Thursday, August 28, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Punjabi varsity Vice-Chancellor heckled, 4 students suspended
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 27
Punjabi University students, demanding the complete rollback of the recent fee hike, today heckled Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai and did not allow him to board his car after attending a function held at the gurdwara on the university complex.

Trouble started when the Vice-Chancellor started addressing students after attending an Akhand Path organised by one faction of students at the gurdwara. The Vice-Chancellor, during his speech, alleged that he had caught one of the student leaders heading the agitation against the fee hike under the influence of liquor.

Some students protested against this statement and asked the organisers to allow them to speak, which was not allowed. When these students failed to get hold of the mike, they collected in front of the gurdwara. When the Vice-Chancellor came out of the gurdwara, they obstructed his way and did not allow him to board his car. Some students lay down in front of the car.

The Vice-Chancellor, whose shoes were in his car, was forced to move towards his residence on foot along with senior faculty members and members of the varsity security force. Students started following the Vice-Chancellor, raising slogans against him and the university administration. As the residence of the Vice-Chancellor was at a distance, he chose to enter the university guest house. Following this, the students collected in front of the guest house and held a rally.

Meanwhile, some students sat in front of the office of the Vice-Chancellor on a chain fast for the second consecutive day. The students were demanding a complete rollback in the fee hike affected by the university authorities this session.

The university authorities claimed that an attempt had been made to manhandle the Vice-Chancellor in the gurdwara in the presence of Guru Granth Sahib. An official press note said the situation was saved, with security personnel and senior faculty members forming a chain around the Vice-Chancellor.

In a late evening development, the university authorities took action against four students as well as three former students who, it said, had misbehaved with the Vice-Chancellor. The four students — Gurnam Singh Virk, Swaranjit Singh, Gurpal Singh and Gurtej Teji — were suspended and banned from entering the university. The university authorities also banned the entry of three former students — Virkramjit Jattana, Kartar Cheema and Sukhjit Chahal.

The university authorities appealed to the students of the university not to be misguided by a few elements who were pursuing a political agenda in the university. It appealed to all students to attend classes regularly, adding that all their genuine demands had always been attended to.


Tohra denies terming CM ‘corrupt’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, August 27
The volte-face made by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president of the SGPC, on his yesterday statement describing Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister, as “corrupt” came as a “great surprise” to the panthic circles today.

What had forced Mr Tohra to give clarification on not attacking his political enemy like Capt Amarinder Singh is beyond imagination of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD)?

The contradiction issued by Mr Tohra through the publicity wing of the SGPC has sent a message across the Sikh masses that he (Mr Tohra) is afraid of criticising the Chief Minister for the reasons which only he could explain. In a press note, Mr Tohra clarified that while addressing a function at Mandi Gobindgarh, he did not even mention the name of Capt Amarinder Singh and hence there was no reason for describing him corrupt. Mr Tohra dubbed the news item published in a section of the press describing the Chief Minister as “corrupt” as “mischievous and baseless”. The panthic circles said the contradiction issued by Mr Tohra would certainly harm the interests of the SAD, which had taken all pains to dub Capt Amarinder Singh and Congress minister as “most corrupt”.

Mr Tohra said the statement was published with a malafied intention. He, however, admitted that he had given a general statement about the corruption in the Congress.

Senior leaders of the SAD said the volte-face made by Mr Tohra would strain his relations with Mr Badal. They said the contradiction was aimed at giving “clean chit” to the Chief Minister who had launched an intensive campaign to book Akali leaders on corruption charges. Such a statement would harm the prospects of the SAD in the forthcoming parliamentary elections too.


Amarinder behind dowry case, says Lopoke
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 27
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today alleged that Mr Vir Singh Lopoke, MLA from Rajasansi constituency, and members of his family had been booked under the Dowry Act at the behest of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. Addressing a press conference here, Mr Lopoke said the case had been registered to defame him and to settle political scores.

Denying the charges levelled against him, Mr Lopoke alleged that the Opposition had first conducted Vigilance raids to defame him. He added that the case of the divorce of his son Ranbir Singh and daughter-in-law Navjot Kaur was pending in court.

The Akali MLA said he had apprehensions that the Congress government would register a false case or could take some other action against him. He said he had obtained anticipatory bail from the Punjab and Haryana High Court.


Optional NPA for docs suggested
Panel seeks two months’ time
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
The Experts Committee constituted by the Punjab Government to study the issue of withdrawal of non-practicing allowance (NPA) to the doctors has recommended the introduction of an “optional” NPA system and also a mechanism to oversee the same for which certain administrative and organisational changes have also been suggested.

Since the process involves certain formalities and legalities, the committee has recommended that the implementation of the July 22 order of the Finance Department on the withdrawal of NPA be held in “abeyance for two months.”

This breather has been sought on the premise that since doctors will be required to give an option either for NPA and an undertaking not to do private practice or for private practice and a bond not to avail of NPA, the government needed time to draw up a framework for putting into practice the suggested options.

Given the wide spectrum of issues involved, the committee has said, “A two-tier package option may be introduced to reconcile the diverse, and, at times conflicting, interests of the medical profession with the requirements of an efficient and effective health delivery system that makes optimal utilisation of the health infrastructure and assets of the state.”

The report, inter alia, says that the two-tier system was being recommended as a “'significant” number of doctors appeared to be in favour of the government decision to abolish the NPA and introduce private practice.

The PCMS Association president, Dr Hardeep Singh, and general secretary, Dr Surinder Singla, issued a press note welcoming the decision of the Punjab Government to “fully roll back the decision of NPA withdrawal”.

But from the government press note and the text of the committee report it is evident that the final word on NPA is yet to come. The government has only sought time of two months to work out modalities and give a “legal framework” to the suggested recommendation of optional NPA.

One moot point is the operational part of “option” to be allowed to the doctors. One school of thought is that should it be a “one time” final option or should there be an inbuilt “flexibility”.

This question is important because, say sources, one doctor may opt for NPA and forego practice at a given point of time. But if the same doctor was transferred to a place where private practice is more lucrative than availing of NPA should, he be then allowed to change his option.

A member of the committee said that because of such vexed issues and other considerations, two months’ time had been sought, as there has to be a legal framework to oversee the implementation of the option(s), including the mechanism for recovery of NPA paid or taking disciplinary action in case a doctor violated either of the options.

The press note of the government says that another recommendation was that there had to be a system of accountability at all levels and for that senior medical officers and civil surgeons would be personally responsible and accountable for any absenteeism, private practice or other malpractices by any doctors within their jurisdiction. There will also be stringent action against those who violated such instructions.

The committee comprises nine-members and was chaired by the Minister, Mr R. C. Dogra.


Amarinder invites Pak Punjab CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
In a passionate invitation extended to his counterpart in Pakistan Punjab, the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has invited him and his Cabinet colleagues to visit City Beautiful, in the first week of November, if possible. Capt Amarinder Singh has also expressed a desire to visit Pakistan Punjab.

The invitation has been extended through the Ministry of External Affairs. Capt Amarinder Singh has written a demi-official letter to Mr Kanwal Sibal, Foreign Secretary. A request has been made by the Chief Minister to Mr Sibal to get the letter delivered to Mr Parvez Elahi, Chief Minister of Punjab in Pakistan.

While inviting Mr Elahi and his colleagues to Chandigarh, Capt Amarinder Singh has expressed concerned over “artificial barriers” that divide the two Punjabs.

Capt Amarinder Singh, has requested Mr Elahi to “let me know when it would be convenient for you to come to Chandigarh. The best time would be after the first week of November. After your visit, perhaps, I could then come to you along with my colleagues to meet you and the people of Punjab”.

Though Capt Amarinder Singh has not made any mention there seems to be bigger purpose of inviting Mr Elahi to Chandigarh. Pakistan is interested in importing wheat from Indian Punjab. Recently, Mr Lal Singh, Punjab Food and Supply Minister, had sought permission of the Union Government to export two million tonnes of wheat to Pakistan through Markfed. An other purpose seems to pave the way for opening the Wagah border for promoting trade with Pakistan, Afghanistan and certain Arab countries.


Miraculous escape for Ludhiana pilgrims
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 27
It was a call Bihari Lal and the rest of his family will remember for the rest of their lives. After national television channels reported the death of 40 persons and injury to 150 in a stampede on the occasion of the ‘Shahi Snan’ in Godavari at Nashik, a pall of gloom enveloped the Vishkarma Colony in the vicinity of Sangeet Cinema from where some families had gone for the holy dip.

Several anxious hours were spent till someone spotted Mr Janak Raj Garg on television accusing the local administration for the lapse and informed the family of his wellbeing.

But hearsay was no consolation for the grief-stricken family. Nor did hours in front of the TV prove to be of any respite. “It was at 4 pm, nearly three and a half hours after the incident that “my brother Janak Raj Garg called us to say that he and all other members of his group were alright. But he could not say for sure about members of other groups from Punjab, some of whom were still untraceable”, Mr Bihari Lal told The Tribune.

He said that though the call was short but his brother had said that the stampede occurred near Sardar Chowk, located near Ramkund, when some pilgrims who were collecting their shoes and chappals were pushed from behind. People started falling on each other, while other tried to push their way out of the melee, leading to the stampede.

He added that before the call got disconnected, his brother blamed the administration for not making adequate arrangements to cater to the huge rush of pilgrims.

In the city word had spread that Mr Janak Raj, who is the Vice-President of the Iron and Steel Merchants Association, had been caught in the stampede and the whereabout of some members of his group were unknown. Mr Janak Raj’s son, Bal Krishan, who is also in the family business, said he had informed his mother, Sita Devi, who is currently in Delhi about the wellbeing of his father.

Meanwhile, Mr Kasturi Lal Mittal, also a member of the same group, called his family in Ludhiana and told them that all was fine with him. An employee at his factory said Mr Mittal had disclosed that a lane near Ramkund proved to be very narrow for the large number of devotees, many of whom got stuck and where trampled by others trying to escape.

He further told his family that the police could not control the crowds that broke the barricades in a frenzy to escape. Even the waiting ambulances could not reach the victims for first-aid, raising the toll.


Travel agents’ novel way of duping youths
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, August 27
The police has arrested Kishan Kanojia, a travel agent of Jalandhar on the charge of duping Manjit Singh of Khasan village, under the Bholath police station, of Rs 7 lakh on the pretext of sending his nephew, Rupinder Singh, abroad.

In a press note issued today, Dr R.N. Dhoke, Senior Superintendent of Police, said the arrested travel agent, along with Sushil Kanojia, Sumesh Kumar Kanojia, and Pawan Kanojia, all travel agents of Maqdoompura in Jalandhar, fleeced the money from Manjit Singh to send his nephew to the USA, saying they were producing a film for which they were in need of 10 youths.

The travel agents came in contact with Manjit Singh at a dera in Bulle village in Jalandhar, where both the parties had gone to offer prayers.

The accused told Manjit Singh that they were planning to produce a film. Manjit Singh alleged that these travel agents showed him a poster and photos of actors and claimed that one-day shooting of a film “Balle Balle America” had been done in Basra studio in Mumbai. They said the remaining film would be shot in the USA.

As Manjit Singh showed an interest in sending his nephew Rupinder Singh to the USA, the deal was made that Manjit Singh would give them Rs 7 lakh for the purpose. Out of the amount, Rs 4.80 lakh, and the passport of Rupinder Singh were given to them. Thereafter, they took Rupinder to Mumbai in July. The remaining amount of Rs 2.20 lakh was sent by Rupinder’s parents through a bank draft in the name of Navrattan Film Industry, Mumbai.

After taking the entire amount, they sent Rupinder back to his village, assuring him that he would be sent to the USA as soon as his visa was granted.

Manjit Singh alleged that neither was Rupinder sent to the USA nor the money returned to him. On persistent demands they returned Rs 2.20 lakh but refused to return the remaining amount and Rupinder’s passport.

On enquiry, the complaint of Manjit Singh was found true and the SSP ordered the registration of case under Section 420 and 406 of the Indian Penal Code against the travel agents.


Office-bearers of new Akali Dal

Chandigarh, August 27
The newly formed Akali Dal today appointed prominent Akali leader Jagdev Singh Talwandi as its permanent patron and Mr Ravi Inder Singh as President. While Bhai Veer Singh Jalandhar and Jathedar Mal Singh Ghuman have been appointed vice-presidents Mr Baldev Singh Khiala and Mr Gurdeep Singh Bathinda have been appointed general secretaries. — TNS


Punjab body makes science posters for Unesco
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
Reposing faith in the expertise of the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology (PSCST), the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) has handed over major international science and technology literacy generation projects to the council. The cost of various projects, that range from development of specialised science, environment and technology-related literature for students across the developing countries to preparation of a directory of science and technology experts active in South Asian countries, is about $ 21000.

After winning appreciation from the UN body for successfully completing the ambitious “Greening of Science Education” project, involving arrangement of workshops and comprehensive publication featuring proceedings of the workshops conducted in five South Asian countries (India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka) in 2000, the PSCST has now executed another major Unesco project, to be further implemented in all the developing countries.

Under this $ 8000 project, which was assigned to the council earlier this year, Unesco had required creation and development of specialised literature, which teachers in developing countries could use to clarify science, technology and environmental concepts with students.

The Punjab State Council for Science and Technology also came out with six posters spanning various science and technology aspects and topics, as required by Unesco.


Engineer accused of closing Malikpur project
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 27
The Punjab State Electricity Board’s (PSEB) Vigilance Department has accused a Deputy Chief Engineer of closing down the UBDC hydel project at Malikpur in Gurdaspur district with ulterior motives for causing a loss of Rs 1 crore to the board.

The Vigilance wing of the PSEB has recommended to the chairman that punishment should be awarded to Deputy Chief Engineer Prem Sagar. The officer has been accused of closing all six units of the Malikpur Hydel project on January 15, 2002, without taking the approval of the Chief Engineer, (Hydel). It has claimed that the closure of the canal till April 3 had resulted in a loss of Rs 1 crore if the power generated during the period was taken into account.

According to the case file which has been forwarded by Additional Director-General of Police (Vigilance), Lalit Bhatia after a report of a technical committee, the Deputy Chief Engineer is also guilty of misquoting the flow of water during the period of closure of the project. According to the report, only for one week during the closure of the canal was the water level below the average of 1,500 cusecs needed to generate the electricity. The report said for two and a half months period when the project was closed for desilting the water level had even touched 2,550 cusecs at the Madhopur - Beas link for sometime.

The Vigilance wing has also accused the engineer of concealing the facts from his seniors. It said the notice for desilting had been invited on February 4 and that the tenders were to be opened on March 7. The report claimed that according to the facts there was no way the desilting of the canal could have been done before the third week of March.

The engineer has also been faulted on the estimate of silt made by him. According to the report, the officer had estimated that money was needed to desilt 46,800 cubic metres of silt while when the actual desilting took place only 34,300 cubic metres of silt was dug out from the site. The report said the estimate of silt accumulated in the canal had been made after closing down the canal for a few days in November, 2001. The report also indicated that the desilting had been conducted in a hurry stating that the canal had been desilted earlier in 1998 and before that in 1989. It said the construction of Ranjit Sagar Dam further upstream meant less silt coming into the canal due to installation of filters at the dam power house site.

It claimed that the board had also been misled on the matter of the civil works which were to be conducted after the closure of the project. It said during the stay of Mr Prem Sagar at Malikpur after closure of the project from January 15 to February 7 no civil work had been conducted. It said later against a total of 11 civil works only three minor works were undertaken at a cost of Rs 1.15 lakh.

The Vigilance wing besides recommending major punishment under the PSEB rules, has also recommended that legal proceedings should also be initiated against Mr Sagar under Section 418 (cheating with knowledge that wrongful loss may ensue).

Meanwhile Mr Sagar when contacted on the issue, said the inquiry report was biased.


Vinod Khanna threatens to court arrest
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 27
The Union Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr Vinod Khanna, and the Punjab Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President, Mr B.L Rinwa, will court arrest at Gurdaspur on September 2, if the Punjab Government failed to withdraw cases against the BJP and Akali workers booked after the Naushera Pattan incident. This was disclosed here today by Mr B.D Tandon and Mr M.M Mittal, members of the BJP committee formed to look into the August 20 firing incident on the BJP-Akali workers.

The Punjab Government and Mr Khanna, who represents the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency, have been at loggerheads on the issue of inaugurating a bridge over the Beas in the Gurdaspur constituency. Mr Khanna claims that 90 per cent of the work on the bridge was completed due to his efforts, while the Punjab Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, claims that the bridge was built with money from the state exchequer.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has already announced a joint rally with BJP workers at Naushera Pattan on September 2 to protest against the police highhandedness.

Both Mr Tandon and Mr Mittal said besides Mr Parkash Singh Badal, central leaders of the BJP would also participate in the rally at Gurdaspur.

The BJP leaders, while criticising the Punjab Government, said protocol required that the sitting MP, irrespective of party affiliations, should be invited to all state-level functions. For the inauguration of the bridge, a former Congress MP was invited, ignoring Mr Khanna.


DGP opens police resource centre
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, August 27
Mr A.A. Siddiqui, Director-General Police (DGP), Punjab, has asked all police officials to be more responsive in resolving the problems of the people in the state.

Talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the Community Policising Resource Centre (CPRC) here today to redress grievances of people in this district, the DGP, who is on a state tour to review the working of the police, asked the residents to visit the centre to sort out their problems. He said 10 districts had been covered under this scheme and the remaining would be covered soon. He said that to make this system more viable a 40-member senior police officials’ delegation, led by him, would visit the UK on seven-day tour from August 30 to discuss it in detail with the senior officials of that country.

Mr Siddiqui said an enquiry was still on against Avtar Singh Tari and Gurinder Singh Kala, two cops of Patiala who had links with some terrorists outfits as alleged by Mr Paramjit Singh Umranangal, SSP, Patiala.

Replying to a question the DGP said a three-member committee headed by Mr P. Lal, ADGP, had already been constituted to analyse the ways for reducing the unnecessary security cover over being given to police officers and other persons so as to cut the expenditure.


Improvement trusts’ Chairmen demand powers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 27
Ten Chairmen of different improvement trusts of Punjab, while taking a pledge that they will run the administration in honest and transparent manner to follow the policy of state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, urged him to make arrangements for giving them due powers which were sanctioned in the Punjab Town Improvement Act, 1922.

In a meeting held here today, they passed resolutions in connection with the withdrawal of a letter of the Punjab Government issued on February 10, 2003, under which it was mandatory that every resolution passed by a improvement trust would be confirmed by state government before its implementation, and to give powers to the Chairmen for engaging lawyers for court cases of improvement trust as per the Act which was now lying with state government.

Mr Jagroop Singh Gill, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Bathinda, who presided over the meeting of the Chairmen, in a press note, said Capt Amarinder Singh had been urged to give powers to trust Chairmen to waive off penalty on consumers of an improvement trust on account of the non-construction of a building and deviation in a building map by them as the same had been withdrawn by the state government.

The Chief Minister was urged to grant power to the trust Chairmen for allotting extra land to plot holders and powers for sending advertisements to dailies for publication directly and not through the Director, Public Relations.

He said the Chairmen demanded that they should be empowered to construct houses at cheaper rates for those who belonged to lower income group and to grant monetary support to those who had made mark in the field of education and sports.

He said the Chairmen demanded that they should be empowered to waive off resumption fee to the allottees and the improvement trusts should be given the government lands, which were 4 acres or more in area for development.

The Chairmen demanded that the improvement trusts should be empowered to develop residential colonies for a particular section of society. He said the proceedings of the meeting were sent to Capt Amarinder Singh.

Those participated in the meeting included Mr Surinder Gupta, Chairman, Improvement Trust, Faridkot, Mr Kulwant Singh of Kapurthala, Mr Prem Chand of Barnala, Mr Bhalinder Singh of Khanna, Mr Jagmohan Singh Gill of Moga, Mr Ashok Singh Garcha of Ludhiana, Mr K.K. Sharma of Patiala, Mr Pawan Hiteshi of Hoshiarpur and Mr Hazi Siddiqi Ansari of Malerkotla.


Plan to develop defence colony
Our Correspondent

Ropar, August 27
The Improvement Trust, Ropar, has planned to develop a modern defence colony in the town. The colony will be developed in an area of 50 acre on the Ropar-Morinda road, near Sahibzada Ajit Singh Academy. Fifty per cent of the plots in the colony will be reserved for serving defence personnel and ex-servicemen.

Families of martyrs will be given preference in the allotment of plots, while the quota for the freedom fighters’ families will be doubled after obtaining the requisite permission from the government.

Mr Ram Prakash Bali, Chairman of the trust, gave this information at a press conference here today.

He said 50 per cent of the colony area would be earmarked for residential purposes having plots of 100 to 250 sq. yds, while the remaining area would be utlilised for construction of roads, a commercial complex, a school and a community centre.

Development of a residential colony in 10-acre area at Sukhrampur Tapprian and residential-cum-commercial sites at Old Veterinary Hospital, old police station, Old Tehsil Complex had also been proposed. The Site Selection Committee of the Local Bodies Department had already given its approval for the development of these sites, he added.

There was also a proposal to construct high income group (HIG) flats at Giani Zail Singh Nagar. Since the land required for implementing the proposed schemes belonged to the state government, the process was being initiated to get the same transferred to the trust, so that work on the schemes could be started at the earliest, he said.

He said stress would be on constructing LIG flats under various schemes for the benefit of people, including employees, who could not afford big houses. As many as 236 such flats would be constructed at Giani Zail Singh Nagar. Reservation would be provided to local scribes in the allotment of plots and flats under various schemes, he added.

When asked about the finances for the proposed schemes, Mr Bali said the government would be requested to return the short-term loan taken from the trust with interest. These loans were siphoned from the trust during the previous Akali regime.

He appealed to the residents to come to him directly in case they had any grievances against the Improvement Trust.

Later, Mr Bali and the Ropar SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, launched a plantation drive by planting saplings on the premises of the Improvement Trust office.


Eye flu rages
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 27
A large number of cases of eye flu being reported in the Government hospitals and private clinics these days here. Most of the patients complain of redness and severe pain in eyes along with thick discharge.

Dr Y.C. Markan, Civil Surgeon here said yesterday that keeping in view the large number of cases of conjunctivitis, he had directed all Senior Medical Officers to examine these patients on priority and educate masses on the disease.

He particularly stressed to stop use of contact lenses on getting conjunctivitis. Dr Markan warned against the use of steroids without the advice of eye specialist and in case conjunctivitis does not subside in three/four days eye doctors should be contacted.


Refinery on schedule: Mann
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 27
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, SAD (Amritsar), said today that the Punjab refinery project being set up at Phulokhari village in the district would be completed within the stipulated period by Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL).

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mann said he was informed about this thing by the Union Petroleum Minister, Mr Ram Naik, in writing in Parliament.

Mr Mann said SAD (Amritsar) activists would not allow anyone to scuttle the refinery project. He said he would continue to put pressure on the Centre so that the project was completed in time.


Scribe missing

Fatehgarh Sahib, August 27
Mr Parminder Singh Bakshi, a Sirhind-based journalist and in charge of the Hind Samachar Group of Newspapers sub-office at Fatehgarh Sahib, has been missing since Monday.

The family has handed over a copy of suicide note written by him to the police. Family members said he had told his wife that he was going to Gobindgarh for some work. He left his cellphone, purse and other documents at home. OC


Murder case

Chandigarh, August 27
The high court today fixed October 6 as the next date of hearing on a petition alleging the release of Punjab’s former minister Gurdev Singh Badal’s kin within a month of his conviction in a murder case.

In his petition, Mr Bimal Kumar Kaushal of Gurbax Colony in Patiala claimed that his engineer son was kidnapped and murdered on December 28, 1998. A Junior Engineer, closely related to the then minister, was held guilty of the offence. But Junior Engineer Gurpreet Singh was initially released for 15 days within a month of being sentenced to life imprisonment. He was again released for three months on the basis of an ordinance, the petitioner added.

Challenging the ordinance, the petitioner had stated that as per it, a prisoner undergoing life sentence “may be released for six months or less in parts for any sufficient cause”.

Going into the background of the case, he alleged that his son Ashwani Kumar, posted as a Subdivisional Officer at Moga, was murdered in December, 1992, by Gurpreet Singh, working in the same department as Junior Engineer, in conspiracy with three others.


Farm officials inspect fields for bollworm
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 27
Even as the crucial period for cotton crop has started, an army of officials of the state Agriculture Department descended on the cotton belt of Punjab to guide the growers how to save their crops from the attack of American bollworm and other diseases.

Though the attack of American bollworm on the entire cotton belt comprising Bathinda, Sangrur, Mansa, Muktsar, Moga, Faridkot and Ferozepore districts is still below the economic threshold level (ETL), officials of the Agriculture Department have started touring the entire region to keep the situation under control till the end of cotton season by using various techniques recommended under the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to check the menace of American bollworm.

Yesterday, Dr Ajmer Singh, Director, Agriculture, Punjab, held a meeting with the Chief Agriculture Officers and other staff members posted in the cotton belt to review the situation. He claimed that so far the attack of bollworm and other diseases was below the ETL. He said about 13.75 lakh cotton bales would be produced in Punjab from 5.22 lakh hectares in the current season against the production of 10.83 lakh bales last year from 4.49 lakh hectare.

Official sources said district and state agriculture officials had fanned out in the cotton belt to get first-hand information from the cotton fields about the attack of American bollworm. These officials had recommended variety of pesticides to the growers to control the attack of bollworm according to the needs of their respective fields.

The sources added that though the overall situation of the attack of bollworm was under control, the attack in certain pockets had crossed the ETL. The attack in these pockets had crossed the ETL as the farmers had grown those varieties of cotton in the fields which were more prone to the attack of American bollworm. In certain cases, the bollworm had developed very fast due to high level of humidity in the cotton fields due to their close proximity with paddy fields.

Mr Gurdial Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Punjab, who has been touring Muktsar district, said today that as the field staff of the Agriculture Department had been giving stress on the IPM, the cost of cultivation of cotton had been reduced to a considerable extent and chances of improvement in its quality had gone up manifold. He added that last year, farmers had carried out six sprays of pesticides on their crop by the end of August, but this year, they had carried out only one spray of pesticides on their crop so far. It had reduced the cost of cultivation to a large extent.

The agriculture officials who have been touring the cotton belt pointed out that if there was little rain in the month of September, the attack of American bollworm would remain under control.


Encroachers warned of heavy penalties
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, August 27
The Municipal Corporation has identified five sites for the area-wise reallocation of the numerous ‘rehris’ of vegetables, fruits and other edible items which have been encroaching on roads and intersections throughout the city for the last two decades and plans to move these out in a phased manner by the year-end.

The plan which will be implemented in the coming months will provide immense relief to the residents, especially to those residing in the inner city areas. Here owing to narrow lanes and alleys, the encroaching vendors pose a perennial traffic hazard, besides being a constant source of pollution and insanitary conditions. Traffic jams in various busy streets of the city are an everyday occurrence and also pave the way for minor accidents and collisions.

The Municipal Corporation has identified five sites where various clusters of these rehris will be re-established. These include sites near Bhasha Bhavan, Tripuri, Lahori Gate, Shahi Dawa Khana and Division Number 22. The first to be shifted out under the plan will be about 100 vendors stationed around the roads in the Sabzi Mandi area to a site in Division Number 22. Following this rehris from various other localities will be shifted to sites earmarked for them in a phased manner. The corporation expects to complete this project in the next two to three months.

It is not the vendors alone who are a major nuisance in the city bottlenecks like Sabzi Mandi area or Sheranwala Gate, the shop, and eateries alongside the road in the posh Phatak Number 22 area also hold up commuters daily to the congestion caused by their extended stalls and equipment. To deal with the rampant encroachment by these shop keepers on pavements and roads the corporation is also set to launch a drive to put an end to this nuisance permanently.

Mayor, Municipal Corporation, Mr Vishnu Sharma, while talking to this correspondent said that the corporation will clamp down on the encroachers in the forthcoming drive. When asked why the next drive would prove successful when similar earlier drives failed to have any impact, he said that the new policy pursued by the corporation will include constant vigil and levying of heavy penalties especially in the evening hours when most of the eateries put out their stalls and tables.

Earlier, all anti-encroachment drives by the corporation had fallen flat owing to the fact that shopkeepers and rehri owners have devised a system whereby coordinating between themselves on land lines as well as mobiles they come to know when the corporation staff sets out for the drive and the route it is following and counters are well within shop limits when the staff finally arrives.


Irrigation SE, four others suspended
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
The Punjab Government today suspended a Superintending Engineer, an Executive Engineer, a Subdivisional Engineer and two Superintendents of the Irrigation Department for not defending cases in labour courts.

The suspensions were ordered by Ms Kusumjit Sidhu, Secretary, Irrigation Department. Mr Jagdish Singh, Superintending Engineer, and Mr Nirmaljit Singh Sekhon, Executive Engineer and Mr Tarsem Lal, a Superintendent, have been suspended in connection with the case of Mr Gurmit Singh, a workman. The case was in the Labour Court at Gurdaspur.

The suspension order says that these officers did not “defend the case regarding Mr Gurmit Singh, a workman, in the Labour Court, Gurdaspur, which led to an ex-parte decision against the department”. Mr Jagdish Singh, who was posted in the Upper Bari Doab Canal, circle, Amritsar, has been asked to report to the office of the Chief Engineer (Canals) at Chandigarh, which will be his official headquarters to draw subsistence allowance etc. Mr Nirmaljit Singh and Mr Tarsem Lal have been asked to report to the Irrigation Department headquarters here.

By a separate order, Ms Sidhu ordered the suspension of Mr Kewal Krishan, a Subdivisional Engineer in the Shahpur Kandi project, and Mr Dev Dutt Sharma, a Superintendent in Drainage Division at Gurdaspur, for not properly handling labour court cases and for serious lapses while performing official duty. They have also been asked to report to the Irrigation Department headquarters.

Informed sources said the state government had been suffering huge losses because of a casual approach of the officials concerned of the Irrigation Department in pursuing court cases. In fact, officers rarely go to the courts to defend the state. They often direct junior officials, especially the clerical staff, to handle such serious matters. The government has to pay compensation in lakhs to employees winning these cases.

However, a big fraud is played in arbitration cases. The state government has paid crores in compensation in the past few years because of the failure of the officers concerned to defend cases filed by contractors. The sources said certain big cases of arbitration pertaining to the SYL canal decided against the Irrigation Department in the past should be handed over for scrutiny to the Vigilance Bureau or a high-level technical committee.

Certain engineers plead that there should be no provision for arbitration in contracts so as to save the Irrigation Department from such frauds.


12 employees found absent from duty
Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 27
The Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, today conducted a surprise check on offices of the Municipal Corporation during the course of which 12 employees were found to be missing from their place of work.

Stating this here, the Mayor said he had conducted the check at 9.45 am after receiving complaints from people that many employees were either coming late to the office or were not available at the seats on which they had been posted.

He said he had written to the corporation Commissioner, asking him to take appropriate action against them. He said the employees who were found missing from their office for the third time in a row should be suspended.

He said besides this, steps would be taken to ensure that employees reporting late to work were not able to mark themselves present in the attendance register later.

Mr Sharma also conducted checks at octroi posts of the corporation on the Rajpura, Sangrur and Sirhind roads. He said the octroi collection today had crossed the Rs 4-lakh mark, which he said was a record for this time of the year. He said the average collection till now had been Rs 3.20 lakh. He said the collection system would be further strengthened in the coming days to check all leakages.


4 civic staff dismissed for not depositing money
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 27
The Municipal Corporation has dismissed four of its employees for not depositing Rs 26,000 collected from water and sewerage bills. The corporation has also issued show cause notice to one Baldev Singh for not distributing water and sewerage bills. It has also ordered to deduct Rs 4,500 from his (Baldev’s) salary for not distributing bills among people on time.

While seeking on explanation in this regard, the corporation in a letter dated August 7 issued to them said despite the fact that money was collected on July 1 and 2, the same had not been deposited with the corporation.

Mr P.S. Garewal, Xen, while talking to the correspondent confirmed the dismissal of the four contract-based employees. He said orders had been issued in this regard. He also confirmed that Mr Baldev Singh had been issued a show cause notice and added that the corporation had recovered the money from the accused.

Meanwhile, confusion prevails as a number of people who have paid their dues for the past three months are reportedly receiving the same bills again. Mr Ravinder Kumar Sultanwind, president, All-India Youth Association, alleged that people were feeling harassed as they had to go from pillar to post for getting their bills corrected.

Mr Kulbir Singh Kang, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, while admitting this said the corporation was facing problems due to the computerisation. But, he claimed that the problem would be sorted out once the computerisation work gets completed.


Ludhiana man in DRI net for fraud
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, August 27
With the arrest of two Ludhiana-based businessmen — Vinod Kumar Garg and N.D. Garg — officials of the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) have unearthed a major scandal involving at least Rs 20 crore. The accused used to claim export benefits from the government, even though they either did not export any material or exported it at far below the cost at which they claimed the incentives.

While Vinod Kumar Garg was arrested from Delhi on Sunday, his associate N.D. Garg was arrested from here yesterday. They owned Garg Forging and Casting Limited, a company for which they had obtained the duty entitlement pass book (DEPB) which entitled them to avail the export incentive. During the past three years, they reportedly claimed export incentives to the tune of Rs 20 crore.

Sources revealed that they claimed to export steel forgings which cost between Rs 175 to Rs 200 per kg. But actually, they used to export cheap iron scrap which costs about Rs 5 per kg only. Also, the scrap was not exported to the destinations claimed in the documents.

During the past three years they claimed to have exported 540 containers of steel forgings. Each container would carry 21,000 kg. The incentive, according to sources, is 20 per cent of the cost of the consignment. Since the prices were inflated by about 40 times, they claimed huge export incentives running into crores of rupees.

The Gargs used to claim that they had been exporting consignments mainly to England, where they named several companies as their buyers. Even those companies existed on papers only and they had printed the letterheads of these companies themselves. They would send the orders of their own and do all communication on behalf of the buyers themselves.

Sources revealed that investigations revealed that no company claimed by them as their buyers existed in England. They reportedly prepared the letterheads and would write letters on behalf of those (non-existent) companies, saying that the consignments may be offloaded at Dubai instead of England. In Dubai, one of their associates, Harminder Singh Rajpal, would get the consignments released and cleared from Customs officials.

It was learnt that the DRI officials were monitoring the Gargs’ activities for quite some time.


Boy stabs girl’s mother, ends life
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 27
In a fit of rage, a boy allegedly stabbed the mother of the girl he liked and later committed suicide after consuming some poisonous substance in the evening here today.

According to information, Kaushik, a resident of Income Tax Colony, entered the house of the girl in the nearby Dayanand Colony with an intention to kill the girl who had rejected his advances. The frightened girl locked herself in a room after seeing him.

As he tried to break open the door of the room, the mother of the girl Sushila Rajdan came to the rescue of her daughter. The boy stabbed her with a sharp-edged weapon which he had brought. After committing the crime, he reportedly climbed to the roof and threatened to kill anyone who came near him.

On hearing shouts, their neighbours called the police. Seeing the police, Kaushik consumed some poisonous substance which he had brought with himself. Both Kaushik and Sushila were immediately rushed to the hospital where Kaushik was declared dead while Sushila Rajdan (mother) was undergoing surgery till the filing of this report.

Police sources said the family of the girl had objected to the relationship of the boy with their daughter. The parents of the girl had tried telling Kaushik several times not to pursue their daughter. They even reportedly approached the boy’s family regarding this. However, the boy did not listen to them.

No case had been registered till the filing of report.


Undertrial escapes, rearrested
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, August 27
An undertrial prisoner escaped from police custody and was re-arrested after a short while last evening here.

Angrej Singh (25), resident of Pattl Sadeek village of Abohar subdivision, had been booked under Section 109 Cr.P.C. He had been lodged in the sub jail here for the past ten days as undertrial prisoner.

Yesterday morning he had been taken to Abohar by three security guards for being presented in the court of the SDM there. While they were coming back in a Punjab Roadways bus Angrej Singh reportedly managed to get his wrist freed from the handcuffs. He then jumped from the bus as it slowed down near the bus stand around 5 pm and ran away. The security guards chased Angrej Singh and nabbed him near the office of the PSEB. Police sources confirmed the incident but were silent over any action being taken against Angrej Singh or security guards. 


Murder case solved, three arrested
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, August 27
The Dera Baba Nanak police, police district Batala, has solved the blind murder of Gulzar Masih, resident of Dhianpur. The body of the deceased was found from the fields near Dharamkot Ferry on the Indo-Pak border more than a fortnight ago.

Dr Naresh Kumar, SSP, said today that the three out of four accused involved in the murder had been arrested. He identified the accused as Jeet Singh, Karamjit Singh and Shingara Masih, all residents of Dhianpur. The fourth accused, who has not been identified, is still at large.

Dr Naresh Kumar said that during investigations it was discovered that Gulzar had misbehaved with wives of Jeet Singh and Karamjot Singh due to which both the accused had vowed to take revenge from the deceased.

The accused took Gulzar to Dharamkot Ferry to catch fish. At Dharamkot the accused and Gulzar had liquour and when Gulzar became drunk they killed him with a sharp-edged weapon.


Mohali driver shot at
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, August 27
Three unidentified persons reportedly snatched a Tata Sumo (CH 02, - 0689) by shooting at its driver Jasbir Singh, resident of Phase 11, SAS Nagar, near canal at Mehatpur Ulladhani village, about 18 km from here today.

The miscreants had hired the taxi from the taxi stand, at the PGI, Chandigarh this afternoon on some pretext. When they reached near the village they asked the driver to stop the vehicle and came out. The driver also came out of the vehicle. One of the miscreants then fired a shot at the driver from behind. The shot hit the shoulder of the driver. He jumped into a ditch near the canal in a bid to save his life.

Miscreants the fled away with the vehicle. The Balachaur police has registered a case under Section 397, IPC.


Girl recovered, abductors held

Sangrur, August 27
A teenaged girl, who was abducted by two car-borne men from Gharacho village on Monday, was recovered last evening and both alleged abductors along with their woman accomplice were arrested, the Bhawanigarh police said today.

All three accused were today remanded in police custody till September 1 by a local court.


Chandigarh family held for cheating
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, August 27
The Mehtiana police arrested Smitra Devi, her husband Karam Chand, son Jiwan Kumar and daughter Shashi Rai, wife of Narinder Sharma, residents of Sector 40, Chandigarh in connection with cheating a close relative of Brahmina Batian village of Rs 3.70 lakh today. The police has already registered a case against the accused.


Ragging reports continue as seniors let off
Our Correspondent

Vallah (Amritsar), August 27
Even as the disciplinary committee of the Sri Guru Ram Dass College for Medical Sciences and Research has given clean chit to senior students for ragging, serious complaints continue to be reported from MBBS freshers and their parents, who are sore over the inaction of the institute authorities regarding concrete steps against the erring students.

Matters came to a head when 21 girl hostel inmates, disturbed over their continuous ragging since August 4, felt harassed and humiliated when boys joined senior girls to rag them.

According to reports, the girls, were who ragged for two hours on August 24, were again bullied into coming to the auditorium at about 10 pm and forced to dance to vulgar songs, sing vulgar songs and enact advertisements about certain products in front of some senior boys and girls.

They protested, but ragging continued. They were rescued when the hostel warden came to the auditorium and reported the matter, leading to an inquiry by the disciplinary committee, which presented its report today.

According to some parents, a few hostel inmates, out of fear and harassment, had started staying with local relatives while two students had started commuting from their homes.

The parents rued that even as the college authorities had received the names of three senior boy students in this connection, all three were let off with a stern warning and their names were not blacklisted. They were not even fined, the parents added.

Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, Director-cum-Principal of the institute, said the issue had been resolved and senior students had decided to throw a welcome party to the juniors. He said some persons were deliberately trying to defame the institute.


Show-cause notice to Ram Dass colleges
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, August 27
Guru Ram Dass Medical College and Sri Guru Ram Dass Dental College, both run by the SGPC, received show-cause notices from the government today after their refusal to follow government instructions on the fee structure and abolition of NRI seats.

The Director-cum-Principal of the institute, Dr U.S. Dhaliwal, admitted receiving the notices today. He said a meeting of the Sri Guru Ram Dass Trust would be held on September 1 to discuss the issue. Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, as the SGPC chief, would preside over the meeting.

Clarifying the institute’s stand to decide the fee structure and the NRI quota of the institute, which is unaided by the government, independently, the principal said the institute was only following the Supreme Court’s directions which allow such institutes to make their own decisions about the fee structure and quotas. The government cannot impose decisions to such institutes,” he said.


Varsity courses fail to attract students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, August 27
The fee hike affected in professional courses by Punjabi University has led to student protests even as vacancies in numerous courses both within the campus and outside have forced the university to re-invite applications from students for admission to these courses.

Students of Masters in Computer Application (MCA) now pay an annual fee of Rs 72,810 instead of the earlier 48,940. The annual fee of MBA has been hiked from Rs 22,360 to Rs 68,860. The fee for MFC has been hiked to Rs 32,660 from Rs 22,360. The MSc (Biotech) students will have to pay Rs 55,400 as opposed to the earlier Rs 16,140. The fee for PGDCA has been hiked from Rs 12,590 to Rs 16,960 and the annual fee for M.Com from Rs 14,010 to Rs 19,410.

An admission notice for the year 2003-2004 advertised by the Dean, Academic Affairs, invites interested candidates for a large number of courses, including MSc (Biotech), MFC, MBA, M.Com, LL.B and MSc (Microbial & Food Technology) being run both in the university campus and the Regional Centre, Bathinda.

Seats are also available in MCA, M.Tech, PGDCA ,M.A/MSc Part I in Hindi, Urdu ,Sanskrit, Public Administration, Theatre and TV, Music, Dance, Mathematics , Zoology, Physics and Astronomy and Space Physics. Seats are vacant in many courses at the Regional Centre, Bathinda, the Regional Centre for Information Technology and Management, SAS Nagar, the extension centre for Computer Education, Jaito, and Guru Kashi Campus, Talwandi Sabo.

Dr B.S. Sandhu, when contacted, said the fee hike had little to do with the vacancies in various courses. He said the university had increased seats in all courses by 25 per cent.


Computer education for underprivileged
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, August 27
Sewa Bharati is an institution which has taken up the task of providing computer education to the underprivileged. The institution has chosen two backward areas of the city, Partap Nagar and the Bundela Mandar near Shrindi Gate to open computer centres. Mr Anil Bharati, who is heading the local chapter of the institution, says that the institution was basically acquainting the students with basics of computers so that they can become self-reliant and economically independent. The institution has two courses one of six months duration and the other of one year diploma.

The institute caters to even those students who cannot afford to pay even subsidised fee of Rs 100. They are made to do social service in the local Rajindra Hospital, bus stand and railway station, post office for one hour everyday. Besides this, they also encourage their students to organise family planning and health care campaign in the backward and slum area of the city. These centres were drawing a good response from youngsters who could not afford to attend expensive courses run by various private companies.

Pooja Arora who is now teaching here had done a diploma in computer from the Cal-C computer centre. The classes are held from 9.30 am to 10.30 am and from 4 pm to 7 pm six days a week. There are nearly 28 students enrolled in these courses. She said the centre at the Bundela temple was conducting classes in the evening from 4 pm to 7 pm.

The institution also make sure that is students also get some kind of job. Most of the students are in the centres.

Manpreet Kaur, an institute student, says that after completing the basic courses she would like to do advance course in C++. Right from her childhood she had wanted to work in a computerised office. Smilingly she says that after doing the course she feels that her dream will surely come true.


PTU forms panel on re-appear cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, August 27
The Vice-Chancellor of Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar, has appointed a high-level committee to look into re-appear cases of B.Tech programmes being conducted by the university.

According to a statement issued here, Prof S.C. Sexana, Director, Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, has been appointed as the committee’s Chairman.

The committee will submit its report within one month. Meanwhile, the students affected have been allowed to attend classes of the fifth semester.


Rally against move to privatise ITIs
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, August 27
Members of the Industrial Training Employees Union, Punjab, today held a rally in the city to lodge their protest against the state government's move to privatise its polytechnic colleges and industrial training institutes (ITIs).

In a press note issued here today, Mr Gurdarshan Singh, president of the union, said the union had urged the government to withdraw its move to privatise the polytechnic colleges and the ITIs in the interests of students and teachers. He said a dharna would be organised on August 29.

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