Saturday, August 23, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Let us bury the past, says Bhajan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
Praising the Sikh community for its contribution, especially during the freedom movement, Mr Bhajan Lal, a former Chief Minister of Haryana, today said the Sikh Gurus did a lot for the mitigation of the suffering of humanity.

Without mentioning the blunders of the Asian Games held in New Delhi in 1982, when members of the Sikh community were humiliated, Mr Bhajan Lal said, “Let the past be buried”. This was the first visit of the former Chief Minister to the Golden Temple after Asian Games.

After the announcement of the then Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President, Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, that Akali activists would protest during the Asian Games, the Sikhs, including Army officers, who wanted to visit New Delhi for personal work, were stopped and humiliated in Haryana. The SAD had launched an agitation for the acceptance of its demands.

The visit of Mr Bhajan Lal along with his wife Jasma Devi assumes significance in the wake of the Assembly elections due in Haryana in 2005. In certain constituencies, Sikhs are the decisive factor. The opponents of Mr Bhajan Lal had used the Asiad issue against him, especially during the elections. Mr Jagdish Singh Cheema, chairman of the Haryana minority cell, accompanied Mr Bhajan Lal during his visit to the Golden Temple, the Durgiana Temple and Jallianwala Bagh.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Bhajan Lal requested that there should not be a mention of the ‘Asiad humiliation ’ in the report. He said it was his desire to pay obeisance at the Golden Temple, which was fulfilled today. “I feel ecstatic after visiting the temple,” he said.

Mr Bhajan Lal did not inform the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) authorities about his visit. The Deputy Commissioner and the Senior Superintendent of Police, who accompanied him, did not take him to the SGPC’s information centre as they knew that Mr Bhajan Lal might be denied the ‘siropa’ (robe of honour). He was honoured by the Durgiana Committee during his visit to the temple. According to Mr Surinder Arjun, working president of the temple management and Congress leader, Mr Bhajan Lal donated Rs 11,000 for the development of the temple.


College told to sack ‘tainted’ Vice-Principal
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
Following directions issued by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC), the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences has directed the management of the local SLN Ayurvedic College run by the Shree Durgiana Education Foundation to initiate proceedings for the removal of its Vice-Principal, Dr Vibhakar Sharma, “for grave misconduct involving moral turpitude”.

In a communication sent to the president of the management committee, Dr J.S. Gujral, the Vice-Chancellor of the health university, has asked for an immediate compliance of the PSHRC order.

However, while talking to TNS, Dr Sharma described the allegations of “moral turpitude” as baseless which amounted to character assassination. He said his case was still pending with the Chancellor (Governor of Punjab) and the PSHRC did not summon for his version before deciding the case. He alleged that the Vice-Chancellor of the Baba Farid university had taken a “hasty step” by writing to the college management.

The action follows the complaint lodged by the three women teachers of the ayurvedic college — Dr Anjlika Singh, Dr Suman Srivastava and Dr Jasbir Kaur — with the PSHRC that Dr Sharma was harassing women teachers and students and injuring their human rights. They further alleged that Dr Sharma was found guilty of molesting a girl student in 1994. This had led to the removal of the service of the ‘delinquent’ doctor who, however, continued to work in the college through “sheer misrepresentation/concealment of facts”, the order stated.

However, counsel for the management, Mr Charnjit Singh Bakshi, had pleaded that the complaint was ‘misconceived’ and did not in any way warrant intervention by the commission and claimed that university had no authority to interfere in the internal affairs of the college.

In a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Mr Santosh Gupta, president of the managing committee, lodged a protest for asking the college to initiate action against Dr Sharma. He claimed that the allegations of the university that the college management had concealed facts regarding the case of Dr Sharma were “absolutely wrong and baseless”. Mr Gupta further claimed that no order of removal as alleged by the university was ever passed so the question of its implementation did not arise.

He alleged that the Syndicate of the university (college was affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University at that time) had not yet supplied the inquiry report and basis documents to the management and hence the decision of the Syndicate was ex parte.

On the other hand, the Vice-Chancellor, Dr Gujral, said the management of the college was duly informed to initiate action for the removal of Dr Sharma with intimation to the university. He further reads, “It is apparent that the college management has sought to conceal/ misrepresent the facts about Dr Vibhakar Sharma in order to defend his wrongdoings”.


Dharna by engg college students
Our Correspondent

Ropar, Chandigarh 22
Two hundred students of the engineering college at Bhaddal sat in dharna on the Ropar-Chandigarh road near Rangilpur and raised slogans against the Punjab Technical University today. Traffic on the national highway was blocked and later, under pressure from the stranded commuters, the students relented and continued their dharna on the roadside.

They were protesting against the decision of the university, according to which students who had not cleared the first semester would not be allowed to appear in the fifth semester examination and students who had not cleared the second semester would not be allowed to appear in the sixth semester examination.

The students said some student representatives had gone to Jalandhar to meet the university authorities in connection with their demands, adding that if the demands were not met, they would resort to a traffic blockade again.

Students of Rayat Engineering College on the Ropar-Nawanshahr road blocked traffic on the national highway later in the day. The traffic blockade was lifted after about an hour under pressure from the commuters and the local police.


15 Sukhmani students hurt in cane charge
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, August 22
Fifteen students of the local Sri Sukhmani Institute of Engineering were hurt in cane charge by the police while trying to block the busy Chandigarh-Delhi National Highway, this morning.

Protesting against new rules of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, on the institute premises in the morning, students took out a procession to the highway.

The students started blocking the highway in front of the main gate. The principal and other staff members informed the police. A police posse reached the spot and resorted to a mild cane charge.

Two persons of an English daily, were also hurt in the cane charge.

Sources said that two Haryana ministers who were travelling with their security guards were also stopped by the students. The police resorted to cane charge after they got a telephone call from some top official.

The students alleged that the institute principal and other staff members also beat up some agitating students.

Twelve students were rounded up and later let off with a warning.

As many as 70 students of the institute were protesting against the scraping of the ‘‘24 credit rule’’by the university. They were also up in arms against the institute management for misleading the students by not providing them clear picture of the latest notification issued by the university to the institute.

They alleged that the institute charged huge fee before implementing the latest rules.

Meanwhile, Mr I.M.N. Sohi, principal of the institute, denied the allegations saying that the students were told that the ‘24 credit rule’ implemented only on the students who were admitted till 2000. The changed rules were implemented on the students admitted in 2001 onwards, he clarified.

Mr Sohi further said that the institute has already been approaching to the university to grant a special chance for affected students.


FCI paid for rice that never came
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
A case was registered today against a rice miller of Bhucho Mandi, three officials of the Food Corporation of India (FCI) and an official of the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) at the police station at Nathana for their alleged involvement in the fake receipts scam.

The officials in connivance with the miller are alleged to have cheated the FCI by issuing fake receipts. The FCI lost lakhs of rupees this way.

Though the names of accused have not been given, the FIR says that two of the three FCI men are AG-level officials and the third is an Assistant-Manager-level official.

Lakhs of rupees were paid to the rice miller by the FCI in lieu of rice delivered after milling paddy on the basis of fake receipts (weigh sheets). The scam came to light about three weeks ago.

Though the FCI and PSWC are tight-lipped on this scam, an official of the PSWC suspected to have been involved in the scam has been transferred from Bhucho Mandi to keep things under the wrap. A new official has been brought in his place to count the stock of rice.

Sources said that a rice miller of this district had prepared two fake receipts with the help of a section of officials of the PSWC and FCI to establish that he had deposited two wagons loaded with 1,000 bags of rice in the PSWC godown at Bhucho Mandi. The rice was to be delivered to the FCI. Rice millers have been depositing bags in godowns run by various state agencies on behalf of the FCI.

The accused miller used to get blank weight sheets from the office of the FCI, get it signed by one of the officials of the PSWC at Bhucho Mandi and then forge signatures of a senior official on the sheet. He would then get signatures of officials of the FCI on the sheet and collect payment from the FCI in lieu of two wagons of rice that were never deposited in the godown.

When the matter came to the notice of an official whose signatures had been forged, he was transferred from Bhucho Mandi. under pressure from politicians.

No arrest had been made, so far, in this case.


Govt college teachers hold dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Government college teachers today held a dharna in front of the office of the DPI (Colleges) in protest against the indifferent attitude of the government towards their demands.

The Punjab Government College Teachers Association, which organised the dharna, asked its members to wear black badges on Teachers Day and boycott the DPI (Colleges).

The association lamented that seven requests in writing had been made to Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Higher Education Minister, for seeking an appointment but to no avail.

Mr Bhag Singh Sandhu and Mr Jaipal Singh, president and General Secretary respectively of the association, said though certain demands had been accepted by the government long back, no efforts were made to implement them.

Mr Sandhu said their major demand was implementation of the UGC notification on counting past service for placement in the senior and selection grades. On the basis of the UGC instructions, if any teacher had served in a private college or a university as a lecturer before joining the Government college teachers’ cadre, he or she was to be given the benefit of that service while giving the senior or selection grade. But the state government was not doing so in the case of teachers.

The association also urged the government to give relaxation for in-service refresher courses till December, 2004. Mr Jaipal Singh said while teachers wanted to do such courses, the number of seats in the institutions, where such courses were available, was limited. Only after doing these refresher courses, certain benefits such as the senior and selection grades were extended to teachers.

The DPI’s office was creating unnecessary hurdles in the grant of two advance increments to the teachers who had acquired the Ph.D degree before January 1, 1996. Such teachers had not been extended this benefit yet. The updated seniority list of teachers had not yet been released.

Though college teachers became class I officers in 1992, their service rules had not been amended accordingly. While the government was dilly-dallying on filling about 800 vacant posts, the existing teaching staff was being tossed around. While ordering transfers, the government standing orders not to disturb couple cases, widows had been violated.


Role of doctors under scanner
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 22
The role of medical officers of the local Civil Hospital has come under scanner as the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital, Amritsar, authorities have found Gagan Bakshi, a travel agent who has been who facing trial in over 100 cases, to be fit and not suffering from any disease as reported by the former.

Gagan Bakshi, who is alleged to have fled from police custody yesterday at the Civil Hospital, today submitted an application in the court of the Sessions Judge and sought permission to surrender before some senior Punjab police official of the crime branch or the CBI, fearing implication in false cases by the district police.

Gagan Bakshi was admitted to the hospital on July 2 following severe pain in his leg. He was allegedly given VIP treatment by the hospital authorities even as the details of the “disease” were not disclosed by the medical officers concerned during his over one month stay in the hospital.

So much so, he was reportedly seen roaming in the city on several occasions while he was supposed to be in the hospital. Later he was referred to Guru Nanak Dev Hospital by a board of doctors constituted by the Medical Superintendent after he complained of chest pain four days ago.

However, the Guru Nanak Dev Hospital authorities found him fit and sent him back to the Jalandhar hospital yesterday from where he escaped. Constables Gurdev Singh, Hazara Ram and Ramesh Kumar have been booked under Sections 223 and 224, IPC, and under the Prevention of Corruption Act for dereliction of duty.

Gagan Bakshi today moved an application in the court of the Sessions Judge to surrender before a senior police official of the crime branch or the CBI. He maintained that he had been granted bail in all cases and had been discharged from the Amritsar hospital following the bail. He claimed that the police had released him yesterday and that he had no motive to flee.


NPA: docs brief Cabinet panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Various delegations of PCMS doctors, medical teachers and the Punjab branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) held discussions with the high-level Cabinet subcommittee, constituted to study the vexed NPA issue, here today.

Following the meeting, Dr M.S Randhawa and Dr D.S Gill, patron and president, respectively of the PCMS association, claimed that the government would announce its decision on withdrawal of the non-practising allowance (NPA) on August 25. They have reiterated their demand for restoration of the NPA.

For a better administrative control, the association suggested that Senior Medical Officers should be re-designated as Deputy Civil Surgeons as per the recommendations of the 4th Punjab Pay Commission. Subdivisions should be made health districts by posting these Deputy Civil Surgeons. They also underscored the need for a cadre review to ensure better medicare to patients.

The concept of rural dispensaries needs to be reviewed and doctors scattered in the field should be posted at the rural community centres to provide round-the-clock emergency and specialised indoor services.


Fateh Jang Singh back in Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Mr Fateh Jang Singh Bajwa, who contested the last Assembly elections from Sri Hargobindpur as a rebel candidate, was today readmitted into the Congress. He is a brother of Punjab PWD Minister Partap Singh Bajwa.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, said Mr Fateh Jang Singh, who was expelled from the party, had expressed regrets for his past actions while making a request to the high command for re-entry into the party. He had expressed full confidence in the leadership of Mrs Sonia Gandhi.


UN study finds Amritsar quake-prone
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 22
A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) study reveals that holy city of Amritsar was one of the most earthquake-prone areas amongst the 38 cities identified in India. On response plans, preparedness and awareness the government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the UNDP. Under the MoU the UNDP is faciliating “urban earthquake vulnerability reduction project’ of Ministry of Home Affairs. This project envisages information dissemination, ensuring response and preparedness levels at community and administrative levels.

Speaking at a meeting for disaster risk management Ms Anchal Garg project officer for the UNDP said the earthquake preparedness plans should only be made after interaction with residents-welfare-association. Hazard mappings must be undertaken. Further safe buildings and structures, should be shared with architects and engineers. A web portal for sharing information, cooperation on risk reduction measures could be patterned from other global guidelines in this direction. This would help reduce earthquake vulnerability. The meeting was attended by Deputy Commissioner Raminder Singh, ADCs, SDMs, representatives of Municipal Corporation, Civil Defence Department, Airport Authority and others. Mr Raminder Singh said the administration would designate a group of officials to develop awareness, techno-legal regime for disaster risk management.


Gurdwara panel assumes charge
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 22
The three-member Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission comprising Mr Manmohan Singh Brar (president), Mr Ajwant Singh Mann and Mr Amrik Singh Randhwa (both members) today assumed the charge according to the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

When Mr Brar and other members reached the commission complex, they were not allowed to go inside by the police already deployed there. The main gate and commission complex were bolted from inside. However, when Mr Brar threatened to file a contempt case in the high court, the Deputy Commissioner deputed the SDM, to defuse the situation. Later the matter was settled amicably. Mr Brar who tried to assume charge after the quashing of the notification, issued by the Congress government on August 14 for the appointment of Mr Kashmir Singh Patti, Mr Raghbir Singh and Mr Dara Singh and restoring of the old panel (headed by Mr Brar), was not allowed to do so. Hence Mr Brar submitted a representation to the Chief Justice of Punjab and Haryana High Court yesterday alleging that the old panel, headed by Mr Patti committed a contempt of the court.

Talking to the Press, after assuming the charge, Mr Brar alleged that the local administration indulged in highhandedness’ at behest of the state government and prevented him from entering the commission complex despite HC orders.


Impressive passing out parade at Phillaur
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, August 22
Mid-term passing out parade of Maharaja Ranjit Singh Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, was held at the PPA Stadium today. Mr G.S. Aujla (IPS), Additional Director General of Police-cum-Director, Punjab Police Academy, inspected the parade and took the salute. An impressive marchpast was carried out by the nine platoons of the passing out parade.

The participant platoons consisted of trainees of different basic as well as promotional courses, coming from the police organisation of Andmaan and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh and Punjab.

In all, 647 trainees, both men and women, stepped out for the portals of the academy to embark upon and resume their professional life after having successfully completed their institutional professional training.

Mr G.S. Aujla, in his address after the ceremonial parade, called upon the trainees to adhere in letter and spirit to the sacrosanct percepts of truthfulness, and spirit of service. He further emphasised that the assigned role of the police is to serve the people within the prescribed constitutional parameters.

The Deputy Director (Outdoor), Mr G.S. Sandhu, read out the progress report, in which he highlighted the special efforts being put in by officers, faculty and staff of the academy to harmonise the inputs of institutional professional training with the day to day professional realities of the ground level policing in the contemporary context.

The marchpast was followed by a prize distribution ceremony in which the Director, PPA, gave away prizes to trainees who excelled in their respective training courses.


647 pass out from police academy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
As many as 647 trainees, including women, passed out from Punjab Police Academy, Phillaur, today.

Dr G.S Aujla, Additional Director-General of Police-cum-Director of the academy, inspected the mid-term passing-out parade and took the salute. The nine participating platoons comprised trainees of different basic as well as promotional courses belonging to the police organisations of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh and Punjab.

Dr Aujla asked the new recruits to meet the challenges of modern-day policing.

Later, he gave away the prizes to 24 trainees for excelling training courses.

Earlier, Deputy Director (Outdoor), G.S Sandhu read out the annual report of the academy.

A brief horse tent-pegging show and a cultural programme were also organised on the occasion.


Town lacks green cover
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Call it a bad luck of residents or a sheer indifferent attitude of the authorities concerned to develop green patches in the city, the Municipal corporation authorities have covered almost the entire land of the leisure valley, developed by it by spending crores of rupees for constructing water tanks and a reservoir.

It is not for the first time that the leisure valley has been given such a treatment. Earlier, the valley was converted into a dirty water pond as the then Municipal Council authorities used it as a place to drain out the sewerage water of the adjoining localities.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the previous Municipal Council spent lakhs of rupees for landscaping and beautification so that it could be made a beautiful place for those who went for morning and evening walks. The previous Municipal Council (now the Municipal Corporation) also made various plans to make it a best open green space for the residents as it was situated adjacent to the Rose Garden.

Mr Darshan Singh, general secretary of the Leisure Lovers’ League, alleged that first the Municipal Corporation authorities allowed the axing of more than 100 trees from Rose Garden and affected its green cover adversely and now the only green space available to the citizens had been eaten up. He added that a number of green spaces developed by the Municipal Corporation authorities in the nook and corner of city existed only on paper as these had been encroached upon by unscrupulous elements.

He said that the league had demanded that the leisure valley should be kept intact and all projects, which were started for its beautification and later abandoned, should be restarted. More saplings of different varieties of trees should be planted in the Rose Garden to increase green cover. Rain and sun shelter and a reading room should be set up in the leisure valley.

However, Mr Kamal Kant Goyal, Executive Officer, Municipal Corporation, when contacted, said the entire six acres of land of leisure valley had been used for the construction of water tanks and a reservoir. He added if it was found that there was still a piece of land, which was not used for making tanks and a reservoir, it would be developed into green space.

Meanwhile, Mr Narinder Mittal, a former BJP leader from Bathinda, alleged that in the past more than one year, the state government had failed to launch any development project in this city. He alleged that some of the projects, including the oil refinery, which was brought to this district by the previous SAD-BJP government with the help of the NDA government at the Centre, were being abandoned by the state government.


Protest held over SC judgement
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Hundreds of employees of various bank organisations, insurance companies and other trade union activists today held a demonstration to protest against a judgement of the Supreme Court imposing a ban on strikes by employees to seek redressal of their grievances from their respective management and authorities.

Mr P.K. Jindal, secretary, Punjab Bank Employees Federation, while addressing a gathering at the Mall road here, pointed out that the Supreme Court had delivered a blow to the working class and caused a major setback to the democratic right of expression of the employees by giving the verdict that the government employees had no fundamental right to observe a strike.

He said the verdict of the Supreme Court would be misused by government agencies and corporate houses to cause setback to the trade unions which had been fighting for the cause of the employees. He said the right to struggle could not be denied to anyone when a major section of society had been fighting to uplift those who were suppressed and trying to live with dignity.


Anti-Dalit’ policies of govt flayed
Our Correspondent

Amloh, August 22
So far as the policies to provide relief to Dalits’ were concerned, the present Congress government was following in the footsteps of the Akali-BJP government, said Mr Achhra Singh Lapran, state chief of Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes Employees Federation. He was talking to mediapersons here today after a meeting of the federation.

He said the government had enhanced fees in engineering and medical colleges by 30 per cent. Dalit students would not be able to get admissions in these colleges, he said. He urged the government to implement a notification in accordance with the 85th amendment of the Constitution to continue the policy of promotions on the pattern adopted before 1995. Many memorandums had been submitted to the government, but the demand was not met, he said.

The meeting passed a resolution demanding 27 per cent reservation to candidates of Backward Classes, as recommended by the Mandal Commission. The federation criticised the policy of the government to hand over education, health, pensions and other departments to panchayats and zila parishads.

Another resolution demanded an increase in scholarships to Scheduled Castes students in accordance with the price index and removal of condition relating to the income of the parents of Backward Caste students.


FCI ‘palledars’ up in arms
Our Correspondent

Ahmedgarh, August 22
‘Palledars’, affiliated with the FCI Punjab Food Agency Workers Palledar Union (Azad), who have been fighting for their demands for the past seven years, are up in arms against the local FCI management.

A meeting of the union, which was held here today, decided to start a state-level agitation if the ‘corrupt’ officials of the FCI, who have been ‘harassing’ them, did not mend their ways.

In a press note issued after the meeting, union leaders — Mr Karam Deol, Mr Zora Singh and Mr Shinna Khan — said they had sent several reminders to the FCI authorities, the Vigilance Department and the CBI to get a probe into their charges of corruption against local depot Managers — Mr K.L.Verma, Mr Rameshwar Sharma and Mr Kamaljit Singh.

Explaining the discrimination being practised by these officials, the union leaders stated that according to a departmental circular, all 71 workers working at the FCI depot here were entitled to an equal share of work. But 42 workers, affiliated with their rival union, were being given preferential treatment and 29 workers affiliated with the Azad group were being denied their dues. Giving an example, the union leaders stated that overtime payment from January 1999 to December 2000 was given to 42 workers on December 21, 2002. But the payment was given to some of their workers after four months, while other workers were still awaiting their dues.


High Court
CBI issued notice on Amritsar sex scam
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Taking up a petition filed by Chairman of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation Justice Ajit Singh Bains claiming that a “disturbing communication” by a witness indicated that the investigations in the Amritsar sex scam was not being conducted in a fair manner, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today issued notice of motion to the Central Bureau of Investigation.

The Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice V.M. Jain also fixed September 10 as the next date of hearing. In the communication to the Chief Justice, witness Satish Kumar had earlier alleged that he was threatened by CBI officials. Seeking protection from the officials, he had further asked for action against a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) “and his accomplices”.

Giving details, the witness had asserted that the DSP started abusing him after he refused to record the statement of his choice on July 20. The DSP had threatened him the next day also, he said. Subsequently, the officials told him that “several cases could be registered against him for which he would not even be able to get bail,” the witness had claimed.

Referring to the letter, Justice Bains had added that the letter, if true, “disclosed very disturbing state of affairs”. Seeking directions to the CBI for filing a status report in the matter, Justice Bains asserted that till date not even a single accused was arrested since probe by the CBI was ordered. Five accused, arrested prior to the handing over of investigation to the CBI, were going to complete 90 days in custody soon, he stated.

“In view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the CBI should be directed to place on record the status report of the investigation done so far so that none of the accused are able to get bail as there is slackness in the investigation”, Justice Bains concluded.

Seniority plea

A bunch of petitions filed by Punjab Civil Services (Executive) Officers challenging a seniority list circulated in March, 1993, was dismissed by a Division Bench of the high court.

In their petition against the state of Punjab and other respondents, Mr Khushi Ram and other petitioners had earlier sought the quashing of the seniority list circulated vide an order of Punjab Chief Secretary. Directions to the state for fixing the seniority of the officers as per the roster were also sought.

Arguing before the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, counsel for the petitioners contended that the order was liable to be declared void as the state government did not have the jurisdiction to review the seniority list initially finalised vide order dated March 12, 1988.

After going through the documents and hearing the arguments in the case, the Bench observed that the challenge by the petitioners to the seniority assigned to the respondents was liable to be rejected as the petitioners have not explained the long delay of five years between the fixation of their inter se seniority with the other PCS respondents vide order dated March 12, 1988. Moreover, the petitioners had not challenged the selection and appointment of the PCS respondents against the vacancies of 1978, the Bench had concluded.

Medical check-up

Expressing doubts about the mental state of Ropar’s former District Education Officer Malti Batra, a Division Bench of the high court today directed the Registrar-General to send her for examination to the Psychiatry department of Sector 32 Government Medical College and Hospital.

Issuing the directions while taking up a criminal contempt against her, the Bench, headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, also directed lady constables present in the court to take her for the check up. The Bench added that she would be allowed to go wherever she wanted to if she was mentally sound, otherwise all steps would be taken to keep her at a proper place for treatment.


Inspector remanded in police custody
Our Correspondent

Kharar, August 22
Mrs Baljinder Kaur Bhatia, Subdivisional Judicial Magistrate, here yesterday remanded a Punjab police Inspector, Narinder Singh Rana, in police custody till August 23. He was arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on Wednesday in a case pertaining to accumulating assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. The inspector is the in charge of the CIA wing of the Ludhiana police.

Mr Jatinderjeet Singh Punn, public prosecutor, demanded a police remand of the inspector for 14 days.

He said the total income of the inspector from January, 1996, to December 2000, was over Rs 16 lakh but he had spent about Rs 25 lakh during the period. He alleged that the inspector owned a rice mill at Sadik and a 10-acre land in Jahan Khela.

The defence counsel opposed the police remand and said a departmental inquiry had already been done and the inspector had been proven innocent.

Meanwhile, the same court today issued arrest warrants against the former OSD to Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Hardeep Singh Bhamra, Kanwaljeet Singh Sidhu (Wimpy International), Pinky Grover (New Delhi), Ashish Kapoor and Krishan Kumar (both PAs to Mr Sukhbir Badal) for September 1.

These warrants have been issued in connection with an FIR registered by the Vigilance Bureau against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and others.

The bureau had given an application in the court on August 14 that the persons were evading arrest and that despite the raids conducted by the bureau, they had not been arrested.


Lawyers go on strike

Hoshiarpur, August 22
The proceedings in the District and Sessions Court here today were paralysed following the boycott by lawyers.

The lawyers boycotted the hearing and other legal work in protest against the police baton charge on BJP and SAD activists near Naushehra Pattan on August 20 when Minister of State for External Affairs and BJP MP from Gurdaspur Vinod Khanna was to inaugurate a bridge

They demanded action against the “guilty police personnel” for their “atrocious attitude”, withdrawal of police cases against the BJP and SAD activists, including BJP state president Brij Lal Rinwa. — UNI


Farm officials to check bollworm attack
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
American bollworm attack on cotton crop in this region has started appearing. The Punjab Agriculture Department officials have decided to educate cotton growers on how to save the crops.

Due to heavy rain, which lashed the cotton belt of Punjab in he past three weeks had increased humidity an ideal atmosphere most conducive for the growth of American bollworm. The agricuture experts opined that if the rains continued and humidity kept on rising, attack of American bollworm on cotton crop would also increase.

The agriculture officials pointed out that in rainy reason, attack of American bollworm on cotton crop could not be checked by spraying pesticides on cotton plants as its gets washed by rain.

The Chief Agriculture Office (CAO), Bathinda, in a press note here today said that under a special programme every agriculture development officer (ADO) would adopt one village in his circle to educate cotton growers on how to protect cotton crop from bollworms. He said that in Bathinda district 28 villages had been chosen under this campaign.

He added that in these villages, the recommendations of Agriculture Experts and the recommendations of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) would be implemented to check attack of American bollworm. For this task, control rooms had been set up at block and district level to deal with problems of cotton growers.


Cashier found absent
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, August 22
The Commissioner, Ferozepore Division, Mr B. Sarkar yesterday paid a surprise visit to various government offices to check the attendance of the officials. Mr Sarkar visited the District Transport Office, the Food and Supplies Office, the Tehsil office, office of the Deputy Director Animal Husbandry and some other offices in the morning.

In the DTO office, the commissioner found the cashier, Mr Jasbir Singh, absent from duty. The office staff revealed that the DTO and ADTO had gone for checking and the clerk was on leave. Mr Sarkar said that in the Tehsil office, clerk Iqbal Singh was found absent from duty. The Commissioner, however, expressed the satisfaction over the overall attendance in various offices. He said stringent action would be initiated against the officials found absent from duty.


Latrines for poor in villages
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 22
Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Punjab Rural Development and Panchayats and Agriculture Minister, reviewing implementation of the Rajiv Gandhi pendu jan sehat kalyan yojna today emphasised that the scheme should be implemented in letter and in spirit.

She pointed out people living in villages, especially the poor and those belonging to the weaker sections had to use open spaces for defecation, which was harmful for health and environment.

Under the new scheme, about 10 lakh families in villages would be provided individual toilets at an estimated cost of about Rs 500 crore. The target group would cover all Scheduled Castes as well as 5 per cent of the non-Scheduled Castes economically backward families. All villages would be covered within four years.


Woman abducted, tortured
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 22
Gurmit Kaur (62) of Chack Gujran village has alleged that she had been abducted and tortured by those who had also reportedly abducted her daughter. The victim had been admitted to the Civil Hospital by the police.

Gurmit Kaur alleged that on June 23 some persons abducted her daughter Sukhwinder Kaur when she went to Mahilpur to meet her elder sister. A complaint had been lodged with the police. The accused reportedly threatened her and her husband and asked them to withdraw the case and get the girl married to one of the accused. When they refused, their son German Singh was implicated in a false case of rape. He had been missing since then, she said.

She said on August 17 when she was alone in the house, the accused beat her up and forcibly took her to a village in Himachal and tortured her. After detaining her for a night, they left her on a road and disappeared. Some passersby helped her board a bus for Hoshiarpur where she contacted the police.

According to the police, Rakesh Kumar, one of the accused, had married Sukhwinder Kaur and had established it in a court.


Travel agent escapes from custody
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, August 22
Gagan Bakshi, a travel agent, who is facing more than 100 cases for allegedly duping a number of innocent people of crores of rupees on the pretext of sending them abroad, yesterday fled away from police custody by giving the slip to the police personnel on duty at Civil Hospital here yesterday.

Meanwhile, the district police has suspended and registered a case against three constables — Gurdev Singh, Ramesh Kumar and Hazara Singh — for dereliction of duty under Sections 223, 224 of the IPC and various sections of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Gagan Bakshi, who was in judicial custody for the past more than four months, had earlier been referred to Medical College, Amritsar, by the local health authorities. The Amritsar Medical College authorities, however, found him fit and reportedly sent him back to the local Civil Hospital. According to the police, he was brought back to the Civil Hospital yesterday for medical examination and was scheduled to be presented before a local court in a case. Gagan Bakshi asked the police personnel to allow him to use toilet. Subsequently, he fled from the hospital, while police personnel kept waiting for him outside the toilet.


District Health Officer caught accepting bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 22
Dr Prem Nath, District Health Officer (DHO), Mansa district, was caught red-handed by a team of the Vigilance Bureau of Mansa while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 from the complainant, Mr Inder Singh, a milk seller, for getting milk samples passed from the laboratory.

In a press note issued here today, the Bathinda range SSP said the money accepted by the accused was recovered from his house in the presence of a shadow witness and two government witnesses.

On August 20, a team of the district health authorities went to the house of Mr Inder Singh at Tahlia village in Mansa district and took a sample of milk.

Dr Prem Nath reportedly took Mr Inder Singh aside and demanded Rs 10,000 from him as bribe to get his sample of milk passed from the laboratory.

Mr Inder Singh managed to make Dr Prem Nath agree on Rs 7,500 as bribe and gave Rs 4,500 on the spot.

Dr Prem Nath took a sample of milk being sold by Mr Inder Singh yesterday in the presence of Mr Gurjeet Singh, sarpanch of the village.

Dr Prem Nath also took the remaining amount of the agreed bribe upon. The Vigilance team raided his premises and recovered the amount.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered. 


Syndicate decision bypassed: Secretary
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
The Punjab Higher Education Department is again set on a collision course with Punjabi University. The Principal Secretary of the department has accused the university authorities of not sticking to the Syndicate decision of presenting the details of the Engineering College established on the varsity campus to the Syndicate within 15 days of the meeting held two months ago.

The Principal Secretary, Higher Education, Mr N. S. Rattan, had during the course of the meeting brought to the notice of the Syndics that the varsity authorities had not presented key facts regarding the engineering college to the body. Vice Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai had during the same meeting asked the Syndicate to give approval for starting the college even as he assured that the required details would be presented to the syndicate in another meeting. Subsequently the proposal for establishing the college had been approved.

According to sources, the Higher Education Secretary has in his letter to the Vice Chancellor pointed out that despite an assurance to the Syndicate that another meeting of the body would be held within 15 days, this had not come about. In an even more serious charge, the principal Secretary has claimed that though a clear cut decision was taken to hold another meeting within 15 days, this fact was not recorded later in the proceedings of the meeting. The letter claimed this was clear from the proceedings of the meeting which were circulated to the members afterwards. The proceedings of the meeting state that a meeting of the Syndicate would be convened ‘’soon’’ to discuss the various details regarding the engineering college.

The Principal Secretary when questioned on this score, said he could not disclose any detail of what had transpired between the government and the university. University spokesman Dr B. S. Sandhu when questioned on the issue confirmed that the university had received a letter from Mr N.S. Rattan. The spokesman said the university was committed to presenting all details regarding the engineering college, including its infrastructure, fee structure, faculty and finances i to the Syndicate. He said a meeting of the Syndicate would be convened for this purpose soon. Dr Sandhu said the meeting could not be held till now because of the admission process being carried out last month as well developments taking place due to the hike in the fee structure.

Meanwhile a senior teacher, who is also a member of the Academic Council, has also written a letter to the Chancellor through the Vice Chancellor claiming that decisions taken by varsity bodies were either not adhered to or were not recorded properly. The teacher in his letter has claimed that the Academic Council had taken a decision to award a D. Litt. degree to noted litterateur Pritam Singh but the decision was changed later. It also states that while in other universities, the recommendations were recorded by name, this was not done in Punjabi University. He has urged that the recordings be taped to ensure complete transparency.

In another development, even as the issue of the establishment of the new engineering college on the campus has yet not been discussed threadbare by the university, the university has announced that it would establish another engineering college at Talwandi Sabo in Bathinda district. The university has already constituted a committee consisting of senior university functionaries who will prepare all the modalities for steering the issue of the proposed college through various university bodies.


Protesting students block varsity gate
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 22
Punjabi University students today closed the university main gate for a three hours from 9 am to 12 pm besides holding a dharna demanding a complete roll back in the fee hike on campus courses.

The students collected under the aegis of the Punjabi University Students Confederation, which includes almost all of the active student bodies on the campus. The students started collecting in front of the university main gate before 9 a.m. itself to ensure no one could enter the university.

This resulted in a forced holiday for both students and teachers.

The protesting students got a surprise boost when the university Non Teaching Employees Union also extended support to them. The union present president Malkit Singh Meeta and past President Sukhwant Singh Sidhu addressed the dharna and assured them of the their complete support.

The rally was addressed by various student leaders including Raminder Singh Patiala of the PSU, Miss Shireen of the PSU (Randhawa), Kirit Grewal of the AIDSO, Rajinder Singh of the SFI, Navdeep Daher of the PSF, Birdevinder Deol of the PUSA and Gurnam Virk of PRSU. The student leaders said they would intensify their agitation in the coming days in case the university failed to withdraw the fee hike affected by it at the start of the present session. The student leaders said the partial roll back announced by the university in case of general courses even as the increase in fee of professional courses remained, was not acceptable to the student community.

Meanwhile, the universities authorities seem to be in a mood to get tough with the agitating students. Dean, Academics, Prof U.C. Singh, has issued a circular to all heads of departments today directing that they should submit the attendance of all students in their departments to his office every evening. The circular said the orders were effective from today. However, attendance charts could not be submitted today as the circular was received in the evening by most of the departments.

Three days back the Dean, Academics, had through another circular directed the heads of all departments to ensure that all students were marked absent in case they missed any class collectively.

University teachers do not traditionally mark anyone absent in case a class is missed by all students collectively due to one reason or the other. However, with students missing classes for the past few days to hold protests, the university has taken the decision to get more strict in marking their attendance.

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