Monday, December 30, 2002, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



25 buses flagged off for Afghanistan
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), December 29
A convoy of 25 buses was flagged off from the border joint checkpost here today for war-torn Afghanistan as a New Year gift.

With this, Afghanistan has received 75 buses in three consignments as a goodwill gesture from India.

Twentyfive drivers, three engineers and six transport officials from Afghanistan accompanied the buses on their 1,400-km long journey through Lahore, Peshawar, Jalalabad to the Chaman border between Pakistan and Afghanistan before proceeding on to Kabul.

Mohammed Samim Hamraz, Second Secretary, Embassy of Afghanistan in Pakistan, received the buses from the Pakistan side of the Wagah border. Mr Abdul Hafiz Karmai, president, supplies and procurement, Ministry of Transport, Afghanistan, and his deputy Mr Abdul Khaliq accompanied the buses.

Mr Hamraz said Afghanistan would remain grateful to India for this gesture. About repairs and reconstruction of gurdwaras in Pakistan, he said talks had been held with the SGPC which had assured all support in this connection. “India and Afghanistan have been allies and shared common ties since time of the Mughals. These would be sustained by Afghani people,” he added while confirming that Afghani Sikhs have returned to their homeland.

Afghanistan needed at least 1500 buses to create complete transport facilities as rail lines were non-existent there.

The toughest model with left-hand drive, 55 seats, pressure doors and barred windows for rough roads have been provided to the Afghanistan Government.

As many as 425 remaining buses would be delivered to the Afghanistan Government with next consignments, said Mr Nand Kishore Luthra, representative of Telco in Afghanistan.


Restart talks with Pak: Karan Singh

Jalandhar, December 29
Former Union Minister and Rajya Sabha member Karan Singh today advocated the need of opening a dialogue with Pakistan for the solution of the Kashmir issue.

“Kashmir issue cannot be solved by shutting down the bilateral dialogue process with Pakistan and the Indian Government should take initiative to restart the dialogue process which was stalled after the Agra summit,” he told reporters here.

He said militant groups should also be called for a dialogue as without their involvement, no permanent solution could be achieved.

He also urged all political parties to support the electoral reforms Bill and said the time was ripe to break the alleged nexus between the mafia and politicians to clean the political system.

“The point of compulsory voting should also be included in the poll reforms Bill as in today’s scenario no politician represents the true mandate due to lower poll turnout in the elections,” he said.

Regarding the performance of the NDA government, Dr Karan Singh said credit should be given to the Union Government which was that it had managed to survive for three and half years, despite 23 political parties having different ideologies and agendas forming the alliance.

Earlier, he addressed a meeting of the National Thinkers Forum and discussed various issues, including electoral reforms, economic situation and other social issues. PTI


SGPC to appeal against Sajjan’s acquittal
Tribune News Service

Alamgir (Ludhiana), December 29
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) will move the Delhi High Court against the acquittal of Congress leader and former MP, Mr Sajjan Kumar. Disclosing this here today, the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, told TNS that the mandatory legal formalities were being worked out and the appeal against his acquittal would be filed very soon.

The SGPC chief maintained that the Sikh psyche had been deeply hurt by the acquittal of Mr Kumar. He regretted that the facts unearthed by the investigating agencies about the 84 riots had been ignored. He said the SGPC would take up the issue with the union government also

The SGPC president also objected to the dance by girls at the Congress stage during the just concluded Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib. He alleged, the “Congress had hurt the sentiments of Sikhs and betrayed the very purpose of the Jora Mela by organising vulgar dances at its stage just to attract more people”.


Levy rice worth 200 cr lying in mills
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, December 29
The rice milling industry in Punjab is in the doldrums since for the past more than one and a half months’ the process of the purchase of levy rice by the government has virtually come to a standstill. Besides, rice millers, commission agents and farmers have been affected. According to an estimate, levy rice stock worth about Rs 200 crore is lying in rice mills in Ferozepore district along and is yet to be purchased. Rice millers have expressed their inability to make payments to commission agents. In turn the farmers are also facing a financial crunch as they are not being financed by commission agents. Recently, a deputation of commission agents and farmers met Mr Sukhdev Singh, District Food and Civil Supplies Controller, Ferozepore, and apprised him of their problems.

He said the Punjab Government had written to the Centre, asking it for clear guidelines regarding the purchase of levy rice.

Mr Surjit Singh Dhaban, vice-president of the state unit of the Kisan Union (Ekta), in statement issued here today, alleged that the Union Government was intentionally delaying the payment of bonus to the farmers. He said if the government did not intend to purchase levy rice then it should have clarified its stand during the procurement season.

Mr Des Raj Jossan and Mr Sher Singh, representatives of the Commission Agents Association of Punjab, in a joint statement, said they were facing a severe financial crunch. They maintained that farmers were approaching them for more financial assistance even as rice millers were not paying heed to their pleas. They have demanded the intervention of the state government for releasing the payments.

Mr Hair Papneja, vice-president of the Rice Millers Association, Punjab, has alleged that the Union Government was hell-bent on ruining the rice milling industry in Punjab. On the commencement of the procurement season, the government started the purchase of levy rice at a snail’s pace, citing drought relief and the payment of bonus of Rs 20 per quintal on paddy as the reason.

He disclosed that the rice millers in the state had purchased 14 lakh tonnes of paddy during the current season, while the government has so far purchased only 25 per cent of the levy rice.


Rules ‘kill’ quality, transparency
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 29
The Department of Local Bodies Punjab instead of promoting transparency seems to be discouraging competition amongst bidding contractors by framing rules to this effect.

Sources said local bodies charged five per cent of the estimated project cost as earnest money, while the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) and the Punjab Police Housing Corporation charged just one per cent. The PWD (B&R), Public Health and other Punjab Government undertakings charge only two per cent as earnest money. The sources added that earnest money deposited by the contractors was adjusted in the last bill by the Local Bodies Department while all other Punjab government undertakings did it in the very first bill itself. The department of local bodies deducts security at the rate of 10 per cent of the billed amount from all current bills and also the final bill, the other Punjab Government undertakings deduct five per cent only as security from the current bills.

The sources said to ensure a control, quality and faster execution the Punjab Government had directed the departments concerned to supply steel, cement and other materials to the contractors but these orders were seldom implemented by the Local Bodies Department. As the department was not supplying the material, the contractors were using cheaper material.

The Local Bodies to minimise the competition amongst the contractors enlists them in their lists. A contractor, already enlisted with the Punjab PWD is eligible to apply for tenders throughout the state and even for the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) works and the Indian Railways, the contractors enlisted even with the Municipal Corporations like Ludhiana were “not eligible” to bid even it ‘C’ class Municipal Councils.

Mr J.S. Brar, President, The Punjab Contractors’ Association, said the poor quality of work in some of the developmental works undertaken by the municipal bodies were the result of “thin” competition and near lack of transparency in these areas. He said that to improve the quality of work being executed by the municipal authorities the rules should be made on a par with the rules governing Punjab PWD Works.

He said the association would take up the matter with the higher authorities, urging them to enforce the recommendations of the Premia Committee, asking these departments to supply construction material to the contractors. He added that the departments should do away with the old rules.


1 lakh pension cases bogus: minister

Moga, December 29
Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister Raghunath Sahai said here today that more than 1.08 lakh old-age pension cases have been found bogus after verification and the state government has ordered an inquiry into the alleged mass irregularities in the sanction of old-age pensions during the previous SAD-BJP government in the state.

Addressing mediapersons at the residence of former Punjab minister and AICC member Malti Thapar, Mr Sahai said the state government had issued instructions to the department concerned to start the payment of old-age pensions from January 1 next year and clear the backlog of the pending old-age pension up to October 2002.

The minister further said the Punjab Urban Development Authority(PUDA) had formulated a programme to construct houses in almost all important towns for the weaker sections of the society and every house would have two rooms, a verandah, a kitchen and would cost Rs 65,000. The project of 100 such houses would be launched from Sujjanpur in Gurdaspur district by January 15 next year.

He said PUDA had also decided to create five more sectors in Mohali. PUDA was facing some cash crunch as the previous SAD-BJP government had misused the funds but now with the effective steps taken by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, the financial position of PUDA had improved, he added.

The Housing minister also expressed concern over the unnecessary delay in the completion of the Rs 15 crore international level sports stadium at Moga town due to paucity of funds, saying that he would himself visit the town soon and inspect the delayed project with the senior PUDA officials. UNI


Six arrested for robbery
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, December 29
Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said here today that all six members of a gang identified as Navtej Singh of Jhaba in Tarn Taran police district, Sajan, resident of Khinnowala, Sultan alias Raj Pal Amandeep Singh, Lakhwinder Singh alias Lakha and Baljit Singh, all residents of Amritsar had been arrested. They were active in Punjab, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, he added. The police recovered one single barrel gun and few sharp-edged weapons from their possession, the SSP said.

Gurnek Singh, involved in the embezzlement of Rs 1.3 lakh of Bajaj Motor Cycle company at Jandiala Guru where he worked as cashier in collusion with Navtej Singh, one of the accused, is still at large.

Interrogation of the accused revealed that there were six gangs of robbers active in Amritsar, Tarn Taran, Majitha and Batala districts. The SSP said that many members of these gangs had been nabbed by the police.

The gang had been active for the past three years and disclosed having committed 20 robberies.

The SSP said the arrested confessed to stealing a Tata Sumo car from New Delhi and sold it in Jammu more than two years ago.

In 2000, the accused stole a Maruti Zen car from Chandigarh and sold it in Delhi. They also stole a Yamaha motor cycle from Ludhiana bus stop and a motor cycle from Ferozepore, the SSP claimed. The accused confessed having snatched three gold chains from several places in Amritsar eight/nine months ago, the SSP said.

The accused also confessed having snatched Rs 70,000 from a person of Meeran Kot (Amritsar), Rs 40,000 from a marriage palace owner and Rs 2.40 lakh from a fertiliser dealer of Amritsar, Rs 1.9 lakh from Bajaj Scooter Agency, Jandiala, Rs 2 lakh from a commission agent of Naushehra Pannuan, Rs 80,000 from a person near Kale Gannupte village in Amritsar district, Rs 3.5 lakh from a bidi trader of Amritsar on July 17, 2001 and Rs 42,000 from a petrol station near Gandhiwind in Tarn Taran district.


Hold House session on graft issue: SAD
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 29
Mr Balwinder Singh Bhundar, MLA from Sardulgarh and the SAD general secretary yesterday urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to call a three-day session of the Punjab Assembly to discuss “corruption”, cases against politicians, MLAs and ministers.

Mr Bhundar said during the session, the details of properties of all MLAs and ministers should be presented. He said besides this an all-party committee, could be formed to look into the properties of the MLAs and ministers.

Mr Bhundar blamed the said Amarinder government of registering false cases of corruption against SAD leaders to defame them.

The SAD leader said during the last Assembly election, the Congress had, in its manifesto, announced that its MLAs would make their assets public, but now they were running away by saying that they had submitted the lists of their property to Mr Manmohan Singh, a senior Congress leader.


Kanjhla SAD’s Sangrur chief

Sangrur, December 29
The long-standing tussle between the factions led by Union Minister Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Uttaranchal Governor Surjit Singh Barnala to register their claims for the presidential post of the district president of the SAD today came to at an end after the elevation of Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla as President of the district unit of the SAD.

The elevation of Mr Kanjhla, an executive committee member of the SAD, became clear when he showed the letter issued in this regard by SAD President Parkash Singh Badal to reporters here.

The post fell vacant about six months back after the demise of Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh, district President of the Sangrur unit. PTI


Ex-serviceman seeks justice
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, December 29
“When no action has been taken against police officials found guilty in an inquiry report submitted by the DSP, endorsed by the SSP and the DIG, from where I would get justice,” lamented Mr Darshan Singh, an ex-serviceman, who has won five Army gallantry awards.

Narrating his tale of woes here today, he alleged that on July 31, 2001, he went to the Thermal police station to get a complaint registered against his neighbours and police officers on duty sought a bribe of Rs 5,000, to which he refused. He said he was beaten up by the police officers in the police station in front of this neighbours, against whom he had gone to lodge a complaint. Not only this, the officers put him and his son under illegal custody and verbally abused his wife, he alleged.

He said after he complained to the then SSP, Dr Jatinder Kumar Jain, an inquiry was conducted and the guilty police officers were named. Similar inquiries were conducted by the then DIG, Mr Rajpal Meena and the officials were indicted once again. He said only after the District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Verma, intervened, a case under Sections 342 and 323, IPC, was registered against Mr Joginder Singh, Sub-Inspector, and head constable, Gurmit Singh at the Thermal police station.

He further alleged that even as the case was registered on October 9, 2002, no official had been suspended or the matter investigated. He alleged that whenever he visited the police station or the office of the district police chief, he was told that his case had been cancelled. He said he had now lodged complaints with the Army authorities and the Punjab Chief Minister.


Family loses son, donates eyes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 29
Three young male members of a family living in a small house of Nai Basti of the town have died in different mishaps in the past four months. The grief-stricken family was trying to come to terms with the tragic deaths of its two young members on August 20 and August 24 this year, the only male member of the family Mr Jagan Nath, a noted teacher of the area, was electrocuted yesterday.

Though deep in grief over the deaths of male members — Sandeep Kumar, was hardly 30 and was in business, his mother Savatri Devi and widow Bharti gathered courage and decided to donate the eyes of their loved one. The entire town was in grief. Two persons went to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana, late last night braving dense fog for carrying donated eyes so that these could be transplanted on to the needy on time. Mr Jagan Nath, commanded respect in the region and retired as headmaster from a government school. He died in July 1998 at the age of 65. His three sons died one by one in the past four months.

Sunil alias Teetu, the elder son of late Jagan Nath died on August 20, 2002 after a fall from his scooter near the bank Sirhind canal, Bathinda branch in the evening. Four days later, the other son Manoj alias Ashoki, an architect, died in the PGI, Chandigarh on August 24, 2002 after he developed a stomach complications. He also died in evening.

The third tragedy struck the family yesterday evening when the youngest son of late Jagan Nath namely Sandeep alias Happy was electrocuted in evening hours. Sandeep was in business. The family has been left with four widows, Savatri of Jagan Nath, Shashi of Sunil, Sareeta of Manoj and Bharti of Sandeep. Sunil and Manoj had two daughters each while Sandeep has one daughter. The family now has no male member.

Funeral of Sandeep today was largely attended as people from all walks of life were present at his cremation. It is learnt that Eyes of deceased Sandeep were transplanted on to two persons at Dayanand Medical College and Hospital Ludhiana.


SAD (A) too against IT on farmers
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 29
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) rejected the Kelkar report suggesting imposition indirect of Income Tax on farmers. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the party and a member of the Lok Sabha, said today farmers already paid 30 per cent indirect taxes and 80 per cent MPs were elected by rural voters mostly farmers and they should reject Kelkar report to protect farmers’ interests. He warned that farm inputs like diesel, fertiliser, machinery, insecticides etc were taxed and farmers paid these taxes in the form of indirect taxes, Mr Mann added. Besides the subsidies to farm sector were being withdrawn. The report would break farmers’ back, he added.

The reports were prepared to benefit capitalists, businessmen and shopkeepers and not for farmers, he added. Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief and Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh were shedding crocodile tears by opposing the recommendations, alleged Mr Mann. How could Mr Badal oppose the Central government as he wanted its support to save himself from corruption cases, asked Mr Mann. Even the Chief Minister was now soft-pedalling on the issue of corruption cases against Mr Badal under a deal, added Mr Mann.


CM urged to shift CIA Inspector
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 29
Punjab Youth Congress leaders and a PPCC member today urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to get Mr Didar Singh, a police Inspector posted in the CIA at Patiala, transferred from the Patiala range.

Mr Jasmer Singh Gill and Mr Sukhwinder Singh (both PYC leaders) and Mr Balwinder Singh, a PPCC member, have also requested Capt Amarinder Singh to order a probe into the assets owned by Mr Didar Singh.

They claimed that Mr Didar Singh had threatened Youth Congress leaders, who had started a campaign against him, to book them in false cases. One of the general secretaries of the Youth Congress, Mr Mastan Singh, had been implicated in the false case, they alleged.

These leaders warned that if Mr Didar Singh was not transferred an agitation would be launched against him. They had earlier staged a dharna against him.


Dera control restored to Baba Gurpinder

Amritsar, December 29
Baba Gurpinder Singh, Chief of the ‘Dera’ Guru Sat-Satlani at Ghrinda village, who was dispossessed of the Dera property was restored its possession today following the orders of the Deputy Commissioner.

Talking to mediapersons here today, the Baba claimed that the order of the Deputy Commissioner restored him all earlier powers to look after and manage the ‘Dera’ property running into the crores of rupees, including one Senior Secondary English Medium School, 300 acres of land in the city, hundreds of cattle heads besides a fleet of Transport owned by the ‘Dera’.

Baba Gurpinder was dispossessed of the ‘Dera’ property on the night of December 23 allegedly by the followers of Bhola Singh following the SDM’s verdict that held Bhola Singh as the real trustee of the ‘Dera’ for controlling its affairs.

On the petition of Baba Gurpinder Singh, the Deputy Commissioner stayed the orders of the SDM and restored him the possession of the Dera property and gurdwara of sixth Guru of Sri Hargobind Sahib adjoining the ‘Dera’ to him. PTI


Dogs have a field day
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, December 29
Every dog has his day but some have it better than others. This was evident at the two-day track races of dogs organised in the nearby Palahi village.

Janbaz, belonging to Dyal Singh Thanedar, stole the show and was awarded the first prize comprising a trophy and Rs 5,100 in cash by eminent social worker, Mr Jagat Singh Palahi today.

“Prince” belonging to Kashmir Singh Batala who bagged the second prize got a trophy and Rs 1,100 in cash. While “Malki” of Boby Sidhu got the third prize, “Hitler” of Budh Singh Dhaleta bagged the fourth position. Besides trophies, cash prizes of Rs 2,100 and Rs 1,100 were given to them respectively. Four other position holders were also awarded on the occasion.

Of the total 59 dogs, 15 had come to participate from abroad and their prices ranged between one lakh and two lakh rupees. The races were organised by the Janata Track Club, Punjab, headed by Surjit Singh Baath. All the dogs were greyhounds and had been given names, mostly after the names of sports personalities such as ‘Steffi’ (after tennis star Steffi Graph), “Michael” (Pop singer Michael Jackson), John (athlete Ben Johnson). ‘Malki’, ‘Robot’, ‘Sultan’, ‘Moonlight’, ‘Shauk’, ‘Hero’, ‘Janbaz’, ‘Hitler’, Prince were among some other names.

The dogs had a field day and were served mineral water. Their owners though they gave them a good massage, picked them in their laps and wrapped them in woollens. Such was their luck that some of them drove to the venue in Mercedes and Sierras. Mr Lakhwinder Singh, secretary of the club, said these dogs had been trained in UK and that some of them had come from America, Germany and Canada even though the greyhound breed belonged to Ireland. They were provided with a diet which an athlete of the 200-metre race gets, he claimed. The daily diet of these sprinter dogs varied from Rs 50 to 100, he said. In summers, they have to be kept in rooms with AC or coolers, he remarked. Later, a dog show was also held.

Meanwhile, the general body meeting of the Janata Track Club, Punjab, today asked the government to allow them, even it is during the limited period of winter, races of dogs with hares on the track course. At present, track races are being organised with a dummy hares. Mr Lakhwinder Singh, secretary of the club, said races with living hares were banned over a decade ago.


Rimpa steals the show
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 29
The second day of the 127th Harballabh Sangeet Sammelan belonged to child prodigy Rimpa Siva. Accompanying Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia on the tabla, Rimpa made music lovers at the local Devi Talaab Temple Complex give standing ovation to her. Rimpa’s presentation of ‘teen taal’ ‘kayidas’, ‘rela’, ‘tukdas’ and parnas’ was such that it even mesmerised regulars to the sammelan who had heard the likes of ustad Zakir Husain.

The speed and perfection of her “chakradar paran”, a difficult rhythm, drew “Wah Wah” and shower of flowers from the listeners Rimpa, who belongs to the Farukhabadi Gharana, is a grand-daughter of the late Ustad Keramuttulla. Flute maestro Hari Prasad Chaurasia lived up to make his opening remarks that he would make the last presentation of the year memorable.

Punjabi classical vocal singer Prof B.S. Narang rendered a “bandish” — “Ya devi sarb bhuteshu...” A disciple of Ustaad Salamat Ali Khan, Kasturi Lala and Shankar Lal Mishra, this Jalandhar-based singer mesmerised the crowd with his “Kaise sukh sove nindriay...” and “Lat ulzhi sulzha re balam, hathan more mehndi lagi hai...” in raga “bihag”. This was followed by an equally powerful “bandish”, “Devi Durga dayani daya karo”... based on raga “Durga” and a bhajan, “Ab mohe Ram nam lau laage... “ Ace harmonium player Mehmood Dhaulpuri, a regular artist” at the sammelan, was also present.

The sitar and guitar jugalbandi by pandit Rajiv Janardhan and his wife Dr Kamla Shankar was in raga Gaurakh Kalyan.


Three firm partners convicted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, December 29
Mr Harsh Mehta, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mansa, convicted three partners of a firm, including a woman Saroj Rani, Budh Ram, and Krishan Lal and sentenced them to undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for 6 months and pay a fine of Rs 500. In case of default of payment of fine, they will have to further undergo imprisonment for 15 days each.

The court has also imposed a fine of Rs 1,000 on the accused firm, M/s Brij Lal & Company, Sardulgarh. However, the court acquitted the manufacturer of the insecticides, M/s Phyto Chem India Limited, Hyderabad as the court found that since the insecticides were not stored properly by the said firm they had become misbranded.


Fake currency racket busted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, December 29
Acting on a tip-off the Tarn Taran police today busted a fake currency racket which was running in a village school at Kot Kapura here. The police has seized fake notes for Rs 7 lakh and arrested six persons.

Mr Narendra Bhargav, district police chief, said today that a special team headed by Mr Ashok Bath, SP, raided Kot Budda village and arrested four persons.

The suspects were identified as Sukhminder Singh, a resident of Kothe Wading, Jugraj Singh of village Buraj Muhammad, Shah Makhu, Prabhjot Singh of village Veeran Khalra and Piara Singh of Mari Kamboke. The police seized fake currency which included the notes of Rs 500.


Health tax on students opposed
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, December 29
The BJP will oppose the health tax recently imposed by the Punjab Government on school-children.

In a pressnote last evening, Mr Tikshan Sud, BJP MLA, Mr Bhagwant Kishore, general secretary of the district unit of the BJP, Mr Sat Pal Sareen, President of the municipal council, and several others said government had imposed an annual health tax of Rs 50 each on senior secondary students, Rs 40 each on higher secondary school students, Rs 20 each on middle class school students and Rs 3 each on primary school children.

The government had withdrawn almost all facilities to various sections of society, they said.

Bus fares and power tariff had been increased and sales tax on certain items had been enhanced.

Under these conditions the imposition of health tax would affect the poor and would increase the dropout rate.

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