Monday, July 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Akali unity no threat to Cong, asserts CM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 27
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today admitted that despite the arrest of a number of former Akali ministers and unearthing of the multicrore kidney scam, corruption at the grass-roots level still existed. However, he said the drive against corruption would continue till it was eradicated.

While talking to the press here today, Capt Amarinder Singh dubbed the Mr Parkash Singh Badal’s family as the most corrupt in the state. Capt Amarinder Singh said that they would have to pay for amassing huge properties in India and abroad. He, however, said Mr Badal could not be arrested due to the lengthy and cumbersome legal process.

He said the unity between Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra was no threat to the state government, predicting that the Congress would sweep the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Regarding the naming of certain officers by Mr Badal in his letter to the MPs, he said the officers were implementing his directives and performing their duties.

Replying to a question, Capt Amarinder Singh said his government won’t withdraw its decision on the NPA to doctors. He, however, said the state government would sympathetically review certain categories, like the X-ray sections who deserved the NPA.

He said a World Bank team would visit the state before extending a loan of Rs 8,000 crore for constructing highways and bridges.

The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, had agreed to treat border areas of Punjab as a ‘special case’ for releasing grants for the overall development of the area, he said.


Govt committed to providing quality health
services: CM
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 27
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that the government and the private sector should pool their resources for giving quality health and medical services to people. He made these remarks after inaugurating Fortis multi-speciality hospital here today. The Chief Minister said the government would encourage joint ventures with private entrepreneurs for the running and maintenance of 157 secondary health care centres which were recently upgraded at the cost of Rs 470 crore with the help of the World Bank.

Commenting on poor state of health care in Punjab, Capt. Amarinder Singh said more than 5,000 primary health centre in the rural areas lacked infrastructure and there was a shortage of doctors and paramedical staff. He said people in the rural areas and underprivileged were the biggest sufferers since the state could not reach out to them.

The Chief Minister announced that HIV/AIDS related drugs had been exempted from taxes. He said the government was committed to launching a big campaign to prevent the occurrence of AIDS in the state. He said at present according to government records there were only 3563 HIV positive and 273 of full-blown AIDS cases in the state.

Commenting on the pressure tactics adopted by government doctors to counter the government’s move to withdraw non-practising allowance, the Chief Minister said he would not relent under pressure. He added that the state was facing resource crunch and alleged that most of the doctors were engaged in private practice despite the ban. He warned doctors posted in the rural areas of disciplinary action in view of their large scale absenteeism.

The Chief Minister favoured a 10 year tax holiday package for industries in the three border districts of the state and said the Prime Minister had assured a package similar to the one offered to J&K, Uttaranchal and Himachal Pradesh. Later, Ms Parneet Kaur, MP, and wife of the Chief Minister lauded the efforts of the Fortis group for setting up international standard medical centre at Amritsar. Earlier, the Chairman of the Fortis group of hospitals, Mr Harpal Singh, explained the concept of bringing best healthcare facilities to the people of the region.


Amarinder selling state’s interests, says Badal
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 27
In an apparent show of strength, the SAD organised a public rally at Gurdwara Jamni Sahib, Vajidpur, 10 km from the district headquarters, in protest against the political vendetta unleashed against the Akalis by the Congress regime in the state. Akali Dal supremo Parkash Singh Badal, along with other Akali stalwarts like Gurdass Badal, Zora Singh Mann, Janmeja Singh Sekhon besides hundreds of Akali leaders participated in the rally.

Talking to the mediapersons Mr Badal said the response of the public to the protest rally was an indication that it was fed up with the policies of Amarinder Singh-led government in the state, which had failed on all fronts.

About the anti-corruption drive initiated by Capt Amarinder Singh in the state, Mr Badal said the Congress government was indulging in witch hunting to settle scores with him and other Akali leaders. Mr Badal said of all development works initiated by the Akali-BJP regime, the most remarkable one was the establishment of Rs 16000-crore refinery plant at Bathinda which was brought here after great effort. He said Capt Amarinder Singh was dancing to the tunes of his political masters in New Delhi and selling the interest of Punjabis.

Mr Badal said Punjab Traders Limited the flagship company of the Punjab Government, which was a profit-making company earning not less than Rs 150-200 crore annually, was allegedly being sold into private hands by the Congress government.

Mr Zora Singh Mann MP, Mr Baldev Singh Bhunder, Mr Janmeja Singh Sekhon, Mr Sher Singh, Mr Parmjit Singh, All ex MLAs, Mr Hari Singh Zira, MLA, members of the SGPC and other prominent leaders addressed the gathering.


What is expected of Tohra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
Mr G.S. Tohra is back as the SGPC President, courtesy Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The coming together of these two aging leaders once again was borne more out of mutual political exigencies than Panthic concerns.

Political observers say that the election of Mr Tohra has come at a time when the Sikhs and the Sikh Panth face a series of crises, some of these perceived and the rest a creation of the politico-religious leadership itself, which is yet to address itself to the problems of growing apostasy, academic assaults on Sikh ideology, distortions in Sikh history, intrusion of missionaries into the rural Sikh masses, whether to allow women perform “sewa and kirtan” at the Golden Temple, menace of drugs and alcoholism in the Sikh youth etc.

Much has changed since Mr Tohra was shown the door by Mr Badal in March, 1999. Yet nothing has changed. An unsavoury debate continues over issues and non-issues that still divide the Sikhs. Even Mr Tohra had ducked and tucked away these issues during his long stint of 25 years, as the SGPC President. These remain unresolved even today, may it be the place of the ‘Dasam Granth’, enacting the All-India Sikh Gurdwara Act, “rehat maryada”, voting rights to “Sehajdhari” Sikhs, seating arrangements in the ‘langar’, appointment and removal of the Sikh High priests (Jathedars of Takhts) etc.

A Sikh scholar at the Chandigarh-based Institute of Sikh Studies, Dr Kharak Singh, said the least the Sikh Panth expected from the Akali leadership today was to set long-term and short-term goals and objectives for the “quam”, evolve a mechanism within the SGPC to face a crisis situation and sending one, clear signal across the world to the Sikh diaspora, draw a roadmap for propagation of the Sikh religion which has a universal appeal and relevance and save the Sikh Panth from schismatic sects, deras and babas and sants.

The SGPC had mooted the idea of an advisory council quite sometimes back when the World Sikh Conference was held in Amritsar under which separate wings were to be established to deal with political, religious, social, economic, educational aspirations of the Sikhs. The institution of Akal Takht was to be strengthened.

The Institute of Sikh Studies, however, is of view that all this can happen only if the SGPC is made “apolitical” and elections to its general house are not held along political lines. However, the way both the general and presidential elections have been conducted in the past reflects poorly on the Akali leadership.

Mr Tohra, therefore, will do great service to the Panth if he were to launch an operation clean-up so that leaders — solely into Akali politics because of their lust for political power on the strength of their money and muscle power or other vested ambitions — get to the sideline.

The Akali leaders often give twist to their personal problems to make them appear as if the Panth is in peril. They have perfected the art of playing with the sentiments of the vulnerable Sikhs. None of the emotive demands or issues raised by the Akalis since 1966 — sharing of the river waters or SYL or control of water headworks or getting Chandigarh or Punjabi speaking territories etc. has been accomplished despite Punjab having been pushed into the vortex of militancy because of competitive politics of the Akali and Congress leadership. Thus, Mr Tohra has a huge backlog to clear and also set objectives for the Panth.


IOC fined Rs 12.5 lakh
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 27
In a major move to curb theft of power, the operational wing to the PSEB (North Zone) conducted a fortnight-long inspection of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC) terminal at Such Pind and imposed a penalty of about Rs 12.5 lakh for consuming 4100 KW as against the sanctioned load of 3500 KW.

The IOC would also have to pay an additional amount of about Rs 45 lakh for the regularisation of 600 KW load, which it was at present consuming without, mandatory approval from the PSEB authorities.

Mr H.M. Jain, Chief Engineer (North), while talking to reporters here today, revealed that a group of 25 PSEB officials of the operational wing took 15 days to examine the connected load at the IOC complex.

“It is found during the checking that the IOC authorities had also installed an additional 1,000 KVA distribution transformer without informing the board even as we have issued two separate to them to deposit about Rs 12.5 lakh as penalty for consuming additional 600 KW,” he said, adding that IOC would have to deposit an additional sum of Rs 45 lakh for the regularisation of illegally connected additional load.

“We have asked them to immediately remove 600 KW load and submit a fresh test to us,” he said, adding that the PSEB would not spare any individual or establishment for violating the prescribed norms.


Powercom can replace PSEB, says engineers
Our Correspondent

Ropar, July 27
The PSEB Engineers Association has proposed a model to the Punjab Government that could save the integrated structure of the board while carrying out reforms provided within the paradigms provided by the Electricity Bill 2003.

In a press release issued here yesterday the general secretary of the association, Mr HS Bedi, alleged that power reforms as proposed by the Haldea Committee had already failed in other states. If the Punjab Government unbundled the board on the pattern of other states it would end them in a back hole that would not only lead to mismanagement but also heavy power tariff burden would be passed on the customers.

Instead if the PSEB was transformed into a loosely integrated organisation on the pattern of SAIL or Coal India Ltd., with three functionally autonomous generation, transmission and distribution entities overseen by a holding company, it could increase the efficiency on the board. The holding company could be named as Powercom the engineers association proposed. A Managing Director who would necessarily be a power engineer with not less than 30 years experience would head each of the three operational entities. The operation entities besides the MD would have three Directors specialising finance, engineering and HRD.

The three MDs of the operational entities would be technical members on the board of the holding company headed by the Chairman. Besides the technical members the holding company would have a member finance and member HRD who should be leading professional in their field. The holding company would look after the integrated planning, commercial system operation (including dealing with load despatch centre and power purchases) and the tariff revision petitions to the state regulatory commission.

All engineers and employees of the holding company would have common service conditions. They would serve on transfer to the three entities. The service conditions and perks of the employees would not be altered.

The PSEB Engineers Association has submitted the above said proposal to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh for consideration, Mr Bedi said.

Power board extends VDS
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has extended the Voluntary Disclosure Scheme (VDS) for the regularisation of higher capacity motors installed by farmers in the state for the third time.

The scheme had been extended till August 15. Farmers wishing to get their load regularised will have to pay Rs 4,000 per BHP. No load surcharge or penalty will be recovered from farmers who avail themselves of the scheme. This is the last opportunity being given to farmers to regularise their loads.


Bid to solve Arizona hate crime intensifies
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
More than three months after Mr Avtar Singh Cheira, an NRI from the Doaba region of Punjab, fell victim to hate crime in Arizona (USA), top officials at the Sikh Council On Religion & Education (SCORE) have joined a coalition of human and civil rights organisations, law-enforcement agencies and private citizens to locate and convict those involved in his attempted assassination.

According to Dr Rajwant Singh, National Chairman of SCORE, the US Attorney’s Office, the Governor of Arizona, the Phoenix Police Department and the Sikh community has announced a $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of those responsible for the attack on Avtar Singh Cheira.

SCORE has contributed $5,000 this week to the growing reward fund leading to the capture and conviction of the perpetrators of the hate crime, said Dr Rajwant Singh.

Talking to The Tribune over the telephone, Dr Rajwant Singh said SCORE had joined the coalition to send a resounding message that “we will not be fragmented by hate and that we will continue to affirm our freedom to observe our religion and way of life as all Americans are entitled to do”.

Mr Avtar Singh (52), a truck driver, who was on his way home when two motorists pulled alongside him in a pick-up truck. He was shot and told to “go back where you come from,” by the assailants before they sped away. Mr Avtar Singh survived the assassination bid.

The attack is being considered a hate crime by the local and federal authorities and a number of groups, political leaders and concerned individuals have been drawn to the case.

“We are pleased that so many have joined together to bring this issue to justice,” says Dr Rajwant Singh. The Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano and Anti-Defamation League Regional Director Bill Straus have been central figures in this effort,” says SCORE National Community Director Sher Singh.

Founded in 1998, SCORE’s mission is to present the Sikh perspective in public forums, interfaith discussions and to promote community understanding and a just society for all. Based in Washington, D.C., it has represented Sikhs on many national and international platforms.

“Two days after Avtar Singh was shot, Senator Durban detailed the incident to the United States Senate and a hate crime resolution was passed by the Senate, condemning hate crimes against Muslims, Arabs, East Indians and Sikhs,” says Dr Rajwant Singh.


Doctors seek restoration of non-practising allowance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
While the Punjab Government has issued instructions allowing government doctors’ private practice, various associations of doctors have decided to resort to agitation to press the government for the restoration of the non-practising allowance (NPA).

Informed sources said the Finance Secretary, Mr K.R Lakhanpal, had sent a circular to all concerned stating that the payment of the non-practising allowance and all consequential benefits attached therein stood withdrawn with effect from August 1, 2003, and that the fee earned by PCMS doctors from private practice would be shared in the ratio of 2:1 with the state government. The teachers working in medical and dental colleges had also been allowed private practice.

Meanwhile, the PCMS Association, Punjab, has decided to hold public protest rallies from Monday onwards to oppose the decision of the government forcing private practice on doctors by withdrawing the NPA and for leasing out government hospitals in private hands.

In a joint statement issued here, Dr M.S Randhawa, Dr D.S Gill and Dr Manjit Singh, patron, president and general secretary of the association, respectively, have appealed to the leaders of all political parties, both the Opposition as well as the ruling, to come out publicly against the move, which is against public interest.

The representatives of the association maintained that health and education were public welfare service departments and not revenue earning departments. Therefore, the expenditure incurred to provide health and education was not a wasteful expenditure as projected by the outgoing Chief Secretary in terms of inflated figures of financial burden on the state exchequer.


Hanspal plays mediator between CM, Hamdard
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 27
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today visited the residence of Mr Barjinder Singh Hamdard, Editor, Ajit, to bury the hatchet.

According to sources in the Congress, the Chief Minister, along with the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, remained closeted with Mr Hamdard for about one-and-a-half hour. Even the district administration was not aware about their visit.

Interestingly, the Chief Minister visited Mr Hamdard’s residence in a private vehicle and none of the senior Congress leaders and ministers hailing from the district were aware of his visit. Capt Amarinder Singh, who reached the city around 3 pm, went straight to Mr Hamdard’s residence and tried to clear ‘misunderstandings’ with him.

The sources maintained that Mr Hanspal played a crucial role in bringing them closer.


23 youths await Bhagat Singh award
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Punjab Government Instituted the Shaheed-e-Ajam Bhagat Singh State Youth Award in 1985-86 with much fanfare. It is given to outstanding youth with excellent record in social service and extracurricular activities. Among its recipient are eminent folk singer Surjit Singh Bindrikhiya, eminent comedian Bal Mukand Sharma and Mr Jaswinder Bhalla, besides several others who have made a mark in one sphere or the other.

For the first few years, a function was held every year to present the award. An awardee gets one medal, a roll of honour and a citation along with Rs 5,000 in cash. But for the past one decade, the government seems to have lost interest in the award as well as in the youth. The last function to give the award was held in Sangrur in 1998-99, when the backlog of awards up to 1994-95 was cleared.

But after that 23 youths have been selected for the award from 1995-96 to 1997-98. They have been intimated about their selection. Medals were ready. Their rolls of honour and citations were also ready. But these were lying in the closets of the Youth Department.

Sources said for want of just Rs 1.15 lakh, which had not been not released by the Punjab Government for the past four years, the awards could not be given to the winners. Almost all youth-related activities have come to a standstill in the Punjab Youth Department for the past several years because of the “callous” attitude of the respective state governments. Earlier, about 12 youth leadership camps used to be held every year in hill areas, besides adventure-cum-hiking and trekking camps and national integration camps.

Youths were trained to build opinion in rural areas against social evils especially against the use of drugs. But all that has come to an end. Now a few camps are held by the Youth Department with the grant provided by the Union Government. No national integration camp has been held in Punjab in the past five years.


Rich Dalits’ desire for equality led to clash, says report
Varinder Walia and Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, July 27
The Talhan caste-clash, which brought to fore the ugly face of caste divisions in the Doaba belt, have its roots in the fight for inclusion of a section of Dalits who have attained economic prosperity but have not been accepted and included in formal, informal, public and private spheres of the village. This move has been opposed by dominant Jat caste.

All 11-page comprehensive account of the “factors” that endangered the secular fabric of the state had been exclusively researched and analysed by a sociologist, Mr Paramjit Singh Judge.

The findings detailed the ground realities of assertion by an economically uplifted lower caste of Dalits against Jats, the significance of the shrine which was a samadh-cum-gurdwara of Baba Nihal Singh, that led to the clash, the role of political parties and the presence of ‘Damdami Taksal’ associated with hardliner Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale during the clash.

The report revealed that simmering discontent among Dalits who constituted, 77.13 per cent of the population as compared to 17.08 per cent of Jats, started with declining dependence of Dalits on Jat landowners as the former’s kin emigrated abroad which brought economic prosperity to them. However, despite having posh houses with modern facilities owned by many Dalits, many still depended on the shrine for employment and had prospered due to improvements brought by the shrine management from the income collected.

The panchayat politics and huge annual collection of Rs 6 crore from the shrine controlled by the Jats were the twin factors leading to the clash. Even after having an overwhelming population of Dalits the sarpanch of Talhan was from the Jat caste.

According to the report, the immediate and precipitating factor for the conflict was when the management of shrine terminated the services of 39 Dalit women who prepared langar. In the approaching elections to the management of shrine, that followed the termination orders of Dalit women, saw the Dalits announcing to the previous committee of having constituted a new committee.

Several were injured in the clash that followed three days later. This was retaliated in the form of announcement by Jats of a ‘social boycott’ of the Dalits but was retracted soon after realising that the announcement amounted to legal offence. However, an informal bycott of the Dalits continued.

All this time, the report said, the role of Akali Dal (Badal) remained ‘ambivalent’ who neither wanted to annoy Jats who constituted their power base nor Dalits who made up their votebank. The complacence facilitated the entry of the BSP and the BJP to politicise the issue. A Dalit Action Committee formed under patronage of Mr Vijay Sampla, BJP vice-president, staged a protest on May 17, 2003, even as the state Chief Secretary was holding a meeting on failure to book those for committing atrocities on Dalits and responsible for their social boycott.

A month prior to the clash in May, the Jats brought Bhai Mokham Singh of Damdami Taksal. However, the district officials took no notice of this new development.

On the Day of the clash on June 5, 2003, simmering discontent came to a flashpint when Dalit boys passed comments at Jats girls singing devotional songs on stage at a fair organised at the mazar of Sufi Pir Baba Fateh Shah. When Jats tried to stop them, the boys attacked and clash began at 2 pm and continued unabated for six hours.

This claim made by Jats was refuted by Dalits. But actual evidences proved the claim to be right.

The situation worsened when Dalits started pelting stones from a nearby house in care of a Dalit family but owned by a Jat diaspora family. The large number of collected stones at this site pointed towards an intent planning or anticipation, observed report. Immediately after violence broke out in Talhan, disturbances followed in Buta Mandi with a sizeable population of Dalits in Jalandhar city, 20 km from Talhan, also setting a bus on fire. After one killing and 12 injured the violence spread to Phagwara and curfew was clamped in Talhan and Buta Mandi.

Significantly “during curfew another drama was played in Talhan” said the report. Damdami Taksal activists managed to enter the shrine and the shrine management announced the handing over of shrine to the taksal. Only then some state-level Sikh leaders and some officers diffused the situation and Taksal activists came out of shrine. All this happened during the curfew orders.

“It seems that the ominous presence of taksal gave the necessary thrust to resolve the conflict,” observed the report.

In conclusion the writer said the shrine was a part of composite religions that had remained the dominant feature of folk religion in the state. While one part of it was a Muslim ‘mazar’ other part was according to pre Sikh traditions. But the moot factor for clash was the struggle and assertion for inclusion by economically prosperous Dalits which could end differences prevailing in consciousness and practice among both the castes.


Two kids killed in roof collapse
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 27
Sakshi, an 11-month-old girl and Prem Kumar, a three-year-old boy, were killed and three others injured when the roof of their dwelling in Janata Nagar partially collapsed this morning while they were watching television.

The three injured have been identified as Anjali, Laxmi and Aarti, who all suffered multiple injuries. The injured have been admitted to the local civil hospital. Their condition is stated to be stable.

The roof of a corridor of the building, in which 11 families are putting up, collapsed when it was being fortified with sand due to heavy rains, which have lashed the city. While two persons were putting sand on the roof, it came down, unable to bear the weight. It had no support except an iron rod.

A case in this connection under the Section 304-A of the IPC has been registered against the owner of the building as he failed to carry out repair despite repeated requests by the tenants.

As the roof collapsed people living in the area came out after hearing the noise. They took the children out from under the debris. By the time all injured were shifted to the local civil hospital, two children died.

A few days ago, an old woman residing in a house near the Gobind fort was severely injured when the roof of her house collapsed.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, who along with SSP, Mr Ishwar Singh ,visited the spot, said he had ordered the municipal corporation authorities to survey unsafe buildings in the city and shift the inhabitants to safer places.

He added that all the families, which had been putting up in the collapsed building, would be shifted to a school. The entire structure of the corridor would be pulled down and the building would be made safe before the families were shifted back, he added.

He said he had asked the Red Cross Society to make arrangements for providing free medicines to the injured.

Meanwhile, rain water, which is stagnating in various places in the city, is becoming a major threat to nearby building.


Petitions delay tactics, allege promoted DSPs
Rashmi Talwar and Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, July 27
Deputy Superintendents of Police (DSPs), who were promoted from the Inspector level under ‘promotional cadre’ are sore over the silence of the government on a series of litigations being filed by direct-recruited-cadre DSPs or their kin to “harass” them.

The matter of promotions of these DSPs had been decided by the Punjab and Haryana High Court as well as by the Supreme Court, which had dismissed the petitions on April 26, 2001, and September 3, 2001, respectively. However, top officers continue to file writ petitions, merely as a delay tactics to keep the names of the DSPs in the promotional cadre from being entered in the list for the IPS cadre.

They were given a special relaxation of two years from the required six-year service for DSPs under the promotional cadre by the Governor during the peak of militancy. This resulted in their early promotions as DSPs in January this year.

The Punjab Police Officers Welfare Association, headed by Mr Inderjit Singh Randhawa, alleged that the exercise of filing writ petitions was a delay tactics to harass them.

As many as 150 DSPs and SPs were being adversely affected due to the litigations, which were being filed by kin of senior officers, he added.

Talking to TNS from Patiala, Mr Randhawa alleged that the gazetted list sent for approval to the Punjab Public Service Commission in 1992-93 was deliberately kept pending for five years.

He alleged that the reason for the deliberated delay was the appointment of Mr G.I.S. Bhullar, father of Mr Gurpreet Bhullar (DSP), Mr K.K. Saini, father of Mr Naveen Saini (DSP), and Mr Sher Singh Sidhu, brother of Mr Balkar Singh Sidhu (DSP), as members of the PPSC, who allegedly manipulated the delay, as the government seeks approval from the PPSC after the departmental promotional committee recommendations for the former promotion.

In a communication addressed to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Randhawa alleged that as per PPS Rule 10-A (1) the officers promoted from the rank of Inspector (promotional quota) would be senior from direct appointees and this fact had become a sore point for the latter, who allegedly had influence in the PPSC and among senior police officers.

He alleged that the reason why the state government had not filed a reply in Yurinder Singh’s case filed in 2002 was that this would have had an adverse effect on Mr Harcharan Singh Bhullar (DSP), son of the DGP, Mr M S Bhullar.

Apart from the DGP, Mr Randhawa named Mr Jatinder Aulakh, AIG (Litigation) and Mr Arun Kumar Mittal, AIG (Provisioning), and five others, who had filed writ petitions in the high court relating to issues already dismissed by the Supreme Court.


Roll back sales tax on CSD items: ex-soldiers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 27
A large number of ex-servicemen and war widows, after a meeting here on Tuesday urged those ex-servicemen, who were members of the Welfare Advisory Committees constituted under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to resign from their respective posts in protest against the decision of state government to levy sale tax on items available in the Canteen Service Depot (CSD).

In a press note here on Friday, Brig Bant Singh, said at the meeting held under the aegis of Ex-Servicemen Officers Association, it was decided that ex-servicemen should make a request to Capt Amarinder Singh to withdraw the decision of levying sale tax on CSD items failing which they would be compelled to adopt the path of agitation. He added that meeting was attended by Major-Gen Mohinder Singh and Brig H.S.D. Singh.

He said it was painful that the Chief Minister who himself was an ex-serviceman, had decided to levy sale tax on CSD items despite the fact that he (Capt Amarinder Singh) was well aware of the financial plight of ex-servicemen.


Liquor contractors allege smuggling from HP
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, July 27
Sale of liquor and English wine from shops auctioned by the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department has fallen heavily following smuggling of liquor from shops on the border of Punjab and Himachal in Kangra district.

Mr G.S. Sethi and Ladi Bajwa, wine contractors, who obtained licence for the current year for Pathankot unit expressed disappointment at their unability to make good of the losses following cases of liquor smuggling from Himachal to the city.

They alleged that some fluential persons of the city had been smuggling liquor for easy money. They visit Himachal and return with two or three cartons of English wine in the cars and sell it at higher price which costs the consumers less compared to the price here.

The Excise and Taxation Department to check liquor smuggling intercepted several vehicles at nakas on the Chakki bank bridge and got cases registered against the erring people. The department also realised Rs 1.50 lakh from some persons, including Ashwani Kumar, Avtar Singh, Raj Kumar and Mangal Singh.

Dhangu Peer, Damtal and Chhani Belli area of Himachal have been a heaven for liquor smuggling. People in liquor smuggling use these places keeping 10 to 15 cartons each with nine bottles to be shifted to Pathankot every day. The truckers and bus drivers stop buses at Chhannibelli on the Pathankot-Jalandhar road to have two or three bottles of liquor made by Sansis in their drum-type distilleries.


Dhindsa meets Governor
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 27
The Union Chemicals and Fertilizers Minister, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, met the Governor of Punjab, Justice Om Parkash Verma, at Raj Bhavan for an hour today.

Though Mr Dhindsa said it was a “routine courtesy call”, tremendous significance is attached to his long meeting with Justice Verma. Mr Dhindsa is also General Secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal.

Political developments in the state, especially in the wake of unity in Shiromani Akali Dal and letters written by SAD President, Parkash Singh Badal to all MPs accusing the Congress government in the state of political vendetta appears to have figured prominently at the meeting.

Another important issue that is believed to have figured at the meeting was the letter sent by several Akali MLAs to the Chief Minister and the Chief Director of the Vigilance Bureau against a Punjab minister, Mr Romesh Dutt Sharma, demanding the registration of a case against him. The resignation of Irrigation Adviser, Bhagat Singh Sandhu, and his inquiry report indicting engineers close to Irrigation Minister, Gurchet Singh Bhullar also reportedly came up for discussion.


Charges against Dutt to be probed: Hanspal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 27
The Punjab Congress chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today revealed that the party would conduct a thorough probe into allegations of corruption and forgery levelled against the Congress minister, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma.

Ironically, the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has already given a clean chit to Mr Sharma.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Hanspal said keeping in view the sensitivity of the allegations, the party had decided to conduct a thorough probe into allegations of corruption and forgery against the minister and if the latter was found involved in any “misdeeds”, suitable action would be taken against him. Regarding delay in the appointment of president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Mr Hanspal said they had finalised a panel of Youth Congress leaders for appointment as Punjab Youth Congress chief.


Power thefts detected through consumer indexing
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board has detected a large-scale theft of power through consumer indexing. This was stated by Mr S.K. Anand, member distribution, while addressing a press conference here yesterday.

Mr Anand said the board had recently launched an energy audit and installed electronic meters in the vulnerable areas, especially in the rural belt. The board had suspended a number of employees in the Rajpura, Phagwara and Majitha areas of Amritsar district.

Mr Charanjit Singh, a Junior Engineer in the district, had been suspended for giving fake connections, he added.

Mr Anand said the board had approved Rs 700-crore reject to revamp the entire distribution and transmission wing. The project had been funded by the Centre. It would give a grant of 25 per cent of the outlay from this year.

He said the board had enough power for paddy sowing. The board had not affected any cuts this year, he added.


DC’s efforts to resolve ‘muth’ row fail
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, July 27
An effort of Mr KAP Sinha Deputy Commissioner to reconcile differences of two sections of Dinanagar Muth yesterday failed. Dinanagar Muth has eight educational institutions, schools, colleges and pharmacy.

Mr Arvind Mehta’s faction accused Muth management of having sexually abused a student of Sanskrit at Dinanagar Math in September last year. He also accused him of expelling 17 students from the Muth.

Mr Sadanand the successor to the Muth to this correspondent talking yesterday denied the charges. His supporters Mrs Nirmal Pandhi and Raman Ohri levelled serious charges against Arvind Mehta and accused him of bringing up a bad name to the Muth.

The faction headed by Mr Sadanand successor to the Muth had removed Arvind Mehta from the management of the DAV School Dinanagar run by the Muth. Mr Mehta continues to claim be the president has support of 13 out of 16 members of the management committee.

The Deputy Commissioner yesterday called both the parties and tried to solve the conflict. Mr Arvind Mehta demanded the removal of Sadanand from the Muth and reinstatement of 17 students removed for indisciplined by the Sadanand faction backed of Swami Sarvanand leader of the Muth did not concede both demands and insisted that Mr Arvind Mehta has created the controversy.

Mr Rajinder Kumar in his statement to the Deputy Commissioner said that the Sadanand had been sexually abusing him for money. So much so that Rajinder has been financing his parents he got from Sadanand, he said.

Rajinder Kumar has moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court for the registration of a case against Sadanand. The Deputy Commissioner sent the statement of Rajinder Kumar to the SSP here for action.


Murder case: PMO writes to Chief Secy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 27
The Prime Minister’s office (PMO) has forwarded the case of murder of Naresh Mahajan, a Manager of the Oriental Bank of Commerce to the Chief Secretary, Punjab. This was informed by a letter from PMO to Mr Banarsi Dass Mahajan father of the deceased.

The PMO letter of July 18 was received by the family, which pursued the case for five years. The murder was allegedly committed due to “parallel banking” involving businessmen and others.

The investigation was changed hands form 14 times. Mr AK Hargava, SP CBI is the 14th investigation officer. He took over the case recently.


Six drowned in Sutlej

Nangal, July 27
Six persons of Barmula village, near here, were drowned in the Sutlej this evening. According to sources, some women and children had gone to the Sutlej to perform a ritual. After the ritual, they started taking bath in the river. In a sudden wave, many children and women swept away.

Though unofficial sources put the death toll between 10 and 15, official sources put it at six.

Those drowned have been identified as Monica, Vijay, Mohit, Priyanka, Puja and Rakesh.

While the bodies of Puja and Rakesh were recovered, the search for others was going on at the time of the filing of the report. An alert has been sounded and the BBMB authorities have been told to search the bodies at the Nangal Dam.

One girl, Shikha, was saved by a group of persons. — OC


Sarpanch leads gherao of police station
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, July 27
Seeking the arrest of a political activist allegedly involved in a assault case, residents, including over 10 women, of Barauli village gheraoed the local police station for more than an hour this afternoon.

Headed by the village sarpanch, Ms Surinder Kaur, over 20 villagers assembled in front of the police station. The agitators staged a dharna and raised slogans against the police authorities for not arresting Shamsher Singh, Karam Singh, Sabardin and some of their associates who were booked under Section 452, 323, 506, 294, 148 and 149 of the IPC some day ago.

They were booked by the police on the complaint filed by Mr Shadi Ram for assaulting him and his wife on July 18.

In his complaint the victim has alleged that these persons had assaulted them after trespassing their house.

The agitators alleged that the police was shielding the suspects since they were politically connected.

The residents had earlier issued a threat to gherao the police station if the police failed to arrest them by this afternoon.

The protesters were pacified by Mr Tajinder Singh, SHO, who assured them that the suspects would be arrested within two days.

When contacted the SHO said the case was being investigated and the suspects would only be arrested if found guilty.


Mega medical check-up camp organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 27
Service to mankind is service to God and selfless social service gives mental peace and satisfaction. In the present era of globalisation, materialism and lust for money and power we have forgotten all our duties towards society, family and even towards self. It is only social organisations which can play an important role in curbing this menace and taking society on the right path by involving as much people in social service as they can, said Mr S.K.Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a gathering after inaugurating a mega medical check-up camp at Sacred Heart School, Nabipur, 10 km from here, organised by the Rotary Club, Sirhind, in collaboration with Nabipur panchayat today. At the camp 10 doctors examined more than 1,000 patients. Medicines were given free of cost by the Rotary Club.

He said that the rural people were not so health conscious. Moreover, they did not have good medical facilities in their villages. So by organising such camps and bringing experts at their doorstep, the Rotary Club had done a commendable service towards society. He urged the Rotary Club to make the medical check-up camps in rural areas a permanent feature by organising such camps every month. He announced that medicines for these camps would be provided by the hospital welfare section of the District Red Cross free of cost.

Mr Surjit Singh Sahi, sarpanch of Nabipur, highlighted the problems of the rural people and urged the Deputy Commissioner to redress the grievances of the people of the area on priority.

Mr Nakesh Jindal, project chairman of the Rotary Club, said that the club had decided to organise such medical check-up camps in the rural areas and the services of expert doctors would be made available to the rural people.

Students of Sacred Heart School presented a cultural programme and all the doctors were honoured by the Rotary Club.


Programme to curb domestic violence
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 27
A training programme on combating domestic violence held in collaboration with the Punjab Police, Patiala Zone, concluded here yesterday with participants maintaining that crime against women should be viewed as one of the major mechanism by which they are forced into subordinate position.

Joint Director (Women Development) NIPCCD, Mr K.K. Singh, and the Superintendent of Police, Mr R.L. Monga, inaugurated the programme. Mr Monga said violence and fear of violence inhibit women from participation in development. He urged the participants to build their knowledge base and skills to solve problems and develop negotiation skills for better counselling.

At least 45 police personnel participated in this training programme. Lectures-cum-discussion, film shows and group discussion were organised during the programme. The aim of this programme was to make participants understand the causes and consequences of domestic violence and to work out strategy for combating it.


200 entries received for Teej festival contests
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib July 27
The preparations for the state level “Teej” festival to be held on August 1 at Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, are in full swing and there is great enthusiasm among the participants for the various competitions to be held on that day. More than 200 entries have been received by the district Red Cross Society for participation said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner.

He said Mrs Sobha Verma, wife of Punjab Governor, would preside over the function and would give away the prizes to the winners of various contests. She would also crown the winner of the “Miss Teej” contest. He said the function would start at 11am and would continue upto 6.30 pm.

Various cultural activities, competitions and folk dances, will be the main attraction of the function. Besides, Teej Baby, Teej Queen, Teej Babe, would also be selected and would be given prizes. He said contestants for the “Teej Queen” competition should be married and for “Teej babe” the age should be above 60 years. Various stalls of punjabi dishes, kheer pure, chat, South Indian dishes and Tambola would also be set up.


Hero Honda told to pay air fare
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, July 27
The Ferozepore District Consumer Forum has directed Hero Honda Motors Limited to pay the air fare amount to a complainant, which was to be spent on his trip to watch the cricket World Cup match in South Africa in addition to Rs 2,000 as compensation and Rs 1,000 as litigation expenses.

The forum president, Mr Amarjit Singh, and the committee of two members, after going through various documents produced by both parties, held that the complainant in the case, Mr Mohinder Pal Gupta, was not apprised of the full conditions of the scheme when he purchased the motor cycle from Hero Honda, which indulged in unfair trade practice by giving misleading advertisements to boost sale.

According to information, Hero Honda had mooted a scheme “Hero Honda wonder cup” from October 15 to December 15, 2002, in order to enhance it sales. The purchasers of its motor cycles during that period were to be given various prizes, including a free trip to South Africa to watch the World Cup, colour televisions, wrist watches and other attractive prizes.

Under the said scheme, every purchaser of Hero Honda motor cycle was offered to pick a lucky key chain pouch from the wonder cup placed at various dealer showrooms. On scratching the pouch, if an aeroplane and watch dial was found engraved on the key chain, the person was entitled to watch the World Cup match at the expense of the company.

Mr Gupta was lucky to find a watch dial and an aeroplane engraved on the pouch, which entitled him to visit South Africa to watch the World Cup. The company wrote a letter to him on January 1, 2003, to send his passport till January 13, 2003. Another letter followed on January 8, 2003, asking him to send his passport till January 15, 2003.

The complainant could not arrange the passport within this short span of time. The company than wrote a letter again on January 18, 2003, announcing that the customer was not entitled to the benefit of South Africa trip as he did not submit his passport in time.

The complainant stated that he was not apprised of the condition of having a passport within a short span of time after winning the prize. Therefore, the company could not deprive him of the benefit of the prize, which was a trip to South Africa in the case.

Though the company claimed that the customer was apprised of all conditions when he purchased the motor cycle, the forum decided otherwise.


Railways official gets judicial remand
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 27
Mr Yogendra Partap Singh, Station Superintendent of Northern Railway, posted at Mansa, who was caught red handed on Thursday by the Vigilance Bureau while accepting Rs 1,000 as bribe from Mr Ajay Kumar, a salesman-cum-vendor at the local railway station, was today produced before Ms Jatinder Kaur, Duty Magistrate, Mansa, who sent him to judicial custody.

Earlier on Friday, he was produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mansa, Mr Harsh Mehta, who had sent him to police custody for two days.


BKU: substandard seeds in market
Our Correspondent

Anandpur Sahib, July 27
Private companies are supplying substandard seeds to farmers under the contract farming scheme of the Punjab Government.

This was stated here on Friday by the state president of the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU), Mr Ajmer Singh Lakhowal.

Mr Lakhowal said that in Moga district, maize seeds supplied to the farmers under the contract farming scheme did not yield any crop, causing huge loss to farmers. Similarly, in many other areas the imported seeds of basmati and wheat supplied to farmers also did not yield any crop. Though the Punjab Agro Corporation gives buyback guarantee to the farmers under the contract farming scheme, there was no safeguard in case the crop failed.

He said that to avoid such incidents, the Agro Corporation should be directed to ensure that only the seeds certified by Punjab Agriculture University or the Seed Authority of India should be supplied to the farmers in the state. He also demanded a compensation of Rs 12000 per acre to the farmers who suffered losses due to the supply of sub-standard seeds. Mr Lakhowal said the government should fix the minimum support price of crops taking into consideration the wholesale price index and the MSP fixed in 1967-68. According to the said criteria, the MSP for cotton comes to the Rs 3250 per quintal, superfine variety of rice Rs 759 per quintal, for coarse rice Rs 689 per quintal, pulses and oil seeds Rs 2860 per quintal and sugarcane Rs 143 per quintal. The government has imposed an undeclared sealing on the MSP of sugarcane over the past few years. Farmers have also not been paid the price of the sugarcane they supplied to the mills last year.


BKU pleads cane growers’ cause
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 27
Mr Sukhdev Singh Kokri Kalan, general secretary, BKU (Ekta) has threatened to launch an agitation if the state government failed to make payment to the sugarcane growers in lieu of their crop purchased by various sugar mills being run by the state government.

In a press note issued here today, he said that the state government should make arrangements for making payments to the sugarcane growers in lieu of their purchased crop so that they should not face problem in sowing their next crop due to lack of money.

He said that the BKU (Ekta) was also concerned over the fact that state government was not paying any attention to the needs of the downtrodden and poor farmers. He said the government should also reduce the fee of educational institutes like ITI and engineering colleges so that the technical education could be made available to the poor students of also.

He also expressed concern over the increasing number of stray animals in the area as these had been creating havoc for the farmers and had also been causing problems in smooth flow of vehicular traffic on the roads. He said that state government should do something concrete in this regard and if the authorities concerned failed to do so the farmers would be left with no option other than to launch an agitation separately for it.


Robbers loot petrol station
Tribune Reporters

Phillaur, July 27
Unidentified armed robbers struck at a petrol station, said to be owned by the family of former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal, near Mansoorpur Bhattian village on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana GT Road here past midnight last night and looted Rs 7,500, two gold chains and a ring from employees working there after locking them in a room.

Two of the robbers came to the petrol station and demanded a can of mobil oil. After getting the mobil oil, they paid the amount to one of the employees, Dalbir Singh, hailing from Jandiala village near Kangra in Himachal Pradesh. The petrol station is said to be owned by Mr Arvind Thakur, a nephew of Mr Dhumal.

Shortly afterwards, the two robbers resurfaced along with their clean-shaven accomplices, who were carrying a pistol-like thing, and threatened Dalbir Singh to hand over the cash, a gold chain and a ring worn by him. After a frightened Dalbir Singh handed over Rs 5,000 and his gold chain to the robbers, they moved to an adjoining room where they woke up Dharminder, another employee of the petrol station, and looted a gold chain and Rs 2,500 from him. They then fled under the cover of darkness.

“We don’t know whether they were carrying a real weapon, but it resembled a pistol. They threatened to kill us if we failed to hand over the cash to them. All robbers were clean-shaven, of average height and were speaking Hindi”, said Dalbir Singh. The Phillaur DSP, Mr Kanwaljit Singh Dhillon, said police parties had been dispatched to conduct raids at different places. He, however, said the robbers did not carry any weapon.


7 held with 300 kg poppy husk
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 27
Continuing its campaign against drug peddlers, the district police has arrested seven persons, allegedly involved in the smuggling of narcotics and seized more than 300 kg of poppy husk from them.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, district police chief, said in a case four persons namely Gurdeep Singh, Ajmer Singh, Jagsir Singh and Gora Singh were arrested by the Sangat police near Pakka Kalan village while they were transporting poppy husk in a jeep bearing the registration number of Rajasthan. Five bags of poppy husk weighing 35 kg each were seized from them. Jagsir Singh, one of the accused, was earlier arrested by the Ferozepore police in February 2003 and was out on bail.

In another case, three persons namely Dev Singh, Resham Singh and Angrej Singh were arrested by the Sangat police while they were transporting poppy husk in a car bearing the registration number of Delhi. Four bags of poppy husk weighing 35 kg each were seized from them.

Cases had been registered against the accused in this connection. The total worth of seized narcotics was estimated at Rs 1.35 lakh.


6 travel agents booked
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 27
The police has registered three cases against six travel agents, including two women, for allegedly duping innocent persons.

On a complaint of Nirmal Singh of Sarhala Mundian, the Tanda police registered a case against Satinder Singh, his wife Usha Rani and Gurnam Singh of Kandhala Jattan.

He alleged that they took Rs 2.50 lakh from him for sending his son abroad.

The police also registered a case against Santokh Singh of Jalapur for taking money from Gurinderjit Kaur of Doburji for sending her husband to Canada.

Sheetal Kaur in her complaint to the police alleged that Gurmail Singh and his wife Gurdev Kaur of Harkhowal, at present residing in Bhagwanti Garden, New Delhi took Rs 2 lakh from her for sending her abroad.


Cop's chase of driver ends in death
Our Correspondent

Mansa, July 27
A Head Constable, Mr Amarjit Singh, posted with the Sales Tax Department, was killed on the spot when a truck (PB11C-1830) hit a police Gypsy (PB11E-1254) near Sardulgarh in the district yesterday.

The truck, which was coming from Delhi and loaded with goods, was stopped by the enforcement wing of the Sales Tax Department. Department officials sent the truck to the nearby Sardulgarh sales tax check-post.

Head Constable Amarjit Singh was deputed in a Gypsy to follow the truck. On the way, the truck driver tried to flee, but the alert Head Constable followed him in the Gypsy, and after overtaking the truck, signalled the driver to stop. However, the truck driver hit the Gypsy and escaped in a Maruti car following the truck. The head constable died on the spot. The truck has been impounded and a case registered.

In another incident at Mirpur Kalan village in Sardulgarh subdivision in the district, Harnek Singh allegedly murdered his brother Chanan Singh with a spade when the latter was asleep. The police has registered a case under Section 302 of the IPC.


Man commits suicide; wife critical
Our Correspondent

Kharar, July 27
Paramveer Singh, a resident of ward number 8, committed suicide here today by consuming an excess quantity of sleeping pills. His pregnant wife, Amarpreet Kaur, also consumed sleeping pills. She has been admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh. Her condition is reported to be serious.

On the statement of Ms Rupinder Kaur, mother of the deceased, the police has registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

A family dispute is said to be the reason behind the extreme step.

Paramveer, who married Amarpreet in 2002, was an educated man. But he was unemployed. He has not left any suicide note. According to the police, the couple often used to quarrel.

The mother of the deceased came to know about the incident when she heard the couple vomiting at midnight. Both were rushed to a private hospital from where they were referred to the PGI. Paramveer died on the way to the PGI.

The body of the deceased has been handed over to the family after a post-mortem examination.


Corruption case against DSP

Hoshiarpur, July 27
A case was registered under various Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act against a DSP of 4th Battalion of IRB Jalandhar yesterday, police sources said today.

In her complaint to the police, Resham Kaur of Nandachaur alleged that DSP Parminder Singh took Rs 1.50 lakh from her to get her son appointed as a revenue official in Amritsar corporation.

The DSP neither got her son appointed nor returned back her money, she added. — PTI


3 crushed death by bus
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 27
Mahinder Singh (28), his wife Jasbir Kaur (26) and daughter Dolly (2) were killed on the spot, when their scooter was hit by a bus near Kangla village yesterday.

According to delayed report received here, today, the police has impounded the bus. But the driver of the bus escaped.

The bodies of the victim were handed over to their kin after. post-mortem.


Workshop on career counselling held
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 27
A workshop on career counselling was held at General Gurnam Singh Public School here yesterday. Dr P.K. Jain, Assistant Professor of management-cum-Chairman, Training and Placement, Sant Longowal Institute of Engineering and Technology (SLIET), Longowal, and Mr Manoj Goyal, Senior Lecturer of Mechanical Engineering, SLIET, conducted the workshop. The workshop was attended by about 100 students of Class X of the school.

Addressing the students, Dr Jain urged them to choose their career intelligently, adding that schools could play a vital role in shaping the career of a student. He also gave detailed information about various career options available to the students and said a majority of students made wrong choices while selecting their career due to lack of guidance.

The interactive session of the workshop was conducted jointly by Dr Jain and Mr Manoj Goyal, which saw an enthusiastic participation by the students as many of them sought information about various careers. like astronomy, commerce AND animal husbandry.

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