Tuesday, April 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



HC probe against Sub-judge
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 31
The Himachal High Court has been conducting a discreet inquiry against a Sub-judge, against whom a Jalandhar-based businessman, Mr Mohinder Vir Singh alias Lucky Singh, had made a complaint. The Sub-judge earlier, was suspended by the high court.

Mr Lucky Singh among other things had accused the Sub-judge of having developed illicit relations with his estranged wife, a practising advocate in a Himachal district.

The complaint was supported by cassettes of taped telephonic conversation between his estranged wife and the Sub-judge. He had also submitted its transcription running into hundreds of pages. The conversation, allegedly containing a lot of sleaze, also referred to several “extra-judicial” jobs and deals.

The complainant also alleged that the Sub-judge had gone abroad along with his estranged wife in December last. Mr Lucky Singh had submitted photographs of the Sub-judge and his girlfriend coming out of Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, to buttress his complaint.

Mr Lucky Singh has also filed a divorce petition in a Ludhiana Court, in which Sub-judge had been made a co-respondent along with his wife. The divorce petition has also been supported by the cassettes of telephonic talk between his wife and the sub-judge along with its transcription to support the allegation of adultery. 


DSGMC’s ‘dharam parchar’ rattles SGPC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
The turn-out on the second day of ‘Dharam Prachar Samagam’ (religious discourse function) organised by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) late last night has unnerved to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) here. The samagam concluded late last night.

The SGPC is said to have objected to the DSGMC’s function in Amritsar, after (DSGMC) chief Paramjit Singh Sarna announced the programme a fortnight ago to undertake religious discourses (Sikh dharma prachar) from “Amritsar to Kanya Kumari”.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, former SGPC chief and president of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) was an important speaker on the occasion last night. People gathered in Kabir Park from nearby border villages making the two-day event a success.

Expressing concern over the erosion of values among Sikh youth, Mr Sarna told The Tribune here today that if the SGPC chief Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, objected to his dharam prachar it made little difference to him. He said they would continue preaching to Sikh youth of Punjab who increasingly were turning away from their faith and there were reports of Sikhs embracing Christianity in the border belt of Amritsar neighbouring areas.

He said preaching Sikh values was not the exclusive right of anyone. He added that they would continue to motivate Sikh youth to religion and away from drug-addiction which is on the rise here. He said his schedule includes such discourses in Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Nagpur and other places.

Mr Tohra presence at the DSGMC’s samagam last night is being seen as a setback for the SGPC. Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, praised Mr Tohra only two days ago at the budget session of the SGPC.

The DSGMC’s chairman of ‘dharam prachar’, Mr Tarsem Singh explained that they had taken a exclusive tour of Punjab villages before the samagam. Literature, cassettes were distributed free of cost, besides ‘kirtan’ and religious discourses to motivate Sikhs to adhere to their religious values and shun apostasy.

Mr Onkar Singh Shrifpura a confidant of Mr Tohra said that the SHSAD president’s (Mr Tohra’s) prime concern was Sikh youth increasingly turning away from Sikhism.

Mr Sarna also attended the Bhog of Akhand Path at Akal Takht today organised for ‘thanksgiving’ on the recovery of Mr Tohra.

Bhog after Akhand Path held for thanksgiving on the recovery of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra president Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal was held at Akal Takht in the Golden Temple complex here today at 8.30 a.m.

None of Mr Badal’s supporters attended the ceremony.

Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, chief of the SGPC also did not attend it. He had attended Akhand Path said Mr Ranbir Singh, personal assistant to Mr Tohra.

Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti attended the ceremony. Kirtan was done by Hazoori Ragi Bhai Jaswant Singh and Ardas was performed by Giani Bhagwan Singh, head granthi.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh, Mr Harmail Singh Tohra, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra also attended the ceremony. A siropa was presented to Mr Tohra at Akal Takht by Giani Vedanti and prayed for his complete recovery.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur vice-president, SHSAD said that none from Mr Badal’s or Mr Simaranjit Singh Mann’s (president SAD(A)) side was invited for the thanksgiving Bhog ceremony.


Dalits’ boycott: SAD (A) to approach Takht
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, March 31
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has decided to approach Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to resolve the issue of alleged boycott of Dalits of Talhan village near here by members of the Jat community. Addressing a press conference here today, the general secretary of the SAD (Amritsar), Mr Gur Jatinder Pal Singh, who released the findings of inquiry committee on Talhan Gurdwara dispute, constituted by the party, said that the committee had found that the boycott of Dalits of Talhan village by some fundamentalists was still on and written instructions had been issued in this regard.

He said that it was unfortunate that there were separate gurdwaras, cremation grounds and community halls for Dalits in most parts of the state, clearly indicating the extent level of discrimination on caste basis.

Commenting upon the recent statement of some Dalit leaders to stage dharna outside the residence of AICC president Sonia Gandhi to press the Congress government for an action against the accused, he said that the BJP was trying to politicise the issue and termed it interference into the internal matters of the Sikhs.

We are going to approach Jathedar Akal Takht to resolve the issue, which can have serious repercussions on the social structure of the state, if not redressed properly,” he said.


DTOs ‘connived with gang’
Fake registration nos given to trucks, jeeps
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
The Patiala police today claimed that it had busted a gang which had made hundreds of fake registration numbers of combine harvesters, trucks and Jeeps in connivance with the district transport officers of Faridkot district in Punjab and Tohana district in Haryana.

The police has arrested five persons in this connection from the city besides seizing six combine harvesters, nine trucks and one Maruti car.

District police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal disclosed that the gang members were mostly agents who used to work in connivance with staff members as well as the DTOs of Faridkot and Tohana. While only naming the Faridkot DTO — Manmohan Luthra as well as the clerk posted under him — Amarjit Vij, the police officer said both these officials used to give a free hand to the gang members by giving them empty registration certificates which they used to fill at will. He said the role of the DTOs had come to light after interrogation of the accused.

The police officer said the gang had been able to register 260 unapproved combine harvesters. He said unapproved combine harvester companies, including Hira Agro, Nabha, N.S. Agro, Dhiman Agro, Kalsi Engineering Works, Harmit Agricultural Works, Guru Nanak Agro, Nabha, Shyam Agro, Bhadson, Panesar Agro, Handaya and Hunjan Agro, Kup Kalan were among the companies which had been able to register and sell their combine harvesters to farmers even though they were not approved companies.

Mr Umranangal said besides this the gang was adept at making false registration certificates, false permits and even false seals of particular registration authorities. He said 26 such stamps, registration copes and forms had been seized from one of the gang members — Chander Mohan, alias Bhola of Samana, who had been arrested. He said Bhola used to show trucks as free of any loan by forging papers and then resell the vehicles. He said other persons who had been arrested in the case were — Rajinder Kumar, alias Raju of Rajpura, Suresh of Ambala Cantonment and Tek Chand of Ferozepore cantonment.

He said other members of the gang including Prem Chand, alias Kala of Faridkot and Gurbachan Singh of Ganganagar had tampered with the chasis and engine number of 45 condemned jeeps and had subsequently sold them as new one by making fresh registration certificates in Ganganagar. He said both of the accused were absconding.

Mr Umranangal said the police was on the look-out for 251 combine harvesters, 45 jeeps, 35 trucks and four cars besides 10 members of the gang who were still absconding. He said a case had been registered against them under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120 (b), IPC, at the sadar police station, Patiala.


UP barons capture 55 pc Punjab liquor trade
K. S. Chawla

Ludhiana, March 31
Liquor barons from Uttar Pradesh have come to control liquor trade in Punjab due to their political clout in the ruling party of the state. According to liquor traders of Punjab nearly 55 per cent of the trade had passed into the hands of liquor contractors from UP this year auction for which concluded on March 28 at Patiala.

The Punjab Government’s policy to encourage small groups to end monopoly also failed due to domination of groups from UP in some of districts of the state. The small-time liquor traders have suffered and are silent due to alleged fear of the bigger groups.

The Punjab Government aims at earning Rs 1470 crore from liquor trade in 2003-2004. Sources close to the state Excise Department and the liquor traders say that Ludhiana is the only district in the state which earned the government maximum revenue of Rs 9 crore and major share of the trade has gone UP liquor baron Ponty Chadha. Auction of Ludhiana liquor shops fetched Rs 225 crore against Rs 206 crore last year. Of this the Ponty Chadha group secured Rs 102 crore share while Mr Amrik Singh Dhillon Congress MLA also joined him and their joint share came to Rs 150 crore. The remaining share went to the group which earlier was led by a brother of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha, a minister in the former SAD-BJP Government. Mr Dhillon left Garchas this year and joined hands with Mr Ponty Chadha. Partners of Garcha group protested and only then they could get some share, Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha has been in detention for the past four months in a case of corruption.

Mr Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, a son-in-law of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and former Excise and Taxation Minister brought Mr Ponty Chadha on the scene in Ludhiana two years ago to end monopoly of Garchas who had the support of Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Dhillon joined Garchas last year.

Amritsar District has gone to the Ponty Chadha group for Rs 108 crore at a loss of Rs 1.76 crore compared to last year’s revenue. The excise auction of Amritsar district had to be postponed twice. Finally it took place at Patiala. All old liquor contractors of Amritsar district have been forced to leave the trade and there is strong resentment among them. Similarly Jalandhar also suffered loss of over Rs 8 crore as the auction fetched Rs 125 crore against Rs 133 crore of last year. Jalandhar has also gone to the UP group. Sangrur is the only district where a small group has been accommodated and the auction shows an increase of Rs 9.90 crore this year.

The Gurdaspur district has gone to Sukh Sarkaria group at Rs 1.75 crore profit. Kapurthala has been almost on a par with last year’s revenue and has been secured by the UP group with the alleged help of a former central Congress minister. Nawanshehar and Hoshiarpur districts have also gone to another UP group of the Wadia group. The Wadia group is also reported to have secured major share of liquor trade in Haryana with alleged political help.

Excise auction at Hoshiarpur, Nawanshehr, Kapurthala and Amritsar faced problems and a committee comprising Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Mr Sardul Singh, Excise and Taxation Minister, Mr A.L. Dubey, Financial Commissioner (Taxation) and Mr Suresh Kumar, Excise and Taxation Commissioner was set up to sort these out. The committee held negotiations with different groups of liquor traders and finally the auction for these districts was held at Patiala on March 27 and March 28. However, small-time liquor traders allege that this was eyewash and major share of the trade has gone to the UP traders.

Liquor traders of Punjab are unhappy that the government has failed to break monopoly of bigger groups and the small traders are being forced out the trade gradually.

Small traders allege that the state government has deviated from the basic policy of creating small groups and ending monopoly control. Mr Suresh Kumar, Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Punjab when contacted claimed that there was an increase of Rs 20 crore in the auction money and Rs 10 crore in the duty and the target of Rs 1470 crore would be achieved. The last year’s target was Rs 1440 crore and the revenue collection was Rs 1443 crore.

Mr Suresh Kumar denied that the Government had allowed the domination of a particular group and maintained that the revenue earning had to be protected. In Sangrur district the entire liquor trade had gone to 15 small groups, he claimed.


Charges against Puar, 4 teachers maintainable
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
A court here today ruled that charges against former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Dr Joginder Singh Puar, four former senior teachers of the varsity and a tent house owner of Delhi in the Science Congress case were maintainable.

This paves the way for the framing of charges against the former Vice-Chancellor and others accused in the case presented in the local court more than three months ago.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court three months ago ordered the court of the Additional Sessions Judge here to see the documents being presented before the court before taking a final decision to frame charges against them. The accused had in a representation to the High Court appealed for the dropping of the charges against them.

The court of Additional Sessions Judge G.K. Dhir today ruled that the charges against former VC Dr J.S. Puar and then senior teachers — I.J.S. Bansal, Dr Baldev Kumar, Dr J.L. Bhanot, Dr S.S. Joshi and Gupta Tent House owner Sarwan Kumar Gupta were maintainable. The Vigilance Department had highlighted two charges in the challan presented by it. One was the hiring of Gupta Tent House for putting up tents for the Indian Science Congress in 1996 without going in for any tenders. It was also alleged by the Vigilance department that even though a varsity Committee had passed a tender of Rs 30 lakh for the tents, the tent house owner was paid a bill of Rs 32 lakh for this.

Besides this the Vigilance Department had claimed that the former Vice-Chancellor did not follow norms while recruiting lecturers. Giving an example of the appointment of seven lecturers, it had claimed that the appointments were done in an arbitrary manner without following norms.

The Vigilance Department had also accused the former Vice-Chancellor of other irregularities during his six-year stay at the helm in the University in the FIR registered against him shortly after he relinquished office. These included excess expenditure on repairs done in the Guru Tegh Bahadur Hall as well as money spent on repairing seats, excess expenditure on repair of Guru Gobind Singh Bhavan besides expenditure incurred on laying cables for telephones on the varsity campus.


Ramoowalia flays politicians
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
President of the Lok Bhalai Party Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, at a party’s rally here today criticised political leaders of the various parties for turning their parties into family affairs and making their wards succeed them on social evils in the society he said his party would work to eliminate the menace of narcotics and dowry.


A teenager talks peace
Rashmi Talwar

Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, honours Supam Sandhu
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai Party, honours Supam Sandhu after her return from Wagha in Amritsar on Monday.

Wagah (Amritsar), March 31
Supam Sandhu (15) became the “first woman” and the “first minor” to be on an anti-war mission. She pedalled her way from Ludhiana to Wagah and back to Amritsar on bicycle alone and presented a memorandum to BSF Commandant D.K. Sharma on anti-war sentiments between India and Pakistan in view of the ongoing war between Iraq and the USA at 1 pm here today.

In three days she covered nearly 200 km on bicycle to spread the message of peace which she wanted to be forwarded to Prime Minister of India Atal Behari Vajpayee and Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf. The BSF Commandant and personnel lauded her bravery and were inquisitive about her experience admired her for being young and adventurous besides being sensitive to miseries of the world during war.

In her memorandum she wrote “women and children are the worst sufferers during war. So spare us the agony of pain, loss and destruction and avoid war”.

The Tribune monitored Supam’s journey right from her home town Ludhiana to the joint check post (JCP) here via mobile phone. To a poser on ‘hazardous’ and ‘dangerous’ highway for a lone girl and that too a minor, Supam said she did not encounter even a single occasion when any one misbehaved or passed adverse comments on her. “They were interested more in the multi-language “peace message board” on the bike which caught the curiosity of many onlookers,” she explained.

Some people were so moved by her ‘daring’ for travelling on the highway all alone, that they pressed money into her hands as a ‘shagun’ for her mission. Supam’s father Mr Sukhjit Sandhu, a government employee maintained contact with his daughter throughout, even guiding her about dhabas, routes etc and taking care of her lodging.

Supam student of Class X of Kundan Vidya Mandir School Ludhiana, could cover almost 15 km an hour and pedalled for nearly four hours at a stretch to meet deadlines which were delayed barely by half an hour or so.

Recalling an incident of her three-day journey from Ludhiana via Jalandhar to Amritsar and Wagah during which many dhabawallahs and restaurant owners served her free of cost or subsidised meals. Supam said she faced heavy rain on her way and she was helped by some street urchins and rag pickers who gave her shelter in their leaking hut on the roadside and later tied her travelling bag so well with ropes that it remained steady till she reached Amritsar, for having cycled nearly two to four hours daily Supam was awarded the “Kalpana Chawla award” by the International Medical Helpline and Anti-drugs Society last month. She also toured the Malwa-Doaba belt of Punjab villages for an anti-female foeticide campaign covering 300 km in 10 days, last year. Besides her interests in various sports like athletics, volleyball and karate she scored 70 per cent marks in her recent examinations. Like a normal teenager she enjoys comedy serials and has keen interest in cricket also. Her aim in life is to become a pilot and see every nook and corner of the world with messages for humanity.


Five civic bodies fail to repay government loan
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 31
Five civic bodies, including two Municipal Corporations of state have not been repaying instalments of amount advanced to them by the Punjab government under the Shelter Upgradation Scheme, for the past seven years. The state government now has been contemplating to reduce their share of amount or decreasing their share of revenue in the Excise Duty.

Official sources said that though the Shelter Upgradation Scheme was closed in 1997, the five civic bodies, including Municipal Councils Bathinda, Batala and Pathankot and Municipal Corporations of Jalandhar and Patiala had been defaulting in the repayment of amount advanced to them by the government. The Municipal Corporations of Ludhiana and Amritsar, where the scheme was also launched, had repaid the amount.

The Tribune has information that the civic bodies covered under the Shelter Upgradation Scheme had defaulted in payment to the extent of Rs 1.25 crore.

Under the Shelter Upgradation Scheme, launched in 1987-88, the Punjab government in association with HUDCO gave funds to seven civic bodies in the state. Under the scheme each civic body was supposed to loan Rs 4000 to people for upgrading shelter. The beneficiaries were to repay Rs 3000 with small amount of interest to the respective civic body. They were entitled to a subsidy of Rs 1000 on the loan.

The Municipal Council and Municipal Corporation Authorities were liable to recover the loans in instalments from the beneficiaries and to deposit it with the government under the scheme as the Punjab Government executed the scheme through the civic bodies.

Sources said that apart from the Patiala Municipal Corporation, liability of which was only of Rs 25,000, all other four civic bodies were to repay enormous amount to the Punjab government. The Bathinda Municipal Council, upgraded as Municipal Corporation from April 10, 2003 has defaulted in paying Rs 30 lakh. Most of these civic bodies stopped the recovery of loan instalments given to them under the scheme and could not make payment to the state government.

Official sources said that the state Local Bodies Department authorities had directed all these civic bodies to settle their accounts at the earliest failing which deductions would be made from the funds to be allocated to them by the state government in the next year for development.

Sources said that after a warning from the higher authorities, the civic bodies had started looking for records of the beneficiaries, who had defaulted in depositing their loan instalments.


PGI experts to study causes of high cancer rate
Insecticide traces found in canal water
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 31
As the investigations made by the State Health Department, Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) and experts of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot, to find out the reasons behind the unusually high number of cancer deaths in a number of pockets of Bathinda district for the past several years have remained inconclusive, the Punjab Government has now handed over the investigation to the experts of the Department of Community Medicine, PGI, Chandigarh.

The Punjab government handed over the investigation to the PGI experts after it found that repeated efforts made by its various agencies to ascertain the reasons for the high rate of cancer deaths in the district and the spread of this dreaded disease in this pocket had failed to yield any result.

The other reason, that compelled the state government to hand over the investigation to experts of PGI was that a team of PPCB, which took samples of canal water during its investigation in the Talwandi Sabo area of Bathinda district, found that it contained traces of insecticides, including DDT and BHC.

The decision was taken at a meeting presided over by Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The state government has been concerned for the past years as the number of deaths due to cancer have been increasing every year in a number of villages of Talwandi Sabo, Rampura and Ballianwali block. Death due to cancer has become a common occurrence in villages like Giana, Jajjal, Bhallo, Harkishanpura and Tarkhanwala, where the disease had claimed hundreds of human lives in the past few years.

This had adversely affected the prospects of matrimony of boys and girls of these villages.

The Governor of Punjab, Mr J.F.R. Jacob, and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had also taken a serious view of the spread of the disease in this area.

Official sources said experts from the PGI, who had been engaged by the state government through PPCB and had descended in different pockets of the district, would test as many as 3.5 lakh residents of the area.

A house-to-house survey in Talwandi Sabo block, will cover as many as 1.8 lakh persons. An equal number of people residing in some normal block of Bathinda district or in an adjoining district, including Sangrur, would also be covered in this survey.

Dr J.S. Thakur, Assistant Professor, Community Medicine, PGI, when contacted at Chandigarh, pointed out that if the number of suspected patients, number of already diagnosed patients and number of deaths that had occurred in each family in the past 10 years were found to be same in the Talwandi Sabo block and in the normal block during the survey then the experts would follow the state government’s directions.

If the numbers were found to be higher in the Talwandi Sabo block then the experts would launch the second phase of survey which would include sampling of surface and ground water, details of environmental risks, food samples, sampling of industrial effluents and of blood and urine of cancer patients to find out the exact reasons for the high rate of cancer incidences in the southern part of the state.

He added that a survey was in progress and would be completed within a year. About six months more would be taken to analyse the data collected in the survey. He said the picture would become clear after seven to eight months. 


Number of law officers reduced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
The Punjab Government today slashed the number of law officers from 96 to 84. Though Punjab Advocate-General Harbhagwan Singh was not available for comments, sources in his office claimed that the number had been reduced as “austerity measure”.

The decision to reduce the number of law officers is significant as, according to sources in the AG office, the appointments were posing additional burden on the state exchequer.

The government had come under severe criticism for appointing so many law officers. In fact, the government had been blamed for creating “record of sorts” by recruiting 96 advocates as officers.

After the reduction, the state now has one Advocate-General, two Senior Advocates-General, 22 Additional Advocates-General, eight Senior Deputy Advocates-General, 23 Deputy Advocates-General and 28 Assistant Advocates-General.


Mother seeks child’s custody
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 31
Ms Amanpreet Kaur, a newly married woman, in a representation to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, has sought the reuniting of her six-month-old son who was forcibly taken away from her by her in-laws.
She said she was married to Balwinder Singh, employed with the Army on January 17, 2001, and gave birth to a boy.

She said her in-laws started forcing her to bring more gifts after the birth of the boy and later threw her out of the house and kept the boy in their custody.

She demanded action against her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law, brothers-in-law and sister-in-law, residents of Phulluwala Dogran village.

When contacted, Mr S.S. Srivastva, SSP, expressed ignorance about the representation.

Meanwhile, Parmatma Devi alias Khushpreet Kaur of Ubha village in the district, was allegedly killed by her husband Sukhpal Singh, father-in-law Girdhari Lal and mother-in-law Kaushalya Devi on March 28.

Harbhagwan Dass a resident of Baran village and father of the deceased, said his daughter was married to Sukhpal Singh in 1998 and since then she was being tortured by her in-laws to bring more dowry. The Joga police has registered a case under Section 304-B of the IPC. No arrest has been made by the police in this regard.


Kar seva begins at Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
Keeping in view the fourth installation centenary of Guru Granth Sahib falling next year, kar seva of the sarovar of historic Gurdwara Ramsar Sahib, situated near Gurdwara Shaheedan started here today.

The kar seva of the sarovar was being initiated by Baba Jagtar Singh, kar sevawale. The fifth guru, Guru Arjan Dev had stayed here and recited the hymns of Sukhmani Sahib.

Baba Amrik Singh, under whose supervision kar seva is being carried out, said it was being done after 30 years. He said it would be completed within a fortnight. A two-storey parking lot, having the capacity of accommodating 500 vehicles, was also being constructed near the gurdwara.

The kar seva was inaugurated by Baba Jagtar Singh, Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, head Granthi, Giani Puran Singh, Baba Kirpal Singh kar sevawale and Jathedar Mall Singh Hare.


Kar seva on for gurdwara parking lot
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 31
Kar seva is being carried at Gurdwara Shaheed Ganj by Baba Amrik Singh Kar sewawale for a parking lot near the gurdwara. A large number of persons among the ‘sangats’ also took part. Baba Amrik Singh said this parking lot would have a capacity of 500 vehicles and was expected to be completed before the 400 ‘parkash utsav’ of Shri Guru Granth Sahib next year.


Flower show attracts thousands
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 31
The sixth flower show was organised here yesterday by the local Environment Society on the premises of the local Government Girls Senior Secondary School.

Mr S.S. Srivastva, Senior Superintendent of Police here, inaugurated the flower show in the morning while Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner gave away the prizes to the winners, late evening. It attracted thousands of people from the district and nearby areas. A large variety of flowers were displayed in a splendid array at the show. A cultural programme was presented by the children. The performance shown by the participants held the audience spellbound.

Mr Ram Krishan Chug, Secretary of the society, said flower show was the regular feature of the society. The following participants won prizes in different events: Baby show (junior): Yashika (I), Ujwal and Nitish (2), Surbhi and Daizy (3); baby show (senior): Dhruv Sachdeva (1), Ashish Jindal (2), Mehakdeep (3); Fancy dress(junior): Anmoal Garg (1), Jainvi Sachdeva (2) Gazal Garg (3); Fancy dress (senior): Love Garg (1), Bhupinder Singh (2), Sahib Goyal (3); Solo dance (junior): Upinder Kaur Rubby (1), Manwinder (2) Naveen Goyal (3); Solo dance (senior): Manish (1), Roman (2), Harbharvjit (3); Dastar Bandi: Kartar Singh (1), Jagsir (2), Balwinder & Ranjesh (3); Group dance (junior): DAV Centenary Public School, Mansa (1); Group dance (senior): Greenland Public School, Bareta (1); Debate: Deepika Chugh (1), Chandandeep (2); and Quiz contest: Arpit Jindal and Vivek (1) Kunal Sapolia (2).


Ex-minister Garcha granted bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Punjab’s former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha was today granted bail by Mr Justice Jasbir Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in an alleged cheating and corruption case.

Garcha was earlier booked in a case registered under Sections 420 and 12—B of the India Penal Code, besides under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. Seeking the grant of bail, his counsel had contended that a false case had been registered against him. He had further submitted that the Congress government was framing cases against its political opponents. The allegations that the employees recruited by Punjab Technical University were from his constituency were also baseless, counsel had added.

Orders reserved

In less than a fortnight after a Special Judge for vigilance cases ruled that the complainant in a corruption case against Punjab’s former Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had no right to argue at the time of framing charges, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday reserved orders on a petition challenging the orders.

The petition was filed by complainant in the case Balwant Singh Dhillon. Bhattal was earlier accused of misappropriating Rs 20 lakh after withdrawing it from the Chief Minister’s relief fund following which a case under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code and Prevention of Corruption Act was registered.

During the proceedings before the trial court, Bhattal had moved an application for dropping the proceedings and for being discharged. Soon after a reply was filed by counsel for the complainant, the defence counsel opposed it on the ground that he could neither file reply, nor argue at the time of framing charges.

After hearing the arguments in the matter, the Special Judge had ruled that the complainant and his counsel could only assist the public prosecutor and could act under his directions as per the provisions of law.

The Judge had added that the complainant or his counsel could only submit the written arguments, and that also after the evidence was closed, with Court’s permission. Deciding the case against the co plainant, the Judge had added that the reply filed by the complainant to the application of the accused for dropping the proceedings could not be read at the time of deciding the plea.


Ex-councillors’ houses raided

Gurdaspur, March 31
The local branch of the Vigilance Bureau (VB) today raided the houses of former Sujanpur Nagar Council president Vinay Mahajan and two other former councillors and a junior engineer.

Vigilance sources, confirming the raids, here said that besides Mr Mahajan, the others whose premises were raided were former councillors Surinder Mahajan and Girdhari Lal and junior engineer with the council Vinay Kumar.

The VB team seized 4 tolas of gold from the house of Vinay Mahajan besides cheque books of different banks and records of the nagar council.

The sources said that bank passbooks were also seized from the houses of Girdhari Lal and Vinay Kumar. In addition, the raiding teams also recovered kisan vikas patras and other vital documents from Vinay Kumar’s house.

The VB had on Saturday last arrested Girdhari Lal and Jagtar Singh, an acting head of the council who had since been transferred from Sujanpur, following the registration of a case of corruption and embezzlement of government funds against the two.

The names of Vinay Mahajan, Surinder Kumar and Vinay Kumar too figured in the case but the Vigilance team could not arrest them on Saturday following protests by Sujanpur residents. Since then the three have gone underground to evade being taken into custody. UNI


Arhtias’ demands accepted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 31
Punjab Agriculture Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today accepted certain demands of the Arhtiya Association. Henceforth, the licences to arhtiyas will be issued for 10 years instead of three years. The licence fee has been increased from Rs 100 to Rs 200. One representative of the association will be appointed as Director of the Punjab Mandi Board.

The audit of the accounts of arhtiyas will be done for the past one year only and not for the past three years. No fee will be charged from the association for holding conferences at the local Kisan Bhavan.

The contract system will be abolished and direct payment will be made to labour.


Irate residents force closure of liquor vend
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
Irate residents today forced the closure of a newly opened liquor vend near the Shiv Mandir in the Shahi Samadan area of the city by demonstrating in front of it and by turning away those coming to purchase liquor from the place.

The vend had started operations within around 50m of the Shiv Mandir. Residents of the area, including women and children, assembled in front of the vend in the morning itself and started raising slogans against the liquor contractor as well as the government.

When the residents started forcibly turning away customers and banging the shutters of the vend, the vend operator downed the shutters and left the premises.

The residents continued to sit on a dharna in front of the vend until local Excise officials reached the spot and assured them that the vend would be shifted from its present location.

The residents claimed that the vend was earlier in the Gur Mandi area, which was around 500m from the present site and that it should be shifted to its old site immediately. 


Rally against caste-based quota
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 31
To press the acceptance of their demand of putting an end to the present caste-based and discriminatory reservation policy the General Categories Welfare Federation will hold a rally at Talwandi Sabo on Baisakhi and state and district leaders, members of the general categories from other states will also participate in the same,” said Mr Shyam Lal Sharma.

At a meeting here last evening, the state president of the federation, Mr Sharma said that various political parties to keep their vote bank in tact, rather helping the Dalits had created the present set-up. He said that the set-up had created a class of super-rich and affluent Dalits, grabbing the benefits of the caste-based reservation policy, while the underprivileged, of non-Scheduled Castes also, have been pushed to the corner. Speakers at the meeting said that the present system had failed to uplift the Dalits as even after enjoying the highest offices in the country the Dalits have not “given up” the Dalit label. They said that even after reaching top positions in the government set up the ward of Dalits continued to enjoy caste-based reservations. They alleged that when inefficient and incompetent were promoted resentment was bound to generate work culture.


PNDT Act to be ‘sternly enforced’
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, March 31
Sex-determination tests to prevent female foeticide will be dealt with sternly in the district.

Dr Gurcharan Singh, Civil Surgeon-cum-Deputy Medical Commissioner, Punjab Health Systems Corporation, talking to reporters here today said registrations for ultrasound scan in Mala Hospital and Chakitsa Hospital at Pathankot had been suspended due to various irregularities. The machines had been sealed for the time being.

Dr Gurcharan Singh said the Mansotra Scanning Centre, Pathankot, the Walia Diagnostic Centre, Batala, and the Sharma Diagnostic Centre, Batala, had been issued show cause notices. The district had 60 ultrasound centres.

Dr Singh said five appropriate authorities to implement the PNDT Act strictly had been designated.

These included the Civil Surgeon and senior medical officers of Batala, Pathankot, Bungal Budhani and Dhianpur. The appropriate authority for government hospitals at Gurdaspur, Pathankot, Batala and Shahpur Kandi would be the Deputy Medical Commissioner for the implementation of the PNDT Act.

He said the Supreme Court had made it clear that the violation of the Act would not be tolerated.


New facilities in judicial complex
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 31
Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, a BJP leader and Member, Rajya Sabha unveiled the statue of Goddess of Justice and inaugurated a parking lot, a park and toilets at the District Judicial Complex here today.

The projects have been completed at the cost of around Rs 10 lakh. Later, while speaking at a function organised by the District Bar Association Dr Hakesh Singh Sidhu, ADC, Development, Faridkot, disclosed that the money had been given by Bibi Gurcharan Kaur from her discretionary quota under the beautification programme of the complex.

Earlier, while taking to mediapersons the BJP MP criticised the Punjab Government for its biased role in the distribution of government vehicles to the MLAs and MPs of the opposition parties in the state.

She said the state government had recently purchased 53 vehicles but all these had been given to the party MLAs and MPs. She said she had been travelling along with her security personnel by bus since March 14 and in spite of her repeated requests to the officers concerned for the allocation of proper vehicles to her no action had been taken so far.


PSEB extends VDS
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 31
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today announced that the last date for the regularisation of unauthorised loads under the voluntary disclosure scheme (VDS) for agricultural consumers had been extended to April 30.


Govt to construct 8,800 houses
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 31
“The Punjab Government will construct 8,800 houses during 2003-04 with an estimate cost of Rs 200 crore, out of which 40 per cent houses shall be for economically weaker sections, said Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Punjab Minister for Housing and Urban Development while addressing a rally at Sujanpur near here.

The minister said during 2003-04, a capital expenditure of 661.70 crore had been proposed to be made against Rs 374.32 crore in the previous year.

Mr Puri said a provision of Rs 210 crore had been made for the purchase of land for setting up new urban estate at Zirakpur, Derabassi, Kharar, Nabha, Barnala, Khanna, Moga, Amritsar, Gurdaspur, Phillaur, Beas, Pathankot and Nawanshahr.

He said PUDA with the aim to extend its existing urban estate at SAS Nagar notified 1350 acres of land for the acquisition for the development of five new sectors.

Mr Puri, who was accompanied by Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, Mr Naresh Puri President Municipal Council, Sujanpur, said the SAD-BJP Government had ruined the economy.

The minister alleged that Mr Satya Paul Saini, former Punjab Minister, had cheated the public and he had resorted to illegal methods for money.


Two jewellers shot at

Amritsar, March 31
Two jewellers Kirpal Singh and his elder brother Gurdip Singh, were shot at and seriously injured by some unidentified car-borne persons near the Katra Sher Singh area in the wee hours here today. The accused fled with a bag containing gold jewellery.

The car-borne miscreants allegedly hit their motor cycle from back side while they were going towards the railway station. They came out of the car and fired four shots at the victims. One of them, who were firing was wearing a mask. One bullet hit Kirpal Singh on his leg.

After firing, the accused started beating the jewellers with their belts. Both the seriously injured were admitted to the local hospital here. Kirpal Singh whose condition is stated to be out of danger claimed that the accused took away the bag having gold jewellery worth Rs 4 lakh.

However, Dr S.P. Kalia, SP, Headquarters, said the incident seemed to be the result of personal enmity. He said Gurdip Singh’s brother-in-law, Amarjit Singh, a junk dealer in Jalandhar, killed another junk dealer in a scuffle during an auction last year. Since then, Amarjit Singh and his family had been absconding.

The SP said it was learnt that the Jalandhar police had questioned Gurdip Singh and his wife at Jalandhar. He said during investigation, Gurdip Singh confessed that they had been receiving threat calls from the relatives of killed junk dealer. OC


Village temple looted
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 31
A village temple of Manak, 20 km from here, was robbed of cash and valuables worth about Rs 1.5 lakh early today according to the report lodged by Baba Shookar Nath, head of Jal Devta Kheri Mandir today, eight to 10 persons with muffled faces, wielding sticks, barged into the temple at 1.30 a.m. and thrashed his two disciples, Kiranpal and Shupinder.

The robbers, then, broke open the door of his room and beat him up. They broke open the almirah there and took away Rs 1.3 lakh lying in it. They, then robbed the Baba of Rs 2,000, a gold bracelet, a ring, a watch and a tape recorder besides some copies of the FIRs and important documents.

After the robbery, they tied up the Baba and his disciples and locked them in the room. Baba Shookar Nath, the temple head, suspects some persons he was fighting in court to be responsible for the crime.

The Superintendent of Police, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, and other police officials visited the site today. The police has registered a case.


Gang of robbers busted, 3 held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, March 31
The Mansa police has busted an inter-state gang of robbers with the arrest of three of its members during a nakabandi. The three were on the way to Mansa to commit a robbery. The gang members had robbed Mr Pawan Kumar, proprietor of an insecticide company of the city, of Rs 3,500 on March 20.

Two of the gang members had chased him on a motor cycle while he was on the way to his home and robbed him of Rs 3,500 and his account books.

An FIR (No 41) under Sections 382 and 34 of the IPC read with the Arms Act was registered in police station (City) Mansa in the connection.

A police party led by Mr. Harpal Singh, SHO, Mansa, recovered two. 12-bore pistols, four cartridges and a stolen motor cycle from gang members, identified as Ravi Kumar, alias Bitu, his brother Bhupinder Singh, alias Bunti, and Amit Kumar, alias Bhura, all from Merrut district of UP.

The fourth gang member Vinod Kumar, a resident of Sarswa village in Merrut district, yet to be arrested. The gang members had stolen the motor cycle on March 18 at gun point from near a canal in Bathinda. Amit Kumar Ravi Kumar and Vinod Kumar had hired a car from Bathinda on March 21 for going to Patiala but on the way they threw the driver put of the car and took it to UP.

Mr S.S. Srivastva, SSP, while giving this information here today said the police hoped to solve more cases of robbery during the interrogation of the gang members.


Puja, Gurinderpal top Class V exams
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, March 31
The Punjab Education Department announced the result of Class V exams today. Of the 24,270 students who had appeared in the exams in this district 22,142 were declared successful. Puja Rani, a student of Usha Public School, and Gurinderpal Singh, a student of Baba Farid Public School, shared the first position by securing 488 marks out of 550 (88.73 per cent).

Gurpreet Singh (Damdama Public School), Talwandi Sabo, bagged the second position, by securing 487 marks and the third position was bagged by Ramandeep Kaur (Little Flower Public School) who got 481 marks.

This was stated in a press note issued today by the department which also said the pass percentage was 91.23.


Contract cancellation of IT institutes hailed
Tribune News Service

Patiala March 31
The Teachers United Front of Punjabi University today welcomed the decision of the varsity to terminate its contracts with the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Institute of Information Technology situated on the varsity campus and the Guru Gobind Singh Institute of Information Technology at Talwandi Sabo.

Forum convenor Dr Bhupinder Singh Khaira and co-convenor Dr Balwinder Singh alleged that both agreements had been made by a former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, to “hoodwink and fleece” innocent students in the name of information technology. He said the rights of certification and franchise had been given to private companies by using the name and infrastructure of the university in absolute violation of the University Act.

The teachers said in the process, all academic bodies concerned of the university were intentionally bypassed and the deal smacked of complete sell-out of the university’s interests to private companies for ulterior motives. They said the cancellation of the contracts was the first step towards unravelling and exposing the “misdeeds” of the former Vice-Chancellor. They also welcomed the decision of varsity Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai to recommend a Vigilance probe into the entire matter.

In a separate release, the Forum for Educational Action and Reform (FEAR) also hailed the university Syndicate in taking the bold step to cancel the contracts of the IT institutes. The forum, president, Dr Amarjit Singh Dhillon, said it was, however, important to expose the manner in which senior-most members of the Higher Education Department tried to sabotage any decision on the future of the information technology institutes.

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