P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dissidents causing setback to government,
says Amarinder
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Malout, December 11
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today categorically stated that the party high command would decide the fate of Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Agriculture, Minister, against whom charges would be framed on December 18 by the UT Special Court Judge, Chandigarh, Mr R.S. Baswana, in a case pertaining to corruption and criminal breach of trust registered against her.

In another significant statement, the Chief Minister, while admitting that there was a dissident movement in the Punjab Congress, said it (dissident movement) had been causing a major setback to the functioning of the government. “We all are sitting in New Delhi for the past many days and the functioning of the state government has come to standstill and hence we are not doing justice with the people who enabled us to form the government,” he pointed out.

“I am not supposed to comment as to what Mrs Bhattal should do after framing of charges against her. It is the party high command and the AICC chief, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who will give the necessary directions to deal with the situation,” said the Chief Minister, adding that he himself would not suggest to the party high command and Mrs Gandhi whether Mrs Bhattal should resign or not.

Capt Amarinder Singh, was here today to address a massive state-level rally of the party with an aim to organise a show of strength in this town is known as the home turf of the SAD President and a former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and to project that he carried more acceptability among the people of Punjab as compared to any other Congress leader, keeping in view the dissident movement going in the state.

While talking to mediapersons and making a veiled attack on the dissidents by alleging that they had paralysed the functioning of the state Congress government, Capt Amarinder Singh said first they should have come to him with their grievances and had he failed to redress their grievances, only then they should have approached the party command. He, however, claimed that so far he had neither received any threat to his leadership from any quarter nor anybody had demanded a change in leadership in Punjab.

“I will come to know about the grievances of the dissidents from the committee of the party high command headed by Dr Manmohan Singh when I will sit with it. I do not know about the problems of the dissidents.”

Replying, to a question he said the matter pertaining to the indictment of former Congress ministers by the then Lok Pal for their various acts of omission and commission was ended as the then Governor of Punjab did not agree with the report of the Lok Pal.

Capt Amarinder Singh, while addressing the huge rally, categorically stated that his campaign against corruption would continue and challenged Mr Badal that if he was serious about the welfare of the Punjabis, then he should tell the people why he had collected a huge amount of money by looting the poor people of Punjab. He said Mr Badal should also tell the people why he had been raising a hue and cry over the legal action being taken against him and his family members.

He said in the coming Lok Sabha elections, the people would wipe out a “corrupt” and “anti-Punjabi leader, Mr Badal, and his associates from the political map of Punjab by voting in favour of the Congress to endorse its anti-corruption campaign.

Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, MP alleged that Mr Badal committed atrocities on Congressmen and poor during the SAD-BJP rule in Punjab by making out false criminal cases against them on flimsy grounds, but now Mr Badal had been using the NDA government and the Sikh Panth to save himself from a criminal case of corruption registered against him despite the fact that it was genuine and he was being given all opportunities to save himself and his family members.

He warned that corrupt Congressmen would also not be spared, adding that the Congress had launched an anti-corruption campaign as it was the main item of its manifesto released on the eve of last Assembly elections. All promises were being fulfilled by the Congress government with its undiluted commitment to serve the people of Punjab.

Mr H.S. Hanspal, president, PPCC, cautioned the people that if the BJP and its allies came to power again in the country after the next Lok Sabha elections, it would endanger the unity and integrity of the country. While accusing Mr Badal of holding out threats to state government officials and state government functionaries, he advised him to face the court trial like an ordinary accused and not to make a mockery of the law of the land.

Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Badal, president, DCC, Muktsar, Mr Nathu Ram, MLA, Malout, Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, MLA, Pakka Kalan, Mr Bal Mukand Sharma, Mr Gurnam Singh Abul Khurana, former ministers, Mr Vijay Sathi and Mr Raghubir Chand, former MLAs were present at the rally.

Mr Gurmeet Singh Khudian, son of a former Akali MP, Mr Jagdev Singh Khudian, and Mr Sanjam Singh Dhillon, former Sarpanch of Badal village and a close relative of Mr Badal, announced their joining of the Congress on the occasion.


Police charged with ill-treating lensmen
Tribune News Service

Malout, December 11
A section of policemen, deployed for security arrangements at the venue of a Congress rally held here today, allegedly misbehaved with photographers of different dailies when the latter tried to shoot pictures when the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, accompanied by the PPCC president, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and MP, Mr Jagmeet Brar, came on the stage.

The photographers were prevented from going near the stage and when they persisted, the policemen pushed them back. The policemen did not even listen to the repeated pleas of officials of the Public Relations Department that photographers should be allowed to go near the stage so that they could shoot pictures of Capt Amarinder Singh.

After some time, Mr Nathu Ram, MLA, Malout came down from the stage and pacified the policemen following which the photographers were allowed to shoot the pictures of the Chief Minister and his associates.

After the rally was over, a police official, who was allegedly manhandling an elderly Congressman, was prevented from doing so by a senior Congress leader of Muktsar district.


Cong crisis to dominate SAD meeting today
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The political crisis in the ruling Congress in Punjab will dominate the meeting of the Political Affairs Committee (PAC) of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) tomorrow. The meeting, first after the release of SAD president, Parkash Singh Badal from jail, will be held as Kalgidhar Niwas here around noon.

A senior member of the PAC told The Tribune this evening that though the crisis in the ruling party would not be on the official agenda of the meeting but obviously it would be main issue to be discussed there. The party would decide its political strategy with regard to the crisis in the Congress. “Of course it is an internal crisis of the ruling party and the SAD has nothing to do with it. But since this has political dimensions impacting the overall political situation in the state, the SAD, which is the main opposition party, is bound to discuss it”, he said .

“We have been telling people all along that the corruption has been flourishing in leaps and bounds during the past two year rule of the Congress in Punjab. But now even senior Congress leaders have started saying the same. An interview to the television channel of a senior Congress leader today is most authentic evidence of it”, he claimed.

“In fact what we have been saying against the state government was nothing compared to what the certain Punjab Congress dissident MLAs having been saying now against the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh”, he said. “The SAD would watch the political developments from close quarters without interfering in any manner in the crisis of the ruling party”, he added. “We need not to do anything as the ruling party will be exposed fully before the people of the state by Congress leaders themselves”, he added.

Entire leadership of the SAD has been happy over the response to Mr Badal’s visit to Golden Temple today and after his release in Patiala yesterday. “The things would turn this way in favour of the SAD so soon, no Akali leader had expected it even in dreams”, he added. The political immaturity of the ruling Congress was paying political dividends to us for a while, he asserted.

The recent political developments such as the defeat of the Congress in three states, victory of the BJP, and all other related issues would also come up at the meeting. Other important issue would be the Lok Sabha elections. The party had been trying for the past some days to take the feed back from the BJP about the timings of the Lok Sabha elections. The SAD was expecting elections in March or in June immediately after the harvesting of wheat crop. “At the PAC meeting its members would informally chalk out the plan to prepare for the Lok Sabha elections”, said the PAC member.

“The anti-repression morcha launched by the SAD on December 9 would be given a new direction. To sustain the interest of party workers for long in the Morcha, its pattern would be changed”, he said.


News Analysis
Governance a casualty in Punjab
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, December 11
Punjab is caught in a whirlpool of political instability and administrative inconsistency. There is total absence of politico-administrative cohesiveness and decision-making. Over 300 files are piled up in the Chief Minister’s Office, some pending since March.

In the 64-member strong ruling Congress, divisions are sharp and “dissidents” and “loyalists” have assumed adamant postures. Both are camping in New Delhi. Today’s situation is similar to that of the summer of 1996, when the 81-member Congress stood divided. If then it was Mr Harcharan Singh Brar vs Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, now it is Ms Bhattal vs Capt Amarinder Singh.

In that battle, Mr Pranab Mukherjee had played the peacemaker. Now a three-member team is acting the jury. In 1996, Ms Bhattal first became the Deputy Chief Minister and then the Chief Minister. If “inaccessibility and style of functioning” of Mr Brar was the charge then, so is it today against Capt. Amarinder Singh. There are some similarities and contrasts though. This time, both Ms Bhattal and Capt Amarinder Singh are involved in court cases. Now charges are to framed against both — in a corruption case against Ms Bhattal and in a defamation case against Capt Amarinder Singh

Rumours are rife on the final outcome. One is that the dissidents may form a separate group in the Vidhan Sabha. Another is that Ms Bhattal is in constant touch with Mr Parkash Singh Badal. They have a common grouse against Capt Amarinder Singh, despite their individual predicaments. Any tacit political understanding between them would give them reprieve as their independent legal battles persist with Capt. Amarinder Singh. At stake is the political career of all three. This fluid political situation has put the Congress high command to a litmus test and Punjab in a quandary.

Efforts are on in New Delhi for a compromise or to buy more time to resolve the political imbroglio. Several formulae are being worked out, like re-vamping of the Chief Minister Office, which means replacement of Capt Amarinder Singh’s Media Adviser and Principal Secretary, the Chief Minister becoming more accessible to his colleagues, taking them into confidence in decision-making and restoring political and administrative order or even replacing him.

In this political situation, the implementation of reforms has received a blow. The entire initiative has hit a dead-end after the swift action of withdrawing “free” power and water to the agricultural sector. The government has slipped on reforms despite the scaffoldings offered by the World Bank while political populism resulted in the rollback of user charges, non-practising allowance to doctors, hike in the college fees and funds, sales tax etc. In the past 20 months, the government failed to either improve its house-keeping or implement the reforms agendas. It remained busy only with the Badals and vigilance.

The World Bank roadmap outlines directions on how to implement reforms on correcting fiscal imbalance, improving budget or financial management practices, reforming the power sector, introducing administrative reforms, creating growth and investment climate and bringing about gender equity. No steps were taken to either right-size the government or re-invent the road and transport sector or disinvest in public sector undertakings or resuscitate small industries.


20,000 posts of teacher lying vacant in Punjab
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
Nearly 20,000 posts of teacher have been lying vacant in government schools across the state for a long time and the government has shown no inclination towards filling them. Making matters worse the government has put a ban on new recruitments and there is no likelihood of the same being lifted in the near future. The decision of the government to recruit teachers on contract through Zila Parishads has also not taken off so far.

In the present scenario, many schools in Punjab are without teachers, principals/ headmasters and other teaching staff. The figures on the vacancies made available by the Department of Education are shocking. As many as 11,087 posts of teacher are lying vacant in the primary schools, including 7,645 posts of JBT/ETT teacher; 2,917 posts of Head Teacher and 525 posts of Centre Head Teacher.

Similarly, 8,482 posts are lying vacant in the secondary schools. This includes 833 posts of Principal; 813 posts of headmaster/ headmistress; 1802 posts of lecturer; 3,981 posts in the master cadre and 1,053 in the classical and vernacular (C and V) category.

Admitting the magnitude of the problem, a senior official in the department observed that “Every year the number of teachers declines automatically due to retirements and the handful of teachers who remain are supposed to educate the entire student population, which is on the rise.”

The Principal Secretary (School) Education, Ms Tejinder Kaur, attributed the vacancies to the existing ban on recruitments and constraint of funds. However, we are constantly taking up with the government the need to fill most of these posts at the earliest and an assurance in this regard has recently been given by the Education Minister, Mr Kushal Bahl, in the Assembly also.

According to sources in the department, functioning of hundreds of government schools has been adversely affected in view of the large number of vacancies across the state. While the number of students enrolled in these schools increases each year, there is no corresponding increase in the number of teachers.

Information gathered reveals that students studying in these schools will have to pay a price for this lapse on the part of the government as they took admissions in these schools with vacancies hoping that the same would be filled by the government shortly. However, it has not happened.

In some cases, students may be forced to lose a precious year on account of the indifference of the government. The school authorities, on their part, are meeting the crisis either by sending the students to other schools to make up for the paucity of teachers, thereby increasing the teacher-student ratio in schools where they are sent or keep inter-changing teachers within schools on a temporary basis. But all this only aggravates the crisis.

Sources further add that the government had already decided to fill over 600 posts of principals and the Departmental Promotion Committee also met in September to finalise those promotions, but the same could not be implemented following a stay order issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court on a writ petition filed by vocational teachers, who were demanding that they also be promoted to the rank of principal.

The department has through a memorandum submitted recently to the Council of Ministers also sought creation and recruitment of 2,010 ETT teachers for the 1005 branch schools.


Panel returns tariff hike proposal to PSEB
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 11
Tariff hike recommended by the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB ) for 2004-05 has run into rough weather with the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) sending it back to the Board directing it to furnish data justifying expenditures being incurred by it.

The PSEB had submitted recommendation for raising power tariff of various categories, including a hike between nine to 33 per cent of domestic tariff for 2004-05 to the commission on December 1.

The Commission now has asked the Board to furnish data justifying claim on various expenditure being incurred by it. This includes establishment charges, interest charges, fuel charges and power purchase. The Commission has asked the Board to give the comparative cost being incurred by the other electricity boards in this regard.

The Commission has also asked the Board to justify transmission and distribution losses being incurred by it. It has asked Board to send relevant information by December 15. The Commission needs this information as the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed all parties who had filed a case against the tariff order passed by it for 2002 -03 to appear before it on December 18 this year.

The court earlier, while giving its ruling in the case had stated that a lot of information which was required to be supplied by the utility had not been made available and that reliance had been placed on the practice of best judgement. It had pointed out that the judgements were made on inconclusive facts and that spiralling of the tariff in such a manner was not justified.

The PSEB has apparently been unable to clear these issues even during its tariff hike recommendation submitted to the Commission which has been returned to it. The Board now is expected to clarify all issues before submitting the report again to the Commission.

Earlier, the board had recommending an increase in domestic and commercial tariff even while it did not recommend any increase for agricultural consumers. In its report, the PSEB claimed that there would be a shortfall deficiency of Rs 694 crore in its income in 2004 -05 if the present tariff was enforced.

To remove this, the board recommended an increase the tariff of domestic consumers consuming between 50 to 100 units from Rs 2.06 per unit to Rs 2.75 per unit. Similarly the rate for consumers consuming 100 to 300 units was recommended to be increased from Rs 3.44 per unit to Rs 3.75 per unit. Tariff for consumers with a consumption of more than 300 units is proposed to be increased from Rs 3.64 per unit to Rs 4 per unit.

The Board had also proposed an increase in the minimum charges between Rs three to Rs 11 for different categories. Though it is proposed to continue levying the rate of Rs 60 per horse power to agricultural consumers with the State government paying the rest of the money, this “real rate” has now been pegged at Rs 215 per horse power from the earlier Rs 205 per horse power. Commercial organisations will have to pay an increase of 9.5 per cent even as large consumers are proposed to be given a relief with a decrease of 8.5 per cent for industries consuming upto 11 KV while those consuming 33 KV supply will now have to pay Rs 3.25 per unit instead of the earlier Rs 3.50 per unit.


UK makes grant of asylum more difficult
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 11
To curb illegal migration and discourage political asylum seekers, the British government has amended the Immigration and Asylum Act, under which any illegal entrant without valid passport or other travel document has to undergo imprisonment for six months and would face deportation from that country.

To encourage genuine immigrants, it was decided to allow eligible candidates to apply for work permit after one year of stay under “working holiday maker scheme” without any limit on working hours.

Talking to The Tribune here today, Mr Harjap Singh Bhangal, Solicitor of the Supreme Court of England and Wales, said that most of the entrants from Third World countries particularly from India, who managed to sneak into Britain by adopting illegal means, used to damage their passports at airport itself to seek later political asylum on the pretext that there was threat to life in their country of origin.

“Keeping in view the reports of the Human Rights groups in Britain regarding political and economic situation prevailing in most of the third world countries, the government has amended the Immigration and Asylum Act, whereby, one has to undergo six months imprisonment for entering without valid travelling documents. In fact, the British governments now is very tough with getting illegal migrants, particularly after September 11 terror attacks in the USA,” he said.

On the relaxation in the rules of “working holiday maker scheme”, which entitles a citizen of Commonwealth country to stay in England for two years and work for 25 hours in a week, Mr Bhangal said that it was now decided to allow any eligible applicant under the scheme to apply for work permit after one year of his or her stay that too without my bar on working hours per week.

“In fact, there is need to create awareness among the people of Punjab about the availability of legal means to work in England to save them from falling pray to notorious travel agents here, who are making lakhs on the pretext of sending them abroad via illegal channels. The Britain, unlike in the past, is no more a haven for political asylum seekers,” he said.

Around 40,000 applicants from Commonwealth countries were being granted visas every year under “working holiday maker scheme”, where under the English-speaking persons, between 17 to 30 years, could stay in England for two years under cultural exchange programme.

“Only 60 applicants from India have been granted visa under this scheme last year as most of them were found to be ill prepared to face interview panel. Besides, there is provision to file appeals against the refusal of visa to the authorities concerned, a facility most of the time not exercised for want of knowledge on the part of applicant.” He said, maintaining that special training institutes should be opened in Punjab for imparting complete information about British Immigration policy.


220 peaceniks leave for Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Wagah (Amritsar), December 11
The Chairman of the Pak-India People Forum for Peace and Democracy (PIPFPD), Mr Ashok Mitra, said people from both the countries had started seeking a definite end to the 55- year-old hostility which had bogged down the two neighbours.

Talking to newsmen before leading the largest ever group of 220 peaceniks to strengthen the people-to-people contact, the former West Bengal Finance Minister, Mr Mitra, pointed out that there were a large number of issues which bound the two nations. He said they had started reflecting at the political level and there was a considerable warmth recently seen among the masses in both the countries. He said after about 10 years of the forum’s inception, the efforts had started bearing fruit now. He expressed optimism that the countries would shun animosity and work towards the welfare of the people.

The secretary-general of the forum, Mr Tapan Bose, hoped that the three-day Sixth Convention scheduled to be held from December 12 at Karachi would be a step towards building lasting relationship. He said India and Pakistan must discuss all issues, including Kashmir, with a positive attitude which would help iron out differences and lead to the road map of peace and prosperity.

Mr Bose felt that India and Pakistan must encourage investment in each country to usher in a new phase of trust and faith. He added that such an approach would help dispel all fears. It would also lead to greater economic freedom and industrialisation.

Eminent actress and wife of Bollywood star Naseerudin Shah, Ratna Pathak Shah, who is also on the trip to Pakistan said the two countries should shed hatred and work towards peace and harmony in the region.

Answering questions about a joint Indo-Pak film production, she said it had a great potential and she would meet a number of Pakistan stars and other film personalities to discuss various issues affecting the film industries in India and Pakistan. She said Indian movies were a great hit in Pakistan but the film trade need to be regularised as there was large-scale video piracy.

A renowned activist, Sayeed Hameed, who has made numerous visits to Pakistan said the thaw in the relations was the result of the masses having pressurised both the governments to undertake various confidence building measures, including the start of bus service, opening of borders and easing visa restrictions.

She said they were likely to interact with leading opinion makers, media personalities and politicians during week-long stay in Pakistan.

The important members of the delegation include a Gandhian, Ms Nirmala Deshpande, Mr Satya Pal and media personalities Kum Kum Chadha, Bharat Bhushan and Laxman Bhatia.


School, hotelier lay claim to land
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, December 11
A piece of prime land measuring about 13 marlas has become again a bone of contention between the management of the local Government Girls Senior Secondary School and the Punjab State Tubewell Corporation Chairman, Mr Sukhdev Wadera, who owns a palatial hotel adjoining the land.

Mrs Rewa Sharma, Principal of the school, has alleged that Mr Wadera wants to grab the land worth over Rs 1 crore to expand his hotel. She said it was school land and the school had been using the land for the past over 50 years. She said Mr Wadera had made a futile attempt earlier to encroach upon the land during the Akali-BJP regime, which was opposed by the teaching community and students.

On the other hand, Mr Wadera claimed that the Education Department had ordered the transfer of the land in question in his name vide a letter dated November 1, 2003. He alleged that the school authorities had been creating hurdles in the transfer process.

Meanwhile, teachers and some other residents have formed a “School Bachao Sangharsh Samiti” to save the land of the school situated in the heart of the city. Allegedly, to clear the way for the hotelier to take possession of the land, the transfer of Mrs Rewa Sharma had been ordered which is being resented by a section of people and BJP leaders.

Mr Mohan Lal, former Higher Education Minister and husband of Mrs Rewa Sharma, has warned the administration against helping Mr Wadera grab the land.


Mulazam sangharsh panel stages dharna
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 11
Hundreds of employees of various government departments under the leadership of Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, state convener of the Punjab Mulazam Sangharsh Committee (PMSC) today staged dharna in front of the district administrative complex, near the main bus stand, against the alleged “anti-people” and “anti-employees” policies of the state government.

Almost all speakers criticised the Punjab Government for reducing the retirement benefits of employees, and its decision to hand over six government departments, including the Health, Education, Public Health, and Rural Development to the Panchayati Raj institutions in the state. They also criticised the state government for making preparations to privatise the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and the PRTC, besides abolition of thousands of posts lying vacant in government departments.

They also warned that they would continue their struggle till the withdrawal of “anti-people” and “anti-employees” decisions of the state government. They urged the state government to fulfil the promises made during the last Assembly elections including bonus to employees, regularisation of services of ad hoc employees and increase in monthly medical allowances.

The rally was addressed by Mr Sukhdev Singh Barri, state convener of the PMSC, Mr Swaranjit Singh, state committee member of the PMSC; Mr Baljit Singh Badrukhan, state vice-president of the Technical and Mechanical Employees Union; Mr Chamkaur Singh, district convener of the PMSC; Mr Hardial Singh, a leader of the Punjab State Karamchari Dal; Mr Amrit Garg, district president of the Punjab Raj Pharmacists Association; and Mr Sher Singh Ladewal, a leader of the Rashtriya Mulazam Dal.


SSP interacts with residents
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, December 11
Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, yesterday held an interactive session with the prominent residents of the district at PWD Rest House, Sirhind to get the first hand information regarding problems concerning the Police Department as well as to seek their suggestions for the improvement in the policing and in maintaining law and order in the district.

In his address he said prevention was better than cure and for this, the police had decided to start round-the-clock patrolling particularly at night on two wheelers. He urged the people to donate Bullet motor cycles to the police for their safety and interestingly the residents volunteered to donate five motor cycles on the spot. He said that after getting motor cycles police personnel armed with modern weapons and communication equipment would patrol the towns to avoid any untoward incident. Listing his priorities, he said that law and order would be on top of his agenda and to make the force more people-friendly, he will introduce greater transparency in the working of the police. He said various proposals and plans had been drawn up to streamline the functioning as well as to give a new look to the force. He said besides giving top priority to the redress of the grievances of the public, he would also ensure that the police behaved properly and in a friendly manner with the public. He said that the prime duty of the police would be to control crime and to ensure the safety of life and property.

He said a comprehensive plan to streamline the flow of traffic would be made. He said the police would also take the help of social organisitations, students and other NGO’s for initiating various educative and social reforms like drug abuse. He urged people to co-operate with the police and to provide correct information, so that the immediate action could be ensured against criminals and anti-social elements.

The residents assured the SSP that they would fully co-operate with the police and extend all possible help. They also put forward various suggestions for improving the law and order in the district.


Doctors ‘neglect’ rape victim
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
The five-year-old rape victim who was allegedly criminally assaulted by Narinder Singh has allegedly not been given proper treatment at the Government Civil Hospital where she was admitted after the incident.

A BJP leader, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, who visited the victim in the hospital, alleged that the doctors were not caring for the poor girl who had been under tremendous trauma. She said that the parents of the girl had complained that the doctors in the Civil Hospital were not attending her properly.

When this correspondent visited the hospital today, the doctor attending on the girl said she was responding to treatment and was expected to be discharged shortly.

However, the parents of the girl said that the doctors only looked after the girl when they complained to Ms Chawla and the Mayor, Mr Sunil Datti.

Meanwhile, the accused Narinder Singh had been arrested.


Akhand path not to be organised in tents, says Tohra
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 11
The SGPC president, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, said today that the akhand path of Guru Granth Sahib would not be held in tents during martyrdom day of Baba Zorawar Singh and Baba Fateh Singh (both sons of Guru Gobind Singh) on the occasion of Zor mela at Fatehgarh Sahib due to security reasons.

In a press statement issued here today Mr Tohra said loudspeaker would not be allowed in ‘langar pandals'. He appealed to all seva societies and sangats to cooperative with the Shiromani committee in this regard.


Ahmadiyas object to delay in issuing of visas

Qadian, December 11
Ahmadiya Muslims have taken a serious view of a “dilly-dallying” attitude over the issuance of visas to pilgrims from various countries, including Pakistan, Germany, the United Kingdom, African countries, the USA, Canada and France, who wish to attend the three-day 112th international Ahmadiya conference being held at Qadian, international centre of Ahmadiya Muslims, here from December 26.

In a communication to the Secretary, External Affairs, Government of India, Mr Saadat Ahmad Jawed, secretary for External Affairs, Ahmadiya Muslim Jamat has urged him to issue instructions to all Indian embassies/consulates abroad for expediting the visa applications of the pilgrims. He has enclosed a copy of the letter issued by the Punjab Government regarding no objection certificate for these. — TNS


Tributes paid to BSF personnel
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, December 11
Officials of the Border Security Force, at an impressive function organised today at the headquarters of 124 Battalion in Mamdot on the occasion of Raja Mohtam Day, paid tributes to those gallant officers and jawans of 31 Battalion of the BSF who made the supreme sacrifice while defending the country on this day during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan conflict.

Mr A.K. Surollia, DIG, BSF sector headquarters, Ferozepore, Mr P.P. Gupta, DIG, BSF, Faridkot, Mr KJS Cheema, DIG, PSO to ADG (West) commandants of various BSF battalions along with other officials, and hundreds of BSF sentinels laid wreaths at the memorial of Mr R.K. Wadhwa, Assistant Commandant, MVC, and other officers of 31 battalion of the BSF.

Mr Surollia, while addressing the BSF personnel and their families, said the acts of bravery, selfless devotion to duty and heroism shown by the gallant officers and jawans of 31 Battalion of the BSF were exemplary and would continue to motivate the BSF rank and file in the times to come. Today, BSF officials honoured the families of Mr Wadhwa and all those officials who achieved martyrdom fighting for the country. Ironically, no official from the district administration or the police was present on the occasion.


AIDS patient dies in hospital
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 11
The efforts of doctors of the local Civil Hospital to save Harbans Kaur (name changed), a 30-year-old widow, who was found HIV positive, failed today when she died here this evening.

She was admitted to the local Civil Hospital a week ago after she complained of loose motion and vomiting. Later, she was found HIV positive when her clinical tests were carried out. Her three-year-old daughter was also found HIV positive.

Harbans Kaur, who had been suffering from various diseases, had confined her- self to a room since the past few days and was being treated by the local medical practitioners.

Her health started deteriorating after she failed to respond to the treatment. Volunteers of an NGO cremated her.


Arpan ropes in rickshaw-pullers for AIDS rally
Our Correspondent

Nangal, December 11
To spread awareness about AIDS in a unique way, a local Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Arpan, yesterday organised a rickshaw rally. Members of the organisation motivated rickshaw-pullers to participate in the rally.

Mr Kuldeep Chand, patron of Arpan, told this correspondent that rickshaw-pullers were chosen for the awareness campaign as they were one of the main target groups. The members of Arpan along with the rickshaw-pullers carried placards displaying messages regarding AIDS awareness at a rally here.

Mr Kuldeep Chand condemned the Union Government’s policy of providing AIDS medicines free of cost in just six states.


AIDS awareness programme

Patiala, December 11
Pawanpreet Kaur, Rohit and Simple Bhatia of the Punjab College of Education, Raipur, won laurels at a paper reading contest held on the college campus here today.

The NSS unit of the college organised an AIDS awareness programme in the college.

The Director-Principal of the college, Dr Agyajit Singh, emphasised the need for educating masses regarding the fatal disease. OC


Doctors stress on ‘interpathic’ cure
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 11
Doctors of the allopathic, homoeopathic and ayurvedic systems of medicine of this region have decided to provide a common minimum complementary treatment to the sick. The decision was taken by the Interpathic Conference held at Kotkapura by the Hahnemann Homoeopathy Service Society, Bathinda.

In a press note issued here, Mr Rajesh Sharma, president of the society, said the conference was organised for the benefit of the patients.


Thermal plant security reviewed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 11
Mr Lalit Bhatia, ADGP (Vigilance and Security), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), after visiting the local Guru Nanak Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) today said that though the security arrangements were satisfactory at the plant, there was a further scope for improving these.

He urged the General Manager of the GNDTP to undertake mock drills regarding civil defence and police re-verification of the employees posted on sensitive posts. He also laid emphasis on undertaking regular combing operations with the help of the district police and to display the prohibited area boards as specified by the Government of India.

Mr Bhatia also planted a fish tail palm plant in the guest house of PSEB and made a round of its residential colony.


IT teams seize documents

Bathinda, December 11
A number of teams of Income Tax officials today carried out a survey of the official premises of two property dealers, two private hospitals and a gas agency.

Mr L.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, Bathinda, said a large number of documents pertaining to transactions of properties had been seized and would be scrutinised to work out the income tax evaded, if any, by these firms. — TNS


Badal’s wife seeks anticipatory bail
Our Correspondent

Ropar, December 11
Ms Surinder Kaur Badal, wife of the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who is a co-accused in the disproportionate assets case registered against them, moved an application for anticipatory bail before the District and Sessions judge, Ropar today. The judge forwarded it to a special judge, Mr S.K. Goel. The judge while accepting her application issued a notice to the vigilance Bureau and fixed the date of hearing for tomorrow.

Ms Badal was also summoned along with Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal on December 1. She, however, did not appear in the court. She was issued fresh summons for December 13.



High Court
Parties to appear before SSP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
City-based retired army officer’s struggle against the state machinery for protecting him and his family trudged towards a solution with a Division Bench of the High Court directing the parties to appear before Patiala’s Senior Superintendent of Police at 11 am on Friday.

In his petition taken up by the Bench headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, the officer — Lt-Col Narinder Pal Singh — had earlier alleged that he and his family were reportedly receiving threats ever since he refused to part with the agricultural land purchased in Dera Bassi. The officer had further alleged that he was made to sign a receipt of Rs 5 lakh at gunpoint after being picked up.

Claiming to have fought two wars against Pakistan in 1965 and 1971, the petitioner had asserted that he had purchased the land in Dera Bassi way back in 1989. On November 3, four or five persons came to his farmhouse and asked him to “write on certain papers”. On refusal, he was put in a car and taken to a hotel in Sector 10 where he was introduced to respondents Rashpal Singh and Mann.

The alleged kidnappers threatened him to execute certain documents regarding the land so that Rashpal Singh “could construct a big colony”. He was then, on gun point, forced to write a receipt regarding the payment of Rs 5 lakh “in lieu of token money of agreement”. The receipt, he alleged, was “got prepared under threat”.

The petitioner had concluded that he and his family were being threatened by the respondents. They were claiming that the local police was “in their hands” and they could do anything.

Students’ petitions admitted

The High Court has admitted a bunch of petitions filed by BDS students seeking directions for prohibiting the state of Punjab and other respondents from charging money beyond the fees mentioned in the prospectus and a notification issued on May 14.

Directions for the refund of the excess amount paid by them as fees and other charges for the “first professional”, along with 18 per cent interest, were also sought by the students.

Claiming to have been admitted to the BDS course in the “free seat category” after passing their plus two examinations, Supriya Sharma and 32 others, in one such petition, had asserted that as per the May 14 notification the prescribed fee was Rs 1100. But the government, while abolishing the seats in the NRI quota hiked the fees. The same was not rolled back even after the High Court directed the state of Punjab to admit students in the NRI quota.

After going through the petitions and hearing the arguments, a Division Bench of the High Court, comprising Mr Justice J.S. Khehar and Mr Justice M.M. Kumar, admitted the petitions before directing their hearing within three months.



5 sentenced for culpable homicide

Moga, December 11
A local court has held guilty all five accused, including a father and his two sons, for culpable homicide and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonments ranging from five to six years.

Additional Sessions Judge Sukhdev Singh yesterday sentenced Dharam Singh, son of Dayal Singh to rigorous imprisonment for six years.

The other four accused Dayal Singh, Sewak Singh, Satna Singh and Meeta Singh were all sentenced to five years’ rigorous imprisonment.

According to the prosecution, Dharam Singh with other coaccused inflicted injuries on the complainant, Jasveer Singh, who remained unconscious for many days.

The accused took the step against Jagseer Singh as they suspected him of harassing Dayal Singh’s daughter. — PTI



Two get life term for murder
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 11
The Additional Sessions Judge of a fast-track court, Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, today sentenced Baldev Singh and Harjinder Kaur to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 1,000 for the murder of Rashpal Singh.

Harjinder Kaur, wife of Rashpal Singh, was having an extra-marital affair with Baldev Singh, a resident of Reouli in Haryana. Boty of them were accused of having murdered Rashpal Singh.



3 SAD leaders get interim bail

Ropar, December 11
Three SAD leaders — Mr Ranjit Singh Barhampura, former minister, Mr Kiran Vir Singh Kang, vice-president of the district unit of SAD, and Mr Bir Singh Lopokae — who were booked by the Ropar police for violating Section 144 of the Cr.PC on December 1 when Mr Parkash Singh Badal appeared in court were today granted anticipatory bail by the Additional Sessions Judge of Ropar, Mr J.S. Khushdil. — OC


Farmers ignore PAU counsel, get good yield of Bt cotton
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, December 11
As a section of the farmers of the district who have grown BT cotton, thereby defying the disapproval of the state government and Punjab Agricultural University (PAU), Ludhiana, have got a better yield as compared to those who have sown traditional varieties, the district agriculture authorities have suggested to the Punjab Government to allow the cultivation of BT cotton in a big way from next year to malco growers prosperous.

The district agriculture authorities pointed out that by keeping in view the benefits of the cultivation of BT cotton, the Punjab Government should make arrangements of its certified seeds through its agencies like Punseed and the Department of Agriculture so that it could be started from the next cotton season.

Though the state government and PAU authorities are yet to decide over the fact whether cultivation of BT cotton in Punjab should be allowed or not, a sizeable number of farmers of the Malwa region, who have been bearing the brunt of bollworm attack for the past many years, shifted to the cultivation of BT cotton on their own by arranging seeds from various cotton-producing states of India.

Last year, a large number of farmers of Muktsar district carried out the cultivation of BT cotton stealthily and got a huge produce and, hence, earned handsome money, as they did not find any difficulty to sell their produce in the markets. This year, a significant number of farmers of Muktsar, Mansa and Bathinda shifted to the cultivation of BT cotton and they have got better results.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that in this district alone, the farmers had managed to produce on an average about 15 quintals of cotton from one acre of land, while the farmers, who had sown traditional cotton varieties, managed to get produce ranging from 7 quintals to 10 quintals only.


Plan to launch housing scheme
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 11
The Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) plans to launch a housing scheme for all serving and retired officials of the government of Punjab, other states, central government, the UT Administration and their boards and corporations.

Plots of up to one kanal and built-up flats of up to four bed rooms will be constructed near Chandigarh, Ludhiana and Jalandhar on no profit, no loss basis, according to Mr Anil Kaushik, Managing Director of the PPHC. He said in a press release here today that the colonies so developed would be provided with all the civic amenities and other infrastructure e.g. shopping complexes, community centres, schools, clubs, health centres, etc.


4 killed in road accidents
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 11
Four persons, including a woman, died while three others were seriously injured in road accidents that took place here and in Mansa district.

Meanwhile, the death toll in yesterday’s road accident, that took place near Gurthari village rose to five as one more occupant of the car died late last night.

Two persons identified as Sunil Kumar and Gurmail Singh died on the spot while three other occupants of the car identified as Jaspal Kumar, Amar Chand and Baljit Singh received serious injuries when a car and a truck collided head on near Bahini Bagha village in Mansa district.

In another road accident that took place near Bhairpura village a youth identified as Rajwinder Singh and a woman died after a truck hit their motor-cycle. One of their associate identified as Tarnjit Singh was seriously injured and admitted to the Civil Hospital, Bhadaur.

Cases had been registered in this regard.


Dalits, Zamindars clash: Sec 307 added to FIR
against 18
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 11
The district police yesterday added Section 307 (attempt to murder) of the IPC to the FIR registered against 18 persons (belonging to the Zamindars’ group) after an alleged clash between Dalits and Zamindars of Hasanpur village, near Dhuri, over a disputed piece of “shamlat” (common land) in the village on November 11 last. In this clash 20 persons from both sides were injured.

After the clash, the Dhuri police had registered a case under Sections 307, 323, 148, 149, 353, 186, 332 of the IPC and Section 3 of the SC Act, 1989, against the 18 persons, but later removed Section 307 of the IPC from the FIR. This was opposed by the Dalits.

Talking to TNS, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur, said in the normal medical report, the injuries were simple and blunt, but now they had received a medico-legal report, on the basis of which they had added Section 307 of the IPC to the FIR.

Mr Dhillon also said he had transferred the investigation of the case from Dhuri to Sangrur. Now Mr Bhupinder Singh Sidhu, DSP (Rural), Sangrur, had been appointed investigation officer (IO) while Mr Darshan Singh, Inspector, SHO, Sangrur, would assist the DSP in this case.


Two sentenced to life for murdering servant

Sangrur, December 11
A local court today sentenced a proprietor of a chemist shop and a co-accused to life on the charge of abducting and murdering his servant. He suspected that the servant had illicit relationship with his wife.

The third accused Shamsher Singh, the brother of Partap Singh, died during pendancy of the trial.

Both accused have also been fined Rs 10,000 each and in case of a default in payment of fine they would have to further undergo rigorous imprisonment for one year under Section 302 of the IPC (murder).

Additional Sessions Judge Varinder Kumar further sentenced the accused to 10 years imprisonment and a fine of Rs 2,000 each under Section 364 (abduction in order to murder). In case of default in payment of fine they would have to undergo rigorous imprisonment for six months.

The accused have also been sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for three months under section 201 of the IPC (causing disappearance of evidence of an offence committed) and a fine of Rs 1,000. In case of default in payment of fine they would have to further undergo imprisonment for three months.

All sentences would run concurrently, the court observed in its 29 page judgment.

According to the prosecution case on January 22, 2001, the accused Partap Singh took Surjit Singh to introduce him in the Ludhiana wholesale market for purchasing some medicines. Because Surjit Singh after being shunted out from the service by the accused Partap hired a nearby shop to run the same business.

The accused took Surjit Singh in their car along with a cash of Rs 75,000 for purchasing medicines. However, Partap Singh, a proprietor and Suba Singh throttled Surjit Singh to death near Ghular Khurd village and threw the body into the canal. — PTI


Eight booked for duping villager
Our Correspondent

Barnala, December 11
The local police has unearthed a racket of duping innocent villagers of the region on the pretext of sending them abroad.

Disclosing this Dr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, said police was able to solve about 12 fake NRI marriage cases after a complaint was lodged by Mr Joginderpal Singh. The police has registered a case against the eight accused under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120-B.

Dr Bhargav said that  Kimti Lal Jain, Renu Jain, Mahinder Singh, Swaranjit Kaur, Major Singh, Seera Singh, Maya Devi and Paramjit Kaur were instrumental in duping Joginderpal Singh on the pretext of sending his nephew Mr Gundeep Singh abroad after getting him married to an NRI girl. The accused trapped Joginderpal Singh by fixing his nephew’s marriage with a girl named Paramjit Kaur on March 26. They took Rs 17 lakh in three installments from Joginderpal Singh in this regard.

The accused have been remanded in police custody, Dr Bhargav added.

He said the police succeeded in recovering cash and goods worth Rs 17 lakh from the accused. During interrogation, the accused confessed that they were instrumental in solemnising 11 marriages. They had duped Mr Mohan Singh of Kutba village in Mehal Kalan police station of Rs 16 lakh on the same pretext.


Petrol station staff looted of 1.17 lakh

Batala, December 11
Two persons looted Rs 1.17 lakh from petrol station staff in Dhariwal town in Gurdaspur district today. According to the police, Joginder Singh and another employee of Shah Service Station, Dhariwal, were going to Union Bank to deposit the cash on a scooter when two persons snatched the bag containing cash and fled from the spot, they said.

The police has registered a case in this connection. — PTI


Tehsildar held for graft
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, December 11
The Vigilance Bureau today arrested Tehsildar G.S. Brar when he allegedly was accepting a bribe from a farmer Kishan Singh for attesting mutation of a piece of his land.

A case was registered in this connection under the Prevention of Corruption Act by Vigilance Bureau police station at Bathinda.


Students boycott house test
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, December 11
A few students of Akal Degree College, Mastuana Sahib, 5 km from here, under the leadership of the Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) boycotted the house test for the second day today.

On the other hand the college administration today announced the postponement of house tests for the next two days.

Mr Sukhcharan Preet, district president of the PRSU, said students also staged a dharna and raised slogans in support of their demands. Some college teachers also joined the rally. The dharna was lifted when the college Principal assured that the amount of hiked fee would be refunded to the students by December 15.

When contacted over the phone today, Mr Ram Singh Kular, Principal of the college, said the house tests had been postponed for the next two days and added that the college would decide the next date of tests on December 13. He said barring some students, all other students today also appeared in the house test.

The Principal said the college had already refunded the amount of hiked fee, rolled back by the state government, to more than 100 students. He said, however, the amount of the fee could not be refunded to those who had already left the college or to some due to the pressure of work on the college staff. He said amount of hiked fee would be refunded to the remaining students in two to three days.


NGO gives woollens to needy students
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 11
The Patiala Social Welfare Society, an NGO, organised a function at the Government Senior Secondary School, Sauja, here today to distribute woollens to needy students of the school. The woollens were given away by social activist Ms Satinder Kaur.

Highlighting the contribution made by the organisation in the past the president of the society, Mr Vijay Kumar Goyal, informed that the society had provided artificial limbs to nearly 1,000 handicapped people of the city and nearby places.

In addition, the society had also organised two eye check-up camps, in which they had distributed medicines and lenses free of cost to the patients.

Mr Goyal added that the society had also distributed sewing machines worth Rs 45,000 to the poor and needy women. Besides this, on every Saturday the society also provides free medicines to the poor patients admitted in local Rajindra Hospital. The society is also planning to provide computer education to students living in the rural areas so that they are at par with the urban students. In the end the Principal of the school Krishanjit Kaur presented a vote of thanks.


Gurmat Sangeet introduced in Punjabi varsity
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 11
To promote and preserve cultural traditions of Punjab, Punjabi University has started Gurmat Sangeet as a subject at the academic level.

The university has planned the subject from the primary level to the research level. Besides this, with the establishment of Gurmat Sangeet Chair, the development in the field of music tradition has got a further boost. This effort of the university would go a ‘long way’ in acquainting and apprising the Punjabi youth with their rich cultural heritage and religious values.

As many as 120 students have sought admission in diploma in Gurmat Sangeet this year. Earlier a five days personal contact programme (PCP) was organised by the varsity from December 4 to 10 on the campus. The founder coordinator of the programme, Dr Gurnam Singh, informed that during the PCP, students were imparted knowledge of different ragas, singing styles, kirtan, choukias based on the prescribed musicology as ordained by the Sikh gurus.


Cultural workshop for special kids
Our Correspondent

Patiala, December 11
Navjivini School of Special Education, Sullar in collaboration with the North Zone Cultural Centre is organising a cultural workshop for mentally challenged children at Amar Ashram from December 15 to 17.

As many as 300 children of the special schools of Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pardesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Chandigarh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and Utttaranchal are expected to participate in the workshop.

During the workshop the children will be taught art and craft, best out of the waste, folk dances, drawing, painting and clay modeling.

The State Director for Social Security and Women & Child Development, Mr Som Parkash, will inaugurate the workshop on December 15.


WLL service soon
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, December 11
Telephone exchanges at Rajpura, Zirakpur, Dera Bassi and Lalru will introduce Wireless-in-Local Loop (WLL) service shortly. With this facility the telephone subscribers will be able to use their CDMA handsets introduced by the Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL).

This statement was made by Mr Rajiv Sharma, General Manager of telephone exchanges in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts. He was here to inspect the local telephone exchange that was partially damaged in a fire two days ago. After linking Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Dappar and Lalru exchanges the subscribers and been benefited a lot, he claimed.

Mr Sharma added that for strong connectivity and networking of mobile phones, BSNL had already installed signal towers in Dera Bassi and Lalru.

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