Thursday, June 12, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Graft cases: Badal for probe by HC Judge
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampuraphul, June 11
Former Chief Minister and President of the SAD Parkash Singh Badal today said the inquiry into allegations of corruption against political leaders and government functionaries should be either conducted by a sitting high court judge or the Lok Pal to bring the real picture to the surface.

Mr Badal, who was here to attend a social function, while talking to select mediapersons, pointed out that instead of handing over the inquiry to sitting judge of the high court or Lok Pal, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had been using the Vigilance Bureau Department as a tool against the Akali leaders and a propaganda had been launched against them to paint them black.

Cautioning the people about the serious consequences of the “malafide” intentions of Capt Amarinder Singh of using the Vigilance Bureau against functionaries and activists of a particular party to gain political mileage, Mr Badal said a meeting of SAD would be held in Chandigarh to work out the strategy to deal with the situation.

He said the Amarinder Singh government had not appointed a new Lok Pal despite the fact that Justice Sehgal, who was the Lok Pal of Punjab, had died about a year ago, as he feared exposure of his government’s “malfunctioning”.

He allegedly that Capt Amarinder Singh was trying to implicate him and his family members in a false case with the sole motive to frighten them as he (Mr Badal) had filed a defamation suit of Rs 5 crore against him (Capt Amarinder Singh).

To a question, he said SAD and SHSAD would contest the coming panchayat elections jointly.

To another question, he said SAD was not opposed to sending relief material to drought-hit Rajasthan by the Punjab Government but the Congress government of Punjab had been denying various facilities to farmers which had been extended to them by the previous SAD-BJP combine government, on one pretext or the other and had been arresting farmers, who had failed to repay their loans as they had been reeling under heavy debts.

He pointed out that Akal Takht had declared Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale as “martyr” to put the controversy in connection with his death in Operation Bluestar to rest. He added that there was no difference of opinion between SAD and the BJP over the issue pertaining to according the status of martyr to Sant Bhindranwale.

He alleged that during Congress rule, development had come to a standstill and people were being divided on caste lines as indicated by the Talhan episode.

MANSA (OC): Mr Parkash Singh Badal held Capt Amarinder Singh responsible for the communal disturbances in Jalandhar district as communal tension was brewing there for the past six months and the government had failed to take any action to control it.

He said SAD would send a seven-member committee to take stock of the situation Mr Badal was addressing a religious gathering at Bareh village in Budhlada subdivision of the district.

Regarding unity among the Akali factions, Mr Badal said, in principle the unity has been achieved and steps would be taken for the reconstitution of the organisation.


SAD threat to gherao govt offices
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 11
Thousands of workers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) at a meeting held here today threatened to paralyse the functioning of the state government in this district by gheraoing every office and immobilising the public transportation system if the party president, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, or his family members were arrested by the Congress government by “implicating” them in false criminal cases.

The workers from both rural and urban areas, also decided not to allow the Congress Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to violate democratic norms to finish his political opponents. A large number of women also participated in the meeting in this home district of Mr Badal.

Mr Manpreet Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha, Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, Ferozepore, along with other senior party leaders participated in the meeting.


Talhan: SAD blames it on admn
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 11
The seven-member team constituted by the SAD to probe Talhan village incident, today alleged that the use of excessive force to tackle clashes and violence in some parts of the district by the administration and the police on June 5 was the main reason behind the deterioration of law and order in the district.

The team, which was denied permission to visit curfew-clamped Talhan village this afternoon, visited violence hit Buta Mandi area and reviewed the situation. The team was scheduled to submit its report to party President Parkash Singh Badal tomorrow.

The team comprising former SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur, Ms Upinderjit Kaur, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, Mr Ajit Singh Kohar, Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Mr Sarwan Singh Phillaur, met the family of Vijay Kumar, who was killed in the police firing on June 5 and consoled the bereaved family. The team announced that the SGPC had decided to give Rs 1 lakh to the widow of the Vijay Kumar.

Later, they visited the local Civil Hospital and enquired after the injured in the police firing and caste clashes in Talhan village on June 5. Though the team had been assured by the administration that they would be allowed to visit the village, the Deputy Commissioner simply refused to issue curfew permits to them.

Talking to reporters, Bibi Jagir Kaur alleged that the slackness on the part of the administration to timely act had virtually resulted in deterioration of law and order situation in the entire district. “We have been told by the affected persons that the police had fired indiscriminately resulting into the death of a Dalit. Besides, use of excessive force to control violence had ultimately led to situation going from bad to worse, which is highly deplorable,” she added.

The team also interacted with the representatives of the Dalit Action Committee and other senior Dalit leaders to assess the ground situation. The Dalits ruled out any direct conflict with the Sikh and alleged that it was sheer failure of the administration to handle the issue, which had been hanging fire for the past more than five months.

Later, both managing committees of Gurdwara Baba Nihal Singh and the Dalit Action Committee agreed to the proposal that the Akali team should take initiative to resolve the issue amicably.


Police rough up, abduct Tribune lensman
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 11
In a case of police high-handedness, Jalandhar-based Tribune lensman S.S. Chopra was roughed up and abducted in a Gypsy on the orders of a DSP and a Punjab Police Inspector at Talhan village this morning despite possessing a valid curfew pass issued by the Jalandhar District Administration.

Mr Chopra, had gone to the village to cover the visit of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and other senior Congress leaders.

Meanwhile, the Punjab Chief Minister has assured that an inquiry would be held and the officials found guilty would be punished.

As soon as Mr Chopra, who was having a valid curfew pass issued by the district administration, reached Talhan village gurdwara at around 10.15 a.m, he was asked to stop by a DSP and Inspector Charanjit Singh, who questioned his movement in the area. When he told that he was a Press photographer and was having a valid curfew pass issued by the office of the Deputy Commissioner, the two officials bluntly told him to leave the place. Mr Chopra resisted saying he had a valid curfew pass. The two officials, who were said to be from some other district, called two constables and ordered them to bundle him in a Gypsy. Mr Chopra was left on the outskirts by the police party where he was again called by another DSP Harmohan Singh Sandhu and Duty Magistrate S.S. Khehra. They first enquired whether he had curfew pass. When he showed them the curfew pass, they ordered that he could not move in the village as this was an “order from the top”. They also called a police party along with a Gypsy and ordered constables to lift him forcibly. While he was taken to an undisclosed place by the police party, he was shifted to another police vehicle midway near Kaki village.

He was rescued only after a group of about 25 journalists and photographers, who were stopped at a police naka, saw him in the police vehicle. They chased the vehicle and parked their mobikes in front of it. Later, Mr Pawan Rai, SP, reached the spot and secured the release of Mr Chopra. The SSP, Mr Harpreet Sidhu, assured mediapersons that action would be taken against erring officials after submission of a written complaint. He also allowed mediapersons’ entry in the village.

Earlier, no mediaperson was allowed entry in the village and the police officials on duty told them that they had been instructed by the Deputy Commissioner not to allow entry of any journalist in the village even if they had valid curfew passes.

Later, the matter was taken up by mediapersons with the Punjab Chief Minister, who described the incident as “unfortunate” and assured that an enquiry would be instituted and anyone found guilty would be punished.


Talhan violence: SGPC wants govt to quit

Amritsar, June 11
Demanding the resignation of the Congress Government on moral grounds for failing to control communal violence in Talhan village, SGPC chief Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar has said the government has completely failed to control the communal tension in the area.

He said here yesterday the government had turned a blind eye to the simmering discontent in the area despite newspaper reports. Alleging that the Congress Government was using the divide-and-rule policy, the SGPC chief said they were awaiting the report of its seven-member fact-finding committee. He said the SGPC would expose the persons behind the violence.

The committee comprised Mr Partap Singh, advocate, Mr Gurnam Singh, Mr Harjinder Singh Dhami, Mr Davinder Singh Cheema, Mr Ranjit Singh, Mr Sukhbir Singh and Mr Saroop Singh. OC


Panel to resolve Talhan gurdwara issue
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 11
Keeping in view Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s stance that it was better if residents of Talhan village resolve the vexed Talhan gurdwara issue at the village level, the district administration today formed a 10-member committee — five each from the Dalit and Jat communities.

Headed by Mr Pravin Kumar, ADC, the committee, which would work for hammering out a solution to the problem, will also have five official members — Mr Sandip Hans, SDM Phillaur, Mr G.S. Khera, SDM, Jalandhar (II), Mr Pargat Singh, SP, PAP and Mr Rajinder Singh DSP Jalandhar-II Apart from this, Mr. Balwinderjit, Sarpanch of Talhan village, has been taken as an ex-officio member of the committee.

The committee was formed by the Deputy Commissioner Mr Ashok Gupta, after a meeting of the Punjab Chief Minister and other senior Congress leaders such as Dr Manmohan Singh and Ms Ambika Soni, with representatives of both sides at Talhan village this morning. 


Talhan clash: CPI for judicial probe
Our Correspondent

Chairman of Vigilance and Monetary Committee Bhan Singh Bhaura (R) presides over a meeting of the committee at Bathinda on Wednesday.
— Tribune photo Kulbir Beera. 

Bathinda, June 11
Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP and senior CPI leader, today demanded that a judicial inquiry should be conducted into the Talhan incidents so that the guilty are exposed and the “failure” of the civil officials is brought to light.

Speaking to mediapersons here today, he said the inquiry by a junior officer of the district administration was not sufficient to bring out the truth as the officer would not be able to write anything against his seniors.

He said that some political parties were exploiting the sentiments of the members of different castes for political gains. He said the people should identify such politicians and not fall a prey to their “designs of spreading hatred” among different communities.

Mr Bhaura who had visited the area recently said that the root cause of the problem was the huge offerings collected at the gurdwara in Talhan village. He added that the Jats wanted to maintain their supremacy in managing the affairs of the gurdwara and did not want to give due share of power to the Dalits, although the Dalits were in a majority in the village.

Meanwhile, the district unit of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD) has condemned the incident at Talhan village in Jalandhar district and requested the people to exercise restrain so that such incidents did not recur.

The party passed a resolution to this effect at a meeting held in local gurdwara today. The party said that the increasing number of incidents of clashes between different communities was a bad trend and efforts should be made by all to curb it.

Mr Ishatpal Singh Khialiwala, district president of the party, said the persons responsible for the death of Vijay Kumar in the clash between Jats and Dalits in Talhan should be punished and compensation paid to his family members.


Tension resurfaces in Hasanpur
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 11
Though the Jats and the Dalits of Hasanpur village, near Dhuri, reached a compromise to end confrontation between them yesterday, tension still prevails there as the Jats have allegedly “refused” to honour the agreement today.

Talking to TNS over the phone this evening, Mr Nikka Singh, a Dalit member of the Hasanpur village panchayat, said there was tension in the village as the Jats had refused to give them the possession of the shamlat land as per the agreement signed in the presence of district administration.

Appreciating the role of the administration, especially Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, Mr Nikka Singh added that on the direction of the administration the Dhuri Tehsildar, the Dhuri BDPO and the Dhuri SHO visited the Hasanpur village for the demarcation of the shamlat land.


Many heads may roll in Taksal
Bhindranwale’s death controversy
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 11
Damdami Taksal, also known as Bhindranwale Taksal, is contemplating action against Bhai Ajaib Singh Abhyasi, one of its senior functionaries, for attending the “Shaheedi samagam” of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale against the wishes of Baba Thakur Singh, acting chief of the Taksal, who still believes that the sant is alive and would re-emerge at an appropriate time.

The Taksal, once projected as nursery of militancy, has come into limelight again after the announcement by the SGPC and Akal Takht Jathedar that Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale was killed in Operation Bluestar and his death anniversary would be observed on June 6 every year. However, the tacit support to the “death theory” by a section of senior functionaries has resulted in “cold war” within the Taksal at a time when Baba Thakur Singh is abroad. However, there is another group within the Taksal which still toes the line of Baba Thakur Singh and believes that Sant Bhindranwale is in “chardi kala” (high spirits).

Bhai Satbir Singh, a senior functionary of the Taksal, said that he had sent all clippings of various newspapers to Baba Thakur Singh, who is in Canada these days. He said Baba Thakur Singh was the competent authority to speak on whether Sant Bhindranwale was alive.

On the other hand, certain radical organisations have urged Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht, to summon Baba Thakur Singh at Akal Takht for spreading “disinformation” for 19 years that Sant Bhindranwale was alive. It may be mentioned here that Sant Bhindranwale succeeded Sant Kartar Singh Khalsa as the 14th head of Damdami Taksal. However, Baba Thakur Singh was made acting head of the Taksal after Sant Bhindranwale “disappeared” at the time of Operation Bluestar in June 1984. Baba Thakur Singh is still acting head, as Taksal believes that Sant Bhindranwale would take over the charge from him whenever he “re-emerges”.

Talking to TNS, Bhai Satbir Singh admitted that Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht and a close relative of Sant Bhindranwale, had already announced that he had full faith in the theory of Baba Thakur Singh that Sant Bhindranwale is in “chardi kala”. Interestingly, when Jathedar Vedanti, on June 6, was announcing that Sant Bhindranwale died in Operation Bluestar, Bhai Rode was telling the congregation at Mehta Chowk that he (Sant Bhindranwale) was alive.

The conflicting approach of the relatives of Sant Bhindranwale has already put Baba Thakur Singh in an awkward position. It is reliably learnt that the section of the Taksal which wanted to resolve the controversy of Sant Bhindranwale forever had worked day and night to convince Bhai Isher Singh (son of Sant Bhindranwale) to accept ‘siropa’ from Jathedar of Akal Takht at the “Shaheedi sammagam” held at the Golden Temple.

It would be practically difficult for Baba Thakur Singh to oppose the SGPC and Jathedar Akal Takht who had already announced that Sant Bhindranwale was no more. In such a situation, the group which believed in the death theory would try to establish its supremacy by spreading the word that Baba Thakur Singh had been “misguiding” the Sikh Panth on this issue.


Landmine blasts: Red Cross seeks details
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 11
The International Red Cross Society and the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), a Geneva-based NGO working for the UN, have sought detailed reports on recent landmine explosions in border villages of the Fazilka sector.

Sources said the ICBL and the Red Cross were concerned over the news of casualties of children due to landmine explosions in the border areas where the Army had certified that the fields, occupied after attack on the Parliament on December 13, 2001, had been restored to its owner after the completion of de-mining process.

There had been explosions near Jalalabad West, Bareka village and latest at Ladhuka near Fazilka recently. The Indian chapter of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines had reported that the Army had not taken up the responsibility of treatment of the children injured due to explosions. All those injured or killed belonged to extremely poor families.

Dr Bal Kishan Kurve, Chairman of the Indian Chapter based at Nagpur, had visited the affected areas few months ago. He was told by residents of border villages that the state government or the Defence Ministry had not even offered substantial compensation to the persons who became disabled due to landmine explosions.

A local advocate, Mr Shshi Kant Gilhotra, had filed a PIL in the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking directions to pay suitable compensation for the land acquired for mining the areas and to those rendered disabled following the landmine explosions. The authorities had repeatedly said that compensation would be distributed among the affected people but no date had yet been fixed.

The ICBL in its survey had reported to the Geneva headquarters that in Ferozepore district alone 29,049 acres of land had been acquired to lay landmines in 506 villages. At least five persons, most of them children had been killed due to landmine explosions and nearly 60 were rendered disabled.

Two children had died as a landmine exploded in a house near Ladhuka on Monday while a third child was seriously injured. A minor shepherd was killed at Bareka, native village of Parliamentary Secretary Dr Mohinder Rinwa, last month. Six children were injured when a landmine exploded in a village near Jalalabad West. A farmer had died due to explosion in Ferozepore sector. Army officials in all such cases had claimed that rats might have taken away small sized landmines to their holes. After flooding the fields with water for irrigation the mines might have come out. The children, unaware of the consequences, play with such objects resulting in explosions and causalities. There was no provision of providing free of cost treatment to the civilians injured due to their own “negligence” the authorities had been arguing after each incident.

Lieut-Gen (retd) Gurvir Mann Singh, consultant to The International Red Cross Society said the Army should have launched awareness campaign in the affected areas. Neither the Union government nor the Army can escape their responsibility.


Petro dealers seek clearance of dues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 11
Anguished over the non-payment of petrol, oil, lubricant bills by the Punjab Government, the Punjab Petroleum Dealers Association (PPDA) has urged in a letter written to the Finance Minister to give direction to all Revenue officers of the state for releasing the payments by June 30.

In press note issued here today, Mr J.P. Khanna, president of the association, alleged that the district administrations and the Police Department used to procure petrol and diesel supplies on credit without making payment of previous bills. Expressing his resentment and condemning this attitude of the administrations and the Police department he warned them that those should desist from ‘forcible’ withdrawal of petrol and diesel from any outlet unless the previous payments were cleared.

Recently, he said, it was reported that the government had stopped all payments, including payments of such bills in the state. He alleged that this had made many dealers financially starved as 70 per cent of their capital had been blocked by the government and the dealers found themselves helpless to continue supply of petrol and diesel to the administrations and the Police Department.

In a fax message to the Finance Secretary, Mr Khanna urged him to instruct all treasury officers in the districts to release payments of petrol bills on a priority bases. The association threatened that any pressure on the dealers or forcible withdrawal of petrol, oil and lubricant from any outlet in the state would lead to closure of outlets in the entire state.


Police remand in PSEB case

Kharar, June 11
Mr Ranjan Kumar Khullar, Judicial, Magistrate, today remanded Ashwani Kumar, partner of Raj Krishan and Company in police custody till June 12, who had been arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on the charge of overcharging the Punjab State Electricity Board to the tune of Rs 58 lakh in connivance with officials of the board.

The court ordered that the accused should be produced at 12.30 a.m. in the court of the Ilaqa Magistrate.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor, and Mr Anil Kumar Sharma, Inspector, Vigilance Bureau pleaded for police remand of the accused and informed the court that the PSEB had decided to construct a power house near Rajpura, on the SYL canal and the work was allotted in February, 1988.

The firm was given work of dewatering of the spot where this power house was to be set up. They alleged that the accused in connivance with officials overcharged the board to the tune of Rs 58 lakh. They pleaded that more information was yet to be collected from the accused about other documents and two other partners of the firm.

The defence counsel refuted the charge of the prosecution. He said that the accused got the payment only of the work done by the firm. 


Arrangements for panchayat poll
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
Mr Anurag Agarwal, Deputy Commissioner, yesterday claimed that all arrangements had been made for the panchayat elections to be held on June 29.

In an official press note issued here yesterday, Mr Agarwal said as per instructions of the State Election Commission, a Returning Officer each had been appointed for a group of 15 villages.

He added that for villages falling in the Bathinda block, the following officers had been appointed returning officers: the Xen Central Works, Bathinda, the Divisional Engineer, PSTC (lining division 7), the District Manager, Punsup, Bathinda, and the Xen, Sirhind Canal, Bathinda.

For villages in the Nathana block, the returning officers are the Xen, Punjab Mandi Board, Bathinda, and the District Mandi Officer, Bathinda. For the Sangat block, the officers are the Xen, Thermal Plant (Enforcement), Bathinda, the Principal, ITI (Boys), and the District Manager, Forest Division Corporation, Bathinda.

For the Maur block, the returning officers are the Chief Agriculture Officer, Bathinda, and the District Manager, PRTC, Bathinda. For the Talwandi Sabo block, the officers are the Assistant Commissioner (Excise and Taxation), Bathinda, the Divisional Forest Officer, Bathinda, and the Xen, Public Health, Division No. 1 Bathinda.

For Rampura the returning officers are the Deputy Director, Local Bodies, Bathinda, and the Xen, Punjab Pollution Control Board, Bathinda. For the Phul block, the District Manager, Punjab Warehousing Corporation, Bathinda, the Sub-Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Bathinda. For the Bhagta block, the District Manager, Markfed, Bathinda, and the Xen B and R Division No. 1, Bathinda.

Mr Agarwal said the presiding officer of each polling station would be the Assistant Returning Officer. He added that the SDMs had been appointed election officers at the subdivision level. He said two meetings had been held to inform the returning officers about the election process.

The Deputy Commissioner said the SDMs concerned would train the polling staff at the subdivision level.


Chohan for separate Sikh state
Moots broad-based Khalistan front
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 11
Former Khalistan propagandist Jagjit Singh Chohan, today announced his intention to form a broad-based front, which will help set up Khalistan in a peaceful, democratic and constitutional way. He was in the city today to address a press conference on the issue of forming a Khalistan front.

He said his party, the Khalsa Raj Party, was in the process of discussing the concept of Khalistan with the intelligentia and leaders of various political groups and religious organisations. Mr Chohan said he had met many leaders of the AISSF, Akalis and the Khalistan Conference in this regard.

Representatives of the central leadership would also be invited to participate in seminars, debates and discussions on the issue. The headquarters of the front would be at Tanda, near Hoshiarpur, from where he started his medical practice in 1951. It would start functioning on October 1.

Mr Chohan, said political groups and religious organisations having a communal bent of mind would not be allowed to instigate people or use violent means. He also sought the registration of cases against former Director-General of Punjab Police. K.P.S. Gill and President of the All-India Anti-Terrorist Front, Maninderjit Singh Bitta for their crimes against humanity. The Z-security given to them should also be withdrawn.

Mr Chohan, who returned to India in 2001, after 21 years in the UK, said he still stood by his concept of Khalistan in the federal structure of the union nation. “I swear by the Indian Constitution which allows the formation of a federal state for the Sikhs indeed are a separate nation,” he asserted.

Khalistan would be a democratic state for members of all religions, castes and communities. Hindu, Harijan and Christian leaders would also be educated on the philosophy of Khalistan.


Octroi staff seek salary dues
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 11
The staff of the octroi contractor of the local Municipal Council have not been paid wages for the past seven months.

In a complaint to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, and the Labour Inspector, they have alleged that Sanjeev Kumar and Company, octroi contractor, employed them on August 16, 2002. Their monthly wage was fixed at Rs 2,500. They were paid just Rs 1,800 and Rs 1,500, respectively, for the first two months. After that none of the workers was paid anything. The workers also alleged that they were made to work 12 hours a day with the promise of overtime for extra working hours. However, no overtime was paid.

Recently, on May 28, the services of the workers were terminated without any prior notice. When they asked the contractor for their dues, they were sent away on an assurance that the dues would be paid off and they would be re-employed in the next contract.

The file containing the records of the workers has gone missing from the office of the Executive Officer of the Municipal Council. Sources said the Municipal Council had reported the matter of missing file of the police.

The police admitted that a complaint in this connection had been made by the council. They, however, added that it was asked to clarify that who should be held responsible for missing file. The council had, however, failed to provide the necessary information due to which the case had not been registered, the police added.

The Executive Officer of the council said he was not in a position to comment on the matter as he had joined only recently. He, however, assured to look into the matter.

The labourers, who have been issued identity cards by the contractor and have bill books of octroi collection they signed as proofs of their employment, have demanded that the district administration should make the contractor pay their salaries.


Stray cattle: govt may frame law
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
The Punjab Government is planning to set up a high-level committee to tackle the problem of stray cattle.

This was stated by Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandary, Dairy Development and Fisheries, here today while addressing mediapersons. For tackling the problem a new law could also be framed, he added.

Mr Kang, while holding farmers responsible for the menace, said the gaushalas were doing a good service by giving shelter to the cattle.

The minister said the panchayats should check the abandoning of cattle by farmers and make arrangements to send these to gaushalas.

There was a need for joint efforts by the NGOs, government departments and people to tackle problem, he added.

When he was asked whether there was any proposal to castrate the stray bulls, he said there was no such proposal yet but it could be considered by the government.

Mr Kang claimed that the government was making efforts so that the farmers should adopt the allied occupations like fishery, dairy farming etc. He claimed that the government was paying subsidies to the farmers for starting such occupations.

When his attention was drawn towards the fact that for the past about five years, the subsidies have not been paid to the farmers who want to adopt allied occupations, he blamed the previous Akali Dal government for the same. He said the Akalis had not utilised the money properly, in this regard.

About the failure of various dairy development projects started by the previous government in villages, Mr Kang said these were not viable as the concept was not suitable for Indian traditions.

“Under the projects, it was assumed that entire family of a farmer would shift to the place where he was given land for dairy farming, but given the customs in rural Punjab the women folk were not ready to live near the project site which were away from villages,” said Mr Kang.


PM’s Sadak Yojana faces cash crunch
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
Most of the potable water and development projects in this district have either not been started or are incomplete thanks to the paucity of funds.

This fact came to light at the first meeting of Vigilance and Monitory Committee (VMC) convened here today under the presidentship of its chairman, Mr Bhan Singh Bhaura, MP.

Mr Bhaura enquired about the progress of different development works in villages, was told by the department concerned that under the Rajiv Gandhi Drinking Water Scheme, only a sum of Rs 2.10 crore was received despite Rs 7 crore being sanctioned for the project.

The scheme was to be launched in 38 villages in the first phase. However, the projects could not even start in seven of the villages, while projects in other villages were still incomplete as funds were not available.

Similar is the fate of the Pradhan Mantri Sadak Yojana, which could not be implemented for lack of funds.

Under the Indira Awas Yojana, 102 houses were constructed for the members of the weaker sections in the district during past one year. Under the scheme a sum of Rs 20,000 was given by the government for the construction of the house, while Rs 10,000 was given for repair of the old houses.

Mr Bhaura asked the officials concerned to give him the list of the members of the Scheduled Caste who were paid money for the construction of houses under the scheme.

Mr Bhaura said the VMCs had been formed to keep a vigil so that the funds given for various development projects were properly utilised. Mr Bhaura nominated Mr Jagdish Ghai, Mr Jaswant Singh and Ms Amritpal Joga, all residents of the district, to the district committee. 


Pak spy’s hope of return rekindles

Amritsar, June 11
The recent peace overtures between India and Pakistan have rekindled the hope of Muktyar Ahmed 46, a Pakistani national languishing in Amritsar Central Jail for close to 12 years, of returning to his homeland.

Muktyar, who was arrested in December 1989 by the BSF near Indo-Pak border on charges of espionage and carrying opium, was sentenced to a seven-year imprisonment.

He served his sentence in the Patiala, Ferozepore and Amritsar jails till 1997, but even after five years of completion of the sentence, he is still imprisoned.

According to the Amritsar Jail Superintendent Hardip Singh Chabba, Muktyar completed his sentence five years ago, but the tardy and jarring process of law in Pakistan is reluctant enough to accept his repatriation despite umpteen reminders by the Indian Government in this regard.

Muktyar claims that his mail from Pakistan is subject to censor. But not annoyed with the Indian Government, he says, “acceding to my request, Indian Government placed my case before Pakistan.

“Consequently, Pak official held counselling with me in this regard and got my antecedents verified from the police station at Kasoor in Lahore, but nothing more has been done by the Pakistan Government to seek my repatriation”.

Mr Chabba says, “Unless the Pakistan Government accepts his repatriation, Muktyar cannot be released”.

Jail sources add, “In cases of espionage, the Pakistan authorities are often reluctant to accept their nationals for the fear that it would bring a bad name to their country”. PTI


From one unsafe building to another?
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

BATHINDA: The policemen posted in the unsafe building of City Kotwali have been feeling concerned as the authorities plan to shift it to the CIA police station, which was declared unsafe by the Punjab Government many years ago.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the authorities concerned planned to reconstruct a new building for City Kotwali by demolishing the existing building, one of the oldest ones in this city, after a letter was received from the higher authorities in this connection. Finding it difficult to find a private accommodation on rent for setting up the police station for some time, the authorities concerned have selected the CIA police station for shifting City Kotwali.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said two rooms constructed in the CIA police station were new and safe. These would be used by the Station House Officer (SHO) and other policemen. Tents would be pitched in the CIA police station for accommodating the police personnel. Adequate arrangements would be made for the criminal cell and “Malkhana”.

Sources said though the building of city police station was declared unsafe 11 years ago, the authorities concerned kept on using it as there was dearth of funds for constructing a new building for the kotwali.

Three years ago, the Punjab Government allocated Rs 8 lakh to the Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) for constructing a new building for City Kotwali. Work could not be taken up as this amount was not enough even to erect a boundary wall around the police station. Now the PPHC has been assured of adequate funds by the Punjab Government for constructing a new building for City Kotwali in this city.

Apart from City Kotwali and the CIA police station, a number of other police stations have been running in dilapidated buildings. Only the Kotfatta police station has been housed into a modern building.


Volunteers gear up for yatra langar
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
While the men in uniform have been protecting the pilgrims of the Amarnath yatra from the attacks of miscreants, a large number of volunteers from Punjab have been protecting the pilgrims from the vagaries of nature by running langars (community kitchens) during the yatra.

Mr Tarsem Chand Kala, general secretary, Shiv Bhole Shankar Welfare Club, says that the club has been running langars annually since 1993, when they first set up the langar at the holy Amarnath shrine. At that time, they incurred an expense of Rs 90,000 and this year their budget has risen to Rs 15 lakh. He says that their volunteers spread all over the country, including Baroda, Udhampur, Jaipur, Kolkata, Ahmedabad and Nagpur, collect money in the form of donations. The langars continue till the festival of Raksha Bandhan, which is the last day of the yatra.

He informs that their group of 40 volunteers will leave for the shrine in the first week of July with four truckloads of essential items. This year, they will carry four quintals of green packed vegetables, eight quintals of milk powder, 70 tins of desi ghee of 15 kg each, foodgrains, LPG cylinders, tea, sugar, medicines, tents, blankets, warm clothes etc. When his group returns, another one will replace it. He says that the total number of NGOs arranging langars at the shrine from all over the state is nearly 70.

Expressing satisfaction over the security arrangements for the yatra, Mr Kala says that their group was attacked only once in 1993. However, he alleges, that the Jammu & Kashmir police is corrupt and harasses the people. He alleges that the government sells essential items at exorbitant prices, like the LPG cylinder which is available for Rs 250 at the base camp is sold for Rs 1,200 at the shrine, just 15 km away. Simple quality rice; wheat flour and kerosene are also sold at high rates. He says that the government departments follow a 46-km route to take these items to the shrine instead of the 15-km one and repeated requests in this connection to the authorities concerned have fallen on deaf ears.

He laments that the NGOs have to get permission every year for holding the langars and the procedure has not been simplified by the authorities. The lakhs of pilgrims who visit the shrine every year also face problems in getting yatra cards. He is of the view that NGPs which have been holding langars regularly should be allowed to issue the cards.

Some other members of the club are unhappy over the fact that no compensation has been given to those killed in terrorist attacks in the Amarnath yatra. They allege that while the members belonging to a particular community are given subsidy for their pilgrimage to a place in an Arab country, those going to Amarnath or Kailash Mansarovar are taxed. The Jammu and Kashmir Government charges toll tax from the pilgrims twice.


24 hurt in group clash
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 11
As many as 24 persons, including nine women, were injured at Sangatpur village, near here, today when two groups of Dalits clashed over a land dispute.

The injured were hospitalised. Swords, spears and lathis were used by the two groups. However, timely intervention by the police, saved the situation.


Dr Sood’s appeal to PSHRC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 11
The Plastic Surgeron, Dr Harish Sood, today refuted allegations filed by the president of the Sarv Sanjhi India Party (SSIP), Mr Baljit Singh Nayak. Meanwhile, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the SSP, Patiala, to conduct an inquiry into the case of a Patiala boy who wanted to become a girl and would soon undergo operation.

While commenting on the issue, Dr Sood today said Amrik Singh was suffering from a disease called gender dysphoria and in this condition there is incompatibility between the mental sex and the physical sex of a person.

According to Dr Sood, sex change operation has no effect on the genetic system as there in no chance of reproduction after the operation.

He said it was in accordance with ethics of medical profession to provide treatment to the mental and physical incompatibility of the patient.

He has appealed to the Human Rights Commission not to interfere in the ethical duty of medical profession in providing mental and physical relief to the patients.


CBI inquiry sought

Bathinda, June 11
Mr Ved Parkash, a local resident and former President of Municipal Council, Raman Mandi has urged the Punjab Chief Minister to order a CBI inquiry into the alleged foul play in the sale of land of a flour mill for residential purposes in the city.

Mr Parkash in the letter to the Chief Minister has alleged that the owners of the mill had sold the land for construction of houses, which was against the law, as no industrial land could be used for residential purposes without permission of the authorities concerned.

Mr Parkash claimed that for many years the flour mill worked properly, however in 1999 the owners of the mill sold it to some residents of the city. He said that although the owners were authorised to sell the machinery and other moveable property, they could not sell the land. OC


Bank staff resent pay cut
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
Activists of the Bathinda Central Cooperative Bank Employees Union today held a gate rally in front of the bank on the call of Punjab State Cooperative Bank Employees Federation in protest against the orders of the government to cut their salaries. They threatened to intensify their agitation if the authorities did not accept their demands. They would hold a state-level rally in Chandigarh on June 18 in front of the office of the Registrar of Cooperative Societies.

Sources said the Punjab Government had issued a letter to the officials concerned to prune the salaries of the cooperative bank employees to bring them on a par with the employees of other government departments. The employees of these cooperative banks are paid salaries from the bank profits, which are more than what the state government pays to employees of some other departments. No money is being paid by the state government Treasury to foot the salary bills of the cooperative bank employees, the sources said.

Mr Parampal Singh Sidhu, district chief of the union said since they were paid from the profits of the bank, it would be wrong to reduce their salaries.


Lawyers flay lathi charge

Mansa, June 11
Members of the local Progressive Lawyers Association, at a meeting here today, condemned the action of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Mansa, Mr Kulwant Singh, who, on June 7, ordered lathicharge on labourers constructing sheds for lawyers in the new judicial court complex here.

The lawyers alleged that the action of the ADC was anti-lawyers and anti-labour. They said that if the ADC did not stop the activities, they would resort to agitation. OC


Soda water units raided
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 11
The district administration has raided three soda water making units, which had been manufacturing ‘spurious’ soft drinks under the name of popular brands in the town for many years.

Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said yesterday that a team of doctors and police officials raided Kartar Soda Water Factory, Billa Soda Water Factory and Kochar Soda Water Factory and seized 1,608 filled bottles and 432 empty bottles of soft drinks.

Owners of the units, Jagdish Kumar, Rajinder Singh and Krishan Lal, has been arrested and a case under Sections 420-272 and 273, IPC, and under Sections 7 and 16, Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954, has been registered.


DC recommends action against XEN
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 11
Taking a serious note of the absence of the Executive Engineer (XEN), PWD (B&R), from monthly meetings, the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, has written a letter to the Principal Secretary, PWD (B&R), recommending action against the erring official.

According to information available, the Deputy Commissioner yesterday called the monthly meetings of all department heads of the district. Mr Balwant Singh Shergil, ADC (D), brought to the notice of the DC that 69 roads, measuring 269 km, have damaged before time. The DC wanted to know reasons for the same from the XEN PWD, he was surprised that neither the XEN nor any staff member from his office had come to attend the meeting. The DC said that absence of any department head would not be tolerated.

The DC also conducted surprise raids at government ayurvedic dispensaries at Sirhind, Brahaman Majra and Anganwari centre Tarkhan Majra. Four employees of the dispensary at Sirhind, including a doctor, were found absent. At Anganwari centre only a helper was present.


Man held for killing cousin
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 11
The district police today arrested Kashmir Singh, a resident of Patti Sagwan Ki Chatiwind under Sultanwind police station, for allegedly poisoning his cousin Chain Singh to death.

Sulakhan Singh, son of the deceased, in a complaint lodged at Sultanwind police station stated that the accused had killed his father by giving some poisonous substance mixed in liquor. The body was found in the house of Kashmir Singh.

Dr S.K. Kalia, SP (Headquarters) confirmed the arrest of the accused. He said the post mortem of the body confirmed that Chain Singh was given poison. Some land dispute is said to be the reason behind the murder. Meanwhile, the police has arrested Gurmej Singh, a resident of Shahkot, Jalandhar, for allegedly possessing a fake passport. A case of cheating has been registered at Rajasansi police station.


Probe begins into poppy husk smuggling
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
The district police has started investigations into a complaint about the smuggling of poppy husk allegedly in a government vehicle.

Police sources said the complaint had been lodged against the president of the Rampura Phul Municipal Council. The sources said allegations in this connection had been made earlier also but the matter was being pursued seriously after the receipt of the complaint. The sources said in December, 2000, the said vehicle was under suspicion after the district police recovered 75 kg of opium. Mr Suresh Bahia, president, Rampura Phul Municipal Council, when contacted admitted that an anonymous complaint had been filed against him for smuggling opium.


French envoy visits varsity
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 11
The French Ambassador to India, Mr Dominique Gerard, during his visit to Guru Nanak Dev University last evening had an interaction on the higher education systems in India and France with the Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.P. Singh, and other faculty members.

Mr Gerard was apprised of various academic and research programmes run by the university. Mr Gerard stressed on educational exchange programmes between the universities of both countries.

The French Ambassador was also made aware of the prestigious publication, “Maharaja Ranjit Singh .... the French connection,” brought out by the university.

He was presented a memento and a set of university publications on the occasion.


ITIs start campus interviews
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
Campus recruitment which earlier used to be the monopoly of engineering and management colleges have been started by the industrial training institutes of the state. The Principal of the local ITI said here yesterday that the Technical Education Department of the Punjab Government had planned to introduce the campus recruitments of their successful students to various courses. He said the model had proved successful in engineering college all over the country.

He said as part of the series campus recruitment were conducted yesterday in which nearly 100 candidates from ITIs of Bathinda, Jaito, Patiala, Sunam, Budhladha, Faridkot and Moga participated.


Private colleges luring students
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 11
With the new academic session just to begin a competition has already started among various private colleges of the region, particularly those offering computer courses. These colleges have started setting up stalls and information centres at various examination centres.

The trend is not hard to digest as the large number of private colleges particularly those offering computer and management courses have been facing hardships to keep their ventures running, if not in profit. A cross section of students, who appeared in the joint entrance test for admission to Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET) said here that they had been receiving letters, pamphlets and information brochures from many private colleges, urging them to join their respective colleges.

The students said a few years ago they had to visit numerous colleges to get the required information about the courses being run by the colleges but now the same information was available at their doorsteps. Shivani, one such student, said these colleges not only offered information about their courses but also bargained in terms of fee, if a part of the same was paid on the spot. She said the trend of going for computer courses had declined after the seats in good courses like MCA were increased to such an extent that everybody managed to get a seat in one college or the other.


Coaching camp for students
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 11
A two-day coaching-cum-guidance camp for students preparing for the B.Ed entrance test scheduled for June 15 was organised by the Deputy Director of Employment, Patiala Division, at Punjabi University here today. Mr Daljit Singh, Director, Youth Services, presided over the camp, whereas Ms Paramjit Kaur Sandhu of the Department of Education, Ms Gurmeet Kaur, District Employment Officer, Mr A.B. Aggarwal, Mr Nardeep Singh and Mr Vikas Garg were resource persons.

Giving details of the camp, Mrs Surjit Kaur, Deputy Director, said the main purpose of the camp was to impart training on the B.Ed entrance test to those candidates who could not afford to join coaching academies for want of resources. She added that in the past also such camps had been organised for banks’ clerical examinations, ETT entrance examination, railway recruitment examination, etc.

More than 300 students who had applied for the entrance tests were called, of which 245 candidates attended the camp.


B.Com III, diploma results today

Amritsar, June 11
The results of B.Com (professional) part-III, postgraduate diploma in computer application, postgraduate diploma in information technology and postgraduate diploma in e-commerce of Guru Nanak Dev University will be declared on June 12. OC

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