Monday, April 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Minister-scamster nexus: Badal’s poser to CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to come clean on the alleged links between his ministers and those involved in multi crore-fraud scams.

“This, of course, is in addition to the flurry of sleaze scandals, including ministers. It is about time the Chief Minister cleared his and his government’s position on such murky goings-on, especially as his own financial and ethical antecedents are not exactly impeccable,” he alleged.

Reacting to the latest scandal to hit the Congress government, Mr Badal in a press note has sought the Chief Minister’s word on the alleged relationship between one of his ministers and close political aide, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, and Mr Charanjit Singh Channi of Jalandhar, who had been booked by the Vigilance Bureau for defrauding the state of crores of revenue through questionable deeds.

Mr Channi is the prime witness for Mr Bajwa in the latter’s defamation suit against the Gujrat Chief Minister, Mr Narinder Modi. In his statement in the court, Mr Channi had claimed a 17-year-long close association with the minister.

The alleged “Channi scandal”, Mr Badal said, was only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. It had the potential to unravel a series of corruption scams that this government had been involved in. The Akali leader apprehended that the alleged “Channi affair” would be given a burial as, otherwise, this could virtually open a pandora’s box on the involvement of Congress leaders with anti-social elements.

Mr Badal also referred to the case in which the Malerkotla Congress MLA, Ms Razia Sultana, reportedly intervened to get a bribe of Rs 6 lakh re-imbursed. “This is truly amazing. A case of such prima facie nature, in which all the corrupt elements had been named by the MLA, was handled in the manner of royal dispensations of summary justice. All those involved are Congressmen. Why no one, including MLA’s personal assistant, had been booked under the Anti-Corruption Act?” he asked.

What was the Vigilance Bureau doing about the police officials, who had been allowed to go off lightly with mere transfer orders, he added.


Police fails to arrest Channi
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 20
The Vigilance Bureau has failed to nab builder Charanjit Singh Channi and his relative Mohinder Singh, even after three days of the registration of a case. Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s office is said to have instructed the bureau to speed up action on the matter.

The bureau today raided the hide-outs of the then Senior Town Planner A.S. Tuli at Jalandhar and Amritsar, but without results. No senior bureau official was reportedly in the city since the case was registered and an officer of the rank of DSP was handling the matter.

Mr Rajwant Kumar, DSP Vigilance Bureau, who was handling the initial investigation into the case, was shifted to Kapurthala early this month.

Meanwhile, Raj Kumar, the then municipal Town Planner, arrested yesterday, has revealed that he was pressurised by Tuli to clear the file pertaining to Channi’s C.T. Public School in back date.

Mr Pushkar Sandal, DSP, Vigilance Bureau, said several civic body officials were likely to be in the dock for their roles in the racket. He said the records pertaining to the school and other buildings were being sought from the civic body. “We are likely to get records tomorrow,” said Mr Sandal, who said the investigation into the scam, would lead to more arrests.

The bureau sources said the records showing the duration of postings of officials, including building inspectors from 1996 onwards have also been sought from the civic body, which allegedly, demolished on pick and choose basis buildings, particularly, the ones built unauthorisedly and violating the Punjab Municipal Act.

The bureau sources maintained that the records from the Irrigation Department could also be summoned for scrutiny.


Kashyap may be next CS
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Chief Secretary to the Punjab government, Mr Y. S. Ratra, is unlikely to get another extension in his term which expires at the end of this month.

This has been made clear by the Centre to the state government although the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has been pressing for the same for quite some time. Mr Ratra retired from the government service on January 31, 2003, but was given a three-month extension on the recommendation of the state government. The Chief Minister later recommended another three-month extension for Mr Ratra.

But according to information available here today, it has been conveyed to the state government that ever since the implementation of the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission for raising the retirement age of IAS officers to 60 years, two extensions have not been granted to any officer. Since Mr Ratra has already been granted one extension, he is unlikely to get another one. Mr Ratra is likely to be appointed Chairman of the Punjab State Electricity Board.

Informed sources here say that a search has already begun for his successor and in all probability, Mr Rajan Kashyap who is the senior-most IAS officer not only in Punjab but the entire country, will be appointed to the top post in the state administration. An officer of 1965 batch of the IAS, he has an impeccable record of service. There are several other officers also in the reckoning. They include Mr Jai Singh Gill, Mr Rajesh Chhabra, Mr S. K Tuteja, Mr S. S. Dawra and Mr N. S. Rattan, to name only a few.

The only factor which could go against Mr Kashyap’s elevation to the top post is the fact that he is due to retire in about three months. But there are indications that the Chief Minister’s office could use it to pick a Chief Secretary of its choice later in the year. A three-month extension to Mr Kashyap would ensure that he stays in office till the end of October. During this period, several senior IAS officers would retire. They include Mr Bhagat Singh (June 30, 2003), Ms Daljit Jaijee (June 30, 2003), Ms Ravneet Kaur (August 31, 2003), Mr N. S. Rattan (September 30, 2003), Ms Jyotsna Khanna (September 30, 2003) and Mr S. S. Dawra (October 31, 2003),

The CMO is known to be in favour of Mr P.K. Verma, an IAS officer of 1970 batch, for the top post. But his immediate elevation at this stage is problematic as it would mean suppression of more than a dozen IAS officers who are at present senior to him. If Mr Kashyap is appointed and stays on in office till the end of October, seven senior officers would have retired by then. This would pave the way for easy elevation of Mr Verma without causing too much heartburning in the IAS cadre.


Kidney scam gets murkier
DIG threatens to sue SP
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 20
A new dimension was added to the multi-crore kidney scam as the DIG, Police Academy, Phillaur (the then SSP, Amritsar), today accused Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City) and senior member of the special investigation team (SIT) for allegedly working with a “prejudiced mind and personal vendetta”.

In a letter to the DGP, Mr Parmpal Singh Sidhu, the DIG said he was contemplating to take legal action against the SP. “I have had sleepless nights due to mental stress and strain ever since my name was dragged into the kidney scam.

The SP (City) is prejudiced against me for various reasons which I have already brought to your notice verbally on many occasions. He (SP) also bears grudge against me for sending an adverse report against him in an inquiry report submitted to the IG (Litigation) in 2000.”

Mr Sidhu alleged that Mr Vijay Partap Singh had not verified the facts from him and leaking the report was against protocol and norms. “Enough documentary evidence is available in support of my submissions which prove the fact that I never showed any favour to anybody and never tried to shield the culprits,” he said.

Seeking personal intervention into the matter, Mr Sidhu urged the DGP to issue directions that restraint should be observed in disclosing information and only facts should be disclosed. He said it was all the more necessary to maintain the atmosphere of mutual cooperation and harmony in the rank and file of the police administration. “I on my part can say that I was never associated with the accused doctors or persons involved in the kidney scam and still slanderous remarks have been made about me, generating suspicion in the minds of people that I was instrumental in showing favour to them whereas there have been police officers posted in Amritsar who sought favours from Dr P.K. Sareen as their relatives and friends underwent kidney transplantations and remained associated with doctors and middlemen,” he wrote.

Giving details of the cases taken up by the SIT against him, Mr Sidhu said in his capacity as the SSP, Amritsar, he had never received any complaint from Shambu Nath about forcefully alluring his son who was reportedly missing after a kidney transplantation. “In fact I received the orders from the Punjab and Haryana High Court on May 3, 2001, which directed him to personally look into the complaint and take necessary action thereon in accordance with law. The court had directed that the inquiry should be completed within a month after the receipt of the order. On receiving the orders, the inquiry was marked to Mr Chaman Lal, DSP, who had pleaded that the complaint pertained to a different circle and not to his circle jurisdiction. Thereafter, the inquiry was marked to Mr Sanehdeep Sharma, another DSP. Mr Sharma in his report concluded that nobody was picked up from the Chowk Fowara area and no such incident, as alleged in the complaint, had occurred. Thus the complaint of Ajay Kumar, son of Shambu Kumar, was found to be baseless and unsubstantiated. I forwarded the inquiry report to the high court and till date no back reference of the inquiry report was made by the high court which shows the same was accepted,” he said.

Mr Sidhu said the procedure was followed with regard to the complaint of Gurdial Singh and legal action was initiated, adding that “I had on my part ensured that the matter is looked into thoroughly and law takes its course.”

When contacted, Mr S. K. Sharma, IG, who headed the SIT, was ignorant of Mr Sidhu’s name figuring in the final report submitted to the state government by the ADGP, Mr A. A. Sidique. He, however, claimed that as far he knew, Mr Sidhu did not find mention in the report. He added that the ADGP had sought a supplementary report directly from Mr Vijay Partap Singh the role of police officials and the cases which did not reach their logical conclusion. He said he did not know about this report though it had already been submitted to the Home Secretary and the DGP for further action.


Sikh religious leaders in USA
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
In an unprecedented event, the Jathedars of four of the five Takhts, head priest of Gurdwara Sis Ganj, president and secretary of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), president of the Patna Sahib Management Committee and other eminent religious leaders will address the overseas Sikh community at Gurdwara Gurjot Parkash in Chicago, USA, from today in connection with the eight-day-long 400th anniversary celebrations of Sri Guru Granth Sahib.

The 400th anniversary of Sri Guru Granth Sahib — Parkash Utsav — falls next year. Never before has such a galaxy of Sikh religious leadership been together in a country other than India.

This mega event is being organised under the patronage of Sant Daljit Singh, the founder and chief of the Guru Nanak Sikh Mission of America. During their sojourn in the USA, the five Jathedars — Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti (Akal Takht), Giani Iqbal Singh (Patna Sahib), Giani Tarlochan Singh (Kesgarh Sahib), Giani Balwant Singh (Damdama Sahib) and a nominee of Giani Kulwant Singh (Hazoor Sahib) — and the head priest of Gurdwara Sri Sis Ganj Sahib (New Delhi), Giani Ranjit Singh, will also meet the Governor of Illinois state and the Mayor of Chicago to apprise them of the problems of the Sikh diaspora.

The others joining the celebrations include Mr Paramjit Singh Sarna and Mr Bhajan Singh Walia (DSGMC), Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta ( former MLA), Giani Jaswant Singh Parwana, Bhai Harjinder Singh (Srinagar), Bhai Manjit Singh (Pathankot), Bhai Sarabjit Singh Rangila (Durg), Sant Pritam Singh (Mithe Tiwane), Bhai Sarabjit Singh (Sri Darbar Sahib), Bhai Amrik Singh (Gurdaspur), Bhai Bhupinder Singh Paras and Mr Didar Singh Bains (Yuba City).

“Never before have the Jathedars of more than two Takhts been together at any religious gathering outside India,” Sant Daljit Singh told ‘The Tribune’ over telephone. “We are trying to impress upon the Illinois Administration to declare a public holiday either on ‘Baisakhi’ or on the occasion of birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.”

“The Sikh community is also facing some problems with regard to its physical identity as an average American tends to confuse a Sikh with an Arab. The presence of our religious leadership will help us explain our position to the people in general and the administrator in particular,” he added.

The Sikh religious leaders will also meet religious leaders of other communities for world peace.

Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar will visit the USA later this year, he said.

The presence of the top Sikh religious leadership in the USA immediately after the formal launch of the Nanakshahi calendar on Baisakhi last week is being viewed with tremendous significance as “jathas” of overseas Sikhs have started returning to the USA and Canada after participating in the Baisakhi celebrations in Pakistan.

Sant Daljit Singh said top raagi jathas, including those who perform kirtan at Sri Darbar Sahib, will participate in special congregations to be held everyday from today for the next eight days.

The Sikhs in North America and Europe have taken out colourful processions either today or last Sunday to mark “Baisakhi”. Huge nagar kirtan processions have been taken out in Toronto (Canada), Vancouver (Canada) and New York (USA), besides Southall and Birmingham (UK) and Paris (France).


Rs 8000-cr missing foodgrain scam
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
In Punjab, wheat and paddy stock worth Rs 8,000 crore is reported “missing”. This is evident from the glaring “mis-match” between the cash credit limit (CCL) given by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) for procurement of foodgrains and the value of the present stock held by the procurement agencies, as determined on physical verification. A “quality” audit will show the extent of damage that has been caused to the present stock.

Informed sources say that the RBI gave a CCL of Rs 15,226.49 crore (1999-2000—2002-03) against which the present stock with the Department of Food and Supplies and government procurement agencies is only worth Rs 7,121.53 crore. This leaves a gaping gap of Rs 8,104.96 crore. The gap, in respect of the Department of Food and Supplies alone, is Rs 4,539.62 crore. The remaining (Rs 3,565.34 crore) is in respect of Markfed (Rs 740.04 crore), Punsup (Rs 993.21 crore), Punjab Warehouse Corporation (Rs 1,200 crore), Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation (Rs 632.06 crore).

The “iregularities” in the food account have varied in degree over the past years. For varying reasons and despite the cash credit hypothecation agreement governing valuation of stocks for availing of CCL, the state was never able to square up the accounts with the RBI or State Bank of India (SBI).

In fact, in the White Paper on state finances that the Congress issued in March 2002, it was stated that the previous Akali-BJP government had “misutilised” Rs 2,400 crore food account money for other purposes belonging to the Department of Food and Supplies. The money of the procurement agencies was not reflected, as the same was not routed through the Treasuries.

But look what the Congress government has itself done now. It has also “misutilised” Rs 2,140 crore food account of the Department of Food and Supplies for other purposes. The Department of Food and Supplies figures now show a gap of Rs 4,539.62 crore. The government, with effect from April 1, has decided to take food account out of the Consolidated Fund to ensure that there was no “diversion or irregularity or misutilisation”. The question is what about the gap of Rs 3,565.34 crore of the procurement agencies? Where was this money diverted and used? Was it for the “comfort” of the ministers and bureaucrats concerned, who headed these agencies? Why has no accountability been fixed on politicians or bureaucrats, who were responsible for food procurement between 1999-2000 and 2002-03?

The government was quick to seek a special audit from the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India of the money “diverted” to the “Sangat Darshan” programme of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in 2000-02. Even the Vigilance Bureau was asked to investigate. That special audit of just six districts had revealed that Rs 162 crore was diverted for “unauthorised and unintended purposes” from various sources for the “Sangat Darshan” programme. But in this case, more than Rs 8,000 crore worth of foodgrains are reported “missing”, yet, neither a special audit has been ordered nor the Vigilance Bureau asked to investigate the bungling by the procurement agencies.

There has also been a “mis-match” between procurement of wheat and its movement to the Food Corporation of India (FCI), which had adversely affected the flow of funds, resulting in a deficit between CCL availed and amount repaid into food account. The present outstanding amount with the RBI, around Rs 5,000 crore, carries 11.3 per cent per annum as the rate of interest.

Now Punjab is ready to raise money from the capital market by floating government guarantee bonds worth Rs 5,000 crore at a lower rate of interest. The redemption of these bonds is to be structured over a period of 5 years to 7 years and determined in consultation with merchant banks. Punjab has already been rated by reputed agencies and has market credibility.

Punjab is now out to put the blame for the present financial mess on the FCI, which was not bothered about repayments, while, state procurement agencies were burdened with high rate of interest required to be paid for stocks that have remained unlifted for years and to which have accrued post-procurement costs. The state and its agencies have paid Rs 1,187.81 crore, as interest to the SBI in respect of stocks held by agencies.

Thus, the high quantity of procurement over the years and abysmally slow movement have compounded the situation. But this does not absolve the agencies of accounting for the missing stocks worth Rs 3,565.34 crore.

It is estimated that state and its agencies are bearing a burden of Rs 1,248.95 crore, as on March 31, 2003, on account of procurement of foodgrains on behalf of the Centre. Unless a solution is quickly found to food related problems, Punjab will get buried under the foodgrains. Punjab desires that the FCI pay up interest on stocks to agencies on a quarterly basis, must clear the backlog of payments of stocks already lifted, must disburse incidental charges and the Centre should draw up a time frame for settling outstanding dues between the state and FCI.


58 Punjab farmers ‘committed suicide’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
The Bharatiya Kisan Morcha national President Mahadev Rao Shivankar claimed today that at least 58 farmers had allegedly committed suicide in Mansa, Muktsar, Sangrur and Bathinda districts of Punjab during the past four to five months.

"Fiftyeight farmers have committed suicide in these districts after the authorities applied coercive methods to recover loans from indebted farmers," Mr Shivankar told The Tribune here after the conclusion of a two-day brainstorming session of office-bearers of the Morcha from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal, Jammu and Kashmir and Chandigarh.

Mr Shivankar, however, avoided making comments on whether he had information that farmers had allegedly committed suicide during the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)-BJP coalition rule also.

The allegation could not be independently confirmed as efforts to get comments of the government did not fructify.

A Morcha's delegation will visit 60 grain and vegetable markets of Haryana between April 22 and 30 to follow it up with three seminars in June and July. The visit will provide the delegation first-hand information about the problems of farmers in Haryana being ruled by an alliance partner of the BJP.

Mr Shivankar alleged sugarcane farmers had not been paid their dues. He also said cotton production in Haryana was going down and south Haryana had gone without water.

The Morcha decided to give an ultimatum to the Congress-ruled Himachal Government at the district level asking the government to honour its promises of giving jobs and concessions to farmers. Mr Shivankar said as the Himachal government was new, the Morcha would give the government three months' time before any direct agitation was launched.

Mr Shivanka, who was Finance and Planning Minister in Maharashtra, accused the Congress of failing to usher in diversification during the past 45 years, pushing farmers to a condition in which they had been forced to sell their produce in distress.


Lightning kills six of family
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, April 20
Lightning struck the jhuggi of Jai Ram Yadav, originally in Bakhuna village in Madhuvan district of (Bihar), on Saturday night and killed his wife Anita (35) and children Surajmani (10), Gunja (9), Pooja (7), Munna (5) and Budhehar (4 months). His daughter Rajo (2) who was sleeping in the adjoining portion of the jhuggi was saved from to fire following the lightning. On Sunday, the police was informed of the incident. Mr Surinder Mohan Sharma, SDM, Mr Pritpal Singh, Tehsildar, Mr Gurdev Singh SP (HQ), Mr HPS Bains, SP(D), Mr Surinder Mohan, SHO (City) reached the site and the bodies were brought to the civil hospital. The police has registered under Section 174 IPC. The bodies were handed over to Jai Ram Yadav after a post-mortem examine the SDM, handed over, a Rs 10000 as interim relief to Jai Ram Yadav for cremation.


‘DSGMC got red carpet welcome in Pak’
Tribune Reporters

Wagah, April 20
Members of the SGPC Sikh jatha that returned from Pakistan after celebrating Baisakhi at gurdwara Panja Sahib, Hassan Abdal through Wagah joint check post today alleged that the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) was accorded ‘red carpet’ welcome by Pakistan authorities immediately after their arrival in Pakistan.

Talking to the press at Wagah joint check post, Mr Bakshish Singh Dharowali, leader of the SGPC jatha said that President of Pakistan General Parvez Musharraf had given the DSGMC special audience. However, Mr Harwinder Singh Sarna, leader of the DSGMC jatha, refuted the charges and said that they had to pay for their lodging, travel and food from their own pockets. He said it was SGPC jatha which was allowed to visit gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib on the request while it was denied to the DSGMC.

While admitting that condition of major gurdwaras in Pakistan had improved, Mr Dharowali, alleged that most of other gurdwaras are still in dilapidated condition. He said representatives of the SGPC had categorically denied recognition to the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee during the meetings held there. However, representatives of the SGPC received ‘siropa’ (rob of honour) from the head granthi of gurdwara Panja Sahib. He alleged that ‘Maryada’ (Sikh code of conduct) was not being followed and Pakistani Sikhs should come forward to implement the same. Answering a query Mr Dharowali denied any conspiracy in the formation of the PSGPC to lower the prestige of the SGPC. He claimed that he had refused to accept ‘siropa’ from Mr Sham Singh, co-chairman of the PSGPC as he was not aware about his credentials.

On the Nanakshahi calendar, Mr Dharowali said the PSGPC did not endorse it at any occasion although the radial Sikhs from abroad had welcomed it.

Mr Dharowali said that it was a matter of satisfaction that the PSGPC had accepted the supremacy of Akal Takht and agreed to implement its maryada.


Relax visa rules, Gujral to India, Pak

Jalandhar, April 20
Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral today said that strict visa rules, suspension of rail and road traffic and snapping of cricket ties between India and Pakistan would not help in improving the strained relations between the two countries.

“The governments at both sides should open these links at the earliest so that people can understand each other’s sentiments better,” Mr Gujral told reporters here.

Stressing that Indo-Pak cricketing ties should be resumed, he said it would help bring people of the two nations closer.

Expressing surprise over the statements of External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha and Defence Minister George Fernandes in which they had reportedly urged United States that Pakistan was a fit case for American aggression, Mr Gujral said that both the ministers should avoid giving such kind of “irresponsible statements”.

He also expressed concern over the rising drug abuse among the youth in Punjab and said immediate steps should be taken to control the situation.

In a chat with mediapersons, he said the use of harmful drugs was ruining the future generation of this border state. He urged the state government to take stringent measures to control this menace.

Mr Gujral suggested strict action against the smugglers of harmful drugs. He also called for the involvement of the people in controlling drug abuse, but first the government must show a will to tackle this problem.

One suggestion that the former Prime Minister gave was encouraging sports activities in both the rural and urban areas of the state.

Later, former Prime Minister’s son Naresh Kumar, who was also accompanying him, said he would soon take steps in this town to check drug abuse with the involvement of non-governmental organisations. PTI, UNI


Domoria bridge project delay irks Gujral
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 20
Former Prime Minister I.K. Gujral today held ongoing dispute between local Municipal Corporation and the Railway Ministry over price of land to be transferred to build link road to the proposed bridge, responsible for delay in the start of Domoria bridge, linking two parts of the city.

“Although the Rs 22.5 crore Domoria Bridge project had been passed way back during my tenure as Prime Minister and even the Union Surface Transport ministry was made nodal agency for the project and full amount was also sanctioned for the same, but it is unfortunate that the project is still hanging fire” Mr Gujral told reporters here today.

“I have talked to the Railways Chairman on the subject, who assured me to sort out the problems at the earliest” he revealed adding that earlier there was problem for initiating the project because both the state government and corporation were interested to construct the bridge and finally corporation was allotted the job.

Even the tender was awarded to the Uttar Pradesh Bridge Construction Corporation way back and the time period for the construction was also going to be lapsed, but the project could not initiated due to row between corporation and railway authorities, Mr Gujral said adding that he would take up the matter with the authorities concerned so that project could be started at the earliest.

Regarding the project of Science City, Mr Gujral, who is also former Member of Parliament from here, expressed satisfaction over the progress in the project. “I am in touch with some of the other countries to procure latest model and equipment for the installation in Science city” he revealed.

The Director of the Science City would go abroad to look into the new ideas for the project, he said adding that very soon the project would be fully operational.


Head of Ahmadiya community dead
Tribune News Service

Qadian, April 20
The head of the Ahmadiya Muslim community, Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad (75), Khalifatul Masih IV, passed away in London yesterday. He was elected as the fourth successor on June 10, 1982 but due to the religious persecution in Pakistan he migrated to London in April 1984.

According to a press release from Ahmadiya headquarters, here today, he is survived by four children. Hadhrat Mirza was born on December 18, 1928 in Qadian. He was the son of Hadhrat Mirza Bashir-ud-din Mahmud Ahmad, the promised reformer and the second successor to Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad, the founder of the Ahmadiya Muslim community.

Hadhrat Mirza Tahir served the community in various capacities, including president of the Central Auxiliary Association for youth as well as president of the Auxiliary Association for Elders of the community. He was also an international secretary in the central executive board. Amongst his achievements was the creation of an International Satellite Television station called Muslim Television Ahmadiya, International (MTA). Under his guidance, the Holy Quran was translated into many languages. He himself translated the holy book into Urdu. Among his scholarly works are Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge and Truth.

Hadhrat Mirza’s activities proliferated with the rapid spread of the community in 174 countries of the world. The community went through a dynamic period of growth increasing its membership from 10 million to more than 200 million.


NGO committed to protect environment
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 20
Volunteers of Sankalp, an NGO, have taken up tree plantation drive in the periphery of Govindgarh fort and 100 saplings had already been planted.

Mr Devinder Bansal, spokesman for the NGO, said signboards, mottoes and banners with messages on environmental awareness had been installed at various places in the city. He added the volunteers were already taking care of 500 saplings and trees around the fort and at various other places of the city.

He added that the volunteers had also beautified almost all medians of main roads of the city by planting flowering plants there. He said that they had their own arrangements for watering of these plants and they had purchased a special vehicle for the same.


Give Jacob extension, says SAD (A)
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 20
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has sought an extension for Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (retd) Punjab Governor. Mr Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singhwala, general secretary, SAD (A), said today that the term of General Jacob should be extended. He also asked the Prime Minister to appoint a secular Governor in J&K after the term of the present incumbent there was over. He hailed Mr Vajpayee’s initiative on Kashmir and his offer for a dialogue with Pakistan.

Mr Kahan Singhwala also asked the Indian government to grant visa to Mr Sham Singh, co-chairman, Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee, as the latter had expressed desire to meet Akal Takht Jathedar in connection with the functioning of Pakistan gurdwaras.

He welcomed the recognition given by the PSGPC to the Nanakshahi Calendar introduced by the SGPC and added that the latter should reciprocate by recognising the PSGPC.

He accused the SGPC of indulging in anti-Panthic activities, allegedly at the behest of the RSS, by allowing kar seva of the historical and religious places by those who lack knowledge of the Sikh heritage.


Gujjars should get ST status: Mohsina
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 20
A large number of Gujjars participated in a rally held at Gobindsar village, 35 km from here, today. Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, General Secretary, AICC, and in charge, Punjab Congress, was the chief guest. Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, president, presided.

Prominent leaders who attended the rally included Mrs Vidya Stokes, president, Himachal Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Satpal Mahajan, Himachal Pradesh Cabinet Minister, Mr Raghunath Sahaipuri, Urban Development Minister, Punjab, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, senior Congress leader, and Mrs Razia Sultana, Gujjar MLA from Malerkotla.

Mrs Kidwai said the Punjab Government should include Gujjars into the Scheduled Tribe category.

Criticising the BJP-led Central government Mrs Kidwai said minorities under the BJP rule were insecure.

She said whenever the next Cabinet expansion took place in Punjab she would recommend to the Punjab Chief Minister the induction of Mrs Razia Sultana as a minister to give representation to Gujjars.

Mr Hanspal said the Congress had to be voted to power at the Centre for getting ST status for Gujjars.


Mystery shrouds youth’s death
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 20
Mr Gurcharan Singh found his young son dead when he reached ‘haveli’ of Narinder Singh in Bambeli village under Mahilpur police station on Friday last night. It is reported that Surjit Singh and Narinder Singh son of Mangal Singh both of Bambeli village were fast friends. Both went to the Dera of a Sant in Halowa village on Friday and came back to the village at night. Narinder Singh telephoned Gurcharan Singh father of Surjit Singh at 10.30 p.m. for coming to his haveli as his son had quarrelled with some boys. When Gurcharan Singh reached haveli he found his son lying dead on a cot.

According to police sources Narinder Singh had illicit relations with the sister-in-law of deceased Surjit Singh. Mahilpur police has registered a case in this connection and is looking for Narinder Singh.


‘Add’ special clause to check foeticide
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 20
Members of different sections of society have said the Union Government should add a special clause to Section 302, IPC, to book violators of the PNDT ACT. They said harsh steps were needed to check, female foeticide.

Prof Udey Partap Singh, Chairman of the Population Control Committee, Punjab, and Mr Mohan Sharma, general secretary of the Punjab Sabhiyacharak Kendra, Sangrur, said the violators, including doctors, should be booked under the special clause.

Some doctors stated that degrees of doctors found involved in female foeticide should be suspended or cancelled by the Medical Council of India.

Dr B.L. Jindal, retired Civil Surgeon, said the punishment for female foeticide should not be less than murder.


Arhtiya writes to rights panel
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 20
Mr Kulwant Singh, an arhtiya of Budhlada in the district, today wrote to the Punjab State Human Rights Commission to issue directions to the Mansa SSP to put the challan of a case (FIR No. 107) registered on September 29, 2001, in the Budhlada police station against some arhtiyas of Budhlada.

He has stated in his representation that the Mansa SSP, vide his letter of September 1, 2002, addressed to the Inspector-General of Police (Litigation), Punjab, stated that the challan of the case had been prepared on March 12, 2002, but the challan had not so far been put in the court.

Mr Kulwant Singh has said that Mr Hartej Singh Sekhon, Superintendent of Police (Headquarters), had filed the above case as untraced. Mr Kulwant Singh has told the notice of the commission that the suspects in the case have prevailed upon Mr Sekhon, who is a local man belonging to Bappiana village near Mansa, to send the case as untraced.


Plea to President on court holidays
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 20
Mr Yogesh Gupta, member of the District Bar Association, has urged the President of India, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to reschedule the holidays of all subordinate courts of Punjab and Haryana on the pattern of that of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

In a letter to the President, he has stated that holidays in government offices are the same but the holidays in subordinate courts and in the Punjab and Haryana High Court are not on the same pattern. This had caused confusion among litigants, he said.


Mobile library launched
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 20
The Bathinda Vikas Manch has launched a mobile library that supplies books on the doorstep and collects them after a specified time.

Mr Rakesh Narula, president of the manch, in a press note here today said they had collected about 2,000 books.

The agriculture development branch of the State Bank of India had also donated about 150 books to the library, he said.


Political package for J & K sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 20
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP from Sangrur and president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today demanded a political package for Jammu and Kashmir (J&K). He said under this package the Prime Minister should grant political status to J&K.

Mr Mann also demanded the release of political prisoners in J&K.


Wheat on 5 acres burnt
Farmer blames it on PSEB
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 20
The hopes of Nazam Singh, a farmer of Joganand village, of earning a profit were dashed to the ground last evening when five acres of standing wheat crop was burnt in a fire that allegedly broke out due to sparking in a faulty transformer.

Nazam Singh, who had taken 15 acres on contract, alleged that the fire broke out due to the transformer, which was in need of repairs. He alleged that although the PSEB authorities were informed, yet none of them visited the site.

Nazam Singh has lodged a complaint with the police against the PSEB authorities. The police has entered the complaint in the DDR and has informed the district administration.

Gurmail Singh, son of Nazam Singh, said villagers did not allow the PSEB authorities to repair the transformer today. He said resentment prevailed among the villagers due to the alleged inaction of the PSEB authorities.

Gurmail Singh said while the patwari, the Tehsildar and the police reached the spot immediately, the PSEB authorities did not show up. He said the power grid in the village was informed immediately after the fire broke out.

The fire could have engulfed other fields also had it not been for the timely action by residents of Gobindpura, Bibiwala and Joganand and members of the Dashmesh Sports Club of Joganand. Two fire engines from the city were pressed into service.

Gurmail Singh said they would not be able to pay the contract money, leave aside earning a profit. He said they would meet senior officials to seek action against PSEB officials.

An employee at the power grid at Joganand village said it was not their duty to go to the site of any such fire incident. He said it was not possible for them to leave the grid.

Mr Raj Singh, Junior Engineer, could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.


Reassuring banners greet farmers
Our Correspondent

Bhokhra (Bathinda), April 20
A large banner urging farmers not to pay bribe to arhtiyas (commission agents) for selling their wheat greets the visitors to this procurement centre set up by the Punjab State Civil Supplies Corporation (PUNSUP) and the faces of the farmers selling their wheat here tell much about the transparency that has been induced in the system by some dedicated employees.

The banner, written in Punjabi, states that if any arhtiya deducts the money from the payments of the farmers in the name of procurement officials, the matter should be brought to the notice of the Deputy Commissioner.

Slates depicting the names of farmers and the approximate quantity of wheat have also been used to increase transparency.

The centre in charge, Mr Radhe Sham, PUNSUP inspector said he had initiated these efforts to boost the confidence of the farmers. He said about 14,000 bags of wheat had been procured and about 50 per cent of it had been lifted.

He said the quality of grains being brought by the farmers was good and the moisture contact was within permissible limits. He said the arhtiyas were also happy over the smooth procurement and timely payments. He said arrangements for the cleaning and packaging of wheat had been completed.

Sources said earlier some arhtiyas used to deduct money between Re 1 and Rs 5 per bag from the farmers.

A farmer who had come to this centre said the pucca area of the centre should be increased. Mr Gobind Ram, president of the Arhtiya Association, Goniana, said the smooth supply of “bardaana” (gunny bags) should be ensured by the authorities.

Mr Amritpal Singh Sidhu, president of the Punjab Young Farmers Federation, said at some centres the mandatory “J” form was not being filled by the arhtiyas. He said this was being done to evade tax.


Potato glut threat to economy: Mann
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 20
Terming the potato glut in Punjab mandis as a major threat to the economy of the state, president of the SAD (Amritsar) and MP Simranjit Singh Mann has decided to raise the issue with Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee at Delhi soon.

Mr Mann, who held a meeting with potato growers of the state here today, said that keeping in view the problems being faced by the state farmers, it was decided to submit a memorandum to the Prime Minister to redress the issue. He said that all the Members of Parliament belonging to Punjab would sign the memorandum.

He alleged that no serious efforts were made by the state and the central governments to avoid potato glut even as he had raised the issue pertaining to ruining of perishable crop in the Lok Sabha on April 9.

Advocating the need to explore potato export potential in SAARC countries, the MP said that the government should formulate a comprehensive export policy in this regard and the farmers should be allowed to export potato in Afghanistan, Bangla Desh and Sri Lanka as potato is in great demand in these countries. He alleged that Punjab farmers were being victimised at the hands of Indian Council of Agricultural Research while distribution of quality potato seeds. He said that the private traders of Karnataka and West Bengal were not releasing payments, running into crores of rupees, to the Punjab potato growers for sale of their crop. The central government should take up the matter with the states concerned to get the dues released.


BKU (E) fast begins today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 20
To protest against the failure of the Punjab Government to honour its commitments made last month, the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) has decided to go on fast from tomorrow.

Seven office-bearers of the organisation — Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, Mr Ruldu Singh Mansa, Mr Surjit Singh Phul, Mr Bogh Singh Mansa, Mr Mani Singh Chak Khurd, Mr Pritam Singh Golewala, and Mr Hardev Singh — will start the fast here tomorrow. They want free of cost supply of water and power, pressure on the Union Government for an increase in the MSP of wheat, formalisation of a scheme for waiving loans, revoking of Sections 63C and 63-A of the Cooperative Act, freeing cooperative societies from Markfed, withdrawal of tax on fertilisers, pesticides and insecticides and payment of bonus on the previous paddy crop.

Talking to newsmen here this afternoon, Sidhupur, president of the BKU (Ekta), said when farmers staged dharna at Matka Chowk here from March 10 to 18, the government promised to organise a meeting between the representatives of the farmers and the Chief Minister within a week.

“But even after more than a month, no such meeting has been organised. We met Mr Lal Singh, who had persuaded us to call off our dharna on March 18, and he has now promised us a meeting with the Chief Minister on April 23. But so far, we have no intimation about this meeting,” he added.

Mr Pishaura Singh said though the government promised to pay Rs 10 per quintal as bonus for the previous paddy crop, the payment had not started. Reports were that farmers would be paid only Rs 5 per quintal for the time being.

The farmers are also opposed to the hike in fee for grant of tubewell connection at the rate of Rs 5,200 per horse power.

The failure of the government to keep its commitment, he said, had forced the BKU (Ekta) to resort to agitation at a time when the farmers were busy harvesting and marketing their wheat crop.

He said the CPI (ML) Liberation members Jita Kaur and Mr Kirpal Singh would also join their strike.


MLA inaugurates wheat purchase
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 19
Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, ADC, inaugurated purchase of wheat and Mr Jaskiran Singh, SDM, at a function organised by the Commission Agents Association at the Grain Market here. The water cooler donated by the association was also inaugurated.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Jakhar said the SAD and BJP leaders had been expressing doubts and fears about the capability of the state government headed by Capt Amarinder Singh in ensuring prompt purchase of wheat and paddy and payment thereof. But working of the purchasing agencies had belied all fears. The government was committed to ensure corruption-free purchase and quick payment thereafter. He advised the commission agents to not force the farmers to buy substandard insecticides and fertilizer from particular shops. The government wanted to be friendly with the commission agents but won’t sacrifice the interests of the farmers, Mr Jakhar said.


FCI MD visits grain market

Khanna, April 20
Managing Director of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) Naresh Chaturvedi today visited Khanna grain market and found some gunny bags with less weight.

He was here on a tour to Punjab to cover procurement arrangements for the wheat procurement.

He said that 32 lakh tonnes of wheat had been procured against the target of 110 lakh tonnes in Punjab.

In Haryana 24 lakh tonnes wheat has been procured against the target of 65 lakh tonnes.

He checked the weight of gunny bags supplied to the FCI. The bags were found less in weight. It was 500 gm less in 16 kg bundle of gunny bags. PTI


Commission agent’s licence cancelled
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 20
A commission agent, Mr Ramesh Kumar Jatane Wala, working in a purchase centre at Bachhuana village in the district, is alleged to have sold old wheat unfit for human consumption mixed with barley to Punsup in connivance with Inspector Ishwar Kumar of Punsup.

On receipt of a complaint, Mr Navtej Singh, Subdivisional Magistrate, Budhlada, conducted a raid and found 800 bags of wheat lying in the yard of the commission agent.

The SDM has issued a notice for the cancellation of the foodgrain licence of the commission agent.

The Deputy Commissioner said 350 bags of wheat had been purchased from the commission agent by Punsup whereas the commission agent showed the sale of about 800 bags of wheat.

In another case, during the checking of the Chotian purchase centre of the district, the Deputy Commissioner found shortage of 200 to 800 gm per bag of wheat purchased by Tara Singh, Inspector of Punsup.

The Deputy Commissioner gave a warning to the commission agent concerned and recommended disciplinary action against the Inspector.


DEO to probe embezzlement of Red Cross funds
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 20
Alleged embezzlement in sports and Red Cross funds collected by the Primary Education Officer has led to confrontation among different unions and associations of government employees. The District Education Officer, Ferozepore, shall be visiting the town on Tuesday to probe the matter. Earlier a teacher working as clerk on deputation in the office of DEO at Ferozepore conducted the preliminary investigation. The BPEO and the clerk concerned had been accusing each other in connection for past few weeks.

An emergency meeting of The All India SC BC ST and Minorities Ekta Bhalai Manch was held here on Sunday. Mr Kulwant Singh Bhatti, president of the organisation, presided. Those present included Mr Jaswant Singh Nahar, general secretary, Mr Gora Singh, district president from Sirsa, Mr Shagan Lal Malhra, district president, Muktsar, Mr Manohar Lal Megh, district president, Ferozepore, Ms Surjit Kaur, state secretary and Ms Usha Chauhan of the women’s wing.

The meeting hotly debated attempts by some vested interests to shield a Block Primary Education Officer for the alleged embezzlement of funds on the pretext of her being a member of the BC community. The meeting put on record that the District Education Officer (P) “wrongly” delegated drawing and disbursement powers to the BEPO here on December 31,2002. The employees unions had lodged many “serious” complaints against the same center head teacher posted as BEPO here during the SAD BJP rule. The government was forced to withdraw the powers even when the DEO(P) then was allegedly hand and glove with the BEPO on December 2, 2001. Since then the educational environment in the sub division had been peaceful. The peace was disturbed again on December 31, 2002 by restoring the DD powers to the same BEPO.

According to a press release issued after the meeting the Manch reminded the Education Department that different unions had staged a demonstration here against the same BEPO in 2000. The participants had traversed from different parts of Ferozepore, Muktsar and Moga districts. A senior leader from Muktsar who had criticised the BEPO levelling serious allegations then, had now come to the rescue of the same officer making it a caste-based issue to suppress the deeds in the BEPO office.

Addressing the delegates Mr Kulwant Singh Bhatti, national president of the Manch, said misuse of the Prevention of Atrocities on SC BC Act would be harmful for the basic social structure of the nation. Corruption should not be suppressed using the Act as a weapon. The Manch demanded that the BEPO should be deprived of the drawing disbursement powers immediately. The policy for appointing senior teachers as BEPOs in the district should be made transparent. Thorough probe in allegations of embezzlement of sports and Red Cross funds should be done fairly to bring the real culprit to the book. The meeting urged the department to inquire in to alleged misappropriation in distribution of books between SC and BC students free of cost.

The Democratic Teachers Front Ferozepore already submitted six memorandums against the same BEPO claiming to expose the misappropriations.


City roads to be widened: Singla
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 20
“The efforts for securing Municipal Corporation status for the city were successful and now providing more facilities for the residents would be high on agenda.”

This was stated by Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman High-Powered Finance Committee while presiding over a meeting of district officials convened to prepare a programme for widening and strengthening of main roads in the city.

Mr Singla said that roads that would be widened and repaired included the 100 foot road connecting Bibiwala road to Bhagu road, the road connecting Barnala road to Sant Pura road, Amrik Singh road and Bhatti road. He said that a meeting would convened with the Army authorities so that obstacles in construction of 200 feet Ring Road connecting the Bathinda Barnala road to Bathinda Mansa road could be completed.

He said that with the completion of Ring Road the heavy vehicular that in the city would decrease. He said that the traffic from Ludhiana, Barnala side moving towards Dabwali, Mansa etc would not have to pass through the city.

Mr Singla said that after the elevation of civic body of the city to Municipal Corporation there was a need that main roads and lanes should be repaired and widened. He claimed that paucity of funds would not come into the way of development works in the city.

He claimed that work of repair of roads had been started and soon the residents would see a sea change in the condition of roads in the city.

Those who were present in the meeting were the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, Chairman of Improvement Trust G.K. Singh, EO Karnal Kant and other officials of Improvement Trust.


2 SAD workers booked
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 20
Two senior SAD workers of Chak Janisar village have been booked under Sections 451 and 454, IPC, and under the Prevention of Atrocities on Scheduled Caste Act after five years of the incident. Sources said Congress worker Sardul Singh had been driven from pillar to post stating that senior SAD workers Jaswinder Singh, Devinder Singh and Gurcharan Singh had forcibly evacuated his family from his house constructed on panchayat land. Later they allegedly razed the house to the ground. When he confronted them, they reportedly abused him quoting his caste and religion. Standing wheat crop had also been harvested by the suspects, he said.

Sardul Singh said neither the police nor the civil authorities paid any attention to his complaints as the “suspects” enjoyed political influence. His application was heard at a meeting of the District Grievances Committee in 2002. The SSP had asked the DSP to inquire into the matter. The DSP in his report, found that the allegations against Jaswinder Singh and Devinder Singh were true. Gurcharan Singh was, however, exonerated.


Four booked on cheating charge
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 20
The police has booked four persons for cheating persons by taking money from them in the name of an investment company, Finance and Investment Company on the pretext of handsome interests. Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, said here today that the accused have been identified as Vikas Nijawan of Pathankot, Mehar Chand of Tanda, Hoshiarpur district father-in-law of Vikas Nijhawan, Khazan Chand, brother of Mehar Chand, and a resident of Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.

Fifteen residents of Pathankot had filed a complaint with the police in this regard.

The four have been booked under Sections 420 and 34, IPC at police station, Division No. 1, Pathankot, yesterday.

Meanwhile, Onkar Singh of Dugri, Subhash Bhashi of Barar, Sudesh of Gharota and Rano of Gandhian have been arrested for carrying 37 bottles of illicit liquor. Cases under the Excise Act have been registered.


Change entrance test date: IMA
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 20
Dr O.P.S. Kande, chairman, Medical Action Committee-cum-Legal Cell of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), Punjab, today urged the Punjab Government to change the date of the PG entrance test fixed for May 25 since the date clashed with the date of the entrance test of Manipal University, which had been fixed prior to Punjab.

Talking to newspersons here in the presence of Dr Raman Aggarwal, vice-president, IMA, Punjab, Dr Kande claimed that a large number of medical graduates from Punjab also appeared in the PG entrance test of Manipal University and in case the Punjab Government did not alter the date, these graduates would suffer a lot.

The Punjab Education Minister should intervene in this regard at the earliest as a large number of parents of students had approached the IMA, he claimed. The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, conducts this test for medical colleges of Punjab.

Dr Kande also demanded that the cut-off date for the completion of the internship for medical graduates should be March 31 or one month before the examination. Since the Punjab Government had fixed the cut-off date as December 31, 2002, for the completion of the internship to be eligible for the PG test, many students of the state studying medicine in other states would be deprived of the opportunity as the session in these states ended late, he argued.


I’ll not meet minister on Pro-VC’s message: VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai today made it clear that he would not meet Higher Education Minister Harnam Das Johar on being conveyed as such by the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal.

Talking to Chandigarh Tribune here this evening, the Vice-Chancellor said he had not received any intimation about him having been summoned to Chandigarh along with the Pro-VC to discuss university affairs with the minister. He said when a minister called anyone, the person had to go to meet him. But the minister would have to call the person, he said.

The Pro-Vice-Chancellor had met the Higher Education Minister in the Circuit House during his visit to Patiala nearly a week back when the VC was on leave, allegedly to protest against being kept away from the decision-making process during the absence of the VC from the university. The Pro-VC had claimed that the minister had asked him to convey to the VC that both of them should meet him to discuss the matter. The Pro-VC had claimed that he had conveyed the message of the minister to the VC through a letter.

The VC, however, said he had not received any letter from the Pro-VC on the issue. He said he had also not received any letter from the Pro-VC pointing out that he should not have taken a decision to exempt former Fine Arts Department student, Saru Rana from reappearing in the practical examinations of the course. The Pro-VC while expressing his strong reservations on the decision, had said the decision against the university calendar and would affect the regular students in the coming examinations

Mr Boparai, when questioned on this account, said the Pro-VC had not protested against the decision when it was taken and that he was hearing about his reservations now only. He said if the Pro-VC had written any letter in this regard in his absence he did not know about it. He, however, remained firm on his decision saying “I exercised my authority. I do not have to consult him (Pro-VC) or anyone else while doing so. I have taken the decision to the best of my judgement”. Earlier, Mr Boparai had said the decision to exempt Saru Rana from appearing in the practical examinations had been taken as a special case on sympathetic grounds keeping in view the mental and physical trauma she had undergone during her stay in the university.


Saru Rana not to sit for re-exam
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
A former Punjabi University Fine Arts Department student, Saru Rana, who had accused the ousted Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, of attempting to rape her, has written a letter to the present Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, saying she does not want to reappear for the second year postgraduate examinations after raising of a controversy over her reappearance by the head of the department.

The Vice-Chancellor had exempted Saru Rana from reappearing for the two practical examinations of the course while retaking the test which she had failed last year. The VC, through an unprecedented decision, allowed her to retain the 81 per cent and 83 per cent marks obtained by her in the practical examinations last year, which meant she would take only two theory papers of the course this year.

This issue had led to a protest by some students of the Department of Fine Arts, who had claimed that the decision was against the university calendar. They said they would be at a disadvantage because the university through another order, had asked the practical examiners to be more strict in awarding marks to ensure the practical and theory marks scored by students were in consonance with each other.

Saru Rana in her letter to the Vice-Chancellor today while thanking him for exempting her from sitting in two practical papers while retaking the test this year, demanded that an inquiry should be conducted in the Department of Fine Arts regarding the “physical and mental exploitation” of girl students during the tenure of former VC J.S. Ahluwalia. She said she would cooperate in any such inquiry and present herself before inquiry committee.

She also accused the head of the Department of Fine Arts department head Dr Saroj Rani, of misleading the students of the department and even instigating them to write applications against the exemption which had been given to her. She said it was amazing that the department head had taken this path despite the fact that the VC had himself taken a decision on the issue after understanding all the facts.


Hike in college fees opposed
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 20
The state government’s move to increase fee and funds in state-owned colleges has been criticised widely and a large number of organisations have urged the government to reconsider the hike.

Mr Sudeep, convener of Shaheed Prithi Pal Singh Randhawa Manch, said they had submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner, urging the government to rollback the fee hike, but nothing had been done in this regard.

Mrs Pushp Lata, district president of the Lok Morcha, in a statement said by levying user charges on services like transportation, state-run hospitals and education, the government was running away from its responsibility to provide such services.

She said by increasing the fee 30 times the government had indicated that the doors of higher education for the masses had been closed.

Mr Bagga Singh, district president of the Association for Democratic Rights, said the hike was irrational and rather than increasing the Budget allocation for the development and maintenance of college buildings and schools, the government had adopted the easy way out.

A teacher posted at a nearby village said those students who had appeared for their plus two examinations in March would be severely hit by the hike in college fees.

He said if the enrolment of rural students in the university dropped, it would have an adverse impact on the enrolment of students in secondary classes at rural government schools.


Minister’s warning to private colleges on fee
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 20
The Punjab Higher Education and Language Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, today issued warning to private educational institutes against charging hefty fees in the name of various funds.

Speaking at a prize distribution function organised in Guru Nanak Dev University, he said no private educational institute would be allowed to charge hefty amount for development funds.

He stressed upon the need to provide education pertaining to information technology at the grassroots level.

Justifying the recent hike fee structure for various courses in government colleges, he said private colleges were charging higher fees than their government counterparts.

The minister conferred degrees on 105 students and twentyfive merit-holders were given prizes. He also inaugurated a computer laboratory of the Department of Information Technology.


Gaganjit wins painting competition
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 20
Gaganjit Singh Brar of Blossoms School won the first prize in the Major B.S.S. Bedi Memorial Inter-School On-the-Spot painting competition, organised by the Rotary Club, Patiala Mid Town, and the Innerwheel Club, Patiala Mid Town, at the Gymkhana Club here today.

Anmol Kang of Aurobindo International School and Kunal Mirdha of Yadvindra Public School bagged the second and third spots in the same category.

In the 8 to 12 year age group, Dilveer Kaur of Play Way School, Rupinder Kaur of Narain Public School and Sant Parkash Singh of YPS bagged the first, second and third positions, respectively. In the senior group of 13 to 15 years, Tejbir Singh of Aurobindo, Jaspreet Kaur of Play Way, Shweta Sundaram of Army School received first, second and third prizes, respectively. Consolation prizes were also given to some students.

Special prizes were given to orphan children of Aurobindo Ashram Bhavan who had participated in the competition and also to individual entries made on the spot, programme coordinator and wife of the late Major B.S.S. Bedi, Ms Sudershan Bedi, said. The Gymkhana Club president, Mr K.S. Nagra, gave prizes to the winners.


Promotion interview of JBT teachers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 20
Block Primary Education Officers (BPEOs) of Sangat and Bathinda in a joint written statement issued here today said that the interviews for the promotions of JBT teachers as Head Teacher and of Head Teachers as Centre Head Teachers would be held at the District Education Office (Elementary) on April 22 at 10 a.m. They added that all those who had been debarred two years ago could also report to the DEO (P) and all candidates should bring eligibility certificates with them.

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