Sunday, July 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjab seeks meeting with Centre on paddy price
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The Punjab Government, which faced the Opposition’s wrath last year for not representing the state’s case on minimum support price of paddy in time, has this year sought an appointment with the Union Agriculture Minister and others concerned well in advance to lobby for increasing the minimum support price of paddy.

Informed sources said today that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had directed the officials concerned to approach the Union Government for holding the meeting on the price issue at the earliest possible. Last year, the Union Government had freezed the price at Rs 560 per quintal for A-grade and Rs 530 for B-grade paddy. However, following pressure from the Punjab Government as well as from the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the Union Government announced Rs 20 per quintal as drought relief on paddy, but that was not made part of the price.

However, this time the state government has sought a price of Rs 726 per quintal for A-grade and Rs 660 for B-grade paddy . The report on price prepared by the Punjab Agricultural University has been made the basis for the revised price.

Meanwhile, Punjab’s godowns, which were overflowing with wheat and rice about a year ago, are being emptied at a rapid pace by the Food Corporation of India (FCI). Informed sources said about 7 lakh tonnes of wheat was moving out from Punjab to deficit states every month. “It is more than satisfactory”, said a senior officer of the State Government. “If this pace is maintained for a few more months, the level of wheat stocks in godowns will come down to a comfortable level”, he added.

One other major reason of quick depletion in the wheat stock is export of wheat. About 50 lakh tonnes of wheat has been exported in the last few months and most of the stock has been lifted from Punjab, it is learnt.

However, export of wheat is being made on heavy subsidised rates. The Punjab Government has urged the Union Government to supply the wheat on subsidised rates to poor sections in the country. “It is beyond the reach of a large number of poor people to buy wheat at the market rate of Rs 900 per quintal. If the wheat can be exported at about Rs 600 per quintal, it will be better to supply it on the same rate to poor sections of society in the country”, said the officer.

However, the Union Government has a different view. Its thinking is that if the subsidy is given in the country then traders will buy huge stocks through poor sections and then recycle the same in the market either at the minimum support price or the prevailing market price.

The State Government has also urged the Union Government to increase the quota of wheat from 35 kg to 75 kg per month for those families which are given wheat through the public distribution system. With the 35 kg quota, one family gets about only 1 kg wheat per day and it is not enough to meet the daily requirements of a family of five members.


PSHRC registers case against DSP
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
Deputy Superintendent of Police Rajinderpal Singh Anand, who was in the news for registering a “false” case against a relative of his landlord in Rajpura near here, now faces further music with the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) registering a case against him.

Sources disclosed that a case had been registered against the DSP on a complaint filed by Punjabi University Religious Studies Department teacher Harpal Singh Pannu. The teacher had alleged that the DSP had got a false case registered against him because he was pursuing the matter of getting the DSP vacated from a house of a relative.

The commission, while directing the state government to register a case in the matter, has sent the order to the Principal Secretary, Home Department, and Inspector-General (Litigation). The case will come up for hearing on September 9 next and notices have been sent to the parties concerned.

According to the complaint submitted by Dr Pannu, it was claimed that the DSP was illegally possessing the house of his relative. The complainant claimed that the DSP never paid any rent for the past five years and had been continuously threatening Dr Pannu and his family. The complaint said the DSP even managed to get a false case registered against him and his brothers alleging that they had broken open a lock in the house and resorted to vandalism. It further said when Dr Pannu requested for another investigation in the case the Rajpura police in its report claimed that the DSP had filed a false case as it could not find any evidence of vandalism on the part of Dr Pannu and his brothers.

Meanwhile the complainant also claimed that the then zonal Inspector-General of Police, Mr Anil Kaushik, had “advised” the DSP to vacate the house. The IG had also claimed that the DSP had taken two rooms on rent from the landlord and then occupied the entire house. While urging the DSP to desist from such activities he had even asked the range Deputy Inspector-General of Police to hold an inquiry into the matter.

According to sources, during the time an inquiry was being held in the case, the relatives of Dr Pannu had returned from abroad and had presented themselves before the DIG. They said the DIG had told them to take possession of a part of the house which had not been given on rent.

Meanwhile, Dr Pannu has appealed to Capt Amarinder Singh to take action against the DSP.


Hanspal to take up fees hike issue with CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
On the directions of the party high command, the President of the Punjab unit of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), Mr H.S. Hanspal, today directed members of the committee to contribute Rs 300 each per annum to the party fund.

Members of the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) from Punjab have been asked to pay Rs 600 each and all party ministers, MLAs, MPs and Mayors of corporations, chairpersons of various boards etc have been directed to deposit their one-month salary to fill the party coffers.

Mr Hanspal said a party committee headed by Dr Manmohan Singh had suggested this formula to collect funds for the party.

Expressing concern over the hefty increase in the fees and other charges in colleges in the state, Mr Hanspal said he would take up the issue with the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, asking him to review the decision.

Mr Hanspal, who held a meeting with presidents of the district units of the party, said a programme to hold conventions in all districts had been chalked out. The conventions would begin from August 1 to activate the party for the next Parliament elections. Today’s meeting was also attended by party general secretaries and other office-bearers. The party has also decided to launch a membership drive in the state.

Meanwhile, commenting on the release of Rs 600 crore for sugarcane growers, Mr Hanspal said it had been done when Mrs Sonia Gandhi wrote to the Union Government in this connection. He said that it was unfortunate that the Centre had not released Rs 125 crore to pay the dues to cane growers in Punjab. He said the party would build pressure on the Centre that it should not discriminate with Punjab in this regard.


Another tender scam tumbles out of MC closet
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), July 19
After the recent tender scam in the Nangal Municipal Council another case in which the officials allegedly decided the tenders in favour of certain contractors before hand has come to the fore.

Sources provided this correspondent with the documents in which the municipal engineer of the council, Mr Sukhdev Singh, who was caught red handed by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau yesterday while accepting a bribe of Rs 4,000 from a contractor, and a junior engineer of the council have written on the application of a contractor that the contract has been decided in his favour.

In addition to that in another document indications were penned by the officials that two other contracts were to be decided in favour of the Raipur-based contractor. The council notified the 35 contracts worth Rs 1 crore that were in dispute on May 16.

Initially the contracts were to be decided on June 13. However, the date was postponed on the plea that the officials were busy in poll duties. The next date for opening the tenders was fixed for July 14. This time also it was postponed to July 17 due to administrative reasons. On July 17 the contractors were called and asked to give their financial bids for 34 works on the tender forms. As reported earlier the 35 works for raising a retaining wall from the Dobeta cremation ground to Sharma store area was deemed to be given to the contractor who had already completed half of the work. As many as 600 tender forms were purchased and filled by contractors at a cost of Rs 60,000.

However, later in the afternoon when the officials found that the pooling of the works had failed they once again decided to postpone the date for opening the tenders. This peeved certain contractors and led to heated arguments between them and the officials.

Due to the subsequent developments the tenders of the contractors were still lying in the sealed box. The contractors also provided this correspondent with documents in which a society had applied for the tender forms to apply for 9, 11, 21, 24, 29, 35 and 18 number works. However, the municipal engineer and a junior engineer wrote on the application that forms for only 18 number work i.e. concrete flooring from House No. 25-AA to 49-AA worth Rs 2,06,000 should be issued to the contractor.

In another document it has been indicated that work number 9 for laying footpath near truck union worth Rs 4,50,000 and work number 17 for constructing drain from H-block to Ram mandir worth Rs 5 lakh should be given to a Raipur-based society.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, has directed the SDM of Anandpur Sahib Mr Bhupinder Singh, to inquire into the reports regarding the works being undertaken without tenders by the Nangal Municipal Council.

The reports regarding corruption in the council have also made the opposition parties swing into action. Leaders of opposition parties have also demanded action against the ruling party municipal councillors. The ruling party councillors have been keeping mum about the blatant corruption going on in the council. If the property possessed by the councillors of Nangal in relation to their sources of income was evaluated it could turn out into another major scandal, they have alleged.


Warrant to search Badal’s property validated till July 30
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 19
A court here today extended the date of search warrants of the properties of the family of former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal till July 30. These warrants were issued earlier and returnable till July 20.

Public Prosecutor informed the court that as per court orders issued on June 27 and July 4 this year, a search was conducted at the Sector 9 Chandigarh residence of Mr Badal, SCO No. 54-55 in Sector 9, Kothi No. 50, Sector 2, Chandigarh, poultry farm in Pallanpur (Ropar village), Dabwali workshop, Bank building and petrol station.

He said that teams of the Vigilance Bureau (VB) had left on July 12 for Delhi, Gurgaon and Badal village to make a search.

However, it is not possible to complete the operation by July 20, he said. He pleaded that the VB be given more time to conduct the search.

The court gave the VB time till July 30 to complete the search.

The court had issued search warrants returnable by July 20 for 13 properties belonging to the Badal family. The court also allowed videography and assessment of Badal’s properties. These warrants were issued in connection with a case registered against him on June 24.


Pro-VC submits files against VC’s associates
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
Punjabi University Pro-Vice Chancellor Dr R.N. Pal, who has recently been divested of all his powers by Vice Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai, has attacked two close associates of the VC by submitting some papers against them in a bid to corner the VC in case no action is taken in the matter.

The Pro-VC has sent a letter to the Vice Chancellor claiming that he had received some papers from an unknown source. In his letter to the VC, Dr Pal has claimed that the writing on some of the papers appeared to be that of former Vice Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. The Pro-VC says that as the papers “seemed genuine” he was forwarding them to the Vice Chancellor.

The Pro-VC while taking the high moral ground of not knowing anything about the matter, has provided the VC with official files pertaining to Dean, Academics, Prof U.C. Singh and Dr Robinder Powar, wife of Dr H.S. Bhatti who is the Provost of the university. Both Prof U.C. Singh and Dr H.S. Bhatti were in the vanguard of the teacher movement against Dr J.S. Ahluwalia and action had been initiated against them by the former VC. While Prof U.C. Singh had been demoted from Professor to that of Reader by Dr Ahluwalia, a probe had been ordered against Dr Powar on charges of plagiarism in her doctoral thesis.

The papers relating to Prof U.C. Singh include the order passed by Dr J.S. Ahluwalia as VC reverting him back as Registrar. The order states that a complaint had been received against Prof U.C. Singh which stated that he had been wrongly confirmed as Professor even though he had not fulfilled the prescribed condition of completing his Ph.D thesis during the probation period. It says that the establishment branch had opined that in the case of Dr Singh, no Syndicate decision had relaxed or waived this condition. It said an inquiry was got conducted in the matter by former IAS officer Amarjit Singh.

The order states that the inquiry officer had concluded that Dr Singh had not fulfilled the prescribed condition of Ph.D which he had not done till then. It said even though Prof U.C. Singh had claimed that in March, 1991 the Syndicate had waived the condition of Ph.D, a detailed study of the report of the Syndicate had made it clear that the decision of the Syndicate did not apply to Prof U.C. Singh.

Varsity spokesman Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu when contacted on the issue, said all the decisions taken by Dr J.S. Ahluwalia during his last few months tenure had been subsequently reviewed. He said as the order against Prof U.C. Singh had been passed a few days before the removal of Dr Ahluwalia when the teacher movement being led by Dr Singh was at its peak, Dr Ahluwalia’s orders had been cancelled. He said as far as the case of Dr Robinder Powar was concerned, the probe against the teacher was ordered after a criminal case had been registered against Dr Ahluwalia following a murderous attack on Dr H.S. Bhatti.


Door shut on private candidates
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 19
The education department has decided to deny admission in government schools to those who have passed their matriculation examinations as private candidates. The directions regarding this have been issued verbally to government schools in the district.

Following the decision, many such students admitted earlier have now been ousted and even government colleges have denied them admission. This has peeved the affected students and their parents.

Students leader Paramjit Singh and Kuldeep Chand, a social worker, today alleged that the district education authorities had misinterpreted the decision taken at a meeting in February 2003. They said it had been decided that government schools should not admit students from non-recognised schools.

The decision was communicated to the district authorities and it was applicable to those seeking admission to the lower classes. The district education authorities have, however, decided to implement it on those seeking admission to class XI. Students seeking admission to class XI include matriculates from the Punjab School Education Board who had appeared as private candidates. “How can government schools disown students who have passed the class X examinations from a government board,” Mr Paramjit Singh and Mr Kuldeep Chand said.

The district education authorities were not available for comments on the matter. Many school principals, when contacted, also declined to comment on this issue. Parents of the affect students have threatened to move court if their wards continued to be denied admission.


Consensus on Trust nominees reached
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 19
President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPSC) H.S. Hanspal brought about consensus on the names of three party Councillors to be nominated to the Improvement Trust here. It was learnt today that after addressing party meeting and having lunch here yesterday, Mr Hanspal met the Councillors and local Congress leaders and consensus was reached on the names of Hardip Singh Bhamra, Ms Anita Kaura and Mr Ramesh Jordan.


Probe against bureaucrats in final stages: ADGP
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 19
Mr Anil Kaushik, Additional Director-General Police, Lokpal, Punjab, said the inquiry into 50 cases against various bureaucrats of Punjab cadre was being done by him and was now in the final stages. He was talking to mediapersons at the local PWD Rest House here today.

Mr Kaushik said almost all complaints relating to these cases were about irregularities in various procedures in the administrative matters. He said he could not get any of the case directly. He could only investigate those cases referred to him by the Lokpal. Replying to a question, he said there was not a single complaint against any of the politician of Punjab with him.

Referring to the community policing, he said it was producing good results. Community policing resource centres had been set up at Patiala, Bathinda, Amritsar, Hoshiarpur and Ludhiana, which were getting good response from public. A sum of Rs 10 lakh was being provided to each centre. These centres were generally dealing with cases relating to matrimonial and sexual harassment of women and children and complaints against travel agents.


Roshni guides their steps
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Rajpura, July 19
Rupa Rani spent 17 years of her life on all the fours. Born with weak lower limbs, made dysfunctional by repeated attacks of polio, she never thought she could measure the earth with her steps anymore. Until one day her legs were nursed back to life by the Rajpura-based home for the disabled kids — Roshni — which runs a comprehensive rehabilitation programme involving corrective surgery of polio ridden and other handicapped kids, followed by their education and final settlement.

This day was all about the victory of hope over disability. Present at Dr Mittal hospital in Rajpura to attend the function hosted in their honour by Roshni were 35 handicapped kids, many of whom used to crawl until a few days ago. But after undergoing corrective surgery at a hospital in Rampura Phul, they can now walk with crutches and attend school without depending on those “stupid tricycles” — as they call them. Gathered from all over Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh, these children were all smiles today, especially after they received study scholarships of Rs 1000 each from Roshni. They were happier with the gift of school bags.

Content with the blessings the day brought in its fold, these kids spoke to about their transformation from “vegetables to dignified children.” As the 18-year-old Rupa from Ropar, currently studying class XII, said, “I felt like a burden. We went to doctors in Patna, Ludhiana, Mohali but no one cured me. Also the expense was too high to be borne. Finally Roshni came to my life, took me for free surgery and gave me the gift of legs. I now go walking to my school. My mother is very happy.” Rupa was operated on October 4 last year. After the operation she walked with crutches after 17 years of crawling. The case of Reena from Rajpura was worse. Lucky to have been spotted by Roshni in one of its medical camps, Reena today wishes to fly. “I already feel I am soaring. I can now feel the earth.” Reena is doing BA (I) through correspondence. She was operated on April 9 last year and she used crutches after 20 years.

Sukhwinder Singh from Rajpura broke down when he recalled how he was spotted and made to walk after a free corrective surgery. “What can I say? I can offer my life to Roshni for what it has given me.” Harpal from Amritsar could also not walk till the time he was operated upon. Today he is empowered and is learning tailoring. He said, “You can come to me to get clothes stitched. I’ll be happy to work for you.”

Harpal was given a sewing machine as a gift. Also present were many other polio-ridden kids. Among them were Surinder Kaur from Gopalpura, Mary TA from Amritsar, Sahil, the four year old polio ridden boy from Amritsar, six-year-old Lakhwinder from Rajpura. Raj Kumar, also a polio ridden from Rajpura could not come to collect his gift of a school bag and Rs 1000. Operated three days ago, he was came to the venue in a handcart.

The prizes were provided by Father Thomas Kumma Pally of Roshni, Principal of Holy Angel School, Rajpura and Mrs Agya Singh from Chandigarh. The next installment of study scholarship will be provided to these kids near Divali.


Home is where love is
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Siswan (Ropar), July 19
Khushia, the hero of an award-winning novel, “Karmanwali”, based on a true story about the reunion of a Pakistani woman with her long lost Indian son, broken by the Tribune some 23 years ago, has been located living peacefully in a village near Chandigarh.

The story has moved people on both sides of the border ever since it was reported in these columns on May 5, 1980, and seems set to inspire them again at a time when the Indo-Pak ties are showing signs of a thaw.

The story led to the birth of a novel, “Karmanwali” by K.L. Zakir, which was later translated into Hindi and adapted for stage.

It has now made into a five-episode Punjabi television serial for Doordarshan to be telecast from Srinagar on its Kashmir channel as also on its international satellite channels.

The serial has been produced and directed by Manjit Singh Malhotra. The role of Bachni Bibi, renamed Karmanwali in the serial, is being played by Anita while the role of Khushia is being enacted by Bobby Ghai. Mr Zakir made it a point to attend the shooting schedules of the serial to ensure that the story remains close to facts.

Incidentally, the shooting of the teleserial took place in the same area where the family of the Muslim woman, Bachni Bibi, used to live before the Partition of the country which separated her from her son, three-year-old Khushia. Khushia was entrusted by Bachni Bibi to her brother-in-law who, however, abandoned him in Siswan before going to Pakistan. Khushia was later picked up by a childless Sikh family which raised him as one of its own.

In Pakistan, Bibi Bachni, living in Jadanwali village, Chak 240, in Faisalabad district refused to give up hope. “Every time a Sikh delegation visited Nankana Sahib for pilgrimage, I would go there to meet them and enquire about my son”, she recalled in an interview with this correspondent 23 years ago. The breakthrough in Bachni’s search for her lost son came when somebody from Siswan’s neighbourhood visited Chak 240. He helped her locate her son and fulfil her life-long mission to meet him. Although she made a trip to Siswan and stayed there from December, 1979 to March, 1980, she failed to persuade him to come with her to Pakistan.

“Why should I go to Pakistan? Khushia asked this correspondent. “I have everything here. Everybody whom I love and care for is here. I am leading a happy contented life. Who knows me in Pakistan? I will be a complete stranger there. Let my mother come and stay with me”.

Finally, Bachni returned to Pakistan without her son.

The second search for locating Khushia was launched by The Tribune after certain actors of the teleserial expressed skepticism over the existence of Khushia. The breakthrough in the month-long hunt for Khushia in the villages around Chandigarh was provided by Mr Arvind Puri, an influential personality of Mullanpur-Garibdas.

In an interaction with TNS and Zakir at the latter’s residence today, Khushia said he had no regrets over his decision not to go to Pakistan with his mother. He recalled with warmth how he was picked by a Sikh family which raised him. “Had I gone to Pakistan with Bibi, I would have never forgiven myself.

That would have undetermined the faith reposed in me by the Sikh family…In future, perhaps no one would have adopted an orphan. Pakistan can never give me what India has given me…a new life, a new purpose and a new future”.

Khushia who is married to Vakilan, now has three school-going children — two daughters, Neeru and Rajni and one son, Vishal, and works at a farm in Siswan.


Contingency plan to tackle floods
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
The district administration has earmarked a room in the Circuit House for the District and Sessions Judge to hold his court there in case rain water floods the court complex.

The decision to earmark a room of the Circuit House for the temporary shifting of the court of the District and Sessions Judge in case the court complex is flooded by rain water was taken last evening at a meeting of district officials convened by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, to prepare a contingency plan to tackle floods due to rain.

The official work of the court and many other offices was affected yesterday when rain water entered their premises after heavy rain lashed the city during the past two days. The records of the District Treasury Office and some other offices were also damaged due to rainwater.

Mr Aggarwal said the district administration had prepared a contingency plan to meet flood situation if that happened in the city, which had a unique topography having natural drainage and dotted with low lying areas. He added that plans had been prepared with the help of Army and Indo-Tibet Border Police (ITBP) personnel to evacuate people to safer places and subsequently providing them with shelter, food and medical care in the event of flood.

He pointed out the main reason for slow draining of rainwater was that at present the existing capacity of draining out rain water in the town was 40 cusecs against the requirement of 80 cusecs. To meet this capacity, additional points would have to be arranged for draining out rain water and it would be done by next year.

Mr Aggarwal said in the past two days, which witnessed heavy rain in the city, rainwater could not be drained out speedily as power hotlines given to electric pumps installed in various pockets were not functioning properly. He said now continuous power supply to pump sets had been ensured and so draining out of rainwater would be efficient and speedy.

Meanwhile, the district police chief, Mr Ishwar Singh, has deputed a good number of police personnel to help those, whose dwellings and commercial establishments have been affected by rain water.


Gobind Fort falls to monsoon
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
The 1,800-year-old Gobind Fort, in the heart of this town that withstood a number of attacks failed to face the fury of monsoon. A portion of its 120-foot high wall collapsed yesterday after heavy rain.

However, the collapse did no damage to the nearby dwellings and commercial establishments. This protected monument has been a source of fear for those living in pockets, near it. In 1988, such a collapse had claimed one life.

The fort is among the 30 monuments and archaeological sites of national importance, but such collapses are not new here. Over the years, a huge portion of this fort has collapsed due to an indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned.

Though a section of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials has been stationed on the fort premises, it has failed to preserve its falling portions. The much-needed repair has not been carried out as the authorities concerned have not received adequate funds from the Central Government. They have repaired only the gurdwara inside the fort.

The locals told the TNS that they were doubly crushed as the authorities concerned had been neither repairing the fort nor allowing them to repair their crumbling dwellings.

There is a ban on carrying out repair or new construction within the 200 m radius of the fort.


Law to deal with ‘runaway’ NRI grooms
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 19
The Punjab Government is contemplating to enact a law to book NRI bridegrooms who commit fraud with Indian brides.

This was disclosed here today by Mr Balbir Singh, MP, who is also the vice-patron of the NRI Sabha, Punjab, while addressing mediapersons.

Mr Balbir Singh was here to participate in a function organised by the NRI Sabha, Kapurthala, and the Kapurthala Working Journalists Association.

He disclosed that the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had recently held a meeting with the Chief Secretary, Punjab, the DGP and legal experts for framing a law to book such NRI bridegrooms.

He said the NRI Sabha, Punjab, had demanded the setting up of a tribunal for the speedy disposal of cases of NRIs relating to property disputes and other crimes.


Helplines to make policing effective
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 19
To make community policing more effective in Hoshiarpur district people-friendly helplines for women, children, senior citizens, NRIs and drug de-addiction have started functioning in Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) here from Saturday. This was disclosed by Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP, Hoshiarpur, while addressing a seminar on community policing held at the local Services Club. She said these helplines would function round-the-clock. Complaints of sexual harassment would also be entertained on the helpline. She said the accident helpline would coordinate with all hospitals and would arrange ambulance service in the district, for providing immediate help to accident victims.

Crime, complaints and verifications helpline would provide current status of FIRs, complaints received at the SSP office and would also cater to the various enquiries of different kinds of verifications. A quick reaction team equipped with motorcycles had been provided to the CPRC which would take immediate action on emergency calls. She said centre had got a sum of about Rs 1.5 crore refunded to the innocent persons who were cheated by the so called travel agents during last year.

Mr Anil Kaushik, Additional Director General Police Lokpal, praised community policing and explained its utility.


Focus on urban estates in PUDA budget proposals
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 19
“The Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority has decided to construct nearly 8,800 houses in this financial year, 40 per cent of which will be for the poor,” Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, Punjab Housing and Development Minister, said here today.

He said the budget proposals for the year 2003-04 had been approved by PUDA keeping in mind recommendations of the Financial and Accounts Committee. Under this, capital expenditure of Rs 661.7 crore is proposed to be made.

The budget proposals lay a renewed stress on development of urban estates and construction of houses. The merger of the Directorate of Housing and Urban Development with the PHDB is the first step towards this.

PUDA, with a view to extending SAS Nagar, had notified 1,350 acres for acquisition for the development of five new sectors.


Man dies while extinguishing fire
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 19
Hardeep Singh, son of Mr Gurtej Singh of Sardulewala village in Sardulgarh subdivision in the district, died last night while trying to extinguish as fire in the house of Bira Singh, son of Billu Singh, in the village, which caught fire around 9 p.m. yesterday.

Hardeep Singh climbed on the roof of the house to extinguish the fire, but fell into the room which was engulfed by fire.

Villagers tried to call a fire engine on the telephone from Sardulgarh, but in vain. They then ran to the nearby Sardulgarh town to get a fire engine, but only one employee was on duty, who showed his inability. A fire engine was then summoned from the Mansa fire station, which is at a distance of 40 km from the village, but by that time Hardeep Singh had died.

In another incident, a 65-year-old woman, Gurdev Kaur, of Boha village in Budhlada subdivision in the district, died due to snakebite yesterday. Gurdev Kaur was cooking in her house at 7 p.m yesterday when a snake appeared and bit her. She was taken to a local Vaidya by her husband, who referred her to Tatia in Haryana, where she died.


Ferozepore faces problems galore
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore, July 19
Rain may be a boon for the farmers, but as far as the residents of this city are concerned, it has proven to be a nightmare as it brings lots of problems for them. Even a slight drizzle inundates the town, particularly the interiors and the low-lying areas. The bumpy roads dotted with potholes become a cesspool of slush and the faulty sewerage further adds to the woes.

The road connecting Ferozepore city to Zira, is in a dilapidated state. It is quite difficult to drive on this road, as it is always flooded with the sewerage water. The conditions at the Mall Road, Main Circular Road, Road near Piranwala Mohalla and Loharanwala Bazaar are equally bad.

The faction-ridden Municipal Committee, in absence of adequate resources, and shortage of manpower and funds, is not able to do anything and is practically defunct. Though, a grant of Rs 78 lakh has been sanctioned by the state government but the development jobs and works pertaining to maintenance and repair of roads have still not been initiated.

A tour of the circular road reveals that heaps of garbage dot the edges of blocked drains serving as a breeding ground for flies and mosquitoes.

The unavailability of potable water is another problem being faced by the residents. Three tubewells are out of order and another three are required to meet the demand of the drinking water.

Allegedly, the clash of interests within the MC has led to the present condition of the town and has led to shelving of many projects. The administration seems helpless in the present scenario, which has invited public wrath.


Minorities unsafe, says Akali faction
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 19
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) has opposed the candidature of India for a permanent membership of the UN Security Council for not being a signatory to various international conventions and treaties related to the rights of minorities.

Talking to reporters here yesterday, the national general secretary of the Dal, Dr Harjinder Jakhu, who recently returned from a tour of European Union countries, said his party had apprised parliamentarians of Norway, Sweden, France, Italy and Austria of the double standards adopted by the Indian Government while treating the minorities here.

He said they conveyed their concern about the failure of the government to order an inquiry into killings of hundreds of Sikh youths in false encounters during the period of militancy.

“We are of the view that the minorities are not safe in the country as Hindu fundamentalist organisations are virtually running the show at the behest of the Vajpayee government. Besides, the killings of Muslims in the Gujarat riots and the subsequent acquittal of the accused due to lack of evidence has virtually exposed the way the Union Government is busy in open genocide,” he said.


No provident fund even after 6 months
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 19
Most of the teachers and employees of the Education Department, Punjab, who have retired during the past six months have not received the GPF deposited by them.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra and Mr Om Parkash Sharma, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Punjab Government Pensioners Association, Fazilka, said the Punjab Government had vested the power of disbursing the GPF to Drawing and Disbursing Officers of schools from April 2002. The office of the Director, Public Instructions (Secondary), had not provided the final balance statement of the GPF even after a year.

The Supreme Court had in its verdict directed that the GPF should be paid on the very next day of retirement.

Some of the employees had visited the office of the DPI, Chandigarh, in this regard but nothing had been done.


Police shielding accused: kin

Jalandhar, July 19
Relatives of Subash Chander, a resident of New Prithvi Nagar, whose body was found at Shekhe village, near here, on Friday, staged a dharna on the old GT road, near Civil Hospital, this afternoon alleging that the police was shielding the accused by deliberately allowing them enough time to get anticipatory bail from the court.

They alleged that the intention of the police was clear as it had earlier registered a case under Section 304A of the IPC, which was later converted to 302, IPC, after protest by the family members of the deceased. So much so that some police officials had allegedly informed the accused in advance about the raid plans to arrest them. The police authorities, however, said that none of their officials were shielding the culprits. — OC


Bus service brings tears of joy
Our Correspondent

Wagah, July 19
Tears of joy trickled down the cheeks of Nelopher on the prospects of meeting her daughter in Delhi after more than two years, before boarding the Lahore-Delhi bus this morning.

Nelopher Malik said her daughter’s marriage took place in Delhi and she could not visit her as the train and bus services had remained suspended for 18 months. She said people in Pakistan wanted cordial relations with India and suggested that visa restrictions should be eased so that people could frequently visit their relations in both countries.


Passport adalat at Sangrur on July 23
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
The Regional Passport Office, Chandigarh, will hold a passport adalat at Parul Marriage Palace, Barnala chowk, Sangrur, from 10 am to 1 pm on July 23.

All applicants falling under the jurisdiction of Sangrur, Mansa, Bathinda and Barnala, who have submitted their applications Bill June 30, 2002, and those whose applications are still pending with the Regional Passport Office, can attend the adalat. The applicants would have to bring along their call letters, said the spokesman.


Councillors seek security
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 19
Taking up a petition filed by Patti Municipal Committee members belonging to the Shiromani Akali Dal, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state of Punjab, the director general of police, and other respondents to protect the life and liberty of the petitioners till elections of president and vice-president were over.

Issuing the directions, the high court also directed the respondents to ensure against any untoward incident. Apprehending danger, the petitioners had earlier sought directions for providing them with security cover, besides holding the elections in camera.

Giving details, the petitioners had earlier contended that the committee elections were held on March 9. Out of 15 members elected, 10 were of the Shiromani Akali Dal. The rest belonged to the Congress party.

They had added that the elections for choosing the president and the vice-president were to be held within 14 days of the issuance of a notification on March 11. The meeting, scheduled to be held on March 28, was, however, postponed after the Congress members allegedly threatened others.

The petitioners had further submitted that the meeting was again fixed for June 16. The notices were also sent to the members. Subsequently, all the members under Punjab’s former minister Adesh Singh Kairon went for the meeting, but the returning officer failed to turn up.


Quick justice depends upon lawyers, says CJ
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, July 19
“If justice delayed is justice denied then justice hurried is justice buried” said Chief Justice B.K. Roy of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in his address at Tehsil Complex here after formally inaugurating the courts which had started functioning from July 12. He said courts should adopt a middle path to preserve the spirit of justice.

Senior members of the judiciary and administration were present on this occasion.

For quick justice the Chief Justice said the onus lay not only on judicial officers, but also on lawyers, who could help the court understand the matter quickly.

Regarding the poor condition of the courts here, Mr Roy said this could make dispensing justice difficult as it was an intellectual job which required peace of mind. He urged Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, and Mr Hans Raj Josan MLA, to give aid for courts complex, responding to which, Rs 5.5 lakh was promised immediately.

Mr P.K. Sinha, Senior Superintendent of Police at Ferozepore, supported the Fazilka Bar Association demand for the court of the Additional Sessions Judge at Fazilka. Responding to the demand, Mr Justice N.K. Sud said the authorities concerned would look into the issue.


Police remand in medical goods scam
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 19
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau (VB) today produced Navdeep Arora, accused of supplying inferior quality goods to the government medical colleges of Punjab, before the court of Kharar Judicial Magistrate, Mrs Baljinder Kaur Bhatia. The court remanded him in police custody till July 22.

Mr Jatinderjeet Singh Punn, Public Prosecutor and the Vigilance DSPs, Mr Saroop Singh, Mr Jora Singh and Mr Niranjan Singh informed the court that Dabwali-based and Bathinda-based firms of the accused supplied inferior quality goods (cotton and bandage) to medical colleges of Patiala, Faridkot and Amritsar from 1999 to 2001 at a cost of Rs 68 lakh. They alleged that the accused did not adhere to the governmental specifications. They added that this had been done in connivance with some government officials.

They said that it was yet to be ascertained from the accused as to what goods were supplied and about the government officials involved in the scam. The VB had registered a case under Sections 420/120 B and the Prevention of Corruption Act against the accused at SAS Nagar yesterday.


8 booked for thrashing complainant
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 19
The police has registered a criminal case against eight persons, including the son of an SHO, who was caught by the Vigilance Bureau while allegedly taking a bribe of Rs 5,000 on Tuesday, on the charge of thrashing Ashu Sharma, the complainant in the case.

The police has registered an FIR under Sections 382, 323, 325, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC in the Cantonment police station against the eight persons, including Raja, son of Inspector Amarjit Singh, SHO, on the basis of the statement of Ashu, who is undergoing treatment at the local Civil Hospital.

Ashu Sharma, who got the SHO trapped in the Vigilance net, was attacked and severely thrashed by a few persons a day after Vigilance sleuths nabbed the SHO.

Inspector Amarjit Singh had allegedly demanded a bribe of Rs 10,000 from Ashu Sharma to clear him of charges levelled against him by Ramesh Kumar and to cancel the case after an inquiry. Ashu paid Rs 5,000 to the SHO, but when the latter insisted on another Rs 5,000, he approached the Vigilance Bureau, along with an audio cassette containing a recorded conversation between him and the SHO, in which the Inspector had asked for the bribe. Later, a Vigilance team laid a trap and arrested the Inspector. The persons against whom the case has been registered include Raj Kumar, Sonu, Kamal Kumar, Dinesh, Vijay, Pappu and Rajiv.


Poppy husk worth Rs 12 lakh seized
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
A police party of the Rampura Phul area today seized 81 bags of poppy husk worth Rs 12 lakh from a truck carrying bags of marble chips near Gurusar village.

The police party also arrested Rakesh Kumar, a resident of Akalia village of this district, in the case.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, Bathinda, said poppy husk bags were being brought to Punjab in the truck, which was loaded with marble chip bags. He added that this was a new modus operandi of the smugglers the police had come across.

He said, however, other accused, who was involved in the case, Gurmel Singh, alias Ghona, a resident of Bhadaur village managed to escape.

The accused used to bring a bag of poppy husk weighing 35 kg for Rs 6,000 from Rajasthan and would sell the same for Rs 12,000 to Rs 15,000 per bag in Punjab. The present consignment was being taken for Jalandhar from Nathwada in Rajasthan.

A case in this connection had been registered under Sections 15, 61 and 85 of the NDPS Act at Dyalpura police station.


Another forgery case against Jains
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 19
Another case of forgery and breach of trust came to a fore against Ramesh Jain, the main accused in a forgery case, after the local branch of the State Bank of Patiala, complained against him at the local police station.

In a written complaint to the SSP, Patiala and the DSP and SHO of Dera Bassi, the branch manager has complained that Ramesh Jain and other partners of a rice mill at in Haibatpura village had gone missing on June 29 when a team of bank officials asked them to complete their stocks worth Rs 45 lakhs during a visit to the factory on June 28.

During its visit the team had found that the mill owner had stored stocks of lesser value. The bank had granted the proprietors a credit limit of Rs 45 lakh some years ago and in exchange it had kept 11 bighas, including the factory building and machinery of the millers as mortgage property.

Mr I.G. Gupta, bank branch manager, said though complaints were made to the police but no case had been registered against them in this regard.

Meanwhile, Mr Balwinder Singh, DSP, claimed that the accused has agreed to return the dues within 15 days. Ramesh Jain, his brother Ravinder Jain, their wives and nephews Amit Jain and Atul Jain are still at large.


Cyclist crushed to death
Our Correspondent

Lalru, July 19
Kaka Singh (30), a resident of Lalru village, was crushed to death by a car while he was on his way to join duty in a milk products manufacturing industry at Sarseeni village on the Chandigarh-Ambala highway, near here, this morning.

According to the police, Kaka Singh was riding a bicycle when the car (PB-12E-7680) coming from Ambala hit the bicycle.

After registering a case under Sections 279 and 304-A of the Indian Penal Code against the driver of the car, the police has impounded the vehicle. The driver is said to be at large.


1 killed, 4 hurt in car-truck collision
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 19
One person was killed and four others were injured, two of them seriously, in a head-on collision between an Accent car (PB-10-AP-6353) and a Tata-407 truck (HP-12-9463) near the village of Jandala on the Nangal-Anandpur Sahib road at about 5.30 pm today.

The driver of the truck had rammed his vehicle into the car while trying to overtake another vehicle. The injured and the dead were all in the car coming from Samrala. They were going to Baba Barbagh Singh Dera in Una district of Himachal Pradesh.

Boota Singh of Samrala died on the spot. The injured, who were brought to the BBMB Canal Hospital in Nangal were Ravinder Singh of Paprodi village in Samrala, who was in a critical condition, Sikandar Singh of Ajlout village in Samrala, also reported to be serious.


Armed men loot Rs 13.32 lakh
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 19
Rs 13.32 lakh was looted by an armed gang of over 12 persons at Boha village of the Budhlada subdivision of the district yesterday.

The money was withdrawn by Mr Balbir Singh and Mr Choota Singh, both members of the managing committee of the Truck Union Boha, from the Boha branch of the Mansa Central Cooperative Bank. As soon as these two came out of the bank, the armed gangsters came in a car and a jeep and snatched the bag from them injuring the owners.


Two killed in bus-truck collision
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 19
At least two passengers of a private bus died while eight others were injured when it collided head on with a truck coming from Barnala side near Gill Kalan village in this district, 40 kilometres from here, today. The bus was on way to Jalandhar from Bathinda. Rajinder Kumar and his daughter Jyoti, both residents of Mandi Dabwali, were among those killed in the accident.

A case in this connection had been registered under Sections 279, 337, 338, 427 and 304-A, IPC, in police station.


Students for change in counselling date

Bathinda, July 19
A section of students has urged the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences authorities to change the date of counselling for admission in MBBS courses in colleges affiliated to it, which has been fixed for July 27, as on the same day Vardhman Mahavir Medical College (Safdurjung Hospital), New Delhi, is going to conduct an entrance test. — TNS


Bank seals Bakeman’s unit
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 19
The oldest and the most prominent industrial house, Bakeman’s, suffered a jolt with a Maharashtra bank sealing its factory on the outskirts of the city here yesterday.

The factory was sealed as the industries had reneged on a promise to repay a loan of Rs 15 crore to the State Industrial Corporation of Maharashtra. Sources said the industrial house had taken a loan of Rs 15 crore from the bank a few years back and that it presently had to pay Rs 17 crore to the bank.

The bank authorities had also come to Patiala on June 17 with the intention of sealing the factory. The authorities had been able to get an order in that regard from the Mumbai Land Revenue Collector. However, the factory was not sealed following assurances by the industrial house that it would make some payment to the bank.

However, when no instalment was paid even one month after the assurance, the bank authorities again got a similar order from the Mumbai Land Revenue Collector.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, had deputed a team comprising Tehsildar Subhash Bhardwaj and Naib Tehsildar Moti Lal to accompany the bank officials so that the order of the Land Revenue Collector could be enforced. Sources said police force was also sent with the team which subsequently sealed the premises of the factory.

Sources said there was a confrontation between the factory management and the bank authorities over the issue of food stock lying in the factory. But the factory management was able to take the food stock, worth around Rs 1.5 crore, out of the factory. The factory, which had remained closed for nearly one and a half year, had started production from July 2 this year. With the sealing of the factory around 600 persons working in the unit face a bleak future.

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