Sunday, January 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bibi to lead women’s jatha
Seeks SGPC nod to women doing Temple duties
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 4
Even as the Jathedar of Akal Takht,Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, has admitted that disallowing women devotees from performing kirtan or cleaning the sanctum sanctorum is against the tenets of Sikhism, a former SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, has announced that she would lead a jatha of baptised bibis (Sikh women) shortly to challenge the orthodox.

Talking to TNS here today, the Bibi urged the Sikh clergy to issue a directive to ensure the participation of baptised Sikh women devotees in all ceremonies inside the sanctum sanctorum. She said the women well versed with Sikh music and raagas should be treated on a par with men while preparing the duty roaster of the Golden Temple. “Such a step could be taken even at the level of SGPC manager,” she said.

Bibi Jagir Kaur urged the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, to direct the SGPC manager to ensure the participation of women devotees in ‘sukh asan’(carrying of the holy Guru Granth Sahib in a palanquin), kirtan, and cleaning of the sanctum sanctorum and other activities. She said all 10 Sikh gurus had held women in high esteem and Sikhism did not discriminate human beings on the basis of gender.

Bibi Jagir Kaur was the first senior Sikh leader who had highlighted this issue during her tenure as SGPC chief. She deplored that no women’s jatha had come forward to perform kirtan inside the Golden Temple, though she had allowed them to do so.

Meanwhile, Bibi Jagir Kaur criticised the SGPC for not taking any action against Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, who had been abstaining himself from the meetings of the Sikh clergy. “It is a matter of concern that the Head Granthi of the Golden Temple refuses to accept the authority of the Jathedar. It sends wrong signal to the Sikh masses”.

She was also critical of the SGPC for having failed to do ‘concrete work’ well in advance for the forthcoming 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple. In her message in the name of the Sikh panth’ at the time of the tercentenary of the birth of the Khalsa Panth, she had called upon the community to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib in the Golden Temple in a big way.

However, the SGPC has not honoured her commitment to appoint 11 eminent Sikh scholars for doing research on various aspects of Guru Granth Sahib so far. She said during her tenure as SGPC chief, she had announced to give honorarium to the Sikh scholars on the university pattern.

She flayed the SGPC for sending a jatha to Pakistan in the wake of violation of Sikh maryada (tradition) in gurdwaras there. She said honouring the police officials in uniform inside Gurdwara Nankana Sahib (Pakistan) by PSGPC chief Sham Singh had vindicated her stand. She said the SGPC should not send jathas to Pakistan till it (Pakistan) accepted its demand of handling over control to the SGPC.

Bibi Jagir Kaur also criticised the SGPC for earmarking an insignificant amount of Rs 10,000 in its budget for the uplift of ‘Banjara’ Sikhs of Madhya Pradesh. She said during her tenure as SGPC chief, she had announced to earmark Rs 1 crore for this purpose. She said ‘Banjaras’ were a significant part of the community and hence Nagpur should be made the centre of the Dharam Prachar Committee to uplift them.


Take action against Badal: AISSF (A)
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 4
To draw the attention of Sikh clergy and the sangat for their inability to take action against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his wife, Surinder Kaur, for violating the Sikh maryada, activists of Sikh Forum, Punjab, and the All-India Sikh Students Federation (Amritsar), today wore black clothes and cleaned utensils at Guru Ram Das langar in the Golden Temple complex here.

Capt. Chanan Singh, president of sikh forum Punjab showing the poster of having photographs of Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, formar chief minister and president SAD(B) performing "havan"and wearing crown. The poster also include the picture of Mrs. Surinder Kaur Badal wife of Parkash Singh Badal sitting in front of controversial Ashutosh Maharaj of DJJS at a press conference in Amritsar on Saturday.Photo Rajiv Sharma

Capt Chanan Singh, president of the Sikh Forum, while addressing a press conference here said they had presented adequate proofs to Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti when they personally called on him about a month ago. The forum had also released a coloured poster with photographs of Mr Badal performing ‘havan’ and wearing a crown and his wife seeking blessing from the controversial Ashutosh Maharaj of Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan.

He felt that an impartial probe should be conducted by the Sikh high priests to probe the misconduct of Mr Badal and his family members for misleading the Sikh sangat.

The president of Sikh Forum felt that the probe being conducted by the SGPC would be of no consequence as the majority of SGPC members were loyal towards the SAD chief. Capt Chanan Singh said it was unfortunate that the Sikh clergy had wilfully not discussed the issue in its meeting held on December 23.

He said the Sikh Forum along with the AISSF (Amritsar) would continue to clean utensils and dust shoes at various takhts and gurdwaras. He lashed out at the SGPC for wasting the offerings of devotees on advertisements worth Rs 3.75 lakh during the annual election of the SGPC executive in November.

Among those who participated in the protest were Capt Chanan Singh, Mr Harpreet Singh Kanda (AISSF), Mr Nirankar Singh, Mr Barinder Singh and Mr Kuldeep Singh.


Mann to attend all-party meeting on SYL canal
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 4
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann of the SAD (A) said today that he would attend the all-party meeting to be convened by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh on January 8 to discuss the SYL Canal issue. He said the SAD (A) won’t allow SYL Canal to be dug up as it would make Punjab a desert since the water table in state was depleting at an alarming rate. Mr Mann said Punjab was supposed to file its reply before January 15 as the Supreme Court had, in its January 2001 judgement, directed the Centre and Punjab to complete the SYL Canal within one year. The Chief Minister had evidently called the all-party meeting to drum up support on the issue.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann supported the views of Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti for ending gender discrimination in cleaning the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple.

The retrograde practice, started by mahant’s decades ago, of not allowing the women to perform kirtan and clean the sanctum sanctorum at the time of “amrit vela” should be given up at the earliest and they should be allowed to perform kirtan and other seva inside the Golden Temple, Mr Mann said and added that SAD (A) was with Jathedar Vedanti on the issue.


Chohan sues lawyer for defamation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 4
Dr Jagjit Singh Chohan today filed a defamation suit against a local lawyer who had charged him with trying to form Khalistan through illegal means, even as he called for the formation of a separate Punjabi country of Khalistan through peaceful means.

Addressing a press conference here after filing the suit against Mr Jagmohan Singh Saini who had filed a complaint against him under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act in August, 2001, Mr Chohan said the present “Punjabi suba” could be converted into Khalistan. He said Punjabis should not shy away from asking for Khalistan when organisations like the VHP and RSS had demanded the creation of a “Hindu rashtra”.

Mr Chohan asserted that Hindus and Sikhs were not separate and could coexist peacefully in the new state and that differences had only been reinforced by the Akalis in the past. He said he was against any violence on the issue as militancy after 1984 had only carried Punjab 50 years back.

The Sikh leader said demand for the creation of Khalistan existed as far back as 1946 when the SGPC had passed a resolution in this regard. He said the new state could exist as a confederation on the European model and could later also form a part of a confederation of South Asian states.

Meanwhile, Dr Chohan’s lawyers Ranjan Lakhanpal and Gurpreet Singh said a suit for the recovery of Rs 10 lakh as compensation had been filed against Mr Saini in the court of the Civil Judge (Senior Division), here. They said Mr Saini had filed a false complaint against Dr Chohan only to gain political mileage.


Hike in rural water tariff decried
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 4
The recent hike in the tariff of drinking water in rural areas effected by the Punjab Government has made this basic commodity costlier in villages as compared that in urban areas.

The government recently issued a notification raising monthly rate of drinking water in villages from Rs 40 to Rs 50 per connection per house at places where water was being supplied 40 litres per day per head under a scheme.

At places where the scheme was designed to supply 70 litres of water per day per head the cost was being increased to Rs 70 per connection per month. Besides this, the government has also imposed a cess of Rs 10 per household on the public taps in rural areas.

In urban areas water costs Rs 1.20 per kilo litre where the connections were metered. At this rate the monthly bill for an eight-hour water supply in urban areas comes to just Rs 40 to Rs 50.

Certain municipal councils and corporations charge flat rate of water tariff. In these cases the water supply will reach a maximum of Rs 70 per house per month.

The social organisations working in the rural areas of the state have decried the increase in rates of rural water supply. They have alleged that even though the people residing in rural areas were poor compared to in cities they were being forced to pay more for water.

The charge on the public taps was even more unjustified because most of these taps supplied water just for an hour a day to the poor in rural areas. It is ironic that while the government was supplying water through the six-inch pipes for irrigation, free of cost, in villages, the rates for the supply of drinking water were being increased.

The rural water supply authorities have justified the increase in water rates for rural areas. The water supply schemes in rural areas were financed by financial institutions and have to be made financially viable. Moreover, the number of consumers in villages was less due to which the cost per head increased, they alleged.

They said the government had also offered the panchayats to run the water supply schemes on their own in their respective areas and fix the rates accordingly. However, none of the schemes have till date opted for the scheme.


Engineers to oppose PSEB privatisation
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 4
Engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board have decided to mobilise public opinion against the alleged vested interests within the government who are trying to dismantle the PSEB.

The PSEB Engineers Association at a meeting here today said that while the PSEB had started a reforms process to revive its economy, the government was planning to dismantle it. The association said the economic state of the PSEB became bad following the free of cost power for the agriculture sector and concessional power for a section of society.

Mr Padamjeet Singh, patron of the association, said that giving free of cost and concessional power was a suicidal step.

About making the PSEB a corporation, Mr Padamjeet Singh said, “when such experiments had failed in seven states, how would it succeed in Punjab?”

He said transformation in an organisation should be done in phased manner.

Mr M.S. Bajwa, president of the association, said the bureaucrats who were in favour of dismantling the PSEB did not know the ground realities. He described the Haldia Committee report given in that regard as unrealistic.

Mr H.S. Bedi, general secretary of the association, said there was need to create public awareness against the move of privatisation of the PSEB. He said that the electricity charges would increase manifold if the privatisation move was implemented.


Badal calls PAC meeting on Jan 7
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has called a meeting of the political affairs committee of the party on January 7 at the Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir, near Ludhiana to discuss the SYL canal issue and other important matters, according to Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, press secretary of the party.

The SAD will also decide whether it should take part in the all-party meeting convened on January 8 by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. The SAD had boycotted the earlier meeting called by the Chief Minister in this connection a few months ago. The other party was the CPI.


Sukhbir Badal mobilises men for Maghi
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), January 4
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, general secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal, today said the party was yet to decide whether to attend the all-party meeting convened by state Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on January 8 or not. He said the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the party would decide on the matter shortly.

He added that Capt Amarinder Singh had been causing an inordinate delay in filing a writ petition in the Supreme Court for securing the share of water for Punjab.

Mr Badal, who has been touring various villages of Muktsar district to mibilise party workers for the Maghi conference, told TNS that SAD had always fought against the completion of the SYL canal as it would deprive the people of Punjab their share of the river water and turn the land barren. He added that party had decided not to allow any state government or the Centre to complete the canal. The party was also opposed to the setting up of the national river grid.


SHSAD condemns lathi charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The BJP and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal have condemned the lathi charge by the Chandigarh police on agitating panchayat secretaries from Punjab here yesterday. Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, a member of the Rajya Sabha and Vice-President of the Punjab unit of the BJP said today that the state government was responsible for what happened with panchayat secretaries yesterday.

“I tried my best to raise the issue of panchayat secretaries at a meeting of the Punjab planning board on January 2 but Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, who presided over the meeting, continued to evade the issue,” she said.

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD, said it was most condemnable act of the Chandigarh police to beat up panchayat secretaries who had lost their jobs. He also criticised the Punjab government for making false promises to panchayat secretaries before the Assembly elections.


Encroachments thrive despite drive?
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 4
Even as the district administration has been claiming that in one of the major anti-encroachment drives it has managed to get a major portion of the 100-foot road cleared of encroachments a section of the streets under the town planning department are yet to be cleared, despite repeated orders and resolutions in this regard.

In one such case, the municipal authorities have failed to get a street in the Ajit Road area of the city cleared, despite a resolution having been passed by the house. Mr Major Singh Brar, a resident of the area, in a written complaint filed yesterday with the Deputy Commissioner alleged that some residents had encroached upon a street of the Town Planning, Improvement Scheme Area No. 3 (Part-I). He pointed out that even the enquiries made by the SDM and the team sent for an on-the-spot assessment had also established the same.

Mr Major Singh said a large part of the street leading to the 100-foot road had been encroached upon and needed to be cleared.

The local Town Planning and Director, local government, had even ordered the vacation of the said street under the due process of law but the municipal authorities have not yet initiated any action on the same.

He pointed out the inconveniences being faced by the residents due to these encroachments on the road. He has also attached the documents to support his claim that one of the residents (the encroacher) had been presenting distorted facts to keep the possession of the land, and that the same had also been pointed out by the Town Planning authorities.

No official of the municipal council could be contacted for comments on the removal of these encroachments.


Panel set up on Intach report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
The Punjab Government has set up a six-member committee to monitor the report prepared by the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage ( Intach), for nominating the Harmandir Sahib (Golden Temple) as a world heritage site as per Unesco norms.

A decision in this connection was taken at a high-level meeting held here today under the chairmanship of Mr Avtar Henry, Industries Minister. The committee would comprise Mrs Kiranjot Kaur, member SGPC, Mr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Dr Harnam Singh Shann, Dr Kharak Singh, Dr Sikander Singh and Dr Dalip Kaur Tiwana.

Mr Henry said the government had chalked out a plan to develop Amritsar, Patiala, Kapurthala and Anandpur Sahib as main centres of tourist attraction. The government would extend full cooperation to the SGPC and Intach to nominate the Golden Temple as a world heritage centre to Unesco. This issue would also be taken up with the Central government.


20 injured in bus-truck crash
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 4
About 20 passengers were injured, eight of them seriously, when a Sangrur-bound private bus collided with a truck coming from the opposite side near the Ghanauli level crossing on the Ropar-Nangal road.

Sources here said the accident took place at about 4 p.m. when the bus, which had about 60 passengers, skidded into a ditch on the side of road following the impact.

The injured were shifted to Ropar Civil Hospital. While most of them were discharged after first aid, the condition of eight is stated to be serious.

The police has arrested the truck driver.

Those injured seriously are Manjit Singh, Gurmukh Singh, Mahima Singh, Gurinder Kaur and Mangal Singh all from Ropar, Hans Rai from Chamkaur Sahib, B.R. Goyal from Patiala and Om Prakash from Jalandhar.


PSHRC pulls up police for favouring accused
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 4
Taking exception to the alleged leniency shown by the police towards the accused in an assault case by booking them under milder sections of the IPC, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission has directed the police to register a case of attempt to murder under Sections 307 and 149 of the IPC against Passi Ram, a Shiv Sena activist, and others.

The accused allegedly assaulted a nine-year-old boy, a resident of the Gali Lakhdata locality here, on August 31, 1999, following a fight between the boy and Passi Ram’s son, Lali.

The commission further directed the police to register a case against the then SHO of the Division No. 2 police station, Inspector Surinder Singh. The police authorities, allegedly in connivance with Passi Ram and others, had registered a case under Section 323 of the IPC and used unfair means to bring about a patch-up between the victim’s family and the accused.

The commission also recommended Rs 25,000 as interim compensation to the victim’s family and said the state government was at liberty to recover the amount from the erring police officials. After receiving the orders of the commission, the police authorities of Division No. 1 have registered a case.


Justice still eludes 12 SC families
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, January 4
Members of 12 affected Scheduled Caste families of Jaroth village, who have been sitting on dharna for the last 19 days, were yet to get justice.

These residents, who also are members of the Scheduled Castes Cooperative Land Owning Society Limited, Jaroth, alleged that their eight houses were burgled by members of another group of the same community of the village on November 26 last year in connivance with police personnel. Apart from smashing the windowpanes of their houses and leaving a trail of destruction in the vicinity, the ‘‘gangsters’’ also snatched Rs 28,000 from the sarpanch of the village, they alleged.

Despite repeated representations to senior police officials in Patiala and to the local administration, nothing has been done so far to give them justice. Moreover, the police has failed to arrest the culprits, recover the stolen goods and money, the agitating society members alleged.

The agitators were demanding arrest of all the persons involved in the clash, to be remanded in police custody and justice be given to the actual members of the society.

While talking to Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Bhadu Ram, president of the society, said tension over the ownership of 190-bigha land, owned by the society, started brewing in 1996 when Jaipal Singh, a former sarpanch of the village, misled some villagers saying that the land belonged to all Scheduled Caste families and not to the members of the society only.

Since then, a section of the village Scheduled Caste community started claiming their share over the society land and moved to the Rajpura court and even to the Punjab and Haryana High Court but failed to prove it, he revealed.

As the society involved in litigations and faced financial crises, the members allotted the land to three persons on lease-hold basis for cultivation.

The problem aggravated on November 26 when Jaipal Singh along with over 10 villagers attacked the lease-holders — Mr Alla Rakha, Mr Suraj Ram and Mr Man Chand — who were in the village to plough the said land.

In the clash, Mr Alla Rakha sustained injuries and was robbed of Rs 28,000. The victims run from pillar to post to get an FIR registered against Jai pal for nearly a month. The FIR was registered against them on December 19 last year after the same gang stormed into the village and damaged eight houses, looted an STD booth and took away some electronic goods from the shops.

To get justice, Mr Man Chand along with some other affected villagers, who were also joined by Mr Harpal Singh, president of Dalit sarpanches of 35 villages of the area, staged a dharna in front of the Lalru police station for two weeks. As they failed to get any justice they shifted to Dera Bassi and have been camping in front of the SDM office for justice.


No land grab by son: minister
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 4
The Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, has said that PUDA will construct two-room sets for weaker sections of society in Sujanpur.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said the houses would be built on land acquired by PUDA between bridge Nos 3 and 5 on the Amritsar-Jammu national highway. He said construction work would start from the next financial year.

Mr Puri said the government was planning to provide better medical facilities to the residents of Sujanpur by completing the construction of a hospital.

Regarding the allegation made by Mr Satya Pal Saini, a former Punjab Information Technology Minister, about land grab by his son, Mr Naresh Puri, he said it was baseless and made to malign his image. He said he was consulting his lawyer to file a defamation suit against Mr Saini.


Pulse polio camps at Sohana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Shri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Charitable Eye Hospital, Sohana, is participating in the pulse-polio campaign at the national level by organising two booth level camps on January 5.

These camps for pulse polio will be managed by the Paediatrics Department of the hospital. One of the camps will be held at the main bus stand in Sohana village and the other At Gurdwara Akal Ashram, Sohana, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Children upto the age of 5 can get their polio drops free of cost at these camps.


Better Indo-Pak ties to boost trade

Ferozepore January 4
The international border at the India-Pakistan joint check point, Hussainiwala, can be opened for trade and transit only after the relations between the two neighbours become cordial, Union Minister of Chemicals and Fertilisers Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said today.

Addressing a gathering during a function in the memory of Bhagat Singh, Mr Dhindsa said Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee had tried his best to maintain amiable ties with Pakistan but the military leadership of that country replied with invasion in Kargil.

He said a befitting memorial would be raised at Hussainiwala in the memory of the revolutionary who lit the eternal flame of freedom by embracing the gallows.

Mr Dhindsa said he would request Union Urban Development Minister Jagmohan and Minister of State for Tourism and Cultural Affairs Vinod Khanna to come down to Ferozepore and sanction the project. PTI


Panchayat takes possession of 30 shops
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 4
Budhlada village panchayat today took possession of 30 shops in the village under the orders of the District Development and Panchayat Officer (DDPO) under the Punjab Premises (Rent Recovery and Eviction) Act. The shops were under unauthorised occupation of various persons of the town. The panchayat has also got issued notices from the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), Budhlada for the removal of encroachments of 75 shops constructed illegally on panchayat land.

The action has been taken as Deputy Commissioner Mansa S.K. Ahluwalia, who visited Budhlada town on January 1, 2003 directed to implement the orders of the DDPO, Mansa.


Harassment by ST staff alleged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 4
Mr Kasturi Lal Aggarwal, president, Bathinda Beopar Mandal, in a statement here yesterday alleged that the officers of the Sales Tax Department have harassing traders.

Mr Aggarwal alleged certain officials and employees of the Sales Tax Department treated traders as criminals and threatened them with dire consequences.

He said that the department viewed even honest tax payers as thieves. He also accused certain Sales Tax officials of demanding gifts and other items from traders.

He pointed out that a meeting of the mandal had decided that if the Sales Tax authorities did not stop harassment for the traders, the traders would gherao the Sales Tax team.


Bhaura hails IT on farm sector
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 4
Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP, Bathinda, while welcoming the imposition of income tax on the agricultural sector said it should be imposed only on landlords possessing more than 50 acres.

He was speaking to mediapersons today at Jhande Kalan village in the district. He said the Congress suffered a defeat in Gujarat for bringing on RSS activist like Shanker Singh Vaghela in the forefront. He said, moreover the Congress remained defensive during Gujarat elections.

He condemned the BJP for playing Hindutava card in Gujarat elections and added that the BJP would not be allowed to play the card in any other state in future. He gave a call to all secular forces in the country to unite and defeat the communal forces.


Trade unions to protest on Jan 8
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 4
Various federations of government and semi-government employees unions in Punjab have announced to participate in a satyagrah on January 8, 2003, to protest against the NDA government’s economic policies. Among the unions which participated in a meeting here today were AITUC, INTUC, HMS and CITU.

Announcing the decision, Mr Raghunath Singh, state general secretary, CITU Punjab, said,‘‘ the call for the satyagrah has been given by the National Assembly of Workers.

The agitation would include Rasta Roko and gherao of a bus depot in each district. Punjab Roadways and Punjab State Electricity Board unions have also announced a two-hour strike on that day,’’ he said.


Kharar lawyers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 4
Members of the Kharar Bar Association sat on a protest dharna and observed a fast from 11 a.m. to 5 pm at the judicial complex here today demanding the transfer of the local Judicial Magistrate, Mr Roshan Lal Chouhan.

It is worth mentioning that the lawyers of Kharar have been boycotting the court of Mr Chouhan since December 18, 2002, over his alleged misbehaviour with lawyers.

Protesters decided to intensify their stir if the judge was not transferred. They also decided to observe a complete strike on January 6 and meet the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court and the inspecting judge.

They also requested the Anandpur Sahib Bar Association and the Ropar Bar Association to observe a strike on January 6 in their support.


Demand to cancel advocates’ licences
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 4
Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, President of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, today urged the Chief Justice of India to cancel the licences of two advocates Ram Jethmalani and Shanti Bhushan, for consenting to defend terrorists.

In a press statement here today, Mr Billa said this act of these two lawyers was highly objectionable. He condemned the two lawyers for having offered to contest the cases of the terrorists free of cost. He requested that these lawyers be barred from appearing on behalf of terrorists in courts and their licences cancelled.


Naib-Tehsildar gets pre-arrest bail
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 4
District and Sessions Judge Gurdev Singh here today granted anticipatory bail to Mr Mulakh Raj, NaibTehsildar of Phagwara. He was told to furnish a surety bond of Rs 25000 this evening.

Name of the Naib-Tehsildar figured among nine persons against whom a case of fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy was registered here three days ago in connection with land scandal on the Banga road. The case was registered on the direction of the ADGP (Crime) Punjab.


Army recruitment rally on Jan 27
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 4
An Army recruitment rally for members of Mazhabi and Ramdasia communities will be held in the city on January 27 and January 28. An official press note issued yesterday said the candidates would have to pass physical test in the beginning. The candidates are required to bring original educational certificates at the rally.


Labourer dies as earth caves in

Sangrur, January 4
Mushtaq Khan a labourer was buried under earth today while digging as a big chunk of earth caved in Khurd village near Dhuri, the police said. Meanwhile an unidentified person died at Jakhal Railway station due to cold wave in the region according to reports reaching here. The Jan Seva Samiti activists cremated the deceased. PTI


PIL for sake of opium addicts
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 4
Mr Jagir Singh Sandhu, president of the National Consumer Protection Council, in a press note issued here yesterday, said the council had decided to file public interest litigation (PIL) in favour of poppy husk and opium addicts.

Mr Sandhu said the council would pray to the court to ensure that these intoxitants were provided to them through liquor shops or other agencies by issuing them permits.


Doctor cremated

Moga, January 4
Dr Gaggan Vijyan, (40) an MBBS, who committed suicide with his licenced revolver on January 1 at his residence was cremated here today.

The deceased doctor’s mother, Dr Sneh Lata, and his brother who were settled in New Zealand and his wife Reena who was away to Chennai, attended the cremation. PTI


Two FCI employees suspended
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 4
The Food Corporation of India (FCI) has suspended Mr Sukhdev Singh and Mr R.S. Sarohi, Technical Assistant (TAs) of Budhlada office of the FCI. The suspension was recommended by the Quality Control Manager of the FCI, Mr Pandey, when he went to inspect the quality of rice stored in the godowns of the FCI.

The visit of Mr Pandey was intimated to the Budhlada office of the well in advance and both TAs deliberately absented themselves from duty so that the quality of stored in the godowns of the FCI, Budhlada depot, may not be checked by the visiting officer. Sources reveal that the rice stored in the godowns of the FCI is unfit for human consumption.


One held for drug smuggling
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 4
The police has booked five persons for their involvement in the smuggling of charas, heroin, smack, arms, ammunition and gold. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, talking to newspersons here today, said Didar Singh, alias Dara, a resident of Lakhanpur in Jammu and Kashmir, had been arrested in this connection. His accomplices, Dilbag Singh, alias Bagga, a resident of Kila Zamalpur in Pathankot, Dev Singh, a resident of Madhopur Kullian in Sujanpur, Mohamad Yusuf Daar and Haji Shamsheen Ahmad Daar, both residents of Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir, are still at large.

The SSP said the police, on the basis of specific information, registered a case on 17 December under various sections of the NDPS Act, Arms Act, Explosives Act, Foreign Act and the IPC of the Sadar police station, Pathankot. He said the accused were members of a gang of international smugglers. He said they had links with Pakistani smugglers, with whose help they smuggled arms, ammunition and gold from Pakistan.

The SSP said Sub-Inspector Dev Dutt, SHO, Sadar police station, Pathankot, conducted raids to nab the culprits and arrested Didar Singh. During his preliminary interrogation, Didar confessed to having smuggled 20 kg of charas recently from Srinagar and selling it in Bangalore.

The police has seized 250 grams of charas, which he had concealed near a canal in the sarkanda.


Poppy husk seized

Jalandhar, January 4
The police here today seized 319 kg of poppy husk and arrested four persons, carrying the contraband. During a checking at Phillaur today, the police intercepted a vehicle search of which led to the seizure of bags containing 319 kg of poppy husk. All four occupants of the vehicle were arrested, police sources said here. PTI


MCI stops admissions to PG course in ophthalmology
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 4
The Medical Council of India (MCI) has stopped admissions to postgraduate classes in ophthalmology from the next academic session due to shortage of senior staff members at Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here.

According to reports available, a team of the MCI visited the college a few months ago to examine the study of different postgraduate courses running in the institution for the past many years. During the inspection the team members found that the post of Professor of ophthalmology was vacant and the students were being taught by Assistant Professors thus violating the norms of the body. Under the rules, at least a Professor rank expert is mandatory to run the class. The team directed the authorities of the GGS Medical College and Hospital to stop admissions till further orders.

It is learnt that about two years ago Dr P.S. Sandhu, Professor and Head, Eye Department, was sent on deputation as Registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFUHS), and no other senior expert was appointed to fill the vacant post.

Dr N.K. Singla and Dr Ramesh Bajaj, Assistant Professors of Ophthalmology who have teaching experience of over 17 years and teaching postgraduate students here, are awaiting their promotion.

When contacted Dr L.S. Chawla, Chairman, MCI for postgraduate courses, said though GGS Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot, fulfilled conditions like a 30-bedded hospital, a lecturer, a reader and 80 per cent occupancy of the patients and yet a professor in ophthalmology was needed to run postgraduate courses.


Schools closed due to cold wave
Our Correspondent

Batala, January 4
All private and government primary, middle, high and senior secondary schools in the Batala Sub-Division were closed till January 11, 2003 (Saturday) according to an order of Mr Parneet Bhardwaj, Sub-Division Magistrate, Batala.

He added that this step had been taken due to cold wave prevailing in the sub division.

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