Monday, August 18, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Centre to take up issue with Punjab
Sales tax on CSD items
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Centre will take up the issue of imposition of sales tax on items sold through CSD canteens in Punjab with the state government, the Minister of State for Defence, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, said here today.

Saying that the imposition of sales tax amounted to discrimination between armed forces personnel and ex-servicemen posted or settled in Punjab and those residing in other parts of the country, the minister was hopeful that the issue would be resolved soon.

He was in Chandigarh to address members of the Haryana chapter of the Poorva Sainik Seva Parishad.

The situation, he said, in Jammu and Kashmir was not congenial for the return of Kashmiri pandits.

About 4,500 - 5000 Pakistan-trained militants are stationed across the border, awaiting an opportunity to cross over. “The infiltration in August has been more than in July,” he remarked.

Pointing out that the Jammu and Kashmir Government had failed to keep its promise of carving out three new districts in the Jammu region, he said hundreds of schools in the state remained closed and a number of bridges were in ruins.

The minister said that six Territorial Army battalions were being raised for Jammu and Kashmir. Two battalions would be based at Srinagar and the rest at Jammu. One of the battalions would comprise only militants who had surrendered to the security forces.

About the government’s move to resume old grant bungalows in cantonments to use land for housing projects for armed forces personnel, Mr Gupta said the government would ensure that citizens did not face problems.

Earlier, addressing ex-servicemen, Mr Gupta said that next of kin of 126 martyrs of the Kargil conflict were awaiting the allotment of land for petrol pumps or gas agencies. “Land has to be allotted by the respective state governments and various disputes are holding it up. We have written to all Chief Ministers in this regard,” he said.

The move to set up village defence committees in Jammu and Kashmir had received a good response, adding that 1,500 committees had been set up involving about 15,000 persons.

Senior retired officers projected problems being faced by ex-servicemen. These included flaws in the recently introduced Ex-servicemens’ Contributory Health Scheme, low rates of pension and disability pension as compared to their civilian counterparts and post-retirement rehabilitation. The demand for lateral induction of retiring soldiers into the paramilitary forces was also reteirated.


Appoint ex-Major as nurse, Punjab told
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The state of Punjab should not have taken into consideration the ban on fresh recruitment while taking up the case of an ex-servicewoman for appointment, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has ruled in a significant judgement on a petition filed by a Ludhiana-based former Major.

The petitioner, Major Indu Bala, was not issued the letter of appointment to the post of a Staff Nurse as “her medical fitness and character certificates had reached at a time when a ban had been imposed on fresh recruitments”.

Coming down heavily on the state, the Director of Research and Medical Education, besides another respondent, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Swatanter Kumar and Mr Justice Mehtab Singh Gill, also directed them to give her the letter of appointment as Staff Nurse within 14 days of receiving the order's copy.

Allowing her petition, the judges ruled: “We are of the considered view that the petitioner, who had served the Indian Army diligently, and had given the best part of her life in the service of the nation and the families, should not have been treated in such a shabby manner”.

The judges further ruled: “The respondents should have taken care that being an ex-servicewomen, such like conditions of ban on recruitment should not have been taken into consideration regarding her appointment to the post....”

She had asserted that she had applied for the post in response to an advertisement issued on January 1, 1998, in the ex-servicewomen category. She was also declared successful in the screening test, but still was not issued the letter.

The respondents contended that a medical fitness certificate issued by Ludhiana's Civil Surgeon was received on December 20, 2001, and a character certificate was received on May 7 last year. In the meantime, the Punjab government imposed a ban on the posts lying vacant vide memo dated May 10.

After hearing the arguments, the judges observed: “If we take into consideration the memo of the Punjab government banning fresh recruitments, still the petitioner had fulfilled all the conditions for being appointed as a Staff nurse well within time....” 


George urged to shift ammo dump
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, August 17
Fearing demolition of their houses, hundreds of persons living in the 700m radius of the military ammunition dump here today urged the Union Defence Minister, Mr George Fernandes to shift the dump from the populated area.

They also urged the Union Defence Minister to issue instructions to the higher authorities in the Ministry of Defence to initiate steps to shift the dump soon.

A resolution to this effect was adopted by hundreds of persons who gathered at a marriage palace on the call of the Ammunition Dump Hatao Sangharsh Committee formed recently under the leadership of Mr Rattan Singh Mehal, a lawyer. Besides Mr Mehal, Mr Nazar Singh Badrukhan, Mr Avinash Sharma, Mr Manjit Singh Haripura, Mr Lalit Kumar and Mr Paramjit Singh Doabia, all members of the committee, and Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district President, Akali Dal (Amritsar) were also present.

Mr Rattan Singh Mehal said the dump had public roads on three sides, so the place was not suitable for an ammunition dump. He said the matter was now in the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Mr Avinash Sharma said, at the time of registration of the plots, the revenue authorities had not told them that construction at this site was not allowed. He said if they knew then, they would not have constructed their houses here.

Mr Lalit Kumar, a lawyer, sought the support of all townsfolk in getting the dump shifted.

Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president, Akali Dal (Amritsar), assured full support of his party to the affected persons and said the sangharsh committee should also submit a memorandum to the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, in this regard.


Vinod Khanna decries decision on bridge inauguration
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 17
Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs, told reporters here on phone today that the decision of the Punjab government to get the bridge on the Beas near Naushera inaugurated by the Chief Minister would deprive the state of certain benefits which the Prime Minister might have announced if he were to inaugurate it. He said the Congress government’s decision in this regard was politically inspired.

Mr Khanna said that he had talked to the Prime Minister and had his assurance that he would spare some day around September 15 to inaugurate the bridge. When Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister of Punjab, met him in Delhi last week, he said that he conveyed him the consent of the Prime Minister to inaugurate the bridge. He said that he asked the Chief Minister also to write a letter to the Prime Minister in this regard which he had agreed.

Mr Khanna said that the Chief Minister of Punjab instead of sending a request to the Prime Minister called a secret meeting of MLAs and Congress functionaries at Chandigarh who decided that the Chief Minister should inaugurate the bridge on August 21. Mr Khanna added that if the bridge was inaugurated by the Prime Minister, it would have brought certain benefits for the people of the state. He claimed that he got the bridge financed by the Nabard.


Healthcare scheme for villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
The Punjab Government is launching a unique healthcare scheme under which it will provide modern diagnostic facilities to people living in remote, inaccessible and far-flung rural areas of the state.

Called the “Rajiv Gandhi Mobile Diagnostic Unit” scheme, it will be launched by the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, at the AICC headquarters in New Delhi on Wednesday (August 20), the birth anniversary of the late Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.

A brainchild of the Punjab Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, the scheme has won the approval of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and given finishing touches in just a couple of weeks. The scheme is also the Chief Minister’s tribute to the vision and memory of Rajiv Gandhi, his friend and classmate in school.

“The idea for the project came to me during a visit to Jaura Singha village near Batala in Gurdaspur district of the state,” said Mr Sekhri in a talk with TNS here today. “I went to the house of a family where I came across an old ailing man. I asked his son to take the man to the Civil Hospital for immediate treatment.

“But on my next visit to the village, I found that the old man had died unattended because the son felt that it was too much of a hassle to take his father to the hospital in the city. This set me thinking. Why not to provide some advanced diagnostic facilities in the village itself ? The result is this advanced health care scheme.”

“The scheme is unique in more ways than one,” said Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab. “The mobile units will carry advanced diagnostic equipment, including ECG machines, eye testing machines, chlorimeter for blood test, microscope for sputum test and semi-auto analyzer, in an airconditioned bus. Each unit will be manned by five persons, including a medical officer, gynaecologist, laboratory technician, ophthalmologist and nurse. Every patient will be issued a health card for future reference.”

Initially, six mobile diagnostic units will be deployed in the remote areas of the state, particularly the border districts of Gurdaspur, Ferozepore and Amritsar and the Kandi region. Later, the number will be increased to 20 units. Each unit will cost about Rs 12 lakh.

The diagnostic tests available in these units include blood sugar, blood urea, serum cholesterol, serum albumin, uric acid, ECG, eye testing, urine test and pap smear for detection of cancer in women.

Mr Sekhri said he had prepared a list of 100 points around Batala town which would be covered by the advanced diagnostic units every month. On a single day, up to five points would be covered.

According to Mr Ramesh Dogra, Minister for Health and Family Welfare, it is for the first time in India that advanced diagnostic facilities will be available to people in remote, inaccessible areas. This will help in both preventive as well as curative care. A large number of people in rural areas fall prey to diseases which could have been avoided had timely diagnosis been done and appropriate remedy provided. Most people live far away from urban centres where such facilities are available. The mobile diagnostic units will encourage people, particularly women, to undergo tests which they would have otherwise avoided.


Probe bungling of MC funds, says MLA
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 17
The Congress MLA, Mr Raj Kumar Gupta, today demanded a vigilance probe into the alleged embezzlement of funds in the Rs 39 crore development projects executed by the civic body after the formation of the Congress government in the state.

Mr Surinder Mahey, Mayor, Municipal Corporation, has termed the allegations vindictive. He said he had already submitted a report in this regard to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the PPCC chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal.

Earlier, criticising Mr Mahey for his alleged failure to carry out various development works, Mr Gupta had alleged that while Rs 39 crore had been shown as spent on various projects, the city was still crying for basic civic amenities.

“The MC has violated the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act by allotting works to its favourites without even floating the mandatory tenders. Rs 35 lakh was released to a contractor for completing work on beautification of the road from the Adda Tanda railway crossing to Doaba Chowk without inviting tenders,” Mr Gupta said. The MC officials were not paying any attention to the recommendations of the councillors regarding various problems, he said.

“The MC officials in connivance with private contractors had prepared the estimates on the higher side, causing loss of crores of rupees to the civic body,” Mr Gupta alleged.

The Congress MLA alleged that though the District Planning Board had disbursed Rs 5.56 crore to the MC in March, 2003, the former had failed to launch various development projects on one pretext or the other.

Mr Mahey, however, described the allegations as baseless and said: “If Mr Gupta has any specific proof of the embezzlement, I will immediately order an internal inquiry.”


Barnala for knowledge exchange with Andhra
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
Mr Surjeet Singh Barnala, Governor, Andhra Pardesh, today said that he would make efforts to develop rapport between the youth and farmers of Punjab and Andhra Pardesh so that they could exchange technical knowhow for bringing improvement in agriculture and information technology.

Mr Barnala, who was here to attend a social function before leaving for Jaitu to attend the bhog ceremony of freedom fighter Leelawati, while talking to select newsmen, said problems of agriculture in Punjab and Andhra Pardesh were the same and farmers of both states could share their expertise to overcome these. He also said that Andhra Pardesh had managed to control the attack of bollworm on the cotton crop.

Andhra Pardesh had been making a significant progress in the IT sector and the youths of Punjab could only benefit by developing a rapport with the technocrats of that state.

In reply to a question, he said the decision of Centre to hang portraits of Baba Kharak Singh and Master Tara Singh, prominent Sikh personalities, in Parliament House and install a 25-foot high statue of Maharaja Ranjit Singh on the campus was worth appreciating.

He said Sikhs had played a great role in the freedom struggle and the decision to put portraits of Sikh personalities and installation of the statue in Parliament would give due honour to the community.

Though he refused to comment on Punjab politics, he said a unified Sikh Panth was always good for the Sikh community and Punjab. He denied heading any of the Shiromani Akali Dal in Punjab.

He expressed his disappointment over the increasing abuse in Punjab and said all should feel concerned to check this social evil. A large number of political activists and loyalists came to meet Mr Barnala. 


Cinema licences: social bodies' bid to placate media
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
The cancellation of licences of two local cinema houses by the Deputy Commissioner on August 8 for allegedly screening pornographic films and pasting obscene news items has snowballed into a controversy.

It had appeared in a section of the Press that the Deputy Commissioner had cancelled the licences of the two cinema houses, owned by the same family, when he, along with his family members, were not given proper seats when they went to one of the cinema houses to watch a movie.

Representatives of 11 social and voluntary organisations met Minister for Revenue and Rehabilitation Amarjit Singh Samra on August 15 and submitted a memorandum seeking action against all those indulging in vulgarity.

While a few mediapersons accused the Deputy Commissioner of linking them with those engaged in flesh trade, the Deputy Commissioner, reacting to news reports which appeared in a few dailies on August 11, remarked that he had never come across such irresponsible, malicious and defamatory journalism.

The representatives of 10 of the 11 social and voluntary organisations which had submitted the memorandum to Mr Samra, in a press note issued here today, pointed out that some misunderstanding had been created among mediapersons over the memorandum.

They added that they did not have a negative view of the media and the memorandum had not been drafted after consulting the Deputy Commissioner. Official sources said the Deputy Commissioner had ordered the cancellation of licences of the two cinema houses on the report of the SSP, which had claimed that cinema operators had indulged in screening of X-rated films and pasting of vulgar posters.

Information gathered by The Tribune revealed that the Deputy Commissioner had sought permission from the state government to institute suits of criminal defamation against those mediapersons who had allegedly defamed him.

Meanwhile, Mr Mohan Lal Garg, former chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, and Mr Narinder Mittal, former president, BJP, mandal unit, Bathinda, condemned the Punjab Government for transferring Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP, who had raided the cinema houses. They alleged that this action of the state government had exposed the claims of the government regarding transparency in administration.

Mr Gurkirpal Singh, president, Sikh Front (International), Ludhiana, in a press note issued here today, sought the transfer of the Deputy Commissioner for his alleged involvement in the attack on the Press. 


Conjoined twins rechristened
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
Conjoined twins Neelu and Peelu were rechristened Sohna and Mohna on the All-India Pingalwara Charitable Society premises here today.

Physically healthy, the Siamese twins were being well looked after here. A three-member medical team was deputed to monitor their health.

Many persons who reached the society premises out of curiosity said the twins were lucky as they were being well looked after. Siamese twins born to illiterate villagers used to be sold to circus owners, local godmen, or tantriks to display them as exhibits.

The parents of the twins, Mr Surjit Kumar, working as a taxi driver, and Ms Kami Devi, had been given permission to see them occasionally. The twins, although alike in physical features and appearance, behaved differently. 


Nanaksar sect chiefs bury hatchet
Tribune News Service

Jagraon, August 17
The chiefs of three sub-groups of the Nanaksar sect have buried the hatchet. There had been violent clashes between the followers of the sub-groups for the last over three decades.

The coming together of the chiefs is being viewed as a significant development, keeping in mind that the annual mela at Nanaksar is scheduled from August 25 to 29, the changed political scenario in the state and next year’s Lok Sabha elections.

The compromise has raised hopes of a peaceful mela this year. Several cases have been withdrawn by the factions as confidence-building measures. Some of these include cases in the high court for the last several years, besides cases of violence in which some ‘mukh sevadars’ were the main accused. One of the groups was even facing charges of contempt of court.

The groups have strong political affiliations, with one side owing allegiance to the Congress and another to the Akalis while the third has been maintaining a neutral stance. Following the intervention of Congress leaders and the Jagraon police, the three chiefs — Baba Harbhajan Singh, Baba Sadhu Singh and Baba Ghala Singh — have joined hands and agreed to divide the seva among them amicably.

The chiefs gave this in writing to the Jagraon SSP here today. Talking to The Tribune, the three chiefs said they had forgotten the differences keeping in mind the interests of the followers.

The police heaved a sigh of relief with the compromise. The police had always on tenterhooks and during the annual mela, forces from the entire range was deputed here.

The dispute began after the death of Baba Ishar Singh in 1963. He had deputed Baba Kundan Singh, Baba Sadhu Singh and Baba Narain Singh as the chiefs of the three groups as there was a dispute as to who would inherit the gaddi. Baba Harbhajan Singh took over after Baba Kundan Singh’s death. Baba Ghala Singh took over from Baba Narain Singh. 


Noormahalias not allowed to hold programme
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, August 17
Timely intervention by the local police prevented a conflict between Sikh organisations and Noormahalias at Kajikot village where followers of Divya Jyoti Jagran Sansthan were to organise their programme today.

According to the reports Noormahalias were going to organise their programme at Kajikot village when Sikh youths, led by Bhai Joginder Singh Fauji, Bhai Pal Singh of the Waheguru Simran Sewa Society, Mr Jasbir Singh Padhri of the Khalra Mission Committee, Bhai Harmeet Singh of the AISSF (Gill), Bhai Gurdeep Singh of the Khalsa Panchayat, Mr Gurinder Singh and others, came to the venue and argued that the Punjab Government had imposed a ban on organising of programmes by the Noormahalias. They said they would not allow them to organise the programme as by misinterpreting the Gurbani, they would hurt the feelings of the Sikhs. The police stopped the Noormahalias from organising the programme and a conflict was prevented.


Poor maintenance of parks irks residents
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, August 17
Residents of Dhillon Colony here are sore over the poor maintainance of the so-called green parks of the area, which have not been developed for the past 20 years.

The president of the Dhillon Colony Welfare Committee, Mr Jyoti Parshad Goyal, said the three parks in the area were in a state of neglect.

Residents alleged that the Municipal Corporation was not bothered about ensuring proper maintainance of the parks. They said there was no place in the colony where public gatherings could be organised.

The legal adviser to the committee, Mr Surinder Gupta, said the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, had visited the area three months ago. He said the Mayor had assured the residents that at least one of these parks would be earmarked for proper upkeep but till date nothing concrete had been done.

Residents suspect that certain unscrupulous elements are trying to grab public land. The revenue authorities have already been informed about the matter.

A resident said the issue had been brought to the notice of the Mayor. The latter had said that the authorities would demarcate the area for the park and soon wiring would be done by the corporation.

The corporation has still not provided a water supply connection to the area although the locality was approved in 1974 by the Town Planning Department. Residents say that despite several requests, the corporation has made no attempt to lay down a pipeline.

Even the roads and streetlights are in poor shape. Adding to the woes of residents is the wild growth of congress grass. The residents say that they themselves have to hire persons to check its growth. Sewer lines have been laid in the area only a few months ago.

When contacted, the Mayor said the budget for the maintenance of the park had been prepared and work would start soon after it was passed by the General House. 


Tributes paid to freedom fighter
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 17
More than 2,000 persons from all over Punjab paid rich tributes to Lajwanti, freedom fighter and wife of late Seth Ram Nath, a frontliner in the Congress and former chairman of the Punjabi Regional Council, at her 'Antim Ardas' at Jaito, 23 km from here, today.

Prominent among those who attended the ceremony were Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor, Andhra Pradesh; Bibi Gurcharan Kaur, member, Rajya Sabha; Mr Joginder Singh Maan, Minister for Welfare of SC/BCs, Social Security and Development of Women and Children; Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president, PPCC; Mr Harbans Singh, Mr Surinder Kapoor and Mr Uppinder Sharma, all former ministers; Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, MLA (SAD), Muktsar; Mr Hem Raj Mittal, former chairman, SSB, Punjab; Mr Surinder Iqbal Singh Brar and Mr Pawan Goel, president and senior vice-president, respectively, of the DCC; and Mr S.K. Gupta, chairman, Improvement Trust. Mr Barnala recalled her role in encouraging her husband to join the Quit India movement.

Mr Om Prakash Chautala and Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Ministers of Haryana and Punjab, respectively; Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister; Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, PPCC; and Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, MP also sent condolences to the bereaved family.


Bhandari bridge to be jacked up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
Arrangements have been made for diverting traffic and beefing up security as part of an operation to jack up the oldest multi-lane Bhandari bridge here for the first time in half a century of its inception.

The bridge will be jacked up to facilitate electrification of the Amritsar-Ludhiana rail track passing under the bridge. Heavy-metal girder pillars have already been installed at strategic points along the bridge to facilitate this operation scheduled to begin tomorrow.

The electrification which has been completed beyond Rayya township encountered the Bhandari bidge as the biggest hurdle to the operation planned to be extended till the Attari rail border. The bridge would be jacked up by at least 40 cm corresponding to permissible taperings of road bridges, said Mr K.S. Kang, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation.

A railway team from Ferozepore would coordinate the execution of the elevation work by jacking up almost 8 cm a day. The work is planned to be completed by August 23. Subsequently, the work of road relaying and pavement construction costing Rs 32 lakh and Rs 7 lakh respectively, would be taken up by the Municipal Corporation and completed in a fortnight. The corporation has already received Rs 39 lakh from the Railways for the purpose,” said Mr Kang.


Kisan chetna seminar organised
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 17
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while addressing a kisan chetna seminar at Sirhind today said that the economy of the country depended upon the farming sector and the government was making all efforts to improve the economic conditions of farmers in the state

Mr Ahluwalia told the farmers attending the seminar to be economically wise, adopt farming as a business and make all efforts to reduce the cost of production. He said that he would direct the District Agriculture Officer to arrange more such training camps for the farmers in the district.


80,600 sapling planted, cleanliness drive launched
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 17
The one day community project on tree plantation in Faridkot district launched by the district administration planted 80,600 saplings of different varieties. Nearly 50,000 were planted in villages and the rest in urban areas Mr Hussan Lal Deputy Commissioner said yesterday that an 11-member committee of district officials and members from other organisations headed by him had been formed to oversee the project. Under the SCRY2 centrally sponsored scheme the Punjab has granted a Rs 34 lakh to the Panchayats of all 181 villages in the district out of which each Panchayat will spend 70 per cent to maintain trees, said the Deputy Commissioner.

The administration also has started a special drive of cleanliness with the help of Voluntary organizations in the district. The work has been started at the local Government Guru Gobind Singh College and Hospital.

For repair of the roads and other developments the state government had granted Rs 1.50 crore and the work on the project would start soon.


Court seeks record of fund allocation
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 17
Coming down heavily on the state of Punjab for not making payment of pensionary benefits to employees allegedly “due to financial constraints”, Mr Justice M.M. Kumar of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed that the “budgetary allocation to the Education Department for 2002-03 and 2003-04 should be placed on record along with complete statement of accounts, to ascertain the bona fides of the respondents”. Punjab Chief Secretary J.S. Gill was present in the court during the proceedings.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Mr Justice Kumar ruled: "The Advocate-General states that efforts have been made to make the payment to the petitioners, but on account of financial constraints the payment has not been made so far. However, nothing has been placed on record to explain those efforts which have been made...."

The judge further ruled: "No explanation has been furnished in the affidavit filed by the Chief Secretary except making a general statement that ‘all efforts were made to comply with the court orders’. It has not been explained what those efforts were, nor has it been pointed out as to what steps have been taken...."

The case will now come up for further hearing on August 22 


Probe ordered into death of mechanic
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 17
The District Magistrate here has ordered a magisterial inquiry into different aspects of the death of a local automobile mechanic after he was allegedly kidnapped by a partner and some employees of a finance company, official sources said.

Senior police officials indicated that they had recommended that the father of the proprietor of the finance company who was posted here as an ASI in the wireless section of the Punjab police, should be transferred immediately to ensure an independent inquiry.

Meanwhile, hundreds of residents held a demonstration here against the finance company and the authorities to express their anguish over the death of Subhash Chander. They claimed that the handwritten paper reportedly recovered from the diary of the deceased indicated that he had taken a loan of Rs 5,000 only and repaid Rs 30,000. Still workers of the finance company were adopting coercive measures to extract more money from him.

The demonstrators alleged that the ASI who had a direct family interest in the finance company had not been transferred out of the division for the past 20 years. His place of posting was hardly 30 km from here. Some other police officers also had financial interests in such companies.

Four get judicial remand

Kharar, August 17
Mr Ranjan Kumar Khuller, Judicial Magistrate, Kharar, yesterday remanded four persons Manjeet Singh, Harpreet Singh, Shamsher Singh and Parminder Singh in judicial remand till August 30.

They were arrested by the Kharar police on the charges of criminal intimidation and wrongful restraint.

The police has registered a case on the complaint of Mr Gurmail Singh. The complainant alleged that the accused stopped him when he was returning from his duty. He was beaten up and cash and scooter was taken away by the accused. The police has recovered the scooter. OC


Govt may levy local area development tax
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 17
The Punjab Government has approached two Delhi-based agencies to ascertain income and expenditure details of municipal corporations and councils so that octroi can be abolished. This was stated by Mr Jagjit Singh, Minister for Local Bodies, here today.

He said octroi would be abolished in Punjab to give relief to the urban population. It was proposed to introduce local area development tax, he added. Goods worth about Rs 36,000 crore were being brought annually from other states, on which a 2 per cent local area development tax was being proposed, he stated. With this, there would an annual income of Rs 750 crore as compared to Rs 550 crore from octroi, he further said.

The amount earned through the local area development tax would be given to all municipal corporations and councils. Arrangements would be made to provide a share to the municipal corporations and councils daily. The agencies concerned would submit their findings within two months, said the minister. Referring to the shortage of staff, especially safai karamcharis, he said he would ask the Secretary and Director, Local Bodies, to find out ways and means so that work did not suffer on this account. He said he had instructed chairmen of all improvement trusts to review the allotment of land by their predecessors on nominal amounts in their respective towns.


Flesh trade racket busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 17
The district police claims to have busted a flesh trade racket with the arrest of its kingpin and four girls for their alleged involvement in prostitution.

According to the police, they had received a tip-off that Sawarnjit Kumar of the Bhargo camp locality was running a flesh trade racket in the city and was supplying girls to the prospective customers for Rs 2,000 to Rs 5,000 by making deals on his mobile phone. A systematic investigation was carried out subsequently and a raid was conducted near the upcoming medical college on the Garha road late last night. Sawarnjit Kumar along with four girls was arrested from the spot while they were waiting for customers.

The arrested girls were identified as Mahek Sharma and her sister Vaishali Sharma of Ahmedgarh, Nisha of Kapurthala and Rina of the local Avtar Nagar locality. The police has seized a mobile phone and cash from their possession. A case under Sections 3, 4, 5 of the Immoral Traffic Prevention Act, 1956, was registered.

Meanwhile, the Goraya police has arrested four persons on the charge of smuggling liquor and evading tax by selling liquor, bought in Chandigarh, at Jalandhar at cheaper rates through their agents.

The police impounded a truck and an Indica car used to transport liquor. A search of the vehicles near Virk village led to the seizure of 70 cases of Indian Made Foreign Liquor (IMFL). The arrested persons were later identified as Tajinder Singh of New Railway Colony, Gurjinderpal Singh of Brij Nagar, Kaushik Kumar of Lamba Pind road and Gurbaksh Singh of Rajpura.

The suspetcs, during preliminary interrogation, said they were part of an interdistrict gang of liquor smugglers and were making a lot of money through the smuggling of liquor in various parts of Punjab. Their revelations led to seizure of 40 cases of liquor from one of their hide- outs at the Focal Point Industrial Area. A case under various sections of the Punjab Excise Act has been registered. 


Gang of dacoits busted, three arrested
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 17
The district police has arrested three members of an interstate gang involved in bank dacoities. Those arrested are: Baljinder Singh, a resident of Khatrai Kalan in Amritsar district, Amarjit Singh of Mukerian in Hoshiarpur district and Dalbir Singh, alias Bira, of Sudhar in Ludhiana district.

The three had assembled in the Jhunir police station area in the district for preparing themselves to loot a bank with two country- made pistols and one .12 bore DBBL gun with 38 cartridges.

This was stated by Mr S.S. Srivastava, SSP, while addressing a press conference here today. He said apart from arms and ammunition, a white Maruti car had also been seized from the suspects. Their three accomplices namely Captain Singh alias Kaity, of Tera Kalan, Bachitar Singh, alias Babbu, of Khatrai Kalan, both of Amritsar district, and Joginder Singh of Budhewal in Hoshiarpur district fled in a red Maruti car.

The SSP said on July 9 a bank dacoity was committed in Punjab and Sind Bank, Jhanda Kalan branch in the district, in which Rs 1.53 lakh were looted by some unknown persons. To crack this case a special team led by Mr Lakhwinder Singh, SP(D), was constituted to launch a large-scale search operation under the guidance of Mr Sanjiv Kalra, DIG, Faridkot Range. He said police parties had been dispatched to arrest these culprits and they would be arrested soon.

Detailed investigations revealed that besides this dacoity, the gang was also responsible for several bank dacoities and robberies which took place in the past 18 months in different parts of Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pardesh.

The arrested gang members have confessed before the police that they committed 12 bank dacoities and looted more than Rs 22 lakh. The Jhunir police has registered a case against the gang members.


Theft or bungling?
Our Correspondent

Mansa, August 17
Large-scale bungling in the purchase of electric goods has come to light in the market committees of Budhlada and Bareta. The committees had purchased these electric goods for lighting at the purchase centres.

The committees purchased similar goods and the same type of electric goods were alleged to have been stolen at the same time from both markets. Costly goods at the markets were left untouched by thieves. The police was not informed for four days after the alleged theft.

Sources say that either spurious goods were purchased in the name of quality goods or the goods were never purchased at all. To conceal the value of goods, a false case of theft has been lodged with the police.

On the condition of anonymity, a senior police official said, without breaking the locks, it was impossible to steal anything from the two places and that, too, at the same time. The police at Budhlada and Bareta doubts the theft story and believes that all this is to put a veil on the bungling.


JBT teachers not paid salaries
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 17
As many as 20,831 JBT teachers and related staff working in about 13,000 government primary schools of the state and offices of the Block Primary Education Officers under the non-plan temporary posts have not been paid salaries for the months of June and July. As a result, they are facing a severe financial crunch.

Mr Raj Kishore Kalra, spokesperson for the Government Teachers Union, Punjab, said the main reason for the non-payment of salaries was that the Finance Department had not granted approval to these posts. Out of these posts, 20,368 affected officials are primary school teachers, 53 Block Primary Education Officers, seven Deputy District Education Officers seven Superintendents, 14 Senior Assistants, 57 clerks, 8 drivers, 57 peons, 60 Class IV employees and 200 part-time employees.

Mr Kalra said the salary for March, April and May was also paid to these teachers following temporary financial sanction by the District Education Officers concerned for first quarter of this financial year. Surprisingly, even after a lapse of 5 months, the government has not granted budgetary sanction for the release of their salaries regularly.


Dhahan Trust to set up medical college in 5 years
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 17
The Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Education Trust, Dhahan Kaleran (Nawanshahr), an NRI-sponsored charitable trust, organised a function on the trust premises on yesterday to welcome Mr Budh Singh Dhahan, founder president, Mr Hardev Singh Kahma, senior vice-president and Bhai Joga Singh, who have returned after more than two months’ ‘fund raising visit to the UK’. They shared their experiences with the trust members, staff and prominent citizens of the area.

Mr Budh Singh Dhahan has been visiting foreign countries for raising funds to run the multi-speciality hospital, nursing college, senior secondary school, drug-de-addiction centre etc under the aegis of the trust for the past more than two decades. He said that he visited a number of towns—Birmingham, Giester, Derby Hitchen, Dartford, London etc in the UK recently and the Punjabis residing in the UK, though presently facing a financial crisis due to recession in the garment trade there have contributed 2.50 lakh pounds. He said that the donations were collected through the charitable societies registered in the UK, the USA and Canada and these governments had been providing tax exemptions to the donors. Mr Dhahan lamented that though foreign governments had been providing tax exemptions to the NRI donors but the government of Punjab, where the trust had been spending NRI donations Rs 2.50 crore a year and providing health and education facilities to the people, had withdrawn the facility of sales tax exemption in 1992.

Mr Dhahan further said that the trust with the cooperation of the philanthropists here and abroad would strive to set up a trauma centre and cardiology centre in the hospital, start paramedical courses and make the senior secondary school residential. The goal of setting up a medical college would be realised in five years, he said while appealing the people of the state especially Doaba region to come forward to contribute just Rs100/- a year per family so that the dream of setting up the medical college be realised soon.


Teachers to observe ‘black day’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 17
The Punjab State Aided School Teachers Union has decided to boycott official functions of Teachers Day and to observe ‘black day’ to protest against the failure of the state government to accept its demands.

Mr Teja Singh, president of the union, in a press note issued here today, said that they would tie black badges on Teachers Day and boycott official functions on September 5. All district units of the union had been told to hold protest march at district headquarters, he said, adding that the state government was pursuing anti-employee policies.


Varsity staff to hold rally today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 17
The Guru Nanak Dev University Non-teaching Employees Association will hold a rally on the university campus here on August 18 in protest against the alleged anti-employee policies of the state and central governments. The rally will be addressed by senior activists of universities and the Education Board Employees Federation (Punjab and Chandigarh).

The federation is demanding the implementation of the personal promotion scheme and to provide promotions by giving 4-9-14 years’ pay scales to the employees, besides several other demands.

This was informed by Mr Sukhwinder Singh Randhawa and Mr Amarjit Bai, president and secretary, respectively, of the federation in a joint press statement issued here today.


Security sought for college Principal
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 17
Members of the Principals’ Association of Non-Government Colleges, affiliated to Panjab University, Chandigarh, at their meeting held at S.G.G.S. Khalsa College, Mahilpur, yesterday condemned the attack on Dr Janmit Singh, Principal DAV College Hoshiarpur allegedly by Mr Kamal Chaudhary, former MP and President of the DAV Managing Committee and his men on August 12 on the college premises.

They decided to call upon the Deputy Commissioner here for providing security to Dr Janmit Singh and curb those attempting to control managing committee of the DAV College Hoshiarpur by adopting undemocratic methods.

Mr P.S. Sangha, president of the association, said Dr Janmit Singh was manhandled by Mr Kamal Chaudhary. The association demanded security to Dr Janmit Singh.


Assessment council visit on Aug 26
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 17
The team of the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC) Bangalore is visiting Bhai Asa Singh Girls College, Goniana Mandi in Bathinda district on August 26 and August 27, 2003 for its assessment and accreditation.

The Principal of the college said yesterday that NAAC team would hold meetings with the Principal, Management, faculty staff, students and parents.

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