Sunday, May 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Raids on to nab PMT scam accused
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 10
Even as the Punjab police is carrying out raids to trace Bodh Raj, a local travel agent who was booked by the Barnala police along with a local government doctor, A.S. Saini, the investigation into the case might lead to the unearthing of yet another PMT scam in the state.

Dr Saini, posted at the local ESI Hospital was arrested by the Barnala police from here on May 8, while Bodh Raj had absconded. The doctor had been arrested for allegedly deceiving Barnala-based Dr Bhalinder Singh to the tune of Rs 2 lakh in the name of admission of the latter’s son in the MBBS.

The Barnala police has been conducting a number of raids at a number of suspected hideouts of Bodh Raj in Jalandhar and other towns since the registration of the case against the duo under Sections 420 and 120-B of the IPC.

Mr Gurinder Singh, SSP, Barnala, while talking to ‘The Tribune’ on phone, said during the preliminary investigation, the accused has admitted that he had taken Rs 2 lakh from Dr Bhalinder Singh with a promise that the admission of the latter’s son would be secured after “making arrangements” for clearance of the PMT with the help of some other person. The doctor, according to Mr Gurinder Singh, has revealed that he had handed over the amount to Bodh Raj.

Highly placed sources in police maintained that the investigations into the case might lead to a big racket involving a number of influential persons.

Investigations by ‘The Tribune’ have revealed that Bodh Raj had been declared proclaimed offender (PO) in another case by the court of Mr H.S. Gill on November 12, last year.


Judicial remand for accused
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 10
Davinder Singh, alias Pappu, the prime accused in the PMT scam was on Wednesday remanded in judicial custody till May 20, by the local Judicial Magistrate, Mrs Harinder Sidhu, in another case registered against him earlier here.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, public prosecuter, and for the police remand of the accused. They informed the court that the accused had removed hypothecated goods from a factory which was set up by him at Badmajra village.


Liquor war on HP-Punjab border
Bharat Bhushan Dogra

Pathankot, May 10
Wine contractors here have been forced to reduce the rates of wine and whisky of various brands to compete with the wine shops that have come up in the towns and suburbs of Himachal Pradesh adjoining Pathankot.

Two wine contractors, Mr G.S. Sethi and Mr Ladi Bajwa, who secured this year’s liquor contract for Pathankot circle at Rs 18.50 crore feel disappointed at the descending sales at their vends.

The wine shops that have opened in Himachal Pradesh towns adjoining the city are barely 400 to 800 metres from the state’s border and liquor can be smuggled into the city easily. Car-borne passengers find it easy to buy three or four bottles of whisky from wine shops in Himachal Pradesh area at rates cheaper than that offered at the vends in the city.

Mr Sethi said there was a big difference of rates in beer, wine and whisky. A beer bottle costs Rs 40 in Himachal Pradesh as against Rs 60 at the city vends. While whisky brands of OC, DSP and Bagpiper are available for Rs 100 in HP, the same costs Rs 200 per bottle here. Red Knight is available for Rs 175 as compared to Rs 250 here. Country liquor also is much cheaper in Himachal — Rs 40 only, as against Rs 100 per bottle in Pathankot.

He said the big difference in rates had adversely hit the sales of liquor. He claimed that vends in Himachal Pradesh, comprising Damtal-Indora unit, were auctioned for Rs 5.01 crore. These vends cover a long distance of over 26 km on the Pathankot-Jalandhar National Highway and Damtal-Kandwal and some parts of Jassur town in Himachal Pradesh — from Dhangu Peer, 100 yards from Pathankot, upto Meelwan (HP), a few metres from Mirthal in Punjab.

The difference in rate of bids in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh had also forced the contractors at Pathankot to enhance the rates of wine and liquor at the first attempt. But when the Himachal vendors to increase their sales lowered the rates of different brands of liquor and started displaying boards and banners like ‘‘Sale Dhamaka’’ and ‘‘Sasti Sharab’’, the city contractors also put up banners and boards and also reduced the rates of wine and liquor.

The vends in Pathankot are now offering Bagpiper and OC, DSP brands at Rs 110 per bottle for which they were earlier charging Rs 200 per bottle and Rs 190 for Red Knight as against Rs 250 earlier. The rates of beer also have been reduced by Rs 10 per bottle. But this is still higher than that offered in Himachal vends.

Mr Baldev Singh, ETO, in charge, excise operation, Gurdaspur, said concrete steps had been taken to curb smuggling of liquor from Himachal Pradesh areas so that the revenue from liquor sales goes up.


Power tariff revision by month-end
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission will issue the tariff revision order in the last week of this month. A spokesman of the Commission today said that the order in this regard was likely after two weeks.

Answering to a question regarding a Supreme Court judgment regarding cross- subsidy, the spokesman said that the judgment was being examined by the authorities concerned in the commission. The tentative view at the moment in the commission was that the judgment would not be applicable in case of Punjab.

In a particular individual case pertaining to West Bengal, the Supreme Court had given judgment against the provision of cross-subsidy to certain sections of society by charging higher power tariff rates from other sections of power customers. It was stated in the judgment that in case the West Bengal Government wanted to subsidise power to any section of society, the amount in lieu of that should be given by the state government from its own coffers to the Board.

Several representations have been given by industrialists and others to the Punjab Regulatory Commission, requesting it to apply the Supreme Court judgment in Punjab also while passing the order for tariff revision.

In Punjab, for instance higher tariff is charged from certain categories such as industry etc to provide subsidised power to poor sections and the agricultural sector. Last year, the Commission had fixed Rs 3.42 per unit for general industry and arc furnaces against the average rate of Rs 3.11 per unit.

However, for domestic power connections holders, whose bill does not exceed 100 units, the Commission had fixed Rs 1.79 per unit. Even, those consuming more that 300 units , the Commission had fixed Rs 3.34 per unit. It was also above the average rate fixed per unit.


PSEB engineers’ chain fast from May 12
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 10
The Council of Junior Engineers of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) will go on chain fast in front of the board's headquarters from May 12 to 17 in protest against the state government's reported decision to privatise the board.

Speculating that the government's decision will do more harm than good, the president and the general secretary of the council, Mr Pal Singh Mundi and Mr Devinder Singh, respectively, stated that although the move to privatise electricity boards had failed in several states, the Punjab Government was still going ahead with the project.

Claiming that the report of the Haldea Committee was pro World Bank, Mr Mundi said the state government must realise that the rural sector would be adversely affected if the board was privatised.


Quacks play with lives of villagers
Administer steroids under garb of “magic pill”
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul (Bathinda), May 10
The next time you pop in a “magic pill”, ensure that it suits you. Even a little laxity on your part can endanger your life and prove fatal at times.

For the past many years, a significant section of the innocent and unsuspecting rural population of Bathinda district has been allegedly falling prey to the “magic pills”, prepared by quacks and vaids (traditional medical practitioners), to get rid of their ailment instantly. Most of these patients find their problems aggravated a few months after such “treatment”.

The district health authorities have failed to check the menace of quacks and vaids in this region despite the fact that they have been doing “good business” by compromising with the lives of patients even in the villages where government-run primary the health centres and dispensaries are situated. Some quacks have been running their “shops” in towns also.

Gurjeet Kaur (name changed) of Mandi Kalan village of this district is regretting the day she went to a quack in the nearby Khokhar village for getting treatment of rheumatism. Her movements have been restricted to her bed since then. She was given the “magic pills” by the quack. Her hands and feet have disfigured and the pain in her joints has increased.

Manjeet Kaur (name changed) came in for a rude shock when she learnt that her kidneys had been affected allegedly due to the continuous use of the pills given to her by a quack for the treatment of her joint pains. Then she shifted to a qualified doctor and ultimately went to Ludhiana for better treatment. Now she is hale and healthy.

Says Devi Lal, a local resident, “when I took the first dose of the magic pill’ about a year ago, got instant relief from asthma. But after some days, I started feeling a weakness in the body. My skin started thickening. When I became very weak I decided to get treatment from an allopathic doctor.”

These are not isolated incidents. The quacks and vaids have been playing havoc with the lives of a lot of unsuspecting rural and urban people. They have also been making efforts to reach out to the maximum number of patients through word of mouth publicity and advertisements.

Information gathered by TNS reveals that most of the quacks prepare pills themselves or fetch them from various parts of Rajasthan. The quacks charge Rs 70 to Rs 100 for a week’s treatment from the patients.

Banno (name changed) of Dulewala village, claims that she had become normal after she got treatment for asthma from a vaid at Pipli village, pointed out that now she had been fetching medicines for another boy of the village, who had been suffering joint pains.

Dr Ajay Kumar, president of the local unit of Indian Medical Association (IMA), said the problem of quacks and vaids, who had been allegedly treating joint pains, rheumatism, asthma and skin diseases with magic pills, had become very severe. He said allopathic doctors of this and other areas receive countless patients daily, whose condition had deteriorated following treatment” by quacks and vaids.

He added that most of the quacks and vaids had been administering steroids to the patients without bothering about their side effects. The long use of steroids develops pores in the bones and affects the kidneys and eyes. In most cases, the damage to the body is irreversible.

He said the IMA was contemplating to start an educational programme to make the rural people aware of the harms of the “magic pills”. The problem of joint pains was common in this area due to the presence of a large amount of fluoride.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, said he would send a team of doctors accompanied by drug inspectors to raid the premises of such quacks and vaids. He added that most of the quacks and vaids go from one village to another to do “business”.

Official sources said though the Civil Hospital authorities had identified 515 unregistered medical practitioners in this district, criminal cases were registered against only 32. These unregistered medical practitioners had been spreading hepatitis-B and other communicable diseases, particularly in the rural areas, by using recycled syringes.


’84 riot victims threaten immolation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 10
Perturbed over the failure of the state government to rehabilitate them even after 19 years, aggrieved widows of the 1984 anti-Sikh-riot victims today threatened to immolate themselves at Matka Chowk in Chandigarh on June 3.

Talking to reporters here today, the widows said the previous SAD-BJP regime had announced various rehabilitation measures during a high-level meeting on May 29, 1999, including allotment of houses and commercial booths in PUDA colonies of the state, allotment of 200 booths each at Mohali and Patiala and education free of cost up to the graduation level for the wards of the victims.

Contrary to that, the PUDA authorities had recently announced that the houses and booths reserved for the kin of the riot victims would be sold through auction, which was highly deplorable, they added.

Narrating her tale of woes, Surjit Kaur, whose husband, son and two daughters were killed in the riots in Shahadara, said, “I have been visiting government offices for the allotment of a house for the past 10 years. My case was approved by the committee concerned about four years ago, but the recent decision to hold an auction of the reserved houses has shaken me from inside.”

“I will immolate myself on June 3 to put an end to this miserable life as my family members had already been brutally murdered in front of my eyes without any fault of theirs. I am tired and am left with no energy to fight against the bureaucratic hurdles,” Surjit Kaur said, who is presently putting up in Ludhiana.

Harbans Kaur, who lost her only son, Raghbir Singh (22), during the riots in Mughal Serai, alleged that the Congress government was running away from its social responsibility to rehabilitate her. “It’s shameful that none of the governments had taken the initiative to solve this issue even after 19 years of the brutal tragedy. It is better to die than continue to live under such humiliating conditions, where no one is ready to even listen to our problems,” Harbans Kaur rued.

Criticising the then Chief Secretary Mr Y.S. Ratra, for postponing the meeting to discuss the rehabilitation issue with them seven times in a row during the past three months, the president of the Danga Peedit Welfare Society, Mr Surjit Singh, alleged that the Congress government was virtually pursuing anti-Sikh policies.

“We are being humiliated time and again on one pretext or the other, and the announcement to cancel decisions taken by the previous government has virtually came as a final blow. It has been decided that all aggrieved widows and kin of the victims will immolate themselves at Matka chowk on June 3 if the government fails to redress the issue by then,” he asserted.

A shaheedi jatha comprising family members of the victims will hold “ardas’ at Akal Takht in Amritsar on June 2 before leaving for Chandigarh. These families will apprise the masses of the misdeeds” of Congress leaders, who were responsible for the killings of hundreds of Sikhs in 1984, while passing through towns and villages on way to Chandigarh.


Docs sans salary for 5 months
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 10
Nearly 200 PCMS doctors and 1000 other employees working in family welfare centers across the state are caught in an ironic situation whereby catering to the poorest of the poor in slum and rural areas they themselves have not received their salary for the past five months.

The doctors and the staff were paid their salary after repeated pleas on Divali last year, when they received their salary for a five-month period in one go.

The staff is meeting this fate because the Health Directorate has failed to inform the Finance Department that sanction has been sought for their posts, which would come in due course. Accounts officers attached with Civil Surgeons’ offices in various districts disclosed that every time bills of these staff members were made and sent to the Treasury, they were told that the payments could not be made because the posts were not sanctioned.

The nearly 1300 strong staff posted in the state is posted in rural and urban family welfare centres under a central government scheme, which was started around 10 years ago. While there has been a separate outlay for the scheme under successive five-year plans, sources said in the Ninth Five Year Plan, no budget had been earmarked for family welfare. This, the sources said, meant that the State government had to depend on the annual budget received for the sector to disburse salaries to employees working in as many as 192 dispensaries in the state.

PCMS doctors working in dispensaries under the scheme said they could not be paid in March this year because the Central budget was received on March 27, when the government had stopped payments from the Treasury. Besides, they said the inability of the government to own the scheme, which had been carrying on for so long, resulted in problems regarding payments to them. They said they should be paid regularly under the scheme in line with other employees of the Health and Family Welfare Department.

The doctors said they had exhausted all channels to ensure that they were paid regularly, along with the other staff. The doctors have approached the minister concerned and the Finance Minister, besides submitting representations to the Chief Minister, but to no avail.


Kidney scam: docs get ‘VIP treatment’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 10
The Special Investigation Team (SIT) today said that the doctors involved in the multi-crore kidney scam were getting VIP treatment in the local Central Jail.

In a press statement, the SIT said, “The culprit doctors managed to get admitted to hospitals from the judicial custody without a genuine reason. How can a heart patient meet more than 100 persons a day?”

“On Thursday, Dr Bhupinder Singh was reportedly busy in a family get-together on the jail premises despite the fact that it was not a meeting day for the undertrials”.

Without naming Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), chief of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City) claimed that the investigations into the kidney scam were being done in a fair manner. He said the investigation could not be challenged.

The SIT spokesman said the Jalandhar-based hospital had got a video recording of the kidney transplantations. However, the inquiry was still in progress against the Jalandhar doctors. Regarding the role of magistrates, it had already been made clear that the affidavits were taken on an oath, hence the magistrates could not be held responsible for these.


2,852 matrimonial cases disposed of
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 10
As many as 2,852 of the 3,732 matrimonial cases taken up at a state-level lok adalat were disposed of today. Women seeking divorce were granted Rs 1.54 crore as part of the settlement.

The fifth state-level lok adalat organised by the Patiala Sessions Division was presided over by Mr Justice H.S. Bedi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who is also the Executive Chairman of the Punjab Legal Services Authority. Mr Justice S.S. Grewal of the high court, who is an Inspecting Judge of the Patiala Sessions Division, and Mr P.S. Mahal, Member Secretary, Punjab Legal Services Authority, were also present on the occasion.

District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal said the lok adalat was held mainly to dispose of matrimonial cases pending in various courts in the form of divorce petitions, restitution of conjugal rights and maintenance proceedings. He said besides, cases pending in courts as motor accident claims and under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act were also taken up. In the latter category Rs 1.80 crore was paid by the insurance companies. He said 80 cases pertaining to cooperative institutions were also taken up and Rs 3.35 crore was awarded to the litigants.

Mr Aggarwal said 21 lok adalat Benches were set up in the court complex today. He said each such Bench consisted of a Judicial Officer, a social worker and an advocate. He said students of the Army School of Law and students of Yadavindra Public School also participated.

He said drinking water stalls and “chhabeels” were organised by the Bar Association of Patiala, while tea was provided free of cost by advocate Ram Singh Salooja. He said the district administration as well as the Bar associations of Patiala, Samana, Nabha and Rajpura extended their cooperation to the lok adalat.

Former Rajya Sabha MP Amarjit Kaur today claimed that her political opponents had conspired to get a dowry case registered against her and her son.

Talking to newsmen here after arriving at a settlement with the in-laws of her son Pavanindra Singh at the lok adalat, the former MP said her opponents, both in the Congress and outside it, had got the dowry case registered against her to ensure that she remained politically inactive.

A criminal case was registered against Mrs Amarjit Kaur and her son Pavanindra Singh at the Civil Lines police station on a complaint filed by Pavanindra’s wife Amreena Singh claiming that she was being harassed and tortured for not bringing sufficient dowry.

Mrs Amarjit Kaur told newsmen that a police inquiry conducted by the SSP, Barnala, had revealed that all allegations levelled against her and her son were false and baseless. She claimed that the inquiry revealed that she had been falsely implicated in the case. Following this now an application had been filed for the quashing of the FIR registered against her and her son with the complainant saying that she had no objection if the FIR was quashed, she said, adding that a divorce was granted to her son by lok adalat.


Warrants against Bihar MP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 10
The case of alleged kidnapping of a minor girl from Patiala and the subsequent “shielding” of the accused by Motihari constituency MP Radhe Mohan has taken a new turn, with the local police deciding to investigate if there was any “love angle” in the case even as a local court has issued non-bailable warrants against the MP.

This follows a statement given by the MP in Bihar in which he has claimed that he had nothing to do with the abduction or the subsequent illegal confinement of the girl and that the girl had run away from her home in Patiala with Chunnu of her own accord.

Highly placed police sources disclosed that as of now there was no proposal to send a police team to Bihar. The sources said there was a possibility that the case might be solved amicably and the girl brought back to her parents because she was a minor. District police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal, however, has stated that a police team may be sent to Bihar if needed.

Meanwhile, a local court has issued non-bailable warrants against Motihari MP Radhe Mohan. The non-bailable warrants were issued after the MP’s name was included in the FIR registered in the case in the Civil Lines police station. The court has given the police time till May 19 to produce the MP in the court.

According to a report of the Patiala police, it had received a complaint that a minor girl had been kidnapped from the Urban Estate area and was being kept in illegal confinement by Chunnu in Bihar. The report said when a police team, led by a Sub-Inspector visited Bihar, it found that the abductors were being shielded by the MP. They said the police party was turned away and told that the girl would be returned only if the police released a close relative of the accused, who was in police custody in the case. The police party was also told to withdraw the case against Chunnu.


Left parties’ convention on June 8
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 10
Four Left parties — the CPM (Pasla) the MCPI, the CPI (ML) and the Forward Bloc — will hold a convention in Jalandhar on June 8 to launch a campaign in the state against the failure of the government to cater to the basic needs of residents.

The parties will motivate the people to pressure the government to provide them education, health and employment facilities instead of indulging the mudslinging and communalism.

Mr Mangat Ram Pasla, state secretary of the CPM (Pasla), stated this here today while addressing mediapersons.

Mr Pasla said as the government wanted to privatise educational institutes, health centres and public sector undertakings, and feared that people would revolt, it was raising other issues to divert people’s attention.


Punjab CWC meets tomorrow
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, May 10
The Punjab Congress organised a political conference in Thatta village today in connection with the celebrations of the martyrdom day Baba Bir Singh.

Addressing the conference, Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said a meeting of the Working Committee of the Punjab Congress would be held at Chandigarh on May 12 in which Dr Manmohan Singh, Mrs Ambika Soni, and Ms Mohsina Kidwai would be among the participants. The meeting would discuss the achievements of the state government and its policies.

He said a public meeting would be organised in each block of the state from May 15 to June 15.

He said training camps for Congress workers would be held in the districts of the state from June 15 to July 15.


Gurtej Singh joins issue with Badungar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
Feeling hurt over the remarks made against him by SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar, Sikh scholar and former IAS Officer, Gurtej Singh said yesterday that he was declared a Professor of Sikhism by the SGPC following a proper procedure. All record in this connection was available with the SGPC, he added.

Showing documents to support his claim, Mr Gurtej Singh said here today that on October 30, 1982, the dharam parchar committee of the SGPC passed a resolution (No 1115), declaring him (Mr Gurtej Singh) and Dr Arjun Kirpal Singh, a US-based Sikh scholar, as honorary Professors of Sikhism. Mr Bhan Singh, the then secretary of the committee, sent copies of the resolution to both appointees.

Mr Badungar stated a few days ago that the SGPC had not declared Mr Gurtej Singh as a Professor of Sikhism. “I have checked the record and no document was available in this connection with the SGPC,” he had asserted.

On November 1, 1982, Mr Bhan Singh sent an appointment letter (No 38227) to Mr Gurtej Singh and wished him well. Later, Mr G.S. Tohra, President of the Sikh Education Society, Chandigarh, appointed Mr Gurtej Singh to guide students in colleges being run by the society about the Sikh religion. Mr Tohra also addressed Mr Gurtej Singh as a Professor of Sikhism.

However, the most interesting revelation made by Mr Gurtej Singh was a letter written to him by Mr Parkash Singh Badal on April 6, 1999. Mr Badal had requested Mr Gurtej Singh to be present at Anandpur Sahib to receive “Order of the Khalsa” on April 13, 1999, at the tercentenary celebrations function. In the letter to Mr Gurtej Singh, Mr Badal had stated that “the great heights of excellence achieved by you in the literary field has brought glory and pride to the Khalsa Panth. Such examples of great men are an inspiration for the others to follow”.

“It would be nice of Mr Badungar, who has been given the office of the President of the SGPC by Mr Badal, to check up with his leader (Mr Badal) whether he had written such a letter to me on the occasion of the celebrations,” said Mr Gurtej Singh.


Vedanti, Badungar hold meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 10
The marathon closed-door meeting between Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht and Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, here has led to speculations that both had discussed the proposed unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra. Mr Badal is likely to write a letter to the Jathedar seeking his personal appearance before the Akal Takht in the near future.


Khalsa flays Cong leaders of Kharar
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 10
Jagpal Singh Khalsa, a senior Akali leader of the state, today flayed Congress leaders of the township and Kharar constituency for having failed to fulfil the promises made during the elections.

Addressing a press conference here Mr Khalsa stated that the Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh and Ms Lakhvinder Kaur Garcha, had not been able to fight for the rights of the industrial workers of the township. “The two leaders have due to their personal antagonism not been able to accomplish anything in the past one-and-half year. The condition of industrial workers is pathetic. Most of the industries are up for disinvestment and no provision have been made to take care of the future of the employees,” he added.

Giving an example of Punjab Recorders Limited he said the workers had not been paid for over six months and many of them were even facing starvation. “What are the Congress leaders doing for them,” he questioned.

Mr Khalsa also alleged that with the Kharar MLA holding a post in the Vidhan Sabha, he would not be able to take up questions against the government pertaining to his constituency. “He could not ask anything regarding his call attention motion in the case of an industrial unit in SAS Nagar,” he pointed out. Mr Khalsa, Vice-President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Fatehgarh Sahib, is based in SAS Nagar.


Manohar Joshi to open presiding officers’ meeting
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 10
The conference of presiding officers of the state Assemblies of the northern region, to be held in Chandigarh next month to outline the comprehensive draft with regard to the code of conduct for MLAs and to improve the standard of debate on the floor of the House, will be inaugurated by the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Manohar Joshi.

Talking to reporters here today, the Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, stated that the conference would be attended by the Speakers, Deputy Speakers, parliamentary secretaries, Leaders of Opposition and House and whips of all state Assemblies of the northern region.


Minister to redress workers’ grievances
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
At least one member of the Punjab Council of Ministers will be present at Punjab Congress Bhavan in Sector 15 for three days every week to redress grievances of party workers. This was announced by the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee spokesman, Mr Upender Sharma, here on Tuesday.

He said Mr Romesh Chander Dogra listened to grievances of the members of the party at the Sector 15 Bhavan on Tuesday while Mr Raghunath Sahay Puri was present on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the coordination committee and the executive committee of the PPCC will meet here on May 12.


Medical colleges in bad shape: minister

Faridkot, May 10
The medical colleges in the state are in a bad shape, some colleges do not have sufficient staff and proper equipment to meet the requirements laid down by the Medical Council of India (MCI) for granting recognition, admitted Punjab Medical Research and Education Minister Santokh Singh yesterday.

Talking to mediapersons here after inaugurating Nursing College at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, the minister also said there was an acute shortage of doctors and paramedical staff.

The minister said in view of the ban on new appointments, the government was planning to appoint doctors on a contract basis as a temporary measure to fill vacant posts in medical colleges. To meet the MCI norms, the state government would provide new equipment for the colleges.

Replying to a question, he said admission fees for government medical colleges would not be increased in the near future. On the irregularities allegedly committed during appointments in the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences Faridkot, the minister assured that matter would be investigated and the guilty punished. UNI


Panel on doctors promotion
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 10
Mr Santokh Singh, Minister for Medical Education and Research, Punjab, has exhorted doctors and other medical experts to perform their duty with dedication and devotion. He has said. the medical profession is being considered a pious job and needed to be performed with missionary spirit and zeal.

Addressing a gathering of medical experts and other paramedical staff after inaugurating the complex of the University College of Nursing here yesterday, the Minister for Medical Education and Research, Mr Santokh Singh appealed to doctors of government hospitals to desist from private practice. He admitted that all three state government medical college and hospitals at Amritsar, Patiala and Faridkot were in a bad condition, but expressed hope that the services would be improved.

Expressing concerned over the mushrooming of nursing institutes, the minister made it clear that the government would not allow unscrupulous persons to operate in the name of medical profession. He also sought the cooperation of trainees of the nursing institute in streamlining medical services in the hospitals after completing their B.Sc (Nursing) course. Welcoming the chief guest, Dr J.S. Gujral, Vice-Chancellor of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot, said though the state government had handed over the charge of the nursing institution to the university in 2000, the release of its notification was needed for the transfer of the institution to the university under the norms of the University Grants Commission. Due to the non-availability of the notification the institution was unable to avail of any type of grant from the UGC. He also demanded at proper infrastructure for the institution. Mrs Raj Rani, Principal of the institution, highlighted its achievements during the past three years.

Later talking to mediapersons at the BSF campus, the minister said the state government had formulated a time-bound plan to improve the working conditions in the three government medical colleges. Under the scheme revolutionary changes would be made by delegating more powers to the heads of the institutions to make the health services more viable. A high-powered committee had also been constituted to decide the promotion of doctors on priority. The vacant posts of doctors would be filled by recruiting more doctors on contract and proper medicines and other infrastructure would be provided at all government institutions to avoid their derecognition by the Medical Council of India, he added.

To streamline this programme a grant of Rs 50 crore had already been earmarked, said the minister. He made it clear that the admission of fresh students to MBBS and postgraduate courses would be made according to the old fees structure and there would be no increase in this regard. In reply to a question the minister said a grant of Rs 4 crore had been released to the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences here for the construction of its complex.

He also assured the gathering that the vacant posts of opthalmologists at the local Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital would be filled soon.


Row over failure to arrest 2 liquor contractors
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi, May 10
The failure to arrest two local liquor contractors, against whom an FIR was registered at the local police station for their alleged involvement in an attack on two brothers, Mr Pawan Kumar and Mr Amrit Pal, both local residents, has created a controversy.

While Mr Amrit Pal accused the local police authorities of favouring the accused by giving them enough time to secure bail from court by not arresting them, Mr Gurdarshan Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), local police station, alleged that as a “false” case has been registered against the two contractors, Mr Khushwinder Singh and Mr Seera Singh, and no evidence could be collected against them, so the police could not arrest them.

He pointed out that as a number of residents came to the police station on Thursday night, the police registered a case against the two liquor contractors under Sections 458, 336, 323, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC and Sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act “under pressure” to diffuse the tension which had started building up in the town after the alleged attack on Mr Pawan Kumar and Mr Amrit Pal in their house. The case was registered on the complaint of Mr Pawan Kumar.

The SHO added that a case was registered against Mr Jaspal Kumar, who was a kin of Mr Pawan Kumar and Mr Amrit Pal, on May 8 for possessing 40 bottles of liquor. The bottles were seized from the house of Mr Jaspal Kumar when Excise officials and personnel of the local police conducted a joint raid. The case against the liquor contractors was an outcome of that case, he alleged.

However, Mr Amrit Pal claimed that the case against the liquor contractors was registered by the local police authorities on the directions of the district police authorities when the residents brought the matter pertaining to attack on them by the contractors to their notice. He added that he along with his brother remained hospitalised as they suffered injuries in the attack by the accused and a medico-legal report was also prepared by the Civil Hospital authorities in this connection.

On the other hand, Mr Khushwinder Singh, one of the accused, alleged that Mr Pawan Kumar got a false case registered against them as he (Pawan Kumar) along with his brother, Mr Amrit Pal, tried to settle scores with them as a case was registered against their cousin, Mr Jaspal Kumar, for possessing bottles of liquor one day before the case was registered against them. He added that the local police authorities had registered a case against them under pressure and in this connection they had been meeting the IG (Zonal), Punjab Police, Patiala, and the SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh. He added that they had also moved an application for cancellation of the “false” case registered against them.

He alleged that on Thursday night, when two employees of their liquor shops, who were unarmed, were collecting cash from the liquor shops, a scuffle between them and some relatives and acquaintances of Mr Jaspal Kumar took place near the Civil Hospital when the latter gheraoed the Jeep being used by the employees. After the scuffle, the employees came to the office and Mr Pawan Kumar and Mr Amrit Pal got a case registered against him and Mr Seera Singh despite the fact that they were not present in the town at that time and the two brothers were not attacked in their house.

Mr Khushwinder Singh said they had sought an inquiry into the incident by a senior police functionary and action against those who had got them falsely implicated in a criminal case.

Meanwhile, the SHO, Mr Gurdarshan Singh, pointed out that all offences made out against Mr Khushwinder Singh and Seera Singh, except under Section 458 of the IPC, had been deleted from the FIR due to lack of evidence.

On the other hand, Mr Amrit Pal pointed out that they would approach the high court against the action of the SHO.

No senior police official could be contacted for comments despite repeated efforts.


Afforestation: govt to involve clubs
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, May 10
The Punjab Government will promote afforestation in the state with the association of youth clubs, panchayats and educational institutions.

Under a Japan-aided project, the state government will provide financial aid to these institutions for planting trees in their respective areas.

This statement was made by Dr Harbans Lal, Forest Minister, Punjab, while addressing a gathering here on Sunday night.

The minister said the government had given a slogan,‘‘Ik manukh lawey 20 rukh’’ (a person should plant 20 trees), to enhance green cover in the state. He claimed that due to the efforts of the state government and other institutions the green cover area had increased substantially.

He also expressed concern over the increasing pollution in the state and appealed to the public to contribute in controlling it by planting more trees.

For the purpose, the minister also assured a grant of Rs 15,000 to the City Sports Club. He planted a tree while inaugurating the project in this subdivision.

Ms Sheelam Sohi, a member of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr Gurbir Singh, president of the club, Mr Rattan Singh, chairman, Mr Gurpreet Singh, vice-chairman, and Mr Rajesh Sharma, secretary, were also present.


Their mission is to save lives
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Garhshankar, May 10
They are young but different from the youth moving about aimlessly. They have the zeal and passion to do something for society. And they have already set out on the path of saving lives.

“Heartrending cries of victims of gory accidents made us start the traffic awareness programmes in this part of the state,” says Mr Sarvinder Singh, one of the 10 local youths, who have formed a public spirited organisation named G-10.

“We used to hear a lot of bloodcurdling stories of accidents on various roads in our area. But no one was venturing to take up the initiative to prevent such accidents. In most of the accidents, tractor-trailers or bullock-driven carts used to be involved,” said Mr Sarvinder Singh.

One fine morning, like-minded friends sat together and decided to form the G-10. Its aims and objectives were decided at that meeting. It was resolved to take up the job of educating the owners of tractor-trailers and carts to get reflectors affixed on their vehicles.

“At the initial stage, no one cared to listen to us and we started feeling a bit discouraged. However, in due course, people started paying attention to what we told them,” said Mr Rajesh Joshi, another member of the Group.

Garhshankar is a part of the sugar-cane belt. During the cane-crushing season, the Garhshankar-Nawanshahr, Rahon-Nawanshahr and Phagwara-Nawanshahr road remains crammed with tractor-trailers and carts loaded with cane. Often, such overloaded tractor-trailers break down on the way to the nearby Cooperative Sugarmill at Nawanshahr. And they stay parked on the middle of the road. During the night such vehicles become the cause of accidents as they are not fitted with reflectors.

Often, motorists and other vehicles hit the parked trailers and carts either from the front or the rear leading to fatal accidents. “We have attended a number of such accident victims in the past. This gave us the idea to begin the campaign by affixing reflectors on tractor-trailers and carts,” said Mr Joshi.

On every Sunday, we move out to various villages to affix reflectors on tractor-trailers and carts. One reflector costs about Rs 50. “Till date we have spent about Rs 50,000 on this task. The contributions have come from members of the Group. No donations,” said Mr Sarvinder Singh.

Other members are Mr Ranjit Bains, Mr Kulwinder Singh, Mr Manjit Singh Bhullar, Mr Amandeep Bawa, Mr Satwinder Singh, Mr Sanjiv Kumar, Mr Rakesh Kumar and Mr Subash Khanna. “We are a mix lot of agriculturists, shopkeepers, employees and advocates,” said Mr Sanjiv Kumar, who is an advocate. They claim that the number of accidents involving trailers and carts has come down following their reflector campaign.

Besides the affixation of reflectors, the Group also distributes literature with regard to traffic rules. “Now we will start visiting schools in the area to educate students about traffic rules and value of human lives. Students will be sensitised about the use of the road by telling them how reckless driving by one person can ruin the family of the other,” said Mr Sanjiv Kumar.

The Group has also helped a number of old-aged persons by providing them hearing aids. On completion of the traffic project, another one will be taken up, they say.


Bandh in Goraya, Phagwara
Tribune Reporters

Phillaur, May 10
Goraya town of Phillaur subdivision remained closed today on a call by followers of Rishi Kutia Goraya, who are agitating against the “excesses” of the civil administration and the police in Phagwara last night.

President of the Goraya Nagar Panchayat Kanwaljit Singh Bittu, who was leading the agitation against PUDA officials for removing two signboards of a mandir from the old Civil Hospital building, along with nine other Congress councillors resigned in protest against the alleged lathi charge on peaceful followers.

PHAGWARA: The call for the bandh evoked a mixed response in Phagwara on Saturday.

The protesters held a march in the town, forced the closure of shops and blocked traffic on the GT and Banga roads and raised slogans against the administration.

They converged on the Baragian temple where the speakers, including Mr Bittu, warned that the agitation would snowball into a statewide protest in case their demands were not met.

They constituted a 15-member panel to spearhead the agitation against the alleged police high-handedness and decided to stage a dharna against the local SDM and gherao him on Monday for ordering the lathi charge. They also decided to submit a memorandum against the DC and the SDM to the Punjab Governor.

Meanwhile, the followers of the temple reinstalled the two signboards that PUDA and police officials had removed last night. They claimed that the nine kanals and 17 marlas land of the old Civil Hospital on Banga road belonged to the temple. However, PUDA claimed that it was handed over the land on May 10 last year.

The police had registered two separate cases under Sections 186, 353, 447, 506, 148 and 149, IPC, for deterring a public servant from discharge of his duty, rioting, criminal intimidation, criminal trespass against mobs on two different days.

However, local SDM Pritam Singh and SP Harmanbir Singh Gill asserted that the bandh had evoked no response. They denied that the police had entered the mandir or the protesters were lathicharged.


Eleven shops gutted
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 10
At least 11 shops in the old vegetable market adjoining the main bazaar here were gutted in a devastating fire due to a short circuit last midnight yesterday. The exact loss to the owners of the shops is yet to be ascertained.

According to the information available, one of the shops caught fire due to a short circuit around 1 p.m. yesterday and the flames immediately engulfed some other shops. The entire market was destroyed within an hour. The incident came to the notice of the chowkidar of the main bazaar who immediately reported it to the city police station, about 200 hundred yards away from the site of the incident.

Mr Hardevinder Singh in charge of the police station, along with other policemen went to the site of the fire. He also informed the fire brigades at Kot Kapura, Gidderbaha and Ferozepore. Four fire tenders from these areas reached the site to control the fire. It took at least two to three hours to done the fire.

Mr Devinder Singh, SDM, along with Mr Gurmeet Singh DSP, also reached the site to assess the situation. Mr A. Venu Prasad, Deputy Commissioner, also visited the market today and directed the local municipal council authorities to assess the exact loss and submit their report to him at the earliest. He assured the affected shopkeepers that he would recommend to the state government to give compensation to them.


18 jhuggies burnt
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 10
As many as 18 jhuggies of labourers located in Bhangi choe, near the Tanda bypass bridge, Model Town, were destroyed when a fire broke out around 1.45 pm here today. However Municipal fire engines managed to control the fire and save adjoining jhuggies. Though no loss of life has been reported, the total loss of property is estimated as Rs 2 lakh.

Ashok Kumar, one of the jhuggi dwellers, told mediapersons that he saw a girl with a match box going towards the back of his jhuggi and setting the adjoining jhuggi on fire. On account of breezy conditions the fire at once engulfed other jhuggies. He said dajwari (dowry) items for the marriage of his daughter kept in the jhuggi were burnt and the loss was estimated to be more than Rs 50,000. An LPG cylinder in his jhuggi also exploded.

On receiving information, Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh, SDM, Mr Randhir Singh Uppal, DSP, Mr Bhupinder Singh, Tehsildar, and Mr Sunder Sham Arora, Chairman, Arora Charities, reached the spot and participated in the rescue operations. Mr Arora said they would provide meal and tarpaulin for shelter to the affected families.


Town faces water shortage
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 10
There is resentment among residents over the failure of Municipal Council to provide sufficient water to the town. The residents complain if water comes pressure is very low. They alleged that the council had failed to improve the water supply and summer had started.

Mr Alok Kumar, a resident of the Cinema road, said that taps remain dry for most of the time. He complained that booster pump, catering to the need of people of at least three wards of the town around railway station and Cinema road, had been out of order for the past 15 days. He told that people of the area remained without water for four consecutive days in the last week of April. Mr Munish Devindera, another resident, complained that water supplied was of poor quality as the pipes were rusted and due to seepage, drain water get mixed with the domestic supply. He feared that this might lead to water borne diseases like cholera, jaundice, gastritis and gastro-enteritis in the town. He disclosed that low pressure was due to inadequate water tanks in the town as the town had only one water tank for the whole town, the other, at one at the Cinema Road, had been lying idle for the past 10 years.

The Executive-Official of municipal council when contacted claimed that the town had seven tubewells against the required need of six tubewells but the low pressure was due to tullu pump menace in the town. He admitted that the tubewell near rest house had been out of order for the last one month.

He said work was on to repair it and it would take another 15 days to install new pump. He lamented that he could not take any action against tullu-pump menace due to pressure from the Municipal Councillors of the town.


Water shortage hits Civil Hospital
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 10
Shortage of potable water has hit the local Civil Hospital. Attendants of patients have been facing hardships due to this for the past 10 days.

The hospital, having 150 beds, is facing water shortage as its tubewell stopped functioning after a submersible motor developed a snag about 10 days ago. The public health wing of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation failed to rectify the fault.

Due to the shortage of water, the attendants have been forced to use underground water through two hand pumps installed near the hospital. Besides more than 1,000 patients and their associates, who visit the OPD daily, have also been facing problems due to the water shortage. A long queue of these people can be seen near the hand pumps.

Civil Hospital sources said at present patients and staff members in the hospital were using water being supplied by the waterworks of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board. As the quantity of water being supplied by the waterworks was not sufficient, the functioning of hospital had been affected.

Dr H.S. Dhillon, Assistant Civil Surgeon, said that water shortage had occurred as the tubewell of the hospital was not functioning and the overhead tank remained empty most of the time. He added that efforts were being made to repair the submersible pump at the earliest.


Tension over channelising waste water
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, May 10
Panic gripped Bhagwas village as the panchayat and some villagers failed to reach a consensus on the issue of channelising the waste water of the village this morning.

Resenting the decision taken by the village panchayat, a group of the villagers reached the site where work on laying of a pucca nullah was in progress and fired two shots in the air after threatening the panchayat members and other workers.

A group of four persons reached the spot in a car and directed the workers to stop the construction work. They reportedly left the spot after arguments with the village Sarpanch and other panchayat members.

Bhupinder Kaur, Sarpanch, complained that the armed persons were against the channelising of the drain carrying the waste water of the village and had confronted them time and again.

The police said they had not received any written complaint and therefore no case could be registered against any one in this regard.

Meanwhile, tension prevails in the village and residents were feeling scared.


Plea on air pollution, noise admitted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 10
Taking up a petition filed by Phagwara residents alleging noise and air pollution due to the presence of industries in a residential area, Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled that either residences, or industries, will have to be shifted.

Issuing the directions on a petition filed by Ms Vidya Bhalla and others, Mr Justice Mittal also granted respondents time till May 15 “for seeking necessary instructions in this regard”. The Judge further directed some senior officer to be present in the court on the next date of hearing.

In his detailed order, the Judge observed: “The claim of the petitioner is that they have constructed houses after getting necessary sanction from the Municipal Committee, but neither the Pollution Control Board nor the Punjab State Electricity Board was taking steps to check noise and air pollution in the residential area”.

The Judge further observed: “It is apparent from the existing situation in the locality that the residential houses shall have to be shifted for which the respondents shall have to bear necessary expenses for re-location, besides compensation for the constructed portions. Or in alternate, the industries causing pollution in the locality shall have to be closed or shifted”.


Undertrial dies in judicial lock-up

Pathankot, May 10
Custodial death of an undertrial has cast a shadow on the functioning of the authorities of the local sub-jail here. Amit Savio of Christian Colony, Jammu, was arrested here on April 18 and 81 injections of intoxicants were seized from him. The undertrial was in judicial lock-up here. On May 8 his condition became critical and the local jail authorities referred him to the local Civil Hospital, where he died yesterday.

The brother of the deceased, Simon, said despite repeated requests to the authorities the deceased was not provided timely medical aid. Mr S.S. Bajwa, Jail Deputy Superintendent, said the victim was a drug addict and was referred to a local hospital thrice for medical assistance.

PTI adds: The police has constituted a medical board of three doctors to look into the matter. OC


62 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 10
As many as 62 out of 131 cases listed for disposal were settled and Rs 31.24 lakh was awarded to the parties concerned as compensation at a special Lok Adalat held at the district courts here today.

Mr R.M. Gupta, Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority, said five Benches were set up to dispose of 131 cases during the Lok Adalat. The Benches were presided over by Mr Surinder Gupta and Mr R.S. Attri, both Additional District and Sessions Judges, Mr A.S. Grewal, Chief Judicial Magistrate.

Mr H.S. Grewal, Civil Judge (Junior Division), and Ms Mandeep Pannu, Civil Judge (Senior Division).

Mr Gupta further said that there was a need to create awareness among the masses to settle their cases within the ambit of Lok Adalats to get speedy justice. He further said that the authority had decided to organise special seminars at the subdivisional level to inform the people about the functioning of Lok Adalats.


Dhumal case hearing deferred
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 10
The hearing in the defamation case filed against the former Chief Minister of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Prem Kumar Dhumal, by a PPCC member from Morinda, Mr Bal Bhushan, was deferred to June 6.

Mr Dhumal today failed to turn up in the court of the CJM here. His council had moved an application before the CJM, stating that as Mr Dhumal had to attend the cremation of his relative he could not appear in the court.


Drive to settle mutation cases from May 12
Our Correspondent

Moga, May 10
A special campaign for the disposal of pending mutation cases will be held in the district from May 12 to 31. This was disclosed by Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, Moga, yesterday.

He said that tour programmes of circle revenue officers had been finalised and were being conveyed to all concerned. The residents were being informed by village patwaris, chowkidars and other means.

As many as 89 clusters of four or five villages had been formed and cases pending for more than a month were being taken up during the campaign period. A total of 1,506 cases of mutation were pending in the district. Saturdays would be considered working days during the campaign, he said.


Kidnapping case: PM urged to intervene
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 10
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, MP and President of the SAD (A), has asked the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee, to intervene in the case of a local girl who was allegedly kidnapped by a migrant labourer of Bihar recently and was being given political patronage by a Bihar BJP MP.

In a letter addressed to the Prime Minister, Mr Mann said the girl was of impressionable age and the BJP MP, Mr Radhe Mohan, had threatened a Patiala police party which went to Bihar in search of the girl. He asked the Prime Minister to intervene as the MP belonged to the ruling party.

The girl was allegedly kidnapped from Patiala on April 8 and when her maternal uncle, Mr Satpal Singh, went to rescue her from the clutches of the labourer, he was illegally detained by the MP. A police party, led by Sub-Inspector Narain Singh was also threatened with “dire consequences” by the labourer and the MP.

Mr Mann, in his letter, pointed out that this case should not be treated in isolation as earlier also such cases had happened. He said history-sheeters and other criminals were entering into Punjab from Bihar and were creating a law and order problem. Mr Mann said the changing demographic structure would create more unrest if a system of checks and balances was not introduced immediately.


ST exemption on Golden Temple goods notified
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 10
The Punjab government has reiterated to exempt goods meant for ‘langar’and construction material for the Golden Temple from sales tax.

This was stated in a press note by the Public Relation Department here yesterday. The official spokesman stated that the Golden Temple was exempted from Sales Tax to the extent of Rs 15 lakh per annum. It was stated that a notification was issued on April 21 this year while the exemption was effective from April 1,2003 and would continue up to March 31, 2005.


Blood bank gears up for summer
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 10
With the onset of summer, the local blood bank is making efforts to cater to the increased demand for blood.

Sources said the blood bank would find it difficult to fulfil the demand for blood as number of accident victims admitted to the civil and other hospitals, needing blood, increased during summer.

The sources said three days ago there were only 24 units of blood in the bank, while on an average 15 to 20 units of blood were needed everyday. The International Red Cross Day on May 8 came as a reprieve to the bank. As many as 51 units of blood were donated to the bank by volunteers of different social organisations at camps held in the city.

The bank official said at present they had 70 units of blood. The sources said there was a shortage of blood of certain groups, although the officials claimed that blood of all groups was available in sufficient quantity.

The sources said the demand for blood in summer increased to 30 to 35 units everyday and in case of some emergency it further increased. They said if sincere efforts were not made the authorities would find it difficult to cater to the increased demand.

The blood bank had gone ‘dry’ twice in the past three months, when the blood units had decreased less than the minimum limit of at least 34 units. On certain days there were only 12 units of blood.

Dr Indu Bhushan, in charge of the blood bank, admitted that during summer the demand for blood increased. He claimed that the blood bank had never gone ‘dry’.

He said as the blood could not be stored for more than a month therefore efforts were made to collect as many units of blood as needed.


30 villagers pledge to donate eyes
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 10
It was a matter of four hours and three speeches that motivated as many as 30 residents of Gill Kalan village to pledge to donate their eyes.

The occasion was an eye checkup camp held at the village, about 35 km from here, some days ago. The speeches by the office-bearers of some social organisations motivated the villagers to donate their eyes.

Mr Anil Saraf, state awardee for social service, who had organised the function, said that the response of the tiny village had motivated them to hold such camps in other villages also.

Subedar Major Gulzar Singh (retd), president of the Exservicemen Union, who was pledged to donate his eyes along with his wife, son and daughter-in-law, said the awareness generated by the social organisations had borne fruit.


15-kg tumour removed from abdomen
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 10
Ms Murti Devi (47), a Class IV employee of the Civil Hospital, Mansa, who had been admitted in the Outdoor Patient Department (OPD) with complaints of swelling of the abdomen, feeling of heaviness and excessive bleeding in the vagina for the past 10 years was operated upon today.

The size of her abdomen had been gradually increasing and had reached the size of a full-term pregnancy. As she was afraid of getting a surgery done, she did not report about this earlier.

She was examined by Dr (Capt) Hardev Singh Deputy Medical Commissioner, Mansa and diagnosed as suffering from mass abdomen related to the uterus which was confirmed by ultrasonography.

A major surgery was performed on her today in the Civil Hospital in which a 15-kg tumour of the uterus along with overies was removed.

Two units of blood were transfused and the operation by a team of doctors led by Dr Hardev Singh took one hour.

The patient was progressing well after the surgery.


Erring ultrasound centres to face action

Patiala, May 10
To ensure that the ultrasound centres do not misuse their facilities to determine the sex of the foetus, any person aiding or abetting the sex determination of a foetus will be fined Rs 50,000 and sentenced to three-year imprisonment. Besides this, any doctor convicted of conducting a test for the determination of the sex of the foetus will face action and his name will be struck off from the list of MCI permanently.

A meeting of all doctors who conduct ultrasound tests and radiologist of the district was held here on Monday at the Maharani Club under the supervision of the Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia to discuss the amended PNDT Act, 1994. The Civil Surgeon also disclosed that a Homoeopathic or BAMS doctor could have a ultrasound machine in his hospital provided it was operated by a qualified person. Dr S.P. Sharma, nodal officer said any advertiser claiming sex selection tests was liable to be punished under the amended Act. TNS


‘India scores low in N-power generation’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 10
Of the total power produced in the country only 2.5 per cent comes from nuclear power plants, while in case of France the figure is as high as70 per cent of the total power generation.

These were the views expressed by experts from the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station, Kota, at a seminar on nuclear power technology, held at the Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology here. The experts including, Mr Subhash Mittal, site director, Mr N. Nagaich, training superintendent, while addressing the seminar said in the next four years about 4000 MW of energy could be generated by nuclear power and they had set a target of 20,000 MW by 2020. The issue of safety and emergency was also discussed and they showed data to attest their point that nuclear power plants did not affect the environment.


Badal’s OSD case: warrant date extended

Kharar, May 10
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today extended the date of the non-bailable warrants for May 31 against Mr Hardeep Singh, former OSD to ex-Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. The same court had issued non-bailable warrants for May 10 against the accused on April 24.

The Vigilance Bureau, Punjab, told the court that the accused had amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income and was wilfully evading arrest.

Meanwhile, Inspector Darshan Singh, recorded his statement in the court that no court has issued any stay order on the arrest of the accused. OC


Punjab, HP to form task force

Hoshiarpur, May 10
Punjab and Himachal Pradesh will constitute a joint police task force for arresting those who had committed a series of bank dacoities in the neighbouring states in the recent past.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of senior police officers of both states here yesterday.

Hoshiarpur district police chief Gurpreet Deo, who chaired the meeting, said patrolling on the borders of Hoshiarpur, Una and Kangra districts would be intensified.

Ms Deo said SPs, Una and Kangra districts, were among those who attended the meeting. UNI


Kin of martyrs get relief

Moga, May 10
District Sainik Welfare Board officer Jaspal Singh said here today that during 2002-03, the board released Rs 26,95,640 and the entire amount was distributed among ex-servicemen, award winners and war widows, among others. The meeting was presided over by G Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, who is also the chairman of the board.

The Deputy Commissioner distributed cheques for Rs 4 lakh as ex gratia payment to next of kin of five Army jawans who laid down their lives while fighting militants in Jammu and Kashmir. Besides, the Deputy Commissioner also distributed Rs 20,000 each to the five families for the marriage of their daughters. UNI


Martyrs’ day observed
Our Correspondent

Batala, May 10
Martyrs’ day to commemorate the first war of Independence was observed here today by the Dainik Prarthana Sabha.

A procession was taken out on the occasion in which a large number of students participated.

It started from the community hall, Khajuri Gate and terminated at Qila Mandi.


Chahal’s remand extended
Our Correspondent

Ropar, May 10
The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr J.S. Khushdil, today extended the judicial remand of G.S. Chahal, former Director, Animal Husbandry, till May 23. Chahal has been in judicial custody in a case of corruption registered against him by the Punjab Vigilance.


Cycle expedition
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 10
Brig K.S. Sethi, Commander, 86 Brigade, today flagged off a cycle expedition “Ekta” from Tibri Cantonment amid a colourful ceremony. As many as 16 Army personnel representing various religions and states are part of the expedition, which will visit border villages of Punjab to spread the message of peace and national integration.

The expedition route will cover historical and religious places of Punjab, which include Kalanaur, Dera Baba Nanak, Amritsar, Khemkaran, Ferozepore, Zira, Kapurthala and Jalandhar, covering 650 km.


Life term awarded

Sangrur, May 10
Barnala Additional Sessions Judge Sham Sunder Gupta today sentenced a man to life imprisonment and also fined him Rs 1,000 for killing his daughter three years ago.

The Barnala police had registered a case against Charan Singh allegedly for killing his daughter, Gurjeet Kaur, with a sharp-edged weapon on August 9, 2000, for having an affair with truck driver Daljit Singh, which Charan Singh did not approve of. UNI


Death mourned
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 10
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Dr Satinder Singh, Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.S. Bawa, registrar, Guru Nanak Dev University, with students, teachers and research scholars of school of Punjabi studies of the varsity mourned the demise of Punjabi novelist Col Narinder Pal Singh. A two-minute silence was observed.


MC sans EO

Pathankot, May 10
The local Municipal Council has been without an executive officer for the past 10 days. The post fell vacant following the transfer of Mr J.S. Thind who had been looking after the affairs of the local Improvement Trust also. Work of the council has come to a stand still, according to senior Congress leader Ram Murti Mahajan. OC


Medical camp today
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 10
The Elders Service Society and the Haneman Homoeo Society Faridkot will jointly organise a Homoeopathy Medical Camp at Sadiq village in this district on May 11. Medicines free of cost will be provided said Mr Jagmohan Singh Brar, President, Elder Services Society.


Cane growers await payment
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 10
The Fazilka Cooperative Sugar Mill has not paid Rs 10.5 crore to about 1, 550 cane growers of the Fazilka, Abohar and Jalalabad areas against sugarcane supplied by them. This has caused resentment amongst the cane growers.

According to details available the crushing season of the mill ended on April 7 2003. Farmers have not been paid since February 22, 2003. This includes the basic payment about Rs 4 crore at the rate of Rs 70 per quintal of sugarcane. Besides. Besides this the payment of another Rs.6.5 crore for the purchase of 21.27 lakh quintal of sugarcane on account of bonus at the rate of Rs 30 per quintal has not been paid since November 2002.

Huge stocks of ready sugar worth about Rs 30 crore are lying unsold in the mill premises. The stocks have been piled up due to lack of sanction from the Union Government. If these stocks are lifted the mill shall be able to clear all outstanding dues. In Haryana the government had purchased sugarcane at the rate of Rs 110 per quintal and had cleared the payment.


SSP told to book scribe in rape case
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, May 10
Following directions from the Chief Minister’s office the DIG (Border Range), Mr Gurdev Singh Sahota, today directed the SSP Tarn Taran, to register a case against a scribe of the police district for allegedly raping a dalit.

In her application the victim had alleged that the press reporter of a daily vernacular paper published from Jalandhar had called her on the plea that he would get her passed in the matric exam but gave her some intoxicants in a cold drink. She alleged that the reporter then took pictures of her when she was unconscious. She added that the accused raped her repeatedly by saying that he would show the pictures to others if she did not comply.

The district police chief Mr Nariner Bhargav said he had already deputed Mr Rajinderpal, DSP, Patti, to probe the allegation. He said that the police was also probing the charges whether pictures of the victim were taken by the alleged accused.

However, the reporter refuted all charges. He claimed that the girl, who is running a beauty parlour in the border belt, owed him Rs 75,000 which she had refused to return. “When I demanded the money back she started levelling the charges”. The complainant added that the accused had promised to marry her but refused later.


Girl’s family strangles lover?
Our Correspondence

Amritsar, May 10
Jaideep Singh (23) of Adarsh Nagar was allegedly strangled by the family of his beloved. The body was found hanging from the ceiling of his room with hands and legs tied by a rope.

According to information available, Jaideep Singh was running a PCO at Bagriah village, Cheema Khurd. He was having an affair with a girl of the village. The family of the girl objected to this and did not agree to their marriage.

Gurinderjit Singh, a relative of the deceased, in a complaint lodged at the Islamabad police station stated that on May 7 Jaideep had come to his house and said, that the girl’s family might murder him.

He further said neighbours of the deceased came to his house and told him that a stink was emanating from Jaideep’s house. When the door of his house opened he was found hanging.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SP, city-II, said the police had rounded up the brother of the girl for investigation. A case has been registered under sections 302, 449 of the IPC.


Dalit beaten and chained, in hospital
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 10
Mr Tarsem Singh, a Scheduled Caste resident of Bhuchar Kalan village, under Chabal police station, was allegedly severely beaten, chained and kept in illegal detention by three members of a farmer’s family of the same village on Thursday.

The seriously injured Tarsem Singh has been admitted at the Subsidiary Health Centre Kasel.

The police has confirmed the incident, but said no case had been registered yet due to the non-availability of the medico-legal report.

Mr Tarsem Singh, in the presence of village elders, told newsmen at Chabal today that on May 8 while he was going to meet his relatives, a farmer, Mr Sardara Singh, and his sons Jaimal Singh and Balwinder Singh forcibly took him to their house where they chained him and beat him severely. He alleged that he was illegally detained for a number of hours.

The matter was brought to the notice of the police by Mr Mal Singh, former member of the panchayat and father of the victim. Mr Tarsem Singh was later got released with the help of the police.


Man crushed under train
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, May 10
A 30-year-old man was crushed to death under a train on the Kalka-Ambala railway line in Issapur village, near here, late last night.

Mr Gurinder Singh, in-charge, GRB police post Lalru, said the deceased had been identified as Navraj Bahadur of Nepal. Bahadur was working as a helper in a factory located along the Kalka-Ambala highway.

Navraj was residing in a rented accommodation in Dera Bassi along with his wife and mother for the past two years.

Some passers-by noticed the body and informed the Railway authorities.

After getting information, a Railway police party from Lalru reached the spot and removed the mutilated body from the site. The body was later sent to the Civil Hospital, Rajpura, for a post-mortem.

The railway police has started inquest proceedings in this regard.


Warrants issued against ex-SHO
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 10
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, today issued non-bailable warrants for May 30 against Paramjeet Singh, former SHO of Ludhiana.

Mr Charanjeev Arora, Public Prosecutor, moved an application on behalf of the VB in the court and pleaded that the accused has amassed wealth disproportionate to his known sources of income. He informed the court that the accused had purchased a plot in Ludhiana for Rs 1,41,750 and spent about Rs 40 lakh while constructing a kothi on it. He also purchased a benami plot of 1 kanal and 2 marla for Rs 1,76,000. He also purchased a benami flat in Amritsar for 10,50,000. He purchased a plot at Maujabad (Ludhiana) for Rs 1,12,000 in the name of his wife.

He informed the court that raids were conducted at many places for his arrest, but to no avail. He said a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against him.


Gurdwara looted
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 10
Mr Harbeant Singh, Secretary, SGPC, in a letter to the Chief Minister and those concerned has alleged that two persons and their 14 supporters on gunpoint took away the cash and other belongings of Sri Dukh Niwaran Sahib, Thathi Khara, 6 km from here, last night. The sevadars were taken into illegal custody by them.

The Secretary said though the matter had been brought to the notice of the local police but no action had been taken. The SGPC has demanded action against the accused and return of the cash and belongings.


Thieves’ gang busted

Jalandhar, May 10
The district police claims to have busted a gang of thieves with the arrest of seven of its members and recovered six stolen scooters and other goods. The Noormahal police raided a suspected hideout of the thieves in Jandiala village and arrested Jasbir Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Ranjit, Balbir Singh, Rajesh Kumar and Balbir Singh, besides Santokh Ram. OC


For UGC, Ahluwalia is still VC
Pushpesh Kumar

Bathinda, May 10
Who is the Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala? Mr Swaran Singh Boparai, you will say. But according to the official website of the University Grants Commission (UGC), it is still Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia.

The UGC website ( has not only wrongly listed the name of Dr Ahluwalia as the Punjabi University Vice-Chancellors, but in fact the names of the Vice-Chancellor of all universities of Punjab given on the UGC website are wrong.

As per the website, the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Agriculture University, Ludhiana, is Dr Gurcharan Singh Kalkat, even as Dr Kirpal Singh Aulakh had replaced him many months ago.

It is shown that Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, is headed by Dr Harbhajan Singh Soch as its Vice-Chancellor, although he had handed over the charge to Dr S.P. Singh. Prof N.S. Rattan is still being shown as the Vice-Chancellor Punjab Technical University of (PTU), Jalandhar, while he has been replaced by one of the India’s top scientist, Dr Y.S. Rajan.

What is conscious about the list is that the Baba Farid University of Health Services, Faridkot, does not find a place on the website. Interestingly, the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala, which is only a deemed university, finds a place on the website.

The website mentions Mr Ranbir Singh as the Registrar of Punjabi University while he has been replaced by Mr Parambakhshish Singh. Similarly the Registrar of GND University, Amritsar, as per the website, is Dr R.S. Bawa, which could not be confirmed. Mr S.K. Bhatia has replaced Mr K.K. Dhir as the PTU Registrar, although the website did not mention the change.

As the website was last updated on April 26, 2001, at 7.30 pm, a large number of students, to whom this correspondent talked to, said the website was of no use for them. “The entire purpose of erecting a website is defeated when the UGC fails to update the same. The list of recognised courses and universities needs an immediate update”, said a student, who is to appear for the UGC NET exam in a couple of months.


Alma Mater honours Ankur Garg
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 10
Ankur Garg, the all-India IAS topper belonging to Patiala, was honoured by the staff and students of the Our Lady of Fatima Convent High School of which he had been a student, here today.

The Principal of the school, Sister Annet, along with the manager, Sister Attilia, presented Ankur a token of affection on his visit to the school. The Principal, while stating that Ankur had always been a brilliant student, said reading, debating and quizzing were his hobbies.

For the IAS topper, it was a walk down the memory lane. While praising his teachers, Ankur said the school had helped him inculcate all those traits that were prerequisites of a topper.

While answering questions put to him by students, he said it was the challenging career that had attracted him towards the administrative services. He added that he would honour the responsibility entrusted upon him and would keep the national interest in mind while performing his duties. He advised the students to focus on their goals.


Dental students seek change in cut-off date
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 10
Members of the Dental Students Association , Government Dental College, Patiala , have appealed to the state government to change the cut -off date fixed for the eligibility for PGET- 2003 which will be organised by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences on June 3.

The president of the association, Mr Tejinder Singh , stated that according to the eligibility guidelines for the test the cut -off date for the completion of internship had been fixed for December 30 , 2002,

Whereas the internship of the regular batch of BDS students of Punjab ended on June 30 every year. He added that the students had earlier appealed to the Research and Medical Education Minister, however, no action had been taken in this regard till date.


LLB admission test: date of application extended
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 10
Guru Nanak Dev University has extended the last date of submission of application form for the entrance test for admission to LLB (three year course) at the university here and regional campus Jalandhar from May 12 to May 19. However, Dr MD Singh, co-ordinator of the test said that the entrance test would be held as per schedule on May 27.


Varsity farm stubble set afire
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 10
Farmland belonging to Guru Nanak Dev University was allegedly set afire to burn the stubble of harvested wheat here yesterday.

The university farmland is located on the Ghanupur Kale side on the university campus. The burning is in violation of the pollution Act and also causes hardship to area residents.

It is reportedly given to agricultural contractors by the university. No university official was available for comments.


Academy in memory of Baba Banda Bahadur
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 10
To mark 300 year of ‘victory of Sarhand’ by Baba Banda Singh Bahadur building of an academy for the preparation of competitive examinations like IAS, PCS, IPS would be built at ‘ “chapparchri” in Fatehgarh Sahib district. The Issue of land for the memorial would be taken up with the government and building would to be finished before 2010 on the completion of 300 years of the historical event.

Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, chief of the SGPC in a statement said here today.


Cyber cafes face connectivity problem
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 10
Contrary to the claims of quick connectivity by the BSNL, Internet services have remained disturbed. Cyber cafe operators say it is virtually impossible to have access to the BSNL.

According to information gathered by this correspondent, most of the cyber cafes wear a deserted look even during the peak hours. The local authorities are unable to give definite assurances as to when the services will improve. The subdivision has been facing STD and RSD disturbance for the past one month. No official has cared to improve the situation.

Efforts were made to contact the SDE dealing with BSNL net services at Ferozepore. But he was not available. His subordinates said the problem was to be handled locally. Besides BSNL, the users here had got Deeksha and Glide connections. Call to Sri Ganganagar for Deeksha enquiries and Glide at Bathinda had become costlier from May 1 following a major change in the pulse rate for these cities.

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