Monday, March 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ultras were planning big strike in New Delhi
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 9
While disclosing the identities of the two terrorists involved in an encounter with the police yesterday and their links with Pakistan’s ISI, the Ludhiana police today said the consignment of arms recovered from terrorists near Sahnewal yesterday was to be used in a major terrorist operation, likely to be carried out in New Delhi.

Police investigation suggests that the activities of the group, operating under the protection of the Pakistan’s Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), were being orchestrated from Central Tihar Jail, New Delhi, where three accomplices of the terrorists are lodged. The police is seeking production warrants of these three persons.

A team from the Delhi police is to arrive here shortly to take part in the investigation. Certain diaries revealing names of Pakistan nationals and arms smugglers have been recovered from a house. The arms were being supplied by Jammu and Kashmir militants.

Addressing a press conference here this evening, SSP Harpreet Singh Sidhu said the dead terrorist had been identified as Sandeep Johar alias Deepak alias Deepak Singh, alias Bhuri, a resident of Vikas Puri , Delhi. He was involved in 24 criminal cases.

The nabbed militant was Surjit Singh, a resident of Kaka Kandiala, who was living in a rented house in Shimla Puri area here. The police is on the lookout for a woman, Jayanti, said to be the wife of Sandeep Johar.

The Jalandhar police, claiming to be the first to catch the terrorists, got some consolation today when the Chief Minister announced promotion of one Head Constable Shamsher Singh of the Jalandhar police. The cop is under treatment at the CMC Hospital here.

This was stated in a press note issued to mediapersons during the press conference. It said that Shamsher Singh and was injured in cross-fire. Interestingly, the note claimed that the second terrorist, Surjit Singh, had absconded and was arrested late last night. The place of arrest was not specified.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has already announced promotions of ASI Kuldip Singh and C-II Amarjit Singh of the Ludhiana police for their brave role in yesterday’s operation. The latter was a gunman of the local SSP.

The SSP said Sandeep Johar was a hardened criminal wanted by the Delhi and Haryana police. The criminal record procured from Delhi showed that he was involved in 24 cases of extortion, terrorism ,kidnapping for ransom and killing. He was imprisoned in Tihar Jail, Delhi, under the National Security Act (NSA) from September 2001 to October 31, 2002.

His latest crime was an attempt to murder Inspector K. Supram SHO, Keshav Puran, New Delhi, on January 4, 2003. He had links with Pakistan smugglers operating under the ISI, who sent him weapons for anti-national activities.

Telephone numbers of Pakistani smugglers were found in his diary.

Other accomplices of Sandeep suspected to be involved in trans-border smuggling of weapons and narcotics had been identified as Tehal Singh, a resident of Shahidan village in Patti police district, Tarn Taran, Gurnam Singh, a resident of Kaka Kandiala village in Tarn Taran and Paramjit Singh, alias Pamma, a resident of Hawalian village in Amritsar.

All were in Tihar Jail under the NDPS Act.

Jayanti, wife of Sandeep, is wanted by the Dehli police for involvement in criminal cases. She had been living with Sandeep at 47 , New Punjab Mata Nagar, Model Town here, for the past two months.

A case under sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act has been registered in the Model Town police station against Jayanti.


Govt anti-farmer: Deve Gowda
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 9
Dubbing the recent Budget proposals as pro-rich and anti-farmer, former Prime Minister H.D. Deve Gowda today gave a call to all secular forces to unite on a single platform for waging a battle to oust communal and capitalist forces ruling the nation.

He was addressing a massive rally during the concluding session of the 30th All-India Kisan Conference at Guru Gobind Singh Stadium here.

Lashing out against the BJP-led Central government for pursuing anti-farmer policies, he said the Budget proposals were aimed at appeasing multi-national companies while the farming sector would have to pay the price, as a substantial cut in subsidies was proposed in the Budget.

“The policies of liberalisation and privatisatiion being pursued by the government had virtually ruined the farming and labour sector in the country. The unemployment had risen manifold even as the government was busy selling even profit-making public sector undertakings (PSU) under the diktats of the World Bank and IMF, which is highly deplorable,” he said.

The former Prime Minister also criticised the Capt Amarinder Singh government for its decision to withdraw free power facility from the agriculture sector in Punjab. “We are opposing the BJP and the Congress for their wrong policies even as in some cases Congress’s cooperation was sought to oust the BJP,” he said.

Showing concern over the recent spurt in activities of Pakistan’s intelligence agency ISI for its attempts to destabilise the country. Chief Minister of West Bengal Buddhadev Bhattacharya charged Hindu fundamentalist organisations for creating communal wedge among different communities to suit their vested interests.

“It is shameful on the part of the BJP to portray Gujarat Chief Minister Narinedra Modi as a national hero,” he said, adding that the Congress was equally responsible for the demolition of Babri Mazjid, as the then Prime Minister, Mr P.V. Narsimha Rao, did not take timely action in this regard despite repeated requests from the then West Bengal Chief Minister Jyoti Basu. Continuing his attack on the Congress, the Chief Minister alleged that the killing of thousands of Sikhs in different parts of the country following the assassination of Indira Gandhi was another example how the Congress used people’s emotions for political gains.

Blaming the NDA government for pursuing anti-farmer policies, the communist leader said it was strange that nothing was mentioned about the burning problem of land reforms in the Tenth Five Year Plan.

The general secretary of the CPM, Mr Harkishan Singh Surjeet, also spoke on the occasion.


No objection if big farmers are taxed: Kisan Sabha
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 9
Asserting that the withdrawal of quantitative restrictions in imports has opened floodgates for MNCs to capture the Indian market, Mr K. Vardarajan, general secretary of the All-India Kisan Sabha, said on Friday that his organisation had no objection in case big farmers were taxed as proposed by the Central Government.

Addressing a press conference, Mr Vardarajan, who was here to address the 30th National Conference of the sabha, said the withdrawal of quantitative restrictions on imports had damaged the local industry as the MNCs had captured the market by pushing in not only industrial products but also agricultural and dairy products. “This has led to a sharp decline in the prices of our products,” said Mr Vardarajan.

He said the Union Government was abdicating its responsibility towards people by withdrawing from the market and reducing purchasing centres with each passing day. The PDS was being dismantled and subsidies in agriculture were being withdrawn. “An indication of government’s intention can be drawn from the fact that government investment in irrigation, power and fertiliser is being reduced and a consequence of which in a sharp hike in the cost of production,” said Mr Vardarajan.

He alleged that the “attacks” through the recent Budget had added “salt” to the wounds of peasantry, particularly, in case of sharp hike in diesel and petrol prices. He alleged that the land reform laws were being reversed to pave the way for MNCs and corporates to enable them take their land on lease or through purchase. Even tribal people were being evicted from their traditional homesteads in forests and social atrocities on them were on a rise.

He said his organisation was not averse to imposition of taxes on big and rich farmers, but was against any such move against small farmers.


Water scarcity stares state in face
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News service

CHANDIGARH: The emerging water crisis pose a grave threat to Punjab. The available good quality water is estimated at 25.34 MAF—million acre feet, whereas, the normal requirement is 39.75 MAF. Thus the net deficit is 14.41 MAF. This is a substantial deficit which if left uncorrected will adversely affect agriculture.

The fast-changing cropping patterns have precipitated the water crisis since ushering in of the “Green Revolution’’ in the mid-60s. Consequently, the water table in the ‘’sweet region’’ has depleted at an alarming annual rate of 0.2 meters between 1979 and 1991. What is equally worrying is that at the end of continuous ‘’mining’’ of good quality water from the upper ground strata Punjab may end up with ‘’unfit irrigation’’ water.

This warning signal comes from a study by Dr Joginder Singh, Head, Department of Economics and Sociology, PAU, Ludhiana.

The data collected by Dr Joginder Singh shows that the situation is pretty grim in the central or sweet water region of the state and also in the sub-mountaneous or the kandi zone, whereas in the south-western zone the rising water table has posed a different set of problems like salinity and water-logging.

The trend analysis of data collected by hydrologists reveals that the water table which was 14 meters in 1981-2001 has not changed much in these two decades. The water table, however, is going down by 1 cm per year in Gurdaspur, 8 cm per year in Ropar and is up by 2 cm to 6 cm per year in Hoshiarpur.

The central or sweet zone, which s highly productive with a well-knit irrigation system, mainly dependent upon tubewells, presents a serious challenge because of extensive and intensive rice cultivation. In this zone, says Dr Joginder Singh, the water table is falling at an average rate of 0.23 meters per year, during the past 15 years. The water table was at 5 meters to 6 meters in 1981. It now showed a fall of 24 cm to 25 cm per annum. The annual fall in the water table for some districts is as follows: Amritsar, Kapurthala and Sangrur (Lehra Gaga) — 17 cm; Jalandhar— 22 cm; Patiala — 33 cm; Ludhiana — 12 cm; Faridkot — 13 cm; and Sangrur (Barnala) — 42 cm.

In his study, Dr Joginder Singh has squarely held paddy as villain of the piece and goes on to suggest measures to encourage and persuade farmers to adopt recommended agricultural practices for paddy sowing in terms of variety, time of raising and transplanting nursery. He has attributed “free’’ power also as one of the major factors that led to water waste.

In the south-western zone, which comprises almost one-fourth of the state’s cultivated area, the under ground water is brackish and unfit for crops and humans. And over a period of time the cotton belt has been invaded by paddy due to a decrease in canal water availability and increase in tubewell water. The water table in the zone which was 11 meters to 12 meters deep in 1981 is rising continuously at the rate of 9 cm per year in Mansa, 21 cm in Bathinda and 17 cm in Ferozepore. This has motivated farmers to give up ‘white gold’ and sow paddy.

A snapshot survey of 193 farms in Punjab presents a frightening scenario in terms of cost and energy requirements for future. At least 15.70 per cent tubewells were deepened after an average period of 11.9 years of installation between 1986 and 1995. The additional cost incurred for deepening one tubewell came to Rs 4,044. Again, between 1996 and 2000 another 21.5 per cent tubewells were deepened at an additional cost of Rs 6,521, per tubewell. Surprisingly, in 2001 alone 13.31 per cent tubewells had to be redone at an average cost of Rs 7,612 per tubewell. Even the horsepower use for irrigation is up in respect of sample farms. On an average, it rose from 5.03 to 5.62, resulting in 11.7 per cent over the past 10 years.

Will Punjab bring forward some legislation to pull the state away from the impending water crisis?


Police sits on commission’s order
Our Correspondent

Gurusar (Muktsar), March 9
It seems that the orders of the Chandigarh chapter of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have had no effect on the district police as reports regarding action taken against a section of police officials and a detailed inquiry report in connection with the murder of Gurmit Singh of this village asked by the commission have not been sent to it even after a lapse of two months.

According to a copy of the orders, Mr Tanzin Wangyal, commission’s Director, has written to the Muktsar police chief to file the report within 10 days. The SSP has been warned that if the report was not received in time, the matter would be taken up at the highest level and summons for the SSP’s personal appearance would be issued. He regretted that despite orders by the commission and a reminder on January 30, the police authorities had not conducted the probe.

Ms Gurdip Kaur, the sister of the victim, had alleged in her complaint that Suman, wife of the victim, and Mr Kuldip Singh, both resident of Mansa, in connivance with police personnel had murdered her brother. She alleged that she and her family members were being harassed by the police.

Acting on the complaint, the commission in December had ordered that an inquiry should be conducted by an SP-rank officer and the report should be sent within 15 days. Mr Tanzin had also directed the Muktsar SSP to mention in his report the details about those found guilty in the inquiry and action against those involved, including police personnel, if any, under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act along with other sections of the IPC.

It was reported that the victim had faced repeated harassment at the hands of the police and was recovered from the illegal custody by warrant officers from the Bariwala police station and moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Justice H.S. Bedi had imposed a fine of Rs 25,000 on the police officials and handed over the inquiry to the CBI.

The CBI after investigations had filed a charge sheet under Sections 342, 346, 365, 211 and 120-B of the IPC against Sub-Inspector Gurmail Singh, Teja Singh, Naib Singh, Ranjit Singh, all ASIs and Karamjit Singh and Pritam Singh, both head constables. Even the criminal proceedings initiated by the CBI failed to prevent the harassment of the family of the victim. The police had even registered criminal cases under the Arms Act against relatives of the victim.

The victim then petitioned the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) and it had ordered the withdrawal of the cases against the victim and registration of a case against Inspector Mohinder Singh and ASI Amar Singh. The PHRC had also ordered the state government to pay an interim relief of Rs 10,000 to the victim and one of his relatives.


Include women among ‘panj piare’: experts
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
The demand to allow baptised Sikh women to perform seva in the Golden Temple today took a fresh turn when Sikh intellectuals urged Sikh high priests to include baptised women among ‘panj piare’.

The intellectuals who participated in seminars jointly organised by Voices for Freedom, Sikh Nari Manch and Sukhmani Society on “Gender equality in Sikhism” today said Giani Joginder Singh Yedanti, Akal Takht head, had himself stated that Sikh women could be among the ‘panj piare’ as per the Sikh ‘rehat maryada’.

Article 22 (chapter 13) of the Sikh rehat maryada clearly mentioned that “at the time of baptism, six baptised Sikhs, one of them should sit in attendance of Guru Granth Sahib, and the other five should be there to administer ‘amrit’. These six may include Sikh women”.

The Sikh rehat maryada further read: “Any man or woman of any country, religion or caste who embraces Sikhism and solemnly undertakes to abide by its principles is entitled to ambrosial baptism”.

Baba Ishar Singh, one of the organisers of the seminar, played the recorded interview of Jathedar Vedanti with Punjab Radio to England, during which he announced there was no gender discrimination in Sikhism and, hence, baptised Sikh women could perform seva in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple.

Jathedar Vedanti also said in the interview that the SGPC alone had no right to change Sikh ‘maryada’ finalised after marathon meetings by representatives of Panthic organisations.

Mr Gurtej Singh, a former IAS officer, Dr Gursharnjit Singh of Guru Nanak Dev University and Dr Ranjit Singh Buttar. Endorsed the view that baptised Sikh women should be included among ‘panj piare’.

Resolutions passed on the occasion urged the Akal Takht Jathedar to ensure equal rights to Sikh women, in particular the right to undertake seva at Harmandir Sahib and all other gurdwaras in accordance with the teachings of Sikh Gurus.

Mr Gurtej Singh flayed the Sikh clergy and alleged there was no provision for high priests in Sikhism. He alleged the clergy had been taking ‘arbitrary’ decisions. He called upon Sikh organisations to come forward to bring the desired reforms in Sikh shrines.

Babi Harjinder Kaur, president, Sikh Nari Manch, said Sikhism did not preach gender discrimination.


Pillai re-elected AIKC chief

Jalandhar, March 9
S. Ramachandran Pillai and K. Varadha Rajan were unanimously re-elected as president and general secretary of the All-India Kisan Council (AIKC) and Harkishan Singh Surjeet was elected as vice-president of the AIKC, on the concluding day of 30th All-India Kisan Sabha Conference held here from march 6 to 9.

Other office-bearers of the AIKC are Benoy Konar, Paloli MD, Butty, R.N. Goswamo, S. Malla Reddy ( all vice-presidents), N.K. Shukla, Suryakant Misra, Mehboob Azhedi, Bajuban Reang, Ashok Dhawale and Lehmbar Singh Taggar (all joint secretaries), 52 members of the Central Kisan Committee and 135 members of All India Kisan Council.

The AIKC today issued a resolution and expressed concern over the increasing activities of communal forces allegedly backed and encouraged by the BJP.

The resolution said the carnage and barbarian acts committed in Gujarat last year, was the glaring example of communal forces’ nefarious designs. The communal forces were bent upon to whip up the communal tension throughout the country with an eye on ensuring Parliamentary and some Assembly elections.

The conference pledged to fight the communal and all the divisive forces tooth and nail and called upon the people of the country in general and peasantry in particular to defeat the nefarious and disruptive games of common forces. PTI


Unity not discussed with Tohra: Badal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 9
Hinting at the possibility of unity among different Akali factions, SAD chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today sought to clarify that the issue was not discussed with President of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) Gurcharan Singh Tohra during a meeting at a religious function in New Delhi recently.

Mr Badal, who was in city, said though unity among different Akali factions was in the interest of the “panth” nothing was discussed in this regard with Mr Tohra at Delhi.

“Attending a religious function at Mr Tohra’s residence is a personal affair and there is nothing political about it,” He said, refusing further comment.


Anti-quota rally on Baisakhi
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 9
“No political party will discontinue the present caste-based and discriminatory reservation policy and even after ruling the country for about five years, the party whose main poll plank was putting an end to the present setup had also backtracked from its promises — just to pocket votes of the so-called Dalits. It is, therefore, necessary to unite and fight for the cause under our own banner,” fumed a member of the General Categories Welfare (GCW) Federation, Punjab, at a meeting here.

Mr Harbans Singh Sidhu, district president of the GCW Federation, said to press for their demand of putting an end to caste-based reservation and building public support, it had been decided that a state-level rally be staged at Talwandi Sabo on Baisakhi. It would be a show of strength and workers from all over the state were expected to join in.

Mr Tara Singh Brar, press secretary of the federation, said the present state of affairs was largely due to the “bias” against people belonging to the general categories. “When a system does not honour merit and caste and not competence hold the key for promotions, a section of government employees cannot be expected to work whole-heartedly,” he said.

Mr Brar said benefits of caste-based reservation had not reached the sections meant for and only 1 pre cent people of these castes had been benefited.

The federation said caste-based reservation should be discontinued and merit alone be made the criterion for admissions to educational/professional colleges.


Disclose names of cops behind scam: Dang
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 9
Mr Satya Pal Dang, a senior CPI leader, today asked special investigation team (SIT) to make the names of senior police officials public whose names figured in the kidney scam during investigations.

In a press release issued here today, Mr Dang said there was no reason as to why the public should not be told their names.

Mr Dang said it was good that the ADGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, had at last held a regular press conference here to take the public into confidence. However, some doubts had arisen which ought to be clarified. The statement reads: “Involvement of the previous IG (Border Range) has been virtually admitted. Though the IG was transferred, but in the meantime how can allowing him to function as IG (Crime Branch), Chandigarh, is justified?” Mr Dang also ridiculed for giving ‘clean chit’ to the SSP in the kidney scam.

Mr Dang also expressed surprise for giving clean chit to magistrates in the kidney trade. He said reasons given for giving clean chit to the magistrates, who had blatantly attested false affidavits on the pertext that some advocates had given personal guarantee, was not at all convincing. Mr Dang urged SIT to submit the detailed report about this to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The CPI leader also expressed surprise that the names of two doctors, which figured during preliminary investigations, were not being discussed now. He asked as to why the name of Jalandhar hospital, where kidney transplantations were done, had been spared by the investigation team.


Fund for temple triggers tension
Rashmi Talwar

Ram Tirath (Amritsar), March 9
Anticipating trouble following the proposed beautification plan of the ancient Ram Tirath Temple, the police was stationed in strength to thwart any untoward incident at the temple here today.

Mounted and riot police, besides cops in mufti, swarmed the temple premises while SHO (Rajasansi) Balbir monitored security at the site.

The grant of Rs 1 crore by Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on February 27 for the temple’s beautification has reportedly led to various heads staking claim to the booty.

The proposed beautification plan may snowball into a major controversy following divergent views expressed by various political persons and heads over the use of this fund.

A function organised by the Dhoona Sahib Trust headed by Mr Om Parkash Gabbar, Senior Deputy Mayor, Amritsar, by Valmiki sabhas today near the inner sanctorum of temple today was monitored by security personnel.

Discontentment has been simmering for the past few days after Valmikis claimed possession of the Ram Tirath complex. Mr Gabbar presided over today’s function, which was attended by Mr Sardool Singh, Minister for Excise and Taxation, and Mayor Sunil Datti.

Mr Gabbar said the fund would be made available to the Deputy Commissioner and utilised by the “Valmiki committee” for development.

However, Mr Desh Raj Safar executive member of the All-India Adi Dharma Samaj, and Mr Ashok Datija, president of the Punjab Adi Dharma, claimed that they (Valmiki Sabhas collectively) would take possession of the temple complex from “Hindu mahant”. They refused to divulge the date for such a mission.

Discontent against the Valmiki function brewed in the camp of Mahant Baldev Giri, head, Ram Tirath Prabhandak Committee. He accused the Valmiki heads, especially Senior Deputy Mayor Gabbar and Mr Rattan Ravan, head of the Adi Dharm Samaj, of issuing threats to eliminate him after the fund was allotted for the beautification of the temple.

A 10-member foreign ‘Valmiki’ delegation with representatives from the UK, the USA, Germany and Canada headed by Fakir Chand Sahota participated in the function today.


‘Haldea panel not expert group’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association has claimed that contrary to the state government’s claim, the Haldea Committee formed to suggest power reforms is not an “expert” group as only one out of its 10 members was a power engineer.

In a statement here, yesterday the association claimed that the rest of the members were either bureaucrats or from private sector finance companies with one member also being a representative of the World Bank. In this light the government’s claim that the committee was an “expert” group was incorrect.

Engineers claimed that the committee had also made wrong assertions while presenting its report to the state government. They said it was incorrect to say that the losses of the PSEB were 38 per cent. The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission, which was a statutory and independent body, had quantified a loss of 25.52 per cent against a figure of 24.5 per cent projected by the PSEB. They said the claim of 38 per cent losses was grossly exaggerated.

The association claimed that the committee had also wrongly stated that there had been repeated increases in the tariff.

The association also claimed that the recommendations of the Haldea Committee listing “open access” to bulk consumers whereby they would be allowed to take electricity from other sources also was totally impracticable and unworkable. The policy would require multiple private generators and had not worked anywhere else in the country. The open access formula would mean handing over the paying section to private producers of power while the PSEB would be saddled with the rural sector, it said.

It claimed the entire thrust of the committee recommendations was focussed on the creamy layer of consumers ensuring that farmers would be hit hard by the policy. Finally the Committee had recommended a government support of Rs 4000 crore to the power sector. It said if such a support was given in the existing framework, the PSEB would come out of the red.


Panel blames cops for Dalits’ lynching
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Commission member Narain Singh Kesri today said the lynching of Dalits in Jhajjar following allegations of cow slaughter could have been avoided if the police had taken timely action.

Talking to mediapersons after visiting Moondkheri village, near here, where Dalits had earlier complained that they had been socially boycotted, the SC and ST Commission member said the commission had asked an officer of the rank of Deputy Inspector-General of Police, who was attached with it, to inquire into the case. He said the inquiry had revealed that the police had remained indifferent to the episode initially, which had resulted in the lynching of the Dalits.

Mr Kesri, however, refused to reveal the details of the inquiry, saying it was still to be tabled in Parliament. He said the commission, besides investigating the role of the police as well as the people who had instigated the rioters, would submit suggestions on what needed to be done to defuse such situations.

Talking about his visit to Moondkheri, which he had undertaken following complaints of social boycott, he said the contract system under which Dalit labour was hired to work in the fields by landlords was the bone of contention in the village. He said his visit had revealed that no untouchability was being practised against Dalits in the village. However, problems had arisen when some Dalits had breached the contracts arrived at with the landlords.

Saying this was a social problem, he requested the Dalits as well as the landlords to get the contracts attested by a Notary. He said it was difficult to stop the contractual system of labour because the Dalits wanted assured money around the clock which they took in advance at times to fulfil the needs of his family. He said efforts should be taken to ensure Dalit labourers were not fleeced by charging exhorbitant rate of interest on their advance.

Earlier, he attended a function organised at the local Ravi Das Gurdwara near the bus stand.


Three bank officials summoned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
Mr Jaspal Verma Judicial Magistrate, First Class, Amritsar on Friday summoned Mr A. Bhattacharya, Chief Regional Manager, United Bank of India (UBI), Delhi, Mr Chaman Lal Arya Manager, and Mr Ashok Gupta, clerk, UBI, Amritsar, in a case filed by Mr Rajan Verma.

Mr Verma alleged that the bank authorities had been shielding corrupt officers for the past 12 years for committing fraud by manipulating and fabricating accounts of a minor child of Mr Verma and had withdrawn money from the account. All accused have been summoned for June 13.


Fatehgarh Sahib to have polyclinic for animals
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 9
The Punjab Government would establish a veterinary polyclinic here soon.

This was announced by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Animal Husbandry, Dairy, Fishery and Sports Minister, while addressing a public gathering at native village of Shahidgarh, near Bassi Pathana, after laying the foundation stone for the Veterinary Civil Hospital in the village. He said the Clinic would provide ultramodern facilities in the district.

He said X-ray and operation facilities would help the dairy farming. To developing the dairy farming, the state government had introduced a veterinary policy and 1.25 lakh units bull semen had been imported under the policy.

Besides, the government was making all out efforts to decrease cost expenditure in milk plants up to Rs. 1 to 2 per litre and the saved money thus would be spent for the betterment of the dairy farmers. He appealed the unemployed youth to adopt occupations like fisheries, dairy farming, piggary for self-employment because these occupations were profitable and liberal loans were available by the banks. Mr Kang announced that a block-level stadium would be built at Khera village by the government.

Dr Harbans Lal, State Minister for Forest and Civil Supplies, said under the dynamic leadership of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, the government was committed to providing all urban facilities in the rural area. He said sewerage would be get up in villages.

Dr Lal said the government would observe 2004 to commemorate third century of martyrdom of two younger sons of the tenth Guru Gobind Singh ji and all development projects in the district would be completed on a priority basis.

Dr Lal announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the hospital and also Rs 1 lakh for village.

Mr G.S. Chahal, Director, Animal Husbandry, said the department was making all out efforts to prevent animal diseases.

Mr Jai Krishan, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Fatehgarh Sahib, Ms Hardip Kaur Virk, member, Zila Parishad, Mr J.S. Ghuman, were also present.


Stadium named after martyr
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 9
In a unique tribute to a martyred Army officer, Major Tejinderpal Singh Sohal, the district administration today dedicated the Indoor Stadium at the Polo Ground here to his memory.

The Major had fallen to terrorist bullets in the line of duty in Jammu and Kashmir on April 29 last year. Though the case of naming the stadium after the officer was moved more than six months back, it was cleared recently. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, officially named the stadium after the officer.

The Deputy Commissioner said the late Major was a squash player who had represented his university in the inter-university competition. He said keeping in mind his love for sport, it was decided to dedicate the stadium to his memory. He said the issue of raising a memorial in the memory of the officer would also be taken up.

Dr G.P.S. Sohal, while speaking on the occasion, talked about the officer. The late officer’s father, Col Pritam Singh Sohal (retd), and Mr H.S. Malhi were also present.


Four of family die as roof collapses

Pathankot, March 9
Four members of a family were killed when a portion of the roof of their house near Model Town here collapsed last night.

A police report said it was an old house and needed repairs. All victims were asleep in the room.

The victims were identified as Girdhari Lal, his wife and two daughters. The bodies, after a post-mortem, were handed over to the relatives of the victims. UNI


‘Review’ proposal on rivers
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 9
The All-India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) has termed the Union Government’s proposal for linking rivers as an attempt to divert the attention of people from its “anti-farmer” policies.

Mr S.R. Pillai, president of the AIKS, told newspersons yesterday that the government should have constituted a committee of international experts to study the constitutional, social, economic, technical and environmental feasibility of the proposed centralisation of water resources.

As many as 36 delegates representing 22 states took part in the conference.


Jagmohan’s assurance to NCM chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
Mr Jagmohan, Minister of Tourism and Culture, has assured Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Commission for Minorities, through a letter that as far as the ministry is concerned it has a suitable plan to develop Amritsar.

The city has already been declared as a new hub which will synthesise the elements of culture, tourism and clean civic life.


Murderer nabbed with people’s support
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 9
The district police, with the active support of public, apprehended a murderer and three dacoits, including a woman, in the past 24 hours in the city.

Mr Narinder Pal Singh, S.S.P., said that in the wee hours today Randhir Kumar, a migrant labourer, was arrested for stabbing Raju of gali Jodda Pipal to death near Chatti Wind.

Randhir Kumar fled the spot after the crime, but was chased by the public and handed over to the police. The accused revealed that he had done it out of revenge as the deceased had assaulted him three months earlier.

In a case of dacoity, three robbers, including a woman armed with sharp-edged weapons, barged into the house of Rakesh Kumar of Gali No. 13, Nawa Kot, last night and demanded gold jewellery and cash from the family members.

As soon as the robbers left the place with the booty, the family members raised an alarm and along with the neighbours chased the dacoits. In the meantime, a patrol party reached the spot and apprehended the woman, recognised as Akawinder Kaur of Muchchal village.

Her accomplices were also arrested and identified as Rajinder Singh of Muchchal village and Mandeep Singh of Indira Colony, Majitha. The police also apprehended two thieves and recovered a little over 639 gm of gold jewellery from their possession. The arrested are Pabeer Dass from West Bengal and Amal singh.


Two killed, 35 injured in road accident
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 9
Two persons — Chajja Singh of Dhanauri village near Morinda and Manjit Kaur of Dugri village near Chamkaur Sahib — were killed while 35 others injured when the bus in which they were travelling met with an accident near Dhanauri village on the Ropar-Morinda road today.

According to information, the bus (PB-10-Z-7127), belonging to Pritam Bus Service, left Ropar for Khanna at about 11.30 a.m. The driver of the bus, Baldeep Singh, lost control over the vehicle, causing it to hit a tree.

The injured were shifted to the Morinda Civil Hospital. Out of these, 12 were shifted to the PGI, Chandigarh.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, visited the accident site.

The Morinda police has registered a case under Sections 279, 337, 338 and 304-A of the IPC against the bus driver.


Beating up of labourers denied
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, March 9
The district police today denied beating up any labourer or rounding up anybody without any reason at Behman Jassa Singh village, 10 km from here.

Sources said a police party had allegedly beaten up some migrant labourers on Thursday night suspecting them to be thieves. The migrant labourers spoke Hindi and there was some trouble establishing their identity.

The sources said even some women too were beaten up. Some of the injured persons were later admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The labourers alleged that the policemen asked them to confess to committing a theft and added that no case was registered against them.

Mr Jagdeep Singh, local Sarpanch, said he had got two migrant labourers who had been illegally detained by the local police released. He also got the injured admitted to the hospital.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, when contacted, said the police beat up nobody.He added that who had been admitted to the hospital had been discharged and the SP(D) had been asked to conduct an inquiry into the incident.

He said all those who had been arrested had been produced before the SDM Talwandi Sabo, and the SDM had sent them to police custody till March 10. He claimed that cases under Section 109, Cr PC, had been registered after the migrant labourers gave fake and forged addresses and identities.


Petrol station looted

Moga, March 9
Four unidentified car-borne youths looted a petrol station at Fatehgarh Korotana village on the Moga-Dharamkot road, 8 km from here on Friday night and escaped with Rs 29,000, the police said here yesterday.

According to the police, at about 9 p.m. the youths arrived at the petrol station and asked the attendant for the fuel.

After refuelling they went inside the office and instead of making the payment for the diesel, they forcibly seized Rs 29,000 from the cash box at pistol point and immediately rushed back to their waiting vehicle and managed to escape. PTI


3 drug pedlars held

Jalandhar, March 9
The Jalandhar police today claimed to have arrested three drug pedlars, including two women smugglers, and seized 20 kg of poppy husk and 100 gm of smack from their possession.

The district police chief, Mr Varinder Kumar, stated here today that the Nuramahal police arrested two women, Piaro and Bhajno, both residents of Pasla village, and recovered 10 kg of poppy husk each from their possession.

Meanwhile, the Jalandhar police arrested a drug pedlar and seized 100 gm of smack worth Rs 30,000 from his possession. PTI


Fate of building hangs in balance
Our Correspondent

Talwandi Sabo, March 9
The fate of the information technology (IT) building, the construction work of which has been stopped, remains undecided.

The building was to be used for running various courses of information technology and it was projected by the Punjabi University authorities that the institute would be developed as a nodal centre of the region. The auditorium of the building was to be shared with the local chapter of the University School of Management. The Rs 294-lakh contract of the building was allotted on August 25, 2000, to Dasam Construction Company (Mohali) and the project was to be completed in two years.

No senior officer of the university, including the Vice-Chancellor, Registrar of Executive Engineer (Construction Wing), could be contacted for comments. However, sources at the local Guru Kashi Regional Centre confirmed that the construction activity had been stopped a few months ago and most part of the building was complete.

Mr Rajinder Singh Brar, contractor, Dasam construction Company, when contacted, confirmed that they had stopped further construction of the building at Talwandi Sabo and had given the same in writing to the university authorities. He alleged that despite numerous reminders and personal visits his payments, including security from running bills, worth about Rs 55 lakh had not been released and no direction about the completion of the work been issued.


NRIs to help set up nursing college
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 9
Guru Nanak Nursing Education Trust, Athouli, will open a nursing college with the help of NRIs and villagers, trust chairman Lehmber Singh Ghagg said here today. Initially, Rs 1 crore would be spent on the project, said Mr Ghagg, himself an NRI.

A three-member team of foreign experts headed by Ms Irene. Farquhar, Dean, Healthcare, Technical College of the USA, had visited the village to inspect the project. The team also visited Palahi village.

Ms Irene, Mr Ron Penner and Mr Harish Joshi of Canada were in the team.

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