P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Much done, more to do, says CM
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today said though he was ''not satisfied'' with the achievements in the current year, yet several achievements were logged. This was despite a frail fiscal health, delay in the World Bank financial assistance, an acute shortage of over 20,000 schoolteachers, presence of 30 lakh jobless youth and a large number of vacant posts of doctors.

In an informal interaction with the media on New Year's Eve, he recapitulated 2003 and fantasied on 2004 the ''Year of Consolidation'' as he put it. If 2002 was the ''Year of Stability'', reforms were initiated in 2003, the ''Year of Development''. As there is always a gestation period, results in terms of fiscal consolidation, economic resurgence, infrastructure development and agro-industrial growth, therefore, would start showing signs from next year.

Capt Amarinder Singh went on to say that the process of reforms had picked up pace, foodgrain production and procurement was plentiful and smooth, farmers were benefited to the tune of Rs 2,500 crore in 2003 alone and the industry visualised Punjab as an investor-friendly destination. The state electricity board was out of the red, new thermal and hydro-electric generation projects were on the anvil, assured, uninterrupted 24-hour electricity supply was being made available and people were appreciative of the good governance they have had during these past two years.

On the relationship between the state and the NDA government, he said it was ''pathetic and sad''. Punjab continued to be discriminated against by the Centre, denying it even the rightful economic and financial dues and share in development projects. The Centre's ''dirty-trick'' department was ever out to destabilise the government and remained unresponsive to even genuine needs like allowing it to export wheat to Pakistan. ''Even my letters were not acknowledged by the Prime Minister's Office,'' he added.

The Chief Minister favoured pro-active participative role and function of Punjab in trade exchange between India and Pakistan. The open trade between the two countries would be of immense economic benefit to the state in general and the ''economically dead'' border districts of Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Ferozepore. He mentioned the telephone call he had recently received from his Pakistan Punjab counterpart and invitation already extended to him to visit Indian Punjab. But his letter to the Pakistan Punjab Chief Minister was not cleared by the Ministry of External Affairs. Capt Amarinder Singh said it was difficult to name the most spectacular achievements of 2003. But the areas he had already identified in the social and economic sectors were on the government agenda in 2004 and would get priority as reforms were implemented.

He, however, skirted the question to name the most regrettable event of 2003. ''As a human being, one makes a lot of mistakes. But the people are with me. There are reports of prayers being held for my success and at some places even akhand paths have been held. My wish for 2004 is to put our heart and head together into jointly completing the unfinished tasks to put Punjab back on a high pedestal of quality life and restore smile on the face of every Punjabi.''

On the present crisis in the Congress, he said this was an unfortunate development but things would settle down sooner than later. It was time for all the party men to close their ranks and brace up to face the Lok Sabha elections, expected some time in May next. He was also emphatic that the present so-called dissidence did not mean political instability. It would not affect either the industrial investment climate or the anti-corruption campaign aimed at cleansing the system.


Achievements nil, only confrontation, says Badal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today said there were no achievements in 2003 nor does he expect any in 2004 from the present Congress government whose performance was nil in the past two years. ''Why talk of achievements or governance, when there is no government.'' This government had harmed the state.

In the given atmosphere of political confrontation, there apparently was no role to perform for the Opposition. As a vibrant party, the Akali Dal would have walked any length with the ruling party in the interest of the state and welfare of the people. ''However, such cooperation was never sought, rather we were targeted and investigated. Several of us were proceeded against by the Vigilance on fictitious complaints.''

The Akali leader said Capt Amarinder had neither done nor would he do anything that the Opposition wished he would do in the interest of the state.

On the early Lok Sabha elections, he said his party preferred May, 2004, as farmers would be free from wheat harvesting operations. This was conveyed to the NDA. ''We are prepared. Our meeting here tomorrow will also do stock-taking on this issue,'' he added.

Talking to media persons, the Akali Dal chief reiterated the demand for an inquiry by the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence into the alleged ''hawala'' transactions of $ 100,000, involving Raninder Singh, son of the Chief Minister, in telecommunication network. He also rejected out of hand the proposed institution of the so-called commission of inquiry into the episode by a retired judge of the High Court. ''Only registration of a criminal case will meet the ends of justice. But even that will be meaningless as long as Capt Amarinder Singh holds the portfolio as Minister in charge of Home Affairs and Justice and continued to be the Chief Minister,'' he added.

Mr Badal said since the issue involved was serious, the government must come out clean by ordering a thorough probe and to the satisfaction of the people. He listed the limitations and system constraints the commission of inquiry would face, given the worldwide ramifications of the scam on which some proof had been given even to the Prime Minister.

On the transfer of the ADGP, Mr A.P. Pandey, as the Chief Director, Vigilance Bureau, the former Chief Minister said his removal was never sought by the Akali Dal but his transfer from there did confirm that some grave wrong must have been done or he committed a mistake. To a question on Indo-Pakistan relations, Mr Badal said his party had always been a strong votary of good relations between these two countries. If there was to be open trade between the two Punjabs, on either side of the fence, it would be of immense benefit to ''our Punjab and the party will approach the Prime Minister to involve Punjab in Indo-Pak ventures in the economic interest of the state. ''As a land-locked state, Punjab has many disadvantages. Opening of the trade border will resuscitate the economy,'' he added.


Probe ordered by CM meaningless, says BJP
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The proposed one-man commission of inquiry by a retired judge of the High Court to probe the ‘‘hawala’’ type racket involving Raninder Singh, son of Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh was a hoax.

It was misconceived and well-planned strategy to fool opponents and Congress dissidents as the Chief Minister had already declared the fate of the inquiry at his press conference yesterday that he wanted his son’s name to be cleared. This was stated by the Punjab BJP President, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, in a press statement today.

The Captain, he said, was a clever player. His directions to the Chief Secretary to find out a retired judge to probe Raninder’s involvement was meaningless.

However, Mr Khanna said Raninder’s case demanded multidimensional investigation and the same was possible by either the Central Bureau of Investigation or the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence.

A delegation of the BJP and its ally, SAD, comprising office-bearers, MLAs and MPs, will meet Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishan Advani to get this multi-crore “hawala” type scandal probed by either the CBI or the DRI.


No faith in police, say complainants
Evidence overlooked in Daler case, alleges ex-SSP
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 31
Six complainants in the Daler Mehndi case today claimed they did not have any faith in the Patiala police, even as former district Senior Superintendent of Police Paramraj Singh Umranangal said the police had overlooked evidence collected on file against the pop singer to facilitate his release on bail.

The Patiala SSP, Mr A. S. Rai, however, claimed that the police had gone by documentary evidence in the case. He said most of the complainants had not even turned up when asked to substantiate their claims, adding that those who did show up said they did not want to say anything more than what was already on record.

Six complainants in the case — Bakshish Singh, Harcharan Singh, Malkit Singh, Jaswinder Singh, Kashmir Singh and Sarabjit Singh — addressing a press conference here, said the police had not taken any steps to recover the missing passports in the case. They also claimed that despite giving details about money given to Daler, no effort had been taken to recover the same.

The complainants also alleged that the police first secured police remand of Daler and even got it extended on the plea that he was to be taken to Mumbai. They said instead of taking Daler to Mumbai, the police claimed that it did not need the pop star in the case at all. They said “such an action” had shocked them and that they would now approach the court for “justice” in the case. The complainants, when asked about any evidence about having given money to Daler, said they had witnesses in this regard. However, they said they did not have any other evidence.

Mr Umranangal, claimed that Shamsher had disclosed during questioning in the case that Daler had been taking people abroad as members of his troupe and leaving them there since 1996. The police officer claimed that Shamsher had said that seven girls had been left at San Francisco in 1996 and that two persons had been left at Toronto by Daler. He claimed that the Patiala police had only entertained complaints of people who had dealt with Daler in Patiala and all action had been taken according to facts available on record. “I was right”, he added.

Mr Rai said a few of the complainants were now alleging that they did not have faith in the Patiala police, but they had not corroborated a single allegation levelled against Daler. He said Daler had himself proved through photographs that he had been attending a family function on the day he was supposed to have received the bribe. Mr Rai said the complainants could not steer the investigation on their own, adding that their role was over once they had listed their allegations.

Meanwhile, Range Inspector-General of Police Shashi Kant said he would recommend action against police officers who were in charge of the case if it was found that they had implicated the pop singer. Range Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) I.P.S. Sahota said he would shortly issue a notice to Daler to give his statement with regard to bribery allegations levelled by him against an erstwhile personnel of the Patiala police.


Examine convicts’ cases afresh, says Governor
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Release of 41 convicts serving life sentence has been held back as the Governor of Punjab, Justice O.P. Verma, has returned the file to the state government for examining it afresh in the light of a recent Supreme Court verdict which stalled the release of life convicts by the Haryana Government.

Though they were to be released on Independence Day, these life convicts could not be released even on New Year’s Eve.

In fact, as many as 115 cases in which the state government ordered remission of balance of sentence of imprisonment for life on Independence Day this year have been put to fresh scrutiny and are at different levels of adjudication.

The Punjab Government had ordered release of 496 life convicts on August 15 this year, of which only 328 could be released so far.

In November, Punjab Raj Bhavan referred back cases of 41 life convicts to the Department of Home Affairs and Justice asking it to examine afresh all these cases recommended for remission of balance of sentence.

Though the department has sent the cases back to Raj Bhavan maintaining that all these remissions have been ordered in accordance with a 1991 policy approved by the Governor after wetting by the Legal Remembrancer and the Advocate-General of the State.

The department held that in the case of Haryana where the apex court intervened and stalled the release of life convicts, there was perhaps no such concrete policy and life convicts were being recommended to be released even before the minimum imprisonment period.

It further said that cases for remission of balance sentence were considered on the basis of the approved policy and as such had no connection with the apex court verdict in the case of Haryana life convicts.

The Home Department had sent back the file to Raj Bhavan in the middle of last month, but none of these cases have been cleared so far.

Of the 115 cases under re-adjudication, nine are pending with the Director-General of Prisons, 36 with the government, 55 with various district magistrates and 15 with central and district jails.

Delay in the release of convicts has been resented by the families of the convicts who maintain that even after remission was ordered on Independence Day, cases were held up, though the release orders were issued in the name of the Governor.


Hawala channel for money transfer unearthed
Sanjay Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
The Punjab Police has found a hawala channel used to transfer money to a Yamunanagar-based Pakistani spy Mehroof, who was arrested recently from Barnala while taking pictures of Barnala radar station.

The kingpin of the racket Devinder Singh of Gobindpura locality in Jalandhar was picked up by the police late last night for questioning, sources told The Tribune here today.

Devinder Singh is believed to have a hawala turnover of Rs 3 lakh per day, the police said.

The police expects the interrogation of the hawala kingpin will provide vital information about transfer of money by the ISI to its network active in Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra.

Devinder was working through his Dubai-based brother Kuldeep Singh, who used to get orders from abroad.

Devinder Singh is believed to be operating in the Doaba belt of Punjab to transfer the hawala money.

The police established the link between Mehroof and Devinder Singh when it came to know that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) had transferred an amount of Rs 1.2 lakh to the ISI agent.

The money was transferred to help Mehroof to help him settle in the border belt of Amritsar, Gurdaspur and Hoshiarpur and collect information about the movement of armoured divisions of the Indian Army.

The Barnala police which arrested 22-year-old Mehroof has recovered a map of the Ambala cantonment, one computer and a digital camera. Mehroof has confessed to have already sent photographs of air bases of Halwara, Hindon and the Barnala radar station to Pakistan.

It was a difficult task for the police and sleuths to find out a link between Mehroof and Devinder Singh as the Pakistani spy did not recognise the hawala kingpin nor did he know where Devinder Singh lived.

The link between the two was established when the series of the currency notes delivered to Mehroof was confirmed with Devinder Singh.

Devinder Singh was tracked through his mobile phone. Devinder Singh, according to the investigators, committed a mistake of taking his SIM card by submitting a photocopy of his driving licence which has his address.

Sources said generally those involved in this racket buy cash cards and give wrong addresses.

The sleuths had approached a mobile company to know which distributor was given a particular SIM card.

The company informed the investigators that it was given to a distributor in Jalandhar. The address of the hawala kingpin was revealed to them by the distributor of the mobile phones.

The police found the address of Devinder Singh but he escaped initially as he probably got a whiff of the police following him. He was caught in a second attempt by the police, sources said.


2 undertrials escape from Central Jail
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 31
The Central Jail was witness to a jailbreak last night when two undertrials removed the bricks around a ventilator with knives, attached an iron hook to the ropes and scaled two walls to escape.

Both prisoners, who were facing trial for possessing narcotics, escaped from the Central Jail between 2 and 3 am today. They removed bricks around to the ventilator of a bathroom by scratching away at the joints with knives. After getting out of the cell, they joined ropes issued to inmates to hang clothes. An iron hook was attached to the long rope, which was used to climb both the inner wall which is 10-feet high, and the outer wall, which is 18-feet high.

Senior Superintendent of Police A.S. Rai said immediately after getting news about the jailbreak, information had been sent to the Ghagga and Rajpura Sadar police stations, whose staff had arrested the undertrials. He said the undertrials had been identified as Jasbir Singh, a resident of Transport Nagar in Indore and Bihari, a resident of Bans Bareilly in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh. The SSP said as the district police had information about the hideouts of the two undertrials, teams had been despatched to these places.

The two undertrials had been lodged in barrack No 4, also known as the “Bhatta” barrack. There were 94 undertrials in the barrack and all inmates were using a common bathroom. The “lambardar” of the barrack, also a convict, did not report any untoward incident during his duty. However, when another “lambardar” replaced him at 3 am, he found only 92 persons, in the barrack after a physical check. The police personnel doing duty in the inner compound were immediately informed about the missing persons following which police personnel on duty on the outer wall were also alerted. However, the undertrials had made good their escape by then.

According to sources, the undertrials managed to scale the outer wall of the jail compound despite sentries being on duty there. The sources said the undertrials had escaped from an area which was between the post of sentry No 9 and sentry No 10. The convicts jumped the outer wall along the Bhadson road to escape.

Meanwhile, Jail Superintendent Jagjit Singh had to cut short his leave and return to the jail complex today after coming to know about the jailbreak. The Superintendent said the jail staff was taking down the statements of the inmates lodged in the barrack as well as the “lambardar” who was on duty at the time of the incident. He said a similar exercise was being conducted with regard to the jail police personnel posted on the inner and outer walls. He said only when this process was completed could the involvement or negligence of the jail staff be ascertained in the case.


Attari-Lahore phone link on cards
Rashmi Talwar

Attari, December 31
For the first time phone lines are being laid to connect the Attari railway station directly with Lahore, in preparations for the resumption of Samjhauta Express from next month. The lines are likely to be made operational in a fortnight’s time.

Earlier, an electro magnetic phone was operating between the two countries. As soon as Samjhauta Express reached Wagah on the Pakistani side the two sides (Wagah and Attari) communicated with each other in connection with its departure and arrival, line clearance, signaling and other formalities on both sides.

The new communication device will help the staff, especially of the Customs and Immigration, to be prepared much in advance for its arrival.

According to sources, the lines have been laid till zero line and may become operational any time before the commencement of the train. The new phone link will also benefit a goods train that run between the two countries. Both communication devices will work simultaneously.

It is learnt that Customs staff have also been given fresh guidelines. According to information, the custom duty will be paid in bank, which is likely to be a branch of the State Bank of India at the Attari station. In addition to this, a specific maximum amount will be allowed to be carried by custom staff at the station.


BSP (Ambedkar) merges with BSP
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 31
The Bahujan Samaj Party (Ambedkar), headed by Mr Devi Dass Nahar has merged with the Bahujan Samaj Party led by Ms Mayawati.

The announcement to merge the BSP (A) with the BSP was made by Mr Devi Dass Nahar at a press conference jointly addressed by him and Mr Narinder Kashayap, national general secretary of the BSP and a member of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council, at the local civil rest house today.

Mr Kashayap said Mr Nahar had been inducted into the BSP. He said though the merger was unconditional, Mr Nahar and his supporters would be given full respect in the BSP. Mr Nahar said he had already dissolved BSP (A) units in Punjab and Haryana and merged these into the BSP. He said more than one lakh workers of the BSP (A) had joined the BSP with the merger.

Mr Kashayap stated that the BSP would contest the Lok Sabha elections on its own.

He said the party was in favour of an alliance with like-minded parties but completely ruled out any tie-up with the BJP.

Mr Kashayap, who is in charge of BSP affairs in Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Jammu and Kashmir, said his party had a soft corner for the Congress. He stated that the final decision would be taken at a meeting of the national executive to be held in Delhi soon.

Mr Kashayap said the merger of the parties had the blessings of BSP supremo Kanshi Ram and national president Mayawati.

Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state president, BSP, welcomed the merger.

Prominent among those who were present at the press conference were Mr Subash Tamboli, president, Chandigarh unit, Mr Azad Singh, Mr Man Singh Manhera, all leaders of the BSP (A), Mr Avtar Singh Karimpuri, state president, Mr Pawan Tinu, Mr Tarsem Doula, Mr Tarsem Thapar, all BSP leaders. Later, BSP leaders addressed a “milap” rally at Jallowkhana Chowk.


CM’s effigy burnt
Tribune News Service

Patiala, December 31
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) Youth Wing workers today burned the effigy of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, near the Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib today and demanded holding of a CBI inquiry into allegations of hawala transactions made against his son, Raninder Singh.

The dharna, which was held under the presidentship of district Youth Akali Dal president Jaswinder Singh Jassi, was also attended by SAD Youth Wing national vice-presidents Satwinder Singh Tohra and Jaswinder Singh Swarajpur besides general secretary Ranjit Singh Nikra.


SAD (A) to contest SGPC poll
Our Correspondent

Amloh, December 31
The Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) will participate in the SGPC and Parliament elections for which programme for conferences was drawn up at a meeting on Wednesday said Mr. Ravinder Singh Khalsa, district president youth wing in press note here today.

The first conference will be held on January 10, at Samrala in Ludhiana district thereafter conferences will be organised at Bassi Pathana and Mulepur in Fatehgarh Sahib district. Besides others the conferences will be addressed by SAD (Amritsar) chief Simranjit Singh Mann. It was felt at the meeting that all development works in the state had come to a stand still and officers often remained absent from the offices.

The help extended by Mr. Parkash Singh Badal to Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was also criticised at the meeting Mr. Khalsa asserted. He asked people to adopt revolutionary thinking and keep away from the false propaganda.


A village’s fall from grace
Anirudh Gupta

NOORPUR SETHAN: (Ferozepore): Political interference and the government’s apathy has robbed this village of the distinction of being the “best village”. It was awarded the coveted title of being the best village of the country in 1971-72 on account of its unique achievements.

The village has now fallen on bad days owing to the apathy of the district administration and growing political interference in village affairs.

Old-timers talk of how every family of the village used to work collectively towards the development and beautification of the village, irrespective of political or caste considerations. Brotherhood and communal harmony were the hallmarks of this village as the panchayat elected sarpanch unanimously for more than 30 years. Today, however, this village seems to have become a victim of vested political interests.

Around 30 years ago, any visitor would have seen clear drains and clean streets. Now, heaps of garbage are seen all over the village.

Residents are encroaching upon panchayat land with impunity, which has brought a bad name to this village, complains a local resident. Appeals by the villagers to the administration in this regard have fallen on deaf years.

Given the large numbers of voters as compared to the neighbouring villages, Noorpur Sethan has always caught the attention of political leaders. Mr Jawahar Singh, namberdar, and Mr Balwant Singh, member of the panchayat, tell of a person who got an electric motor installed in the grain market of the village, while another has stocked cattle feed on panchayat land and cut trees in the grain market, all against rules. This has been happening allegedly under patronage from certain politicians, they add.

Villagers now keep their cattle along the village roads, which makes difficult to pass through the narrow lanes.

Even at the social level, there has been a fall. Many villagers have taken to gambling and satta. Youths are falling prey to drugs, now freely available in the village.

However, there is good news too. While farming remains the mainstay of most of the villagers, some of them have started small agro-businesses. Farmers of this village are considered far more progressive than those of the surrounding villages.

Two clubs functional in the village, Sher-e-Punjab Sports Club and Youth Welfare Club, have started organising cultural and sports events to keep the youths away from drugs.

Elders of the village have appealed to the local leaders not to convert their village into a political arena.


Jail with a difference
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, December 31
The very mention of the word “jail” sends shivers down the spine of all and sundry. While jailed criminals explore the possibilities to break free, the police tries hard to keep them confined to the four walls.

Due to overcrowding in Punjab jails, incidents of jailbreak, scuffle among inmates, and smuggling of narcotics within their four walls have become common. Over the years, the number of deaths of inmates in jails has also been on the rise.

But the local Central Jail is different from other jails. The small efforts it made this year has gone a long way in improving the life of the inmates, mostly belonging to Bathinda and Mansa districts.

Health check-up camps, religious functions, sports competitions, cultural functions, AIDS awareness camps, spiritual and yoga camps, held in the past few months at the jail, has turned it into a home for the inmates.

The authorities have managed to equip the jail with various facilities, including a water cooler, three colour TV sets and ceiling fans for the convenience of the inmates. A courtyard has also been developed into a mini garden.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Saggu, Superintendent, Central Jail, talking to TNS here, said many projects for the betterment of inmates had been undertaken with the help of NGOs. This had helped to reduce monotony and depression among the inmates.


Soldier battles for pension
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Disabled during military service, Signalman Manjinder Singh, a resident of Kharar, near here, is now engaged in a battle of another kind — to get his rightful dues and disability pension.

After waging a legal battle to get his pension revised, he came in for a rude shock when the pension was again reduced by the office of the Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA) at Allahabad.

Two letters issued by the Signals records office containing contradictory information appear to be the reason for this.

After serving for over 10 years in the Army, Manjinder was boarded out in 1996 with 80 per cent disability after suffering from high altitude sickness, loss of hearing and other ailments.

These were attributed to military service and he was initially granted Rs 90 per month as disability pension which was later raised to Rs 775.

After the scales were revised following recommendations by the Fifth Pay Commission, the pension scale was raised from Rs 775 to Rs 1,550 per month, but he kept getting the same amount.

It was after his case was taken up by the Ex-Servicemen Grievances Cell, Mohali in August, 2002, that his pension was revised by the CDA. However, the disability pension has again been reduced by the CDA to Rs 775 per month.

A letter issued by the records office in October 2001 states that Manjinder is entitled to disability pension of Rs 775 per month for life.

However, after revision of scales, a fresh letter issued by the office in June, 2002, states that he is entitled to Rs 1,550 per month from June, 1996, to April, 2001.

“It is not understood why the records office has changed the wordings and mentioned a time period in its second letter when a competent authority had recommended 80 per cent disability for life and no subsequent medical board was held,” Lieut-Col S.S. Sohi, the grievance cell’s president, said here today while providing details about the case.

”We are again taking up the matter with the CDA as well as the Adjutant General’s Branch for release of his dues along with arrears,” he added.

Colonel Sohi added that Manjinder was still getting just Rs 375 per month as service pension whereas the minimum pension for an Indian soldier, as prescribed by the pay commission, was Rs 1,275 per month.


Employees hold rally

Amritsar, December 31
The co-ordination committee of para-medical and health employees today held a protest rally in front of government mental hospital here. The rally was organised after the conclusion of chain hunger strike which was started in protest against the Director, Mental Hospital.

The employees demanded immediate transfer of Dr B.L. Goel, Director, Mental Hospital, reinstatement of class IV employees who were thrown out by him and independent enquiry of alleged misappropriation by the director mental hospital. — OC


Herbal garden at PAU
K.S. Chawla

Ludhiana: The Punjab Agricultural University has set up a herbal garden at the campus to intensify the research on herbs keeping in view the export potential of certain medicinal and aromatic plants. The university experts strongly feel that Punjab is endowed with resources, having a variety of soil and climatic conditions. A large number of medicinal and aromatic plants having an immense export potential and a place in the traditional system of medicine can be cultivated in different parts of the state.

According to Dr S.S. Saini, who is in charge of the herbal garden, some medicinal and aromatic crops like mentha, turmeric, fennel, dillseed, honey plant, safflower, fenugreek, coriander and isabgol have been recommended for cultivation on a commercial scale in the state.

Celery is grown for its seed and Punjab alone produces more that 80 per cent of the total production in India. Celery fits well in the rotation with cabbage, peas and potato.

Similarly, Punjab ranks second in the production of mentha oil in the country with an annual production of about 1500 tonnes. Mentha-potato rotation is the best and it can also be grown after toria/oats for fodder or intercropped with sugarcane.

Dr Saini says that in Punjab successful contractual farming of mentha is being carried on. Another crop — turmeric — has also been taken up by progressive farmers, particularly as an intercrop in poplar plantation. Still there is scope for increasing the area under some of these crops.

In addition to these crops, basil, palmarosa, lemongrass and citronella can be successfully grown in the state and have good scope for export. Dr Saini points out that only a limited area can be brought under any single medicinal or aromatic crop because expansion in area under a single crop will create problem of marketing in the national and international markets.

Keeping in view the importance of these crops and to see the feasibility of introducing some more crops, a herbal garden has been established at the Punjab Agricultural University with about 135 species grown in the garden.

It may be mentioned here that the President, Dr A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, had also evinced keen interest in the research on herbal plants during his visit to the PAU. The President has also laid a big herbal garden at Rashtrapati Bhavan.


Huge stock of drugs seized in Ludhiana
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
A huge stock of drugs, which were being stored in violation of norms, was seized from several shops located at Pindi Street in Ludhiana by officials of the Department of Health and Family welfare, Punjab, today.

According to Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, Director, Health Services, a team of drug inspectors led by the Assistant Drugs Controller, Punjab, seized drugs worth about Rs 12,000 from Jagdish Medical Hall. Drugs worth Rs 65,000, which were being stored in violation of storage conditions, were seized from Lifeline Enterprises. Addictive drugs worth about Rs 30,000 were also seized from this shop.

Drug inspectors also took away three samples of toothpaste containing tobacco for tests and analysis. In addition, 12 samples of various types of drugs, suspected to be spurious or substandard, were also taken for tests.


Narinder Sharma
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, December 31
Mr Narinder Sharma, Inspector-General of Police, Investigation, Lokpal, Punjab, has been transferred and posted as Inspector-General of Police, Computer and Telecommunication, against a vacant post with immediate effect, says an official press note issued by the Principal Secretary, Home Affairs and Justice.


4 arrested in murder case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, December 31
The district police has arrested four persons, including two police personnel, for gruesome murder of a Nepali labourer, whose body was found near Chaheru bridge yesterday.

A police spokesman said here today that the body of Ghambir Bahadur, who was working as a watchman at a rest house of the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB), was found yesterday. During the course of investigation, four persons; Rajinder Kumar, Sanjay Kumar and two police personnel — Vikasjot Singh and Vikas Kumar; were arrested.

Their fifth accomplice, identified as Rohit Kumar, was still absconding. The arrested persons revealed that Bahadur was in the habit of betting money on lotteries. The victim was sighted by the accused while carrying substantial sum of money in an inebriated condition near a lottery stall at Ladowali Road here yesterday. Using Vikasjot’s motor cycle, they took Bahadur alongwith them and forced him to consume more liquor.


Fake currency racket unearthed
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, December 31
The district police has unearthed a fake currency racket in Phagwara subdivision and arrested a man in this connection.

Mr S.K. Asthana, Senior Superintendent of Police, said Haripal, alias Hari, a resident of Prempura village in the district, had been arrested and 591 fake currency notes of the denomination of Rs 100 seized from him.

In a press note issued today, Mr Asthana said Haripal was arrested at a naka set up on the Hoshiarpur bypass on December 30 on a tip-off that he was coming on a scooter to Phagwara for the sale of currency notes. Apart from the fake currency notes, a computer a scanner and a printer were seized from him.

Mr Asthana said Haripal admitted that he used to prepare fake currency notes by scanning old currency notes and then printing them.


Vehicle lifters’ gang busted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, December 31
With the arrest of seven persons, the district police today claimed to have busted a notorious gang of vehicle lifters who were wanted in many cases.

While detailing Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, said the police had recovered two Maruti cars, seven motor cycles and three scooters besides fake registration cards. The police had registered a case under Sections 379, 411, 420, 468, 471 of the IPC. The accused were identified as Tejinder Singh of Boparai, Baj Singh, Dharamveer Singh, Lakhwinder Singh, Ranjit Singh, Sukhwinder Singh, Daljit Singh and Balwinder Singh. However, Rajinder Singh, brother of the Tejinder Singh who used to make fake RCs, managed to escape.

The SSP said the accused used to steal vehicles from outside the Golden Temple, Gurudwara Baba Shaheedan and from various marriage palaces.


NSS camp concludes

Patiala, December 31
A 10-day NSS camp, organised by the National Community Service, concluded at the government ITI here today.

The chief guest, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, Chairman, PRTC, while speaking on the occasion urged volunteers to come forward in a big way to help society eradicate social evils like dowry and drug abuse. TNS

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