Sunday, May 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No hurry to arrest Badal: Congress
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, May 24
Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, talking to newspersons at Kotli Surat Malhi, 35 km from here, said yesterday that an economic package for the border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore to give concessions to industrialists on a par with their counterparts in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir would be implemented if the Congress was voted to power at the Centre.

The package includes concession on power, sales tax and holiday for 10 years on income tax and central sales tax.

Mr Hanspal said Capt Amarinder Singh had contacted an NRI in New York who was prepared to invest Rs 5000 crore on the development of the state. However, the NRI insisted on a guarantee from the Centre, which refused to oblige the Chief Minister. The offer had to be abandoned, much against the interests of the state.

Mr Hanspal termed the proposed Akali unity as marriage of convenience.

Mr Hanspal said the government was in no haste to arrest Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, on charges of corruption. He added that as soon as foolproof evidence against Mr Badal was found, he would be arrested.

Asked why the government did not take any action against four Punjab Congress ministers indicted by the Lokpal, he said later they were exonerated by the Lokpal.

Earlier, addressing Congress workers as part of the party’s mass contact programme, Mr Hanspal said the popularity graph of the party was moving upwards. The victory of the Congress in the Malout Assembly byelection and the municipal poll was a pointer in this direction.

Mr Santokh Singh Randhawa, a former President of the PPCC, Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, a former Union Minister of State, Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MLA of the area, and Mr Gurbachan Singh, President of the DCC, were present on the occasion.

Mr Hanspal criticised the Centre on its foreign policies.

He said the Congress government had been successful in improving the financial condition of the state.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa said Mr Hanspal should use his offices to rid the government of corrupt officials. He demanded allotment of 5-marla plots to the homeless free of cost and revival of the Shagun scheme.


Poor results: villagers up in arms
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

More and more villagers are now questioning the poor results of their wards, inadequate school infrastructure and improper conduct of teachers.

The panchayats of three villages — Bardwal, Ruldusinghwala and Dhandra — have sought answers to poor show by government school staff. In Bardwal (Sangrur), the parents of failed Class VIII students staged a protest outside Government High School there last week. Only 39 of the 63 students could pass the examinations. The parents sought action against the teachers concerned for not imparting proper education.

The case of Government Senior Secondary School, Singh Bhagwantpura (Ropar), is too glaring to be ignored. Established in 1885-86 as a primary school and upgraded in 1918-19, it has at least six panchayats of the adjoining villages up in arms against the school administration. The panchayats are upset over the fleecing of students by the school staff on one pretext or the other. They are demanding immediate transfer of the “guilty”. Even though an inquiry ordered by the District Education Officer (DEO) into the alleged irregularities is pending, the villagers have also sought a high-level vigilance inquiry.

The school has been charging an exorbitant computer education fee of Rs 400 “unauthorisedly” for the past one year. Computer education has been made compulsory from Class VI onwards though the students are rarely allowed to touch hardware. Most parents suspect that the money collected as the computer fee is being pocketed by school employees, including the Principal, in the form of rent and repair charges.

The villagers are also questioning the rationale behind collecting development, cycle, electricity and stationery funds from the students. Harpal Kaur, whose four children are studying in the Bhagwantpura school, said: “The school believes in giving no concessions to the poor. No receipts are issued nor is there any accountability.” Another parent said: “Money is often wasted on organising recreational functions though the school is short of rooms, furniture and does not have a proper library.” Anomalies in the collection of fee and other funds have also come to light. Certain villagers complained about the rude behaviour of the Principal, who was not easily accessible.

It is a Herculean task to get a character certificate from the school. An unofficial fee of Rs 50 is charged for getting a form or a certificate attested. Mahender Singh, who donated one bigha of land for the school, complained that the Principal sought Rs 50 for issuing a character certificate to his son, who wanted to join the Army. Admitting that a character certificate was not issued to Mr Mahender Singh’s son, Principal Jeet Singh said the student had misbehaved with a woman teacher.

The villagers allege that the Principal often absents himself from duty and does more “official work” in Mohali. The modus operandi is to mark attendance on all days. It was stated that as per norms, the Principal is required to take one period of English daily for Class X. But the norms are being violated.

The Principal, however, denied most allegations. He said most non-government funds were being charged under the aegis of the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA). He claimed that his predecessor had fixed these charges in consultation with the PTA. Concessions were given in genuine cases. The computer fee of Rs 400 was charged once last year as per the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT) norms. However, the same had been reduced to Rs 240 this year and was being charged only from those who opt for the subject. The cycle fund was charged for a while to have a cycle stand in school. This fee was now being charged from only those who were coming to the school on cycles.

The Principal pointed out that computers could not be used regularly by students due to frequent power cuts but the school had now asked the PTA to arrange a generator to overcome this problem.

He admitted that he was unable to take regular classes due to the excess workload. But the Principal had little defence as far as the poor results were concerned. Of the 11 students in the science stream, only three have passed the 10+2 examinations. In the commerce stream, six of the eight have passed. Most of the students have failed in mathematics. It is pertinent to mention here that during the past two years, there were only three students who opted for the science stream of which one passed each year.

Teachers of the school attribute the poor results to faulty policies of the government, which has been running the plus two classes in colleges as well. The medium of instruction for science students suddenly changes to English after matriculation. The teachers are often sent out on official duties not related to education. At a time four or five teachers are on “official duty” outside the school. The condition of the science laboratory is far from satisfactory and there is only one room for all three practical subjects at the plus-two level.


Giani Iqbal Singh’s decision ‘meaningless’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, May 24
Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Takht Patna Sahib Management Committee, SGPC member and a senior lawyer of Faridkot has called the decision of Giani Iqbal Singh to Takht Patna Sahib declaring him (Mr Romana) a tankhaiya in Patna on May 20 as meaningless and not within the Sikh maryada.

He said Giani Iqbal Singh was just an employee of the Takht and had no powers to take such decisions. He alleged that Giani Iqbal Singh had taken the step only at the behest of certain vested interests who wanted to lower the sanctity of Akal Takht, besides achieving political gains.

Talking to the reporter on telephone from Surry in British Columbia (Canada), Mr Romana, who was relieved yesterday from a heart hospital at Langli Town, made it clear that he had never used derogatory remarks against any gurdwara or jathedar that may damage the Sikh maryada.

He said he had not violated any Sikh traditions in the release of Nanakshahi calendar at Chicago on April 27 in the presence Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, who had earlier released the same in Amritsar.

He further stated that he had not received the facts on the issue and would clarify his position after reaching India shortly.

Meanwhile, it is reliably learnt that Mr Rajinder Singh Romana, advocate son of Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, left for Amritsar today after getting a call from Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti to discuss the issue.


SAD, CPI criticise hike in power tariff
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the CPI and the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) have criticised the hike in power tariff in Punjab. These parties have stated that the hike should not be effected as it will put a heavy burden on the people.

In a statement the SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal said that the unprecedented hike in power tariff announced by the Punjab Government would hit the domestic and industrial consumers alike. He also criticised the raise in the road tax in the state. “This government is on an indiscriminate taxation spree. Despite that there is no development visible in the state.”

Mr Badal described the hike in power tariff as unwarranted. He wondered why the PSEB, which was giving free power to farmers during the SAD-BJP regime, should run into financial difficulties even after the present government had withdrawn that facility.

“The government netted more than Rs 400 crore merely by stopping the free power to farmers and then hiked the tariff to earn another Rs 200 crore. Now the announced hike is totally uncalled for,” he said.

Mr Badal described as “laughable” Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh’s claim that the hike had to be ordered in view of the recommendations of the PSERC. “This is an excuse that will befool no one except those in the government. We had received similar recommendations during our tenure. In fact the regulatory commission had gone to the extent of recommending discontinuation of the free power facility to the farmers. But we refused to do so and decided to subsidise the PSEB for the additional burden. Why can the present government not to do that?” he asked.

Mr Badal also criticised the hike in the road tax for transporters, saying that the burden would finally be borne by the common man. “What service is the government providing to justify even a token hike.”

Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, general secretary of the SHSAD, said that the tariff hike had put a heavy burden on the domestic and industrial power consumers. Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the CPI, said the Punjab Government was putting financial burden by levying various taxes. He said that if the government did not withdraw the hike in power tariff, tuition fees and other charges, the CPI would resort to an agitation.


Power tariff hike rollback sought
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, May 24
Mr Charan Singh Lohara and Mr Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singhwala, general secretaries, SAD (A) today flayed the power tariff hike in domestic consumption and demanded its rollback.

Instead of burdening the public the government should have plugged power theft by big industrial houses and others, they argued. Though the agriculture sector has been spared the farmers would have to bear the brunt of the rise in domestic rates of power, they said.

They further said they were studying the proposal of moving a public interest litigation (PIL) against the PSEB for low voltage supply. Besides, the power supply in villages was erratic, they added.

Meanwhile, in separate statements former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader Chaudhary Swarna Ram and National Advisory Committee member of SAD Jarmail Singh Wahid condemned the hike in power tariff.

Mr Jatinderpal Singh Palahi, Circle General Secretary of SAD and Mr Gurjit Singh Khalsa, senior Youth Akali leader, also flayed the hike.

FAZILKA: Mr Ravinder Singh Luthra and Mr Harbhajan Singh Khunger, president and general secretary, respectively, Punjab Subordinate Services Federation, Ferozepore district, and Mr Shashi Kant, senior vice-president, All Employees Coordination Committee, Fazilka, have in a joint statement here on Saturday criticised the Punjab Government decision to hike domestic power tariff.

They added that the power hike would encourage power theft, resulting in revenue loss to the PSEB. They maintained that implementation of the increased tariff from May was unjust and uncalled for. They urged the government to withdraw the hike.


ASI booked in ‘wife’ molestation case

Abohar, May 24
Mrs Simarpal Kaur, who claims to be the second wife of an ASI of the Punjab Police, alleged that she was kidnapped and molested at the behest of her “husband”.

According to an FIR registered at Sri Ganganagar, 40 km from here last night Mrs Simarpal Kaur of Jalalabad West in the district, said her marriage with the ASI was registered at a Sri Ganganagar court on June 23, 2000. The couple has a three-month old girl child.

As her in-laws had been intimidating her parents on the pretext of dowry, a complaint had been lodged against the ASI and his relatives a few months ago. She said later she learnt that the ASI had married the complainant without completing the divorce process with his first wife. The ASI reportedly had two children from his first wife.

As their relations strained, fearing physical assault, Mrs Simarpal Kaur started living with her brother at Jalalabad West. Yesterday she had gone to Sri Ganganagar to collect the attested copies of her marriage certificate with the ASI. As she got down from the bus near the Birbal chowk Gaganjeet, a friend of her husband, offered her a lift in his car. She was taken to a deserted place and locked in a room at Kalian village. Gaganjeet allegedly tried to molest her and tore her clothes while her husband took some photographs to prove that she was characterless. She was allegedly beaten up and taken to Fazilka and then dropped at Sri Ganganagar. She later lodged an FIR under various sections of the IPC.

A senior police officer said today that during interrogation Mrs Simarpal Kaur could not tell the location of the kutcha house where she had allegedly been molested. 


SAD (A) meets Vedanti tomorrow

Phagwara, May 24
A high-level delegation of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) led by its president Simranjit Singh Mann, will meet Akal Takht Jathedar Joginder Singh Vedanti at Amritsar on May 26 to present its case in connection with the proposed unity move between two Akali factions headed by Mr P.S. Badal and Mr G.S. Tohra.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Mann said the delegation would include the party’s vice-presidents, general secretaries, executive members and district presidents.

He asserted that the unity of “just two individuals” being done allegedly at the behest of the BJP, could not be called “Panthic ekta”. PTI


Ropar wetland to have ornithological track
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 24
The international Ropar wetland area has got special ornithological track to help bird watchers and tourists coming here to watch and study migratory birds. The track named after noted ornithologist, Dr Salim Ali was inaugurated yesterday by Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain.

Speaking on the occasion the Deputy Commissioner said that first phase of Dr Salim Ali Ornithological Track of Ropar wetland had been set up at a cost of Rs 50000. A proposal has been sent to the Department of Science & Technology, Punjab, for the development of the track. It has been proposed that the track will have special lighting system to help ornithologists watch birds in at night also. Plantation has also been proposed on the sides of the track. She appealed to villagers of the area to help maintaining ecology near the wetland.

The Deputy Commissioner also announced grant of Rs 50000 for the students of the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Ropar, for looking after the development of the track.

Mr Jaspreet Singh an ornithologist here who has been guiding students who have been looking after the project told newsmen that every year on November 12 — birthday of Dr Salim Ali — a bird mela would be organised at the Ropar wetland area. In the mela school children from all over the state would be encouraged for bird watching and protection.

He added that various species of birds found in Bharatgarh forests of the district were threatened from poaching and reducing forest area. He urged the district administration to take step for the preservation of the bird species in the Bharatgarh forest.

The SDM Ropar, Mr Daljit Singh, and principal of the Government Senior Secondary School for Boys, Ropar, PC Gupta were also present on the occasion.


Development authority sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 24
In view of the “parkash utsav” of Guru Granth Sahib next year, the Amritsar Vikas Manch has urged the state government to form a development authority for the holy city on the lines of the Patiala Development Authority. The manch also demanded that development projects be started in Amritsar.

At a press conference here today, Mr Charanjit Singh Gumtala, president of the manch, along with other members lamented that in 1985 former Chief Minister Surjit Singh Barnala had announced that such a development authority would be formed, but nothing concrete has taken place so far.

Alleging discrimination, Mr Gumtala said Capt Amarinder Singh had formed the Patiala Development Authority but had forgotten the holy city. He urged the Chief Minister to form a similar authority for development of Amritsar. The manch president further sought the formation of a highlevel committee in collaboration with the SGPC and other Sikh organisations for spreading the teachings and messages of Guru Granth Sahib.

He said on one side the state government was talking about encouraging the tourist industry in the state and on the other hand Amritsar had been deprived of the basic infrastructure. He said the state government was contemplating spending Rs 1,500 crore through PIDB for improving the basic infrastructure, but was not releasing Rs 52 crore for the galiara scheme. He alleged that although the Centre had started the galiara project in 1988, it was giving funds for bringing Kurukshetra on the international tourist map.


Favouritism charge against Xen
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 24
On one hand, the district administration is making all efforts to give a facelift to nearly 130 km of road at a cost of Rs19.45 crore under the Prime Minister’s Rural Roads Development Scheme in the district, while on the other hand, certain contractors of the PWD are alleging that the PWD Executive Engineer has allotted the contract for the construction of these roads to his favourites, wards of employees working in the PWD and those having political influence.

The contractors alleged that the tender forms had not been allotted to them. They were told that the tenders have been postponed due to a lack of department formalities, whereas the tender forms of the favourites were called in a secret manner. They demanded that the tenders for the Sirhind and Amloh Market Committees should be called openly, so that, revenue worth lakhs of rupees could be saved.

The contractors in a letter to the Chief Minister and other officials, have alleged that the tenders for the construction of roads falling under the Sirhind and Amloh Market Committees, for Rs 2.5 crore were called for May 14. On that day, the Executive Engineer told the contractors that, due to the non-approval of the NIT and estimates the tenders had been postponed for May 22. On that day, he again told them that approval had still not come, so, the next date would be conveyed to them. The contractors further allege that to their surprise they came to know that he had accepted tender forms from three of his favourites and one of them is a son of a union leader of the PWD employees working in the same office. When they contacted the Executive Engineer, he refused to meet them. They say that, if the tenders are called openly as per procedure, the contractors are ready to do the work on the rates upto 15 per cent less than prescribed, whereas now the official has accepted the forms on the prescribed rates. They said, if the tenders were called again openly, revenue worth lakhs of rupees could be saved. They have demanded a high-level probe into the working of the local PWD. They said that the spirit of anti-corruption drive of the Chief Minister was being violated in this office and they also demanded a vigilance probe.

When contacted, the Executive Engineer PWD said he had called the tenders as per norms and no contractor had been denied tender forms. He said, if any contractor had been left out, he could submit the tender again on May 29. He said no work had been allotted. Rather, the tenders would be sent to higher officials.


Verma favours quota for upper castes too
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 24
Senior BJP leader and Union Labour Minister Sahib Singh Verma has also advocated reservations of jobs for the upper castes also. Mr Verma was in the city late last night while travelling to Delhi after addressing rallies in connection with the Parivartan Yatra being undertaken by the BJP’s state unit, said that time had come when quota in government jobs should be reserved for the upper castes.

Congress government of Rajasthan led by Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot recently took a decision to give 14 per cent reservation in government jobs to the economically poor among the upper castes.

The state government has also written to the Centre to make a constitution amendment for giving the reservation.

“Personally I am in favour of quota in government jobs for those belonging to upper castes. This reservation should be on the basis of economic factors only. In other types of reservation both economic and social factors should be the criteria,” said Mr Verma.


Assault case: HC directive to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 24
Acting on a petition filed by a Jalalabad resident, Ms Rita, seeking the registration of an assault case against six “influential persons”, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state of Punjab, the Director-General of Police and another respondent to look into a complaint filed by her in the matter.

Pronouncing the orders, Mr Justice Gupta also directed them to take appropriate action in accordance with the law promptly “as far as possible within two months”. In her petition, Ms Rita had earlier alleged that her son was thrashed by a respondent in April while he was on his way home from market.

She had said the accused nursed a grudge against the petitioner’s family as her husband had filed a criminal complaint against them in a Judicial Magistrate’s court.

Blaming the accused for putting political pressure on a doctor, the petitioner had claimed that the physician was asked neither to examine her son, nor to admit him in the hospital. She had added that later during the night the respondents caught hold of her hair before beating her up. She was also threatened not to inform the police, her counsel had added. Giving details, the counsel had asserted that the incident took place at the instance of two respondents Harish Setia and Ashok Aneja.


Production warrant issued
Our Correspondent

Kharar, May 24
Mrs Preeti Sahni, Sub-Divisional Judicial Magistrate here today issued production warrant of Dr Gurcharan Singh Chahal, Director, Animal Husbandry, Punjab, who is lodged in Central Jail, Patiala, in connection with FIR number 6, dated March 29 for May 27.

The Punjab Vigilance Bureau through its DSP, Mr Harbhajan Sarup, moved an application in the court today requesting the court to issue production warrant of the accused in the case of FIR No. 7, dated March 31, registered at SAS Nagar under Sections 420, 408 and 120-B, IPC, and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The court issued production warrants of the accused after recording the statement of the DSP of the Vigilance Bureau.



Harpreet murder case: hearing put off to July 25

Patiala, May 24
Hearing in the murder case of Harpreet Kaur, daughter of former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) President Bibi Jagir Kaur, MLA, was adjourned today for July 25 by court here.

A case was registered against Bibi Jagir Kaur and her associates Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, Sanjiv Kumar, Satya, Paramjit Raipur, Harwinder Singh and Nishan Singh by the CBI under Section of the IPC 120b, 313, 344, 365, 302 & 201 for conspiring to kill Harpreet Kaur.

Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi was exempted for today’s hearing as she was not well, as stated by her counsel yesterday.

All other accused were present today whereas Nishan Singh has been in Judicial Custody. UNI

Pherurai refused bail

Patiala, May 24
A court here today rejected the regular bail application of former Ferozepur Senior Superintendent of Police Gurcharan Singh Pherurai in a case in which he is accused of having bribed former Punjab Public Service chief Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu to get his son selected as Deputy Superintendent of Police. 

The bail was rejected in an FIR registered under serial number 68 at the Patiala Vigilance Bureau Police station. TNS


Judicial remand for 3 financiers
Our correspondent

Abohar, May 24
All the three financiers, including a son of a police officer, arrested for “kidnapping” and beating up two persons were remanded in judicial custody by a local court yesterday.

According to the information available, the police had registered two cases under Sections 365, 342, 379 and 34, IPC, against Maneesh Nagpal, Akashdeep Arora and Sonu Chugh on the basis of the statements made by Mr Akashdeep Meghwal, a resident of Dhani Sucha Singh and Mr Inderjit Singh of Anand Nagri here on May 18. The victims admitted to the Nehru Memorial civil Hospital here had alleged that they had been kidnapped from Dhani Sucha Singh and the truck union complex by the financiers. They were allegedly taken to the Jain Dharamshala office of the finance company and tortured there.

The complainants said their brothers had taken loans of Rs 5,000 each from the finance company and had refunded more than 7,000 each but the company was still demanding more money. As their brothers were not available here, partners of the finance company allegedly used cars to “kidnap” the complainants from two different places and “detained” them in the office of the company before torturing and inflicting injuries on them. In separate complaints made to senior civil and police officers, it had been alleged that two ASIs of the Punjab police were virtually running the finance companies through members of their families. This was the reason that the police was now “conspiring” to drop Section 365 from the FIR.

Sources said scores of finance companies were operating in Abohar and Fazilka subdivisions in violation of the restrictions imposed by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) and subsequent guidelines issued by the Union Finance Ministry and the Commission for Monopolies and Restrictive Trade Practices (MRTPC). The District Magistrate had issued separate orders from time to time prohibiting lotteries, sale promotion schemes, financing bonanzas, etc. but unfair trade practices had remained unchecked.

It is learnt that there had been a mushroom growth of finance companies in the region during the past five years as the financial crisis in the rich cotton belt had deepened. At least six cases of debtors committing suicide following harassment by finance companies had been reported during the past one year in the region. Such finance companies had reportedly been charging interest up to 36 per cent whereas the banking institutions had cut down the interest rate considerably.

According to the police records, partners of two major finance companies had been booked in cases of selling luxury cars stolen from Maharashtra and the adjoining states. The cars had been shown stolen in the police files in Mumbai. Insurance was claimed by producing certificates from the Maharashtra police that the stolen vehicles were untraceable. After that the same vehicles had been sold at Abohar and other towns by preparing fake documents. The town had gained notoriety for facilitating the acquisition of fake driving licences and automobile registration books in connivance with government employees posted in Fatehgarh Sahib district. The illegal trade was allegedly patronised by finance companies in which political activists and police officers, too, had interests. There have been a number of such incidents earlier also when the debtors and their relatives have been tortured, but only few of them could approach the police.

In fresh complaints, the affected persons have demanded that the records of the finance companies involved in the controversy should be seized and action under the RBI rules should be taken against the offenders.

Medical camp at Sohana
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 24
A free mega check-up camp will be organised by Sri Guru Harkrishan Sahib Charitable Eye Hospital, Sohana tomorrow.

During this camp free consultation will be provided by expert doctors in the field of obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics, skin and STD and dental from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

All arrangements have been made by the trust management for the smooth functioning of the camp at their new building (General Wing). The other attractions during the camp will be free ultrasound, lab test, x-ray, dental sealing etc. The doctors will also hold patient education programme to bring awareness regarding diseases among women in gynaecology.


Bank job aspirants await results
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 24
The candidates, who have appeared for interviews for various posts in Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Bank Limited during 1997, are still awaiting the results.

In their complaints to the Governor and the Chief Minister of Punjab, they said the bank had advertised in various newspapers regarding filling of posts of manager, assistant manager, clerk, driver and peon. The written test for some of the posts was held in August 1998 and for the posts of clerk, a type writing test and interview was held in December 1998. The tests and interviews were conducted at various places in Chandigarh. The candidates complained that they had gone to Chandigarh from far off places twice, but till date their results had not been declared.

They demanded that their results should be declared immediately.


Truckers to burn CM’s effigy
Our Correspondent

Rampura Phul, May 24
Members of the local Guru Nanak Truck Operators Union today said that they would burn the effigy of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, if he did not check the activities of one of his close associates, who was allegedly helping another union of truckers in creating hurdles in the functioning of the former (Guru Nanak) union.

They said the effigy of his media adviser would also be burnt. They said that the members of the other union, under the patronage of some persons close to Capt Amarinder Singh, were creating problems for them in running the affairs of the union.

They said that they had formed a separate union when differences emerged between them and the members of other union over the process of election of the president of the union.

They had boycotted the election process as they alleged that some politicians close to the Punjab Chief Minister used unfair means to make a person of their choice president of the union.


Drive to check power theft

Nabha, May 24
To check power theft officials of the PSEB raided the town and found 150 domestic/commercial consumers stealing power. The accused were fined Rs 6.93 lakh.

Mr B.K. Jain, an official of the PSEB, said in all 15 teams, under Director, Enforcement Wing and SE, Operations, Patiala, were involved in the special drive today against power theft. Out of 190 houses raided, seven were found stealing power and 143 for not disclosing loads. Rupees 27919 were recovered from the accused on the spot. OC


Duststorm hits parts of dist
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 24
Duststorm and rain hit some parts of the district last evening and today, creating difficulties for the residents and growers of grapes.

Grapes in two acres of orchard were damaged at Burj Mansa village last night by duststorm. Mr Jagga Singh, owner of the orchard, said that the grape growers had to bear loss due to duststorm. He had given the orchard on contract. He added the grape fruit was damaged at other villages also. However data on the damage could not be known immediately.

The duststorm hit other parts of the district last night and this morning. Rain was also noticed in the Rampura Phul area today.

Although city residents had some relief from heat last evening, but the dusty wind today threw life out of gear for few hours. The drivers of two wheelers found it difficult to drive. For some hours the traffic was reduced as people preferred to remain indoors due to dusty wind.


A choe that brings woes
Our Correspondent

Nabha, May 24
Residents of the local Kartar Colony, Asha Colony, Baldev Colony, Laxman Colony and Guru Teg Bahadur Nagar, in a complaint to the Punjab Pollution Board, the Chief Minister and the Punjab Human Rights Commission, have alleged that the local Municipal Council has done nothing to mitigate their woes arising due to choe passing through these colonies.

They complain that it remains filled with silt and the accumulation of sewage has formed a marshland at certain places in these colonies.

They say in February this year, the local Municipal Council started dumping sewage from Hira Mahal Colony, Allhoran Gate, Bazigar Basti, Jeevan Colony and Deshmesh Colony into the ‘choe’. This has created hell for them.

Mr Kala Singh, a resident of Kartar Colony, says the stagnant water is at about 3-ft deep and lack of treatment has created a stench in the vicinity. The water acts as a breeding ground for mosquitos.

A senior citizen, Mr Kapur Singh says water from the ‘choe’ has started contaminating hand pumps. This can pose serious health problems for the residents.

The Executive Officer of the municipal council, when contacted, said immediate action would be taken on the matter. 


MP hails peace initiative
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, May 24
Mr Zora Singh Mann, Member of Parliament from Ferozepore said that bilateral talks between India and Pakistan was the only way to resolve differences and reach a solution to problems between the two hostile neighbours. Expressing gratitude to Prime Minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee for his peace initiative and extending a hand of friendship to Pakistan, Mr Mann in, a letter addressed to the PM, appealed that the opening of the Hussainiwala border for trade might be included in the agenda for normalisation of relations between the two countries.

Mr Mann said that it is only the people of the border area that bore the brunt of wars of 1965 and 1971. He said that Ferozepore faced much agony and destruction in the past wars. Mr Mann said that the release of Sikh boys by the Pakistani government was another welcome step towards the normalisation of relations between the two hostile nations.

He appealed to the Pakistani government to release the Indian POW’s from various jails of Pakistan since 1971.


Sikhs’ identity diluted, says NMC chief
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 24
National Minority Commission (MNC) Chairman Tarlochan Singh today said the identity of Sikhs had been diluted due to open acceptance of “patit Sikhs” by the community.

Speaking at a function held at the Academy of Sikh Religion and Culture where he delivered the Dr Ganda Singh Memorial Lecture, the commission Chairman said Sikhs were doing away with their identity by getting hair cut and the community was not even evolving a stately as to what was to be done on the issue. He said even as the community was busy in celebrating centenaries of various historical events, no agenda had been made to bring back the “patit Sikhs” into the Sikh fold. 


BSNL subscribers a harassed lot
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, May 24
Subscribers of BSNL here are sore over erratic connectivity. Dr Rajnish Kapoor, a local resident, says that his experience of using BSNL internet connection has been frustrating as its connectivity is poor. Even after getting connected, the user has to face the problem of frequent disconnections. Several calls are wasted on restoring connectivity.

On getting connectivity, bytes are difficult to receive due to poor speed, says Dr Kapoor. He says complaints to he local BSNL officials have fallen on deaf ears.

Moreover, BSNL has been fooling the subscribers regarding the applicability of revised tariff, the pulse rate for fixed line to cellular phone continues to be 30 seconds, instead of the revised 60 seconds.

Mr, Pardeep Mann, a computer teacher, says even the ‘customer care website’ of BSNL is not user friendly. Its options are complex. If your are to change the password, one has to undergo a number of steps.

Though night-time service (from 10.30 p.m. to 6.30 a.m.) is free for BSNL internet users, none can avail of the facility connectivity.


12 hurt as bus, truck collide
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, May 24
Nearly 12 passengers of a tourist bus HR 01-1588 bound for Katra from Delhi were hurt when it collided with a parked truck (No. PJE 1687) near octroi post of Hariana town 15 km. from here on Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road at 6 a.m. today. All injured were admitted into Hariana Primary Health Centre. Later four members of a family including Ganesh Dass his wife Anita Dass and two daughters Sunali Dass and Kusam Dass, and Anita Gupta all residents of Delhi and Rocky of Jammu and Kashmir were shifted to Hoshiarpur Civil Hospital.

All injured passengers except Anita Gupta were referred to DMC Ludhiana. Other injured were discharged after giving them first-aid at Hariana PHC.


Shaheedi conference on May 28

Jalandhar, May 24
The National Martyr Memorial Committee, Jalandhar, will organise a Shaheedi conference on May 28 at the Guru Nanak Dev District Library here to pay tributes to martyr Bhagwati Charan Bohra, a close associate of Shaheed-e-Azam Bhagat Singh and Chandra Shekhar Azad, on his martyrdom day.

According to Prof V.S. Jolly, press secretary of the committee, Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner Ashok Kumar Gupta will preside over the function while, Mr M. Tirth Ram, Vice-Chairman, Savtantarta Senani Kalyan Board, Himachal Pradesh, will be the chief guest.

Bohra was involved in the famous Meerut conspiracy case and the Lohare conspiracy case during the freedom struggle. He attained martyrdom on May 28, 1930, in a jungle on the banks of the Ravi. UNI


Special barracks for women prisoners soon
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 24
Punjab Jail Minister Malkit Singh Birmi said yesterday that by next month special barracks for women prisoners would be built in every Central Jail for which Rs 15 crore would be spent during the current financial year.

“As there were no special barracks for women prisoners in some jails, the state government has decided to build these by next month to avoid any kind of harassment of women prisoners,” Mr Birmi told reporters here today after visiting Central Jail.

After listening to problems of prisoners, Mr Birmi said complaint boxes would be kept in all jails. The prisoners could keep their written complaints in the locked boxes, which would be taken to his office in Chandigarh every month and action would be taken against guilty jail officials. Special attention would be paid to ensure proper facilities in jails, he said, adding that computer training and yoga classes would be started to educate the prisoners.


Two buried alive
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 24
Balwinder Singh and his 12-year-old nephew Gurpartaap Singh, both residents of Butari village, were buried alive when they were boring a tubewell in the same village near Baba Bakala, about 40 km from here, today. 

When the residents of area came to know about the incident they rushed to spot, but it was too late.


Bonus relief eludes rice millers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 24
More than 3,500 rice mill owners of Punjab and Haryana have suffered losses to the tune of Rs 100 crore as the Union Government has failed to compensate them fully against the payment of bonus made by them to the paddy growers in 2002-2003.

During the procurement of paddy in 2002-2003, the Union Government announced Rs 20 as bonus per quintal of paddy apart from the minimum support price (MSP) of Rs 560 per quintal. The government also made a policy that the purchasers would pay the bonus to farmers and they would be compensated for it later on.

Talking to TNS, a cross section of the rice mill owners pointed out that both the procurement agencies and the private millers, who purchased paddy from the market, paid Rs 20 as bonus per quintal to the farmers.

The Union Government had paid compensation to the procurement agencies, including the Food Corporation of Indian (FCI), on their entire purchase while in the case of private millers, only a part of the compensation was paid to them.

Mr Subash Jindal, a leading rice mill owner of Punjab and Haryana pointed out that the Central Government had purchased 100 per cent rice from the procurement agencies, including the FCI, under the custom-milled rice (CMR) category and subsequently reimbursed to them the entire amount of bonus paid by them to the farmers on the purchase of paddy. In the case of private millers, the Central Government took only 75 per cent of the total quantity of rice after milling the paddy under the levy category and hence paid the compensation in the same proportion. In this way, the private rice millers could get only 75 per cent of the amount they had paid to the farmers as bonus.

The rice millers pointed out that the Central Government had promised to compensate the private millers by fixing a higher rate for the levy category rice. They added that the Central Government had given higher rates for only 75 per cent of rice under the levy category but had failed to fix higher rates for the remaining 25 per cent rice, which was lying with them.

They demanded that if the Central Government was not willing to pay the remaining amount of compensation to them or fix higher rates for the rice of the levy category lying with them, it should purchase it at the same rate which was given by it for the 75 per cent rice of the levy category to the private millers.

They added that if the Central Government did not take corrective steps immediately, the private millers would be left with no option but to stop milling the paddy under the levy category. Besides, the Central Government would face a number of difficulties in ensuring paddy procurement by procurement agencies, milled from the private millers, by simply making verbal promises.

Sources said the Punjab Government had taken up the matter pertaining to full payment of compensation to the private millers in lieu of the bonus paid by them with the Central Government so that paddy milling in the coming season could be hassle free.


Spurned man kills girl
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, May 24
A young girl of the Nai Abadi locality here was allegedly murdered by a youth of this town last night around 8 p.m. and her mother Basanti Sharma was seriously injured in the attack.

According to the FIR lodged with the city police by Mrs Basanti Sharma, Sukhdev Singh, alias Bittu, entered their house and attacked her daughter Jyoti (17) with a sword for not agreeing to marry him. While Jyoti died on the spot, her mother was injured. She has been admitted to hospital.

Mr Vishwanath, father of Jyoti, is a poor labourer.

Though many persons gathered around the residence of Mr Vishwanath, none of them reportedly dared to overpower accused Sukhdev Singh who left the scene after committing the crime.

Sukhdev Singh has reportedly surrendered before the city police. A case has been registered under Section 302, IPC.


5 farmers injured in clash
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 24
Five persons were injured in a clash over Kot Shamir village near here, this afternoon.

Sources said that the quarrel started between two groups of farmers over the demarcation of their fields. The kin of Sukhraj Singh, Rachhpal Singh, and Jagsir Singh, who claimed that they had been attacked, said that their land had been demarcated by the kanungo (revenue officer) but the other group had challenged it. They claimed that their kin had gone to work in fields and were unarmed, while the attackers had come with sharp-edged weapons. Their kin received injuries on head and arms.

The kin of the other group found fault with opponents and claimed that they had been attacked first. They were identified as Tek Singh and Gurtej Singh.

The kin of the Sukhraj Singh claimed that the attackers had inflicted injuries on themselves to save themselves. Police sources said that the Thana Sadar police had started investigations into the case.


3 cable men arrested
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 24
The Amritsar police claims to have busted a sex scandal allegedly involving senior bigwigs and the extortion of money from cable operators.

The chairman of the Cable Operators Association, Mr Sarbjit Singh Raju along with Sippy and Parveen Chadda were arrested from a Jalandhar hotel today.

Mr Hari Om Dhanuka, Managing Director, Siti Cable, Mr Surinder Makkar (accountant), Mr Gagan Bedi and Mr Mehra, another accountant, were also rounded up for questioning.

Earlier, an FIR was registered at Civil Lines police station on the basis of a report of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation headed by Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), highlighting there allegations.

Is is learnt that the FIR was registered under the direction of the DGP.

The fact-finding report alleged that the girls offered jobs in Siti Cable were harassed if they did not oblige their employers.

The PHRO has also attached a number of affidavits of some victims of the Siti Cable Operators Association which reveal startling facts.

Two Congress MLAs and some senior leaders of the ruling party had to face the wrath of the public who had gone to the SSP’s office for getting the suspects released.

The Duty Magistrate has granted a three-day police remand to the three accused.


Missing girls untraceable

Hoshiarpur, May 24
Sandip Kaur, who along with her younger sister Lovedeep Kaur left the house on May 5 after she failed in the class VIII examination, are still untraceable.

Their father Dilbagh Singh of Argowal village had complained to the police who had registered a case in this connection. Sandip is 13-year-old while Lovedeep Kaur is eight-year-old. OC


4 booked for smuggling narcotics
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, May 24
Four persons of Kairon village were booked under the NDPS Act by the Patti police. Opium and smack were recovered.

Police sources said yesterday that 270 gms of opium was recovered from each Gursab Singh alias Saba, Ranjit Singh alias Rana and Gurinder Singh alias Tota while 12 gm of smack was recovered from Gurnam Singh alias Gama of the same village. Gurnam Singh has been booked under 21, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act.


SGPC-run colleges to seek NAAC approval
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, May 24
The SGPC has decided to get the colleges run by it assessed and accredited from the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), an autonomous body of the UGC. The decision was taken by the SGPC during a one-day awareness workshop of principals and staff of Khalsa colleges organised by NAAC at the conference hall of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib here yesterday.

Mr Rajinder Singh Pawan, coordinator of the workshop, said all colleges being run by the SGPC would send a self-assessment report of NAAC by November and the accreditation and grading of the colleges was likely to be received by December-end.

Earlier, the President of the SGPC, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, read out the inaugural address of the workshop. He said the decision to get the Khalsa colleges accreditated from NAAC had been taken to keep the standard of education in them on a par with international standards. The grading of the colleges by NAAC would also help the SGPC in evaluating the standard of education in these.

Dr B.S. Madhukar, Deputy Adviser, NAAC, said the UGC had issued directions to all colleges and universities to get themselves assessed and accredited from NAAC by December 1. Though the accreditation by NAAC was voluntary, yet soon most institutions would have to go for it. The UGC might link certain grants being given to the institutions with NAAC accreditation. Moreover, the accreditation would help employers and foreign universities in assessing the institutions, he said.

Dr K.S. Arya, a former Principal of the DAV College, Chandigarh, and member of NAAC, said the concept was conceived to form a universal standard of evaluating education in institutions all over the country. The criteria evolved by NAAC to rate the colleges and institutions took into consideration the infrastructure, curricular aspects, teaching, learning, evaluation, research, management and student support. While evaluating the above aspects, the location of the college was also taken into consideration, he said.

Earlier during the workshop, Mr Chanan Singh, Principal of Guru Tegh Bahadur Khalsa College, Anandpur Sahib, welcomed the delegates. Dr Jodh Singh, Editor-in-Chief of the Encyclopaedia Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Mr G.S. Walia, Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, were among others who addressed the delegates.


Medical colleges’ facility redesignated

Jalandhar, May 24
The Punjab Government has redesignated the teachers of various medical colleges in the state, Medical Education and Research Minister Chaudhary Santokh Singh said.

Accordingly, henceforth senior lecturers in the medical coleges would e designated as assistant professors, assistant professors as associated professors and associated professors as additional professors, Mr Chaudhary told reporters here.

He said that this would benefit 344 faculty members of different medical colleges.

Mr Chaudhary said that the Punjab Institute of Medical Sciences in the memory of late chief minister Beant Singh would start functioning in Jalandhar from the new academic session beginning in 2004.

This institution which was being set up on the AIIMS pattern would have 100 seats for 1st MBBS students with a 400-Bed attached hospital. He said that different posts in medical colleges would be filled shortly.

Mr Choudhary revealed that the state government would spent Rs 50 crore to improve the standard of medical colleges and hospitals connected to these colleges. UNI, PTI


Close schools for summer vacation’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 24
The Democratic Teachers Front (DTF) has urged the authorities to make sure that all schools closed for summer vacation as per the instructions of the government.

The association said that resentment prevailed among the parents of the students of private schools, which had not been closed for summer vacation. The DTF has alleged that although the Punjab government had announced that there should be summer vacation between May 16 and June 30, but some schools were not following the instructions.

Mr Jaswinder Singh, an office-bearer of the association, in a press note said here today that although the private schools follow the instructions of the government, but the smaller and unrecognised schools followed own rules for observing vacations.

He added that according to a random survey by DTF in Bathinda Muktsar, Mansa, Moga and Sangrur districts, it was observed that various private schools were open.

Mr Jaswinder Singh said that parents of the students of some schools had approached the association and sought their help. He said that they would soon meet the authorities concerned in that connection.


Admit cards for JET B.Ed being issued
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 24
Guru Nanak Dev University (GNDU) has started issuing admit cards cum roll numbers for the state-level joint entrance test (JET) for admission to B.Ed course in colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak, Panjab University (Chandigarh) and Punjabi University (Patiala) at all district headquarters of the state, Chandigarh and Abohar.

The university would conduct JET on behalf of Punjab Government on June 15. The work of receiving application forms and issuance of cards and numbers has begun at the designated processing centres. These centres would remain open till May 30 including Sundays and public holidays till 5 pm. Prof Gurnam Singh, test coordinator, clarified that the students should get prospectus from selected branches of Punjab and Sind Bank.


Harsh tops school with 94 pc marks
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 24
Harsh Mittal has stood first in the local Police Public School by securing 470 out of 500 marks (94 per cent) in the CBSE Class X, the results of which were declared today.

Kirandeep Kaur (88 per cent) and Vinika (85.2 per cent) secured the second and third positions, respectively.

This was stated in a press note issued here today by Mr Ishwar Singh, manager of the school.

Meanwhile, Lt-Col B.S. Bath (retd), Principal of the local Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School claimed that Amanjot Kaur (88.6 per cent), Rajkaran Singh (88 per cent) and Gurpreet Kaur (87 per cent) got the first, second and third positions, respectively, in the school.


Allow non-medical students to do B.Pharm’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 24
Seven non-medical students have urged Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, Guru Nanak Dev University to make the non-medical students eligible for the B.Pharmacy course.

In a letter to the vice-chancellor the students said that Punjab Technical University Jalandhar (PTU) had also considered eligibility of the students of 10+2 non-medical/medical students for the said course. They said the All-India Council of Technical Education (AICTE) had also prescribed +2 medical and non-medical as qualification for the same. Therefore, they urged, that students having plus 2 non-medical should be considered eligible for the admission to B.Pharmacy course.


Appoint medical, dental teachers’
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, May 24
The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association PSMDTA has urged to fill the vacant posts of senior lecturer and assistant professors to reduce burden on the Department of Medical Education and Research.

Dr B.S. Dhillon general secretary PSMDTA said here today that medical officers (MO) who earlier stated that they be considered as teachers was a false claim, as the Medical Council of India (MCI) had never considered or recognized these medical officers.


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