Monday, August 11, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Congress tries to bridge Amarinder-Bhattal gulf
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana, August 10
The Congress High Command has started making serious efforts to bring about rapprochement between Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Minister for Agriculture.

The efforts have been intensified following the induction of four Independent legislators to the Shiromani Akali Dal last week and a meeting of the Congress MPs with the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, last week. The MPs emphasised on the need for bringing discipline in the Punjab Pradesh Congress and the sorting out of the differences between the two senior leaders. The induction of four Independent legislators to the SAD has also caused concern to the Congress High Command.

Both Mr Amarinder Singh and Mrs Bhattal have been camping in Delhi for many days. On Friday, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai, general secretary, AICC and in charge Punjab affairs, took Mrs Bhattal to Mrs Gandhi. She is reported to have asked Mrs Kidwai to arrange a meeting of Mr Amarinder Singh and Mrs Bhattal with Mr R.K. Anand, senior advocate of the Supreme Court, to sort out the differences between the two leaders.

Accordingly, a meeting of Mr Amarinder Singh, Mrs Bhattal and Mrs Kidwai was held with Mr Anand to discuss the differences. Mrs Bhattal has since returned to Chandigarh.

Another meeting was held today between Mr Amarinder Singh and Mrs Kidwai with Mr Anand where the issue was again discussed.

Efforts to narrow the differences between the two senior leaders are likely to continue further.


Cong MLAs in touch with us, claims Kanwaljit
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 10
Former Finance Minister and general secretary of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), Capt Kanwaljit Singh, today claimed that the Congress government’s days were numbered and it may fall anytime under its own weight.

Talking to reporters here, Capt Kanwaljit Singh said as the dissidence was already prevalent among the Congress ministers and MLAs and some of the dissidents were openly opposing the state government policies, the day was not very far when the Amarinder government would fall on its own.

Without mentioning the Congress, he claimed that some MLAs were in continuous touch with SAD leaders and were even ready to support his party to oppose anti-people policies of the state government.

Asked whether the Akali Dal would bring a no-confidence motion against the state government, the former Finance Minister said, “We do not want to take undue advantage of the dissidence in the Congress so as to destabilise the state government. We have adopted wait-and-watch policy to witness the natural death of the Congress government.”

“As far as our agitation against the state government, our party President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has already announced that all MLAs and former MLAs will offer arrest on September 5 at Chandigarh to lodge our protest against the anti-people policies and atrocities being done on the Akali leaders by the state government,” he added.

Making a scathing attack on Capt Amarinder Singh, he said that despite being an ex-serviceman, he had betrayed the faith of over seven lakh ex-servicemen of the state by imposing sales tax on the CSD items.

Meanwhile, the SAD today demanded a judicial probe into Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL) dis-investment deal and alleged that the deal would incur over Rs 150-crore loss to the state exchequer.


Dissidence in Cong denied
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 10
Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today criticised former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for his alleged attempts to destablise the Congress government in the state. He alleged that Mr Badal was trying to destablise the government in the state, but he had “miserably” failed.

Talking to reporters here today, Mr Sodhi, who is also an MLA from Guru Har Sahai, maintained that Mr Badal, to save himself, had tried to hatch a conspiracy to destablise the government so that he could get away with the corruption cases. He claimed that all Congress MLAs and MPs were behind Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Replying to a question on dissident activities in the party, the Political Secretary to the Chief Minister claimed that there was no dissidence in the party. He said, although some vested interests within the party and outside were trying to convey such impression, but they had failed and exposed before the public and the high command also.


Akali Dal revives Anandpur Sahib resolution
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 10
The Anandpur Sahib resolution was revived by the newly formed Akali Dal, led by Baba Sarabjot Singh Bedi, at a meeting of its working committee held here today.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, president of the Akali Dal, and Baba Bedi while addressing a joint press conference announced that the party would present a memorandum to the Governor, Punjab on August 13, enlisting the demands of the party, based upon the Anandpur Sahib resolution of 1973.

The demands include adjudication of inter-state river waters, merger of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas into Punjab and federal structure for more autonomy to states and decentralisation of powers, etc.

Criticising the stand of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, they said Mr Badal had made the Shiromani Akali Dal his fiefdom and had compromised on issues that effected every Punjabi.

Baba Bedi said any move for amicable relations between them and Mr Badal could only be possible if the maryada of the Akal Takht was restored by installing Bhai Ranjit Singh as the Jathedar of the Takht.

They said they would also take up the cause of Davinder Singh Bhuller, who is an accused in the bomb blast case and Sikhs languishing in jails. Mr Jasbir Singh Rode, former Jathedar, was also present on the occasion.

The meeting passed a resolution to form a dharam prachar committee.


CM firm on decision on doctors’ allowance
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 10
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, today paid tributes to Madan Gopal Rinwa, father of Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, MLA, Fazilka and Parliamentary Secretary, Punjab.

Mr Varinder Kataria, former president, PPCC, Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP, Faridkot, Mr Radhey Shayam, state minister, Rajasthan, Mr Som Pal, former Union minister and member Planning Commission, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, Punjab Mr Ramesh Dogra, Health Minister, Mr Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, both state ministers, Mr Raman Bhalla, Administrative member, PSEB, Mr Hans Raj Josan, Mr Ravinder Singh Sandhu, both Parliamentary Secretaries, Mr Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, Political Secretary to CM, Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, Mr Nathu Ram, Mr Malkeet Singh Dakha, Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, Mr K.P. Rana, all MLAs, Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, both former ministers and large number of senior party leaders and former MLAs were also present.

Later, addressing a press conference Capt Amarinder Singh said that though his government had launched a programme to check corruption but corruption still prevailed at lower levels of the administration. He said that his government was taking stringent measures to check corrupt officers and officials so that corruption may be wiped out.

He said that his government was evaluating the properties of Mr Parkash Singh Badal in a constitutional manner. After completion of the process it would be probed that from where Mr Badal had acquired such huge assets.

In reply to another question the Chief Minister firmly said that there was no question of restoring the non practicing allowance to the government doctors. He said that Punjab owed a debt of Rs 7,000 crore to different agencies and it had to shell out interest of Rs 10 crore daily towards this hefty loan. Hence harsh steps had to be taken to improve the economy of the state.

In reply to a question about converting non perennial eastern canal system into a perennial one in Ferozepore district, the Chief Minister said that the issue was in final stages of decision and the canal would be converted into a perennial canal soon. This would prove to be a boon for the farmers of Ferozepore. Besides this it would also solve the drinking water problem of the areas.

Sounding a warning note Capt Amarinder Singh denied any dissidence in the party in Punjab. He cautioned partymen from going to media and indulging in anti-party activities. He advised them to sort out issues regarding the Punjab Government and the party with the Congress high command.

In response to non-payment of compensation to farmers of border areas whose fields were located across the barbed wire fencing, the Chief Minister said that despite repeated reminders the Union Government had not released the compensation for the past two years.

In a question on granting district headquarter status to Fazilka, for which a month-long agitation is going on here, the Chief Minister said that the persons spearheading the agitation should meet him, along with Dr Mohinder Rinwa to examine the proposal.


Tourism centres on routes of Sikh Gurus
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
The Union Government has agreed to create centres of tourism on routes taken by Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh in the country.

An intimation in this connection has been given by Mr Jagmohan, Union Minister for Tourism and Culture, to Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, Member of Parliament and President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar).

In a letter sent to Mr Mann, Mr Jagmohan has stated that “ I will certainly do whatever I can with regard to the routes taken by Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh. For the present, I am concentrating on making Amritsar a strong hub of culture, tourism and clean civic life, particularly by the area around the Golden Temple.”

The decision regarding developing tourism centres has been taken on a proposal forwarded by Mr Mann to Mr Jagmohan. While appreciating the Union Government’s decision to create centres of tourism on routes travelled by Shankaracharayaji, Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi, Mr Mann had urged Mr Jagmohan that Guru Nanak Dev and Guru Gobind Singh were great travellers too and the routes of their “udasis” should also be charted out and the same importance be given to their travels as you were doing in case of the three other eminent personalities.

Mr Mann told The Tribune yesterday that he had also met Mr Jagmohan to make a request him this connection. “ Mr Jagmohan not only liked my proposal but agreed to execute it at the earliest possible”, said Mr Mann. Once such centres were created in the country, the matter would be taken up with Indian embassies in the countries which were visited by Guru Nanak Dev such as Iraq, Bangladesh and Afghanistan etc.

Meanwhile, the Union Health and Family Welfare Minister, Mrs Sushma Swaraj, has assured Mr Mann and also Parliament that her ministry would declare Amritsar city as a tobacco free zone while framing rules under the Cigarettes and other Tobacco Products Prohibition and Advertisement and Regulation of Trade and Commerce, Production, Supply and Distribution Bill-2003. There is a provision in the Bill that no tobacco shop or its sale will be permitted in a radius of 100 yards of educational institutions.

Mr Mann had urged Mrs Swaraj to extend the provision regarding the ban on smoking near educational institutions in the Bill to Sikh gurdwaras in the country. Mr Mann has sought setting up of de-addiction centres for chain smokers across the country. Funds should be provided to NGOs in this connection. He has also asked the minister to set up a smoking booth in the Parliament complex for Members of Parliament. “Our colleagues in Parliament use the lobbies and the Central hall of Parliament for smoking. There is a need to set up a separate smoking room for them”, said Mr Mann.


Depression drives ASI to suicide
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 10
Depression and addiction to alcohol claimed yet another life in the police force as Kuldeep Singh, an ASI, posted as reader to the Supervisor District Communication (SDC), Ropar, committed suicide at about 1.30 am at his residence in Ropar police lines today.

Kuldeep, who was working in the wireless wing of the Punjab police consumed some poison yesterday night and later died at the PGI, Chandigarh.

Gurmeet, Kuldeep’s wife said her husband was under depression. He was taken to a local hospital before being shifted to the PGI. Kuldeep Singh is survived by his wife, mother and two children.

Sources in the police said Kuldeep was an alcoholic. He used to consume liquor even during duty hours, which let to an argument with his boss, the SDC, Ropar, Mr Satish Kumar Malhotra. Depressed at being admonished by his boss, Kuldeep committed suicide.

The SSP Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, said the inquiry into the matter had been entrusted to the DSP (Headquarters), Mr Jasdev Singh.

Mr Malhotra was not available for comments despite repeated attempts to contact him. The Ropar police has meanwhile registered a case under the IPC.

This is second case of suicide by a police officer of the wireless wing of the police in the district within the past six months. About six months ago, Jagmohan Khana, a Sub-Inspector, of the wireless wing posted at Nurpur Bedi had also committed suicide due to depression. The sources said Jagmohan was in a state of shock after his superior humiliated him before his son. No case was registered as none of his family members came forward to complain.

The sources said generally destitute families didn’t lodge a complaint, as they fear that the move might deprive them of government benefits and a job for one of the dependants.


BSP to go it alone
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 10
The Bahujan Samaj has ruled out any electoral alliance with other parties in Punjab and will field candidates in all the 13 constituencies in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, President, Punjab unit of the BSP, said the Dalits were disillusioned with both the SAD as well as the Congress as both the parties had taken them for a ride with false election promises. The BSP was the panacea for the ills afflicting the Dalits, he claimed.

The drive against corruption by the Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh, was just a gimmick, he said. Both the Akalis and BJP, along with the Congress, were mired in corruption. The BSP candidates contested elections with little money and didn’t resort to corrupt parties after the elections, he claimed.

He said Amarinder Singh’s government was cut off from the masses and was oblivious of their issues.


Fast-track courts for riot cases mooted
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 10
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has advocated the setting up of Fast-Track courts for the speedy trial of communal riots cases.

Talking to reporters here today, the Chairman of the NCM, Mr Tarlochan Singh, said that the commission had recommended to the Central Government to set up Fast-Track courts for disposal of communal riots cases.

“Keeping in view the inordinate delay in the disposal of riots cases due to the failure of the prosecution agencies at different levels and repeated adjournments in the courts, the commission has submitted its recommendations to Union Law Ministry and Union Home Ministry to set up Fast-Track courts to regain faith of the minorities in the present judicial system,” he said, adding that the acquittal of all accused in the Best Bakery case was certainly a blot on the face of Indian judicial system.

Terming the political interference into functioning of prosecution agencies as a major hindrance in conviction of accused in riot cases, the Chairman said that they had asked the Union Law Ministry to set up separate prosecution wings throughout the country, which should be autonomous to handle such sensitive cases. It would help in reducing political interference to a large extent, he added.

“In fact, the conviction rate is so low in such cases that the minorities have lost faith in the judicial system. The acquittal of accused will certainly dampen the spirits of the witnesses and the complainants, who will prefer not to seek justice. There is need to ensure a proper system to deliver justice otherwise the basic structure of the society will be adversely affected,” he said.

Commenting upon the recent statements by the State Minister for Home, Mr I.D. Swami, in Parliament about attempts of Pakistan-based agencies to revive terrorism in Punjab, Mr Tarlochan Singh said that he had received a copy of the report by intelligence agencies, which mentioned that Pakistan agencies were giving special training to Sikhs living in Doha, Qatar, Muscat and other Middle-East countries to create disturbance in Punjab.

“The commission will discuss the contents of the reports with the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, next week to chalk out a future strategy for countering these nefarious attempts,” he said.


Tarlochan concerned at low female literacy
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 10
Mr Tarlochan Singh today inaugurated the new block of Sri Guru Harkishan Public School at the Majitha road bypass here. He said the Chief Khalsa Dewan had done a commendable job in the spread of education. He said the dewan must also prepare students for competitive examinations at national and international levels.

Mr Tarlochan Singh, who is also the Chairman of the National Commission for Minorities (NCM), said though Punjab was a prosperous state but unfortunately the literacy rate among women was very low. He suggested institutions like the Chief Khalsa Dewan should give equal opportunities to girls.


Nurses seek govt nod for private practice
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 10
“We can provide better and affordable basic healthcare services to people at their door steps provided we are allowed private practice on the lines of government doctors and veterinarians,” demand nurses working in government healthcare centres and hospitals.

“Denying permission to private practice is discrimination against women as we can help in greatly improving maternal and childcare health services in slums and rural areas,” say Ms Jeewan Preet Kaur and Ms Gurcharan Kaur, president and general secretary of the Punjab Nurses Association, respectively.

Interestingly, government doctors in Punjab are agitating to demand that their non-practising allowance (NPA) be restored as they do not want to do any private practice.

The association has appealed to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to call representatives of the association to discuss the issue and announce permission to nursing professionals for doing private practice after duty hours on the Independence Day failing which the association will be forced to issue a call to its members to unilaterally start private practice.

“We are ready to share our earnings with the government,” they say, holding that all nursing professionals, including staff nurses, nursing sisters, nursing superintendent, matrons, ANMs, Lady health visitors, trained “dais” should be allowed to do private practice on the pattern of PCMS doctors. All of them have licence to do practice of nursing as well as midwifery.”

“Granting permission to nurses to do private practice after duty hours will not only be useful to expectant mothers in rural and remote areas but also cut infant mortality rate. Private practice will provide an incentive to nurses to live in rural areas and urban slums,” they said.

“The nurses should be issued receipt books as was being done in case of the veterinary doctors. A share of money so earned will go to the government. This will improve the availability of health services at an affordable price and also protect poor people from unqualified quacks who are playing havoc with the life of poor people,” claimed Ms Jiwan Preet Kaur.


Symposium on glaucoma
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
The Bathinda Ophthalmological Society organised a symposium on glaucoma and the latest trends in its diagnosis, medical and surgical management here today. Delegates from Bathinda, Muktsar, Barnala, Ganganagar, Jalandhar and Faridkot took part in the symposium.

Prof J.C. Dass and Prof Kirti Singh from the Guru Nanak Eye Centre, Delhi; Dr Harsh Kumar from the R.P. Centre, Delhi, (now in Apollo Hospital); and Dr Ramesh Bajaj, Professor in Medical College, Faridkot, addressed the delegates and talked about the latest trends in the medical and surgical management of glaucoma.

Later talking to mediapersons, Prof J.C. Dass, Prof Kirti Singh and Dr Harsh Kumar said the incidence of glaucoma in our country was just 2 per cent, while the rate of cataract was 80 per cent. They said cataract was fully curable, while glaucoma was dangerous as it made the patients blind if not timely treated.

The experts emphasised on the proper check up of eyes every year, especially after the age of 40 to detect glaucoma. They said glaucoma prevailed mostly among persons suffering from diabetes and blood pressure or among those who had a family history of glaucoma. “Glaucoma have two varieties. Mostly it grows slowly, but damages the eyes permanently, while the acute glaucoma is detected only in a few cases”, they added.


Camp on detection of fake stamp papers
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 10
The district administration, in collaboration with the Indian Security Press, Ministry of Finance, organised a training camp for revenue and treasury officials of the division to educate them regarding the identification of fake and genuine stamp papers.

A team from the Indian Security Press, Nasik, comprising Mr Shashi Kant Barde, Assistant Works Manager and his associate, Mr N.K. Sanyal, guided and trained the officials to detect fake stamps and stamp papers.

Mr Vikas Pratap, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing the officials said after the multi-crore racket involving fake stamp papers, it had become imperative to acquaint the officials with the technical expertise to identify such papers.

He said as the stamp papers were available in the denominations of Re 1 to Rs 25,000 and were widely used for diverse transactions, there was always a possibility of their fraudulent use.

He suggested, security threads should be incorporated in the stamp papers as was being done in currency notes.


Sardar Anjum laps all praise at mushaira
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 10
Sardar Anjum, who has recently been declared poet of the Millennium, was here last night to attend a mushaira organised by Mehak Cultural Forum at the Tagore Theatre complex.

A number of noted poets participated in the mushiara organised as part of the 56th Independence Day celebrations. Sardar Anjum’s couplet on the present strife in Kashmir — “Tumhare Baap Dada Likh Gaye Kashmir Jannat Hai, Tumhara Kaun Hai Jo Aag Jannat Ko Lagata Hai”, touched all.

Hurling a satire at the declining morality among politicians, he quipped: “Koi Kisi Se Kya Karta, Log Bulandi Dhundh Rahe The Apni Apni Pasti me”. Lending a humorous touch to the occasion, Sardar Anjum also presented a few lines on the much-hyped confrontation between Sachin Tendulkar and Shoaib Akhtar at the last World Cup where Sachin had thrashed the latter.

The Head of the Urdu Department, Punjabi University, Dr Nashir Naqvi, conducted the mushaira with poetess Shabnam Sultana from Jalandhar commencing the proceedings. Rendition of Jigar Jalandhri’s ghazals enlivened the Mushaira where nationalism remained the main theme.

Among the noted poets who took part in the mushaira were Sagar Khayyami, Suhail Farukhi, Madho Kaushik, Apjal Manglori, Faiz Farukhi and Sardar Panchhi. Guests of honour included Punjab DGP A.A. Siddiqui, ADGP Mohammad Izhar Alam, Director NZCC Aarti Jindal and PRTC Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta.


Poignant scenes at bhog ceremony
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10
Poignant scenes were seen at the ‘’bhog’’ of 14-year-old Gurmeet who was shot dead by a drunken cop in the city. The mother of the victim was inconsolable.

Punjab Mandi Board Chairman Sant Ram Singla presented a cheque for Rs 1 lakh to family on behalf of the state government. Earlier, the government had announced an ex gratia of Rs 50,000 which was increased to Rs 1 lakh on the intervention of Mr Singla.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Singla said Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh was scheduled to attend the bhog but was out of station.

He said though money could not compensate for the loss of the child, the government would try its best to help the family of the victim. He said the young boy’s mother, Bant Kaur, would be given a government job besides Rs 2.25 lakh given to her by the district police.

Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh gave Rs 11,000 to the family and said Agriculture Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had also sent a similar amount. He announced that girl students of Bhaddal Engineering College had sent Rs 2,000 for the family.

Others who contributed money to the family were the Dedicated Brothers Group, which gave a cheque for Rs 2,000 and Councillor Seema Sharma who gave Rs 2,000.

The function, which was held at the Ram Leela Grounds in Ragho Majra, was organised by the Prajapat Sabha. Its president Suresh Kumar and officer-bearer Ujjagar Singh spoke on the occasion. The district administration was represented by Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh, Additional DC Shivdular Singh Dhillon and Sub Divisional Magistrate T.P.S. Phulka.


Shop roof collapses
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
Due to heavy rain for about four hours in Rampura Phul, about 30 km from here, this morning rainwater entered a large number of shops in different areas in the town, damaging articles and commodities lying there.

According to reports, the roof of a shop collapsed in the Phul bazaar. However, no one was injured in the mishap. Rainwater reportedly entered into about 100 shops, mainly in the Factory road area. Rainwater also flooded the Bank bazaar, the Lehra bazaar, the Gill bazaar, the Kachehri bazaar, the Sadar bazaar and the New Market.

Residents of Rampura Phul town claimed that it was record-breaking rainfall in the town during the past many years. Many of them also claimed that due to rain they had suffered losses on account of damage to their luggage, domestic and commercial articles.

Mr Anurag Aggarwal, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, who toured Rampura Phul town today to assess the situation, while talking to TNS, said the administration had pressed two motors into service to pump out rainwater from the affected areas. He was of the view that clearing of rainwater from the town would take about six hours. He admitted that due to heavy rain residents and shopkeepers had suffered losses.


Farmer killed in mine blast
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 10
A report of a farmer being killed in mine blast while cultivating his fields in the border village of Pakka Chisti, 10 km from here, has been received.

According to details, Parshotam Lal (28), a resident of Goluka village, had purchased agriculture land at Pakka village two days back.

Today when he was ploughing the fields on a tractor, there was a blast believed to be a result of a left out landmine. The tractor was torn into pieces resulting in the death of Parshotam on the spot. The deceased is survived by his wife and two-year-old son.


3 unnatural deaths reported
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
Three persons died unnatural deaths in different pockets of this district in the past 24 hours.

Manjit Singh, a resident of Kotli Kalan village in Mansa district, who was working as farm labourer in Talwandi Sabo town died when he accidentally inhaled fumes while spraying pesticides in fields.

In another case, Mr Ramesh Kumar, an employee of the PSEB, died of electrocution yesterday. In another case, Mr Tirlok Chand, a resident of Ferozepore district allegedly committed suicide by jumping before a train near Bangi Nihal Singh Wala village on the Bathinda- Sirsa railway section.


50 hurt as truck overturns
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 10
Fifty persons were injured, when the truck, carrying them overturned near Sarai Khas village on the Jalandhar-Amritsar national highway yesterday evening disrupting traffic for one hour.

According to the police nearly 100 persons hailing from Karnal, were on way to Chhehrata Sahib gurdwara in Amritsar. The mishap took place, when driver of the truck applied brakes near Sarai Khas village.


Ban on soft-drinks demanded

Batala, August 10
Mr Davinder Pal, Secretary of the Swadeshi Jagran Manch (SJM), Punjab said here yesterday that Punjab Government should ban the sale of Coca Cola, Pepsi Cola and other soft drinks and these companies should be not be allowed to play with the health of people.

He also complained that nothing in this direction had been done by the Health Ministry, Punjab.— OC


Mayor flays decision
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10
The decision of the Local Bodies Department to extend the time period for clearing the resolutions of the municipal corporations and municipal committees of the state has come under flak from city Mayor Vishu Sharma who has claimed that the decision would result in slowing down of various development works in the city.

The municipal corporations and municipal committees in the state had received communication from the Local Bodies department recently informing them that the department could now take up to 60 days to clear various resolutions passed by them. Earlier, the department used to clear all resolutions within a period of 10 days.

Talking to the TNS, Mr Vishnu Sharma said development work would suffer in case the department went ahead with the decision. He said he would appeal both Local Bodies Minister Jagjit Singh and the department Secretary to rethink and withdraw the decision.


SI found strangled to death
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10
Gurdeep Singh, a Punjab Police Sub-Inspector (SI), who was posted at the New Officers Colony chowki, was found strangled to death at his residence in Urban Estate in here today.

The body of SI was recovered from his residence after resident of the LIG flats complained that a foul smell was emanating from the flat. The body was naked and his service belt tied around the neck.

Police sources said the SI seemed to have been killed three to four days back as the body had started decomposing. They said he had last left the New Officers Colony police chowki to investigate a complaint made under Section 420, but the chowki officials could not contact him after that. He was living alone in the flat as his family was based in Ludhiana.

Today, when a police team reached his house, the door was found locked from outside. The lock was broken and the man was found murdered.

Though the house was in disarray and it seemed that a search had been conducted for something, it was still to be ascertained whether Gurdeep was the victim of a looting incident or revenge killing. The police had already started pursuing the second theory because of the circumstances under which his body was found. Police was also looking into various cases that the SI was recently dealing with.

A case has been registered under Section 302 of the IPC. The body has been sent for a post-mortem examination to the Government Rajindra Hospital and the viscera is likely to be sent to the State Chemical Laboratory for examination to ascertain the cause of death.


Termination of 7 teachers decried
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 10
The Executive Committee of the Khalsa College Teachers union at a meeting here yesterday condemned the termination of services of seven teachers on probation. The union felt that this ‘drastic’ decision of the management of the college would affect academic affairs.

The management of Khalsa College had terminated services of seven teachers on probation allegedly due to the tussle between two groups of management. The dismissed teachers, include Balwinder kaur of Chemistry, Soni Arora of Economics, Atma Singh Randhawa of Punjabi, Navtej Singh of Agriculture, Jaswinder Singh of Zoology and Randhir Singh.

The management said that the workload would decrease if the 10+1 and 10+2 classes were taken away from colleges. The union argued that almost all departments were employing ad hoc teachers to cope with the additional workload. This work load was not going to decrease even if +1 and +2 classes were taken away from the college, said the union. The union would like the termination notices withdrawn. 


Teachers to observe protest day

Phagwara, August 10
Teachers’ Day on September 5 will be observed as protest day by the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union (PCCTU) to express resentment against the non-acceptance and non-implementation of its demands, including the maintenance of 95 per cent grant, pension-cum-gratuity scheme, parity to DPEs and librarians with teachers etc. Work will be stopped after three periods and demonstrations held at districts against the anti-teachers government.

Disclosing this here today, Dr V.K. Tewari, general secretary, PCCTU, said an ‘education bandh’ would also be observed for one day by over 5,000 teachers working in 172 non-government college during the forthcoming Assembly session in September. After resorting to mass casual leave, the teachers would hold a mass rally at Chandigarh that day, the date of which would be finalised later, he said. A two-period strike would be observed by teachers on August 18 and campus rallies held, informed Dr Tewari. It would be followed by a cease work after two periods on August 22, September 12 and October 4 by teachers of Panjab University, GND University and Punjabi University respectively, he added.— OC


Protest march by teachers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 10
Members of the Punjab State Aided School Teachers and Other Employees Union today took out a protest march in the city against the decision of the state government to withdraw the pension facility.

In a press note issued here yesterday, Mr Paramjit Singh, district secretary of the union said the members raised slogans against the state Congress government.

He said the state government had failed to give the employees of aided schools new pension according to the pay commission report of 1996 despite the high court directions. The Punjab Government was bound to give the arrears on account of the increase in the pay scales of the employees of the aided schools in six yearly instalments from 1996. So far only two instalments have been given.

He said the Punjab Government had also imposed a ban on new recruitment and inordinate delay was being caused in approving various cases pertaining to the employees of the aided schools.

The members alleged that under its move to commercialise education, the state government had snatched the right of education from students who belonged to the poor sections of the society.


Professional course fee not to be reduced
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 10
Punjabi University yesterday effected a reduction in the fee for general courses hiking 15 per cent fee vis a vis old fee rates, it maintained the fee structure of professional courses which had been increased for this academic session.

A high-level meeting of varsity officials which was presided over by Dean, Academics Prof U.C. Singh, claimed that the state government had through a notification made it clear that the fee reduction was not applicable to professional courses and the varsity was not reducing the fee of professional courses conducted by it.

This session saw manifold increase in the fee of various professional courses even as the fee of general courses except Science courses was much less. For example the varsity has increased the annual fee for M. Pharma course from Rs 13,340 to Rs 52,410, nearly four fold. Similarly the fee has been hiked to Rs 66,710 from the earlier Rs 28,840. B.Tech fee has been more than doubled from Rs 42,240 to Rs 70,410. Fee of other professional courses had also been hiked substantially.

Science students may get some relief from today’s decision as their fee had also been hiked considerably. The varsity has increased the fee of M.Sc Biotech from Rs 16,140 to Rs 54,400 B.Sc (Computer Science, Statistics and Mathematics) fee which had been hiked from Rs 23,860 to Rs 34,160, B.Lib (Science) from Rs 9,600 to Rs 14,460 besides others.

The Punjabi University Students Confederation has rejected the gesture of the varsity authorities on the fee front. Confederation leaders said the decision was not acceptable to them and that they would launch an agitation on the issue starting with a ‘dharna’ in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor on August 11.

Punjabi University at today’s meeting accepted other demands of the students, including the demand to allow re-appear chance to students while promoting them to the next semester. The meeting also decided to adopt a uniform policy for all semester courses. It has decided that all students who cleared 50 per cent of the total papers of the lower semesters will be promoted to the next class.


College Principal asks DPI to intervene
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 10
Dr Janmit Singh, Principal, DAV College have, has requested to the DPI College Punjab to intervene in the constitution of DAV College Managing Committee Hoshiarpur to run affairs of DAV College and save the institution.

In a letter to the DPI (College) Dr Janmit Singh stated that a meeting of the managing committee of the college was held on December 26, 2002, and the resolution of that meeting was received by the college on February 28, 2003. After this the managing committee of the college failed to hold monthly meeting and no business concerning the college was been transacted. This has affected smooth functioning of the college.

He alleged that Mr Kamal Chaudhry, former MP and president of the managing committee has not been running the affairs of the college lawfully. The Punjab Vigilance Bureau is conducting an inquiry into financial matters of the college. He also alleged that teaching and non-teaching staff were being pressurised into tampering with the record.

He pointed out that the term of the present office-bearers of the managing committee had expired on March 25, 2003 and no meeting to elect the new committee had been convened by Mr Kamal Chaudhary. Out of 19 members of the committee 11 have served a notice to the heads of 12 educational institutions being run by the said committee on July 31, 2003 in which they have directed them not to comply with orders of Mr Kamal Chaudhry.

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