Wednesday, December 11, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Withdraw remarks, Badungar told
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
The National Commission for Minorities today came down heavily on the SGPC chief for his statement that he would appeal against the verdict of the Supreme Court, which has pronounced that ‘Udasi deras’ are not gurdwaras.

In a fax message, Mr Tarlochan Singh, Vice-Chairman, asked Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar to withdraw the statement as it would create a fear psychosis among different sects worshipping the holy Guru Granth Sahib. He said such statements by SGPC office-bearers in the past had caused irreparable damage to Sikhism.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the followers of Nirmala and Udasi sects feared the SGPC would ‘grab’ their properties by making these gurdwaras.

While settling a 25-year-old litigation between the SGPC and a mahant on declaring on Udasi dera as a gurdwara, the Supreme Court has ruled that mere worshiping of Guru Granth Sahib at a dera does not qualify it to be a gurdwara.

The apex court has ruled that the essential ingredients for an institution to be treated as a gurdwara are that “there should be Guru Granth Sahib, worship of the same by a congregation and a Nishan Sahib”.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said Guru Granth Sahib had been removed from many Sindhi gurdwaras for the same reason as they feared the SGPC would take control of their properties. Many deras where congregations were held as per the Sikh tenets had been converted into temples.

The commission alleged that while the SGPC had become a centre for politics, most deras belonging to the Udasi continued to preach the faith in the true sense. He said the SGPC had never bothered to bring all ‘Nanak naam leva’ (followers of Guru Nanak Dev) on a single platform.

It may be mentioned here that prof Badungar had announced the SGPC would appeal against the verdict of the Supreme Court as Nirmalas and Udasis were part of Sikhism.


Brig Harika sworn in as PSSSB Chairman
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Brig Charanjiv Singh Harika (retd) was today sworn in as Chairman of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board (PSSSB). The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh (retd), administered the oath of office and secrecy to Brigadier Harika at Punjab Bhavan.

The board would be fully constituted shortly. It will have 10 members, including the Chairman. Like the PPSC, which was eclipsed by the shadow of a job-on cash scandal, the role of this board is also suspect. The Vigilance Bureau is already on its trail, even as former Chairman, Tejinderpal Singh Sandhu, facing allegations of corruption, is reportedly on the run.

Brig Harika, born on September 30, 1946, brings with him vast experience in recruitment, administrative, personnel and financial management and human resource development. He has also fought insurgency in Assam, where he was appointed Brigadier-General of the Unified Command. He is a recipient of the Vishisht Seva Medal for having captured Pradip Gogoi, Vice-Chairman of ULFA.

Speaking to newsmen after the swearing-in ceremony, Capt. Amarinder Singh said an appraisal of available vacancies was under way. The government would shortly set in motion a recruitment process, which would be selective, need-based and primarily pertain to technical services. He favours recruitment through the PPSC and PSSSB, which have appropriate recruitment mechanisms and not by departmental selection committees. He also promised to look into the pattern of recruitment introduced by the previous government in the PSSSB.

Capt Amarinder Singh revealed that there was on improvement in the financial situation of the state as a consequence of better tax compliance and monitoring. The revenue was up by about Rs 700 crore as a result of realisation of taxes, as compared that into the previous year.

Asked about extension in service to the present Chief Secretary, Y. S. Ratra, the Chief Minister said that in view of the rapport established with him (Chief Secretary) and certain reforms and changes in the pipeline, the government preferred continuity. Therefore the Centre had been asked to grant Mr Ratra an extension in service.

The Chief Minister, who returned to Chandigarh after campaigning in Gujarat, said that there was a positive response in favour of the Congress in the constituencies that he had visited. Even the Punjabi community—80,000 strong—was inclined to vote for the Congress.

About the possible expansion and reshuffle of the Council of Ministers and his not meeting the party President, Ms Sonia Gandhi, while his colleague, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had met her at least twice in New Delhi, the Chief Minister said he would meet Ms Gandhi after the Gujarat elections and only thereafter changes would be effected in the council of ministers. About Ms Bhattal’s meetings, he said she could meet the party President any number of times.


DSP gets SHO suspended
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

The SSP when asked as to how a senior police officer could be appointed to hold an inquiry into a complaint against a junior who had himself submitted an inquiry report against him, said the matter was a “routine” one. However, when asked details of the case the SSP said the fact that the SHO had participated in an inquiry into a case registered by the DSP had escaped his attention earlier.

Patiala, December 10
In a serious lapse of judgement, the Patiala police deputed a DSP to investigate a complaint against a Station House Officer (SHO) who had earlier been instrumental in recommending the cancellation of an FIR registered by the DSP against relatives of his landlords.

The SHO, against whom a criminal case had been registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act as well as Section 342 (hurting religious sentiments), 295 (A) and 506 nearly one week ago was suspended from service today. This information was given by district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal when contacted on the issue.

Earlier, the SHO had visited the premises taken on rent by the DSP in Rajpura where relatives of the landlord had allegedly indulged in vandalism by breaking open the lock of the main gate and smashed light bulbs.

His report based upon inquiries made in the neighbourhood had held the report to be false. The SHO had also alleged that the DSP had registered the FIR with a view to taking possession of the property.

The SSP when asked as to how a senior police officer could be appointed to hold an inquiry into a complaint against a junior who had himself submitted an inquiry report against him, said the matter was a “routine” one.

However, when asked details of the case the SSP said the fact that the SHO had participated in an inquiry into a case registered by the DSP had escaped his attention earlier. He said he was transferring the case in DSP (City - 1) today itself. Saying that the police had not acted in a partisan manner in the case, he said there were other complaints also against the SHO which were also being investigated. He also disclosed that he had himself ordered an inquiry into the case relating to the SHO when one Karnail Singh approached him and disclosed that the SHO had kept him in illegal custody and took Rs 35,000 a bribe from his family members to set him free.

The SSP may think it normal to get an inquiry of an SHO conducted by the DSP (Detective) but the DSP, Rajpura, under whom the SHO functioned, clearly does not. DSP, Rajpura Pritpal Singh Thind when contacted said normally a complaint of such a nature against an SHO in his area should have come to him.

He also confirmed that SHO Balwinderpal had gone personally to the premises taken on rent by DSP Rajinderpal to verify the allegations made by the police officer and found them to be false. When asked whether he had taken up the matter with the SSP, he said he had remained silent because it was the prerogative of the SSP to take a final decision on policing matters in the district.

Balwinderpal Sharma when contacted said his only fault was that he had recommending the cancellation of a false case. He said the case was pending in a court now for cancellation after it had been given the nod by then DSP (Detective) as well as the SP (Detective).

DSP Rajinderpal when contacted for his comments on whether it was proper for him to have investigated the matter, said the SSP knew about the matter and was looking into the case himself.

He further went on to say that the matter was now being investigated by DSP (City - One) and that he did not have any concern with it. He refused to elaborate further on the issue.


Hearing in Giani Kewal Singh case adjourned
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 10
Giani Kewal Singh, former Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, and his son Baljinder Singh today failed to secure bail as the Additional Session Judge, Mr Jaspal Singh, today adjourned the hearing to January 28, 2003, in the dowry death case registered against them at police station, Talwandi Sabo, after recording the evidence of complainant Amarjit Singh.

Mr Amarjit Singh, whose sister Sharanjit Kaur was married to Baljinder Singh, said the Punjab and Haryana High Court had given a direction that Giani Kewal Singh and his son should be given bail after the recording of evidence of the complainant. He added that since he was yet to be cross-examined by the defence side, the evidence in the case was incomplete.

Mr Amarjit Singh, who deposed before the court, stated that Sharanjit Kaur died under mysterious circumstances in 1997. During Mr Amarjit Singh’s deposition Giani Kewal Singh, Baljinder Singh and the third accused, Bibi Joginder Kaur, were present in the court.

Before the Additional Session Judge called both parties for the recording of evidence Giani Kewal Singh and others were kept in “bakshi khana”, where he was allowed to meet his kin and others.

Mr Amarjit Singh had knocked at the door of the Punjab and Haryana High Court when he alleged that he was being denied justice by the police authorities. The then police authorities were trying to hush up the matter by dubbing it as a suicide case, he alleged. The body of Sharanjit Kaur was found floating in the sarovar of Likhan Sar Gurdwara.

Mr Amarjit Singh has already approached the district police authorities for getting security as he feared threat to his life.


Lensman’s death: murder case registered 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 10
Even as the police has registered a murder case in connection with the death of a photographer yesterday it is contemplating taking action against the owner of the marriage palace where the incident happened.

The police has conducted raids at houses of relatives of the accused, who is still at large.

Mr Parampal Singh Teja, DSP, stated that the police was thinking of taking action against the owner of Rajindra Garden (marriage palace where incident happened). He said when the accused was firing in the air under the influence of liquor he should have informed the police. The DSP said the police had rounded up some relatives of the accused for further investigations.

Dr S.K. Kalia, SP (Headquarters), confirmed that the case had been converted into a murder case under the IPC and the Arms Act.

Meanwhile, the body was handed over to his family after a postmortem examination here today.


EPF scam: arrest of engineers ‘imminent’
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 10
The arrest of some engineers in a case related to the Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scam, which took place in the Ropar Thermal Plant (RTP) from 1997 to 1999, is imminent, police sources said here today.

The anti-fraud cell of the local police on December 4 had recorded the statements of 12 engineers and a senior chemist working at the plant in connection with the EPF scam. The names of these officers had been supplied to the police by the thermal plant authorities in the first list of 31 engineers and chemists in connection with the EPF scam case, registered against Deepak Chada, proprietor of M/s Calcutta Construction Company, on February 19, 2000.

In this case, it was alleged that the labour contractor, Chada, embezzled about Rs 50 lakh from the EPF of the labourers engaged by him during the 30-month period (1997-99). The engineers and the chemist, whose statements were recorded on December 4, reportedly executed the work orders at the plant and verified the bills of the labour contractor during the period by allegedly ignoring a clause of the contract agreement.

The sources said the arrest of some engineers was almost certain, adding that the police would arrest those officers who had finally verified the bills of the labour contractor to make payments to the same. The sources said the police was examining the statements of the engineers and other records related to the EPF scam. With regard to the involvement of the EPF authorities, the sources said the authorities concerned of the office of the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Chandigarh, would also be involved in the investigation.

The police on December 4 had recorded the statements of three senior executive engineers, namely Mr B.P. Singla, Mr S.S. Pahwa and Mr Labh Singh, nine assistant executive engineers, namely Mr R.K. Mahajan, Mr R.K. Saini, Mr H.S. Sukhija, Mr S.J. Chaubey, Mr B.S. Multani, Mr C.S. Saini, Mr Balwant Singh, Mr Girdhari Lal Gupta and Mr V.K. Aggarwal, and a senior chemist, Mr R.K. Dhawan.

With regard to the recording of statements of engineers from the second list of 110 engineers, the sources said as the case was being handled by the local sadar police station, the investigating officer would do his job separately. The list of 110 engineers pertains to Sodhi Erectors, a labour contractor.


Amritsar shivers at 4°C

Chandigarh, December 10
A cold wave swept the north-west region for the second consecutive day today with icy north-westerlies blowing across the region, dipping the mercury by several degrees.

Rohtak and Narnaul in Haryana and Amritsar in Punjab, reporting the lows of 3.7° and 4° were the coldest places in the plains.

The minimum in and around Chandigarh dipped by 2°C-6°C. The minimum in Patiala fell by 3°C-5.4°C while Ludhiana reported 6.7°C.

In Srinagar the minimum temperature yesterday plummeted to five degrees below normal, following last weekend’s 10 to 20 cm snowfall at Hadan Daj and Markian reaches of the Peer Panjal range of mountains. However, people had some respite overnight as the minimum rose to 2.2°C.

Jammu reported the low of 9.4°C, one degree below normal. Delhiites too shivered under the low of 6.4°C at Safdarjung and 4.9°C at Palam, about three degrees below normal.

Shimla and its surrounding areas were hotter with the minimum hovering around 8.5°C, five degrees above normal. However, Bhuntar, Mandi and Manali were colder reporting lows of 1.2°C, 0.5°C and 0.8°C, respectively. UNI


Hectic lobbying for municipal elections
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 10
Hectic lobbying has began in Congress circles here for the municipal elections.

The morale of Congress leaders seems high following the party’s landslide victory in the recent panchayat elections. Mr Rakesh Gupta Pammi, newly appointed president of the local Congress unit, has announced that a rally would be held on December 12. It was likely to be addressed by Mr H.S. Hanspal, PPCC chief, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Mr Khushal Behal, Punjab ministers, Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA, Pathankot, and other senior leaders.

Though Congress leaders profess unity, the recent functions organised by loyalists of Mrs Bhinder and Mr Ashwani Kumar, member of the Rajya Sabha, saw both leaders keeping away from each other’s functions.

Sources say almost all senior Congress leaders are in Gujarat for compaigning.

Interestingly, a majority of ticket seekers for the municipal elections attended the functions of both factions and are eager to show loyalty to both leaders.

Loyalists of both groups claim proximity to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh and PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal.


MC poll: panels to select SAD candidates
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
The district unit of SAD held a meeting here yesterday to chalk out a programme for the municipal council elections here.

An 11-member committee has been formed to select the contestants for the poll. The members of the committee include the district President, Mr Sikander Singh, former minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, and MLAs Mr Gura Singh Twngwali and Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, besides others. Mr Om Parkash Sharma, district press secretary of the party, today said that candidates for the other municipal councils in the district would also be selected by the committees.

The candidates who are to contest for the municipal council of Sangat Mandi, Goniana mandi, Raman Mandi, Bhucho mandi, Maur mandi, Kotfatta and Rampura Phul would be selected by these committees. 


Petition of MLAs to come up on December 12
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
Taking up a petition filed by Dr Rattan Singh and seven other MLAs seeking directions for the registration of a first information report against Punjab minister Lal Singh, member of Parliament Shamsher Singh Dullo, besides former minister Balmukand Sharma and Lakhmir Singh Randhawa, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the filing of a short affidavit.

Pronouncing the orders, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Viney Mittal, also fixed December 12 as the next date of hearing in the case. Acting on another petition seeking the revamping of the Punjab Vigilance Department, the Judges fixed the same date.

In their petition, the MLAs had earlier claimed that the FIR should be registered on the basis of findings and recommendations of the Lok Pal in its reports. Directions for investigating the matter before submitting the challan in Court of competent jurisdiction were also sought, along with directions for prosecuting the four in accordance with the law.

The MLAs had added that the investigation in the matter should be conducted by an independent agency and by officers of integrity as the “present set-up of the Punjab Vigilance Department did not inspire confidence and its functioning had been adversely commented upon by the High Court’s former Chief Justice.”

Going into the background of the case, the petitioners had asserted that the Lok Pal, acting on a number of complaints alleging misconduct, had submitted separate reports “indicting” four Congress ministers of the Beant Singh government for misconduct and abuse of power. The petitioners added that the Lok Pal had also recommended the registration of cases under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code, against the leaders.

Arguing on their behalf, counsel for the petitioners had stated that separate representations were sent to the Chief Director of Punjab Vigilance seeking the registration of cases. Legal notices were also sent to the respondents but the government failed to act.

Counsel had concluded that “inaction on part of the respondents in registering the cases and not starting investigation against the four amounted to grave dereliction of statutory duty. Just because they belonged to the Congress party, an effort was being made to shield them due to mala fide political reasons contrary to the requirement of law”.

In the other petition, the MLAs had stated that revamping should be done by posting competent officers of integrity who would discharge their duties in a fair and objective manner regardless of political pressure or the status of the accused. Claiming that the former Chief Justice had adversely commented upon the department’s functioning, they had added that the officials were currently working to suit the whims and fancies of the ruling party and the Chief Minister. Some of the officers were themselves tainted, the petitioners had alleged.


IG gets 6 months to complete probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 10
In just over 12 years after a Patiala resident was accused of being involved in a case regarding the disappearance of her daughter-in-law, Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Punjab’s Inspector General of Police (Crime) to finalise the investigation in the case as expeditiously as possible.

Delivering the verdict on a petition filed by mother-in-law Gurnam Kaur and others seeking the quashing of a first information report registered on August 20, 1992, under Sections 364 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, Mr Justice Mittal added that the IGP should complete the probe “in any case within six months” of receiving the order’s copy.

In his detailed order, the judge added: "The petitioners, in the meantime, would not be called to any police station unless the investigating agency finds conclusive evidence of their involvement in the crime”.

The FIR, it may be recalled, was registered at Civil Lines police station on the basis of a complaint lodged by Mr Gurdial Singh alleging the disappearance of his daughter Paramjit Kaur.

Seeking the quashing of the case, counsel for the petitioners had contended that the mother-in-law and others had been falsely implicated in the matter and had been suffering ever since the case was registered.


Spurt in crime: SAD MLAs voice concern
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 10
Mr Balbir Singh Miani and Mr Des Raj Dhugga, SAD MLAs from Tanda and Garhdiwala segments of the district, respectively, jointly alleged here today that the law and order situation in Hoshiarpur was going from bad to worse. They said members of the “kale kachhewale” gang had struck Khun Khun Khurd and Mand Bhandiar villages in Dasuya subdivision, besides Dashmesh Nagar and New Tagore Nagar localities of the city last week. The gang members had killed the wife of a BSF jawan, a couple and injured at least 12 persons, besides looting jewellery, cash and other valuables from these places.

None of the persons responsible for these incidents had been arrested, they alleged. They demanded compensation for the kin of the deceased and financial assistance for the injured.

Mr Miani alleged that smack smugglers were active in the Tanda area these days and there was no check on their activities.

Both MLAs criticised the Capt Amarinder Singh government for its alleged failure to carry on the development activities which were started during the SAD-BJP regime. They alleged that the state government had not even cleared arrears of farmers. Both leaders said the condition of almost all link roads in their segments was deplorable, obstructing the smooth flow of traffic.

Referring to the recent attack by followers of Baba Ashutosh, head of the Noormahalia sect, on Jarnail Singh, member of the Khalsa Panchayat, his sons and gurdwara sevadars at Bharta Gaheshpur village, they demanded a ban on the functioning of such deras and the arrest of Baba Ashutosh.

The leaders alleged that the Punjab Government had failed to provide monthly diesel and petrol for vehicles of MLAs. Mr Miani and Mr Dhugga said 500 litres of diesel and 300 litres of petrol per vehicle per month had been prescribed by the state government for the vehicles of MLAs.

They said none of the MLAs had been given even a single litre of diesel or petrol for the purpose since May, 2002, despite repeated requests to the authorities concerned. They said it was also prescribed that new vehicles had to be given to those MLAs whose vehicles had covered 2 lakh km.


Permission for jatha to Kabul sought
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, December 10
The president of the International Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society has sought permission to take a jatha comprising 100 members to Afganistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and other neighbouring countries via Wagha.

In a letter written to Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee today he stated that since there was not agency/organisation to prepare a detailed report on the condition of gurdwaras, hence a jatha. may be allowed so that a blueprint on the gurdwara may be prepared.

Underlying the condition of gurdwara in Afganistan the president of the society said there were 13 gurdwaras in the country of which only six were in good condition while all others had been demolished during the recent US attacks on the Taliban.

He added that historical gurdwaras in other Arab countries also needed repairs.


Ardas for jailed Sikh youths
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 10
To commemorate Human Rithts Day, the Khalra Commission today performed ardas at Akal Takht for the release of hundreds of Sikh youths languishing in jails for the past 18 years.

The general secretary of the commission, Mr Balwinder Singh Chabal, in a press note issued here today, lashed out at former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his alleged failure to secure the release of Sikh youths who had been jailed without a trial. He blamed Mr Badal for not honouring the directions of the Akal Takht Jathedar in this regard.

The Khalra Commission also criticised Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee for not heeding the appeals of the families of these detainees. The commission made an appeal to the Akal Takht Jathedar to exhort the Sikh community to work out a plan for the early release of these youths.

The commission also requested the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to establish a “shaheed parivar fund” for the rehabilitation of victims of police atrocities. The Khalra Commission sought answers to seven questions from Mr Badal, including why he failed to implement the directions of the Akal Takht for the release of the Sikh youths.

The commission sought an explanation from Mr Badal for allowing “havan yajna” in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib, seeking blessings from Chandraswami and allowing his wife to attend a congregation of Ashutosh Maharaj.


Kanwaljit meets jailed ex-ministers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 10
The General Secretary of the SAD and former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today ruled out any compromise with the SHSAD headed by former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, terming him as an agent of the Congress. He met former Akali ministers Ajit Singh Kohar and Jagdish Singh Garcha at the local Central Jail. He assured them that the Akali Dal would provide them all legal assistance.


Safai karamcharis dump dirt
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), December 10
Safai karamcharis of the Nangal Municipal Council dumped dirt in front of the residences of council President Ranjit Singh Saini and Sanitary Inspector Gurmail Singh this evening, despite the presence of the police. At least 50 safai karamcharis dumped dirt and raised slogans against the council authorities. The police officials present on duty remained mute spectators to the episode.

The karamcharis had been protesting in front of the council office since morning against the suspension of their president, Kaushal Kumar. The president was suspended recently by the council by passing a resolution in the House on the charge of claiming fake TA/DA bills.

Earlier, the protesting workers, who said the charge against the president was fabricated, allegedly tried to attack the Sanitary Inspector. He saved himself by hiding in the office of the Executive Officer of the council. The karamcharis then proceeded towards the Sutlej Sadan rest house of the BBMB, where Deputy Commissioner Seema Jain was holding a meeting with the council authorities.

When representatives of the union met the Deputy Commissioner, she assured to look into their grievance and requested them to resume their duty.

However, the assurance of the Deputy Commissioner failed to pacify the protesting karamcharis, who then gheraoed the house of the senior vice-president of the council, Ms Harminder Kaur Minhas. Later, they threw dirt in front of the two houses.

Council President Ranjit Singh Saini alleged that the karamcharis were trying to hold the council to ransom. He said their president, Kaushal Kumar, did not perform his duty regularly and had claimed fake TA/DA bills, due to which the council had decided to suspend him.

The mode of protest adopted by the safai karamcharis was illegal and a report in this regard had been given to the local police, Mr Saini said.


Wall made to divide the dead
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 10
At Nangal Majha, 7 km from here, a fortnight-old dispute over the dead was today resolved with the construction of a wall at the cremation ground to divide the dead.

When this correspondent visited the village today, the wall to divide the cremation ground for the Jats and Ad-dharmis (Dalits) was nearing completion. Leaders of both communities were present.

Ms Surjit Kaur, sarpanch of the village and a Dalit, told this correspondent that though the Dalits had been cremating their dead at the cremation ground for decades, the Jats insisted on using the same even though they had a separate crematorium.

However, village elder Jagir Singh claimed that the same cremation ground had been used by both Jats and “Ad-dharmis since partition. The dispute was regrettable, he said.


Action against NRI husband sought
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 10
An NRI woman, Mrs Monica Sharma, of Phillaur has urged the chairman of the Punjab NRI cell and Human Rights Commission, Punjab, to take action against her NRI husband and in-laws, who are residents of Phagwara, for torturing her physically and mentally. She was assaulted by her husband and in-laws after being told by a tantrik that a son would be born to her only after she gave birth to seven daughters.

Her father Surinder Sharma of Phillaur told newspersons here today that Monica was married to England based Munish Shukla on January 26, 1996. He said the couple had two daughters. He added that Monica returned to India in September and had been residing at Phagwara.

Her husband and his mother Asha returned to India on November 15 and beat her up mercilessly. She was admitted to Phagwara Civil Hospital in a serious condition.

Munish and his mother Asha Rani were arrested under various Sections of the IPC but were released on bail after 19 days, according to Dr Surinder Sharma. He alleged that both have started intimidating them. They have urged the authorities concerned to look into the matter.


Work on railway line starts
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 10
The construction work on the Mukerian-Pathankot railway line, started today after performing yajnas.

Mr V.K. Kaul, C.A.O., Northern Railway, Chief Engineer Ajay Sharma, Deputy Chief Engineer P.K. Garg and other senior officials of the Railways were present on the occasion.

According to Mr Satish Mohindru of the National Construction Company, the work would be completed within five years.


Rail link electrified
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 10
The electrification of the railway track between Ludhiana and Phillaur has been completed and it would be carried out between Phillaur and Phagwara within this month. Railway sources said here today that a goods train with an electric engine had a trial run between Ludhiana and Phillaur.

Electrification work on the track between Ludhiana and Amritsar would be completed by the end of March next year, the sources added.


Soldier cremated
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, December 10
The mortal remains of Sepoy Sukhjinder Singh of 30 RR Battalion, who was killed while fighting militants at Jama village in Kupwara district of Jammu and Kashmir on December 6, was today consigned to flames with military honours at his native village Aalamwala today. Sukhjinder Singh had joined the Army in 1998.

A large number of people from several villages assembled at the cremation ground to pay homage to the jawan.

Mr A. Venu Parsad, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar (additional charge), Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Lt-Col S.S. Jaiswal placed wreaths on the body. 


Missing boy returns home
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 10
Mithilesh Gupta, a class VII student who had disappeard from the local Play Way High School after being caught stealing money from the bag of a teacher, was today brought home by a stall owner from Ludhiana.

The student had been living with Babloo, ever since he ran away from school on December 6. Babloo convinced the boy to return home after reading about his disappearance from Patiala through newspapers.


Engineers’ body seeks clarification
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 10
Even as the PSEB management has tried to control the damage inflicted on its reputation by appointing Mr Padamjit Singh as Chief Engineer, Enforcement, after his removal from the post of Chief Engineer (Systems operation), PSEB engineers refuse to dump the issue.

Mr Harnek Singh Jassal, regional secretary of a PSEB engineers’ association, in a statement issued here today, said the management had not clarified that why the MoU signed with the Power Trading Corporation (after the non-compliance of MoU dated 21-10-2002 with the KERPL), which was duly ratified by the board and approved by the Punjab Government, had been superseded?

He said there should be no political interference in the working of the board. He added that the much-awaited HVDC link for transferring 500 MW of surplus power from the Eastern Grid, in which Punjab’s share was 100 MW, had not been commissioned.


BBMB daily-wage workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 10
Daily-wage workers of the BBMB today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Chief Engineer (Irrigation) at Nangal today and demanded regularisation of their service. At least 100 workers, who have been working for the BBMB on a daily-wage basis for more than a decade, also put up a tent outside the office and said they would not lift the dharna till their demands were met.

Union leaders of the workers alleged that they were employed by the BBMB for only seven months in a year. During their employment period every year, they carried out maintenance of the BBMB canal.

However, despite their long service, they were not being employed on a regular basis by the organisation. The contract workers demanded that even if the organisation could not regularise their service, the labourers should be employed throughout the year.

They said though the BBMB terminated their service, many other works, such as painting of canal gates, were got done by the organisation on contract. The daily-wage workers should be employed to get those works done, they demanded.

The Chief Engineer (Irrigation), BBMB, Mr D.S. Notra, when asked to comment on the matter, said the service of the daily-wager workers could not be regularised as they were employed for specific jobs and for a specific time period.


DC raps Nangal MC authorities
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 10
The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, today reprimanded the Nangal Municipal Council authorities for trying to purchase laboratory tables for the Shivalik College of Pharmacy at exorbitant prices. Sources said the Deputy Commissioner reprimanded the council authorities at a meeting held in Nangal to review various development works being undertaken in the town. The council authorities are allegedly in the process of purchasing laboratory tables for the college at exorbitant prices to the tune of Rs 1 lakh a piece from Baroda.

Ms Jain said she had received a complaint regarding the purchase. The council authorities have been directed to submit a status report regarding the purchase. They have also been directed against making purchases without calling competitive bid.


2.97 lakh theft at SDO’s office
Tribune News Service

Raman Mandi (Bathinda), December 10
A sum of Rs 2.97 lakh and cheques for more than Rs 4 lakh were stolen from the office of the SDO, Punjab State Electricity Board, last night.

Police sources said Rs 2,97,344 and cheques for Rs 4,10,654 were stolen from the office, despite the fact that the watchman was present on the premises.

Prior to this incident, thieves had stolen money from the offering boxes of three gurdwaras in Jajjal, Malkana and Ramsra villages. A case in this connection has been registered at the local police station under Sections 457 and 380 of the IPC.


700 kg of poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 10
The city police seized 20 bags of poppy husk, weighing 700 kg, from a truck here today. A police party led by an SHO intercepted the truck near the new grain market here during a nakabandi.

Gurdeep Singh resident of Alike village in Haryana was arrested in this connection. His two accomplices Tarsem Singh and Tari of Alike were able to escape. A case has been registered under various sections of the NDPS Act. The accused were remanded in policy custody.


Plea to start course on Punjabi culture
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 10
The Punjabi Overseas Cultural Association, Canada, has urged the Punjab Government to introduce a special course in educational institutions of the state to promote Punjabi culture. This was stated by Mr Satwant Singh Boparai, vice-president of the association, while talking to this reporter here today.

He said there was a need to check the harmful influence of Western culture on the young generation.

The NRI, who is here to attend the three-day zonal competitions of folk songs, music, painting, etc. jointly organised by the Punjab Government and the overseas association, also laid stress on checking the commercialisation of Punjabi culture.

He said a four-member team comprising himself, Mr Manjit Singh Bondi, Mr Mukand Singh Pandher and Mr Jaswinder Singh Waraich would watch the final programme at Patiala on January 23 to select troupes for presenting Punjabi cultural programmes abroad. He promised to give adequate funds to the state government for the same.

Mr Boparai said a meeting of his association would be held is Toronto in the second week of March to prepare a detailed programme for the promotion of Punjabi culture.

The state government and the overseas association have jointly created five zones — Amritsar, Jalandhar, Patiala, Ludhiana and Faridkot — and are holding competitions to promote talent in the state.


Lok virsa academy’ suggested
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 10
A three-day zonal competition of folk dances, music, and painting organised by Punjab in collaboration with the Punjabi Overseas Cultural Association, Canada, to promote Punjabi culture at the national and international level, began at the local Government Brijindra College yesterday. More than 500 artistes from Bathinda, Mansa, Muktsar and Faridkot are participating in the contest.

Addressing an impressive gathering, Prof Raj Pal Singh, Adviser, Culture Affairs, Punjab, mooted a ‘lok virsa academy’ to preserve Punjabi culture.

Five teams each of folk orchestra, giddha and bhangra will be selected in each zone during the programme. The final team will be chosen at a state-level function to be held at Patiala for two days on January 23 and 24. Each winning team will be awarded a cash prize of Rs 50,000. The finalists will be given Rs 1.50 lakh each.

Earlier, Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, who inaugurated the function.

Welcoming the guests and participants, Dr H.S. Punia, Principal of the college, said students of this institution had won a trophy and other prizes at the Zonal Youth Festival of Punjabi University, Patiala, held recently. As many as youths of 22 colleges took part.

Prof Jai Pal, youth coordinator, also spoke.


Students caught taking liquor in hostel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 10
In a raid conducted by the Warden, Assistant Warden and other staff members of Guru Nanak Dev University, three hostlers were caught while they were consuming liquor in a hostel room late last evening.

Sources said Loveneet Singh, Robin Sharma and Navpreet Bajwa, students of B.Tech (Computer), fifth semester, were caught from a room in hostel No. 2. The raiding party also seized objectionable items from the hostel. The students were medically examined by Dr Sunil Gupta and Chief Security Officer S.S. Chinna.

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