Thursday, March 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Speaker asks ministers to satisfy legislators
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Punjab Speaker Kewal Krishan today had to again postpone questions related to the Department of Forests as the Minister of State, Dr Harbans Lal, did not give satisfactory replies to the questions. At one stage, Dr Kewal Krishan told the minister, “When I am not satisfied with the answer, how can the member be satisfied”. Dr Harbans Lal was avoiding giving straight answers to some awkward questions put by Mr Tikshan Sud, (BJP) and Mr Bir Devinder Singh (Cong).

On another occasion, the Speaker asked the Minister for Social Security and Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, as to what prevented him from reading out the answers rather than saying every time that the same had been placed on the table of the House.

Taking a grim view of the “talking” among themselves, Dr Kewal Krishan pulled up the members for not listening when a member was speaking on a subject. He also asked the members to sit properly rather than turn around and lean over to talk to colleagues sitting behind them.

To most of the supplementary questions from a cross-section of the members, the ministers were invariably heard giving a crisp answer: “submit a separate question”. Piqued at this attitude of the ministers, the Speaker intervened to remind the ministers that the supplementaries were related to the main question and proper answers should be given to the members rather than evading the same.

A majority of the questions today related to the deteriorated condition of roads in the state with the Minister in charge of PWD, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, giving replies. At one stage, he called for cooperation of the Akalis, a partner in the NDA Government. Mr Bajwa made this remark when he gave details of the 14 road projects submitted to the Union Ministry of Surface Transport and the “lukewarm” response from the minister despite several meetings and requests to him to sanction the same.

During “zero hour”, several Akali members were on their feet trying to catch the attention of the Speaker. They all wanted to speak on the incidents of rioting in the municipal elections at several places and raise the issue of reports and pictures that appeared.

Dr Kewal Krishan said since a substantive motion on lawlessness during the municipal elections had been received by him and the same was being examined, appropriate time would be allotted. When some Akali members insisted on raising the issue, he said they could do so while speaking on the Budget. When not allowed to have their say on law and order during “zero hour”, the BJP members walked out of the House.


Cong rebel is nagar council chief
Tribune Reporters & UNI

Jalandhar, March 26
Infighting in the Congress came to the fore in the Noormahal Nagar Council elections with the rebel Congress man being elected as President with the support of the SAD, the BJP, the CPM and the BSP (K) on Wednesday.

According to reports reaching here, Mr Phuman Ram, a rebel Congress man, received eight votes to win the President’s post against his Congress rival who received six votes in the 14-member council, Mrs Sukhminder Kaur of the SAD was elected the Senior Vice-President defeating her Congress rival by two votes. The Congress had to be content with the post of Vice-President which went to Mr Mathura Dass.

In the Nakodar Nagar Council poll, Congress candidate Brij Bhushan Sharma and Mrs Agyawati were elected unopposed as President and Vice-President, respectively, even as one BSP (K) and the four SAD members in the 21-member council staged a walkout.

GURDASPUR: Mr Swami Paul and Mr Surinder Paul, both of the Congress have been elected President and Vice-President of the Srihargobindpur Municipal Committee. The Subdivisional Magistrate of Batala was the presiding officer.

The municipal committee has a total of 10 municipal commissioners, including entitlement of vote to Capt Balbir Singh Bath, who represents the Srihargobindpur Assembly constituency. The Congress had five municipal commissioners and four Independents, all former Congress men.

FARIDKOT: Mr Mohan Singh Matta, Mr Harnek Singh Channi and Mrs Sushma Kataria, all Congress councillors, were unanimously elected President, Senior Vice-President and Vice-President, respectively, in the Kot Kapura Nagar council elections held on Wednesday. Meanwhile, 12 municipal councillors, including SAD MLA Mantar Singh Brar, have charged the district administration with playing a partisan role in the victory of the Congress nominees.

HOSHIARPUR: At a meeting of newly elected municipal councillors of the Dasuya Municipal Council on Tuesday, Mr Parminder Bittu was elected President of the council, and Mrs Charanjit Kaur, Vice-President. Both belong to the Congress.

MANSA: Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu and Ms Palwinder Kaur were elected as the President and Vice-President, respectively, of the Sardulgarh Nagar Panchayat on Tuesday. Mr Mohan Lal, local District Transport Officer, supervised the election. Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, SAD MLA, Sardulgarh who is also an ex-officio member of the nagar panchayat, attended the election meeting. Earlier on March 22, the election was postponed as Mr Sukhminder Singh, Assistant Commissioner (Grievances) here, could not attend the meeting on account of illness.

TARN TARAN: Mr J.K. Sood of the Congress was elected President of the local municipal council on Tuesday.


Cong men assaulted SAD councillor: Kairon
Our Correspondent

Patti, March 26
Shiromani Akali Dal MLA Adesh Partap Singh Kairon today alleged that the Congress used brute force to muzzle the election of the president of the municipal council, yesterday. He said that Congress activists threatened SAD member Joginder Singh to vote for their candidate, but when he resisted he was assaulted.

Meanwhile, the police registered an attempt to murder case against Akali workers Jaswant Singh Bhatia, Khushwinder Singh Bhatia and others under Sections 307, 353 of the IPC for allegedly injuring Mr Gurbant Singh, SHO, Khalra, Mr Hardip Singh, SHO, Khemkaran and nine other policemen.

Mr Kairon, while talking to The Tribune, said both parties, the SAD and the Congress, had seven elected representatives in the council and the SDM had invited all members for the election of the president in the office of the committee.

He said as an MLA of the Akali Dal, he was to vote in the favour of his party and as an Independent had been won over by the ruling party, there seemed to be a tie.

He alleged that the ruling party workers, at the instigation of the civil administration and the police detained SAD member Joginder Singh and assaulted him in the presence of the SDM who left the scene, leaving the councillor at the mercy of the Congress activists.

SAD leaders have now decided to approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission against the alleged high-handedness of the SDM and the police for “scuttling the democratic process and the violation of human rights”.

Deputy Commissioner Iqbal Singh Sidhu said no formal complaint had been received about the incident. he said a fresh date for the election of the president would be announced after receiving directives from the state Election Commission since March 25 was the last date as per the notification.

However, SDM S.K. Sabarwal, when contacted on phone, refused to divulge the details of the incident.


PSEB employees’ rallies affect power services
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, March 26
Power services were partly affected in the state following a one-day strike by Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) employees in the field areas to protest against the Haldea Committee recommendations, calling for the restructuring of the board. PSEB Chairman, Sudhir Mittal, however, claimed that the impact of the strike was almost negligible.

Complaint centres remained closed in most parts of the state, however, power services remained normal.

PSEB Employees Federation (AITUC) president Radhey Shyam, in a statement here, said employees held protest dharnas at the circle and division levels in protest against the Haldea Committee recommendations. He said the strike call had received an enthusiastic response even at the thermal and hydel plants of the board.

Mr Shyam appealed to the employees to unite against the move to restructure the PSEB. He said the government wanted to privatise the board and this would be detrimental to the interests of the employees and the consumers.

He said presently the consumers in the state were paying only Rs 2.40 per unit for domestic consumption, compared to Rs 5.50 per unit in Gujarat and Rs 4.30 per unit in Andhra Pradesh.

Mr Mittal appreciated all those who had decided to stay away from the strike. He said the call had been given by a section of the employees and the impact of the strike was almost negligible.

He said the attendance in the PSEB Secretariat, Shakti Vihar, Shakti Sadan and other offices of the board situated in Patiala had been complete. He said thermal and hydel generation plants at Ropar, Bathinda, Lehra Mohabbat, Joginder Nagar, Pathankot, Talwara and Anandpur Sahib had functioned normally.

Mr Mittal said the board had made arrangements to maintain regular power supply to its consumers. He said the strike had virtually no impact on the continuity of power supply in the state and had passed off peacefully. He said disciplinary action would be taken wherever power supply had been disrupted due to delinquency by officials.

GURDASPUR: Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Gurdaspur circle, held rallies in front of the offices of the subdivisional officers at Gurdaspur, Purana Shalla, Tibber, Dorangala, Dinanagar, Dhariwal, Kalanaur, Joura Chhattran and Kahnuwan in protest against the implementation of the recommendations of the Haldea Commission.

Cash counters at Behrampur, Purana Shalla and several other places remained closed. Rallies were held in response to a call given by the state joint action committee of the PSEB.

Mr Karnail Singh, president, Technical Services Union, PSEB, Gurdaspur circle, Mr Rewail Singh, secretary, Employees Federation, and Mr Permand Sharma, president, Linesmen Association, Gurdaspur, addressed the rallies.

The speakers opposed the privatisation of the PSEB and said the agitation would be intensified if the management tried to privatise the board.

The leaders cautioned consumers that if the recommendation was implemented, the power rates would increase.

HOSHIARPUR: On the call of various organisations of the board, PSEB employees observed a complete strike.

Mr Om Parkash, general secretary of the Punjab Ministerial Services Union of the PSEB, claimed that reports from all over the state revealed that the strike was complete.

He said employees staged massive rallies at the 132 kv sub station and the Civil Line subdivision and took out a protest march in the city, demanding immediate withdrawal of the Haldia Committee report.

ROPAR: PSEB Workers, in various parts of the district, today observed a strike against the government’s move to privatise the board. Sources said that more than 75 per cent of the employees, working in various PSEB installations in the district, participated in the strike.

The employees also held rallies in the Power Colony.

TARN TARAN: The strike by PSEB employees evoked mixed response in the area.

Mr Surinder Pal, a leader of the union, in a press statement said employees organised rallies at the office of the Deputy Chief Engineer and subdivision offices at Naushehra Pannuan, Fatehbad, Goindwal Sahib, Patti, Sursingh, Bhikhiwind and other places.

Employee leaders condemned the implementation of the recommendations of the Haldia Committee report to privatise the board.


Vat will be used to ‘harass’ traders
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
The Value Added Tax(VAT) system, which is proposed to be introduced in various parts of the country is very complicated.

Addressing a seminar on VAT and Charitable Institutions organised by the Bathinda branch of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India here today, the Chairman, High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Mr Surinder Singla pointed out that more powers and discretions for scrutiny of cases given to tax officials under the VAT system would become a tool for harassment of traders and industrialists instead of making the system of collection of tax transparent and efficient.

He pointed out that if the authorities concerned wanted to make a fool-proof system of tax collection they should formulate tax laws by involving the traders and industrialists in the process. Amber Dubey of the KPMG, consultant to the Punjab Government on VAT said that for Punjab, VAT had been designed in such a way that it would reduce the burden on the tax collecting agencies on the one hand and on the other it would make the tax administration simple and efficient.

Mr Kashmiri Lal Goyal, advocate, Mr Girish Ahuja, chartered accountant and Mr PS Kohli, an economist also spoke. A question-answer session was also held after the seminar.


3 BTF militants arrested

Tarn Taran (Amritsar), March 26
The Tarn Taran police today claimed to have arrested three militants belonging to the Bhinderwale Tigers Force (BTF), who it claimed had planned attacks on the deras of Baba Ashutosh Maharaj, head of the Divya Jyoti Jagaran Sanstahan based at Noormahal in Jalandhar district, and of Baba Bhaniarwala in Ropar district.

According to an FIR registered at the Veerowal police station, the three were arrested near Jabbowal village on March 21. However, it was only yesterday that the police disclosed their arrests.

Confirming the arrests, IGP (border range) Chander Shekhar said here today that 1.8 kg RDX, one AK-56 rifle along with two magazines and 40 live rounds, a .32 bore pistol with six live rounds were recovered from them. They were arrested while travelling in a jeep bearing a Maharashtra registration plate.

The IGP identified the arrested persons as Amarjit Singh of Jind in Haryana, Charanjit Singh of Chandipur in Maharashtra and Ajit Singh, a resident of Dhilwan Mor in Sangrur district. Interestingly, the BTF which during the peak period of militancy had its strongholds in the Tarn Taran subdivision had been wiped out after the killing of its founder chief Gurbachan Singh Manochahal in 1993 and none of its members existed.

The police claimed that the three arrested militants had confessed that they were planning to blow up the deras of Baba Ashutosh and baba Bhaniarwala and attack its followers. They had already surveyed the two deras and were lying low in view of the tight security arrangements that had been made due to the visit of the President to Amritsar on Sunday. UNI


M.Sc. (IT) paper leaked; 2 held
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 26
A case under Sections 409, 420 and 120-B of the IPC was registered in the city police station against two youths who have allegedly leaked the question paper of one of the subjects of the M.Sc. (IT) course being run by the Punjab Technical University (PTU).

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the police came to know about the incident this morning. The police seized and sealed the leaked paper and took the signature of the superintendent of the examination centre of the PTU set up at Polytechnic College, Bibiwala Road, Bathinda.

When the leaked paper was matched with the question paper, which was distributed to the students of the M.Sc. (IT) course who took the same test today, it was found to be same.

The police suspects that the higher authorities of the PTU might be involved in the leakage of the question paper.

So far, it has come to know that some unscrupulous elements had been selling the leaked question paper to students.

The police managed to get a question paper through its source. After that a case was registered around 11 a.m. and which was accordingly seen by the Judicial Magistrate concerned around 1 p.m.

The question paper was sent to the superintendent of the centre of examination at 2 p.m. and at 3.15 p.m. he gave a certificate to the police authorities that the leaked paper was similar and identical to the question paper which was distributed to the students today.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, while confirming that a paper of M.Sc. (IT) had been leaked, said two students of same courses namely — Baldeep Singh and Ravinder Singh — had been arrested by the police as they had been selling the paper.

Meanwhile, police parties were dispatched to different places from where the paper was suspected to have been leaked.


Train stopped to protest killings
Tribune Reporters and Agencies

Kapurthala, March 26
A large number of Shiv Sena activists detained the Ahmedabad-Jammu Tawi train for about an hour here on Wednesday to protest against the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pandits.

The agitators led by Shiv Sena’s local leader Jagdish Kataria did not allow the train to proceed to Jammu when it reached here this afternoon.

They were demanding imposition of the President’s rule in J&K and dismissal of the Mufti government there for its policy of being “soft with militants”.

The train was allowed to proceed only after police personnel and passengers pleaded with the agitators.

SRINAGAR: Criticising Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani’s statement assuring assistance to Kashmiri Pandits who wished to leave the valley, Jammu and Kashmir National Panthers Party today said it was an attempt to “sabotage” the process of the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits initiated by the PDP government.

“Mr Advani’s statement about the migration of the Pandits from the valley is condemnable,” state general secretary (coordination) of JKNPP H.S. Jamwal said in a statement after visiting Nadimarg village, the scene of Monday’s massacre in which 24 Kashmiri Pandits were killed.

“We view the statement as an attempt to sabotage the process of the safe return of Kashmiri Pandits to their homes initiated by the Mufti Mohammad Sayeed-led coalition government in the state,” Mr Jamwal said.

He alleged that police strength in the village was reduced prior to the incident and demanded removal of the Director-General of Police A.K. Suri.

“Twenty policemen were posted in the village and their number was reduced to nine,” he claimed.

SHIMLA: Maulana Mumtaz Ahmed Qasmi, Secretary, Jamiyat-Ulema H.P., Haryana, Punjab and UT while condemning the massacre said the killing of innocent people was against the basic teachings of Islam.

He said the jehadi terrorists had no religion and were bent upon destabilising the communal harmony of India by committing inhuman acts.

KARNAL: The District Congress Committee (Kurukshetra) on Wednesday through a resolution strongly condemned the massacre of 24 Kashmiri Pandits by the militants.

The DCC meeting, which was presided over by Mr Pawan Garg, blamed the Union Government for rise in militant incidents in Jammu and Kashmir after the taking over of the Congress supported Mufti government. It accused the Union Government of slashing down the deployment of security forces in the state for which the innocent people of J&K were suffering.

HOSHIARPUR: Members of the Anti-terrorist Front of Hoshiarpur district staged a protest rally here on Wednesday against the killing. Mr Deepak Kumar Deepa, president of the front, and other speakers demanded action against terrorists who were killing at the behest of Pakistan.

KANGRA: The All-India Hindu Mahasabha state chief along with his party workers on Wednesday handed over a packet carrying bangles, ribbon, kajal and lipstics to the Deputy Commissioner in his office for onward transmission to the Prime Minister, Mr A.B. Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, for the failure to protect Kashmiri Pandits in the valley.


Kalam Seenche Sachh’ wins DD’s zonal award
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 26
Even as “Kalam Seenche Sachh”, DD’s documentary on the life and works of eminent journalist Mr Hari Jaisingh, Editor of The Tribune, has won the zonal DD award, the achievement has added another feather in the cap of Mr Daljit Singh Sandhu, producer of the documentary, who has earned a number of laurels for producing a number of such documentaries, including the on the life of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, which was also appreciated by a number of connoisseurs including late Dr M.S. Randhawa.

“Kalam Seenche Sachh,” the script of which was written by well-known journalist and a former Director (Training) of The Tribune Mr Jaswant Singh, was adjudged the best by the award committee of the Prasar Bharti, maintained Mr Daljit Singh Sandhu, himself an artist and a writer who authored “Tidkade Rishte,” a book containing four well received T.V. Plays. “Tik Tik-2001”, was the new years’ programme produced by Mr Sandhu, which bagged the first national prize for DD Jalandhar.

According to Mr Sandhu, “Kalam Seenche Sachh” was likely to be telecast on DD-National soon and he was pinning his hopes on the quality of the documentary. “Actually, I feel it is the best documentary I have ever made. For this, the credit also goes to my colleagues and the Director of the Doordarshan Jalandhar Mr Ashok Jailkhani, who inspired me to go in for such a big project,” said Mr Sandhu, who has been working with DD for past more than 20 years and who has been associated with popular programmes such as “Sham Sandhuri,” “Samachar Patrika,” “Mera Pind Mere Khet,” “Patari,” apart from a number of plays, news programmes produced by DD-Jalandhar.


Statement recorded in hijack case

Patiala, March 26
The special anti-hijacking court trying the Indian Airlines IC 814 hijacking case here today recorded the statement of Nepali CID officer and ordered defence to cross-examine the witness tomorrow.

The defence today moved another application seeking translation of the statements of witness number 111 got recorded by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The counsel contended that the said witness was a Japanese passenger who had got his statement recorded in Japanese.

The court of Mr S.N. Aggarwal issued a notice to the CBI on this application.

It also directed the CBI to file its reply by Thursday on the issue of translation of about 200 pages written in the Nepali language. The proceedings in the case would continue tomorrow.

The defence had earlier rejoinded trial proceedings in the case after 10 months in the Central Jail.

The defence had boycotted trial proceedings in the case on May 22, 2002, objecting to the shifting of trial to the Central Jail.

Out of the total 325 witnesses, statements of 109 had been recorded and the CBI had decided not to summon 52 witnesses in the trial. An Indian Airlines plane was hijacked and taken to Afghanistan on December 24, 1999. PTI


Implement POTA strictly, says Gen J.J. Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Army Training Command GOC-in-C Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh today said the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) must be ruthlessly implemented to ensure no quarter was given to terrorists and anti-national elements.

Delivering the keynote address at a two-day national seminar on the theme ‘Terrorism and India’s security’ organised by the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies at Punjabi University here, the General said identification and deportation of illegal migrants, stopping the flow of foreign funds for anti-national activities and scrutiny of foreign students admitted to educational institutions in the country, were areas which demanded immediate legislative attention.

General Singh said there was a need for a well-conceived multi-pronged comprehensive approach against terrorism. He said besides the security apparatus, people of the country must also be made aware of the security challenges being faced by them. He said this could be coupled with additional research activity in universities and creation of strategic think tanks. He said it must be understood that insurgency and terrorism were methods of proxy war being conducted between nations. He said these methods were used to achieve national goals when conventional war was not possible or desirable.

In his presidential address, Lieut-Gen (retd) Surjit Singh, who is the present Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), while touching upon certain serious issues related to terrorism and proxy war, spoke at length about the factors which were responsible for the rise of terrorism. He discussed various factors like religion, fundamentalism, socio-economic inequalities, trans-border infiltration and law and order situation in the context of rise of terrorism. The PPSC Chairman stressed the need for studying the issues which effected the rise of terrorism comprehensively, along with review of the security apparatus of the country to keep pace with the changing global scenario.

Varsity Pro-Vice-Chancellor Prof R N Pal, in his inaugural address, denounced the UN definition of terrorism. He said terrorism was not for ideological gain but for achieving limited selfish interests. He said the results of terrorism were never permanent.

Earlier welcoming the guests, Dr K S Sidhu, Head of the Department of Defence and Strategic Studies, introduced the theme of the seminar. On this occasion mementos were also presented to Lieut Gen J J Singh and Lieut Gen (retd) Surjit Singh. Dr S P S Virdi, Dean, Colleges, presented the vote of thanks.


Sikh panel extends status quo
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
In the petition challenging the removal of Prof Manjit Singh, Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib, filed by Capt Channan Singh Sidhu, president, Sikh Forum Punjab, the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) today extended the status quo on the appointment of new Jathedar by the SGPC till April 21.

The SGJC panel, headed by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti and Mr Raghbir Singh, issued fresh summons to the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, to be sent by registered post to his village and through the Secretary SGPC, Mr Harbeant Singh, since the earlier summons were not received by Prof Badungar.

In another development, Mr Harbeant Singh today authorised his counsel, Mr M.S. Gill, with a power of attorney on his behalf in the case.

Meanwhile, on the plea of counsel for the complainant, Mr Ajay Virmani, the SGJC issued directions to reply to the “miscellaneous application” impleading 16 members, including SGPC President, Vice-President, Secretary, General Secretary and 12 executive members filed by complainants under Order 1 Rule 10 and Order 6 Rule 17 of the Civil Procedure Code.


AAF clinic for ex-servicemen
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
Under the Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme (ECHS) an augmented armed forces (AAF) clinic is being set up at Military Hospital here. Col S.S. Gupta, while detailing the scheme for ex-servicemen, spouse, children and dependant parents said they would be entitled for treatment at the AAF clinic as well as reputed hospitals and diagnostic centres. The clinic will be formally inaugurated on April 1.

To avail benefits of scheme the ex-servicemen would be required to become members of scheme by making one time contribution depending on the pension drawn. Those getting pension up to Rs 3,000 would be required to contribute Rs 1,800, those getting amount up to Rs 6,000, Rs 4,800 and those getting up to Rs 10,000, Rs 8, 400. Accordingly those in the pension group of up to Rs 15,000 would pay Rs 12,000 and ex servicemen getting pension above Rs 15,000 are required to make contribution of Rs 18,000. Colonel Gupta added that further information and assistance could be obtained from station headquarters or military hospital or Zila Sainik Board Office.


152 hepatitis cases in Kurali
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
Health Minister R.C.Dogra said in the Punjab Assembly today that while 152 persons were suffering from hepatitis ‘A’ and ‘E’ in Kurali, no case of hepatitis ‘B’ had been detected there. Replying to a call-attention notice of Mr Birdevinder Singh, the minister said he had not visited the affected area so far.

Following reports of two cases of jaundice on March 14, the Civil Sugeon, Ropar, had constituted six teams which went from house to house and found 330 persons suffering from jaundice. Of them 152 were confirmed cases of hepatitis A and E. Free treatment had been given to all patients. Besides, 36,800 tablets of chlorine had been distributed for drinking water purification.

Jaundice had occurred due to contaminated water. As many as 25 samples of water, collected from various sources such as tubewells, water taps and hand pumps, had been sent for testing. Five samples had been found unfit for consumption. There were problems with drinking water in Kurali town. Sewer pipelines had created the problems and instructions had been given for their repair.



Chandigarh, March 26
Continuing with the arguments on the issue of maintainability of a petition challenging the elections of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh from Patiala assembly constituency, counsel for the petitioner on Wednesday claimed the existence of a nexus between Class I gazetted officer Bharat Inder Singh Chahal and the Chief Minister.

Arguing before Mr Justice Jasbir Singh, counsel contended that the appointment of Mr Chahal as advisor soon after the Chief Minister took over was a testimony to this effect. He added that the Chief Minister had falsely averred that he had not noticed Mr Chahal during a press conference. From the cassette produced, it was clear that Mr Chahal was present during the conference. The case will now come up for further hearing on April 2.

It may be recalled that Harkirat Singh — a voter from Patiala — had earlier alleged that the Chief Minister had used the services of Mr Chahal and the documentary evidence, appended along with the petition, proved his role beyond any shadow of doubt. He had further alleged that his role during the elections included extending hospitality to electronic and print media after contacting the journalist. The petitioner had added that Mr Chahal was, subsequently, awarded by the respondent for the services he rendered.

Bail plea

Taking up a petition filed by Punjab’s former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal seeking the grant of bail in an alleged corruption case registered against him, Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Wednesday fixed April 24 as the next date of hearing in the case.

The former minister was booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Patiala on November 23 last year under the provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the first information report, the then minister had misused his official position. During his tenure, he had given promotions to his favourites with mala fide intentions after ignoring seniority. Besides this, the former minister had “gathered movable and immovable property”.

Claiming to have been implicated in a false case, Gurdev Badal alleged that the FIR, registered to “wreck vengeance and take revenge”, was misuse and abuse of law. GIving details, counsel submitted that the former minister was 70-year-old and had been elected MLA 11 times.

Seeking the grant of bail, counsel added that the former minister had been in custody since November 23, 2002, and no useful purpose would be served by not releasing him on bail. Gurdev Badal would not tamper with the evidence, nor leave the country without the Court’s prior permission, counsel concluded.


PSEB staff protest
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 26
The strike by various employee unions of the PSEB had its impact here and about 50 per cent employees remained absent from duty.

Sources said power generation was also affected and the authorities at Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) had to reduce the plant load factor.

The sources said the strike at Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohabbat, was near complete and the staff attendance was almost negligible. However, officers on duty kept the plant operational with the help of employees of contractors.

The western zone office of the PSEB, here, had about 10 per cent staff attendance and the same was the case with the office of Chief Engineer. Officers and junior engineers remained on tenterhooks to keep the power supply regular, but some reports of disturbances were also received.

The sources said at some places, including Moga, Ferozepore, Faridkot, Muktsar and Bathinda, a large number of employees organised rallies, dharnas and raised slogans against the Congress government in the state.

At a rally held at the main gate of the GNDTP, employees criticised the decision of the government to sell off PSEB to private parties and alleged that the Haldia Committee report was solely in the interest of the buyers of the PSEB and those selling it and the interests of the consumers, the public and the employees had been bartered away.

The leaders also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, listing their demands.


Protest by pensioners
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
On a call of the Punjab Raj Pensioners Mahasangh, hundreds of Punjab pensioners today organised a protest demonstration near the Neelam Theatre in Sector 17 here to press upon the state government to withdraw its decision to distribute pensions from banks instead of government treasury.

Addressing the meeting, Mr Ajit Singh Bagri, general secretary of the mahasangh, called upon the state government to withdraw the order of the Finance Department, dated May 14, 2001, denying the benefit of dearness allowance to widow pensioners appointed in state government service on compassionate grounds. The pensioners demanded additional pension of 0.05 per cent to employees who had put in more than 33 years of service, fixed medical allowance of Rs 500, merger of the 97 per cent dearness allowance in basic pay for grant of gratuity and retirement benefits and concession in bus fares up to 50 per cent in state transport buses.

The mahasangh urged the state government to implement the recommendations of the Fourth Pay Commission. The speakers condemned the reported move of the Centre to deny pension to retirees above 75 years of age. Mr Bagri lamented that the Congress government in the state had failed to implement its promises to pensioners.

Among others, Mr Prem Sagar Sharma, Mr Dharsan Singh Kheri, Mr Parduman Singh, Mr Bharat Singh, Mr Dharam Singh and Mr Yaspal Bansal addressed the rally.

In an unanimous resolution, the protesters called upon the state government to settle the pensioners’ demands within 15 days, failing which a meeting of the state executive of the mahasangh would be convened in the second week of April to chalk out the future course of action.


Indo-UK police conference
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 26
The Punjab Police Academy (PPA), Phillaur will hold an Indo-British police conference on April 1 and 2. According to Dr G.S. Aujla, ADGP-cum-Director, PPA, the main aim of this conference would be to strengthen Anglo-Indian collaboration for identification of good practices, to create contact between the Indian and UK police for future co-operation and development, to provide a forum for professional discussion in areas of mutual interest and to identify the areas of possible future exchange in training and equipment.

The eight-member British delegation will be led by Mr Stephen Chamberlian Assistant Chief Constable. Dr G.S. Aujla will inaugurate the two-day conference.


CJM issues arrest warrants against two
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 26
Chief Judicial Magistrate Harsh Mehta issued arrest warrants today against Jatinder Singh Saggu, a former Tehsildar of Mansa, who was dismissed in the PPSC scam, and Jai Chand Parinda, a former Naib Tehsildar of Mansa, now posted at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district, as they failed to appear in the court despite being served arrest warrants on February 27.

The arrest warrants were issued against them, following a complaint by Mr Satpaul Singla, a local deed writer. According to Mr Singla, while returning from the SDM office, along with another person, on December 13, 2001, the accused and six others assaulted him as he had made some complaints against them. The court also issued arrest warrants against Jai Chand Parinda in another case.


Patiala Gymkhana gets Rs 5 lakh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 26
Patiala Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh today presented a cheque of Rs 5 lakh to the management of the local Rajindra Gymkhana and Mahindra Club.

Club President K.S. Nagra, who received the cheque assured the Deputy Commissioner that the money would be used for the overall development of the club besides improving the facilities already being offered to the members. Club secretary Deepak Kampani requested Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to cover the club scheme under which the heritage of Patiala was being projected by the Patiala Heritage Society.


12 ultrasound centres sealed

Phagwara, March 26
Twelve of the 15 ultrasound scanning centres here have been sealed by the health authorities for two days due to certain irregularities in records. The scanning machines’ operation in these centres will remain suspended temporarily for two days. If anybody was found using the machines during these days, then the licence of the centre will be suspended temporarily, warned the authorities. OC


Hearing in Sidhu case deferred

Ropar, March 26
The cross-examination of Mr Bhupjit Singh, main prosecution witness in the vigilance case against former Chairman of the PPSC Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu, was deferred for the third time today till May 9. The cross-examination of Bhupjit Singh continued in the court of Special Judge, Ropar, Mr A.S. Kathuria, today from 11 a.m. to 3.30 p.m. Later, when the councils of Sidhu failed to complete the cross-examination, the next date of hearing was fixed as May 9. OC


Dr Sareen gets police remand
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 26
The Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate today sent Dr P.K. Sareen, prime accused in the kidney scam, to two day’s police remand in the case relating to the death of donor Sudesh Kumar whose body was cremated as unidentified on July 19, 2001. Dr Sareen who was under treatment at the PGI, Chandigarh, for the past two months was brought here yesterday to appear in the Court of the CJM in the case of Sudesh Kumar.


Without salary for 3 months
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, March 26
Resentment prevails among Home Guards Jawans against the Punjab Government for not releasing their salaries for the past three months.

A spokesman for the Home Guards in a press release alleged here yesterday that state government was doing injustice with Home Guards. He demanded an increase in daily wages from Rs 90 to Rs 150, free bus travel facility and uniform allowance etc. He urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh to also release their salaries immediately.


Injured councillors demand action
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 26
Three newly-elected municipal councillors who were reportedly injured yesterday at an election meeting for the post of president, have approached the police for taking action against the accused.

According to sources, Mr Vibhuti Sharma (Congress) and Mr Joginder Sheel and Mr Vijay Kumar (both of the BJP) were injured and admitted to the local Civil Hospital.


BKU men disrupt traffic
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 26
Activists of the BKU (Ekta) disrupted traffic on the Bathinda-Barnala road at Rampura Phul, in support of the demands of PSEB employees, who are protesting against the proposed selling of the board.

The activists, lead by state general secretary of the union, Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, raised slogans against the state government and blocked traffic for about three hours.

Mr Singh alleged that the decision would affect farmers adversely due to a steep hike in power tariff. Farmer leaders, including Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district president, alleged that vested interests were selling state-owned corporations at throwaway prices.

The leaders alleged that in a majority of cases, losses incurred by corporations were not because of employees but due to the policies of the state government. They alleged that thousands of PSEB employees would be retrenched and the privatisation and selling of various government departments would benefit bureaucrats and politicians.


2 women booked for cheating

Hoshiarpur, March 26
The Tanda police has registered case under Section 420, IPC, against Rajwant Kaur and Rajinder Kaur, both residents of Basti Danishmanda, Jalandhar, for getting Rs 15 lakh from Mr Bhavan Singh, Mr Amrik Singh, Mr Beant Singh, Mr Kewal Ram and others of Dehriwal village in this district on the pretext of getting them employed in various government departments or sending them abroad.

The police has arrested Rajwant Kaur, while Rajinder Kaur is still at large. According to the police sources, both cheats posed themselves close to the Chief Minister, the Hoshiarpur SSP and many other politicians.


Students move Forum against Tata Infotech
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 26
Seven students Ramandeep Walia, Mahesh Kumar, Surinder Kumar, Jaspal Singh, Vivek Jindal, Ms Jagveer Kaur and Ms Simarjeet Kaur of the Government Nehru Memorial Postgraduate College (NMPC) here yesterday complained to the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum against Tata Infotech Education, New Delhi and its officials including its Managing Director and principal of the NMPC and sought refund of fees and Rs 2 lakh damages for each students for harassment, inconvenience, and damage to their career.

The students have alleged that they were lured by prospectus, pamphlets and brochures of the company and they paid Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 each for the computer course.

After charging the fees the company closed its centre in the college without imparting necessary coaching. The students were told by the officials of the company to attend the computer classes at Sangrur daily which was not possible for the students as they had to attend classes in the local college. The company opened two counters in colleges here and lured more than 700 students including girls of both colleges and collected crores in the name of imparting degrees in computer education.

The company abandoned both centres two months after charging the fees. the students are to left high and dry. Officials of the company are not traceable. They fled with the money of the people.

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