Wednesday, August 13, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Attack on SAD is attack on NDA: George
Cong will continue fight against corruption, says Amarinder

Mr Parkash Singh Badal looks on as Defence Minister George Fernandes raises his hand at the SAD rally
Mr Parkash Singh Badal looks on as Defence Minister George Fernandes raises his hand at the SAD rally in Baba Bakala, near Amritsar, on Tuesday. — Tribune photo by Rajiv Sharma

Baba Bakala (Amritsar), August 12
Three stages set up on the occasion of “Rakhar Punnian”, here turned out to be pre-election rallies as leaders of different parties, including the Congress, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and SAD (Amritsar) traded charges.

Addressing the SAD rally, Defence Minister George Fernandes described “any attack on SAD as an attack on the NDA government”. He said the NDA won’t be a silent spectator to ‘false cases’ registered against the Akali leadership. Describing Mr Badal as a national leader who had made a lot of ‘sacrifices’, especially during the Emergency, Mr Fernandes said his (Mr Badal’s) implication could not be tolerated. About the purchase of coffins, Mr Fernandes said the Opposition had only a one-point agenda to criticise the NDA for the sake of criticism. He clarified that the order for the purchase of coffins was placed much before the NDA came into power. Coming heavily on the Congress party, Mr Fernandes alleged that Ms Sonia Gandhi had played a negative role during the Kargil conflict. “Sonia’s statements used to be beamed by Pakistan’s TV to boost the morale of the Pakistan army”.

Mr Badal, while speaking on the occasion alleged that the official machinery was being misused to settle personal scores with the Opposition leaders which had brought the development activities to a standstill. Describing the Congress government as anti-people, Mr Badal sought a judicial inquiry into the “Punjab Tractor Limited scam”. Mr Badal predicted that SAD and the BJP would sweep all the parliamentary seats during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. He alleged that the Congress wanted to bring back the old black days in the state with a view to diverting the attention of the people who were fed up with the governance of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh made a blistering attack on the Shiromani Akali Dal and their Central ruling combine in New Delhi. He said both were partners in crime and fully drenched in scams.

The Chief Minister said the NDA government at the Centre and SAD led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal were engaged in various scams and the Congress party led by its supremo Ms Sonia Gandhi would come forward in a big way to expose the guilty to fight out corruption at all levels in public administration.

Refuting the allegations of Mr Badal that the Congress was spreading terrorism in Punjab, the CM said the allegations were absurd. Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that due to developmental works and the corruption-free administration the Congress would win all the 13 Lok Sabha seats in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Capt Amarinder Singh said the state would introduce the programme of panchayati raj institutions in the state from October 2 which would be launched by Ms Sonia Gandhi. He said panchayats would have full control in the sectors of primary education and health services, pension disbursement for the old, widows and the handicapped and thus the panchayats would be free to recruit more than 17,000 teachers and doctors at their own level.

Other who spoke on the occasion included Mr H.S. Hanspal, President, PPCC, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Mr R.L. Bhatia, both MPs, and certain ministers, including Gurchet Singh Bhullar, Irrigation Minister, Excise and Taxation Minister Sardool Singh and Minister for Education Khushal Behal.

Earlier, the CM laid the foundation stone of the railway overbridge at Baba Bakala Mour-Batala road which will be constructed at a cost of Rs 10 crore and would be completed within a year. He also laid the foundation stone of Shaheed Sant Singh Liddar Memorial Gate at Rayya Chowk leading to Pheruman. Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President SAD (Amritsar), too addressed a conference of his party workers to whom he called to be ready the forthcoming election to the Lok Sabha.


Tohra, Badungar stay away from SAD rally
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Baba Bakala (Amritsar), August 12
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, President, SGPC, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and Bibi Jagir Kaur, both former presidents, were conspicuous by their absence from the political stage, organised by the Shiromani Akali Dal, here today to mark the ‘Rakhar Punnian’ festival.

Though Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Chief Secretary, SGPC, said the doctors had advised Mr Tohra not to exert too much due to his ill health, the absence of Bibi Jagir Kaur and Mr Badungar has given an impression that all is not well in SAD. It is learnt that Bibi Jagir Kaur remained in her dera at Begowal (Kapurthala), which is barely 18 km from the venue of the SAD rally. It may be mentioned here that Baba Bakala holds special significance for Bibi Jagir Kaur who is leader of the Lobana community. It was Baba Makhan Shah Lobana who found the ‘true guru’ (Guru Tegh Bahadur) here. However, when contacted on her mobile, Bibi Jagir Kaur claimed that she was out of station due to an important function.


Amarinder calls on Bhattal
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Punjab Agriculture and Rural Development Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal had a pleasant surprise this evening when Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, showed up at her residence to “consult her on State-level functions to be held later this month.”

Capt Amarinder Singh accompanied by his Political Secretary, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, and the Director-General of Police, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, drove to Mrs Bhattal’s house on his return from Baba Bakala in Amritsar.

The move of Capt Amarinder Singh is being viewed with tremendous political interest here as he had spent last week in New Delhi explaining to the party high command the position of the corruption and embezzlement case pending against Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal in a Chandigarh court. At the last hearing yesterday, the case was adjourned until August 21.

Sources close to the Chief Minister and the Agriculture Minister, however, revealed that the latter wanted to discuss in detail holding of a state-level function at Longowal to mark the martyrdom day of Sant Harcharan Singh Longowal on August 20.


Trouble brewing in Punjab Public
Service Commission
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
Trouble is brewing again in the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) over the move to amend its Rules of Procedure for the second time in less than three years.

Last time when the Rules of Procedure were amended, PPSC Chairman Ravi Sidhu got isolated as the remaining members joined hands and opposed the “arbitrary” amendments. The remaining members even moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

After Ravi Sidhu landed in the vigilance net in a corruption case, the remaining members of the commission had protracted discussions to redraft the Rules of Procedure which, they felt, the previous Chairman had modified to suit his style of functioning. At that time, the then commission members, including three new appointees Mr M.P. Pandov, Mr Bakshi Ram and Mr Ajaib Singh — had reportedly consulted some eminent lawyers, academicians and other experts. The members then had also filed a copy of the draft Rules of Procedure in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The main allegation of the members then was that Ravi Sidhu had attempted to destroy the multi-member character of the commission by trying to corner all powers.

For almost a year, the commission worked according to the Rules of Procedure as amended collectively by the old members of the commission. It was during this period that the government added two more members to the commission.

On July 23, the issue came up for discussion at a meeting of the commission. Further discussion on the issue was deferred as the Chairman announced that the item would be discussed at a subsequent meeting and, if need be, it would be decided by voting.

Objecting this procedure certain members have reportedly written letters to the Governor and the Chief Secretary, saying that as the commission always took its decisions unanimously, this practice should continue.

Though the item was not on the agenda of the July 23 meeting, certain members wanted it to be discussed under “any other item” and take a decision. Of the seven members present at the meeting, four were appointees of the previous SAD-BJP Government and the rest of the Congress regime.

The main objection to the proposed amendments was that why only a member was asked to prepare the draft of the amended Rules of Procedure and why a subcommittee of members was not set up.

The other argument given by some of the members was that if the Rules of Procedure were not good enough for the new commission to follow, why no steps were taken in the very beginning to amend them.

They questioned as to why the Rules of procedure were being amended just on the eve of finalising the selection of PCS officers the written tests for which were held some months ago and the interviews were to start soon.

Sources in the Punjab Civil Secretariat and Punjab Raj Bhavan confirmed that letters opposing the move to amend the Rules of Procedure have been received.

The Chairman of the commission could not be contacted for comments.


25 SGPC employees face reversion
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
Atleast 25 SGPC employees, who were promoted against rules, face reversion. The Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) has initiated contempt proceedings against Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar and Mr Harbeant Singh, former president and secretary, respectively, of the SGPC. These employees were promoted by creating unauthorised vacancies after a reshuffle of the staff.

A panel of the SGJC comprising Mr Kashmir Singh Patti (president) and Mr Raghbir Singh (member) has directed the SGPC to follow rules and provisions for the staff in toto. It has also directed the SGPC to submit a report within a week.

In its order, the SGJC has stated, “After hearing counsel for the petitioner, a notice is given to the respondents (Mr Badungar and Mr Harbeant Singh) as to why contempt of court proceedings should not be initiated against them”.

The petitioner had pleaded before the SGJC that the SGPC had violated its own resolution by promoting favourities.

A provisional sub-committee was set up by the SGPC when some employees moved the Punjab and Haryana High Court, stating that many employees had been given out-of-turn promotions during the presidentship of Bibi Jagir Kaur. However, the sub-committee, in its report, had prepared a list for the rationalisation of the staff. As per the report of the provisional sub-committee, a list of the staff for the Dharam Prachar Committee, press, Darbar Sahib, notified gurdwaras and various SGPC-run institutions was prepared. The SGPC executive, headed by the then SGPC chief, Mr Badungar, had decided to accept the report in toto. However, later the SGPC allegedly violated the resolution.

Although the SGJC had ordered the reversion of the employees in the light of the resolution, Mr Badungar and Mr Harbeant Singh did not comply. In fact, a few days before Mr Badungar relinquished charge as SGPC chief, some employees were given higher grades. The SGPC is likely to comply with the orders of the SGJC.


21 thermal plant officers may be arrested
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 12
The police here has decided to arrest 21 officers of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), Ropar, in the employees provident fund (EPF) scam. These officers, include 14 engineers of the rank of executive engineer and superintendent engineers and seven finance wing officers. All accused officials of Engineer Wing are those serving in the coal handling plant of the GGSSTP. The other two accused in the case of EPF scam, include the two labour contractors, R.S. Sodhi proprietor of the Sodhi Erectors and Deepak Chadha of the Calcutta Construction Company.

The police has established the connivance of 21 officers of Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (Ropar) and contractors in the EPF scam.

While the engineers have been accused of approving the bills of the contractors even though their not depositing EPF of workers. The Finance Wing officials passed the bills disregarding the guidelines.

The sources said that the accused officials of the GGSSTP in their statements before the police as stated in the report have passed the blame on others for the scam. The Engineering Wing officials have alleged that it was the duty of the Finance Wing to check the discrepancies in the bills. The Finance Wing officials alleged that the Engineering Wing forwarded the bills to them with favourable recommendations.

The officers of the plant who have been indicted in the EPF scam by the police include Mr Ajmer Singh, Deputy Chief Engineer, Mr HS Heera, Additional Superintendent Engineer (SE), Mr Harnek Singh Additional SE, RD Singla Senior Executive Engineer, Kuldeep Singh (Retd) Senior Executive Engineer, Mr PS Shahi (Retd.) SE, Mr DS Mann Additional SE, Mr Balbir Singh Addtional SE, Mr KV Kansal, Addtional SE and Lehra Mohabbat Thermal Plant, Mr AS Walia SE, VJ Dhameja SE, Mr SC Aggarwal SE Mohalli Circle, Mr Ramesh Aggarwal, SE, and Mr SD Sharma Chief Chemist (all Engineering wing).

Finance wing officials include, Mr RK Jindal Financial Adviser-cum-Chief Accounts Officer GGSSP, Mr Kamal Kant (Retd) Account Officer (AO) Mr Som Dutt AO, Mr VD Verma (Retd.) Senior AO, Mr SP Luthra AO, Mr K L Sharma AO and NL Yadav now AO at Patiala. The probe team has given the police option of either arresting the guilty officers or file a challan against them in court direct.


Engineers connived with contractors, says report
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 12
The crime branch of the Punjab police is reported to have established the connivance of 22 officers of the engineering and finance wing of the local Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant with contractors in the employees provident fund (EPF) scam. In a report given to the local police, the crime branch has recommended legal action against the said officers.

Sources said the local police had been given the option of either arresting the officers or filing a challan against them in court. The officers include superintending engineers, executive engineers, subdivisional officers and accounts officers.

The SSP, Ropar, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, confirmed that the inquiry report had been received. He said it was being examined and action would be taken soon. The inquiry into the scam which took place in the Thermal Plant, Ropar had been pending for a long time.

Two labour contractors, Calcutta Construction Company and Sodhi Erectors, allegedly swindled about Rs 1 crore from the EPF accounts of contract labourers working with them between 1997 and 1999.

While a case was registered against the proprietor of Calcutta Construction Company, Mr Deepak Chada in August, 2000, at Ropar Sadar police station, the proprietor of Sodhi Erector deposited the swindled amount of about Rs 50 lakh.


8 Punjab wetlands being examined for economic potential
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Extinct wetlands

All wetlands now under cultivation are Bhupinder Sagar, Patiala (earlier area 1,280 hectares), Chhangli Chhamb in Ferozepur (earlier area 1,000 hectares), Chhangli Tabo in Ferozepore (140 hectares), Chhamb Gurditiwala, Ferozepore (100 hectares), Sangeri in Mansa (41 hectares), Sharamkot in Gurdaspur (12 hectares), Gaunspur Chhamb in Hoshiarpur (100 hectares), Jandwal Chhamb in Hoshiarpur (100 hectares) and Rahon de Chhamb in Jalandhar (300 hectares).

Chandigarh, August 12
Originally known for its currency of natural wetlands, Punjab is now facing a severe erosion of its richest eco-system. Surveys have shown that where up to the 1950s, natural wetlands of Punjab covered about 60,000 hectares, forming 1.32 per cent of the state's total area. Now this percentage has fallen to about 0.46. The area under wetlands larger than 10 hectares is just about 15,000 hectares. Not just this, about 32 natural wetlands that existed in the early 1940s are now extinct because of their reclamation for cultivation or other purposes.

To prevent these statistics from turning more alarming, the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST) is busy conducting economic valuation of eight significant wetlands of Punjab. Being conducted for the first time, the valuation aims at assessing the value of the respective wetlands in economic terms. Life-support functions of each wetland will be examined with respect to its vital function in stabilisation of climate and water table. Wetland biodiversity, with complete detail of flora and fauna found therein, wetland's role in socio-cultural, religious, recreational and aesthetic perspective, will also be studied. The idea is to highlight the benefits of wetlands to awaken people to their conservation.

In the gambit of this project, being funded by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, are — Harike wetland in Amritsar, a declared Ramsar site of international significance; Kanjli Lake, Kapurthala, Ropar Lake and five other wetlands across Punjab which have been declared wetlands of state importance.

Out of these five wetlands, four are naturally existing eco-systems, including Jastarwal Jheel in Amritsar, Chhawarian-Bangar Chhamb in Gurdaspur, Keshopur-Miani Jheel in Gurdaspur and Mand Bhartala in Nawashahr. The manmade wetland of Dhol Baha in Hoshiarpur is also included in the study being conducted by the PSCST.

Highly placed sources in the PSCST informed The Tribune that the preliminary survey of all the eight wetland areas had been completed and the process of compilation of reports was on.

The economic valuation, apart from assessment of financial potential of the wetlands, will cover biological components.


Two Kashmiri terrorists, accomplice arrested
Bunker unearthed at KCF commander’s house
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 12
Two Kashmiri terrorists belonging to the Al-Umra outfit, who had come to Punjab to purchase arms, have been arrested by the district police. The police also arrested their accomplice and unearthed a bunker at the house of a former self-styled Lieutinent- General of the Khalistan Commando Force (KCF), Avtar Singh Tari.

Stating this here today, Mr Paramraj Singh Umranangal, SSP, said the arrested terrorists had been identified as Shaqi-ur-Rehman and Farouq Abdul Bhat, both residents of Srinagar. They had come to Punjab to purchase arms and ammunition with the help of Tari.

The SSP said the terrorists and Tari were travelling in separate cars. The terrorists were nabbed at a naka in Samana in the wee hours on Monday. He added that the terrorists were travelling with Jang Bahadur, alias Jangi, a brother of Tari, in a Maruti Zen car bearing a fake registration number (PB-13L- 6233). He said when the car was signalled to stop, the driver of another car — an Esteem in which Tari and another former militant, Gurinder Singh, alias Kala, were travelling — managed to speed away.

Mr Umranangal said the police found an inspector’s uniform from the rear seat of the militants’ car. He added that Kala and his accomplices used to masquerade as Punjab police personal to get out of tricky situations. The SSP added that following the interrogation of the terrorists, the police searched the Khuda village residence of Tari, where it found a bunker which could accommodate seven or eight persons. He said the police seized 110 rounds of AK-47 cartridges from the possession of Jang Bahadur, a .32-bore revolver from Shafi-ur-Rehman and a .445-bore pistol and some live cartridges from Farouq Abdul Bhat. The Maruti Zen car was stolen from Chandigarh in May this year and the original registration number of the car was CH-03- 8472.

Mr Umranangal said the arrested terrorists were also in touch with the Hizbul Mujahideen, another Kashmiri terrorist outfit. He said the police had also come to know about some terrorist hideouts in Delhi and the district police was in touch with the Delhi police in this regard.

The SSP claimed that the arrests were made as part of a night domination operation launched in the district with an involvement of 600 to 700 police personal.

Yesterday’s operation was conducted by CIA staff of the police under the leadership of CIA incharge Didar Singh and Samana DSP Jaspreet Singh Sidhu.

A case has been registered against Tari and Gurinder Singh under sections 399, 400, 402, 171 of the IPC and the Arms Act.


Orders to roll back fee issued
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The Punjab Finance Department has issued formal instructions regarding the rollback of the revised fee structure in the colleges.

The Finance Department authorities said today that copies of the instructions had been sent to the Department of Higher Education Mr N.S. Rattan, Principal Secretary (Higher Education), had also been informed by the Finance Department in this connection.


Hanspal refutes dissidence reports
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 12
The PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today refuted reports of dissidence in the Punjab Congress published in the Press recently, terming them as fabricated. He was speaking to mediapersons after inaugurating the building of the IITT Institute of Nursing at Pojewal village, about 25 km from here.

He said the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, some state ministers, MLAs and MPs had gone to New Delhi recently to attend the meeting of the Manifesto Implementation Committee.

But ‘false’ stories were published stating that dissident MLAs, led by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and a group of Punjab MPs had met the AICC President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, pressing her for change in state leadership. It was even reported that the dissident MLAs had chosen Mr Tej Parkash Singh as their leader, Mr Hanspal added. He appealed mediapersons to avoid sensationalisation.

Mr Hanspal categorically denied the statement of the former Finance Minister, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, in which the latter had claimed that some Congress MLAs were in constant touch with the SAD. On the contrary, some SAD MLAs and senior leaders had been asking us privately about the fate of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, he said.

Later, he also addressed a gathering of panches and sarpanches from Balachaur subdivision.


Cong reinducting Bajwa’s brother
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 12
Mr Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, younger brother of Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD Minister, who was expelled from the Congress for contesting previous Assembly elections as a rebel candidate, is being reinducted into the party in wake of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Talking to TNS on telephone, Mr Harwinder Singh Hanspal, President, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said that Mr Bajwa would be reinducted into the party soon.

Though Mr Partap Singh Bajwa had publicly disowned his brother in wake of some serious charges, but he had been accompanying his brother in his ‘flag car’ these days.

A wine contractor Mr Sanjeev Malhan had alleged that Mr Bajwa and his younger brother had sought Rs 30 lakh as bribe for allotment of certain liquor shops in Srihargobindpur (Gurdaspur). Mr Partap Singh Bajwa had then announced that he was not ‘keeper of his brother’ who had been living separately. However, the PWD Minister had recently been promoting his brother as prospective candidate for the next elections.


Hukamnama against Prof Gurtej questioned
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
As many as 17 Panthic organisations, which met here today, have criticised the Jathedar of Akal Takht and other Sikh High Priests for directing the SGPC to strip, Mr Gurtej Singh, of the title of Professor of Sikhism conferred upon him several years ago.

Representatives of the panthic organisations while addressing a press conference here today said the Sikh community was supposed to pay its respect to a scholar on Mr Joginder Singh, speaking on the behalf of the panthic organisations, alleged that such action had been initiated against Mr Gurtej Singh because he dared to say that the Sikh clergy had no right to issue any “Hukamnama”, and power to excommunicate a Sikh.

He further alleged that certain other Sikh scholars, who had supported the viewpoint of Mr Gurtej Singh, received.

The panthic organisations have urged the SGPC, to ask the high priests to keep their activities within “maryada” (code of conduct). The Panthic organisations have also criticised the Dharam Parchar Committee of the SGPC for issuing a statement that the critics of “Akal Takht’s hukamnamas” will be dealt with sternly. The Panthic organisations have urged the high priests to make a fresh beginning by rescinding the hukamnama against Mr Gurbakhash Singh Kala Afghana. Mr Joginder Singh,Mr Rajinder Singh, Mr Narinder Singh, Mr Inder Singh Ghagga, Dr Sukhjit Kaur, Mr Mohinder Singh Josh were also present on the occasion.


Mann questions ban on Sikhs to
buy land in Rajasthan
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
As political parties have started warming up for Assembly elections in Rajasthan, the President of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, has sparked off a controversy. There is a considerable number of Sikh voters in the Ganganagar-Bikaner belt.

Mr Mann has written hard-hitting letters to Ms Sonia Gandhi, Congress President, and Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, questioning the ban imposed on Sikhs to purchase land in Rajasthan. Mr Mann has also raised the issue of passage for the supply river waters to Rajasthan and the naming of the Rajasthan canal after Indira Gandhi.

Mr Mann has asked Ms Sonia Gandhi to direct the Rajasthan Chief Minister to lift the ban on Sikhs to buy land in the state. He has also drawn her attention towards a similar ban in Himachal Pradesh.

“I request you to ensure that in both Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh, which are governed by your party, Sikhs and Punjabis are allowed to buy land. Sikhs should also get government jobs on priority in these two states and the Punjabi language, as per Article 347 of the Constitution, must receive official recognition there”, says Mr Mann’s letter.

“In this day and age, mutual respect and friendly co-existence is a sine qua non to a healthy polity. It is time to permanently bury all unlawful and racial discriminatory systems not only against Sikhs, but all minorities”, reads the letter. A copy of the order through which a ban has been imposed on Sikhs to buy property in Rajasthan has also been sent to Ms Gandhi.

In the letter to Capt Amarinder Singh, Mr Mann has stated that the Chief Minister should have linked the passage for the supply of water to Rajasthan to the lifting of the ban to buy land. Questioning the passage for water, Mr Mann has asked Capt Amarinder Singh, “Before your government gave the passage of water to Rajasthan, the quid pro quo arrangement should have been codified in writing and the contract should have been legally made that Sikhs and Punjabis will be allowed land and property in Rajasthan”.

In his letters, Mr Mann has referred to a recent function in Ferozepore district, where Chief Ministers of Punjab and Rajasthan were present to release water in the remodelled Gang (Bikaner) canal. Mr Mann has urged Capt Amarinder Singh to ask the Chief Minister of Rajasthan to implement the verbal contract, whereby he had promised to grant the right to buy land in Rajasthan in lieu of Punjab waters to that state.


Rights panel seeks report on corporal
punishment case
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 12
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has taken cognizance of the report of corporal punishment to students by a drawing teacher of a Government Senior Secondary School at Chheharta. In its order dated August 8, the PHRC has called for a report of the state Education Department on October 15, the next date of hearing in the case.

The case of the violation of human rights of as many as 60 students, including seven who were brutally beaten up by the drawing teacher, was brought to the notice of the PHRC by a social activist, Mr Charanjit Singh Bakshi, of Chandigarh through a complaint. The Tribune on August 6 had first highlighted the case.

The complainant had urged the PHRC that guilty teacher be immediately suspended and the Deputy Commissioner be asked to conduct an inquiry. He also demanded that the SSP be directed to take necessary steps to ensure that students or members of their families were not harassed. Departmental action be taken against the erring teacher and adequate compensation be granted to students, he added.

The PHRC stated in its order that the incident “constitutes the violation of human rights within the meaning and definition of Section 2 (d) of the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 and therefore the commission takes cognizance of the matter.”

A copy of the order along with a copy of the complaint had been directed to be sent to the Secretary to the Punjab Government, Department of Education, Chandigarh, and to the District Education Officer (DEO), Amritsar, for compliance. The next hearing in the case has been scheduled for October 15. It may be recalled that the erring teacher was suspended by the DEO the day the incident was published in The Tribune.


Rights panel for improved hospital
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 12
The Punjab State Human Rights Commissioner has directed the Principal Secretary and the Director, Medical Education, and Research, besides the Chief Engineers of Public Health and Building and the Roads Department to take urgent steps to improve the functioning of Government Rajindra Hospital in the city.

This followed a complaint submitted by the President of Forum For Common Cause, Mr Mohinder Singh Walia to the commission. In a memorandum submitted to the commission, the forum said, the indoor wards were in a deplorable condition.

The forum further said the dialysis and many X- ray machines of the hospital were also not working. The convener of the complainant committee added that the cardiology, pediatric surgery and neurology departments were just having one doctor each.

The commission has also directed the authorities to improve the working of other medical institutions in the state. It has also decided that deputation of the Committee will meet the authorities concerned in this regard and monitor the progress in these hospitals.

A meeting of the forum was also held in the city yesterday.


66 taken ill after having langar
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malkatora (Muktsar), August 12
As many as 66 persons were taken ill, three of them seriously, when they partook of langar after the bhog of the akhand path on the occasion of the fourth death anniversary of Katha Singh at this village, 10 km from Malout today.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that about 150 relatives of the late Katha Singh joined the bhog organised at his residence by his daughter, Mrs Amarjit Kaur, and later partook of langar comprising “kheer”, “dal” and “chapattis”. Shortly afterwards, some of them started vomiting and fell unconscious.

Of the 66, 18 have been shifted to a private hospital in Muktsar, 28 are being treated at the Civil Hospital, Malout, 12 at two private hospital in Malout, while the remaining are being treated by their family doctors.

Sources said the patients included women and children. Of them, the condition of Mrs Surjeet Kaur and Mr Jaswinder Singh has been stated to be serious and they have been put on ventilators.

Mrs Amarjit Kaur, who organised the langar, said the langar was served at about 10.30 a.m. and at about 11 a.m. some people fell unconscious. She said the langar was prepared by a cook from the village.

Mrs Usha R. Sharma , Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, who along with other officials of the district, visited the Civil Hospital, Malout, told TNS that the condition of all patients except two was stable.

She pointed out that samples of the food consumed by the patients could not be taken as there was no one behind in the house of the late Katha Singh. Doctors would now try to ascertain the cause of food poisoning.


One-year-old abandoned
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, August 12
A year-old child has been reportedly abandoned by his parents here. The male child, wearing a yellow shirt and shorts was found from Bharoli railway station, about 7 km from here, on Sunday from Pathankot-Amritsar DMU train. Railway Police officials had tried to locate the parents but to no avail. Yesterday the cops brought the child to the court for directions regarding his custody but reportedly due to the busy schedule of the officials in the open darbar, they could not do so.

The child was a suspected case of thalassemia as he showed symptoms of the disease, said Dr Ravi Dogra, in charge, Civil Hospital here. He said the disease could be treated either in Chandigarh or Ludhiana in the state.

The Railway Police has launched a manhunt to nab the persons who had abandoned the child. The child has been admitted to the local Civil Hospital where Dr Ravi Dogra and other doctors of the Civil Hospital were carrying out investigations.

The police said the possibility of poor parents knowing about the disease of the child might be the reason of abandoning the child.

Sources said that about four to five persons who had earlier wanted to adopt the abandoned child, disappeared after knowing about the disease of the child.


Action against cinema houses hailed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
The Punjab Human Rights Committee (PHRC) and the Public Grievances Association today hailed the cancellation of licences of two cinema houses of the town, allegedly for screening of porno films.

Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, general secretary, PHRC, pointed out that the organisation demanded that licences of these cinema houses be cancelled for screening pornographic movies. He added that the demand of the organisation had been met partially. He said that the organisation had urged the district administration to take similar act against other cinema houses also for indulging in same activities.

Mr Dharmavir Walia, President, Public Grievances Association, said the students particularly the girls, had been facing embarrassing situation when they used to pass from near the cinema house screening blue films or from the spots where the obscene posters were pasted by the cinema house owners screening blue films.


Power cuts affecting shopkeepers’ business
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
Commercial blocks on Lawrence road, Mall road and adjoining areas are being subjected to nearly eight-hour power cuts on every Monday. This has been going on for the past two months, claimed shopkeepers in these areas whose business was suffering due to these unprecedented cuts. However, PSEB officials said that since Monday was a bonafide maintenance day, the cuts could be affected in any area on that day.

But shopkeepers of these areas alleged discrimination on the grounds that while commercial and residential areas suffered power cut by turns, their area was being targeted every week.


Who will unfurl the Tricolour?
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 12
Though the Punjab Government has assigned the task of unfurling the Tricolour to Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation, at the Bassi Pathanan subdivision on the occasion of the Independence Day. The municipal council (Bassi Pathanan) had already chosen the chief guest — Mr R.S. Jangu SDM — to unfurl the flag. Invitation cards have also been issued.

As per the card, the invitation has been extended by the President of the council, Mrs Amita Tangri, councillors, the Executive Officer, the tehsildar and the naib-tehsildar. The venue has been mentioned at Government Senior Secondary School.


Councillor hurt in attack
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, August 12
Congress councillor Sanjiv Bugga was injured seriously in an attack on him today. Mr Bugga was on his motorcycle when assailants, said to be more than 12 in number, on motorcycles and with sharp-edged weapons, attacked him.

He was taken to the civil hospital from where he was removed to Ludhiana. He represents Ward No 3 of the Nagar council. The police has booked 13 persons in this connection.


Pensioners resent curtailment of allowance

Ferozepore, August 12
The Punjab Government Pensioners Association has lodged a protest against the curtailment of the commutation amount permissible to the employees on retirement. Mr O.P. Gabba, president of the association, said that the action of the government had been condemned by the pensioners and resentment was prevailing amongst the employees and pensioners.

Mr Mohinder Singh, general secretary, said the employees were apprehending certain more restrictions on their retirement benefits. — OC


Suicide by farmer

Hoshiarpur, August 12
Farmer Gurvinder Singh (30) today allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree near his fields in Janori village, the police said. The crime came to notice when his wife Jasbir Kaur went looking for him when he did not return home from his fields.

She told the police her husband seemed under some mental strain. The police returned his body after a post-mortem examination. — UNI


Bail plea rejected

Chandigarh, August 12
The bail application filed by a dera head, accused of raping his disciple's daughter, has been rejected by Ms Justice Kirtan Anand Lall of the High Court.

Baba Dhanwant Singh Gurdaspurwala, chairman of the Dera Vishav Ruhani Charitable Society in Kot Jhiki village, was earlier booked on the basis of a report submitted by Nawanshahr's Senior Superintendent of Police.

According to the prosecution, the victim was raped by the baba on the night of November 25 last year in the dera itself.

After hearing the arguments, the judge ruled that the baba, being the head of a dera, had a lot of following. Granting him bail at that stage would not be in the interest of justice and conducive for the smooth conduct of trial.

Order reserved

Dr P.K. Sareen's bail petition in the alleged kidney transplant conspiracy case will come up for orders on August 14. The same were today reserved by Ms Justice Kiran Anand Lall of the High Court.

Claiming to be innocent, Dr Sareen, in his petition, had earlier submitted that he had not been implicated in a false case. It may be recalled that Dr Sareen has already been granted bail in another case.


Release tubewell connections, power board told

Moga, August 12
The District Consumer Redressal Forum, on a complaint filed by farmers of Manuke and Dagru has directed the Punjab State Electricity Board to release tubewell connections to them within three months. It has also directed the PSEB to pay interest on their deposits, besides a compensation of Rs 500 each to every petitioner.

The farmers pleaded that they had applied to the board for tubewell connections from 1984 to 88, and in April, 2001, the board directed them to deposit a security deposit of Rs 15,000 for the tubewell connections and accordingly all farmers deposited the required money.

When the board authorities failed to release the connections to them, they moved the forum, which gave them relief yesterday.

The farmers belonged to the Manuke, Dagru and Baghapurana areas of this district. — PTI


Narottam gets bail
Tribune News Service

Ropar, August 12
Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, cousin of Mr Sukhbir Badal, was today released on bail by the Special Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, in a case registered against him for allegedly helping Mr Hardeep Singh, former OSD of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, in converting the latter’s black money into white.

Mr Narottam Singh was released on bail as the Vigilance failed to produce a challan against him within the stipulated time period.

He has been released against a bail bond of Rs 2 lakh and two sureties of Rs 2 lakh each. Mr Narottam Singh has been directed to submit his passport in the court of the CJM, Ropar, and not to go out of the country.


Order to check adulterated milk
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 12
To check the sale of adulterated and synthetic milk Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, issued an order today for the testing of the milk samples from milk being supplied by dairies and by milkmen in the district.

The Deputy Commissioner has directed the Civil Surgeon to constitute special teams, which would take the sample of milk from the milkmen and dairies regularly. He has sought the report within three days.


Sewerage Board staff not paid salaries
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 12
Field workers of the Sewerage Board have not been paid salaries for the past two months.

Stating this, president of the Sewerage Board Workers Union, Mr Vijay Khanna, said the union had written a letter regarding this to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Chairman, Punjab Water Supply Sewerage Board, Mr Jasbir Singh Gill. He warned if the government did not release the pay of employees soon, they would start an agitation.


Cop booked for furnishing fake certificate
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi, August 12
The police today booked Jugraj Singh, a police official posted in Moga district under Sections 420, 467 and 468 of the IPC for furnishing a fake certificate of Class VI for securing the job of a constable in the Punjab police a few decades ago.

Police sources said a case was registered against Jugraj Singh, who had been promoted as Sub-Inspector on adhoc basis and had been in charge of various police chowkis in Moga district, after he was found guilty of furnishing a fake certificate of Class VI of the local Khalsa School in an inquiry by the SP (detective) Moga.

After the inquiry, the Moga police authorities wrote to the Bathinda police for action against Jugraj Singh. A case was registered in the local police station subsequently.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, SHO, Maur Mandi police station, said so far Jugraj Singh had not been arrested. It was also not known whether he had been placed under suspension or not after the registration of case against him, he added.


Three held for vehicle thefts
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 12
The local police have arrested three persons, Mandeep Singh, Sushil Kumar, both residents of this town, and Ram Pal, a resident of Rohtak district for their alleged involvement in vehicle thefts in the city and surrounding areas.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said one jeep belonging to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), one scooter, five cycles and one three-wheeler were seized from the accused. Besides these, one gas cylinder a burner and one CD player were also seized from them.


280 tins of spurious ghee seized
Tribune News Service

Maur Mandi, August 12
The local police seized 280 tins of suspected spurious desi ghee and 42 packets of milk powder from a house here during a raid by the district health authorities and the police yesterday.

The tins and packets had been stored by a local trader in the house. Dr Avtar Singh Sekhon, District Health Officer, Civil Hospital, Bathinda, said the tins were branded and were manufactured in Kotkapura town of Faridkot district. He said he had taken samples of the suspected spurious desi ghee and milk powder, which had been sent to a laboratory for examination.


Kamal Chaudhary, 48 supporters held
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 12
Mr Kamal Chaudhary former MP and President of the DAV College Managing Committee, along with his 48 supporters, including Lala Amar Nath, Municipal Councillor, Mr V.P. Sud, former Principal Government College, Hoshiarpur, Mr Natter Chand, Mr Avinash Sud and Mr Sanjay Sud was arrested by the police from local DAV College when they went to the college to throw out Dr Janmit Singh, Principal, from the college complex and attacked him and his office staff here this afternoon.

The police has registered a case under Sections 342, 506, 323, 148, 149 of the IPC against Mr Kamal Chaudhary, former Principal V.P. Sud, Lala Amar Nath, Avinash Sud, Master Sandeep Sud, Rakesh Sud, Press Reporter Punjab Kesari, Natter Chand, Sanjay Sud and 40 others.

According to Mr Opinderjit Singh, SP (D), the police recovered two licensed .12 bore double-barrelled guns and one .32 bore pistol along with live cartridges from them. The police also impounded nine vehicles including Tata Sumo, Qualis and Mahindra jeep from the college complex in which Mr Chaudhary and his supporters came. He said that case had also been registered against all five gunmen of Mr Kamal Chaudhary and they had been suspended.

Dr Janmit Singh, Principal of the college told mediapersons that Mr Kamal Chaudhary along with 40 to 50 supporters including teachers of the DAV College of Education, DAV Senior Secondary School and his five bodyguards came to the college in nine vehicles at 3 p.m. The main gate of the college was closed and almost all students and teaching staff had left for homes. They snatched the keys of locks of the main gate from Kamaljit Singh watchman after beating him up. He said that at 2.45 p.m. he went to his residence for his lunch when they entered the college premises. Mr Kamal Chaudhary came to his residence and entered his bedroom. After entering into his bedroom he shouted and started abusing him. Meanwhile some of his supporters also appeared there and took him to his college office. He alleged that Mr Kamal Chaudhary first disconnected all telephones and later started beating him up with his security men. When Mr Raj Kumar, Office Superintendent, came for his rescue he was also beaten up by them. He said that Mr Chaudhary tried to take office record in his possession but he was not allowed to do so. Later they dragged him to the college compound where he and his supporters also beat him up and his office superintendent. They were compelling him to take his suspension order which he did not accept.

Meanwhile some staff members informed the police. Mr Opinderjit Singh Ghuman, SP (D), Mr Surjit Singh Kandhali, SHO Hoshiarpur City with heavy police force reached to the college but they found all the entrance gates of the college locked from inside. They managed ladders and jumped inside the college. Meanwhile Mr Paramjit Singh, Additional Deputy Commissioner and Mr Sukhwinder Pal Singh, SDM also reached there.

Before his arrest Mr Kamal Chaudhary told mediapersons that he along with Lala Amarnath, Secretary, DAV College Managing Committee, Mr V.P. Sud, Secretary, Arya Samaj and his 10 to 15 supporters came to the college to deliver suspension order to Principal Janmit Singh who was suspended for functioning against the interests of college and to install new Principal in his place. He refuted all allegations levelled by Dr Janmit Singh against him and said that his meeting with him was in cordial. None of his supporter was violent.


Election to college managing panel sought
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 12
Certain members of the DAV College Managing Committee, here at a press conference yesterday alleged that functioning of the present managing committee under the presidentship of Mr Kamal Chaudhary was unlawful, undemocratic and unconstitutional. They said according to rules, the Managing Committee shall meet atleast once a month for the transaction of the business. The last meeting of the committee was held on December 26, 2002. After this, the committee failed to hold its monthly meeting and no business of the educational institutions governed by it has been transacted.

Also Mr Kamal Chaudhary has not called any special meeting of the committee to hold election for electing new office-bearers. The term of the existing office-bearers expired on March 25, 2003.

Of the 11 rebel members of the 19 members of the managing committee, nine including Mr K.K. Saini, Mr Devinder Mohan Sharma, Pandit Ram Parshad, Chaudhary Kalaish Chander, Chaudhary Diwan Chand, Dr Rajinder Pal Mehta, Mr Prem Nath Sharma, Mr Sukhdev Sharma all elected members and Mr S.P. Bhandari, co-opted member were present at the conference.

Chaudhary Diwan Chand and Pandit Ram Parshad alleged that Mr Kamal Chaudhary along with his henchmen approached them on night of August 9 at their houses to sign on the proceedings book for holding election of new officer-bearers of the committee for 2003-2004 at the meeting of March 25, 2003. They stated that the said meeting was never held. They alleged that on their refusal, Mr Chaudhary threatened them. They alleged that in past he used to get their signatures on the proceedings book of the committee for meetings which they never attended.

Mr K.K. Saini said that they had informed the authorities of Panjab University and DPI Colleges of Punjab, regarding alleged undemocratic and unlawful attitude of Mr Kamal Chaudhary for not convening meetings of the committee. On their representation, the Deputy Registrar of Panjab University, Chandigarh has sought comments of Mr Chaudhary on the subject. The Deputy DPI Colleges has also written to him to convince the election.

Mr Devinder Mohan Sharma said they would send requisition to Mr Kamal Chaudhary who is holding the record to call the election meeting to elect new office-bearers at the earliest. In case of no-reply within 10 days, all 11 members who revolted against him would elect new office-bearers of the committee.

He alleged that Mr Kamal Chaudhary had taken over all relevant record of the management to his house and had ordered the office staff not to entertain any of the aforesaid members.

Dr Janmit Singh, Principal DAV College, has also written to the DPI (Colleges) Panjab about the holding of election of the DAV College Managing Committee for electing the new office-bearers.


SGPC colleges told to abide by notification
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 12
The principals of the two SGPC-run medical and dental colleges today rushed here to meet the Punjab Medical Education Department authorities amidst reports that the Government was set to take action against the institutions.

Both Principals argued that they could not run their institutions with the reduced fee structure, as announced by the state government through a notification issued on July 25.

However, the authorities made it clear that no deviation would be allowed regarding the fee structure as well as admissions. “Either abide by the government notification or face the action”, was the message delivered at the meeting, said a senior officer of the department.

Later, senior officers of the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and Medical Education Department held a meeting under the chairmanship of the Medical Education Minister, Chaudhary Santokh Singh.

At the meeting, the issue regarding the colleges was discussed. However, action against the colleges was postponed in the light of the meeting with the principals.

At the meeting, it was opined that “another opportunity for a few days should be given to both SGPC institutions to make admissions strictly according to the state government instructions. Even if after this opportunity, the colleges refused to fall in line, then action should be taken”. 


B.Tech students allege poor facilities

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 12
Students who got admission in Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) in private engineering colleges are not satisfied from the facilities being provided there. Students at Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering College, Fatehgarh Sahib, where large number of parents as well as students have turned up to get the admission, alleged that they were being fleeced by the private institutions as majority of the colleges don’t have infrastructure as promised. And now when they want to change the college or branch at the second counselling, Punjab Technical University charges heavy amount for this purpose. OC

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