Friday, May 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab panchayat poll on June 29
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Conceding the Punjab Government’s request, the State Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, has fixed the elections of the 12339 village panchayats on June 29. Earlier, Mr Bains had fixed June 22 as the tentative date for the elections. The nominations will be accepted from June 16 to 19. The date of withdrawal is June 20 and scrutiny will be held on June 21.

Talking to The Tribune today, Mr Bains said: even though the Rural Development and Panchayat Department had invited application for setting up new panchayats at certain places. “it would not be desirable to establish new panchayats at this stage as it would create a number of procedural problems.

When asked what steps he had taken to ensure free and fair elections, Mr Bains said he had decided against appointing any officer from the Rural Development and Panchayats Department to conduct the poll. All returning officers and assistant returning officers would be from other departments.

Each returning officer would only entertain the nominations for 15 panchayats only Nodal points would be fixed for stationing returning officers to receive the nomination papers. Earlier, one returning officer used to receive hundreds of nomination forms.

While the overall responsibility of conducting the elections would be that of the Deputy Commissioner and the Additional Deputy Commissioner concerned, the Subdivisional Officers had also been designated as election officers to resolve problems pertaining to the panchayat elections.

Each candidate would have to submit a duplicate set of nomination papers. One copy would be retained by the returning officer while the other returned to the candidate concerned with the RO’s signatures. This step had been taken to avoid mischief at the level of the returning officer regarding the cancellation of nomination papers under political pressure. It was experienced that returning officers earlier used to take the plea that the nomination papers of a particular candidate were cancelled as he or she had not submitted all requisite papers.

However, it was revealed on inquiries that returning officers themselves used to detach certain papers to reject the nomination papers under pressure.

Mr Bains today wrote to the Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayats Department to complete at the earliest the process of reservation in panchayats. All villages where reserved-category sarpanches, panches etc are to be elected should be notified well in advance. A certain percentage of Scheduled Caste and women sarpanches and panches are required to be elected to meet the provisions of law.

Chargesheet SDM, demands Bains

Mr Bains has asked the government to charge-sheet the Jalalabad’s SDM who had got ballot papers for the municipal elections prepared there. The ballots were not prepared as per the alphabetical order. The names of Congress candidates were given top priority while preparing the ballot papers, according to Mr Bains. He said Chief Secretary, Rajan Kashyap had assured action against a police Inspector posted at Khanna in connection with his role in the recent municipal poll.


Mount Abu sets agenda for Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Punjab today is in an unenviable situation, faced as it is with a slow growth rate. It needs a culture of governance and politico-administrative commitment to implement identified reforms to meet challenges ahead.

Former Chief Secretary Y.S. Ratra says: “It is time to discuss failures rather than successes stories and save on resources and time’’. His concept of “good or e-governance’’ is different. In this, technology played only a 20 per cent role whereas administration 45 per cent and the process of e-engineering 35 per cent. Also, there is need to improve government-people interface.

One has to view the “new’’ initiative of the current Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Rajan Kashyap, in this context. He has constituted a “state appraisal and reforms committee’’ to prescribe the modalities of development to jack up the economy, improve fiscal management, restructure agriculture, implement power and administrative reforms and monitor the “agenda for action’’ prepared at the Congress Chief Ministers’ Council at Mount Abu in November last year. Thus, the road map that Mr Kashyap has prepared and got approved from the Chief Minister primarily hinges on the 10-point Mount Abu agenda.

A close look at this agenda reveals that its ingredients revolve around the social sector covering health, education, empowerment of women, and agricultural and rural development. In her communication to the Congress Chief Ministers, Ms Sonia Gandhi has focused on 1) expanding food security and removing malnutrition; 2) universal elementary education and reducing the school dropout rate of girl child; 3) health care, immunisation, providing clean drinking water and creating awareness about AIDS/HIV in the rural areas; 4) introducing income-generating schemes for women through “self-help groups’’, giving credit support and implementing the “mahila sashakitkaran resolve of October 2, 2002’’; 5) diversification in agriculture, based on agro-climatic zones and through appropriate price and market incentives; 6) convergence of land and water policies; 7) reforms in tenancy and market laws; 8) reversing declining trends in public investment in agriculture, particularly, irrigation; 9) enhancing rural employment through agri-business, agro-industry; and 10) power reforms by a fixed date.

The administrative departments are now required to keep this agenda for action in view while undertaking 1) decentralisation of funds, functions and functionaries to the panchayati raj institutions and urban local bodies, 2) improving delivery of socio-economic services and undertake resource mobilisation, 3) downsizing the government, 4) exploring public-private sector partnership and 5) focusing on disinvestment in public sector undertakings.

Punjab has a long way to go on these issues, as revealed in the “action-traken’’ reports of some departments. These reports revealed that what impeded implementation was either paucity or non-release or diversion of money from the Centre meant for specific purposes and projects. No wonder, Punjab’s road infrastructure is as much in a dilapidated condition as its health service delivery system or education or removal of malnutrition or decentralisation of powers to grassroots institutions etc.

No doubt, Punjab’s finances are visibly under stress. But equally discernible is the in-built political and bureaucratic resistance to change or preparedness to meet challenges ahead. Yet, Mr Kashyap sees a ray of hope after his interactions with the administrative Secretaries. “A change in attitudes will soon become visible. Suggestions on refurbishing the government’s image are being received. There is realisation that much can be done despite financial stress”, he asserts.


An eloquent handshake
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Though there is nothing unusual for two political opponents to meet and greet each other, it certainly is unusual for the two strong political opponents of Punjab — Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal — to run into each other and exchange pleasantries more than once within a few hours today.

There has been so much “bitterness” in their relationship since the last Assembly elections that they have not only been avoiding each other but also involved in an unprecedented war of statements and accusations.

Though Mr Badal and his Akali Dal had been stating publicly that they were ready to cooperate with the government for anything in the interest of the state, yet bitterness had been growing. Today was perhaps a welcome change.

It all happened at Punjab Raj Bhavan where the new Governor, Justice Om Prakash Verma, was to take office. Both Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal were seated in the front row after they had exchanged greetings and shaken hands with each other. Mr Badal sat next to the Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Dr Kewal Krishan. Several Akali Dal leaders, including MLAs, were also present.

In fact, it was the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, who paved way for the first exchange of formal greetings between the two leaders after the outgoing Governor, Lieut-Gen JFR Jacob (retd), was given a send off.

At that time, Mr Badal was sitting in the pandal and on either side of him were the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, and Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh. Later, they also met inside Punjab Raj Bhavan. In fact, they met and formally greeted each other three to four times during the day today.

In fact, it was for the first time since elections to the Punjab Assembly in February last year that the two leaders shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.


Dhariwal case: PSHRC restrains police
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has insisted that the DIG, Counter-Intelligence, should re-investigate the registration of three cases against the sarpanch of a Tarn Taran village out of political vendetta after the Additional Director-General of Police attached with the commission indicted the police there in his preliminary enquiry.

The PSHRC, however, directed the Additional Director-General of Police, Security, to provide "adequate security so that the life and property of the complainant as well as members of his family are not in jeopardy."

The commission also restrained the TarnTaran police from proceeding further in connection with the three cases registered against the sarpanch, including his arrest, as the matter would be re-investigated by the DIG, Counter-Intelligence, Mr Dinkar Gupta.

The PSHRC members — Justice N.C. Jain and Mr N.K. Arora — yesterday found no ground for review of its April 30 order for reinvestigation by a DIG after an inquiry under an ADGP had already been conducted.

Counsel earlier had pleaded that in the light of the findings recorded by the ADGP, it was a fit case for a CBI probe.

Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi, who represented the aggrieved sarpanch, however, opposed the April 30 order of the commission for holding reinvestigation after the ADGP attached with the commission had already conducted an independent inquiry and submitted a detailed seven-page report.

The report by the ADGP, PSHRC, said police officials misusing their powers had got three FIRs registered against Mr Gurdip Singh, sarpanch of Dhariwal village in Tarn Taran, and an ardent Akali supporter. The registration of these cases was a clear-cut case of human rights violations, the report added.

"In view of the partial attitude of the district police, these cases need to be reinvestigated by the crime wing under the supervision of the Additional-Director-General of Police, Crime. It is also recommended that the complainant — Mr Gurdip Singh — should be provided protection and interim relief for the sufferings," read the report.

The report held that the three FIRs dated May 2, 2002, July 31, 2002, and January 7, 2003, were registered against sarpanch Gurdip Singh and others after the Congress emerged victorious in the last assembly elections. Since Sarpanch Gurdip Singh belonged to the Shiromani Akali Dal, he helped Mr Adesh Partap Singh to win the Patti assembly seat where his main opponent, Mr Tarlochan Singh Chakwalia (Congress), was defeated.

In one of the cases, the ADGP report said, Sarpanch Gurdip Singh, was convalescing at the Sector 16 General Hospital in Chandigarh following a heart attack when he was shown to be envolved in an armed scuffle at Dhariwal. In another case when he had absconded he has been shown to have ploughed the field of a woman of the village.

The PSHRC has fixed May 29 as the next date of hearing in the case.


VC orders probe into ‘assault’
Law school Director writes to HC on threat
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 8
The Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, has decided to form a high-level fact-finding committee to probe the alleged “humiliation” of Dr Daljit Singh, Director of the school of law here, by the father of a girl student, who created a scene on the campus on Monday and threatened to kill the Director after the latter’s refusal to allow his daughter to sit in the examination on account of shortage of lectures.

Meanwhile, taking serious note of the incident, the Guru Nanak Dev Teachers Association and the staff posted at the regional centre of the university here has condemned the “assault’ on the Director and has demanded exemplary action so that such incidents are not repeated in future.

The Director has faxed a letter to the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court expressing fear that since the mother of the student is a senior judicial officer posted at Hoshiarpur, he may be framed in some false case.

Dr V.P. Kataria, father of the student, has denied that he behaved in an irresponsible manner and alleged that the records pertaining to 10 students, including his daughter, were tampered with by the Director and his staff.

Talking to The Tribune on the phone, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of the university, said since the issue was a serious one, the university had decided to form a high-level fact finding committee to look into the matter. The committee would submit its report within three days. “Whichever side is found gulity will face strong action. If the student and her father are found guilty, the university may consider denial of readmisision on this account,” said Dr Singh, adding that “we have received a complaint from the Director while no complaint has been received from the other side so far”. He said nobody, including the Vice-Chancellor, had the power to condone the shortage of lectures of a student.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, said action was being taken against Dr Kataria under Section 506 of the IPC on the basis of a complaint filed by Dr Daljit Singh at the Sadar police station. While requesting police protection in view of the incident, Dr Daljit Singh has alleged in his letter to the Chief Justice that the couple was also using influence of a local senior police officer.

Meanwhile, extending full support to the stance taken by the Director, the teaching and non-teaching staff of the regional campus of the university has condemned the behaviour of the girl’s father. A statement signed by about 20 members of the staff said the issue demanded urgency in view of the position of the wife of Dr Kataria as a judicial officer. In a separate statement, Dr Narpinder Singh, president of the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers Association, said such a “criminal action” on the part of an outsider against a teacher, who was working in accordance with the university rules, would vitiate the academic atmosphere on the campus. The association also demanded the registration of a criminal case.

The lecture statement of the School of Legal Studies showed that the daughter of Dr Kataria had attended 327 lectures against the mandatory 331, Dr Kataria, who claimed that he was speaking on behalf of all 10 students, alleged that records pertaining to lectures were manipulated by the Director and his staff due to their “vindictive” attitude towards students. Demanding a high-level probe, Dr Kataria said he, along with parents of other students, had given a representation to the Pro-Vice Chancellor of the university.


No VIP to open Shan-e-Hind Gate?
Chander Parkash and Anirudh Gupta
Tribune News Service

Hussainiwala (Ferozepore), May 8
The “Shane-e-Hind” gate, which has been erected at the joint checkpost (JCP) of the BSF and Pak Rangers here, to signify India's glory and give a befitting match to Pakistan's “Fakhr-e-Pakistan” gate, has been awaiting a VIP for its inauguration for the past five months.

It was a dream come true for the residents of this area when the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, laid the foundation stone of the massive gateway of India about two years ago. The residents felt that their dream would be fulfilled as it would be the equivalent of the “Fakhr-e-Pakistan” gate, which was erected about 33 years ago. Most of those, who came here to witness the Retreat Ceremony of BSF sentinel and Pak Rangers every evening, felt the need of a structure matching “Fakhr-e-Pakistan”.

The residents feel that if no VIP was willing to inaugurate the gate, then the authorities concerned should insist on it.

Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, when contacted, pointed out that PUDA, which had erected the massive gate, had been trying to get it inaugurated from the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. He added that as the gate was of national importance, a VIP of a stature at least of a Chief Minister was required for the inauguration.

The massive structure, which depicts the irrepressible revolutionary spirit of the three great heroes of the Indian freedom struggle — Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev — who embraced the gallows for the motherland, was twice planned to be inaugurated by the Chief Minister, but on both occasions, the things could not materialise due to various reasons.

Mr Raminder Singh while confirming the fact that the Chief Minister could not inaugurate the structure on March 23, the martyrdom day of the three martyrs, and on April 14, Baisakhi, said he had been taking up the matter with the authorities concerned. He said that he hoped that “Shane-e-Hind” gate would be inaugurated soon.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that for some time, the construction work of the gate remained suspended as the agency concerned failed to comprehend its design. The problem was later solved. The 42 feet long, 91 feet wide and 56 feet high “Shane-e-Hind” gate depicts a blend of the country's rich heritage and modern architecture. About Rs 75 lakh has been spent on its erection.

PUDA has also been carrying out beautification of the area in and around the National Martyrs Memorial here where the bodies of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were unceremoniously cremated on the banks of the Sutlej.


CBI to join hunt for Kohli
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 8
The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has today given the go-ahead to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to coordinate with the Punjab Police and issue arrest warrants against Maninder Pal Singh Kohli. He is wanted by Interpol and Scotland Yard for alleged abduction, rape and murder of 17-year-old British student Hannah Foster in South Hampton on March 14 this year.

Kohli (35), whose parents are currently residing in SAS Nagar, is allegedly on the run since the body of Hannah Foster was discovered in an undergrowth, five miles from her home, two days after the incident. Kohli had left for India on March 18, four days after the incident, reportedly to visit his ailing mother here. He had fled on March 29 after receiving a phone call from his wife who was then residing with her father in the UK.

Even as three detectives of the Southhampton police led by Detective Superintendent Alan Betts are in New Delhi to trace Kohli, his father Jagjit Singh today in an interview to TNS said that his son was being framed by the British police, most likely with help from Kohli’s father-in-law who was settled in the UK. Pointing that his son had been planning to visit his ailing mother since December last year, Mr Jagjit Singh said that Kohli had sold off his flat days before he was scheduled to leave for India. ‘‘My son’s father-in-law is a money minded person and when the deal was finalised he in fact coaxed my son to leave the UK immediately so that he could collect the money.’’

Bridging another gap in the investigations by the police, Mr Jagjit Singh also stated that Kohli had a return ticked with him when he came to India. ‘‘But he left home telling us that he is going back to the UK as a problem had come up and now he will return with his wife and two children.’’ said Mr Jagjit Singh.

Kohli, a graduate from Patiala had left for the UK in 1994 and worked at various places. He was last working as a delivery driver for a firm. According to the police, he lived just a few hundred yards from Hannah’s family. British police had previously questioned and bailed Kohli’s wife in the UK. The couple’s home and Kohli’s workplace had also been searched by the police. ‘‘His family was to join him in India on March 31 but he left home before that,’’ says Mr Jagjit Singh.

Kohli became the main suspect in the murder of Hannah after information was received that she had talked to her friends about an Asian man stalking her. The man of Asian appearance is also reported to have spoken to Hannah close to her home on two separate occasions at the end of January and the end of February this year. The UK police had also revealed that Hannah made a 999 (emergency) phone call but no discernible sounds were heard. Hannah’s post-mortem examination showed that she had been raped and strangulated.

When contacted, Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIG (I) Punjab, confirmed that the warrants valid in India against Maninder Kolhi should reach the Punjab police any time tomorrow after which the CBI would be coordinating with the district police to start its own investigations.


Topper lays stress on self-study
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
Ankur Garg, a 22 year-old resident of Patiala, who did his schooling from Lady of Fatima School in the city and his intermediate from Mohindra College, besides being a student of IIT, Delhi, before taking the IAS examination and clearing it in his first attempt, is one of the youngest students ever to clear such examination. In an exclusive interview he talks about his “dream” and how it was realised, besides a piece of advice for those studying for the civil services.

Q When did you first think of the IAS?

A When I was in class III, I self-consciously started preparing for the examination. I had kept myself up to date with my surroundings by reading newspapers. However, I started preparing seriously for the examination only during my last year of graduation in IIT, Delhi.

Q What was your parents’ role?

A My father (who is a doctor serving in the Government Rajindra hospital) inspired me to aspire for the IAS. He explained intricacies and challenges one had to face to make civil services a career goal. My family stood behind me throughout my preparation.

Q What was the basic criterion for selecting your subjects for the main examination?

A I chose physics and chemistry because of my keen interest in the two subjects, my competence in them and my engineering background.

Q When did you start your actual preparations for the preliminary exam?

A I had 10 days to devote exclusively to the preliminary examination. This was just after my final examination in IIT, Delhi. I decided to concentrate exclusively on my subject — physics because each question of the optional subject carries two and a half marks compared to one mark awarded for each correct question answered in the general studies paper. Besides this I was confident of doing well in general studies because I had kept myself abreast of national and international events throughout. I went through Brilliant’s notes for physics as it was the most concise available study material in physics.

Q What do you think is the ideal self-study or guidance or a combination of both?

A I feel the ideal position is hundred per cent self study. But alongwith this one must have a good teacher at hand to whom one can turn for guidance whenever required. However, there is no substitute for self-study. For the main examination I was under the guidance of Mr Vinod Sharma who has been my source of inspiration and stength throughout. Whenever I was in doubt I used to go to him and whenever he had any special subject in mind he used to call me.

Q Any special preparation for the interview?

A In my frank opinion you cannot prepare for the interview, which reflects your personality. It had been developing during the past 20 years or so, therefore you cannot change it in three months in any way. However, one can ask seniors and friends about some obvious shortcomings which can be corrected somewhat. I feel coaching by institutes in the department only makes one more self-conscious.

Q Any magic mantra for sure success?

A I can only subscribe to the conventially accepted definition of good preparation. This is sincere and single-minded devotion, belief in your efforts, faith in God and good wishes of parents, teachers and friends. If you have all these success is assured. As far as the steps I took I feel reading two newspapers a day (Ankur read The Hindu, The Economic Times and The Tribune) is necessary. besides this I feel my IIT background helped me because I feel IIT institutions are designed not only for academic excellence but developing overall personality. I learned the ability to think rationally, work in a team mode, solving each problem step by step. Besides this, the atmosphere of competition amongst the best brains in the country honed my intellectual skills to the maximum.


‘New Akali Dal in 2 months’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 8
Former speaker and Akali leader Ravi Inder Singh today revealed that new Akali Dal would be formed in two months to counter former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and the Congress.

“A six-member committee comprising Kuldip Singh Wadala, president of SAD (Democratic), Jagdev Singh Talwandi, former SGPC chief, Jasbir Singh Rode, former Jathedar Akal Takht, Mal Singh Ghuman and Bhai Beer Singh, SGPC members and myself have been formed to make draft of the constitution for the proposed Akali Dal,” Ravi Inder Singh told reporters at a press conference here today.

Final shape to the new party would be given in two months with the blessings of Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, convener of Panthic Morcha, currently in Canada, he said adding that the new Akali Dal would be based on the principles adopted in 1920 at the time of formation of original Shiromani Akali Dal. On the reports that very soon Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, would align with Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Speaker, who was accompanied by Jathedar Talwandi, still maintained that Tohra would not join hands with Mr Badal as he was a true Sikh and even performed Ardas at Akal Takht along with several other leaders for not aligning with Badal in his life as the latter was guilty and even lowered the dignity of Akal Takht during his five years stint as the Chief Minister.

Making a scathing attack on the Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh, Ravi Inder alleged that both Captain and Badal were hand in glove as the former has not taken any action against the latter instead of promising in poll manifesto. “Infact, Capt Amarinder Singh is supporting the cause of Badal by not initiating action into Rs 60 crore Sangat Darshan scam, recently unearthed in a CAG interim report,” he said, demanding that Badal should be arrested immediately for his misdeeds.

He further said that the Punjab Government was pursing anti-people policies and there was no difference between the SAD-BJP rule and that of the Congress, which was virtually shielding Badal.


Panel to curb indiscipline in Congress
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 8
To streamline functioning of the Congress party before parliamentary elections, the newly formed Disciplinary Action Committee (DAC) has decided to deal with indiscipline in the party.

The committee, constituted by Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief H.S. Hanspal, has also decided action against the workers and leaders who allegedly worked against party’s interests of, particularly, in townships Hoshiarpur, Hariana (Hoshiarpur), Sunam, Mansa and Faridkot where party’s candidates suffered defeat due to infighting in the recent civic body polls.

The five-member committee, headed by the Mr Nasib Singh Gill, has already received complaints on the role played by certain party workers and leaders which reportedly led to the defeat of party candidates at some places.

Actually, the committee is not in a mood to tolerate indiscipline in the party. Moreover, Mr Hanspal has given free hand in this matter to curb indiscipline, said Mr Harsimrat Kaur, a member of the committee and a former Chairperson of the Punjab State Social Welfare Advisory Board to The Tribune here today. She added the committee was looking into the complaint regarding civic body elections and the issue would be discussed at the next meeting of the committee to be held at Chandigarh on May 10. She maintained that most of party leaders, except the MPs, came under the purview of the committee.

Asked whether the committee would recommend action against any party MLA or minister if he or she was found promoting groupism in the party, Ms Harsimrat Kaur, said it was up to the party leadership and a matter of unanimity among members of the committee. “In principle all of us agree that time had come when indiscipline should be eradicated from the party. There should be no such incident that it is a party of “Aya Rams, Gaya Rams”, asserted Ms Harsimrat Kaur.

Asked whether the committee would be a show piece as was the case of the Congress in the past and in case of other parties, Ms Harsimrat Kaur maintained that the committee had started working with a brief to deliver results this time.


Bhinder denies SAD, BJP charge
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 8
Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister and senior Congress leader, at a function at Sahlechack under the Kalanaur development yesterday distributed grants for development among the panchayats identified as Bor Wadala, Bhangwa Manj, Kot Mian Sahib, Balaggan, Bhopar Saidan, Aroora, and Sahlechack. The grants amounted to Rs 8.12 lakh.

Mrs Bhinder also distributed five cheques for Rs 20,000 each among four residents of Sahlechack village and one of Dehriwal.

The Congress leader said the financial management in the state had improved and development works had been taken up. She said Nabard had come forward to help the Punjab government to repair and maintain old roads as well as pave new linkroads. Nabards had also financed the drinking water supply scheme.


Former minister rejoins Cong
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
Former Minister Harnek Singh Gharuan and Mr Balbir Singh Sidhu today rejoined the Congress. They had left the party before the Assembly elections as they had been denied the party ticket.

The President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S. Hanspal, welcomed them into the party. Former Union Minister, Mr Buta Singh, Mrs Satinder Kaur Gujral, Mr Ram Pal Daipi, Mr Raj Pal Singh and other senior leaders were present at the occasion.


CPI slams govt on several fronts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The CPI today urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to withdraw the hike in fee in colleges and universities, revise user charges for drinking water and sewerage and scrap special police districts to cut expenditure on police establishment.

Addressing a press conference here today, Dr Joginder Dayal, Secretary of the state unit of the CPI, said the police security to VIPs should be withdrawn immediately. The security cover should be retained only in case of those who faced a ‘real’ threat to life.

He said there was a need for heavy pruning of the bureaucracy at the top level to cut down expenditure. In a tiny state like Punjab, the administrative set-up had become so top heavy that it had started “creaking”.

Dr Dayal said bureaucracy ruled supreme in the state. Elected representatives had been sidelined. The state was in a situation similar to that during the prolonged Governor rule before 1992. People had no platform to get their grievances redressed. The state was on the verge of a financial collapse. No new job opportunities were being created.

He pointed out that a BJP MLA had to polish shoes to collect money for the repair of a road. That spoke volumes of the state of affairs in Punjab.

Dr Dayal said the CPI would hold a state-level dharna-cum-rally here on May 26 to protest against the “anti-people” policies of the state government.


Dissent over issue of seva by women
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 8
Even as the SGPC today claimed that most of the Sikh women organisations who deposed before the four-member committee opposed allowing ‘seva’ by baptised Sikh women in the sanctum sanctorum, a former general secretary of shiromani committee, Bibi Kiranjot Kaur, objected to the “stage-managed” show.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur urged the committee members to record her dissenting note that the Manager of Darbar Sahib, Mr Ajaib Singh, had issued letters to the women organisations even without the consent of committee members.

However, the manager and personal assistant to the SGPC chief found themselves in a piquant situation when they were rebuffed by the committee members and told that they should not have brought the women here.

Bibi Kiranjot Kaur asked the committee members that the baptised women who wanted to perform kar seva should not be stopped. Though the committee had not invited any women representative, a large number of them succeeded in conveying their feelings to the committee members.

The personal assistant to SGPC chief admitted before the committee that he was directed by Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, who is also chairman of the committee, to seek the views of various Sikh women organisation on the seva issue.

On the other hand, Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, senior vice-president, SGPC, and Mr Raghbir Singh, personal assistant to the SGPC chief, claimed that most of the women who met the committee members opposed any move to allow ‘seva’ by women in the sanctum sanctorum. They said such a move was against tradition.


Honour Capt Bhinder, forum urges Kalam
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
The Sikh Forum in a letter to the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, has urged him to present the highest peacetime gallantry award for the late Capt Manjinder Singh Bhinder, who saved more than 150 lives in the Uphar theatre tragedy in New Delhi in June, 1997, without caring for the lives of his wife and minor son who also died in the tragedy.

“A Vir Chakra is awarded to those who save a couple of lives, but it is really unfortunate that the recognition for Capt Bhinder’s brave act is missing till date,” said Capt Chanan Singh Sidhu, president, Sikh Forum, in a press conference here today. The unflinching resolve of this Army officer even went unnoticed in the Army, he alleged.

Capt Vardip Singh (retd), father of the unsung hero, who was present at the conference, said “My family is one of the few in the country to have six freedom fighters. I asked my son, who was interested in agriculture sciences, to join the Army to serve the country, but what has the country and the Army given to me: I am fighting court cases for getting pensionary benefits from the Army and for punishment to those responsible for the tragedy.

The Sikh Forum has threatened to sit in front of Amar Jawan Jyoti with the aggrieved family as a mark of protest if the government failed to do justice.


VB books Garcha’s brothers
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 8
The state Vigilance Bureau has registered a fresh case against former Technical Education Minister and Senior Akali leader Jagdish Singh Garcha and his two bothers on charges of forgery, cheating, land grabbing and possessing assets disproportionate to known sources of income. It has also gathered details of their property.

Mr Mann Singh Garcha and Mr Sukhdev Singh Garcha, brothers of Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha have been booked under Sections 420,467,468 and 471 of the IPC, besides the Prevention of Corruption Act on the basis of an inquiry conducted by the bureau.

A woman, Harjit Kaur, close to Mr Mann Singh Garcha has also been made a co-accused in the case. She lives in a large but disputed house near the Dholewal chowk in Ludhiana which is disputed property as a brother of the woman is also claiming its ownership. He is accusing the Garcha family of grabbing his property.

Mr Jagdish Singh Garcha was booked by the bureau seven months ago on charges of cheating and corruption and had been released on bail recently.

Both his brothers are liquor contractors and were accused of land grabbing.

Highly-placed Vigilance sources disclosed to TNS that the inquiry had found evidence that the Garcha family had amassed movable and immovable property worth several crores in the past few years. An FIR has been lodged in this regard. However, local vigilance officials are tight-lipped over the issue.

The incidents of land grabbing include several acres near Gill village, besides a large number of plots in posh areas of the city. The sources said the case had been registered after a detailed inquiry was conducted in this regard by DSP, Vigilance Bureau, Sarup Singh.

He had submitted the inquiry report to senior officers in Chandigarh last evening on which the orders regarding the registration of the case were issued. Sources said the authorities have also ordered the arrest of the duo.


3.5 cr earmarked for model gram scheme
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 8
The state government has identified two villages from each block of the district and these would be developed as model gram villages having all urban facilities.

The government would spend Rs 3.5 crore on the scheme. Besides this, the government would also spend Rs 3.55 crore in the current financial year on various social security schemes, including pensions to old-aged, widows, and the handicapped in the district, said Mr Amarjeet Singh Samra, Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation-cum-Chairman District Planning Board, Fatehgarh Sahib, while presiding over a meeting of the District Planning and Development Board at Bachat Bhavan here today.

Mr Samra also granted ex post facto sanction to an amount of Rs 6.77 crore, which was spent in the previous financial year, of which Rs 1.12 crore had been spent on various SC welfare schemes.

Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, Fatehgarh Sahib, assured that the amount sanctioned for the various projects would be spent properly. He directed the officials to attend their offices regularly and in time and to redress the grievances of the public on priority basis.

He directed all officials to send the progress report of the development works initiated and completed by their respective departments.

Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker and member, District Planning Board, also raised the problems of the villages falling in his constituency.

Later, the minister also presided over the District Grievances Committee meeting. At this meeting, many complaints were sorted out on-the-spot.


Shiv Sena greets Pak MPs with black flags
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 8
Raising slogans against Pakistan, Shiv Sena workers today protested against the Pakistani MPs’ delegation at Jalandhar railway station on their arrival by the Shatabdi bound for Delhi.

About 100 Shiv Sainiks gathered at the railway station and as soon as the Shatabdi arrived, they started raising slogans against Pakistan, like “Mitrata mangoge khoon denge, Kashmir mangoge bhoon denge” (If you demand friendship, we will give blood, if you demand Kashmir, we will shoot you) by showing black flags and banners.

A heavy posse of policemen was deployed at the station to avoid any untoward incident. The policemen snatched most of the banners well before the arrival of the train even as the Shiv Sainiks were seen pleading that they would hold a peaceful protest.

Sharry Rehman, a member of the delegation, came at the door of the compartment to inquire about the happenings at the platform from a policeman.

Swami Pushpinder, president of the state wing of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray), criticised Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for extending friendship to Pakistan. He said there should be no talks till Pakistan stopped cross-border terrorism.

Amritsar: The all India Hindu Shiv Sena has threatened to stop the Lahore-Delhi bus, if the ban by Pakistan on Hindus to visit their shrines in Pakistan was not lifted.

The sena in a statement here today has threatened that earlier resentment against Pakistan was shown in 2000 after Parliament was attacked. The same resentment is brewing amongst the Hindus being denied visas to Pakistan for many years now. The Hindu pilgrimage in Pakistan comprises visits to Katasraj shrines, Sada Bala, Sakar Sindh, Mata Hinglaj Devi in Baluchistan, Gorakhnath Puninanak Gandi, Sri Hanuman Gadhi Mandir, holy Amarkund, Guru Gola Nath Tila, Gorakh Nath Mandir Peshawar, Shree Baba Dayal Dal Mandir Jhang, Shree Nani Devi Mandir, Balochistan.

In a separate letter to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee the sena has urged that matter of repair of Hindu shrines be taken up with Pakistan and Hindus be provided access and security in Pakistan. He stated that following Hindu shrines are in dilapidated condition. These are Sri Bhagwan Narsingh Mandir Multan, Sri Ragni Maharani Landi, Prachin Nagri Arora where Shere Bhagwan Krishan took the Chakra and bathed in Sindhu Nadi, Sheetla Mata Mandir Lahore, Bhagat Pralah, Doodhwali Mata Mandir Shah Almi Lahore, Shree Maharishi Balmiki Mandir Lahore and Hakikat Rai Shahidi Sthal Lahore.

LUDHIANA: Activists of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackeray) showed black flags and raised anti - Pakistan slogans at the railway station here this evening.

The police had made security arrangements. As the train stopped at the platform, the Sena activists led by local unit chief Rajeev Tandon and others pulled out black flags from their pockets and raised anti-Pakistan slogans, demanding the return of the MPs. They also condemned terrorism in the border state and reiterated that Kashmir belonged to India.

The cops pushed the protesters out of the station. No arrests were made.


Posts vacant in health centres
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 8
Despite the state government claims of providing better health care to the people it is said to be in a “bad shape” due to vacant posts of doctor (Medical Officer) in the district, especially in the rural area dispensaries and other health centres.

Sources in the Health Department told TNS that 38 per cent of posts of medical officer (MO) were vacant in the district.

Of the 262 sanctioned posts of MO 100 have been lying vacant at civil hospitals and other health centres.

As per information a post of district epidemiologist, in the office of the Civil Surgeon here has been lying vacant. Of the 17 sanctioned posts of MO at the Sangrur Civil Hospital four are vacant, while at the Dhuri Civil Hospital two are vacant. In Sunam and Barnala Civil Hospitals one post is vacant at each hospital. Likewise at Malerkotla Civil Hospital of the sanctioned 11 posts of MO only two are vacant.

In the rural health blocks in the district there is an acute shortage of doctors in the dispensaries and health centres. There are 10 health blocks in the district. More then 50 per cent posts of MO have been lying vacant in Kohrian and Sherpur blocks, while about 50 per cent posts have been laying vacant in Moonak, Dhanaula and Mehal Kalan blocks.

The sources said in the Longowal block of the 20 posts of MO, seven were vacant. In the Kohrian block of the 17 sanctioned posts of MO 13 posts were vacant. Thirteen posts of MO in the Moonak block were vacant.

In Sherpur block the situation is worse. Of the 14 posts of MO nine are vacant.

The sources added that Dhanuala block had 33 posts of MO of which 16 were still vacant.

In Tapa block six posts were vacant while in Mehal Kalan block nine were vacant, they added.

There are seven posts of MO vacant in Panj Griayan block, five posts in Amargarh block and two posts in Bhawanigarh block.

Posts under other categories of paramedical staff are lying vacant in the district, which include trained midwives and multipurpose workers (female).


World Red Cross Day observed
Tribune Reporters

Ropar, May 8
The district administration observed World Red Cross Day today by organising a function at Government Primary School, Bheora. The SDM, Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, distributed five sewing machines and two wheelchairs among the needy.

KAPURTHALA: A function was organised at the local Red Cross Bhavan in connection with World Red Cross Day.

Ashu Verma, chairperson of the District Red Cross Society, presided over the function.

Ashu Verma honoured eight blood donors with appreciation certificates. Sewing machines were given to 15 needy women. Certificates were also given to eight art and craft teachers.

TARN TARAN: A function was organised here on the occasion of World Red Cross Day under the chairmanship of Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, in which a large number of schoolchildren, teachers and representatives of social organisations participated.

The participants resolved to work for creating awareness against AIDS. Ms Vinay Sharma, Tehsildar, Mr Surinder Pal Singh Pannu, Naib Tehsildar, also spoke on the occasion.


Residents donate blood on Red Cross Day
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, May 8
Various organisations held blood donation camps in the city today to observe International Red Cross Day.

Mr Gurtej Singh, Assistant Commissioner (General), inaugurated a camp at the local Red Cross Bhavan at which 16 persons donated blood.

Mr Gurtej Singh said the volunteers of the Red Cross should made effort so that more people are involved in its activities.

Ms Raj Gupta, Chairperson, District Aid Control Organisation, said all healthy persons should donate blood at least once a year. She said for checking spreading of HIV, special care should be taken while transfusing the blood.

Another blood donation camp was organised by the Aasra Welfare Society at the local Dashmesh Public Senior Secondary School. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former minister, while speaking on the occasion said the NGO could help spread the message of blood donation. He said the social organisations should educate the people to explode myths about the bad effects of blood donation.

Students of Dashmesh Public Senior Secondary School, Guru Nanak Dev Senior Secondary School, Des Raj School, Khalsa School and NSS volunteers of the District Institute of Education and Training (DIET) donated 35 units of blood in the camp. All these donors have donated blood for the first time.

MOGA: The Minister of Medical Education and Research, Punjab, Mr Santokh Singh, presided over the Red Cross celebrations here.

The function was organised by the State Red Cross and the District Red Cross with the help of NGOs, panchayats and educational institutions.

The minister flagged off a dental van donated to the Red Cross today by Non-Resident Indians Sabha, Moga, president Maninder Singh. The van is fitted with the latest equipment and is the first in the country with any District Red Cross.

The minister also flagged off a rally of local students to create awareness about AIDs, this being the subject of this year’s World Red Cross Day which is observed worldwide to mark the birth anniversary of the founder of the organisation.

Mr Santokh Singh also presented 50 tricycles, 20 artificial limbs and 10 hearing aids to handicapped persons.

A blood donation camp was held by doctors of the local Civil Hospital.

The minister also gave Rs 50,000 to the local Red Cross.


Handicap seek free education, jobs
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 8
Surjit Kaur (11), a handicapped student of class VI of government Senior Secondary School, Machaki Mal Singh in this district, has appealed to the Punjab Government to provide her with proper educational facilities free of cost. She had lost her left leg to polio at the age of one year. She regretted that her widow mother was unable to look after her four brothers and sisters in the absence of proper source of income.

Surjit along with her mother Ranjit Kaur had come here today to attend the World Red Cross Day function organised by the Red Cross Society, Faridkot.

She added that the government should take concrete and constructive steps to rehabilitate the handicapped, particularly students. She also demanded a government job for her mother.

Another disabled Gurpreet Kaur (14), studying in class VIII at Government Senior Secondary School, Golewala, said the poor financial condition of her family had forced her sisters Sandeep and Hardeep to drop their studies after passing the middle standard examinations. Her family had got only 1.5 acres which was unsufficient to make their both ends meet. To run the family her father worked as a labourer. She feared that if no financial help was given to her family she might also face the same fate as her two elder sisters.

Expressing her woes Veerpal (20), who always got distinction in studies till the senior secondary level, regretted that the poor economic conditions of her family had affected her studies. She along with her brother was running a tailoring business to meet the daily needs of the family. Her father Jit Singh (70), who has been ill for the past 10 years, has been unable to do take up any job. She has also demanded government job.

Another disabled, Mamta (25) of Kot Kapura, who also had to leave her studies, demanded a government job for getting her two sons proper education.

Presiding over the function Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner and Chairman, District Red Cross Society, stated that the Punjab government had reserved a 2 per cent jobs for the handicapped in different overnment departments.

He said he would take up the issue with the state government in this regard.

Students of the local college of nursing presented a skit on AIDS. A cultural programme was also presented by the students of Umang school. Later, the Deputy Commissoner distributed more than 40 tricycles, besides hearing aids, callipers, artificial limbs, wheel chairs and surgical shoes.

A blood donation camp was also organised in which 17 persons donated blood.


Panel to probe building scam
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
The Local Government has constituted a high-level two-member commission to probe the multi-crore building scam. Twelve officials of the building department were chargesheeted in the scam.

The commission has been asked to submit its report within three months. The commission comprises Mr K.C. Mani, a retired IAS officer of Ludhiana, and Mr A.S. Lamba, a vigilance officer from the Local Government Department, Chandigarh.

Twentytwo buildings had come under the scanner for blatant violations of building bylaws here.

In an order to the vigilance cell of the Local Government Department, Chandigarh, Mr Sarvesh Kaushal, Secretary, Local Government, has said that municipal town planners Hemant Batra and V.K. Talwar, assistant town planners, Shakti Sagar Bhatia, Bankey Bihari, Suresh Raj, I.P. Randhawa, Assistant Engineer R.S. Randhawa and building inspectors Raman Kumar, Surjit Singh, Madan Gopal, Narinder Sharma and Suresh Kumar were chargesheeted in February this year.


End of a literary dynast
S.S. Hans

Col Narinder Pal Singh was born in 1923 in Kania in Lyallpur district. He was at one time Deputy Military Secretary to the President, Dr S. Radhakrishnan, and later Military Attache to the Indian Embassy in Paris.

He authored numerous novels. He is rightly famous for four historical novels — “Khandio Tikhi” (Sharper Than the Sword), “Valon Nikki” (Finer than Hair), “Eti Marga Jana” (This is the Way the World Ends) and “Sarkar Baajon” (But for the Sovereign). It is a grand narrative of three generations of sanguinary struggle of the Sikhs against the Mughal Empire. “Ik Sarkar Baajon” laments the rout of the Sikhs in the first Anglo-Sikh war, in the absence of a powerful leader like Ranjit Singh. “Shakti” is a novel about woman power.

Col Narinder Pal Singh had the unique distinction of not only winning the Sahitya Akademi for himself, but also having a wife in Prabhjot Kaur, who is also a Sahitya Akademi awardee. Besides his daughter, Nirupma Kaur, is an established poetess.

Of late, Colonel Singh was suffering from osteo-arthritis. He would be long missed and remembered as a literary dynast.

Sham Singh adds: Col Narinder Pal Singh joined the Army in 1942 and wrote his first novel “Malah”, which was published by Hind Publishers. His other novels — “Sir Dije Taan Na Kije”, “Punia ke Masya”, “Shutardhar”, “Tappu”, “Bamulahza Hoshiar” and “Mere To Girdhar Gopal” are all historical novels.

He also penned down his travels to several countries, including the erstwhile Soviet Union. Mr Gulzar Singh Sandhu, former Editor of Punjabi Tribune and Dr Raghbir Singh, Editor Sirjana, expressed grief over his demise.


Govt ‘allowing’ violation of traffic rules
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 8
Safety saves; speed thrills but kills, follow traffic rules for safe driving. These are some of the slogans being used by the Punjab Government to make the people follow traffic rules in letter and spirit for safety and to minimise road accidents. But what has been happening for the past many years is that truck operators continue to violate traffic rules, particularly during the procurement season.

For the past many years the state transport authorities have virtually given an “unofficial” nod to the truck operators to overload their vehicles for transporting foodgrains from the markets and purchase centres to the godowns and railheads or other places. The plying of overloaded trucks have been causing accidents leading to a number of deaths.

“Why the state transport authorities are allowing the truck operators to ply overloaded vehicles when it does not benefit the state exchequer and for why the state transport authorities is putting the lives of people in danger?” Mr Chander Mohan Ruby, a social activists of the town, asks.

During a survey of various districts of Malwa region by a Tribune team it was found that a number of trucks had been transporting wheat bags from grain markets and purchase centres to the godowns despite the fact that these had not been registered with the Transport Department.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that some of the trucks engaged in transportation of wheat bags were not road-worthy and they would appear on roads during the procurement season for minting money by cashing in on the scarcity of transporting vehicles.

A senior official of the Transport Department on the condition of anonymity pointed out that it was the policy of the state government not to check any vehicle which was involved in the lifting and transportation of wheat, paddy and other foodgrains. He added that though the transport authorities knew that some of the trucks plying on the roads were unfit for driving they were unable to do anything as this might affect the procurement and lifting of foodgrains.

On the other hand the over loaded trucks have also been damaging link and other small roads as these can bear only a certain amount of weight.

Apart from it, procurement agencies have also allowed the use of tractor-trailers to transport procured bags of wheat despite the fact that the state government has banned the commercial use of tractor-trailers.


Bathinda dist has 12000 BPL families
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, May 8
Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, here said today that there were 12,000 families living below the poverty line (BPL) in the district.

She said that although the government had started various schemes for the welfare of BPL families, but due to their non-cooperation, these families could not get full benefit from the schemes. She said that although the efforts for raising economic and social status of such families would continue, but these efforts would be of no meaning till the members of the BPL families came forward to avail themselves the benefits.

Ms Sharma stated this while presiding over a meeting of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) here today. She said that besides giving guidance and financial help for starting dairy, tailoring and embroidery units, there was a need that handloom, cottage industries manufacturing biscuits, candles, leather goods, sports items should be encouraged.

The Deputy Commissioner claimed that during the current year (2002-03) Rs 12.91 lakh subsidy was given to 158 persons for starting small-scale units under the “Swaran Jayanti Sway Rozgar Yojana”. The banks gave Rs 41.55 lakh loan to these persons.

She said that for starting dairies, the banks gave Rs 131.10 lakh loan and the government gave Rs 41.55 lakh subsidy to 345 persons.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, ADC, Ms Devinder Kaur Chairperson, Zila Parishad, Mr Vishav Bandhu, District Industry Centre, Mr M. Biswas, AGM Nabard, Mr Harinder Singh Bhatti, District Manager, Lead Bank, Mr Rajesh Chander Gawri, Manager Cooperative Bank also attended the meeting.


Three killed in house collapse
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
Three persons, including the owner of a house, died in a house collapse in Ghumiaranwali gali near the Ratan Singh chowk here today. The incident took place at about 1.30 p.m. as some renovation work was going on in the house.

The dead have been identified as Karnail Singh, owner of the house, Manohar Lal (mason) and Sakhdayal Moriya, labourer. The three were having their lunch when the mishap occurred.

Eyewitnesses said Karnail Singh was renovating his kutcha house into a pucca house whose foundations seemed to be weak. They said they heard a deafening sound and the house came crashing down.

However, on getting information the police rushed to the spot and were helped by the residents of the area in the rescue operation. The bodies have been extricated and sent for a post-mortem examination.


Shops come up on encroached land
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 8
Some persons having a political clout have encroached upon municipal land and constructed nine shops on prime land near the Hanuman Temple here. The municipal council authorities have got steel shutters fitted upon these shops in an attempt to cover up the encroachment.

The shops, measuring 9 ft by 15 ft, are located in the truck union office complex adjoining to the Hanuman Temple on the Abohar road. About 10 ft wide municipal land between the temple and Primary Agriculture Development Bank has been allegedly encroached upon for the purpose. After the structure was complete a dispute arose between the beneficiaries over the sharing of the shops, which exposed the construction scandal.

No site plan of the constructed shops was ever submitted. Instead of taking action against the encroachers, surprisingly the municipal council has started a novel exercise to regularise the encroachments. Mr Diwan Chand, Executive Officer of the municipal council, said the council has taken control of the shops and hence it had got the shutters fitted there. The shutters have been fitted in seven of the 9 shops. The two shops have been reportedly ‘gifted away” to the Hanuman Temple. Interestingly, the lease deed of the temple and the truck union office complex had expired about 10 years ago and has not been renewed.

The 21-member municipal council has 19 members of the Congress and two of the BJP. Mr Ramesh Verma, councillor and president, BJP mandal, Fazilka, today severely criticised the attempt of the authorities to regularise the encroachments. He has described it as blatant abuse of power, Mr Verma alleged that no expenditure could be made without the approval of the civic body.

He alleged that the council had spent Rs 28,000 on the steel shutters. The payment had been made without seeking the approval of the house.

Mr Verma has demanded that the illegal shops be demolished and the persons involved in the encroachment booked.


6 ZP members boycott meeting
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 8
Six of the 12 zila parishad members, including the chairman of the block samitis of Faridkot and Kotkapura of the Congress party did not attend the first meeting of the zila parishad convened here yesterday to clear the annual budget of the zila parishad and two block samitis.

Mr Kuldip Singh Chameli, Chairman of the parishad, presided over the meeting. Though Mr Chameli has denied any differences among the members, he along with his supporters Gurtej Singh Gill, councillor of the local nagar council, and Joginder Singh, state general secretary of the SC/BC cell, met a senior official of the PPCC here today and apprised him about the developments.

Meanwhile, under the condition of anonymity, a member of the zila parishad has alleged that the party high command had “imposed” Mr Chameli as chairman of the parishad during its election on February 24 which was not acceptable to all members. He said the members had also expressed their resentment to Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health and Rural Development, who was the observer for the election.


Check pvt practice by govt docs’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
The Civil Surgeon, Dr Kanwaljit Singh, yesterday directed senior medical officers in the district to inform his office in writing about government doctors engaged in private practice. He said this had been done following reports of large-scale violations of the service code by these doctors.

The Health Department has issued strict instructions to the civil surgeons to ensure that no doctor is allowed to do private practice while in service. The Civil Surgeon said he had called a meeting of all senior medical officers in his office yesterday and directed them to give complete details of doctors engaged in private practice and in case anyone was found indulging in private practice under their charge, the SMOs would be personally responsible for the misconduct.

The Civil Surgeon, while talking to this reporter, admitted that there were a number of doctors involved in private practice, but refused to give details.


150 truckloads of wheat for Rajasthan

Hoshiarpur, May 8
The Indian Youth Congress (IYC) has fixed a target of 150 truck loads of wheat from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi and Union Territory of Chandigarh for sending it to drought-hit areas of Rajasthan.

Informing this to newsmen here today, IYC Treasurer Ketan Patel, in-charge of the Punajb Youth Congress affairs, said one 100 truck loads of wheat would be collected from Punjab alone.

He said 30 trucks had already been collected and reached at the headquarter of the All-India Youth Congress, New Delhi, from where Congress President Ms Sonia Gandhi would flag off the fleet of wheat loaded trucks for Rajasthan on May 21.

He said that Youth Congress units of all states would also organise blood donation camps at all district headquarters of the country on the birth anniversary of late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

The organisation would collect 40,000 units of blood on this occasion, as compared to 14,089 units during their last blood donation campaign. UNI


Stray cattle pose threat to residents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 8
Mr Darshan Paul, a local businessman, had to be hospitalised at a private clinic for about two weeks after his ribs were fractured when a stray cow hit him while he was driving his scooter.

Mr Tarsem Lal, another local resident, suffered head injury when a stray cow hit his scooter while he was driving on one of the main roads of the town. He remained at a hospital for two days and got four stitches on his head.

In another incident Rahul, a school-going boy, was standing at a workshop along with his father for getting their car repaired when a stray cow hit him from behind. He fell down and suffered multiple injuries.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that in the past five years about 20 persons had died in such accidents. Apart from this, a number of persons were seriously injured.

The population of stray cattle in the town has been increasing as residents of surrounding villages push these into the town to save their crops. The villagers in the district have also been organising “thikri pehras” to check the entry of these into their villages.

The menace has also led to scuffles among villagers. For the past two years, a section of truck and four-wheeler operators have started minting money by transporting stray animals from areas where these have been troubling villagers to other areas.


No pension for two months
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, May 8
A majority of the pensioners here have not received their pension for the past two months.

To reduce the burden on the state Treasury, the Punjab Government had two months back transferred all pension cases to commercial banks. But the banks have not been able to disburse the pension on time.

The local unit of the Punjab Government Pensioners Association in a press note issued here has criticised the banks for their “indifferent” attitude towards pensioners. The note said instead of curtailing the formalities as claimed the Government, the banks had introduced more formalities in the shape of two witnesses for the withdrawal of pension.

Mr Roshan Lal Kumar, cashier of the association, said of the total 206 pension cases here, 88 had been allotted to the local State Bank of India, 46 to Punjab National Bank, 29 to the Oriental Bank of Commerce, five to the State Bank of Patiala and the remaining 24 to various rural bank branches. He alleged that the SBI and PNB had not cleared more than 20 per cent of the cases allotted to them even though the pensioners had completed all required formalities.

Mr Kataria, SBI branch Manager, admitted that the pension could not be disbursed in time but he clarified that the fault was not on their side as the new system had many bottlenecks. He said first the Treasury Office transfers the pension case to the SBI, Ferozepore cantt branch from where it is allocated to this branch, which is a time-consuming exercise. He assured his branch would do its utmost to disburse the pension in time.


Three killed in mishaps

Sangrur, May 8
Three persons were killed while one was seriously injured in separate road accidents in the last 24 hours.

According to information, Amanjot, resident of Sangrur, was going on her moped to her office when she was crushed to death by a truck on the Delhi-Ludhiana Road. She died on the spot. Chamkaur Singh, son of Shingara Singh, and Jagroop Singh, both residents of Harigarh village, were hit by a car when they were going on their bicycle. Chamkaur Singh died on the spot while Jagroop Singh was seriously injured.

The same car hit Joginder Singh, son of Hazar Singh, resident of Harigarh. Joginder Singh died on the spot. The Police has registered cases. UNI


Two PSEB officials arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 8
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested two Punjab State Electricity Board officials in the Kartarpur area, while they were taking bribe from a customer.

On the complaint of Paramjit Singh that Gurcharan Singh, Junior Engineer of PSEB, Kartarpur demanded Rs 600 from him for installing a meter at his house, the police raided the office and caught Gurcharan Singh and Assistant lineman Khem Singh while they were accepting bribe from the complainant, police sources said. Both employees have been arrested and a case under the Anti-Corruption Act registered against them, sources added.


Theft charge against committee
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 8
In a letter to the chowki in charge of the Durgiana police post, the Sri Durgiana Committee, led by Mr Nand Lal Nagpal, general secretary,and Mr Murari Lal Batra, secretary of the committee, respectively, have charged the new Durgiana Committee, led by Mr Gopi Chand Bhatia, with being instrumental in a theft of marble slabs collected for the temple. 

The theft, according to Mr Nagpal, occurred last night.


1 dies, 3 hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 8
At least one person was killed on the spot and three others received minor injuries when their Maruti car hit a tree near Sangat Mandi, 25 km from here. Sources said that the deceased had been identified as Gurbachan Singh while the three injured were yet to be identified.

In another case, a body of a handicapped male, (50) was found inside the Delhi Bathinda, intercity train. Sources said that the left arm of the deceased was amputated. Meanwhile, the police have arrested the accused in a rape case, where an 18-year-old girl was allegedly raped in a jeep on the night May 4-5.


SCs to get 5-marla plots
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 8
The local MLA, Mr Surinder Singla has said that the state government would provide plots of five marlas each to the families of the SCs and added that 8,000 beneficiaries were given a grant of Rs 20 crore last year.

Mr Singla, speaking at a function at Buladhe Walla village yesterday said that the last year Rs 72 lakh were given to the members of the SCs for the construction and repair of houses in this district. He said that of this Rs 47.94 were given from Indira Aawas yojana and 24.09 lakh from Pradhan Mantri Gram Uday Yojana.

He distributed cheques of Rs 1.60 lakh under the Indira Aawas Yojna for eight families.


520-cr irrigation plan formulated
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 8
The Punjab Government has formulated a Rs 520-crore master plan comprising eight projects for providing better canal-based irrigation facilities.

Approximately 17,000 km watercourses would be lined under these projects. Out of these eight projects, the Central Government had in principle agreed to sanction Rs 256.20 crore for three projects, namely the Kotla branch system, the eastern branch and the UBDC system.

Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, said this while addressing a meeting of officers of the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation.

With the lining of watercourses, the loss of water seepage would be reduced, saving 25 per cent of water. Thousands of acres under irrigation would get additional water for better cultivation of land.

Mr Bhullar said the corporation was executing two schemes, namely the lining of watercourses of the Sirhind feeder system and the lining of the Bathinda Branch System under the Command Area Development Authority (CADA) Programme. The work would be completed by June end this year.

Ms Kusumjit Sidhu, Secretary, Irrigation, and Mr Phulwant Singh Sidhu, Special Secretary, Irrigation, were present, among others.


Cattle semen banks to turn professional
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 8
Semen banking is set to turn professional in Punjab, with the government preparing a business and marketing plan to sell quality semen. Disclosing this here at Nabha, near here, while presiding over a meeting of department officers, state Animal Husbandry Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang said this was being done to provide high quality semen of proven and elite bulls to dairy farmers.

The minister said under the new scheme which would be taken up by the semen banks of Patiala, Ropar, Kapurthala and Nabha, sire profile directories would be published wherein all technical data of bulls would be published along with photographs. He said while the department publications were likely to encourage farmers to go in for artificial insemination, the department would also market its semen by going down to the grassroot level to convince dairy farmers to go in for the facility.

Mr Kang asked the department officials to encourage the people to get their cattle and buffaloes inseminated with good quality semen from qualified veterinary surgeons. He said the insemination drive was affected due to insemination being done by unqualified quacks which led to diseases in catttle. He said on occasions, cattle became barren due to faulty insemination procedures adopted by quacks. He said people were free to purchase cattle semen from the Patiala, Kapurthala and Ropar farms and buffalo semen from the Nabha plant.


Administrative complex to be completed soon
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 8
This city, the heartland of the Malwa region, which was accorded the status of Municipal Corporation on April 10, is likely to add one more feather in its cap when an ultra-modern District Administrative Complex will be completed by the month-end.

The complex will house 43 offices of the state government. Official sources said the project was conceived in year 2000. The design and site plans were prepared in February 2001. The work was to be completed within one year from its formal launch on March 15, 2001. The total cost of the project was Rs 15 crore and the Punjab Urban Development Authority (PUDA), which was its executing agency, was to generate funds by auctioning government lands.

However, a delay in the completion of the project resulted in increasing the cost. The project cost had gone up to more than Rs 25 crore.

For constructing the complex, the office complex of the previous Deputy Commissioner, which was about 40 years old and housed a number of offices, including the newly-constructed offices of the District Transport Officer, planning wing and a meeting hall, was dismantled. The sources said the complex would be constructed in 3,43,643 square feet with total covered area of 3,06,586 square feet. The complex would be approachable from three sides.

Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Chief Administrator, PUDA, said a bank having ATM facilities, a post office, an STD-PCO booth, a canteen, a library, a conference hall, a ramp for handicapped and fire-fighting system would be housed in the complex.

Apart from these, adequate space had been reserved for parking lots the vacant space around the complex would be landscaped and brought under green cover in an aesthetic manner.


Carrying of arms banned
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 8
Mr Anurag Verma, District Magistrate, today banned the carrying of firearms keeping in view the law and order situation.

In his orders, issued under Section 144, CrPC, Mr Verma said certain local residents had been carrying their licenced weapons at public places. He said this could create hinderance in the discharge of duties for public servants.

He, however, said the police, Army men, Home Guards, paramilitary forces and other public servants would not be covered under the orders while they were on duty.


Prepare roster for poll’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 8
In view of the panchayat elections on June 30, the Punjab Government has directed all Deputy Commissioners to prepare a new roster to ensure free, fair and smooth polling.

The Deputy Commissioners have been told that one-third of the total seats of sarpanches should be reserved for members of the weaker sections. In panchayats, where the entire population belongs to the general category, the seat should be reserved for women.


Robbers loot bank
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 8
Three armed robbers looted Rs 5,90,490 from Kangra Central Co-operative Bank Ltd, Damtal, near Pathankot at 10.45 am today.

According to eyewitnesses, the robbers, who came in a car, were in the age group of 25 to 30 and were armed with pistols. While two of them entered the bank, one remained outside.

They forced the Manager and the Accountant to accompany them with keys to the strong room. The other employees were told to stand at one place. After taking out the money from the chest of the bank, they fled.


Smugglers’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 8
The district police today busted a five-member gang of smugglers with the arrest of one of its member and recovered 5 kg of ganja and one countrymade pistol from his possession.

SSP Varinder Kumar stated here today that acting on a tip-off a special naka was laid near DAV College. One person coming from Maqsoodan side was intercepted and on his physical search ganja packed in a gunny bag and a countrymade pistol along with two cartridges were seized.

The accused, who was identified as Raj Mangal of Bharat Nagar in Muzaffargarh district in Bihar, revealed during the preliminary interrogation that he was part of a five-member gang, including three women. The gang was using these women for transportation of narcotics. A case has been registered under various sections of the NDPS Act and Arms Act.


NRI booked for bigamy

Amritsar, May 8
The Majitha police has booked Manjit Singh, a resident of Gemany, on bigamy charge.

Manjit Kaur, a resident of Vichhoya Village in Ramdas and first wife of Manjit Singh in a complaint lodged at Ramdas police station on Tuesday alleged that Manjit Singh got married to Lovedeep Kaur, a resident of Ludhiana recently despite being married to her. She said Prithipal Singh, father of her husband and other family members, demanded Rs 2 lakh as dowry from her.

She said she was married to Manjit Singh in year 1987 and had two children and her parents had already given Rs 50,000 to them. A case has been registered.


Undertrial escapes
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 8
An undertrail, Rattan Singh, today escaped from police custody on the Ropar court premises. Rattan Singh of Asarpur village near Chamkaur Sahib was brought here today from the Patiala jail for a court hearing. Taking advantage of the rush on the court premises he managed to escape.

A police constable Balwant Singh, who was accompanying the accused, has been suspended. A case under Sections 223 and 229 of the IPC has been registered.


Cop kills gurdwara priest
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 8
Mr Balbir Singh, head granthi Magrali gurdwara in this district was murdered today at 8 a.m. when he was reciting path in the gurdwara. The deceased was from Zira in Ferozepur district and had come to this gurdwara 20 years ago. He was made granthi a few years ago.

When he was reciting path in the morning head constable Gurdeep Singh of the Punjab Police allegedly killed him. The cause of murder is not known.

Gurdeep Singh at present is posted in Batala police district, the police said.

A case has been registered. No arrest has been made so far.


Man gets life term for murder

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 8
A sessions court here today awarded life imprisonment to a man and imposed a fine of Rs 1,500 on him in a murder case.

District and Sessions Judge Mohinder Pal convicted Beru Ram of Talania village, but acquitted three others — Piari Devi, Mohan Lal and Vimla Devi — for want of evidence in the murder case of Beru Singh of the same village.

The Bassi Pathana police had registered a case under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the IPC. UNI


Two proclaimed offenders held
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 8
Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, has claimed that two proclaimed offenders have been nabbed.

In a press note issued today, the SSP said the POs had been identified as Subash Chander, resident of Kheri Banota (UP), and Pargat Singh of Gujjarpur village, Sarhali.

Subash was booked by the Kotwali Patiala for a theft committed on January 2, 1990, while Pargat Singh was booked under Section 302, IPC, for making a murderous attack on a police party along with four accomplices a few years ago.


210 kg of poppy husk seized

Moga, May 8
The police here today seized 210 Kg of poppy husk near Kot Isse Khan village, while the two persons who were carrying the poppy husk escaped, the police here said.

The two accused, who fled the scene after the cops seized the poppy husk, were identified as Manjit Singh and Kala Singh of Dolewala village. The police has registered the case under Sections 15/61/85 of the NDPS Act. UNI


Row over acting Principal’s post
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Even as all top slots in the medical education, including the post of DRME, principals of all three medical colleges of Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot will fall vacant by the end of next month, yet denying of the post of acting principal to the disabled surgeon, Dr Kamal Kumar Duggal, Professor and Head of the ENT Department, and the seniormost professor of the Government Medical College has kicked off a fresh row.

While the acting principal Dr H.S. Bedi wrote to the state government that Dr Duggal was not fit for the post on the basis of his disability, he (Dr Duggal) claimed that as per the instructions of the Government of India, a disabled person could not be superseded as per the gradation list of Director, Research and Medical Education (1993), the name of Dr Duggal figures at 52 while Dr Bedi is ranked 62nd. Dr Duggal claimed that on the basis of his seniority in the gradation list he had been given the charge of acting principal by the previous principal Dr M.M. Khanna. However, Dr Bedi said that the title of the gradation list clearly mentioned that nobody could claim the seniority on its basis. Dr Bedi alleged that Dr Duggal was not even fit for conducting surgeries and hence he could not lay his claim on the post of the principal. Dr Bedi further claimed that he was senior to Dr Duggal on the basis of his joining as professor. He said the contention of Dr Duggal that he was senior to him was ‘wrong and contrary to the facts’.

However, Dr Duggal in his representation to the Principal Secretary, Department of Research and Medical Education, claimed that he was the seniormost professor of the Medical College. He said his disability was in no way a bar for the promotion in wake of the directions of the Government of India. He said in the past he had been officiating as principal.

Denial of opportunity to Dr Duggal has come to him as a bolt from the blue as he has been doing surgery despite his disability since 1981 when he fell from the roof of his house. However, Dr Bedi alleged that the surgeries were being performed by junior doctors in the name of Dr Duggal.

While Dr Duggal claimed that the provisional certificate issued by the medical board had declared him fit for the post of professor, ENT, Dr Bedi contested that the final report of the board was ‘concealed’ by him (Dr Duggal) which reads, “he is fit for less laborious jobs”.

Dr Duggal quoted the letter of the Government of India which reads, “a person in group A job who has become disabled cannot be superseded by a junior person on account of his disability only if the candidate is otherwise fit for holding the higher post”. However, Dr Bedi said that as per the notification of the state government, a person in the A category could not perform the surgical jobs.


College told to pay compensation
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 8
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed the Institute of Engineering and Technology (IET), Bhaddal, to pay compensation to a former student of the college, Kunal Singla.

In a complaint before the forum, the complainant had alleged that he got admission in IET, Bhaddal, in the year 2001-2002 in the electronic and communication engineering branch against a paid seat. He was charged Rs 87,525 as admission, tuition, development and Internet fees. Besides this, Rs 5,000 as university-related fee, Rs 10,000 as counselling fee, Rs 5,000 as hostel security and Rs 1,100 as mess advance was also charged.

The complainant attended classes for one month. After that, he was selected for the National Defence Academy (NDA). He had to submit his original matriculation and senior secondary qualifying certificates with the NDA authorities. However, the IET authorities declined to return the original certificates. They also declined to refund the amount deposited with the college.

The college authorities agreed to return the certificates only on the condition that the complainant forfeit the claim regarding the refund of the amount deposited. A legal notice was served to the college to get the original certificates on July 13, 2003. After that the father of the complainant approached the college authorities who allegedly once again pressurised him to sign an agreement forfeiting the amount deposited as donation to the college.

The complainant claimed the refund of Rs 1,08,625 and Rs 50,000 as compensation for the harassment and mental agony he had to undergo at the hands of the college authorities.

The college authorities in their reply before the forum maintained that as per the rules and regulations of the institute that the complainant had agreed to abide by at the time of admission, no fee except the securities could be refunded in case the student left the institute. They also maintained that the refund of Rs 10,500 that was the total amount of securities of the complainant was never denied.

Admitting that the original matriculation and duplicate 10+2 certificates of the complainant were lying with them, the institute authorities alleged they never denied the same to the latter and also did not pressurise him to sign an agreement forfeiting the fee.

The forum comprising the president, Mr J.P. Gupta and a member, Mr S.K. Bhatia, after mulling over the evidence presented by both the parties in the form of affidavits held the IET responsible for dereliction of duty. The college authorities were directed to refund to the complainant an amount of Rs 13,070 and pay a compensation of Rs 3,000. The complainant was also awarded Rs 1,500 as litigation costs.


Johar’s remarks ‘misleading’
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 8
Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, vice-president, of the Non-Government Colleges Management Federation, Punjab and Chandigarh, and Dr Jaspal Singh Randhawa, Principal, Sikh National College, Banga, in a joint press statement issued here today flayed the statement of the Higher Education Minister, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, in which he has claimed that the government would restore 95 per cent grant-in-aid to private colleges.

They said the statement by the minister was ‘misleading’ as this year the state government has made a budgetary provision of only Rs 57.6 crore against the salary liability of Rs 108 crore under the 95 per cent deficit grant-in-aid scheme to non-government colleges. They demanded that the government should enhance budgetary provision to provide the salary grant to the non-government colleges and fulfil its commitment. It should also implement the pension and gratuity scheme for college employees as issued on December 8, 1996 as promised in its election manifesto, they demanded.


Teachers beat up, injure student
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, May 8
A student of IV standard of government school, Kothala village 10 km from here, was allegedly beaten up by two teachers of the school.

The child was admitted here today to the local Civil Hospital following the injuries.

Student Manpreet Singh son of Ajaib Singh was beaten up by his teachers when he accidentally collided with a student of the school while playing.

The teachers beat him up with sticks and his nose was also injured in the incident. The case has been referred to the Sandour police chowki by the Malerkotla police station. 


ABVP burns Cong govt’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 8
Students led by the local unit of the ABVP assembled in front of government Ripudaman College, here and burnt an effigy of the Punjab Government for its anti-education and anti-common man policies. Addressing the gathering Yogesh Khatri, Secretary, Sahyog Bharty President Rajesh Garg, and Sumit Shahi Press Secretary condemned the policies of the government. They stated that the Congress government was making education costly for the common man. Mr Yogesh Khatri stated that the government had failed to fulfil poll eve promises. They alleged that the government wants to open casinos for the rich but had nothing to give to the poor.

They demanded that education should be made a right. Activists shouted slogans against the government and torched an effigy of the government in front of government Ripudaman College, Nabha. 


38 students honoured
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 8
In the middle standard examinations held in February this year 38 students of the district were placed in the merit list of the Punjab School Education Board. Out of those 38 students 22 students belong to the Sardar Chetan Singh Sarbhitkari Vidya Mandir here, belong to the same school Budhlada branch and four belong to the Blukhi branch of the school. One student each of DAV Model School, Budhlada and Arya High School, Mansa find place in the last. The first and third positions were bagged by Mr Anmoldeep Singh and Ms Puja Goyal, respectively of Sardar Chetan Singh Sarbhitkari Vidya Mandir, Mansa.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, invited 38 students to his residence last night and honoured them. Mr Ahluwalia said students finding place in the merit lost in the middle standard, matric and 10+2 examinations would be honoured along with their teachers on Independence and Republic Day. 

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