Sunday, July 27, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tohra becomes SGPC chief today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 26
Akali leader Gurcharan Singh Tohra will be elevated to the post of SGPC chief at the emergency meeting of the executive committee body here tomorrow after a gap of four years. He was unceremoniously removed from the coveted post, by the same pro-Badal executive committee, a month before the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa Panth.

Mr Tohra would take over as 26th SGPC chief at a time when Jathedars of Akal Takht and Patna Sahib had adopted the path of confrontation on the issue of declaring any Sikh Tankhaiya. Mr Tohra would also face a challenge to frame bylaws for the appointment and removal of Jathedars as directed by the Sikh clergy.


Hemkunt yatra to be part of national programme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
Full security cover has been promised to all Sikhs, both from within the country and abroad, who participate in the annual yatra to Sri Hemkunt Sahib, as the Uttaranchal Government has withdrawn all cases registered against 20 Sikh youths following their clash with some shopkeepers near Rishikesh on July 1.

The yatra was disrupted early this month after 20 youths were taken in custody by the police in what they described as “one-sided action of the Uttaranchal police”. Alleging discrimination, various Sikh organisations, including the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), protested against the police action and demanded the immediate withdrawal of all cases.

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), Mr Tarlochan Singh, said all 20 Sikh youths, who were arrested on July 1, had been released and the police had withdrawn all cases registered against them. The Uttaranchal Government had also announced a special relief for the affected shopkeepers for the losses they suffered during the clashes with the pilgrims between June 29 and July 1.

Mr Tarlochan Singh said he had also written to the Union Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Mr Jagmohan, to convene a meeting of Hemkunt Board and Uttaranchal Government officials and include the annual yatra to this historic shrine on its national calendar of “pilgrimages”. Since the Union Ministry had been making special efforts to boost “pilgrimage tourism”, Hemkunt yatra should be made a part of the calendar and a special package sanctioned for Uttaranchal so that necessary basic amenities were extended, including good food and accommodation at reasonable rates, to the visiting pilgrims, including those from overseas.

After clashes took place between a group of Punjabi youths and some shopkeepers of the Rishikesh area cases of arson and rioting were registered against them. The Uttaranchal Chief Minister, Mr N.D. Tewari, during a halt at the historic Gurdwara Paonta Sahib on July 9 , announced that all arrested Sikh boys would be released immediately and the cases registered against them would be changed from non-bailable to bailable offences.

However, the releases could not be made as surety bonds submitted by the Sikh bodies of Rishikesh and Gobind Dham, were not accepted by the court. Instead, the arrested boys were asked to furnish documents of their immovable properties as surety bonds for their release.

The NCM intervened and summoned all senior officials of the Uttaranchal Government, besides representatives of the Sikh community and the locals in New Delhi on July 17 to resolve the dispute.

The NCM asked the state government to withdraw all cases against the youths and compensate the shopkeepers adequately for the losses that they might have suffered because of the clashes. The NCM also directed the Uttaranchal Government to ensure the security and safety of nearly two lakh Sikh pilgrims who visited the shrine during summer months.


Police alerted over Punjab robberies
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
A statewide alert was issued today after Adampur in Jalandhar district was targeted by a gang of armed robbers who have been striking in peripheral towns and villages of the state for the past four days.

In Adampur, the gangsters struck at four places last night, and decamped with cash and gold ornaments worth more than Rs 1 lakh. A broad daylight snatching in Jalandhar and a late evening snatching in Moga were also reported during the past 24 hours necessitating the police headquarters to issue instructions to all district police chiefs to intensify patrolling and introduce “thikri pehra”, besides keeping a watch on hiding places of criminal tribes suspected to be involved in the recent spate of armed robberies, snatchings and dacoities in the state.

A gang of 10 to 15 unidentified persons struck terror in the Adampur area last night as it first entered the house of Ms Sukhwinder Kaur and locked all family members in a room and decamped with Rs 5,000 in cash and all gold ornaments.

The gang then moved to the farm house of Mr Charan Singh and robbed the labourers of Rs 60,000. The gangsters then struck in Udesian village and robbed families of Mr Surjit Kaur and Ms Jaswinder Kaur of their cash and gold ornaments.

“We are convinced that it is the handiwork of certain criminal tribes who have been active in Punjab, Chandigarh and Haryana. Since ‘amavasa’ — moonless night — falls on July 29, we expect that these criminal tribes will strike at more places during the dark nights. Though we have issued a general alert, district police chiefs have been asked to concentrate on peripheral areas of towns and cities as these are more vulnerable to strikes by the criminal gangs,” a senior police official told The Tribune here this afternoon.


1,400 illegal tubewell connections detected
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Ferozepore, July 26
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is facing a major problem as a large section of the farmers near the Indo-Pak border in this district have started using “kundi connections” to draw power to run their tubewell motors to irrigate farms.

Official sources said in the past 117 days, the enforcement wing staff of the PSEB had detected 800 unauthorised tubewell motor connections in the border areas of this district alone. The PSEB authorities had received reports that in a single village located near the zero line of the Indo-Pak border, there were about 200 kundi connections.

Sources said a section of the Congress leaders of the area had also asked the PSEB authorities to intensify their campaign against those who had been stealing power.

In the west zone of the PSEB last month, 1,400 unauthorised tubewell motor connections had been detected. The PSEB authorities had moved applications to the SHOs concerned of various police stations and the SSPs for registering criminal cases against 270 persons for their involvement in theft of power.

Besides, the PSEB authorities had issued chargesheets to a number of linemen, junior engineers and subdivisional engineers for their alleged involvement in facilitating theft of electricity.

Mr G.C. Goyal, Chief Engineer, Distribution, West Zone, said apart from detecting 1,400 unauthorised tubewell motor connections, the field staff had also regularised 3,387 tubewell connections under the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) launched by the PSEB in the current financial year. He added that the PSEB had earned Rs 7.6 crore from this exercise. The PSEB authorities had recovered about Rs 60 lakh from those who had been stealing power and were caught in the west zone.

He pointed out that since the last date for the VDS had been extended to August 15 by the Punjab Government, it was hoped that the amount recovered under this head would cross Rs 10 crore. The field staff had been making a survey of the farmers who had installed tubewell motors of a load capacity more than that sanctioned officially.

Mr Goyal pointed out that power theft cases were also being detected in Bathinda and Muktsar districts of the west zone in large numbers. The theft of power cases in these districts were less than cases in Ferozepore and Faridkot districts.

He said a campaign had also been launched to recover the arrears from government departments through persuasion as well as by threatening to disconnect power connection. He said energy losses on each 11 KV feeder were being calculated every month to fix responsibility of erring officials, adding that shortly each feeder would be converted into a profit-making unit of the PSEB.


CM maligning SAD leaders: Dhindsa
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, July 26
Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Chemical and Fertilisers Minister, while accusing the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, of adopting “double standards” in his much-hyped drive against corruption dared him to file a defamation suit against him and senior BJP leaders. He also referred to the allegations of excise duty evasion levelled against him. Mr Dhindsa was talking to mediapersons here today. He had come here to attend the bhog ceremony of a senior SAD leader, Subedar Gurmit Singh.

If the Chief Minister really wanted to eradicate corruption , he should constitute a judicial commission to probe all corruption cases he said. Instead, Chief Minister had launched a campaign, under the guise of an anti-corruption drive, to malign SAD leaders.

While he was giving a clean chit to ministers belonging to the Congress, against whom corruption charges had been proved, the SAD leaders were being put in jails and harassed by the Vigilance Bureau without conducting any inquiry.

Mr Dhindsa said though the Chief Minister had sacked Mr Harbans Lal from the Forest Ministry, till now no case had been registered against him. Besides, the Chief Minister had been shielding another minister, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma.

Moreover, he had inducted Congress leaders into his Cabinet who had been found guilty of corruption by the Lok Pal, alleged Mr Dhindsa.

He lamented that Capt Amarinder Singh had started an unprecedented era of “politics of confrontation”.


Badal’s bid to rope in MPs
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 26
In a desperate bid to make what is happening in Punjab a national issue, the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has written a letter running into 16 pages to all Members of Parliament and other opinion makers in the country.

Mr Badal has compared the existing situation in the state to the tragic events that culminated in the national tragedy of 1984. Claiming to be a “responsible servant and spokesperson” of the people of Punjab, Mr Badal has stated in the letter that “ the amazing parallels between the developments as they are unfolding in the state today and what transpired prior to the tragic events culminating in the national tragedy of 1984 (Operation Bluestar, massacre of thousands of innocent Sikhs in several parts of the country) have forced me to take the unusual step of approaching people’s representatives and opinion makers across the country”.

In fact, through the letter he has tried to convey that the “existing situation could slide back to the days of civil disorder posing serious threat to the unity and integrity of the country”.

Drawing the attention of the MPs and others, Mr Badal has stated that “you must already have seen reports on growing social and political tension in the sensitive state of Punjab as a result of the policy of hatred and bitter confrontation being pursued by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh”. Mr Badal says, “I am really alarmed at the dangerous trends towards the personalised acrimony and political vendetta unleashed in my state”. Continuing further, he says, “So that the nation is not caught unaware tomorrow, I deem it my responsibility to put bare facts on reality status in Punjab before your goodself so that the country at large is able to assess for itself the gravity of the challenges being posed to our democratic edifice in Punjab”.

In the letter, he has reiterated what he has been saying about Capt Amarinder Singh’s campaign against corruption for the past several months. But from the letter, it is clear that Mr Badal has made an attempt to address the large audience across the country. He had taken up the issue earlier with the BJP-led government in the Centre. Then speaking in support of Mr Badal, the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, had stated that Capt Amarinder Singh should not treat his political opponents as “enemies”.

But after that widely reported statement, Mr Advani and other leaders of the BJP such as Mr Madan Lal Khurana have become silent on the Badal issue. Mr Advani has not mentioned Punjab even once after that statement he made about two weeks ago.

Using strong expressions in the letter, Mr Badal has stated that Punjab has turned into a “theatre of violence, vendetta, repression and lawlessness. Bitter personal hate and enmity have replaced enlightened political dissent”. He says, “Now it is the Vigilance Bereau which runs the state for the Chief Minister, registering cases and arresting respectable leaders of the Opposition”. In the letter details of all cases registered against former Akali ministers and leaders have been given.

There are also details about the alleged involvement of certain present and former Congress ministers in corruption cases. Giving such details, Mr Badal has stated that the Chief Minister has been very quick to give a clean chit and also patronage to guilty and corrupt in his government.

In the concluding part of his letter, Mr Badal has requested all concerned that “this government must be stopped in its tracks, if peace and unity of the country is to be preserved”.


Kapurthala police goes hi-tech
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, July 26
Collection and analysis of information pertaining to law and order, its retrieval for day-to-day policing and handling of crime and criminals will no longer be a cumbersome process for the police, thanks to installation of the Village Information System (VIS) by the Kapurthala Police.

With the help of the VIS, the police can get exhaustive details about any villages in Kapurthala, their demography, religious places, educational and financial institutions, major disputes, licence holders with the date of expiry of the licences, tenants, criminals, vehicles, employed and unemployed persons, absconders, smugglers, military deserters, proclaimed offenders and those who have migrated to foreign countries at the click of a mouse.

Besides this the database would provide details about the colour of vehicles, their owners, type of weapons in the area, antecedents of tenants, spiritual or temporary ‘deras’ like that of Gujjars, criminals’ modus operandi, their associates, drug-traffickers, bootleggers and their area of operation, and information like serving policemen, sarpanches, local leaders and terrorist victims.

Initial trials have indicated the software’s usefulness in combating and preventing crime, helping the police in regular surveillance.

Mr M.S. Bhullar, the DGP Punjab, who formally launched the software today, said the VIS would prove to be a potent weapon against crime. It would also improve the supervision of senior officers.

According to Mr. L.K. Yadav, SP (Headquarters), any police official, intending to have information about any village falling in the four sub-divisions of Kapurthala district, could do so by going to the office of the SP (D), where the software has been installed. Mr J.P. Virdi, the IG Jalandhar Zone, said though the information about criminals was available with the police, it was in registers at different police stations. The practical utility of the VIS was that it provided all the information of the district quickly and at one place.

Earlier, Mr Bhullar gave away certificates to 73 police personnel and their wards who completed the computer course formulated by the Computer Education Cell of the Kapurthala Police. Mr Bhullar, who was accompanied by Mr D.R. Bhatti, the Additional Director General of Police (PAP) and Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIG, also inspected the Community Policing Resource Centre (CPRC) where he was briefed by senior police officials about its working.


Attorney held for graft

Amritsar, July 26
Ms Promila Goraya, Deputy District Attorney was nabbed red-handed while taking bribe of Rs 35,000 from Shashi Mohan Chopra, of Majitha House here for helping him in a land dispute case.

She has reportedly told the officials of the Vigilance Bureau that she used to share the ‘bribe’ with certain high-ranking officials of the department.

Mr Parmjit Singh Rai, Director, Prosecution said that Ms Goraya would be suspended after getting a report from district attorney on Monday. — OC


Sarpanches of Dhanaula area honoured
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 26
Mr Madanjit Singh, an officer in the Punjab Chief Minister’s office today organised a function at his residence here to honour the sarpanches and panches of more than 50 villages of the Dhanaula Assembly Constituency.

Addressing the sarpanches and panches, Mr Madanjit Singh called upon them to lend a helping hand to Captain Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, in his crusade against corruption. He also criticised the previous SAD-BJP Government for alleged “misutilisation of funds” through the “Sangat Darshan” programmes. Mr Subhash Grover, President of the District Congress Committee; Mr Jagtar Singh Dhanaula, President of the District Youth Congress; and Mr Amandeep Singh Mansahia, Chairman of the Sangrur Improvement Trust also spoke.


Kamaljit’s photograph recognised
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
Chandigarh-based Oasis motel manager Amarnath today recognised the photograph of Kamaljit Singh, the alleged husband of Harpreet Kaur, while deposing in the Harpreet death case in the court of the Additional Sessions Judge here.

He could not identify the photographs of two other girls which were shown to him. The owner of the motel — Mr Pradeep Sharma — also appeared in the court and recorded his statement. He said Kamaljit used to stay at his motel frequently during his visits to Chandigarh. He said he had closed the motel in 2001.

The owner said he had once seen two girls come to the motel in a car with a red light on top of it. He said on asking the manager, he was told that the girls used to come to meet Kamaljit. Mr Sharma could not recognise the photographs of Hapreet Kaur.

Former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee President Bibi Jagir Kaur, mother of Harpreet, and other accused, including Dalwinder Kaur Dhesi, Sanjeev Kumar, Satya, Paramjit Singh Raipur, Harvinder Singh, and Nishan Singh, were present in the court. 


Judicial remand of Narottam extended
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 26
Special Judge Ropar SK Goel today extended the judicial remand of Narottam Singh Dhillon, cousin of Sukhbir till August 9. The judicial remand of two of the five employees of the Wimpy’s International Harjinder Singh and Rajinder Singh earlier released on bail has also been extended till August 9 as they failed to deposit the amount of bail bonds. Both of the said employees with the Wimpy’s International were released on bail against security and surety bond of Rs 50000 each.

The remand of other three Wimpy employees including Yash Dhawan, RK Gupta and Suresh Kulshreshtha has also been extended till August 9. The said employees of the Wimpy’s International were arrested for helping Hardeep Singh, former OSD of Mr Prakash Singh Badal.


PRTC official held, freed on bail
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
Mr Harbaksh Singh Dhillon, General Manager, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC), Bathinda depot was arrested and freed on bail by the Vigilance Bureau in connection with a corruption case registered against him and a cashier of the corporation Amrik Singh on June 25.

The Vigilance Bureau arrested Amrik Singh, a cashier of the PRTC for allegedly accepting bribe of Rs 2000 from the conductor of a mini-bus, Mr Navtej Singh for getting him favours from Mr Dhillon.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SSP (Vigilance), Bathinda, in a press note here today said that Mr Dhillon was freed on bail on July 15 as per the direction of the court.

Investigation revealed that Mr Amrik Singh had been accepting bribe with the consent of Mr Dhillon and hence reason of Mr Dhillon’s arrest.

Mr Grewal said that investigation revealed Amrik Singh had been taking bribe from the beggars for allotting them permission to beg at bus stand.


BJP charge against Mustafa baseless, says DGP
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, July 26
Mr M.S. Bhullar, Director-General, Punjab Police has said that BJP leaders’ charges against border range DIG Mohammad Mustafa that he helped Muslims from Bangladesh to settle in border areas of Ferozepur district were baseless.

Addressing a press conference in the Police Lines on Friday on the occasion of launching software Village Information System (VIS) Mr Bhullar said that he got the charges probed from the Punjab Police and found Mr Mustafa innocent and the matter had finished and there was no need to probe it again.

Explaining the main objective of launching of software VIS Dr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police told that with software the police could collect information of various natures having bearing on law and order analysed and retrieve information as and when required for day to day policing and to handle crime and criminals in the professional manner.

Dr Dhoke told the software introduced by the Kapurthala police was the first in the whole of Punjab would cover general information about villages like demographic pattern, religious places, educational and financial institutions, major disputes in village having implications in maintaining harmony in village.

He told that VIS would also help monitoring deras like spiritual, religious or temporary deras like Gujjars with the help of software in the villages in the district.

Surveillance of the criminals will be easy with launching of VIS software and it will help SHOs and other detective staff to know about the criminals in the area at the push of the button, he added.

Mr D.R. Bhatti, ADGP, PAP, Mr J.P. Birdi, IGP Zonal and Mr Dinkar Gupta, DIG Jalandhar range were also present on this occasion.

Mr Bhullar also gave away 73 certificates to police officials and their wards who completed the computer course from computer education cell, police lines Kapurthala.

Later, Mr Bhullar along with Mr Bhatti, Mr Gupta and Mr Dhoke visited the community policing resource centre.


Illegal soil mining near highways
Lalit Mohan

ROPAR: Most brick-kiln owners in and around Anandpur Sahib are mining fertile soil near the state highways and the railway track in blatant violation of the guidelines of the Punjab Pollution Control Board.

As part of illegal mining, ditches ranging from 10 to 20 feet deep have been dug up by kiln owners near the Nangal-Anandpur Sahib state highway and the railway track. As a result soil along the road and the railway track is getting eroded. The road has developed deep pits, endangering the lives of commuters.

If remedial steps are not taken immediately, the soil mining near the railway track may threaten the Nangal-Ropar railway track.

The kiln owners take land on lease and extract top soil for making bricks. Though the extraction of top soil may be profitable for the land owners for a session or two, it threatens the fertility of the adjoining land. Due to deep pits caused by illegal mining, top soil of the adjoining areas was also getting eroded.

As per the norms laid down by the Punjab Pollution Control Board, the brick-kiln owners cannot use agricultural land for mining soil. They can do so only from the barren areas.

The kiln owners were also violating the fuel norms laid down by the pollution control board. After a directive of the High Court, pollution-control devices were installed in all kilns and the height of their chimneys was increased. However, these devices were reportedly used rarely to save on power cost. Besides, low-grade coal and wood were being used in most kilns in violation of the norms, causing pollution.


Records show place as temple
Tribune News Service

Ghumiara (Jalandhar), July 26
There is no tension in this village due to status of a religious place. Revenue records show that the place was a five-decade old temple and not a gurdwara as was being claimed by some Sikh organisations.

A visit to the village revealed that there was no tension in this village having 35 houses due to the religious place called ‘Sati Mata Asthan’. Most of the residents alleged that they had become ‘victims’ of a few people and a bunch of politicians raking up the issue, for vested interests. The place, according to them, was the common village land where people belonging to the Talwar community used to perform religious activities and were worshipping their ancestors for over five decades. They alleged that three or four persons of the village and a few political activists made efforts to show the place as a Gurdwara two or three years back.

The revenue records, according to Mr Gurbachan Lal, Patwari of the village, showed that the five kanal piece of land was uninhabited common land and a temple complex-cum-Sati Mata samadhi stood there since 1959-60, which was never in dispute till three years as far as its religious status was concerned. Apart from five kanals, people of the village donated small pieces of their lands to the temple-cum-samadh, which led the expansion of the complex to 12 kanals. The village has no Hindu family though four or five of 35 houses belong to Dalits.

“I have seen the structure as a temple since my childhood and to my best of knowledge it belonged to ancestors of Talwars. Though none of them belonged to this village, they have been coming to worship their ancestors and have been organising an annual fair, during which they have been taking the “saroop” of Guru Granth Sahib to the temple for ‘Akhand Path’ from a nearby Gurdwara. The practice stopped only when Jathedar Akal Takht issued a general directive that the ‘parkash’ of Guru Granth Sahib would not be held in Marhis and marriage palaces,” said Mr Naranjan Singh, the 60-year-old nambardar of the village, adding that the village was not divided over the issue. He said there was no tension, as almost all houses, except of four-five, belonged to Jat Sikhs.

Mr Pargat Singh, a 56-year-old farmer, said despite the directive of Akal Takht Jathedar, issued on December 7, 2001, that no gurdwara could be constructed on ‘Marhis’ some ‘Nihangs’ put up a ‘Nishan Sahib’ at the place last year and it was not opposed by residents. A letter was written by Mr Amarjit Singh, in charge of the Akal Takht Secretariat, to Panth Akali Dashmesh Tarna Dal (a faction of ‘Nihangs’) on April 17 this year urging that though the Holy Guru Granth Sahib was shifted from the temple and was placed in the gurdwara with the ‘cooperation’ of the Tarna Dal, but the ‘Nishan Sahib’ was not removed. He had also urged the Dal chief to shift the same.

Residents also had a copy of a letter written by the Private Secretary of the Akal Takht Jathedar to the Secretary of the Dharam Parchar Committee of the Shiromani Gurdwara Committee on May 13, 2002. The investigation carried out by the Dharam Parchar Committee which indicated that people who were trying to install Guru Granth Sahib in the ‘Sati Mata Asthan’ were violating the ‘Maryada’. In the entire correspondence, the place has been stated to be a temple and not a gurdwara.

Mr G.S. Khehra, SDM, visited the village along with the DSP (Rural) and interacted with villagers, who assured that though some persons were intending to disturb peace, but, they stood united to defeat their ‘nefarious designs’.

Mr Khehra said the area SHO had been directed to keep vigil on the situation and on activities of those persons who wanted to disturb peace.


Romana cancels meeting
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 26
Mr Mohinder Singh Romana, president of the management committee of Takht Patna Sahib, has cancelled the meeting convened by the general secretary of the body tomorrow at Patna Sahib to review the decision taken by the Sikh clergy of Akal Takht at Amritsar on July 24 restraining Jathedar Iqbal Singh and other priests of Takht Patna Sahib from taking any action against Mr Romana.

Declaring the meeting convened by the general secretary as illegal and unconstitutional, Mr Romana made it clear that the general secretary had no power to call any meeting without consulting the president of the body.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Romana said after the decision of the Sikh clergy of Akal Takht, the highest temporal seat of deciding all types of controversial or other matters, neither the management committee nor the priests of Takht Patna Sahib had any right to review any issue. 


Rs 1600 cr for water, sewerage in 22 cities
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa, Chairman, Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board (PWSSB) said today that Rs 1600 crore would be spent in 22 cities of the state for providing sewerage treatment, water treatment, garbage management and providing drinking water and underground sewerage facilities.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said that entire state had been divided into five circles and he had been meeting presidents and commissioners of all Municipal Councils and Municipal Corporations for getting first hand information of the problems faced by them on account of drinking water and sewerage facilities.

He said that a water treatment plant having capacity of 50 lakh gallons would be completed by October 10 and the sewerage treatment plant would also be completed very soon for this city.

He said that at present 60 per cent population had been covered under potable water supply and 55 per cent population under sewerage facility in this district. Efforts to provide 100 per cent population with facilities of sewerage and water in the area was on and Rs 40 crores was being spent for it.

Mr B S Gill, Managing Director, PWSSB said all pending works would be completed soon.


Commissioner reviews anti-flood measures
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 26
The Commissioner, Ferozepore division, Mr B. Sarkar, along with the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Vikas Pratap, and officials of various departments, yesterday visited forward areas along the Sutlej to take stock of the situation emerging from the rise in the water level of the river. The team visited Ruknewala, Manumachi, Gatta Badshah, Harike, Kamalwala, Mohhamidaiwala, Hussainiwala and other villages where the condition of Dhussi Bundh was fragile.

Officials of the Drainage and Irrigation Department said that though the flood situation as of now was not alarming, keeping in view heavy rains and increasing water level in the Pong and the Bhakhra dams, it was imperative that the bandh should be reinforced.

Mr Sarkar said the administration had sought Rs 337.50 lakh from the government for undertaking flood-protection measures.

Mr Pratap said the administration was closely monitoring the situation and all arrangements had been made. He said SDMs had been asked to remain in touch with the residents of the villages situated in the proximity of the bundh and flood control rooms had been set up at all subdivisional headquarters. He said 34 sites had been identified where relief camps would be established in case of emergency. He said the health authorities had been directed to keep 13 mobile and five other medical teams ready and the Food and Supplies Department had been instructed to keep stock of essential commodities.


Jagmeet’s assurance to rain-hit
Tribune News Service

Kandu Khera (Muktsar), July 26
Even as the stagnating rainwater in nearly 10 villages of the Lambi subdivision has been receding slowly, residents of these villagers, whose crops and houses have been damaged, today urged Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP, Faridkot, to provide compensation. Some of the farmers, whose cotton fields have been completely submerged into water, have started pumping out the water.

Though a section of district officials claimed that water could not be drained out fast as there was no natural flow in almost all affected villages, Mr Brar, who toured affected areas, alleged that the residents had been facing this situation because of the fact that certain drains, which were digged up a few years back, were technically wrong in design.

Residents of this village, bordering Rajasthan, pointed out that their village was situated between the Sirhind canal and the Rajasthan feeder canal and hence they had been facing difficulty to drain out the water.

The heavy rain has also damaged a number of tubewells. Even the floor and sidewalls of a storage tank at Hakuwala village have sunk. Mr Brar assured the villagers that he would take up the matter with the Chief Minister. 


Rain throws life out of gear
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
Water has still been stagnant in most of the low-lying areas of this city. Two hours of heavy rains, which lashed this area today, has thrown life out of gear.

Almost 75 per cent of the inhabited area of this town has come under two to five feet of water and the main Bathinda Goniana road, the powerhouse road and Sirki Bazaar pocket have become inaccessible to people. The movement of vehicles on many roads has come to a halt.

Almost all commercial establishments of Sirki Bazaar, Guru Nanakpura sector, Mall Road, Paras Ram Nagar, the Bathinda Goniana Road, Veer Colony, Amrik Singh Road and some other parts of city were closed following flooding of the area by rain water.

Due to ineffective dewatering, situation in the Sirki Bazaar, Guru Nanak Pura and Mall Road became worse and people were seen busy saving valuables like furniture and other goods, floating in the water.

The rain has also left a major part of this city under knee-deep water and has affected the vehicular movement. Plight of residents of Jogi Nagar, Paras Ram Nagar, Partap Nagar, Janata Nagar, Nai Basti, Ajit Road, Dhibber Colony, Basant Vihar, Balla Ram Nagar, Aggarwal Colony, Birla Mill Colony, Amrik Singh Road, Purana Thana area, Bhatti Road and Ganesha Basti could be judged from the fact that they were finding it difficult to come out of their dwellings as they had placed sand bags in front of their dwellings to stop rain water from entering houses.

The residents of the flooded areas, alleged that authorities concerned had failed to learn any lesson from two days’ heavy rains, which lashed this city on July 16 and July 17, flooded the entire city and temporary drainage system failed to cope with the situation. They added that authorities concerned should have made arrangements for speedy dewatering.

Volunteers of the Dost Welfare Society along with toured the city to help the persons, caught in the middle of roads due to breakdown of vehicles due to heavy rain and flooding of roads.

Heavy rain has proved a blessing in disguise for rickshawpullers as they started charging four times the normal fare from the people for transporting them from one location to another.


100 factory workers retrenched
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 26
Over 100 employees working with Agrochemical Division of Rallis India Limited here, a Mumbai-based industry, have been shown doors by the company management.

Working with the industry for the last over 15 years, the employees were given notices of retrenchment under Section 25 f (b) of the Retrenchment Compensation and Industrial Dispute Act 1947 by the management on July 24. The management displayed the retrenchment notice on the notice board of the factory which resulted in great resentment among the workers.

At least 95 employees were asked to discontinue their services since the company was not in a position to run the Agrochemical Division of the industry in Dera Bassi. The employees were also asked to collect their dues and balance amount from their respective accounts in branches of different banks located in Dera Bassi and Lalru.

Protesting against the company decision, the retrenched employees held an emergency meeting on the first day and started an indefinite agitation.

Associated with the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangathan, the Rallis India unit, and the Rallis India Worker’s Union, here, the agitators started a dharna outside the main gate of the industry on July 24.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, president of the industry’s unit of the Bharatiya Mazdoor Sangathan, alleged that the management had stopped production two days before displaying the notice.

Moreover, the company did not gave them prior notices. In addition to this the company, without informing the employees, deposited the due amount in their respective accounts in different bank branches.

The agitators claimed that workers were given bonus of Rs 7000 each and Rs 40,000 to Rs 1 lakh were given to employees of the managerial rank after the company earned huge profit last year. After earning huge profit from this unit, in an year, how can a company sack its employees in the next year?” they asked.

They alleged that the company management was victimising the employees and closing the unit despite earning huge profit. They demanded that the unit be restart.

A meeting of employee leaders and company management, including Mr Rajesh Dahiya, head of the HRD and Mr A.K. Gupta, Deputy General Manager, was held within factory premises this afternoon but no solution could be found.

Sources also revealed that the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Rajpura, also met company management to solve the issue this morning.

Meanwhile, Mr Gupta said the notices were served on the employees at their residential addresses as well as to their respective departments. He made it clear that under the the Retrenchment Compensation and Industrial Dispute Act 1947, the employees were not supposed to inform prior to displaying the notice.

He said the company had taken the step after facing heavy losses last year and it was not economical to run the unit longer. He said the company had made every effort to ensure that the suspension of employees be minimised.



Student falls from bus, traffic blocked
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, July 26
Irate students of the local Guru Nanak College today went on a lightning strike and blocked traffic on the Mehli-Mehtan bypass in protest against not picking up of students with roadways passes by bus drivers and serious injuries to a student who had fallen from a moving bus after the driver drove away in a hurry.

The student, Sukhdip Singh of B.A. I, had to be rushed to the DMC, Ludhiana, as the lower portion of his body was smashed under the tyres of the roadways bus outside the Banga road octroi post yesterday afternoon. The traffic blockade was lifted on the assurance of a senior police official to the students that the driver would be arrested and the bus impounded. He also assured them to solve the problem of not picking up of students with passes by the bus drivers.

A B.A. I student, Mandip Kumar, told the SP that he was dropped at Mehli today, 3 km away from the college. Eyewitnesses told the police, that two or three students had got into a bus yesterday as it had to slow down due to vehicles parked along the road for octroi. However, when Sukhdip Singh of Mahlan village was about to get into the bus, the driver picked up speed and the student fell down. Other students got busy in transporting Sukhdip Singh to a private hospital here. 


Tributes paid to martyrs on Kargil Divas

Jalandhar, July 26
Rich tributes were paid to martyrs on Kargil Divas observed by the district Sainik Welfare Office here today.

Like previous years, the function was organised at the Punjab State War Memorial here. Families of about 15 martyrs of Kargil and other recent operations came to attend the function. Wreaths were laid at the memorial by Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, Brig J.S. Jaswal, Director, Sainik Welfare, Punjab, Brig D.S. Ahluwalia, Vice-President, Zila Sainik Board, and Major Kartar Singh, father of the late Major Kamal Gulzar Singh, a martyr of Kargil operation. — UNI


Hospital to retain deputed staff
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 26
The Special Secretary in the Health and Finance Ministry has issued special instructions to retain the staff of the Civil Hospital here, built in memory of the Jallianwal Bagh martyrs. The orders issued here today directed the deputed staff, including doctors and paramedical staff, to continue in their capacities in the Civil Hospital.

The earlier decision by the Department of Health and Family Welfare to recall the deputed staff was done on the instructions of the Finance Department to streamline the health services. The decision would have meant the closure of the government hospital, which was meant for the poor. Reports of the hospital falling into private hands were also received, which led to agitations. An all-party meeting had decided to oppose the move for the closure or privatisation of the hospital tooth and nail.

The hospital, built at a cost of Rs 15 crore by the Health Systems Corporation, was funded from a World Bank loan. The orders today meant that the earlier orders may be held in abeyance.


DGP’s directive on arresting docs
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 26
In a circular to all district police chiefs, DIGs and IGs (zonal), the DGP, Mr M.S. Bhullar, has directed that respective deputy commissioners and chief medical officers should be taken into confidence before arresting any doctor in the state.

The circular has been issued following a representation by the Indian Medical Association (IMA), which said that criminal cases were being registered against doctors for their alleged negligence in treating patients.

It may be mentioned here that many doctors of Amritsar were arrested in connection with the multi-crore kidney scam.


PRTC chief’s warning to shopkeepers
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 26
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation Chairman, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, today conducted a surprise check on the local bus stand and warned the shopkeepers to sell eatables and soft drinks at fixed rates only.

He directed the General Manager concerned to ensure that eatables and other commodities were available to the public at reasonable rates besides ensuring the proper upkeep and maintenance of the bus stand. The Additional Managing Director, Mr M.S. Narang, who accompanied the Chairman noted down the problems being faced by the people.

Mr Gupta said that he had instructed the inspecting staff to take note of the cleanliness, water supply facilities and behaviour of the staff with the passengers.



Validity period of arhtiyas’ licence to be increased
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
The Punjab Mandi Board has decided to extend the validity period of licence of commission agents to 10-years from the present three years and has sent a case in this regard to the Financial Commissioner, Development.

Stating this here today at a function organised at the local grain market here, board Chairman Sant Ram Singla said a decision in this regard had been taken following a representation received from commission agents. He also asked the commission agents and traders not to resort to bribing of board officials, saying traders must also learn to get their work done without paying any bribe.

Mr Singla also announced that a new grain market would be constructed at Ghagga. He said the market would be set up in an area of 30 acres at a cost of Rs 2.50 crore and would be constructed in a period of six months.

He said roads under the board had not been repaired under the Akali-BJP regime because the government had distributed Rs 60 crore taken from the board in Sangat Darshan programmes. He said the board had now decided to spend Rs 40 crore on repair of rural roads by April next year. He said Rs 25 crore would be spent on the development of new grain markets.


PSEB employees awarded certificates
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
Twentyfive employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), West Zone, were awarded certificates of appreciation for maintaining continuity in power supply at a function here today.

In a press note issued here by the PSEB, it was mentioned that awards were also given to employees for best maintained sub station, best maintained feeder and maximum tree plantation. The function was attended by a large number of officials and workers from Bathinda, Muktsar, Faridkot and Ferozepore Circles. Mr G.C. Goyal, Chief Engineer (Distribution), presided over the function.


Shops raided
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 26
Health Department team headed by Dr Kawaljit Singh, Civil Surgeon, today raided chemists at Valtoha, Gharinda and Kot Mit Singh. The team sealed Khalsa Medical Store in Ghariala for not possessing a licence and selling physician samples.

Sandhu Medical Store and Preet Medical Store at Valtoha possessed licences but owners of the licence pharmacist was not located for verification. The store were challaned and sealed.

A number of habit-forming and injections and capsules were seized from Ravi Medical Store located at Kot Mit Singh. The seizure included 150 injections of fortvin, 55 of avil, and 20 injections of calmpose besides 1500 capsules of proxyvon, spasmoproxyvon and others.


Photo exhibition on dance forms

Patiala, July 26
The dances of India came alive at a photo exhibiton organised by lensman Rajesh Arora at the Bansar Art Gallery here today. The exhibition which depicts around 36 photographs of various dance forms has been organised in collaboration with the North Zone Cultural Centre.

The exhibition was inaugurated by Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal as Finance Minister Lal Singh could not make it. NZCC Director R.T. Jindal was present. oc 


Granthi’s son murdered

Hoshiarpur, July 26
Lakhwinder Singh, son of a granthi of Gurdwara Sant Baba Prem Singh of Bhusha village died on the spot when some miscreants hit him on the head with a wooden block while he was sleeping in the shrine complex last night, the police said today.

According to police sources, after killing him, the assailants broke open the gulak (cash box) and almirah of the gurdwara and searched them. After making search they threw the articles in and around the complex. They took the scooter of the granthi and fled away. The murder was noticed in the morning when devotees came to the gurdwara.

On Upinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP (D), who went to the site today and made investigations, said the management had taken the cash from the gulak on July 15. — PTI


Austrian firm booked for fraud
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 26
An Austrian firm and its agents have been booked under Section 420 by the local police on the complaint filed by a Commandant of a Punjab Armed Police (PAP) battalion alleging that the company had supplied it poor quality sniper rifles of different make than that ordered. PAP 36 Battalion Commandant Inderjit Singh Randhawa has got a case registered against Austrian firm GM BH and Company and its two agents in India complaining that the company had committee fraud by not supplying the rifles for which orders had been given to it.

According to the FIR, the PAP had given an order for supply of 42 sniper rifles of P2 grade to the Austrian company after quotations had been invited from several companies. The company was paid Rs 50 lakh for the rifles.

The FIR said when the package was opened and rifles inspected closely it was revealed that they were of P1 make whose ammunition was not available in India. Subsequently PAP informed that the rifles could not be exchanged by the company.



Flesh trade gang busted
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 26
The police has busted a gang allegedly involved in flesh trade in the cantonment area here and registered a case against two persons under the Immoral Trafficking Act.

According to police sources, Satnam Kaur, alias Madhu wife of Ajit Singh, a resident of Street No. 3 here, was allegedly running flesh trade in the cantonment area and Rajesh Kumar, alias, Bobby, son of Dharampal, a resident of Makhu Gate, was the middleman in the trade. The police has arrested two girls belonging to Muktsar and Jalandhar along with a customer named Sanjeev Kumar, son of Darshan Lal, a resident of BTW, City, in this connection.

The SHO said that the girls would be taken to the Civil Hospital for medical examination tomorrow. Interestingly, the mobile phone, seized from Madhu, started ringing in the police station. The police attended to the call made by a person, who introduced himself as Harry from Patiala and talked about his intention to fix time to meet her. The police had laid a trap to nab the person.


Man held for killing wife
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 26
The Nangal police has booked and arrested Jaswinder Singh, of Shiv Singh Bela village allegedly for killing his wife Nirmal Kaur. Jaswinder Singh was booked on the complaint of Harbans Lal, maternal uncle of Nirmal Kaur. He alleged that Nirmal Kaur came to him after being threatened with life by her husband and in laws. When her kin approached her in-laws they refused to keep her. Her husband threatened her in the presence of relatives.

The matter was resolved with the intervention of village elders. However just after Nirmal Kaur was left for the house of her in-laws on July 25, her maternal uncle received a message that she was ill and needed hospitalisation. When the kin of Nirmal Kaur went to enquire after her in morning they were informed that she had died. The police has booked the husband under Section 306 of the IPC.


Astrologer vanishes with jewellery

Moga, July 26
The police has launched a vigorous hunt to arrest an astrologer who allegedly duped a housewife of gold ornaments worth Rs 2 lakh before fleeing the town.

Police sources today said the so-called astrologer, identified as Radhey Shyam, had set up an astrology centre in the town about a month ago. He had duped people in other towns of Punjab as well.

Manju Bala lodged a complaint with the police that she used to visit the astrologer seeking solutions for her domestic problems. Last Thursday, she had taken her jewellery, weighing about 500 gm to the astrologer for purification and putting an end to her domestic problems. She had also paid him Rs 3,100 as service charges.

When she went to the astrologer the next day to collect her jewellery, she was shocked to find that the astrologer was missing, having abandoned the centre.

The police has registered a case and launched a hunt for the astrologer. — UNI


Two killed in mishaps

Bathinda, July 26
Two persons, including a woman, were killed in two accidents which took place in the city and its surroundings areas in the past 24 hours.

Police sources said Sukhdev Singh, a resident of the Harzirattan area of this city, was killed when his scooter was hit by a truck near the Civil Hospital, here last night. Amro Kaur, a resident of sarai Naga village of Muktsar district, was killed in a bus-jeep collision near Naruana village on the Bathinda-Dabwali road this afternoon, she was travelling in the jeep. — TNS


One held for theft
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 26
Makhan Singh, a member of an inter-state gang involved in a number of crimes in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, was arrested by the police today.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said that on a tip-off, a naka was laid near Behman Diwana village to arrest the gang members. Makhan Singh, who was coming on motor cycle, was arrested by the police. A gun, along with 25 cartridges, were recovered from his possession.

During interrogation, the accused confessed that his gang was involved in the theft of a gun from a bank at Singo village of the district, theft of two computers from a bank at Tharajwala village in Haryana, theft of cash, jewellery and television in Sirianwala Mohalla here and theft of car and a motor cycle from Sriganganagar town of Rajasthan.


College dept chosen for cardiac research
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 26
The Department of Cardiology of Government Medical College here has been selected by the International Creative Study to research on heart attacks and heart failures. The Professor and Head of the Department of Cardiology, Dr Adarsh Kumar, yesterday said that the Canada-based research centre, in a protocol signed here, has decided to provide medicines to patients suffering from acute myocardial infarction cases free of cost.

Dr Kumar said that a multinational drug company based at Sweden had also provided latest medicines to help patients recover from heart attacks. He said that although the duration for the treatment of such patients would be 12 weeks, the entire treatment would be free of cost. He said that this regime would be helpful in improving the quality of life and reducing mortality rate to a considerable extent.

Dr Adarsh Kumar, who recently attended the third World Congress on Heart Diseases at Washington, said that the invasive procedure to take care of blockade of arteries had become outmoded as new drugs and treatments had been introduced for tackling serious heart diseases without bypass operations and angioplasty.


Medical college MS found absent
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 26
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot expressed great concern over poor medical facilities and sanitation in the Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital here. The Deputy Commissioner along with Dr J.S. Dalal acting principal of the institution visited the hospital yesterday also took serious view of the absence of Dr Subash Chander Agnihotri, Medical Superintendent of the institution from duty. Criticising most of the doctors for failing to perform their duties the Deputy Commissioner expressed anguish over the dumping of waste in the open.

The Deputy Commissioner said that he had received numerous complaints against many doctors for sending various types of tests to private laboratories. He directed the principal to take strict action against the erring experts and disciplinary action against the Medical Superintendent.

He assured to give free medicines from the District Red Cross Society. Dr Dalal said that he had already called the explanation of the Medical Superintendent.


Police, students clash
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, July 26
A clash took place between the local police and students of Government College here today when the police banned the entry of seven student leaders into the college. The student leaders, who had been arrested by the police on a complaint by the college authorities, were released today. When members of the Punjab Students Union wanted to go inside the college in a rally, the police stopped them.

The students, in an aggressive mood, held a rally on the college campus. Mr Gurmukh Singh Mann, state leader of the Punjab Students, Union, while addressing the rally said if admissions were not given to the student leaders on merit, then a statewide agitation would be launched against the college administration. He said the police stopped the students from entering into the college on the pretext that they were outsiders but these students wanted to take admission to the college and the police had no powers to stop students from entering into the college. The students demanded strict action against the police party which stopped the student leaders, from entering the college.


Hostel cries for repairs
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, July 26
Although two months have elapsed since a fire gutted a room and engulfed part of the corridor of the senior boys hostel of Government Medical College here, no attempt has been made to set things right. The fire, which broke out on May 17 due to short circuit, had completely destroyed a room in the hostel. Even after two months one can see some burnt books, ashes instead of any furniture and a completely broken door in the room. The short-circuiting in hostels is one of the many problems being faced by the hostelers. The students said the electric wires in the hostel were very old and that short circuits and sparks usually occurred. The students added that most of them had installed air coolers in their rooms which further put load on the system. They said despite complaints the matter had not been looked into due to the apparent paucity of funds.

The lack of funds is also a big factor responsible for the pathetic condition of the senior boys hostel which has 280 rooms. The building, was constructed more than 50 years ago. Gurdas, an intern, said he had been staying in the hostel for nearly past five years and yet he had not seen it being whitewashed even once. A visit to the hostel revealed that even the basic infrastructure needs repair. While cobwebs are all around, the large windows on the facade of the building do not have windowpanes. Bathrooms do not have doors. In some places, sinks are missing, in others flushes do not work. Taps leak in most of the bathrooms. Students added that there was no facilities of sports and reading material like newspapers and magazines in the hostel as there was no attendant for the common room. A canteen of a new wing was situated in the open which was against all norms.

The vice-president of the Medical Students Association, Dr Puneet, said two months back Health Secretary Swarn Singh visited the hostel and assured that Rs 40 lakh would be given for renovation and rewiring work in the hostel but till date nothing had been done. Students disclosed that they had to fend for themselves if they wanted to maintain their rooms. Dinesh, another hosteler, said in many cases students had to get fans in their rooms repaired by themselves as well as fit hinges. They said in some rooms the plaster had peeled off. Dinesh said the Hostel Welfare Committee had been formed recently but it could do little as it had no fund.



Students hold rally

Hoshiarpur, July 26
Members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad organised a rally here today to celebrate their making the government withdraw hike in fee, funds and other charges.

Addressing the rally Mr Manu Sharma, President and Mr Varun Sharma, Joint Secretary of the district unit of Parishad said that on account of hike in fee and other funds, many of the students could not get admission due to financial reason. They demanded withdrawal of cases registered against some of the student leaders during the agitation and extend the date of admission without late fee to enable students to take admission. — OC

Candidates allege harassment
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 26
Certain candidates, who had come from farflung areas to appear in interview for the post of lecturers in Electronics faculty in the Sri Sukhmani Institute of Engineering and Technology alleged harassment by the institute management, here today.

Accompanied by their parents, the candidates alleged that the college management had interviewed them for the post of lecturers in electronics in the morning but cancelled the interview saying that a fresh interview would be conducted in the afternoon.

They further alleged that candidates for the post of lecturers in departments like electrical, mechanical, computer and applied sciences were reinterviewed but in case of electronics Department the selection panel interviewed only six candidates.

However Mr I M Soni, college Principal, denied the allegations.

He said the candidates who were shortlisted by a competent selection panel were called for the final interview. 


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