Saturday, June 14, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Talhan: SAD flays government decision on receiver
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
Did the management of Gurdwara Shaheedan at Talhan by handing over the control of the disputed shrine to the Damdami Taksal on Thursday morning scuttle the move of the state government to use an eminent Sikh high priest as a peace-maker?

The decision of the Punjab Government to appoint a receiver, sources said, was a sequel to the developments that took place inside the gurdwara after a central team of the All-India Congress Committee visited Talhan the previous day. The decision was more of a reaction than part of the government’s action plan to resolve the lingering dispute in the Dalit-dominated affluent village.

In fact, the government had managed to ensure that the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, did not attend the June 10 meeting of various Sikh organisations held at Gurdwara Teg Bahadur in Jalandhar. The Jathedar had expressed ignorance about an advertisement attributed to him, being inserted in certain newspapers on the eve of the June 10 meeting. The officials used the “advertisement controversy” not only to arrest Bhai Mohkam Singh of the Damdami Taksal, but also convince the Akal Takht Jathedar to stay away from the Jalandhar meeting on the plea that he belonged to the entire Sikh community and not a section of it.

There was a view in the government that either the Jathedar of Akal Takht or any other Sikh high priest, present or past, may be invited to Talhan to “address a joint meeting of both Jats and Dalits and then be requested to join both communities at a langar to defuse the crisis”.

This, it was suggested, should be done independent of the peace-making efforts being made by senior officials of the state, including Mr D.R. Bhatti, an Additional Director-General of Police. But the move to involve either the Jathedar of Akal Takht or even a former Jathedar of any other Takht fell through as it was overtaken by the events at Talhan.

On the other hand, Mr Bhatti was asked to go ahead with his “mission”. During his first attempt as a peacemaker on June 4, Mr Bhatti had successfully persuaded both Jats and Dalits for a settlement. But the settlement was scuttled at the last minute. Violence erupted on June 5, thus putting an end to his first mission. On June 9 when the situation looked tense, Mr Bhatti was again told to go back to Jalandhar and revive his efforts to bring the two communities together.

While a “peace formula” was being worked out, the management committee of the gurdwara decided to hand over the shrine to the Damdami Taksal, which reportedly defied the state government’s advice and directive to stay away from the “disputed shrine”. It led to some tension in the village which was defused late this afternoon as Jats holed up inside the gurdwara came out and facilitated its takeover by the receiver.

There have been instances when the government invoked Section 145, CrPC to appoint a receiver to manage the affairs of a place of worship, the most recent being the historic Sodhal temple in Jalandhar. But the government’s action of appointing a receiver was construed as “direct interference by the government in religious affairs of the Sikhs” by the leadership of the Shiromani Akali Dal. Besides Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC chief, and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, a Dalit Akali leader, also assailed the government move. The Akali leaders alleged that the Congress had been trying to interfere in the religious affairs of the Sikhs. “After its failure to get its nominee installed as the SGPC President, it was now trying to control gurdwaras. It first allowed the situation at Talhan drift towards violence and then promulgate Section 145, Cr PC. The management of the gurdwara was doing well and it had agreed to take two representatives of the Dalit community. The management of the gurdwara had also expressed total confidence in Mr Parkash Singh Badal and the SAD leadership, which infuriated the Congress Government,” they claimed.

In the recent past, there have been three instances when receivers were appointed for gurdwaras. Two of these were in Tarn Taran tehsil (Amritsar district) while the third one was in SAS Nagar. In one of the cases, the receiver was appointed by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission.


Badal blames govt for Talhan incidents
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 13
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal today said the appointment of a Receiver to manage the affairs of the Gurdwara Shaheedan at Talhan in Jalandhar district was part of a conspiracy of the Congress government to ensure Congress control over the management of the shrine.

Talking to newsmen here, Mr Badal said appointment of a Receiver instead of solving the problem had complicated it and aroused suspicion amongst the people about the intentions of the State government. He said a seven-member Committee of the SAD had visited the gurdwara and had been told by the people that the situation deteriorated due to the inability of the government to solve the matter since the past six months.

The former Chief Minister said the Congress government should tell the people why it had let the issue linger on for six months. He said the Talhan incident was the first incident of communal violence in the State. He said the government should take steps to assuage hurt feelings of all involved.

Mr Badal speaking on the speculation of his own arrest, said “when they will call me I will go”. 


Shift ADGP, demands VHP

Chandigarh, June 13
The Vishwa Hindu Parishad, (VHP) Punjab, has demanded that the ADGP, (Law and Order), Mr A.A. Siddiqui, be shifted to some other department from the border states, in view of the recent communal clashes in Talhan village. In a statement issued here today, they have stated that shifting of the IG and SSP was no solution as the responsibility of deteriorating law and order rests mainly with the ADGP (Law and order). TNS


VB team visits Narottam’s house
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Badal (Muktsar), June 13
A team of the Vigilance Bureau from SAS Nagar, comprising a DSP and an Inspector, today visited the house of Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon in this village to carry out a search in connection with the corruption case registered against him at the SAS Nagar police station.

However, the DSP, Mr Jaspal Singh, and the Inspector, Mr Gurmakh Singh, returned empty handed as they refused to carry out the search of the house in the absence of Mr Dhillon or his wife despite the fact that caretaker of the house Ved Parkash, villagers and some advocates asked them to search the house.

Instead of accepting the offer made by them, Mr Jaspal Singh asked them to record statements that the house was locked and hence they could not search it.

After some arguments, Mr Jaspal Singh managed to record the statement of Mr Gurtej Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh, 1 panchayat member, to establish the fact that the house was locked. He also got the signature of Mr Gurmeet Mann, an advocate, on the statements of Mr Gurtej Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh.

Mr Jaspal Singh assured them that the bureau would not seek further police remand of Mr Dhillon. He pointed out that now the search would be carried out by the Muktsar police as a case under various Acts had been registered against him in the Lambi police station.

He added that bureau officials had also put forward an argument before the Judicial Magistrate when Mr Dhillon was produced in a Kharar court that two days were too less to conduct search at Shimla, New Delhi and Badal. He said Mr Dhillon was accompanying another team led by the SP, Mr Jagdish Singh Kahlon.

When this correspondent asked Mr Jaspal Singh that whether two officials were able to carry out the search or have they come with the intention of recording the statement in connection with the fact that the house was locked, he replied that one of the members of the team was sitting in Gypsy. He said had any member of the family of Mr Dhillon present in the house, he could have carried out the search in the presence of four or five prominent villagers.

When asked that the brother and the sister-in-law of Mr Dhillon were present in the house, he said only those members should be present in the house whose name figured in the ration card issued by the Punjab Government in name of Mr Dhillon.


VB persecuting Narottam: wife
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
“My husband is being persecuted and not prosecuted,” alleges Ms Dilbans Dhillon, wife of Narotam Singh Dhillon, a cousin of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, holding that “her husband was being subjected to third degree methods by the Vigilance Bureau.”

Narotam Singh Dhillon was arrested on June 11 by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in connection with a case involving Hardip Singh, former Personal Assistant to Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

In a telegram sent to the Governor of Punjab and the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court, Ms Dhillon referred to the front page story in The Tribune and said another case had been “slapped on her husband” .

“He was being stripped naked, subjected to third-degree methods and forced to read out from a prepared statement,” she said in the telegram alleging that instead of Rule of Law, the “rule of jungle” was being followed in his case.

The Superintendent of Police, she alleged, had said he would effect recoveries as if they had been pre-organised. She urged the Governor and the Chief Justice to take action against delinquent officers and save her husband from any further “illegal and inhuman treatment. 


Biggest-ever narcotics haul, claim officials
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 13
With the arrest of two Nigerian and Kenyan nationals on Wednesday, Customs and BSF officials claimed to have seized such a large quantity of contraband from this part of the country for the first time.

Mr Parminder Singh, Additional Commissioner, Customs, Mr Rakesh Goel, Director, Narcotics Control Board, along with Mr Darbara Singh, officiating DIG BSF, and Mr Ishaul, Joint Director, BSF Intelligence, at a press conference here today said that the contraband seized from the Nigerian yesterday was cocaine and not heroin as reported earlier.

This is for the first time that such type of smuggling by human traffickers was detected through the Wagah joint check-post.

Both accused were businessmen in their respective countries. Mr Goel said in preliminary investigations, it was found that they were to be given $ 3000 for smuggling the consignment. The Nigerian national, Linus Emeke Nweke, revealed that the capsules were provided to him by some persons. He was to deliver these ‘goods’ to a contact at Delhi and the payment was to be made by the same contact.

On his interrogation, he revealed that he had swallowed 60 capsule-like packings, which contained cocaine and similar 10 packings had been inserted through his rectum. Out of these, 66 capsules had been recovered, which had yielded 1.120 kg of cocaine worth more than Rs 10 crore.

However, some more capsule-like packings were still to be recovered. The outer coverings were similar to the silver foil used for packing food, and inside it was a thick and hard plastic which contained the narcotics.

During investigation it came to light that the cocaine was manufactured in South America and later smuggled to Pakistan from where the smugglers hired the accused for trafficking. The accused has been remanded into custody remand for two days.

Mr Darbara Singh, while talking to The Tribune, said that the investigations would lead to more arrests.

The officials while answering the queries said whether the seizure made from the Kenyan, who was in police custody was cocaine or heroin was yet to be ascertained as the reports were awaited in this regard.

In another big haul of narcotics, officials of Customs Commissionerate, Amritsar, effected a seizure of 10.200 kg charas, 308 kg poppy husk and 45 kg poppy pods in Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir yesterday. This was the second seizure in the Kashmir valley in this quarter of the year. This was informed by the Customs officials here today.


42 pilgrims’ names deleted
Jatha to depart today
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
Fortytwo Sikh pilgrims find their names deleted from two lists which the SGPC and the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) had submitted to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for clearance to visit Pakistan. The jatha, which was to leave for Pakistan via the Wagha joint check post today, will now depart tomorrow.

First of all the MEA rejected the claim of 14 pilgrims for their ‘doubtful’ credentials’. Of the names rejected, 11 were forwarded by the SGPC and the remaining by the DSGMC.

However, the ordeal of pilgrims did not end here because when the documents along with the passports were forwarded with the Pakistan Embassy, New Delhi, it found the photos of 28 applicants not in order, hence their claims rejected.

The MEA has rejected the claim of even Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, whom the Union Government had been allowing as a special gesture to send the society’s jathas to Pakistan when the SGPC, then under the presidency of Bibi Jagir Kaur, had banned the jathas to visit Pakistan. When TNS spoke to Mr Bhullar at Ferozepore, he refused to comment on the denial of permission. He, however, said Mr Sohan Singh, treasurer, Bhai Mardana Yadgari Society, and Mr Balwinder Singh Jhabal of the Khalra Mission Committee were among the devotees who had been denied to visit Pakistan without assigning any reason by the MEA, after the formation of the Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (PSGPC) this is for the first time that a large number of pilgrims were denied permission.

Earlier, anxious pilgrims made frantic calls to know the fate of their applications. Till late evening SGPC officials could not tell whether the jatha would leave today.

On the other hand, Mr Sham Singh, Co-chairman, PSGPC, while talking to TNS on the telephone from Pakistan said all arrangements had been made to observe the martyrdom day of Guru Arjan Dev at Gurdwara Dera Sahib (Lahore). He said the PSGPC would implement the ‘maryada’ of Akal Takht in toto in all Sikh shrines in Pakistan. He claimed that this time no banner carrying inflammatory slogans had been put by the radical Sikh organisations on the premises of any gurdwara. He further said the PSGPC had decided not to honour any police official in uniform at the stage of any gurdwara.


Ex-Principal of medical college arrested
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 13
The Delhi Police has arrested Dr O.P. Mahajan, a suspended Principal of Government Medical College Amritsar, in connection with the removal of kidney of a donor without his consent. Dr Mahajan was the chairman of the authorisation committee for clearing the names of the donors.

Earlier, Dr Mahajan was arrested in connection with the multi-crore kidney scam but was released on bail.

It may be mentioned here that a donor, Sikandar, resident of Hapur (Uttar Pradesh), had lodged a complaint with the North Delhi Police that his kidney was removed forcibly at Ram Dass Kishori Lal Hospital here on March 27, 2001. The Delhi Police team scrutinised the records pertaining to the donor and the Delhi-based recipient Sushil Arya (42), who had allegedly hoodwinked the law-enforcing agencies by giving fake local address — 48, Kashmir Avenue.

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

It is learnt that names of more doctors have also been mentioned in the FIR. However, these doctors are already behind bars in connection with the multi-crore kidney scam.


Mysterious disease claims five lives

Faridkot, June 13
Five persons have died in Aryanwala village of this district due to a mysterious disease in the past 20 days.

According to sources, Vijay Kumar died last evening.

Others falling victims to the disease still to be identified were Shinderpal Singh, Malkit Singh, Mrs Tej Kaur and Shamsher Singh.

Punjab Health teams have visited the village for investigation. UNI


Saru complains to National Commission for Women
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 13
A former Punjabi University Fine Arts Department student Saru Rana, who had accused former varsity Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, of attempting to rape her, today appealed to the National Commission for Women to conduct an inquiry against suspended Fine Arts Department teacher Dr Saroj Rani whom she had accused of “using” students for her own benefits.

The letter, which was released to the press today, stated that she was approaching the National Commission for Women because she had come to know that Dr Rani had approached the commission claiming that she was being harassed by the varsity authorities. Dr Rani had also accused the varsity authorities of suspending her unfairly because charges had been framed against her in the attempt to rape case, even though she had been reinstated before to an earlier suspension in the same case.

Saru, in her letter to the commission, said when she was a student of the Fine Arts Department, Dr Rani was functioning as the Head of the Department. She said the teacher used to take students on study tours comprising two or three girls along with Dr J.S. Ahluwalia to far off places. She alleged girls who refused to be part of these trips were threatened and victimised, adding that the girl students were also compelled to go to the house of Dr Ahluwalia and to attend to various VIPs.

The former student said in 2001 four girls who had gone on a trip to Dehra Dun left the department and hostel immediately after return. She said she complained against this kind of coercion to Dr Ahluwalia following which her life was made into a hell. She alleged that a girl student was instigated to lodge an FIR against her and the varsity also requested the Vigilance Department to initiate an inquiry against her.

Saru alleged that following this Dr Rani had taken her to Dr Ahluwalia, who attempted to rape and molest her. She said an FIR was lodged in the case against him, which ultimately led to the dismissal of Dr Ahluwalia in April, 2002. She said Dr Rani was arrested and suspended for some time. She also claimed that the teacher had got her failed in the second year examination.

She said when she applied for exemption from practical examinations of the course while taking the second year papers, Dr Rani and her husband Dr Chaman Lal instigated the students of the Fine Arts Department to give a representation against the decision. She said when the atmosphere got further vitiated she herself decided not to sit for the examinations.


Hepatitis C cases on rise in Kotkapura
Our Correspondent

Bargari (Faridkot), June 13
Hopes of four local men to make it big in Arab countries were dashed when during medical examination they were found infected with hepatitis-C. They returned home from New Delhi after spending about 50,000-75,000 each for fee of the travel agents.

The four men, Mr Bhura Singh, son of Mr Mohan Singh, Mr Jaggi and Mr Babbu (both brothers), sons of Mr Maghar Singh and Mr Pargat Singh, son of Mr Mohinder Singh, all residents of Panjgrahi village had planned to go to Arab countries for better jobs but have been finding it hard to arrange money for the expensive treatment of hepatitis-C.

According to Peoples’ Forum Punjab, a registered NGO, 17 persons have been found to be infected with hepatitis-C in the Kotkapura block and the maximum number of patients were from Panjgrahi Kalan village and the possibility of an increase in the number of patients of the disease cannot be ruled out. Sources said that five patients of the disease have been found in a particular locality of the said village and the finger of suspicion has been pointed to some unregistered medical practitioners in the village.

Mr Beant Singh, a gram sewak, of the same village was found to be infected of this disease when he went to donate blood at a hospital in Ludhiana. Instead of helping his relative by donating blood, he had to get treatment for the disease. Two patients, Mr Darbara Singh (55) and his son Mr Jaskaran Singh (29) of village Lande, near Panjgrahi village are also infected by this disease. These two have been getting treatment from a hospital in Ludhiana. Similarly, Mr Jagjit Singh, of Saho Ki village, Mr Balwant Singh of Rajcana village and Mr Manjit Singh of Mallan village are infected with hepatitis-C.

Besides, Mr Tahal Singh, Mr Inderjit Singh, Mr Khem Chand, Mr Mukesh Kalra, Mr Mangat Singh, Mr Gurjinder Singh and Mr Gurmit Singh, all residents of Kotkapura town are also reportedly infected with hepatitis-C. Resentment prevails amongst these patients and their kin due to the high cost of private treatment and the unavailability of treatment from the state-run hospitals.

The sources said that due to the high cost of treatment some patients in the rural areas have been visiting the so-called godmen, Babas and other “doctors” who had been claiming to cure the disease without using medicines. The sources added that all posts of the doctor in the state run hospitals of Kotkapura block are vacant and the patients were forced to utilise services of the quacks. The sources said that the quacks have been re-using disposable syringes that have been leading to the spread of the disease.

The sources said that some doctors from a leading hospital of Ludhiana had been calling the patients in these localities urging them to get treatment for the disease at the earliest. The sources said that the cost of treatment of the disease was more than Rs 1 lakh as the injections had to be imported and the oral medicines used.


NGO to probe sale of blood
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
The Lawyers for Human Rights International, an NGO, yesterday formed a three-member panel, comprising of Mr Gurdev Singh, Mr Jagwinder Singh Gill, and Mr Sukhdarshan Kumar Sharma to inquire into the alleged incident of selling of blood from the local blood banks which had recently led to large scale protests.

In a statement issued here, Mr Surjit Singh Sohi, district unit president said the sale of blood clandestinely to private hospitals from the blood bank of the civil hospital had demoralised the blood donors. He said their body had concluded that prima facie the professional misconduct was apparent on the part of the two private doctors.

The incident had created large-scale resentment in the NGO involved in the blood donation drive and volunteers of the Aasra Welfare Society reportedly boycotted the blood donation drive. The Civil Surgeon had ordered an inquiry into the episode and the report was filed with the Deputy Commissioner, the outcome of which could not be known.

Sources said two units of blood were sold to Mrs Murti Kaur, a resident of Guru Nanak Pura Mohalla of the city on payment of huge sum of money.


Zoo ex-chief denied bail in assets case
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 13
Suspended Punjab Chief Warden (Zoos) Dr Vinod Sharma was today denied anticipatory bail in the disproportionate assets case registered against him by the State Vigilance Department.

Additional District and Sessions Judge K.C. Puri denied anticipatory bail to Dr Sharma. A case was registered against Dr Sharma at a Patiala Vigilance Police Station for possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income.

The case had been registered against the suspended officer after he had got bail in a case registered against him with regard to the purchase of meat and fodder for the Zoo.


PNB holds meeting with rice millers
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, June 13
Mr U.S. Bhargava, General Manager of Punjab National Bank, Punjab zone, has disclosed that the bank had set a target to interconnect its 500 branches by the V-set technology by the end of this financial year under the Core Banking Solution (CBS) scheme, besides providing tele-banking and tele-fax banking facilities.

Mr Bhargava was addressing a customer meet of rice mill owners of Jalalabad, Ladhuka, Guruharsahai and Fazilka here today. About 60 rice mill owners attended the meeting.

Highlighting the bank performance in the last financial year, he said the bank had touched the all-time high profit of Rs 842.20 crore and its total business stood at Rs 1,16,041 crore. He added that the Punjab zone had done the maximum business. Out of the 17 zones, Rs 20,000-crore business was of Punjab zone alone.

Mr Bhargava also promised to cover the local branch under the CBS scheme and interconnect the branch in the current financial year.

Later, rice millers discussed their problems with the GM, Mr Prem Kumar Valecha, Managing Director of the K.C. Group of Industries highlighted the problems being faced by the millers.

Mr Valecha demanded the reduction of processing charges, upfront fee and commitment charges pro-rata to other banks operating in the region. The GM assured to consider the demands.

Thanking the rice millers, Mr C.L. Mahajan, Senior Regional Manager of Ferozepore, assured them that the bank would take concrete steps to provide efficient and prompt customer service.


HC stays arrest of school clerk
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
The Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday stayed the arrest of a Ludhiana-based school clerk, accused of being involved in embezzlement of fee amount after forging the receipts and other documents.

Issuing the directions in an open court, Mr Justice S.S. Grewal also directed Ludhiana’s Senior Superintendent of Police to get an inquiry report into the matter by July 31. The Judge also asked clerk, Mr Baldev Singh, to join the investigation as and when asked to.

Mr Baldev Singh was apprehending arrest in a case registered at a Jagraon police station on December 12 under Sections 406, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. According to the prosecution, all accused in the case, in connivance with one another, had forged receipts and documents pertaining to the collection of the annual and admission fee. The prosecution had added that as per an audit report Rs 27, 79, 758 were embezzled in the 2000-01 session.

Seeking the grant of bail, Mr Baldev Singh’s counsel had contended that he was being implicated in the case. It took 13 months for the school authorities to get a first information report registered in the matter. The facts, too, were misrepresented.

Suspension stayed

Taking up a petition filed by the sarpanch of village Beh Nangal(Kamahi Devi) in Hoshiarpur district, Mr Dal Singh, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has stayed his suspension.

In his petition against the state of Punjab and four other respondents, Mr Dal Singh had earlier contended that an appeal had been filed against the suspension orders, along with an application for stay, but the case had been adjourned. It will now come up for further hearing on August 12.

Panchayat poll roster

Taking up a bunch of petitions seeking the quashing of a roster for Panchayat elections prepared by Amritsar’s Deputy Commissioner, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today fixed June 16 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Describing the roster as “arbitrary,” the petitioners had earlier contended that the Deputy Commissioner had prepared it without following the guidelines on reservation issued by the government. This, they had added, was done after rejecting the roster prepared by the Block Development and Panchayat Officers.

Giving details, counsel for the petitioners Dalbir Singh Pheruman had submitted that as per the roster certain villages, meant for the reserved category candidates in 1998, had not been de-reserved in 2003. The filing of nomination papers is expected to commence on June 16. The elections are scheduled to take place on June 29.


Charges false: club management
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 13
The Rajindra Gymkhana Club management today asserted that a member had filed a false case against it because he had been asked to explain his conduct following a complaint that he had beaten up another member in the card room of the club and snatched his gold chain, last week.

The club vice-president, Mr Kundan Singh Nagra, and joint secretary, Mr Deepak Kampani, along with six others members of the executive of the club today asserted that Mr Priya Brat Keher, who had filed an application before the Chief Judicial Magistrate listing alleged “irregularities” committed by the club management, was doing so because the club had issued a show-cause notice to him.

Mr Nagra said Mr Keher had preferred to approach the court in spite of the fact that he had been given time to explain his actions following a complaint filed by another member against him. Mr Magra said Mr Keher had filed an application in the court despite the fact that a criminal offence had been pending with the Senior Superintendent of Police.

Mr Nagra said false allegations had been listed in the complaint filed by Mr Keher. He said the club management did have Rs 28 lakh with it on account of money deposited by persons wanting to become members of the club. He said the amount had accumulated ever since the club came into being and had not been collected by the present Executive Committee.

On the issue of annual general meeting of the club, he said no balance sheets had been made during the past four years. He said the present executive had taken the responsibility of preparing the balance sheets and that three balance sheets had been prepared. He said the executive had also appointed an internal auditor besides a chartered accountant to note all accounts on a day-to-day basis. He said once the final balance sheet was prepared, the executive would hold its annual general meeting.

On the issue of Rs 5 lakh released as discretionary fund by the state Chief Minister, Mr Deepak Kampani said the executive had carried out renovation of the dining hall of the club through the money besides other works. He added that a utilisation certificate in this regard would be submitted to the Deputy Commissioner soon. Mr Kampani also claimed that the executive was not guilty of felling even a single tree, as claimed by Mr Keher in his application. Mr Kampani said the club management had instead planted 250 saplings along its boundary to beautify the surroundings.


19 Improvement Trusts revived
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
In a significant move, the Punjab Government today not only ordered the revival of 19 Improvement Trusts but also appointed their new chairpersons, thus setting in motion the exercise of political adjustment of party activists at the district level.

Soon after assuming office in the state, the Congress Government had ordered on April 4 last year the dissolution of all Improvements Trusts. Though the Improvement Trusts have been revived in all major cities and towns of Punjab, the notable omission has been that of Ludhiana.

The case of Ludhiana is pending, Mr G.R. Bansal, Additional Secretary, Local Government, said, revealing that there were only 20 Improvement Trusts in Punjab of which 19 had been activated today.

Though both Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief H.S. Hanspal, had been making public statements for the past couple of months that new Chairmen of various boards and corporations would be appointed soon, no such appointments had been made so far.

The appointment of chairpersons of Improvement Trusts are expected to work as catalysts to similar and higher “political adjustments”, thus strengthening speculation that the appointment of new chairpersons of corporations and boards would follow soon. It may step up political activity and lead to lobbying both here and in the union Capital as “clearance” of the party high command in such cases is considered necessary. Those in the run , besides MLAs — both past and present — are several senior Congress leaders who did not get the party ticket in the last assembly elections .

Among those adjusted today are the new district Congress chief of Jalandhar. Tejinder Singh Bittu and Ms Ratna, who was denied the party ticket from Amritsar in the last assembly elections. Also in the list are Mr R.P. Bali, a former MLA from Nangal, and Mr Jagmohan Singh, a former member of the state Legislative Council.

Earlier in the day, the Department of Local Government issued a notification to revive or create Improvement Trusts at Amritsar, Abohar, Kapurthala, Phagwara, Patiala, Nabha, Sangrur, Barnala, Malerkotla, Faridkot, Hoshiarpur, Moga, Gurdaspur, Batala, Pathankot, Jalandhar, Ropar, Bathinda and Khanna.

The following are the new chairpersons of Improvement Trusts revived today:

Amritsar — Ms Ratna ; Batala — Mr Lakhbir Singh Lodhinangal; Jalandhar — Mr Tejinder Singh Bittu; Phagwara — Mr H.S. Parmar; Kapurthala — Mr Kulwant Bhandan; Ropar — Mr R.P. Bali; Pathankot — Ch Rajbir Singh; Patiala — Mr K.K. Sharma; Faridkot — Mr Surinder Gupta; Bathinda — Mr Jagroop Singh Gill; Hoshiarpur — Mr Pawan Adiya; Moga — Mr Jagmohan Singh; Gurdaspur — Mr Ajay Varma; Khanna — Mr Bhalinder Singh; Sangrur — Mr Amandeep Singh Mansahia; Barnala — Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal; Malerkotla — Haji Saddique Ansari; Abohar — Mr Mathura Dass Hiteshi; and Nabha — Mr Om Parkash Dalla.


PSEB flying squad gheraoed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 13
A case was registered today against more than 16 persons off Sivian village of this district for their alleged involvement in gheraoing a flying squad of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) led by the Subdivisional Engineer (SDE), Mr Kanwaljit singh, during a raid in the village to check the theft of electricity.

The squad descended on the village early today and detected the theft of electricity by some households. When the checking was on, someone announced on the public address system of a religious place of the village that the team should be gheraoed.

After this, villagers started collecting and later gheraoed the team. However, the team managed to inform the police, which got them released.

On the complaint of Mr Kanwaljit Singh, SDE, a case under Sections 186, 353, 341, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC, was registered against Randhir Singh, Amrik Singh, Pappu Singh, Buta Singh and 13 others, but no arrest was made. 


4 sarpanches elected
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 13
Four sarpanches, Mr Keemti Lal of Ammerke village, Mr Jagtar Singh of Mehmoodpur village, Mr Baldev Singh of Daodpura village and Mr Baldev Singh of Thatha village, have been elected unopposed, official sources said today.


Farmers’ rally against PSEB privatisation
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 13
Hundreds of farmers today held a rally in the city to protest against the privatisation of power supply and irregular supply of electricity and sat on dharna in front of the local office of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB). Earlier activists of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta) (BKU,E) assembled in the New Subzi Mandi under the leadership of Mr Ram Singh Bhainibhaga, district president of the BKU(E) and raised slogans against the Captain Amarinder Government and officials of the PSEB.

The speakers highlighted the anti-farmer policies of the Congress government in the state. They demanded 24-hour power supply for the agriculture sector by imposing cuts on the industrial consumers. The farmers alleged that they got domestic power for eight or 10 hours in single phase only with repeated power cuts. This leads to shortage of drinking water also. The power supply to electric motors is less than six hours a day with repeated cuts, leading to wastage of water as the water could not reach the fields due to repeated power cuts. Mr Malook Singh Hirke, vice-president of the state unit of BKU(E) said that cheap electricity was being produced in other states. If the Punjab Government follows other states, cheap electricity can be supplied to the agriculture sector in the state. He alleged that Captain Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister Punjab had followed the path of capitalists like rulers of the Indian Government. He said that theft of electricity be checked by controlling bureaucracy of the PSEB which was out to privatize the board. He said that the BKU(E) will struggle for the release of farmers arrested for the recovery of loans and in future they will not allow the arrests of any farmer for recovery of loans. He said that the promises of the Congress government that no farmer would be arrested for the recovery of loans, was a false propaganda.

The cooperative banks are getting warrants daily to arrest the farmers. Among others who addressed the today’s dharna were Mr Inder Singh Bhainibhaga, vice-president of the state unit, Mr Jaspal Singh Ubha, district secretary and Mr Bhola Singh Bhainibhaga, block Mansa president. 


Do not pay power bills, BKU to farmers
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, June 13
The Kisan Sangarsh Committee and the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) have called upon the farmers to unite against the anti-Kisan policies of the Punjab government and has also asked farmers not to pay their power bills of tubewells.

The call was given today by leaders of both kisan organisations at a dharna organised in front of the office of PSEB superintending engineer, where hundreds of kisans took part. Mr Kanwarpreet Pannu, convener of the committee, Mr Jagtar Singh Uppal of the technical services union and other leaders addressing the farmers, condemned the Punjab government for withdrawing the free of cost power, reimposition of canal water charges, withdrawing of free power to the poor and the other anti-kisan and the anti poor policies of the Punjab Govt. The Kisan leaders demanded the cancellation of the recommendations of the Haldea committee, 14-hour power for the tubwells daily etc.


Dharna by BKU
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 13
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (E) today started an indefinite dharna near the Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) at Nathana village in the district to protest against registration of cases and arrest of defaulting farmers.

The agitating farmers raised slogans against the Punjab government. They said that the government was not paying any heed to their demands. The farmers said that although Punjab Chief Minister had said that no defaulting farmer would be arrested, the warrants against defaulting farmer were being issued.


Enact law for farm workers’ welfare’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 13
The All-India Agriculture Workers Union (AIAWU) yesterday urged the Union Government to enact ‘Comprehensive Central Legislation for Agriculture workers’ to save agriculture workers from the excesses of landlords and the police in the villages.

Addressing a press conference here, Comrade Chand Singh Chopra and Mr Suneet Chopra, vice-president and joint-secretary, respectively, of the AIAWU, added that with the passage of such legislation, women agriculture workers would also get wages equal to that of men workers. Besides, they would also get medical facilities during pregnancy and after that.

They also demanded that as the water table was falling rapidly in the villages, the government should provide subsidy to the agriculture workers for installing hand pumps for potable water. They also asked the government to conduct surveys to prepare Below Poverty Line (BPL) Cards of poor persons.

Comrade Chand Singh Chopra said they had also decided to support those candidates in panchayat elections in Punjab who believed in Leftist and progressive ideology. He also urged the Punjab government to withdraw hike in school and college fee with immediate effect.

Mr Suneet Chopra also demanded compensation for the agriculture workers for the drought period on the pattern of compensation to the farmers. He said his organisation would fight for this cause of the agriculture workers. He said they would launch mass movement in the country in October and November for protecting the interests of the agriculture workers.

Mr Suneet Chopra also stated that there were 7.46 crore agriculture workers in 1991 in the country while their number increased to 10.74 crore in 2001. He said the government should have to make a support base for them to avert hue and cry in the villages.


Canal water released for irrigation
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 13
Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, MLA, Fazilka and Parliamentary, Secretary, Punjab in a statement here today said that canal water in all distributaries of the Fazilka and Abohar areas had been released for irrigation on June 10. He said that till April 27, the farmers were supplied irrigation water through the canal regularly. The flow was stopped due to cleansing operation of the canals and water courses and some shortage of water.

The water flow was stopped by rotation in some of the distributaries and water courses. Now regular flow of canal water had commenced to ensure paddy sowing. Dr Rinwa denied all allegations of supplying irrigation water to Rajasthan out of the share of the Fazilka and Abohar areas. He described these charges as false and mischievous.

Dr Rinwa said that the Lambi distributary of Abohar division was closed down from May 23 to May 29 and the Malookpur distributary was shut down from May 30 to June 4, while the Arniwala and Panjawa distributaries were closed on June 5.

Dr Rinwa said it was not possible to transfer 4000 cusecs of water to Rajasthan, as the total capacity of Abohar division was 4100 cusecs. Likewise, the total capacity of the Fazilka, Jandwala and southern distributaries in the Fazilka areas was 745 cusecs. The water was run with optimum capacity in these distributaries from May 2 to May 27 and again released on June 10.

He claimed that canal water was available on all tail-end villages of Fazilka subdivision. Moreover, no farmer had brought any problem regarding the scarcity of irrigation water, added Mr Rinwa.


Lack of funds hits development work
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 13
The paucity of funds has not only affected various development activities in the district but also affected the newly constructed district administrative complex, where the situation is becoming worst day by day. Both lifts of the administrative complex have gone out of order causing inconvenience to the handicapped and the old, who come to get pensions and can not climb the stairs. The intercom system at the complex, which is the backbone of communication among various officers and officials, had also gone out of order affecting the working of different departments. Officials of the PWD (Electrical), who maintain the complex said the contract with the private contractors for the maintenance of lifts and intercom facility had lapsed due to the non availability of funds. They said two employees recruited for operating lifts had to be removed from service as no budget was given for their salaries.

Not only this, street lights around Gurdwara Fatehgarh Sahib, Gurdwara Jyoti Swarup Sahib, Officers Colony, district administrative complex, railway over bridge, octroi no. 4, on the main Chandigarh- Sirhind Road and in the VIP areas of the district were disconnected by the PSEB due to non payment of electricity bill. These lights remained out of order for a long time but due to the pressure from the then Deputy Commissioner Mr Vikas Partap, the local officials of the PSEB restored power supply. Official of the PWD told The Tribune that electricity bills worth Rs 10 lakh were pending since long and the Government had not released the funds, so they were unable to pay the bills.

Interestingly now the Public Works Department is trying to put the burden of these bills on Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib Municipal Council and they have written to the Government that since the entire area of street lights falls in the jurisdiction of Municipal Council, Sirhind- Fatehgarh Sahib, it is the duty of the council to maintain these street light and pay the bills. However, council officials are reluctant to oblige and are not ready to pay the bills and to undertake the maintenance alleging that the council did not have sufficient source of income to pay these bills.

Besides this the work on eight newly constructed houses has come to a standstill due to paucity of funds and officials are facing accommodation problem.

Mr Rajeshpal Singh Lalli, a senior SAD leader alleged that on the one hand the Congress Government was claiming that Rs 39 crore would be spent on the development of the district to commemorate the 300th anniversary of bricking alive of Sahibjadas but in reality all development projects sanctioned during the SAD regime had been hit due to paucity of funds.


2 convicts on parole held for smuggling
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 13
Two persons convicted for murder and undergoing sentence in the Central jail here started smuggling of narcotics when on parole. Bhola Singh, a resident of Mansa Khurd village and Baldev Singh, a resident of a village falling in district, were sentenced to life imprisonment for murder few years ago, were caught by the Talwandi Sabo police when they were smuggling opium. Nearly 1.5 kg of opium was recovered from their possession.

Mr Ashutosh Kumar, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, said that the police caught them smuggling opium during a campaign against criminals. He added that a case in this connection had been registered under the NDPS Act.

The motor cycle used by the accused in the crime had also been impounded. He said that investigations were on to find out the source of opium procured by the accused.

In another case, a resident of Kalyan Sukha village of this district, Raj Kumar was arrested for possessing a .12 bore country-made pistol along with two cartridges. A case under the Arms Act had been registered against him.

The police also arrested Gurmail Singh alias Gela, member of an interstate gang of smugglers.

He was wanted by the Bathinda and the Faridkot police in a number of smuggling cases registered against him. Another accused Iqbal Singh, a resident of Giana village was arrested and a stolen scooter recovered from him.

A case under Section 411 of the IPC had been registered against him. Another accused namely Pappi of Peyal village of Mansa district was arrested with 25 kg of poppy husk and a case in this connection was registered by the Raman Mandi police station.


Woman gives insecticide to 4 daughters, commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 13
Guddi (40), mother of five daughters, reportedly committed suicide yesterday after making her four daughters consume insecticide. This incident was reported from Hinjrasar village falling in Sri Ganganagar region bordering Abohar. The condition of four daughters was said to be critical, doctors at the district hospital there said.

Sources said Guddi married Sharvan Kumar. They had five daughters, one of them was handicapped. Guddi had taken four daughters Naurangi (4), Pemali (8), Chunni (10) and Bhanwari (12) with her to the fields, leaving behind the handicapped daughter at home. There she reportedly made them consume insecticide on the pretext medicine and consumed rest of the insecticide herself. After some time relatives and neighbours started a search for them. All were found unconscious in the field. They were first removed to a local hospital then shifted to the civil hospital at Sri Ganganagar. Guddi died on the way.

Sharvan Kumar could not understand the reason behind the mass suicide attempt. He had been living separate from his parents due to bickering in the family. Though poverty was a major reason for the desperate act, he felt. He confessed, Guddi had been cursing her luck for not having a male child and lack of means of livelihood. Her body was handed over to the husband today after a post-mortem examination, the police disposed of the case U/s 174, IPC sources said.


Married woman commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, June 13
Binder Kaur (23) of Chack Pakhi village, 20 km from here, allegedly committed suicide yesterday due to reported torture by her husband.

According to the FIR lodged with the sadar police Fazilka by Baldev Singh, maternal uncle of the deceased, Binder Kaur was married to Sulkhan Singh of Chack Pakhi village five years age. The couple was issueless. For this, Sulkhan Singh held Binder Kaur responsible and said that he would remarry. He also pressurised her to agree to his second marriage, for which she declined. As a result, he tortured her.

Binder Kaur reportedly consumed some poisonous substance. Upon this, Sulkhan Singh brought a car and took her for treatment, but she died before being hospitalised.

The police has registered a case under Section 306 of the IPC against Sulkhan Singh, who has absconded. The postmortem of the body was conducted at the local Civil Hospital and the viscera sent to Patiala for chemical analysis.


Prisoner escapes from hospital
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 13
Prisoner Gagandeep Singh son of Pal Sigh of Buddi village under Tanda police station of District Jail Hoshiarpur escaped from police custody from the local Civil Hospital in the early morning today. The duty nurse of Surgical Ward of the Hospital, where Gagandeep Singh was under treatment, found the prisoner missing from his bed at 6.45 a.m. during her round. She contacted the security guard who told her that Gagandeep had gone to the bathroom for taking bath after informing him. Later the bathroom and the hospital were checked but Gagandeep was not found anywhere.

Mr Roop Kumar Arora, Superintendent of the District Jail, said that Gagandeep sentenced to life imprisonment in a case of under Section 302 of the IPC had been transferred from District Jail Patiala to Hoshiarpur on May 22, 2002. He had some surgical problem and on the recommendations of jail doctors was sent to Civil Hospital Hoshiarpur on June 11 at 2.25 p.m. where he was admitted.

Ms Gurpreet, SSP told that all security guards including constables Vijay Kumar, Gurdeep Singh, Vijay Kumar and Kewal Singh and their in charge Head Constable Nirmal Singh of Civil Hospital had been suspended and were sent to the Police Lines. Departmental action was being taken against all of them. Besides a case had been registered against all of them in this connection.

Five members of Kale Kachhewale gang also escaped from police custody from Dasuya police station on June 8 night.


Two killed in land dispute
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 13
Two persons were killed and two others injured following a land dispute at Bahal village in Bhunerheri block, about 25 km from here this morning.

Police sources said the deceased had been identified as former village sarpanch Ram Singh and his grandson Rupinder Singh. Ram Singh’s son Malkit Singh was injured in the clash. One of the attackers Surjit Singh was also injured and is at present admitted to the Government Rajindra Hospital.

According to the police, the victims were going to their fields early this morning when they were waylaid by Surjit Singh and about 10 other persons, who started firing at them, besides attacking them with sharp-edged weapons. The other accused are Devinderjit Singh, Shamsher Singh, Namdev Singh, Amarjit Singh and Labh Singh besides others.

Meanwhile, district police chief Paramraj Singh Umranangal has taken a serious view of the incident and the Bhunerheri police chowki in charge Saranjit Singh has been transferred to the Police Lines. Other personnel posted in the police chowki have also been posted out following the incident. Further action is also likely against police personnel found wanting in performing their duties. According to sources, both parties were involved in a land dispute, which had been continuing for some time.


One killed in car-bus collision
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 13
One person was killed and another injured when the car in which they were travelling collided with a bus near the Hero Honda agency on the Sirhind road here today.

Police sources identified the deceased as Parveen Kumar, a resident of Khanna.

The injured has been identified as Rajesh Kumar and admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital here. A case has been registered in this connection.

In another case registered at the Sadar police station, a Suratgarh-based resident has complained that two persons divested him of his Qualis vehicle, near Channo, on the border with Sangrur district.

The report said Suratgarh resident Mohan Lal had given lift to two persons near Bathinda. It said the two persons offered a cold drink to Mohan Lal when they stopped at Channo which apparently had some tranqualiser as he became unconscious and awoke to find himself on the road.


Staff of DIETs await salary
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 13
Principals, senior lecturers, lecturers, class III and IV employees, working in various District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETs) in the state, have not been paid their salaries for the past couple of months, affecting the functioning of these institutes.

When this reporter today contacted the DIETs staff/ authorities over phone and personally at Ropar, Faridkot, Kapurthala and Sangrur, they confirmed that the staff members had not received the salaries for the months of April and May so far.

Sources said that in the past, the staff of the DIETs had been able to get their salaries for March, April and May every year on the basis of a certificate, issued to the Treasuries with regard to the issuance of salaries by the higher authorities, but this year the Treasuries had refused to pay the salary bills after March’s salary on the basis of the certificate, demanding budget allocation for passing the salary bills.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Ram Murti Goyal, district secretary, Government School Lecturers Union, and Mr Tarsem Lal, district secretary, Democratic Teachers Front, said that following the objection of the Treasuries, it seemed that the staff of various DIETs would not be able to get their salaries during the next several months. They said that in 2002, the staff of the local DIET had received their five month’s salary in November.

They further added that employees of the local DIET had also not been paid their TA and DA bills since April 2001 as no grant was released for the purpose by the government.

When contacted over the phone this afternoon, Mr Karnail Singh, Deputy Director, SCERT, Punjab, at Chandigarh, admitted that salaries to the staff of various DIETs had not been paid for the past couple of months, as the SCERT authorities had not received the grant for the purpose from the Union Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), though they had already sent a case to the MHRD for the purpose.


Education Dept staff begin dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 13
More than 450 employees of the ministerial cadre in the head office of the Education Department, Punjab, here, are on the warpath. They have initiated a relay strike in support of their demands. Fourteen employees today sat on dharna in Sector 17 to mark their protest.

Mr Ashok Kumar, president of the employees union, told Chandigarh Tribune that the workload on them has considerably increased in the past couple of decades. He said, “There were around 27,000 government teachers in Punjab in 1978 and the number has increased to 61,000 in 2002. However, number of ministerial employees in the head office, that deals with all kinds of work files pertaining to the government teachers of Punjab, has not increased since 1976.”

He said the ratio of ministerial staff should be increased at par with the increase in number of teachers. Moreover, the work done in the head office was purely manual and no modernisation plan has been mooted to streamline the functioning of the branches/wings of the Education Department.

Lashing out at the Punjab governments of the past couple of decades, Mr Ashok Kumar said there were only three branches and one minister and one IAS officer in the education department in 1976. However, with the passage of time, the Ministry of Education has been expanded and at present there are three ministers (separately for elementary/secondary, higher and technical education), and five IAS officers in the education department. Even the number of branches/wings dealing with Education Department have increased from two in the year 1976 to seven in the 2002 adding an extra financial burden on the state exchequer.

Other main demands of the ministerial staff included calling back the staff illegally attached in other offices, scheme wise posting of the employees against sanctioned posts, fixing of norms separately for teaching and non-teaching staff, filling the vacant posts of technical assistants on promotion from within the statistical officers, setting up of special inter-departmental audit wing, issuance of directions in the Assured Career Progressive Scheme (ACPS), releasing the report of the departmental promotion committee, initiating the construction work on ‘Vidhya Bhavan’ at SAS Nagar, to strengthen the legal cell, handing over of the work of examinations of Class VIII to the Education Directorate and transferring of 25 per cent of the total income from examination fees of Classes X and XII examinations to the directorate.

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