Wednesday, April 30, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Liquor vends galore on highways
Punjab ignores Supreme Court directions
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The directions of courts from time to time and rising toll of fatalities on the roads notwithstanding, the Punjab Excise Department has turned a blind eye to the dotting of both state and national highways with country liquor and IMFL vends.

During the recent Budget session the House was informed that 2202 persons lost their lives in road accidents in the state during 2002-03. In 2001-02, the number of deaths in road accidents was 2664.

The convenient location of liquor vends on the state and national highways has been one of the major contributory factors for the rising incidence of fatal accidents. Even courts, including the high court and the Supreme Court — have been from time to time taking a serious view of the apathy of the state towards road-users by issuing directives and guidelines but to no avail.

Some years ago, the high court and the apex court issued strict orders that no liquor vend would be allowed within 150 metres of any state or national highway. These directions followed public interest litigation filed on behalf of Dr P.N. Chhuttani, a former President of The Tribune Trust.

Though the Punjab Excise Department mentioned in its new policy that no liquor vend should be allowed within 150 to 300 metres of a school, a place of worship or even state and national highways, it left it to the discretion of its licencees to decide about the location of their vends.

The inter-state competition for more and more excise revenue has been adding fuel to the fire. See any inter-state border point and one finds vends on either side competing for sale of liquor. Then each vendor has his own “army of musclemen” to prevent “illegal import of liquor from a neighbouring state”. These “musclemen” stop and search vehicles, smash liquor bottles and at times even manhandle those who insist on carrying liquor.

AMRITSAR: In complete defiance of the norms, there are more than 10 liquor vends on the national highway in this district. However, the Excise and Taxation Officer, Mr Rajpal Singh, claimed that no vends exist on the GT Road.

A Tribune survey revealed that at least eight vends were on the highway or just a few yards from the highway. Significantly, one such vend is located near Maqboolpura, an area where drugs and liquor have taken a heavy toll of human lives . More than 50 lives have been lost in the area in the past few years. The vend could not be removed in spite of repeated representations to the district authorities by the Nasha Virodhi Society of the area.

Mr Raj Pal Singh said the Excise Department was following the norms and allowing vends to be opened at a “reasonable distance” as required under the excise policy.

He added as far as highways were concerned the department had not allowed the opening of any vend and the one operational were located at least 150 yards from the main road.

BATHINDA: A number of liquor vends in Bathinda and Faridkot districts have been running on national and state highways. A survey of two national highways passing through these districts revealed that liquor vends had come up at Bhucho Kalan, Bhucho Mandi crossing, Lehra Mohabbat, Jehuke, Jeeda, Bajakhana, Bargari, Pathrala, and Rampura villages. These vends have been functional for the past several years.

Mr M.S. Kundlas, Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Bathinda, said the only national highway passing through Bathinda was from Bajakhana to Gidderbaha (Pathankot-Kandla) and no vend was located on it.

The Department of National Highways revealed that two national highway Nos 15 (Pathankot-Kandla) and No 64 (Zirakpur-Dabwali) passed through Bathinda and Faridkot districts.

Though Mr Kundlas claimed that no liquor vend was located within 150 metres from the national highway on the Bajakhana-Gidderbaha stretch, a liquor vend was located at Jeeda village.

Mr Jaspinder Singh, ETO, pointed out that the Zirakpur-Dabwali road had been declared a national highway in the recent past and the same was not in the knowledge of the department. All the liquor vends located within 150 metres of the national highway would be shifted to suitable places, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Verma, also ordered the removal of four unauthorised liquor vends functioning in rural areas without any licence from the Excise authorities.

JALANDHAR: A number of liquor vends are located within 100 metres of the Jalandhar-Chandigarh state highway, in stark violation of the norms.

The Tribune survey revealed that the largest number of such vends was on the Jalandhar-Chandigarh road and their concentration was between Nawanshahr and Ropar, where a number of accidents had occurred allegedly due to presence of such establishments. Interestingly, most of these vends are 10 to 15 metres from the state highway. For example, there is a liquor vend at the Kariha village T-point, another was situated on the outskirts of Jadia, Garhi Kanungoan villages in Nawanshahr district. One such vend was near the busy Balachaur township byepass T-point, while a vend each was situated at Kathgarh bus stand and the Asron Bridge on the Balachaur-Chandigarh road. Gurdev Ram, a resident of Garhi Kanungoan village, said: “It is a matter of concern that despite a hue and cry, the number of vends on roads has been increasing without any check”.

LUDHIANA: Liquor vends along all major highways in the district are violating the orders of the Supreme Court that all such vends should be situated at least 150 metres away from the highway. A survey of the Ludhiana-Jagraon, Ludhiana-Khanna, Ludhiana-Jalandhar and Ludhiana-Chandigarh highways revealed that almost all vends alongside these roads were not more than 50-70 metres from the berm of the road.

While a liquor vend near Baddowal on the Ludhiana-Jagraon road is only 40 metres or so, the one near an octori post of the Municipal Corporation on the Ludhiana- Khanna road is located a couple of metres from the busy road. Interestingly, this vend is adjoining the octroi post from where hundreds of truckers and other commuters pass everyday.

At least three vends along the Ludhiana-Jalandhar highway are also located quite close to the road. Similar was the case with vends along the Ludhiana-Samrala stretch of the highway. A liquor vend near Neelon is situated less than 10 mtrs from the main highway. Inquires revealed that the vends had been relocated as per the prescribed limit after the court verdict but things went back to normal soon after.

ROPAR: The Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner, Mr Jarnail Singh, said the policy of specifying particular slots for vends had been abandoned. Now the area was allotted to liquor contractors and the number of vends was fixed in particular areas. The contractors had the discretion of deciding the places of liquor vends in the specified areas subject to certain conditions as these should not be within a periphery of 100 metres from schools, gurdwaras or national highways. When asked about the bars functioning in hotels and restaurants on the national highway, the AETC said some restaurants that had beer bar licences before the high court orders were issued were still functioning.

SANGRUR: As many as 24 liquor vends are situated on the national and state highways passing through this district. On the Patiala-Sangrur-Bathinda national highway, nine liquor vends are operational. These liquor vends are functioning at Channo, Nidampur, Balad Kalan, Roshanwala, Ghabdan, Badrukhan, Bahadurpur, Badbar and Harigarh villages. Besides, three liquor vends are located on the Mehlan-Dirba national highway at Maur, Sular Gharat and Khetla villages.

On the Sangrur-Ludhiana state highway, nine liquor vends are situated at Akoi Sahib, Ladda, Benra, Bhasaur, Sangala, Bhogiwal, Kup Kalan, Roheera and Jandali villages while two liquor vends are functioning at Kherri and Mehlan villages on the Sangrur-Mehlan state highway.

— With inputs from Prabhjot Singh (Chandigarh), Ashok Sethi and Rashmi Talwar (Amritsar), Chander Parkash (Bathinda), Varinder Singh (Jalandhar), Jupinderjit Singh (Ludhiana), Lalit Mohan (Ropar) and Sushil Goyal (Sangrur).


Teachers’ shortage hits medical college work
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 29
Once a premier medical institution of Punjab, the Government Medical College and Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, which was established in 1953, is today a shadow of its former self due to an acute shortage of senior teachers which has resulted in the closure of some departments and rendered a few others non-functional.

The college’s nephrology and cardiothoracic departments have closed down due to the inability of the state government to fill vacant posts following the retirement of doctors.

The Nephrology Department of the college has been non-functional for several years after the retirement of Dr Udham Singh, who was an Assistant Professor in the department. The hospital has two dialysis machines but these have been out of order for several years.

The Cardiothoracic Department is also virtually closed after the retirement of Dr S P S Bagga three years ago, putting an end to chest surgery in Rajindra Hospital. The functioning of the Cardiology Department has also been affected after its Professor and Head, Dr Manmohan Singh, took voluntary retirement a year ago. The department presently has only one Senior Lecturer and a Medical Officer who have to deal with the heavy workload in the OPD, besides attending to patients admitted to the hospital.

There are other departments also which are under-staffed. These include the Department of Paediatric Surgery, where Dr Janak Arora is the sole Professor. The Skin Department has only one Professor, Dr R.L.S. Walia, besides a Senior Resident. Meanwhile, there is a shortage of teachers in almost all departments of the college, including medicine, surgery and gynaecology departments, which have a shortage of one Professor each.

In the hospital, the Radiology Department has become non-functional due to the inability of the hospital in replacing the radioactive sources of its chemotherapy machine. The source, which costs around Rs 40 lakh, has to be replenished over a period of time and the hospital has been unable to get a new one since more than one year. Recently, the college authorities had made out a case for replacement of the source from the Bhabha Atomic Centre but the deal could not be struck due to the college’s inability to pay for the source in advance.

The hospital is unable to provide even basic facilities such as performing a CT scan or diagnosing a patient for thyroid as well as many other tests due to inavailability of reagents or other chemicals.

All this is happening even as the government, while increasing the fee structure in the hospitals attached with medical colleges, promised that the revenue generated would be used only for augmenting facilities in the institutions. As all the money generated from both the medical college and hospital first goes to the government, nearly Rs 8 crore is deposited with the government in the name of both institutions. This includes the money generated from NRI seats. As the institutions are unable to withdraw this money due to difficult purchase procedures, the hospital is not able to provide even basic emergency facilities and is short of even syringes, cotton and bandages. The medical college is unable to provide proper boarding facilities to students who have to live in cramped rooms which have not been repaired for years.


DDR against satta operator after video expose
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
After the expose of corruption in the police department through video-films, the Dehlon Police under the Jagraon Police District today registered a DDR (Daily Diary Report) against Bittu Chawla, for allegedly intimidating a witness of a murder case pending against him.

Bittu Chawla alias Jagjit Chawla was the main accused in the Bimla murder case registered by the Dehlon police on June 12, 2001. He is accused in the DDR of threatening witness, Karnail Singh in the case if he did not give a statement in his favour.

The name of the witness figures in the videofilm also. A police personnel promises Bittu Chawla that he will see to it that Karnail Singh deposes in the court in favour of him. The cop even claims that Karnail Singh was close to the police.

Bittu Chawla and Subash Katty came into limelight last week after they made a video-film showing several cops of Ludhiana police taking bribe and revealing secrets of alleged shady deals in the department suggesting the criminal police nexus in the district.

From day one, they have been making statements that they fear serious backlash from the police. Though Jagraon police chief Mukhwinder Singh Chhina denied pressure against the Satta Operators, it remains to be seen what the facts in the case were.

A copy of the DDR, of April 27 by Karnail Singh, a resident of Dullo Khurd village, near here, stated that he was one of the main witnesses in the murder case against Bittu Chawla. On April 27, 2003, Bittu Chawla allegedly called him up and threatened him. He claims in statement before the police that Bittu Chawla warned him of dire consequences and said “I will send you to the cremation ground as I had sent Bimla.”

The DDR further quotes Karnail Singh as claiming that Bittu Chawla said he had already taught a lesson to the Punjab Police, now it was the turn of people like him who dared to stand against him (Bittu).

Karnail Singh had demanded the cancellation of the bail given to Bittu Chawla in the case.

While Bittu Chawla and Subash Katty were untraceable and perhaps unaware of the case, Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, SSP Jagraon expressed surprise at the development when The Tribune sought his comments.

On verification from the Dehlon Police station, he admitted that the DDR was written. He denied that there was any ulterior motive behind the DDR or it was done to intimidate the two Satta Operators. He said the witness Karnail Singh had come on his own and the police has not registered any FIR but just a DDR.

He said the DDR meant that the police had got this information and if there was some future development confirming the report then suitable action could be taken.

He also claimed that Bittu Chawla would not be called for questioning or arrested on this complaint.

The Bimla Murder Case was one of the most reported murder cases in the region. The woman was allegedly murdered by Bittu Chawla and his aides. He however, had put the blame on another lottery trader, of the city. The lottery trader was acquitted of the charges later and subsequently, a case was registered against Bittu Chawla.

The case came into limelight after two years, last week, when a cop mentioned the case during conversation with Bittu Chawla and Subash Katty in the video-film. The cop was bribed and a deal was struck that Karnail Singh would speak in favour of Bittu Chawla.


Akali leader Bhunder’s kin booked
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, April 29
Mr Jagjit Singh Sidhu, a kin of senior Akali Leader and MLA, Sardulgarh, Balwinder Singh Bhunder and his associates were booked by the police here last evening for allegedly for violence over the possession of a piece of land.

Police sources said that Mr Sidhu, a former Superintendent of Police (SP) was booked under Sections 447, 336 and 120-B of the IPC and under Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act as some of his associates allegedly tried to take forcible possession of 18 acres of land from Jhanda Singh.

However, Jhanda Singh and his associates resisted Mr Sidhu and associates and forced them to flee. Jhanda Singh and his associates also damaged a car belonging to Mr Sidhu’s associates and also beat up some of them. Jhanda Singh and his associates also used firearms.

A case under Sections 336, 427, 323, 324 and 34 of the IPC was also registered against Jhanda Singh and his associates. Sukhwinder Singh and Jagga, two of the associates of Mr Sidhu and Jasbir Singh, one of the associates of Jhanda Singh were arrested. The police authorities had requested the SDM here to invoke Section 145 of CrP.C. on the piece of land to prevent any untoward incident.

Sources said that Mr Jagjit Singh Sidhu, father-in-law of Mr Bhunder’s two sons, was having a dispute with Jhanda Singh for ownership and possession of 18 acres land in Behman Jassa Singh village. On April 27, a group of people descended on that piece of land while Jhanda Singh and others were irrigating fields. They tried to resort to violence but when challenged they left the place.

Jhanda Singh and his associates beat up some of the accused, who had come to take possession of the land forcibly. Even the car used by the associates of Mr Sidhu was seized by them.

Mr Ashutosh, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, said that a case against Jhanda Singh and his associates was registered for violence and smashing the car belonging to the associates of Mr Sidhu. The police was investigating he added.


USA to take care of Iraq gurdwara
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab Government has received an ''interim reply'' from the US Embassy in New Delhi that due care would be taken of the historic gurdwara in Iraq. This is in response to a letter written to the US Ambassador by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who had expressed concern about the safety of the place and had sought US help to allow a visit by a Punjab delegation to undertake repair of the gurdwara set up in memory of Guru Nanak Dev.

Capt Amarinder Singh today ridiculed the statement of the National Minorities Commission Chairman, Mr Tarlochan Singh, who had said in New Delhi on Monday that there is no gurdwara in Iraq. Therefore, there is no question of any repair or construction of a gurdwara in Baghdad''.

The Chief Minister said a delegation led by Mr Ranjit Singh Kalha, a former Secretary in the Ministry of External Affairs, would soon visit Baghdad. He will be accompanied by technical experts from INTACH—Indian National Trust on Cultural Heritage. Punjab is awaiting permission in this connection.


Row over NCM chief’s statement
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, April 29
The statement of Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), that no Sikh shrine existed in Baghdad, sparked off a row in Panthic circles even as the Shriomani Akali Dal (Amritsar) has alleged that it is an attempt to distort Sikh history.

In a press note issued here today, Bhai Ram Singh, secretary of the SAD(A), said Mr Tarlochan Singh was misleading the Sikh Panth on this issue as there was concrete proof of the existence of a gurdwara in Baghdad. He claimed that the building of the Sikh shrine had been shown in the electronic media during the attack on Iraq.


Punjab to submit plan on economy revitalisation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Union Minister of Commerce, Mr Arun Jaitley, has asked Punjab to submit proposals to revitalise its industrial and agricultural economy. These proposals include setting up of infrastructure clusters of export-oriented goods from the state, agricultural export zones and encouraging the corporate sector to invest in agriculture and agro-based industry and avail of the tax rebate under the Exim policy. This was stated by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at a press conference here today.

Briefing the media about his visit to New Delhi yesterday, he said Ludhiana would have an export-oriented cluster, which would be one of the 10 proposed to be set up by the Centre in the country. Punjab would also set up agricultural export zones to give boost to its farm produce and products.

Referring to his meeting with the Attorney-General, the Chief Minister said he had placed the Punjab case on sharing of river waters before him, and Mr Jaitley. Punjab has already gone to the court on the issue. He said both showed a “sympathetic attitude” towards Punjab.

To a question he said he had asked the Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr N.S. Rattan, to prepare a proposal to raise a corpus to give financial help to eminent Punjabi writers, historians and other contributors to its culture and heritage. The government would give Rs 10,000 per month to selected or nominated persons till their death.


Dubey gets Excise, Mittal PWD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Even after the appointment of Mr Rajan Kashyap as the Chief Secretary he will continue to hold the charge of Irrigation and Power. The Punjab Government also cleared the decks today for Mr Sudhir Mittal to take over as Secretary, PWD, B and R, in addition to the charge of, Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities.

In the second change effected today, Mr A.K. Dubey will now be the Principal Secretary, Excise and Taxation.

Mr Dubey was holding the charge of Excise and Taxation after it was withdrawn from Mr Mukul Joshi in January.


Youth chained for over 2 yrs

Moga, April 29
A 20-year-old mentally challenged youth is struggling for freedom for the past two years as he has been chained to a cot by members of his family at their house at Paro Mehna village, about 12 km from here, on the Moga-Ludhiana road.

The cries of Jagir Singh, a retired Class IV employee of the Education Department, were audible at Khalsa College, close to his house, and a police station, only 30 yards from the place.

Ms Bhajan Kaur, his mother, said her son was mentally challenged since birth.

Despite undergoing treatment at several places, he had shown no improvement, she said.

Asked why he was tied to a cot, she said he used to run away from house and used to throw stones at passersby. “Seeing this behaviour of our child, we decided to chain him to a cot,” she said, adding that the youth was being given food regularly. PTI


Cross-examination of Jagman Singh deferred

Ropar, April 29
A local court today fixed May 10 as the next date of hearing in the disproporationate assets case against Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, former Chairman of the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC), as the cross-examination of public approver Jagman Singh remained inconclusive.

The counsel of Sidhu cross-examined the alleged tout of Sidhu in the PPSC recruitment scam, who later turned approver in this case, for more than two hours. The cross-examination of the prime witness of the Vigilance Department could not be completed.

The court of Special Judge Amrik Singh deferred the cross-examination to May 10 in the case. PTI


PPSC members: Akali leader sues Amarinder
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, April 29
Senior Akali leader, Mr Gurmeet Singh Matharu, today filed a civil suit against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the Chief Secretary, Punjab, seeking permanent injunction restraining them from appointing members to the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC).

In a suit filed in a local court Mr matharu said in order to get the Majority decision in his favour, the Chief Minister would appoint to the PPSC two more persons who are his loyalists.

Giving details, he added that the four members who were appointed by the SAD government were not cooperating with the PPSC Chairman, Lt-Gen Surjit Singh (retd), therefore the Chief Minister needed more members in the PPSC to “strengthen the hands of the Chairman”.

Mr Matharu stated that he came to know that in March this year, the Punjab Government had approved a proposal moved by the Personnel Department to increase the number of PPSC members by two.


Dalit boycott: BJP flays govt ‘inaction’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 29
Criticising the state government for providing “false” information about action taken on the recommendations of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes on the “Dalit boycott” issue, the BJP has decided to raise the matter in the next session of Parliament to force the Punjab Government to initiate action against the guilty.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, the vice-president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Vijay Sampla, and the president of the Dalit Action Committee, Mr Chanan Ram, alleged that the Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Y.S. Ratra, had provided false information during a hearing on April 28 pertaining to action taken with regard to the social boycott of Dalit at Talhan village, near here, about three months ago. They alleged that the Punjab Government had claimed before the commission that Kewal Singh and Bhupinder Singh of Talhan village had been expelled from the village for six months as ordered by the commission, but they were still residing in the village.

Despite recommendations to register a case against the then SHO of the Sardar police station, the state government had failed to initiate action in this regard, the leaders said. They alleged that those who were booked for using derogatory language and inciting tension in the village had not been arrested.


Vidhan Sabha function on May 2
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha will wind up its year-long golden jubilee celebrations at a special function on May 2.

On the occasion, at least eight retired secretaries and 104 other retired employees will be honoured by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Giving details of the concluding session of the celebrations, which began on May 2 last year, the Vidhan Sabha Secretary, Mr N.S. Mavi, said a who’s who of Vidhan Sabha members from 1952 till date would be released alongside another booklet giving thumbnail sketches of 39 MLAs, who laid down their lives for the unity and integrity of the country.

Mr Mavi said efforts were being made to request the Lok Sabha Secretary-General, Mr G.C. Malhotra, to grace the occasion.

Seasoned politicians, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, Chowdhary Jagjit Singh, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Umrao Singh, Mr Satyapal Dang, and Capt Rattan Singh of the INA, have been requested to speak on the occasion.


Avinash Rai to conduct BJP poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The high command of the BJP has appointed Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, a party MLA from Garhshankar, as returning officer to conduct the organisational elections in Punjab. The party has planned to complete its organisational elections by June-end.


Suspected SARS patient flees
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 29
A suspected SARS patient fled from the Civil Hospital here.

Dr G.S. Dhillon, said the patient, Mr L.M. Sharma, visited the hospital yesterday, complaining of cough, temperature and breathlessness. The doctor said he directed the patient, believed to be from the Kahnuwan area in this district, to get himself admitted to the hospital. However, the patient instead of getting himself admitted to the isolation ward managed to escape.

Dr Dhillon said he had informed the Senior Medical Officer in this regard.


Irregularities found in oil purchase
Tribune News Service

Patiala, April 29
The vigilance department of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has, in an interim report conducted on the purchase of Napthenic base transformer oil for the year 2001-02, stated that the purchase was not made on merit and smacked of favouritism.

The vigilance department had begun a probe into the purchase in March this year. According to the report, which has been sent by Board Additional Director General of Police (Vigilance) Lalit Bhatia, the purchase orders were preponed and even split after the opening of the tender to benefit one particular firm.

The report said that rates of Apar Industries, Mumbai, were found to be the lowest at Rs 39,581 per kilo litre, while Savita Chemical Limited, also of Mumbai, had quoted a rate of Rs 42,701 per kilo litre. It said the purchase order of 720 kilo litres was split by placing an order for the supply of 420 Kl from M/s Apar and 300 KL from M/s Savita with directions that the latter firm would supply the oil at the rates quoted by M/s Apar. It said the very purpose of inviting open tenders had been defeated .


18 Cong leaders sentenced
Our Correspondent

Malout, April 29
A local court here today sentenced 18 senior Congress leaders, including the sitting block president, in connection with a case registered against them during the 1998 Lok Sabha elections when they had allegedly gheraoed a police station.

Sources said the court of Mr Nirmal Singh, Additional Civil Judge, found these leaders guilty and sentenced Mr Baldev Kumar Gagneja, the then block president, and Mr Ved Parkash Khera, senior Congress leader, to one year’s imprisonment besides fining them Rs 3,600 each.

The sources said during the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, the local police had picked up one of the polling agents of the Congress for Ward No. 10, Mr Jaswant Singh, after the polling was over on February 16.

The sources said to protest against the alleged police excesses and to secure the release of their polling agent, the Congress leaders, led by the then block president, Mr Gagneja, staged a dharna in front of the police station.

They said the police authorities allegedly acted under pressure of the then ruling politicians and registered a case against the protest Congress leaders. The FIR had named these leaders under Section 147, 186, 188, 353 and 160 of IPC and a case was registered on February 17, 1998.

The sources said the court also sentenced three women leaders of the party, namely Mrs Inderjeet Kaur, Mr Amarjit Kaur and Mrs Chhindo to six months imprisonment and fined them Rs 2,600 each.

The other leaders who were sentenced to six months’ imprisonment and fined Rs 2,600 each included Mr Dharmpal Arora, Mr Amarinder Nannu, Mr Satpal, Mr Krishan Lal, Mr Sohan Lal, Mr Ramesh Kumar, Mr Darshan Lal, Mr Bawa Ram, Mr Uday Chand, Mr Prem Kumar Gulshan (sitting municipal councillor), Mr Om Parkash Kichhi, Mr Pooran Chand Sharma and Mr Hari Chand.

The sources added that all these leaders had been granted bail by the same court on a personal bail bond of Rs 10,000 each and had been allowed 30 days’ time to appeal against the decision.


'Trust officials manipulated records to favour influential’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, April 29
Following the alleged involvement of senior officers in the payment of compensation of the Improvement Trust land reported in The Tribune today, the All India Terrorist Victim Association alleged that records were manipulated to benefit influential persons in the allotment of shop-cum-flats earlier offered to a terrorist victim.

Chairman of the Association Dr B.R. Hastir addressing a press conference today produced documentary evidence and pointed out that shop-cum-flat number 11 located in the District Shopping Complex at Ranjit Avenue was allotted to Thakar Singh son of Hardit Singh, a riot victim, who was issued red card number 2390, through draw of lots on July 16, 1986.

The association has already brought this to the notice of Minister for Local Self Government Chaudhary Jagjit Singh who had assured him of a probe to fix responsibility in the scandal.

Dr Hastir added that after the allotment Thakar Singh returned to Delhi and did not complete formalities to get the ownership. According to government rules any person failing to pay the amount within the stipulated period, the allotment stood cancelled and as such the allotment to Thakar Singh was cancelled on July 24, 1989 since he failed to comply with the conditions.

He added that the officers of the Improvement Trust allegedly connived with property dealers in 1991 and managed to trace Thakar Singh and made him sign a power of attorney in favour of Dilbag singh son of Mohan Singh of Garden Colony, Amritsar. Later the plot was sold for a huge profit on April 12, 1996 to Inderjit Kaur wife of Charanjit Singh, a businessman through power of attorney.

Producing a copy of the original sale deal for Rs 72.60 lakh, Dr Hastir said that the officers involved in this scandal claimed huge amount for helping the property dealers to acquire the shop-cum-flat allotted to a riot victim ignoring norms and guidelines issued by the government.

He added that the present value of the plot was around Rs 1.5 crore which had been sold for a song while the government suffered a huge financial loss due to officers of the Improvement Trust. He urged the government to order high-level probe to unearth this scandal.


Police ‘torture’ leaves him deaf, dumb
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, April 29
A city resident allegedly lost his hearing power after a police official slapped him nearly 70 times on his face and head.

Raman Malhotra, a resident of New Shivaji Nagar, here, was admitted in the CMC hospital and was not able to speak or hear. Hospital sources said he had received serious injuries to internal ear following alleged beating.

Raman was not in a position to narrate the sequence of events, his elder brother Pawan Kumar, alleged that his brother was subjected to police torture. He claimed some officials of the Division No. 1 police station picked him up on Monday evening. They had a dispute with a family in the city and talks of compromise were on he added.

He claimed some cops led by an ASI came to their house and took Raman away. He was allegedly kept in illegal confinement and beaten up. Pawan said an ASI slapped him more than 70 times. The man was admitted in CMC hospital today evening.

Mr Harish Kumar, SP (City-I), said he was unaware of the incident but would look into it.


Brahmin Sabha distributes school uniforms
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, April 29
Mr Darshan Singh Bawa, DEC (P), while addressing a social function at Government Elementary School, Raillon, said today that social organisations could play an important role in the development of a healthy society.

The function was organised by the Brahmin Sabha, Sirhind, to distribute school uniforms among 40 needy students.

He urged the social and religious organisations to donate liberly for schools instead of constructing temples and gurdwaras.

Addressing the gathering Mr R.N. Sharma, president, Brahman Sabha, said education was must for the development of the society. He said the sabha had decided to bear all expenses of poor, needy and deserving students. He urged the students to shun drugs and respect their parents. He also highlighted the achievements of the sabha.

Chacha Ram Murti Sood, a social worker, Wazir Singh, Sarpanch, Kulwant Kaur, president, Mahila Mandal, Mangal Singh, headmaster and Khushwant Thapar also addressed the gathering.

The mid-day meal scheme for primary students was also inaugurated on the occasion.


Notice issued

Chandigarh, April 29
Claiming to have been hurt following the alleged entry of Punjab Police personnel in the Golden Temple precincts with their shoes on in November last year, a Sangrur resident today sought directions for the registration of a first information report against the “culprits”. The police had allegedly entered the Temple precints just prior to the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee elections.

Taking up the petition filed by Mr Baljit Singh, a Division Bench of the High Court issued notice of motion to the respondents. The case will now come up for further hearing on July 8.

Quoting newspaper reports, Baljit Singh had added that his religious sentiments were hurt after seeing the photographs as he held the Golden Temple “in highest esteem”. Arguing on his behalf, Mr Baljit Singh’s counsel had asserted that a complaint was also filed before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission for action against the “culprits”. It was disposed of on November 15 last year.

Rice shellers

Taking up a petition seeking probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation into the nexus between the rice sheller owners and the Food and Supplies Department staff, the High Court today issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents.

In his petition, Ferozepore resident Sham Lal Bitta had earlier alleged that the staff was flouting government instructions regarding the allotment of paddy to defaulting rice shellers.


Commenting on fragile relationships, Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the High Court today ruled that “normal wear and tear of married life, if not taken in proper perspective, at times assumed back-breaking proportions and provided a welcome tool to hasty couples for bringing to an end their matrimonial obligations”.

Dismissing an appeal filed by a Ludhiana resident challenging the dismissal of his petition for dissolution of marriage by a decree of divorce, Mr Justice Dutt observed: “In this case, it appears that both the husband and the wife had been overreacting to the hiccups of normal life and the magnitude of the reaction was so great that it had precipitated into the initiation of criminal proceedings by the wife and the present proceedings by the husband”.


Road cleared of encroachments
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 29
Municipal employees today removed encroachments on the Bathinda-Goniana road.

The traders had been warned against raising illegal structures by the authorities using public address system. The drive was launched in a phased manner and four police parties, led by senior officers, were on the task. As the drive from the bus stand started, a few traders in other parts of the city removed encroachments fearing action. Yesterday the authorities removed encroachments on the Bhatti road.

A senior officer said a section of residents and traders argued that the encroachments had not been causing any hindrance to the smooth flow of traffic. Some shopkeepers on the Guru Kashi area entered into an argument with a police official and downed the shutters of their shops. The authorities took away some signboards, glowsigns and advertising material.


Kiln owner told to free ‘bonded’ workers
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, April 29
District Magistrate Rakesh Verma has ordered immediate release of labourers reportedly kept as bonded labourers by a brickkiln owner in Aludipur village. The matter was brought to his notice by representatives of the Gramin Mazdoor Union and the Kriti Mazdoor Union.

The labourers told the SDM that six families, all residents of Saini village in Nakodar, were employed at a kiln here after being given Rs 2000 as advance payment, but were not being allowed to leave even thought the work had stopped.

The brickkiln owner was paying them nominal wages and if they expressed their desire to leave, they were told about the heavy interest on the Rs 2000 given to them as advance money.

The brickkiln owner, on the other hand, maintained that he had given Rs 70,000 to the labourers and had never stopped them from working for others.

Mr Verma stated as per the provisions of the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, any labourer working on nominal wages (below the minimum wages faxed by the Deputy Commissioner) against advance payment would be termed as “bonded” and action taken against the violator of law.

He said he had directed the SDM to submit a report within two days.


Parkash utsav’ celebrations end
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
According to a fax message received the eight-day-long 400th anniversary celebrations of “parkash utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib concluded at Gurdwara Gurjot Parkash Sahib, Chicago (USA) yesterday from the Guru Nanak Mission of America here today , the celebrations, which started with “ardas” by Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, concluded late last evening after a special kirtan darbar.

The Jathedar of Sri Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and many Sikh scholars from all over the world attended the function. Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti appreciated the work of Sant Daljit Singh, founder of the mission. He urged the congregation at Gurdwara Gurjot Parkash Sahib to do daily “paath” of Guru Granth Sahib.

It was the biggest function of Sikhs in the history of the USA. It was for the first time that three Jathedars of Sikh Takhts from India participated. Besides nine ‘ragi’ jathas, five Sikh scholars, three Jathedars (Akal Takht, Kesgarh Sahib, Patna Sahib), two chief persons of international Sikh organisations — the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and the Patna Sahib Parbandak Committee, and thousands of Sikhs participated in the samagam, the message said.


Laddi is ZP Chairman
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 29
Mr Balwinder Singh Laddi, Zila Parishad member from the Dyalgarh zone, and Maj Amardeep Singh, Zila Parishad member from the Zaffarwal zone, both of the Congress, were today unanimously elected Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of the Zila Parishad. Mr K.C. Meena, Additional Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, were present.

The post of the Chairman is reserved for the SC candidates and the Vice-Chairman for the general category candidates. The Chairman is believed to be a close confidant of Mr Ashwani Sekhri and Mr Tripat Rajinder Singh Bajwa, both ministers in the Punjab Government.


86-yr-old takes bypass in stride
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, April 29
Eightysix-year-old freedom fighter Chain Singh Chain is fit again after undergoing beating heart bypass surgery here in the last week of February. Such an operation is usually not performed on the aged.

Mr Chain is a member of the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgaar Hall. He had spearheaded the kisan morcha movement in Lahore in 1939. A senior leftist leader, he had spent four years in jail during British rule.

Mr Chain had been suffering from a heart ailment for the past couple of years. After the operation, his recovery rate was good.

“Now, I am fit. I am doing all my chores myself. I am walking and feeling agile again. It is a nice feeling to be on your own once again,” said a jubilant Mr Chain.


Red Cross-run computer centres closed
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 29
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner-cum-president, District Red Cross Society. Mansa, has ordered to close all eight computer centres being run by the society in the district from tomorrow. The Managing Directors of the centres have been asked to deposite records and others items to Mr Balbir Singh, District Training Supervisor, Saint John Ambulance Association, Mansa.

According to information, the society was running the centres with 60 seats in each centre for the SC students. The District Rural Development Agency was to pay Rs 500 per student per month to each centre through the society. Out of this, Rs 400 was to be adjusted by the centre as tuition fee and Rs 100 to be paid as stipend to the students. However none of the centres was having 60 SC students and each centre was claiming the fee from the society showing fake enrolments. This practice was going on for the post six years as reported by the Mansa Computer Professionals Association to Mr Ahluwalia. The Deputy Commissioner said a few centres were showing bogus entries of SC candidates just to get government funds. He admitted that some Red Cross officials were also allegedly involved in this racket, who have been terminated from services.


Fire destroys IRB tents
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 29
A large number of cots, clothes and household items, cash and two big tents were destroyed when fire broke out today in the tents at the India Reserve Battalion (IRB) headquarters at Ladda Kothi, about 6 km from here.

Sources in the fire office said here this evening that no one was injured. The trainees were attending classes when the fire broke out. They said the fire was brought under control in half an hour. The cause of the fire was not known.


CPM to launch stir on May 1
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 29
The Punjab state committee of the CPM led by Mr Mangat Ram Pasla has decided to launch stir against recent fee hike in government educational institutions on May Day.

In a press ‘note issued here today, Mr Pasla alleged that a mass movement would be launched to protest against the ‘anti-people’ policies being pursued by the Capt Amarinder Singh government.


Martyr cremated
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, April 29
Kabul Singh (24) of the Sikh Light Infantry, who was killed while fighting terrorists at Khumrewal village in the Kupwara sector in Jammu and Kashmir on April 26, was cremated at his native village Kandhwala Hazar Khan with full state and military honours today.

A large number of villagers were present. On behalf of Army Commanders and the Corps Commander, wreaths were laid by the Station Commander. The Army Guard sounded the ceremonial last post.


Cut in holidays of subordinate courts flayed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, April 29
The All-India Lawyers Union (AILU) has passed a resolution condemning the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court to curtail 19 holidays in subordinate courts. This was stated by Mr Kushwant Rai Joshi, national secretary and acting president of the state unit of the AILU, while talking to newspersons here today.

Mr Joshi alleged that double standard was being adopted by the high court. While holidays of the high court have been kept intact, the holidays of subordinate courts had been curtailed substantially. He said this had been done despite the fact that subordinate courts had a six-day week against the five-day week of the high court.

Mr Joshi also alleged that the decision to curtail holidays in subordinate courts would not serve the purpose as holidays still existed in the executive. With magistrates and commissioners enjoying holidays, the work of subordinate courts would suffer, he said.

He stated that judicial work in subordinate courts was getting affected due to the failure to appoint judicial magistrates. In Ropar, four of the five posts of Judicial Magistrate are lying vacant, he said.


SGPC opposed to casinos
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
The “dharam parchar” committee of the SGPC has opposed the opening of casinos in Punjab. The committee has also passed a resolution in this connection.

The SGPC, in a statement here today, said the opening of casinos would promote gambling in the state. It was an anti-people decision which should be withdrawn immediately. The committee is headed by the President of the SGPC, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar.

The SGPC has also sought a ban on the open sale of liquor in the state.

Meanwhile, the next meeting of the committee will be held here on May 9. It has also decided to organise a “dhadi durbar” at Fatehgarh Sahib on May 12 to celebrate the day as victory day of Banda Singh Bahadur over the Sirhind Fort.


Punjab FCI staff hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
FCI employees from various parts of Punjab held a day-long dharna in front of the regional office of the FCI here today in protest against the imposition of heavy penalties on them and the issuance of charge sheets to a large number of workers.

Mr Megh Raj, regional secretary of the union, said about 50 per cent of the 5500 FCI employees in Punjab had been issued charge sheets on one pretext or the other.

Certain employees had been issued 10 charge sheets or even more. The protesters urged the management to withdraw the charge sheets and revoke the penalties. Another union leader, Mr S.S. Chatha, said while the management was punishing the employees, it had failed to frame norms on storage of foodgrains and transit losses. No steps had been taken to improve security at godowns. The union demanded that watch and ward employees should be recruited on a regular basis.

It also urged the management that the dependents of those employees, who had died in harness, should be given jobs.

It also wanted a five-day week on the pattern followed by the FCI in Delhi.


Wheat procurement ‘unsatisfactory’
Our Correspondent

Mansa, April 29
Despite the claims of the district administration, the procurement of wheat in 103 purchase centres in the district is not upto the mark. There are no toilets, drinking water and space for farmers to rest.

The wheat, filled in gunny bags, is lying in the open in all purchase centres in the district. It has not being lifted for several days. Due to this, there is hardly any space for fresh wheat for auction. The labourers are worried as they have been sitting idle and have not been getting daily wages as they have no work.

A total of 65,000 bags are lying at Malkon village, 50,000 bags at Sherkhanwala village and 30,000 bags at Kakamwala village. Mr Jaswinder Singh Walia, Deputy Director, Food and Supplies Department, said the wheat bags would be lifted shortly.


Loudspeakers banned
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, April 29
In a bid to check noise pollution, the District Magistrate, Mr Ashok Gupta, today imposed a ban on use of loudspeakers, orchestra and DJ sound systems till June 27.

The order said it had been noticed that loudspeakers, orchestra and other high noise producing music instruments were being used at marriage palaces and religious places in violation of the Punjab Instrument Control of Noise Act, 1956.

The act specified that no such instrument could be played between 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. without the permission of the authorities concerned.


Rs 7 cr MC budget passed
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, April 29
The Municipal Committee here passed Rs 7 crore for 2003-2004 today. Income is to be generated from octroi, house tax, water supply and sewerage tariff, rent of buildings and other sources. A sum of Rs 3.58 crore will be spent on development while the remaining amount has earmarked for establishment and contingency.

President of the Committee Raman Bahl said that the Municipal Committee would give priority to water supply and sewerage, lighting and pavement drains and streets. The committee proposed to purchase new tanker, truck to collect garbage and tractor trailer.

Earlier, Mr Parshotam Lal Sharma, alias Puchi elected from Onkar Nagar Mohalla was administered the oath of office.


Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 29
Mr Mukhtiar Singh, Mr Sukhdev Singh and Ms Nisha Rana, Deputy Registrars, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, have been promoted as Joint Registrars, Cooperative Societies. Their promotions have been made on the recommendations of the departmental promotion committee of the Cooperation Department.


Travel agent arrested
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, April 29
The police has arrested Sardara Ram, a travel agent of Dharamkot, under Section 420 of the IPC for swindling a youth of Sabzi Mandi here of Rs 7 lakh with a promise to send him to Italy. But he was made to shuttle between China and Thailand. It was learnt today that Harbans Singh had alleged that his family had to sell even their house and other property for raising money for sending his younger brother to Italy.

He added that initially Rs 4.70 lakh was given to the agent. But his brother was sent to Indonesia instead of Italy. When he protested against it, the agent demanded Rs 1.50 lakh more for sending the complainant’s brother to Italy. However, even after the payment of the said amount, the complainant’s brother was sent to Thailand, then to China and back to Thailand where he was arrested. The agent got Rs 75000 more for securing the release of the brother of the complainant, it was alleged. After remaining in Thailand for 11 months complainant’s brother has now returned said Harbans Singh. Kapurthala SSP RN Dhoke ordered the registration of a case against the agent who has been arrested.


Four booked in suicide case
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, April 29
Manni, a woman residing in the local Mohalla Nanaksar, Ravinder Singh, Vimal Kumar, alias Babba, and Balwinder Singh have been booked under Sections 306 and 34 of the IPC by the city police station in connection with the suicide committed by Yogesh Kumar, alias Gabbar.

Police sources told this correspondent here today that Yogesh Kumar had illicit relations with Manni, who called him on the phone at her house yesterday. Following heated exchanges with Ravinder Singh, with whom Manni was living, and Vimal Kumar, Yogesh consumed some tablets, which he had purchased from Balwinder Singh, owner of the local Ujjal Medical Store. Yogesh died on the sot and the place was locked up by Manni, Ravinder and Vishal Kumar. Vishal and Balwinder have been arrested, while Manni and Ravinder Singh have absconded.

Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, told this correspondent that Manni had been living with Ravinder Singh and indulging in flesh trade.


Withdraw medical colleges’ fee hike: IMA, PCMSA
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, April 29
The Indian Medical Association (IMA) and the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA), Punjab units have criticised hike in fee for undergraduate and postgraduate courses in the medical colleges of Punjab and decision to discontinue stipend to those doing internship and postgraduate courses.

Dr Surinder Singla, state general secretary of the Punjab IMA and the PCMSA, said here today that this decision of the government seemed to provide opportunities of medical education only to the children of wealthy families and prevent talented students not in a position to afford the hiked fee, from getting admission in medical colleges.

Dr Singla said this “anti-medical profession” and “anti-people” decision would hit the future of many talented doctors, unable to pay hiked fee or unable to do postgraduate studies without stipend. He said recently state working committee of the IMA had also urged the Punjab Chief Minister to withdraw this decision.

Dr Singla said the IMA felt that making medical education costly might force many future doctors to adopt “unethical medical practices” in a big way.

The PCMSA has also written to the Punjab Chief Minister, and the Minister for Medical Education and Research, Punjab, to withdraw this decision.


Handa PCCTU dist chief
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, April 29
The president of the district chapter of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), Prof Y.R. Handa has been re-elected for the fifth time in a row.

Prof Shinder Pal Singh of TPD College, Rampura Phul, was elected district secretary of the union.

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