Saturday, February 15, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab to de-monopolise liquor trade
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
After having a “bad experience” of the almost monopolised liquor trade, Punjab is all set to de-monopolise the liquor trade in the state. The new excise policy, according to informed sources, is being given final touches in this direction. The policy is expected to be announced before the end of this month, as auction of liquor vends in various districts is to be held next month, probably from March 14 to 24.

Two important features of the new policy are likely to be that liquor business will be distributed among smaller groups. Secondly, there will be no increase in the price of country liquor popularly known as “desi sharab”.

The reason behind not increasing the price of “ desi” liquor is that it is consumed mostly by lower strata of society. Because of its price, they could not afford it and hence turned to drugs, poppy husk etc, the negative social consequences of which are tremendous. Though during the current year, the minimum price of desi liquor per bottle was fixed at Rs 80 but it remained hovering between Rs 90 and Rs 110, according to informed sources.

“Though we have generated good revenue from the monopalised liquor trade, but its consequences, as have been visualised by all concerned, in the long run would be devastating for the state. Hence, it has been decided to get rid of such a business proposition at the earliest”, said a senior officer of the Punjab Government.

The worst part of monopoly business, which has been witnessed in recent past, was the introduction of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar sort of “criminal culture” in the trade. Certain big guns in the trade had raised their private armies to install “nakas” at various places in the state to check the liquor smuggling.

Recently, an executive engineer of the PWD, who was travelling along with his wife and son in a car, was attacked by the goons of a contractor. His car was wrecked and while occupants of the car survived the attack. Even, Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who was obviously shocked at this incident, had to come out with a statement condemning the incident. Early, this week a similar incident took place in Mansa district’s small town Bhikhi, where residents ghearoed the liquor vend and kept the shutters of their establishments down.

“We are seriously worried over the injecting of UP type criminal culture in Punjab’s liquor trade and wanted its end at the earliest. What sort of preventive measures should be taken, we have been discussing for the past a few days.” said the senior officer when asked in this connection.

By the close of this financial year, the government will earn a revenue of Rs 1450 crore from the liquor trade. By the end of January 31, the entire auction money of Rs 1200 crore was recovered from the contractors”, it is learnt.

Informed sources said that in a run up to finalise the excise policy, officers concerned led by Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr Sardool Singh, held meetings with contractors at various places. Almost at all meetings, small contractors raised their voice against the monopoly over the liquor trade. They said that because of big liquor operators in the state, they have become unemployed.


Drugs seized from chemist’s shop
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 14
One day after 12 persons died here after consuming denatured spirit, the local Drug Inspector today went into action by raiding a chemist’s shop and recovered a large number of phencydil bottles far in excess of the prescribed stock.

The local Drug Inspector raided Satgur Medicos in the Tripri area this afternoon and seized a number of drugs in the store. According to the Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, the shopkeeper was found guilty of not keeping any record of the sale of drugs from his shop.

She said besides this, it was found that medicines were not being sold on prescription. Moreover, there was no pharmacist present in the shop during the raid. She said the department would seek the explanation of the shopkeeper and the seized drugs would be taken into the possession of the department after taking permission of court.

Meanwhile, Drug Inspector Harbans Singh could not be contacted despite several attempts. Some people in the city, however, described the raid on a single shop today as an eye wash, saying a comprehensive raid should have been carried out in the city to detect the sale of medicines which were being sold as intoxicants.

A resident of the New Officers Colony said chemist shops adjoining Mohindra College, Modi College and Ayurvedic College were openly selling drugs without prescription and that there was no check on their activities.

In a related development regarding the tragedy, the Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner said investigations done by his department had revealed that the persons who had died in the tragedy were addicts, consuming all kinds of intoxicants with poisonous contents.

He claimed that though the real cause of the deaths would be known only after the post-mortem reports were available, even the consumption of denatured spirit was not the likely cause of the deaths. He said the department had meanwhile taken all preventive measures like writing the word “poison’’ on containers of denatured spirit. He said licenses of two spirit dealers had been cancelled this year itself.


ADGP summons thermal plant officials
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 14
In a new development in the EPF scam in which labour contractors of the Ropar Thermal Plant along with some officials had allegedly swindled about Rs 1 crore from the EPF accounts of labourers working in the plant, the ADGP (Crime) has issued summons to the officials of the plant, directing them to present themselves before the SP (Crime) in connection with the inquiry in the case.

According to sources, in a fax message received by the office of the SSP, Ropar, the ADGP has stated that the officials were being summoned in connection with the inquiry being conducted into the EPF scam on the complaint of the PSEB Chairman Mr Sudhir Mittal.

The summons have added a new dimension to the inquiry into the scam that agencies have been investigating since 1999. It is for the first time that the PSEB Chairman has directly become complainant in the case. Earlier, complaints in the scam had been registered either on behalf of the EPF authorities or the thermal plant authorities.

The sources said the crime wing took up the inquiry into the case from the Ropar police after receiving a DO letter from the PSEB Chairman in this regard. They added that the Chairman had expressed dissatisfaction over the inordinate delay in the investigation. In addition, the crime wing has summoned just four officials of the thermal plant for questioning. Earlier, when the Ropar police demanded from the plant management the list of officials allegedly responsible for the scam, the then General Manager of the plant had two separate lists of 110 engineers.

The sources added that the move was aimed at diluting the police inquiry by naming a large number of engineers in the list of the accused officials. Now with the crime wing summoning just four officials for questioning, it seems they have identified the main culprits against whom criminal proceedings would likely be initiated.


Badal asks Capt to step down on ‘moral grounds’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to step down on moral grounds in the face of the “documentary evidence on his questionable pursuits” published in the newspapers today.

In a statement released through the party’s media office here, Mr Badal described the publication of evidence on the Chief Minister’s “unethical dalliance and moral turpitude” as “ the most damning development involving a Chief Minister.

“Mr Badal said that reports have been published in the media that cannot be dismissed as political allegations since these are backed with pictorial and documentary evidence. For the sake of the future of the morality of children and in the name of the dignity of the high office he holds, I only hope that Captain Amarinder Singh clears the picture before the people before he walks up the Civil Secretariat aisle on Monday.”

The Akali leader described as ‘surprising’ the Chief Minister’s protestations that those who have dared to own the moral and constitutional responsibility for the charges have hit him below the belt.“

The SAD president said that he was ‘amazed’ to read that the Chief Minister and his aides have sought to dismiss the incident as ‘old’. “Does sin have an age or does it come with a time bar? The Chief Minister must do some explaining on how a sin becomes less of a sin simply because it occurred last year or the year before that rather than this year. There is a royal originality in this view of sin and virtue, not known to the common people of Punjab.” Mr Badal hoped that the Chief Minister, being an ex-serviceman, would not bring disgrace to the fraternity which was famous for its high sense of honour and moral uprightness.”


Badal flays CM on MSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said here today that the blame for not getting a decent minimum support price for wheat lay squarely with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, “ who thinks it below his royal dignity to go and lobby with the Centre for farmers’ interests.”

In a statement here, Mr Badal described the MSP for wheat announced by the Centre as totally inadequate and added that he would try to persuade the political leaders at the Centre to take a more realistic view of the situation on the farm front and come to the aid of the beleaguered farmers.

The Secretary of the state unit of the CPI, Dr Joginder Dayal, has also rejected the MSP and has urged the Centre to revise it.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal said that the Chief Minister had made it a part of his working style to confine his role on fighting for the farmers’ interests to shooting off one or two letters. “This is not the way things are done. During the SAD-BJP tenure in Punjab, we used to sit in Delhi for weeks and meet everyone concerned, including the Prime Minister, the minister and the officers concerned. But Capt Amarinder Singh clearly has no time away from his pleasure pursuits to toil for the cause of the common farmers.”


Belarus envoy seeks peaceful solution to Iraq crisis
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Condemning international terrorism in all forms, Mr Uladzimir A. Sakalouski, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus, today sought a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis. The terrorism is common challenge the world is facing today. Belarus condemns terrorism in all forms and manifestations, including trans-border terrorism”, said Mr Sakalouski, while speaking on “Indo-Belarus bilateral relations” at Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Mr Uladzimir was on a two-day visit to the university, organised jointly by the university and the India-Belarus Friendship Association. Earlier, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, welcomed him.

Mr Uladzimir said India was an emerging power, a nation of global importance. Belarus, he said, remained steadfast in its respect for the territorial integrity of India.

The Belarus Ambassador said selective approach and double standards were inadmissible in combating terrorism. “A terrorist is an enemy of the entire world community whether he acts in Kashmir, in Chechnya or in New York. Terrorism has reasons, but no justification. No political or religious motives should be taken into account as murderers of civilians cannot be freedom fighters. They are criminals,” he said.

He said Belarus supported the Draft Comprehensive Convention on combating international terrorism, put forward by India at the United Nations.

The Belarus Ambassador said the UN should play a vital role to further the activities of the International anti-xterrorist Coalition, of which Belarus and India were members.

Mr Sakalouski, however, added that the arbitrary use of force, under the pretext of fighting terrorism, should be opposed and, the use of force against a country, should be sanctioned by the United Nations Security Council. He said that trying to circumvent the UN would mean a slow death of the international organisation, the only body to tackle international relations. “We favour a peacefull solution for the Iraq problem and any military action should be mandated by the UN, he said.

Talking about higher education, he said Belarus was interested in having MoUs on educational exchange programmes with Indian universities in science, applied science, Information Technology, electronics and art and culture.

On Belarusian-Indian friendship, he said the two countries had celebrated the 10th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations last year. Talking about the Belarusian-Indian trade relations, he said that was not significant, but was rising. He said the ongoing globalisation had exercised a heavy impact on the trade.

“The European Union, while expanding, had already engulfed our immediate neighbours, Poland, Lithuania and Latvia. We do not see any danger in it. Rather, we oppose the expansion of NATO that, as we think, lost any sense for existence after the dissolution of the Warsaw pact.”

Giving details about the Belarusian foreign policy, Mr Uladzimir said, “Russia has been our closest political ally with whom we are building an economic and social union.”


BSNL plans crackdown on defaulters
SDM’s office phone connection severed
Raj Sadosh

Abohar, February 14
Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) here has sought the help of the Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police in effecting the recovery of dues amounting to Rs 1 crore in this area, it is learnt.

Sources said lists of chronic defaulters have been supplied to the district authorities, requesting them to collect details of immovable property owned by the defaulters from the revenue department. After this the BSNL proposes to launch an offensive against those who had wilfully defaulted in the payment of telephone bills for the past many years.

The issue was reportedly discussed at the first meeting of revenue officials of the district by the new Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, at the district headquarters on Thursday.

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had not made sincere efforts to identify the chronic defaulters, who had been using telephones issued in the names of their friends and relatives after their own telephone connections were severed due to the non-payment of bills, insiders said. Department officials had earlier not made much efforts to recover dues from the defaulters as they were not vested with strong powers. This had resulted in the piling up of cases of non-payment of bills.

The BSNL had last year temporarily disconnected telephone connections of police stations and individuals in the Punjab Police on account of the non-payment of bills but they were allowed to enjoy one-way hearing facility as the telephones were covered under the “public utility services” category.

The telephone connection inside the municipal council had also remained disconnected for few weeks.

The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) had also initiated similar action for the same reasons against some of its consumers in the official circles but it had to retreat soon as the entire administrative set-up was paralysed due to the suspension of power supply.

Meanwhile, Official sources said today that the telephone connection at the SDM’s office here had been disconnected due to non-payment of Rs 22,000. The amount was due since October 18, 2001.

The BSNL was to recover Rs 79,000 on account of bills for the calls made from the residence of the SDM. For the time being, the phone will provide one-way service only. The BSNL is also likely to disconnect the residence phone in the next few days, it is learnt.

According to sources, the office had not received funds under the “contingencies” head since the formation of the present government in the state.

Since the opening of the TRA branch of the BSNL here, steps to recover dues were being initiated for the first time. The measures to be taken were reportedly discussed at a meeting presided over by the General Manager (Phones) of the district recently.

Initially, the TRA office had been issuing details of the STD calls made by the subscribers regularly but the practice was suspended owing to increased workload. The BSNL has now engaged a standing counsel to speed up the recovery process from the defaulters.


Consulate staffers’ families return
Rashmi Talwar

Wagah, February 14
Following souring of the India-Pakistan relations, three families of the officials of the Indian High Commission in Pakistan crossed the joint checkpost (JCP) about 2.30 p.m., here today. They included Ms Vasundhara Vyas and Mr Rishi Vyas, wife and son of Mr Sudhir Vyas, officiating High Commissioner, Ms Sandhaya Balu and Mr Ashwani Balu, family of Mr R.K. Balu, Ms Jagdamba Anand and Ms Renu Anand, family of Mr R.L. Anand, both officials of the Indian High Commission.

Talking to The Tribune, Ms Vasundhara Vyas said the Pakistan Government does not let go of any opportunity to harass Indians in Pakistan. She said members of the ISI were always spying on Indians, trying to harass them.

Quoting the January 18 incident, she said her family, while, going to the Malaysian High Commission for a dinner, was stopped thrice. She said in the past three and a half years of her stay in Pakistan, not a single day had passed off peacefully.

The officiating High Commissioner’s wife said Indians there lived under the shadow of the gun and videos of several dinners, attended by Indian women, were prepared and shown in ‘mushairas’.

Mr Ashwani Balu said Pakistani children were being fed on a regular diet of terrorism and ‘jehad’. He said Indians in Pakistan felt imprisoned as even their classmates were not allowed to intermingle with them.


PMT candidates cry foul
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 14
Faults and procedural lapses on the part of Baba Farid University, of Health Sciences have played havoc with the careers of students who had appeared in the Pre-Medical (PMT) 2002. Some of them have wasted one precious year and are still not sure what the future has in store for them.

Nikki Brar (changed name), who was placed at rank 221 in the PMT 2002, told ‘The Tribune’ here today that about 25 seats in the MBBS course have been kept vacant by the university till date while students like her were ‘denied’ admissions. She pointed out that even after more than six months of the PMT, she was not sure of admission in a medical college.

She said 11 seats in the NRI quota and 14 seats in the 15 per cent all-India quota remained vacant after the counselling held in September, 2002. After the fresh counselling held last month, only six seats were filled, one from the NRI category and five seats of this category were converted into open/general seats. She said that the university authorities had said during the counselling held last month that if the Director-General, Health Services (India), released the seats of the all-India quota to the university, the same would be filled from PMT the merit.

Many students like her have been sitting idle waiting admissions as they have not been denied admissions by the university.

Sources in the university said that five seats in the course had been kept vacant on the orders of a court, as some students have filed suits. Students on other hand, maintained that the Supreme Court, in its decision pronounced on January 27, 2003, ordered that the vacant seats from the all-India CBSE quota be filled from the state PMT merit. Dr P.S. Sandhu, Registrar-cum-in charge Vice-Chancellor, could not be contacted despite repeated efforts.


Don’t play into Cong hands, bureaucrats told
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 14
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the SAD and former Chief Minister, talking to newsmen near here today said the SAD-BJP when voted to power would probe the “excesses” committed by the current ruling politicians and bureaucrats. He warned the bureaucratic set-up in Punjab to stop playing into the hands of the ruling Congress party.

Mr Badal said he would join the BJP candidate’s campaign in Shimla on February 17. Earlier, addressing a largely attended public meeting, Mr Badal alleged that the Punjab ministers who went to Gujarat during the Assembly elections brought only defame for Punjabis by involving themselves with a woman.

Mr Badal said the allowance of Rs 10 per quintal on the minimum support price of wheat was too meagre. The CM should have taken up the matter seriously with the Prime Minister and Union Agriculture Minister. Mr Badal laid the foundation stone of the academic block of Mata Sahib Kaur Girls College at Jandha Lubana. The SGPC released a grant of Rs 64 lakh for the construction of the block. Mr Sekhwan said admission in the college would start from the next academic session, beginning in April.


BJP to hold protest march
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
The Punjab unit of the BJP will hold a protest march and dharna tomorrow here against the alleged failure of the Capt Amarinder Singh government to fulfil the promises made in the election manifesto before Assembly elections.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, general secretary of the party, said that the Capt Amarinder Singh Government had not only failed on all fronts but it had let down the people of the state as far as keeping the promises made to them was concerned.

The government’s campaign against corruption had proved to be a damp squib. It was not only politically motivated but also selective.

No judicial commission was set up for dealing with the corruption cases as was promised. Above all, neither the Chief Minister himself nor any of his ministers had declared their assets yet. There was rampant corruption all around in government offices etc.


Chameli is ZP chief, Harjit vice-chief
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 14
Election for the post of chairman and vice-chairman of Zila Parishad of Faridkot district were put off yesterday when no Zila Parishad member came to take part in the process.

Later after the persuasion of all 12 members of Zila Parishad and belonging to the Congress, he reconvened the meeting and conducted the poll process. Mr Kuldip Singh Chameli and Mrs Harjit Kaur, both Congress candidates, were declared elected chairman and vice-chairperson, respectively.

Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health and Rural Development Panchayats, had arrived here to preside over the district Planning Board meeting along with Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Vice-President, PPCC, earlier held a long discussion and meeting with all members on the selection of the candidates for both posts. He later discussed the matter with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on telephone who proposed the name of Mr Chameli. Mr Randhawa talking to mediapersons said the candidate had been selected unanimously with the approval of both the Chief. Minister and the PPCC chief. Mr Avtar Singh Brar, and Mr Upinder Sharma, Vice-President and General Secretary, PPCC, and former MLAs, Faridkot and Kotkapura, respectively, said they bowed before the decision of the Punjab party high command.


Sewa Dal units dissolved
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Mr Rajinder Rasrania, Chief Organiser, Punjab Congress Sewa Dal, said that all district and subordinate units of the Sewa Dal had been dissolved with immediate effect in the state on the directions from Mr Prahlad Yadav, Chief Organiser of the All India Congress Sewa Dal.


Flue gas system to check pollution from GNDTP
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 14
To curb the coal ash rain in the city and surrounding areas, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has started erecting a flue gas system in units three and four of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP). This is being done to bring down the emission levels from the chimneys of the plant to the permissible limits set by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB).

According to official sources for the past two months, a Mumbai-based company had been erecting the flue gas system in the units. The work would be completed within two to three weeks. A sum of Rs 3.26 crore would be spent on the job.

The need to instal the flue gas system in the units arose as the chimneys of all four units of the GNDTP of 110 mw each capacity had become a major source of health hazard. The coal ash emitted from these chimneys used to rain here and in surrounding areas, thereby exposing the residents to various diseases, including eye ailments, asthma, bronchitis and tuberculosis.

The flue gas system in the unit number one and two installed as the PSEB had initiated steps to carry out its renovation and modernisation (R and M) at a cost of about Rs 200 crore.

Sources added that over the years, the menace of emission of coal ash from the chimneys acquired such alarming proportion that an increase in the number of patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis and emphysema was reported. Many residents had stopped keeping their clothes in the open for drying due to the problem. The coal ash had been hitting the area, as the emission of flyash from chimneys was more than 350 mg/NM3 against the prescribed limit of 150 mg/NM3.

Mr S.C. Mahajan, General Manager, GNDTP, said the GNDTP had given an undertaking to the PPCB to bring down the emission levels within the limits prescribed by it. He added that it was hoped that the flue gas system would be installed within two weeks and it would be made operational shortly.

Under this system, the tanks filled with liquid ammonia would be installed in the chimneys.

The evaporators and ejectors would also be installed. All this equipment would help in the evaporisation of flyash in an environmentally-friendly manner.

He pointed out that when the renovation and modernisation of unit number three and four would be carried out, the flue gas system would be uprooted and installed at some other thermal plant being run by the PSEB.


Governor inaugurates bronchology conference
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 14
The Punjab Governor, Lt-Gen JFR Jacob (retd), today expressed concern over a steep hike in the incidence of pulmonary problems due to changing lifestyles, atomospheric pollution and increasing industrialisation.

General Jacob, who inaugurated a three-day VIII National Conference on Bronchology here today, said it was a matter of even greater concern that a number of pulmonary diseases went undetected for lack of awareness among people. Such problems could be effectively tackled nowadays, thanks to inventions and increasing use of bronchoscope. With such continuous advancements in the medical field, particularly in the field of endoscopy, not only specialists but all doctors were deriving benefit.

He said he was happy that the Indian Association of Bronchology had chosen Jalandhar as the venue for its conference as the city had the largest concentration of nursing homes and hospitals in the whole of Asia.

Dr H.J. Singh organising secretary of the conference, said over 500 delegates from India and abroad were participating in the conference during which international experts would share the latest techniques on bronchial stenting, treatment of asthma, chronic obstructive sleep apnoea and TB. He said on the theme of sleep disorders alone, 20 papers would be presented and the participants included Dr Uday Prakash, first Indian to be the President of the American College of Chest Physicians, Dr Hirokuni Yoshimura, President of the World Bronchology Association and Dr Anil Mehta, head of the Bronchology Division, USA.

Mr Ramesh Dogra, Punjab Health Minister, said such conferences created awareness among common people about dreaded diseases and the treatments available. He said the National TB Control Programme was successful in lowering the incidence of deaths caused by TB and other such diseases.

Mr Vijay Kumar Chopra, Editor-in-Chief of the Punjab Kesri group of newspapers, and Mr K.Siva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, also spoke.


Seminar on Guru Nanak’s ‘Maru Solhe’ held
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Guru Nanak’s long verses of 16 stanzas in Maru raag of Guru Granth Sahib are important because it is the only writing of the founder of Sikhism wherein he has discussed in detail various aspects of cosmology and the creation of the world. This was stated here today by an eminent historian, Dr Kirpal Singh, of Chandigarh while presiding over a two-day international seminar on Guru Nanak’s bani, “Maru Solhe”.

The seminar is being organised by the Department of Guru Nanak Studies of Guru Nanak Dev University here. Dr. S.P. Singh Vice-Chancellor, welcomed the chief guest and the participating delegates Dr Kulbir Singh Thind of the USA inaugurated the seminar.

Dr. Thind in his paper ‘A Study of Guru Nanak’s Bani: Solhe in Raag Maru with the help of ‘Gurbani CD-a different view’ highlighted various aspects to be studied from the CD.

In his keynote address on world view and thought in Maru Solhe of Guru Nanak. Dr Jagihar Singh of Delhi said reality has been addressed through the spiritual idiom. in the Solhe. While having a dialogue with the contemporary society in invisible form, he said, it gives birth to a revolutionary exposition which disseminates message at socio-spiritual level, awakening a new consciousness. The created world in Maru Solhe manifests an exposition of the depressed consciousness and human emancipation.

Dr S.P. Singh said Guru Nanak Dev University is committed to spread the message of Guru Nanak at the global level and this was the 17th seminar of the series. He also released a Gurbani CD prepared by Dr Baljinder Singh of the USA.

Dr Balwant Singh Dhillon, coordinator of the seminar, speaking on the Study of Ontological Concerns’ in Maru Solhe said Guru Nanak Dev has determined the nature of Sikh ontological concerns — the ultimate reality, world and man. Each word of his Bani is directly or indirectly concerned with the above topics and provides their vivid presentation and lucid exposition.

Prof. Hardev Singh Virk in his paper “The Principle of Cosmology in Maru Solhe of Guru Nanak said the principle of cosmology in the Solhe should be considered as the guide for the conception of modern science and the beginning and dissolution of creation.


Kidney scam: plea to quash FIR
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
In less than a month after the great kidney conspiracy was unearthed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion for March 12 on a petition filed by Dr Bhupinder Singh seeking the quashing of first information report registered against him.

Dr Bhupinder Singh, in his petition, had also sought the transfer of the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation. He had added that the police was not competent to register the case.

The High Court had earlier stayed the arrest of Dr Bhupinder Singh, along with two other accused in the case. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had submitted that the police had no jurisdiction to register a criminal case. The police, he had added, was trying to snatch power from the appropriate authority appointed by the state government which was to inspect the hospitals, besides the nursing homes, and in case of complaint look into the matter before filing complaint before the Magistrate if there was any violation.

It may be recalled that as per the newspaper reports, two well-known doctors were in the docks, while several donor-labourers were in jail. Reports had 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, About 300 labourers had lost their kidneys, approximately 25 their lives.

Recruitment scam

A bunch of petitions filed in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam case will come up for hearing on February 17 before the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The case was adjourned by the High Court today after hearing arguments at length today.

It may be recalled that counsel for PCS officers, challenging the action of termination, had submitted that there was no material with the state government for passing the order. Counsel appearing on the behalf of Punjab state, on the other hand, had contended that even though there may not be direct evidence against all the candidates, they could not be “cleared” in view of Rs 22-crore recovery from then Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu and his family.


DSP released on interim bail
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 14
Ms Jatinder Kaur, Duty Magistrate, Mansa, today released Gurjit Singh, DSP of Sherpur, on interim bail for one day and directed him to appear tomorrow before the committing court of Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMIC) Mansa for further orders.

The interim bail order was passed by the JMIC duty as per the directions of Punjab and Haryana High Court which had directed the DSP Sherpur to appear before the committing court.

The case pertains to Gurmail Singh, alias Mela, son of Bachan Singh of Akkanwali in the district, who according to the FIR has been missing since January 29, 1993. Gurmail Singh’s father alleged that Gurjit Singh, the then Inspector CIA staff Mansa. Inspector Chuhar Singh and another police inspector, all then posted in the district, kidnapped Gurmail Singh on January 29, 1993 as witnessed by residents of Dulowal village of the district.

Later, Gurmail Singh, alias Mela, was liquidated by the police officials as alleged by Bachan Singh who filed a writ in the high court which ordered an inquiry to be conducted by District and Sessions Judge, Bathinda.


Polling date advanced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Mr C.L. Bains, State Election Commissioner, Punjab, said today that the polling date for the municipal elections in the state had been advanced to March 9 from March 12 because of unavoidable reasons. He said that school buildings would not be available on March 12 because of annual examinations, so the polling day had been advanced to March 9.

Announcing the schedule, he said the last date for filing nominations was February 27 and scrutiny would be done the next day.

The withdrawal of nomination papers would be on March 1 and the polling would be held, if necessary, on March 9. The election process would be completed by March 12.


Badungar calls meeting on Khalsa Games
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President of the SGPC, has called a meeting of seven member subcommittee at Anandpur Sahib on February 26 to decide dates of the second Khalsa Games scheduled to be held at Anandpur Sahib.

The subcommittee has five principals and two others as members. According to Mr G.S. Walia, principal of Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, the SGPC has already made budgetary provision to the tune of Rs 50 lakh for creating sports infrastructure and other facilities for Sikh students. It has been learnt that Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister, had also promised a matching grant (Rs 50 lakh) through the Sports Ministry.


Proposal mooted to abolish octroi
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
A proposal has been mooted to abolish octroi in Punjab. The proposal is being discussed at the top level, according to informed sources.

The sources said the abolition of octroi would be made a part of the new industrial policy, the final draft of which was being prepared by the authorities concerned. The policy is to be announced by March 1. The ruling party had promised to abolish octroi in its election manifesto.

As per the proposal, octroi is supposed to be replaced with entry tax, which will be levied on the value of goods entering into Punjab at the rate of one per cent. The realisation from the entry tax, according to an estimate, will be to the tune of Rs 700 crore. At present, over 100 municipal bodies earn about Rs 500 crore from octroi.


Patiala heritage fest opens
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 14
Inaugurating the Patiala heritage festival, Punjab Governor J.F.R. Jacob today said owning to its dynastic history, Patiala had the potential to emerge on the international tourist map. He further said that the city’s unforgettable history and rich culture would definitely attract much tourist traffic.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said the revenue earned from the heritage festival would be utilised for restoration work of Quila Mubarak. Exhorting the youth to understand the history and culture of their region, the Chief Minister said the festival would provide a perfect occasion to familiarise the youth with the glorious culture, traditions and arts of this region.

A torchlight procession was inaugurated from the aesthetically lighted quila and was taken around the city. Complete with traditional attire, martial arts and other cultural events were also performed in front of the dignitaries and thousands who had come to witness the inaugural function.

The Chief Minister will inaugurate the crafts mela at Sheesh Mahal tomorrow. More than 150 artistes, who had participated in the Suraj Kund mela at Haryana will display their artefacts.


Legal notice to HT
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 14
Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, and Chairman, Advisory Committee on Fiscal Reforms and Financial Reconstruction and Resource Mobilisation to the Chief Minister, Punjab, has served a legal notice on The Hindustan Times.

The notice follows a news item the said newspaper had published on February 10, dateline Dharmsala. It is attributed to BJP MP, Mr Madan Lal Khurana, who got ‘’personal’’ with Capt. Amarinder Singh, making ‘’defamatory and false’’ statements.

The legal notice has asked The Hindustan Times to publicly withdraw the malicious accusations/imputations and publicly apologise and express regrets not only to the Chief Minister but also to all Punjabis and Congress men within seven days of the receipt of the notice or in the alternative pay Rs 100 crore, as compensation for the harm/damage done to Capt. Amarinder Singh.

If there was no response within seven days to the aforementioned then Mr Singla will file a civil suit to claim damages. The legal notice has been served through advocate, Mr Ravi Kant.


School fund case: bail pleas rejected
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 14
The camp court of Additional District and Sessions Judge Mansa, Mr Jaspal Singh, yesterday dismissed two anticipatory bail applications, one filed by four local advocates — Dalip Singh, Kuldeep Singh Chahal, Harcharan Singh Sidhu and Jagjit Singh — and the other by Mukhtiar Singh Tandian, SGPC member.

The case was registered by the city police on October 17, 2002, against 14 persons. The others involved in the case are sitting SAD(B) MLA from Budhlada Harbant Singh Datewas, former SAD(B) MLA from Mansa, Sukhwinder Singh Aulakh, former District Education Officer (Secondary), Mansa, Bhupinder Kaur, former president of the Truck Operators Union, Mansa, Malkiat Singh Bhapla, president, District Youth Akali Dal (B) Lakhwinder Singh Moosa and president of the state unit of Punjab Arhtiya Association Narinder Paul Danewalia.

Mr Maghar Singh, president of the managing committee of the local Khalsa High School, had alleged in the FIR that the accused in conspiracy with the then DEO(S) Bhupinder Kaur had misappropriated about Rs 22 lakh of the school funds.


SAD (A) to hold ‘rasta roko’ stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 14
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will organise a ‘rasta roko’ agitation during which it will disrupt rail and road traffic on March 1 to protest against the failure of the government to solve the problems of farmers and the arrest of defaulting farmers.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, SAD (A) chief, stated this here today at a press conference.

He said to highlight the plight of Punjab’s farmers, the party had decided to launch the agitation, adding that the farmers of the state were facing a financial crunch due to the wrong policies of the government.

Mr Mann said while the expenditure on agriculture inputs had increased manifold during the past few years, the MSP of various crops had not increased proportionately. He added that while no action was taken against industrialists who were not repaying lakhs of rupees taken as loans from government institutes, farmers were being arrested for defaulting on petty amounts.

Mr Mann said in the wake of implementation of the Hindutva agenda in the country, it had become necessary that the members of minority communities should protect themselves.

He said the Sikhs felt alienated when the Sangh parivar outfits were busy trying to form a Hindu nation.

He said even some of members of the judiciary had been “saffronised” and they were giving decisions against the members of minority communities.

He said his party would meet the President and urge him to repeal the death sentence of Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar.


SGPC to file mercy plea for Bhullar

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 14
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee’s executive today unanimously decided to file a mercy petition for Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar, sentenced to death in the bomb blast case outside the Indian National Youth Congress’ headquarters in New Delhi in 1993.

SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar said the decision to submit a mercy petition to the President to commute the death sentence of Bhullar was taken by the executive which met here under him. He said death sentence as such should be abolished in India. He said the SGPC had also decided to implead in the anti-Sikh riot cases, adding that it had hired a Delhi-based lawyer for the purpose. UNI


Sena activists play spoilsport on V-Day
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, February 14
Activists of the Shiv Sena and the Bharatya Janata Yuva Morcha targeted youngsters on Valentine’s Day today. Led by their Presidents Inderjit Karwal and Sudarshan Dhillon the activists of the two parties shooed away boys and girls from a fast food front, tore Valentine’s Day protesters, pasted outside an eatery on the local Palahi road, and chased away girls and boys sitting in a car on the Hoshiarpur road. It is learnt that the enraged activists even damaged the car. However, the police when contacted first outrightly denied the incident and later termed it as a minor altercation.

The protesters also made a bonfire of Valentine’s Day cards and warned hotel and restaurant owners against holding any special functions on the occasion.

Despite all this, some youngsters managed to the exchange flowers on the day.


Politicians told to desist from mud-slinging
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 14
The Punjab Congress president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, here today said that politicians should desist from personal mud-slinging. Mr Hanspal was talking to context of Mr Madan Lal Khurana’s allegations about Punjab’s Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s liaison with a woman pilot officer.

When asked to comment about the photographs of Capt Amarinder Singh along with his woman acquaintance published in a section of media, Mr Hanspal said he found nothing objectionable in the photograph. Mr Hanspal said that before pointing an accusing finger at anyone, we should do some introspection.

Mr Gurnaib Singh Brar, former Member, Agriculture Price Commission, criticised the decision of the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs (CCEA) for not augmenting the MSP of wheat. He said the Central government had played a cruel joke with farmers. He said the special drought relief was not sufficient.


Sikhs: use ‘Arya’ for nationality
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
Sikh scholars in a letter to RSS chief K.C. Sudershan has suggested that the word ‘Arya’ should be used to define the symbol of nationality as opposed to the word ‘Hindu’.

Prof Suba Singh, Prof Prem Singh, president and general secretary of the Sikh Scholars Forum, respectively, Mr Satnam Singh, advocate, Dr Gurbachan Singh Bachan former secretary SGPC, Dr Gurmek Singh of Punjabi University, Patiala, and Dr Jagdeep Singh of the Department of Punjabi, Khalsa College, here in a joint statement said the word ‘Hindu’ was not found in any Indian scripture, including ‘Amal Kosh’, the great Sanskrit shabad kosh.

They challenged Mr Sudershan to have a discussion on these observation in the media or personally.


Army recruitments from tomorrow

Hoshiarpur, February 14
Recruitments for the Jat Sikh, Ramdasia Sikh, Majhabi Sikh and Dogra regiments of the Indian Army for Hoshiarpur, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr districts will be held from February 16 to 23 at Samiti Stadium, Dasuya. This was disclosed by Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, in a press statement here yesterday.

He said youths having minimum matric qualification with 45 per cent marks, 16 between 21 years and with at least 170 cm height were eligible. Candidates of the Kandi area having 163 cm height were also eligible.

He said candidates should bring their original certificates along with two photostated copies of each of them and 12 photographs with turban and 12 without turban. OC


Thandal ‘touts’ remanded
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 14
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded two alleged touts of former Akali Minister Sohan Singh Thandal, who is already in judicial custody, till February 27 and ordered that they should be produced before the Special Judge Ropar, that day.

Charan Dass of Bharowal village and Karnail Singh of Garhshankar were arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in connection with a case registered against Thandal on a charge of allegedly amassing wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income.

Mr Charanjeev Arora, public prosecutor pleaded for seven days police remand of both the accused as they had admitted during police remand that they had purchased some property in which money given by Mr Thandal was invested.


Play decries female foeticide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
Rangtoli, a famous theatre group, presented a Punjabi play on female foeticide titled ‘Treemat’ at the Thakur Singh Fine Arts Pallery auditorium here today.

Sponsored by the Punjab Health and Family Welfare Department, it was directed by Neeta Mohindra. The play was an attempt to shatter the myth about the importance of a son in a family. It featured an attack on the use of modern scientific methods to determine the sex of the foetus and female foeticide.

The trend was shown as a social ill which could lead to drastic human behaviour in the face of an imbalance in the male/female ratio. Written by Swarajbir, the role of Tej Kaur was performed by Kavita and Pawan played ‘dai’. Rajesh Sobti provided music and Poonam Rampal did the costumes.


Sekhwan joins vigilance probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 14
Former Akali minister Sewa Singh Sekhwan today joined investigation in the vigilance charges framed against him.

Mr Sekhwan joined the investigation following a court order. It is learnt that Mr Sekhwan remained in the vigilance office here for more than an hour. Mr Sekhwan alleged that deliberate attempts were being made to scuttle his chances of getting anticipatory bail by the Vigilance Bureau.


PA working despite removal
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 14
Though Mr Prithipal Singh Sandhu, relative of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, was removed as personal assistant to the Jathedar of Akal Takht, following corruption charges last year, he is still working in the same capacity at the Akal Takht, secretariat.

Mr Sandhu had also accompanied the Jathedar of Akal Takht during his foreign tour.


Pak national shot dead

Batala, February 14
A Pakistani national was shot dead by Border Security Force (BSF) personnel near Gania ke Bet in the Dera Baba Nanak sector last night, the police said today.

The police said the Pakistani national sneaked into Indian territory when BSF personnel challenged him. He tried to return to Pakistan but the BSF personnel opened fire. PTI


Spl Lok Adalat today

Bathinda, February 14
A special Lok Adalat will be held at the District Courts tomorrow for settling default loan cases of cooperative societies. This was stated in a press note issued today by Mr H.S. Dhaliwal, Secretary, District Legal Services Authority. Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner would inaugurate it. OC


Anganwari workers seek honorarium

Bathinda, February 14
A delegation of anganwari workers, who have not been paid their honorarium for the past nine months, met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, to apprise him of their problems. The workers urged the Deputy Commissioner to make arrangements for giving them the honorarium. They said their counterparts in other blocks of the state had been paid regularly. OC


Arhtiya-farmer row: panels to be set up
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, February 14
Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, today said that to solve the tussle between the farmers and the arhtiyas, committees headed by Subdivisional Magistrates (SDMs) would be set up.

These committees would have representatives of farmers, panchayats, and commission agents.

Stating this at a meeting with the arhtiyas at Gidderbaha town of this district, Ms Sharma said many complaints had been received by the authorities that farmers did not repay the loans raised from commission agents.

She said to solve such issues and reduce friction between the farmers and the arhtiyas, these committees would prove useful.

She said in case the fending parties belonged to urban areas, the president of the local body would be a member of the committee instead of the sarpanch of the village.

She congratulated the Arhtiyas Association for running non-profit organisations. She said the procurement had been completed smoothly last year and the administration was preparing for the wheat procurement season.

She also directed the PSEB authorities to make arrangements to distribute electricity bills in the town to prevent any harassment of consumers.

Ms Sharma said farmers and other people should make the most of Special Lok Adalat to be held here on March 22. She also distributed 177 cheques to the commission agents.

She also highlighted the role of Lok Adalats in settling disputes.


Man, son held on murder charge
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 14
The police has arrested Kulwant Singh and his son Rajwinder Singh, both of Bahui village, near here, on the charge of murdering Sarwan Singh, brother of Kulwant Singh, of the same village.

According to a press note issued yesterday, Dr R.N. Dhoke, SSP, said Jagdeep Singh, son of the deceased, in a report to the police alleged that the deceased, along with his three brothers owned joint land which they had temporarily partitioned between themselves for cultivation. Kulwant Singh was demanding one acre land out of the three acres adjoining the road which was being cultivated by Sarwan Singh. Kulwant Singh used to fight with Sarwan Singh to get that land.

Jagdeep alleged that on February 9 at about 6 pm when he along with his father Sarwan Singh and mother were going to a dera Kulwant Singh, his two sons Rajwinder Singh and Gurbhej Singh, who were already standing there, dragged his father in the fields where they gave him severe blows as a result of which he died on the spot.

The police has registered a case under Section 304, IPC, against Kulwant Singh, Rajwinder Singh and Gurbhej Singh. Kulwant Singh and Rajwinder Singh have been arrested but Gurbhej Singh is absconding.


Students serve ultimatum
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 14
The district unit of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) today served an ultimatum on the police that if it failed to arrest till tomorrow Bogar Singh, Teeta and their accomplices, who had allegedly attacked PRSU leaders a few days ago at Sunam, the union would be compelled to chalk out an agitational programme in this regard.

In a press note issued here today, the district secretary of the union, Mr Sukhwinder Singh said the decision had been taken at a meeting of the union held at the state headquarters of the PRSU here today. He said the attack had been made on the PRSU leaders about four days ago but the police had not arrested any guilty person so far.

Mr Sukhwinder Singh also alleged that the attack on the PRSU leaders had been made as they were opposing the activities, including misbehaving with girl students, of Bogar Singh and his accomplices.

He also stated that to curb such activities in Sunam town, a meeting of the PRSU would be held at Sunam on February 15.


Punjabi varsity security keeps spirits in check
Sukant Deepak

Patiala, February 14
Despite fervor created by card galleries, restaurants and pubs in Patiala, Valentine’s Day in the city turned out to be a major disappointment, especially in Punjabi University. With university security all geared up as if to handle a mob-like scenario, the checking of ID cards at the main entrance to the varsity yielded little result as outsiders outnumbered the university students. Expecting the fairer sex to accept flowers from them, youths got a rude shock when several of the females did not even care to look at them while they recited their lines.

Most of the flower exchanges were witnessed between classmates, as if to keep each others’ heart. It was all chaos at the varsity with most of the male students burning their petrol during their ‘gheris’ to the girls’ hostels. Most of the female students said the day had nothing new to offer. “Same old lines from same old faces”, said one of the females.

The scene was however different at the usual hang out spots in the city, including the 22 number phatak. Decorated shops and discounted liquor at pubs were a saving grace for many. Some of the young men sitting at one of the bars stressed that the day was like any other. “Our schedule seldom changes, no women therefore no special day” he said.

The road from the 22 number phatak to Thapar College seemed most busy, as youngsters could be seen at different restaurants and pubs. Several of them said the best part of such festivals was the fact that they offered a great change from the monotony of life. “Although I do not need to be reminded that somebody cares for me, but Valentines provides an occasion to have a good time” a young woman said.

Several couples on their bikes could be seen arguing with policemen as they were stopped due to the heavy VIP presence in the city owning to the inauguration of the Patiala Heritage Festival. With many roadblocks around the city, Valentines for several “outdoor” couples was not good enough. Stressing that the people were yet to “grow up”, a group of youngsters said they still invited glances from people in the restaurants.

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