Saturday, March 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM, Badal engage in wordy duel
Motion of thanks to Governor’s Address passed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha was today witness to a wordy duel between Capt Amarinder Singh and Leader of the Opposition, Parkash Singh Badal, who spoke on the Governor’s Address. If Mr Badal repeatedly warned Capt Amarinder Singh to mend his ways and stop political vendetta, he also held out a fig-leaf calling for “political consensus and cooperation’’. On the other hand, Capt Amarinder Singh defending the performance of his government and conduct of his ministers and MLAs, rubbished the threats held out by Mr Badal and dared him to get ready to face the jail.

Though the House passed the motion of thanks on the Governor’s Address by rejecting all seven amendments, for once the members heard the two leaders with rapt attention. If Capt Amarinder Singh dismissed the speech of Mr Badal as most boring, the latter dubbed Capt Amarinder Singh’s Government as the one at a standstill. Even the Governor’s Address, he said, had “no direction, no vision, no commitment and no sinceirty”.

Capt Amarinder Singh described the speech of Mr Badal as one that had been delivered in a jocular fashion that had further lowered the dignity of the House and showed to what depths the standard of discussion and debate could dip. When Mr Badal charged the government with being autocratic and dictatorial, the Chief Minister hit back to say that Mr Badal was incompetent as a Chief Minister since he was totally ignorant of what went on in his government which had no policy either to run the administration or to manage the finances. Consequently, the total mess had put the state on a path to ruin.

The Chief Minister reiterated all charges of corruption against Mr Badal and asked him to wait till the law caught up with him. If he chided the Akali-BJP Government of making a mockery of the state administration, he also listed the achievements of his government. The first year was one of stabilisation and the next will be of development.

A major part of Mr Badal’s speech was devoted to his pet theme of Congress bashing. He said both corruption and Congress were the two sides of the same coin and went on to list the scams and scandals that surfaced during the Congress rule at the Centre.

Capt Amarinder Singh was in the offensive from the beginning itself. But the real attack came towards the end of his speech when he dared Mr Badal and made it clear that he was not the one to take challenges lying down. He disclosed what his government intended to do or had done in the interest of various sectors of the economy and different sections of the people.

If Mr Badal recounted the failures of the government or lack of transparency and accountability in its functioning or how corrupt politicians and bureaucrats were being shielded and guilty cops who perpetrate “zulum” on innocent were being let off the hook or how farmers had been denied their dues, the Chief Minister took on the SAD leader with a number of facts and went on to wonder what equation the Akali leader had with dismissed PPSC Chairman, Ravi Sidhu. “He seems to be either related to Sidhu or a partner”, the Chief Minister said.

Both speakers referred to several contentious socio-economic and religious issues as also the SYL canal to claim the role of their respective parties and running down the other. If Mr Badal said the Congress was the mother of all corruption and how it had nurtured and perpetuated it, Capt Amarinder Singh said the real Akalis were in the heaven and what one saw around here were a group of “loot-mar” people.


Akali, BJP MLAs walk out
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today unanimously passed the supplementary demands for grants for 2002-03 without any discussion.

The 24 grants passed by the House involved a gross additional expenditure of Rs 748.36 crore, which comprised Rs 533.43 crore on the revenue account and Rs 214.93 crore on the capital account. After taking into consideration related receipts and recoveries, these demands will involve a net additional outgo of Rs 466.82 crore from the Consolidated Fund of Punjab.

Earlier, Akali-BJP MLAs staged a walkout. This time the issue involved two Ministers of State, Ramesh Dutt Sharma and Harbans Lal.

Raising the issue during zero hour, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister, said the two ministers had procured ‘’fake’’ medical degrees and even the Supreme Court had served notices on them. Since it was a serious issue and involved moral propriety, the two should resign forthwith. “Nothing short of that would satisfy us”.

The Spreaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, said the matter was subjudice and could not be raised in the House and disallowed discussion.

Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, stood up on a personal point of order but could not be heard due to din raised by the Opposition, which amidst the shouting of slogans walked out. 


Education Dept cancels new GPF accounts
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 21
The state Education Department has cancelled the account numbers of General Provident Fund (GPF) allotted to its new employees. The numbers were issued to them after October 2002, as per the orders of the Director Public Instruction (DPI) Schools, Punjab. The decision has now led to confusion among the employees.

Education Department sources said earlier GPF numbers were allotted to new employees after the completion of one year service by the DPI office. From October 2002, the process was decentralised and the Education Department authorised school heads to allot the account numbers to the new entrants.

The sources said the heads of various government schools all over Punjab had issued a large number of GPF numbers to the new employees.

After this, the contributions of a large number of employees towards GPF were also deducted from their salaries and deposited in their new accounts.

In some schools, annual increments and arrears were also deposited in the new accounts, as per the orders of the DPI.

However, in a letter issued on January 13, the DPI ordered that GPF account numbers would be issued from the head office of the Education Department as was being done by the authorities concerned before October 2002.

He also directed that the Drawing and Disbursing Officer (DDO) would not issue account numbers to any employee and the numbers, issued to the employees, be treated as cancelled. However, the decision has given a rude shock to the employees.

A master cadre employee in the department said he had made contributions to the GPF under the new account number allotted by his school head. But it had been cancelled and no new account number had been issued to him so far and he had not been able to contribute towards the GPF for the past two months.

Mr Ramesh Kumar, another employee, said the process to allot new account numbers would take months and till then all benefits announced by the government, including arrear contributions to the GPF and annual salary hikes, would remain elusive.

A lecturer, pleading anonymity, said she was told to give Rs 500 if she wanted her new GPF number within a week. She alleged that school heads had denied the employees annual increments and the treasury officers were also raising objections on clearing their salary bills without the GPF numbers as they had completed one year of regular service.

She said the GPF records, in almost all schools, were lying incomplete and no official had bothered to check these.


Resentment brews among teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
Resentment is brewing among a large number of teachers due to the alleged harassment being caused by a section of employees of the District Education Offices in connection with the pending work of the General Provident Fund (GPF), senior-junior cases and assured career promotion (ACP) cases.

The Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) in a press note issued here yesterday alleged that in the offices of the District Education Officers (Secondary and Elementary) the clerical staff had been raising repeated objections on routine works and voluminous files, meetings and correspondence to check the same had yielded no results. The front said the teachers were feeling frustrated and they would be forced to launch a stir against the harassment being caused to them.

Major Basant Kumar, secretary of the front, said in the press note the working of the offices was so poor that some routine cases had been pending since 1989. He added that the 18-year ACP case of Mr Lachhman Singh of Chughe Kalan had been due since 1989 and the offices had been denying the same to him, despite repeated requests and reminders.

Similarly the service record book of Mr Gamdoor Singh of Virk Kalan was spoiled when the entries of some other teacher were made into the same. He said that the DEO (E) had promised in a monthly meeting recently that the errors would be rectified but the same had not been done so far.

The DTF said the DEO (S) asked for the scrutiny of cases of senior and junior employees of all schools of the district and a section of them were cleared under certain extraneous considerations, while useless objections were raised on the remaining. The DTF alleged that different treatment was given to similar cases due to corruption and in some cases the DEO had asked to recover excess money drawn by the employees and in similar cases no objections had been raised.

Major Kumar pointed out that nowhere in Punjab the cases of senior and junior employees were being checked or sorted out and the exercise was being undertaken only in Bathinda, which indicated the “corrupt” motives of the district authorities. He alleged that rather than correcting any mistakes in the service record books the district authorities were harassing employees.

He said the DEO (S) and DEO (E) had been apprised of the corruption, harassment and irregularities in their offices but the situation had not improved. He listed as many as nine cases of pending payments of the GPF and a similar number of cases where the GPF advances had not been sanctioned since the past many years.


Hectic schedule awaits President
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
President APJ Abdul Kalam has a hectic schedule lined up for him as he will participate in as many as 18 functions spread over four cities during his 12-hour visit to Punjab on March 23. It will be his first visit to the border state after taking over as the President and will take him to Nawanshahr, Hoshiarpur, Kapurthala and Amritsar.

Starting with a visit to Khatkar Kalan, the birth place of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh, the President will not only attend the convocation of Punjab Technical University , but also visit Science City at Kapurthala and attend an alumni felicitation function at DAV College, Amritsar.

The President will also visit Sri Darbar Sahib and Durgiana Mandir besides paying homage to the martyrs of 1919 when he will visit Jallianwala Bagh.

Though the entire visit has been planned keeping in view the special interests and likings of the President, yet it will be hectic keeping the security forces on their toes. The President has been closely associated with the planning and development of Science City at Kapurthala. Dr Kalam along with one of his associates, Dr Y.S. Rajan, now Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, had visited Kapurthala even before the project had formally taken off.

After arriving at Khatkar Kalan by a helicopter, the President will visit the ‘samadhi’ of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh before he dedicates to the nation the 200 KWp Grid Interactive Solar Photoactive Power Plant. He will also plant a sapling on the campus of the plant and visit the ancestral home of the Shaheed-e-Azam.

The President will then visit Kharaudi village, one of the pioneering villages under the Village Improvement Programme (VIP) launched by North America-based NRIs. It was The Tribune which had highlighted this pilot project some years ago. The village now boasts of a modern sewerage treatment plant, a fish pond, streetlights run on solar energy, parks and a modern school with computer terminals. Most of the projects in the village have been completed by villagers themselves with financial help and support from their NRI brethren. In this village, the President will also interact with residents.

After Kharaudi, the President will leave for Science City where he will speak on his favourite subject, Vision for India. He will also participate in a question-answer session with schoolchildren and also plant a sapling on the campus of Science City.

Since he will be visiting both Sri Darbar Sahib and Durgiana Mandir in Amritsar later in the day, the President will visit Moorish Mosque in Kapurthala. He will have some break and rest at Sainik School, Kapurthala, from where he will go for the convocation of Punjab Technical University.

It will be at Punjab Technical University that both the Governor, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (retd) and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, will also be present.

After finishing his Kapurthala engagements, the President will fly to Amritsar where he will first visit Jallianwala Bagh to pay tributes to the martyrs of the 1919 massacre and then the Golden Temple complex where the SGPC as per its conventions will felicitate him. President Kalam would become the fourth President to visit the Golden Temple complex in the recent past after Mr V.V. Giri, Mr Neelam Sanjiva Reddy and Giani Zail Singh.

The next on the list of his engagements will be a visit to the historic Durgiana Temple before he goes to Amritsar DAV College for his last official engagement. He will honour distinguished members of the alumni of the college. After spending almost 12 hours in the state , the President will fly back to the Capital late in the evening.


Tight security for Kalam’s visit
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 21
The state government and the district administration are working round the clock for making the visit of the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, to Amritsar a memorable one.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, alongwith the SSP, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, in a joint press conference here today made a fervent appeal to the residents of the city to extend their full cooperation for making smooth arrangements for the President’s first ever sojourn to the holy city on March 23.

Mr Sidhu said elaborate security arrangements had been made for his three-hour long visit here. The President would arrive at Rajasansi Airport from Jalandhar at 5.15 p.m. and would drive straight to the historic Jallianwala Bagh where he would lay a wreath at the martyrs’ memorial. He would then go to the Golden Temple to pay obeisance where the SGPC President would honour him. After that he would visit Durgiana Temple where its managing committee would offer him a siropa.

The Deputy Commissioner said the President would later inaugurate the golden jubilee celebrations of the local DAV College and interact with the students and the faculty and also address the gathering.

The Governor of Punjab, Lt Gen J.F.R. Jacob, and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would receive the President at the airport.

Giving details about the security arrangements the Deputy Commissioner said the IG (Border Range) would be the overall in charge of the security while two DIGs and six SSPs would be deputed to monitor the arrangements at four different venues besides hundreds of policemen had been deployed throughout the city for the visit.

Dr Kalam would be the fifth President to visit the holy city during past 55 years. Earlier, Dr Rajinder Parshad, Mr V.V. Giri, Mr Sanjeeva and Giani Zail Singh had visited the city.

The administration has made special arrangements for the electronic and the print media to cover the President’s visit. The Deputy Commissioner said inspite of the tight security arrangements pilgrims visiting the Golden Temple and the Durgiana Mandir would be stopped.

He, however, pointed out that the Jallianwala Bagh Complex would be closed to public on the day of the President’s visit.


Science city awaits President
1,200 students to meet Dr Kalam
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Pushpa Gujral Science City will be the venue of interaction between the President of India, Dr A P J Abdul Kalam, and 1,200 students on March 23.

The project cost of Science City, spread over 71 acres, is Rs 100 crore. The Centre is contributing Rs 70 crore and the state government Rs 30 crore.

According to the project’s Director-General, Mr R S Khandpur, when commissioned, the City will educate the visitors about nature and science, space and microscopic world of DNA through the use of interactive exhibits, display of state-of-the-art technology, audio-visuals, graphics and models. Primarily, it is intended to create awareness about science and technology in the people, particularly, students.

The project envisages four separate but integrated buildings with a total covered space of 32,000 sq. metres that will house the theme specific galleries, theatres, entrance plaza, food services utilities and administration.

Mr Khandpur told TNS that the City would be different from science museums and science centres. ‘’It will be a science park, where indoor and outdoor exhibits will be displayed.

The City will be a composite whole of basic and applied science, electronics and robotic, communication, computer science, industrial and information technology, life sciences, medicines, agriculture, biotechnology etc’’.

At present 3-D motion simulator is under installation to give visitors a ‘touch-and-feel’’ experience once he/she sits in a 30-seat capacity space capsule for a journey beyond the atmosphere into the stars and planets and asteroids in the solar system or a journey into the past period of pyramids and pharaohs in a simulator ‘’time machine’’. Not to be missed out will be the dinosaur park and the energy education park.

Mr Khandpur said: ‘’The City management will take the opportunity of the visit of the President to the complex, situated on the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road, to stimulate participating students to take interest in science and technology by giving them a preview of the envisaged projects and projections”. 


Garcha chief of Sangrur MC
Tribune Reportres

Sangrur, March 21
Mr Harbans Singh Garcha, Congress municipal councillor from ward number 3, was today elected president of the Sangrur Municipal Council.

Mr Manpreet Singh Chhatwal, SDM, Sangrur, said Mr Garcha, Mr Vinod Kumar Shammi and Mr Sajjan Ram had been elected the president, the senior vice-president and the junior vice-president, respectively, of the council.

Meanwhile, elections to the posts of president and vice-president of the Bhawanigarh Municipal Council were today postponed on administrative grounds. Now, these elections will be held on March 25 at Bhawanigarh, 22 km from here, according to an information provided by the SDM's office. Out of the 13 municipal councillors 10 reportedly belong to the SAD who had contested and won the recently held municipal elections under the leadership of Mr Parkash Chand Garg, member, SAD working committee.

Talking to TNS Mr Garg, alleged that the official machinery was compelling families of SAD councillors to shift their loyalty to the Congress so that the party could impose a president of its choice. Mr Manpreet Singh Chhatwal, SDM, Sangrur, refuted the allegation levelled by Mr Garg.

Barnala: Mr Makhan Sharma, former president of the local unit of the Barnala Congress was elected President of the Barnala Municipal Council today.

The election of Mr Sharma as Barnala Municipal Council Chief took place smoothly in the local Municipal Council office under the supervision of Mr N.S. Walia, SD, Barnala. Mr Ravinder Singh Dhillon was elected the vice-president of the municipal council. Although no political party got clear cut majority of 14 votes, in the MC, yet Mr Sharma succeeded in becoming chief of the municipal council.

Phillaur: The Congress has succeeded in capturing key posts in Nagal Council, Phillaur. Mr Narinder Goyal of the Congress was unanimously elected president of the Nagar Council today. The SDM, Mr Sandeep Hans, administered the oath to all elected 15 councillors at a special meeting of the council. Mr Raj Kumar (Ward 1), proposed the name of Narinder Goyal for the post of president, which was seconded by Rajesh Kumar, councillor from Ward Number 4, and Mr Goyal was declared president unanimously. The SDM told this correspondent that Jaspaul, councillor from Ward Number 12, had been elected senior vice-president and Jeet Paul (Ward 3) had been elected junior vice-president unanimously.

LEHRAGAGA (SUNAM): Mr Kahan Chand was elected president of the Lehragaga Municipal Council at a meeting held at Lehragaga, 26 km from Sunam today. Mr Rahul Tiwari, SDM, Moonak, who supervised the election said Mr Kahan Chand had been elected unanimously while Mr Gurlal Singh and Mr Bhajna Ram had been elected senior vice-president and junior vice-president, respectively. In the senior vice-president elections of the council Mr Gurlal Singh defeated his nearest rival Mr Bhajna Ram by a margin of only one vote.


Bassi Pathana MC chief elected
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 21
Mrs Amita Tangri, wife of senior Congress leader Mr O.P. Tangri, was unanimously elected president of the Municipal Council, Bassi Pathana, at an election meeting held at the Council office today.

Mr Vivek Vicky, independent councillor, was also elected Senior Vice President unanimously.

The election meeting was presided over by Mr Rakha Singh Jangu, SDM, Bassi Pathana. He administered the oath to the elected 13 councillors and then started the election proceedings. Mr Jangu said that all the councillors and Dr Harbans Lal, Minister for Forest, attended the meeting.

The Congress had won seven of 13 seats in the council. Certain Congress councillors staked their claim for the post of president. Dr Harbans Lal worked out consensus to give the post of president to the Congress councillor and the post of senior-vice presidents to opposition councillors.

It is learnt that the consensus firmed up at a picnic organised by Dr Lal. Ten of the 13 councillors joined in the picnic.


Sunam MC chief’s post goes to Cong
Our Correspondent

Sunam, March 21
Ms Geeta Sharma of the (Congress) was yesterday elected president of Municipal Council with the help of four Congress Municipal Councillors six independents and the SAD MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa. Her own (Cong) party’s seven Municipal Councillors cold not take part in the election as they reportedly reached at the election venue after the concluding of the elections to the post of president and senior vice-president of the Sunam Municipal Council, Mr Parminder Singh Gill SDM Sunam supervised the elections.

Mr Parminder Singh Jarj an Independent Municipal Councillor was elected senior vice-president of the Council.

Mr Parminder Singh Gill SDM Sunam said that he started the election process at 4 pm as per the election schedule and Ms Geeta Sharma and Mr Parimder Singh Jarj were elected president and senior vice-president, respectively, of the council till 4.25 pm while the seven other Congress Municipal Councillors alongwith two Independent Municipal Councillors entered the committee room after the completion of election process. The SDM declined to entertain the nine Municipal Councillors including seven Congress Municipal Council for the election. Then they along with their supporters came out of the Municipal Council office and left the MC premises raising slogans against the administration.


BJP’s executive to meet in Indore
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, March 21
The two-day national executive meeting of the BJP to be held in Indore on April 4 will dwell on the recent poll debacles besides finalising the strategy for Assembly elections in Rajasthan, Delhi, Madhya Pradesh and Chhatisgarh. Besides this, the national executive of the BJYM will meet at Jaipur on April 24-25 to decide on initiatives to be taken to address youth related issues, particularly unemployment. This was stated by national BJYM president G. Krishna Reddy while addressing party activists at a sammelan here today.

Talking to TNS, he said the party was emphasising on unity among the state units so that it could present a cohesive front before the people. Besides this, organisational matters would be discussed at Indore and the schedule for zila unit elections would also be finalised.

Commenting on the activities of the morcha, he said the unit would create public awareness about the inter-linking of the river issue.

Mr Reddy said the project had come in for criticism from certain quarters who feel that it would compromise the riparian rights of the states. “It is not so. Only the excess waters of the rivers will be taken and diverted to the states reeling under the drought. We are committed to create awareness and will also rope in the NGOs working in various water shed management programmes across the country for this purpose,” he stressed.

He also said the party would also highlight the effects of terrorism and for this purpose a photo exhibition would be held at Jaipur on March 24. As many as 300 photographs from more than 30 countries affected by terrorism had been selected for exhibition, he said.

He also revealed that the government would release 1.10 lakh PCOs for villages across the country by December.

The sammelan was a lacklusture affair with a large section of the audience comprising migrants and the elderly. A section of the crowd moving out even before the chief guests address.


Gold-plating work at Golden Temple begins
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 21
Gold-plating of interiors in the sanctum sanctorum of the Golden Temple started here today. The restoration work would also involve ‘nakkashi' work besides “meenakari” and inlay work by Birmingham based Guru Nanak Nishkam Sevak Jatha led by Mahinder Singh.

The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee (SGPC) handed over the ‘seva’ which is scheduled to be completed by July 2004 in time before the fourth centenary celebrations of “parkash utsav’ of Guru Granth Sahib. The ‘seva’ was symbolically started here and deferred for a few days in the wake of the visit of the President, Dr APJ Abdul Kalam, here on Sunday.

The SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, while handling over the work to the UK-based jatha said the concept of service or ‘seva’ is vital to Sikh ethos, and member of the jatha were fortune become a part of the ‘seva’.

He said each visitor, pilgrim is enveloped in the peaceful, soothing and spiritual environs of the Golden Temple and its art splendour too is unsurpassed.

However, art lovers, Sikh intellectuals and historians here feel that the gold-plating suggested for interiors may mar the unique an a tiquity of the Golden Temple and may also spoil chances to project it as an antique. Especially so in view of the stark gold-plating which started here today deeply contrasting with the dull gold effect and patina” of the antique art work. The forthcoming inspection by UNESCO staff to declare the Golden Temple as a world heritage site in 2005 may project a very different look from the ancient and traditional art work presented in its dossier for approval contend intellectuals unwilling to be named.


Vedanti had offered to quit, says Manjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht and Prof Manjit Singh, former Jathedar had offered their resignations to the SGPC chief many times in the past.

This was disclosed in a letter faxed to Prof Manjit Singh to the Akal Takht secretariat, here today. In his letter addressed to Jathedar Vedanti, Prof Manjit Singh disclosed that he (Jathedar Vedanti) himself knew that he had offered to step down as jathedar of Akal Takht and Keshgarh Sahib many times in the past. Prof Manjit Singh said that the SGPC had failed to submit the charges in writing either to the executive committee or Sikh Sangat’ against him on the basis of which he was removed as Jathedar Keshgarh Sahib. He urged Jathedar Vedanti to make the charges (against him) public to clear confusion in the mind of the ‘Sangat’. He said such an effort on the part of Akal Takht would help maintain dignity of the Sikh clergy too. He, however, expressed dismay that Jathedar Vedanti had not made any efforts in this regard so far. He said Sikh masses were awaiting a word from Akal Takht against the alleged abuse of power by the SGPC chief.


Calendar to be effective by Baisakhi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 21
Even as the panel on the Nanakshahi calendar yesterday decided to submit the final draft of the calendar, authored by Canada-based Sikh scholar Pal Singh Purewal, by March 28, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar announced that it would be implemented by Baisakhi (April 14).

Earlier, Sikh scholar belonging to different schools of thought had urged Giani Joginder Singh Vendanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, not to show haste while implementing the calendar. The scholar had also expressed divergent views on the implementation of the calendar at a seminar presided over by Jathedar Vedanti.

However, the panel on the calendar decided to celebrate Gurpurbs on fixed dates on the basis of the Nanakshahi calendar while a five-member committee has been constituted to take final decisions on “controversial dates” in Sikh history.


SSP summoned in disappearance case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
Mystery surrounding the disappearance of a Mansa district resident’s minor daughter trudged towards a solution with a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court directing the Senior Superintendent of Police to be present in the Court, along with the relevant record.

Apprehending murder or forced prostitution, besides the existence of human trafficking racket, her father Jangir Singh had earlier moved the High Court seeking directions to the state of Punjab and Mansa’s SSP for handing over the probe to the Central Bureau of Investigation “so that the true facts may come to light”. The case will now come up for further hearing on March 27.

In his petition, the father — a farmer of Lohgarh village — had claimed that the family had gone off to sleep on August 31 last year, but found 16-year-old Arshdeep missing from her cot in the morning. All attempt to trace her had proved futile.

He had added that a first information report was registered after the matter was reported to the police on September 23 last year under Sections 363, 366 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. Accused in the case were also arrested, but the police failed to recover the alleged victim.

Counsel for the petitioner had submitted that the accused were members of a gang involved in selling village girls for flesh trade. Chances were that the girl had been sold off, or might have been killed.

He had added that the petitioner had even contacted the Senior Superintendent of Police and had prayed for his daughter’s recovery. An application was also submitted, but the SSP expressed his inability after stating that the accused were related to “influential leaders of the ruling party” and could not be interrogated for recovering the petitioner’s daughter .

Counsel had asserted that the petitioner had been moving from pillar to post in search of justice but to no effect. Challan had been submitted showing that the police was favouring the accused. The involvement of the respondents and the Mansa police in the racket of kidnapping and selling girls was also evident, counsel had concluded.

After hearing the arguments in the case, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi and Mr Justice N.K. Sud, also stayed “proceedings before Mansa’s Chief Judicial Magistrate”.


Subway gets MC’s approval
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 21
The Patiala Municipal Corporation yesterday passed a proposal to construct an underground subway near the bus-stand to remove traffic congestion in the area besides deciding to allow submission of water, sewerage and house tax bills through banks.

These proposals were passed at a meeting of the General House of the corporation, here yesterday. The subway project has been cleared on the persistent demand of the people.

Mayor Vishnu Sharma pointed out that a number of accidents were occurring near the traffic lights close to the bus-stand due to which the necessity of constructing a subway in the area was felt. He said the PWD would be approached for the clearance of the project.

The corporation has decided to allow the submission of water, sewerage and house tax bills in banks to bring in more efficiency. With this the work load on the corporation staff will reduce. This would also ease out rush at the corporation office where a large number of people used to came regularly for submission of these bills.

The General House also decided to reconstitute the Mohalla Sudhar Committees in all wards of the corporation. The committees which had been formed during the Akali - BJP regime had been dissolved earlier on the alleged complaints that they were not being managed properly. Now, the municipal councillors will be made in charge of the Sudhar Committees which will be given the powers to recruit private sweepers who will be partly paid by the corporation to ensure proper cleanliness in all the wards. Besides, the General House allowed the recruitment of retired Tehsildars and Patwaris to advise the corporation on land matters particularly with regard to the detection and development of municipal land in the city.

The corporation meeting saw Independent councillors Narinder Singh Chandok and Rachpal Singh protesting against the delay in calling of meeting. The independent councillors pointed out that the meeting had been called after nearly four months, even as it is to be held every month.

At another meeting of the corporation, the budget of the MC worth Rs 32.30 crore was passed. Later, while talking to mediapersons, the Mayor said he would look into the reasons why five of the nine departments of the corporation could not register an increase as compared to the last year. This year the corporation has projected a revenue of Rs 14.50 crore from Octroi collection, Rs 4.50 crore from House Tax, Rs 3 crore from Excise Duty, Rs 20 lakh from Rent, Rs 2.5 crore from Building Application Fee, Rs 5.50 crore from Water Supply and Sewerage and Rs 60 lakh from other miscellaneous charges.

A third meeting of the corporation also constituted three sub-committees on Water and Sewerage, House Tax Assessment and Buildings and Roads.



Jaundice spreads, 150 taken ill
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 21
Jaundice has broken out in the district, including the Mansa city. According to reports more than 500 persons are suffering from the disease although the official sources claimed the number of patients to be around 150.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, visited the affected areas of the city last evening and issued directions to the district health authorities to take immediate measures to control the disease. Mr Ahluwalia said medical tests of all victims should be conducted immediately for which payment would be made from the district unit of the Indian Red Cross Society.

The root cause of the disease is said to be contaminated water as the water supplied from the water works is mixed with sullage due to leakage of pipes.

Only one patient, Kirpal Singh of Khiala Khurd village is undergoing treatment at the Civil Hospital, Mansa, while more than 100 patients have been admitted in private nursing homes here and some of the patients have been taken to hospitals in Ludhiana and Patiala. A team of doctors is conducting door-to-door check to find out the patients suffering from the disease. The District Health Officer, Mansa, Mr Rajput, has taken eight samples of water supplied by the water works, including one of the underground water. Chlorine tablets are being distributed and people have been advised to drink boiled water. 


Guru Ki Kashi to have 3 liquor shops
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, March 21
The state Excise and Taxation authorities have decided to open three liquor shops in this holy town from April 1, 2003. Official sources said auction for country liquor shops was held in Bathinda town where senior Excise and Taxation officials were also present.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), claimed that three country-made liquor shops would be opened in the town in the pockets out of “Lal Lakir”, certain religious leaders alleged that it was Congress government’s move to hurt Sikh sentiments.

Excise and Taxation officials pointed out that they were bound to implement the Excise policy of the government. They said the government has approved the opening of liquor shop, in this holy city, and they had to hold an auction for it. They added that the government had taken this step to solve problem of falling revenue of liquor shops in other parts of the Bathinda district. The permission of the district administration was also taken by the Excise and Taxation authorities for opening the liquor shops.

The three places where the Excise and Taxation Department had decided to open liquor shops and for which the auction was held today, were at stone’s throw from Takht Damdama Sahib, the fifth Takht of Sikhs where the 10th Sikh Guru Gobind Singh compiled the Adi-Garanth and named the town as Guru-Ki-Kashi (seat of learning). Earlier, there used to be no liquor shops in a few km from Takht Damdama Sahib to maintain the sanctity of place. Apart from this town, the then government has also banned the opening of liquor shops in the walled city of Amritsar and in the Municipal limits of Muktsar town by declaring these as holy cities.

Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Acting Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib and Mr Bharpur Singh, manager, Takht Damdama Sahib, threatened an agitation against the move of the Congress government to breach the sanctity of Sikh religious places and hurting the sentiments of the Sikh community.

Mr Bharpur Singh added that Sikh sangat would demolish such liquor shops whenever the Congress government tried to set up these in this holy city.


Woman MLA takes on bureaucracy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Congress MLA from Malerkotla, Ms Razia Sultana, today lambasted the bureaucracy and urged her elected colleagues to show it its proper place in a democratic government.

Speaking in Urdu from a prepared text on the Governor's Address in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Ms Sultana was heard with attention as she went on to lambast the bureaucracy which, she said, must be bridled. Unfortunately, the bureuacracy was neither accountable nor dependable, as it owed allegiance to none and was quick to switch loyalties and sides once it realised that ''kursi'' of a politician was about to topple.

A politician faced a test at every turn in his/her career while a bureaucrat passes just one examination and enjoys power for life without accountability.

She cautioned Capt. Amarinder Singh, saying that he should draw lessons from the experience of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who had suffered at the hands of bureaucrats. She compared the bureaucracy to a horse — ''The more you use the whip and tighten hold on the bridle, the better it obeys and functions''.

She said the Governor's Address was silent on giving protection and working for the prosperity and progress of the minority communities, Muslims and Christians, in Punjab.

Having a dig at Agriculture Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Ms Sultana said she should give up her personal fights and work for the cause of women. Others who spoke on the Governor's Address included Mr Surinder Singla and Mr Sucha Singh Chottepur.


Clemency for Bhullar: Sikh bodies to demonstrate
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 21
A “joint defence committee” of Sikh organisations seeking pardon for Davinder Singh Bhullar announced a demonstration near the Parliament House in Delhi on March 30. The demonstrators would assemble at Bangla Sahib Gurdwara before proceeding to the Parliament House, source said.

The “defence committee” members met Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee president Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar here yesterday to draw up plans for the demonstration. Amongst those who met the SGPC chief were Mr B.S. Gill coordinator of committee and three secretaries namely Mr Amrik Singh Muktsar, Mr Narain Singh, Surinder Pal Singh. Posters and handbills have been printed and are being distributed with the help of various Sikh organisations, federation workers, the Damdami Taksal, Akali Dal workers and others. The posters for the demonstration are issued by the SGPC and besides other Sikh organisations. The posters read calls and appeals by supporters of democracy in the world and democratic countries in favour of the release of Davinder Pal Singh have been ignored despite Sikh sentiments. Indian law agencies have been tarnished by such decisions (death sentence) that has shaken the trust of minorities.” It mentioned the ‘clean chit’ to anti-Sikh riot accused Mr Jagdish Tytler.

Mr Narain Singh informed that one jatha from the holy city would be led by Baba Thakur Singh of the Damdami Taksal. It would proceed to Delhi after Ardas at Akal Takht on March 29.


Implement 85th Amendment’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
The Punjab unit of the Confederation of SC/BC/ST Organisations has urged the state government to implement the 85th Constitutional Amendment.

Mr Hans Singh, state general secretary of the association, said during a meeting here yesterday the state government was disrespecting the decision of Parliament by not implementing the 85th Amendment.

He said when the amendment was passed, the Congress was also in favour of giving some benefits to the members of the reserved categories through the amendment. He alleged the Congress in Punjab was not implementing the amendment.

Members of the Ambedkar Mission Club and Ambedkar Students Mission also participated in the meeting.


Christian leaders’ assurance to Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 21
The Catholic Brotherhood, a body formed by the Catholic Bishop Dr. Symphorian Keeprath with the objective of clearing any misunderstanding between the Sikhs and the Christians, has assured Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti that the Christians are ready for an inter-religious dialogue on the issue of conversion and cooperate with any enquiry instituted by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).

The Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar has also categorically denied allegations that there are 12,9000 missionaries in Punjab, besides clarifying that the building of new churches does not mean forming a new community or to effect conversons.

A delegation led by Father Michael Ani and comprising Mr Shamau Yousaf Sandhu, Father Kurian C.M. and Father Franco M, met the Jathedar at Amritsar yesterday and discussed conversion reports which were creating “disharmony” between the two communities.

The members of the delegation clarified that contrary to allegations there were only 113 Catholic priests, 500 sisters and 150 Catechists who were engaged in education, health care and other such humanitarian activities all over Punjab. It further maintained that allegations that churches were being built in schools were false and it was rather the other way round as schools, hospitals and dispensaries were built over lands belonging to different churches.

Father Franco said a meeting of different denominations such as Anglican Church, the Church of North India, the Methodist Church and Catholic Church was also held where stress was laid on the unity and communal harmony among the communities through an inter-religious dialogue.


Exempt medicines from taxes’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
Even as the state government is preparing to implement the Value Added Tax (VAT) the Punjab Chemists Association has demanded that the medicines should be exempted from all types of taxes.

Mr R.D. Gupta, president of the association, said here today while the association had been demanding that the medicines should be free from all types of taxes, the decision to put the same under VAT was unfortunate. Mr Gupta said the national body of chemists had also opposed the VAT on medicines and had unanimously decided to observe a one-day strike on March 25.


Judge inspects dist courts
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 21
Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill of the Punjab and Haryana High Court arrived here yesterday on a three-day annual inspection of the district courts.

Mr Justice Gill was received by Mr Gurdev Singh, District and Sessions Judge, Mr Zora Singh, Mr R.K. Berry and Mrs Sukhwinder Kaur, Additional District and Sessions Judges, Mr S.S. Dhaliwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Ashok Kumar Sabharwal president of the District Bar Association, Mr Sumandeep Singh Dhaliwal, general secretary of the District Bar Association, Mr G.K. Sabharwal, Additional Deputy Commissioner.


Man killed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
A 40-year-old man was killed when he accidentally fell from a moving train near Katarsinghwala village on the Bathinda-Delhi track about 27 km from here on Thursday night. The deceased could not be identified. Post-mortem was conducted at the Civil Hospital. 


57 supervisors suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 21
The Punjab Government today suspended 57 teachers who had been put on duty as superintendents, deputy superintendents and invigilators to conduct the annual examination of matriculation and plus 2 classes.

They had not only failed to stop en masse copying at their centres but a number of them had allegedly played an active role in promoting this evil. The suspension order had been issued on the direction of Education Minister Khushal Behal.


347 cr for wasteland development
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, March 21
The district would get Rs 347.33 crore under the Integrated Wasteland Development Project.

This was stated by Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, during a workshop convened today by the District Rural Development Agency. The workshop was convened by the departments concerned to chalk out a strategy for the success of the project. She said out of the amount sanctioned for the project Rs 318.20 crore would be given by the Central Government while the state government would give rest of the amount.

The amount would be spent for the development of 5,560 hectares belonging to panchayats, ‘shamlats’ and individuals.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, ADC, said village level committees would be formed for the implementation of the project. He added that each committee would have 12 members and out of these one third would be women and one fourth would be from Scheduled Castes.


Liquor vends fetch Rs 3.5 cr less
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
Liquor vends in the district will generate Rs 3.5 crore less in the next financial year as compared to the current financial year.

The auction of liquor vends in Moga, Mansa and Bathinda district was held here today. The contract for vends in this district was allotted for Rs 54.41 crore for the next financial year. However, the contract for the current financial year was for Rs 57.94 crore. The contracts for Moga and Mansa districts were allotted for Rs 41.42 crore and 26.95 crore, respectively, for next financial year. The vends in these districts had fetched the same amount this year.

The auction went off smoothly and was over in a few minutes. Some of the contractors alleged that the auction was not fair. The authorities concerned, however, refuted the allegations.

Mr A.K. Dubey, Financial Commissioner, Taxation supervised the auction.


Man killed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 21
A 40-year-old man was killed when he accidentally fell from a moving train near Katarsinghwala village on the Bathinda-Delhi track about 27 km from here on Thursday night. The deceased could not be identified. Post-mortem was conducted at the Civil Hospital. 


NFL employees protest against school fee hike
Tribune News Service

Ropar, March 21
Employees of the Nangal unit of the National Fertilisers Ltd (NFL) today held a rally at the Plant gate to protest against withdrawal of certain facilities.

Union leaders addressing the rally alleged that the management had increased tuition fee for employees’ wards in the schools run by the company. The fee had been increased from Rs 50 per month to Rs 450 per month they alleged.

The schools of the company were the only good institutions in the Nangal area. By increasing the fee the management wanted to exploit the employees they said.

Besides increasing the fee the management has also curtailed medical facilities for the dependents of the employees. By amending medical rules, the management excluded sisters, widow sisters, minor brothers and disabled sons, brothers and sisters of the employees from getting the medical benefits. Medical benefits for the parents of the employees have also been reduced to 80 per cent.

Mr G.L. Khera president of the Nangal Khad Factory Mazdoor Dal alleged that medical rules of the NFL were on pattern on the Central government rules. Central government has not effected any change in the medical rules for its employees. The NFL management unilaterally decided to do it.

The Chief Personnel Manager and the spokesperson of the Nangal unit of the NFL Mr Wadhwa said that the decision to increase the tuition fee in company schools had been taken to reduce the ever-increasing establishment expenditure. The company spends Rs 2.5 crore annually on its two schools based at Nanagal. The management has decided to increase the fee to retrieve at least a portion of the amount company spends on schools. The company has decided against running the schools in future to cut on establishment expenditure. Interested parties have been approached to run the schools of the company, he said.

On the medical facilities he said the company rules had nothing to do with the rules of the Central government. 


Babus, leaders blamed for downfall
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 21
A two-day national seminar on politico — administrative system of Punjab organised in Punjabi University yesterday saw all major speakers holding starkly divergent views on the reason for the “complete downfall” in the ruling system in Punjab. While Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai held politicians responsible for this, the chief guest and Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Fiscal Reforms, Mr Surinder Singla, said bureaucrats were equally to blame. A renowned scholar, Prof S.P. Verma, highlighted the need for basic amenities like education, health and social welfare to the common man.

Mr Boparai, a former bureaucrat, tried to trace the degeneration of Punjab’s politician from the post-Independence era to the present times. He said politicians had corrupted the system by not allowing delegation of authority to the administration.

Mr Singla said it was wrong to blame politicians alone for the rot that had taken place in society. He said whereas politicians had a definite time and could be rejected by the people if they did not deliver the goods, there was not a single case of any bureaucrat resigning on failing to deliver.

Earlier, Mr Singla spoke on how certain vested interests had corrupted the politico-administrative system in the state ignoring the interests of the common man.

In his keynote address, Prof S.P. Verma of the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, discussed certain vital aspects of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation in the development of the country.

Earlier, Dr Harbans Pathak, Head of the Department, while welcoming the guests and delegates introduced the theme of the seminar. He said 52 delegates from various universities participated in the seminar.


New policy to benefit ITI students
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 21
The state government has formulated a new policy for the benefit of students of the industrial training institutes (ITI) under different self employment schemes in the state. Under the plan a loan of Rs 10,000 to 25 lakh will be advanced by the different nationalised banks to the applicants in this regard. In addition to this the government will give a subsidy of 25 per cent to 30 per cent on the total sharing 5 and 10 per cent principal amount by the aspirants of the general and scheduled categories. The bank will charge the rate of interest after deducting the subsidy amount. However, the beneficiaries could avail of the subsidy opportunity only after the setting up of the unit after two years. This was stated by Mr A.K. Garg, Assistant Director, Khadi and Village Industries (KVI) State Commission, at a people’s education programme seminar organised by the state unit of KVI at the local ITI today.

He said the interested youths would be free to opt for any type of profession except the projects likely to cause environmental problems. He added that the beneficiaries would also be imparted three-day training in their respective professions by the senior officers of KVI before starting the project.

The loanees who will avail the loan of more than Rs 10 lakh will be entitled only for 10 per cent subsidy, clarified the Assistant Director.

Initially the eight ITIs, including those at Patiala, Malerkotla, Kapurthala, Faridkot, Moga, Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Garhshanker have been selected to accelerate the programme in the next three months. Under another programme the government has also decided to promote organic farming, vermiculture, biomanure and biogas plant projects in the rural as well as the urban areas. 


Exam centres shifted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 21
Resentment prevails among 600 students, including 500 girls of BA IIIrd year degree course of Punjabi University, Patiala, as their examination centres have been shifted from their home towns to the nearby colleges of the district. The students of Mata Gujri Saravhitkari Girls College, Sardulgarh and N.M. College, Maur, will now have to sit in examination at S.D. Kanya Mahavidyalia, Mansa.

Similarly about 250 students, including 150 girls of a private college at Bareta, have also been ordered to sit in the examination at Guru Nanak College, Budhlada just a few days before the start of the annual examination. The parents of girl students feel insecure as their wards will have to travel about 45 km to go to Mansa from Sardulgarh and 30 km from Maur to Mansa and from Bareta to Budhlada. Sources say the university had discontinued the examination centres of 13 private colleges as the complaints to mass copying were received from such centres.


PCCTU seeks meeting with govt on March 24
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 21
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union today sought the intervention of the Chief Secretary for ending the impasse and grant an appointment for a meeting on March 24 to resolve the crisis.

In a fax sent to the Chief Secretary today, the PCCTU general secretary V.K. Tewari regretted that the Cabinet sub-committee meeting, fixed for March 20 to resolve the issue of grants to non-government colleges, could not take place.

The union cannot wait beyond March 24, the day Budget would be presented, pleaded Dr Tewari in his letter.

Even officials had stressed for a decision before the Budget and admitted that restoration of 95 per cent grant and withdrawal of 10 per cent annual cut was a poll promise, claimed Mr Tewari.


PSPC stir
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 21
Patron of the Punjab State Pensioner's Confederation (PSPC) Avtar Singh Afat said here today the confederation had called off its strike to be held on March 22, as it had received written invitation from the state Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, to meet him on April 7 regarding their demands.

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