Thursday, September 25, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



House pays homage to 7 MLAs
Tribune News Service

Govt sticks to decision

At a meeting of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha’s Business Advisory Committee today, the government stuck to its earlier decision to adjourn the House sine die tomorrow itself, after conducting government business. Given the mood of the Opposition, pandemonium can not be ruled out at the tomorrow’s session, said sources.

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha today paid homage to seven MLAs, four freedom fighters, two litterateurs, one journalist and the victims of the train accident, near Ladowal, earlier this year. Besides, obituary reference was also made to the father of minister, Avtar Henry, who died last night.

The obituary resolution was moved by Capt Amarinder Singh, who also paid tributes to the departed souls. Others who spoke were the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Mr Avinash Khanna (BJP) and Independent MLA, Sucha Singh Chottepur, besides Speaker, Kewal Krishan.

The obituary references were made to Gurmej Singh, Jagir Singh, Dr Harbhajan Singh, Master Dev Raj Singh, Roop Lal Sathi, Rattan Lal and Comrade Amar Singh (all MLAs), Lachhman Das, Kapur Singh Deosi, Paul Singh and Leela Wati Seth (all freedom fighters), Col Narinder Pal Singh and Balwant Gargi, (litterateur) S.S. Bajwa (Journalist) and Joginder Singh, father of Mr Henry.

Both Mr Badal and Capt Kanwaljit Singh opposed the motion moved by the Minister of Parliamentary Affairs Ch. Jagjit Singh, that government business be transacted on Thursday. They chided the Treasury Benches for abdicating their responsibilities being scared of facing the Opposition.

Mr Badal said one had heard of a “one-day cricket match but not of a one-day Assembly session. ‘’As MLAs, we have certain obligations to the people and to voice their grievances.

Why have even such a one-day drama, if there are no finances to hold a long session, as made out by the government? We are prepared to forego our travelling and dearness allowances to enable the session to be extended to at least one week’’.

Speaker Kewal Krishan snubbed Ch Jagjit Singh when he tried to politicise the proceedings while replying to objections raised by the Akali leaders.

Cutting him short, Dr Kewal Krishan said he had also favoured at least a one-week session though the Chief Minister wanted the House to be adjourned sine die after obituary references on the first day itself.

The Speaker regretted that though Thursday was for non-official business, no party had sent any notice by way of any resolution(s) that could be taken up. Hence the change to convert the day into one for government business.


Sangrur tops in paddy production
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 24
Sangrur district is all set to top in paddy production in the state, thanks to a bumper crop due to good and timely rains and sufficient power supply.

In the past four consecutive seasons too, the district had topped in paddy procurement, in 1999, the district had procured 17.47 lakh metric tonnes of paddy while in the year 2000 it procured 17.94 lakh metric tonnes.

Likewise, 19.61 lakh metric tonnes of paddy and 21.44 lakh metric tonnes of paddy was procured in the 2001 and 2002, respectively.

The district authorities expect the arrival of about 21.50 lakh metric tonnes of paddy during the current season. The administration has set up 253 procurement centres in the district for the purpose.

Dr Paramjit Singh Sandhu Chief Agriculture Officer, Sangrur, said here today that paddy had been sown in an area of 3,50,000 hectares in the district this year, of which 14,000 hectares had been brought under basmati as compared to 7,000 hectares last year. He said agriculture experts expected 41 quintals per hectare yield this year.

When contacted Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said in view of the bumper paddy crop, the district administration had made elaborate procurement and storage arrangements. He urged the farmers to bring clean and dry paddy to the procurement centres, so that they did not face inconvenience in selling their produce.

The Deputy Commissioner said the administration had decided to constitute “grievance redressal committees” in the grain markets. Strict action would be taken against “erring” officials, he warned.


Punjab CM approached on paddy MSP issue
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab Kisan Sabha has urged the state government to take up with the Centre the demand for raising the minimum support price (MSP) of paddy to Rs 760 per quintal.

In a letter written to the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, general secretary of the sabha, Bhupinder Samber has urged him to get all pending dues of farmers cleared. Nearly Rs 600 cr was due to the farmers from the Punjab Government and the sugar mills, he added.

The sabha also sought that the MSP of sugarcane should be increased to Rs 130 per quintal as it had not been revised for the past five years. It also demanded a higher MSP for milk and potatoes.


Farmers to get dues on time, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today reviewed arrangements made by the Department of Food, Civil Supplies and Consumer Affairs and procurement agencies to ensure smooth and quick procurement of paddy from October 1.

Addressing a high-level meeting of Commissioners and Deputy Commissioners, Capt Amarinder Singh said the state was expecting a bumper paddy crop of Rs 129 lakh metric tonnes out of which the marketable surplus was likely to be approximately Rs 125 lakh metric tonnes.

The Chief Minister said the farmers would get their dues within the stipulated period. A control-room would be set up at Chandigarh for close monitoring of the procurement process.


Court summons served on Amarinder 
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 24
It took more than an hour for two employees of the Chandigarh District Courts to serve summons on the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, in a criminal defamation case filed against him by Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Capt Amarinder Singh was served summons in his office in the Civil Secretariat this afternoon.

The employees of the court, after getting summons from the court of UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal, visited the Punjab Vidhan Sabha building to serve summons on the CM.

When they reached the Vidhan Sabha at 11.45 a.m., they were told that the session would start at 2 p.m.

Then they went to the office of the CM in the Civil Secretariat where they met the CM’s steno who informed them that the CM was not present in his office.

However, the steno rang up the Secretary to the CM and after his confirmation he accepted the summons on behalf of the Chief Minister.

Mr Mohan had ordered to serve summons on Capt Amarinder Singh either in the Vidhan Sabha or the Civil Secretariat.

Mr Badal’s counsel, Mr N.S. Minhas, confirmed that the summons had been served on Capt Amarinder Singh at 12.35 p.m.


Punjab Govt to get loan of Rs 817 crore
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 24
The Punjab Government has signed an agreement with the World Bank under which it would be given a loan of Rs 817 crore for providing drinking water in various areas of the state.

This was stated by Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health, while talking to mediapersons here today. He said earlier it was difficult to get a loan from the World Bank as the conditions laid down by it were very strict.

But when the World Bank team toured various areas of Punjab, the government was able to convince the team members for getting the loan amount released.

He said during the current financial year, 700 new water works would be set up in villages to improve water supply.

Under a central government scheme, waterworks would be set up for Dalits, who were living away from populated areas, at a cost of Rs 210 crore.

He said water level in various areas of Punjab was going down and water was even getting polluted at certain places. Water samples from such places had been collected but the results in this regard were awaited.


Teacher thrashes students
DEO to start inquiry today
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Lehra Khana (Bathinda), September 24
Amrit Pal Singh, a student of Class VIII of Government Elementary School, Lehra Khana village in the district, has been suffering from fear psychosis since he was allegedly mercilessly beaten up by a mathematics teacher, Mrs Kiran Bala, with a wooden stick on September 22 for failing to solve the questions given by her. Though he has been going to school regularly, he is afraid of attending the mathematics period, fearing that he might be beaten up again.

Rajwinder Singh, another student of Class VIII, has also been suffering from the fear psychosis as he too was beaten up by the mathematics teacher, when he had failed to solve the questions. Mrs Bala allegedly hit him on his back. He was still feeling pain in his back and a shoulder.

More than 12 students of Class VI, VII, and VIII of the school were allegedly also beaten up by Mrs Bala that day. The fault of these students, including girls, who were bruised, was that they could not solve the questions given by her. Though these students had been attending the school regularly, some of them were reluctant to talk about the thrashing by the teacher as they had allegedly been asked to keep silent.

Mr Lachhman Singh Brar, DEO (Secondary), Bathinda, said corporal punishment had been banned by the state government and was unconstitutional. He said he had come to know about the incident today and would start an inquiry into it tomorrow. If the teacher was found guilty, strict action would be taken against her, he added.

Mr Santokh Singh, father of Rajwinder Singh, alleged that the standard of imparting education in the local school was poor and when students failed to score well they were beaten up by the teacher.

Mrs Kiran Bala, while denying that she had beaten up the students, said she had only chided them so that they could perform well in the annual examination. She alleged that false allegations were being levelled against her and she had become a victim of the rivalry between two groups in the village. She said she had even told the students that she could seek transfer from the school if they did not like her way of teaching. But all students had requested her to continue teaching them, she claimed.

Meanwhile, the Lehra Khana panchayat and parents of a sanction of students, who were allegedly beaten up by Mrs Bala, today passed a resolution mentioning that the panchayat was satisfied with the functioning of the school. The panchayat also claimed that the students were not beaten up, but were only rebuked for not performing well in mathematics.

Mr Nirbah Singh, head of the school, alleged that the school was being defamed by some disgruntled elements, who had been making an issue out of a non-issue. The academic atmosphere was suffering due to anti-school activities of some persons having vested interests, he added.


Morcha trains guns on Mayawati
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 24
Concern for the health of BSP supremo Kansi Ram overshadowed the state level rally of the BSM breakaway outfit of the BSP, here today with speakers, including Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, President, Bahujan Samaj Morcha, praying for the speedy recovery of Mr Kanshi Ram.

Mr Kainth, who had floated the morcha a few years ago after severing ties with Mr Kanshi Ram, his mentor went to the extent of footing the expenses incurred on the treatment of Mr Kanshi Ram.

The speakers singled out Ms Mayawati for criticism while they praised Mr Kanshi Ram.

Addressing the well-attended rally to commemorate Pune Pact signed this day in 1932 between Mahatma Gandhi and Dr B.R. Ambedkar, Mr Kainth demanded that Dalits be granted double vote one for assembly and the other for Parliament seat and for reserved seats, the Dalits alone should vote so that their “right” representatives were elected.

This would also ensure that tension between the Dalits and others was eliminated.

Mr Kainth gave a call to the Dalits, Backward Classes, small farmer, shopkeepers and religious minorities to unite on one platform for safeguarding their rights.

Mr Kainth cautioned the Dalits against the “machinations” of Ms Mayawati who had now become BSP President. Dalits of Punjab were not henchmen of UP leaders like Ms Mayawati who wanted to remote-control them, he said.

Mr Kainth warned Ms Mayawati that Dalits were not her “captives. “Dalits are with Dr Ambedkar, not any individual”, he announced.

Mr Kainth alleged that the Amarinder Singh government had failed on all fronts. It had not kept any poll promise made with the Dalits and small farmers. However, he spared the Akalis.

He declared that the morcha would observe “Sankalp Divas” on December 6 and chalk out an action plan for Dalits participation in power and their economic emancipation.


8 more Pak boys to be freed
Romesh Gupta

Faridkot, September 24
Eight Pakistani boys who have been languishing at the juvenile jail here for the past over a year have welcomed the decision of the Indian Government to release them after getting a nod from the government of Pakistan.

Describing the initiative of the Indian Government as a goodwill gesture, they have urged Pakistan to release Indian prisoners to strengthen the ties between both countries.

They were all praise for those whom they interacted with, including the chef and a teacher who would spend hours teaching them.

They requested the heads of both countries to formulate constructive strategies and policies to meet the challenges of big powers and also to make both countries prosperous.

They appreciated the attitude of employees of the Observation Home (juvenile jail) who made efforts to meet their needs.

Talking to this reporter today, they said they were grateful to Mrs Ram Piari, a cook at the jail, for not only providing good food but also looking after them like a mother.

They also had great regard for Mr Inderjit Singh, a science teacher of the local Government Middle School, Jeewan Nagar.


PWD notice to unauthorised colonies
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
More than 25 years after slums and colonies have come up on government land, the Punjab Public Works Department (PWD) has “discovered” these unauthorised structures and served notices asking people to vacate them immediately.

The PWD has woken up from slumbers decades after slums and colonies have come up on its land in the city. According to notices served on government employees living in these colonies a few days ago, the department claims that the “illegal occupation has come to the notice of the department”.

The notices order the occupants of houses and hutments in Baba Jeewan Singh Nagar on the Passi Road, Indira Colony on Jhill road, Sanjay Colony and a colony situated in Baradari Gardens to vacate the government land immediately. The notice says in case the occupants of these illegal slums and colonies do not vacate their premises they would have to pay for the money spent in vacating them.

Sources said though the government had expressed its seriousness to tackle the issue on the illegal occupation of government land, the PWD had woken up to the menace a little late. The sources said at present the situation in all colonies was such that all inmates had taken electricity connections and had got meters installed in their homes.

Besides this, they said telephones had also been installed in these colonies and in few areas like Baba Jeewan Singh Nagar were partly also serviced by sewerage lines.

“The government has even spent money on laying brick roads”, said Devinder Singh of Baba Jeewan Singh Nagar.

Manga Singh, also of Jeewan Singh Nagar, said they had settled on government land in 1974 when encroachments around Dukhniwaran Gurdwara had been removed. He said at that time, their colony was a low-lying area adding they had invested money to build in the area. He and others claimed that mostly Scheduled Caste families lived in the area and that they had been assured many times that the area occupied by them would be registered in their name after token payment.

Though the government could take a lenient view with regard to some of the unauthorised slums and colonies, there are areas, including the unauthorised colony which has come up in Baradari Garden, which affects the upkeep of the gardens. Earlier, there were very few unauthorised houses in Baradari Gardens alongside Mall road. However, the number of houses in the area have been increasing in the last few years. This trend, the sources said, needed to be curbed.

The sources said the government was presently targeting only its employees who lived on unauthorised land but that others may also be targeted also in the near future. They said this would make the issue a political one in view of the coming Lok Sabha elections.


Historic monument in a state of neglect
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 24
Fatehgarh Sahib district has many historic monuments that stand testimony to its Afghan and Mughal links. The Mughals are still alive in magnificent architectural legacy, which they had left for the future generations. One such monument is the Aam Khas Bagh. It was built by Akbar and later developed by Jehangir and Shahjahan. As the name suggests, the garden, spread in an area of a mile and a half, was divided into two parts meant for both, the ‘aam’ (public) and ‘khas’ (rulers). Mughal Emperors used to stay here while going to and coming back from Lahore.

The royal part of the building is ‘Sheesh Mahal’ also known as Daulat-Khana-e-Khas, it is a double-storeyed building. It was built by Jehangir for his residential purpose. It is considered to be the most beautiful building of that times. Beautiful paintings and murals on its walls show the love of ‘Mughals’ for art. It is surrounded by a number of fountains and a pool, but with the passage of time all these have turned into ruins.

The other part of the building, depicting perfect architectural mind of the ‘Mughals’, is a water tank also known as Hamam, where unique hydraulic system for heating water, and hot-and-cold air-conditioning facilities were adopted.

Another monument, ‘Sarad Khana’ was also built by Jehangir in 1605. It was provided with a unique system of air-conditioning.

The Aam Khas Bagh also has a pool with ‘Mehtabi Chabutra’ in the centre. It was used for organising cultural activities, particularly for shows by female dancers and Mujra. The water for the fountains was drawn from a nearby well, known as ‘Aasmani Khooh’, and circulated through underground conduits.

The palace compound also has a set of fountains and fruit orchards that seems to have been around since the Mughal era. Rare plants of the Mughal period still exist here. The palace was a sort of summer retreat. Presently, a tourist complex ‘Maulasari’, is being run by the Punjab Tourism authorities. Though these monuments are being maintained by the Archaeological and Cultural Department of the Punjab Government, these are in a poor shape.

During the famous Jor Mela at Fatehgarh Sahib, light and sound programme regarding the history of Sirhind and the martyrdom of younger sons of Guru Gobind Singh is held here in the night.


Watchman hurt foiling theft bid
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 24
Mr Ram Bahadur, a night watchman working in the Bhatti road area of this town, was severely injured by a group of three thieves late last night after he resisted an attempt by it to loot a tyre shop.

Police sources said when the thieves were trying to break the shutter of the shop, Mr Bahadur asked them about their credentials. The thieves, who had come in a truck, bundled Mr Bahadur in it and attacked him with iron rods and sharp-edged weapons. After injuring him severely, they threw him on the Dabwali road.

The watchman was taken to hospital, where his condition was stated to be out of danger. A case in this connection had been registered in the city police station.

In another incident, a body was recovered today from the Kot Bhai distributory, passing near Goniana town, by volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa who later cremated it.


CPI leader questions SDO’s transfer
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 24
Mr Satya Pal Dang, veteran CPI leader in a letter to Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, has raised the issue of transfer of SDO Rahul Tiwari from Amritsar to Shahkot after a stay of merely two months.

He said the probable reason for this transfer was that during the panchayat elections the officer had not “succumbed to the wrong demands” of the ruling party.

He also raised the issue of transfer of ADC Neel Kanth of transfer from here to Moga after a mere eight months.

Mr Dang regretted that the ruling government was following the policies of its predecessor Akali government — of transferring officers who did not fall in line with the demands of the ruling party.

He demanded that reasons for the transfer of any officer before the minimum period should be made public. He also suggested that rules be framed regarding policies relating transfers and postings in various departments.


Sewerage project inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 24
The Municipal Corporation here today started work on laying down sewerage and water supply lines in ward number 7 with the grant of Rs 4 crore by the state government.

Local MP Preneet Kaur inaugurated the sewerage project. Addressing the gathering, Ms Preneet Kaur said the work on the overall development of all areas of the city would be completed without any delay.

She added that Rs 3.90 crore had also been granted for the repair of the roads of New Mehar Singh Colony .

Speaking on the occasion, Mayor Vishnu Sharma said that for the overall development of the city, the corporation had undertaken special programmes.

He added that the repair work of parks and tubewells of the Inder Colony and Guru Nanak Nagar had also started.

The Mayor also inaugurated a free homeopathic camp at Shiv Mandar here today.


Unemployed linemen block traffic
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 24
The Unemployed Lineman Union, whose leaders are undergoing a fast unto death, today stopped traffic on the Mall Road for a few hours in protest against the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for not recruiting them as linemen. The jam was lifted after nearly four hours.

Meanwhile, the fast by two office-bearers of the union, Kuldeep Singh and Sukhwinder Singh, entered the seventh day today.

The union members claimed that they were protesting against the PSEB because it was adopting an unfair attitude towards them. They said, according to the PSEB norms, all applicants wanted to be recruited as linemen had to first secure an electrical degree from a polytechnic college. They said following this the board inducted them for a two-year apprenticeship course. This, they said, resulted in a four-year study to become suitable for the job of a lineman.

The union said while earlier apprentices were recruited as linemen in the normal course, the PSEB had discontinued recruiting anyone after 1997. They said this had left around 5,000 persons who had done the course but were not being recruited as the board was unwilling to fill vacancies.


Vigilance officials quiz top PUDA official
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, September 24
Punjab Vigilance officials questioned the Additional Chief Administrator PUDA, Mr Yashvir Mahajan, here today in connection with a complaint regarding the renting out of a showroom in Sector 17, Chandigarh.

It is learnt that the complaint was made by Mr P.S. Aujla, the then Managing Director of the Punjab Small Industries and Export Corporation (PSIEC). It related to an earlier period when Mr Mahajan was heading the PSIEC.

Sources said during 2000, Mr Mahajan had allegedly given the showroom of the PSIEC on rent to a private party without calling for tenders as required under the rules. The department, it was claimed, would have earned lakhs of rupees more had the proper procedure been followed.

Mr Mahajan was questioned for about two hours.


Rail roko stir on September 30
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
Nine farmer organisations who have decided to organise a “rail roko” stir in Punjab on September 30, today said that they would stop rail traffic at Rajpura.

Disclosing this here today, Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta) leader Pashora Singh Sidhupur and Gurbaksh Singh Balbehra said a meeting was organised at the Nehru Park to finalise the preparations for the protest.

They said representatives of all nine organisations had attended the meeting during the course of which it was decided that workers of Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib would stop rail traffic at Rajpura. Leaders said workers from all like-minded parties had been invited to take part in the stir.


Ahluwalia assails move on Adi Granth celebrations
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, a well-known Sikh scholar and former Vice-Chancellor of Punjabi University, Patiala, today complained that the move for celebrating he fourth centenary of Sri Adi Granth had been cold shouldered by the Vajpayee government.

In a statement issued here, Dr Ahluwalia, who is also president of Sri Adi Granth Fourth Centenary Foundation, said the government had so far failed to constitute even a committee for the purpose as sought by several Punjab leaders. “Out of all central leaders, approached by the foundation, only Mrs Sonia Gandhi had responded positively to the proposal of a resolution in Parliament calling upon the peoples of the world and of India in particular to commemorate this historic event.

At least the Punjab Vidhan Sabha in its current session should adopt a resolution giving a call to the people of India for celebrating this occasion dedicated to Inter-religious Dialogue, and to Spirituality and Ecology, as being done by the Chicago-based Parliament of the World’s Religions”.


PSEB unions to hold protest march
Our Correspondent

Patiala, September 24
On the call given by the joint forum of all major trade unions of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), the Board employees from all over the state have decided to hold a protest march towards the Punjab Vidhan Sabha tomorrow.

Stating this, general secretary of Council of Junior Engineers PSEB Davinder Singh said the employees had decided to organise the protest march to oppose the Central Electricity Act 2003 and the state government move to corporatise the PSEB on the recommendations of the Haldea Committee report.

The joint forum leaders further said that though no specific model had been suggested in the Central Electricity Act 2003, the state government was bent on applying the model of unbundling and privatisation of the power Board.


’65 war martyr remembered
Our Correspondent

Abohar, September 24
Tributes were paid to Major Surender Prasad who had sacrificed his life in the Khemkaran sector in 1965. A function was held at the Samadhi Sthal, developed by the Fellows Club, here in this regard.

Mr Babu Ram Chawla, former minister, Mr Hans Raj Arya, former MLA and Mr Tulsi Ram, municipal council president, were among those who attended the function.


SDM begins probe into death of 2 schoolboys
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 24
Local SDM Pritam Singh is reported to have begun a probe into the death of two schoolboys, Mohit and Rajesh, found drowned in the historic Kaulanwala pond here on July 22.

The local Citizens Rights Forum and parents of the two schoolboys had lodged a complaint with Mr Rakesh Verma, DC, Kapurthala, alleging that the pond had been taken over by encroachers who had filled it with water. The encroachers had felled an over 100-year-old banyan tree and had installed an idol there.

The complainants maintained that if the dry pond had not been filled with seven to eight feet of water, the tragedy could have been averted.


SGPC secy fails to appear before panel
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 24
Mr Harbeant Singh, SGPC secretary, who was directed to appear before the three-member sub-committee today to prove his innocence for allegedly getting the job on the basis of a fake certificate of matriculation, pleaded that he could not depose before the sub-committee comprising Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, Mr Jagjit Singh and Mr Partap Singh, all executive members of the Shiromani committee as he had to rush to the Civil Hospital due to “critical condition”.


Avtar Henry’s father cremated
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, September 24
A large number of persons from all walks of life, including the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, attended the cremation of Baba Joginder Singh father of the Punjab Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, at his native village Bilga near here today.

Baba Joginder Singh (107) died after brief illness at a local hospital late last night the Punjab Technical Education minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, laid the wreath on behalf of the state government. Others who attended the cremation included the Punjab Youth Congress chief, Mr Davinder Singh Babbu, Mr Manoj Arora, Secretary, PPCC.


10 petitions by SGPC members allowed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab and Haryana High Court today allowed a bunch of 10 petitions filed by Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) members against the order passed by the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission restraining them from exercising their franchise during the SGPC elections held last year.

The court had earlier stayed the operation of the order and had directed that the votes polled by the members would not be counted till further orders. The members would, however, not be allowed to contest the elections.

The judges had ruled that the votes polled by the members would be kept separately in a sealed cover and would not be counted subject to further orders.

Earlier during the proceedings, counsel for the petitioners had submitted that the Judicial Commission could not pass suspension orders by way of an interim measure as there was no provision for the same under the Sikh Gurdwara Act. He also placed reliance on a judgment pronounced by the Division Bench of the High Court for substantiating his contentions.

Arguing on behalf of the commission, counsel, on the other hand, submitted that the Judicial Commission was vested with such powers and as such the petition should be dismissed.


HC orders action against guilty in ‘murder’ case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Nearly 17 months after Jharkhand resident Rakesh Mirdha, “murdered” for having an “illicit relationship” with two girls, walked into the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice Viney Mittal today directed Punjab Chief Secretary and Director- General of Police to take action against the guilty officials.

According to the first information report registered at a police station in Batala under Sections 302, 201 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code on the basis of secret information, Mirdha, working in a dera, was murdered in February 2002 by Sukhjit Singh and three others.

The prosecution had claimed that Mirdha’s body was, subsequently, packed in a gunny bag and taken to “an undisclosed place in Sukhjit Singh’s Maruti car”. Regarding the motive behind the offence, the prosecution had asserted that Mirdha had illicit relationship with two nieces of Sukhjit Singh.

Appearing before Mr Justice Virender Singh of the high court, Mirdha had earlier asked for directions to the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) to ensure his safety. After hearing Mirdha, the Judge asked Batala’s SSP to “ensure the safety of the petitioner’s life and limb as his apprehension appeared to be justified”.


Livestock census launched in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
The Punjab Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, today launched the 17th quinquennial livestock census by releasing the formats register.

The reference date for the census had been fixed as October 15. The census would consist of four parts — livestock, poultry, agricultural machinery and implements and fisheries statistics.

With a view to making the state a disease-free zone, the minister said vaccinations against foot-and-mouth disease and haemorrhagic septicemia should be provided on a war-footing. As a first step in this direction, the government would supply vaccine for the foot-and-mouth disease in nine border districts free of cost for five years continuously.

Presiding over a review meeting of the district-level animal husbandry officers, Mr Kang pointed out that the state with 4 per cent population of cattle was contributing 10 per cent milk produced in the country.


Sanjay Majithia quits as AAG
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 24
Mr Sanjay Majithia, Additional Advocate-General (AAG) of Punjab, resigned from his post today.

In a letter to Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, Mr Majithia said, “the pressure of my professional commitment in private practice desists me from continuing in office”.


Drive against spurious drugs
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 24
The district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh Medical and Sales Representatives’ Union today launched a campaign against the increasing sale of spurious and substandard drugs, and black-marketing of medicines by collecting more than 300 signatures from doctors, para-medical staff and people as part of the campaign.


Ex-SDM, 6 others booked
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 24
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today registered a case at the Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda, against Mr Baljit Singh Sandhu, former Subdivisional Magistrate, Sardulgarh, now posted as District Development and Panchayat Officer at Mansa, advocate Hardeep Singh Tony of Sardulgarh, senior assistant, Labhu Ram, clerk Ashok Kumar, both of SDM office, Sardulgarh, municipal councillor of Rampura Phul, Dharam Pal, Mohinder Singh of Bhai Roopa village and Mangat Rai of Rampura Phul in Bathinda district under various Sections of the IPC and Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988.

According to the FIR, these persons had formed a group and got the registration certificates of vehicles of persons residing outside Punjab made showing them to be residents of Sardulgarh.

They amassed huge amounts by doing so.

The Vigilance Bureau has also arrested some of the accused persons.


Rs 1.25 lakh looted from bank
Our Correspondent

Malerkotla, September 24
Three youths looted Rs 1.25 lakh on gunpoint from the State Bank of Patiala, Mohrana village branch, about 5 km from here, today.

The three youths, in the age group of 20 to 25 years, entered the bank and trained their pistols at bank officers and snatched the gun of the security guard of the bank. They took the cash and fled towards Malerkotla in their Maruti car.

According to Branch Manager Subhash Bajaj, the police has provided two security persons to the bank but after marking their attendance they disappeared from the bank in the morning.

Mr Gurbachan Singh, DSP, said strict action would be taken against the two policemen if found guilty.

A case has been registered.


Junior Engineer booked for taking bribe

Mansa, September 24
A team of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau led by Mr Vinod Kumar Chowdhary, DSP (Vigilance) today caught Baru Ram, Junior Engineer of the PSEB, while accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from a tea stall owner, Amrik Singh.

According to information, Baru Ram visited the house of Amrik Singh to check the electric meter and found some irregularities. He demanded a bribe from him to settle the matter. The complainant, however, informed officials of the Vigilance.

A case under Sections 7 and 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, has been registered. — OC


2 teachers removed from varsity gurdwara panel
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
The Punjabi University has again raised the issue of alleged sacrilege which occurred in the gurdwara in its campus during the student agitation, by removing two teachers who were functioning as President and member of its Executive Committee.

Students had raised slogans against Vice-Chancellor Swaran Singh Boparai when he was addressing them in the varsity gurdwara. The students had objected to some remarks of Mr Boparai and had later heckled him vociferously outside the gurdwara besides not letting him board his car. The varsity authorities had later accused the students of committing “sacrilege” in the gurdwara premises. A section of the press had quoted the gurdwara President and a member claiming that no sacrilege had been committed during the incident.

A meeting of the Executive Committee of the gurdwara took place at 9 pm last night during the course of which it was decided to remove the President of the Gurdwara Committee - Dr Sharan Kaur and Executive Committee Member Dr Balwinder Kaur Brar. While Dr Sharan Kaur is a teacher in the Sanskrit Department, Dr Balwinder Kaur Brar is a teacher in the Punjabi Department.

According to the varsity Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, eight of the 11 members of the Executive Committee were present at the meeting. It said the committee observed that the President and one Executive Committee member had unnecessarily raised a controversy involving the sanctity of the Gurdwara Sahib. It said this was a gross violation of the “religious responsibilities” which could not be overlooked.

The committee claimed that even though the whole of the congregation present on the occasion was witness to the sad incident but the two members had remained unconcerned throughout the happenings as well as the following meetings of the Executive Committee. It said due to this it was unanimously decided by the committee members to remove these two members from the management of the Gurdwara Committee.

Meanwhile, the sacked President, Dr Sharan Kaur, when contacted today said she had never given any statement to the affect that no sacrilege had been committed in the gurdwara. She said she had informed the committee about this fact. She said she was told about yesterday’s meeting 10 minutes before it was called and even then informed that her presence was required because the local police wanted to record a statement on the incident which had occurred in the gurdwara. The teacher said she could not attend the meeting at such a short notice.

Dr Balwinder Kaur Brar, however, struck a more discordant note, saying the university should not have raised this issue once it had arrived at an agreement with the striking students. Claiming that the varsity authorities should not raise the bogey of religion, she said raising this issue meant that it was not ready to abide with the agreement worked out by the government.

Clarifying her earlier statement on the issue, she said she was contacted by a newsman who had asked her if the “rehat maryada” of the gurdwara had been violated by the actions of the students and she had replied in the negative. She said she had, however, also disclosed that the students had resorted to indiscipline as they had tried to snatch the mike from which the Vice-Chancellor was speaking and had also raised slogans against him.


Law students on indefinite fast
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, September 24
Three students of the Department of Law of the local Punjab University Regional Centre today started indefinite fast to lodge their protest against the apathetic attitude of the Punjab University authorities towards their problems.

In a press note issued here today, students alleged that though they had taken up issue of the non-recognition of the first and third semesters of law by the Bar Council of India, lack of facilities in the campus and in hostel with the university authorities time and again, they had failed to get any positive response in this regard.

The students alleged that the university authorities failed to develop the campus despite the fact that the authorities had been charging heavy development funds from them for the past many years. They added that university authorities had also failed to post the teaching faculty in its full strength in the regional centre.

Students said they would continue their hunger strike till the Vice-Chancellor or any committee appointed by him visited the campus and help in solving their problems.


Paper outside syllabus, say PCS candidates
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 24
Candidates appearing for the Mathematics-two paper of the PCS examination which is being reconducted by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) here today complained that as much as 60 per cent of the questions were outside syllabus.

Nearly 80 to 90 persons who appeared in the examinations have represented to the PPSC Chairman in this regard. The candidates claimed that six out of the 10 questions were outside the syllabus. They said due to this most of the students had not been able to attempt more than four questions. While stating that even Ph.D students and mathematics teachers who had appeared for the re-examination had failed to attempt the questions they said the candidates should be given grace marks.


Unruly scenes mar college elections
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, September 24
The elections to the post of president of the students union of the Guru Nanak College took an ugly turn when some unscrupulous persons who had gathered outside the college fired some shots in the air which was followed by a mild cane charge by the police.

The Principal of the college, Mr M.S. Bains, called representatives of the three factions to his office on Monday to sort out the matter and to resolve the issue pertaining the election the president of the students union amicably. While the meeting was going on in the Principal’s chamber, hundreds of students owing allegiance to various factions gathered in the college campus. Some of the students entered into an argument, which ultimately led to chaos.

When some students fired couple of shots in the air, the police resorted to a lathi charge to disperse the crowd. Later, the Principal appointed two presidents, Mr Jaskaran Singh and Mr Harpreet Singh and the rest of the aspirants were accommodated in other capacities as secretary and treasurer.


Cutting tools industry needs govt help
Gurvinder Kaur

The cutting tools industry in Patiala, which once supplied equipment and machinery to nearly all industrial hubs of the country is on the brink of collapse due to the setting up of ancillary units of this nature all over the country and general recession in the industry.

The decision of the state government to establish an information technology park besides a biotechnology park here to boost industrialisation in the city has rattled many industrialists, who feel that serious thought should also be given to the setting up of a large engineering or automobile unit to help sustain the cutting tools units.

The cutting tools units of Patiala, which lately had flourishing business due to clients all over the country and very few competitors, is now facing tough competition due to the establishment of regional and localised units of the same nature. A major cause of discontent among industrialists of the region is the absence of any incentive package. It is a fact that many entrepreneurs are opting to set up their units in the neighbouring Himachal Pradesh owing to considerable incentives being offered by the state. The migration of industry from Punjab is becoming a cause of serious concern.

A memorandum was recently submitted by the Patiala Industries Association to the Chief Minister to develop Patiala as an industrial hub. It demanded amendments in the rules laid down by the Punjab State Electricity Board regarding power supply to various units and resolving of the feud between the Punjab State Industry (PSIEC) and the Municipal Corporation Patiala for the control of the focal point and industrial estate of the city.

According to the Patiala Industries Association president, Mr Naresh Goel the present limits fixed for small, medium and large supply fixed decades ago have ceased to be viable any more in the current business scenario and peak load restrictions should also be done away with at lower supply perimeters. Mr Gupta said that with the advent of new technology and automation, there is a need to review and enhance these limits urgently.

While the PSIEC controls the selling rights of the focal point, the municipal corporation is responsible for the maintenance and repair, for which it charges house tax and octroi from consumers. However, poor condition of sewerage, lighting and roads continue to dog industrialists as none tends to the maintenance of the industrial area.

Adding to their woes, the industrialists claim that the subsidy they were entitled to at the time of the setting up of their units is still pending and may remain so especially after the recent notification by the Punjab Government banning subsidies altogether.

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