Saturday, April 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Power tariff hike may be below 15 p.c.
Punjab yet to present case to PSERC
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The revision of power tariff has been held up because the Punjab Government has not yet presented its case to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC), seeking another extension of one week.

Official sources say though the rough draft of the representation to be submitted to the commission has been prepared, the final draft will be prepared after a meeting with the Chief Minister. The volume of subsidy on power to be given to the agricultural sector and the poor sections of society will be a crucial factor for the commission to determine the rates of tariff.

Chief Secretary, Y.S. Ratra told TNS that “only after discussions with the Chief Minister, I would be able to say something on the subsidy to be offered to the farming sector”.

In the tariff revision application, the PSEB has proposed an increase in tariff from 22 per cent to 48 per cent for various categories. It has sought a 48 per cent increase for the lowest category of domestic consumers, the power bills of whom are only up to 100 units.

Indications from the commission are that the tariff increase for various categories will be below 15 per cent if the state government committed the existing volume of subsidy for the agricultural sector and the poor sections of society. The Government last year had given about Rs 950 crore as subsidy by way of not charging interest on loans given to the board and allowing it to retain electricity duty to the tune of Rs 150 crore, besides a few crores of rupees in cash.

Sources in the commission said the board was expected to be allowed to mop up about Rs 700 crore by way of revision in tariff for the current financial year against its request for Rs 1862 crore. However, if the subsidy was increased, the chances of which are very remote keeping in view the financial position of the state government, the Rs 700 crore figure could come down to Rs 600 crore. The commission has reached the conclusion that the demand made by the board to mop up Rs 1862 crore by increasing tariff is not tenable.

The sources told The Tribune that all necessary groundwork had been done for preparing the power tariff revision order. “After the government’s representation the order would be made public in three weeks”, said a senior official of the commission.


Will higher fees ensure quality education?
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
Will the enhanced user charges ensure good quality of social and economic services? There is no ‘charter of services’ appended to any proposal submitted by the departments promising either improved or adequate quality of services.

In the memorandum on higher education, it has been contended that financial constraints had led to continuous deterioration in quality of education. “So much so that even stationery items could not be made available in colleges”.

What the present government has proposed is not something new. The previous government too had drawn up a similar blueprint to revamp higher education, cut costs and gradually phase out grants to the state’s three universities (at the rate of 10 per cent per annum to bring it to zero in 10 years), non-government aided colleges (at a rate that 95 per cent grant-in-aid would reach the zero level in five years) and gradually raise admission and tuition fees every year. The then Council of Ministers had last taken up these proposals on August 8, 2000. These however, remained deferred till the present government dusted them out.

The proposals that were shelved were a breakaway from Panjab University, Chandigarh; converting Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, into an open university and affiliating all government and non-government-aided colleges to Punjabi University, Patiala. Further, the continuation of 40 per cent grant to Panjab University was made conditional, politically linked to the fate of Chandigarh.

The other proposals were to make 10 government colleges “autonomous”, close down at least three “sick” government colleges, enhance the admission and tuition fees for all colleges, introduce the “contract” system for teaching and non-teaching staff, allow government colleges to start “consultancy services’’ and accept “donation’’ to enable them become self-sufficient.

The decision to abolish free education for girls up to graduation was also that of the previous government, which had argued that in a democracy not charging admission and tuition fees from girls was discriminatory. This decision was to effect a saving of Rs 4 crore only. The present government, while adhering to that decision, has added a new proviso — SC and BC students would keep availing all facilities under the Government of India schemes.

While the proposed hike in the admission and tuition fees in August, 2000, was to be effected in small doses, the present hike has been effected in one sweep. A parent will now have to shell out about Rs 14,000 per annum on an undergraduate ward.


SAD MLAs may not accept hike in perks
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 11
In its strategy to oppose the recent hike in the perks of MLAs and ministers, for which a Bill was passed in the state Assembly recently, the SAD may ask its MLAs not to accept the revised emoluments.

Talking to reporters here today, former Finance Minister and general secretary of the SAD, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, said the recent hike in perks would further burden the economy of the state even as development works in various parts of the state were virtually a non-starter during the Congress regime.

Asked whether Akali MLAs would draw the revised perks, he said, “We have decided to discuss the issue during the coming meeting of party legislators and the final decision will be taken after taking party MLAs into confidence.”

When pointed out that the Bill regarding the hike in perks was passed unanimously in the Vidhan Sabha, he denied this, saying that his party had no prior information about the Bill and rather he and Mr Parkash Singh Badal were absent from the House when it was passed.

On the hike in the fee structure of colleges and universities, the former Finance Minister said the Congress government from day one of its installation, was determined to take anti-people steps.

The government’s steps like abolishing of various welfare schemes launched by the previous government, including the Shagun Scheme, old-age pension, free education for the gird child and free power supply to the irrigation sector, has exposed the Congress in front of the people, he added.

“During last year’s Budget, taxes worth Rs 3000 crore were imposed, now in the recent Budget new taxes of Rs 200 crore were imposed and next month the electricity tariff will also be revised. Where is the money collected through taxes going even as no new development project has been initiated by the state government?” he asked.

On the government’s decision to abolish octroi from July 1, he said octroi had been renamed as the local area development tax (LADT). “As the Exim form has already been implemented, a further 2 per cent LADT will deteriorate the condition of the business in the state, he claimed.

On the much-hyped Akali unity, he said efforts were on for it.

Reacting sharply to the government’s decision to reconstitute the Anandpur Sahib Foundation, he said the government had no role in the foundation as it was an autonomous body. “We will challenge the government’s decision in court, as the government has no power to reconstitute the foundation,” he added.


Probe ordered into MC recruitment scam
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 10
The Punjab Government has ordered a probe into the large-scale recruitment of employees in municipal councils during the SAD-BJP regime in violation of established norms.

Stating this at a function organised to inaugurate the municipal corporation, here today the Local Bodies Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, said by recruiting a large number of employees in the municipal councils allegedly due to certain considerations, the SAD-BJP combine government had denied the opportunity of employment to meritorious and deserving candidates on the one hand and on the other, it had put huge financial burden on the municipal councils which further affected their financial health.

“The inquiry is on and it is expected that the state government will get its report soon. The moment the inquiry report is received, suitable action will be taken,” said the minister. An inquiry into the provision of a road in the Transport Nagar to facilitate a section of land dealers of the town by the authorities concerned had also been ordered and action would be taken in this regard too.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Finance Committee, who presided over the occasion, pointed out that atleast 485 officers of different departments of the state government had been caught in corruption cases under the state government’s move to eradicate corruption from the set up.

Mr Jagjit Singh said no municipal employee would be retrenched with the abolition of octroi in the state from July 1, 2003. He added that all those employees, who had been working in the octroi wing, would be adjusted suitably. He claimed that by abolishing octroi, the Punjab Government would not commit the contempt of court. The entry tax, which would be imposed as an alternative to octroi, would generate revenue to the tune of Rs 700 crore to state government per annum.

The minister disclosed that the state government had decided to constitute local-level committees for carrying out sanitation work in the urban areas in proper, efficient and scientific manner the state government had decided to repair all existing planned and link roads in one go. Residents would be covered under potable water and sewerage facilities in a phased manner and funds for the same had been arranged.

Regarding election to the Bathinda Municipal Corporation, the Local Bodies Minister said the process of delimitation of 50 wards had been started and after the exercise was over, steps would be taken hold elections.

Mr Jagjit Singh, who also laid the foundation stone of the Transport Nagar and dairy complex being set by the improvement trust authorities at the cost of Rs 20 crore in about 105 acres of land situated on the Bathinda-Goniana road, later, distributed cheques of grants from the Urban Development Fund to the municipal councils falling in the district. He also gave a cheque for Rs 1.72 crore to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, for the development of the town.

Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, MLA, Pakka Kalan, Mr Bikramjit Singh, chairman, zila parishad, Mr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, president, DCC, Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Mr Anil Bhola, Mr Suresh Kumar and Mr Subash Vij, all senior Congress leaders were also present.


Fake SGPC votes made: Sehajdharis
Tribune Reporters

Ludhiana, April 11
The process of the SGPC elections came under suspicion when Dr Paramjeet Singh Ranu, president, Sehajdhari Sikh Federation, alleged that a majority of the voters enrolled as kesdharis we in fact Sehajdharis. Commenting on the figures stated by the Gurdwara Election Commission in the press regarding kesdhari voters, Dr Ranu said his party would challenge the electoral rolls as many relatives of SGPC members had been enrolled as kesdhari Sikh voters whereas they were Sehajdharis.

In 1959 when the gurdwaras under the Pepsu were brought under the control of the SGPC, Parliament included the Sehajdharis within the definition of voters. The basic requirement for a voter under the Sikh Gurudwara Act, 1925, was his unflinching faith in the teachings of the 10 Gurus and Guru Granth Sahib.

On November 30, 2000, the SGPC under the presidentship of Jathedar Jagdev Singh Talwandi passed a resolution to take away the voting right of the Sehajdhari Sikhs in the SGPC elections.

The Sehajdhari Sikhs them claimed to constitute 80 per cent of the world Sikh population and the Sehajdhari Sikh Federation was registered under Section 29 (1) of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, as a political party by the Election Commission of India.

The matter was taken to the court when SAD (A) challenged the 1959 amendment of the Sikh Gurudwara Act, which had given a voting right to Sehajdhari Sikhs. The matter is sub judice.

Political analysts are of the opinion that in the coming SGPC elections, Sehajdhari Sikh voters will be a decisive factor.

Bathinda: The association said that it would challenge the registration of fake votes, although it did not make clear with which forum it would lodge the complaint. The association alleged that relatives of some SGPC members were Sehajdharis as they cut hair, but they had been registered as “kesdhari” voters.

Dr Ranu said about 80 per cent of votes registered under the “kesdhari” category for the elections of the SGPC were fake. He said that such persons had taken an oath while filling the form for registration as voters, that they do not cut hair.

He, however, alleged that many persons had concealed the truth for getting themselves enrolled as voters.

He claimed that the figures given in newspapers about the registration of Sehajdharis as voters for the AGPC by the Gurudwara Election Commission were not correct. Actually, their number was more than reported. 


SGPC writes to CM on Ashutosh Maharaj
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 11
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, in a communication to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, today asked what action the government had taken to curb the alleged blasphemous activities of the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan (DJJS).

Mr Harbeant Singh, secretary, SGPC, said that the alleged ‘anti-Panthic’activities of the Sansthan could vitiate atmosphere of the state. However, the state government had done nothing to check the activities of Ashutosh Maharaj letters by the SGPC chief to the government. He said the state government was also informed of the decision of Panthic conclave held at Akal Takht on February 28 which had sought ban on the activities of the Sansthan.


Murder probe indicts SP, DSP
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 11
Mr Mandip Singh Sidhu, SP (Headquarters), here in his revised report has recommended action against Mr Gurkirpal Singh, SP (D), and Mr Raj Bachan Singh, Malerkotla DSP, for alleged “involvement” in the “hushing up” of a case of death of Santokh Singh of Dasaundha Singh Wala village near Malerkotla. It is alleged that the police was “bribed” to “hush up” the case.

Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, said action had been recommended against the SP (D) and Malerkotla DSP in the inquiry report in this case. He said he would seek legal opinion before starting action in the matter.

Mr Rai claimed that there was no truth in the allegations, of two relatives of Mr Kuldip Singh, a brother-in-law (wife’s brother) of the deceased Santokh Singh that Mr Kuldip Singh had been “picked up” by the police this morning.

Sources said a brother of Mr Kuldip Singh today submitted an affidavit to senior police officers here stating that Mr Kuldip Singh had been “picked up” by the police this morning. He also claimed that an amount of Rs 30,000 was also returned to Mr Kuldip Singh last night by a police officer from Malerkotla through a sarpanch, which had also been allegedly taken from Kuldip Singh by the police officer.

Santokh Singh died on February 4, 2003 and on a complaint of a son of the decreased the Malerkotla police booked Mr Darshan Singh of the same village. But Darshan Singh was let off after two days. An Inquiry “established” that transactions of money led to the “hushing up” of the case.


New law to govern immigration to Canada
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 11
Cases of those seeking immigration to Canada are being dealt under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act effective from April 1, said Devinder Shory, a Canadian immigration lawyer.

Mr Shory said as per the decision of the Canadian Federal Court in 102 cases — all filed before December 31, 2001, the immigration authorities would decide the cases as per the old system. He said that all other cases would be decided according to the new law.

He informed that the applicants who had filed papers before the cut-off date could also benefit from this ruling if they approach the federal court. He said it was possible that the cases of those who applied before the said date could be rejected even without an interview.

Mr Tej Parkash Singh, a representative of the Indo-Canadian Lawyers Association said that following the new Act, the priority had been given to the cases where the spouse had applied for immigration. The spouses can now get medical examination done and forward the report to their sponsor for expediting proceedings in Canada.


Chaman Lal flays ‘healing touch’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 11
Criticising the Jammu and Kashmir government’s “failure” to curb militancy in the state, the Union Minister of State for Defence, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta today said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mufti Mohammed Syeed’s ‘healing touch’ policy towards militants had failed to yield tangible results.

Attacking the ‘healing touch’ policy of the state government, Mr Gupta said the families of innocent victims of the militants’ guns required the healing touch of the state government and not the Pakistan-sponsored foreign mercenaries, who were effecting bloodshed in the state. “Non-implementation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA), disbanding of Special Operations Group (SOG) and the healing touch policy are the wrong decision of the state government leading to a spurt in militant activities,” he said.

Talking about the ‘non-implementation’ of POTA in Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Gupta raised questions about the fate of 26 terrorists, who were booked under the POTA and the sub-judice POTA cases. Disbanding of the SOG has demoralised the security forces and has created obstructions in their way to launching any offensive against militants,” lamented Mr Gupta.

He termed the Hurriyat Conference as a “creation” of Pakistan and the USA and said the state government should change its policies and combat militancy with an iron hand apart from implementing the POTA in the state.


No variety shows on Baisakhi mela
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 11
In a significant departure from earlier trends, the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has decided not to allow anybody to organise variety (dance) shows and circus during the Baisakhi mela to maintain its religious sanctity.

Sources said the SGPC took this decision after it gathered reports that at certain melas of the Sikhs, a section of the people had been minting money by organising variety shows and had been polluting the religious atmosphere by playing vulgar songs. Besides, the circus and other entertainment shows had also been diverting the attention of devotees.

Mr Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, while talking to TNS, pointed out that initially the SGPC had allotted land to the organisers of variety shows and circus, but later he took up the matter with the SGPC chief, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, and urged him to stop these shows, which was done.

He said besides toy sellers, religious book sellers, land had been allotted only to persons, societies or organisations which would organise religious diwans or exhibitions to educate farmers regarding new techniques in agriculture.

Meanwhile, the district police authorities and the civil administration have made elaborate arrangements for the convenience of devotees, who started pouring into this town since this morning from for-away places to pay obeisance at the historical Gurdwara Takht Damdama Sahib and to take an holy dip in sarovars.

To prevent any untoward incident, two police control rooms have been set up.

Mrs K. P. Brar will be the overall in charge of the mela.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said adequate security arrangements had been made.

The district administration has set up 160 drinking water outlets, 150 temporary toilets and rescue camps equipped with boats, divers and swimmers. Special buses will be plied to this town from different places for the convenience of the public.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the Congress, the SAD, the Lok Bhalai Party, the BKU and other political outfits will organise their conferences on April 14 on Baisakhi.

For the first time, the General Category Welfare Federation will organise its conference on this occasion with the help of the General Samaj Party.


Businessman’s murder: police in blind alley
Tribune News Service

Moga, April 11
The police so far has failed to solve the murder case of an industrialist of Kot Kapura, whose charred body was recovered from a field near the Moga bypass on December 10, 2002. Family members of the deceased will meet the CM on Monday to demand a CBI inquiry into the case.

Charred body of Mukand Singh (55) a social worker and aide of former Home Minister Buta Singh was spotted in a burnt hull of a vehicle in the morning. He had reported the matter to the police which, on the basis of burnt documents recovered from the car, was able to identify the body as that of the deceased.

The police had also claimed that he had been tortured and body hacked to pieces. The body then was doused with petrol and set ablaze in his car to destroy the evidence. The head had three wounds of a sharp-edged weapon and arms and legs had been cut off too.

Talking to The Tribune, residents here alleged that the police was shielding certain police officer who they suspected was behind the murder. The main accused in the case — Darshan Singh Gasha — was detained by the police twice but was let off both times due to insufficient evidence, they pointed out.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, a son of the deceased, said that even after seven months the police was groping in the dark to ascertain the circumstances leading to the murder and the accused. We met the CM earlier who marked the inquiry to ADGP, Crime, K.K. Attri. He, too, filed a report that the department was unable to solve the murder, he said. We will meet the CM on Monday and urge him to hand over the investigations to the CBI, he revealed.

He condemned the charges of moral turpitude and said that the police was yet to disclose the antecedents of the woman, the police claimed was with his father before the murder. He enjoyed a clean reputation, he added.

The deceased that fateful day left for Moga reportedly to strike a deal for a car. He was carrying Rs 2 lakh in cash at that time besides some important documents in separate suitcases. He went to the house of his friend Darshan Singh alias Gasha in Moga and the duo then went to Pankaj Autos to see Zen car. They could not strike the deal and later reportedly went out for drinks.

What happened after this is not known but the sources said that the two allegedly had a tiff on some matter as a result of which Mukand Singh was murdered. The two suitcases containing the money and the documents are missing. The cops are also investigating the role of a senior police office in this context, the sources added.

The cops, so far, have only established that the deceased had a last call on his mobile at 8.47 p.m. from a Ludhiana Spice tower, discrediting the claim of Gasha who said that the deceased dropped him home at 8.50 p.m. in Moga more than 60 km from Ludhiana.


Tiwana’s son pays homage to father
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
Harpal Tiwana’s comic satire “Mela Munda Kuriyan Da” was staged at the Central State Library here last evening. The play written in 1978, was chosen as the launch pad of the Harpal Tiwana Foundation because Tiwana wanted to stage the play again but he died before that. The play was staged on a grand scale with a star cast of Preeti Sapru, Hansraj Hans and Dhami of Heera fame.

Nandi, the heroine of the play, falls to convince a student to act against his father, chairman of the College management committee in the original script written by Harpal Tiwana. However in yesterday’s production his son Manpal Tiwana had the heroine convincing the college chairman’s son as well as other students to reform the educational system in the rural college.

Manpal, who has studied theatrical film production from London and was there when his father was killed in a road accident, said he wanted to use imagery as well as exhibitionism in theatre due to which he had made a few changes in the script.

The main protagonist of the play is Nandi, played by Morakin. Sameep Kang, hero of Jaspal Bhatti’s film ‘Mahaul Theek Hai’, performs creditably as the egoist son of the chairman. Nirmal Rishi, famous in Punjab for acting as Gulabo Massi in the film ‘Long da Lishkara’ played the role of the principal of the college.

The play is the first major theatrical production in the city in years with people remembering “Sirhind di Deewar” staged by Harpal Tiwana around three years back as the last major production. Manpal said he would galvanise the Harpal Tiwana Foundation, which has politicians like Mr Sant Ram Singla and actors like Om Puri and Raj Babbar as its members, to give regular theatrical productions.

For once the ‘sifarishi’ crowd which is cajoled to attend the few theatrical productions organised in the city was also missing. This was because at least 80 per cent of the seats were ticketed. Manpal says he is among the new generation of theatre actors who feel that theatre should be made a viable alternative in modern times adding “performers also need to eat”. State Finance Minister Lal Singh, who was the chief guest on the occasion, announced Rs 2 lakh for the Foundation from his discretionary fund.


An apology for a fire station
K. K. Goyal

Mansa, April 11
The condition of the local fire station is pitiable. There are three fire engines of the 1979 and 1984 models of which one is permanently off the road while another, which had been sent for repairs last year, could not be brought back as the municipal council has no funds to pay the repair bill. Only one fire engine is operational in the district and that, too, is in need of repairs.

Even as the coming. summer season poses a serious threat of fire, the local council does not have adequate arrangements to tackle any such incident. None of the marriage palaces, hotels and restaurants has obtained a no objection certificate from the fire brigade office, which poses a serious threat to the life of residents. These even do not, have basic fire extinguishers. Employees of the fire brigade office are generally not available when needed. The only fire engine at Sardulgarh is under the control of untrained employees, and they, too, are on a contract basis.

The Chief Fire Officer, Mansa, Mr Baldev Singh, commutes from Giddarbaha to Mansa, and his services are not available during the night.

The record of the council shows the Chief Fire Officer present at Mansa as no station leave has been obtained by him from the competent authority. He is never present between 5 pm and 9 a.m. The local council has 18 employees of various cadres to maintain a service which is not available even though Rs 2 lakh is being spent on it per month. None of the fire engines has a pollution control certificate and no insurance company is ready to issue an insurance policy to the fire engines since these are very old. Generally fire engines are requisitioned from neighbouring districts at the time of need or during the visit of any VIP to the district.


Processions mark Ramnavami

Hoshiarpur, April 11
Ramnavami was celebrated with great enthusiasm here on Friday. A procession was taken out through the main bazars of the city. A three-day annual Mahasankirtan Sammelan by the Ram Charit Manas Parchar Mandal started at the local Shakti temple on the occasion.

BATALA: Ramnavami was celebrated here on Friday with great enthusiasm. A religious procession, which started from old grain market, was taken out in this regard.

Earlier, the bhog of Ramayana path was performed at the market.

Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister for Health and Employment, Mr Kasturi Lal Seth, president local unit of the Congress committee, Mr Jugal Puri, former Chairman, Improvement Trust, Batala, and Mr Subash Sekhri, President, Municipal Council, Batala, were among those present.


12 more rice millers booked
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 11
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has booked 12 more rice millers in four districts allegedly for embezzlement of paddy, amounting to more than Rs 8 crore, during the milling season 1998 to 2002.

The Chief Director-cum-ADGP, Vigilance Bureau, Mr A.P. Pandey, said at the instance of procurement agencies, 12 rice millers had been booked for alleged embezzlement of paddy stored at their mill premises. In Patiala, JS Rice Mill, Bhunarheri, had allegedly embezzled paddy amounting to Rs 1,46,31,581 (1999-2000), Dhindsa Gram Udyog Samiti, Bhadson, Rs 56,47,905 (2000-2001), Golden Rice Mill, Chnarthal Kalan, Rs 1,07 crore (2000-2001), Kalwanu Rice Mill, Bhanarheri, Rs 1,47,23,264 (1999-2000) and RK Rice Mill, Rajpura, Rs 23,03,965 (1998-1999). Deepak Enterprises, Sirhind, was also allegedly involved in embezzlement of paddy worth Rs 24,04,342 (2001-2002).

Similarly in Amritsar district, SS Rice Mill, Tarn Taran, embezzled paddy worth Rs 84.07 lakh and Liberty Rice Mill, Raja Sansi, Rs 93,28,747 (1999-2000). Guru Ram Lal Rice Mill Umranangal (Rayya), Shital Rice Mill, Batala, Siri Krishna Trading Co. Batala, and Marwaha Rice Mill, Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur), have also allegedly embezzled paddy amounting to Rs 22,88,090, Rs 58,44,863, Rs 26,11,603 and Rs 21,76,148, respectively, (2001-2002). Criminal cases had been registered in the Patiala and Amritsar ranges of the Vigilance Bureau.


SHO ‘thrashes’ Cong leader
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 11
Supporters of Mr Surinderpal Gikki, vice-president of the Phagwara Block Congress committee, today blocked traffic for about 45 minutes and staged a dharna and a demonstration in front of the local Sadar police station on the Banga road. They were protesting against the alleged thrashing in the police station of Mr Gikki by the SHO, Mr Sarabjit Rai, who has, however, denied the charge.

The protest was called off after SP Harmanbir Singh Gill gave an assurance of action in the matter. While the SHO has admitted that Mr Gikki was put in the lock-up for misbehaviour, he denied beating him or using any casteist language against him.

Activists of the Balmik and Guru Ravi Dass Sabhas and societies and Congress workers staged a noisy rally, demanding action against the SHO.


Kabul-bound buses allowed into Pak

Wagah, April 11
The 25 Kabul-bound buses, which were detained at this joint checkpost yesterday, were today granted permission by the Pakistan Government to enter its territory.

The buses had not been given the permission to enter Pakistan by the Pakistan Rangers. However, the Rangers today informed the BSF that they had received clearance from their senior officers and the buses could enter Pakistan.

The buses, driven by Afghanistan drivers, then crossed over the border from where after immigration and customs clearance they would proceed to Kabul. This was the last batch of buses that left for Kabul. UNI


NGOs for cells to monitor civic bodies
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
More than six non-government organisations demanded a probe into the local Municipal Corporation’s working. ‘Amritsar Vikas Manch’ general secretary Mr Kulwant Singh Sufi demanded a special team to probe corruption in “cash-strapped” civic bodies in Punjab. “Development has been the hardest hit in civic bodies. The cities have turned ugly due to haphazard construction due to corruption”. They said ‘Citizen’s forum’ president Brij Bedi, said nearly half the corporation employees indulging in corruption. Illegal marriage palaces, markets, multi-storey buildings, nursing homes all tell tales of corruption.

Mr Manmohan Singh of the ‘Lok Seva Manch’ demanded a CBI probe into the functioning of corporation. ‘Janwadi Lekhak Sangh’ president Talwinder Singh and general secretary Devdard Stated that compounding of illegal building was the biggest blunder of the corporation. Mr Manmohan Singh Baserke president of the ‘Amritsar Sarhadi Sahit Sabha’, suggested monitoring cells in the corporation to keep an eye on the working of corporation. The ‘Nasha Mukti Manch’ headed by Mr Dishadeep Singh Varais felt that corruption had taken a toll on the development activity in the cities of Punjab and the taxpayer was being cheated.


Mobile medical help for 30 villages
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 11
The Elders’ Service Society, Faridkot, in a press release here yesterday said that a project had been launched by the society to provide medical facilities in 30 villages and in the first phase 11 villages had been adopted.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Member of Parliament, who flagged off the mobile medical unit praised Mr Jagmohan Singh Brar and others for taking up social service in the area after retirement from service six years ago.

The mobile helpline has been purchased by the society for Rs 1 lakh. He assured the society of help for the service of mankind.

The society felicitated the Member of Parliament with the ‘Sarvan Puttar’ award and Dr PS Sandhu, registrar, Baba Farid University of Health Science, Faridkot was given Dr Pooran Singh award for his contribution in ophthalmology. Bhai Harinder Singh, Hazoori Raagi, Baba Farid Gurdwara was given the Baba Farid Samajik Chetna Award.

The function was held at Government Secondary School, Sadik (Faridkot) and was attended by Mr A Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rajinder Singh, Civil Surgeon and Dr J.S. Dalal, Principal, Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot attended the function. Sant Baba Kahan Singh ji, Seva Panthi Tikana Goniana Mandi, Bathinda blessed the Sangat on the occasion.


Two of family hurt in clash

Lalru, April 11
Two members of a Bartana village (Handesra)-based family sustained injuries in a clash here last night.

Sources in the village said the trouble started after the family members had differences over payment of money demanded by the Punjab State Electricity Board for the release of electricity connection for a tubewell.

Narain Singh, his sons Avtar Singh and Sukhdev Singh, and grandson Harvinder Singh differed over the issue and later exchanged heated arguments. The wives of Avtar Singh and Sukhdev Singh, Harbansh Kaur and Paramjit Kaur, respectively, also indulged in the argument. OC


Hike in user charges opposed

Phillaur, April 11
Former Punjab Local Bodies Minister Balramji Dass Tandon has opposed the move of the state government to enhance user charges on social and economic services.

Talking to this correspondent here today, he said although the state government was facing a financial crisis it had decided to increase the salaries of MLAs and ministers. OC


‘Punjabis are like Italians’

Phagwara, April 11
Punjabis are like Italians extrovert and exuberant, says Ms Laura Leante, an Italian doing research in the UK. She met Inderjit Singh, Principal, local Guru Nanak College, here today to learn about bhangra.

The beat of bhangra has taken over the parts of the West. She is here to see for herself the folk dance in its mileu. She has met Master Harbhajan and Ms Gurmit Bawa and has praise for singer Malkiat Singh of the UK’s Golden Star group. OC


‘Probe role of Mayors’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 11
Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, a BJP leader today alleged that arrest of two Assistant Town Planner and a building inspector was not enough the government should probe the “wheeling dealings” in the construction of high rise buildings, markets, other commercial buildings and involvement of top officials, politicians and personnel of other departments. She stated that no ‘deals’ could take place without the connivance of the politicians and officials. She demanded the role of Mayors, local government ministers at the time of violations of in commercial and other buildings be probed.


Major killed in mine blast

Ferozepore, April 11
An officer of the rank of a Major was killed during the demining of the area near Jalalabad. Major D.K. Singh (43) was assigned the task of demining the fields. In the process the mine, NMB-14, blew off and the officer died on the spot. OC


Fire kills one

Bathinda, April 11
Ashok Kumar (40), a resident of Sirki Bazaar was killed when a fire broke out in his house. The deceased had been handicapped in a accident near the Dabwali railway crossing and was bed-ridden at the time of accident. He had no relatives residing with him and his post-mortem examination was conducted at the local civil hospital. OC


DD Jalandhar revenue up
Our correspondent

Jalandhar, April 11
Doordarshan Kendra Jalandhar has earned a revenue of Rs 8.63 crore during 2002-2003 as compared to Rs 7 crore last year.

Mr Ashok Jelkhani, Director of the Kendra, told reporters here yesterday the revenue collection increased by Rs 1.63 crore during the last financial year.


PRTC to disband Budhlada depot

Budhlada, April 11
The Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC), Patiala, is set to disband its Budhlada depot, which has started showing profits. Sources revealed that the plan was to merge the Budhlada depot with the Barnala depot. It is also understood that the Board of Directors of the PRTC have approved the merger.

Earlier, depots at Patiala and Bathinda were disbanded and merged with other depots as there were two depots each at Patiala and Bathinda. The residents of the area have planned to submit a representation against the disbanding of the depot. OC


Lakhs looted from foreign currency exchange
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 11
In a sensational daylight dacoity, eight armed youths looted foreign and Indian currency amounting to Rs 5 lakh from a private foreign exchange and money transfer establishment near the busy BMC Chowk here this morning.

Before walking away from the crime scene after having staged a 10-minute high-tension drama, the youths brandished their weapons, slapped customers and employees, snatched their mobiles and locked them inside a small room at one corner of main hall of the establishment.

The dacoits, all in the age group of 20 to 22, barged into the first floor office of the UAE Exchange at about 11.30 a.m. and slapped one of customers, Ajay Thakur, before snatching his mobile phone. Later, the dacoits, who were wearing monkey caps and were clean-shaven, forced their entry into the room of the Manager, Mr Alex, manhandled him, and snatched away his mobile so that he could not raise the alarm. The customers and employees were caught unawares and could not offer any resistance. They were huddled into a small room by the dacoits at gunpoint. After this, they took out cash from safes. “All of them were either armed with country-made pistols and revolvers or swords,” said Mr Thakur, adding that after committing the crime the dacoits locked the main door of the establishment and walked away. “Since, another customer, Harpreet Singh, and I were able to free ourselves from captivity for the failure of the dacoits to lock the door of the room properly, we saw two of them climbing on to a silver-coloured Yamaha motor cycle,” said Mr Thakur.

Mr Thakur said he got the shock of his life for the response he got from Mr S.S. Dhindsa, one of the SPs posted in the city, to whom he narrated the whole story immediately after the incident on the official’s mobile. “I was amazed when he asked me to instead contact the PCR vehicle at the BMC Chowk,” said Mr Thakur.

Interestingly, the incident took place when the police was on a high alert for the Ramnavmi procession and due to the presence of a number of dignitaries in the city, including Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, Union Minister of State for Defence.

Mr Harpreet Singh said some people present in the office and nearby establishments tried to chase the youths, but in vain.

According to Mr Alex, the estimated loss was around Rs 5 lakh, but the exact amount of loss was being assessed.


Girl alleges rape in hospital
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 11
A 17-yr-old girl today alleged that she had been raped by some class IV employees of the Government Rajindra Hospital on the hospital premises last night.

The girl who is resident of Majri locality in the city, however, has not got a case registered in the regard. She said her father, who is currently admitted to ward No. 5 in the hospital, did not want her to get a case registered with the police.

Doctors and police officials on duty last night claimed that the girl had been moving around in a suspicious manner in the corridors of the hospital as well as the Emergency Wing. Doctors said they had told the girl last night to go to ward No. 5 where her father was admitted and said the police chowki in the hospital had also been informed about her movements.

In another incident, a case has been registered against Ravi Kumar for raping 16-yr-old girl of Daunkalan village on April 6. Two other persons, Jaswinder alias Johny and Kaushalya Devi have been made co-accused in the case. According to the police, Kaushlya Devi called the girl to her home in the village on some pretext, following which Ravi Kumar raped her.


Undertrial beaten up on court premises
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, April 11
Nahar Singh, an undertrial in the murder case of senior Akali leader Teja Singh Toofan, husband of SGPC member Darshan Kaur Toofan, was allegedly beaten up today in the Bakshi Khana on the district court premises by members of a gang of criminals.

Police sources said Nahar Singh alongwith his accomplices and members of the other criminal gang were brought to the district courts complex here from the local Central Jail in the morning in connection with the hearing of their respective cases. The local police had been informed that a clash might take place. The policemen on duty saved Nahar Singh, who was taken to Civil Hospital.

Civil Hospital sources said Nahar Singh had suffered injuries on head, arms and legs. He was being kept in the emergency ward. The police authorities said the statement of Nahar Singh had been recorded and it was being verified that whether the allegations made by him were true or not.


Travel agent held for duping
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 11
The district police has arrested a travel agent on charges of cheating and forging travel documents. Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said Mr Nirmal Singh and Mr Jaswinder Singh of Balwan village in Sangrur district, had complained that Gagan Kumar Bakshi, who is running a travel agency here, had duped them of Rs 4 lakh on the pretext of sending their relatives to Libya.

However, their relatives were never sent abroad as promised by the travel agent and neither did Gagan Kumar Bakshi return the money. He allegedly threatened them of dire consequences, if the matter was reported to the police.

A case under Sections 406, 420, 465, 467, 468 and 471 was registered and Gagan Kumar Bakshi arrested last night.

The SSP further said 51 cases of cheating people aspiring to go abroad had been registered against Gagan Kumar Bakshi at Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Khanna, Ropar and Panipat in the past.


Nursery owner murdered
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 11
Sheeshpaul (40), owner of a local nursery, was allegedly killed last night with sharp-edged weapons, the police said this morning. Sources said Sheeshpaul, father of two married daughters and two schoolgoing sons, had been running the nursery behind new water works maintained by the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board near the Hanumangarh bypass here. When he did not return home at Ramsara village last night, his family members checked the nursery this morning where they found his body.

The body was given to the family after a post-mortem examination at Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here. The city police had registered a case under Section 302, IPC.

The victim’s brother has complained to the police that he suspects it to be a handiwork of four persons.


Immoral trafficking: 3 more held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 11
The police today arrested some more persons in connection with immoral traffic racket busted yesterday.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said in a press note today that those arrested were Jagsir Singh and Sheela, both of local Baba Deep Singh Nagar, and Lovepreet of Dabrikhana village, who had absconded when a raid was conducted at the residence of Gurmeet Kaur, main accused at Amarpura Basti yesterday.


2 held in fake certificate case

Hoshiarpur, April 11
The Dasuya police has arrested Jagir Singh of Bassi Uchi and Lal Singh, alias Lali of village Dhuma for allegedly preparing and selling fake certificates of the Punjab School Education Board. One of their accomplices, Ravinder Singh, is still at large. The police acted on a complaint of Sunil Kumar of Adarsh Colony, Rajpura, Jagir Singh, Lal Singh and Ravinder Singh. OC


PTU ‘not averse’ to extending affiliations
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, April 11
Punjab Technical University (PTU) is not averse to providing affiliation to technical courses being run by colleges affiliated with other universities in the state. This was stated by Dr Y.S. Rajan, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, here today.

Dr Rajan was talking to mediapersons at the concluding session of the one-day training workshop on ZOPP (objective oriented project planning) for the management heads and principals of different institutions under the PTU at the ITFT Institute of Tourism and Management Trends, Chandigarh.

The VC also stated that the distance education programme of the university would now work on different guidelines and every service provider or study centre would have to go through a proper selection process failing which the study centre could be closed down. He also confirmed that examinations would only be conducted at centres approved by the AICTE or by some other standard agency.

Earlier, while addressing the participants, Dr Rajan said in the fast changing global business and scientific scenario, it was important that engineering students met demands and challenges of the market. Dr Rajan said teaching in colleges too should be responsive to the market demands and be upgraded after every six months to catch up with the latest trends. Adding that the management institutes in a particular region should form clusters for constant interaction, the VC stated that the PTU would also establish an overseas Educational Centre.

Dr Rajan said around 8,000 students joined engineering institutes every year after their matriculation and plus 2. He also informed about the introduction of dual-degree programme in the PTU, which would enable engineering students to acquire IT-related additional qualifications and IT students to add engineering knowledge to their studies.

Dr Rajan said six schools of information technology in Punjab would be affiliated with the PTU and the Chief Minister Punjab had announced a grant of Rs 6 crore for the purpose, adding that the Mahatma Gandhi State Institute of Public Administration would also be connected with the PTU to provide a larger interaction.

Earlier, Dr A. Kalanidhi, Chairman of the Task Force of Engineering and Technology constituted by the VC for the PTU and Adviser to the Union Ministry of Labour and Employment, spoke about the objective for organising the workshop and its various recommendations, which include introduction of foreign languages and starting of regional centers for postgraduate courses, establishing alumni centers, and promotional efforts for the university. The other recommendations included introduction of credit system for DEP courses and introduction of Smart Card for all DEP students. Prof S. Narsimah Rao conducted the workshop.

Meanwhile, Dr Y.S. Rajan yesterday visited Chandigarh Engineering College, Landran, near here. The VC, while going around the college campus along with the chairman, Mr Satnam Singh Sandhu, general secretary, Mr Rashpal Singh Dhaliwal, and Principal Col S.P. Sharma (retd), met the staff and students.


‘Inculcate values in school kids’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 11
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today said there a need for reforms in the education system so that students were shaped into good human beings and not merely literates.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh said that to cope with the changing times, there was a need that values be injected into students. The schools should not only disseminate information but also inculcate values in students so that they become good human beings.

Speaking at a function of the local Khalsa Senior Secondary School, he added that the teachers should set an example for the students and help them building a better society.

Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, while speaking at the function said as the standard of education in government schools was not up to the mark people preferred private schools. However, he said, that most of the private schools were merely “shops selling” education.

Students of the school performed various items like Shabad kirtan, Punjabi songs, gidha and bhangra. Mr Bir Devinder Singh announced Rs 31,000 for the students who had performed at the function. The meritorious students were given prizes.

Old students of the school were also honoured on the occasion.


PCCTU defers exam boycott
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 11
A meeting of the office-bearers of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) today deferred its one-day token boycott of the ongoing examinations of the universities, mass casual leave strike and the protest rally in Chandigarh for April 16 after Punjab Higher Education Minister Harnam Das Johar told representatives of the PCCTU, federations of managements and principals that Capt Amarinder Singh had decided to withdraw the 10 per cent cut in the grants for the non-government colleges.

This was stated in a press note by Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary, PCCTU here.

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