Tuesday, June 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Amarinder not to bow on calendar issue
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 9
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today made it clear that he would not buckle on the issue of the Nanakshahi calendar, adding that “the SGPC can do what it wants, I am not concerned. I will go according to the rule of the country”.

Speaking to newsmen after inaugurating the Mini-Secretariat here, the Chief Minister said that it was too premature to comment on whether he would present himself before Akal Takht if summoned. He said the state governments run according to the guidelines of the Union Government.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that if the SGPC wanted the implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar, it should first convince the Union Government on the issue. “If the Union Government gives us any guidelines on the issue, we will implement them”. Making out a case for a uniform calendar for the entire Sikh community, he said part implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar would only cause confusion in the community.

When asked about the recent function organised at the Darbar Sahib in which Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was declared a martyr, he said Bhindranwale was a dead issue. The function had acquired some importance because it had now been admitted that he was dead.

Speaking about the Talhan incident, he said a compromise had been effected between the two factions over a four-month period, and that some miscreants were responsible for the instigation of the recent violence. He said the miscreants had been identified and would be dealt with according to the law. He said as Chief Minister he would not allow any casteism or communalism to return to Punjab. As far as the probe by a committee formed by the government to look into the matter was concerned, it could visit Talhan only after curfew was lifted, he said.

Earlier speaking at the function, the Chief Minister said the government was planning to provide funds to municipal corporations through funding agencies so that they could augment drinking water supply in their areas. He said due to acute water shortage in Bathinda, where the government was now providing tankers, the state government would facilitate 50 per cent of the cost of such projects through financial institutions while, 30 per cent of the cost would be borne by the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board. He said the municipal corporations would have to generate only 20 per cent of the project money.

He announced that four more mini-secretariats would be completed at various district headquarters this year itself. He said the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA), which was responsible for the construction of these projects, was also inviting foreign direct investment so that it could go in for more infrastructure building projects in the state. He said that the mini-secretariat in Patiala had been built at a cost of Rs 34.35 crore and was spread over 13.25 acres.

Others present on the occasion were Finance Minister Lal Singh, Urban Housing Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri, Housing Minister of State Malkiat Singh Birmi, former MP Sant Ram Singla, city Mayor Vishnu Sharma and District Congress Urban and Rural Presidents Ved Prakash Gupta and Hardial Singh Kamboj.


Summon Giani Puran Singh: Bibi
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 9
The announcement of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, could be summoned at Akal Takht for rejecting Nanakshahi Calendar may open Pandora’s box.

Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC chief, while talking to TNS on the telephone said Giani Puran Singh, Head Granthi, Golden Temple, who had participated in a ‘martyrdom day’ of Guru Arjan Dev, observed in violation of the calendar on June 4 here, should also be summoned at Akal Takht. She alleged that Giani Puran Singh, who was sacked as Jathedar, Akal Takht, and suspended as priest of the Golden Temple for opposing the calendar, was later promoted as Head Granthi of the temple.

Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, SAD, had started that Capt Amarinder Singh should be summoned at Akal Takht for rejecting the calendar. Earlier, the SGPC general house had unanimously passed a resolution that the Chief Minister should be summoned for sending the police on the SGPC complex.

However, the Sikh clergy did not implement the resolution so far.



Admn failed, says PPCC chief
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 9
The PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today admitted that slackness on the part of the district administration was responsible for the outbreak of clashes among Dalit and Jat communities at Talhan village last Thursday and the subsequent deterioration of law and order in other parts of the city.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Hanspal said the situation could have been controlled had the administration acted swiftly and properly to control the situation.

Mr Hanspal, who was accompanied by Mr Avtar Henry, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Choudhary Santokh Singh, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee and District Congress chief Tajinder Bittu, alleged that the BSP was out to create a wedge between the two communities for vested political gains. “In fact, we had reached a compromise formula to resolve the Talhan gurdwara issue on Wednesday as Dalits and Jats agreed to maintain peace and harmony in the village. But the BSP acted smartly and scuttled the entire move by creating tension during the mela at Talhan village on Thursday afternoon,” he said.

Asked why the state government took five months to get the representatives of the two communities to sit together to resolve the issue, Mr Hanspal said the government was committed to maintaining peace at all costs and sincere efforts were made by the government to resolve the issue despite the fact that the political parties like the BSP, the BJP and SAD (Badal) tried their level best to vitiate the atmosphere.

Mediapersons also apprised the state Congress chief about the indifferent attitude of the Deputy Commissioner, who had allegedly tried to gag the Press by not issuing curfew passes for an on-the-spot assessment of the situation. Mr Hanspal indicated that the state government had decided to soon shift senior civil and police officials for their failure to control the situation.

When asked whether he would visit the violence-hit areas, including Buta Mandi and Talhan village, Mr Hanspal was quick to explain that since curfew had been imposed in these areas, it was not proper for him to go there. Interestingly, Bhai Mohkam Singh, chief spokesman of Damdami Taksal, was yesterday allowed to visit the curfew-bound areas without any curfew pass.

Regarding convening of an all-party meeting on the issue, Mr Hanspal said it was too early to comment on the issue.


BSP for action against guilty officials
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, June 9
BSP activists held a protest rally at Ravidas Mandir here today to condemn the alleged inefficiency of the civil and police administration in tackling the siuation at Talhan and Buta Mandi in Jalandhar. Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra, a former BSP MLA and Chaudhary Ram Kishan, a BSP leader, addressed the rally. They demanded immediate action against the “guilty” police officials and an ex-gratia grant of Rs 10 lakh for the family of the person killed in police firing. The BSP activists were planning to take out a protest march in the town and to present a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner. However, Mr Kulbir Singh, SDM, persuaded the BSP leadership not to take out the protest march and submit the memorandum to him. Mr Harbhajan Lakha, a former BSP MP, in a separate statement issued here, demanded judicial inquiry into the incident.

Jathedar Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, general secretary of the SHSAD and former acting president of SGPC, has expressed grave concern over the Talhan incident .


‘Take Kesdhari Dalits on gurdwara panel’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 9
Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann today demanded that “Kesdhari” members from the Dalit community should be included in the management committee of the Talhan-based Shahid Baba Nihal Singh Gurdwara.

Asserting that Dalits had a special place in Sikhism, Mr Mann said partisan attitude towards Dalits was rather against the Sikh rituals and way of life and they deserved equality and high offices as all other people. “Sikh religion will emerge stronger if Dalits are taken along,” said Mr Mann adding that a number of Sikh martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for the honour of Sikhism, belonged to the Dalit community.

Expressing concern over growing outer interference in Sikh affairs and religion by “Brahminical and fundamentalist” forces, Mr Mann said the issue should be discussed at an appropriate platform. He also demanded that a General House meeting of the SGPC be held to discuss the Talhan issue. 


‘End confrontation between Jats, Dalits’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 9
The district unit of the Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR) has urged the district administration to immediately end the confrontation between the Jats and Dalits of Hasanpur village near Dhuri. It also asked the administration to take strict action against those responsible for the alleged “boycott” of the Dalits.

This has been demanded by the AFDR in an inquiry report related to the confrontation between Jats and Dalits of Hasanpur village. The report has been released by Mr Hardev Singh Rathi, district secretary of the AFDR, here.

The AFDR has also demanded initiation of action against those who have been exploiting the religious sentiments of the people and encroaching upon the panchayat/shamlat land, so that peaceful atmosphere could be saved from worsening. The AFDR in its report has also virtually held the Jats responsible for the confrontation between them and Dalits by stating that Jats seem to be in a mood to teach a lesson to the Dalits. The report has also stated that there is no weight in the argument that Dalits have encroached upon the shamlat land in Hasanpur village.

The AFDR also stated that as per the information, gathered by the inquiry team, the trouble started from the disposal of village filthy water which was earlier released into a pond near samadh-cum-gurdwara, but later it was allegedly diverted by the Jats, towards the land, kept for construction of Valmiki temple near the Dalit dharamshala as the Jats have a desire to take the pond’s land into their possession.

The Dalits claimed that they had been facing a“ social boycott” at the hands of Jats. 


Dalits protest against demolition
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 9
Workers of various Dalit organisations of the district today held a protest rally in front of the mini secretariat in protest against the demolition of Maharishi Balmiki Temple at Tera village of the Majari block on June 3 by the district administration. The protesters raised slogans against the Punjab Government and the district administration and demanded that the temple should be resurrected at the same place.

President of the local Bharati Balmik Sabha Banvari Lal said the temple had been demolished by the district administration without giving any prior notice. The demolition of the temple had hurt the feelings of the Dalits and the officers responsible for the act should be punished.


Punjab yet to pay writer’s dues
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 9
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh is yet to fulfil his promise of clearing the dues of eminent Punjabi writer Santokh Singh Dhir. Capt Amarinder Singh at least twice promised recently to clear the dues of Dhir.

Santokh Singh Dhir is a big name in Punjabi literary world. He has won several awards, the most prestigious ones being the Punjabi Sahit Akademi Award in1996 and the Shiromani Punjabi Sahitkar award in 1991. Besides, he has the Soviet Land Award to his credit. An author of about 35 books of poetry, stories and novels in Punjabi, Dhir is also a life Fellow of Punjabi University.

The state government owes a meagre amount of Rs 42,000 to the noted writer. The eminent writer has been treated in such a manner in the past seven years by the state government just for making a payment of Rs 6,000 per annum from its Treasury.

Seven years ago, the cultural wing of the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development started paying Rs 1,500 per month to eminent, needy writers in the country. The Punjab Government was asked to contribute Rs 500 from its Treasury and pay Rs 2,000 per month to such writers from Punjab. At the end of every year, the Union Government used to send the money to the Punjab Government for further payment to the writer concerned by adding the state’s share. However, what to talk of the state’s share, the Punjab Government dilly-dallied in paying even the Centre’s contribution.

On repeated complaints from the writers concerned, the Union Government started paying the money to them directly with a direction to the state governments to send their share directly to the writers concerned.

“I have been receiving money from the Union Government regularly at the end of every year. However, the state government has not paid even a single penny from its share for the past seven years.”

Dhir is the only Punjab writer getting such a monthly scholarship from the Centre.

“Mr N.S. Rattan, Secretary, Higher Education and Director of the Punjab Languages Department, tried to get my dues cleared but it seems the Finance Department scuttled his efforts”, Dhir said.

The previous Badal Government also did the same. “I wrote several letters to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the then Chief Minister, but to no avail,” rued Dhir.


Mystery shrouds prisoner's death
Conflicting statements by jail, hospital authorities
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 9
Another inmate of the local Central Jail died under mysterious circumstances today.

Darshan Singh, who was undergoing life imprisonment in a murder case, suffered a fit around 11.15 a.m. He was taken to the local Civil Hospital, where he was declared dead.

The jail here has been witnessing a series of deaths of its inmates, incidents of smuggling of narcotics by the inmates and thrashing of inmates by other inmates for the past few years. The inmates have also been suffering due to overcrowding of the jail premises as more than 1,200 persons have been kept there against its capacity to accommodate 500 persons.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Saggu, Superintendent, Central Jail, said when Darshan Singh, who belonged to Maur Nabha village of Sangrur district, suffered a fit, he was immediately taken to the Civil Hospital, where he died after a few minutes. Darshan Singh was about 53 years old and had spent about seven years in the jail.

However, the doctors who attended on Darshan Singh at the Civil Hospital asserted that Darshan Singh was brought dead to the hospital at 11.30 a.m. They added that after examining Darshan Singh, they declared him dead at 11.40 a.m.

Mr Saggu said he had written to the District Magistrate in connection with the death. The Civil Hospital authorities also informed the police authorities in this connection. The Civil Surgeon will constitute a panel of doctors for conducting the post-mortem examination in presence of an Executive Magistrate deputed by the District Magistrate.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, District Magistrate, said he would write to the National Human Rights Commission after he officially received the information of death of the jail inmate. He said an Executive Magistrate would be deputed to probe into the matter.


Two children killed in blast
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 9
Two children, Gurcharan Singh (11) and Harjit Singh (8) died on the spot and one Baljit Singh (4) got seriously injured in a blast that took place at Ladhuka village near Guruharsahai, 50 km from district headquarters.

According to the information, at about 10.30 am today three children were playing in the house of Resham Singh, a powerful blast took place in which two kids died on the spot whereas the third received serious injuries. The blast created a 4 feet-deep fissure in the ground. The impact was so strong that the door and windowpanes of all nearby houses were shattered. The body of one of the kid, Harjit Singh, who died on the spot went up high in the air and his limbs were blown off. Another child who lost his leg and a hand died while being taken to a hospital whereas the third received injuries on the head.

Resham Singh, father of the three kids, said he was sitting in his residence and the children were playing in the passage outside the residence, suddenly an explosion was heard which shocked him. He said the explosion was so powerful that everyone became dumbstruck for a moment and a blanket of thick smoke engulfed the area. When asked whether any explosive material, mine or some sort of scrap was placed there? Resham Singh said he was totally unaware of it.

The exact reason behind the blast could not be immediately ascertained. However, the Army authorities have ruled out the possibility of a mine explosion since the blast took place inside the residence. The Army and the police authorities reached the spot and started preliminary investigations whereas the bodies have been sent to the Civil Hospital, Fazilka, for a post-mortem.


Protests to follow ‘if Badal held’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 9
An emergency meeting of Akali workers of the region held here yesterday declared that an agitation would be launched if former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD supremo Parkash Singh Badal was arrested in any false case.

Dr Om Parkash Sharma, district press secretary, SAD, said the Amarinder government had decided to implicate Mr Badal and his family members in false cases. Dr Sharma said the arrest of Mr Badal could disturb peace in the state.

Those who attended the meeting included Mr Chiranji Lal and Mr Sikander Singh, both former ministers, and Mr Hardev Singh, a former chairman of the market committee.


PUDA to construct 8,800 houses
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 9
The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) has decided to construct 8,800 houses of various categories in the state, for which a provision of Rs 199.50 crore has been made in this year’s budget.

Disclosing this here today, Punjab Housing and Urban Development Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri said 40 per cent of the houses would be reserved for the economically weaker sections.

He said it had also been decided to adopt low-cost housing techniques, for which organisations like the CBRI, Roorkee, and Hudco had been approached. He said simultaneously, a research and development cell would be set up to promote the use of cost-effective material like ash bricks. He said the building by laws were being amended to promote new cost-effective material and to make buildings disaster-resistant.

The minister said a survey had also been conducted to assess future demand and customer preference for plots in 26 towns and cities, on the basis of which new urban estates would be established. He said medium and small towns had not been explored earlier and now towns like Ferozepore, Hoshiarpur, Beas, Sujanpur, Kharar, Zirakpur, Khanna, Moga, Rajpura, Naba, Nawanshahr, Barnala, Fatehgarh Sahib, Guru Harsahai, Muktsar, Phagwara, Phillaur and Pathankot had been brought in the ambit of the survey.

Mr Puri said sites for the development of new urban estates had been finalised at Amritsar (265 acres), Jalandhar (405 acres), Nawanshahr (125 acres), Gurdaspur (250 acres) Kharar (250 acres) and Zirakpur (150 acres). He said Rs 210 crore had been earmarked in the budget for setting up of new urban estates this year.

Speaking about other projects of PUDA, the minister said the organisation was taking up the development of City Centre in Sector 62 of SAS Nagar at a projected cost of Rs 50 crore. He said besides this, a PUDA Bhavan was also been constructed at SAS Nagar at a cost of Rs 28.50 crore. He said other projects included the establishment of a Habitat Centre at Patiala in collaboration with Hudco, development of five new sectors — from Sector 76 to Sector 80 — at SAS Nagar, development of a golf course at SAS Nagar, construction of Shan- e-Hind Gate and Martyrs’ memorial at Hussainiwala at a cost of around Rs 6 crore.


SE refused pre-arrest bail
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 9
The top rung of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) tried to absolve a Ludhiana-based Superintending Engineer accused of being involved in a bribery case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled. The court has also dismissed a petition filed by the Superintending Engineer for the grant of anticipatory bail.

The Superintending Engineer, Mukhmohan Singh, was apprehending arrest in a case registered by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at Ludhiana. As per the prosecution story, Mukhmohan Singh had asked Jagraon-based dhaba owner to meet Executive Engineer Suhinderjit Singh for not getting a case registered against him for defective electricity meter.

The prosecution added that the complainant was then asked to bring Rs 50,000. After he approached the Vigilance Bureau, a raid was conducted in which Suhinderjit Singh was caught red-handed, the prosecution claimed.

Subsequently, a senior officer had written a letter bringing the “entire episode” to the notice of PSEB’s Distribution Member “expressing opinion to the effect that the Superintending Engineer’s name in the complaint filed by the dhaba owner was unjustified”.

After going through the letter, Mr Justice Amar Dutt of the high court ruled: “In the present case, there can be no doubt that a visible effort is being made by PSEB’s higher echelon to absolve the petitioner of any responsibility of bribe that was taken by and recovered from Executive Engineer Suhinderjit Singh”.

The Judge further ruled that Punjab’s Deputy Advocate-General Mansur Ali had urged that “the circumstances in which the case has developed shows that an effort was made by the department to save the Superintending Engineer, clearly involved in the case on account of the fact that but for him, the complainant would not have got in touch with Suhinderjit Singh”.

The Judge added: “From the circumstances in which the complainant got in touch with Suhinderjit Singh and the talk which took place between him and the complainant, it is possible to infer that the seeds of the thought that the registration of the FIR could be avoided was sown in the mind of the complainant by the petitioner himself....”

The Judge concluded: “The petition is dismissed with the observation that if the petitioner surrenders before the trial court on June 13 at 10 am and applies for bail, his application should be heard and disposed of on the same date after taking into consideration any request for remand that may be made by the investigating agency....

“It is further directed that till then, if the petitioner is apprehended, he would be admitted to interim bail on his furnishing bail bonds to the satisfaction of the arresting officer subject to the condition that he shall make himself available before the investigating agency as and when required, shall not directly or indirectly make any inducement, threat or promise to any person acquainted with the facts of the case... and shall not leave the country without previous permission of the court concerned”.


Centre clears Sikh jatha for Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 9
A jatha of 200 Sikh devotees will leave for Pakistan on June 13 by road through the Wagah joint checkpost to observe the Martyrdom Day of Guru Arjan Dev. Mr Sham Singh, co-president of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC), has already conveyed that the Martyrdom Day would be observed on June 16 as per the Nanakshahi calender.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities, said another jatha of 200 Sikh devotees would go to Pakistan from June 21 to 30 to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh. The SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, has asked the devotees to reach Amritsar on June 12 so that the jatha could be sent well in time.

According to an official information sent by Mr Rama Raman, Director, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, a quota of 100 pilgrims had been allotted to the SGPC. While the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee has been allowed to send a jatha of 60 devotees, 40 pilgrims will be sent from other states. However, the SGPC will be the coordinating agency.


Bal Thackeray’s effigy burnt
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 9
Activists of various Sikh bodies today burnt an effigy of Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray in protest against the burning of poster of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale by Shiv Sena men.

The protesters alleged that the Shiv Sena had hurt the religious sentiments of Sikhs.

They also staged a dharna in front of the office of the local Improvement Trust and presented a memorandum to SDM Pritam Singh.

The protesters demanded legal action against those Shiv Sena men who were involved in the case. Activists of various Akali factions, Gurmat Prachar sabhas and managements of local gurdwaras took part in the protest.


Secy recommends BDPO’s suspension
Tribune News Service

Khuian Sarwar (Ferozepore), June 9
Mr J.R. Kundal, Secretary, Department of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, has recommended “immediate suspension” of Mr Surat Singh Brar, Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO), Khuian Sarwar for alleged irregularities of lakhs of funds meant for development works for villages in this block.

Mr Kundal, confirming the recommendation of immediate suspension of Mr Brar to the minister, pointed out that he had taken this action on the report of the Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore. He added that the report of the Deputy Commissioner, Brar had been found guilty of irregularities in government funds.

According to official information, out of total funds of Rs 31,59,058 allocated to this block, it was found that Mr Brar had spent Rs 22,71,500 by violating guidelines of schemes, misusing his authority and diverting the funds for other purposes.

These came to light when an inquiry was conducted into a complaint lodged with the Deputy Commissioner.

Mr Brar was found guilty of irregularity of Rs 191500 in the Assessment creation scheme, Rs 616245 in the Desilting of Ponds Scheme and Rs 781613 in the Assured Employment Scheme.

It was also found that part of development funds of the order Rs 8,68,896 was to be recovered from Mr Brar when the Executive Engineer, Panchayati Raj conducted an assessment of executed development works in this block. The amount which was to be recovered from Mr Brar was of the funds which were allocated for residential quarters at this place, open drains and streets in Bandiwala village, computer centre in Panjaba Mandal village, laying of pipes of water works in Dharampura village, paving of strects in Haripura, Khialiwali and Bareke villages and pond of Muhajwala village.

It is learnt that the Punjab government has been facing pressure from various political quarters to hush up this case.


City to get new bus stand
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 9
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said a new bus stand would come up in the city.

Speaking at a function organised to inaugurate the Mini Secretariat building, the Chief Minister said the bus stand site would be located near Aggarsain Hospital on the Rajpura road.

The Chief Minister said the decision was being taken because of traffic bottlenecks near the overbridge on the Rajpura road which ended at the traffic light point from where buses take turn for the present bus stand. He said though a number of steps had been taken to ensure a smooth flow of traffic in the area, they had proved unsuccessful.

Capt Amarinder Singh said once the new bus stand was constructed, a four-lane road would lead to it. He said following this the present bus stand site could see construction of a roundabout and roads leading to various localities in the city. He said the bus stand would be built according to international specifications in line with the steps being taken to upgrade the Ludhiana, Amritsar and Jalandhar bus stands.

Meanwhile, the news has been well received by the people. Mr Amarjit Singh of Gurbaksh Colony said a new bus stand and removing congestion at the traffic lights close to the overbridge were the long-pending demands. Sources also disclosed that a number of accidents were occurring near the light point because it was situated at a spot where speeding vehicles descended the overbridge.

The Mini Secretariat has been designed and constructed by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA).

The offices of district administration including those of the Deputy Commissioner, police, Regional Transport Authority (RTA), District Transport Office, Food and Supplies, Rural Development, panchayat, health, treasuries, PWD (B&R) and other allied offices will be shifted to the Mini Secretariat to provide centralised service to the general public.

Capt Amarinder Singh said that apart from the district-level offices, the offices of the Divisional Commissioner, Chief Engineer (B&R), and IGP (Zonal) would also be shifted to this complex shortly.

The Secretariat has been developed in an area of 13.25 acres and at a cost of Rs 34.35 crore.

Finance Minister Lal Singh, Minister of State for Public Health Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister of State for Housing and Urban Development Malkiat Singh Birmi, Chief Administrative Officer PUDA Suresh Kumar were also present on the occasion. 


BKI deputy chief seeks asylum in France
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 9
Mehal Singh Babbar, a self-styled deputy chief of the Babbar Khalsa International, whose whereabouts was shrouded in mystery after his disappearance from Pakistan in 2001, has resurfaced in France and applied for political asylum.

Interestingly, the contents of the petition filed by Mehal Singh reads, “I had served in Indian Air Force (IAF) and worked with Akhand Kirtani Jatha though I am elder brother of Sukhdev Singh Babbar, slain chief of the Babbar Khalsa International, yet, I have nothing to do with the organisation” Mehal Singh while seeking political asylum in France said he would be eliminated if deported to India.

Mehal Singh Babbar who was declared a proclaimed offender in a number of cases seems to have disowned his organisation — Babbar Khalsa International — going by the contents of his petition.

It could not be ascertained whether Mehal Singh took the government of Pakistan or the ISI into confidence before leaving the country. While Mehal Singh quietly left for France, other five Sikh militants who were declared ‘most wanted’ by the Indian Government were still taking refuge in Pakistan.

Sources pointed out that Mehal Singh had differences on certain issues with Wadhawa Singh Babbar, chief of the Babbar Khalsa International, who was still in Pakistan.

It may be mentioned here that Mehal Singh Babbar had gone to Pakistan after Operation Bluestar in June, 1984. He returned to India in 1985 after getting arms training in Pakistan. Then he crossed over to Pakistan in 1992 after committing a number of crimes, including bomb explosions. He was also involved in the conspiracy to assassinate the then Chief Minister Beant Singh. At least four FIRs were lodged in Amritsar district against him. An FIR (No 34/90 dated February 1, 1990) was lodged at Patti police station under Sections 307, 353, 148, 149, 186, 427 of the IPC and Sections 25, 54, 59 of the Arms Act and the Explosive Act. Another FIR was lodged at Jalandhar polcie station (Division No 4) under similar sections on June 1, 1989 in 1986, an FIR was lodged at Valtoha police station. In the same year another FIR was lodged at Jaiton police station.

The sources pointed out that Mehal Singh’s two sons who had been in California also migrated to France and had been granted political asylum. However, his daughter who got married in California had a marital dispute with her husband and returned to India, it is learnt that she (daughter of Mehal Singh) was now living with her mother, an employee of the SGPC.


SSP to probe sex change case
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, June 9
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) today directed the SSP, Patiala, to conduct an enquiry into the case of a Patiala boy who claimed that he wanted to become a girl and would soon undergo operation.

On the complaint filed by the president of the Sarv Sanjhi India Party (SSIP), Mr Baljit Singh Nayak, the PSHRC directed the SSP to conduct an inquiry and submit its report within four weeks.

Claiming that change of sex by any person was against the law of nature, Mr Nayak said Mr Amrik Singh of Patiala was to undergo operations and plastic surgery to change his sex which was against the law of nature.

He said if this was allowed to happen, it might result in serious problems.

Mr Nayak said sex was one of the main criteria to identify a human being.

If Amarik was allowed to get his sex changed, it might result in genetic problems in the humans.

It might also interfere in the cause of criminal justice in which case a person may change sex to play hide and seek with law. There are just instances and a number of many other problems may arise in future.

He said change of sex was also against the very ethics of medical science.

The doctors, who were to perform the operation should be asked under which provisions of law they were doing the same, he said.

The act might be punished under the law.

The complainant also said the existence of such unnatural inhuman and illegal practices was a threat to society. It would have bad impact on the minds of the children.


NGO for probe into sale of blood
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 9
The Aasra Welfare Society, a non-government organisation (NGO) of the district, today passed a resolution not to donate blood even in emergency situations to the blood bank in the local Civil Hospital.

The Aasra Welfare Society, led by Mr Vinod Bansal, who has donated blood 76-times in the past 21 years, took this decision as, according to him, the authorities concerned had failed to probe the alleged sale of donated blood units by private doctors in connivance with a section of officials of the blood bank. The society passed the resolution that its members would not donate any blood until the authorities took suitable action against those involved in the scam.

The decision of the Society could trigger a crisis for the blood bank as it had been meeting its demands through the donations made by the volunteers in the camps organised by various NGOs, including the Aasra Welfare Society. Presently, there are about 33 units of blood in the blood bank, which has the capacity of storing more than 100 units. The decision is likely to adversely affect those suffering from thalassaemia.

Mr Vinod Bansal, President of the society, pointed out that the society had already written to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Health Minister and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission in connection with the probe and demanded suitable action against the guilty involved in the blood scam.

He pointed out that a few weeks ago, a private practitioner took a unit of blood from the blood bank by paying Rs 300 and without giving any replacement for the same. The private practitioner transfused the same unit to a patient, who was undertreatment in his clinic, by charging Rs 1600 from him for the same. Again, he took blood and transfused the same to the same patient by charging Rs 1600 for it. The first unit of the blood taken by the private practitioner from the blood bank had been donated by volunteers of NGOs.

He alleged that in the official records of the blood bank, there was no reference of the issuing of the second unit of blood to that private practitioner, and hence it could not be known from where the second unit of blood was acquired by the practitioner. He added that the authorities concerned had also failed to find out these facts despite the fact that the Supreme Court had banned the bleeding of people privately.

Dr Indu Bhushan, incharge, Blood Bank, Civil Hospital, said that the resolution of the Aasra Welfare Society was not going to affect the functioning of the blood bank in any way, as it would meet its requirements from the camps being organised byother NGOs. He added that this decision could put the thalassaemia patients, who required transfusion weekly or fortnightly, in trouble. 


Lawyers occupy DC’s office

Patiala, June 9
Forty lawyers of the district court forcibly occupied the vacant office of the Deputy Commissioner after it was shifted to the mini-secretariat which was inaugurated today.

Later, Deputy Commissioner Tejvir Singh, got the premises vacated. He also warned the lawyers that action would be taken against them if they repeated the mistake. The lawyers said the district administration had not been fair to them. OC


Body of trader’s son taken to Raipur
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 9
The body of Sunil Kalash, son of a businessman Ram Kishan Kalash of Raipur (Chhattisgarh), was flown to his hometown after being taken by road to New Delhi from here.

The police here completed formalities under Section 174 of the IPC before handing over the body to the parents of the victim. The District Law Officer has been asked to give his opinion whether the case should be treated as of suicide on the basis of allegations levelled by the parents of the victim.

Sunil Kalash was admitted to the Civil Hospital here on Friday night in a serious condition, where he succumbed to his injuries after three hours.

Mr Ram Kishan Kalash, former chairman of the Municipal Council, Raipur, who reached Abohar along with other relatives, alleged that his son had been murdered and blamed a Faridabad-based maternal uncle of his daughter-in-law for the death of his son.

Mr Kalash, who was in tears, said this was not a case of dispute over dowry. Ours is a wealthy family and we needed no item as dowry. The relations between my son and daughter-in-law got strained on small things. Her mother and maternal uncle, perhaps, wanted to break the partnership of the couple, he alleged.

Meanwhile, Mr Mohan Lal, father-in-law of Sunil Kalash and commission agent by profession, told reporters at his New Suraj Nagri residence that the matter was referred to the police, as his daughter had complained of intimidation by the in-laws for the past five years and was residing with her parents here. The police had summoned the in-laws on June 19. However, only Sunil arrived here on June 4 and was staying at a hotel here. He scaled the boundary wall of our residence and smashed glasspanes of a room. As he intended to create nuisance, we called security guards deployed at the residence of Prof Brij Lal Rinwa, state BJP president and our neighbour. On this, Sunil hit at his own neck with a broken piece of glass and fell down, he added.


Durgiana Temple gets notices
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 9
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has issued notices to the Durgiana Temple here to make payments to the tune of Rs 2.66 lakh.

The notices, dated June 2, have given the temple committee 15 days to comply, failing which the temple and its auxiliary units could face power disconnection.

Meanwhile, Mr Surinder Kumar Billa, chief of the All-India Hindu Shiv Sena, said that the new temple management committee, headed by Mr Surinder Arjun, was defaulting on the payment of electricity dues.

With this, the ongoing row between the Sena head and the temple management head intensified with a volley of allegations exchanged between the two. Mr Surinder Arjun said the bank accounts of the temple remained sealed following the take-over of the management in October last year, and power bills had remained pending since then.

“Since no payments were allowed to be withdrawn from temple accounts, these could not be cleared in time but clarified that the dues would be cleared soon”.


Youth can help in curbing social evils: DC
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 9
The youth are a precious asset of society. They can play an important role in curbing social evils like drug addiction, dowry and female foeticide. This was stated by Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a meeting of representatives of various youth clubs of the district here today.

He said such meetings would be held regularly to guide and motivate the youth so that they could contribute towards the development of society. He said the clubs showing good results would be honoured.

Addressing the meeting, district youth coordinater Uttamjot Singh assured the members of various clubs of full support to fight social evils. He also assured the Deputy Commissioner that no stone would be left unturned to use the energies and potential of the youth.

Later, the Deputy Commissioner, addressing a meeting of Child Development and Project Officers, directed them to complete the survey of physically handicapped persons and widows by July 10 so that artificial limbs, hearing aids and tricycles could be distributed at the earliest to the needy.


Villagers gherao bank officials
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 9
Residents of Lehra Khanna village in the district along with activists of the BKU(E) today gheraoed officials of Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) when they heard that the officials had come to arrest at defaulting farmer.

As per the information Mr Natha Singh, a resident of Lehra Khanna village, had not returned a loan taken from the Nathana branch of the PADB. A team headed by Manager of Nathana branch Hakam Singh had gone to Natha Singh in connection with that loan.

When the news spread that the officials had allegedly come to arrest the farmer the residents of the village assembled at a place. The villagers, including women, gheraoed the officials of PADB for more than two hours. The villagers alleged that although Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had assured that no defaulting farmer would be arrested, but the officials were not following his instructions.

The bank officials later lodged a complaint with the police.


Fire in factory

Hoshiarpur, June 9
Fire broke out at Punjab Latex & Surgical Pvt Ltd., Nasrala, 10 km from here, today.

The fire brigades of the Municipal Council Hoshiarpur, and Sonalika International Tractors were summoned. After struggling for one and a half hours, they brought the flames under control. OC


BKU (E) members meet DC
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 9
Members of the district unit of the BKU (E) today met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Agarwal, to apprise him of the demands of farmers.

Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district president of the union, said in a press note that they had informed the Deputy Commissioner that the dafaulting farmers were being arrested, although the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had assured that farmers who had not repaid their loans would not be arrested.

The union members also urged the Deputy Commissioner to take action against the dealers selling fake and spurious seeds, pesticides and fertilisers. 


Farmers gherao PSEB office
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 9
Farmers of Khehra, Dalake, Sakhira, Jhamke, Noorpur, Jeobala, Sran, Manochahal Kalam, Manochahal. Al Khurd villages gheraoed the office of the SDO, PSEB, Manochahal Kalam Subdivision, against the imposition of power bills on tubewells of the farmers. The Kisan Sangharsh Committee raised the demands of the farmers like 14 hours daily power supply and shifting of the burnt out transformers within 24 hours. Mr Kamwalpreet Pannu, Mr Satnam Singh and other farmers’ leaders addressed the gathering.


5 escape from police custody
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 9
Five members of a gang of “kale kachhewale” escaped from Dasuya police station at 1.50. am. They have been identified as Abhishek, alias Neef, Rashid, alias Dharkan, Lukman, Salim alias Moohaat Hassan and Sitar.

According to police sources, all aforesaid members who used to kill persons for looting were being interrogated.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur, told mediapersons that a case under Sections 223 and 224 of the IPC had been registered against Joginder Singh ASI, Virsa Singh, Munshi, Kulwant Singh, constable, Mohinder Singh and Harbhajan Singh both Homeguards, who were on duty.

They had been suspended and sent to the police lines.

According to the UNI report, the criminals were among the seven members of the gang, who were brought from the Gurdaspur jail on remand on May 27.


Bodies of two murdered men found
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 9
Kuldeep Singh, a resident of Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar, along with Damanpreet Singh of the Bhadar Kali area, were found murdered in the fields near Iban Kalan village late last evening. The police found scars of some sharp-edged weapon on the bodies of the two.

According to reports of June 7 evening, Kuldeep Singh, who used to run a stall of readymade clothes in partnership with Manjit Singh, near Gurdwara Baba Deep Singh Shaheed at Guru Nanak Pura, went with Raju, a resident of Kot Baba Deep Singh , on the motor cycle of Manjit Singh and never returned .

Kulbeer Singh, brother of the deceased, in the complaint lodged at Sadar police station stated that several persons informed him that some unidentified persons had killed his brother and his body had been found along with another person in the fields at Iban Kalan. A case has been registered under Section 302 of the IPC. 


80 pc Fazilka schools without principals
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 9
Notwithstanding the rationalisation exercise of the Education Department, Punjab, about 82 per cent of the government higher and senior secondary schools of this subdivision are running without heads. There are a total 33 higher and senior secondary schools in this subdivision of which 27 schools are running without principals and headmasters. These schools are being run by senior teachers acting as officiating heads. The reason behind the schools remaining without heads is that the Punjab Government has neither promoted anyone since long nor new heads have been recruited.

These schools are functioning without heads for the past two to 10 years. There are 18 schools in which no regular head has ever been appointed since their upgradation. According to available official figures of the 16 high schools in rural areas headmasters are posted in only two schools of Mauzam and Banwala Hanuwanta villages. The remaining schools running without heads are Arniwala, Kamalwala, Chack Banwala, Kirianwali, Behak Bodla, Hasta Kalan, Shajrana, Chaurianwali, Khui Khera, Bandiwala, Asafwala, Wazidpur Kattianwali, Kabul Shah Khuban and Pakkan.

Likewise of the 17 senior secondary schools 15 schools including Senior Secondary School for boys at Fazilka are without regular principals. The remaining 14 schools are in the villages of Tahliwala Bodla, Lalowali, Nukerian, Azamwala, Dangar Khera, Kheonwali Dhab, Jandwala Bhimeshah, Nihal Khera, Jandwala Mirasangla, Ladhuka, Chimnewala and Patrewala.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, General Secretary, Government Secondary Teachers’ Union, Punjab, Ferozepore district has in statement issued here today urged the Punjab Government to carry out the rationalisation exercise with caution. The government should promote the senior lecturers and teachers as principals and headmasters to fill the vacancies. Moreover, these lecturers and teachers were on the verge of retirement. Their promotion should not entail any financial burden on the government ex-chequer, Mr Kalra added.

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