Monday, September 8, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Politicians behind tree felling
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
The tale of illegal felling of trees in the Shivalik foothills dates back to about half a century. Many forest ministers and Chief Ministers, belonging to both the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal, had been doling out favours to allow contractors to indulge in tree felling in the ever-shrinking forest cover of the state.

While the Capt Amarinder Singh government has sacked Mr Harbans Lal as Forest Minister for his alleged role in bestowing favours on a senior Congress leader-cum-contractor, Mr Lachhman Singh, who remained minister thrice in Haryana, besides having a stint as Member of Parliament, there are many chinks in the investigation conducted on behalf of the state government. Talking to TNS, Mr Lachhman Singh admitted that he had been a contractor of the past about half a century.

The state government withheld crucial parts of the Chhangani Commission report, indicting the then Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, while selected portions were put on its (Punjab Government’s) official website. It seems to be a deliberate effort of the state government to conceal certain significant parts of the Chhangani report since one of the then Akali ministers indicted by the commission is the father of a Cabinet Minister in the Capt Amarinder Singh government.

Mr Satya Pal Dang, a veteran CPI leader, was the first politician to highlight the ‘loot’ of forest wealth, especially by politicians during the chief ministership of Justice Gurnam Singh and Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Mr Dang expressed surprise as to why no FIR had been registered against Mr Lachhman Singh whose name was repeatedly mentioned in the Chhangani Commission report. Mr Dang said Mr Lachhman Singh was a friend of Justice Gurnam Singh and his successors who was allowed to cut trees at a ridiculously low price. He said the illegal felling of trees continued at the behest of a defunct cooperative society. Even after more than three decades, the real culprits — top politicians and bureaucrats — have not been brought to book. Mr Dang alleged that Mr Parkash Singh Badal got illegal felling of trees done through Mr D.S. Bains, a senior official. He alleged that the then Chief Secretary had okayed charge sheets against guilty officials, but Mr Badal gave a clean chit to them as he himself was involved in the scam. The successors of Mr Badal failed to register a criminal case against the contractor, politicians and bureaucrats involved in the scandal.

Mr Dang said if Capt Amarinder Singh was serious to launch an anti-corruption drive, then he must seek a CBI inquiry into the ‘looting’ of forest wealth for the past about half a century as there was no time limit for criminal offences. He said it was strange that Capt Amarinder Singh was silent over the role of Mr Lachhman Singh.

Talking to TNS on the telephone, Mr Lachhman Singh said the then Chief Minister, Beant Singh, had given him a selling permit in 1992 in Ropar district. However, it was stayed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. He said Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who later became the Chief Minister, kept the file with him for eight months (since the portfolio of Forest was with him). He said Mr Badal had no moral right to speak against him as he had also granted selling permits during his regime. However, when the portfolio was given to a BJP minister, Mr Badal had given a note on the file to grant permission. Mr Lachhman Singh said the owner had the right to sell trees.

As per the summary findings of the Chhangani report, to avoid soil erosion and to develop forests in certain areas, the Punjab Government had issued a notification under Sections 3 of the Punjab Preservation Act and declared Siswan as a protected area. However, trees were never auctioned till 1968. For the first time, the then Assistant Registrar, Mr D.S. Bains, held an auction on October 29, 1969, and accepted the bid of Rs 28,000 given by Mr Lachhman Singh, a contractor from Kalka (Haryana). By an agreement, which was signed on the same day, all trees having a girth above 15 cm and standing within 3,500 acres were sold for felling to the contractor. Even mango trees were not excluded. The commission had indicted Mr Satnam Singh Bajwa, the then Forest Minister, and Mr Harnam Singh Bawa too.


Badal accused of destroying Sikh institutions
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 7
Chief Minister Punjab Capt Amarinder Singh, was a better Sikh than Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President. The President of new Akali Dal Mr Ravi Inder Singh stated this to reporters here yesterday. He alleged that the Congress had just brought down the building of Akal Takht but Mr Badal as Chief Minister of Punjab destroyed the Sikh institutions. By changing jathedars of Akal Takht frequently he had lowered esteem of the institutions. The new Akali Dal has been planning to contest SGPC elections. If voted to power in the SGPC the new Akali Dal would reinstate Bhai Ranjit Singh as Jathedar of Akal Takht. The new Akali Dal did not recognise Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti as Jathedar of Akal Takht.

Besides, the new Akali Dal will frame a procedure for the appointment and removal of the Jathedars of Takht to restore the glory of Takht, he said.

The objective of the Akali Dal is to provide selfless service to the people of Punjab. Mr Badal had reduced the party to a family affair. He was projecting his son as successor in the party set up ignoring old Akalis who had given their life for the party, he added.

The new Akali Dal was getting overwhelming response from people of the state and the party would end rule of the Badal family in the Akali Dal, he said.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh was here to attend a function held in his honour by Maharaja Ranjit Singh Sports Club.


Badal, Vedanti flayed over ‘pigeon scam’
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 7
In a reminder sent to the Sikh high priests, the Socialist Front on Friday accused Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, and Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, of maintaining a “studied silence” over the infamous kabutar kand (pigeon scam).

Mr Balwant Singh Khera, chairman of the Malta Tragedy Investigation Committee, alleged that it was a matter of concern that no action had been taken against a former Akali minister. Certain SGPC members were responsible for taking some persons to Vancouver, who disappeared after the tercentenary celebrations of the birth of the Khalsa panth there.

He said Sikhs became a laughing stock all over the world when the ‘disappeared’ persons were described as ‘pigeons’ who flew after participating in the religious function in Vancouver.

Mr Khera said Jathedar Vedanti had failed to give a satisfactory reply about taking the invaluable handwritten volume of Guru Granth Sahib to Canada without obtaining permission from the SGPC. He said despite concrete proofs of “human trafficking”, no action had been taken by the SAD, the SGPC or the Sikh clergy. He said he had decided to visit Canada to collect all documents so that the persons involved in the case could be exposed.


Mayors to have more powers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Choudhary Jagjit Singh, Minister of Local Government, today announced that the state government had constituted a high-powered committee to give more financial and executive powers to the Mayors of corporations.

Talking to newsmen after holding a draw of lots for 145 MIG flats in the office of the Amritsar Improvement Trust, he said that the government was committed to improve the functioning of local bodies and was giving more responsibilities to the heads of these organisations.

He said the government was preparing a comprehensive master plan for all major cities and towns in the state for their balanced development in view of the growing populations and need to improve civic amenities. He said a committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister had been set up for the purpose.

Answering questions about the mushrooming of unauthorised residential colonies in the urban centres, the minister urged the people not to purchase any property from the illegal colonisers. He said that the government was carving out developed colonies in all the cities through PUDA and Improvement Trusts.

Choudhary Jagjit Singh said that the government would provide sufficient funds to the corporations for development. He said the government had provided Rs 9 crore to the Amritsar Municipal Corporation to take up urgent development projects.

Commenting on the much-delayed galliara project, the minister said that a high-level meeting attended by the Principal Secretary, Local Government, with the local administrations was held today to review the working of the project. He said that the galliara scheme would be taken up expeditiously as the required funds from the Centre had been received.


Illegal abortions: Sangrur has more to hide
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
As abortions are common in the state, it may come as a surprise to many that despite having a sufficient number of nursing homes and clinics, Sangrur district has no private authorised centre for medical termination of pregnancy (MTP). However, there are 15 approved government health institutions (primary health centres and civil hospitals) in the district for doing the job.

Though there is no private authorised MTP centre here, people say that abortions are being done “illegally” by private individuals associated with medical profession and even untrained persons.

In rural areas this has been happening at a large scale, as nothing has been done by the health authorities to stop this.

Sources in the Health Department said one could imagine the number of illegal abortions in Sangrur district from the number of the MTPs done in the 15 approved government health institutions during the previous financial year.

These institutions performed less than 450 abortions in this period at an average of 35 MTPs per month.

Sources said it was difficult to believe that there had been only so few abortions in the district per month in these times of female foeticide. They also gave the actual figures to be at least five times more.

The Director, Health Services and Family Welfare, Punjab, in February, 2002, asked all Civil Surgeons of the state to enforce the MTP Act strictly by taking stern action against private doctors, midwives and quacks performing illegal abortions.

In March, 2002, the Director again wrote to all Civil Surgeons and sought a list of all approved MTP centres.

He wanted quick final decisions on pending applications.

Highly placed sources in the Health Department here told TNS that only 14 private nursing homes/clinics had written to the Sangrur Civil Surgeon to get their MTP centres approved. Of these, 12 centres had already been inspected.

These centres were at Sangrur, Bhawanigarh, Barnala and Sunam. Now these cases would be sent to the Director, Health Services, for approval.

Sources also said when even the common man knew of abortions being done illegally at several places, these could not be hidden from health authorities, who had still not taken any action against the violators.

An official of the Health Department said they could act only on the basis of specific complaints.


CPI (ML) rally against WTO on Sept 9
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 7
To put pressure on the BJP-led Central government to boycott the forthcoming 5th ministerial meeting at Cancun and withdrawal from WTO pact, the CPI (ML) has decided to hold a district-level protest-demonstrations and rallies on September 9 in the country.

The Provincial Secretary of the CPI (ML) New Democracy, Mr Darshan Singh Khatkar stated here on Friday that weeklong campaign to create awareness on the effects of WTO-regime on the people and third world countries including India was already on and the party would organise demonstrations against WTO in every district of the country from September 9 onwards.

In the ministerial meeting at Cancun, the western imperialist countries could impose their orientation of eliminating subsidies in agriculture sector, dismantling of public procurement system, elimination of all restrictions on foreign imperialists capital to the third world countries, said Mr Khatkar.

During previous meetings, the western countries threw small crumbs to the rulers of third world countries, including India, he alleged adding that already the policies of globalisation, liberalisation and privatisation dictated by international lending agencies and perpetuated by WTO regime had created havoc in third world countries.


Youth Congress’ ‘rail roko’ on Sept 22
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, September 7
The Indian Youth Congress will organise ‘rail roko’ programme on September 22 in the state as part of nationwide agitation against the “diabolical agenda” of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre.

In a joint statement issued here yesterday, president of the Punjab Youth Congress, Devinder Singh Babbu and senior vice-president, Pawan Deewan said that Youth Congress activists will organises protest demonstrations in all parts of the state and the district-level workers had been informed of it.

Mr Babbu and Mr Deewan said, a communication had been received in this regard from Indian Youth Congress president, Randeep Singh Surjewala. They disclosed that the rail roko agitation would be the follow-up of the nine-point charge-sheet presented by the Congress president against the government on the floor of the House during the no-confidence motion.

They alleged that the NDA government had jeopardized the defence of the country, underestimated threats to national security, had been wrecking social harmony, subverting the secular values of the nation, dismantled the public sector, denigrated key democratic institutions, undermined the foreign policy, subverted the secular nature of Indian education and increased unemployment and left farmers and tillers suffering.


Fall of Maya govt not to affect Punjab Dalits, says Kainth
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 7
Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, President, Bahujan Samaj Morcha, Punjab, said that there would be no impact on Punjab politics with the ouster of the Mayawati Government in UP.

The people of Punjab, including Dalits, were socially and economically sound compared to their counterparts in UP and Bihar. They should not depend on UP and Bihar leadership and should take their own decisions, he said.

Mr Kainth was talking to mediapersons at PWD Rest House here on Friday. He criticised Capt Amarinder Singh’s government and said that it had failed in fulfilling the promises made to people during last state Assembly elections.

To analyse the social and economic conditions of Dalits of Punjab, the Bahujan Samaj Morcha would organise a state-level rally at Phagwara on September 24, 2003, in which Mr V.P. Singh, a former Prime Minister of India, would participate.

Replying to a question, he said that the BSM would have political alliance with like-minded parties before Lok Sabha elections.


Percentage of girls in NCC to be increased
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
After several decades of having separate units for boys and girls, the National Cadet Corps has reintroduced the concept of “mixed” battalions with a number of battalions comprising boys as well as girls being formed.

Stating this while interacting with mediapersons here yesterday, the Director-General, NCC, Lieut-Gen B.K. Bopanna, said some battalions in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and some southern states had already been converted into mixed battalions and more were to follow.

“For example, a battalion may have five companies of boys and one of girls,” he said. “Some aspects of the training will be conducted centrally, while some part would be carried out separately,” he added. He said that initially the NCC had mixed battalions.

General Bopanna said the strength of girls in the NCC was being increased. “Presently, girls comprise 15 to 20 per cent of the enrolled strength. In the next two years, it is envisioned to raise the strength to 33 per cent,” he said.

The increase in the strength of girls would be at the cost of the strength of boys in the NCC. “The sanctioned strength of the NCC is 1.3 million. Since we cannot increase it, the intake of boys will go down,” the NCC chief said.

The Director-General rued inadequate financial support to the NCC by various state governments. He said the NCC had been facing problems as certain state governments were not providing the requisite financial grants. “This results in cadets not getting opportunities which cadets from other states can avail,” he said. “Recently, hundreds of cadets from Punjab were unable to attend national-level camps as the state government did not release funds,” he added.

General Bopanna said the NCC Directorate would go ahead with deenrolling cadets in Punjab if the state government failed to provide funds for training and related activities. The matter had been taken up with the state government at the highest level.

The Director-General also said the NCC would be participating in the national air race scheduled to be held in November in a big way. Meanwhile, the firstever all-girl expedition being organised by the NCC, he said, had been postponed till 2005 due to training reasons.


NCC to help spread cancer awareness
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The National Cadet Corps (NCC) has joined hands with Cancer Care India (CCI) to spread awareness among the masses in this region about cancer, its causes, prevention and cure. The cancer awareness programme, northern zone, was launched by the Punjab Governor, Justice O.P. Verma, himself an ex-NCC cadet, here yesterday.

Stating that the CCI had entered into a tie-up with the NCC to educate the masses for creating awareness about the dreaded disease, the president of the CCI, Ms Harmala Gupta, said though facilities for treating cancer in India existed if the disease was detected early, about 80 per cent of the cases came to light only when it was too late.

“Here comes the role of the NCC youth in generating awareness about the disease,” Ms Gupta, a cancer survivor said. “CCI programmes are currently operating in nine states and we expect to progressively extend them to other states,” she added.

Stating that strength and discipline of the NCC youths made it an ideal platform to conduct awareness programmes, the Director-General, NCC, Lieut-Gen B.K. Bopanna, said that two such programmes were conducted by the NCC in Delhi and Kolkata recently.


Cardiologists discuss primary angiography
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 7
Eminent cardiologists discussed threadbare the techniques of primary angiography at a one-day seminar "Zenith, 2003 Cardiology Summit" jointly organised by the Patiala Cardiology Initiative and a Mumbai-based pharmaceutical firm, USV, at the Research and Development wing of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) here today.

More than 130 doctors from all over Punjab, Haryana and New Delhi attended the seminar which was co-ordinated by a team of doctors comprising Dr Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, Dr Sudhir Varma, Dr Manmohan Singh, Dr Dharmvira Gandhi, Dr S.P.S. Bagga and Dr Arun Chopra.

Delivering the keynote address "Coronary Care 2003 and Beyond", Mr Upendra Kaul, past president of the Cardiology Society of India, emphasised that heart care units should be made more accessible to the general public. Indians could expect a less than 5 per cent mortality rate if primary balloning of the blocked artery (primary angiography) was carried out in time. Dr Kaul, is Director, Interventional Cardiology, Batra Hospital, New Delhi, spoke on emerging trends in the field of cradiovascular sciences.

Renowned cardiologist Gurpreet Singh Sidhu opined that the primary angiography technique was better than conventional methods, including the use of blood clot dissolving agents. He attributed the increase in heart attacks to change in eating habits, reduced physical activity, use of tobacco products and diabetes.

Dr Harinder Bali of the PGI, Chandigarh, said diabetic patients were more prone to heart attacks and it was this class of patients which needed early management using balloning techniques. Dr Balbir Singh of Batra hospital, New Delhi, talked about irregular heart beat.

Prominent among those who spoke were Dr S.S Kothari, Paediatric Cardiologist, All-India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi, Dr G.S. Wander, DMC, Ludhiana, and Dr T.S Mahant, Batra Hospital.


Seminar on increasing vulgarity in society
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
A cross section of politicians, educationalists, traders, lawyers and women activists today urged the people to come on a common platform to fight against the trend of increasing vulgarity through various mediums in the society.

The speakers, who addressed the seminar on the topic “Vulgarity pollution-a curse for society”, organised here today by the Public Library, Bathinda, under its programme of “jago and jagao” were of the opinion that vulgarity in various mediums could be checked only through sustained and continuous struggle by the people.

Mrs Kaushal Bhora, wife of Member Parliament, Mr Bhan Singh Bhora, who presided over the function, said that the culture of vulgarity, which was increasing day by day, was a sensitive issue and it should be dealt with seriousness. She added that a permanent panel should be set up to fight against it.

Mrs Raj Gupta, president, Malwa AIDS Surkhsha Sangthan, said that Indian culture was so rich that foreigners had started adopting it. She added that what was disappointing was that Indian were going away from its culture. She added that increasing incidences of AIDS in the country was a direct fall-out of increasing trend of vulgarity in movies, songs, posters and other mediums.

Mrs S.L. Latika, Principal, DAV School, Bathinda, said that vulgarity had been adversely affecting the psyche of the school-going children and a significant behavioural change could be seen in those children, who were exposed to vulgarity at a tender age.

Mr K.K. Sharma, senior Congress leader, said that a complete ban should be imposed on the beauty contests as these were promoting vulgarity in the society. Mr Jagdish Ghai, a CPI leader, said that it was good beginning that right thinking people of society had started opposing the culture of vulgarity in the city.

Others who addressed the seminar included Mrs Iqbal Bhasin, a senior activist of a woman organisation, Mr P.D. Goyal, an income tax advisor, Mrs Shanti Jindal, Principal, Arya School, Mr Banarasi Dass, a social worker and Mrs Arun Jain, an educationist.


Sixty unauthorised structures removed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 7
As many as 60 unauthorised structures, which had come up on the road dividing the district administrative complex and district judicial complex in the past few years, were pulled down by officials of Municipal Corporation and the Public Works Department (PWD).

These unauthorised structures, including kiosks and sheds, had earlier also been removed by the officials of PWD about three years ago. But these unauthorised structures had again come up and the owners of the same had been running their business without any resistance from the district administration.

The district administration and the PWD authorities today took the action of pulling down the unauthorised structures as the Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered that there should be no encroachment on any piece of land belonging to the state government.

The operation for demolishing the unauthorised structures started today morning and went on till afternoon. About 100 labourers and some bulldozers were used to clear the encroachments. The area was sealed-off by the police before the task of removal of unauthorised structures started. The operation was supervised by Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (city) and Mr Upjeet Singh Brar, SDM, Bathinda.

Mr Kamal Kant Goyal, Executive Officer (EO), Municipal Corporation, was also present during the removal of unauthorised structures. He said that an announcement for removal of unauthorised structures had been made in that area yesterday so that owners of these structures could save their belongings. He added that today's operation of removing unauthorised structures was smooth.


Panel to discuss Pandits with Mufti
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 7
The National Commission for Minorities (NCM) will soon hold a dialogue with the Jammu and Kashmir Government pertaining to the rehabilitation of around 3.5 lakh Kashmiri Pandits.

The chairman of the NCM, Mr Tarlochan Singh, told newsmen here yesterday that the commission had written to the Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed urging him to hold a high-level meeting to discuss the issue.

“The government should come up with a firm policy by opening a straight dialogue with the affected. The commission will also press for freeing the properties of migrant Kashmiri Pandits from encroachment.

The commission had held several meetings with the Initiative for Kashmiri Pandits an organisation dealing with the problems of the community, during the past two months and drawn a comprehensive plan to be discussed during the proposed talks.

“Another important aspect needing immediate attention of the government is improving living conditions at the Jammu and Delhi camps for migrant Pandits,” he said.


Sekhwan Trust assets assessed
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 7
A team of doctors headed by Dr Narinjan Singh Suman, Civil Surgeon went to Sekhwan village to assess the assets of the Ujagar Singh Sekhwan Charitable Trust. The other members of the team included Dr Arvind Mahajan, Dr Jagjivan Ram, Dr H.S. Kaler, Dr S.K. Hans and Dr Jagir Singh.

The team made a list of the assets of the Ujager Singh Charitable Hospital in Sekhwan in this district. But it failed to make any list of the assets of the dental college being run by the trust as the trust authorities did not allow the team to enter the college which was lying closed at that moment, said official sources.

The turst has been constituted at the initiative of Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan, former Revenue Minister and son of the late Akali leader, Ujager Singh Sekhwan. The Punjab Vigilance Bureau has registered a case of corruption against the minister. The visit of the team was part of the Punjab Government’s programme to find assets of the trust and sources of funds which have been raised for the construction of the hospital and building of dental college attached with it.

While the team was examining the records of the hospital, supporters of Mr Sekhwan raised slogans against Mr Partap Singh Bajwa and the Punjab Government. The step of the government was vindictive and aimed at implicating the Akali leader in a false case, they said. Mr Sekhwan said the case regarding the trust and its property was pending in the court and all interference by the government, including the visit of the team of doctors, is against the law.


Tourist centre to be set up
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
A tourist reception centre will be established here with help from the Union Government so that the tourists visiting the holy city could get guidance and knowledge regarding the important places here.

This was stated by Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, here on Friday while laying the foundation stone of Sunrise club and resort on the Jandiala road. The club is being built by Mr Aman Dhillon, an NRI.

The Deputy Commissioner said AC buses would also be arranged for the tourists to visit important places in the city. He said the state government had released Rs 1 crore to the Ram Tirath Vikas Board for the development, maintenance and beautification of Ram Tirath, a historical and a religious place here.


Sewerage plant to be set up in Jalandhar
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 7
The Chairman of the Punjab Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Mr Jasbir Singh Dimpa said yesterday that sewerage treatment plants worth Rs 47 crore would shortly be set up in Jalandhar and Kapurthala.

“To control water pollution and to improve irrigation facilities in the two district, the Central Government has sanctioned Rs 47 crore, out of which Rs 35 crore will be spent on the projects of Jalandhar and Rs 12 crore has been sanctioned for Kapurthala district” Mr Dimpa told reporters here today adding that tenders for both projects had already been invited.

He further said that the work on Sutlej Action Plan to ensure the discharge of clean water into Sutlej for which Rs 14 crore had already been released by HUDCO, would be completed within two years.


Panel divided over annual mela
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 7
Two political conferences will be held for the first time this year on the occasion of the annual mela to be organised here on September 9 in the memory of Abdul Hamid who sacrificed his life during the Indo-Pak war in 1965. An 11-member Abdul Hamid Memorial Committee is a divided house. The village panchayat, allied with the SAD, has declined to cooperate with the committee’s president, who is loyal to the Congress.

Sources told this correspondent here yesterday that Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, would address the conference being organised by the Congress. The village gram panchayat, too, is organising a parallel conference to which Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister, and Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, an Akali MLA, have been invited.


Wheelchairs given to needy
Tribune News Service

Moonak (Sangrur), September 7
Mr Justice Ashok Bhan, a Judge of Supreme Court of India, today called upon the people to help physically- challenged persons so that they could stand on their own feet. He said the aid should be provided to the physically-challenged persons to enable them to work without any hinderance.

Mr Justice Bhan was addressing a function, organised on the birth anniversary celebration of his father, late Babu Brish Bhan, a former Chief Minister of PEPSU, at his native village on the premises of Babu Brish Bhan DAV Public School here today.

On this occasion, Mr Justice Ashok Bhan gave away 22 hearing-aid sets to hearing-impaired persons and tricycles to physically-challenged persons. He also gave away a wheel chair to Mr Mithoo Singh, another physically-challenged person. As many as 34 pairs of crutches and some more wheel chairs were also given to the needy persons. Tricycles, hearing-aid sets, wheel chairs and crutches were provided by the District Disability Rehabilitation Centre, Patiala, being run by the District Red Cross Society, Patiala.

Mr R.K. Gupta, ADGP, Punjab, emphasised on building a movement for helping the physically- challenged persons.

In memory of Babu Brish Bhan, a blood donation camp was also organised in the school complex. Besides, a camp for the examination of disabled persons was also organised.


Federation to intensify stir
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, September 7
The two-day state-level delegate conference of the Punjab State Subordinate Service Federation concluded here today. The 52 delegates present resolved to intensify the stir against the government’s tendency to run away from its moral responsibilities under the guise of following the policy of privatisation, handing over public welfare departments to panchayats, depriving trade unions of their right to go on strike and making the pension scheme contributory.

The following were elected office-bearers of the federation: president — Mr Mahan Singh Rouri, general secretary — Mr Purshottam Bilga, senior vice-presidents — Mr Nirmal Gill, Mr Surinder Sharma, Ms Surinder Kaur, Mr Massa Singh and Mr Sucha Singh, vice-presidents — Mr Jolly, Mr Kewal Krishan, Mr Sukhdev Singh and Mr Balbir Ghumman, organising secretary — Mr Prem Rakker, finance secretary — Mr Harbhajan Singh, secretaries — Mr Surjit Singh, Mr Gurmail Singh, Mr Jagtar Singh, Mr Sher Jang Singh, Mr Karnail Singh, Mr Bhajan Singh, Mr Surinder Partap Singh and Mr Darshan Singh, and auditor — Mr Kulbir Singh.


Mandal serves ultimatum on government
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
The Punjab Beopar Mandal today served an ultimatum on the Punjab Government by stating if the government did not withdraw the exim form and abolish octroi by September 30, a statewide agitation would be launched.

This was stated by Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, president of the mandal, at a ‘sammelan’ of traders here today. He said traders would organise demonstrations, dharnas and road blockades in the state.

Mr Bajrang Dass Garg, president of the Haryana Beopar Mandal, said the traders of Haryana would actively participate in the agitation. The speakers demanded the immediate withdrawal of the exim form.


Dharna against police inaction

Jalandhar, September 7
Residents of Kurali village yesterday held a dharna front of the Lambra police station against the alleged police inaction against the accused in an abduction case. The agitating residents alleged that Amrik Singh tried to abduct an 11-year-old girl of Kurali village on September 4 and also beat her up for resisting the move. The villagers, however, rescued her. OC


Two students drowned in tank

Sangrur, September 7
Two students died when they got drowned in the holy tank of Gurdwara Mastuana Sahib today, police sources said.
The students of Sangrur, Dharminder Singh and Kamal Singh, were drowned early in the morning while taking a dip near here. — PTI


7 booked for defrauding bank
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 7
The Kapurthala police has booked seven persons in as many separate cases on the allegations of duping Punjab and Sind Bank of Rs 5.5 lakh by submitting fake documents to obtain loans and for their subsequent failure to repay the same.

Mr L.K. Yadav, SP, in a press statement issued here today, said that the Punjab and Sind Bank, Kapurthala branch, in its complaint on August 28 alleged that seven persons — Jaswinder of Ranjit Avenue, Amardeep Singh of Hakim Zafar Ali Mohalla, Vikas Khurana of Ashok Vihar locality, Ravinder Singh of Sheenpura Mohalla, Jai Singh of Shiv Colony, Surinder Singh and Mohinder Singh of Mandir Janki Dass were sanctioned loans to set up new business and to upgrade their existing commercial establishments.

While Jaswinder was sanctioned a sum of Rs 56,000 to set up an STD PCO two years back, Amardeep’s case for a loan of Rs 50,000 to set up a spare parts shop was sanctioned by the authorities concerned in March 2001. Similarly, Vikas Khurana obtained a loan of Rs 95,000 in 1999 to upgrade a computer shop, while Ravinder Singh was sanctioned Rs 50,000 for an auto spare parts shop.

Mr Yadav further said that Jai Singh managed to obtain a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh to upgrade his auto spare parts business while both, Surinder Singh and Mohinder Singh got a loan of Rs 50,000 to set up a badminton racket shop.

The scam came into light, when the accused failed to repay the monthly instalments forcing the bank authorities to scrutinise their loan application files. The matter was reported to the police on August 28. Mr Yadav said that during preliminary investigation, it was found that the addresses and most of the documents submitted to the bank authorities were fake. None of the beneficiaries was found to be using the loan money for the purpose.

It was found that they had neither set up their business, as mentioned in their loan files, nor they were ready to pay the loan. Separate cases under Sections 406, 420 have been registered and efforts were on to arrest them. Mr Yadav further said that the role of the bank employees, who had sanctioned the loan cases from time to time to these defaulters, were also be scrutinised.


14 booked on rape charge
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 7
A case of gang-rape has been registered at the Kalanaur police station under Sections 376, 368, 363, 366, 506 and 120-B of the IPC against 14 persons on the complaint of a resident of Buche Nangal.

The complainant had reported that on March 20, Pargat Singh and Sarabjit Singh of Chack Barohe took her along with them on the pretext of participating in a Kirtan at Sahari village. She had added that they later took her to Batala and from there to the house of Gurmukh Singh at Dehar Gawar.

The complainant had said she was later taken to Nakora, where she was kept for some time and gangraped by Pargat Singh, Jasbir Singh, Satwant Singh and Jaspal Singh. She had added that from there, she was taken to a place in Rajasthan, where they were joined by Avtar Singh, who also raped her. She had said a few others were also involved in her gang-rape.

The police rushed parties to the hideouts of the accused. No arrest had been made so far.

On the other hand, Pargat Singh, one of the accused, claimed that his marriage to the complainant was registered at Hanumangarh in Rajasthan on April 17.


Minor girl recovered
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Five persons, including four women, were arrested by the police for allegedly luring a minor girl for marriage here today.

The girl, who used to work as a maid servant, was alleged to be lured on the pretext of marriage by Kuldip Singh, a painter and resident of Bhalowali village (at present in Thikriwal village in Batala), with the help of Veero of Preet Nagar, Surjit Kaur and Jeeto of Baba Deep Singh Colony on the Fatehgarh Churian road and Shindi of Housing Board Colony, who are reportedly relatives of the accused.

A case was registered in this regard at Sadar police station under Sections 363, 366 and 120-B, IPC, on September 5 on a complaint of her father, Beer Singh. Beer Singh had stated that he accused was used to visit his house regularly.

The accused were presented before the Duty Magistrate here today who later sent them to judicial custody.

Meanwhile, a house in Police Colony was burgled by some unidentified persons here last evening. The accused decamped with gold and silver jewellery and Rs 5,700. Jaswinder Singh, a police constable, in his complaint stated that he and his wife were on duty when the incident happened.

In raids, the Majitha police nabbed three persons, Arur Singh and Joginder Singh of Chhapa Ram Singh and Gurmukh Singh of Mallia, village, for allegedly possessing 600 kg 450 kg and 20 kg of illicit liquor, respectively.


Contractor employee held for harassing sarpanch
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 7
The Dera Baba Nanak police today arrested Manga Ram, an employee of the excise contractor of the area who harassed Shangara Mal, sarpanch of Pakhoke Mahmar.

Dr Naresh Kumar, SSP, Batala, talking to The Tribune today said that a case under Sections 452 and 323, IPC, was registered against the accused yesterday.

Shangara Mal, sarpanch of Pakhoke Mahmar, along with his supporters met Mr Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa, MLA from the area and complained that the accused had harassed him. Mr Randhawa accompanied by his supporters sat on dharna in front of Dera Baba Nanak police station on Friday. The matter came to the notice of the Chief Minister who contacted the MLA and assured him of prompt action against the defaulters. The dharna, however, was lifted at 2.30 a.m. yesterday in the presence of the SSP, Batala, and Mr Parneet Bhardwaj, Subdivisional Magistrate, Batala.


3 of family booked for false adoption deed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Two advocates and three members of a family have been booked for making a false adoption deed. The adoption deed was found by the police during an investigation of a dowry case registered against the family on the complaint of a woman in 2001.

In the complaint, Pardeep Kumar Bindra, father of the girl, had stated that his daughter married Sunil Arora, son of Rajinder Kumar Arora, a resident of the Rani ka Bagh in 1999. Despite giving dowry at the time of the marriage, Mr Bindra alleged Sunil Arora and his parents tortured his daughter physically as well as mentally, asking her to bring more dowry. He had also alleged that his daughter was forced to sign blank papers. A case under Sections 406, 420, 498-A and 506 of the IPC had been registered against the Arora family in 2001.

Later, during investigations the police found the adoption deed dated April 23, 2001, which was allegedly prepared by the accused and had been registered on April 24, 2001.

In the adoption deed, Rajinder Kumar Arora and his wife had stated that since they could not have more children, so they were adopting Rishab, son of Sunil Arora. The adoption act has no provision where grandparents can adopt the grandchildren.

Interestingly the registering authorities (the two advocates) fraudulently registered the adoption deed without inquiring about the law. The police have registered a case under Sections 467 (forgery of a valuable security will), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for the purpose of harming the reputation of any person), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 148 and 149 of the IPC.


Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
Avtar Singh, a resident of the Islamabad area here, today committed suicide reportedly after some family dispute. A case under Section 306 of the IPC has been registered at Jandiala police station in this regard.

Satnam Singh, brother of the deceased, in his complaint stated that Avtar Singh had gone to his in-laws' house to bring his wife, Manjit Kaur, who had gone to her parents house in Nizzarpura falling under Majitha police district, after some dispute with her husband.


SGPC medical college to accept 54 students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 7
The Punjab Government said on Friday that the SGPC-run medical and dental colleges had agreed to admit 54 students allocated to the institutions against the government quota.

Mr Satish Chandra, Secretary, Medical Education, said these colleges would charge the fee fixed by the government from these students. These 54 students had been told to report to both colleges.

About the setting up of a committee for determining the fee structure for private medical and dental colleges in the state, Mr Satish Chandra said the government was looking for a retired High Court Judge to head the panel. If the committee enhanced the fee for private colleges for the current year, students would have to pay the balance amount accordingly.


Students observe fast
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 7
Students of various engineering colleges affiliated to Punjab Technical University (PTU) observed fast in protest against the failure of the authorities to accept their long-pending demands.

They demanded that the university should restore the credit system instead of the marks system.

Though the university has allowed the students to attend classes of the fifth semester, subject to the recommendations of a high-powered committee constituted by the Vice-Chancellor, the students said the decision should be taken immediately.


Painting competition
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 7
As many as 245 paintings from all over the country have been displayed at the 69th all-India exhibition of arts-2003 which was inaugurated by Prof Darbari Lal, Minister of State for Education, at the Indian Academy of Fine Arts here today.

On the occasion 11 artistes were honoured with commendation awards and Rs 43,000 each, while 10 artistes were given highly commended certificates and mementoes.


BSNL to have 3 more mobile phone towers soon
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 7
BSNL authorities here will have three more Base Transmission Stations (BTS) at Sherpur, Dhuri and Ahmedgarh by September-end to increase capacity of mobile phone connections by 3000 and improve mobile phone services in these areas of the district. Presently capacity of mobile phone connections in the district is 20,000 while BSNL authorities have issued 20,406 connections so far against the existing capacity.

Talking to reporters here on Friday, Mr Labh Singh, General Manager (GM), BSNL, Sangrur, said 18 BTS (mobile phone towers) had already been functioning in the district. He said with the installation of three new BTS the capacity of mobile phone connections would increase to 23,000 connections.

He added the BSNL authorities here had also installed 11 towers to provide wireless in local loop (WLL) connections in the district while work on remaining one WLL tower at Mehlan village was on. He said the WLL service in Sangrur district would start its functioning by December this year.

He disclosed that popularity of post-paid mobile phone connections was decreasing. He said in April this year, out of total 14181 BSNL mobile phone connections there were 3541 post-paid, while in the end of August the number of post-paid connections was just 2716, out of total 20,406 connections. He said this tendency might be due to fixed charges policy in the post-paid scheme. The General Manager also stated that in all 142 phone exchanges of the district, landline telephone connections were on demand. He said the called I.D. facility was also available at all telephone exchanges.

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