Tuesday, May 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



PSEB to buy power from Centre
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 12
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today said it had decided to purchase power from various Central Sector projects to ensure there would be no shortfall in supply during the paddy season.

The board, which held a meeting with leaders of various farmer organisation, including factions of the Bharatiya Kisan Union and the SAD (Mann) Kisan Wing, also appealed to the people not to transplant their paddy crop before June 10.

The meeting, which was presided over by Chairman Y.S. Ratra, also saw the board management assuring the farmer organisations that it would provide eight hours of uninterrupted power supply for running pumps sets from June 10 onwards. The board also promised that damaged transformers would be replaced within 24 hours and that control rooms had been set up for this purpose at each subdivisional level.

Addressing the meeting Mr Ratra asked the farmer representatives to report any case of harassment of corruption to the Chief Engineer in charge concerned or the Member, Operation or himself, adding any official indulging in any illegal act would not be spared. He also informed the farmer organisations that strict instructions had been given to ensure presence of officers and officials at the headquarters during the paddy season and requested them to give feedback to him directly in this regard. The Chairman said instructions had already been given to the field staff to carry out preventive maintenance by tightening loose wires and straightening all the poles to ensure there was no interruption in the power supply.

Mr Ratra also observed that the drive against menace of power theft had been launched and that the defaulters would not be spared. He said to clear the backlog in tubewell connections, 23,000 connections would be released during 2003-04. He said the minimum shifting fee of Rs 500 per tubewell would also be reviewed and bottlenecks in connecting individual houses or farms would also be removed.

The Chairman also disclosed that the board had already issued instructions to accept payment of electricity bills from farmers without surcharge up to May 15, 2003 and that this date would now be extended till May 31. He said this concession would also be available against the outstanding dues for all months from October, 2002 to April, 2003. He said the service connection charges for regularisation of unauthorised load installed for running agricultural pump set had been reduced from Rs 5,000 to 4,000 per house power and the extra money deposited since April 1, 2003 would be adjusted against future bills.


Akali unity likely soon’
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 12
The declaration of unity between the two warring factions of Akali Dal is likely at any time as the working committees of both the factions have given rights to their respective leaders Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra to negotiate. Moreover, both these leaders have finalised the agenda after various rounds of discussion, said Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, president of the SGPC, while talking to mediapersons at Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib today.

He was here to preside over the “Fateh Diwas” celebrations organised by the SGPC to commemorate the victory of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur over the Mughals on this day in 1710.

He expressed concern over the remarks of Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia regarding Sikh principles and traditions. He advised Mr Ahluwalia to first solve his own problems before initiating another controversy with the SGPC. He said if he wanted to help Gurtej Singh, former IAS officer, there are so many other ways to help instead of challenging the Sikh traditions. Answering a query about the controversy involving Gurtej Singh, the SGPC chief said he had harmed the Sikh “quam” and Sikh institutions in a big way by challenging Sikh principles, traditions and authority of Akal Takht. He said the SGPC had given him a great honour and he was condemning the same institution. He said Ahluwalia was a frustrated man and was misguiding the public. He urged the Prime Minister to ensure that the next Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University was a Sikh.

Later, while addressing the “Fateh Diwas” gathering, he called upon the Sikh youths to come forward and to protect their rich heritage, culture, traditions, principles and maryada. He said the SGPC had chalked out various programmes for the youths and to strengthen the Sikh “quam”. In order to clear the misconceptions in the Sikh “quam”, attacks on Guru Granth Sahib and to end social evils in Sikh society Amrit Sanchar Camps, seminars about Sikh history were being organised, he said. Similarly, Sikh Khalsa games had been introduced to make Sikh youth strong. He declared that May 12 would be celebrated every year by the SGPC as “Fateh Diwas” and June 25 as “Saheedi Divas” of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.

Noted Punjabi writer, Dr Harchand Singh Sirhindi and translator of Guru Granth Sahib, Dr Harkirat Singh, were given Baba Banda Singh Bahadur awards.

The highlight of the function was the “Amrit Sanchar Camp” organised by the Dharm Parchar Committee of SGPC. Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA, Mr Gurdev Singh, former MLA, Mr Jaswant Singh Rajindergarh, member, SGPC, also spoke on the occasion. 


CBI sleuths meet judicial officials
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 12
Coming down heavily on the creeping of wrong elements into judicial system, the District Bar Association today lauded the CBI for its action against the two judges, who have been booked in a corruption case.

Meanwhile, CBI sleuths created a flutter by making their presence felt in the District Courts where they were believed to have remained closeted with a number of judicial officials, including Mr G.K. Rai, Additional Sessions Judge, who has also been officiating as the District and Sessions Judge since the arrest of District and Sessions Judge R.M. Gupta. However, what transpired between the CBI and judicial officials could not be known.

At its general house meeting, the association asserted that if any advocate was involved in the scam, he would be exposed. The president of the association said. “If any advocate is found guilty during the probe, the association would not support him.” The news pertaining to the questioning of some advocates by the CBI officials was not true, he claimed.

UNI adds: CBI personnel on Monday visited the courtroom of District and Sessions Judge R.M. Gupta. They also met Additional District and Sessions Judge G.K. Rai and discussed with him the corruption case registered against Mr Gupta, official sources said.


2 Judges suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
In just over 48 hours after the Central Bureau of Investigation booked Jalandhar’s District and Sessions Judge R.N. Gupta and UT Judicial Magistrate (First Class) S.S. Bhardwaj under the Prevention of Corruption Act, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today decided to place them under suspension.

The decision was taken during a full court meeting, attended by High Court Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy and other Judges, in the afternoon. Sources in the high court added that the decision was taken after the matter was discussed at length during the meeting. Sources added that further action, if required, would be taken by the state government on the basis of high court recommendations which were in any case binding.

Gupta was the seniormost District and Sessions Judge. Though his name was yet to be recommended for elevation, sources claim Gupta was tipped to be a high court judge. The process is more or less automatic, they assert. 


Temple followers hold protest
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 12
Followers of Thakurdwara Bairagian, Shri Hanuman Mandir, Phagwara, here today held a demonstration against the alleged high-handedness of the local police and administration in the form of lathicharge on the temple followers on May 9. They also protested against the registration of cases against some devotees and the reported attempts of PUDA to grab nine kanal and 17 marlas of land given to the temple by the Maharaja of the Kapurthala state about 140 years ago.

The protesters from Goraya and Phagwara started their march from the Thakurdwara, squatted outside police station and blocked traffic on the Phagwara-Banga road for some time. Later, they moved in a procession to the court complex of the SDM. They held saffron flags and banners and raised slogans against the Deputy Commissioner of Kapurthala, local SDM, PUDA officials and the police.

The protesters, in a memorandum submitted to the SDM demanded suspension and transfer of the DC and SDM as also of policemen involved in the lathicharge, withdrawal of “cooked-up” cases against the devotees, correction of revenue records, probe into the “illegal” acts of the administration.

The memorandum alleged that revenue officials had illegally sanctioned the mutation of the said land in the name of PUDA. The property was non-transferable and inalienable and vested with the Thakurdwara and was temporarily taken by the Kapurthala state for the extension of the Civil Hospital. Since the hospital had been shifted to its new building from the Banga road to Chahal Nagar, the land should be reverted to the owner i.e., Thakurdawra, said the memorandum.

Addressing the rally, the president of the Goraya Nagar Panchayat, Kanwaldip Singh Bittu, who had resigned from his office in protest, informed that the Chief Minister had invited them tomorrow for negotiations over the issue. He informed that the next hearing in court of the case had been fixed for May 14.


150-cr plan mooted to channelise Ghaggar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 12
Punjab Finance Minister Lal Singh has said that the state government had formulated a Rs 150 crore scheme to channelise the Ghaggar river in the state.

Speaking at a conference held at Batta village near here last evening, the Minister said the government had submitted its plan to the Centre for channelising of the Ghaggar river. He said the Centre was in the process of taking up the issue of channeling of the river with the Haryana and Rajasthan Governments also before the project would be taken up.

He said the government had also started desilting of the Miranpur Choe and the Tangri river so that people could be saved from the annual flooding along these river banks. He said the entire 35 km stretch of the Miranpur Choe was being desilted. He said similarly the Tangri river would also be desilted before the monsoon season at a cost of Rs 12 crore.

The Minister also laid the foundation stone of two link roads which would be constructed at a cost of Rs 2 crore. He said all the link roads in the Dakala constituency would be taken up for repair in a phased manner. He also distributed Rs 30 lakh in the form of cheques to 86 panchayats of the area for carrying out various developmental works. 


EPF scam: Sodhi’s arrest stayed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 12
Even as the labour contractor R.S. Sodhi, main accused involved in Employees Provident Fund (EPF) scam, at two thermal plants of Punjab has got a stay on his arrest by police from the court, the district police has started preparing another case against him after the seizure of fake bank receipts of EPF prepared by him.

Official sources said a police party from the district, which conducted raids at Ropar to arrest Mr Sodhi, after securing non-bailable warrants against him, came to know that his arrest had been stayed from his kin. Mr Sodhi had also applied for a regular bail in the local court.

Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, when contacted pointed out that first the accused was booked under Sections 420 and 408 of the IPC for cheating people. Now new offences under Sections 467 and 468 of the IPC apart from other relevant sections would be added in the FIR as some fake bank receipts allegedly prepared by the accused to establish the fact that he had deposited the EPF of workers in the bank, had been seized. He added that the police took some documents pertaining to the record of contract works of Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohabbat in custody.

Sources said that the accused who had carried out major works at GHTP, Lehra Mohabat and Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), Ropar had cheated a number of labourers by misappropriating their provident fund to the tune of lakhs of rupees. He, however, deposited some of the amount of the EPF to escape criminal liabilities.

The sources added that a case against him and others was registered at Ropar for his involvement in the EPF scam about two years ago. Another case was registered against him in Bathinda district when he was found involved in the EPF scam, which came to light at GHTP, Lehra Mohabbat.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that to cheat the authorities concerned, Mr Sodhi prepared some fake bank receipts of the State Bank of India located at Chandigarh to show that he has deposited the EPF of the labourers, who were working in his agency at GHTP, Lehra Mohabbat.

The sources said the police authorities were of the opinion that only custodial questioning of the accused could reveal more facts about his modus-operandi and the involvement of officials of other agencies and expose the nexus between labour contractors and officials of thermal plants.


Small newspapers get a new lease of life
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 12
Pyas, Des Pardes, Punjab Bani, Gargdi Saver, Panchayat di Awaz, Pendu Darpan, Daler Punjab, Charda Suraj, Intezar, Pavittar Bodh, Patiala Bani, Zamhooriat and Azad Awaz and many more Punjabi dailies and newspapers may be a thing of the past, but a recent change in the government’s attitude towards small newspapers may see Charhdikala, Dharaledar, Ashiana, Gairat and Ranjit besides a few others fight to see another day.

Small newspapers have dropped like ninepins in the city which was once known for publishing the largest number of Punjabi dailies, weeklies and periodicals in the state. The Akali-BJP government completely banned advertisements to all small Punjabi publications. As most of these were existing on government support, only a few of them could survive this ban.

The Congress government has given a new lease of life to at least six to seven publications in the city. These publications are all that what remain of the 15 dailies and around 30 weeklies which were being published in the city at one time.

Tir Book Depot on the Tawakali Mor in the city display most of the small newspapers. Its proprietor disclosed that only two to three small newspapers were selling on a regular basis from his agency. He said a few other weeklies were also received off and on but that their supply was not regular.

A veteran journalist told TNS that earlier newspapers relied on the “quota system” to earn a fast buck with some of the newspaper owners registering five to six titles in their name. He said such proprietors would sell their newspaper quota at the Mumbai dockyard itself.

Another main reason for starting newspapers he said was the “power” associated with becoming an Editor. He said this even saw a shoe shop owner and a “paranthawala” become an Editor. He said as all these “Editors” got to meet the Deputy Commissioner or the Senior Superintendent of Police they were able to take advantage of this by getting their small time work done.

Finally, there was the attraction of government advertisements which saw many of the “Editors” showing their publication as being sold in thousands though they published a few copies everyday to maintain a file only. He said once the government advertisements also dried out there was no point in remaining an Editor as they had been banned from attending official press conferences long time back.

Chardhikala Editor-in-Chief Jagjit Singh Dardi, who is presently taking out two publications in Punjabi and Hindi besides a monthly news magazine and is a Member of the Press Council of India, said while the Akali-BJP government had stopped advertisements to small newspapers completely, the present government was giving advertisements on merit. He said a large number of Punjabi newspapers had closed down in the last three years and that if some government support was not provided to the remaining newspapers, they would meet the same fate.

Mr Avtar Singh, who has been running a weekly newspaper, “Gairat” said Patiala had a tradition of small newspapers with the oldest — Ranjit being established in 1947 in Urdu before it started printing in Punjabi in 1952. He made out a case for encouraging “meritorious” newspapers saying another tradition would be lost if this did not happen.


Archival record to be housed in district complex
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 12
In another turnaround, the government has decided to house the archival records of seven former princely States of Punjab in the offices of the District Complex on the Mall.

A meeting of the Patiala Development Authority in January had decided to shift the archival record of the princely States of Patiala, Nabha, Faridkot, Malerkotla, Jind, Kapurthala, Nalagarh and Kalsia from the State Archives building at Baradari Gardens to a new building on the Punjabi University campus, which was to be built by PUDA.

However, the records were shifted temporarily to two different places as the face of the historic Rajindra Kothi had to be redone for a fortnight-long painting exhibition in February as part of the Heritage Festival organised in the city.

The archival record of the seven princely States, including Residency and Khalsa Durbar records, is now housed at three places. A part of the record was transferred to the State Language Department building at Sheranwala Gate in the city.

As many as 35,000 rare books of the period were transferred to the Punjabi University library.

The Patiala Development Authority at a meeting in February decided to hand over Rajindra Kothi to Punjab Urban Planning and Development Board (PUDA) for conversion into a hotel or any other facility. It simultaneously decided that PUDA would construct a new building for the archival record on the Punjabi University campus.

However, now there has been a turnaround on the issue. The government wants that the offices of the Commissioner, Deputy Commissioner and Sessions Judge, situated alongside the Mall are suitably utilised. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said the District Complex was a heritage building and could not be demolished. He said it was felt that the unique character of the building could be maintained and even enhanced by keeping the archival record there.

Mr Tejveer Singh said it had been assessed that the District Complex could be renovated and modernised at one-eighth of the cost that would be incurred on a new building in Punjabi University for housing the archival record. The floor space available in the complex was more than that available at Rajindra Kothi.

Meanwhile, sources said the future use of Rajindra Kothi was yet to be decided. A meeting of the Patiala Development Authority (PDA) was held yesterday under the chairmanship of Principal Secretary, Mr S.K. Sinha, but the issue could not be taken up.

The sources said earlier PUDA had floated a scheme whereby the kothi, situated in acres, was to be converted into a hotel under a joint venture with a reputed organisation. Now, the government was planning to convert the kothi into a museum which could house the Medal Gallery or other pieces of art.


Sidhu’s touts fail to give statement
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 12
Two touts of former Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu, Radhir Singh Dhira and Prem Sagar, who have subsequently turned approvers, today failed to give their statement as a witness for the prosecution in the case after they arrived late for the hearing. The hearing, which was to take place in the court of the District and Sessions Judge S.N. Aggarwal, was adjourned for June 6.


SIT probe biased, blames PHRO

Amritsar, May 12
The Punjab Human Rights Organisation (PHRO) today claimed that in the ongoing Rs 100 crore kidney scam vital proofs had been submitted to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, against the biased attitude of SIT which has allegedly spared many culprits who were directly involved in the scam besides clean chit given to one of the Jalandhar based hospital.

In a press release to the media here today the human rights body headed by Justice A.S. Bains (retd) alleged that SIT working on the kidney scam had recovered cash worth lakhs from the alleged accused during police interrogation which was never recorded.

The committee, however, declined to share the proofs with media. PTI


Gold plating of Durgiana Temple to begin soon
Our Correspondent

Amritsar May 12
The gold plating of Durgiana Temple here will start soon. The work of gold plating was stalled after the new Durgiana committee took over last year.

Mr Surinder Arjun, head, Sri Durgiana Committee, said the laying of new marble slabs at places where the stone had weathered or broken had already started during the first phase of kar seva. The stone laying would also be undertaken at ‘Ved Katha Bhavan’ and Mata-Ka-Mandir. The gold plating of the temple would start in the second phase of the kar seva.

The beautification plan entails kar seva of the sarovar besides projects for the widening of passage and removing temporary encroachments.


Probe ordered into SHO's ‘misbehaviour’
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 12
Mr Ishwar Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police has ordered an inquiry into the allegations of misbehaviour levelled by a senior Congress leader and vice-chairman of the zila parishad, Mr Surinder Singh Virdi, against Mr Lachhman Singh, Station House Officer (SHO), Natianwala police station.

Mr Virdi alleged that Mr Lachhman Singh misbehaved with him when he went to the police station in the last week of April in connection with getting two persons, who were rounded up by the police, released. Mr Virdi added that the SHO also threatened him that he would get his medical examination conducted as he was under the influence of liquor. The SHO, according to Mr Virdi, kept on misbehaving with him till he remained in the police station.

Mr Ishwar Singh, when contacted, said that he had asked the SP (H), Mr Harbhajan Singh, to conduct an inquiry and action would be taken according to the inquiry report.

Meanwhile, Mr Lachhman Singh said that Mr Virdi was defaming him by making an issue out of a non-issue. He added that the two persons, who were rounded up in a scuffle case, were released from the police station after Mr Virdi took their responsibility. He alleged that a munshi and Mr Virdi had a heated exchange in the police station. Mr Harbhajan Singh, SP (H), said that he had completed the inquiry and it would be submitted to Mr Ishwar Singh.


Converting houses into shops with impunity
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 12
Even as the district administration has launched a campaign against unauthorised and unplanned construction in the city, a number of residents of the Improvement Trust’s Kamla Nehru Nagar Colony have converted their residences into shops in violation of norms.

Though the Improvement Trust authorities have issued notices to 40 residents who have changed the standard design of their building, more residents have been converting their residence premises to shops to earn handsome amounts by renting these out.

Mr G.K. Singh, Chairman, Improvement Trust, when contacted said the authorities had sought explanations from the violators. He said action would be taken by the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) since these shops opened towards the highway passing through the city.

Mr G.S. Sikand, Executive Engineer, National Highway, pointed out that a wire fence had been erected alongside the road to plug entry points to these shops, but it served no deterrent.

Now the National Highway authorities with the help of the Improvement Trust and the district administration would penalise them as per the law.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that more and more residences were being converted into shops as the Bathinda-Barnala bypass passing through this city had developed into a major commercial centre and the land prices had soared.

A section of residents in nearby colonies demanded that apart from punishing the violators of Kamla Nehru Colony, officials who had allowed the residents to convert their dwellings into shops should also be chastised.


Quacks go underground
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, May 12
A team of the Bathinda Civil Hospital which visited this area to raid the premises of some quacks returned empty-handed as almost all quacks went underground.

Official sources said that a team comprising Dr V.K. Kaushal, District Immunisation Officer (DIO), and Drug Inspector, Mr Dinesh Gupta, was sent to this area by the district health authorities after reports came to light that certain quacks were administering steroids to people by terming these as magic pills”.

Official sources said the raiding team could not get any success as it found the premises of most of the suspected quacks closed.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, while claiming that it was very difficult to catch any unscrupulous element after news-items in this connection had appeared in a section of press, said that the district health authorities would continue their campaign against the quacks.

For the past many years, a number of residents of this area, particularly villages, have been suffering from various bone, eye, kidney and asthma problems. These people started suffering after they were reportedly administered steroids by quacks for a considerable time.

However, the district health authorities have registered cases against only 32 unregistered medical practitioners despite the fact that 515 such persons had been identified in the district.

Meanwhile, information gathered by TNS revealed that the “magic pills,” which were made of steroids and pink in colour, were being brought here by quacks from Rajasthan.


No counsellor at AIDs centre
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 12
Despite reports of many AIDS patients dying and many more being tested positive in the district having surfaced in the recent past, the Voluntary Counselling and Testing Centre (VCTC) set up at Civil Hospital, here to help AIDS patients is yet to become operational.

VCTC has been set up here under the aegis of the state AIDS Control Society to provide counselling and testing facility to the suspected AIDS patients. Besides the said facilities the VCTC is also supposed to conduct an awareness and advertising campaign against AIDS in the district.

Sources here said the state AIDS Control Society was to depute two counsellors to advise men and women and one laboratory technician at the VCTC centre here. The counsellor and the laboratory technicians were to be given special training to deal with AIDS patients.

However, till date no counsellor or the laboratory technician had been appointed at the centre. Two doctors of the Civil Hospital were looking after the centre on the part-time basis.

The Civil Surgeon, Ms Rana Harinder, said two doctors from the Civil Hospital had been deputed to provide counselling and testing facilities to patients coming to the hospital. Since the opening of the counselling centre in January this year 18 suspected AIDS patients had approached the Civil Hospital for voluntary tests. Out of these three had tested positive, she said.

However, investigations by this correspondent revealed that the two doctors deputed at VCTC were originally posted at tuberculosis control centre and testing laboratory of the Civil Hospital. They had to attend to their own duties besides take care of the VCTC centre. Because of their pre-occupation in their parent department they were not in a position to look after VCTC. When this correspondent visited VCTC today it was locked.

Besides lack of staff VCTC also lacks proper testing facilities. Dr R.P. Kaul, pathologist at the local Civil Hospital, who has been deputed at VCTC when contacted said she had just been given the responsibility of testing the suspected AIDS patients. The hospital had just the Tri-DOT facility for testing AIDS patients. The demand for Elisa test in the blood bank of the hospital had been sent but the approval was yet to be received, she added.

The sources said Tri-DOT test had just about 70 per cent reliability. The hospital authorities still have to send to patients to Chandigarh for confirmatory tests.

Dr Aman, who has been deputed at the TB centre of the Civil Hospital and has been given the additional responsibility of counsellor at VCTC, was not available for comments.


Rise in hepatitis-C cases worries authorities
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 12
The detection of a large number of blood donors suffering from hepatitis-C during the screening of their blood at the local Civil Hospital has put the health authorities here in a quandary.

What has caused further concern to the authorities is the fact that instead of the number of hepatitis cases coming down, has been rising at an alarming rate over the years.

Official sources said that 17 donors out of the total of 1,966 were found suffering from hepatitis-C during the period of about six months in 2001. In the year 2002, 40 donors out of 3,985 were inflicted with hepatitis-C. In the current year till April 23, 26 donors out of 1,478 had been found suffering from hepatitis-C.

These facts came to light when the screening of blood for various types of diseases, including hepatitis-B and hepatitis-C, was made mandatory by the Supreme Court from June 7, 2001. Before June 7, 2001, blood was being transfused to patients without screening it for hepatitis-C.

As per the medical standards, the percentage of those suffering from hepatitis-C among the donors should not be more than .005 (five per 1000). However, as per the figures of the local blood bank, the percentage of donors suffering from hepatitis-C in 2001 was 0.86 and it rose to 1.003 in 2002, and in the current year it had touched 1.75.

Dr Indu Bhushan, in charge, blood bank, said that the number of those suffering from hepatitis-C was on the rise due to the fact that a number of medical practitioners had been recycling contaminated syringes and the transfusion of untested blood was reported from clinics and private hospitals located in small towns. He added that reports in this connection were being sent to the higher authorities periodically. The Punjab AIDS Control Authority had also been informed about the situation.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that for the past many years, a number of unregistered medical practitioners and quacks had been playing havoc with the lives of innocent and unsuspecting villagers by using recycled syringes and transfusing untested blood.

Dr Bhushan pointed out that there was no vaccination against hepatitis-C cases. 


Rarely is a case adjourned in Sweden’

Moga, May 12
Though the judicial system of Sweden has been providing speedy and cheap justice, the Swedish Government has proposed an exchange programme of judicial officers with India to study either system.

The Swedish Government has deputed Mr Navdeep Singh Bhatia, Judge (jury member), to visit the Punjab and Haryana High Court to meet its judges and also to study the system there. He has been asked by the Department of Justice to visit jails of Punjab and Haryana and in other parts of the country to study problems of inmates in comparison to Swedish jails.

This was stated by Mr Bhatia at a reception accorded to him by local citizens here yesterday as he hails from this town.

Interacting with the media and people, Mr Bhatia said unlike in India, Swedish courts absolutely had no long case lists. He said there was no death penalty for murder and maximum punishment was life imprisonment. The judges in Sweden always thought of reforms rather than to punish.

One of the main reasons of overcrowding in jails of Punjab and Haryana was told that court cases pending against them were not decided speedily and some of the cases were pending for years, he added. UNI


Hostel for mentally challenged inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Sirsa, May 12
The problems of poverty, unemployment and physically handicapped can be solved to a great extent if voluntary, social organisations collaborate with the government to reach the needy.

This was stated by INLD leader and Member of Parliament Ajay Chautala here today. He was speaking at the inauguration ceremony of the hostel of Disha, a voluntary organisation, for the mentally challenged. He also inaugurated the website of Disha and a mini bus.

Speaking on this occasion the INLD leader stressed upon the need to eradicate social evils to build a strong society and nation. He also called upon NGOs to come forward and dedicate themselves to the welfare of the needy and helpless. He also distributed scholarships to the handicapped trainees of the institute. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr D. Suresh, said in the past one and a half year the administration/government had provided grant-in-aid of Rs 10 lakh to Disha. He said there were 16 NGOs in the city and these were providing full co-operation to the administration..


Literacy drive to be expanded
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 12
A literacy drive started in the district on June 12, 1996, had led to an increase in the literacy rate to 54 per cent from 37.23 per cent.

The literacy rate among women had increased from 28 per cent to 45 per cent. This was stated by Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, at a seminar here yesterday.

Mr Ahluwalia said the literacy drive would be spread through cultural programmes and a door-to-door campaign.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr P.N. Garg, Director, State Literacy Mission Authority, Punjab, said during the past 13 years, Rs 11 crore had been spent on literacy programmes in the state. He said awareness centres would be set up in villages and members recruited for the same. A network of committees would be formed from the village to the sub-division level for the purpose.


1,735 revenue cases settled
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 12
The state government has recorded an increase of Rs 117.54 crore as revenue during this financial year. This was stated by Mr Amarjit Singh Sharma, Minister of State for Revenue and Rehabilitation, while inaugurating the state’s first “revenue lok adalat” organised at Jandiala Guru, here today.

Mr Samra said about two lakh cases of mutation were pending. As many as 1,735 of the 3475 mutation cases were settled today. The adalat, comprised two subdivisions of Amritsar, Ajnala, Tarn Taran and Baba Bakala, will conclude on May 30.

Mr Bhagat Singh, Financial Commissioner (Revenue), while presiding over the adalat, said the government had formulated a permanent transfer policy for revenue officers, under which no tehsildar or naib tehsildar could remain posted at a single station for more than seven years.

Similarly, a patwari could not remain posted at a single urban sector for more than five years and in the rural sector for more than eight years. Mr Bhagat said the government had made amendment to the Punjab Stamp Act by which the government would fix stamps paper rates from April 1 every year.


Groom, baratis land up in police station
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 12
A bridegroom and his baratis found them in police station yesterday instead of being welcomed by the girl’s family.

The barat was to come from Adampur to local Babagadhia mohalla yesterday for the wedding. The auspicious time for the ceremony was between 11 a.m. to 12 noon. But the barat did not turn up. When family members of the bride rang up the family of the groom they were shocked to learn that the groom’s family had forgotten all about the marriage. A brother of the groom told them that he had no knowledge of the marriage even though he himself had come here with a ‘shagun’ a fortnight ago.

Smelling a rat, bride’s brother, along with some persons from the mohalla, went to Adampur. He was shocked to find that there were no preparations for the marriage in the groom’s house and the groom had gone to Jalandhar “to buy clothes”.

When the groom came back, he, along with his brother and close relatives, was brought here. An altercation over the inordinate delay followed.

Bride’s mother then refused to marry her daughter with an irresponsible person who did not bother about time.

The girl’s family has demanded Rs 40,000 from the groom’s family as compensation for the expenditure on preparations. The issue is still hanging fire. The groom and the baratis till late last evening were still in police station.


Proceedings stayed

Acting on a petition filed by former Senior Superintendent of Punjab Police Gurcharan Singh Pherurai, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the high court stayed further proceedings in the fake currency case.

The Judge also issued notice of motion to the state of Punjab and other respondents for July 7. Pherurai, in an earlier petition, had submitted that he had been implicated due to political reasons.

His counsel had added that the government was prejudiced against Pherurai as he was considered to be close to Punjab’s former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal.

Notice issued

In just over 10 years after an SAS Nagar resident was allegedly picked up by the police before his disappearance, Mr Justice Virender Singh of the high court issued notice of motion for July 7 on his wife’s plea challenging the trial court’s order whereby an Inspector General of Punjab Police was discharged.

Challenging the order, missing transporter and petrol pump owner Sukhdev Singh alias Sukha’s wife Kamaljeet Kaur stated that the trial court had committed a grave error by discharging the officer — Sanjiv Gupta — as there was evidence regarding his involvement.

In her petition, she had earlier claimed that the Ropar police was annoyed with her husband as he had tried to raise his voice against the “repressive state machinery”. Her counsel added that Sukhdev Singh was directed to come to a police station in Sohana before being detained at different places. He further added that Sukha’s whereabouts were unknown and there was a strong apprehension regarding his elimination.

Referring to a report by the Central Bureau of Investigation, he said that certain police officers had been found guilty of kidnapping Sukha. As per the CBI’s report the petitioner’s husband had been eliminated but the date, time and place of the encounter could not be ascertained.


Doctors examine Hamidi residents
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 12
Three teams of doctors today visited Hamidi village, near Barnala to check up residents to detect cancer cases. The disease has claimed 10 lives in the past 15 years. Four patients are still struggling for life.

Talking to TNS this afternoon, Dr J.R. Bansal, Civil Surgeon, Sangrur, said the three teams examined nearly 200 persons, but none of them was found to have the disease. He said a check-up of the entire village population would be held on a day-to-day basis. The village had a population of more than 4,600 but many residents were reluctant to get themselves examined.


Turn vegetarian, says singer
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 12
“Meat stinks, go vegetarian”, says singer Devang Patel to people in an advertisement issued by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA).

Ms Poorva Joshipura, director of Asian campaigns, PETA says the comic singing style of Patel will appeal to people and help spread the message of vegetarianism.

She says more and more people in the West are turning vegetarian, but the consumption of meat had increased in India during the past some years. Indians are adopting unhealthy eating habits.

Besides, cruelty to animals at abattoirs should be stopped, she adds.


Two labourers buried alive

Sangrur, May 12
Two labourers were buried alive while digging a well at Bakshiwal village in the Sunam subdivision today.

The police said that earth started falling on Beant Singh (21) and Surinder Singh (25) from Ghasiwal village when they were digging the well in a field. They tried to come out with the help of a hanging rope, but mass of earth again caved in and buried them alive. UNI


Minister bereaved
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, May 12
Ms Agyawati Puri, mother of Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister, died here today after a brief illness. She was 89. She is survived by three sons and two daughters. The cremation will take place tomorrow at 11 a.m. in Sujanpur, the native town of Mr Puri.


Two appointed PLSA members
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
The Punjab Government has nominated two new members of the Punjab Legal Services Authority (PLSA). A spokesman of the PLSA said while Mr S.N. Aggarwal, District and Sessions Judge, Patiala, would replace Mr L.R. Roojam, Mr M.D. Singh, Head, Department of Laws, GNDU, Amritsar, would come in place of Dr Gurjeet Singh.


12 donate blood at camp
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 12
The United Welfare Society today held a blood donation camp at Gill Patti village where 12 persons donated blood. Mr Surinder Singla, MLA, was the chief guest. Mr Singla appealed to the villagers to break the wheat paddy/cotton cycle for better profits. Mr Maninder Brar, an eye surgeon of the Civil Hospital, examined 250 patient who were given medicines.


Four injured in accident
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 12
Four persons were injured in an accident between a car and a tractor on the Bathinda-Goniana road, 7 km from here, early this morning.

As per information, both the vehicles were coming towards the city. firemen and volunteers of an NGO reached the spot and admitted the injured to the Civil Hospital.

The injured have been identified as Yogesh and Kala, both residents of Raman Mandi, and Surjit and Dhanna.


Body identified
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 12
The body that was fished out from the lake of the thermal plant here has been identified as belonging to Mr Kaka, a resident of Subash Basti area of the city. The man was reportedly a drug addict.

In other incidents, Sukhjit Singh, a local resident, met with an accident when his scooter collided with a bus. He suffered multiple injuries. In another incident, a sadhu, Shankar Giri, was injured when he fell from a train and broke his hand. 


Meeting of revenue officers
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 12
Mr Anurag Verma, Deputy Commissioner, has asked the revenue officers to dispose of all pending mutations in their respective revenue circles.

The DC held a meeting in this regard with officers today, according to a press note. The state government had taken an initiative to dispose of all pending mutations at the earliest. Mr Verma said that the death registers maintained by chowkidars in the villages should be consulted so as to ensure that no entry regarding the mutations was left out. He asked the Subregistrars to make sure that all entries on account of registration forms were made immediately.

The Circle Revenue Officers (CROs) had been instructed to visit different villages to attest the mutations. The CROs would inform the residents of a particular village about their visit well in advance, so that those who wanted to get the mutations attested should get the same done on the specified date. They had been asked to visit the villages between May 12 and May 31. Mr Verma said those who wanted to get the pending mutations attested should contact the SDMs concerned.


Pak intruder arrested
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 12
The BSF has arrested a Pakistani intruder. According to sources, the intruder was arrested near D.D. Mal post in the Mamdot sector and a microphone and a pack of cards were seized.

He told BSF personnel that his name was Asaf, son of Majid, and he belonged to Gandasingh Wala village that fell under Kasur in Pakistan.

BSF officials said the article seized from him might be linked to some code. 


27 beggars arrested
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 12
The police has arrested as many as 27 beggars, including four women, seventeen cases under Section 283 of the IPC and three under the Punjab Prevention of Begging Act, 1971, have been registered.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here today, said that during preliminary investigation, it was found that most of these beggars were having two wheelers to travel to their “selected” places of work.

Meanwhile, the police has arrested Kulwinder Kaur of Chak Kalan village in Nakodar for smuggling narcotics and recovered 35 kg of poppy husk from her.


Theft in school
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 12
Thieves struck at the local Sant Singh Sukha Singh School last night and decamped with Rs 25,000 and some articles of the school.

The incident came to the notice of the principal of the school today morning when he came to the school. He informed the police about the incident.


Man gets 4-year RI

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 12
Mr G.S. Gill, Additional District and Sessions Judge, today sentenced Karam Singh alias Kala to four years rigorous imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 4,000 under the NDPS Act.

According to a press note issued by the SSP, Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, Mr Gurdial Singh, the then SHO of Bassi Pathana police station, during a naka on November 24, 1998 had arrested Karam Singh and seized 34 kg of poppy husk from him. The police had registered a case under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act. OC


Mother, son get 7-year RI

Patiala, May 12
A woman and her son were awarded seven years’ rigorous imprisonment in a dowry case by a fast track court here today.

Bhupinder Kumar, husband of the victim, Alka, and his mother Savitri Devi, were accused of strangulating Alka which led to her death in June, 2000. OC


Courses for three ITIs get nod
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 12
The Punjab Government has decided to start cutting-edge technology courses in Industrial Training Institutes (ITIs) at Patiala, Ropar and Ludhiana.

A resolution in this regard was adopted at the State Council for Vocational Training meeting held under the chairmanship of Technical Education Minister Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

The courses include computer numerically controlled (CNC) machines, computer awareness, power electronics, digital electronics, auto computer aided designs (CAD), electroplating and industrial paints.

The minister said as part of Centre’s policy to open 1,000 ITIs in the private sector during the current Five-Year Plan the council also decided to invite applications for the same through an advertisement. Special preference would be given to the institutions opting to run the courses that had been identified by the Director-General, Employment and Training, Government of India, as crucial ones.

The council has also allowed reputed institutions in the private sector to run teacher-training courses for the instructors who could teach at the ITIs. These courses were permitted at the government institutions and only 320 seats were available, he added.

Mr Kaypee also said apart from approving a five-day week at all ITIs the council had also decided to open parent-teacher association chapters at all institutes in the state and re-activate the Punjab Industrial Trainees Sports Association. Decisions were also taken to streamline the working of the hi-tech training scheme at Mohali, besides modular courses at various ITIs under the Internal Resource Generation Scheme of the department.

In yet another decision the council decided to certify a number of short courses that had been initiated at various ITIs in accordance with the local requirements. The syllabus for Punjabi stenography was also approved. The council also approved the guest faculty scheme for the craftsman training scheme. The status of the Junior Technical School, Kapurthala, had also been formally upgraded to an ITI, said Mr Kaypee.

He further said the council had approved a new format for the annual confidential reports of the instructors on the basis of rational and measurable criteria.

The principals of the ITIs were also authorised to get done petty repairs of the buildings at their own level.


Fee reduction by varsity raises eyebrows
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 12
The sudden reduction of fees for the NRI-sponsored seats in the professional courses in Guru Nanak Dev University has raised many eyebrows as it is likely to benefit certain high-ups of the varsity whose wards may take advantage of the decision.

The eligibility criterion for appearing in entrance tests for graduation courses, which was earlier fixed at 50 per cent, has been reduced to 33. Changing this would help the aspiring candidates with low merit to get admission into professional courses under the NRI quota.

However, Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, defended the decision for lowering the eligibility criteria by saying that the step was taken as Punjab Technical University had already lowered the percentage for admission to these courses.

The fees for the M.Tech (computer course) has been reduced from $ 23000 to $ 15000 and M. Tech (IT) from $ 6000 to $ 4000. For M.Tech (part time), the fees has been reduced from $6000 to $ 4000. Similarly, the university has reduced the fees for B.Tech (electronics) and B.Tech (computer engineering). However, the university has increased the fees under the NRI quota for LLB (five years) from $ 5000 to $ 6000 and LLB (three years) from $ 3000 to $ 5000


Most students back Director’s stand
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 12
The issue of the alleged threat to the Director of the School of Law run here by Guru Nanak Dev University by the father of a student, who was denied permission to appear in the examination due to shortage of lectures, took a new turn with 51 out of 65 students giving an undertaking that 10 of their classmates who fell short of the required number of lectures were responsible for their fate for ignoring repeated warnings by teachers.

On the other hand, parents of some of these 10 students alleged that their wards were suffering just for their plea to the college authorities seeking the issuance of roll numbers and their contention that they were informed about the shortage of lectures at the eleventh hour.

The issue had snowballed into a major controversy after Dr Daljit Singh, Director of the school, alleged last week that he was threatened by Dr V.P. Kataria, father of Pallvi, a student whose name figured among students who fell short of the required number of lectures that if he failed to allow his daughter to appear in the examination he would kill him. While Dr Kataria denied the allegation maintaining that the Director was vindictive towards students, Dr Daljit Singh had even sought the intervention of the Punjab and Haryana High Court expressing apprehensions that he might be framed in some false case by Dr Kataria. Staff of the school and the Guru Nanak Dev University Teachers’ Association had, however, extended full support to the Director. The Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University, Dr S.P. Singh, had ordered an inquiry into the matter.

Meanwhile, the LLB students (except 10 students who fell short of the required number of lectures), today alleged that the behaviour of the students, whose lectures were found short, and their parents had earned a bad name to the institute. “We feel sorry for them but support the stand of our Director in expelling them from the second semester due to shortage of lectures. The students are themselves to be blamed for their fate as they ignored the repeated warnings given by teachers time and again. We support the decisions which are taken as per the university norms,” said a duly-signed statement of these 51 students.


Transfer of school head sought
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 12
The Education Secretary has received a complaint seeking the transfer of the School Head of Jiwan Singh Walla village for allegedly misbehaving with the staff of the school and students.

Mr Tehinder Singh, sarpanch of same village, has alleged that the School Head is not fluent in speaking Punjabi and has been torturing the staff of the school with her behaviour.

Ms Upinder Kaushik, School Head, when contacted, said she had enforced strict discipline in the school regarding the timetable, teaching and conduct of the teachers, which had been irking some of the people.

Ms Kaushik said many false complaints had been filed against her by a section of residents of the village, but they had been found baseless. She has denied all allegations levelled against her.


Entrepreneurs not to pay MC taxes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 12
Condemning the Municipal Corporation for not providing basic amenities at local focal point industrial areas, entrepreneurs have unanimously decided not to pay any tax for the current year to the corporation.

Mr Vimal Kapoor, president, Focal Point Industries Association, at a meeting here today said despite paying huge octroi, house tax, sewerage charges, water charges etc the corporation authorities were not providing proper sewerage, street lights, sweepers and roads.

The association urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to provide various benefits or incentives to entrepreneurs as provided by the Jammu and Kashmir and Himachal Pardesh Governments at least in the border districts of Punjab. 

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