Friday, January 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Elections for Panchayat Samitis’ chairmen on Jan 28
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
The Punjab government has decided to hold elections of chairmen and vice-chairmen of Panchayat Samitis on January 28 and chairmen and vice-chairmen of Zila Parishads on February 8.

The elections to elect members of Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads, were due in 1999 but were held on June 9, 2002 after the Congress came to power. The state government could not hold elections for the posts of chairman and vice-chairman of both bodies due to political compulsions. Elected members were also felt unhappy over the delay in holding the elections of chairmen and vice-chairmen.

Sources close of Punjab Rural Development Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal said that process to elect chairmen and vice-chairmen of Panchayat Samitis and Zila Parishads would be over by February 8 and these bodies would start functioning properly thereafter.

Official sources said that though no official intimation had been sent to the Deputy Commissioners for holding such elections. The Department of Panchayat and Rural Development Punjab had taken a decision in this regard and made all preparations.

The Deputy Commissioner of 17 revenue districts of Punjab would appoint the returning officers (Ros) for electing chairmen and vice chairmen of 17 Zila Parishads and 140 Panchayat Samitis through secret ballot except where the members would elect chairman and vice-chairman unanimously.

Sources said that tenure of five years of elected members had started the day they were declared elected by the Returning Officers (Ros). Whether the tenure of five years of chairman and vice-chairman would start from the day they would be declared elected as chairman and vice-chairman officially or from the day, they were elected members of these bodies could not be cleared.


Poll for block samiti heads
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, said today that the elections of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of block samitis would be held on January 28. The elections of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of the Zila Parishads would be held on February 4. It may be mentioned that though members of these bodies were elected last year, the government did not hold the elections of chairpersons and others.


Kahlon’s kin among 4 held for forgery
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 9
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested four persons, including the elder brother of Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, a former Akali minister, while seven others, who had allegedly prepared fake documents to get loans from a bank under the name of a registered society — Karman Cooperative Society — are still on the run.

However, Mr Ravi Karan Singh Kahlon and Ms Navjot Kaur Kahlon, son and daughter-in-law of Mr Kahlon, could not be arrested as they have reportedly gone abroad. The four persons who have been arrested during raids conducted by Mr T.P.S. Sandhu, SP, and Mr Jagir Singh, DSP, included Mr Narinder Singh Kahlon (brother of the former Akali Minister), Mr Rabinder Singh, and Mr Satnam Singh, both relatives of Mr Kahlon.

However, the Vigilance Bureau has launched a massive manhunt to arrest other members of the society, including Mr Babbi, Mr Ravinder Singh, Mr Santokh Singh and Mr Harpreet Singh — all members of the society.

The Vigilance Bureau raided the house of Mr Kahlon at his native village Dadu Jodh. Mr T.P.S. Sandhu, SP, confirmed that the bureau had booked 11 members of the society under various sections of the IPC.

According to the DSP, the society members had committed a fraud with the bank by enhancing its limit of Rs 55,000 to Rs 10.55 lakh on the basis of fake documents of mortgage. However, after an inquiry conducted by the bank the members of the society were found to be guilty.

It may be mentioned here that Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon is already facing corruption charges in an alleged recruitment scam during his tenure as Minister for Panchayat and Rural Development.

All arrested persons would be produced before the court tomorrow.


Guru Gobind Singh remembered
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, January 9
The 337th birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated with great fervour and gaiety here. Thousands of devotees took a holy dip in the sarover and paid obeisance at Golden Temple here. A “jalao” (display of invaluable artefacts and jewellery) were exhibited at Harmandir Sahib for two hours in the morning.

The entire complex was beautifully decorated. Jathas of eminent persons, ragis and dhadis, recited kirtan, “vaars” resonated throughout the night till this Thursday evening.

MOGA: Devotees thronged gurdwaras across the district since early morning on the occasion of birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh. Braving the morning chill, thousands took holy bath in sacred ponds adjoining the gurdwaras in Muktsar, Nanaksar and Takhtupura and attended akhand paths and kirtans. Langars were also organised on the occasion.

PHAGWARA: Bhogs of akhand paths and kirtans were organised in local Gurdwaras of Akalian, Prem Nagar and Model Town followed by langars.

SHAHABAD: Gurpurb was celebrated here with great enthusiasm. Kirtan durbars and langars were organised in Gurdwara Mastgarh Sahab, Gurdwara Nanak Darbar and other gurdwaras of the town.

KAPURTHALA: Gurpurb was celebrated in the town and its adjoining areas with religious fervour. Reports of celebration were also received from Sultanpur Lodhi, Bholath, Bagowal, Dhilwan, Kalasanghian and other parts of the district.

SHIMLA: Dr Suraj Bhan, Governor and Prof P.K. Dhumal, Chief Minister, felicitated the people on the occasion of Guru Gobind Singh’s birth anniversary.


1-cr customs duty evasion detected
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 9
Close on the heels of detecting a large scale duty evasion by a Surat-based firm by trying to siphon off duty free yarn worth Rs 46.72 lakh to a firm in Ludhiana last week, the Anti-smuggling Wing of the Customs Commissionerate has detected evasion of Rs 1 crore customs duty by an export oriented unit (Eou) based in Ludhiana.

The Deputy Commissioner (anti-smuggling), Mr S.J.S. Kahlon, said both these firms were using similar modus operandi to evade customs duty by clandestinely selling the imported yarn purchased by them under the exim policy of the advance licence scheme, meant or Eou units which allows the firms to import yarn without the payment of customs duty. Mr Kahlon said here today that on a tip-off a team of the department led by Mr V.K. Dhawan, Superintendent, raided the premises of Leo Knit Fab, an EOU unit based in Ludhiana and found that huge quantities of polyester filament yarn which had been imported without the payment of customs duty had been siphoned off without proper documents to Shivam Exports another Eou based in Surat. The Managing Director of Leo Knit Fab, Mr R.K. Gupta, had been evading the department and not joining the investigation, added Mr Kahlon.

On investigation it was found that Leo Knit Fab had actually not despatched any material to Shivam Exports in Surat on deemed export basis. The Deputy Commissioner said the probe revealed a clandestine deal and the transport receipts of Pankaj Roadways through which goods were shown to have been despatched, did not exist. However, other transport companies, including Delhi Punjab Goods Carrier and DPGC Carrier Pvt Ltd, both Ludhiana-based carriers, had admitted that they had only issued fake lorry receipts of the goods for some consideration.

Mr Kahlon said the initial inquiry had brought out the startling facts that the imported polyester yarn was actually sold in the open market thereby evading the customs duty to the extent of Rs 1 crore.

In the follow-up action to verify the antecedents of the Surat-based Shivam Exports the Central Excise Division of that area were also directed to verify the goods in Surat. The company’s units were raided and it was found that about 20 lakh metres of finished man-made fabric worth Rs 3.5 crore had been diverted to the open market instead of being exported.


Scholar unlikely to appear before Takht
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 9
Canada based Sikh scholar Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana has said he cannot appear before Akal Takht on February 10 as directed by the Sikh clergy.

Talking to The Tribune from Canada on the telephone the Sikh scholar said that he had read in newspapers only that he had been summoned at Akal Takht. He, however, claimed that he had not received any communication from the Sikh clergy in this regard so far. He, said that he could not visit Amritsar as he was blacklisted by the Government of India due to his proximity with late Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale. He claimed that Indian police had been to Canada twice to arrest him in the past, but in vain. “Moreover, I have been bed-ridden for a long time and doctors had advised me not to travel.”

Mr Kala Afghana, said that he was dedicated to Akal Takht and Sikh tenets. He, however, claimed that Sikh clergy had no authority to summon anybody at Akal Takht or issue an edict as it was the prerogative of the Gurus only. “Sikh clergy should be responsible for the implementation of “Maryada” only”.


Three murdered near Ropar
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 9
Three persons travelling in a truck were brutally murdered by some unidentified persons near Behrampur Zamindara village in this district late this evening, the police said here tonight.

The miscreants stopped the truck, which was bringing a consignment of iron rods towards Ropar side from Mandi Gobindgarh, and hacked the three persons to death, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP said here.

He said the body of one victim was thrown on the road to Behrampur Zamindara village while the remaining two bodies were dumped in bushes along the Morinda-Ropar road, after which the miscreants escaped in the truck.

The victims were hit on their heads with some blunt and sharp-edged weapons, the police said after examining the bodies. The heads were badly smashed, Mr Bhullar said, adding that preliminary investigation revealed the identity of one as Kashmiri Lal, a resident of Bassi Pathanan, the second as Maiya Kishen, a resident of Mandi Gobindgarh while the third victim had not been identified so far.

He said the police was informed about the incident by village Sarpanch Gurdyal Singh. The bodies have been removed to Civil Hospital here for a post-mortem examination, he said.


Three die of suspected poisoning
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, January 9
Three youths, including a 15-year-old-boy, all residents of Uttar Pradesh, who were working in a local bakery, have died under mysterious circumstances. One of their associates has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital for treatment.

They were found dead this morning by the owner of the bakery in their one-room residence situated above the bakery, located on the College Road.

Civil Hospital sources say that the initial diagnosis of the patient admitted in the hospital points to suspected poisoning. Whether the deceased took the poisoning themselves or they were administered poison was yet to be verified by the police.

Dr G.S. Bhullar, SMO, Civil Hospital, said the cause of death could be known only after the report of the chemical examination of the viscera of all deceased was received.

The dead have been identified as Goverdhan (30), Jagrish (25), both relatives and Pankaj (15). Their associate, Satti Ram, has been hospitalised. His condition is stated to be out of danger, said Dr G.S. Sekhon, in charge, Civil Hospital.

Information gathered by TNS from the spot revealed that though the police was informed about the incident around 8.50 a.m, the bodies were not brought to Civil Hospital for post-mortem till late evening. Mr Sukhpal Singh, a police official, disclosed that a case under Section 174 of the CrP.C had been registered in this regard.

Mr Satti Ram said that he alongwith his associates had taken dinner, which was supplied from the house of the bakery owner last night. After taking the food, he went to sleep while the other three started watching television.

In the morning, he came down and ignited the kiln in the bakery. He realised they were dead when after some time, the owner asked him to call the other three workers.

He added that as he had vomited last night after taking food, he was taken to hospital immediately. He said that he did not know how the three persons died.

Meanwhile, Mr Deewan Chand Makkar, vice-president, Municipal Council, who was on the spot, said that kin of deceased living in Punjab and UP had been informed about the incident. The post-mortem would be conducted after they reached the Civil Hospital.


Plea to close schools till Jan 14
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
With the cold wave continuing unabated in north India, doctors have cautioned both the authorities and parents of schoolgoing children, especially those suffering from asthma or other respiratory ailments, against their continuous exposure to severe winter conditions.

Children below five years of age and suffering from various chest ailments, including bronchial asthma, respiratory tract infections and bronchitis, are the worst hit.

Delaying the start of schools by 15 minutes to half an hour neither provides any relief nor protection from vagaries of extreme weather to these children, say doctors claiming that more and more children gasping for breath are turning up at clinics for medical attention. Besides chest ailments, the incidence of vomiting has also been on the rise among school going school children.

With the day and night temperatures continuing much below normal, the cold wave conditions are likely to continue for another four to five days, say meteorological experts.

“The best option would be to close all primary schools till January 14 and start middle and high schools only after 9 a.m.,” suggests Dr Sarvinder Gandhok, a city-based physician.

In Faridkot, the District Magistrate has ordered the closure of all schools till January 31. In Sangrur, the District Magistrate has closed schools till January 13. “They have used their own powers to order the closure of schools. But as far as the Education Department is concerned, I will take up the matter with the Minister tomorrow so that a uniform decision about all schools in the state is taken. Closing the schools till January 13 looks justified but it looks far fetched to keep them closed till January 31. Weather invariably starts warming up after Lohri,” says Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, Principal Secretary, Education, Punjab, admitting that “vulnerable section of school students, especially those of primary classes need to be protected against vagaries of weather.”

Another physician, Dr Harmeet Singh, says that the problem was far more serious in Punjab and Haryana where schoolgoing children have to change buses . “Such children remain exposed to extreme cold wave conditions not only while waiting for buses but also inside the state-owned buses which are usually without windows.


Kanjhla shown black flags
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, January 9
Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, the newly appointed Sangrur district president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was shown black flags by SAD activists in protest against his appointment as district president at Bardwal village, 3 km from here. Mr Kanjhla had come to the village to participate in a religious function organised on the occasion of the birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh.

They sought his removal from the post. They alleged that Mr Kanjhla had worked against SAD candidates in the past Assembly and zila parishad elections.

They urged Mr Badal to appoint a person as the district president who had clean image.


62 Army men presented with gallantry medals
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 9
The Western Command today held the Investiture ceremony here and presented 62 medals to the Army personnel, including those, who displayed exceptional courage during the attack on Parliament and US Consulate in Kolkata. Lieut-Gen S.S.Mehta, Western Command Chief, presented 52 Sena Medals (gallantry), four Sena Medals (distinguished) and six Vashisht Seva medals to Army personnel even as 21 out of 62 were awarded posthumously for the gallantry. Major Devesh Singh of National Security Guards (NSG) was awarded Sena Medal for displaying exemplary bravery during attack on Parliament by Pakistan-trained terrorists on December 13, 2001.

Major Devesh of the Bomb Disposal unit and his team took 10 hours to clear the premises of Parliament of a large number of unexploded grenades, improvised explosive devices to enable MPs and Ministers to be evacuated. Besides, he diffused a car-bomb containing 31 kg of high grade explosives. Havildar Harbhajan Singh of 113 Engineering Regiment was awarded Sena Medal, posthumously. His wife Baljit Kaur received the medal.

Harbhajan Singh, who was heading a mine-laying party, laid 10 mine-fields in near zero visibility and cold conditions. It was while carrying out his task and selflessly that in the 10th minefiled on January 5 last year, he made the supreme sacrifice of his life. Major Raj Bahadur Singh Rawat of Special Group of Grenadiers was awarded Sena Medal for gallantry for killing hardcore terrorists, responsible for the attack on US Consulate in Kolkata on January 22 last year. These terrorists were hiding in Hazaribad in Jharkhand on January 28 last year and Major Rawat while displaying bold initiative killed them after a long encounter.

Sepoy Rajwinder Singh of 16 Rashtriya Rifles received Sena Medal for gallantry for killing two terrorists, who were trying to infiltrate into India from the Poonch sector in Jammu and Kashmir. Others who were awarded Sena Medals include Lt Col Inderjit Singh Chohan, Major Ajoy Mukherjee, Major Anurag Singh Rawat, Major Priyadarshi Amit, Captain Sanjeev Kumar, Captain Virender Singh, Lieut Pardeep Kumar, Lieut Pankaj Parkash, Subedar Pritpal Singh, Subedar Rampal Singh, Hav Kartar Singh, Hav Balendra Kumar, Hav Mallappa, Hav Fire Chand, Nk Rajendra Titiyal, Nk Khub Ram, Nk. Om Parkash, L/Nk. Jawahar Singh, L/Nk. Dhyan Singh, L/Nk Lovepal Singh, l/Nk Bhoominathan K. Sep Sahib Singh, Sep Bularam, Rifleman Purna Chandra, Rifleman Chandra Pal Singh, Rifleman Ajaib Singh, Ptr Dalbir Singh, Ptr Vijay Kumar, Constable Bhanwar Lal, grenadier Nimba Ram, Swar Harpal Singh, Sep Harmes Singh, Rifleman Paramjit Singh, Rifleman Vikas Singh, Sep Manjit Singh, Sep Major Singh, Sep Jugraj Singh, Sep Dharminder Singh, Sep Satnam Singh, Sep Mukhtiar Singh, L/Nk. Darsahn Singh, Nk. Harjinder Singh, Nk Kistura Ram, Hav Madan Lal, Naib Subedar Mohinder Singh, Hav Amarjit Singh, Subedar Satnam Singh, Subedar Mohan Singh. Later talking to reporters, Lieut Gen Mehta said that Army authorities were in the process of clearing minefields laid in the border districts of Punjab and the land would be handed over to its owners after the completion of the process even as it was difficult to limit the period for the same. “It is a slow process since it is very important to locate the exact position of the land-mines, which may be dislocated for several reasons,” he added. Deputy Commissioner K. Siva Prasad, 11 Corps chief, Lieut Gen K. Nagraj and other senior Army officials were present at the function.


LPG being sold on black market?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 9
The city is facing an acute shortage of LPG gas cylinders. According to sources, the supply of cylinders from filling plants has been erratic, this creating problems for authorised dealers and gas agencies of Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum.

The situation has become worse since the past fortnight. Unscrupulous elements are using the opportunity to make a fast buck. Cylinders are being sold at twice and thrice their original price.

Even employees of gas agencies, who deliver cylinders to consumers, are quick to seize the opportunity of selling the cylinders at an inflated price. It is learnt that they are also involved in refilling of cylinders, thus selling under-weight cylinders to consumers at a higher price.

The sources point out that Bharat Petroleum and Hindustan Petroleum LPG outlets are facing problems in meeting the demands of the public. It is learnt that filling plants located in Haryana are responsible for the shortage in the supply of gas cylinders. These plants serve about 2.5 lakh connections in Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.

The filling plants located close to New Delhi are also facing a similar problem, according to reports. The supply from mother plants has been affected due to some major problem in pipelines. Owners of gas agencies here are not willing to divulge the reasons for the shortage of LPG cylinders.

The rural hinterland has been hit the worst as gas cylinders supplied to the agencies, which are located in cities, are sold within hours of their arrival. Villagers have no choice but to procure these on the black market.


Joint operation to curb militancy
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 9
Punjab, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir police forces and other security agencies have geared up for a joint operation against militants following reports that several militant outfits based in Pakistan have been preparing for subversion in this border region.

According to a senior police officer, Pakistan’s ISI is trying to create trouble and for this they have started reviving certain defunct outfits.

According to reports several Kashmiri militant outfits had been rendered defunct following pressure by security forces. Hundreds of their cadres were killed and several injured and arrested during anti-insurgency operation.

That due to pressure and cold weather, the area of operations of these outfits was reduced and reportedly have shifted to border areas of Punjab and Himachal.

A senior police officer pleading anonymity said some outfits had been wiped out and others rendered disfunctional due to pressure from security forces.

All entrance points of Himachal and Jammu and Kashmir have been handed over to forces of special services group.


Report on UBDC scam by month-end
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
After a review of the ongoing inquiry into the Rs 100-crore scam in the Upper Bari Doab Canal remodelling project of the Irrigation Department, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh has reportedly told the inquiry panel to submit its report by month-end.

Sources said today the Chief Minister reviewed the progress of the inquiry at a meeting with Mr Rajan Kashyap, Principal Secretary Irrigation; Mr Bhagat Singh, Adviser to the Chief Minister on irrigation matters; and other senior officers of the Irrigation Department. The inquiry is being held under the overall supervision of Mr Bhagat Singh.

Mr Kashyap said the Chief Minister had given clear directions that all those involved in the scam should be brought to book.

Capt Amarinder Singh has told the committee that all aspects of the inquiry should be put up before him. Members of the inquiry committee had mentioned cases of big bungling in the project at the review meeting.

There are reports of involvement of certain politicians and senior officers in the scandal. On the basis of a preliminary inquiry more than a month ago, the Chief Minister had ordered the suspension of Chief Engineer Sukhjinder Singh Sandhu, Superintending Engineer Jarnail Singh and two Executive Engineers — Gurmail Singh and Anil Khosla. On the basis of the preliminary inquiry, the Chief Minister had ordered a full-fledged inquiry. In his preliminary inquiry report, Mr Bhagat Singh had stated that the entire expenditure of Rs 112 crore on the remodelling project had gone down the drain.


Threat to life from cops alleged
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 9
Ms Gurdeep Kaur, a resident of Gurusar village in Muktsar district, in her complaint to the Punjab police chief and various other authorities has alleged that some police officers, who were facing a case in connection with the murder of her brother, were threatening her and her family with dire consequences.

According to a copy of the complaint supplied to The Tribune today, Ms Gurdeep Kaur, whose brother was allegedly murdered by her sister-in-law, said her brother, who was also a police personnel, was continuously being harassed by some police officials of Muktsar district and they had to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The court ordered a compensation of Rs 25,000, besides a CBI probe into the harassment case. The CBI probe indicted as many as 12 police officials and the charge sheet was presented in a competent court, she added.

Ms Gurdeep Kaur alleged after the CBI registered a case against these police officials, her brother was given death threats. She said on their complaint the President of India (letter No P-2-1046207) ordered the Punjab Chief Secretary to provide security to her brother, but these orders were not executed. Instead of providing security to her brother, he was eliminated with the help of her sister-in-law, she alleged.

She alleged her family members, including her father, were abused by some police officials in the presence of panchayat members of five villages and were compelled to withdraw their complaint against the accused police officers.

She said the Chandigarh chapter of the National Commission for SC/STs had directed the Muktsar SSP to appoint an officer of the rank of SP to conduct an inquiry into the murder of her brother and file the report within 15 days. But, she lamented, the police authorities sought more time to conduct the inquiry. She alleged that some police officials were trying to hush up the case and threatening her family members.

In her complaint Ms Gurdeep Kaur also demanded security for her and her family members and action against the erring police officials.


Team constituted to probe pension scam
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 9
Taking a serious note of the alleged fake pension racket running in Amritsar district, the Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, today constituted a high-level team to probe the matter at all subdivisional headquarters of the district.

A large number of people have been withdrawing old age and widow pension in Amritsar district allegedly in connivance with some officials even as they did not fulfil the prescribed conditions and norms fixed by the Social Welfare Department, Punjab.

Mr R.S. Sandhu, Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, said while a team headed by Mr Bhagwant Singh, Director, Science City, would conduct investigations in all blocks, seven other senior officials have been deputed to probe the matter at the subdivisional level. The officials who have been deputed for investigation at the subdivisional-level include Mr O.P. Popli, SDM, Shahkot, Mr Sandip Hans, SDM, Phillaur, Mr Gurluvlin Singh, SDM, Jalandhar-1, Mr J.P.S. Sahota, SDM, Mr Praneet Singh, SDM, Batala, Mr J.P. Singh, SDM, Gurdaspur and Mr Tarlochan Singh Bhatti, SDM, Sultanpur Lodhi.

According to Mr Sandhu, all deputed officials would check records at their respective subdivisional headquarters on January 10 and 11. He further said any person having information in this regard could meet these officials during the two days at the respective offices of SDMs.


Dual citizenship move welcomed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 9
Mr Naveen Singla, district secretary Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), has welcomed the move for granting dual citizenship to people of Indian origin.

Mr Singla said non-resident Indians were experiencing difficulties due to cultural differences. He said dual citizenship would boost investments by PIOs.


AIDS educator
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 9
Mr Narinder Kumar, a local resident, has been authorised to work as a community AIDS educator by UNAIDS-India.

Mr K. Pardeep, programme officer of UNAIDS, has written a letter to Mr Narinder Kumar in this regard and assured him of all possible support.

Mr Narinder Kumar said he had delivered more than 100 lecturers on AIDS in Bathinda Faridkot and Mansa districts.


One dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 9
Motorcyclist Jasbir Singh (38) died on the spot while pillion-rider Harnek Singh was injured in a collision between their motorcycle and a truck in Central Town here today. Harnek Singh has been hospitalised.


Shepherd electrocuted

Jalandhar, January 9
A shepherd, Kalu, was electrocuted in the cantonment area here today. Kalu was cutting branches of a tree for fodder when a branch of the tree fell in a live electricity wire. He attempted to pull out the branch from the wire and as a result his axe touched the wire electrocuting him. UNI


Factory gutted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 9
Singla Plastic, a factory in Focal Point here, was gutted in a devastating fire last night.

Fire-tenders took nearly two hours to douse the flames which caused immense loss. Factory owners claimed goods worth lakhs were destroyed.


Dharna by farmers continues
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 9
The indefinite dharna and road blockade at the bus stand on the Kharar-Ropar National Highway No 21, started yesterday by farmers from the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) in protest against the nonpayment of sugarcane arrears amounting to Rs 80 crore, entered its second day today. Till the filing of this story, the farmers were still sitting on the dharna.

The farmers remained on the dharna, the whole night, in spite of the cold weather. The gathering was addressed by leaders till past midnight.

A community kitchen, by farmers of the surrounding villages, served tea and food.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the BKU, and other speakers criticised the Punjab Government. They said in spite of promises made by ministers, last year on September 24, the government had failed to make the payment.


Two arrested for granthi’s murder
Tribune News Service

Samana, January 9
The murder case of a gurdwara’s granthi in Shutrana village near here has been solved with the arrest of two young men of the village who the police claimed, had murdered the granthi to take away his mare.

Samana Deputy Superintendent of Police Jaspreet Singh Sidhu disclosed that the murder of the granthi Tarlochan Singh alias Bhullar took place on January 1. Body of the granthi was found in a decomposed state in a room of village gurdwara.

The DSP said investigation revealed that the victim’s mare was missing and two young men of the village were not in the village since the murder of Tarlochan.

He said certain persons reportedly saw two men with a horse in Haryana following which the police arrested them. He said the accused had been identified as Avtar Singh and Rampat.


Smack seized, three arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 9
The district police has arrested three persons for the smuggling of narcotics and seized 125 gm of smack and 320 kg of poppy husk worth Rs 5 lakh from their possession.

Mr Paramjit Singh Gill, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said on a tip-off, the police arrested two persons for the smuggling of smack in the area. They were identified as Harbans of Qazi Mandal locality and Major Singh of New Dashmesh Nagar. The police seized 85 gm of smack worth Rs 2 lakh from their possession.

Meanwhile, the Goraya police laid a naka near Kot Grewal village and intercepted a truck. The search of the truck led to the seizure of 320 kg of poppy husk in nine bags and 40 gm of smack. The driver of the vehicle, Jasbir Singh of Jajja Khurd village, was arrested while four of his accomplices, identified as Shingara Singh, Gian, Pappu and Onkar Singh managed to escape.

A case under various sections of the NDPS Act has been registered.


Two booked for molesting artiste
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 9
The police has registered a case against Balbir Singh Shantpuri and Jagjit Singh Billu residents of Ropar for molesting Punjabi artiste, Suman Santi (23).

Earlier Santi had complained to the police alleging that a few days ago when she after performing at the Ambedkar Bhavan Ropar along with her fellow artiste Gurdev Singh Dhillon alias Bhajna Amli, came out of the bhavan the accused allegedly molested her. When her fellow artiste came to her rescue he was also beaten up by the accused, the complainant has alleged. The police said a seven-day notice had been issued to the accused following direction of a court here.


Poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 9
The police has seized seven bags of poppy husk and 8 kg of the same commodity from different persons in the district during the past week, besides recovering illicit liquor.

In a press note issued today, Mr S.K. Sharma, SSP, said at a routine naka on the Badal road near Gidderbaha yesterday, the police stopped a car being drive by Lachhman Singh of Gidderbaha. Gurjeet Singh of Malooka village was also sitting in the car. Lachhman Singh told the police that he was carrying five bags of poppy husk and Sewak Singh and Satnam Singh both residents of Kesarwala in Bathinda district, were also in the car, but they had fled.

At another naka, the police seized two bags of poppy husk from Ranjeet Singh.

The police has also seized 8 kg of poppy husk from Bal Amrit Singh and Sarbjeet Singh of Loolbai village.

All accused have been booked under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act in separate cases.

In another case, 6750 ml of illicit liquor has been seized from Baljit Singh of Husnar village and the same quantity of illicit liquor seized from Sukhdev Singh of Ghagga village.

Sukha Singh of Karaiwala has been booked for running an illegal distillery and possessing 3180 ml of illicit liquor and 15 kg lahan. Separate cases have been registered against them.


Paddy scam: 1 more arrested
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 9
The Budhlada police arrested Rajinder Kumar, a local resident and partner of Gupta Rice Mills, Budhlada, for fabricating false documents and misappropriating 11947.34 quintals belonging to the Food and Supplies Department and produced him before the court of Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate, (First Class), yesterday. He was remanded in the custody.

The case was registered by the Budhlada police at the instance of District Food and Supply Controller (DFSC), Mansa.

According to the FIR Makhan Singh, a resident of Bhikhi who is also accused in the case, had committed offense in connivance with employees of the DFSC office. The other accused Kuldeep Singh, partner, Gupta Rice Mills, Budhlada is already in judicial custody.


Varsity may do away with reservation in promotions
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 9
Punjabi University is set to abolish reservation for Scheduled Caste candidates in promotions as well as demote seven Senior Assistants who were promoted by the former Vice-Chancellor, Dr JS Ahluwalia.

The varsity management has made out an agenda item for discussion at its Syndicate meeting tomorrow which favours abolition of the reservation criterion in promotions for Scheduled Caste candidates. It has made out a case of following the criterion used by both Panjab University, Chandigarh and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and not the government policy as was being done till now.

The agenda, a copy of which was procured by TNS, states that there is resentment among general category employees on the issue and that they have also submitted an application to the Vice-Chancellor, Mr S. S. Boparai, asking him to do away with this policy. The agenda item also quotes the noting of the Vice-Chancellor on the application which says. “General category Senior Assistants are still in the same post even after 27 years of service while reserve category candidates in the same cadre have become Senior Assistants after five years of service”. The noting also states that the issue should be kept for discussion the next meeting of the Syndicate.

Meanwhile, sources said university had adopted the reservation policy according to the state government norms in 1970 following which the policy was adopted for promotions also in 1971. While earlier the university had reserved 20 per cent seats for Scheduled Castes and two per cent for Backward Castes, it increased the reservation for SCs to 25 per cent and that of BCs to five per cent in 1974. Subsequently, the reservation for BCs was abolished in 1998.

If the varsity makes amendments in its rules seven SC employees who were promoted by Dr Ahluwalia will be demoted. Meanwhile, the SC and BC Union has condemned the proposed move.

The members have appealed to the Syndics not to allow any amendment of the policy which they claim is also being followed by the state government.


Students involved in anti-drug drive
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 9
A campaign has been launched against drug addiction and trafficking by the district police with the help of teachers, students and activists of various voluntary organisations, including rural youth clubs.

The district police has entrusted students with the task of motivating addicts to join the mainstream. Groups of students will also try to save their peers from falling prey to addiction.

Apart from functioning as a peer group, students and teachers will create awareness about the ill-effects of drugs and the traffic rules.

“The police has virtually launched a war against drug addiction and smuggling with the help of people known as ‘friends of the police’. The main of this campaign is to bring addicts back to the mainstream by deaddiction and cutting the supply”, said the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh.

He said a deaddiction centre was functioning on the premises of the local Civil Hospital, where addicts were being treated by a panel of doctors. A multi-pronged strategy has been evolved to tackle the menace of addiction and smuggling of drugs. Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City) has been assigned the duty to carry out the task, he said.

For motivating addicts to join the mainstream, lectures by experts and screening of films are being organised. Deaddiction camps are being organised in all pockets of the district.


Students of SAS Nagar shine
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 9
Teams from two schools in SAS Nagar won top positions in gatka on the second day of the annual state inter school competitions organised by the Punjab School Education Board at the Bal Bhavan, Sector 23, Chandigarh, today.

Presiding over the various competitions held today, the Principal Secretary, Education, Punjab, Mr K.K. Bhatnagar, appreciated the efforts of the students participating in the competitions.

Among today’s Gatka competitions, while Amrit Pal’s team from Government Senior Secondary School, Phase 3BI, SAS Nagar, won the first prize, Rajinder Singh and his team from Baba Banda Singh Bahadur High School, Mullianwal, Gurdaspur, won the second prize in the competition. Gurjit Kaur and her team from Sant Isher Singh Senior Secondary School, SAS Nagar won the third prize while Ram Das and his team from Miri Piri Academy, Amritsar came fourth.

In painting, Rajesh Kumar of Khalsa College Senior Secondary School, Amritsar won the first prize while Preeti of J.J. Senior Secondary School, Hoshiarpur came second. Parminder of Government Senior Secondary School, Sahiban, Nawanshahr was third.

In the one-act plays, Simarjit Kaur from Major Ajaib Singh Sr. Sec. School, Jiwanwalla, Faridkot, got the first prize while Shalini Kaur of Govt. Sr. Sec. School, the Mall, Amritsar came second and Harvinder Singh of Government Middle School, Dod, Jaiton Faridkot came third.


Protesters refuse medical aid
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 9
They are a set of “unique” patients doctors at General Hospital as instead of seeking the attention of medical staff, they have refused to accept any treatment or medication, even if it costs them their life.

Inspite of this, taking care of these patients is of paramount importance to the doctors, as they are members of the Terminated Punjab Panchayat Secretaries Union and the Punjab BEd Unemployed Teachers Union, whose condition according to the doctors is deteriorating. They had to be hospitalised as they have been observing indefinite fast for their demands.

The doctors are monitoring the condition of the panchayat secretaries. Despite warning that their condition could deteriorate, they have refused to take drip.

The condition of four Punjab BEd Unemployed Teachers Union members is no better.

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