Sunday, April 6, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No talks on Akali unity: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
Possibility of unity between the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD (B)) and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) senior SAD (B) leader and Union Chemicals and Fertilisers Minister, Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa today ruled out.

Mr Dhindsa talking to reporters said here that so far no formal talks for unity were held between leaders of the two parties. He, however, said that animosity between leaders of the two parties had lessened in the past some months.

On the role of Jathedar Akal Takht in bringing the Badal and the Tohra factions close, Mr Dhindsa said that Takht could not interfere in such matters. When asked if Akal Takht “asked” them to unite for the sake of Sikh Panth, Mr Dhindsa, said that any such move by Takht would not be restricted to two factions only, rather Takht would ask all factions of the Akali Dal to form one party.

Mr Dhindsa was in the city to inaugurate an insecticide plant of Hindustan Insecticides Limited, said that he was in favour of disinvestments in public sector undertakings. He said that only one plant of National Fertilizer Limited was earning profit. He said that claims of employees of the local unit of NFL that it was earning profit were not true.

He said the VAT value added tax system was in practice in more than 100 countries and it should be implemented in India also. When told that taxation system of those countries was different from that of India, he said that such things should be taken into account before implementing the VAT here.

He claimed that due to his efforts with the Union Government cooperative institutes like IFFCO and KRIBHCO could bid for the purchase of NFL when disinvestments would be done in the fertilizer company.

On giving direct subsidy on fertilizer to farmers in place of giving it to fertilizer manufacturers, the Union Minister said that in such a set-up the subsidy would not reach the poor and marginal farmers. He said that it was seen that middleman took a large part of that subsidy. He said it was decided that the subsidy should be given to fertilizers plants so that the prices of the products were reduced.

Later Mr Dhindsa inaugurated a plant of Hindustan Insecticides in the Industrial Growth Centre on the outskirts of the city. The plant would produce various types of insecticide, weedicide and fungicide. The plants granules formulation capacity would be 1000 metric tonne. For solid and liquid formulation it would be 500 metric tonnes each. The HIL officials claimed that the farmers of Punjab and adjoining states would get pesticides at their doorsteps.

The plant had been established at a cost of Rs 10 crore.


Chemists’ memo to Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
The Punjab Chemists Association here today submitted a memorandum to Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers urging him to exempt medicines from Value Added Tax (VAT).

Mr R.D. Gupta, president of the association, said that as medicines had maximum retail prices and the local taxes (extra) as stipulated in the Drug Price Control Order (DPCO) it would be difficult to quantify VAT at earlier stages and might result in different prices and losses to the dealers.


Tohra for principled unity, not petty gains
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 5
Decision of Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra of not holding a political conference on the eve of Baisakhi at Takht Damdama Sahib at Talwandi Saboo, here today is being viewed as a move to Akali unity.

Talking to The Tribune after the bhog ceremony of Akhand Path for his recovery, he said that unity was in the interests of the Panth. He added that any such move would be on principles and not for petty political gains.

Allaying fears of party leaders and workers on their future in the new set-up, Mr Tohra called upon them to have faith in his abilities to do whatever was good for the Panth and the party. He said he was for unity but pointed out that no formal talks had taken place with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief.

Mr Tohra said he could not forget the sacrifices made by his cadres and leaders who gave up party posts and even cabinet berths for him. “I will take everyone into confidence before a final decision but also added that no one will gain from the squabbles. The Panth is bigger than individuals and one must strive to keep the larger good of the people in sight,” he added.

He appealed for strengthening the party and recall the sacrifices of people for the causes espoused by the Akalis in the past. He also clarified that Mr Badal had attended the bhog of an Akhand Path at his residence and no politics was discussed. He, evaded a reply to queries on unity moves, but reiterated that he was for unity on principles and not for political gains.

On his recovery, he said he was well but had been advised three-month of rest by doctors after which he would be active again. Earlier, he was welcomed at the Singh Sabha Gurdwara in the Subzi Mandi here and present a purse of Rs 1 lakh.

Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal, Surjan Singh Thekedar, Mr P.S. Chandumajra and Sucha Singh Chhotepur were also present.


Kidney transplants in govt hospitals only
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
Minister for Medical Education and Research Punjab, Chaudhary Santokh Singh today announced that renal transplant operations would only be done in the government medical college hospitals. He said that the government was aware of the illegal kidney trade in the state last year and where brought into focus role of transplant surgeons, the Authorisation Committee and the middlemen, while poor donor was the victim.

He was addressing a press conference here today said the authorisation given to the local Ram Saran Dass Kishori Lal Kakkar Charitable Hospital for conducting kidney transplants had been withdrawn. He said that the high-power committee constituted by the Chief Minister would prepare guidelines in view for organ transplants. The Minister said that he was shocked over the working of the medical college here and said that to improve its functioning Rs 50 lakh would be released for basic facilities and medicines. He also announced that the Punjab government planned to allocate Rs 32 crore for upgrading infrastructure of the Medical Colleges at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot.

The Minister announced that the new heartcare centre with modern ICCU and ICU, set up in the local Guru Nanak Hospital would be opened soon for people of in the area.

He said that the Punjab government has decided to set up the Faridkot Medical University by acquiring 125 acres for Rs 4 crore. He said that the government was committed to build a modern medical university and would provide adequate funds for it.

The Minister said that the government would soon fill vacant posts of medical teachers in all colleges.

The Minister said that the Punjab Health System Corporation with the assistance of the World Bank would soon launch a project to upgrade 155 government hospitals in the state. Earlier, the Minister inaugurated the sixth north zone annual conference of the Indian Association of Preventive and Social Medicines at Guru Nanak Hospital.


Crop scheme will work for Punjab
Johl writes to Centre
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Centre should not link the “Agricultural production pattern adjustment programme in Punjab for productivity and growth” with other states.

Dr S S Johl, the author of the scheme, has taken this line in a letter to the Union Secretary, Food and Supplies.

He explains that the scheme is solely in the interest of Punjab and the Centre. The problem relates only to Punjab foodgrain surplus, as 90 per cent inter-state movement is of Punjab grains. Every additional grain produced in Punjab becomes market surplus, as it has to be procured for the Central pool.

If the production increases by 1 million tonnes or decreases by 5 million tonnes in food deficit states, it would still mean an addition of 1 million tonnes on balance to the foodgrain stocks, without affecting offtake stock by deficit states.

Contrary to this, if production increases by 5 million tonnes in deficit states and reduces by 1 million tonnes in Punjab, it reduces the additional stock by 1 million tonnes and does not much decrease the offtake from the Central pool. Thus, the problem of surplus stock beyond absorptive capacity of the country, in terms of supply and demand, lies in Punjab.

Dr Johl sees no logic in the foodgrain deficit states demanding this scheme because there is no reason why the production of foodgrain should be reduced in those states and thereby making them dependent on the foodgrain produced elsewhere.

Moreover, the scheme will yield much better results in Punjab. The reduction in foodgrain production per hectare will be much higher in Punjab as compared to other states. The scheme is primarily for central districts where yield per hectare is much higher than the average yield of Punjab.

The Central government spends Rs 5,000 crore per year on procuring and storing foodgrain from 1 million hectares. If the Centre gives Rs 1,280 crore to Punjab for farmers so that they don’t sow wheat and paddy it would save Rs 5,000 crore per hectare.

Other states seeking this must give an undertaking to reduce foodgrain production per unit expenditure at the same level as Punjab farmers would do. Also such states should not demand additional foodgrain from the Centre. If they do so, it will be a total negation of the scheme with further net loss to the Centre.

The country must realise, says Dr Johl, that 42 million hectares of cultivated land in Punjab is a “national asset”, which must be conserved to keep the country afloat on foodgrain. Its resources must also be conserved for the future.

On political and social fronts, it has to be understood that Punjab farmer is already under severe economic squeeze. If the situation is allowed to worsen, through indifference, it can lead to serious social and political unrest.

“It is not a dole out but a cost-effective expenditure aimed at reducing the losses of the Centre on procurement of foodgrains”, he says.

Dr Johl wants that the issue should be taken up at the level of the Prime Minister.


Dr Johl on experts’ panel for Iran
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The Punjab State Planning Board Chairman, Dr S S Johl, has a new assignment in hand. He heads a 12-member panel of multi-disciplinary experts to draw up a strategy in the agriculture sector for sustainable growth of Iran. The experts from various countries will be assisted by a team of 26 Iranians. He leaves for his assignment on April 15.

Dr Johl joins the team under the Technical Co-operation Programme of the FAO. The assignment involves preparing long term and short term plans to rejuvenate cropping patterns, animal husbandry, horticulture, rural development, poverty alleviation and map out land use patterns.

Talking to TNS yesterday, Dr Johl recalled his earlier assignment in Iran between 1974 and 79.

“I was the last passenger on the last flight from Iran, when the regime changed’’. When he left Iran there were 132 “farm corporation’’ each with a command area of 4,000 hectares.

Since most of the villages had mud-houses, these were all razed and new townships were set up. Each land owner had a share in the corporation equivalent to his land holdings. The farms were highly mechanised. The farmers had right to work and elect their own three-member board of directors, who were aided by agricultural experts.


PSEB shifts Chief Engineer again
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
The Punjab State Electricity Board’s (PSEB) has transferred Board Chief Engineer, Enforcement Padamjit Singh a unionist who has had questioned the allotment of a contract to a private party for the supply of power to the state recently.

The PSEB has transferred Mr Padamjit Singh as Chief Engineer, Systems Operation, a post from which he was removed in December allegedly because he cancelled a draft power agreement between a private party — KERPL and the PSEB for supply of power to the PSEB from the Eastern grid. Mr Padam Singh joined his new posting yesterday.

Top sources in the board claimed that the retransfer of Mr Padamjit to the Systems Operations wing had taken place because he was proving to be uncomfortable in his new posting.

The sources said the manner in which Mr Padamjit had tried to streamline the Enforcement Department had not been appreciated at the higher levels. This included identification of corrupt engineers in the Enforcement Wing and a communication to the board management to transfer them out of the Wing. This had led to bitterness amongst the engineers.

No Senior PSEB official could be contacted to find out the reasons why the transfer had taken place. Mr Padamjit Singh when contacted said the transfer had been a routine one and there was no controversy attached to it. He said he did not get any official communication about any negligence committed by him as Chief Engineer, Systems Operations and he was not aware of any allegations levelled against him by the Board Management.


8 charges against Puar dropped
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau’s attempt to nail a former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Joginder Singh Puar on the issue of illegal appointments has suffered a setback, with a local court not including eight of the nine allegedly illegal appointments made by him in the final charges framed against him and others for irregularities in the hosting of the Indian Science Congress in 1996.

The Vigilance Bureau had in its earlier charges against the former Vice-Chancellor claimed that Dr Puar had committed serious violations while making appointments to nine posts of teacher besides giving three “illegal” increments against UGC rules to another teacher.

It had claimed that Dr Dalwinder Singh Sandhu of the Zoology Department and Dr A.K. Sekri of the Physics Department had been made Professors illegally. It had also claimed that Mr Maan Singh Dhindsa and Mr Ran Singh Dhaliwal had been appointed Readers in the Correspondence Courses and Business Management Departments, respectively, against norms. It had claimed that Mr Ajaivir Singh Sarao, Mr Gurdeep Singh, Mr Jasmeet Singh and Mr Navjot Kaur had been appointed Lecturers illegally while Dr Kuljit Kapoor had been given three increments against UGC rules.

According to the judgement of Additional Sessions Judge G.K. Dhir, a copy of which was received today by TNS, the court had held that inference of abuse of powers by Dr Puar could not be drawn in the case of these appointments as the decision to select the candidates was not that of Dr Puar exclusively, but was also got approved by the Syndicate.

Taking all cases separately, the judgement said in the case of Dr Dalwinder Singh Sandhu and Dr A.K. Sekri, the appointments were got approved from the Syndicate and prima facie Dr Puar could not be accused of having abused his powers by making the appointments. It said no prima facie material existed to prove that Dr Puar had misused his position in the matter of appointment of Gurdeep Singh as Lecturer or in the grant of three increments to Dr Kuljeet Kapoor. The Judge said the charge in this respect had been framed by his predecessor and that part of the charge could be said to be framed “without any prime facie material available on record”.

The judgement also upheld the appointments of Mr Maan Singh Dhindsa and Mr Ran Singh Dhaliwal as Readers, and Mr Gurdeep Singh, Mr Jasmeet Singh and Ms Navjot Kaur as Lecturers. About another appointment, it said the mere fact that one of the those recruited as Lecturer, Mr Ajaivir Singh Sarao, was the son of the then Registrar Dr Ranbir Singh Sarao, could not be held against the candidate.

It said the then Registrar had not been associated with the selection process and that the move was late approved by the Syndicate.

The court only held the appointment of Mr Nagar Singh as a Technical Assistant in the Department of Lexicography as irregular as a case had been registered against the candidate, besides the record not being submitted regarding his appointment.


SGPC poll likely early next year
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
The General Election to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) due in October 2001 is now likely to be held in early 2004, if the pace of poll process set in motion by the Gurdwara Election Commission is any indication. The commission had reviewed the progress with all deputy commissioners at Ludhiana on Friday.

There are two basic reasons why the elections to 170-member SGPC general house have been delayed. One, that the “Sehajdhari’’ Sikhs should not be given the right to vote; two, the age of eligible voters should be reduced to 18 years from 21 years. Yet another reason for the delay is “low turnout of voters’’ besides the indecisiveness of the powers that be.

The controversy over the inclusion or exclusion of “Sehajdhari’’ voters has come centre-stage because of an ambiguity in the very definition of the word “Sikh’’. As per Clause 10-A of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, a “Sehajdhari’’ means, 1. a person who performs ceremonies according to Sikh rites; 2. who does not use tobacco or ‘kutha’ (halal meat) in any form; 3. who is not a ‘patit’; and 4. who can recite ‘Mul Mantar’.

There are 120 constituencies of the SGPC, with 110 spread over Punjab, eight in Haryana, and one each in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh. There are 50 double-member constituencies out of which 20 are reserved for Scheduled Castes and 30 for women. Of the 30 reserved for women, five are for Scheduled Caste women. Thus, the total number of elected members is 170. Add to this the 15 coopted members and six head priests, making a total of 191.

Ironically, the SGPC, despite several resolutions has failed to move the Centre to amend the Act and deny the right to vote to “Sehajdhari’’ Sikhs or lower voting age to 18 years from 21 years. This issue of “Sehajdhari’’ Sikhs has been in the centre of controversy since 1995. And, in the absence of consensus among the Sikhs, as to who is or who is not eligible to vote, the Union Home Ministry even held deliberations with the state government, SGPC and Akali Dal factions. Thereafter, it sent the signal that SGPC elections be held as per the existing provisions of the Act, since the term of the present House had ended in October 2001.

The SGPC elections held in 1996, the number of “Sehajdhari’’ voters was 6,33,495 out of the total 36,23,974. Leaders of various Akali factions apprehend that “non-Sikhs’’ posing as “Sehajdharis’’, will get themselves registered as voters and thereby, usurp the SGPC and also pose a threat to their own leadership.

The Gurdwara Election Commission had initiated the process of holding the SGPC elections much before the expiry of the term in October 2001. In the wake of a poor response of Sikh voters to get themselves enrolled, the commission had to repeatedly extend the date for enrolment. Reports say that the number of Sikh votes has gone down in Chandigarh, which has one constituency, while, there is some increase in the voters in Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, whereas, in Punjab there is only a marginal increase.

At the Friday meeting, it was reported that in some districts the “Sehajdhari’’ voters outnumbered the “Keshadhari’’ voters. These include Nawanshahr, Muktsar, Ferozepore Fazilka-Abohar area and Sangrur (Moonak, Sunam area).

Therefore, whatever reasons or political motives the Akali leaders may attribute to one another, the fact is all Sikh organisations and institutions are to be equally blamed for their lackadaisical attitude towards the SGPC elections.

Now draft rolls are under print and will be displayed at specific places and objections/claims invited and heard. This process will last till October-end. Thus the elections would be possible in January-February 2004.


DCC infighting intensifies
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, April 5
Infighting in the District Congress Committee intensified here yesterday when seven of the party’s 14 municipal councillors did not attend the installation ceremony of the newly elected president at the Nagar Council office.

The absentees include Mr Baljit Singh Gora, Mr Mohinder Singh, Mr Joban Singh, Mr Ranjit Singh Khera, Mr Mohinder Singh Bhandari, Ms Sonia Bansal and Ms Uma Grover. They criticised the authorities of the Nagar Council for adopting a discriminatory attitude towards them, even though a large number of local citizens were informed on time about the ceremony.

Ms Amritbir Kaur, another Congress councillor and vice-president of the council, alleged that she had not been given an invitation to attend the ceremony. She was informed about the ceremony during the annual budget meeting of the council, held a few hours earlier. She attended it only to hand over the charge to the new president, Mr Gurcharan Singh. Denying the charges of the party councillors, Mr Gurtej Singh Gill, a former president of the council, said he had written letters to Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, PPCC and former MLA, and Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar, president, DCC, Faridkot, about the entire programme on time.

The election for the president was held on March 24. Mr Gill, alongwith other four party councillors, revolted against the official nominee of the party and got elected his own supporter, Mr Gurcharan Singh, with the help of Independent and SAD councillors, besides Mr Kushaldeep Singh, SAD MLA from Faridkot.

Affirming his loyalty to the Congress, Mr Gill had clarified that he had followed a democratic procedure and apprised the high command of the matter. However Mr Balmukand Sharma, vice-president, PPCC, who was deputed by the PCCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, as an election observer, also sent a recommendation to the party high command for taking stern action against Mr Gill for his anti-party activities.

Mr Avtar Singh Brar said today that disciplinary action against Mr Gill and other rebel councillors was on the cards and the party high command would take decision in this regard within a few days.

Meanwhile, during the budget meeting of the council, which was chaired by the vice-president, the annual budget of Rs 4.70 crore was cleared unanimously. Of this, Rs 1.86 crore have been earmarked for development works in the town. A proposal was also cleared for repairing the Mall and circular roads on a priority basis. A three-member committee comprising Mr Baljit Singh Gora, Mr Gurcharan Singh, president, and Mr Harbhajan Singh, Executive Officer was constituted to review the house tax policy and its collection.


Cong rebel is Hoshiarpur MC chief
Expelled for ‘anti-party’ activities
Our Correspondent & UNI

Hoshiarpur, April 5
Mr Ajay Mohan Babbi, a rebel Congress municipal councillor, was declared president of the Municipal Council by lot today. Mr Babbi and the official Congress candidate, Mr Brij Mohan Batra, secured 15 votes each.

Congress councillors led by Mr Brij Mohan Batra and Mr Sarwan Singh did not participate in the election of the vice-president. Meanwhile, the remaining Congress, BJP and SAD councillors elected Mr Moti Lal Sud as vice-president of the council.

In a related development, Mr Ram Pal Dhaipai and Mr Ishwer Singh, both general secretaries of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said today that Mr Ajay Mohan Babbi, alongwith Kamaljit Kaur, Krishna Saini, Arvind Sharma, Brahm Shanker, Baljit Singh and Sukhwinder Kaur, all Congress municipal councillors, had been expelled from the Congress for six years for their alleged anti-party activities.

They said the councillors opposed the official candidate of the Congress in the election.

They said a detailed report would be made against Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, and Mr Naresh Thakur, who had allegedly instigated the councillors to disobey the orders of the party high command.

Meanwhile, Congress dissident Rakesh Kumar Behal was today elected president of the Hariana Nagar Council, defeating official Congress candidate Munish Kumar.

Mr Behal won with the support of three Congress councillors who opposed the candidature of Mr Munish Kumar, son-in-law of district Congress president K. Nanda. The lone Independent, Mr Arun Kumar, was declared elected to the vice-president’s post.

Later, Dr Nanda expelled Mr Behal and three councillors from the primary membership of the Congress on disciplinary grounds.


Passi expelled from YC
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 5
Mr Devinder Singh Babbu, President, Punjab Youth Congress, said today that he had removed Mr Gulshan Rai Passi from the post of General Secretary of the party and had expelled him from the party for six years for his anti-party activities.

Mr Babbu said Mr Passi had opposed the official candidate of Congress for the post of President of Municipal Council Hariana Town in Hoshiarpur district. Mr Babbu said disciplinary action would also be taken against those office-bearers of the party who had opposed Congress candidates in the recent MC elections in the state.


Butchers may get land
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
Ensuring a ban on butchering in the city continues to be a pipe dream for the Municipal Corporation which has run out of ultimatums as far as shifting shops of butchers out of the city is concerned. After trying its hand at wielding the stick now it plans to give land at nominal rates outside the city to butchers.

Butchers continue to have a field day despite repeated ultimatums given to them by the Corporation to shift their operations out of the city and only sell trussed-up meat, chicken and fish in the city by storing it in deep freezers. A large-scale butchering of chickens, sometimes in hundreds in each shop, in many areas here has virtually made some roads unpassable. Besides, the manner in which the waste is thrown in nearby dumps and drains causes further pollution in the city.

The Corporation has been trying since the past six months to streamline the butchering in the city. Earlier, all meat-shop owners agreed to shift their operations outside the city, but asked for time to make this possible. When they were again approached by the Corporation authorities, small butchers openly expressed their unwillingness to shift their shops.

In fact, small butchers told the Corporation that they would also not be able to install any deep freezers or refrigerators on their premises. Political pressure forced the Corporation to backtrack on its threats to close these shops.

Mayor Vishnu Sharma said a slaughter house was running in Sanouri Adda which used to butcher goats. He said the Corporation was in the process of earmarking land for butchers dealing in chicken and fish on the Sanour road. He said space could be made for butchering goats in the same area as the Corporation wanted to shift the present slaughter house from Sanouri Adda. Populated areas were very close to the slaughter house.

Butchers are sceptical about the entire move. Talking to TNS, a butcher who has a shop at the Anardana chowk, said it was not practical to store meat in deep freezers or refrigerators. He said people were wary of buying meat which had been deep freezed adding that he brought only that much of meat which could be sold everyday. Besides, there was no guarantee for proper electricity supply, specially during the summer months, he added.

A divide also exists between those selling goat meat and those dealing in chickens with the former blaming the latter for defaming the entire profession. Goat meat sellers say there is no wastage on their part with each part being sold separately. They said, however, in case of chickens there was a lot of wastage in the form of feathers and limbs. They said the wastage is not properly disposed of by the butchers dealing in chickens resulting in pollution.

Besides, fish sellers have made their own market in the factory area which has also been objected to by the Corporation. The fish sellers have bought a piece of land close to a chowk in the factory area and they sell fish in the open. This also causes pollution.


Disabled soldier fights on
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
In 1948, he fought against the enemies in Jammu and Kashmir for his country’s honour. Sustained bullet injuries in combat. Today, 55 years later, Sepoy Dalip Singh is still struggling hard against the government for his rights.

He was granted disability pension after the publication of a news story about his plight. In these columns, that is. But, he is still dissatisfied. The reason behind his annoyance is not hard to see. The authorities have promised just Rs 310 per month. That also from September 2001.

He had initially received a letter in November 1999 from the Army authorities. Substantial compensation had been paid to the families of Operation Vijay martyrs. A subsequent decision to pay ex gratia to the old soldiers had been taken, it was stated. But disability pension was not handed over to him.

Dejected, but not defeated, he had moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking directions to the Union of India, Chief of the Army Staff, Defence Pension Disbursing Officer and other respondents for paying disability pension from August 1952.

Taking up his petition, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had admitted the same. Pronouncing the orders in the open court, the Bench had ruled that the petition would be heard within six months “after the completion of service”.

Amritsar district resident Dalip Singh, in his petition, had claimed that he was admitted to military hospital for treatment after being wounded on July 11, 1948, while taking part in the Jammu and Kashmir operation.

He had further claimed that a medical board, after examining him, had found him to be “permanently unfit for military service due to a bullet injury”. He was boarded out of service on medical grounds in July 1949 after his disability was assessed at 30 per cent “permanent for life”.

Initially disability pension for two years was released after the medical board recommendations were sent to CMA (Pension). “The disability was extended from time to time and the petitioner was granted pension, consisting both of service and disability element, from July 1949 to August 1952”, Chairman of All India Ex-servicemen Welfare Association Bhim Sen Sehgal had contended on his behalf.

On November 5, 1999, he was sent a letter saying “old soldiers were not paid enough amount in the past, so the government and the Army has decided to pay concession out of the Army Central Welfare Fund”. An Ex gratia of Rs 1 lakh was also handed over in 2000, Mr Sehgal had added.

He had concluded that the action firstly in reducing the percentage of disability to less than 20 per cent and then completely stopping the pension from August 1, 1952, was “wholly illegal, null and void”. The petition is still pending.


Alleged rapist moves rights panel
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 5
The alleged rape case, took a turn with the main accused Gurdip Singh knocking the door of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission demanding a probe into the case, claiming the victim to be his wife, he has also sought protection for his family members from his in-laws and release of his wife from their captivity. The PSHRC Chairman, Justice N.C. Jain has directed the IG (Litigation) to get the case probed by a gazetted officer, it was learnt here today. The next date for the hearing of the case has been fixed as May 29. The Commission has also directed that the report of the inquiry be submitted to it within four weeks. It may be mentioned here that a case of rape, wrongful confinement kidnapping, miscarriage without consent of woman, was registered against seven persons, including Gurdip Singh, his parents, their friend-couple and two doctors on a complaint of the victim.

However, Gurdip Singh told the Commission that he had married her and that she had lodged complaint under duress. He had claimed in his petition that a sister of the victim knew about it and that a relative of his in-laws who was in the police was misusing his position in the case. He alleged that property was the motive behind the trouble. He claimed that he and the woman had married on November 26 at a temple at Teeker village in Himachal Pradesh. The two stayed for one month in that village.

The petition gives a datewise account of their stay as well as eventual return to Phagwara. It also mentions the threats given by the woman’s relatives to him and his family.


‘Awareness needed on environment laws’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
While holding over-exploitation of the natural resources, in the name of economic development, as a major factor responsible for the ecological imbalance on the earth, the Judge of the Supreme Court, Mr Justice Ashok Bhan, today advocated that “sustainable” development was the only way out before the civilisation for preserving the environment for the generations to come.

“Mr Justice Bhan was speaking at a seminar on “Environmental and Taxation Laws” organised by the Department of Law, Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU), HMV College, here today.

Expressing concern over the trend of unchecked industrialisation, he said, “Industry should not be allowed to make profits at the cost of public health. We are duty bound to preserve the environment for the coming generations and students of law should, infact, specialise in environment related laws to save the earth.”

Mr Justice Bhan was of the view that there was an urgent need to create an awareness among the people about the provisions of the law pertaining to the protection of the environment, which was being exploited just for the sake of economic development. “You see, natural resources are the permanent assets of the mankind. The universities and educational institutions running law courses should revive the curriculum by including subjects like social science, natural science, bio-technology, information technology and environment to help them understand the gravity of the situation while handling such cases as a judicial officer, or as a lawyer,” he added.

Quoting various landmarks judgements of the apex court to protect the environment, Mr Justice Bhan said the society should come forward as a whole to save the future of the coming generations.

Mr Justice N.K. Sud of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, in his extension lecture on taxation laws, said it was primarily tax evasion which was resulted in corruption at various levels. “To eliminate corruption and parallel economy of black money from the system, we should deposit taxes with the authorities concerned,” he said, adding that lawyers should have enough knowledge of the tax laws, which were being amended from time to time.

Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, GND varsity, and Dr Daljeet Singh, Director, regional campus of the university, also spoke on the occasion.


Hope for Parsees comes from UNESCO
Shivani Bhakoo

Ludhiana, April 5
Parsees in India, who are virtually on the verge of extinction, have received a shot in the arm with UNESCO deciding to work for the preservation of the community that had migrated to different parts of the world from Iran to evade forcible conversion to Islam. Code-named PARZOR (Preservation of Parsee-Zoroastrian heritage campaigns and international conventions), the project aims at working towards the preservation and documentation of the Parsee traditions and culture.

The Parsee culture, an amalgam of Iranian, Indian, Chinese and European civilisation, today faces the danger of extinction due to the spread of the Parsees around the globe in small numbers that results in Parsee-Zoroastrian heritage disappearing forever, everyday. Parsees (Zoroastrians) are the followers of Bronze Age prophet Zarathustra of Iran. As Iran went Islamic, some of the Parsees escaped to other shores. The Parsees are the descendants of refugees from the Pars (an area in Iran), who sailed to western coast of India in the early 10th century.

Dr (Mrs) Lily Walia nee Sanjana, Parsee by birth, has been married in Punjab for the past 25 years. Serving in Dayanand Medical College and Hospital as Reader in the Department of Physiology, Dr Lily said: “As far as my knowledge is concerned, only a handful of Parsees reside in Punjab and I have not been able to meet even a single Parsee here in the city”.

Dr Lily said the demographic decline of the Parsees has been steep, consisting less than 0.01 per cent population in India. They shrink by 10 per cent every year. In 1941, there were 1,14,000 Parsees in India, the number dropped to 76,000 in 1991. “The Parsees have followed oral tradition for keeping alive their customs, ceremonies, prayers, legends and myths for nearly 3500 years. The decline in numbers indicates that world’s oldest religion is facing extinction”.

Realising the danger, UNESCO has initiated PARZOR. The project will study and document the culture, tradition and heritage of this community. This will involve the collection and preservation of archival material, tracing the Parsee contribution to the Indian public life, industry, agriculture, trade, science, music, theatre, arts, crafts and charities.

“The place of our worship is the fire-temple (agyari). We worship fire. The flame was brought from Iran, which is till date kept alive in the fire temple. Non-Parsees are not allowed to visit these temples. Even I am not allowed to visit the fire-temple as I got married to a non-Parsee. My husband is a Punjabi doctor”, said Dr Lily.

Though Parsees are susceptible to some of the world’s most unusual allergies and deficiencies and have a high rate of cancer, neurological and eye diseases, they live up to the nineties. They have a low fertility rate. In order to preserve this community, worldwide Parsees have joined hands to make best possible efforts to save it from extinction.

Dr Lily disclosed that Parsees keep their surnames after business like Topiwala, Batliwala, Daruwala etc. They are staunch non-vegetarians. ‘The orthodox Parsees still dispose of the dead-bodies at the Tower of Silence but the new generation wants to cremate the dead-ones”, she said.

Parsees have done extremely well for themselves in India by emerging as front-runners in the Indian industry. Some well known Parsees include Tatas, Wadias, Godrejs. “Nani Palkhiwala, an eminent jurist and many more have brought fame and wealth to the country”, said Dr Lily. Wanting to do something for the community, Dr. Lily Walia has offered to help in the formation of a forum for Parsees, if some people of the community come forward with similar objective.


Justice Bhan defends judicial activism
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
Defending judicial activism in public interest litigation (PIL) for giving justice to the people at large the Supreme Court Judge, Mr Justice Ashok Bhan, said today that the PIL cases were being taken up on priority basis by the courts as these involved interests of a section of the society.

Speaking at a seminar organised by the National Thinkers’ Forum here, Mr Justice Bhan said judicial activism came to the fore when the system became sluggish and the “legislature was moving slow on the matters affecting the public at large”.

Mr Justice Bhan, along with the president of the forum, Mr D.P. Sehgal, pointed out that judgements passed on PILs began to be referred as “judicial activism” even as most of such cases were filed following failure of the authorities concerned to provide justice at appropriate foras.

Commenting upon checks and balances on the judicial system, he said though “inhouse” mechanism had been evolved to redress the issue, but independence of judiciary was most important in a democratic system.

“In fact, in India, there are 11.5 judges per million population whereas according to the Supreme Court guidelines, it should be 50 per million population. Time and again, we have referred our demand for recruiting more judges, but nothing has happened so far in this direction”, he said while suggesting that the unnecessary adjournments should be avoided in certain cases which would result in delay in granting justice.

He advocated setting up of law academies in all states for training fresh law graduates as well as for updating information of the judicial officers. He further said 95 per cent of the cases, which were pending in the courts actually fall under the purview of the civil officials like Deputy Commissioners, SDMs and consumer courts.


PTDC staff ‘forced’ to opt for VRS
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 5
The employees’ union of the PTDC today flayed the statement of the MD, Mr Jagjit Puri, that 360 out of 373 regular employees of the corporation had voluntarily opted for the VRS offered by the government. Reacting to the statement that was reported today, the president of the PTDC Karamchari Dal, Mr Surjit Singh Saini, told this correspondent that the employees had been forced to opt for the VRS. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been stating in his press statements that none of the employees from the corporations or boards being disinvested would be retrenched and employees of the said corporations would instead be adjusted in other government departments.

However, in contrast to these statements the MD of the PTDC had stated in written clarifications sent to all employees that the government had taken no decision to adjust any employee of the corporation in other government departments. The clarifications had a tacit warning that the employees were likely to face ouster if they did not opt for the VRS. These moves of the management created panic among the employees and as a consequence they were forced to opt for the VRS.

Still some of the employees have filled the VRS form conditionally. They have stated in their VRS requests that their case should be considered only if the government did not have any policy to re-adjust employees of the corporation in other departments.

Mr Saini also said the PTDC management had discontinued the services of 62 daily wagers and five ad hoc employees of the corporation without giving any retrenchment benefit to them despite the fact that they had been serving the organisation since long. The PTDC Karamchari Dal has now taken up the case of these retrenched workers before the Labour Commissioner, he alleged.


132 trees face axe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 5
The Rose Garden, including the leisure valley, situated on the Bathinda-Barnala bypass road in this city will lose a section of its green cover as the local municipal council authorities have decided to cut as many as 132 full grown trees to protect high tension electric wires from damage, which pass through its premises.

Official sources said the MC authorities had decided to cut these trees as these had caused damage to the HT wires several times during stormy winds in the region when they fell on the wires and disrupted the power supply.

Due to frequent damage to the wires, the main water works located behind the Rose Garden had been getting erratic power supply and thus disrupting supply of potable water to residents of this town, official sources added.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the auction of the trees, including poplar, eucalyptus and some others, had been held and the work to cut the same had been awarded to a contractor.

However, a section of residents who visited the Rose Garden for morning and evening walk daily while talking to TNS, said the MC authorities should find some other way to protect the wires instead of cutting the 132 trees.

Mr Kamal Kant Goyal, Executive Officer, Municipal Council, said there was no other way to save the wires for ensuring uninterrupted power supply to the water works than to cut the trees.

The permission for cutting the trees had been taken from the Ministry of Environment and Forest, he said, adding that the municipal council would develop a number of green patches in the town this year.


‘Abducted’ girl produced before SDM
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, April 5
A week-long controversy of abduction of the girl ended yesterday when she was produced before Mr Puneet Goyal, SDM by the police.

According to sources, the parents of the girl had alleged their daughter was abducted by Vimal Parsad of the same village.

The girl issued a statement in the presence of the SP (City), Mr Manminder Singh and Mr Mohan Lal, former Punjab Minister and said that she had left the house, on her own and had married Vimal Parsad and was living happily.

However, some residents of Bhawal village raised slogans against a Congress leader.


Baba Thakur Singh hospitalised
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 5
Baba Thakur Singh, Acting Chief of Damdami Taksal, was rushed to a private hospital in a critical condition after a road accident here yesterday.

Senior Akali leaders including Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Bhai Ram Singh of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), visited Kakkar Hospital to know about his condition.


Notices to two pvt ultrasound centres
Tribune News Service

Malout, April 5
The district authorities concerned of the Health Department, Muktsar, has issued notices for explanation to two private ultrasound centres running in this city as large-scale irregularities were found in their respective records.

Mr Gurjant Singh Sekhon, Appropriate Authority, Health Department, Malout subdivision, talking to TNS, said owners of both centres had submitted their explanation and the authorities concerned were examining it for further action.

He said the ultrasound machines which had been functioning in the 50-bedded Civil Hospital, Badal, were not in use at present as the qualified radiologist who used to operate the machines had retired on March 31. He said the machines had been kept in one of the Civil Hospital rooms.


Ridding city walls of posters, graffiti
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
The Convener of the Citizen Forum Helpline, Mr Brij Bedi stated that the Forum had launched a campaign with police help to make the walls of the holy city free from posters and graffiti.

Mr Bedi said in the first phase Forum members cleared walls of the Irrigation Building, Queen’s Road, Railway Link road, children’s ward and other places. He stated that despite Punjab and Haryana High Court’s direction to the states of Punjab, Haryana and the Union Territory of Chandigarh against displaying or paint advertisements on the walls of public toilets, guide maps, kiosks and dumping sheds, it had been going on here.


Health clinic for ex-servicemen
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
Lieut Gen K. Nagraj, GOC 11 Corps, today launched an Ex-servicemen Contributory Health Scheme clinic at Military Hospital near here today.

The clinic was opened to provide comprehensive medicare to pensioners, widow pensioners and their dependents. A defence spokesman said one time contribution ranging from Rs 1,800 to Rs 18,000, depending upon the pension being drawn, would entitle them of a medical cover without any pre-condition of age, disease and the type of the treatment.

He said the government had earmarked a sum of Rs 476 crore for the implementation of the scheme over a period of four years. Besides, various nursing homes, hospitals and diagnostic centres had been empanelled so that special facilities could be made available to ex-servicemen at their respective places.


Order on panchayat land stayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 5
Issuing notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed the operation of an order passed in December, last year. The government, vide its order, had rescinded an earlier order allowing the donation of 15 kanals of panchayat land to an educational trust.

The government had initially granted sanction for donating panchayat land at Sekhwan village to Jathedar Ujjagar Singh Sekhwan Memorial Trust for providing free medical and educational facilities to the poor. A complex was also raised for setting up a dental college. But the order granting sanction to the trust was rescinded through another order without giving any hearing. After hearing the arguments in the case and going through the orders the court issued notice of motion before staying the operation of the orders passed by the state government.


Sugar scam: Billa asked to join probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 5
Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, head, All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, who was instrumental in exposing scam in sugar import from Pakistan has been asked to join inquiry by the Vigilance Bureau. The state government has directed the Vigilance Bureau after the Sena chief wrote a letter to the Chief Minister in this regard.


Report of VB raid on DEO (S) office submitted
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 5
The report of a raid by sleuths of the Vigilance Bureau, Mansa, on the office of the District Education Officer ( Secondary ) regarding an alleged fraud being played on the government by certain persons has been sent to the Chandigarh office of the bureau. This was stated by Mr Harnek Singh, Inspector , Vigilance Bureau, here yesterday. The raid was conducted on March 27.

According to information available here today, a clerk, who was allegedly being marked present in the DEO(S) office despite the fact that he had fractured his leg on December 12, 2002, and had been bedridden since then, was called from his home for inquiry. The head of Government School, Phaphre Bhaike, from where the clerk had been on deputation at the DEO office, had been drawing his salary and making payment to him on the basis of the attendance certificate being issued by the Superintendent of the DEO(S) office with the assent of the DEO(S). However, no case had been registered by the Vigilance Bureau till today.

However, the clerk said he was on leave from December 13, 2002, to January 15, 2003, due to a leg injury. He had been going to the office since January 16, he added. The DEO (S), Mr Avtar Singh, was not available for comment in this regard.


Petrol station attendant booked
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
The police today booked Sanjiv Kumar Thakur, an attendant of a petrol station, under Section 420 of the IPC for cheating a customer while filling petrol in his vehicle.

The case was registered on a complaint of Mr Sandeep Goyal, a resident of the city, who visited Meenakshi Enterprises today for filling petrol in his vehicle. He alleged that the attendant had taken Rs 200 from him for the petrol, although petrol worth Rs 160 was filled in his vehicle. He alleged that even the meter of petrol filling machine showed that petrol of Rs 200 was filled.

Mr Goyal said he asked the attendant to show him the quantity of the petrol filled and it was found that petrol worth Rs 160 was filled although the meter showed it to be of Rs 200. He alleged that the meter was tampered with.

The situation became tense when heated words were exchanged between Mr Goyal and the petrol station owner. Mr Goyal alleged that the attendants cheated customers in connivance with the owner of petrol station, while the owner refuted the allegations. They said Mr Goyal was making issue out of nothing.

Mr Ashok Bhargav, owner of the station, said Sanjiv was not at fault. He said Sanjiv had understood that Mr Goyal wanted to get petrol of Rs 160. He alleged that Mr Goyal slapped Sanjiv and used derogatory language.

The situation could have gone out of hand when owners of other petrol station and friends of Mr Goyal assembled there, as Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City), who reached the spot immediately, had not asked for the inspection of the machine by department concerned.

The officers of the District Food Supply Department also visited the petrol pump to check whether the meter was tampered with.


ASI held on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
An assistant Sub-Inspector (ASI) of the Punjab police, Jeet Singh, the in charge of the police chowki at Singo village, under the Talwandi Sabo police station, has been arrested by the state Vigilance Bureau for accepting a bribe of Rs 2,500 from a resident of the village.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SP (Vigilance), in a press note issued here today, said the ASI who has done MA in seven subjects, had demanded a bribe of Rs 3,000 from Bhola Singh, a resident of the village, for extending help to him in a case. Bhola Singh had sustained serious injuries on his right arm when he had a scuffle with his brother, Gurjant Singh. A case in this connection had been registered under Sections 325 of the IPC at the Talwandi Sabo police station.

Mr Grewal said the ASI had asked for bribe to influence the outcome of the case. Accepting a sum of Rs 2,500, he returned, Rs 500, saying that Bhola Singh was a poor man.

The SP said the ASI had been arrested in the presence of two witnesses — Gurtej Singh, Agriculture Development Officer and Mr Som Nath, a clerk in the Agriculture Department. He said the bribe amount had been seized from the office-cum-retiring room of the ASI. Mr Grewal said during a search operation at the house of the ASI in Bathinda, about six tolas of gold jewellery, Rs 2,000 and three passbooks of various banks had been seized. He said the ASI had done MA in economics, history, political science, sociology, public administration, philosophy and Punjabi.

Mr Grewal said the ASI had a house in the Shant Nagar area of the city, built at an estimated cost of Rs 20 lakh. He said a case under Sections 7, 13 (2) and 88 of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the ASI, adding that the registration of a case against him for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income was under consideration.


Couple booked for duping youth
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 5
The police has booked a couple of a nearby village Mehtan for allegedly defrauding a youth of Rs 8.25 lakh on the pretext of sending him to the USA.

It was learnt today that the complainant Joginderpal of Virk village had alleged that the travel agent, Hukam Singh, and his wife, Darshana Rani, had received the first instalment of Rs 2 lakh and the passport in March 1998, for sending his son, Buta Ram, to the USA. A sum of Rs 2 lakh was given to the travel agent in April, 1998. Buta Ram was taken to Delhi and kept there for a month but left to fend for himself. The father of Buta Ram had to cough out Rs 4.25 lakh more after which his son was sent to Columbia instead of the USA. However, Buta Ram returned to India in 2001 as he remained unemployed in Columbia.

When the aggrieved party approached the agents, they promised to send Buta Ram to Italy and to return Rs 4.25 lakh to them. Even the village panchayat was approached in this regard.

However, Buta Ram was neither sent to Italy nor the promised amount returned. At this the complainant lodged a report with the local police which registered a case under Sections 420 and 406 of the IPC against the couple for cheating and criminal breach of the trust. However, no one has been arrested so far.


1 held for defrauding patient
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
The district police has arrested one person on the charge of duping a patient of Rs 2 lakh for the treatment of his spinal injury.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here yesterday, said that Hazura Singh of Patiala, in his complaint, alleged that his nephew Nazar Singh was admitted to Guru Teg Bhadur Hospital at Kartarpur for treatment of spinal injury on September 18.

He said Guwinder Singh Samra of a hospital assured them that the patient would be treated properly using imported technology and were asked to deposit Rs 2 lakh.

Contrary to the assurances the patient was never treated up to the fitness level. When Hazura Singh demanded that the money back, Mr Samra threatened the former of dire consequences if he pursued the matter with the police. A case under Sections 406, 420 and 506 of the IPC has been registered and Mr Samra was arrested from his residence.

Meanwhile, the police has booked two persons for embezzlement of gurdwara funds to the tune of Rs 50,000. Darshan Singh, president Gurdwara Guru Teg Bahadur, Sanjay Gandhi Nagar, in his complaint, alleged that an amount of Rs 50,000 was granted by the state government to the managing committee of the gurdwara for carrying out development activities about two years ago. But, Mohinder Singh and Balwant Singh had withdrawn the money without proper authority.


Thieves’ gang smashed
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
The local police today claimed it had busted a gang of scooter thieves by arresting its kingpin during a drive initiated against anti-social elements in the city.

District police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal disclosed that the Kotwali police headed by Inspector Krishan Kumar Panthey had arrested one Sonu who upon questioning was revealed to be travelling in a stolen Bajaj Chetak scooter numbered PB 11- A 9877. He said upon interrogation of Sonu, who was a resident of Safabadi Gate, four more stolen scooters were recovered.

Mr Umranangal said while one Bajaj Chetak scooter had been stolen from Sector 18 in Chandigarh, the other scooters were stolen from railway crossing number 22 in the city, from Government Rajindra Hospital and from Dukhniwaran Sahib Gurdwara. He said the police was on the lookout of few other members of the gang.


4 travel agents booked
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 5
The district police has booked four travel agents for allegedly duping a person of Rs 70,000 on the pretext of sending him abroad.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said in a press note issued here today that Sanjeev Kumar of Jandusingha village had complained in this regard. The police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420, IPC, against Ram Lal, Pappu, Mohan Lal and Nikki.


Armed robbers loot petrol station
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 5
Four car-borne, unidentified armed robbers struck at Highway Fuel Pump at Mansurpur village between Phillaur and Goraya early today and decamped with Rs 46,676.

Police sources said robbers with muffled faces entered a room of the petrol station where two employees, Virinder and Shiv Shankar, were asleep and asked them to handover eight boxes of mobile oil and entire cash at pistol point.

The Phillaur police has registered a case under Sections 382, 506, 34 of the IPC.


Couple’s bid to commit suicide

Jalandhar, April 5
An issueless couple allegedly tried to commit suicide by setting themselves on fire at Guru Nanakpura this afternoon.

According to sources, the couple, Bhupinder Kumar and his wife Rita, got married five years ago but have no issue. Rita told police that she was being harassed by her in-laws for having no issue. Frustrated by this, they tried to commit suicide. UNI


Chemist held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 5
The district police today arrested Ashok Kumar Jain, owner of a chemist shop at Pujan Wala Chowk in the city, for allegedly selling intoxicants to youth. A case has been registered against Jain.


Saru gets special chance to reappear
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 5
Setting aside all norms, Punjabi University, Patiala, has exempted Fine Arts student Saru Rana, who had accused the former Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, of attempting to rape her, of the necessity of sitting for practical examinations of the Fine Arts second-year postgraduate course in which she had failed last year while taking the examination again this year.

This means Saru will need to only sit for two theory papers while taking the second year re-examination. Saru’s percentage of 81 per cent and 83 per cent in the two practical papers scored by her last year will hold good while calculating her result this year. Saru had flunked both her theory papers scoring 20 out of the 80 marks in both of them. However, in the 20 mark practical quotient in the same papers she had been awarded 18 and 17 marks, respectively. The theory papers had been marked by external examiners. Saru had applied for re-evaluation but the marks remained unchanged, according to sources.

The Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, when contacted, admitted that the decision was against the university norms. He, however, said he had taken this decision as an exceptional case because he had his sympathies for “the little girl” who underwent such adverse publicity. “As a human being I thought I would make this exception,” he said, adding he had also studied the theory papers attempted by Saru.

Mr Boparai said Saru had been able to attempt very few questions in both the theory papers. He said he understood she did not have time to study properly but that he had noted that she had attempted the questions she knew satisfactorily. Going further, he said had the entire matter been explained properly to him earlier he might not have failed Saru altogether.

The sources said the VC while giving permission to Saru from reappearing in the practical examinations following an application submitted by her, has noted that this case should be treated as an extraordinary case and should not be treated as a precedent for any other student.

The university has not given such an exemption to any other student till now. According to the university calendar, if a student fails in one paper he can reappear only for the specific paper concerned provided he has an aggregate score of 50 per cent in the rest of the three papers. However, in case a student fails in two papers there is no option except to appear for all papers again.

In a related development which may have an effect on the fortunes of the present students of the Fine Arts Department, the examination branch has asked practical examiners of various departments to be more careful in marking the practical examinations of students.

This is because there is sometimes a wide variance in the practical marks vis a vis the theory marks which are evaluated by external examiners. The examination branch has explained to the practical examiners to make efforts to ensure that the marks obtained by the students in the practicals are in general consonance with their performance in the theory papers.


PSEB books carry stickers against rules
Our Correspondent

A photocopy shows the original as well as the revised rate on the sticker pasted on a PSEB book being sold in the market.

Abohar, April 5
Even though the highest court had prohibited the use of stickers to exhibit revised rate on any of the commodity, stationery shops in the district have been flooded with books published by the Punjab School Education Board carrying stickers of revised rates.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, the sellers were having as old as 1998 editions of some books published and marketed by the PSEB through its depots. As per section 7 of the agreement reached between the sellers and the PSEB no authorised seller could sell the books in bounded form to charge more price than published on the second page of the title, but not a single book was available at the shops without binding. The sellers were reportedly paying rupee one each book to the binders but charging up to Rs 3, it is learnt.

Mr Gurcharan Singh Gill, president of the Punjabi Sabhyachar Manch here, had purchased books published by the PSEB in 1999 onwards. All such books carried stickers of revised rate, some of the stickers had been pasted in such a manner that the original rate was also readable.

There was a difference of Rs 2 to 5 in the old and present editions. This year’s edition was not available at any of the sale points. Official sources said the syllabi had changed during the last five years. Accordingly some of the books became out of date but neither the PSEB nor the booksellers could afford to sell the old stock to waste paper.

The local office of the PSEB, when contacted, justified using stickers of revised rates claiming that this was in accordance with the revised rate list circulated by the headquarters of the PSEB but in the same breath the local office declined to comment on the violation of section 7 of the agreement regarding binding.


Kids paint their dreams at carnival
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, April 5
Children relived their dreams through paintings at an art carnival organised at Yadavindra Public School (YPS) here where for once they did not have anyone telling them as to what they should draw and how.

The art carnival, which saw enthusiastic participation from students of the junior school, saw children paint their own special “dream picture”. This name was given to the paintings because this was what the children were told to do. The students reacted with gusto painting a variety of images and patterns.

School Principal R.P. Devgan said the carnival had been organised to encourage creativity amongst children. He said he believed that there was no right or wrong way to paint and that the children should only be encouraged to spontaneously paint their self-expressions. He said researches had revealed that children’s art was a school of thought. He said the delightful symptoms of self-expression reflected in works of children till the age of 12 slowly started vanishing in the routine process of growth.

Mr Devgan said there was a general feeling that children were drawing tutored images presently. He said this could be proved by flicking through any art sketch book of any child. “Images of Mickey Mouse, a mouse, a cat, a dog or a river with a boat or even the Indian National Flag can be seen. He said there was no creativity in these paintings as children were deprived of using their own imagination with open minds while drawing the images.”

Children at the carnival tried out different modes of expression. Nehmat Grewal painted impressions on her hand before transferring them on chart. Chaitanya Goel of class IV-E seemed to be inspired by his Goa visit depicting a “dream’” sequence on a beach. Ria Singla of 3 - N made a beautiful world of balloons and games in her picture. As far as the parents were concerned, class V student Shubham’s mother said the completely free atmosphere given to the students had even resulted in parents not suggesting any paintings to their children.

In keeping with the spirit of the carnival, its organiser and art educator in the School Manmeet SP Singh said the paintings would not be judged at all. He said the paintings would, however, be put up in the galleries of the school as well as on notice boards to encourage students further. He said a similar exercise for senior students would also be initiated shortly with parents of the junior school expressing their happiness at the new experiment.


Jacob confers degrees on graduates
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 5
The Governor of Punjab, Lt. Gen J.F.R. Jacob (retd), today criticised the education policy of the state. In the state’s education policy much of the budget had been allocated for arts and humanity fields, he added.

The Governor presided over the annual convocation of the Institute of Engineering and Technology, Bhaddal near Ropar today. He said besides promoting the traditional fields in technical education the government should also promote courses like nanotechnology and biotechnology.

He conferred degrees on 89 engineering graduates of the IET and also awarded 37 other meritorious students. The chairman, Kandi Areas Friends’ Society, also spoke on the occasion.


BSNL mobile users’ directory not on cards
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 5
Though the BSNL has about 1.65 lakh mobile phone subscribers in the state yet its Punjab Telecom Circle authorities seem to be in no mood to print a mobile phone users’ directory on the pattern of landline phone directory.

While addressing a press conference here today, Mr Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL, Sangrur, said he had recently raised the issue of mobile phone directory at a meeting of the authorities concerned but he had been told that the BSNL had no plans in this regard. He added that no telecom circle in the country had printed such a mobile phone directory.

The GM also said there were 12,425 BSNL mobile phone subscribers in the Sangrur district and the authorities had decided to add a capacity of 12,000 more mobile connections by the end of April in the district in the second phase. He said in the third phase of mobile-network expansion, the entire district would be covered during this year. Mr Labh Singh said two highway sites at Dhuri and Ahmedgarh had been selected to be upgraded as city sites with the installation of additional antennas towards these towns on the existing towers.

Mr Labh Singh further said the Sangrur BSNL authorities would be able to provide wireless in local loop (WLL) phone connections to 2,500 subscribers in the district by the end of December this year.

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