rolls for the Municipal Council elections. He added that this was done despite the fact that they were having voters’ identity cards issued by the Election Commission of India and ration cards issued by the Punjab Government.

Another resident, Mr Krishan Lal alleged that names of his five family members were deleted from the revised electoral rolls despite the fact that all of them had exercised franchise in the last Assembly elections and were having voters identity cards.

Mr Sandeep Maluja, President, BJP, Jalalabad, alleged that when the inquiry into the unprecedented rise in the number of voters in this town in the past six months was conducted by the authorities concerned, a few weeks ago, the official concerned deleted the names of genuine voters from the lists to bring down the number of newly registered voters. He added still more than, 3,500 voters were fake in the voters’ lists.

The residents, who came in hundreds in the local SDM’s office to file complaints before Mr Shekhar, pointed out that their names had been deleted from the voters’ lists by the authorities concerned and the names of those, who were already registered as voters in various villages of Ferozepore district, included in the revised lists by the field staff of the SDM's office under the diktats of ruling politicians.

Mr Shekhar, when contacted, said teams would be formed for the verification of voters. He added that teams would look into all allegations properly and justice would be done. He said he was not in a position to tell when the inquiry would be completed. He said he would submit his report to the state Election Commissioner as early as possible.

He pointed out that no government official involved in the verifications of the voters’ lists, earlier would be put on the job in the current inquiry. He added that the inquiry would be transparent and fair and he would hear all complainants.


Threat to stop custom milling of govt paddy
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 8
Rice millers in Punjab may stop custom milling of paddy if the Centre failed to receive the levy rice from the millers soon.

The Union Food Ministry has stopped receiving levy rice from rice millers from all over the country and laid the condition that levy rice will be accepted if the millers have purchased it at the minimum support price.

This decision was conveyed to the Punjab Government only last week and the FCI, accordingly, has stopped accepting levy rice from the millers . This decision of the Union Food Ministry has caused resentment among the rice millers in Punjab and rice millers of Kapurthala have already decided to stop custom milling of paddy for the FCI and other state agencies in protest against the decision. Machhiwara millers today decided to stop the milling of paddy.

Mr Tarsem Saini, President, the Punjab Rice Millers Association, said today that they would meet Union Food Minister Sharad Yadav in Delhi tomorrow and other senior officers of the ministry and press for the withdrawal of the decision in view of the huge stocks of paddy purchased by them and the state agencies from mandis.

Mr Saini said if the government did not withdraw its decision they would be forced to stop custom milling resulting in huge loss to the state exchequer, millers and Punjab farmers.

Meanwhile, inquiries reveal that Punjab Food Minister Lal Singh has also written to the Sharad Yadav seeking withdrawal of the decision and receipt of levy by the FCI. The Punjab Food Minister has supported the cause of the rice millers and maintained that if the millers stopped purchasing paddy from the mandis, the farmers would have to resort to distress sale.

Enquiries show that the Union Government has fixed certain specifications for purchasing paddy under the MSP and all stocks of paddy falling below the specifications are not purchased by the official agencies. The rice millers buy the stocks below the MSP ranging from Rs 100 to Rs 150 per quintal.

But Mr Tarsem Saini claimed that the rice millers were upgrading the paddy by blending it with higher quality paddy.

According to an agreement, the Centre will accept 75 per cent of the total purchase of paddy as levy rice from the millers. The government has fixed the levy price of grade A quality rice at Rs 1024/30 per quintal while the below grade quality at Rs 1009/30 and 974/50 per quintal.

The rice millers have delivered about 30 per cent rice to the Central pool so far and still 70 per cent paddy is lying in stores for milling. If the government did not start receiving levy rice, the millers will face huge losses and the rice growers will also suffer badly.

Punjab received an all-time high record of paddy arrivals this year despite drought and official purchase was 1.26 crore tonnes which is all-time high in the history of Punjab. The last year purchase of paddy was to the tune of 1.13 crore tonnes.

The state is not facing any problem of storage of paddy this year and if no decision is taken soon on the acceptance of levy rice, the milling is likely to be delayed.


Manjit Singh’s resignation sought
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 8
Even as the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) have demanded the resignation of Jathedar of Akal Takht Joginder Singh Vedanti for allegedly supporting the cause of controversial Baba Dhanwant Singh, an accused in a rape case, the SAD (Amritsar) today came out openly in support of the Jathedar by rubbishing the demand for his removal as baseless.

On the other hand, the SAD (Amritsar) has appealed to Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Manjit Singh to tender his resignation for allegedly possessing assets disproportionate to his known source of income.

In a press statement issued here today, the president of the SAD (Amritsar) and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, said Jathedar Vedanti had played a commendable role in promoting Sikhism during his stint as Jathedar of Akal Takht. “The Sikh religious and political bodies should observe restraint in the whole issue as Jathedar Vedanti continues to serve and guide the Sikh community in a commendable manner by initiating reforms in the Sikh religious affairs and by waging a battle to curb use of drugs among the Sikh youth,” the statement added.

Members of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat had earlier held “ardas” at Sri Akal Takht on December 1 and demanded that the SGPC should remove Jathedar Vedanti and Jathedar Manjit Singh for their alleged failure to perform religious duties as per the Sikh traditions.

The panchayat had shot an ultimatum to the SGPC demanding the removal of both of them by January 15 next, failing which the former would initiate action by spreading awareness among the Sikh masses about their alleged “wrongdoings”.

Mr Mann, however, maintained that Jathedar Vedanti had performed his religious duty in the right perspective by raising the demand of separate identity for the Sikhs with the Prime Minister of England,

Mr Tony Blair, during his recent visit to that country.

Meanwhile, the SAD controlled SGPC had already rejected the demand of the Sikh organisation regarding the removal of the Jathedars.


Tohra too seeks Vedanti’s resignation

Ludhiana, December 8
Endorsing the demand for the resignation of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) President Gurcharan Singh Tohra yesterday said the Akal Takht Jathedar should respect the demands of the Khalsa Panchayat.

“Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti should respect the charter of demands submitted to him by the Khalsa Panchayat,” Mr Tohra told a meeting of the SHSAD here.

The Khalsa Panchayat, a Sikh community think-tank, recently demanded the Akal Takht Jathedar’s resignation after alleging that he did not announce a deserving ‘tankha’ (religious punishment announced from the Akal Takht as per Sikh tenets) to a religious preacher, booked in a rape case.

Mr Tohra reiterated his allegations that Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal was responsible for “all the recent disturbing episodes in the Sikh community”. “Mr Badal has been playing a bad game in the Sikh religio-political affairs even at the cost of the maryada,’’ the SHSAD President said.

Mr Tohra said senior Akali leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi was expected to attend the meeting but could not come due to some unavoidable reason. UNI


Encroachments on market removed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 8
The local Municipal Council authorities, under the supervision of the SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, in an early morning swoop removed encroachments in the old Anaj Mandi area of the town today. The authorities, armed with court orders, descended on the rehri market in the area around 5 a.m. The police sealed all entry points to the market. The council authorities, besides impounding about 50 rehris, removed all kutcha and pucca constructions in the area.

After removing the encroachments, the council authorities fenced the area with barbed wire. Police force was also deployed to thwart the efforts of the rehri owners to re-enter the vacated area.

The removal of encroachments made by about 100 rehri owners in the area had been hanging fire since long. These rehri owners, who sell vegetables, had been camping in the area since decades. Due to congestion created by them in the already narrow market lanes of the market, the district administration had been repeatedly trying to evict the rehri owners from the area and relocate them at some other place.

During the stint of the previous government, the then Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vini Mahajan, proposed to create a parking space in the old Anaj Mandi area after relocating the rehri owners. However, due to the alleged political support enjoyed by the rehri owners, she had to lose her posting in Ropar.

Later, when the council authorities tried to evict the rehri owners, they obtained stay orders from the local civil court, which were later vacated. The rehri owners also approached the Punjab Human Rights Commission against their eviction. It had earlier granted a stay on the matter. The stay was vacated on November 25, after which the council authorities swing into action to remove the encroachments today.

The SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, said the rehri owners had been intimated in advance about today’s move. He said they have also been given the offer to relocate their market at some other place in the vicinity of the town. The district administration, as planned earlier, would now construct parking space on the vacated area, he added.


10 leprosy cases detected
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, December 8
Ten new cases of leprosy have been detected in the border district of Ferozepore during the 4th Modified Leprosy Elimination campaign launched last month to create awareness among people through seminars/rallies, training of medical staff and organising skin camps at the sub-divisional level, besides routine OPDs in the government hospitals/dispensaries. More than 4,000 patients having skin problems have been examined and treated free of cost during the campaign.

Talking to The Tribune, in an exclusive interview here today, Dr G.S. Dhillon, District TB and Leprosy Officer, said earlier 355 leprosy cases, were detected in the past couple of years, while of the 42 patients were still under treatment all others had been treated.

He said the Intensive National Leprosy Eradication Programme was implemented in this border district in 1995. The state Health Department had since been carrying out various programmes regularly to create awareness among people about the disease and its preventive measures.

“As many as 137 medical officers, 33 health assistants, 85 male multi-purpose workers and 216 female multi-purpose health workers have so far been trained to provide leprosy treatment facility at dispensary level”, said Dr Dhillon.

It is worth mentioning here that there are only three skin specialists in the district having a population of nearly 20 lakh, making the situation more pathetic for patients suffering from skin diseases. Besides this, there are only 137 medical officers as against the sanctioned posts of 227. Similarly, 14 posts of health assistants and 137 posts of multipurpose health workers (both male and female) are lying vacant. No matter, the medical staff presently posted in the district have been trained to provide treatment at lower level but still most of the remote rural areas near the Indo-Pakistan border are crying for regular treatment due to lack of medical staff in the dispensaries.

Underlying the treatment facility, the District TB and Leprosy Officer said “leprosy curable and can be treated at any stage. There are types of patients for treatment. First, multi-bacillary cases (MB cases) or smear positive cases with more bacterial infection, the multi-drug treatment (MDT) of which takes at least one year. The common symptoms of MB cases are more than five skin patches or involvement of more than one nerve or visible deformity.

“Second, pauci-bacillary cases (PB cases) having two to five skin patches with less sensation and single nerve involvement. At least six months are required for its treatment (MDT). Third, single skin lesion cases (SSL cases) having only one patch on their skin, the treatment of which is only single dose.”

Dr Dhillon said the World Health Organisation (WHO) provided free medicines for treatment of the disease through the Union Government. Subsequently, the state Health Department provided treatment for leprosy free of cost.

During the campaign as many as 3,000 persons were examined at the mega skin camps, besides 1,000 persons at routine health education and skin camps/OPD in civil hospitals. Nine new cases of leprosy were detected at the skin camps and one at routine health education programme and skin camps. Free medicines were also distributed among the patients.


Kharar bypass: PIDB awaits govt nod
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
The Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) is waiting for the Punjab Chief Minister’s directions for the past over one month, to start work on the prestigious Kharar bypass project that has been planned to lessen traffic congestion on the Chandigarh-Mohali-Ludhiana road. The project has landed into controversy, after Mr Bir Devinder Singh, political adversary of the Chief Minister extended his support to the opponents of the project.

Sources in the government disclosed that a section of the unauthorised colonisers was opposed to the project, that would not only facilitate the smooth flow of traffic that usually moves at a snail’s pace these days, but would also save number of lives that all lost in various accidents on this road.

They said the work on the project was recently stopped after the Chief Minister instructed the PIDB to consider the views of the opponents, before pursuing with the project. Subsequently, a meeting of PIDB, PUDA officials and Mr Bir Devinder Singh, was called by Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary, Punjab, to resolve the matter, but without result. The matter was further referred to the state Chief Minister due to political implications of the decision. Now the file of the project is pending with the Chief Minister office.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, claims that he is not opposed to the project as such, but wants that it should be delayed for some years. During that time, he says, “The government should widen the road, passing through Kharar. A part of the traffic could be diverted by developing the Kharar- Banur road. To decrease the congestion of Kharar-Chandigarh road should be four laned from Khanpur to Desu Majra and from Kharar bus stand to Khanpur connecting the old Morinda road.’’

However, officials of PIDB, claimed that sooner or later, the Kharar bypass lengthening about 7.5 km would have to be developed, as there was no logic in passing the heavy vehicular traffic from inside the fast developing Kharar town. Officials involved in the project preparation report, pointed that they had already considered all alternative routes, but the most viable project from the long-term perspective would be to construct the bypass at the earliest.

The officials disclosed that the initial cost of the project would be around Rs 35 crore, including the acquisition cost of the 720,000 square metre land at market rate. The cost of the project, he said, would be easily recovered by developing the commercial land by PUDA, involved in the whole project. He said, a strong lobby of unauthorised colonisers was interested in the prime land along with the planned bypass, which was selling at Rs 20- Rs 25 lakh per acre.

The Truck Road Transport Union of Ludhiana has also urged the state Chief Minister to expedite the matter, as on the Chandigarh-Kharar road more than 200 lives were lost in the past one year due to heavy traffic. PIDB officials pointed that the delay in project would result in increase in cost of the project and lost of valuable lives.


Summon Panjrath at Takht: SAD(A) leader
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 8
The SAD(A) general secretary, Mr Jaskaran Singh, said today that he would tomorrow call on Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Akal Takht Jathedar, and present him a charge sheet against Joginder Singh Panjrath, a senior SGPC member and SAD leader, for having links with Baba Ashutosh of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan.

“Panjrath should be summoned at Akal Takht and punished according to the Panthic maryada because he paid obeisance to a picture of Ashutosh during a function at Samana on June 26 last year,” alleged Mr Jaskaran Singh, adding that he had a photograph of Panjrath to prove his allegation.

He said Mr Panjrath had lied by describing the photograph as a digital camera trick and hence should be punished more severely by Akal Takht by divesting him of his membership of the SGPC.

He alleged that Mr Gurdev Singh Badal’s daughter, wife of Sital Singh Dharamkot, a SAD MLA, was also a follower of Ashutosh and hence she should be punished.

Mr Jaskaran Singh demanded a ban on the activities of the Noormahalia sect, which allegedly distorted Guru Granth Sahib and denigrated Sikhism.


Khalsa Panchayat is ‘Cong creation’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar today alleged that the Khalsa Panchayat was a creation of the Congress.

Speaking to newsmen after taking part in the inaugural Akhand Path ceremony to consecrate the newly built Darbar hall of Dukhnivaran gurdwara here, the SGPC President said the Khalsa Panchayat was being propped up by the Congress to create divisions in the “Panth”. He said the Khalsa Panchayat was trying its best to denigrate Sikh institutions.

Mr Badungar said seeking resignation of the Akal Takth Jathedar by the Panchayat could be seen in this context also. He said the Sikh Panth could find the intentions of the organisation from the fact that it was now being supported by former SGPC president Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Earlier speaking after the Akhand Path ceremony, the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said strengthening the SGPC was the need of the hour. He said anti-Sikh forces were challenging the SGPC to create divisions in it.


Never threatened to quit: Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 8
Punjab minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal issued a statement today denying that she had ever threatened to resign as a minister during her recent meetings with AICC President Sonia Gandhi.

These reports, she said, “have no basis at all seem to be planted by some section of the press whose sole aim is to spread disinformation. So, I condemn it.”

It was a routine meeting with the party President regarding party work The Congress has unflinchable faith in her leadership and “we always obey her orders with utmost respect,” she added.


Don’t shield corrupt, Ramoowalia to Badal
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 8
The Akalis and Congress men fight with each other when either of them assume power, this was observed by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, member of Parliament and president of the Lok Bhalai Party (LBP) here yesterday. Speaking on river waters Mr Ramoowalia said the demand of user-states had increased and the water could be provided to such states if surplus. He said travel agents had defrauded 25,000 people of Rs 2 lakh to 12 lakh per head with the assurance to send them abroad. He asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister, Punjab not to shield his ministers facing corruption charges and to advise such ministers to face trial and prove their innocence.


BJYM meeting today
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 8
Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha, Punjab president Mr Manjit Singh Rai has called an emergency meeting of the state office-bearers of the morcha on December 9 at Ludhiana.

Stating this, morcha state vice-president Arun Khosla said, here today that the Punjab BJP general secretary and morcha in charge Prof Rajinder Bhandari would attend the meeting, and will discuss latest political situation in the state besides organisational matters.


Don’t act as proxy for Sarpanch wives, husbands told
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 8
Deputy Commissioner Ferozepore D.K. Tiwari has warned the husbands of women Sarpanches, members of village Panchayats and Municipal Councillors against working as “proxy” for their wives.

Addressing a “Nari Jagran Rally” at Khuyiansarwer village, 15 km from here, Mr Tiwari seriously viewed the report that majority of the husbands prefer to attend the function to send their elected wives there. There were reports that since the day of their elections, such women representatives had not visited any office or function, except the oath taking-ceremony, and their husbands had been working by “proxy” everywhere.

Mr Tiwari said reservation for women would not mean anything if they were not allowed to work according to on their own for the betterment of society. He agreed to post women constables here when ASP Rakesh Aggarwal said that the police faced difficulty in dealing with crimes related to women as the sub-division was not having any woman constable.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Saharan, SDM, flagged off five truckloads of fodder for drought-hit areas of Rajasthan from Beganwali village on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner.


PUDA to reduce price of complex sites
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
Finding it unable to dispose of commercial sites in the Akal Commercial Complex developed over the site of the erstwhile Kaurji ki Haveli, the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has recommended to the government to further lower the reserve price of the complex land.

PUDA has now recommended that commercial plots in the complex may now be offered to people at Rs 10,000 per square yard. Earlier during three failed auctions, the plots were offered at a reserve price of Rs 20,000 per square yard, Rs 15,000 per square yard and Rs 12000 per square yard. These auctions had taken place over a period of nearly two years.

Disclosing this, PUDA Additional Chief Administrator Hussan Lal said a recommendation in this regard had been made to the government. He said once the recommendation was accepted, PUDA would start disposing of the site from March onwards next year.

Mr Hussan Lal said though 2.79 acres of land which comprised the erstwhile Kaurji ki Haveli and which housed the Old Tehsil complex had been taken over by PUDA, possession of as much as 1.56 acres of land had not been handed over because the record of the office of the Sub Divisional Magistrate, Patiala, was still lying in the building. He said once the SDM office was shifted to the new District Administrative Complex, the possession of this site would also be taken up by mid February 2003.

The ACA said once the remaining part of the land was developed as much as 12 residential plots, 23 shop sites, 27 shop-cum-office sites, 20 booth sites, seven workshop sites and 2 restaurant sites would be available for auction. He said the estimated expenditure on the development of the remaining site would be Rs 77 lakh.

Sources said besides the exorbitant prices quoted by PUDA, no site could be disposed of during earlier auctions, also because of the nearby ‘kabari market’ which had made the entire area congested and not suitable for heavy investment. Mr Hussan Lal, however, said this problem might be solved now with the junk dealers agreeing to shift to an Improvement Trust site near the Rajpura octroi post on the outskirts of the city during a meeting presided over by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur with representatives of the junk dealers.

Though some kabari market association dealers disputed this claim when contacted, they said they might be able to shift outside the city in case they were given plots on concessional rates. The sources said once the kabari market shifted to a new site, the Akal complex could find buyers.

Businessmen and property dealers also feel that the fate of the complex would rest on the shifting of the Kabari market from the adjoining area. Gurcharan Singh of Chhoti Baradari said along with this there was a need to develop further facilities and broaden roads in the vicinity so that the complex could be approached from various sides.


Minors taking drugs worries Sajjan Jakhar
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 8
Former Punjab Minister Sajjan Kumar Jakhar has asked the Punjab police not to be influenced by political interference in dealing with drug mafia, which had endangered the social and economical security in this subdivision.

Speaking at the valedictory function of the second de-addiction camp at Homoeopathic Medical College Hospital here last evening, Mr Jakhar said an alarming situation was emerging as even minors had started taking drugs and intoxicants. No doubt Saans, a voluntary organisation floated by the police, was aware of the situation, still it was the responsibility of the parents and the teaching community to keep a watch on the youths and prevent them from falling into the trap of the drug mafia. Mr Jakhar warned that action would be taken against those party workers who were found helping people involved in drug trafficking. He lauded the zeal with which ASP Rakesh Aggarwal was working to make the subdivision free from drugs.

Mr Jakhar complimented other social organisations like the Seva Bharti, Brahmakumaris and Sukhmani Sahib Simran Society for their services at the two camps.

Mr Aggarwal said more than 80 addicts were treated by Dr Ramesh Arora and Dr Rajesh Midha.


Jailed arms dealer’s death to be probed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
Patiala Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today ordered a judicial inquiry into the death of Kartar Singh Sodhi, an arms dealer who was arrested last month on charges of running an arms smuggling racket in collusion with the Peoples War Group (PWG), in the Central Jail yesterday.

The arms dealer reportedly died of a heart attack yesterday. He was brought dead to the Government Rajindra hospital.

The Deputy Commissioner today ordered the Patiala Tehsildar to conduct a judicial inquiry into the incident. A-three member Medical Commission was also formed today, including Dr S.S. Oberoi, Dr Ram Lubhaya and Dr Akash, who conducted a post-mortem. The post-mortem proceedings were overseen by the Tehsildar. The heart has been sent to the Government Medical College and the viscera to the State Chemical Laboratory here for examination.

The Central Jail authorities could not be contacted to ascertain the events which led to the death of the arms dealer.

Kartar Singh Sodhi had been arrested along with two other persons who the Patiala Police said were members of the banned PWG November 2 alongwith a Bolero jeep which had bunkers built into it to stash arms. A large number of arms and ammunition were seized from the jeep.


Painting contest in Sobha Singh’s memory held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
The 11th annual prize distribution function of the Sobha Singh Memorial Chitrakar Society was held here today at the Teachers’ Home.

Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, MLA, Talwandi Sabo, who was the chief guest at the function, said he would recommend to the government that an arts college must be set up here. He also gave a grant of Rs 11,000 to the society and urged participants to continue working in the field of art. He said an art gallery should be set up to promote young and upcoming artists.

Ms Gurcharan Kaur, daughter of Sardar Sobha Singh, had specially come from Andreta (Himachal Pradesh) to attend the function. Those who were awarded with Surjit Singh memorial awards were, Mrs Giyan Kaur from Bathinda, Mr Baljit Singh, Patiala, Mr Amarjit Singh, Bathinda, Mr Jagdeep Singh, Barnala, and Mr Yashpal Singh from Jaito. More than 40 artists from the state, including some from Chandigarh, participated in the function.

Painting competitions for school going Children were also held and the results were as follows: Hina, class VII, St Josephs, (1); Suhirad Khikhar, VII, St Josephs, (2) and Paramjit Kaur, VI, Summer Hill Convent got the 3rd prize in group A.

In group B: Neelam, VIII, St Josephs, (1); Sheetal, VIII, Satluj Public (2) and Vikram, X, St Josephs got the 3rd prize.

Winners of the inter-college painting competitions were as follows: Ms Amandeep, Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa, (1); Mr Bharat Kapil, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Ms Maninder Kaur, Sant Baba Bhag Singh Memorial College, Moga, shared the second prize and the third prize was shared by three participants, Ms Charanjit Kaur, SSD Girls College, Bathinda, Ms Anupam Goyal, DAV, Bathinda and Ms Rajveer Kaur, Sant Baba Bhag Singh Memorial College, Moga.

The winners were given prizes by the society.


Civil surgeons told to hold shows of ‘Daaire’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
“In pursuance of the Punjab Government’s policy of generating awareness against female-foeticide, the Punjab Department of Health and Family Welfare has joined the state-wide anti-female-foeticide theatre campaign of the National Theatre Arts Society, Patiala,” said Mr Pran Sabharwal, director NTAS, here yesterday.

Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Punjab Health and Family Welfare, has issued instructions to all civil surgeons in the state to arrange shows of the society’s anti-female-foeticide Punjabi musical play “Daaire” with the co-operation of respective Deputy Commissioners and NGOs in the state. The opening performance of “Daaire” was organised by Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, in collaboration with the Punjab National Bank at Ludhiana.

The chief guest, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, Ludhiana, while inaugurating the campaign, strongly condemned the menace of female-foeticide and appreciated the role of NTAS in creating awareness among the people in this regard. The guest of honour Mr Chand Singh, Deputy Zonal Manager, PNB, lauded the Department of Health and Family Welfare and the NTAS for organising an impressive play to activate the people against the alarming deterioration of sex ratio in Punjab. Dr S.N.Tiwari, Civil Surgeon, Ludhiana, welcomed the guests.

Mr Pran Sabharwal said with this performance `Daaire’ entered its golden jubilee phase after presenting silver jubilee show at Chandigarh and 25 performances in Punjab and Himachal.


IMA pact on waste treatment plant
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 8
The state chapter of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has signed an agreement with PECMA Air Systems Private Limited to set up a common treatment plant here to handle and dispose of biomedical waste generated from hospitals of the state.

Addressing a press conference here today, the state president of the IMA, Dr R.C. Garg, said the plant would be set up in the Saipur industrial area here and the company would be responsible for collecting the biomedical waste.

“Training will be given to the staff of hospitals affiliated to the IMA about the different methods of segregation, collection, transportation and subsequent treatment of waste, which shall be treated as per the guidelines of the Central Pollution Control Board,” he added.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board has already given its nod for setting up the plant.


Dispensary in gurdwara opened
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 8
Rana Gurjit Singh, local MLA, today inaugurated Sri Guru Nanak Dev Dispensary set up in the Sant Pura Mohalla gurdwara.

It has been set up by Mr Amar Singh, freedom fighter, who worked as cashier with Netaji Subhash Chandar Bose.

Rana Gurjit Singh praised the efforts of Mr Amar Singh for the service of mankind.

He urged the social and religious organisations specially NRIs to provide health infrastructure for better health service to people.

He informed that the Punjab Government had been spending Rs 700 crore on health services.

The MLA disclosed that the World Bank had already sanctioned Rs 317 crore for the augmentation of water supply and sewerage in the state and Kapurthala district would get sufficient funds for water and sewerage facilities.


Residents laud MC chief’s role
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
Residents of Ward Nos 8, 9 and 10 have felicitated the president of the local Municipal Council, Mr Bhupinder Singh Bhullar, for his role in initiating developmental activities in the areas.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Mohinder Singh Sohal, municipal councillor of Ward No 8, said some long-pending demands of the area residents, including the repair of the 100-feet road, were met by Mr Bhullar. He said compensation of about Rs 30 lakh had been paid to the residents, whose land had been acquired for building the road.

Ms Tej Kaur Chahal and Mr Harminder Singh (both municipal councillors) said Mr Bhullar had played an instrumental role in the starting of work on Rs 26-crore water supply project, which on completion would increase the drinking water supply to the city to 70 lakh gallons from the present 20 lakh gallons. The function was largely attended.


Plea to install Ambedkar’s portrait in courts
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
Mr Kiranjit Singh Gheri, state president, Dalit Sena, in a statement issued here today, demanded that a portrait of Dr B.R. Ambedkar should be installed in all government offices and courts. He said the present government was doing nothing in Dr Ambedkar’s honour and most of the parks dedicated to him were in bad shape.

Mr Gheri said even those who had benefited most by the policies of Dr Ambedkar were shying away from their responsibilities towards him. He pointed that even after more than five decades of Independence, Dalits were still mentally shackled and oppressed.


Trees on canals’ banks axed
Our Correspondent

Moga, December 8
Branches and stumps of a large number of kikkar trees worth crores on the banks of Sirhind and Sidhwan and also Kingwan canals passing through many villages in this region have reportedly been axed allegedly in collusion with officials of the Forest Department, according to reports received here yesterday. The persons involved in this act either sold the kikkar wood in the market or used it for other purposes and made money, the report said.


Kale kachhewale loot 2 houses, injure 5
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 8
At least 10 persons, suspected to be members of the “kale kachhewale” gang, struck the houses of Ram Parkash and Des Raj Chopra in Dashmesh Nagar and New Tagore Nagar localities early today and assaulted the inmates with sharp-edged weapons and wooden rods. Ram Parkash and his granddaughter Kiran Bala, besides Des Raj Chopra, his wife Avinash Chopra and son Rupesh Chopra were seriously injured. All were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

Sudesh Kumari, daughter-in-law of Ram Parkash, told mediapersons that around 1.30 a.m., six persons armed with sharp-edged weapons, wooden road and torches jumped over the boundary wall of the house and started knocking at the doors.

Some of them broke open the front door and assaulted Ram Parkash and his granddaughters Kiran Bala, Nitu and Veenu. They also broke open steel almirahs and iron boxes. They looted five wrist watches, Rs 2,500 cash and other valuable articles. She said even though a neighbour informed the police immediately, it reached their house only around 5.30 a.m.

Later, the gang members made an attempt to break into the house of Surinder Singh, a Junior Engineer of the Panchayati Raj Department. When they failed in their attempt, they struck the house of Des Raj Chopra, located about 1 km from the house of Ram Parkash, in New Tagore Nagar locality.

Rajesh Chopra, son of Des Raj, who is a gunman of a DSP in Jalandhar, told mediapersons that dacoits banged into their house around 3 a.m. They assaulted Des Raj and Avinash Chopra, due to which both were injured and became unconscious when his brother Rupesh Chopra resisted, they attacked him with sharp-edged weapons on the head. They broke open almirahs and boxes and decamped with gold ornaments worth Rs 70,000, Rs 25,000 and other valuable articles.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, visited both houses in the morning. Talking to mediapersons, she said both dacoities were committed by the “kale kachhewale” gang .


Man arrested for murdering wife
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 8
The district police today arrested Sarwan Kumar for allegedly murdering his wife at his residence in the Golden Avenue locality here today. Raj Kiran, brother of the victim, in his complaint to the police, said his sister Sonia (26) was married to Sarwan Kumar about nine years back and had two sons. He alleged that Sarwan Kumar used to bash her wife, who, time and again, informed him about the rude behaviour of Sarwan.

He alleged that he found Sonia lying in an unconscious state at her residence, when he visited her house this morning. The victim died on way to Christian Medical College, Ludhiana, after a nearby private hospital referred her to CMC owing to her serious condition.

The police said though the exact cause of her death would be ascertained after conducting post-mortem examination, it was found during preliminary investigation that Sarwan had forced Sonia to swallow some poisonous substance resulting in her death.

Sarwan was immediately arrested by the police and a case has been registered under Section 302 IPC.


Principal, teachers accused of kidnapping student
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 8
The case of the disappearance of a class VII student from a local school on December 6 has taken a new turn with the Kotwali police registering a case of kidnapping against the school Principal, two teachers and two others.

The Kotwali police today registered a case under Section 364 against Playway High School Principal Tejinder Kaur and two teachers - Ms Nishi and Mrs Thakur besides the school driver Bittu and Jarnail Singh, a relative of the school Principal. The case was registered following a complaint by Ankita Gupta, the mother of a 12 year Mithilesh Gupta, who has been missing since December 6.

According to the mother of the student, the school driver and Jarnail Singh had got her son home on December 6 to complain that he had stolen Rs 400 from a bag belonging to school teacher Mrs Thakur. The complaint said the student was taken back to school soon afterwards.

It said when the child did not return home after school hours, his mother approached the school Principal who handed over the school bag of the student and said he would return home soon. However, the student did not come home following which a case in this regard was registered today.

Though the Principal could not be contacted, sources said it could be that the child had run away from home as he could not face his parents after being caught stealing money in school.


Youth’s body found
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 8
Mandeep Singh (20), a resident of the Naraingarh area, was allegedly killed by two persons for having illicit relations with a girl here today.

According to information available, Jagtar Singh and his nephew Vicky strangled Mandeep allegedly for having illicit relations with the daughter of Jagtar Singh.

His body was found near a marriage palace on the Attari road.

The accused are at large. A case has been registered under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code at the Chheharta police station.


Drug smugglers' gang busted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 8
Following a tip-off, a local police party laid a naka on the G.T. Road at Phillaur last evening and intercepted a car. Two packs of 10 grams of smack each were seized from the two occupants of the vehicle, Mr P.S. Gill, SSP, said today.

Subsequently, three more accused persons were arrested. During preliminary interrogation, they said they were a part of a drug-smuggling gang headed by Balwinder Singh Lahoria.


Students defy varsity order

Amritsar, December 8
B. Tech students of Guru Nanak Dev University today protested against the university authorities defying its order to vacate the university hostel within 24 hour notwithstanding the note of warning sounded by the university that defiance would attract strict action including striking off the name from the university rolls.

The alleged beating up of two B.Tech hostel students by the police in the university hostel provoked the students to raise a banner of revolt against the university.

The police action followed when on December 2, 2002, B. Tech student Satinderpal Singh suffered multiple fractures and was admitted to a hospital after he was allegedly pushed down from the second floor of the university hostel.

The police booked eight students of the university under Section 307 of the IPC (attempt to murder) in this regard.

On the next day of the incident, the police swooped down the hostel to investigate the alleged crime.

During the spot investigation, a police party was said to have thrashed two B. Tech students before dragging them physically to the police vehicle.

While the police was whisking away these two students, their fellow students intercepted the police vehicle at the main gate of the university.

The university directed the agitating B.Tech students, including girls, to vacate the hostel within 24 hours failing which their names might be struck off from the university rolls.

The students told mediapersons that most of the students’ were from the far-flung places so it was difficult to vacate the hostel at such a short notice.

Reacting to the students’ protest, university Registrar R.S. Bawa said boycott was chosen by the student. When they (students) were not to appear in the exams, they had no business to stay in the hostel to create mess for the university. PTI


Students awarded degrees, medals
Tribune News Service

Longowal (Sunam), December 8
The fifth convocation of the Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) was held here today. Students who had passed degree, diploma and certificate courses recently were awarded degrees, diplomas and certificates at the convocation. They were also honoured with medals.

Delivering the convocation address, Mr S.K. Tripathi, Education Secretary, the Union Ministry of Human Resource and Development, said “the ever-changing complexion of technology throws up a challenge that our engineers and technologists must be equipped to meet, if they want to be counted among the very best in the world. This puts great responsibility on our technical institutions”.

Mr Tripathi also said it was not sufficient to offer a variety of vocational and technical courses to produce technically qualified manpower. The objective now was to bring in a systematic transformation in technical institutions so that they became dynamic, demand-driven, quality-conscious, efficient forward-looking and responsive to rapid economic and technological changes occurring at both national and international levels. Keeping this objective in view, the government had launched a Technical Education Quality Improvement Programme to support its ongoing efforts in this direction, he added.

Mr Tripathi also called upon the students to work for the future of the country without polluting the environment, promote a sense of sharing and cooperation that would lessen tension and channel energies constructively.

Dr Sadhu Singh, Director, Colleges, Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, presiding over the convocation, said the SLIET had acquired the status of a best institution in the engineering and technology in a short span. He also emphasised the need of preparing students in such a way that they avoided to run after jobs. He also stressed the need of promoting moral values in the routine life.

Dr R.C. Chauhan, Director, SLIET, delivering his welcome address, said the SLIET was trying its best for improving industry-institute interaction. He said MoUs had been signed with 27 reputed industries of the region for mutual cooperation.

Dr Chauhan also said the institute was striving for excellence to assure quality technical education while the grant of deemed to be university was its priority. To nurture its uniqueness it was essential that the SLIET should have autonomy in all its academic programme, he added.


GPF issue: teachers cry foul
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 8
While the high-ups in the Education Department have been claiming that all records pertaining to the general provident fund (GPF) of the employees will be shifted to Drawing and Disbursing Officers (DDOs), mostly school principals, a section of the teachers allege that no concrete steps have been taken in this regard.

A cross-section of teachers contacted by The Tribune said they had been finding it increasingly difficult to withdraw money from their GPF or raise loans from the department. The teachers alleged that after retirement employees had to “shell out” a portion of their savings to get the service benefits, including GPF, gratuity and pension. “Delay in getting service benefits after retirement led to rampant corruption”, they alleged.

Major Basant Kumar, district secretary, Democratic Teachers’ Front, said there was a list of long pending demands of the teachers that would not put any financial burden on the state exchequer and claimed that it would rather help streamline the functioning of the department. He pointed out that the state-level authorities had issued a letter stating that the accounts of GPF and gratuity would be kept at the DDO level from the beginning of the current financial year, but as the district treasury officers had not been informed about this properly, the signatures of the DDOs were not being honoured by the treasury offices.

Major Basant alleged that a section of employees in the Education Department were blocking the implementation of the orders that had already been issued.

He said no date had been fixed for the records to be sent to the DDOs. He said it should be ensured that the retired employees were paid all their dues within 10 days of retirement and pensions were started without delay.

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