Saturday, December 21, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Director, Health, ‘threatens’ hotelier
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, December 20
The local hoteliers are up in arms against the alleged threat given to the owner of a four-star prestigious hotel of the city by the Director, Health Services, Punjab, Dr D. P. S. Sandhu.

The Director allegedly threatened to seal the hotel because he reportedly said that he was not “treated properly” during his brief stay there this week. The Civil Surgeon, who had booked the room (number 1006) in the MK hotel, took the Director to another hotel, Mohan International, where he spent the night. Dr Sandhu had come here in connection with a function held to eradicate tuberculosis. Dr S.K. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, when contacted refuted the charges that Dr Sandhu had threatened anybody in the hotel. He alleged that the Director had gone to the hotel as a “guest” but the staff and owner of the hotel did not bother to attend to him for more than 45 minutes, with the result that we shifted to hotel Mohan International, Dr Sharma added. When asked as to how the room was booked on his behalf for the Director in the four-star hotel, Dr Sharma said there was no accommodation available in the Circuit House on that day. The Prime Minister and his senior Cabinet colleagues had stayed in the hotel for two nights during the national executive meet of the BJP in November 2001.

However, the owner of the hotel, Mr Sanjay Galhotra, refuted the allegation that Dr Sandhu was not provided services for a long time. He made no such demand. Mr Galhotra claimed that Dr Sandhu stayed in the hotel for 15 minutes only and moved out immediately thereafter. A spokesman for the Hotel Association alleged that earlier Dr Sandhu’s son had a heated argument with the hotel staff a month ago.

Meanwhile, the Hotel Association has convened an emergency meeting here tomorrow to discuss the issue.

Dr Sandhu was not available at his office, house or on his mobile phone for comments.


Farmers’ protest over free power withdrawal
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 20
Farmers in large numbers today descended on the city to protest against the withdrawal of the free power facility and demonstrated in front of the head office of the Punjab State Electricity Board disrupting traffic on The Mall and causing traffic jams in other parts of the city.

The farmers, who belonged to the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), the Kirti Kisan Union, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the Kul Hind Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Punjab Kisan Sabha and the Kisan Vikas Front, also warned the PSEB against cutting the power connections of farmers who had not paid their tubewell bills for the past two months.

Kisan leaders Pichhora Singh Sidhupur, Hardev Singh Sandhu, Gurmit Singh Dittupur, Bhupinder Singh Sambhar and Prem Singh Bhangu condemned the “silence” being maintained by the Shiromani Akali Dal on the issue of the withdrawal of the free power facility. They said it was unfortunate that even though all political parties in Punjab were in favour of concessions being given to improve the lot of the farmers, they had “deserted” the farmers on the question of free power for tubewells.

The kisan leaders also criticised the double-speak by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. They said that at one time the Chief Minister had invited political parties and kisan organisations to form a joint front to take on the Centre on the issue of raising the procurement price of paddy, but had himself failed to give any compensation to the farmers for the losses suffered by them during the drought which hit the paddy crop this summer. Mr Pichhora Singh, while announcing the next course of action, said the six farmers’ organisations would hold dharnas in front of sugar mills in the state to protest against the non-payment of dues totalling Rs 100 crore to farmers.

Meanwhile, residents were held up in traffic jams near Lahori Gate, Sheranwala Gate and in the Lower Mall area due to disruption of traffic on The Mall for several hours.


PSEB amends captive plant policy
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 20
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has decided to make amendments to its captive power plant policy to encourage owners to set up their own power generation plants.

According to an official release here yesterday, the policy of seeking the prior sanction for setting up a diesel generating set up to 10 kw has been dispensed with. The board has decided to recover an installation fee at a uniform rate of Rs 50 per KVA instead of recovering one-time permission fee in two slabs of 1 MVA and above 1 MVA.

It said monthly parallel operation charges for capacititative power plants (CPP) would not be Rs 200 per KVA on 5 per cent of the installed capacity of the turbo generating set. Consumers having electric connection and also wanting to run additional load on either the diesel generating or the turbo generating sets would be allowed to do so after recovering one-time permission fee and parallel operation charges of 5 per cent.

According to the new policy, suitable electronic energy meter duly tested from the PSEB laboratory would be installed by the producer at his end for monitoring units and the wheeling of power through the PSEB system would not be allowed.

It has also been decided that the tariff for the purchase of power from mini micro plant owners and other new and renewable source of energy based generating units will be fixed after the decision of the Punjab State Regulatory Commission in this regard.


Param Bakshish is new Registrar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 20
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai removed Dr Karamjit Singh Sidhu as Registrar and appointed Dr Param Bakshish Singh in his place hours after a delegation of teachers owing allegiance to the United Teachers Front (UTF) sought Dr Sidhu’s ouster.

Sources said after the UTF delegation gave examples of Dr Sidhu’s alleged partisan manner of functioning to the Vice-Chancellor, he called Dr Param Bakshish Singh to his office and asked him to take over as Registrar. Dr Bakshish Singh joined his new office at 5.30 p.m. this evening.

The Teachers United Front (TUF), the group to which Dr Sidhu belongs and which had been instrumental in the ouster of former VC Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, is expected to announce its reaction on the move tomorrow. Dr Param Bakshish said he was not affiliated to any group in the university and would function in an impartial manner. He held the post of Director, Publication.

Earlier, a delegation of the UTF met the Vice-Chancellor in this concern. The delegation stressed that Dr K.S. Sidhu and Dean, Academics, Prof U.C. Singh, were members of the rival teaching group — the Teachers United Front (TUF) — and were running the varsity administration on group lines.

The UTF co-convener, Dr Harpal Singh Pannu, said the Vice-Chancellor had been given examples of the partisan role being played by Dr Sidhu in handling files. One case related to two teachers. While one teacher was accused of copying 50 pages from a book in her Ph.D. thesis, the other was accused of not fulfilling the selection norms. Since the first teacher was the wife of a prominent member of Sidhu’s group (TUF), her case instead of being inquired into was given to a third examiner who cleared her thesis. But since the other teacher belonged to the UTF, her case was given to the convener of the TUF to judge.

Dr Pannu said the VC had also been responsive to the other demands of the teachers. These included the restart of the Career Advancement Scheme (CAS) , reconsideration of rejected teachers for promotion and rolling back the implementation of CAS to July, 1999.


Pirated porno CDs seized in raid
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 20
The district police, Majitha, in a large haul has seized over 12,000 pirated and pornographic CDs during a raid conducted late last evening.

Claiming it as the largest seizure in recent times, Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, district police chief, while addressing a press conference here today said that Dushiant Kumar of Beas, along with his two brothers had been running a video lab there. They used to smuggle the CDs of yet to be released and pornographic movies from Dubai and create pirated CDs. He sold these CDs in Jammu and Kashmir, Kapurthala, Majitha and other neighbouring cities. She said the accused had built up a large-scale illegal business of pirated CDs. She said the police had sealed the lab and seized one CD writer, 15 software programmes and 10 floppies and more than 1,000 video cassettes besides CDs.

She further said that Kumar had appointed about six persons for purchasing and producing pirated CDs. He had given these persons mobile phones and other facilities.

She did not rule out the existence of a blue films racket, adding that everything would be clear after scanning the 10 floppies which had been seized in which there were about 750 files which could only be accessed with the help of a software engineer. The accused had systematically given code numbers to the films to avoid police raids.

The SSP said Mr Sutantar Kumar, director of an MPS copyright protection company, Tarn Taran, who claimed to have a legal right to check the videos and CD cassettes, informed the police that the accused used to sell the pirated CDs and videos by passing them off legal. After registering a case, Inspector Kashmira Singh raided the video lab and seized the CDs. No one has been arrested so far as the accused fled just before the raid.

PHAGWARA: In a drive against pornography, the local police has arrested Vinay Atwal of Himachal Pradesh, at present staying in the Onkar Nagar mohalla here. At the time of his arrest, Atwal was allegedly preparing a duplicate CD on his computer and 11 pornographic CDs were also seized from him. A press note issued by the local DSP, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, said that Atwal was arrested under Sections 292, IPC, and under 63 of the Copyright Act. A hundred blank CDs were also seized from him.


4 youths loot garment showroom
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 20
A garment showroom, situated on the busy Mall Road here, was looted by four youths after attacking the owner and its employees late last evening.

According to information gathered by TNS the four youths entered the showroom and started talking to employees. After some time they started attacking people who were inside the shop.

When the owner and the employees tried to stop them, they (the attackers) snatched cash from the employees and fled away. They also took away some garments.

They ransacked the showroom and broke a glass of the front door. The robbers came on a motor cycle and scooter and one of them was under the influence of liquor.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, after getting the information about the robbery immediately sent senior police officials, including SP (D), Harbaz Singh, to the shop. The computer sketches of the robbers are being prepared.

A case has been registered.

In another case, Gur Iqbal Singh, son of a retired police official, was beaten up by some persons near the Red Cross working women hostel yesterday. He was treated at Civil Hospital.

In yet another case, Sukhdev Singh of Hazura Kapura colony was beaten up by some persons today. He was admitted to Civil Hospital.

The hospital authorities said the police had been informed about the incidents.


SBP ‘modernising’ heritage building with tiles, aluminium
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 20
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh may want to make Patiala a heritage destination, but the State Bank of Patiala, headquarters of which are located in one of the land marks given to it by Maharaja Bhupinder Singh, is clearly not in sync with the plans of the state government. The bank is going in for an extensive renovation exercise, including pasting tiles on the building’s exterior, which will completely change the facade of the historic building.

This means that one of the four important landmarks of the city on the Mall Road, including the Commissioner’s and the Deputy Commissioner’s office, the Central Library, and the Punjab State Electricity Board head office, will be changed forever.

The bank is also replacing the wooden fittings of the windows with aluminium ones. A part of the building has already been renovated and no longer looks like the heritage building it was.

When contacted, Assistant General Manager, (Premises and Estates) Jitender Singh said the building was only being strengthened under the renovation exercise. He said the bank was using off-white tiles, which would go with the original colour of the other heritage sites on the Mall Road. However, when his attention was drawn to the way the look of the building had been changed by replacing the original wooden batons which supported the windows with aluminium casings, he said the wood had to be changed because it had become infested with termites.

Moreover, the use of aluminum was a modern concept, he said.

The bank could be trying to go modern, in line with the 21st century glass and steel buildings, people of the city feel an important landmark was being changed without a permission from the authorities concerned. PCS officer Rupinder Singh Randhawa, who was earlier the Director, Cultural Affairs, and is a resident of the city, said the bank authorities were changing the originality of the building. He said the bank’s head office was located in a vintage building which was linked with the heritage of Patiala and was part of the new face of town, created by Maharaja Rajinder Singh when he shifted from Quila Mubarak to the Rajindra kothi in the Baradari gardens.

Other citizens of the city also objected against the manner in which the bank was using modern construction elements, including tiles and aluminium casings, on the heritage building. Mr Harnaresh Singh said it was surprising that a rich bank like the SBP was destroying a heritage building when it could have easily restored the building to its old glory. He lamented that all this was happening when Patiala was just two months away from organising a Heritage Festival, showcasing its buildings and unique culture.

Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh, when contacted on the issue, said he would ask the bank management to desist from changing the exterior of the building. He said he would also find whether the bank could change the external facade of the building in view of a likely cabinet notification disallowing owners from changing the facade of buildings which had come up before Independence.

He said the Patiala Development Authority was going in for a face lift of the old heritage buildings in the city, with the Mohindra College in for a new coal of paint ahead of the Heritage Festival.


MLA objects to bridge opening
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Capt Balbir Singh Bath (retd), MLA from Sri Hargobindpur, has objected to the inauguration of a bridge over the Dhirowal drain by Punjab PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa as a blatant violation of the model code of conduct as the municipal elections have already been announced in the state.

In a written statement Captain Bath has objected to an advertisement inserted in newspapers about the inauguration of the bridge, saying that this was being done to influence voters. The bridge connects the two municipal towns of Tanda and Sri Hargobindpur.

Captain Bath said he was also bringing this to the notice of the state Election Commission.


Function put off
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 20
Dr Om Parkash Sharma, district press secretary, of the SAD(B) in a press note here this evening said that the function, in respect of honouring the SGPC members of the SAD (Badal), had been postponed.

He said the function was scheduled for December 22 but now it would be held on December 28.


Ayurveda herbal garden a non-starter
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 20
Even though diversification may be the buzz word and the growth of herbs way up on the government’s agenda, a 42-bigha herbal garden of the Ayurveda Department has been leased out for wheat-paddy cultivation due to lack of initiative on the part of the Punjab Government to form a plantation board which was to receive Rs 1 crore from the Centre to develop the garden.

The garden in Dayalpur Sodhian village near Zirakpur in this district exists only on paper since the past two years. In the year 2000 National Plantation Board was created with the purpose of developing herbal gardens in each state. As much as Rs 1 crore was earmarked for each state annually for a period of five years to develop the garden.

Although the neighbouring states of Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have taken advantage of the scheme and created state-level plantation boards, the same has not been done by Punjab. Due to this the Ayurveda Department is forced to give the land on lease to farmers for cultivation.

Department Deputy Director Kirpal Kaur when contacted on the issue said the scheme could not take off because the department was not able to get the budget for the same. She said now the case had been sent afresh to the Planning Department and efforts were being made to release some funds. She said funds were needed to create the required infrastructure at the herbal garden site as well as appoint staff which would be capable of looking after the plants once the project was started. Department sources while speaking on the subject said the Ayurveda Department was facing serious difficulties due to the herbal garden scheme being a non-starter. They said the department had to pay money from its scant resources for costly herbs which it could very well propagate on its own land. Dr Amarjit Singh, who is President of the Punjab Ayurvedic Medical Services Association, said the non-constitution of the plantation board was resulting in loss of quality herbs to the state government.

He said already the Ayurveda Department was stifled for lack of funds with its central pharmacy having been made virtually redundant due to lack of funds. He said practically no funds had been earmarked for the pharmacy since the past four to five years. He said what little funds had been earmarked in the past totalled an average of Rs 300 per dispensary annually in the state. Mr Amarjit Singh said though now efforts were being made to revive the pharmacy with some tenders for supply of ayurvedic medicines at a cost of Rs 13 lakh being floated, efforts should be made to make the herbal garden project functional immediately so that the pharmacy could get a regular supply of medicine at low cost. This, he said, would dramatically change the stock levels of ayurvedic medicines in the state’s 544 dispensaries. Presently, most of the dispensaries were functioning with little medicines in the state.

Meanwhile, Mrs Kirpal Kaur also disclosed that another scheme — home remedies kit — which was in the docks, would also be started soon. The scheme, under which Patiala had been selected along with one district in each state of the country, could also not take off since the past few years. Mrs Kirpal Kaur said under the scheme, 100 villages had been identified in nine blocks of the district. She said each village was to be given four kits containing 15 medicines. She said a part of the money needed for the scheme had been released and it was expected that it would be implemented in a few months.


Children taking to gun: expert
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 20
More than 3 lakh children have been fighting for rebel armies with child recruits as young as 12-year-old. Nearly 30 per cent of child recruits are girls. These child recruits are called “Little Bells” or “Little Bees”. Children from wealthy and educated families are, however, at lesser risk of recruitment as their families send them to schools.

Besides the gun, the youth is affected by diseases like HIV. Nearly 50 per cent of HIV infected persons are in the age group of 15 to 25 years. The UN Security Council has identified HIV and AIDS as a potent threat to peace and security. The disease, has, so far, killed nearly four million children and orphaned about 13 million.

This was stated by Ms Madhu Swami, Head of the Economics Department and faculty member at Ramanand Arya DAV College, Bhandup, Mumbai, while talking to this correspondent here yesterday. She was here to attend the global educational conference on culture of peace and non-violence being held at the local HMV College.

“No doubt NGOs and the United Nations have managed to ensure protection for children to some extent but at least 20 million children have been uprooted from their homes and only a strong political will at the national and international level can stop the criminal sacrifice of children”, she added.


Project to control lantana
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 20
To check the unabated growth of lantana camara, a foreign weed in the forests, a project for its utilisation and control has been launched in Punjab.

Under the project scientists of Horticulture University, Nauni in Solan, will study the chemical control measures on lantana and the effect of the measures in association with the plantation of fast-growing forestry species at various experimental sites in Punjab.

The experiments under the Rs 24.09 lakh project would be conducted at Perch in Ropar forest division, Kharnka, in Hoshiarpur forest division, Trehatti in Pathankot and Dhar in Gurdaspur forest division.

The experiments for the chemical control measures were being conducted at Perch in Ropar. Under it, four different concentrations of glyphosate would be tested in summer and winter at different heights of the newly-grown lantana plants. The experiment would be conducted on 24 plots of 100 sq metre each.

Besides the chemical control at the said experimental sites, lantana would be grown with fast-growing trees and other plant species. At Perch in Ropar, four varieties of fast-growing trees were being grown alongside lantana to study their allelopathic effects on the weed. In the Dhar experimental site at Gurdaspur, four different fast-growing plant species were being grown on two-meter strips along with 10 meter strips of lantana to study their effect on the weed.

In Hoshiarpur, lantana would be grown alongside the fast-growing plant species. Then the lantana plant would be cut successively twice and the effect of fast-growing species on its regeneration would be studied.

In Pathankot, lantana would be grown in randomized block designs and given two treatments. In the first treatment the effect of fast-growing plant species on lantana would be studied. In the second the effect of different planting densities on lantana would be studied.

The Deputy Conservator Forests, Mr Parveen Kumar, while talking to this correspondent told that besides control, the scientists would also study the utilisation of lantana. They had developed a better technique for furniture making using lantana. The regional center, NASEB, had also acquired the technology for making briquettes out of lantana charcoal.

Already, 15-day training for making furniture out of lantana wood had been imparted to farmers in the Garshankar belt of Hoshiarpur, he added.


High priests to meet on Dec 23
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, December 20
The five Sikh high priests will discuss the issue of alleged police entry into the Golden Temple complex at the time of the SGPC elections on November 12.

They will also discuss the Nanakshahi calendar issue. This was indicated here today by the SGPC president, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar. He said Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti was out of India and hence important issues could not be taken up. The high priests would meet in Amritsar on December 23.

Expressing his concern over the development of dera culture, the SGPC President said the vote factor was responsible for the promotion of deras. He said the SGPC had launched an extensive programme against social evils like drugs abuse, dowry and foeticide. “Dharam prachar” by the SGPC had also been intensified. “Dhadis”, pracharaks and “kavishars” of the SGPC were being given training.


Mann writes to Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, December 20
After taking up the “neglect” of Amritsar in Parliament, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), has written to Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Akal Takht Jathedar, to use his good offices for the overall development of the city.

In a fax to the Akal Takht secretariat, Mr Mann said the infrastructure of the city needed coordinated efforts for sustenance.

In a reply to a question raised by Mr Mann in Parliament, Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, said Amritsar would be developed as a hub of culture and tourism. He said a panorama relating to Maharaja Ranjit Singh’s life had already been sanctioned and the remaining phase of the “galliara project” would be completed at the earliest.

Mr Mann said the Central Government must open the land route through Wagah for starting trade, commerce and tourism with Pakistan.


Panchayat secys’ petition
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
Taking up a bunch of petitions filed by panchayat secretaries sought to be terminated by the Punjab Government, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed January 7 as the next date of hearing in the case. The state of Punjab will, meanwhile, file their reply a day before the next date.

The secretaries, in their petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi, had earlier alleged that action was being initiated against them in a malafide manner due to political vendetta. Claiming to have been appointed by the previous government in October 2001, Raminder Singh of Ferozepore and six others, in one such petition, had added that the government had proceeded against them by issuing a blanket order without giving them an opportunity of hearing.

Seeking the quashing of an order dated December 10 vide which the services of total 909 secretaries were sought to be terminated, the petitioners had added that the same was illegal and arbitrary. Giving details, counsel had submitted on the petitioners’ behalf that the secretaries were appointed in the department concerned by a duly constituted Departmental Selection Committee.

Valtoha seeks pre-arrest bail

Punjab Subordinate Service Selection Board’s former member Virsa Singh Valtoha today sought directions to the state of Punjab and another respondent to grant him anticipatory bail in any first information report registered against him.

Valtoha, in his petition taken up by Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court, also sought directions to respondents for granting him 15-day notice in alternative in case an FIR was registered. Seeking the grant of bail, counsel for the petitioner contended that Valtoha, member of Shiromani Akali Dal’s working committee, was being implicated as the government had adopted a revengeful attitude towards political opponents.

Going into the background of the case, counsel had contended that the Vigilance Bureau, in an attempt to lower the petitioner’s image, had initiated move to arrest him “on the basis of some affidavit alleged to have been submitted by some person of the area”.


Councillor, aides out on bail
Our Correspondent

Abohar, December 20
Mr Satish Narang, BJP councillor, and his supporters Ramsaran Gumber and Ved Parkash were released today. The District Court had accepted their bail applications yesterday. The court had earlier granted bail to Mr Narang’s brothers-in-law.

All of them were booked by the city police last fortnight, under Sections 307, 323, 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC for allegedly making an attempt on the life of Congress worker Dev Raj Ahuja, alias Nanha, during scrutiny of the revised voter list for Ward Number 30 under the supervision of a poll observer here. Mr Ahuja had been admitted to the Civil Hospital. The police had registered a case on a complaint lodged by another Congress worker, Mr Vinod Jain.

Later, doctors at the hospital submitted a report to the police stating that Mr Ahuja had suffered no grievous injury. Accordingly, the police had moved an application to the court seeking permission to withdraw the charge under Section 307.

Mr Narang was hospitalised as he complained of chest pain, his two supporters were sent to sub jail at Fazilka after a day’s police remand.

Mr Narang confirmed that he would contest the municipal elections. Meanwhile, the chief electoral officer, Punjab, has asked Mr R.L. Sankaria, IAS, to re-examine the objections raised by various residents over the revision of electoral rolls. Earlier, Mr Sanjay Kumar, the Labour Commissioner, had supervised a second revision which had led to the violence in Ward Number 30.


Tributes paid to martyr
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, December 20
Mrs Angrej Kaur, mother of martyr Sukhjinder Singh (22), has offered to send her four other sons to the Army.

She was talking to this reporter at Aalamwala village in Muktsar district yesterday at the antim ardas of her son, Sepoy Sukhjinder Singh (22) of 30 Rashtriya Rifles, who laid down his life after killing two militants in an encounter in Kupuwara district of Jammu and Kashmir during a search operation on December 6. She was proud that her son had sacrificed his life for the nation.

She said ever since her husband Tota Singh’s death in 1988, she has had to face great hardships in bringing up her six children and aged parents due to their poor economic condition.

She has appealed to the Punjab Government to generate a better source of income for her family and name the senior secondary school of the village in the name of her martyr son. She also sought a puca road to her house.

More than 2,000 residents of the area and representatives of political and social bodies and district officers paid rich tributes to the martyr. Col H.J. Singh (retd), vice-president of the District Sainik Board, described the sepoy as veeryogi (brave soldier) who will be remembered forever.

Mr Nathu Ram, MLA of Malout, said he had discussed the case of Sukhjinder Singh with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had assured to solve his family’s problems on a priority.

Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, said all the benefits, including ex gratia and other grants amounting Rs 7 lakh, would be given to the family next week after the receipt of the battle casualty report of the martyr from the Army headquarters.


8 buffaloes electrocuted

Jalandhar, December 20
Eight animals charred to death today in a fire that broke out due to short-circuit in the high-tension wire passing over place where the animals were tied at Manak Rai Lohara village under the Bhogpur police station.

The animals charred to death — eight buffaloes and one bullock-belong to Ali Hussain, a Gujjar who has demanded compensation from the authorities concerned, the police said.

The loss could have been more as 24 animals were tied at the spot.

Early control of fire by villagers saved other animals, the sources added. A case has been registered. PTI


Ex-sarpanch sentenced to one-year jail
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 20
Mr Ranjit Singh, Judicial Magistrate (Class I) here today sentenced former sarpanch of Dholowal village to one-year jail and also imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on him for a breach of trust.

According to the prosecution, during 1986-87 Amar Nath was sarpanch of Dholowal village which falls within the jurisdiction of the local Sadar police station.

The government had entrusted the sarpanch with Rs 50,000 for the development of a fish pond under the Rural Landless Employment Guarantee Scheme.

The sarpanch allegedly embezzled Rs 28,061 out of the funds.

After the authorities concerned conducted an inquiry, the police had registered a case under Section 409 of the IPC.

The Magistrate while pronouncing the judgement held that the prosecution had proved the case beyond any reasonable doubt.


Paper leak case: accused in judicial custody

Kharar, December 20
A court here today remanded Punjab Nurses Registration Council’s examination superintendent Gurpal Singh Kang and junior assistant Charanjeet Singh in judicial custody till December 24 in a case of corruption and cheating registered against them by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on November 15 for allegedly leaking a question paper.

Rejecting the prosecution plea for extending the three-day police remand which expired today, the court directed that both accused be produced before a Special Court at Ropar on December 24 for further remand-related matters.

Kang and Charanjeet were remanded in police custody for three days after they surrendered on December 17. UNI


2 killed, 2 hurt in mishap

Sangrur, December 20
Two women were killed and as many seriously injured when their car rammed into a truck-trailer near the Punjab State Electricity Board office at Bhawanigarh in this district today.

According to the police, Krishna Devi died on the spot while Gurmeet Kaur, succumbed to her injuries in Rajindra Hospital, Patiala.

Rajinder Singh and Harbir Kaur, who were seriously wounded, were admitted to the hospital. UNI


Martyrs cremated

The mortal remains of a jawan of 69 Battalion of the BSF, Mandeep Singh, a resident of Their village who died while on duty in the Kupwara sector in Jammu and Kashmir recently, were consigned to flames here on Friday with full police honours.

A contingent of the BSF, led by Sub-Inspector Rohtas Singh, fired many rounds in the air and reversed their arms as a mark of respect to the martyr. Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, ADC, Muktsar, laid a wreath on the body on behalf of the Punjab Government.

Sources said Mandeep Singh died after he was hit by a bullet in the head. His funeral was largely attended.

Tarn Taran: Naib Subedar Kundan Singh who sacrificed his life for the country's honour in an encounter with militants in Anantnag on Monday evening was cremated at his Serali Mandan native village with state honours yesterday. Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, Mr Ashok Bathe, SP (D), of the local district police, Mr Rajinder Kumar, DSP, Patti, and Army officials placed wreaths on the body of the brave soldier.


Case false, alleges fraud accused
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 20
Mr Dilbhajan Singh, a dealer in automobile booked for fraud, today alleged that he had been framed and no action had been against the actual culprits.

In a press note here today he was reacting to a news item which appeared in The Tribune in connection with a fraud case on a bank registered against him alleged by without verifying the facts. He clarified that the land was purchased by a director of the company owned by his daughter in the name of company.

He wanted the police to set the things right and bringing actual culprits to book.


Residents: check cable operators
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 20
A section of residents of the city have alleged that cable operators have started looting them by frequently hiking the cable subscription charges.

In a letter to the Deputy Commissioner residents of the Namdev Marg, Basant Vihar and some other localities pointed out that their cable operators have been increasing the subscription rates at frequent intervals and had increased it to twice the rates prevalent in other parts of the city.


Monkey clubbed to death

Phagwara, December 20
Residents of the nearby Khatti village and its surrounding areas were finally rid a stray monkey after one month. The monkey had bitten 11 persons in the village during this time. Residents of Khatti Dhadda and Ramgarh villages clubbed the monkey to death in a field. OC


Kisan conference from March 6
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 20
30th national conference of the All-India Kisan Sabha will be held here from March 6 to 9 next year.

Talking to reporters here, the Chairman of the reception committee of the conference, Mr Rachpal Singh, said the main agenda of the conference was to oppose the ongoing process of privatisation and liberalisation which had virtually ruined the Indian agriculture and industrial sectors in the past one decade.

He further said the Congress Government in the state was presenting the Dr S.S. Johl, Committee report as an ideal for incorporating various methods for diversification in agriculture which was nothing but a bundle of lies.

“The cotton growers in the Malwa region of the state who are the first to go in for diversification about two decades ago, have failed to gain out of this diversification mode and are reeling under heavy debts.

In fact, there was need to strengthen the existing cooperative system, besides giving a guarantee for the marketing of crops to the farming community in the post-green revolution era”, he added.

The unchecked penetration of multinational companies in the agriculture sector would be reviewed during the three-day long national conference as the farmers and labourers were gaining nothing out of the process of liberalisation. The papers would be presented for continuation of the minimum support price system for various crops and every move to abolish the existing pattern would be opposed by the farmers of the country, he added. 


Kisan Sanman Divas observed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 20
Kisan Sanman Divas was observed by the Department of Agriculture and the Agricultural and Technology Management Agency (ATMA) here today.

Addressing the gathering, Dr R.K. Rampal, Director, Agriculture, Punjab said efforts were being made by his department to bring farmers out of the wheat-paddy crop cycle. He said to achieve this objective, the Agriculture Department was providing subsidy to farmers so that they could go in for alternative professions like bee-keeping. He said to honour progressive farmers, the department had decided to organise a state-level function at Sangrur on December 23.

At a separate function, Mr K. Siva Prasad, Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner cum-chairman of the ATMA, said diversification was the only key to success for farmers and for arresting lowering of the water table in the state. He also cautioned farmers against the excessive use of pesticides. He said prawn culture which was initiated in the district for the first time could be a good source of income for the farmers, particularly in the areas where the quality of soil was not very good.

Dr Ajmer Singh, Joint Director of the Agriculture Department and a key official of ATMA, said the agency and the department were organising farm training camps throughout the state to provide latest farm knowhow to the farmers.


Probe into bogus votes begins
Tribune News Service

Jalalabad, (Ferozepore), December 20
Mr Roshan Sunkaria, Director, Technical Education, Punjab yesterday started an inquiry into the registration of fake voters in the recently revised electoral rolls of this town for the municipal council elections.

Mr Sunkaria visited the town today and was accompanied by the Ferozepore Deputy Commissioner and field staff was called from various government departments. This is the second time that an inquiry is being conducted into the allegations of fake voters and this time 15 teams had been formed for an equal number of wards and the report was to be submitted in two days.

The matter had gained significance after news items had appeared in this connection and some leaders of the area had brought the matter to the notice of the authorities concerned.

Mr C.L. Bains, State Election Commissioner, Punjab has deputed Mr Sunkaria, to hold an inquiry into the allegations of fake names in the revised electoral rolls of this town for the coming municipal council elections even as an earlier inquiry report submitted by Mr Alok Shekhar, Director-General (Schools), Punjab, who conducted a probe into the allegations of bogus votes while putting his stay for two days at Jalalabad town on December 8 and December 9, had mentioned that at least 800 names had been found in the revised voters’ lists, which were fake.


Inquiry report submitted
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 20
Mr D.R. Verma, Chief Commissioner, Income Tax, has submitted to the higher authorities in New Delhi the report of inquiry conducted into the alleged suspect functioning of a section of income tax officials who were posted here recently.

Official sources said the inquiry was conducted when the District Tax Bar Association lodged a complaint with the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh, that instructions issued by the higher authorities concerned in connection with the random scrutiny of income tax returns had been flouted by these officials.

The inquiry was conducted by Mr S.J. Singh, Additional Commissioner of Income Tax, Amritsar, said Mr Arjun Dev, a senior functionary of the department while talking to TNS on the phone today.

The association alleged that a section of the income tax officials posted here took up more than 400 cases of income tax returns within seven days in violation of the instructions issued to them by the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT). It added that a selection of such a large number of cases for scrutiny should be investigated and action should be taken in this regard.


Rail booking computerised
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 20
The long-standing demand of residents of the town was met today, with the start of computerised reservation of rail tickets.

Mr R.K. Singh, General Manager of Northern Railway, inaugurated the facility at the local railway station.

In a memorandum presented to Mr R.K. Singh, a deputation of lawyers led by a senior advocate, Mr R.S. Dhillon, stressed the need for starting a train from Sultanpur Lodhi to Delhi, keeping in view the historical significance of the former town.

A deputation of SAD (Badal) members, led by the city unit president Mohan Singh Anand and Samata Party members, led by Mr Ajay Deep also met him.

Talking to newspersons, Mr R.K. Singh said the Railways would instal on tracks the newly-developed anti-collision device to prevent rail accidents.


Ban on DPC meetings extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 20
The Punjab Government today further extended the ban on holding the departmental promotion committee meetings for one month. An order to this effect has been issued by the Special Secretary, Personnel Department. However, the order will not apply in those cases where courts have passed orders for holding such meetings.

The Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, has reacted strongly to the ban order. Mr Roshan Lal Goel, General Secretary of the federation, said the government had earlier banned the holding of such meetings on November 22. Urging the Government to lift the ban immediately, Mr Goel, said that hundreds of employees were awaiting promotion in various departments. A number of employees due for promotion retired last month, he claimed.

Mr Surinder Singh Kaler, President of the AIME-cum- Degree Holder Engineers Association in the Irrigation Department, said about 30 degree holder engineers, who were to be promoted from junior engineer to Subdivisional Engineer were suffering because of this ban.


Four found absent during DC’s raid
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 20
House surgeons Dr Jagtar Singh Sidhu and Dr Rajiv Kumar, chief pharmacist, Mr Mohinder Singh, and radiographer, Mr Surjit Singh, working in the local Civil Hospital, were found absent during a raid conducted by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, yesterday.

The district administration has written to the administrative secretary of the department concerned to take disciplinary action against these employees.

Giving this information here yesterday, Mr Ahluwalia directed officials in various departments to ensure the presence of employees in their offices. He said stern action would be taken against those found guilty of dereliction of duty.

Earlier too, the aforesaid house surgeons were found absent during a raid conducted by the Deputy Commissioner on December 10.


Boy rescued from exorcist
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 20
The police yesterday rescued a seven-year-old boy from an exorcist who had kidnapped the boy for sacrificing please gods.

Mr Narinderpal Singh told this correspondent that the exorcist, Kaladas, and his accomplices kidnapped Jagprit Singh, from his house in Sultanwind village yesterday morning for sacrificing. They came on a scooter. Mr Bhagwan Singh, father of the child, lodged a complaint to the police in this regard. Taking immediate action the police sent teams to various places and held nakas.

The police recovered the child at a naka and arrested Kaladas and his accomplice Dhir Singh, alias Dhira. The second accomplice Jaspal Singh alias Pala was arrested at the dera of the exorcist.

Mr Bhagwant Singh in his complaint said that Kaladas called him at his dera on December 16. When he went there, Kaladas, Dhira and Pala chained him, beat him brutally and locked him in a room. They asked him to sacrifice his elder son. They threatened him that otherwise they would kill him and his son. On December 18, they freed him but kidnapped Jagpreet the next day.

A case has been registered under Sections 342, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.


“Supari” killer shot dead
Tribune News Service

Shivdaspur (Jalandhar), December 20
A farmer shot dead a “supari” killer, allegedly a member of a faction of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, who had come to his house to collect Rs 10 lakh for “sparing” the farmer’s life.

According to Mr Mohan Singh, the man posed as a member of a “supari” killer gang and had been demanding Rs 10 lakh since Friday for sparing his life.

The gang had been threatening Mr Mohan Singh, saying that some of his foes had already assigned it the job of killing him and had paid an advance.

His life could be saved only if he was ready to pay Rs 10 lakh, the gang said.

Mr Mohan Singh agreed to pay the amount within a few days and at the same time approached the police which put his house and phone under surveillance.

Two scooter-borne members of the gang stopped Mr Mohan Singh while he was going to Rahimpur village and forced him to return to his house to get the money.

As one of them entered the house, Mr Mohan Singh fired at him, resulting in the death of one of them.


Youth found dead in hospital bathroom
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 20
Shamsher Singh (22), resident of the local mohalla Tonk-Kashatrya, was found dead in a bathroom of the local Civil Hospital last night. His body was found hanging with a piece of cloth from the ceiling. The local police has registered a case under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC against Goldy, Vicky and some other youths of the town.

Police sources told this correspondent here today that Shamsher Singh, was seriously injured by Goldy, Vicky and some other youths yesterday at his shop. He was admitted to the local Civil Hospital at night. His brother Ajmer Singh went to his house and when he returned to the hospital he inquired about his brother and later found him dead in the bathroom.

The police sources said a thorough inquiry had been initiated into the matter.


House attack case: 1 more arrested
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 20
The district police today arrested Parmod Singh and seized a countrymade. 315 bore revolver with one cartridge from him. Parmod Singh is the fourth of the accused who had ransacked the house of former Punjab Minister, the late Kasturi Lal, on December 10.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued here this evening said the culprit had been arrested under Sections 458, 459, 392 and 34 of the IPC. He added that three of the accused had been arrested earlier. The accused had escaped with a mobile phone after injuring the wife of the minister. The SSP said Mrs Radha Rani, daughter-in-law of the deceased minister, was also injured in the incident.


Inter-state lottery gang busted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 20
The district police today busted an inter-state gang involved in selling lotteries that had been banned by the Punjab Government. It said it had seized lottery tickets worth Rs 1.75 lakh.

Reliable police sources said that the culprits had been identified as Amit Kumar of Rajasthan and Sadhu Singh Rawat of Uttaranchal and they had been working with a courier company in the city. The sources said the culprits had been working in connivance with the courier company and brought packets of banned lottery tickets from Delhi, which were then sold in different pockets of the district and the surrounding areas by the agents of the company.

The culprits had been operating for about one year and had caused huge financial losses to the state exchequer.

The sources said the kingpin of the gang was in Delhi and it was yet to be ascertained whether the lottery tickets sold by the culprits were original or fake. They said the links of the culprits with various persons and suspects were being probed.

The sources said a case under Sections 420, IPC, and 6 (A&B) of the Punjab Lotteries Act had been registered and the culprits had been remanded in police custody till December 23. Various police teams had been formed to arrest the remaining culprits, the sources said.


Two robbers arrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 20
The Hoshiarpur district police arrested two members of a gang of robbers last night.

Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP, in a press note here today said during nakabandi at Bhangi choe bridge, Dhobi Ghat, here last night, Dharamvir, son of Balbir Singh, and Raju, son of Ram Kishan of Adarsh Colony, PS Civil Line, Muradabad (UP). where arrested. Two pistols of 12 bore along with four cartridges were seized from them. Their accomplice Sunil, son of Jaggu of Muradabad, escaped under the cover of darkness.

A case under the Arms and Ammunition Act has been registered against them.

During interrogation, they revealed that they had snatched a bag with Rs 50,000 from a woman near Tanda while she was going in a rickshaw in March, 2001. In September, 2001, they snatched Rs 2,50,000 from a person at Panam village.


3 agents booked
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 20
The police has booked three travel agents under Sections 420 and 406, IPC and Section 24 of the Immigration Act for duping two persons of Rs 7.50 lakh on the pretext of sending them abroad. In a press note today, Dr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said Piara Singh of Jainpur village in an application to the police alleged that about two years ago Jagir Singh, a travel agent, took Rs 4.50 lakh from him for sending his nephew Harjit Singh abroad. However, Jagir Singh neither sent him abroad nor returned the money.


Vishvavidyalaya plan on herb medicines
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 20
Gurukul Kangri Vishvavidyalaya, Hardwar, has decided to explore the potential in the international market for the export of its herb medicines being manufactured at its pharmacy.

Addressing a press conference here the Chancellor of the vidyalaya, Mr Sudarshan Sharma, said they were in the process of completing the formalities for getting patent for herb medicines.

“In fact, we have been manufacturing herbs worth Rs 50 crore per year and there is a lot of potential in the international market for its export, which is still untapped by the Indian companies. Even most of the Western countries are attracted towards the herbs due to their corrective properties,” he added.

There was need to create awareness among the Indian manufacturers for getting patent registered for their various products. “The government should take the initiative to launch a drive in this regard failing which other countries will gain huge profits through Indian items,” he said.

Mr Sharma further said they were in the process of consultation with New York and Boston universities for the start of various vedic courses under the distance education mode. “The Western people are impressed with the contents of the vedic education and the foreign universities had shown keen interest in the joint venture during our recent discussions,” he said.


20 colleges take part in youth festival
Our Correspondents

Barnala, December 20
A four-day-long Punjabi University Sangrur zone youth festival began here.

The local S.D. College is hosting the festival on the college premises from December 18 to 21.

Principal H.S. Attri of the college welcomed the chief guest, Dr Kehar Singh, Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, principals, professors, and student participants of the Sangrur zone from about 20 colleges on the inaugural day of the festival.

Dr Daljit Singh, Director, Youth Welfare Services of Punjabi University, Patiala, while addressing the gathering highlighted the various achievements of Punjabi University at the national-level youth festivals. The university had been winning the first two positions for the past many years, he said. Dr Daljit Singh complimented the principals, professors and students of the university for the glorious successes of the university.

He urged Dr Kehar Singh , Chairman, Punjab School Education Board, to use his influence to get some slots reserved for talented students who excelled in the inter-university and national-level youth festivals for their recruitment in the board.

On the inaugural day, the youth festival began in a disorganised way. A lot of disturbance was observed during the presentation of folk dances.

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