P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Mystery shrouds ‘VB raid’ on Kaypee’s house
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 5
Even as mystery shrouded the “raid” by “sleuths” of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau on the local residence of the Punjab Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, a relaxed-sounding Mr Kaypee, who was away to Delhi, has taken up the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh.

Though the VB authorities denied that its officials were sent to the residence of Mr Kaypee by any senior official, three persons posing as VB officials visited Mr Kaypee’s house around 3 p.m. and made certain enquiries about Mr Kaypee and his family from servants and security staff.

The three, according to Mr Manoj Arora, a supporter of Mr Kaypee and a senior Congress leader, came in a private car and made enquiries about Mr Kaypee before leaving the place after 15 minutes. “They introduced themselves as officials from the VB, but when we made enquiries from the VB authorities, they denied that any of its officials had gone to Mr Kaypee’s residence,” said Mr Manoj Arora.

He said Ramesh Lal, a constable deputed at the residence of Mr Kaypee and with whom the “VB” men had interacted, was later whisked away by the Model Town police, probably to make enquiries about the appearance of the three alleged VB officials.

When contacted on his mobile, Mr Kaypee said he had taken up the matter with the CM. “The CM has told me that no one from Vigilance Bureau had been sent to my residence. I think we should be judicious before making any allegations. Let me come back and enquire into the matter,” said Mr Kaypee.

No VB raids on Kaypee’s residences
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab Vigilance Bureau today said that reports pertaining to the inspection of the residences of Technical Education and Industrial Training Minister, Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee, by vigilance personnel were baseless and malicious.

In a statement issued here today, the bureau has claimed that ADGP Vigilance, Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam, and IG, Vigilance, Mr S.M. Sharma, personally verified that no such personnel visited his residences, both at Jalandhar and Chandigarh.

Mr Alam, who was in Jalandhar today, said upon verification it was found that three miscreants, who were masquerading as vigilance personnel had visited the Jalandhar residence of Mr Kaypee and none had visited the Chandigarh residence. The miscreants only met the sentry on duty outside the residence and left immediately, it is learnt.


Fog may hit rabi crop
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The prevailing foggy weather has set alarm bells ringing among farmers as well as agriculture scientists in Punjab, Haryana and other parts of this region. The foggy weather, which started about a month ago, is likely to persist for some more days. Weather experts say there is no possibility of any break in the existing weather conditions. Sunny days will continue to dodge this region.

Already, experts have started making assessment whether the existing weather conditions have caused any loss to various rabi crops or not. “ If the prevailing foggy spell continues for some more days, it would certainly prove harmful for the wheat and mustard crop”, said a senior scientist of the Punjab Agriculture University.

In fact, there is no unanimity among experts on the adverse affects of the prevailing weather on the various rabi crops. Physiologists say that plants are getting the sunlight required for growth. They say there is nothing to worry about the health of plants at the moment. However, they agree that if the foggy spell continues for some more days, it would affect the various rabi crops.

However, certain agriculture scientists say that the existing weather conditions are not good for the crops. They say that growth of the plants have been affected because of the foggy weather. “First of all the soil is wet. It reduces the intake of various nutrients to plants and even air circulation among plants is affected. Wet soil also affects the roots of plants. The evaporation process among plants also remains negligible. And all this collectively stunts the growth of plants”, they add.

“Ice cool nights and bright day is a requirement of every plant during this period for proper growth”, they said. “ It also becomes difficult to remove weeds besides spraying of the pesticides and fertilising the crops in the existing situation”, according to them.

When contacted, Dr Jag Shoran, Officiating Director of the Wheat Research Institute of India at Karnal, told The Tribune on the phone that “there is nothing to be panicky because of the prevailing situation in this part of the country. Farmers should not be unduly worried at this stage. We are keeping a constant watch on the emerging scenario and making assessment with regard to the affect of the prevailing weather on the wheat crop almost on daily basis. Teams of experts have been sent to Punjab, Haryana and other parts of the country. There seems to be no adverse affect on the wheat crop as yet”.

Often such conditions lead to the attack of yellow and brown rust on wheat. Reports regarding the attack of yellow and brown rust have come from certain pockets which were being verified, Dr Shoran said.

Mr Ajmer Singh, Director Agriculture, Punjab, said that the wheat and other crops were in good health till date. There were no reports of the damage to the crops from any part of state. 


GM crops answer to Punjab's agriculture problems: expert
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Despite strong opposition from a section of the environmentalists and vested interests, the Punjab Government should take a bold decision to opt for the cultivation of genetically engineered crops, especially BT cotton in the state on a large scale. This will enable farmers and the state economy to have a competitive edge in the agriculture sector over farmers in other states. This was stated by Dr Gurdev Singh Khush, a renowned scientist, currently working at International Rice Research Institute (IRRI), Manila, Philippines, here today.

He was in the city to participate in the Indian Science Congress and present a paper on ‘Agricultural Technology Development and Adaptation: Implications for Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security.’

He called upon the state government and policy makers to opt for the genetically modified crops to beat the falling returns in the agriculture sector. He lamented that the monoculture of wheat-paddy crops in the state had resulted in the fall in the water table and erosion of rich soil. The area under cotton had also fallen, resulting in a fall in the income levels in the cotton belt. In this scenario, the state should promote the cultivation of BT cotton in on a large scale.

Dr Khush, who hails from Rurki village near Phagwara, had shifted to the USA in the early '50s. He is known for his work on hybrid rice varieties. At present, he said, he was working on golden rice varieties that would add vitamin A and iron to improve the nutritious value of the cereal. The project was undertaken in collaboration with the University of Delhi, South Campus, Rice Research Institute in Hyderabad and Tamil Nadu University.

He disclosed that the golden variety had been successfully developed and efforts were being made to introduce a high-yielding variety of paddy. He claimed that BT cotton had proved to be a major success in China and was grown on over 350 million hectares of land. In India also, he said, area under BT cotton had increased by 25 per cent to 2.50 lakh hectares of land. The results of BT cotton had already shown a substantial increase in yield, lower use of pesticides and even lower deaths from consumption of pesticides among farmers.

Appreciating the efforts of the Punjab Government to introduce contract farming in the state to promote diversification, he said,“ The state should move towards the cultivation of soybean, pulses and other crops to break the monoculture. There is a need to shift at least one million hectare area out of a total 2.5 million hectares under paddy to other crops. Punjab Agricultural University should work towards the development of high- yielding crops to encourage farmers to opt for diversification.”

Dr Khush claimed that with the increase in population and rise income levels, scientists would have to face the challenge of ensuring sustainable development of agriculture sector by introducing high-yielding varieties that were resistant to various diseases. Further, there was a need to bridge the gap between the yields in different areas. 


News Analysis
Congress infighting hits growth
by P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, January 5
As the Congress High Command works out a political solution to the crisis in Punjab, the President of India has given his assent to the anti-defection Constitutional (97th Amendment) Bill-2003. It has become a law, operative from January 1, 2004.

With this amendment, the dissidents led by Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, have lost the opportunity of leaving the party and precipitate the crisis for Capt Amarinder Singh and also the high command. This has also disappointed the Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, who too had dreamt that the Amarinder government would fall due to Bhattal-triggered dissident activity.

As for restricting the size of the Council of Ministers to 15 per cent of the total strength of the House, both at the Centre and in the states, this provision will come into effect after six months of notification.

Meanwhile, the common refrain is that the in-house fighting in the Congress has adversely impacted the state’s economy, slowed down implementation of reforms and bruised the confidence of the people, who had voted for the Congress in place of the Akalis.

Commenting on this crisis, the state’s Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, said today that “window dressing”, either political or bureaucratic, would not help to reverse the harm the internal bickering has done to the economy and reforms. This would have a cascading effect for several years. Therefore, without “change of heart and thought” within the party, hope was dim for the resurgence of Punjab, change or no change of the Congress Legislative Party leader.

Dr Johl said the Congress had turned its ‘’own enemy’’, thus, giving a setback to governance. This had also estranged the Centre-state relations and the consequent indifferent attitude of the later that had put the crop diversification plan in a deep-freeze. Punjab had demanded Rs 1,250 crore, per year, to break the paddy-wheat cycle and replacing it with cash crops. “Rather than giving this money, the Centre chose to incur a loss of Rs 6,000 crore in the export of over 10 million tonnes of wheat”.

Thus, as Punjab awaits the final word from New Delhi, where party leaders are trying different permutation and combinations, it is reliably learnt that one of the proposals was to induct a Deputy Chief Minister. If this happened, it will necessitate a reshuffle of the Council of Ministers and administration. The Chief Minister Office is now live, since Mr Suresh Kumar, joined as new Principal Secretary to the CM.

There are at least four claimants to the post of Deputy Chief Minister in both camps. Of them three are ministers, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Mr Harnam Das Johar and Chaudhary Jagjit Singh.

The fourth is the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan. If Dr Kewal Krishan is made Deputy Chief Minister, he may get Finance, as well, given his experience or even Home Affairs and Justice, given his seniority and proximity to the Chief Minister. The latter could possibly happen only if the Chief Minister, is compelled to part with the Home portfolio. Chaudhary Santokh Singh could, perhaps, make it as Speaker.

Capt Amarinder Singh told The Tribune that there was a possibility of an expansion of the Council of Ministers, which will mean reshuffle of portfolios, as new entrants would be adjusted. Several ministers at present held more than one portfolio. He hinted at giving more representation to women and Dalits.


Move on deputationists raises hackles
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab Police Services Association has threatened to move the Punjab and Haryana High Court against the decision of the Punjab Government to permanently retain 12 paramilitary officers (PMF) on deputation from the CRPF and the BSF in the Punjab Police.

The association said it was already in touch with legal experts to file a petition in the court soon. Talking about the heartburning the absorption of officers from outside would cause, the association said that it would not only affect the seniority of Punjab Police officers at certain levels but also demoralise them professionally. Already, the promotional avenues in the police force were on the decline, the association added.

The state government had only recently laid down specific conditions facilitating their absorption against newly created ex-cadre posts and had sought their fresh acceptance on the stipulated terms and conditions. Their appointments will as per the conditions stand abolished following their retirement/dismissal or resignation.

Talking to TNS, Mr Inderjit Singh Randhawa, President of the PPS Association, said that there was no such provision for absorption in the Punjab Police Rules or the Punjab Civil Services Rules. The PPS and IPS cadres were only meant for direct recruitment by the Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC ) or by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC), he added. The association had earlier obtained a stay from the High Court at the time of absorption of one CRPF officer, Ms Amrit Brar, which is still operative. They are of the view that the move to permanently retain these 12 PMF officers may yet again get embroiled in litigation. They had also asked the Home Department to let them know if the stay already in operation in regard to Ms Amrit Brar was applicable to the present case or not.

Strongly opposing the terms and conditions framed for the absorption, Mr Randhawa said that it would open floodgates for many more paramilitary officers having strong political links to be a part of the Punjab Police.

The PPS officers, who have been resenting the absorption of these officers, feel that the move has ramifications. It is apprehended that six of these officers are expected to be elevated as DIGs very soon in their parent departments, but with their permanent retention with the Punjab Police, it will not be possible for the state government to accomodate them as DIGs. At present, all DIG-rank officers are Punjab cadre IPS officers .A couple of them are even expected to go up to the rank of IG in their parent organisation. Once they are promoted, it may not be possible to accommodate them against the posts of SP level.

The six officers, who were recently asked by the Union Home Ministry to report back to their parent organisations by December 31, are Mr Vivek Mishra, Mr SPS Basra, Mr H.S Grewal, Mr S.K Sharma, Mr Ananya Gautam and Mr Khubi Ram.

It is also feared that their retention would lead to disparity in rules for officers of the same rank as paramilitary officers could not be governed under PPS rules as their services are governed by All India Service (AIS) Rules. 


Devotees throng Gobindgarh Fort on Gurpurb
Tribune News Service

Devotees at the historic Gobindgarh Fort, Bathinda, partake langar on the occasion of birthday of Guru Gobind Singh
Devotees at the historic Gobindgarh Fort, Bathinda, partake langar on the occasion of birthday of Guru Gobind Singh on Monday. 
—  Tribune photo by Kulbir Beera

Bathinda, January 5
Thousands of devotees descended on the historic Gobindgarh Fort here from all over the region to attend the prayer meetings held on the occasion of birthday of the tenth Sikh Guru Gobind Singh today. The rush of devotees here was more than the usual this time. Guru Gobind Singh had paid a visit to this fort.

The entire city was humming with activity and langar (community kitchens) and special prayer meetings were also held in gurdwaras in villages.

In a statement issued here today, Mr S.S. Saggu, Superintendent, Central Jail, said Mr Pritpal Singh, a resident of Malout distributed sweaters and woollens on occasion of Gurpurb amongst the jail inmates. He said a prayer meeting and kirtan was also organised and the inmates were told about of the life history of the Sikh guru.

ABOHAR: Guru Gobind Singh’s birthday was celebrated by Khatri Sabha at Shri Guru Nanak Darbar in Dharam Nagri locality here today. Mr B.L. Sikka, former SDM and president of the Sabha, Mr Sardari lal Kapoor, Mr Ved Parkash Diggaj and Baba Surjit Singh Bedi spoke about the sacrifices and teachings of the 10th guru and his family. Shabad kirtan was also held in the tastefully decorated Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Gurdwara Nanaksar Tobha. Langar was served in all gurdwaras this afternoon.

Holi dip, langar on Gurpurb
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 5
The birth anniversary of Guru Gobind Singh was celebrated with great religious fervour here today. Devotees gathered at all the major gurdwaras of the city to offer prayers on the occasion.

The devotees took a dip in the sarovar of Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib and old Moti Bagh Gurdwara. Earlier, a nagar kirtan procession was taken out in the city . On the occasion a langer was arranged for the devotees.


Political parties gear up for Maghi Mela
Tribune News Service

Muktsar January 5
Keeping an eye on the next Lok Sabha elections, various political parties have started preparing their election agenda to be announced at their respective conferences to be held on January 13 and January 14 here on Maghi Mela.

The mela is held every year to mark the supreme sacrifices made by 40 “Muktas” (liberated ones), led by Bhai Mahan Singh at Khidrana di Dhaab (now Muktsar), during the last battle of Guru Gobind Singh with the Mughals.

Mr Sukhbir Badal, secretary, Shiromani Akali Dal (Badal) will start touring the area soon to mobilise people for the conference. The state Congress leadership, is banking upon local leadership, including Mr Jagmeet Brar, MP, to make the conference a success.

The Lok Bhalai Party, the CPI, the SAD (Amritsar) and other political groups will also organise conferences on the occasion.

Meanwhile, to keep the three-day Maghi Mela incident-free, the district civil and police authorities have started making arrangements for the pilgrims.

Mr B.R. Banga, Deputy Commissioner, Muktsar, in a press note issued here today, said that about 10 lakh pilgrims from Punjab, other states of the country and abroad were expected to visit Gurudwara Tutti Gandi Sahib to pay their obeisance and take a dip in the holy sarovar.

He added that the place had been divided into eight sectors and each sector would be manned by a Duty Magistrate and a police officer of the rank of DSP. 


BJP prepares for elections
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
The Punjab unit of the BJP today appointed the following persons as in charge of nine Lok Sabha constituencies in the state for the forthcoming elections, a party spokesman said here today.

The persons who have been appointed as in charge of these constituencies are Mr Avinash Rai Khanna (Hoshiarpur); Bibi Gurcharan Kaur (Faridkot); Ch Swarna Ram ( Phillaur); Mr Harjit Singh Grewal (Sangrur); Mr Arunesh Shakar (Gurdaspur); Mr Surjit Kumar Jyani (Ferozepore); Mr Baldev Raj Chawla (Amritsar); Mr Balbir Chand Kapila (Ludhiana) and Mr Narrotam Dev Ratti (Jalandhar).

These persons have been asked to do the necessary spadework for the ensuing Lok Sabha elections with regards to the toning of cadre for impressive campaigning in an organised manner, the party spokesman added.


Intellectuals’ panel to strengthen moral values
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
A six-member committee of intellectuals has decided to launch a movement on the lines of the “Sikh reform movement” to spread awareness among the people about the “deteriorating” moral values in the religious, social and political fields.

The members of the committee, Mr Narayan Singh, convener, Akal Federation, Dr Sukhpreet Singh Udoke, Mr Gurbax Singh Panchkula, Mr Amrik Singh Muktsar, Principal Swarn Singh Chuslewal and Mr Mahinder Singh, addressing a press conference here said the format of the committee, its constitution, its working, jurisdiction and name would be announced at a Panthic meet to be organised on February 15 here.

Mr Narayan Singh said their motive was not to launch a new political party or a religious organisation but to create a movement for betterment of society and highlight its ills. He alleged that present political parties, including various Akali Dals, were devoid of moral principles and pursued their vested interests instead of ensuring welfare of the Panth or the people. He said the Akali Dal was not the Panth. These parties were responsible for the loss of moral values today. Mr Muktsar and Dr Udoke said there was an urgent need for spreading awareness about the machinations employed by religious and political organisations to befool the people.


Tributes paid to mine blast victims
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 5
Army officials from the Engineers Regiment, the Dogra Regiment and the Sikh Regiment today paid tributes to the victims of mine blast at the martyrs’ memorial in the border village of Mahawa here.

Eighteen persons, including 15 Army jawans (10 from the Engineers Regiment and five from the Dogra Regiment), had lost their lives when a truck hit an anti-personnel mine on the same day in 2002.

Ms Kanta Sharma, wife of one of the victims, Mohan Lal of the Dogra Regiment, of the blast, while speaking to mediapersons urged the state government to provide a job to one of her family members. Ms Sharma who was accompanied by her son, Rahul Bharti (13), and daughter, Rajni Sharma (17), said she would like her son to become an Army officer.

Capt S. Banerjee of the Engineers Regiment said the memorial would remain a source of inspiration for them. Amongst others who laid wreaths at the memorial were Capt Deepak of the Engineers Regiment, Second Lieut Deepak of the Sikh Regiment and subedar D.B. Dhariwal of the Dogra Regiment.

Earlier, villagers held a bhog of Akhand Path and arranged langar.



Dealer fined for selling faulty TV set
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 5
While censuring a TV dealer here for providing a television set without the features advertised in the pamphlet, the District Consumer Disputes Redressal Forum has directed him to either replace the set or refund the money to the customer with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum from the date of its purchase and Rs 1,000 as compensation for mental harassment to the complainant.

Mr Neeraj Kumar Sharma, a resident of Nai Abdi, had purchased CTV Model CZ-20D8 cm having 200 channels and auto sound leveller facility for Rs 11,500 from Aerovision Electronics. He was reportedly told at the time of purchase. CTV set contained auto-sound leveller facility whereby it corrects the difference in volume level, which occurs while changing the channel.

After the purchase, the complainant noticed that the TV was not having the feature. After the dealer was informed, a service engineer visited the customer. He noticed that there was frequent noise while changing the channels. The engineers of the manufacturer visited Mr Sharma a number of times but failed to rectify the defects. The dealer contested the complaint but failed to satisfy the forum.


Shruti Sachdeva does Patiala proud
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 5
Shruti Sachdeva of Our Lady of Fatima Convent School has made the city proud by winning a national award in all-India solo folk dance competition held at Solan recently.

Shruti has been giving performances since she was three years of age. She has also been taking training in Punjabi folk dance and kathak since the past two months.

Besides this, Shruti has won several prizes in English recitation, declamation contests, and fancy dress competitions.

She also bagged the first prize in the open dance competition organised by the Bhartiya Vikas Parishad. She also won second prize in solo dance competition organised by the National School of Arts at Chandigarh.


Health scheme extended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 5
Umeed Khanna Foundation in Sangrur and surrounding areas provides “health at your doorstep”, in 540 villages, through its mobile dispensaries manned by 22 doctors. The patients are examined and given medicines free of cost.

The foundation said today the scheme would be further extended to 166 villages in Barnala, Danaula and Dirba from tomorrow.


Jats demand farm insurance
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 5
The All-India Jat Maha Sabha has urged the state government to implement an agriculture insurance scheme for the state farmers, who were being frequently forced to bear heavy losses due to bad weather conditions, it said.

Addressing a press conference here today, the vice-president of the sabha, Mr Harpal Singh Harpura, said though the scheme had already been implemented in nine states in the country, the Punjab farmers were being denied the benefits of the scheme without any valid reason.

"The state government should take up the matter with the Central Government in this regard. Besides, the state government should set up a fund to provide an insurance cover for the crops of the state farmers", he said.

The sabha further demanded that Parliament should enact a law to punish those who were instrumental in the sale and distribution of substandard pesticides and insecticides.


Admn gears up to tackle stray animal menace
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 5
Even as farmers of the district have been spending sleepless nights in the chilling cold to protect their crops from the damage being caused to these by stray animals, particularly cows, the district administration has started making efforts to tackle the menace.

To tackle the menace of stray animals, including cows, bulls and dogs, the district administration proposes to strengthen the existing cow shelters besides setting up new cow shelters. It also proposes to set up kennels.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Bathinda, in a letter to Mr Sudhir Mittal, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India, has sought financial assistance for executing these projects from the ongoing scheme of the animal welfare division of the ministry.

Sources said about two to three years ago, the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), Bathinda, had prepared a Rs 13 crore project to solve the problem of stray animals, particularly cows, by setting up a big cow shelter at Gobind Pura village but the project could not materialise for reasons best known to the authorities concerned.

Over the past few years, the menace of stray cows in the district has started assuming alarming proportions as it has become a major cause of road accidents and damage to the crops. During the past few years, these stray animals have caused a number of road accidents in which more than 50 persons have lost their lives.

Hardly a day passes when there is no report of an accident caused by stray cows. Apart from stray cows, the population of stray dogs has also reached an alarming dimension and cases of dog bites have been increasing every year in the district. Stray cows have even become a major threat for school children in the towns and cities of the district.

Besides residents of different areas have started transporting these animals from their areas to other areas clandestinely during the nights and sometime such activities have created a law and order problem. Even people from Haryana have started pushing stray animals in to villages of Punjab that are bordering Haryana’s territory.

Activists of various farmes unions of Punjab have been staging dharnas and holding demonstrations to press the Punjab Government to check the menace of stray animals which have been causing a colossal damage to their crops.

To protect their crops, farmer of villages, which are situated on the outskirts of various towns of the district, have been spending sleepless nights to keep stray cows away from their fields. They have also been organising ‘nakas’ at the entry points of their respective villages so that no outsider is able to push the stray animals into their villages

Mr Amrit Pal Singh Brar, president, Punjab Young Farmers Federation, has demanded that the Central and the Punjab governments should make a comprehensive plan first and arrange funds to tackle the menace of stray animals.


SDM offices to get single-window counters
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
The district administration will introduce single window system soon in all six subdivisional headquarters in the offices of Sub Divisional Magistrates (SDMs) at Sangrur, Sunam, Dhuri, Malerkotla, Barnala and Moonak to deal with work related to SDM and Tehsil offices, in a simplified manner and within a stipulated timeframe.

Talking to TNS here today, Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, Sangrur, said the administration had already purchased and tested computer systems to be installed in the offices of the respective SDMs to handle the single window system. A counter would be set up at each subdivisional headquarter for the single window system, he added.

The Deputy Commissioner further said simplified forms with defined procedures and deadlines would be made available to the public at the single window system counters. He said these forms would be filled by the persons concerned to get their work done without having to go from one official to another in the office concerned.

The Deputy Commissioner said now the publicmen would get their work, like getting arms licence, renewal of arms licence, copy of revenue record and no objection certificate for a petrol pump etc done in an easy way by just filling a simple form at the single window system counter. He said he would personally monitor the functioning of these counters from time to time to check their utility for the public.

He said a single window system counter would also be set up soon in the office of the District Transport Officer.


Woman arrested for drowning children in canal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 5
When Narinder Kumar, a resident of the Mata Rani locality here, left to attend a marriage party in Malikpur on November 2 last year, little did he know that he would be seeing his children — Simran and Suraj — for the last time.

When he returned home, he was shocked to know that his children had drowned in the Bhakra canal.

He approached the police to investigate the matter. The police, in its initial inquiry, held that the children had drowned accidentally in the canal. However, Narinder Kumar petitioned the DGP to get the case reinvestigated. The police recently reopened the inquiry proceedings and arrested Pushpa Devi, a resident of Malikpur, on the charge of drowning the children.

Sources said that Pushpa Devi was issueless. She allegedly drowned the children in the canal under the influence of some tantrik. The tantrik had reportedly assured the woman that she could bear a child if she sacrificed some child.

The sources added that Pushpa Devi had admitted her crime before the police. A case under Section 302 of the IPC has been registered against her at the Sadar police station Ropar. Meanwhile, Mr Narinder Kumar told newsmen that he had been receiving calls, threatening him not to pursue the case of his deceased children.


Gang of cheats busted, 3 held
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
A gang of cheats, which was allegedly blackmailing people by posing as members of the Punjab Intelligence Wing, was busted by the Patiala police yesterday with the arrest of three members of the gang.

According to police sources, two members of the gang — Tejinderpal Singh Cheema and Balwinder Singh were residents of Moga district while one of them Surinder Singh was a resident of Nabha.

A complaint was lodged against these persons by Karaj Singh of Alipur village, near here, that he was being blackmailed by them.

According to Karaj Singh, the accused had come to Alipur village in a Tata Sierra posing as members of the State Intelligence Wing. They asked Karaj Singh to show certificates of his wife alleging that the his wife had submitted fake certificates while applying for a government job. Following intervention of the village sarpanch, an agreement was reached out under which Karaj Singh gave the gang members Rs 10,000 of which Rs 5,000 was given on the spot. The accused gave Karaj Singh their mobile numbers and fixed another meeting for yesterday when Karaj was to hand them over the rest of the money. When Karaj said he had only Rs 2,500, he was told to come with the money at Gurdwara Dukhniwaran Sahib . The three were arrested at the gurdwara.

According to the Sadar police, the gang admitted to other coercion also. A case has been registered against them under Sections 420, 170 and 120 (b) at the Sadar Police Station.


Police remand for patwari
Surinder Bhardwaj

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 5
The police on the recommendation of the Deputy Commissioner has registered a fresh case against Gurpal Singh, a patwari, for selling the Canal Rest House, Adampur, along with 19.5 acre of land worth crores belonging to the Irrigation Department to five parties. A case has been registered under Sections 420, 467, 468 and 471, IPC. He was presented in the court of Duty Magistrate Neelam Arora today and was remanded in police custody for two days.

Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said the police got a letter from the Deputy Commissioner, directing it to register a case against the patwari. He said the Deputy Commissioner had written that the inquiry regarding the sale of the Canal Rest House was conducted through Mr Mohinder Pal Arora, ADC, and in his report he had mentioned that prima facie it had been proved that he had sold the rest house to various persons on the basis of fake documents. He said he had directed a CIA inspector to get the case registered.

The SSP said now more and more people had started coming forward with their complaints against the patwari and some of them had purchased the Canal Rest House and others had given money for the purchase of lands at different places. The amount collected by him by cheating the people might touch crores of rupees.

The names of officials he had disclosed and those who had purchased the rest house would also be called to join investigations.

Mr Gurmeet Singh, CIA inspector, said the patwari had cheated the people by saying that he had got a decree of the rest house in his name from the Government and he could sell it. As more complainants were coming forward, more cases were likely to be registered against him.


Protesting ETT trainees lathicharged
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 5
Elementary teachers training (ETT) course trainees were lathicharged here today when they tried to cross the barricades put up on the road leading to the residence of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The trainees, who are demanding that they be recruited as teachers in elementary schools in the state, had earlier assembled at the Dukhniwaran Sahib gurdwara. From the gurdwara, they headed for the Shaheed Manvendra Singh chowk by passing through the Mall road.

The police had put up barricades near the chowk. Protesting trainees, including girls, tried to cross the barricades. The police resorted to a lathicharge when some of them managed to cross the barricades. The convener of the trainees’ sangharsh committee, Nirbhai Singh, was also thrashed.

Later, Nirbhai Singh and another trainee, Harvinder Singh, were taken to Government Rajindra Hospital by a Red Cross ambulance. They, however, did not sustain any serious injury.

The sangharsh committee has condemened the lathicharge and claimed that some female trainees were also roughed up by police personnel. The committee had decided to continue its protest near the Chief Minister’s residence. Committee members said they had resorted to this step because the government had failed to fill 2,010 posts of elementary teachers despite taking a decision in this regard at a Cabinet meeting.

The committee said more than 2,000 persons had undergone ETT training and some of them had also appeared in an interview for the selection of elementary teachers. It said the process had been discontinued despite repeated pleas to resume it, forcing the trainees to take the path of agitation.

Later, the trainees submitted a memorandum to Mr Gurmail Singh, Private Secretary to Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, for forwarding it to Capt Amarinder Singh. 


School times changed
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 5
District Magistrate K.A.P. Sinha yesterday ordered change in school times in the district due to cold wave sweeping the region.

A press note by the Deputy Commissioner said that all elementary and secondary schools in the district would open at 9.30 am and close at 3.30 pm. The orders will remain in force till further orders. Major Basant Kumar, district general secretary, of the Democratic Teachers Front, said mere half an hour's change in school times was illogical. The schools opening at 9 am or 9.30 am did not make much difference in terms of cold wave or fog conditions, he claimed.

PHILLAUR: The District Magistrate, Jalandhar, Mr Ashok Kumar Gupta, has given orders to reschedule the timings of all government, private, primary, high and higher secondary schools in the district due to severe cold and fog.

According to an official press note issued by the District Magistrate, the timings of all schools of the district will be from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. from January 6 to January 17.


12,000 more mobile connections sought
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
In spite of the number of mobile phone connections in the district having crossed the 29,000 mark, against the existing capacity of 23,000, the district Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited (BSNL) authorities have asked the Punjab Telecom Circle, Chandigarh, to increase the existing capacity by 12,000 connections.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Labh Singh, General Manager, BSNL, Sangrur, said with the increase in the number of mobile phone connections the problem of network congestion being faced by subscribers would end.

He said the “Student Power 99 Scheme” had evoked a good response, as the BSNL had provided 5,901 connections in the district under the scheme till December 31, 2003.

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