Thursday, January 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Crop diversification at Centre’s mercy
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Punjab’s crop diversification programme is not making much headway at the moment. Already wheat has been sown over 33 lakh hectares of land. The area under the crop is almost equal to last year’s figure. And it closes the topic of diverting the area from wheat to another crop at least till October next year when the crop will be sown again.

Punjab has an ambitious plan to divert about one million hectares of land from wheat paddy to other crops like pulses, oilseeds, cotton, maize etc. The Johl committee has already submitted a report in this connection.

As the climatic conditions have become very conducive to the wheat crop because of rain and a fall in the temperature, farmers in Punjab can expect another bumper wheat crop though it will take three more months to mature.

Punjab is in fact, at the mercy of the Central Government as far as the implementation of the diversification programme is concerned. It needs money for starting the programme as per the Johl committee report which says that the farmers who are prepared to shift from the wheat- paddy cycle to other crops should be compensated for taking the initiative. The farmers concerned should be paid at the rate of Rs 12,500 per hectare while the village panchayat should be given Rs 250 per hectare for supervising and implementing the programme.

For shifting one million hectares away from paddy and wheat crops, the total expenditure on compensation computed by the Johl committee is Rs 1280 crore per annum and the Centre could thus save at least Rs 3720 crore per annum, which it has to spend on procuring foodgrains on minimum support price and storage etc.

Sources said a high-level meeting would be held in this connection tomorrow under the chairmanship of Chief Secretary Y. S. Ratra. Financial Commissioner (Development) P. K. Verma will also be present at the meeting. The agenda of the meeting is to prepare Punjab’s case for seeking money from the Centre for starting the diversification programme which will not be possible before the next paddy transplantation or say the Kharif season. The issue would be discussed with the authorities concerned in New Delhi next week. The Planning Commission — quite impressed by the Johl Committee’s report — is mood to help Punjab in this connection, according to sources.

But the implementation of the programme will depend on the financial package assured by the Union Government in this connection. Punjab had also prepared an alternative programme to implement the diversification programme in the phases in case the Centre refused to pay Rs 1280 crore in one go.

As per the alternative programme, one million hectares of land can be shifted to other crops from wheat and paddy in the next four years. As per the alternative plan, there is a proposal to shift 1.5 lakh hectares of area from paddy in the next season. The crops proposed to be sown on the area spared from paddy is transplantation of “basmati” and other such commercial varieties of paddy (which are procured by private shellers at a far higher price than minimum support price) in 50,000 hectares, maize in 25,000 hectares, pulses in 10,000 acres, cotton in 13,000 acres, sugarcane in 10,000 acres and so on. About Rs 200 crore would be required for this purpose also If the Union Government agreed to pay even Rs 200 crore, the diversification programme can by started from the paddy season.

The Centre would also have to ensure the supply of quality seed for this purpose.


Cash crunch hits heritage work
Govt turns to NRIs for funds
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Anandpur Sahib, January 1
Tardy work on the Khalsa tercentenary projects due to financial crunch has forced the state government to raise funds from NRIs.

Ms Romila Dubey, Principal Secretary, Department of Culture Affairs, Museum and Tourism, and chief executive of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, today left for New York and Canada to apprise the NRIs of the concept of the Sikh heritage project. She will visit various Sikh shrines, including Vancouver, Surrey and Seattle, from January 3 to January 5 to hold meetings with representatives of the Sikh community. On January 6, she will visit a gurdwara at Yuba City and hold meetings with the representatives of the Chamber of Commerce and International Sports Association at Livingston, Sacramento, Fremont, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco with a view to persuading them to invest in the Khalistan Heritage Complex (KHC).

Even as the state government has promised to complete the KHC by 2004 to mark the 400th year of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib at the Golden Temple and 300th martyrdom year of the Sahibzadas, it is unlikely to meet the deadline if funds are not raised immediately. So far, Rs 55 crore have been spent on the project and the basic structure is almost completed.

Mr P.S. Bhopal, nodal officer of the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, said Rs 155 crore had been spent on the construction of the edifice and related work. He claimed that the government had prevailed upon the Central Government to agree to share the cost on a one-third basis between the Centre, the Punjab Government and the public. If the funds were not arranged in time, the project could come to a grinding halt.

He said the Union Tourism and Culture Minister, Mr Jagmohan, had promised to release Rs 30 crore for the project if the government released its promised share.

The KHC was designed by world-renowned architect, Moshe Safdie. The project will be a window to Punjab’s rich cultural heritage and history and will be spread over 100 acres in the vicinity of Qila Anandgarh. It will involve an expenditure of Rs 210 crore — Rs 110 crore on the building and Rs 100 crore for exhibits and super hi-tech presentation with state-of-the-art communication techniques.


Badal got Barnala shifted to accommodate son?
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 1
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today stated that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal, had paved the way for Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal for making him his (Badal) successor by getting Mr Surjit Singh Barnala transferred from Uttaranchal to Andhra Pradesh as Governor.

Talking to reporters here Mr Mann said after having expelled Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and Mr Ravi Inder Singh from the SAD, Mr Barnala was the only leader who could pose a challenge to Mr Parkash Singh Badal in the appointment of Mr Sukhbir Badal as successor. He said now Mr Barnala would not be able to have active participation in the SAD’s affairs.

Mr Mann also criticised Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, for adopting “dual policy” over the Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism issues to please minorities. He asked Mr Vajpayee to name the forces behind spread of Hindutva and Hindu Nationalism in the country. He said minorities in the country were feeling unsafe following Sikhs’ massacre in 1984 and Muslims’ massacre in Gujarat in 2002.

Mr Mann also criticised Mr Manohar Joshi, Speaker of the Lok Sabha, alleging that Mr Joshi did not give minority communities’ MPs adequate time to speak there.

Mr Mann also criticised all former Punjab Chief Ministers including Mr Darbara Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and present Chief Minister Amarinder Singh for allegedly not taking up the SYL canal and Punjab water issues in a proper way. He alleged that all of them had “betrayed” Punjab issues. He also said even Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had not filed a plea in the Supreme Court against the SC’s order with regard to completion of the SYL canal by January 14.

Mr Mann criticised the acquittal of Mr Sajjan Kumar, a Congress leader, in the anti-Sikh riots case. He also criticised Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar and Mr Parkash Singh Badal on this issue by saying that they had done nothing concrete so far. Mr Mann also lashed out at Mr Badal by saying that he had told a lie that Rs 8500 crore loan of Punjab had been waived by the Centre. He also asked Mr Badal to work for the release of jailed Sikh youths in place of “Rasta Roko” andolan. Mr Mann also asked Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, Prime Minister, to attend the SAARC summit in Islamabad to reduce tension between India and Pakistan. He also termed the non scheduling of SGPC elections as “unfortunate” and held the Centre, Mr Badal and the SGPC authorities responsible for this.

PHAGWARA: Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) SAD (A) and Lok Sabha member today in a letter to Dame Fiona Caldicott, Principal, Somerville College Oxford, London UK urged the principal to reconsider the decision of displaying the portrait of Mrs Indira Gandhi, a former Prime Minister of India, as it would not bring any honour to the old institution since Indira Gandhi did not believe in the values the British cherished.

Mrs Indira Gandhi was responsible for the attack on the Golden Temple in 1984, for the killing of Sikhs, waging war against Pakistan in 1971, imposing Emergency and detaining political opponents in jails and destroying Sikh heritage. The letter reminded the Principal that Mrs Gandhi also violated international treaties and conventions of the UN and trampled on human rights. Displaying her portrait in the college would offend Sikh sentiments the world over including the five lakh Sikhs living in the UK, pleaded Mr Mann. Mrs Sonia Gandhi, AICC president and daughter-in-law of Mrs Indira Gandhi, presented the portrait to Somerville college Principal a few weeks ago. Mrs Gandhi had spent some time in that college.


Varsity nod to 8 B.Ed colleges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
Punjabi University yesterday confirmed the issuance of non-objection certificates to various trusts and foundations for eight B.Ed colleges and two law colleges.

The university’s Academic Council, at a meeting yesterday, confirmed the issuance of no-objection certificates or letters of intent for opening B.Ed colleges to India International Trust, Chandigarh, Chitkara Educational Trust, Chandigarh, Shivalik Educational Trust, Chandigarh, Asra Foundation, Chandigarh, Baba Dhal Educational Society, Hisar, Indo-Global Education, Kharar, SBS Khalsa College for Women, Padiala (Ropar) and the Army Institute of Education, Patiala.

The council also confirmed the letters of intent issued to Baba Dhal Educational Society of India, Hisar, for setting up a law college in Raipur village, near Bahadurgarh, on the outskirts of the city, and Baba Godri Sahib Baba Farid Society, Faridkot. Another college, Desh Bhagat Institute of Computer Science, Mandi Gobindgarh, was issued letter of intent to add B.Ed classes in its institute.

The university has gone in for granting en bloc letters of intent even as two information technology institutes have asked it to withdraw affiliation and return the endowment fund submitted with the university. These are the Patiala College of Management and Technology and the Indian Institute of Management and Computer Technology, both situated in the city.

The university has decided to withdraw affiliation to a third IT institute — W.C. Institute of Management Technology — following a surprise check on the institute made by a university team. The team reported that two students were present in a classroom and five in another, besides two teachers. The team reported that the library was also closed during the visit, recommending that its affiliation be withdrawn.

Meanwhile, the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) said many of these trusts and societies were “little known to the public and working outside the jurisdiction of the university”. Its President, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said the case of six B.Ed colleges was decided at a single meeting on November 11 and that one of the institute — Desh Bhagat Institute, Mandi Gobindgarh — had been allowed to add B.Ed courses even though university ordinances called for separate institutes for these courses.

The forum claimed that such actions of the university would add to the number of “unemployed trained teachers” in the state. It alleged that apart from lowering academic standards, the university management had apparently not learnt any lesson from the tenure of Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, during which IT colleges had been opened “blindly”.

Dr Dhillon said as far as the law college was concerned, the university’s own experiment at Faridkot had failed, adding that law classes at its regional centre in Bathinda were running without proper infrastructure. He said the university was also in the process of letting a law college come up at Bahadurgarh. He said the university should have ascertained whether granting permission to a college so near its own was suitable and need-based or not.


Corporation status for Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 1
As a New Year gift to residents, Bathinda was accorded the status of the municipal corporation by the government today. The corporation will come into existence with effect from April 10.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High-Powered Committee on Finance, Punjab and local MLA, said with the elevation of status, the long-pending demand of the residents had been fulfilled.

A notification in this connection had been issued at Chandigarh and the municipal corporation would have the areas which fell into the existing limits of the municipal council.

The existing municipal council has 35 wards while the corporation will have about 50 wards.


Punjab Govt a failure: BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 1
Commenting on the performance of the Punjab Government during the past year, BJP General Secretary, Avinash Jaiswal said today that the government failed on all fronts.

Mr Jaiswal said the Congress had made false promises to win the Assembly elections. However, after the formation of the government, no promise was fulfilled. Instead of doing something worthwhile for the people of the state, the government had resorted to the registration of false cases against its opponents, especially akali and BJP leaders, transferred a large number of officers, imposed octroi that had been abolished by the SAD-BJP government, withdrew free power and water facility to the agricultural sector and imposed section 144 throughout the state to thwart political protests against the government.

The government had resorted to the house arrest of SGPC members, sent the police to Haryana to kidnap SGPC members, registered cases against the SGPC members to terrorise them and made political statements to arrest former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, which exposed its intentions to settle score with him.


BJP men burn effigies of 3 Cong ministers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 1
Many BJP activists today burnt effigies of three Congress ministers, Punjab allegedly involved in objectionable activities during Gujarat elections.

They raised anti-Congress slogans and demanded that the government to order a CBI probe into the matter. Earlier, BJP activists led by senior state BJP leader Vinod Sharma assembled at Jyoti Chowk here and sat on a dharna. They burnt effigies of three unnamed ministers. Addressing the gathering Mr Sharma alleged that though the nature of allegations against these ministers was very serious, but Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had given them a clean chit and ruled out their involvement in objectionable activities without holding a probe into the matter.

He said that his party would raise the issue in the forthcoming session of the Punjab Assembly.


Development main focus in Patiala in 2002
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
This was a year to truly rejoice for Patialvis. A Patialvi — Capt Amarinder Singh — became Chief Minister of the state and promptly announced that he would make the city a model one. The year saw a large number of development works being initiated by Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) and the Municipal Corporation even as final touches are being given to the schemes envisaged for the city under Central schemes.

The year also saw the ouster of heads of two institutions of the city, the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) and Punjabi University. While PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu is still behind bars on charges of accepting money for jobs, Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia was removed from service after a criminal case was registered against him.

The police met with major success in busting a gang of the Peoples War Group faction which was hand-in-glove with gun dealers of Punjab who used to sell unclaimed guns to them after they had made false papers for the same. Besides this the police tried to streamline its functioning by initiating a single window grievances redressal scheme as well as a patrolling scheme under which the private industry was involved to create a squad of motor cycle beat policemen. However, the police force was also put under a burden with as many as three police officers of the city coming under a cloud.

Other highlights included an attempt to put Patiala on the tourism map by holding a tourism conclave. The pitfalls included the failure to start construction of the overbridge at Railway Crossing Number 22.

The beginning of the year saw Patiala resident and scion of its royal house, Capt Amarinder Singh, take over as Chief Minister of the state. Following this an elaborate study was undertaken to suggest an overall plan for the improvement of the city as well as the need to promote it as a tourist spot. A multi national firm, which conducted the study, suggested creation of an agro and electronics park as well as residential area at Baran village near the city as well as laying of sewerage facilities to cover the outer colonies of the city. Part of the money has been released for both the projects. The first project is coming up under a Central scheme which had envisaged creation of counter magnet towns in Patiala besides four other places in country to reduce the pressure on Delhi. While PUDA has unveiled its plan to build more flats in the Urban Estate, the Municipal Corporation laid a number of roads in outer colonies besides privatising street lighting.

On the law and order front, the Central Jail at Patiala still houses its most famous prisoner, former PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu. Former Punjabi University VC Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, was more lucky in escaping jail with the case registered against him being tried in court. The other major catch on the law and other front was busting a gang of Naxalites of Bihar which was buying firearms and ammunition from gun dealers of the state by fabricating documents. The local police has arrested two of the Naxalite leaders and is also probing the role of various gun dealers in the state who sold unclaimed firearms to the Naxalites.

The local police also had to face embarrassment with three of its officers coming under a cloud. Then DSP (Detective), Rajinderpal Singh Anand, had to face the humiliation of being asked by the Zonal Inspector-General of Police Anil Kaushik to vacate a house in Rajpura, which he had taken on rent several years back. The IG charged his own officer with taking over possession of the entire house after taking two rooms on rent. Besides this CIA Special Task Force Incharge Didar Singh was arrested by the Vigilance Department on charges of keeping a person in illegal custody and demanding a bribe from him. A case was also registered against another Inspector, Shamsher Singh Guddu, for amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

As far as the city was concerned, the first effort of its kind was undertaken to put Patiala on the national tourist map by organising a tourism conclave in which tour operators and hoteliers from Delhi and different parts of the state were invited. Though the conclave did generate interest amongst tour operators, there was a feeling the government would have to spell out concessions for entrepreneurs putting in money in Patiala if it was to come up as a tourism destination.

On the flip side, an overbridge over the busy Railway Crossing number 22 still eludes the citizens of the city. The project, which has been in the pipeline for nearly four years, continues to be hit by one snag or the other.


Encroachers hurdle to four-laning of road
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 1
Encroachments on the main Ropar-Chandigarh road within the municipal limits of Ropar have become a major hurdle to the four-laning of the road.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Surface Transport for the widening of the road, but the proposal is likely to face stiff resistance from encroachers who have raised pucca structures on irrigation land. The road is part of the state highway connecting Ropar with Jalandhar and Hoshiarpur districts and has a heavy traffic frequency, necessitating its widening.

Hundreds of shopkeepers have raised pucca structures on a 5-km stretch of the road, extending from the old bus stand area to the Power Colony.

Initially, the Irrigation Department, Punjab, that owns the land, had given its lease to some shopkeepers for raising moveable structures for trading. However, with the passage of time besides the shops, many other structures such as a gurdwara and Nirankari Bhavan were also raised on the land, adjoining the main road.

A former Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr Reddy, had initially proposed to remove the encroachments from the road for its widening. When the administration tried to remove these, the shopkeepers approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court directed the government to provide compensation to the shopkeepers and provide an alternative site to them, and charge them for these.

The Supreme Court also upheld the judgement of the high court. Following the court directive, the government got the value of the pucca structures assessed. As per the assessment, an amount of Rs 57 lakh was issued to the Irrigation Department to pay compensation to the shopkeepers.

However, no action has been taken to provide an alternative site to the shopkeepers. The compensation amount is also lying unutilised with the Irrigation Department. The shopkeepers, who have retained the possession the land have also stopped paying lease amount to the Irrigation Department.


All set for Pulse Polio drive
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 1
As many as 71,447 children up to five years in Fatehgarh Sahib would be administered polio drops on January 5 and February 9 under the Pulse Polio Campaign. Mr Vikas Partap Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, said this, while presiding over a review meeting regarding the Pulse Polio Campaign arrangements at Bachat Bhawan here today.

He said 535 teams would work at polio camps, 12 transit teams would be deputed at bus stands and railway stations and three mobile teams would work for this purpose so that 100 per cent target may be achieved.

He pointed out that the required stock of polio vaccination was available in the district and a day before the Pulse Polio Campaign.

Mr Vikas Partap further said that migrant labour, working in brickkilns, rice-shellers, commercial places, farmhouses, slum areas and other places would be covered especially under this campaign. Non-government organisations would also ensure that all children up to five years may be provided polio drops. Mr Kiranjeet Kumar, Civil Surgeon, Fatehgarh Sahib, said all necessary arrangements had been made by the Health Department with the co-operation of the district administration, NGOs, and clubs and 2,200 persons would work at polio camps.


Unemployed linemen hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
The Unemployed Lineman Union today started a 24-hour fast in front of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) headquarters here to register their protest against the failure of the board to fill up vacancies in their cadre.

The board had been conducting a two-year apprentice course for aspiring linemen and nearly 5,000 persons had completed the course in the last some years. However, the board has not made any recruitment since 1997.

Union president Mandeep Singh Sanour, while speaking on the occasion, said even though there were 10,000 vacancies of linemen in the PSEB, no recruitment was being done. He said thousands of persons had completed the apprentice course offered by the board hoping to get employed by it. He demanded that the board fill up the vacancies immediately and stop the apprentice course under which nearly 1,500 students took training if it was not going to conduct recruitment in the near future.


Doctor commits suicide

Moga, January 1
A local doctor, Gagan Bijon (40), committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with his .32-bore revolver at his residence here today.

According to the police, the doctor was alone when he committed suicide. His wife is in Chennai while his mother is in New Zealand. They have been informed about the incident. The reason behind the suicide was not immediately known, the police said.

It may be recalled that the doctor’s father, Dr Rajinder Bijon, was shot by terrorists in 1990. Dr Gagan was the head of the local Rajindera Hospital, which was set up by his father. UNI


New Year begins with power cut
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 1
The power supply remained disrupted in most parts of the city here today. Sources said a transformer of the GNDP had developed a snag which resulted in the disruption of power supply. The city had been declared a power cut free city by former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal in 2001.

A senior official of the PSEB, said due to a fault with the transformer, the power supply had been affected. The fault was being repaired, he said, denying that the plant was short of coal. One of the four units of the plant that had been closed due to lower demand, had been restarted. Now three units of the plant were functioning and one had been closed for annual maintenance.


Eight of family hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 1
Eight persons, including four children, of a family travelling in a Tata-Sumo suffered injuries when a tyre of the vehicle burst near Kot Dharmu village of the district today.

The family, belonging to Fatehabad district in Haryana, was going from Jalandhar to Fatehabad when the tyre burst and the vehicle dashed against a roadside tree. All victims were rushed to Civil Hospital, Mansa, for treatment. Chinar, a 10-year boy has been referred to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital, Ludhiana.


Engineers: make all levels accountable
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
The PSEB Engineers Association today suggested bringing in functional accountability in the board instead of changing its structure by splitting it into various companies in a memorandum submitted to the Haldea Committee.

In a press note here yesterday, members said the identity of the PSEB should be kept intact under the Electricity Supply Act and called for internal reforms. They said responsibility and accountability had to be fixed at each level starting from technical members of the board to Junior Engineers with every functionary keeping an account of power units received and sold. This would ensure energy audit and accounting from generating station to consumer meters. They also said the technical members of the board should be autonomous.

The engineers also called for a tripartite agreement between the board, the government and the employees which they said could turn around the PSEB.

Association general secretary H.S. Bedi said while the Haldea Committee had said it had had an open mind on reforms at a meeting on December 26, now it had indicated that it was inclined to recommend the “corporatisation and unbundling” of the PSEB and allow entry of private parties through “open access” to generating companies.

He said the association had contended that even though corporatisation experiments had failed in Orissa and other states, leading to hikes in tariff, it was surprising that the committee was trying to force a failed model of reforms on Punjab.

The association submitted that the proposals for reform should be brought out by the government through a White Paper.


Head constable suspended
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 1
Head Constable Kulwant Singh posted with the traffic wing was suspended for being drunk while on duty last night.

Sources said that 20 police patrol parties comprising a head constable and constable each, were deployed to check rowdyism. Besides these, 31 other police parties were deployed at different places in the city. Senior officials were monitoring the police personnel on duty.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP, (City) made surprise visits at different places in the city. Traffic police personnel were asked to be on duty till 2 a.m. this morning. While other police personnel were to be on duty the whole night.

Some youngsters alleged harassment as they had to produce documents of vehicles many times at several places in the city.


5 cops booked for corruption
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 1
Five policemen working in Patti police station have been booked under the corruption Act by the police. The accused include three head constables and two constables.

The accused are Harjinder Singh, Madan Lal and Amarjit Singh (head constables) and Baldev Singh and Wazir Singh (constables).

Sources said today the accused went to the house of Mr Jagir Singh in Dhigana village and allegedly threatened to book him under the Excuse Act for selling illicit liquor. They demanded Rs 6,000 to let him go free.

Mr Jagir Singh allegedly gave them Rs 4,000 on the spot and promised to pay the rest on December 31.

Mr Jagir Singh then informed the local higher police authorities who gave him currency notes after noting their numbers. And when the policemen in question went to take the rest of the amount yesterday, they were nabbed.

A case under Sections 420 IPC and 13 (1) to be read with 7 PC (Prevention of Corruption Act) has been registered even as the accused have absconded.


Travel agent held for duping youths
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 1
The police has nabbed one travel agent while the other has absconded. The action followed a complaint by Balbir Singh, sarpanch of Balalon village and his friend Mohinder Pal that they were duped of Rs 2 lakh by travel agents Jaspal Singh of Dhak Pandori village and Manjit Singh of Khasan village on the promise of sending them to Italy, it was learnt today. They were even taken to Delhi for getting visa but were told that the visa could not be procured due to deficient documents. Their passports were also taken away by the agents. However, they were neither sent to Italy nor was their money returned. While Jaspal Singh has been arrested and sent to police remand for two days, Manjit Singh has abscond.


2 held for robbery
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 1
The police today claimed having arrested two persons and solved six cases of robbery and kidnapping.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, in a press note said here today that the accused Amarjeet Singh resident of Punia village and Balbir Singh of Rerwan village in Jalandhar district were arrested from near Kollianwali village in the district.

He added that a police party had laid a ‘naka’ near Kollianwali village, this morning when both accused were stopped, while they were riding a motor cycle stolen from Rajasthan. They were also carrying two country-made pistols.

The SSP added that they had kidnapped Mr Sham Narain Gupta contractor of Hisar in Haryana sometime back. The family of the contractor had paid huge ransom for securing his release, he added. They were also allegedly involved in various cases of robbery. They had looted Rs 13 lakh in the past some months from different traders of Nakodar, Shahkot, and Dharamkot in different parts of the state.

Mr Shiv Kumar the SSP added that the two also attempted to kidnap a rice mill owner of Guruhar Sahai. He said that other members of the gang were Ashu Gupta of Shahkot, Jarnail Singh of Boparai in Jalandhar district, Balwinder Singh of Baghapurana, Gurdas Singh of Lande in Moga district and Manjit Singh of Chipra in Hoshiarpur district.


Fake will: order to register case
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 1
Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, yesterday ordered the registration of a criminal case against Naib Tehsildar, Sardulgarh, Gurpreet Mohinder Singh Chahal, Revenue Patwari Halqa Ullak, Harjinder Singh, witnesses of a fake will Kaka Singh, Pritam Singh, Arjun Singh, deed writer Rajinder Singh and Beant Singh and Jaspal Singh of Burj Bhalaike village in the district for hatching conspiracy to grab 63 kanals, 7 marlas of land by doctoring a fake unregistered will.

Mr Ahluwalia said that Revenue Patwari Harjinder Singh had already been placed under suspension. A recommendation has been made to higher officials for suspension of Mr Gurpreet Mohinder Singh Chahal.

The DC said that the above officers and beneficiaries prepared a fake will and after its registration got six mutations sanctioned illegally. On the basis of the mutation one Jora Singh was made owner of the land and mutation of inheritance of Jora Singh was also sanctioned by the Naib Tehsildar, Sardulgarh, but later on he cancelled all the six mutations.


4 smugglers arrested
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 1
The Narote Jaimal Singh police has arrested four persons allegedly involved in the smuggling of wooden sleepers from Jammu and Kashmir.

According to police sources, on a tip-off a special naka was laid at Kot-Bhatian village near Kathua border, and the accused who were coming in three tractors loaded with wooden sleepers were nabbed.

The police said, the accused were bringing the sleepers from Jammu and Kashmir without a valid permit and has allegedly stolen these from forests in Jammu and Kashmir. The police seized 151 sleepers, and impounded the tractors.

The police has registered a case under Section 379, 411 of the IPC Section 4 of the Forest Act.


Two killed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 1
Two persons were killed on the spot and another injured in a road accident near Naushehra Pannuan village on Monday.

The Sarhali police has registered a case under Sections 304A, 279, 337 of the IPC against the driver of the nimi truck responsible for the accident.


Spate of thefts worries residents
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 1
Residents of the power colony here have expressed concern over a spate of thefts in the area. At a meeting here today, the residents said thefts were continuing unabated and alleged that though the thefts had been reported to the police, certain influential people of the colony were trying to scuttle an inquiry.

The residents urged the plant management to improve the security in the colony and to evict “outsiders” residing there. They also urged the SSP to expedite the inquiry into the cases.


Cop suspended
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January, 1
Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP Mansa, has suspended Balbir Singh Head constable posted in police station Bhikni who was transferred to police Lines Mansa by the SSP for misbehaving with women at this stop Bhikni under the. institute of liquor.

The head-constable was found searching women’s person which led to unpleasant scenes upon which persons took away on a motor cycle on December 20.


Students’ strike on Punjabi issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 1
Punjabi University students belonging to various student organisations today affected a strike in the varsity to protest against the academic council’s decision to waive the necessity to take Punjabi as a compulsory subject in B.Sc course and also abolishing the clause making it mandatory to pass the standard 10 level Punjabi examination to enroll for a Ph.D degree in the university.

The students, who gathered under the umbrella of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, organised a march on the campus and raised slogans against the management on the issue.

Confederation convener Gurnam Singh Virk said the students of the institution would not allow any discrimination against the Punjabi language. ABVP president Gurjeet Singh Nagra said it was ironic that Punjabi University, which had been formed to propagate the cause of Punjabi and was the second university established with the aim of propagating a language in the world after Hebrew University, was itself working against the cause of the language.


Women’s college to be set up
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 1
Rana Gurjit Singh, local Congress MLA, has announced the setting up of a women’s college in Bhandal Bet village, 12 km from here. Addressing a function at Bhandal Bel village yesterday, Rana Gurjit Singh announced Rs 10 lakh for setting up a private college. Mr Didar Singh, an NRI who belongs to this village announced Rs 20 lakh for the purpose.

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