Wednesday, September 17, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Students prevented from staging dharna
200 Punjabi University students, supporters arrested
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 16
The police administration today swung into action, arresting around 200 persons, including students and their supporters, to prevent anyone from holding a dharna in front of the Punjabi University main gate. All of them were arrested and taken to separate police stations before being released in the evening, according to a government spokesman.

The varsity had obtained a stay order from a local court to prevent anyone from holding a dharna within 50 metres of the gate. The police did not let anyone come even close to the varsity gate. While 40 students were arrested from the G T road near the varsity gate when they were moving towards the main gate while raising slogans, supporters of the students, including farmers and members of the Kisan Union, were arrested at various checkpoints outside the city.

The police put up a tight security cordon all around the city with Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal personally supervising security duties. Nakas were put up on all entry points, including at Gandakheri near Bahadurgarh on the Patiala-Rajpura road, near the byepass on the Sirhind road, near the Bhakra Canal on the Samana road and near Thapar College on the Bhadson road.

Only one group of students was able to come close to the varsity gate. These included 40 students who were arrested when they were proceeding to the varsity main gate. They were taken in a police bus to the Julkan police station. One girl was slightly injured when she was dragged into the police station after she staged a sit-in dharna outside the station. Three senior leaders of the Punjabi University Students Confederation — Kiratpreet Singh Grewal and Harmandeep Singh Gill — besides Dharminder Patran, who is state committee member of the Punjab Students Union were among the prominent student leaders who were arrested. Three girl students of the varsity were also arrested — Amandeep Kaur Aman, Prabhjot Kaur and Pawan.

A case was registered against the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) state youth wing general secretary Ranjit Singh Nikra and half a dozen others after sharp edged weapons were found in their vehicle. Other students who were arrested today from different spots, including close to the varsity, belonged to the local Physical College, Medical College and Khalsa and Mohindra Colleges. Besides this two trucks containing farmers were stopped at the Bhakra Canal on the Sangur road.

The Punjabi University Students Confederation, meanwhile, today hardened its stand by saying that now it would withdraw its agitation only if the university affected a complete roll-back in the fee hike. The varsity had through a series of steps brought the fee hike to only 6 to 7 per cent of the previous years fee in general courses. A confederation release here said mass level protests would be held on September 18 and that a group of students and their supporters would march to the residence of state Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh to seek his intervention on the issue.

The varsity authorities also stuck to their stand, saying the suspended students would have to seek an apology for their conduct before being readmitted into the varsity. Its spokesman, Dr Baldev Singh Sandhu, said the issue was not of apologising to the Vice-Chancellor but apologising for committing sacrilege in the varsity gurdwara and for their resultant “misconduct”. He said unless this was done, re-admitting the students was unthinkable. He said teaching work was conducted in the University without any hitch.

Meanwhile, SAD general secretary Prem Singh Chandumajra, who had announced that he would take part in the dharna, did not reach the site. Holding a press conference later, he said a delegation of the party would meet State Governor on September 23 under the leadership of party chief Parkash Singh Badal and apprise him of the situation on the campus.


Dayal flays arrest of students
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
Dr Joginder Dayal, secretary of the Punjab state council of the CPI, has condemned the arrest of students of Punjabi University.

According to Dr Dayal, agitating students were arrested today for organising a gate rally but were released subsequently.

In a statement issued here today, Dr Dayal criticised the police for not allowing the students to reach the university campus.

He has sought immediate intervention of the Punjab Governor, Mr O.P. Verma, who is also Chancellor of the university, to restore normalcy on the campus. Dr Dayal said the Vice-Chancellor and Pro Vice-Chancellor of the university should be removed because the situation had worsened only after confrontation between the two. He urged the government to withdraw the police from the varsity campus.


40 suspected dengue cases in Batala
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
The outbreak of dengue fever in Batala, a Punjab industrial town, has set the alarm bells ringing in the state Health Department.

According to information gathered by The Tribune, 40 suspected cases of dengue fever have been detected in the town. However, official sources admit to only about 20 cases. According to unconfirmed reports, one person has died of dengue fever in the town. Sources said one such patient had been rushed to an Amritsar hospital from Batala. He is reportedly a student of a polytechnic college.

What worries the Health Department is that dengue fever cases have been reported from various parts of the town and not from one particular area or locality. Batala is the first town from where such cases have been detected this season.

Earlier, a number of such cases were detected in Chandigarh. The coming two months are critical as most dengue fever cases are reported in October and November. Interestingly, the mosquito that is a source of dengue fever breeds on clean stagnant water and not on muddy and filthy water.

A team consisting of the Zonal Malaria Officer, entomologist-cum-parasitologist and epidemiologist has been rushed to Batala. The government has also issued a notification under the Epidemic Diseases Act for the prevention of dengue fever in other towns. The notification will remain in operation till December 31. Under the notification, the inspecting officers have been authorised to enter any premises for fever surveillance and treatment or spray. If dengue vector mosquito breeding is detected in any premises, the owner can be fined up to Rs 500 by the inspecting officer.

Messages have been flashed to the Civil Surgeons to gear up the steps to control dengue fever and launch a public awareness campaign.

Meanwhile, Mr Ashwani Sekhri, Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare, who represents Batala in the Punjab Assembly, today rushed back to his home town to ensure proper medical aid to suspected victims.

Mr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, called a meeting of senior officers of his department to deal with the situation in Batala. Mr Dogra said sufficient medicines and blood etc had been arranged to meet the situation.

The Batala Municipal Committee had been directed to ensure the removal of stagnant water from various places in the city and to ensure proper drainage. 


Sparks fly at Cong MLAs' meeting
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
Sparks flew at a meeting of the Punjab Congress Legislature Party here today with ministers and MLAs openly criticising the performance of their own government, resenting the non-availability of the Chief Minister to his own colleagues and spying on them by the state vigilance.

Some ministers even cited the instances of direct interference in the working of their departments by the vigilance.

At the other end of the spectrum were ones who form the inner circle of the Chief Minister’s kitchen Cabinet, who showered praise on Capt Amarinder Singh and listed the achievements including the tirade against corruption, putting finances back on the rails, initiating reforms, maintaining peace and law and order etc.

A resolution was later passed showering praise on the Chief Minister.

Even as certain ministers, advisers and MLAs sang paeans, the hawks did not mince words to remind the party leaders, including the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, that none of them would have been present today had men like Beant Singh had not ended terrorism. “But today we are feeling stifled within our own party with no forum for redressal of our grievances”, remarked some MLAs.

The Punjab bureaucracy was repeatedly at the receiving end at the meeting where ministers and MLAs aired their grievances that officers were unresponsive as a consequence of which there was tardy implementation of the policies. In fact development had come to a standstill, they charged.

Some ministers even pointed out that several civil and police officers, who were close to the Akali-BJP Government had been given key positions. Such officers ignored Congressmen.

Sources said there were comments even on the role of advisers to the Chief Minister and their lavish lifestyles.

In view of the nature of grievances and issues raised at the three-hour meeting, Mr Hanspal, reportedly made the participants to swear that they would not leak out the proceedings to the Press.

The meeting, said insiders, was also witness to sharp exchanges and wordy duels between Mr Hanspal, Mr Surinder Singla and Mr Bir Devinder Singh.

The participants demanded that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh should lend his ears more often to his party colleagues. The participants also expressed their concern over the slow pace of implementation of socio-economic programmes as well as development projects.

There was a suggestion at the meeting that 24-hour supply of electricity be made available to villages. So far, only 5,500 of the 12,000 villages were claimed to be getting 24-hour supply. 


Edicts by Akal Takht in one volume
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 16
Amid reports of “missing record” from the Akal Takht secretariat, the book, ‘Hukmname: Adesh Sandesh... Akal Takht’ by assistant secretary, SGPC, Roop Singh, has become a reference document. It incorporates 124 edicts (hukmnamas) issued from Akal Takht since March, 1887, and is the first book to deal exclusively with the edicts.

The book has some of the rare edicts, including the one issued from Akal Takht directing the Sikhs to be armed for the protection of the country after Independence. The edict issued in November, 1948, reads: “After breaking the shackles of slavery, our country has attained Independence. The Sikhs made supreme sacrifices for its sake. The Sikhs have to take the country to new heights.”

The edict issued on Divali by the then Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Mohan Singh Nagoke, directed the Sikh masses to pray for getting the “Hindu sisters” liberated from the newly created Pakistan.

The maximum edicts issued from Akal Takht were after Operation Bluestar (June, 1984). Akal Takht issued 14 edicts from July 5, 1984, to October 25, 1984 criticising the siege of Golden Temple and Akal Takht by the Indian Army. Giani Kirpal Singh was the Jathedar of Akal Takht at that time. Roop Singh says the first edict issued from Akal Takht was in March, 1887, when Giani Gurmukh Singh was excommunicated from the panth. However, the excommunication was rectified in mid 1890s after his death.

The author is a senior functionary of the SGPC, who has raised many issues pertaining to the institution of hukmnamas. The foreword written by eminent Sikh scholar Dr Balkar Singh says till 1876, there were no written hukmnamas. These came only after the implementation of the Sikh Gurdwara Act of 1925 which described the Jathedars as “head ministers”. “The Sikh high priests are not enjoying much autonomy, even though Akal Takht is a sovereign institution. The violations of the edicts by a section of the ‘sangat’ is a dangerous trend,” he says. For 26 years from 1948 to 1974, only one hukmnama was issued (on November 29, 1961) wherein ‘tankhah’ was pronounced on the then Akali stalwart — Master Tara Singh and Sant Fateh Singh — and members of the working committee of the Akali Dal for breaking their “fast unto death” for the sake of the Punjabi suba. After the Sikh-Nirankari clash in April, 1978, more than 100 hukmnamas were issued. While most of the edicts (30 in all) were issued after the Army operation by the then Jathedar, Giani Kirpal Singh, Bhai Ranjit Singh had issued as many as 18 edicts in his short term of 14 months. Prof Manjit Singh issued 16 edicts during his three years as acting Jathedar of Akal Takht.

The book says that there is no tradition that the Jathedars of all five Takhts would have to meet to issue edicts. However, the Akal Takht edicts could later be issued from other takhts to establish the supremacy of Akal Takht over other Takhts. The author concludes that the edicts could not be issued from any place other than Akal Takht. The edicts issued by the then Jathedar Giani Puran Singh from Guna (Maharashtra) excommunicating the then SGPC chief Bibi Jagir Kaur could not be described as ‘hukmnama’ as per the Sikh tradition.


RSS onslaught on Sikhism: Vedanti’s
intervention sought
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 16
Dr Harjinder Jakhu, national general secretary of Akali Dal (Amritsar), today sought the intervention of Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti regarding intellectual onslaught on Sikhism by the RSS and its allies.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Jakhu declared that a deputation of the party, led by Mr Rajinder Singh Fauji, member central committee of the Dal(A), would call on Jathedar Vedanti next month in this connection.

He described as political stunt the announcement of the VHP-RSS-BJP combine to start agitation for a Ram temple from October 15 in form of a rally in Delhi and a march to Ayodhya from Lucknow on October 15 and 17, respectively. After keeping the issue in the cold storage for four years for the sake of running the NDA government, the BJP, through the VHP and the RSS, was raking the issue up to gain political mileage in coming Lok Sabha poll, he alleged.


Ministers vs bureaucrats
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
Punjab proposes to transfer six departments to the Panchayati Raj institutions at a special function in Bathinda on October 3.

The government has also decided to entrust the audit of accounts of the three-tier Panchayati Raj system as well as of the Department of Urban Local Bodies to the Comptroller and Auditor-General of India (CAG), as recommended by the 11th Finance Commission.

The six departments selected for transfer are Elementary Education, Health and Family Welfare, Public Health, Social Security, Women and Child Development and Welfare of Scheduled Castes and Backward classes.

Even as the government prepares for the transfer of departments, there is despondency in the bureaucracy over the manner in which the Council of Ministers had criticised the Department of Finance for its tight-fisted policies. Even some ministers now disapprove of the way the department of finance was castrated at the last meeting of the Council of Ministers.

Some ministers confided in TNS that rather than trying to bring about order in the Department of Finance by indulging in blame-game, the effort should have been to put the finances in order, given the prevailing financial situation that has once again forced the state to go into an overdraft.

The ministerial sources also felt that the Council of Ministers should own up “moral responsibility” for its decisions instead of blaming the bureaucracy later since some of the decisions had to be rolled back. These included hike in college fee and funds, non-practising allowance (NPA) to doctors and the levy of sales tax at the rate of 50 per cent of the ordinary tax on all items sold through the CSD canteens.

The sources said the Chief Minister had now called for the factual position on commutation of pension. The council had okayed an increase in the rate of interest on commuted pension from 4.5 per cent to 8 per cent. That would have meant that the present annual outgo on pensions would have come down to Rs 120 crore from Rs 180 crore.

When some employees’ associations met the Chief Minister later, he called for the facts though a notification had already been issued, making the scheme effective from August 1.

The same kind of mud-slinging was there on the abolition of NPA to doctors. It transpires that the calculations that the state would save Rs 55 crore on NPA were based on the figure of 6,000 doctors being on the rolls.

Now on the block are the Exim forms, introduced on September 1. This decision too was taken by the Council of Ministers. Political sources say pressure is mounting to withdraw these forms, which may lead to their withdrawal.


Labour court must examine evidence before
order: HC
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
It is incumbent upon the labour court to examine the evidence led by a workman even for passing an ex-parte order, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has held in a significant judgement.

The ruling was issued on a petition filed by the state of Punjab challenging ex-parte orders passed by a labour court directing the reinstatement of a workman, Kashmir Singh. In his application, Kashmir Singh of Amritsar district had initially claimed that he was working with the “management” on monthly salary of Rs 1375 for six years, but his services were terminated on October 25, 1996, without the payment of retrenchment compensation.

Taking up his case, the labour court on August 5, 1999, had passed an ex-parte award in favour of the workman. The court had held that the order terminating Kashmir Singh was not justified. He was ordered to be reinstated with continuation of service and back wages.

Challenging the orders, the state of Punjab, on July 8, 2000, filed an application before the labour court for setting aside the ex-parte award. It was, however, dismissed by the court on July 16, 2001. Seeking directions for setting aside the two orders, counsel for the state of Punjab submitted before the High Court that the same were not sustainable in law.

After hearing the arguments in the case and going through the documents, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal, ruled: “A perusal of the award dated August 5, 1999, shows that the labour court had relied only on the oral statement made by the workman. No documentary evidence was produced by him in support of his claim.”

The Bench added: “It was incumbent upon the labour court to examine the evidence led by the workman even for passing an ex-parte order.... A mere look at the demand notice would have shown that the workman had not given any details about the nature and place of work, or the duration of employment. The subsequent order dated July 16, 2001, is also not sustainable”.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar ruled: “We are of the opinion that the state deserves to be given a chance to put forward its defence. Consequently, the writ petition is allowed. The award dated August 5, 1999, and the order dated July 16, 2001, are quashed. The matter is remanded back to the labour court for a fresh decision”.


SAD meeting put off
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
The September 19 Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Legislature Party meeting has been postponed to September 23, according to Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary of the party.

The meeting will chalk out the party’s strategy for the monsoon session due to start on September 24.


Army takes civilians' help to locate mines
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 16
The Army authorities have started taking help from civilian population in locating the missing mines which were laid down in the pockets of the Rajasthan border with Pakistan during Operation Parakarm.

Official sources said the Army authorities had taken the step to avoid casualities, which were taking place due to blast of missing mines when civilians visit their fields for tilling the same after those were handed over to them by the Army after clearing mines.

The sources added that so far about 12 civilians had died due to blasts of missing mines in Anoopgarh, Garhsana, Ramsinghpura, Nanuwala and Masitanwali sectors of the Indo-Pak border in Rajasthan. Apart from it, the Army had also suffered a few casualities while clearing the mines from fields.

In order to prevent casualities to civilians due to mines, which were yet to be located, the Army had been carrying frequent searches of the area that was mined. Apart from it, repeated ploughing of that area was being carried out for five times before handing over the same to the owners.

In a press note issued here today, the Army authorities pointed out that owners of those pieces of land which mined and later demined, were being advised regularly to resort to mechanical tilling. A poster campaign had been launched to identify the mines as the local populace had been shown the samples of missing mines.

The demining process was hazardous and strenuous due to the peculiarities of the desert terrain. Some mines that were laid had drifted away from their original location. The Army had been finding it difficult to locate the same. The Army undertook trawling of the mined areas and reproofing of demining in which majority of the unlocated mines were neutralised.

So far more than Rs 20 lakh have been paid to civil administration for distributing the same to the civilians who had suffered injuries due to mines.


Prescribe anti-TB drugs only under new guidelines
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 16
After the failure of the National Tuberculosis (TB) Control Programme started in 1962, the Punjab Government does not want to take any chances in the newly launched Revised National TB Control Programme (RNTCP) in checking the spread of TB.

The Punjab Government has recently directed all government doctors not to prescribe any anti-TB treatment other than those prescribed under the RNTCP guidelines. This has been done as reports of prescribing different kinds of treatment by government doctors in district hospitals have been received.

Mr D.S. Jaspal, Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, through a letter to the authorities concerned recently, said that the District Tuberculosis Officers (DTOs) should not be given any other work except the RNTCP and their work should not be given to anyone else.

Earlier in April 2002, the then Principal Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Punjab, Mr Rajan Kashyap, had also issued directions to the Civil Surgeons of Amritsar, Bathinda, Ludhiana, Patiala, Ropar, Fatehgarh Sahib, Sangrur, Hoshiarpur and Nawan shahr, that no duties other than the RNTCP duties should be assigned to the DTOs and the Medical Officer-TB Control (MOTC). Later the order was extended to other districts too.

Endorsing the recent instructions by Mr D.S. Jaspal, the state general secretary of the PCMSA, Dr Surinder Singla, said one of the major reasons for the failure of earlier National TB Control Programme was different kinds of treatment by the doctors.


Protest against water cess hike
Our Correspondent

Nangal, September 16
Senior citizens blocked traffic and staged a dharna outside the local Municipal Council complex in protest against the hike in water and sewerage charges here today. About 200 senior citizens raised slogans against the Punjab Government.

The municipal council authorities had, however, locked the main gate of the council denying protesters entry into the complex. The locked gate led to heated exchanges between the protesters and the gatekeeper.

The protesters later forced their entry into the council complex and entered the office of the president to submit their memorandum against the hike in water and sewerage charges.


Drama festival begins
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 16
Artistes from various parts of Punjab have appealed to the state and Central governments to form constructive policies for the youth to build the nation stronger.

They laid stress on taking stringent measures to check different types of social evils, particularly unemployment, population, illiteracy and casteism which had marred the future of the society.

While giving such message through their different one-act plays presented by them at the local Amar Ashram last evening on the inaugural day of a drama festival and on the eve of the nine-day “Aagman Purab” celebrations here of Sufi Saint Baba Sheikh Farid, the artistes reminded that the Indian youth was fully aware about its responsibilities and duties and needed proper guidelines and a helping hand for its development.

In an appeal to the politicians to shun their cheap political activities, the artistes also appealed the younger generation not to fall prey to those vested interests who were engaged in destabilising the unity, integrity, peace and communal harmony of the country.

Sending the message through one of the play “Ishaq Bajj Namaj Da Haj Nahin” written by Ajmer Singh Aulakh, artistes of the Sukhwindra Memorial Trust, Bathinda, regretted that though the country had made tremendous progress in various fields yet it still lagged behind in eradicating untouchability.

Another play “Meri Lukh Pranam Shahida Noon” written by Gurcharan Dardi and enacted by troupe of the Sabhaykala Manch, Kot Kapura, urged upon the youth to come forward for containing the menace of increasing population, unemployment and corruption which was still prevalent in the country even after more than 50 years of independence.

Two other dramas “Us Noon Kahin and “Pani Var Bane Diye Mayn” were presented by the artistes of the Satya Rangmanch, Ahemadgarh, and Panj Darya Rangmanch, Bathinda, respectively. Mr B. Sarkar, Commissioner, Faridkot division, inaugurated the drama festival. He released a guide on the programmes being held during the over week-long function in the town.


ASP to probe newsman’s frame-up

Patiala, September 16
The Patiala zone Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mr Shashi Kant, today deputed the Amloh Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), Mr D P Singh, to hold an inquiry into the picking up of a Dainik Bhaskar journalist from outside a local eatery last night on the charge of molesting a woman after a delegation of mediapersons represented that the journalist had been framed by the local police.

Mr Kant assured the mediapersons, led by Times of India representative Gurkirpal Singh Ashk and Indian Express reporter Yogindra Mohan, that a thorough inquiry would be conducted into the episode and the guilty punished accordingly.

Dainik Bhaskar reporter Gaurav Sharma, who was a part of the delegation, told the IG that he was called to the local Gopal Sweets at 8.15 p.m. by two police personnel of the Police control room (PCR) on the pretext that some disturbance had occurred there.

All mediapersons of the city held a meeting in the afternoon and condemned the incident. The Punjab Union of Journalists, to which all mediapersons are affiliated, has decided to boycott all press briefings of the police unless action is taken against the policemen and newsmen who “framed” Gaurav Sharma. 


Rehriwalas observe strike
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 16
A complete strike was observed by rehriwalas in the town today alleging that the local SDM had “misbehaved” with their district president, Mr Hari Singh, yesterday while arguing on the issue of removal of rehris from here.

A large number of rehriwalas, led by Mr Hari Singh, and Mr Ram Singh, president of the local rehri union, today also held a protest march, raising slogans against the SDM through the town. Later, they went to the office of the Deputy Commissioner and held a demonstration there.

A deputation of the rehriwalas also met the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Sarvjit Singh, in his office and submitted a memorandum to him demanding that the SDM and his gunman should apologise to the rehriwalas for the alleged “misbehaviour” with their district president.

The Deputy Commissioner assured the deputation that the matter would be resolved tomorrow.


Offer to repair samadhi of Jassa Singh Ahluwalia
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 16
Mr Shatrujit Singh, scion of the royal family of Kapurthala, has offered to bear all expenditure on the repair and maintenance of the samadhi of Sardar Jassa Singh Ahluwalia, a Sikh warrior.

The samadhi situated on the premises of Baba Atal Sahib in the Golden Temple is in a dilapidated state. The dilapidated condition of the samadhi was first highlighted by The Tribune on September 4.

“The Ahluwalias’ formidable forefathers from Kapurthala Raj Gharana need a befitting tribute to their memory” replied Mr Shatrujit on his endeavour to undertake maintenance of this heritage building at a considerable cost.

Earlier, Brig Sukhjit Singh, also scion of the Kapurthala royal family, has given Rs 50,000 to the SGPC for repairing the samadhi.


Canadian team visits Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 16
A Canadian team visited the Golden Temple to review the security for the proposed visit of the Canadian Prime Minister here on Divali on October 25.

According to information, an eight-member team including Mr H. Raj Chahal Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister of Canada, surveyed the security and the time for "parikarma” to be taken by the Prime Minister.


Concern over drug addiction
Tribune News Service

Abohar, September 16
Mr Sajjan Kumar Jakhar, vice-president Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee and a former minister has expressed serious concern over drug addiction among youths. Addressing the concluding ceremony of the traffic awareness campaign at a women’s college here, Mr Jakhar said even some students of girls’ educational institutions had become drug addicts.


Book exhibition comes to Barnala
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 16
Punjabi author Ram Sarup Ankhi inaugurated a four-day National Book Trust of India exhibition in Aggarwal Dharamshala, Barnala, on Monday.

This book exhibition has been organised to celebrate UNESCO’s decision to declare New Delhi as the book capital of the world.


High Court
Pre-arrest bail plea rejected
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
Mr Justice Viney Mittal of the High Court on Tuesday dismissed the anticipatory bail plea filed by Parminder Garcha — the son of Punjab’s former minister Jagdish Singh Garcha in an alleged cheating and corruption case.

The petitioner was apprehending arrest in a case registered under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code, besides the Prevention of Corruption Act by the Vigilance Bureau at Jalandhar. Opposing the bail plea, Deputy Advocate-General Mansoor Ali had contended that Garcha was required for custodial interrogation.

Suspension order

Issuing notice of motion, a Division Bench of the High Court on Tuesday stayed the operation of an order placing the Principal of Hoshiarpur Government College under suspension.

In her petition taken up by the Bench, headed by Mr Justice J.S. Khehar, Principal Manorma Joshi Sidhu had earlier contended that she was placed under suspension at the instance of a Punjab minister. Arguing before the court, her counsel had submitted that the Principal was initially transferred from Hoshiarpur to Jandiala even though she was at the verge of retirement. The transfer order was quashed by the High Court on July 21, counsel had added.


Nine get life term for murder

Moga, September 16
A local court has sentenced nine persons to life imprisonment for kidnapping and murdering a resident of Kapure village last year.

Jagmohan Singh Chawla, Additional Sessions Judge, yesterday convicted Pal Singh, Tejwinder Singh alias, Teja, Balbir Singh, Balwinder Singh, alias Billu, Gurdial Singh, Sukhdev Singh, alias Kaka, Joginder Singh, alias Kalu, Gurdial Singh Alias Gama and Rajwinder Singh alias Raja for kidnapping and murdering Banta Singh (60), a resident of Kapure village on the March 11, 2002 over a land dispute.

The police had challaned 10 persons for committing the murder of Banta Singh but the prosecution could establish its case against nine persons and the court acquitted the other one by giving him the benefit of the doubt. — PTI


Arhtiyas walk out of meeting on procurement
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
A meeting to review arrangements for procurement of paddy from October 1 yesterday ended with a walkout by the Arhtiyas Associations and slogans for and against Punjab Minister for Food and Supplies Avtar Henry.

The meeting was convened by the Punjab Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development and Panchayats, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Trouble started when Mr Bal Krishan Singla, representing the arhtiyas, lost his cool over the general comments made by Mr Henry, who was explaining why the weight of bag had been reduced from 95 kg to 50 kg. Some representatives of the arhtiyas said as a result of reduced weight, more space was occupied. To this, Mr Henry said care had to be taken to protect labourers and wondered if an arhtiya had ever picked up even a 50 kg bag on his back.

This infuriated Mr Singla. Taking exception to the behaviour of Mr Bal Krishan, the contract labour representatives, led by former MP Kewal Singh, raised pro-Henry slogans.

There were arguments between arhtiyas and representatives of contract labour over payment to labourers.

The meeting later constituted a committee under Ms Bhattal to oversee paddy procurement. 


5,000 farmers attend mela
Our Correspondent

Gurdaspur, September 16
More than 5,000 farmers from all over the district participated in a district-level kisan mela held here today under the aegis of the district Agriculture Department.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated and Dr Kulwant Singh, Joint Director, Agriculture, Punjab, presided over the function. Dr Kulwant Singh said the farmers would be required to lay emphasis on quality production to meet the global competition.


Two panels to review cases
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 16
In view of the spate of court cases filed by serving police officials challenging arbitrary promotions and recruitments by the outgoing Director-General of Police, Mr M.S Bhullar, the Punjab Government has constituted two committees.

Among those promoted out of turn were 400 PAP personnel, besides those in other districts. In a few other cases, double promotions were given to officials employed in Mr Bhullar’s security.

A senior official in the Home Department said one of the committees constituted under Mr D.R Bhatti, ADGP, PAP, Jalandhar, would look into the justification for these promotions. While promotions made in the case of genuine and exceptional cases would be regularised during the review process, all others would have to be reverted.

The other committee constituted under Mr Sanjiv Gupta, Inspector-General of Police (Headquarters), would review the recruitments made at various levels despite the ban on such recruitments by the Cabinet. The recruitments that could be justified to have been made on compassionate grounds or exceptional cases would be cleared while the others would have to be cancelled.

According to sources, the necessary orders in these cases would be issued following the submission of reports by the two committees soon. 


Constable dies in road mishap
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 16
Constable Amandeep Singh (28) was killed and Constable Dev Singh injured seriously when the scooter they were riding on, collided with a Jeep near the Police Lines here last night.

The injured constable has been admitted to Dayanand Medical College and Hospital at Ludhiana.

A case has been registered against the Jeep driver under Sections 304-A, 279 and 427 of the IPC.

The driver has been arrested and the Jeep impounded.


Attack on leader’s son, police station gheraoed
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 16
Irked by the armed attack on the son of a communist leader and the police “inaction” in the matter, a large number of inhabitants of Shahkot gheraoed the town police station late last night.

Protesters alleged that the police had not acted in time after Jora Singh, son of communist leader Malkit Singh, had been attacked and injured by armed men near the Shahkot Truck Union office when he was heading homeward. He was later admitted to the Shahkot civil hospital.

The police officials tried to pacify them by detaining some suspects. 


School lecturers’ dharna today
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 16
The Punjab Government School Lecturers Union has decided to stage a dharna tomorrow in front of the office of the DPI (Schools), Secondary Punjab in strong protest against the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government towards longstanding demands of the union.

Mr Hakam Singh and Norung Singh, president and general secretary, respectively, of the Sangrur district unit of the union in a joint press note said the decision had been taken to press the government to redress the grievances of government school lecturers at the earliest to create congenial academic atmosphere on school campuses.

The demands of the lecturers include grant of Rs 500 as practical allowance to science lecturers, Plus One and Plus Two classes be shifted to schools so that lecturers do not become victims of rationalisation policy for direct recruitment of the Principals teaching experience be limited to seven years, Group B norms be implemented on lecturers and parity of cadre with the headmasters be ensured.


Sale of ethanol-blended petrol decried
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 16
Accusing the major oil companies of “deceiving” consumers by selling them ethanol-blended petrol, the Punjab Petroleum Dealers Associations has decried the Ministry of Petroleum’s “arbitrary” decision to introduce ethanol-blended petrol without considering its merits and demerits.

The association said since ethanol was a byproduct of the sugar-cane waste, the decision had been taken under “pressure” from the powerful sugar lobby of the country.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr J.P. Khanna, and Mr M.S. Sehgal, president and vice-president of the association, respectively, alleged that the consumer was at the receiving end on one hand and petro dealers were suffering on the other hand as the oil companies had started “pushing” petrol with five per cent ethanol-blending, which was not approved by the Bureau of the Indian Standards, into the market quietly.


Traders’ protest today
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, September 16
A meeting of the Beopar Mandal, Fazilka, was held in Ghas Mandi on Sunday to plan the protest against leasing out of octroi on contract in Fazilka. Representatives of more than 25 traders’ organisation participated in the meeting.

Earlier, the traders had met Dr Mohinder Kumar Rinwa, MLA of Fazilka, and Parliamentary Secretary, to withdraw the decision. Dr Rinwa expressed his inability to do the same.

They decided that a complete bandh shall be observed by the traders on September 17, a day before the auction is to be held in the office of Deputy Director, Local Self Government, Ferozepore. Doctors and chemists would be exempted from the strike. Mr Ashok Kumar Gulbahar and Mr Satish Kumar Dhingra, president and secretary, respectively, of the Beopar Mandal said the traders would lay siege to the office of Deputy Director, Local Self Government, Ferozepore.

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