Wednesday, March 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSHRC chief goes on LTC 3 days after joining
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The appointment of a new Chairman notwithstanding, work at the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) continues to be at a standstill.

The new Chairman, Justice N.C. Jain, who joined late last week, has proceeded on LTC and is expected back only by month-end. The Chairman is entitled to avail himself of the LTC facility twice a year.

Immediately after taking up his new assignment, Justice Jain wanted to be medically examined by the authorised medical officer of the commission so that medical expenses are reimbursed by the commission as per rules.

With the inflow of complaints and petitions growing, the backlog is mounting. Since day-to-day work is being carried out by only two members — Mr M.N.K. Arora and Mrs Maninder Kaur Mattewal — the pendency has been growing at an alarming pace. Interestingly, Mrs Mattewal will also complete her term on March 7 and go back to the Department of Law, Panjab University, thus leaving Mr Arora alone to handle the increased load of work.

The PSHRC, which receives about 30 to 45 complaints or petitions on every working day, has been severally impaired because of the absence of adequate staff ever since the previous Chairman, Justice V.K. Khanna, retired.

The Punjab Government is yet to make appointments against various vacant positions in the commission. For example, the commission has been without a Secretary after Mr Ramesh Inder Singh moved out. Mr S.K. Verma, ADGP, attached with the commission, has been holding additional charge as Secretary of the PSHRC.

The PSHRC has to have three more members now. One of them has to be a retired Judge of the high court and one a retired District and Sessions Judge. The third member has to be someone who is well-conversant with law and human rights. But little has been done to make the PSHRC fully representative and effective for the past over three months.


NCM chief unhappy with SGPC
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
In a letter to the SGPC chief, chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) took serious note of the ‘unceremonious’ removal of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar, Kesgarh Sahib. The action of the SGPC chief had given a setback to the efforts of NMC to get the Sikh high priests the status of Pope in the world.

Even a domestic servant could not be sent home the way Prof Manjit Singh was removed as Jathedar, reads the letter, received by the SGPC here today. Mr Tarlochan Singh said that the action of the SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar had made the Sikhs a laughing stock in the eyes of the world. I don’t know how the non-Sikhs had been viewing such developments? he asked. He said he had been writing to the managements of international airlines on the high status of jathedars so that they should be given due respect during their tours.

Expressing agony over the development, Mr Tarlochan Singh said that though the SGPC was competent to take action against the high priests if found guilty for abusing powers, he should have been given time to submit his resignation on his own. He said there was no instance in the Islam or Hindu religion that their religious figures were treated with contempt.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, said that during his visit to the Golden Temple last week he opposed the move of the Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) to stage a dharna inside the SGPC complex on the ground that the Panthic leaders should refrain themselves from levelling ‘baseless’ allegations against religious leaders (read Jathedars). However, the SGPC’s task force created an unsavoury situation which resulted in a no-holds-barred clash within the holy precincts. He said in such a situation, the SGPC should have allowed the ‘dharna’ instead of allowing violence in the complex. He said electronic media telecast the clash which lowered the prestige of Sikhs all over the world.

The NCM chairman said that the brawl and use of swords in the SGPC complex had given a setback to his efforts to carry “kirpan” everywhere in the world (including flights). Secondly, such incidents would justify the interference of the police in the internal matters of the Sikhs. He said the SGPC which is an elected body should ‘tolerate’ the demonstrations staged in a democratic way.


I was misquoted, says Badungar
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, March 4
The SGPC President, Jathedar Kirpal Singh Badungar, in a climbdown in the controversy involving the dismissal of Prof Manjit Singh from the headship of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, today said he had never levelled any allegation against the dismissed Jathedar.

Addressing a press conference, he said in his conversation with newspersons following the dismissal of Prof Manjit Singh in Amritsar, he had only quoted Emerson to say ‘’details are always vulgar”. He said the dismissal of Prof Manjit Singh was a serious issue and he had only ment to say that details in such a case should not be disclosed to the Press, keeping in view the status of the high office of Takht Kesgarh Sahib.

Asked whether the SGPC had taken into account the allegations levelled by former Head Granthi Giani Bhagwan Singh while dismissing Prof Manjit Singh, Mr Badungar refused to answer the question, saying that the removal had been affected because the “maryada’’ of Takht Kesgarh Sahib was being lowered.

The SGPC chief however, took umbrage to a reported statement of Prof Manjit Singh in which he claimed that he had 12 cassettes with him which had conversations of important Akali leaders. Mr Badungar said no one could expect a Jathedar of a Takht to act as a spy by recording conversations had in good faith with them. He said such an act was shocking and any such disclosure would only reflect on the conduct of the Jathedar.

Mr Badungar also rejected the offer of Prof Manjit Singh to appoint Mr Jasbir Singh Khannawala as arbitrator. He said while he had due respect for Mr Khannawala, he could not pass judgement in the case as it was of an administrative nature. He claimed that as Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib there was no need for Prof Manjit Singh to create the Gurmat Sagar Trust as a “spiritual” endeavour. He said the Takht had been established by the Guru and there was no need for any other spiritual bearing for the Takht Jathedar.

Speaking about the claims of Prof Manjit Singh that he (Badungar) was against his initiative to bring about unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra before the SGPC elections, he said this was not true. He said he had himself suggested at a meeting of the party’s Parliamentary Affairs Committee held before the elections that he did not want to be given the responsibility of presidentship of the SGPC again. Mr Badungar said he had also made it clear that he was ready to approach Mr Tohra if unity was possible.

The SGPC President said the issue of giving siropa to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh by Prof Manjit Singh was not discussed at the time of taking a decision to dismiss him.

He said as far as the issue of allowing women to perform kirtan at Harmandar Sahib was concerned, the SGPC had an open mind and wanted to build a consensus on the issue. He said Prof Manjit Singh might have passed a resolution allowing women to perform kirtan, but the hukumnama could not be implemented because of the opposition to the move.

AMRITSAR: Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC President, has criticised the policy of the state government for issuing licenses to provision store owners to sell liquor. He said at the one hand we were trying to get the world heritage status for the Golden Temple and on the other hand such policies were being passed. In a press note here on Tuesday, he said the youth was already in the grip of addiction and it would be a blunder to make liquor easily available.

Meanwhile, Ms Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, former MLA, also criticised Capt Amarinder Singh for such a move. She said holding de-addiction camps by NGOs would serve no purpose as the government itself was promoting alcoholism.


Cong groupism may benefit SAD-BJP
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 4
Election to the Municipal Council are slated for March 9 and 76 candidates have filed nomination papers out of which two are independents. Independents Prabhjeet Singh Bhola and Pritam Devi are contesting from ward number 3 and 1 are Congress rebels. Subhash Mahajan contesting an independent from ward no. 21 is a BJP rebel.

Mr Raman Bahl former president of municipality is contesting from ward number 19. Mr Rakesh Jyoti present president of the municipality belongs to the BJP. He accused the party leadership for giving ticket to anti-party workers. He added that he applied for party ticket from ward no. 20 but was denied it.

HOSHIARPUR: Municipal elections to be held on March 9, 2003. There are 31 wards in Hoshiarpur city of which 10 are reserved for women of general and Scheduled Caste categories. The BJP and the SAD (B) fielded 20 and 11 candidates respectively jointly. The Congress is contesting in all seats. The Congress has fielded 10 women for reserve wards and also given tickets to four more women candidates in general wards. The Nagar Vikas Parishad consisting of various political parties has also put candidates in 11 wards. The Congress is divided into three factions here. One group is led by Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, and Mr Kuldip Nanda, President District Congress Committee. The other group is headed by Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP from Hoshiarpur Parliamentary Constituency. Mr Naresh Thakur, former State Minister is leading the third group. Infighting among these groups is an open secret. Mr Dogra and Mr Nanda succeeded in getting maximum number of their supporters in the final tally of the nominating party.

NAWANSHAHR: Ms Gur Iqbal Kaur, popularly known as Babli, wife of local MLA, Parkash Singh, has emerged as ‘Star campaigner’ for the Congress candidates in the municipal elections to 11 wards. People are busy ‘bargaining’ for the development of their wards. Mr Sita Ram, former Municipal Council president, (ward no. 9), Mr Lalit Mohan Pathak (Ballu), member PPCC, (ward no. 3), Mr Vinod Kumar Pinka (ward no. 6) and Ms Prem Lata, Markanda (ward no. 8) were declared elected unopposed.

MALERKOTLA: The SAD (B) today charged the Congress with “misusing official machinery to win Municipal elections slated for March 9. Mr Sukhvir Singh Badal, member, Rajya Sabha, and general secretary of the SAD (B) told mediapersons that the Congress would not get votes in the municipal elections due to its poor performance in the past one year of rule.

Ropar: The district administration here has declared 49 polling booths for Municipal Council elections of the district on March 9 as sensitive. At a press conference here today Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, said that sensitive booths include seven in Ropar Municipal Council, four in Anandpur Sahib, 15 in Kharar, 12 in Kurali and 11 in Morinda.


Moves towards Akali unity under way
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
The undeclared “ceasefire” by all senior Akali leaders of various factions has sent signals that mediators are working for rapprochement between warring Akali factions.

The moves towards Panthic unity have been visible in the meetings held between Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra at New Delhi. Irritants among Akali factions are likely to be removed in the coming days.

Moves towards, Panthic unity, before the Lok Sabha elections, scheduled next year, is clear from the open letter of former Jathedar Prof Manjit Singh that Mr Badal had visited his residence to seek support for bringing a rapprochement with Mr Tohra, few days before the annual elections of the SGPC, Prof Manjit Singh was able to arrange a meeting between Mr Badal and Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former Akali Minister and confidant of Mr Tohra at the farm house of Jalandhar-based media baron. Though Mr Badal had agreed to project Mr Gurcharn Singh Tohra SGPC president, replacing Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, but he reportedly backed out later when the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal insisted that Mr Badal must tender an apology before Akal Takht for allegedly having violated the ‘maryada’.

However, the efforts were revived when Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president, Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee and confidant of Mr Tohra made an appeal to the leaders of various Akali factions to come on one platform getting the death sentence of Prof Devinder Pal Singh Bhullar commuted. On his plea leaders of the Akali factions presented the case of Prof Bhullar.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a senior leader of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal said that ‘Panthic’ unity was the need of the hour. He admitted that Mr Badal and Mr Tohra wanted to sink differences for the sake of the Panth. To a question, Mr Calcutta admitted that he had arranged a meeting between Mr Badal and Mr Tohra at Ludhiana before the election of the SGPC last year. He said that it was clear from the history of the Akali Dal that they (the Akalis) lost elections whenever they contested as a “divided house”.

The Akali MPs have already decided to rise above factions to fight for the common demands of Punjab.


Badal seeks PM’s intervention
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
SAD President, Parkash Singh Badal today urged Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee to intervene to roll back the hike in fertiliser and diesel prices announced in the Union Budget.

Mr Badal has directed the Union Minister for Ferilisers and Chemicals, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, to use his good offices to get the hike withdrawn.

In a press statement Mr Badal said farmers were under debt and their profession had become increasingly unremunerative. In a country like India it was wrong to apply market standards and practices of the advanced world. This, he said, would surely break the back of the farming community and consequently of the economy.

The former Chief Minister also referred to the plight of farmers in the state where the Congress Government had embarked on a course of vendetta against them. “All incentives for growth, including the free power facility, provided by the SAD-BJP Government to the agricultural sector have been systematically withdrawn as a reprisal. The farmers deserve to be helped in their hour of adversity. The hike in the fertiliser and diesel prices must be rolled back in the larger interests of socio-economic stability.”


Roll back fertiliser, diesel prices: SHSAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The SHSAD today submitted a memorandum to the Punjab Governor seeking rollback of the fertiliser and diesel prices, exemption to Sikh women from wearing helmets, revocation of the death sentence to Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar and the release of grants to private educational institutions.

Later, the SHSAD leaders led by acting President Surjan Singh Thekedar met at Punjab Kisan Bhavan to discuss the latest political situation in the state and chalk out a strategy. Among those who attended the meeting were Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, both former ministers; Mr Hira Singh Gabarian, Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, Bhai Manjit Singh and Mr Karnail Singh Panjoli.

Speaking to mediapersons after the meeting, SHSAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra said that the BJP-led government at the Centre had proved its “anti-farmer” stance by putting a heavy financial burden on the farming community by increasing the prices of fertilisers, diesel and other inputs. Demanding that former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal should quit the NDA, he said the SAD leader had not said a word yet with regard to the increase in the prices of fertilisers etc.


Bikramjit elected ZP chairman
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 4
The state Congress leadership today made Mr Bikramjit Singh Chairman of the Zila Parishad Bathinda district. Mr Bikramjit Singh was elected as member of Zila Parishad from Nathana zone in June 2002.

In the election of the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the Zila Parishad, Bathinda district, which had been hanging fire for the past several weeks due to infighting among the Congress rank and file, Mr Surinder Singh was elected as Vice-Chairman. The election was being delayed as a section of the district Congress leadership was trying to appoint its own man as Chairman without taking the support of other leaders of the state.

When the election process started in the hall of the local Zila Parishad complex today afternoon, one of the members allegedly handed over the envelope having a slip containing the name of Mr Bikramjit Singh for the post of chairman to the authorties concerned. The member also said name of Mr Bikramjit Singh for the post of Chairman of Zila Parishad had been decided by the state Congress leadership. After that all members present in the hall unanimously elected Mr Bikramjit Singh as Chairman after his name was proposed by Ms Sukhdev Kaur and seconded by Mr Jaswinder Singh.

The name of Mr Surinder Singh for the post of Vice-Chairman was proposed by Mr Paramjit Singh and seconded by Ms Paramjit Kaur.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Bikramjit Singh became the choice of state Congress leadership for the post after former minister Harminder Singh Jassi, 11 of whose loyalists were elected as members out of total 17 members of the Congress in Zila Parishad last year, gave his consent for the same.

After the election were over, hundreds of Congress workers garlanded both the Chairman and the Vice-Chairman. The supporters also raised slogans in favour of Mr Jassi and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Commissioner (Development) was the Returning Officer.


All procedures followed, says Milkfed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
The Punjab Milkfed yesterday strongly refuted the allegations made by the BKU leader, Mr Balbir Singh Rojewal, about “bungling” in its operations.

In a statement, a spokesman of the Milkfed said these so-called allegations had been made by “certain disgruntled elements who are working against the interests of milk producers of the state”. As regards the true picture of the Milkfed, he said, the facts spoke for themselves. During 2001-02, Milkfed earned a record profit as compared to the previous years. This year also, Milkfed was hoping to do better as compared to last year.

“Milkfed has been paying competitive and remunerative milk prices to their milk producers and milk producers throughout the state are fully satisfied on this account. It is a matter of pride for Milkfed that all other milk plants in the organised private sector are following the milk prices being paid by Milkfed . Milkfed’s working cannot be compared with small timers who try to take make profits by exploiting the dairy milk producers”, he said.

The spokesman emphasised that the during the last couple of years, the Milkfed had been making significant progress in all spheres, whether it is milk procurement, development of products, marketing of liquid milk, with the result that people had started envying its efforts.

He pointed out that the Milkfed was a cooperative sector undertaking owned and run by the elected representatives of milk producers of Punjab where all the decisions for purchase of machinery/equipment, packing material, hiring of private services like road milk tankers were taken after observing all the purchase formalities as per the approved procedure/system. Likewise, milk products were being marketed in an absolute transparent way keeping in view market scenario, stocks position and future trends.

With a view to increasing maximum returns from the milk products, the Milkfed recently took a decision to import reconditioned machinery which were available at very cheap rates compared to the cost of new machinery. This would help Milkfed to market more than 15 MTs per day of table butter and improve the viability of three milk plants. Likewise, Milkfed had purchased automatic milk collection stations to bring transparency in the procurement system at the village level milk producers cooperative societies from a highly reputed firm M/s Rajasthan Electronics and Instruments Ltd., which was a Central Government undertaking at a highly remunerative price. While placing the rate contract the interests of milk producers for timely post installation maintenance services had also been considered.


Dead birds: DC seeks legal advice
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 4
In connection with the perishing of birds near the Nangal slaughterhouse, the Deputy Commissioner, of Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, has sought legal advice to know if the culprits can be taken to court. The advice has been sought after receiving a report from the Forest Department on the issue.

The Forest Department report endorses, an earlier report of the Veterinary Officer of the Nangal Municipal Council that the birds perished due to an intake of pesticides. The fresh report, however, said proceeding could not be initiated in this case under the Wildlife Act because most birds that perished were crows, that were not covered by the Act. The Deputy Commissioner said the legal advice had been sought to find if legal proceeding could be initiated in the case under any other law.

The ADC (general) of Ropar, Mr Vikas Garg, has also been told to probe the role of the council authorities in the perishing of birds. The reports of the ADC, forest officials, the Executive Officer of the council and the Veterinary Officer would be sent to the Punjab Human Rights Commission, Ms Jain said. Meanwhile, the council has placed a daily-wager, Gauri Lal, who was posted at the slaughterhouse, under suspension, holding him responsible for what happened.

However, the local NGOs, that have taken up the matter, say that the move is an eyewash. The daily-wager could only be removed from service and not suspended; moreover, he had just been guarding the slaughterhouse; with no role in the deposition of pesticides in the slaughterhouse. It was the duty.


Uprooting of towers to be probed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 4
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) yesterday took serious note of the uprooting of its two towers on the Dhuri - Malerkotla line in Sangrur district two days ago following high-velocity winds in the area by forming a committee to inquire into the reasons for the incident.

The two towers, which are massive constructions in concrete, were virtually uprooted following high velocity winds on March 1.

However, no major damage was reported in the vicinity of the area which prompted the PSEB to go in for a probe.

Besides this, reports said the towers were not old which could have explained their failure to withstand the winds.

The board sources said the towers were designed to take on high velocity winds and their folding up in such a manner was inexplicable.

Board’s Member (Generation) H.S. Sahai, when contacted on the issue, said an inquiry committee headed by the Director (Transmission Design), Mr N.M. Sharma, and consisting of the Director (Civil Design), Mr S.K. Sharma, P and M Deputy Chief Engineer R.K. Duggal and Thermal Design Additional Superintending Engineer B S Kamboj had been formed to investigate the cause of the failure of the towers to withstand the high winds.

Mr Sahai said the committee had been advised to associate the officials who had constructed the line in the inquiry.

He said the committee would ascertain whether the 11 KV-high tension and low tension lines in the near vicinity of the towers had also been affected due to the high winds which had lashed the area.

He said the committee would fix responsibility of different officers for lapses in construction or maintenance as may be the case and submit its report within 10 days.


Mini-bus operators form breakaway group
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The tussle between two groups of mini-bus operators union of the district deepened today when a group led by Mr Sukhvir Singh Brar formed a separate union.

The conflict between the groups started some days ago, when one group showed dissatisfaction with the performance of office-bearers of the union. The breakaway group had levelled allegations of inefficiency against the leaders of the union. The other group, however, had refuted the allegations and had alleged that some members of the union wanted to become its office-bearers because of which they were levelling baseless allegations.

The breakaway group also held a meeting during which some resolutions were passed. Interestingly, the breakaway group also passed a resolution that the mini-bus operators should cooperate with each other so that they could work for the welfare of operators.

Meanwhile, as per a press note of the breakaway group, the office-bearers of the new union are: patron — Mr Surinder Pal Bansal; president — Mr Sukhvir Singh Brar; secretary — Mr Narinder Singh Jhumba; legal advisor — Mr Manohar Lal Bansal; and advisor — Mr Shiveharan Singh Virk.

Mr Brar said the members of the new union had unanimously decided not to raise objections to the issuance of permits for new mini-buses. He said meetings of the union would be held regulary to listen to the grievances of the members.


BKU dharna enters 2nd day
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The BKU (E) today claimed that it had got freed a defaulting farmer lodged at the Central Jail, even as the indefinite dharna of the union, near Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB), entered second day today.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district president of the union, said the farmer, Major Singh of Malooka village, was released due to the pressure of the union. He said the farmer could not repay the loan as his economic condition had become poor due to the continuous failure of crops.

However, sources said the farmer had been arrested for not paying the loan which had been taken for non-farming purposes. Official sources said no farmer who had not repaid the loan taken for agricultural purposes had been arrested in the district.

Mr Jethuke said they continue the dharna till the defaulting farmers, arrested by different departments, were released. He said it did not make difference whether the farmers were arrested for being defaulters of the farming or non-farming sector. Mr Jethuke said there were at least eight farmers lodged at the Central Jail.

However, sources said all these persons belonging to different villages were defaulters of loans taken for non-farming sector. While one farmer had not paid loan taken from PADB for starting a tent house, the others were defaulters of Housefed.

Mr Jethuke said besides the release of arrested farmers, the other demands of the union were writing off of loans of farmers. He alleged that the farmers were debt-ridden due to the wrong policies of the government.

He said the rate of interest of loans given to the farmers should be reduced and arhtiyas should issue passbooks to farmers about the dealings between the farmers and the arhtiyas.

The farmers, sitting on dharna, had erected tents and made arrangements for tea and meals, at the place of dharna, as they were expecting that they would have to stay for a long time. The union had also sent its activists to different villages to motivate the farmers to participate in the dharna.


Vedanti to speak on Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 4
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, would deliver presidential address on Nanakshahi calendar at a seminar being organised at Khalsa College on March 8.

Prof Suba Singh, a Sikh scholar, said though the Akal Takht had already accepted the ‘Nanakshahi calendar’ yet anomalies, if any, would be removed on the basis of the concrete suggestions made by the scholars at the seminar. 


CM’s function cancelled
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The visit of the Punjab Chief Minister here to lay the foundation stone of the Transport Nagar on March 5 has been cancelled after distributing invitation cards to officials, Congress leaders, press persons, as the state Local Bodies Minister was unable to attend the function.

Official sources today said the function had been cancelled as Mr Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister, was not available for the function. Since the function was of the department headed by him so his presence at the function was essential. Sources said the scheduled visit of the Chief Minister to the Transport Nagar had been cancelled at the eleventh hour. The sources said the function would be rescheduled.

However, according to sources, the programme had been cancelled as the authorities of the local Improvement Trust had made some plans to change the alignment of some roads in the proposed Transport Nagar.

A road had been constructed allegedly to help a BJP leader but after much hue and cry, it was raised and the work suspended. The function of the Chief Minister had been cancelled to prevent any awkward situation from arising on due to large scale resentment among the people over the construction of the road. 


Power shutdown
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The Sub Divisional Officer, Cantt Subdivision, Punjab State Electricity Board, in a press note here today said due to some urgent repair and maintenance tasks the power supply would remain suspended from 7 am to 7 pm on March 7 in the following areas: Ajit Road, Bibi Wala Road, Kamla Nehru Nagar, Bharat Nagar, Aggarwal Colony, Bhatti Road, Ganesha Basti, Guru Gobind Singh Nagar, Hazoora Kapoora Colony, Adarsh Nagar, Joga Nand Road. The power supply to Bibi Wala, Joga Nand and Gobind Pura villages would also be suspended.

Due to some repairs in the 33 KV power sub-station the power supply to Power House Road, Shaant Nagar, Model Town, Mehna Chowk Bhagu Road would be suspended from 7 to 9 am and 5 to 7 pm.


Jagman’s statement held legal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 4
The Special Judge at Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, has dismissed the application of a former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission, Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, in which, he had said that the statement given by his one-time associate, Jagman, as public approver in the case against him was illegal.

The Judge said the application filed by Sidhu was just an effort to delay the proceedings in the case.

He held the statement of Jagman given to the CJM Ropar as legal.

The evidence in the disproportionate-assets case against Ravi Sidhu will be examined on March 29.


SGPC concerned over conversions
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 4
Taking a serious note of conversions by Christian missionaries of Sikh villagers of Goindwal Sahib, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, said it was a matter of grave concern as poor and Dalit sections were being converted by missionaries.

He said the conversions were a part of a conspiracy to divide Sikh panth and to hijack its programmes in spreading religious teachings and its significance among Sikh masses.

In a letter to Mr Tirlochan Singh, chairman, National Minorities Commission, he stated that this issue should be taken on priority basis with Christian religious heads to desist them from such acts to avoid any clash amongst minority communities.


Ministerial services staff to hold rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The Punjab State Ministerial Services Union said today that a state-level rally, to press for their demands, would be held at Mini Secretariat, Ludhiana.

The state press secretary of the union, Mr Baldev Singh, in a statement issued here today said the state government had backtracked from its poll promises and the government offices were being converted into corporations.

He said even jobs on compassionate grounds had been banned by the anti-employee government. He alleged that even the channels of promotions had been blocked by the present government.

He said activists from all over the state would attend the rally.


Test put off again
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 4
It was the second time today that the Punjab State Aids Control Society sent back aspirants for the post of Document and Duplication Officer without assigning any plausible reason for postponing the pre-interview test.

“It was too shocking for us to return without interview”, said one of the candidates, who had come here today from a far-off place in Punjab.

The post was advertised in December last year. The first interview was fixed on January 23. Most of the candidates came to know about the first interview on their own. The letter for the first interview reached certain candidates one day after the day of interview. However, no interview was held that day.

The candidates were told to come here to appear in a pre-interview test today though there was no mention in the advertisement that such a test will be held. But the candidates were shocked to know that the test has been posted till further orders. A few candidates said they were supposed to be interviewed tomorrow after this.


Traders hold dharna, block traffic
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 4
Shopkeepers of Sherpur and Katron villages near Dhuri today kept shops closed in protest against the police inaction against a taxi driver who allegedly had “beaten up” Mr Badri Prashad of Sherpur who has a shop at Katron, on February 27 last. Mr Kulwant Rai Garg, president of the Sherpur Block Beopar Mandal, told The Tribune on phone today that shopkeepers staged a dharna in the main bazaar of the village and also blocked traffic for three hours at Katron Chowk at Sherpur, demanding registration of a case against the taxi driver and his accomplices.

Mr Garg said though the traders approached the police several times, but it did nothing. 


Two injured in scuffle
Our Correspondent

Maur Mandi (Bathinda), March 4
Two persons were injured when they entered into a scuffle at this town today. Although the family members of the injured said the scuffle was due to personal enmity but sources feared that it could be related to elections of the local municipal council to be held on March 9 as both of them belonged to different political groups.

The injured, Suresh Kumar and Bhushan Kumar, have been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The hospital sources said the injuries were not very serious and seemed to have been caused due to use of blunt weapons. No case had been registered till the filing of this report. The situation became tense after the scuffle, although some residents saved it from taking an ugly turn.

Meanwhile, campaigning for the election of municipal councillors for 15 wards here has gathered momentum.

Elaborate security arrangements have been so that elections take place peacefully. The local residents have been asked to deposit their licensed arms with the authorities concerned. 


DSP booked for graft
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 4
A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against Mr Manohar Lal, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Bathinda city, in the Vigilance Bureau police station, Amritsar.

Police sources said a case was registered on a complaint lodged by a resident of Hoshiarpur district. The resident, whose identity had been kept secret, had alleged that Mr Manohar Lal did not return the money which he had taken from him and his kin when they were arrested in a criminal case.

Sources added that an inquiry into the complaint was entrusted with the Vigilance Bureau, Amritsar. The official of the Vigilance Bureau, who conducted the inquiry, recorded the statements of the complainant and other witnesses, including a police official of the level of the Station House Officer (SHO).

Sources added that the SHO had also admitted in the inquiry that Mr Manohar Lal had taken money from the complainant and did not return the same.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that Mr Manohar Lal had applied for leave upto March 6. Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, had forwarded his leave application to the DIG, Faridkot Range, Mr S. Chottopadhya. Sources added that the Vigilance Bureau had despatched its team to arrest Mr Manohar Lal.


Ex-DSP booked for torture

Moga, March 4
At the instance of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the police registered a criminal case against Amrik Singh retired DSP for allegedly torturing Manga in the police custody when he was in charge of the Moga police station.

The case was registered under Sections 342, 323, 506 and 341, IPC.

According to the FIR, in 1996, the Punjab and Haryana High Court warrant officer raided the police station and found Manga in illegal detention. He had also been tortured. UNI


2 chain-snatchers arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 4
The district police has arrested two chain-snatchers, who were identified as Santandip Singh and Ramesh Kumar.

In a press note issued here yesterday, the SSP, Mr Varinder Kumar, said Kiran Bala, in her complaint, alleged that two scooter-borne youths snatched her gold chain while she was on her way home on a rickshaw. Kiran noted down the registration number of the scooter.

Subsequently, a case was registered and two persons were arrested. The arrested were being produced in the court.


Poppy husk seized; 7 held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 4
The district police seized six bags of poppy husk and arrested three persons in this connection today.

According to a press note issued here today, a police party stopped a Tata Sumo (DL-3J-4072) at Sangat Crossings here and found the poppy husk kept inside. The accused — Avtar Singh, Janak Raj and Saraj Singh — told the police they had been taking the poppy husk to Moga.

Three more persons — Hardip Singh, Makhan Singh and Jiwan Singh — have been arrested for smuggling 70 kg poppy husk. Also, a man called Gurjant Singh, who belongs to Jion Singh Wala village, has been arrested for possessing 6.2 kg poppy husk. Cases under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act have been registered against all accused.

The police has also seized 36 bottles of whisky and Rs 5,210 cash from bootleggers and gamblers, respectively.


PCCTU rally on March 20
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 4
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union today announced that the march to the Punjab Assembly will be held on March 20 and 21 union leaders will court arrest during the Budget session in Chandigarh.

Disclosing here this evening, Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary of the PCCTU, claimed that the decision was taken at a meeting of the office-bearers of the union with Prof S.S. Hundal in chair.

The teachers working in 172 colleges in Punjab and Chandigarh would observe a mass casual leave and reach Chandigarh on March 20, said Dr Tewari. From March 21, a batch of 11 college teachers would court arrest in Chandigarh daily. On April 2, an all-women teachers group would court arrest. The action would culminate on April 3 with a mass court arrest in Chandigarh, informed Dr Tewari. A notice had been served on the Punjab Government and three universities in the state regarding this, he informed.

Dr Tewari said from March 21, the college teachers would not perform any duty connected with examinations or any other college work till the conclusion of the agitation. The union criticised the Punjab Government for its failure to resolve the problems of teachers which had been discussed with the Chief Minister.

In total violation of poll commitments, the Amarinder government had failed to restore the 95 per cent grant-in-aid scheme and grant-pensionary benefits as per the executive orders on December 18, 1996.


64-cr released under abhiyan
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 4
With a view to eliminating illiteracy, the Punjab Government has released an amount of Rs 64 crore of the total amount of Rs 130 crore to the Education Department under the Sarb Sikhiya Abhiyan.

Addressing a gathering at the annual prize distribution function of the local Saint Soldier College, Chaudhary Santokh Singh, Punjab Social Welfare Minister, said illiteracy had become a major problem for the state which was evident from a large population of about 64 lakh which was still illiterate and could not attain education for one or the other reason.

He said the remaining amount of Rs 66 crore would be provided to the Education Department on a priority basis so that the menace of illiteracy could be wiped out as soon as possible.

He said education for more and more people was a necessity so that they could create maximum awareness among youth and persuade them not to fall prey to vices like drugs and alcohol.

Expressing his concern at the increasing female foeticide, Mr Chaudhary said it was sad to note that people of an advanced state like Punjab were doing little to put an end to this crime.

Others who addressed included Ms Shanta Chopra, Ms Sangeeta Chopra and Mr Anoop Singh Multani, Principal of the college.

Later, the minister distributed prizes among about 200 students of the college. He also announced a grant of Rs 5000 for the college. 


National seminar on media held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 4
Stressing that newspapers should ensure that they faithfully dispense their social responsibilities, Dr B.K. Kuthiala, Dean, Media Studies at Guru Jambeshwar University, Hisar stated that the newspapers should act as a concilliator and adopt a constructive approach towards different issues besides highlighting the vices which plague the society.

He was deliberating on the role of the Editor in present times at the two-day National Seminar on ‘Media and Society: Contemporary Issues’ organised by Punjabi University’s Department of Journalism and Mass Communication.

Speaking on the occasion, Assistant Editor of ‘The Tribune’, Mr Roopinder Singh, said new technologies like the internet had been instrumental in “extending” the printed word.

Mr Navjot Singh Johal, Head of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Punjabi University, also spoke.

The chief guest, Mr Jagjit Singh Anand, Chief-Editor of Nawan Zamana called for a review of traditional laws in relation to the press. 

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