Monday, May 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



‘Year of Development’, but coffers empty
P. P. S. Gill

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
A financial storm is brewing in Punjab, with the situation getting critical, say sources.

The impending crises are likely to push 2003-04, the “Year of Development”, into a turmoil. These crises are characterised by low revenue receipts, high expenditure and heavy debt, making it increasingly difficult for the state to discharge even its three basic responsibilities — payment of salaries, pensions and debt servicing. These involve an outgo of Rs 700 crore every month against average receipts of only Rs 550 crore per month. The committed liabilities of over Rs 100 crore per month are being met through diversion of funds received from other sources for specific projects.

The policy-makers have repeatedly suggested ways to tide over these crises. Their approach stands endorsed by the World Bank, which has opened a window to the state. But even before Punjab could get the much-needed World Bank funds for development, the Centre’s Economic Affairs Department expressed doubts that given the high-degree of indebtedness should Punjab further burden itself with borrowings? The Secretary, PWD, has received a missive from the Economic Affairs Department on road and bridge projects sent to the World Bank.

Capt Amarinder Singh is aware of the need for strengthening political administration through structural reforms — fiscal and administrative — so as to curb corruption and poor governance. As long as these two stalk Punjab, the financial storm will repeatedly hit economic development, say sources.

It is also time for the elected representatives to play an effective role in stopping the storm rather than remaining content with “gifts” of Qualis, computers and enhanced pay, perks and pensions. Equally important is the transfer of funds, functions and functionaries to the panchayati raj institutions and civic bodies as per the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments. As against stipulated 29 departments, funds, functions and functionaries have been transferred in respect of just seven departments in Punjab and these too only on paper.

The Chief Minister has not only to keep his flock of MLAs together but also his vote-bank intact. Thus, his focus is on social security of children, widows, disabled and aged. To meet their financial requirements, the state needs Rs 202 crore in 2003-04. It is doubtful if Punjab would be able to implement its Rs 3,200 crore Annual Plan, (2003-04). The promised budgetary support to the Plan is Rs 2185.67 crore and the outside support is Rs 1014.33 crore. There is a gap of Rs 682.60 crore between the Plan size and available resources. This means additional resource mobilisation which political compulsions will not allow the government to do. This means a reduction in the Plan size.

Punjab recently approved a hike in user charges, except for the Department of Health and Family Welfare. But even in respect of other departments, no notification has yet been issued. The Budget proposals had included the tax on telephone rentals that was expected to net Rs 100 crore.

Indications are that Punjab may not get much financial help from the Centre because of its failure to submit “utilisation certificates” for money received under specific projects. This was because the money was diverted. Add to this financial chaos and the irregularities in the food account. This government has also diverted Rs 1,900 crore to meet its committed expenditure.

Punjab’s heavy debt is proving to be an albatross around its neck when it comes to seeking financial aid from private institutions. Besides the financial storm, the Chief Minister has to solve the disinvestment puzzle, make money available for the voluntary retirement scheme and one-time settlement schemes of PSUs, rightsize the government etc.


Govt to hire PR agency for proper projection
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
The Punjab government plans to hire a professional PR agency in New Delhi to "properly project" the activities and achievements of the Amarinder Singh government in the national capital.

Although the move has predictably not evoked a very enthusiastic response from the state's Public Relations Department, the Chief Minister himself is said to be very keen on the proposal.

Capt Amarinder Singh is said to be credited with the view that the "good work" being done by his government in Punjab seldom, if ever, finds mention in newspapers published in New Delhi with the result that 10, Janpath, as also other top leaders of the Congress party based there do not remain very well informed about developments here.

Punjab has always remained a rather distant priority for Delhi newspapers but in recent years the problem has been accentuated by the fact that most of them have started bringing out their editions in Chandigarh. Most of the news relating to Punjab is published in Chandigarh editions which have a rather limited circulation. News items which make it to the Delhi editions are few and far between.

Little wonder, therefore, the Chief Minister’s office and the Punjab Congress office here receive frequent calls from Congress leaders in Delhi to apprise themselves of the latest developments which have already been published in the local newspapers. Hence, the need for the proper projection of Punjab in Delhi newspapers.

The state government has a vast Public Relations Department with a statewide network manned by hundreds of employees.

It has an office in New Delhi also. Sources close to the Chief Minister, however, say that the Delhi Press needs rather "sophisticated handling" which cannot be provided by the mandarins of the state PR Department who are seen to be neither very articulate nor communicative. Hence, the need for hiring a professional PR agency.

However, certain officials in the PR Department argue that unlike their western counterparts, the Indian PR agencies are more used to brand building of various products than any serious lobbying in the newspapers. What the Punjab government requires is not brand building but lobbying. Hence, the whole exercise may come to a naught sooner rather than later.

However, the task of searching for a suitable PR agency has been handed over to a four-member committee headed by the Chief Secretary and which includes Mr Bharat Inder Singh Chahal, Adviser to the Chief Minister, Mr S.K. Sinha, Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, and Mr D.S. Jaspal, Secretary, Information and Public Relations.

The committee wrote to several PR companies of Delhi some time ago inviting offers. Five of them have responded. They include Rediffusion, Ogilvy, Perfect Relations, Lexican and Adman.

They were invited to make a presentation in Chandigarh on April 30 but the event had to be put off because of the retirement of Mr Y.S. Ratra as the Chief Secretary and take over by Mr Rajan Kashyap.

The next date for the presentation is yet to be fixed.


All set for unveiling of Ranjit Singh’s statue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 4
A statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh is all set to be unveiled in the Parliament Complex in Delhi next week, thanks to last-minute intervention by Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

A special central committee for the bicentenary celebrations of the coronation of Maharaja Ranjit Singh headed by the Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, had recommended in 2001 to put up bronze statues of the Sikh Maharaja in the Parliament Complex in New Delhi, at a historic fort in Ropar and also at the Thein dam. The recommendations were accepted by the Punjab Government.

Besides the statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, portraits of both Baba Kharag Singh and Master Tara Singh will soon adorn the portrait gallery of Parliament. “If we get a suitable space in the Central Hall, we will have these portraits there,” said Mr Dhindsa here this afternoon.

He said a subcommittee headed by veteran journalist Kuldip Nayar constituted to finalise the statues’ plan recommended Delhi’s noted sculptor, Ram Suttar, for the job. The Punjab Government made an advance payment of Rs 10 lakh to him to start working on the statue for the Parliament Complex, which was estimated to cost around Rs 26 lakh.

In the meanwhile, the SAD-BJP Government, which had ordered the bronze statue, was replaced by the Congress Government.

In spite of numerous reminders from the sculptor to make the remaining payment and take the delivery of the statue, the Punjab Government reportedly maintained silence.

Upset over the “reluctance of the Punjab Government to release the remaining payment, Mr Dhindsa, and the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, Mr Tarlochan Singh, took up the issue with the Prime Minister.

Mr Vajpayee, according to Mr Dhindsa, directed Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism, to release funds to the Maharaja Ranjit Singh Coronation Celebration Committee so that all projects announced in 2001 should be completed. Mr Jagmohan released Rs 1 crore out of which the full payment of Rs 26 lakh has been made to sculptor Ram Suttar. It is learnt that the money paid by the Punjab Government earlier is being sent back by the sculptor.

Mr Dhindsa said the “statue, already installed in the Parliament Complex is ready for unveiling. We want either the Prime Minister or the Lok Sabha Speaker to unveil it. Hopefully, it will be unveiled either on May 8 or May 9,” he said.

The committee, Mr Dhindsa said, proposed to raise a suitable memorial to Maharaja Ranjit Singh in Delhi.


Wheat production falls in state
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, May 4
Punjab may not meet the wheat procurement target of 105 lakh tonnes this year as the arrivals have dwindled in the markets. The arrivals so far in the mandis are short by 6 lakh tonnes compared with those last year.

The markets of the state have received as many as 81,36,620 tonnes of wheat so far against 87,59,785 tonnes in the corresponding period, last year. The daily arrivals in the mandis have come down to about 1.5 lakh tonnes and the experts and officials of the procuring agencies are of the view that procurement will be over by next week. The total procurement of wheat during last year was about 99 lakh tonnes and the officials feel that with the present speed of arrivals at the mandis daily, the overall procurement will not cross 90 lakh tonnes this year, indicating a shortfall of more than 10 per cent.

The procurement of wheat till May 4 (agency-wise) was Pungrain — 7,71,689 tonnes, Markfed — 16,97,036 tonnes — Punsup 15,68,137 tonnes, Punjab State Warehousing Corporation — 9,44,761 tonnes, Punjab Agro — 8,64,304 tonnes and the Food Corporation of India — 22,09,308 tonnes. Traders have not shown much interest in buying of wheat as only 81,385 tonnes have been purchased by them. Sangrur district is leading in wheat procurement with 11,39,596 tonnes.

Punjab Agricultural University experts have also assessed the loss in wheat production by 10 to 15 per cent.

According to Dr J.S. Kolar, Director, Extension Education, PAU, foggy and cloudy weather for more than three weeks in January coupled with excessive rains in February had caused damage to wheat crop.

Farmers at the mandis have reported a fall in the average wheat yield. Last year the average yield was between 20 to 22 quintals per acre but now it was 12-15 quintals. Besides, the crop was hit by jassid, Dr Kolar said .

According to Dr Kolar, the area under wheat this year has decreased by 70,000 hectares, which would result in the loss of 3 lakh tonnes of wheat.


Real heroes being neglected: ex-spy
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 4
A former Indian spy to Pakistan, Mr Mohan Lal Bhaskar, has accused the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) and the Military authorities of ignoring persons who worked for the nation at the risk of their lives. Talking to mediapersons here, Mr Bhaskar, who was tortured for seven years in Pakistan jails, said he was shocked to learn that the NHRC had sought a detailed report about Pakistani nationals languishing in various jails in Punjab. He said the NHRC was concerned about agents of enemies, but those who fought enemies within and outside the country were being ignored.

He said more than 300 police officers who played important roles in putting an end to terrorism in Punjab were still languishing in various jails. He said persons trained and inducted as spies by Indian intelligence agencies were finding it hard to make both ends meet and nobody was bothered about their welfare.

Mr Bhaskar narrated tales of how Indian agents were tortured at the hands of Pakistani agencies, with some associates losing their sanity and even their lives. He said he made 17 sorties into Pakistan to get access to important Pakistani formations and ultimately landed in a Pakistani jail as he was betrayed by one of his colleagues, presumably a double agent.

Mr Bhaskar said between 1965 and 1968, 41 persons were trained and sent into Pakistan and 31 persons were repatriated on December 9, 1974, under the Shimla Agreement. He added that after coming back to India, they were offered meagre amounts and nobody bothered about their well-being. He demanded that these persons should be treated like ex-servicemen.

Mr Bhaskar said he, along with Lieut-Gen Jagjit Singh Aurora, Colonel Pattu and Mr M.K. Paul, would meet the President, A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, in connection with the demand. He added that around 54 Indian prisoners of war were languishing in various Pakistani jails, a fact which the Pakistani Government had never admitted to. He said the matter has also been raised in Parliament. He appealed to the NHRC to approach the United Nations, the Internationals Red Cross and the International Human Rights Commission for the early repatriation of these Indian defence officers.


Govt to ensure transparency in PMT
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 4
The Punjab Government will ensure transparency while conducting examination for getting admission to MBBS, BDS, BAMS, GAMS courses this year. This was stated by Punjab Medical Education Minister, Ch Santokh Singh, while talking to this correspondent here today.

The minister said he would visit Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, which was conducting the PMT. The minister said no irregularities would be tolerated for admission to professional courses and culprits punished accordingly.

About the kidney racket the minister said kidney transplantations had been banned in the Kakkar hospital. The state government would make arrangements for kidney transplantations in medical colleges. He assured that the medical college at Jalandhar, which was under construction, would be of AIIMS standard and arrangements of kidney transplantations and other major surgeries would be available in the institution.

On the condition of government medical colleges in Punjab, Ch Santokh Singh admitted that these were in a bad shape but the state government had made a comprehensive plan for the overall development of these medical colleges and Rs 50 crore would be spent to improve infrastructure and equipment in these colleges.

He said a state-level purchase committee had been formed to review the conditions and necessities of medical colleges. The minister said the Department of Promotion Committee would meet on May 6-8 to consider promotions and the shortage of staff.

He claimed that stipend for postgraduate students had been restored and Rs 8.4 crore released for the same.

Earlier, the minister attended a function in which Mr Ekam Ram Momi and Mr Nirmal Singh Johal, chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the local Panchayat Samiti, took charge. Ch Santokh Singh said Phillaur would be made gateway of Doaba. A grant of Rs 1 crore had been released for the development of the town.

The SDM, Phillaur, Mr Sandeep Hans, was among those present at the function. The minister later distributed cheques amounting to Rs 33 lakh for the all-round development of the subdivision.


CPI to expose BJP’s hidden agenda
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
The Communist Party of India (CPI) yesterday alleged that the BJP was using politics of communalism to divert the attention of people from real issues.

The CPI alleged that the BJP and the Sangh Parivar were misusing religion for political gains. The party leaders said they would expose the hidden agenda of the BJP. They were speaking at a function organised here today to welcome the nationwide “Bharat jan jagran yatra” of the party, which reached the city this afternoon.

The party had started yatras from five cities in different states simultaneously and these would reach Delhi on May 9 after passing through the states. The party said the yatras had been started with a view to exposing the forces, which were using religion as a tool to gain power.

Mr Amarjeet Kaur, member, National Executive Committee of the party, who led the yatra said the party wanted that the Vajpayee-led NDA government should be routed in the Parliament elections next year.

She said that India was a multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural country and everyone here was free to profess his customs, culture and religion, but some political parties were using religions or caste for personal gains. She said even the parties like the Bahujan Samaj Party were using caste for political gains.

Earlier, at a press conference Ms Amarjeet Kaur said the political graph of the Congress had dwindled as it had remained soft towards communalism and had not opposed the use of caste card for votes.

Prominent among others who addressed the gathering were Dr Joginder Dayal, state secretary of the CPI, Mr Hardev Arshi, former MLA and Mr Jagjit Singh Joga, district secretary of the party.


Akali unity soon: Tohra

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
SHSAD chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra today said his unity with SAD President Parkash Singh Badal would be formalised within 15 days. Talking to mediapersons at Amloh, near here, Mr Tohra said all preparations for Akali unity had been completed and the formal announcement would be made soon. UNI


Village common land encroached on
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 4
The present and former sarpanches, allegedly in connivance with certain influential persons, are or have been indulging in the sale of the common lands of the villages in the semi-hilly areas of the district in violation of the Punjab Village Common Land Regulation Act, 1961.

An investigation by ‘The Tribune’ into the practice has revealed that in many villages of the district, more than hall the area of the common lands has either been encroached upon by influential people in connivance with panchayat members or was being illegally used for personal gains by certain influential persons.

The common land is used for community purposes in a village and is referred to in the revenue records as the shamlat. As per the rules, at least 20 per cent of the total land in a village should be shamlat or common land. The elected panchayats can use or dispose of the land for the benefit of the villagers in a manner prescribed in the act, which includes the allotment of land to the landless or very small cultivators of the village.

However, the panchayats, taking advantage of the lacunae of the power vested in them, are allegedly either allowing private persons to encroach upon the land or taking undue advantage from the land at the cost of villagers.

The investigation of the use of common land in Dobeta village near Nangal revealed that out of the total 9,000 kanal common land of the village, 4,000 kanal had been encroached upon by some influential people in connivance with present and former panchayat members.

Recently, the three panchayat members in a resolution adopted among themselves, a copy of which was provided to ‘The Tribune’, allowed some person to encroach upon the village land worth lakhs. However, the panchayat members neither sent the adopted resolution to the higher Panchayati Raj authorities for approval nor took the consent of the panchayat for the purpose. Many villagers have now reported the matter to the district authorities.

Similarly, a former sarpanch of the village allegedly encroached upon the common land and drew undue benefit from it. For this offence, the Panchayati Raj authorities ordered a recovery of Rs 29,000 from him. However, the order is yet to be implemented.

Sources in Dobeta say that the present panchayat has also allowed some other influential persons to encroach upon the common land of the village and build market complexes in violation of the Act.

Common lands in many other villages of the semi-hilly areas of the district, including Hambewal, Nikku Nangal, Patti and Manakpur, have also been encroached upon similarly.

The Deputy Commissioner of Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, when asked to comment on the matter said that she would get the matter probed.


Declare Amritsar tobacco-free: Mann
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), today demanded declaring the holy city of Amritsar as tobacco-free zone on the pattern of Hardwar and Kurukshetra where cow slaughter was banned.

Talking to newspersons here today, Mr Mann welcomed the new Bill to ban advertisements and regulate the supply, sale and use of tobacco-related products. Mr Mann said he had raised the issue in Parliament where he sought assurance from the Union Health Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj that while framing the rules under the proposed Act, the use of such deadly products should be banned within the radius of the holy precincts and educational institutions.

Mr Mann urged Jathedar Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal chief Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi and other Sikh Parliamentarians to get Amritsar declared tobacco-free zone.


Spread message of peace: Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 4
Mr Harvinder Singh Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee has exhorted people to spread the message of non-violence, peace and service to the society propounded by Lord Mahavira.

Mr Hanspal was addressing a gathering of the Jain Samaj organised on the occasion of the flagging off of a 20-day-long “Jeev Daya Yatra” from Ludhiana to Chennai covering 8000 km.

The function was held at Atma Nand Jain Senior Secondary School here last evening.

Addressing the function, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, Transport Minister, congratulated the Jain Samaj dedicating this religious journey to the preservation of animals and appealed to the participants to spread the preaching of the Jain saints among the people.

Mr Rakesh Panday, Minister of State for Printing and Stationery, while speaking on the occasion said that the Jain saints had taught the lesson to live together peacefully and insisted the preservation of animals on the earth.


Crime in district on the rise
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, May 4
This district, once known as “criminal”, is still witnessing murders in large number due to party factions, feuds, revengeful and violent outlook of people and negation of the spirit of “forgive and forget”.

The district has witnessed significant change in the pattern of crime for the past few decades. Economic offences have gone up, murders over family disputes, property disputes and illicit relations have increased.

On January 9, 2002, Yadwinder Singh, a local youth was murdered allegedly by Gurcharan Singh as the latter suspected illicit relations between the victim and his wife. Gurcharan Singh beat Yadwinder Singh to death. On May 27, 2002, Bakhshis Singh and his son Bohar Singh along with some accomplices murdered Sadiq, a resident of Hastiwala village.

They also suspected illicit relations between the victim’s son and the niece of Bakhshis Singh.

Surjeet Singh, his son Rachpal Singh and brother Nirmal Singh, belonging to the Jat Sikh community have been facing murder charges. They killed Joginder Singh as they suspected that daughter of Surjeet Singh had liaison with Joginder Singh, who belonged to the Rai Sikh community.

In most of the cases either the kin of girl or married woman would kill her paramour or her. Most of the murders are taking place to save the “family honour”.

The district police chief, Mr Parveen Sinha, said murders due to illicit relations were on the rise as five murders took place in 2002, nine in 2001 and 10 in 2000 over illicit relations.

Sources pointed out that murders due to illicit relations in this district had taken up a major share of total murders committed during the past three years. Since January 1, 2000 till date, the district had witnessed about 25 murders over illicit relations and 19 murders over property disputes.


Musharraf’s nod to kar seva: Bhullar
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 4
Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf has given consent to the kar seva at five gurdwaras in Pakistan. Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society, said President Musharraf has conveyed his approval to the Federal Ministry and Pakistan Kaff Board for the renovation of Gurdwara Pehli Patshahi, Lahore, gurdwaras at birth place of Guru Ram Dass and martyrdom place of Bhai Mani Singh in Lahore, Gurdwara Chuhha Sahib and the gurdwara at the birth place of Guru Gobind Singh’s mother Mata Gujri at Rohtas.

It is pertinent to mention that there are around 172 gurdwaras in Pakistan with most of them in highly deplorable condition.

Mr Bhullar said Rs 6-8 crore would be spent during the kar seva at the five gurdwaras and subsequently the task for the maintenance of other gurdwaras would be taken up.


SHSAD to raise calendar issue at SGPC meeting
Tribune New Service

Amritsar, May 4
The Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has decided to raise the issue of releasing of ‘Nanakshahi calendar’ at a political stage instead of Akal Takht in the forthcoming meeting of the SGPC, scheduled to be held on May 6 at Anandpur Sahib.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, senior vice-president of the SHSAD and executive member of the Shiromani Committee said that it was strange that Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief chose to get the calendar released from a Akali Dal stage for political mileage. He said had the calendar been released from Akal Takht nobody would have raised any objection.

Mr Bhaur further alleged that he would also raise the issue of victimisation of SGPC employees on political considerations, he said he would also raise the point of giving undue promotions to certain employees.


Dairy owners told to shift
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 4
To maintain sanitation the Municipal Corporation has asked the dairy owners of the city to shift to the specially created Dairy Complex at Jamsher village near here.

In a press statement issued here today, the Commissioner of the civic body, Ms Sarojini Gautam Sharda said at a meeting with the office-bearers of the Dairy Development Association, it was resolved that the dairy owners, who had completed construction on 300 square yards plots allotted to them at the Dairy complex, should shift there in a week. Besides, others were instructed to make necessary arrangements to expedite the construction work. She added that the residents of Madhuban Colony, Dhann Mohalla and Pir Bodla Bazaar had complained to the civic body on choked sewerage system and heaps of cow dung in these colonies due to non shifting of these dairies outside the city limits.

Ms Sharda said that PUDA authorities had agreed to start construction of building of animal hospital in the Dairy complex. Assuring that all development works, estimated to cost Rs 5 crore in the complex would be completed soon, the Commissioner instructed dairy owners, to deposit remaining amount for allotted plots with the civic body, which was Rs 8 crore.


Number of traffic challans up
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
The number of vehicles challaned for violating rules has increased in the city ever since the police started deploying school students on “traffic duty” to make them familiar with traffic rules.

The students while giving tips about traffic rules, including parking, also help the policemen maintain the smooth flow of traffic. The police has stepped up the campaign against drivers violating rules to streamline the traffic.

Although policemen have been deployed in sufficient numbers at various places in the city, special attention is being paid to the centres where the traffic is the maximum, like The Mall, Dhobi Bazaar, Hospital Bazaar and areas near railway station and bus stand.

Sources said in the first four days of this month, about 200 vehicles were challaned, while in April nearly, 1,050 vehicles were challaned. The number of challans for violation of traffic rules in January was around 500 and about 410 in February, while in March, more than 700 vehicles were challaned in the city.

Although the students had helped in the smooth flow of traffic some residents alleged that some students were not taking the work seriously and for them it was just fun.

“Sometimes, the student run after a vehicle, endangering their lives and creating problems for drivers of other vehicles,” said a shopkeeper at The Mall.

Earlier, when the training of the students had started, it was alleged that some boys misbehaved with girls driving vehicles. When some residents complained about it to the senior police authorities, the students were told that only girls would check the documents of vehicles of women drivers.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (City), who is behind the “deployment” of the students, said initially some problems were faced, but whenever a complaint of misbehaviour by students was received it was death immediately.


Former head priest freed on bail
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 4
Giani Partap Singh, a former head priest of Takht Hazoor Sahib who was arrested for harbouring militants from Nanded (Maharashtra) on December 26, 1990 has been released on bail from Ajmer jail.

Talking to the Press at his native village Thatha (Tarn Taran), 28 km from here today, Giani Partap Singh said that he was released on the orders of the Supreme Court. Giani Partap Singh, a nephew of Baba Daya Singh of the Dal Baba Bidhi Chand and a confidant of Budha Dal Nihang chief, Baba Santa Singh is likely to resume duty as head granthi of Hazoor Sahib shortly. Recently, the SGPC had earmarked Rs 50,000 for a legal battle to defend Giani Partap Singh. Giani Partap Singh had played a crucial role to persuade Baba Santa Singh to appear before Akal Takht, who remained excommunicated from the Sikh Panth for a long time following of ‘kar seva’ of the Takht.


Details on illegal immigrants sought
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 4
The authorities of the Regional Passport Office (RPO) have revealed that several European and Middle East countries have sought details regarding the antecedents of more than 1,582 illegal immigrants through Indian Embassies in those countries.

Giving details about the illegal immigrants whose details had been sought, an RPO spokesperson said the list included 449 persons in Dubai, 458 in Abu Dhabi, 429 in Rome, and 246 in Milan.

He said as there was a massive trend among the youth of the Doaba region to go abroad using unauthorised means, the number of illegal immigrants, detained in various countries, had substantially increased over the past decade.


Khair trees being ‘illegally felled’

Pathankot, May 4
A spokesman of the Forest Workers Union, Mr R.S. Halla, said yesterday that felling of khair trees continued and ‘Katha’ was being produced secretly and being sold in far flung markets. Union leaders alleged that forest cover was deceasing and officials of the department were helping the “timber mafia” and workers were not being paid in the Aliwal Range in the district. Mr Aseem Kumar Sharma, District Forest Officer said, “As far as forest officials are concerned there is no connivance with the timber mafia. Some of those felling trees have been nabbed.” OC


Relief trucks sent to Rajasthan
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 4
Dr Harbans Lal, Forest Minister, flagged off 3 trucks carrying 300 quintals of wheat from the Municipal Committee Office at Sirhind today. The wheat, sent to Rajasthan as drought relief, was collected by the Youth Congress activists.

On this occasion, Dr Lal said, in view of the drought in Rajasthan, everyone should donate generously for the affected population. He said decreasing land under forests was a main cause of droughts.


Stone for link road laid
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 4
Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R) Minister, today laid the foundation stone for link road from Dinanagar-Nano Nangal-Kalichpur-Bhagwanpur-Kot Bhalla-Shalla.

Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, senior Congress leader and former state Union Minister, and Mr Khushal Bahl, Education Minister, were present on the occasion.

The PWD minister said the condition of some of the plan roads in the district was not satisfactory and the width of the road was not sufficient to cope with the increasing traffic. A project for the upgradation of eight plan roads had been submitted to the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways.


796 cases of rights’ violation in Punjab

Moga, May 4
Punjab Human Rights Commission’s Additional Director-General of Police S.K. Verma said today that the Punjab State Human Rights Commission had received about 796 cases of violation in human rights.

Of these 474 cases were from Moga, Kapurthala, Jalandhar and Nawanshahr, he told reporters here. He said even the International Human Rights Commission had shown concern over cases of violation of human rights. PTI


Freedom fighter Kaur Singh dead

Sangrur, May 4
Freedom fighter Kaur Singh Deosi today died at his home town Sunam following a prolonged illness. He was 81. Deosi played an important role in the Parja Mandal struggle and the Quit India movement and had been imprisoned thrice.

Akali MLA Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Congress MLA Surjit Singh Dhiman, SGPC member Giani Raghbir Singh, Akali leader Sanmukh Singh Mokha were among various leaders who paid homage to him and attended the cremation. UNI


BKU (E) charge against agriculture officials
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
The Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) has alleged that agriculture officials were hand in glove with the dealers of the firm selling spurious hybrid cotton seeds, fertilisers and pesticides. The firm was raided yesterday and booked for selling spurious agricultural inputs.

In a joint statement issued here yesterday, the district president and general secretary of the BKU (E), Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke and Mr Shingara Singh Mann, respectively, alleged that some officials of the Agriculture Department had caused delay on Friday to raid the premises of the accused dealers. They alleged that these officials wasted about one hour in the police station, which gave enough time to the accused dealers to shift the illegal materials from their godowns. They alleged that the dealers were given some “hints” about the likelihood of the raids, which enabled them to make “suitable arrangements”.


Rallies, processions banned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
The District Magistrate here has banned the assembling of five or more persons at public places in the district to maintain peace in the district. The orders, which would remain in force till July 8, ban rallies, processions, meetings etc without permission in the district.

In separate orders also issued under Section 144, the DM banned the parking of trucks and other heavy vehicles on the Bathinda-Goniana road, near the MSD, Guru Harikrishan and some other educational institutes to ensure safe passage for school children. These orders said no movement of trucks would be allowed near the sports stadium during 6 a.m. to 9 a.m. and then from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. The orders asked the school authorities to ensure that no vehicle was parked outside these educational institutes during the closing hours and that these vehicles should pick students from inside the school compound.


4 NRIs among six booked

Phagwara, May 4
The Punjab police has registered a case against six persons, including four NRIs, on the charge of fraud, criminal breach of trust and subjecting a woman to cruelty.

The case was registered on a complaint lodged by Rashmi Sharma against her husband Bhagat Ram Sharma, who is based in the UK, her mother-in-law Prem Rani Sharma, her brother-in-law Raghunandan Sharma, his son Diwakar Sharma (all of them from the UK), her mother-in-law’s sister Krishna Mehta of Jalandhar and Mehta’s daughter Madhu Prashar of Ferozepore, police said today. PTI


Woman killed in mishap

Phagwara, May 4
Ranjit Kaur (40) was killed while her husband Raghbir Singh was injured when a container rammed into their motor cycle at a crossing on the GT Road, near the local Rest House this afternoon. The woman, who was riding pillion, fell on the ground and died on the spot. OC


Rural poor want free education
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 4
Rani (25) Sarawan village, 35 km from here, in this district is of the view that poverty in rural areas was one of the major hurdles in promoting education in Punjab villages. Lack of awareness about the advantages of literacy was another factor in this regard, she said. Rani is one of the students of the Sakharta campaign launched by the Faridkot police last year to impart primary education to illiterate persons in the village. Talking to this reporter during a function organised by the Police Department at Sarawan yesterday to honour those who helped the police in mobilising the programme, she said due to the poor economic condition, 35 of the total 70 students, both youngsters and olders, left their studies before the completion of the course.

She said education should be declared a basic need for all and be given free of cost.

Rani said if she had got proper education, she night have been better equipped to face life’s challenges.

She underlined the need for developing better educational facilities among women who can play a better role in strengthening society.

Praising the Police Department for mobilising the literacy programme, Sunita (20), another student, laid stress on introducing evening classes in all villages for eradicating the menace of illiteracy. She could not get education due to poverty and is in favour of imparting education free of cost to ruralites.

Another student, Lakhir Kaur who hails from Kolkata and is married in the village, said she had studied up to Class III and was keen to continue her studies.

Balbir (24), another student who is a tailor said concrete and constructive steps should be taken to instill confidence among the rural illiterate persons by giving them educational facilities free of cost.

Mr M.S. Bhullar, Director-General Police (DGP), Punjab, who was the chief guest of the function, exhorted the other district police authorities to also start the same campaign in rural areas. It would prove helpful in strengthening ties between the police and villagers, besides resolving other problems, he said.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP of Faridkot, said Dhilwan Kalan village in the district would also be shortly brought under the literacy programme. The DGP honoured over 30 persons, including members of the Central Club, Kot Kapura, who had cooperated with Police Department in the campaign.


PCS aspirants want more time for mains
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
As the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) has not announced any date for the PCS (executive and allied services) main examination, a section of the aspirants have urged the authorities to provide at least 100 days for preparation for the examination.

The aspirants who have passed the PCS preliminary test said it would be very difficult for them to prepare for the examination at a short notice.

The aspirants said besides the compulsory papers of general knowledge, English, Punjabi and essay writing they would have to prepare for as many as three optional papers. They added that these graduation-level optional papers would consume much time for preparation.

Although none of the students wanted to come on record, they urged the PPSC to specify the syllabus for the main examination.

They are not sure whether the papers will be set according to the syllabus given in advertisement for the examination in 1998 or the new syllabus would be announced for the paper.

They demanded that the subject-wise date sheet for the main exam should be sent to them along with the forms for the main exams.


B.Ed. unemployed threaten stir
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
The B.Ed. unemployed have threatened to launch an agitation if they were not given jobs or if the government went ahead with contractual appointments of teachers in the state-run schools.

Mr Narotam Singh, president of the unemployed teachers front, in a statement here today said even though many posts of teachers were lying vacant in the state-run schools, the government had banned recruitments.

He said the vacancies of ETT teachers should be filled by appointing B.Ed. degree holders. He said more than 70,000 B.Ed. degree holders had been awaiting jobs since years.

He said if the government did not start the process of recruitment of B.Ed. teachers by May 15, the unemployed graduates would be forced to re-launch their agitation on a statewide basis.


BJP to launch stir on fee hike
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 4
The BJP will launch a statewide agitation against the fee hike in government colleges effected by the Congress Government. The leader of the BJP MLAs in the Punjab Assembly, Mr Avinash Khanna, stated this while talking to newspersons at Nangal yesterday. He was here to hold a meeting of the local units of the BJP.

After the hike the average fee for any student doing graduation has gone up to about Rs 1,100 per month.

Initially, the BJP will launch a signature campaign against the fee hike and submit it to the Governor, Punjab. If the government fails to rollback the hike then the BJP will launch a statewide agitation.


Rs 88.12 cr profit by coop banks
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 4
The Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank Employees Union on Friday said cooperative banks in Punjab had earned a profit of Rs 88.12 crore in 2002 which was double of the profit earned in 2000.

Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, president of the union in a press note issued here, said an employee of the bank earned a profit of Rs 10.29 on an average annually, while he withdrew a salary of Rs 2.17 per annum.

Mr Sidhu said that cooperative banks advanced a loan of Rs 5125 crore in 2002 out of which 60 per cent was for the priority sector. He claimed that no other bank could match with the loan advancement of the cooperative banks.

He said that the NPA figure of cooperative banks in Punjab was 6 percent while in commercial banks it was around 8 per cent.

He said the figure could had been far less, if the Cooperative Department had not “forced” the banks to finance Punwire, Bacospin, Abcospin and other big units which were not financially viable.

Mr Sidhu further claimed that the cost of management of bank was 2.76 per cent in 2002. He added that it was declining at the compound rate annually and in 2003 it would be around 2.5 per cent, which was less than a number of good commercial banks.

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