Monday, January 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Meeting on Punjabi vs English today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Eminent educationists, scholars, writers and administrators will meet here tomorrow to thrash out a lingering issue — whether the mother tongue should be given priority over a foreign language or both should be taught simultaneously?

Informed official sources told The Tribune today that the meeting had been called on the direction of Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, who will take part in the debate.

The issue is mother tongue (Punjabi) versus English. Though both Capt Amarinder Singh and Education Minister Khushal Bahl are all for teaching English in government primary schools, there is a difference of opinion between the two regarding the class from which the teaching of English should be started.

In fact, the roots of the issue are in the SAD-BJP Government. Mr Tota Singh, who was the Education Minister during the SAD-BJP Government, introduced teaching of English from class I in government primary schools. It generated a lot of controversy in the state. It divided scholars and writers. While most eminent Punjabi writers opposed the introduction of English from the first standard in government primary schools, the other camp supported its introduction.

Punjabi writers and even certain experts in education argue that the initiation of any child in a school should be made with the teaching of his/her mother tongue. Teaching of English or an other language should be started only after the “assimilation of the child” in the atmosphere of the school.

However, certain scholars favour the introduction of English from class I. They say that all standard public schools start the teaching of English from the first standard and introduce the mother tongue at a much later stage, say either from the third or fourth standard. Even the West Bengal Government has reportedly introduced English from class I in government schools.

Capt Amarinder Singh wants that English should be introduced from class I. He has argued that in this age of globalisation and extreme competition, Punjab students should not be found wanting while appearing in interviews at the national and international levels where fluency in English plays a major role in the selection.

However, Mr Bahl, who has been following the middle path says that English should be introduced from the third standard whereas Punjabi scholars say that the earlier system of starting its teaching from class VI should be reintroduced and in the first five classes all subjects should be taught in the mother tongue.

A number of meetings had been held between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Bahl to sort out this issue. But it remained unresolved. And then Capt Amarinder Singh suggested that the issue should be debated at a meeting of experts before a decision taken accordingly.


SGPC ‘delays’ Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 5
The Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) has taken the SGPC to task for adopting dilly-dallying tactics in the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar at the behest of vested interests.

Blaming the SAD and SGPC for the ills plaguing the Sikh community, panchayat convener Charanjit Singh Khalsa and panch Mangal Singh told TNS that a recent indicator of the alleged political games being played by Sikh leaders — at the cost of the welfare of the community — was the acquittal of Congress leader Sajjan Kumar in the 1984 Sikh riots case.

“It is a fact that the accused was acquitted since Satnami Bai, the prime witness, retracted her statement. She did so since the SAD leadership wanted to keep its ties with the Congress intact and had her appeals for financial help ignored by the DSGMC. Not content with this, she was beaten up in a gurdwara by certain committee members to intimidate her,” they alleged.

“Now the SAD is shedding crocodile tears and the SGPC chief has said he will meet the PM, but of what use. If a party which could not ensure justice for thousands of Sikh widows for over 18 years and during its five-year reign having complete hold on four institutions — chief ministership, SGPC, DSGMC, besides being a coalition partner in the NDA government — what can they do now?” they questioned.

“The Nanakshahi calender is being delayed at the instance of the RSS. While the previous SGPC chief, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had announced that the calendar would be implemented, she backtracked later on allegedly after pressurised by senior party colleagues.

Now again, the SGPC chief has referred the matter to a select committee, which means another unnecessary delay,” they pointed out.

“Now the issue of apostasy among the Sikh masses is suddenly being played up. Where were the present leaders when an entire generation was going astray? It is well known that most of the SGPC members themselves are apostate and have failed to serve as ideal role models for the youth”, they alleged.

Mr Charanjit Singh alleged that the increase in dera culture in the state was due to the covert support and patronage of self-effacing politicians. “When the Akal Takht Jathedar himself presents siropas to the dera mahants — which do not follow the Sikh rehat maryada, what signals do they send to the innocent Sikh masses”, they questioned.

Commenting on the statements about a “Hindu rashtra”, Mr Charanjit Singh said India was comprised of various communities and if one particular community wanted a part for themselves, the others should also be allowed to have one.


Jathedar wants leaders to show the way
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Shri Damdama Sahib, today said a change of heart lifestyle and was needed to promote Sikhism.

Mr Balwant Singh, who will be installed as the Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib tomorrow, at an informal talk with the mediapersons here today, said those holding high posts in Sikh bodies should lead an exemplary life so that the people were motivated to adopt Sikhism as a way of life.

Replying to a question he said no rules or a tough stand against the “dera-culture” was needed and if those holding high posts in Sikh bodies lead an exemplary life the Sikhs would never think of following any deras.

He said all heads of the gurdwaras in the region and their granthis would be called to attend a training camp on Sikhism.

He said he would ask for help from various NGOs of the region in launching a decisive war against female foeticide and drug abuse.

Quoting religious texts, Jathedar Nandgarh pointed out that using any kind of drug was like living in a hell. He said in some religions, social boycott of drug abusers had been recommended as a deterrent to check the trend.

On the “neglect” of Talwandi Sabo, he said it was due to the fact that this place was given the recognition as takht quite late and supported the demand that a university be set up at Guru ki Kashi (Talwandi Sabo), as blessed by the 10th Guru, Sri Guru Gobind Singh. He said to improve the functioning of the various gurdwaras and prevent scams (like the karah prasad scam), fear of God should be instilled among the employees and followers.

Refusing to be drawn into any controversy, Jathedar Nandgarh said the issue regarding the association or following of certain deras by some senior Sikh leaders would be decided by high priests and he would disclose his feelings on same other occasion.

He said the educational institutes under the Sikh bodies could play a significant role in taking Sikhism to masses and he would be taking initiatives for the same.

He clarified that he had been living separate from his brother, who had been facing serious criminal charges and claimed had been following the “maryada” of Sikhism throughout his life.

He further claimed that a dispute with his son-in-law, against whom, his family had lodged an FIR for harassment, has been sorted out and only a few formalities in this connection were pending.

Many senior functionaries of Sikh bodies, including, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, Jathedar Akal Takht, Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Kesgarh Sahib, Mann Singh, Secretary, SGPC, Hardalbir Singh, Bhai Tirath Singh Sewapanthi and many senior SAS (B) leaders including, former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal will attend his installation ceremony to be held tomorrow morning at Talwandi Sabo.


Border mines: tributes paid to soldiers, civilians
Ashok Sethi and Pawan Kumar

An army man serves at a "langar" at the border village of Muhawa, where an "akhand path" was held.
An army man serves at a "langar" at the border village of Muhawa, where an "akhand path" was held. 
— photo by Rajiv Sharma

Mahawa (Indo-Pakistan) Border, January 5
Warm tributes were paid to 15 Army men and three civilians who lost their lives this day last year while unloading land-mines from a military truck during Operation Prakarm following the December 13 attack on Parliament, at a special function in this village on the international border.

At an impressive and solemn ceremony senior Army officers and residents of the village placed flowers at a specially built memorial on the site where 18 persons lost their life while laying mines near the border.

The Army organised bhog of Akhand Path and performed ardas for the dead.

The Army organised ‘langar’ and was joined by the residents of village. Earlier a contingent of Army jawans performed the memorial service.

The civilians’ families who lost their kin have been running from pillar to post for the jobs promised by the state government. Suitable compensation was given to the families by the Army authorities.

The cold wave and fog enveloping the border belt hampered the demining operation undertaken by the Army. In the post 10 days the de-mining operation resulted in the handing over at least 10 villages to the residents for their ploughing fields after making these safe for them to return their farms. According to an Army spokesman the de-mining of 10,000 acres in the district would be completed in six months.

Army engineers have employed the state of the art equipment for this arduous task and were probing every inch of mines to ensure that no anti personnel and anti tank mine was left behind.


Left for Italy, landed in Pak jail
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 5
Twelve youths from Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, who paid Rs 3 lakh each to Kulwinder Kaur and her son Harjinder Singh of Batala on the promise that they would be sent to Italy, instead landed in Quetta jail in Baluchistan province of Pakistan. This was stated here today by Mr Gurdyal Singh, who received a letter from the jail, written by his nephew Satnam Singh. The youths were first sent to Egypt, then to Turkey and Iran, from where they were deported to Pakistan.

Mr Gurdyal Singh said Swarn Singh, husband of Kulwinder Kaur, was a non-resident Indian working in Lebanon.

He said the Batala police had instituted and inquiry in his regard and deputed a DSP for the purpose. He lamented that no action had been taken against the three persons responsible for the hardships faced by the youths.

Mr Gurdyal Singh said his nephew had written to him to press the three persons for the refund of money but in vain. He said his nephew, along with 11 other youths, left India on July 1 last year and were languishing in jail.

However, he expressed hope that the youths would be released shortly since the Indian Government was making efforts in this regard. He said he had received a letter from the Home Ministry and the Ministry of External Affairs that diplomatic channels had been set into motion to assure early release of the youths. 


1195 Punjabi youths detained in 20 nations
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 5
While deciding to deport 1195 Punjabi youths, detained for entering their land using illegal channels in search of greener pastures in the past one year, as many as 20 countries have approached the Indian Government to confirm their antecedents for the completion of the deportation process.

According to information gathered by this correspondent, the Regional Passport Office (RPO) here had received communication from Indian missions based in 20 countries to verify the nationality of these Punjabi youths.

While Ukerain topped the list of detainees by arresting 282 persons, 111 youths belonging to Punjab are in Turkey. Similarly, 52 persons in Saudi Arabia, 39 in Solvakia, 15 in Germany, 14 in Doha, 2 in Tehran were arrested in the recent past.

The other countries include Malyasia, Romania, Poland, Hong Kong, Varsova.

RPO officials have prepared a comprehensive data about the illegal immigrants, which is being sent to the Indian missions concerned for facilitating the deportation of the latter to India.


Trains cancelled due to fog
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
The dense fog that engulfed the region this morning forced the railway authorities to cancel two New Delhi-bound express trains, one originating from Sriganganagar and the other starting from the city, while many other were running late by many hours.

The trains cancelled were the Sriganganagar-New Delhi Dainik Express that leaves the city around 8 am and the Bathinda-New Delhi Intercity Express that leaves the city at around 5 am. The Sriganganagar-Howrah, Aabha Express could leave the city only in the afternoon, although its scheduled time was in the morning, and it was late by about 9 hours. Many other trains were also running behind the schedule time.

As the day advanced the sun rose, but the normal life was out of gear in the morning due to thick fog. The passengers that came for boarding different trains had to face difficulties. They were waiting at the platforms in the chilling cold.

Some of the passengers alleged that they were not given proper information about the fate of trains. They said if they were aware about the cancellation or late running of trains, they might not have come to the railway station.

The most hard hit were those who have come to the local railway station from nearby towns and villages. They did not have any other option than to sit on the platforms. Some of the Delhi-bound passengers said they would have to make other arrangements for going to their destinations.

Mr K.L. Meena, Station Superintendent, said trains were cancelled due to bad weather. He said information was given to passengers when it was confirmed that the trains had been cancelled. He said no special arrangements could be made for the passengers stranded at the railway station due to cancellation or late running of trains.


2 lakh given polio drops

As many as 2.13 lakh children were administered polio drops the first round of the pulse polio campaign.

Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh inaugurated the first of the campaign in the city by administrating polio vaccine to a child in the slum area of Dhiru ki Majri. Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Commissioner appreciated the Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, for creating awareness among the public regarding the disease through the display of banners, posters, besides conducting mobile publicity. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Walia said the district had a total of 2.55 lakh children in the 0-5 age group adding that the other children would be targeted through a house-to-house campaign in the next two days.

A similar function was inaugurated by the presidents of the District Congress Committee, Mr Ved Prakash Gupta.



Ex-SGPC member’s son denied bail
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 5
Kulwinder Singh, son of former SGPC member Hakam Singh Grewal, who was booked by the Vigilance Bureau for securing the job of lecturer by showing fake certificates, has been denied anticipatory bail by a court.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), Bathinda Range, said in a press note issued today that the bureau had stepped up efforts to arrest Kulwinder Singh after the court denied him anticipatory bail. He said Mr Jaspal Singh, Special Judge, dismissed the application of Kulwinder Singh, for anticipatory bail yesterday.

Kulwinder Singh was booked under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 of the IPC and Sections 13(1), 13(2) and 88 of the PC Act for allegedly getting job with the help of fake degrees.

Mr Grewal said during investigation it was found that Kulwinder Singh had not passed the BA-III examination from Punjabi University, Patiala, as claimed by him, although he took the examination. He was caught using unfair means in the examination and as a punishment he was debarred for two years from taking any examination.

Kulwinder Singh allegedly got fake degrees of MA (political science) and B.Ed from Sapoorna Nand Sanskrit Vishav Vidyalaya, Varanasi. He got the job of a lecturer of political science in December, 2001 and was posted at Ghandabanna village in the district.

Mr Grewal said the Registrars of Punjabi University, Patiala, and Sapoorna Nand Sanskrit Vishav Vidyalaya, Varanasi, had confirmed in writing that the degress of Kulwinder Singh, were fake. 


Mann decries Bibi’s remarks
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Bibi Jagir Kaur, who had allegedly killed her daughter and committed foeticide, had no right to lead a jatha of women to do press for the freedom of women to do “seva” in the sanctum sanctorum of the Harmandar Sahib. 

He said that his party would oppose her action.


Lathi charge on dismissed secys flayed
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 5
The General Secretary of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, has condemned the lathi charge on the dismissed Panchayat Secretaries by the government in Chandigarh on Friday.

Stating that such an act had merely caused unrest in the state, Mr Chandumajra pointed out that many of the unpopular decisions of the state government had caused more harm than good. “Some of the decisions that have been taken by the Capt Amarinder Singh government in the last few months have caused enough distress for people to have taken to the streets, which is not a good sign,” he said.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Chandumajra also stated that all last-minute arrangements have been made for the Akali conference scheduled to be held on the Bathinda road on January 14 on occasion of the Maghi Mela in Muktsar. “The Shahi Imam and Swami Agnivesh will also be attending this conference where we are meeting to implement the decision to form a National Democratic Minority Front.”

Mr Chandumajra further stated, “After the Gujarat election results and the court decision on Sajjan Kumar, minorities in the country need to have an option other than the BJP and the Congress and that is what we are trying to give them in the form of this front. Secularism and democracy is the need of the hour.”

Mr Chandumajra also showed his concern against the fact that Punjab had not been declared drought-struck by the Centre specially when according to one report, the Punjab farmer had spent Rs 2000 per acre more than any other farmer on the state to save his crops from drought. “The Punjab farmer has still not be given any help either in the form of special monetary assistance or slashing of rates of fertilisers and insecticides etc.”

Mr Chandumajra also stated that the government should not privatise education since it was one of the Fundamental Rights and responsibility of a Fundamental Right could never be given in private hands. ‘‘Both Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh should get out of trading allegations and counter statements and do something constructive for the state,’’ he said.

Mr Chandumajra was accompanied by Mr Hardeep Singh, member SGPC, who at the end of the conference stated that the decision to appoint a political person as the religious head of Damdama Sahib was not a wise one. ‘‘This would lead to politics getting the better of religion,’’ he said.



CPI also for ‘wholesome resolution’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab unit of the Communist Party of India (CPI) has called a meeting of its secretariat on January 7 to decide its stand on the dispute between Punjab and Haryana over the Supreme Court order on completion of the Satluj-Yamuna Link canal.

Party secretary Dr Joginder Dayal, extending support to Punjab, CM Amarinder Singh’s stand of a wholesome resolution of dispute, said the CPI would participate in the all-party meeting called by the Chief Minister.

Dr Dayal said the CPI would attend the meeting called by the Chief Minister and put forth suggestions on how best to solve the problem, keeping in mind the interests of Punjab.

Accusing political parties of playing to the gallery with units in Punjab and Haryana taking diametrically opposite views, Dr Dayal said none seemed serious about resolving the dispute between the two states.



Barnala visits Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
On his first visit here after being sworn in as Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala said he would endeavour to bring technology and technology-based development schemes for Punjab. 

Talking to the press after paying obeisance at the Golden Temple today, he said Punjab too should initiate a project like the hydel project in Uttaranchal.


IMA decries protest over plant
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 5
The Indian Medical Association, Punjab, has expressed concern over protests against the biomedical waste treatment plant coming up at Jalandhar. In a press note here today Dr Kuldeep Singh state president-elect and Dr Rajinder Sharma, member-secretary of the association, said the protests appeared to be aimed at derailing the project to dispose of the biomedical waste in a non-dangerous way. The plant would dispose of hospital waste in safe and scientific manner, they added. This would check the spread of dangerous diseases, they said. IMA representatives have visited the plant and noted that all guidelines and the norms of the Central Government under the Supreme Court directions had been adhered to.

The Punjab Pollution Control Board and local Municipal authorities have already given NOC to the plant. They alleged that certain vested interests were behind the move. The IMA also condemned the so-called certificate issued by the DHO, Jalandhar, stating that the plant could cause diseases like asthma, TB and even AIDS. It is misleading and seemed to have been issued without giving serious thought to the matter. 


Kapurthala to get Rs 12-cr sewage plant
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 5
Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, Punjab, yesterday inaugurated a tubewell built at a cost of Rs 10 lakh and a shopping complex, at Mansoorwal village near here. He announced the setting up of a sewage treatment plant at a cost of Rs 12 crore in the town this year.

He said the town would also get its share of the loan of Rs 800 crore, being given to Punjab by World Bank for water supply and sewerage schemes.

Later, talking to newspersons at the office of the local Municipal Council after inaugurating a musical fountain, Mr Jagjit Singh announced that elections to municipal councils in the state would be held in March, 2003.


Laxmi Kanta saves driver from cops

Phagwara, January 5
A truck driver, who was being beaten up by a group of policemen was rescued by former BJP MLA Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla near Banga in Nawanshahar district yesterday. According to a complaint lodged by Ms Chawla with the Banga police, the truck driver was beaten as he did not give way to a minister’s calcavade on the Phagwara-Chandigarh road. The truck driver had not allowed the cavalcade to overtake for the safety of a three wheeler, carrying passengers and moving ahead of the truck.

This enraged the cops accompanying the minister’s convoy and after overtaking the truck, the angry cops parked their gypsy right in the middle of the road and pulled the driver out and started beating him up.

Ms Chawla, who was returning to Amritsar from Chandigarh in her vehicle, saw the cops kicking and abusing the truck driver. She stopped her vehicle and confronted the policemen and eventually succeeded in rescuing the helpless driver. UNI


Magician drives scooter blindfolded
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Magician Jatinder Singh Babbar, who arrived in the city yesterday to perform at the Tagore Theatre here, today created a sensation by driving a scooter blindfolded through crowded roads and streets.

Patiala Subdivisional Magistrate M.S. Narang earlier blindfolded the magician. A number of layers of cloth were binded on Mr Babbar’s eyes in front of members of the public. A black mask was also used to cover his entire face. Later the SDM also checked the genuineness of the blindfold material before flagging off the event.

Babbar drove across several areas, including Bhupindra road, Railway Crossing Number 22 and Fountain Chowk before coming back to the Tagore Theatre where he was received by its managing director Harjinder Singh. All along the route a large number of vehicles followed him even as onlookers looked on in amazement.

Later in the evening, Mr Babbar performed 20 “magic tricks”, including some which are regarded as rare and exclusive to him alone. These included making a real-life elephant ‘vanish’ from the stage besides galloping a naked sword and then bringing it back. The elephant trick brought out gasps among members of the audience. Another breathtaking item included inviting a couple from the audience and showing them an object which one said was a snake and another a bundle of notes. Suspending a girl in the air besides few comedy and dance items were the other highlights of the show.



Knee surgery performed
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 5
A team of orthopaedic surgeons led by a renowned bone specialist of the area, Dr Kulbir Singh Purewal, a retired Civil Surgeon, has performed “total knee arthroplasty” on a 75-year-old woman, Ms Daljit Kaur, of nearby Mahalon village here at Jot Nursing Home.

Claiming this, Dr Gurvinder Singh Chhatwal, says earlier such patients belonging to this area have to go to the hospitals situated in metropolitan cities. Now, all requisite latest surgical equipment and services of specialist doctors had been made available here to provide better and less expensive treatment to patients suffering from bone diseases.

The patient, said she had been suffering from acute continuous pain in her knees and joint immobility for the past couple of years and was on pain killers. She has been relieved of pain and has started walking normally after three days of the operation, said the visibly looking hale and hearty old woman.


BJP plan for rural development
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 5
The BJP under its ‘pind chalo abhiyan’ has worked out a special plan for the development of rural areas in Punjab. Stress will be laid on construction of new link roads, repair of old roads, augmentation of drinking water supply, besides strengthening the party at the grass-roots level by enrolling more and more members. Many senior state leaders have been deployed to personally meet the ruralites and listen to their problems. They have been directed to submit their report to the central leadership by January 10.

Stating this here today, Mrs Gurcharan Kaur, MP and vice-president of the state unit of the party, said during her tour to the rural areas in districts like Ludhiana, Gurdaspur, Patiala, Faridkot and Sangrur in the past two weeks, she found that over 250 villages badly needed facilities of drinking water and roads on a priority basis. She said her party had enrolled two lakh members more during the past three months in the state. During the tour she also sanctioned a grant of Rs 5 lakh from her discretionary quota to the needy areas for development purposes.


1 dies of asphyxia

While severe cold wave sweeping across the northern region threw life out of gear, little did Joginder Singh know what fate had in store for him when he slept last night after lighting an “angeethi” in a closed room to get relief from the cold, which caused his death.

Joginder Singh (25) was found dead and his room mate Raju (26) was lying unconscious in the room in the morning due to asphyxiation in the servant quarter of one of a local hotel here this morning, police sources said.

Joginder and his room mate had taken a burning “angeethi” left behind by revellers to their room last night to get relief from the severe cold, said Raman Gupta, manager of the hotel.

Both were immediately taken to a nearby hospital where doctors diagnosed asphyxiation from “angeethi” as reason of Joginder’s death.

Raju’s condition was stated to be out of danger. PTI


Hill levelling in Bingal area harms ecology
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 5
The levelling of the foothills of the Shivaliks near Bingal has harmed the fauna and flora of the area.

Land mafia, which allegedly has the patronage of government officials and politicians, has levelled hills and made money by selling the land for residential purposes and farmhouses.

The historical significant of the area too has been eroded with conversion of Shahpurkandi fort into a rest-house. A part of the ancient Shimla park was converted into a TV relay centre allegedly due to political interference.

With the officials not concerned about nature conservation, the levelling of Shivalik foothills continues, posing a danger to the ecological balance.


Award for physician
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 5
Dr Himanshu Garg, a boy from Barnala has been awarded NAPCON Best Research Award at the five-day National Conference on Pulmonary Diseases (NAPCON)2002 organised at B.M. Birla Science and Technology Research Centre in Jaipur.

NAPCON 2002 was hosted under the aegis of the National College of Chest Physicians (NCCP), Jaipur, where specialists in pulmonary and chest diseases from various parts of India participated. 


1 dies of poisoning
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Bagicha Singh (40) died while his wife Kuldip Kaur (37) and their son Laddi (15) are in a critical condition in a private nursing home. According to the police, Bagicha Singh, and his family, residents of the Kot Khalsa locality, went to sleep after having dinner on Friday. But when a close kin went to their house yesterday, he found no one responding from inside.

Apprehending some trouble, he along with some neighbours forced open the main door and found Kuldip Kaur and Ladi lying unconscious but Bagicha Singh was dead. It seems the family had consumed some poisonous substance either by mistake or to commit suicide. The police did not rule out foul play.


DC orders scrutiny of rice millers’ stocks
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 5
Deputy Commissioner here, Rakesh Verma, has ordered an inquiry following complaints that certain rice millers in connivance with government officials, particularly Mr Mulkh Raj, District Food and Supplies Controller, committed various irregularities like re-entry of stocks purchased before October 1, 2002 and other entries and avail of levy entitlement.

He added that it was alleged that certain stocks meant for exports were likely to be diverted under levy quota under alleged fictitious purchases from other districts. Some millers also allegedly did excess milling.

It was alleged that Rs 60,000 was being made for each truck of rice purchased from open market. It was to be supplied against levy quota. In one case, a miller was allotted paddy while he did not even have power connection to his mill.

The DC has formed a committee comprising the Additional Deputy Commissioner (D) and Subdivisional Magistrate, Kapurthala, to scrutinise the record of the firms, records of the Market Committees, records of the Food and Civil Supplies and the FCI. He has also directed that physical verification of stocks of these firms also be carried out. The committee visited MP Rice Mills and RF Oversees to verify the stocks and the scrutiny of the records.

On controversy of levy rice, Mr Verma said that “No distress sale” certificate had not been issued, as the Department of Food and Civil Supplies had not been able to furnish requisite details regarding the definition of “distress sale” and norms regarding “distress sale”. He said that he has sought report from DFSC regarding the purchase of paddy below MSP before October 1, 2002 and after October 1, 2002. A report from respective Subdivisional Magistrates has been sought before issuing “No distress sale” certificate.


Two held, pistols seized
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 5
A team of the CIA police headed by Inspector Satwant Singh has arrested two persons and seized two pistols of .12 and .315 bores along with a large number of cartriges at a naka.

A scooter, without number and documents, was seized from them.

In a press note issued here today Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, identified the arrested persons as Karamjit Singh and Joga Singh, residents of Sadiq and Deep Singhwala, respectively, in the district.

A case under Sections 25, 54 and 59 was registered, he said.


Woman’s foot chopped off
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 5
Gian Chand along with his sons and family members chopped off Maya Bai’s left foot at Chandmari village this morning. A dispute over land is said to be the reason behind the attack.

According to reports, a court had decided a case related to the disputed land in favour of Maya Bai. Enraged over the decision Gian Chand and his family members assaulted Maya Bai. A case has been registered.


1 held for making threat call

Gurdaspur, January 5
The police today arrested Laddi a resident of Babbri, for threatening Mr Balwinder Singh, a resident of the same village, and demanding Rs 50 lakh from him in the name of Baba Ajit Singh Phoola. OC


Teachers not paid for 7 months

Fazilka, January 5
As many as 1,353 teachers of government middle schools in Punjab appointed under Operation Blackboard about five years ago have not been paid salaries since June, 2002.

This was stated by Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Government Secondary Teachers’ Union, Punjab. OC

Meet demands, say dental teachers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 5
Expressing resentment over the delay in the implementation of their demands, members of the Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, local unit have appealed to the government to call a meeting of the organisation for immediate removal of grievances including re-designation, filling up of posts and improvement of state hospitals.

In a statement issued here, the vice-president of the association, Dr Ravinder Singh, and the general-secretary, Dr B.S. Sohal, stated that the government had committed a breach of trust by its failure to fulfil its decision regarding re-designation, an issue which has been hanging fire for the past three decades.

Dr Sohal said as vacant posts have not been filled, the shortage of staff has led the MCI to decrease various postgraduate seats in government medical colleges.

He further stated that though medical teachers all over the state had launched an agitation for improvement in hospitals, demanding that user charges be utilised for efficient operation of hospital services, no action had been taken so far by the government, despite its announcement to do so.

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