Friday, September 26, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



House debate turns into personalised attack
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The much-hyped limited debate on ‘’corruption and law and order’’ in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha today ended in a whimper.

“It has yielding nothing. It was an exercise in futility,” is how the Leader of the House, Capt Amarinder Singh, summed it up after more than two hours of personalised blamegame between him and the Leader of the Opposition, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

It was Mr Badal who had moved an adjournment motion on “corruption and law and order” which was allowed by the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan. The House was allotted two hours, during which, only Mr Badal and Capt Amarinder Singh spoke. While Mr Badal was heard with rapt attention, the Akalis occasionally interrupted the Chief Minister, much to the chagrin of the Speaker.

As Mr Badal warmed up to the theme of the motion, his speech clearly acquired a personalised tone. He kept his focus on Capt Amarinder Singh and devoted a major part of his 57-minute speech to what he termed as the ‘’so-called’’ anti-corruption campaign targeting only the “Badal family and Akali ministers”, which amounted to “vindictiveness and victimisation”. He listed the “scams and scandals” that involved Capt Amarinder Singh and his circle of friends.

Capt Amarinder Singh, on his part, iterated that his only interest was to expose corruption at the top. “The innocence or guilt of the Badals and others would be decided by the court, where we will present a foolproof case against them. This is the reason why it is taking us so long to investigate”. He rubbished all allegations of Mr Badal and said he did not expect a personalised attack on him. “I had all the other facts concerning the state’s law and order situation as well as how corruption cases were being persued”, he added.

These two speeches generated much heat and little light. There were more vibes and little vision. Much of the speech by Mr Badal seemed to be based on newspaper reports and editorials. He used all adjectives and proverbs in his dictionary to launch a blitzkrierg against the Congress government in general and the Chief Minister in particular.

He made no new revelation about Capt Amarinder Singh or his colleagues and failed to substantiate his hypothesis that corruption was all pervasive in the present set up and law and order had broken down. Capt Amarinder Singh also built his counter-allegations on the known facts to mock at Mr Badal. At times, the two spoke in threatening tones and displayed abrassiveness.

If Mr Badal charged the CM with injecting virus of “political confrontation” and vitiating the atmosphere, the Chief Minister was cogent when he highlighted how he had worked through reforms to make Punjab an investor-friendly destination, develop infrastructure, diversify agriculture, resuscitate industry and recover from the financial crunch in which the Akali-BJP government had left the state.

Capt Amarinder Singh was candid enough to agree at a news conference that he had been against the holding of the session itself, as he considered it a waste of time and money. “It had to be held due to constitutional obligations,” he added.


36,053 crore debt burden on Punjab: Lal Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
There is an outstanding loan of Rs 36,053.34 crore against Punjab at present. This was disclosed today by the Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, in reply to a question by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal that was put in the Punjab Assembly.

Mr Lal Singh said that the loan amount had increased by Rs 9,023 crore in the past three years. Responding to a question by Ms Upinderjit Kaur, the Agriculture Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, said there was no proposal to make any new link road in the state during the current financial year.

In reply to another question by Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, it was revealed by the Chief Minister that 93 IAS officers and 90 IPS officers of the Punjab cadre had never served in the Centre on deputation. Mr Khushal Bahl, Education Minister, replying to a question by Mr Ganganjit Singh, said 588 posts of peon were vacant in schools. The Chief Minister, responding to a question by Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon, said 407 small and medium scale industrial units had been registered from February to August in the state. Investment by these units was worth Rs 101.1 crore.

Since May, 13 cases of dacoity and 50 cases of looting, besides 181 cases of snatching and 1,278 cases of theft, had been registered in the state. The Chief Minister said this answering a question by Mr Inder Iqbal Singh Atwal of the SAD. Regarding the filling of vacant posts in primary schools, the Education Minister, Mr Bahl, said the government had banned recruitment in the state.

The Transport Minister, Mr Tej Parkash Singh, in reply to a question by Mr Balbir Singh Miani, said 73 qualis vehicles had been provided for security to the MLAs in the state. The remaining MLAs would get their Qualis vehicles on the completion of the fixed mileage of the vehicles they were using at present.

When put a question regarding sport, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang said the state government had appointed 55 coaches. Due to a shortage of funds, only Rs 9.75 lakh and Rs 4.50 lakh had been given to Jalandhar and Amritsar districts, respectively, for the promotion of sport. Two coaches — one for handball and the other for rifle shooting — have been posted in Ferozepore district, but no funds have been allotted to Ferozepore district for sport.


CM’s offer on CBI probe
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September25
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today said that he was ready to face a CBI inquiry in case anyone made a genuine complaint against him. First in the state Assembly and later speaking to mediapersons, Capt Amarinder Singh, said that anyone could submit the complaint against him to the Speaker. “If that would be worth sending to the CBI, I would immediately forward the same to that agency for investigation”, he added.

He was responding to allegations made against him by the former Chief Minister and leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Assembly, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


State’s supplementary demands passed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The Punjab Assembly today passed the supplementary demands for grants worth Rs 623.59 crore and also the Punjab Appropriation Bill-2003 to authorise the payment and appropriation of the sum of Rs 623.59 crore from the consolidated fund for the current financial year.

The Bill was moved by Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister. It was passed after a brief debate. Taking part in the discussion, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, said the government had failed to manage its financial affairs. It had pushed the State into a dire financial crisis. He said the government had no money even to pay salaries.

Mr Lal Singh denied that any section of employees was not paid salary. He said that the previous government made the mess of the state’s finances. The present government had tried to put the economy back on the rails. The Bills regarding the salary and allowances to the Speaker, Deputy Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition were also passed. The salary of the Deputy Speaker has been enhanced from Rs 11,000 to Rs 15,000. The constituency allowance in case of the Deputy Speaker, Speaker and the Leader of the Opposition had been fixed Rs 5,000 per month on the analogy of Ministers.

Reports of 16 departments were also laid on the table in the House. As many as six Ordinances were also converted into Bills and passed by the House. The Indian Stamp Bill ( Punjab Amendment) was also passed.


78 medical officers reverted
Council may derecognise colleges
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 25
As many as 78 medical officers from medical colleges, Amritsar, and Patiala, who have not been paid salaries for the past three months following audit objections, have been reverted to their parent department, Director Health Services, Punjab, with immediate effect.

With this decision, these colleges will be hard pressed to save their recognition in case of inspection by the Medical Council of India (MCI), as a number of posts of Professors, Assistant Professors and lecturers have been lying vacant for the past many years. Many PCMS doctors, who have been working as medical officers in these medical colleges for the past five to 10 years against the vacant posts of Assistant Professors or lecturers, have been taking classes and attending emergency duties too.

However, senior officials of the department have alleged that these medical officers have been manoeuvreing their postings in the medical colleges by using their influence. The PCMS doctors claim that more than 50 per cent of their cadre is eligible for the posts of lecturers and Assistant Professors. These posts could not be filled due to reasons best known to the authorities concerned. The medical officers claim that there is no extra financial burden on the state exchequer as they are drawing salaries against the vacant posts. They also demand that the vacant posts should be filled before their reversion.

As per the orders, of the Principal Secretary, Medical Education and Research, which have been received by the Principal of the Medical College here, states that 47 medical officers from the medical college, Amritsar, and 31 from the Government Medical College, and Rajendra Hospital, Patiala, stand reverted.

The sources point out that the medical officers will be relieved immediately as per the direction of the DRME.

PATIALA: The Punjab Government has reverted 31 Punjab Civil Medical Supply (PCMS) doctors serving in the Government Medical College and Rajindra hospital in the city against sanctioned posts.

The local PCMS Association president, Dr D.S. Bhullar, said the step had been taken in extreme haste. He said the government should fill up the posts and then relieve the PCMS doctors.


DSGMC poll: Badal ‘tried to bargain’ with Bhai Ranjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 25
Bhai Ranjit Singh today claimed that Mr Parkash Singh Badal had offered to re-install him as Jathedar Akal Takht in November after annual elections of the SGPC on the condition that he (Bhai Ranjit Singh) would ask his supporters to extend support during the recently concluded elections to the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC).

However, Bhai Ranjit Singh said that he had refused to help the SAD (Badal) candidate in the DSGMC polls as the conditions under which he was removed as Jathedar were unchanged till today. He said he had told the emissaries of Mr Parkash Singh Badal that if he would be re-installed Jathedar in November, he could ask his men to vote for the SAD candidate in the same month (November). He said he was not at the mercy of Mr Badal and wanted to get re-installed at the behest of ‘Sikh Sangat’ which would create conditions for the same.

Bhai Ranjit Singh said that he had extended conditional support to the ‘Sarna group’ that Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna should not be re-elected president which was readily accepted. He said Mr Prehlad Singh Chandok who has been elected president of the DSGMC was a true Sikh. He said that Mr Sarna had accepted all his conditions and assured him that he would work according to his (Bhai Ranjit Singh’s) wishes.

Replying a question, Bhai Ranjit Singh said that the Akali Dal (Badal) had offered him to form the DSGMC with its support to defeat the ‘Sarna group’.

The former Jathedar denied that Mr Chandok was elected president on the support of the Congress as alleged by the SAD (Badal). He said the fact was that some of the members were ‘purchased’ by the SAD. He alleged that the SAD had sought the support the RSS which could not be tolerated. He said Giani Puran Singh who had termed Sikhs as direct descendents of ‘Luv and Kush’ continued to be head granthi of the Golden Temple. He was appointed head granthi by the SAD.


Paddy glut, but farmers don’t have much to cheer about
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Khanna, September 25
Cloudy weather, distress sale, absence of official procurement agencies from the market and illegal buying of paddy at certain places have robbed farmers of moments of joy. They seem to be satisfied with the yield of paddy in the countryside.

Cloudy weather has impeded the harvesting operations. The level of moisture is high. The soil’s surface is wet because of good rainfall almost all over the state in recent days. It makes the operation of harvest combines in the fields difficult. Most farmers have to engage manual labour, which is a costly affair.

A harvest combine owner takes Rs 450 per acre to harvest paddy while manual labour takes Rs 1,300. The fear of weather turning inclement has forced farmers to intensify manual harvesting. “If clouds disappear, we can wait for some more days to harvest paddy. With clouds in the sky, we have become bit panicky to harvest the crop”, says Mr Balwant Singh of Aur village, near Nawanshahr.

Though the Union Government has fixed Rs 580 per quintal as the minimum support price of grade A paddy, in the local market, known to be the biggest foodgrain market in Asia, the paddy is fetching a price varying from Rs 480 to Rs 575 per quintal. As government agencies have not entered the market, private traders and owners of rice shellers have been buying most of the stock. Official procurement of paddy will start on October 1. In the local grain market, the sale of 38,000 quintals of paddy has been recorded.

There are reports of illegal buying of paddy. According to sources, at least three commission agents-cum-sheller owners, who had allegedly resorted to illegal buying, were fined this morning . Because of illegal buying, a lot of hue and cry was raised by certain commission agents and others concerned yesterday. This led to the termination of the auction of paddy midway.

Certain commission agents apprehend that those who have resorted to illegal buying, will put the purchase of paddy in official books after October 1. It will then be shown as official procurement through procurement agencies to charge the minimum support price.

There are also reports that certain sheller owners have been fleecing farmers by resorting to cheating in the weighing of paddy. Though they offer the minimum support price to farmers, they put about two or three kg of extra paddy in a gunny bag with official approved weight of 35 kg. Farmers and certain local commission agents opposed this practice yesterday. Such purchase is also not recorded in official books.

A Tribune team, that visited various grain markets today, found that paddy had started arriving in urban grain markets. Its arrival has not started in rural markets yet. The local grain market was almost full of paddy today. At the Morinda mandi, there was not enough stock of paddy.

Farmers say the yield of paddy was in the range of 25 to 30 quintal per acre. This is the best yield in recent years, says Mr Raminder Singh of Baher village, near Morinda.


Farmers plan stir on Sept 30
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
Farmers owing allegiance to nine organisations today reiterated their call for rail and ‘rasta’ roko all over the state for three hours on September 30, in protest against the indifference of the Centre and the state government towards their genuine demands.

Talking to newsmen here today, the chairman of the joint forum, Mr Pishora Singh Sidhupur, President of the BKU (Ekta), warned the government that if their demands were not met, they would be forced to further intensify the agitation.

The President of the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, said that the September 30 agitation was to focus on the long standing demands of farmers.

The participating organisations will be BKU (Ekta), Kirti Kisan Union, All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, Punjab Kisan Sabha, Kheti Bari Kisan Vikas Front, BKU- Ekta (Ugrahan), and Kisan Sangharsh Committee. The Punjab Kisan Sabha, owing allegiance to the CPM, is also a part of the joint forum.

The major demands being highlighted through the agitation are increase in the minimum support price of paddy , clearance of sugarcane arrears, free power and water to the farming sector and waiving the loans pending against farmers.

The members condemned the statement of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, who had stated that there would be no further negotiations with the farmers since most of their major demands had been conceded . They alleged that most of the new policies were being implemented in the state under the dictates of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) despite the fact that India this time at Cancun was compelled to take a stand against rich countries along with other developing countries. This includes withdrawal of subsidies, freezing of minimum support price of agricultural produce etc.

They also opposed to the privatisation of the Punjab State Electricity Board and other public sector undertakings. Charging the government from backing out from the promises made to them in the election manifesto, the forum has demanded that free power and water should be restored, payment of Rs 30 per quintal as bonus on paddy 2001, withdrawal of 4.4 per cent sales tax on pesticides and insecticides and withdrawal of ‘abiana’ notices issued to farmers who did not even use water for irrigation purposes. While the government had assured that it would release a total of 1 lakh tubewell connections, it had so far not even released 25,000 connections, which were to be released in the first phase.

While rejecting the MSP of Rs 580 per quintal fixed by the Centre this year, they have demanded that it should be hiked to Rs 780 per quintal.


Kisan rally at Wagah border
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 25
The kisan wing of the Akali Dal (Amritsar) today announced a countrywide struggle for the economic freedom of farmers. As part of this nationwide struggle, a kisan rally will be held on September 29 at Wagah border, in which more than 5,000 farmers are expected to participate.

Talking to mediapersons at PWD Rest House here today, Mr Satnam Singh Behru, president, kisan wing of the Akali Dal (Amritsar), said after the rally, a high-level deputation of the party would submit two memorandums to the Amritsar Deputy Commissioner to forward the same to the President of India and the President of Pakistan, demanding the opening of Wagah border and Hussainiwala border for transporting the produce of the farmers through land route.

Mr Behru said besides him, many top leaders of the kisan wing and the Dal, including Mr Dhayan Singh Mand, vice-president of the party, Mr Charan Singh Lohara and Bhai Ram Singh, both general secretaries of the Dal; Mr Harminder Singh, vice-president of the kisan wing; Mr Surinder Babbi, press secretary of the Dal; and Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, district president of the Dal, would also participate in the September 29 rally.

Mr Behru said kisan wing would also organise a big kisan rally at Sangrur in December. The rally would be presided over by Mr Deve Gowda, former Prime Minister.


Chatha to head Punjab infrastructure board
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
Former Chief Secretary and Chairman of the industry revival committee Ajit Singh Chatha is all set to be named the Chairman of the Punjab Infrastructure Regulatory Authority (PIRA), a body that will approve tariff policy for private entrepreneurs who develop, operate and maintain infrastructure.

Decks for setting up PIRA were cleared after the Punjab Vidhan Sabha amended the Punjab Infrastructure (Development and Regulation) Act, 2002, on the second and last day of its two-day session here today.

Under Section 21 of the amended Act, the Punjab Infrastructure Development Board can constitute committees for carrying out the functions delegated to them, including determining the tariff policy, formula and factors to be used for the charge, recovery and appropriation of tolls or fees by private entrepreneurs who develop, operate and maintain new infrastructure projects, including roads, bridges and flyover at their own expense.

Mr Chatha, an IAS officer of the 1963 batch, retired as Chief Secretary in 1996 during the previous Congress government. When Capt Amarinder Singh took over as Chief Minister in March last year, he named him as one of his Advisers by appointing him a chairman of the industrial revival committee. The new industrial policy of the state is based on the recommendations made by the Chatha committee.

An engineer by training, Mr Chatha is expected to get his new assignment in the coming days.

In fact, practice of re-employing retired bureaucrats is nothing new to Punjab. Mr P.H. Vaishnav (Disinvestment Committee), Mr R.S. Mann (Power Regulatory Authority), Mr N.K. Arora ( Punjab State Human Rights Commission), Mr Y.S. Ratra (Punjab Electricity Board) and Mr Bhagat Singh (Backward Classes) are some of the examples.

The appointment of Mr Chatha was primarily delayed because of certain stipulations of the Act. After amendment, the time period of three months as stipulated in Section 4 to constitute the PIRA has been removed.

The state government is expected to notify the names of the Chairman and two other members of the PIRA soon. The Act stipulates that the Chairman shall be either a retired Judge of a High Court or a serving or retired officer of the rank and status of Chief Secretary of the state.

Sources reveal that the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has already cleared the name of Mr Chatha for appointment as Chairman of PIRA. It was why an ordinance about the proposed amendment was promulgated on September 11 this year. But now after the amendment approved by the State Legislature, only a formality of notifying the Authority remains.


11 booked for obtaining fake B.Ed degrees
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 25
Eleven persons who had allegedly procured fake B.Ed degrees and had been appointed as primary teachers in different schools of the district on the basis of these degrees, landed in the soup as they were booked for using fraudulent means to gain employment.

Five women also figured in the list of 11 persons who had allegedly procured B.Ed degrees from Magadh University. Services of these teachers had been terminated by the Education Department.

Those booked were Ms Amarinder Kaur, Government Primary School, Khambra West-3, Ms Inderjit Kaur, Senior Secondary School, Lambra, Ms Rajwinder Kaur, Government Primary School, Sudhar Lohian, Ms Rajni Arora, Government Primary School, Pandori Nijjharan, Ms Kulwinder Kaur, Government Primary School, Rasoolpur Brahmana, Mr Rajesh Kumar, Government Primary School, Purnian Shahkot, Mr Upinder Singh, Government Primary School, Thamanwal, Mr Ashok Pal, Government Primary School, Sunnar Goraya, Mr Balbir Dass, Government Primary School, Alampur, Mr Gurnam Singh, Government Primary School, Jania Chahal, Lohian, and Mr Rajinder Kumar, Government Primary School, Fatehpur Noormahl.

According to Ms Jatinder Kaur, District Education Officer, they had been appointed recently under a government scheme. The scheme specified that persons could be appointed as JBT teachers on a fixed monthly salary of Rs 4,550. As the Education Department authorities got suspicious about the veracity of their B.Ed degrees, a drive was launched to identify those who had got jobs on the basis of fake degrees. Investigations by the Punjab Government authorities revealed that the degrees obtained by them were fake and were not recognised by the University Grants Commission.

The police was tight-lipped on the issue and maintained that all queries would be answered by the police PRO. A case under Sections 465, 420, 468 and 120-B of the IPC was registered against the 11 persons.


Driving licence scam: ex-SDM, 7 others booked
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 25
Hundreds of persons were issued permanent driving licences for various types of vehicles by Subdivisional Magistrate of Sardulgarh (Mansa district), Baljit Singh inviolation of rules. Driving licences were issued to these persons by the District Transport Officer (DTO), Bathinda.

Not only this, Mr Baljit Singh along with other officials of his office, district transport office, stamp paper vendor, an advocate and some other people registered 2213 new vehicles in the Sardulgarh subdivision in 20 months from September 2, 2000 to April 26, 2002. In the same period, ownership of 8700 vehicles belonging to the Punjab state were transferred and the new owners were issued fresh registration certificates by the SDM, Mr Baljit Singh.

According to an FIR registered against Mr Baljit Singh, the then SDM, Sardulgarh and others by the Vigilance Bureau under various Sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act, in just 20 months, 5976 persons, who were shown as residents of Sardulgarh subdivision, were issued driving licenses by violating rules.

Mr Baljinder Singh Grewal, SSP, Vigilance Bureau, Bathinda Range, said today that record of the SDM’s office had been taken into possession to know the number of licences issued on basis of fake papers and number of stolen vehicles issued registration numbers on the basis of forged documents.

He said it was surprising a fact that a small sub division like Sardulgarh could have so many new and old vehicles of various types and how such a large number of residents of this subdivision could get driving licences of various categories in just 20 months.

He said that preliminary investigations revealed that Mr Baljit Singh and others prepared registration certificates and driving licenses by certifying wrong addresses of owners of vehicles and applicants for driving licences.

He said that a case under sections 409, 420, 464, 465, 467, 471, 477-A and 120-B of the IPC and Section 13 of the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered against Baljit Singh, Labhu Ram, Senior Assistant in SDM’s office, Ashok Kumar, clerk in transport office, Mr Madan Lal, stamp paper vendor, Hardeep Singh Toni, advocate, Mr Dharmpal Dhada and Mr Mange Rai both agents and one Mohinder Singh. 


Dhankar to conduct Punjab BJP poll
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 25
The BJP high command has appointed Mr O.P. Dhankar, National Secretary of the party, as chief election officer to conduct the election of president and other office-bearers of the Punjab unit of the party on September 28 here. Mr Sangh Priya Gautam, Minister of State in the Union Cabinet, and Mr Ram Pyare Pandey, Organising Secretary, North Zone, would be present during the election.

Besides president, 13 members of the state executive would also be elected.

Meanwhile, sources said the party high command had approved the name of Mr Avinash Rai Khanna as the next president of the BJP in the state. All groups affiliated with the BJP in the state have agreed on his name, it is learnt. Mr Pandey played a crucial role for evolving consensus on the name of Mr Khanna.

Mr Khanna’s election to the office of president on September 28 would be just a formality. Nominations would be filed on September 27. 


Damdami Taksal opposes Nanakshahi calendar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 25
The SGPC received a major setback today as Damdami Taksal chief Baba Thakur Singh criticised the ‘hasty’ implementation of the Nanakshahi calendar.

Earlier, Takht Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib had already opposed the Nanakshahi calendar.

In a fax message received here, Baba Thakur Singh said the implementation of the calendar had already created a lot of confusion in the Sikh circles. It may be recalled that the then SGPC chief, Mr Kirpal Singh Badungar, had described the implementation of the calendar as a big achievement of the Shiromani committee.

As per the Nanakshahi calendar, four anniversaries related to Sikh gurus fall on the same day. For example the death anniversary of third and fourth gurus, Guru Amar Dass and Guru Ram Dass and the gur-gaddi divas of fourth and fifth gurus fall on September 18. On October 20, the death anniversary of Guru Har Rai and the guru-gaddi divas of Guru Harkrishan and the installation of Guru Granth Sahib would be observed simultaneously.


Process for return of 8 Pak teenagers begins
Chander Parkash and Romesh Gupta

Faridkot, September 25
Countdown for sending back eight teenagers of Pakistan, detained in the observation Home (juvenile jail) here for the past one year, has begun as the criminal cases registered against them under the Passport Act at various places of Punjab have been withdrawn and the Department of Home Affairs, Punjab, informed of this action.

The Department of Home affairs, Punjab, has taken up the matter with the central government which further took up the matter with the Pakistan High Commission to know whether it wanted to accept the boys or not. “The process will be over in two days or so. Chief Minister, Punjab, Captain Amarinder Singh has been taking personal interest in the release of eight Pakistani teenagers lodged in the local juvenile jail. It is expected that all eight boys will be handed over to the Pakistani authorities at joint check-post of Indo-Pak at Wagah in three to four days,” pointed out Deputy Commissioner Hussain Lal, and added that before taking the boys to Wagah, they would be taken to Chandigarh where Captain Amarinder Singh would give them gifts as a gesture of goodwill.

He added that cases against these eight boys were pending in various courts of Faridkot, Ferozepore, Amritsar and Gurdaspur districts. All these cases have been withdrawn on the instructions of the Department of Home Affairs Punjab. Now these boys were not required in any case pending in any court of Punjab.

The eight boys, who strayed into Indian territory from Pakistan from various points in Punjab, have been waiting for their release from the observation home and handing over to the Pakistani authorities after they have come to know that the Indian government had started process for their release.

Those lodged in the observation home include Dinesh Lal, Sabar Ali, Sagar Ali, Babar Ali, Altaf Shah, Asif Amzad Khan and Nasir Ali.

The release of these eight Pakistani teenagers was taken up by the Pakistan’s Human Rights Commission, Members of Parliament (MPs) of Pakistan and some Indian dignitaries as they made an appeal to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee for the release.

The Pakistani teenagers expressed regards to science teacher, Inderjit Singh, who imparted them formal education and also moral values and Mrs Ram Piari, who looked after them like a mother and provided them food and other things daily.


Centre to set up consumer protection councils in Punjab
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 25
The Central Government has plans to set up District Consumer Protection Councils in every state and at district headquarters to enlighten consumers on their rights vis-a-vis State Consumer District Redressal Commission and District Consumers Redressal Forums in their areas in the country. The state and district council will consist of 10 members and be headed by the Minister for Food and Supply and Deputy Commissioners respectively. The protection council will meet twice a year and sent its report to the state government. The plan is to be received by the state government shortly. This was stated by Justice H.S. Brar, President, Punjab State Consumer Dispute Redressal Commission while reviewing functioning of the District Redressal Consumers Disputes Forum at the circuit house here today.

The District Redressal Consumer Forums after their formation in 1997, had settled 65392 cases against the receipt of 71264 till last July in Punjab despite lack of proper infrastructure.

The state commission has settled 9704 disputes against 12844 in the same period. To bring more efficiency a plan has been mooted out to raise the strength from one bench to three benches of the state commission besides raising the number of Consumer Forums from one to two at Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ludhiana and Patiala. The Punjab Government had been approached in this respect, said Justice Brar. Mr Brar denied political interference in the working of both district forums and the state Commissions in the state. He sought help of non government organisations and media in making people aware their rights.

Mr B.C. Gupta, president of the Forum here was also present on the occasion.

Earlier addressing members of the District Bar Association in the courts complex here Justice Brar sought their support for speeding up disposal of cases.


Workshop for police personnel
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 25
The district police organised a one-day workshop for police personnel and their families here today. It was conducted by Dr Pardeep Jain, Associate Professor and Mr Manoj Kumar Goyal, Senior Lecturer from SLIET Longowal. All gazetted officers, SHOs, I/C units and hundreds of police personnel participated in the workshop.

Dr Jain dealt with stress management, inter-personal skills and understanding of body language. Addressing the workshop, he highlighted the need for better communication skills for policemen, which would enable them to enhance their image in society. He said that just by talking in a pleasant way, they would be respected by the public as without the support of the public, nothing could be achieved. He said that there is a lot of work stress on the police and they should avoid unnecessary tensions and controversies. He also discussed various types of stress and means to manage stress.

In the second session of the workshop, family members of the policemen were also involved. It was highlighted that a happy family life for policemen was necessary as they had to face the wrath of the public and their seniors during duty time. The family members were urged to keep them happy and cooperate with them.

Mr B. Chandra Sekhar, SSP, said that the workshop had been organised to create awareness among the police about the changing trends of life and effective working. He said that more such workshops would be organised in future. Besides, computer culture in the working of the district police had been developed, he added.



Langoorwala mela from today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 25
Nine-day “Langoorwala festival”, at the Durgiana temple, begins tomorrow.

Children believed to be born after the blessings of “God Hanumana” dress as ‘langoors’, and offer prayers and seek blessings of the deity.

The temple of “Bara Hanuman Prachin Mandir” is visited every year on this occasion by people, irrespective of religion, in the Durgiana complex. Temple has a idol of Lord Hanumana in sitting position only replica of which in the world can be seen at Ayodhya Hanuman Garhi temple. The mela attracts childless couples who for a male child seek blessings of the deity at the 100-year old temple.

Legend has it that Lord Hanumana was tied to the banayan tree by Luv and Kush sons of Lord Ram. Couples tie red thread to branches of this tree even today.

Sons born after blessings of the deity dress as langoors (a species of monkeys).



Bhattal directed to appear in person
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 25
The Punjab Rural Development and Panchayat Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, was today directed to appear in person in a corruption case registered against her by a local court acting on the application moved by the complainant, Mr Balwant Singh Dhillon. Ms Bhattal has been directed to appear on October 7 by the UT Special Judge, Mr R.S Baswana.

The counsel for the complainant today submitted an order passed by the Supreme Court in connection with the case and also moved an application for summoning Ms Bhattal.

The Supreme Court had reiterated its earlier direction to the UT Special Court for the expeditious disposal of the case on September 24.

The hearing of the case had been adjourned by the UT Special Judge till further order, following the summoning of the records in the case by the apex court on September 19. Later, on September 22, the Supreme Court had ordered to send back Ms Bhattal’s case records back to the court of Mr Baswana.

The Assistant Registrar, Supreme Court, had sent a letter in this regard to the UT District and Sessions Judge, Mr H.S Bhalla, the Assistant Registrar, Punjab and Haryana High Court, and also to the UT Special Judge on September 22. The letter in this regard was received in the UT District Courts on September 24.


CM’s application dismissed
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, September 25
An application moved by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, for quashing a defamation case filed against him by Mr Sukhbir Badal, SAD general secretary, was dismissed by a court here today holding it to be premature in nature.

Counsel for Mr Sukhbir Badal raised objection over the filing of the application. Since Capt was not summoned in the case yet, he had no right to move an application, he said.

The application moved by Capt Amarinder Singh claimed that the defamation case filed against him was not maintainable and deserved to be dismissed.

Mr Sukhbir Badal appeared in the court of the UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal. After hearing both side, Mr Mohal adjourned the case till October 28.


Engineer held on bribe charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 25
An attempt by a junior engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Mr Baru Ram, to extort money from a farmer by threatering to register a power theft case against him, has landed him in the Vigilance Bureau net.

Mr Baru Ram was caught by the team of the bureau when his tout, identified as Mr Amrik Singh, a shopkeeper, was accepting a bribe of Rs 2,000 from the complainant, Mr Gopal Singh, on behalf of the junior engineer.

In a press note issued here today, the vigilance bureau said Mr Gopal Singh of Jhanduke village in Mansa district had lodged a complaint that Mr Baru Ram had been demanding a bribe of Rs 2,000 from him. Mr Gopal Singh had added that he had installed a five-horsepower tubewell motor in his fields and Mr Baru Ram had taken out the capacitor of the tubewell motor and threatened that if he did not pay Rs 4,000 as bribe, a case of power theft would be registered against him.

The complainant had alleged that Mr Baru Ram had agreed to take Rs 2,000 as bribe. A raid was conducted by the bureau team.

A case in this connection was registered and both accused were arrested.


Cop beats up LIC woman employee
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 25
A Head Constable of Punjab Police, Mr Avtar Singh, allegedly beat up a woman employee of the local office of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC), Mrs Saroj Bala, in her office today.

When some colleagues of Mrs Bala tried to save her, they were also thrashed. When policemen reached the spot after getting information about the incident and tried to overpower him, one of them was also beaten up by Mr Avtar Singh.

Around 12.30 pm, the Head Constable entered the branch office of the LIC here. While he was climbing the stairs, Mrs Bala was going towards the corridor of the first floor. Mr Avtar Singh reached the first floor and allegedly started beating up Mrs Bala without any provocation from her side.

A section of LIC employees said the district police authorities should take strict action against the Head Constable. Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said a case was being registered against the accused on the complaint by the Branch Manager of the LIC. He said Mr Avtar Singh had been rounded up.


Bank’s field officer held on graft charge
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 25
Vigilance officials led by the DSP vigilance, Mr Tersem Singh, have arrested Harvinder Singh Bajwa, field officer of Primary Agriculture Development Bank, on graft charges.

The accused was arrested red-handed in a trap laid on the complaint of Bachan Singh, a resident of Sultanpur village.

The complainant had alleged that he had applied for a loan of Rs 1.40 lakh from the bank to purchase buffaloes. The case was to be forwarded to the bank manager by the accused. The accused, however, allegedly demanded Rs 1,000 as bribe for the purpose. Bachan Singh informed vigilance officials about the demand who then laid a trap.

The field officer was arrested today while accepting a bribe of Rs 500 from the complainant. A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act has been registered against him.

Man killed in mishap

A motor cycle rider was killed when the motor cycle collided with a truck near Kali Mata temple this morning. As a result of the accident, the traffic on the Kalka-Shimla highway remained suspended for over two hours.

The truck (PB-11-N 7725) loaded with iron scrap was coming from Parwanoo when its parabolics broke near Bawali. In the meantime, the motor cycle coming from Kalka rammed into the truck. The deceased, Lalit, was married a year ago and was a resident of Kurari Mohalla here. The deceased was employed in a factory in Sector 2, Parwanoo. The driver of the truck fled the scene.



JE arrested for taking bribe
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 25
A Vigilance Bureau team headed by Mr Harbhajan Singh, Deputy Superintendent of Police, caught red-handed Mr Tarsem Lal, a Junior Engineer, of the Punjab State Electricity Board, Hariana, sub-division while he was taking Rs 700 as bribe from Vijyant Kumar of Kothe Mukadam in his office yesterday.

Mr Harbhajan Singh told mediapersons that PSEB officials checked the 3 Watt electric connection of Vijyant Kumar in August, 2003 and fined him Rs 1630. Viyant Kumar appealed against the fine and Mr Tarsem Lal, JE was asked to reexamine. During the re-check it was found that Vijyant Kumar was utilising only one watt electricity against the sanctioned load of 3 Watts. Tarsem Lal demanded Rs 1,000 from Vijyant Kumar for writing report in his favour, but he did not agree. Later the deal was fixed at Rs 700. Meanwhile, Vijyant informed the Vigilance Bureau.

The police said a case under the Prevention of Corruption Act had been registered.


4 poppy husk smugglers held
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 25
The local CIA staff has arrested four persons, Mangu Singh, Lal Singh, both of Ralli village, Jaglal Singh, alias Jugly of Dariyapur village, and Ravi Kumar of Budhlada in the Sardulgarh police station area and impounded a truck (HR46A-7777) coming from Haryana in which they were smuggling 30 bags of poppy husk worth Rs 2.1 lakh.

Mr Satish Kumar Asthana, SSP, said yesterday that a case had been registered under the NDPS Act against the accused.

Earlier also 75 bags of poppy husk were recovered by the Haryana police from members of this gang.


Deaf and dumb minor raped
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 25
A case of rape of a 12-year-old deaf and dumb girl by a migrant labourer was reported to the Dasuya police station yesterday.

According to police sources the victim’s family is into Jhingar Kalan milk selling at village. A servant of another milk seller of the same village took the girl to a field and raped her there. After the incident the servant disappeared from the village.

A woman of the girl’s family came to know of the incident and reported the matter to the police. The police has registered a case under Section 376 of the IPC.


Resignation of Provost rejected
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 25
Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai today refused to accept the resignation of Dr H.S. Bhatti from the post of Provost of the varsity.

Dr Bhatti had preferred his resignation to the Vice -Chancellor a few days back claiming that he was “pained” at the defamation campaign initiated against him by members of the Punjabi University Students Confederation. The teacher had claimed that it was difficult for him to function in such circumstances.

A varsity release here said Dr Bhatti had resigned from the post of Provost in the wake of “false allegations” of being a “silent spectator” to the incident of roughing up of girl students. It said this allegation was made through a section of the Press during the student agitation.

It said an inquiry had, however, revealed that no complaint had been filed against Dr Bhatti to the university or to any other authority. It said Dr Bhatti was taking a class in his department when the alleged incident occurred. The release said after the agreement between students and the government in the spirit of “forget and forgive”, Dr Bhatti had been advised to continue as the Provost of the university.


NIFD centre inaugurated
Our Correspondent

Barnala, September 25
Nikita Anand, Miss India Universe 2003 inaugurated a National Institute of Fashion Designing (NIFD) centre here yesterday.

Addressing the audience she said: “It is indeed very good that NIFD is providing quality education in the field of fashion and designing. As fashion has spread all over the country and opportunities available in the field are many, NIFD, by training youngsters, in this field provides various opportunities for their advancement.”

Mr Shiv Singla, centre head, NIFD, Barnala, said, “National Institute of Fashion Designing is an organised revolution to provide education to people at their doorsteps. It firmly believed that rather than a few designers exploiting the local heritage, NIFD should nurture local designers to enable them to exploit the traditional local heritage.”

Later addressing a press conference, Nikita Anand regretted that the youth of the country was falling a prey to the menace of drug-addiction. She blamed parents, who were involved with their work, for neglecting their children. She said frequent inter-action among parents and their children was a must.

Then giving details of her future plans, Nikita Anand disclosed that she would like to act in films if offered a chance. She had no plans to join politics she remarked.

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