Thursday, February 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Manjit Singh removed in Panth’s interest: Badungar
Lalit Mohan

Anandpur Sahib, February 26
Prof Manjit Singh had lowered the dignity of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib. Over the past few years reports had been appearing levelling charges against him and Prof Manjit Singh failed to come clean on the allegations of corruption which lowered the dignity of the post he was holding. Charges of corruption against the Jathedar of Sikh Takht made the SGPC remove Prof Manjit Singh from the post.

Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President of the SGPC, stated this to newsmen here today. He was here to attend the installation ceremony of the acting Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Tarlochan Singh.

On the allegation of Prof Manjit Singh that he had been betrayed by a friend, Mr Badungar said he was not only his friend but also a relative. The decision to remove the former Jathedar had been taken in the interest of the Panth, which was more important than relations or friendships, he said.

Mr Badungar added that decision to remove Prof Manjit Singh had been taken unanimously by the executive committee of the SGPC following the report of the interim committee constituted for the purpose. The SGPC executive committee was empowered to appoint and remove jathedars of Takht, he said.

He, however, declined to give details of the charges against Prof Manjit Singh on plea that it would lower dignity of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.

He said the protest of the Khalsa Panchayat had nothing to do with the removal of Prof Manjit Singh. The Khalsa Panchayat was the “baby of Congress government in the state”, which once again was trying to interfere in the internal matters of the Sikhs, he said.

Mr Badungar said a meeting of the Dharam Parchar Committee called today for discussing the issue of Nanakshahi calendar had been postponed. The next date of the meeting would be announced soon, he said.

Meanwhile, a number of SGPC members, including, Mr Pritam Singh Salomajra, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh and Mr Harbans Singh Manjpur, who were present at the installation of new Jathedar of the Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, addressing a separate press conference demanded that properties allegedly acquired by Prof Manjit Singh in the form of the Gurmat Sagar Trust should be transferred in the name of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib.


Trust ‘behind’ Jathedar’s removal
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 26
The Anandpur Sahib-based Gurmat Sagar Trust has been the news as one of the reasons behind the removal of Prof Manjit Singh from the post of Jathedar of Takht Sri Keshgarh Sahib by the SGPC. It is being alleged that Prof Manjit Singh misappropriated donations given to him in the capacity of Jathedar by the Sikh sangat to create properties of the trust, which till recently had been under his direct control.

An investigation by The Tribune into the land of the trust revealed its connection with the Anandpur Sahib-based Anand Sagar Housing Society.

Land acquisitions by the trust and the society were started simultaneously around 1994. The trustees of the trust and the members of the society were almost the same persons, some of them close to former Jathedar, Prof Manjit Singh .

As per figures collected by this correspondent, the trust headed by Prof Manjit Singh acquired land measuring 7 kanals and 5 marlas for Rs 5,000 on February 7, 1994, 50 kanals and 2 marlas on February 2, 1996, at a cost of Rs 1.84 lakh, 80 kanals and 15 marlas on January 24, 1994, at a cost of Rs 61,000 and 13 kanals and 3 marlas on January 24, 1994, at a cost of Rs 10,000.

Almost at the same time the society also acquired properties adjoining properties of the trust. The society bought land measuring 54 kanals and 15 marlas and 70 kanals on January 1, 1994 at a cost of Rs 41,500 and Rs 53,000, respectively, 14 kanal and 10 marlas on September 15, 1994, at a cost of Rs 60,000 and 4 kanals and 10 marlas on February 2, 1996, at a cost of Rs 5,000.

The society and the trust swapped 54 kanals and 2 marlas on March 25, 1996. The relationship between the trust and the society becomes clear as the society on June 6, 1997, sold its entire property to the trust for Rs 7,75,500.

After this transaction, the society ceased to exist and the trust came in the possession of around 306 kanals or 42 acres at the scenic location on the banks of the Bhakra canal. The market value of the land is estimated at about Rs 10 crore. The trust over the past few years has raised properties worth lakhs over the acquired land.

Interestingly, another society, comprising members of the trust was now in the process of developing a colony, Sukh Sehaj Enclave, adjoining the trust land. Sources here said the land in the enclave was being sold at a market cost of Rs 20,000 per marla. The sources also said besides the alleged misappropriation of donations, the trust authorities had also resorted to large-scale evasion of stamp duty.

The society and the trust authorities got around 42 acres registered in their name at a paper value of about Rs 12 lakh whereas the market value of the land was around Rs 10 crore .

Moreover, from where the trust acquired such a huge amount to purchase the land remains an unanswered question.

The present general secretary of the trust, Mr Shetal Singh, however, declined any misappropriation in the trust donations. He said Prof Manjit Singh was the chairman, he disassociated himself from the trust after some persons raised doubts about his integrity.

About the land donated by Bagh Singh’s family, he said the family had recently visited the trust and donated Rs 50,000 expressing satisfaction at its working.


Takht acting Jathedar installed
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, February 26
Giani Tarlochan Singh was today formally installed as the acting Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib in a religious ceremony held here today.

Giani Tarlochan Singh who was earlier the Head Granthi of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib was today accompanied to the takht by a large number of spiritual and political leaders, including Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi of the Golden Temple, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Damdama Sahib and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the SGPC.

Giani Puran Singh performed the ardas on the occasion. After that, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti declared Giani Tarlochan Singh as the acting Jathedar of the Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib and announced that “seva sambal” (caretaking) of the takht was endowed upon him.

Giani Tarlochan Singh was given siropas by most of the leaders present on the occasion.


Tough days ahead for Amarinder
Punjab Government's first year in office
P.P.S. Gill

Tribune News Service

Weathering many a storm, Capt Amarinder Singh has survived the first year in office as Chief Minister. After taking the oath of office on February 27 last year, he had promised a ''transparent, effective and clean'' administration and to adhere to the party's election manifesto.

As he settled down to acquire knowledge of administrative system he was to operate, Capt Amarinder Singh found the government programmes hampered by huge bites of debt and corruption. His first concern was to reach out for investments, lean out for additional resource mobilisation and introduce reforms — fiscal, economic and moral. This required great, heroic leadership — political and bureaucratic. Thus, the first year was spent suffering the consequences of what was inherited from the Akali-BJP government — spoiled and soiled levers of power. Tough days are ahead for the Chief Minister.

The reforms introduced in the Budget 2002-03 were widely appreciated and adopted as a model for replicating elsewhere. These also opened a window to international agencies to fund development projects. Several of these reforms ruffled many feathers at home, as these were much to the consternation of politicians, bureaucrats, employees, farmers, traders, etc. For the public outcry on this, a major part of the blame must be apportioned to the government which had failed to build public support for its actions. However, the impact of these reforms will be felt over a period of time.

The Chief Minister has assured implementation of the election manifesto but with a rider — as and when money is available. Consequently, he took hard but unavoidable decisions: withdrew free power and water to farmers, initiated reforms in the power sector, set in motion disinvestment process in public sector undertakings or to right-size loss-making boards and corporations, pushed through an agricultural policy aimed at diversification in crops, cropping pattern, fiscal management, introduced user charges, partly improved revenue receipts, etc. And for all this, he received a flak. He described these as ''scaffoldings'' required to reconstruct Punjab.

All through the first year, Capt Amarinder Singh was dogged by controversies and questions about his government's performance or lack of it or improprieties that continue to fly. There were also trying days in the first year with everyone keen to know what is going on inside Punjab as rumours of sex, sleaze, scams and scandals swirled or unsavoury moral, socio-religious developments erupted or systems went haywire. Thus, much of the blame for the daily cacophony that assailed Capt Amarinder Singh was as much due to the Congress' internal strife and interference by the high command as collapse of information/communication with the media.

Though, he stuck to his agenda of ''transparency'', he was careful to put several clamps, where he thought necessary, scuttling free flow of information. Thus to the layman, the government seemed to hide more than it revealed. What gave credence to this impression was his cloistered functioning and perceived inaccessibility.

His government touched a new high when the gust of news blew the PPSC ''job-on-cash'' scam to the front pages of the newspapers and put Chairman Ravi Sidhu behind the bars. Punjab seemed to be ready to clean up its corrupt system. But once vigilance was put in the driver's seat with no brakes, the anti-corruption campaign swerved in several directions and created scare psychosis, though it did make an impact, only just. The anti-corruption juggernaut of the vigilance has spluttered. Wrangling in the police also had made its intelligence outfit flutter its wings that stirred even the judiciary. The ''politicised, criminalised'' police continues to remain above law!

The transparency or lack of it in dealing with the corruption and catching former Akali ministers who are facing investigations has smitten the Akali leadership, as BJP squirmed! But the bumptious Chief Minister had showed that he was not shy of any confrontation. He would often outdo humility by using unusually bald language against his political opponents.

Despite being keen to become ''new agenda leader'' and to open the Punjab economy, what slowed the pace of Capt Amarinder Singh were as much in-built politico-administrative system constraints/limitations as the mindset of its operators.


A year of economic collapse: Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today described the year 2002-2003 in Punjab as a period of economic collapse, development paralysis, moral decay and socio-political bad blood under the rule of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

“It was a year in which the three sacred tenets of governance — peace, amity and prosperity — were systematically and ruthlessly laid waste and replaced by lawlessness, bitter confrontationism and dumping of all development activity.”

What would be the destiny of Punjab as the Chief Minister had entered into a confrontation even with neighbouring states of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana. “Such things are not good for Punjab”, he added. There was lawlessness. Several persons had been killed in police custody. Even policemen had been arrested for distilling illicit liquor in a police station. Imagine what was happening on the police front, he added.

“For the past one year, certain police officers had been working to fabricate cases against me on the direction of the Chief Minister”, he added. “All allegations levelled against me by the Chief Minister had proved to be a political stunt”, he added.

Commenting on the completion of one year of the Congress Government at a press conference, here today, Mr Badal described the government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh as “the trinity school for sleaze and scandal, specialising in badla, badli and badchalni (vendetta, transfers and unethical conduct).

“The imposition of an unprecedented 3000 crores worth of fresh taxes, introduction of supari and cyber crime and a governance marked by inter-gang-rivalry within the administration, especially in the CMO — these are some of the other strong media images from this period likely to linger in the minds of our future generations,” he said.

The present regime moved from one scandal to another, beginning with the disappearance of Rs 2 crore from the bank lockers in the Ravi Sidhu case. This was followed by the multi-crore on-line lottery scam the truth about which had been systematically buried in the wraps.

The controversy surrounding the Chief Minister’s mysterious detour to Scotland during his trip to the USA remained unsolved. His pathetic attempts to cover up the utter futility of his trip by falsely claiming an IMF loan of Rs 5000 crore blew up in his face. On the issue of moral corruption, instances such as the incident involving the Chief Minister’s colleagues (as in Gujarat) and his handpicked officer (as in Panchkula) were enough.

Turning to Chief Minister’s campaign against corruption, Mr Badal said first the Chief Minister presented the PPSC recruitment scam as his biggest breakthrough. But within days, he started dragging his feet over honest investigation into the entire scam and had to be pulled up by the judiciary for ordering summary transfers of honest officers associated with the inquiry.

“The Chief Minister must come clean on the disclosure that one of his right-hand men and in fact his political alter ego, Rana Gurmeet Sodhi, was the main beneficiary in the PPSC appointments. His son secured 100 per cent marks in the interview for the post of a DSP. Why is the Chief Minister keeping mum over such a serious development? Why not send the accused through the kind of interrogation which the CM had reserved for his political rivals?” Mr Badal asked.

Mr Badal also referred to what he called a dangerous confrontation between the government and the Panth during the annual elections to the SGPC in which media reports spoke of a commando-type operation planned by the Chief Minister to hijack SGPC members from the Amritsar airport. Even before that, the religious representatives of the Sikhs were subjected to all kinds of repression, including their forcible house arrests and repression even against their minor sons and daughters to force them to vote in favour of the stooges of the government.

The government interference in the religious affairs of the people was not restricted to the Sikhs as Congress hoodlums with active support of the police forcibly seized control from those who had been in legitimate control of the management of the Durgiana Temple in Amritsar.


Performance of schemes ‘poor’
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
Planning Commission officials, who recently held a quarterly performance review of the state Plan schemes of Punjab, have gone back with a “poor opinion” as far as the performance of first two quarters of the current financial year is concerned.

The review was held in the last week of last month by a team of officials led by Mr S.P. Arya, Principal Adviser ( State Plans Division) of the Planning commission. The commission has now made the report of the review available to the state government. As many 18 IAS officers, including nine officers of the Principal Secretary and Financial Commissioner rank had participated in the review meeting.

Mr Arya has observed that the progress of the state government in the implementation of he Ninth Plan programmes was “slow”. The realisation of the envisaged growth rate of 6.4 per cent for Punjab during the 10th Plan would call for concerted efforts . He has desired that monitorable targets for the 10th Plan and their annual phasing should be derived for proper compliance.

He has stated that the information supplied by the state government in prescribed formats was not the same that was required. In most cases, information has not been provided at all. He pointed out that the 11 and 27 per cent expenditure in the first and second quarter, respectively, was very low. At the sectoral level the Plan expenditure varied from zero per cent in the industrial sector to 43 per cent in the power sector.

The commission officials have drawn the attention of the government to the big anomaly — is while no expenditure was incurred on the dairy development and fisheries sectors in first two quarters, the performance has been shown satisfactory.

As far as the rural development is concerned, the state allocated its share of Rs 52 crore to the centrally sponsored (CS) schemes of development and employment generation but only Rs 80 lakh was spent up to September 2002, or say by the end of the second quarter. The state government has intimated the commission that release of funds under this scheme had been increased substantially in the third quarter. No expenditure on other rural development programes could be incurred due to shortage of state resources and non-receipt of rural development fund resources.

About 99 per cent of the Annual Plan( 2002-03) allocation (Rs 66.76 crore) for primary education was a share contribution of the state government for the centrally sponsored scheme of Sarv Shikhsa Abhiyan, of which no expenditure has been reportedly incurred up to September, 2002. It was clarified that the government received the previous year’s central allocation for this scheme in June, 2002, and the programmes for spending Rs 48 crore out of it were under execution.

The commission was informed by the Medical Department that due to inadequate receipt of funds from the state and central governments, the department was facing difficulties in the implementation of important programmes. The commission has urged the state Planning and Finance Department to sort out the issue for releasing funds to the Medical Department. The nominal expenditure of Rs 93 lakh was made by the end of September on urban development works (out of total allocation of Rs 60 crore). It was perhaps because of delay in the release of various funds from the Union Government.

The commission has observed that the low expenditure on the Scheduled Castes and the other backward classes welfare ( 0.4 per cent of the allocation of Rs 32.84 crore) and on the social security and welfare programmes ( 8.8 per cent of the allocation of Rs 165.77 crore)by the end of second quarter was mainly due to non-release or say less release of funds by the state Finance Department. The commission wanted that the release of funds for the beneficiaries should be on regular basis.

In addition to the unspent balance of Rs 91.13 crore by March, 2002, the annual allocation for the centrally sponsored schemes was Rs 1312.29 crore ( it includes Rs 1100.51 crore of central share). The state government spent only Rs 204.31 crore (14.56 per cent) by the end of September. Mr Arya has observed in his report that the less expenditure on these schemes was not only due to inadequate receipt of central share for them but also due to inadequate or no release of state share.

Mr Arya has observed that financial performance of the state government should get reflected in physical achievements of plan targets as well. He drew the Punjab Government’s attention for not submitting the draft plan papers, which were to be submitted to the commission by the end of last year, of the Annual Plan 2003-04.


Delimitation notice challenged in HC
Early MC poll now unlikely
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, Feb 26
Though the elections to the Municipal Council of Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib have been deferred due to a fresh delimitation of wards, factionalism and infighting among the Congress councillors has come to the fore. Five of them have challenged the delimitation notification.

Ms Anita Takyar, senior vice-president of the council; Mr Ajit Kumar Manga, Ms Sudha Puri, Mr Balbir Singh and Mr H.P. Pathak, councillors all, have filed a writ petition in the High Court, based on which, a notice of motion has been served on the state government for March 28.

At a press conference here today, these councilors said the wards with a high density of the SC/BC population had not been reserved for them, though the government guidelines said otherwise. The wards reserved for persons of these categories had a majority general-category population; and the delimitation had been done under political pressure, they said.

They also said they had raised an objection with the department concerned, but no one had heard them out. With the filing of this petition, the chances of early elections to the council have reduced. These will be held only after a decision comes on the petition.

Meanwhile, the government has transferred the MC Executive Officer to Mahilpur, on the demand of 22 councillors. Hectic political activities have begun in Bassi Pathana in the district, where the civic-body elections will be held as scheduled. There is a great enthusiasm among the prospective candidates and their supporters; and 25 nominations for the 13 wards of the Bassi Pathana were filed today, taking the tally to 29. All these candidates have filed nominations as Independents. More nominations are expected.


Co-op farm bank chief held for rape
Our Correspondent

Abohar February 26
Mr Surender Kumar Kamboj, Chairman, Primary Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank Jalalabad West and BJP worker had been arrested in a rape case, official sources said today.

According to information the police registered FIR No. 95u/s 376, 342, 506, 148, 149 of the IPC and 25/27/54/59 of the Arms Act at Jalalabad West police station on the Abohar-Ferozepore road on October 27, 2002 on the complaint of a woman. She reportedly named Mr Kamboj and three other persons who allegedly carried firearms. Mr Kamboj and Mr Zora Singh Mann SAD MP refuted the allegations and described the FIR as politically motivated. They claimed that Mr Kamboj was not even present in the town on the day of the “happening”.

Sources said Mr Kamboj failed to get anticipatory bail and had been evading arrest for the past six months. The police had registered another case against him and his accomplices earlier during assembly elections. An ETO in his complaint had alleged that Mr Kamboj and Mr Sher Singh Ghubaya former SAD MLA had attacked officials inside the police station at Jalalabad West when the police recovered stills and illicit liquor in an operation at a brick kiln reportedly owned by the former MLA and SAD candidate. All accused were granted bails after joining the investigation, according to sources.

The police had been after Mr Kamboj since the registration of the “rape” case and arrested him yesterday. He was produced in a court which remanded him in police custody for one day. It is learnt that another person “wanted” in the same case was arrested today. Mr Kamboj twice contested Assembly elections. In 1992 he lost as a BJP candidate from Jalalabad West constituency. An office-bearer of the district BJP, Mr Kamboj was very influential during SAD-BJP regime.


MC poll: SAD, BJP finalise seat-sharing
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 26
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and the Bharatiya Janata Party have finalised seat adjustment for Municipal elections in Gurdaspur, Dhariwal, Dinanagar, Sujanpur, Pathankot after district presidents of the said parties met here today. At Gurdaspur the BJP will contest from 16 wards and the Shiromani Akali Dal from five wards, at Dhariwal the BJP will contest from eight wards and the Shiromani Akali Dal from five wards. At Dinanagar the BJP will contest from 10 wards and the SAD from three wards. At Pathankot the BJP will contest from 29 wards and the SAD from four wards.

At Sujanpur all 13 wards have been decided to be contested by the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Congress will contest municipal elections at all places on its own.


SAD’s plea to Advani on helmets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that party leaders who met the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, yesterday, had also sought an amendment to Motor Vehicles Act to exempt Sikh women from wearing helmets. Mr Advani had assured to do the needful after getting the issue legally examined, he added.

Was there any scope of unity among top Akali leaders, who went together to Delhi to meet Mr Advani? Replying to this question, Mr Badal said he did not oppose Panthic unity at any stage but the unity should be first of minds and views and not only of individuals.


13 candidates file nominations
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 26
On the third day of filing nominations, 13 candidates belonging to the Amrit Pal Singh group (a Congress group) today filed their nomination papers for the municipal elections here.

The candidates reached the office of the SDM-cum-Returning Officer in a procession and completed the formalities regarding the filing of their nominations around 11.30 a.m. They were led by Mr Amrit Pal Singh, president of the block Congress committee.


Partition hit Sikhs more: historian
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, February 26
“Sikhs had to suffer more because they opposed the formation of Pakistan. Hence, they became the target of the Muslim vendetta”, said Prof Kirpal Singh, a renowned historian while speaking at a one-day seminar on ‘Partition of Punjab and Amritsar’ at Guru Nanak Dev University here yesterday. The seminar was organised by Department of History of the university.

He said historic and religious shrines were not being kept intact in Pakistan and even some had been transformed into residential places and mosques, whereas several religious sites of the Muslims in the city had been kept intact by the Hindus and Sikhs. Prof Kirpal Singh minced no words in expressing that several mosques in this part had been converted into gurdwaras. But the fact was that by doing so the relics were being preserved but not in the neighbouring country. He said some methods should be evolved to preserve these relics in both countries.

A distinguished international historian from Conventry University, UK, Professor Ian Talbot said through his research paper ‘Partition revisited fresh challenges and insights from the grassroots, experiences of refugees in Lahore and Amritsar’ that much to his astonishment he found after interviewing several Muslims from Pakistan who were young during the Partition that they did not expect migration. He said Amritsar had a good number of Muslim population and names of several localities proved the point. Same was the case with Lahore, which was largely occupied by Sikh and Hindus. The common thing that came out after interviews with people from either side was psychological trauma and complexity of situation.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, honoured the guests with mementos, phulkari and university publications.


Protest against VB ‘high-handedness’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 26
Hundreds of irate local Municipal Corporation employees and 10 Congress councillors today staged a dharna at the PNB chowk here to register their protest against the alleged high-handedness of Vigilance Bureau officials. As a result, the traffic remained disrupted for about four hours.

Earlier, the Vigilance Bureau officials laid a trap to nab a House Tax Department inspector following receipt of a complaint from Harpal Singh of the Urban Estate locality that the inspector was demanding Rs 6,000 for saving his residential property scheduled to be auctioned by the MC authorities for his failure to deposit tax to the tune of about Rs 52,000.

Mr H.S. Bawa, Congress councillor and convener of the Joint Action Committee (JAC), said the VB officials failed to recover anything incriminating from inspector Amandeep Singh during the trap. He alleged that infuriated over the failure to establish allegations of corruption, the VB officials tried to manhandle Amandeep Singh on the MC premises.


Bail of kidney racket accused extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
In less than two months after the kidney conspiracy was unearthed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today extended interim bail granted to advocate Pardeep Saini and another accused in the case till March 6.

They were apprehending arrest in an FIR registered on September 21 last year under the provisions of the Transplant of Human Organ Act, besides under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 371 and 120-B of the IPC.

Seeking the grant of bail, counsel for the advocate had contended that the police was trying to falsely implicate him. He was not named in the FIR. Moreover, he had no role in the preparation of any document or identifying any person before any magistrate regarding the sale or purchase of kidney.

He had further added that none of the documents, including the affidavits, had his signatures. The petitioner would surrender in case the state was able to show even a single document signed by the petitioner. If the state was able to show even once such document, he would “face any charges framed against him”.

It may be recalled that as per newspaper reports, two well-known doctors were in the dock, while several donor-labourers were in jail. Reports had added that the estimated value of the kidney racket was Rs 100 crorer. 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.

Orders reserved

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today reserved orders on MLA Karan Singh Dalal’s petition seeking the grant of anticipatory bail in an alleged cheating and corruption case.

Dalal was apprehending arrest in an FIR registered by the State Vigilance Bureau on May 2, 2001, under Sections 406, 409, 420, 468, 467, 471 and 120-B of the IPC, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the prosecution, Dalal, while functioning as the Forest Minister, had misused his powers and had ordered the purchase of spurious and artificial fertilisers for different forest divisions.

Seeking the grant of bail, Dalal’s counsel had submitted that he was being implicated in the case. Claiming to be innocent, he had submitted that the case had been registered against him due to political reasons.


Police gets tough on noise pollution
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 26
The Class X board examination seems to have acted as a catalyst for the police to get into action against sources of noise pollution, with a special drive being conducted in the district against this menace.

The police authorities have targeted gurdwaras, temples and marriage palaces in the first phase. Station house officers (SHOs) and Police Chowki in charges have been directed to reach out to all such places in their area and send across the message. Police personnel are carrying the Supreme Court order in this regard as well as directing the management committees of religious places and owners of marriage palaces to ensure noise pollution does not take place on their premises.

Distict Police Chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal said an assurance was also being taken that religious places and marriage palaces would not let any noise permeate to the outside of their premises. He said all managements of religious places had been asked to tone down the volume of their speakers to ensure compliance with this order.

Mr Umranangal said there were reports that some marriage palaces adjoining railway crossing Number 22 were causing immense noise pollution and causing hindrance to the studies of the adjoining DAV School. He said all marriage palaces had been given notices and told that they would be challaned in case they did not comply with the order.

The police officer said earlier such drives had been limited to the city. He said now the drive was being taken to townships also. He said it was being done to ensure that students got a proper atmosphere to study in the mornings and evenings, when maximum loudspeakers blared. He said it was hoped that the drive would be taken to the villages also.

Earlier also attempts have been made to stop noise pollution but without any success. Managements of religious places have constantly turned a deaf ear to any such direction and the police force has been so far ineffective in taking action against them due to a variety of reasons. In case of marriage palaces, their managements are often helpless in stopping revellers from making merry.


PRTC stops issuing student passes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 26
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) authorities have stopped issuing concession bus passes to students, causing confusion at various bus depots in the state.

Sources said the PRTC officials were not issuing bus passes to students. However, the PRTC officials have not made this move public. Though its Managing Director could not be contacted, other officials said the “matter was being sorted out”. One official told TNS that the corporation had received a communication, asking it not to issue concession travel passes to students who were studying in private colleges.

Meanwhile, sources said the corporation has asked the Punjab Government to increase the concession bus pass payment by at least 50 per cent. It said that there had not been any increase in this facility for a long time and the corporation was being saddled with losses by giving this facility to students at very low rates.

At present, all students can avail of student passes by depositing Rs 60 per month to the corporation. The pass entitles them to travel as much as 60 km every day on corporation buses per month. The corporation sources said under normal circumstances, 60 km of travel per day amounted to Rs 30 in bus fare and the amount being charged from students was ridiculously low.

The sources said that the PRTC was in the process of increasing its revenue for the past nearly one year to step out of the debt trap. They said the corporation had asked the government 10 months ago to increase bus fare by 6 paise per km but that the government had allowed only a one-paisa hike recently. Besides, the PRTC authorities have also been writing to various government departments to get subsidy from them but without success.

Meanwhile, the Students Federation of India (SFI) today announced that it would start an agitation in Patiala itself in case the PRTC did not restart the concession passes facility immediately. A memorandum in this regard had already been presented to the corporation Managing Director.


Increase in revenue expected: minister
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, Feb 26
The Punjab government will fulfil all its promises made in the election manifesto in a stipulated period, besides providing a transparent and public friendly administration, said Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest and Food Supplies, while talking to mediapersons here today.

He was addressing a press conference to commemorate the completion of one year of Capt Amarinder Singh-led government in the state. He said the government would make all out efforts to fulfil the expectations of public. Highlighting the achievements, Dr Lal said the state government took a bold step in launching a campaign against corruption. He said the Chief Minister was resolved to rooting out corruption from the state and providing corruption-free administration.

He further said the government was working towards strengthening the economy of the state. An increase in revenue to the tune of Rs 800 to 1000 crores was expected by the end of the current financial year, he added.

Referring to the development activities in the state, Dr Lal said the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB) had initiated the process of overall development in the state by undertaking few prestigious projects like the construction of 42 railway overhead bridges (ROBs), 900 km of roads and five major bridges over the Sutlej and the Beas. Besides, the World Bank had approved a loan for Rs 800 crore to provide potable drinking water to the people of the villages. The government was also in touch with Nabard to provide adequate funds for strengthening the existing road network in the state. Around 20,000 new tubewell connections would be released by March 31, 2003 and another 20,000 by the end of the next financial year, he added.


Border farmers stage dharna at DC’s office
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 26
Thousand of farmers and labourers of at least six border associations from 55 villages staged a massive protest dharna outside the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today. They threatened to permanently jam trains in case their demands were not met immediately.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Rattan Singh Randhawa and Jatinder Chhinna said both state and central governments were fooling farmers. They said Capt Amarinder Singh had never visited any border village to find out problems being faced by them. The government had burdened them by imposing electricity charges.

The farmers demanded that areas under mines should be compensated with Rs 12,000 per acre, while Rs 750 per month should be given for the maintenance of animal heads. The farmers owning land beyond the fencing should be given compensation of Rs 2500 per acre. In addition, Rs 80 per day compensation should be given to daily wagers. They also demanded special waivers of loans for the border farmers, who are in deep debt fixing of MSP for wheat at Rs 760 per quintal. They demanded allowing of 2750 acres in Raniya- Kakkar village for cultivation, besides stopping of harassment of villagers by BSF personnel.


Rail traffic disrupted
Our Correspondent

Phillour, February 26
Rail traffic was disrupted near the Goraya railway station at about 6 p.m. this evening following the derailment of two bogies of the DMT train, engaged in departmental work.

Northern Railway officials told this correspondent that several mail and express trains were detained at Ludhiana, Ladhuwal, Goraya, Phillaur, Phagwara and Jalandhar railway stations due to the derailment.


Safai karamcharis hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
Safai karamcharis of the Municipal Council today staged a rally in the city in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.

They alleged that the authorities concerned were not paying any heed to their demands although they had requested them in this regard on many occasions.

Mr Veerbhan, president of the district unit of the Municipal Council Sweepers Union, said the rally was held as part of statewide agitation of the union.


Drive to identify leprosy patients

Fatehgarh Sahib, Feb 26
The District Leprosy Society will conduct a special survey from March 10 to identify leprosy patients in the district, Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, said presiding over a meeting of the District Leprosy Society here today. He said the society was contituted in 1996 and till now it had detected 199 patients suffering from the disease. OC


Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road renamed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 26
The Punjab Government has renamed the Phagwara-Hoshiarpur road as Chintpurni-Jwalaji Marg with immediate effect, according to a notification issued today.


Farmers gherao PSEB officials

Moga, February 26
Confrontation between Punjab State Electricity Board officials and villagers owning tubewell connections started for the non-payment power bills in the district when six Board officials headed by an SDO of the Board were gheraoed at Khosa Pando village last evening for one and a half hours.

The tubewell owners whose connections were cut, led by Kirti Kisan Union leaders, including its district president Devinder Singh and Nirmal Singh, were demanding the restoration of the connections. They were let off late in the evening on village elders’ intervention.

The Moga Sadar police today on receiving a written complaint from the PSEB authorities registered a case against six tubewell owners whose connections had been cut by the Board authorities for non-payment of the tubewell power bills, including Kartar Singh, Gurdev Singh,

Bhag Singh, Ram Singh Atma Singh and Darshan Singh, and 14 activists of the Kirti Kisan Union, including Devinder Singh and Nirmal Singh. No arrest has been made. UNI


2 IAS, 4 PCS officers transferred

Chandigarh, February 26
The Punjab Government today transferred two IAS and four PCS officers. Mr D.K. Tiwari whose suspension was revoked on Monday has been appointed Special Secretary, Parliamentary Affairs here. Mr Kulbir Singh Kang has been posted Special Secretary, Forests and Wild Life. He will also retain charge of the departments which were earlier with him. Mr S.K. Sharma has been given the additional charge of Administrator, Improvement Trust at Ludhiana. Mr M.P.Arora has been appointed Joint Secretary, Cooperation. Mrs Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu has been posted Administrative Officer( PWD) at Patiala. Ms Parneet Shergill has been appointed Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) at Patiala. TNS


Two held in foreign exchange racket
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 26
The police has busted a four-member gang specialised in illegal transaction of foreign exchange in the area with the arrest of its two members and seized foreign currency worth about Rs 1.52 lakh.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, stated here yesterday that a car was intercepted at a naqa near Chitti village. A sum of £2000 was recovered from two persons who failed to produce any valid document or licence to carry such a huge foreign exchange.

They were arrested under Sections 420 and 411, IPC, and 3 of the Foreign Exchange Management Act. They were later identified as Sukhwinder Singh and Amit Kumar of Nakodar.

They told the police that they used to recieve foreign currency from certain persons of Nakodar and adjoining villages by offering them a rate of conversion much below the market rate. Thereafter, they would sell the currency to money exchangers at Jalandhar.


Lahan seized from factory, 9 booked
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 26
A joint party of the local police and the excise staff, led by Mr J.S. Hans, DSP (HQ), recovered huge quantity of lahan from a thread factory at the focal point today. Nine persons have been booked in this connection under Sections 61, 1, 14 of the Excise Act.

According to the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Narinder Bhargav, the accused have been identified as Sukhdev Singh, Avtar Singh, Shinder Singh, Hansa Singh, Sukhdev Singh, Jagtar Singh, Satnam Singh, Prem Singh and Surjit Singh — local residents. Besides 22000 litre of lahan, the police also recovered 11 cylinders of LPG, three stoves and some material used for preparing illicit liquor.

The factory from where the liquor was recovered allegedly belongs to a local municipal councillor, who along with his wife is contesting the election for the council once again.


Panel indicts cops for rape
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
The district unit of the Lawyers for Human Rights International (LHRI) will approach the National and State Human Rights Commissions for getting registered a case against two police personnel of Mansa district for allegedly raping a woman, at the Sardulgarh police station on December 13.

The LHRI had probed the matter and found that the cops were guilty of raping the woman. The report also stated that the accused had snatched Rs 12,000 from the victim, while some cops took a bribe of Rs 6,000 from a close kin of the victim.

Mr Surjeet Singh Sohi, district president of the LHRI, said here today that Mr Lakhwinder Singh, SP (D), Mansa, had told Mr Jatinder Rai Khattar, state organising scretary of the LHRI, that the matter was under consideration. Mr Sohi claimed that the inquiry report of the LHRI was issued after recording the statements.

He said two sons of the kin were arrested by the Sardulgarh police on December 1, in connection with a case pertaining to the kidnapping of a girl. When their mother visited the police station on December 9 to enquire about their arrest, police personnel allegedly demanded Rs 12,000 so that a compromise could be reached between the complainant and the accused, alleged Mr Sohi.

He further said on December 13 the victim along with the kin went to Sardulgarh. He alleged that the victim was forced to enter a room, while the other persons who accompanied her were asked to leave the police station. The kin was asked to wait in another room.

Mr Sohi alleged that the victim was raped on that night by the two cops and they snatched Rs 12,000 from her. He alleged that on December 14 one of the accused against tried to rape her, but another policemen rescued her. She was freed on December 15.

However, the police authorities said the allegations were baseless. They said the victim had been levelling allegations to pressurise the police not to proceed against her despite the fact that her name was figured in an FIR registered on December 14,2002.


More rice millers booked
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 26
The Vigilance Bureau has registered another 11 cases against rice millers for misappropriation of government paddy to the tune of Rs 18 crore.

According to Ms Anita Punj, SP, Vigilance Bureau, Ferozepore, the cases have been registered against the millers on the basis of the complaint made by the Punsup, and the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation. She said the millers had defalcated 1,69,952 quintals of the paddy. The millers against whom cases have been registered are: Karam Chand Rice Mill, Malout; Satluj Cotton Factory, S.M. Rice Mills, Gidderbaha; Muktsar Rice Mills; Ramesh Rice Mill, Malout; Sant Ram Rice Mill, Gidderbaha; Jagjit Rice Mill, Muktsar; Surinder Agro; Laxmi Rice Mill, Talwandi Bhai; Manohar Lal and Sons; and Sandip Rice Mills.


Eight booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Mansa, February 26
The Sardulgarh police has booked eight persons namely Naib Tehsildar, Sardulgarh, Gurpreet Mohinder Singh Chahal; Patwari, Ullak, Harjinder Singh; witnesses Kaka Singh, Pritam Singh and Arjun Singh; deed writer Rajinder Singh; Beant Singh and Jaspal Singh of Burj Bhalaike village for hatching a conspiracy to grab a piece of land through fake will.


133 ITIs face closure
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, February 26
As many as 133 industrial training institutes, including 89 for boys and 44 for girls, are on the verge of closure due to lack of interest by the successive governments. Out of total of 1,600 sanctioned posts of instructors about 900 posts, including 700 in ITIs for boys and about 200 in ITIs for girls, are lying vacant.

Official sources said no fresh recruitment in the industrial institutes had been made after 1998. The trades of instructors who retire are being closed and students undergoing training in those trades are facing a number difficulties.

Out of a total of 180 sanctioned posts of group instructors 171 posts are lying vacant. Eighteen posts of group instructors in industrial training institutes for girls are lying vacant. More than 60 industrial institutes both for boys and girls are functioning without principals.

The sources said there were in total 56 trades in the industrial institutes but due to carelessness and lack of interest by the successive governments after 1998, the number of trades started falling and continue to fall due to absence of fresh recruitment. As a consequence, the strength of the students was also falling. Machinery and raw material worth crores of rupees had been rendered idle and was deteriorating with every passing day.


Changes in curriculum from next session: minister
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 26
Punjab Higher Education Minister Khushal Behl today said curriculum at the undergraduate level would be changed from the next academic session with stress on specialisation in subjects chosen by students.

Talking to newsmen after taking part in the inaugural function of the three-day international seminar on “Yogavasistha Maharamayana”, organised by the Maharishi Valmiki Chair in Punjabi University here, the minister said a blueprint in this regard had already been prepared. He said under the new scheme, students would have to study only subject of theirspecilisation — be it science or arts.

The minister, when questioned on what level the government proposed to introduce English-learning in government schools, said a decision in this regard was still to be taken. He said the Chief Minister had already made it clear that there was need to introduce English at an early level in order to prepare children to compete in the global environment.

Earlier, Mr Behl while speaking at the seminar said Maharishi Valmiki was responsible for uniting different cultures and civilisations of his time into one string on the basis of human values. He also announced an aid of Rs 7 lakh to the Maharishi Valmiki Chair.

Earlier Dr Nivedita Singh of the Music Department recited hymns relating to Yogavasistha Maharamayana. Mr Behl also released the Punjabi translation of a book by Valmiki Chair head Dr Manjula Sahdev.


Invigilators ‘help’ Class V students
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 26
In an interesting case, about three invigilators at an examination centre for the annual examinations of Class V, being conducted by the Punjab School Education Board, at a village in the district allegedly wrote answers of various questions of the Punjabi paper for about six candidates on February 24 to facilitate them to score pass marks.

At another examination centre also set up in the district, a section of invigilators reportedly took the help of a mathematics teacher to solve the question paper on the blackboard in the room, where the candidates were taking examination on February 22.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that it is now a normal practice in the state to “help” Class V students in order to bring down the drop out rate in the primary schools.

Ms Surinder Kataria, District Education Officer (Primary), when contacted, said though the state government was making efforts to bring down the drop out rate in primary schools, it had never allowed anyone to facilitate in copying to make candidates get pass marks.

She said she had got no information in this regard. If any such thing comes to her notice, strict action would be taken.

Meanwhile, a section of candidates at the Phul the east centre in the district came in for a rude shock when they were not supplied question papers of mathematics on February 22, as it was found that about 250 question papers were short in the bundle supplied to it by the district education authorities on February 24 also, it was found that about 50 Punjabi papers were in short supply. On both occasions, the district education authorities sent special messengers for supplying extra question papers.


Students leave computer paper blank
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, February 26
Almost all students of computer science of Class VIII, appearing in this district and nearby districts today left their answersheets blank, allegedly because the Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) had failed to publish the textbook in time and the teachers had taught their ‘own’ syllabus.

Highly placed sources said computer education was one of the 13 optional papers for Class VIII and at least three schools of this district had opted for the same. The sources said that while the teaching session for the class had commenced from April, 2002, the PSEB published the book only in October and a section of the teachers taught from the old syllabus while some others just waited for the book to be released or taught from other books. The sources also alleged that the question paper was not according to the guidelines prescribed by the authorities.

Mr Suresh Kumar, Principal, Goodwill Public School, confirmed that their students had been unable to properly take the computer exam today.

He added that he had sought a ‘grace’ of 10 marks in the exam from the board. Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, Member, PSEB Textbook Committee, said he had been made aware of the matter and they would consider to.


16 school kids contract chickenpox
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, February 26
As many as 16 students of a government school located in Phul town of Bathinda district have contracted chickenpox in the past about one week. A number of parents have stopped sending their wards to school.

Dr H.S. Dhillon, Assistant Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, said a survey of all schools would be conducted and all suspected cases, would be vaccinated against the disease. He added that about 16 students contracted chickenpox in one of the schools of Phul town and 11 out of them had already been cured.

Meanwhile, Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, while passing an order to the authorities concerned to take all effective steps in connection with the anti-cholera measures, authorised the Civil Surgeon, Medical Officers, Executive Magistrate, Food Inspectors and Sanitary Inspectors to check the sale of overripe, underripe, cut fruits and vegetables without glass cover.

He also banned the sale of sugarcane juice and other drinks prepared under unhygienic conditions and ice candy, mineral water and aerated water unless declared fit for consumption.


Take action against SHO: students
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 26
Activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) will hold a demonstration tomorrow at Sunam to compel the government to take departmental action against the SHO (City), Sunam, and to withdraw alleged false cases registered against two leaders of different organisations and two students by the Sunam police.

Addressing a meeting of (PRSU) activists at the local Government Ranbir College, yesterday, Mr Sanjiv Mintoo, state Finance Secretary of the union, alleged that the police, instead of arresting miscreants who had “attacked” the PRSU leaders at Sunam about two weeks ago, had registered “false” cases against students’ leaders. This step of the police was not tolerable, he added.

Mr Mintoo said besides the withdrawal of “false” cases registered against student leaders and departmental action against the SHO (City), Sunam, the demonstrators would also demand the registeration of a case against the miscreants and their arrest.

Mr Mintoo also claimed that as the PRSU was busy in building up a student’s movement to get the demands of the students fulfilled the miscreants had started creating hurdles in the activities of the PRSU as they did not want the students to get themselves united to resolve their problems.

The meeting was also addressed by Mr Narinder Singh, secretary of the Ranbir College unit of the PRSU, and Mr Om Parkash, district treasurer of the PRSU.


Punjabi University briefs

Pro-VC re-nominated: Prof R.N Pal, Pro-Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University , has been re-nominated to the governing body of the Centre for Policy Research for a period of three years as a representative of the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR). OC

Appointed: Dr Raj Kumar Sharma, Principal, Government Mohindra College, has been appointed as a member of the Syndicate and Senate of Punjabi University, Patiala. OC

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