Thursday, August 7, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Clear-cut policy awaited
Absenteeism, poor results in schools
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Punjab Government is yet to come out with a clear-cut policy on checking absenteeism in rural and border schools, poor results and a high dropouts rate.

The absymal plight of elementary school education in Punjab was exposed in a random survey conducted by the Education Department in 216 blocks of 17 districts in May.

Admitting the falling standard of education, Ms Tejinder Kaur, Principal Secretary, School Education, Punjab, expressed helplessness in taking action against a majority of the erring school heads and teachers.

The service rules, she lamented, were such that these made it very difficult to take drastic measures against those staying away from their schools without taking leave or sub-letting their jobs at meagre salaries.

Ms Tejinder Kaur said, “It is not easy to fire a government employee in any department and even suspension in most cases is treated as a light punishment.” Under the rules, an employee continues to get 50 or 75 per cent of his/her salary during the period of suspension . She or he in most cases as reinstated after six months. This only makes the entire exercise futile.”

The only way to check the trend was to conduct regular inspections. A schedule listing the number of inspections by the Block Primary Education Officer ( BPEO) right up to the Secretary level had been prepared.

Each BPEO had to undertake 40 inspections per month, the Deputy District Education Officers (DEOs) and the DEOs have to conduct 30 inspections each, while the Circle Education Officer (CEO) and DPI (schools) 20, each and the Secretary, School Education, 15 inspections.

To check the problem of absenteeism, Ms Tejinder Kaur said she wanted to introduce identity cards for the schoolteachers so that the defaulters could be detected. These cards should be with them while on duty. The final decision was yet to be taken by the government in this connection.

About action against school heads and teachers, for poor results in various board examinations conducted by the Punjab School Education Board, Ms Tejinder Kaur advocated posting of such teachers to bar-off places, besides adverse entries in their service records.

Mr V.K. Singh, Special Secretary, School Education, was unable to explain the reason for the high percentage of dropouts. The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had pointed out that the dropout rate in government schools was about 34 per cent. Steps were being taken under the ambitious Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan to make education available to all at affordable rates, the Chief Minister said, revealing that 900-odd centres had been set up in those towns and villages, where the number of school dropouts was as high as 100 children or more.


Rights panel intervenes in murder case
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has intervened suo motu in the infamous Patiala case in which two drunken cops of Punjab police shot dead an 11-year-old boy on August 1 and has held that “there is a prima facie gross violation of human rights when a human soul has been lost at the hands of the protectors of the law for a petty cause”.

Mr Justice R.L. Anand, Member, (PSHRC) in his nine-page order dated August 4, said that “the manner in which the murder had taken place cannot be appreciated, rather it shocks the human conscience. Be that as it may, the commission at this juncture does not want to comment further lest it may prejudice the investigation and the ultimate verdict of the court when the report under Section 173, Code of Criminal Procedure, shall be submitted by the police against the accused. The commission is only concerned with the aspect of violation of human rights”.

The commission was “also prima facie of the opinion that the amount of ex gratia (Rs 50,000) is not commensurate with the sufferings which have been suffered by the family of the deceased and which are likely to be suffered in future. Therefore, the commission recommends to the state government for the release of interim compensation of at least Rs 1 lakh so that some succour may be provided to the family of the deceased. The commission would also like to know whether the offer of ex gratia given by the Chief Minister and the amount of contribution agreed to be given by the local police, has been paid or deposited with the parents of the deceased who have lost their sole male issue”.

The commission asked SSP, Patiala and DIG, Patiala Range, Patiala, through Principal Secretary, Home and I.G. Police, Litigation, to submit a detailed report of all the circumstances in which the murder had been committed. The authorities shall also send the copy of the FIR to the commission for appraisal.

The next date for hearing was fixed on September 23, 2003.

The commission noted that the murder had created a lot of stir in the print and electronic media. Politicians and bureaucrats made various statements over this incident consoling the family and, so much so, a noble gesture was shown by the local police administration of Patiala vide which it was resolved that the police of Patiala district shall contribute one day’s salary to the family of the deceased. From the government level too, a statement was made that the mother of the deceased would be provided a government job besides a compensation of Rs 50,000.

“Is all this enough?” Justice Anand asked.

The commission also learnt through the print media that a case under Section 302, Indian Penal Code, has been registered against the culprits with regard to the murder of young boy. The commission appreciated the gesture shown by the Chief Minister in consoling the family of the deceased and also giving some assurances in the shape of monetary benefits. The questions which survived for the commission to determine are:

“Whether the impugned act on the part of the culprits is not a violation of human rights?”

“Whether there is any substitute to human life. Is it not a gross violation on the part of the culprits even if they have been booked by the local police on a charge of murder?”

“Is the compensation and the contributions given by the government and the police enough?”


Jagjit Chauhan for early SGPC poll
Serves notices on Centre, Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Khalistan ideologue Jagjit Singh Chauhan today served legal notices on the Central and Punjab Governments for holding elections to the SGPC, which completed its five-year term in 2001.

Mr Chauhan said the government should appoint an administrator for the SGPC till its elections were held.

“This is an out-dated committee and should be barred from taking important decisions,” Mr Chauhan said.

Mr Chauhan who floated the Khalsa Raj Party a year ago, said there was need for setting up a Sikh Gurdwara Vigilance Commission to check nepotism and corruption in the SGPC.

The party would call a convention on October 18 and October 19 at Tanda-Umar to finalise the names of members for the commission after consulting various Panthic leaders and intelligentsia.

Mr Chauhan said if there was no response to the notices, he would approach the Punjab and Haryana High Court and start an agitation.

The Khalsa Raj Party chief said though Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was the best bet at the moment, he had not been able to give any push to development. Mr Chauhan repeatedly lashed out at Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr G.S. Tohra.

He blamed Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Parkash Singh Badal, intelligence agencies and the police for violence at the peak of militancy in Punjab.

Mr Chauhan demanded that elections to the SGPC should be held regularly as in case of Parliament state Assemblies and even panchayats. He accused the Akalis of spreading drug addiction, alleging that they had been distributing poppy husk during elections.

He alleged that a lot of money changed hands in the purchase of cloth for ‘siropas’ and ghee.


8 lakh sehajdharis on draft of SGPC poll rolls
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Eight lakh “sehajdhari Sikhs” figure on the draft of the revised electoral rolls prepared by the Gurdwara Election Commission, a Union Government organisations, to conduct Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) general elections.

As many as 62 lakh persons have been enrolled as voters in the revised draft of voter lists, which will be published in November, once the process of entertaining the claims and objections is completed by August 22. In the unrevised voter lists, the number of voters was 52 lakh.

The number of voters has gone down in Chandigarh. As many as 58 lakh persons have been registered as voters in Punjab, 3.5 lakh in Haryana, 24,000 in Himachal Pradesh and 16,000 in Chandigarh. The number of Chandigarh voters was higher in the unrevised electoral rolls, said an official of the commission. Of the 24,000 enlisted voters in Himachal Pradesh, 32 per cent are sehajdahris Sikhs.

An official of the commission said, “We have enlisted sehajdhari Sikhs as voters because no restriction has been imposed by the Union Government in this connection”. It is clear from the revised voter lists that sehajdharis will be entitled to vote in the SGPC elections.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and other senior Akali leaders had recently claimed that sehajdharis would be denied voting rights in the SGPC general elections by getting the necessary notification issued from the Union Government. “We have received no such notification from the Union Government till date”, said the commission official.

The Union Government has also not lowered the age from 21 to 18 years for enlisting new voters. In the revised draft, those having attained 21 years of age have been enrolled as voters.

Sources said the commission was ready to conduct SGPC elections in January next. The final voter lists would be published by the end of November. Fifty days’ time would be required to complete other formalities.

The elections were due to be held in October, 2001. However, the then SAD-BJP government in Punjab had dithered on the issue because of the split between SAD President Parkash Singh Badal and SGPC chief, Gurcharan Singh Tohra. As Mr Badal’s party was an ally of the BJP, the Union Government did not insist on holding SGPC elections.

It now seems that Mr Badal and Mr Tohra will support the holding of elections in January. A total of 170 members are elected from the region to the SGPC House. Of these, 120 seats are in the general category, 30 for women and 20 for Scheduled Castes. Another 15 members are co-opted in the House.


Gajinder re-elected Dal Khalsa chief
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 6
The Dal Khalsa, a radical organisation which was allegedly involved in the hijacking of an Indian plane to Lahore, in protest against the arrest of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale in 1981, today elected Mr Harcharanjit Singh Dhami as its working president in the absence of Mr Gajinder Singh, who has been given a two-year extension as president.

The delegate convention of the Dal Khalsa held here in a gurdwara to mark its silver jubilee re-elected Mr Gajinder Singh, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in Pakistan for the 1981 hijack. He is living in Pakistan.

The message of Mr Gajinder Singh was read at the convention. It urged the need to build a strong and disciplined organisation that could take up the cause of the Panth.

The delegates adopted the revised constitution of the Dal Khalsa, which reiterated its commitment to continue with its struggle to achieve self-rule for Sikhs to preserve their cultural, traditional and religious identity.

The Dal Khalsa chief spokesman, Mr Kanwar Pal Singh, said the organisation was formed in 1978 at Chandigarh to combat the onslaught of Nirankaris and the then Congress government.

“The dal came into limelight when its five members hijacked an Indian plane to Lahore to protest the arrest of Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale on September 29, 1981. All five hijackers, including president of the Dal Khalsa Gajinder Singh, were sentenced to life imprisonment in Pakistan. The Indian Government slapped a ban on the organisation that lapsed in 1992”, he further said.

The dal revived its activities in 1998 with a resolve to carry on with its struggle for freedom through democratic means, he added. He said the dal would participate in the forthcoming general election of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC).


Govt interference affecting SGPC-run colleges,
says Tohra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 6
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today expressed his dismay over the state government’s decision to curtail the powers of SGPC managements running medical and dental colleges. The SGPC, in a press note, has lashed out against bureaucratic interference into the working of educational institutions and creation of a difficult financial situation affecting their functioning.

According to sources, in case the SGPC-run institutions adopt the new fee structure notified by the government, they were likely to run a huge deficit running into crores of rupees. The medical and dental colleges have already started their academic sessions and to change the admission rules now would adversely affect the credibility of the SGPC institutions, the sources added.

Mr Tohra said he was pained by the approach adopted by the government. It was threatening the managements of Guru Ram Das Medical and Dental Colleges that it would withdraw their affiliations and de-recognise these colleges. He said the government had virtually declared a war on Sikh educational institutions.

Mr Tohra said the SGPC educational institutions enjoy a minority status and the government was trying to hit the colleges financially by imposing new rules and regulations. He said a government notification dated July 25, 2003, had made drastic changes in the admission criteria in these colleges by reducing the NRI and management quota from 15 per cent to 7.5 per cent. It also imposes admission norms on the PMET merit basis.


Check on dharam prachar funds likely
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 6
At the meeting of the Dharam Prachar Committee presided over by the SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, a proposal to control expenses was proposed here today. This would directly affect employees and those who applied for funds for upgradation of gurdwaras, schools, colleges, memorials and other aid from the dharam prachar funds.

The committee, according to sources, would be saving about Rs 1 crore every quarter after the implementation of this decision.

The meeting was also attended by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary chief secretary, SGPC, Mr Kharak Singh and Giani Gurdit Singh, both members from Chandigarh, Mr Santvir Singh from Moga and others.

The step to streamline expenses of dharam prachar funds had been effected to pool resources for forthcoming celebrations on the occasion of fourth centenary of Guru Granth Sahib.


Schoolboy fires at teenaged girl, attempts suicide
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 6
A schoolboy made an attempt on the life of a teenaged girl of the same village, then tired to commit suicide today.

Ms Harjit Kaur, daughter of Mr Surjit Singh, a resident of Dalmeerkhera village, near here, was accompanying her aunt, Ms Balwinder Kaur, to bus-stop to catch a bus for Abohar. They were to go to Moga.

Two schoolboys of the same village allegedly chased them on a Yamaha motor cycle. As they intercepted the girl, her aunt warned them. One of the boys Dilbagh Singh allegedly took out a revolver and handed it over to the other boy Monu. Ms Balwinder Kaur said that Monu fired a shot at Harjit Kaur but she swiftly turned, apprehending trouble. However, a bullet hit her on the right side. A bleeding Harjit fell unconscious. Monu, assuming that the girl had died, reportedly targeted the revolver on his head and pressed the trigger. The bullet pierced through his head, causing a pool of blood.

On hearing the shots villagers rushed to the site. Both injured youngsters were brought to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital here. As the condition of Monu was serious, he was taken to Ludhiana.

Doctors removed six splinters from Harjit’s body. Her parents said that Harjit had stopped going to the government school in the village after completing her matriculation. However, Dilbagh Singh and Monu continued their studies in senior secondary classes. The parents of the girl were unable to understand the reason behind the boys’ action.


New Akali Dal draws up constitution
Lalit Mohan

Nangal, August 6
Leaders of the new Akali Dal formed recently under the presidentship of Mr Ravi Inder Singh today chalked out the programme and constitution of the party after being served ‘amrit’ (baptised) in Gurdwara Gurplah Sahib, near here.

In a press conference held later, Mr Ravi Inder Singh, with flowing beard and kirpan hanging around his shoulders, said he had really assumed the charge of president of the new Akali Dal today after the baptisation ceremony. The new Akali Dal adopted the constitution of the dal formed in 1920. According to that constitution, only a baptised Sikh could become an office-bearer of the party. Seventyfive main members of the newly formed dal were also served ‘amrit’ at the gurdwara.

Keeping in view the alleged “hegemony” of Mr P.S. Badal over SAD, the meeting decided that no president of the party could continue for more than two years. He would have to take a break before being re-elected president.

It was also decided that neither the party president nor any of his family members could contest any other election. The party president would be morally bound to the 10-member religious Akal Council headed by Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi.

He said that a 21-member working committee of the new Akali Dal would be announced at Harmandar Sahib on August 10. It had decided to divide Punjab into three zones — Patiala, including Ropar, Ludhiana and Fatehgarh districts, Bathinda zone, including Ferozepore, Sangrur, Mansa and Muktsar districts, and the Amritsar zone comprising the Majha area.

On August 15, a meeting of the Patiala zone would be held in Patiala to motivate the Akalis against Mr Prakash Singh Badal. A similar meeting would be held at Bathinda on October 26 and in Amritsar in November.


VHP to distribute ‘sankalp sootras’
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 6
The Vishwa Hindu Parishd (VHP) will distribute two crore “sankalp sootras” at functions to be held across the country during this and the next month. This was stated here this evening at a press conference by the VHP’s national secretary, Mr Vinayak Rao Desh Pandey, after a state-lavel meeting of the parishad.

Mr Desh Pandey said the sacred threads, brought especially after a puja at the Ram Janmabhoomi in Ayodhya, would be tied as holy bracelets around the wrists of supporters during functions to be held in the rural and urban areas nationwide for a religio-social upsurge for building the Ram mandir.

It would be a kind of relay project, he said, in which people in the place or the village where those threads were given would pass these on to other places for carrying on the torch of the movement, he said. Four thousand functions would be held in Punjab in this connection, he added.


SDM threatened, seeks security
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, August 6
The Garshankar SDM, Mr Nirbhai Singh, has demanded security after allegedly being “threatened” by an advocate and head of the Bar Council of Garshankar.

In a complaint to the police, Mr Nirbhai Singh, has alleged that the advocate, Mr Shiv Kumar Bhatti, barged into his official residence after pushing aside his security guard at around 7.50 last night and threatened him with dire consequences. Mr Bhatti, according to Mr Nirhbhai Singh, was annoyed over his refusal to grant him permission to install a chamber in the courts complex.

When the SDM told him that he would send his report to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Bhatti got infuriated and misbehaved with him and threatened him with dire consequences. Fearing threat to his life, the SDM has demanded a security cover.

Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Hoshiarpur Deputy Commissioner, said the police had been apprised of the incident and a case registered against the advocate.

Ms Gurpreet Deo, Hoshiarpur SSP, said a case under Sections 123, 353, 186 and 506 of the IPC had been registered against Mr Bhatti.


Ex gratia to bereaved family raised
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
The Punjab Government has decided to raise the ex gratia relief being given to the family of the young boy who was shot dead by a cop in the city recently to Rs 1 lakh from Rs 50,000 announced earlier.

This was disclosed by Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla yesterday. Mr Singla, who visited the bereaved family, at its residence near Mohindra College, yesterday, said he had talked to the Chief Minister on telephone after a plea from family members and relatives that the ex gratia relief was less than expected.

Mr Singla said the Chief Minister immediately acceded to the request and the necessary instructions in this regard were issued by the government. He said besides this, the government was also committed to provide a government job to Ms Bant Kaur, mother of the boy.

Meanwhile, SSP Paramraj Singh Umranangal in a press note issued here said all officers, including Station House Officers (SHOs) were directed to undertake vigorous checking of all checkpoints as well as patrolling parties.

He said departmental action, which could also amount to dismissal from service, would be taken against all police personnel accused of dereliction of duty or misconduct.

He said the police force of the district, which had already donated its one-day pay to the bereaved family amounting to Rs 2.20 lakh, would also make contributions for the marriage of the two teenaged daughters of the couple who had lost their son in the tragedy. Meanwhile, former minister and Shiromani Akali Dal general secretary Capt Kanwaljit Singh visited the bereaved family.


Baba fails to revive snakebite victim
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 6
In this age of science and technology, some people are still sunk in superstitions. Family members of a youth, Jagjit Singh, alias Ladi, who died of a snakebite at the nearby Dosanjhkalan village on Monday, requisitioned the services of an “ojha” and self-styled ‘wonder baba’ (chamatkari baba) in the hope of getting the dead Ladi resurrected here last night.

The body of Ladi was kept in the mortuary of the local Civil Hospital. The grieving family members who had been told by someone that a “tantrik” of Pandori village Jagir Rawal Singh could resurrect persons who had died of snakebite called the baba. He first inspected the body and the place where Ladi was bitten by the snake at Dosanjhkalan, eyewitnesses said today. He claimed that he had hypnotised the snake and would summon it at Phagwara hospital for sucking back its venom from the dead youth after which he would become alive again.

The “ojha” got the body of Ladi out of the mortuary and placed it outside. He prostrated on the ground and then started crawling like a reptile, claiming that the “culprit” snake had been summoned and it had “entered” into him, i.e. Ojha. He crawled up to the body and started chanting mantras in the presence of the public, police, patients and hospital staff. He lit up a “dhoop-agarbatti”. After “keelna” (hypnotising) the snake, the Bihari baba started rubbing oil over the body and massaging it while chanting mantras for nearly four hours. The relatives of Ladi and surging public waited anxiously for the miracle to happen.

At one time, the Goraya police intervened, but “ojha” asked for two hours more. When Ladi could not be resurrected till about midnight, the police put its foot down and took the “ojha” into his custody, bringing the drama to an end.

When asked how this was allowed to happen in the Civil Hospital, Dr Subhash Sharma, SMO, said after the post-mortem, the body became the property of the police even though it was kept in the hospital mortuary. The emergency duty doctor had informed the police about the activities of the “ojha”, he said. The family members of the deceased wanted to take a “chance” even though they were told that the youth was “one thousand per cent” dead and could not be resurrected by any baba or ojha, added Dr Sharma.


Panchayat, gurdwara panel lock horns 
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 6
The gurdwara committee of Bhagwanpura village and the gram panchayat have locked horns over the taking over of the gurdwara land by the village panchayat.

Dildar Singh, president of the gurdwara committee, told this correspondent here yesterday that the panchayat had started the construction of a sports stadium on the said land which had been under control of the gurdwara for decades. Mr Dildar Singh alleged that the record of the land in question had been tampered with and held the halqa patwari and other revenue officials responsible for it.

The gurdwara committee has demanded that action should be taken against the halqa patwari and other officials responsible for tampering with the records.

On the other hand Mr Gurmej Singh, sarpanch, said the panchayat had given the land to the dharamshala for which the gurdwara committee claimed to be the representative.


Gurdwara panel invites objections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
The Gurdwara Election Commission, a Union Government organisation, yesterday issued a programme seeking claims and objections in respect of the revised draft of electoral rolls prepared to conduct the SGPC elections.

Mr Gurdev Singh, Secretary of the commission, said such claims and objections could be filed till August 22.


Gate rally by coop bank employees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Thousands of employees of the Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank are on the warpath for the past over four months against the state government’s decision to cut down their salaries. As part of their agitation, they staged gate rallies today during lunch time in front of their respective head offices and branches all over Punjab.

Addressing a gate rally here, Mr Bua Singh, General Secretary, Cooperative Banks Employees Federation, Punjab said: “The employees are protesting against the implications of the letter issued by Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Punjab, dated April 17, 2003, vide which pay scales of employees of both banks — Punjab State Cooperative Agricultural Development Bank and Punjab State Cooperative Banks — have been reduced substantially.”


Candlelight vigil at Wagah on Aug 14
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 6
Continuing with its peace initiative, the Hind Pak Dosti Manch will observe candlelight vigil at Wagah on the Indo-Pak border on August 14. An eight-member Pakistan MPs’ delegation will also participate in the function to boost the track II peace diplomacy.

Addressing a press conference here today, the general secretary of the manch, Mr Satnam Manak, said eight MPs of Pakistan had confirmed their participation in the event to support the peace initiative undertaken by the manch.

“The main purpose to hold candlelight vigil at the Wagah border is to express the desire of Indians to forge people-to-people contacts to ensure permanent peace in the SAARC region. It is a matter of great concern that both the neighbouring countries are facing unemployment and lack of health and education at the grassroot level,” he said, adding that only peace could bring prosperity to the two countries.


Restore powers, says Trust chief
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, has urged the chairmen of other improvement trusts of the state to come on a common platform to work out a strategy to get back those powers which were given to the chairmen under the Punjab Town Improvement Trust Act 1922 but were withdrawn by the local bodies department.

In a letter sent to all chairmen of improvement trusts of Punjab today, Mr Gill pointed out that at present, the chairmen were unable to serve the people as their powers, given under the Act, were withdrawn by the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, a few months ago. He urged the chairmen to hold a meeting to work out a strategy to deal with the situation and to apprise the state government of the matter.

He added that “powerless” chairmen had been finding it difficult to take a decision in connection with the engaging of lawyers for contesting court cases, as same powers had been lying with the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab, now. He added that now the secretary, Local Bodies, had issued a letter that any decision taken by any improvement trust by passing a resolution could not be implemented until he or she confirmed that resolution. He pointed out that this order of the Secretary, Local Bodies, showed that only those decisions could be implemented which would be approved by him or her.

He said that the power of the chairmen of improvement trusts to allow deviation from the sanctioned site plan and to allot surplus area to those allottees, which was adjacent to their respective plots, had also been taken away by the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab.


Vigilance Dept arrests 4 civic officials
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 6
In a major crackdown on civic officials, the District Vigilance Department has arrested Tarsem Lal, Executive Officer, now posted at Morinda Municipal Corporation, Harbans Raj, sectional officer, Dharmpal, former president and Rajinder Kumar contractor, Nagar Panchayat, Khamano, in an alleged corruption case. They would be presented in the local court tomorrow.

Giving the details Mr Paramjit Singh Khaira, DSP (Vigilance), said the department on a complaint that the sub standard and below specification material was being used in various ongoing developmental projects in Khamano and contractors in connivance with officials as well as the president were misappropriating money. He said an enquiry was conducted and during investigation it was found that bogus bills worth Rs 35,145 were passed. He said a case under Sections 409, 467, 468, 477A, 120B, 13 (1) D of the IPC had been registered against them. Mr Khaira said that the accused would be presented in the court tomorrow and their police remand would be sought, so that more recoveries could be made and they could be interrogated properly.


Structures demolished to widen road
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
The Municipal Corporation authorities today pulled down about 10 commercial and residential structures on the Santpura road to make its width as sanctioned in the town planning scheme of that area.

Mr Kamal Kant Goyal, Executive Officer, Municipal Corporation, said notices for the demolition were issued to the owners of the buildings which were demolished today. He added that the demolition work went on smoothly as the official met with no resistance.

He said the Santpura road would be connected with the Bathinda-Goniana Road and then to the Barnala bypass road to divert heavy traffic on that section and ease the traffic bottlenecks in the city.


MLA for police reform committee
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, August 6
The Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, today demanded the constitution of a police reforms committee by the government to improve the standard of recruitment of the police.

Stating that incidents like the Banur killings and the recent death of a 11 year old tea boy at the hands of two policemen at Patiala point towards the falling standard of policing in the state, Mr Bir Devinder Singh said the government should downsize the 2000 policemen employed for VIP security.

“Most of these securitymen are doing nothing except accompanying the boss’s children to schools and colleges and are also getting increasingly involved in various crimes,” he said.

Clarifying his stand on the issue of demanding an apology from the Chief Minister to the family of the 11-year-old tea boy accidently killed by two policemen in Patiala last week, the MLA said he had not demanded an apology but simply requested the Chief Minister to show his sympathy with the grieving family and share their pain.


Murder case solved
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 6
The Nathana police of this district has claimed to have solved the mystery of the murder of Bhola Singh, resident of Nathpura village, who was killed while he was sleeping at his farm on July 31.

The police said Balwinder Singh, alias Baggad, murdered Bhola Singh. It added that when Baggad was questioned after he was arrested, he confessed to his crime. 


Higher compensation may deter other
dowry seekers
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
Compensation in dowry death cases should be “sufficient to deter other dowry seekers from exploiting the position they found themselves in with regard to the bride’s family,” a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled in a significant judgement.

Pronouncing the orders on a bunch of appeals filed in a dowry death case by the state of Punjab and the accused, the Bench, comprising, Mr Justice Amar Dutt and Mr Justice K.S. Garewal, also ruled that the “fine imposed was highly inadequate in dowry death cases where the complainant’s family had lost a daughter”.

The Judges also enhanced the fine imposed on a Ludhiana-based husband, accused of being involved in a dowry death case, from Rs 2,000 to Rs 2,00,000. The Judges added that the fine, if realised, should be paid to the victim’s father, who was also the complainant in the case.

The judgement is significant as, according to high court advocates, the directions to enhance the fine in dowry death cases would go a long way in discouraging the dowry seekers. They add that the law should be modified to enhance the amount of fine like in drug trafficking cases.

In their detailed order, the Judges held: “Though no amount of compensation may be adequate, but the same should be sufficient to deter other dowry seekers.... As to the amount of adequate compensation, it would be an open question and may necessarily involve some speculation”.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Dutt asserted: “The complainant has assessed that he had spent about Rs 2,00,000 in cash in the marriage. While fixing the fine, we feel that one should bear in mind the stakes for which the accused were playing the game”.

The Judge added: “In our opinion, the fine has to be enhanced to Rs 2,00,000.... If the husband fails to pay the fine, he would undergo further rigorous imprisonment for one year”.

The husband, along with his father and mother, was earlier booked by the police for dowry death and other offences under Sections 304-B, 498-A, 406 of the Indian Penal Code after the wife died due to poisoning. The marriage had taken place on February 25, 1996.

Claiming to have been implicated in the case, the accused had asserted that they were innocent. When confronted with the incriminating evidence against them, they had denied the allegations.

After hearing the arguments in the case and going through the documents, Ludhiana’s Sessions Judge had acquitted the father and the mother-in-law on January 22, 2001. The husband was, however, convicted under Section 304-B of the IPC and sentenced to 10 years rigorous imprisonment.


High Court
Govt directed to give arrears in 6 months
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 6
A Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today allowed a petition filed by 1121 serving and retired technicians alleging that the state of Punjab had created a class among the same category of employees by not granting pay scale given to the petitioners in another case.

Delivering the verdict, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice Ashutosh Mohunta, also directed the respondents to give the arrears within six months.

Orders reserved

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) today informed the high court that adequate security was required to be provided to Gurvinder Singh Samra — complainant in a bribery case registered against two judicial officers.

Describing him as an “important witness” in the case, standing counsel for the CBI added that the agency was aware of some instances where threat to Samra’s life had emerged.

After going through the documents, a Division Bench of the high court reserved orders on Samra’s petition for security cover.


Sagar deposes against Sidhu
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
The District and Sessions Judge today recorded the chief statement of Prem Sagar, who is accused of acting as a tout for former Pubjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu. He accused the former Chairman of not recruiting anyone without taking bribe money.

Sagar said he used to hand over money given to him by prospective candidates who wanted to get recruited to various posts advertised by the PPSC to a close associate of Sidhu — Randhir Singh Dheera. He said Dheera used to hand over the money to Sidhu. In his statement to the court, Sagar said the former Chairman did not oblige anyone and that even he could not get hsi son-in-law selected to the PCS because he could not give the money demanded for the same.

The accused claimed that Dheera was the main person who used to collect money to be given to Sidhu as a bribe.

The cross-examination of Sagar will take place on September 2 and 3.


Bhaniara’s son acquitted
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 6 
The Additional Sessions Judge, Ropar, Mr Karamjit Singh, today acquitted Satnam Singh son of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara, and four others — Surmukh Singh, Amarjit Singh, Gurnam Singh and Jaswinder Singh from the charge of sacrilege in gurdwara Malksar Garuan on October 4, 2001. The sixth accused in the case, Baljit Kaur, had died during the trial.


G.S. Chahal booked
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 6
G.S. Chahal, former Director, Animal Husbandry, has been booked by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on the charge of possessing assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The sources in the Punjab Vigilance said a case has been registered against G.S. Chahal at the vigilance police station in Mohali.

Mr Chahal today moved a bail application in the court of the special judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, against the new case registered against him.


DC holds open darbars
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 6
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, held open darbars in six villages — Kotla Bajwara, Mandofal, Manupur, Ramgarh Sania, Balahra, Khera and Hansali — of Khera block in the district today.

After holding each darbar, the Deputy Commissioner took the round of that village to inspect the sanitation condition, encroachments, development works undertaken by the previous Sarpanch and to know the immediate requirements of the villagers. Earlier, prior to the visit of the Deputy Commissioner, a JCB machine had been pushed into service in these villages to remove the heaps of garbage from the roadsides and encroachments from the panchayat lands. Some officials of the subdivision led by the SDM had been camping in these villages to sort out problems of the villages.

Mr. B.S Shergill ADC(D), Mr Darshan Singh Sandhu, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr J.P.S. Cheema, DDPO, and Mr J.S. Tung, Secretary Zila Parishad, accompanied the Deputy Commissioner.


Stone laid for Siswan-Baddi road project
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 6
The Punjab Government has decided to build an inter-state road from Siswan to Baddi in Himachal Pradesh under the State Activity Programme in Ropar District. The 6-km-long road in Punjab area would be built at the cost of Rs 6.5 crore. This was stated here today by the Punjab Public Works Department Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, at Mullanpur Garibdas village after laying the foundation stone of a high-level bridge on Patiala ki Rao near village Nadda, Khudda Lahora to Karroran link road and upgradation of Majra to Mullanpur Garibdas link road.

The minister said that the Central Government had given its approval for the construction of the road.

Addressing the function, Punjab Animal Husbandry, Dairy Development and Sports Minister Jagmohan Singh Kang said that the state government would pay special attention to the development of Kandi area of Majri Block.


Chemists arrested for selling illegal drugs
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 6
Launching a campaign recently against the sale of illegal drugs in the district, the district police has claimed to have made the biggest ever haul of such drugs being sold in the district by recovering 84,070 tablets, 51,356 capsules and 900 injections worth lakhs of rupees during raids on various chemists’ shops. Cases have been registered under sections 21,61,85 NDPS Act, against seven chemists. Those arrested include Sukhdev Singh of Kamboj Medical Hall, Isherhail village, Ram Nath of Sirhind, Kismat Singh of Jalbehra, Suresh Kumar of Sirhind, Varinder Kumar of Bassi Pathana, Gurdeep Singh of Bassi Pathana, Ajaib Singh of Thind Medical Store, Sadhugarh, and Rajan Sharma of Shiva Medical Hall Sirhind.

Addressing a joint press conference today Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, and Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, said that the police and the civil administration had been getting information about the sale of drugs in the district. The police constituted special parties and raided the chemist shops in a planned manner and recovered the drugs in a large quantity. They said that a month ago they had called a meeting of all the chemists of the district and urged them to co-operate with the administration in controlling the menace of drug abuse sale of spurious drugs. They said that chemists were also told that the administration had specific information about certain chemists who are selling drugs and they had assured that their association would not support any one involved in selling of drugs. They said that two of them have been arrested now. They said that the main supplier of drugs was Suresh Kumar of Shiva Medical Hall Sirhind.

Answering a query, the SSP said that the brother of Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, was called to the CIA staff in the capacity of district president of Chemists Association and not for selling drugs. He said that police had the right to raid any chemist shop and it is not mandatory to take a drug inspector while raiding any such shop. He said that such raids would continue in the future also and Fatehgarh Sahib would be made drug-free district. Five more chemists had been booked in the district U/s 188 IPC for selling the drugs without prescription of the doctor.

Meanwhile, the chemists of the district on the call of the Chemists Association observed a complete strike and closed their shops in the district protesting against the illegal raids’ and arrests of the chemists. The chemists of the district in a resolution passed today unanimously decided not to sell the banned medicines and if any one is caught selling drugs, the association would not support him.


Blue film racket busted, 1 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 6
The district police claims to have busted a fake VCD distribution racket with the arrest of one person and seizure of 2,014 fake VCDs, including 155 blue films, from the latter’s Model Town shop here this afternoon.

According to the police, following a tip-off that several shopkeepers were involved in the illegal sale and distribution of blue films in the CD format among the city youngsters, a special police team conducted a raid at the shop of Manveer Singh at Model Town.


2 undertrials escape
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
Two undertrials escaped from the court complex here today. They were brought from the central jail for the hearing of cases registered against them. According to police sources, the undertrials have been identified as Satnam Singh and Naresh Chander. While Satnam was facing a dowry case, Naresh was accused of attempt to murder.

The sources said the undertrials were found missing when counting took place in the court complex when undertrials were to be taken back to the jail.


VCD case: one held for giving bribe
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 6
The sensational VCD exposure case in which nearly 12 cops were shown taking bribe from two alleged ‘satta’ operators in the city took a new turn today when the police booked them for giving bribe.

The police this evening arrested one of the operators, Subash Katty, under Section 12 of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The another accused, Bittu Chawla, is not traceable.

Police sources said CDs had been sent for examination and the cameras used in the recording had been confiscated.


Students stage dharna
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 6
Punjabi University students took out a protest march and staged a dharna in front of the office of the Controller (Examination) demanding the rollback of the new criteria of reappearing in supplementary examinations.

Earlier students of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering mourned the death of Parneet Kaur Tiwana, student of B.Tech III, and observed two-minute silence.

Students of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering gathered in front of the department in the morning and boycotted the classes. They were addressed by leaders of various university students’ organisations.

The students then held a protest march shouting slogans in front of the office of the Controller (Examination).

In front of the Controller’s office, the students were addressed by students’ leaders Gurnam Singh Virk (PRSU) and Jaspal Singh Manjhpur (SSF). Rajat Bansal, secretary of the ABVP, said the students would not stop the agitation until the administration agrees to their demands. The Controller reached the spot and termed the agitation as “uncalled for”.

A memorandum was submitted to the authorities demanding that the previous practice of giving three chances to a student to appear for the supplementary examinations be restored and examinations be conducted after every six months. The students also demanded the provision for re-evaluation and mercy chance.


Baba Farid varsity board to be revamped
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 6
The Punjab Government plans to reconstitute the 14-member board of management of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot shortly.

In a letter written to Justice O.P. Verma, Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university recently, the government has said since the term of the existing board expired on August 28, there was need to reconstitute the board so that the work of the institution did not suffer.

Six members, including the Chief Secretary, Principal Secretary, Finance, DRME, Vice-Chancellor of the university and two other senior officials, the Director, PGI, five educationists, including medical experts, and three prominent personalities are being taken in the board.

The Baba Farid University of Health Sciences was set up here in 1996 to promote health education and health sciences in the northern zone. The first board headed by Dr J.S. Bajaj was constituted in 1998.

Meanwhile, the existing board will meet at Chandigarh tomorrow to finalise the annual budget and other matters, said official sources today.


PCS exam from Sept 21
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 6
The PCS Executive and Allied Services re-examination will be held from September 20 to October 5, according to the datesheet released by the Punjab Public Service Commission.

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