P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



State geared up to foil Akali gathering
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
Anticipating a huge gathering of Akali workers at Ropar tomorrow, the police has rounded up 1,154 workers, including two MLAs, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas and Mr Gura Singh Tungwali, in different districts. Mr Iqbal Singh Chairman of Punjab Agricultural Development Bank, Bathinda and SGPC member Surmukh Singh Mokha (Sangrur) have also been held. This had been done to foil any bid to disrupt the proceedings of the special court, where Mr Parkash Singh Badal is to appear, according to a government spokesperson.

He also said that the rounded-up Akali workers had been booked under Section 107/51 of the Cr.Pc., police nakas had been set up in and around Ropar district, where Section 144 Cr.PC. had also been promulgated.

Several appropriate steps have been taken throughout Punjab to prevent Akalis in assembling in large numbers, in a show of solidarity with their leader, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is to appear in a corruption case against him and his family before the Additional District and Sessions Judge, Ropar.

The Chief Minister, Capt. Amarinder Singh, today said that to ensure peace and to maintain law and order, all necessary steps would be taken and police deployed in strength.

The Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, told TNS that no large gatherings of Akalis would be allowed on the court premises.

In the high-profile case that comes up tomorrow, the challan by the vigilance bureau has charged the Badals with having accumulated assets disproportionate to their known sources of income during the tenure of Mr Parkash Singh, as Chief Minister, 1997-2002. The challan is for having ‘‘unexplained’’ assets worth, approximately, Rs 78.40 crore, against total properties pegged at Rs 4,326 crore. Out of those the vigilance has not yet provided any evidence of properties allegedly held by the Badals abroad. These the vigilance has estimated at approximately, Rs 3,825 crore.

When TNS met Mr Parkash Singh at his official residence today evening, he appeared to be relaxed, cool and taking his appearance in the court tomorrow in his stride. To a question he said, ‘‘I have not asked anyone to assemble or protest. If you remember, I was away to Delhi when challan against me, my family and friends was put up on November 22. Spontaneously the party had announced “rasta roko” for the very next day. Since this case against me is false and fabricated, I have nothing to fear. We, in the Akali Dal, are quite used to the courts and jails. I will be accompanied by my son, Sukhbir. Also, I respect and have faith in the judiciary’’. Mr Badal will abide by the November 26 ‘‘directive’’ of the Political Affairs Committee asking the Badals to move a bail application. However, privately, some PAC members had confided to TNS that rather than deliberating on the Panthic issues, PAC had taken up an individual’s case. Nothing of this sort was done, when nine Akali ministers were targeted by the vigilance. ‘‘Such gimmickry will have serious long-term repercussions on the organisation, morale of the party and set wrong precedents’’, remarked a senior leader. Some of them were wary of the ‘‘poor showing’’ of SAD on “rasta roko” on November 23, when only some ‘‘hardcore’’ workers had turned up.

Therefore, the Akalis said there was no ‘‘formal call’’ to assemble tomorrow. However, SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today asked Akali workers to reach Ropar by any means, while speaking at the death anniversary of Akali leader, Mr Bachittar Singh at Padiala village. Even field reports said opinion leaders were mustering support, as a show of strength, after November 23 fiasco.


Akali workers rounded up, sent to jail
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
As many as 27 activists of the SAD, including senior functionaries, who were rounded up by the police yesterday and today to prevent them from going to Ropar tomorrow, have been sent to jail.

Though police parties raiding the premises of various Akali leaders early this morning, they failed to arrest senior members. A number of senior party leaders, including Mr Gurpreet Singh Kangar, MLA, and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former minister, who had gone underground reportedly reached Chandigarh today.

The police left no stone unturned to stop the Akali workers from proceeding towards Ropar where party President, Parkash Singh Badal plans a show of strength when he along with family members and friends appears before the court of a special judge in connection with a corruption case registered against him.

Nakas were set up at various points in the district.


20 SAD leaders arrested
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
Taking preventive measures, the police last night arrested 20 SAD leaders and workers. Raids to arrest second rank SAD workers were on. Security arrangements have been made to prevent the workers from marching towards Ropar. Many leaders have gone underground.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said as Fatehgarh Sahib was adjoining Ropar district, there were more chances that SAD workers could march towards Ropar, where Parkash Singh Badal was supposed to appear in a court. He said the police had arrested 20 leaders and workers. Prominent among the arrested were Mr R.S. Cheema, former minister, Mr Swarn Singh Chanarthal, district president SAD, Mr Kirpal Singh Sethi, Mr Swarn Singh Suhavi, Mr Amar Singh Nalini veteran leader. He said seven nakas had been put up and all boundaries of the district adjoining Ropar had been sealed. There was complete peace in the district and no untoward incident was reported, he added.


Protest rally by Cong men
Our Correspondent

Ropar, November 30
Congress men organised a protest rally and burned the effigy of “corruption” at Giani Zail Singh Nagar here today, despite a ban on gathering of more than five persons within the municipal limits of Ropar under Section 144 of the CrPC. At least 100 Congress men under the leadership of the Ropar district president, Mr Amarjit Singh Saini, gathered at Giani Zail Singh Nagar and organised a rally where speakers hailed the registration of a case of corruption against Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief.


Isolate corrupt leaders, Vedanti urged
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, November 30
In a six-paged communication to Akal Takht Jathedar, Joginder Singh Vedanti, former President of the Youth Akali Dal, who also remained political secretary to Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, appealed to the supreme Sikh body to isolate all corrupt Akali leaders, including Mr Parkash Singh Badal, from the “clean” Akalis and give a call for unification.

The former President urged for steps to restore the prestige of Sikhs which had been hit by acts of “corruption” of Akali leaders, including Mr Badal.

He urged the Jathedar to initiate steps to replace the leader of the Shiromani Akali Dal with a Sikh leader of stature to lead the Panth and uphold the ‘Maryada’ of Akal Takht.

He pointed out that Mr Badal had time and again flouted the ‘Sikh maryada’ for political gains.

Mr Dhanaula criticised Mr Badal and his family for giving undue leverage to “gurudom”, and patronising the likes of Bhaniarawala, Ashutosh and others who, he claimed, have made a ‘mockery’ of Sikhism.


Dal Khalsa to move court on Gajinder
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, November 30
The Dal Khalsa will file a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the inclusion of Gajinder Singh’s name in the list of 20 most wanted people given to the Pakistan Government.

The decision was announced here today at a function held to release the book ‘Lakeer’ — authored by its president Gajinder Singh on wide-ranging issues from time to time. Much to the embarrassment of the BJP, the President of the SGPC, Jathedar Gurcharan Singh Tohra, in his published message has lauded the contribution of Gajinder Singh, who’s name figured in the list of 20 most wanted persons handed over to Pakistan by the BJP-led NDA government.

It is pertinent to mention that Gajinder Singh, who hijacked the Indian Airlines plane way back in September, 1981, to protest against the arrest of Sant Jarnail Singh Bhindrawale, was sentenced to life imprisonment by the Pakistan special court in the 1986 in hijacking case. The Dal Khalsa, a political group active in Punjab since 1978, has elected Gajinder Singh as its president in the recent past for two years.

The title of the book depicts a line drawn with blood separating Kesri Nishan Sahib from the Tricolour. The author in his write-ups has tried to emphasise that the Sikhs are a separate nation and that they have a vision to establish their own sovereign rule. By showing a line dipped in the blood of Sikh martyrs separating the Sikh flag from Tricolour, the author has shown his commitment for the goal of Khalistan.

The author in his attempt to mark the distinction between terrorism and freedom movement has said that after success every so-called terrorist has proved to be a responsible politician.

Pointing out the rationale behind the hijacking, Jathedar Tohra said that the injustice heaped on Sikhs since India gained independence in 1947 had forced Gajinder Singh and his colleagues to take an extreme step to show the dismal plight of Sikhs before the world community. Jathedar Tohra expressed his appreciation for his bravery, commitment, farsightedness and political wisdom.

Mr Kanwarpal Singh Dhami, editor of the book, said the need to publish Gajinder Singh’s write-ups was realised since the young generation of today was unaware of the overall personality of Gajinder Singh who had sacrificed his whole life for the “charhdi kala” of the Sikh nation.

To make Sikhs aware of his sacrifices and vision, we had tried to give them a food for thought in the form of Lakeer that has been drawn with the blood of Sikh martyrs, said Kanwar Pal Singh. Karamjit Singh, a senior journalist, has written the preface of the book. He said that their party representative from the USA, Mr Ajit Singh Pannu, has come all the way to participate in the function.

Launching a scathing attack on the BJP, Harcharanjit Singh Dhami, working president of the Dal Khalsa, said: ‘‘the indictment of Gajinder Singh by the BJP led government is totally unjustified and absurd. On what basis was the BJP demanding his extradition from Pakistan? The government has erred in branding him as a terrorist.

Mr Dhami stressed that neither was he terrorist nor was he wanted in any crime in India. He said that Gajinder Singh belonged to that Sikh school of political thought that believes that the national identity of the Sikhs can only be safeguarded with the establishment of an independent sovereign Sikh state.


Woman’s fight for justice continues
Naveen S. Grewal and Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, November 30
The nightmare that started with an alleged molestation bid by her own superior on a city-based Punjab Police woman constable continues to haunt her with the accused DSP allegedly eliciting the support of two SPs in pressuring the woman to withdraw her complaint and reach a compromise. Undeterred, the woman has sent letters to superiors questioning the safety of women in the uniformed force.

The incident took place over a month ago at the local Sutlej Club, after which an inquiry was ordered that indicted the DSP. But since the inquiry officer, SP, Mr Arunpal Singh was transferred, there has been no follow-up action on the recommendation of the report and a new investigation officer has been appointed to re-look into the entire episode. Accused DSP Sandeep Goel had also expressed distrust with the inquiry officer and requested for a probe by some other officer. Questioning the manner in which the incident has been handled, the policewoman has described the entire exercise as a move to scuttle the truth from surfacing.

In a fresh complaint to the Chief Minister, Captain Amarinder Singh, and copies to Inspector General (Zonal) and SSP, Ludhiana, the victim has said that two SPs forced her to sign a blank paper on November 20 forcibly and later threatened to have her dismissed if she pursued the complaint. She has appended affidavits along with her complaint.

Family members of the victim told The Tribune that in view of the extreme pulls and pressures on her with each passing day, the victim was left with no alternative, except to approach the Chief Minister. They said the manner in which the recommendations of Mr. Arunpal Singh, SP (HQ), had been ignored showed no seriousness about the case.

The copy of the inquiry report by Mr Arunpal Singh which is in possession of The Tribune was in fact kept a secret. The Tribune procured the copy which has recommended registration of a case under Sections 354 and 294 of the IPC against the said DSP for ‘sexually molesting the lady” and to transfer him out to the district till the completion of a second inquiry by an officer no less than the rank of an SP. Mr. Arunpal Singh’s report was overlooked and SP Mandir Singh has been asked to probe the matter afresh. Interestingly, SP Arunpal Singh has been shifted out of the district where as the DSP is still posted here.

SP, Mandir Singh was in Ludhiana police lines last evening to investigate the matter where he recorded the statement of both the accused and the victim. The lady is believed to have apprised the investigating officer about the manner in which she is being forced to reach a compromise. She is also believed to have told the SP that she would like to have an officer above the rank of SP conduct the enquiry.

SSP Narinderpal Singh, when contacted, said that he was unaware of the recommendation of the first inquiry that was conducted by Mr Arunpal Singh and submitted vide number 1859 dated October 23, 2003. The SSP said that Mr Arunpal Singh was not supposed to make any recommendations as the inquiry had been taken back from him on the basis of a prayer made by the DSP, who had expressed reservations on the fairness of the inquiry stating that he was not on good terms with the investigating officer.

The DSP, when contacted, however, said that he had never molested the woman and it was only a case of misunderstanding. Despite that he had apologised to the woman who later signed a compromise document without any pressure. He said he had demanded change of inquiry from SP Arunpal Singh due to personal reasons. He said the woman in question had specifically asked for the inquiry against him to be conducted by Mr Arunpal Singh, so he was not surprised to learn that the inquiry report was against him.

In his report, Mr Arunpal Singh has stated “the DSP called the woman aside and tried to kiss her. He also caressed her hair. The DSP was not on duty at the Sutluj Club”. He has cited nearly half a dozen witnesses, including those present at the scene of the ‘molestation bid’, that corroborate the victim’s allegations.

Meanwhile, the DSP has managed to get his transfer out of Ludhiana cancelled. It has caused a lot of demoralisation among the women police personnel causing a setback to the functioning of the department.


BSF’s special operations to thwart ISI designs
Anirudh Gupta

Along The Zero Line (Ferozepore), November 30
Keeping in view the onset of winter and foggy conditions, the Border Security Force (BSF) has intensified patrolling and launched special operations to thwart any attempt by anti-national elements and ISI agents to sneak inside the Indian territory taking advantage of inclement weather conditions. This was stated by Mr A.K. Sarolia, Deputy Inspector General, BSF Sector HQ, Ferozepore, while talking to mediapersons at Hazarasingh Wala village along the Indo-Pakistan border on the occasion of the inauguration of a medical camp organised by Punjab Frontier to mark the beginning of the BSF raising day celebrations. Mr Sarolia was accompanied by Mr G.S. Sandhu, DIG (G), Punjab Frontier BSF, Mr J.C. Singla, Commandant, 14 Battalion, BSF, Mr N.D. Bahuguna, Commandant, 124 Battalion, BSF, Mr Vikram Sharma, JAD (G), and other senior officials from the BSF.

Mr Sarolia said in those pockets and riverine gaps where the cobra fencing has not been done due to topographical restraints, special boat nakas had been laid and round-the-clock vigil was being kept by BSF troops. He said in addition to it, horse, foot and vehicle patrolling and Khurra checking were also being done to dominate the international border.

About the various incidents in which abortive attempts have been made by some anti-national elements to sneak into the Indian side, Mr Sarolia while ruling out any spurt in infiltration bids averred that sporadic incidents did take place, but BSF troops were vigilant enough to defeat any sinister designs of the enemy. He said after the complete fencing of the Indo-Pakistan international border along the Punjab, the BSF had been able to put total brakes on any sort of cross-border infiltration, crime or smuggling incidents.

Mr Sarolia said Operation Roar, which was launched recently by the BSF along the international border, was an immense success. The BSF had embarked on a Rs 2,300-crore modernisation plan to strengthen the border management under which most modern equipment like thermal and IR imagers and other ground sensor equipment would be purchased to further reinforce the BSF and reduce the stress under which BSF sentinels were working.

Mr Sarolia said the BSF was enjoying harmonic relations with farmers and residents of the villages situated along the border, and the series of medical camps being organised by the BSF was another effort in that direction.

He said those BSF troops who would be replaced by the CRPF in a phased manner to perform IS duties and anti-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir, would be relocated in different sectors under Punjab Frontier and some of them would be sent to add force to the eastern borders.

About the proposal mooted earlier by the state government to deploy women volunteers of Home Guards along with BSF personnel to assist them in frisking female folks who went to the other side of the fencing for farming with their menfolk having land holdings there, Mr Sarolia said the BSF was taking assistance from the local police and village women with sound background and good antecedents to assist the BSF jawans at BOPs near their village to frisk the female folks.

Earlier in the day, BSF officials paid floral tributes to the officers and jawans of 31 Battalion of the BSF who had sacrificed their lives while fighting against the Pakistan army at the Raja Mohattam picket during the 1971 Indo-Pak conflict.

Mr Sarolia admitted that BSF jawans were discharging their duties under enormous stress and strain, but their morale was high and in consonance with their motto, “Duty Unto Death”. They were fully geared to guard the nation and defeat the evil designs of the enemy.


Matriculates to sell PRTC tickets
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has, under a pilot project, entrusted the responsibility of selling tickets to young matriculates on a commission basis to free its own men from this task, even as it has started hiring other personnel in other categories on a contract basis.

The PRTC, which is in the red and also in the list of Corporations which are in line for disinvestment by the Punjab Government, proposes to appoint youngsters on a contract basis at bus stands. It has already implemented this project at the Patiala bus stand and is gauging the results.

Under the scheme, the corporation has started giving tickets worth Rs 25,000 to youngsters, on a guarantee. The youngsters are paid on a commission basis for the tickets sold by them and supervised by the corporation officer at the bus stand.

Corporation Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta, when contacted, said the youngsters were given a week’s training before being supplied with tickets. He said the scheme was expected to relieve senior corporation staff at the bus stand for other duties.

He said it was proposed to launch this scheme at all corporation bus stands in the State as the organisation visualised an increase in passenger traffic on its buses due to the advance booking scheme.

Mr Gupta said corporation had also decided to hire drivers and conductors on a contract basis. As many as 100 persons had been given jobs in both categories.

Mr Gupta said while drivers were paid 43 paisa per kilometer under this agreement, persons taken as conductors were paid 33 paisa per kilometre. It was mandatory for candidates in both categories to be matriculates.

The corporation Chairman said another step being taken was to computerise all its nine depots in the State. He said the Patiala depot had been computerised under this scheme and now all depots would be interlinked with the Patiala depot in the next phase.

He said the corporation was expected to improve efficiency at its depot through this move. Keeping stock of inventory and spare parts would be more easy and movement of goods from one depot to another in times of need would become more efficient.

The organisation had also decided to make checking more effective by making use of the specially formed flying squad that had been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring minimum leak of revenue by making checks at faraway points on various bus routes.

He said this had already resulted in an increase in revenue.


Marriage palaces in for tough time
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, November 30
The district administration has decided to get tough with marriage palaces, places of religious interest and individuals playing blaring music by deciding to prosecute those who do not abide by the relevant sections of the Noise Pollution Act.

Marriage palaces, playing blaring music are set to face the music in the first phase with the administration deciding to deal with them immediately. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said he had instructed Subdivisional Magistrate Tej Pratap Singh Phoolka to ensure that marriage palaces did not a create nuisance in their respective areas. He said the marriage palace owners would be asked to ensure that music was played on their premises within a definite time and in case they did not abide by this direction, action would be taken against them.

The issue of public nuisance created by marriage palace owners had been highlighted recently with the local DAV Public School Principal S M Devgun complaining to the Deputy Commissioner that marriage palaces on Bhupindra Road here seemed to be above the law as no action was being taken against them despite a ban order having been issued by the administration restricting anyone from using loudspeakers and speakers to create noise pollution.

The school Principal had also said that the institution, which was right next to a marriage palace, would be forced to resort to an agitation, in case no action was taken in the matter.

The Punjabi Bagh Residents Association had also claimed that complaints against noise pollution emanating from the marriage palaces were not taken seriously by the administration. The steps taken by it were only piecemeal and were effective for a few days only.

Meanwhile, the district police has also decided to step up action against marriage palaces and other noise polluters. Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said he would ask the Deputy Superintendents of Police in all the subdivisions to coordinate with their respective Subdivisional Magistrates to deal with the problem of noise pollution in their areas.

He said it had been decided that in the first phase a committee of officers would approach all public places from which noise pollution was being created. These officers would educate the managers of these public places about keeping noise emanating from their premises within reasonable limits.

The SSP said it had been decided that public places not conforming to this requirement would be "challaned" in the next phase. He said in case the owners of those public places still continued to create noise pollution, action would be taken against them. He said they may be booked under the Noise Pollution and other Acts and they could also be prosecuted. He said religious places would also be targeted under the scheme besides individuals.

There are around a dozen marriage palaces in the city. However, there are only four to five marriage palaces which are situated close to residential areas and are creating a problem.

The problem is most acute on Bhupindra Road where there are three marriage palaces in a row. These palaces are usually heavily booked and blaring music can be heard around them at all hours.

Besides, other marriage palaces situated close to residential areas include Pacific Resort in the Factory Area, Amar Ashram near Polo Ground, Ram Ashram at Daldala chowk, Ram Lala ground near new vegetable market and Milan Palace in New Officers Colony.


Lawyers encroach on mini secretariat land
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, November 30
While the district administration has been trying to remove encroachments from the government land in other parts of the district, the encroachments have cropped up right in the mini secretariat close to the office of the Deputy Commissioner and the judicial complex here. The encroachers are none other than an elite and an educated section of society, advocates.

During the past few months, due to shortage of new chambers, many advocates practising in the district courts here have haphazardly placed iron kiosks in the park of the mini secretariat converting them into their chambers.

The manner in which kiosks have been put up is creating problems for the general public besides defacing the mini secretariat. The public toilets for the common people coming to the judicial complex have been closed as they were spreading stench to kiosks kept by the advocates in the park of the secretariat.

To add to this, the district administration has decided to regularise the illegal structures raised by the advocates that many feel will further encourage encroachments in the mini secretariat.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, said the illegally kept kiosks were regularised as otherwise also the advocates were utilising the government land without paying any rent. After regularisation, they would at least have to pay rent for the government land they were occupying. Moreover, a committee under the charge of the SDM, Ropar, had been formed to relocate kiosks kept in the park to some other suitable place, she said.

The SDM, Mr Daljit Singh, said the tehsildar had been directed to find a suitable place within the secretariat for accommodating the kiosks of the advocates.

The president of the district Bar Association, Mr JPS Dher, said lawyers had been facing problems as new chambers had not been built for long. However, now the bar had received Rs 3 lakh grant as for the construction of new chambers. Once the new chambers were built, the temporary structures could be removed.


Agenda set for good governance
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
Fatehgarh Sahib has set an agenda of good governance by introducing administrative reforms and cutting down the long established procedures and delays by introducing single user-friendly window disposal and helpline (Suwidha) in the Deputy Commissioner’s office. It has not only brought transparency in the working but also increased the accountability as now the officials concerned are always available to the public on the window. It has changed the work culture in totality.

The district administration has done an extraordinary work for the welfare of people which has resulted in saving the time, energy and money of the public. According to Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, SUWIDHA, is being extended to tehsil and municipal offices of the district to provide all kinds of rural area, domicile, caste, death and birth certificates.

However, SUWIDHA has proved beneficial as it provide these services from a single window in a time-bound manner. The government has approved another project for the creation of the unified citizens database, under which all citizens of the district would be provided multi-service cards (MSC) to get on the spot services and there would no need of verifications.

It would further facilitate the citizens in getting easy and convenient access to services provided by the government. According to Mr Navneet Kukreja, Senior Director, National Informatics Centre (NIC), the response of the district administration in implementation of SUWIDHA is encouraging and DialCITI (Telephone-based interactive voice response system (IVR), which was initially developed only for pensioners is now being extended to all branches coming under the Deputy commissioner’s office.

Medicare on doorsteps

The hospital welfare section of the District Red Cross Society has introduced a new concept of providing medicare to rural masses at their doorsteps by organising free medical check-up camps in the remote rural areas. Till now 20 such camps have been organised.

Ms Daisy Walia, Chairperson, District Hospital Welfare Section, said it had now been made a regular feature and every month such camps would be organised in every nook and cranny of the district.

The specialist doctors would examine the patients in these camps and medicines would be provided free of cost. The laboratory tests would also carried out in these camps. These camps were becoming popular among rural people as they could hardly afford to avail the services of specialised doctors.

BSNL services

In the present era of competition the BSNL has miserably failed to provide best services to both land line as well as mobile subscribers in the Sirhind and Bassi Pathana area of the district. The land line telephones of the Sirhind and Fatehgarh Sahib area facing disturbance in the lines since a long time. It is difficult to talk or listen properly and sometime calls get intermixed. Similarly the mobile subscribers are facing the problem of poor network signals. Though there are towers of Spice and Air Tel in Bassi Pathana but the BSNL has not installed its tower in the region for reasons best known to them. A large number of BSNL subscribers of the area have started surrendering their connections. Another cause of resentment among the people is that they have to visit Mandi Gobindgarh or Patiala to get their telephone bills corrected and for other revenue related matters as BSNL has not opened the bill collection center in its main office at Sirhind. The people have demanded immediate opening of the office to avoid unnecessary harassment.

Lok adalat for poor

Due to the initiative of Mr Mohinder Pal, District and Sessions Judge, the concept of lok adalats and free legal aid for the weaker section of the society is becoming popular. A large number of litigants are thronging in lok adalats to settle their disputes. As majority of the people live below poverty line and cannot afford to take the services of reputed lawyers to defend their cases, the concept of free legal aid and lok adalats have proved to be a boon for them. In these lok adalats cases are settled amicably with mutual consent of both parties. The decision taken in these courts cannot be challenged in any other court. Out of 4,080 cases presented in these courts, 2,241 have been settled with mutual consent and amount worth Rs 9,62,58,285 has been awarded as compensation. Similarly the District Free Legal Aid Society received 378 applications for free legal and out of this 165 cases had been settled.

Urban estate awaited

The much-awaited urban estate in the district has not materialised yet, which is hampering its development. The people are in fix and are not doing any construction work due to the fear of PUDA acquiring their lands. Though the government has conducted the survey and has also received good response yet no decision has been taken so far. The people have demanded the government should take decision at the earliest so that development activities could pickup. They upset over the daily rumours being floated by land mafias and middle men.


Medical camp for ex-soldiers
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
To pay tributes to martyrs and to show solidarity with their widows and families, orphans, disabled soldiers, as well as for the serving soldiers, who are defending our borders, a district-level rally of ex-servicemen will be organised on the eve of Armed Forces Flag Day on December 5, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner-cum-President District Sainik Board, while addressing the meeting of the District Sainik Board here on Friday.

He said information stalls would be set up by the territorial army to train youths for employment and to give information to ex-servicemen and their wards regarding employment opportunities. He said during the rally a medical check-up camp would also be organised, where specialists would check patients and medicines would be provided free of cost. Lauding the services of the ex-servicemen, Mr Ahluwalia said the district administration would take all necessary steps to improve the living standard of ex-servicemen by extending help to them.


Six of family killed in mishap
Tribune News Service

Ropar, November 30
Six members of a Nangal-based family were killed when their Maruti-800 car met with an accident on the Sirsa Bridge road, at about 2 pm today. The car had a head-on collision with a truck coming from opposite direction.

All inmates of the car, including Hussan Lal, Manish, Surinder, Satish Kumari, Rajni and Shalu were killed on the spot. The Maruti car had to be pulled out from beneath the truck where it got entangled.

The family had gone to attend “jagrata” at the place of their kin yesterday. They were returning from Ambala when their car met with an accident, about 10 km from here.

Car driver’s fatigue was cited as the reason for the mishap. Eye witness at the spot said the driver of the car lost control over the vehicle suddenly and the car rammed to the front portion of the truck coming from the opposite direction.

The police has registered a case against the truck driver and bodies of the victims have been sent for post-mortem examination.

Meanwhile, a pall of gloom spread across the Jawahar market area of Nangal as the news of accident spread in the area. People gathered at the residence of Bishan Dass, the wholesale grocery merchant of the area, to console the aggrieved members of the family.


1 killed as jeep rams into tree
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 30
Two occupants of a jeep were injured and one was killed when their vehicle rammed into a roadside tree here today.

According to information the Jeep belonging to a tours and travels agency was carrying newspaper bundles from Abohar to Sriganganagar. Munna Lal, a resident of the Labour Colony here had taken a lift. The jeep hit the tree outside a brick-kiln near Khuyiansarwer village on the national highway. Though the injured were admitted to Civil Hospital here, but medical aid could not be provided immediately. Driver Raju succumbed to his injuries after few minutes. Cleaner Palwinder Singh, lost a leg, Munna Lal’s condition was described as stable. The driver and his helper were residents of Sriganganagar district.


2 killed in studio fire
Our Correspondent

Abohar, November 30
Two photographers were burnt alive when a fire broke out in a studio here last night. Rajiv Midha and Sunny, both aged 20, were working at Andaz Photo Studio located on the Women Hostel road here last night. There was a power breakdown after 12 midnight. It is assumed that Rajiv and Sunny slept in the dark room following power failure. The supply was restored by the PSEB after sometime, residents of the locality said.

Chowkidar posted on the road noticed fire at 2.30 am and he sounded the alarm and informed the fire brigade. The studio was completely gutted by the time firemen reached there. There were signs that one of them was electrocuted before his head was burnt in the fire. The lower part of the body was intact.

The completely charred bodies were brought to Nehru Memorial Civil Hospital this morning hours but it was virtually difficult to go in for post mortem. The Abohar Journalists Association also expressed its condolence over the demise. Mr. Sunil Jakhar, MLA, has also condoled the death.


Telecom firm men held for torture, let off
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, November 30
The district police arrested seven persons from the local office of Reliance Telecom late last night on the allegations of torturing two persons, reportedly working as, its sub-agents, by keeping them in illegal confinement. The arrested persons were released on bail.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Reliance Telecom, Mr Sanjay Bhambri, refuted the allegations and said some of their competitors were behind the whole incident to tarnish the image of the company.

The police, after receiving a complaint last night, raided the local office of the telecom company situated near the bus stand and rescued the two persons — Suraj Shah of Ambika Colony and Sumit Wadhwa of the Kot Kishan Chand locality — from the clutches of a group of henchmen, reportedly engaged by the company to recover bills and dues from customers.

Seven persons were arrested, who were later identified as Damanjit Singh of Rama Mandi, Arun of Green Model Town, Rashpal of Dashmesh Nagar, Hardeep Singh of Beant Nagar, Pawandeep Singh of Urban Estate, Phase - I, Jomesh of Preet Nagar and Sameer Ahuja. A case under Sections 342, 323 and 506 of the IPC has been registered against them.

According to the police of customers had applied for WLL connections with Reliance Telecom by submitting false information regarding their names and addresses during its special campaign to allot connections for an initial sum of Rs 500. Subsequently, bills worth lakhs were not paid by such customers.

During its exercise to collect the dues from the customers, the company, according to Suraj Shah, had asked the sub-agents to either pay the dues on behalf of the customers or get the bills realised.

“The company officials asked me to pay Rs 4 lakh for the connections booked through me even as I had referred the applications to them for the release of connections. It is the duty of the officials concerned to verify the antecedents of the applicants,” he said, adding that he was threatened of dire consequences by the officials, in case of failure to toe their line.

Both victims were allegedly approached by the officials concerned yesterday to collect their prize from the office and were later kept in illegal confinement. They were allegedly beaten up. When they failed to return, their family members approached the police, which subsequently rescued the victims.

Mr Rajpal Singh Sandhu, SP, said they had received some more complaints of a similar nature, which were being investigated. The arrested persons were released on bail.


Mansa college bags overall trophy in youth festival
Tribune News Service

Mansa, November 30
Government Nehru College here created a history of sorts when it lifted the overall trophy in the three-day zonal youth festival which concluded on its campus last night. Government Rajindra College got second position while Barjindra College, Faridkot bagged the third position. In the youth festival held at the local Government Nehru College, students of 22 colleges of Bathinda, Mansa and Faridkot districts affiliated with Punjabi University, Patiala, took part. Dr S.S. Boparai, Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala, gave away prizes.

The results of various items are as follows: classical vocal — Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa Girls College, Bathinda, (first) and Government Nehru College, Mansa (second); harmonium — Government Nehru College Mansa (first) and Government Rajindra College, Bathinda (second); orchestra — Government Nehru College, Mansa (first) and Government Rajindra College, Bathinda (second).

Shabad — Government Nehru College, Mansa (first) while Government Barjindra College, Faridkot, SSD Girls’ College, Bathinda and Shaheed Bhagat Singh College, Rampura were joint runners-up; group song — Guru Nanak College, Bathinda (first) and Government Nehru college, Mansa (second). Ghazal/geet — Government Nehru College, Mansa stood first and Government Barjindra College, Faridkot DAV College, Bathinda and Rajindra College, Bathinda were jointly placed second;

Folk song — Government Nehru college Mansa (first), Guru Nanak College, Budhlada and Bhagat Singh College, Kotkapura (second).

Mimicry — Government Barjindra college, Faridkot (first) and Government Nehru College, Mansa (second). Skit — Government Barjindra College, Faridkot stood (first) while Government Nehru College Mansa and Government Rajindra College, Bathinda were placed second; collage making-Sumandeep Kaur of Guru Nanak Dev Girls’ College, Bathinda, and Akashdeep Kaur, of SSD Womens’ institute, Bathinda were placed first while Bhupinder Kaur of DAV, Bathinda, and Manit Sandhu of SSD Girls’ College, Bathinda won the second position.

Clay modelling — Harbir Singh of Government Nehru College Mansa and Nirmala Rani of Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa College of Budhlada bagged the first position while and Baljit Kaur of Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa, Bathinda and Sandeep Singh of DAV, Bathinda stood second; painting — Anantdeep of Guru Nanak Dev Khalsa, Bathinda and Mandeep Kaur, Government Barjindra College, Faridkot secured the first position and Harmesh Kumar, Guru Kashi College, Talwandi Sabo and Amritpal Singh, Government Nehru College, Mansa won the second position; bhangra — Government Nehru College, Mansa bagged the first position and Government Barjindra College and DAV, Bathinda were second.

Histrionics — DAV, Bathinda stood first and Government Barjindra College with Bhai Asa Singh College, Goniana Mandi stood second; one-act play — Government Rajindra College, Bathinda was first and Mata Sahib Kaur Girls’ College, Talwandi Sabo, and Guru Nanak Girls’ College Bathinda were placed second; rangoli — Navdeep Kaur, DAV, Bathinda, and Priya Rani, Government College of Education, Faridkot stood second; poster-making — Sunil Kumar, Government Rajindra College, Bathinda, and Arun Kumar, University College of Education, Bathinda were placed first and Dolly Sharma, DAV College, Bathinda and Sunita, Government Rajindra College, Bathinda were placed second.


Institute holds Aagaaz 2003
Our correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, November 30
The Regional Institute of Management and Technology held the Aagaaz 2003 function of its engineering college on the institute campus today. Students of the institution presented an impressive cultural programme. Mr Hukam Chand Bansal, Chairman of the institution presided over the function. People from all walks of life attended the function.

In his address, Mr Bansal, a renowned industrialist, and educationist, highlighted the facilities being provided in the institution. He said not only national, but also world class facilities in the field of information technology were being provided to students.

The students after completing their study in the institution would be able to compete with the students of developed countries like Japan, France, the USA and the UK and hoped that the students would achieve distinction in their fields, he added.

He said the main aim of the institution was to provide high quality education. He added that an engineering college, a law college and a school were being set up by the management.

The students performed various cultural items. Preet Inder Singh Nagi and Sai Oberoi were declared Mr and Ms fresher. Puneet Dutt and Ravneet Bassi got first prize.

Mrs Neena Bansal, wife of the chairman, was honoured on the occasion. Dr S.K. Goel, Principal of the institution, read out the annual report and highlighted the achievements of the institution in various fields. Mr Harsh Sadavarti, Vice-Principal, proposed the vote of thanks.


School celebrates annual day
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, November 30
It was a memorable evening for parents who watched their kids perform at the annual function of their Clay India International School, Sangat town of this district. Students presented more than 20 cultural items at the function held last evening.

Mr Lachhman Singh Brar, DEO (S), who was the chief guest at the function, said education was a life-long process. He said students should be motivated to do well in extra-curricular activities also as these provided an outlet for exploring their latent talent.

Ms Sabita Sharma, principal of the school, said toppers of third, fourth, fifth classes would be taken to Singapore and the USA on educational tour next year. Hostel facilities for outstation students would be introduced. She said the school had adopted grading system for some classes rather than awarding marks and the school would be affiliated to the Central Board of Secondary Examination (CBSE).

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