P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



4 ‘missing’ girls recovered
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 13
Four Punjabi girls who had allegedly eloped with four migrant labourers have been recovered from different states by separate teams of Ludhiana police.

Presenting the girls and the accused before mediapersons at a press conference here today SP (city-II) Pritam Singh said the cases gave an indication of a social problem as they reflected the growing and disturbing incidents of local girls eloping with migrants. He urged the parents and the sociologists to take remedial measures.

The Tribune had highlighted the problem through its columns a few months ago. The alleged buying of girls from Bihar by Punjabi men had been highlighted but little attention was paid to the disturbing trend of elopement of Punjabi girls, beloning to economically weak sections, with migrants. The Tribune had highlighted the cases, which were solved by the local police today.

The police had registered cases of kidnapping against the boys, as the girls were minors. The FIRs had been lodged by the parents of the girls.

Mr Pritam Singh said the city SSP, Mr Narinderpal Singh, had formed a special investigation team to crack the cases. He said the police had to make a lot of efforts to trace the girls as the boys had given wrong addresses here.

Taranjit Kaur, 15, has been recovered from the alleged possession of Rehsul from Lingia village in West Bengal by a team headed by DSP Manjit Singh Dhesi and including staff of Basti Jodhewal police station. The girl had been missing since April 18, 2003.

Rajbir Kaur, also of Basti Jodhewal was allegedly lured by a labourer identified as Munish Kumar. The police parties looked for the couple at all tourist and religious spots, including Jammu, Mcleodganj, Vaishno Devi, Katra, Dalhousie, Kullu Manali, Shimla and ultimately traced them from a religious place in Delhi.

The third case was also of Basti Jodhewal. Ruchika, a minor girl, had gone missing in September this year. She was found from Kishanganj district in Bihar.

The fourth case, involved Rekha, a 13-year-old girl of New Madhopuri. She was allegedly lured and kindapped by one Shiv Kumar in June. He also belonged to Kishanganj district in Bihar. The police could not trace him in that state and he was ultimately found in Panipat, Haryana. The search party was led by ASI Summet Sood.


Another ‘desi kabootri’ gang busted, 4 held
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 13
The Ludhiana police today claimed to have busted a gang, which was using a 73-year-old Australian to lure gullible youths.

Addressing a press conference here late in the evening, DSP Rajeshwar Singh and SHO Haibowal Gurpreet Singh stated that they had arrested four members of the alleged gang, who had allegedly fleeced Balwinder Singh, a resident of Rajjowal village, on the pretext of taking him abroad after marriage.

Those arrested include the bride, Ravneet Kaur, Harjinder Singh Grewal, Jagjit Singh Grewal and Australian resident Max Well.

According to the police officials, Ravneet Kaur had taken Rs 4 lakh from Balwinder. The two were formally engaged. The police added that the accused had even applied for getting the marriage registered, but the district administration had rejected the application.


A marriage party of hired people!
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 13
Ever heard about a marriage party of hired people to cheat bridegroom and his family? This is exactly what happened with a resident of Haripur village in Jalandhar district, who was also allegedly duped of Rs 17.59 lakh by the “desi-kabootri” gang, busted by the Jagraon police three days ago.

After the news of the busting of a local gang, which showed dancing girls as NRI brides and vendors as their parents to dupe several youths dreaming of emigration to Canada through marriage visa, it has now come up in police investigation that the gang members had even gone to the extent of fielding a complete team of bride’s relatives, who formed the “baraat reception” party, to achieve their ends.

Balbir Singh of Haripur village was in the Raikot police station today to lodge an FIR against the “NRI bride” Swaran Lata, alias Manjit Kaur, alias Goggi. The girl was not an NRI but a dancing girl of Jalandhar caught by the Jagraon police a couple of days ago. He had seen the girl’s picture in newspapers and was shocked.

The Jagraon police was hoping to get more complaints about the fraudulent marriages performed by the gang members but it had not even thought the gang could have arranged a complete marriage party of hired people.

According to Mr Mukhwinder Singh Chhina, SSP Jagraon, and Mr H.S. Brar, DSP, Raikot, the case of Balbir Singh reveals that the fraudulent marriage racket was wider than what one perceived. The case shows that the gang members used one girl for more than one marriage and there were many persons used as hired relatives in the marriages.

Balbir Singh, in his statement to the police, said that he had learnt that all relatives of the NRI bride were fake. He said he was married to the girl on January 17, 2003, and had paid Rs 17.59 lakh in installments. The last installment of Rs 9000 was paid in May when he was in contact with the girl’s “Canada-based” relatives on phone. However, after that everybody simply vanished.

Talking to The Tribune, Balbir Singh said the relatives of the girl appeared real. “The traditional ‘milni’ (formal meeting of the girl’s and boy’s relatives) was conducted in style. It was only a few weeks ago that we became supicious that the “Chachas”, “Maamas” and other relatives were fake,” he said, adding that he inquired at the addresses but could not trace anyone.

He said after reading the news-report, his suspicion was confirmed. He said he had sold his property and other valuables for going abroad but was now devastated — both financially and emotionally.

The Jagraon police said it was expecting more victims to surface now.


15-year-old boy brutally murdered in Patiala
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 13
For 15-year-old James John, the absence of his parents from their home in Sukhram Colony adjoining the diesel component works complex in the city proved very costly. Left alone at home, the boy was brutally murdered last night.

Circumstantial evidence points out that James might have opened the main door of his home to let in the assailants. There is no evidence of a break-in nor is anything missing from the house. It could be possible that the assailants were known to James because his immediate neighbours did not hear any worrying noise last night.

The murder was discovered this morning when James’ friend Lakhwinder came to collect a pair of sports shoes he had lent to the boy earlier. Lakhwinder, who came to the house at around 8 am, says he found the outer gate open and when he entered the premises of the house he found that the entry door was also not locked. Lakhwinder said when he went to the bedroom, in which James used to sleep, he found him lying with blood splattered on the mattress.

Lakhwinder says James’ legs had been tied with an old pant while his hands had been tied after tearing a bed-sheet. He said part of the bed-sheet was also used to throttle James. The boy said there was a wound on James forehead indicating that he might have been bludgeoned and that a long thick metal needle used to tie gunny bags was probably used to puncture several holes in James’ stomach. A visit to the scene of the crime revealed a spartan room with a double bed, a folding single bed and a study table. One of the mattresses and part of a pillow was splattered with blood.

James’ father and mother both work in the Punjab State Electricity Board. While his father TV John is a storekeeper in the Central Store near the railway station, his mother Tangamma is a typist in the north subdivision of the board. His mother had been operated on for a brain tumour recently and left Patiala for Ludhiana on Tuesday to receive chemeotherapy treatment.

The body of the boy, who was studying in Class IX in Vir Haqiqat Rai School in the city, has been sent for postmortem. Though the postmortem report will be released tomorrow, doctors said the death seemed to have occurred last night.

Tangamma John was not without friends following the murder of her son. While her Christian friends took some time to rush to her side, her Punjabi neighbours thronged her house immediately after coming to know about the tragedy to console her in her moment of grief.

Tangamma, who hails from Tiruvalla in Kerala, and was in Ludhiana this morning where she had gone to get medical treatment, came home to be received by grieving neighbours who had collected at her house.

Tangamma herself admitted this fact, saying “you can see the love and affection my neighbours have for me yourself”. She said she had been living in the present colony since more than 12 years, adding her husband had been living in the city since 1973. She said she herself had come to the city around 21 years back.

The 48-year-old woman also claimed that she had always been at good terms with her neighbours and other people of the colony and could not visualise any reason for the murder of her son.

Karamjit Kaur, a neighbour, says she was planning to come to the Christian house today to ascertain about “behenji’s” health when she came to know about the tragedy which had be fallen the household.

Tangamma's friend Alice from Cheeka in Haryana and Mohini who lives in the Mohindra Colony in the city also claimed that the couple were enjoying good relations with their neighbours.


Enforcement staff raid doc’s premises
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 13
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has confiscated some incriminatory documents related to alleged “hawala” transactions during a series of raids conducted on the premises of a city-based doctor, an industrialist and a sanitary hardware shop last night. These could lead to the unearthing of multi-crore illegal “hawala” racket.

Interestingly, the ED officials here were tight-lipped about the exact amount involved in “hawala” transactions even as sources maintained that the documents related to “hawala” were being scrutinised to ascertain the role of these business houses in the racket.

When contacted, the Joint Director of the directorate here, Mr B.C. Mahey, confirmed that the raids had been conducted on certain business establishments last night after getting a tip off that these were involved in “hawala” transactions through a chain of agents spread all over the state.

The sources, however, maintained that crores of rupees had recently been distributed in different parts of the state by some hawala operators and these raids had been conducted in order to unearth the whole racket. The ED officials refused to reveal the identity of the business houses and other establishments, which were targeted during the raids.

While a team of the ED officials raided the premises of a doctor in Bazaar Sheikhan in the evening and quizzed him for about three hours, other teams conducted raids on a sanitary hardware big-wig near the Company Bagh Chowk and industrial area factory and Lajpat Nagar house of industrialist.


Recruit law officers on merit, say ministers
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The issue of law officers came up at the meeting of the Council of Ministers today. Informed sources said certain Ministers urged Chief Minister Amarinder Singh to remove those law officers who were not competent to handle the legal work.

There are about 110 law officers as Senior Advocate-General, Additional Advocate-General, Deputy Advocate-General and Assistant Advocate-General in the office of the Punjab Advocate-General. Most of them are wards of either influential politicians, or serving or former senior officers. They have been employed because of their clout in the corridors of power.

In fact, these recruitments of law officers have been made against the declared policy of the ruling Congress party in the state. Before the Assembly elections, the Congress had made a promise to the people of the state, especially its youth, that all appointments in the Government departments by the Congress Government would be made on merit. There would be no place for “sifarish”. However, while making appointments of most of the law officers, the Government has faulted on its own promise. It has made most of the appointments on the basis of “ sifarish” and not merit.

Sources said that certain Ministers felt that law officers should be recruited purely on merit. “ Law officers have to handle important cases in the Punjab and Haryana High Court and other judicial organisations. They are supposed to defend the state in such cases. Hence, the best legal brains should be employed to handle the State cases and not law graduates having little experience to plead cases in the High Court and other legal forums”, said a Minister.

Sources said the Chief Minister told the Ministers concerned at the meeting that most of the law officers had been employed on contract basis. Many of them would complete their contract period either in the end of December or in March next year. Their contract would not be renewed further.

During the previous SAD-BJP Government, the number of law officers was around 52. But it is more than double now. Sources said that the Finance Department has repeatedly objected to the recruitment of such a vast number of law officers. Even, the Finance Department has a number of times refused to sanction additional posts of law officers. Many law officers remain without salary for months because of the objections raised by the Finance Department, it is learnt.


Challan against Badal being vetted, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Upset over the manner a meeting called by a chairman was virtually boycotted by his subordinate officers Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh today warned that he would not spare those found disrespecting chairpersons and other political appointees.

Capt Amarinder Singh said no one turned up at the meeting called by the Chairman concerned.

After addressing a meeting of chairpersons and Managing Directors of boards and corporations, Capt Amarinder Singh said the chairpersons had his full backing and they should be given due respect.

Asking the chairpersons to show results, the Chief Minister said public sector organisations that show improved results will be removed from the disinvestment list. He made a special mention of the Pepsu Roadways Transport Corporation that has been showing good results under the leadership of its Chairman, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta. The government had a allowed Mr Gupta to buy 100 buses for the corporation. Mr Gupta had not sought any financial support or counter-guarantee from the government for this purpose.

About the allegations of properties worth crores levelled against PWD Minister, Partap Singh Bajwa, the Chief Minister said the charges were false and politically motivated. Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his associates were levelling such charges against Congress ministers out of frustration” he claimed.

He refused comment on the controversy between Mr Jagmeet Brar and Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. When asked about Mrs Bhattal’s allegation that certain bureaucrats had infiltrated into the Congress and damaging it, Capt Amarinder Singh said only retired bureaucrats had joined the party and they had every right to be there.

Reiterating that Mr Badal would not be arrested by the state government. “We wil leave it to the court to decide whether Mr Badal should be arrested or not”, he said. “Top lawyers of the Supreme Court and lower courts were being consulted to finetune the challan against Mr Badal and his close relatives”, said the Chief Minister, adding that “we want to remove all flaws in the challan to make it a legally sound document to ensure conviction of the Badals.

The Chief Minsiter declared that the transfers of Administrative Secretaries and other senior officers would be made on Tuesday.


DIG records statement in case against Badal
Tribune News Service and Agencies

Kharar, November 13
Continuing with the recording of statements in the disproportionate assets case against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, the Punjab Vigilance Bureau today got the statement of a DIG recorded before a Judicial Magistrate “in-camera” under Section 164 of the CrPC.

Mr Harinder Pal Singh Bains, SP ( Detective) from Nawanshahr, and a civilian, Mr Kuldip Singh, who happens to be his relative, had recorded similar statements yesterday. All three statements were recorded in the court of Judicial Magistrate Baljinder Kaur Bhatia. The reported statements of the police officers pertain to money they had allegedly paid to the Badal’s family for getting prime postings.

Sources maintain that the statements were being recorded as the challan, finalised by the Vigilance Bureau, would be presented in a special court at Ropar soon. The move is to further strengthen the chargesheet against the Badals, the sources said.

Mr Gurinder Pal Singh Grewal, DIG, went to the court today to record his statement. He was accompanied by a posse of vigilance officials.

The witnesses said the DIG, posted in IRB, Bahadurgarh, Patiala, went to Chandigarh, after his 15-minute statement. The DIG remained closeted with Ropar police SP (Headquarters) Jagdish Singh Kahlon, in the Civil Rest House for about 10 minutes, the sources added. Mr Kahlon retains his additional charge as SP (Vigilance).

A senior official in the Vigilance Bureau, closely associated with the investigations said many more statements were likely to be recorded in the next few days as many people were coming forward for deposition.

The case against Mr Badal and his family was registered by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau at its Mohali police station on June 24 under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471, 120-B of the IPC and Section 13, 1, 9 (D) (C) read with Section 13 (2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988, on the complaint of Balwant Singh of Dalewa village in Mansa district. The challan is likely to be presented next week.


Police remand for PTU Director
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 13
A local court today remanded Dr Sadhu Singh, Director, Colleges of Punjab Technical University (PTU), in police custody for one day.

Earlier, Dr Sadhu Singh, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau yesterday on allegations of accepting bribe of Rs 15,000 from a private canteen contrator for releasing his dues, was produced in a court here. After listening to the arguments of both, the police prosecutor and the defence counsel, the Judicial Magistrate remanded the accused in police custody.


Pak boy goes home today
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, November 13
Dinesh Kumar (16), a Hindu boy, has expressed pleasure over the decision of the Pakistan Government to get him repatriated to Pakistan from the local juvenile jail tomorrow.

Expressing gratitude to the Indian Government for taking an initiative in this regard, Dinesh Kumar, who is one of the eight Pakistani boys languishing in the jail for the past one year, has also appealed to the Pakistan Government to send the identification documents of the other seven boys at the earliest so that they could also be able to meet their parents and celebrate Id at home on November 26.

Dinesh Kumar, who left his house at Amarkot village in Sind distirct out of fear of his parents following his failure in the matriculation examination last year, was arrested near the Indo-Pakistan border under suspicious circumstances by the Border Security Force.

Taking to this reporter on the jail premises today, he said after reaching his country, he would try to contact senior officers for an early repatriation of the other boys. He has appealed to both the Indian and Pakistan governments to take such bold gestures to create a congenial atmosphere and strengthen relations between the two countries.

Dinesh Kumar praised Mrs Ram Piari, a cook in the jail, for serving the eight Pakistani nationals in the best possible way.

With tears in their eyes, the other seven Pakistani boys — Sagar Ali, Nasir Ali, Sabar Ali, Altaf Shah, Amjad Khan, Babar Ali and Asaf Ali — urged the Pakistan Government to facilitate their early repatriation.

The Indian Government had cleared the release of all eight Pakistani boys in the last week of September end informed the Pakistan Government in this regard. On October 3, the Pakistan High Commission called the boys in New Delhi for verification. After interviewing them, the Secretary of the commission said their documents would be sent to his government for approval.

Meanwhile, Mr Sanjeev Kalra, DIG, Faridkot Range, who is the nodal officer for the entire process, and Mr Kulshinder Singh, SSP, Faridkot, said they received a fax message today from the Government of Punjab in which it had been mentioned that the Pakistan Government had so far confirmed the nationality of only Dinesh Kumar.

A police party, led by Mr Harvinder Singh Randhawa, DSP, Faridkot, will take Dinesh Kumar from here tomorrow at about 9 am to the Wagah border and hand him over to officials of the Pakistan Government.


Huge ST evasion unearthed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The inspection of business premises of several traders by officials of the Punjab Excise and Taxation Department revealed suppression of sales figures as well as undervaluation of goods, thereby evading tax worth lakhs of rupees.

According to a statement issued here today, department officials raided Singla Traders, Rajpura; G.C. Garg Trading Company, Jalandhar, and Garg Trading Company, Phillaur, following tip-offs and took into possession incriminating documents.

The officials also detained 14 trucks carrying goods belonging to Singla Traders and M.K. Wood Private Limited, which were bought without the requisite information being entered into records. The goods were also not accompanied with the mandatory sales tax declarations. The inspection team was also able to impound a bogus receipt book belonging to a transport company. Singla Traders later voluntarily issued a cheque for Rs 6 lakh towards tax and penalty. The officials have estimated that a suppressed turnover for about Rs 2 crore is likely to be unearthed in these cases.

No account books were made available to the officials at the premises of M.K. Wood Private Limited. A huge stock was found lying in the premises. The officials estimated a suppressed turnover of Rs 2 crore in this case too.

Inspection teams at Jalandhar detected a suppressed turnover of Rs 70 lakh while inspecting one of the premises belonging to Garg Trading Company. Inspection of another premises of the firm revealed a suppressed turnover of about Rs 66 lakh, the statement added.


No compromise between Dalits, Zamidars
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, November 13
Tension prevailed at Hasanpur village, near Dhuri, on the second day today following a clash between Dalits and Zamidars on November 11 over a disputed piece of land in the village. Nearly 20 persons from both sides and three policemen were injured in the clash.

Sources said despite efforts of the administration and the police, no solution had been found. Both parties had been invited for talks by a senior police official this afternoon, but representatives of Dalits could not attend the talks as they had gone to Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, to see a woman, who had received serious injuries in the clash.

Meanwhile, the Dalit Atayachar Virodhi Action Committee, Dhuri, today asked the administration to immediately arrest those Zamidars against whom a criminal case had been registered for attacking Dalits. It also demanded compensation for the injured Dalits. The committee also served an ultimatum on the administration, saying if it failed to arrest the guilty, the committee along with other organisations would block roads at Dhuri on November 15 and also hold a protest rally.

Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh and Mr Bahadur Singh Bhasor, district president and general secretary, respectively, of the SAD (A), along with Mr Dasvir Singh Dalee, district president of the legal cell of the SAD (A), today again visited Hasanpur village and met Zamidars and Dalits. Mr Alloarkh said it was not a caste war, but an economic issue.


Garbage piles up as protest enters 3rd day
Our Correspondent

SAS Nagar, November 13
While garbage continued to pile up in the town even today, the protest by residents of Sohana village, near here, entered its third day. Taking possession of the dumping site near the village became a big headache for the Municipal Council with the PUDA authorities adopting a hands-off attitude.

Residents of the village are sitting on dharna in protest against the inadequate compensation being given to them by PUDA for the land which had been acquired for dumping garbage. No vehicle of the council has been allowed to dump garbage there since Tuesday afternoon.

The president of the Municipal Council, Mr Kulwant Singh, said PUDA was to give possession of the 13-acre land acquired by it today. The Additional Executive Officer of the council, Mr Sarabjit Singh, two SDOs, two JEs and one sanitary inspector took along a Naib Tehsildar and a Kanungo from the office of the Land Acquisition Collector to take possession of the land. On reaching the spot, the Naib Tehsildar saw that residents of Sohana were still sitting on dharna in protest against inadequate compensation. He talked to the protesters who aired their grievances. He returned from the site without handing over the possession of the land to the council officials.

Mr Sarabjit Singh, along with other officials, then returned to the civic body office and wrote a letter to the Estate Officer, PUDA, regarding the developments. The letter was delivered at the PUDA office by a council employee. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Chief Administrator (CA), the Additional Chief Administrator (ACA), PUDA, and the SDM.

The SDM, Mr Mohal Lal Sharma, also visited the site where the protest was going on. He asked the protesters to give their grievances in writing.

Mr Yashvir Mahajan, ACA, PUDA, said the land had been acquired under law and the rates in this regard had been approved by the Deputy Commissioner. He said the land acquired was part of a nullah and as such the compensation was low. If the residents felt that the compensation was inadequate, they could approach a court. He maintained the possession of the land had been given to the civic body and nobody was authorised to stop garbage dumping in the area. He asserted that the residents were trying to browbeat the administration and police help would be needed to solve the problem.


Protest against Northern Railway GM
Tribune Reporters

Jalandhar, November 13
Mr Rajesh Ranjan Jharihar, General Manager, Northern Railway, on Thursday said that effective steps would be taken to remove the problems regarding ticket reservation at the Jalandhar city railway station.

Mr Jharihar, who was on his annual inspection tour to the city railway station was apprised of problems being faced by people in respect of reservation of tickets.

It was stated that the station would soon be equipped with the IVRS computerised system to enable passengers to know the exact timings of trains and the timetable.

Phagwara: Meanwhile, members of the Satnampura Action Committee protested against the General Manager for not listening to their grievances. They said that they wanted to raise the issue of level-crossing along the road overbridge at the Satnampura railway crossing as the business of about 300 shopkeepers would be affected. Even the inspection was an eyewash, they said.


PCMS panel hails revival of medical council
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 13
The PCMS Association, Punjab, has urged the recently revived Punjab Medical Council (PMC) to keep a check on various unethical practices prevalent in the medical profession.

The council which has been in existence since 1916 had hitherto been working mainly as a registration body. The council was revived recently by the Governor of Punjab, Justice O.P. Verma. He nominated a four-member panel under the Punjab Medical Registration Act, 1916, Section 5 (1) A and B in order to make the body functional. The council is headed by Dr Manmohan Singh, cardiologist, who has been nominated as the president of the council.

The other members are Dr Rajinder Pal Singh Virk, Dr Yash Kumar Sharma and Dr Balraj Gupta. All members, including the president, Dr Manmohan Singh, have been nominated for a tenure of two years. In a joint statement issued by the office-bearers of the PCMS Association, Punjab, here today the members welcomed the appointments and also expressed hope that council would help save medicos from undue harassment meted out to them at the hands of non-technical bodies while also safeguarding the interests of the patients.


Reorientation programme on ayurveda
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 13
Re-orientation Training Programme is being organised in the department of Ras Shastra and Bhaishajya Kalpna of Government Ayurvedic College for the past four weeks.

The aim of the programme is to impart training in advancements in pharmaceuticals preparations of ayurvedic medicines along with role of ayurveda in current health problems with special references to Ras therapy. The programme was inaugurated by the Director of Ayurveda, Dr K.K. Sharma.

Speaking on the occasion, the Principal Government Medical College, Patiala, Dr D.N. Bhardwaj, spoke on chemotherapy Dr Rama Nand and Dr Ishwar Singla spoke on their formulations prepared for various diseases.

Dr Manjit Singh, Head Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Punjabi University, delivered the lecture on vascular endothelial dysfunction and role of ayurvedic drugs as antioxidants.


19 lakh Punjab kids to get birth certificates
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
Tomorrow will be a special day for over 19 lakh children in Punjab. Coinciding with Children's Day, as part of the national campaign to issue birth certificates to children up to 10 years of age, the Directorate of Census Operations, Punjab, will kickoff a week-long campaign.

In the first phase, the beneficiaries would be children born in the past 10 years who could not be issued the birth certificates despite being registered.

The project to be completed in three phases would ultimately benefit around 35 lakh children, said Mr Inder Jit Singh, Director , Census Operations, Punjab.

Addressing a press conference here today, he said after consultation with the State Health Authorities and respective district authorities, it had been decided that the certificates would be delivered through various means. The exercise which should have been completed in 10 years would now be completed in one week, he said.

The Director, Health Services, Dr DPS Sandhu, was also present at the press briefing.

The Director Census said the work of preparing the birth certificates was in the final stages in all 17 districts . Special teams had been constituted in all districts under the chairmanship of the respective deputy commissioners. The registration of birth, apart from being a legal necessity under the Registration of Births and Deaths Act, 1969, was also a right of the child under the United Nation's Convention on Child Rights, 1989. The national campaign on birth registration would facilitate the national programme on preparing a multi-purpose identity card.


75,000 Ropar kids to be included
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 13
In a campaign to motivate people 75,000 children below of age of 10 years would the issued birth certificates from November 14 to 20 in the district. In a press note issued here yesterday the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, said all arrangement for issuing the birth certificates had been completed.

Out of the 75,000 birth certificates 2,789 had been prepared by the Station House Officers (SHOs) and the rest by the Civil Surgeon’s office and municipal councils.


A school of orphans
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 13
“India should not have a widow or an orphan due to drug abuse,” writes Amanpreet Kaur, a student of class V, Citizen’s Forum Vidya Mandir. It is being run at Maqboolpura, a locality of widows, where at least 150 bread earners have died due to drug addiction in the past five years.

Echoing similar sentiments, Gurpreet Kaur, who lost her father to excessive drinking, writes, “I also pray that there should be no widow or orphan like us”. Other students, numbering 352, who were asked to write their impressions on the eve of Children’s Day expressed similar thoughts on drug abuse. Many students wished to become police inspectors to curb drug menace while others wanted to become pilot, doctor, lawyer or join the Indian Army so that they could provide better life to their families.

The school being run in a ramshackle building in the locality of widows is unique as senior students teach juniors for meagre remunerations to pursue their studies.

On the eve of Children’s Day a special team led by Ms Nafees Khan, secretary-general, organisation of Understanding and Fraternity, founded by business tycoon Sanjay Dalmia along with Tarlok Deep visited the school. The team interacted with students and teachers for considering it for the prestigious Harmony Award for 2002-2003.

Talking to TNS, Ms Khan said she was extremely impressed with the performance of the children who wanted to achieve something despite odd circumstances. She said there was no such school in the country. Mr Khan applauded the efforts of master Ajit Singh, a resident of the locality, who converted his house into a school.


Hope for alcoholics
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 13
Alcoholic Anonymous was started in the USA in 1939 to inculcate self-confidence and will power among its members so they are able to quit alcohol.

The organisation has its branches all over the world. In Patiala, the organisation is working for the past six months under the name of Nawin Disha. Dr Mohinder Singh, Professor of Pediatrics, State Medical College, is the Head of the local chapter.

He said this organisation did not use any medication rather it make the person mentally so strong that he starts hating alcohol.

Talking about the membership Dr Mohinder Singh said the desire to leave alcohol was the sole criterion. Its was a self-supporting group and their sole aim was to keep people away from alcohol.


8 PSEB employees sentenced
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 13
Mr Jaspal Singh, Special Judge, today sentenced Mr Subash Chand, Junior Engineer (JE), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), to one-year rigorous imprisonment and Rs 1000 as fine after finding him guilty in a corruption case.

A case was registered against Subash Chand in 1993 by the Vigilance Bureau for accepting a bribe of Rs 300 from Mr Karam Singh, a resident of Samao village in Mansa district.

Mr Jaspal Singh also sentenced eight employees, including Mr Subash Chand, to six months, imprisonment and Rs 500 as fine each for creating hurdles in the functioning of the Vigilance Bureau.

Mr Jaspal Singh held that in case Mr Subash Chand defaulted in the payment of Rs 1000 as fine, he would undergo one more month’s imprisonment.


Cotton auction suspended

Fazilka, November 13
The auction of cotton remained suspended here today till afternoon due to row over the price of cotton.

Nearly 100 farmers raised slogans in front of the Market Committee office to protest against the low price of cotton offered by traders to them.

They said cotton was being sold at a good price in Muktsar and Katkapura areas. Mr Parduman Kumar, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union, Fazilka, said cotton was being sold at the rate of about Rs 150 extra per quintal compared to Fazilka. Therefore, the farmers had decided against selling their cotton, he added.

Cotton factory owners are not keen on purchasing cotton at the rate of more than Rs 2450 per quintal.

The real cause of dispute over rate between farmers and cotton factory owners was that some cotton factory owners of Muktsar and Kotkapura areas had purchased cotton directly from farmers without getting it entered in the market committee records. They had purchased cotton at slightly higher rates. — OC


Women exempted from stamp duty
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 13
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved a proposal to exempt stamp duty on deeds relating to transfer of agriculture land and residential properties by women owners during their lifetime to legal heirs.

A spokesman said that the remission of stamp duty would be under the same terms and conditions as laid down in the Notification of December 2001 under which the concession was given to men owners of properties. The concession would be applicable from the date it was given in the case of men.

The council approved the appointment of honorary NRI headmen in each village, wherefrom at least 20 NRI families have migrated.

It also approved amendments to the Punjab Revenue Officers (Class-I) Service Rules, 1983.


3 more doctors face female foeticide charge
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 13
Even as the filing of complaints against four private medical practitioners of the district for their alleged involvement in female foeticide a few days ago triggered a protest by members of the district unit of the Indian Medical Association (IMA), complaints against three more doctors and some other persons were filed in different courts today for facilitating female foeticide.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the medical practitioners against whom the complaints were registered today by Mr Sadhu Ram Kusla, Project Officer, PNDT Cell, Bathinda, included a doctor posted in the local Civil Hospital. In the earlier complaints lodged in the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bathinda, those who had been accused of facilitating female foeticide through the process of pre-natal sex determination by ultrasound tests included a Senior Medical Officer (SMO) of a government-run hospital of this district and the wife of another Senior Medical Officer, who was running a private clinic.

So far, seven complaints have been filed against 10 doctors and 12 others for their alleged involvement in female foeticide in the district by the Project Officer, Mr Kusla, in different courts. Mr Kusla was authorised by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, to start legal proceedings against the doctors and others after suspected cases of female foeticide were detected, and after the district Civil Hospital authorities, which are authorised to start legal proceedings in such cases, refused to do so.

Some medical practitioners pointed out that the authorities had started legal proceedings against a section of doctors under the IPC and PNDT Act without verifying facts.

Members of the IMA have decided not to conduct ultrasound tests on pregnant women till the complaints filed against the medical practitioners are withdrawn. The IMA alleged that some of its members were being harassed by the district administration. The IMA has submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner and the local MLA, Mr Surinder Singla.


Three bookies held
Raj Sadosh
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 13
The city police arrested three cricket bookies, including their Amritsar-based kingpin, in a raid on Wednesday evening. They were booked under the Gambling Prevention Act and Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. The mobile phones of the bookies seized by the police kept on ringing till midnight at the city police station. This may help the police in making more arrests, sources said.

Abohar had been one of the major centres for cricket-betting operations. The persons involved in it allegedly had political and administrative protection at the highest level during the SAD-BJP rule. DSP Gurmeet Singh Chauhan carried out a raid at one such centre located in Street No. 15 here in a rented house allegedly for the first time after the formation of the present Congress Government in the state.

It was learnt that the liquor mafia too had financial interest and deep-rooted links, with the persons involved in this ‘business’. After that when the bookies ‘returned’ following the transfer of Mr Chauhan, Mr Rakesh Aggarwal who was posted here as ASP continued the drive against the bookies. Investigations had reportedly revealed that cricket betting bookies and narcotics mafia had shifted their business from Rajasthan to Abohar as the subdivision had proximity to Haryana, Rajasthan and Pakistan. The police had recently been busy flushing out lottery satta operators from the infamous Rani Jhansi Market by conducting raids but as they could be booked only under the Gambling Prevention Act, the margin of success was limited.

Even today satta operators were seen doing brisk business in the same market. However, the police changed its priorities and planned a raid on a cricket-betting centre being run in the Green Avenue locality opposite DAV campus on the Abohar-Hanumangarh road. DSP Narenderpal Singh monitored the raid conducted by SI Ranjit Singh and ASI Gurdev Singh and other policemen.

Three persons were caught red handed. They were identified as Surender Kumar Bhatia, son of Chiranji Lal, a resident of Amritsar, Rinku Aggarwal and Surender Aggarwal, sons of Hari Chand a resident of Street No. 5 here.

The Amritsar-based man had come here especially to run the centre during the cricket match at Bangalore.

The police reportedly recovered a dozen mobile phones, a color TV set, 11 speakers fitted with computer network, a high-powered mike, multi-connection landline phone set and recording equipment. Preliminary investigations indicated that the local centre was connected with the national network of cricket bookies. There were reports that raids conducted by the Rajasthan police in the neighbouring cities of Hanumangarh and Sriganganagar had exposed the inter-state betting operations. The local centre was having agents in different localities.


Trader, contract killer held
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, November 13
The Jalandhar police today arrested a businessman, Jatin Gupta, for hiring a contract killer to murder his wife so that he could marry his mistress. The contract killer has also been arrested. Mr Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, said on a tip-off the businessman, a resident of Vikaspura locality, and his accomplice Manjit Kumar, a resident of Lamma village, were arrested by a police party of division No. 8.

During preliminary investigation of Jatin it was found that he was a plywood manufacturer and had married Geeta about five years ago. He has two children. He was now having an illicit relationship with a girl of Phagwara and had started maltreating his wife. He contacted Manjit, a former vehicle fabricator, and offered him Rs 2 lakh for kidnapping and killing his wife. After agreeing to the proposal, both met at Chara Mandi last evening where Jatin paid him Rs 10,000 in advance with a promise that the remaining amount would be paid after the completion of the job.


13 injured in group clash

Phagwara, November 13
Thirteen villagers, including five women, were injured in a group clash at Mehatan village today.

Sharing of irrigation water and land dispute was said to be the cause of clash in which sharpedged weapons were used.

The Sadar police has registered a case. — UNI


Public schools fleecing poor, says
Bir Devinder Singh
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 13
It is a matter of concern that government schools have failed to fulfil the expectations of people to impart quality education to their wards, which is resulting in the migration of a large number of children to public schools. These schools are fleecing the public and poor people are being deprived of quality education, which is their fundamental right. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, said while presiding over the meeting of the District Sarv Sikhya Committee at Bachat Bhavan here yesterday.

He said teachers, parents, administration and the society in general should take immediate remedial measures to control this trend otherwise it would lead to imbalance in the society and might create social problems. He said it was unfortunate that government schools were lacking in basic amenities such as drinking water, buildings, electricity, toilets and furniture for students and teachers. He said now the government had started giving priority to fulfil the requirements under “Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan” scheme. He said since the government had limited resources, the people should contribute generously on the occasion of sorrow and happiness for the upliftment of the educational standard in government schools.

Addressing the meeting, Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, said a survey should be conducted in the district to identify the illetrate children and they should be covered under the scheme. He said under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan all schools falling in his constituency would be provided basic facilities.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, in his address said under the Sarv Sikhya Abhiyan Rs 4.75 crore would be spent in the district and the first installment of Rs 2.12 crore had been released. He said all 495 schools in the district would be given grant of Rs 35,000 and Rs 5,000 for maintenance and Rs 2,000 for furniture. He said Rs 36 lakh would be spent on the cleanliness in primary schools and besides this, rooms in 15 primary and 13 middle schools would be constructed at the cost of Rs 1.20 lakh each. He assured the members that basic amenities in the schools would be provided on priority basis.

Mr Mohinder Pal Arora, Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Darshan Singh, SDM, Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Daya Singh, DEO(S), Mr Dev Singh, DEO(E), also addressed the gathering.

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