Wednesday, July 9, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No move to advance Lok Sabha poll: Badal
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, July 8
There is no talk regarding the holding of the Lok Sabha elections before due date. Addressing a press conference in the premises of local Wahid-Sandhars Sugars Limited here, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president, reacted to the observation of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, AICC President. She had said this at Vichar Manthan Shivir in Shimla yesterday.

He asked the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, to treat the sacked Forest Minister, Mr Harbans Lal, the same way in which Akali leaders had been treated. He should also sack and arrest the six Congress ministers indicted by the Lok Pal, demanded Mr Badal.

Mr Badal said the threat of Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib Giani Iqbal Singh to ex-communicate Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president, Management Committee of Takht Harmandir Patna Sahib, was wrong. Mr Badal made this comment when newsmen drew his attention to the letter faxed by Giani Iqbal Singh to Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti yesterday.

Addressing party workers later, Mr Badal alleged that there was a deep-rooted conspiracy of the Congress party behind the Talhan castist clashes.

He was presented with siropas by Mr Surinder Singh Walia of Walia Transport, Kuldip Sardana of Sukhjit Starch and Chemicals Ltd and Jarnail Singh Wahid, Chairman-cum-MD, Wahid Sandhar Sugar Limited.

Mr Badal was given a warm welcome by thousands of Akali workers at Phillaur, Goraya and Phagwara on the national highways.

JALANDHAR: Mr Badal on Tuesday urged the Central Government to dismiss the Congress Government and impose President’s rule in the state as Punjab was facing a law and order problem and the state government was indulging in “personal vendetta” against Akalis.

Giving vent to his ire against the Congress government, Mr Badal said, “The Centre should take strict action against the state government in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution as the state was facing a serious law and order problem.

The Congress government has a one-point programme of harassing my family and Akalis,” said Mr Badal, who was talking to mediapersons after interacting with his party workers.

Mr Badal hailed the sack of Harbans Lal, but, in the same breath, added that the government would try to hush up the case.

Denying that he had given any statement that Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra would be taking over as SGPC chief on July 10, Mr Badal said the district units of the SAD would be revoked after July 16 to accommodate leaders of the Tohra faction.

Earlier, leaders and workers of the rural wing of the Tohra faction led by Mr Sarbjit Singh Variana boycotted the SAD meeting in protest against the derogatory remarks allegedly made by former MLA Gurdeep Singh Bhullar against Mr Tohra during a recent function at Nurmahal.


Narottam’s remand extended
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, July 8
Mr A.S. Virk, Judicial Magistrate, today remanded Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, nephew of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in judicial custody till July 14. Mr Dhillon, who was remanded in police custody for one day yesterday by the Judicial Magistrate, Muktsar, Mr Rakesh Gupta, was produced before the Judicial Magistrate, Gidderbaha, today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that Mr Dhillon would be kept in Patiala during the period of his judicial remand. The criminal case registered against him would be tried by a special judge, Muktsar.

Mr Virk remanded Mr Dhillon in judicial custody despite the fact that police personnel, who produced Mr Dhillon in his court, sought extension in police remand as it failed to recovery any incriminating things in connection with the criminal case registered against Mr Dhillon in Lambi police station on June 11.

Mr Dhillon, who was in judicial custody in a corruption case registered against him at Mohali, was brought at Lambi police station on June 30 on the production a warrant, secured on June 28 from a Malout court. On June 30, Mr Nirmal Singh Lubana, Judicial Magistrate, Malout, remanded him in police custody till July 5. On July 5, Mr A.S. Virk, Judicial Magistrate, Gidderbaha, in whose court, Mr Dhillon was presented extended his remand till July 7.

Mr Rakesh Gupta, Judicial Magistrate, yesterday extended Mr Dhillon’s remand for one day and ordered to produce him at Gidderbaha court on July 8. Mr Virk was on leave yesterday.

A case against Mr Dhillon was registered under Sections 489 A and 489 B of the IPC, Sections 18, 21, 22 of the NDPS Act, Section 4, 5 and 6 of the Explosive Substance Act, Section 13 of the FEMA and Section 25 of the Arms Act in the Lambi police station on the secret information of a special informer on June 11 immediately after he was arrested in a corruption case at Shimla by sleuths of the Vigilance Bureau.

Though the Lambi police has failed to recover any narcotics, arms, explosive and fake currency notes, the Punjab police was trying to establish Mr Dhillon’s links with the ISI and top terrorists of Pakistan and Jammu and Kashmir on the basis of interrogation of an international smuggler arrested by the Amritsar police.


VB ‘unearths scam’ in Local Bodies Dept
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau claims to have unearthed a recruitment scam in the Punjab Local Government Department during the tenure of the Badal government. Mr Balram Ji Dass Tandon was, then, the Local Government Minister.

After probing recruitment in the Local Bodies Department in the year 1998-99, the Vigilance Bureau has got a case registered under the Prevention of Corruption Act and various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) with the Chandigarh police.

According to an FIR registered at the Sector 17 police station, the Vigilance Department said the posts of executive officers, assistant municipal engineer, sanitary inspectors, account (grade I and II), head draughtsmen, superintendent and others were advertised 1998-99. Mr Mangat Rai Batta, who was, then, made in charge of the recruitment process, had got the answersheets marked from a private firm here. The hiring of the private firm was not intimated to the authorities concerned. Mr Batta allegedly tampered with the marks of certain candidates. 


‘BJP not supportive of Akali fight’
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 8
The BJP leadership has not been supportive of the Akali fight against the atrocities of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha, said this here yesterday after the hearing of Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon’s case in a local court.

He pointed out that Mr Dhillon, booked in two criminal cases, had made all transactions from 1994 to 2003 with Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s family through bank drafts.


SAD getting inputs from private agency
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The SAD has hired a private agency to collect details about the property and other assets of important persons, especially those close to the ruling establishment in Punjab, source in the party said. The advertisement campaign launched by the SAD against the ruling party had been based on the inputs provided by the agency, the sources added.

The campaign would be stopped after a few days to gauge the reaction of the Congress and the state government.


Punjab moots computer education in schools
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Having failed earlier to introduce computer education in 5,000 schools of the state, the Punjab Government has now decided to re-launch the scheme in 200 government schools under a centrally sponsored project. With the Centre and the state ready to release their respective share of grants, the project in the first phase will be introduced in 100 schools for students of Classes VI to XII from September.

According to sources in the Education Department, the total cost of the project is Rs 13. 3 crore. While the Government of India has already sanctioned Rs 4.98 crore as the first instalment under a 75:25 sharing basis the state is yet to release its corresponding share of Rs 1.66 crore. As a result, the central share has lapsed.

Under the modified computer literacy and studies in schools (CLASS) project, the objective is to impart computer education by introducing it as an additional/ optional/ elective subject. Emphasis will be on using information technology as an additional learning tool, instead of simply creating awareness about computers, which was the objective of CLASS introduced earlier in 1984-85.

The earlier experiment to introduce computer education in schools in collaboration with NIIT, Delhi, having failed, the project had been under study by experts in the Ministry of Human Resource and Development , who wanted to give it a new shape.

Mr Sohan Lal, DPI, schools said no fee might be charged in the first year due to the availability of funds but a nominal fee would be charged subsequently. As per the proposed fee structure, students of classes VI to VIII would be required to pay Rs 15 per month while those of Classes IX and X and classes XI and XII would have to pay Rs 20 and Rs 25, respectively.

To being with teachers would be hired on a contract basis for the purpose however three regular teachers in each school would be trained to takeover the workload subsequently. The District Education Officers have been asked to direct schools to keep computer rooms ready in accordance with the guidelines.


News analysis
Piquant situation over fee hike decision
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
The decision of the Punjab government to enhance the fees in government and private college from the 2003-04 academic session has created a piquant situation.

A comparison of the notified tuition fees of the three universities at Chandigarh, Amritsar and Patiala with the Punjab government and the Union Territory is self- revealing (See table). The revised fee structure is applicable only to those students who are seeking admission for the first time and not to those already studying.

Though the universities in Punjab have implemented the enhanced fees, Panjab University is in an imbroglio over this issue. Its Senate held a special session here on Sunday, where cutting across political lines, Senators rejected the government directive to enhance the fees and decided to constitute a committee to study all aspects before deciding on the issue. Only a few senators supported the government directive on fee hike.

Both Mr Pawan Kumar Bansal, MP, and Mr Sat Pal Jain, ex-MP, vehemently opposed the fee hike. Mr Satyapal Dang, however, commented that the government should first rationalise the salaries and perks of its employees and politicians rather than burdening the students.

The Senate meeting also exposed several Fellows for their double-speak, who, on the one hand, were already charging the enhanced fees from the students, particularly in colleges in Ludhiana district, and, on the other, opposing the government directive.

In fact, the special meeting was called because Punjab's Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr N.S. Rattan, had so desired, in his letter to Dr Pathak. Some Senators even objected to the tone and tenor of that letter. On the one hand, the letter said the government respected the autonomy of the universities and did not interfere in their day-to-day working, on the other, it read: ''In the name of autonomy the implementation of state policies cannot be allowed to be blocked and opposed by one university or the other".

When the letter suggested the calling of an emergency meeting of the Senate to approve the revised fee structure etc. it also gave a veiled warning: ''Kindly be advised that the university, in the name of its autonomy, may take any decision and may even decide to charge nothing from the students. But when the state government takes into account the income of the university and the gap between expenditure and income for the purpose of providing grants, these will be calculated on the basis of the revised fee structure, as communicated to the University. The same principle will be applied for determining grant-in-aid to privately aided colleges affiliated to Panjab University."

The current status of Panjab University is such that its Chancellor is the Vice-President of India. It gets financial assistance from the Centre and Punjab in the 60:40 ratio. In actual practice, the Punjab share is hardly 20 per cent. Yet, the state government used arm-twisting methods to force the university to implement the hiked fees. Senator, Charanjit Chawla, said: ''It is illegal and unconstitutional. Before effecting the fee hike, Punjab should have consulted the universities or convened a meeting of the Council for Higher Education''. 


Students boycott admissions
Tribune Reporters

Malerkotla, July 8
Members of the Punjab Students Union held a rally at the local government college here today to protest against the fee hike. All students boycotted the admissions which started from today.

The students were protesting against the fee hike, abolition of free education for girls, privatisation of education and withdrawing of bus pass facility from students.

Mr S.K. Vashist, Principal of the college, called the police to avoid any untoward incident. But students protested in a peaceful manner. Mr Kuldeep Gosal, President, Punjab Students Union, Tehsil Committee, while addressing the rally, said by increasing the fee of colleges, the Punjab Government had closed the doors of colleges for lower class and poor students.

The government had sent a signal to students of weaker sections that now there was no place in the colleges for them. They demanded the withdrawal in the hike in the fees and funds immediately.

JALANDHAR: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad organised a dharna in front of the DAV College here on Tuesday. Mr Subhash Sharma, Secretary of the state unit of the ABVP, said the state government was responsible for additional burden on students. He said the ABVP will organise a state-level convention at Patiala on July 9.

Mr Jaswinder Singh Lally and Mr Sushil Sharma, joint secretaries, criticised the state government for withdrawal of the bus pass concession to students, closing down of a number of trades in ITIs and withdrawal of free education facility for girls.

SANGRUR: The Joint Students Morcha, comprising 10 students organisations, will hold a students’ convention at Patiala on July 9 to protest against the hike in fees and funds in the colleges by the Punjab Government.

Mr Amarjit Raju, state unit president of the Punjab Radical Students Union said here on Tuesday that the Joint Students Morcha would announce its agitational programme after the convention.


SC/ST panel delegates to arrive today 
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 8
In its bid to assess the situation arising out of spurt in alleged atrocities on Dalits in Punjab, a high-powered team of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes will visit the state tomorrow.

The team, which will visit Talhan village and Buta Mandi in Jalandhar and Bhattian Bet village in Ludhiana, will be headed by the commission Chairman, Mr Bijay Sonkar Shastry. The team will interact with villagers, residents of Buta Mandi and administration officials during its visit.

The team, which is said to have informed the state government about its tomorrow’s visit, will present an exhaustive report about the recent clashes between Dalits and Jats to the full Bench of the commission for further action into the matter.

Mr Vijay Sampla, vice-president of the state unit of the BJP, said he had submitted a report on the recent clashes between Dalits and Jats and the failure of the state government to do “anything” into the matter and to curb atrocities on Dalits to the commission. He said commission had taken the developments seriously.

Meanwhile, tension gripped Talhan village this morning for some time when a Dalit woman, Kamaljit Kaur, alleged that she was assaulted by three persons belonging to the Jat community. The police has registered an FIR against three persons following the meeting of a deputation of Dalits with the SP, City, Mr Pawan Rai. Kamaljit Kaur had also summoned her brothers.

The tension, however, subsided as initial police investigation revealed that the complaint was a false one and she was not assaulted by three Jats. “We found in the investigation that she was allegedly assaulted by one of her acquaintances, Davinder Singh, a resident of nearby Rampur village, over some trivial matter and following a verbal dual late last night,” said Mr Pawan Rai. He said Davinder Singh had been arrested.

Meanwhile, Mr Harpreet Sidhu, SSP, has warned vested interests against giving casteist angle to personal disputes.


High Court
Pak Hindus seek citizenship
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 8
Acting on a petition filed by Pakistani Hindus now settled in Jalandhar seeking the grant of Indian citizenship, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion to the Union of India and the state of Punjab.

Claiming to have been harassed, the petitioners — residents of Mangu Basti, along with voluntary organisation Jagriti — had earlier contended that no action was taken on their applications for the grant of Indian citizenship by the state government.

Going into the background of the case, the petitioners had asserted that they were forced to stay back in Pakistan at the time of partition as they could not trek down due to “various handicaps”. However, in Pakistan they were ill-treated, even tortured. The women were molested and they were divested of their properties. Finally they decided to shift to India.

Counsel for the petitioners had added that about 80 to 90 Hindus visited the country on valid tourist visas before being given “resident permits” in Jalandhar. Soon after, they relinquished their Pakistani citizenship and applied to Jalandhar’s Collector in the prescribed format for the grant of Indian citizenship. Initially their applications were marked to Jalandhar’s Senior Superintendent of Police for verification of antecedents, but ultimately no action was taken on their pleas.

Counsel had further submitted that the police, instead of helping them out, was harassing them. They were being asked to leave Jalandhar and go back to Pakistan or any other part of the country, even though they had become “part and parcel” of society. Children had been born to them in India. In fact, they had married in India and had purchased property in the country. Some of them had even been issued voter identity cards, along with ration cards.

After going through the documents and hearing arguments in the case, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Amar Dutt, also asked the petitioners to file an affidavit regarding the current status of their applications.

Bail plea

Taking up a petition filed by approver in the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam Jagman Singh seeking the grant of bail, besides the quashing of a section in the Code of Criminal Procedure which stated that an approver would continue to remain in jail till the trial concluded, the High Court today fixed July 14 as the next date of hearing.

Seeking directions for the striking down of the Section, the petitioner had contended that the same was unconstitutional. Jagman’s counsel had asserted that all other accused in the case, except him, had been released on bail. Even accused who had turned approver at a later stage were out on bail.

Telecom staff

Are the cases of officials working with the erstwhile Department of Telecom maintainable before the Central Administrative Tribunal? This important question of law will come up for arguments before a Division Bench of the High Court on July 29.

The employees, working as Divisional Engineers with the Punjab Telecom circle, had earlier challenged their transfer. Their application was disposed of by the Central Administrative Tribunal as being barred by jurisdiction. Aggrieved by the order, the petitioners had moved the High Court claiming that the CAT had the jurisdiction as they were continuing as the officers of the Government of India’s Department of Telecom.

Giving details, the petitioners had asserted before the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice N.K. Sud, that they were working in the cadre of Indian Telecom service and were on deemed deputation with the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited.


Ravi in spate, 60 villages threatened
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 8
More than 60 villages in Narot Mehra have been threatened by floods as the Ravi has been flowing above the danger level following heavy rains. The villages of Bamial, Narot, Bhawalpur are among those threatened by floods.

The rains which lashed Narot Mehra on Friday had threatened the Pantoon bridge constructed on the Ravi near Kathlore as its waters was flowing over the bridge. The residents of these villages have to pay exhorbitant-charges to contractors for ferrying them to their homes.

Mr Rampal of Bamial village has said the residents of the villages situated on the banks of the Ravi are sore about the callous attitude of the district administration. 


MiG crash: failure of landing gear suspected
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 8
A major tragedy was averted by sheer providence yesterday when the MiG-23BN combat aircraft, which took off from the Halwara air force station, crashed into paddy fields near Mahianwala Kalan village barely at a stone’s throw from a cooperative mill and a private school. Had the aircraft crashed a few more hundred metres away, it would have caused loss of human life.

Sources disclosed that the aircraft had developed some technical snag while attempting to land at the airbase apparently due to the failure of the landing gear, forcing the pilot, Flt Lt Nikhil Gupta to abandon the jet at some open area. A court of inquiry had been instituted to determine the reason behind the crash.

An Air Force official, on the condition of anonymity, said the aircraft were more than two decades old, and the likelihood of such technical snag was natural. On April 4 this year, five members of a family were killed when a MiG-23BN, which took off from Halwara, crashed into a residential area near Mullanpur Dakha, 20 km from Ludhiana.

The Air Force sources said although exact details of the crash would be clear only after the court of inquiry submit its report, the apparent reason could be a technical snag in the undercarriage or the landing gear, which probably failed to descend before landing.

The pilot bailed out after detecting an unspecified fault and the aircraft plunged into the distributory canal situated close to the Zira Cooperative mill and then cascaded into the fields covering a distance of around 250 metres before finally coming to halt. The school across the road just opposite to the fields, where the jet crashed, is barely a few hundred metres away.


Trees felled illegally in NFL colony
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), July 8
With the sacking of the Punjab Forest Minister, another case of reckless felling of trees has come to the fore here. The NFL had recently allowed the felling of 297 trees from its colony.

Contractor has illegally felled 28 trees in addition to the 297 trees for which the permission was given, in Naya Nangal Colony of National Fertilizers Ltd (NFL) taking the total number of trees cut to 325. The matter was detected yesterday evening by the Assistant Commandant, CISF, Mr Jagtar Singh, entrusted with the security of the NFL plant.

According to sources, following a tip-off, the Assistant Commandant along with his force reached the spot where the contractor Bakhshish Singh was supervising the felling of trees. He found that many of the pits made while cutting trees were filled by the contractor and his men with fly ash. When the Assistant Commandant summoned the records, he found that the contractor had felled 28 trees in excess. He handed over the contractor and his two men along with tractor-trailers loaded with felled trees to the Naya Nangal police.

The Assistant Commandant when contacted confirmed that he handed over the contractor and his two men to the police. A complaint along with names of the contractor and the sub-contractor who were caught red-handed while felling the trees was also given to the police, he said.

The police had not registered any case in the matter till the filing of the report. The SHO, Nangal, Mr Varinderjit Singh, when contacted said the statements of the accused were being recorded.

The sources also said the NFL had initially given the contract for cutting 297 trees from its colony area to two main contractors — Mr Rajesh Kumar and Mr Ranjit Singh. The 297 trees, including eucalyptus, mango, neem and sareeh most of which were about 20-year-old were sold just for Rs 2.6 lakh as compared to their market value of about Rs 10 to 15 lakh.

As per the practice followed earlier, the NFL authorities used to auction trees on single tree basis. However, this time due to unprecedented reasons, the auction of trees was conducted on collective basis. Moreover, the NFL authorities turned a blind eye to the fact that contractors further gave the contract to the sub-contractor, who resorted to illegal felling of trees.

Mr R.K. Dikshit, Executive Director of the Nangal plant, when contacted said the General Manager (Operation and Maintenance) had been deputed to enquire into the matter. He further maintained that the NFL management would take strict action against the contractor responsible for the theft of trees.


MLA Kangar’s arrest stayed till July 21
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 8
Mr Karnail Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, today stayed the arrest of Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, an independent MLA of Rampura Phul till July 21 after he moved an application for anticipatory bail as his name figured in the FIR registered in connection with a criminal case against a trader Mr Mohinder Pal at police station, Rampura in the second week of June 2003.

The case against Mr Mohinder Pal was registered under Section 380 of the IPC after he was found guilty of forcibly taking the television sets, seized by the employees of Municipal Council, Rampura Phul in November last, from their custody. The inquiry was conducted by SP (H), Mr Harbhajan Singh in a complaint lodged in same connection by an advocate to SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh. Mr Mohinder Singh was arrested in this case also.

Though the police pointed out that Mr Kangar was not guilty of committing any offence, he applied for anticipatory bail as he was apprehending that some government might harass him at the instance of his political opponents.

Sources said that Mr Gurjant Singh, Assistant Sub Inspector (ASI), Punjab Police, who was present in the court today, stated that involvement of Mr Kangar was not found in the case registered against Mr Mohinder Pal.

As per the facts of the case Mr Charanjit Singh Jatana, former president of local Municipal Council, who stopped the truck carrying television sets in October last and later seized the same, had alleged that Mr Mohinder Pal along with Mr Kangar took away the TV sets after pressurizing the Municipal Council employees. The TV sets were kept at local fire station after these were seized. The then Executive Officer of the municipal council, Mr Rakesh Kumar Garg had also written to the authorities concerned for registering case against Mr Mohinder Pal and Mr Kangar but nothing came out of it.

After few months, a case was registered against Mr Mohinder Pal. In the same FIR, the name of Mr Kangar also figured but he was not found guilty of committing any offence by the inquiry made by the police and civil officials.

Information revealed that Mr Kangar earned the displeasure of the Congress government when he along with two other independent MLAs including Mr Sukhdarshan Singh Mrar and Mr Harmeet Singh decided to boycott the Panthic conference organised at Talwandi Sabo on the occasion of Baisakhi by MLA, Mr Jeet Mohinder Singh Sidhu. All these three MLAs boycotted the Panthic conference on the pretext that they were not taken into confidence by Mr Sidhu before converting the Azad conference into Panthic conference and for inviting former speaker, Mr Ravi Inder Singh to attend the same.

Information revealed that state Congress government was trying to make the Panthic conference a big success by mobilising maximum number of people to send a message to the people that the Akali Dal had emerged strong into the state which could provide an alternative to the SAD (Badal) headed by former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

After this incident, a case was registered against Mr Raj Balwinder Singh, a police official and son of Mr Mrar, MLA, who boycotted the same. Mr Kangar was also conveyed the displeasure of a section of Congress leadership for not participating into that conference.

Mr Kangar, when contacted, said that he was not involved in forcibly taking away the television from the employees of municipal council. He said that he had applied for anticipatory bail, as he feared that his political opponents would make attempts to get him implicated in false criminal case.


6 months’ jail for New Mandi Township official
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 8
The local District Consumer and Disputes Redressal Forum has sentenced the Administrator, New Mandi Township, Punjab, based in Sector 22, Chandigarh to imprisonment of six months and imposed a fine of Rs 3,000 for non-compliance of the order of the forum of December 10, 2001. The president of the forum, Mr Amarjit Singh Katari, has further ordered that in case of default in payment of fine, the Administrator shall further undergo imprisonment for three months and non-bailable warrants be issued against the Administrator for his arrest and detention for above period.

Earlier, in an order of December 10, 2001, the forum had directed the Administrator to deliver the possession of a plot and pay interest at the rate of 12 per cent per annum on the amount of installments paid by complainants Sital Parkash and Amar Nath, residents of Talwandi Bhai, from the date of its deposit till realisation. The forum had also directed the Administrator to refund Rs 10,332 and pay Rs 500 as cost of litigation within three months. It had further directed to provide basic amenities to the complainants within six months. 


687 acres given to farmers
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 8
In the last phase of handing over the demined fields to farmers about 687 acres were handed over to farmers by Brig R.C. Malik in a programme arranged by Army in the border village of Mumbeki, 10 km from here today.

The possession of the fields which has been given to farmers include 235 acres in Muradwala village, 181 acres in Aspal, 147 acres in Sabuana village, 117 acres in Mumbeki village and 7 acres in Sawarwali. All these border villages are adjacent to each other. With this the process of demining has been completed in the Fazilka sector. Mr Bhupinder Singh Saharan, SDM, Fazilka, Mr B.S. Yadav, Commandant, 141 Battalion, BSF, and senior Army officers attended the programme.

While addressing the gathering Brigdier Malik said it was for the first time in the world that the fields had been demined and returned to the farmers in short span of six months. He claimed that such a vast demining operation had never been undertaken earlier. He said demining was a real challenge for the Army men. Jawans risked their lives and some even died during these operations. He said in certain places the rats had buried the mines 1.5 metres deep in to the earth. At some places the mines were bitten by the rates. At certain places dry wheat fields caught fire due to the short circuit as a result of which the mines became more sensitive and additional caution had to be exercised while demining. He praised Army officers, jawans and civilians for their whole hearted cooperation.

The SDM while speaking on the occasion said the government had disbursed Rs 12.20 crore as compensation to the farmers in whose fields mines were laid. In the second year Rs 2.20 crore was disbursed to affected farmers at the rate of Rs 2,200 per acre.

Mr Sandeep Gilhotra, Mr Amar Chand Bhatej, Patron and PRO, respectively of the War Memorial Committee, Asafwala, Fazilka, and villagers demanded immediate release of the second instalment of compensation, ensure the flow of water in canals to enable the farmers to sow in fields.


Traders suffer as ETO, ST advocate lock horns
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 8
The tussle between a senior advocate of the Sales Tax Department and the local Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO) has affected the working of the local excise office, besides causing great inconvenience to traders. Lawyers’ and traders’ organisations have now become involved in the tussle.

The ETO is reportedly urging traders’ organisations to give an affidavit in his support, even as the president of the District Beopar Mandal has condemned the former’s behaviour.

Traders said the ETO had stopped doing official work on the plea that his powers had been withdrawn. They had approached the Additional Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), who authorised another ETO to get their work done.

The ETO also approached the local police to get registered a DDR against the lawyer. However, the police turned down his request, asking him to follow proper procedure.

Meanwhile, the District Taxation Bar Association, Mandi Gobindgarh, has passed a resolution to boycott the ETO.

The tussle started over a complaint against the ETO by Mr Naresh Kumar, a trader of Khamano Mandi in the district, to the AETC, levelling charges of corruption, extortion, harassment and threats being issued by the ETO to close down his business. He also submitted an affidavit alleging that the ETO had taken bribe from him many times. He said the ETO was now again asking him to pay Rs 10,000 as bribe or face dire consequences.

The ETO suspected that the advocate had a hand in lodging the complaint. The ETO issued a press note making allegations against a senior advocate of the Sale Tax Department.

After the publication of the news item in this regard, the District Taxation Bar Association, Mandi Gobindgarh, held a meeting and decided to boycott the office of the ETO till he apologised and withdrew the allegations made against the senior advocate.

After the boycott call, the ETO approached lawyers at Sirhind and claimed that some lawyers had extended support to him. Sources said the ETO also approached the traders’ organisation and his colleagues to get their support but to no avail.

Mr Ashok Gupta, AETC, said he had not received any communication regarding the withdrawal of powers of the ETO. However, he admitted that some traders had told him that the ETO had stopped doing official work and he marked their papers. He said the ETO had no right to issue a press note without the prior permission of the AETC’s office.

Meanwhile, Mr Varinder Rattan, president of the District Beopar Mandal, has demanded the immediate transfer of the ETO. He demanded a probe into the corruption charges levelled against the ETO. 


Road caves in after just one month
Our Correspondent

Ropar July 8
The road laid along the newly constructed bridge on the Sirsa river, near here, has peeled off in just one month. The construction of the road was completed just a month ago by a Chandigarh-based firm at a cost of about Rs 3.5 crore.

The road was opened to traffic just a fortnight ago. However, it caved in due to the poor compaction of the earth put to raise the height of the road. Due to poor compaction, the road did not sustain even the pre-monsoon rains and developed deep pits and bumps along the entire stretch of about 2 km. Even the concrete channels formed for draining out rainwater from the road have broken.

The sources said due to the poor compaction and the quality of earth used to raise the level of road, the road is being washed away even by light rains. So, precarious is the condition of the road that traffic on it has once again been stopped.

It has supplemented problems for the commuters. Earlier, when the bridge and newly laid road were opened to traffic, the old road was closed. Now that the traffic has once again been diverted to the old road, the vehicles have to cover bumpy portion filled with stones. Due to this in the past few days many trucks have been damaged.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, when contacted on the matter, said the contractor had been directed to relay the entire damaged portion of the road. If the contractor failed to relay the road, action would be taken against him. An inquiry would also be held into the role of the officers who supervised the laying of the road.

Meanwhile, the work for the relaying of the road had also been started, she added.


ICICI Bank told to return car
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
The District Consumer Dispute Redressal Forum has directed ICICI Bank here to return a car, allegedly taken into possession by the bank “forcibly”.

This is for the first time that a court has directed the bank to return a car taken into possession by it.

Mr Amarjit Singh owner of an electronics shop, complaint to the forum had stated that he had taken loan from the bank for purchasing car. He alleged that despite his paying instalments regularly to the bank, except two instalments, it forcibly took possession of the vehicle on November 23. Mr Amarjit alleged that the bank took the possession of the car without any notice. He said he approached the manager of Ranjit Avenue branch of the bank and urged ‘him to release the vehicle, but he did not release the vehicle. Mr Amarjit complained to the forum on February 2 in this regard.

The bank had pleaded that the complainant was not paying the instalments and defaulted in the payment of two instalments. It said the complainant was also served a notice on November 7 to pay the instalments, but he did not reply or made the payment. The bank further said that he (the complainant) himself surrendered the vehicle to it.

The forum maintained that no notice was given by the bank to the complainant for the payment of the instalments as per the agreement. It further stated that in the copy of notice submitted by the bank to the forum, the date had been altered from November 22 to November 7.

The forum held that the vehicle was taken into possession by the bank forcibly and it was not surrendered by the complainant.

Directing the bank to return the car, the forum further directed the complainant to pay the amount or instalments due till November 23 at the time of taking delivery of the vehicle from the bank. It said the complainant would not be liable to pay the principal amount of instalment and interest till the delivery of the vehicle to him.


‘Enforce PNDT Act effectively’
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 8
The District Advisory Committee (DAC) for the implementation of the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques (PNDT) Act 1994 at a meeting here today recommended to the district authorities to implement the Medical Termination of Pregnancy (MTP) Act 1971 properly to get the PNDT Act implemented, effectively. Under the MTP Act the abortions can be done only at the government approved centres by the government approved doctors under some specific conditions only.

However, some members at the meeting expressed surprise when they came to know that there was no authorised private MTP centre in the district so far. It is learnt that the district health authorities received 15 applications so far from the owners of the MTP centres for approving their MTP centres, but no decision had been taken by the appropriate authorities as yet.

The DAC meeting was attended among others by Dr J.R. Bansal, Civil Surgeon and District Appropriate Authority for the PNDT Act; Dr Nirpal Singh, senior gynaecologist; Dr Surinder Singla, a representative of the IMA; Dr P.S. Kler, Child specialist; and Mrs Kusam Garg, a social worker. The agenda of the today’s meeting was implementation of the PNDT Act in the district.

The meeting also recommended that inspection of the ultrasound centres and the MTP centres should be done by an inspection team, having a member of the IMA and a social worker/NGO representative alongwith other members. It also recommended that the inspection team should not be from the same subdivision.

It has also been recommended that to educate the owners of the ultrasound centres and the MTP centres regarding changes in the PNDT Act and the MTP Act, seminars and workshops should be organised in the district.

Sources said members also viewed that some ultrasound centres were still allegedly doing sex-determination tests in different parts of the district charging Rs 2500 to Rs 3500. On this, the Civil Surgeon reportedly assured the members that he would prepare a plan to nab the violators of the PNDT Act.

Dr Surinder Singla, IMA representative urged the Civil Surgeon either to approve the private MTP centres (when had already applied for getting approval) or disapprove the same after taking up the matter with the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab. Dr Singla also suggested to the Civil Surgeon that in future the registration application of the MTP centre should be finalised in a month after the submission of application by the MTP centre concerned.


MC fails to check encroachment on parks
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 8
This city — known as the heart land of the Malwa region — has got various titles during the rule of different governments of Punjab. First, it was called “Sharjah” of Punjab. Then it was named the “Textile City” of Punjab. Again it was given a new name as the “Future City” of Punjab.

However, the successive governments of state have failed to provide basic amenities to the residents of the city, which boasts of having the first thermal power plant in state besides, Asia’s biggest cantonment, fertiliser plant and various academic institutions. Besides failing to provide basic amenities, the authorities concerned have also failed to check the activities of land mafia, who have been encroaching upon public land and developing unauthorised colonies on private land by violating the existing laws.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the local Municipal Corporation authorities had been finding it difficult to get land earmarked as parks or green belt vacated from the alleged encroachers due to “political pressure” and litigation going in various courts.

Corporation sources said about 10 parks, measuring more than 10,000 square yards worth several crores of rupees had been encroached upon by private persons, while a number of parks had been partially encroached upon by people. A section of encroachers were not being taken to task by the corporation authorities allegedly due to their “political connections” and association to land mafias. Most of the parks, which had been encroached upon, belonged to the town planning scheme colonies.

Mr Ravinder Singla, Assistant Municipal Engineer (AME), Municipal Corporation, pointed out that about 76 parks were in the possession of the corporation and only a few parks had been encroached upon. He added that civil suits were pending in courts in connection with these parks.

He added that notices for eviction of encroachers from parks had been issued to some people. Apart from this, civil suits had also been instituted in various courts to secure the claims of corporation over these parks. A close watch was also being kept on the parks, which were in possession of the corporation.

Official sources said the corporation authorities had also been finding it difficult to protect the parks and green spaces in the city from the encroachers as it faced on acute shortage of funds for developing the same and erecting the boundary walls around them. A few months ago, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who visited this city, had announced that the state government would give a special grant of Rs 2 crore but the same was yet to be received.


DGP inaugurates traffic institute
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 8
Punjab Director-General of Police Mahal Singh Bhullar inaugurated the Punjab Police Traffic Management Institute at the Punjab Police Academy, here today.

The academy Director, Dr G.S. Aujla, and the IG, Traffic, Mr R.C. Parshad, were present on the occasion. The institute is aimed at providing comprehensive training to the police personnel of all ranks in all aspects of the traffic management. It will strive to concentrate on basic and applied research work pertaining to different aspects of road safety.

The IG, Traffic, Mr R.C. Parshad, while giving details of the institute, said the institute had its own traffic training park and a traffic laboratory equipped with various gadgets. While talking to this correspondent, DGP Bhullar favoured the introduction of “police commissionerate system” in different phases in the state to improve the efficiency of the force like that in Delhi and other states. He said the plan was under consideration of the Chief Minister.


Muslim youth embraces Hinduism
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
A Muslim youth of Turkey adopted Hindu religion as per Hindu rituals here today.

Unsal Ozenen (25), a national of Turkey adopted Hindu religion in the presence of Hindu leaders including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad, the Bajrang Dal and the Arya Samaj. He changed his name to Shankar Natrajan Arya.

In his affidavit he said that, “I am Muslim by faith and I am changing my religion with my consent without any pressure, undue influence or threat. I adopt this religion after inspiring from holy books of Hindus as well as reading from the Internet regarding qualities and basics of Hindu religion.” He had read ‘Dancing with Shiva’ written by Subramanyam Swami, ‘Bhagwat Gita’ and ‘Chandi Path’ written by Satyanand Saraswati besides ‘Loving Ganesha’, ‘Devi Gita’.

Mr Unsal talking to ‘The Tribune’ said his family members did not object.

Answering queries he said the fundamentalists had distorted the face of Islamd which affected this (Islam) religion. He said terrorism had no place in Islam.


4 killed in mishap

Amritsar, July 8
Four persons were killed when their van collided with a truck near Rayya in the district today, the police said. The occupants of the van were coming from Dehra Dun to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple here. Surinder Singh (27), Harjit Singh (47), Inderjit Singh (27) and Amit (22) died on the spot and it took two hours to extract their bodies from the damaged van. — PTI


Bank manager’s kin move NHRC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 8
Even as the sensational murder case of Naresh Mahajan, manager of the Oriental Bank of Commerce, has changed hands for the fourteenth time, family members, including Mr Banarsi Dass Mahajan, father of the deceased, today approached the National Human Rights Commission and the Punjab Human Rights Commission for justice.

More than four years have passed since the crime was committed. Being a case of ‘parallel banking’ the murder had rocked the Parliament two times and was allegedly being hushed up due to the involvement of some big-wigs of the city.

Mr Banarsi Das in a letter to the NHRC alleged that the bank had threatened them (the family) of dire consequences if they pursued the case. He alleged the case was being hushed up with money and power.


Lawyers hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 8
Members of the local Bar Association, along with representatives of some organisations of the town, began a dharna in the court complex here today demanding district headquarters status for Fazilka and setting up of a court of Additional District and Sessions Judge here.

A meeting of the Bar Association decried the “step-motherly” treatment being given to people of Fazilka.


19 cops get local rank of Inspector
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 8
Almost two years after the Punjab and Haryana High Court reverted several ORP rank police officers in the state, the state Police Department has in a controversial order promoted 19 policemen to the ‘special’ local rank of an Inspector.

The high court had ordered the reversion of the policemen, who had got ‘out of turn’ appointments during the terrorism era on the basis of their ‘brilliant’ performance in combating terrorism. The ORP scheme was always mired in controversy as it was alleged that fake police encounters and sycophancy instead of merit had got the policemen the rank.

However, 19 of such policemen got back (some of them even better) the ranks following fresh orders by the Director-General of Police yesterday. The orders mentioned that the department had reviewed the cases of these policemen and found that they did commendable work during terrorism and were being promoted on merit.

The orders did not mention the controversial Own Rank and Pay (ORP) scheme and seemed to circumvent the high court orders by omitting the term. Instead, now it had been referred as a local rank. These orders had been issued by the DGP while exercising his powers under the Punjab Police Rules 13.21 and 13.2(A).

The policemen included Sub-Inspectors (SI), Assistant Sub-Inspectors (ASI) and Head Constables. All of them would function on the one-rank higher post than their existing one. The Head Constables would work as ASIs, ASIs as SIs and so on while all of them would enjoy the local rank of an Inspector, the orders said.

According to a copy of orders dated July 7, No. 20741.72.E1 with The Tribune, the promoted policemen have been directed to report to the DIG, Personnel, Chandigarh, by tomorrow at 10.00 a.m.

The orders said, “The following police officers did commendable work on the anti-terrorist front and their OPR/ad hoc ranks were withdrawn under court orders on August 30, 2001. Now these cases have been reviewed on merit and the DGP while exercising his power under the PPR rules has approved their names for promotion.”

The promotees had also been directed to bring with them the pips of their new ranks to be put on their shoulders by the DGP.

Following are the promotees who will function as Inspectors: SI Baldev Singh ,SI Vikram Chand, SI Naveen Kumar, SI Nirmal Singh, SI Maninder Bedi, SI Balwinder Singh

Sub-Inspectors: ASI Sant Singh, ASI Jarnail Singh , ASI Jarnail Singh, ASI Mehnga Singh ASI Udham Singh ASI Kuldip Singh, ASI Jaswinder Singh ASI Mohinder Kumar, ASI Gurbhinder Singh, ASI Gurcharan Singh.

Assistant Sub-Inspectors: HC Prem Dass HC, Tilak Raj and HC Gurinderjit Singh.


Suicide: Akali leader’s kin booked

Moga, July 8
The case of alleged suicide by senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader Gurdyal Singh on Sunday last today took a new turn after the Punjab Police booked five family members of the leader, including his two sons and wife, for harassing the old man.

After the recovery of a diary written in Urdu in which the deceased SAD leader had alleged that he was being harassed by his family members the police converted the earlier Section 174 of IPC (suicide) to Section 306 of the IPC (abetment to suicide), the police said here.

The police has registered a case against the SAD leader’s sons Kuldeep Singh and Navtej Singh, his wife Sukhwinder Kaur, son-in-law Mohinder Singh and daughter-in-law Kuljeet Kaur.

Mr Gundeep Singh, (75) former sarpanch of Baghapurana, had allegedly shot himself with his revolver in his residence on Sunday.

No arrest had been made in this case so far. — PTI


One murdered, 2 hurt in quarrel

Patiala, July 8
One person was murdered and two others were injured in a quarrel between neighbours in the Gobind Nagar locality of the city on the Sirhind road today.

According to police sources, a quarrel between two neighbours resulted in the murder of one neighbour who was attacked with knives. The sources said Gobind Nagar resident Bhupinder Singh and his brothers, Pritam Singh and Joginder Singh, were attacked by their neighbours, Bhupinder Singh, Balbir Singh and Mangal Singh.

The sources said the victims were first called out of their house and then attacked with sharpedged weapons. They said following the incident Bhupinder Singh was wounded and was taken to Government Rajindra Hospital where he was declared brought dead. Pritam Singh sustained serious injuries and is admitted to the hospital, while Joginder Singh has sustained minor injuries. TNS


4 booked for duping people
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 8
The local police has registered an FIR under Sections 406 and 420, CrPC, against four proprietors of the Mahalakshmi Home Needs, who allegedly decamped with lakhs of rupees collected from local residents on the promise of supplying them household goods at cheaper rates.

The SHO, Kotwali, Mr William Jeji, said he had not got any complaint in the matter yet. He said some local persons, who were working for the firm, had been rounded up for investigations. On earlier complaints he had taken photographs and addresses of the proprietors of the firm and put a notice on the shop to warn people, he added.

He said he had also sent a report to the higher authorities, but as the proprietors had permanent account number and sales tax number, no action was initiated against them.


52 booked for forging sale deeds

Pathankot, July 8
The Narot Jaimal Singh police, here has booked 52 persons for executing fake sale deeds pertaining to the land belonging to the Khiala village panchayat.

According to the police, the Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur, has told the SSP, Gurdaspur, that the accused have on various dates executed the sale deeds belonging to the gram panchayat which were entered in the revenue record in the name of the gram panchayat.

The FIR revealed that the khasra girdawaris and jamabandis were in the name of the panchayat but the accused had forged sale deeds.

It is asserted that despite the orders of a court in favour of the gram panchayat, the accused have cut the crop sown by the panchayat and when the members of the panchayat tried to stop them they threatened to kill them.

Acting on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner, the police has registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 379 of the IPC. According to sources the police has arrested 17 accused so far.


6 booked for threatening tenant
Our Correspondent

Bathinda, July 8
The police yesterday registered a case under various sections of the IPC against six persons for allegedly threatening Mr Hari Parsad, a tenant of a shop in the Sadar Bazaar area of the city, and damaging the roof of the shop last evening.

According to a copy of the FIR registered at the kotwali police station, Ramesh Kumar, Jiwan Kumar, Raj Kumar, Radhe Sham, Ramesh Kumar and Arun Shekhawat went to the shop of Mr Parsad, where he is a tenant for the past 20 years. They allegedly used derogatory language and threatened him to vacate the shop.

The complainant alleged that the accused damaged the roof of the shop to force him out of the shop and when he and one of his relatives resisted they were attacked with sharp-edged weapons. The accused fled after injuring Mr Parsad and his relative, who had been hospitalised to the local civil hospital.

A case under Sections 452, 447, 427, 323, 511, 506, 148 and 149, IPC, had been registered. However, no arrest have been made so far.


Four arrested in murder case
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 8
The police has arrested Balkishan Sharma, his sons Rakesh Kumar, alias Vicky, and Navdeep Sharma residents of Ward No 1, Mahilpur and Amandeep a resident of Uchi Bassi, Dasuya, in the Ram Tirath Kaur murder case.

In a press note here today Mrs Gurpreet Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur, said Balkishan was the owner of computer institute at Mahilpur where Ram Tirath Kaur, was working as an instructor. On June 22, 2003, Ram Tirath did not return to her house in Daduwa village after duty. When her parents contacted Mr Balkishan Sharma, the latter told them that she had gone to visit her relatives in Phagwara. However, she had not gone there and the next day her body was found in an under construction building opposite the computer centre.

Mrs Deo said the arrests had been made on the basis of circumstantial evidence. Two of the arrested persons, Navdeep Sharma and Amandeep, had also slept at the computer institute the day Ram Tirath Kaur was murdered. The blood samples of the arrested persons were being sent for DNA analysis to the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics, Hyderabad. Earlier, Sanjay Kumar , a peon working in the same institute, was arrested, she added.


Engineering college likely to get autonomy
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 8
The local Giani Zail Singh College of Engineering and Technology is likely to get an autonomy within a month or so as the task force of Punjab Technical University (PTU) has recommended the same to the Board of Governors headed by the Punjab Technical Education Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee.

The college will become the first state government-run institute in Punjab, after a formal approval for the same is given by the Board of Governors whenever its meeting is held.

Talking to TNS today, Dr Gurdip Singh, Principal of the college, pointed out that the college, which was set up in 1989 by the state government, was already having working and financial autonomy. Now the task force of the PTU, constituted for the purpose of improving the functioning of technical institutes and headed by Dr Kala Nidhi, had recommended for an academic autonomy for the college.

“I have yet to take up the academic autonomy case with the chairman of the Board of Governors, Mr Kaypee, and I hope, the matter would be through within a month or so. The academic autonomy to this college will usher a new era of development in academic fields as the college would be able to get special monetary grants from the University Grants Commission (UGC),” Dr Gurdip Singh said.

After the academic autonomy is given, the college authorities will be able to start new courses, draft syllabus and conduct examinations for different courses. The autonomy will also enable the college authorities to expand the academic scope of the college.

Apart from it, the student of the college will be able to get their routine work pertaining to the university level done in this campus. Academic activities like holding of examination and declaration of the results won’t be delayed, official sources said.

Dr Gurdip Singh pointed out that the authorities would not recruit extra employees to handle the burden, which they would have to bear after the college was granted academic autonomy.

Meanwhile, the PTU had converted the local college into a regional centre and had allowed the college authorities to start master degree courses in civil engineering, power engineering, mechanical engineering and electronics engineering from the current academic session. The PTU had also allowed the college authorities to register students for Ph.D in civil engineering and electrical engineering courses for the current academic session.

Dr Gurdip Singh pointed out that 20 students would be admitted in each master degree courses, and five additional seats in each course would be kept for outsiders and open candidates. He added that three students had deposited applications for getting themselves registered for Ph.D courses.

He said about 350 students had been admitted in different bachelor degree courses against the total intake of 370 students in the current academic session.

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