Monday, August 4, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



6 per cent schools without teachers
Poonam Bath
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
Six per cent of the schools in Punjab, picked up at random, are without teachers while 20 per cent schools have one teacher, reveals a survey conducted in all 216 primary education blocks in 17 districts of the state in May this year.

As many as 1735 schools, including 1276 primary, 177 middle, 172 high and 110 senior secondary schools, besides 263 schools in the vicinity were surveyed by Education Department officials during the Jan Sampark Abhiyan III.

Out of the 1394 schools, 79 schools (6 %) did not have any working teacher, while 283 schools (20%) have a single teacher. The survey reveals that 17 per cent schools in Sangrur, 14 per cent in Fatehgarh Sahib, 11 per cent in Kapurthala, 10 per cent in Mansa and 9 per cent in Patiala do not have a single working teacher.

It also brings out a discrepancy in the number of sanctioned posts of teacher in the schools. Interestingly, 31 schools (2%) had no sanctioned posts of primary teacher, while 35 schools (3 %) had only one post of primary teacher. The norms require that all schools must have a minimum of two sanctioned posts. It is astonishing to note that 10 per cent schools in Mansa district are functioning without any sanctioned post.

The large number of vacancies of teachers which exist at various levels also indicate the quality of education that is being imparted in these schools in view of the shortage of teachers. Of the total 5013 sanctioned posts for primary schools, 1225 (20.11%) were vacant, while there were 273 vacancies in the middle schools out of the 1540 sanctioned posts. Jalandhar has the highest number of vacancies (27.7%), followed by Fatehgarh Sahib (24.79 %), Patiala (23.02%) at the primary level. On the other hand, Mansa has the highest number of vacancies (37.21 %) at the middle-school level followed by Kapurthala (27.42 %).

Amritsar has the highest number of vacancies ( 20.28 %) at the high school level, while Nawanshahr tops with 54.17 per cent vacancies at the senior secondary level.

The enrolment and attendance figures are also dismal. While primary schools have 82.77 per cent attendance, middle schools have 85.82 per cent attendance. Moga has the lowest percentage at the primary level and Amritsar district has the lowest attendance figures at the middle-school level.

The percentage of attendance at the high school level is 86.24 per cent, while it is 85.29 per cent for the senior secondary level. While Amritsar district has the lowest percentage of attendance at the high-school level, Sangrur district has the lowest percentage of attendance at the senior secondary level.

As many as 29 schools were found closed for one reason or another.

Though the department has undertaken rationalisation to adjust surplus teachers in schools with staff shortage, the impact at the ground level does not seem to be there. In 144 schools, where the enrolment figures range from 80 to 258, there is either no teacher or a single teacher, while in 95 schools, where students are less than 40, two teachers are present. The varying ratio of students and teachers only shows clear mismatch.

Even as the disbursement of grants has to be 100 per cent, 293 schools have not received any grants for repair and maintenance purposes while 357 others have not received any grant for the teachers.


Delay in notifying fee costs them dear
Fresh counselling sought for PG medical courses
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
How money has triumphed over merit for admission to the high-profile postgraduation (PG) medical courses in a Punjab college has come to light.

The delay in declaring the structure for Dayanand Medical College, the only private college that runs the PG course in certain subjects, has prevented certain highly meritorious students from taking admission to the highly sought after courses.

An entrance test for admission to the PG courses was conducted by Baba Farid University of Health Sciences on May 25. No fee structure was mentioned either for government colleges or for the private ones in the notification issued for the purpose. The counselling for admission was held on July 9.

However, Dayanand Medical College, Ludhiana, in its prospectus issued before July 9, stated that the charges for admission to medicine, orthopaedic, pathology, paediatrics, dermatology, ophthalmology, ENT, radio diagnosis, anaesthesia, gynaecology and psychiatry would be Rs 5 lakh per annum while for other basic subjects such as anatomy, social preventive medicine, physiology, pharmacology etc Rs 2 lakh would be charged. For the PG diploma courses the charges were fixed at Rs 2.5 lakh. There are about 40-odd PG seats in Dayanand Medical College.

Dayanand Medical College was to make admission on the basis of counselling held by the Baba Farid university. Certain students high in the merit list were offered admission in medicine, gynaecology, paediatrics etc in Dayanand Medical College. But as they were unable to pay Rs 5 lakh per annum, they opted out, making way for others, who were lower in the merit list but had fat pockets. At least two students, who were offered medicine in Dayanand Medical College, had to take admission in Government Medical College, Amritsar, in the courses not of their preference. There were about 20 more to do so.

What shocked such students was that on July 25 the Punjab Government issued a notification announcing the fee structure for the PG courses in Dayanand Medical College in the light of the Supreme Court directions. The government fixed Rs 2.60 lakh for clinical subjects such as medicine, paediatrics orthopaedics, gynaecology, radio diagnosis etc and Rs 1.75 lakh for basic subjects while Rs 2 lakh was fixed for PG diploma courses.

Such students who could not pay Rs 5 lakh rue that had the government announced this fee structure before or on July 9, the day counselling was held, they would have got admission to the PG subjects of their choice.

The affected students say that fresh counselling should be held as, “We should not suffer because of the government’s laziness in declaring the fee structure for the private college.”


Rights panel registers case against
Punjabi University VC
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission has registered a case against Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai on a complaint by students of the varsity’s Fine Arts Department that he had violated their rights by giving exemption from reappearing in the practical examinations to former student Saru Rana.

Saru Rana, who had earlier accused ousted Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, of attempting to rape her, had been allowed to retain the marks achieved by her in the practical examinations of two papers in which she had failed in her final year of the fine arts course.

This meant that she had to give only give the theory papers again. This had been objected to by the students of the department even with Saru eventually opting out from giving the papers again.

The commission in its order has noted that the case appeared to violate Section 2 (d) of the Act as the University had given a special concession to Saru Rana and it could not do so according to the varsity calendar.

The commission noted that this violated the rights of other students and the case was fit for registration. The case has now been listed for hearing on October 30.

Saru Rana had failed in two papers in the final year examination of the fine arts degree course in April 2002. In both these subjects she had scored very high marks in the practical examination.

She had submitted an application to present Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai that she be allowed to retain the marks which she had achieved in the practical examination and give the theory papers again.

The University granted her permission for the same. However, the varsity claimed that this concession was “special to Saru Rana” only and could not be seen as a precedent for others.

Mr Boparai had claimed that this concession had been given to the former student seeing the turmoil she had undergone in the university due to no fault of her own.

Students of the Fine Arts Department had appealed to the Vice-Chancellor not to give any concession to Saru Rana.


Amarinder promises job to Gurmeet's mother
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, said today that he did not need to say anything on Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh's demand that he should apologise to the family of the boy who was killed by a cop two days back in his capacity as Home Minister.

The Chief Minister, along with his wife, Preneet Kaur, senior Congress leaders, the Deputy Commissioner and the SSP, visited the residence of the murdered boy Gurmeet near Mohindra College here this afternoon.

Capt Amarinder Singh was apparently in no mood to reply to the comments made by Mr Bir Devinder Singh in which besides asking the Chief Minister to apologise to the family he had castigated the security arrangements in the city.

Meanwhile, the Chief Minister announced that a government job would be provided to the victim's mother, Bant Kaur. He said besides this, Rs 2 lakh had been collected by deducting one-day salary from police personnel of the district which would be deposited in a fixed deposit account for the two teen-aged girls of the couple.

The Chief Minister said the police had given Rs 20,000 as monetary help to the bereaved family and the Red Cross had given Rs 10,000.

He said Rs 50,000 would also be given as ex gratia to the family.

Meanwhile, residents of Raj Colony, to which Gurmeet's parents belong, and Dhillon and New Dhillon Colony today held a meeting after the visit of the Chief Minister and said the government had not done justice to the bereaved family.

A note issued by the residents said the government should have given much more ex gratia to the family.


PCMS doctors’ plea to govt on allowance
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 3
The Punjab Civil Medical Services (PCMS) Association today urged the Punjab Government to abolish Non-Practising Allowance (NPA) of government doctors, as this anti-people, anti-patient and anti-doctor decision was the brainchild of the bureaucrats, who are insensitive to the needs of have-nots.

Dr Hardeep Singh, President, Dr Ajay Bagga, press-secretary, of the PCMS association, Dr M.L. Puri, president and Dr Sardool Singh, General Secretary of the PCMS Welfare Association, stated that the bureaucrats were trying to sabotage the anti-corruption drive of the Punjab Chief Minister.

They said that instead of acting against a handful of corrupt doctors these bureaucrats ill-advised the government to permit doctors to do private practice.

If the state could act against government teachers and professors working in private tuition centres then what was the difficulty in acting against the corrupt doctors, asked the representatives of these associations.

Dr Ajay Bagga said that 63 per cent of the participants in a survey, conducted by an independent agency revealed that government’s decision to permit its doctors to do the private practice was not good.

He said that such type of private practice is even not allowed in Himachal, Haryana and Central Government Health Services. Himachal usually follows Punjab as regards salary structure of its employees, but the Chief Minister of Hmachal has declined to grant permission to government doctors to do private practice.

Dr Bagga further revealed that even the management of a premier medical institution of Ludhiana was in the process of doing away with private practice by the doctors at their residences, as practice hampers delivery of good health services.

Dr Bagga informed that the PCMS would hold a dharna on August 5 at Chandigarh and from that day onwards, agitation would be intensified.


Paswan: Oppn to raise Talhan issue in House
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
Parliament proceedings are likely to be stalled by the Opposition tomorrow on the reported vow of the Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to construct a Ram temple at the disputed site in Ayodhya.

“We will force the government to take up the adjournment motion, for which many Opposition members, including me, have given notices to Speaker Manohar Joshi,” Lok Jantantrik Party president Ram Vilas Paswan told a press conference here today.

Mr Paswan said the Opposition would be united on the issue as was told to him by Communist Party of India-Marxist leader Somnath Chatterjee on telephone.

The LJP president said either Mr Vajpayee had forgotten what he had told in Raipur about the Ram temple a few days ago or Mr Govindacharya was right when he said the Prime Minister was only a “mask of the RSS.”

Mr Paswan also alleged that the charge of conspiracy against Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani had been dropped by influencing the CBI and the Opposition would raise the issue.

Mr Paswan said his resolution on atrocities against Dalits would also be taken up tomorrow in Parliament. The issues of Talhan and Jhajjar would be discussed if Parliament was not adjourned.

The former union minister alleged that the Haryana police had killed two Dalits in Duleena in police station and the attack on Dalits later, led by a BJP leader, was carried out to cover up that incident. He charged that none of the perpetrators of the violence in Duleena was in jail and no officer had been held guilty for the incident.

Mr Paswan said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had failed to keep his promise of ensuring representation to Dalits in the management of Baba Nihal Singh Gurdwara in Talhan.

Accusing Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati of being insincere to Dalits, Mr Paswan alleged that though she was in Jalandhar the day the Talhan incident happened, she did not visit the victims.

Accepting the foreign-origin issue of All-India Congress Committee President Sonia Gandhi coming in the way of an alliance among the opposition parties, Mr Pawan hoped that a secular democratic alliance led by the Congress would be in place before the parliamentary elections.


Timber scam: PHRC to file PIL
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
The Punjab Human Rights Committee (PHRC) has decided to file a public interest litigation (PIL) in the Punjab and Haryana High Court if the authorities concerned do not register a criminal case against Punjab State Forest Development Corporation (PSFDC), who were allegedly involved in the Rs-40 lakh timber scam.

Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, General Secretary, PHRC, said Chairperson of the PSFDC, Harbans Kaur Dullo should make arrangements for the registration of a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act against the officials, allegedly involved in the timber scam, as she had confirmed that a complaint in this regard had been received.

A scam regarding missing timber worth Rs 40 lakh from Phula, Teona and Bhisiana depots of the Bathinda division of the DSFDC came to light when its employees lodged a complaint in this connection with the Chief Minister, the Vigilance Bureau and the Forest Department. In the complaint, the employees alleged that wood worth lakhs of rupees, including pieces meant for making crates, had been missing.

Mr Gupta said in an independent inquiry, conducted by the PHRC, allegations levelled by the employees had been confirmed. Apart from it, in a departmental inquiry, some officials were found guilty of being involved in the scam.

He alleged that though inquiries had confirmed that a timber scam had taken place, the Forest Department authorities had failed to initiate any action against the guilty.

He alleged that some officials were now trying to cover up and wood was being replaced in stores to complete the stocks as per the records. He claimed that he was an eyewitness when a tractor-trailer unloaded wood at one of the stores of the department.

When contacted, the District Manager, PFDC Bathinda, denied that the timber scam was being hushed up. He said no official, who was found involved in any bungling, would be spared.


Murder accused disappears for 4 days
Vijay Mohan
Tribune News Service

Back home on day 5

According to reports received here late this evening, Satwinder has reached home. His father and brother, both who were in Chandigarh, said they had got a message on their mobile phone that Satwinder was back home in the evening, but they are yet to learn about his whereabouts during the past four days.

Chandigarh, August 3
A few hours before he was to appear before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission in a matter concerning his implication in several cases by the police, a 28-year-old resident of Amritsar has gone missing.

Satwinder Singh, alias Sanjay Kalsi, had left home around 6 am on July 30 and was supposed to meet his elder brother Mohinder Pal Singh here so that they could attend the hearing which was scheduled at 11 am.

Narrating his tale of woe, his father Pritam Singh told The Tribune this evening that his son may have been picked up by the police and that he feared that he may be liquidated. He sent telegrams in this regard to the Chairman of the PSHRC, Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab Chief Minister and the Director-General of Punjab police this morning.

Mr Pritam Singh said ever since his son was “implicated” in a murder case in March, 1999, the family was being harassed by the police. Though the other accused in the murder case were later acquitted by a sessions court, Satwinder was implicated in several other cases, including those under the NDPS Act, by a Punjab police inspector and a sub-inspector.

He said the police had taken Satwinder in custody on several occasions for interrogation and had taken away his mobile phone, money and other things. He added that the police even ransacked his house and took away gold ornaments and money.

According to a complaint filed before the commission and to the DGP, Satwinder was picked by the police twice during the past few months from the districts courts, kept in illegal custody and tortured. He had earlier spent about an year in jail before being released on bail.

Mr Pritam Singh said a sub-inspector also visited his house several times and gave him the slip containing his address and telephone numbers, saying that he could get the case against Satwinder dismissed if he was paid Rs 20,000. On an earlier occasion, the SI took away Rs 30,000 along with a few other items, he alleged.

He also maintained that he was never given any information by the police about his son’s detention or arrest. Nor was his son medically examined while in custody as is required under law.


Enough evidence against Badals: Vigilance
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 3
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau said today that it had evidence in “abundance’’ against the Badals to file a challan in court against them in the accumulation of assets disproportionate to their known sources case. The worth of the properties searched and assessed would undoubtedly run into hundreds of crores, and the details of the same would also be made available to the court along with the challan in the next two weeks.

A senior Vigilance Bureau official, who has been associated with the investigations in this case right from the beginning, told TNS that the Delhi police was not cooperating with its officials in pursuing the investigations. Their personnel were not even extending a helping hand in delivering certain letters at the residence of Mr Sukhbir Badal. The officer said that the Delhi police authorities concerned were not marking the receipt of the letters, which were to be sent through them to the Badals, in the daily roznamcha, which was otherwise required by the law.

Sources added that the Delhi police also refused to send a policeman along with the Vigilance Bureau officials to pursue the investigations with regard to the properties of the Badals in Delhi and nearby areas. While he was unable to explain the reason for the same, political pressure seemsed to have made the Delhi police turn its back on the Punjab police.

The officer, on condition of anonymity, disclosed that they had also written to various members of the Badal family seeking official details regarding revenue records of the properties, but they were not responding. Whenever the officer on duty visited their house, the attendants turned them away from outside saying that the owners were not at home, he added.

It has also been stated by the official that only last week, the Vigilance Bureau had sent a letter to Mr Sukhbir Badal seeking details along with proofs of various companies floated by them, as part of the investigations. But once again the letter had not been received by them.

Sources revealed that though the Vigilance Bureau teams had searched all properties of the Badals as per the court orders, but they had primarily focused on those properties which were either built or renovated during the tenure of Mr Parkash Singh Badal as the Chief Minister of Punjab from 1997-2002. Among these properties are House No: 256, Sector 9; SCO 54-55 in Sector 9, Orbit Resorts, Gurgaon; Balasar farm house, flat No: 23 in Delhi and the Dabwali workshop.

The officer said though some details pertaining to the assessment of the searched properties, including details about fixtures, investments made and quality of construction and costs involved were submitted in the Kharar court last week, but the estimates pertaining to the actual value of all these properties, were still being calculated with the help of technical experts such as engineers, architects and private evaluators. These would be submitted in the next eight to 10 days.

Meanwhile, sources said Mr Jagdeep Singh Nakai, a former Milkfed Chairman and sitting Akali MLA from the Joga constituency, had provided vital leads to the Vigilance about certain property deals of the Badal family.

Though Mr Nakai was arrested in a case regarding tampering with the cooperative society records to become a Director of the Dhadey village diary near Rampura Phul in Bathinda district, but the Vigilance Bureau kept asking him questions about the Badal family and his involvement in getting various property deals clinched.


A loudspeaker of contention
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 3
The sound system installed in the conference hall of the office of the Deputy Commissioner, Kapurthala, has become a bone of contention between the Deputy Commissioner and the supplier, and has sparked of serious allegations by both sides.

While the supplier Mr Joginder Pal, owner of an electric company at Balmiki Gate here alleged that he was treated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Rakesh Verma, in an inhuman manner was repeatedly humiliated by the officer, Mr Verma, maintained that Joginder Pal had failed to do his job within time and was making baseless allegations for pressurising him for early release of installation charges.

In an affidavit, Mr Joginder Pal alleged that he and his labour was humiliated by Mr Verma on June 19 when he was about to finish the installation work. “The Deputy Commissioner used abusive language against me and my workers without any reason in the presence of his staff and told me that I had not fitted the system in a proper way. When I told him that I had installed the system as per the directions, the DC got annoyed, pulled out the wiring and rubbed it under his shoes besides dubbing me as an insane person. He also ordered his men to switch off the fan and did not even allow me to take medicine. He made me stand in Yojna Bhavan for about two hours,” alleged Mr Joginder Pal.

The Deputy Commissioner, while denying the allegations, maintained that Mr Joginder Pal was resorting to pressure tactics to secure the early release of the installation charges running around Rs. 10000. “Since he did not fit the loudspeaker within time and to our satisfaction he apprehends that the payment might get delayed.

We had made payment against the equipment in advance,” said the Deputy Commissioner adding that his office had already slapped a legal notice on Mr Joginder Pal. “It is long-drawn battle now and we are going to the consumer court for redressal of our problem. He was so indifferent that we had to make frantic calls to locate him for installation of the system a day before the recent visit of the Chief Secretary to Kapurthala city,” said Mr Verma.


Cops extorting money suspended

Moga, August 3
When two police men-one head constable and the other constable in uniform posted at Balkhani police post here started checking vehicles to allegedly extort money last evening they noticed a VIP vehicle with escort piloting it and they immediately boarded their without registration number vehicles and entered the nearby Munawan village.

When the escort vehicle noticed the policemen escaping from the scene, they also followed them to the village, police sources said today.

Both policemen entered a house in the vicinity of the village and after putting off their uniforms they wore civilian clothes allegedly forcibly borrowed from the residents.

When the two police men found that a large number of people were collecting there and there was a hue and cry that some robbers had entered the village, both of them again boarded their vehicles and started speeding towards the outer ring of the village.

As both police men were under pressure and in panic they could not drive the vehicle, properly and ultimately their vehicle rammed into the village pool.

In the meantime, villagers and the VIP’s escorts persons also rushed there and dragged both of them and the villagers informed the nearby police post and heavy police force reached the spot.

DSP Nachhattar Singh assured the villagers that stern action will be taken against both the policemen, identified as Paramjit Singh head constable and Charanjit Singh, constable.

Meanwhile, Superintendent Police Harjit Singh Pannu today said that both policemen were placed under suspension and departmental inquiry had been ordered. — PTI


Prisoner alleges attack in hospital
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
Confusion prevails as Jagga, a resident of Ferozepur, a prisoner in Ferozepur jail and was admitted at Guru Teg Bahadur hospital here for treatment of his backbone, was shot at in hospital premises at 2 am last night.

The victim claimed that he was shot at by six armed persons who entered the hospital and fired at him when he was sleeping which hit his waist, however, Mr Kultar Singh, district police chief, claimed that it was all drama ‘played’ by Jagga along with other two accused for extending their parole.

Jagga Singh talking to ‘The Tribune’ said that the accused also fired at Harjinder Singh, a relative of Jagga who was present there at that time and woke up after hearing gun shot. However, he (Harjinder) escaped the shot.

Harjinder Singh said the accused were armed with pistols and sharp-edged weapon. He said when he shouted after hearing gun shots the accused fled the spot while firing two-three shots into the air.

The police has registered a case of attempt of murder against the accused persons identified as Pala Singh, Baz Singh, Gurcharan Singh, Gurbachan Singh, Balkar Singh and Sona all residents of Ferozepur.

The SSP said that the accused along with two other persons awarded life imprisonment for murdering a woman as he had some land dispute with the persons named in the above FIR. He said Jagga and Harjinder first fired on the wall and then on the waist of Jagga.

However, due blackening of skin the police officials got suspicious over the story allegedly concocted for increasing parole. After investigation the police found that the accused named by Jagga, was present in village. However, the two other persons who were also on parole were not present in their villages.


Mining contractors charging ‘illegal tax’
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 3
Mining contractors in the district are charging illegal tax from stone-crusher owners, said the president of the Bharatgarh Stone Crushers Society, Mr Harjinder Singh, at a press conference here today.

He alleged that the syndicate of contractors had taken 75 mines on contract in the district. They were entitled to levy royalty on material mined from the auctioned mines at the rates approved by the government. They could collect the royalty only at the site of the auctioned mines.

However, the contractors had erected barriers at various parts of the district. At Ghanauli contractors had erected barriers near sales tax barriers of the government. Any vehicle carrying stones, sand or earth, irrespective of the fact that whether the material was coming from the auctioned mines or from Himachal, was forced to pay illegal tax.

Vehicles brining stones to crushers at Bharatgarh from Himachal Pradesh or some other area were being forced to pay Rs 500 to Rs 600 per truck as royalty, while they were being given the receipt of Rs 100 per truck. In addition to this the contractors were forcing the owners of stone-crushers to pay royalty on prepared material. 


Case against Khalra activist condemned
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 3
The Khalra Mission Committee and other Sikh organisations of the town have condemned the registration of rape case against Mr Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Deputy Chairman, Punjab Human Rights Organisation, and have demanded the suspension of Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, SSP, Patiala, for registering a “false” case.

Mr Balwinder Singh Chabal, Mr Satwinder Singh Palasaur, Mr Jasbir Singh Padhri and other leaders of the committee and representatives of the Gurmat Parchar Sabha, the Khalsa Panchayat and the Waheguru Simran Society at a meeting here yesterday, said that the case registered against Randhawa was false and had been registered to demoralise eyewitnesses of the Khalra case, in which, Jaswant Singh Khalra, a human rights activist, had been allegedly kidnapped and killed by the local police.

The Sikh Organisations said Mr Randhawa was the prime witness in the case so the police and Mr Umranangal, who is a relative of Ajit Singh Sandhu, the then SSP of Tarn Taran, who later committed suicide by jumping over a running train, had registered this case to “teach” a lesson to human rights activists.

The Sikh Organisations said they would sit on dharna in the front of the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in case the government did not withdraw the “false” case and suspend Mr Umranangal.


Kala Afgana faces protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
Gurbakhash Singh Kala Afgana, excommunicated writer reportedly faced the wrath of Sikh ‘sangat’ in America. In a press release from California received on fax by Akal Takht, a copy of which was received by The Tribune here, today stated that a vocal protest was held against the writer at the Dera of Hardev Singh Shergill at Roseville in California today.

Kala Afgana and Gurtej Singh were allegedly invited by Shergill at his dera to drum up support for Afgana at a function. The sangat protested as Kala Afgana was invited against the directions of the ‘Hukamnamma’ by ‘Akal Takht’ which disallows calling an excommunicated person for addressing a gathering from any panthic platform besides a social boycott against him.


Theft-accused dies in police custody
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 3
Dhirender, a resident of Khuiyansarwer village near here, died in police custody last night at the District Hospital, in Sri Ganganagar, 40 km from here. Sources said the police had arrested Dhirender on Saturday afternoon for theft of a motor cycle near a private hospital, the vehicle was reportedly recovered from his possession.

After his arrest, he complained of some health problem. The police took him to the District Hospital.

Dhirender reportedly told the inquiry officer that he had been committing theft to arrange drugs for self-consumption. Two cases had been registered in the past against him at Khuyiansarwer and Sadulshehar police stations. He was granted bail in both cases.

The hospital authorities said three doctors treated Dhirender. No complaint of torture by the police was made during his stay in the hospital. Senior police officials including the SP, visited the hospital on getting the news of his death.

The records pertaining to the medical treatment were handed over to the police late last night. The police claimed that Dhirender was never tortured and probably faced serious problem if the required quantity of the drug was not served to him. Moreover, the victim spent maximum time in the hospital after his arrest, it added.


Govt flayed for not fulfilling promises
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 3
The All-India Confederation of SC/BC/ST Organisations, Punjab, today alleged that the Punjab Government had insulted the Supreme Court and Parliament by not implementing the 85th Amendment in the Constitution despite a direction being issued to it by the Supreme Court in November 2002.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Jasbir Singh Pal, president of the organisation, alleged that the Congress government had failed to fulfil promises made to the Scheduled Castes during the last Assembly elections.

He added that the welfare schemes for the Scheduled Castes had been closed, and the backlog of vacancies not cleared. He said if the state government did not take corrective steps, the Congress would have to pay a heavy price in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.


Sawan Ashtami fair begins
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 3
Annual pilgrimage for the Holy Shrine of Goddess Chhin Mastika Chintpurni on the occasion of Sawan Ashtami fair started yesterday. A virat shakti sammelan was organised at local Kanak Mandi Chowk where various Durga Sankirtan Mandals from all over Punjab recited kirtan. More than 12 local Sankirtan Mandals took out processions through main bazaars of the city to reach the venue of virat shakti sammelan for their participation. All bazaars were decorated and illuminated to mark the celebration. Stalls of various edibles and soft drinks at different crossings were arranged on this occasion.

Pilgrims from Punjab, Haryana, Delhi, etc. are going to Chintpurni by buses, trucks, cars and twowheelers etc. Thousands of pilgrims are going on foot to pay obeisance on this occasion in the temple of Chhin Mastika. Langars have been arranged on the way of the Holy Shrine from Hoshiarpur to Chintpurni. The fair will continue for seven days.


Withdraw tax on CSD items, says ex-servicemen
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 3
“Chief Minister Amarinder Singh is playing in the hands of bureaucrats, who wanted the withdrawal of concession on Canteen Store Department (CSD) items or provision of a similar concession,” said Brig Mohinder Singh (retd.), president of the All-India Ex-services League, at a press conference, here today.

He said the recent decision to levy sales tax on CSD items had harmed defence personnel despite the Chief Minister himself being a retired Armyman.

He said there was resentment amongst ex-servicemen as well as serving armymen. There were about six lakh ex-servicemen and about 15 to 20 lakh serving soldiers in Punjab at present.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, he urged him to review the decision.


No one to the aid of mentally challenged

Tarn Taran, August 3
Neither his parents nor any NGO has come for the rescue of this mentally challenged 13-year-old child, who lost his way and wandered into Aladinpur village, 5 km from here, about two weeks ago.

Mr Mukhtar Singh Aladinpur, president of the FCI Palledar Workers’ Union, Amritsar, and resident of this village, told this correspondent yesterday that the child was found sleeping on a roadside and cannot speak. Most of the time, he is seen running after vehicles. Mr Mukhtar Singh said they had informed many about the child but no one had come forward to claim him. He said though villagers were looking after the child, but the administration or some NGO should take the child in its care.


MP issues grants for 2,027 schemes
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 3
The Member of Parliament from Hoshiarpur, Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, said here today that he had issued grants for 2,027 schemes covering 775 streets and drains, 593 dharamshalas, 161 cremation grounds, 264 schools and colleges, 142 community centres, 25 culverts/ bridges/ causeways/ tubewells, 32 stadiums and clubs, 35 juvenile homes/ old age homes/ gowshalas/ solar lights schemes, etc. He claimed that the work on a majority of these schemes had been completed.

Mr Channi said that his party was formulating a comprehensive programme for extending more powers to panchayats, and this would be inaugurated formally by the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi, in September or October.


Seminar on diarrhoea
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 3
As many as 60 children specialists from the Doaba region participated in a seminar on “Diarrhoea in Children” organised by Punjab chapter of Indian Academy of Pediatrics here today.

Dr S.K. Sinha of the PGI Chandigarh emphasised that despite availability of various medicines to tackle diarrohoea, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS) was still the mainstay for treating the patients. Others, who spoke include secretary of the IAP Dr Anil Sud.


Families of Kargil martyrs honoured

Phagwara, August 3
The families of seven martyrs of the Kargil conflict were honoured at an impressive function, organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal here today. Mr Inder Iqbal Singh, MLA, was the chief guest at the function.

The families which were honoured were of Maj Kanwal, Maj Gulzar Singh, Maj Raman Dada, Capt Mandeep Harry, Capt Kulwinder Singh, Daljit Singh and Gian Singh Bhungarni. — UNI


Rs 780 support price for paddy sought
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 3
Mr Jaskaran Singh Kahan Singhwala, General Secretary, SAD (A), today demanded Rs 780 per quintal as support price for paddy.

Talking to newsmen here, Mr Kahan Singhwala rejected the MSP of paddy as Rs 550 for common and Rs 580 for ‘A’ grade categories of paddy announced by the Union Government on July 30. He criticised the government for not announcing the MSP of sugarcane and basmati. Farmers and youth were suffering under the BJP led NDA government alleged Mr Jaskaran Singh. Proceedings of Parliament were being stalled by the ruling alliance itself for shielding the corrupt Badals, he rued. We reject this approach of the BJP and Akalis, he declared.

He asked Captain Amarinder Singh government to shed dithering vis-a-vis Badal and take action at the earliest against the SAD president Parkash Singh Badal if he had proof of the Rs 3500 crore worth of wealth amassed by the Badals. If the Punjab government soft pedalled on taking action against Badals under the pressure of the Centre, then its crusade against corruption would end up a damp squib and government would fail, he continued.

He also took to task Mr G.S. Tohra for deserting Akal Takht, and his stance against corruption just for the sake of SGPC Presidentship.


Three arrested for theft, fraud
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 3
The police has arrested Joginder Singh and Parshad of Ajula Pahtak near the town for theft in a shop near Ajula Pahtak on July 25. The police also recovered stolen goods from them. A case under Section 457/380 of the Indian Penal Code was registered in this connection.

In another case the police has arrested Tirath Singh of Phiali village falling under Sadar police station for fraud case in districts of Hanumangarh, Suratgarh and Ganganagar in Rajasthan and Kapurthala district for preparing fake documents of vehicles. The police recovered fake stamps and a fake registration certificate or scooter number (DP-09-3856) which had been prepared on wrong address from him. He got a scooter financed from finance company in Jalandhar on his fake name Sohan Singh son of Ujagar Singh of village Kahlwan, Jalandhar district.

Dr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police said Tirath Singh purchased the scooter from finance company on fake names and after preparing fake registration certificate to sold scooter further. He told the police during interrogation he purchased truck, Summo, jeep and other vehicles by issuing fake drafts in Rajasthan but latter was arrested but was absconding in various cases pending in courts in Rajasthan.


Fake currency racket busted

Moga, August 3
The Punjab Police today claimed to have busted a counterfeit currency notes racket with the arrest of six of the nine members of a gang operating in Moga and Ludhiana districts for the past two years.

The accused were identified as Devinder Singh, kingpin of the gang from Ludhiana, Harjinder Singh, Jagmohan Singh, Avtar Singh, Jadesh Lal and Sukhchain Singh (all from Moga).

The other three members who are absconding included Avtar Singh of Ramma in Moga district, Sarwan Singh Bir Sikhanwala (Faridkot) and Jugraj Singh of Ramoonwala Kalan (Moga). The police took into possession counterfeit currency notes worth Rs 9,200 in the denominations of Rs 500, Rs 100 and Rs 50. — PTI


Seven arrested for graft
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 3
The Punjab Vigilance Department has arrested seven officials of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation for selling wheat worth Rs 1.25 crore from godowns of the Corporation and pocketing the proceeds. Cases have been registered against 37 other employees of the Corporation also.

The officials — R.K. Jain, Ranbir Singh, Gurmail Singh, Gurnam Singh, Baljinder Singh, J.P. Kakaria and I.B. Tewari were produced before a court here yesterday and have been remanded in to police custody till August 4. A case had been registered against them under Sections 409, 120 (b) of the IPC and Sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

According to the FIR, good quality wheat had been sold to private persons by the officials and in place of this inferior wheat was presently stored in the godowns.

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