Tuesday, December 24, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



High priests write to Badungar on Ashutosh
Ashok Sethi and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, December 23
The Sikh high priests here today again showed their inability to come to grips with various controversies, including the Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan head Ashutosh Maharaj, photographs of leading Akali leaders appearing in various newspapers seeking blessings from him and the Nanakshahi calendar.

The meeting of five head priests was presided over by Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and attended among others by Prof Manjeet Singh, Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi, Akal Takht, and Giani Gurbachan Singh and Giani Jagtar Singh, both Golden Temple granthis.

The Sikh clergy have sent a letter to SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar and sought a comprehensive report on the anti-Panthic activities of Ashutosh Maharaj. The Sikh high priests said the report should be presented at Akal Takht within one month along with proofs.

Answering queries regarding the high priests’ inability to recommend action against Ashutosh Maharaj, Jathedar Vedanti said due to lack of concrete evidence it was not possible to take action. For this reason they had sought a comprehensive report from the SGPC chief, he added.

In another letter to the state government Jathedar Vedanti has expressed his regret that the government had not taken any action against the controversial activities of Ashutosh Maharaj.

The jathedar cautioned the state government on this. He added that in case the state government failed to take action the Sikh Panth would be forced to take steps to check the activities of the sect.

The issue of Nanakshahi calendar, which has been a bone of contention among the Sikh clergy, SGPC and Sikh intellectuals for the past more than three years, continue to generate a heated debate. The high priests have decided to constitute an 11-member committee comprising calendar experts, Sikh intellectuals and others to be headed by Jathedar, Akal Takht, and it would submit its report within two months.

Earlier, the Sikh high priests had summoned Mr Gurbax Singh, Kala Afgana author of “bipran ki reet tou sach da marg”, and felt that his books had caused deep anguish to the Sikh masses.

The Sikh clergy has directed him to clarify his position at Akal Takht on February 10, 2003.


Acquittal of Sajjan shocking: SGPC
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, December 23
The SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, this evening flayed the aquittal of senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar and others in the 1984 anti-Sikh riot cases by the court of Additional Sessions Judge Manju Goel in Delhi earlier today. Expressing his shock and disbelief over the aquittal of Mr Kumar who had allegedly masterminded the anti-Sikh riots in 1984, Professor Badungar said the judgement had shaken the entire Sikh ‘qaum’. If those responsible for the carnage of Sikhs and travails of their widows are freed after 18 years in this way, the Sikhs would lose their faith in the courts, alleged Professor Badungar.

The SGPC chief declared that an appeal will be filed in the higher court against the verdict.

AMRITSAR: Responding to the queries of the newsmen, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, on the acquittal today of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar for his alleged role in 1984 anti-Sikh riots in Delhi said he would not question the decision of the Delhi High Court. He, however, added that all culprits found guilty should not go unpunished as this would send a wrong signal to the Sikh masses.


Sinha to consider SGPC plea on Afghanistan visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 23
Union Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha has given “positive signals” regarding granting permission to the SGPC to send its representatives to visit gurdwaras in Afghanistan.

The issue of the deplorable state of gurdwaras in Afghanistan was raised by several Sikh forums and the minorities commission with the Union Foreign and Home affairs ministries.

The Foreign Minister, in a letter to Mr Tarlochan Singh, vice-chairman of the National Minorities Commission, has written that he would consider the matter and look into the demand of Afghanistan Sikh refugees to return to their country.

After return of the Sikh jatha to India on November 23, allegations of violations of ‘maryada’ and mismanagement of gurdwaras in Pakistan gained momentum. The government is reportedly in touch with the United Nations regarding the repair and reconstruction of gurdwaras in Afghanistan, which was destroyed during more than a decade-long turmoil.


A year of belied hopes
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Events that unfolded in Punjab in 2002 are like the ever-changing patterns in a kaleidoscope, which makes it difficult to shortlist ones that are either outstanding or stand out.

For Punjab, it was an uninspiring year that belied hopes and expectations, despite the switchover from Mr Parkash Singh Badal to Capt Amarinder Singh.

Punjab politics not only has a tenuous hold on events but also revolves around the Congress-Akali axis, as the Centre-state political match or mismatch. The state reacts the way it is governed. In all its pursuits personalities, passions, promises, rabble-rousing and histrionics buried reality in rhetoric.

As the year dawned with the poll campaign for the Assembly elections, the Supreme Court struck a note on the SYL canal in January, directing that it must be completed within one year.

Political decency died in the transition of power, as lethal political weapons splashed vitriol through ad-blitzkrieg turning politics into a bad joke. The Congress-Akali feud entered courts with both sides filing criminal/corruption cases against each other. The Congress “poll-vault” to power saw vindictive politics and autocratic rule strike roots. Thus political confrontation remained a hallmark of 2002.

There was greater realisation about sufferings of the people but very little action on the ground. But the government actions and Punjabis’ resilience helped face and fight drought. But neither paid attention to problems of the youth and the drug-addiction menace

Evolution in thinking towards economic/fiscal reforms was seen and a small beginning made. There were promises to “reconstruct” Punjab through development of the infrastructure, education, health, corruption-free good governance, reforms in the power sector and implementation of recommendations of the Chief Minister’s advisory committees on agriculture, industry, disinvestment, levy of “user charges” on socio-economic services etc.

While development remained stillborn, growth of trade/industry was even slower. However, Capt Amarinder Singh must be credited for at least taking the first few “bold” steps even as the “white paper” later became an alibi or justification for not doing anything. Even as “free” power to agriculture was withdrawn, for an image makeover, thinking developed that powers must be transferred to grassroots institutions under the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. Only partial success was achieved on all these issues.

The Vidhan Sabha celebrated its golden jubilee with past and present MLAs from joint Punjab participating. A one-day special session concluded with this bottom-line: “There is diminishing respect for politicians, a fall in standard of political debates and rising political corruption, which has become a way of life”.

Another special session of the Assembly was held solely to discuss the problems of “kheti and kisan”. But political consensus eluded the resolution that “indicted” the NDA government. Later, Delhi rejected Punjab’s case for “relief” for fighting drought.

Capt Amarinder Singh also created a history of sorts by staging a dharna outside the Prime Minister’s residence in New Delhi, protesting against the Centre’s “step-mother treatment” to the state.

Even as the government struggled to deliver, multiple faultlines appeared in the system. Though Capt Amarinder Singh did not have the desired “free hand” to rectify these, he also failed to first unshackle himself from the coterie around him. Consequently, the Congress lost much of the initial advantage and goodwill of the people as the Chief Minister remained insulated/isolated from his party men, people and bureaucracy by either accident or design. Only influential had their say and way.

Punjab’s social fabric is easily influenced by religion or religious cults or babas or deras. Add to this the heady mixture of Akali brand of religion and politics that does not allow any outside tinkering. The fallout of the SGPC elections is a grim reminder to that. There was, however, a silverlining too: the “job-on-cash” scam in the PPSC that followed the “trapping” of its Chairman, Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu. Given the internal frictions in the Congress/ministry and misplaced priorities, Capt Amarinder Singh could not have asked for more. The PPSC roadshow saw the sacking of selected candidates, the judiciary getting scalded, the intelligence wing and Vigilance Bureau falling apart and police-civil services at war!.

The “anti-corruption, anti-absenteeism, anti-tuition” campaigns eventually lost direction and fizzled out despite several of Mr Badal’s ministers caught in the Vigilance Bureau’s net on charges of corruption. If police ways made “honest” politicians officials uncomfortable, reports also pointed to murky affairs and corrupt practices of some present ministers/bureaucrats. While things fell apart, the government missed on mature advice.


Crime wing to look into EPF scam
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 23
The crime wing of Punjab Police will now supervise investigation into the EPF scam of GGSSTP. Sources told the correspondent that the ADGP, Crime, had written to the SSP Ropar to provide details of the investigation made in the case.

The SP (Headquarter), Mr Varinder Pal Singh, who had been investigating the case initially, briefed the ADGP about till date into the case investigations, last week. The ADGP had now decided to associate its team with the Ropar Police to carry further investigation.

Earlier, sources said keeping in view the complexity of the case and the suspected involvement a large number of engineers, the ADGP (Vigilance), PSEB, Mr Lalit Bhatia, had written to the DGP Punjab, to hand over its investigation exclusively to the crime wing. However, the ADGP (Crime) after finding the investigation being carried by the Ropar Police into the case satisfactory had decided to supervise and assist in the case, rather than taking on the entire investigation.

The SSP Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, when asked, admitted that the crime wing would supervise the investigation in the EPF scam.

Meanwhile, in an other development, the EPF authorities failed to provide the detailed copy of their rules and regulations to the Ropar Police. The police, in order to determine the extent of the involvement of the EPF authorities, had earlier written to the office of the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (RPFC) to provide the details of their rules and regulations.

The SSP, while admitting that the necessary information was yet to arrive from the EPF office, a special officer had been sent to the RPFC office to collect the relevant documents.

The Engineer Association of the GGSSTP in a memorandum submitted to the SSP Ropar has blamed the RPFC authorities for the scam.


PTU former VC Gurm surrenders
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 23
In a dramatic turn of events, former Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University (PTU) H.S. Gurm, prime accused in the multi- crore PTU scam and had been evading arrest for the past more than two months, surrendered on Saturday evening in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate A.S. Grewal.


Withdraw support to Mufti govt, Cong urged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 23
A former Youth Congress president and chairman of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, today demanded the withdrawal of Congress support to the Mufti government in Jammu and Kashmir.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Bitta lashed out at the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister who, he alleged had been releasing hardcore terrorists. The policy of appeasement and handling the terrorists with a soft approach would create serious problems for the country, he said.

He accused the Mufti of colluding with the ISI, which was bent upon creating crisis in the state. The recent upsurge in killings and the daring attacks on the security forces were the result of the disastrous policies pursued, he said.

He urged Congress President Sonia Gandhi to review support to the Mufti government and save the country from the extremist groups who were trying to destabilise the country.


Allegation on poll deferment denied
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, December 23
The Punjab Local Bodies Minister, Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, has rejected the allegationslavelled by Akali MP Sukhbir Singh Badal that the Congress government did not want to hold civic poll in January as it had assessed that it would suffer heavy defeat.

Talking to this correspondent here today, the minister said the state government had defferred the civic body poll in view of an overstressed law and order machinery. It was likely to be deputed in the neigbouring state of Himachal Pradesh for Assembly election duty. He said a prolonged application of the model code conduct during elections from January to August could adversely affect the present development works.


Badal for disciplinary action in Gujarat case
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 23
The controversy over the alleged objectionable behaviour of three Punjab ministers during the Assembly elections in Gujarat has brought disgrace to the entire Punjabi community. These views were expressed by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal while talking to the press here today.

He said Capt Amarinder Singh before giving a clean chit to his ministers should have asked some agency to verify the authenticity of the news published in a section of media. Mr Badal also distributed the zerox copies of a Gujarati newspaper which had reported the matter. He said instead of protecting the “tainted” ministers, The Chief Minister should have taken strict disciplinary action against them.

Mr Badal, who was here to meet the party leaders in connection with the decision regarding the candidates for the forthcoming municipal elections, said the Congress government had taken the decision to postpone the elections in haste as it was afraid of another defear after Gujarat.

He said the SAD-BJP combine would distribute the ticket after consultations with the local leaders.


Amarinder meets Mohsina
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, December 23
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today met AICC General Secreatary Mohsina Kidwai and discussed political situation in the state.

The controversy over some ministers’ stay at Ahmedabad during canvassing for Gujarat poll also figured in the meeting which lasted for about 30 minutes.

Sources said Capt Amarinder Singh apprised the high-command of his viewpoints and the attempts being made by political rivals to malign the government over “non-issue.’’

The party’s preparations for the forthcoming Assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh also figured in the meeting.


MP promises help to gang-rape victim
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 23
Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, visited the house of a teenaged girl, Ritu, (not her real name) who was allegedly gang raped by some unidentified persons on the Amroh-Dharampur road on November 6, 2002 at Alera village, near Talwara yesterday.

According to a press note issued here today Mr Channi met the victim, her father and some residents of the village. He listened to the victim’s tale of woe, who was still under shock.

He expressed concern over the crime and condemned.

Mr Kirti Kumar, father of the girl, said members of the joint action committee comprising residents of the village and employees of BBMB, Talwara, collected Rs 1.5 lakh for his daughter’s treatment.

The joint action committee had been constituted to fight for justice and pressurise the authorities concerned for arresting the culprits. Mr Kumar alleged the district administration had done nothing for the victims treatment. The matter was reported to the Talwara police, who rounded up one of the suspects. But he also allegedly escaped from police custody.

Mr Avtar Krishan, Thakur Amar Singh, Mr Chaman Lal, Mr Darbara Singh, Mr Subhash Chander Singhal, Mr Jagdish Chander, Mr Sansar Chand all members of the committee while briefing Mr Channi about the incident, alleged that they were being harassed and pressurised by the district authorities to remain silent over the issue.

Mr Channi assured the father of the victim and members of the committee that he would take up the matter with higher ups soon.

He also said with their cooperation, he would make arrangements for the education of the girl.

The joint action committee had earlier staged a day-long dharna in front of the Talwara police station on December 14.


Jagmeet joins fight for female child
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Female foeticide is “kanswad” and any practising doctor found guilty on this account should be punished with a minimum five-year ban on practice, advocates Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP, the latest to join the bandwagon of MPs from Punjab who are subscribing to issue-based-politics.

In fact, the number of such parliamentarians taking up social distortions and concerns has been on the upswing for the past couple of years. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia are the other MPs who are credited with raising various issues of public and general interest.

While Mr Mann and Mr Ramoowalia have taken up issues like the exploitation of unemployed youth by “human smugglers operating in the garb of travel agents and manpower agents”, very little has been done by Punjab politicians in general and MPs in particular about the disturbing menace of female foeticide.

One-time firebrand MP from Faridkot Jagmeet Brar who turned out to be the chief speaker for the Congress when the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (Regulation and Prevention of Misuse) Amendment Bill, 2002, came up for debate in the Lok Sabha yesterday, also expressed concern over the drastic distortion in the sex ratio in northern states, including Punjab and Haryana, and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.

“Female foeticide amounts to murder and those doctors or medical laboratories conducting the sex-determination test are liable to be prosecuted under Section 302, IPC,” said Mr Brar, holding that his head hangs in shame as the state he represents figures high on the list of those where the female ratio was declining steeply.

Mr Brar eulogised the role and contribution of some great women of Punjab, including Mata Nanki, Mata Gujri, Mai Bhago and others, saying that the Punjabis in general and Sikhs in particular have always held women in high esteem.

Accusing some major national and multinational companies of making huge profits from the sale of their ultrasound and other diagnostic machines used in the sex determination test, Mr Brar said all such companies must volunteer to supply information about the clinics, laboratories, and others misusing such machines without getting these registered.

He revealed that a Judicial Bench headed by Mr Justice M.B. Shah had directed that all ultrasound machines used without licence should be seized immediately. Appreciating the proposed amendment to the Bill, he said such machines had primarily become “killing machines”.

Appreciating the role of NGOs and individuals, especially women activists, in the fight against female foeticide, Mr Brar said all such women and social activists should be appointed members of the state supervisory boards as proposed in the amended Act. He also wanted a complete ban on advertisements about ultrasound machines in any form.


Jor Mela: admn expecting 10 lakh visitors
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 23
The district administration has completed all arrangements for the smooth conduct of Saheedi Jor Mela that is to be held from December 25 to 28. The mela is held to remember the sacrifice of two sons of Guru Gobind Singh. Lakhs of persons from all over the globe come here to pay their obeisance to the martyrs.

The main attraction of the fair will be a light-and-sound programme, ‘Sirhind Ki Dastan’, organised by the Public Relations Department. At a press conference organised here, Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, Senior Superintendent of Police, said security arrangements for more than 10 lakh expected visitors were in place.

Wine shops around the site would remain closed for three days of the fair. Gambling and dirty dancing at the fair would not be allowed. The leaves of all employees of the administration have been cancelled.

Information centres and make-shift facilities of drinking-water, toilet and dispensary have been set up for visiting devotees. About 2,300 police personnel are taking care of the security aspect. Eight checkpoints have been set up on roads leading to the fair site and 13 new parking lots have been made. No vehicle would be allowed to be parked on the mela site.

Traffic-diversion plans are in place and helplines (223100, 233773 and 232244) have been set up for devotees. The DC and the SSP sought public cooperation in the smooth conduct of the fair. Community kitchens have been organised with the help of the panchayats of all villages of the state. More than 200 such kitchens have become operational already.

With time, the fair has become highly politicised, as ruling political parties use this opportunity to highlight their achievements and announce policies. The Opposition uses it to condemn these policies.

This year, Capt Kanwaljit Singh and Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, senior leaders, are making arrangements for the Shiromani Akali Dal conference, while, when they were in power, the district administration used to do it for them. Capt Kanwaljit said the party would announce its action plan against the Congress at the conference. Mr Parkash Singh Badal would address the gathering.

The SAD and Congress platforms at the fair site are bang opposite each other, so, the public will get to listen to juicy rebuttals. Capt Amarinder Singh, who has, earlier, been addressing rallies here in the capacity of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee president, will now address a rally in the capacity of the Chief Minister.

Mr Sikandar Singh, president of the DCC, said the PCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and some Congress leaders at the Centre would also address the party rally. The other political parties will be here as well. Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Baba Sarvjot Singh Bedi and Mr Ravi Inder Singh of the Panthic Morcha, besides Mr. Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the SAD (A) will be among them.


Cultural meeting concludes
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 23
The four-day Kala Sangam All-India Open Cultural Meet-2002 concluded here today.

At least 500 artistes from various parts of the country participated in the meet.

A procession was taken out in which almost all artistes performed their items in the main markets of the town.

The other attraction of the programme was qawalis by Bakhshi Rasoolpuri and his party from Chittorgarh.

The Sat Rishi award was conferred on musician Sudarshan Sharma during the meet, which was organised by Rama Kala Mandir.Mr Raghunath Sahai, Punjab minister and Prof. Shamrinder Sharma Political Adviser to Mr Vinod Khanna, announced a grants of Rs 50,000 and Rs 1,00,000, respectively, for the club.


PSEB begins payment to Railways
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 23
The supply of coal to the Punjab State Electricity Board’s thermal plants is likely to improve in the coming days with the board prevailing on the Railway authorities to resume placing wagons at the disposal of coal companies to carry coal to the plants after releasing Rs 5 crore as payment.

The board had also promised to pay Rs 35 crore to the Railways today but could not make the payment. Official sources, however, disclosed that the payment was expected to be made tomorrow.

The sources disclosed that the PSEB had released Rs 5 crore as payment of coal being supplied to the Bathinda plant due to the critical coal stock position there. They said the plant had only 22,000 metric tonnes of coal in stock which amounted to a consuming period of four days. They said the coal stock had also decreased at the Ropar plant to four days’ stock of 1.20 lakh metric tonnes while the position was slightly more comfortable at Lehra Mohabbat which had nearly 14 days of coal stock available with it.

Board sources said the placement of wagons at the disposal of Coal India Limited by the Railways picked up a few days ago when the board drew up a fresh timetable to pay dues (calculated by it at Rs 220 crore) to the Railways. They said for the first time today all three thermal plants had received coal today with the Bathinda plant getting six rakes and the Ropar and Lehra Mohabbat plants two rakes each.

The sources said though coal supply to the PSEB was likely to improve in the coming days, the board had still not been able to settle the dues it owed to the Railways. While the board claims it owes the Railways around Rs 220 crore, the Railways has pegged this amount at Rs 660 crore. The Railways had calculated the dues by levying a surcharge of 15 per cent on coal being supplied to the board on the plea that the board had reneged on an agreement under which a months coal freight bill was to be paid in advance to the Railways.


Dharna by shopkeepers over police ‘frame-up’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 23
Hundreds of shopkeepers of the local Goal Market today staged a dharna outside police division No. 6 and blocked traffic on the road for about two hours to protest against the alleged implication of a shopkeeper in a false case on the complaint of a gunman of the SP (City), Mr Rakesh Kaushal.

Mr Sukhjit Singh, owner of a garage at Goal market, alleged that he along with his family members caught two thieves from his shop, which was closed due to a holiday, while trying to steal some items late in the afternoon yesterday.

Subsequently, two persons posing themselves as the gunmen of SP (City) entered the garage and instructed them to free the thieves failing which they threatened to get them booked in a false case. The gunmen, one of them identified as Rajinder Kumar, entered into a scuffle with the shopowner even as the thieves escaped from the spot.

Later, Rajinder Kumar submitted a complaint with the authorities at police division No. 6 and a case was registered under various sections of the IPC. The police arrested the Mr Sukhjit Singh and his brothers, Mr Hardeep Singh and Mr Partap Singh, in this connection.

Members of the Goal Market Shopkeepers Association, however, approached the police authorities to secure the release of Mr Hardeep Singh and Mr Partap Singh late in the night while alleging that a fake case had been registered against Mr Sukhjit Singh.

The shopkeepers observed a strike in the market today and blocked traffic on the road for about two hours. They also raised anti-police slogans. Later they sat on a dharna outside the police division No. 6 for the alleged police high-handedness. The police released Mr Sukhjit Singh and ordered an inquiry into the matter. Mr Kaushal was not available for comments.


Pulse polio campaign on Jan 5, Feb 9
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 23
More than 70,000 children will be administered polio drops in the district during the state-level pulse polio campaign on January 5 and February 9, said Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, while presiding over a meeting of district officials here. He said more than 2,200 employees of the health as well as other departments have been deputed for this purpose. Besides, social, religious and voluntary organisations of the district have been involved in carrying out this noble cause.

Mr Kiranjit Kumar, Civil Surgeon, said all employees would be given a one-day training for this purpose. He said officials have started organising meetings for creating awareness among the masses for this cause.


Bank retirees demand pension option
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 23
Retirees of the Bank of India, from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir and the Union Territory of Chandigarh, yesterday urged the Ministry of Finance, to extend the second option of pension to all those who had retired between 1995 to 2002 onwards, with contributory pension as the last option in banking industry being given in the year 1995. Mr Lajpat Rai Thakral, general secretary of the Bank of India Retirees Association, in a press note issued here yesterday, said lakhs of employees could not opt for pension and their worries had further multiplied with plummeting interest rates on deposits.

Members of the association also demanded the membership of Bank of India retired employees medical aid scheme from the bank’s management, which had been denied to the VRS employees.

They further demanded that all cases pending in various courts relating to benefit of five years of additional service and reduction in rate of interest on ex-gratia payments deposited with the bank during payment days of ex-gratia during the year 2001 should be settled expeditiously.


Students allowed to take exams
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Taking up a petition filed by the students of an engineering institute alleging illegal withholding of roll numbers by Punjab Technical University, Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the respondents to allow the petitioners to appear for the examinations at their “own risk and responsibility”.

Issuing the directions in the open Court, Mr Justice Mittal observed: “A mention has been made by counsel appearing for the petitioners that they are first semester students of Bachelor of Engineering and are pursuing their studies in GGS College of Modern Technology in Kharar. He has further mentioned that the first semester examinations have already commenced on December 20, but till date PTU has not not issued their roll numbers. According to counsel, in view of the matter, the petitioners have been deprived of their chance to appear in the examination”.

Fixing January 6 as the next date of hearing in the case, the Judge concluded: “In the meanwhile, in order to avoid hardship to the petitioners, it is directed that the respondents shall allow them to appear in the examination at their own risk and responsibility. However, this permission granted to the petitioners to appear in the examination shall not confer any right upon them , which shall be subject to the final decision of the writ petition”.

In their petition, Jagmohanvir Singh and others had earlier sought permission to direct the university and the college to allow them to take practical and theory examination. Counsel had added that the students had attended their classes regularly and had also submitted the requisite fee for admission and examination purposes.


Closure of circus recommended
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, December 23
Gunning for circuses inflicting cruelty on animals to make them perform in front of audiences, the Animal Welfare Board of India under the Ministry of Environment and Forests has prescribed strong action by the District Magistrate (DM) against a circus here today, ordering its closure and booking of a case for violation of the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Bharat Circus, being held in the Goal Bagh in the holy city for the past many days, has attracted strictures by the board under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960.

The written communication to the DM, a copy of which is with The Tribune, comes close on the heels of a police case against a circus in Jalandhar after objections were raised against it by the Board.

In an exclusive talk with The Tribune, Dr Sandeep Jain, executive member, Animal Welfare Board of India said from Ludhiana a communication in this regard had also been sent to Justice GM Lodha, Chairman of the board in Chennai, the Director of Animal Welfare Department in Delhi and Mrs Preneet Kaur, MP and member of the Animal Welfare Board, Patiala, and SSP, Amritsar, to take requisite action in case of violations under Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.

Bharat Circus is alleged to be flouting rules and regulations of the Act. It is believed that owners are also not in possession of proper registration papers of the circus by the prescribed authority, the Animal Welfare Board of India. The animals are being kept in an unhealthy atmosphere in constricted cages and being made to perform with fire and loud noises. Dr Jain has directed the DM to order the “closure” of the circus in case its owner does not possess registration from the Animal Welfare Board of India.


Car of complainant in Bhattal case hit
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 23
The local Human Rights Action Group has demanded a thorough inquiry into the mishap involving Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon, advocate and complainant in an embezzlement case registered against Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Agriculture Minister, alleging that Mr Dhillon’s car was hit with a view to eliminate him under a deep-rooted conspiracy.

Mr Suman Prabhakar, office secretary of the Group, said Mr Dhillon’s car had been hit by a canter from behind, on the Bathinda-Mansa road yesterday. He alleged that there was no traffic on the road at the time of the accident. As Mr Dhillon had survived an attempt on life, a thorough inquiry was needed, Mr Prabhakar added. The police has registered a case under Sections 307 and 427 of the IPC.


Action against tehsildar sought
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 23
A deputation of the Rampura Phul Bar Association met the Deputy Commissioner Mr Anurag Verma, and sought action against the Rampura Phul tehsildar for allegedly misbehaving with two advocates when they appeared in his court on December 17. The lawyers have been boycotting his court since then.


Adopt commercial outlook, farmers urged
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 23
The Krishi Vigyan Kendra of Punjab Agricultural University Ludhiana here and ATMA jointly organised a function to celebrate ‘Kisan Divas’ as part of the 100th birth anniversary celebrations of former Prime Minister Charan Singh. Dr H.S. Hansra, Additional Director General Extension ICAR was the chief guest and Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, presided.

Various experts of the university emphasised on the diversification of vocational crops and impressed upon the farmers to take steps to reduce the cost of production and increase quality of the produce.

Dr Hansra, speaking on the occasion, said the Government of India, with the help of the states, had planned to diversify 25 lakh acre of land from rotational crops within 5 years.


BKU(E) holds protest march
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 23
A large number of activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta), led by its district president Jhanda Singh Jethuke, today held a protest march through the town and burnt effigies of the WTO and Union and Punjab governments on the main road near the office of the Deputy Commissioner here in protest against their “anti-farmer” policies and in support of the farmers’ demands.

Addressing the farmers, Mr Jethuke said the Punjab Government had snatched free power supply from the farmers under pressure from the World Bank. Besides, the Union Government had also been planning to stop the purchase of farmers’ produce at the minimum support price (MSP). Due to such “anti-farmer” policies of the Union and state governments, the farmers were committing suicides, he added.

Mr Jethuke also called upon the weaker sections of society and farmers to form organisations to hold agitations and achieve their targets relating to their prosperity and progress.

Mr Shingara Singh Mann, district general secretary of the BKU, asked the government to waive the loans of poor farmers and labourers. Besides, they should be provided loans in future at cheaper rates of interest. He also demanded scrapping of Articles 63-C and 67-A of the Cooperative Act. He also demanded drought-hit status for Punjab and compensation for the farmers whose standing crops had been damaged in the recent past due to drought.

The farmers were also addressed by Mr Surjit Singh Gill Kalan, state press secretary of the BKU, Mr Mothu Singh, district senior vice-president of the BKU and Mr Natha Singh, district secretary of the BKU.

MANSA: On the call of its state executive body, activists of the BKU(E), including women, led by the BKU district president, Mr Ram Singh Bhainibhaga, gathered at the mall godown here today and marched to the district administrative complex after passing through the bazars of the city raising slogans. They burnt the effigies of the WTO and the Central and state governments near the district administrative complex.


Four shops demolished
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 23
The Patiala Municipal Corporation today demolished four shops constructed in a residential site in the Model Town area by a retired Colonel with the help of police and Special Magistrate.

The issue had taken the shape of a controversy when the Col (retd) P I S Phoolka ‘’imprisoned’’ a Municipal Corporation Commissioner who visited his residence on December 18. The Army officer had claimed that the municipal employee had demanded a bribe of Rs 5,000 from him. Corporation employees reacted by staging a dharna.

Consequently, the corporation had postponed the demolition of the shops constructed by the retired Army man and made a request to the district administration to depute a police force to demolish the illegal construction.

Mayor Vishnu Sharma said the demolition was conducted under the supervision of Tehsildar Subhash Sharma. He said the exercise had been started in the evening and completed in a short period.


Illegal structure demolished
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 23
An unauthorised religious structure was demolished by the Municipal Corporation authorities in a demolition operation here today. The structure was under construction and was nearly raised to three storeys on about 150 square yards of land.

Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner of the corporation, said the demolition was undertaken under the municipal Town Planner, Mr B.R. Batra, and no untoward incident was reported from the area.


Kidnappers held, boy rescued
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 23
The joint police party of Rajasthan and Delhi police today rescued a 13-year-old boy allegedly kidnapped a few days ago from Amrisar’s Katra Ahluwalia locality, near the Golden Temple.

The police arrested two brothers — Vikas and Rajan — and their mother Nirmala Devi, all residents of Amritsar.

The kidnappers had initially demanded Rs 17 crore as ransom. Later, the amount was settled for Rs 4 crore. Vikas and Happy went to Jaipur to collect the amount where they were nabbed by the police.

On getting information, the police raided their residence their Amritsar and arrested their mother Nirmala Devi. Three revolvers and one gun were seized from the residence.

The father of Vikas and Rajan has not been living with them for the past six years.

The SP (City), confirmed the arrests.


SAD leader booked
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 23
The police has registered a case on the complaint of Mr Jiwan Kumar, under Sections 8 and 9 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, against Krishan Singh, a SAD leader and municipal councillor of Tapa, Sangrur district.

According to the complainant, a resident of Mansa, the SAD leader had promised the job of a primary teacher for his sister through the then Education Minister Punjab, Mr Tota Singh.

The complainant further said the deal was struck at Rs 3 lakh, of which Rs 1 lakh was paid on July 20, 2001, and another Rs 1 lakh was paid on July 27, 2001. The remaining amount was to be paid after the declaration of results.

When the complainant found that the name of his sister had not been included in the list of selected candidates he approached the accused and requested him to either get his sister appointed or refund the amount.

The Senior Superintendent of Police, Barnala, on getting the complaint ordered the registeration of a case after conducting an inquiry.


Gang of robbers busted, four held
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, December 23
The local police has arrested four persons, who it claimed, were responsible for a number of robberies in the area. Two scooters, two cycles and electronic gadgets were recovered from them.

Disclosing this here today, district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal said besides two scooters and two cycles, one VCR, a CD player and a television set were also recovered from them. The four arrested persons have been identified as Gurdhian Singh, Beeja Singh, Sukhdev Singh and Vishal. The SSP said one more person, who was also a member of the gang and was absconding, had been identified as Johny Kumar. He said a case under Section 411 of the IPC had been registered against the arrested persons in the Civil Lines police station.


Govt to open 1910 computer centres
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
The Punjab Education Department has decided to set up 1910 centres in the state to impart computer education to schools students from class VI onwards. Each centre will cater to the needs of students within a radius about 5 Km. The fee per student will be Rs 10. Computers will be a compulsory subject.

Education Minister, Khushal Bahl said the first batch of 25 centres would be opened on April 1. It may be mentioned the SAD-BJP Government had also started computer education for students on an experimental basis in certain schools but the experiment failed.

Meanwhile, the redeployment of teachers is in progress. This process is expected to be completed by March 31. Senior master-cadre teachers will be deployed to handle classes X and XI while freshers will be posted in elementary schools (up to class VIII). Asked when the government would fill vacant posts, Mr Bahl said a proposal in this connection would be submitted to the Council of Ministers.

The government was probing the cases of teachers who had got employment on the basis of fake degrees. A report in this connection would be submitted to the Punjab and Haryana High Court soon.


HC order puts varsity students in quandary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 23
Parents of newly admitted MBBS students of Baba Farid University here today apprehended that their children may be asked to re-appear for counselling on December 30 and December 31.

Quoting a Punjab Government direction in the wake of the Punjab and Haryana High Court decision to adjust those meritorious students who were not considered because they did not “prefer” BDS course in the list of “preference” asked to be filled by students.

Parents of the admitted students said if their children, who have already studied for more four months, were asked again to come for counselling they would approach the high court or even the Supreme Court. They said around 400 students who were selected as per the prospectus declaration, would be disturbed through this new arrangement.

They said the court had directed the university to adjust those students who were not considered for admission as they only preferred MBBS course and did not choose other options of BDS and BMS.

The parents said those admitted had filled all three preferences and were given courses accordingly. They said these students after getting selected in Punjab did not even exercise other options in other educational institutions. They have now formed a coordination committee to fight for the rightful selection of their children.

Parents said on September 10 and 11 when the counselling for MBBS was going on, it had been informed by the university that those who did not exercise any preference would not be considered for any other course.

Subsequently, the second and third counselling had been stalled as per the court order. They said the students who approached could now be adjusted with the approval of Laxmi Bai College of Patiala and Desh Bhagat Singh College Muktsar, both dental colleges.


Sangrur Zone Youth Fest results
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December, 23
The four-day long Punjabi University Sangrur Zone Youth Festival concluded at the local S.D.College on Saturday evening in which about 1,000 student participants belonging to various colleges of Sangrur Zone competed in 20 categories.

On the conclusion of the festival, S.D. College Barnala, Government College, Malerkotla and Lal Bahadur Shastri Arya Mahila College, Barnala secured first, second and third positions respectively in this Youth Festival.

The results of this Youth Festival in detail are as follows. Dances (Gidha: Recommended-Government College, Malerkotla. Commended-Lal Bahadur Shastri Arya Mahila College, Barnala and Government Ranbir College, Sangrur.

Bhangra: Recommended-S.D. College, Barnala. Commended-Government College, Malerkotla and Government College, Sangrur.

Classical Dance: Recommended-Government College, Sangrur. Commended-Government Ripudaman College, Nabha and Arya Mahila College, Barnala).

Literary Items (Debate: Recommended-Miss Ratneshwari Bhardwaj Arya Mahila Barnala, and Miss Sandeepinder Kaur Akal Degree College for Girls Sangrur, Commended-Gagandeep and Harjot.

Poetical Recitation: Recommended-Jaspreet Kaur Government College, Sangrur and Karan Kant Uppal Government College, Malerkotla.

Quiz: Recommended-Akal Degree College, Mastuana and Government College, Sangrur, Commended-S.D. Barnala and A.D. Girls Sangrur.

Elocution: Recommended-Krishan Kant Uppal Government College, Malerkotla and Indu Sharma, S.D. Barnala.

Music Items (Classical Vocal) Recommended-Mr Neeraj Sharma. Commended-Miss Alka Government College, Sangrur.

Classical Instrument Percussion: Recommended-Nazir Mohammad Government College, Malerkotla and Commended-Nitin Sharma S.D. College, Barnala.

Classical Instrument, Non-Percussion: Recommended-Shailja S.D. College, Barnala and commended-Soni Singh, Government College, Sangrur.

Orchestra: Recommended-S.D. College Barnala, and Commended-Government College, Malerkotla and Arya Mahila College, Barnala.

Group Song: Recommended-Government College, Malerkotla, Commended-S.D. College, Barnala and Arya Mahila Barnala.

Group Shabad: Recommended-S.D. College, Barnala. Commended-A.D. Girls College, Sangrur.

Geet Gazal: Recommended-Jaspreet Kaur, A.D. Girls College, Sangrur, Commended-Harjit Kaur Akal Degree College, Mastuana.

Folk Song: Recommended- Kulwinder Singh S.D. College Barnala, Commended- Gurwinder Singh and Amitinder Singh, Gayan Vaar: Recommended- Government College, Malerkotla, Commended-S.D. College Barnala and Government Ripudaman Nabha.

Theatre Art (One Act Play) Recommended-Desh Bhagat College, Bardwal and Commended-S.D. College Barnala, Histrionics: Recommended-Government College, Sangrur, Commended-Arya Mahila College Barnala.

Costume Parade fancy dress: Recommended-Shanti Tara College, Ahmedgarh. Commended-Government College, Malerkotla.

Costume Parade traditional punjabi: Recommended- Akal Degree College, Mastuana, Commended-Government Kirti College, Nial Patran.

Mimicry: Recommended-Government College, Malerkotla. Commended-S.D. College, Barnala.

Group Skit: Recommended-Government Ripudaman Nabha, Commended- Arya Mahila Barnala and AD Girls Sangrur.

Group Mime: Recommended-Government College, Malerkotla, Commended-Arya Mahila Barnala and Government College, Sangrur.

Fine Arts (Poster Making) Recommended-Miss Amandeep and Harpreet Arya Mahila College, Barnala, Commended-Navdeep Singh S.D. College Barnala.

On the Spot Painting: Recommended-Gurpreet Singh D.B. Bardwal and Mohammad Iqbal Government College, Malerkotla, Commended-Buta Singh Government Ripudaman Nabha.

Cartooning: Recommended-Namita Arora Government Ripudaman Nabha and Pooja Arya Mahila Barnala, Commended-Chetan and Rishav S.D. College Barnala, Collage: Recommended-Shabana Khan, S.D. College, Barnala and Satwant Singh, Government College, Malerkotla, Commended-Vishvjot Government College, Sangrur, Rangoli: Recommended-Anita, Arya Mahila, Barnala and Ramandeep AD Girls College Sangrur, Commended-Geetu, S.D. College, Barnala and Pooja.

R.D. Jain College for Women, Malerkotla. Clay Modelling: Recommended-Gurpreet Kaur and Kamalpreet Kaur, Arya Mahila Barnala and Commended-Mohammad Javed, Government College, Malerkotla).


UGC refresher course
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 23
The Punjabi University Pro Vice-Chancellor, Prof R.N. Pal, today inaugurated a three-week UGC refresher programme here.

Professor Pal said the workshop, on the issue of ‘Emerging business environment and contemporary management practices’, was related with the current situation in the country. He said interaction between the resource persons and the participants would help in bringing forward some aspects relating to competition in the global market. Dr Pushpinder Singh Gill, coordinator of the programme, spoke about achievements of the department and the course curriculum.

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