Monday, September 29, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Swami warns CM against arresting Badal
Tribune News Service

Serai Amanat Khan (Amritsar), September 28
In an open challenge to the state government, Mr I.D. Swami, Union Minister of State for Home, today declared, “Nobody can dare arrest Mr Parkash Singh Badal”.

Without mincing words, Mr Swami said the Central Government would not allow any high-handedness against its political partner, the Shiromani Akali Dal. He said if the Amarinder government arrested Mr Badal, it would lead to a direct confrontation between the state and the Central governments.

Mr Swami was talking to the Press before addressing a public rally in this border town here today. When asked about the strategy of the Centre in case Mr Badal was arrested, Mr Swami said it could not be disclosed at the moment.

When asked if a team of the NDA would visit Punjab as announced by Mr Vinod Khanna, Union Minister of State for External Affairs for gathering first-hand information about the “deteriorating” law and order situation in the state, Mr Swami said if he (Mr Khanna) had announced it, a team could pay a visit any time. On Indo-Pak relations, Mr Swami said Pakistan had not been reciprocating the gesture of India for creating a permanent thaw in the region. He did not give a positive reply on the possibility of immediate resumption of the Samjhauta Express. He said no bilateral talks could succeed without Pakistan showing sincerity.

Meanwhile, in a significant development, all Akali MLAs led by Mr Badal, will present a memorandum to the Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi on October 3. Mr Badal told the Press that the memorandum would include instances of the “high-handedness” of the Amarinder government. He said that the Political Affairs Committee of the party would decide which senior leader would lead the SAD in case he was arrested. He said he would join the Vigilance Bureau investigations within a week.

Coming down heavily on the former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, Mr Badal said all those who had helped in the election of the “Congress-backed” Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee were Congressmen. He alleged that Mr Parmjit Singh Sarna, former President of the DSGMC, was a Congressman. He said after the unity between the SAD and the SHSAD, Bhai Ranjit Singh should not have laid any pre-condition for his reinstallation as Jathedar of Akal Takht. He, however, admitted that the party had offered to him (Bhai Ranjit Singh) that he would be re-installed as Jathedar, Akal Takht, in November.

Meanwhile, Mr Chaman Lal Gupta, State Minister for Defence, said the Central Government had been receiving complaints about wrong distribution of compensation to the mine-affected farmers which would be probed. He said though the Central Government had allotted Rs 66 crore against a demand of Rs 52 crore to the mine-affected farmers, still complaints were being received. He said the Centre would further compensate the affected farmers who could not sow their next crops. Replying to a question, Mr Gupta said the Central Government was spending Rs 18,000 crore for the construction of houses for the Army personnel.


Hanspal denies rift with CM
Our Correspondent

Mansa, September 28
The future of the country is not safe in the hands of the NDA government and the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) has decided to stage protest dharnas at all district headquarters throughout the country on September 30 against the “anti-people” policies of the Union Government. This was stated by Mr, H.S. Hanspal, president, Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC), while talking to mediapersons here today.

Mr Hanspal said the communal forces in the country had raised their ugly head causing danger to the integration of the country. He said Non-Resident Indian (NRIs) were hesitant to invest in India in the absence of adequate incentives and security. The state government had sent a case to the Centre for the announcement of incentives for the NRIs to attract the maximum number of NRIs for investments in the state.

The PPCC president said there was complete harmony between him and the Chief Minister, Capt, Amarinder Singh, and all party decisions were taken mutually. He denied that he was a mere rubber stamp and that all decisions were taken by the Chief Minister.

Mr Hanspal said during the tenure of the present Congress government, 435 cases of corruption had been registered following a relentless campaign launched by the Amarinder government against corruption. He said the state government was paying special attention to redressal of public grievances and the ministers were available to the public three days a week in their offices. He said his party would come out victorious in all parliamentary seats in the state.

Mr Hanspal said to alleviate the sufferings of farmers, the state government was laying stress on the diversification of crops and contract farming. He said 1.25 lakh hectares of land had been brought under contract farming in the state. The cost of cultivation of traditional crops, wheat and paddy, was going up regularly while there was no corresponding increase in the minimum support price (MSP). Mr Hanspal urged the Union Government to announce the MSP at the time of sowing of crops and not at the time of harvesting so that farmers may take an informed decision about the sowing of the crops. He said the Punjab Government had supplied river water to Rajasthan on humanitarian grounds though Punjab had no surplus water.

He said the state government was facing a financial crunch as the previous SAD-BJP government, led by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, disbursed crores of rupees at Sangat Darshan programmes. Later Mr Hanspal addressed a public rally organised by the DCC in the old grain market here.


Kidnapping case takes new turn
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
The alleged bid to kidnap a farmer of Majhari village in Bilaspur district of Himachal Pradesh on Friday night, in which the Indica car of Mr Shashi Sharma, president of the Jalandhar unit of the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, was allegedly used, has taken a new turn with Mr Shashi Sharma claiming that his vehicle was stolen from Jalandhar on Friday afternoon and he had lodged an FIR with the local police.

Meanwhile, the Himachal Police party, which has been in the city since Saturday, has decided to investigate the case thoroughly before making any arrest, particularly in view of the claim of Mr Sharma.

Mr M. Chandra Sekhar, Bilaspur SP, clarified on the phone that Mr Sharma had not been named by the complainant, Mr Mohan Singh, an agriculturalist of Majhari village. A case of attempt to kidnap had been registered against 11 persons who had allegedly come to the village in two vehicles — a Sumo and an Indica car (PB-08-AK5690).

“Nobody has been named in the FIR,” Mr Sekhar said.

While the Indica car belonging to Mr Sharma had got stuck during the kidnapping attempt and abandoned, the alleged kidnappers had fled in the Sumo.

The incident allegedly took place on Friday night at around 10.30 p.m. The search for the car and documents found from the car revealed that it belonged to Mr Shashi Sharma. A case was registered at the Kot police station in Bilaspur district under Sections 452, 147, 149, 363, 511, 506 and 34 of the IPC.

“We have not enough grounds to arrest anybody so far. Initially, the complainant, Mohan Singh, was reluctant to get a case registered,” said Mr Sekhar, adding that Mr Sharma had produced an FIR registered at Jalandhar’s Police Division No. 3 before the investigating party headed by Mr Ghulam Mohammed, SHO, Kot, who was in Jalandhar, revealing that his car had been stolen from Shastri Nagar of Jalandhar at 3.15 p.m. on Friday afternoon.

Interestingly, though Mr Sekhar said an FIR was got registered by Mr Shashi Sharma at Division No. 3, Mr Ravinder Pal Singh Sandhu, SHO, Division No. 3, denied it. He said the residence of Shashi Sharma fell in the jurisdiction of Division No. 4 and so was Shastri Nagar locality.

Mr Shashi Sharma could not be contacted, despite efforts.


Newspaper staff demand wage board
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
The All-India Newspaper Employees Federation (AINEF) has urged the Central Government to set up a wage board for newspaper employees.

In a resolution passed on the concluding day of the Northern Regional Conference at the local Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall today, the AINEF objected to the “anti-newspaper employee” stance of the government, particularly towards the demands submitted by the federation to the employers and the government authorities.

The federation also condemned the “shameful” attitude of the Punjab Labour Department towards submissions and grievances of employees of a particular group of newspapers.

Those who participated in the meeting included Mr Balbir Singh Jandu and Mr Anil Gupta of The Tribune group of newspapers, Mr Roop Chand and Mr Hawaldar Singh, Times of India, Mr S.C. Rawat, Mr Raj Kumar and Mr C.S. Naidu, Indian Express, Chandigarh and Delhi, and Mr Rattan Chand Dogra and Mr Ram Singh. 


Bajwa announces major road projects for Punjab
Tribune News Service

SAS Nagar, September 28
The Minister for PWD (B&R) and Elections, Mr Pratap Singh Bajwa, today announced major road projects in Punjab, including conversion of 18 corridors on the state highways into toll roads and construction of 40 railway overbridges, in collaboration with the Central Government of India. Mr Bajwa was in the township to lay the foundation stone of a high-level bridge at the Chandigarh choe crossing on the Manoli- Premgarh Siou link road.

Stating that 40 railway overbridges would be constructed in two phases by the Punjab Government on an equal sharing basis with the Ministry of Railways, Mr Bajwa said 40 locations had been identified and the work would soon start on the first 20 of these bridges. ‘‘Identification has been done as part of a Ministry of Railways study to provide relief on roads where more than one lakh vehicles cross each day,’’ he pointed out.

Mr Bajwa also informed that 18 corridors on various state highways had been identified for conversion into toll roads at a cost of Rs 750 crore. The World Bank would also be providing Rs 1,800 crore for the repair and strengthening of 7500 km of state highways in the state. ‘‘Punjab is the third state after Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu to be chosen for this grant by the World Bank,’’ said Mr Bajwa.

Mr Bajwa said four laning of the Jalandhar-Amritsar road, which goes till the Wagah border, would commence by the end of this year.

The Punjab Government would undertake the construction of 3 km elevated road from GT Road in Amritsar to the entrance of the Golden Temple. ‘‘I, along with a team of engineers, will be visiting China and Malaysia for this project as Shanghai and Kuala Lampur are the only two cities where elevated roads have been constructed.’’ Mr Bajwa said, adding that a global tender for the construction of this road would be floated. ‘‘This project has been specially undertaken for next year to commemorate the 400 years of ‘parkash utsav’ of Guru Granth Sahib.’’

Accompanied by the Deputy Speaker and MLA Kharar, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Bajwa said out of the 70 km roads in Kharar, on which urgent repair was required, 35 km had been approved for immediate relaying. The work on the Banur-Kharar road would commence on October 6 at an initial cost of Rs 2.25 lakh.



MP laments deterioration in politics
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
"There is a sharp deterioration in politics. Hence, the blurring of ideological relevance in today’s politics," says Mr Ashwani Kumar, a member of the Rajya Sabha from Punjab.

Belonging to a new breed of professional-cum -intellectual politicians, Mr Ashwani Kumar is a son of Mr Parbodh Chander, a contemporary of Mr Partap Singh Kairon and a senior Congress leader not only of the Majha belt but also of unified post-Partition Punjab. Only last month, his book "Law, Ideas and Ideology : Perspectives of an Activist" was released by former President R. Venkataraman in Delhi.

He was in Chandigarh last week in connection with the golden jubilee celebrations of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha which honoured freedom fighters who had been its members or next of their kin. The Tribune interviewed him on wide-ranging issues, including degeneration in polity and the future of politics in the country in general and Punjab in particular. Here are excerpts :

Q. How do you feel on being honoured for your father’s services in the freedom struggle?

Ans. I feel honoured at remembering the services of my father in the freedom movement. It is also a reminder to me of a legacy of service which I hope to vindicate in my own political career . I am reminded of politics based on conviction sustained by sacrifice.

Q. What motivated you to join politics and what do you seek to achieve?

Ans. Actually my father was not keen that I should join politics because he believed that politics cannot become a profession. He, therefore, wanted that I should prove my professional credentials so that I would at a later stage contribute to public causes. I am fortunate that I have been able to justify my professional extensions and now duties as a Rajya Sabha member. A desire to serve the country in the best traditions of public life bequeathed to me by my father motivated me to join politics.

Q. Don’t you think that quality of politics has deteriorated?

Ans. Certainly, I agree with you. The level and quality of politics has deteriorated. That is primarily because of the pursuit of power. For most people there has been no correlation or obligation to serve and sacrifice for a cause. That is why there are no boundaries anymore in their pursuit for power.Hence, the blurring of ideaological relevance in today’s politics.

Q. Can we hope for better governance towards better quality of life of all our citizens ?

Ans. Yes, countrymen must get better governance in future which will be made possible only if civil society asserts itself and puts the requisite pressure on the political establishment to project men and women of substance, selflessness and intellectual integrity . For better governance, we will need a better polity. This is possible only if our democracy becomes a dialogue and not remain a state of perpetual and unmindful confrontation.

Today, the extent and nature of personalised campaigns of vilification that we see bode ill for our politics and governance. It is incumbent on the leadership of the ruling party to reach all concerned and ensure a healthy dialogue amongst top political leaders. Nothing will hurt a nation more than a failure to curb avoidance bitterness and mutual distrust.

Q. Don’t you feel that constructive communication has broken down among top leaders of different political parties?

Ans. It is my strong belief that gradual disinterest on the part of the intelligentsia in political activism is primarily responsible for the decline in the quality of our politics. In all democracies of the world, it is the intelligentsia that is responsible for articulating sensitivities of the people at large and it is they who have traditionally espoused national priorities and causes. At this point of time, if we are to avoid regressing further into an unending dark alley of politics we need to encourage intellectuals and thinking people to breathe a whiff of fresh air in to our political discourse. It is for this reason that the Congress chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has initiated a comprehensive programme for promoting interaction at the national level with members of the intelligentsia.

Q. How do you see chances of the Congress in the coming assembly elections?

Ans. The BJP is in for a shock . It would not surprise me at all if the Congress wins in all four states. This is because each one of us can sense a total lack of direction on the part of the BJP in charting a course that can be truly regarded as an agenda for the entire nation.

Q. How do you see your party’s future under Mrs Sonia Gandhi?

Ans. I believe that the Congress was never more democratic in its decision-making than it is today. And this is so only because Mrs Sonia Gandhi encourages and indeed facilitates the widest possible discussion on issues on which political decisions are required to be taken. She is sensitive and respectful of various views expressed and eventually takes a considered decision. I personally have no doubt that she is every bit a Prime Minister material and it goes without saying that she would be the unanimous choice for the post of Prime Minister of the Congress is in a position to provide a government at the Centre.

Q. There is a feeling that the Amarinder Singh Government in Punjab has failed to honour the promises made to the people. What do you say?

Ans. It is unfortunate that a perception has grown that the Congress Government in Punjab is not delivering on the promises of economic development of the state. Yet the fact remains that there is required honesty and strength to go ahead with the reforms in the power sector and to undertake a pro-active agenda for the state in industrialisation. The Punjab Chief Minister has done all that. But it will take some time for the effect of these changes to trickle down to the grassroots. The fight against political corruption cannot be questioned on principles. However, prosecution for corruption should not be seen as persecution of political opponents. The Congress has never believed in or condoned the conscious misuse of administrative machinery against political opponents. Capt Amarinder Singh has repeatedly stated that no foul means would be used during the course of investigations.


NRI quota similar to capitation fee, say parents
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, September 28
Parents of children who are preparing for entrance examinations in government medical colleges in the state claim that the Non-Resident Indian (NRI) quota is, in effect, capitation fee because the quota was not limited to the NRIs only.

Talking to TNS here, a few parents said most of the persons applying for the NRI seats in the three medical colleges in the state were Punjab and Indian domicile residents who were paying for the seats in Indian currency. They claimed this amounted to paying capitation fee as it had been defined as an exorbitant fee charged for the entire duration of the course.

A noted physician, Dr Harbans Bansal, said according to the prospectus of Baba Farid University which was offering NRI seats, applicants could apply for the 30 seats on offer in four categories. He said the first category was the NRIs of Punjab origin, the second foreign resident of any Indian state, the third an Indian candidate sponsored by an NRI and the fourth an Indian candidate paying in Indian currency equivalent to $ 75,000.

Dr Bansal said a recent court judgement had made it clear that no capitation fee would be charged in the field of higher education. He said in the light of this judgement, admitting students by allowing them to pay a higher fee in the name of an NRI seat was nothing but charging capitation fee. Dr Bansal said the Punjab Government was right in scrapping the NRI seats on this ground for the current session.

Meanwhile, Mr Sukhwinder Singh of Sheranwala Gate claimed that the general category students were being affected this year due to the NRI quota. He said previously the reservation was done after deducting the NRI seats and the seats marked for the All-India CBSE quota from the total seats. He said this year, however, reservation had been done on all the 350 seats and the NRI and the All-India CBSE quota was deducted from the general category seats only. He claimed this had resulted in the reduction of 30 seats in the general category in the three medical colleges in the state this year.

Other parents also claimed that contrary to expectations, the NRI seats had not helped the medical colleges in the state. They said the colleges were not allowed to deposit the money taken from the NRIs and they had not been able to get this money back from the government treasury. They said despite four years of NRI quota, the infrastructure in the government medical colleges had not improved.

The parents also urged the state government to first make a clear distinction between those who were NRIs and those who paid for these seats because they were not able to get admission in the medical colleges on merit. They said even in the current session, the government should not give admission to anyone who was not a genuine NRI.


Khanna elected Punjab BJP chief
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Adopting a far more aggressive posture than his predecessor, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, who was formally declared elected the new president of the Punjab BJP, said today the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, was following the policy of “Dhakka and Dhokha” (force and cheating). Mr Khanna, BJP MLA from Garhshankar, replaced Jat leader Brij Lal Rinwa.

Talking to mediapersons after taking over his new assignment, Mr Khanna said the Vigilance Bureau onslaught against former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal was unfortunate. The bureau had been functioning as a vengeful extension of the Congress Government.

Talking about the “much-hyped” anti-corruption drive of the Congress Government, he said people were being framed in false cases. A persual of the FIR lodged against former Akali minister, Sohan Singh Thandal, showed that a false case had been registered against him. “Congress leaders, including those who are close to the Chief Minister, are involved in scandals pertaining to recruitments and alleged favouritism in the allocation of tenders etc.

“My endeavour will be to strengthen the base of the party in the rural and urban areas. In fact, we will win all 13 Lok Sabha seats in Punjab”, the new state BJP chief said.

The term of Mr Khanna, whose “shoe polish campaign” in his constituency early this year to protest against the bad condition of roads fetched him Rs 45,000, will be for three years. This money would go to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

Besides Mr Khanna, 13 declared elected unopposed to the party’s National Council are outgoing Punjab BJP President Brij Lal Rinwa (Ferozepore), Lala Lajpat Rai (Ludhiana), Ms Gurcharan Kaur (Faridkot), Mr Balramji Das Tandon (Patiala), Mr Madan Mohan Mittal (Ropar), Mr Manoranjan Kalia (Jalandhar), Ch Swarna Ram (Phillaur-reserved), Mr Satya Pal Saini (Gurdaspur), Mr Daya Singh Sodhi (Amritsar), Bhagat Chunni Lal (Bathinda-reserved), Mr Satpal Mahajan (Tarn Taran), Principal Sita Ram Kashyap (Ropar-reserved) and Mr Harjit Singh Grewal (Sangrur).

The party also elected 14 of the 21 district party presidents. They are Col Amrik Singh (Amritsar-urban), Mr Anil Joshi (Amritsar-rural), Dr Subhash Verma (Ludhiana-urban), Dr Hansraj Sood (Ludhiana-rural), Mr Satwant Singh (Sangrur), Mr Sukhdev Singh Pharmai (Mansa), Mr Mohit Gupta (Bathinda), Mr Chamkaur Singh (Faridkot), Dr Anoop Singh Bhullar (Muktsar), Mr Mohan Lal Sethi (Moga), Mr Anil Bajaj (Patiala-urban), Mr Surinder Chindi (Batala), Mr Janak Singh Charak (Mukerian) and Mr Heera Lal Dheer (Kapurthala).

Senior BJP leader and central minister. Sanghpriya Gautam reiterated that the alliance with the Akali Dal would be strengthened.

The outgoing President, Mr Brij Lal Rinwa, read out the annual report highlighting the achievements of the party during his three-year stint.


SAD leaders to fight graft cases on their own
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, September 28
Senior leaders and former ministers of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), who were allegedly involved in various corruption cases, will fight their cases on their own in the judicial courts in the state to seek justice. They were framed in false and fabricated cases by the present regime. This was stated by Mr Gurdev Singh Badal, former Agriculture Minister and senior vice-president of the SAD, here today.

Mr Gurdev Singh reiterated the determination of the party to oust the Congress government in the state which, he said, had failed to protect the interests of the Punjabis and neglected the development of the state.


Retired teacher struggles for medical dues
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
Mr Narain Dutt a retired school lecturer of Begowal court has been running from pillar to post for the reimbursement of his medical bills for Rs 1.37 lakh for past three years.

Narrating his tale of woes, Mr Narain Dutt, said that he retired from the government senior secondary school Saleempur village in Hoshiarpur district in August 2000 and suffered a heart attack after a month of his retirement. He alleged that his reimbursement was duly sanctioned by the Director, Health and Family Welfare Punjab, but the Education Department did not release the amount to him in the past three years. “They have been so indifferent that they have not even responded to my numerous letters. My financial condition is deplorable. Where should I go now,” said Mr Dutt, showing a bundle of letters and documents.

He alleged that all his pleas to officials of the office of the District Education Officer, Hoshiarpur, had fallen on deaf ears. “All I have been doing during these years is to carry my bills and letters of sanction of re-imbursement to various offices, but to no avail. No body has given me any satisfactory reply so far. I don’t know where should I go now,” rued Mr Narain Dutt, (63).


Removal of homoeopathy Registrar sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, September 28
The Association for Scientific Research in Homoeopathy today demanded the removal of the Registrar of Council of Homoeopathic System of Medicine, Punjab, for removing nearly 5,000 registered homoeopathic medical practitioners from the register of practitioners/ maintained by the Council of Homoeopathic System of Medicine, Punjab, on the pretext that they had failed to get their registration renewed.

Talking to TNS here today, Dr A.S. Mann, Secretary of the Association for Scientific Research in Homoeopathy, said the decision had not only deprived thousands of homoeopathic doctors of practice but had also rendered them jobless.

Interestingly even a member of the Homoeopathic Council, Dr Mohinder Singh Chugh from Patiala, and many homoeopathic doctors in government service were among those whose registration with the council had been cancelled.

Dr Mann said the council authorities had taken this step in haste and without considering legal implications as a decision taken by the Homoeopathic Council and circulated to the council members on July 27 this year had not been conveyed to the practitioners either in the form of a notice in newspapers or by post individually.

As per this decision, the council had fixed Rs 500 as the fee for making an appeal on a prescribed proforma by those practitioners who had failed to get their registration renewed.

Dr Mann asked the Punjab Government to immediately remove the Registrar as he had “failed” in performing his duties by not getting the requisite notice with regard to an appeal with a fee of Rs 500 by the practitioners to save their registration which was published in newspapers.


Workers urge government to accept demands
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 28
Various worker union representatives have urged the state government to accept their long-pending demands, including the release of bonus of class III and IV employees pending for the past five years.

The Punjab Improvement Trust Workers Union president, Mr Phul Chand Gandhi, along with Mr Raman Kumar and Mr Amrik Singh, general secretary, Punjab State Electricity Board Technical Service Union, and president, Punjab Electricity Lok Nirman Workers Union, respectively, in a letter written to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister and Mr Lal Singh, Finance Minister also urged them to give 4 per cent DA instalment to class III and IV employees, besides increasing medical allowances from Rs 250 to Rs 500.

They also sought immediate withdrawal of the ban on new government recruitments.


19 more Indian youths land in Pak jails
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
As many as 19 Indian youths who were lured by “fake” travel agents have found themselves in Pakistan jails.

This was stated by Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, Vishav Bhai Mardana Yadgari Kirtan Darbar Society, in a press note.

Mr Bhullar claimed these youths wanted to reach Greece via Iran. However, they were caught by the Iran police since they did not possess the required documents. Then, they were pushed into Pakistan.


Social Security Department a shambles
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 28
The local Social Security Department is alleged to be a shambles. At least 150 applications submitted to the department about two years ago were recently reported to have been lost. Earlier, too, these applications remained completely unattended.

Expressing shock over the working of the department Mr Satya Pal Dang accused the government of ignoring its responsibilities towards the welfare of the needy especially the widowed, old age pensioners, stipends for children and physically handicapped. “Responsibility must be fixed for such negligence and action taken against those found guilty, he wrote in a letter to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

No Social Security Officer has been appointed in the department for the past three months despite having the largest number of old and widow pensioners in the state, Mr Dang said. The officer in charge of Gurdaspur district was asked to perform the task of Amritsar district also but he rarely visits the place. Thus, an Additional District Commissioner was asked to set the matters right.

However, the government chose to transfer the Additional Deputy Commissioner merely eight months later, even as this officer was investigating Rs 23 crore scandal and other mismanagements and financial bunglings brought to his notice by Mr Dang. 


NSUI gives clean chit to former Sports Director
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 28
The fact finding report of the National Students Union of India (NSUI) has given a clean chit to Dr Kawaljit Singh, a former Director sports, Guru Nanak Dev University, in a case of sexual harassment. The Director had resigned from his post in protest alleging that false allegations were levelled by the complainant.

In a press note here on Friday, Punjab president of the union, Mr Vipin Bhatti, claimed that a five-member inquiry committee of the union had found all allegations of sexual harassment by a lecturer to be false. They claimed that the allegations were found to be incorrect. Incidentally, the NSUI had supported the said lecturer when she had first levelled the charges of sexual harassment. According to activists of the union, the copy of the inquiry report had been submitted to the Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.P. Singh. The Vice-Chancellor, however, could not be contacted.


Garbage, grain dumped together
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, September 28
Heaps of grain and garbage with carcasses included rest together in the biggest grain market of this border belt here posing a health hazard.

The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has now directed the Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, to identify by November 7 the landfill sites for disposing of solid waste and explain why the provisions of the Municipal Solid Waste (Management and Handling) Rules, 2000, have not been complied with. This order has been issued on a complaint by Mr P.S. Randhawa, general secretary, Pollution Control Committee, Amritsar.

The corporation has been directed to submit the action taken report by the next hearing of the complaint on November 7. The municipal solid waste of the city is still being dumped at Mandi Bhagtanwala adjacent to the biggest grain market of the Majha belt. It is also close to a thickly populated area.

The PSHRC order says that the corporation has not even obtained the mandadory NOC (no-objection certificate) from the Punjab Pollution Control Board, for the installation of the solid-waste plant and identification of the landfill sites. It shows that the Municipal Corporation of Amritsar has been doing nothing for a proper disposal of solid waste. The dumping of carcasses near the grain can cause an epidemic, the order says.


Power to SEs to close units withdrawn
Our Correspondent

Ropar, September 28
The Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) has withdrawn the power given to the Superintendent Engineers (SEs) to order closure of small-scale industries violating pollution norms. The power had now been vested with the Chairman, PPCB, Mr K.P.S. Rana, Chairman of the PPCB, said this here today. He said this had been done after complaints of abuse of power.

The PPCB had decided to reconsider the cases of 40 shellers that had been given a no-objection certificate long time ago and were not adhering to the norms of the board.

Keeping in view the work load, another regional office of the PPCB was being set up at Ludhiana. With this, the total number of regional offices of the PPCB in Ludhiana would go up to three, Mr Rana said.

Mr K.P.S. Rana, who was on a visit to Nangal distributed cheques worth Rs 1.5 lakh as grant-in-aid to people rendered disable in agriculture operations.


Sikh conclave on Oct 25
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
Representatives of various Sikh groups today decided to convene a Sikh conclave at Amritsar on “Bandi Chorr Divas” ( October 25) to discuss the role of Akal Takht, appointment and powers of its Jathedar, issuance of hukumnamas and tradition of “Sarbat Khalsa” in contemporary times. 

They also made a fervent appeal to the SGPC to realise its responsibility on such sensitive issues concerning the Sikh diaspora.


Play highlights Partition woes
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 28
The local “Ik Jut Kala Manch” stayed “Chavian Di Rut” late last night, which left the audience in tears with life-like portrayal of bloodbath and collapse of human values during the Indo-Pakistan Partition.

Darshan Taggar, who played the role of 'Ramey', and Manikant Batish, who played the role of Dhani Ram, won applause.

The play written by Mahinder Singh Sarna was staged at the open-air theatre of the municipal Rose Garden. Mr Rajinder Mittal, a local industrialist, was the chief guest.


Maestros enthral at classical music conference
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, September 28
Classical music maestros, both vocalists and instrumentalists, mesmerised the audience today at the eighth classical music conference held in the memory of Sangeet Diwakar Master Rattan Ji Hadiabadi at Geeta Bhavan, Model Town, here. The conference was organised by Dr AK Sharma and Prof Hari Dev. Mr Parduman Singh Ravi, SDO, PSEB, Jalandhar, was the chief guest.

Eminent classical vocalists, including Bhola Ram Misra of Delhi, Master Hari Dev, Mohan Malsani, Sant Pritam Singh, JS Bawra and JS Walia, enthralled the audience with their impressive ‘khyal gayaki’. The instrumentalists, including Pt Ramakant, tabla player, Gauri, sitarist, Gurdeep Singh, flautist Shaminderpal Singh, sarangi master, entertained the audience with their masterly performances. Other performers, including Surinder Sharma, Narinder Sharma, Ram Lubhaya and Pardeep Kumar, all vocalists, Vijay Sharma, Sukhwinder Sharma and Jagjit Singh, tabla players, also entertained the audience. 


Governor to open cancer hospital

Moga, September 28
Punjab Governor Justice O.P. Verma will inaugurate a super-speciality cancer hospital at Muktsar on October 11.

Adesh Group of Institutions chairman Dr H.S. Gill said yesterday at Muktsar that Adesh Charitable Cancer Hospital, the first of its kind in the region, had been set up by Adesh Welfare Society at a cost of Rs 5.5 crore.

He said besides serving cancer patients of the Malwa region, the hospital would also serve the patients of adjoining areas of Sriganganagar in Rajasthan and Sirsa and Fatehabad areas in Haryana.

He said patients suffering from the disease would no longer be required to go to Ludhiana, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Delhi or Bikaner in Rajasthan for treatment. Dr Gill said the hospital would provide world-class treatment facilities on no-profit basis. — UNI


PNB disburses Rs 25 cr loans

Patiala, September 28
Punjab National Bank organised a retail lending function and disbursed Rs 25 crore under its various schemes at a function held here today.

The Senior Regional Manager of the bank, Mr U.K. Sharma, said the main objective of the function was to educate the customers about its various credit schemes.

He said the bank was providing many facilities, including Express Counters, Internet Banking Service, PNB Debit Card, credit card.

The bank will open a specialised branch for the quick disposal of housing loan proposals of residents of Patiala and its surrounding areas. OC


Run for heart’ rally big draw
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
Concerned at the lack of awareness about protection of heart and the increasing incidence of heart-related diseases, a large number of people from all walks of life participated in the “Run for your heart” rally organised here this morning.

Doctors, advocates, cops and even the Jalandhar Deputy Commissioner, Mr Ashok Gupta, donning colourful T-shirts with the inscription, “Save your heart”, “Avoid fats”, “Do exercise”, ran from BMC Chowk to the local BBC Heart Care Centre, which had organised the rally on the World Heart Day.

Before flagging off the rally, Mr Gupta said such ventures could create awareness about the importance of heart care among the masses. He said every citizen should resolve at the individual level that he would contribute to the development of the country by being physically fit.


536 patients examined at health camp
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, September 28
With the help of the Citizen Club, Bassi Pathana, the Fortis Heart Institute and Multi-Speciality Hospital, organised a free cardiac and multi-speciality health check-up camp at Bawa Nursing Home, Bassi Pathana, today.

Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the camp. The camp provided residents of Fatehgarh Sahib and nearby towns an opportunity to get free consultation from renowned specialists in the field of gastroenterology, pulmonology and cardiology.

Dr Virender Sarwal, consultant, cardio-vascular and thoracic surgery, Dr R.P. Singh, consultant, invasive cardiology, Dr Sudheer Saxena, consultant interventional cardiology and Dr Mounish Chabbra, consultant, gastroenterology, examined more than 536 patients at the camp and gave them free consultation. During the camp, tests like echo, ECG, blood sugar and blood grouping were done free of cost.

Speaking on the occasion Dr R.P. Singh said, “This initiative is a part of our outreach endeavour to bring quality healthcare closer to the people of Fatehgarh Sahib and emphasise on its importance.”

In his address, the Deputy Commissioner appreciated efforts of Citizen’s Club as well as the hospital. He said with the involvement of social organisations, every target could be achieved.


Temple offerings, bells, vessels stolen
Our Correspondent

Moga, September 28
People pay obeisance at religious places and make offerings to propitiate God but several cases of the theft of the offerings have been reported from religious places in this state in past months. 

On Friday some persons reportedly stole a copper vessel, two heavy bells and other goods from a temple in Nanak Nagri here. According to reports, temple in charge found these goods missing when he opened the temple in the morning. The matter has been reported to the police.


Goods worth 15 lakh destroyed
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, September 28
Wood and other goods worth Rs 15 lakh were burnt to ashes today when fire broke out at Godra Woodworks, Goindwal Sahib 24 km from here. The Goindwal police has registered a report in this connection.

Sources said fire was seen in the unit around 3 a.m. and the owner of the unit contacted the fire brigade authorities at Amritsar. Two fire engines were sent to the scene but the fire could not be brought under control. Even though a large number of people helped the fire brigade authorities. Mr Godra, owner of Godra Woodworks, said a loss of Rs 15 lakh of wood and other material had been caused by the fire.


2 pilgrims die in accident
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, September 28
Two pilgrims, including a seven-year-old boy, died on the spot while 50 pilgrims were injured when a tourist bus bound for Vaishno Devi rammed into a tree near Mangarh on the Hoshiarpur-Dasuya road, 25 km from here, early this morning. The injured were admitted to the Civil Hospital, Dasuya.

Dr Naresh Kumar of the Civil Hospital said that 44 injured had been admitted of which four had been referred to the Civil Hospital, Hoshiarpur. Those dead have been identified as bus driver Sanjiv Singh, son of Sahib Singh of Delhi and Om Singh, a 7-year-old son of Rakesh Singh Chauhan of Delhi.


PDS wheat finds way to open market
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, September 28
The Dyalpura police of this district has unearthed a major scam pertaining to the diversion of subsidised wheat meant for distribution to the poor through the public distribution system (PDS) to the open market following the arrest of three persons, including a salesman of a cooperative society in Jalal village, Bikkar Singh.

The scam pertaining to diversion and subsequent sale of subsidised wheat in the open market came into light when a police party led by Mr Des Raj, Station House Officer (SHO), Dyalpura police station, raided the premises of Alisher, a resident of Jalal, and recovered 57 bags of wheat of the PDS category from there.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ishwar Singh, SSP, said the police acted on a tip off that some disgruntled elements were selling PDS wheat in the open market and minting money.

During investigations, it was found that Bikkar Singh, after getting delivery of PDS wheat, would store it in a godown owned by Alisher instead of a godown of the cooperative society.

He would make wrong entries in the record of the society and sell the wheat in the open market at the market price through a trader identified as Raj Kumar. Mr Des Raj, SHO, said the three accused, including Bikkar Singh, Alisher and Raj Kumar, who had been arrested, had confessed to the crime. The accused had sold 80 quintals of wheat in this fashion in the open market.

The accused would get PDS category wheat at the rate of Rs 400 per quintal and sell the same at Rs 625 per quintal. A case in this connection had been registered against them under Sections 420, 406 and 34 of the IPC in the Dyalpura police station.


Virtual split in Rice Millers Association
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, September 28
The Punjab Rice Millers Association was virtually split today with Mr Brij Mohan Julka, senior association leader, forming a parallel group, the Punjab Rice Mill Welfare Association.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Julka said that he was disturbed over the activities of the leadership of the association. The latest provocation which forced him to form a separate group was his “abduction” by a faction of the association while he was on his way to Patiala from Qadian yesterday.

He alleged the association president, Mr Tarsem Saini, was behind his kidnapping. During his kidnapping, he was forced to “resign” from the association.

Mr Julka alleged that the Patiala police, under the “influence” of the rival group, had refused to register an FIR regarding his kidnapping. He said the police made the DDR only after he approached the Chief Minister’s office.

On the other hand, when contacted, Mr Tarsem Saini denied the allegations. He maintained Mr Julka was “cooking up” stories to malign him. Mr Saini said as per the wishes of common friends and office-bearers, he had agreed to meet Mr Julka in a Patiala hotel. “During the meeting, we hugged each other and I can produce photographs as proof. I wonder what forced Mr Julka to come back in the evening and get a DDR registered,” he said.


Farmers “chakka jam” tomorrow
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 28
The agitating farmers’ organisations reiterated today that farmers would block road and rail traffic throughout the state for three hours from 12 noon to 3 p.m. on September 30 in protest against the callous and apathetic attitude of the Centre and the state government towards their demands.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Prem Singh Bhangu, president of the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, said the “chakka jam” would be a warning to the state government to concede their genuine demands failing which they would resort to direct action.

The organisations which would participate in the agitation were the BKU (Ekta), the All-India Kirti Kisan Sabha, the Punjab Kisan Sabha, the Jamhoori Kisan Sabha, the Khetibari Kisan Vikas Front, the Kirti Kisan Union, the BKU-Ekta (Ugrahan) and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee. Mr Bhangu also appealed to the remaining organisations to join the struggle in the interest of the farming community.


PUDA’s refusal to accept building plans flayed
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, September 28
The Association of Practicing Civil Engineers is sore over the refusal of the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA) to accept the building plans and completion certificates of registered civil engineers with PUDA.

The engineers state that no reason has been assigned for the practice. The practice of accepting and sanctioning building plans in the state was observed till June 2002.

Mr P.S. Sandhu and Mr Ranjeev Goel, president and secretary of the association, respectively, stated in a press note that at their meeting with the Chief Administrator of PUDA and in their letters to the Chief Minister, they had said that the quality of buildings may deteriorate due to this “unwarranted” step. 


Traders decide not to pay octroi
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, September 28
The Punjab Beopar Mandal local unit has decided not to pay octroi if the Municipal Council does not withdraw decision of privatising octroi collection from October 1.

Mr Surinder Mahajan and Mr L.R. Sodhi, president and general secretary respectively of the Mandal said here yesterday that traders were in great recession and the collection of octroi if handed over to private persons, contractors would harass traders. Both demanded abolition of the octroi as promised by the Congress during Assembly elections.

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