Sunday, July 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Vigilance asks banks to ‘seal’ Badal’s accounts

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has asked different banks to “seal” the accounts of former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal against whom a disproportionate assets case has been registered.

Vigilance Bureau sources said here late tonight that they had written to different banks including Punjab National Bank, Punjab and Sind Bank and Bank of Punjab to “seal” the accounts of Mr Badal in different branches in Chandigarh, Delhi and Punjab for scrutinising the accounts to check the transactions made in the past few years.

The sources said the bureau teams had been sent to Delhi for searching residential properties of Mr Badal and his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, in the Capital and in Gurgaon. — PTI


CM trying to ‘weaken’ SAD
Tribune News Service

Alamgir (Ludhiana) July 12
Former Chief Minister and the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today ridiculed the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, for filing a defamation suit against three NDA leaders. Talking to reporters here today, Mr Badal maintained that Capt Amarinder Singh had filed the suit in his defence.

Mr Badal alleged that the Chief Minister had made false declaration in the suit before the court. He claimed that in order to get custom duty exemption for his factory, Capt Amarinder Singh had claimed it to be a 100 per cent export-oriented unit. “Although he got the exemption but in actual terms the production was for domestic consumption only”, Mr Badal alleged, saying that, “those who live in glass houses do not throw stones at others”.

The former Chief Minister observed that Capt Amarinder had launched a campaign to malign his and the image of the Shiromani Akali Dal. “He knows it very well that nothing is coming out of it, but he only wants to defame and malign us”, he observed, while adding “earlier they used to say that we had taken all the money to USA and now they have reached to the conclusion that we have sent everything to Haryana”.

Mr Badal reiterated his stand that whatever property he possessed whether in Punjab, Haryana or Rajasthan was his ancestral property. He disclosed that his land in Rajasthan had been inherited from his maternal grandmother, who was the only daughter of her parents. He declared that if it was proved that he had made a single penny by corrupt or illegal means and invested it abroad, he was prepared to take any punishment deemed fit by the public. “I will go to the jail for as many years as the people decide if I am proved corrupt”, he said.

He alleged that the Chief Minister had tried to weaken the Akali Dal. “But this has united the Akali workers and they had given an overwhelming response to us in our counter-campaign against the government”, he said, while declaring that the Akali Dal was going to the people and organising regular public meetings. He maintained that the morale of the Akali workers was quite high and they had accepted the challenge and it was already taking up the shape of a mass movement.

About installing Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra as the SGPC president, Mr Badal said a meeting of all senior leaders had been convened on July 16. He said the arrangements were being worked out and all concerned would be taken into confidence before taking any final decision.

MOGA: Seeking the support of the people of Punjab, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president and Leader of Opposition in Punjab Assembly Parkash Singh Badal on Saturday claimed that his party would dislodge the Capt Amarinder Singh government “in five months,’’ a UNI report said.

Addressing a gathering at the district level party rally here, Mr Badal said the Congress government had only one-point agenda of harassing and defaming the Akalis in the state.

He said the law and order situation in Punjab was getting from bad to worse, while the Chief Minister had been “exposed of his political vindictiveness against the SAD in the name of anti-corruption drive’’.

Mr Badal appealed to the people to rise like a strong wind to uproot the Congress government which, he alleged, was trying to blot the glorious history of Punjab through its wrong policies and tactics, which were aimed against the Sikhs.

Reacting to the expulsion of Punjab Minister of State for Forests Dr Harbans Lal, Mr Badal said the Chief Minister should take a similar action against four of his other ministers who had already been indicted by the Lok Pal.


CM’s reply misleading, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Shiromani Akali Dal President Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today described as “totally unsatisfactory and misleading” Capt Amarinder Singh’s letter to the Union Finance Minister, Mr Jaswant Singh regarding allegations of grave fiscal irregularities committed by him and his mushroom venture. “The letter has further deepened the mystery of his dubious money deals before and after assuming office as Chief Minister”.

Mr Badal asked Mr Amarinder Singh to come clean on the details of the loan, the exact amount, payments made over the past five years, circumstances under which he was declared a defaulter and the sources from which he got the money to clear the liability.

“Amazingly, he is silent on all these counts. If all his business ventures had failed, as claimed by him in his settlement with the bank, then what exactly was the source from which he got the money to steer clear of default?”

Mr Badal said that the Chief Minister must make his position clear on the crores that allegedly changed hands during the allotment of the Congress ticket for the February poll last year.

“The timing of the repayment of the loan, as claimed by Amarinder in his letter to Mr Jaswant Singh, coincides intriguingly with his emergence as President of the PPCC. He must tell the people of Punjab how exactly has he managed to come out of the financial woods even as his business ventures were flopping one after the other by his own admission”, said Mr Badal.

In a statement here, the Akali leader advised the Chief Minister “not to get panicky and face his nemesis with poise and cool courage and not keep rushing to Delhi to offer pathetic explanations.”

“The people of Punjab will see the real face of corruption behind the mask of righteous anger put on by Amarinder and his men. To begin with, let him agree to an independent and impartial probe into the disappearance of Rs 2 crore from the bank lockers in the PPSC scam and into why the Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had to rebuke his Administration for misdirecting the course of investigations in the recruitment scandal. It has just got started”.

Referring to Mr Amarinder Singh’s clarification on the allegations regarding the customs duty he owed to the government, Mr Badal asked if the Chief Minister was so sure of his facts, why was he shy of an independent probe into the entire episode, beginning with the setting up of the project.


Order probe against “corrupt” officers, Amarinder told
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Senior BJP leaders Balramji Dass Tandon and Madan Mohan Mittal have challenged Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to order on inquiry against “corrupt bureaucrats and ministers” in his Cabinet by an independent investigating agency.

In a joint statement here today, they pooh-poohed the anti-corruption campaign of the Chief Minister, criticising him for shielding “corrupt” officials and ministers.

They termed the campaign against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family as a mere political stunt.

They also dared the Chief Minister to file defamation cases against the three central ministers — Mr Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Madan Lal Khurana — within the next 24-hours if there was any truth in his claims regarding bank loans and customs duty.


Selection board member attacks Badal
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 12
Mr Avtar Singh Sidhu, member, Punjab Subordinate Service Selection Board (PSSSB) and one of the confidants of the Chief Minister, Capt Amrinder’s Singh today attacked Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his kin by alleging that they were making attempts to bring back black days in Punjab.

Mr Sidhu alleged that the SAD and the BJP were creating hurdles in the anti-corruption drive launched by Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Sidhu is the third one among the confidants of Capt Amarinder Singh of this region, who has come to his “help” in his fight against Mr Badal and others. Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda and Mr Harinder Singh Jaurkian, Member, PSSSB, two other confidants of Capt Amarinder Singh had already been inserting advertisements in various dailies to project Capt Amarinder Singh as hero of Punjab by making people aware of his honesty, dedication and bravery apart from connection of his clan with two Sikh gurus.

A cross section of Congressmen, to whom TNS talked to today, pointed out that when differences arose between Capt Amarinder Singh and Member Parliament, Mr Jagmeet Brar before the party came into power in Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh got huge support from state Congressmen. However, the feeling among a large section of partymen at this moment was that there was an open fight between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Badal and they were not asked to “do anything” till now neither by elected representatives not by the party functionaries.

A senior functionary of the Congress on the condition of anonymity said the party should launch a series of rallies to make the people aware of the alleged misdeeds of Mr Badal while he was the Chief Minister.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC), claimed that entire party was behind Capt Amarinder Singh like a rock in his anti-corruption drive.


Boat tragedy mission to file FIR against Badal
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
The chairman of the Malta Boat Tragedy Probe Mission, Mr Balwant Singh Khehra, along with other members today told newsmen that they plan to lodge an FIR against the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and his Cabinet colleagues”, including Mr Sohan Singh Thandal, Mr Sujan Singh and others for “conspiring” to send Sikh youths abroad on religious grounds.

Mr Khehra said they had raised the issue of alleged human trafficking involving senior Akali ministers and leaders who had managed to take large number of Sikh youths disguised as “panj piaras” to Canada by charging them Rs 8 lakh each and left them to fend for themselves in those countries without any valid documents.

The chairman of the mission alleged that these Akali leaders had even arranged fake weapons of 10th Sikh Guru and also taken a handwritten copy of Guru Granth Sahib to Canada. He said the scandal was unearthed when the fake “panj piaras” applied for asylum in a Canadian,court causing embarrassment to Indian origin Federal Minister, Mr Harbal Dhaliwal, who was pulled up by the Canadian parliament.

The mission submitted a memorandum to the Akal Takht secretariat, as the Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti was not present.


Officer smells scandal in Forest Dept, probe on
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Another controversy has rocked the Punjab Forest Department, this time regarding a Japanese project under which the department received funds in crores for afforestation of various areas.

On a complaint by a senior officer of the Forest Department, the Punjab Government has asked the authorities concerned to send their comment on the complaint regarding photography bills and the purchase of angle iron.

Informed sources said the Financial Commissioner (Forest) to the Punjab Government, Mr P. Ram, had written to the Forest Department in this connection. When contacted, the authorities concerned confirmed that they had received both complaints for comment from the state government.

Requesting for a high-level probe in what he described as a “scandal” involving lakhs of rupees, the senior officer has stated that he had brought the matter to the notice of all concerned in the department but to no avail. The officer in his complaint had stated that when he tried to conduct an inquiry, relevant records were not made available to him. Officers in the field were told unofficially not to cooperate with him in the matter.

The officer had also stated in the complaint that pressure was regularly mounted on field officers to clear photography bills. He said photograpy, video-filming and compact discs were got prepared from a Chandigarh-based photographer in violation of rules and regulations.

The rates charged for the work were much higher than those in the market.

The rates for video-filming and compact discs (CDs) were also higher than the market rates. Procurement of photographs had been shown as “local purchase” by officers in the field whereas these were made from a photographer based in Chandigarh.

In another complaint regarding the purchase of angle iron, the officer had stated that the purchase was made against his recommendations. The officer said he had recommended that either concrete posts be build or wood posts installed for barbed wire fencing at certain places to protect the forest area because angle irons were often stolen and their protection became a headache for forest guards.


News Analysis
Punjab yet to grapple with caste virus
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Punjab survived the virus of communalism that failed to divide the Sikhs and the Hindus during the phase of militancy because of “roti-beti” bonds. Today, the state has to fight against the virus of caste politics involving Dalits and Jats.

The Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, says. “A free hand given to the Administration by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to douse passions in Talhan helped save Punjab from a casteist flare-up. The June 14 agreement is being implemented. Akhand Path bhog has been held, two Dalits have been nominated to the Talhan Gurdwara Management Committee and criminal cases withdrawn.”

As Punjab’s economy is rooted in villages any fissures and divisions in the panchayat have the potential to rural social fabric. And Talhan is the shame of Punjab. Simmering estrangement between the Dalits and the Jats became manifest in open or veiled threats, intimidation, attacks and calls for social ostracisation and boycott.

What is unfortunate is that the government has so far failed to respond to these developments, which are not a mere “law and order” problems to be tackled by a district administration. The ruling Congress is yet to take the lead in eliminating this virus. In any case, political parties have much to explain as to why they have cultured this virus and why they should not be held accountable. This brand of politics is blatantly uncivilised.

There are apprehensions that while empowerment of panchayats is good, the real problem will arise when money flows to the cash-strapped panchayats and decisions are to be taken on development projects. If the caste wounds are not healed, things could turn sour.

The Union Ministry for Rural Development has made it mandatory for all states to set up “vigilance and monitoring committees” headed by members of Parliament. These are to monitor projects under centrally sponsored schemes and to effect efficiency in the functioning of the Panchayati Raj institutions.

Punjab, along with several other states, had protested to the Centre against this in January last. The Centre has yet to respond. The state has so far not constituted district planning committees which are to decide on devolution of funds to Panchayati Raj institutions.

Despite talk of political interference in Panchayati Raj institutions, there is fear that too many bodies may impede their functioning. While Punjab, like other states, demands an equal and rational share in the resources of the Centre, it is reluctant to give similar share from its resources to the panchayats.

It is unfortunate that a team of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has had to visit Punjab and the Jalandhar district administration had to stop Lok Janshakti Party chief Ram Bilas Paswan and others from visiting Talhan on Friday.

It is equally disturbing that no social, religious or political organisation has tried to apply the healing touch to the ruffled susceptibilities of the Dalits and the Jats. Strained relations between them can cause irreparable damage to the Punjab economy and amity.


Repoll in 39 panchayats today
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Re-poll in 39 panchayats takes place in Punjab tomorrow at a time when the virus of casteist politics has appeared. A small number of panchayats will see re-poll on July 27.

In view of the simmering disquiet in rural areas due to tension between Dalits and Jats, the State Election Commission does not view it merely as a law and order problem. For a peaceful, fair and free re-poll, it has asked the Director-General of Police to deploy the Punjab Armed Police at all polling stations, as the people have little or no faith in the local police.

The Election Commissioner, Mr C.L. Bains, told TNS today that special focus was on sensitive border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore, with repoll in 29 panchayats.

The commission Secretary, Mr B.R. Banga, said so far 12,463 panchayats had been elected with as many sarpanches. The number of panches elected was 75,599. Out of the general category panches, the number of women elected was 18,762. Of the 15,614 Schedules Caste panches, the number of women elected was 7,862.

The commission is yet to announce the election results in 15 panchayats in Kahnuwan, Dhariwal and Dera Baba Nanak in Gurdaspur. The commission had received a large number of complaints from these places regarding deletion of votes or addition of bogus votes. Since the poll process had already begun, the commission decided to allow polling but withheld the results. Later, it appointed four officers — Mr A.S. Pannu, Mr Mandeep Singh Sandhu, Mr S S Gill and Mr Jaspal Singh — to inquire into the complaints. Their reports are expected by Monday.

The swearing-in of the newly elected panchayats is scheduled for July 17 at the divisional headquarters, of Jalandhar and Patiala. Bathinda has been selected for the other two divisions of Faridkot and Ferozepore.

The Secretary, Rural Development and Panchayats, Mr J R Kundal, said that there would be a training programme for these panchayats, on devolution of powers — administrative, financial and functional. They would be told about the extent of autonomy given to them. Over six departments out of the 29 listed in the XI Schedule are to be given to panchayats following the 73rd and 74th constitutional amendments.


No pact for Lok Sabha poll: BSP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
Punjab Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) President Avtar Singh Karimpuri today ruled out an alliance with any political party in the state for the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Talking to newsmen here, the BSP President said the party would contest all 13 Lok Sabha seats in the state on its own. He said the party was already moving in this direction by strengthening its organisation base all over the state. He said in the past the party had observed that it had been "used" in successive elections and it would now be the endeavour of the party to strengthen its own base instead of extending support to other parties.

Speaking on the arrest of Dalit leader Ram Vilas Paswan at Talhan, the BSP leader said Mr Paswan's visit was a stunt and that he had been invited on the invitation of the Congress government. He said by inviting and then arresting Mr Paswan, the government wanted to prove that it was ready to move against everyone who broke the prohibitory orders. Mr Karimpuri said the BSP was preparing a "sena" of 1.15 lakh youngsters who would be ready to render "sacrifices" to fight against oppression in the state.


Preneet Kaur to fight LS poll
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 12
Local MP Preneet Kaur today laid to rest speculation that she may opt out of the electoral race in the coming Lok Sabha elections at a public rally held at Rajpura to felicitate the newly elected panchayat members.

Speaking at the rally along with District Youth Congress president and Punjab State Warehousing Corporation Chairman Hardial Singh Kamboj, Mrs Preneet Kaur said she would fight the coming Lok Sabha election from the Patiala constituency.

She said the recent panchayat election had proved that the people were happy with the state government. She added that the Congress was sure to emerge victorious in the coming Lok Sabha elections due to the large-scale development taking place this year which had already been named as “year of development” by the state government.

Mrs Preneet Kaur said the new panchayats would soon undertake development work in rural areas of the state, adding that the government was also formalising a policy to give them more powers. Rajpura Municipal Committee President Rajindra Raja, Vice-President Brijlal Singh and Block Samiti Chairman Gurbax Singh were also present.


Surjit men join Pasla group
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 12
Ms Gurmej Kaur and Mr Pargat Singh, district committee members, and Mr Durga Dass and Ms Renu Sehgal, Pathankot tehsil members, left the Surjit faction of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and joined the Pasla group today along with their supporters. Rajinder Singh of the Taxi Union of Pathankot and Tarlochan Singh, secretary of the Talorian unit of the party also joined the Pasla group.

The CPM activists who joined the Pasla group told newsmen here today that they had left the CPM (Surjit) because it had abandoned the path of struggle and indirectly supported the policies of the Congress at the Centre and in Punjab.

Mr Pargat Singh, a former chief of the Surjit faction of the Students Federation of India said the CPM (Surjit) had failed to raise its voice against the recent hike in electricity charges, bus fare and college fee in Punjab, while the Pasla faction was launching a campaign against it from July 15 in Punjab.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Ghuman, a member of the state executive of the CPM (Pasla), who was present on the occasion, said the district unit of party would hold rallies at Pathankot and Batala on July 22 and 25, respectively, to raise its voice against the fee hike. The party will join the other Left Parties in organising rallies against the hike.


High Court
Kahlon’s plea

Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Acting on a petition filed by former Akali minister Nirmal Singh Kahlon and his son seeking the quashing of a first information report registered against them, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has fixed September 20 as the next date of hearing in the case.

In his petition, the former minister had stated that the government had adopted a revengeful attitude towards the opponents and members of the Akali Dal in order to arrest them in false cases.


Narottam’s judicial remand extended
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 12
The Special Judge here in two separate cases extended the judicial remand of Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, cousin of Mr Sukhbir Badal, and five employees of the Wimpy’s International till July 26. Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon has been booked by the Punjab vigilance on the charges of corruption and possessing assets disproportionate to his income.


Naik: work on Bathinda refinery to continue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Laying to rest any apprehension about the fate of the upcoming Rs 16,000-crore Bathinda refinery in Punjab, Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister, Mr Ram Naik today said that the refinery would be completed within four years. Work would go on and the project would not be shelved following a proposal for disinvestment of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).

“Work on Guru Gobind Singh Refinery at Bathinda is progressing as per schedule,’’ Mr Naik said at press conference at the Indian Oil regional office in Sector 19. The refinery would be completed by the HPCL even if the government disinvested its share, he said.

An amount of Rs 200 crore had already been spent on the project and it would be completed as per schedule within four years. There would be clause in the disinvestment process in which bidding companies would be told about this.

He said the refinery and Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited refinery in Bina, Madhya Pradesh, would be completed as per schedule. On the Panipat Refinery project, he said the current 60 lakh tonne refining capacity per annum would be doubled to 120 lakh tonnes soon. This would cost Rs 4165 crore. The project was expected to be commissioned by January 2005. The IOC had also started the construction of a petro-chemicals project at Panipat at a cost of Rs 5,100 crore, likely to be commissioned by 2005.

The IOC was also constructing a new LPG bottling plant at Una in Himachal which is likely to be commissioned by September this year. This plant would have a capacity of 22,000 metric tonnes per annum in single shift operation and would ease the availability of LPG in Himachal Pradesh.

The minister denied that the government proposed to increase the prices of cooking gas and kerosene.

The oil companies, he said, had been demanding a price hike, saying that they were not getting even the production costs on these products. The government, however, had to take a consumer-oriented approach even as it tried to harmonise the interests of the oil companies and the consumers.

Claiming that public sector companies in the oil sector were doing well, he said the profit of all companies put together was Rs 23,250 crore. A sum of Rs 3,220 crore had been invested in Sudan and the first shipment of crude oil had been received at the Mangalore refinery. The ONGC had acquired a 25 per cent stake in oil-fields in Sudan which produced 120 lakh tonnes of crude oil annually. Another major investment of Rs 8,500 crore had been made in Russia to acquire a 20 per cent stake. India would get an annual supply of 40 to 80 lakh tonnes of crude from this project.


Sarabjit, Mathur to head central police forces
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Union Government has reportedly cleared the names of two of Punjab’s senior police officers — Mr Sarabjit Singh (1965 batch) and Mr V.N. Mathur (1969 batch) — for empanelment in the rank of Director-General. The name of Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, an IAS officer of the 1972 batch, has been cleared for the post of Additional Secretary to the Government of India.

After Mr Gurbachan Jagat, an IPS officer of the 1966 batch, who superannuated as Director-General of Police, Border Security Force, the two police officers become the first from Punjab to get the nod for appointment to the highest rank in the central police organisation (CPO).

Incidentally, Mr Sarabjit Singh, who served as Director-General of Police from February 16, 1999, to February 28, 2002, is the seniormost police officer of the country. He is posted against an inconsequential post as Director-General of Police, Home Guards and Civil Defence.

In spite of his seniority, he could not get a posting in any CPO after relinquishing charge as DGP, Punjab, because he was not in the panel of DGPs. He will superannuate on May 31 next year.

Intriguingly, the name of not many senior Punjab police officers get approved for senior positions in the CPOs or the Government of India. Punjab has one of the most top heavy police administrations in the country. It will have, beginning August 1, five officers in the rank of Director-General, 14 Additional Director-Generals and 20 Inspector-Generals.

Mr V.N. Mathur, though a Punjab-cadre officer, has remained mostly on deputation with the Union Government.

Before Mr Gurbachan Jagat, the only other Punjab police officer in recent years to have headed a CPO was Mr J.S. Bawa (Central Bureau of Investigation).

Unlike in the police, Punjab is well-represented in civil services in the Union Government. But this representation will shrink further when two more Secretary-level officers retire later this year. Mrs Jyotsna Khanna (1966 batch) is due for superannuation on September 30 while Mr S.S. Dawra (1967 batch) will retire on October 31 this year.

Mr S.K. Naik (1966 batch), who has been appointed Member of the Central Administrative Tribunal, New Delhi, sought voluntary retirement by six weeks. He was to retire on July 31.

Until late last year, Punjab had Mr A.K. Kundra, Mr Jagat Narain Lal Srivastava, Mrs Jyotsna Khanna, Mr Nripinder Nath Khanna, Mr Shishir Kumar Naik, Mr Shyam Sunder Dawra, Mr Kunjuraman Rajendran Nair, Mr Surendra Kumar Tuteja and Mr Jai Inder Singh Gill as Secretaries to the Government of India.

After October this year, this number will be reduced further as only Mr Nripinder Nath Khanna, Mr Surendra Kumar Tuteja and Mr Jai Singh Gill will be in service as Secretaries.

Now, after approval of the name of Mr K.R. Lakhanpal, the number of Additional Secretaries from Punjab will go up to three, the other being Mr Amitabh Pande and Mrs Satwant Reddy, (both 1971 batch).

Other officers of the 1972 batch in Punjab are Mr Gurjit Singh Cheema, Mr Jagbir Singh Kesar and Ms Harsimrat.


Errors not rectified in ID cards
Our Correspondent

Abohar, July 12
Even when the Election Commission has made photo identity card compulsory for exercising franchise in next elections, the last round of preparing such cards in this constituency is failing due to lack of training, technical snags and autocratic behaviour of employees. Deployment of untrained and non-cooperative digital camera operators by the ID card contractor is adding to the problem.

Four booths, number 102, 103, 104 and 105, at ID card photography centre at Anmol Public School in Nai Abadi here were today given only 10 copies each of Form No 8 meant for correcting the credentials of voters. But every 10th name in the voter list of Ward No 23 was carrying wrong name or surname. Employees there refused to make more forms available.

Councillor Narender Verma expressed annoyance over the misbehavior of some employees posted at the centre.

The voter lists had been prepared and revised by the municipal staff. Majority of them are local residents and personally know the voters, still glaring mistakes were committed by them putting residents in problem.

The name of the Yuva Beopar Mandal president, Mr Rakesh Dhuria, was mentioned in the ID card eligibility slip as Mr Rakesh Pahadia. The Headmistress of a school said she had posed for ID card photograph thrice but the name of her husband was not corrected despite submitting the prescribed form. The staff at booth No 103 refused to entertain such cases. SDM Jaskiran Singh was contacted on mobile phone. He accepted the request but the staff on duty refused to talk to the SDM. He sent a representative but he too had to struggle with the erring photographer and employees for half an hour. The employees argued they had not been instructed to deal with such cases.

Ms Sarla was denied photography for preparing ID card on the ground that her name appeared in the list of those who had already been issued such cards. She maintained that she had never visited any ID card centre and used her right to vote only four months back in civic elections.

There were complaints that those who had been issued ID card last week were again supplied slips to get their card prepared today.

Information gathered by this correspondent revealed that the contract for videography in the last round was given to a Fazilka-based firm which had no experience in the field. This time another firm of the same town got the contract and arranged little digital cameras operated by daily wagers.


Singla promises to revamp marketing set-up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
The newly appointed Chairman of the Punjab Mandi Board Mr Sant Ram Singla, has alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal squandered funds meant for rural development. This had deprived the agriculture marketing board of precious money resulting in the poor maintenance of the mandis and rural roads in the state.

Addressing mediapersons here today Mr Singla said the Supreme Court in its significant judgement had directed that the fees and other charges collected by agriculture marketing boards could not be diverted for any purpose except for the development of marketing infrastructure for the agriculture produce. He said he would not allow any diversion of funds during his tenure and would work to revamp the entire marketing set-up and repair village link roads.

The Chairman said the decks were finally cleared to shift the congested fruit and vegetable mandi from outside Hall Gate to Wallha Mandi on the outskirts of the city. Mr Singla said the dispute with the shopkeepers and commission agents had been resolved and the mandi would shift positively by the end of August. He was sure all parties to the agreement would fulfil their commitments.

Earlier, the Chairman visited the Bhagtanwala Grain Market and addressed gathering of farmers, commission agents and labourers.

Phagwara: Mr Sant Ram Singla, today said that eight new mandis would come up at Badni Kalan, Nihal Singhwala, Bhallanwal, Talwandi Bhaian, Maur Mandi, Sultanpur Lodhi, Lalru and Harike. All mandis of the state would have modern facilities, he said here in a chat with newsmen.

Roads up to 20,000 km would be repaired at a cost of Rs 40 crore on priority basis, Singla said.

Mr K.K. Sardana, Joint MD, Sukhjit Starch and Chemicals Ltd and Mr Harjit Singh Parmar, Chairman, Local Improvement Trust, were among those who welcomed Mr Singla.


Suspended Class IV staff cry foul
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Six members of the non-teaching staff of Government Senior Secondary School, Ratewal, suspended for being “absent from duty” are yet to be reinstated, though 11 teachers, including the acting Principal suspended along with them on the same charge have been re-instated.

The entire staff of the school was suspended following a raid by the Vigilance Bureau on May 2.

The department is yet to re-instate Chander Pal (water man), Parkash Chand (sweeper), Jagan Nath (Class IV), Paramjit Kaur (office clerk), Tejinder Singh and Salinder Kumar (Senior Laboratory assistants). The department, upon verification, had found that the school was actually closed on that day.

Sources told TNS that as per a recent communication endorsed on July 9, the suspended non-teaching employees have been asked to report to the office of the District Education Officer (DEO), Nawanshahr, every Monday throughout the suspension period.

As per the rules, the school Principal is empowered to declare five days in a year as “local holidays” with the prior approval of the District Education Officer. Sources said the non-teaching staff is also entitled to a holiday in such cases. “When the grounds for suspension were the same, why have we not been re-instated till date,” they ask?

A spokesperson of the Government Teachers Union (GTU), Nawanshahr, Mr Harjit Singh, said they had made a petition for re-instatement “afresh”.

However, officials in the dealing branch said they had not received any request for re-instatement in the past but the staff would be re-instated once the recommendation for the same came from the department. The DEO, Nawanshahr, could not be contacted.

Mr Harjit Singh, who was one of the suspended teachers, said they would ask the authorities to consider the date of their re-instatement with effect from the date of suspension and not “immediate effect.” The intervening period, he said, would otherwise find mention in their service record.


When Bhisham Sahni broke down at Wagah
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
Bhisham Sahni lived the pain of Partition all his life. So struck was he by the difference between what things are and what they ought to be that he consciously refrained from visiting Pakistan or even the Wagah border between India and Pakistan.

It was only in November 1999 — 52 years after the Partition of the country — that Bhisham Sahni stepped on the soil of Wagah from where he aired his views on the physical dissection of the land that caused irreversible damage not just to the people of India and Pakistan but also to the very spirit of humanity.

Standing on the yellow line, that defines the no man’s land on the Wagah Border, Bhisham Sahni told his documentary maker, Amarjeet Singh, that the concept of the border between India and Pakistan was virtually beyond his imagination.

Pained at the sight of the iron fencing that symbolised the division between Indian and Pakistani hearts, Bhisham Sahni told Singh: “It was to avoid this traumatic sight that I never wanted to be anywhere near the border.

I am coming here after 52 years and as I stand on the land that belongs to no one I must say that this pain is overwhelming.

I cannot bear it. I may have written extensively on the Partition but let me admit it to you that I never knew a border looked so horrible, so divisive.” Sahni cried so often that day that the shooting schedule of the documentary had to be broken up occasionally.

In an interview to the Tribune, Amarjeet Singh, who featured Sahni and his remarks extensively in his documentary titled “Sanjha Dukh”, recalled: “I had been asked by the Folklore Research Academy to make a documentary on Indo-Pak relations and the achievements of the Academy in this field.

I was fortunate that Bhisham Sahni was visiting Panjab University in November, 1999, as a visiting professor. Since he was a very close friend of my father, Prof Sher Singh Sher, who was himself a Padmashri, he obliged me with a visit to Wagah.

The idea was to shoot Bhisham Sahni live from the Wagah Border, which is a living testimony of the Partition, the main theme of Sahni’s works.”

The documentary features Sahni sitting in the backdrop of the 15 feet high black granite monument dedicated to those who died during the Partition.

It also has Sahni’s exclusive remarks on the Partition. Interestingly, since Sahni belonged to Rawalpindi he did not cross over to India from Wagah. He says in the documentary: “ We came from Kashmir.

But borders are borders. They are the embodiments of violence which is bred by politicians.”

Amarjeet Singh adds: “Bhisham Sahni was extremely sad that while foreigners could easily cross over to Pakistan, Indians had to just wait helplessly.” He also shared his childhood memories of Pakistan, making occasional references to Wagah.


Bhisham Sahni's death mourned
Our Correspondent

Muktsar, July 12
Students and staff members of the local Kanya Senior Secondary School today mourned the death of noted Hindi novelist Bhisham Sahni who died yesterday.

The students observed two-minute silence. Mr Sanjeev Kumar, Hindi Lecturer of the school, told the students about the literary works of Bhisham Sahni.


Train engine catches fire

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 12
Around 1,700 passengers of the Bombay Superfast Express (2472 down) had a narrow escape this evening when the engine of the train caught fire.

There was no casualty as the fire was detected in time.

Railway sources said the train, which was going from Jammu to Mumbai, had to halt around 5.28 pm a few kilometres away from Sirhind railway station when the diesel engine of the train caught fire. However, the fire was extinguished and the train resumed its journey at 6.45 pm. — UNI


Mail damage: action against staff sought
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 12
Mr Bhushan Nandwani, Station Superintendent of the local railway-station, has written to the higher postal authorities for action against the erring postal staff due to whose negligence postal bags had been tossed away by the down-line Swarn Shatabdi Express here last evening and strewn upto a considerable distance.

Mr Nandwani today claimed that the postal staff had already been instructed to use caution at the time of shifting bundles of mail. There was a railway bridge for it and if at all the other short passage was to be used after taking due permission the postal staff must keep a safe distance from the passing trains, he continued.

When the local authorities were contacted today, they said that only a few letters and some registered letters were damaged. There were total 17 bags and almost all of them were found intact, they claimed. Hardly 10 letters and five registered letters were damaged, they asserted.


Water level of Bhakra, Pong dams rises

Chandigarh, July 12
The rains in the higher reaches of Himachal Pradesh have led to a slight rise in the inflow of the Gobind Sagar reservoir of the Bhakra Dam and the Pong Dam reservoirs, as catchment areas of the Beas and the Sutlej were having a scanty rainfall.

The inflow from the Sutlej in the Gobind Sagar during the past couple of days has been around 40,076 cusecs while the outflow stays at 33,044 cusecs.

Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) sources said today that the level of the Bhakra Dam reservoir today was 1605.48 feet, about 80 feet blow the normal level. However, there was no cause for anxiety as the sharing states have been experiencing pretty good rains. The Nangal (Bhakra) area reported 25.8 mm more rains till this morning.

The level in the Pong Dam reservoir was 1293.87 feet with an inflow of 10,165 cusecs and the outflow of 5,052 cusecs.

As the North-West region had more spells of light to moderate rains in the past 24 hours, day temperatures at most of the places dipped by two to seven degree celsius below normal. — UNI


Body of Pak national handed over
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), July 12
The Pakistani rangers today accepted the body of Abdul Aziz Ahmad (55), one of its nationals, who had died in a Bikaner hospital while undergoing treatment during his jail sentence in Sri Ganganagar jail on June 17.

According to sources, after a great deal of persuasion and dialogues, the Pakistani authorities relented to take the body after having refused to accept it in the morning. The Rajasthan Police had brought the body from Bikaner this morning and was awaiting response from across the border, as the Pakistani rangers had refused to accept the body. The Indian Foreign Ministry officials contacted their counterparts in Islamabad, following which the body was accepted at 4 p.m.

The Rajasthan Police officials, while talking to newsmen, said that Abdul Aziz had crossed over to the Indian side two years ago and was arrested by a BSF patrol party and was undergoing a jail sentence at Sri Ganganagar. Two months ago, Ahmad developed some serious ailment and was referred to a Bikaner hospital, where he died on June 17. The information about his death was conveyed to the Pakistan mission in Delhi, which took almost a month to permit his body to be sent to Pakistan.


Strict visa regime brings few Pak passengers
Our Correspondent

Wagah, July 12
Zubaida, wife of Sultan Ahmad, who was denied a visa to travel with her husband on the inaugural Lahore-Delhi bus service yesterday, was the only Pakistani passenger along with four Indian journalists who had gone to Lahore last evening to come to India this morning.

Talking to newsmen at the customs waiting hall, Zubaida said that in view of the strict visa restrictions by the Indian High Commission, it was difficult for Pakistanis to take the bus ride to India despite assurances by both countries to relax visa rules to make the service popular.

She said that India needed to adopt a more friendly approach in this regard. Later, 16 passengers along with three crew members crossed over to Pakistan in the return journey this evening.

Meanwhile, the Amritsar Vikas Manch has welcomed the restoration of the Delhi-Lahore bus service and demanded the restoration of air and rail links with Pakistan, opening of the Khemkaran border, visa centre at Amritsar and early implementation of the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA).


Amritsar-Lahore bus route sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
The Rashtriya Raksha Dal has sought a change in the route of the bus from Delhi-Lahore to Amritsar-Lahore.

Making his point, the president of the dal, Col J.S. Bal (retd) said both cities Amritsar and Lahore were at least 400 years old and shared common history and language. Both cities were well connected with road and rail link. He said a resident of border district had to first travel to Delhi and from there to Lahore.


‘CAs can help detect company scams’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Deputy Speaker of the Punjab Legislative Assembly, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, while addressing the Northern Region Conference of the Chartered Accountants in his inaugural address sought the help and cooperation of CAs to enable the Punjab Government to bring in investment and for exposing the gross fiscal scams at various levels.

He mentioned about blue chip and other companies that were doing so well by showing tremendous results in their annual reports had suddenly vanished from the market after duping the public and shareholders. He said that such scams could be detected in time with the help of CAs.

Meanwhile, Mr Vinod Jain, member of the Central Council of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, while addressing the gathering said the institute had set up a mechanism to review accounts with a view to ensuring compliance of technical standards and adherence of disclosure requirements. “This is to ensure excellence, independence and integrity of profession and achievement of code of conduct both in letter and spirit,” he said.

Mr Jain who is also the chairman of WTO negotiation study working group of the ICAI said they welcomed competition from international accountants.


Blood scam: suspect ‘tried to end life’?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 12
The district police has arrested Kamaljit Singh, a laboratory attendant at Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, in connection with the recently unearthed illegal blood sale scam. The police claimed that Kamaljit tried to kill himself with his kirpan during custody while employees of the blood bank of the hospital alleged that he was injured by the police.

Kamaljit Singh has been sent in one-day police remand, Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP( City-1) confirmed while taking to this correspondent. He claimed that the accused used to send the needy family members of patients coming for blood to middlemen.

According to sources, a doctor of the blood bank in a letter to the Principal of the medical college, said a police party consisting of about 25 police personnel searched the premises of the blood bank, as per the orders of the court on July 11. The letter stated that the police did not find any discrepancy in records. However, it took along employees Amrik Singh, Ranjit Singh and Kamaljit Singh, assuring them that they would be released in an hour. Two employees were set free late last night. Kamaljit Singh was admitted to a private hospital instead of the Government Hospital.

The SP said a case had been registered against Kamaljit under Section 309, IPC, for attempting suicide. He said the police had seized some records pertaining to the blood bank and the discrepancies would be known only after the documents were verified.


Who will repair collapsed bridge?
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, July 12
Communication across the seven villages beyond Manoli village remained cut off for the second day today following the collapse of the link bridge in the village yesterday. Sources state that work on the reconstruction could not start till late evening today, with the two departments involved in the construction of bridges locking horns over whose responsibility it was to reconstruct the collapsed bridge.

While Drainage Department officials claimed that it was the Public Works Department that constructs bridges, Public Works Department officials stated that the bridge had collapsed due to the negligence of the Drainage Department employees.

However, the matter was resolved after the intervention of the MLA of Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who talked to the heads of the departments and convinced the Drainage Department officials that they should also participate in the effort. ‘‘Now the department is providing and laying sandbags into the choe to divert the sewage and rainwater and since the work is going to continue all through the night by tomorrow morning traffic movement should be restored,’’said Mr Bir Devinder Singh.


Dalit MLAs have failed community: SC panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 12
The Punjab State Scheduled Castes Officers Association, which organised a conference here today at Begumpura Hall, has expressed anguish over the recent caste violence in the state.

Certain speakers at the conference alleged that a section in the state government was anti-poor and anti-Scheduled caste. They urged the government to remove the “injustice” done with SC employees by the previous SAD-BJP government. The association headed by Mr R.L. Sandhu criticised SC ministers and MLAs for their “failure” to protect the welfare of their community.

Criticising the state government for the delay in the implementation of the 85th Constitution Amendment, the association demanded reservation in the private sector on the pattern of government departments. Expressing concern over the privatisation of various government organisations, it said it would eliminate the chances of Scheduled Castes getting government jobs.

The association urged the government to review the fee structure in educational institutions. High fees should only be charged from those in the high income group, it said. The government should frame a reservation Act to punish those who have not been making recruitment in government jobs as per the reservation rules.

To ensure the implementation of the schemes meant for SC welfare and to protect the interests of the SCs, a commission should be set up in the state. It alleged that the office of the Chief Secretary was continuously encouraging and protecting activities of anti-Scheduled Caste organisations.

The association said to restore confidence among the SCs, at least 33 per cent officers belonging to this community should be appointed as Deputy Commissioners and district police chiefs.


MLA, MP bury the hatchet
Our Correspondent

Nabha, July 12
Local MLA Kaka Randip Singh in a press note released today decried Sarpanch of Birdhno village for issuing advertisements with her photograph and that of Capt Amarinder Singh and Kaka Randip Singh. He explained that the sarpanch had opposed the Congress during the Vidhan Sabha elections. Such attempts to come closer to the party would be opposed.

Meanwhile, Kaka Randip Singh and Shamsher Singh Dullo, MP, addressed a press conference at Bhadson, 15 km from here. While talking to press persons, Kaka Randip Singh said that he had buried the hatchet with Mr Dullo.


Move to install statue
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 12
The local municipal corporation has decided to install a life-size statue of former Union Foreign Minister, Mr Swaran Singh, near the PAP complex for latter’s contribution in nation building.

Talking to reporters here today, the local MP, Mr Balbir Singh, revealed that the statue of Mr Swaran Singh will be unveiled by Congress President Sonia Gandhi in October.

He said that former Union Foreign Minister was one of the architects of Indian foreign policy, which led the country to play a major role in the Non-aligned movement.


Home Guards help plug breaches
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 12
Home Guard jawans of the district are helping in plugging small breaches on the mini bypass constructed on the bandh at the right side of Nasrala Choe adjoining the city. As a result of this the vehicular traffic on the route has been suspended and diverted through the Bahadurpur area since July 5.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, Hoshiarpur, along with Mr S.K. Baruta, Commandant, Home Guards, inspected the site yesterday evening and appreciated the work done by the Home Guard jawans. Mr Bhullar said the work would be completed within three to four days.


Employees not paid for 4 months
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 12
About 3000 employees working in the District Family Health and Welfare centres in the state have not been paid their salaries since March. According to official sources the centre has been paying the salaries under various centre-sponsored schemes.

The official sources said that the Punjab government has failed to settle with the Centre the salaries of the employees.


First aquarium for Ropar
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 12
Ropar will have the first aquarium in the state. The aquarium, set up at the Katli Fish Farm would be part of the fish awareness park to be developed later under the aegis of the union government. Initially the union government has sanctioned a grant of Rs 16 lakh for developing the aquarium.

The Minister for Fisheries, Punjab, Mr Jagmohan Kang, stated this in a press note issued here yesterday.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said the district administration would extend all help to the Fisheries Department to synergize the Ropar wetland and other tourist spots with the aquarium to promote tourism.


Admn drive to recover loans

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 12
The administration has launched a drive for the recovery of loans given to various government departments in the district.

According to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, all revenue officials have been directed to speed up the recovery of loans.

The DC has directed revenue officials to complete departmental inquiries of patwaris and executive officers of the municipal council within two days and accede to their genuine demands.

Mr Ahluwalia has also directed the officials to send utilisation certificates regarding the utilisation of government grants sanctioned from time to time so that all development projects can be completed in a planned manner.

He said a sum of Rs 2 crore had been released for various pension schemes, which would benefit 25,466 beneficiaries. UNI


Gang adulterating diesel busted
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 12
The Food and Supplies Department today claimed to have busted a gang involved in adulterating diesel at Sunam in Sangrur district.

Disclosing this here, the Deputy Director of the department, Mr Bhupinder Singh, said a special team of the department had raided a locality in Sunam, which led to the seizure of 10,000 litres of adulterated diesel. He said the raid, which had been conducted on the directions of Food and Supplies Minister Avtar Henry, also led to the arrest of Naresh Kumar.

Mr Bhupinder Singh said the raid was conducted following complaints of farmers and businessmen that their machinery was being adversely affected due to poor quality diesel available in the market. He said while a case had been registered against Naresh Kumar under the Essential Commodities Act, the department had also appealed to the police to verify how diesel was sold to other distributors in bulk in the area.

The Deputy Director said case had also been registered against Vandana Filling Station. He said this was done following a surprise check. Besides finding adulteration in diesel, the filling station also had more diesel in its stock than that listed in its files. He said the stock had been seized and further investigations were on.


Three travel agents booked
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 12
The police has registered a case under Sections 403,420 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 24 of the Immigration Act against three travel agents on the charge of depriving two persons of Rs 5.85 lakh on the pretext of sending them to Germany.

Dr RN Dhoke, SSP, identified the travel agents as Satnam Singh of Jalandhar and Karamjit Singh of Pathankot and Bhupinder Singh of SAS Nagar.

In a press note issued yesterday, Dr Dhoke stated Surinder Singh of Tandi village of this district had lodged a complaint that travel agents Satnam Singh and Karamjit Singh had agreed to send his son to Germany in 2000 on a payment of Rs 4 lakh. He gave Rs 2.35 lakh and the passport of his son to them. But neither his son was sent to Germany nor the amount returned.

In another case, Joginder Singh, a resident of Akbarpur village of this district in a complaint with the police had alleged that Bhupinder Singh, a travel agent of SAS Nagar took Rs 5.50 lakh from him in 2002 for sending his son abroad. He had alleged that his son was sent to Thailand, China and Australia and brought back.


4 more held in robbery case
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 12
Four more persons have been arrested in the stage-managed robbery case of June 13 in which it was alleged that the robbers looted Rs 2.75 lakh from employees of a liquor vend owner, who were returning after collections of the day’s income from the area near Banga road. Those arrested have been identified as Gurwinder Singh and Harjit Singh of Moron village, Daljit Singh, alias Kaka of Apra village and Parveen Kumar of Kamboa village — all falling under Phillaur subdivision. The police has recovered Rs 65,000 from them.

Earlier, three persons Sandip Singh, Ravinder Singh and Daljit Singh were arrested in this case on June 18. Two staff members of a liquor contractor had allegedly hatched a conspiracy in a Jalandhar jail last year to stage manage the robbery after being released on bail. The police had registered a case under Section 382 of the IPC against them. The employees had been even inflicted self-injuries to give impression that they were actually robbed but the police smell a rat and revealed the truth.


Nobody named in Kanchan’s suicide note: experts
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 12
The Kanchan suicide case has taken a new twist as handwriting experts have found that the suicide note left by Kanchan Bansal was written by her, the Railway police sources said today. With this, the case of culpable homicide amounting to murder registered against her husband and in-laws is all set to lose steam as Kanchan did not blame anybody in her suicide note.

It may be recalled that 22-year-old Kanchan Bansal had, along with her two-year-old daughter Mitali, committed suicide by throwing herself and the child before a running train at the local railway station on April 16. On the complaint of her brother Sandip, a case under Section 30-B was registered against Samir Bansal, her husband, and three other members of her in-laws’ family.


Dalit woman alleges beating
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 12
The situation in Dalel Singh Wala village, near here, became tense yesterday when a Dalit woman, Ms Manjit Kaur (38), alleged that she was beaten by some Jat Sikh farmers and her clothes were torn by Gurmail Singh, Roop Singh and Chota Singh, all residents of the village. She was saved by some women who came to her rescue. She further alleged that the above persons used abusive language against her.

The sadar police arrested Chota Singh on the complaint of Ms Manjit Kaur after the registration of a criminal case against the above three persons under Sections 294/323/341 and 34 of the IPC. Meanwhile, a dharna was staged here today by Dalits in front of the office of Deputy Commissioner demanding the arrest of remaining accused and to book them under Sections 3 and 4 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1988.

Jat Sikh farmers also staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office.


Travel agent held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 12
The district police has arrested a travel agent for impersonating as a senior official of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and duping and ex-serviceman of Rs 7.41 lakh on the pretext of sending his son abroad.

According to the police, Mr Harmeet Singh of the Urban Estate Phase-I colony here, in his complaint, alleged that Atul Sharma of SAS Nagar, who impersonated as a senior RAW official, had promised that he would make arrangements to send his son abroad for a sum of Rs 8 lakh. Accordingly, Harmeet Singh gave Rs 7.41 lakh and passport of his son to Atul Sharma on April 5, 2002 in the presence of Atul’s friend T.P. Singh.

He alleged that neither his son was sent abroad nor the money was returned despite his repeated requests.

The police conducted investigation and registered a case under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC.

Following a tip-off, a special police party conducted raid on one of Atul’s hideouts in Delhi this morning and arrested him. The police has also seized some documents from the place.


Ranjit Singh, a ruler of Hindustan?
Tribune News Service

Manoli (SAS Nagar), July 12
“Maharaja Ranjit Singh Hindustan da ik dayalu raja see,” said a Class VII student of Government Senior Secondary School, Manoli, when asked who Maharaja Ranjit Singh was. Maharaja Ranjit Singh constitutes the first chapter in an English textbook prescribed in the school. Interestingly, though the question was asked in English, the answer came in chaste Punjabi. Which is not surprising, since only 11 out of the class of 34 could even write the alphabet. Even more interesting was the fact that nine out of these 11 students could only write the alphabet in capital letters and the other three could write it in both upper and lower cases.

Yet another example of the state of school education in the state brought to light once again by the Punjab Deputy Speaker and Kharar MLA, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, who on the fourth consecutive day today raided a school in his constituency.

The school registered a pass percentage of 42 this year, double of what it had achieved last year. For a change, the MLA was more charitable towards the staff. “We had adopted this school last year and there has been a marked improvement in the results. But there is a lot to be done and the level of schoolchildren’s knowledge leaves much to be desired.”

Taking down detailed notes of the performance of every individual teacher in the school, the MLA noted down the names of the worst performing teacher in every subject. The problem is that there is no one who wants to own the responsibility of failure. So one has to find out who is responsible,” he said.

Accompanied by the SDM, SAS Nagar, Mr M.L. Sharma, the MLA, along with a troupe of mediapersons, went around the school during the break and talked to students. The SDM visited a classroom and questioned the students on their knowledge of English. Only one out of the class could tell that Maharaja Ranjit Singh ruled Punjab. Their knowledge of Chapter two on the 1857 revolt was even worse. Except one student, who managed to say that the first war was fought in India in 1857, the rest of the class drew a blank. Against whom this war fought, asked the SDM, but no one knew the answer.

Maintaining that he would continue with this “atam chintan” spree over the next few weeks, the MLA said that till the government took a serious note of the situation, the education system in the state was headed towards collapse.

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