Saturday, April 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Militancy: police excesses yes, says Siddiqui,
CM disagrees
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh today disagreed with Additional Director-General, Police Punjab AA Siddiqui on police role during militancy in the State when he said that police personnel had sacrificed their lives for the country. Mr Siddiqui, speaking before the Chief Minister had said that the police force had misused its authority during militancy and committed excesses.

The Chief Minister apparently embarrassed by the statement of the ADGP gave figures of the toll militancy had taken as far as the police force was concerned. He said 496 Army men attained martyrdom during the Kargil conflict while 2200 police personnel were killed during militancy in the state.

Capt Amarinder said that police force of the State had done yeoman service during militancy. He said “they gave their lives what more could have been expected from them”.

Later at the press conference which was not attended by the ADGP, the Chief Minister in the presence of the DGP said the State government would fight the cases of the police officers facing trial for fighting militancy at all levels possible. He said this was in contrast to the Akalis during whose regime the police officers had to fight their cases themselves.

Earlier the ADGP briefing the select gathering on the Community Policing Scheme, said due to the misuse of power by police personnel during militancy the people had been alienated from the force. He said with the advent of peace, the entire police set-up was being revamped to bring in transparency and corruption-free functioning.

The militancy also came up in the speech of Director General of Police Punjab Mehal Singh Bhullar at the function. Mr Bhullar gave his example how he had always taken people with him during his posting as DIG, Range and IG, Border Range. He also claimed that the force could end militancy with people’s cooperation.

The Chief Minister at the press conference said the PSEB would buy power during the summer if needed, adding the need might not arise. Speaking on the proposed Power Reform Bill, he said there was a discrepancy between it and the All-India Bill in the same sector. He said he had written to Party President Sonia Gandhi requesting that the Bill proposed by the State be adopted by making amendments in the national Bill.

The Chief Minister also announced several welfare schemes for police personnel earlier at the function.


Did Chabra refuse to part with files?
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Did Mr Rajesh Chabra, an IAS officer of the rank of Principal Secretary, who was subjected to a lengthy grilling by a team of top police officers yesterday with regard to a scam in the Irrigation Department, refuse to part with relevant files?

Sources said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had told Mr Chabra through official channels to hand over all files pertaining to the scam to the investigating police officers. However, the files were not given. After waiting for some time, Capt Amarinder Singh asked the authorities concerned to shift Mr Chabra from the Irrigation Department, following which he was shifted to the Medical Education and Research Department.

The multi-crore scam pertains to the drainage of water from a waterlogged area in the Gidderbaha belt. It occurred during the SAD-BJP government headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The investigation is being done by a team led by an Officer on Special Duty (OSD), Mr A.A. Siddiqui. The issue has gained significance as the government feels that Mr Badal is linked with it.

It is believed that the Chief Minister has authorised the investigating team to question Mr Chabra. The team reportedly discussed the contents of notings on the relevant files with the Chief Minister and then asked for informal permission to investigate the matter.

Mr Chabra, a 1967 batch IAS officer, is among the seniormost IAS officers of the state cadre and is also an aspirant for the post of Chief Secretary after the retirement of Mr Y.S. Ratra. The sources said after the transfer of Mr Chabra from the Irrigation Department, the investigation team was able to lay its hands on the files.

Mr Chabra has denied his involvement in the scam. He said he was not posted in the Irrigation Department when the so-called scam occurred. Mr Sumedh Saini,who led the team to question Mr Chabra, asked about certain controversial notings on the files. Mr Chabra was shown the notings.

Meanwhile, IAS officers are not unanimous over the questioning of Mr Chabra by the police. A top IAS officer said “it was not a right step to question Mr Chabra”. He said then” any noting made by IAS officers can be questioned”. If such a process continued, then top officers, especially those heading the departments, would stop taking decisions, he added.

However, some IAS officers said there was nothing “wrong” in questioning Mr Chabra.


Amarinder backs VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today backed Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai on the issue of delegation of powers. The Pro-Vice-Chancellor Dr R.N. Pal had opposed the delegation of powers. The Vice-Chancellor could delegate his powers according to his choice, the Chief Minister said.

Talking to newsmen here after inaugurating a community policing scheme here, the Chief Minister said the university was an autonomous body and the Vice-Chancellor could take decisions according to his wishes. He said the state government would back its Vice-Chancellor and that Mr Boparai had full powers to “bring the Pro-VC around” as per his wishes. He said the government was clear that it had a Vice-Chancellor who enjoyed its confidence and was rebuilding the varsity after the decay which had set in during the tenure of former Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

When questioned on the issue of interference in the University affairs by Higher Education Minister Harnam Das Johar by asking the Vice-Chancellor to defer decision on the fate of information technology institutes set up by former VC, Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, the Chief Minister said he would “talk to the minister on the issue”. He, however, refused to comment on whether the minister had overstepped his authority by summoning the VC after getting a complaint from the Pro VC that the former had not delegated powers to him during his absence from the varsity.

The Chief Minister also disclosed that his government was looking into the issue of abolishing the post of Pro VC but said a decision in this regard would only be taken at the government level. He said the Vigilance Department would look into the request made by the Punjabi University VC for a probe into the setting up of information technologies institutes during the tenure of Dr Ahluwalia.

Meanwhile in a press note issued today it was the turn of the varsity’s Public Relations Director to take on Pro VC, Dr R.N. Pal. The Director, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, said it was wrong of the Pro VC to claim that he did not know English and could not have read the Punjabi University calendar properly on the issue of “powers, duties and conditions of service of the Pro Vice-Chancellor”. Dr Sandhu appended a copy of the relevant section of the varsity calendar to claim that the Pro VC could only enjoy the powers delegated to him even in the case of the absence of the Vice Chancellor from the campus.


CDs expose more than mere graft
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 25
The ‘police pay-off scandal’ exposed through some video CDs, made secretly by two alleged criminals, is not a simple case of police corruption as it seems the registration of a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against 10 policemen by the Ludhiana police last evening.

It has other dimensions and manifestations. One, that the police, which is the protector of the law, had allegedly ‘extorted’ money from one criminal to pay as compensation to the family of a custodial death victim for hiding an alleged crime by the police.

The “extorted” money was paid as compensation to the family of a Dalit youth, Raju, who reportedly died in the custody of the CIA police in October, 2000. In this case, Subash Katty claims to have paid the compensation.

The second relates to the infamous Bimla murder case that rocked the city early last year. The second alleged gambler, Bittu Chawla, is the main accused in the case. The video film shows cops talking about how a ‘witness’ would be planted to save him.

Though the state police has registered a case against 10 cops and ordered a high-level probe, the department is silent on the new evidence regarding the Raju custodial death. It has come up in the CDs during the conversation between some cops and Subash Katty and Bittu Chawla that they had paid Rs 6 lakh to policemen, who forwarded Rs 5.8 lakh as secret compensation to the family of Raju.

The fresh evidence also vindicates a news story published in these columns regarding the compensation. ‘The Tribune’ had published exclusive photocopies of fixed deposit receipts of Bharat Overseas Bank in the name of Akash and Balbir Kumar, minor sons of the deceased. The family lives in penury here, but had, a huge amount in the bank.

On the basis of the ‘The Tribune’ report, a former CIA in charge, Maninder Bedi was suspended. He was, however, reinstated after a few months and is at present serving as SHO, Garhshankar, in Nawanshahr police district. No action was taken against the senior police officers posted in the district at that time.

The Ludhiana police had been denying paying the compensation despite the fixed deposits. The video CDs have put the case back in limelight.

It is Sub-Inspector (SI) Balbir Singh who shares the secret with Katty and Bittu Chawla in the video film. He says that Raju Harijan had died due to police torture and SI Tehal Singh had collected the money from him. He said it was only now that he got to know from Katty that they had paid Rs 6 lakh. Earlier, he had heard that they had paid Rs 1.5 lakh.

‘The Tribune’ had also exclusively reported the Bimla murder case and how some innocent persons other than Bittu Chawla were being framed. On these stories, all innocent persons were finally acquitted of charges. In the video film, SI Balbir Singh says that he would get a key witness in the case turn in favour of Bittu Chawla.


Is Mukul Joshi still FC Taxation?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
“Is Mr Mukul Joshi still the Financial Commissioner (Taxation)?” Yes, if the official gazette of the Punjab Government is to be believed.

The latest issue of the gazette carries various notifications of the Excise and Taxation Department issued in the name of Mr Joshi.

The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had directed Mr Mukul Joshi to proceed on long leave in January after his name figured prominently in the January 20 Panchkula episode.

Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner Revenue, was asked to submit a report to the Chief Minister on the Panchkula episode. Though Mr Joshi reported back on duty on April 16, he was not given the charge of Financial Commissioner Taxation.

Before Mr Joshi proceeded on leave, he was relieved of all charges held by him at that time, including excise and taxation. The Punjab Government had given Mr A.K. Dubey, Principal Secretary PWD (B and R), the additional charge of Financial Commissioner Taxation, which he still holds.

A number of notifications, mostly regarding superannuation in the Excise and Taxation Department, issued last month were in the name of Mr Joshi. Three of these are regarding the superannuation of Mr Amarjit Singh Cheema (Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Sangrur), Mr Mohinder Paul Goswami (Deputy Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Patiala), and Mr Mehar Chand (Excise and Taxation Office, Patiala) who retired on March 31.

A senior functionary of the Punjab Government admitted to having committed the “lapse” and said necessary instructions would be issued immediately to prevent its recurrence. Another senior official said: “It was not a lapse, but obvious that he was going to come back.”


Akali unity slow, steady process
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The issue of unity between the Badal-led SAD and the Tohra-led Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal will be a ‘’low key’’ affair at the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) here tomorrow, say sources.

Looking at the political scenario, one of the architects of unity move, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, says: “So far, only a goodwill window has been opened. Much of the credit for bringing Mr Badal and Mr Tohra close after a long gap also goes to the Minorities Commission, Chairman, Mr Tarlochan Singh.

Eversince the two leaders distanced themselves and engaged in sniper fire in the past four years, the Akalis in both camps have not only slipped from their position of eminence in religio-political affairs but also failed to effectively articulate the voice of the Sikhs. Even the defeat of SAD men in the February, 2002, assembly elections can be attributed to division and factionalism.

Mr Tarlochan Singh says that the stigma of being branded as a Congress rubber-stamp was too much for Mr Tohra to gulp.

He was ever keen on refurbishing his image, as a Panthic leader. Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta said the Akali Dal had two forms, one as a “regional political party’’ and the second as a “panthic party’’, which doubles up as a religio-political party that articulates the aspirations of Sikhs the world over. In these twin forms, both Mr Badal and Mr Tohra have supplementary and complimentary roles to play.

Thus only “preliminary discussions’’ have taken place on unity. Political observers say that more than any ideological differences, it was the ‘’bloated ego’’, which usually created misunderstandings and a wedge between the two Akali leaders.

But unless the two Akali Dal as a political entity, learns and trains itself to understand the nuisances of Sikh youth and works for economic driven politics, it will get alienated from the people, admits Mr Manjit Singh.

Therefore, the focus at the PAC will deliberately be on issues like the government decision to enhance ‘’user charges’’ on social and economic services, particularly, colleges fees, plight of the 1984 ‘’riot victims’’, and the kisan and organisational matters.


‘Pressured’ by politician, official goes on leave
Varinder Singh & J.S. Malhotra

Jalandhar, April 25
Is political interference behind the mushrooming of illegal buildings in Jalandhar, where two influential builders and three civic body officials have been booked by the Vigilance Bureau in an alleged multi-crore building composition fee scam? The answer seems to be in the affirmative if a letter reportedly written by a Municipal Town Planner to the civic body Commissioner yesterday, seeking one month’s leave “ in view of intolerable political pressure” on him to favour the ongoing illegal construction of a huge building is to be believed.

Municipal Town Planner Shakti Sagar Bhatia has reportedly written a letter to civic body commissioner Sarojini Gautam Sharda, saying that he be sent on a month long leave as he “could not perform his duties” in view of the pressure exerted by a senior politician of the city to save a person who was erecting a building near the corporation office in violation of the by laws.

According to civic body sources, Mr Bhatia had gone along with a team of officials and seized some construction equipment and material. But soon he was summoned by a senior Congress leader linked with the civic body and snubbed for having stopped the construction activity. Since he felt humiliated, he sought leave for his “inability to carry out his duties in such circumstances,” said the sources.

“I don’t want to be labelled as a dishonest officer. So it is better for me to proceed on leave instead of working under undue pressures,” said Mr Bhatia.

Ms Sharda, however, maintained that she had not yet received any such letter.

Mr Bhatia, according to Mr Prem Pal Dumeli, convenor of the Municipal Corporation Employees Union, has also submitted a similar letter to the union. “We have called a meeting to discuss the issue. It is unfortunate that political interference was being applied to prevent officials from performing their duties,” said Mr Dumeli.


Misleading ads shatter dreams
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 25
A case of minting money by inserting misleading advertisements has come to light here recently.

Vinod Kumar (29), a postgraduate and resident of Kailash Nagar locality here who is presently working at Vidya Niketan Public High School here told the correspondent that he read the advertisement regarding the recruitment of teachers published in Employment News tabloid on April 5 and 11. He said he had applied for the posts of primary and middle school teachers after spending Rs 166 on application fee and postal charges.

Vinod Kumar lamented that he came to know of the fraud from a commercial typing college.

Krishan Sharma (25), another graduate applicant of Farsh No. 14 here said he had applied for the post in the general category and had shelled out about Rs 250 in this regard. At present he is running a small shop. He said many of his friends too had applied after getting information of the advertisement.

When the correspondent contacted proprietors of two local commercial typing colleges (Rattana Commercial College and Loona Type Centre), they said hundreds of youths had thronged their premises to collect the application forms. They said majority of the candidates were from rural areas. Mr Loona further said he came to know that in some towns certain computer centers had printed application forms and sold them at a premium and made good profits. Now both said they had prominently displayed a caution notice to maintain in their credibility. Despite this many youths still came for getting the form, they added.

In the issue of Employment News dated April 19 an advertisement was published by the advertisement manager that the agency which had advertised the posts of teacher in Employment News was non-existent. It cautioned readers against applying for the posts. It also expressed regrets for the publication of the advertisements.

Meanwhile, all those affected and proprietor of the typing colleges criticised the government for allowing the publication of such an advertisement without verifying its authenticity. They demanded that all those involved in the racket should be booked and government should ensure that the applicants were refunded the fee.


Aneja heads Jalalabad MC
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, April 25
Mr Ashok Aneja of the Congress was today unanimously elected president of the local Municipal Council. The election was held at local Municipal Council office, where all the 14 newly elected Municipal councillors, also belonging to Congress Party were present.

The proceedings were presided over by local SDM, Mr Sanjay Popli, who administered the oath of secrecy to Mr Aneja along with Mr Raj Kumar Doomra who was elected senior vice-president and Mr Hari Chand Pupneja as vice-president.

Mr Hans Raj Josan, political secretary to the CM and local MLA was amongst those present.

The election was held after the Punjab and Haryana High Court cleared the decks on April 22 and vacated the stay granted earlier on the writ petition of Mr Prithvi Raj Doomra, contestant of MC Ward No 12, whose vote had been rejected by the state Election Commission.

Later, a procession was carried out which concluded at local Seth Khushal Chand Valecha Community Hall.


Cong nominee is zila parishad chief
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 25
Mr Arjan Singh of Nangal Bihala village and Mr Gurdial Singh of Bohan village, both Congress nominees, were elected unopposed as Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Zila Parishad (reserved), Hoshiarpur, here this afternoon. The Congress has a strength of 22 in 30-member Zila Parishad.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Sports, Punjab, who is also the in charge of the District Congress Committee’s affairs, told mediapersons after the election that all local Congress leaders, including Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, Dr Kewal Krishan, Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, MP, Mr Ram Lubhaya, MLA, Mr Naresh Thakur, a former minister, and Mr Kuldip Nanda, President, District Congress Committee, had unanimously got elected both official nominees of the party.

It may be recalled that these leaders had opposed each other during the recent election to the President of the Municipal Council, Hoshiarpur, as a result of which the official candidate of the Congress had been defeated by a rebel Congress municipal councillor.


Cong men boycott Bir Devinder’s function
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Congress men today deserted the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, virtually boycotting a samman samaroh organised in his honour at the Circuit House by a social welfare organisation which he had earlier headed.

This happened despite the fact that the function was delayed by more than an hour as another function was being organised at the nearby office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, which was being presided over by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The function, organised in the honour of Mr Bir Devinder Singh, started only after the other function, attended by senior Congress leaders, ended. However, the Congress men still kept away from the ‘samman samaroh.

Only two Congress men were present at the function. These included former minister Prem Gupta and former Punseed Chairman R.P. Atri.

It may be mentioned that a week back, at a function organised to honour the Deputy Speaker by a social organisation, only a couple of junior Congress workers were present on the occasion.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh was honoured by the Patiala Bachao Committee, formed during the period when the city was engulfed in a flood in 1993. Speaking on the occasion, the Deputy Speaker emphasised that he had reached his present position due to the support of his friends and colleagues.


10 in fray for medical council poll
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 25
Ten candidates were left in fray for the election to the Punjab Medical Council after the scrutiny of papers. Dr Raman Kumar Aggarwal of Phagwara, one of the candidates, told this correspondent that the scrutiny was conducted in the office of the Returning Officer, Dr A.S. Padda, Joint Director, Medical Education and Research, at Chandigarh, today. The papers of four candidates were found invalid while one candidate withdrew from the contest. Ten candidates left in the fray are Dr O.P.S. Kande, Dr Rajan Kumar Aggarwal, Dr Kuldip Singh, Dr R.C. Garg, Dr Balwinder Singh, Dr Rajan Singh Neeti, Dr (Mrs) Madhu, Dr Amrik Singh Bhatia, Dr Surinder Singla and Dr Gursharan Singh. At least 7468 voters will elect three candidates out of these 10 in the elections being held after two decades, on the directive of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The Indian Medical Association, Punjab, had filed a writ petition in this connection.

The elections will to be held through postal ballots to be received on or before May 13, returnable by registered post by May 21 and the counting will take place on May 22 in the office of the Director, Medical Education and Research at Chandigarh, added Dr Aggarwal, who is vice-president of the Punjab unit of the IMA.


Order to release 9 prisoners
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 25
Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court during his inspection of the Central Jail here released nine prisoners, including two Bangladesh nationals, and an undertrial from Jammu and Kashmir.

More than 50 prisoners presented their cases for the exemption of sentence when the high court judge visited the jail on Wednesday.

The Superintendent of Jail identified the prisoners as Narul Amin and Mohammed Shakeel, both Bangladesh nationals, Rajpal, an undertrial from Jammu and Kashmir, Surjit Singh of Dhar Kalan, Ashwani of Bhawra, Lakhwinder of Gurdaspur, Rajinder of Pathankot, Roop Lal of Barwan, all of the district and Shakti of Sarkaghat in Himachal Pradesh.

Mr Justice directed the Chief Judicial Magistrate here to examine the cases of the prisoners and nine prisoners were found eligible for release. The Chief Judicial Magistrate after completing the formalities directed the Jail Superintendent to release the prisoners. The jail authorities released the prisoners on Thursday night.

The Bangladesh nationals were handed over to the district authorities to be sent to the Central Jail, Amritsar. These prisoners will be repatriated to Bangladesh after the completion of formalities.

They were undergoing imprisonment for having sneaked into the Indian territory from across the border in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Jagir Singh, Assistant Inspector, Dhariwal police station, was placed under suspension for keeping Arjan Singh of Khan Piara in illegal police custody. The Chief Judicial Magistrate who visited the Dhariwal police station on Wednesday found Arjan Singh in police custody without registration of any case against him.


Suspected SARS patients recovering
Tribune News Service and UNI

Bathinda, April 25
Ms Saroj (45), wife of Jagdish Rai Sharma, a suspected patient of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) who was admitted to the local Civil Hospital on April 23 after she complained of high temperature and breathing problems, has recovered fully and is likely to be discharged today.

Civil Hospital sources said she was admitted 12 hours after her husband Mr Sharma was admitted to the isolation ward here on April 23.

Dr Jagjit Singh Sidhu, Senior Medical Officer (SMO), said both had been responding to the treatment and had recovered significantly. He added that Ms Saroj had requested him for being discharged.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that the Civil Hospital authorities are contemplating keeping a watch on those who came in contact with Mr Sharma and Ms Saroj after they came back from Mehidipur, Rajasthan.

FEROZEPORE: Another case of suspected SARS was reported from Punjab on Friday when Sunil Kumar (20) was quarantined for treatment in the isolation ward of the local Civil Hospital.

A resident of PSEB Colony, Ferozepore Cantt, Sunil Kumar, who had returned from Delhi after spending a fortnight there, was suffering from high fever and was having breathing problems for the past five days when admitted to the trauma ward of the hospital, Senior Medical Officer (SMO) Pritam Singh Sona said, adding that the patient had tested positive for typhoid.

The SMO said samples of sputum and blood of the patient were being sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, New Delhi, for investigation.


Steps to tackle SARS threat
Our correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 25
The district administration and the Health Department have taken precautionary steps to tackle the threat posed by severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS).

Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, while presiding over a meeting of the district health and development officials at Bachat Bhavan here today, said special wards had been set up at Fatehgarh Sahib and Mandi Gobindgarh civil hospitals. He said SARS was curable if the patient got the requisite treatment in time.

He appealed to the people not to panic but to remain alert against the symptoms of the disease.

He appealed to the village sarpanches and municipal councillors that if any person visited their village or town from China, Hong Kong, Hanoi, Vietnam, Singapore, Canada or America, they should immediately inform about it to their respective Block Development and Panchayat Officer, Senior Medical Officer or Civil Surgeon.

He said cough, difficulty in breathing and high fever were the common symptoms of the disease. He said any person having these symptoms should immediately get himself checked at the nearest health centre.

Mr Balwant Singh Shergil, ADC (Development), Dr P.L. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, the District Development and Panchayat Officer and BDPOs also attended the meeting.


No SARS case in Amritsar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Officiating Civil Surgeon Kanwaljit Singh said today that a patient who was admitted yesterday at Kakkar Hospital was not infected with SARS. Stating this at a press conference organised here today he said the suspected patient, Mr Partap Singh, of Jaura Phatak here, had not shown the symptoms of SARS.

However, taking precautionary measures Dr Kanwaljit Singh said Partap Singh’s sputum samples had been sent to the National Institute of Communicable Diseases, Delhi, and the report on the tests was expected within a week. He said as a precautionary measure relatives of the patient had also been kept under observation.


SGPC panel meets Panthic bodies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The SGPC has not yet reached any conclusion on allowing women to do “seva” in Darbar Sahib.

A meeting of the SGPC subcommittee set up on the issue, was held at local Kalgidhar Niwas here toady. Briefing the press Dr Darshan Singh said another meeting would be held on May 8 and the subcommittee would submit its report to SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar by May 15.

The committee interacted with a number of Panthic organisations today on the issue. Certain women from the UK and the Khalsa Panchayat are leading the campaign for allowing women to do “seva” in Darbar Sahib. They faced a lot of difficulty in entering Kalgidhar Niwas to submit their representation to the subcommittee. In fact, there was tight security at Kalgidhar Niwas and even mediapersons had faced hardtime getting inside the complex.

Dr Darshan Singh said certain organisations were against “seva” by women. There was no dispute as far as “equal status” of women in Sikh religion was concerned. “As per Gurmat, women enjoy the same rights as men and there is no gender based discrimination”, said Dr Darshan Singh.


Victim’s mother granted compensation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
In less than three years after a soldier was accidentally killed during counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed a payment of Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the victim’s mother.

Allowing a petition filed by mother Daljeet Kaur of Moga, the high court held that the petitioner was entitled to Rs 5,000 costs, to be recovered from the official responsible for rejecting her claim for compensation.

The victim — gunner Amandeep Singh — was on night duty on August 5, 2000. At about 9 pm, he cocked his riffle “to check some unusual movement”. A little later, his companion heard “the sound of someone falling” followed by noise of a single gun shot. Amandeep had accidentally shot himself in the head after slipping over the boulders, it was later discovered.

Even though his death was attributed to military service, his mother was not granted “ex gratia lump sum compensation” admissible under the Government of India rules.

After several representations, she received a communication stating that Amandeep Singh “had died due to the shot of his own personal weapon. Therefore, the cause of the death was not covered under the provisions....”

Aggrieved by the order, Daljeet Kaur moved the court. After hearing the arguments in the case and going through the documents, a Division Bench of the high court, headed by Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar, ruled: “The attitude displayed by a respondent borders on callousness. The petitioner is clearly entitled to the benefit of ex gratia lump sum compensation....”

The Judges added: “On facts, it deserves to be noticed that both the inquest report and the court of inquiry have held that the death had occurred due to accident. It was held that the death had occurred while he was on duty. It was also held that he was performing duty in the insurgency area popularly known as Operation Rakshak.

“It was categorically held that the death was attributable to military service. These findings have been confirmed by a competent military authority. Such being the position, we are unable to comprehend how the grant of ex gratia lump sum compensation could have been refused to the petitioner.

The Judges, in their detailed order, observed: “Love of a mother for her children has, since time immemorial, been placed at the highest . When a mother loses a hale and hearty child in some unfortunate accident, she suffers a tragedy which is personal to her and is of such magnitude which defies description in mere words. In view of the peculiar facts of the case, with consent of counsel for the parties, we are disposing the petition finally at the initial stage only”.

Plea dismissed

A petition filed by 25 retired employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board, seeking directions for enhancing the commutation value of their pension, was dismissed by a Division Bench of the high court.

In their petition taken up by the Bench, comprising Mr Justice V.M. Jain and Mr Justice Viney Mittal, Hukam Singh and 24 others had earlier sought directions to the board and other respondents to enhance the commutation value on the basis of instructions issued on July 21, 1998.

Notice issued

Taking up a petition by Dr P.K. Sareen, accused of being involved in the alleged kidney conspiracy case, Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the high court issued notice of motion for May 23.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, Dr Sareen, in his petition, submitted that he had not been named in the first information report registered by the police at Amritsar under the provisions of the Transplant of Human Organs Act, besides Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code.


Snag costs power plant lakhs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 25
Unit number one of the Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant here which was switched on in the morning, yesterday after repairs, tripped in the evening.

The unit was started after routine repair. Some fault in the boiler of the unit led to tripping.

The sources said that for re-starting the unit the plant had to spend Rs three lakh more. Coal cannot be used when a unit is started. Instead oil is used and when it reaches certain temperature coal is used.

Sources said that as the unit number one tripped last evening, the plant authorities utilised unit number four, which was closed due to no demand.

Mr S.C. Mahajan, Chief Engineer of the plant, confirmed that the unit number one had tripped.

He said that as the plant had enlivened its designed life, it was not very strange that the unit tripped.

He also accepted that the plant had to utilise Rs 3 lakh for restarting the unit.

Mr Mahajan however, said that the tripping of unit number one did not have any affect on the supply of power from the plan.

He added the unit number four was put to maximum use. He said that the unit number one would also be restarted tonight.


CM’s visit propels action
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
As a sequel to the surprise visit of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to Ropar yesterday the district administration has initiated action.

A spokesman for the Punjab Government said the visit by the Chief Minister had acted as a propeller to instill confidence in the public regarding government commitment to good governance.

People had complained against work and conduct of Mr Sanjiv Kumar Garg, BDPO, Majri in the presence of the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, who confirmed that she had received complaints against the official. The Chief Minister ordered that Mr Garg be shifted. He had been shifted, a press note confirmed.

Warning had been issued to seven employees who were found absent yesterday in the tehsil and District Transport Office.

On his return from Ropar, the Chief Minister made a surprise visit to Government Elementary School Bheora where he found there was no electricity connection. He directed SE (Operations), PSEB, Ropar, to ensure the installation of a power connection within a week. He also announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh to the school for the construction of a building.

Taking stock of the situation arising out of SARS, the Chief Minister directed the Deputy Commissioner to provide two air-conditioners in the emergency ward of the Ropar Civil Hospital.


2 women devotees save ‘bir’ from fire
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, April 25
Ms Manjit Kaur and Ms Chinti Devi — devotees — saved holy Bir of Sri Guru Granth Sahib from burning at Kunta village gurdwara under police station Hariana in early morning today. According to Mr Malkiat Singh, President Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee and Ms Ranjit Kaur, Sarpanch of the village, due to short-circuit the room where holy Bir was kept ceiling cloth caught fire. Later the wooden palki in which holy Bir was kept and rumalas on it also caught fire. Ms Manjit Kaur and Ms Chinti Devi who come to the gurdwara early morning to pay obeisance, noticed the fire. They removed the holy Bir and kept Sri Guru Granth Sahib in ‘Sukh Asan’ and controlled the fire. Their efforts were appreciated by the people of the area.


Nath families allege torture
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 25
Mr Resham Nath, sarpanch, Mr Balbir Nath, Mr Mushtakh Nath and other representatives of the Naths families have taken serious note of the alleged police torture of their youths.

The representatives said today that on April 21 the Pathankot police had taken away 15 of their youths due to mistaken identity, but later on released them. They further said their youths were often taken by the police of different districts and tortured them for no fault of theirs. They added that not a single case had been registered against their wards. They have sought the Punjab Government intervention in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mrs Lakshmi Kanta Chawla, former BJP MLA, in a statement issued here today has also condemned the atrocities being committed on the innocent persons.


Agitating docs rounded up
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 25
Junior residents of the local Government Medical College and interns of the Dental College today took out a procession to the Deputy Commissioner’s office which led to around 20 of them being rounded up for around two hours before they were released. The procession of the doctors started from Government Rajindra Hospital. It reached the office of the Deputy Commissioner chanting slogans and condemning government policies, including the withdrawal of their stipends from this month.

Junior Doctors Association (JDA) president Sarabjit Rana submitted a memorandum of their demands to Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh.


Builder Channi joins probe
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 25
Two builders — Chairman of C.T. Public School Charanjit Singh Channi and Mohinder singh, who had been booked by the Vigilance Bureau for their alleged involvement in the multi-crore composition fee scam, today formally joined investigation at the Vigilance Bureau office here this morning.

Both the accused reached were grilled for about four hours. Sources said they could not produce any record to substantiate their versions.


Bungling of Red Cross funds to be ‘probed’
Our Correspondent

Abohar, April 25
Mr Jagtar Singh Khatra, DPI (Elementary), has reportedly assured the Democratic Teachers Front that a high-level inquiry would be conducted into the alleged misappropriation in Red Cross, sports and child welfare funds at a Block Education Primary office here

According to a press note by Mr Gurmail Singh, district president of the front here last evening, a deputation of the state body of the front met the DPI, Elementary and Higher Education, to discuss the problems of teachers.

The deputation told the DPI that the DEO, Ferozepore, had wrongly delegated drawing disbursement powers to a junior centre headteacher, designating her as BEPO. The same DEO was investigating allegations of embezzlement. This was not acceptable to representative bodies of employees.


Term extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
The Punjab Government today extended the term of the Punjab State Planning Board for one year till April 11, 2004, says an official press note.


A.S. Pannu
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 25
Mr Ajeet Singh Pannu, Additional Secretary, Cooperation, has been transferred as Additional Secretary, Excise and Taxation. He will also hold charge as Deputy Director, Colonisation, and the AMD, PSIEC, against vacant posts, says a press note issued today.


Woman drowns 2 daughters

Batala, April 25
A 30-year-old woman, married for three years, allegedly drowned her two daughters, aged two years and seven months, at home this morning, the police said.

Sukhwinder Kaur, after allegedly drowning Jaideep (2) and Kirandeep (7 months) in a water bucket at home in Mann Nagar around 3 am, woke up her husband, father-in-law and mother-in-law and informed them they had died in accidental drowning.

But grilling by the police, called by neighbours, who suspected foul play, forced Sukhwinder Kaur to confess the crime. The police has arrested her and slapped a murder charge under Section 302 of the IPC against her.

While Sukhwinder Kaur did not reveal motive of the crime, her mother-in-law, Amarjit Kaur, alleged that her daughter-in-law was four months pregnant and had been trying to persuade her to permit abortion of the foetus. She further alleged that Sukhwinder Kaur had deserted her husband a year ago and went to live with her parents in Raneelpur village, adjoining the town. She was persuaded to return on the promise that the house in which the family live at Mann Nagar would be transferred in her name as demanded by her. The house was transferred to Sukhwinder Kaur two days ago. UNI


Woman, son held for minor’s rape, murder
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 25
Murder case of 10-year-old school girl, from Dhilwan village whose body was found in a plastic bag near her house, was solved with the arrest of her middle-aged neighbour and father of three, who allegedly had strangled the girl and tried to conceal it with the help of his mother.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said recovery of coffee coloured “Salwar” from arount the neck of the deceased enabled the police solve the crime and reach Resham Kaur, mother of the accused who helped her son to conceal the crime, allegedly committed by Malkiat after raping the minor girl in his house.

The victim class IV student of the village’s primary school, was playmate of all three children of accused Malkiat alias Happy.

The accused, according to the police, called the victim to his house at 2 p.m. on Wednesday while she was returning home from school. The accused raped her and killed.

As Resham Kaur came to know of the ‘act’ of her son, she helped Malkiat conceal the crime to stuffed the body in bag, recovered by the police from fields near the accused’s house.

The SSP said the wife of the accused had left him a month back. He was putting up along with three children and mother Resham Kaur. A case has been registered under Section 302, 201 and 376 of the IPC.


Unit making fake Glucon-D unearthed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 25
The district police has unearthed a chemical factory allegedly manufacturing duplicate Glucon-D.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said Heinz India Private Limited has been manufacturing and selling Glucose-D under the trade name of Glucon-D.

However, the company, in its complaint, alleged that some unscrupulous elements had been selling duplicate Glucon-D in the same style of packaging.

A case was registered under Sections 78 and 79 of the Trade and Merchandise Marks Act, 63 of the Copyright Act and 420 of the IPC. A raid was conducted on the premises of Pharma Pack Laboratories at the Garha locality here today.

R.K. Sehgal of Prem Nagar, Phagwara, was arrested and about 6,600 packets of the duplicate product were seized from the factory. The other two accomplices of R.K. Sehgal, identified as Surinder Singh Parmar of Green Nagar and Jagdish Singh Parmar of Dashmesh Nagar, escaped the police dragnet.


PUDA staffer caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 25
The Vigilance Bureau arrested an employee of the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA) while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 1,500 here today. Sources said Mr K.P. Goyal, a government contractor, had lodged a complaint with the Vigilance authorities that a Head Draftsman of PUDA was demanding a bribe of Rs 2,000 for clearing his payment of about Rs 40,000. The Vigilance Bureau sent a senior officer of the bureau with the complainant, who managed to strike a deal at Rs 1,500, and the PUDA employee was caught red-handed.

The Vigilance authorities said a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against the employee.


2 travel agents booked
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 25
The district police has registered a case against two travel agents under Sections 420, 406, 506, 120-B of the IPC and Section 24 of the Immigration Act for duping two persons of Rs 15.50 lakh for sending them abroad.

Dr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, identified the travel agents as Bahadur Singh of Miani Bhagupurian village and Sukhdev Singh of Kishan Singh Wala village of the district.

In a press note issued today, Dr Dhoke said Satpal Singh of Bullewal village in an application to the police had complained that Bahadur Singh, a travel agent took Rs 12 lakh and a passport from him in December 2001 for sending him to Canada.

In another case, Sukhdev Singh, a travel agent took Rs 3.50 lakh from Sukhwinder Singh of Ramidi village for sending him to Italy in October 2001 but he was neither sent to Italy nor his money was returned. The police found the complaints correct and the SSP ordered the registration of the cases.


Parents, son held for drug smuggling
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 25
The police has arrested a person along with his wife and son for allegedly smuggling poppy husk.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note issued this evening said Sukhdev Singh, his wife Baljeet Kaur, alias Manjit Kaur, and their son Bhupinder Singh, alias Bhinda, residents of Kothe Inder Singhwale were arrested today from their residence.

The police has seized 137 kg of poppy husk from their residence. It has also impounded a jeep allegedly used for selling the narcotics. 


Two charas smugglers held
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 25
The police station division No. 2 has busted as interstate gang of charas smugglers at a naka in Pathankot.

Mr R.P.S. Brar, SSP, in a press note issued here today said Badro Ram of Cheena and Kaku Ram of Thursapa both under Kheri police station in Hoshiarpur district had been arrested while their Damtal-based accomplice was still at large.

As much as 3 kg of charas has been seized from their possession.


Refund security, dental college told
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 25
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum here has ordered Mr Naginder Singh Harika, Managing Director, Khalsa Rural Dental College and Hospital for Women, Nangal Kalan in the district to refund Rs 1 lakh along with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum to Ms Shikha Sharma, daughter of Mr Lachman Dass Sharma, of Panchkula a student of the above college.

The forum has also awarded the cost of Rs 2000 to complainant, Ms Shikha Sharma. According to copy of the order received today the amount of Rs 1 lakh was taken from the student by the Managing Director as security as she got admission in the dental college on the basis of PMET result against paid seats. She later on migrated to Government Dental College, Patiala, on the orders of the Panjab and Haryana High Court.

Even after migration the Managing Director of the dental college failed to refund the security amount of the student which led to the filing of the complaints.

Similarly the Managing Director of the dental college who is also the Managing Director of the Khalsa Rural Nursing Training Institute and Hospital, Nangal Kalan in the district and his wife Ms Sukhwant Kaur, also a Director has been ordered by the forum to refund Rs 50,000 along with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per anum to Ms Daisy Sharma, daughter of Mr Shakti Pal Sharma, of Ludhiana who was admitted to the institute for the B.Sc physiotherapy course in January 1999 and she deposited Rs 95,000 to the institute. The institute did not conduct the examination till October 2000 keeping in mind her future, she left the college and got admission in a college at Ludhiana.

The complainant demanded Rs 2 lakh as compensation, Rs 20,000 on account of costs and Rs 95,000 which she had deposited with the institute but the forum ordered to refund Rs 50,000 to the complainant and dismissed the complaint of refund of Rs 45,000.


Punjabi University bans mobiles
Our Correspondent

Patiala, April 25
Punjabi University has banned the carrying of mobile phones into its examination centres after it was discovered that the phones were being used as a copying tool by various candidates.

The university has now decided to consfiscate any mobile phone found on the person of any candidate. Besides this, it has decided to register an unfair means case (UMC) against any candidate caught with a mobile phone in his or her possession.

The in charge, Examinations Prof Baldev Singh, said flying squads, during surprise checkings recently, had unravelled the use of mobile phones for copying purposes. He said candidates were caught using mobile phones as well as scientific calculators for copying purposes. He said candidates were making use of the SMS facility to send questions and get their answers.

Sources said this form was copying was most used where candidates received question papers containing a number of objective type questions. Dr Baldev Singh said that UMC cases had been registered against a number of persons caught using mobile phones for copying.


Publishers in league with schools?
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 25
With the start of the new academic session, some book sellers and publishers of guides and other help books have allegedly started making deals with some schools to get “favourable recommendations” for their books.

Sources said representatives of publishers had started contacting various schools of the region and were offering specimen copies of their books and donations for getting their books recommended. The sources said some of the publishers of these help books and guides had links with higher officials of the state Education Department and the education board. Thus, the latest changes made by the authorities in the syllabi are incorporated in their guides even before government books reach the market.


5 NCC cadets honoured

Jalandhar, April 25
The NCC Group Headquarters here today honoured five cadets and gave them Rs 5,000 each.

The five cadets from the local group headquarters were selected for scholarship by the Cadet Welfare Society based on their performance in academics. The cash awards were given away by Col. A.K. Sharma, group commander of the NCC headquarters.

The cadets to whom the amount was given away included Remika Julka of the local HMV College, cadet Vinay Kumar of Government College, Hoshiarpur, cadet Sarabjit Singh, Layalpur Khalsa College, cadet Rachit Chadha of the local DAV College and cadet Sarbjit Singh of Government Senior Secondary School, Hoshiarpur. Later, while interacting with the cadets, Col Sharma informed that similar scholarship was being given to the outstanding NCC cadets by the Sahara Group. UNI


Textile industry stir continues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 25
Textile trading units and industries today observed a black day in protest against the introduction of Cenvat.

The spokesman of the Joint Action Committee, Mr Gunbir Singh, expressed resentment over the “apathetic” attitude of the Central government for failing to respond to their more than three-week-long nationwide strike. Mr Gunbir Singh pointed out that the textile industry had decided not to get their units registered.

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