Friday, December 20, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Govt to raise Bathinda refinery issue at NDC meeting
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
What will be the fate of the prestigious Bathinda oil refinery project in wake of the Union Government’s decision to put Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL) on the chopping block?

This question has rattled the Punjab Government. Sources said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh would take up this issue forcefully at the National Development Council meeting on December 21 to be presided over by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi.

Earlier, in September, 2001, the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had taken up this issue with the Prime Minister following reports that private vested interests had forced the Oil Ministry to go “ slow on this project”. The PM had then ordered to gear up work at the project. But latest developments regarding the HPCL disinvestment has totally changed the scenario thus putting the future of the refinery project at stake.

Capt Amarinder Singh, according to official sources, wanted that the Union Government should categorically assure that the project would not be scrapped in any case and completed by its due date ie December, 2005. Another assurance he wanted that the disinvestment in the HPCL, which had conceived, planned and now executing the refinery project, would not affect it in any manner.

The foundation stone of the project was laid down about three years ago by Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee when the SAD-BJP Government was in power.

The Bathinda refinery, with a capacity of nine million tonnes, to be installed at a cost of Rs 10,000 crore has been projected by the the SAD-BJP Government as one of the biggest investments made at the Union Government level in Punjab. When contacted on the phone in New Delhi, Mr M.A. Tankiwala, General Manager of the project, told The Tribune that he was unable to say anything “I am not aware whether the HPCL’s equity will be off-loaded to Indian PSUs or private corporate houses will also be allowed to compete to buy the stake”, he added.

Though the Union Government has not made it clear whether Indian corporate houses and PSUs will be allowed to bid for HPCL’s equity, Reliance, a major player in the Indian oil sector, has already made its intention known to buy the major stake in the HPCL. A number of PSUs such as the ONGC, IFFCO, Gas Authority of India Limited( GAIL) are also ready to participate in the bid. In fact, the ONGC has already submitted a request to the Oil Ministry for allowing it to participate in the bid and its request is expected to be forwarded to the Cabinet Committee on Disinvestment.

Mr Tankiwala said he was going ahead as per the scheduled programme on the Bathinda refinery project. Almost the entire infrastructure had been created. The HPCL’s subsidiary set up to handle the project has spent about Rs 270 crore at the project city at Phulokhari village, near Bathinda, till date during the current financial year. About Rs 30 crore would be spent more till the end of the financial year.

The Punjab Government is playing the role of a facilitator by providing infrastructure such as roads, water etc in this project through the Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation. It is not known that how much share the Punjab Government is expected to put in its equity but it is being said that the ratio decided earlier was 74:26 with the HPCL playing the role of a principle investor.

Mr Tankiwala said that the next move would be to buy machinery for the project.


Send plea to Gujarat for probe: BJP
Punjab ministers’ conduct
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
With a view to making the reported involvement of certain Punjab ministers in a sex scandal an issue in the coming municipal elections, the BJP today urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh (retd), to formally send a request to the Gujarat Government for probing this matter to bring out the truth.

In a statement issued here today, the BJP said a detailed meeting on this issue was held by senior leaders of the party. State BJP President Brij Lal Rinwa, presided over the meeting. Mr Avinash Jaiswal, General Secretary of the party, who also attended the meeting, said the reported involvement of the Congress ministers in the episode had not only defamed the Congress but also brought disrepute to the state.

The BJP has urged the Chief Minister that pending an inquiry into the matter, he should ask these ministers to resign from the Council of Ministers.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, has described as “baseless” news stories appearing in a section of the Press abozt the alleged immoral conduct by some Punjab ministers during their stay in Gujarat.

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone this evening, Mr Singla said the action of those who were getting such “news stories planted in newspapers” was highly condemnable.

“By doing so they were doing great damage not only to their own government and the Congress but also to the state. The Chief Minister must identify such elements and take punitive action against them.

“In fact, planting a baseless story amounts to a criminal act. I was also in Gujarat. I made enquiries and everyone in Ahmedabad and other places appreciated and praised the conduct of Punjab Congressmen, including ministers. There is not an iota of truth in what is being said about the ministers,” said Mr Singla, corroborating what Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said at his news conference yesterday. UNI

Birdevinder’s denial

Mr Birdevinder Singh, Congress MLA from Kharar, said today that he had not made any statement seeking action against any Punjab minister for his inappropriate behaviour in Gujarat. There was no question of seeking action when “I have no knowledge of any such incident”.

The statement was wrongly attributed to him, he claimed. “It is true that I met Ms Mohsina Kidwai in Delhi early this week but that was to discuss the election strategy pertaining to Himachal Pradesh with her and nothing pertaining to the Punjab Government was discussed at that meeting”. He has requested the Chief Minister to hold a probe as it appeared to be a deep-rooted conspiracy to destabilise the Punjab Government by planting “ absurd stories” in the media.


Bibi snaps ties with ‘tainted’ nephew

Jalandhar, December 19
Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Bibi Jagir Kaur severed ties with her nephew today, barely a day after the police charged him with masterminding the kidnapping of a schoolboy.

Bibi Jagir Kaur told reporters here that she would now have no connection with her nephew, Sarabjit Singh.

She said Sarabjit, who was absconding, should not be shielded by anyone and should be immediately handed over to the police.

The police has arrested two persons in connection with the kidnapping of Gurvinder Singh, alias Babloo.

Claiming total ignorance of Sarabjit’s activities, she said he used to learn “kirtan” at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district and it was only after the kidnapping and rescue of Babloo that she came to know of the incident.

Babloo and his mother were also present at the news conference today. The schoolboy was kidnapped by two scooter-borne youths on Thursday last and was rescued by the Delhi police yesterday from the kidnappers who had demanded a ransom of Rs 20 lakh for his safe release.

Those arrested with the child were identified as Gurvinder Singh Laddi of Macchiwara town in Ludhiana and his cousin Rajinder Singh of Sri Hargobindpur in Gurdaspur district.

Bibi Jagir Kaur is incidentally the Chairperson of Sant Prem Singh Public School at Begowal where Babloo studies. 


Snap ties with BJP: Dayal to Badal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 19
The Punjab CPI secretary, Dr Joginder Dayal, today declared that the party would contest elections of 87 nagar councils and nagar panchayats on January 23 next year, but not on the party symbol.

Talking to newsman at Bhabiana village, 15 km from here, Dr Dayal said they would have an electoral understanding with parties committed to combating social evils like drugs, dowry and foeticide. He called upon the left forces to unite.

Dr Dayal asked former CM and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal to snap ties with the BJP in view of the Hindutva card it had played in Gujarat if he wanted the identity of Sikhs to remain intact.

He alleged that the CM was adopting a selective approach in his drive against corruption. Why were only Akalis being targeted and BJP leaders not being touched, asked the CPI leader. The Congress government in Punjab had not implemented any poll promise, alleged Dr Dayal.

There was neither transparency, nor governance nor development, he said.


Take action against Badal: forum
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
Capt Chanan Singh Sidhu, president of the Sikh Forum, Punjab, has said that the forum, with the assistance of other Sikh organisations, will take up the issue of punishing Mr Prakash Singh Badal, former Chief Minister of Punjab, for his alleged role in the Sikh-Nirankari clash in 1978. The issue will be discussed with the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, early next week.

He said if no action was taken in the matter, they would perform kar sewa by dusting shoes, cleansing langar utensils and cleaning the ‘parkarma’ at the Golden Temple wearing black clothes to show their resentment. Replying to a querry, he said if their demand was not met they would go to the Sikh masses and start a morcha.

Taking note of the recent revelations made by former SGPC chief, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, regarding the involvement of former Chief Minister Badal in the Sikh-Nirankari clash, which resulted in the massacre of 13 Sikhs, he said it had come as a shock to the Sikh masses. He claimed that the disclosure by Mr Talwandi that the Nirankari chief was safely transported out of Punjab by a person not less than a Sikh Chief Minister in an official car provided by the state government after the clash had been fully endorsed by the then Chief Investigating Officer of the Police, Mr Anoop Singh. This strengthened the belief that SAD President Badal had conspired with the Nirankaris and was responsible for the killings of Sikhs on Baisakhi in 1978, he added. The tragedy could have been averted had the Akali government acted prudently and not allowed Nirankaris to assemble at Amritsar in large numbers, Captain Sidhu stated.

He said it was a fact that the incident in 1978 provided a base for the rise of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, militancy and later the attack on the Golden Temple by the Indian Army. He said the incident sparked off violence that continued for more than a decade in the state.

Refuting the charges of his involvement with the present government, he said their organisation was a non-political forum and had no links with the government. He said he had never met Capt Amarinder Singh. The recently concluded annual election of the SGPC was a rare election in which no clash among members was reported, he said.


Capt better Sikh: Talwandi
Tribune News Service

Brahaman Majra (Ropar), December 19
Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, a former president of the SGPC, expelled from the SAD recently, said today that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, a better Sikh than Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD. He added that he did not accept Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht.

Mr Talwandi said Capt Amarinder Singh had resigned from the Congress and the membership of Parliament in protest against “Operation Bluestar” on Sri Harmandar Sahib in 1984. Also, Capt Amarinder Singh did not send the police in the Golden Temple Complex on the occasion of SGPC election in November this year whereas Mr Badal had entered the Golden Temple Complex several times along with his commandos.

Mr Talwandi said when he did not consider Jathedar Vedanti as Akal Takht Jathedar so how he could not urge him to summon Mr Badal at Sri Akal Takht allegedly for taking the then Nirankari Chief Gurbachan Singh in an official vehicle out of Punjab after the killing of 13 Sikhs on the Baisakhi day in 1978 in Amritsar during the Badal regime. Mr Talwandi also stated that he had also opposed Jathedar Vedanti as Akal Takht Jathedar in the past several times.

Mr Talwandi was here to participate in a religious function in the local gurdwara on the occasion of Shaheedi Jor Mela.

To a question, Mr Talwandi said he had been feeling suffocated in the SAD and after his expulsion from it he was a freeman. He said the SAD had no leader of stature. Besides, many of them were corrupt.

Mr Talwandi said he was making efforts for an alternative to the SAD to the Sikhs on the lines of the Akali Dal set up in 1920. He said in his set up those dedicated to the Panth and had faith in Guru Granth Sahib would be included.


Coal position at thermal plant critical
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 19
The coal stock position at the Bathinda thermal plant has turned critical with only four days of stock left even as the Punjab State Electricity Board has shut down one unit at the plant and another at the Ropar plant with the Railways in no mood to lift its unofficial ban on the supply of coal to the Board's plants because of the non-payment of dues.

Sources said that the coal stock position at the Bathinda plant was pegged at 37,830 metric tonnes which was expected to last four days. At Ropar the position was not much better with the coal stock of 1.25 lakh tonnes enough to last only eight days. Lehra Mohabbat has a coal stock of 1.13 lakh tonnes which amounts to nearly 16 days’ supply.

The board has closed unit number 3 at Bathinda due to a shortage of coal. One more unit — number four — is closed for repairs. At Ropar one unit has been closed to conserve coal.

Meanwhile, official sources said that power cuts were being imposed throughout the state due to shortage of power. They said 24-hour feeders were being subjected to a cut of eight hours, urban and industrial areas to cut of two hours and rural areas a cut of nearly 10 hours. Peak-load restrictions of three hours had also been enforced in the case of industrial consumers.

The sources said that the PSEB had not made any headway with the Railways on the issue of supply of coal to the plants at Ropar, Bathinda and Lehra Mohabbat. Even though the state government had taken up the matter with Union Railways Minister Nitish Kumar, the supply of coal to the plants was still to normalise.

The Railway authorities had imposed an unofficial ban on the supply of coal by asking its agents not to give its wagons for placement at the pitheads of various coalmines. This tactic was being employed by the Railways to ensure the payment of dues by the PSEB.

While the Railways has claimed Rs 660 crore as dues from the PSEB, the board claims it has to pay only Rs 220 crore. This difference in the calculations is because of the surcharge levied by the Railways on coal supplied to the board, claiming that the board had failed to comply with the condition of keeping Rs 83 crore in advance with the Railways which amounted to the average monthly freight bill of the board.


Badungar to meet Afghan PM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 19
SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar has decided to meet the Afghanistan Prime Minister soon for carrying out kar sewa at Sikh shrines there which had been damaged during the US attack on the Taliban.

A decision to this effect was taken at an executive committee meeting held here today. Mr Badungar said the condition of historical gurdwaras in Afghanistan was pitiable and there was an urgent need to reconstruct them at the earliest. Mr Badungar, however, said the SGPC did not get a satisfactory reply from the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, for taking up the cause of Sikh shrines with his Afghanistan counterpart.

Meanwhile, Mr Badungar held a closed-door meeting with the Akal Takht Jathedar, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and discussed at length the issue of controversial godman Ashutosh Maharaj. Mr Badungar asked Jathedar Vedanti to discuss the matter at the forthcoming meeting of the Sikh clergy. The meeting is proposed to be held at Akal Takht on December 23. He said the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan (DJJS) had been attacking the Sikh religion in various ways which had hurt the sentiments of the Sikh masses.

In yet another development, the SGPC executive expressed concern over the propaganda of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee against the SGPC. Mr Badungar said the SGPC could not accept the existence of the PSGPC at any cost. He said the properties in the name of Sikh shrines in Pakistan were being misused by the PSGPC which had failed to uphold the ‘maryada’ there.


Tota Singh gets challan copies
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 19
The court of the Special Judge here today provided remaining copies of the documents of the challan to Mr Tota Singh, former Punjab Education Minister and a senior SAD leader, in a case registered against him by the Vigilance Bureau at SAS Nagar under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Earlier, some copies of the documents of the challan were supplied to Mr Tota Singh on December 4 by the court.

The challan against Mr Tota Singh was presented by the vigilance in the court on October 26 last.

The counsel of Mr Tota Singh had moved an application on November 23 in the court stating that the copies of the challan papers supplied to Mr Tota Singh, were incomplete and some of them were even illegible.

Mr A.S. Kathuria, Special Judge, today fixed January 17 for arguments.


Garcha seeks bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
Acting on a petition filed by Punjab’s former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha 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 7.

Garcha, booked in a case registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the India Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, is currently lodged at Jalandhar Central Jail.

Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that a false case had been registered against him. He had further submitted that the Congress government was framing cases against its political opponents. The allegations that the employees recruited by Punjab Technical University were from his constituency was also baseless, the counsel added.

Chohan’s petition

Taking up a petition filed by “once self-styled president of Khalistan” Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan seeking directions to the Union of India and the Regional Passport Officer for deciding his application for the grant of passport, a Division Bench of the High Court on Thursday issued notice for February 3 next year.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, Mr Chohan had earlier contended that the application form was submitted on September 25 last year, yet no decision had been taken on the same.
Petitions dismissed Finding no merit, a Division Bench of the High Court on Thursday dismissed a bunch of petitions filed against Baba Farid University of Health Sciences regarding the grant of grace marks.

In one such petition taken up by the Bench headed by Mr Justice J.S. Khehar, MBBS student Shubhra Malhotra had claimed that she had obtained 29 marks in the theory paper whereas the minimum pass marks were 30. Counsel had added that the petitioner had obtained 24 marks out of 40 in practical examinations, though the minimum pass marks were 20. It was added that the question arising for consideration was whether the petitioner was entitled for grace marks or not. 


Thoughtful citizens can change world’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 19
“A small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. There is a need to check the policy of retaliation, which has witnessed large-scale violence and massacre across the globe in the past century, Dr Mitsuo Okamoto, a renowned law expert of Hiroshima Shudo University of Japan, said in his key note address during the inaugural session of global educational conference on culture of peace and non-violence. Dr Mitsuo said during a study conducted in March 1997 for 1006 Americans, 84 per cent of them answered that they would feel safer without nuclear weapons, 87 per cent wanted the USA to negotiate with other nations to eliminate nuclear weapons and 77 per cent thought that the USA was spending too much on the nuclear weapons. Similarly, in Britain, 87 percent expressed the view that their country should negotiate a treaty with other countries eliminate nuclear weapons, he said.

“During a visit to the USA after September 11 terror attack on the World Trade Centre, we met the families of the victims, who were of the view that the war of retaliation may be utilised as a political tool to pacify the excited, angry people. However, a truly democratic leader of a nation should avoid such a Machiavellian method and instead ask the people for restraint and self-reflection in to find a peaceful solution, Dr Okamoto observed. “The only lesson we, the Japanese, have learnt from the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombing, is to observe and preach peace instead of adopting oppressive postures.

The Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Lieut Gen. Surjit Singh, in his address, said there was a need to check the practice of denial of rights to the individuals, which resulted in violence. “Infact, the culture of peace and non-violence can be attained only after addressing the basic issues at grass-roots level.


Complaints of fake votes pour in
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 19
Even as various political parties have started gearing up for Punjab municipal elections to be held on January 23, allegations and complaints of manhandling of workers seem to have started the poll race in this district.

The elections for the seven municipal bodies of Rampura Phul, Bhuchu Mandi, Goniana Mandi, Kotfatta, Sangat, Raman Mandi and Sangat Mandi would be held on January 23 while those of the Bathinda local body could be delayed by up to one year.

The local MLA and Chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, Mr Surinder Singla, is taking a personal interest in getting the municipal corporation status for Bathinda. Sources said the councillors had also passed a resolution in this regard and the proceedings had reached an advanced stage.

However, some member panchayats and sarpanches have been objecting to the creation of a municipal corporation, alleging that it would put additional financial burden on the villagers. But a section of city residents have been demanding that the city be “gifted” with the fifth municipal corporation of the state. They say that it would benefit the government employees who would get an increase in their house rent allowance.

The sources said if the city is granted the status of a corporation, the number of wards would increase to 50 from the present 35. The elections to the local body would have to be delayed, as new voter lists would have to be prepared. The process could take one to two years.

Meanwhile, complaints regarding the registration of ‘fake’ voters have been cropping up and at least one incident involving manhandling of supporters of a political party has also been reported. Some complaints regarding ‘fake’ votes have been reported from Rampura Phul, Raman Mandi and Sangat Mandi and the prospective candidates are trying to get these votes deleted.

Sources in the local office of the Election Commission pointed out that they had started preparing for the local body elections and the voter lists had been finalised. As per the latest census, the population of the city was 2.17 lakh and if the elections for this municipal council were held on January 23 (with other local bodies of the district), as many as 1,55,642 voters would be eligible to exercise their franchise. For 35 wards, 152 polling booths would be set up, the largest in the district.

The second largest local body in the district is that of Rampura Phul, with 33,102 voters at 17 wards and the election authorities have planned to set up 34 polling stations. The total number of registered voters at the Goniana Mandi municipal body is 9,364 and 13 polling booths would be set up for as many wards. The number of registered voters at the Bhuchu Mandi municipal body are 9,355 and 13 polling booths for 13 wards are expected to be set up.

Sangat Mandi had been divided into 11 wards with 3,614 voters for 11 polling stations. Maur Mandi has been divided into 15 wards with 21 polling stations for 19,314 registered voters. Similarly, Raman Mandi has been divided into 13 wards with 15 polling stations and 13,722 voters. The limits of the Kotfatta local body have been increased and the number of polling booths is 11.

Analysts say that the significant increase in the number of registered voters in all the local bodies as compared to the number of registered voters in the last Assembly elections held in February 2002 points out to the prevalence of ‘fake’ voters.

The elections are likely to be fought on such local issues as drinking water, sewerage, sanitation, stray animals and other civic amenities.

Interestingly, allies in the Assembly elections — the Congress and the CPI and in some cases even the SAD and the BJP would be fighting against each other in the municipal elections. The Bahujan Samaj Party, SHSAD and Independents would also contest the poll.

Probe sought into vote deletions
Tribune News Service

Ropar, December 19
A number of residents of this town have been reportedly complaining about the deletion of their names from the voters’ lists prepared for the ensuing Municipal Council elections. They include family members of a candidate who had contested the last Punjab Assembly election on the All-India Forward Bloc party’s ticket of Ward number 6.

In a representation sent to the Punjab State Election Commissioner today, Mr V.P. Saini, the candidate and general secretary of the Punjab unit of the All-India Forward Bloc, has demanded an inquiry into the deletion of votes. He claimed that the names had been deleted with mala fide intentions. He has also demanded action against the “erring” officials and inclusion of their names in the voter list.

Mr Saini said besides him, the names of his wife, mother and father had been deleted from the list though they were the permanent residents of this ward.


Major train mishap averted
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 19
A major tragedy was averted today, thanks to the timely action taken by a guard at the railway station here today, when two trains coming from opposite direction almost collided with each other. The guard of one of the trains released the vacuum forcing the train to stop instantly thus preventing a major tragedy.

Sources in the Railways said, the Ferozepore-bound Ludhiana-Ferozepore passenger train No 7LF which was standing on platform No 5 was supposed to leave at 5.40 p.m. The Ferozepore-bound train started at 5.53 p.m. Meanwhile, another train was coming from Ambala and was heading towards Amritsar. Seeing that another train was coming from the opposite direction, the guard immediately released the vacuum of the Ferozepore-bound train and it came to a screeching halt. The trains were stopped for a couple of hours at the railway station prompting protests from daily passengers. Railway officials said the rail traffic continued smoothly.


Harike reservoir closure put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 19
On orders of Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, the Irrigation Department has postponed the proposed closure of the Harike reservoir to carry out certain repairs. The closure was to be effected in the second week of January. 

This has been done to avoid any disturbance to the migratory birds that have flocked the Harike wetlands in thousands from various parts of the world. Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary, Irrigation and Power, said the Harike closure had been postponed till March.


Community policing centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
The police to make its image people-friendly has launched community policing here. Mr G.S. Sahota, DIG, Border Range today inaugurated a Community Policing Resource Centre in the district courts complex. The DIG said that the new concept would provide single-window redressal cell facility for various problems of the people.

Mr Sahota said that many of the people visit police offices like passport verification, arms licences and for grievances. He said that such centre could be equipped with computers, telephones and a senior SP would be in charge of the one-stop service centre. He pointed out that ADGP Law and Order A.A. Siddiqui has directed to improve the response of the police to the public and has approved Community Policing centres in all six police ranges in the state.

Earlier, the SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, said that the centre would be shifted to a new building being constructed at Sadar Police Station. He said that the centre would have helplines, manned by doctors of the Health Department to take care of the accident cases. The centre would also establish women and children helplines.


Cops turn red-faced over Batalvi function
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
The police here was in embarrassment when the Gurdaspur police arrested Sultan, main organiser of ‘Birha tu Sultan’ function proposed to be organised in the memory of noted Punjabi poet, Shiv Kumar Batalvi, here today. Senior police officials, including the IG, the SSP and SP, were invited to the function, which had to be cancelled at the eleventh hour due to his arrest. Some reporters were also guests of honour on the occasion.

The Gurdaspur police arrested Sultan, alias Rajpal, and his three accomplices on December 16 allegedly for looting, dacoity and vehicle thefts.

Sultan owns ‘Sutlaan Productions’ and used to organise films, TV serials, and modelling and fashion shows etc and used to invite senior police officials for inauguration.

Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, President of the All-India Youth Association, alleged that even some senior police officials had directed their juniors to sell tickets of the show. He alleged that such organisations lure youngsters to make them Mr Punjab or Ms Punjab and harass them.

Dr S.K. Kalia, SP, when contacted refuted all allegations. He said the accused would be punished and any police official found involved would also be punished accordingly.


Leopard trapped, killed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 19
The carcass of a leopard was disposed of by burning by officials of the Forest Department here today.

Carcass of the animal was noticed by children in the forest area of Baruhi village on the boundary of the Dasuya-Hoshiarpur road on December 17 evening.

The sarpanch of Baruhi informed the Hoshiarpur Divisional Forest Officer yesterday who took the carcass into his possession. He had a post-mortem examination of the carcass done. Some miscreants trapped the animal and killed it with sharp-edged weapons. After killing it its nails of paws and teeth were removed.

There was no mark of bullet injury on the carcass. A probe has been ordered into the cause of death of the leopard. An FIR was being registered with the Garhdiwala Police Station in this connection.

Nails and teeth of leopards are used for tantrik practices.


36 pc pensioners found to be bogus

Moga, December 19
About 36 per cent of the pensions granted by the previous SAD-BJP coalition government, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal in Faridkot district have been found to be bogus.

This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner A. Venu Prasad. He said a check the beneficiaries of old age, widow and handicapped pensions in the district, showed that 4,242 out of the 15,386 pensioners were ineligible and 1,647 were absent.

Mr Prasad said the exercise was done as part of the Punjab Government’s drive to weed out ineligible and bogus pensioners. UNI


One more succumbs to injury in blast case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 19
One more person, injured in the explosive blast which rocked a junk dealer’s depot in New Badungar Basti on Tuesday, succumbed to his injuries yesterday in Government Rajindra Hospital, taking the toll to three.

Charanjit, alias Kaka, succumbed to his injuries today even as his father, Ajaypal, is battling for life in hospital. Yesterday one person had died on the spot, while another had succumbed to his injuries on the way to hospital.

Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today announced an ex-gratia payment of Rs 10,000 for next of kin of the deceased as well as Rs 5,000 for the lone person who was injured in the blast.



Patwaris’ stir put off
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 19
Mr Sham Lal Grover, tehsil president, of the Revenue Patwar Union, Punjab, in a statement issued here this evening said that the agitation programme announced by the union had been postponed following assurances by the district authorities that the demands would be met. 

He said that the assurances were given by the Additional Deputy Commissioner and the Deputy Commissioner, at a meeting this evening.


Cops to be computer savy
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 19
To equip itself with the latest information technology tools and to combat the menace of cyber crime the district police has launched a training programme for police personnel.

The objective of the course would be to make the police personnel aware of the utility of computers, as well as the crime criminal information system (CCIS).

Fatehgarh Sahib is the first district to act on the advise of Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to the police to equip itself with information technology.


DC unhappy with MC performance
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 19
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today expressed his dissatisfaction over the performance of the local municipal council.

He said he had convened a meeting of municipal councillors to discuss ways to raise income for the council. He said only eight municipal councillors out of 21 turned up to attend the meeting which showed their lack of interest in the affairs of the council. Even the Executive Officer of the council, Mr T.R. Sharma, did not attend the meeting.

Mr Ahluwalia will visit the municipal wards represented by councillors present at the meeting from December 23 daily to listen to the problems being faced by the people. He said against a target income of Rs 1.5 crore from octroi in the current year, the council was expected to have income of just Rs 70 to 80 lakh. He said the income from octroi had fallen considerably as the council had failed to plug octroi evasion which was taking place either due to lack of supervision or in complicity with officials of the council.

He said the average expenditure of the council was Rs 25 lakh a month as against an income of Rs 23 lakh. The council had to repay certain loans taken from Pension Funds (Rs 79.75 lakh) Provident Fund (Rs 33.25 lakh), retired employees and dearness allowance (Rs 23.50 lakh) rest arrears (Rs 5.62 lakh,) electricity bills (Rs 26.54 lakh) HUDCO loans (Rs 56.88 lakh) LIC loans (Rs 12.64 lakh) municipal council, Gobindgarh (Rs 24.57 lakh) bank loans (Rs 1.73 lakh) and contractors dues (Rs 70 lakh), a total of Rs 334.48 lakh.

The Punjab Municipal Workers’ Unions had filed a civil writ petition no. 20152 of 2001 in the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the deposit of their dues of provident fund.

There are allegations of mismanagement by certain officials and elected body of the council.

The Vigilance Bureau has taken into possession the record of the council and started investigation. According to sources, the Vigilance Bureau had recommended the registration of a criminal case against the civic chief and other officials of the council and the clearance from higher officials of the Vigilance Bureau in this regard was still awaited.

When contacted the Executive Officer, Mr T.R. Sharma, said he failed to attend the meeting as he was in Chandigarh on that day in connection of official work of the council.


Red Cross addl secy dismissed
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 19
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner-cum-president of the District Red Cross Society, has taken a serious note of complaints about the working of the society and checked the records of the society.

It was found that important records are not available in the office of the society and whatever records are available, are not maintained properly.

The stock registers maintained by the society do not show the correct figures of tricycles, hearing aid machines and sewing machines purchased by the society for distribution to the handicapped and needy persons and their distribution has not been properly recorded.

Mr Ahluwalia has suspended accountant Rajinder Kumar of the society and terminated the services of Prem Singh Mittal additional secretary of the society, with immediate effect.


Life term for killing landlord
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 19
The fast track court Hoshiarpur here today sentenced life term to Joginder Pal, son of Dalip Chander, for killing his landlord Tarsem Lal by poisoning his tea. He acquitted Simarjit Kaur, wife of the accused Joginder Pal, who was co-accused in the case.

According to the police report, the couple gave poison to Tarsem Lal on June 15, 2001. Tarsem Lal was admitted in the Civil Hospital here and died the same day.

In another case another court has acquitted Dharampal of Bassi Jamal Khan of the murder of his wife Jaswinder Kaur.

The Tanda police registered a case against Dharampal on August 22, 2001, on the complaint of his father-in-law, who alleged that Dharampal gave some poisonous substance to his wife due to which she died on August 21 at the Tanda Civil Hospital.


Police remand for IT Commissioner
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 19
Ludhiana Income Tax Commissioner M.L. Dossa was today remanded in police custody till December 21 in a case involving the demand of a Rs 2.50-lakh bribe from a businessman to waive off a Rs 20-lakh tax penalty which had been imposed on him.


GND varsity sets up Baba Budha Chair
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
A Baba Budha Chair for Sikh studies was established at Guru Nanak Dev University here today. Mr Jagir Singh Randhawa of the USA has donated Rs 25 lakh as endowment fund for establishing the chair in the memory of his wife Narinder Kaur.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, signed an MoU with Mr Randhawa at a function organised on the university premises. The Vice-Chancellor said the university would undertake research on the life and contributions of Baba Budha to Sikh studies.


Varsity to host history Congress
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 19
Guru Nanak Dev University will host the 63rd session of “Indian History Congress” from December 28 to 30 at its campus. More than 100 historians from all over the world are likely to take part in the event.

Dr Harish Chander Sharma, local secretary of the Congress, said the Chief Minister, would inaugurate the session and Mr Khushal Behl, Minister for Higher Education, would be the guest of honour. Five technical sessions and 11 parallel sub-sessions would be held and during these sessions, distinguished historians would discuss the latest issues in the discipline of history. More than 20 Vice-Chancellors and former Vice-Chancellors of various universities and Directors of reputed institutions would also take part, he added.

Meanwhile, the university has extended the last date for the submission of admission forms for MA (police administration) without late fee up to December 26. The university will host All-India Inter-University Yoga (men and women) Championship from January 7 to 10.

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