Saturday, August 2, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Decision on docs’ allowance to stay
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 1
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh today said that the Health Minister Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, had never made any statement claiming that the non-practising allowance (NPA) had been withdrawn by the state bureaucracy even as he expressed his determination not to revoke the decision.

Talking to newsmen here the Chief Minister said he had talked to the Health Minister on the issue and had been told that the minister never said that a decision on withdrawing NPA had been taken by the Chief Secretary or the Finance Secretary.

The Chief Minister said there was no question of not involving the minister on the issue or even bypassing him.

He said he had chaired the Cabinet meeting in which a decision to withdraw the NPA had been taken adding that the decision was a collective one.

Capt Amarinder Singh said there was no question of revoking the decision on the NPA.

He said when his government came into power a statewide survey had revealed that around 28 per cent of government doctors did not remain in their place of posting for the entire day He said a year later this figure had gone up to 37 per cent.

The Chief Minister said it was unfortunate that doctors were continuing with private practice despite several appeals and warnings. He said doctors could not expect the government to subsidise their private practice.

When questioned about the demand of doctors not to withdraw NPA from salaries of those posted in basic departments, he said he had requested the minister to review their cases.

He said, however the cases of the only those doctors who had no possible chance of doing private practice could be exempted.


Father wants Noor to be surgeon
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), August 1
Fatima Noor, who recovered quickly from a heart surgery, returned to her home in Pakistan here today.

Her proud father Nadeem Sajjad, a soil scientist with a multinational company in Lahore, said he wished that Noor becomes a cardiac surgeon when she grows up.

Noor had arrived here on the Lahore-Delhi bus on July 12.

Despite the 11-hour bus journey Noor looked happy as she kissed and hugged her mother Tazooba Nadeem and happily posed for pictures. Ms Tazooba said her two elder children, a son aged six and daughter aged four, were eagerly waiting the return of their sister.

The much-relieved parents of Noor profusely thanked India in this regard. Talking to mediapersons, he said they had created a “friendship fund” with a personal contribution of Rs 50,000 for the treatment of poor children.

Returning after 20 days the parents said all follow-up treatment of Noor would be through the Internet or telephone. They said they would bring Noor to India when she regains health.


CBI officials threatened me: witness
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
In just over two months after the Punjab and Haryana High Court directed probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the Amritsar sex-scam, a witness today claimed that he was “slapped and abused” by the premier investigating agency officials for not towing their line.

In a letter addressed to the Chief Justice of the high court Mr Justice B.K. Roy, witness Satish Kumar also alleged that he was threatened by the CBI officials. Seeking protection from the officials, he further asked for action against a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) “and his accomplices”

Giving details, the witness asserted that the DSP started abusing him after he refused to record the statement of his choice on July 20. The DSP threatened him next day also, he said. Subsequently, the officials told him that “several cases could be registered against him for which he would not even be able to get bail,” the witness claimed.

Referring to the letter, Chairman of Punjab Human Rights Organisation Justice Ajit Singh Bains, in a petition filed before the high court, said the disturbing communication indicated that the investigations were not being conducted in a fair manner.

The letter, if true, “disclosed very disturbing state of affairs”, he added. Seeking directions to the CBI for filing a status report in the matter, Justice Bains asserted that till date not even a single accused was arrested since probe by the CBI was ordered. Five accused, arrested prior to the handing over of investigation to the CBI, were going to complete 90 days in custody soon, he said.

“In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the CBI should be directed to place on record the status report of the investigation done so far so that none of the accused are able to get bail as their is slackness in the investigation”, Justice Bains concluded. The petition is likely to come up for hearing on Monday.

It may be recalled that the high court had directed probe by the CBI soon after reports appeared in newspapers regarding sexual exploitation of three girls by “influential persons”, including politicians and judicial officers at Amritsar.


Jagir Kaur faces power theft charge
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 1
Mr S.S. Dhaliwal, Chief Judicial Magistrate, here yesterday ordered the framing of a charge under Section 379 of the IPC, and Sections 43 (1) and 39 (C) of the Indian Electricity Act, 1910, against Bibi Jagir Kaur, former SGPC president, on the charge of stealing electricity.

The Punjab State Electricity Board has imposed a fine of Rs 4,514 on this account.

Mr R.L. Khaira, Public Prosecutor, told the court that on November 7, 2002, a team of PSEB officials under the supervision of an Executive Engineer raided the Dera of Bibi Jagir Kaur at Begowal village and found that electricity was being stolen from the main line. A case of power theft was registered.

The counsel for Bibi Jagir Kaur opposed the framing of the charge on the ground that the case had been registered against her in order to malign her image. The counsel argued that the contractor, who was employed for construction work at the dera, might have stolen the electricity without her knowledge.

The judge ordered the framing of the charge on the pretext that the electric metre was in the name of Bibi Jagir Kaur.

The date for recording of evidence has been fixed as December 12.


Judicial remand for MLA till August 14
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 1
Mrs Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, today remanded Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, SAD MLA from Joga and former Chairman of Milkfed, in judicial remand till August 14. The accused was arrested by the Punjab Vigilance in a case of cheating, forgery, criminal conspiracy, corruption and accumulation of assets disproportionate to his know sources of income.

Earlier, he was remanded in police custody till today by the court.

Mr Jatinderjit Singh Punn public prosecutor, pleaded in the court for a five-day police remand to the accused. He said during the police remand, the accused informed the police that he had purchased a petrol station, a fertiliser shop, godowns, four or five trucks and a house in Sector 33 A, Chandigarh besides a flat in New Delhi. He said during interrogation, the accused had revealed that during his tenure as Milkfed Chairman, he recruited 28 milk producer assistants after taking bribe from them. He also forged the register of a cooperative society to become its member.

The defence council on the other hand refuted the charges of the prosecution and said now there was no need for any police remand. He said all these properties were owned by the accused or his family before becoming the Chairman of Milkfed.

The judge, however, sent him in judicial remand and ordered that he should be produced before the special court in Ropar after the expiry of his remand.

A large number of SAD workers were present in the tehsil complex and tight security arrangements were in place. They raised anti-government slogans.


NCC activities suspended in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
NCC activities in several districts in Punjab have been suspended due to non-availability of funds. These include areas under the jurisdiction of Patiala NCC Group covering Bathinda, Sangrur, Patiala and Ropar districts.

Suspension of activities mean that cadets will also be unable to participate in Independence Day celebrations at the state, district and local level. This is perhaps for the first time that such a step has been taken.

The NCC Deputy Director General at Chandigarh, Brig D.S. Dhillon, when contacted, confirmed that activities had been suspended in some areas as funds were not available for even normal administrative and office work. The move will affect over 10,000 cadets.

The Additional Director General at NCC Headquarters in New Delhi, Major-Gen S.V. Thaplial will be visiting Chandigarh next week and is scheduled to meet the Governor of Punjab, Justice O.P. Verma (retd) on August 6, where the issue of non-release of funds is expected to feature prominently during discussions. The governor, incidentally, is himself an ex-NCC cadet. General Thaplial is also scheduled to meet the Governor of Haryana.

Sources said that units based in these districts had also been unable to enroll fresh cadets for this training year.

Provision of funds for training and administration is the responsibility of the state government. According to sources, Punjab has so far only released about 30 per cent of the stipulated budget allocation. “This means that we can train only 30 per cent of the enrolled cadets in Punjab,” an officer said.

Sources said that due to non-availability of funds, cadets from Punjab had also been deprived of the opportunity of attending the prestigious Thal Sainik camp at Delhi. These Sainik camps involve several national level competitions.

Pre-Thal Sainik camps to select cadets from Chandigarh, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh to participate in the main camp have commenced in Rohtak, Bhiwani and Pune this week. While cadets from the other three states have reported for the camp, Punjab cadets have been left out.


Inspector held for taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau yesterday arrested Mr Dasoda Singh, Inspector, (internal vigilance cell), of the Punjab Police for accepting a bribe of Rs 1500 from Mr Amarjit Singh, Head Constable, Punjab Police, to hush up an inquiry, which the former was conducting.

The reader of the inspector was also arrested in this connection.

Mr Barjinder Singh Grewal, SSP, vigilance bureau, Bathinda range, said here yesterday that the head constable was facing an inquiry by the internal vigilance cell of the police.

He added that Ms Bhajan Kaur, a resident of Bhiki town of Mansa district, had lodged a complaint that the Head constable had taken Rs 5000 forcibly from her father-in-law and the charges were being probed.

Mr Grewal said that the inspector had demanded Rs 3000 from the constable to influence the outcome of the inquiry, and had taken the first installment of Rs 1500 on July 21 at Chandigarh, where the constable had been asked to dispose before inquiry officer. He said yesterday the inspector landed in Bhiki town and called up the constable to take the second installment of Rs 1500.

He said the Constable contacted Mr Vinod Kumar, DSP (VB), Mansa, and lodged his complaint. The DSP called up government witnesses, Mr Paramjit Singh, Mr Darshan Singh and shadow witness, Mr Manjit Singh, to nab the Inspector.

The police party, led by the DSP, laid a trap and as per their directions the constable paid the second installment of bribe to the inspector. The Constable was arrested red-handed.

Mr Grewal said that the inspector took the money and then gave the same to his reader, Mr Gurdeep Singh. After the shadow witness signalled the police party that the Inspector had taken the bribe money, the inspector and his reader were arrested immediately and the amount was recovered from the reader.

He added that Mr Harnek Singh, inspector, and a police party had been sent to raid the houses of both accused and a case under sections 7, 13 (2) 88 of the prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against them.

Interestingly, the woman, who lodged complaint against the Constable, is an accused in a case of narcotic smuggling and Mr Grewal said that 190 kg of poppy husk had been recovered from her and a case registered at Mansa was still pending. The father-in-law of the woman, Mr Gurmail Singh, is also accused in poppy husk smuggling. Many cases under various sections of the IPC had been registered against him with the Sangrur police.

Our Correspondent adds from Mansa: Mr Dasoda Singh and his reader were produced in the court of the Judicial Magistrate First Class Mansa , Ms Jatinder Kaur, today who remanded them in police custody for a day.


Cong blamed for Opposition disunity
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
Mr Amrit Pal Singh Brar, general secretary, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), Punjab, said today that his party was not ready to compromise on the foreign-origin issue of AICC chief Sonia Gandhi.

In a press note issued here today, he said if the Congress leadership agreed to have a person of Indian origin then political unity could be achieved. He added that the stubborn attitude of the Congress leadership on projecting Mrs Gandhi as their prime ministerial candidate had been keeping the secular forces at a distance.

“The NCP leader, Mr Sharad Pawar, is the only rallying point for all political parties to lead to an alternative to the NDA government in the coming Parliament elections”, claimed Mr Brar.

Holding the Congress responsible for the present lack of unity among the Opposition parties, he said the policy of exclusiveness being followed by the Congress was the key element that had led to the present situation, which helped the rise of regional parties.

About his party’s view on the Supreme Court directive on the Common Civil Code, Mr Brar pointed out that in a complex society like India opinion on such issues should be evolved through consensus. Such issues could not be solved through the judiciary, he added.


Panches’ convention tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
A state-level convention of panches, sarpanches, members of the Zila Parishads, block samitis, Mayors, Presidents and councillors of the municipal bodies will be held at Ludhiana on August 3 under the banner of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC).


Destroy N-weapons, say docs
Our Correspondent

Mansa August 1
A state-level meeting of the Indian Doctors for Peace and Development (IDPD) was held here yesterday in association with the local Indian Medical Association (IMA).

Dr Arun Mitra, general secretary of the state unit of the IDPD, said nuclear weapons and the possibility of their misuse posed a great danger to the humanity. He said these weapons consumed a major portion of finance of the world, which could be used for the welfare of the people.

He said the people of India and Pakistan should ask their respective governments to improve relationship between the two countries Dr Mitra said doctors had a special status in society and should appraise the public about the danger of atomic radioactivity.

Dr Mahajan, president of the state unit of the IDPD, talked about the bad effects of radioactivity and urged for the complete destruction of nuclear weapons.

Dr Harmanderjit Kaur Joga, Dr Amrit Paul Goyal, Dr Vijay Singla, Dr Ranjit Singh Raipuri, Dr Parshotam Jindal, Dr Sunit Jindal, Dr Ram Nath Bhardwaj and Dr Ranjit Singh also addressed the delegates.


Drugs Act violation resented
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 1
The Sangrur unit of the Punjab State Pharmacists’ Association is sore over the violation of the provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act, 1940, by chemists in Punjab.

A meeting of the unit, held under the chairmanship of Mr Amrit Garg, president passed a resolution demanding the provisions Act must be implemented.

Mr Shishan Kumar and Mr Rajinder Kumar, secretary and press secretary respectively, said the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, had, in a letter to all civil surgeons and the State Drugs Controller categorically instructed that they would be responsible for ensuring that the outlets of all chemists and druggists had qualified pharmacists and the qualified pharmacists should wear a white apron with his or her name displayed on it.

The letter further instructed that they would give one week’s time to all chemists/druggists within their jurisdiction to comply with the instructions and thereafter, within a fortnight, they should submit a physical verification certificate that each outlet within their jurisdiction had complied with the provisions.


Please smile, you are in Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 1
“Please smile, you are in Jalandhar now”, reads a glow sign put up by the Improvement Trust in an effort to make visitors to the city smile. Huge glow signs have been installed at all entry points to the city, advising the people to smile during stay in Jalandhar.

Jalandhar, after Lucknow, has become the second city in the country to have such glow signs.

Each of these 16 feet high glow signs say, “Zara muskura do, aap Jalandhar mein hain,” in Hindi and “Thoda muskarao hun tusin Jalandhar vich ho” (Please smile you are in Jalandhar now) in Punjabi.

The glow signs have cost about Rs 35,000 and are sponsored by Punjab National Bank, the IDBI, and the State Bank of Patiala.

The glow signs have been put up at the four entry points to the city, including the railway crossing on the Jalandhar-Amritsar highway, the Wadala chowk on the Jalandhar-Moga road, Rama Mandi chowk on the Jalandhar-Ludhiana road and the Pathankot chowk on the Jalandhar-Pathankot road.

“Only Lucknow has such glow signs. The idea came to our mind after listening to Murari Bapu, who narrated the importance of a smile during one of his recent discourses in Jalandhar,” said Mr Tejinder Bittu, chairman of the improvement Trust.

He said the life of the boards was around 18 to 20 years.


Pro-VC was wrong to host Rinwa’s conference: CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 1
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today said Punjabi University Pro-Vice-Chancellor, Dr R N Pal, should not have let the Punjab Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, hold a press conference at his campus residence.

After laying the foundation stone of a new project at the UB Groups Maltex Malt Plant here along with Punjab Agro Chairman Jasbir Singh and Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla, the Chief Minister said the fact that the Pro-VC had allowed a press conference to take place at his residence indicated that he was party to subsequent developments.

He said politicians could not be allowed to disrupt the academic atmosphere of the University adding he himself had never gone to the university.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the government regarded the university as an autonomous body and did not want to interfere in its functioning.

He was of the view the Vice-Chancellors of all universities should be backed irrespective of which party or government had appointed them.

The Chief Minister indicated that he would get the issue looked into, including allegations that the Pro-Vice-Chancellor had leaked confidential information to the media.

When asked about the rollback in the enhanced fee colleges and universities, he said the decision had been taken when it came to light that 25 per cent of seats in colleges had not been filled due to the hike.


Tangri river erodes part of bundh
Our Correspondent

Lalru, August 1
The heavy discharge of water in the Tangri washed away part of a kuccha bundh in Khelan-Malhan village, 25 km from here, putting villagers to great hardship.

Continuous rain in the wee hours today caused the flood. Subsequently, water discharge in the river increased. Since the village was located in a low-lying area, the bandh on the river bank in the village was washed away at 8 am.

As the residents noticed the water level rising, they informed the drainage department and the flood control room in the tehsil office at Dera Bassi was called for help.

The Executive officer of the Drainage Department with a team and the Tehsildar reached the spot and reconstructed the bandh with the help of bags.

Talking to the Chandigarh Tribune, Mr Sanjeev Garg, tehsildar, said the kuccha bandh was partially washed away by the Tangri river this morning. He said 2,000 sand bags had been used to reconstruct the bandh.

The local administration had claimed to have made elaborate arrangements to tackle the monsoon that often plays havoc in these villages every year.

Four villages — Khelan, Malhan, Bhankharpur and Chhat — were declared sensitive by the administration.


Pageants for all ages on this Teej
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
“Punjab has a rich cultural heritage and it is our duty to preserve it. We should not stay away from our culture in the name of modernisation,” said Ms Sobha Verma, wife of the Punjab Governor, while presiding over a state-level Teej function at Aam Khas Bagh, Sirhind, today. The function was organised by the District Red Cross Society.

A virtual sea of humanity thronged Mughal Gardens of Aam Khas Bagh despite intermittent rain throughout the day. It was for the first time in the district that such a vast crowd had gathered for a cultural function. The enthusiasm was such that more than 1,000 entries were received for various competitions and more than 100 girls contested for the “Miss Teej” title. Even 34 women way past their youth competed for the “Teej Babbey” title. The “Teej Baby” title was bagged by 8-month-old Kannu Arora.

At the closing ceremony, Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said people of the district had shown a tremendous interest in the celebrations. He congratulated all winners and urged everyone to follow the path shown by the Gurus.

In the toughest of all contests, Chitvan was declared “Miss Teej”, Kamaljeet Kaur “Teej Queen” and Gurjaswant Kaur ‘Teej Babbey”. In the “Teej Baby Senior” contest, Harnoor was declared first, and in the junior’s section, Arunima was declared first. In the solo dance contest, Gaganpreet stood first, while Mohinder Kaur, 107 of Sidhwan village got a special honour. Women from the SSP’s office defeated women from the DC’s office in the tug-of-war competition.

Ms Satwant Kaur Boparai, wife of the Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Ms Shukla Dass, wife of the MD, State Bank of Patiala, were special guests. On this occasion, the District Red Cross Society held a folk art-and-craft exhibition and students of the Dance Department, Punjabi University, Patiala, gave a performance. A community kitchen was organised by Sant Baba Ajit Singh Hansaliwale.


Ex-servicemen for no tax on canteen items
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
A deputation of ex-servicemen yesterday submitted a memorandum to Chief Minister, Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh through Deputy Commissioner Anurag Aggarwal seeking the withdrawal of Sales Tax on the Canteen Stores Department (CSD) items of daily use at subsidised rates.

In a press note here Brig (retd) Bant Singh said that the ex-servicemen expressed resentment over the government’s decision to levy Sales Tax on CSD items. He added that Punjab would be first state in the country to levy Sales Tax on CSD items.

Maj Gen Mohinder Singh led the deputation.


BSP seeks arrest of DSP
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has sought the arrest of Mr Abrah Choudhry, DSP, Jammu, who was booked in connection with the death of Mohan Lal, a resident of Mahal village a few days ago. Mohan Lal died in the custody of the DSP.

A delegation of the BSP headed by the general secretary of the Punjab unit of the party, Mr C.R. Tyagi met the Governor, who was in the city for the inauguration of the design and technical building of BBK DAV College here.

The BSP also demanded the release of other six Dalit youths who were still in the custody of the Jammu police.


Dr Rinwa bereaved
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 1
Madan Gopal Rinwa (74), father of Dr Mohinder Rinwa, Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab, was cremated here this evening. Those who paid tributes included state BJP President, Prof. B. L. Rinwa, PPCC Vice-President Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, Irrigation Minister Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Parliamentary Secretary Hans Raj Josan, Municipal Council President Tulsi Ram and former BJP MLA Arjun Singh Siyag. A large number of councillors, sarpanches, panches and other eminent persons from here and Fazilka subdivisions besides adjoining areas of Rajasthan and Haryana attended the funeral.

Condoling his death former Lok Sabha Speaker Bal Ram Jakhar, in a message from New Delhi, said that the area had lost a progressive farmer, strong believer in rural development and philanthropist.


Citizens recall Udham’s sacrifice
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
On his martyrdom day yesterday, Udham Singh was paid rich tributes at his memorial at Rauza Sharif here. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, in his address at the gathering, said the privileges of the Independence were due to the supreme sacrifices made by Udham Singh and others like him.

He described Udham Singh as a symbol of National integration who had avenged the killings of thousands of innocents at Jallianwala Bagh not for any particular community, but for the entire nation. The memorial of Udham Singh would now be given a facelift.

Mr Hari Krishan, president, District Congress Committee, recalled the contribution of the Congress in the national movement.

In 1975, the then Chief Minister, Giani Zail Singh, brought the urn containing the ashes of Udham Singh from London, which was then buried at Rauza Sharif.


Kang plants dahlias
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
The Punjab Minister for Animal Husbandry, Fisheries, Dairy Development, Sports and Youth Services, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, has emphasised on the need to undertake an afforestation drive to save the environment from further degradation. He was speaking after inaugurating a vanmahotsav function at Burlton Park in Jalandhar to commemorate the martyrdom day of Shaheed Udham Singh yesterday.

Earlier, he kicked off a fortnight long tree-plantation drive by planting saplings of dahlia in vacant spaces outside the stadium. He called upon non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to join in the tree plantation awareness campaign.

Mr Kang said a total of 1.8 lakh saplings of ornamental trees would be planted in 1,362 veterinary hospitals 1,478 dispensaries and schools. The saplings were being made available by the Forest Department free of cost.

Meanwhile, the Secretary, Animal Husbandry, Mr D.S Bains, said the campaign would continue up to September 15 and efforts would be made to ensure that majority of plants survived the vagaries of weather.


Vanmahotsava celebrated
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 1
Mr D.J. Mankad, DGM, State Bank of Patiala, today planted a sapling here this evening at a public park at the Model Town locality of the city under the ongoing vanmahotsava.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Mankad highlighted the need of planting more trees to save the environment. He donated Rs 10,000 for the development of the park.


High Court
Notice issued on Amritsar detainees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Taking up a petition accusing the Jammu and Kashmir police of picking up eight residents of Mahal village in Amritsar district, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued notice of motion. The case will now come up for further hearing on August 8.

In his petition against the state of Jammu and Kashmir, the Director General of Police, besides other respondents, Punjab Human Rights Organisation activist Kirpal Singh Randhwa and another petitioner claimed that the body of a detainee, Mohan Lal, was later sent to the village. An attempt was also made to destroy the evidence, they claimed.

Going into the background, the petitioners asserted that four detainees were shown to have been arrested by the police after they reached Jammu for a visit to Mata Vaishno Devi.

The detainees, they claimed, were in the custody of the Jammu Police. They were later taken by a raiding party to pick up four more youngsters. All of them, including the minors, were innocent, they claimed.

Seeking directions to the respondents, the petitioners asserted that none of the detainees was produced before any Magistrate even though it was mandatory. Directions for appointing a warrant officer were not being sought as the detainees would be shifted to some other place, they concluded.


9,548 cases redressed by consumer panel
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 1
Of the 12,582 complaints filed in the State Consumer Commission, 9548 have been decided. Similarly, in the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forums (DCDRF), 69,437 complaints were received, of which 63,581 were decided. This was disclosed by Mr Justice H.S. Brar, president of the commission, while inaugurating the new office of the DCDRF, here today.

He said the DCDRF was competent to deal with complaints involving amounts up to Rs 20 lakh. Complaints involving amounts from Rs 20 lakh to Rs 1 crore could be filed in the State Consumer Commission and above Rs 1 crore in the National Commission, New Delhi.

Mr Justice Brar said consumers should be made aware of their rights. He said a majority of people did not know about the functioning of the DCDRF in the state.

Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), lawyers and mediapersons should come forward to protect consumer rights of the people, he added. He said the consumers must obtain a bill while making purchase.

Mr A.S. Narula, president of the DCDRF, also spoke.


Scope of three-crop rotation in Punjab
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 31
Efforts are on to find sustainable alternatives to wheat and rice in Punjab. There are two alternatives: diversification from wheat and rice to say pulses and oilseeds; and contract farming.

These alternatives were discussed in the Union Ministry of Agriculture and Co-operation in April where it was decided that the Punjab scheme on diversification, prepared by Dr S.S. Johl, be “modified” and the one on contract farming, being implemented by the Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation, referred to NABARD and ICICI Bank.

Insiders say Punjab could not convince the meeting on its two proposed alternatives discussed at that meeting, chaired by the Secretary, Agriculture and Co-operation. It is leant that on return from an assignment in Iran, Dr Johl sent comments on the minutes of that meeting in response to a letter from the state’s Financial Commissioner, Development. He reportedly opted not to comment on the demand for Rs 25 crore for the contract farming scheme. It is believed that he had separately sent a note to the Chief Minister on contract farming, drilling holes in the scheme and suggesting correctives.

The contract farming scheme had come under fire at a meeting the Punjab Minister of Agriculture, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, had with representatives of farmers, PAU scientists and the Punjab Agro-Industries Corporation here recently. It was pointed out that most of the seeds supplied to farmers had failed to germinate. While, PAU varieties were left out those of private firms were preferred.

Even the scheme of “second push” to agriculture, conceived by the Akali-BJP Government and retained by the Congress, was a non-starter due to paucity of funds, lack of coordination among the agencies concerned and administrative will. Dr Johl says: “It will be quite some time before farmers replaced rice and wheat by pulses, maize, oilseeds etc. The area under alternative crops at present is negligible”.

Pulses occupied only 58,000 hectares; maize, including winter maize, 1.64 lakh hectares; and oil seeds 90,000 hectares.


Paddy support price rejected

Moga, August 1
The Bharti Kisan Union (Lakhowal) president, Mr Ajmer Singh, today rejected the minimum support price (MSP) for paddy as announced by the Central Government recently.

He told reporters here that the new MSP of Rs 550 per quintal and Rs 580 per quintal for common and grade-A categories of paddy were not acceptable.

The BKU will launch block-level conferences to mobilise the farming community against the “stepmotherly treatment” of the Centre towards farmers, he added. — PTI


Gill, Siddiqui assume charge
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Mr Jai Singh Gill and Mr A.A. Siddiqui today took over as Punjab’s Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police, respectively, an official press note said.

JALANDHAR: The Director-General of Punjab Police (designate), Mr A.A. Siddiqui, yesterday revealed that he would strive to make the police force more people-friendly to ensure timely redress of grievances of public.

Talking to reporters here, Mr Siddiqui, who was in the city to attend the farewell function on the eve of the retirement of the DGP, Mr M.S. Bhullar, said his first priority would be to bring people closer to the police for ensuring justice at the grassroots level itself.

He said the community policing would be further strengthened in all police districts as it could be the only approach to jointly fight against anti-social elements and for speedy redress of the grievances at the police station level.

Earlier, a farewell parade function was organised at the PAP complex, near here, on the eve of retirement of Mr Bhullar. Mr Bhullar inspected the parade and took salute from an impressive march past by a PAP contingent. Earlier on his arrival, Mr Siddiqui along with the ADGP (PAP), Mr D.R.Bhatti, also took salute.

Mr Bhullar, in his address, thanked officers and jawans for their cooperation during his various postings in Punjab Police.


7 of robbers’ gang held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 1
Ms Gurpreet Deo, SSP Hoshiarpur, in a press statement here today said that the district police had succeeded in busting an inter-state gang of kale kachhewale. She said during a nakabandi at Kotla Gaunspur, the CIA staff arrested 7 members of this gang including its kingpin. They were identified as Balbir, alias Billu, alias Gud, Maghar Singh, alias Bomb, alias Sukhwinder, Badal, alias Ravi all residents of Akhrot village in Una district, Sital of Sangrur, Bugi, alias Qais, of Morinda (Ropar), Man Singh of Sarloi (Una) and Harmesh, alias Pardhan of Morinda. Five members of the gang, however, escaped.

She said during interrogation they revealed that the gang was related to the Dheha community. They generally pin-pointed the houses of their target in the rural areas while selling baskets etc. On dark nights they entered the selected house and assaulted the sleeping members of the family with sharp-edged and blunt weapons. The gang was active in Hoshiarpur, Nawanshahr, Ropar and Patiala districts of Punjab and in Himachal Pradesh, she added.


Vigilance arrests Health Dept employee
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 1
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested an employee of the Health Department posted at Kapurthala for allegedly demanding and accepting a bribe of Rs 10,000 from a complainant in a criminal case.

A team led by Mr Rajwant Singh, DSP (Vigilance), laid a trap in the presence of two shadow witnesses and caught Ramesh Thind, medical officer, posted at Primary Health Centre at Dhilwan in Kapurthala, red handed while accepting an amount of Rs 10,000 from Baldev Singh of Budha Theh village in Dhilwan.

Earlier, Baldev Singh, in his complaint, had alleged that Ramesh Thind had demanded a sum of Rs 25,000 from him to show minor injuries in a medico-legal report (MLR) for a case registered under Sections 323/324 and 34, IPC, on July 23. The deal was later settled for Rs 10,000.

A case under various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered.


Ex-serviceman found beheaded
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 1
Mystery shrouds the death of Jaswinder Singh, an ex-serviceman who was found beheaded in fields in Majitha police district here late last evening.

While police officials claimed that illicit relations of the wife of the victim with a constable was the cause of the murder, Kulwinder Kaur, wife, alleged that he was murdered by his cousins over a property dispute.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, SP (D), said the police was conducting raids to arrest the constable, who was at large after the incident.

Kulwinder Kaur, in her statement alleged that Jaswinder in his 40s, had a property dispute with his cousins, who had allegedly grabbed about 4 acres of his land and had also killed Dhayan Singh, younger brother of the deceased.

The SP (D) said Jaswinder’s wife had illicit relations with a constable, who lived with them in their house. The police has registered a case.


Police custody for Talhan granthi
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 1
Faryaad Singh, a granthi at Gurdwara Baba Nihal Singh at Talhan village, was remanded in police custody till August 3 in a rape and attempt to murder case by a local court.

Earlier, Faryaad Singh, arrested by the police for allegedly raping a 9-year-old girl at his residence on Tuesday night, was produced in a local court.


First woman president of Govt Teachers Union faction
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Ms Surinder Kaur, a primary schoolteacher in Government Elementary School, Kumbra, near here, on July 23 became the first woman president of a faction of the Government Teachers Union, Punjab. She was elected general secretary of the Berozgar Teachers’ Union, Kapurthala, at the beginning of her career in 1977.

She also happens to be a vice-president of the Punjab Subordinate Services Federation and chairperson of the Anganwadi Mulazzam Union, Punjab.

“The welfare of teachers and to fight for their rights is upper most in my mind,” says 56-year-old Surinder Kaur, who has a long list of issues before her.

“Education should be made available to all at cheap and affordable rates. The government should not shirk its responsibility of providing good educational and health facilities to the public by handing them over to the panchayats”, she says. She is of the view that as panchayats do not have the requisite funds to run these institutions, the government should seek their participation but the financial and administrative control should continue to be with the state government.

She reiterates that her union will oppose privatisation and saffornisation of education.

Being the founder president of the Istri Mulazzam Coordination Committee, the cause of women and their standing in society has always been dear to Ms Surinder Kaur’s heart. She has taken up cases of sexual harassment of women teachers at workplace, eveteasing and other such issues with the authorities concerned to get them justice.

She was in the forefront when women organisations all over the state fought for some special privileges for women in all departments, boards and corporations. These included 20 days’ casual leaves instead of 10 given to their male counterparts, extending the three-month paid maternity leave to six months. These were subsequently added to the pay commission recommendations. In fact, Punjab was the first state to offer these privileges to its women employees.

She was able to get a holiday declared in Punjab on International Women’s Day (March 8) and get approval for the setting up of women welfare cells in all government departments and offices.

Ms Kaur is opposed to the idea of putting teachers on non-educational duties pertaining to elections, Census and verification of records etc as this affects the quality of education and general discipline in schools.

Efforts will be made to form a joint forum with other associations to take up common issues teachers with the government, she says.


Holding  classes made  mandatory for school heads
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 1
“The majority of students from poor families depend on government schools, so it becomes the duty of the heads of these schools to give personal attention to such students”, said Mr Daya Singh, DEO (S), while addressing a meeting of the heads of government schools in the district here yesterday.

He made it mandatory for the heads of schools to hold classes themselves. He said he would conduct surprise raids and if any head was found violating the directive, he would not be spared. He directed them to make sure that toilets for students, staff, particularly women staff, were constructed. He also urged them to launch sapling plantation drive and ensure cleanliness on school complex. He said medical check-up camps by involving local social organisations should also be conducted.

He also directed them to ensure that all teachers in their respective schools wrote daily diaries besides making entries regarding the results of the past three years. He said during raids he would interact with students for getting feedback from them. He urged the heads of schools to organise study and picnic tours. He also stressed the need of organising declamation contests, debates and other competitions so that a spirit of competition could be developed among students.

He said punctuality and regularity were his main concerns and absenteeism and latecomers would not be tolerated. He said all efforts would be made to provide requisite infrastructure at schools. He said stress should be on result-oriented and copying-free examinations.


Supplementary exams come into question
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 1
Questions have been raised about the hurriedly conducted class XII supplementary examinations for the science and commerce groups by the Punjab School Education Board on July 20. The results were declared within eight days on July 28. The examinations were conducted for such students who had failed in one subject in the annual examinations held in March-April. As many 2859 of the 5313 students cleared the examinations.

It is significant to mention here that it is the first time in four decades that the board conducted the supplementary examinations in July, which are normally held in September-October.

Allegations are that the examinations were conducted under pressure from the some influential persons, whose wards had cleared the CET or the PMET but failed in one subject of class XII. For admission to the degree course in engineering medical and dental colleges, a candidate must have cleared class XII.

Though the first counseling for most engineering, medical and dental colleges was held before the results of the supplementary examination were declared, these students could certainly appear in the second counselling. At most places the second counselling will be held this week.

The Secretary of the board said there was nothing wrong in conducting the supplementary examinations in July.


Admission forms dates announced
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 1
The schedule for submission of admission forms and fee for the middle standard examination of the Punjab School Education Board to be conducted in February, 2004, has been announced.

A board spokesperson said here today that private candidates who wanted to appear in this examination should submit their admission forms and fee of Rs 250 by September 10, with a late fee of Rs 50 by September 23 and thereafter with a late fee of Rs 150 by October 14, 2003. However, candidates from Chandigarh and other states will have to submit their forms without late fee of Rs 350.

Regular school candidates could submit their admission forms with a fee of Rs 180 by September 23 and thereafter the admission forms could be submitted with a late fee of Rs 50 by October 14.


Action against 4 more students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 1
Three students of B.Tech, Punjabi University, have been asked to vacate the hostel on account of ragging of juniors. Another student of the same part department has been fined Rs 2,000.

Students of B.Tech (II) — Vaneet Bansal, Kuljeet Singh, Ankur Khunger and Varinder Singh — were caught ragging juniors by a team comprising Dr H.S Bhatti and wardens of various hostels last night.

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