Monday, July 21, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



British couple booked; blames Customs officials
Varinder Walia and Neeraj Bagga

Gharinda (Amritsar), July 20
The Muslim couple (British nationals), who had crossed over to India from Pakistan, today said that they had the ‘worst ever’ experience of the life due to the fault of the officials of Customs and Immigration posted at the Wagah joint check post.

Talking to TNS here, the couple, Mr Sheikh Nasafor Ali (47) and Ms Sheikh Hussina (46), who have been booked under the Foreigners Act, said that they had stopped for some time at the Wagah post before proceeding to New Delhi as they had sought details about the route and mileage from the BSF officials after their registration (they had got their entry done in BSF register). “Had we done it deliberately, we would have fled without making the queries”, they asserted.

The couple said that they had been going to meet their relatives in Sylhet district, about 250 miles from Dhaka. Though they had settled in England, yet they have a number of relatives in Bangla Desh (their native country).

“It was our bad luck that we had decided to go to Bangla Desh by our own car which has been impounded by the customs”, Mr Sheikh said. “Earlier, I used to visit my relatives in Bangla Desh by air. However, my wife said that it would be real adventure to go by car,” he added.

The couple had come from England after visiting France, Germany, Yugoslavia, Tunisia, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan they had reached India. “We did not face any problem after our journey which started from England on June 1. The customs and immigration formalities are not cumbersome in other countries like they are in India. Moreover, it was their job (the custom and immigration) to stop us and ask for completion of the formalities. Now after our detention and questioning they must have come to know our intentions were not dishonest at all,” the man added.


Centre seeks report on British couple’s entry
Tribune News Service

Wagah, July 20
Many heads in the Customs and Immigration Department here are likely to roll even as the Central Government has sought an immediate report on the Muslim couple (British nationals) who had inadvertently driven away from the joint checkpost here on their blue Toyota after entering from Pakistan yesterday. The couple was detained on their way to New Delhi.

The slipping of the foreign nationals from the checkpost has exposed the security arrangements at the Wagah checkpost where a number of senior officials from various intelligence agencies are posted.

After registration of their credentials by the BSF officials after crossing over the zero line, the couple had spent a few minutes there and asked the BSF officials, ‘how far New Delhi is from Wagah’. However, the foreigners who were of Bangladesh origin were not guided to get their immigration or customs cleared.

Some senior officials, on condition of anonymity, said save their kin, the custom officials had recommended the prosecution of the couple who could not be considered at fault. The couple, Nasaraf Ali Sheikh and Hussina Sheikh, were detained from near Jalandhar and were questioned by the custom officials for several hours. Officials of the intelligence agencies were not told about the whereabouts of the couple till the pre-questioning was completed.

The interrogation of foreign nationals who are detained for violation of the Passport Act are interrogated by officials of all intelligence agencies at the Joint Interrogation Centre here.

The sources said luck favoured officials of the Custom and Immigration Departments as the couple could be arrested on the basis of the details mentioned in the register of the BSF that the couple was travelling in their vehicle. Had any ‘anti-national’ entered India on foot, it would have been difficult to detain the person.

As per normal routine, after entry by BSF officials, those entering by road get clearance from the immigration, then they get an ‘ok slip’ from the Customs Department which is delivered at the exit gate. This indicates that the Sheikh couple crossed all barriers without any hassle as there was nobody to guide them.


Irrigation Adviser to Amarinder resigns
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The nine-month-old tussle between the Punjab Irrigation Minister, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar and the Chief Minister’s Irrigation Adviser, Mr Bhagat Singh Sandhu, today culminated in the resignation of Mr Sandhu.

Mr Sandhu,who enjoyed the confidence of the Chief Minister, had quit World Bank-aided project in Andhra Pradesh to join as Adviser in Punjab. In fact, he suffered a financial loss of Rs 16 lakh by making early exit from the project.

According to sources, Mr Sandhu drove to the Chief Minister’s residence at Patiala this morning to hand over his resignation. He tried to meet the Chief Minister but was unable to do so as the former was busy.

Mr Bhullar, who had almost stopped attending his official work for the past few weeks, told the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, on July 17 that he would have to make a choice between him and Mr Sandhu. The Chief Minister had visited Mr Bhullar’s house to have a lunch with him. A number of other ministers were also present at the lunch.

However, two days later, a report said to based on a letter, purported to be written by Mr Sandhu to the Chief Minister, appeared in a section of the press which carried serious allegations levelled against Mr Bhullar. However, the Chief Minister’s office denied that it had received any letter casting aspersions on Mr Bhullar by Mr Sandhu.

The tension between Mr Bhullar and Mr Sandhu started following the submission of the preliminary report in November last year regarding a scam in the remodelling project of the Upper Bari Doab Canal, which feeds water to Gurdaspur and Amritsar districts. Incidently, Mr Bhullar also hails from that area.

Acting on the preliminary report, the government placed Chief Engineer Sukhjinder Singh, since retired, Superintending Engineer Jarnail Singh, Executive Engineers Anil Khosla and Gurmail Singh under suspension on November 30, last year. Mr Bhullar later revoked the suspension of Jarnail Singh which displeased Mr Sandhu.

In the final report submitted in April and since referred by the Chief Minister to the ADGP ( Law and Order), Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Mr Sandhu recommended the registration of criminal cases against those engineers of project who inflated estimated and created works, which were not required, allegedly to mint money.


Litigations over police promotions worry govt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The Home Department of the Punjab Government is worried over the spate of litigations which are likely to follow due to large-scale, allegedly arbitrary promotions of hundreds of police officials by the outgoing Director-General of Police, Mr M.S. Bhullar.

A senior official in the Home Department admitted that the controversial promotions by the DGP at the fag end of his career were bound to affect the morale of the police forces.

In violation of the rules, non-deserving officers had been promoted at the cost of meritorious ones, who were now moving to the court. This would create serious administrative problem for the government, he added.

Inquiries revealed that over the past three months, Mr Bhullar had promoted a number of officials starting from the rank of Constable to the Inspector-level and had transferred officials of the rank of the SP and above. Among those promoted are over 400 PAP personnel, besides those in various other districts. He has given double promotions to officials employed in his security.

Citing rules, senior officials pointed out that the DGP had extraordinary powers to grant promotions by recording the reason in exceptional cases such as to officials, who are outstanding sportsman at the national/international-level or have shown exemplary act of bravery, but not as a rule. However, a majority of promotions done by the DGP do not satisfy the rules as no speaking orders for the same had been issued nor had there been any verification of the record.

In most cases, officials had been exempted from appearing in examinations and attending various professional courses, which as per rules were mandatory for promotion to the next rank.

The DGP has also ordered the transfers of few senior officials, above the rank of the SP, even as he is authorised to transfer officials upto the rank of the DSP. The power to transfer officials, is vested only with the Punjab Government and could not be done without the consent of the Chief Minister. The DGP was not available for comments.


Fee hike: students move to HP colleges
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 20
The hike in the college fee effected by the Punjab Government has forced students residing in the border areas of the state to colleges located in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh. The fact is illustrated from the steep decline in admissions in Government Shivalik College, Nangal.

Admissions in BA (I) have declined from 218 last year to 41 in the Government Shivalik College, in B.Com. (I) from 21 to 11, in B.Sc. from 59 to 21, in MA-I (Economics) from two to one, in MA-I (political science) from 10 to three and in MA-I (public administration) from nine to none.

The loss of Government Shivalik College of Punjab has been the gain of SVSD College, Bhatoli, located in Himachal Pradesh, near the border. In that college, the admissions in BA-I have risen to 469, B.Sc.-I to 263 and B.Com.-I to 135.

The Principal of the SVSD College, Mr S.K. Sharma, when contacted told this correspondent that due to the big number of students taking admissions in college, they had decided to adopt the merit criteria for admitting students.

The reason was for the large-scale migration of students from colleges in Punjab to Himachal Pradesh is the huge difference in the fees.

While after the hike a student taking admission in colleges located in Punjab has to cough up about Rs 7,000 the fee in Himachal colleges is just about Rs 1,000.

The admission in the other government colleges of Punjab has also declined.

In Ropar Government College, the admissions in BA-I have declined from 641 last year to 433 this year, in B.Com.-I from 60 to 44 and in B.Sc. from 157 to 155. Some officials of Ropar Government College say that many students are not in a position to pay the hiked fee.

Meanwhile, the colleges run by the SGPC have decided not to charge the increased fee from the students. Sources in Khalsa College, Anandpur Sahib, said in the beginning, they had decided to charge the increased fee as notified by Punjabi University, Patiala. However, due to the poor response of students, the fee was slashed back to the previous levels. Though officially the SGPC has not decided against charging the increased fee from students, the decision has been communicated to the principals to charge the fee applicable before the hike in view of the poor response of the students.

The hike in fee in colleges has increased the admissions for eleventh and twelfth classes in schools. With the most of the schools facing an unprecedented rush of students in the said classes, they have decided to adopt the merit criteria for admissions.

Badal for rollback in tuition fee hike
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today asked the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to immediately rollback the “shocking and insensitive hike in tuition fees or be ready to face people’s action against the government.”

Mr Badal said he had already asked various wings of his party to see that the authorities do not carry out repression on students for the peaceful protests started by them. They had also been asked to work for a wider spread of awareness about the serious nature of the damage which the government’s decision could inflict on the future of the Punjabi society.

“Like all dictatorial regimes, this government clearly has a vested interest in denying the spread of knowledge and wisdom by taking education outside the reach of the common man. The decision also reflects on the quality of vision that the Chief Minister has about whither to take the state.”

Mr Badal told the Chief Minister to desist from the course of destructive confrontation with students and their parents. “ This decision spells absolute ruin for the future of our children. The common man, especially the poor and from the middle classes, would find it impossible to even dream of providing education to their wards. If allowed to go unchallenged, the decision would push the state and its people into the dark zone of educational and economic backwardness,” Mr Badal said in a statement released through party’s media office here

The Akali leader said this ‘stubborn folly’ merely demonstrated how shockingly unaware the Chief Minister was of the gravity of the situation. “Capt Amarinder Singh needs some serious lessons on the conditions of the people of the state he heads.


Many takers for old-age home
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 20
After the publication of a news feature “old-age home starts functioning” in The Tribune on June 13, the authorities of the local Pingalwara, a branch of the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society, Amritsar, have received letters and telephone calls from elderly persons, including couples, from Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, requesting for a room in the “Birdh Ghar” (old-age home) so that they could spend their remaining life in a peaceful atmosphere.

It was published in these columns that with the admission of Mr Ujjagar Singh (78), a resident of Achharwal village in Ludhiana district, to the Birdh Ghar, the old-age home has started taking old persons who have either been abandoned by their children or have no one to look after them.

Though the Birdh Ghar was inaugurated by Mr Sunder Lal Bahuguna, founder of the Chipko Andolan, on March 29, 2003, only Mr Ujjagar Singh has been residing in the home as the authorities have written the letters to those old persons, including couples, who want to reside in the old-age home, to contact Pingalwara authorities so that their cases could be decided on merit as the home has a limited capacity with 14 single-bed rooms and 10 double-bed rooms to accommodate 34 persons.

Talking to TNS here, Mr Tarlochan Singh Cheema, honorary chief administrator of the local Pingalwara branch, said after getting replies from the aspirants, the rooms would be allotted according to their need and domestic circumstances.

Mr Rajesh Kumar, in charge of the wards of the local Pingalwara, said one could assess the miseries of old-age persons after reading their letters or listening to their life stories. He said all six letters, except one, were written in English. This showed that they were educated people.

One of them is a retired SDO (72) from the PWD and B&R who says he is not being treated well by his son.

A person (63) from Balongi village, near Kharar, is living in a rented house and meets both ends by selling vegetables, but he cannot work due to the age factor, so he needs shelter in the Birdh Ghar. An old-age couple (husband plus 70 and wife plus 65) from Bilaspur in HP, also wants space in old-age home as their daughters-in-law and a son had severed connections with them. Though they have a regular income, they cannot afford a maidservant.

An old-age couple from Ludhiana has also sought a room in the home on the plea that the man has been suffering from diseases for the past three years and they have no son while their adopted daughter has gone abroad after marriage and they do not want to go there.

Another couple (husband 65, wife 62) from Ambala in Haryana also needs a room as they are in trouble and have no source of income or cooperation from any side. Another couple from Amritsar also wants space in the home on the plea that they have no source of income or property.


Sacked minister alleges victimisation
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 20
Dr Harbans Lal, sacked minister, talking to The Tribune here today said he had been made a scapegoat by the bureaucracy as Mr P. Ram, who had recently joined as Principal Secretary, Forest, had concealed facts and not given “true” information to the Chief Minister.

He said as the Chief Minister claimed that he had been sacked on the directions of Congress high command, he had submitted a representation to the high command. He had also urged the Punjab affairs in charge, Ms Mohsina Kidwai, to send a team of senior party-office bearers to Mirzapur jungles to inquire into the allegations levelled against him regarding the felling of trees there. He said that he did not want a ministerial berth again but wanted a clean chit from the party high command so that he could again go to the people of his area and serve them.

He said he had sought an appointment with Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President AICC, to apprise her of the fact that he had been sacked without giving a chance to prove innocence. He said he had made a similar request to the Chief Minister so that he could put the facts before him.

He said Mr Dharmvir, IAS officer, who had also been sacked, had never worked with him.

Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, was here for the first time to his hometown, Sirhind, and his constituency after his dismissal from the Cabinet. He had come to preside over a function organised by his supporters to honour newly elected panches and sarpanches at Sirhind today. The function was well-attended.

The organisers claimed that more than 140 sarpanches from the constituency participated. Dr Harbans Lal also launched a plantation campaign.

People had come in large number to listen to Dr Harbans Lal at his first public function after his dismissal. Addressing the function, he said he had delayed his visit to the town as he was admitted to Escorts Hospital, Delhi. He told the gathering that he had not indulged in corruption and was clean. He alleged that a lobby had been working against him as he had ordered an inquiry against corrupt officials.

He said he was not bothered about the Ministry, but he had great concern about his reputation, which he earned by serving the people for the past 15 years.

He said his main aim was the development of Fatehgarh Sahib and he would continue to struggle for that. He said during his ministerial tenure he had issued grants to all educational, social and religious institutions of his area to the tune of Rs 45 lakh without any discrimination.

He said it did not matter whether he was minister or not. He would continue to serve the people with even greater dedication as they had stood by him in the hour of crisis.

Addressing the function Mr Gurwinder Singh Dhillon, Chairman, Block Samiti, Bassi Pathana, said every worker of the party and all sarpanches were with Dr Harbans Lal, who had served the area well.


Rift in Sangrur SAD unit
Our Correspondent

Dhuri, July 20
Though Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, member, Rajya Sabha have forged unity but factionalism among Barnala supporters and Dhindsa loyalists of the SAD in the Sangrur district continues.

No leader of the SAD of this district loyal to Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General of the SAD and Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilizers, including Mr Joga Singh Ghanaur, President of the Dhuri circle of the SAD attended the function organised by Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala, MLA, Dhuri yesterday evening here to honour pro-SAD sarpanches and panches of the Dhuri area. Mr Baldev Singh Mann, general secretary of the SAD and former Akali Minister presided over the function. As many as 24 sarpanches and more than 100 panches of the Dhuri circle of the SAD were honoured by Mr Baldev Singh Mann and Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala.

Mr Gaganjit Singh Barnala said that the 72 per cent activists of the SAD had been elected as Panchayat members in Dhuri Assembly Constituency. He also announced that demands of the Dhuri area like Railway Overbridge at Dhuri had been accepted by the Government. He also disclosed that four villages of the Dhuri Assembly constituency — Dhandra, Dohla, Ranchna and Bhattian Khurd villages had been selected to be developed as model villages.

Mr Nachhatar Singh Jahangir, senior SAD leader and state president of the Adhyapak Dal, Punjab, Mrs Inderjit Kaur, President Istri Akali Dal, Punjab, Mrs Harjeet Singh Hanspuri District General Secretary of the SAD and other SAD leaders were also present.


Shiv Sena vice-chief quits
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 20
Mr Vikram Kumar, vice-president of the Shiv Sena Punjab (Bal Thackeray), has resigned from the party’s post in protest against refusal to probe serious allegations levelled by some persons against Swami Pushpinder Sharma, President of the state unit.

In a press note here yesterday Mr Kumra said keeping in view the seriousness of the allegations, Swami Pushpinder Sharma should resign from presidentship of the Sena.


Indo-Pak candlelight vigil likely
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 20
Efforts are afoot to hold a “joint Indo-Pak candlelight vigil” programme on the eve of Independence Day at the Wagah border this time. A possibility of a joint function, that could give a boost to neighbourly relations and Indo-Pak peace in the region, was expressed by Mr Kuldip Nayar, veteran journalist and Rajya Sabha Member. Mr Nayar was here today to chalk out the programme for the vigil programme started in 1995.

He said efforts were being made to invite Pakistan parliamentarians, journalists, intelligentsia and singers to join the candlelight vigil function on the eve of August 15.

The Rajya Sabha Member said he had written to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani for permission to hold such a programme.

Significantly, the local Muslim community would support the peace march for the first time.

Mr Tirlok Singh of the Indo Forum Chamber of Trade and Commerce speaking on the occasion said both the countries were wasting Rs 3,000 crore per annum by bifurcating their goods to other nations to be supplied to each other which could otherwise be at their doorsteps.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, general secretary of Folklore Research Academy which is in the forefront of the Indo-Pak function, said this annual event would continue.

Meanwhile, Mr Nayar talking to select mediapersons revealed his association with two former deposed Prime Ministers of Pakistan.

He said Mr Nawaz Sharif telephoned him from Jeddah (Saudi Arabia) about four days back and expressed his desire to go to Pakistan with him on his (Nayar’s) next visit to Pakistan.

Mr Nayar claimed that the deposed Prime Minister living in Jeddah said he had nothing to do with the “Kargil “misadventure”. He said Mr Sharif had tried to talk to Prime Minister Vajpayee at that time and had even decided to send his Foreign Minister Sartaj to solve the problem with talks, but things got out of hand. “What I was told was a minor ‘skirmish’ turned out to be much bigger than anticipated,” Mr Nawaz reportedly told Mr Nayar. Mr Nawaz also expressed his anguish at India for talking to an Army chief who engineered ‘Kargil’ and deposed him as Prime Minister in a coup the same year.

The Rajya Sabha Member said he met another former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Ms Benazir Bhutto, in Dubai a month back before heading an MPs’ delegation to Pakistan. He claimed that Ms Bhutto expressed her regret in not doing anything to forge Indo-Pak relations when she was in power.


SC quota posts lying vacant: Singla
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 20
Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman of the High Powered Finance Committee, Punjab, today said education was the best tool for the social upliftment of the downtroddon sections of the society.

While addressing at a function organised for the newly appointed chairmen of various wings of the government by the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes wing of the District Congress Committee, Mr Singla said over the years, a major section of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes had failed to enjoy the fruits of reservation due to lack of formal education. He added that several posts reserved for Scheduled Castes were lying vacant as there was no suitable candidate to fill them.

The Congress government was trying its best to remove this disparity, launching a number of welfare schemes for the Scheduled Castes. These people had been given representation in every wing of the state government, he added. He exhorted these sections of the society to improve their lot by educating their children, as education was the platform from where they could compete with the other.

Mr Kewal Krishan Aggarwal, general secretary, DCC (I), Bathinda, urged the Punjab Government to give Scheduled Castes their due right in the party set up and in different wings of government.

Mr J.S. Kandera, coordinator, All-India Scheduled Castes Committee (SC and ST), Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Mr Anil Bhola, president, city Congress and other senior leaders of the party attended the function.


Qila Ahluwalia in bad shape
Varinder Walia

Tribune News Service

AMRITSAR: Qila Ahluwalia, near the Golden Temple, which was auctioned in the beginning of the 20th century by the British Government, has emerged as a big shopping complex as nobody bothered to preserve this historical building belonging to great Sikh warrior Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia.

Sardar Ahluwalia was acclaimed as the supreme leader of the Khalsa Panth and awarded with the title of Padshah (king) and Sultan-ul-Quam (emperor of the Sikh community) after the conquest of Lahore by Sikhs in November, 1761, and the death of Nawab Kapur Singh Faizullapuria. Sardar Ahluwalia successfully led Sikh warriors against frequent foreign invasions of the Afghans and the tyrannical rule of Mughal administrators during the 18th century.

While a major portion of the fort has already been demolished by shopkeepers after its auctioning to set up their business establishments, the remaining parts of the historical building have started crumbling. However, one of the gates, well and certain parts of the building are intact which could be preserved if the state government pays proper attention.

An art expert, Ms Rupali Razdan, said the wall paintings on windows of the building seemed to be the work of the 19th century. “There seems to be a clear impact of the European school of art, style and technique on the art work. Except one painting, which belongs to Lord Shiva, all others are European paintings”.

Giving details of the art work in the fort, Ms Razdan says, “There are mostly landscapes in which beautiful English women with fairies and angels, children and couples are shown in English dresses”. However, the fine colour used in this art work is fading.

Mr Onkar Singh Sandhu, patron of the Ramgharia Federation and a Sikh scholar, said it was a matter of great concern that the condition of Ahluwalia Fort was pitiable which needed to be preserved at the earliest.

According to historians, the fort was intact till 1850 as Sardar Ahluwalia used to stay here. However, during the British regime, Marwaris purchased it in an auction. 


IG told to probe charge against ADC
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 20
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has ordered an inquiry into a case against Mr Anurag Aggarwal, former Deputy Commissioner of Ludhiana and Mr Rahul Bhandari, Additional Deputy Commissioner Ludhiana, to be conducted by the IG (Litigation) Punjab, in which they have been alleged to have got false FIR registered against Mrs Asha Bhateja and her husband Pradeep Bhateja.

An order issued by Mr N.K. Arora, member of the PSHRC, said the Inspector-General (Litigation) has been asked to conduct the inquiry into the case. Mrs Bhateja had complained to the commission that in order to harass her, “the DC and the ADC, Ludhiana, had got registered a false case vide FIR Number 324 dated 23-12-2002 against her and her husband”.

She alleged that her family members had suffered a lot and could not run their business. In this situation, the financial condition of the family had become quite miserable, besides the hardship and harassment at the behest of the two officers that they had to suffer.

The commission order observed “the contents in the complaint do prima facie make out a case of intervention of the be registered as a case.

A copy of the complaint and of the order had been sent to the IG Litigation Punjab through a special messenger who shall get the inquiry conducted regarding the alleged false registration of a case and submit information report to the commission before the next date of hearing on August 22, 2003”.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission had ordered an inquiry against Mr Aggarwal and Mr Bhandari which was to be conducted by the Commissioner, Patiala division.

The Bhatejas had been alleging that Mr Aggarwal had been misusing his position to harass her at the behest of one of his relatives with whom Mr Bhateja had a business partnership.

Mr Aggarwal and Mr Bhandari have been denying the allegations and refuting the charges of victimisation. Mr Aggarwal is at current posted as Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda.


Lekhak Milni’ calls for introspection 
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 20
Punjabi Tribune’s “Lekhak Milni” today saw readers urging top brass of the newspaper to go in for introspection, recruit correspondents with commitment and ensure publication of more quality articles and translation of famous works of other languages in the newspaper.

PCS officer Harkesh Singh Sidhu said there was need for introspection among the top brass of the newspaper.

He said the standard of journalism had fallen in recent years and that steps needed to be taken in this regard. He said the newspaper should appoint educated persons as stringers or correspondents. He also called for verifying the source of income of correspondents.

Kuldeep Singh Ugani said readers should analyse things in proper perspective. He said if the readership of the paper was to be increased, correspondents needed to be given proper training so that they could rise to the demands of today’s journalism.

Harpal Singh Pannu of Religious Studies Department, Punjabi University, said there was a need to publish novels and literature of other languages also in Punjabi Tribune so that the best of literature was made available to the reader.

He also called for publishing Khushwant Singh’s weekly column in the newspaper.

Nirmal Singh Dhaliwal called for careful editing, saying that editors should ensure that everything sent by the reporters was not published verbatim.

He said there must be some screening to ensure that reporters did not favour only one set of persons.

Harkirat Singh urged that the paper should campaign for removing the problem of accumulation of water in the Ghas Mandi area as well as that between Anardana Chowk and Chhoti Nadi.

Speaking on the occasion, Punjabi Tribune Editor Shingara Singh Bhullar said it was the endeavour of the paper to create writers in Punjabi.

He called upon readers to interact with the newspaper so that it could be enriched further. Assistant Editor Sham Singh and Special Correspondent Jagtar Singh Sidhu also spoke.



An apology for veterinary hospital
Our Correspondent

Batala, July 20
The building housing the veterinary hospital here is dilapidated. It was declared unsafe by the Punjab Government in 1989. The hospital is built over five kanals.

The cattle shed of the hospital is being used as a scooter stand though it has collapsed. At present there is no cattle shed in this hospital.

A veterinary doctor disclosed here today that the Panchayti Raj Department, Punjab started building three rooms for the diagnostic laboratory in 2000, but built only walls of rooms and spent Rs 1.5 lakh on it. There is no roof on these walls. Till date for the laboratory has not been given any equipment required.

Senior Veterinary Officer Kulbhushan Soni, Veterinary Officer Dr Sarabjit Singh, Pharmacist Balwinder Singh, one Poultry Inspector, one Development Officer, four class IV employees are working here. The Punjab government spends Rs 85,000 every month on the salary of the staff of the hospital, said Dr Gumbir.

Staff-members and the people who bring dogs and cattle etc have to sit in the open exposed to the sun and rain.

Even medicines have not been provided by the government since 1999. The hospital has been with power since 1998. Dr Gumbir Inder Singh, Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Gurdaspur said that a meeting was held with Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Punjab Minster for Animal Husbandry, and he was apprised of shortage of medicines. The minister reportedly replied to them that medicines cannot be provided due to financial difficulties.

Hospital building got raised in December 1916 (a stone on the wall reads) by H.D. Watson Sahib Bahadur the then Deputy Commissioner, Gurdaspur along with Lala Hari Ram Ohri, then Municipal Commissioner, Batala.


Withdrawal of NPA decried
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
The PCMS Association, Punjab, has condemned the decision to abolish the non-practising allowance (NPA) and allow private practice by doctors.

In a joint statement issued here today, Dr D.S Gill and Dr M.S Randhawa, President and Patron respectively, of the association described the decision as a “reward to the corrupt and punishment to the honest”.

Asking the government to immediately restore the NPA, Dr Randhawa pointed out doctors would lose between Rs 5,000 and Rs 8,000 in salaries per month depending on the number of years of service.

Citing the examples of other states, the association pointed out these had to restore NPA as similar experiments of allowing private practice proved counter-productive.

Review decision on NPA, say doctors
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, July 20
Dr D.S. Gill and Dr K.S. Brar, Presidents, PCMS Associations, Faridkot Medical College and Civil Hospital, Bathinda, respectively, yesterday condemned the decision of the state government regarding the stoppage of the non-practice allowance (NPA) paid to the doctors.

They said the decision would affect medical services being given to patients. They added that Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh should review the decision.

Dr Gill threatened that if the government failed to review the decision, the doctors would go on strike.

AMRITSAR: “The government has committed to pay the NPA (Non-Practicing Allowance) to doctors in appointment letters and it has a legal obligation to respect this commitment.” This was argued by the Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) following the government decision to abolish the NPA.

Dr B.S. Dhillon , general secretary, Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, decrying private practice by some doctors as a ‘slur’ on doctors, said the policy-making bodies were misleading by stating that Rs 80 crore could be saved by abolishing this allowance.

He said the NPA controversy had been created by bureaucrats. The allowance especially for the doctors who were on 24-hour call duty in emergency and dangerous situations was mandatory to run medical service in the state.


Mann campaigns for human rights
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 20
During his over one-month tour of Norway, Sweden, France, Germany, Italy and Austria, Lok Sabha Member and SAD (A) president Simranjit Singh Mann has met parliamentarians and other opinion makers of these countries to apprise them of human right abuses taking place in India of minorities, including Sikhs, Muslims, Christians and Dalits. He urged these countries to make India sign UN humanitarian treaties to make the lives of minorities safe and dignified, said a party press note issued here today.

Meanwhile, Mr Mann has written a letter to Pervez Musharraf, President of Pakistan, taking exception to the naming of a Pakistani missile as Abdali. He said Sikhs objected to the development as Ahmed Shah Abdali, after whom the missile was named, had attacked the Golden Temple, Amritsar, in 1762.

Regarding Mr G.S. Tohra becoming SGPC president, in a talk with this correspondent here last afternoon, Mr Mann said Mr Tohra should have faced the general house of the SGPC and not taken the short route to the post through the executive. He said Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar’s term would have ended in October and he should have been allowed to continue in office till then.


Scam-indicted officials on foreign visits
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 20
The investigation into the Upper Bari-Doab Canal (UBDC) scam, involving 36 officials, has been hampered as seven top officials including Chief Engineer, Superintending Engineer and several executive engineers, have left for foreign countries. Interestingly, all these officials have gone abroad on a regular visa, and after getting leave from the government even as they were indicted by the Bhagat Singh Committee.

Centrally-sponsored project, worth Rs 180 crore, modelling the UBDC channels to provide improved irrigation facilities to the farmers of border districts of Amritsar and Gurdaspur was launched during the previous SAD-BJP regime. However, many eyebrows were raised regarding the credibility of some officials executing the project.

Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, constituted a three-member inquiry committee, headed by Mr Bhagat Singh, Adviser (Irrigation), to the Chief Minister, to probe the matter. The committee, which submitted its report to the government about a fortnight ago, indicted 36 officials. An FIR was lodged at the Pathankot Sadar police station on the basis of the inquiry report about 10 days ago.

A special investigation team of the police with Mr RPS Brar of Gurdaspur as the nodal officer was deputed to probe the matter. He said addresses of suspects were being collected and one Superintending Engineer of the Canals Department had been deputed to help the police team for technical details regarding works and official papers.

Meanwhile, sources said that an interesting feature of the UBDC project was that it was prepared by a Chief Engineer, who happened to be one of the members of the Bhagat Singh Committee, which indicted the officials for various irregularities. 


BSNL subscribers wait for bills
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 20
In this era of cut throat competition among mobile companies, the public sector telecom giant, Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL), has not been able to send bills of mobile phone service to its more than 2.20 lakh customers in the Punjab Telecom circle for the past two months thus putting on hold revenue collection of about Rs 14 crore.

Well-placed sources in BSNL told The Tribune that no bills have been sent for the month of May and June for its subscribers. Now, finally an order for printing of bills has been given and the BSNL has decided that July 28 will be last date. Sources, however, pointed out this new deadline will be impossible to meet

A mobile phone bill is normally sent out every 30 days and the BSNL was also carrying with the same routine. The last bill received by users was in May and this had also caused confusion as users had been billed for incoming calls also.

Officials in the BSNL Punjab Circle headquarters admit that bills have not been sent out for the past two months. Estimatedly Rs 14 crore is waiting to be collected from users, who have not been able to send the bills. A source said the BSNL could not sort out its computer software problem when free incoming was allowed by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

The BSNL had allowed free incoming on mobiles from its own landlines from day one. In April, mobile phone companies allowed free incoming calls from all networks. This required a modification in the computer software which could not be carried out to produce accurate bills thus delaying the issuance of bills.


Of phones, inflated bills and faults
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 20
The telephone exchange here is in a mess. There are complaints of inflated bills which are of delivered late and of faults not rectified.

Official sources say the exchange has 13000 connections and of these bills of 5000 connections are issued either late or not issued at all.

The exchange authorities for reconnection due to non-payment of bills charge 10 per cent of the amount of bills and Rs 108 for the restoration of connection, which the subscribers fined excessive.

After making the payment the subscribers have to report to the exchange with receipt at a place which is away from the town for the restoration of phone connection.

If the subscribers want to know the issuance of telephone bills telephone authorities say that bills are issued from Pathankot and the subscribers have to go to Pathankot to know facts regarding the bills. Bills deposited with the authorised office here are not reported to the accounts office at Pathankot in time leading to the production of proof in the form of receipt to avoid disconnection of phone.

The procedure is cumbersome and the subscribers at times remove it resulting in the disconnection of telephone.

There are complaints that half of the telephones do not work during rains, due to alleged faulty underground lining of telephone wire. Faults are repaired quickly. Resourceful subscribers have an advantage and get the faults rectified allegedly by greasing the palm of the officials concerned.

The telephone authorities on the condition said that the telephone staff running the exchange has been decreasing after every retirement.

Fresh recruitment is not being done. The material particularly telephone wires are allegedly of inferior quality and is leads to faults every day.


6 of marriage party hurt
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 20
Six members of a marriage party including a boy of 14 were injured when the Tata Sumo (DL-4C-D-3113) they were travelling by overturned near Jian Chabewal, 12 km from here, on the Hoshiarpur - Chandigarh road at 10.30 a.m. today.

The injured were identified as Amar Nath (70), son of Vadhawa, William (15), son of Hans Raj, Yash Pal (37), son of Peeri Ram, Bagh Ram (80) and Bau Ram (70), sons of Nathu Ram, all of Usman Shaheed (Dasuya), and Amar Chand (60), son of Nath Ram of Ghogra. They were taken to the Civil Hospital here where the condition of William is stated to be serious.

It is reported that due to slippery conditions due to rain, the driver of the vehicle lost control of the vehicle which hit a tree and thereafter rammed into the wall of a house and overturned.

All passengers were going to Chandigarh from Dasuya to attend a marriage.


Scribes seek EO’s transfer
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 20
Journalists here yesterday demanded the transfer of the Municipal executive officer allegedly for making a false complaint against a journalist. 

The executive officer reportedly felt annoyed with the journalist for reports which went against the officer. The officer alleged that he had been threatened by the reporter. 


Medical camp held

Muktsar, July 20
As many as 170 patients were examined at a medical check-up camp organised by Adesh Hospital and Research Centre in association with Unite States Vitamins (USV), here on Sunday. 

Dr H.S. Gill, Chairman, Adesh Group of Institutions, said the camp was organised for diabetic patients. He said besides free medicines, literature on avoiding diabetes was also distributed among patients. — TNS


HC judge’s visit
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 20
Mr Justice Vinay Mittal, a Judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court and Inspecting Judge for Sangrur, yesterday visited the District Courts here. 

Mr Sarjiwan Jain, President of the Sangrur District Bar Association, said Mr Justice Mittal allowed the lawyers to construct temporary sheds on the land along the boundary wall of the judicial complex of the lawyers, had been demanding it for long.


Booked for minor’s rape
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 20
A 17-year-old girl of Fatahpur village under the Sadar police station alleged that she was abducted and raped by a married man of the same village. She, in her complaint, alleged that Bittu kidnapped her on July 11 when she was on way to a shop. She said the accused took her to the Golden Temple and the next day to Karnal where she was kept in a hotel. She added that accused raped her for two days.

She said on July 14 Bittu brought her back and left her near Hall Gate from where she ran away and reached home in Fatahpur village. The police has registered a case under Sections 363, 366, 376 and 506 of the IPC. No arrest has been made so far.


Six from Doaba held in Kiev
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 20
Six persons of Doaba region were arrested in the Ukrainian capital Kiev for allegedly travelling on forged documents, according to an information at the Regional Passport Office, Jalandhar.

“We have got this information from the embassy concerned and have informed the families of these persons to deposit the air fare for bringing them back,” Regional Passport Officer Amargit Singh told newspersons here last night.

He said a few countries, Ukraine being one of them, send free of charge information in such cases. Others charge a fee for sending such information.

About his office in Jalandhar, he said about 800 passports were being issued daily by the Jalandhar office even though it was ‘highly under-staffed’ having 64 staff members against its requirement of 111.


Three held for murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 20
The district police has solved a murder case, which took place on June 29 near Bhucho Kalan village. In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said Babu Singh, a resident of Bhucho Khurd village, was reported missing on June 29. His body was recovered from the cantonment area on July 2. 

A special team headed by the SP (H), Mr Harbhajan Singh, was constituted to solve the crime. The team arrested Mukhtiar Singh, Makhan Singh and Banta Singh.


PRTC bus runs over three
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 20
Three persons, including two children, were reportedly killed on the spot near the Dhuri railway level crossing here last evening when a PRTC bus hit them. Shankar Lal (35), Pappu (12) and his sister Rano (10) were the victims.

Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, DSP, Sangrur, said both the children were walking while Shankar Lal was on a scooter when the accident took place. A case has been registered.


2 die in mishap
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 20
Two persons were killed when the truck they were travelling in collided with a tree near Kotli village under Sadar police station here, on Sunday morning.

The victims have been identified as Harjinder (driver) and Surinder (owner) of the truck (PB-06-2210).

According to the police the truck with bricks laden in went out of control after a fault in the vehicle or with tyre burst.

The police has registered a case.


Rickshaw-puller stabbed to death
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 20
Raj Kumar, alias Raja (19), a rickshaw-puller and resident of Bharat Nagar on the Batala road, was allegedly stabbed to death by his sister’s husband and brothers here today. Raj Kumar was going for work when he was attacked.

Raj Kumar’s father in his complaint alleged that his daughter Geeta was married to Kale, who used to beat her up. He said Kale threw his daughter out of the house a few days back. Kale along with his brothers Raja and Pannu today allegedly stabbed and inflicted serious injuries to Raj Kumar, who later succumbed to his injuries in hospital. The police has registered a case. No arrest has been made. 


Avneet, Ramandeep shine
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 20
Ms Avneet Arneja and Ms Ramandeep Kaur both students of the Department of Psychology, Guru Nanak Dev University, secured first and second position, respectively, in MA Psychology (part II) examination held in April this year.

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