Saturday, March 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Councillor’s name ‘deleted’ from voters’ list
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, March 7
Mr Malkiat Singh Mann, advocate and local Municipal Commissioner, who had successfully contested the Dhuri Municipal Council elections consecutively in 1992 and 1997, has alleged that his name had been deleted from the revised and current voters list of this town illegally by officials concerned at the instance of his rivals.

In a complaint sent to the state Election Commissioner Punjab, Chandigarh, on Wednesday Mr Maan had alleged that his name was already there in the voters list released by the Municipal Council, Dhuri, in 1997 but by deleting his name from the current voters list, he had been deprived of his constitutional right of contesting the MC elections scheduled to be held on March 9. He had also been debarred from exercising his franchise in these elections.

Mr Mann had also alleged that on January 27, 2003, he had applied to the local SDM-cum-Returning Officer for registering his name as a voter in the current voters list, but instead of taking any action, the SDM had forwarded his application to ADC (Development), Sangrur, who had forwarded his case to the State Election Commissioner, Punjab, Chandigarh, on February 29, 2003, but no action had been taken by the authorities in the matter so far.

However, Dr Indu Malhotra, SDM, Dhuri, when contacted yesterday termed the allegations of Mr Mann as false and baseless and claimed that Mr Mann had never applied for getting his name enlisted in the current voters list on the prescribed proforma along with the requisite fee. However, on coming to know about the matter she had asked the Dhuri Tehsildar to hold an inquiry into the matter.

The Tehsildar had found the complaint of Mr Mann to be authentic. She added that she had forwarded the matter to ADC, Sangrur, for taking action against the officials concerned for their negligence in the matter. She also claimed that she had made the votes of Mr Inderjit Singh and Ms Kamlesh Kumari within the prescribed period as she was authorised to enlist the new voters upto February 27, 2003.


MC poll: wooing voters with liquor, sweets and meals
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, March 7
The candidates seeking election to the Municipal Council here have been serving liquor and meals to their supporters. The women supporters are being served by serving sweets and meals. A candidate contesting from the ward no. 1 in an invitation to his women supporters has mentioned it that they would be served tea at the meeting. Sweets were distributed among women supporters at a meeting at the local ward no. 7 yesterday.

Women of the local ward no. 19 who moved from house to house today said that their woman candidate made special arrangements for sweets and food for them. Other candidates too are doing the same to woo women voters with food, sweets and meals.

PATHANKOT: People here especially students heaved a sigh of relief when electioneering for municipal elections ended today.

Students were the worst affected with their final examinations round the corner.

Liquor, poster sellers and other allied traders were seen doing brisk business. Now door-to-door convassing and distribution of liquor, blankets and other gifts to please the voters have started.

KAPURTHALA: Of the 23 wards of municipal council here, two candidates Bakshish Singh Labha of the Congress of ward number 3 and Monica Goyal an Akali candidate in ward number 7 were declared elected unopposed as their opponents withdrew from the election.

The Akali Dal (Badal), the BJP and the BSP (Ambedkar) have formed a joint front against the Congress. Star campaigner of the Congress Local MLA Rana Gurjit Singh has been campaigning in all 21 wards to seek votes for party candidates. The Congress is demanding votes for development of the town.

Former Akali Minister Raghbir Singh, BJP leaders Hira Lal Dhir and Narottam Dev Ratti and BSP (Ambedkar) president Devi Dass Nahar are working for the success of the morcha candidates. Liquor to influence the voters is being used freely.

There are 82 candidates in the fray but most of the wards have straight contest between the Congress and Morcha candidates.

There is no use of public address system in the electioneering as on the appeal of the district authorities, contestants decided not to use loudspeakers due to examinations of students.

Congress rebel Darshana Adia who was denied ticket is contesting as an independent from ward number 13 against the official Congress candidate. Similarly an Akali rebel Kanta Rani who was denied the ticket is also contesting as an independent candidate in ward number 17.


Fate of 32 to be decided at Khamano

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 7
Around 5,600 voters will decide the fate of 32 candidates in Khamano where the nagar panchyat election is scheduled to be held on March 9.

Most of the candidates are contesting elections here independently.

According to information, for all 11 wards of nagar panchyat, 12 women are in the fray.

As per information, from ward No. 1: (reserve) Sukhwinder Singh, Sadhu Singh and Harbhinder Singh; ward No. 2: (reserve) Saroj Rani, Harbans Kaur, Raj Dulari and Lakhwinder Kaur; ward No. 3: Diwan Chand, Balaur Singh and Ravinderpreet Singh; ward No. 4: Inderjit Singh, Balwinder Singh and Mohinder Kaur; ward No. 5: (reserve) Gurmit Kaur, Jaswant Kaur and Ranjit Kaur; ward No. 6: Balamjit Singh and Major Singh; ward No. 7: (reserve) Amarjit Singh, Harkirat Singh, Harmit Singh and Dharam Singh; ward No. 8: Harpal Kaur and Malkit Kaur; ward No. 9: Dilbagh Singh, Babu Singh Chouhan and Ranjit Singh; ward No. 10: Gurdev Singh, Gurmukh Singh and Jaspal Singh; ward No. 11: Daljit Kaur and Manjit Kaur.

Meanwhile, Mr Vikas Partap, Fatehgarh Sahib, Deputy Commissioner, said elaborate arrangements had been made for elections to the Municipal Councils, Mandi Gobindgarh and Bassi Pathana and Nagar Panchayat, Khamano Fatehgarh Sahib district, which is scheduled to be held on March 9.

The DC said for the 13 wards of municipal council, Bassi Pathana, 52 candidates, for 18 wards of municipal council, Mandi Gobindgarh, 93 candidates and for 11 wards of Nagar Panchayat, Khamano, 32 candidates were in the fray, while Mr Jagmeet Singh Sahota, was elected unopposed from ward No. 9 of Mandi Gobindgarh. He said 61,435 voters would exercise their votes in these elections and for the purpose 14 polling booths had set up at Bassi Pathana, 40 in Mandi Gobindgarh and 11 at Khamano.

Mr Partap said Fatehgarh Sahib, SSP, had declared two booths sensitive at Khamano, two at Bassi Pathana and five at Mandi Gobindgarh. He said for the smooth conduct of elections 450 employees has been deputed. UNI


Counting only after approval: HC
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 7
Less than 48 hours before the elections to the Dera Bassi Municipal Council were scheduled to be held, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the counting of votes should not be done without prior approval.

In a related development, Mr Ram Kumar, a contestant from Ward No 6, was allowed to submit his nomination papers for the elections this afternoon. The orders were passed by the Bench comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal. Later in the evening, Mr Ram Kumar, accompanied by his supporters, marched up to the Returning Officer-cum-SDM’s office to submit his papers.

Challenging the delimitation of wards by the Punjab Government, the Dera Bassi MC, president, Mr Jagjit Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Bhatia and two others had contended that the provisions of the relevant rules had not been followed. Giving details, they had submitted that the wards were also renumbered during the process of rotation. As a result, the reserved wards became reserved again.

Mr Ram Kumar, in his petition, had alleged that the authorities concerned had refused to open the door on February 27 when he reached the office for filing his nomination papers around 2.50 pm as certain Congress leaders were sitting inside. Around 3.15 pm, Mr Ram Kumar was told that he was late for filing the papers, his counsel Ranjan Lakhanpal asserted. Within minutes a fax was sent to the Punjab Election Commissioner, he had added.

Earlier Mr Dalli, Mr Bhatia and two other persons had alleged mass violation of notification issued by the state election commission on December 11. They had also alleged that the delimitation of wards was carried out in a biased and unfair manner to benefit some candidates. As a result, some wards of the Municipal Council would be represented by certain city councillors again.

While talking to the Tribune, the complainants said the exercise was carried out in such a way that no new wards were created and only old ones were marked again. The residents had alleged that the wards had been marked again in such a way that the number of some wards had been changed without changing their area.

Over 12 aspirants had filed written objections to the Secretary of the Department of Local Government of Punjab and the State Election Commissioner over the biased delimitation of wards by a Ward Delimitation Committee.

Mr Bhatia, a local resident, alleged that the Ward Delimitation Committee had violated the norms while opting the rotation system to provide reservation for women contestants and for those contesting from the reserved wards.

Supporters of Mr Ram Kumar, an Independent candidate from Ward No 6, had protested and gheraoed the Returning Officer-cum-SDM of Dera Bassi on February 27. They alleged that the security guards of the RO had restrained their leader from entering the office of the RO and stoping him from filing his candidature.

He had also alleged that two senior Congress leaders along with the RO had hatched a conspiracy to restrain him from filing his papers.

On the directions of the Court, Mr Ram Kumar along with Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, today filed his nomination papers and started a door-to-door campaign.



Counting of Batala MC votes stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
In less than 48 hours before the elections to the Batala Municipal Council were scheduled to be held, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed that the counting shall not be done without prior approval.

In their petition, taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, Mr Manjit Singh and three other BJP-SAD councillors had earlier challenging the delimitation of wards by the Punjab Government.

They had contended that the provisions of the relevant rules had not been followed. Giving details, they had submitted that reasonable opportunity for filing objections was not given. Moreover, the objections were decided without the application of mind.

Denying the allegations, the state of Punjab, on the other hand, had contended that the entire process had been carried as per the law. The notification, it was added, was perfectly valid.

Bail plea

Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday directed that an application, seeking the cancellation of anticipatory bail granted to former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, should be put up according to the roster.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Nijjar also fixed March 14 as the next date of hearing in the case. In his application, her daughter Harpreet Kaur’s “husband” Kamaljit Singh had earlier stated that Bibi’s nephew, arrested by the police, had revealed that he had gone to kill him on three different occasions, but could not succeed because of the security.

It was further alleged in the petition that Bibi was threatening the witnesses. Kusam, a key witness, had turned hostile during the cross examination though she had fully supported the prosecution case during the examination-in-chief.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court, it may be recalled, had earlier “made it clear” to Bibi that she and her followers should maintain distance from Kanwaljit Singh and his family.

The Court had also observed that the directions were necessary so that “there was no interference with the due course of justice and there was a fair trail of the case”. The Court had added “Bibi would not do anything which might have the effect of stultifying fair trial of the case. She will not try to intimidate the witnesses or tamper with the evidence, nor will she allow her followers to intimidate the witnesses or tamper with the evidence”.


Sikh gurdwara panel moved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
The Sikh Forum today moved the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) against the removal of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib. The commission headed by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti has fixed the date for hearing on March 10.

In the petition the Sikh Forum alleged that the SGPC had violated bylaws of Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, as Prof Manjit Singh was removed without serving any notice on him. The Sikh Forum prayed that the respondents, including the SGPC secretary, should be removed for removing Prof Manjit Singh. The petitioner claimed that Prof Manjit Singh has served the Takhts according to Sikh traditions.

It is alleged that Prof Manjit Singh had been removed from his post due to internal politics. The petition reads, ‘while removing Prof Manjit Singh the service rules framed by the SGPC had been violated which has caused serious prejudice apart from loss to every Sikh including the petitioner”. 

Badungar must quit: Jathedar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
Giani Ishwar Singh, Jathedar of Guptsar Sahib, Sangrur, has demanded the resignation of Mr Kirpal Singh Badunger, SGPC chief, for flouting directions of ‘Singh Sahibs’ who had directed that no gender bias should exist in respect of seva in Sri Harmandir Sahib and women be allowed to perform seva there. He said despite these directions to the SGPC in 1940 and again in 1996 these were not followed. It was an insult to the Sikh clergy, he added.


Probe ordered into Milkfed working
BKU allegations against Managing Director
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Punjab Government has ordered an inquiry into the working of Milkfed, Dr B.C. Gupta, Principal Secretary, Cooperation, Punjab, revealed here today.

The inquiry had been ordered to probe the allegations levelled by the BKU against the Milkfed Managing Director and the questions and suspicions raised with regard to the functioning of this cooperative organisation.

Mr Alok Shekhar, Additional Registrar, had been asked to submit the inquiry report within four weeks. Earlier, another inquiry was ordered and the officer concerned had been asked to intimate the status of that inquiry.

BKU leader Balbir Singh Rajewal recently alleged that Milkfed sold “desi ghee” to a select firm cheaper at least by Rs 10 to 12 per kg, thus causing a loss of several lakhs to milk producers and cooperative milk plants. The supply of milk has been given to private contractors in certain big towns and that amounted to playing a fraud on the milk plants concerned. Earlier, milk plants used to spend 88 paise per litre on the distribution of milk but with the handing over of supply to private contractors, the cost had touched Rs 1.20 per litre and that was paid by the milk plants concerned.

Milkfed was paying a lower rate per kilo fat than its counterpart in Haryana and other private organisations functioning in Punjab and Haryana. Even poorest quality milk powder was selling at a rate varying between Rs 68 and Rs 70 but Punjab Milkfed had been selling it at Rs 57 per kg. Private milk plants had been hired to process milk while milk plants in the cooperative sector remained underutilised.

He had also alleged that an old machine from Australia had been bought by spending over Rs 2 crore but it was not functioning. Likewise, he had also alleged bungling in the transportation of milk from Punjab to Mother Dairy, Delhi.

However, the Milkfed Managing Director has vehemently denied the allegations levelled by Mr Rajewal. Stating that the allegations were baseless and without any substance, he said that while taking decisions pertaining to purchase or sale of any material all proper procedures were followed. The MD had further said being a cooperative institution, Milkfed and its plants were being run by elected representatives. Competitive and remunerative prices were paid to milk producers. Only disgruntled elements were raising unnecessary controversies with regard to Milkfed and its management.


Farmers may reduce area under sugarcane
Tribune News Service

Rakhra (Patiala), March 7
Sowing of sugarcane which starts at the end of February and continues for part of Match, is yet to take off in the district and neighbouring areas.

Now farmers are disenchanted with the payment of sugarcane for the present season at the rate of Rs 70 per quintal instead of Rs 100 as was made earlier. This is because the central government announced the price of Rs 70 per quintal only and that the additional Rs 30 are to be paid to the farmers by the Punjab government.

The farmers were assured by Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, Political Secretary to the State Chief Minister, and Nabha Legislator Randeep Singh at a function at the Cooperatative Sugar mill here today that the State government would pay them the additional amount of Rs 30. Farmers still are undecided on sowing sugarcane this season. The sugar mill here at a function distributed last year’s dues in the form of cheques to farmers to enthuse them. But it failed.

The cheques were taken back from farmers back immediately after these were ceremonially handed over to them. The farmers were told that the money would be credited to their accounts. The cheque distribution ceremony was just a photo session for the VIPs. The Sugar mill had announced that a seminar would be organised on the occasion. This could not take place due to the absence of experts. Besides the VIPs, the farmers, most of whom were angry at the state of affairs, were also not given an opportunity to air views.

The farmers told The Tribune “We have been cheated despite our role in ensuring the running of the Cooperative mill”, said Harbans Singh, sarpanch of Dughat village in Nabha tehsil. He said while the mill was charging interest on loans taken by farmers to sow sugarcane and tend it, the farmers were paid the dues one year after the supply of the produce to the mill. Harbans Singh and other villagers of Dughat and Hirdapur, including sarpanch Joginder Singh, demanded that interest on farmers’ loans should also be waived following late payments by the mill.

Farmers were angry and resented late payments. Baldev Singh from Bharog said last year he had to pay from his pocket to the labour which had cut the cane, this year he had to borrow to pay dues of the labourers. “How long can I continue like this”, he said adding he was not going to sow any cane this year.

Sugar mill Managing Director A.P. Gupta said he was not pessimistic saying the release of payments to farmers would encourage them to sow sugarcane again this season. He said in the present season, farmers had been given payment for the month of December. However Chief Cane Development Officer Dr Manohar Singh said against the need of 7000 hectares of sugarcane, the mill had only 3200 hectares attached to it. He said this was because private sugar mills of Amloh, Dhuri and Patran had grabbed its sugarcane.


Farmers’ protest irks residents
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 7
Farmers agitating against the Punjab government by staging an indefinite sit-in opposite the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) headquarters here on the Mall road are littering the famous Baradari Gardens, digging up land to make open-air kitchens and causing severe traffic congestion in other parts of the city.

The district administration and the PSEB seem helpless to prevent control the situation. This is despite the fact that the administration had earlier asked the district police not to allow dharnas on the Mall road in front of the offices of the PSEB, the Deputy Commissioner’s office or the PWD headquarters. Even though the PSEB has court orders forbidding gathering of people in its proximity, the orders are being flouted with impunity.

Today the closure of the Mall road saw an Army convoy, carrying tanks on heavy vehicles, being stranded.

Though most of the citizens sympathise with the farmers, they are agitated over the mode of their protest. Mr Amarjit Singh Walia, a resident of Sheranwala gate area, said the farmers should have chosen some other spot to register their protest. A long siege on the Mall road would throw life out of gear in the cityhe said. He said the district administration should follow the pattern of the Chandigarh administration and not allow protesters to proceed beyond a certain point which in this case could be the Fountain chowk, the entry onto the Mall road. The farmers have also started an open-air kitchen alongside the Mall road to cater to those who have joined the dharna.


Summon Sarna at Takht: Bitta
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
“Canada could meet the same fate as the USA for giving terrorists political asylum. Just as the USA created Osama-bin-Laden who unleashed terror on it, Canada might also meet the same destiny,” Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, president of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, said at a press conference. He condemned pressure tactics by foreign countries for commuting the death sentence of Davinder pal Singh Bhuller, convicted in the Delhi bomb blast case.

He said if political parties such as the Akali Dals and the Congress, along with Akal Takht Jathedar, joined hands to free a terrorist on death row there was every chance that the Shahi Imam would plead for clemency for attackers of Indian Parliament. “What is the use of a judicial system if decisions are going to be taken by some politicians, making ‘heroes’ out of terrorist as has been done with hardcore terrorists like Zaffarwal and Dr Jagjit Chohan,” he said.

Criticising Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti for siding with a terrorist, he said: “With all due respect, I ask Jathedar Vedanti to order an inquiry into how Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna, DSGMC president, allegedly took help from anti-Sikh riot accused Sajjan Kumar and Jagdish Tytler during the DSGMC elections. He should be summoned before Akal Takht”.

Mr Sarna, when contacted in Delhi, said he would take political exile if Mr Bitta’s accusations were proved correct.


Haven for addicts now heaven for orphans
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 7
Nobody had imagined that a front page news item, “Maqboolpura —a locality of widows”, published in these columns four years ago would lead to a mass movement to curb the menace of drug addiction which claimed the lives of more than 100 men.

Maqboolpura was notorious for drug addicts. After reading the story, a social activist, Mr Brij Bedi, husband of supercop Kiran Bedi, visited Maqboolpura.

A resident of the locality, Mr Ajit Singh, took him around and showed him how some addicts were administering morphine injections to each other.

Mr Bedi offered to adopt orphans for imparting education while Mr Ajit Singh reciprocated by converting his own house into a “unique school”. With their efforts, the number of students has risen to 160 and the school — Citizen forum Vidya Mandir — has nine teachers who are students themselves and are being coached to get higher education. Ms Kiran Bedi who visited the school remarked, “This is a project which has never been attempted anywhere in the world”. She said the school was better than Navjyoti being run by her in New Delhi where thousands of children of drug addicts were getting education free of cost. She has now made the school a part of Navjyoti and offered to give Rs 6,000 per month for expenses.

American students of “miri piri” school (who embraced Sikkism) visited the school regularly to help the students with cash and kind.

Mother of one of the students, Satdev Kaur, has started a project called Gabriel in Germany to collect money for the school. The Civil Lines Rotary Club has built a hall for the orphans of Maqboolpura.

Ms Kiran Bedi will release a book, “Living With Drugs — a Locality of Widows”, tomorrow. The book carries a number of articles published in The Tribune followed by regional and national dailies and news magazines on the pathetic condition of Maqboolpura.

Mr Brij Bedi said the only way to combat the menace of drug addiction was through education.

The Akal Purkh ki Fauj, headed by SGPC member Jaswinder Singh staged a one-act play against the abuse of drugs.


DOT centres for TB patients
Monica Sharma

Chandigarh, March 7
Incredible, but true. Centres for treating over 33,000 patients suffering from tuberculosis in Punjab will be set up in the state by the end of 2003. This is not all. Special boxes, with the names of the patients printed across in bold letters, are being kept in the centres with medicines in them. The idea is to ensure uninterrupted supply of essential drugs.

The step is significant as Directly Observed Treatment (DOT) centres are currently functioning in nine districts, including Amritsar, Patiala, Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ludhiana, Sangrur and Bathinda.

“By the end of the current year, treatment will be provided in other districts also, including Mansa, Moga, Muktsar, Kapurthala, Jalandhar, Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Faridkot. The project was initially launched in Patiala district in April 2001,” says state TB Control Officer Gurmel Singh Chahal. “Government hospitals, dispensaries, medical colleges, even some of the private clinics will also have DOT centres.”

The doctor adds, “In Haryana, Sonepat, Faridabad and Gurgaon have DOT centres at present. Soon the services will be launched in Karnal and Kaithal also. Besides setting up the centres, the entire health care system in different hospitals all over the region is being given a boost. Senior health department officials and the workers are being motivated to work towards achieving the goals with a new zeal. They are required to attend a two-week training for better functioning of the DOT centres.”

Going into the background of the tuberculosis control programme, the Chief Medical Officer from Central Tuberculosis Division, Dr P.P. Mandal, asserts, “It was launched in the country in 1962. In 1993, pilot projects under Revised National Tuberculosis Control Programme were started. The Revised National Tuberculosis Control Project, started in 1997, covers more than 570 million population across the country. The World Bank provides US $ 142 million to the Government of India for the entire country. The UK’s Department for International Development and the Danish International Development agency, also contribute.”

Giving details of the project, Senior Public Health Specialist with the World Bank, Dr Suneeta Singh, says, “The objective is to reduce transmission of tuberculosis and to provide good quality treatment. That’s why we look for patients with infectious tuberculosis through sputum microscopy. Special focus is on patients suffering from pulmonary tuberculosis as they can transmit the disease to others by excreting tuberclebacilli in the sputum.”

Regarding the cure, another member, Dr Klaus Jochem, says: “Under the revised programme, around 85 per cent of the patients walk out of the clinics, cured as against 30 per cent under the earlier programme. Even the time required for treatment has decreased to six months, from 18 months initially. Now during the first two months, the patient has to visit a DOT centre every alternate day. Afterwards, the first dose of the week is administered at the centre under observation. The remaining dosage is handed over to the patient for taking it at home on alternate days.”

Agreeing with her, member Dr Supriya Mukherjee concludes: “Tuberculosis is the same, but the degree of stigma attached to the disease has changed. The disease was prevalent earlier also even among the elite class but people used to hide the fact. Now, gradually they have started coming to terms with the disease. That’s why we are receiving co-operation from the public also.”


Need to ensure correct history: Rattan
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 6
Exhorting the scholars to ensure that people were exposed to correct and unbiased history, Principal Secretary (Higher Education), Punjab, Mr N.S. Rattan, said today history scholars should take upon themselves the responsibility to ascertain that history was not “re-written” as per individual desires and motives.

Speaking at the inaugural function of the 35th session of the Punjab History Conference organised at Punjabi University today, Mr Rattan touched upon the latest controversy regarding ‘saffronisation’ of history. He stressed that it must be ensured that the future generations were acquainted with the correct history. Expressing concern over documenting and recording of oral history, Mr Rattan urged the scholars to interact with the living people of the age, they were working on.

In his presidential address, Prof Kirpal Singh emphasised the significance of regional history in a multi-lingual and multi-cultured country like India and stated that it was imperative to study the historical validity of traditions and legends as sources of information. The Head of the Department of Punjab Historical Studies, Dr Sukhdial Singh, stated that contemporary sources in Persian, Gurmukhi and English need to be historically analysed. Others who spoke on the occasion included the Pro-Vice Chancellor of Punjabi University, Prof R.N. Pal.



Mukul Joshi’s leave extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 7
The Punjab Government today refused to accept charge report of Mr Mukul Joshi and extended his earned leave till further orders as Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner, Revenue, has been given time till Monday to submit his report about the Panchkula episode.

Mr Joshi had submitted his charge report by joining back as Principal Secretary, NRI and Industrial Liaison and Principal Secretary, Industries and Commerce, at the end of his extended earned leave today.

Mr Joshi was asked to proceed on earned leave till submission of report by the Financial Commissioner Revenue, Mr Bhagat Singh, about the January 20 Panchkula episode.

Initially Mr Bhagat Singh was given two weeks to submit his report to the Chief Minister. The time period was subsequently extended till March 7.

The Punjab Government conveyed to Mr Joshi that his “charge report has not been accepted and his earned leave has been further extended.” He has been told to report to the Department of Personnel when advised to join.

In an endorsement, the Department of Personnel said the earned leave granted to Mr Joshi was extended under Rule 11 of the All India Services (Leave) Rules, 1955, till March 7, 2003, with permission to suffix public holidays falling on March 8 and March 9. He is further granted extension in earned leave under Rule 11 till further orders.


2,000 Animal Husbandry Dept posts to be filled
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 7
“The government is in the process of filling more than 2, 000 posts of various categories in the department on contract basis and the case has been sent to the Cabinet for approval. Besides this, an elaborate plan - with special emphasis on the role of livestock in diversification of agriculture - will be implemented and the revamp of the functioning of rural veterinary dispensaries too was on the cards,” says Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister, Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Fisheries Department.

He was addressing participants at the annual state-level function of the department at Punjab Agricultural University here today. Those present on the occasion, included Mr Kirpal Singh Aulakh, PAU, VC, Mr D.S. Jaspal, Financial Commissioner and Secretary, besides senior officers of the department.

Elaborating on the state of affairs of the department he said we are facing an acute shortage of officers at all levels. The department had been totally ignored during the Akali regime and it had taken them a year to streamline its functioning. The new policies will emphasise the role of livestock in the diversification of agriculture and help the farmers to opt for a viable option to the wheat -rice monoculture, he pointed out.

Mr Kang said the major initiatives taken by the department in this context, include establishment of the Punjab Herd Registration Authority which had been approved by the Cabinet. For the first time in the country, a legislative framework would be prepared for animal recording on modern and scientific basis.

He claimed that a comprehensive policy document on animal breeding in Punjab had been got prepared for the first time which would provide much needed direction and impetus to the livestock and dairy sector in the state. He said it was also for the first time that vaccination had been taken up on a campaign basis which had yielded spectacular results.

Mr Kang, said in order to provide all services relating to animal care at a single place, ‘Adarsh Gram Schemes’ have been launched in 140 villages of the state where special awareness and identification camps had been organised during this year. More than 140 villages would be adjusted under this scheme in the next financial year.

He said the department of fisheries had introduced Prawn Farming for the first time in the history of state with the objective of providing new options in fish farming and to make Aqua Culture popular in the state for better income to the farmer. The minister informed that the government was seriously considering to start race course at Ludhiana or Patiala. It would be a boon for the marginal farmers to start horse breeding in the state.

Dr Aulakh cautioned the farmers against wasteful exercise of keeping poor quality milk cattle which could never give good returns and assured the full support of the PAU to improve the breed of milk animals and to check the common disease among the animals.

A scientific session was also held, which was attended by the officers of these departments from all over the state. The minister honoured 100 doctors and other staff on the occasion. NRI veterinary doctor Jagjit Singh from the UK and Mr M.S. Grewal, a progressive dairy farmer, were honoured by the minister for their excellent services.


Rain, hailstorm damage crops
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 7
Wheat, sarson, gram and maize crop has been damaged by rains and hailstorm hit Khanuwan and surrounding areas in the Beas Bet area recently.

According to Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, former Revenue Minister the damage was mainly due to silt deposit in the drains resulting in the overflow of rain water. Water in the villages stagnated for days and the crops were submerged in the area.

Damage to crops was reported from the village of Khanuwan and surrounding areas, including Sallopur, Chack Sharif, Mere, Nanowal, Nanowal Khurd, Kaler, Jinder, Gorsian, Fero Chechi, and Khojkipur.

Hailstorm hit lands of Namekot, Waraich, Nimane, Koont, and Todermal villages and crops in the area were damaged completely.

Reports said sarson, gram and maize crops in the area were also damaged. Water standing in wheat fields has been drained off and the wheat has been used as fodder for cattle. Mr Seklhwan demanded that loss to crops be assessed and compensation of Rs 10,000 per acre to farmers.

Reports said that sugarcane crop was also damaged in the area and it was likely that the farmers who had agreed to supply sugarcane to sugar mills of Batala and Panjar would not be able to supply the agreed sugarcane. These farmers demanded that penality should not be imposed on them failing to supply bonded sugarcane to the mills because the crop had been hit by a calamity.

Mr KAP Sinha, Deputy Commissioner said loss to crops had been reported in the area surrounding Gurdaspur also. He said that SDMs had been directed to assess the loss so that compensation could be paid to the farmers according to government directions.


Cloth merchants stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 7
A few cloth merchants of the city today staged dharna in front of the police station here to protest against alleged police inaction in a cheating case in where some traders which duped a year ago.

The traders, led by the president of the Wholesale Cloth Merchant Association, Mr Ved Parkash, alleged these a year ago Labh Singh and Surinder Singh had taken clothe worth Rs 21 lakh in 17 days from various dealers of the market. They alleged that two persons, used to sell cloth in various villages of the district but did not pay the money they owed to the market.

Mr Parkash alleged that the traders were yet to get their money or goods back. He alleged that political pressure on the police had been stalling action against the duo. He said that the accused, in police custody, had named three retail cloth merchants of the city of the Mehna chowk, behind new bus stand, and one in the Sirki Bazaar area of the city, but the police did not take any action. He said that one of the persons named by the the (alleged cheats) was arrested and released by the police recently.

SP (city) Nilabh Kishore, said that the police was doing its job and an FIR (number 45, March 5, 2003) had been registered in this connection. He added that no one involved in the case would be spared.

Mrs Nisha Singla, wife of Mr Krishan Kumar Singla a cloth merchant in the Sirki Bazaar area here, in her complaint sent to various authorities, including the district police chief, alleged that the police kept her husband in illegal custody. She alleged that her husband was called by the Kotwali police station yesterday and detained till late last night creating fear in her family. She pleaded that her husband was innocent.


Ambulance for Ropar highway
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 7
The local police has launched various programmes to help public. Giving this information at a press conference here yesterday the SSP, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said an ambulance fitted with high-frequency wireless set and required medical facilities had been stationed at the first-aid post established on the National Highway No. 21 near Gurdwara Solkian. The ambulance would give timely aid to accident victims and carry them to the nearest hospitals.

Besides the Airtel, mobile telepone company, had provided a number 9815300090, to the police control room, Ropar, with free incoming and outgoing calls. In case of any road accident in any part of the district, the public could inform the control room on the mobile number and the nearest mobile police party or the police station would be informed to reach the place of occurrence with medical help, he said.

He said it had been observed that poor persons coming to police officers to submit their complaints had to spend money for getting their complaints typed or drafted. To solve this problem, a police employee had been deployed at the Ropar headquarters, who would draft the complaints for the poor, he added.


Emphasis laid on community policing
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 7
The Additional Director-General (Law and Order), Punjab Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, has stressed upon the need for community policing to bring about a positive interface with the public.

Addressing police officers in the local lines today, Mr Siddiqui said community policing resource centre would be set up in six districts in the state. The centres would also be opened in the remaining districts soon. He said in democratic society, the expectations of the people were high and in tune with it, the policy had also to be moulded accordingly to serve people in a better way. He directed the officers to start behavioural courses in the police lines for the policemen so that their attitude towards society also got improved.

He gave away certificates to 36 police officials who had recently completed course in computer applications in the police functioning from the computer education centre set up in police lines.

The Jalandhar zonal IG, Mr S.K. Sharma, disclosed that community policing should cater to areas like verifications, licences, women and child helpline, economic offences wing, NRI cell, counselling of drug users and information centre for the district.


Revenue officer demanded bribe, alleges trader
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 7
Mr Jagdish Gupta, a Congress party member whose shop was sealed by the Revenue authorities yesterday reportedly for not repaying Punjab Khadi Board loan today alleged that the action against him was taken for not giving the bribe demanded by one of the officers of the Department for settling the case.

Mr Gupta alleged officer had promised that recovery proceedings against him (Mr Gupta) would be delayed if he bribed him. He claimed that there were several persons in the city who also did not repay the loan of the Khadi Board, but no action was taken against them.

The shop of Mr Gupta was sealed late last evening as he had failed to repay Rs 25 lakh loan taken from Khadi Board. He had taken the loan to set up a factory.

Mr Gupta has written to Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh urging him to take action against the guilty officer.

He claimed that he had been an office-bearer of the district unit of the party for a long time. He alleged that the authorities did not send him a notice for the action to be taken against him.

Mr Gupta has also complained to the police demanding action against the officer for damaging goods in his shop.

No officer of the department concerned could be contacted despite efforts.


7 declared POs
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 7
The Special Investigation team has got declared seven persons, including three doctors, involved in the illegal kidney trade proclaimed offenders. These persons have been absconding since their names had figured in the scam. They are Dr P.K. Jain, Dr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, Dr Bhushan Aggarwal (all doctors), Mr Hardyal Mehta, manager, Kakkar Hospital, Mr Kulwinder Singh, computer operator, working for Dr P.K. Sareen — the prime accused, two middlemen — Rajan and Chandan. Their passports have already been seized to prevent their fleeing the country.


MBBS student dies

Faridkot, March 7
Jotbir Singh of Sunam, a final year MBBS student of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and hospital, here died of injuries received in an accident last night, the police said today.

Students, angry over the alleged negligence of doctors in providing treatment to the wounded, today went on strike after submitting a memorandum to Additional Deputy Commissioner Harkesh Singh Sidhu, demanding action against the doctors.

Students alleged that scooter borne Jotbir was hurt in a collision with another vehicle and was removed to the emergency within minutes of the mishap at 7.45 p.m. They said junior doctor on duty turned up at 8.30 p.m. while scanning and ECG of the wounded student was done at 10.30 p.m. Jotbir, they added, died at 11 p.m. allegedly for want of timely and adequate medical attention. UNI


Engine derails
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 7
Rail traffic on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana section was disrupted following the derailment of a rail engine near Jalandhar (Cant) railway station this morning.

Railway sources told this correspondent here today that a railway crane brought from Ludhiana lifted the derailed railway engine following which the rail traffic was resumed.

Meanwhile, the Amritsar-bound Howrah-Amritsar Mail and Darbhanga-Amritsar Shaheed Express were delayed by 11 and 12 hours, respectively.


5 kg cylinders launched
Our Correspondent

Nabha, March 7
Kaka Randeep Singh, MLA, launched 5 kg LPG cylinders at the Indian Oil bottling plant here. He said the cylinders were meant for the weaker sections of society as the cost of cylinder refill was Rs 90 per cylinder and a rebate of Rs 4 per cylinder would be given on cash and carry basis.

Speaking on the occasion, senior Plant Manager S. Gurmeet Singh said Indian Oil was committed to providing better services to its customers. He said the weight of the filled cylinder was 13 kg so it could be casily carried from one place to another. Also it was safe to handle as it had gone through stringent safety and quality tests as against the locally filled cylinder.


DSGMC conclave today

Amritsar, March 7
The Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has convened a ‘Sikh conclave’ at Bhai Vir Singh Sadan tomorrow in New Delhi to discuss topics, including allowing baptised Sikh women to perform seva inside the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple. TNS


Rakhra Kisan Mela on March 14
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 7
A Kisan Mela will be held at Rakhra, 15 km from here, on March 14, under the aegis of the Punjab Young Farmers Association. The participating members will be given the foundation seeds of the highest-yielding Pussa 44 variety of paddy and the newly developed Pusa Sugandh-2, Pusa Sugandh-3 varieties of basmati. The new varieties of basmati take less time to mature as compared to the other varieties of similar rice. The lodging and disease resistance is high. The rice has all the characteristics of the basmati and a good aroma.

IARI’s senior breeder, Dr F.U. Zaman, will highlight the role of the new varieties in diversification. Dr S. Nagarajan, Director, Indian Agricultural Research Institute, will preside over the function.

The farmers will be taken round the demonstration plots of the high-yielding varieties of wheat suitable under rice-wheat cropping system. Mr B.S.Minhas, Additional Secretary (Agriculture), Government of India, will inaugurate the Kisan Mela. Mr Tejveer Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Patiala, will interact with the farmers on contract farming and other new programmes of the Punjab Government.

Dr R.K.Rampal, Director of Agriculture, will deliver the key-note address.


Seminar on sugarcane cultivation
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, March 7
A seminar on “Recent advances in sugarcane cultivation technology” was organised on the premises of Jagraon Cooperative Sugar Mills Ltd. at Jagraon, around 40 km from here, today. Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib, MP, was the chief guest and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha, MLA, was guest of honour.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr A.N. Singh Chauhan, Managing Director, said the sugar mill required 35 lakh quintal of sugarcane every season for crushing and at present productivity level almost 20,000 acres of land was needed for the crop. “Although, there has been an enormous improvement in cane crushing from 5.35 lakh quintal in 1998-99 to 23.50 lakh quintal in 2001-02 and sugar recovery from 6.98 per cent to 9.06 per cent during the same period, yet further improvement is required for the survival of the mills, which can only be attained by increasing sugarcane productivity per unit area and sugar recovery from the crushed cane.”

Mr Chauhan observed that a few years back, a new technology was developed at the Indian Institute of Sugarcane Research, Lucknow, known as “ring system” of sugarcane planting. “Under this technique, cane is planted in pits, seed rate is increased, only mother shoots are allowed to form cane and optimum utilisation of water and nutrients are ensured resulting in two to three times increase in sugarcane yield per unit area.”, he said. The system could not gain popularity with farmers as it was labour and cost intensive.

However, efforts to bring further improvement had led to development of a mechanical pit digger locally, which had reduced the dependence on labour to a large extent. With this development, it was expected that the system would be adopted by the farmers of the area in the best interest of the sugar industry and cane growers.

Mr Chauhan further said the Punjab Government had entered into one-time settlement with financial institutions and as a result, the sugar mills had been benefitted with a sum of Rs 7,366.13 lakh. The government had converted the RDF loan and its accrued interest amounting to Rs 126 crore into grant-in-aid and had further provided a sum of Rs 261.00 lakh for payment of arrears of cane price of last season 2001-2002.

The cheques for a sum of Rs 261 lakh were distributed among farmers by Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib and Mr Malkiat Singh Dakha. The management also asked the farmers to collect the balance amount from the mill. With disbursement of this amount, the mill has cleared the arrears of cane price for the season 2001-02.

Mr Charanjit SIngh, Deputy CCDO, and Mr Darshan Singh, ACDO, also addressed the function. A large number of farmers attended the seminar. The technique of ring system of sugarcane plantation was also demonstrated.


Extortion case: woman’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 7
Mr Varinder Aggarwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) here, on Wednesday extended the judicial remand of Ms Gurmeet Kaur, alias Happy, in a case of extortion and intimidation till March 17.

Earlier, on February 28, her bail application was dismissed by Mr Jagroop Singh, Sessions Judge. She was arrested on February 17.

The police had registered a case on February 14 under Sections 384, 506 and 120-B of the IPC and provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act against six persons, including three policemen and Happy.

The policemen, Mr Darbara Singh, then SHO of local Sadar police station, Anup Singh, ASI, and Kewal Singh, Head Constable, and Satnam Singh of Dhapali village in Bathinda district, all accused in the case, are still at large.

The anticipatory bail applications of Darbara Singh and Satnam Singh had been dismissed by Mr Jagroop Singh, Sessions Judge, here on February 24 while the anticipatory bail application of Anup Singh and Kewal Singh had been dismissed by Mr Virender Kumar, Additional Sessions Judge, Sangrur, on February 21.

The police confirmed that these four accused were still absconding.


agent, wife booked

Moga, March 7
The Punjab police today booked a Kotkapura-based travel agent, his wife and mother for allegedly cheating two youths of Rs 20 lakh by promising to send them abroad.

According to a complaint lodged with the police, complainants Baltej Singh and Hrjinder Singh, both residents of Koharwala village in Faridkot district, had alleged that they were introduced to Daljit Singh by their commission agent for arranging their visit to Cananda.

It was alleged that the travel agent demanded Rs 12 lakh each from the complainants, but the deal was settled for Rs 10 lakh each.

The complainants alleged that when the accused failed to make the arrangements, they demanded that the money besides their passports, be returned. The accused declined to make the payment. PTI


NRI booked for bigamy, cheating

Jalandhar, March 7
The Punjab police has registered a criminal case against an NRI for cheating an Indian woman by marrying her despite having been already married.

The district police chief, Mr Varinder Kumar told reporters here today that a case had been registered on a statement of Meena Kumari that Amarjit Singh, an NRI settled in Canada, had married her on July 7, 1999, in spite of being already married.

She stated in her complaint that the accused had promised that they would be settled in Canada after marriage. However, after he went to Canada, he never called her back nor came to India. Meanwhile, the complainant came to know that the accused was already married to a girl from Hoshiarpur and had a child also.

A case has been registered against him for bigamy and cheating and efforts were on to nab him, the SSP said. PTI 


5 of family hurt in armed robbery
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 7
A gang of armed robbers, suspected to be members of Kale Kachhewala gang, struck at the house of Yash Paul in Defence Colony Chhatwal early morning today and after injuring all five members of the family looted cash and jewellery.

According to residents of the Defence Colony seven to eight members of the gang, wearing black underwear and armed with weapons, entered the house, located at the souther corner of the colony adjoining Chakki river.

The miscreants, mercilessly beat and wounded Yash Paul, his wife Asha Rani, daughters Pooja, Dhan Devi and son Karan Oberoi and allegedly decamped with Rs 32,000 and gold jewellery weighing 18 totals.

The victims were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Pathankot, from where Asha Rani has been referred to PGI, Chandigarh. The police is investigating the matter.


Furnace oil sale racket busted

Jalandhar, March 7
The Punjab Police today claimed to have busted a racket of illicit sale of furnace oil with the arrest of one person and recovery 900 litres of oil.

The District Police Chief, Mr Varinder Kumar, said here that acting on a tip off yesterday the police raided an illegal factory involved in storing and adulterating furnace oil and seized 900 litres of furnace oil.

While an employee of the factory Rajinder Kumar was arrested from the spot, the proprietor of M/s Simran Chemical Industries Rajinder Singh managed to escape. The arrested person revealed that the factory had been involved in the racket of the sale and adulteration of furnace oil. PTI


Thieves attack house, kill woman

Batala, March 7
A woman was killed and her husband and mother-in-law seriously injured when their house was attacked by a gang of criminals at Bhaini Banger village in Batala district, who decamped with cash and jewellery, the police said today.

About six persons armed with sticks stormed into the house of Lakhbir Singh yesterday and assaulted his wife Darshan Kaur and other family members, the police said, adding that Darshan Kaur died on the spot while Lakhbir Singh and his mother had been admitted to hospital in a serious condition. PTI 


Teachers’ front flays new education policy
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 7
The Democratic Teachers’ Front, Punjab, has criticised the new education policy being implemented by the state government.

Mr Madan Pal Bhagta, district president and Major Basant Kumar, secretary, of the front in a press note issued here today alleged that the new policy would promote the interests of private schools and teaching shops in cities and villages.

They said the proposal to charge user fee from the students like PHSC-run hospitals would thwart the Sarv Shiksha Abhiyaan. The policy would discourage education amongst the poor, they claimed.

The DTF leaders also said the move of the authorities to take disciplinary action against the teachers who had not reported for Superintendents duty in Class VIII was unfortunated. They alleged that due to the lack of facilities and discrimination against a section of teachers while allotting examination duties, the teachers do not favour examination duties. They demanded that facilities for teachers, who were designated examination duties, should be increased and the process should be made completely transparent.


3 caught cheating in Class X exam
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 7
Three cases of copying were detected by a flying squad in Punjabi (A) paper of Class X from two different examination centres during surprise checks in the district.

Departmental sources said five flying squads had been formed by the authorities concerned to check the use of unfair means and had been asked to take action against the guilty. Mr Chander Hans Puri, District Education Officer (secondary), is the overall in charge of the operations. The sources said an equal number of flying squads had been set up by the Punjab School Education Board, which had been working independently.

Sources said even as the students were not expected to cheat in Punjabi paper as it was their mother tongue but the flying squad officers were surprised to find three cases of copying. According to sources while one copying case was detected from a private school at Bhuchu Mandi, two were detected from Phoola village.

Mr Gurdev Singh, Principal of Government Secondary School, Goniana Mandi, who was the in charge of the flying squad, confirmed that three cases were detected by his team. He said their squad had visited examination centres at Lehra Mohabbat, Ballian Walli, Bhuchu Mandi and Phoola in the morning session. He added that one student was caught copying at the government school, Phoola and two students were caught copying at a centre in a private school at Bhuchu Mandi.

Mr Gurdev Singh said the superintendents in these centres had been asked to relieve the supervisors on duty with immediate effect. He added that no case of mass copying, external interference in the examination centres and helping by teachers in copying had been found and the reports in this connection had been forwarded to authorities concerned.


Computer paper ‘not in syllabus’
Our Correspondent

Sahnewal, March 7
The computer exam of Class X held on Wednesday by Punjab School Education Board was not in accordance with the book prescribed by the board, according to the Principal of Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School, Doraha.

The Principal said, “A few questions were out of syllabus and the rest were not from the book. Questions regarding STR and MID$ function were not in the syllabus. The question paper was also not according to the pattern set by the board.”

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