Sunday, January 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Action against Joshi too little, says Badal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The three-point order issued by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, after a day-long deliberations yesterday has failed to ring down the curtain on the Panchkula episode".

While the leader of the Opposition and the Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has described the action as "too little, too late and under too much of political pressure", Mr Umrao Singh, a senior Congress leader and former Punjab Minister, said that "delayed action of the Chief Minister has failed to salvage the pride of this forward looking state".

"Every Punjabi is feeling hurt. The pride of the state has suffered immensely. The unfortunate episode has become the talking point not only in the whole country but overseas also where the Indian diaspora in general and Punjabis in particular were feeling terribly upset over all this ," said Mr Umrao Singh in a telephonic conversation with The Tribune this afternoon.

"The Government should have come down heavily on those involved in the whole episode and announced some drastic measures to send a strong message down the line that such a behaviour would attract the strictest possible administrative action," said Mr Umrao Singh holding that the three-point order appears to be a "diluted and delayed" action on something which has made the Punjabis in general and the administrative set up hang its head in shame.

The general impression that political affiliations have come in the way of the handling of the situation on merit has been strengthened by the three-point order, he added.

Mr Umrao Singh further felt that "instead of putting a lid on the whole episode with a strong administrative action", the order unwittingly permits it to linger on, more in media, in anticipation of the report to be submitted by the Financial Commissioner, Revenue after a fortnight.

The Shiromani Akali Dal President , Mr. Parkash Singh Badal, said, that if the Chief Minister took four days to order a simple action, in a matter involving the honour and dignity of a high ranking officer in the state, one wondered what justice the common man could expect from such a government.

The Akali leader further said that it was shocking that the Chief Minister had to wait till extreme pressure from the Opposition, the IAS Association and even his own party high command before deciding to send his "blue-eyed boy" on leave. This showed the degree of laxity and indulgence that the present government displayed towards those in and around the Chief Minister's circle, he added.

The Akali chief asked Captain Amarinder Singh to explain why he had given a clean chit to Mr Mukul Joshi when he was confronted with irrefutable media and other evidence. "Far too many questions remain to be resolved and the people of Punjab would not sit quiet till the whole truth behind the episode is brought to light and the guilty and their political patrons are punished," Mr Badal said.


Ratras satisfied

Mr Ratra said that he was “satisfied” with the order. “Our honour has been restored,” he added saying that Mr Bhagat Singh was told by the Chief Minister to start working on his report immediately. He said that the decision about giving charge of industries, excise and taxation departments would be taken after he met the Chief Minister.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhagat Singh said that he got the orders late in the evening yesterday and would start working from Monday. “There are no terms of reference for this report. We will probably go by sequence of events and submit our report ,” he added.


Kidney racket: govt no to CBI probe
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, January 25
Rejecting the demand of various political parties and medical associations for a CBI probe into the Rs 100 crore kidney racket, the Punjab Health Minister today asserted that the state government was satisfied with the ongoing probe being conducted by the Special Investigation Team (SIT) and there was no need to refer the matter to the central agency.

Talking to reporters at the Circuit House here, the minister said the government was preparing a comprehensive draft to effect major amendments to the Organ Transplantation Act.

When asked about the harassment being faced by patients due to alleged refusal of doctors to conduct kidney transplants in the absence of clear government guidelines in this regard, the minister said the issue would be resolved soon. He denied having any link with the main accused in the kidney racket.

PHILLAUR: Former BJP MLA, Prof Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, has expressed surprise over the enquiry initiated by the Special Investigating Team in much publicised Kidney racket. Talking to this correspondent here on Saturday evening Professor Chawla urged the state government to adopt the right path, if it really wanted to expose those involved in racket. She said it had came to light that several ministers, former ministers, MLAs, former MLAs, police officials had purchased kidneys for their relatives and the government should take action against them.

She urged the government to make proper arrangements for the treatment and care of kidney donors and added that the government should enact a law for those donating kidney.

HOSHIARPUR: The Punjab Pradesh Samata Party has demanded action against those influential persons at whose behest an earlier inquiry was quietly buried. The inquiry was conducted by Capt P. S. Shergil, Public Grievance Officer, in 1995, after the death of Balwinder Kumar, who underwent kidney transplantation at Kakkar Hospital, Amritsar.

Mr Inderjit Singh Saini, president, and Mr Balbir Singh Grewal, chairman, Parliamentary Board of the party, in a joint press note issued here on Saturday said that Capt Shergil had recommended that CBI probe be ordered in the kidney transplantation cases and had declared that Dr Parveen Sareen and Dr Harsharan Kaur were negligent while performing their duties as no AIDS test was done on Jagmohan who donated his kidney to Balwinder.

The Samata Party appreciated the role of media and Satya Pal Dang in unveiling the racket. The party has decided to honour Kanwar Vijay Partap Singh, police officer, for arresting the middleman involved in the kidney racket.

AMRITSAR: Even as the Indian Medical Association expressed its deep anguish over the arrest of Dr Parveen Sareen and Dr O.P. Mahajan, the speakers including doctors, lawyers and intellectuals who addressed the meeting, organised by the CPI here on Saturday sought strict action against all those involved in the racket.

Dr Baljit Singh Dhillon, a leader of the Government Medical and Dental Teachers Association, while speaking on the occasion said it was the medical fraternity which had opposed the enactment of the Human Organ Act as it apprehended that it (the Act) could be misused by some vested interests. He, however, said only doctors were being singled out while framing cases by the Special Investigation Team whereas other categories were being left out for the reasons best known to the police.

Mr Lakhwinder Singh Randhawa, a lawyer, said inclusion of the clause ‘donating kidney out of love and affection’ had provided loophole for the authorisation committee which was exploited by some vested interests.

Meanwhile, the secretary of the IMA, Dr Bhola Singh Sidhu, alleged that Dr Jagdish Gargi, Professor and Head, Forensic Sciences, was framed in the kidney racket as he was aspirant for the coveted post of Principal, Medical College, and Director, Research and Medical Education.


Dang’s disclosure ‘partial’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The Punjab Nephrology Society has taken exception to the statement issued by veteran Communist leader, Mr Satya Pal Dang, and challenged him to come out with facts about the Mehar Chand case and other kidney transplant cases.

The Secretary of the Society, Dr Navdip Singh Khaira, has said in a written statement that Mr Satya Pal Dang had misquoted facts of Mr Mehar Chand’s case. The high court order mentioned in the news item was in response to a petition filed by Dr Parveen Sareen to get “set aside the impugned order” of the Judicial Magistrate.

The High Court not only “set aside impugned order” but also directed the lower court to complete the investigation within four months . But Mr Dang had made partial disclosure of facts, said Dr Khaira.

Mr Dang has said that Mr Mehar Chand never ever mentioned Dr Parveen Sareen’s name in his original complaint. Dr Sareen’s name was dragged by Captain Shergill , the enquiry officer, probably under political pressure.

For this reason an inquiry had also been initiated against Captain Shergill. The comments of the inquiry officer should also have been disclosed by Mr Dang, said Dr Khaira.

He further said that the patient got HIV through infected kidney has been never proved.

Does Mr Dang deny that Mr Mehar Chand bought a kidney through an agent/middleman from Delhi?

As per law should not such people be arrested before arresting the doctors, Dr Khaira questioned.


Jethmalani’s plea to human rights body
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
In less than two weeks after the great kidney conspiracy was unearthed, former Law Minister-cum-senior advocate Ram Jethmalani has asked a human rights organisation here to take steps for providing medical attention to the “victims” after their release from jail custody, lest the state was guilty of human rights violation.

In a letter to Justice A.S. Bains — retired Punjab and Haryana High Court Judge-cum-Chairman of Punjab Human Rights Organisation — the former minister, along with other human rights activists, has asserted that apparently the poor victims of exploitation, compelled to sell their kidneys to save themselves from starvation, had further been victimised by being imprisoned.

Some of them, they added, appeared to be in urgent need of medical attention. The organisation as such should take immediate steps to release them from jail custody and provide them with medical care “otherwise the state would be guilty of the grossest human rights violation”.

It was added that the estimated value of the kidney racket was Rs 100 crore. As many as 1,922 transplants had taken place in Amritsar, while 650 had taken place in Delhi, since 2000.


Punjab IMA seeks parent body’s help
Tribune Reporters

Sangrur, January 25
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) yesterday sought the help of its parent association for ensuring an impartial and transparent probe into the multi-crore kidney scam in Punjab.

Dr Surinder Singla, state secretary of the IMA, said the Punjab unit had written a letter to Dr S. Arul Rhaj and Dr Sanjiv Malik, national president and secretary-general, respectively, of the IMA, in this regard.

The Punjab unit has asked them to persuade the Union Government and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to direct Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to order an inquiry by the CBI or a sitting Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into the kidney scam in view of the alleged involvement of some politicians and officials.

The Punjab IMA has also urged the IMA’s national president and secretary-general to seek amendments to the “Transplantation of Human Organs Act so that nobody could misuse its provisions. It has also sought guidelines for donors and recipients of kidneys, authorisation and attestation authorities in the Act to check its misuse.

HOSHIARPUR: Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, on Friday urged Mr A. A. Siddiquie, Additional Director-General (Law and Order) and OSD to the Punjab Chief Minister, to take strict action against public notaries, oath commissioners and magistrates who had attested false affidavits of kidney donors and recipients after the enactment of the Act.

Mr Channi said the SAD-BJP government, under the chief ministership of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had not taken action against the persons involved in the trading of human organs.


Expelled mission staffers back home
Our Correspondents

Wagah (Indo-Pak border), January 25
The four staffers of the Indian High Commission who were expelled from Pakistan narrated their tale of trauma to newsmen immediately after reaching the Wagah joint checkpost today.

Under threat from Pakistan’s ISI for the past many days, Mr Vipin Handa, counsellor in the High Commission at Islamabad, said they along with their families were being stalked by motorcyclists or car-borne sleuths of Pakistan agencies. Despite strong protests lodged by the High Commissioner, Mr Sudhir Vyas, with the Pakistan Foreign Office over the physical and mental torture inflicted on diplomatic and other staff members, efforts to improve the situation were stonewalled which made them feel extremely insecure. He said the Pakistan Foreign office ordering their expulsion had provided them with relief and they were happy to return to their homeland.

Mr Handa said the Indian staffers were subjected to physical and mental torture by the security and intelligence agencies for the past couple of months. He added that such incidents would adversely affect the Indian move to promote Indo-Pak diplomatic ties at the High Commissioner level. They would also hamper the move to bring about peace between the two neighbours.

Answering questions of mediapersons, they emphatically pointed out that the harassment meted out to the Indian diplomatic staff was being perpetrated at the behest of the Pakistan government and could not have been done by the security agencies only.

When asked about Pakistan’s allegation of involvement in activities incompatible with their status-diplomatic code for spying, he said. “How does the question of indulging in such activities arise when we were not allowed to meet anyone.” He added that even Pakistanis could not interact with them as they too were harassed if they tried to meet them.

On the status of minorities in Pakistan, Mr Handa said their condition was most deplorable as the government had enacted laws which persecute minorities.

Talking about the conditions of the historic Sikh gurdwaras in Pakistan, the diplomatic staff said with the exception of Nankana Sahib and Panja Sahib gurdwaras, the other shrines were in a dilapidated condition. Mr Handa pointed out that the Pakistan Government was responsible for the sad condition of these holy Sikh shrines as it had not spent any money on their upkeep and renovation.

The other staffers who returned today are Mr R.P. Singh, Second Secretary, Mr Vakil Ramdas, Attache, and Mr P. Sundram, staffer. They were declared persona non grata and ordered to leave the country within 48 hours on January 23.

Mr Handa said their families had been allowed one more week to return to India.

Meanwhile, the two expelled Pakistani staffers left for their country late last evening.


Capt ready to fire another salvo against Dhumal
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is ready with “material” to launch another political attack against Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal.

Informed sources said today that Capt Amarinder Singh has collected details about the “property” alleged to be owned by Mr Dhumal’s family at Jalandhar and also in other parts of the region. These would be made public after the green signal from the Congress High Command.

Capt Amarinder Singh and his ministers have been asked to play a pivotal role in the Assembly election campaign in Himachal Pradesh by the high command. A number of ministers from Punjab have been deputed to supervise campaign in various districts of Himachal.

On the other hand, the Punjab state unit of the BJP has also marshalled its resources to counter Capt Amarinder Singh’s campaign. A senior leader of the BJP said that” we would be supplying a lot of political ammunition to Mr Dhumal against Capt Amarinder Singh in days to come”

In fact, while addressing a public rally at Shimla, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, president, Punjab unit of the BJP, set the tone of attack to be made against Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Rinwa said that the Government in Punjab was facing a serious moral crisis because it failed to manage its affairs on all fronts. Photo copies of newsitems pertaining to the Panchkula episode and reports regarding alleged “adventures” of Punjab ministers in the Gujarat Assembly elections were being freely circulated in Himachal Pradesh.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh has apprised the Congress High Command about the details of the property of Mr Dhumal’s family. Earlier, speaking at election rally at Hamirpur a few days ago, Capt Amarinder Singh had accused Mr Dhumal of building property worth Rs 25 crore in Jalandhar. Taking the cue from Capt Amarinder Singh, both senior Congress leaders — Mr Virbhadra Singh and Mrs Vaidya Stokes have played up the property issue.


Engineers to oppose PSEB privatisation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 25
The PSEB Engineers Association today resolved to oppose the Haldea Committee move to privatise the PSEB.

President of the association, M.S. Bajwa said that the IAS lobby was behind the move. Mr Padamjit Singh who was removed as Chief Engineer, System-Operation said that recent agreement with a private company for the supply of 100 mw from Orissa had failed to give even single unit till date since December last year. He said that the government signed agreement with private power company, Kerpal which was to supply power verification of its genuineness led to his transfer.

He added that bureaucrats were favouring the said firm due to its political clout as they belong to erstwhile royal family of Kapurthala.

Backing the association he said that power privatisation did not succeed Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, UP, New Delhi and Orissa.

The association said that the state which had privatised the power sector Rs 4 to Rs 5 per unit while Punjab was the only state which was able to give power at Rs 3 per unit.

The Association demanded a white paper on the privatisation of power and a debate on the issue as done by Maharashtra before the privatisation drive.

The association said bureaucrats scuttled the expansion of Lehra Mohammad phase II by not providing guarantee for loan from the Power Finance Corporation.

The association mentioned that free power to agriculture sector in 1997 to 2002. amounts to Rs 8000 crore. The government did not compensate the PSEB for this although the regulatory authority had asked the government to provide relief for free power supply. Besides the board suffered 100 crore loss annually for giving free power to Scheduled Castes families.

Average tariff hike allowed was only 4.6 per cent in the past five years while the cost of generation and distribution had gone up over rupee one per unit.


No power to Cable TV operators
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
Residents of the city were surprised today when cable TV operators switched off relay allegedly due to disconnection of power by the power board authorities.

Sources said that PSEB authorities had served notices on City Cable and its associates to paying up pending power bill and rent for using electricity poles of the PSEB. The sources said that 60 sub dealers of the City Cable network have also been asked to pay Rs 5,000 Rs 7,000 each for using the electric poles for private business.

The cable operators owe lakhs to the PSEB and power was disconnected to them two days ago but they continued to relay the TV channels using power generators. They also gave advertisements in the TV sounding viewers on the discontinuation of their services from January 25. The sources said that the cable operators did not have the permission to use the power generators also. The PSEB sources said cable operators owe the board Rs 2.83 lakh.

A section of the subdealers of the cable network affected by the discontinuation of the services, said that they had been paying the requisite fee to the main operators. They alleged that while the main dealer had been hiking connection charges at frequently, it was also his (the main dealer’s) duty to pay such charges as had been asked for by the PSEB authorities. They regretted that the trouble had been caused on the eye of Republic Day and apologised that viewers would not be able to watch the Republic Day parade via the cable TV or the local function to be held at sports stadium.

Meanwhile the Income Tax authorities are also reported to have made raids on the offices and residential places of a section of cable operators, who had not been paying any Income Tax despite making money by ‘looting’ the cable TV subscribers, who do not have any say in the monopolistic market.

The sub-dealers on the other hand said that they had just reached a stage of break even in business and added that they were paying Rs 25 lakh as fee every month to the main operator. Services would be resumed after the present problem was sorted out with the PSEB authorities.


PU to offer Law at Ludhiana
Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Panjab University has decided to commence degree classes in Law at the University Extension Library situated at Ludhiana from the forthcoming academic session(2003-2004).

Reliable sources said that a decision to this regard had been cleared by a high-powered committee of the university. However, the matter needs a formal clearance from the university Senate that is scheduled to meet in March. The decision comes in as a welcome respite to students wishing to pursue Law degree from the entire Ludhiana region who were earlier competing for limited seats in the city and the regional centre of the university at Muktsar.

Importantly, the course is being started on a self-financing basis. The faculty will also be managed from the same amount. Mr Lajpat Rai, Member of Parliament from Ludhiana, had promised a donation of Rs one crore from the MP fund to assist in the establishment of the centre for the law course.

The committee members who attended the meeting under the chairmanship of Prof K.N.Pathak, the Vice-Chancellor, included Mr Gopal Krishan Chatrath, Prof R.D. Anand, Principal Harmeet Kaur, Mr Rajinder Bhandari, Mr Satish Sharma, Mr Mukul Arora, Prof V.K.Bansal, Prof Veer Singh, Prof Bal Krishan, the Registrar, and the FDO.

Admission to the course will be based on an entrance test to be conducted by the university. The university has decided to call the Ludhiana centre as an extension of the department located in the city because it is felt that getting recognition as an independent institution was not an easy task. The university faced a lot of hardship while getting an affiliation of the Bar Council for the centre located at Muktsar. Students had to face a lot of uncertainty regarding recognition of their course which put their career at stake.

The university has decided to charge Rs 30,000 annually from the students as annual fee. This will be besides the other funds charged by the university. Students will be expected to deposit Rs 20,000 in the first instalment. The students admitted in the NRI quota will be charged $ 2000 annually besides other funds.


Punjab BSP to be reconstituted
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 25
The state unit of the Bahujan Samaj Party, Punjab will be reconstituted at the block, district and state levels, with instructions and directions of the party high command in March and the party will be strengthened to capture power in the state.

This was stated by Punjab BSP president Avtar Singh Karimpuri while talking to this correspondent after his appointment here yesterday. He said all block, district and state-level units of the party had been dissolved by the high command. He said Uttar Pardesh Chief Minister Mayawati had been appointed BSP Punjab affairs in charge by party supremo Kanshi Ram.

When asked about the party’s participation in the next municipal elections scheduled to be held in March, he said the party would contest the elections and the strategy for this would be finalised soon. However, he did not explain about any alliance with any party in the coming municipal elections.


Harbhajan Mann joins Lok Bhalai Party
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 25
Punjabi pop singer Harbhajan Mann joined the Balwant Singh Ramoowalia-led Lok Bhalai Party today.

“I do not find any other political party which really works for the betterment of downtrodden and the common man,” he said on his jumping in to the political arena. “At present I am completely engaged in the singing profession but I will spare at least two days a month for party works,” he said, adding that he would encourage the youth to join the party at his stage shows.

Later, talking to reporters, Mr Ramoowalia cautioned that the SYL canal issue could breed terrorism in Punjab and demanded the scrapping of the Rajiv-Longowal accord in this connection. “If Punjab’s share of river water is taken from it, there is a possibility of terrorism once again raising its head in the state.” he told reporters here.


Officials stay away from PTDC function
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 25
A function to mark National Tourism Day was organised at the PTDC complex here today. Though it was for the first time that the tourism day was observed in the state, most of the higher officials of the PTDC stayed away from the function.

Sources reveal most of the higher officials did not attend the function due to their diminishing interest in the organisation keeping in view the move to privatise the corporation.

Even the Punjab Tourism Minister, Mr Ashwani Sekri, who was to preside over the function, decided against attending it. In his absence, the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, presided over the function.

Speaking on the occasion, she said the Punjab Government had formed the Punjab Heritage and Tourism Board to promote tourism in the state and the PTDC had developed tourism programme of one to two days for the students and other tourists visiting Punjab to promote the state as a tourist destination.

She said the district administration was also planning to exploit the potential of Nangal and Anandpur Sahib as tourist destinations. The administration had directed the Nangal Municipal Council to develop a picnic spot on the banks of the Sutlej, the work for which would be started soon.

On the occasion, the local PTDC authorities organised quiz and painting competitions. The winners in the competitions were given prices by the Deputy Commissioner. In the quiz competition, Gurdeep Singh and Rakesh Kumar of Power Colony School stood first, Karamjit Singh and Nirmal Kumar of Tibba Nangal School were second and Gurdev Kaur and Manoj Kumar of Government College, Ropar, bagged the third prize.

In the painting competition, Punita and Sarabjit Kaur of Government School Ropar got the first position, Navjot Kaur and Jeet Ram of Government School, Ghanauli, were second and Namita of Holy Family School and Amandeep Saini of Shivalik School, Ropar stood third.

The ADC, Mr Vikas Garg, the SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, the DTO, Mr Navjeet Johl, and the manager of the local PTDC complex, Mr Surjeet Singh Saini, were also present.


Govt to consider job  quota for artists
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
Punjab Education Minister Khushal Behl said yesterday that the government would consider giving reservation to outstanding cultural artists in jobs as given to sportspersons.

The minister was reacting to a demand regarding this raised the Director, Youth Welfare, Punjabi University, Prof Daljit Singh. He said this issue would be taken up at the government level by him. He said some other kind of weightage could also be given to student artists who had excelled in cultural activities at the university and inter university levels.

Mr Behl said attempts should also be made to organise national level cultural activities in the universities of the state in order to project the cultural aspect of the state as well as to forge friendships. Earlier, the Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university Dr R N Pal and Prof Daljit Singh also spoke on the occasion. Prof Daljit Singh highlighted the activities of the university in various zonal and national level youth festivals.

Meanwhile, the overall championship in the Inter-Zonal Youth festival which concluded in the Punjabi University campus here was lifted by the Government College of Girls, Patiala, followed by Government College, Malerkotla which got the runners up shield. The overall trophy for Fine Arts was also lifted by GCG, Patiala during competitions held today.


12 high-mast lights to be installed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
Twelve high-mast lights are being installed in the city ahead of the Patiala Heritage festival, being organised from February 14 onwards.

The lights, which will come up at a cost of Rs 23 lakh, will be installed at N I S chowk, Y.P.S. Chowk, Thikriwala chowk, Leela Bhavan, Children Memorial chowk, Thapar Institute of Engineering, Bus stand, Rajpura chowk, Dukniwaran and the main octroi post on the Rajpura road.

Besides, lighting of all prominent buildings in the city is also being done. These include the Punjab State Electricity Board building, the State Bank of Patiala building as well as other heritage properties in the city. While the Patiala Development Authority (PDA), which is organising the heritage festival along with INTAC, has pursuaded both organisations to install lights to beautify their facade, the authority is also going in for lighting as well as sprucing up other heritage properties.

Sources said Quila Mubarak and Sheesh Mahal would also be lit up during the festival. Besides, men are at work at both these places to spruce up the buildings. The PDA is also going in for extensive repair of the Archives Building, which was earlier known as Rajindra Kothi, as it was built by Maharaja Rajinder Singh in the heart of the Baradari Gardens.

Meanwhile, the administration has also stepped up work on the beautification of the Fountain chowk as well as the Gandhi Memorial along with the Rajindra tank in the city. Both these works are stipulated to be completed by February 5. Besides, a number of roads are being broadened. These include roads in the Baradari garden, those adjoining the Passi road and also near other heritage sites.

Meanwhile, the Municipal Corporation has asked the private contractor, to whom it had given the contract for the maintenance of all streetlights in the city, to ensure that all lights are in working condition. According to Municipal Corporation sources, the contractor is to be paid Rs 36 lakh for the maintenance of streetlights with the stipulation that he would be fined Rs 50 per hour penalty for each streetlight, which is not repaired within 24 hours. The corporation has on its part decided to install telephones which will be manned by its staff to record complaints regarding the non-functioning of streetlights in the city. One Sub Divisional Officer (SDO) has also been directed to check all streetlight points at night to ascertain their functioning.

Meanwhile, Mayor Vishnu Sharma said that Rs 1 crore was being spent on improving the living conditions in slum bastis of the city. He said 37 slum bastis had been identified for the purpose and a detailed survey was conducted. He said besides this, Rs 1 crore had been received for conducting work on solid waste management, water supply and sewerage before March 31. The corporation is also buying modern machinary besides trolleys and bins to further augment its facilities, the Mayor said.


Sidhu challenges Jagman’s statement
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 25
In a new development in the corruption case against former Chairman of the PPSC Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, his counsel today challenged the statement of Jagman, one-time associate of Sidhu, as approver in the case.

The case came up today in the court of Special Judge Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, for evidence on the statement of Jagman as approver. Counsel for Sidhu in an application moved before the Judge, however, asserted that Jagman being a co-accused in the case could not issue the statement as approver under Section 306 of the CrPC.

The judge fixed January 29 as the next date of hearing in the case.


Babbar Khalsa activist spent 6 months in Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 25
The UK-based Babbar Khalsa activist, Devinder Singh Nahal, who was arrested by the Amritsar police from a religious dera, had spent at least six months in Pakistan in connection with kar seva at Gurdwara Singh Singhnian.

Nahal told his interrogators that he was a close associate of Birmingham-based Babbar Khalsa leader Avtar Singh Sanghera.

He along with Sanghera had collected huge funds for the kar seva in the past. However, the kar seva was abandoned following protests by some fundamentalist Muslims in Pakistan.

Sources point out that Nahal entered India on a valid visa. However, it is intriguing how he could enter despite the fact that a “black list” is displayed at international airports of the country.

According to UNI, Nahal is being deported to the UK because his activities could “harm internal security’’ in the country.

Nahal was yesterday handed over to the Foreigners Registration Office here by the police. The Bureau of Immigration today took him to Delhi for deportation, police sources said.

Nahal, (55), had entered the country in October last year through Indira Gandhi International Airport, the sources said, adding he flew into the country by a British Airways flight.


‘Commute’ Bhullar’s death penalty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and former SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, in two separate letters have appealed to the President of the country to commute the death sentence of Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, who is lodged in Tihar Jail in a bomb blast case.

Mr Badungar said Bhullar had been condemned to death sentence though there was no direct evidence against him. He was innocent, Mr Bhdungar, claimed in the letter.

Drawing the attention of the President, Mr Badungar has raised a point that Bhullar was deported from Germany, a European country and as per rules and regulations, a person deported or extradited from the European country could not be sentenced to death. He said the Sikh community was dismayed over the fact that very heinous crimes were committed against Sikhs in Delhi and elsewhere in 1984 in which involvement of politicians and bureaucrats was apparent, but no one was punished.

Similar views have been expressed by Mr Tohra in his letter to the President. He said justice should be given to Bhullar by doing away his death sentence and freeing him from the jail as there was no evidence against him in the blast case. Such an act on the part of the President would restore the faith of the Sikh community in the judiciary of the country, Mr Tohra has stated.


Centre ‘to mediate’ on SYL
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 25
BJP leader and in charge of Punjab party affairs Sanghpriya Gautam today said the Centre would try to resolve the SYL canal issue between Punjab and Haryana through mediation in line with the Supreme Court ruling on the issue.

He was talking to newsmen here along with party’s Delhi Pradesh general secretary Mool Chand Chawla and district president Ram Kumar Goel. Mr Gautam, however, did not clarify how the issue could be resolved in line with the Supreme Court order when all political parties in Punjab had different views on the issue.

When asked how the Union Government would resolve the issue through mediation, Mr Gautam said the Centre would work on the same pattern as in case of the Cauvery river dispute.

Mr Gautam also spoke to party workers of six districts on the occasion. He said the party was following a three-pronged strategy of going to the villages, undertaking a membership drive and bringing in changes at the grass roots level to make the BJP more effective in Punjab.

Mr Chawla said the Congress had come to power in Punjab on the plank of corruption but in just 10 months, it was facing issues involving moral corruption.

Several other party leaders, including Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, Mr Avinash Jaiswal, Mr Bhupesh Aggarwal and Mr Ganni Dhillon, also spoke on the occasion.


‘Anti-police repression day’ to be observed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
The CPI will observe “anti-police repression day” when the bhog ceremony of 10-year-old Chetan,who was killed because of alleged custodial torture a few days ago, will be held at Jalandhar.

This was announced today by Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab unit of the CPI. Dr Dayal said it was a most barbaric act on part of the Jalandhar police and all right thinking people should unite against such actions of the police.

It is not the first time that the torture in police custody has claimed an innocent life. Punjab has witnessed a rising graph of such deaths in police custody in recent years and all of us need to raise our voice against this trend, Dr Dayal said.

He said the Jalandhar incident was more condemnable because it involved the death of an innocent poor boy and serious injuries to another. One can imagine the extent of insensitiveness of police officials who interrogated these boys by raining lathi blows on them and later tried to disposed of their bodies on the roadside in a most criminal fashion. It was good fortune of one of the boys that he survived while the other succumbed to police torture.

He said that police had not only been politicised but also being systematically “ personalised” by political godfathers, who manage postings for police officials in the field.

The most unfortunate aspect was that the so-called human rights organisations, which raise their voice even on petty issues, failed to adequately respond to the Jalandhar incident. Even leaders like Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who misses no opportunity to criticise the police for human rights violations, have failed to lead from the front in the Jalandhar case by remaining silent on the issue.

He said a meeting of the party’s executive members from the Doaba region would be held on January 27 at Jalandhar to chalk out a programme for observing the “anti-police repression day”.


Rs 3.5 cr for village development
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 25
Mr Vikas Partap, Deputy Commissioner, said here today that Rs 3.5 crore would be spent in Fatehgarh Sahib district under Integrated Rural Development Programme in the current financial year.

He said that 20 villages of all the five blocks — Amloh, Bassi Pathana, Khumanon, Khera and Sirhind — would be developed as model villages under the scheme, where all modern facilities would be provided.

Giving details of the scheme, the Deputy Commissioner said all streets would be paved. Besides, sewerage would be provided and a biogas plant in each village would be set up. He said that photovoltaic biomas and windmills in an integrated grid system would be used to ensure 24-hour electricity supply.


Ex-Servicemen Helpline launched

Jalandhar, January 25
The Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman, Lt Gen Surjit Singh Sangra (retd), inaugurated Ex-Servicemen Helpline under Vajra Corps at Military Hospital here today.

The helpline will provide services for the welfare of ex-servicemen, their families and of martyrs. It will provide latest information on benefits and entitlements to ex-servicemen.

It will help next of kin for passage of speedy information in case of an emergency, locate and inform about well-being of serving personnel deployed for counter-insurgency or other operations. The helpline will be a link to provide forms or addresses of various officers and resolve problems related to pension and claims. It will also coordinate for jobs with placement cells.

For welfare of patients, it will arrange ambulances, vans and hearse vans on payment at subsidised rates to needy ex-servicemen and their widows or dependants.

Maj Gen R.S. Jamwal, Chief of the Staff Vajra Corps, said the helpline would function round the clock in the hospital and would provide all type of information with regard to resettlement of retired officers, JCOs and jawans. UNI


Shifting of Jalandhar DD
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 25
Toeing the lines of its alliance partner SAD (Badal), the state unit of the BJP yesterday openly opposed the idea of shifting of the news section of DD Kendra from Jalandhar to Chandigarh.


MC staff wear black badges
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 25
Employees of the local Municipal Council today wore black badges in protest aginst the non-payment of salary for December.

They said they would also wear black badges during the Republic Day celebrations tomorrow to stress their demands.


Body found at railway station
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 25
The body of man was found late last night from the railway station, the post-mortem examination of which was conducted here today at the local Civil Hospital.

Mr Sham Murari, spokesman of a local NGO, in a press note said they were informed by passengers about the body. He said the body was later handed over to the GRP authorities.


Two defaulting farmers held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 25
The Primary Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank in the district has arrested two farmers Balwant Singh of Joga and Jagtar Singh of Gharangna village in the district and sent them to judicial jail at Bathinda for defaulting in loan payments.

The arrest warrants were taken by the bank from the Assistant Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Mr Hernak Singh. Earlier, the bank had arrested three farmers. Of the five arrested farmers three had paid the loan amount and their release warrants were issued by the authorities concerned. Two farmers were yet to make the payment.

Mr Joginder Mann, branch manager, told The Tribune here today that Rs 33.64 crore were due and recoverable in the district from 22,969 persons. Mr Mann disclosed that no defaulter would be spared and the recovery would be effected strictly according to law.

Meanwhile, Mr Ruldu Singh, senior vice-president of the BKU (E), has warned the bank authorities to stop the arrests of the farmers who were already facing hardships due to the wrong policy of the state and Union governments.

He threatened agitation in this regard. He further said the union leaders would meet the district officials in this regard.


Engineers’ union flays EPF order
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 25
The PSEB Engineers Association has flayed the order of the EPF authorities regarding the attachment of the bank account of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant.

In a press statement issued here today the joint secretary of the association, Mr S.C. Chaba, alleged that the current move of the EPF authorities violates the order of the EPF Tribunal.

In 2000 also in a similar case the EPF authorities had attached the bank account of the thermal plant, which had then moved the EPF Tribunal against the attachment. The tribunal had referred the matter back to the RPFC, Chandigarh, and directed it to decide as to who was the principal employer’ of the contract labourers in whose EPF irregularities were committed.

However, the current decision of the EPF authorities has again made the thermal plant as the principal employer of the contract labourers.

The association alleged that due to certain reasons the EPF authorities had not been able to start the move to attach the properties of the contractor, M/s Calcutta Construction Company, for the past four years to recover the amount.

It also demanded an independent probe by the Central Provident Fund Commissioner to examine the role of authorities of the RPFC, Chandigarh, in the EPF scam.


Fund shortage hits Circuit House work
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 25
The Ferozepore circuit house, the foundation stone of which was laid way back in 1995, has virtually become a victim of government apathy. The work on the project was stopped in 1998 and the semi-constructed structure has become a haven for anti-social elements and drug addicts.

The project, which was sanctioned in April, 1995, during Beant Singh’s regime and was supposed to be completed in 10 months, is hanging fire reportedly due to shortage of funds.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, the initial estimate for the project was Rs 1.20 crore, which was revised in 1998 and raised to Rs 1.59 crore. Rupees 92.57 lakh has already been spent on the construction of the complex.

Under the plan the complex will comprise two VVIP suites, 11 VIP suites and dormitories for security guards and junior staff.

According to the information, despite budgetary allocation for the project no funds have been released since 1998. Although, the basic structure is almost complete, work on facade, plaster, door and windows and other parts of the building remain far from complete. The wooden door and window frames have already started decaying.

As per officials of the PWD, which is the executing agency, the estimate has been revised again and it has now become Rs 211.40 crore.

The SAD-BJP government during its tenure had doled out huge funds in the name of development but the circuit house never caught their attention. Even after the change of guard in the state government the project is nowhere on the government agenda.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr D.K. Tiwari said he had written letters for the release of money for the project.

Interestingly, despite being a district headquarter there is only one rest house. Sometimes due to non-availability of suitable accommodation visiting officials have to stay in private hotels or Canal Rest House, which is far away from the town.


Punjab MC poll on March 5
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 25
Punjab Local Government and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Jagjit Singh said here today that there was no move to merge Improvement Trust with PUDA.

He said 2003 would be observed as development year and Rs 16.5 crore had been given to municipalities for development of cities. The Nagar Council, Phagwara, had been given Rs 20 lakh for this purpose.

He inaugurated a market complex in Shaheed Bhagat Singh Nagar, Scheme No. 3 of the local Improvement Trust. Local MLA Joginder Singh Mann presided over the function.

UNI adds: Elections to the 95 Municipal Committees in Punjab would be held in two phases on March 5 and 15, Local Government Minister Jagjit Singh announced here today.

The minister said the decision to postpone the elections from December last year to March was taken due to some technical reasons. He said that all executive officers of the committee had been instructed to dispose of pending applications of site plans approval within one month.


Powers withdrawn
Our Correspondent

Mansa, January 25
Mr Avtar Singh, Joint Manager (Quality Control), FCI, Chandigarh, has withdrawn the powers of Mr Nanak Chand, technical assistant (TA) of the FCI, posted here to inspect the quality of rice following the rejection of 24 consignments weighing about 6,000 quintals which was found below specifications of the FCI due to excess moisture on the inspection done by him during his recent visit to Mansa.

Following this, paddy milling has come to a standstill at the local FCI depot as there is no TA there.


‘Dera’ head murdered
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, January 25
Head of ‘Dera’ Baba Sandhya Dass, Ballianwali village, near here, Mahant Ram Sukh Das (40), was murdered late last night.

Sources said that Mahant Ram Sukh Ram Dass had been living at the ‘dera’ for the past 25 years and had no enmity with anybody. They added that the body of the Mahant was found in a room of the ‘dera’ this morning. The mahant was killed outside the room and his blood-soaked body dragged into the room.

The sources said that an unidentified person, who appeared to be a ‘Joogi’ had spent the previous (night January 24 and 25) night in the dera, but was missing this morning. The police has been looking for him.

Mr Harbaj Singh, SP (D), who reached the spot, said that forensic experts, dog squad, and police parties had been deputed to probe the case. He said that the weapon used for the crime had been found and no arrest had been made so far. A case under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC had been registered at the Ballianwali police station.


Kidnapped boy rescued
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 25
The police here today rescued Satinder Pal Singh (12), a resident of Rangar Nangal village, who was kidnapped on way to school by Suresh Kumar, a resident of West Bengal, and kept in captivity for many days.

According to a press note released by the Amritsar police, Satinder Pal Singh was lured by Suresh on the pretext of a lucrative job but was forced to work as bonded labour for about 25 days before he was rescued. The police was informed about the child.

Suresh Kumar and a shopkeeper, Ajit Singh, at whose shop the child was forced to do job, have been arrested.


SMO’s son held for rape
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 25
The police today arrested Nishan Verma, alias Shantu, of the Lahori Gate locality here on the charge of raping a married woman of the locality. Nishan is the son of Dr Ravinder Kumar Verma, a Senior Medical Officer (SMO) posted at Pathankot in Gurdaspur district.

Dr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, told newsmen here that she alleged that Nishan Verma gave Rs 100 to her mother and asked her to buy some fruit. As soon as her mother went out, he raped her in the house.

On her complaint, the police registered a case under Section 376 of the IPC against Nishan and arrested him.


Three sarpanches held for fund misappropriation
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 25
The district police has arrested three sarpanches for misappropriation of development and welfare grants and lease of shamlat land of the panchayats and other irregularities.

The accused have been identified as Joginder Kaur, sarpanch of Chak Sharif, Jasbir Singh, of Satkoha, and Aatma Ram Kalyanpur.

In another case, Aatma Ram, Sarpanch of Kalyanpur, misappropriated Rs 50,000 which had been given to the village as development grant for filling the pond with earth. The accused misappropriated the funds and was arrested on January 9.

Mr KAP Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, has suspended more than 10 sarpanches in the district this year.


New courses by GND varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 25
A meeting of Guru Nanak Dev University Senate and Syndicate today okayed several new courses, including Master’s in police administration, public administration, commerce and a five-year MBA course at its Jalandhar regional campus.

A Master’s in geography and a five-year integrated course in social sciences would commence at the Amritsar campus. Coaching classes for IAS and other competitive examinations would be established at its Gurdaspur regional centre.

A centre for South-Central Asian studies at an estimated cost of Rs 1.75 crore would also be established, for which Mr Kuldip Nayyar, MP, has promised Rs 1 crore.

The meeting was presided over by Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, while Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, presented the agenda Dr Satinder Singh, pro-Vice-Chancellor, was also present.

The Senate authorised the Vice-Chancellor to co-opt three members into the Senate till June, 2004 and three members into the Syndicate till June this year. The Syndicate authorised the Vice-Chancellor to constitute a standing committee to deal with the cases of alleged use of unfair means.


Decision of Punjabi varsity lauded
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 25
Members of the executive committee of the Chandigarh unit of the General Categories Welfare Federation, in its first meeting, welcomed the decision of Punjabi University, Patiala, to abolish reservation in promotion.

They appreciated the university authorities for taking the bold step.

The president of the unit, Mr K.K. Goyal, said 25 per cent reservation in direct recruitment of the SCs and the STs was continuing since 1970. More than 25 per cent of the SCs and the STs were finding their way into higher posts by promotion. Therefore, there was no need to continue with the policy of reservation in promotion, he said.

Article 16 (4A) of the Constitution mandates reservation in promotion only where the representation of the SCs and the STs was inadequate. In Punjab, the SCs were already having adequate representation, he added.

He advised the Punjab Government to follow the example of the decision taken by the Punjabi University authorities and abolish reservation in promotion in the interest of the state.

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