Tuesday, January 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Reject all water pacts: Lakhowal 
Sushil Goyal and Prem Sharma

Thikriwala (Barnala), January 20
Paying tributes to a martyr of the Praja Mandal Movement, Sewa Singh Thikriwala, on his 69th martyrdom day at his native village here today, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Lakhowal) asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to convene a session of the Punjab Assembly. The union wants the Assembly to reject all water pacts, including the Rajiv-Longowal accord, in the wake of SYL canal issue.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), at the function said that nobody could stop the march of Hindutva, except the SAD (A).

Addressing the Shaheedi Conference of Sewa Singh Thikriwala, Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal, president of the BKU, said if the construction of the SYL canal was allowed, seven districts of the Malwa belt would become barren. He also opposed the move of the state government to privatise the PSEB.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the SAD (A), alleged that the BJP leaders were spreading “Hindu extremism” in the country. He said the SAD (A) would gather like-minded forces to stop the “Hindutva march”.

Mr Mann asked the Central government to give an adequate share in power to the Sikhs at the Centre. The Union Cabinet now had only one Sikh minister while earlier it had always at least two Cabinet ministers.

Capt Harcharan Singh Rode, (retd), brother of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, raised the issue of Sikh identity. He said identity of the Sikhs was being tarnished. Parents should not cut the hair of their children.

Mr Pishore Singh Sidhupur, president of the BKU (Ekta), Punjab, appealed to the farmers to be united. He said more than 80 per cent farmers were unable to repay their loans due to wrong policies of the government.


Din over SYL eclipses strictures on Centre
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
Much publicity has been given to the directions issued by the Supreme Court on January 15, 2002, for the completion of the SYL canal within one year by the Punjab Government and after that by the Central Government.

In the political din raised over the judgement, the court’s displeasure over the Centre’s inability to fill the vacancies in the Ravi and Beas Waters Tribunal, popularly known as the Eradi Tribunal, which gave its interim report on January 30,1987, has been lost sight of, it is yet to give its final report about the allocation of the river waters between Punjab and Haryana.

The apex court passed strictures against the Central Government not only for its failure to fill the vacancies in the Eradi Tribunal but also for its failure to play its due role in persuading the two states to reach an amicable settlement over the contentious SYL issue.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice G.B. Pattnaik said no court would have appreciated the initial stand taken by the Union Government that it had no role to play in the dispute between the two states. He said : “It appears that in the controversy..., the Union Government is feeling embarrassed to take any positive decision, which, in our view, is not in the interest of the nation.”

“The founding fathers of the Constitution, advocated for a strong Central Government, so that there would not be any disintegration of the states and the Central power would be able to keep the states within the limits and will be able to force the states, in the matter of good governance of the states, which would benefit the inhabitants of the states, the inhabitants of the neighbouring states and the country as a whole.”

Mr Justice Pattnaik went on to say that “the existence of friction among the states, through which a river flows continues... on account of lack of political will at the Central level to deal with the problem with determination.

Coming to the Eradi Tribunal, the Supreme Court expressed concern over the continuation of a “tribunal presided over by a retired judge of this court, who is sitting idle as its other members had not been appointed... The continuance of such a tribunal has become a source of drainage from the public exchequer without getting any return.”

“We really fail to understand why such a high-powered tribunal supposed to decide a water dispute... would be permitted to just sit idle and why the Central Government... has not bestowed any attention for the proper functioning of such tribunal...

“ To avoid any further embarrassment and criticism we expect that the Central Government would do well in filling the vacancies in the tribunal and the tribunal also would do well in concluding the proceedings before it as expeditiously as possible.”

In terms of this judgement the Centre’s role in constructing the canal would have come only after one year (during which Punjab was supposed to complete the canal). But nothing prevented the Centre from carrying out the wishes of the apex court regarding the vacancies in the Eradi Tribunal.

The RPI MLA of Haryana, Mr Karan Singh Dalal, today regretted that neither the present Chief Minister, Mr Om Prakash Chautala, nor other prominent leaders of the state, who always tried to take credit for the partial construction of the canal, had raised this issue with the Prime Minister for full one year.

He said till the Eradi Tribunal disposed of the objections filed by Punjab on August 19, 1987, the Central government could not notify the tribunal’s award allocating shares of the two states in the river waters.

Mr Dalal said he had written to the Prime Minister to urgently fill the vacancies in the tribunal so that it could give its final award expeditiously. He also gave a call to the Opposition MLAs of Haryana for resigning from the Assembly if the Centre failed to start the construction of the SYL canal and fill the vacancies in the tribunal within a reasonable time.


Punjab to resist Centre on SYL: Hanspal
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, January 20
Mr H.S. Hanspal, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president has said that the state Congress would oppose any move of the Central government to complete the SYL canal.

Addressing party workers at Kotha Guru village 30 km from here last evening, Mr Hanspal said that Punjab did not have water for giving to other states. He said that the SYL canal would not be completed and the Punjab Congress would not succumb to pressure of the Central government on the completion of SYL canal.

Mr Hanspal said that the water-sharing agreements signed more than 25 years ago should be reviewed in the present context as at that time there was plenty of water in the rivers flowing through Punjab. He added that with the passage of time, water flowing in canals in Punjab had reduced. Fresh survey should be conducted to ascertain quantity of water in various canals in Punjab, he said.

NABHA: “The Congress party will contest the Municipal Council elections on the issues of development and corruption and it will request all secular parties to unite to defeat the communal forces,” said Harvinder Singh Hanspal, President, PPCC at the house of Kaka Randip Singh, MLA Nabha.

He disclosed that the chairmen of Zila Parishads Block Samitis would be elected after the elections scheduled to be held on March 5 and 15 were over. He favoured expansion and selection of chairmen of various bodies. The party’s defeat in Gujarat, he said was due to non-cooperation from the secular forces. He hoped secular parties would unite and the BJP would be uprooted in Himachal and issue of ‘Hindutva’ would fail here.

When asked about the withdrawing of old-age pension scheme, he said that more than 45 per cent of persons were found to be bogus and at places unmarried girls and young boys were getting this pension.

PATIALA: Mr H.S. Hanspal said the state government would seek the Centre’s permission for lifting more than Rs 450 crore worth of sugar stocked in various Cooperative Sugar Mills in the state.

Talking to newsmen after presiding over a function organised by the Nabha Agricultural Implements and Combine Manufacturers at Nabha near here, Mr Hanspal said the sugar stocked in various mills could not be lifted without the permission of the Centre. He said despite this, the state government had released the arrears of farmers recently. He said now only Rs 80 crore was due to farmers.

Mr Hanspal also announced that chairmen of Block Samitis and Zila Parishads would be announced shortly. He said reorganisation of the party District Congress Committees would be undertaken soon. He said on Nagar Panchayat elections the Congress was ready to tie up with secular parties to face the challenge of the “communal” Akali BJP combine.


Sikh history ‘distorted in NCERT books’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
Upset over “distortions” in NCERT books on Sikh Gurus, SGPC Chief Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar has drawn the attention of Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to the ‘bunglings’ which has misrepresented the facts.

It is alleged that the class XI history book in a chapter on a ‘Mediaeval India’ page 125 mentions that Guru Nanak Dev ‘renounced’ the world which is complete mis-representation of Sikhism and against first Sikh Guru’s teachings on “grahist jiwan” (family life).

Similarly a mistake has been committed on page 175 of the same book. In this, 10 Sikh Guru, Guru Gobind Singh has been mentioned as “devotee of Goddess Chandi”. Since Sikh religion does not accept any intermediary between God and man the reference was against Sikh theology, history and philosophy, he said.

Prof Badungar also pointed out that in another instance on the same page the Sikh revolt has been said as “Hindu movement”. These distortions had hurt Sikh sentiments because these portrayed their religion in a different light truth, he added.

The SGPC chief stated that earlier too some facts related to Guru Tegh Bahadur were distorted in history books of NCERT. They were rectified after protests by the SGPC and other representatives of Sikhs community. He also requested to the government to include members of the SGPC whenever a book on history was prepared where reference to Sikhs or Sikh religion was included to avoid embarrassment to the community.

Copies of the letter have been sent to Mr Murli Manohar Joshi Minister for human resource, Mr Tirlochan Singh Deputy Chairman of the National Minorities commission, and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Minister for Chemicals and fertilisers for early rectification in history books.


Indian Missions should be more responsive: Sodhi
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
“We appreciate the decisions of the Union Government in approving dual citizenship and felicitating of eminent members of the Indian diaspora at the Pravasi Bharti Divas annually,” says Mr Barjinder Singh Sodhi, an NRI from Germany, holding that “the Indian Missions overseas must be more courteous, cooperative and helpful to our community there.”

Mr Sodhi, who migrated to Germany in 1984, is in hotel and restaurant business and represented the Berlin Chapter of Indian Diaspora at the inaugural Pravasi Bharati Divas in New Delhi last week. He hails from Amritsar district and is currently visiting Punjab.

He presented a memento to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on behalf of the Indian Cultural Centre, Bharat Majlis, Sikh Association, Indian Unity Centre and Jawan Bharati Centre — all registered organisations of Indian diaspora in Berlin — on the opening day of the three-day conference.

“But unfortunately, members of the Indian diaspora have a plethora of complaints against Indian Missions abroad. See what happened in Italy. Ask any of the organisations of Indian diaspora in Berlin and they will open their hearts out to you.”

“See what is happening to the new Embassy building in Berlin. In less than three years it has developed cracks. The company that constructed it is finished. Not only that last time when External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha went to Berlin, none of the members of these Indian Associations was called. In fact, we had planned to felicitate him by organising a dinner in his honour. But our request remained unresponded,” says Mr Sodhi.

“This time I have requested the Prime Minister in person that when he visits Berlin in September this year, he must attend a public reception we plan to organise in his honour.He has agreed and asked me that it should be a big function and all Indians settled in Berlin and nearby areas should be invited,” discloses Mr Sodhi.

Talking about other grievances of the Indian community, Mr Sodhi said that members of the Indian community planned a conference on the Kashmir issue as former Secretary, Europe Affairs, Mr V.K. Grover, now retired, had offered to act as organiser of the conference. “We were successful in persuading the German Government to join in this proposed pro-India conference. But our Embassy sat over the proposal.

“Not only that, almost the entire Indian community in Berlin was ignored for Divali celebrations. Instead, only Germans were invited. The Indian community organised its function separately at the International Students Centre Club House on November 9,” reveals Mr Sodhi.

Some senior German politicians like Mr Klaus Riegert, Mr Johannes Pflug, Mr Holger Ortel, Mr Werner Kuhn — all members of German Parliament — acknowledge him as “Ambassador of Indo-German friendship” in Berlin. They maintained that Mr Sodhi with his contacts, influence and goodwill had been helping members of the Indian community in distress and need.


Master plan for Anandpur Sahib
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 20
The Punjab Government has drawn up a master plan for Anandpur Sahib town.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, while giving this information to newspersons here today, said the plan was approved at the sixth meeting of the Punjab Regional Town Planning and Development Board held on January 10 under the chairmanship of the Chief Minster.

The master plan, besides synchronising structure like Charan Ganga Stadium, entry gates, Panj Piara Park and the shopping complex, also proposed a bypass. The bypass starting from Jhinjri village would be connected to the Anandpur Sahib-Nangal road near Lang Majari village. It would ease traffic congestion in Anandpur Sahib during the Hola Mohalla and Baisakhi festivities.

The institutional zone of Anandpur Sahib had been proposed on the Anandpur Sahib-Garhshankar road and a bulk material market and a truck stand along the bypass near Jhinjri village. A city centre had been proposed on both sides of Charan Ganga Stadium. A leisure valley had also been planned at the same place.

Under the master plan, a population of 40,000 would be accommodated by the year 2016 covering Anandpur Sahib and 14 surrounding villages (about 5,806 acres), the Deputy Commissioner said.


PSIEC fails to make payments to farmers 
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
About 25 farmers of Kumbra, Tarrif Kumbra and Kambala villages near here are still awaiting for the “reasonable” price for their about 68 acres of agricultural land that was acquired by the Punjab Industries Department, and handed over to the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC) in the 90s to develop industrial focal point in SAS Nagar.

Farmers have alleged that though the District Judge, Ropar, in his judgement had asked the corporation in the year 2000 to pay the enhanced price at the rate of Rs 5,20,000 per acre, the corporation had not so far released the payments.

Officials of the PSIEC, who were not ready to come on record, agreed that the land was acquired to develop industrial plots in the industrial focal point, Phase IX, Extension, through the Land Acquisition Collector, Industries Department, Punjab, and later on handed over to the PSIEC. Despite the enhanced compensation announced by the Additional District Judge, Ropar, payments have not been released so far.

Mr G.S. Bhullar, one of the aggrieved farmers, alleged that the Land Acquisition Officer of the Industries Department, vide his awards dated March 28, 1990, and April 28, 1990, had announced compensation at the rate of Rs 48,000 to Rs 1 lakh per acre, which was much lower against the prevailing price to the tune of Rs 10 lakh per acre. The land was quite fertile and in the vicinity of SAS Nagar and Chandigarh. Despite appeal by the farmers, he said, the Land Acquisition Officer did not forward the cases under Section 18 of the Land Acquisition Act to the District Judge for as long as five years. Later on in 2000, the District Judge, Ropar, announced compensation at the rate of Rs 5,20,000. But the PSIEC has not made the payments to the farmers. The Punjab and Haryana High Court has also announced compensation at the same rate for the acquired land in Kumbra village in another case, he added.

Another official of the PSIEC disclosed that the corporation was also contemplating to appeal against the decision. Further, the allottees of these developed plots have also appealed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the corporation’s decision to seek enhanced price from them. So the enhanced compensation may not be paid in the near future, he added.



30 pc pension cases found fake
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, January 20
Thirty per cent cases of social security pensions in the district have been found to be fake and ineligible persons have been drawing pension for the past many years.

Highly placed sources said during the previous SAD-BJP government not much attention was paid to check the documents for issuing social security pension. In some cases some persons had even acted as agents between the beneficiary and the department for starting old-age pensions for ineligible persons.

The sources revealed that of the 29,858 cases at least 8,864 were found to be fake. The sources added that as per rules women were eligible for pension if they were 60 years’ old or above while men who had attained 65 years’ of age or above were eligible. In some cases the beneficiary had died and his/her kin were continuing to draw pension by flouting the norms.

They said during checking 17,047 cases were found to be genuine while records of 3,947 cases were being verified again. Physical verification of the 3,947 cases was being done as they were not found at their addresses mentioned in the papers.

Mrs Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, when contacted, said the pension to fake beneficiaries had been stopped and the move to recover the amount drawn by them will be launched soon.


SKP to picket SGPC offices
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 20
The stage for a confrontation between the SGPC and the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) on the issue of the removal of the Jathedar of Akal Takht in the Baba Dhanwant Singh episode has been set. The panchayat will picket the committee offices in Amritsar from February 22 till their demands are met.

The SKP has been spearheading the Baba Dhanwant case. Allegedly the Baba had raped a girl at his dera and had reportedly bribed a relative of the Jathedar to secure his exoneration. The Baba is presently in jail.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, convenor of the panchayat, said they had given an ultimatum to the SGPC to secure the resignation of Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti by December 12.

On the Noormehlia issue the SGPC had chosen to be quiet. Even an Akal Takht committee constituted in December had not declared its action plan.

“ It is nearly a month but no meeting has been held till date. In case a decision to oust him from Punjab is not taken by January 23, we will announce a programme on our own” , he warned.

He also said that the SKP had taken it upon itself to legally secure the release of all Sikh TADA detenues. He said they had also identified 139 youth who were being detained in the state.” We have secured the release of two such youths—Gurjit Singh of Gurdaspur and Kamaljit Singh of Amritsar—so far,” he informed.


Shooting incident: Badungar backs PA
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
Prof Kirpal Singh Budungar, president of the SGPC, today came to the support of SGPC additional secretary and his personal assistant Raghbir Singh over the shooting incident of January 17.

Professor Badungar alleged that it was Baba Major Singh of Dera Baba Bahaul Singh and general secretary of Sant Samaj who attacked the SGPC men on court premises on January 17.

On the complaint of Baba Major Singh, the district police has registered a case against six persons of the SGPC task force for allegedly attacking Baba Major Singh and his men. The baba was seriously injured in the incident.

In a press statement issued here today, professor Badungar stated that Major Singh was a former employee of the SGPC who was dismissed for allegedly attempting to forcibly occupying a gurdwara. He pointed out that he remained imprisoned from June 7, 1984 to November 2, 1985. He also alleged that Major Singh had been misguiding the sangat by saying that he was a follower of Baba Kharak Singh, whereas the follower of Baba Kharak Singh was Baba Darshan Singh.


Encroachments in Nangal resurface
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 20
The anti-encroachment drive of the district administration has come a cropper with the encroachments removed recently from Nangal town resurfacing.

In an early morning swoop a couple of weeks ago, encroachments around the PTDC complex were removed by the administration following requests by the PTDC authorities. A number of kiosks and semi-pucca structures had been raised by certain encroachers around the PTDC complex at Nangal.

After demolishing the structures, the area was fenced with barbed wire and it was proposed that the local council would build a park in the vacated area.

However, shops have again come up in the same area. Due to lack of follow-up action, the initial fear instilled into the encroachers, some of whom had even removed their illegal structures on their own, has dissipated.

The emboldened encroachers have again have started raising structures.

Political pressure had also been allegedly exerted on the district administration to abandon its anti-encroachment drive.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, had earlier also directed the Nangal council authorities to set up a booth market to help the persons affected by the anti-encroachment drive. It is alleged that some encroachers had in fact raised the illegal structures on government land with a view to getting subsidised shops in the booth markets.


Councillors unhappy over delimitation
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 20
The delimitation of the municipal wards of Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib had been completed and it had resulted in reducing the strength of wards from the present 28 to 17, yet certain councillors are making all out efforts to make the changes in the boundaries as well as in the reservation of wards. The new delimitation of wards has not only created a controversy but also added to the confusion among the councillors and new aspirants to these wards. As per the new delimitation, the wards of 11 councillors have been merged with the others as per the earlier directions of the High Court regarding the merger of Nagar Panchayat, Fatehgarh Sahib, with Municipal Council Sirhind. Though some of the councillors have strongly criticised the new delimitation move and have demanded that the same scrapped, certain others councillors have expressed satisfaction and have urged the government not to make any changes.

Another point of controversy among the councillors is the move to change the boundaries of the municipal council by excluding four villages viz. Alian, Talania, Bahadurgarh and Attewali and to create 17 wards only from the urban areas. Last week, 22 out of the 28 councillors passed a resolution at a special meeting urging the government to exclude these villages from the municipal council and to make 17 wards only from the urban areas and to initiate a fresh delimitation of wards accordingly. Interestingly, in another development 15 out of the 27councillors in a letter to the Principal Secretary, local govt., have urged not that the rural areas should not be excluded from the municipal limits.

Meanwhile, 22 of the total 28 councillors of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib have demanded the immediate transfer of the Executive Officer (EO) of the council allegedly for promoting factionalism among the councillors. In a signed memorandum sent to the Chief Minister and copies of the same to Principal Secretary, local government and Chief State Election Commissioner, the councillors have alleged that ever since Mr Surinder Kumar, Executive Officer of the Council, who belongs to this town, took charge he had been promoting factionalism among the councillors for vested interests. They have further alleged that now that elections for the Municipal Councils in the state had been declared and the work on the delimitation of the wards was on the EO was directly interfering in the process just to benefit his favourites. They have also urged the Chief Minister to transfer him from his hometown keeping in view the Punjab State Election Rules.


Vigilance Bureau submits status report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 20
In a status report submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Vigilance Bureau today stated that during the past five years 80 inquiries were conducted by the Vigilance Bureau, “in which action was recommended” but were “closed, dropped or sent to the administrative departments”.

Giving details, Deputy Inspector-General of Police Ishwar Chander further stated in the report that 24 inquiries were registered against senior government officers, while 56 were registered against other public servants during the five-year period.

A list was also annexed containing details of 1372 FIRs registered in the Vigilance Bureau, along with the action thereof. The DIG stated that “out of these, nine FIRs were registered against politicians, 10 were registered against bureaucrats, while 286 were registered against senior government officers and 1067 were registered against other public servants.

The status report was submitted in compliance with the High Court directions. The Court, it may be recalled, had directed the filing of the status report clearly giving the details of all the politicians, bureaucrats and senior government officers involved in different criminal cases against whom the FIR was made, besides the details of “how many persons and officers were protected under the government instructions, the operation of which had been stayed by the Court”.

Acting on a petition for quashing of a circular issued by the Punjab Government two years ago “completely nullifying the functions of the vigilance department” and disabling it from “checking corruption against public servants”, the Bench had initially ordered stay on a clause contained in it requiring the department to register an inquiry or a first information report on the recommendations of certain committees after the approval of the competent authority.

The Bench had added that the stay would continue till further orders. The Judges had further ruled that all pending inquiries would be completed by the investigating officers expeditiously and reports would be filed in the Court before the next date of hearing. The Judges had added that the state had initiated investigations on different fronts for checking acts of dishonesty and corruption. The efforts would, however, stand frustrated by the issuance of such instructions.


MC employees accused of fraud not booked
Our Correspondent

Bareta (Mansa), January 20
The state government has failed to take action against the Municipal Council employees accused of causing a financial loss to the MC by fabricating documents despite the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, recommending the registration of a criminal case under Sections 409, 467, 468, 471, 120-B and 201 of the IPC in a July 4, 1996 report.

The Vigilance Bureau had indicated the then Executive Officer R.K. Bansal and junior engineer Harish Chander of the council along with Roop Singh, personal assistant to Mr Mandeep Singh, the then Joint Director, Local Government, Punjab, and Sham Lal, record keeper, a local resident, has sent a representation to the Chief Secretary, Punjab, with copies to other higher authorities to take action on the report of the Vigilance Bureau.

According to the representation, the official made wrong entries in muster roll, wherein 65 labourers were shown working for 60 days causing a loss of Rs 1.12 lakh though no work was done by any labourer on those days.


British MPs favour Mufti’s approach
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
The three-member British delegation of parliamentarians has strongly favoured the bold initiative taken by Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, Chief Minister, Jammu and Kashmir, for bringing hardliners into the mainstream.

Mr Tony Clarke the MP from Northampton South, told newsmen here that Mr Sayeed, who had decided to engage the militants in a dialogue, should be supported by the Government of India and the world community. He said that peace must be given a chance now since the state had suffered through prolonged militancy. He said by taking this course the Mufti had been able to isolate the mercenaries from the Kashmiri militants.

Mr Clarke pointed out that dialogue should be initiated with all shades of people in the valley.

He said they would take up the issue of financial help with Mr Robert Herrison, Director International funding of the British Government, to request him to provide funds for the troubled state.

Earlier, Mr Clarke along with Mr Stephen Pound and Mr Tom Waston — all MPs visited the Golden Temple, Jallianwala Bagh and Guru Nanak Dev University. They also witnessed beating the retreat ceremony at Wagha joint check-post.


Escorts hospital opened
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
Escorts Heart Institute and Research Centre, New Delhi, has opened its hospital here today. The Chief Operating Officer, Lt Gen Harcharan Singh, in a press note here said Escorts would be offering world class cardiac care to people of the region.

The hospital is equipped with technology available for cardiac problems managed by high qualified and skilled doctors.

Gen Harcharan Singh said the hospital was to be finally inaugurated by the Executive Director, Dr Naresh Trehan, but due to fog his plane could not land today. However, formal inauguration would take place at a late date.


Helpline service for ex-servicemen

Jalandhar, January 20
Vajra Corps today launched a helpline service for the ex-servicemen at the Military Hospital, here.

The service would be a platform for addressing day-to-day problems of ex-servicemen in an effort to mitigate their suffering, an Army press note stated.

The 24-hours helpline would also provide transport on requirement on payment coordinate medical facilities, resolve problems relating to school buses, ration cards, passage of speedy information to ex-servicemen and resolve issues relating to pension. PTI


Pak intruder held
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 20
Nasir Ali (17), Pakistani national, was nabbed in the Khemkaran sector last night by BSF jawans as he was trying to cross over to India.

He was handed over to the Khemkaran police. 


Cricket bookies return
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, January 20
The Sub-agents of bookies here have started collecting bets for the cricket World Cup from February 8 in South Africa.

The sub-agents who had shifted to other towns during the India-New Zealand one-day series have started collecting bets for the World Cup.

A sub-agent of Jammu-based bookie, a hosiery trader in the Gandhi Chowk area and an Amritsar-based sub-agents had earlier organised/trips of the gamblers to nearby hotels.

Several city residents lost lakhs in the India-New Zealand series. Betting in the city is done to the tune of more than Rs 50,000,00 each year.

The cricket betting is a business of crores in Pathankot, Ludhiana, Jalandhar, Amritsar and Jammu.

Sub-agents like Kalia of Amritsar, the Changu group of Jammu and a local transporter are said to be active in the trade.


Babbar wows dog judges
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 20
The first and second All-Breed Dog Championship and Greyhound races were organised by the Sutlej Kennel Club at Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy, here, today.

Braving the chilly and foggy weather, a large number of owners brought their well-groomed dogs from all over the north India to participate in the show.

About 140 dogs classified in six categories — utility group, working group, toy group, hounds group, gun-dog group and terrier group — competed for top positions in each group in the All-Breed Dog Championship.

In the Greyhounds races, 54 dogs participated in the four legs of the event for the attractive cash rewards.

The first cash reward of Rs 5,100 was awarded to Babbar, owned by Mr Prem Singh. The second, third and the fourth cash prizes were respectively given to Firefighter owned by Mr Balwinder Singh Thammanwal, Nikku owned by Mr Surjit Singh Bhullar and Vicky owned by Mr Balwant Singh.


Mason falls to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
Mason Major Singh (40) was working on second floor of a house in the Kamla Nehru Nagar locality in this town. Labourer Raju Yadav also fell and suffered multiple injuries yesterday.

Civil Hospital sources said that Major Singh died within half an hour after he was shifted to the hospital.


‘Kelkar report threat to farmers’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 20
Former Union Agriculture Minister Bal Ram Jakhar has said the farming community will face disaster if recommendations of the Kelkar Committee with regard to agriculture sector are accepted by the Union Government.

Speaking to newspersons at his residence at Panjkosi village near here today, Mr Jakhar said the ancestral agriculture land had been divided among generations since the imposition of the Land Ceiling Act.

The average holding was now less than 2 acre per family. The inputs and labour rates had increased manifolds but there had been little improvement in the MSP of the produce. The NDA government was thinking of bringing agriculturalist under the Inspectory Raj.

He, however, did not oppose bringing the business houses under the IT net.

The former Lok Sabha Speaker regretted that the Union Government was thinking of substantially cutting down the subsidy to the agriculture sector under pressure from the USA. The latter was offering 75 per cent subsidy to the farmers as compared to only 9 per cent being offered by the Indian Government, he added.

Criticising the NDA government for its failure to fight cross-border terrorism, Mr Jakhar said there was no wisdom in spending thousands of crores on the deployment of the Army on the border.

On the introduction of contract farming Mr Jakhar said financial and proprietarily security of the land owned by the farmers must be guaranteed.

The cooperative societies or the agro-industry corporations should be told to provide hi-tech machinery to the farmers on nominal rent, besides ensuring the timely supply of certified seeds and fertilisers, he added.


75 booked for attempt to murder
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 20
The police today booked 75 persons for attempt to murder following a clash between an agitating mob and police personnel outside gurdwara Shaheedan at Talhan village near here last night.

The police party, after getting information that tension was brewing up at Talhan village following the assembly of a large number of persons belonging to two rival parties, who wanted to capture the management of gurdwara Shaheedan, reached the spot yesterday.

The mob, which was reportedly irked over disrespect shown to Guru Ravidass’s picture by some unscrupulous elements during elections to the gurdwara management committee last evening, went bersek and damaged two police vehicles and pelted stones. As many as 10 cops, including two ASIs, were injured in the clash.

The police has registered a case against Master Hansganju, Kamaljit, Paramjit, Manguram, Pappu, Surinderpal, Mohan and others under Sections 307, 352, 362, 427, 506, 186, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

Meanwhile, Dalit leaders belonging to Talhan village and surrounding areas today staged a dharna outside the office of the Deputy Commissioner to register their protest against the alleged inaction on the part of the police to arrest those, who used derogatory language against the Dalits and Guru Ravidass during elections to the management committee of gurdwara Shaheedan last night.

They submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.Siva Prasad, in this regard. 


Man concocts abduction story, booked
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 20
In an unusual incident a father concocted a story about his minor daughter’s abduction by a person who had given him a loan.

Gurpreet Kaur, younger daughter of Harbhajan Singh of Dashmesh Nagar here, gave a false report to the police, allegedly on her father’s instructions that when she and her elder sister Jaspreet Kaur (16) left for school on January 15, her sister was allegedly abducted by Rakesh Gupta, a resident of Niwi Gali area, with the help of two others. She stated that it was probably done as her father owned him Rs 15,000. However, the police investigation later revealed that Harbhajan Singh had fabricated the abduction story.

According to the police, his intention was not to pay the loan payable to Gupta’s father, besides pressursing the said person to drop cases against him.

However, his plan backfired when the abducted” girl returned home in the evening. Jaspreet admitted before the police that she had gone to Baba Budha Sahib after an altercation with her mother.

Mr Shive Kumar Verma, SP, City-II, said Harbhajan Singh had been booked under Section 182 of the IPC today in this regard.


Pornographic films seized, 2 held

Phagwara, January 20
The police has nabbed owners of two video parlour and seized 695 pornographic films and CDs and 250 pirated video films and CDs from them.

DSP Harmanbir Singh Gill, who led the investigations and planned the raid, said the police party headed by SHO Manjit Singh raided Prince Video Parlour in the local Model Town area last evening and seized 690 pornographic films and 200 pirated video films and arrested its owner Rajinder Kumar.

The DSP said further that, in the second raid, the police arrested another video parlour owner Nirdosh Kumar and seized five pornographic films and 50 pirated video films from his Avon Video Parlour.

The arrests were made under Sections 292/5, 52, 52A, 63, 64, 68A of the Copy Rights Act. UNI


Varsity eases norms on Punjabi
Dons criticise the move
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Punjabi University like Hebrew University in Israel was established to serve the cause of a language. But the university authorities feel it is time to move ahead. They have amended regulations regarding Punjabi both in case of recruitment and science courses.

The university Syndicate at a recent decision amended the rules giving teachers, recruited by the university, two years to pass the matric-level Punjabi examination. Earlier, it was mandatory for everyone applying for a job to have passed this examination. The university Academic Council has decided to make Punjabi teaching compulsory only in the first year of B.Sc.

Both moves have invited criticism. The State Language Department Head, Dr M.L. Hasija, had threatened to walk out of a Syndicate meeting in protest against these moves. One of the seniormost teachers of the university’s Department of Punjabi Development, Dr Balwinder Kaur Brar, had recorded her dissent with regard to the decision on teaching Punjabi to science under-graduates at the Academic Council meeting. Dr Hasija told TNS he would oppose the ratification of the Academic Council decision on Punjabi in the Syndicate.

The varsity authorities had tried to stem criticism on the dilution of Punjabi. The Dean Colleges, Prof U.C. Singh, claimed that as far as recruitment was concerned, neither Panjab University nor Guru Nanak Dev University had this recruitment condition of clearing Punjabi at the matriculate level. He said similarly the decision on teaching Punjabi for only one year to science under-graduates had been taken following a suggestion by principals of affiliated colleges that science students had less time to study their basic subjects since they had to study both Punjabi and English.

The university authorities had also claimed that it had got a poll conducted in affiliated colleges to know the opinion of the students on this issue. They said the polls demonstrated that 61 per cent of the students were for either one language or no language. In two local colleges certain teachers had tried to manipulate the poll but there also the results were similar.

Though the varsity authorities justified the decisions, what it seemed to have overlooked was that Punjabi University was established to propagate the cause of Punjabi. The introduction of the varsity Act states, ‘‘An Act to establish and incorporate a university for the advancement of Punjabi studies and development of Punjabi language as a medium of instruction.’’

It was due to this reason that university authorities were being charged with violating the provisions of this very Act through which the institution was established besides ignoring pleas to dilute the Punjabi character of the varsity.

A former University Dean, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said the university could not compare itself with Panjab University and GND varsity as it was the second university after Hebrew University to be established to propagate the cause of a language. The Punjab Kendriya Lek hak Sabha had also opposed the move.



Women panel’s head meets students, principal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 20
Punjab Women Grievances Commission Chairperson Surinder Kaur Grewal today visited the local Government Physical Education College to probe the allegations of sexual harassment against two college teachers during which she interacted with the staff and students.

Mrs Grewal said she had taken the views of a cross section of students and teachers and would present her report to the state Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, the College Principal, Dr Indu Sarwal, caught in the middle of a controversy following a demand for her ouster from a group of students who alleged that she did not take any action against Mr Kulraj Singh Gill who had been accused of sexual harassment by a girl student, also presented her case before Mrs Grewal.

Dr Sarwal claimed that she had assumed charge as Principal of the college in July, 2002, and that the second year student Rajni Thakur had met her in December, 2002 with a letter from Punjabi University along with the recommendation of the lecturer in charge. Dr Sarwal said Rajni had insisted that she be given permission for going to a camp despite not having appeared at the trials. She said in keeping with the recommendations of the lecturer in charge she had declined Rajni permission to for the camp.

The Principal said after this incident Rajni had met her in the second week of December and alleged that Mr Gill had made an indecent proposal to her. She said she had asked Rajni after giving her a patient hearing to give a representation in writing and that Rajni had submitted a representation without any material or reference regarding the allegations made by her. The Principal said Rajni had submitted in representation that she would submit further complaints in writing afterwards but that she did not submit anything.

Dr Sarwal said following this when Rajni approached the DPI, College a oneperson committee headed by Ms Manjit Tiwana which been constituted by her (Principal) with special instructions to conduct the inquiry individually and keep the proceedings confidential. She said Rajni did not appear before the committee nor did she approach her with any grouse about the committee.

The Principal said following this the student again approached the DPI who then constituted a high level inquiry committee headed by the Deputy DPI and including three local College Principals, who then held an inquiry into the matter. She said she had got the orders about suspension of two teachers implemented immediately.

Claiming that she had full sympathy for the girl student, Dr Sarwal said she was for taking strict action against the real culprit in the case. She also claimed she had at no time tried to shield any of the accused.


Students brave cold for R-Day PT show
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 20
The authorities concerned, it seems have failed to learn a lesson from the death of a student of a local private school who died while rehearsing for mass P.T. show on the last Independence day celebrations as they have pressed hundreds of students to prepare for the Republic Day parade in the biting cold.

Students have to brave dense fog and bone chilling winds.

Though the magisterial probe ordered into the death of the student who suffered sunstroke while rehearsing for the P.T. show on last Independence Day did not hold any one guilty and it also did not give reasons for the death, the authorities concerned, however, took the incident and eye opener and decided not to compromise with the health of students while taking part in P.T. rehearsals.

Mr Kaur Singh, organiser of the P.T. show, when contacted, said no student from primary classes was selected into the team of 1,700 participants of the P.T. show.

He added that the students were only asked to do physical exercises for about 45 minutes. The rehearsal was started on January 17. Today it was decided to hold the rehearsal only after the sun appeared. Now students were coming to stadium at 11 a.m.

He said the decision of sending students to take part in the P.T. show was with school heads and no students was forced to join it.

The DEO (Secondary) when contacted, said students had been participating in the rehearsal as per the decision of heads of their respective schools and the district Education authorities had no role in organising any variety show on Republic Day.

Meanwhile, the administration is not taking any chance with the security and smooth conduct of the Republic Day function to be held at sports stadium on Sunday and police personnel in uniform and plain clothes had been deployed for round-the-clock observation at the stadium.

Sources said teams having men trained and equipped with bomb detection and disposal gears had been keeping a strict vigil of the stadium. A dog squad had also been pressed into service to prevent any untoward incident.


PAP complex: teachers allowed entry
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 20
Even as the PAP authorities today allowed the entry of teachers and students into the high security PAP complex following the easing of tension after the demolition of five half-built rooms of the Government Model Senior Secondary School yesterday, the Government Teachers Union, Punjab, has demanded that the police personnel responsible for the demolition drive should be booked without further delay.

The union, at its emergency meeting held here today unanimously passed a resolution condemning the attitude of the PAP authorities. It demanded that the state government should order the registration of a case against the erring police personnel for carrying out the illegal demolition.

Mr Mohinder Ram, press secretary of the union, said certain PAP officials were doing so for the benefit of the management of a private school, which was built inside the complex by the PAP authorities about five years ago. “The state government should intervene as the future of 800 students and teachers is at stake due to the “illegal” activities of the PAP authorities,” Mr Ram added.

Meanwhile, taking a tough posture against the city journalists, the PAP authorities refused to allow entry of mediapersons into the complex for the second day. The journalists were asked to contact higher PAP officials.

When contacted, the DEO (Secondary) Mr R.R. Badhan, said the action on the part of the PAP authorities was unwarranted and he had submitted a detailed report to the Deputy Commissioner Mr K. Siva Prasad in this regard. No senior PAP official was available for comments.


Traders threaten ‘jail bharo’ stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 20
The Punjab Yuva Beopar Mandal has threatened to launch “jail-bharo” stir if the government went ahead with the proposal to implement the Value Added Tax (VAT), in the state.

Mr Ashok Garg, a state president and Mr Ashok Goyal, Secretary of the mandal, in a joint statement issued here today said that if any trader was arrested under tax rules a statewide “jailbharo” stir would be started. They said that the Punjab government was planning to implement the VAT from April this year and under certain Sections of the same (no. 45 to 62) the Sales Tax authorities had been given arbitrary powers.

They alleged that the authorities had been authorised to arrest the traders for minor mistakes and they could be imprisoned up to 40 days. 

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