Wednesday, June 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



BSP rally: Kashyap’s plea to UP Chief Secretary
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
While the Punjab Government has rejected the Bahujan Samaj Party’s ( BSP) proposal to hold a public rally in Chara Mandi at Jalandhar on July 7, the BSP has called its crucial meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue.

Chhabra may become witness

Asked about the clean chit given by the Chief Secretary to Mr Rajesh Chhabra, Principal Secretary in the drainage scam, the Chief Minister said an inquiry was on into the case. The inquiry was not being held against Mr Chhabra. Mr Chhabra would be one of the witnesses in the case. It may be mentioned that former Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal was recently questioned in this case by a team of the Punjab police.

In reference to Ms Mayawati’s proposed visit to Jalandhar to address the rally, Punjab Chief Secretary Rajan Kashyap today wrote to his counterpart in UP, Mr D.S. Bagga, that “Jalandhar city and Talhan village nearby have recently gone through a tense law and order situation and the prohibitory orders under section 144, Cr P.C. are still in force in Jalandhar city.”

“Therefor, I would request you to kindly advise your Chief Minister to keep this situation in mind while visiting Jalandhar and help the Punjab Government maintain peace which has returned to the state after many years”.

It is clear from the Chief Secretary’s letter that no rally can be held at a place where section 144 Cr P.C, is in force.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, who held a meeting with the top brass of the Jalandhar civil and police administration here today, said no rally in Talhan and Jalandhar could be allowed at this stage because it would vitiate the peaceful atmosphere there. Once the situation became normal, he would welcome Ms Mayawati to holy a rally anywhere in Jalandhar.

About the visit of Congress leaders to Jalandhar, Capt Amarinder Singh said that they had come to resolve the issue and not to exploit it.

However, Mr Pawan Kumar Tinnu, a Jalandhar-based general-secretary of the BSP, said the rally was not being allowed for political reasons. The Congress Government had done nothing for Dalits in the past one and a half years. “It gave us bullets and lathis, when we approached it to resolve the Talhan issue”, he added.

He said the ruling party was aware that thousands of Dalits would converge an the rally and they would return home with a message against the ruling party. The ruling party did not want that Dalits should unite against it. “We are responsible people and want peace as much as the ruling party”, he added.

Meanwhile, Capt Amarinder Singh, reiterated that Mr Parkash Singh Badal, would not be arrested. Cases against him would be filed in the court which would take an appropriate decision. When asked about the non-acceptance of Punsup chairmanship by Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, the Chief Minister said he agreed with the issues raised by Mr Randhawa in the letter sent to him ( CM). But free power and water could be given only to the poor sections of society when the state’s financial position improved.

About the Puar Committee report which had recommended action against one IAS officer, 13 PCS and 650 other employees for deleting votes in the electoral rolls meant for the last assembly elections, Capt Amarinder Singh said he had rejected report because there were a lot of gaps in it. “I have told the Chief Secretary to review the issue”, he added.


BSP firm on rally despite ban
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 24
Mincing no words in criticising the Congress government for imposing ban on holding the “Ninda ate Dhikkar” rally here on July 7 state BSP chief Avtar Singh Karimpuri today threatened that his party would not allow the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh , to enter the state, in case Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati was forcibly stopped from addressing the rally.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Karimpuri said despite the imposition of section 144 of the CrPC in the district, the BSP was committed to holding the rally as per the earlier schedule and Ms Mayawati would visit violence-hit Talhan village and the Buta Mandi areas to meet aggrieved Dalits. Besides, she would address the rally at Buta Mandi on July 7.

“Due to changed circumstances following the imposition of ban on the rally, the state executive of the BSP will meet tomorrow under the presidentship of Mr Narinder Kashyap, in charge of the Punjab BSP Affairs, at Prajapat Bhavan here to outline future course of action for giving befitting reply to the state government, which is pursuing anti-Dalit policies. The political strategy to counter the government onslaught will be discussed during the meeting,” he said, adding that incase Ms Mayawati was not allowed to preside over the rally, his party, in consultation with high command, would not allow the Punjab Chief Minister to enter the state in future.

Mr Karimpuri declared that they would violate the ban and the rally would be held peacefully against the wishes of the Punjab Chief Minister, who was being “wrongly” briefed about the prevailing situation in the city.


SGPC Secretary denies seeking meeting with CM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 24
Mr Harbeant Singh, Secretary, SGPC, today denied that he had ever sought a meeting with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to expedite the “galliara yojna” (beautification of the surroundings of the Golden Temple).

In a press note issued here today, Mr Harbeant Singh said that the statement of Ms Ratna, newly appointed chairperson of improvement trust, that he (the SGPC Secretary) had desired to hold a meeting with Capt Amarinder Singh was “politically motivated”, as the issue of “galliara yojna” was already taken up by the SGPC chief and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa with Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister of Tourism and Culture. He described the statement of Ms Ratna as baseless and misleading.

Meanwhile, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, a former SGPC Secretary, today hailed the announcement of Ms Ratna for giving top priority to the “galliara yojna”.

He said the frequent traffic chaos around the Golden Temple had been causing a lot of inconvenience to pilgrims. Mr Calcutta said that it was the need of the hour to demolish the shopping complex in front of the Golden Temple so that additional parking space could be created.


‘Unbundling’ of PSEB cleared
Council of Ministers accepts expert group’s report
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
The Decks have finally been cleared for “ unbundling” of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) as the State Council of Ministers (COMs), which met here today, approved the expert group’s report in this connection.

The process of “unbundling” is expected to be completed in an year. Five consultant companies to assist the unbundling process have been shortlisted, it is learnt.

Mr Rajan Kashyap, Chief Secretary, said today that the power reforms approved by the COMs were broadly on the lines of the Central Electricity Act, 2003. These would also incorporate improvements proposed in the Punjab Electricity Bill, 2003, which was expected to be passed in the next session of the assembly.

Most significant part of today’s decision on the power reforms is allowing “open access” in a phased and carefully calibrated manner. That means private companies would be allowed to install power plants in the state and sell power to areas of their choice. The government says that “open access” has been allowed to “infuse competition with a view to cutting costs and improving the quality of power supply”.

To meet the transition costs of the power sector reforms, the COMs has desired that the cost involved and the modalities for funding the same, including through assistance form the World Bank and other funding agencies may be worked out in greater details and a separate procedure in this behalf may be placed before the ministry for approval. The meeting accepted the report of the expert group in principle. The Department of Power was directed to take immediate steps to implement the recommendations of the expert group.

It may be mentioned that the PSEB Engineers Association and other employees organisations have been pressing the government not to go in for unbundling and instead make reforms within the existing structure of the board. These organisations have been strongly opposed to “open access” because they feel it will make the beginning of privatisation of the power sector in the state.


No postal ballot papers this time
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 24
Though the Rule 22 of the Punjab Panchayat Election Rules, 1994 provides for the right to cast a vote by post in panchayat elections to those voters who are in service or on election duty etc, but in the current panchayat elections, to be held on June 29, thousands of such voters will be deprived of this right as no postal ballot paper would be issued.

The postal ballot papers are reportedly not being issued on the pretext of reduction in period between the symbol allotment day and polling day from 15 days to seven days.

Sources said in a short span of seven days printing of ballot papers, despatching those to the eligible voters on poll duty and those in service and then receipt of the same by the Returning Officer (RO) were not only difficult but also impossible.

The sources said as per the Punjab Panchayat Election Rules, 1994, a postal ballot paper should be sent by post to the elector by the RO 10 days before the date of actual poll and then the elector would return the same after casting vote to the RO so that the ballot paper could reach the RO on or before the polling day.

They said the 10 day period had been fixed when the difference between the symbol allotment day and the polling day had been 15 days, but now it had been reduced to just seven days. So it was impossible to complete the process of postal ballot votes in just seven days. They held the government responsible for this “flaw” by stating that it had “failed” in providing voting right through postal ballot papers to lakhs of voters.

The sources stated that the government had not kept in mind about the voting right of the voters on poll duty and in service voters while reducing the period from 15 days to seven days.

They claimed that due to this “error” on the part of the government thousands of voters on poll duty would lose their voting right in the current panchayat elections.

Mr Devi Dayal, a teacher in Government Primary School, Rogla, in the district and resident of Bhai Ke Pishor village, near Sunam, has also been deployed on poll duty in the current panchayat elections. He met Mr Shivdev Singh Dandiwal, Additional District Electoral Officer-cum-ADC, Sangrur, yesterday with regard to getting postal ballot paper, but to no avail. He told TNS that the ADC had assured him that he (ADC) would talk to the state Election Commission in this regard.

When TNS today contacted Mr Dandiwal, he admitted that some persons had met him to get the postal ballot papers. He said he had talked to the state Election Commission in this regard which told him that the issuance of postal ballot papers was not practicable in the present poll schedule.

The ADC said the printing of ballot papers would be completed by June 25 and these would be kept in strong rooms at block-level on June 26. He said in these circumstances, the ROs had no time for issuing postal ballot papers and receiving the same on or before the polling day i.e. June 29.


292 panchayats elected unopposed
Tribune Reporters

Jalalabad, June 24
At least 52 sarpanches and 155 panches of the 134 panchayats in the block have been elected unopposed. All of them belong to the Congress.

A total of 641 nomination papers for the 134 posts of sarpanch were filed. Out of these, 75 nomination papers were rejected on technical grounds. Out of the 1,623 nominations for 775 posts of panch, 108 were rejected.

In 26 panchayats, sarpanches were declared elected unopposed while elections for the posts of panch would be held as per schedule. More than 20 sarpanches were declared elected due to the rejection of the nomination papers of their opponents.

Mr Sher Singh Ghubaya, former SAD MLA, in a press note, alleged that SAD candidates had filed their nominations papers for all 134 village panchayats in the block, but in the 52 panchayats declared unopposed, either the nomination papers of their candidates had been rejected or no-objection certificate had been denied to them. He added that in nine such cases, the nomination papers of SAD candidates had been withdrawn by forging their signatures.

He alleged that in certain cases, five nomination papers of SAD candidates had been rejected simultaneously to pave the way for the victory of Congress candidates. He said the papers of all five SAD candidates for the post of sarpanch of Bahmba Watoo panchayat, four of Dhandi Khurd, two of Dhani Phula Singh, four of Lamochar Kalan, two Sukhera Bodla and three of Chak Khiwa had been rejected.

He added that more than 50 aggrieved SAD candidates today called on the State Election Commissioner and apprised him of the situation. An inquiry had been ordered, he said, adding that on the plea of SAD candidates, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had stayed the election of Kirian Wala and Behak Hasta Uttar villages.

Meanwhile, Congress leaders claimed a clean sweep in the panchayat elections. According to them, most of the remaining candidates in the fray were of the Congress and efforts were being made to unite them.

FEROZEPORE: As many as 253 panchayats out of 1,089 were elected unopposed while 139 sarpanches and 744 panches were elected unanimously in the district on Tuesday. According to information, there were 2,615 candidates in the fray for the posts of sarpanch while 9,948 candidates would contest for the posts of panch on June 29.

Initially, a total of 4,987 nomination papers were received for the posts of sarpanch and 13,846 for the posts of panch. Out of these, 418 and 814 nomination papers, were rejected during scrutiny for the posts of sarpanch and panch, respectively. A total of 1,954 candidates for posts of sarpanch and 3,091 candidates for posts of panch withdrew their papers.

MOGA: As many as 39 out of the 326 panchayats in the district elected their members unopposed. Sarpanches of Kania Khas, Bhakhar Wala, Bholiwal, Patowal and Jawaharsinghwala villages were also elected unopposed.

Mr G. Ramesh Kumar, Deputy Commissioner, said 779 candidates for the posts of sarpanch and 3,955 candidates for the posts of panch were now in the fray. All 25 panchayats in Kotisekhan block were elected unanimously.

Four panchayats were elected unanimously in Nihalsinghwala and six in Moga-I. The sarpanch of Chotian Moga village in Moga-II block was elected unopposed. Four panchayats in Bagapurana block were elected unopposed.


Contractor defaults on payment
Relevant file missing from MC office
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, June 24
The octroi contractor of the municipal council, allegedly in connivance with some officials is involved in a scam that may cause a revenue loss of about Rs 20 lakh to the council. The company hired by the council to collect octroi allegedly defaulted on about Rs 20 lakh in the payment of contract. The council terminated the contract with the company on May 28.

The amount defaulted by the contractor was to be recovered by the council through the bank guarantee taken from the contractor at the time of awarding the company the contract. However, the file containing the documents pertaining to the contract, including the bank guarantee, has gone missing. With the term of the bank guarantee coming to an end in August, the chances of the council recovering the amount are bleak. The council authorities have complained to the police regarding the file and requested it to register an FIR. However, the police has expressed its inability to act in the matter. It maintains that the FIR could be registered only if the file was stolen. The council had stated in its complaint that the file had got lost. In case of loss of file, the police can register the DDR but not the FIR.

Sources said as per the agreement of the contract, the contractor had to deposit the amount collected on a daily basis with the council authorities. At the end of every week, if the amount collected was more than the instalment fixed, it had to be disbursed to the contractor as profit. In case of loss, no amount was to be paid to the contractor. The total loss could not exceed the bank guarantee given by the contractor. However, the contractor did not deposit the amount on a daily basis with the council and defaulted on an amount in excess of his guarantee. The council failed to act against him on time and later the file containing the documents went missing. The sources said the contractor had also committed a fraud by collecting “rahdari” (transit tax) on fake receipts. He did not pay wages for eight months to about 20 labourers hired by him for collecting octroi. They have lodged a complaint before the labour inspector.

The Executive Officer of the council admitted that the file had gone missing. An application had been sent to the police to register the FIR. Asked about the police assertion that the FIR could be register only if the file was stolen and not if it went missing, he said the matter had not been communicated to him by the police in writing. If the police wanted some information in the case, it should give the matter in writing, he added.


8 octroi clerks suspended on graft charges
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 24
The local municipal corporation has claimed to have detected instances of corruption by its octroi staff amounting to lakhs of rupees and suspended eight Octroi clerks on the charges of retaining O - 4 form books which contain receipts of octroi collected from traders.

Stating this here today, corporation Mayor Vishnu Sharma said all the eight octroi clerks had been charge-sheeted and the corporation would also get a criminal case registered against them. The suspended employees are Raghbir Singh, Tejinder Singh, Jasmer Singh, Baljit Singh, Somnath, Anil Kumar, Navdeep Sharma and Jaiveer.

Mr Sharma said it had recently come to light that eight O - 4 form books were not accounted for. He said, according to the set procedure, the octroi staff manning the octroi posts were given one book at a time and it was mandatory for them to submit the empty book in the office record before a new book was issued to them. He said an office Superintendent had recently complained that eight form books had not been accounted for.

Mr Sharma said the issue was taken up by him personally when he received a complaint from the Superintendent that the octroi staff was threatening him for raising the issue about the missing books. He said, subsequently, the staff was questioned and one of the octroi clerks , Raghbir Singh, admitted to having removed 12 receipts of a total of Rs 43,000 from one of the form books in his possession illegally. The clerk requested that the corporation get Rs 43,000 from him and not take any action against him. However, the corporation has suspended him also alongwith others.

The Mayor said each form book contained 300 forms and if this was taken into account the accused octroi clerks may have caused a loss of lakhs to the corporation. He said he had ordered corporation Secretary Randeep Singh to hold an inquiry into the matter and submit his report to him. He said the inquiry officer had also been told to check the form books issued to the octroi staff during the past two years.

Meanwhile, the corporation has also decided to take the issue of octroi evasion by a Dharampura bazar trader to its General House. Mr Sharma said an inquiry into the octroi evasion by Orient Traders had revealed that the corporation staff had not followed the rules while levying penalty against the trader. He said the corporation staff had allowed the trader to keep the electronic goods which had been confiscated in a rented godown from which they were later taken out with the knowledge of the corporation.


Suspension of 2 poll officials recommended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
The state Chief Election Commissioner, Mr C.L Bains, has recommended the suspension of two officials for alleged irregularities in the panchayat elections.

According to sources in the Election Commission Office, the charge against the BDO, Nabha, is that he forced the returning officer, for villages falling in cluster No 7 of the Nabha block to reject the nominations of four candidates, to allegedly help the fifth one in the fray to be unanimously chosen as the sarpanch. Of the total 11 nominations filed earlier for the post of sarpanch, six had already been rejected.

Action against the BDO was recommended following the complaint made by the four candidates, whose nominations were rejected. The Chief Election Officer had asked the Deputy Commissioner to inquire into the matter but since he was not satisfied with his report, he recommended suspension on the basis of personal hearing, it is learnt.

The charge against the second official, who is posted as the Agriculture Development Officer, (ADO), Mahilpur, was that he had been absent from duty since June 18 and the nominations for the post of sarpanches in the area were filed during his absence.


Poll staff face problems
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, June 24
The Returning Officers (ROs) for the June 29 panchayat elections, who have been asked to scrutinise the ballot papers being printed at a local private printing press, are finding it difficult to do the job in the absence of proper facilities.

One of the ROs on condition of anonymity said although they had to spend two to three days for scrutinising the ballot papers, yet proper arrangements were not made for their stay. He said even the security of ballot papers was at risk and these were virtually available to anyone.

Another RO said the ballot papers were scattered on the floor and proper arrangements were not made for destroying the ballot papers, which were printed in excess. He said the ballot papers could pass to unauthorised persons.

The printing press situated in a busy market of the city had become centre of attraction for the residents. The ROs said they had to be awake till late in the night to finish the job. They said the authorities should have made proper arrangements for their boarding and lodging. They said some premises might have been selected for scrutinising the ballot papers which was not accessible to the common people.


DIG’s transfer casts shadow on irrigation scam probe
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 24
Will the transfer of Mr R. P. Meena, DIG, cast it shadow on the probe of the irrigation and drainage scams? Will investigations into the various irrigation and drainage scams during the SAD-BJP government reach their logical end?

These questions have gained importance after the transfer of Mr Meena to Chandigarh as DIG (Intelligence). He was DIG, Ferozepore range, and was actively involved in the probe into the multi-crore scams.

After the transfers, the inquiry into the irrigation and drainage scam came to a halt. This was likely to happen again, pointed out a Congress leader on the condition of anonymity. He added that the Congress was demanding a CBI probe into the scam when it was not in power, but it was not handing over the probe of to the CBI now.

An anti-corruption drive was launched by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, when an FIR was registered against eight officials, including a few retired employees of the Irrigation and Drainage Department at Muktsar on December 13, 2002. In this FIR, the authorities concerned were silent about the action against those officials who were involved but whose names did not figure in it.

The authorities concerned failed to bring other officials of the department to book. The then Assistant District Attorney of Muktsar, Mr Fateh Singh, had given his opinion to the then SSP of Muktsar, Mr Major Singh, that the culpability of the officials of the department who were senior to those whose names had figured in the FIR had not been examined.

Instead of taking the criminal case to its logical end, the government transferred Mr Meena. A few days before the transfer, a criminal case pertaining to the scam was registered at the Sadar police station at Malout. The name of no official of the department or member of the SAD-BJP government figured in the FIR.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that a section of influential Congress leaders had been conducting the probe as per the wishes of the head of a religious place in the region. Efforts were also being made to save a politician, who wielded considerable influence in the previous government and was allegedly involved in the scam.


Jatha to go to Pak on June 26
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 24
A jatha of Sikh pilgrims will go to Pakistan on June 26 to observe the death anniversary of Maharaja Ranjit Singh which falls on June 29.

This was disclosed by Mr Ram Singh, an official spokesman for the SGPC in a press note issued here today.

The jatha would return to India on July 5 after visiting Sikh shrines in Lahore, Hassan Abdal, Eminabad and other places.

The jatha would be led by Mr Onkar Singh Sharifpura, a confidant of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra.

The selection of Mr Sharifpura has given clear indication that reshuffle in the SGPC is in the offing.


Bibi Jagir Kaur escapes unhurt

Kharar, June 24
A former SGPC president and SAD MLA from Bhulath, Bibi Jagir Kaur, had a narrow escape when the car in which she was travelling rammed into a milestone on the Roopnagar-Nawanshahr highway at Dhaa Kaleram village near Banga in Nawanshahr district today, the police said.

However, two scooter-borne persons, whom the Bibi’s cavalcade tried to save, sustained serious injuries after the scooter fell in front of the pilot Gypsy. The senior SAD leader said the accident took place at around 9.30 a.m. when she, along with her security staff, was on the way from Begowal to Anandpur Sahib in Roopnagar district to attend a religious congregation.

The injured had been taken to Guru Nanak Mission Hospital at Dhaa Kaleram village, from where they were referred to CMC, Ludhiana, she said. — PTI


Mandi Board to be made accountable
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 24
Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla today said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had asked him to bring in accountability in the Mandi Board.

Talking to newsmen after meeting the Chief Minister along with his family members yesterday, Mr Singla said he had assured the Chief Minister that, besides accountability, he would bring in complete transparency in all working and would complete all projects in a time-bound schedule.

Mr Singla said it was unfortunate that the previous Akali-BJP government, despite calling itself farmer friendly, had not done anything to improve the lot of either the link roads under the Mandi Board or the grain markets of the state which remained without any basic facility. He said improving the condition of the roads as well as the grain markets would be his first priority. He said he would direct the staff of the market committees to adopt a more farmer-friendly approach and work for providing better facilities to them.


Toll tax levied
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
Travelling on the Ropar-Phagwara road and crossing over the high-level bridge over the Sutlej connecting the Jagraon-Nakodar road will no more be free of cost.

The Punjab Council of Ministers (COMs) today fixed the toll tax for travelling on the Ropar-Phagwara road and to cross over the Sutlej bridge at 10 for a car, Rs 15 for a bus or truck and Rs 20 for a multi-axle vehicles. These rates would be increased by Rs 5 for each category of vehicles in 2005 and 2007.

The COMs also decided to levy 1 per cent sales tax at non-conventional renewable energy devices such as solar cooker, solar heating panels, biogas plants, photo-voltaic cell and panels and wind mills from April1 this year.


JE, contractor get bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, June 24
The District and Session Judge, Mr Inderjit Sharma, has granted bail to PSEB Junior Engineer (JE) Ranjit Singh and contractor Ashwani Gupta in the SYL canal power station scam. They were released against a bail bond of Rs 10,000 each and a surety bond of Rs 10,000 each yesterday.

The Raj Krishan and Company of Ashwani Gupta was hired by the PSEB in 1987 for undertaking the construction work of the Rajpura hydel power station on the SYL canal. It was alleged by the Vigilance Department that huge sum was bungled by the contractor in the dewatering work from the foundations of the power station. The entire work of the power station was stopped in 1991.


Panchayat elections on schedule
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
In less than a week before panchayat elections are scheduled to be held in the state of Punjab, Mr Justice Hemant Gupta of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today refused to stay the elections.

Pronouncing the orders on a bunch of about 50 petitions, Mr Justice Gupta, nevertheless, ruled that the elections would be subject to the final decision of the writ petitions. Mr Justice Gupta also ruled that the petitions would come up on July 1 for “motion hearing”.

In his detailed orders, Mr Justice Gupta observed that ad-interim stay in the matter could not be granted in view of the fact that the election process had already started in the state.

In majority of the petitions, the candidates had earlier contended that their nomination papers had been wrongly rejected by the Returning Officers. Political considerations were cited as the reason behind the rejection of the documents in several cases.

In one such petition, Karamjit Kaur of Chaswal village in Patiala district had submitted that her papers were rejected at the behest of a former sarpanch. Describing the rejection order as “arbitrary”, the petitioner had demanded that the Returning Officer should be directed to disclose the reason behind the rejection of her papers. Permission to contest the elections was also sought.

Makhan Singh of Joga Nand village in Bathinda district, in another petition, had alleged wrong rejection of nomination papers. The papers, his counsel had asserted, were rejected even though there was no defect.

Bail plea

Punjab’s former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s officer on special duty Hardeep Singh’s bail petition will come up for hearing before the vacation Judge on June 25.

In his petition filed to bring the correct facts in the High Court’s notice, Hardeep Singh stated that the investigating agency was proceeding in the matter in a malafide manner. Giving details, he had asserted that the action against the Wimpy officials and Badal’s relative Narottam Singh was a testimony to this effect. The intention, he had asserted, was to force him into making a confession against Badal.

His counsel had added that Hardeep Singh’s custody was not required as he had joined the investigations at least 11 times. Moreover, he had tendered the entire record.

Going into the background of the case, counsel had added that the Supreme Court had permitted the petitioner to bring correct and relevant facts to the notice of the High Court and as such the bail plea was being filed.

Hardeep Singh had moved the Apex Court following the rejection of his bail plea by High Court Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy. In his plea before the High Court, Hardeep Singh had accused the Congress government of adopting a revengeful attitude towards political opponents.


Rail traffic disrupted

Abohar, June 24
The rail traffic on the Sri Ganganagar-Abohar route remained disrupted for an hour as trees fell down on the rail track following high-speed dust storm in the afternoon. A passenger train that left Sri Ganganagar for Abohar, an hour behind schedule, was held up near border township Hindumalkot. Passengers and residents of the adjoining villages removed the trees.

A large number of trees were uprooted as rain preceded by dust storm lashed the region. Its effect was experienced up to Panjkosi village only. Old walls and tin sheet roof in some other villages got damaged. — OC


Labourers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 24
Labourers working in various factories, construction workers, drivers, etc held a dharna in front of the Labour Office here today in protest against the alleged anti-people and anti-labourers policies of the state government.

The labourers headed by Mr Chander Shekhar, general secretary, CITU, presented a memorandum of their demands to the Labour Officer Mr Darshan Singh, to be forwarded to the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

Their demands includes the implementation of the Welfare Law, 1996 for the construction workers, Factory Act on kilns, restarting of the closed units of powerlooms, processing and finishing mills by giving special package and filling the vacant posts in labour departments, besides stopping contract system in factories.


Coop mills’ staff stage dharna
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 24
Hundreds of employees of cooperative spinning mills of Bathinda, Goindwal Sahib and Abohar today staged a dharna in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner to press for the acceptance of their demands.

In a memorandum submitted to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, through the Deputy Commissioner, the employees demanded that the spinning mills of Bathinda, Goindwal Sahib and Abohar, which had been closed down by the state government, should be started, workers should be paid wages for two years, government should give economic assistance to these mills, inquiry should be conducted into all scams which took place in the office of Spinfed and spinning mills.


Dharna by TSU
Our Correspondent

Abohar, June 24
Members of the Technical Services Union (TSU) staged a dharna at the entrance to the subdivision 1 office of the Punjab State Electricity Board in the Nanak Nagri locality here today. Official sources said the employees ignored the court ban on certain leaders of the union from indulging in such activities within 50 metres of the subdivisional office.


Official retired compulsorily
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
The Punjab Mandi Board today compulsorily retired Mr Darshan Singh Aulakh, Deputy General Manager.

The action, says a board press note, follows the entry of “adverse’’ comments in the annual confidential reports of Mr Aulakh. He is also facing a vigilance inquiry in a corruption case after he was caught allegedly accepting a bribe of Rs 30,000.


Chief Pharmacist held
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 24
Mr Raunaq Ram, Chief Pharmacist in the office of the Civil Surgeon Moga, was caught red-handed by the Vigilance Bureau while the former was accepting a bribe of Rs 2000 from Mukhtiar Singh of Daudhar village in Moga district.

According to Ms Anita Punj, SP (Vigilance), Mukhtiar Singh approached the Vigilance Bureau with a complaint against Raunaq Ram that he was demanding bribe to issue him the permit for the possession of opium, which he had given for renewal sometime back. Ms Punj told that Mukhtiar Singh had a permit for 3gm of opium per month for medical use. After the expiry of the said permit, Mukhtiar Singh applied for its renewal in the office of the Civil Surgeon.

According to information, Mr Raunaq Ram got the permit renewed from the Civil Surgeon but did not hand it over to Mukhtiar Singh and allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 2000 from him. Thereafter, Mukhtiar Singh approached the Vigilance Bureau and a trap was laid in which the Chief Pharmacist was caught red- handed in the presence of Dr Jagdev Singh Khosa and Mr Amrik Singh, the two government witnesses.

Ms Punj said that later during the search of his residence, the team recovered 8000 injections of ampicillin and 5000 capsules of amoxicillin, besides an amount of Rs 46000 in cash, eight passbooks of various banks, FDRs worth Rs 2 lakh and documents pertaining to the purchase of land.

She further said that the injections recovered from the residence were purchased by the Civil Surgeon Office and issued to the patients in paper whereas the capsules had not been entered in the stock register. She said that a case had been registered.


Two travel agents booked

Kapurthala, June 24
The police has arrested two travel agents on the charge of fraud and taking over Rs 9 lakh from two complainants on the pretext of sending them abroad.

The SSP, Mr R.N. Dhoke, identified those arrested as Billu of Ibrahimwal and Swarn Singh of Habibwal.

Complainant Baldev Singh of Akhara village, told the police in an FIR, that travel agent Billu and his father Bihari Lal had taken Rs 6 lakh for sending his son to Greece.

However, instead of sending him to Greece, he was sent to Thailand where his son remained in jail for 17 days and was deported to India.

The complainant stated the travel agent returned only Rs 1 lakh and refused to return the remaining money.

In another case, complainant Hargurjit Singh, in an FIR, alleged that travel agent Swaran Singh took Rs 3.5 lakh from him for sending his brother Ranjit Singh abroad but did not do so. He only returned a little over Rs 3 lakh. — UNI


Two booked for cheating
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 24
The Hariana police has registered a case under Section 420 of the IPC against Ravinder Singh, son of Lashkar Singh of Atwarapur village, and Ravinder Singh, alias Rinku, son of Nirmal Singh of Bariana, for allegedly cheating 19 persons on the pretext of sending them abroad for which they reportedly took Rs 33 lakh from them.

According to Senior Superintendent of Police, Hoshiarpur, the accused about 18 persons, including Sukhpreet Singh of Machhian, Kulwinder Singh of Bhatrana, Sarwan Singh of Mehlanwali, Chaman Lal of Phagwara, Onkar Singh of Dasuya, Sharanjit Singh of Jahan Khelan, Vikas of Jalandhar, Baljinder Singh of Panva, Mohinder Singh of Fauji Colony Batala, Manvinder Singh of Mehtabpur, Pradeep Kumar of Dasuya, Manjinder Singh of Tanda, Baljit Singh and Kulwinder Singh both of Khun Khun Kalan and Saranjit Singh of Pakhowal. The accused took Rs 1.75 lakh each from these persons.

According to the police, Ravinder Singh of Atwarapur has been arrested while Ravinder Singh is at large.


3 girls commit suicide
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 24
Divya Jyoti (18) and her sister Monika (16) of Kuthera Jaswal village in Una district of Himachal Pradesh died at the Civil Hospital here early this morning.

Their sister-in-law Sunita, wife of Sudharshan Kumar has been referred to DMC Ludhiana. All three had reportedly consumed some poisonous substance and were brought to the hospital last night.

The reason for the suicide has not been ascertained so far.

Amarjit Kaur of Mehatpur also committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance following her failure in the matriculation examinations, police sources said.


Imposter held

Phagwara, June 24
The police today nabbed a person for allegedly posing as a public servant and obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions.

Impostor Satpal first said he was DSP (Vigilance) and then pretended to be the PA to the Punjab Health and Family Welfare Minister.

After landing in lockup, he claimed to be a Junior Engineer of the PSEB at Nawanshahr, the police said. — PTI


11 teachers suspended for being absent on closed day
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 24
The entire teaching staff of a school in Nawanshahr district of Punjab comprising 11 teachers, including the acting principal, are facing what can be best described as a comedy of errors. They have been suspended for remaining “absent from duty” on a day when the school was actually closed.

The ordeal for the teachers and the acting principal started on May 2 when a team of the State Vigilance Bureau conducted a surprise check on Government Senior Secondary School, Rattewal, Nawanshahr, and reported that none of the teachers were present on duty. The bureau naturally forwarded a report to the Education Department which suspended the teachers and the acting principal. The teachers point out to the fact that the school was closed under orders of the acting principal, who is empowered to close the school on five days in a year as “local holidays” with the prior approval from the DEO.

Now the Education Department is “looking into the matter” while the teachers can only wait till their suspension is revoked. They petitioned the Education Secretary, Mrs Tejinder Kaur yesterday placing all the facts. Mrs Tejinder Kaur confirmed to The Tribune that schools can have five closed days in a year as local holidays. “We are looking into the facts. We can even re-instate the teachers pending an enquiry. If the claims of the teachers are found to be correct and if the school has followed the right procedure for listing the five closed days needs to be checked,” the education secretary added. The matter was now an intra-departmental matter and the Vigilance Bureau had just reported on the teachers, Mrs Kaur clarified.

The teachers point out that they are permitted five local holidays and a list of such holidays had been approved by the District Education Office, Nawanshahr on April 24. While granting the sanction the DEO had written in Punjabi parvaan hai (accepted). The school had sent its letter on April 8.

The schools closed down for summer vacations and on June 16 the Governor of Punjab placed the teachers under suspension. The orders also say the Director Public Instruction should immediately charge sheet the teachers and make alternative arrangements.

The service rules for teachers say that other than routine governmental holidays “every school can have five days local and special holidays in a year.” The rules further say “the list is to be approved by the DEO concerned.”

The teachers while pleading their case have also placed on record the statement of watchman Chanderpal recorded by the Vigilance Bureau. Chanderpal in his statement has said that the Vigilance Bureau team was told “A local holiday had been declared by the acting principal and the same had been approved by the DEO also.”

Interestingly, two teachers, who had been transferred from the school a while ago, also find their name on the list of suspended teachers.


Syndics seek details on engg college
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 24
The Punjabi University Syndicate has asked the varsity authorities to finalise all logistics concerning the establishment of an engineering college to be opened on its campus from the current session and submit a report in this regard before the syndicate within two weeks.

According to sources, this was done at the behest of Education Secretary N.S. Rattan who expressed his reservations about the manner in which the engineering college proposal was presented before the Syndicate, which met two days back. According to the sources, Mr Rattan had said the varsity had not given any detail about the logistics involved in the setting up the college, including the strength of the staff, infrastructure involved, finances, as well as other details.

The sources said while Mr Rattan had taken a stand on the issue, the matter was resolved when Syndic and Vidhan Sabha Deputy Speaker Birdevinder Singh intervened in the matter. They said Mr Birdevinder Singh asked Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai as to how long it would take to work out the details. They said the Vice-Chancellor said it would take two weeks, following which it was decided to submit a detailed report on the engineering college to the Syndicate after two weeks. Mr Birdevinder Singh, when questioned on this, confirmed the development saying that the motion for establishment of the college had been passed.

Meanwhile, Punjabi University Public Relation Director B.S. Sandhu, when contacted on the issue, said the engineering college had been passed formally and there was no ambiguity on the issue. He said the varsity management would, however, submit a report of the details to the college to the Syndicate. He said it was upto the Vice-Chancellor to submit the report in a meeting of the Syndicate or convey it to Syndics separately.

The university has also claimed that all formalities for the establishment of the college had been approved after the final approval given by the Syndicate. It said the college had been cleared by the relevant varsity bodies, including the Academic Council, after its establishment was recommended by the varsity Planning Board. It said the college had already succeeded in filling all its seats for the three courses being offered by.

It also disclosed that it had been decided to make the college a centre for excellence to give a fillip to engineering degrees in the Malwa belt of the state. The varsity has decided to recruit teachers for established institutes, including IITs, on their own terms to ensure the growth of the college on international lines.


DC honours toppers

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 24
The S.K. Ahluwalia, last night ogranised a function to honour two students from the district, who had bagged a second and a fifth position in the state in the matriculation examination of a PSEB. It is worth mentioning that Rupinder Kaur of Baba Zorawar Singh Baba Fateh Singh Senior Secondary School Fatehgarh Sahib got a second position in the state by securing 617 out of 650 and Kanika Goel of GRSD Public School Mandi Gobindgarh got a fifth position in the state. It is for the first time that any student from the district has bagged any position at the state level.

Addressing the function, the Deputy Commissioner said nothing was impossible, if one fixed ones target and work hard with sincerity and dedication, that target. He said that both these students had brought laurels to the district. He congratulated the parents, teachers and all those, who had helped these students to achieve the feat.

Mrs Daisy Walia, wife of the Deputy Commissioner, presented gifts to the two students. OC

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