Wednesday, April 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Profligacy, Punjab style
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The lawmakers in Punjab have decided to effect a massive hike in their salaries, allowances and perquisites, thereby, giving a go by to the much touted fiscal reforms or effecting austerity/ economy in expenditure. The Council of Ministers has reportedly approved necessary amendments to all relevant Acts to enhance benefits for MLAs, ministers, ministers of state, Parliamentary Secretaries, the Chief Minister, Speaker, Deputy Speaker and Leader of Opposition.

There is a proposal that the salary of the Chief Minister/ ministers/ ministers of state be raised to Rs 15,000 per month from the present Rs 2,500; double the sumptuary allowance to Rs 5,000 per month, permit state car or Rs 10,000 in lieu of that; raise daily allowance to Rs 500 from Rs 300; raise constituency allowance to Rs 8,000 per month (up from Rs 5,000); allow ''reimbursement'' of actual expenses in lieu of fixed medical allowance of Rs 250 per month; additional Rs 5,000 per month, as miscellaneous allowances; compensatory allowance, Rs 5,000 per month, as against nil at present; for telephone installed at any one place within the constituency or in Chandigarh, Rs 10,000 per month, as against Rs 48,000 per annum at present; monetary limit for hiring a private house for residential accommodation, if need be, Rs 30,000, per month.

There is also a proposal to hike house-building loan from Rs 6 lakh to Rs 10 lakh at the rate of 6 per cent simple interest and for major repairs, and alterations the sum has been increased to Rs 6 lakh at the rate of 6 per cent simple interest, against a limit of Rs 3 lakh at present. There will now be reimbursement of petrol, diesel, rail and air fair up to Rs 1.25 lakh per year as against present limit of Rs 50,000, per year.

Similar perks are proposed for MLAs, who have already been given new Qualis vehicles. With this proposed hike, the Punjab lawmakers will be miles ahead of their counterparts in Haryana and several other states, sources say .

This hike comes at a time when the Finance Minister had on March 24 in his Budget speech talked about government determination to cut down on expenditure to save at least Rs 200 crore in 2003-04. In fact, even the World Bank in its assessment report on ''Key Reforms Challenges in Punjab'' had warned that unless the state put brakes on the runaway salaries/ wages/bills, mere resource mobilisation would not help.

Call it a coincidence that such proposed hike is being effected at a time when a high-profile World Bank mission team is in Chandigarh to discuss the reforms, based on state's economic review. But the elected representatives are all set to jeopardise the reforms, so it seems.

The additional annual financial liability of the ministers alone is likely to be more than Rs 1 crore annually, sources say. All put together, the state exchequer will be bearing an additional burden of several crores. Already, during the first year in office, the ministers had spent Rs 47 lakh on furnishing their houses and consumed another Rs 32.62 lakh by way of telephone bills. The upkeep of the helicopter leased for the Chief Minister has cost the exchequer Rs 4,53,87,927 between February 27, 2002 and February 28, 2003.

In fact, Markfed has already announced a 20 per cent ex gratia for its staff in lieu of bonus. A string of concessions have been announced for the arhtiyas, even as pensioners and private government-aided colleges clamour for continuation and hike in the financial dozes. In fact, several pensions for to the old-aged persons, widows and disabled have not been paid for the past eight months!

There is also no money for the repair of main state roads, to which the members repeatedly drew the attention of the House all through the current budget session that concludes tomorrow. In fact the minister in charge, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, admitted several times while replying to series of questions on ''poor'' condition of roads that there was paucity of funds. He also blamed the Centre for not releasing money for pending 18 projects. But how about state's own roads? The same has been the fate of social welfare schemes which have remained starved of funds.

Yet, the employees were paid additional dearness allowance during the Himachal Pradesh elections and effective today the leave travel concession facility also stands restored to the employees, as approved by the House in the Budget-2003-04. But there is no money for development. There is plenty of money for elected representatives, who are supposed to ''serve the people''. Such profligacy is uncommon in a state which continues to talk of ''hard and harsh'' measures to re-rail fiscal economy and proposed to slap still higher user charges on social and economic services the state provided to the people, along with its own in-built lethargy and inefficiency.

Highly placed sources told TNS that such a hike was bound to rebound. Several sections of the society will raise demands for similar benefits. This will have a cascading effect. How will the political executive say no to the expected demands that involve financial outgo?


Punjab appoints 9 more law officers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The austerity of its economic measures notwithstanding, nine more law officers, including an Additional Advocate-General and three Deputy Advocates-General, were appointed by the Punjab Government today.

As such the strength of the law officers has touched 98, including five lawyers advocates on record, which is a record.

The state had yesterday notified extension in service of 84 law officers and five advocates on record.

Those appointed today are Mr Deepinder Singh Dhillon — Additional Advocate-General; Mr R.K. Joshi, Mr G.S. Bhandari and Mr IPS Sidhu — all Deputy Advocates-General; Mr D.S. Nalwa, Mr S.S. Gill, Mr Gaurav Hooda, Mr Asish Verma and Mr Satish Chander Bhardwaj — all Assistant Advocates-General.

Under the rules, the Additional Advocates-General are also allowed private practice subject to the condition that the state should not be a party in the case.

The state has now two Senior Additional Advocates-General; 23 Additional Advocates-General; eight Senior Deputy Advocates-General; 26 Deputy Advocates-General and 33 Assistant Advocates-General besides five advocates on record in Delhi.

As such, the Delhi office has now one senior Additional Advocate-General, six Additional Advocates-General, one Deputy Advocate-General and five advocates on record.


Punjab Electricity Bill introduced
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh today introduced the Punjab State Electricity Bill-2003, in the Vidhan Sabha but not before it was almost “short-circuited” by the Opposition.

Former Finance Minister Capt Kanwaljit Singh was the first to protest against the Bill during the zero hour, saying that it involved not only the crucial question of survival of economy of the state but also the future of lakhs of employees and consumers. Yet, there was no time available to go through the document as it had been distributed only today morning.

The salient features of the Bill, running into 77 pages, are as follows:

Restructuring the PSEB aimed at disaggregation of generation, transmission and distribution with a view to create independent corporate entities;

Competition, economy and efficiency to be promoted in the interest of consumers and state economy;

Regulation of electricity industry in a far, transparent, predictable and participative manner;

Transmission to be separated as an independent function for the creation of transmission highways with no-discriminatory open access that would enable viable public and private investments in the electricity industry;

Present entitlements of Punjab to cheaper power from existing generating stations to remain undisturbed;

Compulsory metering for enhancing accountability and viability;

Special provisions for promoting access to electricity in rural areas and for economically weaker persons;

Stringent provisions to minimise theft and misuse; and provisions for transition from a state-owned monopoly to a liberalised and competitive industry.

The Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, however, interrupted him and asked him to speak when the Bill was introduced. At this the entire Opposition, which had stood up sat down.

When the Bill was introduced, the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, stood up to say that since it was an important document, crucial to the state’s economic future, it should not be passed by the House today, as was stated in the business for the day. He reminded the House that Capt Amarinder Singh, while speaking on the motion of thanks to the Governor, had said the Bill would be debated publicly and all opinions taken into consideration before it was passed by the House. After stating experience of other states in a similar exercise, he said even the author, Mr Gajendra Haldea, had cautioned against any hurry to pass the Bill .

Contrary to the listed business of the House, the Chief Minister assured that it would not be passed today and only introduced to the Speaker.

He said he would prefer to read out his speech giving reasons, objectives and aims as to why the Bill was the ‘’basic need’’ and how it was intended to give ‘’universal access to reliable supply at competitive and affordable prices’’. Another reason for reading from the prepared text, the Chief Minister said, was to eliminate any ‘’ambiguity’’ in the reporting in the media. This had been happening in the past with newspapers publishing the aims and objectives in a piecemeal manner that often presented either an incomplete or a distorted picture. The media even missed out on its real importance and impact.

His eight-page statement concluded on an assurance to the House that the government was committed to furthering the interests of each and every section of the society. ‘’I have thrown open this debate , as never before, only to elicit the views and support of all sections of our people. We have resolved to carry forward this process with the fullest support of the public participation’’.

Capt Amarinder Singh did not forget to pack his speech on the Bill with political power punch to put the Akalis into wrong “socket and circuit”, blaming them for ‘’mismanagement and short-sighted populism’’ when it had announced free power to agriculture pump sets. ‘’As a result of that today Punjab faced the shame of 3 lakh farmers waiting in a queue to get a connection’’.

Later, he touched upon salient points like the PSEB’s restructuring, corporatisation, generation, transmission, distribution, independence of the regulatory commission, subsidies, state electricity plan, rural electrification, anti-theft provision and impact on stakeholders.


Copter expenditure Rs 4.53 crore
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today told the Punjab Assembly that the total expenditure incurred on the upkeep of the helicopter taken on lease by the state government was Rs 4.53 crore from February 27 last year to February 28 this year. He said during Badal’s regime in one year the expenditure on the helicopter was Rs 4.94 crore. He was replying to a question raised by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal objected to certain TV channels being allowed to record and telecast speeches of the Treasury Benches. He said the Opposition should be given an equal opportunity. He said when Opposition leaders started speaking, cameramen were asked to leave the House. “I feel that certain cameramen had entered the House without permission”. He suggested the live coverage of the entire proceedings of the House.

Asking a supplementary, Mr Badal said that earlier the government had replied that it spent Rs 5.25 crore on the helicopter during that period. Mr Lal Singh said the figure given today was the correct one. He said the helicopter was being used in public interest and not for private purpose.

He said during the Himachal elections, the state helicopter was not used. During the election period, the Congress in Himachal Pradesh had hired it and paid the bill, he added.

To a query of Mr Badal whether the government would table the log book with regard to the use of the helicopter during the last one year by Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Lal Singh posed a counter-question whether the log book of Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s period should also be tabled. And the matter ended at this point.

Replying to another question of Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, Mr Lal Singh said no name had been approved for representing the state in the National Lalit Kala Academy.

He said all office-bearers of the Punjab Lalit Kala Academy had been nominated by Mr Kartar Singh Duggal. The state government had nothing to do with it. However, he said the names proposed by Mr Duggal for the Punjab Lalit Kala Academy had not been approved by the state government yet.

Mr Harbant Singh asked whether two non-Punjabis had been nominated for the Punjab Lalit Kala Academy. Mr Lal Singh reiterated that no name had been approved yet.

Earlier, replying to a call attention notice moved by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna with regard to Home Guard jawans, Mr Lal Singh said there were 12,798 Home Guard volunteers in Punjab. They were not paid daily wages or salary, but a subsistence allowance at the rate of Rs 90 per day plus a washing allowance of Rs 20 per month. For shortage of funds, they had not been paid allowances for the period ranging between 8 and 100 days. The payment would be made this week. There was no proposal to hike their allowances.


Army recruitment gang busted, four arrested
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 1
The police said today it had busted an Army recruitment gang with the arrest of four civilians involved in the racket. Rs 7 lakh cash has been recovered from the kingpin of the gang. The district police chief, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, said at a press conference here that the kingpin, Ram Singh of Mannon village in Jhabhal tehsil, had been working as a supervisor in the local market committee along with three other members, of the gang.

The SSP said the arrests had been made on the basis of a complaint by one Karam Singh of Dalam village under Rajasansi police station that Ram Singh had duped him of Rs 42,000 last year on the pretext of getting his son, Sulakhan Singh, recruited into the Army. It was discovered that Ram Singh was operating through agents who would identify prospective young men and lure them with the promise of recruitment in the Army.

Mr Pal said Ram Singh had admitted to having duped more than 32 persons in the district and collected more than Rs 18 lakh over the past three years. His agents used to be deployed outside Army recruitment centres to show that he was trying to get the youths recruited. Any nexus between Army officers at the recruitment centre and the gang is yet to be established. Since the matter is sensitive because of the involvement of the Army, the SSP said he would not like to hasten any comment before the interrogation of the accused was over.


Border surveillance to be hi-tech
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 1
To curb cross-border terrorism in Jammu and Kashmir, the Centre has decided to use high-tech surveillance systems, including satellite technology to man the international border (IB) and Line of Control (LoC) in the trouble-torn state to check infiltration.

The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami, told reporters here today that at a joint meeting of the Centre and the Jammu and Kashmir government in New Delhi yesterday it had been decided to install these sensitive gadgets along the border and the LoC.

The meeting was convened to review the existing macro strategies in tackling militancy in Jammu and Kashmir. Special efforts would be made to expedite complete fencing and flood-lighting of the border, even though Pakistan was creating hurdles in the way.

“We are going to lay new roads along the border and the LoC to ensure hassle-free movement of our security forces deployed there. Besides electronic gadgets will be installed along the border as part of a fresh strategy to check infiltration and tackle militancy.

The minister said the Army would be told to man the border while the Border Security Force (BSF) would be deployed as a cover as part of a multi-modal deployment of security forces.

When asked about the widespread criticism of the Mufti government for its “healing touch” policy, Mr Swami said the J and K Government was fully committed to eliminating militancy and the Centre had never criticised its policies in this regard. “The J and K Chief Minister was present at the meeting in New Delhi yesterday and he gave his full support to Center’s policy against militancy in the state, he said.

The Special Task Force constituted by the Centre would frequently review the strategies to counter terrorism and advise the Group of Ministers headed by the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani. Regarding the initiation of a dialogue with the separatist groups in the state, the minister said the Centre was open to starting dialogue with any group within the ambit of the Constitution, without any pre-condition for talks.

Regarding the identification of foreigners, including Pakistanis and Bangladeshis who are staying in India illegally. Mr Swami said all Director-Generals of state police and Chief Secretaries had been told to expedite the identification of such foreigners to ensure their repatriation.


Fraud in land deal by Badal aide alleged
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Hardeep Singh Bhawara was today accused of acquiring fraudulently land worth crores near the National Institute of Sports (NIS) in Sular village on the outskirts of the city.

At a press conference here Mr Satinder Singh of Sular village claimed that the former Chief Minister's OSD had bought part of the land belonging to his family from his mother through undervalued registry for Rs 25 lakh for which stamp duty of Rs 75 lakh was paid. He said this was because the land was worth this much according to the government price. He said the land was bought in the name of Sanjeev Mehen, a chartered accountant, close to Mr Badal.

He alleged that as it was a joint property the police here helped the former Chief Minister's OSD and another person - Darshan Singh of Monarch hotel of Chandigarh and others to take possesion of land near to the road. He said the OSD took possession of major part of the land including a nine beghas along the road for which a stay was already in force.

Mr Satinder Singh added the OSD and others now built a room on the nine bighas of land and colonisation of the area was in progress. He said he had initiated contempt proceedings against the persons besides challenging the registry in a court. He alleged police harassment with 30 false cases registered against him during the Akali - BJP regime. He also alleged that he was attacked by armed men, including the OSD and Mr Darshan Singh, on October 14, 2001 which game him grievous injuries. He said his wife and son were also injured in the attack and a case was registered in this regard also.

The police did not take any action in this regard and did not even present challan in the court, he added. A court here now summoned the former OSD, Mr Darshan Singh and others under Section 303 of the IPC and others, he added.

He alleged even the Vigilance Bureau failed to nab the accused despite complaints. He appealed to the Chief Minister, Punjab, for justice.


DSGMC to seek Vatican status for Nankana Sahib
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 1
While the Centre has doubled the size of the token jatha of 100 pilgrims to visit the Sikh shrines in Pakistan in connection with the Baisakhi celebrations, the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) has decided to seek Vatican status for Nankana Sahib at the proposed meeting with Pakistani officials.

The DSGMC, that was denied permission to send a jatha to Pakistan last time, would be allowed to send 30 pilgrims to Pakistan, now the DSGMC seems to have been accommodated at the behest of the Shiromani Akali Dal, a partner in the National Democratic Alliance (NDA). Earlier, the SGPC had strongly opposed any move to allow the DSGMC to send jathas to Pakistan.

The chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, said the Centre had been reluctant to send the jatha because of the strained relations with Pakistan. He thanked the Union Government, particularly, Mr L.K. Advani, Deputy Prime Minister, for giving the permission and said the Sikh community should understand that, under prevailing circumstances, a large jatha could not be allowed to visit Pakistan.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said the SGPC had been allowed to send 50 pilgrims, while the DSGMC would send 30 devotees and 20 persons would be taken from the rest of India. The SGPC had been asked to coordinate with other Sikh organisations in this regard.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president of the International Bhai Mardana Society has condemned the Centre for not allowing the society to send a jatha to Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, president of the DSGMC said the committee would seek Vatican status for Nankana Sahib during the pilgrimage. He said the DSGMC was ready to give sufficient funds for the reconstruction of the crumbling Sikh shrines. Gurdwara Janam Asthan of Guru Ram Das in Chuna Mandi needed to be reconstructed at the earliest. He also criticised the Centre for “downsizing the jatha”.


Check travel agents who loot youths: Ramoowalia
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, president of the Lok Bhalai party has said that his party will launch a campaign against travel agents who “loot” youths by promising to send them to foreign countries.

Mr Ramoowalia was speaking at a political conference during Baba Kalu Nath Mela at Nathana village, about 20 km from here, today. He said the number of such agents was about 50,000 in Punjab and, as per a report, they had collected money to the tune of Rs 1,250 crore from youths, most of whom were lodged in jails of different countries as they did not have valid documents. He said, for earning a quick buck, some travel agents even sold Indian youths in African countries, where they were sexually abused.

He said issues like Anandpur Sahib Resolution, river-water disputes and transfer of Chandigarh were serious ones, but politicians of different parties had failed to generate public opinion on these. He said, with efforts, such issues could become people’s issues.

Mr Ramoowalia said the problems of the people of Punjab had increased as all governments in the state had misused the exchequer for their personal interests. He condemned the abolition of about 50,000 jobs in different departments by the Congress government in the state and said it would lead to further unemployment.


NRI plans maternity care centre for Faridkot
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
Unmindful of losing two prestigious projects, including a tertiary healthcare centre in the periphery of Chandigarh, to red-tapism in Punjab, Dr A.S. Marwah, a USA-based Punjabi dentist, is all set to establish a modern maternity care centre in his home town of Faridkot.

“This new centre will not only provide modern maternity care facilities to rich and affluent but also look after those belonging to the weaker sections of society who cannot afford quality treatment”, reveals Dr Marwah, saying that this new facility would be located on the Kotkapura-Faridkot Road.

Dr Marwah, who had a dinner meeting with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, last night, also hopes to revive one of the aborted projects — an NRI residential complex with an ultra-modern golf club in the periphery of the city.

Emotional attachment to his roots has not only made him finance various infrastructure development projects in Faridkot district in general and Kotkapura in particular but also extend help to poor and needy children to get quality education and help poor families marry off their daughters. “All this requires frequent trips to my home town where my father, Dr Ganda Singh, was the Chief of Medical Services in the erstwhile Faridkot state. On an average I visit Faridkot thrice a year,” he says.

After his matriculation in 1941 Dr Marwah left Kotkapura and joined a college in Lahore where Mr Parkash Singh Badal was not only his class-fellow but also a room-mate.

In 1950 he became the only Indian to be selected for the prestigious fellowship at University of Illinois for specialisation in paediatric dentistry. He had various teaching assignments before he started his own practice.

“I have been a Commissioner in Los Angeles city for the past four terms. There are 15 elected councillors of LA, which has a population of nearly 10 million. Any recommendation made by a Commissioner can be turned down by the City Council only by a two-thirds vote. And in the past 20 years not even a single decision taken by me as Commissioner has been turned down by the City Council,” adds Dr Marwah.

“It was in 1956 that I acquired American citizenship. The decision of the Indian Government to grant duel citizenship is a welcome step,” he says, holding that a large number of professionals, including doctors and engineers, who migrated to the USA after 1970, are now well settled there.

“But we all have strong links and attachments with our motherland. We are always keen to do something for our brethren back home. One of the private schools started by my father and subsequently taken over by the government has been named after him. Now we are providing an auditorium in the school after a new science block was added some time back.

“Since the main road of Kotkapura was dilapidated it has been done up and named after Dr Ganda Singh. A new basketball stadium has been completed in Kotkapura and a private girls college started there. Though the college has been handed over to a committee, I only insisted that 5 per cent of the seats should be given to poor and needy girls,” he adds.


‘Punjab Budget silent on poll promises’
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, April 1
The Punjab Government has burdened the people of the state by imposing taxes amounting to Rs 3,400 crore in the Budget presented by it on March 24 for the year 2003-2004.

This was stated by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, a former Finance Minister and General Secretary of the SAD, while talking to mediapersons at a Press conference here yesterday. He said the government’s claim that a “tax-free” Budget had been presented was not true as many hidden taxes had been imposed.

Giving figures relating to the financial burden being imposed on the common man, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said resources gap and taxes which would be levied without the approval of the House amounted to Rs 682 crore; PSEB losses to be made up by massive tarrif hike came to Rs 1,862 crore; Local Area Development Tax (LADT) at the rate of 2 per cent of the value amounted to Rs 400 crore; and the hike in user-charges relating to drinking water, irrigation water, sewerage charges and student fee came to Rs 300 crore. Apart from this, 12.5 per cent tax was being imposed on cell phones and there was a proposal to impose house tax in urban areas.

He said unemployment was biggest problem of Punjab. There were more than 15 lakh unemployed youth. The government had not taken the issue seriously and as such the ban on recruitment in government organisations continued adding fuel to the already critical situation.

The SAD leader said the government had decided to celebrate the coming year as the ‘Year of Development’ but the decision was not backed by necessary financial provision and administrative measures. It had only been stated that the World Bank would be giving a loan of Rs 5,000 crore. By accepting the conditions of the World Bank, which insisted on a dose of fresh taxes, the government had burdened the common man.

He said the Budget was completely silent on the commitments made by the Congress in their poll manifesto. The Finance Minister had not chartered a course to tackle the basic problems concerning the state like stagnating agricultural production, poor economic plight of farmers, insignificant industrial development and relief to the Dalits.


Credit plans for Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Mr Anuraj Verma, Deputy Commissioner, today launched the annual credit plan of Rs 626.60 crore for the financial year 2003-04 for the district.

He said that about 2,83,014 persons would be given loans for starting their ventures. He said that an allocation of Rs 458.45 crore has been made for the diversification of agriculture. He said that Rs 44.71 crore had been allocated for industries, Rs 92.38 crore for the service sector, Rs 31.06 crore for the non-priority sector.

Mr Verma asked the bankers to issue Kisan Cards to eligible farmers. He said they should ensure that the loan was used for the specified purpose.

Mr S.K. Singla, AGM, State Bank of Patiala, said that last year the banks had issued 73,000 Kisan Credit Cards in the district.

MUKTSAR: Different banks in the district prepared a credit plan of Rs 379.27 crore for the financial year 2003-04. Mr Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, today released the plan at a meeting of senior officials of different banks. She said that the loans would be given for crop diversification, dairy fishery, horticulture, and other small-scale industries.

Faridkot: Dr Harkesh Singh Sidhu, ADC (Development), here released an annual credit plan of Rs 372.81 crore at a simple function held today for the promotion of different sectors by advancing loans through all nationalised banks during the current financial year in this district. It was 25.92 per cent excess than the last year.

He said out of the total amount, Rs 305.20 crore would be utilised for the development of the agriculture sector. Moreover, Rs 35.86 core had been earmarked for promoting small scale industries and the remaining for trade and services, said Dr Sidhu. He expressed the hope that over 75,000 persons would benefit from this scheme. Last year an amount of Rs 296.8 crore were advanced of 67618 persons in the district.

Mr Joginder Singh Dhinga, Zonal Manager, Punjab and Sind Bank, Mr Raghunandan Lal, AGM, NABARD, a large number of senior district officers of the different banks were present on the occasion.


Underwater search unit for PPA
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, April 1
The Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy here will be the first police academy in the country to have an under-water search unit for crime detection.

This was announced by Dr G.S. Aujla, ADGP-cum-Director of the academy. A presentation of the technique was given in an academy swimming poll here today by Phil Deriene, a Britsh police officer.

The technique can help in retrieving bodies, arms and weapons or any other evidence from a water body. The technique saves finger prints on weapons.

Mr Steve Chamberlain Assistant Chief Constable, South Yorkshire Police, gave a presentation on training in the British police. A large number of Punjab Police officer attended the conference.

The Britsh and the Punjab Police have started exchanging information about criminals. The Punjab Police recently helped the UK police in identifying a decomposed body in England.

“We are striving to exchange information on weekly basis,” said Mr Chamberalin. He said one major part of the exchange programme was to learn about the culture of Indians.

Mr Bobby Gurbhej Singh Dev, a British Police officer of Indian origin, said the number of Indian origin police officers in the UK police was on the rise.

As many as 200 British police officers have visited India in the past two years.

A highlevel conference, a first of its kind, would be organised at Merseyside city in England in September this year. About 50 officers from India will take part in the week-long conference. Fifteen of these would be from Punjab.


Six kids injured in landmine blast
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 1
Six children were injured, four of them seriously, as a landmine exploded at Maujewala village in the Fazilka-Jalalabad sector this afternoon.

Sources said the Army had cordoned off the village, 11 km from Jalalabad west, for laying landmines in 2001. Few months back, the wheat crop had caught fire due to sparking in the high tension power supply lines. Hundreds of landmines had exploded. The Army was yet to scrutinise the fields.

The children had found a small landmine outside the prohibited area. one of them stepped on the landmine and it exploded, injuring him and other children.

The injured were rushed to the Civil Hospital at Jalalabad. Later, four of them were shifted to the Army Hospital at Ferozepore.

Those injured were identified as Baltej 11, Sukhdev 10, Surender (9), Balwinder (8), Mukhtiar (12) and Sonu (10).


New thematic mascot for Sena
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
The new president of the Punjab unit of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), Swami Pushpinder Swaroop, today said at his first press conference here, after taking over that the thematic mascot of the Shiv Sena had been changed from the parochical ‘Jai Maratha’ to ‘Jai Hindi Rashtra, Jai Bharat’ for broad-basing the party. “The mascot was changed at the national conference of the party held in Mumbai on March 29 and 30,” Swami said.

He said the party units in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana and Chandigarh would launch an offensive against Islamic terrorism. “The ad hoc party committees of Punjab, Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir have been dissolved and Mr Anil Tara and Mr Rajesh Gupta have been appointed the presidents of the party committees in the last two states, respectively, he said.

He also said the new office-bearers would be declared within 15 days and their list had already been submitted to general P.N. Hoon (retd), head of the party in north India. Besides General-Hoon, two delegates from each of the four states and a UT had attended the national conference, he said. The party heads of Haryana and Chandigarh had not been changed.

The Swami refused to comment on the Supreme Court ruling regarding the status quo on Ayodhya, but said Ram Mandir would be constructed at all costs. In reply to a question, he said the BJP Hindutava was politicised, while the Sena Hindutava was Hinduised. He said the party would raise the issue of sending Hindu jathas to Katasraj in Pakistan like Sikh jathas had been visiting shrines in that country.

He said the previous incumbent had only been divested of his post and not expelled. He also said the party would take steps to check conversions.


Notice of motion in kidney scam case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
In just over two months after the great kidney conspiracy was unearthed, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion on petitions seeking the grant of anticipatory bail filed by a doctor and a manager of the hospital concerned. The petitions will now come up for further hearing on May 1.

The two were apprehending arrest in two first information reports registered by the police. Claiming to have been implicated in the case, Dr Bhushan Aggarwal, in his petition, had earlier contended that he was not practising with the hospital as he was an employee of the state government and was just an “observing doctor”.

In his petition, manager Hardial Mehta had asserted that he was not named in the FIR. Moreover, no role had been attributed to him. Arguing before the court, his counsel had added that the petitioner was ready to surrender if his role could be shown. He had further added that the petitioner was merely working as a manager.

It may be recalled that as per the newspaper reports, two well-known doctors were in the docks, while several donor-labourers were in jail. Reports had added that the estimated value of the kidney racket was Rs 100 crore. As many as 1,922 transplants had taken place in Amritsar, while 650 had taken place in Delhi, since 2000. About 300 labourers had lost their kidneys, approximately 25 their lives.


After counsel for former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s officer on special duty Hardeep Singh stated that the petitioner was prepared to produce all his relatives residing in the USA for explaining his assets, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday today asked him to “show bonafides” from all his relations who had gifted him the alleged amount out of which the assets were created.

The case will now be taken up by Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy on April 23. Hardeep Singh had earlier accused the Congress government of adopting a revengeful attitude towards political opponents.

He had asserted that the Chief Minister had openly declared that Badal and his men would be taught a lesson and as such he was being targeted. His counsel had added that a false and a baseless case had been registered against the petitioner by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau and his house was raided even though nothing incriminating was recovered.

Liquor vends

Acting on a public interest litigation filed by the Indian Lawyers Association seeking the quashing of liquor vend auction in the state of Punjab, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday issued notice of motion. The case will now be taken up on April 3.

Accusing the state of violating the rules and the excise policy, the Indian Lawyers Association had earlier contended that vends in Ludhiana district were auctioned after treating it as a single unit while auction of each circle and group is to be carried out.


Staying the termination of a JBT teacher working with Government Primary school at Nangal, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday fixed August 5 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Ms Shivani had earlier challenged the orders directing the termination of her services passed on the ground that she had cleared her JBT from Himachal Pradesh.


A petition filed by a social organisation for directions to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and other respondents “to determine and declare the actual geographical parameters” of the Golden Temple at Amritsar was today dismissed as withdrawn.

In the petition, the All-India Forum for National Reconciliation had earlier contended that the root cause behind unrest due to the entry of security forces at the Golden Temple was that the “actual geographical parameters had not been defined”.


No IB eye on Jogi: Swami

Jalandhar, April 1
The Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Mr I.D. Swami, today denied the charge by the Chattisgarh Chief Minister, Mr Ajit Jogi, that the Intelligence Bureau (IB), under the directions of the Union Home Ministry had launched a surveillance operation against him.

In reply to a question at a press conference here today, the minister said no such ‘operation’ had been launched by the IB to defame Mr Jogi to harm the interests of the Congress in the next Assembly elections in the state.’’ Mr Jogi should have confidence in himself,’’ he said.

Mr Jogi had yesterday written a letter to the Prime Minister that the Home Ministry had directed the IB to gather and fabricate stories of corruption against the political opponents of the Bharatiya Janata Party in preparation for the election campaign in the Congress ruled- states.

Mr Swami said, if his ministry wanted to misuse the IB’s services, the agency would not be probing cases related to the Ayodhya issue against the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, and the Union Minister of Human Resources, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi. UNI


Civil Surgeon’s warning to ‘vaids’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
The local Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, yesterday warned “vaids” and “hakims” in the district that they were now covered under the PNDT Act and the word ‘pre-conception’ had been added along with “pre-natal diagnositic technique” in the amended Section of the Act.

In a statement here, Dr Walia said anyone determining the sex of a child prior to conception was liable to be punished under the Act. She said all ‘vaids’ and ‘hakims’ promising a male child by giving “medicines” before conception would be punished.

The Civil Surgeon said all CT scans and other imaging equipments had to be registered as per the PNDT Act. She said no GAMS or homoeopathy doctor could run an ultrasound centre. She said such persons could own an ultrasound machine and employ qualified persons to do the testing.

She said under the amended Act, the appropriate authority would have the power to summon any person in possession of information relating to violation of the provisions of the Act. She said the authorities concerned could also issue search warrants for any place suspected to be indulging in sex selection techniques or pre-natal sex determination. Dr Walia said the amendments had been discussed with the chairman of the legal cell of the Indian Medical Association, Dr O.P.S. Kande.


Combine makers allege harassment
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
The Nabha Agriculture Implements and Combine Manufacturers Welfare Association today alleged that the police as well as the civil officials were prosecuting farmers as well as manufacturers of combine harvesters due to certain lapses in the registration of combines in the state.

The combine manufacturers today appealed to the Chief Minister to take a lenient view of the farmers who had purchased combines before August 21, 2002, following which an amendment was made in the Central Motor Vehicle Rules, 1989, and 1993, after which combine harvesters were included in the category of construction equipment vehicle being an exclusive agricultural appliance.

The combine manufacturers made this plea after the district police, during a special drive, seized some combine harvesters which it claimed were manufactured by firms which were not approved and could not be registered according to the present norms. The district police chief, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, claimed that the gang, which was getting combines as well as other vehicles registered by preparing false documents, had also been busted.

The president of the Combine Manufacturers Welfare Association, Mr Avtar Singh Nanera, said in the absence of clear-cut provisions before August 21, 2002, there was certain vagueness in the provisions of the Motor Vehicle Rules due to which there were certain lapses in the system of registration. He said the farmers could not be held responsible of purchasing and registering these combine harvesters during this period as the district transport officers had issued registration certificates.

Mr Nanera requested the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take a Cabinet-level decision allowing the registration of all combine harvesters manufactured before August, 2002. He said the combine manufacturers were ready to rectify the lapses as per the requirements of the department.


‘Robbery abetter’ lies in hospital after interrogation
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
A controversy has arisen over the role of the police in arresting a local resident, Vikas Kumar, on the charge of abetting robbery, with he being admitted to the Government Rajindra hospital with injuries. Vikas was admitted to the hospital, immediately after he was presented in a local court by the police yesterday.

The Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ms G.K. Dhir, had remanded Vikas in the police custody for one day. However, he had to be admitted to the hospital following an application moved by his advocate urging for his medical examination.

Earlier, Vikas’s parents had filed an application in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate claiming that Vikas had been had been interrogated in the CIA Interrogation Centre of the police for about 10 days. The CJM had given one-day notice to division No 4 police, the Kotwali police and the CIA. All three agencies had said that Vikas was not with them. He was presented in the court yesterday.

The Balmik Dharamyudh Morcha president, Mr Harnek Gill, and the BSP Ambedkar unit president, Ms Seema Vaid, said Vikas became involved in a case in which one of his friends, Surinder, was accused of robbing Rs two lakh from a petrol pump. Surinder used to borrow scooter from Vikas.

The police approached Vikas in this context on March 19, said the leaders. The police took away Vikas’ scooter and asked the owner of the shop to send Vikas to the Division No 4 police station. Vikas was produced before the police authorities on the same day.

On the basis of information provided by Vikas, his friend, Surinder, was picked up from Jodhpur, but the police refused to let go Vikas, said the leaders. They said they along with some other persons, went to the CIA Centre where they met its in charge, Mr Didar Singh, and saw that Vikas had been severely tortured by the police.

They said their pleas for the release of Vikas fell on deaf ears. They even met the senior police officials. Later, they approached the court.

Vikas and Surinder are presently admitted to the local Government hospital. The medical file of Vikas states that he has incurred medico-legal injuries.


Employees given account statements
Our Correspondent

Bathinda April 1
The regional office of the Employees Provident Fund Organization celebrated its golden jubilee function here this noon. It gave annual account statements to employees of 10 major establishments functioning in the seven districts of Punjab.

Mr V.D. Gupta, Assistant Commissioner, said that the organization was amongst the biggest money managers of the country.

Mr B.K. Gupta, Income Tax Commissioner, who was also the chief guest said that by giving annual account statements of a section of contributors just a day after the close of the financial year, the EPFO had shown its efficiency.

The EPFO gave the account statements to as many as 83304 subscribers of Moga, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Mansa, Sangrur, Muktsar and Bathinda. Officials of as many as 24 large establishments, including Nestle, Moga, Vardhman Polytex, Bathinda etc attended the function.


MC has ‘Rs 7 cr to spend’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
“The Municipal Council has not only repaid the Rs 6.5 crore debt it had been carrying since 1997, but also become a council with Rs 7 crore in hand,” said Mr Bhupinder Bhullar, president of the Municipal Council, here today.

He said it had been made possible by special efforts for generating revenue for repaying the loans. He said, in his tenure as president of the civic body, various projects for better drinking water and sanitation had been launched in the city.

Mr Bhullar said the local unit of the NFL had paid Rs 2 crore as octroi to the Municipal Council, which had been due for some time. He said the council had also received Rs 1.72 crore from the Urban Development Fund. The construction of a water treatment plant in the leisure valley here was under way and its completion would solve the drinking-water problem of a large part of the city.


Paryas — a dedicated effort
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

JALANDHAR: For mentally challenged children, Paryas, a special school for mentally challenged children being run by the Red Cross Hospital Welfare section and supported scores of dedicated social workers, has proved to be a unique and successful effort towards making mentally disabled children totally self-reliant and independent individuals, apart from bringing a fresh ray of hope for parents of such children.

The school, which has been rendering yeoman’s service got kick-started at the Maqsudan Road premises of the Red Cross with the admission of just three children in 1993, currently has a strength of 63 children of varied age groups ranging between 5 and 30 years.

The students were not only being trained to do their daily chores independently, but also to undertake vocational training in paper bag making, block printing, candle making, assembly of electric sockets, gardening, cooking and pottery, which in turn help them in attaining financial independence, particularly as a number of local businessmen and industrialists come forward to provide them with employment. “Though the level of academic education of the inmates depends their age and I, every effort is being made to make them learn how to take care of themselves and help their parents by contributing in daily household chores. Besides this, they are also taught simple reading, writing, arithmatic, money transaction, socialising and other crafts,for which they are taken to markets and made to interact with people there,” said Ms Bhupinder Sandhu, chairman of the school. She further said of the 63 children, 32 were hostellers and the rest day scholars who were learning under the home management, which also included the training of parents by the school staff with an objective to teach how to take proper care of their wards.

“Actually, the entire training has been planned to enable the children to be a part of the main-stream in a normal way, without facing awkward situations. To achieve this, we purposefully effect students’ interaction with common people. Sometimes, we even send them to the market to sell vegetables grown by them in the kitchen garden of the school,” said Dr Kamala Prasad,Vice-President of the school.

Inquiries with the Paryas staff revealed that a large number of local and well-placed social workers kept coming to the rescue of the school by providing it with necessary gadgets and other facilities. “All of our 35,000 special toys have been provided by Mr Mohini Khosla for Hindustan Hydraulic, a local concern. Similarly, the management of the SSK switches has provided employment to our students by engaging them for the assembly of switch parts. They pay double remuneration to our students as compared to their other workers,” maintained Ms Reena Sharma, Principal of the school. According to her, an annual aid made of Rs 1 lakh was being provided to the school by a Canada-based NRI, Mr Ravi Juneja. “So much so, some people come here and celebrate their birthdays with the inmates. Judging that the daily water requirement of our students was swelling with the onset of summer, Mr Gunita Rana, a social worker, has promised that he will donate a submersible pump to the school within a month,” said Ms Sharma. She said though the monthly fee of the hostellers was Rs 1,500 the fee of more than 50 students had been waived up to 80 per cent due to their parents’ inability to pay the full fee.

“The students have won a number of gold and silver medals in the national and state-level games and competitions for mentally challenged students,” she said adding that during their recent visit, Dr Stephen Agrahm and Ms Bimala Ramalingam, a delegate of the International Red Cross and the Secretary General of the Indian Red Cross, respectively, had appreciated the achievements of the students and the scientific approach of the staff towards them.


PSEB engineers’ protest today
Tribune News Service

Patiala April 1
The PSEB Engineers Association today announced that engineers would hold dharnas all over the state on April 2 to protest against the “extreme haste shown by the Punjab Government in trying to push through the Electricity Reforms Bill without adequate discussion or debate on the recommendations of the Haldea Committees.” In a statement issued here, the association’s general secretary Mr H.S.Bedi said consumers did not know the contents of the recommendations made by the Haldea Committee and the impact these would have on the state’s economy and particularly on agricultural consumers and the poor

The association demanded that, first, the Haldea Committee report should be publicly discused with all stakeholders and the Punjab Electricity Regulatory Commission and debated upon in the Vidhan Sabha. Only after the outcome of the debate any further action could be considered. 


Docs’ plea against war
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 1
The Indian Doctors for Peace and Development, an affiliate of the International Physicans for Prevention of Nuclear War yesterday pleaded for an immediate end to war against Iraq as, besides causing deaths of innocent civilians it would also lead to unprecedented environmental degradation thereby adversely affecting the health of people. Dr Raman K. Aggarwal and Dr J.S. Virk, President and Hony Secretary of the Phagwara Chapter of the IDPD, rued that despite worldwide protests against was the USA and the UK governments had taken an aggressive step and had subjected the world to uncertainty.

Dr Aggarwal and Dr Virk disclosed that the South Asian Regional conference of IDPD would be held at Kathmandu in Nepal on April 25 and 26 to discuss the possible ways and means for establishing world peace.

The IDPD president, Dr L.S. Chawla, and General Secretary Dr Arun Mitra had attended meetings in Australia and Guwahati in this connection, they said.


General category staff convention on April 13
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 1
The General Categories Welfare Federation (Punjab) will hold a convention of general category employees at Talwandi Sabo on April 13, to celebrate the Supreme Court’s judgement in the Ajit Singh Janjua case. In the judgement, the apex court has reportedly asked the state governments to clear the promotion cases of the general category employees in different departments.

Mr Syam Lal Sharma, state president of the federation, in a press note issued here today, claimed that the Punjab government had taken a right decision by promoting three officials in the Punjab Secretariat today.

He said the decision to increase the quota of reserved categories from 14 per cent to 25 per cent in the government jobs would adversely affect the general category employees. Further, these categories would be affected by the implementation of the 85th Amendment to the Constitution.

The convention would press upon the state government to clear the pending cases of promotions in different departments.

He claimed that the departmental promotion committee had discussed the promotion cases on March 25, 2003, in view of the Supreme Court judgement. Accordingly, he said, Mr Milkha Singh had been promoted to the post of Deputy Secretary, Ms Jasbir Kaur to Under Secretary and Mr Harbhajan Singh as Under Secretary.


Centre may review VAT, says Dhindsa
Tribune News Service

Fatehgarh (Sunam), April 1
The Union Government may review some provisions of VAT after taking into account the reaction of trade and industry.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, should seek an apology from Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief, as he had not been able to prove a single charge of corruption against Mr Badal. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, secretary general, SAD (Badal), made these remarks here today.

Earlier, Mr Dhindsa paid tributes to Jathedar Gurbachan Singh Fatehgarh on first death anniversary.


Women want liquor shop shifted
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Women of Mandi Kalan village 35 km from here, have been on a dharna demanding the shifting of the liquor shop near a religious place of the village.

Sources said today that residents have been protesting against the shop near the religious place and alleged that indecent remarks were passed on women when passed by. Playing of vulgar songs also irks residents. Sources said that a complaint in this connection has been made to the Deputy Commissioner but an action was awaited.


Dhaba owners land in trouble
Our Correspondent

Lalru, April 1
The refusal to provide snacks and lay table for two relatives of a senior police official in Patiala landed two local dhaba owners in trouble last night.

According to the dhaba-workers, the two persons reached the dhaba on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway in Lalru Market at about 11 p.m. and asked the dhaba workers to lay table and chairs for them and serve them drinks. But they became aggressive after the dhaba-owners refused to lay table for them for drinking purpose. This led to a scuffle between the two parties.

One of the persons reportedly made a call from his mobile phone to the police. Subsequently, two police vehicles reached the spot. The police personnel picked the dhaba owners — Mr Parveen Kumar and Mr Matia — and detained them at the Lalru police station for over 24 hours.

DSP Balwainder Singh and SHO Lalru Karan Sher Singh could not be contacted.


Union flays system of storing paddy
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 1
The Punjab State Warehouse Field Employees Union yesterday announced that the present system of storing paddy jointly with rice millers was not acceptable.

Addressing delegates during an executive committee meeting of the union, its newly elected president, Mr Akshar Kumar, said the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) had 80 lakh MT storage capacity points at different places in the state even as it was scheduled to procure only 10 lakh MT of paddy during the forthcoming season.

The meeting unanimously passed a resolution asking the operation management to discontinue with the old-age practice of storing paddy in partnership with private parties. It was also decided to prevail upon the management to relieve 12 Assistant Financial Controllers, who were employed on contract basis since 1999 in violation of the rules.

The meeting further said the corporation management should accept their long pending demands, failing which a statewide agitation would be launched soon.


Potato price crash worries farmers
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, April 1
Farmers of this region are under compulsion to sell potato produce at a non-lucrative price in absence of buyers and a procurement policy of the state or central government despite claiming that diversification of agriculture was priority.

The summer has set in and farmers have started visiting cold stores to book space to their produce, which start rotting as temperature rises. They have not been finding enough space in cold stores due to alleged artificial scarcity of space created by the vested interests.

Long queues of tractor-trailers carrying potato bags can be seen in front of cold stores dotting the region, for the past many days and the farmers have been spending sleepless nights in the open awaiting to store produce. Nearly 15000 acres in Bathinda district alone, were under the potato crop this year.

In the past 10 days, lack of space in cold stores and buyers have forced farmers to sell the produce at throwaway prices. The price of potato (80 kg bag has fallen to Rs 80 from Rs 350.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhillon, a former Minister and potato grower pointed out that he had witnessed such crash in the price of potato for the first time. He added that if the authorities concerned did not help farmers, the price might fall further.

Mr Surjeet Singh, another potato grower, alleged that a few owners of cold stores of Punjab had increased storage charges considerably after knowing that farmers had to store the produce. He added that potato growers first incurred losses due to decline in market price of the produce now they would suffer more losses for shelling out more for paying rent to cold stores.

Farmers alleged that price of potato in the market had been reduced and stores charges hiked under a conspiracy by a few traders and owners of cold stores. They added that potato farmers were being ‘looted’ and the state or the central government had been doing nothing in this respect.

They said that if no action was taken by the authorities farmers would be forced to dump the produce on the roadsides or plough the produce in fields.

Various farmer organisations demanded that the Punjab government should help potato growers by ensuring remunerative prices of the crop on one hand and bringing down the storage charges on the other hand.


Robbers injure CMO, wife
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 1
Robbers struck at the house of Dr Bui Dass Dogra, Chief Medical Officer of Dorangla, near Bridge Number 4 of Sujanpur and took away cash and jewellery worth a few lakh rupees after injuring the CMO and his wife.

According to sources, seven to eight robbers broke in at about 1 a.m. According to Col H.S. Thind (retd), a relative of the couple, the robbers took away 40 tolas of gold ornaments, a diamond set, Rs 38,000 cash and several other articles.

The police post of Sujanpur is within 100 yards of the house. Persons of the locality said the police had been informed almost immediately after the incident, but it had not reached there in time.

The injured couple was rushed to a local hospital, where it is reported to be out of danger.

The Subdivisional Magistrate, Mr Puneet Goel, the Superintendent of Police, Mr Manminder Singh, and other officials reached the hospital and assured the couple of every possible help.

In February, robbers had struck at four houses at Pathankot and Kathua in Jammu and Kashmir and paraded naked women of a particular community.

About a month ago, in two incidents — at Defence Colony Chatwal and Shahpur-Kandi road — robbers had struck at some houses and injured the occupants, but the police had failed to catch the culprits.

The locals are sore over it.

When contacted, the SSP of Gurdaspur, Mr R.P.S. Brar, said the police has launched a massive operation to catch the culprits.


Mortgage bank cheated of Rs 70,000
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 1
A fraud amounting of Rs 70,000 as withdrawal from Land Mortgage Bank, Pathankot, by an unidentified person has been reported to police station, Taragarh, in Pathankot subdivision in the district today.

Sukhdev Singh, son of Surta Singh, president of Chhaurriyan Datyal village reported to the police that he owned 12 kanals of land in his village with hadbast no. 110 and khasra no. 4R/10. He purchased the land in 1980.

The complainant said he came to know that some unidentified person had detained a loan of Rs 1 lakh for setting up dairy farm and a loan of Rs 40,000 for installing a tubewell in the village by mortgaging his land to the said bank. So much so Rs 70,000 has been withdrawn from his account by the unidentified person.

The complainant said when he came to know that a fraud has been committed in his account in the said bank he approached the bank authorities and wanted a copy of the mortgage deed. He alleged that bank officials refused to oblige him on this account. Later, the complainant secured the copy of the mortgage deed from the tehsil and lodged a complaint.

The complainant said the photograph of the person who posed as Sukhdev Singh has appeared on the mortgage deed which was attested by Bansi Lal, numberdar, and Buta Singh as witnesses. The mortgage deed was entered on November 21, last year.

The police has started the investigation.


5 Bangladesh nationals held
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 1
The police here has arrested five Bangladesh nationals while they were crossing the Indo-Pakistan border.

They have been identified as Mohammed Samsoor, Mohammed Sufi Mian, Mohammed Vinmool Haq, Mohammed Abdul Dorar and Mohammed Hasul Mian.

A spokesman of the police said here today that Mr Surinder Kumar Mishra, DSP, BSF had complained to the police that on March 29 the Bangla nationals were arrested while crossing the Indo-Pakistan border near Narot Jaimal Singh police station. A case under Sections 3, 34, 20 of the Indian Passport Act and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act has been registered. The arrested were remanded in police custody till April 2.


Student commits suicide
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 1
A first year student of MCom, Atul Kumar Garg, committed suicide by hanging himself in his room in the Shaheed Bhagat Singh hostel on the Punjabi University campus here today.

According to sources, the suicide came to light at 8.30 pm when Atul’s roommate banged the door that was locked from inside.

Atul had hanged himself from a ceiling fan in his room. As the body had started emanating smell, it could be that Atul had hanged himself in the morning itself.

Atul’s roommate told Chandigarh tribune that Atul had been in tension for some time. He said the tension was over some personal matter and refused to divulge any more details. Atul hailed from Sunam in Sangrur district.


Lovers commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 1
Rakesh Kumar (19) and his beloved, Jeet Kaur (18), both of Mohalla Nanaksar here, committed suicide today by consuming poison. A case has been registered in this regard.

Rakesh belonged to a Dalit family, while Jeet was from a Jat family, which was a major obstacle preventing them from getting married to each either.

After consuming poison, both were admitted to the Civil Hospital here, where Jeet Kaur died soon after and Rakesh Kumar was shifted to Amritsar. He died on the way. The post-mortem examination of the bodies was conducted at Civil Hospital here.


Gang of vehicle thieves busted, 4 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 1
The district police has busted a gang of vehicle thieves with the arrest of four of its members.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press not issued here yesterday said the arrested were identified as Ashant, Gurpreet, Subhash Chander and Kulbir. Their accomplice, Pushpinder Pal escaped. Their interrogation led to the recovery of five vehicles from their possession.

Meanwhile, in another case, the police arrested Gaurav Kumar near Basti Adda Chowk here last night and recovered a stolen gold chain from his possession.


Three contract killers held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
Three contract killers who had reportedly committed three murders in Uttar Pardesh have been arrested at Mansa.

Mr S.S. Srivastva, SSP, Mansa, suspects their involvement in the snatching of Rs 3500 from Pawan Kumar, a pesticide dealer on March 20.

The SSP said that the suspects had confessed to their involvement in depriving a person in Bathinda of his motorcycle and another person of his car at Patiala.

Mr Srivastva said that two pistols of .12 bore, four live cartridges, one Yamaha motor cycle and one Maruti car (both stolen) were recovered from them. They have been identified as Amit Kumar, his brother Ravi Kumar and Bhupinder Singh, all residents of Meerut in Uttar Pardesh.


Caught on bribery charge
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 1
The Vigilance Bureau has arrested Brij Lal, a mechanic at the telephone exchange of Burj Mehma village on the charge of taking a bribe of Rs 500 from a subscriber for repairing his telephone.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, Superintendent of Police (Vigilance) at Bathinda, said in a press note issued here today that the telephone of the subscriber, Mr Kuldip Singh of Balluana village, had been out of order since March 23 and he had lodged a complaint at the exchange in this regard. Brij Lal sought a bribe for repairing the telephone. He was caught yesterday accepting the bribe.

A case has been registered against Brij Lal.


SI remanded in police custody
Our Correspondent

Kharar, April 1
Sub Inspector Harnam Singh Rana, working in the office of the IG, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, has been remanded in police custody till April 3. He was arrested for giving photo copies of secret documents to Dr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, Director, Animal Husbandry, Punjab, who has been remanded in police custody till April 2.

The order in the SIs case was passed by the Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, Mrs Preeti Sahni, today. The Magistrate had also issued the order in Dr Chahal’s case.


GND varsity appointments
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 1
Professor and Coordinator of Centre for Genetics Disorders, Dr Jai Rup Singh was appointed Dean of Academic Affairs of Guru Nanak Dev University for a period of one year till March 31, 2004 here today.

Dr Kanwaljit Singh, Reader in Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Regional campus, Jalandhar, has been appointed Dean Students Welfare at Regional Campus, Jalandhar.

The Vice-Chancellor has extended the term of Dr R.K. Bedi, Professor of physics as Dean Students Welfare, Dr Gurnam Singh, Professor of political science as Director Research; B.R. Batra, Head of Guru Ram Das School of Planning as Director of Planning and Monitoring; Prof S.N. Mishra, Department of Guru Ram Das School of Planning as Director Consultancy; Dr M.P. Mahajan, Head of applied chemistry department as coordinator, University-Industry Linkage Programme; Head of Applied Chemical Sciences and Technology Department as Coordinator of Textile Industry Service Centre; Dr Amarjit Singh Sidhu, Reader in Commerce and Business Management Department of the warden of Boys Hostel, Dr Mrs Gurpreet Bal as the warden of girls hostel for another one year till March 31, 2004.


Gurmat Sangeet Chair approved
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 1
Punjabi University is all set to establish a Gurmat Sangeet Chair to provide authentic training, teaching and research in Gurmat Sangeet.

Sating this here today, Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai said the university Syndicate had approved the setting up of the Gurmat Sangeet Chair in the varsity to mark the 400th Parkash Utsav of Guru Grant Sahib. Elaborating the objectives for the setting up of the Chair, he said Gurmat Sangeet was the finest synthesis of great musical traditions of the world which had the unparalleled capacity to elevate the spiritual growth of the self, and to act as a unifying force to integrate people.

The Vice-Chancellor said that Bibi Jasbir Kaur Khalsa, chairperson of the Sri Guru Gyan Parkash Foundation, New Delhi, had come forward to provide all financial assistance to the university for the Chair and that a memorandum of understanding (MoU) had been signed with the Foundation for this purpose.

According to the MoU, the Foundation will provide finances for the Chair for a period of 15 years from the current financial year. While Rs 7 lakh will be given in the first year, the Foundation will give Rs 6 lakh per year during the next 14 years. The university, on its part, will provide a building for the Chair and will make provisions for different levels of certification and diploma courses in Gurmat Sangeet as per the university rules. The courses are yet to be cleared by the Syndicate.

Another significant aspect related to the Chair is the establishment of Sant Suchha Singh Archives of Music on the Punjabi University campus in which recordings of kirtan tradition belonging to classical music, folk music, sufi music and Hindustani music will be preserved for further use. Recordings of Punjabi folk music done by the university will also be treasured in this museum.

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