Wednesday, February 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Bajwa, Samra sue Modi, Shah
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 18
The Punjab Ministers, Mr Amarjit Singh Samra and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, whose names have figured in the alleged sex racket in Gujarat during poll campaign today filed criminal complaint against Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi and Gujarat Home Minister Amit Shah in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr A.S. Grewal, here. The ministers, who filed separate complaints under Section 499, 500 and 501 of the IPC, contended that Mr Shah, in connivance with Mr Modi, held a press conference at Ahmedabad to defame them. Enclosing the copies of a national newspaper on reported comments of Mr Shah pertaining to alleged involvement of the ministers in a sex racket, the complainants alleged that the statement issued by the Gujarat Home Minister was an act of malice and, knowingly that it was a farce and had been issued to defame them amongst the public.

They further said that no such incident occurred in the hotel, where the complainants, were staying during the election duty from December 2 to December 9 last year even as the hotel staff had denied the contents of the statement issued by the Gujarat Home Minister. The statement of both the ministers and prime witnesses were reordered by the court and next date for recording the statements of other witnesses was fixed for February 22.

Later talking to reporters, Mr Bajwa and Mr Samra, who were accompanied by Assistant Advocate General, Punjab, Harpreet Singh Sandhu, alleged that the BJP was trying to target minorities by levelling baseless allegations against them. “In fact, the BJP is heading for a defeat in Himachal and the mention of our names in relation to alleged sex racket in Gujarat was a pre-planned to divert the attention of people from the deeds of HP Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal”, Mr Samra alleged. On allegations levelled against him, Mr Bajwa alleged that the BJP was trying to stir passions of people of the hill state by targeting the ministers belonging to minority community. When asked about publication of a photograph by a Gujarat based newspaper showing him and a Congress MLA coming out of a park with a woman, Mr Bajwa said that a defamation case would soon be filed against the newspaper for tarnishing his repute. “In fact, the BJP had released the photograph to whip up the issue during poll campaign in Himachal even as scores of people used to get themselves photographed with me as a political leader. The release of photograph to various Punjab based newspapers this afternoon is planned to suit the visit of Mr Narendra Modi in HP, who engineered the killings of hundreds of Muslims during Gujarat riots”, Mr Bajwa added.


Waiting for golden grains, Punjab sees red
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
The official date for the commencement of wheat procurement is April 1. The minimum support price (MSP) for wheat (2003-04) remains the same as last year — Rs 620 per quintal, but with additional Rs 10 as draught relief. Punjab had sought Rs 790 per quintal as the MSP.

Following prescribed method of calculating the cost of production while making its suggestions to the Commission of Agriculture Costs and Prices, Punjab concluded that price for wheat, based on cost of cultivation, worked out to be Rs 690 per quintal. In case the parity approach for fixing the prices was followed, the average price (1970-71 base year) worked out to be Rs 885 per quintal. The average of these two approaches came to Rs 788 per quintal or say Rs 790 per quintal, the price Punjab had demanded.

The demanded price shows there was an increase of 27.4 per cent over that of last year’s MSP of Rs 620 per quintal and 3.9 per cent more than the price demanded, that is Rs 760 per quintal in the previous year.

Farmers and politicians have protested against the “low” MSP. Economists have justified retention of the “old” MSP and, in fact, favour a reduced MSP to promote diversification.

Punjab is the main producer and contributor of wheat to the central grain pool. But at present it is burdened with “old” wheat stock of nearly 106 lakh tonnes out of a total stock of 175 lakh tonnes. Together, the wheat/paddy stock, which Punjab holds now, is worth Rs 11,200 crore. The Centre owes to Punjab Rs 1560.58 crore by way of “only interest” on this stock.

Punjab is also upset over the “slow” movement of wheat and accuses the FCI of following neither “first in, first out” nor “prorate” basis for clearing the stocks. There is wide disparity in the movement of wheat outside Punjab. To give just one example, against 15.74 per cent state agencies’ wheat, the FCI moved out 43.22 per cent of its wheat in 2002-03. Thus, longer the storage, higher the losses the state procurement agencies bear. Thus the total dues that the FCI owes to Punjab’s Food Department alone are Rs 4,342 crore.

The matter has been taken up with the Centre time and again. Yet it remains unresolved. The latest effort was when Punjab minister, Lal Singh presented a memorandum to Union minister Sharad Yadav in Chandigarh on February 7.

Though conscious of “negative” publicity in the media, Markfed has suggested that the Centre should be impressed upon to help Punjab through its open market sale scheme (OMSS). Punjab has ‘’old’’ stocks dating back 1997-98. As per Markfed’s note to Mr Lal Singh, the shelf life of these grains is getting affected as storage is in the open, exposed to vagaries of weather.

Under the OMSS, the Centre issues wheat stocks of old crops at about Rs 700 per quintal. Anyone can get these releases as per the policy wherever the release order is more than 10 tonnes. Since the Centre has not compensated Punjab for stocks ‘’rejected or sold at lower prices’’ in the past, Punjab should take a conscious decision to get the stocks released under the OMSS and later auction in the normal manner. Such a step will save the procurement agencies (per quintal) Rs 302, Rs 325 and Rs 251, respectively, for 1998-99, 1999-2000 and 2000-01.

In this backdrop, arrangements for procurement of 120 lakh tonnes of wheat have been made for 2003-04. Mr Lal Singh has reviewed these and fixed the procurement percentage share of the state agencies concerned and the FCI.

Even as farmers wait for the harvest of golden grains, Punjab sees red in dealing with the Centre when it comes to pending issues of foodgrains. Punjab is, thus, paying a heavy price for its contribution to the central grain pool and for ushering in the Green Revolution!


MSP for wheat: CM to meet Vajpayee
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 18
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh will meet Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee in New Delhi in the first week of March on the issue of minimum support price for wheat. The Chief Minister will also discuss other problems of the state at the meeting. This was stated by Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, Political Secretary, to the Chief Minister to reporters at the residence of Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, President, District Congress Committee, Faridkot here today. Mr Barsat criticised former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for hindering settlement of Punjab issues.

He said the Micro Hydel Projects would be set up on big distributaries to generate power. The work on the project will start int he next six months, said Mr Barsat. The District Planning Boards had been set up to start development works in rural and urban areas at the earliest. Stress would be to promote agro-based units to benefit farmers. Following results of the export zone in Gurdaspur district in the export of Basmati rice a decision had been taken to create such type of zones in different parts of the state to export other products. He assured that the new VAT taxation system would benefit industrialists and traders. On charges of immorality against two Punjab Ministers Mr Amarjit Singh Samra and Mr Partap Singh Bajwa recently, Mr Barsat alleged that the BJP was trying to gain political gains in Himachal assembly elections. He hoped that voters of the Himachal would not be misled by such acts of the BJP.


Managing manpower — Punjab style
Surplus pool likely of one lakh employees
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
As part of the medium term fiscal programme outlined in the current year Budget, the Punjab Civil Services (Redeployment of Surplus Employees) Rules, 2003, have been framed for regulating re-deployment/readjustment of surplus staff.

It is proposed to appoint a commissioner, surplus pool, and constitute a restructuring and reforms mission for the implementation of the scheme. The Director, Treasury and Accounts, will be the drawing and disbursing officer for employees of the surplus pool.

As an enabling instrument, a master manpower record register of each department is also on the anvil. The data obtained on vacancies is now being analysed. A software will be ready soon. Accurate information is being sought from departments.

According to informed sources, the exercise aims at restructuring of all major departments to identify the redundant staff, shift it to the surplus pool and redeploy as per requirements and, if need be, after imparting the necessary training. It is estimated that at least one lakh employees may find place in the surplus pool.

Several employee-related measures are in the pipeline which require political nod. Punjab accounts for 5.4 lakh employees, including those of the local government and public sector undertakings. The number of pensioners is 1.4 lakh, on whom the state spends Rs 1,100 crore annually. Thus, together the present and retired employees consume 84 per cent of the revenue by way of salary and pension.

Thus, the proposed restructuring of departments is aimed at cutting down on the unwanted flab, introduce a new pension scheme based on defined contribution only, and introduce a new voluntary retirement scheme for surplus pool employees.

The draft notification, under Article 309 of the Constitution, on the redeployment/readjustment of surplus staff envisages a five-member mission whose member-secretary will be an IAS officer.

A “surplus” employee is defined as Punjab civil servants other than those employed on ad hoc, casual, work-charged, 89-day basis or on contract basis by the government who have been rendered surplus along with their posts. This is as a result of administrative/financial reforms, restructuring, zero base budgeting, transfer of an activity from one department to another, discontinuation of an on-going activity and introduction of changes in technology or on the recommendation of the mission.

The draft notification also stipulates that the “upper age limit shall not apply if a surplus employee is to be appointed under these rules”. Also the redeployed/readjusted employees “shall not be required to undergo fresh medical examination, unless different medical standards have been prescribed for the post in the recipient organisation”.

The proposed rules on redeployment/readjustment shall remain in force up to Mach 31, 2008. All employees still left on the rolls of the pool will be retired on a compensation pension under Punjab Civil Services Rules.

As per the medium term fiscal reforms programme, under revenue expenditure targets as far as possible future employment in the government would be scheme/project specific and terminate with the completion of the same. It means only “contract” employment in future.

Under the proposed rules, the services of the Punjab Public Service Commission and the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board will also be utilised, if required.

The government has no intention of “mass retenchment”. The whole aim of reforms is to improve fiscal housekeeping to jack up industrial/agricultural economic development by cutting down on non-Plan expenditure, say sources. These reforms involve difficult, hard but unavoidable, inevitable decisions, for which political will and bureaucratic commitment are as imperative as understanding ground realities by all employees is important.


Pesticides behind birds’ death?
PHRC seeks probe into matter
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 18
The initial post-mortem examination of the birds who perished near the Nangal slaughterhouse has indicated that some organic phosphorous pesticide had caused the death of these birds. The veterinary doctor at Nangal, Mr Kapila, who after three days was asked by the local council authorities to conduct the post-mortem on the birds has in his report stated that the birds had died due to a nervous failure. The eyes of the dead birds had caved in and swelling was noticed in the intestines. All these symptoms indicate that the death of the birds might have been caused due to the intake of some organic phosphorous insecticide.

Meanwhile, media reports regarding the death of the birds today propelled the Nangal council authorities into taking evasive action against the likely dangers posed by the death of these birds. The Executive Officer of the council today asked the local veterinary doctor to check the meat at the local shops. However, it was unlikely that the infected meat was still there on the shelvs of the meat shops.

The current controversy has also thrown light on the pathetic conditions prevailing in the Nangal slaughterhouse that feed markets upto Anandpur Sahib. The veterinary doctor, who had been deputed at the said slaughterhouse for certifying the quality of meat, has not been paid his dues by the local council authorities for the past five years. Moreover, hardly any responsible authority was deputed to check the sanitary conditions at the slaughterhouse.

In another development, the Punjab Human Rights Commission on a petition filed by an Advocate, Mr C.S. Bakshi, on the basis of news report published in The Tribune had directed the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, to get the matter probed and submit a detailed report to the commission within 15 days.

The acting Chairperson of the commission, Mr N.K. Arora, who considered the case to be fit under the provisions of the Protection of the Human Rights Act, 1993, also directed the DC to ensure that the remedial measures were adopted to avoid the spread of the said problem.

Meanwhile, the district wildlife authorities also took possession of dead birds today. Mr Parveen Kumar, Deputy Conservator of Forests when contacted told that the birds were taken into possession from the spot and had been sent for post-mortem examinations.


Afghana’s video-conference put off
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 18
The video conference with Canada-based cop-turned Sikh scholar, Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana which was scheduled to be held this evening by the Sikh high priests has been put off at the eleventh hour on ‘technical grounds’.

It is reliably learnt that the video conference had to be put off due to certain objections raised by Sikh scholars, including SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, who had reportedly conveyed his displeasure to the high priests that there was no precedent in the Sikh history to hold a video conference with a person facing charges of blasphemy. The Sikh scholars had stated that the persons summoned by the Akal Takht had to appear in person to give clarifications.

In a fax message to Mr Kuldip Singh Jagpal, president Gurdwara Surrey, (Canada), Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, said that the video conference could not be held today due to unavoidable ‘technical reasons’. It is learnt that as per the directions of Akal Takht, the management of gurdwara Surrey had made arrangements for the video conference in the shrine by spending more than Rs 3 lakh.

Earlier, Mr Kala Afghana had pleaded that he was unable to appear before Akal Takht. He had told the Sikh clergy that being a confidant of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale his name had figured in the ‘black list’ prepared by India and hence he would be arrested if he tried to visit the country. Another reason cited by Mr Kala Afghana was of health.


Docs not paid salary for months
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 18
Doctors, members of the para-medical staff and others working with post-mortem (PP) units at government hospital have not been paid salaries for the past six months.

They alleged that the authorities concerned had not been making efforts for arranging funds for their salaries.

Talking to the correspondent here yesterday they said repeated pleas to the higher authorities did not yield any result. They added that even the heads of hospitals. took up the matter with the higher authorities, but in vain. They further said they were finding it difficult to arrange money for paying the tuition fee of their children.

However, Dr Joginder Singh, Director, Family Planning, Chandigarh said even he had not been paid salary for the past six months. He added that the case for releasing the funds in this regard had been lying with the Finance Department for approval.

He added that he had met the Secretary, Department of Health, Punjab, on Monday in this connection.

He said for the time being operation under the family planning programme were being done by arranging the necessary items from other wings of hospitals where the PP units were being run. He added that he hoped that by the end of this month the employees would get their salaries.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that there were about 48 PP units at Civil Hospitals being run by the state government. The Central government had been releasing funds for paying salaries to those working in these units. About 400 employees of these units have been virtually running from pillar to post to get salaries.

A section of employees pointed out that the state government had not sought a clarification from the Centre with regard to the finding of the programme.

Dr Joginder Singh while admitting the fact that there was confusion regarding the funding of the family planning schemes in the current financial year, said the matter had been taken up with the Centre for clarification in this regard.


‘Drunk’ driver leaves passengers high and dry
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 18
Sixty passengers of a Jalandhar-bound Punjab Roadways bus had to face hardship when the bus driver in the middle of the journey allegedly consumed liquor and a passenger had to drive the vehicle taking five hours to reach Jalandhar.

The passengers of the bus (PB-12-C-9040), of the Punjab Roadways’ Ropar Depot, maintained that the driver allegedly stopped the bus at a dhaba on the outskirts of Balachaur and consumed liquor — courtesy the dhaba owners, who offer free liquor and food to all drivers, who stop their buses at their dhabas.

When the driver, allegedly was not in a position to steer the vehicle passengers had to “make their own arrangements”, and persuaded one of the passengers to drive the vehicle, which remained parked at Balachaur-based dhaba for 45 minutes.

The bus driver was identified as Surmukh Singh. Some Amritsar and Batala-based passengers had to spend the night at Jalandhar due to two hour’s delay in the arrival of the bus.


Rs 22 lakh recovery from ex-sarpanches ordered
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 18
The district administration has directed the District Revenue Officer to recover Rs 22 lakh from 10 former sarpanches in Faridkot district, who had misutilised the grant during the SAD-BJP government in the state.

These former sarpanches, include Jasbir Singh (Naraingarh), Bag Singh (Midduman), Sukhdev Singh (Ghoniwala), Mukhtiar Singh (Dhab Sher), Parmjit (Araowala), Harnek Singh (Wara Draka), Devinder Singh (Kuharwala), Ranjit Singh (Sandhwan), Amarjit Singh (Bhairon Patti) and Gurmail Singh (Dal Singh Wala).

In a press note issued here today, Mr A. Venue Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, said the process in this regard under Section 216 of the Panchayat Raj Act, 1994, had already been completed against defaulters. The officers concerned have been directed to auction the property of the erring former sarpanches if they failed to return the said amount. Similarly, the DC had also directed the revenue officials to recover over Rs 10 lakh grant allocated to four sarpanches, including Iqbal Singh Pakhi Khurd, Gurbachan Singh Veerawala Kalan, Suba Singh Madhak and Sukhdeep Kaur Ajit Gill who had also failed to give a proper account.


VB probe against MC ex-chief begins
Our Correspondent

Gidderbaha, February 18
The Vigilance Bureau has initiated an inquiry against Mr Subash Jain, former president of the local Municipal Council for alleged bunglings in development works and embezzlement of funds by him during his tenure.

The inquiry has been initiated on the complaint of the vice-president of the council, Mr Gurmeet Singh Mann. The Bureau has procured the records of Municipal Council pertaining to the years, 1998 to 2001, during which Mr Jain allegedly committed irregularities.

The inquiry has been initiated to look into the charges that Mr Jain misused his official power while getting development works done.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 18
A petition filed by former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission Ravi Inderpal Singh Sidhu challenging the holding of two trials out of the same first information report, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday fixed March 5 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Arguing before the Bench, his counsel had earlier contended that the holding of two trials, when there was just one FIR, was not impermissible, besides being in violation of Article 20 of the Constitution of India. He had also handed over a number of Supreme Court judgements to substantiate his contentions. 

Giving details, counsel had asserted that the FIR alleging the receipt of bribe was registered after a trap was laid. Subsequently the police claimed that the accused was in possession of assets disproportionate to his known sources of income following which two trials were sought to be held. He had added that the Court below had also held that the consolidation of both the cases, though arising out of the same FIR, was not possible. This, he had further added, would cause prejudice to the petitioner’s right of a fair trial.


Dam staff sans pay for 2 months
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 18
More than 5,000 workers yesterday participated in a rally held at Shahpur Kandi by employees of various unions of the employees at the Ranjit Sagar Dam to protest against the failure of the dam authorities to pay their salaries for January and February. There are about 13,000 employees working on the dam and the total salary bill not paid to these employees so far amounts to Rs 11 crore.

Mr Natha Singh and Mr Harinder Singh Randhawa, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Thein Dam Workers Union, addressed the rally. These leaders threatened the dam management that they would intensify their stir if their salaries were not paid by February 20.

They also demanded absorption of surplus 7,000 workers of the Ranjit Sagar Dam which was only possible if the Shahpur Kandi Dam project was taken up on departmental level.

These leaders said the Punjab Government was not serious to take up the project on departmental level. They said a standing committee headed by the Chief Secretary in a meeting held on November 27 last year had given its approval to handover the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam project to a private company.

These leaders said that the private companies earmarked for the purpose included one Canadian multi-national company and another indigenous firm identified as Jai Parkash Construction Company. Representatives of these companies had visited the site two or three times but so far had not started work.

These leaders warned the Punjab Government to desist from handing over the construction of Shahpur Kandi Dam project to a private company.


Bookies shift base
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 18
As the police has intensified its campaign against those indulging in “satta”, booking bets on the one-dayers of the ICC World Cup, a number of them have shifted base and have started business afresh in other cities of Punjab and Haryana.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that after the arrest of five bookies in this town on Saturday, other prominent bookies active in this town gone aground.

Fear gripped a section of citizens when SP (city) Nilabh Kishore started questioning the bookies who were caught red-handed while booking bets on their mobile phones. Six mobile phone sets, a TV set, two tape recorders and trade-related documents were seized from them.

Pressure was put on the police authorities by a section of prominent citizens to ensure the five bookies were given bail at the earliest.

Yesterday, hundreds of people belonging to all walks of life descended it the local police station in support of the bookies.

Official sources said other bookies had been identified and would be nabbed soon. Special police teams had been constituted for the task. Sleuths of the Intelligence Bureau (IB) had been put on the job.

Meanwhile, a section of citizens today urged the President of India to call back the Indian cricket team as it had failed to perform in its matches with Holland and Australia. They also demanded that advertisements featuring players of the Indian team be banned from being telecast. 


Sena seeks nod for Hindu jathas to Pak
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 18
Close on the heels of the demand of Sikh organisations to permit jathas to Pakistan on Baisakhi, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, president, All-Indian Hindu Shiv Sena, has urged Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee for granting permission to visit Katasraj in Pakistan on Shivratri.

In a press statement issued here yesterday, Mr Billa said as per agreement between late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and former Prime Minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto, Hindus would be allowed to visit Pakistan twice a year to pay obeisance. But he said the Government of India had not granted any such permission for the past three years. He alleged discrimination and added that Muslims and Sikhs were being allowed to go to Pakistan but not Hindus.


2 brothers die in car mishap
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 18
Two brothers were killed and four members of their family injured in an accident near Kahma village in Nawanshahr district this morning. Ashok Kumar and his brother Manohar Lal, and their family members, all belonging to Jalandhar, were travelling in a Maruti car, which hit a tree, resulting in the death of both brothers and injuring their family members identified as Vinay, Madhu, Ishu and Sahil. The injured were admitted to a local hospital.

The police said the accident occurred as the car skidded off the road due to a heavy downpour and hit tree. A case has been registered.


Release innocent in kidney racket’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 18
Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, secretary, CPI, has sought the immediate release of eight persons who have allegedly been falsely implicated in kidney case and are lodged in the Central Jail.

Mr Asal, in a press statement here yesterday said that a delegation of Communist leaders, including Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader, had visited the Central Jail on January 18.


PSEB technicians burn SE’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 18
Members of the Technical Services Union (TSU) of the PSEB today held a rally and burnt an effigy of the Superintending Engineer (SE) of the district division of the PSEB for his alleged indifferent behaviour to the demands of the employees.

The employees alleged that the officials concerned were not paying heed to their demands like — withdrawal of police cases against the employees, cancellation of “illogical” transfers and an end to victimisation of employees.

Mr Karora Singh, President of the City Division of the union, said that although the union leaders and PSEB authorities had reached an agreement on the demands at a meeting between the two in 2001, but no action was taken on it.

He alleged that to end agitation of employees in 2001 the authorities made ‘false’ promises. He said that although the meeting was convened in the presence of the then Power Minister, Mr Sikander Singh, but the authorities failed to keep the promises.

Mr Resham Kumar, Secretary of the city division said that the officials concerned had refused to meet union leaders to find a solution to their problems. He alleged that the union leaders were not for rallies, dharnas they were “forced” to adopt such means.


Bandh call: shops remain closed
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 18
In response to a bandh call given by the local unit of the Beopar Mandal shops of the town remained closed today.

The call was given against the callous attitude of Mr G.S. Punia, ETO, and others, who have been allegedly harassing traders on flimsy grounds.

Despite heavy rain hundreds of traders gathered near the main post office here and burnt the effigy of Mr Punia.

Later a deputation met the Union Minister, Mr Vinod Khanna and Mr Ashwani Kumar, Member of the Rajya Sabha, and demanded action against, Mr Punia and others.


12 shellers indicted in probe report
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 18
The district administration has completed the preliminary enquiry into the multi-crore levy rice scandal involving Rs 30 crore by local rice shellers on the pretext of excess delivery of levy rice to the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

The two-member enquiry committee comprised Mr Harnek Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development) and Mrs Babita Bains, SDM, which has identified 12 local rice sheller owners, who allegedly in connivance with officials of the District Food and Supplies Controller office supplied excess levy rice to the FCI.

Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, today stated that he had sent an enquiry report to the Director, Food and Supplies Department, Mr Satish Chandra, for further action.

The 12 rice shellers indicted are R.F. Overseas, A.G. Fats, Gupta Rice Mill (Ucha Bet), Jain Agro Industries, Kharbanda Rice Mill, M/s Gauri Shanker, Gurdial Mal and Sons, Goyal Agro Tech, Fattu Dingha Rice Mill, Arora Rice and General Mill and Gurdial Mal and Sons, Bholath.

During checking Mr Verma said it was detected that these firms had delivered more than 80,000 quintals excess levy rice to the FCI. He further disclosed that these firms had not included 2.5 lakh quintals of paddy in their records which the firms had purchased from other districts.


23 MC men transferred

Amritsar, February 18
The recent computerisation of the Municipal Corporation has rendered several employees surplus leading to an extensive exercise of transfers here yesterday.

About 23 employees of lower cadre were transferred, Mr Kirpal Singh, Additional Commissioner, MC, confirmed.


Extortion case: girl held, remanded
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 18
The police here has arrested Gurmeet Kaur, alias Happy, who was involved allegedly in a case of extortion and intimidation registered on February 14 under Sections 384, 506 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the corruption Act against six persons, including her and three policemen.

In this case, the police had booked Mr Darbara Singh, then SHO of the local Sadar Police Station, ASI, Anup Singh, Head Constable Kewal Singh, Satnam Singh of Dhapali (Bathinda), Darshan Kumar, car driver and Ms Happy.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, DSP, Sangrur, said that after her arrest, Happy had confessed that she had taken a lift from Varinder Kumar in this car at the Dhari bus stand as per the scheme conceived by the accused involved in the case, to get a amount of money from the car-borne persons by blackmailing them. Under the scheme, they (accused) took thousands of rupees from Varinder Kumar, a local resident, by frightening him.

Mr Baljit Singh, SHO of the local police station, said today that the police produced Ms Happy in a court here today which remanded her in police custody for one day.

The SHO also said all five remaining accused, including Darbara Singh, Anup Singh and Kewal Singh, were at large. He said the police was conducting raids to nab them.


Petrol station looted
Tribune News Service

Sangat (Bathinda), February 18
A petrol station, 4 km from this town, was looted by three unidentified youths yesterday morning.

Police sources said that three unidentified youths who came to the petrol station of Indian Oil Corporation (IOC), took away Rs 16,000 in cash by threatening two salesmen. A case has been registered.

In another case, a body was found from the Railway line in the city. As the deceased could not be identified the body was handed over to a voluntary organisation after a post-mortem examination for cremation.


Settle pending issues, demands PCCTU
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 18
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) yesterday deferred the Punjabi University area rally slated for February 19 and the Panjab University area rally for February 26. The meeting was presided over by Prof S.S. Hundal, union president, and office-bearers of the PCCTU.

Prof Kanwaljit Singh, secretary, PCCTU, said to pave the way for a negotiated settlement, the union had postponed the two rallies for February 19 and February 26. The meeting of the Cabinet subcommittee to be chaired by the Chief Minister should be held urgently to fulfil assurances given by the Education Minister. Even the Chief Minister was convinced that the two poll promises — of giving 95 per cent grant and pension gratuity scheme to college staff should be honoured.

The meeting appealed to the member of the Cabinet sub-committee to impress upon the Chief Minister to meet the poll promises.

The union welcomed the release of grants for the third quarter but demanded that the grant for the fourth quarter should also be disbursed so that there was no unused amount of the allocated budget, said Prof Kanwaljit Singh.

The union demanded that the Punjab Government should take final decision on the demands by the end of February. In case it was not done, the union would be compelled to hold massive rally in Patiala on March 5.


Students made to suffer
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 18
Twentysix students of class VIII of a local school are in a fix over their future, courtesy Punjab School Education Board.

The centre of examination for these students was Government Senior Secondary School for Boys here as per their roll number cards. When the students along with their teacher went to the said school on February 14 they were surprised to see that their centre of examination was not as mentioned in the admission cards.

After making frantic telephonic talks at SAS Nagar and Chandigarh, the students and teacher came to know that their centre was the local Khalsa High School at a distance of about 2 km from Government Senior Secondary School for Boys.

When the students reached Khalsa High School half of the time of the examination had already lapsed. 

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