Sunday, August 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Sodhi is chief whip of Punjab CLP
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today named his Political Secretary, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, as the Chief Whip of the Punjab Congress Legislative Party (CLP).

He comes in place of Mr Malkit Singh Birmi, who is also Minister of State for Jails, Housing and Urban Development.

The demand for summoning an early session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha made by the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, notwithstanding, no dates have been announced for the next session of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha.

The nomination of Mr Gurmit Singh Sodhi sprang a surprise for many in the CLP. As an international sportsman and President of the Chandigarh Olympic Association, Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, has been given this challenging assignment not only to manage legislative affairs, including rapport with other political parties, but also to work as a confidant of the Chief Minister in the CLP.

“The CLP is solidly behind the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh,” said Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi, maintaining that there is “no dissidence” in the party.

Of late, both the CLP and the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee appear to be making mends in reaching out to workers at the grass root level. After a week long stay in the Union Capital early this month, both the Chief Minister and the Agriculture and Rural Development Minister are out to wash off any impression of dissension within the party.

The message from the party high command, sources point out, has been that the Congress government in Punjab must reach out to the masses and concentrate more on developmental works as the Lok Sabha elections are not far off.

The holding of the state-level function for Sant Harcharan Singh Longowal at Longowal village in Shiromani Akali Dal’s citadel on August 20 will be the first major litmus test for unity within the Congress Legislative Party.

The state government will face an uphill task in holding a parallel function as Shiromani Akali Dal, too, will be organising its own rally at Longowal on that day. The Dal leadership hopes that the Deputy Prime Minister-cum-Home Minister, Mr Lal Krishan Advani, will be a star speaker at its rally which will be the first major national show of unified Akali Dal. Other NDA leaders are also expected to participate in the Longowal rally.


Amarinder directed to appear in court
Our Correspondent

Mr Parkash Singh Badal attended the court proceeding for about half an hour, while his security guards remained outside the CJM court. Mr Badal's vehicles entered the court through the gate meant only for the judges as he had sought permission from the UT District and Sessions Judge, Mr H.S. Bhalla, in this regard.

Chandigarh, August 16
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, was today directed to appear in person in a defamation case filed against him by a former Chief Minister and President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Acting on a criminal complaint filed against him by Mr Badal, accusing him of spreading and publishing false reports about his assets and properties, the UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal, directed Capt Amarinder Singh to appear in the court on September 20.

Pointing out that Capt Amarinder Singh had been spreading and publishing false information about his assets and properties for the past one year and had been persisting with the same after becoming the Chief Minister, Mr Badal had filed a case against Badal on August 12 last year.

Mr Badal alleged in the complaint that Capt Amarinder Singh had launched a vicious campaign to defame and intimidate SAD workers and leaders. Mr Badal further claimed that Capt Amarinder Singh had defamed him through letters and advertisements issued in the media.

Giving details about the allegation, Mr Badal stated that even during the assembly election campaign, Capt Amarinder Singh as President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) with the connivance of All-India Congress Committee (AICC) members, particularly its president, got a number of false, misleading and defamatory posters, advertisements published in the newspapers.

Capt Amarinder Singh had been openly and indiscriminately going about proclaiming that the Akalis were corrupt and he would arrest them and teach them a lesson, further alleged Mr Badal.

Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, son of Mr Parkash Singh Badal, had also appeared as witness in the case before the CJM on August 11. Mr Sukhbir Badal had submitted an affidavit claiming that Capt Amarinder had defamed his family through advertisements and publications issued in the media.


Akalis seek ban on birthday celebrations of Baba Bhaniara
Lalit Mohan

Nurpurbedi (Ropar), August 16
Tension simmered once again in the Nurpurbedi area today as various Sikh organisations held a meeting and demanded a ban on the forthcoming birthday celebrations of the controversial Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara.

The meeting, held in gurdwara Bangarh in Jatewal village, was attended among others by acting-Jathedar of Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib Giani Tarlochan Singh, executive member of the SGPC, Sukhdev Singh Bhor, former Minister for Education, Mr Tara Singh Ladal, SGPC members from Anandpur Sahib and Ropar, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh and Mr Pritam Singh Salomajra.

It was being expected that since the Baba had been released on bail and was staying in his native village Dhamana, near Nurpurbedi, his followers might gather in large numbers and celebrate his birthday there which falls on August 23. In the meeting, the Sikh leaders threatened that if the government failed to stop the birthday celebrations of Baba Piara Singh, they would hold a meeting in Dhamana village and thwart the celebrations.

In the meeting, an 11-member committee was also formed that had been given the task of presenting memorandum demanding ban of birthday celebrations of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara to the Deputy Commissioner SSP, Ropar, and the Governor. The Sikh leaders, while addressing the gathering, blamed the Congress for encouraging the activities of the Baba. They alleged that the government had provided security to the Baba and he was being allowed to again start his activities, which had been increasing communal tension in the area.

The meeting also witnessed a tiff between members of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) and SAD (Amritsar). Members of the SAD (Amritsar) accused Mr Badal of failing to check the activities of the Baba while in power. On this, members of the SAD alleged that Mr Simranjit Singh Mann had never condemned the activities of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara. The tiff was, however, contained with the intervention of senior leaders.

Nearly two years ago, the state had witnessed communal tension after some followers of Baba Piara Singh Bhaniara allegedly burned copies of the Guru Granth Sahib in various parts of the state. The Baba claimed to be reincarnation of the 10th guru, Guru Gobind Singh, and also wrote his own Bhav Sagar Samundar Granth that irked the Sikhs. Following the tension, the police razed to ground the dera of the Baba located in the forests of Nurpurbedi and registered cases against him. The government also banned his controversial granth.


Sham Singh’s removal as PSGPC co-Chairman sought
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 16
The recent outburst of Mr Sham Singh, co-Chairman of the PSGPC, against India during Independence Day function at the Indo-Pakistan joint checkpost has evoked widespread criticism.

Mr Sham Singh, who was invited by the Indo-Pakistan Friendship Society to light candles at the zero line on the international border at Hussainiwala on Independence Day to pray for peace and tranquility between the nations, had refused to oblige the organisers at the last moment and instead used derogatory statement against the Indians.

Meanwhile, the International Bhai Mardana Kirtan Darbar Society has sought the resignation of Mr Sham Singh from the post of co-Chairman of the PSGPC. Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar said he had written to Mr Sham Singh that he should immediately resign for using deprecating remarks against the Indians and the Indian Government. Mr Sham Singh had criticised the Indians for the demolition of Babri Masjid and attack on the Golden Temple in Amritsar. He had alleged that the minorities were being subjugated to hardships and their interests were not being looked into. Mr Sham Singh had said there was nothing to rejoice about Independence Day as it was demeaning for the Sikhs and other minorities.

Mr Bhullar also condemned the Border Security Force and Pakistani Rangers for playing spoilsport by aborting the candle light ceremony. He said the BSF did not allow thousands of people from reaching the Indo-Pak joint checkpost, Hussainiwala.

It was for the first time that the Indo-Pakistan Friendship Society had endeavoured to organise such a function at the Hussainiwala border after its closure in the aftermath of the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. On being contacted, BSF officials said since the venue of the retreat was already jam-packed with more than 3,000 visitors, they were not in a position to permit more visitors due to security reasons.

Mr Satya Pal Baghi, president of the Indo-Pakistan Friendship Society, averred that Mr Sham Singh was under pressure from the ISI and other security agencies, who did not allow other dignitaries to visit joint checkpost at Hussainiwala.

On the Indian side, Mr Zora Singh Mann, MP, and Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, MP, and former Union Minister who were supposed to participate in the function did not turn up.


SGPC-run colleges turn back students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
Future of about 50 students seeking admission, on basis of getting a merit position in the PMT, to SGPC-run Sri Guru Ram Das Medical and Dental Colleges has been hanging fire for the last three weeks whereas the new session had already started. These students today came to the colleges to deposit fees as notified by the government but they were once again turned back. Earlier, these students had faced a similar situation when Principal of Guru Ram Das Medical College had returned their fees after allowing them to attend classes for one day and left them in lurch on August 8.

Parents of the students, affected by the decision of these institutions, alleged that the managements here continued to block the admission on the ground that the state government had no locus standi to change the fee structure as mentioned in their prospectus. The parents said that the Minister for Medical Education and Research, Chowdhury Santokh Singh, during a meeting with them earlier this week, had directed them to deposit the fee as notified by the government to the SGPC-managed medical institutions and assured them that the colleges would accept the fee. But the parents lamented that it was refused by the principal today. It had once again put a question mark on the future of their children, the parents added.

A spokesman of the parents, in a representation to the Chief Minister, had drawn his attention to the dictatorial behaviour of the authorities of these institutions and said that these students had been admitted here on the basis of PMET-2003 test conducted by Baba Farid University and were allotted Guru Ram Das institutions for admission into free-quota seats allocated to the state government.

The parents felt that it was unjustifiable on part of the managements of SGPC-run colleges to insist that the students would be admitted only after a deposit of Rs 2.14 lakh, which was contrary to the directions of the government and Baba Farid University. The parents pointed out that a fee of Rs 2.14 lakh was for the students belonging to the Sikh community as per the corrigendum dated June 19 printed in the prospectus of Sri Guru Ram Das Dental College and not for the students admitted under free-seat quota allocated to the state government which would be determined by the government notification dated July 25.

However, the Secretary, SGPC, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, said that the government could not interfere into the working of minority institutions and they were within their rights to have their own fee structure. He said that the recent Supreme Court judgement vindicated their stand on the issue of the fee structure and reiterated the SGPC stand they would not admit students through government quota seats till they deposit full fee as per their prospectus which was approved by the government before the process of admission had started. Mr Calcutta pointed out that the government had no right to issue notification in the midst of the admission process.

As the standoff continued between the state government and the SGPC-run medical colleges the future of students denied admission into these institution, was at stake as was their career.


SGPC notice to seven students on dues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
The SGPC has initiated the process for the recovery of pending dues running into crores of rupees from seven MBBS students of the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research under the NRI quota.

Notices have been issued to each of the students in this regard. In reply to the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) the Guru Ram Dass Charitable Hospital Trust had stated that the authority for the recovery of fees was vested with the director-cum-principal of the institute. The recovery made would be under the mandatory rules and regulations, it added.

The SGPC is facing a case in this regard in the SGJC.

Seven students had been admitted in the academic session 2000-2001 under the NRI quota. Despite the expiry of the deadline for paying the fee the institute had failed to effect the recovery.

The erring students are mostly kin and wards of politicians, religious heads and personalities of Punjab.

Moreover, the recent Supreme Court order banning capitation fees in colleges, has compounded the confusion over the recovery of the dues.

The director-cum-principal of the institute, Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, said the NRI quota and its fee structure in the SGPC-run institute was according to the earlier Supreme Court ruling and had been approved by the Medical Council of India and the state government.

The question of banning capitation fees was still not clear, he added. He declined to comment on action that could be initiated against the erring students.


Bridge linking Majha & Doaba opens on Aug 21
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
A part of the savings made by vehicle owners on fuel will go in the payment of toll tax, as the state-of-the-art Mukerian-Gurdaspur bridge across the Beas linking Majha with Doaba, will be dedicated to the public on August 21.

The bridge located at Naushera Pattan, which has been mired in controversy over its inauguration, will finally be inaugurated by the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister for External Affairs, and MP, Gurdaspur, who has played a major role in getting across this major development project with the help of NABARD, was keen on getting it inaugurated by the Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But as the work could not be completed by April 30, the same had to be postponed. The Punjab PWD (B and R) Minister, Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, on the other hand, said the bridge would be thrown open to the public by the Punjab Chief Minister on June 30. However, this was strongly resented by BJP workers, who felt that the ruling Congress was trying to take credit for the work done by the BJP MP.

Giving details, Ms Vini Mahajan, Managing Director of the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board, said the hi-tech bridge, covering an area of 635.96 metres, would be a boon for the residents of these areas, including the 20-odd villages located in the pocket between Naushera, Shalla and Gurdaspur. Besides reducing the distance, it would provide connectivity with the district headquarters on both Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur sides and other major areas of the state all through the year.

She disclosed that the residents of the villages were using a pontoon bridge during the normal season and had to take a ferry during the monsoons for commuting purposes. The normal practice was that the temporary structure for the pontoon bridge was set up every year and dismantled at the time of monsoons due to the heavy discharge of water, thereby causing inconvenience to the people. Very often, when the ferry services were suspended, people in these villages were cut off from the rest of Punjab. Otherwise also, heavy vehicles, which could not pass on this bridge, had to take long routes to reach their destinations. This would benefit the sugarcane growers of the Gurdaspur-Kanhuwan belt, since it means shorter distance to reach Mukerain sugar mills.

Ms Mahajan said following the completion of the construction work, the bridge had been opened for light vehicles like scooters since July and would be opened to all vehicular traffic after the formal inauguration.


CPM begins state-level march against Centre
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
The Communist Party of India (M) (CPM) commenced its state-level march from Jallianwala Bagh here today to raise public opinion against the policies of the Vajpayee-led NDA government at the Centre. On the call of party’s central committee, fortnight-long rallies would be held in every district of the state which would conclude on August 31.

Stating this at a press conference today, state secretary of the CPM, Prof Balwant Singh, said the rallyists would propagate a 13-point demand charter for Punjab which included transfer of Chandigarh to Punjab, adjudication of river water, settlement of territorial claims and counter claims in the framework of Rajiv-Longowal accord, re-organisation of centre-state relations, including federal structure to the states, concrete steps for balanced and fast industrialisation with emphasis on agro-based industries, special measures to develop the Kandi belt and border areas, campaign against corruption to be made more effective and meaningful by involving the common people.


Cong failed to honour poll promises, says BJP
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 16
Hardly 2-3 per cent of the promises made in the 50-page election manifesto had been implemented by the Congress Government in Punjab. This was stated by the state BJP General Secretary Rajinder Bhandari here yesterday.

Talking to newspersons after participating in Independence Day function held by the party at Summer Maiden here, Mr Bhandari said the panchayats were promised Rs 25 lakh annual grant for development but they had not got a penny even. Electricity charges had been increased by 65 per cent. There was repeated increase in water and sewerage charges. Promise to abolish octroi remained unfulfilled rather the traders faced coercion with the introduction of Exim Forms, VAT and harassment at the Information Collection Centres run by the Sales Tax Department.


Minister-MLA tussle deepens
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 16
The tussle between Mr Sadhu Singh, MLA from Amloh, and the Punjab Minister for Public Health and Panchayats, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, took a new turn as the MLA convened a meeting of the members of the Panchayat Samiti of Amloh and his supporters on August 19 to discuss the further course of action. The tussle had started over the inauguration of a new building of the Block and Panchayat Samiti Amloh. The meeting has been called at the old building housing the Block Development and Panchayat office. Mr Sadhu Singh said yesterday that the meeting had been called to organise a function in which all elected representatives of the area, who were not invited for the inaugural function presided over by the minister, would be invited.

He said the date for the function would be finalised at the meeting. He said the meeting had been called in the old building because they would enter in the new building only after performing an” akhand path.” Hitting back at the minister, he asked him not to indulge in “character assassination”.


SAD meeting on Aug 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, has convened an important meeting of members of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) , office-bearers, district presidents, members of the working committee, advisers, Members of Parliament (MPs), legislators (MLAs) , party candidates in the last Assembly elections, members of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) , senior functionaries of the youth wing of the Dal and the Federation at Gurdwara Manji Sahib, Alamgir, in Ludhiana on August 25.

According to Dr Daljit Singh Cheema, official spokesman of the Dal, the only item on the agenda of the meeting would be to finalise the strategy for the September 5 protest dharna at Chandigarh.


Pak MPs return home, favour extradition treaty
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), August 16
The Pakistan MPs, who returned today to their country, favoured the early signing of an extradition treaty for the deportion of hardcore criminals in both countries. The MPs, who were part of the 12-member delegation, had arrived here for the candlelight vigil programme at the joint checkpost here on the event of India’s Independence Day.

Talking to the correspondent while crossing over to Pakistan, Mr Latif Khosa said criminals waging war against other countries and involved in heinous crimes should be deported immediately to improve relations.

Mr Parvej Malik, who belongs to the Pakistan Muslim League (Nawaz Sharif), said trade should be started between both countries without any delay. He said the challenges of the World Trade Organisation could be fought collectively. He said we should come closer and make a joint effort to promote our business in other countries.

The MPs claimed that the opening of trade would also help in the development of the economies of India and Pakistan.

They further said India could purchase electricity from Pakistan, which was surplus in their country.

Meanwhile, veteran journalist K.K. Katyal of India, who was in charge of the SAFMA convention at Islamabad, said the two-day meet was extremely significant which would lay a strong foundation for building up an enduring relationship between the two nations.

Another eminent media personality, Vinod Dua said the convention was a great beginning and hoped that the governments should take serious view of the deliberations in a positive sense. He said the interactions must go on at various levels so that the initiative taken by Indian PM could be sustained.


Illicit distillation of liquor becoming a cottage industry
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura (Bathinda), August 16
The illicit distillation of liquor in the district in general and in this belt in particular, have acquired the status of cottage industry as various families of rural areas have adopted it as a full-time vocation.

This belt had witnessed large-scale illicit distillation of liquor during the previous SAD-BJP government of the state as the persons, who were involved in this illegal trade, had enjoyed political patronage.

Though after the change in the government, the district police authorities alongwith the Excise and Taxation authorities, had launched a war against those elements, who had been indulging in this illegal trade, the menace of illicit distillation of liquor was still going on.

Official sources said that from April 2003 to July 2003, about 146 criminal cases were registered in Bathinda district against those, who had been involved in the illicit distillation of liquor. Apart from it, about 375 litres of illicit liquor was seized in this period. The major share of recovery of this liquor came from the Rampura belt.

Excise and Taxation department officials, who had been working to check the this practice in this district also seized 5,090 kg of “lahan” (substandard quality of illicit distilled liquor) and 15 working stills.

Mr Jaspinder Singh, Excise and Taxation Officer (ETO), Bathinda, when contacted, said that excise staff had managed to curb the smuggling of liquor from Chandigarh and neighbouring Haryana state by keeping a strict vigil. He added that now a vigorous campaign had been launched in rural areas where the illicit distillation of liquor was being practicised.

Illicit distillation of liquor was continuing in rural areas as the prices of country made liquor and Indian-made foreign liquor (IMFL) were quite high and these varieties of liquor had become out of reach of commoners. Due to this over the past few years, they had been shifting to illicitly distilled liquor.

This district had also witnessed two instances of hooch tragedy, one in this city and other at Bhucho Khurd village, in the past three years in which eight persons lost their lives after consuming illicit liquor. In the past, the district had also witnessed the smuggling of liquor from Delhi, Haryana, Madhya Pardesh and Rajasthan.

Sources said that the district Excise and Taxation authorities had been facing difficulties to make its campaign against illicit distillation effective as these authorities were facing shortage of three inspectors and some vehicles.


Borrowed I-Day joys
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, August 16
Believe it or not, even the national day marking our independence was celebrated in the districts by taking “bagaars” (obligations) from government officials and private organisations. The reason was meagre budget allocations for the celebrations by the government. All districts in the state have been allocated a budget of Rs 15,000 with regard to Independence and Republic day celebrations.

The district administrations are expected to arrange for tents with a seating arrangements for 2000 to 4000 persons, including VIPs, make flower arrangements, hire cameramen and provide transport for students and freedom fighters. The arrangements have to be made at all subdivisions too.

In Ropar district the Independence Day was celebrated officially at Ropar where the Minister for Medical Education and Research, Mr Santokh Singh Chaudhary, unfurled the Tricolor. In Anandpur Sahib, the State Minister for Grievances, Transport and Cooperation, Mr Ramesh Dutt, unfurled the flag in SAS Nagar, the Deputy Speaker, Punjab Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder, hoisted it while in Kharar, the SDM unfurled the National Flag. A function in this regard was also organised in Nangal.

Sources said the cost of arranging Independence Day functions run into lakhs. However, since the government provided only Rs 7,500 for the function, officials have to arrange for “bagaars” from various sources to celebrate the function in a befitting manner.

“Bagaars” include borrowing of vehicles from the district transport office, arranging for bouquets and decorations and erecting gates, for which the municipal councils have no budget provisions. Hospitality by the Food and Civil Supplies Department is part of the arrangement. Besides these, the services of Markfed, PTDC, police and health are also taken.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, said only the infrastructure of various government departments was used for the celebrations.


Conjoined babies arrive at Pingalwara
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, August 16
Nearly two-month-old conjoined boys abandoned by their parents arrived in the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society from Delhi today. A special air-conditioned room was prepared to receive these special guests.

Earlier, a team from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) inspected the premises of Pingalwara for the facilities being offered by the society for the unusual siamese twins. The twins, born at Lady Hardinge Medical College, Delhi, were referred to AIIMS six hours after their birth and have been under observation since. The babies, then, about a month old, shot into limelight after the unsuccessful surgery performed on Iranian conjoined twins that led to their death.

The twins have separate heads, chest, heart, stomach, lungs and spinal chord, but their liver, bladder, intestines and genitalia are fused. They also have just two legs between them. Since the parents of the hapless twins were poor, the anomaly was not detected as the mother never went for medical investigations before delivery.

The parents had left the twins with AIIMS to look for a suitable institute or home for the care of these. Efforts by AIIMS authorities failed to convince the parents who preferred that they be given to a suitable foster home.

Sources at Pingalwara said the institute was not really adopting them but were only being caretakers of the special babies. As part of the research work by AIIMS, the twins would be continuously monitored by the institute, mostly with help from the hospital staff. The growth pattern, conflicting functions of the body, bodily movements, contradictory and compatible responses, physical and organ development, besides psychological progress, would be under strict observation. For this, the society has deputed special staff. Surgery has been ruled out in their case as the twins share a common torso and have only a pair of legs between them.


Protest against NFL disinvestment
Our Correspondent

Nangal, August 16
Activists of the Samata Andolan, workers of National Fertilisers Ltd. (NFL) and Nangal residents took out a candlelight march yesterday to protest against the disinvestment policies of the government. About 100 activists, led by the president of the Officers’ Association, gathered at the Kangra welfare ground last night and marched though the town raising slogans against the NDA government.

Dr Arya, while talking to news papers, said the protest was organised to motivate the people of the town to protest against the disinvestment of the NFL.

The economy of the town was dependent on the company, they added. With the government reducing the five-year limit for retrenchment of employees or sale of companies’ properties to just one year, doubts are being expressed about the intentions of the government. The workers fear that the conditions have been relaxed under pressure from the corporates.

The residents and workers of the NFL threatened to intensify agitation if the government did not listen to their demands.


Mine blast victims get Rs 6.12 lakh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
To mitigate the sufferings of the persons who were killed or maimed during ‘Operation Prakram’ in the border belt of Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts, the Army authorities today distributed Rs 6.12 lakh, one-month of the ex gratia compensation announced by the Ministry of Defence.

Major-Gen Ashok Samantray, General Officer Commanding, Panther Division, handed over the cheques ranging from Rs 25,000 to Rs 62,000 to as many as 14 victims of mine blasts or their next of kin. The GOC said the cases for relief had been finalised on the basis of a joint inquiry held by the Army and the civil administration. The amount had been given as interim relief of the victims. The final inquiry report was still awaited, he added.


Check obscenity, says minister
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 16
Mr Amarjit Singh Samra, Minister of State for Revenue and Rehabilitation, yesterday asked the Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, to take action against those showing X-rated movies and displaying obscene posters in the city.

This follows a representation made to him by a delegation of 11 social and voluntary organisations, which met him at the sports stadium where an Independence Day function was held.

The organisations, including the National Federation of Indian Women, the Raahat Women Welfare Association, the Istri Sabha, Aasra Helpline, the Malwa AIDS Suraksha Sangathan, the Innerwheel Club, the Jain Jeev Daya Mandal, the District AIDS Control Organisation, the Punjab Istri Sabha and Guru Nanak Public School, in a memorandum submitted to Mr Samra, alleged that some cinema owners in the city were showing X-rated movies and displaying obscene posters.


SSP cancels two cases after probe
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 16
The SSP, Mansa, has cancelled two cases registered by the Additional Station House Officer, Bareta, Mr Resham Singh, as the cases after an inquiry were found to be false. Mr Resham Singh had booked Teja Singh, who was earning his livelihood by tailoring, on charges of dacoity. Teja Singh was remanded in judicial custody in Bathinda for more than 45 days.

Similarly, in another case three women and five men were booked on the charge of dacoity by the above police official. They had gone to get their money from a commission agent of Bareta.

A written complaint was made to the SSP, Mansa, who marked an inquiry to the DSP, Budhlada Mr Sukhpal Singh Brar. After the inquiry Mr Brar found the FIRs false and submitted his report to the district police chief.

Meanwhile, Mr Resham Singh said he had not received any money with regard to the above cases and added that the allegations were baseless.


Police effort to befriend people
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 16
Mr Avtar Henry, Minister of Food and Civil Supplies, Punjab, here yesterday released citizen charter, prepared by the Sangrur district police. The charter aims at creating awareness among ordinary citizens about their rights vis-a-vis the police.

Mr A.S. Rai, SSP, Sangrur, said this was the first time in the state that ‘Citizen charter’ had been prepared by the police for the public. He said this document would be displayed at all prominent places in the district, besides putting up on notice boards outside police stations.

The charter educates public about the procedures followed by the police in the delivery of various services. Procedure for applying for police clearance to get a passport has been clearly indicated and time taken by the police to do so is also mentioned in the charter.


Cultural show held at Sadqi checkpost
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 16
Students of four schools, two educational institutes presented Punjabi cultural programme at joint Sadqi checkpost in the Fazilka sector for the second time on Independence Day last evening before the Retreat Ceremony. Students of Atam Vallabh Public School, D.C. Model School, Holy Heart Day Boarding School, Sant Kabir Polytechnic College and M.R. Government College presented bhangra and giddha. Songs and skits were also presented in the presence of civilians and BSF personnel.

The checkpost was decorated. A 150-foot high Tricolour was the centre of attraction. Gathering on the Indian side enjoyed songs. Pakistan Rangers and nationals across the Zero line also enjoyed the programme.


Ashwani’s book to be released on Aug 19
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 16
A former President of India, Mr K.R. Narayanan, will release “Law, Ideas and Ideology in Politics: Perspectives of an Activist” by Mr Ashwani Kumar, a Rajya Sabha Member from Punjab, on August 19 at Parliament House New Library in New Delhi.

The release of the book will coincide with the completion of one year in the Rajya Sabha of Mr Ashwani Kumar. Justice R.N. Mishra, a former Chief Justice of India, will preside over the function.


59 prisoners set free on I-Day
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 16
As many as 59 prisoners lodged in the Amritsar Central Jail were set free on the Independence Day. Most of these had been arrested for petty criminal activities. Those let off were persons mostly accused for rash driving, petty theft charges and those booked under the Excise Act, Mr Hardeep Singh Chabba, Jail Superintendent, said.


200 solar lights sanctioned
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 16
Gobindgarh, 7 km from here, will become first village in Ferozepore district to have 200 solar streetlights. Sanction for this has been given by the Punjab Energy Development Agency headed by Mr Ripjit Singh Brar.

This was stated by Mr Gurkirpal Singh, Sarpanch of the village, at a vanamahotsava and cultural programme organised in collaboration with the All-India SC BC ST Minorities Ekta Bhalai Manch at the Government Elementary School complex.


2 get life term for murder
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 16
Mr G.K. Rai, Additional District and Sessions Judge here, today convicted Roop Singh (41), son of Mr Kartar Singh of Gurne Kalan village, and Bhola Singh (23), son of Mr Jung Singh of Ubha village of the district, under Sections 302, 506 and 34 of the IPC. The Judge sentenced them to undergo imprisonment for life and pay fine of Rs 5,000 each or in its default further undergo rigorous imprisonment (RI) for one year under Section 302 of the IPC. The Judge further sentenced both accused to undergo RI for two years under Section 506 of the IPC. Both the substantive sentences of the convicts shall run concurrently.

According to a copy of the judgement, on the night of January 13, 2002, Roop Singh and Bhola Singh murdered Kishan Singh and also committed the offence of criminal intimidation by threatening Karnail Singh in the area of Gurne Kalan village in the district.


Suit against Badal adjourned
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 16
A recovery suit filed against the former Chief Minister Mr Parkash Singh Badal, by the then Deputy Director of the Information and Public Relation Department, Punjab, Mr Jagdip Singh Chowhan, was today adjourned for September 1. Mr Badal’s counsel today appeared in the case and moved an application to verify the records.

In the recovery suit, Mr Chowhan has alleged that in 1998 when he was working as the Deputy Director of the Information and Public Relation Department, the then Chief Minister of Punjab, Mr Badal, had directed him to work for the election campaign of his son, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, during 1998-1999.


91 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 16
The quarterly Lok Adalat was held today in the premises of the new Judicial Complex here. Four benches were constituted which were presided over by Mr Dharam Singh, Additional District and Sessions Judge, Mr Harsh Mehta, Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ms Jatinder Kaur and Ms Gurdarshan Kaur, both Judicial Magistrates (First Class) Mansa.

As many as 270 cases were taken over in the Lok Adalat and out of which 91 cases were settled and award for a sum of Rs 54,69,870 were passed.


Judicial remand of Narottam extended
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 16
The judicial remand of Narottam Singh Dhillon, a cousin of Sukhbir Badal, was today extended till August 28 by the Special Judge, Ropar, in a case of disproportionate assets and corruption registered against Mr Parkash Singh Badal. The bail application of Narottam Singh would also come up for hearing on August 28.


Junk dealers may get plots at reserved price
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 16
The junk dealers occupying a large area of land, including the Bahera road, may shift out of the city in the coming months. The local Municipal Corporation has requested the Local Bodies Department to allot land for them in Transport Nagar on the outskirts of the city at reserved price.

A letter to this effect has been sent to the Secretary, Local Bodies Department, requesting that land be given to the junk dealers in Transport Nagar at reserved price. Sources said there might be further negotiations to give the junk dealers plots at an even lesser price.

The junk dealers had, at a meeting with local MP Preneet Kaur and Mayor Vishnu Sharma, claimed that plots had been given to junk dealers at Amritsar and other places at concessional rates.

They had demanded that the reserved price of around Rs 1,000 per square yard be further reduced.

The corporation and the district administration are offering these concessions to ensure the shifting of the “kabari market” outside the city so that space could be created in the inner city for more roads and parking lots. Earlier, the corporation authorities had tried to shift the market outside the city by asking the junk dealers to purchase plots in Transport Nagar by participating in an open auction. This auction was, however, boycotted by most of the junk dealers.

Mr Sharma said earlier, the talks between the junk dealers and the government had failed because of a dispute on the number of plots which were to be offered to the dealers at the new site. He said the corporation had now agreed to “adjust” 20 to 30 more persons at the new site even though plots were not available for them under the present scheme.

The junk dealers assert that besides allotting them plots on concession, the corporation should also accept payment for the same over a five-year period and allow a flexible building plan to suit the individual needs of the dealers. They also demand that a gradual shifting be allowed to ensure that their businesses are not affected.


Ex-MLA’s nephew shot dead
Tribune News Service

Dhuri (Sangrur), August 16
Due to alleged enmity during the last panchayat elections, Bhalinder Singh (32), a nephew of two-time former Dhuri MLA Dhanwant Singh and a local arhtiya, was shot dead last evening at his native Manwala village, 4 km from here, when he was reportedly returning home from his field.

After a post-mortem examination of the body at the local Civil Hospital today, a large number of protesters, carrying the body of Bhalinder Singh, held a protest march from the Civil Hospital to the police station in the town. They also raised slogans against the local police, demanding immediate arrest of the killers of Bhalinder Singh.

The police said here today that it had registered a case against Gurdip Singh, Inderjit Singh and Surinder Kumar Changli under Sections 302 and 34 of the IPC and Section 25 of the Arms Act for allegedly murdering Bhalinder Singh. Bhalinder Singh was allegedly killed with a .315 bore rifle which belonged to Gurdip Singh.

The police also said that all the three accused were still at large. However, police parties were conducting raids at different places to arrest the culprits. The cause of murder in the FIR was said to be enmity during the panchayat elections, the police added.

Led by Mr Dhanwant Singh, hundreds of protesters today staged a dharna in front of the local police station. They placed the body of the deceased at the main gate of the police station. They also raised slogans against the police and the local administration and criticised the police for not having arrested the alleged killers so far.

The dharna was addressed, among others, by Mr Dhanwant Singh, Mr Vijay Singla, vice-president of the Dhuri Beopar Mandal, Mr Inderjit Sharma, a social worker, and Mr Madan Lal, a goldsmith.

Later talking to mediapersons, Mr Dhanwant Singh said the killers of his nephew should be arrested immediately. He demanded that the local DSP and the SP (D) should be kept away from the investigations of this murder case as the family had no confidence in these officers.

Mr Dhanwant Singh said his nephew had been killed with a .315 bore rifle which belonged to Gurdip Singh. He said Gurdip Singh and Surinder Kumar Changli were supporters of each other and had enmity with his nephew on account of the panchayat elections and a dispute over the setting up of a sheller and a godown (owned by the family of Surinder Changli) at Manwala village.

He said his nephew was killed by the accused last evening when he was returning from his field to his home in the village.

Sources said in the past panchayat elections, Bhalinder Singh had openly opposed Mr Gurdeep Singh who had contested for the post of sarpanch. Gurdeep Singh was defeated in the election, which led to enmity between Bhalinder Singh and him.


Dowry victim dead, 3 booked
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 16
Death of a dowry victim due to burn injuries was reported yesterday in Tanda Police Station of the district. Rajwinder Kaur, wife of Malkiat Singh of Miani, succumbed to her burn injuries at the CMC, Ludhiana, last evening. She had received burn injuries at her house on Tuesday evening.

Mr Mohinder Singh of Bhoolpur village, father of the deceased, said in an FIR that his daughter Rajwinder Kaur was married Malkiat Singh of Miani on November 24, 2001. He said that he gave a Maruti car to his son-in-law in dowry. He alleged then his son-in-law demanded Rs 50,000 for purchasing motor cycle after one-and-a-half- month of the marriage which he also gave. He said Malkiat Singh went to Italy in June 2003. After that Kuldip Singh, brother-in-law and Gurmit Kaur, sister-in-law, used to torture his daughter for more dowry.

On August 11 his daughter telephoned him and told him about her torture. So on August 12 he went to his daughter’s house to inquire about her safety. When he reached her house he found her daughter burning. Later, she was taken to the Ludhiana CMC where she succumbed to her burn injuries. The Tanda police has registered a case under Section 304B, IPC, against her husband Malkiat Singh, brother-in-law Kuldip Singh and sister-in-law Gurmit Kaur.


Sub-Inspector caught taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 16
The Vigilance Department has arrested a Sub-Inspector at police station, Mandi Gobindgarh while taking a bribe of Rs 5,000.

The vigilance team led by Mr Banarsi Dass, DSP, arrested him from a hotel outside the police station. According to the DSP Jasbir Singh, taxi driver of Mandi Gobindgarh has alleged that Sub-Inspector Dalip Singh threatened to file a case against him if he was not paid a bribe of Rs 10,000.

There were allegations that the taxi driver was engaged in selling poppy husk. The matter was settled at Rs 5,000. A trap was laid and the Sub-Inspector was caught. A case has been registered against him.


Rs 72,440 looted from bank
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 16
Three armed robbers today looted Rs 72,440 from the local branch of State Bank of Patiala at Nidampur village, about 30 km from here, on the Sangrur-Patiala road. They also took away the weapon of the security guard.

According to the police, three youths came to the bank in a car and snatched the gun of the guard. Later, they locked the bank staff in a room and collected the cash from the cash counter and fled. A case has been registered.


Crushed to death
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 16
Mr Gurdeep Singh, an ex-serviceman who was working as a security guard at Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohabbat, was crushed to death by a truck on the Bathinda-Rampura road while he was going to attend duty this morning.

A case has been registered.


Teaching staff reinstated
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 16
The teaching staff of Government High School, Behak Bodla, 10 km from here, which was suspended on June 16, have been reinstated by the Director, Public Instruction (Secondary), on the instructions of the Secretary, Education, Punjab, with immediate effect.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Punjab Government Secondary Teachers Union Punjab, said the state Vigilance Department had inspected the school on May 2 at 11.15 a.m. It was found locked as the entire staff, comprising 12 teachers, had gone to collect their salaries for April to the State Bank of India, Fazilka branch, during the second half of the day.

In view of the report of the Vigilance Department, the Director, Education Department, without seeking any clarification, forwarded it to the Secretary of the department for appropriate action.

The Secretary immediately suspended Ram Kumar, officiating Headmaster, Gurmohan Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Sushma Rani, Reeta Rani, Savita Rani, all social studies teachers, Hitesh Kumar, Vishal Gupta, both science teachers, Seema Gupta, Roshan Lal, maths and Punjabi teachers, respectively, and Anju Rani, Hindi teachers.

These mass-scale suspensions, without giving an opportunity of being heard, evoked strong resentment among the teachers. Following this, a delegation of the Punjab Non-Gazetted Employees Organisation, led by Mr Uma Kant Tiwari, general secretary of the state unit of the organisation, represented the case of the affected teachers before the Secretary, Education, and pleaded that the teachers had been suspended for no faults of theirs.

After scrutiny of the record, the Secretary, Education, instructed the Director, Public Instruction, to reinstate all 12 teachers. Mr Kalra and Mr Tiwari have demanded of the government that the suspension period of the affected teachers be regularised and the Education Department should not be in undue haste to suspend the teachers merely upon Vigilance Department reports without verification of the facts.

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