Thursday, January 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Prepare for ‘rasta roko’, Badal tells cadre
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Alamgir, January 29
Gearing up the rank and file of the SAD for the statewide “rasta roko” stir against the “anti-people” policies of the Congress regime, former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today urged all workers and party leaders to mobilise the masses for February 10 to “shake the government out of its complacency.”

Addressing an impressive gathering at Gurdwara Alamgir here this evening, Mr Badal said people were fed up with the ‘misrule’ of the Congress. “No section of society is happy with the performance of the government. The concessions given by the SAD government for the upliftment of the poor have been withdrawn. New taxes have proved to be the last straw,” he stressed.

Commenting on the Panchkula episode, he said: “What is the rationale of ordering an inquiry into the matter when the CM himself has given a clean chit to the bureaucrat accused of moral turpitude without ascertaining the facts? The enquiry is just an eyewash to hoodwink the public,” he claimed.

Coming down heavily on Capt Amarinder Singh on the Bathinda refinery issue, he alleged that the CM was not interested in pursuing the case, which was a prestige issue for the people of the state. “The CM has washed his hands off the matter by just writing a letter to the PM. What purpose would that serve? If he is really sincere, he should have taken up the matter with the parties concerned, including the oil companies.”

On the issue of clemency for Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, the sentenced to death in the 1993 Delhi bomb blast case, he said; “I will take up the issue with the Home Minister tomorrow after my meeting with the PM. Various issues facing the state will also come up, but we are concerned at the verdict and will urge for clemency from the President,” he added.

Mr Badal said preparations were under way to get the SAD office constructed in Chandigarh at a cost of Rs 5 crore. Funds would be collected from the rank and file for the purpose.

Today’s meeting was attended by MPs and MLA, SGPC members and the top brass of all district units of the party. The SAD chief assigned duties to those present and urged them to maintain peace at all costs during the stir.


Thermal plants face suspension of operation
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 29
Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) here and Guru Horgobind Thermal Plant (GHTP) at Lehra Mohabbat village, 23 km from here, face suspension of operation due to depletion of coal stock.

Official sources said both thermal plants had been left with seven days stock of the coal and supply of coal from the coalfields in West Bengal, Bihar and other states have become erratic in the past few days. The authorities of both plants had been sending “SoS” messages to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and to the collieries for supplying adequate coal.

Mr Thind, General Manager, GHTP, Lehra Mohabbat and Mr K.D. Uppal, Director, Fuel, GNDTP, Bathinda, talking to The Tribune claimed that coal supply had become erratic due to the unavailability of wagons, highly placed sources said most of the owners of the collieries had been dragging their feet on the supply of coal to the PSEB due to its poor financial health.

At present the GNDTP has 50,000 mt of coal — enough for running its four units of 110 mw each for eight days while the GHTP here 40,000 MT of coal sufficient to run its two units of 220 mw each for six days only.

Mr Thind pointed out that on an average, GHTP had been getting one rake of coal daily 3400 MT against the consumption of 7000 MT of coal in two units daily. He added that after the coal stock deceased from 50,000 MT, the GHTP authorities became concerned and had been making efforts to raise its supply.

Mr Uppal pointed out that GNDTP had not been getting adequate supply of coal and was running with seven or eight days stock despite the fact that the PSEB authorities had made it mandatory to keep that much quantity of coal into stock at any point of time which would be enough to run all units for 20 days.

The sources revealed that due to bad financial health, the PSEB had been finding it difficult to purchase enough coal from different collieries to supply of it to different thermal power plants. A few months ago, the Punjab Government had to arrange several hundred crores of rupees to make payment to the different collieries after these threatened to stop the supply of coal if the payments by the PSEB were not made.

A senior PSEB official pointed out that light rain, in the state and other parts of north India, might be a blessing in disguise as they might shut two to three units of these thermal plants following reduced demand for power.


Rally by thermal plant employees
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 29
Employees of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal plant here yesterday held a rally near the plant to show their resentment against the proposed formation of a corporation in place of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The employees shouted slogans against the state government, the PSEB authorities and the Haldia Committee. They alleged that the formation of corporation would be a step towards the privatisation of the board.

Mr Gursewak Singh, president of the union of employees of the thermal plant, said that they would continue the agitation if the government did not withdraw the proposed formation of the corporation.

He said that due to the indifferent behaviour of the PSEB authorities, the meeting between the Struggle Committee of the employees and the authorities had failed to yield any result. The authorities did not want to listen to the pleas of the employees against privatisation.

He said that while implementing the Haldia Committee report, the authorities did not take into account the view of the employees.

The thermal plant employees would participate in the agitation launched by different unions of employees of the PSEB, he added. 


Mahila Cong leader held for fraud
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 29
The Ropar police has arrested Jaswant Kaur, state-level leader of the Mahila Congress on a charge of fraud. She was arrested on the complaint of Ms Amarjit Kaur of Amrali village, near Morinda.

Ms Amarjit Kaur, in her complaint to the DGP, Punjab, has alleged that her husband was lodged in a jail for some crime. When she approached Jaswant Kaur for help, she allegedly asked her to give Rs 50,000 to get her husband out of jail.

However, even after receiving Rs 45,000, Jaswant Kaur had allegedly failed to secure the release of the husband of Amarjit Kaur. She also allegedly refused to return the amount paid by the complainant, which forced her to lodge a complaint against the Congress leader before the DGP. The DGP had marked the complaint to the Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, who further marked it to the anti-fraud cell of the Ropar police for investigations.

The cell, after conducting an inquiry, held the Congress leader responsible for committing a fraud with the complainant.

A case has been registered.


14 Navodaya Vidyalaya students found
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 29
The Nawanshahr police has finally recovered 14 students of Jawahar Navodaya Vidyalaya, Pojewal, who had gone missing on the night of January 25. 

Eleven of the missing students were found at the Hoshiarpur bus stand while three others were recovered from Mana village near Hoshiarpur tonight. A police party comprising Mr Satwant Singh, SHO, and Mr Satpal, a school teacher, located the missing students following monitoring of the school telephones where one of the student had rung up a teacher asking whether his fellow students had rejoined the school or not.


When Irish govt-in-exile was formed
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR: Despite having kept one of the biggest and sensational historical facts under wraps for over 80 years, hardly anyone knows today that Jalandhar Cantonment was once declared a seat of “Free Irish government-in-exile” and was a place where a rebellion, by 1000-odd unsung Irish soldiers-turned-freedom fighters, who were inspired by the ongoing Indian freedom struggle, turned out to be one of two mutinies — after the famous naval mutiny — faced by the British armed forces.

What created yet another leaf of history after a long gap of time was the fact that perhaps no Irish envoy or Irish representative had visited the place after 1950 till a curious Mr Phillip McDonagh, the Irish Ambassador to India, paid a visit recently to the barracks, where the ‘mutineers” had enacted the high-tension drama to attain freedom for their brethren back home and where one of world’s unparalleled and unheard-of peace efforts was made by one Jim Daley, leader of a group of Irish soldiers, who was shot dead by a British firing squad in November, 1920, after the Britishers cornered the ‘mutineers’ after making them starve for a few months.

A landmark in history and yet the lesser known incident took place in the summer of 1920 when the winds of freedom, sweeping across India as well as Ireland, were fuelled after news of cruelty being inflicted upon the Irish by the British, particularly that of a brother of a soldier having been hanged in Ireland, creeped into Jalandhar Cantonment, where about 1000 Irish soldiers were deployed as part of the British armed forces.

Irked over the shocking developments back home and moved by their sense of affection towards their motherland , the Irish soldiers belonging to the Connaught Rangers, captured some British soldiers, the armoury, and a large part of the Jalandhar Cantonment, which was, subsequently, declared to be the capital of the “Free Irish government-in-exile” just within a period of a few days. So much so that after attaining full control of Jalandhar Cantonment, the Irish soldiers who were driven by a feeling that they were just lodging their “protest” against injustice being meted out to the Irish people and were not fighting for any territory in India, started negotiations with the British for freedom of Ireland in exchange of British soldiers and the Jalandhar Cantonment. Though a group of them wanted to retain the cantonment as this could strengthen their position against the Britishers, another group led by Jim Daley thought that since violence was not the ‘way out’, the best solution to the vexed problem was possible only through peace and dialogue, for which a long letter to the King was also shot off.

On the other hand having been caught unawares, the ‘crafty’ British authorities, feigning to be participating in the dialogue, pushed eight white regiments from the entire northern part of the country to cordon off Jalandhar Cantonment and to clamp the supplies to the Irish soldiers. Though the Irish tricolour flew on the regiment quarter and atop most of the barracks, Irish soldiers started falling prey to death, due to dwindling foodstock and water and for an outbreak of malaria, which, however, failed to spoil their high spirits till they got divided into small groups, having their own plans and ideas amid increasing pressure by the British authorities, who were keeping the entire episode under a tight lid under the pretext that some exercise was going on in the area. Even amid such a situation and after death of a number of his colleagues, Jim Daley kept pacifying his comrades and arguing with the British authorities for ‘giving peace a chance’.

But sensing the weakening of the soldiers, the British authorities overpowered them by breaking them into small groups and with a plea that a train would be arranged for them and that they would be kept in different buildings till arrangements were made for their journey back home. All of about 800 soldiers were sent to Shimla in August 1920 and courtmartial proceedings were initiated against them with sentences ranging from death to 10-20 years of imprisonment. Later, the sentences were reviewed, the Connaught Rangers was disbanded, and rangers were packed off to England for serving their sentences. It was Jim Daley alone who was shot dead by a firing squad in Jalandhar Cantonment in November under a tight security cover. 


Horrors of Partition recalled
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 29
As many as 495 RSS veterans or their family members out of 600 reached the city to be honoured at the “1947 Shauraya Samriti Samroah” held here. Many of those present felt being valued for their bravery for the first time in their lives.

Two brothers Tilak Raj Kapoor (81) and Raj Kumar Kapoor (77) recalled “in the months of March 1947 prior to Partition the Muslim League had spread its wings and decided to kill Hindus and Sikhs to wipe off the two per cent excess of Hindu population which could help bring Amritsar to be part of Pakistan upto Beas.

Eightyseven-year-old Thakur Ram Singh stood ramrod despite his advancing years proud to be specially honoured with ‘Shauraya award’ today, Raj Rani missed her brother for whose bravery the award was bestowed to her family.

Harbans Lal who had arrived from Pathankot was just an 18-year-old lad when hordes struck. Although no shrine was threatened in Pathankot, the terror unleased by Muslim League stalwarts who had arrived especially from Lahore for the mission made “our hair stand on amend”. 


British blamed for Partition
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 29
RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan held that the British, Communists and Nehru were responsible for the ills the country faced today.

After honouring 495 RSS veterans and their families with “Shauraya awards” for “unparalleled bravery” to save Hindus and Sikhs from marauders here today. Mr Sudarshan said that the 175-year-long rule of the British was based on dividing the entire country on the basis of caste, creed, religion and language. He said the policy of ‘divide and rule’ benefited the British the most. He claimed that Jawaharlal Nehru was their protege who perpetuated British rule even after their leaving the country. He said Nehru once had claimed that he was the last Englishman to rule India. Attacking the policy of the British to project Lord Mountbatten — the last Viceroy to divide the country on the basis of religion he said he was responsible for the Partition of the country.

Mr Sudarshan said that Hindu culture represented the unifying factor in the country and the British were apprehensive that this unity in diversity could prove to be biggest hurdle to rule the country. He said due to this reason that the British started defaming Hindus and tried to blame the RSS for all communal problems in the country, the frustration of the British was so evident that they even demanded a ban on RSS functioning. The British realised that if they were to rule India effectively they would have to defame Hindus who represented a continuing spiritual bond for all citizens of the country.

In their quest for imperialism and to destroy the Hindu nationhood, Lord Macahlay in 1835, introduced a new education system which would produce coloured English-speaking Indians with same mannerisms added Mr Sudarshan. He said one such product of system of Lord Macahlay was Nehru who became a favourite of Mahatma Gandhi and who hoisted him Prime Minister in place of Sardar Patel.

He squarely blamed Mahatma Gandhi for two grave errors which destroyed the Hindu nationhood and paved the way for the division of the country. Referring to Partition forced on the country he blamed the British and said that the then rulers had incited the Muslim community and it was calculated move of the Muslim League backed by the British to encourage arson killing and looting in their bid to terrorise Congress leaders into accepting the division. He said it was the timid and visionless Congress leadership which accepted Partition without shedding any tears.


Sudarshan greeted with black flags
Our Correspondent and UNI

Amritsar, January 29
The Dal Khalsa and the Human Rights and Democracy Forum today held a protest rally against RSS chief K.S. Sudarshan on his arrival at Madhav Vidya Bhavan here today. Protesters were carrying black flags, banners and placards accusing the RSS of spreading communal hatred.

Both groups criticised the RSS for organising a function that could lead to “pitting one minority community against another”.

Mr Kanwar Pal Singh of the Dal Khalsa said the RSS would not be allowed to re-open the wounds of the traumatic happenings of Partition. “We will not allow it to make Punjab into another Gujarat,” they said.

The other groups which joined the protest were Shiromani Akali Dal (A) and Khalra Mission Committee.

Lok Sabha Member and SAD (A) chief Simranjit Singh Mann said the RSS claim that the Golden Temple was attacked by the Muslims during Partition was a “gross mis-interpretation of history’’.

He said the RSS claim that its cadres saved the holy Sikh shrine in 1947 was “incorrect’’.

Why did not the RSS come forward to save the Golden Temple during ‘Operation Bluestar’, he questioned.


Industries for Lakhanpal, Excise for Dubey
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The Punjab Principal Secretary (Finance), Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, will hold additional charge of Industries and Commerce while the Principal Secretary, PWD (B and R ) Mr A.K. Dubey, will look after Excise and Taxation as well.

This was revealed by the Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, here today. Earlier, these two departments were with Mr Mukul Joshi.

Meanwhile, three IAS officers of the 1987 batch — Ms Vini Mahajan, Mr S.K. Sandhu and Mr Vishwajeet Khanna — have been promoted to the super-time scale. 


Rinwa seeks central observers for civic poll
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, January 29
The Punjab BJP president, Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, here today urged the Union Government to make arrangements to send central observers for the coming municipal elections. He demanded that the elections should be conducted under the supervision of central observers and the CRPF to prevent excesses likely to be committed by the ruling Congress party.

The BJP leader alleged that the Congress government had forcefully intervened to postpone the elections of chairpersons and vice-chairpersons of panchayat samitis at several places on seeing the defeat of the Congress.

On the controversial issues of the SYL canal dispute and the Bathinda refinery, both Rinwa and Jaiswal along with former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Home Minister Lal Krishan Advani, Union Ministers Arun Shourie and Sushma Swaraj tomorrow, said Prof Rinwa.

They would impress upon the need to ensure smooth and timely completion of the Bathinda refinery project, which was a prestigious project for the state.

He said the Akali and BJP leaders would also request Union Information and Broadcasting Minister Sushma Swaraj not to shift the newsroom of Jalandhar Doordarshan from Jalandhar to Chandigarh to counter false and misleading propoganda by Pakistan Television.

Commenting upon latest political situation in the state, Prof Rinwa alleged that ministers in the Congress government and officials were openly found involved in sex scandals.

Regarding Himachal elections, he claimed that the BJP would get a landslide victory there.


Trial begins in Ravi Sidhu case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
Trial in the PPSC Chairman corruption case started today when main witness Bhupjit Singh deposed in the court of the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr A.S. Kathuria, at Ropar today.

It was in March last year that PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu was nabbed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau while accepting a bribe from Mr Bhupjit Singh, an Inspector in the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department and departmental candidate for nomination to the PCS (Executive Branch).

After Mr Bhupjit Singh deposed, he was cross-examined by the defence counsel. The cross examination was continuing when the court adjourned for the day. Next hearing in the case has been fixed for February 27.


Maya’s Jalandhar visit in March
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 29
To revamp the Bahujan Samaj Party structure in Punjab, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati will visit the state in March. She will address state party workers at a cadre camp, said Mr Narinder Kashyap, coordinator of party affairs in Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Kashyap said that keeping in the mind the party’s performance in the last Assembly elections in Punjab, Ms Mayawati has decided to concentrate on the party’s activities in Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh and Jammu & Kashmir. She would come to Jalandhar in the middle of March to strengthen party activities in the state.

Mr Kashyap ruled out the possibility of the BSP aligning with any other political parties in Punjab.

In view of the revamping of the party structure in the state, all district units had been dissolved and fresh appointments would be made soon to strengthen the party, he added.


Highlight achievements, Hanspal tells workers
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, January 29
Mr H.S. Hanspal, PPCC President, addressed a district-level Congress Workers’ meeting here today at Punjab Mata Vidhyawati Bhavan and called upon them to highlight achievements of the Congress government in the past one year.

He maintained that the first year of the government was devoted ending high level corruption to re-rail economy of the state. He said corruption from public life could not be eradicated without the cooperation of the public.

The PPCC would organise district-level workshops and training camps for workers, he added. Blaming the previous SAD-BJP government for the fiscal mess the PPCC President said even Rs 300 crore from the Natural Calamity Fund was distributed at sangat darshan programmes by former CM Parkash Singh Badal. As much as 40 to 50 per cent of pensions under old-age and widow pension schemes were found fake and even young unmarried girls had been receiving widow-pension. The delay in filing review petition regarding SYL canal in the Supreme Court was due to the fact that the previous government had not paid balance payment Rs 22 lakh to the lawyers and no leading Supreme Court lawyer was ready to take the case, he revealed. Besides, during the tenure of Mr Badal no funds were sanctioned by the World Bank and the IMF etc to Punjab as it was giving free power and water, he added.

Now the Congress government had overcome difficulties and pace of development would be accelerated. Priority would be given to infrastructure development in power sector and roads, he said.

Mr Hanspal said to make agriculture remunerative contract farming had been launched. In the first phase cultivation of diversified crops would be undertaken on 10 lakh acres. Mr Parkash Singh, Mr Tarlochan Singh Soond (both MLAs), Mr Ram Kishan Kataria, former MLA, Mr Ram Lal Chitti a former minister, Mr Kuldip Rana, district Congress president, Mr Satvir Singh, District Youth Congress President, Mr Sita Ram, former Municipal Council president, Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak, PPCC member, Mr Manoranjan Kalia, general secretary Punjab Youth Congress addressed the gathering.


Mann for effective ban on cow slaughter
Tribune News Service

Barnala (Sangrur), January 29
The Punjab Government in its Budget should provide for funds to registered “gaushalas” for the protection of cows. The government should also initiate steps to implement ban on cow slaughter.

Two resolutions to this effect were adopted by a meeting, convened by the Sangrur District Gaushala Sangh, at the Ram Bagh complex here today. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from Sangrur, and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) presided over the meeting. The resolutions were moved by Mr Surinder “Babbi”, press secretary of the SAD(A).

Mr Mann also announced Rs 10 lakh grant for the registered gaushalas in his Parliamentary constituency.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann in his speech favoured complete and effective ban on cow slaughter. He said even in the rule of Maharaja Ranjit Singh there was complete ban on cow slaughter.

Mr Mann said he had asked the Prime Minister to create a gaushala development fund and to set up gaushala development board at the Central and State-level. He also assured the office-bearers of the Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh that he would arrange a meeting between the Prime Minster and representatives of the Mahasangh for talks on cow protection.

Mr Mann also stated that in future the funds would be provided to the registered gaushalas in his constituency directly by forming committees to use the same for cow protection and maintenance of gaushalas properly. He was of the view that Indian cows were better than hybrid cows.

Mr Ramesh Gupta, general secretary of the Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh, appealed to the office-bearers of various gaushalas to get their institutions registered for becoming eligible for grants for the welfare of cows and maintenance of gaushalas. He also appealed to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann to bring maximum funds to Punjab from the Rs 25 crore grant, announced by the Prime Minister for cow protection and gaushalas.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Gill, a retired Joint Director of Punjab Animal Husbandry Department, disclosed that population of cows had been decreasing since 1991. He said this had reduced to 40 per cent since then. He added that Animal Welfare Acts were not being implemented properly and animal lovers were unaware of these Acts. He said these Acts could be got implemented by moving the High Court.

Ms Amita Bhattal, president women’s wing of the Punjab Brahmin Sabha; Mr Jagir Singh Jagtar, a representative of the District Gaushala Sangh; Mr Radhey Shayam of Prachin Gaushala, Barnala; Mr Janak Raj, Dhanaula Gaushala; Mr Surinder Babbi and Mr Paramjit Singh Barnala, both SAD(A) leaders. Mr Suraj Bhan Singla, and Mr Deepak Maghan, president and vice-president, respectively, of the Punjab Gaushala Mahasangh; Mr Pradeep Goyal, district president of the Gaushala Sangh; and Mr Rupinder Jindal, secretary, Sangherra Gaushala, were also present.


MLA ‘prevented’ from casting vote
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, January 29
Even as the MLA, Talwandi Sabo, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu, today was not allowed to cast his vote in the election to the posts of chairman and vice-chairman of the local panchayat samiti allegedly by the DSP and the SDM, supporters of different candidates pelted each other with stones at the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO).

Mr Sidhu said he would take up the matter with the Punjab Speaker. He had also taken up the matter with the Deputy Commissioner and the district police chief and demanded that appropriate action should be taken against the DSP and the SDM.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, said there were allegations and counter-allegations from Mr Sidhu and Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, former Congress MLA, in connection with the altercation by their supporters and in a preliminary inquiry no truth was found into the allegations. However, the SP (Headquarters) had been asked to conduct a probe into the allegations.

Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, said the SDM told him that Mr Sidhu came to venue after the election process had been over. He added that on receipt of a written complaint from Mr Sidhu he would conduct an inquiry.

Mr Sidhu said when he reached at the venue of election at about 2.15 p.m., he was stopped from entering into the office of the BDPO by the policemen on the order of the DSP, who was a close associate of Mr Jassi. When he resisted and managed to enter into the office, supporters of Mr Jassi, including one of his close kin, started hurling stones. He alleged that when he urged to the DSP to take action against the miscreants, he went outside.

Mr Sidhu alleged that after entering into the office, he was told by the SDM, Mr N.S. Bath, that Mr Jaswant Singh Korianwala and Ms Jaspal Kaur had been elected chairman and vice-chairperson of the samiti. Two other members of the samiti were also not allowed to enter into the office to cast their votes, he alleged.

The DSP denied the allegations that Mr Sidhu was stopped from entering into the office. Mr Bath could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


30 gifted buses leave for Kabul
Our Correspondent

Wagah, January 29
As many as 30 buses, gifted by India, left for Afghanistan from this joint checkpost today.

Mohammed Anwar Hadayat, Secretary Documentation, Ministry of Transport, and Mr Sayeed Ahmed Gani Omar and Mr Gul Hazrat Zoya accompanied the buses. Initial delay by the Pakistan authorities led to the late departure of buses.

Mohammed Sameen Hamraz, Secretary, Afghanistan Embassy in Islamabad, received the buses on the Pakistan side.

This is the fourth consignment of buses gifted to Afghanistan by the Indian Government. Earlier, 75 buses had been given to the war-torn country. A total of 500 buses are to be gifted to Afghanistan.


Pensioners await justice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
The Municipal Corporation Pensioners’ Association, Punjab, despite several representations, has failed to get any response as to why the notifications in respect of dearness allowance and pension benefits already in operation are not made applicable in respect of pensioners who belong to the Local Government Department.

The association general secretary, Mr Subash Mahajan, said today that the pensioners had high hopes from the Amarinder Singh Government. He pointed out that if the pensioners of other government departments were getting all benefits as per the notifications why those from the Local Government Department were left out.

The notifications in question pertained to enhanced dearness allowance @ 2 per cent and 4 per cent w.e.f. July 1, 2001 and January 1, 2002, respectively, and higher basic pension by 5 per cent and 10 per cent on attaining the age of 65 years and 75 years, respectively.

Despite meetings with the minister concerned, the association’s demands were not conceded.


PIL on Panchkula incident dismissed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
In less than a week after an IAS officer was found with his colleague’s wife at a Panchkula house, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed a public interest litigation filed by an advocate seeking directions for declaring the police action as unconstitutional and infringement of an individual’s right to privacy.

In his petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, advocate Pradeep Bhanot had earlier contended that the action was against the legal provisions.

He had added that the police had infringed the right without satisfying themselves regarding the commission of a cognizable offence. His counsel had submitted that the police was also required to be instructed as to how, and in what manner, should they act so that the right to privacy is not violated.

Vacate order

Nearly 11 years after a Punjab Minister assured the Legislative Assembly that a sarai constructed in 1618 on the directions of Mughal empress Noor Jahan in Jalandhar district would be vacated, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday ordered the police to move out of the premises within a year.

Pronouncing the orders in the open Court, a Division Bench, comprising Mr Justice V.K. Bali and Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall, also directed that the school, functioning from the premises, should vacate the place within two years.

In his petition, freelance journalist Dilbag Singh of Bainapur village in Jalandhar district had earlier sought directions to the Union of India, the state of Punjab and another respondent for “preserving and maintaining the monuments of national importance in the state by removing all the government offices”.

Directions were also sought for carrying out the necessary repairs.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioner had submitted that the sarai was built by Nawab Jakaria Khan under the orders of Noor Jahan. It was later declared a protected monument by the Government of India.

But somewhere down the line, it was occupied by the police and the municipal authorities. A school was also functioning.

His counsel had submitted that a State Minister had assured the Assembly in 1992 that the premises would be vacated. In May 2000, a representation was addressed to the Prime Minister for the removal of the government offices. The then Union Minister, Ms Maneka Gandhi, was also approached, but the needful was not done.

Counsel had added that the Central Government and the State Government were under obligation to preserve and maintain historical monuments. In their reply, the Union of India had stated that a portion of the sarai had been occupied by a school, besides the municipal and the police authorities.


Continuing with the arguments on the issue of maintainability of a petition challenging the elections of the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh from Patiala assembly constituency, his counsel today claimed that the allegations regarding the CM exercising undue influence on the voters by projecting himself as “Maharaja of Patiala” in the posters was vague.

Arguing before the Court, his counsel contended that copy of the poster had neither placed on the record, nor were the contents reproduced. He had further submitted that the petitioner had not mentioned as to how, when and where were the posters distributed. The case will now come up for further hearing on February 5.

It may be recalled that Harkirat Singh — a voter from Patiala — had earlier alleged that the Chief Minister had used the services of Mr Chahal and the documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt. He had further alleged that his role during the elections included extending hospitality to the electronic and print media after contacting the journalist. The petitioner had added that Mr Chahal was, subsequently, awarded by the respondent for the services he rendered.

He had also claimed that the Chief Minister had used a helicopter during his election campaign, but the expenses incurred in the process had not been specified. Claiming the use of chopper for visiting his constituency and for dropping hand bills, the petitioner had added that an expenditure of approximately Rs 3,70,000 was incurred in the process.


A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has dismissed an appeal filed of three Bathinda district residents convicted for murdering the nephew of a former sarpanch. The case was popularly known as the “Tungwali murder case”.

The three had been sentenced to life imprisonment by Bathinda’s Additional District and Sessions Judge.


SE remanded in police custody
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 29
A Superintending Engineer (SE) of the Irrigation Department, Mr S.K.Bansal, who was booked by the state Vigilance Department yesterday on graft charges, was remanded in police custody till January 30 by a local court.

Mr S.K Bansal was allegedly caught redhanded by Vigilance sleuths when he was accepting money as illegal gratification from a junior engineer of the same department, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, to get some work done.

The SE had allegedly initially demanded Rs 8,000 from Mr Sukhdarshan Singh to settle some pending issue. Later, the issue was settled for Rs 5,000 which the latter agreed to pay to the former at his residence here.

However, Mr Sukhdarshan Singh informed the Vigilance Bureau about the deal and the sleuths laid a trap to nab the SE last evening when Mr Sukhdarshan Singh went to the SE’s residence to deliver the money. 


PCMSA demands more consultations by panel
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 29
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) today demanded that the high-level committee constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary for preparing fresh guidelines concerning organ transplantation for hospitals, doctors and donors, should hold consultations with representatives of medical fraternity, religious, social organisations and leading social activists before submitting the final draft.

In a press note Dr Hardeep Singh and Dr Ajay Bagga president and press secretary of the PCMSA, respectively, said a number of persons and a section of society was of the firm opinion that since joint family system was waning out from our society, it was neither possible for the patients of kidney failure to arrange a relative donor nor friends etc. came forward to donate their kidneys out of love and affection in this materialistic world.

Though it was not good in a welfare state to allow the human beings to sell their body organs yet a particular section of society felt that the present Human Organ Transplantation Act (HOTA), 1994, which was adopted by Punjab in 1997 be amended to permit a person to donate kidney voluntarily in lieu of due compensation, they said.


Enlarge ambit of kidney probe’
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, January 29
The state unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has welcomed the directions of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the Punjab Government regarding the Special Investigation Team (SIT) into the problems relating to kidney transplant and urged the commission to take steps to get the records of the SIT sealed.

Dr R.C. Garg, president, IMA, said not only the kidney donors were being harassed and threatened but they were also being “created”. The association requested the NHRC to enlarge the ambit of the probe to protect the human rights of the doctors who were being implicated. 


BKU(E) to back PSEB staff stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 29
Employees of the PSEB got a shot in the arm today as the BKU (E) has decided to support their agitation against the new economic and industrial policies of the government, leading to the board being dismantled and a corporation formed in its place.

The BKU (E) will support the agitation as it fears that electricity would become more costly. Hitting the farmers. BKU leaders allege that under pressure of some vested interests, the government would ultimately privatise the PSEB. They added that the government had withdrawn various concessions given to the agriculture sector under pressure of multinational companies and industrial houses in the country.


Fog forces CM to return
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 29
The Chief Minister, Capt, Amarinder Singh, who was supposed to inaugurate a tehsil complex in Jalalabad and lay the foundation stone of Rs 32-crore rural water project today could not make it to the function reportedly due to heavy fog.

According to official sources, the Chief Minister’s helicopter returned back from Bathinda as it was not allowed to land due to heavy fog.

With the cancellation of CM’s programme all arrangements made by the administration turned futile and the enthusiastic crowd, which waited for hours to listen to him, went away disappointed.

In the absence of the Chief Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh Randhawa, Public Health Minister, inaugurated the complex and address a public rally.

He was accompanied by Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, MLA and Political Adviser to CM, Mr Mohinder Rinwa, Parliamentary Secretary, Mr Hans Raj Jossan, MLA, Jalalabad, Mr Sujjan Jakhar, Mr R.S. Sandhu Ferozepore, and a host of senior Congress leaders.

Noted Punjabi singer Harbhajan Mann enthralled the audience with his thrilling performance at Nureke village where the Chief Minister was inaugurate the rural water supply scheme. 


Octroi refund: legal action threatened
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 29
The Consumer Welfare Council, here today threatened to launch legal action against Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities for inordinate delay refunding the octroi charged on the consumption of electricity as per the verdict of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2001.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Prem Bhatia, President, Consumer Welfare Council, alleged that the PSEB had not started refunding the octroi charged from the consumers even after more than one year of the High Court verdict. He added that even PSEB authorities had not started refunding the Octroi amount to the consumers, who had submitted claims of it to the authorities concerned. The High Court had ordered PSEB authorities to refund the octroi amount charged with effect from November 28, 1994.

He added that if the PSEB authorities did not start refunding within month from this date, the council would start legal action against them. 


Stop vulgarising religious functions’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 29
A deputation of the Istri Akali Dal (Badal) led by Dr (Mrs) Shavinder Kaur Johal, today met the Punjab Governor, Lieut Gen JFR Jacob, and submitted a memorandum seeking his intervention to stop the alleged vulgarisation of functions held on important religious occasions like the Maghi mela.

In the memorandum the dal complained that the services of skimpily-clad dancing girls had been utilised by the Congress party recently to attract crowds at its political rallies at the Maghi mela at Muktsar and martyrdom day of Sahibzadas at Fatehgarh Sahib. This was tantamount to an insult to the religious feelings of the Sikhs.

Dr Johal said that her party had tried to seek the intervention of the respective DCs on both the occasions but they did not heed to her protests. The Istri Akali Dal also urged the Governor to plead with the President of India to use his powers to grant pardon to Devinder Singh Bhullar who had been sentenced to death by the Supreme Court.


Mann opposes book on PM in colleges
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 29
President of SAD (A) and Lok Sabha Member Simranjit Singh Mann has written a letter to the vice-chancellors of various universities of Punjab and Chandigarh, opposing the UGC proposal of introducing in the reference book list of the universities and colleges a book written on Prime Minister A.B. Vajpayee, published by RSS right-wingers A. Joshi and Seshadri Chari.

This book should be disallowed in curriculum because such books influence the minds of young students and preach cults, says the letter released to ‘The Tribune’ here today. Extreme ideologies kill liberal and democratic thinking in the minds of students, pleaded Mr Mann.


Fraud charge against board employee
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 29
Mr Balwinder Singh Dhudhala, district secretary of the CPI, and Mr Devinder Kumar, general secretary of the All-India Youth Federation, in a joint press release issued here yesterday alleged that Ram Singh, a resident of Partap Nagar and an employee of the Mandikaran Board has defrauded hundreds of youths by luring them for getting recruited to the Army.

Mr Dhudhala alleged that the accused who had been absconding since last night had taken between Rs 40,000 and 60,000 each from the youths for recruitment. He alleged that certain poor villagers had even mortgaged their lands to pay for the recruitment of their wards. Hardeep Singh of Jhabal was one of them who gave Rs 80,000 for recruiting his two sons. Mr Dhudhala also alleged the involvement of certain officials of the recruitment office. However, no one was available for comments in the office.


Jail guards demand uniforms
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 29
Members of the Punjab Jail Guard Association today held a dharna in front of the Central Jail here in protest against the non-supply of uniform for the guards.

The Joint Secretary of the Association, Mr Manjit Singh Ladhar, while addressing the gathering claimed that they had not been supplied their winter uniform since the past six years. He said the summer uniform had not been provided to them since the last two years and rain-coats had not been distributed since the last five years.

The President of the Patiala unit of the association, Mr Harbhajan Singh, while lamenting the poor quality of the shoes supplied to the staff this year appealed to the ADGP that permission be granted to the Superintendent (Headquarters) to purchase pullovers for the staff as was the norm earlier. He said this would enable the staff to pool in some of their own money alongwith the amount allotted to buy better quality woollens.


Jail guards stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 29
The local Central Jail working was hit for about three hours today, as the jail guards staged a dharna near the jail in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.

The Punjab Jail Guards Association had given the call for the dharna. The guards shouted slogans against the jail authorities. They alleged that they were not given proper uniform as per the government rules. They had also not been given the full kit, which includes uniforms for summer and winter, sweaters etc.

Mr Jaswant Singh Sandhu, general secretary of the district unit of association, said though they had met the authorities concerned regarding their demands, no action had been taken. 


Fake insecticides detected
Our Correspondent

Moga, January 29
Some samples of insecticides and fertilisers taken by officials of the Agriculture Department in this district during the past few days have been found to be substandard and spurious.

Taking to mediapersons here today, former president of the BKU, Kuldip Singh Sandhu alleged that certain employees of the Agriculture Department were involved in this nefarious trade.

He said the farmers should be cautious and gherao the dealers selling spurious insecticides. They should also bring it to the notice of the police or the Deputy Commissioner.

He said a large number of farmers in the district had already suffered huge losses due to use of spurious items.


Lala Lajpat remembered
Our Correspondent

Moga, January 29
The Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan, yesterday said Punjab would not give water to any other state as it was already facing an acute water shortage with the groundwater level going down several hundred feet.

Speaking at a function held at Dhudike village, birthplace of Lala Lajpat Rai on his birth anniversary, he said the Congress was confident of victory in the Himachal Pradesh elections. 


Freedom fighter cremated
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 29
Freedom fighter Pritam Singh, 93, was cremated with full state honours at Rampura Phul yesterday. Mr Krishan Chand Chaudhary, District Transport Officer, and Mr Sukhbinder Singh, SDM, Rampura Phul, paid tributes.

Pritam Singh, a soldier of the Azad Hind Fauj, is survived by his wife, Nihal Kaur, four sons and two daughters. 


Move on news centre resented
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 29
Anguished over the transfer of the news set up from Jalandhar Doordarshan to Chandigarh, Mr Harbeant Singh, Secretary, SGPC, in a letter to Ms Sushma Swaraj, Union Minister for Information and Broadcasting has expressed resentment against the move. He said the move would benefit only Haryana as it would be an additional centre at Chandigarh.


Register migratory labour: DM
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 29
Mr Anurag Verma, District Magistrate, yesterday ordered that all migratory labourers employed in the district should be registered at the nearest police station.

In his orders issued under Section 144, CrPC, Mr Verma said it was difficult for the police to trace out the migratory labourers who were involved in crimes.

The orders will remain in force till March 28. 


Drug smuggling thrives
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 29
Despite a campaign launched by the police authorities against drug smuggling, this district bordering Haryana and Rajasthan, which over the years has become a thriving market for smugglers and drug peddlers, witnessed registration of a case under the NDPS Act after every 40 hours in 2002.

In 2000 as many as 235 cases pertaining to smuggling of narcotics were registered in different police stations as compared to 87 cases registered in 1999 in this district. In 2000, a case under the NDPS Act was registered in this district after every 36 hours. The unprecedented rise in the smuggling of narcotics cases baffled the police authorities and moved them to take effective steps to check the menace, which was spreading its tentacles in the area.

Official sources said due to the campaign the number of such cases came down to 204 in 2001 and on an average a case was registered after every 42 hours.

They said the campaign apart from yielding better results had also helped in exposing the politician-smuggler nexus in this area after a member of the SGPC, Mr Sadhu Singh Ragi, was arrested for his involvement in smuggling of poppy husk. A number of notorious smugglers of the area had shifted their bases after the police launched the drive and started proceedings for forfeiting their properties.

“The police registered 218 cases under the NDPS Act in the district in 2002 and seized more than 17 kg of opium and 8,123 kg of poppy husk from them. Information was being gathered to arrest more smugglers. The addicts were also being de-addicted by organising camps in every nook and corner of this district,” said the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that to hoodwink the police, the smugglers had been changing their modus operandi. They had been using different types of vehicles to transport consignments of narcotics. Even women were reportedly involved in narcotics smuggling.

Meanwhile, the district witnessed an increase in the number of murder cases as 34 murders took place in 2002 as compared to 25 in 2001. However, incidents pertaining to attempt to murder had declined significantly. The incidents of robbery, burglary and thefts had also increased.


ASI held for helping drug peddler
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, January 29
An Assistant Sub-Inspector Shiv Nath was arrested by the police station he was posted with for releasing a drug peddler arrested under the NDPS Act after taking a bribe, here today. Earlier, 20 police personnel were arrested on charges of corruption by the Tarn Taran police.

District police chief Narinder Bhargav said Paramjit Singh, a former Sarpanch of Rasulpur village instrumental in the release of drug peddler Phuman Singh after bribing Shiv Nath was also arrested. A separate case has been registered against Phuman Singh under the NDPS Act. Mr Bhargav added the ASI was arrested following a tip-off by a de-addiction committee run in the villages under the aegis of Tarn Taran police. In another case, the police has seized 750 gm of opium from a drug peddler today.

Mr Bhargav said 40 persons were arrested for possessing 32 kg of opium in 39 cases in the past 10 months. The police here also arrested 143 smugglers and 5,500 kg of poppy husk was seized from them in 126 cases. As many as 99 persons were arrested for smuggling smack during the same period. Similarly, capsules of charas and other intoxicants were seized from 60 persons arrested in the past 10 months.

On the anti-drug drive, Mr Bhargav said six permanent de-addiction centres had been opened in Tarn Taran while village-wise centres had been running in all 453 villages of the Tarn Taran police district.


Two held on extortion charge
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, January 29
The police here today arrested two members of a family belonging to Bholath in Kapurthala district for allegedly extorting large sums of money from innocent persons on the pretext of sending them abroad and getting them settled there with handsome salaries.

Mr Varinder Kumar, Senior Superintendent of Police, in a press note issued here today said that Inayat Masih and his son Nonnie had been arrested, while Sonu, son of Inayat Masih, and Samson, nephew of Inayat Masih, were still at large.

The SSP said that one Emanual Pal and Surinder Kumar, both residents of Bhangwan under the sadar police station, Gurdaspur, had complained to the police that the accused had charged Rs 6 lakh from them with a promise to send them to Paris. But they neither sent them to Paris nor refunded their money.

The SSP said that the accused, after charging Rs 6 lakh from the complainants, sent them to Thailand in March 2002 on the plea that they would be taken by their men to Malaysia and then to Paris. On reaching Thailand, the complainants did not find any one, and hired a taxi and reached Malaysia. Wandering in Malaysia with no prospect to reach Paris, they contacted their relative in England, who made it possible for them to reach Punjab. The complainants said that during their stay in Malaysia, they lived a life of starvation for many days.

After reaching their village, they talked to the accused to refund their money but in vain. Later a case was registered against them under Sections 420/34 of the IPC and 24-B of the Immigration Act in the police station Sadar, Gurdaspur.


Gangsters loot dera occupants
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 29
Gangsters, suspected to be of the Kale Kachhewale gang, and having iron and wooden rods struck at the dera of Maggar Singh at Deha village last night and took away Rs 9,000 from the occupants of the dera. Later, they went to the petrol station at Nasrala and also looted cash from the employees sleeping there. The Hoshiarpur sadar police has registered a case under Sections 458, 480 of the IPC in this connection.


4 held for selling minor girl
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, January 29
The police has arrested four persons allegedly for selling a minor girl (15) of the Delhi Gate area here to a physically challenged person of Bhaini Khurd village, near here.

According to an FIR, mother of the girl complained that her girl had been missing for the past one month and some persons had reportedly got her married to Sawarn Singh of Bhaini Khurd village.

The police found the girl at Sawarn Singh’s house following a raid. A case under Sections 363, 366 A, 376, and 120B of the IPC has been registered. 


Medical students left in lurch
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, January 29
Confusion prevails among students who had appeared for pre Medical Entrance Test (PMET) held by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences last year as they are not sure about the result of the counselling held by the university from January 22-24.

A section of students who have written to the Registrar of the university said here today that when the university authorities conducted the counselling last year, some of the students who had qualified PMET 2002 could not get admission to medical college due to some ‘technical’ reasons. After a court case the university conducted fresh counselling for BDS recently which also raised eyebrows about the functioning of the university.

Ms Rajni (changed name) alleged that she was allotted a seat in Muktsar Dental College in fresh counselling by the university, but the college authorities refused to accept her fee. The college authorities had given admissions to a section of their ‘favourite’ students without the permission of the university, she alleged.

Ms Nisha Singla (changed name) alleged that officials of the college bluntly refused to accept the fee from the students given admission by the university even in the presence of the Registrar of the university.

Some of the students who had been sanctioned fresh admissions to the BDS course by the university (earlier they had been unable to get admission) said they were not sure whether they would be admitted by the colleges allotted by the university. Ms Shikha (changed name) rued that a large part of the academic year had been wasted by the university and the mandatory condition of 240 teaching days in an year could not be fulfilled by them.

The coordinator appointed for the fresh counselling on January 22-24, Mr Bindra, said the university was only an agency to implement the decisions of the government. He admitted that Desh Bhagat Dental College, Muktsar, had admitted (they were not accepting fee from students recommended by the university.

Mr Bindra said the Supreme Court had not quashed the fresh counselling held by the university recently, but had only stayed some of the proceedings as an interim relief on January 27.


Paper reading contest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 29
The Department of English, Punjabi University, today organised the annual Sood memorial symposium paper reading contest. Students of the Punjabi University regional centre, Muktsar, bagged the overall trophy in the team’s section. In the individual events, the first and second spots were bagged by Ms Gurleen Ahluwalia and Ms Ashima Arora, respectively.

Both the students study in the Department of English. The third prize was bagged by Ms Rajni of Mukand Lal National College, Yamunanagar. The prize for the `best questioner’ was won by Ms Neeru Chhabra of the Punjabi University Regional centre, Muktsar.

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