Saturday, January 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Minor kidney donors vanish
They had blown lid off the racket
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 24
Even as the Special Investigating Team (SIT) probing the kidney racket has directed the district police to immediately arrest the five touts involved in the scam, active in Ludhiana, the investigations may face a major stumbling block with the three main complainants against the key accused agent, Amritpal, have disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

The labourers were all minors when they donated their kidneys. The SIT is specially focussing on donors who were minors. According to the law, only adults can donate kidneys.

The three labourers from Nepal — Sagar, Prem and Sandeep Bahadur — have gone missing. They were the first to blow the lid off the kidney racket in Ludhiana, allegedly masterminded by Amritpal Rajasthani, and caused the first arrest of a tout, Rajesh Kumar, in the case in October 2001.

Police sources and the SIT have disclosed to TNS that the police was banking largely on these three labourers for nailing Amritpal for providing more inputs to the investigators about the magnitude of the scam.

The labourers’ statement had caused quite a ruckus when they had claimed that the kidney racket was so widespread and well organised that migrant labourers in batches of 25 were brought from Nepal, UP and Bihar for kidney transplants.

However, the labourers were not available at their previous addresses and inquiries by the local police and members of the SIT show that they have disappeared. Neighbours at their previous addresses in Daba Colony say that they have not seen them for weeks.

The story narrated by the three complainants to the police, as per the case file, says that they were working as waiters on daily wages in a city hotel. The arrested tout, Rajesh Kumar, first met Sagar Bahadur and promised him a better job for which he had to undergo medical examination.

The complainant said he was kept with 25 boys at a house in the Daba road area for about a month. The other boys were brought from Delhi. Most of them were minors. He was 17 years of age then. They were taken to a hospital where they were medically examined. They were given good food and Rs 50 daily as pocket money. Sagar had said he was shocked after about a month when the accused, Rajesh and Amritpal told him he could make fast money if he donated his kidney for Rs 60,000. He said when he declined, they showed him his photographs undergoing medical examination and threatened to give the photos to the police and implicate him under the kidney transplant Act.

Sagar and the other two complainants who were operated upon in Jalandhar admitted that they were both lured by money and were also afraid of the accused. The three complainants had admitted that they were below 18 years when they donated their kidneys.


Declare kidney scamsters POs: cops
J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, January 24
To put pressure on the doctors and other accused in the Rs 100-crore kidney racket who are on the run to surrender before the Special Investigation Team (SIT), the Punjab police will approach the court to get them declared proclaimed offenders for their failure to join ongoing investigation despite issuance of summons in this regard.

Highly placed sources in the Punjab police reveal that the Additional Director-General of Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, who is heading the SIT, chaired a special meeting of the team to review the ongoing probe into kidney racket this afternoon. He issued fresh guidelines, explaining how to put a strong case with material and documentary evidence in the court.

It was decided, during the meeting, to submit an application in the court to get the five accused — Dr Bhushan Aggarwal, Dr Bhupinder Singh, Dr P.K. Jain, all of Kakkar Hospital, Amritsar, Mr Hardyal Mehta, Manager of Kakkar Hospital, and Mr Kulwinder Singh, computer operator of Dr P.K. Sareen — declared proclaimed offenders for their failure to join investigation for the past about one month.

“Though we have sent registered summons to all the accused to join investigation, which were later returned undelivered and various police parties had raided their suspected hideouts in the past 20 days, but of no avail. Obviously, declaration of PO by the court will act as a deterrent against these accused and will force them to surrender before the police,” Mr S.K. Sharma IG (Jalandhar Zone), told this correspondent.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that police parties were dispatched to Delhi and Rajasthan to nab the accused.

AMRITSAR (OC): The SIT got two days’ remand of Dr Jagdish Gargi, Professor and Head, Department of Forensic Science of Government Medical College, by the court today.

The SIT counsel claimed that Dr Gargi had confessed that he was charging Rs 15,000 while Dr O.P. Mahajan, suspended Principal of the medical college, Rs 20,000 per case for clearing the kidney transplant cases.

Both were members of the Authorisation Committee which has cleared more than 2,400 cases for kidney transplants in the past four years.

The SIT also claimed that Dr Gargi had “dumped” important documents at his native town Mansa which had yet to be recovered.

However, counsel of Dr Gargi alleged that he (Dr Gargi) was being framed in the scam, though he was only a member of the Authorisation Committee. Counsel alleged that Dr Gargi who was shown as arrested from his residence was actually detained when he appeared before the SIT yesterday.

Meanwhile, the SIT has conducted a number of raids to nab the ‘absconding’ aides of Dr Parveen Kumar Sareen, prime accused in the case.


Badal denies taking 1 cr in kidney racket
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 24
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president SAD and former Chief Minister, Punjab, yesterday criticised Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, for his failure to take action against politicians and bureaucrats indulging in immoral activities. He said had the Amarinder government taken a serious note of such acts on the part of its three Cabinet ministers in Gujarat, the present Panchkula episode would have not occurred. Mr Badal was speaking to the mediapersons at Gharangna village in the district on Thursday late evening where he had gone to inquire about the health of his ailing driver.

Mr Badal refuted the charge that he had taken Rs 1 crore in the kidney scandal. He said he was ready to face any inquiry to prove that he was innocent.


Fiscal reforms restore smile to Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
The Punjab Finance Department has reasons to smile as things are looking up deep structural imbalances persist. This is consequent to the fiscal reforms it had initiated in the current year Budget.

The Punjab suggestion to the Centre on “debt-swap’’ has been accepted and so has its ‘’medium-term fiscal reforms programme’’ as a “model’’ for the country. These two were accepted on the recommendation of the ‘empowered committee of state Finance Ministers for improving the fiscal situation in all states at a meeting in New Delhi on January 17.

A Finance Department comparison of fiscal indicators shows that the revenue receipts were up by Rs 372.85 crore and revenue expenditure down by Rs 24.48 crore as of November 2002, compared to November 2001.

Principal Secretary Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, Finance, told TNS in an interview today that the Centre had agreed in principle, to fund the proposed voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) to the tune of 50 per cent. Earlier, it was drawn up for only employees of the public sector undertakings (PSU) but now the VRS would be extended to all government employees. With the Centre stepping in, a “revolving door’’ policy would be avoided.

Mr Lakhanpal said in view of the improved financial situation departments/projects had been given money though not at the desired levels. If drinking water schemes got Rs 150 crore, the “sarb sikhya abhiyan’’ received Rs 135 crore to makeup for teachers’ deficiencies and school infrastructure. Likewise, municipalities were given Rs 60 crore and panchayati raj institutions Rs 101 crore, as per recommendations of the Second State Finance Commission.

In the social sector for books, clearing backlog of scholarships, housing projects and improving habitats of the Scheduled Castes/Backward classes, Rs 100 crore was given. Under the social security schemes, Rs 180 crore was now available for restoring old-age pension etc. effective January 1, after weeding out 400,000 “bogus’’ beneficiaries out of 1 million earlier.

Key projects of roads/bridges received Rs 125 crore and the “second push to agriculture’’ Rs 60 crore. And for the first time in several decades, the Punjab police expenditure was down by Rs 14 crore and the salary, wage and pension bill by Rs 30 crore, as per Budget estimates 2002-03. Even the adverse impact of the Pay Commission Report had stabilised.

Due to strict monitoring, Punjab was in overdraft for just 45 days in 2002-03 as compared to 200 days in 2001-02. Punjab was still struggling with “user charges’’ on social/economic services. And these had also to commensurate with “quality service’’. For this a new “multi-year’’ user charges scheme had been evolved for rural and urban drinking water, sewerage disposal, technical/professional/higher education, healthcare and transport sector etc.

About the power sector reforms, he said, “The government is not wedded to privatisation reforms or unbundling the state electricity board or privatising it for the sake of doing so. But the government is wedded to adequate, reasonable and affordable power to all categories of consumers by restructuring generation augmentation, financial/technical improvement, revamping transmission/distribution and encouraging public-private sector partnership’’.

Referring to the debt-swap, he said, it aimed at substituting high-cost debt with low-cost debt to help states which together shared a debt of Rs 219,416 crore of which high-cost debt was Rs 114,325 crore. Out of a debt of Rs 17,145 crore, Punjab’s high cost debt was Rs 14,266 crore.

The Centre had allowed each state to swap 20 per cent of its small saving collections to repay high-cost debt. Since Punjab was expected to raise about Rs 2,800 crore as small savings collections, its share was likely to be around Rs 600 crore. As the Centre had also permitted additional market borrowings to the states from a national pool of Rs 15,000 crore, Punjab expected to get another Rs 2,50 crore, which would reduce the state’s interest liability by Rs 100 crore to Rs 150 crore per annum on a continuing basis.


Revenue Patwaris’ selection hangs fire
Prem Kumar Sharma

Barnala, January 24
Thirtysix handicapped candidates shortlisted on the basis of their performance in a written test conducted on August 11, 2000 for 12 posts of Revenue Patwaris are still waiting for the completion of the selection process.

These shortlisted candidates sore over the delay in the completion of selection and posting process. They filed five writ petitions in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2000 and 2001 in this regard.

A Division Bench comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice R.C. Kathuria of the high court had stayed the operation of the impugned selection list, issuing a notice of motion to the state of Punjab and the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur on the writ petition. The petition, moved by Mr Gurinder Singh Rai and five other candidates, had alleged interference in recruitment of patwaris by a Union Minister Mr S.S. Dhindsa.

The petitioners submitted that as per the high court’s direction in a writ petition, the Punjab Government had advertised 12 posts of Revenue Patwaris for handicapped persons. On August 11, 2000, a written test was held by the Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur. Following this, list of 12 candidates was prepared by the Deputy Commissioner on August 25. But the selected candidates were not from the merit list prepared by the Deputy Commissioner, they alleged.

It was also alleged that eight of the 12 selected candidates belonged to Sunam subdivision from where Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, a son of Mr S.S. Dhindsa, was contesting an Assembly byelection.

Later, Mr Justice Jawahar Lal Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal of the high court ordered the quashing of the selection. In their judgement issued on August 29, 2002, Mr Justice Gupta and Mr Justice Grewal had ordered that “the competent authority shall now reconsider the matter and make fresh selections from among the persons who appeared in the test.”

The candidates alleged that even after more than four months of the high court judgement, nothing had so far been done in this regard by the authorities concerned.

Mr Rai, Mr Kulbir Singh, Mr Jasminder Singh and Mr Surinderpal Singh have urged Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur to initiate necessary measures to complete the selection process. They said they would also meet Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and request him to do the needful.


Golden Temple dossier handed over to Centre
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 24
A dossier for declaring the Golden Temple a world heritage site was presented to Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism, in New Delhi today.

This was stated by Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, a former general secretary, SGPC, under whose guidance the dossier was prepared, while talking to The Tribune on the telephone from New Delhi today. She said Mr Jagmohan had assured that the dossier would be submitted to UNESCO before February 1, the deadline for its submission.

Mr Vinod Khanna, Minister of State for Tourism, and Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Tourism Minister, Punjab, also accompanied Bibi Kiranjot Kaur. She said the Golden Temple could be declared a world heritage site in 2005 as two entries from India were pending with UNESCO. She said the process took a minimum of two years. The dossier, which runs into more than 400 pages, was prepared with the help of INTACH and Sikh scholars.


Sikh bodies’ plea to President
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
Bhai Ranjit Singh a former Akal Takht Jathedar today requested the German government to pressurise India into respecting the extradition treaty with its government in the case of Davinder Pal Singh awarded death sentence in a bomb blast case in a bid on Maninderjit Singh Bitta.

At a press conference here today he said Indian government was violating the international treaty under which death sentence could not be awarded to an extradite (Davinder).

In a letter to President of India, Dr Abdul Kalam he sought presidential pardon for Davinder. He also suggested to former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to use his good offices with the ruling government to commute the sentence.

Meanwhile several other Sikh organisations including the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee President Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar also appealed to the President for condoning the sentence of Davinder. He said it was sad to note that the accused of 1984 Sikh riots were given clean chit while death sentence had pronounced on Davinder.

The Punjab Human Rights Organisation’s Deputy Chairman Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa in a statement appealed to the President, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister and alleged that Sikhs were being discriminated against in this particular incident too, he added, echoing views of the SGPC. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP, in a statement termed the conviction of Davinder as political murder which would lead to alienation of Sikhs and appealed to the President to use his discretion to grant pardon to Davinder. 


Badungar writes to Kalam 
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
In a communication to the President of India, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, has urged him to get the issue relating to the acquittal of senior Congress leader Sajjan Kumar examined.

He urged President APJ Abdul Kalam to ensure that the appeal against his acquittal be filed in the high court so that justice could be done to the victims of Delhi riots. He said the government must ensure that the ‘persons responsible for shedding the blood of innocent Sikhs’ do not go unpunished.

The letter reads, “Eighteen years have gone by since then and a number of inquiry committees were instituted but one by one the accused were acquitted by the courts — the latest being Mr Sajjan Kumar”.

He alleged that the acquittal came through because of non-submission of proper evidence by the prosecution. He said his acquittal had shaken the Sikh community and had tarnished the image of the country.

He alleged that more than 4,000 innocent Sikhs were massacred in the anti-Sikh riots after the assassination of Indira Gandhi, the then Prime Minister.


Faux pas by Badungar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, in the letter addressed to President APJ Kalam has committed a faux pas. He has attributed the musings of the Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee on his recent trip to Goa.

The letter is undated.

The faux pas has made it to the desks of the Prime Minister, Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, Chief Justice of India, chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pardesh, Uttar Pradesh, Sikkim, Gujarat, Bihar, Rajasthan, Punjab, West Bengal, Himachal Pardesh, Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh.

The letter appeals to the President to ensure that government ensure that the appeal against the acquittal of Sajjan Kumar and others in the 194 riots case is filed in high court.


Board told to withdraw order
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 24
Removal of Mr Satish Chandra, an IAS officer, who had relaxed pollution control norms, from the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) became certain today with the Punjab government directing the PPCB to withdraw orders allowing rice shellers and cupola furnace owners to install Air Pollution Control Devices (APCDs) without the clearance of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology. The Council's Executive Director N S Tiwana , who had objected to the decision of the PPCB, was given additional charge of the Pollution Control Board. He joined office here today.

Highly placed sources said the Pollution Control Board under the leadership of Mr Satish Chandra had been involved in a controversy regarding the installation of APCDs by rice shellers.

They said according to a practice all APCDs were fabricated by one person based at Rajpura. He charged Rs 85,000 for fabrication of the APCD, used to give Rs 10,000 royalty per device to the Council for Science and Technology.

The sources said following this the Punjab Rice Millers Association appealed to the PPCB that a monopoly of fabrication of the APCDs had been created by the State Science Council. The Board yesterday received an order from Mr D.S. Kalha, Secretary, Science, Technology and Environment, reversing the earlier directions of the PPCB. The communication from the Secretary asked the Board to issue restoring directions to the earlier practice. It also asked it to direct the industry and fabricator to approach the Council if they were to use its technologies as per terms and conditions of the Council.

The orders also said the practice of granting consent based on certification by the Council was working very well and that the Board could not use the design of the Council without its consent. It said the government had developed low cost technology for air and water pollution control and was offering consultancy to the industry at a very nominal fee. It also said authorising the industry to install pollution devices as per design of the Council was "objectionable".

Council Executive Director N S Tiwana who took over as Chairman of the PPCB today, when questioned on this issue, said the empanelment orders issued by the Board earlier did not have any mention of the State Science Council even though all fabricators were to use technology invented by it. He said allowing all fabricators to make the devices and testing them subsequently caused problems and allowed for wrong-doing also.

Mr Tiwana also clarified that only one fabricator had been enpanelled by it earlier because no one else had responded to the tenders floated by the Board. He said the work load on the fabricator increased when the Board expressed seriousness in ensuring compliance of the pollution norms. He also claimed that the price of Rs 85,000 per device was appropriate adding that those offering lower prices were not conforming to the design of the Council.


No-confidence motion defeated
Our Correspondent

Samana, January 24
A no-confidence motion against Mr Tarsem Singla, President of the local Nagar Council, which was moved by his rival group on December 26, was defeated at a meeting of the council held here today.

The local SDM acted as observer for the purpose on the instructions of the Deputy Commissioner. The council comprises 17 Municipal Councillors and one vote is of the local MLA. However, seven councillors attended the meeting. The MLA was also absent. Hence the no-confidence motion was defeated.


Karimpuri heads Punjab BSP
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 24
Former BSP MLA Avtar Singh Karimpuri has been appointed president of the state unit of the BSP. This was stated by BSP leader Harmesh Kaul while talking to newsmen here today.

Meanwhile Bahujan Samaj Morcha’s national President S. Satnam Singh Kainth while talking to mediapersons today said Capt Amarinder Singh should boldly come forward to take stern action against those responsible for the Panchkula episode and kidney scandal.


Congress MPs to oppose move on refinery
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 24
The relations between Punjab and the Centre which had turned sour over the delay in the announcement of MSP for paddy, in the last procurement season by the Union Food Ministry and playing a “no positive role” in settling the issue of the completion of SYL canal on the basis of riparian principles, are likely to become more bitter as Congress MPs of Punjab have decided to launch an agitation against the Centre’s move to scuttle the Bathinda oil refinery project.

“All Congress MPs from Punjab will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, first and then Union Petroleum Minister Ram Naik and pressing them for fulfilling their promise and complete the Bathinda Refinery project on schedule. If their response is negative, an agitation will be launched against the betrayal of the Centre with Punjab”, declared the convener, Congress Parliamentary Group, Punjab, Mr Jagmeet Brar here today.

He alleged that the Centre had started giving motherly treatment to Punjab by playing politics on the Bathinda refinery project, which would usher an era of development and employment generation in the border state, which had borne the brunt of Indo-Pakistan wars and cross-border terrorism. “Prime Minister, Vajpayee had promised to complete it in four years when he laid the foundation stone of it on November 13, 1999, then why has he been allowing other agencies to decide on the setting up of this project. He should honour his commitment”.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, General Secretary, SAD (B) and MP, said that SAD (B) MPs would go along with Congress MPs to the PM and the other minister concerned for getting the Bathinda refinery project implemented. He added that only the Bathinda refinery project could revolutionise industrial development in Punjab and the project could not be abandoned.

The Punjab government and Congress leadership of the state was upset after a news item appeared in the dailies today that the Oil and Natural Gas Commission (ONGC) had decided not to adopt the Punjab Oil Refinery project to be executed by the Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL), as it was not viable. The ONGC took the decision after the Union Disinvestment Ministry, suggested that to facilitate the sell-off the HPCL, the state-owned Rs 9500 crore Bathinda refinery should be transferred to the ONGC so that its completion was not made an issue during bidding process of the HPCL.

The Bathinda oil refinery project has been hanging fire for the past several years. The project was conceived and 2000 acres of land for it was acquired by the then Congress government at the Centre led by Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao. Certain vested interests wanted to have the project shifted from Punjab to other state or was foiled by the then Congress MPs from Punjab. Then the HPCL could not implement this project on schedule as it failed to find partners. Though the talks with Total Fina, a French company, Exxon of the USA and Saudi Aramco of Saudi Arabia were held by HPCL management to set up this project as a joint venture, nothing came out of it.

After the Centre gave nod to the HPCL to set up the Bathinda refinery on its own, investment of Rs 400 crore was made for the same. To speed up the work, the Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, also secured an assurance from the Punjab government for extending benefits of the Sale Tax and Income Tax exemption for 15 years to the HPCL.

In the past three years after Mr Vajpayee laid the foundation stone, only a wall ringing 2000 acres of land has been erected all approach roads have been widened, land levelled and water facility provided.


Sacked cop in Vigilance net
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 24
Budh Singh, a dismissed Inspector of the Punjab police who was allegedly involved in cases of human rights violations, including the stripping of a woman in front of her son at the local police station was today arrested by a team of the Vigilance Bureau for amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Budh Singh, who was convicted in a corruption case by a Mansa court and held guilty of a number of human rights violations in departmental inquiries in the past, was arrested after a case was registered against him under Section 13 (1) E read with Section 13 (2) 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act in the Vigilance Bureau police station, Bathinda, for amassing wealth totalling Rs 16,75,329 from January 1, 1987, to December 31, 1998, which was disproportionate to his known sources of income. During this period Budh Singh had spent Rs 21,58,024 against his income of Rs 4,82,695.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), Bathinda, in a press note issued here today said the search of the house of Budh Singh was on by a team led by DSP, Mr Baldev Singh.

Registered sale deeds of properties worth lakhs of rupees, two weapons, 10 passbooks of bank accounts and more than 12 bottles of liquor had so far been seized. A separate case under the Excise Act would be registered against him.

The brutal methods used by Budh Singh came to light when he allegedly stripped a Dalit woman in front of her son in the local police station in 1997. He was suspended following a section of social and voluntary organisations held protest rallies. However, he was again appointed on a significant post after a few months in Muktsar district allegedly under political pressure.


Tejinder Pal told to be present in court
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
Allowing an application, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked former Chairman of Punjab State Subordinate Service Selection Board Tejinder Pal Singh Sandhu to be present before the trial court by February 15.

Sandhu was seeking the quashing of an order passed by a Kharar Court whereby process had been initiated to declare him a proclaimed offender. Taking up his petition, the High Court had stayed further proceedings.

Challenging the orders dated September 25, Sandhu — now in America — had earlier claimed that he had left the country on June 12 while the first information report was registered a month later. Going into the background of the case, counsel had submitted that the FIR was registered against the petitioner on the basis of a statement made by a co-accused even though the same was not admissible.

Judicial panel

A bunch of petitions and applications pertaining to the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission will come up for final disposal before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on February 7.

In one such matter, the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee had sought directions for restraining SGJC members from functioning. The committee added that the notification dated July 5, whereby another notification dated January 12, 1999, was rescinded for restoring the earlier Judicial Commission, was liable to be stayed.

Bail plea

Taking up a petition filed by Punjab MLA Ajit Singh Kohar, seeking the grant of bail in a cheating and corruption case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday fixed February 6 as the next date of hearing in the case.

He was earlier booked by the Vigilance Department in a case registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the prosecution, the petitioner, in 1999, had purchased land by way of benami transaction in Faridkot district and had also obtained five tube-well connections in the names of relatives on priority basis. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that the petitioner had been implicated in a false case. 


7-yr jail term for rapist, accomplice
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 24
A local court today awarded a seven-year jail term to a man who had lured a young girl and raped her several times, besides a woman who was a facilitator in the act. Two other accused in the case were acquitted.

The court awarded seven years’ imprisonment to Amarjit Singh, a resident of Udham Singh Nagar on the Jhill road near here and Sapna, a resident of Jujhar Nagar, in the case. Gurmail Singh and Satinder Singh, who were also accused in the case which was registered in September last year, were been acquitted.


HC orders stay on former VC’s plea
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 24
Acting on a revision petition filed by Punjabi University’s former Vice-Chancellor Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today ordered a stay on further proceedings before the trial court in an alleged harassment case against him.

Pronouncing the orders in the court on his petition against the State of Punjab and other respondents, the High Court issued notice of motion. The case will now come up for further hearing on February 24.


Expelled Pak staffers leave
Tribune News Service

Wagha, January 24
The expelled staff members of the Pakistan’s High Commission declared persona non grata (PNG) and who were told to leave India within 48 hours along with their families, today crossed over to their country.

Earlier the government of India expelled four staffers on the Pakistan’s High Commission including two diplomats on January 22 to protest against the harassment of India’s charge d’ affaires (CDA) at Islamabad, Sudhir Vyas. The staffers told to leave included Mr Manzoor Sayed Sheikh, consular, Mr Mian Mohammad Arif, first Secretary and Non-Diplomatic Staffers Mr Mohammad Tasneem Khan and Mr Sher Mohammad along with driver Rayees.

Aakhri salam, said Sher Mohammad Khan, a staffer before he crossed over to Pakistan. Wife of the staffer Sayyada Bibi carrying one-year-old son Iftikhar Ahmed in her lap, however, remained silent despite repeated questions.

He was quick to articulate his views that American phobia was responsible for tension between the two neighbours although people in Pakistan wanted amicable ties with India. He pointed out that the media could play a vital role to ease tensions between both countries.

The Pakistani staffers, including Mohammad Tasneem Khan, alleged that they were expelled under pressure from the RSS, the Bajrang Dal and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad. Replying to a question, they claimed that Pakistan had no Sikh terrorist as they were active in America.


88 posts of doctor vacant
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 24
There has been an acute shortage of doctors in hospitals and health centres in the district for the past one year. Besides, a large number of posts of trained midwives and multipurpose workers (female) have been lying vacant.

Sources in the Health Department told TNS that 88 posts of doctor (Medical Officers), including radiologist, gynaecologist and physician, had been lying vacant. The district had 259 sanctioned posts of medical officers (doctors).

The sources said that in the office of the Civil Surgeon here, a post of medical officer of health (MOH) had been lying vacant while four posts of emergency medical officers (EMOs) and a post of anaesthetist had also been lying vacant in the Civil Hospital here. In the Civil Hospital, Dhuri, a post of medical specialist and a gynaecologist, in the Civil Hospital Sunam, a post of EMO, and in the Civil Hospital Barnala, a post of radiologist had also been lying vacant. A post of a physician in the health centre, Longowal, and two posts of medical officer in the Cheema Rural Hospital had also been lying vacant.


Headmistress, clerk suspended
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 24
The DPI(S) has ordered the immediate suspension of the controversial Headmistress and the clerk of the Government High School, Sangatpur Sodian, for their alleged objectionable activities in the school premises after school hours.

During the period of suspension, the Headmistress will report for duty at Government High School, Jarag, in Ludhiana district, said Mr Gurcharan Lal, ADEO. He said the clerk had also been shifted.

Sources in the Education Department disclosed that the DEO had already recommended action against the clerk who was involved in the embezzlement of school funds. The file of the clerk was lying in the office of the DPI(S) from the past two months for necessary action. The DEO had in her inquiry report submitted to the DPI(S) had also mentioned that her office had already recommended action against this clerk in some other case and had the action been taken earlier, this incident would not had happened.

Members of village panchayat of Sangatpur Sodian had caught the Headmistress and the clerk of the Government High School red-handed while taking liquor in the school premises after the school closed. They made a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, who immediately deputed Mr M.L. Sharma, SDM Fatehgarh Sahib, to hold an inquiry.

During the inquiry the villagers recorded their statements in which they alleged that last Saturday, when the school closed at 12.30 noon both started taking liquor and at about 3 pm, the school chowkidar Salma locked the rooms of the school and did not notice them. On getting information, members of the village panchayat rushed to the school. They alleged that both were in a drunken state.

The Headmistress and the clerk had absented themselves from duty since then. Mr Gurcharan Lal, ADEO, had confirmed that during the inquiry they seized a bottle of liquor and two glasses from the classroom. Meanwhile, certain teachers’ union leaders have termed this incident to be politically motivated.


Babbar Khalsa activist detained

Amritsar, January 24
The police here detained a Britain based Babbar Khalsa International (BKI) activist as part of security measures ahead of Republic Day.

Birmingham-based Davinder Singh Nahal, who entered the country in October last year through Indira Gandhi International Airport, was staying “clandestinely’’ with a friend when nabbed yesterday, police sources said.

Security agencies are intrigued over his entry into the country in spite of a LOC (Lookout Circular) issued against him by Indian agencies.

Frequent visitor to Pakistan since mid-eighties when militancy in Punjab was at peak, Nahal (55), entered the country on a visa valid till April two, the sources added. UNI


PSEB JEs hold rally
Tribune Reporters

Gurdaspur, January 24
Atleast 125 Junior Engineers owing allegiance to the Council of Engineers, PSEB, Gurdaspur Circle, participated in a rally held here today in front of the office of the Superintending Engineer to protest against the PSEB’s privatisation. The rally was held at the call of the state unit of council and was supported by the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangh.

The main speakers who addressed the rally included Mr Pritam Singh Bhatti, Mr Joginder Singh Nanowalia Mr Baldev Singh Chahal, and Mr Tirath Singh Virdi.

MUKTSAR: The local unit of the Council of Junior Engineers of the PSEB said on Friday that the loss incurred by the board was due to the wrong policies of the management and the undue interference of politicians in its working.

The council said the PSEB was running in profit till 1997, but after that, due to the interference of the government functionaries, the board could never achieve minimum profit.

The council further said the tariff revision in the past five years was inadequate. Due to these reasons the board had suffered a loss of Rs 3,400 crore. In addition to that the board had to bear a loss of Rs 6,200 crore for giving free of cost power to the agriculture sector and subsidised power to a section of the society. 


Railway official beaten up
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 24
An official of the Engineering Department of the Northern Railway, Mr S.P. Singh Batra, was thrashed in his office today by members of the Northern Railways Employees Union.

According to information, there was a dispute between the official and the union members regarding the transfer of an employee of the engineering department, Sher Singh posted at Makhu-Jalandhar Section-14. The union wanted him to be transferred to the Ferozepore-Fazilka section and allegedly got the orders signed forcibly.

Thereafter, the union members in a fit of rage thrashed Mr Batra, Mr Batra. who was injured in the incident was rushed to the Civil Hospital.

On his complaint, a case has been registered against Mr Faqir Chand, president of the union and his two sons Ramesh and Subhash.

Meanwhile, members of the union have threatened to block rail traffic in case action was taken against the president.


MC passes resolution to rename gates
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
The local Municipal Corporation has passed a resolution to rename two historical gates of the city. The Chattiwind gate is proposed to be named after Jassa Singh Ramgarhia and the Ghee Mandi gate after Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

These gates were demolished after the partition of the country in 1947.

The Jassa Singh Ramgarhia federation has welcomed the corporation’s decision to rename the gates after two great Sikh warriors.

Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, a patron of the federation, had urged the Major to rename the gates.


Mishap due to fog kills 2
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, January 24
A collision between a jeep and a tractor trailer near Kabulshah Khuban village this morning due to fog resulted in the death of the jeep driver and a woman.

Sharda Devi (25), her son (Sonu) and her relative’s child Vicky (4) all residents of Kheowal Dhab village, and the driver of the jeep Chhotu were seriously injured. They were rushed to the local Civil Hospital where Sharda Devi, Chhotu of Hanumangarh, Rajasthan, died after some time.


Villager hurt in mine blast

Gurdaspur, January 24
A resident of the border village Thaman, identified as Kala Singh, had his one leg blown off when he stepped onto a landmine in the fields today.

A report, quoting Army sources here, said Kala Singh accidentally went into the elephantine grass where landmines had been planted last year. He stepped onto the mine and had his leg blown off.

He was admitted to the Military hospital in Tibri Cantonment where his condition was stated to be out of danger. UNI


Chemist shops raided
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 24
Following the instructions of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Dr P.D. Sharma, Civil Surgeon, along with the Drug Inspector, Mr Dinesh Gupta and the District Health Officer, Mr Rajput raided Jain Medical Hall, Bansal Medical Hall and New Paras Medical Hall and seized a large quantities of intoxicating drugs. These were being allegedly sold by chemists to drug addicts. This was stated by Dr Sharma.


Cold claims one more life
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 24
Cold wave claimed one life in this area today. Shambu, (70) died of cold weather at nearby Wajidowal village. He used to live near the “dera” of Gujjars. Earlier also, an old man died of cold weather here last week.


NRI killed in accident

Hoshiarpur, January 24
A non-resident Indian (NRI), identified as Lakhwinder Singh, was killed while his relative, Gurmukh Singh, injured when their jeep dashed against a stationary tractor-trailer from the rear near Hariana in the district last night.

A police report here today said Lakhwinder Singh, who had just returned from abroad, was driving the jeep which hit the tractor-trailer. The victim was to get married next week.

The police, after a post-mortem examination, handed over the body of the victims to his parents. UNI


Cycle patrolling in Malerkotla
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, January 24
The local police today started bicycle patrolling in the city. Addressing a press conference, the SSP, Mr A.S. Rai, said the city had been divided into 10 beats for the purpose.

A head constable and a constable have been given the responsibility of each beat. A wireless set has been given to each patrolling party. The SSP said the bicycle patrolling was aimed at the coverage of the entire city. 


Loan procedure for farmers simplified

Ropar, January 24
The Punjab Government has simplified the existing procedure for farmers, un-employed youths and other beneficiaries to get loans from village cooperative societies, banks and other financial institutions by mortgaging their land share in joint land holdings without the consent of the co-sharers.

Talking to mediapersons, Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal husbandry and Dairy Development Minister, Punjab said a majority of farmers and land owners in the state had joint land account in the revenue record and it was difficult for the one share-holder to get the consent of the other co-shareholder for mortgaging joint land for getting loans from the various government agencies.

Mr Kang said the government had removed this condition and now a farmer having joint land holding could mortgage his land share to any financial institution to get government loan. PTI


Farmers forced to pay more for fertilisers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 24
The BKU (Ekta) today alleged that the state government had imposed a 4 per cent tax on pesticides and fertilisers being sold in the state thereby putting an additional burden of Rs 400 crore on the farmers.

Mr Buta Singh Burjgill, senior leader of the union, said here today that government cooperative agencies were selling fertilisers at Rs 21 more than the prevailing price in the open market. He alleged that it was not for the first time that the co-op societies were charging more from the farmers. He said the Congress government had turned a blind eye towards its election manifesto.

He said the already debt-ridden farmers were being forced to pay for power being used for irrigation while capitalists and owners of big industries were stealing power.


4 dacoits arrested

The Patiala police here today claimed to have arrested four persons planning to conduct dacoities in the district at Nabha and recovered two rifles and two pistols from them besides some cartridges.

Stating this, district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal said the arrested persons had been identified as Karnail Singh Kaili, Armal Singh, alias Amma, Balbir Singh, alias Beera, and Lakhwinder Singh Lakhu — all residents of Bhawanigarh. He said one other member of the gang — Jagtar Singh, alias Jagga, had managed to escape.

Mr Umranangal said during interrogation, the accused had admitted that they had looted a wine shop at Dhanurki village in September 1999 and stolen rifles of two police personnel who had been sleeping on guard duty at the wine shop.

The police officer said the accused said they had acquired two pistols later and formed a gang. He said the accused admitted to looting a wine shop at Kakrala village near Samana in November, 2002, another wine shop in December the same year, a petrol pump in Rajgarh village in June, 2002, besides another dacoity at a petrol pump in Rauni village in March last year.


Bid to kidnap 5-year-old
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 24
Three persons made a bid to kidnap a five-year-old boy here last evening. However, quick action by his father, Mr Hardeep Singh, and neighbours failed the attempt and the boy was rescued. One person has been arrested in this regard while his two other accomplices escaped.

On hearing the shouts of the boy’s father, people in the area ran after the three, who left the boy there and tried to flee. However, the people caught one of the accused, Rinku of Maqboolpura locality. The other two, later identified as Sitara and Happy of the same area, however, managed to escape.


Two charas smugglers held

Gurdaspur, January 24
The district police has arrested two smugglers and recovered 1 kg of charas from them.

A police press note here today claimed that the police yesterday arrested Rajpal during a nakabandi near Gazikot village and recovered 1 kg of charas from him. He revealed that he had purchased the charas from Krishan Kumar, a beetle seller at Jasoor village of Noorpur district in Himachal Pradesh. A trap was laid and Krishan Kumar was caught red-handed. UNI


Teachers to get salaries after seven months
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 24
The Punjab Government has ordered the payment of salaries to teachers working in the state under a Centre-sponsored scheme, “Operation Blackboard, for the high and primary schools”. These teachers have not received the salaries for the past seven months.

Sources in the Education Department said more than 1,300 teachers had been imparting education the students in government middle and high schools under the scheme. As many as 1,353 posts of teacher, including 105 in Sangrur district, had been created by the government under the scheme. Similarly in other districts 74 social science teachers, 18 mathematics teachers and 13 Punjabi teachers have not received their salaries since June, 2002 they added.

In its order the authorities concerned have ordered that the arrears salaries be paid to the teachers immediately, if the requisite funds were available.


Recounselling for BDS courses ends
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 24
A three-day recounselling of candidates for admission to BDS courses in nine government and private dental colleges of Punjab conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences (BFHUS), Faridkot, concluded here today. More than 850 aspirants appeared in the interview. A five member team of experts headed by Dr A.S. Gill Principal, Dental College, Amritsar looked after the admission process. This was stated here today Dr Gill, chairman of the committee.

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