Sunday, May 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PCCTU poll: ruling group a house divided
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Disquiet pervades the ruling group of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU), which goes to the polls at Jalandhar on May 11. The union general house will meet there a day earlier to deliberate on the annual report (2002-03) of the general secretary. The meeting is likely to generate a lot of heat if the split in the office-bearers and a fierce poll campaign are any indication, say sources.

Incidentally, the first two phases of the elections stand completed. In the first phase, 450 delegates were elected in all the 172 colleges. In the second phase, all 17 district councils were constituted. In the third and final phase, now office-bearers and 13 executive members will be elected on May 11.

Reports say that the present ruling group, manifest in different forms and combinations, has been calling the shots for almost three decades. It is, perhaps, for the first time that its internal strife has become so pronounced, making horizontal and vertical divisions discernible. There is a virtual revolt against the present president, Mr Sukhdev Singh Hundal, and the general secretary, Dr V.K. Tewari. While Mr Hundal is being opposed by his close friend and past general secretary, Mr R.S. Brar, for the post of president (2003-04); Dr Tewari has in Dr Jagwant Singh, again a friend, an opponent for the post of general secretary.

The basic reason for the split, say insiders, is the ‘’lacklustre’’ performance of the present team. It is alleged that it has failed to function in a ‘’transparent’’ manner. Also, alleges the break-away group, more often than not, the ruling leaders were invariably taken for a ride by the government on several contentious and key issues effecting the teachers, across all the 172 colleges. This, they say, was evident from the repeated calls given for strikes or demonstrations or boycott of examinations, etc, which were all later withdrawn on mere assurances given by the government. The “on-now, off-again” meetings with the Chief Minister had sent a signal down the ranks that neither the leadership nor the government was serious about the issues involved. What are the key issues on which the PCCTU has faced the split?

The major unresolved issues, say sources, revolve around 95 per cent grant-in-aid to the non-government colleges and the proposed 10 per cent cut on this grant. Contrary to an assurance by the minister concerned, so far, there is no gazette notification to confirm that the government had withdrawn the proposed 10 per cent cut.

The non-implementation of the Act passed by the Punjab Assembly on March 30, 1999, had included pension-cum-gratuity and other post-retirement benefits to the teachers. Its non-implementation has made the teachers restive, who blame this on bureaucratic delays and political machination. The other issues include non-payment of recommended pay grade (Rs 14,940 basic, per month, at par with senior selection scale for lecturers) to DPEs and college librarians, denial of third promotion to senior teachers with 19 to 36 years of service, who are not being given recommended grade of Rs 16,400-Rs 20,900. About 3,000 teachers, say sources, have already crossed the upper grade limit of Rs 18,300 and are not getting any increment.

The union general house is likely to take up the issue of ad hoc or temporary college teachers who are employed on a fixed honorarium of Rs 3,500 to Rs 6,500 per month, against the normal salary of Rs 13,000, per month. At least 2,000 plus such ad hoc teachers are engaged, constituting 30 per cent of the college teachers. All are relieved in February-March every year. They are not members of the PCCTU as per the union constitution.

Another factor expected to dominate the meeting is the silence of the PCCTU leadership on the fee hike. This, teachers say, will adversely affect rural colleges as well as urban poor.

Meanwhile, a leaflet war is on in these elections, with both groups making claims, counter claims, trading charges and justifying their respective positions on issues involved.


Steps to provide quality education
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 3
Mr Khushhal Bahl, Education Minister, talking to mediapersons here today said efforts were afoot to provide quality education in the state. The rationalisation process in this regard had been set in, he said.

Mr Bahl said 4,500 posts of teacher during the SAD-BJP regime had been shifted from rural to urban areas. As a result, the strength of students in rural schools had fallen. He said 15,000 rural committees had been constituted to look after the working of the rural schools. The Head of a school had been assigned the job of supervision of these committees and asked to report to the department.

Mr Bahl said nearly 3 lakh students from poor families did not attend school as records available tot he department indicate. The Government of India under “Sarb Sikhya Abhiyan” aimed to have total literacy in the country by 2010. The Punjab Government had distributed Rs 129 crore under this campaign during current year.

Mr Bahl said it was unfortunate that the SAD-BJP government during its fifth year did not deposit 15 per cent of its share in the campaign and the state government was deprived of an instalment of Rs 150 crore approximately. The step delayed total literacy in the state by a year, he said.

He said grading of schools would be done in three categories. The schools designated as grade 1 would be given incentive and the schools falling in grade C punished.

The minister said it was unfortunate that during vigilance raids in this district certain absentees had been reported. He warned such officials saying that strict action would be taken against them.

Mr Bahl said the process to know the number of vacancies in the schools had been started. Their number was expected to exceed 5000 and these would be filled on merit this year, he added.


12 schools found locked during raids
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
In order to check absenteeism in government schools, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau conducted checking of 502 schools and found 246 teachers and other employees absent from duty. As many as 12 schools were found locked and the entire staff absent.

The bureau in a statement said here today that the raids were conducted simultaneously throughout the state between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. As many as 36 teachers were found in schools in Moga district.


Tampering with doctor’s service book: report sought
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 3
The Principal of the medical college, Dr P.S. Bedi, has sought a report from the Civil Surgeon whether the district TB Officer, Dr Mittar Pal Devgan has got his service book tampered with in connivance with members of the staff with a view to eliminate the evidence of two simultaneous government jobs (medical officer at Gurdaspur and house job in the family ward of an Amritsar hospital) in 1978.

Earlier, Dr Parbodh Kumar Kakkar, Professor, Pathology, Government Medical College, had written to the Principal that certain entries in the service book of Dr Devgan had been incorrectly signed under his name by some vested interests. Dr Bedi said he had also sought an explanation from Dr Kakkar as to why had he kept silent.

When contacted, Dr Devgan refuted the charge that he had got his service book tampered with. He claimed that on the basis of an inquiry report the Medical Superintendent, Dr H.S. Gill, had given him a clean chit.

Dr Kakkar, when contacted, said he could not issue any statement without the permission of the Principal. He said the Principal had directed all officials not to issue any statement to the press without his permission.

Dr Devgan asserted that he should not be held responsible as the service books were always in the custody of officials. He said a case had been filed on the basis of the inquiry conducted by senior officials of the department.

In a complaint, Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president of the All-India Youth Association, sought immediate action against Dr Devgan. Mr Sultanwind alleged that Dr Devgan had applied for a house job in 1978 to the Medical Superintendent, Amritsar and was selected on January 13, 1978, and continued till June 30, 1978.

He further alleged that Dr Devgan had completed the house job and had obtained the certificate during the period he was working as government medical officer in Gurdaspur district. “In his complaint, Mr Sultanwind alleged that Dr Devgan had got the evidence of two simultaneous jobs erased by tampering with the service records in connivance with the staff at the Civil Surgeon’s office, the Principal of the medical college and Dr Kakkar.”

Dr Devgan alleged that an employee of the Health Department, Mr Amrit Lal Jain, was behind the filing of false reports against him. He alleged that a case of fraud had been registered against Mr Jain for using letter heads of ‘baseless organisations’ for filing complaints against him.

However, Mr Jain said the FIR had been quashed on an order of the Punjab and Haryana High Court as the complaint of Dr Devgan had been found to be baseless. Mr Jain alleged that he had been receiving threatening calls from Dr Devgan for highlighting corruption in the department.


Jathedars visit Sikh Dharma headquarters
Tribune News Service

The Jathedars of three Sikh Takhts and other members of the contingent at the headquarters of Sikh Dharma International in New Mexico, USA.
The Jathedars of three Sikh Takhts and other members of the contingent at the headquarters of Sikh Dharma International in New Mexico, USA.

Chandigarh, May 3
A contingent of jathedars from Punjab visited the Sikh Dharma headquarters in Espanola, New Mexico, last week, an e-mail from Sikh Dharma International to The Tribune said. Included in the contingent were Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar of Akal Takht, Amritsar; Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Takht Sri Harmandir Patna Sahib; Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar of Keshgarh Sahib, Anandpur Sahib; Giani Ranjit Singh, Head Granthi of Sisganj Gurdwara, Delhi; Mr Bhajan Singh Walia, general secretary of the DGMC, Delhi; and Mr Prithipal Singh, personal assistant to the Jathedar of Akal Takht.

The distinguished guests received flowers from children and witnessed gatka performances with cries of ‘‘Bole so nihal’’. Afterwards, Yogi Harbhajan Singh Khalsa welcomed them.

Later in the evening, the sangat of Hacienda de Guru Ram Das joined the guests in a gurdwara service. After kirtan, Dr Balkar Singh, Professor of Punjabi University Centre in Espanola, introduced the guests and each one was honoured with a siropa.

Giani Vedanti said that he was happy that the Khalsa was progressing in the West, ‘‘Guru Gobind Singh took the Khalsa in his own image, and I am seeing the Guru’s image in you’’.

He offered prayers that the sangat should ‘‘continue to be blessed with the love of the Guru, love of the shabad and love of the Khalsa’’. He ended by saying, ‘‘you are missionaries and you are in the Sikh spirit. However, I am expecting a lot from you. May you impart the Khalsa spirit to your children as well as those around you’’.


Exhibition on Sikhism in USA

Amritsar, May 3
An exhibition on Sikhism held in Wright State University, Dayton, Ohio in the USA, created awareness about the Sikh faith and culture.

About 35 photographs were sent by Dr Hardip Singh Deep, Assistant Professor, Medical College, here, as member of the Amritsar Vikas Manch. The exhibition was held to clear misconceptions and mistaken identity under which Sikhs were targets of the hate crime besides expose the rich culture traditions, life and religion of the Sikhs. OC


Statements of Badungar, Tarlochan condemned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, chief adviser of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha and former president of the municipal council, has demanded that Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, and Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Minority Commission, should be called to the Akal Takht for giving misguiding and false statements regarding a gurdwara at Baghdad in Iraq.

Mr Gill, while talking to this correspondent, today said that the statements of Mr Badungar and Mr Tarlochan Singh that there was no gurdwara in Baghdad were politically motivated. He said it was a shame that Mr Badungar and Mr Tarlochan Singh were not aware about the historic gurdwara constructed in memory of Guru Nanak.

“Those who claimed to be protecting the rights of Sikhs and guiding them about Sikhism gave false statements just because a Congress Chief Minister took the initiative for the repair of the gurdwara,” said Mr Gill.

He said it was sad that Mr Tarlochan Singh and Mr Badungar did not pay attention to their jobs, rather they were involving themselves in politics. The ignorance of the SGPC chief about the Sikh history was due to the fact that the presidentship of the supreme body of Sikhs had become a political post in place of religious one, he added.

Mr Gill said that it had become clear from a letter by the Iraqi government about the safety of the gurdwara in Baghdad that the so-called leaders of Sikhs were misguiding the Sikh Sangat.

He said the Sri Guru Singh Sabha would hold a function in the city soon to honour Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh for making efforts to repair the gurdwara.


Dal (A): punish Tarlochan Singh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 3
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has appealed to Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to summon Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman, National Minorities Commission, for presenting distorted version of the Sikh history.

In a press note here yesterday Mr Harbir Singh Sandhu, Secretary Akali Dal (Amritsar) condemned the Chairman’s statement regarding the status of gurdwaras in Baghdad. He said it was a fact that Guru Nanak visited Baghdad and a gurdwara was there in the Iraqi capital. He said even Giani Zail Singh, had written to Iraqi President for the renovation of that gurdwara. However, Mr Tarlochan Singh was following the BJP line and had issued a statement that no gurdwara existed in Iraq. He urged the jathedar to pronounce ‘tankha’ on the NMC Chairman for his alleged statement.


PHRC nominations irk Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today criticised the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for ignoring Sikhs, Dalits and women while making appointments to the Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC). “ It is a very serious omission and speaks of the skewed priorities of the present regime in Punjab. The decision is bound to send wrong signals to Punjabis all over the world,” he said.

According to sources, Mr Badal has recorded his comments on the file sent to him by the Home Department for his consent on the new appointments. According to Rule 21 of the PSHRC Act, the Leader of the Opposition has to be consulted in writing over an appointment made to the commission.

The Akali leader, however, made it clear that he had nothing personal against those nominated and that his reservations were based on considerations of principle. “I see no reason why the government could not find any eminent retired judges, legal luminaries or human rights activists from among the Sikhs, Dalits or women.”

Mr Badal also questioned the manner in which the new names for the commission had been arrived at as the government had failed to specify which other names had been considered for appointment against each category. “They have simply presented me, as Leader of the Opposition, with a fait accompli.

They have not even cared to explain the norms and criterion under which the new nominations had been made or why the Sikhs, Dalits and women have been so completely ignored,” said Mr Badal in a statement .

The Punjab government had nominated Mr B.C. Rajput, Mr R. L. Anand and Mr V.K.Sibal as members of the Punjab Human Rights Commission in the categories of retired judges, human rights activists and legal luminaries. The file had been sent to Mr Badal for concurrence.

The Akali leader reminded the Chief Minister that members of the Sikh community had excelled themselves in every field. “It is amazing that they could not get recognition even in Punjab. This clearly showed the anti-Sikh bias of the Congress party,” said the Akali chief.

Similarly, he said, giving no representation to the Dalits was an unforgivable act. “Could the Congress government not find even a single member from among the Dalits who deserved to grace this august body.


NRI’s murder: Interpol alerted Punjab police
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Amarjit Chohan Missing millionaire Indian businessman Amarjit Chohan, whose body was found floating in the sea in England on April 25, owned properties in Chandigarh and New Delhi.

Amarjit Chohan, 46, an Indian-born entrepreneur, his wife Nancy, 25, their two sons, Devinder and Ravinder, and his mother-in-law, Charanjit Kaur, had vanished under mysterious circumstances from their house in London on February 16.

On a request from Scotland Yard, Interpol had alerted the Punjab police about the disappearance of the family. The crime branch of the Punjab police was informed about the case last month.

Investigations by The Tribune and information supplied by Mr Narpal Singh Shergill, an England-based NRI and author of books on Indian diaspora, reveal that Amarjit Chohan belonged to the Doaba region in Punjab and had married Nancy of Ludhiana some years ago.

The Chohans own a house in Sector 21-A for which special power of attorney has been drawn in the name of Mrs Charanjit Kaur. The other house owned by Amarjit Chohan is in Kalkaji in New Delhi.

Though a team of detectives from the Hampshire police is currently in India to look for Maninderpal Singh Kohli, a strong suspect in the Hannah murder case, there is no indication that any investigation is being conducted in connection with Amarjit Chohan case here.

Mr Shergill told The Tribune here today that when the police searched another house of Amarjit Chohan located near Heathrow Airport, they found passports and other travel documents of all members of his family. Even the return ticket of his mother-in-law was also found.

Mr Onkar Verma, 28, a brother of Ms Nancy Chohan, who had come from New Zealand to help the police in the search, said he had been very upset since the family went missing.

According to Mr Shergill, whose latest book on Indian diaspora is all set for release late this month, said Mr Chohan was a well-known figure in the Asian community in Southall, west London, where he owned several properties and ran a fruit and vegetable import company with an annual turnover of £4 million.

Despite his wealth, his personal lifestyle was modest. He preferred to drive a modest car — Escort.

The police, according to Mr Shergill, did not rule out the possibility of the involvement of drug mafia in the whole case as his quick rise after three and half years in jail had raised strong suspicions.

The police has launched a hunt and named two suspects who are believed to have fled the country.


Panchayat poll likely on June 22
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
The elections to panchayats will be held around June 22 and will be a one-day affair, said Mr C.L. Bains, Commissioner, Punjab State Elections, here today. There are about 13,300 panchayats in the state.

Mr Bains said June 22 was still a tentative date and the notification for the elections would be issued in the first week of June. The elections process is to be completed before June 30.

Mr Bains said the state government wrote a letter to the Election Commission in March, expressing its desire to conduct the elections by June 30.

“For most of the districts, the names for the appointment of returning officers and assistant returning officers have been cleared, Mr Bains said. The lists were submitted by the district authorities concerned, he added.

Meanwhile, sources said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had also asked the Department of the Panchayats to complete the poll exercise by June 30. The Chief Minister will submit a report in this connection to Ms Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee. In fact, Ms Gandhi had directed the chief ministers of all Congress-ruled stated to strengthen the democracy at the grassroot level by devolution of powers to institutions like panchayats, block samities and zila parishads.

The sources said Capt Amarinder Singh had directed the authorities to prepare documentaries to highlight the steps being taken by the state government to do so.

The sources said immediately after the elections, powers with regard to the management of primary schools, health institutions and welfare of weaker sections of societies would be handed over the elected representatives of the people in villages. About 12 departments had agreed to empower panchayats with regard to village-level affairs, pertaining to their departments. However, certain departments are resisting the move.

As per the rules, the state government should hand over the local administration of 29 departments to panchayats. This includes development works, like pavement of streets and operation of water works.

The sources added that the government had decided to postpone the elections beyond June 30, but legal experts had advised, that the elections could not be postponed as there was no provision for appointing administrators of panchayats in the entire state. Only in those cases, where panchayats were found to be not working as per the law, administrators could be appointed.


Dusty winds affect life
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, May 3
Duststorm sweeping the region for the past three days has affected life. Even vehicles have been moving with difficulty.

In this town also a nicknamed, “Dust bowl of Punjab” storm has given harrowing time to residents of the city. All buildings, business establishments, vegetation and residential areas have been covered with thick layer of dust. Due to the working of threshers converting wheat stubble into wheat husk, suspended matter in air has gone up by more than 1000 times.

Sources said that the patients of lung diseases, chest infection and those having breathing problems are a harried lot. Hospital sources said that the patients have been advised to exercise caution and wear masks to avoid precipitation of symptoms of diseases. Besides this the people have been advised to lake care of eyes and skin.

A section of shopkeepers said that due to dusty winds, advertisement signboards had been damaged. Some minor accidents have also been reported due to broken pieces of glow signboards, but no damage to electric or telephone cable poles was reported.

Sources in the Agriculture Department said the dust would take some time to settle and it was likely to rain. They added that rain at this time would help sow cotton.

PHAGWARA: A haze of dust continued to envelop the area on Saturday, causing great inconvenience to the public. People were seen moving with their faces covered with handkerchiefs. Many complained of irritation in eyes and breathing problems. The hazy conditions affected the visibility and caused great hardships to motorists.


Bhattal exempted from personal appearance
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, May 3
A corruption case filed against Punjab Agriculture Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, pertaining to an alleged embezzlement of Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s relief fund was today adjourned by a local court for May 23. The FIR in this case was registered against Ms Bhattal on May 22 last year at Bureau’s police station in Ferozpure range on the complaint of Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon.

The court room was jampacked when the complainant, accompanied by a Supreme Court advocate, Mr P.N. Lelki, and a battery of lawyers appeared in the court.

The case came up for hearing before the UT Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Balbir Singh. After hearing the defence counsel’s plea that the District Bar Association had suspended the work due to the death of an advocate and therefore case be adjourned, the Judge adjourned the case.

Meanwhile, Ms Bhattal was today granted exemption from personal appearance in the case on medical grounds by the court. Ms Bhattal had stated in the plea that she was not able to attend the court proceedings as she was unwell.

Ms Bhattal suffered a setback when the Supreme Court declined to alter its order passed on April 21 in the case on May 1. The apex court stated that the complainant, who had filed a complaint against Ms Bhattal, had the liberty to assist the prosecution in the case before a UT Special Court and point out the deficiency, if any, in its (prosecution’s) submission regarding the facts of the case.

Earlier, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed the orders passed by the UT Additional and Sessions Judge, Mr Balbir Singh, ruling that the complainant in the corruption case against Ms Bhattal had no right to argue at the time of framing charges. Accepting the petition filed by complainant Balwant Singh Dhillon, the High Court concluded that “The petitioner shall be heard personally or through his counsel at the time of considering Ms Bhattal’s application for discharge”.


Cops in ‘satta’ racket: DGP promises action
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 3
More than 100 hardcore militants were still alive. Of these only one or two might be in Punjab while others were residing in other states of the country or in Pakistan.

Mr M.S. Bhullar, DGP, Punjab, stated this here today that hardcore militants had left Punjab. He could not give this approximate number of militants, living in Pakistan these days.

Mr Bhullar was talking to mediapersons at the local Police Lines after inaugurating a gymnasium hall, for the police personnel, in the Police Lines. He was accompanied by Mr Anil Kaushik, I.G. Patiala Zone; Mr I.P.S. Sahota, DIG, Patiala Range; and Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Sangrur. The hall has been set up at a cost of Rs 3.50 lakh.

The DGP also said that Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency was still luring Punjabi youth into militancy. He stated that on the pretext of providing jobs in foreign countries, travel agents especially from the Doaba area, took Punjabi youths abroad via Russia or Germany where these youths had been lured by the ISI.

On the involvement of a number of policemen in satta racket in Ludhiana, the DGP announced that no guilty person would be spared. He said action had already been initiated. In case, any higher officer was found “guilty” he would also be ‘punished’, he added. Mr Bhullar also stated that recruitment of sportspersons still continued in the police. 


Vigilance raid on Tibri subdivision
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 3
The Additional Deputy Commissioner General accompanied by the vigilance staff of this district raided the Tibri subdivision of canals and sealed the record of the subdivision.

The staff also sealed the record of the Executive Engineer of the Gurdaspur division. One superintendent and one clerk of the department were taken into custody but later released.

According to official sources, the Deputy Commissioner had received a complaint that tenders for various works were being opened at 3.30 p.m. yesterday. The complaint said that works were to be distributed by the officials of the department on cheaper rates, benefiting some officials and their favourites.


Civil hospital sans facilities
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, May 3
Acute shortage of medical and paramedical staff has crippled the working of local Civil hospital.

For the past two years only three doctors are working here against the section of eight posts of medical officer. Even the post of Senior Medical Officer has been vacant for the past three years and one of the serving MO has to look after the duties of the SMO, which includes general administration, maintenance and other works in addition to his duties.

Although normal cases are being handled by the doctors available but in the absence of specialist like gynaecologist, dentist and ophthalmologist, poor patients are forced to get themselves treated from private doctors at a huge cost.

At present there are only two nurses working against the posts of five required for a 30-bed hospital. Keeping in view their shift duties and vacations, the hospital remains without the services of any paramedical staff several a time thus affecting the admissions.

The building of the civil hospital was renovated two years ago, besides facility like 300 MA X-ray, ECG, Diagnostic laboratory and cardiac monitor, two additional wards were added to the building. But instead of any rise in the patients OPD has gone down from 35000 patients a year to 18000.

The hospital in its category has registered maximum medico-legal cases in recent past. Several formalities for these cases have also affected the normal medical services.

Dr Shiv Kumar Chhabra, president of the Hospital Welfare Association Jalalabad, has alleged that the quacks were mushrooming in the absence of proper medical facilities in the civil hospital. He pointed out that keeping in view the huge population of the area dependent on this hospital, the hospital should be upgraded from 30-bed to 50-bed besides filling the posts.


Amritsar SARS suspect tests negative
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 3
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) has reported that the samples of Mr Partap Singh (65), under treatment at Kakkar Hospital, here, are negative.

Confirming the report, the Civil Surgeon, Dr Kanwaljit Singh, said Dr Shiv Lal, Additional Director of the NICD, had conveyed to him that the reports of the suspected SARS patient were negative, much to the relief of the health authorities and district administration. According to attending physicians, Mr Partap Singh is likely to be discharged shortly.


Sangat Darshan funds misused’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 3
Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh today said the state government had received the report of the irregularities committed during the Sangat Darshan exercise by the previous Akali-BJP government.

Inaugurating a project at Bhunerheri village 20 km on the Meeranpur choe (rivulet), the Minister said all district heads had submitted a report of the grants released to their districts under the Sangat Darshan programme. He said the final report would be released to the people soon.

The minister, accompanied by Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, said a 31.8 km of the rivulet would be dug up at a cost of Rs 1 crore to serve 30 villages from floods during monsoon season. He said digging would be completed before the arrival of monsoon.

Mr Lal Singh said crops in thousands of acres of land were destroyed during the monsoon season along side the Ghaggar, Markanda and Tangri rivers. He said the government had made Rs 150 crore proposal to channelise the Ghaggar river. He said the project had been delayed earlier because the permission of the Haryana and Rajasthan governments was necessary before commissioning the project. He said a Rs 12 crore project had been submitted to NABARD for the desilting of Tangri river.

The Minister announced that the Dakala constituency had also been taken up under the Progress Year scheme of the State government under which Rs 1.25 crore would be spent on various development activities. He also announced that repair of the Patiala-Pehowa and Patiala-Nawa Gaon road would be taken up, a barbed wire would be put around the Bhunerheri Bir and two grid stations constructed in the constituency. Ms Preneet Kaur announced a grant of Rs 2 lakh for the village school and Rs 1 lakh for the school stadium.


Arms cache seized from border
Tribune Reporters

Mahawa (Amritsar), May 3
The Border Security Force today seized a big cache of arms across the Zero Line, a little distance from the Pakistan village of Thahpur, on a tipoff.

The arms and ammunition found dumped in a piece of land belonging to an Indian farmer of this village included two AK-47s, nine Chinese mousers with two magazines of 40 rounds each and 17 magazines for mousers containing 100 rounds. The weapons were packed in polythene and cardboard cartons.

According to intelligence reports, this consignment was concealed by ISI conduit Sharifa of Thahpur village (Pakistan) for his Indian contact. Mr Rohit Prohit, DIG, said that the case was being handed over to Gharinda police station for registration of an FIR and further investigation. He added that a similar consignment of 18 Chinese pistols with 34 magazines was seized from the nearby Daoke village, close to the International Border last year in October.

The BSF sleuths searched the entire area opposite Border Post 107 and found a cardboard carton dug in the fields about 80 m from the International Border and across the fence. It took three hours for the BSF jawans to locate the consignment. The search was supervised by the Commandant, 19 Batallion, Mr D.K. Sharma, Mr G.S. Sandhu, DIG, Mr Ish Aul, Joint Director (G branch) and Mr S.K. Sharma, Inspector, BSF.

Mr Prohit said though the field from where the cache was seized belongs to Mr Mahal Singh, a resident of Mahawa village, his involvement could not be ascertained as he had already harvested the wheat. He said the involvement of smugglers having links with militants could not be ruled out.


Contractors flay enlistment policy
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 3
The district PWD (B&R) contractors association at a meeting held here yesterday condemned the new policy of the government regarding entitlement and renewal of government contractors. More than100 contractors participated.

Mr Rajinder Trehan, president, talking to mediapersons said under the new policy, ownership of hot mixing plant had been made compulsory for class I and class II contractors. Moreover, enlistment henceforth would be done either for buildings or road work. Earlier it was combined.

Mr Trehan said earlier the PWD (B&R) enlistment was done by the Punjab Mandi Board and the PWD (B&R) under category one for execution purchased by all class-I contractors. For bituminous work, however, contractors having hot mixing plant had been enlisted under category II.

Mr Trehan said under new policy category one contractors would not be able to fill tenders and their men and machinery would be rendered idle. Furthermore, the contractors who had mostly purchased the machinery with bank loans would be unable to pay back the money.

He said transport authorities allowed buses and trucks to operate for 15 years. He demanded the revival of the old policy and threatened statewide stir if the government failed to do so.


Rs 107 cr for uplift of poor
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 3
Punjab Social Welfare and Social Security Minister Joginder Singh Mann announced today that Rs 107 crore would be spent on welfare schemes for the poor this year. He said this while addressing public meetings at Bhanoki, Chak Hakim and Panshta villages, according to a press note.

He said non-government organisations having 60 per cent Scheduled Caste and Backward Class members would be involved in the implementation of various welfare schemes of the government. He expressed concern at the high dropout rate of poor students from schools.

The minister also said Rs 18 crore would be spent on providing 10-marla plots to the homeless poor, benefitting 4,000 families in the state. He added that cheques worth Rs 37,99,500 had been distributed among 131 schools under the Sarb Sikhsha Abhiyan.


Akali leader surrenders

Bathinda, May 3
Local Akali leader Kulwinder Singh today surrendered in a local court before he was declared proclaimed offender .

The SSP Vigilance Baljinder Singh Grewal confirming this here said that Kulwinder Singh son of a former SGPC member Hakam Singh Grewal was booked under Section 420,467,468 and 471 of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act in November last year. It was alleged that the accused had obtained some of his educational degrees through questionable means.

Later he was sent to central jail under the court directions. UNI 


Fire destroys wheat crop on 2000 acres

Gurdaspur, May 3
Huge stocks of wheat were damaged when a fire broke out in the Bet area of Kahnuwan and spread to nearly 2000 acres of land in 12 villages.

Standing crop almost 50 per cent was destroyed in the fire which broke out last night, police sources said today.

The villages whose wheat crop has been damaged included Gunnopur, Saidowal, Nameen Gharal, Barara, Kahnuwan and Lamini. PTI


HC: illegally sacked worker entitled to back wages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 3
Twenty-six years after the service of a Punjab Roadways employee was illegally terminated, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that the official was entitled to back wages.

Delivering the verdict on employee Jarnail Singh’s petition, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar of the High Court ruled: “It is a settled proposition of law that ordinarily a workman whose service has been illegally terminated would be entitled to full back wages except to the extent he was gainfully employed during the enforced idleness. That is the normal rule and the party objecting to it must establish the circumstances necessitating the departure”.

In his detailed order, the Judge concluded: “The petition is allowed. It is held that the petitioner is entitled to back wages from the date his services were illegally terminated”.

In his petition, Jarnail Singh had earlier contended that his service was illegally terminated on October 6, 1977. Initially, a civil suit was filed, but later Amritsar’s Senior-Sub Judge dismissed it after holding that a civil court had no jurisdiction to try the case. Subsequently, the labour court was moved, counsel for the petitioner had asserted. After going through his submissions and the documents, the labour court had held that the termination orders were void, but the issue of back wages had remained for the petitioner.


Hearing in Thandal case put off
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 3
Hearing in the corruption case against the former state Minister for Food and Civil Supplies, Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, was postponed to May 16. The hearing on the bail application of Mr Thandal has also been postponed to the same date.

Meanwhile, hearing in the corruption case against the former Director, Animal Husbandry, Mr G.S. Chahal, has also been adjourned till May 7.


2 get life term for murder

Sangrur, May 3
Additional District Sessions Judge G S Dhiman here today sentenced two murder accused to life imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 5,000 on them.

The Judge convicted Rajesh and Vishnu, residents of Sunam, for the murder of Som Nath and also directed that their life imprisonment would be extended for three years in case the two did not pay the fine. UNI


5-yr RI for 2

Jalandhar, May 3
A local fast-track court today sentenced two persons to five years’ rigorous imprisonment in all attempt-to-murder case. The court convicted Rakesh Kumar of New Babu Labh Singh Nagar and Som Nath of New Aman Nagar. TNS 


48 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 3
The quarterly Lok Adalat was held here today on the premises of district courts. Five Benches were constituted which were presided over by Mr Dharam Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Harsh Mehta, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ms Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Ms Jatinder Kaur and Ms Gurdarshan Kaur, all Judicial Magistrates Ist class here. As many as 158 cases were taken up at the Lok Adalat. As many as 48 cases were settled and award for Rs 15,67,277 were passed.

Members of District Bar Association cooperated to make today’s Lok Adalat a success.


Lok adalat settles 269 cases
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 3
As many as 169 cases were disposed of at a special lok adalat held here today. The cases pertained to the Cooperative Department, comprising cooperative societies, banks and Housefed.

The adalat under the supervision of Mr M. R. Batra, District Session Judge, constituted four benches to settle 269 cases. Social workers and officers of the Cooperative Department were inducted as members to assist the bench.


Three animals injured in fire
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 3
Three buffaloes were injured today in a fire that broke out at Rajewal village near here. According to the police, the fire engulfed fields falling in 2 km of the area. Fire engines also reached the spot. 


Install Jassa Singh’s statue’
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, May 3
Mr Tikka Shatrujit Singh, scion of the family of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a Sikh general of the 18th century and founder of the Kapurthala princely state, has demanded the installation of a statue of the general in Parliament.

Addressing a function organised at a gurdwara here today in connection with the celebrations of the general’s birth anniversary, Mr Tikka Shatrujit Singh described him as a national hero. Paying tributes to Jassa Singh, he said the general had freed more than 2,000 Indian women from the captivity of Ahmad Shah Abdali.


Cops examined at camp
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
A majority of the 335 policemen examined at a medical camp here today were found to be suffering from various medical problems. These included hypertension, obesity, diabetes, respiratory, hearing and skin ailments.

As per a press note of the Principal of Police Public School, where the camp was held, the purpose of the camp was to provide better and special medical care to the cops, who normally lead a stressful life comprising long working hours, frequent travel, inadequate sleep and no fixed eating timings.


Two kiosks removed
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 3
Cantonment board officials to removed 20 kiosks allegedly raised on government land in the Sabzi Mandi area near here even kiosk owners termed the exercise as selective.

The officials equipped with special machines razed the kiosks. Certain kiosks owners alleged that though several pucca shops had been built on encroached land by some influential persons, but no action was taken against them. They raised anti-board slogans and said that their business establishments were ruined due to indifferent approach of the authorities concerned. They said that the board officials should have issued notices to them before launching such exercise.


Two booked for selling spurious seed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 3
A case under Section 420 of the IPC, Section 15 the Seeds Act and Section 7 of the Essential Commodities Act was registered against Chander Bhan and Rahul Dev of Grain Market, here for selling fake seed of hybrid cotton to farmers.

The case was registered following a raid by Agriculture Department officials and the police on the shop and godown of the firm last evening.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said that during the raid empty boxes of Krishi Research Narma under the brand name of Krishi Leader, cartoons 15 containing 820 packets of Krishi Leader seed with each packet having 400 gm of seed, 48 packets of Manek F-1 research hybrid Narma seed, packing material weighing machine etc. were seized from the premises.

Apart from it, 200 kg seed of cotton lying in an open box without any wrapper of any brand name on it, 15 empty big boxes, 24 packets each of 500 gm Aventing Company’s Lekisol (a pesticide) and 150 empty cloth bags of H-8 variety seed of Ravi Beez, Gujarat were seized.

Officials of the Agriculture Department led by Chief Agriculture Officer (CAO), Dr H.S. Bhatti led the raid following directions by the Deputy Commissioner.

For the past two years, traders of this cotton belt of Punjab have been allegedly selling fake cottonseed to the farmers desperate to get better seed for more yield facing attack by American Ballworm and other pests for the past six years.

Sources said that several traders had been supplying fake BT cottonseed to the farmers and making money in this way. Last year, many farmers sow BT cottonseed in Muktsar district though the Centre and state governments were yet to permit its Cultivation in Punjab.

The raid revealed though those selling seed sale were required to take permission for it the office of the Agriculture Department, from the accused, whose godown was located on the Bhagu road in the city was raided today, had not sought permission for storing and packaging the seed in different containers.

The SSP said that the investigation was in progress.


Couple held on cheating charge
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 3
A couple has been arrested for allegedly duping Mr Jagdish Raj, a resident of Gharota village, of Rs 1,80,000.

A spokesman for the police said here today that Vijay Kumar, a resident of Bhadroya, had executed an agreement dated April 3, 2002, vide which he had agreed to sell his house situated at Bhadroya for Rs 2,50,000 to Mr Jagdish Raj. Of the total amount, Rs 1,70,000 was paid at the time of execution of the agreement and March 30, 2003 was agreed on for the execution of the sale deed.

Vijay Kumar had again received Rs 10,000 from the complainant in September last year. He allegedly refused to execute the sale deed.

The police found that Vijay Kumar had already executed a sale deed of his house in favour of his wife Veena Kumari much earlier. The police has registered a case under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC.


1 killed, 23 hurt in accident

Jalandhar, May 3
One person was killed and 23 were injured in an accident at Laroha village, near Bhogpur, today. The accident occurred in the morning when a mini bus coming from the Tanda side rammed into a J and K-bound truck coming from the opposite direction, police sources said.

While one person identified as Tarsem Singh, driver of the bus, died on the spot, 23 bus passengers got injuries. The condition of eight injured is stated to be serious and were admitted to a local hospital. A case has been registered at the Bhogpur police station.

In another accident between an oil tanker and Tata Sumo at the Sarai Khasa area, near here, four Sumo-borne passengers were injured, who were identified as Sukhdev Singh, Harbhajan Singh, Buta Singh and Jasveer Singh. The condition of all the injured is stated to be out of danger.


2 die in accidents
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
Balwinder Kaur (40), a resident of the Arya Samaj Chowk area of the city died of burns under mysterious circumstances this evening at her home.

Sources said that the husband of the deceased, Mr Baldev Singh Jaura, a sanitary inspector with the local Municipal Council died on May 2, 2002 and was cremated on this day last year and Balwinder Kaur had been appointed in place of her husband on compassionate grounds. The sources said that she joined her duties yesterday and was under depression. The sources said that the neighbours gathered at the house of the deceased after hearing the wails of the daughter and found that the deceased was in flames.

Police sources said that the parents of the deceased had been informed and a case in this connection would be registered. Her son, Maninder Singh, who is doing MBBS course at Delhi and a daughter, Kimmi, survive the deceased.


2 injured as truckers clash
Tribune News Service

Rampura, May 3
Tension, which has been building in this town for the past couple of days over the election of the president of local truck union, took an ugly turn yesterday when a group of truck operators attacked members of other group with rods and swords at the cattle mela ground yesterday.

Police sources said Sukha, Gurpiar, Bhinder and two others attacked Bhinder Singh and his brother Bharpur Singh with swords and iron rods. Both suffered multiple injuries and were admitted to Local Civil Hospital. The condition of the two was stable.

There had been tension between two sections of truck operators over a dispute pertaining to the amount of tax deducted at source (TDS) belonging to the truck union. About a week ago, the district police authorities registered a case against Mr Satnam Singh Bhairupa, an SGPC member and a close confidant of Akali minister Sikander Singh Malooka and Basant Singh, former president of the truck union for their alleged involvement in the misappropriation of funds of the TDS.

About a week ago, news persons emerged on the scene and made attempts to become president of the union. A large number of truck operators, who opposed the move, were threatened by government.

Mr Devinder Attri, Station House Officer (SHO), local police station, when contacted, said to prevent any untoward incident on the truck union premises, a police party had been deployed there permanently. No arrest had been made so far. A case had been registered under Sections 323, 324, 148 and 149 of the IPC against Sukha, Gurpiar, Bhinder and two others.


Patwari held for graft

Moga, May 3
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested patwari Ravinderjit Singh on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs 1,500 for entering mutation in the revenue record.

According to the DSP, Mr Narinder Pal Singh, the accused demanded Rs 10,000 for entering the mutation in favour of complainant Amarjit Singh after the death of his father, Kulwant Singh. UNI


19,000 posts of teacher to be filled
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 3
The state government would fill the 19,000 vacant posts of teacher in the state so that students did not suffer due to staff shortage and the student-teacher ratio was lowered. These recruitments would be made totally on merit and in a transparent manner, said Mr Harchand Singh Brast, political adviser to the Punjab Chief Minister, while addressing the annual state-level function of the Punjab Pardesh Teachers Union here today.

He said the government was making all efforts to improve the standard of education in the government schools to counter the increasing “menace” of the so-called public schools. The government had initiated various steps in this regard and the decision to make elementary and secondary directorates had brought fruitful results, particularly in the primary section. Addressing the function, Mr Devinder Pal Sharma, state president of the union, said the teaching community would extend all possible cooperation to the government in its campaign to improve the education standard in the state.


Workshop on TERI project
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 3
An orientation workshop based on green olympiad and terra quiz was organised today at Blossoms School, Patiala. The school has been assigned a project on TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute) under the Ministry of Environment and Forest Department.

Teachers from 11 schools of the city including Aurobindo, Budha Dal, Lady Fatima, St Peters Academy, DAV and Teja Singh Khandari School participated in the workshop to know the aim and purpose of TERI.

The Principal of the school, Ms Ravi Singh, informed the participants about the green olympiad which encompasses `issues of daily concern related to global climate change. She also emphasised upon the increasing air and water pollution and friendly initiatives to curb it. 


Industrialists’ demands ‘to be considered’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 3
Mr Gurbinder Singh Atwal, Parliamantary Secretary, Department of Industries, Punjab, said today that demands of industrialists of the region would be considered.

Mr Atwal, who met a delegation of the Bathinda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the government was serious about developing industrial zones in the state.

He praised the role of Mr Mangat Rai, editor of a local Punjabi weekly, in highlighting the problems and demands of labourers.

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