Sunday, June 22, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BSP adamant on Mayawati’s visit
Drop Talhan proceedings, pleads Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
The Punjab Government has requested the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Tribes to drop the proceedings pertaining to Talhan village, which witnessed caste-based violence recently.

Sources said the state government had written to the commission that since peace had been restored in the village and Jalandhar city, it would be wise not to pursue the matter. The government feels that prolonging the issue could regenerate the flames of violence in the areas concerned.

Top functionaries of the commission had visited Talhan village. The commission had also asked the government to present its version on the happenings in Talhan.

Another problem is that the BSP is adamant on its stand to hold the July 7political rally to be addressed by UP Chief Minister Mayawati. The BSP has decided to hold the rally in Chara Mandi of Jalandhar city, which also faced trouble for a few days.

Mr Pawan Kumar Tinnu, General Secretary of the BSP, said that his organisation had decided to go ahead with the rally though the state government wanted otherwise. The district police had given in writing that it had no objection to the holding of the rally. The district administration had assured that it would not create any hurdle in the holding of the rally.

However, Amarinder Singh, wanted that the rally should not be held as time was not conducive for holding it in Jalandhar at this stage. He has also decided to convey the same to Ms Mayawati officially, with the request that she should drop her programme to address the rally.

Mr Tinnu said Ms Mayawati was not coming “to create any trouble in Talhan or Jalandhar”. She was coming to have first hand information about what had happened in that area.

“We are all for peace. If there was peace today in Talhan and Jalandhar, it was all because of the BSP and certain other political and social organisations and not because of the state government”, said Mr Tinnu.

“If Mrs Ambika Soni and Dr Manmohan Singh had the right to visit Talhan and Jalandhar, why it should be denied to Ms Mayawati and other Dalit leaders” he reasoned.


BSP firm on ‘Dhikkar’ rally
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 21
The Bahujan Samaj Party today asserted that it would go ahead with its July 7 Jalandhar rally even if the state government did not give permission.

Talking to The Tribune, the State BSP chief, Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri and the BSP’s district unit president, Mr Pawan Tinu alleged that the state government was planning to ban the rally to be held in grain market in Buta Mandi to protest against “atrocities” against Dalits during the Congress regime. The rally, would be addressed by UP Chief MInister Ms Mayawati and other senior leaders of the party, said Mr Tinu.

The BSP leaders alleged that the rally was being banned to prevent Dalits from converging on a single platform and for fears among Congress circles that Dalits would side with the BSP this time as a fallout of the Talhan incident and subsequent firing in Buta Mandi in which a Dalit youth was killed in alleged police firing. Mr Tinu said the state government was planning to ban the rally despite the fact that the SSP had already given permission for it. “When the Congress leaders like Dr Manmohan Singh and others can go to curfew-bound Talhan village, why not UP Chief Minister Ms Mayawati” questioned Mr Tinu.

He said the banning of the rally would mean that the state government would be resorting to “undemocratic” steps in order to settle political scores.


Thanksgiving for peace at Talhan
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 21
The bhog of akhand paths organised jointly by the district administration and residents of Talhan village to mark the restoration of peace and communal harmony, were conducted at Gurdwara Shaheed Baba Nihal Singh near here today.

Hundreds of devotees from all walks of life and residents of Talhan village, the scene of caste clashes between Dalits and Jats on June 5, thronged Gurdwara Shaheedan to offer prayers during the bhog ceremony. Senior civil and police officials also attended the ceremony.

Apart from the villagers, prominent among those, who attended the bhog ceremony, included ADGP (PAP) and chief architect of “peace formula”, D.R. Bhatti, J.P. Birdi, IG, Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, state BJP chief Brij Lal Rinwa and state BJP vice-president Vijay Sampla, state BSP chief Avtar Singh Karimpuri and Sikh religious leaders Harminder Singh Gill, Bhai Manjit Singh and Ajaib Singh Abhayasi, who had played a significant role in working out an amicable solution to end the dispute between both the communities.

Members of both the communities were seen hugging each other after the bhog ceremony.

They were seen freely interacting on the issue pertaining to the damage caused to the image and sanctity of the village shrine due to the clashes. Later, the devotees were served “langar” on the gurdwara premises.

Meanwhile, the district administration allowed 14-hour curfew relaxation in Talhan village from 5 am to 7 pm even as night curfew was still in force as a preventive measure.

There were no reports of any untoward incident during the curfew relaxation from any part of the village.


Rinwa discounts CM’s fears on Mayawati’s visit
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 21
On UP Chief Minister Ms Mayawati’s scheduled visit to address “Dhikkar ate Ninda” rally at Buta Mandi here on July 7, the state’s BJP chief, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa today discounted fears of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh of threat to peace.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Rinwa said, “If senior Congress leaders, including former Union Minister Dr Manmohan Singh, Ambika Soni and Sunil Dutt could be allowed to visit Talhan village during curfew, why UP Chief Minister Ms Mayawati was being stopped from addressing rally there.

Since the situation was peaceful at Talhan village and in the Buta Mandi area, where one person was killed in police firing on June 6, there was no point in asking Ms Mayawati not to visit Punjab to address the rally, he said.

Holding the Congress government and the district administration responsible for clashes at Talhan village followed by violence in other parts of the city, Mr Rinwa alleged that had the government taken appropriate action the clashes could have been averted. “The failure of state machinery to handle the situation resulted into large scale violence,” he said.

Commenting upon the reported statement of Captain Amarinder Singh that the BJP was responsible for clashes, the BJP leader said that none of the political parties had ever tried to take advantage out of Talhan shrine dispute involving Dalits and Jat communities, rather, they helped the administration in controlling the situation and later helped reach a compromise between both communities.

He criticised the Chief Minister’s statements regarding proposed arrest of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and said that the CM was trying to malign the Akali Dal by levelling false allegations against Mr Badal.

Mr Rinwa revealed that the NDA team would visit the state soon to assess the alleged atrocities of the Congress government against the Akali workers and leaders.

On the restructuring of the state BJP unit, he said that a comprehensive draft was being prepared in this regard and a final list of office-bearers would be released in September.


Indians in Pak jail lose balance
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 21
As many as 15 to 80 Indian youths, who have been languishing in Pakistan’s Kot Lakhpat jail, have become mentally sick following torture by the jail authorities. Most of the youths, who were arrested on a charge of spying, have served their jail term but are not being released. Jagjit Singh, a 43-year-old man hailing from this city and lodged in the jail since October 2001, has narrated the woes of about 80 Indian prisoners through a letter sent by him to his father Darshan Singh and meant for Doordarshan.

The letter, a copy of which was procured by The Tribune, revealed that 80 Indians were lodged in the jail and though most of them had served their term, “no effort was being made by either the Pakistani or the Indian Government to ensure their release”. He has written that “Whenever Pakistani high officials come to inspect the jail, they tell us that the Indian Government was not accepting us.”

He said the Pakistani authorities had slapped death sentence on Kirpal Singh and Manjit Singh. Kuldip Singh, Kuldip Kumar, Shahabudin, and Surjit Singh were undergoing a jail term for 25 years. He said since Doordarshan had a wider reach and could be viewed in most parts of Pakistan, it should highlight their problems. “Some of us have lost our balance due to the torture inflicted upon us,” he said in the letter.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Darshan Singh said his son had gone to Lebanon as a labourer along with his wife and a seven-year-old child. He landed in trouble after he decided go to England following assurance by some unscrupulous agents. He was arrested by the Turkey police, and pushed into Iran in 2001. After keeping him in jail for about 15 days, the authorities pushed him into Pakistan. He and two other Indian youths contacted the Indian High Commission and they were issued emergency travel documents. However, the immigration authorities did not allow them to travel by train saying that their documents were valid only for road. Subsequently, they were put in the Kot Lakhpat jail.

“My daughter-in-law and my grandson are still in Lebanon where they are meeting a lot of difficulties”, said Ms Pritam Kaur, mother of Jagjit Singh. “We went to Wagah on May 17 with a hope that our son would be released by the Pakistani authorities as part of the prisoner exchange programme, but our hopes were dashed to the ground. I can only appeal to the Prime Minister to secure the release of my son and others, Mr Darshan Singh said.


Syndicate approves engineering college on campus
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
The Punjabi University Syndicate today unanimously approved the opening of an Engineering College on the campus here even though Punjab Education Secretary N.S. Rattan earlier had appealed to the Syndicate to defer the proposal. According to sources, the Education Secretary, who spoke first on the issue, urged that a decision on the proposal be deferred. He said that a comprehensive project for the setting up of the college had not been made. He said there was no detail about fee structure, income, expenditure, faculty or student ratio. Mr Rattan said though the University was competent to set up the college, but the procedure laid down in the varsity Act should be followed.

Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai speaking on the same subject said if the varsity had followed all norms it would have taken long time and it would not have been possible to start the college from the current session. He said the university did not intend to hide anything from the government and that all relevant details would be supplied. He said as far as the infrastructure and faculty of the college was concerned, the varsity would be using its infrastructure and staff for the first year. This he said was because the first year of Engineering involved teaching of the basic subjects only.

Mr Boparai also claimed that the college, besides serving as a centre of excellence in the Malwa belt, would also raise resources for the varsity. He said while Government Colleges were 100 per cent government funded and private colleges funded upto 95 per cent, the government had been imposing cuts on the University every year. He said an exercise was inititated in October last year to suggest ways to raise funds. He said the Planning Board subsequently recommended the opening of the college. The proposal subsequently was passed unanimously after the VC also told that the Chief Minister had been apprised of the entire issue and had “blessed” the move.

The other proposals passed at the meeting included rejection of an appeal by the management of the Maharaja Ranjit Singh College of Information Technology against derecognition of the institution, confirming of the suspension of two teachers — Dr Saroj Rani and Prof Gurpal Singh and passing the enhanced fee structure.

Mr Boparai speaking on the appeal submitted by Maharaja Ranjit Singh institution, said the plea should not be considered as the institution had gone to the court against an earlier decision of the Syndicate. He said having done this, the institution did not have any right to represent to the Syndicate again. On the issue of confirming of the suspension of Fine Arts department teacher Dr Saroj Rani and Law teacher Prof Gurpal Singh, he said their suspension should not have been revoked by the Syndicate earlier due to the serious nature of the charges. He said while Dr Rani was a co-accused in the attempt to rape case filed against former VC Dr J.S. Ahluwalia, Prof Gurpal Singh was accused of tampering with question papers of students sitting for the PCS (Judiciary) examination.

The varsity also approved a proposal to hike fee of colleges affiliated to it. It also did away with the need of transfer and migration certificates besides allowing teachers to go on deputation to private companies for a maximum period of five years. It also raised the sumptuary allowance of college teachers to Rs 2,000 per month besides agreeing to take into account the earlier service of teachers recruited by it.


Jail inmates tell Birmi tales of woes
Complain of poor food quality, lack of medical facilities
Jangveer Singh

Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
Freedom may be still be a dream for hundreds of prisoners lodged in the Central Jail here, but freedom of expression allowed to them today by Minister of State for Jails Malkit Singh Birmi resulted in embarrassment for the jail administration, with inmates saying they were neither getting the requisite food items nor medical aid and accusing an official of murder.

Mr Birmi was in for a surprise during his maiden visit to the jail, with an 80-year-old undertrial appearing before the minister and claiming that he had been implicated in a rape case.

The minister was apparently incensed on seeing the condition of the undertrial and said he would take up the case with the Chief Minister.

Prisoners were apparently worked up with the lack of medical facilities being given to them.

An inmate, Parveen Sharma, said he had to cut the plaster on his leg himself as he could not get the same done at the hospital dispensary where two doctors were posted. He showed his misshapen leg.

Another prisoner, Lachhman Singh Karhali, bared his chest to show the pellets lodged, saying these had not been looked into at the jail.

Other prisoners claimed that the only medicines they were being supplied with at the jail were for headache or pain.

They said the dispensary staff looked only after VIP prisoners, who seemed to be permanently lodged there.

Speaking about the condition of food, a prisoner, Preet Mohinder, said it was common to be supplied with ‘dal’ which had been partly eaten by termites.

He said the ‘haldi’ supplied to the jail included flour.

He claimed that though the prisoners were supposed to get 60 g each of grams, ‘gur’ and lemons, they had not been supplied with these for a long time.

The prisoner said the inmates were neither getting toothpaste, soap or washing powder nor terrycot clothes for B class prisoners and cotton ones for C class prisoners.

The prisoners also complained about the miserable conditions in the jail. They disclosed that the jail authorities were running the fans in the barracks for only one hour in the day.

They said for most of the day the jail was without power and anyone asking for fan repairs was told to get his own fan.

The prisoners said toilets and bathrooms were not being maintained properly.

Even as the inmates complained against the jail management they made it clear that the complaints would not be looked upon kindly by the authorities and they might have to pay for making them.

This did not deter Preet Mohinder from alleging that one inmate had died after he was kicked on the head by the havildar.

He identified the victim as Devinder Singh, who had died recently. Jail Superintendent Jagjit Singh contradicted his version, saying the prisoner had died after he was hit on the head by another prisoner with a steel glass.

Mr Birmi, after listening to the inmates directed the jail authorities to put up two complaint boxes on the premises of the complex, which he told the inmates, would be opened by a person deputed by him on the first and seventh each month.

He also disclosed that efforts would be made to improve the living conditions in the jails.

He said two barracks for women would be constructed in all Central jails and one each in small jails.

He said three computer sets would be installed in all Central jails and one each in smaller ones to encourage computer literacy among prisoners.



SGPC not to interfere in taksal affairs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 21
Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, SGPC chief, today said the shiromani committee would not interfere in the internal matters of Damdami Taksal. In a press note issued here today, Mr Badungar said the SGPC would give recognition to any person who was unanimously installed as Jathedar of the takht. Mr Badungar said the employees of the SGPC who were working on honorarium would not be removed even after attaining the age of 60 years. Instead, the SGPC would move an application in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission to exempt them from service rules as they were indispensable. The SGPC secretary has been directed to prepare a report of such persons at the earliest.

The SGPC had passed a resolution that the raagis and granthis should be exempted from the age limit of 60 years. Mr Badungar had categorically told the press that Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, and Giani Bhagwan Singh would lose their jobs as Granthi of the Golden Temple and Head Granthi, Akal Takht, respectively. But he (Mr Badungar) is under pressure to retain their services on the basis of the resolution passed by the SGPC. Jathedar Vedanti and Giani Bhagwan Singh were among those Sikh high priests who had exonerated Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president, Shiromani Akali Dal, from charges of violating any maryada (Sikh tradition).


3 Akali candidates’ papers rejected
Tribune News Service

Nathana (Bathinda), June 21
Hundreds of residents of Phoola village of the district raised slogans against the returning officer of the Nathana block and the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, when the nomination papers of three Akali candidates were rejected allegedly on flimsy grounds late last evening.

Interestingly, the nomination papers of Mr Gurnam Singh, one of the Akali candidates who was Sarpanch of Phoola village from 1983 to 1998, were rejected by the returning officer on the pretext that he had mismanaged the Panchayat funds despite the fact that a no dues certificate had been issued to him by the Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO) concerned stating that he had committed no acts of omission and commission during his tenure as Sarpanch of the village.

The people, who raised slogans against the authorities concerned to lodge their protest, alleged that the nomination papers of Mr Gurnam Singh, Mr Bhalinder Singh and Mr Mander Singh, all Akali candidates, were rejected under “diktats” from a close confidant of Capt Amarinder Singh as the confidant feared that the candidate put up by him would be defeated in the election if any one of these three Akali candidates also contested. They added that the confidant of the Chief Minister had no base in the village. This was why he got the nomination papers of all three candidates rejected on flimsy grounds.

The nomination papers of Mr Bhalinder Singh were rejected on the ground that he had been convicted by a Sirsa court which imposed a fine of Rs 2,500 on him as sentence. However, Mr Bhalinder Singh claimed that he had not been convicted by any court. He added that even the returning officer admitted this but but said he was helpless as he was under pressure to reject the nomination papers.

The nomination papers of the third Akali candidate, Mr Mander Singh were rejected on the ground that the person who had seconded his name for the post of Sarpanch in the nomination papers was not enrolled as a voter. The papers were rejected despite the fact that the returning officer had given a certified Photostat copy of nomination papers to Mr Mander Singh where he had raised no such objection.

Mr Sukhdev Bahia, a senior Akali leader, alleged that congress leaders had been using different tactics to get the nomination papers of strong Akali candidates rejected on flimsy grounds. The returning officer, while denying all allegations, claimed that the nomination papers had been rejected as per documentary evidence and the facts which were made available to him by the authorities concerned. He added that as he was new to Bathinda district, he had not come under any political pressure. 

No nomination from Vir Nagar
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 21
It is learnt that no nomination papers have been received from Vir Nagar for the panchayat poll raising a piquant situation there. The last day of filing the papers was on June 19.

Meanwhile, after scrutiny of papers and their withdrawal today, 32 papers of panches and eight of sarpanches were rejected, leaving 1,206 candidates in the fray for the posts of panch and 358 for the posts of sarpanch.

Out of the 102 panchayats in the subdivision, 18 have been elected unanimously. These include Atholi, Dugg, Bohani, Sikri, Babeli, Hajipur, Gulabgarh, Dhandoli, Beer Dhandoli, Dev Singhwala, Dr Ambedkar Nagar, Biohanpur, Fatehgarh, Thakarki, Begampur and Kauliar.


Infighting among Congress MCs intensifies
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 21
The infighting among Municipal Councillors of the Congress party in the Nagar Council here intensified yesterday when 10 out of 14 councillors levelled serious charges against Mr Gurcharan Singh, President of the council, also of the same party, for giving undue favour to the contractors for development works.

A joint representation to Mr S.K. Singla, Deputy Director Local Bodies, Ferozepore who was here to clear auction of cleansing of a drain and some areas in the town alleged that the tenders invited for clearing the development works for Rs 60 lakh by the contractors with mutual understanding were filled at the residence of the president showing marginal increase in the rates. Some contractors even jointly sent quoted rates in one envelope which was an irregularity in this connection alleged the Councillors. They also highlighted other anomalies in the purchase of material besides in the repair of the president's car. The complainants also demanded a probe into the alleged misutilisation of funds nearly Rs 90 lakh given to the Nagar Council by former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal at the ‘sangat darshan’ programme here two years back. They demanded that the old records of the Nagar Council should also not be allowed to be destroyed for the proper verification of the funds utilised in the past. It is learnt that Mr Singla took photocopies of the tenders with him to check all anomalies which were opened in his and members’ presence earlier in the day. The complainant councillors are Mrs Sukhdip Kaur, Mrs Amritbir Kaur, Vice-Chairperson, Mrs Sonia Bansal, Mrs Uma Grover, Mrs Jasbir Kaur, Mr Baljit Singh Gora, Mr Ranjit Singh Khera, Mr Tulsi Ram, Mr Mohinder Singh Bhandari, Mr Joban Singh. Refuting all charges, Mr Gurcharan Singh, President of the Council, said that the aggrieved members had levelled charges against him for political reasons and to defame him. He further stated that the entire development project was cleared with the approval of the previous Deputy Commissioner. He said that the state government had allocated Rs 57 lakh for development in the town. When contacted Deputy Director Local Bodies S.K. Singla said that he had asked the Municipal Councillors concerned to forward their grievances in writing for necessary action. Mrs Amritbir Kaur Vice-Chairperson of the Nagar Council said today that she had also brought various irregularities committed in the Nagar Council in the recent past to the notice of Chaudhary Jagjit Singh, Local Bodies Minister Punjab, at a meeting with him at Guru Harsahai in Ferozepore district on June 19. She also demanded disciplinary action against other four party Councillors.

She said that although the high command had sent the message through Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Vice-President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee to all party members to elect Mr Tulsi Ram for the post yet one of the senior Congress member not only violated the party order but also elected Mr Gurcharan Singh with the support of the SAD and independent Councillors inspite of the fact that the Congress party had majority of 14 members against the total strength of 21 members in the Council. Mr Sharma who was also present on this occasion said that the matter was already with the Disciplinary Action Committee of the party. The Local Bodies Minister who had arrived there to disburse a special grant to the Nagar Council of Guru Harsahai for development works in the area assured to take action against the erring officials of the local Nagar Council.


CPI workers hurt in lathi charge
Tribune News Service

Bhikhiwind, June 21
In a bid to disperse agitating, CPI activists who had been protesting against the returning officer for his failure to display the list of candidates for the panchayat elections till midnight yesterday, the police resorted to a lathi charge in which many persons sustained injuries in this border town.

However, the district police chief, Tarn Taran, Mr Narinder Bhargav, claimed that at least seven policemen, including an ASI, were injured when activists of the CPI started throwing stones. He alleged that private gunmen of the CPI workers also opened fire which worsened the situation.

Mr Balwinder Singh Dodhala, assistant secretary, CPI, who was present at the time of the clash, alleged that the police also fired into the air to disperse the party workers. He alleged that senior CPI leaders, including Mr Surjit Singh, former sarpanch of Bhikhiwind and member of the district executive committee of the CPI, Mr Rachhpal Singh and Master Balwinder Singh, and Mr Major Singh of the CPM, were among those who were injured in the police lathi charge. However, Mr Bhargav alleged that it was the CPI leaders who barged into the office of the Block Development and Panchayat Officer and tried to take away the record. Mr Dodhala alleged that some family members of the CPI workers, who had fled after the police raided their house, were taken to the police station.

An official press note, issued on behalf of the Deputy Commissioner, stated that the CPI activists, led by Mr Balwinder Singh and Mr Major Singh, gheraoed the office of the BDPO and tried to disrupt the poll process. The press note said many persons were injured when private gunmen of the CPI leaders started throwing stones. However, the official statement admitted that the police resorted to “mild lathi charge”. Additional police force was requisitioned to bring the situation under control.

Dr Joginder Dayal, state chief of the CPI, and Mr Amarjit Singh Asal, district secretary, CPI, condemned the lathi charge by the police. Dr Dayal said he would visit Bhikhiwind tomorrow to take stock of the situation.

The eyewitnesses alleged that the returning officer had refused to display the names of the candidates after scrutiny which fomented trouble in the border town. The gates were closed by the officials to stop the unruly public from entering the BDPO’s office. However, agitated CPI leaders took the lead and tried to enter the office which was prevented by the police.

The CPI leaders alleged that papers of the opposition candidates were deliberately rejected on a large scale by the returning officers in the entire district with a view to favour the ruling party. The areas in which a large number of nomination papers were rejected due to “political considerations” included Valtoha, Jandiala, Majitha and Chawinda Devi etc.


Seven panchayats elected unanimously
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, June 21
Seven panchayats have been elected unanimously to Gurdaspur subdivision.

Those elected as Sarpanches are Mrs Kulwinder Kaur from Gurmukh Singh Nagar, Mrs Raino from Jhawar, Mr Davinder Singh Saini from Khokhar, Mr Darshan Lal from Darapur, Mrs Chanchel Rani from Dhoot, Mr Saroop Singh from Sadda and Mr Joginder Singh from Paharipur.

Meanwhile, the nomination papers of a large number of candidates contesting the panchayat poll slated for June 29 have been reported rejected. In the Gurdaspur development block, 772 candidates are left in the election fray for the posts of sarpanch and 1945 for panch. The nomination papers of 24 persons aspiring to contest as sarpanches have been rejected, while 84 nomination papers for the posts of panch have been rejected.

As many as 19,267 persons will contest the elections in the district. The nomination papers of 387 candidates for sarpanches and 5153 candidates have been rejected.

Meanwhile, SAD has contested the rejection of nomination papers by the returning officer of the Fatehgarh Churian block on a large scale.


A family of sarpanches
Ashok Sethi

Mattewal (Amritsar), June 21
A record of sorts was created today when Bibi Parkash Kaur Mattewal was today elected unanimously sarpanch of the village. Talking to The Tribune, Mr Kulbir Singh Mattewal, former sarpanch and husband of Bibi Parkash Kaur said that the post of sarpanch was offered to his father Kartar Singh in 1943 during the British rule and added that at that time Mattewal represented a cluster of 10 villages.

Mattewal village is reflective of an ultramodern village with civic amenities including 24-hour power and water supply. Mr Mattewal said villagers had been reposing their faith in the family for the past more than six decades and added that it was due to their love that they had been able to provide best possible facilities. He said contribution for the development of the village was a gesture of gratitude to the people of Mattewal.

A visit to the village reveals pucca roads, drains and pavements. The village has a big school and a college run by Sant Baba Labh Singh Trust. It also has a government school for girls and two aanganwadis, along with primary health centre. He said his father had been declared the best sarpanch by the then British Deputy Commissioner in 1945 and he remained sarpanch till 1962. After his death, his eldest son Amrik Singh remained sarpanch till his death in 1995. 


Doctors gherao DC’s residence
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 21
Nearly 150 doctors and members of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) gheraoed the residence of the Deputy Commissioner and demanded the withdrawal of a case registered by the police against two doctors under Section 304, IPC, following the death of an additional munshi of the cantonment police station at a local hospital.

The doctors converged at the local Circuit House and marched towards the residence of the Deputy Commissioner where they submitted a memorandum to him.

The doctors led by Dr H.S. Maan, president of the IMA, Jalandhar, IMA activist Balbir Singh Bhaura and Dr Yash Sharma, alleged that the slapping of Section 304 of the IPC, against the two doctors was not justified, particularly, in the light of a recent judgement of the Kerala High Court, specifying the Section 304, IPC, was not applicable to hospital deaths and if a case of negligence was registered against a doctor, the police would refer the case to a panel.

Dr Maan said the case should be immediately withdrawn even as the IMA felt that it was duty-bound to provide assistance to the administration in the investigation of the case.

Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, assured the doctors that he would take up the matter with the SSP.

AMRITSAR: Expressing concern over the registration of a criminal case against a Jalandhar-based doctor, the district unit of the IMA has urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to intervene in the matter. The association in a press note on Saturday alleged that the police had registered the case without proper investigation.

Dr Rakesh Madaan, president of the district unit of association, threatened to give a call to the doctors of the state to stop attending to emergencies especially of police personnel. 


PRTC set to earn goodwill
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) yesterday launched the “Hamari Sawari Sabse Pyari” scheme under which emphasis will be laid on creating goodwill for the corporation.

Announcing the scheme here after taking over charge of the corporation in the presence of Finance Minister Lal Singh and Transport Minister Tej Prakash Singh, newly appointed PRTC Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta said emphasis would be laid on improving the present fleet under the new scheme. He said the bus maintenance and providing better and efficient service would be the cornerstone of the new policy.

He said he had received complaints that some buses were not kept in proper condition due to which the corporation was losing goodwill among its customers. He said besides bus maintenance the running of the buses was also being scrutinised.

He said all PRTC bus stands would be made more consumer-friendly by installing facility for cold water and other neccessities in them. He said a flying squad would be constituted to keep a check on the operation of the bus service of the corporation as well as to take feedback from consumers. This feedback would be channelised and action will be taken on it, he added.

Speaking on the bus fare issue, Mr Gupta said a case for revising bus fares had already been submitted to the government keeping in view the rise in the cost of inputs, including diesel. Transport Minister Tej Prakash Singh said the issue was being considered. He said as far as PRTC and Punjab Roadways were concerned, efforts were being made to streamline their operations by doing away with loss-making routes as well as introducing new buses to replace the old fleet.


40 pc water samples fail test
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
The district, known as the heartland of Malwa region seems to have become doubly cursed due to the indifferent attitude of ruling politicians and the state government. The residents here have not been getting an adequate supply of potable water and in the pockets where the piped supply of water has been provided, it has been found, in most of the areas, unfit for human consumption.

As many as 40 per cent of the total samples of water (piped and underground) taken by the Civil Hospital authorities from various pockets for chemical and other laboratory tests during the last week of May were found dangerous for human consumption. The residents of various rural and urban pockets of the district have been forced to consume unfit water as the authorities concerned have failed to take corrective measures on the report by the Civil Hospital authorities.

Dr Avtar Singh Sekhon, District Health Officer (DHO), Civil Hospital, said the district administration and the Public Health authorities had been informed that 65 out of 175 samples of water had been found unfit for human consumption. He said he did not know whether any corrective measures had been taken or not.

Sources said residents of a section of trans-railway colonies of the city, had been forced to drink underground yellowish or greenish water containing suspended particles and dangerous bacteria due to the absence of piped supply of potable water.

On the other hand, residents of a majority of colonies of the city, which are getting piped water supply, have been drinking water, which contains heavy metal contents and is totally unfit for human consumption.

As per the Civil Hospital report, the water samples taken from Basant Vihar, Namdev Nagar, Sanjay Nagar, Janata Nagar, Paras Ram Nagar, Jogi Nagar and Aggarwal colony have been found unfit for human consumption while the eight to 10 samples taken from the Maur Mandi, Talwandi Sabo, Nathana, Rampura, Goniana and Phul blocks of the district have also been found unfit for human use.

The absence of piped supply of potable water coupled with the problem of brackish underground water has forced a major section of the urban and the rural population to purchase “bottled” water. To cash in on the situation, a number of companies manufacturing mineral water have sprung up in the region during the past few years.

The sources said owing to the consumption of unfit underground water, a sizeable population of the city had been suffering from various bone, teeth and skin ailments. The civic authorities have failed to provide potable water to even those colonies which had come up about four decades ago.

No official of the Public Health department could be contacted for comments despite repeated efforts.


PPCB to set up common effluent plants
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 21
The newly appointed Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) Chairman Rana K.P. Singh said yesterday that the board would establish common treatment plants (CTP) to ensure that the small sector industry could abide by the pollution control norms.

Talking to mediapersons here today after taking charge as the Chairman of the corporation in the presence of minister Lal Singh and National Youth Congress general secretary Kuljit Singh Nagra, Rana K.P. Singh said the small sector industry was facing problems in abiding by the pollution norms which had more or less been adopted by the medium and large industries.

He said the PPCB would adopt the Andhra Pradesh model of setting up of common effluent plants for the small sector in various parts of the state. He said the plants would be run on commercial basis but were expected to be cost effective.

The new Chairman said besides this he would ensure transparency and accountability in the board. He said the working procedure of the board would be computerised and efforts would be made to make it work to the expectations of the people.

He said priority would be given to control water and air pollution in the state, ensure disposal of hazardous waste and municipal solid waste, monitoring pollution of rivers and drains and monitoring the air quality.


Lally’s assurance on quota
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, June 21
The 13 per cent job quota reserved by the Punjab Government for ex-servicemen will be filled by them and all departments have been sent instructions that in case of vacancies, this reservation policy has to be implemented.

This was stated by Mr K.S. Lally, Parliamentary Secretary and in charge of the Department of Defence Welfare, while talking to ex-servicemen at a function organised by the local unit of the All-India Defence Brotherhood here today.

He said earlier, district welfare officers were deputed only in five districts, but now the entire state had been covered.

Later, while talking to mediapersons, Mr Lally said the government owed Rs 14 crore to a number of Kargil heroes, but the payments could not be made as there were no funds.

He announced a grant for Rs 50,000 to the body from his discretionary quota.

Office-bearers of the organisation handed over a memorandum of demands to Mr Lally.

In the memorandum, they said residents of the Army Welfare Housing Organisation (AWHO) Colony in Phase II were living in filthy surroundings because of Madanpur village. The open drains of the village, which were full of filth, were connected to the sewer pipe of the colony, which frequently remained choked. They demanded that the illegal colony in Sector 71 be removed and the sector be provided with canal water as there was shortage in the area.

They demanded that as a large number of ex-servicemen lived in the town, a sub-office of the District Sainik Welfare office be opened here so that they did not have to go to Ropar. Their other demands include DA on pension, cash in lieu of land to war widows, refund of excise in lieu of octroi, district status for SAS Nagar, one-rank one-pension scheme and a Central school in the town.



Chemists to wear white coats
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
To ensure the presence of qualified pharmacists in chemists shops in the state, the Punjab Government has made it mandatory for chemists to wear white coats bearing their name plates. A notification in this regard has been issued under the Drug and Chemist Act recently.

The Director, Health Services, Punjab, in a letter to the civil surgeons and drug inspectors directed them to implement the same in their respective districts within the next 15 days.

The chemists have also been directed not to rent out their licences. According to information, nearly 40 per cent chemists are operating by taking licences on rent by paying a monthly rent of Rs 1200 to Rs 1500. The sale of medicines by such unqualified chemists can prove dangerous for the common man. The dress code has been prescribed only to check such unethical practices.

The Chairman of the Punjab Chemists Association, Mr Dharamvir Kapur, has appealed to the chemists to implement the decision of the government at the earliest.


Punjab yet to adopt Fire Safety Act
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 21
Many like the Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals’ management in Punjab may go scot-free after major fire incidents in their respective units because the state government has not yet adopted the Fire Prevention and Safety Act, which has been enforced by 23 other states in the country.

The Act provides statutory powers to the authorities concerned to force the owners or occupiers of high-risk buildings not below 15 metres of height to take fire-preventive measures lest they should be proceeded against.

According to sources in the Punjab Industries Department, 56 industrial units in the state have been identified as hazardous. Fire in any of these units, particularly in the pharmaceutical and chemical-based industries, could lead to a major catastrophe.

Of these 56 industries, 21 are located in Patiala district, eight in Ropar, seven in Bathinda, four each in Sangrur, Hoshiarpur and Jalandhar, two in Nawanshahr and one each in Muktsar, Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Kapurthala districts. As per the list, a majority of these store and use LPG ( 26), chlorine (27) and ammonia (two).

An industrial unit in Mohali stores large quantities of highly combustible LPG gas. Similarly, another unit manufacturing paints stores nitro-cellulose (also used as a rocket fuel), which too is highly explosive. The main bulk drug manufacturing industries use a large number of chemicals and solvents many of which are highly inflammable and toxic.

Besides such factories, the state has three thermal plants and ammunition depots. But the managements of these factories do not care much for fire safety measures. 

Sources reveal that following the Ranbaxy explosion on June 11, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had assured that the Act would be implemented at the earliest. But inquiries reveal that the draft of the said Act is yet to be put before the competent authority for ensuring its passage in the Vidhan Sabha.

A Fire Department officer revealed that had the state government passed the Act in time, action could have been initiated against the Ranbaxy management. Under the Act, buildings, which pose danger to life and property, could be sealed. The management could also have been booked for negligence and causing injuries to people.

Mr B.L. Vohra, Director-General, Civil Defence, Union Ministry of Home Affairs, has also asked the state government to implement the Act in the public interest. 


Judicial remand for 2 scribes
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 21
Ranbir Kumar Jajji, local correspondent of the Hind Samachar group of newspapers, and Gurmail Singh, both accused of trespassing, threatening and scuffling with the wife of the Forest Minister, Dr Harbans Lal, and arrested by the police yesterday, were today presented in the court of Mr G.S. Dhillon, CJM, after the expiry of their one-day police remand. After hearing the arguments of the lawyers, the CJM remanded the accused in judicial custody up to July 4. They were taken to Nabha jail.

The third accused named in the FIR, Jaswant Singh, Editor of a local weekly, is still at large and the police had been conducting raids to arrest him. The police during the raid on the residence of Jaswant Singh today arrested his elder brother, Bhagwant Singh, and registered a case under Sections 13, 3, and 67 of the Gambling Act. Later he was released on bail.

A controversy had erupted between the two scribes and the Minister for Forest over the staging of a dharna against the minister by Gurmail Singh, demanding a probe against the minister and his two PAs. The minister had alleged that the two scribes had managed the dharna against him by provoking Gurmail Singh as they wanted to blackmail him for monetary gains. He had alleged that Jaswant Singh had a criminal background and had been involved in various frauds and cases had been registered against him.


Traffic safety institute at Phillaur soon
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 21
The state government has agreed to set up a traffic safety institute at Phillaur soon for imparting road safety education to traffic police personnel. This was stated by Mr G.S. Aujla, Additional Director-General, Punjab, while talking to media-persons at the BSF Subsidiary Training Centre Khakran, 12 km from here, today. He said 11.5 acres had already been provided by the Punjab Police Academy for the purpose.

Earlier, Mr Aujla took salute from 345 recruits. He gave away medals to nine recruit constables. Recruit constables Anil Kumar and Raju Singh were adjudged the overall best recruits. Mr S.S. Chatrath, Commandant, STC, Kharkan, also spoke.


Dam workers block traffic
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, June 21
Employees of the Ranjit Sagar Dam are being driven from pillar to post to get their salary for May.

Irked over the non-payment of salary the workers blocked the Shahpurkandi-Dharkalan road yesterday for about two hours.

After, addressing a rally, them Dam Workers Union president Natha Singh and its general secretary Harinder Singh Randhawa criticised the management of Ranjit Sagar Dam for the plight of the workers.

A joint action committee decided that if the workers were not paid their salaries soon, it would resort to a “chakka jam” on June 23


NCC cadets visit Golden Temple

Amritsar, June 21
Hundreds of cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC), including girls, from various parts of the country today paid obeisance at the Golden Temple here. 

They also took a holy dip in the sarovar and ate langar at Shri Guru Ramdas Langar Hall. The visit was part of their journey at important places of Punjab under the national integration camp programme. — OC


Sabha flays move on statue
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 21
The Aggarwal Sabha, Punjab has condemned the Sangrur district administration for stopping the work pertaining to the beautification of the Bada Chowk in that city where statue of Maharaja Aggarsain has been installed. It said this action had hurt the religious sentiments of the community.

Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, president of the sabha, told TNS that the statue at the Bada chowk in Sangrur city was installed and its beautification was being carried out with the prior approval of the state government. 


Jakhar bereaved
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 21
Mr Shamsher Singh, son-in-law of Mr Bal Ram Jakhar, former Lok Sabha Speaker, died of cardiac arrest yesterday. He was 56.

A progressive farmer, Mr Shamsher Singh was getting ready to fly to the USA on a personal visit in the early hours at his native Dabra village when he suffered the attack. He was married to Mr. Jakhar’s daughter and is survived by four children. Relatives and friends attended the cremation.


Citrus scientists train horticulturists
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 21
A team of senior scientists from the National Research Centre for Citrus, Nagpur (Maharashtra), including its Director, Dr Shyam Singh, a scientist of international repute, Dr I.P. Singh, Dr V.J. Shivanker and Dr A.K. Dass, have imparted training on quality citrus production to technical personnel of the Department of Horticulture of eight north-central districts of Punjab, registered private nursery growers and progressive citrus growers at Kheti Bhavan, Hoshiarpur.

Dr Shyam Singh yesterday disclosed that India produces only 4.6 per cent of the global citrus production. To improve upon this share, he stressed the vital role of healthy and disease-free citrus nursery plants. He appreciated the Department of Horticulture, Punjab, for taking an initiative in this direction by setting up containerised modern citrus nurseries. He said there was vast scope of citrus, especially kinnow, in Punjab, northern Rajasthan and Haryana.

Dr J.S. Mann, Director Horticulture, Punjab, who accompanied the scientists on their five-day visit from Abohar to Hoshiarpur, said the government was importing exotic citrus germ-plasm for processing and table purposes. He said the department was setting up three modern citrus nurseries in Punjab out of which two are at Chhauni Kalan and Khiala Bulanda in Hoshiarpur.

Power officials assess supply to farmers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 21
The Chief Engineer, Operation Punjab State Electricity Board, Mr N. K. Dharmani, along with the senior Engineer, Operation circle, Patiala Executive Engineer Operation, Nabha and SDOs concerned today visited Nabha, Sakohan, Tunga, Hassanpur, Chatha, Ladhaheri and Achal villages for an on-the-spot assessment of power supply to farmers.

Speaking on the occasion Mr Dharmani appealed to the farmers not to indulge in theft and unauthorised extensions which caused excessive load on feeders, leading to trippings and breakdowns. Meanwhile, farmers of Sakohan village demanded supply to their village from the newly commissioned 66 KV Gurditpura substation. Villagers of Tunga, Hassanpur and Achal also demanded 24-hour supply . The Chief Engineer, Operation, appealed to the villagers to make maximum use of the advanced deposit scheme.


Fake currency seized
Our Correspondent

Sunam, June 21
The Sunam police has seized fake currency notes worth Rs 12,000 from Om Parkash, a resident of Sunam. The police has registered a case. Mr Kuldip Singh, SSP, said the Cheema police had seized intoxicants yesterday from a van. The police also seized 44 bags of poppy husk from different places over the last few days by conducting raids, the DSP added.

The DSP also stated that the Dirba police had also seized 1.5 kg of opium from two persons — Naresh Kumar and Balwant Rai — both residents of Narwana. A case under Section 10 of the NDPS Act had been registered against them at Dirba.


Couple killed in road mishap near Kartarpur
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 21
A couple was killed, while two persons were injured, when the cars, they were travelling in, had an head-on-collision near Kartarpur on Jalandhar-Amritsar road this afternoon.

According to the police, the deceased were identified as Mahal Singh (50) and Davinder Kaur (48) of New Golden Avenue Colony in Amritsar. The deceased were on way to Nawanshahr to meet their son, a student in a college there. Both of them died on the spot. The injured were admitted to Sacred Hospital and were stated to be out of danger. The police has registered a case in this regard.


Principals sore over shifting plus 2 classes
Tribune Reporters

Amritsar, June 21
Sore over the state government’s decision to scrap plus one and plus two classes in colleges, the principals of various colleges in the district, including DAV College, Hindu College and Khalsa College, have urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to reconsider the decision and allow the classes to be run in the colleges.

The principals, in a press conference here today, said the colleges had invested lakhs of rupees in creating the infrastructure for the benefit of students, which would go waste and remain unutilised if the classes were shifted to schools. They claimed that the schools did not have such the infrastructure for imparting quality education.

Mr M.L. Aeri, Principal DAV College said the decision would adversely affect the cause of education in Punjab and have far reaching consequences for the financial health of the colleges.

Declaring the decision ill-timed, he said major colleges of the state had already admitted a large number of students who would have no other option in pursuing their studies further. He said more than 3,000 students had taken admissions at various colleges in the district which would incur a loss of more than Rs 3 crore to the colleges.

The ‘unwise decision’ of the government would help in the mushrooming of ill-equipped academies and such institutions would only squeeze pockets of the public, said Mr R.C. Verma, Principal, Hindu College. He said the shifting of classes would create a financial crunch in the colleges to which the grant-in-aid was already being squeezed and this decision would ruin the colleges. It would render a number of teachers surplus in the colleges and the managements would have no option but of terminate their services. He said the government would be responsible for this state of affairs.

The principals said the government should convene a meeting of college principals, teachers and academicians and discuss the matter before making any decision.

JALALABAD: Dr Subhash Chawla, Principal of the local GGS DAV College has criticised the decision to shift the plus one and plus two classes  from colleges to schools. In a statement issued here, he said that the decision might not effect the government colleges but it would adversely affect all private colleges, especially the unaided ones. He said that his college would lose more than 100 admissions by this decision. 

Urge govt to keep decision ‘in abeyance’

Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 21
The decision of the Punjab Government to shift the plus two classes from colleges exclusively to schools had caused concern in colleges.

Mr Tarsem Bahia, Principal and spokesman of the Joint Action Committee of the Managements Federation, Principals Association and Staff Union of the non-government colleges of Punjab and Chandigarh, today urged the government to temporarily keep the decision in abeyance and start a dialogue with all concerned. He said the “abrupt” move of the government had put a question mark over the smooth running of the new academic session in colleges.

In a talk with TNS, Principal Bahia, who is also convener of the Punjab Educationists Forum, regretted that even the Principals were kept in the dark about it. He said following instructions from the Punjab School Education Board, some colleges had started admission to these classes on April 1and were holding regular classes of plus one and plus two. What would be the fate of these students, he wondered.

A change over, if any, should be smooth, he stressed.


Traders bogged down by formalities
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 21
The Punjab Yuva Beopar Mandal will meet the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to apprise him of the problems being faced by small businessmen.

A decision to this effect was taken at a meeting of the association held here today. The young traders said that they would urge the Chief Minister to find some alternative to the various licences that the traders had to take for doing their business.

Mr Ashok Garg, state president of the association, alleged that some officials and employees of different departments harassed the businessmen. He said that much of their time was wasted in fulfilling the formalities for getting clearance for doing the business.

He said that they had to fulfil formalities for getting clearance from at least 40 departments every year. He said that some arrangement should be made that these licences are given for a period of at least 10 years.

Mr Ashok Goyal, state general secretary of the association, urged the state government to simplify the terms of sales tax to avoid harassment by employees of the department. He said that although the Congress had promised during the state Assembly elections that the problems of small traders would be attended on priority, but no step had been taken in that direction.

He said octroi had also not been abolished despite the assurances by the state government.

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