Wednesday, March 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Question mark over Akali-BJP alliance
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Going beyond the ‘’official’’ partywise listing as to how people had voted in the municipal elections released by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday, one observes wrinkles developing in the Akali-BJP alliance.

The results of 119-odd municipalities and nagar panchayats show that the Congress has gained an upper hand by capturing 42 committees while the Akali-BJP combine remained contented with just five. Independently, the BJP could not open its account.

“This has certainly put a question mark over our alliance with the BJP”, a senior Akali leader confessed. The results were a clear indication of the Congress having a sway over the urban Hindu voters while the BJP was shown the door. Even the urban Sikh did not vote for the BJP. Does it mean that the Akalis have to depend only upon rural Jat vote, which is always divided between them and the Congress?

“Though it may sound premature but this important development in the civic poll will cast its shadow even on the Lok Sabha elections scheduled for next year, if no corrective is applied to the Akali-BJP relationship now”, he continued.

A cross-section of the Akali leaders and Sikh scholars TNS spoke to said that it was time to differentiate between the Akali Dal and the SGPC. There is an emerging demand that their distinct roles and functions need to be defined as clearly as there is need to define the Sikh “identity”, which stands as much threatened by the growing cult of “Hindutva” as any other minority community. This will definitely impinge upon the Akali-BJP relationship.

Several Akalis also spoke about resuscitating the 1996 Moga Conference resolution of “Panth, Punjab and Panjabiat” and infusing fresh blood into the Akali veins.

There is also a serious breach of the Akali Dal Constitution itself. Seldom has a delegates’ session of the Akali Dal been convened or a full-house meeting of the 100-odd member working committee held. So much so that even the election of the Akali Dal President has not been held at regular intervals. As per the party’s constitution while the general house is to meet every year, the election of the President is to be held every two years along with election of other office-bearers. The last delegates’ session was held on March 3, 2000, in Amritsar where Mr Parkash Singh Badal was elected President with voice-vote. That session had reiterated its 27-year-old demand for “state autonomy and a federal structure”. These demands are a part of the 1973 Anandpur Sahib resolution. At the 2000 session, the party had also decided to review its 75-year-old “policy programmes” (Constitution of the SAD) as it had become “obsolete” in the changing geo-political and social changes. A five-member committee was also constituted for this purpose.

Some oldtimers and most younger Sikh leaders strongly feel the need for a “fresh approach” to Akali policies for ascendency to political power. For that to happen, it was necessary to approach the urban Hindu and Dalit constituencies with a fresh politico-economic agenda by going beyond the “village” vote-bank.

Sloganeering or religious or emotive issues would not cut much ice with the voters for long. The Akali leadership will have to take up people-oriented issues and talk in terms of fighting corruption and working for transparent governance when elected to power, said the Akalis with one voice. The Akali leadership must identify itself with the people “now” and act as an opposition party capable of delivering the goods through constructive criticism of the government.


Cong used unfair means: Badal
Tribune News Service

Aliwal, March 11
The Shiromani Akali Dal leaders said here today that the municipal-poll debacle of the party was the result of the misuse of government machinery by the Congress.

The party leaders and workers urged the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the party general secretary, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, to prepare for the coming general election. The two leaders attended various functions today, including one each at Aliwal and Ayali Khurd. Mr Sukhbir Badal also inaugurated a stadium in the village.

At the house of a former MP, Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Mr Badal said: “the debacle in the municipal elections is not due to any erosion of the mass base of the party, but because the government had used unfair means to win. The party had brought large scale irregularities to the notice of the Election Commission, but nothing was done to stop the poll violence and bogus voting.”

He said he was for Panthic unity, but denied that efforts were on to bring unity among the Akalis. He said too much was being read into his meeting with Mr G.S. Tohra in New Delhi. “He is a senior colleague and we have an old association; the visit was to fulfil my social obligations.”

He, however, ducked questions on whether or not he had discussed the issue with Mr Tohra.

Mr Badal criticised the Punjab Cabinet expansion and said he would take up issues of the freezing of the wheat MSP and hike in fertiliser prices with the Centre.

Those who attended the function included the SAD state unit vice-chief, Mr A.S. Bhatia, an MLA, Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal, the constituency head, Mr Darshan Singh Shivalik, the Youth SAD president, Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon and Mr A.S. Mallah.


Jungle raj’ in Jalalabad, say candidates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
All 15 candidates of the Jalalabad municipal committee today petitioned the Punjab State Election Commission requesting a repoll and withholding of the March 9 election results notification.

The State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, has reportedly forwarded their petition to Mr P S Aujla, who was appointed observer for the civic poll in Jalalabad, asking him to give reply parawise. The 21-point petition is supported by complaints and documentary evidence. The petition states that despite explicit orders of the commission, the state government did not deploy the CRPF. It goes on to give graphic details, ward-wise and booth-wise of highhandedness of the police and Congress workers. The petition lists instances when the police and Congress workers went about ‘’capturing’’ booths and stamping ballot papers. It also alleges registration of ‘’false’’ FIRs against BJP workers before the polling day, whisking away of polling agents by the police, hooliganism of Congress workers at the behest of the local MLA, wrongful confinement of candidates despite bail orders of the sessions court, dubious role of the Returning Officer, who openly showed his prejudice against BJP and preference for Congress candidates etc.

In fact, an interim report by Mr Aujla sent to the commission is a telling comment on the obtaining ‘’jungle raj’’ in Jalalabad on March 9.


Repoll today in Ward No 4
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, March 11
The Punjab Election Commission has ordered repolling at ward number 4 here on March 12 as some anti-social elements had disrupted the poll process by putting ink into the ballot boxes on Sunday (the polling day).

The polling was cancelled in booth numbers 7 and 8 of this ward when three persons, on the pretext of serving tea entered the booths and poured ink into the ballot boxes. While the police, with the help of voters present in the booths, arrested Sukhwinder Singh and Hardev Gogi, the third accused, Sukhi, managed to escape.

The district election authorities had recommended action against Mr G.S. Brar and Mr Pawan Kumar (presiding officers of booth numbers 7 and 8 respectively). A case under Sections 116 (2) and 124 (2) of the Punjab State Elections Act had been registered against the two who were arrested. The district police chief had also ordered an inquiry by the SP(H) into the alleged negligence of duty by the policemen deployed at the two booths.

Official sources said here today the new polling would be held on March 12 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. All eligible votes would be allowed again and this time the indelible ink mark would be put on the middle finger of the right hand instead of the usual left hand forefinger.

Meanwhile, Mr Sarwan Singh, who is contesting elections from this ward as an Independent candidate, in a fax message to the state Election Commissioner today alleged that he was being threatened by a candidate of the ruling party. He expressed apprehension that miscreants may try to disturb the poll process.


MC poll: vote counting today
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, March 11
Following the directions of a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana high Court, the State Election Commission today ordered the District Electoral Officer to conduct the counting of votes for the Dera Bassi Municipal Council tomorrow.

The hurdles in way of counting the votes were cleared after a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had yesterday dismissed a petition challenging the delimitation of wards.

The Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, on March 7, had directed that the counting of votes polled in the Dera Bassi Municipal elections shall not be done without prior approval. The orders were passed in less than 48 hours before the elections were scheduled to be held.

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, reserved ward had become reserved again.

Mr Dalli, Mr Bhatia and two other persons had alleged of mass violation of notification issued by the State Election Commission on December 11 last year. 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 of this some wards of the Municipal Council would be represented by certain city councillors again.

Sources in office of the Returning Officer (RO) revealed that a fax was received from the Deputy Commissioner directing the SDM who is also the RO to conduct the counting on Wednesday.

The local administration has decided to start the counting process in Dera Bassi Community Centre at 2 pm. Police personnel would also be stationed there to maintain peace and avoid any untoward incident during the counting.



Race for chairmanships begins in Cong
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
The run for securing the headships of various boards and corporations has begun among top Congress leaders and MLAs in Punjab. The first list of the appointments is likely to be announced by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, within this week.

Sources said that the list was ready and it had also been discussed with the party high-command and the party top brass in the state. Most MLAs who, had failed to join the Council of Ministers, would be accommodated as chairpersons of important Boards and corporations.

For political management, it is a must that Capt Amarinder Singh accommodates a number of the MLAs and other politicians as chairpersons. There are large number of first-time MLAs who could not be accommodated in the Council of Ministers, as the party high-command wanted that they should, first get administrative and legislative experience. They will be, first, put in the saddle as chairpersons of various boards and Corporations.

Besides the MLAs, the others expected to be appointed chairpersons are Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, Mr Sant Ram Singla, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Mr Ram Kishan Kataria and Mr Avtar Singh Sidhu, Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj and Mr C.D. Singh.

There are number of boards and corporations the chairpersons of which enjoy as good a status as that of ministers. For instance, while the Punjab Mandi Board is a cash-rich organisation, Punsup and the Punjab State Industrial Development and Export Corporation are no less. The Punjab Agro Industrial Corporation, the Punjab Backward Classes and Land Development and Financial Corporation, the Punjab State Forest Development Corporation, the Punjab Khadi and Village Industrial Board, the Punjab Sewerage Board, the Punjab State Poultry Corporation, Punseed, the PRTC and the Punjab State Social Welfare Advisory are among the other organisations with politicians chairpersons.

A large number of Congress leaders have been adjusted in the Block Samities and the Zila Parishads, after the Congress has won elections to these bodies in almost all districts. The picking of chairpersons and the other office-bearers of the Zila Parishads, has created a lot of bad blood within the party.

The Congress has also won elections to most Municipal Councils, where too, a large number of Congress activists have been accommodated as councillors. And a good number of party leaders will be accommodated as presidents and vice-presidents of municipal bodies later this week. Elections to most co-operative bodies are also due. It will not be much difficult for Capt Amarinder Singh to put his close confidants in important positions. 


Punjab lifts ban on promotions

Chandigarh, March 11
The Punjab Government today lifted the ban on promotions. A letter to this effect has been issued by Mr S.S. Khara, Joint Secretary, Personnel, on behalf of the state government to all heads of departments, Commissioners of divisions and others concerned.

Mr Khara has conveyed to them that the government has decided to lift the ban on promotions in group A, B and C services with immediate effect. While ordering promotions, a condition is to be mentioned in the promotion order that the promotion will be subject to review as per the final decision of a writ petition pending in the Supreme Court. TNS


Ex-DEO (Primary) in the dock
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, March 11
Records of funds spent by the former District Education Officer (DEO) Primary, Ms Malti Batra, under the Sarva Sikhiya Abhiyan scheme are missing. Sources told The Tribune, that the district education authorities, in a report submitted to the Director, Education, had alleged that records pertaining to about Rs 8 lakh were untraceable.

The district received Rs 3.7 crore under the scheme during the current financial year. The fund was to be given to primary schools of the district after endorsement by the District Education Development Committee headed by the Deputy Commissioner, Block Education Development Committees and village education committees formed for the purpose. The power to spend the money according to the guidelines of the scheme wrested with the village education committees.

However, the former DEO allegedly never called a meeting of the committees. On her own, she transferred Rs 35.59 lakh to the Block Education Officer (BPO) of Anandpur Sahib. The money had not been spent and now had been taken back by the education authorities from the BPO.

Another Rs 30 lakh was transferred without any authorisation from the Sarva Sikhiya Abhiyan account with the State Bank of Patiala branch in Ropar to HDFC Bank. A sum of Rs 6.74 lakh was withdrawn by the DEO who was the drawing and dispersing offier of the scheme. The authorities were trying to find the details of the expenditure, the sources said.

The education authorities had also failed to find the records of Rs 1.48 lakh that was pending with the DEO from the funds allotted to the district in 2001-2002.

The sources in the office of the DEO (Primary) said four computers, an instant coffee machine, two fax machines, allegedly purchased by Ms Malti Batra, had been lying in their office. However, no record regarding the purchases could be traced.

As per the guidelines, the funds had to be spent on the education of school dropouts in the rural areas and improving the infrastructure in primary schools. The DEO had no right to spend the money for buying office infrastructure.

The DEO concerned remained in controversy during her tenure here. Initially, 700 appointment letters were given to volunteers under the Sarva Sikhiya Abhiyan scheme in the district. After a report regarding it was published in The Tribune, the government had suspended her and the appointments had been cancelled. 


Cong ‘misusing’ public money
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 11
Mr Mohan Lal Garg, BJP leader and former Chairman of the Improvement Trust, alleged here today that the Congress was misusing public money on newspaper advertisements highlighting the achievements of the party and in praise of senior leaders.

He said it was not justified that a political party should use public money for party purposes.

Mr Garg said that development work in the state had come to a standstill after the information of the Congress government. He alleged that many projects started during SAD-BJP rule had been stopped by the Congress government.

He said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had not fulfilled various promises made in the election manifesto.


Rajinder Bansal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
Mr Rajinder Bansal, who has worked as a Sports Officer in Markfed, today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal with his supporters, according to SAD sources.


Letter on Malta tragedy with EC
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 11
Dr Jean-Louis De Brouwer, Head of the Directorate General Justice and Home Affairs, of the Department of the European Commission, has told Mr Balwant Singh Khera, chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, that the President of the European Commission has forwarded the mission’s letter of appeal with information on marine tragedy of December 25, 1996, in which, many South Asians had lost their lives.

Mr Khera said here today that the commission had sent him details of a common policy on illegal immigration, on the basis of which, a comprehensive plan had been adopted for fighting international human trafficking.

The European Council, in seville in June last year, had addressed the issue of illegal immigration and the Malta tragedy, according to the communication sent to Mr Khera. Dr Brouwer has assured Mr Khera that the European institutions are well aware of the challenges in busting criminal networks responsible for such tragedies.

Earlier, a letter of appeal was sent to Mr Ramano Prodi, Chairman European Commission, by Mr Khera, who sought the intervention of the Chairman for bringing the culprits to book.

Meanwhile, the issue of the Malta tragedy would be raised in the Punjab Assembly, said Mr Khera, as a question from the BJP MLA, Mr Avinash Khanna, had been admitted in this regard, he said. Over 300 Indians, most of them Punjabis, had died in the tragedy.


Sans wages for 20 months
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 11
Part-time workers in ayurvedic dispensaries are a distressed lot due to non-payment of salaries for more than 20 months. They were last paid salaries in June, 2001.

There are at least 90 Class IV employees in the district who have been suffering due to government apathy. They are mostly employed for menial jobs in the dispensaries and are paid less than Rs 600 per month.

On an average, two part-time worker are employed in each of the 47 dispensaries in the district. The condition of more than 1,000 such workers in entire state is pathetic.

About 547 ayurvedic dispensaries are spread out throughout the state, including rural areas, employing them as peons and assistants. Their salaries are paid through the respective Deputy Commissioner. The DC, Mr Iqbal Singh, here was not available for comment.

The issue of non-payment of salaries for months was taken up by Dr Manjit Singh, president of the District Ayurvedic Medical Services Association, with the Health Minister. But to on avail. “Money for salaries failed to arrive” despite all promises, he said.

He said he had also written several times to Mr Girdhari Lal Goel, Director, Health (Ayurvedic) about the condition of these employees. All he had got was lip service.

These workers continue in service for fear of losing their jobs as in the hope of getting salaries, they have taken heavy loans. Some are meeting their daily needs by taking credit. Some have mortgaged their bicycles and sublet their quarters.

Dr Kuldip Chand Mohindru, District Ayurvedic Officer, when contacted, said he was helpess as the Finance Department had not released the salaries of these employees.


Kidney case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
The arguments on anticipatory bail petitions filed by Dr Bhupinder Singh, Dr P.K. Jain and advocate Pardeep Saini in the kidney conspiracy remained inconclusive as a police officer, on way from Amritsar with a police file, could not reach the High Court till about 4.30 pm. The case will now be taken up by Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court on Wednesday.

Arguing before the Court, state counsel told the Court that challan had been filed in the Court of competent jurisdiction against Dr Mahajan, Dr J. Gargi and Dr P.K. Sareen. The accused were apprehending arrest in a first information report registered on September 21 last year under the provisions of the Transplantation of Human Organ Act, besides under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 371 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.

Bail plea

Taking up a petition filed by Punjab’s former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha seeking the grant of bail in a cheating and corruption case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday fixed March 25 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Garcha was earlier booked in a case registered under Sections 420 and 120-B of the India Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that a false case had been registered against him. He had further submitted that the Congress government was framing cases against its political opponents. The allegations that the employees recruited by Punjab Technical University were from his constituency were also baseless, counsel had added.


Rehri markets’ to get land
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
Permanent rehri markets are in the offing in the city with the Municipal Corporation deciding to allocate land for the rehri markets to decongest the city of ‘rehris’ which have become a traffic hazard.

The corporation had already made a beginning in this regard by establishing a ‘rehri market’ in the Tripri locality. All persons with ‘rehris’ in Tripri had been prevailed upon to shift to a piece of land near the DLF Enclave so that the area could be decongested. The corporation was working on a fast pace to take advantage of the clearance of ‘rehris’ from the Tripri market by deciding to put up dividers on the main road of the market. It had also asked shopkeepers not to encroach on any land outside their shops to ensure traffic management becomes easier.

Corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma said as tackling the issue of removing ‘rehris’ from places where they were causing traffic congestion was also a social issue, so the Corporation had decided to allocate small pieces of land in various parts of the city to the ‘rehris’ so the that matter could be resolved in an amicable manner.

He said it had been decided to set up a ‘rehri market’ in the area adjoining Division Number Two police station. He said rehris which were presently parked near Division Number Four Police Station as well as the ‘Sabji Market’ in the city would be shifted to the new site. He said the corporation expected to adjust around 150 to 200 ‘rehris’ at the new site.

Mr Sharma said new ‘rehri markets’ were also proposed near Sheranwala Gate and opposite the Shahi Dawakhana in the city. He said fruit and vegetable ‘rehris’ parked on the main road of the Sheranwala Gate had become a traffic nuisance. He said even though attempts had been made to dislodge them from the road, they kept creeping back. He said now it had been decided to allocate land on one side of the Education Department office near Sheranwala Gate which was situated a little away from the main road for establishment of the ‘rehri market’.

The Mayor said a ‘rehri market’ would also be established by covering the drain opposite the Shahi Dawakhana. He said ‘rehris’ parked opposite the Mata Kaushalya hospital in the city as well at the Bus Stand would be shifted to this site. He said similarly place would be made for kiosks established in front of the Bus Stand by covering a drain close to the Corner Hotel in the city.

Mr Sharma said the corporation had decided to make the collective shifting of the ‘rehris’ from their present sites a one-time move. He said after the shifting the corporation would not allow any other ‘rehris’ to be set up at any of the vacated sites which would be used for broadening of roads in the city.

He also said that the corporation would utilise Rs 1crore by March 31 to put a pre-mix on various roads in the city. 



Kids turn punters
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 11
Parents of 10-year-old Sumit, a student of Class V at a local school, were baffled at his persistent demand to increase pocket money. After repeated efforts they learnt their son was indulging in betting on cricket World Cup — 2003 results.

Similarly, parents of Gagan, another primary class student, got a rude shock when they learnt their son had utilised his pocket money and money given to him for purchasing books in the betting business.

Sumit and Gagan are not the only ones making a bid for a fast buck, putting the little money they have on betting on the outcome of cricket World Cup one-dayers. There are many more like them.

Unaware of the addictive nature of betting, the children have been putting their money on stake on the performance of their favourite cricket stars. As most parents enjoy cricket matches, their young ones have been falling prey to the allurement of easy money.

Interaction with a cross-section of school-children reveal that the kids have been putting their pocket money at stake during lunch break at school. The betting is confined among classmates, juniors and seniors.

The kids have been placing bets on the performance of individual players (batsman or bowler). They select their favourite batsman and bowler by toss. The winner makes his choice first and the loser from among the remaining players after him.

Said nine-year-old Harsh: “Had Sachin Tendulkar scored a century against Pakistan on March 1, I would have won an additional sum of Rs 100. But as Sachin fell two short of a century, I could only earn 50 paise per run scored by him”. Some kids have placed bets on half centuries by batsmen and hattrick by bowlers.

Most students have been spending the amount won on cold drinks, fast food items and candies.


PSEB staff burn Haldea’s effigy
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 11
The effigy of Mr Gajendra Haldea, Chairman of the Haldea Committee on power sector reforms in Punjab, was burnt in the district administrative complex here today by various organisations of PSEB employees in protest against the recommendations of the committee with regard to privatisation.

The employees held a rally and took out a protest march. They also submitted a memorandum to the SDM for forward transmission to the Punjab Government.

The employees said the committee report should be rejected in the larger interest of the employees and the public.


BKU (E) backs PSEB employees
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 11
The Ugraham faction of the BKU (E) will participate in a “satyagrah” of PSEB employees in the state on March 12 and 13. The union will also participate in a rally of different associations of PSEB employees at Chandigarh on March 21.

The union has decided to lend its support against the privatisation of the PSEB as per the recommendations of the Haldia Committee.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan, state general secretary of the union, said even after the reduction in the number of employees, the burden on the agriculture sector would increase as most of the employees likely to be retrenched belonged to the rural areas. He said as per an estimate about 90,000 employees of the PSEB would become jobless after the implementation of the committee report.


US Sikh bodies flay removal of Jathedar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
US-based Sikh organisations — the Guru Gobind Singh Foundation (GGSF), National Sikh Centre (NSC) and Sikh Council on Religion and Education (SCORE) — have jointly condemned the sacking of Prof Manjit Singh as Jathedar of Kesgarh Sahib, claiming that the due process of law was not followed while dismissing him.

In a joint release here, representatives of the Washington-based associations Harminder Singh Jassal and Hargurpreet Singh said the reports of allegations of corruption and moral turpitude if proven should have been written and made public. They said no oral report was acceptable.

They also urged the SGPC to streamline its process by fixing guidelines and qualifications for appointing jathedars and laying out a proper procedure for dismissing them.


Badungar should quit: SKP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
The Shiromani Khalsa Panchayat (SKP) today demanded the resignation of the SGPC chief, Jathedar Kirpal Singh Bandungar, after the SGPC task force allegedly attacked the SKP protesters who were seeking the dismissal of Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti.

“Jathedar Badungar is fully responsible for the unfortunate episode on February 22 and has no moral right to continue as the President of the SGPC,” a statement of the SKP issued by its convener Rajinder Singh said.

The SKP condemned the efforts of the Panthik unity by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, saying that, “the unity moves are prompted by their selfish ends and lust for power.”

It urged the people to be ready for an onslaught after the unity move by these leaders achieved success. It alleged that the attack had been carried out by SGPC task force, activists of SAD and the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta).


All set for Hola Mohalla
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 11
The district administration has started making arrangements for the annual Hola Mohalla celebrations at Kiratpur Sahib and Anandpur Sahib from March 14 to March 19.

A meeting regarding the arrangements was held at Anandpur Sahib today under the chairmanship of the Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Sports, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, after the meeting, told mediapersons that arrangements had been made for ensuring uninterrupted electricity and water supply in Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib. Besides, 400 temporary toilets were being erected for the pilgrims.

Special buses would be deployed to bring pilgrims to Anandpur Sahib. Heavy traffic, including trucks, would be diverted through Nurpur Bedi and Nalagarh.

For health services, 13 temporary dispensaries would be set up that would function round the clock. The District Red Cross would set up first-aid posts on roads leading to Anandpur Sahib. Nine ambulances would also be on emergency duty at Anandpur Sahib. Two control rooms would be set up to provide help to pilgrims.

Orders under Section 144 had been ordered, banning the carrying of arms, explosives and inflammable substances in Ropar district till May 3. The orders would, however, not be applicable to Nihangs, the police and paramilitary forces.

Liquor vends within a radius of 5 km of Anandpur Sahib and Kiratpur Sahib had been closed for the celebrations.


EOI invited for PTDC
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 11
The Director of Disinvestment, Punjab, has invited an expression of interest (EOI) for strategic sale of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation. Interested parties can submit their EOI till April 7.

The state government has already decided to disinvest its 100 per cent share in PTDC properties through a strategic partner. Mr R.K.Sharma, Deputy General Manager, Disinvestment, in a press release issued here today, said, ‘‘As part of this process, EOI is being invited with respect to blocks consisting of holiday home schemes with properties in Dharamshala, Goa, Musssoorie, Manali and Jaipur; Amritsar International Hotel; Queen’s Flower Tourist Complex at Neelon, Ludhiana, and Tourist Complex at Wagha, Amritsar.’’

The preliminary information memorandum containing the additional information about the PTDC and qualification requirement formats for EOI can be obtained from Karvy Investor Services Ltd., Hyderabad, who has been appointed as global Adviser for the proposed disinvestment.


Help centre for women set up

Amritsar, March 11
The Punjab Government set up a help centre for women at Sharif Pura in Amritsar here today. The centre will be open round the clock for complaints.

A woman needs to dial 1091 and tell the location to those attending the call and within minutes the police will arrive at the scene.

Talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the centre, the Chairperson of the Punjab State Social Welfare Advisory Board, Ms Gurdayal Kaur Mallan, said calls made to the helpline number would be toll free and the police would reach the scene on receiving a distress call. She said even an elderly woman harassed by her daughter-in-law could seek help. PTI


Houses develop cracks
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 11
Some houses in Mohalla Nohria and Gali Ganga Ram Wali have developed cracks allegedly due to seepage of water from leaking water supply and sewerage connections in the area.

Mr Pritpal Singh, a resident of the area, said about four months ago the water supply of the area was disrupted and when the same continued, the drinking water got mixed with sewerage water. He said the residents continued to consume the dirty water after filtering and boiling the same. He said after the matter was taken up with the authorities some officials visited the spot and the water supply pipes were repaired.

He said while the water supply was normalised, the sewerage pipes were not repaired and the officials overlooked the fact that the sewerage water of the street was not collecting in the tank built for the purpose. He claimed that the sewerage water was seeping into the ground and was leading to wide cracks in their dwellings.

He alleged that about two years ago also their houses developed huge cracks due to the same problem. Nothing concrete happened except for the visit of the president and executive officer of the council on the spot that time, he alleged.

He claimed that one of their neighbours, Som Dev, had visited his house fearing collapse due to cracks, but his family had no option but to live in the “dangerous” building.


Civil Surgeon honoured
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
The Patiala Social Welfare Society has honoured Civil Surgeon Inderjit Kaur Walia for her role in proceeding against institutions violating the PNDT Act.

Society president Vijay Kumar Goel while speaking at a function organised here yesterday evening to honour the Civil Surgeon, said Dr Walia had rendered a great service to society by proceeding against clinics and ultra sound centres who were carrying out sex determination tests and foeticides.

Dr Walia said a drive had been initiated in the district to verify the records given by the various ultra sound centres. She said this had been done following an ultra sound centre was found violating the Act at Rajpura.



BSNL asked to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 11
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed the local BSNL authorities to pay compensation to Balbir Singh, a resident of Khairabad village, for deficiency in service.

The complainant had alleged that he had got installed BSNL telephone at his residence. He was entitled to 250 free calls per two months, as provided by the BSNL in rural areas. However, he was not provided the same despite repeated complaints to the authorities concerned.

The complainant demanded a compensation of Rs 20,000 as compensation for the harassment he had to undergo at the hands of the BSNL authorities.

The forum comprising president JP Gupta and member SK Bhatia held the BSNL responsible for deficiency in service and directed it to pay a compensation of Rs 5,000 to the complainant, besides refund of Rs 837 that he had paid extra.

The complainant was also awarded the cost of litigation, quantified at Rs 1,000.


Five injured in clash
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, March 11
Five persons, including two women, were injured in a clash between the supporters of two candidates who had contested for the recently concluded municipal council elections in Nanaksar mohalla, yesterday.

The injured have been identified as Sukhwant Kaur, Palwinder Kaur, Paramjit Singh, Daljit Singh and Harinder Singh.

According to the information, tension created during the elections period was the root cause of the clash.

A group, led by Mr Nirmal Singh, who won the elections by defeating Mr Swaran Singh Sidhu, allegedly used lathies and swords to attack the other group.

The injured have been admitted at the local Civil Hospital. The issue was resolved after elders of the area and Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, senior vice-president, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandak Committee, and Mr Jatinder Kumar Sood, president of the local municipal council, pacified both groups. 


Christian body seeks probe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 11
Perturbed over recent media reports that some Christian organisations were instrumental in the “conversion” of poor and Dalit Sikhs in border districts of the state, the Punjab Christian Movement (PCM) yesterday urged the state government to constitute a high-level committee to inquire into these allegations.

Mr Hamid Masih, president of the PCM, in a press note issued here said the reports, appearing in a section of press pertaining to some Christian organisations which were allegedly motivating Dalit and poor Sikhs hailing from border districts to convert to Christianity, were baseless.

Welcoming the decision of the SGPC to set up an inquiry to check the validity of these reports, the PCM demanded that the state government should constitute an all-party committee to ascertain the factual position in the border districts in this regard.


Pak intruder apprehended
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, March 11
The BSF apprehended a Pakistai national identified as Mohammad Ali from the border outpost at Bareke along the zero line on the Indo-Pakistan border in this sector late last night.

According to BSF officials, the Pakistani was trying to sneak into the Indian territory.

He has been handed over to the police and is likely to be shifted to the Joint Interrogation Centre at Amritsar for further interrogation. 


PSEB ultimatum to farmers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 11
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) issued an ultimatum today to farmers who have not paid the electricity bills for their tubewell connections after the free power facility has been discontinued. It has told them to deposit the bills by March 31 or face disconnection.

A board press note issued here today said some agricultural consumers had not deposited their electricity bills for October, November and December under the impression that the bills for tubewell connections would be waived off. It said no surcharge would be taken, if the bills were paid by month-end.

Farmers paying bills after this would have to pay the surcharge and their power connections would be withdrawn. Most agricultural power consumers had paid their bills after the board had revised the tariff in compliance with an order of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission.

The board has not been shaken by farmers protesting outside its building, who want the reintroduction of free power supply and reduction in various other charges. The farmers led by the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Rajewal) have been camping in front of the board building for the past one week.


MC chief booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, March 11
A case of fraud was registered today against Mr Charanjit Singh Jatana, president of local municipal council (MC), and a confidant of a former Akali minister, Mr Sikander Singh Malooka, and a former Executive Officer (EO), Mr Bhupinder Singh, for their alleged involvement in siphoning off lakhs of rupees of the state government.

Police sources said they had made fake payments to an advocate and a contractor as per an inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau.

The sources said Mr Bhupinder Singh who was transferred to Maur Mandi from here on July 8, 2002, had taken a cheque book of the municipal council. When the cheque book was recovered from him by another Executive Officer, it was found that two cheques were missing.

An inquiry revealed that by using the cheques, he, in alleged connivance of Mr Jatana, made a payment of Rs 2.51 lakh to two persons. When the record of the municipal council was checked, it was found that no payment had been made.

It was found that they had showed that a payment of Rs 51,000 had been made to an advocate while another payment of Rs 2 lakh had been made to a contractor.

The police sources said the case had been registered on the complaint of the Director, Local Bodies, Punjab. Mr Bhupinder Singh has been suspended.

The sources said Mr Jatana had earlier been booked in another case of fraud and was facing trial in some case.

No arrest had been made so far, the sources said.


2 held for assaulting councillor
Our Correspondent

Sangrur, March 11
The police today arrested Mr Ravi Chawla, who lost to Mr Jatinder Kalra in the recently held municipal council elections, and his mother Santosh Rani for allegedly entering forcibly in the house of Mr Nanak Chand Kalra, a former chairman of the Sangrur Improvement Trust, along with others this morning and assaulting Mr Nanak Chand Kalra and his son Jatinder Kalra.

The police said it had registered a case against six persons, including Mr Ravi Chawla, his brother Sanju and their mother Santosh Rani, under Sections 148, 149, 186, 323, 353, 427, 452 and 506 of the IPC.

The police said Sanju had managed to escape from the custody after his mother and some other women had engaged them in an argument. Sanju had been handed over to the police by the family of Mr Nanak Chand Kalra.

Earlier, BJP activists staged a dharna for more than two hours in front of the local police station and raised slogans against the police. They lifted the dharna in the afternoon when the police assured them that “guilty” persons would be nabbed and a case would be registered against them.

The police said Mr Chawla’s family members had claimed that they had gone to the house of Mr Nanak Chand Kalra on their invitation to arrive at a compromise in connection with yesterday’s incident in which an altercation had taken place between both the parties. Mr Nanak Chand Kalra had complained to the police that Sanju, along with others, had threatened him with an “ustra” for defeating his brother Ravi Chawla in the recently held municipal council elections.


Fake registration scam unearthed
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, March 11
The police today unearthed a fake registration certificate scam, allegedly run by officials of the District Transport Office with the connivance of private agents.

SSP Shiv Kumar, in a press note issued here today, said one of the accused, a junior assistant in the District Transport Office, Manjeet Singh, and a private agent, Vijay Kumar, had been arrested for their alleged involvement in the scam. A case in this connection had been registered under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 34 of the IPC.

He said that during interrogation, Manjeet Singh confessed that he, along with Des Raj, a junior assistant, and Ashok Kumar Malik, a clerk, had prepared a number of fake registration certificates of buses, trucks, cars and other vehicles after taking money during the past few months.

Mr Shiv Kumar added that some other documents, pertaining to the state government, had also been seized from Vijay Kumar. He said it was suspected that some senior officials and other agents were also involved in this scam and to investigate this a special investigation team, headed by DSP Gurmeet Singh, had been constituted.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that some officials of the Transport Department had acquired assets disproportionate to their known source of income.


Brother killed with cricket bat

Hoshiarpur, March 11
A man allegedly under the influence of liquor, clubbed his brother to death with a cricket bat in Bassi Daulat Khan village under the Sadar police station late yesterday.

According to a police report, the accused, Jasbir Singh, came home drunk and when his elder brother, Sarabjit Singh (50), objected to this, he exchanged heated arguments with him. In a fit of rage, Jasbir picked up the willow and hit his brother on the head a number of times, which proved fatal for Sarabjit.

Jasbir, later, threw away his brother’s body on the outskirts of the village, which was noticed by some villagers, who reported this to the police. The police has arrested Jasbir. UNI


Man, grandson killed in mishap

Phagwara, March 11
A man and his one-month-old grandson were killed and four others, of the family injured when their car was hit by a truck near Chiherru on the national highway late yesterday.

The victims were Purshotam Nand Bhatia(55) and Ayush. The injured were Purshotam’s wife, Renu, son, Rohit, daughter-in-law, Geeta and Amandeep Singh. They were admitted to hospital in a serious condition. The police has registered a case under Sections 304 A, 427, 323, 337, 338 and 237 of the IPC against the driver of the truck, who fled soon after the accident. The victims’ bodies have been sent for a post-mortem examination. UNI 


2 robbers arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 11
The police has arrested two members of a gang of robbers and seized two country-made pistols from their possession.

Following a tip-off, a police team laid a naka near the bus stand in Nakodar and intercepted two youths. They were arrested and later identified as Jarnail Singh of Shimlapuri locality in Ludhiana and Harjinder Singh of Uppal Bhupa village in Bilga town.

During preliminary interrogation, the duo revealed that Harjinder Singh, accompanied by Sarabjit Singh of Nattan village in Bilga town and Sewa Singh of Shimlapuri locality in Ludhiana, committed an armed robbery in January and looted Rs 5,800 and a mobile phone from a gas agency in Goraya.

The gang also looted cash from a petrol pump in Dharkot. 


Travel agents booked

Jalandhar, March 11
The Jalandhar police today booked two travel agents on charges of cheating and breach of promise in sending a person abroad.

District police chief Varinder Kumar said on a complaint by Ranjit Singh action was taken against the duo for taking Rs 5 lakh to send Gurjiwan to England two years ago. However, it did not materialise and agents Amardeep Singh and Amarpreet Singh refused to return the amount, the complainant said.

Later he came to know that the agents were not authorised travel agents. A case has been registered under Sections 420/406 and 506, IPC. PTI


Stress on quality education in govt institutes
Tribune news service

Rampura Phul, March 11
The Chairman of the High Powered Committee on Finance, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla, here yesterday urged the students and their parents to defeat the designs of those politicians and others who were coming in the way of provision of quality education in government-run schools and colleges.

Mr Singla was speaking at the annual function of a local college for women.

Stressing the need for changing the education policy in the state, he pointed out that the status and quality of education in government-run schools and colleges was not up to the mark despite the fact that the state government had been spending huge money on the same.

He pointed out that the dropout rate in government-run schools was alarming, while in private schools it was negligible. He added that as per his report, wards of 91 per cent teachers working in government schools had been getting education from private schools.

Mr Singla pointed out that in India the facility of higher education was available only to 9 per cent of population belonging to age group ranging from 17 to 23 even after 55 years of Independence despite the fact that there were 12,000 colleges and 300 universities in the country. In developed nations, the facility of higher education was available to 35 to 40 per cent of the population belonging to the same age group.

Besides, education in schools and colleges had very little to do with the requirements for getting a job, he added.

Mr Singla appealed to the students to contribute towards their institutions after getting jobs so that these could be updated with latest trends in education.

Mr Singla distributed prizes to those students who excelled in academic, sport and extra-curricular fields.


Major results to be out by June

Patiala, March 11
From the current academic session no examination centre would be established in any private academy. Results of major examinations would be declared by June 30 and admissions would not be extended beyond July 31.

These were the decisions taken at the Principals conference held on the campus of Punjabi University here today.

Swarn Singh Boparai, VC, and Dr Nisha Sharad, DPI, Colleges and various dons of the university attended the conference. OC

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