Monday, January 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rs 10-cr embezzlement by sarpanches
Govt launches campaign to recover amount
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 19
An embezzlement of Rs 10 crore allegedly by sarpanches in 17 districts with official connivance and under political patronage in different funds given to them for development projects has been detected during the initial assessment done by the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats.

The Punjab Government has launched a campaign to recover the amount by getting criminal cases registered against the sarpanches and other officials involved in the crime. The District Rural Development authorities have also been directed to unveil more such embezzlements by carrying out verification of every work got done by the sapanches.

Official sources said about Rs 9 lakh had been recovered from the guilty sarpanches and a campaign was on to recover the remaining amount. The state government fears that the quantum of money embezzled by the sarpanches might run into many more crores.

A number of sarpanches had been suspended and some of them booked in criminal cases in the past six months. A number of officials of the Department of Rural Development and Panchayats have also been facing trial cases of corruption and embezzlement.

The Deputy Commissioners and Additional Deputy Commissioner (development) have been put on the job to recover the embezzled amount at the earliest from the guilty sarpanches. They have been given the details of embezzlement done by the sarpanches of villages falling in their respective areas,” said a senior functionary of the Punjab Government while talking to TNS on condition of anonymity. He added that the money recovered in this manner would diverted to ongoing development works in the state.

The recovery proceedings had been launched under Section 266 of the Panchayati Raj Act, 1994. The funds, which had been embezzled by the sarpanches, were given to them under the MP land scheme, sangat darshan scheme, and planned and non-planned schemes during the five years of the SAD-BJP alliance regime.

Official sources pointed out that inquiries were going on against 500 sarpanches against whom the state government had received complaints of serious allegations in connection with financial bunglings made in the use of funds allocated to them for development.

Meanwhile, a section of sarpanches, in a bid to avoid any legal action against them, have started depositing the amount found embezzled by them while using different funds for the developments works in their respective villages.

However, the state government has decided to take legal action against all those who have been found guilty of embezzlement of funds even though they have deposited the amount with the authorities concerned.


Ex-serviceman, sarpanch booked
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 19
An ex-serviceman and a female sarpanch have been booked by the police for allegedly committing a fraud under the Shagun Scheme.

According to information, Mr Sohan Lal, a resident of Danewala Satkosi village in the subdivision, had lodged a complaint with the Subdivisional Magistrate alleging that an ex-serviceman, Gurdev Singh, had managed to get a cheque for Rs 5,100 under the Shagun Scheme during SAD-BJP rule by submitting a false affidavit, claiming that his annual income was less than Rs 16,000.

Mr Sohan Lal alleged that the ex-serviceman was getting Rs 4,000 as monthly pension.

His false declaration had been verified by Binder Kaur, Sarpanch of the village.

The SDM had asked the Tehsildar to probe the matter.


Kidney donor alleges allurement
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

r Parveen Kumar Sareen, prime accused in the kidney scam, talks to mediapersons
Dr Parveen Kumar Sareen, prime accused in the kidney scam, talks to mediapersons in the court complex at Amritsar on Sunday. — Photo Rajiv Sharma

Amritsar, January 19
Even as four aides of Dr P. K. Sareen, prime accused in the kidney scam joined the investigations, a donor today accused the two doctors of luring him to donate the kidney. The donor, Mr Puran Singh (58), a Nihang, said that he could identify Dr Sareen and Dr Jain.

The four aides of Dr Sareen, Dr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, Dr Bhushan Aggarwal, Dr Rajinder Kaur and the manager of Kakkar Hospital, Mr Hardyal Mehta, today presented themselves before the special investigation team. Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City) and member of SIT, said that the aides of Dr Sareen had to join the investigation when notices were pasted outside their houses.

Meanwhile, Dr Sareen was sent to judicial custody by the Duty Magistrate this afternoon till January 31. The police had not sought additional remand.

Mr Puran Singh used to sell plastic toys on the roadside near Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh Shaheed. Dr Sareen and Dr Jain park their cars near his stall. He alleged that he was offered Rs 1 lakh for one kidney. He claimed that both the doctors assured him that he would remain physically fit even after donating his organ, he said he was never produced before the authorisation committee and all the papers were prepared by the doctors in the hospital itself. When asked he said he did not know who was the recipient of his kidney. However, he was given only Rs 20,000. On demanding the balance he was ‘thrown out’ from the hospital by the musclemen. He showed his discharge card of year 1998 when his kidney was removed.

The SIT team recorded his statement at its make-shift office, located in the Durgiana police chowki.


Kidney scam: Dang opposes CBI probe
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 19
Even as the Punjab Nurses Association has dissociated itself from the agitating doctors who have been protesting against the arrest of two doctors in the kidney racket, Mr Satya Pal Dang, a veteran CPI leader, yesterday opposed the demand of a CBI inquiry into the scam.

In a joint statement, Ms Jeewanjot Kaur and Ms Gurcharan Kaur, president and secretary of the association, respectively, sought the cancellation of the licences of doctors who were involved in the illegal kidney scam. They said the “guilty” doctors should be made to donate their kidneys for needy patients. Sounding a note of warning, the nurses association threatened to take legal action against those who were misusing the name of the Punjab Nurses Association for having taken part in the agitations against the arrests of doctors.

In a separate statement, Mr Dang strongly condemned the doctors fraternity and Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, for seeking a CBI inquiry into the scam while the special investigation team (SIT) had already got a breakthrough in the case. He said the CBI was no longer immune from political pressures and one could not expect better findings than SIT at the moment.

He said so long as Capt Amarinder Singh was the Chief Minister, he expected that something concrete would come out to break the nexus. While quoting the case of the sensational murder of Naresh Mahajan, a bank Manager, Mr Dang said the CBI had failed to resolve the case even as three investigating officers had been changed.


Kidney scam accused docs’ effigies burnt
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, January 19
Shiv Sena activists burned the effigies of two arrested doctors in the kidney scam — Dr P.K. Sareen and Dr O.P. Mahajan, head of the Authorisation Committee for kidney cases — at the Putlighar crossing here today.

Mr Chander Parkash Bawa and Mr Jugal Loomba, general secretary and press secretary of the sena, respectively in a Press note demanded the impounding of the practising licences and degrees of these doctors while calling for strict action for their “misdeeds”.

Decrying the strikes by doctors in support of the main accused in human organ racket, they said doctors were playing with human lives by ignoring their duty towards their profession.

Hailing the action by the police, the Shiv Sena called for a general appeal to doctors to help the law enforcing agencies dutifully perform their responsibilities.

RAMPURA PHUL: The local unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has condemned the arrest of doctors in the Amritsar kidney sale racket.

Dr Sat Pal Gupta, president of the unit, said the role of the doctors in this case was limited to saving the life of a dying patient.

He said that the doctors came into picture only for the transplant of the organ. Many other persons were involved in arranging the donors.


PPSC’s new ‘mantras’ for transparency
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 19
In an effort to rebuild its “scandal-ridden” image and to ensure “total transparency” in selections made by it in future, the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) has decided to revamp its examination system and to make it ‘‘foolproof’’ with the help of Information Technology.

The commission has also decided to learn some “mantras” from the Service Selection Board (East) to make the examination system “totally foolproof” and yet “fully transparent”, apart from engaging the services of some renowned psychiatrists for judging the moral values of a candidate during interviews.

In an exclusive chat with The Tribune, Lieut-Gen Surjit Singh (retd), Chairman of the commission, said the commission was already in the process of evolving a website with the help of the National Information Centres (NIC) to ensure transparency in its working and for the benefit of the candidates.

“All details regarding the examination, such as the exam procedure, value of communication and personality in terms of marks, application forms and result of examination will be displayed on the website,” said Gen Surjit Singh adding, “our basic objective is to make the system foolproof and yet very helpful and open for the candidates. The website will be a guide for them as to how to prepare for the exam”.

Referring to the ongoing reforms in the recruitment and examination process, Gen Surjit Singh said paper-setters would be taken from other states and one of the five sets of question papers prepared by them for the examination would be kept in a sealed envelope till these were printed by the commission authorities at the venue just hours before the examination. “The staff deployed for conducting the examination will not be allowed to leave the venue till the examination is over. The result of the written examination will be declared within 24 hours,” said Gen Surjit Singh. “Even the panel conducting the interview of a candidate will not be told about the written examination performance of a candidate to prevent him from making an opinion at the psychological level beforehand,” he said. A team of the SSB (East), which would explain various methods of ensuring secrecy in the examination on the lines of the Army and plugging the loopholes, was expected to reach soon, he added.

Talking about the re-examination of those PCS (Judicial) officials who were removed as a result of the PPSC scam, Gen Surjit Singh said though the commission was all set to conduct the examination, no requisition had been sent by the state government for this so far. “As and when the state government asks us to do so we will start the process,” he said.


Privatise govt schools partly: Singla
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Kakrala (Samana), January 19
A Punjab Government committee, which is examining the expenditure policy on Education, has calculated that the per capita cost of providing education to a child in the state is Rs 662 per year with the total spending on school education itself being Rs 2000 crore annually. It feels that the government should, on an experimental basis, hand over the management of around 10 per cent of schools to known charitable organisations.

The Adviser to the State Committee on Finance, Mr Surinder Singla, is of the view that the government could hand over part of the School Education Department to charitable organisations like the D.A.V., Khalsa Education Trust and institutes run by Christian missionaries.

Mr Singla was addressing several thousand teachers, students and associates linked with the D.A.V. movement at the ‘Vedic Chetna Arya Sammelan’ organised here today.

Compared to the cost of Rs 662 per annum incurred by the government on educating students in its schools, he said private institutions incurred an average cost of Rs 400 per annum. As far as the dropout rate was concerned, it was as high as 79 per cent in government schools and nearly zero in private schools.

The Finance Adviser said the point which needed to be pondered was that government schools were not giving quality education even after the huge inputs. The common theory that government schools could not give good results because the parents of the children were poor and uneducated did not hold true. He gave the example of the D.A.V. School in Kakrala where around 250 children came from the poor background, but were doing well as compared to their counterparts in government schools. He said this proved that the quality of schools was of importance.

On the issue of likely privatisation of education in the state, he said the government was not privatising education, rather the people were forcing it to do so. He said the faith of the people in government schools had reduced tremendously over the years and the situation had come to such a pass that now only parents who did not have any resources at their command admitted their children to government schools.

The sammelan was earlier inaugurated with a “havan” ceremony by Mr Singla. He also inaugurated the new block of the local school.

The D.A.V. Management Committee head, Mr Gian Prakash Chopra, called for eradicating corruption and casteism from society, besides working for the removal of gender inequality and female foeticide. Mr Chopra said it was tragic that the political system had debased itself so much that even criminals were being elected to the state assemblies and Parliament. Similarly, more awareness needed to be created amongst women to stop the practice of female foeticide which was creating imbalances in society.

Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Laxmi Kanta Chawla urged the D.A.V. Management Committee to include stories of martyrs who had sacrificed their lives in the freedom struggle in its course books. 


Delete bogus voters’ names: BJP
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 19
The Punjab BJP President Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, has urged the Chief Electoral Officer of Punjab, Mr C.L. Bains, to order the deletion of names of bogus voters in Kapurthala, Sultanpur Lodhi, Abohar, Jalalabad and other places during the revision of electoral rolls for the March municipal poll. Addressing a press conference here last evening, Mr Rinwa said he would soon write to Mr Bains in this regard.


Rights panel refers widow’s case to ADGP
K. K. Goyal

Mansa, January 19
Following the news report published in The Tribune on December 5, 2002, under the heading “Widow alleges harassment by sons” the matter, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has referred the application of 90-year-old widow Jaspal Kaur to the Additional Director General of Police (ADGP), IVC, Punjab for an inquiry into the matter and to submit the report to the PSHRC.

Ms Jaspal Kaur had made a complaint to the PSHRC that she was neglected by her two sons, Harcharan Singh, and Gurcharan Singh, and beaten and thrown out of the house by her sons and grandsons. She, therefore, started residing with her daughter Harbant Kaur and in view of the services rendered by her daughter, she transferred her entire seven acres of land in her favour.

She had further alleged that her sons made a murderous attack on her daughter and her family several times. She lamented in the complaint, that her sons forcibly harvested the crop and cultivated the land, causing them acute harassment.

Four different incidents were mentioned in the complaint which were brought to the notice of the local police, but the police took no action allegedly at the instance of a senior leader of the ruling party. She had further alleged that a DSP of the district called them in his office and demanded Rs. 1.5 lakh as bribe and on refusal, used foul language and called her and her daughter “gundian” and “badmash”.

Talking to this correspondent here today, Ms Jaspal Kaur told that on failure of the local police to take action against her sons, she approached the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Faridkot range, who called the said DSP, SHO Sadar Mansa and her two sons to his office in her presence. The DIG ordered the local police to take immediate action, ignoring any political pressure.


Axed panchayat secys to campaign against Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 19
The expelled Punjab Panchayat Secretaries Union will launch door-to-door campaign against the Congress in the Himachal Pradesh elections. At a meeting held here today, the union claimed that despite the party high command’s instructions, the Congress government in Punjab had failed to provide justice to them.

Presiding over the meeting, Mr Gurrjivan Singh Brar said the union had formed teams of expelled panchayat secretaries to campaign against the Congress in Himachal Pradesh.

They would hold a rally in Shimla on January 21 and later in surrounding towns. The teams would also carry out door-to-door campaign.

Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is campaigning in support of Congress candidates.

The union would expose the ‘true picture ’ of his policies, said a leader of the union. The Union would also hold protest meetings in other constituencies, he added.

Mr Brar alleged that though Ms Ambika Soni, general secretary of the Congress, had recently asked Capt Amarinder Singh, at a party meeting in New Delhi, to meet the delegates of the union to work out a solution, the Chief Minister, had not given time to union representatives.

He said Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Agricultural and Rural Development, and Mr Y.K. Ratra, Chief Secretary, had met them.

He claimed that on one hand, the state government had terminated the services of 909 panchayat secretaries, and on the other, it was trying to bring back 470 panchayat secretaries, appointed by the Beant Singh government for 89 days, through the backdoor.

Mr Rajinder Singh, press secretary of the union, warned the state government that it would intensify its agitation if the government failed to provide them with justice.


‘Denial of political rights of NRIs okay’
Our Correspondent and UNI

Jalandhar, January 19
Hailing the decision of the Indian Government to grant dual citizenship to NRIs and PIOs, a Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom, Mr Piara Singh Khabra, has justified the stand of the government on the denial of political rights along with dual citizenship.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Khabra, who hails from Hoshiarpur district, said, “How can a person settled abroad deserve political rights, when he has already left that country? If one wants these rights, he or she should come to the motherland permanently”.

Mr Khabra, who has been elected three time in a row to UK Parliament, said the political system in India needed to incorporate major reforms to benefit the citizens of this country.

He agreed that the Kohinoor diamond should be handed over to India. “Even as I am afraid that it will be difficult for India to maintain such historical mounments”, he added.

Mr Khabra said India could negotiate with Britain for return of the Peacock Throne and other relics which the British took away from here.

The Labour Party MP, representing the Southall constituency in the House of Commons, however, said India must first take steps to preserve its historical buildings, many of which were in shambles, before making demands for return of its relics.


Govt delay poses danger to refugees
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 19
Despite recommendation by a high-level inquiry committee to scrap a 40-year-old Improvement Trust scheme, the government continues to withhold permission to 100 refugee families who have sought reconstructions, additions/improvements/ renovations to their century-old perilously dilapidated buildings for safety to their families.

These residents allege harassment by officials of the trust despite the ‘ruinous’ condition of their houses, which poses a danger to their lives.

‘The Tribune’ had highlighted the plight of these Pakistani refugees settled in “Kutcha Panditan”, a Muslim locality later declared evacuee property, in its August 4, 2002, issue. Later, a high-level inquiry was published on October 27, 2002, which had recommended that the scheme mooted in 1965, be quashed. Mr K.K. Nanda, retired government official, had raised the predicament of area residents.

An inquiry by Ms Gurpreet Sapra, Deputy Director, Urban Local Bodies, proposed that some notices be withdrawn by the trust. It recommended action against guilty officers of the trust who had manipulated to help the scheme continue for years and causing harassment to area residents.

However, it is alleged that lack of interest by the district administration here, which is holding additional charge of the trust, has left the case in ‘cold storage’ for the past six months.

Many letters by a complainant, Mr Nanda, to Mr B.R. Banga, Director Local Government, and Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Principal Secretary, Local Government, have elicited no response even as the residents continue to suffer in their decaying and crumbling structures.


DD film on Hari Jaisingh today
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 19
“Kalam Seenche Sachh”, a half-hour-long documentary on the life and works of Mr Hari Jaisingh, the Editor of The Tribune and the president of the Editors’ Guild of India, would be telecast on Doordarshan’s satellite channel “DD-Punjabi” at 10 a.m. on January 20.

The film, which could be seen in India and 42 middle eastern countries, has been produced by the Jalandhar Kendra of Doordarshan and was earlier telecast on DD-1 (Regional-Jalandhar) and DD-Punjabi channels simultaneously on January 17, said Mr Ashok Jailkhani, the director of the kendra.


Mann for special gaushala fund
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 19
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief, has asked the Centre to establish gaushala development boards at the Central and state levels and create a gaushala development bank for providing adequate funds for the protection of cows.

In a letter to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Mann said posts of the district gaushala development officer should also be created. The letter, which was released by Mr Surinder Babbi, press secretary of the SAD (A), here yesterday, also stated that a special fund should be created to provide financial help to gaushalas.

Mr Mann also stated that MPs should be required to donate a part of their discretionary funds to gaushalas. Each MP should be made responsible for the maintenance of gaushalas and MP Local Area Development Scheme funds should be increased, he added.

Mr Mann sought gaushalas in big villages and small towns. He said one gaushala should be opened in five to six villages on panchayat land.

Mr Mann demanded a ban on cow slaughter in the country. He sought the vacation of land belonging to gaushalas from illegal possession. He also favoured research on cowdung for use as bio-fertilisers and medicines.


Mann for Nanakshahi calendar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 19
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President SAD (A), has demanded the implementation of Nanakshahi calendar from Holla Mohalla. He said this in a statement released here today. The Lok Sabha member from Sangrur said all Sikh festivals should be celebrated as per this calendar and not the Vikrami calendar.


Rs 2-cr rice scam
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 19
The Barnala police has detected a Rs 2-crore rice scam in the city.

Disclosing this here yesterday, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Barnala, informed that the police conducted raids at Markfed, Punjab Warehousing Corporation and Punjab Agro godowns following a tip-off. He said the scam came to light when something fishy about the Durga Rice Mill’s packing of rice bags purchased by the Food Corporation of India was pointed out. The police has sealed about 14,000 of the 27,000 bags of rice for further sampling. It was found that about 45 per cent of the rice stored in two lakh bags in various godowns here was below the required specifications.


SYL ‘may ruin’ fruit growers
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 19
Mr Sunil Jakhar, whip of the Punjab Legislature Congress Party, has warned that the construction of the SYL canal may ruin the largest fruit-growing region in the state.

Mr Jakhar said the region had been facing acute shortage of canal water for the past one year. Tubewell water contained a lot of sodium and was unfit for irrigation. A farmer, if deprived of regular supply of canal water, lost one crop, but fruit growers suffered for five to six years if irrigation was not done as per schedule. The NDA government had lost interest in offering subsidy for drip and sprinkle irrigation to farmers. The government headed by Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao had launched the scheme to save water and augment agriculture at low cost.

He exhorted Prof B.L. Rinwa, state BJP President, to hold talks with the Union Government over the impact of the SYL project without playing to the SAD’s political tune. Professor Rinwa also belonged to the subdivision and he must safeguard the interests of farmers here. The party was ready to support him in this regard, Mr Jakhar said.

Mr Jakhar regretted that the NDA government had not been releasing grants for the multi-crore Central Institute for Post-Harvest Technology and the leaf analyser was lying unused. The purpose of creating this institute had been defeated.


NRI Punjabi writers hail varsity centre
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 19
NRI Punjabi writers who gathered here to participate in the two-day international seminar on “Immigrant writers: Literature, Writing and Challenges” said the newly established Centre of Immigrant Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University had provided a platform to them to discuss their literary and cultural problems.

Congratulating the university, the NRI writers expressed satisfaction that the university had shown its commitment for the development of Punjabi language and literature.

The seminar was organised by the Centre of Immigrant Studies under the chairmanship of Dr Harchand Singh Bedi. On the concluding day, a panel discussion on the present status of Punjabi immigrant literature was held. Dr Raghbir Singh of Panjab University, Chandigarh, Dr Satinder Singh Noor of Delhi University, Dr Jaswinder Singh of Punjabi University, Patiala, and immigrant writers expressed their views. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, presided over the panel discussion.

Dr S.P. Singh raised the question whether the Punjabi immigrant literature should have its distinct identity or it should form a part of the main Punjabi literature written in India. Dr Raghbir Singh said we had not so far adequately defined the character of immigrant literature.

Dr Jaswinder Singh said the immigrant literature represented the difficulties, problems, challenges and situations created by globalisation, privatisation, liberalisation and technology in the modern context.

Dr S.P. Singh honoured Ms Amar Jyoti from the Netherlands for her commendable contribution to the field of immigrant Punjabi literature.


‘Surtal’ concludes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 19
The three-day inter-zonal cultural festival held in the memory of the founder of Patiala, Baba Ala Singh, concluded on a vibrant note at Government Mohindra College here today evening.

The cultural extravaganza “Surtal-2003” was organised by the State Cultural Department.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Public Health Minister, reminded the audience that the city had acquired the sobriquet of “city of gardens”.

Mr Randhawa also said it should be the endeavour of every resident to ensure that the rich culture of the town was preserved. Mr G.S. Grewal, Commissioner, Municipal, and Mr R.K. Sharma, Principal of the college, also spoke.


Bank: no warrants against farmers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 19
Mr Nand Singh, District Manager, PADB, has said that though the bank had issued about 15 warrants against wilful defaulters for not paying up their loans, yet no warrants had been issued against any farmer.

Talking to TNS here today, he said the warrants were issued against those who had taken loans for non-farming and allied activities and had not been paying the instalments of their loans.

Mr Jarnail Singh, Assistant Registrar, Co-operative Society, Bathinda, said no farmer had been arrested for non-payment of instalments of loan. Meanwhile, Bharti Kisan Union activists have alleged that the already hard-pressed farmers are being harassed by a section of bankers and moneylenders (arhtiyas) to repay their loans.

Home | Punjab | Haryana | Jammu & Kashmir | Himachal Pradesh | Regional Briefs | Nation | Editorial |
Business | Sport | World | Mailbag | In Spotlight | Chandigarh Tribune | Ludhiana Tribune
50 years of Independence | Tercentenary Celebrations |
122 Years of Trust | Calendar | Weather | Archive | Subscribe | Suggestion | E-mail |