Saturday, May 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjabi youths arrive today from Pakistan jails
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 16
While six Punjabi youths would return from Pakistan after nightmarish experiences in various jails through Wagha Joint Checkpost tomorrow, families of other 18 youths lodged in different jails of Pakistan have more wait ahead for the re-unions with their wards.

Happy over the reports about their return, family members of these six youths, mostly marginal farmers, said that they would not suggest anyone to leave for green pastures abroad. Most of the youths had left for foreign countries through unscrupulous travel agents.

Talking to TNS Mr Sukhdev Singh, father of Mukhtiyar Singh (26), who had left for Lebanon eight years ago and was found ‘missing’ for the last two years, said that he was happy that his son was coming to India after experiencing traumatic days in various jails. He said he had sent his son to Lebanon by mortgaging his prime agricultural land for which he could not re-pay yet. He said before landing in a Pakistani jail, his son had visited England, Greece and other countries.

One of these Punjabi youths, Gurmeet Singh (30), a resident of Tibberpur village (Fatehgarh Sahib district), a married man having two children had gone to Lebanon in 1997. Swarn Singh, brother of Gurmeet, told TNS that it was bad luck for the family that his brother (Gurmeet Singh) had crossed over to Greece through a fake travel agent. Gurmeet Singh, who wanted to reach Italy, was arrested from a hotel in Turkey, along with 80 others. All youths were given third-degree torture and then pushed towards Iran. Swarn Singh said that the Iran police had looted their entire money and belongings before the youths were pushed to Pakistan. However, Gurmeet was in touch with his family through correspondence which he was allowed by the Pakistan authorities.

Karm Singh (33), a resident of Mallewal village (Moga district), spent four years in Lebanon. Ms Manjit Kaur, sister-in-law of Karm Singh, told TNS that the family had undergone great mental trauma. She said Karm Singh used to send money from Lebanon.

Gyan Chand (35), a resident of Donewal village, (Hoshiarpur), spent 14 years at Lebanon. He was returned to India after earning enough money about two years ago. But he tried to enter Italy through Greece when he was caught at Turkey. After his release from Turkey he landed in Pakistani jail like other youths. Ms Jaswinder Kaur, his sister said family members would reach Wagha Check Post to receive him tomorrow.

Another youth Gurnam Singh from Garhi village (Nawanshahr) is also returning to India with horrible memories. Mr Gurbax Singh, father of Gurnam Singh, said that he had taken loan from his relative living in England to send his son abroad which could not be returned so far. Though under debt, he is happy that his son is returning safe and sound tomorrow.

However, the family members of the 18 other Punjabi youths lodged in Kot Lakhpat Centre Jail (Lahore) and Kota Jail (Balochistan), said that they were sad that the jail terms of their wards had been prolonged as intelligence verifications could not be done so far. Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, claimed that he had talked to the Pakistani authorities, which had assured him that the remaining youths would be released from the jails as soon as they got green signal from the Indian Embassy.


State fails to cash in on Central scheme
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Over 1,000 schools without heads

While the recruitment of 17,000 teachers against vacant posts in government schools has been hanging fire for quite some time, the authorities concerned are also dithering on the appointment of 800 Principals and 292 Headmasters. Most of these posts are to be filled by promotion. Over 1,000 schools have been without regular heads for the past several years.

Chandigarh, May 16
The Union Government-funded “Sarab shiksha abhiyan” is caught in a whirlpool of official procedures in Punjab.

The Union Government last year approved 2,010 posts of teacher for Punjab under this scheme, releasing Rs 9.78 crore to the state government for payment of their salaries . A 15 per cent financial share in the scheme was to be contributed by the state government.

However, the scheme lapsed at the end of the past financial year for want of approval by the state’s Finance Department. Sources said the Finance Department raised several objections while examining the scheme. The main objection was that where such teachers would be accommodated after the Centre stopped financing it.

Secondly, what should be the terms and conditions of appointment of such teachers?

While the Finance Department did not release funds for the scheme, 2,010 trained persons failed to get jobs as teachers in Punjab. The state government had failed to take the benefit of a scheme a major share of which was to be funded by the Centre.

The Union Government has again approved the scheme for the current financial year. However, the Union Government this time has hiked the state government’s share to 25 per cent, which has not yet been approved by the Finance Department.

Under the scheme, the Punjab Government had approved certain centres to teach students. These centres were different from government and private schools. However, teachers in such centres were sent on deputation from government schools. The Education Department had planned that following the approval of 2,010 posts, those sent on deputation to these centres would be replaced by new appointees.

For the remaining 2.5 lakh non-schoolgoing children between 6-14 years of age, the Education Department had chalked out a separate scheme. A plan was prepared to recruit education volunteers for this purpose and they were to be given an honorarium of Rs 1,000 each.


Independent panel to decide on clerks’ fate
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16
The fate of 134 clerks, terminated from the Punjab School Education Board before being appointed on contract basis, will be decided by an independent high-powered committee appointed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The three-member committee will be headed by a retired high court Judge, Justice N.K. Aggarwal. An agreement to this effect was reached between counsel for the clerks and the state of Punjab during the hearing of a writ petition filed by the employees.

The clerks were appointed on regular basis on December 21, 2001. Challenging the orders issued on September 30 terminating their services and employing them on contract basis, they had submitted that soon after a change in the government, reports started appearing in newspapers claiming that the Vigilance Bureau was questioning the Board Chairman. Also, there were irregularities in their selection. Moreover, a first information report had been registered against the then Education Minister.

Taking up their petition, Mr Justice V.M. Jain and Mr Justice Viney Mittal ruled: “During the course of hearing, an agreement was reached between counsel for the parties. It has been agreed that the matter regarding the selection of the petitioners should be examined by an independent high-powered committee which may go into the findings recorded by the Vigilance Bureau, after carrying out investigations, and also examine the recruitment process through which 134 candidates were selected.”

The Judges further ruled that Justice N.K. Aggarwal would be the convener. The other two members would be Punjab’s retired District and Sessions Judge H.L. Randev, and Haryana’s retired District and Sessions Judge, R.P. Bajaj.

“The committee shall go into the question of selection process through which the petitioners were appointed as clerks. The committee shall also examine the findings recorded by Punjab Vigilance Bureau through which it was concluded that there was a large-scale bungling in the selection process.... For the purpose, the committee shall have a free access to Vigilance Bureau record with regard to the investigation of first information report dated June 14 last year registered with Mohali police station,” the Judges added.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Mittal asserted: “The committee would also examine whether in the facts and circumstances the entire selection deserves to be annulled or selection of individuals, allegedly guilty of irregularities, deserves to be set aside.... The parties have specifically agreed that the report and the recommendations submitted by the committee to the government shall be fully implemented by them as well as the board. No objection of any kind either to the jurisdiction or to the findings shall be raised by the parties”.

The Judges concluded: “The committee shall be at liberty to evolve its own procedure and shall have a right to conduct its proceedings in the board office.... We dispose of the petition in the terms of agreement and quash the impugned orders. The committee may submit its report and recommendations to the Secretary of Punjab’s Education Department within four months from the date of undertaking the assignment”.


Community policing ‘frees’ NRI

Kapurthala, May 16
While the handcuffing incident of US national Birendra Gupta blotted the functioning of Punjab Police a few days ago, the amicable settlement through community policing of a criminal case registered against him had compensated the loss to some extent.

Mr Gupta, who failed in his love affair with a girl of Sultanpur Lodhi to whom he wanted to marry, was remanded in judicial custody till May 22 in a criminal case registered against him under Sections 452,323 and 506 of the IPC on the complaint of Mr Naval Kishore Sharma, father of the girl.

At the initiative of SSP R.N. Dhoke, members of the police women cell first tried for the marriage of Mr Gupta with the girl but the girl refused to marry him as she was upset over the role of media in exposing her love story and subsequently humiliation to her family.

Thereafter, the police succeeded in persuading the girl’s family to withdraw the case against the boy to enable him to fly back to the USA. A compromise was reached at between both the parties following an apology by Ms Nirmala Gupta, mother of Mr Gupta, to the girl’s family yesterday. Mr Nirmala Gupta, who is also living in the USA, had especially came to India on hearing the news of her son about a week ago.

Mr Gupta was discharged by Civil Judge Senior Division Gurjant Singh last evening following a statement of Mr Naval Kishore, father of the girl, before the court and the judge ordered the release of Birendra Gupta from the district jail.

Addressing a press conference here today, the SSP, Mr Dhoke, said community policing resource centre which was inaugurated a month ago, had solved the problems of 3,000 persons in a month. Mr Gupta and his uncle Sahib Gupta, who were also present in the press conference, told mediapersons that the police played the role of an arbitrator in solving this criminal case. Mr Gupta lauded the role of the Kapurthala police for community policing. He even urged the SSP to deal leniently with the cases of those policemen who were responsible for his handcuffing. However, the SSP said severe punishment would be given to the errant policemen and he turned down this request. He said a departmental inquiry was going on against the errant policemen.

The SSP had already suspended a Sub-Inspector and a Head Constable for handcuffing the US national and also transferred the SHO to police lines. Moreover, a warning letter was also issued to DSP Sultanpurlodhi.

The SSP handed over $ 4,841 (US), US passport and driving licence to Mr Birendra Gupta in the presence of mediapersons.

Mr Birendra Gupta told mediapersons that he was very much upset over refusal of the girl and her parents to his marriage proposal for which he had visited India thrice. He said he would wait for consent of the girl and her parents to marry him. Mr Gupta first met the girl in the USA during her six-month stay in 2001 and later he made three trips to India to persuade her parents who were against the intercaste marriage. Mr Gupta even stayed for three days in the house of the girl during his first visit to India last year. UNI


Joint touring by civil, police officials
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 16
All civil and police field officers will now be expected to conduct joint touring of their respective areas twice a month according to a decision relayed to Deputy Commissioner and Senior Superintendents of the Police (SSPs) and other officers in the first field conference presided over by the Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap and Director-General of Police M.S. Bhullar here today.

Addressing a meeting of field officers the Chief Secretary and the DGP said the officers, including the Deputy Commissioners and SSPs, Commissioner and Inspector-General of Police and Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Deputy Superintendent of Police will conduct joint touring after every 15 days.

The DCs and SSPs were also told to keep supervision over their staff to ensure that no one exploited their position. The officers were also told that they would be held responsible, if any staff member, working under them, was found missing from duty at any point.

Besides this, it was also decided to modernise administration in the Patiala division. The Deputy Commissioners of Patiala and Sangrur and the Sangrur and Barnala SSPs had been asked to present a report in this regard and submit it in a month. The team had been asked to suggest ways on how land, crime and other records could be computerised and used in daily administrative functioning.

Meanwhile, the Chief Secretary also disclosed that in continuation of the concept of modernisation of the state administration, it had been decided to prepare a project under which the Chief Minister could do tele-conferencing with the Deputy Commissioners of the state on any given fixed day. He said besides this, a blue print was being made for the decentralisation of the Local Bodies Department under which it was proposed to give powers to panchayats to monitor the running of primary educational and health facilities in their respective villages.

It was also disclosed that a State Appraisal and Reform Committee had been made under the chairmanship of the Chief Secretary. As far as the Patiala division was concerned, Chief Administrator, PUDA, D.P. Reddy, was asked to construct new police stations for the Police Department whereby the old ones were in dilapidated condition. It was decided that the old police station site would be handed over to PUDA for commercial utilisation.

The next meeting of the field officers was to be held in Jalandhar tomorrow following which a similar meeting would be held in Ferozepore on May 19.


SGPC urged to convene meeting
Sub-committee on gender equality
Prabhjot Singh

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has been accused of dragging its feet over the important issues of gender equality and allowing women to perform “seva” at Darbar Sahib.

The SGPC had under its Dharam Parchar Committee set up a five-member subcommittee on March 11 to submit a report on the petition filed by the Voices For Freedom (VFF) in February this year seeking “gender equality” and permission for women to perform “seva” at Darbar Sahib. The subcommittee was asked to submit its report by May 15. The Voices For Freedom, a human rights organisation, has been spearheading the “seva” campaign.

The last meeting of the subcommittee, which was to be held at Amritsar on May 8, was adjourned because all members either did not get sufficient notice or were not informed in time about the change in the venue of the meeting from Chandigarh to Amritsar.

Meanwhile, Mr Navkiran Singh, convener of the Voices For Freedom, has urged the SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, to call an emergency meeting of the Dharam Parchar Committee to investigate the delay in producing a report on Sikh women’s equal right to undertake “seva” at Darbar Sahib.

The VFF has maintained in its petition that gender equality in Sikhism had been established more than 500 years ago by Guru Nanak Dev. Sikh women have been denied permission to perform “seva” at Darbar Sahib in spite of the fact that the SGPC’s religious advisory committee passed a resolution on March 9, 1940, to allow “amritdhari” Sikh women to perform kirtan inside Darbar Sahib.

Further, on February 9, 1996, the Jathedar of Akal Takht (along with four other Singh Sahibans) directed the SGPC to allow Sikh women to perform “seva” at Darbar Sahib. This was done following a petition from the Sikh sangat.

This issue has been outstanding since February 13 when two UK-based Sikh women, Ms Mejindarpal Kaur and Ms Lakhbir Kaur, were refused the right to participate in the “sukhasan” procession at Darbar Sahib. The following day they lodged a complaint with the Akal Takht Jathedar and the SGPC seeking immediate restoration of the right of Sikh women to undertake all types of “seva” at Darbar Sahib.


Allow big jathas to visit Pak: SGPC
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 16
Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, President, SGPC, today wrote letters to the Prime Minister, the Union Home Minister and the External Affairs Minister to allow the SGPC to send big jathas to Pakistan on the occasions of the martyrdom day of Guru Arjun Dev falling on June 16 and the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on June 29.

Releasing copies of the letters to mediapersons in the office of Mr H.S. Preet, Chief Editor, Sangeet Darpan, here this afternoon, Prof Badungar said since the relations between India and Pakistan had improved, the full-fledged Sikh jathas should be allowed to visit Pakistan. Earlier, the jathas were banned due to escalation of tension on the Indo-Pak border and only symbolic small jathas were allowed to visit Pakistan on Baisakhi and the birth anniversary of Guru Nanak Dev.

Prof Badungar claimed that improvement in relations between the two neighbours would benefit the people of both countries. The border tension had harmed Punjabis the most on both sides, he said. “I visited the Khemkaran sector yesterday and found the miserable plight of villagers. Even now farmers are unable to sow crop and some stray mines are still exploding,” the SGPC chief said.


Punjab plans power through co-generation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16
The Punjab Government plans to produce 74 MW of power through co-generation at the cooperative sugar mills in the state.

This was stated here today by the Punjab Minister for Finance and Cooperatives while presiding over a meeting of Sugarfed officers. He said the existing low pressure boilers and power turbines at the sugar mills would be replaced with high pressure boilers and power turbines at a cost of Rs 350 crore. Funds for the implementation of the plan had already been arranged.

The minister noted that boilers and power house turbines at most of the existing sugar mills were designed primarily to meet process steam and internal electricity requirement of the mills as also to incinerate sugarcane waste. However, of late, there had been increasing awareness in the sugar industry with regard to the advantages of installing high pressure, high efficiency boilers and power turbines for co-generation of electricity which could be exported to the PSEB.

He pointed out that two sugar plants at Faridkot and Ajnala had high pressure boilers. A 1 MW co-generation project was commissioned at Faridkot coperative sugar mill in January 2000 at a cost of Rs 68 lakh. The mill had since earned a revenue of Rs 210 lakh by exporting power to the PSEB.


IMA: fill vacant posts before transfers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 16
The in-service doctors wing of the state unit of the Indian Medical Association yesterday said that the government should first fill the large number of vacant posts of medical teachers in the state medical colleges before initiating any move to repatriate the PCMS cadre medical officers posted there.

The chairman of the wing, Dr D.S. Bhullar, in a statement here said patient care would suffer in case medical officers were repatriated to their parent department as at present half of the teaching faculty in the medical colleges was on summer vacation.

Dr Bhullar said the claim of the Principal Government Medical College, Amritsar, that posts of medical officers were not required in medical colleges was also wrong. He said during the last Medical Council of India (MCI) inspection in 1998, the Principal, Government Medical College, Patiala had said that medical officers had been posted in some departments for teaching purposes. He said the MCI did not raise any objection to this move.

The IMA leader said the sate government could remove anomaly, if any, with regard to audit as the medical officers were being paid for the work and duties they were doing in medical colleges, including teaching work.


SAD, BJP pact to contest panchayat poll

Phagwara, May 16
The Shiromani Akali Dal and the BJP will jointly contest panchayat elections to be held next month.

This was stated by Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, MLA and leader of the BJP in the Punjab Assembly, while talking to UNI at the office of former Improvement Trust Chairman Om Gupta here this evening.

Mr Khanna alleged that the Congress committed poll irregularities and misused government machinery, in municipal elections “but we will not allow it this time and our workers will actively work to prevent Congress excesses’’.

He condemned the government’s move to increase users-charges and fee hikes. UNI


SHSAD to contest panchayat poll

Chandigarh, May 16
The Sarab Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) will contest the panchayat elections in Punjab, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, General Secretary of the party, said here today. TNS


DGCA’s no to principal as chief instructor
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 16
Approval of the only Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (AME) College in North India has become uncertain with the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) rejecting the application of the Principal of the College for appointment as Chief Instructor of the institution.

The Punjab Director, Civil Aviation had given additional charge of the institution to Mr Mandeep Singh an Engineer of the Patiala Flying Club last month. Following this an application was made for appointing him as Chief Instructor with the DGCA which has rejected the application.

Earlier Mr Mandeep Singh became Principal of the AME College after the Director, Civil Aviation rejected the extension in service given to then Principal Amrik Singh after his superannuation in December last year. The extension had been given by the Institute’s Manager Lakhbir Singh.

The DGCA made it clear that the appointment of Mr Mandeep Singh as Chief Instructor was not acceptable. It has asked the state government to appoint a competent person immediately failing which approval of the College would be suspended. Aviation sources said though the DGCA had written to the State government on the issue in the first week of May it was still to get a reply from it. The sources said a report was being sent in this regard to the DGCA, Director, Air Worthiness for further action in the matter. Director, Air Worthiness Harihar Prasad confirmed that Mr Mandeep Singh was not acceptable to the DGCA as Chief Instructor.

The DGCA has raised two objections to the appointment of Mr Mandeep Singh as Chief Instructor of the College. It has said that this post could not be held as additional charge as Mr Mandeep Singh continued to be an Engineer in the Patiala Flying Club. Besides this the DGCA has pointed out that Mr Mandeep Singh earlier was given the charge of Quality Control Manager which was withdrawn from him following charges of deficiencies in his functioning.

Meanwhile sources disclosed that according to the DGCA norms a Chief Instructor should have 20 years of Aviation experience including 10 years of teaching experience. The Instructor of the College is required to have license of any category besides administrative experience. Sources said Mr Mandeep Singh had 20 years of aviation experience on light aircraft but not heavy aircraft fitted with jet engine. Besides this, it is claimed that he does not have required teaching experience.

Mr Mandeep Singh said he had all qualifications necessary according to the DGCA and the All India Technical Council. He said he also had teaching experience as apprentices had been getting training from him. He said the AME College had scope in light aircraft adding he also had experience in turbo prop aircrafts. He added that he was only holding additional charge of Principalship of the AME College and would give it up if required.

The College was in the eye of a storm in April with a Vigilance team sealing its office and also questioning then Principal Amrik Singh. The Principal was accused of not handing over charge to Mr Mandeep Singh despite directions in this regard by the Punjab government. Mr Amrik Singh had claimed that the Manager of the College — Mr Lakhbir Singh was his appointing authority and that he would hand over the charge of Principalship on his directions only. The Manager subsequently asked him to hand over charge of the Principal which he did.

The AME College conducts a three-year Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Licence cum diploma course. It inducts 30 students every year for the course examinations for which are concluded by the DGCA.


Finally govt remembers veteran athlete
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, May 16
The recent announcement of the Union Sports Minister, Mr Vikram Verma, to give Rs 25,000 as financial aid to the grand old man of Indian athletics, 111-year-old Baba Joginder Singh, has caught the veteran athlete off-guard.

Yesterday’s victories are today’s forgotten footnotes of history. This age old adage seemed to be true till last week when the Union Government finally awoke from its slumber and decided to provide some financial succour, albeit belatedly, to Baba Joginder Singh.

The saga of survival of Joginder Singh, whose name finds mention in the 2001 edition of the Guinness Book of World Records for being the oldest living athlete in the world, has been detailed in a 300-page book written by a serving IPS officer, Mr Rajinder Singh. These days the Baba, as he is affectionately known in his neighbourhood, keeps himself busy by fighting both solitude and penury.

Joginder Singh has represented India in numerous international meets held across the world. From 1962 till 1998, the Baba has participated with distinction in meets meant for veteran athletes held in Turku (Finland), London, Stockholm, Moscow, Sydney, Melbourne, and Kuala Lumpur.

India’s most famous veteran sportsman lives in a ramshackle one-room tenement whose roof leaks when it rains and becomes a furnace when the summer sun blazes.

“The government’s offer has come too late for me. I am under a huge debt and only death can repay my debts,” says Joginder Singh with agony and anguish writ all over his wrinkled face. The anger against the insensitivity of both the Punjab and Central governments towards him is simmering as he says with contempt, “such cheques never come, only announcements come”.

The old man has no friends and adversary is his only ally. He does not know the number of medals he has won in international meets but surely does remember that he had a ‘trunkload’ of them before the 1993 flash flood washed them away. His son, Varinderjit Singh, committed suicide in 1925 and his wife, Pritam Kaur, died a couple of years ago.

The announcement of Rs 25,000 obviously has no effect on old man and he plans to return the money. That is if, at all, he does receive it.


Market committees to be set up in July
Tribune News Service

Bishanpura (Sunam), May 16
After Panchayat elections are over in June last week in the state, the Punjab Government will set up market committees (MCs) of July in the state to speed up development in rural areas.

The government will appoint chairmen and vice-chairmen of the MCs, and nominate members on the each MCs.

To a query of reporters, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Punjab, said after the formation of MCs, link roads in the villages would be repaired as the MCs would have contribute 50 per cent amount for development. She disclosed that the government had allotted Rs 250 crore in the current year for repairing link roads. She also said all formalities had been completed for the repair work.

Mrs Bhattal halted at the residence of Mr Ishar Singh Coach here today. She was on way to Chandigarh after attending the meeting of the District Planning and Development Board at Mansa.

She also stated that for the first time in the history of Punjab, nomination papers for elections to panchayats, scheduled to be held on June 29, would be filed by the candidates to the returning officers (ROs) in their villages. Scrutiny would also be held at the village-level. She assured that elections would be free and fair. She said in for panchayat elections, no employee of the Rural Development Department would be put on poll duty.

She added that nearly 15 licences of pesticides shops had been cancelled allegedly for selling adulterated or fake pesticides. Licences of 35 fertiliser dealers had also been cancelled.

Later, Mrs Bhattal flagged off 16 trucks and two tempos, carrying wheat for drought hit areas of Rajasthan at Behlan village. These foodgrains have been sent to Rajasthan by the Youth Congress.


Bhattal assures all-round development of villages
Our Correspondent

Mansa, May 16
All-round development of villages in the state will be done under the integrated rural development project (IRDP). First of all, there is proposal to undertake the development of villages with population of more than 2,000. In the second phase, miscellaneous development works will be undertaken and priority given for the disposal for effluent water and lining of drains and pavement of streets and street lighting. To increase the income of panchayats, markets will be set up in the villages. The Central government has contributed Rs 15 crore for the same.

This was stated by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, while presiding over the first meeting of the District Planning and Development Board here today. She said the schemes would be taken in hand after the elections. She disclosed that for the repair of link roads, the government needed Rs 495 crore while it had funds in hand only to the tune of Rs 130 crore. She said special attention would be given to important roads on a priority basis. She issued directions to the district administration to submit fund utilisation certificates to the government in time.

She also asked Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Mansa, to process the cases of old-age pensions. She disclosed that Rs 253.8 lakh was paid to 31,110 beneficiaries of old-age pension in the state. She said 5,083 persons were found getting pension illegally in the district and 2,000 persons had applied for resuming pensions and their cases were being inquired into.

Mr Sher Singh Gagowal, Mansa MLA, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Sardulgarh MLA, Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, Joga MLA, Mr Harbant Singh Datewas, Budhlada MLA, Mr Rajinder Singh Chakerian, zila parishad chairman, Mr Thana Singh, zila parishad chairman, Mr Ram Paul Dhaipi, general secretary, PPCC, Mr Bhagirath Lal Danewalia, president, municipal council, Mansa, and other district officials attended the meeting.


Drinking water samples taken
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 16
Health officials have taken samples of drinking water being supplied by the Irrigation and Public Health Department from different localities of the city to check the supply of contaminated water.

Residents of Jogi Nagar, Parasram Nagar, Gopal Nagar, Dashmesh Nagar, Aggrawal Colony and Sanjay Nagar complained that they had been receiving contaminated water for the past few days. The said that the water contained sand and other particles. They alleged that the water supplied was unfit for human consumption. They added that the water was stinking.

Ms Balwinder Kaur of Jogi Nagar said water was dirty for the past many days. She showed a bucket of water containing dust and other particles. She alleged that they had informed the authorities concerned.

Mr Baldev Singh of the same colony said as the underground water was not fit for human consumption, they were dependent on tap water. He said the underground water could only be used for washing clothes and bathing.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, when contacted, said samples were taken from Aggarwal Colony and Sanjay Nagar today. He said samples from other colonies would also be taken. He said that nothing could be said about the presence of foreign particles in the water before the report on the testing of samples was received.


Call of duty proves fatal for cop

Phagwara, May 16
A traffic Constable Sohan Lal was killed, while Head Constable Jasbir Singh seriously injured when a speeding truck deliberately hit them near Mehtan village, 4 km from here, on the GT road this afternoon. The injured Jasbir Singh was hospitalised here.

The two cops were on duty at the traffic signal lights chowk on the GT road, opposite the Civil Hospital when a car driver complained to them that a truck driver was escaping after hitting his car. He also reportedly told them the truck number. The two cops decided to chase the truck on their scooter and overtook it near Mehtan village. The truck driver, however, instead of stopping the vehicle, rammed it into them, killing Sohan Lal and injuring Jasbir Singh. The police has registered a case against the truck driver, who fled from the scene. OC


Advanced ophthalmic centre on cards: CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 16
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today announced that the Department of Ophthalmology at Government Rajindra Hospital here would be developed into an advanced ophthalmic centre with the assistance of international NGO Sight Saviours International (SSI).

Speaking at a meeting with the delegation of the SSI, which was led by its Chairman, Sir John Coles, the Chief Minister said the Department of Ophthalmology was well staffed but it lacked requisite equipment and infrastructure. He said if these imputes were supplemented the department could become one of the leading centres of ophthalmology in the country. The Chief Minister also urged the delegation to provide state-of-the-art technology to improve the existing infrastructure in government hospitals. He requested the SSI to impart training to Ophthalmologists, ophthalmic assistants and refractionists so that they could upgrade their technological skills to provide better services to people, specially the poor. He sought cooperation from the SSI to encourage community participation programme in this regard.

Sir John Coles assured the Chief Minister that the SSI would provide assistance to the state government to upgrade the infrastructure and equipment besides imparting training to control blindness and rehabilitation of patients with eye ailments. He said the SSI had begun work in India in 1966 and since then had supported the treatment of over 20 million eye patients, including three million cataract operations. Sir Coles informed the meeting that the SSI had changed its strategy from supporting temporary surgical eye camps to developing comprehensive eye services (CES) that offered year-round care. He said a CES programme aimed to serve the whole population of a district.

Mr Richard Porter, Chief Executive SSI, UK, said the SSI did not currently work in Punjab though it was working in neighbouring states of Haryana and Rajasthan. He said the organisation would like to obtain as much information as possible about the blindness situation in Punjab and it was likely to commence its operations in Punjab by November. Later on the delegation visited the local Government Medical College and Hospital to see the scope of developing advance ophthalmic Centre in the hospital. The Director, Research and Medical Education, Dr Ravinder Singh, made a detailed presentation to the delegation. He projected that the hospital needed around Rs 2.5 crore for setting up the centre. He said the cost included construction of a new building, acquisition of modern equipment and also money for maintenance of the equipment.

Others present at the meeting included Research and Medical Education Minister Santokh Singh, Principal Secretary, Research and Medical Education, Rajesh Chabra and Mr D.S. Guru, Managing Director, Punjab System Health Corporation.


Rare surgical feat
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 16
Surgery linking mouth and with a tube, intestine bypassing stomach, was performed at Government Medical College here recently. Food pipe and stomach were badly damaged by acid consumed by a patient. Dr P.S. Bedi, Head, Department of Surgery and Principal, Government Medical College said here today that Gurdeep Singh, a young man admitted in the hospital with history of acid intake which had destroyed food pipe and stomach of the patient. The patient was totally emaciated and could not take anything orally and was on intravenous drip.

Doctors led by Dr Bedi and Dr A.S. Bhatia, Assistant Professor Surgery, operated upon the patient in which a food pipe joining mouth and intestine was made from a part of the patient’s intestine. The Principal, GMC, claimed that the patient recovered now was taking food orally.

He said that this was very rare surgery as usually only food pipe was destroyed following acid intake but in this case stomach was also destroyed. Dr Bedi claimed that the new technique of using an intestine (Colon) tube to connect mouth and intestine, bypassing stomach had not been done anywhere before.


HC notice on shops built on encroached land
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 16
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court comprising Chief Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice H.S. Bedi has admitted a civil writ petition filed by Mr Ramesh Chander Verma, municipal councillor and president, B.J.P. Mandal, Fazilka, challenging the action of the Municipal Council regarding the illegal construction of shops on the municipal land.

After hearing the petition, the Division Bench issued a notice of motion to Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Hari Chand Kamboj, president and Diwan Chand Verma, Executive Officer (EO) respectively, of the Municipal Council, Fazilka, for July 23. Mr Verma released a copy of the order dated May 13 and civil writ petition number 7254 here today.

The Public Interest Litigation Petition has been filed under Section 226/227 of the Constitution of India, praying before the court to issue a writ in the nature of mandamus and direct the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, and Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, to ensure that the president and the Executive Officer do not carry out illegal construction of shops and sell these in open auction on the encroached municipal land on the Abohar road between Hanuman Mandir and Agriculture Development Bank here.

It has been alleged in the petition that the truck union was a lessee of the Municipal Council and its lease was not extended for the past about 15 years. The EO with the alleged connivance of certain private persons constructed nine shops of the size 10 feet x 20 feet by occupying about 90 foot-long wide area, reducing width of the street from 40 feet to 30 feet. It has also been alleged in the petition that the Executive Officer instead of asking the encroachers to remove the illegal construction under Section 172 (2) of the Punjab Municipal Act 1911 has gone on record saying that the Municipal Council will complete the construction on its own on the encroached land and would sell the same in open auction. Thus attempt is being made to legalise the illegal construction. Moreover, steel shutters have been installed in the shops. The Municipal Council has turned a blind eye to the entire encroachment issue. The names of the persons involved in encroachments are not being disclosed. It has been mentioned in the writ that the petitioner had on April 25 made a representation, seeking action against the EO for regularising the encroached construction.


Bail granted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 16
A Hoshiarpur resident, accused of setting her daughter-in-law on fire, was granted bail by Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar. She was sentenced to life imprisonment for murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code by Hoshiaprur's Sessions Judge.

Delivering the verdict on Baljinder Kaur's petition, the Judge ruled: "She has completed two years of the imprisonment after conviction.... We are of the opinion that the applicant is entitled to be released on bail in the view of a case decided by a Division Bench".


Chemist sent to judicial remand
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 16
Gurmel Singh, a Ludhiana-based chemist, arrested by the Vigilance Bureau, was today produced in the court of the local Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate, Mrs Preeti Sahni. The court sent the accused to judicial remand till May 17 and ordered that he should be produced before the court at 2 pm on that day.

Public prosecutor Charanjeev Arora and Vigilance Inspector Bakhshish Singh demanded 10-day police remand for the accused and told the court that the accused had sold outdated medicines and cash memo numbering 2777 to 2800 were kept blank by him. They said it was yet to be ascertained from the accused as to why he kept the cash books blank.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel produced a copy of notification issued by the Punjab Government stating that the bureau had no right to arrest a non-government person and the arrest was illegal.

He said he had not sold any medicine to government and was being implicated as he was close to former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal. He said the accused was issued a notice regarding the same by the office of the Drug Controller and the notice had signatures of a vigilance officer.

The counsel alleged that the bureau team had illegally raided his shop. He said the bureau had no right to register a case against the accused in the Mohali police station.

Meanwhile, the defence counsel produced an application before the court pleading that his client be discharged in the case. The court directed the bureau to produce a notification in this regard before the court at 2 pm.


BSF Commandant cremated
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 16
The mortal remains of the officiating BSF Commandant, Raj Kumar Raju, of Eight Battalion, Srinagar, were consigned to the flames with full state honours at the cremation ground here today. He was killed in a road accident on the Jammu-Srinagar road.

A contingent of BSF jawans of Subsidiary Training Centre, Kharkan, reversed their firearms and fired into the air to pay their respect to the departed soul. He is survived by his wife, father, mother, a son and a daughter.


Tributes paid to martyr
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 16
More than 5000 persons paid tributes to sepoy Gurjant Singh, 11 Sikh Light Infantry, on his antim ardas at Khokhar village in Muktsar district today who laid down his life in the Kupwara sector of Jammu and Kashmir on May 2.

Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Marar, M.L.A., Muktsar, while paying tributes to the sepoy urged the Punjab Government to give free education to the wards of the martyrs till their proper rehabilitation. He also appealed to the Central Government for raising the recruitment quota for the Punjabis in the armed forces keeping in view their services rendered in safeguarding national interests.

Mr Gurcharan Singh, an NRI from Canada who belongs to this village, assured all help to the bereaved family.

Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, ADC (Development), Muktsar, assured that all benefits given by the Punjab Government, would shortly be delivered to the family.

While giving a cheque of Rs 10,000 to the family he also announced naming the high school of the village after Gurjant Singh Lieut Col (retd) N.S.S. Paul, Deputy Director District Sainik Welfare Board, Muktsar, handed over a cheque of Rs 5000 as an assistance to the bereaved family on behalf of board.


7-yr-old dies in mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 16
A seven-year-old boy was killed when a truck hit him near Behman Diwana village, about 10 km from here, this morning.

The boy was going toward the village along with his parents in a jeep. When the driver of the jeep stopped the vehicle, the child got off. He was hit by a truck coming behind the Jeep and died on the spot.

He was identified as Gurjiwan Singh of Jhumba village in the district. The body was handed over to the parents after the postmortem examination. A case under Section 304-A of the IPC was registered.

In another incident, the body of a resident of Rajasthan was found hanging from a ceiling fan at street number 8 of Ajit Road today. The deceased was identified as Lachhman (23) of Barmer. The body was found from the room he had taken on rent.


Man dies as train hits jeep

Dhuri, May 16
Bahadur Singh (55), a former sarpanch of nearby Bamal village was killed on the spot, when the Jeep he was driving was hit by an express train near Daultpur village, 4 km, from here, this morning.

Railway sources said the victim was going to his village, when 6688 Jammu Tavi - Manglore Express rammed into his Mahindra Jeep RJ06-01533) at an unmanned railway crossing in between Dhuri and Himtana Railways stations. The Jeep was badly damaged as it was dragged for nearby 600 metres by the running train.

The body of the deceased was handed over to his relatives this afternoon by the Railway Police after post-mortem examination at the local Civil Hospital. OC


Rs 2 crore for 10 Nagar Councils
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 16
The Local Bodies Minister, Mr Jagjit Singh, laid the foundation stone of a community centre near Rajpura here today. The minister also presented cheques for nearly Rs 2 crore to 10 Nagar Councils of the district at a function organised at the local Rotary Club where the MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, was also present.

The Punjab Government will not allow money to be a hurdle in the development of the state, said Mr Jagjit Singh. He said the first priority of the state government was to give clean drinking water and other basic amenities to the people. He accused the past regime of misusing funds and said the government was bound to abolish octroi in the state from July 1.

The MP, Ms Preneet Kaur, also distributed cheques for nearly Rs 60 lakh for the construction of primary schools in the area. Among those present on the occasion were the president of Nagar Council of Rajpura, Mr Rajinder Raja; president of the Nagar Council of Samana, Mr Yashpal Singh; president of the Nagar Council of Dera Bassi, Mr Amritpal Singh; and president of the Nagar Council of Zirakpur, Mr Narinder Sharma.


7 NRIs booked for seeking dowry

Jalandhar, May 16
The district police has registered a case against the eight persons, including seven NRIs, for demanding dowry.

According to police sources, Rita of Meerpur under Nakodar police station complained that her in-laws and others had been torturing her and demanding Rs 2 lakh from her parents. She was married to Simon of Sansarpur, an NRI settled in England in 2000.

On her complaint, a case has been registered against nine persons at Nakodar police station. They have been identified as Simon, Dhamma, Mindi, wife of Dhamma, Veena, daughter of Dhamma, all residents of Sansarpur under Sadar police station, Ranaof Shanker under Nakodor police station, Nindri and John Masih, both residents of Mehatpur, and Roop Lal of Sansarpur. UNI


Prisoner beaten to death with steel tumblers
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 16
A 35-year-old prisoner, Davinder Singh of Rani Majra near Chandigarh, was hit on the head with steel tumblers by other prisoners and minders appointed by the jail staff late yesterday, which led to his death. The death wad discovered early today after the jail administration had got the prisoner stitched up by a pharmacist in the jail dispensary and shifted him back to his barrack.

According to sources, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, today sent a Tehsildar to the Central jail to probe the incident. The body of the convict which was brought to Government Rajindra hospital today has been sent for a post-mortem examination.

The prisoner had said he wanted to left alone, a request that was denied, as he looked depressed. Late yesterday, he got into the fight with other prisoners and minders.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, who had been sent for a meeting in the jail today with other prisoners, said the prisoner had been taken to a forbidden area in the jail and beaten up there. Meanwhile, sources said the District and Sessions Judge had also been apprised of the incident. The Judge had come to the jail to attend the hearing in connection with the Kandahar hijacking case. Some of the jail staff had also brought other complaints to his notice, so, he inspected some barracks and directed the jail staff to look into the problems.

The Jail Superintendent could not be contacted in spite of repeated attempts. Sources said the jail staff had been in a meeting till late today. There were two doctors for the Central Jail.


5 travel agents booked

Jalandhar, May 16
The district police has registered cases against five travel agents in two criminal cases.

Senior Superintendent of Police Varinder Kumar said today on a complaint lodged by Jugal Ram of Raipur Farwala, a case has been registered against Balwinder Singh and his wife Kulwant Kaur, residents of Naggar village under Phillaur police station yesterday. The complainant alleged that the accused took Rs 6 lakh from him on the pretext of sending his son abroad but neither his son was sent abroad nor the money returned.

The police has registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC against both accused at Bilga police station.

Similarly, in another case of cheating Phumman Singh of Kangna under Nakodar police station complained that Ganesh Bobby and Shakuntla, both residents of Delhi and Sewa Singh of Kangna took Rs 3.5 lakh from him with a promise to send his relative abroad but neither he was sent abroad nor the money returned. A case has been registered under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC at Shahkot police station. UNI


Woman succumbs to burn injuries
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 16
Rano (31), wife of Ram Lubhiya of Shamchaurasi, succumbed to her burn injuries at the Civil Hospital at Jalandhar last night. She was allegedly burnt by Pallo and her mother-in-law Nikki on May 14.

The police had registered a case under Section 307 of the IPC for attempt to murder against Pallo and Nikki. After the death of Rano, it was converted into Section 302 of the IPC. Both accused women were absconding.

A Judicial Magistrate, recorded the dying declaration of Rano. In her declaration, she stated that she was married to Ram Lubhiya about 17 years ago and had two sons.

Her husband worked in the fields of Nikki and Pallo. He had an illicit relationship with Pallo, Rano alleged.

She said on May 14, Pallo and Nikki came to her house and instructed her husband to accompany them to their house.

When she objected, they took her to their house. She stated that Nikki sprinkled kerosene on her and Pallo set her on fire. Her husband reached the spot and took her to a private hospital at Adampur. She was later referred to the Civil Hospital at Jalandhar.


Channi held for encroachment
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 16
Gurcharan Singh Channi, a senior Akali leader and close aide of former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, was arrested on allegations of encroaching upon a land in the Adampur area even after the expiry of contract.

Channi, who was remanded to judicial custody, till May 18 by a local court, allegedly used a piece of 1 acre of agricultural land of Pritam Singh Johl, a farmer of Isharwal village in Adampur, even after the expiry of contract to use the land as brick kiln.

A case under Sections 379, 447 and 427 of the IPC has been registered against him on a complaint lodged by Pritam Singh Johl. Meanwhile, Amarjit, brother of Channi, was also named as co-accused in the case and efforts were being made to arrest the former.

Earlier, Channi was booked, along with former minister Sucha Singh Langah, by Punjab vigilance Bureau authorities and was on bail.


Gang of robbers busted; 4 held
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 16
The police claims to have busted a gang of inter-state robbers with the arrest of four of its members. It has recovered two .12 bore guns along with nine live cartridges from them. A case under sections 399, 402 of the IPC and the Arms Act has been registered.

Mr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, told newsmen here yesterday that the arrested gang-members had been identified as Balbir Singh Pehalwan, a resident of UP, Inderjit Singh, Jarnail Singh, of Varnala village and Gursewak Singh of Dasuwal village. The two who escaped had been identified as Sukhdev Singh of Kurali falling under Lopoke police station and Jaswinder Singh of Sood village.

The SSP said the accused had confessed their involvement in a number of looting incidents, including the looting of Rs 7,900 from a petrol station at Dialpur village on January 27, 2003. The accused had also forcibly taken away two Tata Sumo vehicles from their owners and sold these to Beant Singh, sarpanch of Mastgarh village.


13 arrested for smuggling drugs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 16
The police arrested Vikas Kumar, alias Vicky, today for storing pornographic and fake VCDs’ CDs and video cassettes at his music store in the post office bazar here.

In a press note, the police said four pornographic CDs and 10 fake CDs were seized. A case was registered against him.

The police also arrested 13 persons from different places in the district today for smuggling narcotics. Eleven cases were registered at different police stations. The police seized 163 kg of poppy husk, 70 litres of opium in liquid form and 700 g of opium from them. A tractor allegedly used in the crime was confiscated.

Under the Excise Act, 34 persons were arrested and 33 cases registered against them.


Pak intruder arrested
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 16
The 124 Battalion of the BSF apprehended a Pakistani intruder trying to sneak into the Indian territory. The intruder identified as Amarnat Ali, resident of Maratiya village in Kasur district of Pakistan. Sources said he was arrested near border outpost Masta Gatti in the Mamdot sector.

The BSF officials seized six identity cards from his possession. BSF officials said the ID cards were being scrutinised and the person had been handed over to the police in Mamdot police station.


Chemist held
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 16
The police yesterday arrested Pawan Jindal, owner of a chemist shop near Mehna Chowk here, for allegedly storing intoxicants without a valid licence.

Pawan Jindal was arrested after a riad was conducted at his shop by a Drug Inspector and it was found that some medicines were stored in his shop, for which he did not have the valid permission. It is learnt that he allegedly used sell these medicines to youths, without prescription.


3300 CDs seized

Amritsar, May 16
Nearly 3300 pirated and pornographic CDs’ were seized by the police from three firms in the Machhi mandi area near Hall Bazaar here today. The firms are Sardar Electronics, Sonu Electronics and Jagga Electronics.


PTU launches online library
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 16
Punjab Technical University (PTU) yesterday announced the launch of “DELNET” campaign in the state at a seminar to create awareness among the students as well as teachers regarding the online availability of books.

The seminar was attended by representatives of 42 colleges at the DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology here. The Vice-Chancellor of PTU, Dr Y.S. Rajan, in his inaugural address, said the aim of “DELNET-Developing Library Networks” was to promote resource-sharing among educational institutions through the development of networks of libraries.

“The traditional role of libraries has to change even as DELNET has become a major source of information with 540 libraries as its institutional members and offers access to 29 lakh records of books, journals, articles, video recordings, CD-ROMs and other documents,” he said, adding that the students and teaching community should utilise the services available on its website

Dr H.K. Kaul, Director, DELNET, said knowledge centres would be opened throughout the country. Others who spoke included Mr C.L. Kochar, Director, DAV Institute of Engineering and Technology, and Dr S.K. Salwan, Senior Adviser of PTU.


Governor for value-based education
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 16
Governor of Uttaranchal Sudarshan Aggarwal made strong plea for making education a mission for teachers and inculcate ethical values of our culture. Addressing teachers and students of DAV College here Mr Aggarwal said that education should be value-based for qualitative change in our lives. He pleaded that all education institutions should adopt poor and destitute children for their welfare so that they could become better citizens.

Governor Sudarshan Aggarwal felt that the spread of education could awaken people. Earlier, Principal M.L. Aeri welcomed the chief guest and gave an account of the achievements of the college.


Students protest against fee hike
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 16
A number of students from all over Punjab took part in a rally by Manu Sharma, district president and Bhanu Sharma, district secretary of the local unit of the ABVP, in protest against the introduction of higher education policies. The students begged in the main market, houses and public places.

Manu Sharma and Bhanu Sharma said rallies were being organised at Hoshiarpur, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Patiala, Ferozepore and Amritsar in protest against the enhancement of student fees.

They said the students were protesting against the hike in higher education announced by the state government on the pretext that its coffers were empty and there was no money for higher education.

He said the drastic increase in fee and funds would adversely affect the education system as the state government had ignored the realities being faced by middle and lower middle families. Hostel fee had been substantially hiked and this would further affect rural students. Even the bus pass facility had been withdrawn.

He called upon all social organisations, political and non-political parties to come to the rescue of the students.

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