Friday, January 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ram temple: Dharam Sansad from Feb 22
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 16
Mr Ras Bihari, Regional Organising Secretary, North Zone, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, today told reporters at the residence of Mr Kailash Gupta, District President, VHP, that the 11th Dharam Sansad for building Ram Temple at Ayodhya would be held at New Delhi from February 22 to 24. The Centre should hand over Ram Janmabhoomi Complex to the Ram Janmabhoomi Nyas said the VHP stalwart. The decision to hold the Dharam Sansad was taken by a three-member panel of saints headed by Mahant Awaid Nath on December 20 and also by the VHP Governing Body Council meeting last year, informed Mr Ras Bihari. A three-point programme was being implemented under the second phase for “mandir nirman”, he said. Name of Rama would be recited daily in every house of Hindus under the first phase to be followed by weekly “Ramnaam sankirtan” and a yajna, he disclosed. Non-Hindus can recite their own hymns at the prayer of temple construction, he said.

He demanded out-of-court settlement of the temple issue. The Centre should solve it through an act of Parliament as the issue of the Somnath temple and the Shahbano case were resolved, he said. Temple was a matter of “astha” (faith) and not the law, he quipped. It would be solved by Hindu samaj, he claimed. The court procedure was so tardy that out of 110 witnesses, only 10 had given witness so far, he alleged.

He demanded that both Punjab and Himachal Pradesh governments should enact an anti-conversion law on the pattern of Tamil Nadu government. The anti-terrorism Act should be implemented strictly, he continued. He alleged that Christians and Muslims were forcing conversions to reduce Hindu population. The migration of Muslims from J&K should be banned in Himachal and Punjab, he demanded. He also decried government control of temples in Himachal and demanded that temples be run by trusts. He also condemned Gujarat CM Narendra Modi placing his cut out with idol of Lord Krishna during electioneering to give an impression as if he was incarnation of the Lord.

On Himachal Assembly polls, Mr Ras Bihari declared that the VHP would support protagonists of Hindutva. When asked to specify, he added that those who would protect Hindu rights would get our support.


7 die as jeep falls into canal
Tribune News Service

Lambi (Muktsar), January 16
At least seven occupants of a jeep, including three of a family, died when the vehicle in which they were going from their village Chunnu in the district to Muktsar town to pay obeisance at Gurdwara Tutti Gandhi Sahib on the occasion of Maghi Mela fell into the Sirhind feeder canal near here this afternoon.

The other light occupants of the jeep were rescued by a section of the employees of the state Forest Department from drowing. The employees of the department, who were holding a meeting on the canal bank, jumped into the canal after seeing the jeep falling into it. Braving all odds and biting cold water, they rescued eight persons from the canal. However, two women saved by them died after they were taken out of the canal.

Those killed included Dr Balwant Singh (46), a medical practitioner, his daughter Gagandeep Kaur (17), his son Charan (8) Parminder Kaur, a nurse, her two sons Rinku (8) and Monu (7) Sukhdeep Kaur (25) wife of Mr Nikka Singh. The bodies of Gangandeep Kaur and Parminder Kaur were taken out from the canal while the divers were summoned from Bathinda and other places to take out the other five bodies. the jeep was also pulled out of the canal.

Those who were saved by the employees of the Forest Department included Gurpreet Singh, who was driving the jeep, Devinder Kaur, wife of Dr Balwant Singh, Veerpal Kaur, a kin of Dr Balwant Singh, Sonu, Ramandeep Kaur, wife of Gurpreet Singh, and Gurvinder.

Information gathered by TNS from the spot revealed that the jeep developed some mechanical fault at about a distance of 5 km from where it started and its tie rod opened and it fell into the canal after the driver lost control over it. There were 13 persons in the jeep, which was in a bad shape. The incident took place at about 1.40 pm.

It is learnt that after residents of a nearby village came to know about the incident, they reached the scene with equipment to take out people from the canal. By late evening, they only managed to pull out the jeep as the enveloping darkness hampered their operation to take out bodies with an iron rods net.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, ADC, who along with the SP, Mr A.S. Waraich, reached the scene told TNS that divers had been summoned from Bathinda and the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, had also been requested to send the divers so that bodies of other persons could be taken out. He added that divers would start their operation tomorrow morning, though floodlights had been arranged on the bank of the canal.

He said the persons who were saved by the employees of Forest Department were out of danger. The bodies of two women had been sent to the Civil Hospital, Malout.

Mr Waraich said a case under Section 174 of CrPC had been registered.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom has descended in the sleepy Chunnu village after the tragedy. Former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also visited the scene and supported the people in the rescue operation.


Discrepancies in Kakkar hospital records: IG
Tribune News Service and PTI

Jalandhar, January 16
The Head of the Special Investigation team probing the kidney scandal and IG-Jalandhar Range S.K. Sharma today revealed that many discrepancies had been noticed in the record seized from Kakkar hospital.

“In the record some of entries regarding donor were changed from reported death to discharge and vice versa and we are inquiring that in case of death of donors, to whom body was handed over, if not, whether the body was handed over to the police or not” Mr Sharma told PTI here today.

Even entries in the register, do not match with the affidavits filed by the donors, he said adding that more than 70 per cent of the donors and recipients were from outside Punjab.

Without ruling out the kidney transplant operation of any prominent personality in the Kakkar hospital, Mr Sharma said that since the record contained entries of last two years. It would take time to reach any conclusion in this regard.

Amritsar (TNS): The Special Investigation Team (SIT) on Thursday obtained two days’ police remand for Dr O.P. Mahajan, Principal of Government Medical College, arrested in connection with the kidney racket.

Mr S.K. Sharma, IG (Jalandhar zone), said the remand of Dr Mahajan was extended on the plea that he was not cooperating with the SIT, which had still to recover more documents pertaining to the illegal trade of kidneys. He said a perusal of the register recovered from the local Ram Saran Kakkar Hospital had revealed startling facts about the scam. Giving details, Mr Sharma said one donor who had died and cremated as ‘unclaimed’ was shown ‘discharged’ from the hospital. He said the SIT had launched a manhunt to arrest the recipient, who was at large.

Doctors and paramedical staff today blocked traffic and paralysed health services for the fourth consecutive day in protest against the arrest of two doctors. The CPI and trade unions threatened to organise a parallel protest rally tomorrow when Dr P.K. Sareen, kidney transplant surgeon, would be produced in court.

In a communication to the Chief Minister, Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, sought the immediate transfer of the SSP of Amritsar for allegedly giving a clean chit to the culprits by giving a statement that no doctor was found involved in the racket during the preliminary inquiry. Mr Dang said it was surprising that the SSP had instructed police officials not to give statements with a view to stop the investigating officer to throw more light on the kidney scam. Mr Dang also sought the immediate resignation of Mr R.C. Dogra as Health Minister for allegedly shielding the main accused in the kidney scam.


Kidney scam: docs’ arrests flayed
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, January 16
The executive committee of local branch of the Indian Medical Association had unanimously flayed the arrests of senior doctors of the state in connection with an alleged kidney racket, according to a press note issued today by Dr Karamjit Singh Bamrah, President of the local unit of the IMA. The “pick-and-choose policy” adopted by the special investigation team of the Punjab police in effecting arrests drew a flak at a meeting of the local unit of the IMA. It was demanded at the meeting that either the CBI or a sitting high court Judge should probe the racket so that all those involved should be brought to book. While senior doctors were being made scapegoats, others were being spared, it was alleged at the meeting.

GURDASPUR: An emergency meeting of the PCMS Association was held here on Thursday which condemned the “abrupt” arrest of Dr O.P. Mahajan and Dr P.K. Sareen for their alleged involvement in the kidney scam at Amritsar. They demanded a high-level inquiry to ascertain the truth.

TARN TARAN: The local units of the Indian Medical Association and the PCMS Association organised a joint meeting on Thursday at the local Civil Hospital against the arrest of Dr O.P. Mahajan and Dr Parveen Kumar Sareen by the Amritsar police.

The meeting was addressed by Dr Kashmir Singh Sohal and others who condemned the arrest of the doctors and claimed that these doctors have only done their job according to the norms set by the government from time to time. The office-bearers of the associations warned that if the doctors were not released immediately, they could go on a strike.


Kidney scam: SIT member under cloud
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City) here, a member of the Special Investigating Team (SIT) came under a cloud after the PHRO, in its report, said that the said SP had misreported the arrests of donors and brokers in the kidney sale racket. They actually were arrested from ‘various places’ on September 9, 2002.

The report says that the SP had cooked a story that they were arrested while they were at a meeting in Gol Bagh.

The report alleged that soon after the SP, was said to have interacted with the Press and subsequent reports in the media due to the SP’s public disclosures, served to ‘caution’ the absconding culprits in the case.

However, Mr Vijay Partap refuted the allegations and said the PHRO had concocted the story. He said the allegations were baseless.


‘Ban on filling posts may go’
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 16
The PCMS Association today claimed that the state government had agreed to lift the ban on filling of posts of medical teachers in the state medical colleges.

In a statement here, senior PCMSA leader, Dr D.C. Sharma, IMA, in-service wing chairman, Dr D.S. Bhullar and PCMSA finance secretary, Dr Vijay Kumar said a delegation of the association had met the Health Minister, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, at Chandigarh recently and apprised him of the shortage of teachers in the medical colleges.

The leaders claimed that the minister directed the authorities concerned to process the appointment of lecturers to be appointed by transfer from the PCMS cadre on the basis of seniority cum merit and prepare a memorandum for the cabinet to get the ban on filling of posts lifted.

The PCMSA leader said due to shortage of teachers, medical services in some departments of state medical colleges were virtually being run by PCMS doctors. They said if inspection of all the three medical colleges in the state was done simultaneously, a number of specialties may be de-recognised for shortage of teachers. They said due to shortage of senior staff members, the MCI had already stopped admissions to the post-graduate courses in ophthalmology in one of state medical colleges.

Speaking about Government Medical College, Patiala, they said out of total 248 sanctioned posts of medical teachers, 70 were lying vacant, which included five of professors, 12 of assistant professors, 19 of senior lecturers, 11 of lecturers and 23 of senior residents. They said the situation might worsen as about 30 teachers were retiring by June this year.

The leaders resented the fact that though a large number of PCMS doctors had applied two years back for medical teachers, but the posts remained unfilled till date.


2 teachers suspended in sexual harassment case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 16
The Punjab Education Department today suspended two local physical education teachers, including one who had been charged with sexual harassment, and transferred two others after the receipt of a report from a four-member committee headed by the Deputy Director.

According to information, the department suspended Mr Kulraj Singh Gill and Ms Kulwant Kaur, besides transferring Mr Jagroop Singh and Ms Prabhsharan Kaur. The action was taken following the submission of a complaint by a second-year college student of MA physical education, Rajni Thakur, who had alleged that she had been subjected to intense sexual harassment by Mr Gill. The girl had complained that Ms Kulwant Kaur, to whom she had complained in this regard, had asked her to succumb to the desires of Mr Gill. The two teachers transferred belong to the anti-Gill group. The move is aimed at ending the intense factionalism among teachers, sources said.

Students of the college are apparently not satisfied at the action taken. The students continued to boycott classes and today held a rally on the college premises demanding the transfer of the college Principal, Ms Indu Sarwal. The students alleged that the Principal had sheltered the accused teacher and had not taken any action against him despite complaints.

The students, who held a dharna in collaboration with the Punjabi University Students Confederation, also demanded that action be taken against other teachers who had sheltered Mr Gill and had threatened the students against complaining against the teacher. Confederation convener Gurnam Singh Virk demanded that the DPI should hold an inquiry into the role of the Principal and other teachers of the college.

Addressing the rally, student leaders said both Mr Gill and Ms Kulwant Kaur should be barred from serving at the college in future in case their suspension was revoked. They said if the teachers were able to come back to the college, they would resort to revenge, which would harm the academic atmosphere.

Students also demanded that changes be brought about in the examination system. They said 50 per cent marks were based on practicals. They said this issue was being exploited by a few teachers, causing harassment to girl students. The students demanded that Punjabi University, to which the college was affiliated, should send a committee to examine the performance of the students and allot them marks accordingly. They said assessment of students by outside examiners would end the hold of the local teachers over the students.

The students claimed that more students were ready to complain against Mr Gill and that they should also be allowed to put forward their cases. They said the case of harassment meted out to another student, Sukhjit Chahal, by Mr Gill should be investigated separately. Sukhjit had submitted an application against Mr Gill to the four-member committee, consisting of Deputy Director Chattar Singh Virk and college Principals R.K. Sharma from Mohindra College, Kanwarjit Singh from the Government College of Education and Ms Gursharan Kaur Jaggi from Government Girls College, when the committee had come to verify the complaint of Rajni Thakur to DPI Colleges Nisha Sharad.


PSERC takes up PSEB tariff revision petition
Sarabjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January, 16
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has started the process of inviting objections on the tariff revision petition for 2003-04 filed by the PSEB.

The PSEB has appealed to the PSERC to allow it to mop up Rs 1862 crore by revising the power tariff for next financial year. The board authorities have projected its loss at Rs 1401 crore for the current financial year as against the previous year’s loss of Rs 800 crore.

Subsidy details sought

The PSERC has asked the Punjab Government to supply it the details of the subsidy given to the PSEB for providing power to the agricultural sector. The PSEB has also been asked to supply details of the subsidy received from the government. In fact, the government is only to provide about Rs 200 crore in hard cash out of the total subsidy of Rs 950 crore to be paid to the PSEB. The remaining amount is to be adjusted against the interest on the loans given by the government to the PSEB and electricity duty to be paid to the government by the board.

However, the PSEB has not sought to recover the loss through tariff revision as the board wanted to adjust it in due course. The board has cited several reasons, including drought, less generation of power from hydel power generation sources and diversion of power supply from the paying sector (Industry) to the non-paying sector (Agriculture) etc, for the higher loss.

Official sources told The Tribune today that the PSEB authorities had been asked to issue a public notice in newspapers inviting objections. The PSEB had also been directed to keep copies of the petition in the offices of Superintending Engineers and other senior officers posted in the field. Copies of the petition should be shown to people on demand. The petition is also expected to be put on the PSERC and PSEB websites.

Mrs Ajanta Dayalan, Secretary of the PSERC said: “We have started the process to consider the tariff revision petition. Public hearings in this connection are expected to start in the first week of March as one-month notice is mandatory for inviting objections. Objections would be sent to the PSEB for comments.

The PSERC revised the power tariff in August last year in the range varying between 8 and 13 per cent.


Politicians blamed for PSEB losses
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 16
Engineers today said that the Punjab State Electricity Board could be improved if politicians stopped concessions and did not patronise power thieves for political gains.

Contesting statements of some Congress MLAs that inefficiency of employees was to blame for poor state of the PSEB, the engineers said that it was due to giving free of cost power to farm sector, subsidised power to a section of society and patronage to power thieves that the board was in debt.

Mr Baldev Singh Sra, Organising Secretary of the PSEB Engineers Association, in a written statement, said today that in place of Electricity Reform Bill, political will, was needed so that the employees could work without pressure. He said that if the government wanted the PSEB to be a profit-making body, political interference should be ended.

Giving figures Mr Sra said that from February 1997 to March 2002 nearly 26657 million units were supplied to the farm sector.

As the farm sector was not billed for the power supplied the board had to bear loss of Rs 8000 crore he added.

He lamented that the Punjab government did not pay the promised Rs 226 crore per annum to the PSEB for the free of cost power supplied to the farm sector. He said that the board had to borrow Rs 5000 crore from financial institutions to cover operational losses.

When the experiments to privatise state electricity boards in other states had failed, how it would be successful in Punjab,” asked Mr Sra adding, that the state government was not learning from experiences of other states. He said privatisation in Delhi had shown that public money was siphoned off by industrial houses. He claimed that the government owned company in Delhi was purchasing power from generating units at higher rates and was selling it at lower rates to private companies, for distribution.

On the power losses, Mr Sra claimed that such losses were only 26 per cent in Punjab, while these were between 45 to 50 per cent in many other states. He quoted reports of the regulatory commissions of different states to drive home his point. Out of these losses in Punjab, only 7 to 8 per cent were due to power theft, while the rest was due to technical reasons.

Mr Sra said that the employees of the PSEB were blamed unnecessarily for power theft. He alleged that it was the failure of law enforcing agencies that no Fir was registered in most of the cases of power theft, although it was a cognisable offence.

He said that the government should ensure the registration of FIRs whenever a case of power theft was detected.

He claimed that the association had urged the government many times to set up separate police stations to deal with such cases.

He alleged that although the Haldia committee favoured the formation of government-controlled corporations for looking after different wings like power generation, transmission and distribution, the ultimate aim of the government was to privatise the PSEB, as hinted at by some Congress MLAs.


9 Bangladeshis arrested
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 16
BSF jawans last night nabbed nine Bangladeshis, including three minors, in the Khemkaran area while they were trying to cross over into Pakistan.

The accused were identified as Mohammad Bayal (20), Mohammad Akhattar (35), Mohammad Syeffal Islam (25), Mohammad Viraj (22), Mohammad Alam (18), Mohammad Mustaba (25), Mohammad Ali (13), Noor Ali (2) and Mohammad Vilas (15). A case under Sections 3, 34 and 20 of the IPC, had been registered.


Middle exams from Feb 14
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, January 16
The middle standard examinations to be conducted by the Punjab School Education Board will begin from February 14. The written examinations according to a press note issued by the board will be conducted from 10 am to 1 pm.


Cong’s recruitment drive
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 16
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) today launched its first computerised recruitment drive here today by honouring 21 veteran office-bearers and former district Congress chiefs.

The drive, which was launched by PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh, would last for two months. The party was expecting to recruit about 75,000 to one lakh workers from Jalandhar.

Mr Parminder Singh, in charge of party affairs in Jalandhar district, said the drive was the first of its kind in the state, particularly as resumes and details of each worker would be stored in a computer. He said it was for the first time that such measures were being taken by any party to ensure genuineness of workers and their antecedents.

Dr Lekh Raj, the first president of the DCC (Urban), who was honoured on this occasion, said he was happy to note that veteran Congressmen were being taken along by the younger lot. “It is for the first time that such a step has been taken and I hope it will send a positive message to veteran Congressmen,” he said.

Mr Kailash Khanna, another veteran Congressman and general secretary of the DCC, said the step would give a boost to old Congressmen. According to Mr Tejinder Bittu, president of the DCC (Urban), said emphasis would be on involving veteran Congressmen in the drive.


ISI still active in Punjab
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, January 16
If the number of recent infiltration bids are any indication, the ISI and anti-national agencies are trying to foment trouble in Punjab. According to highly placed sources in the BSF, five tunnels constructed by the ISI for trans-border smuggling of narcotics and ammunition have been detected and several bids to infiltrate into Indian territory have been foiled.

The first tunnel was discovered by the BSF on March 12, 1997, when it was clearing ‘sirkanda’ ahead of the border fencing in the Channa area. It was around 166 feet long 72 feet towards the Pakistani side.

The second tunnel was detected on January 23, 1998, on the basis of information supplied by the G branch in the Channa area. It was around 182 feet long, 155 feet towards the Pakistani side.

Pakistani elements were unable to complete the construction of the tunnel in this area and shifted their area of operation to the north. They attempted to construct the third tunnel near Kamalpur.

This tunnel had originated form the Pakistani side as the BSF had cleared ‘sirkanda’ on the Indian side of the international border. This tunnel was 200 metres long, 20 metres short of the cobra fencing. This tunnel was the biggest and perhaps, the handiwork of some experts in the construction of tunnels.

The fourth tunnel was detected on March 1, 2001, in the Chountra area. The information about this tunnel was given by a farmer, Swaran Dass, who noticed some suspicious movement while he was working in the fields. This tunnel was around 135 yards long, with the border just 15 yards from the fencing. Pakistani agents, in order to keep this tunnel under the veil of secrecy, had not removed the ‘sirkanda’ on their side.

These and many more attempts to dig tunnels near the international border confirm that despite an end to insurgency in Punjab, the ISI is desperate to push arms, ammunition and agents into Indian territory. In 1998-99, nine persons were killed while attempting to cross over the Indian side. In 1999-2000, 10 persons met the same fate.

In 2000-2001, 47 intruders, out of which 42 were Pakistani and Bangladeshi nationals, were gunned down by the BSF. In 2001-2002, BSF troops shot 32 intruders, including 27 Pakistani nationals. This year, two Pakistani intruders have been killed so far.

Others have been arrested while trying to sneak into Indian territory. At times, the ISI may have succeeded in its attempts to send agents into Indian territory.

The BSF Inspector-General, S.N. Jain said to put brakes on cross-border smuggling and to foil intrusion bids, the BSF was in process of procuring sophisticated ground sensor equipment. About the spurt in cross-border smuggling, he said most of the smugglers had shifted their base to the Rajasthan border due to the installation of cobra fencing along the Punjab border.

There still were a few left, who with the help of the ISI and other agencies operating from within and across the border, were trying to carry out their sinister designs. BSF officials said the jawans were discharging their duties under stress, but their morale was high.

The BSF had launched a special search operation along the entire 553-km international border to check and thwart any conspiracy of Pakistan to construct a tunnel across the border for infiltration. BSF officers and jawans would maintain strict vigil along the border.


Hasty shifting may damage archival records
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 16
The fate of archival records of eight princely states housed at present in the ‘Rajindra Kothi’ built by Maharaja Rajinder Singh in the heart of the Baradari gardens has been jeopardised with the files being dumped in a hall in the building of the State Language Department here on the directions of the district administration.

This is due to the fact that the administration wants to hold an exhibition in the vintage building during the heritage festival scheduled for February.

Earlier the Patiala Development Authority (PDA) had taken a decision to shift the archival records to the Language Department building as a temporary measure until a separate building for the State Archives could be built in Punjabi University. The district administration had asked the archive staff to vacate the seven rooms which formed the front of the building for the exhibition within two weeks so that it could carry out renovation work ahead of the festival.

The shifting of the archival records started some days back but was disrupted due to a few holidays coming in between. While earlier the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), which is to later utilise the ‘Rajindra Kothi’ as a heritage hotel, had taken the responsibility of shifting the records, now the records were being shifted by the archives’ staff itself.

However shifting the records was easier said then done. The archives staff was faced with the task of transferring thousands of bundles of files and 35,000 books and a large number of manuscripts. It had been saddled with the job of transferring all this in only one large hall of the Language Department which had been provided for the purpose.

Transferring archival records in bundles and files from only one hall in the Archives building was set to fill the new accommodation. But the transfer of this record itself had led to chaos in the Language Department with folds of papers escaping out of files. This was because a large number of bundles and files had been taken to the new building without installing the metal racks on which they were to be placed. Archival Department workmen said the racks could not be fitted properly due to the lack of professional workmen and that the files had therefore been kept on the ground.

The workmen themselves admitted that it would be difficult to arrange documents which had been strewn out of the files. For the staff of the Archives Department, rearranging the entire records may be a nightmare. One staff member told TNS that it had taken nearly 33 years to arrange the entire records of the Patiala, Nabha, Jind, Malerkotla, Kapurthala, Faridkot, Kalsian and Nalagarh states in proper order. Most of the staff felt the record should have been transferred en bloc only to the proposed new building for the department which they said still existed only on paper.

Besides the problems in shifting the records, department sources said this was also not the right month to shift the records to the new building. They said there was a danger of termites infesting the paper due to the high moisture content to which the papers were being exposed. “This is the time of the year when we do not even open the rooms in which rare records are kept”, they said, adding the new building even had broken window panes which had not been attended to before shifting the records. Most staff members said lifting and transferring of the entire records could take as long as one year, adding the present shifting was ‘dhakkashahi’.

Meanwhile, the purpose of the district administration may not still be solved as the space given to the Archives Department in the Language Department was woefully short of its requirement. Department Assistant Archivist Shamshad Ali Khan, when contacted, said the records in the seven front rooms in the ‘Rajindra Kothi,’ would not fit in the new hall given to the department. He said one room in the Archives building had been cleared and that further shifting of records from the other rooms would take place if more space was provided. He said some files had been damaged because PUDA workers had not handled them properly and that now the records were being handled only by Archive staff.

Meanwhile, there was confusion on where the staff of the department would sit besides storing of the record. The Language Department authorities have already gone on record to say they did not have any more extra space to give to the Archives Department.


MC draws blank on development plans
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 16
Even as Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh has announced that ‘dynamic development activity’ will commence this year and Education Minister Khushal Behl, has declared 2003 as the year of development, ground realities belie promises.

The agenda of the municipal corporation meeting, scheduled for January 17, draws a blank as far as new estimates for development in the holy city are concerned. It attempts to highlight the civic body’s rising expenses. The civic body hopes to get Rs 22.50 crore in devolution of taxes and reimbursements for losses due to abolition of octroi from April last for nearly four months.

Outlining pending payments, the agenda seeks extension of the overdraft limit from Rs 3 crore to Rs 4 crore from the Oriental Bank of Commerce.

It states that the corporation is availing itself of overdraft of Rs 2.30 crore to meet its running cost such as salaries, expenses of petrol or diesel and electricity bills.

Dues include Rs 11.75 crore to contractors for different works undertaken from May, 2001, to 2002. Bills for running tubewells, disposal plans and streetlights etc amount to Rs 2.69 crore.

The contribution to pensions is Rs 1.34 crore. Audit fees and election charges are Rs 35 lakh.

The corporation has failed to make its own contribution to three water and sewerage projects.

There is also a pending payment of more than Rs 11 crore as 20 per cent contribution in the water supply and sewerage project.

Secondary proposals for the House meeting include taking councillors into confidence for the anti-encroachment drive. Other items include extension of contracts of Class IV employees and premature retirement of certain employees.


Fog hits fruit trees, crops
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 16
The persistent fog covering the region for the past 15 days is causing damage to fruit trees and other crops.

As per the information collected by this correspondent from various departments linked with agriculture the continuing fog has started showing its impact on various crops.

The authorities in the horticulture department of the district said the fog had an adverse impact on the new plantation. During the last monsoons about 230 acres were brought under the cultivation of fruit plants in the district. The saplings had been damaged extensively due to the fog.

Besides fruit plants, the potato crop and the cucurbit vegetables have been damaged due to the fog. Due to foggy conditions blight has also hit the potato crop in the district.

The agriculture authorities in the district have received reports of damage to wheat due to fog. The Chief Agriculture Officer, Mr Gurdial Singh, when contacted said the farmers had reported the yellowing of tips of the PBW-343 variety of wheat.

If the foggy conditions continued to persist for another fortnight, the yield of the wheat might reduce considerably. The fog was also retarding the impact of the weedicides being sprayed by farmers on wheat. It might also ultimately reduce the yield of wheat, he said.

The Chief Agriculture Officer, however, added that the foggy climate was good for the maize crop in the kandi areas.


PPSC scam: CBI seeks dismissal of plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Adding a twist to the controversy regarding the probe being conducted into the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam, the CBI today sought the dismissal of a petition seeking its intervention in the matter after claiming that the case had no inter-state ramifications.

In a reply submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, CBI’s Superintendent of Police claimed on the premier investigating agency’s behalf that “the cases relating to the PPSC, under investigation by the Punjab State Vigilance Bureau, had no inter-state ramifications. Moreover, neither any Central Government employee, nor the funds of the Central Government, were involved in any manner in the scam”.

He added that “CBI’s resources are already over-stretched in the investigation of corruption cases and other special crime cases, including the ones entrusted by the high courts and the Supreme Court”.

The petition, he concluded, contained no grounds for the issuance of a writ of mandamus directing the Punjab Government to hand over the investigation in the PPSC scam cases to the CBI and it would be in the interests of justice if the petition was dismissed qua them.

In his petition, high court advocate Rupinder Khosla had earlier accused the government of being involved in “operation coverup”, instead of revealing the truth in the PPSC recruitment scam.

Mr Khosla had claimed that the transfer of officers belonging to the intelligence wing in the middle of the investigations “may have been done to thwart the probe”. Giving details, he had asserted: “So far as the strategy of emasculating the intelligence wing was concerned, the coup de grace was delivered when its head, the Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence), Mr A.P. Bhatnagar, along with three colleagues, was unceremoniously shunted out”.

CBI at liberty to file report

In just over six years after the Punjab and Haryana High Court took serious note of a news item appearing in The Tribune on huge amounts of industrial subsidy being siphoned off to ghost units, a Division Bench has ruled that the CBI would be “at liberty to file a report under Section 173, CrPC, before the appropriate court”.

Disposing of the petition, the Bench observed: “Pursuant to an earlier command issued by the court, the CBI had submitted its report in regard to the scandal. The government has accepted the report and after accepting it, charge-sheeted the government servants in question except two against whom also we are being informed by Punjab’s senior Deputy Advocate-General that the government has taken a decision to charge-sheet the remaining two officers”.

The judges added: “In view of the stand taken by the Punjab Government through its Deputy Advocate-General, no further order of this court is required to be passed. As prayed for by Mr Rajan Gupta, standing counsel for the CBI, the agency will be at liberty to file a report under Section 173, CrPC, before the appropriate court”.

Punjab’s Additional Secretary in the Department of Industries and Commerce, in an affidavit, had earlier stated that charge sheets had been issued to 10 officers. The CBI had initially claimed that subsidy had been paid to four non-existent industrial units. The payment was made on the basis of false and bogus bills showing the purchase of machinery, among other things. The agency had, thus, recommended the prosecution of “persons receiving the money on the basis of bogus bills”. As far as the officials processing the cases and permitting the payment were concerned, regular departmental action was recommended.

A copy of the report in The Tribune, published on May 13, 1996, had earlier been forwarded by retired Engineer-in-Chief K.B. Gupta. After going through it, the letter was ordered to be treated as a writ petition.

File fresh affidavit

Expressing dissatisfaction over an affidavit submitted by the state of Punjab in a case pertaining to the completion of the Ranjit Sagar Dam, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the filing of a fresh affidavit.

The directions were issued on a petition filed by the Punjab Services Anti-Corruption Council. The organisation had initially sought the initiation of contempt proceedings. It had claimed that despite an undertaking, the dam had not been completed.

Inquiry sought

In a petition filed before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Dr Paramjit Singh Ranu, a member of Central Council of Homoeopathy, has sought directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents to get an inquiry conducted through “some independent agency” into the “large-scale bungling” allegedly committed by a former chairman of the Council of Homoeopathic System of Medicines.

The bungling, the petitioner alleged, was committed in the examination of the DHMS and the BHMS in 1998 “wherein almost all the answer books and marks were manipulated”. The case will now come up for hearing on March 1.


Lawyers ‘desert’ Sidhu over non-payment
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 16
Lawyers representing former PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu have started deserting him, allegedly due to the non-payment of fee.

Today, for the second consecutive time, in the court of special judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, the counsel for Mr Sidhu failed to turn up to plead his case. On January 10, none of the lawyers appeared for Mr Sidhu. Mr Kathuria fixed January 29 as the next date for hearing in the case. Mr Sidhu had moved an application for the change of counsel.


Pakistan ‘forcing’ jailed Indians to adopt Islam
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 16
Punjabis languishing in the Baluchistan jail of Pakistan have alleged that the authorities were forcing them to adopt Islam.

In a communication to the International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society, some Punjabi youths have alleged that they were being subjected to inhuman treatment by the Pakistani authorities.

The imprisoned youths said they had written more than 50 letters to the Indian High Commission in Islamabad but to no avail.

In their letter to the society, these Punjabi youths, Gurmeet Singh, son of Teja Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib, Karam Singh, son of Pritam Singh of Moga, Amarjit Singh, son of Gian Chand of Hoshiarpur, and Gurnam Singh son of Gurbaksh Singh of Nawanshahr, have requested that they be shifted to Kot Lakhpat Jail in Lahore as it was difficult to sustain in the Baluchistan jail.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the society, told this correspondent that these Punjabi youths landed in Pakistani jails after being ditched by some travel agents of Kapurthala.

These youths were sent to Turkey where the Turk police arrested them and seized their passports, other documents and money. Then they were taken to the Iran border and told to run away into a jungle, failing which they would be shot.

As luck would have it, they were again arrested by the Iranian police and imprisoned for three days.

They were later handed over to the Pakistani Rangers. It was around two years ago. Since then, they are languishing in different Pakistani jails. Mr Bhullar said there were eight Punjabi youths in Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, 12 in a Kota jail and four in the Baluchistan jail.


Film on Hari Jaisingh today
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 16
“Kalam Seenche Sachh”, a half-an-hour documentary film on the life and works of Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor of The Tribune group of newspapers, will be telecast on the DD-1 (Regional Jalandhar) and DD Punjabi, the satellite channel of Doordarshan at 5:30 p.m. on Friday (January 17).

The film, produced by the Doordarshan Jalandhar, can be viewed in India and 42 Middle East and Asian countries on DD-Punjabi satellite channel, while it can also be simultaneously seen in Punjab, Chandigarh and parts of Haryana, Jammu and Himachal on DD-1 (Regional Jalandhar) with the help of antenna, according to Mr Ashok Jailkhani, Director of Doordarshan Kendra, Jalandhar.

The film has been produced and directed by Mr Daljit Sandhu.


DSP’s arrest stayed
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 16
The camp court of Mr Jaspal Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge (Class-I) here, today stayed the arrest of Mr Gurjit Singh, DSP, Sherpur, in Barnala police district, in a case registered against him and Inspector Chuhar Singh posted in the district. The case had been registered under Sections 302, 364 and 34 of the IPC at the Sadar police station here. Earlier the court of the Judicial Magistrate (Class-I) Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, here had issued a non-bailable warrant of arrest against the aforesaid police officials returnable for February 3, 2003.

The salary of both police officials had already been attached by the court of Ms Bhatia on December 21, 2002, as they failed to appear in court on December 2 and 21, 2002, despite the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The accused failed to appear in the court despite a non-bailable warrant of arrest on January 15, 2003. The case was registered against the police officials for allegedly murdering Gurmail Singh of Akkanwali village in the district after kidnapping him from Dullowal village on January 29, 1993, in the presence of villagers.

The father of the deceased moved the high court which entrusted the inquiry to the District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda, who indicted the police officials for abducting and murdering Gurmail Singh, upon which the high court ordered registration of a case.


Car dealer directed to compensate buyer
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 16
The District Consumer forum has directed M/s Swami Automobiles Ltd., Chandigarh, an authorised dealer of the Mahindra and Mahindra Ltd., to pay a compensation of Rs 1 lakh to Surinder Singh Shinda of Ball village in Anandpur Sahib district for not handing over the documents of the vehicle to him.

The complainant, Mr Shinda, in his plea before the Forum had alleged that he had purchased a Bolero GLX from M/s Swami Automobiles on December 26, 2001 for Rs 5,29,600.

He sold his old jeep to M/s Swami Automobiles for Rs 3.5 lakh and paid Rs 50,000 through draft and Rs 1 lakh by raising a loan. The dealer, however, did not handover the documents to Mr Shinda due to which he could not get the vehicle registered in his name. Instead of giving the papers, the dealer allegedly threatened him.

The Forum besides awarding the compensation directed the dealer to supply Mr Shinda the relevant papers to enable him to get the vehicle registered in his name. The complainant was also awarded Rs 2000 as litigation cost.


English in Punjabi life draws flak
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 16
English in Punjabi life drew flak from certain scholars on the second day of the 19th International Punjabi Development Seminar organised by the Department of Punjabi Development, Punjabi University here. Dr Joga Singh said English speaking Punjabis belonged to a distinct class.

Noted linguist Dr S.S. Joshi said globalisation could not answer the aspirations of the common man. Dr Harvinder Singh Bhatti and Dr Gurpreet Singh Lehal translation through computer. Mr Janmeja Singh Johal about word formation.

Dr Satinder Singh Noor presided over the second session. Dr Karnail Singh Thind said there was no arrangement for teaching Punjabi in Pakistani schools.


Flag hoisting at Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 16
Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, will unfurl the national flag at the local War Heroes Stadium on January 26 to mark the Republic Day celebrations.
Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, has asked the district officers to complete all arrangements well-in-time for the function.


Cold ‘claims’ labourer’s life
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 16
Gutta Mian, a labourer from Bihar working in Chatmla village near Morinda died allegedly due to cold. The labourer stayed at the tubewell shed of his employer for the whole night, the sources said. Today morning he complained of shivering and died before any medical aid could be given. His body was brought today to Ropar civil hospital for a postmortem examination. This is reportedly the second death in the district due to cold.


Multi-crop, multi-year scheme launched
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
Punjab Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh today launched multi-crop, multi-year contract farming as an alternative to paddy-wheat rotation. About three lakh acres will be covered under it during 2003-04. It is part of the government’s programme of diversification in agriculture.

Addressing a meeting of Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners here with regard to the implementation of the scheme , Capt Amarinder Singh said the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation (PAIC) had been assigned the task of diversification. It would provide seeds of high-yielding varieties, technical supervision and follow-up on agro-practices and would buy back the entire produce.

In the first phase crops such as spring maize on 11,000 acres sunflower on 13,500 acres, kharif maize on 1,05,500 acres, basmati on 15,000 acres, castor on 6,000 acres and guar on 5,000 acres will be sown.

The Chief Minister further said the predominance of wheat-paddy rotation since the Green Revolution had resulted in serious repercussions on the health of the soil. Attempts had been made to restructure the cropping pattern through diversification. Stress was now on less water intensive and more remunerative crops. Diversification of crops through contract farming was the only alternative available.

Mr Himmat Singh, Managing Director of PAIC, briefed officers about the details of the programme prepared by his organisation to implement the scheme.

Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chief Secretary, directed the Deputy Commissioners to review the implementation programme in their respective districts on weekly or fortnightly basis. Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, also attended the meeting.


12 Punjab officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 16
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfer of 12 officers. Dr Swarn Singh has been shifted to the Medical Education and Research Department as its Secretary. Mr H.I.S. Grewal has been posted as Special Secretary, Planning, in addition to being the Joint Development Commissioner of the IRD.

Mr Phulwant Singh Sidhu has been shifted to the Irrigation and Power Department as Special Secretary.

Mr Kulwant Singh has been sent to Mansa as Additional Deputy Commissioner and Mr Mohan Singh Banwait has been posted as Additional Secretary, Revenue. Mr Vinod Kumar Bhalla has been posted as Additional Secretary, Home, in addition to being the Director, Relief and Resettlement.

Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda has been posted as ADC (Development) at Bathinda. He will also hold charge as the Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, Bathinda. Mr Rajinder Pal Singh has been shifted to Bholath as SDM and Mr Ajmer Singh has been posted as DTO, Kapurthala.

Mr Harcharan Singh Sandhu has been posted as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Gurdaspur. Mr Deepak Raj Garg has been posted at Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Ferozepore, and Mr J.C. Sabharwal as SDM, Sardulgarh.


Holiday today
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 16
The Punjab government has announced a local holiday in Sangrur district on January 17 in memory of Kuka martyrs.

A communique faxed to the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, from the Personnel Department stated that there would be a local holiday in all government offices, Boards/ Corporations’ offices and educational institutions in Sangrur district on Friday in the memory of Kuka martyrs.


Hunters’ guide booked, dead sambar seized
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 16
The wildlife authorities have booked a suspected guide of hunters, Paramjit Singh Pamma of Boothgarh village in Nurpurbedi, and seized a dead sambar from his house.

Sources in the Forest Department said his aides in the village had agreed to reveal the names of the influential persons for whom they used to act as guides on hunting trips. Policemen and the rich come for hunting in the forest areas of Ropar. They hire local villagers as guides.

With the booking of Pamma, who along with his kin was the main guide for hunters in the area, the sources said forest officials were on the trail of some policemen from Jalandhar who hunted two sambars in the forest area of Kanpur Khuhi near Nurpurbedi on Tuesday.

Deputy Conservator of forests, Parveen Kumar, when contacted, , said department officials had received information about the presence of hunters in the Kanpur Khuhiarea at about 11 pm roads on Monday and they had put up nakas on various roads surrounding the forest.

At about 3a.m. a Zen (PB-08AJ-7576) passed a naka. They followed the car to the house of Mela Singh, at Boothgarh village. The hunters had unloaded a sambar when wildlife officials reached the spot. The hunters fled in the car, taking the second sambar with them.

The second killed sambar was seized from the house of Pamma. A case under the Wildlife Protection Act had been registered against Pamma, who was absconding. Forest Officials were also looking for the hunters who were accompanying the guide.


Woman held for duping people
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 16
The police has arrested Chhindo, resident of Malikpur, for duping people into giving her large sums of money for getting recruitment in the Army. Her husband Yashpal, alias Bhutto, is absconding.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, told mediapersons here today that Mr Gurcharan Singh and Mr Prem Kumar, residents of Sarna, under Sadar police station, Pathankot, had complained to the SHO that they had been cheated by Chhindo and Yashpal, who charged Rs 45,000 and Rs 20,000, respectively, from them on a promise that they would get their sons recruited in the Army.

He said the couple failed to honour the commitment and did not return their money. The SSP said during the preliminary interrogation Chhindo confessed to having received the amount. She even confessed to having received money from several other persons for the same reason.


One convicted for rash driving
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 16
Mr Ranjit Singh, Judicial Magistrate (First Class), here on Wednesday convicted Major Singh for rash and negligent driving and killing two persons for a term of one year and also imposed a fine of Rs 2000.

According to the prosecution, the accused who was driving a truck killed Ram Lal and Tarsem Lal near Malikpur on November 22, 2000 who were on scooter.

A complaint was lodged by Ashok Kumar with Police Station Sadar, Pathankot, and a case under Section 304-A of the IPC was registered against the accused.

In another case the Magistrate convicted Meraju, a resident of Bihar, for a term of one year and also slapped a fine of Rs 1000 on him for possessing a revolver and eight cartridges without valid permit and licence. The accused was arrested from the Azizpur area.

A case under the Arms Act was registered against the accused at Sadar Police Station.


Case registered against patwari
Our Correspondent

Nathana (Bathinda), January 16
The district police has registered a case against patwari, Sewak Singh and his two brothers Ranjit Singh and Surinder Singh in a land deal case.

The three were booked under various sections of the IPC as they had cheated Balkar Sidhu and his relatives.

Mr Sidhu and his relatives had lodged a complaint with the district police chief alleging that the suspects had sold them a piece of land with papers, parts of which were forged. The complainant had alleged that the area of the land sold to them was less by 3 kanals.

The inquiry revealed that the land sold to the complainant was less in area and some papers had been forged.


1 injured in hit-and-run case
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 16
A vehicle sped away after hitting a scooterist at the Barnala bypass road this morning. The injured scooterist was admitted to the Civil Hospital here by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Seva. He was later identified as Balraj Singh of Bhai Ka Wada village, Faridkot district.

Hospital sources said Balraj Singh had been responding to treatment and his relatives had been informed.

In another incidents, two persons including a woman, were referred to hospitals after they became unconscious due to biting cold. While an old woman, who is also mentally challenged, was admitted to the Civil Hospital, the other person was sent to a private hospital. The sources in the Civil Hospital said the condition of the woman was serious. The death toll due to the biting cold wave in the region has touched the figure 10 in this month alone, the sources added.


Work suffers at headless varsity
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 16
Work at the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFHUS) here is suffering following the failure of the Punjab Government to appoint its Vice-Chancellor for the past two weeks.

The varsity became headless after Dr J.S. Gujral relinquished the charge of the Vice-Chancellor after the completion of his three-year tenure.

According to reports, the board of management of the university apprised the government in the months of September and December of the impending completion of the tenure of Dr J.S. Gujral (retd). The matter was also brought to the notice of the Lt-Gen. Mr J.F. R. Jacob (retd), Punjab Governor and Chancellor of the university but still no action has been taken.

Dr P.S. Sandhu, Registrar, who has been given the additional charge, has however, asked the government to send him back to his parent institution of the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital as Head of the Eye Department. The university is also facing a shortage of funds.


Punjab to complete 12 ITI buildings
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 16
The Punjab Government has decided to complete the 12 incomplete buildings of industrial training institutes in the state, the Minister for Technical Education, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, said while talking to newsmen at Khizrabad village of Majri block, near here, today. He was in Khizrabad to inaugurate the building of industrial institute.

The minister alleged that the previous government neglected the technical education due to which unemployment rose in the state. Now the present government had decided to upgrade the facility in all technical institutes. He accused the previous government of misusing the funds for the improvement of technical education on the sangat darshan programme.

The Minister for Animal Husbandary, Dairy Development and Fisheries, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, said the government had decided to train unemployed youth in the rural areas in modern techniques.

On the occasion, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, MP, distributed cheques for Rs 45 lakh among 14 villages under various development projects.

The Additional Director, Technical Education, Mr B.S. Kapoor, former MLA, Mr Bhag Singh and presidents of the Morinda and Kurali municipal councils were, among others, present on the function.

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