P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



CM talks of supplementary chargesheets
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today reiterated his resolve to continue with the anti-corruption campaign and promised transparent governance.

Addressing a press conference, he talked of supplementary chargesheets against the Badals, tried to allay apprehensions that the foreign assets of the Badals, pegged at Rs 3,835 crore, were not ‘’vague’’ and dismissed as ‘’non-event’’ the Akalis’ chakka jam on Sunday. For once, he placed the state’s economic development agenda and achievements on the back-burner for another occasion.

The Chief Minister referred to his request to the High Court Chief Justice to set up a special court for trial of the Badals on day-to-day basis. He described presentation of the charge sheet against former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal and his family on Saturday as fulfillment of a pre-assembly election promise by the Congress to the people of the state.

Without deflecting from his favourite pastime of Badal-bashing, the Chief Minister spoke about the people’s confidence being restored in the present politico-bureaucratic system with the exposure of corruption at high places, beginning with the “job-on-cash” PPSC scam. ‘’The Badals had subverted all systems in their five-year tenure when jobs, postings, transfers and contracts had a price-tag’’.

He said, ‘’We will recover the people’s money from the Badals whose total assets were estimated by the Vigilance Bureau at Rs 4,356 crore. With such a huge money, Punjab could have 314 hospitals, 400 higher secondary schools, cover 7,000 km roads and build 20,000 dwellings for the shelterless Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes’’.

Once the government obtained letter of rogatory from the High Court, the Vigilance Bureau, he said, would formally procure all details of the properties and bank accounts held by the Badals abroad. ‘’We know the exact locations of these properties and how much has been invested in shares by either Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal or his mother, Ms Surinder Kaur. We are not vague in reaching the figure of Rs 3,825 crore or $ 850 million’’.

The Chief Minister also held out a warning to the Badals for trying to ‘’intimidate or threaten or cajole’’ the investigating officers or the complainants. ‘’The Vigilance focus will now be on the Badals’ inland ‘benami’ properties and details of their foreign investments and laundering of ill-gotten money. The Badals are frustrated and panicky. It was for them now to explain the charges.”

Political observers said that there was an apparent shift in the Captain’s style of functioning. It was not the usual Badal-centric as he had talked of decentralisation of administrative and financial powers to the Panchayati Raj institutions, performance- based postings and transfers and impending shake-up in the civil administration, stress on good governance and community policing.

On rasta roko and chakka jam, Capt Amarinder Singh said it was virtually a non-event, involving protest sit-in by the hardcore Akalis at 41 places in the state with a strength varying from 50 to 300 and the maximum up to 1,000, say in Ferozepore, Bathinda and Muktsar. ‘’Who will side with the corruption? Politically, the state’s atmosphere may seem vitiated but not on corruption issue.” He invited officials who had paid money to the Badals to seek favours to come forward. ‘’The government will protect such officers. We will also reward the Vigilance team investigating the Badals’ case.”

Referring to the leakage of certain documents of the challan before it was presented to the court, Capt Amarinder Singh said the matter was being probed and those responsible would be taken to task. He refused to divulge the amount incurred, so far, on the investigations.


Bureau to serve summons on Badals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today collected the summons against the Badals and a close associate of theirs from a Ropar court and these would be served on them by dispatching various parties tomorrow.

According to sources in the bureau, the summons were received from the Court of Special Judge, Mr S.K Goyal, who on the day of the filing of the challan summoned all six accused named in the challan to appear in the court on December 1.

Besides the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, notices will be served on his wife, Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, his son and Rajya Sabha member, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, and their close associate, Mr Narottam Singh Dhillon, alias Nims. While Mr Dhillon is on bail, the two other co-accused — Mr Harbans Lal and Mr Jagnandan Singh — who are also close to the Badals are already in judicial custody.

Sources in the bureau said teams would be deputed to serve the summons on four of the accused in person, wherever they are found. The parties will be dispatched to their ancestral village at Badal, the official residence of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal in Sector 2 at Chandigarh and the official residence of the Rajya Sabha member , Mr Sukhbir Badal, besides few other places, asking them to appear in court. 


Legal experts, VB to be consulted in Badal case
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, November 24
The Punjab Vidhan Sabha Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, today said that the sanction to commit corruption case registered against Mr Parkash singh Badal in court for trial would be given after taking opinion of legal experts and taking into account the arguments of the Vigilance Bureau (VB).

Dr Kewal Krishan, who was here today to preside over the annual prize distribution function of DAV Public School, said that in the past, the Vidhan Sabha had witnessed unnecessary controversy between Capt Amarinder Singh and Mr Badal over the issue of corruption and it had been generating “unpleasant” political environment in the state.

“With the commission of corruption case against Mr Badal in the court for trial the controversies will be over and all things become crystal clear. It will also give an opportunity to Mr Badal to prove his innocence,” said Dr Kewal Krishan. He added that when Mr Badal comes out from the court as innocent, he (Dr Kewal Krishan) would be the first person to garland him and escort him to the Vidhan Sabha.

He claimed that the sanction from the Punjab Governor for committing the corruption case for trial in court was necessary as Mr Badal was a member of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha and was sworn in as MLA by him.

He said that if the Vigilance Bureau sought sanction for launching a case against any corrupt Congress minister, it would be given sanction without delay. Later, he addressed the students. He also announced a grant of Rs 50,000 for the school apart from distributing the prizes. 


Hundreds booked for blocking roads
Our Correspondents

Ropar, November 24
A day after Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) workers staged dharnas on roads to protest against the filing of challan against party chief Parkash Singh Badal, the Ropar police booked 21 workers of the SAD and BJP. In a press note issued here, the district SSP, Mr Surinder Pal Singh, said workers of the two parties had been arrested for blocking traffic in Ropar and Kharar and inciting the general public.

Those against whom the cases have been registered at Ropar and Kharar include Mr Pritam Singh Salomajra, district president of the SAD, Mr Jarnail Singh Aulakh, SGPC member from Anandpur Sahib, Mr Amar Singh Pheora, Mr Kulwant Singh Paprala, a former SGPC member, Bibi Satwant Kaur Sandhu, former minister and MLA from Chamakur Sahib, Mr Tara Singh Ladal, a former state minister, Mr Gurinder Singh Gogi, district president of the youth wing of the SAD, Mr Ajit Singh, Municipal Councillor, Anandpur Sahib, Mr Gurmeet Singh Makrona, Mr Sohan Singh, sarpanch of Dehan village in Anandpur Sahib, Mr Amarjit Singh Satyal, president of the local Singh Sabha Gurdwara, Mr Gurdev Singh Kohli, Mr Indersen Chattwal, former president of the Ropar Municipal Council, Mr Kiranvir Singh Kang, vice-president of the district SAD, Mr Gurpratap Singh Riar, SGPC member, Mr Sadhu Singh Todar Majra, SGPC member, Mr Amrik Singh, circle jathedar, SAS Nagar, Mr Rajbir Singh, general secretary of the district SAD, Mr Ujjagar Singh Wadali, Mr Mohinder Singh Mundi and Mr Jagpal Singh Todar Majra.

These leaders have been booked under Section 153, 283, 341 and 149 of the IPC. A case has also been registered against 60 or 70 unidentified persons who participated in the dharnas along with these leaders yesterday. Raids were being conducted to arrest booked SAD and BJP workers, the SSP said.

HOSHIARPUR: The local police has registered a case under various Sections of the IPC against former minister Mohinder Kaur Josh, Varinder Singh Bajwa, district president, SAD, and 150 other SAD-BJP leaders and workers of this district for obstructing traffic at Prabhat Chowk on the Hoshiarpur-Jalandhar road during the rasta-roko agitation yesterday.

PHAGWARA: Criminal cases have been registered here against 190 SAD-BJP activists under Sections 283, 341 and 149, IPC, for obstructing traffic, wrongful restraint and unlawful assembly. The cases have been registered following Sunday’s rasta-roko agitation by SAD-BJP activists at Gol Chowk here and Khajurala village on the GT Road.

Prominent among those booked are former Punjab Assembly Speaker and Akali leader Charanjit Singh Atwal, former Punjab ministers Manoranjan Kalia and Swarna Ram, and former BJP MLAs Bhagat Chuni Lal and Laxmi Kanta Chawla.

JALANDHAR: The local police has registered a case under various sections of the IPC against SAD leaders, including former minister and MLA Ajit Singh Kohar and former legislator Sarwan Singh Phillaur, for holding a protest which affected the “smooth flow” of traffic on the GT Road here on Sunday.


Rasta roko political gimmick, says Congress
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Coming down heavily on the chakka jam and rasta roko agitation of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( SAD), the President of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, Mr H.S Hanspal, today described it as a political gimmick of Mr Parkash Singh Badal to save himself from the law of the land.

In a statement issued here today, Mr Hanspal lashed out at Mr Badal for trying to intimidate the people of the state, the government and the judicial administration by using such pressure tactics. The challan against the Badals was filed by the Vigilance Bureau in the disproportionate assets case in a Ropar Court on Saturday and the rasta roko agitation by the Akalis was a fall out of the same.


4 Akali leaders booked
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 24
More than 24 hours after leaders and activists of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) and other Akali organisations staged a demonstration at Samrala Chowk here to protest against the presenting of challans against Mr Parkash Singh Badal and other relatives, the police booked four Akali leaders, besides several supporters for obstructing traffic and wrongfully restraining public yesterday.

A FIR was registered this evening against five Akali leaders — Mr Amrik Singh Aliwal, Mr Hira Singh Gabria, Mr Amarjit Bhatia, Mr Avtar Singh Makkar and Baba Ajit Singh. The FIR was lodged on the complaint of ASI Balwant Singh.

Noone has been arrested.


PCS (Judicial) results declared: 48 successful
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
In just over two months after the Punjab and Haryana High Court conducted the examinations for selecting PCS judicial officers, the roll numbers of 48 candidates declared successful in the interviews were declared this evening after a full court meeting attended by the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, and other Judges.

As per the available information, the roll numbers are: 1421, 1105, 1197, 1370, 1441, 1048, 1240, 1289, 1205, 1030, 1424, 1120, 1206, 1430, 1341, 1064, 1235, 1147, 1016, 1363, 1398, 1088, 1307, 1344, 1080, 1153, 1365, 1473, 1084, 1467, 1349, 1102, 1236, 1198, 1220, 1359, 1061, 1481, 1152, 1083, 1348, 1285, 1067, 1371, 1281, 1209, 1160 and 1221.

The examinations were conducted just over a year after the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) recruitment scam rocked the state with its startling revelations. The development was considered significant as the tests were conducted by the High Court for the first time.

It may be recalled that work was initially withdrawn from 39 PCS judicial officers. Subsequently, the High Court had recommended their termination from service to the Punjab Government. The termination of 18 others awaiting posting orders was also recommended.

According to highly placed sources in the High Court, the officers were appointed during the tenure of PPSC's under-suspension Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh Sidhu. The sources had claimed that the officers were appointed between 1999 and 2001.

They had also claimed that the earlier decision to withdraw judicial work from these officers was taken on August 12 last year during a Full Court meeting attended by the then Chief Justice and other judges of the High Court. They had added that the decision was taken on the basis of recommendations made by a committee specially constituted for looking into the matter.

They had further added that the committee, comprising the then Chief Justice and certain other Judges of the High Court, had recommended the withdrawal of work after going through the answer sheets and other relevant documents placed before it. The sources had stated that the documents pertaining to 18 other judicial officers, awaiting postings, were also studied and it was decided during the meeting not to issue the posting orders to them.

Subsequently, a three-Judge Bench of the High Court had dismissed over 90 petitions filed by PCS officers terminated by the state of Punjab. They were recruited in the executive, judicial and allied services. 


14-yr-old tortured by police for petty theft
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 24
A box of sweets and two suit pieces were what a 14-year-old dalit boy was accused of stealing. Internal injuries was what he allegedly received at the hands of the Julkan police station police. The boy’s family claimed that he was kept in the police station for one full day, during which police personnel walked on his body and forcibly parted his legs to inflict injuries.

Sanjeev Kumar was admitted to Government Rajindra Hospital today. His medical examination, including X-ray, have been conducted. The reports are likely to be received tomorrow. Sanjeev’s uncle Garja Singh said there was a wedding in their village — Aarukalan — on November 10 and 11 where two suits and a box of sweets were alleged to have gone missing. Garja said Sanjeev was accused of having stolen these objects. He said though Sanjeev and his family denied he had done so, the village panchayat decided that he should be questioned by the police in this regard.

He said some panchayat members took Sanjeev to the Julkan police station. He alleged that the police employees there resorted to torturing the boy to make him admit that he had committed the alleged theft. “The boy when tortured, admitted to knowing where the stolen goods had been hidden”, Garja said. However, the search of the said premises did not yield anything, he added.

The family said that due to intense groupism in the village, Sanjeev was also forced by those against him to name another boy in the village in the case. The family members claimed that the boy was tortured five times during the day and was let off only in the evening. They said since Sanjeev was complaining of intense body pain, he was shifted to the Government Rajindra hospital here today.

Meanwhile, Sanjiv seemed to be in a state of shock when The Tribune team visited the hospital. He, however, said that he had been tortured by the police. Sanjeev’s brother said that police personnel had walked on the boy besides parting his legs excessively. Though the boy’s legs were a little swollen, no clear injury marks were visible on his body.

Julkan SHO Rajwinder Singh, who was also in the hospital by the boy’s side, said he was yet to confirm as to what had happened. He said as per the boy’s family, Sanjeev had been accompanied by panchayat members when he was taken to the police station and that he was handed back to the panchayat. The SHO assured the family that an inquiry would be conducted and action taken against policeman found guilty.


Indian culture infatuates US don
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, November 24
His favourite Indian food includes “dal” and “aloo-gobhi” and he loves listening to Hindustani classical music, both vocal and instrumental, besides having a huge collection of “sufiyana kalaams” rendered by various artistes, including the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Abida Parveen. It seems Prof Richard Buttny, a teacher of intercultural communication at Syracuse University in New York, actually believes in practising what he teaches.

Dr Buttny, a Professor in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies, who has been training students for the past 20 years, is currently in the city on a 42-day Senior Fullbright Scholarship. “I am here to teach as well as learn” says Dr Buttny, adding “I chose to come here as I have always been interested in closely examining the intercultural mix that is India.” A fan of Shehnai maestro Ustad Bismillah Khan and flautist Pandit Hari Prasad Chaurasia, the Professor admits being infatuated by the cultural environment of India.

The Professor has been holding daily classes for students of the Department of Journalism in Punjabi University on two subjects, Intercultural Communication and Qualitative Research Methods.

He is about to embark on a survey in nearby villages to examine the impact of television in rural Punjab along with the students of the department. He plans to teach different modes of interview and analysis to the students, besides trying to get across the essential cultural differences between the two nations.

The focus of the syllabi used in the journalism department here is print and electronic communication, whereas in Syracuse, more stress is laid on human communication, explains Dr Buttny. He is impressed by the respect the university teachers enjoy here. “In the USA the relationship between students and their teachers is based more on friendship rather than regard”.

Talking about his recent guest lecture at Kurukshetra University, he said “I was nearly an hour and a half late for the lecture as the train got stalled en route. But I was amazed to find the students still waiting for me. There’s no chance that an American student is going to wait that long for a teacher,” he observes.

Coming back to Patiala, what is the image that struck him most on entering the city? In response, Dr Buttny relates an interesting incident when he visited a city bazaar to buy a set of clothes. “On a single narrow road, I found myself struck between a bus, a truck, a horse-cart, a cycle-rickshaw loaded with long protruding pipes, four people riding a single motorbike, a cow and a couple of dogs”, recounts the Professor.

The Professor will be joined by his wife after the scholarship period and plans to see India for a fortnight before flying back home. “People here are very friendly and receptive. It has been a very fulfilling experience,” he sums up.


Padamjit, a living legend of PSEB
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Padamjit SinghChandigarh, November 24
Among nearly one lakh employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), he has become a living legend in his own right. All love him and praise his extraordinary simplicity, honesty and competence.

The man is Mr Padamjit Singh, who will bid adieu to the Board in a few days from now after serving it with distinction for about 35 years. He is retiring on November 30 as Chief Engineer( System Operation).

It was Mr Padamjit Singh’s efforts that the PSEB saved Rs 85 crore this year during the paddy season. He planned the purchase of power from the national grid and other sources in such a manner that it resulted in huge savings. He purchased maximum power during off-peak hours when it was available at the cheapest rates.

His trademark is his decades-old two-wheeler — the bicycle. Though as a Chief Engineer he is entitled to an official car, he never avails the facility. He moves about on the bicycle from one office to the other to attend to official business. However, whenever he has to go out from his headquarters at Patiala, he takes the car from the official pool.

“In the present era of bloated egos and official status-flaunting, not to use the official car is a big sacrifice. I often see officers even with smaller status cribbing in case they are not provided with a fancy pen stand, glass and table lamp on their official desk”, says a Superintendent of the PSEB.

“No one has ever raised an accusing finger at Mr Padamjit Singh. Most of the engineers join government service to be rich overnight, but Mr Padamjit Singh has been helping the needy from his pocket. When corruption is all-pervading, Mr Padamjit Singh has become a model for several engineers for his uprightness and honesty. He was honoured this year with the prestigious the Baba Farid Award by Baba Farid Society for his spotless service record. He has the habit to reach office well before the official hours.

Mr Padamjit Singh, who did his Senior Cambridge from the famed Doon School where late Rajiv Gandhi and others like Capt Amarinder Singh were seniors to him and passed his B.Tech (Electrical) from IIT, Delhi, has made enormous contribution to the power engineering profession. Wherever he served, he left his mark by intelligent and straightforward way of working.

He has led power engineers at national, regional and state levels in various positions such as president, general secretary of associations of engineers. He once headed the All-Indian Power Engineers Federation, besides being president of the PSEB Engineers Association.

He belongs to an illustrious family. His father was a doctor in the Army and saw action in the Second World War in the Middle East, and mother, Dr Davinder Kaur, did Ph.D in psychology from London University in 1928.His elder brother Sqd Ldr Pritam Singh, died in an air crash in 1967 and the other is settled in the USA. His sister, Jasjit Kaur, has written biographies, including of Gen P.S. Bhagat.

About a year ago, Mr Padamjit Singh was shifted from the office of System Operation as he had refused to endorse the contract to buy power through private brokers at unreasonable rates. But after a few months, his transfer was cancelled and he was posted again in the System Operation office.

Mr Padamjit Singh has the plans to settle in Delhi to work at the national level with top retired power experts such as Mr Ashok Rao. “ It will be a big loss to Punjab’s power sector. It will be good if Punjab utilises his service for a better cause”, say his engineer colleagues.


Kuldip Singh, Neki for scrapping of gurdwara Act
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, November 24
Even as the general house of the SGPC has passed a unanimous resolution for the enactment of the All-India Gurdwara Act, Justice Kuldip Singh, former chief of the World Sikh Council and Chairman of the Delimitation Commission, Government of India, along with Sikh scholar J.S. Neki (former director of PGI) have sought the scrapping of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925.

They opined that instead of elections there should be selection of the religious leaders for managing the gurdwaras. The Sikh Gurdwara Act was grossly misused by religious leaders having vested interests in the appointment of Sikh high priests and removal of jathedars who failed to toe the line of those at the helm of affairs. The Act had also been misused by successive governments in the past, they added.

Justice Kuldip Singh said the Act had contributed to the reformation of the management of the gurdwaras in the beginning. However, there was no need of such an Act under the prevailing circumstances. He said the new draft for selecting religious leaders cold be prepared on the lines of the People’s Representative Act.

He criticised the removal of Bhai Ranjit Singh and Giani Puran Singh as jathedars in the past. He said except for Bhai Ranjit Singh the successive jathedars remained inactive.


Screen SGPC members, says Bhaur
Tribune news Service

Amritsar, November 24
The newly elected general secretary of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, today urged the Jathedar, Akal Takht, to screen all SGPC members and their families for trace of apostacy (patit). In case any member or anyone in their family was found guilty of apostacy, the Jathedar should take corrective measures, he added.

Talking to mediapersons at the SGPC’s information office here today, Mr Bhaur said that such a step would pacify those who had been criticising certain SGPC members for violating Sikh maryada.

Without naming Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Bhaur alleged that certain forces had lobbied against him during the recently concluded elections of the SGPC.

He was sore over being sidelined for the post of senior vice-president. Several SGPC members had allegedly warned Mr Parkash Singh Badal, a former Chief Minister, against electing Mr Bhaur.


Bhaur unhurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 24
Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, newly elected General Secretary of the SGPC, met with a minor accident today when his car collided with a motor cycle at Sant Avenue. He was on way to the Golden Temple. The headlight and windshield of the car were shattered. However, no one was injured. 


Govt recognises Nanakshahi calendar, says Badungar
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 24
Senior Shiromani Akali Dal leader and former SGPC President Kirpal Singh Badungar today claimed that the Punjab government had virtually recognised the Nanakshahi calendar by advancing the official holiday to mark the martyrdom day of Guru Teg Bahadur to November 24 from November 28.

In a statement here, the Akali leader said the government had the habit of taking “wrong” decisions and then reversing them when the people rejected them. The state government had said that it would send the SGPC demand on Sikh religious holidays to the Central government, he added.

However, soon the government had realised that people accepted the Nanakshahi calendar and it was forced to recognise it. The Akali leader demanded that the government should now officially accept the Nanakshahi calendar.


District Diary
Pak qawwals enthral
Monica Ahluwalia

PATIALA: Javed Bashir Khan, renowned Pakistani qawwal, along with his troupe visited the city to give message of peace and harmony all the way from Pakistan here recently.

Javed Bashir Khan was accompanied by his three brothers — Amir Ali, Akbar Ali and Asif Ali. The troupe enthralled the audience with its mind blowing performances at a qawwali night organised at the state Language Department.

The troupe was here to provide music for the play “Bulle Shah” performed here by Pakistani theatre group “Ajoka”.

The play was directed by Madeeha Gauhar. The main aim of the production was to promote the cause of Indo-Pak peace through the medium of theatre. The play depicted the rich and vibrant culture of Punjab.


A three-day teachers’ training camp was held at Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Patiala.

Sixty teachers from primary and elementary schools of the district attended the camp. Speaking on the occasion, Dr Vijay Kapoor said such camps helped teachers to guide, support and teach students and make them good citizens, better children of a family and guardian of the nation. Dr Parminder Singh, Surinder Kaur and Dr Kaka Ram Verma from the Red Cross Society also spoke.


Keeping in view the inconvenience created by the use of loudspeakers in the city, Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh has banned the use of loudspeakers by various religious places and marriage palaces till January 16 next year.

Mr Tejveer Singh said no marriage palace and religious places could use loudspeakers without permission.


The Acharya Atma Ram Jain memorial lecture on the topic “Religion (dharma) — a social necessity” was organised by the Guru Gobind Singh Religious Studies Department of Punjabi University.

Dr R.D. Poddar, renowned Jain scholar from Pune, was the chief guest. While addressing audience, Dr Poddar said religion should not be confined to temples and monasteries alone, rather it should be taken to the academia who should then disseminate knowledge about it to the masses.

He emphasised the need for reorientation of the society towards a true, religious and ethical life. He added that religion was well-equipped to address all problems of the society, but, unfortunately, lack of its proper application stood in the way.



Cold claims life in Punjab

Chandigarh, November 24
An elderly person succumbed to the icy winds that swept across Hariana town of Hoshiarpur district in Punjab, while Amritsar turned out to be the coldest place in the plains of the north-west region during the past 24 hours.

The mercury in the minimum in and around Amritsar today plummetted by 6 degrees below normal to 1.2°C, making it the coldest place this winter so far. However, Hisar in Haryana was hotter by 1 degree at 8.5°C.

Today’s death was the first in Punjab since the onset of winter. The identity of the person could not be established. His body was found near the cremation ground early today, the police said.

Chandigarh and surrounding areas of Punjab and Haryana had the minimum dipping by 1 degree to 8.4°C.

The ground temperature in and around Ambala, Ludhiana and Patiala stayed 3 to 4 degrees below normal today, recording 5.4°C, 5.3°C and 5.6°C, respectively. — UNI


9 buffaloes perish in fire

Barnala, November 24
Nine buffaloes and a bull were charred to death in a fire which broke out on Saturday night in Majhooke village, near here according to a delayed report received here.

Six of the buffaloes died on the spot, while three other buffaloes and the bull died on Sunday. Darshan Singh of Majhooke village had kept his these 10 animals in a separate room. The cause of the fire was not known. — UNI



Anticipatory bail for Badal’s nephew
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
Acting on a petition filed by Punjab's former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal's nephew Manpreet Badal for the grant of pre-arrest bail in an alleged corruption and cheating case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today granted him interim anticipatory bail.

Pronouncing the orders in an open court, Mr Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel of the High Court also fixed January 20 as the next date of hearing in the case. Mr Manpreet Badal was seeking bail in connection with a case registered at a police station in Zira in Ferozepore district under the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act, besides under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code.

The case was registered on the basis of a complaint filed by a member of a religious dera. Seeking the grant of bail, Mr Manpreet Badal had claimed that the complaint was totally false. His counsel had added on the petitioner's behalf that Mr Manpreet Badal was being implicated in the matter.

Report on safety steps sought

In less than six months after a series of three blasts at the Ranbaxy plant in Mohali sent panic waves among residents, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has asked Ropar's District and Sessions Judge to submit a report regarding the adoption of safety measures.

Issuing the directions, a Division Bench of the court, headed by the Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, directed that the report should be submitted by the Judge after visiting the factory.

In its detailed order, the Bench also issued notice to the organisation through its Managing Director for filing an affidavit regarding the allegations published in a local newspaper.

The paper had stated that the factory was using hazardous gases for production of medicines. It was likely to affect the lives and properties of at least half a million residents of Mohali, Chandigarh and surrounding areas as it happened in the Bhopal gas tragedy in December 1984.

Rape by cops: notice issued

In less than four years after a Dehra Dun district resident was allegedly thrown out of a train, along with her son, following rape by police officials, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the issuance of notice to an Executive Magistrate.

The court has already ordered a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the incident.

Taking up the case, the Bench, comprising Mr S.S. Nijjar and Mr S.S. Grewal, ruled that a perusal of a previous order dated September 16 (handing over the probe to the CBI) prima facies showed that an explanation was necessary from the then Deputy Superintendent of Police and an Executive Magistrate "who sought to produce fabricated documents to shield the real culprits".

The court, on September 16, had ruled that "it was unfortunate that an officer holding the post of an Executive Magistrate became a party to the unsavoury attempts made by the police officials to shield the culprits...."

The victim was on her way to Saharanpur via Ludhiana when she was allegedly raped by the security guards on the train.

Her son, also thrown out, had succumbed to his injuries at a hospital in Sangrur where the two were admitted after the incident.

Going into the background, the petitioner had submitted that the police officials on guard duty had tried to molest her on November 27, 1999, after finding her alone in a compartment.

Later on, she became unconscious due to the mixing of intoxicant in her tea at the previous station. She gained consciousness only to find herself lying next to the tracks. Her son too was lying there with injuries. 


Improvement Trust denied right to charge more for corner flats
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 24
The district consumer forum of Ropar has denied the Improvement Trust, Ropar, the right to charge extra price for the corner flats.

In a complaint before forum, Vijay Kumar Sahdev, a resident of Ropar, had alleged that the Improvement, Trust Ropar, had demanded application for demand survey of duplex flats in 1992. He applied for a B-II category flat depositing a fee of Rs 1,000. In 1994 the trust authorities asked him to deposit an earnest money of Rs 29,000 as 10 per cent of the revised cost of the flat. He deposited the demanded amount.

In 1994, however, the same scheme was once again advertised with revised conditions. According to the revised conditions he was directed to deposit an additional Rs 43,500 which was 15 per cent of the total sale consideration. The demanded amount was deposited by the complainant.

However, when he was allotted the flat once again Rs 29,000 excess of the total price of Rs 2.9 lakh was demanded from him on plea that he was allotted the corner flat.

The complainant alleged that the corner flat did not give him any undue advantage. The facilities in his flat were the same as provided to all other applicants. He demanded the refund of the extra charges for the corner flat charged from him and a compensation for the alleged harassment he had to undergo at the hands of the trust authorities.

The trust authorities in their reply filed before the forum maintained that extra charges for the corner flat were levied on the complainant as per the instructions given in memo No. 10231 issued by the Punjab government on August 7, 1998. They also maintained that the corner flat had the extra facility of connectivity with two roads due to which the extra charges were justified.

The forum comprising the president, Mr JP Gupta and member Mr SK Bhatia, however, held that the charging of extra price for the corner flat was unjustified. They directed the Ropar Improvement Trust authorities extra charges for the corner flat to the complainant along with the interest which amounts to Rs 71,630 (Rs 29,000 the principal amount and Rs 42,630 as interest) The trust authorities were also directed to pay a compensation of Rs 10,000 and litigation cost of Rs 1,500 to the complainant. The amount is to be paid within 30 days after which it would carry an interest at the rate of 9 per cent per annum.



Fast-track courts soon at Patiala, Jalandhar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Mr Justice B.K. Roy, has accorded approval for setting up of two fast-track courts for the trial of corruption cases registered by the Vigilance Bureau. The decision, according to Punjab Government, is significant as “it will further strengthen the anti-corruption drive launched by it”.

Quoting a communique received from the High Court Registrar, a press note today released by the Punjab Public Relations Department said Capt Amarinder Singh’s request for setting up fast-track courts had been duly considered and approved by a full court.

In the letter, the Registrar also asked the government to provide the necessary infrastructure for setting up the courts at Patiala and Jalandhar, the release added.

Officials of the Punjab Home Department revealed that the necessary infrastructure, involving a financial expenditure of about Rs 25 lakh per annum, would be provided soon for enabling the setting up of the courts.

Welcoming the decision, the Chief Minister said it would go a long way in expediting trials of cases registered by the state Vigilance Bureau under the Anti-Corruption Act.


Entry to judicial complex restricted
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 24
Keeping in view the sensitive nature of the cases under trail in the Special Court here the District and Sessions Judge has banned the entry of unauthorised persons in the Ropar judicial complex.

A notice pasted outside the court complex said orders had been issued to avoid any unforeseen happening. The notice states ‘persons only connected with cases be allowed to enter judicial courts’ complex.

For the purpose an official i.e. ahlmad/Addl. Ahlmad/ececution clerk from each court will be present on the main gate of the complex from 9.30 am to 10 am along with the cause list. they will know the identity of the persons concerned with cases from the cause list and will allow only those persons to enter the judicial complexes are who connected with cases. The officials will be assisted by security guards at the gates.


Govt clears Nangal picnic spot
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), November 24
The Local Self Government Department has cleared a picnic spot project at Nangal. The sources said that the Secretary, Local Government, had cleared the formation of a committee under Deputy Commissioner, Ropar Ms Seema Jain to oversee construction of the picnic spot on the banks of Sutlej in Dobeta colony of Nangal.

Earlier the department of Local Bodies Punjab had rejected the proposal of the project mooted by the Nangal Council.

However, the council authorities now has been directed to send a fresh resolution for the clearance of the project. In the new proposal, however, certain facilities proposed in the initial resolution has the shopping complex and restaurant removed.

The said project was mooted by Deputy Commissioner Ms Seema Jain to boost the economy of the Nangal town by promoting tourism. Economy of Nangal was hit following the closure of the local Punjab National Fertilisers and Chemicals (PNFC) unit and decreased perks of the employees of the National Fertilisers and Punjab Alkalis and Chemical (PACL).

Every year nearly 3-5 lakh tourists visit the Bkakra Dam and the adjoining Naina Devi shrine. Since there was no halting place at Naina Devi shrine or Bhakra Dam, it was proposed that the proposed spot at Nangal could serve the purpose. Facilities like boating, restaurant, parks and a small market place were proposed at the spot. The Deputy Commissioner when confirmed that the project had been cleared by the Local Self Government department.


IMA, admn impasse ends
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 24
The impasse between district administration and the Indian Medical Association (IMA), district unit following the registration of criminal complaints against a section of doctors by the local PNDT Cell for their alleged involvement in the facilitation of female foeticide today came to an end.

The impasse ended this evening when the state unit of IMA pledged that it would not spare any doctor found guilty of conducting sex determination tests and female foeticide and the district administration agreed to keep all those doctors, against whom criminal complaints had been filed in different courts for their alleged involvement in the facilitation of female foeticide, as witnesses and not accused.

The impasse between IMA and the district administration had begun the Deputy Commissioner, when Mr Anurag Aggarwal, refused to withdraw the criminal complaints registered against a section of doctors of this district and the IMA boycotted the meeting convened by Mr Aggarwal on November 18 to listen to their grievances.

The meeting, which was held at camp office of the Deputy Commissioner, was attended by him, Dr Kuldeep Singh, President, IMA, Punjab and Dr H.S. Narang, President, IMA, Bathinda. Other senior functionaries of IMA, Punjab and Bathinda were also present at the meeting.

The IMA, while appreciating the pilot project launched to check female foeticide by Mr Aggarwal, also promised its full support to it.

Mr Aggarwal said the district administration would keep all doctors carrying out ultra sound test on pregnant women, as witnesses instead of accused in the court complaints, which would be filed in the cases where it was found that female foeticide had been carried out. Mr Aggarwal said in the earlier complaints filed in different courts against a section of doctors by keeping them as accused under various sections of the IPC and PNDT Act, a rejoinder would be filed to make them as witnesses.


Assurance to sacked panchayat secys
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 24
The Punjab Government today assured the 909 panchayat secretaries who were terminated from service last year that they would be reinstated soon. But the reinstatement will be subject to the decision of the Punjab and Haryana High Court where a case regarding their removal from service is pending.

Official sources confirmed that Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today arranged a meeting of the representatives of the sacked panchayat secretaries with Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh. Certain senior officers of the Panchayat Department were also present at the meeting.

The sources said that Mrs Bhattal recommended the case of panchayat secretaries for reinstatement. She told the Chief Minister that development work in the rural areas was suffering in the absence of panchayat secretaries. At present one panchayat secretary is looking after about 15 panchayats, whereas for three panchayats there should be one secretary.

Among those who participated in the meeting on behalf of the panchayat secretaries were Mr Gurjivan Singh Brar, Mr Pargat Singh Jalalabad, Mr Khushminder Singh, Mr Baljinder Singh, Mr Varinder and Mr Sanjeev Soni.

The Chief Minister was told that the handing over the supervisory functions of certain departments to panchayats would not be succesful until panchayat secretaries were posted to play the role of link between panchayats and the government.

Last week, the Punjab Government reinstated 470 panchayat secretaries who were recruited in 1996 and 1997, but sacked later.


Three killed in road mishaps
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 24
Three persons, including a woman, were killed in two separate road accidents on Sunday evening.

According to reports Jasvir Singh, a resident of Maur Mandi, and his brother-in-law were killed when the jeep in which they were travelling collided with a bus while they were returning to Burjmuhar. Jasvir Singh died on the spot, and his brother-in-law was seriously injured and succumbed to injuries later.

The bodies were handed over to the relatives after the post-mortem examination today. In another accident a woman, identified as Birma Devi, was killed and two others were injured seriously after they were hit by a jeep on the Abohar-Seetogunno road here yesterday.

The driver of the jeep sped away after the incident. Injured women have been admitted to the local civil hospital.

The deceased was a widow and is survived by three minor children.


Cop held for forcing entry into bank
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 24
Police constable Jaspal Singh of Gurdaspur was allegedly caught by chowkidar and three labourers of Punjab and Sind Bank while he was sifting through files of the bank at 5.30 P.M. today.

According to Mr Sudershan Singh, bank’s computer operator who filed the complaint, the bank was closed on account of a holiday and the workers were cleaning the interior when the constable was told that the manager was not there he went and started sifting through the files. Mr Sudershan said Jaspal was the same constable from Naushera Maja Singh who was accused in a case by the bank for ‘tempering with lists’ of old-age pensioners which the Civil Lines branch provided to disburse the pension amount. The police has taken the accused into custody.


8 arrested for fleecing tourists
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 24
The Gharinda police has apprehended eight members of a gang involved in fleecing travellers, coming from all over the country to see the Retreat ceremony at Wagh border, 30 km from here, today.

The accused were identified as Darshan Singh, his wife Balwinder Kaur and Balwinder Singh all residents of Verka; Vikramjit Singh of Sultanwind village, Balwinder Singh, and Gurmej Singh, residents of Jandiala; Tilak Singh and Sukhjinder Singh, residents of Dholkala village. All of them have been booked under Sections 379 and 401 of the IPC.


Gang of robbers busted, four arrested

Jalandhar, November 24
The district police today busted a four-member gang of robbers involved in looting of train passengers by using eatables mixed with intoxicants.

The district police chief, Mr G.S. Bhullar, stated that the four were arrested from godown of the Punjab Warehousing Corporation at Basti Bawa Khel when they were planning a dacoity.

Those arrested have been identified as Taresh Parshad, Kishana, Raju Choudhary and Bharat Choudhary, all Biharis.

A .12-bore pistol along with three cartridges, a sickle and two iron rods and 80 tablets of ativan were seized from them.

A case under various sections of the IPC and Arms Act has been registered. They would be produced in the court tomorrow. — PTI


Father booked for rape

Barnala, November 24
A case of rape has been registered on the complaint of a 16-year-old girl against her father, a resident of Tapa.

Mr Mohinder Singh Teji, SP (Headquarters), Barnala police district, stated the suspect had been raping his daughter for the past about one year. He further stated that the girl was four months’ pregnant. — OC


20 bags of poppy husk seized

Bathinda, November 24
The police today unearthed an inter-state gang of smugglers of poppy husk. Twenty bags of poppy husk, which were being smuggled from Rajasthan, were seized from the gang members.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said Mandar Singh and Harbans Singh had been arrested in this connection. A case under Sections 15, 61, 85 of the NDPS Act has been registered. — TNS


Guru Nanak never criticised Islam, says scholar
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 24
Oneness of God, and protection of environment according to Guru Nanak’s bani was theme of the scholars who spoke at the academic session of the 34th foundation day celebration of Guru Nanak Dev University held here today. Justice Kuldip Singh, a former Supreme Court judge presided over the celebrations.

Dr Neol Q King, professor Emeritus of History and Comparative Religions University of California, USA speaking on “Sikh Shrines of Guru Nanak in Pakistan revisited” said the message of Guru Nanak was in the university of the divine. Dr King, opined that the Guru’s criticism was never of Islam or its teachings. Citing the example of Bhai Hazrat Mardana he said that the Muslim follower was not only a constant companion of the Guru in every situation but his ability to give appropriate musical vehicle to his bani contributed vitally to the spread of the concept of oneness of God which Guru Nanak preached.

Even today in Pakistan people ask wistfully” what went wrong in 1947.” They prefer friendship and harmony. Prof Shireen Moosvi Aligarh Muslim University and former Secretary of the Indian History Congress delivered her lecture on historical significance of Guru Granth Sahib. She said the inclusion of compositions of other teachers testifies the larger vision of a composite culture of India in Guru Granth Sahib.

Dr JS Neki former Director of the PGI stressed the need for inter-religious dialogue, as no religion could exist in “majestic isolation”. He said in Sikhism the inclusion of works of 23 Hindu bhagats and seven Muslims were ample proof of the assimilation of different religions in the Supreme Being.

Vice-Chancellor Dr SP Singh honoured the guests and presented them with mementoes and sets of university publications. The Pro VC Dr Satinder Singh said the university here nurtured scholars and helped in the upliftment of people of the border belt. To mark the occasion an exhibition of rare books, manuscripts and paintings as also various competitions were held. A cultural programme and show of martial arts was presented.



GGSS school to be made model, says Dy Speaker
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 24
Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, today presided over the annual prize distribution function of Government Girls Senior Secondary School, Sirhind. The function was arranged by the staff in collaboration with Parent Teacher Association.

Addressing the prize distribution function, he recounted his emotional association with the school as his sisters and daughters have studied in this school. He said it was unfortunate that in the education system, the spirit of initiative, command, commitment, accountability and control had been eroding. He said the teaching community was responsible to some extent in bringing a bad name to this profession. He urged the students to work hard and develop work culture if they wanted to succeed in life.

Mr R.N.Sharma, president of the PTA, appreciated the efforts of staff in providing good education to the students. He recounted the various activities and development schemes initiated by the PTA for the welfare of students and staff.

Mr Daya Singh, DEO(S), gave information about the education reforms being initiated in this district. He said efforts were being made to improve the educational standard and to maintain discipline.

Mrs Jaswant Kaur, Principal of the school, read the annual report and highlighted the various achievements of the school in the field of education, sports and cultural activities. She also demanded more funds for the school.

Schoolchildren presented an impressive cultural programme and Mr Bir Devinder Singh gave away the prizes to the winners. He announced that this school would be made a model school of the district.

Mrs Ravinder Kaur, sister of Mr Bir Devinder, who had been student of this school now settled in Canada, donated a water cooler to the school.

He also inaugurated a submersible water pump installed for drinking water in the school.


VC inaugurates youth festival
From Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 24
It was unfortunate that the government had not been able to look after the financial health of universities. Even in advanced and developed countries 60 to 65 per cent of the budget of the universities came from the government, where as in our country the ratio was only 42 per cent, which affect the working of the universities, said Padma Shri Dr Swarn Singh Boparai, Vice Chancellor, Punjabi University Patiala, while talking to The Tribune here today.

He had come to inaugurate the three-day Ropar Zone Youth Festival of the university being organised by Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib. Students from 22 colleges are competing for various events in the festival.

He said that the politicians had played a big role in running the affairs of the universities but the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had insulated universities from politics.

Expressing concern over the poor performance of boys in the field of education, he said it was a matter of concern that the boys were not taking their studies seriously. He said 80 per cent of merit positions in the university were bagged by the girl students.

Stressing the need for changing over from the annual system of examination to semester system for improvement in education, he said India was only among the two or three countries of world, which were sticking to the annual system of examinations.

Later he inaugurated the youth festival and called upon the students to maintain, discipline and to participate in co-curricular activities for their overall development of their personality. Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia, Principal of the college welcomed the guests and read the annual report.

Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, Mrs. Daisy Walia Head, Music Department Punjabi University, Dr Sunita Dhir, Director Youth Welfare, also addressed.


Inter-college contests organised
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 24
Inter-college competitions were held in folk art, photography and painting to mark the 34th foundation day of Guru Nanak Dev University here today.

Shaheed Darshan Singh Pheruman College, Rayya, bagged the top position in folk art while the local BBK DAV College was the runner-up, and HMV College, Jalandhar, and the DAV College for Education stood third.

Ritika of local BBK DAV College stood first in painting, Varinder Kaur of the APJ College of Fine Art, Jalandhar, second and Sameer of the local DAV College stood third.

Cherry Wadhwa of the local BBK DAV College stood first in black-and-white photography while Bhawna of the same college bagged the second position in computer-aided photography.


Business premises of 10 colonisers surveyed
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 24
The Income Tax Department officials surveyed official premises of 10 real estate developers and agents of this and its surrounding towns today seized documents relating real estate transactions running in crores.

Official sources said that surveys were done of the official premises of certain real estate developers, colonisers and real estate agents of this region when the Income Tax authorities had got the information that these people had been making money without meeting tax liabilities. It was suspected that “underworld dons” and a section of politicians had invested black money in this business.

Purpose of the surveys which started from the morning till late evening, was to detect the Income Tax evasion by these real estate developers, agents and colonisers. The IT authorities felt that though transaction in the real estate of crores had been taking place in this region, there was negligible increase in the Income Tax revenue from the region.

The documents seized today would be scanned to verify the fact that whether underworld dons and politicians had also invested in the real estate business.

“We will write to the Punjab government for taking necessary legal steps against those real estate agents, who were found involved in investing the unaccounted money belonging to underworld dons and politicians in the real estate business”, pointed out an Income Tax official to The Tribune.

The survey was conducted by eight teams comprising more than 100 Income Tax officials, drawn from Abohar, Muktsar, Mansa and Faridkot apart from Bathinda-based office. Additional Commissioner IT Sanjay Mishra coordinated the surveys.

Income Tax officials revealed that most of the real estate developers, agents and colonisers indulged in the concealment of real worth of land transactions by getting them registered at lease for the less value while purchasing and selling the same. Apart from it, they were purchasing the land from farmers in big chunks and had been selling the same to retail customers without involving themselves in the same by getting the land transferred to the purchasers from the farmers.

Sources revealed that in the past two years, ever since the Congress came to power in Punjab, prices of real estate in towns started witnessing upward trend and after the city was given the Municipal Corporation status prices of real estate rose suddenly. In the past two years, this town and surrounding areas witnessed transaction in real estate whose value ran into hundreds of crores of rupees.

Mr L.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, Bathinda, said that if the documents seized from official premises of these people revealed that they had evaded Sale Tax, the state government would be informed to take action as per law.

He added that the IT authorities would seek information from different agencies of the state government when the documents seized today would be investigated to work out the total evasion of Income Tax by these people. He said that no state government agency would be allowed to enter into the investigation by the IT department.

He said that it would take two weeks or so to work out the evasion of Income Tax.

Bankers seek action against defaulters
Our Correspondent

Patiala, November 24
The All-India Bank Employees Association (AIBEA) today demanded that the government should take action to expeditiously recover the increasing non-performing assets.

The association further said the government should attach the properties of the corporate defaulters to recover the dues, besides publishing the list of the defaulters. They added that while the interest on loans to the corporate and retail sectors had reduced, agriculture loans continued to be costly both in commercial and cooperative banks.

The association demanded a reduction in the interest rate on loans to agriculture and the rural sector as their interests were being ignored. They further said that nearly 75 per cent of the total deposits in the banks came from the domestic sector but the interest on them was redwing every year (from 13 per cent to 5.5 per cent), making it the most unattractive and driving them to private channels.

The association further alleged that under the ‘Buy Back of High Yielding Government Securities’ scheme, the government was purchasing its own bonds again at the present higher market rate and allowing the banks to book profits to be exclusively used for NPA reduction.

The association also opposed the government’s decision to allow foreign direct investments up to 74 per cent of the capital in banks. On November 27, dharnas will be staged throughout the country against various policies affecting the banking sector.

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