Wednesday, June 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



NRIs may turn their back on Punjab
Vigilance cases against Narottam, Kanwal Sidhu
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Upset over the manner in which the cases against NRIs have been handled by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, representations have been made to the British Foreign Office in London to get Punjab declared “unsafe” for investments, quoting “political vendetta” as the reason for harassment of those who ventured to put their money in businesses in the state of their origin.

A written representation, according to sources, was also made to the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, in London yesterday about the manner in which five employees, including three senior functionaries of a multinational fast food company, were “allegedly rounded up from their homes in the union Capital in the wee hours and taken to Punjab where they were shown arrested in a corruption case”.

Sources in NRI circles in London reveal that a couple of top industrialists and businessmen, who have been seriously considering investments in hospitality and healthcare sectors in Punjab, are now having second thoughts.

“If the proximity to political powers at the time of making investments subsequently proves to be the root cause of harassment and political persecution, why should one burn one’s fingers,” remarked a successful businessman from London, revealing that his plans of “returning to Punjab were in the final stage when the news about what happened to Dhillons, Sidhus and Khangurrahs started tickling in. I have now decided to go to Gujarat, instead.”

He maintained that the British Foreign Office (BFO) may soon issue an advisory to those viewing Punjab as an investment destination. “The BFO is examining the representations it has already received,” he added.

Needless to say no NRI makes an investment unless he or she gets an assurance about the security and good returns on his or her investment. These assurances can come from the powers ruling the state. There have been several cases where at the instance of the Chief Minister or the ruling party, NRIs not only made investments but also gave generous “donations” for various civic and public projects.

Then there are NRIs who have set up secondary and tertiary healthcare centres in the state and invested in education, hospitality and other areas — all on assurance of the government of the time.

“Not only that, all political bigwigs, irrespective of their party affiliations, frequent the same group of affluent NRIs and enjoy their hospitality there and in return offer them some concessions, generally at the cost of the state exchequer for furthering their personal benefits,” remarked an NRI from Haryana, who has just returned to North America after his second trip to this region.

“I do not know whether to invest in Punjab and Haryana. If tomorrow I am to face inquiries and vigilance cases because of my proximity to one political leader or the other, why commit this blunder. I am happy where I am,” he said holding that he has put on hold all his plans for investment here.


VB charged with abuse of law
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Mr Mohinder Singh, an elder brother of Narottam Singh Dhillon, a nephew of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, today charged the Punjab Vigilance Bureau with blatant abuse of law in arresting and keeping under detention his NRI brother.

Addressing a joint press conference here today, Mohinder Singh and counsel Vikram Chaudhari said the bureau had found no evidence against Narottam yet and that he was in no way connected with the case against Badal’s former Officer on Special Duty, Hardeep Singh Bhamra.

It was also pre-posterous to link Narottam with the ISI of Pakistan, drug peddlers and terrorists.

The only motive was to somehow falsely implicate Badal, his son, Sukhbir, and other members of the family by taking recourse to totally baseless allegations and illegal methods they alleged.

Counsel Vikram Chaudhari refuted the bureau’s charge of Narottam recycling Badal’s sleaze money into NRI accounts.

He admitted that Narottam Singh had been sending money to the Badals since 1994 even when Parkash Singh Badal was not in power. His client, Mr Chaudhari said, could explain every penny of this legally acquired money.

The money had been given as a loan at a simple rate of interest of 10 per cent as part of a mutual family agreement. It was given to Mr Badal with the express purpose of building Orbit resorts.

They alleged Narottam, a chronic diabetic suffering from a spinal chord ailment, was being humiliated, tortured and mentally harassed. During custodial interrogation, he was stripped and subjected to third-degree torture by Vigilance Bureau officials, who were coercing him to issue a concocted statement implicating the Badal family in a false case.

Mr Babbli Badal, president of the SAS Nagar unit of SAD, was also present at the conference.


Parliamentary panel for Indo-Pak forum
Our Correspondent

Wagah June 17
“The recent rhetoric of General Musharraf and Mr L.K. Advani was unfortunate’’, said the veteran journalist and the leader of the Indian Parliamentary delegation Mr Kuldip Nayar.

The members of the delegation while speaking to mediapersons before crossing over to Pakistan expressed their hope that both the warring neighbours would soon sink their differences and usher in an era of peace, harmony, amity and friendship in the subcontinent and work for the welfare of people in both the countries.

Kuldip Nayar said he was fully convinced that Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee was making a sincere endeavour to bring about a thaw in the relationship between both the nations. He hoped that his efforts would bring about lasting peace in the region. Nayar said he had called on the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister before embarking on his mission under the track-II diplomacy to forge closer ties between the people of both the countries. He said the Foreign Minister, Mr Yashwant Sinha, had revealed that immediately after Mr Vajpayee’s offer for talks the cross-border terrorism had declined initially but after a few days the terrorists’ activities had increased again.

Answering questions regarding India’s offer of no first use of nuclear weapons, he said he would impress upon the Pakistan Government to also reciprocate to India’s offer.

Favouring a structured and continuous dialogue, Nayar reiterated that the talks should cover all issues ,including Kashmir and cross-border terrorism.

Nayyar said he would propose to his Pakistani counterparts to constitute an Indo-Pak Parliamentary Forum which should meet every two months to bring both countries closer and to establish a better rapport amongst the people. He said such a forum can play a very significant and a pivotal role to ease the tension among the two countries.

The delegation which comprises besides Nayar, Kartar Singh Duggal, Pawan Kumar Bansal from Congress, Laxman Seth, Abdul Rashid Shaheen from National Conference and Shaheed Siddique from the Samajwadi Party, left for Pakistan.

Nayyar said during their eight- day visit to Pakistan they would call on Prime Minister Jamali, Speaker of the Pakistan senate, members of the Pakistan National Assembly, journalists, human rights activists and a cross section of Pakistani people. The delegation will visit Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad before returning on June 25.

In their meeting with the Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh, and other faculty members the delegation member sought the views of intelligentsia for enhanced mutual understanding between both countries. The Vice-Chancellor and the Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr Satinder Singh, suggested regular exchange programmes between the two countries in fields of sports, academics, and cultural exchange as both countries shared a rich cultural heritage.


Sheenu, not Tulsa, is plus two topper’
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
Mr Jarnail Singh Sandhu, Principal, Guru Teg Bahadur Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Malout, has claimed that Sheenu Bansal a student of his school had topped in the state in the plus two (humanities) examination and not Tulsa of Ludhiana. The Punjab School Education Board declared on Sunday that Tulsa had got the first position in the state.

Mr Sandhu said Sheenu Bansal had secured 403 marks out of 450 i.e two marks more than what Tulsa secured. He said that similarly another student of the school, Anu Goyal, who got 400 marks, might have been placed at the third position in the state.

Mr Sandhu said that the result of these students was marked Result Late (RL) in the main list of the gazette of the PSEB, but it was given in the Supplementary List of the gazette. He said that while awarding positions PSEB authorities did not include the students whose result was declared in the supplementary list.

Mr Mohinder Veer Singh, Secretary, Punjab School Education Board, when contacted on phone said that they were looking into the matter. He added that a mistake might have occurred as the results of these students were in the supplementary list of the gazette. He said that after checking the result, the PSEB would issue a statement at SAS Nagar.


PSEB issues revised merit list
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, June 17
The Punjab School Education Board (PSEB) today issued a revised merit list for the Class XII (humanities and vocational groups) examination conducted in March.

According to the list, Sheenu Bansal of GTB Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Malout, has stood first, securing 403 marks out of a total of 450. Tulsa of BCM Senior Secondary School, Focal Point, Ludhiana, comes second with 401 marks. Anu Goel of GTB Khalsa Senior Secondary School, Malout, stands third with 400 marks.

Ms Narinder Kaur, Controller of Examinations, said that while drawing up the earlier merit list, board officials had not taken into account the supplementary list in the result gazette. She expressed regrets for the mistake.


Stray incident during curfew relaxation
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 17
The situation at Talhan village today remained normal during relaxation in curfew barring an incident in which some miscreants damaged the submersible pumps of three Jats by lowering these deep into the wells. Curfew was completely lifted in Buta Mandi area.

The district administration relaxed the curfew in two shifts at Talhan village for 9 hours from 7 a.m. to 12 noon and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The curfew relaxation period passed off peacefully. There was some tension when some Jats went to their fields for ploughing this morning and found their submersible pumps had been lowered down in the wells by unbolting the joints.

The three Jats — Teja Singh, Gajjan Singh and Rachpal Singh — reported the matter to the police, which rushed to the spot as the Jats had alleged that some Dalits were behind the incident. A case has been registered by the police.

Earlier, Mr Pawan Rai, SP, held separate meetings with representatives of both Dalits and Jats in the village and asked them to observe restraint as some anti-social forces were trying to disturb the hardearned peace and communal harmony in the village by indulging in such acts. It was suggested, during the meeting, to help the police in keeping a strict vigil on such elements by providing any information in this regard.

Meanwhile, the district administration has completely lifted curfew in Buta Mandi area as the situation was normal there for the past one week.


Woman’s torture: probe ordered
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, June 17
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has come to the rescue of a woman, allegedly detained and tortured by the police personnel at a police station at Patiala, and has directed the Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) of the commission to inquire and submit his report.

The SSP of Patiala has also been directed by the PSHRC to ensure the safety of the woman and her family members and to see to it that she is no longer harassed by the police.

Narrating her tales of woe in her complaint filed with the PSHRC, the victim, Ms Manjit Kaur, said she had registered a complaint against two women in the police station, Kotwali, Patiala. On May 28, when she went to the police station to enquire about her complaint, she was illegally detained by the police personnel.

Giving details the victim added that she was allegedly dragged into the room of a senior officer by the police personnel. Following the orders of the senior officer, two constables set on her back. She further alleged that she was beaten up by the police personnel till she lost consciousness. One of the persons present was asked to strangulate her and the senior officer ordered his subordinates to remove her clothes.

The victim further alleged that in the process, she suffered a fracture in her left foot. On May 30, she was produced in court for security proceedings, and throughout this period, she was illegally detained at the police station. Immediately after her release, she was admitted to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala. She prayed before the commission that since she was tortured by the police, no FIR was being registered.

A member of the PSHRC, Justice R.L. Anand observed, “Prima facie, the allegations do constitute a violation of human rights. Therefore, the commission has taken cognizance of the matter. The commission is also of the opinion that the complainant has been treated with force at the hands of male members of the police force while in the police station. Therefore, the inquiry in the case is entrusted to the ADGP of the commission, who is directed to submit his report on or before July 24.”

The PSHRC has also sent the copy of the order to the Principal Secretary (Home), Inspector-General of Police and to the SSP of Patiala for issuing directions to their subordinates concerned to extend full cooperation and assistance to the inquiry officer of the commission.


29 MLAs to head corporations, boards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The much-awaited appointment of chairpersons for various government-owned boards, corporations and Members of the Punjab Subordinate Services Selection Board were announced today by the Punjab Government.

As many as 29 persons, mostly sitting MLAs belonging to the ruling party, have been appointed chairpersons of public sector undertakings. As many as 10 persons, mostly politicians, have been appointed as Members, PSSSB.

In a way, by accommodating 19 MLAs as chairpersons of various boards and corporations, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has further consolidated his position in the Legislature wing of the party. Most of these boards and corporations are running in losses. The Punjab Disinvestment Commission has recommended winding up of most.

How such boards and corporations would be bear the financial burden of newly appointed chairpersons, only the government can answer. In fact, the unprecedented number of appointments made today may become a major political controversy in the state that has been facing a financial crisis for long. As many as 49 MLAs, 30 as Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries and 19 as Chairpersons, have been accommodated by the Chief Minister, who seems to have attempted to eliminate any chance of dissidence in the party. There are 67 MLAs owing allegiance to the ruling party. Out of them 62 won on the Congress ticket, two joined the Congress later quitting the CPI and three are Independents who have announced their support to the ruling party. While making the appointments, staunch supporters of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, such as Mr Raj Khurana, have been ignored.

Among the political appointments made, the larger share has gone to Patiala, the native place of the Chief Minister. As many as six persons from Patiala have been accommodated. Mr Gurjant Singh Kutiwal, MLA from Pucca Kalan, who joined the Congress quitting the CPI , has been made Chairman of the Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation.

Mr Harjinder Singh Thekedar, MLA from Amritsar ( South) has been made Chairman, Punjab Backward Classes Land Development and Finance Corporation. Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj, a close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh’s family, has been appointed Chairman of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation.

Mr Sant Ram Singla, another loyalist of the Chief Minister from Patiala, has been appointed Chairman of the most important and cash-rich Punjab Mandi Board. Mr Singla had left the Patiala Lok Sabha seat for Mrs Parneet Kaur, wife of the Chief Minister.

Mr Jasbir Singh, a former minister from Sangrur, has been appointed Chairman of the Punjab Agro Industries Corporation, Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, Congress MLA from Balluana (Ferozepore) has been appointed Chairman of the Punjab Waster Land Development and Land Use Board. Mr Romal Chand, MLA from Narot Mehra, has been made Chairman of PUNSEED. Mr Parminder Singh Sandhu, a former MLA from Amritsar, has been appointed Chairman of Punjab Recorders.

Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MLA from Fatehgarh Churian, has been appointed Chairman of PUNSUP, another important organisation. Mr Ashok Sharma, MLA from Pathankot, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Tourism Development Corporation. Mr Jasbir Singh Dhimpa, MLA from Beas and former President of the Punjab Youth Congress, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board.

Mr Sunil Jakhar, MLA from Abohar, who is son of former Union Minister, Balram Jakhar, has been appointed Administrative Member of the Punjab State Electricity Board. Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, a close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh, has been appointed Chairman, PRTC. Mrs Harbans Kaur Dullo, MLA from Khanna and wife of Mr Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP from Ropar, will head the Punjab Forest Development Corporation.

Mr Raman Bhalla, a former Minister from Pathankot, has been appointed Chairman of the PSIDC and Mr Jugal Kishore Sharma, MLA from Amritsar (North), has been accommodated as Chairperson of the Punjab Khadi Board. Mr Ram Lubhaya, MLA from Sham Churasi, has been made Chairman of the Punjab State Industrial Export Corporation.

Rana K.P. Singh, MLA from Nangal, has been appointed Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board. Mr Tarlochan Singh, MLA from Banga, has been made Chairman of Punjab Agri Export Corporation. Mr Om Parkash Soni, MLA from Amritsar (west) has been appointed Chairman of the Punjab Agro Food Grains Corporation. Mrs Aruna Chaudhary, MLA from Dina Nagar, has been made Chairperson of Punjab Infotech.

Mr Sawinder Singh Kathunangal, MLA from Majitha, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Dairy Development Board and Mr Ripjit Singh Brar, brother of Mr Jagmeet Brar, Chairman of Punjab Energy Development Authority. Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, MLA and daughter of the late, Beant Singh, has been made Chairperson, Panjab University Textbook Board.

Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, MLA from Jalandhar, has been made Chairman, ESPL, and Dr Raj Kumar, MLA from Verka, Chairman of Punjab Alkalies and Chemical. Ms Sushil Mahajan, a former Minister, has been appointed Chairperson, Punjab Technical Education Board. Col C.D. Kamboj (retd) has been made Chairman of the Punjab Health Systems Corporation. Mr Rajbir Singh Ajnala, son of the late Harcharan Singh Ajnala, has been made Chairman of the Punjab Livestock Development Board.

Mr Naresh Kataria from Makhu, Mr N.S. Sahota from Jalandhar, Mr Harinder Singh Jaurkian from Bathinda, Mr Joginder Nath from Hoshiarpur, Dr Harbans Kaur from Ludhiana, Mr Anil Mehta from Patiala, Mr Avtar Singh Sidhu from Muktsar, Mr K.S. Sehgal, from Patiala, Mr Kamal Bakshi from Gurdaspur and Mr Kanwaljit Singh from Patiala have been appointed Members of the PSSSB.


Confusion in Akali ranks over unity
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
Akali veterans, Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, may have achieved unity between themselves, but the move is yet to percolate down to the grass-roots level with workers of both the erstwhile Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal and the Shiromani Akali Dal filing their nomination papers for the coming panchayat elections.

The second day of the filing of nominations also did not bring about any coordination among workers of the two factions with many villages seeing workers of both factions filing their nomination papers.

Unity has apparently also not been achieved in the district Akali organisation. A district-level meeting held two days ago was not attended by a single Tohra loyalist and even some leaders of the SAD did not attend it. The meeting was organised to discuss the party’s strategy for the panchayat elections. A former minister, the Capt Kanwaljit Singh, and SGPC President, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, did not attend the meeting which was attended by former ministers Raja Narinder Singh and Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur besides Samana legislator Surjit Singh Rakhra. The factionalism in the district unit is such that even district rural president Kashmir Singh Mavi did not attend the meeting.

Capt Kanwaljit Singh, when quizzed on this today said the meeting schedule had been decided before the unity move. He said, however, when formal unity was achieved following a meeting of Mr Badal and Mr Tohra, the meeting was called off. He said as some Akali workers may have come for the meeting it was probably addressed by some leaders.


Arrangements for elections completed
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 17
The district administration has completed all the necessary arrangements for the smooth conduct of elections to be held on June 29, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Election Officer, while talking to Ludhiana Tribune here today. He said the process for filling nomination papers had started and would continue up to June 19 from 11 am to 3 pm daily, the scrutiny of the papers would be made on June 20, the withdrawals and the allotment of symbols would be made on June 21 and the polling, if any, would take place on June 29 from 8 am to 4 pm.

He said that 429 polling stations and 469 booths had been made and about 2,345 employees put on duty to conduct the elections. He said that 82 polling booths had been declared sensitive booths and arrangements of additional security would be made on these booths. He said that the entire district had been divided into 31 clusters and each cluster consisted of 13 to 15 villages. He said that there were 2,76,085 voters in the district and they would elect 429 sarpanches and 2,384 panches, out of these 926 would be from the general category, 708 women of general category, 494 women from the SC category and 267 from the BC category.


Panch allowed to file papers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Taking up a petition filed by a panch of Gumtali village in Jalandhar district, debarred from contesting panchayat election being held in the state of Punjab, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted the petitioner liberty to file nomination papers.

Challenging the order debarring her from contesting the polls, Manjeet Kaur, in her petition taken up by the Bench comprising Mr Justice Hemant Gupta and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, had earlier submitted that the same was passed on the ground that she had failed to attend the panchayat meetings from August to December, 2001.

The petitioner had further submitted that the valuable right of contesting the polls could not be taken away from her. The order debarring her from contesting the election could not be passed as she was not disqualified under the Punjab Election Commission Act.

Arguing before the court, counsel had submitted on the petitioner’s behalf that the allegations were not of serious nature. Describing the order as arbitrary and colourable exercise of power, he had added that the same was passed just prior to the elections as Manjeet Kaur was a strong candidate.


Move to appoint panchayat secys on contract
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 17
The Punjab Government is planning to appoint panchayat secretaries on a contract basis in the state. Under the scheme, 13 per cent seats will be reserved for ex-servicemen. District-level committees led by Deputy Commissioners will be constituted to complete the process, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said while talking to mediapersons at the office of the District Sainik Welfare Board here today. The Deputy commissioner, who is also the Chairman of the board, said in future the Deputy Director of the board would be on all selection committees to look after the interests of ex-servicemen.

He asked the Deputy Director of the board to formulate a plan to redress grievances of retired soldiers. Lt-Col N.S.S. Pal (retd), Deputy Director of the board, said the government had allocated a grant of Rs 20 lakh for pensions and widows.


Central observers sought for panchayat poll
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 17
Fearing a large-scale rigging by the Congress in the forthcoming panchayat elections in the state, a senior SAD leader, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhour, today demanded that the elections should be held under the supervision of the Central observers.

Mr Bhour, while talking to reporters here today, alleged that they had specific reports that the ruling Congress was planning to rig the forthcoming panchayat elections as its poularity graph had gone down drastically during its 15 months of rule.

He demanded that independent Central observers should be appointed to hold fair and free elections in the state. “The Akali Dal has considerable influence in countryside and the recent unity among both Akali factions will surely result in the defeat of the Congress-supported candidates,” he added.

Regarding the announcement of the party structure after formal unity between both Akali factions, he said a comprehensive draft was being prepared in this regard and a formal announcement would be made within a week.


Himachal CM to rescue of 7-year-old boy
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 17
Lucky, a seven-year-old boy, would never have dreamt even in his wildest dreams that Himachal Chief Minister Virbahdra Singh would come to his rescue one day by providing a grant of Rs 1.10 lakh for the treatment of a serious heart ailment, affecting his growth since birth.

The poverty-ridden partners of Lucky, hailing from Ball village in Kangra district, had been tired of making rounds of several hospitals in Himachal Pradesh and Chandigarh for treatment after he (Lucky) was found to be suffering from the Artrial Septal Defect (ASD) since birth.

Vikram Singh, father of Lucky and a labourer, had virtually lost all hopes of getting his son treated during the prolonged struggle spanning over seven years as even after toiling the whole day what he could managed was barely food for his family. What to talk about costly treatment, the family could not even afford to manage money for shuttling to different cities for check-up.

The much needed ray of hope, however, seemingly started making inroads into their life, when Major Vijay Singh Mankotia, Himachal Tourism Minister, visited Ball village last month to thank the electorate of his constituency for his victory in the Assembly elections. Most of the villagers took up the matter pertaining to serious heart ailment on Lucky with him.

The villagers, along with family members of Lucky, demanded that the state government should help the boy with a special grant to meet the expenses for his treatment since he was fast moving towards permanent disability.

Sensing the feelings of the villagers, Major Mankotia took along Kishori Lal, the village sarpanch, and met Mr Virbhadra singh at his residence, who, in turn, immediately ordered sanctioning of the requisite funds from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund for complete treatment of Lucky.

“We were told by the doctors that an open heart surgery was needed to be conducted on Lucky, who had a hole in the his heart. As we could not arrange the huge money involved, we approached Major Mankotia, who, inturn, impressed upon the CM to release Rs 1.10 lakh for treatment,” said Saroj, mother of Lucky.

Dr C.S. Pruthi, Director of local BBC Heart Care Centre, where Lucky was treated and operated upon, said since the surgery involved a number of intricacies because of the age of the boy it was conducted by a team of three senior cardiologists of the centre. “In fact, Lucky was suffering from Artrial Septal Defect (ASD), which caused breathlessness and had affected his growth as mot of the time in the past seven years, he remained affected from pneumonia.,” he maintained.

“I feel indebted to the almighty and the doctors, who have saved the life of my child,” a grateful mother said.


Book killers of prof Mann, daughter: PCCTU
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 17
The Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union today served an ultimatum on the government either book the killers of Prof Anokh Singh Mann and his daughter Ms Prabhjit Kaur (a student of M.Sc. I) in a fortnight or face an agitation.

Dr V.K. Tewari, General Secretary, PCCTU, sent a representation to the Punjab CM, the Home Secretary, the DGP and the SSP Amritsar, seeking intervention in this regard.

In a statement here today, Dr Tewari alleged that the culprits were being shielded. He said that on the night of May 27-28, Prof Anokh Singh Mann, his daughter Ms Prabhjit Kaur, were killed seriously, the other family members and maid-servant and looted cash and valuables from the house Pheruman in village near Rayya in Amritsar district.

Union activists attended the “Antim Ardas” of the deceased and were told that the wife of Prof Mann was still in a coma while other injured were hospitalised at Amritsar. The father-in-law of Mr Mann is a former Captain of Indian Army and he made pleas for justice and help from the government, he said. The crime had made the future of the survivors dark, rued Tewari.

Since the double murder and loot was the result of the breakdown of the law and order machinery, so proper compensation was solicited, he pleaded in his representation. The culprits who were being shielded must be punished as per law otherwise the union would be constrained to launch a protest, added Dr Tewari.


Funds for NCC cadets released
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Punjab Government has released funds to enable NCC cadets from the state to attend the National Integration Camp, being held at Kum Kalan, near Ludhiana. About 260 cadets from the state have been selected to attend the camp, which commenced today. Sources said that the NCC authorities have been asked to collect the funds from the District Treasury Officer, Ludhiana, on June 18, a day after the commencement of the camp.

It was reported in these columns that NCC cadets from Punjab were losing the opportunity to attend the National Integration Camp being organised in their own state as treasury officials had reportedly refused to release funds despite the state government’s sanction.

NCC officers had met Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Minister for Higher Education H.L. Johar. Following the meeting, a sum of Rs 1.25 lakh was sanctioned to meet the expenses of cadets attending the camp.


Bassi Pathana residents complain against doctor
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 17
Mr Manmohan Jargar, general secretary, Physically Handicapped Association, Punjab, and his brother, Mr Sham Sunder, secretary, Blood Donors Society, Bassi Pathana, have urged the Deputy Commissioner and SSP to save their lives from Dr Gurpreet Singh Padda of Gurpreet Nursing Home, Sirhind, as his wife has reportedly threatened them to eliminate. A delegation of residents of Bassi Pathana town led by Mr Varinder Rattan, president, District Beopar Mandal met the DC and SSP and submitted a memorandum in this regard. They also distributed copies of memorandum to the mediapersons.

Mr Manmohan Jargar, along with the members of delegation, said that last week he got a minor injury on his hand and he went to Gurpreet Hospital, Sirhind, for treatment. He said Dr Gurpreet put a simple bandage on his hand and demanded Rs 850 for the treatment. He said that when he objected to such a heavy amount for a minor treatment, the doctor got annoyed and started misbehaving with them. The doctor reportedly forcibly took Rs 750 from them and directed his staff to throw them out. He alleged that the doctor was known in the area for fleecing the patients. He said that he had complained to the Deputy Commissioner and Civil Surgeon urging them to probe how this doctor was fleecing the public particularly the poor patients. He alleged that there was a long list of patients fleeced by the doctor and with whom the doctor had allegedly misbehaved. He said that when the DC called for an explanation from the doctor, after that the doctor’s wife made a threatening telephone call at his residence.

Mr Jargar said that his brother, Mr Sham Sunder, received the call. Mr Sham Sunder alleged that the wife of the doctor threatened them and said she belonged to late Beant Singh’s family and if they did not withdraw their complaint, she would get them eliminated. He said that since the entire family was scared of this threat. He said that they told about the threat to the residents of the town. The residents then decided to bring the entire incident in the knowledge of the DC and SSP and demanded action against the doctor couple.

Meanwhile, taking a serious note of the incident the Deputy Commissioner has directed the Civil Surgeon to conduct an inquiry immediately and to take the action accordingly. The SSP was not available for comments.

When contacted, Dr Gurpreet Padda said that both the brothers had misbehaved with his wife and she must have reacted on telephone. He said that they were doctors and were here to increase clients and not to fight with the people. He said that the complaint against him was a part of a conspiracy by certain vested interests. He admitted that he had charged Rs 750 and had given explanation to the inquiry officer.


PSEB steps to check power theft
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman, Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), yesterday said to check power theft, electricity supply to various billing areas would be metered and the difference of power supply to the respective areas and the power billed in these areas would be reduced.

Mr Ratra, while addressing a press conference here, said various residential colonies in Punjab, including that of the PSEB, would be metered separately by installing a single power meter outside the same and the managers of the colonies would be made to pay for the difference of power metered and billed in such colonies. He said this measure would pinpoint the amount of power stolen in various residential pockets and billing clusters and the official in charge of the area would be asked to take steps for reducing the same.

Mr Ratra claimed that the farmers were being provided eight-hour uninterrupted power supply during the ongoing paddy transplantation and added that there was no shortage of power and the PSEB had entered into power purchase agreements with many states. He said all officials of the PSEB had been asked to remain at the headquarters during this paddy season and to attend to complainants during the first half of the day and to move in the fields during the other half.

Replying to a question, he said even as the power reforms were sure to be implemented, no decision had been taken on the privatisation, unbundling, dismantling or implementing the open access system in the state. He added that the surplus staff of some areas would be moved to areas which were short of manpower, adding that areas like Dharamkot and Jalalabad were such.


Guru Nanak Thermal Plant to be modernised
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 17
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has prepared various schemes for the improvement in power supply to consumers wherein new power substations would be set up, augmentation of the overloaded transformers, power conductors, computerisation of revenue accounting, meter reading and modernisation of the complaint centres.

Stating this in a press note here today, Mr Y.S. Ratra, chairman, PSEB, said that such schemes had been sanctioned for many cities of Punjab including Bathinda. He added that the old electro-magnetic power meters would be replaced with new electronic meters. He said that 5,000 meters had been replaced under the scheme.

Mr Ratra, who visited the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant today, said that even as this plant had outlived its life, it has won 23 different awards for saving oil consumption. He said that electrostatic precipitators (ESP) had been installed to reduce the emission of fly ash and one ammonia flu gas conditioning system had also been installed.

He said that to give a fresh lease of life to this plant Rs 183.04 crore would be spent and contract in this connection had already been awarded. The boilers of two units of this plant would be changed and the ESPs would be overhauled, which would add 20 years of life to this plant. The work is likely to be completed in the next two years and would also result in savings of coal consumption to the extent of 10 per cent, he added.

He added that a new 66 KV power substation would be constructed in the Paras Ram Nagar area of the city to take care of the entire trans-Railway population and another would be constructed on the Malout Road. He added that 25,000 new tubewell connections would be released to farmers in current year. He said that those tubewells to which power had been disconnected due to default of payments before February 1997, would be restored after realising arrears and Rs 5,000 per connection.


BKU (Ekta) ends dharna
Our Correspondent

Nathana (Bathinda), June 17
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) ended the indefinite dharna near the local Primary Agriculture Development Bank (PADB) when the five farmers released from Central Jail Bathinda reached here this afternoon.

The BKU (E) was on dharna for the past five days in protest against the arrest of farmers who had not repaid the loan taken for agricultural purposes.

Mr Joginder Singh Ugrahan, State President, of the union, said that the administration bowed before the pressure of the farmers, as they were right. He added that it the farmers had to resort to rallies, dharnas for getting their genuine demands accepted.

The other leaders of the union like state General secretary Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, district President, Mr Jhanda Singh Jethuke, district secretary Mr Shingara Singh Mann, while addressing the rally said that it was a victory for the union because they had fought a battle against injustice.

They said that for getting the other demands accepted they would resort to a massive agitation. They added that their other demands included registration of cases against dealers selling fake seed, fertilizers, insecticides etc, compensation to farmers who had to suffer due to failure of crops, withdrawal of cases against debt ridden farmers.

It may be mentioned that the BKU (E) activists had kept the manager of the bank ‘captive’ last night. The Manager was allowed to move out of the bank only when the district administration agreed to release the farmers lodged at Central Jail, Bathinda. An agreement to that affect was reached during the talks between Ms K.P. Brar, Additional Deputy Commissioner and office-bearers of the BKU (E) at around 10 p.m. on Monday night.

The Kisan Union leaders had told the administration last night that they would end the dharna only when farmers reach here.

Although the administration had assured last night that the arrested farmers would be released, but it seemed that the Kisan union did not have faith on the administration. They kept sitting on dharna till this afternoon. The announcement to end the dharna was made only when the farmer released from jail reached the dharna site.

Meanwhile five farmers namely Malkit Singh Maiserkhana, Karam Singh Jaisingwala, Nachhatar Singh Mehta, Kuljinder Singh Virkkhurd and Malkit Singh Mashana were released from the Central Jail, Bathinda this morning.


IMA: withdraw case against surgeon
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 17
The Punjab unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) today served an ultimatum on the Punjab Government to withdraw a case registered against a surgeon of Muktsar, Dr Vikramjit Singh, under Section 304-A, IPC (causing death by negligence) and issue guidelines to the police not to register cases against doctors without a probe by a panel, before June 25.

Talking to TNS here, Dr Surinder Singla, secretary of the Punjab IMA, said a final decision regarding a statewide agitation would be taken at the annual state council meeting of the association to be held in Amritsar on June 29.

Dr Singla said a case under Section 304-A, (IPC) should be registered against a doctor only after a probe by a panel comprising the district police chief or a police officer not below the rank of DSP, the Civil Surgeon or an SMO, a member of the IMA, a social worker, and an expert in the field of the disease due to which the patient died.


PSHRC orders probe into illegal raid
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, June 17
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has ordered an inquiry into the alleged illegal raid by the Malerkotla police on the house of Mr Nand Lal, son of Rafloo Ram, an employee of the Malerkotla Cold Storage near Bhogiwal.

In an affidavit given by Mr Nand Lal to the PSHRC the complainant alleged that an ASI of Malerkotla police and a home guard employee illegally raided his residence on November 23, 2002 and took away some valuable documents along with a sum of Rs 24,000 which had been drawn by him from a bank.

He requested the commission to look into the matter and take action against the culprits.

On his complaint Justice N.C. Jain, Chairperson of the PSHRC ordered the IGP (litigation), that the matter should be probed by a gazetted officer of the adjacent district and send his report within a period of four weeks.

According to Krishan Kumar, president of the District Consumer and Public Welfare Association, SP (City), Patiala, has started the inquiry and has recorded the statements of all persons concerned. The next date of hearing has been fixed for July 23.


Women’s dharna
Our Correspondent

Mansa, June 17
Hundreds of labourers, including women, here today sat in dharna in front of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raj Kamal Chaudhary, for three hours with empty pitchers on their heads which were later broken in front of his office. They were protesting against the rising incidents of attacks on downtrodden and labourers and closure of panchayat water taps.

The dharna was organised by the Mazdoor Mukti Morcha.


Dispensary staff found absent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 17
All the staff including doctors, were found absent from duty during a raid conducted by Deputy Commissioner S.K. Ahluwalia at ESI Dispensary, Mandi Gobindgarh. The raid was conducted at 12.15 p.m. The doctor had marked his attendance in the register, but he was not present. The DC ordered disciplinary action against the staff found absent. OC


Nursing council scam: 2 suspended

SAS Nagar, June 17
A preliminary probe into the bribery scam in the Punjab Nursing Council here has found two officials guilty of allegedly tampering with the records relating to examinations. The suspects have been suspended with immediate effect pending a regular inquiry.

Dr D. P. S. Sandhu, Director, Health Services, said today that the preliminary probe had been conducted by Dr Sukhdev Singh, Deputy Director. OC


5 new vegetable varieties cleared by PAU

Moga, June 17
The Variety Approval Committee of Punjab Agriculture University has given its approval for the release of new varieties of tomato hybrid TH-1, musk melon MM-28, onion PHO-6, ash gourd PAG-3, sponge gourd PSG-9 and guava Arka Amulya.

According to Punjab Horticulture Director Jagtar Singh the scientists who developed these varieties were also present at the meeting of the committee. The tomato hybrid TH-1 is moderately resistant to late blight and suitable for fresh market and processing. Its average yield is 245 quintal per acre.

The musk melon variety MM-28 is juicy and has excellent flavour. Average yield is 71 quintal per acre.

Onion variety PHO-6 takes 120 days from transplanting to harvesting. It has good keeping quality and its average yield is 190 quintal per acre.

Ash gourd variety PAG-3 developed by university scientists has very attractive fruits, globular and medium in size. Its average yield is 120 quintal per acre which is 34 per cent higher than that of local chack.

The fruits of sponge gourd variety PSG-9 are smooth long, tender and dark in colour. It gives 650 quintal per acre yield which is 44 per cent higher than Pusa Chinnki. UNI


15 income tax officials transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Fifteen officials of the income tax department (north western region) have been transferred. These include two Chief Commissioners (CCs) — Mr S.S. Kanwal and Mr Mr S.K. Mittal — posted at Amritsar, who have been shifted to Chandigarh and Ludhiana, respectively. Mr Hutesh Dogra and Mr Sunil Kumar Saxena, CCs, Ludhiana, have been shifted to Shimla and Amritsar, respectively.

Mr Vijay Khanna, Chief Commissioner, IT (north western region) has asked the officials to comply with the order by June 23. The other officials who have been transferred include Mr R.P. Singh, CC, Chandigarh/Patiala to Ludhiana, Mr Gurnaib Singh, CC, Chandigarh, to Ludhiana. Mr Dharam Chand, CC Ludhiana, has been shifted as Director-General, IT (Investigation), Chandigarh. Mr O.P. Sud, CC, Ludhiana, has been transferred to Amritsar. Mr O.P. Bhihana, CC, Panchkula, has been transferred to Chandigarh. Mr Ranjit Singh, CC Shimla, goes to Chandigarh, while Mr J.M. Sharda, CC Chandigarh/CIB goes to Ludhiana. Mr G.K. Gosain, CC, Chandigarh/ITAT, has been shifted to Panchkula.

Mr P.J. Arora, CC, Chandigarh/Patiala, has also been transferred to DGIT (Investigation), Chandigarh, while Mr J.S. Minhas, DGIT (Invest), Chandigarh, will be CC Ludhiana. Mr Des Raj Kondal, DGIT (Invest), Chandigarh, will be CC, Ludhiana.


Govt jobs for terrorism victims’ kin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The dependants of terrorist victims in Punjab will soon get another opportunity to secure government jobs. Sources said a case in this connection had been prepared by the authorities concerned. It had been sent to Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh for approval. Once the Chief Minister cleared the file, applications would be invited from the eligible dependants.

A senior officer of the state government said today that several such persons had sent representations seeking Government jobs. Some of them have stated that they were not eligible for government job when terrorists killed their bread-winners while others pleaded that they did not get an opportunity to apply for such employment.

The government has provided jobs to about 2,500 dependants of terrorist victims till date. In Punjab about 10,000 persons were killed in terrorist violence. Many of them were poor shopkeepers and farmers, who became easy target in villages. A number of VIPs such as politicians, police and other officials and journalists were also killed. Terrorist violence subsided in Punjab in 1992 and almost came to an end by 1994. However, a few selective killings continued. The last major victim of terrorist violence in Punjab was Chief Minister, Beant Singh.

Official sources said the government would give two months to eligible persons for submitting applications after which no request would be entertained. The person concerned would have to submit proof and other documents to lay claim to government jobs as a dependant(s) of those killed by terrorists or because of terrorism in the state.

There are reports that earlier certain persons, who were not direct dependants of those killed by terrorists, have succeeded in managing important jobs in the police and elsewhere. A senior Congress leader, who was neither attacked by terrorists nor any member of his family was harmed in terrorist violence, has allegedly secured a good job for his son in the Punjab Police, according to sources.


A.N. Kaushal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Punjab Government today appointed Lieut-Col A.N. Kaushal (retd) as Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Gurdaspur, according to an official press note.


5 held for robbery in Batala
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 17
The Batala police has busted a gang of armed robbers with the arrest of Jaspal Singh, Charanjit Singh, Satnam Singh and Major Singh, all residents of Mandial under Batala police station, and Swarn Singh of Kathunangal under Majitha police station. One pistol, four cartridges, one iron rod, one datar and one torch have been recovered from their possession. This was stated by Dr Naresh Kumar, SSP, Batala, in a press note issued today.

Police sources said the gang had been operating for the past five years and their areas of operation extended to Amritsar, Moga and Phagwara.

The police sources said the gang had snatched Rs 1.5 lakh from Phagwara, gas stove and cylinder from the urban estate of Batala and two scooters from Amritsar.

A case under Sections 399/400 of the IPC and 25-54-59 of the Arms Act has been registered against the accused.


Youth castrated

Jalandhar, June 17
A youth was allegedly castrated by unidentified people in the Basti Sheikh area here recently.

According to the police, victim Pamma was coming to his maternal grand parents’ house in Bhargo Camp here last week when he was forcibly taken away by some unknown people. The abductors later chopped his external genital and left him near Domoria Pul here in an unconscious condition. The youth was seen by an elderly man who informed the police and subsequently he was admitted to the Civil Hospital here. His condition was still stated to be serious.

The youth reportedly used to perform dance and music with a mahant for some time a few years ago but later discontinued.

An FIR in this connection was lodged at the Division No five police station today. UNI


2 members of vehicle thieves gang held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 17
The district police today busted a four-member gang of vehicle thieves and seized a stolen truck, Tata Sumo and Tata Indica from them. Two persons have been arrested in this regard.

Mr Kultar Singh, SSP Amritsar, in a press note issued here today said following a tip-off a naka was laid near the Verka milk plant chowk on the Batala road late last evening and two persons, Jamal Masih, a resident of Model Town, Gurdaspur and Avtar Singh, a resident of Bhagtan Wala here were arrested.

The SSP said during preliminary investigations it came to light that Jamal Masih, Avtar Singh, Tarsem Singh of the Gilwali gate area, Makhan Singh of Ferozepore used to steal vehicles from different areas of Punjab and sell the same in an area near the Suncity Park.

The raids were on to nab the remaining two accused, the SSP added. A case had been registered under Sections 379, 411,420,467, 468, 471 of the IPC at Sadar police station.


One crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 17
One person was crushed to death, while another was injured, when a truck hit the scooter, they were riding near Rama Mandi chowk here today.

According to the police, the deceased was identified as Pawan Sharma of Arjun Nagar. The injured, who was still to be identified admitted to local Civil Hospital. A case has been registered.


Labourer attacks 3 of family

Faridkot, June 17
Three members of a family were injured by a migrant labourer and his accomplices in Chughewala village of this district last night.

According to sources, the labourer was working in the fields of farmer, Resham Singh, for the last one month.

The labourer and his accomplices attacked Resham Singh, when they were working in the fields. After seriously injuring Resham Singh the assailants threw him in a well. Then the accused went to Resham Singh’s house where they attacked his wife and daughter. and looted gold, cash and other valuables. UNI


SLIET gets 13 projects
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 17
The Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, has received 13 sponsored research projects, costing Rs 93 lakh, from the Ministry of Human Resources Development (MHRD), New Delhi, this year.

Dr V.K. Jain, Dean (academic) of the institute, said the projects had been allotted to Mr Kanwalpreet Singh, Mr Rajesh Kumar, Mr R. Arulmani, Mr M. Aftaq Akhtar, Mr A.P. Singh, Mr Sanjeev Singh, Dr Anurag Jain, Dr Pawan Kumar Dhiman, Dr Manjeet Sigh, Mr H.R. Ghatak, Dr B.C. Sarkar, Dr B.K. Kanungo and Dr Dhiraj Sud in the capacity of Principal Investigator.

Dr Jain also said till date 64 sponsored projects had been sanctioned to the institute by various agencies. He said the cost of these projects was around Rs 4 crore. Out of these 64 projects, 29 had already been completed while 35 were in progress. He also said more sponsored projects, costing more than Rs 20 lakh, were in the final stage of approval from the Indian Council of Agricultural Research, New Delhi, and the Union Ministry of Environment.


Sekhon elected president
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 17
Mr Baljit Singh Sekhon, director, Youth Welfare, was elected president of the Guru Nanak Dev University Officers Association. All office-bearers of the association were elected unopposed, according to the returning officer, Prof Kashmir Singh.

Dr H.P. Singh, Senior Medical Officer, was elected vice-president. Mr Balkar Singh, secretary, Mr Harminder Singh (assistant engineer) joint secretary and others. This was informed in a university press note here today.

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