Saturday, April 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Westerners fear persecution 
Not keen on visiting Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 4
After the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Centre, Sikhs in the USA became victims of hate crimes as they were mistaken for Arabs. Now it is the Westerners who are fearing persecution in view of the ongoing Iraq war.

Many Westerners from the USA and European countries are either leaving Pakistan or have changed their itinerary and decided not to visit the country as anti-American sentiments are running high there.

Dr Lundtner and his friend, Ms Zemanvit both Austrian tourists, are keen to visit the Golden Temple, but have no wish to go to Pakistan as embassy officials have warned them of possible persecution due to their looks.

Their sentiments were echoed by two Jewish Israeli girls from New York, Ms Avshaj Udi and Ms Atora Schimen, who are staying at a Golden Temple serai.

Considering India safer, they have categorically dismissed plans to visit Pakistan. However, they feel that in these times, Americans are not safe anywhere.

Ms Shirin Bhandari, owner of a guest house here, which is often used by embassy officials and tourists, said many American teachers from Lahore American School crossed over to India soon after the war began and extended their holiday. Among those who returned to Pakistan were Mr Kevin Gohan, Ms Elizabeth Fisher, and a couple, Mr and Mrs Middleton, following assurances of high security from the school authorities and parents of wards in Pakistani Punjab. Fearing threat to his life, Mr Kevin enquired about “stand-by booking” of a room for one month in case he had to flee Pakistan on a short notice.

A German woman, Ms Braumer Rudolf Maimiliam, apprehensive of being mistaken for an American, has pasted a “Germany” sticker on her camper.

At this time of the year, when many foreigners come to the holy city on their way to Pakistan via the Wagah route, not a single booking by any Westerner has been made. The Golden Temple and other places, too, have registered much lesser number of foreigners compared to the figure during the corresponding period last year, sources said.


Wheat yet to arrive in Punjab mandis
Tribune Reporters

Chandigarh, April 4
The decision of the Punjab Government to start wheat procurement on April 1 notwithstanding, the arrival of wheat in the grain markets of the state is yet to begin. One of the reasons given for delay in arrival of wheat has been the recent spells of inclement weather in some pockets and overcast sky in the rest.

In most markets, wheat had started arriving by April 3 last year. But this time, both procurement agencies and commission agents expect the first arrivals not before April 9.

A survey of the grain markets conducted by Tribune reporters revealed that though logistics were in place, there was no trace of new produce anywhere.

SAMRALA: There is no arrival of wheat in the grain markets at Samrala and Machhiwara, says Mr Jaspal Singh Jassi, SDM of Samrala. Mr Jassi said though all arrangements for procurement of wheat were complete, bad weather had delayed the arrival of wheat.

Mr Balbir Singh Rajewal, General Secretary of the BKU, said farmers had been suffering in the absence of “pucca” sheds in the grain market at Samrala. Mr Rajewal said some pucca sheds in the Machhiwara grain market, were not enough. He pleaded that the remaining sheds should be completed immediately before the arrival of wheat.

MANDI AHMEDGARH: Wheat arrivals are yet to start here. Officials were expect 5.25 lakh tonnes of wheat arrivals this year as compared to 5.13 lakh tonnes last year. Mr Gurcharan Singh, Secretary, Local Market Committee, said the FCI, the State Food and Supplies Department, Markfed, Punsup and Panjab Agro Industries would procure wheat here.

AMLOH: The arrival of wheat has not started as yet, says Mr Darshan Gopal Sharma, Secretary, Market Committee. All arrangements had been made for the purchase of wheat which was expected to arrive in the market on Monday.

KHAMANO: There is no arrival of wheat here. A meeting was held in Khamano to draft a procurement policy. Mr Ravinder Kumar, SDM, said all necessary steps had been taken for smooth procurement of wheat. He hoped that the wheat arrival would start by April 13.

SANGRUR: Though the Punjab Government officially started the procurement of wheat on April 1, not even a single grain of wheat has arrived in the grain markets of the district so far, official sources told TNS. Last year, wheat started arriving on April 9 with 1099 MTs of wheat procured on the first day. According to official sources, wheat will arrive in the grain markets around that time this year too.

The Sangrur district, which had been topping the list for the past three years in wheat production in the state, a total of 12,52,331 MTs was procured in 2002. The district authorities have fixed a target of 13,72,500 MTs of wheat during the current year. The Agriculture Department has predicted that Sangrur would produce 18,87,000 MTs of wheat.

Mr Harbans Lal Bagga, Additional District Food and Supply Controller, told TNS that the government had pressed six procurement agencies into service in Sangrur district, namely Pungrain (Food and Supply Dept), Punsup, Markfed, FCI, Warehousing Corporation, and Punjab Agro. A total of 252 procurement centres had been set up in the district.

The district administration had arranged 41315 bales (each bale contains 500 gunny bags) for the storage of wheat though the district requires 57400 bales. Official sources said the remaining bales of gunny bags were being received almost daily by the procurement agencies concerned.

The administration has also directed the SDMs and the District Mandi Officer to ensure proper supply of drinking water, sanitation and lighting facilities in the procurement centres. These arrangements will be reviewed in the days to come.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, has also ordered the formation of public grievances redressal committees at all 252 procurement centres for settling on the spot the problems and grievances of farmers. These committees will have representatives of farmers, arhtiyas, market committees and procurement agencies.

JALANDHAR: Even as the arrival of wheat crop has not been registered in any of the mandis falling in Doaba region the Punjab Food Supply Department, district administration and agencies have made elaborate arrangements to tackle the flow of wheat in an effective manner and to save farmers from any inconvenience during the procurement of their crop.

Enquiries by The Tribune revealed that none of the mandis in Hoshiarpur, Jalandhar, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr have received crop so far.

Emphasis is being laid down by the state government on the creation of requisite storage space, time bound auction and lifting of foodgrains so that glut can be avoided. “We have made every possible arrangement and we will ensure that the payment to the farmer is made within 48 hours of the auction of his crop,” said Mr Avtar Henry, Punjab Minister for Food and Civil Supplies.

“Though we are expecting arrival of about 1.10 lakh matric tonnes of crop we have made arrangements for storage of 1.20 lakh metric tonnes of crop,” he said, adding that the procurement would be done by five agencies of the state and the FCI at the ratio of 67 and 33.

Referring to the arrangements for procurement in the district, Mr K. Siva Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, said 74 mandis had been earmarked and allocated to various agencies.

AMRITSAR: Owing to late sowing wheat crop has not yet arrived in the grain markets of the city. Mr Balbir Singh, a mandi supervisor at the Bhagtanwala grain market, said as usual wheat would reach markets after the Baisakhi mela.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Iqbal Singh Sidhu, said around 11.5 lakh metric tonnes of wheat would reach markets this time. As many as 111 purchase cantre had been established for the purpose.


High priests ban books by Kala Afghana
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 4
The Sikh clergy at a meeting, at Akal Takht secretariat here today banned books by Canada-based cop-turned Sikh scholar Gurbax Singh Kala Afghana for allegedly distorting Sikh history.

Reading, buying or re-printing of the controversial books have been banned. The Sikh high priests have also summoned Mr Kala Afghana to explain his position by May 10 at Akal Takht. Earlier, Mr Kala Afghana was allowed to clarify his position via video-conferencing as he had pleaded that he could be arrested as he entered India for his links with Sant Jarnail Singh Bhinderanwale. "Ill health" was another reason for seeking exemption from appearing at Akal Takht. However, the video conferencing could not he held due to non-cooperation of the SGPC which did not provide needed infrastructure to the Sikh high priests for conferencing with Kala Afghana.

Mr Kala Afghana authored a set of 10 books — "Bipran Ki Rit Ton Sach da Marg". The foreword to one of the books of Mr Kala Afghana was written by Mr Gurtej Singh, National Professor of Sikhism.

The meeting was attended by Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Tarlochan Singh, acting Jathedar Keshgarh Sahib, Giani Bhagwan Singh, Head Granthi Akal Takht and Giani Jagtar Singh, Granthi Golden Temple.

The Sikh high priests have also decided to seek clarification from Mr Jarnail Singh Dogranwala, husband of Bibi Bhajan Kaur Dogranwala, an SGPC member from Kapurthala District, allegedly for assaulting Mr Harjinder Singh, a 'parcharak' of the SGPC's Dharm Parchar Committee. Mr Harjinder Singh had complained that Mr Dogranwala pulled his beard. He had alleged that he was deputed by Mr Jaswinder Singh Advocate, an SGPC member to arrange a 'religious one act play' at Kapurthala. However, when he (Harjinder Singh) went to the house of Mr Dogranwala to inform him about the proposed play, he was allegedly beaten up.

Akal Takht today turned down the request of Prof Manjit Singh, a former Jathedar, Keshgarh Sahib, for seeking report from the SGPC as to why he was removed from the post. The high priests, however, decided that the matter was sub judice as case was pending with the Sikh Judicial Commission challenging the removal of Prof Manjit Singh. It was also decided to pose a question to Prof Manjit Singh, whether he had any faith in the SGPC, Akal Takht or the Sikh judicial commission. The high priests were of the view that though Prof Manjit Singh had not filed a petition before the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission. He had got it done by proxy.


Question mark over ‘Nanakshahi’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
What is in a name? Much, if you ask Dr Harnam Singh Shan, a Sikh scholar, who has raised questions over the use of the word “Nanakshahi’’ for the new calendar, devised by Canada-based Mr Pal Singh Purewal, which the SGPC is all set to implement from April 14.

His objection is that the word ‘’Shahi’’ is adjective form of the Persian word ‘’Shah’’, meaning the King of a country, chess or playing cards. It is also used as a title by Muslim faqirs. It, therefore, means ‘’Shahi’’ or ‘royal’; a word used by the followers of a sect of Hazrat Ali, as well as for a small, coin of Persia (Iran).

Dr Shan, in a communication to The Tribune, has gone on to give several explanations for the word in question and also justify why it should not be used with the word ‘’Nanak’’, though Nanak has many suffixes given by his wide following. He has been variously described as Guru Nanak Dev, Hazarat Nanak Shah, Nanak Nath and Nanak Lama: all devotees vying with one another to proclaim Nanak as their own.

The alternative offered by Dr Shan is to name the proposed calendar as Sikh calendar or Guru Nanak calendar and he goes on to draw parallels with Christian era. He is against calling the new document Nanak Shahi jantari and has preferred to call it Guru Nanak jantari. Likewise, he has coined the expressions like Guru Nanak era or Sikh era, Guru Nanak jantari or Sikh jantari, Guru Nanak calendar or Sikh calendar ‘’so as to avoid any confusion or controversy at any stage in future’’.


Foreign varsities come to India
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Eyeing the tremendous “exploitable foreign crazy” potential of the Indian market in general and Punjab in particular, various enterprising educational institutions and universities from the western hemisphere have started setting up their campuses here.

For example, Centennial College Of Applied Arts and Technology of Toronto — Ontario’s oldest community college with practical, career-oriented programmes — is opening a location in SAS Nagar, near here, from the ensuing academic session. Norwest Colleges promoted by the BSP group of Australia have already signed an agreement with the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Public Administration in Chandigarh to start their Indian campus here. It plans to start marketing courses to begin with.

“We shall be fully operational by September,” says Ms Julie Turner, Director, International Operations of Centennial College, which has four campuses and several satellite locations in Toronto, besides its foreign campuses in the CIS and China.

The Centennial College and the Anabhau Foundation are setting up their Indian campus, which is christened as the Centennial International Institute of Technology. The Anabhau Foundation comprising Mr Patwant Singh (architect, author and community leader), Air Marshal Randhir Singh (retd), Mr Chander Mohan, Dr G.P. Singh (Chairman and CEO, Karta Technologies, San Antonio, USA) and Prof Mohanbir Sawhney (McCormick Tribune Professor of Technology at the Kellogg School of Management, USA) has envisioned to promote the cause of world class education and establish schools providing liberal education in Punjab villages.

With the establishment of its Indian campus, those who get their diplomas or degrees from Centennial International will face no problem in getting their qualifications equated or validated after their immigration to Canada. As such they will be treated on a par with their counterparts having done similar courses from any community college in Canada.

The initial concept of setting up distant education centres or even giving a franchise to local entrepreneurs has failed to work well.

“The idea is to have our own campus and offer our own diplomas and degrees to successful candidates so that they do not face any acceptance difficulty overseas. We have nothing to do with visas or immigration. We are only into education,” asserted Ms Julie Turner.

“We are here not to make money but to provide quality education. We would like our prospective students to be of certain level and good in English to get admission. The faculty that will come and take control of our new Indian campus will have fairly good representation from Canada".

“One of the redeeming features of our college will be that those admitted here to any course can continue and complete their degree from any Centennial College in Canada also. A similar facility will be available to students of the college in Canada to continue their studies here. We are also setting up a ultra-modern hostel at our SAS Nagar campus".

“Punjab has a fairly large interest in Canada as more than 60 per cent of the Indian-Canadian population in Canada is from Punjab,” says Mr Ravi Juneja, a consultant representing the Anabhau Foundation, hoping that the establishment of a world-class air-conditioned campus with the state-of-the-art infrastructure with the director and academic coordinators coming from Canada, the new institution will meet the aspirations of not only those who wish to settle abroad but also those wishing to have quality education in nursing, business, information technology, hospitality and tourism administration.

In Ontario, the college has 13,500 full-time students & 40,000 part-time ones. It has articulation agreements with the University of Toronto, York University, and others. It offers more than 100 degree/diploma and certificate programmes on a full and part time basis in business, communication arts, community services, engineering technology, health and transportation.

She hopes to initially limit the students strength to 450 in 10 courses that will be initially offered at the SAS Nagar campus. To be concluded


SAD forgets ‘Dharam Yudh Morcha martyrs’
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Kup Kalan, April 4
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) -a party which prides on the history of sacrifices and morchas for the problems of the masses today failed to observe the 20th anniversary of the 12 persons, Muslims and Hindus, killed in police firing here on the eve of the Dharam Yudh Morcha on April 4, 1983. Twenty-two persons were killed and 65 injured seriously in the state during the rasta roko stir.

No leader of the party, not even local ones, organised a function none even contacted the kin of the deceased, the anguished families today offered prayers in their village gurdwaras and to lamented indifference of the leadership towards those who sacrificed their lives for the Panth. Then Congress MLA from the constituency, Sajida Begum, had resigned on the issue.

Those died in the firing included Bhag Singh (Jandiali), Inderjit Singh (Dudhal), Gurmit Singh (Manvi), Gurcharan Singh (Kanganwal), Ujagar Singh (Jogi Majra), Jagir Singh, Aman Kumar (Khanpur), Mohammad Ismail (Ranwa), Mohammad Rasiq (Malerkotla), Amarjit Singh (Mandiala), Gurdial Singh (Uppal Kheri) and Maghar Singh (Lasoi).

Mr Hari Singh, president of the Dharam Yudh Morcha Shaheed and Peerit Committee was angry and indignant. He also lost his father in the firing at Kup Kalan chowk. “What can we expect from the present regime when our own people have deserted us? I have been pursuing the cause of the families of the martyrs for the past 20 years but to no avail. All promises made by Mr Prakash Singh Badal as CM have not been fulfilled. Some of the families of the martyrs are finding it hard to eke out a living.”

The condition of Balbir Kaur of Jogi Majra, whose husband Jagroop Singh was killed in the firing, is deplorable. She cynically comments: “But for Rs 500 in cash and trunkfull of siropas from the party, no meaningful assistance has been forthcoming. We used to be called on the stage at the samagams but this time they have even dispensed with this formality too.”

She claims that her husband was bayoneted by policemen as he was trying to carry two injured persons to safety. The family had to sell their small land holding to meet the cost of treatment for more than two years and their infant son too died due to lack of care. He participated in the morcha out of conviction but did not know that his party would let him down,” she said adding that senior leaders like Mr Badal, Mr S.S Barnala and Mr G.S. Tohra use to call on her husband but had shied away from offering any financial assistance.

She manages the household with the meagre income from selling milk and regrets that she could not ensure proper upbringing to her three sons or secure jobs during the SAD regime.

Mr Hari Singh claims that the story of the other widows is no different. The only leader who remembered us was Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who held a samagam last month and announced Rs 50,000 each to the schools in the villages of the martyrs for purchasing computers.

“Intra-party politics has eclipsed the sacrifices made by the people of the state to lay the foundations of the party. It is a telling comment on the party that in 1983 the SGPC had drawn an elaborate programme to immerse the ashes of the martyrs at Kiratpur Sahib, today no one even bothered to pay us a courtesy call,” he pointed out.

Mr Hari Singh said the demands of the committee, accepted but unimplemented by the Akali government, include round the clock power supply, a memorial to those who died at Malerkotla and Kup Kalan, grant of Rs 3 lakh each for the village panchayats, besides bus permits for the dependents.


Intruder shot in Fazilka sector
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 4
An ambush party of the Border Security Force shot a Pakistani intruder on international border in the Fazilka sector late on Thursday. According to an FIR lodged at the Sadar police station by officers of the 42 battalion of the BSF, the ambush party was on duty near the border in Churiwala Chisti village when they saw the Pakistani man trying to enter the Indian territory by crossing the fence.

On being challenged, the intruder tried to flee back to Pakistan, but was shot before he could do that. Two other intruders with him managed to cross over to Pakistan.

The slain intruder was about 50 and nothing was recovered from him. 


Commandos to patrol rail tracks
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 4
The Punjab police has deployed five companies of state commandos to patrol 682 kilometres of the provincial railway track on which trains ply during night hours.

Disclosing this here today, Additional Director-General of Police, Railways, S.C. Jain said this measure had been taken because the strength of the Punjab Government Railway Police force had not been increased during the past 10-years even as the number of trains and passengers had registered a huge increase. He said as the concurrence of the Railways was needed to increase the GRP force, the matter had been regularly taken up with the Railways since 1993 without any success.

The ADGP said at present the Ambala - Amritsar railway section from Shambhu to Dhilwan and the Jalandhar - Pathankot - Madhopur section from Jalandhar to Madhopur was being covered through foot patrolling by commandos. He said to control and investigate crime in the jurisdiction of the state GRP a Punjab CIA staff team had been formed.

Giving details of other measures taken by the GRP, Mr Jain said door frame metal detectors had been installed at important railway stations and checking was being done through dog squads. He said at the Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Attari railway stations close circuit televisions had been installed. Efforts were also on to start the scanning of baggage in Amritsar and Ludhiana through scanners on the lines of the airports, he added.

He said as for as crime was concerned as many as 1,025 cases were registered during 2001 whereas, 1077 cases were registered during 2002. He said the increase in the numbers of cases had been mainly under the narcotics, Arms and Excise Acts. About 1,179 kg of poppy husk was seized in 2002 as compared to 422 kg seized in 2001, he said, adding that nearly 6 kg of opium was also seized in 2002 as compared to 1.4 kg in the earlier year.

Mr Jain said unmanned railway crossings continued to pose problems, as 23 persons had been killed and as many as 20 injured due to accidents occurring at the unmanned crossings.


Minor changes in rail-link plan likely
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 4
The Railway Minister, Mr Nitish Kumar, has assured people of the area that minor realignments may be made to avoid most of the pucca structures falling in the plan for the Abohar - Fazilka rail line. The changes may exempt the Nirankari Satsang Bhavan under construction on the national highway here.

Responding to the representation made by Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, and subsequent meeting thereof, Mr Nitish Kumar said in his letter that a fresh survey for the construction of the rail link was conducted keeping in view requirements of the defence forces.

Mr Jakhar had in his letter expressed concern over inordinate delay in finalising the rail link This, he added, would be beneficial for inter-state trade also, besides making journey comfortable for residents of Abohar and Fazilka towns and remote villages located on the link roads.

The railway authorities had told Mr Jakhar that another survey was also in progress to link Abohar with Sangria/Sadulshehar in Rajasthan and Tohana in Haryana via Dabwali, Sirsa and Bhuna.

Meanwhile, the state government had issued a notification under Section 4 of the Punjab Land Acquisition Act for acquiring land in Abohar, Burjmuhar, Dangerkhera, Nihalkhera, Chuhriwala Dhanna, Awa, Ramkot, Beganwali, Khuikhera, Khippanwali, Ghallu, Saultanpura, Jandwala Kharta, Sureshwala and Hiranwali. The notification signed by Mr A.K. Dubey, Principal Secretary, Public Works (B and R) Department, had been issued after getting consent from the Punjab Governor on the revised plan to lay the rail line from outer signals of Fazilka to Abohar, it is learnt.


Mobile lab project yet to gain speed
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Phillaur, April 4
The project to provide mobile forensic science analysis laboratories in all 21 police districts of the state is hanging fire for the past several years.

The 11th Finance Commission had sanctioned a grant of a few crores for setting up the laboratories in the state, but due to serious shortage of manpower to run these, the project is far from seeing the light of the day.

The issue came up during an informal discussion between Punjab Police officers and forensic scientists from Punjab and Delhi. It was learnt that the Forensic Laboratory, Chandigarh, had got a grant for constructing a building equipped with modern gadgets. The building could not come up because the Punjab Government is yet to provide land for the same.

Dr (Mrs) P Goyal, Director, Punjab Forensic Science Laboratory, said the proposal stood blocked due to shortage of manpower.

The mobile forensic laboratory project is the need of the day, according to police sources in the district. The proposal was mooted about a decade ago.

The need for the laboratories was felt owing to the long delay in getting reports from the only forensic laboratory in Chandigarh. Mobile laboratories can reach the crime scene and help the police in collection of samples or clues. This would also have reduced the workload at the laboratory in Chandigarh.

Now all police districts send samples to the laboratory and wait for months to get the report. With crime increasing every year, the load on the forensic scientists is also increasing.


NCM member to meet SGPC representatives
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 4
In a significant development, Mr V.V. Augstine, a Christian member of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), will visit the border belt and meet the representatives of the SGPC to clear any 'confusion' about the forcible conversion of Sikhs into Christianity.

Mr Augstine has been deputed to visit the border belt by Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, NCM, on the request of Mr P.K. Samantaroy, Bishop, Diocese of Amritsar, Church of North India. In his communication to the NCM, Mr Samantaroy had clarified that Christian missionaries were not resorting to any forcible conversions.


Salary account of office attached
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 4
A court at Sunam has ordered the attachment of salary account Head of the District Ayurvedic and Unani Officer, Sangrur, on an application filed by Mr Sham Lal Garg, a retired Medical Officer ayurveda of Sunam.

Counsel for Mr Garg said today that the court ordered the attachment in a case of step-up increments eight/18 years of service to Mr Garg. He added the court earlier had directed the department through a decree on September 4,2002 to fix the pay of Mr Garg in two months after giving step-up increments on the expiry of eight/18 years of service.

The counsel said the department had “failed” to execute the court order which made Mr Garg to file an execution application against the department.

With the attachment of the salary account head, nearly 150 employees of 46 dispensaries and District Ayurvedic and Unani Office, Sangrur, would not be able to get salaries even for the month of March this year. These included doctors, pharmacists and midwives, sources in the district office said.

Dr Inderjit Kanjalia officiating District Ayurvedic and Unani Officer, Sangrur, said his office had submitted the salary bills of the employees to the District Treasury Office for March but the bills could not be passed following attachment of the account. 


No order to attach Ripjit’s property
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
The Punjab and Sink Bank has said that no order has been issued for attaching the property of Mr Ripjit Singh Brar, brother of senior Congress leader and member of Parliament Jagmeet Singh Brar, in connection with the failure of a Chandigarh-based company, of which Mr Ripjit Singh is the Managing Director, to repay loan taken from the bank.

The bank sent a letter to the company, Chandigarh Packaging Product Limited, in which it stated that the company was given a bridge loan of Rs 50 lakh against the public issue. The public issue could not be fully subscribed, the bank stated.

The bank filed a recovery suit with the Debt Recovery Tribunal, New Delhi, for the recovery of about Rs 1.03 crore interest. A recovery certificate for an amount of Rs 1.04 crore plus interest had been issued by the Recovery Officer, DRT-II, New Delhi.

The bank stated that the company had informed the bank that recovery proceedings for Rs 47 crore plus interest had been issued against the company.

The bank asked the company to quote its offer as the company had shown willingness for the settlement of the loan.

Mr Ripjit Singh had said yesterday that he would file a defamation suit against the Debts Recovery Tribunal, Delhi, for stating that he and three others had to repay a loan of Rs 47 crore to the Punjab and Sink Bank, although the amount was Rs 47 lakh.

Mr Ripjit Singh stated that the false report that appeared in a section of the press regarding attachment proceedings initiated by the authorities had maligned his image and that of his brother.

Mr Ripjit Singh had said that they had raised a loan of Rs 50 lakh and immediately Rs 25 lakh was repaid. He said the unpaid amount of Rs 25 lakh grew to Rs 47 lakh as interest was added to the principal amount with passage of time.


Cops’ in school uniform
Jaswinder Paul Singh

Bathinda, April 4
Next time you visit the market, do not be surprised to see a boy in school uniform asking you to park your vehicle in the parking zone. If you disobey his orders, you will be fined.

Regular visitors to various markets here are familiar with the sight of school students helping policemen enforce traffic rules in the city. The introduction of students as "traffic policemen" is aimed at making students learn basic traffic rules and help traffic policemen.

The police authorities said this was that time of the year when school examinations were over and next sessions were yet to begin. This made it an ideal time to pick students of classes IX and X for the training.

The students are on "traffic duty" from 4 pm to 6 pm everyday. The first batch comprised 25 students of Police Public School. Students of all schools of the city would get their turn to be "traffic policemen".

A head constable and a constable is deployed with every two students and the police personnel have to do their routine duty and train students in the process.

The students also keep an eye on the working of traffic policemen and don't let them be lenient with violators of traffic rules.

A woman parked her car in a no-parking zone in Sanatan Dharam Street. When the students asked her to park it at a proper place, she ignored the request and told them, her husband was a close friend of a senior official of the Vigilance Bureau. The students informed the traffic police personnel about this, after which they came back to tell the woman that if the vehicle was not removed, they would complain to the Superintendent of Police (City). The woman was fined, even though she kept yelling that the friend of her husband would frame the police personnel in corruption case.

Some traffic policeman said: “The students spare no one who violates traffic rules and even tell us to book offenders or they will complain to the SP (City). We are happy that they are helping us enforce the rules.”


PSEB employees hold gate rally
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
A section of employees of the PSEB led by its Federation staged a gate rally at the main gate of the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant. They were protesting against the proposed 10 per cent cut in generation allowance and ‘backdoor’ schemes of the management to stop the allowance altogether.

Leaders of the federation, while addressing the workers alleged that the management had ordered the transfer of an employee and has taken from him in writing that he would not avail generation allowance. They said the generation allowance was calculated as a function of their basic pay and was also dependant on the number of electric units generated over and above the given target of power production at the plant. They added that the generation allowance acted as a motivating factor in the absence of overtime allowance and any cut in the same would adversely affect the moral of the employees.

The leaders said by appointing employees who had given in writing that they would not be availing the benefits of generation allowance, two class of employees would be created, those who get the generation allowance and those who don’t. The activists gheraoed various gates of the thermal plant.

The General Manager of the plant could not be contacted. 


Police vehicle challaned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
A police patrol vehicle was challaned for violating traffic rules here this evening.

As per information, a motor cycle belonging to the police party No 5 was parked in the ‘no parking’ zone of the Dhobi Bazaar area when a traffic policeman on duty asked the driver of the vehicle to park it at the proper place, the latter started arguing with him.


Pay scales
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 4
Taking up a petition filed by a Block Primary Education Officer of Majri in Ropar and another petitioner claiming pay scale admissible to their post, along with higher responsibility increment, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion.

Arguing on their behalf, counsel for the petitioners had contended that they were initially working as the Centre Head Teachers before being promoted as Block Primary Education Officers, but their claim for pay scale and higher responsibility increment was deferred on the pretext that it shall be released to them on receiving formal approval. By the time the approval came, they had retired, but even the retiral benefits were released on the basis of Centre Head Teachers.


Youth Congress workers stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 4
Youth Congress workers of the town today protested against the rampant corruption prevailing in the local tehsil office.

Workers staged a dharna on tehsil premises which continued for two hours. Mr Baljit Singh Virk, former president of the District Youth Congress, and Mr Vishal Chauhan, president of the city unit of the Youth Congress, were among those who participated in the dharna. The workers marched in procession to the office of Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, Deputy Commissioner, and presented a memorandum to him. The workers alleged that the middlemen roaming on tehsil premises urged the people to bribe Tehsildar and Naib-Tehsildar for getting their works done.


SGPC poll by early next year

Ludhiana, April 4
Chief Commissioner (Gurdwara Elections) J.S. Sekhon today said the poll to the general house of the SGPC would be held by year-end or early next year.

After presiding over a meeting of Deputy Commissioners here to review preparations for the elections, Justice Sekhon said the date for the enrolment of voters had been extended from May 5 to May 30, as desired by the Deputy Commissioners. UNI


Workers stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 4
Activists of the Lal Jhanda Punjab Bhatha Mazdoor Union, led by Mr Tarsem Jodhan, general secretary of the union, today staged a dharna in front of the office of the Assistant Labour Commissioner here in protest against the non-acceptance of their demands.


Stress on safe grain storage
Tribune News Service

Rakhra (Patiala), April 4
Presiding over the valedictory function of the three-day training programme organised here by the Punjab Young Farmers’ Association (PYFA) in collaboration with the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs for creating awareness among rural communities for saving foodgrains from damage caused by insects, rodents and rats, Mr M.S. Narang, Subdivisional Magistrate, Patiala, said yesterday that small farmers and farm labourers should be provided metal bins on priority to save foodgrains stored at their homes for consumption. He commended PYFA’s initiative in giving drums to all the 51 families living in the village below the poverty line, including the landless, on subsidy with the help of the Union Ministry of Consumer Affairs. He asked the association to expand the scheme to cover the other neighbouring villages also.

Dr S R Singla, Assistant Regional Director of the Ministry, explained the importance of keeping foodgrains free from insects, rodent and moisture in homes. Approximately 10 per cent of the production is damaged during storage. He said his ministry would reach the small and marginal farmers through NGOs like Punjab Young Farmers’ Association which have close contact with the farming community.

PYFA Director-cum-Secretary General said the schemes to be implemented by the association during 2003—04 aimed at helping the small and marginal farmers to improve their living and earnings.


Water shortage in Hoshiarpur
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 4
Residents of the city could not get water supply today due to the shortage of tubewell operators with the Municipal Council. A spokesman of the council said 14 tubewell operators were working with the council on contract basis. The state government refused to extend their services after March 31. He said there were 35 regular tubewell operators as against 50 tubewells in the council. These tubewells were being run in three shifts for catering to the needs of the people. The regular operators had told the authorities that they would run their respective tubewells only from where they were presently posted. This decision of the operators had affected the water supply badly.


Jobless youth duped of Rs 1 lakh
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 4
The Ghuman police has arrested a cheat for extorting Rs 1 lakh from a youth on the pretext of getting him a job in the police department. Dr Naresh Kumar Arora, SSP, identified the cheat as Jodh Singh, a resident of Dakha.

He said Baljinder Singh had filed a complaint with the police alleging that he had been cheated of Rs 96,000 by the accused. The complainant stated that he was not recruited for the job and when he went to the accused for a refund, he was threatened.

Mr Arora said he deputed SHO Harjeet Singh to look into the matter who found the accused guilty and arrested him.

The police found a passport in the possession of the accused. It belonged to Jodh Singh, a resident of Dhanna Jodh in Ludhiana.

On preliminary interrogation, the accused confessed to have travelled to England on the fake passport.

A case under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471 and IPC, has been registered against the accused.


Four booked for selling minor girl
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 4
The Nangal police today booked four persons, including Subash Chand, father of a minor girl, Choutu Ram, the middle man, Munshi Ram, brother of the person who married the girl and Dharam Raj, husband, for allegedly selling the girl.

A case under Sections 4, 5 and 6 of the Child Marriage Act, 1929, has been registered against them.

The drug addict father of a 14-year-old girl, Reema (name changed), a resident of Nangal, allegedly sold her for Rs 25,000. The police on a tip-off yesterday picked up the girl and her husband. The police was to get the girl medically examined yesterday. However, today the police registered a case without getting the girl medically examined.


Three held for woman’s murder
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 4
The Majitha police claims to have solved a murder case with the arrest of three persons. Jasbir Kaur, Daljit Kaur and Naresh Kumar, alias Nesha, were arrested in connection with the murder of Surjit Kaur, Jasbir’s mother-in-law.

The SSP, Majitha, Ms Shashi Prabha Dwivedi, stated in a press note issued here today that Jasbir Kaur tried to hoodwink the police by “informing” that robbers with muffled faces barged into her house and killed her mother-in-law, Surjit Kaur, before decamping with jewellery and cash.

However, Jasbir Kaur divulged the truth to her brother-in-law, Pratap Singh, who informed the police. Strained relations between Jasbir Kaur and her mother-in-law were said to be the cause of the crime. Surjit Kaur allegedly used to prevent Jasbir Kaur from communicating with her elder sister, Daljit Kaur, who reportedly had illicit relations with Naresh Kumar.

The SSP said Jasbir Kaur, along with Daljit Kaur and Naresh Kumar, conspired to murder Surjit Kaur on the intervening night of March 6 and 7. Ms Dwivedi said during investigations it was confirmed that Naresh Kumar had a criminal record and was wanted by the Gurdaspur police.


Family being forced to change FIR’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
Though the Nehian Walla police station has registered a case under Sections 302, 148, 149 and 120-B of the IPC in connection with the “murder” of one Baljit Singh of Mehma Sawai village late yesterday, the Dalit Sena, in a press note issued here today, alleged that the police was forcing Baljit’s relatives to accept that he had died in a road accident.

Mr Kiranjit Singh, state president of the Dalit Sena, said in the press note that Baljit had been killed by Kulwant Singh, nambardar of the village, as per the FIR lodged by Baljit’s wife. He said Baljit had complained to the Deputy Commissioner that one Dilbag Singh of Bir Behman village had procured a fake caste certificate with the help of Gurnam Singh, Sarpanch, Kulwant Singh and Niranjan Singh, a member of the Mehma Sawai Panchayat.

The Dalit leader said the house of Dilbag had been shown to be in Mehma Sawai in records, while he lived in Bir Behman village. The inquiry into the certificate case was at an advanced stage with the District Grievances Officer, he said. “Fearing stern action, Kulwant murdered Baljit Singh. Baljit had even filed a complaint against the Kulwant at Nehian Walla police station and said his life was threatened.

Mr Kiranjit said that the police had forced Baljit’s family to accept Rs 50,000 and add in the FIR that Baljit had died in an accident. He also said that if the FIR was cancelled under pressure, the Sena would launch an agitation.

The police sources said the search for the accused had begun, but no sign of bullet or any other injury had been found on Baljit’s body. 


Robbers injure 3 in looting spree
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, April 4
A number of robberies were committed in a single night by a gang that injured three persons seriously and took away Rs 1 lakh and some gold ornaments in the looting spree.

The gang, first struck at the farmhouse of one Sukhdev Singh ‘Sukha’ near Bir Baba Budha Sahib late yesterday and stole Rs 1 lakh and some jewellery from trucks parked there, while the occupants of the house were asleep.

When they reached the farmhouse of Mr Inderjit Singh, a farmer living nearby, he fired at them. They fled on hearing the gunshots.

This gang, then, went to the dera of Baba Shehanshah Pir in the nearby village of Mianpur, where Baba Lakhbir Singh, his wife Surinder Kaur and brother-in-law Surinder Singh were stabbed by the gang after they resisted the robbers. Hearing the noise, neighbours and other villagers got together and fired in the air to scare the robbers.

The injured were taken early today to Baba Budha Charitable Hospital. A case has been registered at the police station of Chabal against the robbers.

Meanwhile, in a press note issued here today the Senior Superintendent of Police at Tarn Taran, Mr Narinder Bhargav, said the Bhikiwind police had busted a gang of robbers and burglars. One Nirmal Singh of Bhikhiwind and one Sarabjit Singh ‘Shabba’ of village Kale were the ones arrested.

The police said it had recovered six cameras and two flash-guns, worth lakhs of rupees, from them. These items had been stolen from Punjab Photo Studio in Bhikiwind on March 26. The accused were produced before a magistrate.


Illicit liquor seized, 9 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 4
The district police has intensified crackdown against the illicit distillation of liquor in the Mand area of Lohian with the arrest of nine persons and seizure of a large quantity of illicit liquor from their possession.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said the persons were Des Raj, Darshan Singh, Boota Singh, Balkar Singh, Kikkar Singh, Nirmal Singh, Satnam Singh, Munsha Singh and Gurdeep Singh.


Lovers commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Moga, April 4
Two lovers from Paraomehna village in this district, reportedly, committed suicide yesterday by jumping before a passenger train at the village railway station.

The youth was Jagdev Singh (21) and the girl Prabhjot Kaur, a class X student.


Provide ‘infrastructure’ to medicos or face action
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 4
The Punjab Government will take strict action against medical institutions of the state that were not providing adequate infrastructure to the students. The government has received complaints against many dental, ayurvedic and nursing colleges alleging that these institutions were not providing adequate infrastructure to the students despite charging hefty capitation fees from them.

To stop the exploitation of the medical students at the hands of the authorities of such institutions the government has decided to adopt a firm policy. Under the new policy strict action will be recommended against medical institutions that do not adhere to the infrastructure and other norms fixed by the Medical Council of India.

Mr Santokh Chaudhary, Minister for Medical Education and Research, said this while talking to newsmen at Chamkaur Sahib today. He was here to attend the launching of an awareness campaign on ‘swasth nari sukhi parivar’. The campaign was being launched in the Chamkaur Sahib area by the SS Memorial Education Society.

When asked about the status of Baba Farid Medical University that has not been granted full approval by the Medical Council of India, Mr Chaudhary alleged that the previous government had ignored the issue of creating proper infrastructure for the said university. The university was till date functioning in small accommodation rented out for the purpose by the PTDC. However, the Congress Government was now planning to develop proper infrastructure for the university.

He also said a number of medical institutions in the state were facing the acute shortage of the staff, infrastructure and medicines due to the apathy of the previous government. A time bound programme for filling the posts and creating necessary infrastructure in the colleges of the state was being worked out. About the departmental action against the officials of Amritsar Medical College who were allegedly involved in the kidney scam, the minister said departmental action would be taken after the completion of the vigilance inquiry The Civil Surgeon, Ropar, Ms Harinder Rana and the SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, were also present.


Headmistress ‘violating’ SC orders
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 4
Mr Vasudev Aggrawal, who has recently retired as a Hindi teacher from Government High School, Teona, has alleged that Mrs Karamjit Kaur, the Headmistress of the school was not following the instructions of the Supreme Court regarding the recovery of monetary benefits withdrawn by employees on the basis of their period of ad hoc service.

Mr Aggrawal said the Supreme Court had passed an order on February 20, 2001, in the state of Punjab and others versus Harjinder Kaur and others case that although the period of ad hoc service should not be counted while determining seniority or the purpose of higher scale of pay after eight or 18 years of service under the proficiency step up scheme, if any of the respondents had drawn any amount on the basis of period of ad hoc service, such amount should not be recovered.

He said following the order the Director of Education Department, Chandigarh, wrote a letter to the District Education Officer (Secondary), Bathinda, and asked for the implementation of the order. He said subsequently a copy of the order was sent to the heads of all schools in the district.

Mr Aggrawal alleged that the Headmistress of the school did not follow the instructions of the Supreme Court while calculating his gratuity at the time of his retirement. He said the Headmistress ordered the recovery of amount drawn by him on the basis of period of his ad hoc service. He alleged that although he showed the copies of the judgement and orders of the Education Department to her but she ignored them.

Ms Karamjit Kaur said the allegations of Mr Vasudev were baseless. She said she had asked to pay the gratuity to him as per the instructions of the Accountant General (AG), Punjab, Chandigarh. She was not authorised to increase or decrease the amount of gratuity given to any employee, she added.

She said she had asked Mr Aggrawal to contact the AG office in Chandigarh if there was any difference in calculation of his gratuity.

Ms Karamjit Kaur said Mr Aggrawal had a habit of making issue out of nothing. She said the authorities concerned had asked to pay Rs 2,25,632 to Mr Aggrawal, while he claimed that Rs 2,26,832 should have been paid to him. He was raising a hue and cry for a meagre amount of Rs 1,200, she added.

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