P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Ropar Thermal Plant in grip of coal crisis
Stock sufficient only for 3 days; power cuts imposed
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
Coal stock in the Ropar Thermal Plant is sufficient only for three days and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has asked the Railways to divert all coal coming to Punjab on its rakes to Ropar to help the thermal power tide over the crisis.

The board is apparently taking the issue very seriously following reports that a few thermal plants in Rajasthan have completely exhausted their coal stock and are dependent on fresh supply to produce power. The board has as an emergency measure also imposed cuts in both urban and rural areas.

Power cuts of half an hour to one hour duration have been imposed in important cities of the state while the fate of rural areas will be worse. Domestic areas in the rural countryside are facing cuts of as long as eight hours while a power cut of 10 hours has been imposed on supply to agricultural pump sets.

Sources disclosed that the PSEB has informed the Railways that its power production would be adversely affected if coal is not rushed to Ropar Thermal Plant immediately. The Ropar plant, whose consumption is the most in the state, has been getting two rakes for the past two days while its consumption itself is of six to seven rakes every day. The board has asked the Railways to divert all trains carrying coal to the State to tide over this crisis. Besides this the Board has also written to the Additional Secretary, Coal, of the Central Government informing him of the acute shortage of coal being faced by the thermal plants in the state.

According to sources the Ropar Thermal Plant had stock of only 53,706 metric tonnes which was enough only for three days of generation. At Lehra Mohabat and Bathinda the board has a stock of 55,918 and 31,335 metric tonnes, respectively, which is enough for eight days of generation. However, with coal slated for both Bathinda and Lehra Mohabat being diverted to Ropar in the coming days, both plants may also have to face the same crisis.

This is the second time that the board is facing such a crisis as far as the supply of coal is concerned within one month. Earlier, the board had faced a similar situation in mid December. According to board sources, the supply of coal had been affected ever since a strike in Jharkhand which had delayed the supply of coal from the coal fields to the rail heads. Other states were also in the grip of a crisis and the Railways had diverted coal to the crisis hit states, resulting in lesser supply to Punjab.

The board has, on its part, made a representation to the Railways claiming that the coal stock should be kept at the level of 15-day stock as per the norms set by the Centre. It has also pointed out that it has paid outstanding dues to the Railways and should be given priority accordingly. Meanwhile, sources disclosed that a few rakes may reach the Ropar Thermal Plant today night or tomorrow morning.


SAD-BJP alliance permanent, says Badal
Tribune Reporters

Aima Kalan (Amritsar), January 6
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, and the SGPC supremo, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today differed in their views over the SAD-BJP alliance. Mr Badal said that the alliance with the BJP was permanent and both parties would contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections in the state jointly.

Terming the statement of Mr Tohra in which he described the alliance with the BJP as unsuccessful as his personal view, Mr Badal, said the alliance with the BJP during his chief ministership witnessed an unprecedented progress, which was not seen in the last half century during the Congress regime. He said the Akali-BJP coalition had also helped in bringing religious harmony in the state.

However, talking to TNS on telephone, Mr Tohra said that he had expressed his “personal views” over the alliance and Mr Badal, being president of the party, was the final authority on the issue.

He, however, said that he would express his views at the party forum on the matter. Mr Tohra said the BJP had done nothing to concede the genuine demands of the Sikhs.

He said the demand of five Lok Sabha seats by the BJP was unjustified as SAD was competent to win all seats even without any political partner.

However, Mr Tohra clarified that he had not any differences with Mr Badal. He said he was a soldier of the party and would go by the decision taken by SAD. SAD could not think of striking an alliance with the Congress, which was the “number one enemy” of the Sikhs, he added.

Mr Badal, who was here to inaugurate Dasmesh Parivar International School at Aima Kalan village, 15 km from Amritsar, claimed that not even a single promise made by the Congress in its election manifesto had been turned into reality.


Akal Takht honours Satwant Singh’s mother
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 6
Akal Takht Jathedar Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti today honoured Bibi Pyar Kaur, mother of Satwant Singh, who killed Indira Gandhi, at a shaheedi samagam” here today. The function was organised at Akal Takht to pay tributes to Satwant Singh and Kehar Singh, involved in the killing of Indira Gandhi.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Honorary Secretary, SGPC, said it was the duty of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee to give due honour to “Sikh martyrs” and their family members.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, President, Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said he was grateful to Akal Takht Jathedar, for organising the function to honour the family member of the “Sikh martyrs”. He, however, said Akal Takht should also organise functions to pay tributes to Beant Singh, another killer of Indira Gandhi, and Dilawar Singh, a killer of former Chief Minister Beant Singh.

Among those present on the occasion included Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, Bhai Ram Singh, Mr Harbir Singh Sandhu, Mr Daljit Singh Bedi and Mr Joginder Singh Adliwal.

Bhai Dharm Singh performed “ardas” on the occasion.


HP, Haryana Sikhs want Akal Takht intervention in
Banda Singh Bahadur case
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Sikhs of Himachal Pradesh and Haryana have sought intervention of the Jathedar of Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, to set at rest the controversy over the background and caste of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur.

In a resolution adopted unanimously at historic congregation held at Gurdwara Paonta Sahib in Himachal Pradesh yesterday on the occasion of the birth anniversary celebrations of Guru Gobind Singh, the congregation demanded that a handful of people claiming that Baba Banda Singh Bahadur, a great Sikh warrior, was a “Bairagi” by caste, should be restrained from doing so.

The resolution further said that such people had been organising big functions and programmes to mark birth and death anniversary of the great Sikh warrior who was motivated by the 10th Sikh Guru to fight tyranny and misrule in Punjab.

Moved by Jathedar Kartar Singh Takkar, a member of the Parbandhak Committee of Gurdwara Paonta Sahib and General Secretary of the Haryana Akali Dal, the resolution held that Baba Banda Singh Bahadur was a Rajput and not a “Bairagi or Brahman” by caste.

After motivation by Guru Gobind Singh, he got himself baptised and came to Punjab to fight the then tyrannical rule and established the Sikh state with his capital at Lohgarh on the Himachal-Haryana border.

The congregation felt that celebrations of birth anniversary of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur as Bairagi Day was not only distortion of facts and history but also playing with the sentiments of the Sikh community which should be stopped forthwith.

Last year, the Sikhs and Akalis had demanded that a national memorial be raised to the desecrated fort of Baba Banda Singh Bahadur as he was the first freedom fighter to wage a war against the intruders and outsiders.

The proposal, however, is now pending with the Department of Culture and Tourism of Union Government.

Another resolution passed at yesterday’s congregation at Paonta Sahib was implementation of the earlier decision of the Himachal Government of introducing Punjabi as an elective subject for students of Class IX and X besides teaching the language to students of Class VI to VIII also.

The congregation also demanded reservation of jobs for Sikhs in Himachal Government services.


Ravi Sidhu’s counsel alleges frame-up by CM
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
Former Punjab Public Service Commission (PPSC) Chairman Ravi Sidhu’s counsel today claimed that a false case had been registered against his client because he had written against Chief Minister Amarinder Singh during his tenure as a senior journalist with a national daily.

Ravi Sidhu’s counsel made this remark during the cross examination of Randhir Singh Dheera, who has turned an approver in the case.

The counsel alleged that the Chief Minister had nursed a grouse against Sidhu, which was responsible for the immediate action against the former PPSC chief when the Congress government took over the reins of the state.

Meanwhile, during the cross examination Randhir Dheera disclosed that Ravi Sidhu and his mother were living in separate houses. The cross examination ended today. The cross examination of Prem Sagar will be held tomorrow. 


Rajput again in news, but for wrong reasons
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Punjab State Human Rights Commission member B.C. Rajput is back in the news again. For all the wrong reasons. In less than a month after the Punjab and Haryana High Court “prima facie” held that an order passed by Mr Rajput was “patently arbitrary and beyond jurisdiction”, the judges today came down heavily on the member.

Taking up a petition filed by Station House Officer (SHO) of Samana police station Rajesh Chhibber, Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Grewal ruled: “Prima facie, we are satisfied that the member, Mr Rajput, has clearly transgressed the power vested in the commission”.

In his petition, the SHO had earlier contended that an attempt to murder case was initially registered against Ashu Verma and others. Acting on a complaint filed by his father Raj Kumar Verma, the commission was conducting ex-parte proceedings. In fact, the complainant’s evidence was being recorded in his absence, petitioner had alleged.

The SHO had added that although he was affected by the outcome of the proceedings, notice or opportunity of hearing was not being given. Arguing before the court, his counsel had added that the commission had not even permitted the inspection of relevant record.

He had asserted that on October 14 last year the commission had directed the petitioner’s transfer. But on October 23, 2003, the order was modified by the high court to the extent that the same was to be treated as a recommendation. Subsequently, the petitioner’s transfer was cancelled by an Inspector General of Police (IGP).

Counsel had argued the commission once again directed the IGP on December 9 last year to comply with the earlier order regarding the transfer. Challenging the order, counsel had claimed that it amounted to over-ruling of the high court orders.

The judges on Tuesday stayed the operation of the impugned order, along with proceedings before the commission. Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Nijjar also directed the production of the record.

An order passed by Mr Rajput in December last year had also raised controversy. He had reportedly entertained a complaint filed against a Gurdaspur-based police official after the expiry of the prescribed period of limitation.

At that time, the judges had ruled that the order was prima facie “patently illegal”.


TV channel sets off rumour on PPCC chief
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 6
As a TV news channel ‘broke’ the news of the appointment of Mr R.L. Bhatia, Member of Parliament as Punjab Pradesh Congress chief several senior Congress leaders, workers and officers of the administration here today made a beeline to congratulate and offer sweets at his residence. A former Minister of State for External Affairs and member of Parliament, Mr R.L. Bhatia claimed that he would not believe the appointment on the basis of a TV news.

Mr Bhatia asserted that he had not yet received any intimation from the All-India Congress Committee (AICC) New Delhi and would react only after receiving an official confirmation from the party high command.

Talking to reporters at his residence Mr Bhatia said he was not aware of the compromise formula, including his nomination as PPCC chief offered by the party high command to end the month-long crisis in the state Congress. When newsmen asked him that in case he was asked to take over reins of the party in the state in the election year, he replied that although it was a difficult task, but he would abide by the wishes of the high command.

The confusion about his nomination notwithstanding, the statement from the PPCC Chandigarh that the present incumbent Mr H.S. Hanspal will continue to remain president of the PPCC discounted the rumours after the news channel reported that Mr Bhatia will take over as the state’s party chief.

Mr Bhatia was elected to Parliament in 1972 and has won six times the Amritsar Lok Sabha seat. He earlier served as president of the PPCC in late eighties and was nominated general secretary of the AICC besides been appointed a convener of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the party. Mr Bhatia was a Minister of State for External Affairs in the P.V. Narasimha Rao ministry, a former Prime Minister for four years from 1992 to 1996.


She is still undecided how to spend Rs 1 crore
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
Ms Anita Rani, working as a junior assistant at the SDM office at Hoshiarpur, and her family is still undecided how to spend over Rs 1 crore, that she has won through a lottery ticket of the Punjab government’s Maa Lakshmi Divali and Pooja Bumper 2003. She had got the news of her winning the lottery on October 29 last year.

“I still remember the day when my friends asked me check the lottery number with the results published in the newspaper. I could not believe my luck when I found that the number of the first winner of Rs 1.50 crore was the same as mine — A 937672. I had purchased a lottery ticket of Rs 100 for the second time and forgotten about it,” said Anita Rani, while talking to mediapersons here today.

She had come along with her family members to receive a check of Rs 1.05 crore. Out of the Rs 1.50 crore winning amount, the officials said, she would get that amount after tax deduction.

She said when she could not believe her luck, the SDM asked her to contact the Lottery Department and verify the result. The whole family was excited when the department verified the number. She added: “Ours is a family with decent income as my husband is working as a government employee with the Punjab Warehousing Corporation. We are still undecided what to do with that windfall. We will try to use part of the money to shape the careers of our children.”

Her daughter, Abhishay studying in the Class VIII, however, said: “I wish my parents could give me an independent home besides lots of books.” Her brother, Anubhav added: “Mama, I would like to have books and a computer as well”.

Mr Sher Singh Sidhu of the Lottery Department claimed that the bumper draw of the Punjab Government had so far made 32 persons crorepatis, besides adding to the state kitty. He said the department had so far earned an income of Rs 60 crore during the first nine months of the current financial year.


Police questions former minister Maluka
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 6
The police here today questioned Mr Sikander Singh Maluka, a former Punjab minister in the SAD-BJP government, for about three hours in a case related to an attempt to “run over an SHO and a police party” at a naka in Kunran village on the Sangrur-Barnala road on December 8. The attempt was allegedly made by a SAD activist, who reportedly dangerously drove a bus with the alleged intention to kill the SHO and the police party.

Talking to TNS this evening, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur, said Mr Maluka had been called to the DSP’s office for questioning in the case, as Mr Charanjit Singh Jatana, former president of Rampuraphul municipal council, had talked to Mr Maluka on mobile phone before making an attempt to “kill” the SHO and the police party at the naka by driving the bus dangerously to flee from the spot.

He said the police party at the Kunran naka was of the view that on receiving instructions on mobile phone from Mr Maluka, Mr Jatana took the step. Mr Dhillon said after the questioning and recording of the statement of Mr Maluka, he was allowed to go today by the police. The police would initiate action against Mr Maluka after holding further investigations into the case, he said.

It may be recalled that the Sangrur police had registered a case against nine persons, including Charanjit Singh Jatana, under Sections 307, 353, 186, 506, 148 and 149 of the IPC and arrested them for allegedly making an attempt to kill the Longowal SHO and police party on December 8 with a bus in which they were travelling.

They were reportedly going to Patiala to attend a SAD rally. The bus was stopped by the police at the naka to see the documents and permit of the bus, but the driver failed to produce the same. On this, Mr Jatana allegedly occupied the driver’s seat and drove the bus dangerously to go ahead.


Row over temple demolition takes a new turn
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 6
The dispute over the shifting of Sainik Durga Mandir opposite Canal Rest House here took a new turn today with residents of the adjoining locality making complaints to the state government that the automobile market and workshops outside the temple had been constructed allegedly by encroaching upon the government land.

The temple had been constructed with contributions made by the soldiers and officers of the Army Medical Corps and other regiments when the AMC was temporarily housed in tents and mud houses after 1971 war with Pakistan due to strategic compulsions. The AMC had engaged a regular caretaker to perform religious ceremonies at the temple. All festivals were celebrated with religious fervour and enthusiasm by families of the Army personnel.

The Army had, a few months ago, vacated the land on the completion of quarters in the Cantonment area here. The owners of the land were members of some Jain families. There had been no legal distribution of the disputed land among them. The Army resolved to shift the idols to newly constructed temple at the military station. The Jains had started proceedings to sell the land to private colonisers. Yesterday a bulldozer was reportedly used to demolish the structure of the Sainik Jain Mandir.

The Army had earlier displayed a notice to inform the visitors in this regard. Some devotees from the nearby colonies assembled there and protested against the demolition of boundary wall of the temple. They argued that civilian residents of Sunder Nagar and Jain Nagar localities had been regularly visiting the temple so it should not be demolished. The owners of the disputed land agreed to spare the temple premises but some individuals who owned shops outside the temple said they would not give any passage to the temple from the main road. Demolition work had to be suspended as Army personnel in uniform and devotees from private colonies stood there.

Today some citizens reportedly faxed complaints to the state government raising another related issue prominently. They reminded that shops on the road were illegal. Some politically influential persons from the town as well as from Muktsar had allegedly encroached upon the land owned by the Punjab Wakf Board and Custodian Department to raise a market overnight when the SAD-BJP government was in power. The Revenue Department and other government agencies had allegedly ignored the issue as the alleged encroachers had direct access to Badal village that was the nerve centre of power then.

Another important aspect of the controversy, sources said, was that the road outside the temple belonged to State Highway Division of the Public Works Department. The road linked Malout Road (National Highway 10) with Hanumangarh Road leading to Rajasthan. It was sensitive keeping in view the movement of the defence forces during the days of Emergency also. As per rules the road must have 120 ft width but width of the metal led portion was just 22 ft. Sandy area around the road belonged to the government as per revenue records but right from Malout Chowk to Sukhmani Sahib Chowk there were a series of encroachments on both sides of the road. Some persons had encroached upon even the College Road indiscriminately. No government agency had initiated any action against the persons who had violated the law.

Interestingly, the encroachers had even managed to get site plans sanctioned from the Municipal Council in some cases. The controversial market outside the Sainik Durga Mandir had not been approved by any agency, the complainants said. They demanded high-level vigilance probe in to the whole episode to get the guilty persons, including officers of the PWD and Municipal Council, booked.


Beer manufacturers asked to pay compensation
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 6
The District Consumer Forum, Ropar, has directed Patiala-based manufacturer Mount Shivalik Breweries Ltd to pay compensation to a local consumer.

Mr Kaushal, a resident of Ropar, in a complaint before the forum had alleged that he had purchased two bottles of Golden Peacock Premium beer from Kurali on April 15, 2003. He consumed one bottle after which he felt uneasy and also started vomiting allegedly due to adulteration in the beer. He approached the wine contractors and manufacturers of the beer and sought damages. They, however, did not pay any heed to his complaint.

The complainant also pleaded before the consumer forum to get a sample of the beer that he had consumed tested from a public laboratory or public analyst that was allowed by the forum. After due sealing the sample of the beer consumed by the complainant was sent to the Public Analyst, Government of Punjab.

The analyst in his report opined that the contents of the sample contained ‘jala’ web and were unfit for human consumption.

The complainant demanded a compensation of Rs 2.5 lakh for the dereliction in service on the part of the beer manufacturers and sellers.

The counsel for the Mount Shivalik Breweries in a reply before the forum alleged that the second bottle that was bought by the complainant had neither been shown nor had been examined by any recognised laboratory. The complainant had also not given any details of his hospitalisation or medication that he allegedly took due to the consuming of adulterated beer. Moreover, the bottles of beer carry a statutory warning that its consumption was injurious to health. The complaint had been filed with a view to blackmail the manufacturers, he alleged.

The contractor of wine who sold the bottles did not present himself before the forum due to which proceedings against him were carried out as ex-parte.

After deliberating over the evidence presented by both the parties the forum comprising the president, Mr J.P. Gupta and member, S.K. Bhatia held Mount Shivalik Breweries responsible for dereliction of duty. Since the complainant could not present any proof of the medication that he took, he was awarded litigation costs worth Rs 1,000 and a compensation of Rs 2,000.

The amount is to be paid to the complainant within 30 days after which an interest of 9 per cent per annum will have to be paid.


Film fest for children begins
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
The district administration in association with the Children Film Society of India has organised a ‘Children Film Festival’ from January 6 to January 12 in the Patiala district. The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, inaugurated the festival at Tagore Theatre here today.

During the festival educational, historical, documentary and social films would be shown to the schoolchildren from 9am to 11am free of cost in all cinema halls of the city. The main aim of the festival is to inculcate social awareness and mannerism among children.

Mr Tejveer Singh said such festivals provided an opportunity to make children aware about several things which would help them in becoming good citizens.

He added “children are the future of our nation and will run the country tomorrow”.

Mr Tejveer Singh informed that the Children Film Society of India had made 250 films for children till date and nearly 50 films of the society had won several national and international awards. He added that daily 12 shows would be held to the schoolchildren of the district free of cost.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Shiv Dhullar Singh Dhillon, Chairperson, Women Commission, Ms Surinder Kaur Grewal, SDM Patiala, T. P. S Phoolka, Executive Magistrate, Amandeep Kaur and District Education Officer (Secondary), Prit Pal Kaur Sidhu, were also present at the function.


BJP condemns lathi charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
Mr Mohit Gupta, president of the district unit of the BJP, has condemned the lathi charge on unemployed teachers who were demonstrating peacefully in front of the residence of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, at Patiala, he said. Mr Gupta appealed to the unemployed youth of Punjab to come on a common platform to teach the Congress a “lesson” in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

In a press note issued here today, he said ever since Capt Amarinder Singh became the Chief Minister of Punjab, corruption had become a norm in every government office and policemen had unleashed a reign of terror on the commoners.

He said the hollowness of the so-called anti-corruption drive launched by Capt Amarinder Singh was exposed when his son, Mr Raninder Singh, was allegedly found involved in a “hawala scam”.


Daler fulfils bail obligations
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 6
Pop star Daler Mehndi today submitted two fixed deposit receipts of Rs 1 lakh each in a local court to fulfil the obligations laid down for his bail in the human trafficking case, registered against him by the Patiala police. The case will now come up for hearing on January 31.

Daler, who reached the court in the afternoon today, seemed to be in a much better frame of mind than earlier. He reiterated that he had been implicated in the case by the Patiala police after he failed to pay a bribe of Rs 1.50 crore, which was demanded from him by a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP). He said he would fight to get his name cleared in the case.


Polio immunisation programme ends
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
The first round of the three-day pulse polio programme in the district concluded here today. During the first day of the programme children went to the various booths for immunisation.

On the second and third day of the programme health personnel went door to door to vaccinate all unimmunised children below 5 years . Against a target of 264,933 more than 2,65,416 children have been immunised in the district.

High-risk areas, including urban slums, migrant slums, isolated houses, less inhabited areas, construction sites and farm houses. For this nearly 1000 booths and mobile teams were deployed. Besides this, special camps were organised at railway station, bus stand, religious places and other places.

Special stress was laid on supervising and monitoring the programme. Senior doctors from the office of the Civil Surgeon were sent to various blocks and cities of the district for supervision. On February 22 the second round of the pulse polio camp would be held in the district and all these children would be immunised again.


Residents block traffic
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 6
Residents of the local Gopal Nagar locality today blocked traffic on GT Road, near HMV College here, for about an hour following the detention of two persons by the Haryana police in the Amarjit Singh murder case.

A police team from Gurgaon, in mufti, whisked away Gurjit Singh Titu and Billa from the grain market this evening. Some businessmen of the area got suspicious and raised an alarm that the duo were being kidnapped by some unidentified car-borne persons.

Subsequently, around 100 residents assembled at the market. They later sat on a dharna on GT road, resulting in the disruption of traffic for about one hour. The police reached the spot and after conducting an inquiry found that both had been taken to the police division number 2 for an investigation into the Amarjit Singh murder case.

After consulting the authorities, the police team from Gurgaon released them on the surety that they would join the investigation tomorrow.


Undertrial dies in jail

Ferozepore, January 6
An undertrial prisoner in the Central Jail here for the past two years died last night, Jail Superintendent Gurcharan Singh Sidhu said, adding he suspected cardiac arrest as the cause of death.

However, the District Magistrate ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death of Jagir Singh, (55), of Nawan Hasta village in Fazilka area of the district by Sub-divisional Magistrate Dr Jaswant Singh to ascertain the cause and circumstances of the death.

The Jail Superintendent said Jagir Singh, who was lodged in the jail on February 12, 2001, was admitted in the jail hospital soon after he returned on the New Year Day from the PGI, Chandigarh, after the treatment of an eye ailment. He said when his condition deteriorated last night at 10.30 p.m. he was admitted in the Civil Hospital where he died shortly afterwards.

He was arrested in a case of murder registered on February 8, 2001,he added. — UNI


Hawkers’ demand on octroi accepted
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 6
Unruly scenes prevailed at the local municipal council office when a large number of “Pheriwalas” (hawkers) gathered there and raised slogans, demanding the abolition of octroi.

The hawkers said that they had to pay octroi everytime they entered the town after taking a round in the adjoining villages. They added that many times they had to return without making any sales and were levied octroi again for the same goods.

Their anger reached its peak when some men of the octroi contractor brought two Kashmiri hawkers after bundling them in their vehicle. They allegedly beat up the driver of the vehicle in the office of the Nagar Council. The weekly meeting of councillors was in progress when all this happened. The opposition councillors also supported the demands of the hawkers.

The situation was saved by the executive officer of the council, Mr Surjit Singh, who summoned the octroi contractors and arranged their meeting with the hawkers. The octroi contractors conceded the demands of the hawkers.


Cold wave claims life; day temperature rises
TNS and Agencies

Amritsar, January 6
An unidentified beggar was found dead in the Ram Bagh garden due to the intense cold wave sweeping the city. The police has picked up the body and registered a case under Section 174 of the Cr PC.

Meanwhile, the Deputy Commissioner today declared that government and private schools would remain closed tomorrow in view of intense cold condition.

PHAGWARA: More than 70 persons, including women and children, sustained injuries in different road accidents due to poor visibility caused by heavy fog on the NH-1 near Goraya and Chachhrai early today.

Police source said three buses, four jeeps and 10 cars were badly damaged in these accidents. However, there were no fatalities.

The victims alleged that the Goraya police reached the scene of the accidents two-and-half-hour late and that too when someone telephoned the Jalandhar district police chief.


Boy dies of cold

Bathinda, January 6
One person died due to severe cold during the past 24 hours in this district.

Sources said volunteers of an NGO found a destitute boy in a dilapidated vacant building near Hanuman Chowk in the city today. The boy who was deaf and dumb was running high fever and his haemoglobin count was abnormally low. His condition had worsened due to extreme cold. He was admitted to the civil hospital but all attempts to save his life failed and he died later in the afternoon.

The body was handed over to the volunteers of the Sahara Jan Sewa after post-mortem examination. — TNS


DC for people’s cooperation in managing traffic
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 6
The Deputy Commissioner, Mr S. K. Ahluwalia, today presided over a seminar organised by the truck union, Bassi Pathana, as part of the road safety week celebrations.

The district administration, in collaboration with the district police, has started traffic awareness programme to meet the challenges of increasing vehicular traffic. Mr Ahluwalia said law enforcing agencies could not control road mishaps on their own, but needed cooperation of the people. He said the most sensitive and accident-prone areas in the district would be identified and check-posts set up there. He also stressed upon the need to amend traffic rules. Addressing the seminar, Mrs Raghbir Kaur Khera, DTO, said a special campaign to educate the truck drivers regarding the traffic rules would be initiated and a complete medical check up camp for truck drivers arranged.


Woollens distributed among kids
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
The District Red Cross Society in association with the Patiala Social Welfare Society organised a function at District Red Cross Bhavan to distribute woollens among the needy and poor children of the city and near by places.

The MP Ms Preneet Kaur, was the chief guest on the occasion. Ms Preneet Kaur also flagged off the ambulance van purchased by the District Red Cross Society with the grant of Rs 2 lakh given by her. Addressing the gathering she said with the increase in traffic in the city the cases of accidents had also increased . She added that there was a need for more ambulances in the city.

The Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, appealed to the various NGOs to come forward and contribute in the development of the city.


MC employees to hold protest
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 6
Mr Ranjit Singh, president of the Punjab Municipal Workers Union, today, said that members of the union would gherao the offices of the deputy directors of the Local Bodies here and at Ferozepore on January 9 to protest against the removal of a section of sweepers, clerks and peons from their posts by the Secretary, Local Bodies, Punjab.


CITU to launch drive against anti-labour policies
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 6
The Centre of Indian Trade Unions (CITU) has decided to launch a statewide special awareness campaign against the anti-labour policies of the state and central governments from January 10.

During a meeting of the state unit of the CITU here yesterday it was decided to hold rallies in different parts of the state from January 10 to February 10.


PSEB staff hold rally
Our Correspondent

Kharar, January 6
Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) today organised a rally in protest against the decision of the government to give the board in private hands. They demanded that the government should reverse the decision and also concede to the genuine demands of the employees.

The protesters at the rally, which was organised by PSEB Technical Services Union and the PSEB Engineers Federation in front of the power board office, raised slogans against the Punjab Government.


NTAS honour for two
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
The National Theatre Arts Society (NTAS) today honoured Dr Sudhir Verma, a noted heart specialist and the general secretary of the Patiala Journalist Association Jaspal Singh Dhillon Society. The Chairman, Improvement Trust Mr K.K Sharma, presented NTAS’ Annual National Integration Award-2004 carrying a shawl and a cash prize award to the two awardees.

The Awardees donated the cash award money to the Leprosy Patients Colony. Besides this, Dr Sudhir Verma also announced a donation of Rs 5100 for the construction of Krishna temple in the colony. Addressing the gathering Mr Sharma said such great personalities inspired others also to work for the welfare of mankind.



MLA summoned by court for traffic violation
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 5
The police here today presented a “Kalandra” (complaint) against Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, MLA from Sherpur and a former Punjab Minister, in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate, (CJM), Mr Varinder Aggarwal, here as per Section 195 of the CrPC for allegedly committing an offence under Section 186 of the IPC on December 23 last year.

Sources said the CJM, Mr Varinder Aggarwal, today ordered the summoning of Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla to his court on February 16 to face trial in the case.

Earlier, on December 23 last year on the complaint of Mr Mohinder Singh, a traffic policeman, the police had made an entry in the daily diary report (DDR) against Mr Kanjhla for allegedly “misbehaving” with Mr Mohinder Singh while he was performing his duty at the Chhota Chowk here.

Mr Mohinder Singh was on duty at the chowk on December 23 when Mr Kanjhla reached the place in a vehicle. Mr Mohinder Singh reportedly stopped his vehicle and urged him to follow the one-day traffic rule. This reportedly provoked Mr Kanjhla and he allegedly “misbehaved” with the traffic policeman. He also allegedly drove ahead his vehicle without caring for the one-way traffic rule.

According to police sources, a separate traffic rule violation challan will also be presented in the court against Mr Kanjhla.


Petition referred to another Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 6
A petition filed by Mr Jagdish Singh Walia seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents for allowing him to function as Markfed Chairman was today referred to another Bench by a Division Bench of the high court.

Mr Walia asserted that he should be allowed to function as the Chairman till an order stopping him from doing so was passed by the competent authority. He had claimed that the government, on August 22, had passed an order nominating Harmohinder Singh Jassi as the Chairman even though no order stopping him from doing so were passed by the competent authority.

The high court had earlier admitted another petition challenging the appointment of former minister Harmohinder Singh Jassi as the Chairman. In his petition, Mr Walia also sought directions for staying the appointment, besides quashing a notification on the subject.


Man kills wife

Amritsar, January 6
The police today arrested Kashmir Singh of Mullabehram village and his sister-in-law Darshan Kaur allegedly for killing his wife Surinder Kaur and cremating her to destroy evidence.

A case was registered on the complaint of Harbhajan Singh brother of the deceased and husband of Darshan Kaur under Sections 302, 201, 34 of the IPC at Chheharta police station here.

Kashmir Singh along with Darshan Kaur strangled Surinder Kaur who had been allegedly opposing their illicit relationship. Darshan Kaur had been residing with Kashmir Singh for past two years which led to bickering between the couple. Darshan Kaur and her alleged paramour decided to get rid of her and last night strangled when other family members were not in the home. Kashmir Singh have two married daughters and two sons. — OC


9 held under NDPS Act
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 6
The police has arrested nine persons in Barnala police district under the Excise, the Narcotic Drugs and Psychrotropic Substances Act (NDPS), the arms and the gambling acts.

Dr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, Barnala, said here today that Gursewak Singh, Amritpal Singh, Harjinder Singh, Puran Singh, Sukha Singh, Gulzari Lal, Jaswinder Singh, Raj Singh and Beant Singh had been arrested. Chand Singh and Gurtej Singh, however, escaped.

The police also seized two knives a rifle, a countrymade pistol, 11 cartridges, 17 bottles of illicit liquor, 25 kg of lahan, 18 kg of poppy husk and Rs 605 from them.

Dr Bhargav said cases had been registered against them in Barnala, Bhadaur, Dhanaula and Mehal Kalan police stations.


100 cases of octroi evasion detected
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
The Municipal Corporation detected nearly 100 cases of octroi evasion in the city in December. An official release here today said that the Municipal Corporation had recovered nearly Rs 1.77 lakh from those evading octroi and entering the city. The Secretary, Municipal Corporation, detected 12 cases of octroi evasion and recovered Rs 28,000.

The Octroi Inspector, Mr Jasbir Singh, detected 23 cases of octroi evasion and imposed a fine of Rs 42,000 while Upinderjeet Singh, Octroi Inspector detected nearly 28 cases and imposed a fine of Rs 46000. Ravdeep Singh, another Octroi Inspector detected nearly 38 cases and imposed a fine of Rs 41,000.


2 drug peddlers arrested

Jalandhar, January 6
The district police has arrested two drug peddlers and recovered 350 gm of smack from their possession.

A police spokesman stated here on Monday that acting on a tip-off, a party conducted a raid at one of their hideouts at Kishanpura Chowk. — OC


Private schools denying minimum wages to teachers
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 6
Rajneesh is a postgraduate working with a local private school. As per the minimum wages notified by the Punjab Government, he should get at least Rs 2,400 per month as minimum wage. However, he is being paid Rs 1,000 per month by the private school management.

His is not the solitary case. Most of the graduate, postgraduate and trained teachers working with private schools are not being paid even the minimum wages notified.

A survey of the private schools in the district has revealed that the teachers are paid between Rs 700 and Rs 1,000 per month. In some schools, the teachers are paid only Rs 500 per month.

The managements of private schools have been paying low wages to the trained teachers, taking advantage of the lopsided demand and supply ratio. Most teachers hired at low wages are trained women, who prefer to work in their vicinity. Sources say the private managements pay lumpsum amounts to teachers. Generally, no record of the teachers are kept by the managements. The private managements pay higher salaries to their employees on paper and the differential is kept by the members of the management.

The private managements of the school have also been violating the EPF Act as hardly any have been deducting and depositing the EPF amount of the employees. If the managements are forced to pay the EPF amount of the teachers and other employees, they will force the staff to declare the salaries paid.

The Deputy Commissioner, Ropar, Ms Seema Jain, when contacted, said the matter had been brought to her notice. Committees led by SDMs would be formed soon to conduct checks at private schools to ensure that the teachers are being paid at least the minimum wages, she added. The managements found guilty would be prosecuted under the Minimum Wages Act, she said.

Legal experts, however, express doubts over the effectivity of the acts in force to prevent the exploitation of labour.

The Payments of Wages Act, 1936, and the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, are the principal Acts under which employers not paying minimum wages to the employees can be prosecuted. Under the Acts, the punishment to the employers violating the Act ranges from Rs 200 to Rs 500.


Senior fellowship for two Punjabi scholars
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
Punjabi University has decided to grant senior fellowship to Dr Karnail Singh Thind and Dr G.S. Ryal for two years.

Giving this information Head, Department of Punjabi Language Development, Dr Dhanwant Kaur said today that Dr Karnail Singh Thind, an established scholar of Punjabi folklore and culture had written several books.

Earlier, Dr Thind during his stint as senior fellow of the varsity had completed first part of ‘Folk Lore &Cultural Heritage of Punjab’ which was published in 1996.

Now he would concentrate on the second part of the project.

Dr Dhanwant further stated that Dr G.S. Ryal had contributed a lot in the promotion of comparative study of Punjabi language. He has made tremendous contribution in Indo- European languages.


Impressive farewell to Professor Logani
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 6
Prof P.S. Logani, Head Chemistry Department and president of Teacher’s Union Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, retired after serving the institution for more than 38 years. He was also Major in the NCC wing of the college. An impressive retirement party was organised to celebrate his retirement by the staff, social, religious and students organisations here today.

Addressing the gathering on the eve of bhogh ceremony of Akhand Path, various speakers lauded his services not only in the field of education but in social and religious fields too. They said almost one generation of the area had been his students and he always helped everyone. He also provided free coaching to needy and deserving students. Many of his students are serving as doctors, civil officials, engineers and political leaders. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker and his brother P.S. Sarao, DIG, were also his students.

Speaking on the occasion Prof. Lugani thanked everyone for showering praise on him. He said whatever he was today was all due to the support of his colleagues, friends and well wishers.

He said teachers must understand their students and should also provide moral education along education. Recounting his days when he joined the institution, he said it was a matter of pride that this institution was going to be a deemed university.

He was presented siropas, gifts and flowers by representatives of various social, religious, political, students and teachers’ unions.


Refresher course in commerce
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 6
A UGC-sponsored refresher course in commerce for college and university teachers started at Punjabi University here today. Teachers from Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pardesh, Uttranchal and Karnataka are participating in the programme.

Inaugurating the programme Dean Academic Affairs, Dr U.C. Singh, focussed upon the challenges which teachers are likely to face in the wake of opening up of the educational institutions by the private sector and the entry of international universities in India from 2005. Introducing the theme of the refresher course Head and Course Coordinator, Dr J.S. Pasricha, highlighted the major dimensions of the course, including corporate governance, emerging issues in accounting, finance and human resource development.

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