Sunday, June 1, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Party workers disappointed with Hanspal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 31
Even as the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today directed the party office-bearers of all units to remove the grievances of workers, a significant section of workers turned disappointed when they failed to get audience from him.

Mr Hanspal, who today addressed a workers’ convention, organised by the Block Congress Committee (city Bathinda), could not satisfy a section of workers, who raised their problems after virtually gheraoing him at the venue after he completed his speech and proceeded to take lunch.

Though Mr Hanspal directed the presidents of all units to be present in their respective party offices for a considerable time to redress the problems of workers, he asked the workers, who raised their problems today, to come to Chandigarh so that he could listen to them in a proper manner. A small section of workers created a scene outside the venue when Mr Hanspal was leaving for Chandigarh after the function was over.

Mr Hanspal did not utter any word when a worker complained that a large sum of money was being taken in the rationalisation of posting of teachers in the government schools by the education authorities despite the fact that he had urged the workers to root out corruption from the state.

Earlier, addressing the workers, Mr Hanspal urged them to reach out to maximum number of people to convey the achievements of the state Congress government.

He asked every worker to pledge to work for the victory of the party and its alliance candidates in the coming Lok Sabha seats elections.

Those who attended the convention included Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, High Powered Committee on Finance, Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, MLA, Pakka Kalan, Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Mr Surinder Kapoor, Mr Guljar Singh (all former ministers), Mr Bikramjit Singh, Chairman, Zila Parishad, Mr Anil Bhola, President, City Congress, and Mr Bhagat Singh Dhaliwal, President, DCC.

“The BJP-led NDA government has been working under the diktats of foreign powers and has become a threat for the country”, he said adding that it had sacrificed the lives of hundreds of Army jawans during the Kargil war to reap political benefits.

He asked why Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not telling the people what happened to his “aar-paar” (decisive war) with Pakistan. The NDA government had been befooling the countrymen to stay in power.

Launching an attack on the Akalis, he alleged that former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his associates did nothing except looting the people and bribing his own party workers by giving them funds through “sangat darshan” programmes by diverting various funds of the state government. The Akalis, who claimed to be the champions of farmers and Sikhs cause, could do nothing for them in their five-year rule despite the fact that they were partners in the NDA government at the Centre.

Mr Surinder Singla pointed out that workers should be taken care of, as without their efforts the Congress would not come into power at the Centre. Mr Jassi urged Mr Hanspal to make Mr Singla Cabinet minister and Mr Kuttiwal a minister of state so that workers of the area could get representation in the Cabinet. He added that workers had been finding it difficult to get a “pass” for entry into the Punjab Secretariat.

Mr Hanspal was given a purse of Rs 1 lakh by a team of Congress functionaries, led by general secretary Kewal Krishan Aggarwal.

Later, addressing mediapersons, Mr Hanspal, while claiming that there was no difference between him and Capt Amarinder Singh, said that a panel of prospective candidates for the presidentship of the Punjab Youth Congress (PYC) had been sent to the high command. He added that the president of the PYC should be below the age of 35.

He said the Punjab Government was trying to make disinvestment in those public sector units only which were in the red. To another question, he added that he would take up the matter pertaining to the induction of Mr Singla as Cabinet Minister with Chief Minister and the party high command. He said he would also take up the matter for removing liquor vends from the holy city of Talwandi Sabo.


Singla against Cong-CPI alliance for LS poll
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, May 31
Senior Congress leader and Chairman, High-Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Surinder Singla today urged PPCC president H.S. Hanspal not to have an alliance with the CPI for Lok Sabha elections.

Addressing party workers convention here today, Mr Singla said that the CPI had harmed the Congress in the last Assembly elections as the Congress lost eight Assembly seats offered to CPI candidates under the alliance. He added that if Congress leadership continued with the alliance with the CPI, the Congress would not be able to win all 13 Lok Sabha seats.

“Over the years, the CPI has been losing political relevance. No youth has been joining the CPI. An alliance with the CPI will be dangerous for the party,” remarked Mr Singla. Congress workers were the backbone of the party, and scored victory for party candidates in all types of elections. He urged that Congress candidates be given party ticket from the Bathinda Lok Sabha. At present it was represented by a CPI candidate.

“Ms Sonia Gandhi can become Prime Minister of the country only if the Congress does not enter into an alliance with the CPI. Do not have an alliance with the CPI otherwise we will lose,” Mr Singla cautioned Mr Hanspal, who presided over the function.

He pointed out that when he contested from Bathinda Assembly, he secured minimum votes from the Municipal Council ward represented by a senior CPI candidate. The CPI was getting marginalised politically.

However, Mr Hanspal, addressing the workers, pointed out that decision to have an alliance or not with any party was the prerogative of party high command and whatever decision the party high command would take, would be binding on all party workers.

When asked whether he endorsed the view of Mr Singla or not, he said that he was not competent to comment upon Mr Singla’s views. He said that Mr Singla was one of the finest and excellent brains, which the Congress party had got. But sometimes, Mr Singla too needed guidance to run the show.


Is irrigation scam washed away?
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
Has the scam worth several crores pertaining to the remodelling of the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) system in the border belt been swept under the carpet ? This and many other related questions have become a main subject of discussion in the corridors of the Punjab Irrigation Bhavan here.

The scandal was unearthed in November last year. Shocked to see the magnitude of the scandal, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had deputed his Adviser on Irrigation matters, Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, to conduct the preliminary inquiry. Mr Sandhu, in his first report submitted to the Chief Minister, had observed that the officers concerned had played havoc with the entire UBDC system and the “ entire money of about Rs 100 crore spent on the remodelling of the project had gone down the drain”.

The total project, in which 75 per cent funds to be contributed by the Centre, was worth Rs 180 crore. However, about Rs 100 crore was released when the scam was uncovered. The UBDC system is a lifeline of the agricultural economy of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts.

Acting immediately on Mr Sandhu’s first report, the Chief Minister had suspended one Chief Engineer, who was head of the project and three other senior officers — one Superintending Engineer and two Executive Engineers. Besides, Capt Amarinder Singh had instructed Mr Bhagat Singh to hold a detailed probe into the scandal and pin- point the officers involved in it. Mr Bhagat Singh, along with the Chief Engineer (Canals) and the Chief Engineer (Vigilance), conducted the inquiry and prepared a 1000-page report. However, later it was compressed to 100 pages.

The report was submitted to the Chief Minister three months ago. However, no action has been taken on the report yet. Informed sources said Mr Sandhu in his final report submitted to the Chief Minister had recommended major penalties against several engineers and others concerned.

In fact, according to the sources, Mr Sandhu had pointed out about the big nexuses between a certain officer, politically connected, and certain contractors in his report recommending severe action against all of them. He had pointed out several irregularities, including the creation of works that were not required, in the report.

What is the fate of the report, no one knows about it at the moment. The Chief Minister, however, has assured at a number of press conferences that he will take exemplary action against the “guilty” in this scandal.

But the sources said a senior officer, who was the main player in the scam, had already retired. And several others would retire in the days to come. Then the entire purpose of holding the inquiry would be lost, senior officers of the Irrigation Department say.


Calendar silent on Bhindranwale’s death
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, May 31
Even as the SGPC has decided to observe the death anniversary of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale for the first time as per the Nanakshahi calendar on June 6 here, a parallel calendar (Nanakshahi) being sold opposite the Golden Temple itself has deleted the “martyrdom day” of the sant.

The ‘parallel Nanakshahi calendar’ being sold at Gurmat Pustak Bhandar, a dealer of the Damdami Taksal, is likely to spark off fresh controversy as the original Nanakshahi calendar, released by the SGPC, has the stamp of Akal Takht.

Though according to some eyewitnesses, Sant Bhindranwale was killed during the Operation Bluestar and the pictures of his body were published in various newspapers and magazines, yet the Damdami Taksal, headed by Sant Bhindranwale till his death, claimed that the sant had escaped during the Operation Bluestar. Despite concrete proofs, the SGPC, Akal Takht and other Sikh organisations allowed the controversy to persist.

However, even after about two decades of the operation, the Damdami Taksal and family members of the sant have maintained silence on the issue. The mention of the death anniversary of the sant published in the Nanakshahi calendar did not evoke reaction from any organisation. So much so, ‘Khandedhar’, the monthly magazine, edited and printed by Bhai Mohkam Singh, Spokesperson for the Damdami Taksal, is silent on the issue.

However, the Damdami Taksal will organise Akhandpath at Chowk Mehta to observe the anniversary of all those killed during the Operation Bluestar. Like previous years, the Damdami Taksal is unlikely to declare Sant Bhindranwale as “martyr”.

The function to observe the death anniversary of Sant Bhindranwale and others at Manji Sahib (Golden Temple complex) is likely to be addressed by Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, and SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar. The function is being organised by the SGPC in collaboration with the Dal Khalsa.


Punjab jails in a pitiable condition
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The other day when the Minister for Jails, Mr Malkiat Singh Birmi, made a surprise visit to Ludhiana Women’s Jail, he was shocked to see inmates being fed stale food. The jail staff tried to play smart with him. However, he made the Jail Superintendent to admit that no fresh food was cooked.

On experimental basis, courts at Samrala, Khanna, Jagraon and Ludhiana will be linked with Ludhiana Central Jail through the video system. Through video conferencing, the presence of undertrials will be marked in courts. Such a system has been implemented in Andhra Pradesh. Undertrials will be brought to the Jail Superintendent’s room that will be linked to the court concerned through the video system. The superintendent will identify the undertrial and the court will mark his or her presence. There will be no need to take undertrials out except in the case of recording of evidence or cross examination. Thus, crores of rupees will be saved.

He was moved on hearing the woes of a Nigerian girl who has been declared insane by the jail authorities and was being treated shabbily. At another place, he found a number of Bangladeshis who had completed their jail term but were languishing in the jail. He found a German, convicted in a narcotics case, in a pitiable condition. At Amritsar Jail, he came across a teacher who had completed his jail term but had no means to get himself freed by securing a release order.

In certain jails, there are old inmates, who are unable to see, hear and even walk. What is the purpose of keeping such people in jail? There are 250 women inmates in a jail which has an approved capacity of 150. Stinking toilets within the barracks make life hell for prisoners and undertrials.

This is a small part of the official version of a long wretched story of Punjab jails. There is lot more to be told. For instance, over crowding in certain jails, pilferage of ration meant for prisoners and so on.

A few decades ago, Punjab had the best jails in the country. These were known for their cottage industry. “I am serious to put the house in order. Jails require vast reforms and I am mentally prepared to do so”, said Mr Birmi while talking to The Tribune here today.

The Jalandhar jail spread over 25 acres in the heart of city will be shifted on the Jalandhar-Kapurthala road, away from the city. A proposal in this connection is being prepared. The money to build the new jail will be generated by selling half of the land of the present jail. The sale of land will fetch approximately Rs 60 crore. However, the cost to construct the new jail will be only Rs 40 crore. Thus, Rs 20 crore will be saved from it.

And later, by selling the remaining part of the land for about Rs 60 crore, the total amount will turn Rs 80 crore. And this money will be enough to secure Rs 115 crore as a grant from the Central Government, that has at its disposal hundreds of crores of rupees to improve the lot of jails in the country, but the grant is given on the condition that the state should also contribute to it. Mr Birmi said Rs 205 crore would be enough to modernise all jails in the state.

In the first phase, toilets will be removed from the barracks and their number will be increased. At present there is a provision of only two toilets for 60 prisoners. Separate blocks will be constructed for women in various jails. The hospitals in all big jails will be upgraded to put an end to the dubious practice of referring influential prisoners for even minor ailments to civil hospitals outside the jail.

The department authorities have been asked to prepare the case of old aged persons to seek remittance in their jail term from the Governor after taking the permission of the Council of Ministers. These prisoners, who do not pose a threat to society in any manner and are almost on the last leg of the life, require to be freed, said Mr Birmi.

The Union Government would be requested to deport all those Bangladeshis who had completed their jail term, he added.

Steps would be taken to provide good food to inmates. “We will put the system in place to stop the official pilferage of ration meant for the prisoners,” he said. There was a need to add to the existing total capacity of 10,500 inmates of Punjab jails. At present there are 13,000 inmates. Obviously, certain jails are overcrowded.

Regular yoga classes will be started in all jails. Cottage industry to manufacture tents, sports material such as footballs, furniture etc in these places will be revived. All educated convicts will be given computer training. Fruit and other trees will be planted to make jails green. A private voluntary organisation has shown interest to start classes in jails to educate convicts. More sub-jails will be constructed.


Adding cyber factor to romance
Ravi Dhaliwal

Patiala, May 31
If the scores of cyber cafes that have sprouted in almost every nook and corner of the city are any indication, then it can surely be surmised that there are an increasing number of mouse happy Patialvis who are cruising various chat sites on the net looking for romance and companionship.

Almost all these “fly by night” cyber cafes have glowing computer monitors and key boards worn smooth by twitching fingers. Here people from all strata of society, particularly youngsters, cruise the boulevards of a new and exciting world primarily looking for new associates.

Says a psychologist, “In today’s ruthless world of competition, where workload has increased and everybody prowls tirelessly for a better deal, few get the time and energy to pursue real romance. It’s easier making it on the net.”

Some cyber cafes are visited only by students, particularly those belonging to professional colleges like Thapar college, dental college and the medical college. These students chat on the net for hours, admitted a cafe owner near Thapar college. For these “starry eyed” youngsters, romance seems to spread like a jimson weed in the vast, virtual plains of cyberspace.

That is why there are youngsters like Seema Verma (name changed), a Punjabi University MCA student, who sits in a cyber cafe in Patiala and makes contact with her ‘cyber friend’ in Mumbai. Neither have they seen each other, nor do they feel any reason to do so.

However, computers and cyber cafes have their flip side too. Many feel that the demi-realities of chat can not fulfill real world needs.


Tandon writes to PM on panchayat poll flaws
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
A former President of the Punjab unit of the BJP, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, has submitted a representation to the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and leaders of other political parties requesting them to revert to the old system of panchayat elections.

Raising several points with regard to the flaws in the existing system, Mr Tandon said while 15 days were given to a candidate to campaign for the Lok Sabha or Vidhan Sabha elections, candidates for the panchayat elections, that is confined to one particular village, got 10 days. The average number of voters in a village was not more than 1000, he added.

Before the introduction of the new system, the nomination papers used to be filed by candidates one day before the election and polling used to be held the next day. Because of a long gap between the holding of the elections and the filing of the nomination papers, the existing system had led to the cropping up of a large number of corrupt practices.

He said to stop the spread of the corrupt practices to the grassroot level, immediate steps should be taken.


72 pc of addicts take poppy husk, opium
Our Correspondent

BATHINDA: Is the traditional narcotics like opium and poppy husk still the first choice of drug addicts of the area? The answer is in affirmative if the number of addicts who came for treatment at the Red Cross De-addiction Centre in the city, in the past one year is any indication.

About 72 per cent of the total number of addicts who came for quitting the drugs at the centre between April 2002 and March this year were taking poppy husk or opium. While those who came to get rid of habit of liquor addiction were about 8 per cent of the total addicts.

There were 1,291 addicts who came for treatment in the period under consideration and out of these 937 were consuming opium or poppy husk, while the liquor addicts were 113.

Although it is said that the youths had shifted from taking traditional drugs (like poppy husk, opium or liquor) to medicinal drugs (cough syrups, sedatives, injection etc) but the number of addicts who got treatment from the centre, does not confirm the notion.

The number of addicts taking capsules (dextro propoxyphene), injections (buprenorphine, pentazocine), cough syrups or sedatives (like diazepam, alprazolam tablets) who came for treatment is 177, which is about 13 per cent of the total number of addicts.

The smack is “gaining popularity” despite the fact that it is the costliest of drugs available in the area. There were as many as 25 persons admitted to the centre who were taking smack. Some (eight) addicts of ‘bhang’ were also came for treatment.

There were also persons (31) who not only take liquor, opium, poppy husk but also take cough syrups, injections and smack.

Although the police has tightened its noose around the neck of smugglers of poppy husk, opium and chemists who sell medicinal drugs to the youth, but the addicts manage to get the supply of drugs. However, the police authorities are putting the figure in another way.

They said the large number of addicts admitted to the de-addiction centre indicated that these drugs, were not easily available now. They said as the addicts could not get the supply of drugs, they did not have any other option than to quit the same.

Dr Mehboob Singh Sra, Incharge of the De-addiction centre, said some of the addicts told him that they were addicts of liquor, but quitted the same after they became followers of particular religious sect. They, however, said after quitting liquor they started taking opium and poppy husk. He said some of the addicts of opium and poppy husk who came from the rural areas told him that they had quitted the narcotics some months ago, but as the harvesting season of wheat started, they again started the drugs to enhance their working capacity.


Contractors working for free in councils?
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, May 31
Are labour contractors employed for maintenance works in the municipal councils of the district working free of cost? If the records of the payments being drawn by the said labour contractors from the councils are to be believed, this is true.

The labour contractors engaged in the maintenance works concerning horticulture, parks, water and sewerage pumps in the municipal councils of the district are being paid just the minimum wages for the labourers employed by them. As per the muster rolls of the labour contractors, the labourers were paid Rs 2,000 per month — the minimum notified by the Punjab Government.

In the Nangal municipal council, about 40 labourers were employed through contractors by the council for horticulture, water and sewerage maintenance works. In the SAS Nagar council, about 250 labourers were employed for horticulture maintenance. In the Ropar municipal council also, more than 20 labourers were employed through contractors for sanitation and maintenance works.

The contractor employing all labourers in the said councils just paid minimum wage to the workers. They were not paid anything extra as administrative charges, as was the practice in many other organisations taking services of the labour contractors.

If the labour contractors were paying entire amount, they were drawing from the council to the labourers, it seems that they were working free of cost. However, the sources told this correspondent that the contractors by working just on the minimum wage for the workers were exploiting the poor labourers in connivance with the council authorities.

They were taking the signatures of the labourers on muster rolls for the minimum wage of Rs 2000 per month but were actually paying them anything between Rs 1500 to Rs 1800. The sources also said that in case where a large number of labourers were employed, fake attendance was marked and contractors swindled the entire amount in connivance with the council officials.

The contractors, by working on the minimum wage of the labourers, were also denying the employers share of the EPF of the workers. As per the EPF rules, a contractor has to contribute 12 per cent of the wage of labourers towards his EPF.

The Executive Officer of the Nangal municipal council, Mr Amrit Lal Bansal, when asked if the contractors were working free of cost for the council, said the contractors were obliging the councils by working just on the minimum wages. The councils cannot pay anything extra to the contractors because the audit raises objection to extra payments. Moreover, if council employs labourers on its own on muster rolls, as per the contract Labour Act, they would have to regularise their services.


Lack of facilities stunts growth
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore: Ferozepore, despite being a divisional, range and a district headquarters, lacks in a lot of infrastructural facilities. This has not only proved to be an impediment in its progress and growth, but also contributed to the poor economic condition of the town.

In the absence of any administrative complex, the offices of various government officers like the Commissioner, DIG, Deputy Commissioner, SSP, SDM, Civil Surgeon, DTO, RTA, DPRO, DEO, besides the PWD offices of the Roadways. Markfed Punsup, PSWC, FCI are etc all scattered and situated at distant places from each other.

As a result, people who come from far-off villages for work related to these offices face some ordeal. Some offices like RTA, DPRO, Food and Supplies, Statistical, Fisheries, DTO,Home Guards, Employment Exchange are functioning accommodations, many of which are in a dilapidated condition. The District Consumer and Redressal Court functioning from a badminton hall.

Apart from this, since there is no government college in Ferozepore, the students have to take admissions elsewhere. Although, there are a few private colleges, but keeping in view the number of students seeking admissions in these colleges, there is a grave necessity for government college, especially for postgraduate and vocational courses.

In the sports arena, despite the town producing hockey players of international repute like Gaganajit Ajit Singh and Harmeek Singh, there is no separate hockey stadium. There is only one stadium, which is being used for all sorts of sports, be it athletics, volleyball, handball, hockey, judo, or basketball. It also plays hosts to all official functions, including Independence Day and Republic Day functions. There exists no facility for sports like tennis, squash, fencing, table tennis and other games.

Despite being an important town, there is only one rest house for the stay of visitors and visiting officials. It belongs to the PWD. The Canal Rest House is located far away from the main town. Work on the construction of Circuit House, the foundation stone for which was laid in April 1995, is stranded for the past five years reportedly due to shortage of funds.

In the absence of any judicial complex, the town has no proper arrangement for the advocates and the judges. The Sessions Court is situated on the Mall Road whereas the other courts are functioning from the district courts complex on the Jhoke road. The number of advocates has swelled enormously in the past few years. The situation has turned ugly as there are a number of unauthorised kiosks which have mushroomed over the years.

There is no official accommodation for the DSPs posted at various sub-division headquarters in the district.

The Municipal Committee is also poor and lacks the resources and infrastructure to provide basic amenities. The roads are in a bad shape and dotted with potholes while the sewerage condition is pathetic. The cesspools of slush impede the flow of traffic. Even a slight drizzle inundates the city, particularly the interiors and low-lying areas.

The residents feel that it is the high time that the government wakes up and does something for the infrastructural development of this town.


PDA gets grant of Rs 28.8 cr
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, May 31
The Patiala Development Authority (PDA) received a grant of Rs 28.80 crore from the National Capital Region Planning Board, Government of India, here today.

According to a press release issued by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) here, the Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, has announced that the development of the township, spread over an area of 350 acres at Sirhind road, Patiala, will commence from June end this year. The township, land for which has already been acquired, will comprise of an urban estate with a plotted development for 900 houses and IT park, an agro park and an institutional estate. The layout plan for the integrated development is at an advanced stage of finalisation and the infrastructure development of the township will be taken up on a turnkey basis. The marketing of the plots will be taken up in 2003-2004.

Earlier, Patiala was identified as one of the five locations in the country to be developed and operated as a counter-magnet to the National Capital Region of Delhi. Initially the NCR Planning Board had approved two projects of development of integrated township at a cost of Rs 66 crore and augmentation of water supply and sewerage and storm water at Patiala costing Rs 60 crore.


Plea to ban smoking at public places
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, May 31
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) has urged the Union Government and the state government to implement in letter and spirit the “Anti-Smoking Act”, which bans smoking at public places, sale of tobacco products to children below 18 years and advertisement of tobacoo products.

Stating this on the “World No-Tobacco Day” here today, Dr Surinder Singla, state secretary of the Punjab IMA, said the IMA wanted that all political parties should sincerely take steps, to implement the anti-smoking Act.

He said the law-makers, law-enforcement agencies and health professionals should take pledge to fight against the tobacco menace as more than 10 lakh persons die every year due to tobacco-related diseases like lung cancer, asthma, pneumonia and heart attacks in the country.

Dr Singla also stated that to eliminate the evil of smoking and tobacco, the IMA emphasised stress on health education to the people, especially youth. He said the IMA also wanted that the government should introduce anti-tobacoo curricula in educational institutions as educated youth could play a vital role in eliminating the evil of tobacco use.

He urged the government to impose a complete ban on the sale of tobacco products in and around educational, religious and health institutions in the state. Smoking at public places should also be declared anti-social activity to safe-guard the interests of the non-smokers, who otherwise become passive smokers and prone to tobacoo-related diseases.

Dr Singla said the Punjab IMA had also directed its branches to help the government and educational institutions against the use of tobacco products.

AMRITSAR: The Amritsar Vikas Manch (AVM) has sought a ban on smoking at public places. A memorandum in this regard was submitted to Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Neelkanth. Mr Charannit Singh Gumtala, president, AVM, said the ADC had promised appropriate steps in this direction.


CBI begins probe into Samra case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
After registering a case in connection with an alleged attempt on the life of Dr Gurvinder Singh Samra, complainant in a bribery case registered against two judicial officers, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today began on-the-spot investigations into the case.

A team of officials of the CBI, accompanied by doctors and experts from the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL), undertook a detailed examination of the place where the alleged incident had taken place on the Ropar-Balachaur road yesterday morning.

Sources said the damaged vehicle (Toyota Cruiser) of Dr Samra was brought back to the Sector 30 office of the CBI. It is learnt that experts of the CFSL carried out a detailed analysis of the vehicle to ascertain the cause of its damage. It was being probed whether the vehicle was hit by one or more vehicles and at what angle.

The sources said no blood stains had been found inside the vehicle. Some stains had been found on the rear side of the vehicle. The vehicle was found parked at a distance from the accident site. It is learnt that the CFSL team was trying to ascertain the distance from which the alleged shots had been fired.


Impersonation by Samra to be probed
Tribune News Service

Nawanshahr, May 31
The owner of the bus, which was allegedly hit by the vehicle of Dr Gurvinder Singh Samra from behind yesterday morning near Majra Jattan, has informed the Kathgarh police of what had happened to his vehicle. The police here has decided to investigate the matter.

Nawanshahr SSP Ms Neerja Voruvuru, has appointed Balachaur DSP Mr Simratpal Singh as an Inquiry Officer (IO). “Though Kuldip Singh, the owner of the bus has not shown any interest in the registration of a case even though he has informed the Kathgarh police of the incident, we are going to conduct an inquiry in view of the sensitive nature of the case and the allegations,” said Ms Voruvuru today.

The Toyota Land Cruiser vehicle said to be of Dr Samra, was towed and parked at the traffic aid post 2 km from Majra Jattan village near Balachaur. Since the vehicle has become case property after the CBI was asked to register a case. It was in the possession of the Nawanshahr police under the jurisdiction of which the incident took place. Some officials of the CBI also came to the police post to inspect the vehicle last evening.


Recruitment scam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
Taking up a petition filed by an approver in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam Jagman Singh seeking the grant of bail, besides the quashing of a Section in the Code of Criminal Procedure which stated that an approver would continue to remain in jail till the trial concluded, the high court today fixed July 8 as the next date of hearing.

Seeking directions for the striking down of the Section, the petitioner had contended that the same was unconstitutional. Jagman’s counsel had asserted that all other accused in the case, except him, had been released on bail. Even the accused who had turned approver at a later stage were out on bail.

Corruption case

Punjab’s former Agriculture Minister Gurdev Singh Badal’s petition challenging an order dismissing his application for discharge in an alleged corruption case will come up for hearing on October 20.

In his petition, Badal, now an MLA, had asserted that his application for discharge was dismissed by Ludhiana’s Special Judge without the application of judicial mind. Giving details, he asserted that the prosecution had not obtained sanction for prosecuting an MLA even though it was mandatory under the provisions of the law. The former minister was booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Patiala on November 23 last year under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the first information report, the then minister had misused his official position. During his tenure, he had given promotions to his favourites with mala fide intentions after ignoring seniority.


Petition filed against Badal, others
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 31
Mr N.K. Garg, a local advocate, today moved an application in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr Surinder Mohan Goyal, for registration of a criminal case against the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, and some officials of PUDA as they were allegedly responsible for grabbing 1,800 square yards of land in Urban Estate, Phase III, here.

The others who have been named in the application are Ms K.P. Brar and Mr Ajaib Singh Bhatti, both former Additional Chief Administrators, PUDA, Mr Lachhman Singh Kang, Junior Engineer, PUDA, and Meghraj, a local resident.

The complainant alleged that Mr Chiranji Lal Garg and his relative, Meghraj, had fraudulently grabbed “shamlat” land, which was acquired by PUDA for development in connivance with officials. Mr Chiranji Lal Garg on other hand said the complainant had filed the application to malign his image. He said similar allegations against him (Mr Chiranji Lal) were also levelled earlier, which he claimed were found to be false.


Charge sheet served on Milkfed MD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The Punjab Dairy Department has served a charge sheet on the Managing Director of Milkfed, Mr B.B. Mahajan, who is to retire today. A senior officer of the department said the charge sheet was based on a 1200-page inquiry report that was forwarded by the Cooperation Department to the Dairy Department.

Mr Mahajan, who is originally from the Dairy Department, has been posted in Milkfed that is under the administrative control of the Cooperation Department.

In the charge sheet, Mr Mahajan has been asked to explain the allotment of agencies pertaining to the distribution of milk and the fixation of the price for the procurement and sale of milk etc and whether such a price used to be get approved from the Board of Directors of Milkfed.

He has been asked to explain about his visit to Dubai along with his wife. Who paid for the visit of the wife. Whether he had informed about her visit to the government authorities concerned or not? What was the source of investment made in the purchase of a house? He has also been asked to explain the purchase of a particular machinery and certain other items.

The officer said if Mr Mahajan’s reply was found to be satisfactory with regard to the charges, those charges would be dropped. In case of failure to do so, a regular inquiry officer would be appointed with the approval of the Chief Secretary.


Probe death of cows: PFA
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 31
The district unit of the people for Animals (PFA) while urging the authorities to hold a high-level probe into the death of 15 cows in the Rampura Phul area some days ago has said that there should be a permanent solution to the problem of stray animals.

The PFA alleged that the death of the cows was an act of anti-social elements, adding that there was a need to go into the root cause of the problem.

Mr Shakher Garg, president of the Bathinda unit of the PFA, has written an application to the Deputy Commissioner in which he has mentioned that the cows had died after consuming contaminated fodder.

Mr Garg said that such incidents occur as some animals were let loose by people. He urged the Deputy Commissioner that some arrangements should be made to check the rising population of stray animals.

He said that the people who abandon cattle and other animals when these become useless should be punished. The cattle owned by farmers or dairy farm owners should be registered.


Marriage palaces restrained from holding noisy functions
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 31
A local court has restrained the two marriage palaces in the city-Sham Bagh and Raj Kamal-from holding any function which would create nuisance and noise pollution and restricted them from using electric generators and loud speakers, hosting any function involving singers or even beating of drums on their premises.

This decision was taken by Additional District Judge Sukhdev Singh on a petition filed by one Sukhdev Singh Grewal who resided closeby to these marriage palaces situated on the Bhupindra road recently. The counsel for Raj Kamal Palace, however, said the marriage palaces had been given relief till June 7 in the case. The defendents had claimed that they had made advance bookings which should be allowed to be honoured.

The Additional District Judge has through his decision had overruled a decision taken by a Civil Judge in the matter in January, 2002.

The judge has ruled that on careful perusal of evidence he was of the considered view that both Sham Bagh and Raj Kamal marriage palaces were creating a public nuisance by using generators and loud speakers besides hosting orchestra parties and singers besides revelry caused by “drunken” men at the functions.

The judgement says that the marriage palace proprietors did not produce any structural safety certificate and that they did not have proper parking facilities. It said neither did they give any proof that they were sound proof buildings and that continuation of business for a long time could not make them acquire nuisance by prescription. Besides this, the court has also accused the marriage palace managements of passing the buck as far as noise pollution is concerned. It said the owners could not justify the nuisance claiming that the persons holding functions in their premises used loud speakers after taking permission of the Subdivisional Magistrate.

It said such marriage palaces should be at least 500 yards away from schools. It said it was admitted that the DAV School was within 30 feet of one of these palaces and that the palaces fall within the scope of silence zone. It said as these conditions had not been complied with, the marriage palaces could not be given permission to run the facilities in violations of guidelines.

It said in students living in the neighbourhood of the marriage palaces were entitled to enjoy their natural right of sleeping in a peaceful atmosphere. It said a student preparing for his examination is entitled to concentrate on his studies without their being unnecessary disturbance by the neighbours. It said similarly old and infirm persons were entitled to enjoy reasonable quietude during their leisure hours.


Nai Abadi residents annoyed with railway staff
Our Correspondent

Abohar, May 31
The Nai Abadi Sudhar Sabha has taken exception to the attitude of the local railway staff in creating problems for the residents of the Nai Abadi locality across the local railway station.

The sabha, in a complaint faxed to the Railway Minister, said nearly 50,000 people reside in the Nai Abadi and adjoining localities, which had been developed after the Partition in 1947. Total population of the town as per last census was 1.25 lakh. The Railways had provided an overbridge linking the old town with the localities across the railway station but it could be used by pedestrians only. It said the road crossings were far off from the interior part of the Nai Abadi locality. It was difficult for senior citizens, women and hundreds of school children to use either the overbridge or the road crossings. The crossings are kept closed beyond specified limit.

Residents of the Nai Abadi locality had been using a passage, originally provided for the residents of the Railway colony, to go to their homes. It was properly metalled. The local municipal council had provided pucca stairs to cross the railway boundary wall for going to the Nai Abadi locality. Funds were provided by the locality residents for the structure. The residents had been using the 4 feet-width metalled path, for more than four decades. It had virtually become legal though the Railways had displayed a warning on a signboard reminding the people that crossing line was a cognizable offence and the Railways would not be responsible for any loss to life or property of the persons flouting the rule.

Some official had ordered that the passage be demolished. This evoked strong protest from the affected people. The officers had to face the wrath of the residents. Ultimately the passage was reconstructed by placing damaged wooden sleepers.


Society adopts 14 poor students
Our Correspondent

BATHINDA: Gursewak Singh, a student of class VII of government school, village Teona, near here, was overjoyed when he was given books, copies, school uniform for winter and summer and other items by the Society for Educational Aid to the Needy.

Gursewak and his family members were grateful to the society for the help and he said that he would score more marks and meet expectations of the society.

Son of a farm hand, Gursewak was amongst the 14 students of various classes adopted by the society for one year, under which the society provides the books, school fee and other items to these students. Every member of the society adopts a student each year and funds the study of such students.

One such member of the society Mr Lalit Mohan Sharma, said The Tribune that even as the state government had been providing books free of cost and scholarships to some students, but it being caste-based many poor and deserving students are left out of the scheme. The scheme adopted by the society is not based on caste and its volunteers help poor students of all castes.

Mr Vasudev Aggarwal, coordinator of the society said that people from all sections of the society were their members. He said that all major expenses of the students are borne by the society and volunteers. He said that efforts were being made to add to the number of voluntary donors of the society so that more such students could be helped.

The prominent residents of the village said that by helping the needy students, the volunteers of the society have done a good job. A member of the panchayat said that this would encourage students in studies as well.

Those who were adopted by the society for one year included, Paramjit Kaur of class X, Jagjit Singh of class VIII, Jagjit Singh, Jagsir Singh, Soni Kaur and Amandeep Kaur all of classes VII, Kulwinder Singh, Jagsir Singh, both of class VI, Lakha Singh, Mandeep Singh, both of class V, Amarjit Kaur, Veerpal Kaur both of class IV and Pooja Kaur of class II.

All members of the society and prominent residents of the village attended the function.


Free education for 2 ‘brave’ girls
Tribune News Service

Patiala, May 31
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai today offered to give education free of cost to two girls who were molested by a railway official three days back at Anandpur Sahib.

An official press note here said the Vice-Chancellor had deputed a varsity official to convey the offer to the girls and their family. The press note said the girls would be offered education free of cost in any university course for which they would be eligible.

The two baptised Sikh girls were waiting for their mother at Anandpur Sahib railway station late in evening when they were accosted by a railway employee who first teased them and then started molesting one of them. One girl took out her “kirpan” and even struck at the assailant following which the assailant grabbed the “kirpan” and inflicted injuries on her hand. Following this there was a hue and cry and people rescued the girls.


Conference on open-source software
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, May 31
A two-day national-level conference on ‘Open source software and technologies — bridging the digital divide’ concluded at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, here today.

Dr H.K. Sardana Scientist, Central Scientific Industrial Organisation (CSIO), was the chief guest at the concluding session.

Addressing the conference, Mr Rajindra Singh, Scientist ‘C’ from the Defence Electronics Application Laboratory (DEAL), Dehra dun, said open-source software was much more secure than licensed software as a lot of developers review its development as compared to the licensed software.

Mr Sirtaj Singh Kang, Official Spokesperson, K-Desktop Environment, Australia, said people and organisations should start using open-source software and move towards more secure, reliable and cost-effective computing. Dr H.K Sardana said the analog divide that existed about two decade ago due to inequitable distribution of telecom infrastructure had manifested itself into digital divide with the advent of digital technology and the Internet. He said open-source software and technologies were the best options to bridge the digital divide.

Mr Gurpal Singh, coordinator of the conference, said the college would make this conference an annual feature from the next year.

The college Principal, Dr Dilbagh Singh Hira, gave certificates to the participants.

Mr Ajay Pal Singh Atwal, Mr Raj Bahadur Singh and Mr Mandeep Mavi of BBSBE College, Fatehgarh Sahib, presented their papers on open-source solutions. Around 60 delegates participated in the conference.


Shagun scheme may be restarted
Tribune News Service

Tapa, May 31
The Punjab government may restart the “Shagun scheme” for Scheduled Castes families of the state.

Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, H.S. Hanspal gave an indication to this effect while talking to mediapersons at a party organised in his honour by Congress workers here.

Mr Hanspal said that Congress government had already started pension scheme for those belonging to poor section of society and it was considering to restart the Shagun scheme under which government would give some money at the marriage of a Dalit girl to her parents.


Book fake seed sellers: BKU (E)
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 31
The BKU (Ekta) today demanded action against the shopkeepers who are selling fake seeds.

Mr Shingara Singh Maan, its district general secretary, stated in a press note here today that the authorities concerned had not taken action against those who had been found guilty of selling uncertified seeds. He said instead of taking action against the guilty traders, state agencies were booking farmers for not repaying the loans.


Undertrial gives cops the slip
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, May 31
An undertrial booked under the NDPS Act fled from the local Civil Hospital, where he was admitted for treatment, today.

Paramjit Singh, who was arrested on July 22 last year, gave the slip to the cops on duty. He was admitted for the treatment of TB on May 12, police sources said. The jail authorities informed the police about the incident. An alert has been sounded in the city.


Team leaves for Khurdung La expedition
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, May 31
A four-member team, today left for Khardung La for a 12-day expedition.

The team will cover a distance of 2700 km on motor cycles. The team members are Mr Rajiv Prashar, District Transport Officer, Mr Namdev Singh Sidhu, Tehsildar, Mr Pushpinder Singh and Neelkand.

Ms Usha R. Sharma, Deputy Commissioner, flagged off the expedition. The local Adventure and Awareness Society has sponsored the expedition.


Delhi cops register case
Varinder Walia and Ashok Sethi

Amritsar, May 31
The multi-crore kidney scam today took a fresh turn when a high-level team of the Delhi police visited the city here following the registration of a case in the country’s Capital. A donor, Sikandar, a resident of Hapur (Uttar Pradesh) had lodged the complaint with the North Delhi police that his kidney was removed forcibly at Ram Saran Dass Kisori Lal Hospital here, on March 27, 2001.

The Delhi police team scrutinised the records pertaining to the donor and the Delhi-based recipient, Sushil Arya (42), who had allegedly hoodwinked the law enforcing agencies by giving fake local address (48, Kashmir Avenue).

Talking to TNS, the members of the Delhi police team said Sikandar had revealed that he was picked up by Mr Arya in Delhi and induced to accompany him to Amritsar for a job of mason. Before he (Sikandar) was taken to Amritsar, he underwent some medical tests in Delhi. Sikandar in his complaint alleged that he was forced to undergo more tests at Kakkar Hospital where doctors alleged that his liver was damaged and he would have to undergo an operation for that. On the pretext of the operation, his kidney was removed without his knowledge.

The Delhi police said the case had been registered against the culprits under various Sections of the Human Organ Transplant Act and the IPC.


Industries Dept official booked
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, May 31
The district police has registered a case against Mr Gurjant Singh, a Block Level, Extension Officer (BLEO), of Punjab Industries Department, posted at Ferozepore, for allegedly duping a local industrialist of Rs 93,600.

According to a copy of the FIR procured by The Tribune today, Mr Surjit Singh, owner of Akal Agro Industries in Pathrala village of the district, in his complaint to the Punjab Chief Minister, had alleged that the said official of the industries department had taken Rs 93,600 from him for releasing the subsidy for their industrial unit. He said he had started the industry in 1998, by taking a loan of Rs 17 lakh from the Ruldu Singh Wala branch of Punjab National Bank, and as per the then prevailing rules of the state government, he was to be paid a subsidy of Rs 9.36 lakh.

He alleged that the official asked for 10 per cent of the subsidy as advance if the subsidy due was to be got released as per the rules of the industries department. He claimed that the 10 per cent of the subsidy (Rs 93,600) was paid to the said official in the presence of Mr Angrez Singh, Nambardar, Pathrala, village, but the official gave no receipt to them. He alleged that their subsidy was not released by the department and repeated requests to the said official proved futile and after some time, the official was transferred to Ferozepore where he was now posted as Functional Manager, Industries.

Mr Singh claimed that after they checked the matter with the local office of the industries department, they were told that the department did not charge anything in advance for releasing the subsidy of any industry. He said they contacted the official concerned again but failed to get any satisfactory reply of their money back.

The complaint was marked by the Chief Minister to the district authorities and after an inquiry conducted by the Deputy Superintendent of Police (R), the allegation of taking Rs 93,600 by the said official from the proprietors of Akal Industries was found correct. The inquiry officer had submitted his report to the authorities concerned and after taking legal opinion in this connection, a case under Sections 409 and 420 of the IPC was registered. Police sources said that no arrests had been made in the case so far.

Mr Gurjant Singh, BLEO (now Functional Manager Ferozepore could not be contacted despite repeated calls on his landline and mobile.


Rs 2.25 lakh looted from trader
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, May 31
Three armed unidentified robbers, posing as members of the CIA staff, looted Rs 2.25 lakh from a money-changer and his friend near Sarhali village after injuring them late last night.

According to the FIR lodged with the Zandiala Manjki police, the victim, Harneel Bhandhari, and his friend were returning to Phagwara from Zandiala on a motor cycle, when the robbers, travelling in a car intercepted them and asked to search their motor cycle by posing as police employees working in the CIA staff. When Harneel told them that he was a money-changer working at Zandiala, the robbers suddenly pushed both Harneel and Amarjit into their Tata Indica car and snatched Rs 2.25 lakh near Daduwal village. The two were later thrown out of the running car.


Teaching of commerce discontinued

Fazilka, May 31
The Director, Public Instruction (Secondary Education), Punjab, vide order dated May 21 directed that teaching of commerce in 10 senior secondary schools in Ferozepore district be discontinued from the current academic session. The commerce lecturer’s posted in these schools are being adjusted.

The schools where the teaching of commerce has been discontinued are government senior secondary schools for Boys at Fazilka, Jalalabad, Abohar and Zira girls’ schools at Guruharsahai and co-education school at the villages of Dabwala Kalan, Dotarianwali, Niharkhera, Mauzgarh and Aarifke.

In girls’ senior secondary schools of Jalalabad, Abohar and Zira provision for co-educational teaching of commerce has been made on trial basis. OC


Pollution control board organises painting competition
Our Correspondent

Patiala, May 31
The Punjab Pollution Control Board, Regional Office, Patiala, organised an open painting competition as a part of the series of programme to celebrate the World Environment Day at Baradari Gardens here today.

Over hundred students of different schools participated in the competition. The topics of the painting competition were related to the protection of environment. The students came out with new ideas related with environmental problems.

In the junior group (5-9 years) Simaranjit Singh of Carrier Academy got the first position, Dhruv Sharma of YPS secured the second position followed by Gavish Jindal of British Co.School. In the age group of 9-13 years Rupinder Kaur from Alpine Public School got the first position, Rajveer Kaur from Alpine School baged the second position followed by Seerat Sharma from YPS. In the Senior Group (13-18 years) Tejpreet Singh from Guru Nanak Foundation Public School got the first position, Manjeet Kaur from Alpine Public School secured the second position followed by Sudha Samal from Tagore Public School. Environmental engineer Gulshan Rai gave away the prizes to the winners.


Meeting put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
The annual general meeting of the Punjab Government Colleges Retired Teachers Welfare Association had been postponed to June 11, 2003.

Earlier the meeting was scheduled to be held on June 3, 2003.

A spokesman of the Association Mr S.P. Dhawan, said that the postponement was necessitated due to a change in the schedule of the Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh who was to be the chief guest. The time and venue of the meeting would be the same Mr Dhawan added.


Students allowed to take exams
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, May 31
Acting on a bunch of petitions, a Bench of the high court Judges has allowed over 50 students to take BDS Part I examinations conducted by Baba Farid University.

Issuing directions, the Bench, headed by Chief Justice Mr B.K. Roy also directed that the examination result should be kept in a sealed cover till further orders.

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