Tuesday, August 19, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Tug of war over control of judicial panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
High drama was witnessed in the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission when the old panel, led by Mr Manmohan Singh Brar (President), occupied the seats in the court and tried, in vain, to function as directed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. The panel was opposed by Mr Kashmir Singh Patti and Mr Raghbir Singh, President and member of the commission, respectively, which led to an altercation.

An ugly situation was averted on the intervention of the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, who reached the scene and tried to pacify both parties. Apart from a heavy deployment of a police force, a large number of supporters of both panels had assembled in the complex of the commission.

While the old panel, including Mr Brar (President), Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhawa (both members), in its telegrams sent to the Registrar of the high court, the Deputy Commissioner and the Secretary, SGPC, claimed that it had taken over charge as directed by the high court, Mr Patti said the charge was still with their panel.

He said he was ready to hand over the charge if the old panel submitted a certified copy of the high court order. “We can not believe reports published in the media”, Mr Patti said. On the other hand, Mr Brar alleged that the district administration, including the Deputy Commissioner, had been favouring the old panel, headed by Mr Patti, at the behest of the Chief Minister, which amounted to contempt of court.

The state government had suffered a big jolt after the Punjab and Haryana High Court had quashed a notification issued on July 5 last year whereby the previously constituted Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission was restored.

During the tug of war between Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, the state government had issued the impugned notification as part of its efforts to enable Mr Tohra to regain his lost glory. The old panel (of Mr Brar) was appointed by removing Mr Patti and two others by the then Akali government in January, 1999, before the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa Panth.

It is learnt that the state government through its Advocate-General has moved the Supreme Court against the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Mr Patti and Mr Raghbir Singh will also file separate appeals in the apex court.


Farmers’ panel asks CM to withdraw false cases
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
The Affected Farmers Struggle Committee, Lehra Mohabbat, today urged the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to take necessary steps to withdraw false criminal cases registered against members of the committee by the SAD-BJP government.

In a press note issued here today, Mrs Sukhdev Kaur, member, zila parishad, and member of the committee alleged that apart from registering criminal cases against the members, the previous government had also transferred one of the member from the Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohabbat, on flimsy grounds. Some of the members were suspended and issued chargesheets to punish them for their association with Capt Amarinder Singh, who was then the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee.

She added that during the Beant Singh government, a policy was made by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) that a job would be given to one member of each family, whose land was acquired for setting up the GHTP. When the SAD-BJP combine came to power, it banned the implementation of the policy on June 2, 1998.

She said Capt Amarinder Singh had promised the members on September 3, 1999, at Mehraj village during the election campaign that all the demands of committee would be met when the Congress came to power. Though one year and a half had passed since the Congress formed the government, Capt Amarinder Singh had done nothing for the committee.

The committee demanded that the false case registered against the members should be cancelled and transfer of the member also be cancelled. Apart from it, the government should make arrangements for providing a job to one member of each family, whose land holdings were acquired for setting up the thermal plant.


Decision on NPA may be deferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Punjab Government is likely to defer the implementation of its decision to withdraw the non-practicising allowance (NPA) until the Cabinet sub-committee, constituted by the government to review its decision on the NPA, submits its report, it is learnt.

In a statement issued here today, Dr M.S. Randhawa and Dr Jaspal Singh Gill, patron and state publicity secretary of the PCMS Association, Punjab, respectively claimed that the Health Department was going to convince the Chief Minister to defer the implementation of the withdrawal of the NPA, until the committee submitted the report.

Members of the association also submitted their viewpoint on the issue to the Chairman of the committee, Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, who is also the Health Minister.

They stated that the Principal Secretary, Health, was working out the modalities to bring some reforms in the health delivery system in the state. As a result, decisions on some vital issues might be deferred.

In a representation to the Cabinet sub-committee, they suggested that doctors who did not want to do private practice should be allowed to opt for the NPA following an undertaking.


No govt effort to check erosion of farm land
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 18
Residents of six villages of Indo-Pakistan border across Ravi river are a worried lot due to erosion of land from floods protection measures. The villages facing erosion due to flood in Jalalia and Ujh rivers are Mutthi, Bamial Forward, Kajle, Samala, Maakhanpur and Makaura Feeri.

Floods in Ravi river have been contained to a large extent following Ranjit Sagar Dam, still lands of villages like Mammi Chakranga, Chebe and Toor continue to be erode by Beas river due to rivers like Jalalia, Basantar Tarna and Ujh joining the Ravi at various points in this district. Land of Chebe and Toor about 1500 acres has already been eroded, erosion of land by Ravi opposite Mammi Chakranga has also started.

Official sources said that the Drainage Department has not received any funds for the past seven years for flood protection. Sources added that due to financial crisis by the Punjab Government, funds might not be allocated even in the next year. The Drainage Department has been receiving funds from the Central Government at the instance of the BSF to protect defence and security installations but these were too meagre to check land erosion.

Official sources said that due to floods in Jalalia this year a loop near Dhussie Bundh has developed opposite Mutthi village which can cause breach to the bundh if measures like construction of studs were not undertaken.

Official sources said that Kajle has been in the news for land erosion of the village for past three years.

During monsoon season floods in Ujh caused a lot of damage to the land of the Makaura village. Here opposite Makaura village the Ujh joins Ravi and the flow of the river becomes very fast. During this season the floods in Ujh made the situation worse and more than 40 acres of the land of the village was washed away. Land erosion is still continuing.

Official sources said that the situation had been brought to government and make a request for the allocation of funds sent, but in vain.


Jails of corruption, indiscipline?
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Punjab and Haryana High Court directive to the Director-General of Prisons, Punjab, to probe all cases of parole to convicts allegedly in violation of government rules in the past three years, is likely to open a pandora’s box.

The Director-General of Prisons, Mr A. P. Bhatnagar, while talking to TNS, said “corruption and indiscipline” were all pervasive in the jail administration. Granting parole to convicts was just one aspect. There were also reports that the jail staff were strong on furthering their vested interests and weak on the enforcement of rules. The recent escape of two prisoners from Ferozepore jail is a pointer to the laxity in the administration.

There have also been complaints of jail staff often joining hands for extraneous considerations. Cases of embezzlement and misappropriation of money in the procurement and purchase of raw material for kitchens and vocational trades and the sales thereof have also been reported. Underhand deals for permitting meetings between the inmates and their relatives were also not be ruled out.

“Once the inquiry starts, all aspects will be looked into,” said Mr Bhatnagar when asked, whether it was true that the rate for parole applications at the headquarters was Rs 1,000 per applicant and whether parole applications were manipulated in jails.

The August 13 court order specifically asks the DGP to inquire into the circumstances in which Narinder, alias Kala, was granted parole in circumvention of the rules and to also fix responsibility. Kala, it may be recalled, had remained on parole from March 16, 2000 to May 20, 2003. The DGP is also to frame a policy as to how non-influential, ordinary convicts’ applications for parole could be processed, speedily, say within 30 days.

There is a well-defined system of seeking and allowing parole, involving even district magistrates. Specific purposes, periods and intervals between two paroles are prescribed in the Punjab Good Conduct (Prisoners Temporary Release) Act, 1998. Yet these rules are flouted with impunity, as revealed in the high court.

Speaking about the jails in general, Mr Bhatnagar said the minister in charge was keen to improve the “living conditions” and was likely to visit jails in Canada, Australia and the UK to study the prison administration.

There are 28 jails, seven central jails, one each for women and children (Borstal) at Ludhiana, two open jails at Kapurthala and Nabha and nine jail training schools. There are some districts, like Nawanshahr, which do not have a jail, much to the consternation of the police, prisoners and their relations. The jails are overcrowded with nearly 14,000 inmates. The undertrials constitute 70 per cent of the jail population. Of all the prisoners, only 212 are literate, matriculation pass to post-graduates. There are 23 convict extremists and 26 undertrial extremists in the jails.

Acute paucity of funds has affected the “expansion and modernisation” of the jails. Under the Centre’s five-year Plan, Punjab is to entitled to get money on a sharing basis, the Centre contributing 75 per cent and the state 25 per cent. The department has received the Centre’s share of Rs 15 crore for the current year but not the state’s share.

Mr Bhatnagar said jails needed better infrastructure and more space, as these were also “reformatories”. The inmates were engaged in vocations like carpentry, weaving and dyeing and also worked on the jails farms. The living conditions, hygiene and cleanliness required to be improved. There was also an urgent need to inculcate discipline among the jail staff.


DIG told to re-investigate case of
woman’s disappearance
Human rights panel orders registration of case
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Taking serious note of a gross human rights violation case involving mysterious disappearance of a 20-year-old girl from Jalandhar, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has directed the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP), Jalandhar, to register an FIR in the matter.

Hearing the case filed by the girl's brother who requested the commission to help him find whether his sister had been murdered or had disappeared, the commission also directed the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Jalandhar Range, to depute an officer of the Superintendent of Police level to “reinvestigate the matter”. A gardener working in Sector 5, Chandigarh, Ram Sajiwan, had filed a complaint in this matter with the Division No 5 police in Jalandhar on November 23 last year.

After knocking at the doors of police officials in both Jalandhar and Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh where Seema Devi had been married to Baban Gupta in May last year, Ram Sajiwan finally approached the PSHRC some time back requesting for a thorough investigation in the case. In his complaint filed under Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, the complainant has prayed the commission to look into the disappearance of his sister and also to get the case investigated by a premiere agency.

The case, filed on Ram Sajiwan's behalf by advocate Veena Kumari of the Human Rights Law Network, brings disturbing facts to light, including the fact that Seema Devi was being harassed for dowry by her husband and in-laws. In the complaints filed with the commission and those filed with the police authorities in Uttar Pradesh and Jalandhar, Ram Sajiwan has stated that his sister was being harassed for dowry ever since she was married on May 15 last year.

He added that later Seema’s husband, Baban Gupta, shifted base to Jalandhar to look for a better job. Ram Sajiwan has also mentioned that “after their marriage the couple left for Jalandhar and were staying with Mohan Lal. In October last year, myself and my father, Bhawani Prasad, received a message that Seema was sick and that we should come to see her.”

To the utter amazement of the complainant, Seema was to be found nowhere. It was then informed by Baban Gupta that she was dead and that she had been cremated in Jalandhar. Shocked at the miserable turn of events, Ram Sajiwan first filed a complaint with the Police Commissioner, Sultanpur, Uttar Pradesh, in October. Subsequently he reported the matter to the Division No 5 police, Jalandhar. The complainant's father also met the SSP of Jalandhar, but to no avail.

Unable to convince himself of his sister's death, Ram Sajiwan finally sought the commission’s help, pleading that life of Seema was in danger.

Earlier taking up the case on December 11 last year, the commission had referred that an inquiry into this matter be conducted by the ADGP, Crime. However, an inquiry was made by the ADGP of the commission who stated that the case needed to be reinvestigated by a senior-level police officer.

Finally taking up the case on August 11, the commission directed the DIG, Jalandhar, to appoint an SP-level officer for probing the matter. The commission has also ordered that a case be registered in this matter.


Details sought on soft drink, milk adulteration
Kiran Deep

Chandigarh, August 18
Taking a serious note of the incomplete report filed by the Director Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, on the adulteration of milk and soft drinks, the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) today directed the Director Health Services, Punjab, to provide complete information on the presence of pesticides in soft drinks and the presence of any adulterated elements like urea or synthetic chemicals in milk.

The three-page order passed by the Full Bench of the PSHRC comprising its chairman Justice N.C. Jain and member Justice R.L. Anand said, “The information supplied to the commission by Director Health and Family Welfare, (regarding adulteration in the milk and soft drinks) is vague and evasive and is not in tune with the order passed by the PSHRC on August 7.”

Giving details, the PSHRC added, “The report filed by the Director Health and Family Welfare does not specify whether the samples of soft drinks were taken of renowned trademark, such as Coca Cola, Pepsi, Fanta and Sprite.”

The report also does not disclose whether any injurious elements in the shape of pesticides were noticed in the sample.

The report filed by the Director, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, today in the commission informed that from August 7 to 14, the department had seized 155 samples of milk and 57 of soft drinks and the same had been sent for analysis to the laboratories in Chandigarh, Bathinda and Jalandhar. The reports of these samples are awaited.

It was also stated in the report that from January 1 to July 2003, a total 98 samples of milk and 53 samples of soft drink were seized by the department. Out of these, 18 samples of milk and five of cold drinks have been found adulterated. But no synthetic milk and insecticide or pesticide in the cold drinks have been reported by the government testing laboratories.

The PSHRC said the commission further stated that the commission also wanted to know whether in the milk contents any injurious element such as urea or any synthetic chemical is noticed by the laboratory so that the commission may be able to curb the menace of adulteration waters and adulterated milk.

The next date of hearing is August 25.


Mann may vote for NDA govt
Tribune News Service

Sangrur August 18
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), led by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today declared that it would vote against the Congress-sponsored no-confidence motion against the Vajpayee-led government in the Lok Sabha if it felt that the NDA government might fall short of the requisite numbers.

Talking to TNS over the phone, Mr Mann said the SAD(A) did not want the NDA government to fall so it would vote against the motion to save the government. He said the SAD(A) also did not agree with this no-confidence motion of the Congress. He also added that the SAD(A) would remain neutral if it felt that the government would not fall.

Mr Mann also stated that his party would organise a protest at Longowal on August 20, the day of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal’s death anniversary, against the government for not fulfilling the demands of Punjab.

Lashing out at Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, Governor of Andhra Pradesh, Mr Mann said Mr Barnala was still politically active in the Sangrur constituency and demanded his removal from the post of Governor on this ground.


Tohra men given important SAD posts
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Supporters of SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra have been given important posts in the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD president.

Mr Tohra, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Mr Prem Singh Lalpura and Mr Harmel Singh Tohra have been made members of the Political Affairs Committee. Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal and Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra have been made General Secretaries and Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar patron of the SAD. Mr Manjit Singh has been inducted as Senior Vice-President and Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala as Junior Vice-President of the SAD.

Supporters of Mr Tohra at district level will be adjusted later. The party’s organisational elections are expected to be held before the Lok Sabha elections. Under Election Commission instructions, organisational elections must be held for all parties.


SAD holds rally against govt excesses
Our Correspondent

Barnala, August 18
The path of confrontation adopted by the Punjab Government led by Captain Amarinder Singh, will not at all succeed in undermining the popularity as well as the strength of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) in masses, of the state and country.

This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, former Punjab Chief Minister and president of the SAD, while addressing a party workers’ rally at the new grain market, Barnala Complex, today.

Mr Badal said the rally was organised with two motives of mobilising SAD activists for August 20 Sant Harchand Singh Longowal’s death anniversary function at Longowal village and lodging protest against the Punjab Government and police excesses against SAD leaders and activists in the state.


Sikh organisations demand ban on satsang
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 18
Tension has started building up in this town as various Sikh organisations today threatened that they would not allow the Divya Jyoti Jagriti Sansthan to hold Satsang here on August 24. On the contrary, members of the sansthan alleged that only those who had little knowledge about religion and spiritualism were opposing their function.

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, the Chief Minister, Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, and the Minority Commission, Government of India, representatives of various Sikh organisations today threatened that if the authorities concerned failed to impose a ban on the holding of satsang by the sansthan, then it could lead to a similar situation which had developed in Malout and Tarn Taran about a year ago.

A number of activists of various Sikh organisations, including the Dal Khalsa, were injured after the police resorted to firing and a lathi charge on them while they were proceeding towards the venue where Ashutosh Maharaj head of the sansthan, was holding a satsang. A clash also took place between the activists of various Sikh organisations and followers of the sansthan and a number of persons were injured.

Apart from submitting the memorandum, the activists of various Sikh organisations held a march in the city to protest against the setting up of a base by Ashutosh Maharaj in the city.

The members of various Sikh Organisations and an action committee formed in this connection also demanded in the memorandum that a CBI probe should be instituted into the “anti-social” activities and “misdeeds” of the sansthan. They alleged that Ashutosh Maharaj who had been changing his names frequently, had been disturbing the peace and the law and order situation in Punjab. Various allegations levelled against Ashutosh Maharaj by Sikh organisations had been found true by a commission set up by the Punjab government in the secret reports gathered by it.

Even the Human Rights Commission had admitted that Ashutosh Maharaj and his disciples had been creating communal and religious tension in Punjab. Therefore, a ban should be imposed on the holding of a satsang by him. They added that they had also attached documentary proof in support of the allegations levelled by them against Ashutosh Maharaj in the memorandum.

Jathedar Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, while talking to TNS pointed out that Sikh religious preachers had been pressed into service to go from village to village to make the people aware about the anti-Sikh Panth activities of Ashutosh Maharaj. He alleged that Ashutosh Maharaj had been denigrating Sikhism apart from misleading young boys and girls.

He said a ‘Sampoornata Divas’ function to mark the compilation of Damdami Bir by Guru Gobind Singh at Talwandi Sabo about more than 300 years ago would be held on August 30 and the sansthan issue would also be taken up in that function.

Sources said on encountering massive resistance by various Sikh organisations, a section of disciples of Ashutosh Maharaj had started thinking of postponing the satsang.


Call Sikhs' meeting, Dal Khalsa to SGPC

Hoshiarpur, August 18
The Dal Khalsa yesterday urged the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to convene a World Sikh Meet of intellectuals, experts, political and religious activists on October 24 at Sri Akal Takht Sahib in Amritsar to lay the procedures of appointment and removal of Jathedar's and issuance of Hukamnamas.

Dal Khalsa working president Harcharanjit Singh Dhami said yesterday that the meet should be convened under the aegis of Akal Takht to discuss all unresolved issues pertaining to powers of Takht Jathedars' according to the Sikh 'rehat maryada' (code of conduct).

Taking exception over the rift created within Sikhs in the wake of excommunication of Canada based author Kala Afgana, he said that the SGPC had failed in discharging its duty in setting procedure that had resulted in present situation.

He said that his party was concerned because the division within Sikhs on this issue had widened and it was fraught with dangerous implications.

Mr Dhami said that the pro-Kala Afgana camp had convened a World Sikh conference at Chandigarh on October 26 to take the issue of ex-communication of Kala Afgana to streets. — PTI


SGPC-run colleges: be self-sufficient,
Tohra to principals
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 18
Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, SGPC, has asked the principals of the SGPC-run colleges to become self-sufficient in running the colleges and not look towards the government and the managements for grants. He stressed the need for quality education.

Mr Tohra suggested them to start vocational courses for improving their financial position. He said at present majority of the SGPC-run colleges were facing financial crunch and they should control their expenses and check excess staff. He advocated the idea of contractual employment.

He directed the principals to send data of their teaching and non-teaching staff and that of the strength on the students also. He urged the principals to transfer surplus staff to institutions facing shortage.

He asked the principals to generate income by properly utilising the property of their respective colleges and if there was scope for constructing shops and commercial sites they must go for it.

Later, he addressed a workers’ meeting and urged them to work unitedly for the Panth. Capt. Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, Mr R.S.Cheema, former minister, Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, former MLA, and Mr Didar Singh Bhatti, SAD leader, also addressed the meeting.


Govt ‘attitude’ to SGPC-run institutes decried
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Chief Secretary, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee yesterday criticised the state government for singling out institutions run by minorities for unfair treatment.

In a press statement here yesterday he said that the fee structure of the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research had been determined by the government itself with approval from the Medical Council of India. He denied that capitation fee was being charged by the said institute and only fees, duly approved by the universities, concerned had been charged for various courses.

He urged the government to review its stand.


Patiala SSP’s removal sought
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
Criticising today’s reported statement of Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal alleging that Avtar Singh Tari and Gurinder Singh Kala were terrorists, the Khalra Mission Committee (KMC) sought his removal and said a case be registered against him.

The general secretary of the KMC, Mr Balwinder Singh Jhabal, in a press note alleged that earlier too, false cases were registered by the same SSP, including one against Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Punjab human rights activist for an alleged rape.

He alleged that the recent incident of the registration of “false case” against Tari and Kala by declaring them “terrorists” had exposed the working of the police, especially of the SSP, Patiala.

Mr Jhabal demanded an enquiry by present Judges of the Punjab and Haryana High Court into the cases registered against Kirpal Singh Randhawa, Avtar Singh Tari and Gurinder Singh Kala and murder of a 12-year-old-boy by two policemen in Patiala.

He revealed that the Amnesty International, National Human Rights Commission and Supreme Court had been informed about the cases by telegrams.

He said the KMC would issue a report about the statements given by Tari and Kala that they were police informers and many Sikh youths had been killed in false encounters. He said the report would be submitted to the Governor later on.


Work on Punjab Yuva Bhavan resumes
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, August 18
Work on the partially complete Punjab Yuva Bhavan, which was abandoned seven years ago following paucity of funds, got a fillip today when the Sports and Youth Services Minister, Punjab, Mr Jagmohan Kang, performed the “bhumi pujan” ceremony for the completion of the building in Sector 42 here.

Stating that the construction of the bhavan was likely to be completed by the end of the year, Mr Kang said the government would do its best to complete the construction as early as possible. Once completed, the bhavan will house three offices — Director Sports, Director Youth Services and Director General Centre for Training and Employment of Punjab Youth (C - Pyte). It will save the government of spending Rs 1 lakh per month on rent of the three departments.

Saying that the government intended to implement the recently declared New Sports Policy of Punjab, Mr Kang said hike in the pension for senior sportspersons, opening up of sports nurseries for budding sportspersons and giving the local sportsmen national and international exposure would get top priority.

The Punjab Yuva Bhavan is expected to provide a common platform for youth activities like holding of seminars, meetings and cultural programmes, besides providing accommodation to Punjab youth visiting the state capital for different purposes.

Spread over 1.5 acres of land allotted by the then Governor of Punjab, Gen O.P. Malhotra, way back in 1991, the bhavan will have spacious hall, auditorium and hostel facilities both in the form of dormitory as well as family accommodation. A sum of Rs 1.24 crore has already been spent on this project by the National Building Construction Corporation. The Punjab Government has now released Rs 70 lakh as funds for the completion of the project.

Representatives of different religions performed prayers for the completion of the bhavan today. Mr Kang also planted saplings of ornamental plants in the complex. Prominent among those who attended the ceremony were the Additional Secretary, Mr Surjit Singh Dhillon, Director General (C- Pyte), Brig J.S. Randhawa, Director Youth Services, Ms Hirdeipal, Joint Director Sports, Ms Chanchal Surjit Singh, Director Animal Husbandry, Dr B.S. Sidhu, and Director, Fisheries, Dr Savinder Singh.


Promotions of 8 doctors cleared
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 18
Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, said that on the recommendations of the Depart-mental Promotion Committee (DPC), Dr Surinder Kumar Bansal, Dr Dharampal, Dr H.G. Gill, Dr H.P.S. Sandhu, Dr Hardev Singh, Dr Jujhar Singh, Dr Yash Pal Singh and Dr Nirpal Singh had been promoted. With these promotions all acting Civil Surgeons and Deputy Directors in the state would be replaced with regular ones in next fortnight.

Mr Dogra stated this here today. To a question Mr Dogra made it clear that promotions had been ordered on the recommendations of the DPC on merit.

On the functioning of ayurvedic wing of the Health Department he said that to make its working more effective and to promote this system of medicine, national changes would soon be done.

All vacant posts including that of Director Ayurvedic Punjab would be filled shortly. Director of this wing would only be appointed among the ayurvedic doctors. He had instructed the officers concerned to hold meeting of the DPC of this wing soon to promote ayurvedic doctors which was due for long. He said that funds for medicines would be made available in the budget of the Health Department. He said that 20 Ayurvedic dispensaries would be opened in rural and backward area of Kandi to facilitate the poor. Medicines worth Rs 25000 each would be provided to all these dispensaries by the Central Government.

Earlier a deputation of ayurvedic doctors led by Dr Ashwani Parashar met the Health Minister and apprised him of the discrepancies of ayurvedic wing due to which the functioning of this department was hit.


Escorts package for farmers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
The Escorts Heart and Super Speciality Institute, today launched the “Kisan Swasthya Yojna” to make the latest heartcare facilities available to farmers.

Launching the healthcare package scheme, the Chairman and Executive Director, Escorts Heart and Super Speciality Institute, Amritsar, Dr Naresh Trehan, said the scheme was dedicated to the farmers of Punjab so that they could avail best heart care facility at specially discounted rates.

Dr T.S. Kler, Director, Escorts, Amritsar, said the scheme had been launched in recognition of their contribution to the nation’s food resources.

Dr Kler said till now heart patients from Punjab have to travel to Escorts Heart Institute, New Delhi for treatment.

Dr Trehan informed that it was in 1998 that the Community Outreach Programme was initiated as a social commitment to the rural poor, having taken cognisance of the prevailing “cardiac injustice” in the country.


Work on bridge leads to traffic jams
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
Traffic jams were witnessed in the city owing to an ineffective publicity about the traffic diversions due to the “jacking-up operation” of the multi-lane Bhandari bridge, which started at about 7.30 am today.

A team of about 110 men undertook the first phase of the operation in which the bridge is to be jacked up by almost 40 cm. This is to facilitate the electrification of railway lines under it. The team, supervised by four railway executive officers and aided by five massive jacks to lift the bridge carried out the work. An executive officer (civil) of the local municipal corporation coordinated efforts of 30 corporation men with the railway team. Mr K.S. Kang, Commissioner of the corporation, said.

However, the closure of all entry and exit points to the Bhandari bridge and lack of proper information to the general public caused much inconvenience to it.

The bridge was jacked up by 8 inches today. This entire exercise is likely to take three days. Two additional days will be taken to make adjustments and synchronise the structure. Following this the corporation will start road and pavement construction. The entire operation will be completed in a fortnight.

It is learnt that information of diversion of traffic will be flashed on the local electronic media. It will also be given on the public address system and through pamphlets whose distribution will start tomorrow morning.


Flying club’s Pushpak may be grounded
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 18
The lone Pushpak aircraft at the Patiala Aviation Club is likely to be grounded for want of money for its insurance.

The functioning of the club has been severely affected for the past nearly one and a half years, with the engines of its two Cessna planes being sent for overhauling to a private company in Chandigarh. This meant that the club had to make do with one Pushpak aircraft for both chartered flights as well as training of students. The club was getting few chartered flights or students as the latter prefer to train in the Cessna instead of the Indian-made Pushpak.

The Pushpak had been functioning with one plane till a few months ago when it developed a minor snag. This could not be corrected for a few months because of non-availability of skilled manpower for the job. While the problem has almost been rectified, the flying of the aircraft has again been jeopardised with its insurance lapsing recently.

Sources said the Pushpak would have to be insured again before it could be put on flying duty. They said the problem had arisen due to a severe resource crunch following a Vigilance raid on the club a few months ago. During the raid, some irregularities were allegedly detected, including difference in the stock register and actual fuel available on the club premises.

The sources said due to a change in management and no money in balance, various problems had arisen and the club had not been able to get money to pay for the overhaul of its Cessna engines. The sources said the private company had asked the club to pay money for the spares, which were to be bought from various vendors earlier so that it would be in a position to make more purchases from them.

Meanwhile, employees of the club are also protesting that the resource crunch has resulted in no payment of their salaries for a six-month period.

Club workers’ union president Balinder Kumar said employees had not been paid their dues for six months despite several assurances in the past that they would be paid regularly. He said earlier also the 17 employees of the club had been getting their pay sporadically.

The employees said the presence of the Jalandhar Flying Club on the same premises was eating into the club’s revenue.

Mr Balinder Kumar said the Jalandhar club had been shifted to Patiala on a temporary basis some years ago. He demanded that the government establish the proposed Aviation Authority at the earliest and go in for modernising and upgradation of the infrastructure as well as facilities in the aviation clubs.


One killed, five hurt in mishap
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 18
Davinder Thakral (52), an inspector with the Food Corporation of India was killed and five others injured in an accident on the Fazilka-Ferozepore road near Ladhuka village, 14 km from here, today. The injured included a minor girl.

According to information received, they were travelling from Fazilka to Jalalabad in a jeep, which skidded, resulting in serious injuries to Davinder Thakral and others. Thakral succumbed to his injuries on reaching the local civil hospital. Thakral, a resident of Dawra street here was posted at Ladhuka village. He is survived by his wife and a daughter.

The injured include Harminder Singh (37), a resident of Jalalabad, jeep driver Jaswinder Singh (20), Vijay Kumar (35), a resident of Ferozepore, Madan Gopal (25), a resident of Sappanwali village of Abohar subdivision and Shaina (11), a resident of Ferozepore. Harminder Singh, Madan Gopal and Shaina were discharged after first aid. the police has registered a case and are investigating the matter.

In another accident, Anil Kumar, a resident of Jalandhar, and Lekhu, a resident of Fazilka, were injured as the car they were travelling in hit a wall. Anil, who was driving the car, sustained serious injuries and has been referred to Faridkot.


Three killed as car collides with cart
Our Correspondent

Abohar, August 18
Three persons were killed and another was injured when a car collided with a camel cart late last night.

Sources said Tejinder, son of Ramanand, a resident of Jhumianwali village near here, had gone to Hanumangarh on Sunday along with others for a social engagement. As they were returning by a Maruti car at night, the car collided with a camel cart laden with dry wood near Ramsara village on the state highway.

Two occupants of the car, Mahender Kumar, son of Mr Tirlok Chand, and Suresh Kumar, son of Mani Ram, died on the spot while two others were injured seriously.

SHO Raj Kumar Jalhotra of Sadar police station was returning home by the same road. He took the injured to the Civil Hospital here. Ramesh Chander, son of Ram Kumar, a resident of Dangarkhera village succumbed to his wounds shortly after he was admitted to the emergency ward. The condition of Tejinder was described as critical. The bodies were handed over to the parents after a post-mortem. A case has been registered.


Forest Dept staff hold dharna
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 18
Daily-wage workers of the Forest Department held a dharna in front of the office of the Ropar Divisional Forest Officer to protest against the non-payment of their wages. At least 1,000 daily-wage workers in the Ropar division had been going without wages since March.

Leaders of the Punjab Class IV Employees’ Union alleged that forest officials were harassing the workers. The workers later marched to the office of the Deputy Commissioner Ropar and submitted a memorandum to him.


2 drowned in temple pond

Hoshiarpur, August 18
Two boys were drowned in a pond on the Sheetala Mata temple premises in Mukerian town in the district last evening.

According to the police, Ashwani Kumar (18) and his younger brother Govinda (16) were enjoying boating in the 10 ft-deep temple pond when their boat capsized. The bodies were recovered from the pond this morning. —UNI


Farmer hurt in mine blast
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, August 18
The right foot of a farmer Kulwant Singh, was blown up in a mine blast in his fields at Fattuwala village, 10 kms from here, this afternoon.

According to reports, Kulwant Singh was ploughing his fields when a mine blew up beneath his feet. His fields were returned to him by the Army recently after ‘de-mining’. A certificate to this effect was also issued by the army authorities. Kulwant Singh, son of a former MLA Mr Phumman Singh, was taken to the local Civil Hospital from where he was referred to the Army Hospital Ferozepore.


Plea against PTU

Chandigarh, August 18
Taking up a petition filed against Punjab Technical University (PTU) and another respondent, a Division Bench of the High Court Bench on Monday directed the respondents not to fill one seat in the electronics branch.

The Bench comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal also issued notice of motion to the PTU and Guru Nanak Dev Engineering University (GNDEU) at Ludhiana. The petition will now come up for further hearing on August 29.

In his petition, Mr Harbir Singh Gill of Ludhiana district had earlier sought directions for restraining the respondents from filling more than 30 per cent seats belonging to the urban area category in GNDEU in the electronics branch.


Sareen released on bail
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
The prime accused in the multi-crore kidney racket, Dr P.K. Sareen, was released on bail today on the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. Dr Sareen was arrested on January 11 for violating the Human Organ Transplantation Act and for allegedly causing death of a kidney donor Sudesh Kumar.

Earlier, Dr Sareen had been granted bail in another case. He was finally released from jail today. Dr Sareen, a leading transplant surgeon, and four of his associates were arrested under similar charges. These include Dr Bhupinder Singh Sandhu, Dr Bhushan Aggarwal, Dr P.K. Jain and manager of the Kakkar Hospital Hardayal Mehta. Earlier, the police had also arrested the Principal of the Government Medical College and Chairman of the authorisation committee, Dr O.P. Mahajan, and another member of the committee, Dr Jagdish Gargi, who were subsequently released on bail. The police have already completed the investigation and have filed a challan in court.


11 more get bail in EPF scam case
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 18
Additional Sessions Judge Karamjit Singh today granted interim bail till August 21 to 11 more officers of the Guru Gobind Singh Super Thermal Plant (GGSSTP), Ropar, accused in the EPF scam. With this, 15 out of the 21 accused officers of the thermal plant have been granted interim bail.

The officers who were granted bail today include Ajmer Singh, S.C. Aggarwal, R.D. Singla, S.B. Sharma, K.V. Kansal, Ramesh Aggarwal, Amarjit Singh Walia, V.J. Dhameja, Som Dutt Sharma, N.L. Yadav and S.P. Luthra.

The local police failed to contest even a single bail application of the accused officers. The investigating officer in the case, Mr Manvir Singh, when asked to comment on the matter, said the police did not know about the bail applications of accused officers.


London Chamber clarifies
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 18
Mr Colin Stanbridge, Chief Executive, London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, in a letter to The Tribune has clarified that Mr Dalbir Singh Sandhu was never a President of the Chamber. He was referring to a report “NRIs’ stir against Punjab Govt today” published in these columns on July 19 last.

Mr Stanbridge said that “we have no knowledge of Mr Sandhu and can categorically state that we have never had a President of that name. Furthermore our members are not mobilising support or indeed playing any part in protests.”


DC talks tough with civic officials
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 18
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today directed executive officers of Municipal Councils to file applications in respective courts immediately to get vacated the stay orders on the removal of encroachments. He was addressing the monthly meeting of district officials here.

He said if they caused any delay, disciplinary action would be initiated. He warned them of strict action if it came to his notice that officials were encouraging encroachments on government land and helping encroachers get stay orders from courts. He said such cases would be handed over to the Vigilance Department for investigation.

Mr Ahluwalia lamented that the pace of cleanliness and anti- encroachment drives initiated by the district administration had slowed down. The DC said he would conduct surprise checking of wards and the erring officials would not be spared for negligence of duty.

He directed revenue officials to launch a campaign for the recovery of loans belonging to various government departments.

Mr Ahluwalia directed officials of other departments to send their pending recovery cases to the revenue officials concerned and liaise with them for recovery. He also directed the revenue officials to complete departmental inquiries of patwaris within two days and accept their genuine demands at the earliest.

He directed the district officials to send certificates regarding the utilisation of government grants sanctioned from time to time so that development projects could be completed in a planned manner.

Mr Ahluwalia called upon the officials to plant saplings at various places so that the district could be converted into a green district. He also urged them to involve sarpanches and representatives of social organisations in this activity.

The Deputy Commissioner directed the SDMs to personally supervise all development works being initiated in their respective subdivisions to ensure that government money was properly utilised.

Mr Mohinder Pal Arora, ADC(G), Mr Balwant Singh Shergill, ADC(D), and various SDMs also addressed the meeting.


ASI, ETO held on bribe charge
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 18
In a joint raid by the Vigilance Bureau and district police on Chhehrta police station, an Assistant Sub-Inspector, Bhagwan Singh, and a head constable, Jang Bahadur Singh, were arrested while accepting Rs 1,000 each from Mr Puran Singh, a resident of Guru Ki Wadali.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr T.P.S. Sandhu, SP (Vigilance), said the Vigilance Bureau had also arrested Baldev Singh, Excise and Taxation Officer, Gurdaspur, and his peon Bhagwan Dass while accepting bribe of Rs 5,000 from Mr Rakesh Kumar, who wanted to get his licence for sale of pesticides cancelled.

Mr Sandhu said the Vigilance Bureau unearthed assets (movable and immovable) worth about Rs 2 crore belonging to Sukhjinder Paul, Deputy Engineer, Punjab State Electricity Board, who had been arrested by the bureau recently. Mr Sandhu claimed that the bureau had found 12 accounts opened in the name of Sukhjinder Paul in different banks of the state and about Rs 1.32 crore had been transacted in the past six months. The bureau had also detected a two-storeyed house in Panchkula worth Rs 50 lakh.

Meanwhile, the district police chief, Mr Kultar Singh, has placed Mr Manjit Singh, SHO, Chhehrta police station, under suspension following the arrest of the ASI and head constable while accepting bribe.

Mr T.P.S. Sandhu, SP (Vigilance), said the SSP had issued warnings to the SHO that he had received a number of complaints about the “rampant corruption” in Chhehrta police station, but the SHO did not bother to take corrective measures.


4 cops suspended for trespass
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
Four policemen of a raiding party were suspended by the SSP for trespass today.

According to details, the police party headed by Additional Station House Officer, Baljit Singh, and three constables, including a woman constable of the Sultanwind police station, raided a house in the Jora Phatak area to arrest some persons involved in the flesh trade after information given by a woman arrested earlier by the police.

However, all four of them entered the house of Jaspal Singh, who was not involved in any such activity, according to the SSP, Mr Kultar Singh.

The SSP said Sub-Inspector Baljit Singh (Additional SHO) and three constables were in civil dress while on duty and they did not verify the information given by the woman before raiding the house.

Residents of the area locked the police party in the house, resulting in intervention by senior police officials to defuse the situation, which was likely to become ugly. The residents of the area protested against the raid and shouted slogans against the police. They demanded that a case be registered against the accused officials. The residents alleged that the raiding police party was in an inebriated condition. Eyewitnesses say the policemen misbehaved with the women in the house.

However, the SSP denied the charge that the policemen were drunk at the time of the raid and added that a medical examination had been conducted in this regard.


Robbers loot house
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 18
Robbers looted a house in Bainsa village after intoxicating its occupants, yesterday night. Police sources said Krishan Lal and his wife Rattan Kaur were intoxicated by the robbers while they were sleeping in the house.

The robbers later fled with jewellery and the couple was found unconscious by villagers in the morning.

They were shifted to the Civil Hospital here. Till the filing of the report, they were still lying unconscious. The doctors said the couple was out of danger. The police has registered a case.


2 Bangladeshi nationals held
Our Correspondent

Along the zero line, Ferozepore, August 18
Jawans of the 14 battalion of the BSF has apprehended two Bangladeshi nationals near the Hussainiwala barrier. The arrested Bangladeshi nationals were identified as Mohin Aslam son of Abdul Ruf Mia resident of Habibganj district and Samin Mia son of Amiruddin resident of Sumqanganj district in Bangladesh.

According to the information, two Bangladeshis first came to Kolkata and then reached Amritsar en route New Delhi and finally landed in Ferozepore. BSF sources said that the two Bangladeshis told that they were duped by a travel agent who had promised them a lucrative job in India. They said that in Ferozepore, when they were planning to go back to New Delhi, an autorickshaw driver took them to Bareke village and snatched their belongings.

Last month, on July 28, BSF jawans nabbed six Bangladeshis while attempting to cross over to Pakistan near Chowki Jagdish situated along the zero line.


Girl raped, strangled
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 18
A girl was raped and murdered by two persons in Miani town yesterday.

According to the police, the girl resident of Ward No 4 of Miani town, went to a gurdwara with her mother yesterday. After some time, she came back to the house alone where the two assailants were already present. They raped her and then strangled her. Later they escaped from the house. When her mother came to the house she found her daughter dead.

A case has been registered.


GND University employees’ protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 18
According to the directions of the state unit of the University and Education Board Employees Federation, hundreds of activists of the Guru Nanak Dev University (non-teaching) Employees Association today protested against the alleged anti-employee policies of the state and the Central Government at the university premises here. The rally was addressed by senior activists of the federation who strongly condemned the policies of the government. The federation was demanding the implementation of the personal promotion scheme.

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