P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rebels want Bhattal’s powers defined
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
Dissatisfied over what the party high command has offered to them, Punjab ruling party dissidents have built up pressure on the Congress high command to clearly define the powers to be given to the Deputy Chief Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal.

Sources said Mrs Bhattal and certain other dissident leaders today called on Mr Pranab Mukherjee, Mr Ahmed Patel and also contacted Dr Manmohan Singh and Mrs Mohsina Kidwai. They told them that without clearly defining in black and white the powers to be given to Mrs Bhattal as Deputy Chief Minister, there would be no use of designating her as such.

If the party high command wanted to fix responsibility on dissidents with regard to the Lok Sabha elections, there hands should be strengthened by giving powers to their leader, Mrs Bhattal.

As per the law, there is no office of the Deputy Chief Minister in the Government set up and no oath is administered for such office. Hence, there is no official division of powers for the Chief Minister and Deputy Chief Minister. There could be only one head of the Government and that is Chief Minister.

Sources said that there was resentment among certain dissidents over the acceptance of the post of Deputy Chief Minister by Mrs Bhattal. The most vocal opposition, according to sources, has been expressed by Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Education Minister, who was a spokesman of the dissidents for over a month. Sources said that Mr Johar himself was interested to be Deputy CM. Besides, Mr Johar, at least there were two other dissident leaders, who were in the run for the office of Deputy CM, sources added.

According to sources, dissidents met twice in Delhi today. First they held a meeting for two hours in the morning and they closeted for about three hours in the evening. Apart from the issue of powers to the Deputy CM, the other issue taken by Mrs Bhattal and others with the high command, according to sources, is inclusion of Mrs Gurkanwal Kaur, daughter of late Chief Minister, Mr Beant Singh, into the Council of Ministers, which is to be expanded soon.


High Court
Stay sought on charges against Bhattal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
In less than 24 hours after a local court fixed January 10 as the next date of hearing in a corruption case against Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, applications were today filed in the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding framing up of charges and other issues. The copies of the applications, likely to come up for hearing tomorrow, were not available.

An application reportedly seeks stay on framing up of charges on January 10, besides the issuance of any other directions which the court may deem fit in the circumstances of the case. Ms Bhattal was earlier accused of misappropriating Rs 20 lakh after withdrawing it from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund following which a case under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered.

Disposing of an application seeking expeditious conclusion of the trial against Ms Bhattal, Mr Justice K.C. Gupta had earlier directed the trial court to frame charges if there was a prima facie case for it.

In his application, complainant in the case Balwant Singh Dhillon had alleged that even though the challan was submitted long time back, yet the case was adjourned from time to time for framing charges. The complainant had added that the case was being treated as "petty" even though the matter was sensitive.


Resume duty, CM urges rebel ministers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, today advised the dissidents still camping in Delhi to return and work for strengthening the party and the government before the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Speaking to mediapersons at Punjab Congress Bhavan today, he said abiding by the recent decisions of the party high command, the ministers should come back and resume work of their respective portfolios.

The Chief Minister clarified there was no need to administer the oath of office to the newly appointed Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal. She would be made to occupy the office by virtue of a simple executive order issued by the Punjab Governor. He further clarified that there was no provision for granting any special powers to the Deputy Chief Minister and that she would continue to hold her portfolios.

The Chief Minister later heard the grievances of over 400 persons. He either conceded their demands on the spot or referred these to the departments concerned. This was his third date with the common man at the bhavan.

Meanwhile, a deputation of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Sabha and the Punjab Dihati Mazdoor Sabha led by its general secretary, Mr Gulzar Singh Goria, called on the Chief Minister and apprised him of the hardships being faced by them in the agricultural and allied sectors. They urged him to revise the minimum wages for farm labour, grant cards to eligible beneficiaries below poverty line, compensation to next of kin of agricultural labourers dying in farming operations and reconstitution of the district welfare committees, giving due representation to members of various agriculture organisations.

The Chief Minister on his part, assured the deputationists that he would concede their genuine demands.


Centre may intervene in Punjab, says minister
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
The Centre may intervene if the current Punjab turmoil continues, according to Mr Sanghpreeya Gautam, Union Minister for Agro-Rural Industry and in charge of the Punjab BJP affairs. He was here to address a block-level BJP workers’ meeting today.

He said the Centre should keep a close watch on the state affairs.

The Union Minister indicated that the Lok Sabha elections might be advanced by a few months. The final announcement would be made in this regard at the forthcoming three-day meeting of the NDA in Hyderabad from January 11, he added.

He clarified that the alliance between the BJP and SAD would continue. On the reported statement of Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, SGPC president, urging SAD to re think on its alliance with the BJP, Mr Gautam said the SGPC’s president should confine himself to religious affair.

Meanwhile, 14 sarpanches/ panches of the Congress today joined the BJP.


Congress rift casts shadow on ‘shradhanjali samaroh’
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 8
The rift among the senior leaders of the state Congress Legislature Party over the issue of change in leadership of the party cast its shadow at the “shradhanjali samaroh” organised by the local youth welfare club here today to commemorate the 9th death anniversary of former President Giani Zail Singh. In spite of special requests made to many senior state party leaders to join the function no one turned up. This led to resentment among the organisers. While paying rich tributes to the former president members of different political and social organisations laid stress on promoting the spirit of nationalism among in the country.

Expressing concern over the increase in incidents of regionalism, nepotism, political corruption in society they said the country would suffer badly they said if positive steps were not taken to check these evils. They demanded that keeping in view services of the former president of the development of Punjab his birth and death anniversaries should be organised as state-level functions every year. They also appealed to the Congress government to allocate adequate funds to complete the Giani Zail Singh samarak at his native village Sandhwan, 8km from here. This is being constructed by the Giani Zail Singh Charitable Trust.

Mr Basant Singh, former MLA; Sukhinder Singh Dhaliwal, general secretary of the All-India United Communist Party of India; Mr Joginder Singh Brar, president District unit of Janata Dal; Mr Darshan Singh Mand, Akali Dal, Amritsar; Mr Harjit Singh (SAD) and Mr Inderjit Singh Sekhon, president of the Gurdwara Baba Farid and Gurdwara Godri Sahib management committee, were also present in the occasion.


CM to discuss issue of cops on deputation today
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, has called an emergency meeting tomorrow to discuss the issue pertaining to the absorption of paramilitary (PMF) officers from the CRPF and the BSF into the Punjab Police. Besides the Punjab Police Chief, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, the meeting will be attended by the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary.

The Punjab Police Services (PPS) Association today moved a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court challenging the decision of the government offering fresh terms and conditions for the absorption of 12 officers against newly created ex-cadre posts. Turning down the conditional consent given earlier, the officers were directed to give fresh acceptance of the conditions stipulated in their letters of appointment.

CRPF officials, however, maintain that the terms and conditions offered to them were humiliating and not acceptable. One of the officers said as they had made a valuable contribution during terrorism days in the state, it would have been better if the state government had offered honourable and acceptable terms and conditions.

He said many paramilitary officers were killed while fighting terrorists.

Services of 45 CRPF officers were sought by the state government during the militancy days and most of them were absorbed as SP (Operations) for anti-militancy and administrative purposes. Some officers like Avtar Singh, then SP (Operations), Tarn Taran, G.S. Tiwana, SP (Operations), Ludhiana, and Mr Chand, then SP (Operations), Amritsar, even lost their lives.

Another officer said: “Most of those on deputation are highly decorated officers and have been rewarded for their services during the days of terrorism”. For instance, Mr Khubi Ram, a CRPF officer, has been given five gallantry awards. Few others like Mr A.P. Pandey, Mr H.S. Grewal and Rakesh Chandra have played major roles various operations.

As per fresh terms and conditions, they are being offered the posts of officiating SP in the pay scale of Rs 7,800 - Rs 13,500, which is lower than the basic pay they drew at the time of joining the service in their parent cadre.


DGP to seek category B-1 for Punjab
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
When Punjab DGP A.A. Siddiqui meets Union Home Secretary N. Gopalaswamy here tomorrow, he will take up only two issues. One, placement of Punjab in B-I, and not B-II, category of states, as classified by the Union Home Ministry on the basis of threat perception from Naxalites, militants and cross-border terrorism; and two, modernisation of the police.

Punjab justifies these demands, given its geo-political location, 540 km border with Pakistan, under-currents of terrorism and inter-linkages with international terrorism. Punjab is classified in category B-II and not in B-I. In the former category are states which are “least affected or normal”, and in B-I are those that are “mildly” affected and in A-those that are “highly” affected.

New Delhi now gives grants on a percentage basis of the total approved plan depending upon the category of the state. For A category states, this is 100 per cent, for B-I 75 per cent and B-II 60 per cent. This system has replaced the old one where the Centre and states shared on a 50:50 basis. In the new system, Punjab was a loser though it fought terrorism for 15 long years that had also crippled its financial health. Consequently, the state was unable to contribute its share. Thus the police suffered, affecting its modernisation.

The change in its category from B-II to B-I, will enable Punjab to get 75 per cent grant-in-aid from the Union Home Ministry.

Mr Siddiqui is of the view that the Finance Ministry should be persuaded to delegate the power to transfer funds from one head to another to the DGP.

The Union Home Ministry had recently revised the modalities for implementation of the Central non-plan scheme for modernisation of the state police forces. It had approved a Rs 59.66 crore annual plan (2003-04) for Punjab. With the Finance Ministry cutting down allocation, the state has now been given only Rs 19 crore for the modernisation plan. Further allocation would be based on the utilisation certificate.


Mann’s call to Akalis for unity
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 8
The Akali Dal (Amritsar) President, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, today gave a call to all Akali factions to fight the forthcoming parliamentary elections from a common platform to ensure an impressive victory for Panthic parties.

While addressing a press conference here today, Mr Mann said a united Akali Dal could win 11 out of the 13 parliamentary seats in the state. However, it was difficult for the Akali Dal to win the Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur seats. Except these all others could be won, he added.

Lashing out at SAD chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, for weakening the Panthic forces, Mr Mann said representatives of Mr Badal's party, which was in majority should propound the formula for bringing together all Akali factions. Answering a question, he said even though he had mooted the idea yet his party being in minority could not do much. Mr Badal will, however, have to desert the BJP and adopt the 'Panthic' religious agenda to achieve this unity among various Akali factions.

The Akali leader said that the benefit of the split in the Akali party would obviously go to the Congress. The call seeking Akali unity is just the beginning, and meetings will shortly be held with the leaders of other factions to give a concrete shape to this strategy.

Talking about the plans of his party, Mr Mann said if the factions did not unite, they would contest from at least four seats — Ropar, Phillaur, Sangrur and Bathinda.

He said his party would contest all 170 seats of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC ) general house and would not enter into an alliance with any other party for these elections.

Mr Mann said if at all the Akali Dal wanted to give seats to any other party, all Akali factions should first unite and then leave the seats. He alleged that Mr Badal had not pursued many demands of the Akalis and joined hands with the BJP for his own political survival.

Mr Mann pointed out that Sikhs did not occupy any prominent position of power at the Centre, including the Cabinet Committee on Security. He accused Mr Badal of supporting the BJP on the POTA issue, even as they were holding anti-repression rallies across the state. Incidentally, he has not even pursued with the Centre the issue of ban of turbans in France, despite his party being a constituent of the NDA government, said Mr Mann.


Badal for LS poll in May
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, January 8
Independent constitutional bodies, headed by high court judges with independent staff, should be formed by the Supreme Court of India in each state of the country to probe and deal with the corruption cases against politicians impartially. This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, while commenting on the proposed inquiry by a retired high court Judge into the hawala transaction charges against Mr Ranainder Singh, son of Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab.

Mr Badal was talking to mediapersons at the house of Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa, district president, SAD here today. He said the proposed inquiry by a retired high court Judge was merely eyewash. It would not bring out the truth. Capt Amarinder Singh had announced on the floor of the Vidhan Sabha that in case any corruption charge was levelled against him or any of his family members, he would get it probed by the CBI. Now the Chief Minister had backed out from his announcement, he added.

Mr Badal said the SAD was in favour of early Lok Sabha poll and prepared for it. But the poll should not be held in April 2004 because farmers in Punjab would be busy harvesting the wheat and rabi crops, he said adding the poll should be held in May.

Replying to a question, he said though the SGPC elections were also to be held in May 2004, but in case of Lok Sabha elections in this month, these should be postponed two or three months. The SAD would take up the issue with the authorities concerned in this regard, he said.

When asked about sharing parliamentary seats with the BJP in Punjab in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections Mr Badal said a decision in this regard would be taken at a proper time after the announcement of the elections. He advised Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, BJP chief, Punjab, not to give any statement regarding sharing of seats with the SAD in Punjab.

Replying to another question, Mr Badal said the SAD could enter into an alliance with any political party to ensure the defeat of the Congress.

Referring to the proposed expansion in the Punjab Cabinet, he said the Congress itself was violating the decision of all political parties on the minimum size of state Cabinets for which a Bill had been passed recently in Parliament.


SAARC general secy visits Golden Temple
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 8
Mr Q.A.M.A. Rahim general secretary, SAARC, said peace talks between India and Pakistan would give impetus to the economy of the South Asian region. He added that SAFTA (South Asia Free Trade Agreement) would open more avenues to give a boost to the overall economy of the region.

Talking to the Press at information office of the SGPC, here today, Mr Rahim hoped that free trade would inevitably help in brining people of this region closer. Mr Rahim, who is originally a native of Bangladesh, said being an official of SAARC he was very happy over the recent information in relations between India and Pakistan. He said three major agreements were signed in the just concluded SAARC meeting.

Earlier, Mr Rahim along with his wife Nasreen Rahim entered India from Wagah Joint Check Post from Pakistan, after attending the 12th SAARC summit there, in the morning. He was received there by the officers of district administration. From here he would go to Kathmandu, the head office of SAARC countries.

Mr Rahim was presented with a ‘siropa’ (robe of honour) and set of books by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary of the SGPC. He visited the Golden Temple also.


SGPC delegation to visit Bangladesh
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 8
A delegation of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee will go to Bangladesh for preserving nine historical Sikh shrines there which are in a dilapidated condition. The delegation will be led by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary, SGPC.

The matter of gurdwaras in Bangladesh was also discussed with Mr Q.A.M.A. Rahim, secretary-general of SAARC, during his visit to the Golden Temple, here. Mr Rahim who belongs to Bangladesh said the gurdwaras in his country were intact. He, however, told Mr Calcutta that the SGPC should take up the matter with Bangladesh as being the secretary-general of SAARC, he had been staying in Kathmandu, Nepal most of the time.

Mr Calcutta said the deputation would meet the authorities concerned for getting back huge properties in the name of gurdwaras which had been grabbed by the land mafia in Bangladesh. He said efforts would be made to restore the Sikh maryada in all historical gurdwaras in Bangladesh.


UK team visits Golden Temple
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
A six-member advance party of the United Kingdom headed by Ms Caroline Wilson visited the Golden Temple today to take stock of the situation before the arrival of Home Secretary of Britain.

Mr David Blunkett, UK Home Secretary, is expected to visit the Golden Temple in the last week of this month.


Mohindra college shimmers at night now
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 8
The building of Mohindra College which received a fresh coat of paint after decades recently, has now been lighted up restoring the glory of one of the most prominent landmarks of the city.

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur yesterday performed the lighting ceremony at a function held on the college premises. Speaking on the occasion she said the building was being lighted up with a view to highlighting the rich heritage of the city and attract tourists.

The building had earlier been repaired extensively following a grant of Rs 20 lakh sanctioned by state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. This included tearing down and reconstruction of some roofs. Besides this Mr Raninder Singh, son of the Chief Minister, used his resources to persuade a paint company to supply paint free of cost to the college which made it possible for the college authorities to repaint the entire college after decades.

The college seemed transformed completely following the start of the lighting. The two imposing towers of the college had been specially lighted with yellow and blue lights providing a wonderful juxtaposition. The lighting has helped to increase the beauty of the building. This is the third major building to be lighted since the past one year with the Patiala Heritage Society earlier lighting up the PSEB headquarters building and the Sheesh Mahal.

Speaking on the occasion, college Principal Dr R.K. Sharma, thanked the Chief Minister for his generous grant which had made it possible to virtually restore the entire college to its former glory. He said the college had taken up further development projects to bring it to modern standards which included establishment of a modern auditorium. Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh, PRTC Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta and Improvement Trust chairman K.K. Sharma were also present on the occasion. 


3-member panel formed to probe torture charges
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 8
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) today constituted a three-member panel to investigate the alleged brutal torture of a youth, Gurpreet Singh, by the SHO, Talwandi Sabo police station, Mr Devinder Attri, while the youth was in police custody.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Ved Parkash Gupta, general secretary, PHRC, said that according to the reports collected by the commission, it was found that a board of doctors examined the victim, Gurpreet Singh, at the local Civil Hospital and it was confirmed that the victim sustained serious injuries on his body, including his private pats.

Gurpreet Singh and one of his accomplices, Manpreet Singh, alias Babbu, were caught by the police while they were allegedly bringing 1 kg of opium from Shergarh village of Haryana in a Jeep. They were arrested on January 1 and remanded in judicial custody on January 5.

While he was in police custody, two medical examinations of Gurpreet Singh were conducted by doctors of the Civil Hospital, Talwandi Sabo, and an other hospital and it was found that there was no injury on Gurpreet Singh’s body. On January 6, another medical examination of Gurpreet Singh was conducted at the local Civil Hospital on the order of a local court and it was found that there were injury marks on the right and left sides of the abdomen and the private parts of the victim. Gurpreet Singh was subsequently admitted to hospital and is undergoing treatment at present.

After the allegation of torture was levelled against Mr Attri and four other policemen by Gurpreet Singh, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, Bathinda, ordered an inquiry and Mr Jaspal Singh, DSP, Talwandi Sabo, was asked to conduct a probe.

Mr Gupta pointed out that the PHRC would also file a contempt of court petition against Mr Attri and others as they had violated the judgement given by the then Mr Justice R.L. Anand of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in which it was directed that no instrument of torture would be used by the police.

Mr Gupta said Gurpreet Singh had alleged that he was also given electric shocks.

He said the PHRC would complete the probe within a week and further action would be taken according to the findings of the probe.


Political leaders pay tributes to Bhaura
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 8
Political leaders cutting across party lines descended on the local Government Girls Senior Secondary School today to pay tributes to the late MP Bhan Singh Bhaura, who died a few days ago, at a function held here today in connection with a ‘shradhanjali samaroh’ by the CPI.

The leaders, including Mr Atul Kumar Anjaan, member, secretariat, CPI, Mr Narinder Ohja, general secretary, Bharatiya Khet Majdoor Union (BKMU), Dr Joginder Dyal, state secretary, CPI, Punjab, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, general secretary, SAD, and Mr Surinder Kapoor, former Congress minister, while dubbing Bhaura as a companion of masses forever, said in his political career, Bhaura never indulged in corruption and held aloft moral values in politics.

They said in an era of criminalisation of politics, Bhaura was one of the politicians who propagated secularism and non-violence. He liberally granted funds for the development of the rural and the urban areas falling in his constituency.

They pointed out that Bhaura even had a number of friends in political parties which were opposed to the CPI.

They added that Bhaura never used money or muscle power in the elections. He always fought against injustice and took the administration to task a number of times for its wilful mistakes and denial of justice to the deserving people.

The others who attended the function included a former Akali minister, Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, a former MP, Mr Dhyan Singh Mand, a former MLA, Mr Hardev Singh Arshi, a senior Congress leader, Mr Kulwant Rai Aggarwal, and many leaders belonging to the BJP and other parties.

A large number of prominent citizens, mediapersons, doctors, advocates, businessmen, traders and government officials also attended the function.


Illegal construction by temple authorities?
Our Correspondent

Amritsar January 8
Corporation owned Prime land worth crores given on lease to the Durgiana Temple authorities for constructing a school was allegedly misused to construct shops. As many as shops as a dozen shops are being constructed at the site. Due to the prime location these shops would fetch crores of rupees.

The Commissioner, Corporation, Mr K.S. Kang, admitted that the shops were “illegal” as the site had been given on an agreement to construct an educational institute. He said the Durgiana Temple management was violating the lease agreement in this case. He also admitted that no building plan had been passed or permission sought from the corporation before the construction of the shops, on the land was started.

However, Mr Surinder Arjun, president Sri Durgiana Temple Committee, said they were going to construct an educational institute on the band as agreed upon in the lease. He said the said constructions would be used for imparting computer education to students.

A piquant situation has developed as the construction is by a religious concern. Also shops got constructed during the SAD-BJP tenure were never demolished as action against these was delayed time and again. This has given the ruling party, a measure to draw comparisons as the present head of Durgiana Temple management is also the general secretary of the District Congress Committee.

A social activist, Mr SS Sharma, who brought the violation to the notice of the corporation demanded immediate appropriate action in the matter.

Meanwhile, the District Magistrate has been apprised of the situation and directions have been sought to demolish the said constructions. Meanwhile, the Durgiana management is yet to reply to the notice issued by the corporation.


Kharar: town with surfeit of cremation points
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, January 8
Performing the funeral ceremony at places set aside for the purpose at Kharar for generations is now more or less a tradition. No wonder there are 8 points, falling within the municipal limits, where people are cremated. None of these are being run by the Municipal Council.

Efforts by the civic body to set up one central cremation ground after closing down the present sites at different locations have not yet borne fruit. People have opposed the move on grounds that cremations have been done for generations at these points. Sentiments have played a big role and residents want to perform the funeral ceremonies only at these points even though no facility worth the name exists there.

One cremation point ‘Bharat Ghat’ is near Dashmesh Nagar and Guru Tegh Bhadur Colony. Sources say that another point, reserved for Christians, is also around the same area. One point is located on the National Highway near Bansaanwali Chungi while the other is located on the road to Ludhiana at Khanpur. One point falls in Mundi Kharar while one each at Desumajra and Chhajumajra. Another one is located in Ram Bagh.

Except the cremation ground at Ram Bagh, no other point has any facility. A visit to some of the points showed that only one shed each had been erected at certain cremation points which were full of wild growth and even did not have any boundary wall. There was no facility of wood, water, power, etc. Residents have to make all arrangements themselves, including that of a priest.

The cremation ground at Ram Bagh, which is being run by a committee, had been set up by efforts of late Mr Labhu Ram who had collected donations for the purpose. Even though it has all required facilities, it is not very commonly used because people prefer other points as sentiments are involved.

Mr Gopal Krishan Bansal, a member of the committee running the cremation ground at Ram Bagh, told Chandigarh Tribune that their body was running the place with “Seva bhav”. The members would like no interference from the Municipal Council as it would make the working of the place very formal. At present the bodies of many poor persons were being cremated without taking any money which would not be possible if the civic body took over the place. Moreover, corruption would start taking place if the council took over the charge, alleged Mr Bansal.

Mr Preet Kamal Singh, legal adviser of the Ropar unit of the SAD and former senior vice-president of the municipal council, said last year the civic body had proposed at one of the meetings to set up one cremation ground where all facilities could be provided and the rest of land where cremation points existed could be put to some other use. But the residents opposed such a move.


Naughty monkey caught at last
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 8
A wild monkey which had developed a penchant for attacking women in Urban Estate phase two has finally been caged, with Divisional Forest personnel getting the better of him today.

According to sources, the monkey had been playing havoc in the Urban Estate phase two for nearly a fortnight. They said the monkey was particularly targeting women and children. This, they said, was because women and children were more terrified by it and allowed it to snatch away things from their hands more easily. The monkey was also sometimes taking away or tearing clothes hanging on clothe lines in the courtyards of various houses.

Divisional Forest Officer Karamjit Singh Jattana said the department had received a written complaint about the monkey recently and had started taking steps to cage it. He said first the Patiala Range officer and his staff were asked to trap the monkey but they were unable to do so, which necessitated installation of a cage in which some food was put to entice the monkey to enter it.

Mr Jattana said when forest officials saw that the problem was not being solved even after 15 days, a tranquiliser gun was arranged from the Chattbir zoo. He said despite attempts to tranquilise him, the monkey evaded the shots. Finally Mr Jattana said the forest officials were able to entice the monkey to enter a special cage.


No headway in human trafficking case
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, January 8
The police has failed to arrest former Miss Punjab-turned-model Parpreet Kaur, who was booked by the Jalandhar police in an alleged human trafficking case, along with the other accused.

Parpreet Kaur, whose brother and mother along with a journalist have been booked in the case, had got herself admitted to the local Civil Hospital on Saturday from where she fled after learning about the on a complaint lodged by Kaithal-based Lakhwinder Singh.

Lakhwinder had alleged that he had been duped of Rs 7 lakh by Parpreet on the pretext of sending him to the USA. He added that he was beaten up by her and other co-accused after he was called to her residence on the pretext of returning the amount.

The journalist, Baljit Brar, has been released on bail by a local court.

Interestingly, Parpreet’s mother, who was allegedly detained by the police along with Baljit Brar by the Model Town police station, allowed to leave the police station late on Saturday night under pressure from some influential persons even though the police denied this. “Yes, Parpreet’s mother was detained along with me but was let off later in the night,” revealed Brar while talking to The Tribune.


Six papers presented
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 8
Six papers were presented today on the second day of the International Punjabi Language Development Conference on “Sri Guru Granth different perspective’”.

Dr Harkirat Singh in his paper on “Gurbani and grammar” emphasised on the need to have a common grammar containing words from different languages so that the difference between Hindi and Punjabi words which were used in the compilation of Guru Granth Sahib could be clarified.

Dr Navrattan Kapoor spoke at length about the usage of Rajasthani, Arabic, Persian, Marathi and Sanskrit words in the Bani keeping the meanings intact.

Dr Surjit Hans in his research paper on “Political awareness and Sri Guru Granth Sahib” gave a detailed account of political developments that led to Ram bhakti instead of raj bhakti. Dr Jasbir Singh Sabbar, Dr Satinder Singh Noor, Dr Kirpal Singh and Dr Dharam Singh also presented their research papers.

Last evening a musical programme was organised in the Arts Auditorium of the university in which Suffi singer Barkat Sidhu presented his numbers. Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, Vidhan Sabha, was the chief guest. The Vice-Chancellor, Mr Swarn Singh Boparai, Dr U.C. Singh, Dean, Academic Affairs, Dr Param Bakhshish Singh, Registrar, were among those present.


Painting competition on traffic awareness
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
The district police, Transport Department in collaboration with the Lions Club, Sirhind, today organised an interaction programme with the students of the local BZFS Senior Secondary School. A painting competition on traffic rules was also organised as part of the traffic week celebrations. Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, informed the students about traffic rules and signals. Later, he interacted with the students and answered to their queries and cleared their apprehensions about the role of police in regulating the traffic.

Addressing the students, the SSP said the youth was an important part of the society and without their cooperation, no target could be achieved. He said in a majority of accident cases, the drivers were underage. He said it was unfortunate that traffic rules were obeyed only under the threat of the police. He said challaning a driver did not serve any purpose rather there should be adequate motivation to obey traffic rules.

He said it was the need of the hour to check the traffic violations and prevent accidents. He said the law enforcing agencies could not control accidents on their own, but needed everybody’s cooperation.

Addressing the seminar, Mrs Raghbir Kaur Khera, DTO, urged the students not to drive vehicles without driving licences. She said with the help of social organisations, reflectors would be fixed on tractor-trailers.

Mr Ashwani Kaura, Secretary, Lions Club, highlighted the various projects initiated by the Lions Club during the traffic week celebrations.

Mr Kirpal Singh Libra, chairman of the school, Mr Rajinder Pal Bajwa, principal, and Mr Nirmal Singh, instructor, also spoke.


Houses of Babbu’s friends searched
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 8
While the accused in the Amarjit murder case have not yet been arrested the Gurgaon police today conducted raids at the residences of some friends of former Punjab Youth Congress chief Davinder Singh Babbu, an accused in the case.

The Gurgaon police officials conducted searches at the Arjun Nagar residence of a senior Youth Congress leader this afternoon, but without success. Amarjit was shot dead in a gang war at Gurgaon on December 8 last year. None of the accused have been arrested yet.


Pensioners await dues
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
Highlighting the plight of old age pensioners facing multiple problems, Mr Satya Pal Dang, CPI leader, in a communication to the Director, Social Securities Department, has stated that of the list of 10 pensioners sent by him, Budh Singh had expired recently and the other nine continued to suffer as they had not received their dues.

He urged that Budh Singh’s widow be given the claim of the pending dues towards her husband till December.

The Communist leader further said that he be informed about status of 203 persons who had not been paid their pensions for a considerable period of time.


Two brothers found dead

Dhuri (Sangrur), January 8
The bodies of two brothers were found today in mysterious circumstances in Ladda Kothi village, the police said.

The bodies of Hardev Singh,34, and Sindher Singh, 32, of the same village, were found in their rooms, the police added.

The cause of death would be known only after autopsy, the police said. — UNI


Nod to Tarn Taran-Goindwal rail link

Amritsar, January 8
A 21.5 km long rail line would be laid from Tarn Taran to Goindwal. The project would cost Rs 36 crore.

About 139 acres of land of 15 villages would be acquired for the purpose. A sum of Rs 10 crore has been proposed to be paid to farmers in lieu of the land. This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Raminder Singh, at the ‘jan sampark muhim’ held at Naushera Pannuan today. — OC


Patwari’s remand extended
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
Ms Neelam Arora, Chief Judicial Magistrate, today extended the police remand of the patwari, Gurpal Singh, alias Raja, for one day.

The patwari, his wife Satinder Kaur and Balwinder Singh, a resident of Ghumand Garh, have been booked by the Sirhind police on charges of accepting Rs 23.5 lakh from Mr Varinder Singh and Mr Harpreet Singh and committing a fraud on them by making fake registration of Canal Rest House.

Meanwhile, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said more complaints against the patwari had been received.


MC to reverse decision on illegal colonies
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 8
The local Municipal Corporation has decided to revert the decision of the state Local Bodies Department pertaining to the imposition of a ban on approving plans of buildings to be constructed in unauthorised colonies within the city.

The MC House at its meeting on December 29 had passed a resolution unanimously to lift the ban on the pretext that the order of the state Local Bodies Department had caused huge revenue loss to the civic body during the past about 10 months.

The resolution further stated that the applicants should deposit the requisite development charges along with their proposed building plans. Besides, it was observed that in most of these colonies, residents had allegedly started the construction of houses while the officials concerned were intentionally not taking any action against them for obvious reasons.

The Department, in its bid to check mushrooming of illegal colonies in the city had guidelines to the MC officials in this regard.

According to sources, there were around 150 unauthorised colonies within the municipal limits where construction activity was affected following the order. On the other hand private colonies had to reduce the rates of the residential plots in such colonies as buyers were reluctant to purchase plots for fear of action.

The authorities concerned had also sent a copy of the resolution to the Principal Secretary, Local Bodies Department, for approval.


Three more held in fake currency case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 8
The district police has arrested three agents dealing in fake currency and seized Rs 2.55 lakh in the denomination of Rs 1,000 and Rs 500 notes from them.

The district police chief, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, in a press note issued here today, said that following revelations made by the already arrested members of the gang dealing in fake currency, the police conducted raids at specific hideouts and arrested three more agents and recovered fake currency worth Rs 2.55 lakh from them.

The arrested persons were identified as Pritam Singh Parwana and Rawal Singh of Billi Chao village and Baldev Raj Bhatia of Batian Mohalla in Nakodar. During preliminary interrogation, it was learnt that Pritam Singh was the brother of Jagtar Singh, kingpin of the fake currency racket, who had been arrested by the police on January 3 along with three others.

Fake currency worth Rs 1,02,500 and Rs 98,500 was seized from Pritam Singh and Rawal Singh, respectively. Efforts were on to arrest the remaining agents involved in the racket.


Fake degree racket busted
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 8
The district police claims to have busted a racket of selling fake degrees, with the arrest of Ravinder Singh, a resident of Chandigarh. The police has registered a case under Section 420, 467, 468, 471 of the IPC at Sirhind police station. The culprit was today presented in the court of Mrs Neelam Arora, CJM, who remanded him to police custody for one more day.

According to Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, Ravinder Singh, a resident of kothi No.3388, Sector 35D, Chandigarh, had been running a coaching centre, school and nursery teachers’ training institution in Chandigarh as well as in Delhi in the name of “Education Point”. He said he had been running City High School at Pehowa in Haryana, Education Point 160, Pritampura, Delhi, and Education Point at Sector 35D Chandigarh.

The SSP said the modus operandi was that he used to give advertisements in the newspapers regarding BA, B.Ed and other courses and when the candidates approached him, he used to strike a deal with the candidates to get degree without studying by charging thousands of rupees. He said the racket came to light when Mr Kulwinder Singh, who was working as a teacher in Government Primary School, Bras, in the district was dismissed from service as he got the job on fake certificates.

Giving details he said Mr. Kulwinder Singh after reading a newspaper advertisement fell into his trap and he obtained a fake degree of Bundel Khand University, Jhansi, from him by paying Rs. 25000 and on the basis of that degree he got job in the Education Department and was posted in the district. He said on the directions of the High Court the certificates of all recruited teachers were got verified and the degree of Kulwinder Singh was found to be fake and he was expelled from the service and an FIR was got registered against him. He said that now Kulwinder Singh was in judicial custody and during interrogation he revealed his name. The SSP said Mr Balwinder Singh, DSP, Fatehgarh Sahib, succeeded in nabbing the culprit, who was evading arrest.


Gang of thieves busted, 5 held
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
With the arrest of five persons, the district police today claimed to have busted a gang of chain, purse and mobile phone snatchers and vehicle thieves here. The police has also seized arms from them.

The accused are Jagir Singh, alias Jagira, Hushiar Singh and Manga of Mardi village, Harpreet Singh of Majitha road and Ramveek Kumar of Dera Baba Nanak. The police has registered cases against the suspects under various sections of the IPC and the Arms Act.

Giving details, Mr Harmanbir Singh Gill, (City-II), the police got a tip-off that the suspects had formed a gang involved in snatching chains, purses and mobile phones. The gang also stole vehicles from various places in the city. He said the gang was planning to commit loot at Ranjit Avenue, B-block, here.

The police has seized two revolvers of .32 bore along with 11 cartridges, two pistols and sharp-edged weapons from them.

The police also recovered five cars, 10 scooters and three motor cycles from them.


Gang manufacturing spurious mobil oil busted

Kapurthala, January 8
The Punjab police today claimed to have busted a gang and arrested its two members allegedly involved in preparing spurious mobil oil under the fake brand name of ‘BSA highpower oil’.

The suspects have been identified as Gurpal Singh of Jalandhar and Gurpal Bahadur Singh Bawa, a resident of Kapurthala, a police spokesman said here.

The police said the accused used to prepare spurious mobil oil and sell it in the market under the fake brand name in a car.

The police has seized 140 half-litre containers having fake markings of ‘BSA high power oil’, three drums containing about 300 litres of lubricants, 792 empty plastic containers, one machine used for packing the containers along with an electric motor, mixture powder for preparing oil, 491 labels bearing markings of the BSA 254 labels of GSA trade mark and instruments of refining oil. A case has been registered. — PTI


Undertrial escapes after spiking ‘barfi’
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 8
An undertrial escaped from the custody of three police personnel who were taking him to Chandigarh yesterday night after offering them spiked “barfi”.

According to police sources, the undertrial, Harmanpreet Singh, was being taken to Chandigarh in a hired taxi from the Patiala Central Jail. He was to be presented in a court in Chandigarh today with regard to a robbery case filed against him.

The sources said the undertrial offered the three policemen — Head Constable Puran Singh, and constables Jagdish Kumar and Pawan Kumar — spiked “barfi” near Chhat village. They said the ‘barfi’ rendered all three policemen semiconscious. They said following this the undertrial threatened the taxi driver with dire consequences and got out of the car and escaped. The three police personnel were brought to Rajindra Hospital here last night. Doctors said they seemed to have been given some poisonous substance.


Robbers’ gang busted

Moga, January 8
The Punjab police today claimed to have busted a gang of robbers allegedly responsible for committing robberies and murders by nabbing all its 11 members.

The police recovered eight pistols and a large number of live cartridges from their possession, a police spokesman said here. He said on secret information, when police parties rushed to a dhaba, the suspects escaped in a vehicle. However, they were apprehended at a police naka near Shamkhera village.

The suspects during interrogation confessed they were planning to rob the petrol station in Doda Kular village. They also confessed to committing a number of robberies. — PTI


50 bags of poppy husk seized
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, January 8
The local police today seized 50 bags of poppy husk from a naka point at Pakhoke village. The drivers have been booked under the NDPS Act.

Police sources said here that a truck and a tractor-trailer had been impounded in this regard.

Mr Parumdeep Singh Teja, DSP, and Mr Naurang Singh, SHO, were leading the police party. Twentyfour bags of poppy husk were seized from the tractor-trailer while the remaining bags were seized from the truck.


Kuldip Nayar’s tips to budding scribes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 8
“Journalists are not born, they are made,’’ said veteran journalist Mr Kuldip Nayar while addressing students of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, here today.

Giving some valuable tips, he told students that their writings should be simple and interesting. Mr Nayar also exhorted the students to have the courage to stand up for truth and inculcate good reading habits.” Credibility cannot be earned in a day, but once earned, it pays a lot in this noble profession”, he added. He also advised the students to stick to their professional and ethical standards, particularly during the early years of their career.


State, district orders on timings differ
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 8
The variation in the orders regarding the change of timings in the educational institutions issued by the district administration in Faridkot district and the Punjab Government due to inclement weather in the state caused confusion in the institutions.

As per the schedule directed by Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner of Faridkot, the institutions will remain open from 10 am to 3.30 pm from January 1 to 30 in the district. On the other hand, the state government by its orders that appeared in a vernacular newspaper published from Chandigarh on January 7 has asked the institutions to work from 9.30 am to 3 pm in the state till January 15.

Headmasters of government high schools of rural and urban areas under the condition of anonymity while describing it an act of non-coordination between the government and the Faridkot authorities was causing harassment and inconvenience. The District Education Officer (Secondary) was not available for comments on the issue.


Petrol station site nets Rs 2.45 cr
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 8
A petrol station site located opposite Guru Nanak Dev University, measuring 1,333 sq yards, fetched Rs 2.45 crore at an auction held by the Improvement Trust authorities here today. Ms Ratna, Chairperson of trust, stated this in a press note.

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