Friday, October 10, 2003, Chandigarh, India


P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



NHRC seeks Punjab view on Badal case
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 9
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has directed the Punjab Government to submit within three weeks its comments on former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal’s complaint about the blatant misuse of executive power by the Punjab Government and political vendetta against leaders and workers of the SAD.

After considering the 176-page petition filed by the SAD President on October 3, the commission directed that copies of the complaint be sent to the Chief Secretary and the DGP, Punjab, for examining allegations pertaining to the violation of human rights.

Last week, Mr Badal had led 45 party legislators, five MPs and his son Sukhbir Singh Badal to the NHRC Chairperson, Justice A.S. Anand’s chamber here. The petitioner and his supporters, alleged rights violation and third degree treatment meted out to political opponents by the Congress government in Punjab. SGPC President Gurcharan Singh Tohra had joined Mr Badal and lawyers to present the petition to Justice Anand.

Mr Badal told mediapersons that the party had faith in the judiciary and institutions like the NHRC.

Praying for a comprehensive probe, the petitioner party stated that Chief Minister Amarinder Singh was using the state machinery, particularly officials of the Vigilance Bureau, in his campaign to harass and intimidate the leaders and workers of the SAD.

The petition cited specific instances of alleged false implications, illegal detention, abuse and torture of Mr Badal’s close relatives and party workers.


Vigilance men prejudiced, claims Badal
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 9
Shiromani Akali Dal chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal has accused the Punjab Vigilance Bureau of dancing to the tune of Capt Amarinder Singh and the Congress with a pre-meditated agenda of hailing him and members of his family in false cases. “I have no faith in the bureau, which has pre-determined the outcome of the investigation and is highly prejudiced”, he said in an interaction here today.

Mr Badal said he was willing to face any probe by an independent agency like the Lok Pal or the high court. Accusing the Congress regime of adopting a confrontationist attitude, he said such policies could disturb the peace in the state.

The false cases being registered against Akali workers were bound to rebound on the Congress in days to come, Mr Badal said. “No one wants corruption in the state, but the ‘police raj’ will not eradicate corruption, in which no one feels safe”, he added.


Badal aide’s remand extended till today

Kharar, October 9
A local court today extended the police remand of a former sarpanch, Mr Harbans Lal, the manager at a petrol station owned by the family of former Punjab Chief Minister and SAD president Parkash Singh Badal at Mandi Killianwali in Muktsar district, till tomorrow.

The court ordered the accused to be produced in court here at 1.30 p.m. tomorrow. He was arrested on Sunday in connection with a case of amassing of disproportionate assets, corruption, cheating, forgery and criminal conspiracy registered against Mr Badal and others at SAS Nagar on June 24.

The public prosecutor sought a five-day extension in police remand for the accused on the grounds of further custodial interrogation and investigation in the case.

The prosecution submitted that during custodial interrogation, the accused had revealed that the Badal family had invested black money to the tune of Rs 2.45 crore on his name in the shape of movable and immovable assets and had admitted accepting Rs 1.41 crore as bribe from different persons for arranging them undue favours in recruitment and transfers during the Badal regime.

The prosecution contended that the accused had revealed that the Badal family had got his signatures on blank stamp papers against their black money invested on his name. Besides these stamp papers, the prosecution was yet to recover the registration certificates of vehicles possessed by the accused, income tax returns and other relevant documents. — UNI


CM’s counsel seeks exemption from appearance
Our Correspondent

Chandigarh, October 9
The Chief Minister of Punjab, Capt Amarinder Singh, did not appear in a criminal defamation case filed against him by his predecessor, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, accusing him of spreading false information about his assets and properties. While Mr Badal being complainant appeared in the court of the UT Chief Judicial Magistrate, Mr C.L. Mohal.

After hearing arguments for about an hour from both sides on the point that whether Capt Amarinder Singh would be granted exemption from personal appearance in the case or not, the CJM reserved his order for October 10.

Seeking personal exemption for the Chief Minister, his counsel, Mr R.S. Cheema, informed the court that he was out of station and preoccupied with important administrative arrangements. Mr Cheema added that, however, he was ready to appear on such dates, on which he would be specifically directed to appear.

Mr Cheema contended that in the view of provision of various sections of criminal procedure code, the court has the absolute jurisdiction to grant personnal appearance not only on the first date of hearing but during the proceedings of functions to be performed by the person summoned in the case.

Mr Cheema has brought number of judgements by different high courts and apex court to the notice of court stating that it had been laid down that the judicial discretion should be liberally exercised as the appearance is not for punishment particularly when an application is moved to that effect and a prayer is made that the person is ready to appear as and when desired by the court.

Pleading for issuance of warrants against Capt Amarinder Singh, Badal’s counsel Mr Varinder Issar, stated that law is above all, being a Chief Minister, he could not dictate his terms and for appearance in the case.

Mr Issar argued that this was for the second time when he did not appear in the court, on the other hand Mr Badal despite hectic schedule have been appearing in the case.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal moved an application alleging that during the pendency of the case, Capt Amarinder Singh had implicated him and his other family members in a false criminal cases. He also alleged that he openly interfered in the judicial process. Mr Badal requested the court to place a copy of reply filed by him to the Superintendent of Police, Vigilance Bureau, Punjab on record.


Sutlej waters test acidic
Poor maintenance may have caused dyke breach
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 9
The waters of the Sutlej in the international wetland has turned acidic due to the flow of the thermal plant fly ash into it. Five samples collected from the Sutlej by the Fisheries Department, Ropar, yesterday have indicated that the pH level of the river waters has dropped to 6 due to the large inflow of fly ash.

The Chief Executive Officer, Fisheries, Ropar, Mr S.M. Dogra, told this correspondent that a lower pH level was recorded at places where the Ghanauli drains enter the Sutlej. The lower pH level might have been caused due to the presence of a large content of fly ash in the water coming from the thermal plant. The pH level, however, normalised down the stream.

A lower pH level is an indicator of a lower dissolved oxygen level in the river waters, which is harmful to the flora and fauna of the wetland. Fish do not die immediately at the 6 pH level, but if no measures are taken, it can have an adverse affect on these gradually. A report regarding the matter had been submitted to the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Mr Dogra said.

Meanwhile, different theories are being floated by experts to explain the reasons for the breach in the dyke. Poor maintenance has been cited as the most probable cause of the breach.

Labourers working at the breach site pointed out many deep trenches in areas surrounding the breach point. They said poor maintenance of the dyke could cause further breaches.

Questions are also being raised about the design of the dykes. The dykes have been constructed using maximum fly ash. Sources said fly ash dykes were not breach resistant. Since the dykes of the Ropar thermal plant were situated near the Sutlej and the international wetland, more clay should have been used in these to increase their resistance to breaches, the expert said.

Doubts are also being raised about the quality of material used in the construction of the dykes. The stage-1 dyke that breached was repaired and raised in level in January this year.

Mr P.S. Luthra, Chief Engineer of the thermal plant, ruled out poor maintenance as the cause of the breach. About the deep trenches preliminary investigation suggests that the breach was caused due to the piping of water in the dyke bundh.

The design of the thermal plant dykes has been tested and approved by the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology, Patiala. The matter will now be referred to an expert committee to avoid such incidents in a future, he added.

The authorities of the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) are planning to tighten the noose around the thermal plant authorities. The Chairman of the PPCB, Mr K.P.S. Rana, told mediapersons here today that it was unfortunate that the Sutlej, the lifeline of Punjab, was being polluted due to the negligence of certain officials.

If the samples collected by the PPCB test negative, legal action would be initiated against the Ropar thermal plant authorities.

A programme had been chalked to clean the Sutlej, he added.


Punjab youths freed by J&K police, return home
Pawan Kumar

Mahal, October 9
After spending more than three nightmarish months in various Jammu jails, six boys of the village, three of them minors, who were picked by the Jammu and Kashmir police on suspicion of being members of “kale kachhewale” gang, returned home here last evening.

The boys include Gurjit Singh (18), Amandeep Singh (18), Surjit Singh (14), Heera Singh (17), Sonu (17), Bhallu, besides Gopal Das (35), a resident of Malout Mandi (Muktsar).

Narrating their tale of woes, Heera Singh said four of them had gone to pay obeisance at the Vaishno Devi shrine when they were picked by two policemen from Jammu. The remaining were picked up by the police from the village later while Gopal Das was picked from the Golden Temple.

Earlier one of their companions, Mohan Lal, who was also picked by the Jammu and Kashmir police from his house, was allegedly tortured to death in police custody. His body was brought to the village by the police on July 4. After a protest by the residents of the village, the Amritsar police registered a murder case against DSP Gangial of Jammu, besides 12 others.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had ordered the release of these youths after a writ petition was filed by the Punjab Human Rights Organisation, an NGO.


MLA accuses officials of causing 6-cr loss to MC
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, October 9
The functioning of the local municipal corporation (MC) has come under a cloud, with Congress MLA Raj Kumar Gupta accusing MC officials of conniving with two private telecom companies to cause a loss in revenue to the tune of Rs 6 crore by misleading the House.

Mr Gupta, who was speaking during zero hour in the House here yesterday, alleged that MC officials had allowed two major telecom companies to lay telephone cables by digging roads without paying the mandatory charges of Rs 80 per square foot.

“These companies were only charged Rs 25 per running metre, causing a loss to the tune of Rs 6 crore to the civic body. The directions of the Local Bodies Department in this regard were never placed before and approved by the House during the past one year, which was a clear attempt to mislead the house,” he said, demanding that the guilty be punished and appropriate action be taken against them.

Replying to the observations of the MLA, Mayor Surinder Mahey ordered an inquiry and assured the members that the erring officials would not be spared. “The scam will be investigated by the Commissioner and a report will be presented before the House during the next meeting,” he said, instructing the officials concerned to follow rules or face tough action.

The Leader of the Opposition in the House Kishan Dev Bhandari demanded that the Mayor convene a meeting of the House every month, as prescribed in the Punjab Municipal Corporation Act. “It is a matter of concern that MC officials have been regularly ignoring the recommendations of elected councillors pertaining to development projects and delay in holding monthly meetings has aggravated the problems as the House is the only platform to raise such issues,” he said.

Accusing MC officials of adopting different yardsticks while initiating development works, Congress leader Sardari Lal alleged that not a penny had been spent in Ward 39, his Ward, after the formation of the House last year. Upset over the questions, Mr Mahey said he would look into the matter.


Crucial SGPC meeting today
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
Apart from taking stern action against organisers of the proposed World Sikh Sammelan, being held at Chandigarh on October 26, the crucial executive meeting of the SGPC as well as the Dharam Prachar Committee of the SGPC being held at Fatehgarh Sahib tomorrow, may give call to boycott ‘Spokesman’, a monthly magazine, for allegedly indulging in blasphemous acts.

Though Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Chief Secretary, SGPC, refused to divulge the details of the proposed meeting, yet he said that editor of the magazine had openly challenged almost all age-old Sikh institutions which could not be tolerated. He said the magazine's issue of October had used derogatory language against the Sikh warriors who had made supreme sacrifices during the medieval period.

On the proposed Sikh sammelan, Mr Calcutta said that call could be given to the Sikh masses for remailing vigilant from the ‘so-called Sikh intellectuals’ who had been eroding the Sikh values at behest of certain ‘anti-Sikh’ forces. He said that it was ridiculous that the organisers of the Sikh sammelan had announced that they would hold ‘sarbat khalsa’ in Dara Studio which showed that they were totally ignorant of the Sikh values.


Rights panel comes to rescue of suspended employee
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 9
Officials of the Market Committee have been asked by the Punjab State Human Rights Commission to reply to the allegations levelled by Mr Kailash Chander Goyal, who has been reverted from the post of Superintendent twice and placed under suspension, by December 22.

Justice R.L. Anand, member, PSHRC, has said in his order, a copy of which was received here yesterday, that counsel for the respondents had prayed for time to file a report. He said the deadline for the same was December 22.

The complainant had shot off another complaint, alleging that after he was being further victimised and harassed by the respondents by way of suspension, non-payment of subsistence allowance, issuance of three charge sheets, recovery of pay allowed on revision of pay scales since 1986 and threats on the telephone by the Secretary of the Market Committee.

Accordingly, Justice Mr Anand has directed the respondents to file a reply containing comments on the fresh application also on December 22, 2003.

Mr Goyal had stated that he had filed two civil writ petitions in the Punjab and Haryana High Court also against the prejudices and illegal actions taken by the officials of the local Market Committee, even when he had been transferred to Gidderbaha and his work there was satisfactory.

The court had stayed proceedings against him, but the respondents continued to harass him.

He alleged that an attempt to implicate him in an eve-teasing case by hiring a woman at the local railway station had also been made. He and members of his family had been receiving threats on the telephone from an official to force him to reach a compromise.

He complained that despite repeated requests and directions from the court, the officials of the Market Committee had not made available copies of the record related to his reversion from office of Superintendent to Accountant and then as Mandi Supervisor.

He maintained that he was instrumental in exposing corruption and malpractices by some employees and an officer. So they were hounding him.


Pak delegation arrives
Our Correspondent

Wagah, October 9
A six-member delegation of MPs from Pakistan entered India around 3 pm here today. The delegation was headed by Choudhary Manzoor Ahmad of the Pakistan People’s Party. It would attend a two-day seminar ‘technology and poverty reduction’ at British Council in New Delhi tomorrow.

Choudhry Manzoor Ahmad, while taking to mediapersons, stressed on talks and more interaction between the people of India and Pakistan. He said that the people were being exploited by the governments of both countries for vested interests. The people of the two countries wanted peace, he asserted. Conflicts between India and Pakistan could be eliminated with mutual interaction of the people, he opined.

Mr Tariq Azim of the Pakistan Muslim League said both countries were facing the same problems of poverty and unemployment. He said delegations of politicians, trade union activists, journalists representatives of non-government organisations from both sides were visiting the two countries. He claimed that this would produce visible effects in the thinking of people of the two countries.

Others members of the delegation are Ms Fauzia Wahab, Mr Kamrunjama Kehra, Mr Julfkar Ali Goundal and Mr Mamoon Hashmi. Ms Babita Choudhry, a member of the Association of People of Asia, along with activists of the Folklore Research Academy, received the delegation.


Excise officer gheraoed
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, October 9
A large number of shopkeepers today gheraoed the Sangrur Assistant Excise and Taxation Commissioner (AETC), Mr K. B. S. Sidhu, alleging “harassment ” at the hands of the sales tax officials at Sunam, about 14 km from here.

They allegedly misbehaved with the officials. The shopkeepers downed the shutters of their shops in the main bazaar, near the post office area, in protest. The protesters raised slogans against the police and taxation authorities.

The protesters gheraoed Mr Sidhu for about two hours. Later Mr Sidhu was got freed by the police. The traders also “seized” 12 bottles of liquor from the Qualis vehicle of the Taxation Department.

A team of the Excise and Taxation Department today raided the residential premises of two traders, including M/s Goel Metal House. Later, it also raided their shops. The owner of the shop alleged that the taxation officials misbehaved with their family members. He alleged that their firm employees were harassed by the officials.

When contacted, Mr Sidhu said he had sent his teams to check Goel Metal House, which deals in utensils, and another utensils’ shop. But when the sales tax officials detected some documents in one of the shop, the traders and mob forcibly snatched the same from the officials and manhandled them.

On this he rushed to the spot, where he was gheraoed by the mob for about two hours. He said his team had detected five to six unaccounted godowns of the traders which led to the entire episode.

He said as he had no official vehicle, so he summoned a vehicle from Sherpur Naka, in which about a dozen of liquor bottles were lying and the same were “seized” by the mob. He said these bottles were perhaps seized by the Sherpur Naka party from someone.


Free for all at MC meeting
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 9
The general body meeting of the Patiala Municipal Corporation today witnessed a free for all with Councillors first freely abusing each other and then going in for a fist fight and even swinging chairs to strike at each other.

The melee resulted in a few sound blows to Councillor Sukhwinder Singh Minta whose turban fell to the ground and his kurta was also torn in the fight.

Sources said the trouble started after the entire agenda had been passed and the Mayor asked the Councillors whether they wanted to discuss any other issue. The sources said Minta got up to state that a cable company had put up around 3,000 to 4,000 poles all over the city and was not paying any revenue to the Municipal Corporation. He said earlier the cable company used to pay the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities for using its poles. He said he had raised the matter at earlier meetings also and asked Commissioner Sanjay Kumar why no notice was being taken.

Even when Mr Minta was talking, another Councillor Rupinder Tiwana interrupted him, saying he was an interested party as he was also running a cable network. Supporters of Minta got up to state that he had every right to put across his view point following which Councillors supporting Tiwana also got up and started arguing with each other.

The sources said the situation took a turn for the worst with one of the parties abusing the other following which they set upon each other. The sources said following this both groups started fighting with each other with some of them even swinging chairs at their opponents. The sources said Minta’s turban fell to the ground and his ‘kurta’ was also torn in the process.

The situation was partially retrieved following the intervention of Mayor Vishnu Sharma who asked both groups to desist from such activities and brought order into the House. One group led by Rupinder Tiwana and including Harwinder Singh Nippy and Narinder Lalli left the meeting immediately. Later the meeting was reconvened and passed off peacefully.

Mayor Vishnu Sharma, when questioned on the issue, said nothing had happened. He said there was no reason for taking action against anyone because all issues had been solved amicably and that the entire agenda put before the House had been passed. Commissioner Sanjay Kumar also said that he was not aware of the disturbance. Mr Sukhwinder Singh Minta said he had been abused by some Councillors who wanted to favour a particular cable company but denied being hit during the meeting.

Meanwhile, the fighting in the Meeting Hall of the corporation created a stir in the city with supporters of various Councillors rushing to the corporation office. However, the situation was saved from taking an ugly turn because the group led by Tiwana left the corporation office shortly after the meeting.


Cops connived with land-grabbers: Judge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, October 9
A house situated at Nathana town and belonging to a local resident, Mr Sumer Singla, has allegedly been taken into possession forcibly by six persons, including a retired Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), Mr Sukhminder Singh. The other accused include his son Rupinder Jit Singh, alias Romi, daughter-in-law Rupinder Kaur and three others.

Mr Singla got an FIR registered at the Nathana police station, on September 16, 2003.

But the police, instead of helping him, allegedly helped the accused. The police did not arrest the accused nor it got the house vacated.

The police allegedly helped the accused despite the fact that accused had reached a compromise with the complainant that they would vacate the premises and this written compromise was attested by Inspector Balwinder Singh of the Nathana police station.

It was alleged that the accused forcibly took the possession of the first floor portion of Mr Singla in the third week of August, 2003. On August 25, Mr Singla lodged a complaint with the police in this connection. On August 27, the accused and the complainant reached a compromise in the police station in the presence of Inspector Balwinder Singh.

Mr D.S. Malwai, Additional Sessions Judge, while dismissing the pre-arrest bail applications moved by the accused, observed in his order that after going through the file, he found that it was a case of connivance of the police to help the accused.

He said the police should have got the premises vacated immediately or should have arrested the accused instead of attesting the compromise.

Mr Malwai, in his order passed yesterday, said though the bail applications were filed on September 18, 2003 and the court had not granted any stay against their arrest, the police had not arrested any of the accused in the past 20 days.

Mr Balwinder Singh, SHO, maintained a case had been registered against the accused.

He added that he could not comment on the fact that why the accused were not arrested so far as DSP (D) Jaspal Singh was conducting the investigation.

Mr Jaspal Singh, DSP (D), said police parties had been deployed to nab the accused.


DIG completes probe into ex-sarpanch’s suicide

Moga, October 9
The DIG (police), Ferozepore Range, Mr Hardish Singh Randhawa, who was directed by the State Human Rights Commission to find out truth whether the senior Akali leader Gurdyal Singh, former Sarpanch, Baghapurana, had committed suicide with his licences revolver or he was killed, has completed his inquiry and may submit his report to the commission before the stipulated date of October 13.

DIG Randhawa today confirmed that he had completed the probe and recorded the statements of two sons of the deceased Akali leader, his wife, his daughter, son in law and daughter in law and also some other persons.

Akali leader’s son Navtej Singh on August 1, had petitioned to the State Human Right Commission that his father had not committed suicide rather he was murdered and asked for direction of cancellation of FIR registered against five persons.

He had also demanded for a fresh probe by senior officer and new FIR be registered against then SHO, his sister her husband and two others.

The Akali leader reportedly committed suicide at Moga at the residence of his daughter on July 6, 2003. — PTI


Notification on CSD items still awaited
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
Even after a month the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, agreed to roll back the imposition of sales tax on certain items sold through CSD canteens, the state government is yet to issue a notification in this regard, leading to resentment among serving armed forces personnel as well as ex-servicemen.

“Considering that the festival and the marriage season is in full swing, a host of items need to be purchased. The government’s failure to withdraw the sales tax has not only put serving as well as retired personnel at a disadvantage vis-a-vis their counterparts in other states but also has increased their financial burden,” Brig K.S. Kahlon, convener of the various ex-servicemen’s associations and forums told The Tribune.

While officials at the Directorate of Sainik Welfare, Punjab, say that they have sent several reminders to the government in the matter, official sources say that the notification has been drafted and “is in the process of being issued”. They, however, declined to stipulate as to when it would be issued.

The notification concerning levy of sales tax on CSD items was issued by the government in August.


Sports policy in six months, says Kang

Barnala, October 9
Punjab will have a new sports policy within six months. The 26-point policy would include infrastructure and diet.

Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Sports and Animal Husbandry Minister, talking to mediapersons at the local Improvement Trust office complex last evening, said for promoting sports in Punjab, non-resident Indians (NRI’s) would also be involved.

Asked why the government was rolling back its decisions, “Mr Kang said it was due to the “wrong feedback” by the bureaucracy. Earlier, addressing a gathering of sarpanches and panches, Mr Kang said if the proposal to import milk was implemented, the Punjab Government would resist it tooth and nail.

Mr Tirath Dass Sindhwani, general secretary, Barnala Beopar Mandal, talked of Barnala traders’ opposition to the Punjab Government’s decision of allotting octroi collection work on contract. He said instead of abolishing octroi the decision of auctioning octroi collection was anti-traders. This was contrary to the Congress promise. — OC


Ex-judge found drowned
Tribune News Service

Patiala, October 9
An Additional District Judge, who had been forcibly retired by the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2001, was found drowned in the "sarovar" of Gurdwara Motibagh here this morning.

The judge, who has been identified as Charan Das Jindal, had been engaged in private practice in the District Courts here after he was forcibly retired from service in 2001. Sources said he had been suffering from depression lately and that this could have been one of the reasons for his death. They said Mr Jindal was also perturbed by what he felt was a "false" case that had been filed against him.

His family claimed that he had gone to sleep at their Bharpur Garden residence at night and that the news of him being missing from the house was revealed the next morning only when a phone call was received regarding his drowning.

The body has been sent for a postmortem examination to the Government Rajindra Hospital. The viscera is being sent to the State Chemical Laboratory to ascertain the exact cause of the death.


Company’s efforts to light road fail to materialise
Our Correspondent

Ropar, October 9
The philanthropic efforts of DSM, a multinational company located in Asron industrial area of Nawanshahr district, 4 km from here, to light an accident-prone 12-km stretch of the Ropar-Asron road have failed to materialise due to the failure of the PSEB to provide power connection.

The DSM, on the suggestion of its employees, had decided to light the said stretch to mark the centenary celebrations of the company. The company claims that it spent Rs 75 lakh on erecting 400 electric poles fitted with 150 watt sodium-vapour lamps on the said stretch of the road. The work for installing the electric poles and lamps was completed in July this year.

The company deposited Rs 5 lakh with the PSEB in July. However, the PSEB has not provided the power connection till date.

The PSEB authorities said the board had given the clearance for giving power connection to the electric poles installed by the company. However, there was some confusion regarding the ownership of the company. The sources said the Asron-based unit was initially known as Max. However, it has been taken over by DSM, and there was a confusion about the ownership of the company.


VIP brats issue: SHO suspended
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, October 9
Finally buckling under political pressure, the Punjab Police today suspended a Punjab Police Inspector posted as a Station House Officer (SHO) Sarabha Nagar police station here for allegedly ‘misbehaving’ with two youths, one son of a serving Congress minister and another of a local municipal councilor.

According to order issued by the Director General of Police Punjab, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, and received late here tonight, Inspector Sandeep Wadhera, who allegedly refused to tolerate the nuisance of the VIP sons, has been suspended and sent to the police lines.

Highly placed sources informed that after failing to get an action against the cop from local authorities, the Congress minister knocked the doors of the Chief Minister, Mr Amarinder Singh, and threatened to resign. The minister reportedly argued that it would be a loss of face for him, if no action was taken against the guilty cop.


RPFC invites forms from PF claimants
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, October 9
With Pratap Steel Rolling Mills Ltd., Mandi Gobindgarh, depositing the entire provident fund dues up to September, 1996, the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (RPFC), Punjab and Chandigarh, has decided to settle the PF claims of all the former employees of the company.

The RPFC has asked all the claimants to submit their withdrawal forms duly attested by the authorised officer of the company. Since the company has closed its plant at Mandi Gobindgarh, its affairs are being managed from the head office at Chheharta, Amritsar, Mr M.N. Sharma, Regional PF Commissioner (I), said in a press release here today.


‘Parkash utsav’ celebrated
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, October 9
The ‘parkash utsav’ of fourth Sikh guru and founder of the holy city Guru Ram Dass was celebrated here today. Hundreds of devotees took a dip in holy sarovars of various gurdwaras.

Various religious processions were taken out on the occasion. The Golden Temple and other gurdwaras were beautifully decorated and lighted. An exhibition of priceless artifacts and jewellery was held at Baba Atal Sahib.


Kidnapped boy rescued
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
The Amritsar police yesterday rescued the grandson of a chowkidar, who was kidnapped few hours before his (chowkidar’s) appearance in the district courts today in connection with a murder case. The police has also arrested three accused including an alleged killer, Satnam Singh, alias Satta, against whom the chowkidar was to depose.

According to Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh, SP (City), the chowkidar who was an eyewitness to the murder of a junior engineer Devinder Singh about two years ago could not appear in the court when Satta, his two other accomplices Harjinder Singh and Virpal Singh alias Lucky, kidnapped his grandson early today. Satta, an alleged killer is already on bail.


Patwaris hold dharna

Bathinda, October 9
Members of the Revenue Patwar Union today staged a dharna in front of the offices of various tehsils of this district to protest against the non-acceptance of their demands by the Punjab Government.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Sham Lal Grover, president, Revenue Patwar Union, Tehsil, Bathinda, said that demands of patwaris included the granting of initial pay scale of Rs 5,880 to them, granting of promotion after four, nine and 14 years of service and making their post technical. — TNS


Power board penalised for voltage fluctuation
Our Correspondent

Abohar, October 9
The District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum, has slapped a penalty of Rs 20,055 on the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for damage caused to a colour TV set due to fluctuation in voltage. The order was passed by Mr Amarjit Singh Katari, president, and Mr S. K. Gupta, a member of the forum.

Mr Sudhir Bansal, a resident of Gaushala Road here, had moved a complaint to the forum through Mr Sat Pal Khariwal, the president of Consumers Movement, an NGO, on March 20 this year. The complainant said on February 2, his family members were watching TV when there was a sudden rattle and thud in the TV set, followed by a complete failure of image and sound. It was due to sudden fluctuation in electricity supply. The TV set was burnt and the fire spread in the room. The wooden cabinet used for placing the TV set and wall curtains were also damaged.

The PSEB raised a preliminary objection that the complainant had no electricity connection in his name and the connection existed in his grandfather’s name.

The forum observed that the complainant was residing with his grandfather and therefore, he would also be treated as a consumer. The counsel for the complainant pleaded that the PSEB was guilty of deficiency in service.

The board has been directed to pay a sum of Rs 20,055 to the complainant with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum from the date of the loss till realisation. The board will also have to pay Rs 5,000 as compensation for “mental pain which the complainant suffered for not being in a position to watch various programmes on his television”. Litigation expenses of Rs 500 will also be borne by the board.


Paddy being sold at premium
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, October 9
Even as there is record arrival of paddy in the local grain market it is being sold at premium. At present bulk of the paddy is being purchased by the rice millers at Rs 600 per quintal as against the minimum support price of Rs 580 declared by the government. So far 6,91,915 quintals of paddy has arrived in the market. Out of this the five government procuring agencies have purchased about 60,000 quintals of paddy which constitute less than 10 per cent of the total arrival.

The Food and Supply Department, Punjab has taken lead by purchasing 30,000 quintals followed by 14,940 by the FCI and 12,195 by Markfed. The Punsup and Punjab State Warehouse Corporation have made a token purchase of 2,000 and 1,000 quintals of paddy so far.

About 20,000 to 25,000 quintals of paddy that arrives in the market daily is purchased immediately.

The apparent reason for brisk paddy purchase is perhaps that the rice millers are hopeful of the government continuing the policy of purchasing 75 per cent milled rice in levy quota like the previous year. Sources reveal that some of the rice millers allegedly procure inflated bills of 25 per cent extra purchase. This facilitates them to sell the entire milled rice into government levy quota. Due to the prevailing tendency the farmers are a happy lot. Their paddy is promptly purchased at a slightly higher rate.

They are saved from the problem of camping in the market for days waiting their turn. Besides this they do not have to face the wrangles involved in official procurement.

They are also relieved of not greasing the palms of government officials for early procurement.


SMO held on bribe charge
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, October 9
The Senior Medical Officer (SMO), in charge Civil Hospital Patti, Dr Harjit Bharti, was nabbed last night by a team of Vigilance Bureau (VB) from Amritsar for taking a bribe of Rs 1,500 from a resident of Moga to issue a medico-legal report (MLR).

Sources said here today that the team of the VB, was led by DSP Jagir Singh and DSP Kashmir Singh and one ETO. The sources said that the doctor was caught red handed while taking the bribe.

A case under the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered against the accused.

Dr Bharti had been awarded the “best administrator award” by the Punjab Health System Corporation last year.


House of Congress leader robbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, October 9
Two armed persons today robbed valuables at gun point worth over Rs 2 lakh from the residence of Madan Mohan Bajaj (Gudd), a former president of Block Congress (Urban) Committee at Guru Harkishan Nagar here.

The two also assaulted two women occupants Kailashvati, mother, and Ramesh Rani, wife of Mr Bajaj resulting injuries to the two women.

Two youths, in their early twenties, today came to the residence of Mr Bajaj, a property dealer. The women told them that Mr Bajaj was in his office. However, after sometime, both came back and threatened the women with pistols.

The wife of Mr Bajaj was locked in a room. They took away a diamond ring, 20 tolas of gold jewellery and other valuables plus Rs 17,000 in cash. The police has registered a case.

Mr Bajaj said that he had been receiving threats for the past many days.


30 out of 35 teachers found absent during raid
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, October 9
Thirty of the 35 staff members of the Girls Senior Secondary School at Patti, including the officiating Principal, have been found absent during a raid of the district administration.

In his confidential report, officiating Deputy Commissioner Baljit Singh stated that at least 50 teachers, including two Principals and many members of the DEO staff, had been found absent during the raids conducted in many parts of the district. The report was sent to the Secretary, Higher Education, and Commissioner, Jalandhar division, for action.

Mr Baljit Singh said eight employees of the government school at Bhikhiwind, six employees of the DEO office, five teachers at the Boys Senior Secondary School at Patti and two staff members of the school at Town Hall in Amritsar were found absent. He said the DEO (Secondary) had claimed that the Principal of the Town Hall school was on leave at the time of the raid.

Staff members of other departments, including health, also remain absent from the border belt. Absenteeism among medical officers had been established during raids conducted by the Vigilance Bureau and the Civil Surgeon.


Students block traffic, demand free travel

Barnala, October 9
Activists of the Punjab Radical Students Union, the Students Federation of India, the All-India Students Association, the Punjab Students Federation and the Punjab Students Union blocked traffic in front of the PWD Rest House and staged a protest rally here today to press the Punjab Government to allow students free travel in buses. The students raised slogans against the government. They organised a rally and a dharna in the courts complex.

Student leaders flayed the Punjab Government for its anti-student policies. They urged the government to stop the privatisation and commercialisation of education. They sought education at nominal expenses so that students from weaker sections of society were not deprived of their right to education. They assailed mini-bus operators for their highhandedness and callousness towards students in Tapa and Barnala regions.

Prof P.K. Sharma, president of the Sangrur district unit of the Punjab and Chandigarh College Teachers Union, also addressed the rally. — OC

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