Friday, September 5, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Farmers’ ultimatum to govt
Open dialogue by September 11, or face another stir
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Farmers owing allegiance to three organisations today returned home after their four-day sit-in in Chandigarh but not before serving an ultimatum on the Punjab government to open a dialogue by September 11 or face the next phase of agitation to be announced the following day.

The leaders of the three farmers’ organisations had repeatedly spurned the government offer of talks with the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh. ‘’We will not talk to anyone else except Capt. Amarinder Singh, as several policy matters are involved’’ was their common refrain. The leaders are Kanwalpreet Singh Pannu of the Kisan Sangarsh Committee, Joginder Singh Ugrahan of the Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta) and Lehmbar Singh Taggar of the Punjab Kisan Sabha (CPM).

Their posture also revealed that all through these four days, the Minister for Agriculture, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, remained aloof. Sources say she still nurses the grudge that when different set of kisan organisations had simultaneously camped in Chandigarh and Patiala in March last, she was not taken into confidence when her colleague Mr Lal Singh had negotiated with them and the long dharnas were called off. She had leant of the agreement reached between the farmers and the government only in the Vidhan Sabha.

This is as much indicative of internal political squabbles within the Congress as divisions among the kisan organisations.

Undeterred by rain or sunshine or humidity, the farmers were stay put here focusing on their problems, some perceived, and challenges ahead. They had raised their voice against privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board, re-introduction of bills for electricity and canal water and hike in tariff on power used for domestic purposes and had demanded dismantling of the state electricity regulatory commission.

If the farmers demanded remunerative prices (minimum support price) for key crops they also sought withdrawal from the WTO, waiving of co-operative loans besides, opposing the World Bank loans by privatising health and education, transport etc and levy of user charges on social and economic services in the name of fiscal reforms. The farmers showed their concern as much over repeated hike in price of diesel and petrol as economic hardship faced by small farmers.

Even as thousands of farmers who gathered here under the banner of these three organisations packed up their improvised kitchens and living quarters, now comes the news that another set of farmers under the banner of six kisan organisations would assemble at the same place, Matka Chowk, on September 10. These organisations are holding a joint press conference here tomorrow to focus on their set of demands.

The parent organisation of the farmers is the Bharti Kisan Union (BKU). Over the years this body, which once claimed to be ‘’apolitical’’, developed cracks. Today, there are three BKU factions — one each of Balbir Singh Rajewal, Ajmer Singh Lakhowal and Joginder Singh Ugrahan, who has added the word ‘’Ekta” with his faction. Still another BKU (Ekta) faction is headed by Pashaura Singh Sidhupur.

It is now the turn of Sidhupur, along with five other kisan organisations, to assemble for a rally at Chandigarh on September 10. This very conglomeration of kisan organisations had held a prolonged agitation here in March last, while, Rajewal’s BKU camped in Patiala then. The five organisations are, Punjab Kisan Sabha, Kirti Kisan Union, Khetibari Kisan Vikas Front, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha and Kul Hind Kirt Kisan Union.

It is as much a reflection on the leadership of all the kisan organisations as on the government that no one has ever cared to put the policy issues in proper perspective to enable farmers analyse their demands and see them in the larger context of the future of Punjab agriculture in the world market context. Farmers, the largest political constituency, are today direction less and frustrated. Yet, the political parties only ‘’use’’ them for votes.

Besides the divisions in the BKU, even the Punjab Kisan Sabha has two factions, one owing allegiance to the CPI and the other to the CPM. The former is with Sidhupur group and the latter with Ugrahan group. Interestingly, the problems faced by the farmers and the challenges ahead, as highlighted from time-to-time by these multiple organisations, each with a political streak and claiming to protect and project the socio-economic plight of the kisan. Even on common demands and issues, these organisations have different views and approach to their resolution.


Terrorism can be eliminated, says Kalam
Naveen S. Garewal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 4
The President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, believes in “strength respects strength” and feels that the nation has to be prepared to protect itself at all times. Therefore, to keep in time with the arms race being pursued by those who pose a threat to us is perfectly in line with the strategy for national defence.

Stating this here today, Dr Kalam said India was facing a grave threat from terrorism, but it could be eliminated by empowering people by using a four-pronged strategy. The President said continuing acts of terrorism were a result of injecting elements of terror into India by certain countries. “But with a careful handling of the situation terrorism can be eliminated”, he said.

The President was addressing a gathering at the silver jubilee celebrations of the Ludhiana Management Association (LMA). Though the President did not name any country, his obvious reference was to Pakistan as he later referred to the resilience of people of Punjab in countering terrorism perpetrated by Pakistan.Complementing the people of Punjab on fighting militancy and bouncing back to stability, the President said “from instability (caused by terrorism) Punjab has come out. Other parts of the nation have to learn from Punjab to counter terrorism”.

The President said “we have to provide education, generate employment, work towards economic empowerment of the masses and blend religion with a value-based spiritual force to fight terrorism. He echoed similar sentiments at various functions in the city which harped upon the theme that “only empowerment through education, economic infrastructure and rural development can eradicate the problems faced by India”. When he told schoolchildren later in the day that “learning gives creativity, creativity leads to thinking, thinking provides knowledge, knowledge makes you great. His emphasis was that awareness among the people would curb population explosion, prevent them from getting misguided and channelise all their energies into nation building.

Dr Kalam while giving his roadmap for a “developed India” with specific emphasis on rural development said he had visualised a developed India by 2020. But to achieve this, he required the help of every citizen. “Education has to be integrated with a value system that can turn the religious force into a spiritual force leading to an economically strong nation”, he said.

The President said he had identified five core competence areas for an integrated action. The first was agriculture and food processing where a target of 400 million tonnes of foodgrains was being set. The availability of food and diversion into agro-food processing would bring prosperity to rural people and speed up growth. The second was to provide reliable and quality power throughout the country. His third area of action was aimed at education and healthcare which were both inter-related and assisted in population control which, in turn led to social security and national security.

According to the President, the fourth area on his list was information technology. This, he said, was one of our core competence areas” and he believed that this could be used to promote education in the remote areas and also to create national wealth. The last on the President’s list was the strategic sector. This area, he said, had witnessed growth in nuclear technology, space technology and defence technology.

He said all five areas were inter-related and would lead to national, food and economic security.

Those present on the occasion included the Punjab Governor, Justice OP Verma, (retd), the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, the president of the LMA, Mr Manjit Singh, the general secretary, Mr V.K. Goyal, the chairman of the Hero Group of Companies, Mr Brij Mohan Munjal, the Chairman of the Vardhaman Group of Companies, Mr S.P. Oswal, and other captains of the industry, management experts, parliamentarians, ministers and legislators.


CBI asked to file status report in termination case
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Did the state of Punjab act in an unfair manner while terminating the services of 909 panchayat secretaries ? It will take some time before the question is answered, but as of now the secretaries are claiming that nothing tangible was found against those interrogated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

In a statement before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, senior counsel Hardev Singh Mattewal, appearing on the secretaries’ behalf, asserted that 78 petitioners had so far been interrogated by the CBI. Nothing tangible had been found by the agency against them — at least to the best of their knowledge.

Mr Mattewal added that the petitioners “may be allowed to join”. If something was found against them at a later stage in relation to their appointments, they would return their salaries.

Taking up the case, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice Binod Kumar Roy and Mr Justice N.K. Sodhi, directed: “Let the petitioners file their undertaking in terms of the stand taken by Mr Mattewal”.

In their detailed order, the Judges also directed “the CBI to submit its status report in a sealed cover for confidential perusal as it may have a bearing on the fate of the prayer for the grant of interim relief to the petitioners”. The Judges also fixed October 14 as the next date of hearing.

Earlier, during the proceedings, Mr Rajan Gupta, appearing before the Bench on behalf of the CBI told the court that the investigation was “proceeding in all fairness and objectivity”.


Panel flays Ferozepore SSP on sale of girls
A.S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has come down heavily on the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ferozepore, for trying to sidetrack the issue involved in the sale and purchase of women in Ferozepore district by claiming that “no complaint in this regard” has been received in any police station in the district.

“The SSP, Ferozepore, is off the track,” observed Mr Justice R.L. Anand, Member of the PSHRC. “He has tried to sideline the main issue” about the rampant practice of sale and purchase of women in the area highlighted by a TV news channel and The Tribune. In a four-page order, he pointed out that “if no complaint has been received in any police station from any aggrieved person with regard to sale or purchase of a girl or woman, it does not mean that the police should not be discharging its duty of checking this menace at its own level. The law gives ample powers to the police to move into action on coming to know or on having knowledge that some cognizable offence has been committed under the very nose of the local administration in Ferozepore district and there is no effective check either on the part of the police or on part of the Deputy Commissioner”.

Justice Anand noted that it had been stated in the SSP’s communication that attempts were also made by the police for detecting any such case of forcible or willing sale of women or girls that were taking place or had taken place in the past, and that the statements of the persons concerned were recorded after the passing of the order by the commission.

However, he said in spite of the fact that the police had recorded the statements of five women/girls mentioned in the communication, it had not recorded the factual position. In fact, these women were sold and they were purchased by their so-called respective husbands. There was no doubt in the mind of the commission that the trade of sale of girls or women had been going in this district and this illegal practice was still flourishing. No serious efforts had been made by the local administration to curb it or to apprehend the guilty, or those who were promoting or dealing in this illegal trade by bringing girls/women from other states.

Justice Anand said, “the SSP has tried to justify this problem by submitting that the practice of getting women from other states in rural Punjab is an old one. In many cases, these women are brought for financial consideration and in other cases, it is for providing a wife to a person who is unable to find one locally without any financial consideration. A practice or custom which is against the public policy and against the provisions of the Constitution can never be endorsed. Several wrongs cannot make one right. On account of poverty, if the victims are not in a position to approach the police agency, it does not mean that the police agency should shut its eyes from its responsibility. The commission would have appreciated had a commitment been made to it by the local administration that the local police would make every endeavour to ensure that this problem shall not be allowed to flourish or go on in the district. On the contrary, the local administration is trying to wash its hands off by stating that this practice is an old one and that the victims are silent as they have settled in their families and are leading a normal life.

“Poverty is a big curse. If for financial considerations, a women has to accept the present reality, it does not mean that it is a happy ending of an illegal trade. In the opinion of the commission, the letter of SSP, Ferozepore, is self-contradictory. On the one hand, he is making the case as if nothing is happening in the district and on the other hand, he is admitting that the problem is there but is an old one.”

“Yet another untenable stand has been taken by SSP that this issue is not only confined to Ferozepore district but requires to be examined from a pan-Punjab perspective. Between the lines, he admits that this trade has been flourishing for the last few decades, if not centuries. He further admits that the intervention of the law enforcement machinery can be of limited success, as it is part of a larger social problem. In my opinion, the SSP has not appreciated the problem from an angle from which the commission would like him to see. We are concerned with the human rights of an individual. Can a human being be sold or treated like a chattel for consideration? Is it not a violation of dignity and honour of a woman that she is forced to become a sexual slave in the house of an individual against her wishes for a consideration?

The commission is not in agreement with the observations of the SSP that it is a ‘victimless crime’.

“The commission is totally dissatisfied with the stand taken by SSP, Ferozepore, and it gives directions to him that he should first realise the factual situation of this problem. Thereafter, the SSP should formulate an opinion, firstly whether it is a fact or not that the sale of innocent girls or women is going on in Ferozepore district in particular and in Punjab as a whole. How to curb this problem should be the common anxiety not only of the commission.”


Mobile lands murder suspects in police net
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 4
Two employees of a local LPG Consumer Welfare Society were arrested yesterday for their alleged involvement in the murder of their senior in the society. They were traced with the help of a mobile phone of the victim, Raj Kumar, that they had been using.

Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, in a press note here today, said Gurdarshan Singh and Gurpreet Singh had been arrested for their alleged involvement in the murder that took place in January. The police made headway in the case after tracing calls made from the victim’s mobile phone.

He said after killing Mr Raj Kumar, the accused changed the chip in the mobile set and kept using it. The police with the help of the BSNL managed to get the records of the calls made from the mobile. The accused had allegedly strangled Raj Kumar with a rope.

Investigations revealed that the accused had started cheating the welfare society by allegedly issuing fake membership cards to consumers. Raj Kumar came to know it and threatened to report the matter to the owner of the company if the accused did not give him some money.

On the intervening night of January 23 and January 24, the accused strangled him to death in the office of the society.


1,250 candidates seek interview
Corp chairman says results were rigged
Our Correspondent

Nabha, September 4
Candidates who have cleared the tests for 250 posts in the Punjab State Warehousing Corporation (PSWC) now, resent the delay in conducting the interview.

In a complaint to the Chief Minister and the Governor, Punjab, they said the department had advertised 100 posts of godown assistant, 100 posts of technical assistant and 50 posts of accounts clerk in March. The tests were conducted on May 18 and 25 in Chandigarh. Thousands of persons had taken these tests after paying an application fee of Rs 250 each.

On June 13, 500 candidates for godown assistant, 500 candidates for technical assistant and 250 candidates for accounts clerk were sent letters saying the interview would be held in July.

The interview was postponed and the candidates got fresh letters for interview on August 13. On August 12, a notice in newspapers told them that the interview had again been postponed.

Mr Hardial Kamboj, Chairman, PSWC, when contacted on telephone, said the results had been rigged to favour candidates who had paid hefty amounts for it.

He said the interview was almost scheduled before his joining as chairman, but after he had found these irregularities, he had written to the Chief Minister about it. The CM has assured a probe into the matter. The Managing Director, PSWC, could not be contacted.


HC to conduct PCS exams from September 6
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
In just over a year after the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam rocked the state, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Saturday will conduct examinations for selecting PCS judicial officers.

The development is significant as the tests are being conducted by the High Court for the first time. The examinations, starting from September 6, will continue till September 8. A total of five papers will be held under the High Court supervision.

Work was initially withdrawn from 39 PCS judicial officers. Subsequently, the High Court had recommended their termination from service to the Punjab Government. The termination of 18 others awaiting posting orders was also recommended.

According to sources in the High Court, the officers were appointed during the tenure of PPSC’s former chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. Sources had claimed that the officers were appointed between 1999 and 2001.

They had also claimed that the earlier decision to withdraw judicial work from these officers was taken on August 12 last year during a full court meeting attended by the then Chief Justice, Mr Justice Arun B. Saharya, and other Judges of the High Court. They had added that the decision was taken on the basis of recommendations made by a committee specially constituted for looking into the matter.

They had further added that the committee, comprising the then Chief Justice and certain other Judges of the High Court, had recommended the withdrawal of work after going through the answer sheets and other relevant documents placed before it. Sources had stated that the documents pertaining to 18 other judicial officers, awaiting postings, were also studied and it was decided during the meeting not to issue the posting orders to them.

Subsequently, a three-Judge Bench of the High Court had dismissed over 90 petitions filed by PCS officers terminated by the state of Punjab. They were recruited in the executive, judicial and allied services. Challenging the orders passed against them, the petitioners had claimed that they were not related to the alleged scam in any manner.

Their counsel had submitted that there was no material with the state government for passing the termination orders. Counsel appearing on the behalf of the Punjab state had, on the other hand, contended that even though there might not be direct evidence against all candidates, they could not be “cleared” in view of Rs 22-crore recovery from the then Chairman and his family.


Cong councillors lock horns with minister, Mayor
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 4
A majority of the Congress councillors have locked horns with the state Local Bodies Minister, Choudhary Jagjit Singh, and the city Mayor, Mr Surinder Mahey, by accusing both of them of discrimination in executing development works in their respective wards.

Interestingly, both senior Congress leaders have to face the wrath of 35 Congress councillors out of a total of 55 councillors of the local municipal corporation as development works in most parts of the city have been a non-starter for the past more than a year.

The Councillors Welfare Association, a group of 25 Congress councillors owing allegiance to the Punjab Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, today alleged that though work on development projects worth Rs 2 crore had been started in wards 1 and 2, falling in the Kartarpur Assembly constitutency at present being represented by Choudhary Jagjit Singh, nothing had been done to improve the basic civic amenities in the city.

“In fact, Mr Mahey, in connivance with municipal council officials, is spending public money in selective areas to appease the minister — that, too, without inviting mandatory tenders for the projects, which is in sharp contrast to the provisions of the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act,” alleged Mr Sardari Lal, a senior Congress councillor and president of the association.


17 wagons of goods train derailed
Rail traffic on Sirhind-Una section hit 
Rajmeet Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 4
Rail traffic on the Sirhind-Una section was today disrupted when 17 wagons of a goods train ferrying coal to the Ropar Thermal Plant derailed in the wee hours near Mianpur railway station, 8 km from Ropar. No loss of life has been reported.

A tragedy was, however, averted as a Sirhind-bound passenger train was scheduled to pass about two hours after the derailment. Initial reports suggest that the driver of the goods train which was being hauled by a Swiss-made electric locomotive had exceeded the speed limit of 75 kmph. A 200-metre stretch of the rail track has been uprooted as the derailed bogies piled upon each other. At some spots, the concrete sleepers were found broken under the impact of the derailment.

Sources in the Ambala Division of Northern railway, revealed that a high-level inquiry had been instituted by the Divisional Railways Manager(DRM), Ambala, Mr Keshav Chander, who was on the spot since morning to supervise the restoration works. Talking to the TNS, Mr Chander said the exact cause of the derailment would be known after a thorough probe. He ruled out any possibility of sabotage.

The derailement took place after the locomotive along with 36 bogies out of the 58-rake goods train had crossed over the faulty section of the rail track. Five coaches at the rear of the rake did not derail. The driver came to know of the derailment after the locomotive had pulled on for about a kilometre.

The sources said experts of the safety department, engineering section and the mechanical wings had reached the spot for examining the cause of the derailment. Though officers on the spot refused to talk on the possible causes of the derailment, the sources said the possibility of any fractures in the rail, breaking of any of the “locks” which hold the rails to the concrete pre-stressed sleepers and any fault in the rakes was being examined by the experts.

A senior officer of the mechanical division said the Swiss-made locomotive was equipped with features which could read the speed and other safety parameters. Experts from the Gumo Shed ( Gaziabad) — to which the locomotive belongs — are reaching the spot to analyse whether the cause of derailment lies in the hauling locomotive.

When the Tribune team visited the spot, the restoration work was going on in full swing. The DRM said 11 of the derailed bogies had been removed and the remaining six bogies were being moved away from the damaged section of the track with the help of heavy machinery brought by Army engineers from Ambala. He said a 200 metres stretch of the rail track which had been damaged would be laid by tomorrow and the traffic would resume by afternoon. Mr Chander said around 400 men of the Railways and assistance from the Ropar district administration and the Army had helped in clearing the track in less than 24 hours. For a derailment of such magnitude, it takes around 48 hours, he added.

The goods train of Eastern Railway was ferrying coal to the thermal plant from a coal mine in Bihar and had crossed Ambala at about 8 pm. The traffic on the Sirhind-Una section, a vital rail link to the Nangal Dam, the thermal plant and Anandpur Sahib, a historic pilgrims’ centre for the Sikhs, would be resumed by tomorrow afternoon.

Inquiries reveal that daily five to six rakes of coal move on the rail section which is vital for the Railways from the revenue point of view. About 22 trains, including four passenger trains and the Himachal Express, daily ply on the section.


Stop privatisation of PSUs: panel
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 4
A three-hour dharna was organised today by the district unit of the Punjab State Employees Agitation Committee in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office here in support of their demands. The main demand of the committee was to stop privatisation of the public sector undertakings. The leaders of the committee alleged that 50,000 posts in the state had already been abolished and more posts were being abolished every month.

The leaders said Punjab Roadways’ fleet of buses was being decreased day by day and a number of depots were being disbanded. Employees of the Health, Education and PWD Departments had been forced to quit due to Vigilance checking and “illegal” mass suspensions. Employees of the Health Department have not been paid their salaries for the past six to 11 months. Employees of boards and corporations were compulsorily retired or retrenched. They further said that cuts in the pay and perks of cooperative and agriculture development bank employees, privatisation of Industrial Training Institutes and polytechnics were on the cards. The government was about to fill 17,000 vacancies of teachers on contract basis at a monthly salary of Rs. 2,500 to Rs 3,500. Various speakers assailed the government’s policies on these issues. They also submitted a memorandum of their demands to Mr Raj Kamal Chowdhary, Deputy Commissioner.


Tankhaiya to be declared by all jathedars: Vedanti
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 4
Even as Giani Iqbal Singh, who has become the first Patna Sahib Jathedar to attend the meeting of the Sikh clergy here after Operation Bluestar, announced that all Takhts had the right to declare anybody tankhaiya, the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti said was the prerogative of Akal Takht only.

However, Jathedar Vedanti said henceforth jathedars of all five Takhts, including those of Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib, would hold joint meetings to decide on such vital issues as ex-communication or declaring any Sikh as tankhaiya. He said such decisions pertaining to the entire Sikh Panth could be taken from Akal Takht only.

In another significant statement, Jathedar Vedanti said he would endeavour to bring about a rapprochement among the various sects of Sikh students’ federations.


MC fails to impose octroi on mobile phones
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 4
The Octroi Department of the municipal corporation here is in a tizzy over the records of the past 11 months regarding the imposition of octroi charges on mobile phones and sim cards.

In a glaring oversight, the Octroi Department of the corporation reportedly failed to impose the new rates on the plea that they had not received the new notification. The new octroi rates on these ‘electronics’ had been increased to 3 per cent from October 10 last year. The new notification had slipped the scrutiny and record of the Octroi Department due to which the corporation charged octroi at the old rate of 0.2 per cent from October last year onwards till date.

An inquiry into the alleged “oversight” of the department, which was completed today by the Additional Commissioner, Mr Kirpal Singh, due to which the corporation had lost lakhs, found the allegations to be correct. Mr Bhawani Shanker Superintendent, told the Commissioner, Mr K.S. Kang, that the Octroi Department had not received the government notification and hence octroi charges had not been increased for these items. Mr Kang, while talking to this correspondent, said the examination of the past records could only ascertain the identification of the parties from whom the octroi was charged earlier and the balance could be recovered from them. He said recovery proceedings had been ordered. However, he failed to give any concrete reply to the query of any action to be taken for the alleged serious “lapse”.


Move to shift slaughterhouse
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 4
The slaughterhouse near the Sanauri adda and Hadda Roria, a place for dumping dead animals near the Ghalauri Gate, are likely to be shifted from the city.

The corporation has decided to identify new sites for the slaughterhouse and the dump outside the city. The Secretary, Local Bodies, who was on a visit to the city on Monday to inspect the site of the new kabari market proposed to come up in the Transport Nagar, has asked the corporation to locate new sites where both the slaughterhouse and the dump can be shifted.

The Local Bodies Secretary has also asked Mayor Vishnu Sharma to identify corporation land which is lying vacant and not being put to optimum use. He has suggested that the corporation use this land for commercial or public purpose.

The Secretary also toured the present kabari market situated on the Bahera road in the inner city and the Transport Nagar area on the Rajpura road where the Kabari Market shopkeepers will be shifted.

The junk dealers demanded that they should be given land at nominal rates as their entire business would be affected after they were shifted from the inner city. Mayor Vishnu Sharma said once the junk dealers vacated the land on the Bahera road, the corporation would allot a parking area and while the rest of it would be put to commercial use. He said the parking would help remove congestion on the Bahera road and at Adalat Bazar.

Meanwhile, following the directions of the Local Bodies Secretary, the Mayor and Corporation Commissioner on Tuesday conducted a joint tour of the city to identify vacant sites which could be put to commercial or other use. After the tour, the Mayor said space had been earmarked to rehri owners at both Tripri and the Sheranwala Gate.


Highway deaths trigger protest
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 4
Protests were triggered after a couple was crushed to death in an accident on the GT Road near the village of Mehtan near here last night.

Jagdish Lal Kalsi, SDO, PWD, at Sultanpur Lodhi in Kapurthala district, and his wife, Dalbir Kaur, were returning from Chandigarh in their Maruti car. When they took a turn on the Mehli-Mehtan bypass to go towards Jalandhar, a private bus rammed into their car and dragged it down the road, squeezing the car between a roadside tree and itself. People of Kanshi Nagar and Chak Hakim blocked traffic for over an hour on the GT road in protest against the absence of a proper link between the Mehli-Mehtan bypass and the GT Road. The protest was triggered by the fatal accident involving the SDO and his wife.

No direct link between the bypass and the GT Road forces drivers to take a wrong turn to Phagwara for heading towards Jalandhar from the first bend on the GT Road. Possibility of an accident is always high at the bend.

The mob raised slogans against the administration for ignoring this problem. The blockade was lifted on the intervention of Mr Sarabjit Rai, SHO, Sadar police station, Phagwara.

Meanwhile, the opening of the bend was plugged with bricks.

Unless a direct link with the GT Road is provided, vehicles coming from Chandigarh will have to take a detour of at least 3 km by first turning in towards Phagwara and head backwards to reach Jalandhar. The bodies of the SDO and his wife were handed over to their family after a post-mortem examination in Civil Hospital.


Martyr gets state honour at funeral
Our Correspondent

Mamoon (Pathankot), September 4
Capt Ajay Rana, who had laid down his life on Tuesday at Kargil resisting unprovoked firing from the Pakistan side was cremated today at his native village of Mamoon with full military and state honours.

This body arrived in a special Army plane at the Pathankot Air Force Station at about 2 p.m.

Born on December 15, 1975, Capt Rana had graduated from AB College here and joined the Army on September 3, 1999. He was with 60 Field Regiment.

Thousands of villagers, civil officials, Army officers and political activists attended the funeral. Brig R.K. Sharma, Col D.S. Sandhu, Master Mohan Lal (former minister, Punjab) Mr Kirpal Parmar (Member, Rajya Sabha), Mr Puneet Goyal (SDM, Pathankot) and others placed wreaths on the body.

Armymen reversed arms as a mark of respect as the pyre was lit. Capt Rana, who was the nephew of Mr Kirpal Parmar, is survived by his mother, father (retired Subedar Major K.C. Rana) and two sisters.


Ajnala allowed to join probe
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 4
Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, an Akali MLA, who was booked on January 19 by the Vigilance Bureau for possessing property disproportionate to his known sources of income, today presented himself before the Vigilance Bureau officials to join the investigation here.

Before proceeding to the Vigilance Bureau office, along with a large number of Akali supporters, Dr Ajnala told the press that he had been granted bail by the high court up to September 25.

He said despite the directives of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Vigilance Bureau did not let him join the investigations so far.

It was on directions of the Chief Judicial Magistrate whom he met yesterday that the vigilance officials allowed him to join the investigation. Since no senior official of the Vigilance Bureau was present in the office, the clerical staff told Dr Ajnala to appear in the office on September 11.


Safai karamcharis, MC staff lock horns
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 4
Tension gripped the local municipal corporation when activists of the Nagar Nigam Safai Sevak Karamchari Union, supported by three other associations, and activists of the Municipal Corporation Employees Union raised slogans against each other over the issue pertaining to the removal of pigs from city and the privatisation of sanitation in various pockets of the city.

While activists of the Nagar Nigam Safai Sevak Union, supported by the Dalit Sena and District Congress Committee SC and ST cell, staged a dharna in front of the municipal corporation office in protest against the proposed plan of the municipal corporation authorities to remove stray pigs from the city and privatisation of sanitation of its certain pockets, activists of the Municipal Corporation Employees Union started raising slogans when the safai sevaks tried to stop Mr D.K. Tiwari, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, from coming out of his office.

The situation took an ugly turn when one of the supporters of the Safai Sevak Karamchari Union stormed into the office of Mr Tiwari and asked him to listen to the grievances of Safai Karamchari’s while Mr Tiwari was holding a meeting with other officials. Mr Tiwari told him to wait for about half an hour and after which, he said, he would hold a meeting with the representatives of the Safai Sevak Karamchari Union.

On this, activists of the Safai Karamchari Union started raising slogans against him and sat on a dharna in the premises of the office of the corporation. Following this, activists of the Municipal Corporation Employees Union started raising slogans against activists of the Safai Karamchari Union.

The Safai Sevak Karamchari Union was demanding that the Municipal corporation authorities should have undertaken the removal of pigs from the city and privatisation of sanitation of certain pockets after taking it into confidence. The Safai Karamchari Union, Dalit Sena and District Congress Committee SC and ST cell also submitted memorandum to Mr Tiwari.

Mr Tiwari, on being contacted, said tenders regarding the removal of pigs from the city were to be opened today. However, the same had to be postponed as the tenders could not be published in newspapers. He said some vested interests had spread a rumour that the municipal corporation authorities had been opening tenders for the privatisation of sanitation following which activists of the Nagar Nigam Safai Karamchari Union started a dharna.

He added that now a sub-committee of four officials of the municipal corporation, including executive officer, municipal engineer, health officer and sanitary inspector had been constituted to hold talks with the representatives of the public and Safai Sevak Karamchari Union to find out the ways and means to deal with the problem of pigs and insanitation.


Two held for demanding more dowry
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, September 4
The police has arrested Kulwant Singh and his wife, Sukhjinder Kaur, both of Mangeke village on the charge of harassing and torturing Ms Surjit Kaur of Nadala village falling under Subhanpur police station in the district for bringing more dowry.

In a complaint, Ms Surjit Kaur alleged that she was married to Nirankar Singh of Mangike village in 1990 and her parents gave sufficient dowry in her marriage. After the marriage, her husband, Nirankar Singh, went to Greece and in 1993 he came back to India for the second time.

She alleged that on his second visit, her husband, his elder brother, Kulwant Singh, and his wife, Sukhjinder Kaur, started harassing her to bring a scooter, a fridge, a colour television and gold rings if she wanted to live with them Sukhwinder Singh and Makhan Singh, two other relatives of her husband, also pressed her to bring more dowry to satisfy her in-laws. After her husband left for Greece, Kulwant Singh and other members of her in-laws’ family used to maltreat her to fulfil their demands for more dowry, she said. She alleged that she learnt that her husband had now gone to Canada and Kulwant Singh and Sukhjinder Kaur had been demanding Rs 10 lakh from her parents if she wanted to join her husband in Canada.

Mr L.K. Yadav, Superintendent of Police, said Ms Surjit Kaur’s allegations were found correct in a probe by the police. A case under Sections 498-A and 406 of the IPC had been registered against Nirankar Singh, Kulwant Singh, Sukhjinder Kaur, Makhan Singh and Sukhwinder Singh.


Doctor booked for illegal abortion
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 4
The Patiala Civil Surgeon has ordered registration of a case against a Samana nursing home following a raid on the premises yesterday in which it was revealed that an illegal abortion had been performed there.

The Civil Surgeon, Dr Inderjit Kaur Walia, said here today that she along with a team of doctors had raided the nursing home and found instruments used for performing abortions in the operating theatre. A woman of Gajjumajra village had been admitted to the nursing home. She was six months pregnant when her pregnancy was terminated.

Dr Walia said she had ordered registration of a case under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Test Act against Dr Monica Garg on the charge of conducting the operation. She said investigations had revealed that the woman who had got her foetus aborted in had earlier got a sex-determination test done at Garg Laboratory in the city.


Punjabi varsity to get Rs 1.25 cr from govt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 4
Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today informed Punjabi University that the government would provide Rs 1.25 crore to it to offset the loss suffered by it on account of the fee rollback announced on September 1.

The order said the Finance Department was being directed to release the grant expeditiously.

Meanwhile, Deputy Speaker Birdevinder Singh said he had submitted his report to the Chief Minister. He said he had highlighted that the university had increased fee in March which had resulted in an additional burden of Rs 4.18 crore.

The Deputy Speaker in his report said it was also decided that after the reopening of the university, the students against whom action had been taken would meet the Vice-Chancellor and apologise.

He said there were some sensitive issues which did not find mention in the report as they needed to be addressed immediately by the Chief Minister in consultation with Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai.

The university delaying action against students by going in for the phased opening of the university. It is yet to decide on the opening of the Departments of Law, Journalism and Theatre and Television whose students formed the backbone of the agitation.

The University College of Engineering would be opened tomorrow. Sixteen departments would open on September 8.


Faculty underqualified, say students
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, September 4
Students of Bachelor of Physiotherapy have accused Punjabi University of launching the course in 2001 without providing qualified teachers, infrastructure or equipment required for running a professional course.

These students, while supporting the recent agitation against fee hike, had held a strike of their own. The students claim that the BPT course was introduced by the university in the absence of adequately qualified teachers and insufficient infrastructure, as a result of which 12 of the 17 students of the first batch had failed in one of the subjects, anatomy.

Students claim that teachers with an essential qualification of BPT or MPT are required to teach specialised subjects, whereas presently they have to make do with an underqualified and understaffed faculty. The students also say that opposed to the need for four physiotherapists, only one is available to the three batches and that at least four qualified teachers are urgently required.

The students have been demanding that well-equipped laboratories with Class-A equipment worth at least Rs 40 lakh be immediately made available to the department. They claim that besides basic equipment for biomechanics, two more laboratories for anatomy and physiology are required. However, in spite of the announcement of a sanction of Rs 90 lakh by the Vice-Chancellor for the course, no facilities have been provided to the students.

The students have also demanded that the Department of Sports Science be renamed Department of Sports Science and Physiotherapy. At present, the course is conducted in two classrooms within the Department of Sports Science.

They also allege that all four conditions laid down by the Indian Association of Physiotherapists to attain affiliation for this course are yet to be fulfilled. The conditions specify that the Head of Department should be a member of the association, the qualification of the teachers be BPT or MPT, the conference should be organised in the last year of the first batch and laboratories should contain Class- A equipment.

The students have also accused the university of not setting up various units essential to the conduct of the course, namely a physiotherapy OPD, an electro-diagnostic laboratory, units for electrotherapy, laser therapy, traction, exercise, hydrotherapy, neurotherapy, manipulation therapy and a therapeutic gymnasium.

The students claimed that no soft organs are available to perform their practicals and that theory classes for pathology and microbiology were yet to start. Students belonging to the second batch alleged that more than 50 per cent of their syllabus was yet to be covered by the faculty, even though examinations were scheduled to be held in December.

The university spokesperson, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, said the Vice-Chancellor had been apprised of the issue and he had appointed a committee to look into the matter, consisting of the Dean Academics, Prof U.C. Singh, and the Dean Faculty, Prof Manjeet Singh. He said the committee had been asked to procure the necessary equipment.


College students observe strike
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 4
In response to the Joint Students Associations Front’s strike call in Colleges of Punjab, students of S.D. College and S.D. College of Pharmacy stayed away from classes yesterday.

Harbans Singh Sonu, spokesman of the Front said the Punjab Medical Association Union, SFI and PSFI organised a joint protest rally on the college campus.

Navtej Singh Dehar, Navdeep Singh and Harbans Sonu, leaders of the PSFI, SFI and PRSU flayed the Punjab Government for not sending notifications in colleges pertaining to the government’s decision to withdraw the hike in college fees.

They also raised other demands and issues of students, including issuing of bus passes for students in all buses and stopping of privatisation of ITI’s and technical institutes.

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