Thursday, May 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab ‘not utilising’ grants
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 21
The Union Minister of state for Rural Development, Mr M.K. Anna Saheb Patil, today stated that the Punjab Government had failed to make full use of various Central grants to Punjab. Pointing out that the state had utilised only Rs 46 crore out of the total Rs 100 crore worth of grants, the Minister flayed the lackadaisical attitude of the Congress government in the state.

Mr Patil was speaking at a function organised by the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) at Sohana village, here today. Announcing a Rs 15 crore project for self employment of women in Sohana village, Mr Patil stated that this project was being granted to Ropar district despite the fact that the Punjab government had not sent any request for the same to the Central government. “Many states have been granted these projects on demand as part of the Swaran jayanti women self-employment scheme,” he said.

Denying that the function organised today at Sohana was a part of BJP’s efforts to kick off its campaign for the forthcoming panchayat elections, the minister said he was on an all-India tour and would be visiting 14 states in three months.

Listing the achievements of the Prime Minister and the BJP government at the Centre, the minister said within four years, remarkable changes had been made in the way telephone and LPG connections were being procured by the general public. “By 2007 all the 1.60 lakh villages in India which do not have pucca roads leading to them will have roads. By 2007, every village in the country will have clean drinking water,” he said.

The minister also gave a breakup of the amounts granted to Ropar district from the Centre. “Rs 22 lakh has been given to the district from the Prime Minister’s gram udyog scheme but we have no knowledge if any work has been done with that amount,” he said.

The national President of the BJP Panchayati Raj Cell, Mr Vibhuti Narayan, listed the various achievements of the BJP government at the Centre. Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, the Punjab state BJP President, accompanied the minister and in his speech alleged that the government had allowed a Rs 10 crore grant to the state as part of the sarv shiksha abhiyaan to lapse by not undertaking the scheme. “And this year also the state has showed no interest in the scheme,” he said. “Where are the 1 billion dollars Chief Minister Amarinder Singh claims to have got from abroad? Where is it being used?” he questioned.

Speaking on the occasion, the BJP MLA from Garhshankar, Mr Avinash Khanna, stated that a politician has to find a way and give examples to the public to follow. “I have been able to start the construction of a road from Garhshankar to Hoshiarpur simply by polishing shoes and raising money,” he said.

Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, General Secretary of the Punjab BJP, said: “The BJP will not allow the Maharaja of Patiala to kill democracy in the state. the state is being ruled by the police.”


Tohra may regain control of SGPC
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 21
The forging of Akali unity is expected to be followed by the control of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) reverting to old Akali warhorse and SHSAD president Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

High-level Akali sources disclosed that a decision had been taken in principle in this regard already following a meeting between Mr Tohra and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal. It has been decided in principle that the presidentship of the SGPC would be given to Mr Tohra or his nominee.

The present SGPC president, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, has already offered to resign from his post due to this development. The SAD has also veered around to the view that giving control of the SGPC to Mr Tohra would be essential for the forging of Akali unity.

It has also been decided that Mr Tohra’s men would be adjusted in the party set-up proportionately. Detailed discussions would be held when Mr Badal is invited to Akal Takth and the way for Akali unity is paved. Senior leaders said Mr Tohra’s men would be adjusted in the organisational set-up after the panchayat elections in the state.

Meanwhile, SAD sources said the SHSAD was sticking to only one demand. It was the appearance of Mr Badal before Akal Takht to seek his forgiveness for not obeying a ‘hukamnama’. They said as the SAD chief had already written to Akal Takht in this context, they did not visualise any problem in Mr Badal’s appearance befor the Takht.

Meanwhile, Akali unity may not have much effect on the party organiations in all districts of the state. But in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib, unity would mean give much more representation to the Tohra men in the party set-up. Mr Tohra’s men dominate both the Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib organisational units, with his supporters being presidents of the district units. Besides having a complete sway over the district units, Mr Tohra also had a complete say over the postings and transfers in both districts before he broke off with the SAD during the second year of Akali-BJP rule in the state.

The vacuum created by Mr Tohra had been used by former Finance Minister Kanwaljit Singh to create his own team in Patiala district. He first led the SAD Lok Sabha campaign of party candidate Surjit Singh Rakhra and then was instrumental in the party campaign for the Assembly elections. Besides winning his own seat, the party also won from the Shatrana Assembly constituency.

The sources said though the elevation of Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar had led to the formation of another group in the district unit, the amalgamation of the SAD unit with the Tohra unit would see further changes. 


Mayor, Commissioner at loggerheads?
Grewal kept me in the dark, says Vishnu Sharma
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 21
The city Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, today charged the MC Commissioner, Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal, with deliberately keeping him in the dark regarding an octroi evasion case. He has instituted a five-member committee to inquire into how a private trader managed to take seized electronic goods out of a godown sealed by the corporation.

The Mayor, while talking to the TNS, said a corporation team had seized electronic goods from some vehicles at Top Ghat eight months ago. He said the team found out that the goods, which belonged to Oriental Traders of Dharampura Bazar, were being surreptitiously brought into the city without paying the octroi. He said the goods were worth lakhs of rupees and the trader was accused of saving octroi duty worth Rs 60,000 on them. The firm was fined a sum of Rs 10 lakh for the evasion, he added.

The Mayor said the matter was brought to the notice of the MC Commissioner, adding that the confiscated goods were kept under the seal of the corporation in a godown. He said the matter came to his knowledge yesterday only.

The Mayor claimed that the matter was of serious nature, since some favour had apparently been done to the private trader due to which he had taken the goods out of the godown. He said he had written a letter to Mr G.S. Grewal informing him that he had been kept in the dark about the entire case and that a report regarding the same should be submitted to him. He said he at the same time instituted a five-member committee comprising Rupinder Tiwana, Harish Aggarwal (both octroi staff), Deputy Controller, Finance, Legal Adviser Rajinder Moudgil and Law Officer Yashpal to inquire into the entire episode and submit its report to him.

He said when a corporation team checked other goods stocked in the shop of the trader, it was revealed that octroi had not been paid on goods worth Rs 7 lakh. He said the matter was not investigated further, causing a further loss to the corporation. In normal course all files are show to him, he said, but it was surprising that this case had been kept away from him.

The statement of the Mayor comes in the wake of reports that he was not getting along well with the MC Commissioner. Mr Grewal had recently been posted out of the corporation but had not given up his charge. The official could not be contacted despite repeated attempts and was reportedly out of station.



‘Nothing new’ in inter-cadre postings
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Punjab State IAS Officers Association provides a forum for a free and frank exchange of views and the opinions of members need not necessarily be the views of the association, says Mr B.R. Bajaj, President of the association, revealing that whatever was discussed at the executive committee meeting on May 19 would be taken up with the Chief Secretary and the Chief Minister formally “to further the initiatives taken for good governance”.

The rejoinder of the Association issued on Wednesday appears to be an exercise to control the damage caused by “strong views” expressed by certain members in their individual capacity at the May 19 committee.

The meeting was convened to consider one of the suggestions given by Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap for facilitating inter-cadre postings of IAS and IPS officers.

Mr Rajan Kashyap held that one of the several suggestions received for “good and responsive governance” was that inter-cadre postings should be tried. “The philosophy was to put an IPS officer with certain expertise against a middle-level non-cadre position held by an IAS officer or vice versa.

“But it has been made to be known as if an IAS officer would be posted as a district police chief or an IPS officer being posted as a District Magistrate,” remarked a senior officer on condition of anonymity, holding that “it is a good step to end the bitterness that these two major civil service cadres in Punjab have developed over the past few decades. It may be one of the several offshoots of the turbulence the state underwent in the 80s and the 90s.”

Mr Kashyap said that there were many talented officers both in civil service and the police. “If someone is good in information technology and can be useful for improving connectivity and information systems in the Police Department, why that should not be tried by giving that IAS officer of middle level a chance. Similarly, a talented police officer, say good in technical education, can be used at a middle-rung position so that the government in general and the public at large benefits from his or her specialisation”.

“These things are there already,” remarked another officer by referring to the case of the Director of Sports, Mr Kartar Singh, an IPS officer. “This is an example of how successful this experiment has been. The post of Director of Sports has been invariably held by an IAS or PCS officer and Mr Kartar Singh, an Olympian and Asian gold medallist, became the first police officer to hold this position. None objected when his appointment was made by the previous SAD-BJP Government,” he added, saying that there is a police officer, that too from a central police organisation, in the present Chief Ministers’ Secretariat.

A retired IAS officer, says that “there was time when the gap between the IAS and IPS officer had widened so much that they even started avoiding each other at social get-togethers. It was felt that this gap must be reduced. It is a good initiative”.

Those supporting the move for inter-cadre transfers say that of late the relationship between IAS and IPS officers, both at the district and state levels, had touched a new low and the number of complaints against each other, especially at the district level, had been far more than ever before. Even the basic courtesies were given a goby. For example, the saluting of a District Magistrate or a Secretary-level officer by police officers had been either discontinued or limited to personal relationships. This trend had to be checked.

They were also shocked at the type of language used at the executive committee meeting not only against the administrative head of the state but also the police chief. “If senior civil servants use this type of language against their own bosses, what treatment a common man should expect from them is not difficult to imagine,” said a retired police officer who held that when he was the Director-General of Police in Punjab, the Chief Secretary had called on him and visited him in his office more than once.

A serving police officer said that at one stage, the Ministry of Home Affairs was planning to issue standing orders wherein the DGP of a state was to be granted the status equivalent to an Additional Chief Secretary.

“Those criticising this move have forgotten the days when Punjab had officers like Mr J.F. Ribeiro and Mr KPS Gill. Did they ever talk about the superiority of the IAS over the IPS or had the courage to suggest that such a precedent amounted to a Deputy Commissioner calling on DSPs in a district,” he added.

Those opposing the move, however, quote the standing orders and rules, saying that the Chief secretary should not have made a courtesy call on the Director-General of Police as he is just the “head of one of the several departments of the government”. They also criticise that there is no need for inter-cadre transfers as this experiment tends to create bad blood between the two services, besides causing a lot of heart-burn. They hold that such action has lowered the prestige of the premier civil service.


Scuffle in Govt Dental College
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, May 21
A group of women doctors reportedly saved the day for many of their male colleagues who had entered into a scuffle with some Class III employees in the local Government Dental College on the college campus here today.

To avoid an unsavoury situation from aggravating, women doctors confronted the angry employees who had turned out in large numbers to allegedly take revenge on male dental doctors.

Trouble started yesterday when some Class III employees alleged that a doctor had deliberately locked them in the duty room while they were having tea. However, the doctor concerned refuted the charge. He stated that he had merely hung the padlock and did not lock the room meant for emergencies which the employees were using for a get-together while he waited for them to vacate it.

A student, on condition of anonymity, said a senior teacher and later the Principal of the college, Dr Amarjit Singh Gill, intervened to defuse the situation. He also alleged that they were threatened with dire consequences by at least three employees yesterday.

Dr Bhupinder Padda who had reportedly tried to pacify both sides refused to give any comments when contacted.

A doctor was confronted by some Class III employees.

A number of students came to his rescue. According to information, nearly 25 students and the same number of employees clashed today in the college. It is learnt that chains, bricks, iron rods and bottles were used in the clash.

At least three students and some employees allegedly sustained minor injuries while the turban of one lab technician was taken off and many were kicked, slapped and punched. Dr Amarjit Singh Gill who had left for outstation today rushed back after hearing the news of the clash.

Some senior teachers reportedly asked the dental students to lock themselves in one of the rooms. When the mob of employees asked the students to come out, the women doctors confronted the angry employees and helped pacify the situation. 


Hit by govt jeep, girl struggles for life
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 21
Sangeeta, daughter of Mr Harikrishan is struggling for life at a private hospital in Ludhiana. She was hit by a government jeep on April 26. Till date no government official has bothered to enquire about her well-being.

On the ill-fated day, Sangeeta had accompanied her sister to Naina Devi Mandir, on the Patiala-Nobha road when on their way back their scooter was hit by a Mahindra jeep (PB-11-S 7220) belonging to a senior government office.

The jeep was being driven by a Hawildar of the dog squad, Patiala. Mr Harikrishan, a tailor in Tripari, Patiala, says, his voice choked with grief: “My daughter is struggling for life but the guilty are moving scot-free”.

According to family sources, Manju was discharged after treatment at Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. She had multiple fractures in her legs and arms.

Sangeeta, who sustained severe head injuries, was operated upon for six hours at the PGI. She is at Sobti Neuro and Trauma Centre, Ludhiana.

Mr Harikrishan, says he has spent his entire savings on the treatment of his daughters.

The Sadar police at Patiala, when contacted admitted that the jeep involved in the accident belonged to the police.

TNS adds from Ludhiana: “Despite several multiple fractures, Manju is back, it is Sangeeta that we are really worried about. Sangeeta suffered a head injury that caused blood clotting in the brain. Though, the doctors are hopeful, we can only pray for her quick recovery”, Mr Vinod Kumar, her brother said.

He said after having been operated at the PGI the same day she was sent back on May 6. When her fever did not subside she was again admitted to a private hospital at Patiala. On May 10 the doctors referred her to Sobti Neuro Centre here, in a semi-conscious state.

Dr Manoj Sobti, who is attending on her, said, “She is semi-conscious and has suffered partial loss of memory”.

Mr Vinod Kumar stated that the family had already spent about Rs 1 lakh on Sangeeta’s treatment and Rs 40,000 on Manju’s. What is worse is the fact that the police vehicle, registered in the name of the Inspector-General of Police, Patiala, was not insured, he added.

Mr Umesh Kumar, the second brother of Sangeeta, disclosed that while the police had told them that a case had been registered, but so far no financial help has come from any quarter.


Hanspal’s directive on ZP meeting
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 21
Mr H.S. Hanspal, president of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), has directed the president of the District Congress Committee to convene a meeting of all members of the zila parishad, including chairmen of the Faridkot and Kotkapura block samities, and ensure their presence in the next meeting of the zila parishad likely to be held here on May 28.

According to reports, taking serious view of the fact that six of the 12 party members had abstained themselves from the zila parishad meeting held here on May 8, Mr Hanspal said such factionalism and infighting in the party would not be tolerated.


Work on bus terminals to start soon
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, May 21
Work on the Rs 45-crore project to set up bus terminals at Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana with ultra-modern facilities is all set to start under the build, operate and transfer (BOT) scheme.

Talking to the TNS over telephone, Mr Tej Prakash Singh, Punjab Transport Minister, said several private construction companies had already submitted their bids in this regard.

He said these bus terminals would be built according to international standards. The private companies would bear the entire cost and in turn these would be allowed to operate them for a period ranging from eight to 10 years according to the project cost of each. The work on these terminals would be completed within 18 months.

Elaborating further about the plans of the Transport Department to revamp its existing facilities, Mr Tej Prakash Singh revealed that the department had decided to purchase 200 buses. “Besides, the government has given its nod to Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation (PRTC) for the purchase of 100 buses, which would be added to the fleet within two months,” he added.

Meanwhile, sources in the Transport Department maintained that the project would put an additional burden of Rs 4 crore per year on the state exchequer as the Punjab Roadways buses would have to pay entry fee after these terminals would be taken over by the private companies, according to the terms of the proposed agreement. Besides, the Department would lose lakhs of rupees, which it is presently earning by auctioning of shops and cycle stands at these bus terminals.

“The allotment of the project is being delayed due to the failure to arrive on a consensus on the issue pertaining to the payment of entry fee by the state owned buses to these private companies,” the sources maintained, adding that the matter was pending with the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board (PIDB), which had been appointed as nodal agency in this regard. 


Protect Punjab share in BBMB jobs’
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 21
The joint action committee of employees of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) has written to the Punjab Chief Minister to protect the employees’ job share in the board.

Punjab has 55 per cent share in the BBMB. Earlier, the BBMB authorities used to send the monthly vacancy statement to the partner states to fill vacant posts. However, after the BBMB formed its own service regulations in 1994, the organisation has stopped approaching the partner states for employees. Instead, the BBMB has started raising its own quota of employees.

The total sanctioned staff strength in the irrigation Department, as per the annual administration report — 2001-2002 — was 9486. Punjab’s share in these posts was 3,980. However, the actual strength of Punjab employees in the BBMB has decreased to 1,271 over a period of time.

In the power wing, the total sanctioned strength of employees was 6,335 out of which punjab’s share was 2,970. The actual strength of Punjab employees, including those of the PSEB, has reduced to 1900. In the finance and audit departments, the total sanctioned strength of employees was 738, out of which Punjab’s share was 310. This too has declined.

The decreasing share of Punjab employees in the BBMB is putting a financial burden on the state. The state employees working in the board draw their salaries from the BBMB. If the employees from the surplus pool are posted in the BBMB, it will save the expenditure on account of the salaries paid by the state to these employees.


1,250 cr earmarked for rural agro-industries
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, May 21
The Union Minister of State for Rural Agro-Industries (independent charged), Mr Sangh Priya Gautam, told reporters here today that Rs 1,250 crore had been earmarked for the various projects of his ministry in the Tenth Five Year Plan and there had been a major change in priorities. In the previous Plan, this amount was just Rs 250 crore, he said.

Spelling out the changed thrust, the minister said a three-pronged strategy had been devised. Under it, migration of the rural youth to the urban areas would be checked as it put pressure on towns and cities and the civic amenities. To achieve this, self-employment opportunities would be generated so that the rural youth did not remain unemployed. Marketing of rural products would be ensured, the minister added.

As part of the new priorities, domestic production would be increased, imports decreased and outlets modernised and renovated. Propagation of locally-made eco-friendly goods would be done through exhibitions, said Mr Gautam. He asserted that neither government jobs nor big mechanised industries could absorb the unemployed youth. Self employment based on agro-industries like making cardboard’s from paddy and wheat husk, herbal cosmetics and medicines, production of cereal using organic manure, etc would have to be generated, he said. Insurance cover would be provided to the artisans. Twentyfive per cent subsidy was given for the rural agro-industries and it was 30 per cent in the hilly areas with priority given to women, Dalits and the disabled.

He alleged that the policies of liberalisation, privatisation and globalisation pursued by the party of Mrs Sonia Gandhi during the Congress rule of 40 years had generated unemployment.

Mr Gautam, who is in charge of the BJP affairs in Punjab, admitted that the party’s debacle in the Assembly elections in Punjab and Himachal Pradesh was due to infighting. However, we had set our house in order and we will win the coming Lok Sabha elections in the country, he said.

Mr Gautam later addressed a seminar on the philosophy of Dr B.R. Ambedkar at a well attended function held a local resort to celebrate the 112th birth anniversary of Dr Ambedkar. Former Punjab Minister and a senior BJP Dalit leader, Chaudhary Swarna Ram, had organised the function. Punjab BJP general secretary Avinash Jaiswal, district BJP president Hira Lal Dhir, local BJP President Chander Mohan Chawla and other leaders also spoke. The minister also visited Jamalpur village.

UNI adds: Mr Gautam said on Wednesday he had arranged meetings between the two Akali stalwarts — former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and former SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Gautam said unity between the two Akali factions led by Mr Badal and Mr Tohra would be beneficial for the state and its people.

On the BJP’s role in the rapprochement process between the Akali veterans, he quipped, “I arranged their (Badal and Tohra) sittings.”


Selection of Kanungos quashed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
Allowing a bunch of four petitions, Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today quashed the selection of eight direct Kanungo candidates.

Pronouncing the orders against the state of Punjab, the Kanungos and other respondents, Mr Justice Singhvi ordered that the candidates would, however, continue till fresh selections were made.

In one of the petitions, Kaur Chand and 13 other patwaris had earlier sought directions for quashing of an order dated May 6, 1987, vide which the respondents were nominated and appointed as direct Kanungo candidates.

Arguing before the court, counsel for the petitioners had contended that the respondents had been sent for training at Jalandhar in an illegal and arbitrary manner, in contravention of the rules. Going into the background of the case, the petitioners had added that they were appointed as patrons way back in 1978 and had the requisite experience.

Plea dismissed

The high court dismissed an application filed by Punjab’s senior IAS officer, B.R. Bajaj, for staying the proceedings in the lottery scam being probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Taking up the matter, Mr Justice Varinder Singh also fixed July 10 as the next date of hearing in the main case. Seeking the stay on proceedings, Mr Bajaj had contended that he had challenged an order issued by the Special Judge for CBI cases vide which his application was dismissed and charges were framed. Subsequently, the high court had issued notice regarding stay on his petition, but the matter was adjourned to July, 2003.

Arrest stayed

Issuing notice of motion for September 25 on a petition filed by MLA Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, his wife and two sons, for the grant of anticipatory bail in a corruption case, Mr Justice Varinder Singh of the high court stayed their arrest till then.

The MLA and his family were apprehending arrest in a first information report registered by the Amritsar Vigilance Bureau under the Prevention of Corruption Act. According to the prosecution, the MLA had accumulated assets disproportionate to his known sources of income by misusing his official position.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, the petitioner had denied the allegations. Accusing the “present government” of having adopted a revengeful attitude towards its opponents, particularly the leaders of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Dr Ajnala, in another petition, had added that the authorities feared exposure by them.

Referring to the two writ petitions filed by Dr Ajnala regarding the registration of cases against former Congress ministers and revamping of the Vigilance Bureau, counsel had added that the petitioner had been raising his voice against the “malfunctioning” and “partisan attitude” despite the prevailing atmosphere of intimidation and fear.


Kidney scam: two POs surrender
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 21
Dr Bhushan Aggarwal, government doctor and Mr Hardyal Mehta, manager of Kakkar Hospital, who were declared proclaimed offenders in the multi-crore kidney trade, surrendered before the SP (City), Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, here today.

Both Dr Aggarwal and Mr Mehta were also wanted in the case of the disposal of body of a donor, Sudesh Kumar who had died after the removal of his kidney. Though Dr Aggarwal is a serving government doctor but he used to assist Dr Parveen Kumar Sareen, prime accused in the kidney scam in Kakkar Hospital.

The body of Sudesh Kumar was cremated under mysterious circumstances. He was shown as being a resident of Mathura though he belonged to Jalandhar. The kidney of Sudesh Kumar was transplanted to Mulakh Raj of Mathura.

With the surrender of Dr Aggarwal and Mr Mehta, the police is likely to prepare the final charge sheet shortly.


No lesson learnt from mishap
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
It seems that passengers, vendors and authorities have not learnt any lesson from the tragic incident where 38 persons were burnt alive in the Frontier Mail near Ludhiana on May 15.

It is business as usual at one of the largest railway stations as the passengers can be seen smoking and the vendors preparing snacks using LPG cylinders, placed just near their burners while the authorities don’t raise any eyebrows over this. The callous attitude of the people concerned can be judged from the fact that all types of goods, including, kerosene stoves, LPG cylinders, inflammable materials and heavy machinery parts could be seen being transported as luggage.

A visit to the railway station revealed that passengers have been breaking all rules and guidelines prescribed for their own safety, which includes no smoking, no transportation of combustible materials and keeping all the entry and exit points free and easily assessable. Most of the smokers, while talking to The Tribune here, claimed that the rail bogies had provision of ash-trays, which meant that smoking was allowed, but also admitted that sign boards and slogans restraining them from smoking had been put up by the railway authorities.

A large number of beggars, sadhus, migrant labourers can be seen smoking, carrying kerosene stoves etc with them. Sources said only a fraction of these sadhus and beggars bought tickets and even the railway officials did not expect tickets from them. While the beggars got off from the trains to earn their livelihood from the city, the sadhus used this railway junction as a transit and halting point while going to Delhi or Haridwar, the sources said.

A section of railway passengers alleged that the Army jawans had been occupying a lot of space in the bogies and generally travelled with heavy luggage. They said that the last Saturday of every month was also a potentially risky day as thousands of followers of a Sirsa-based sect boarded the passenger train and even occupied toilets of the train.

The railway officials said that they had been educating the commuters about travelling safely in the trains. “Without awareness and cooperation of the passengers no drive in this connection would be possible,” said one of the railway officials.

Mr R.K. Goyal, general secretary, Railway Passengers’ Association, said that a safety audit of the railway stations should be held regularly to enhance passenger safety.


Employee unions go on strike
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
Employees of various departments, including banks, Income Tax Department and Punjab State Electricity Board, today participated in the nationwide strike against the privatisation policy of the government.

Mr Rajinder Singh, zonal secretary, Income Tax Gazetted Services Federation, Bathinda, said employees of the Income Tax Department of Bathinda, Mansa, Faridkot, Ferozepore, Abohar and Muktsar districts observed a strike in their respective places of work.

He said that the proposed move of the government to curtail benefits like dearness allowance, pension etc was uncalled for. He said the implementation of the new economic policy would create problems for the employees of the government departments.

Members of the All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) held a dharna near Union Bank in the city to show solidarity with the all-India strike. Mr Pawan Jindal, convener of the union, said if the government made any attempt to privatise the banks, they would go on an indefinite strike. He said the employees as well as customers would suffer if the government privatised the public sector undertakings and government departments.

The Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives Union also joined the strike. The members also held a scooter rally in city, which passed through the main markets. Mr Jaitender Narula, secretary of the local unit of the union, said the rally was organised to attract the attention of the people towards the adverse impact of the privatisation policy of government.

The BSNL Employees Union and National Federation of Telecom Employees Association also staged a dharna in the city. The district secretary of the union, Mr M. Kalia, alleged that under the move to privatise various departments, the government was reducing the number of employees there, which had increased the workload on other employees.

Members of the Technical Employees Union of PSEB also went on strike.


Women for shifting of liquor shops
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
Women of Kot Shamir village in the district have approached the authorities for getting liquor shops in the village shifted to some other place.

The officiating Sarpanch, women members of the panchayat and the Mata Gujri Self-Help Group in the village have written to the Deputy Commissioner for shifting two liquor shops in the village to at least one km away. They have urged the Deputy Commissioner to ask officials of the Excise Department to order the shifting of the shops.

They said one of the liquor shops was in the vicinity of a place of worship and a primary school and the other was near the bus stop. They said residents of the village, particularly women and children, had to face difficulties due to the presence of these shops in the village.

Members of the Panchayat and self-help group said many times people create trouble after consuming liquor.

Those who have signed the application included Ms Saroj Devi, officiating Sarpanch, Ms Mukhtiar Kaur, Panch, Ms Jaswinder Kaur and Ms Paramjit Kaur, president and treasurer, respectively, of the self-help group and Ms Kulwinder Kaur, president of the Kot Shamir Mahila Jagriti Group.

Meanwhile, Mr Jaspinder Singh ETO, Excise Department, when contacted, said the department had not received any application in that regard. He said if needed action would be take in this regard as per rules and regulations.


Violation of city’s sanctity alleged
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 21
Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Balwant Singh Nandgarh today alleged that the Congress government in the state had violated religious sanctity of Talwandi Sabo town by allowing opening of liquor shops at various places.

Talking to The Tribune on phone yesterday, he said that though Talwandi Sabo had been declared a holy city, three liquor shops had come up at different places near to Takht Damdama Sahib.

Pointing out that action of the Congress government in allowing liquor shops in Talwandi Sabo town had hurt religious sentiments of Sikhs, he said that he would write to Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for the removal of liquor shops.


30 jhuggis gutted in Ludhiana fire
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, May 21
As many as 30 jhuggis were gutted in a fire that broke out in Vishvakarma Colony near the Vishwanath Mandir in Jamalpur late in the evening. No loss of life was reported.

According to sources, seven fire engines were pressed into service and it took one hour for them to control the flames.

The cause of the fire could not be ascertained till the time of filing of the report. 


Truckers not allowed to load wheat
Tribune News Service

Rampura Phul, May 21
Hundreds of truck operators belonging to the Guru Nanak Truck Operator Union today took out a march in the city in protest against the alleged police high-handedness. The police allegedly did not let them load wheat bags from the godowns of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) for transportation to the local railway station.

The agitated operators went from Rampura town to the office of SDM located about 7 km away and raised slogans against the police and the civil administration for “stopping” them from doing their business allegedly under the “diktats” of certain persons close to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

The operators also met Mr Justice J.S. Kher, Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, who was here in connection with the inspection of the local courts. They said those close to Capt Amarinder Singh had imposed their own man as president of the parent truck union without holding an election for the same with the active help of the police and the civil administration.

Mr Ajaib Kuku, member of the Management Committee, Guru Nanak Truck Operator Union, told TNS that after Mr Gurdev Singh, father of a confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh was made president of the parent union — the Truck Operators Union, Rampura Phul — without holding any election for the same, a major section of the truck operators had set up a separate union. But the police personnel had not been allowing the new union to function.

He pointed out that due to denial of right to load the wheat in the 25 trucks belonging to their union, the contractor had suffered huge losses.

No senior police official could be contacted for comments.


Rakesh Singh for Centre, police transfers soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Punjab Government today placed the services of Mr Rakesh Singh, an IAS officer of the 1978 batch, at the disposal of the Union Government for appointment as Joint Secretary, Revenue.

Mr Rakesh Singh, who relinquished charge as the Secretary, Department of Housing and Urban Development, this afternoon, would take up his new assignment on May 28.

Meanwhile, the much-awaited transfers in the Police Department are expected to be ordered shortly. While the process of putting in place new Administrative Secretaries, Deputy Commissioners and SDMs had been mostly completed in a major reshuffle ordered last week, transfers in the Police Department could not be ordered so far.

Last week, Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap accompanied by DGP M.S. Bhullar and Additional Director-General of Police (Law and Order), A.A. Siddiqui toured all four divisional headquaters.

“At a number of stations, we were told about surplus officers. We want to rationalise the posting of senior officers in the districts,” says Mr Kashyap, holding that certain districts need more officers.

Mr Kashyap said the management information system was being introduced to reduce the frequency of trips by district-level officials to the state headquarters. 


Movement along border restricted
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 21
The District Magistrate has banned the movement of villagers along the zero line near the international border between 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

He has also restricted movement along a radius of 100 m of railway lines, rivers, distributaries, drains and rivers between 7 p.m. to 5 a.m.

According to a press note, Home Guards, police, BSF, Army, Army contractors and labourers have been exempted from the orders.

Suresh Kumar is PUDA chief
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 21
Mr Suresh Kumar today took over as Chief Administrator, Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), here today. He succeeds Mr D.P. Reddy who has been shifted as the Excise and Taxation Commissioner. 

Mr Suresh Kumar, an officer of the 1983 batch (Punjab cadre) has earlier worked as DC, Ferozepore, Registrar Cooperative Societies, Excise and Taxation Commissioner besides having a stint with the Government of India.


Drive to remove encroachments soon
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 21
Deputy Commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia said here today that a special drive would be launched soon to remove encroachments on shamlat and government land in the district. He was addressing a press conference after taking over as the Deputy Commissioner. 

He said cleanliness in the rural areas would also be ensured in this drive. He said he would himself review the progress in this regard. He conducted a surprise check in the district administrative complex in the morning and five officers and 18 employees were found absent.


Verification of pensioners
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 21
The district administration has started the reverification of various categories of pensioners, including old age, widows and handicapped, who had lost pension for the past over one year as they were not available during the survey conducted in this connection earlier.

The verification process in this connection in Kotkapura block will continue till May 26 whereas the area in Jaitu subdivision will be covered for four days from May 27.

The officials will knock the door of each beneficiary to finalise their report, said Mr Ram Saroop District Social Welfare and Security Officer here today.


Revenue lok adalat held
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, May 21
If the special campaign for attestation of pending mutations had not been launched in the state, residents would have had to pay between Rs 200 crore and Rs 250 crore in the shape of bribe to officials and employees of the Revenue Department for getting the work done.

This was stated here today by Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Revenue and Rehabilitation Minister, while presiding over a revenue lok adalat. He said the special campaign was launched with the motive of curbing corruption in the department.

He said in order to make the working of the department more transparent, the tehsil and sub-tehsil offices in the state were being computerised.

Mr Bhagat Singh, Finance Commissioner, Punjab, said special campaigns would be launched twice a year to attest mutations and to settle cases pertaining to the division of ancestral property. He said tehsildars and sub-tehsildars had been asked to complete all formalities for the registration of land deeds at the earliest.

Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, said during today’s revenue lok adalat, 826 mutations had been attested. She said 35 cases pertaining to the division of property were also settled today.


12 unauthorised travel agents held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 21
In a major crackdown on unauthorised travel agents, the district police today registered nine criminal cases and arrested 12 such travel agents for duping people on the pretext of sending them abroad.

Mr Varinder Kumar, SSP, in a press note issued here said during the past one decade, scores of unapproved travel agents made a huge sum of money by duping those who were aspiring to go abroad.

The district police launched a campaign against such travel agents and as many as 12 of them were arrested following complaints by people in this regard.

The arrested were identified as Bharat Gupta of the local Urban Estate, Shiv Kumar of Patti Shah Salempur village, Harmesh Kumar and his two sons, Suresh Kumar and Mahesh Kumar, of Jalandhar cantonment, Karamjit Singh of Khurla Kingra village, Pushpa of Malri village, Nirmal of Bara Pind village, Puran of Tut Kalan village, Malkiat Singh and his wife, Balwinder, of Sindhran village and Saroj of the local Ekta Nagar.

Meanwhile, the district police has arrested two drug peddlers and seized 1,095 kg of poppy husk from them. According to the police, following a tip-off, the Bhogpur police intensified patrolling from Panchranga village to Bullowal village and intercepted a truck for routine checking.

Two persons escaped after jumping from the moving truck, which was later found to be loaded with 30 sacks of poppy husk. The police seized 1,095 kg of poppy husk. The driver of the vehicle along with his accomplice was arrested. They were later identified as Jatinder Singh and Rohit Nagpal of Malviya Nagar in Jaipur.

Those who fled were identified as Satnam Singh of Dalla village in Bhogpur and Malwinder Singh of Muchhal village in Amritsar. A case under various sections of the NDPS Act has been registered even as raids were being conducted to arrest the remaining accused.


NRI booked for bigamy
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 21
An NRI, Balkar Singh and Jinder Kaur, residents of Chohla Sahib, along with three others, have been booked for bigamy by the Sarhali police under Sections 498-A, 494 and 120-B, IPC.

Police sources said here yesterday that the case had been registered on a complaint by Ms Davinder Kaur, a resident of Khabbe Dogran village who alleged that Balkar Singh, an NRI from Canada, who had married her on July 17, 2000, kept harassing her for more dowry.

Davinder Kaur is 23 while the accused is 50. He married the fourth time on May 4, according to the complainant.

Chinto, Mohan Singh and Piar Kaur, too, have been booked. No arrest has been made.

Girl gang-raped

Phillaur, May 21
A 17-year-old Gujjar girl, a resident of Doda district in Jammu and Kashmir and now residing at Dera Joga Singh on the Bhardwajian road, near Zandiala Manjki, in Phillaur subdivision, was raped by six youths in the presence of her father, who was tied in the fields near the dera late last night.

According to reports, the youths — Karim Baksh, Ismail, Meer Mohammad, Hashim, Lal Husssain and Noof — tied the father of the girl with a rope and raped her. OC


1 killed in road accident
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 21
One person was killed and another injured in an accident near Ladhuka village, 14 km from here, on the Fazilka-Ferozepore road.

According to information, Santa Singh (45) and his nephew Gurmail Singh (25), residents of Behak Khas village, were going on their scooter when it collided with a truck coming from the opposite direction.

Santa Singh died on the spot. Gurmail Singh has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital. The driver abandoned the truck and fled.


Armed with B.Ed, they wait for jobs
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
Even as no decision has been taken by the state government on contractual appointments of teachers in government schools, the unemployed holding a B.Ed degree have demanded that if regular recruitment was not possible, the same be made on the pattern adopted by the Kerala and the Himachal Pradesh governments.

The unemployed, who have been struggling hard to secure jobs and have also protested by going on an indefinite fast, have pinned their hopes on the Cabinet meeting scheduled for tomorrow. Sources said while the state government had reportedly finalised that teachers would be recruited on a contract basis. No decision had been taken regarding the number of teachers to be recruited.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a large number of B.Ed degree-holders have been working in various private schools for sums ranging between Rs 1,200 and 2,500 per month. The payments given by schools affiliated to the ICSE and the CBSE are slightly higher as the experience certificates issued by these schools are not given any weightage during interviews for government jobs.

A section of B.Ed degree-holders said the Punjab Education Minister had assured them during their indefinite fast that the vacancies of teachers would be filled shortly, but no process had been initiated so far. Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, president, Berozgar Adhyapak Front, Punjab, said more than 70,000 B.Ed graduates were looking for jobs. He said the process of recruitment of teachers needed to be overhauled.

He said the Kerala pattern should be adopted under which one mark was given each year to students who do not get jobs after passing B.Ed. He said this would ensure that no bungling was done in experience certificates and also that students of earlier batches were not at a disadvantage due to a low percentage of marks. “With every new batch, those securing higher marks are added to the unemployed list, and when a few vacancies are advertised, these are netted by them and mediocre students of earlier batches are left out and become overaged after a few years. With marks for ‘seniority’, this situation could be tackled”, he claimed.

He said the Himachal system of recruitment could also be tried under which teachers were recruited in the order of batches and students of earlier batches were given preference over the new passouts. He said those who had done B.Ed from outside Punjab should not be considered for government jobs in the state.

A cross section of teachers working with private schools said if they were assured of a regular job after probation or contractual period, they would opt for it. They were of the view that the Chandigarh pattern of paying contract teachers, who got only the basic salary of the cadre and no HRA, medical or dearness allowances should be adopted. The teachers appointed on contract should be free to do business or anything else to add to their income, said an ad hoc lecturer working at a local private college.


CET aspirants await admit cards
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 21
A large number of students, who would be appearing in the Common Entrance Test (CET) to be conducted by Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, on May 23, have not received the admit cards and the examination centres have been asked to allow them to appear in the test without admit cards.

Sources said the superintendents of the examination centres had been asked that such students would have to establish their identity by depositing an attested photograph and would be allowed to take the exam without the admit cards. The sources said the PTU had sent the roll numbers of students on Friday and Saturday, while some were even sent on Monday by speed post. Even the examination centres had not received the lists having the names of the students who would be appearing at the respective centres, they added.

Students and their parents have been making rounds of various centres hoping to find their wards’ names in the lists. The sources said rural students were the worst affected as the villages had no facility to receive the speed post.

The PTU has asked students to log on to their website ( to get the roll numbers by typing the brochure/application No. But only a few students were able to get their application numbers.

Some students alleged that the helpline numbers listed in the prospectus and the PTU website were not responding and all efforts to call the authorities concerned had proved futile. Some of the students apprehended that the entrance test might be postponed or cancelled as a large number of students were not sure about the centres.

“Without an admit card where would my daughter report for her test”, asked a worried mother of a local girl, who had not got any detail from the local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology, the Principal of which is the city coordinator for the CET.

A senior professor of the college said it would be difficult for the superintendents to allow the students to appear in the entrance test sans admit cards as the number of question papers and answersheets available were limited and no restriction could be imposed on the number of students appearing at a centre. This may lead to a shortage of question booklets at some centres, he said.

The sources said nearly 20,000 students were expected to compete for about 5,000 seats at various engineering colleges in the state. They said the centres established at Allahabad, Bangalore, Bhopal, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai had been cancelled as the number of students who had opted for these was less. Those who had opted for these centres would now appear at DAV Senior Secondary School, Chitra Gupta Road, New Delhi.

No senior official of the PTU, including Mr S.K. Bhatia, Registrar and Mr Sadhu Singh, Chief Coordinator-cum-Director, Colleges, could be contacted despite repeated efforts.

Interestingly, a roll number, downloaded from the PTU website after entering an imaginary application form gave the name of the student, father’s name, centre allotted and also asked him to contact the CET cell in case of any problem.


Nod to fill vacant posts of Principal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 21
The Punjab Finance Department has given clearance to fill vacant posts of 600 Principal through promotion in government schools. Sources said today that a meeting of the Departmental Promotion Committee would be held on May 23 to start the process of promotions. After this 292 vacant posts of Headmaster will be filled through promotion, it is learnt.

Meanwhile, the government has decided to raise the minimum qualification for admission to Elementary Teacher Training Centres from plus two to graduation. The next test for admission to such institutions will be held after raising the qualification, it is learnt. No admission has taken place in these institutions for the past one and a half year.

The government has also decided to come out with a new policy to fill vacant posts in remote areas where a large number of schools remained locked for want of teachers.


Stipend for girl students
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 21
The Punjab government has formulated a comprehensive plan to promote education, particularly among students of weaker sections of society, and to check their drop-out rate at all government and recognised schools during the current financial year in the state. Under the plan Rs 50 will be given as monthly stipend to each girl studying in classes I to V. Similarly, books will be provided free of cost to boys and girls of all primary and higher classes. An amount of Rs 27.10 crore had been earmarked in this connection. Directions have been given to all District Education Officers, primary and secondary, to identify the needy students, Mr Jetha Ram, District Social Welfare Officer, Faridkot, said here yesterday.

He further disclosed that the government has earmarked an additional Rs 25 lakh for the construction of hostel buildings for those colleges where such a facility was not available. A decision has been taken to give scholarship to meritorious sportspersons.


YPS students shine in ICSE exam
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 21
Students of Yadavindra Public School here have excelled in the ICSE and ISC examinations held in March this year. The results have been outstanding as in the ICSE, out of 125 students, 84 secured the first division.

There are 22 distinctions in all, out of which three students have secured above 90 per cent and 19 from 80 to 89 per cent. Manreet Sekhon has topped in the ICSE ICE securing 94.2 per cent followed by Gaganpreet Taneja with 90 per cent and Divya Jain with 91 per cent.

In ISC, 78 student appeared, out of whom 67 secured the first position. In the science stream, both Harkirat Gill and Harvinder Virk have shared the first disision with 89.5 per cent. In commerce, Kirat Rawel has secured the first position with 95.75 per cent and in arts, Puneet K. Hundal has topped securing 92 per cent.

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