P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No complaint against Transport Minister: VB
Another challan against Badal soon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Mr Mohammad Izhar Alam, Chief Director of the Punjab Vigilance Bureau, said today that there was no complaint against Transport Minister, Tej Parkash Singh. He disclosed the bureau had received receipts pertaining to the corruption case against the Deputy Chief Minister designate and dissident leader, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and that the bureau was verifying their authenticity.

Addressing a press conference, he said the receipts, if found genuine, would have to be produced in the court, and these would have a bearing on the case. These receipts were found from the Chief Minister’s Office after dissidents mounted pressure seeking a change in the state leadership.

Mr Alam said another challan would be presented against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal “on the basis of substantive evidence” pertaining to five or six allegations against the Badals. He denied having received any brief from Chief Minister Amarinder Singh in this regard. Efforts were on into collect more evidence. Investigations were on into Mr Badal’s properties abroad.

Mr Alam claimed the bureau had registered 173 criminal cases against public servants and laid 225 traps in which 37 government officials and 220 non-government officials were arrested in 2003. He refused comment on the bail granted by the Supreme Court to former Punjab Public Service Commission Chairman RPS Sidhu, who was arrested by the Vigilance Bureau in March, 2002.

Meanwhile, the bureau has directed all its Investigating Officers (IOs) to carry their identity cards with them on person. It has also asked all senior government functionaries, political leaders and SSPs of all districts to verify the identity of the officers who go to their places for conducting raids/checks. The officers have also been directed to conduct raids after completing necessary formalities. A letter in this regard has already been written by the Chief Director of the bureau, keeping in view the rumours regarding the recent vigilance raids at the houses of senior government officers and politicians.


Senior Congress leader ‘conspired’ against CM
SAD, BJP offered Rs 40 crore for horse trading of MLAs,
says Bir Davinder

Lalit Mohan

Ropar, January 12
The Deputy Speaker, Punjab, Mr Bir Davinder, alleged that a senior Congress leader had conspired with the BJP and SAD leaders to bring down Amarinder Singh government in Punjab.

While addressing a meeting of Congress Panches and Sarpanches at the Congress Bhavan today in view of the January 15 rally of Sonia Gandhi at Bathinda, Mr Bir Davinder alleged that the conspiracy to bring down Amarinder Singh government had been hatched before the Assembly elections in four states. He was called to Delhi by a senior Congress leader (whose name he did not disclose) for breakfast meeting.

He told him that a deal had been struck with senior leaders of the BJP and SAD and they would pay Rs 40 crore for horse trading of MLAs to bring down Capt Amarinder Singh. Besides he (Bir Davinder) would be made the Deputy Chief Minister. After that the Union Government would give a Rs 1,000 crore package to the new government formed with the support of the SAD. The leader also offered to arrange his meeting with the BJP general secretary, Mr Pramod Mahajan, Mr Bir Davinder alleged.

He further alleged that instead of taking the bait, he informed the Congress president, Ms Sonia Gandhi, about the conspiracy. Due to the damage control exercise started at that point the Congress Government was saved.

When asked about the name of the senior Congress leader who had called him to Delhi and made the offer, Mr Bir Davinder said he was not bound to give all answers to mediapersons. Moreover, now that the conspiracy to bring down the Congress Government in the state has been torpedoed there was no need to reveal the name, he said.

Mr Bir Davinder also praised Capt Amarinder Singh for launching anti-corruption campaign in the state. While responding to a query he said though the Congress might do well in Punjab in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the party had not been able to project a unified image before the people of the state.

Meanwhile, differences between the leaders of the dissident and Capt Amarinder Singh camp one again surfaced at the meeting today. The leaders of the dissident camp, including the Animal Husbandry, Sports and Youth Affairs minister, Mr Jagmohan Kang, and the State Minister for Grievances and Transport, Mr Ramesh Dutt Sharma, stayed away from the meeting along with their supporters. The meeting was attended just by the leaders of the Capt Amarinder Singh camp, including the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, Mr K.P.S. Rana, and Mr Bir Davinder.


Cong ‘patchwork’ ahead of Sonia’s visit
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 12
A galaxy of Congress leaders, including the Deputy Chief Minister designate, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, and her Cabinet colleagues who arrived here to check the arrangements being made for the visit of the AICC chief, Ms Sonia Gandhi to the town on January 15 tried to project “a united face” of the party and “complete harmony” in the functioning of its government in the state. But their visit failed to enthuse the party workers.

Senior party worker was beaten up when he tried to enter the house of another senior Congress leader where Ms Bhattal and other ministers and MLAs were enjoying their lunch. Most of the workers who came from the town and its surrounding areas had to return disappointed after they failed to convey their grievances regarding the treatment meted out by the government officials to their leaders.

Only a few Congressmen turned up to welcome their leaders at Bhisiana Airport, where the plane carrying Ms Bhattal, her Cabinet colleagues and other party leaders landed. Most of the office-bearers of the District Congress Committee, Bathinda unit, went directly to the meeting hall in the district administrative complex. Ms Bhattal presided over the meeting and gave necessary directions to the civil and police officials apart from party workers. Mr Harminder Singh Jassi, Chairman, Markfed, Punjab, who wields considerable influence in Bathinda district and its surrounding districts, was not informed about the today’s meeting by the authorities concerned.

To conceal the fact that there was any disunity among the party rank and file, differences between the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, and Ms Bhattal and rising disappointment among the workers the party MLAs and ministers tried to avoid commenting on the situation while talking to mediapersons formally and informally.

Those who attended today’s meeting, included Mr Surinder Singla, Chairman, high powered Finance Committee, Punjab, Mr Jasjit Randhawa, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, Mr Avtar Henry (all ministers) and Mr Parkash Singh Bhatti, Mr Gurjant Singh Kuttiwal, Mr Nathu Ram (all MLAs).

Only Ms Bhattal claimed that workers were united like a rock to protect the interest of the party in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.

Ms Bhattal said Mr Singla would be the convener of the conference and the other party ministers, MLAs and leaders would assist him to make the rally a big success. She also hinted that Mr Singla would be inducted into the Cabinet soon. After presiding over the meeting, Ms Bhattal along with her associates visited the site where the party rally would be held.

While addressing a press conference here Ms Bhattal admitted that party leadership could not take due care of the interests of the party workers in the past two years but now it would be given priority over all other things.

She said even the Chief Minister had admitted publically that there were some shortcomings in his style of functioning and added that as Capt Amarinder Singh had changed his style of functioning, the grievances of the workers would be removed shortly. She added that government officers would have to give due respect and honour to party workers.

When asked about the statement of Cabinet Minister Harnam Dass Johar criticising her and claiming that by accepting the post of Deputy Chief Minister she had alienated herself from the group which had been opposing Capt Amarinder Singh’s style of functioning and which had been working for strengthening the party, Ms Bhattal said comments of Mr Johar were unfortunate and it seemed that it was his individual opinion.

She, however, refused to answer when asked whether she would file a defamation case against the person, who had made a complaint and subsequently launched criminal proceeding against her for her alleged involvement in the embezzlement of Rs 20 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund after the receipt pertaining to the use of same had been found in the Chief Minister’s office. She added that she had been claiming that she was a victim of a deep-rooted conspiracy and the same had been proved true after receipts were found in the Chief Minister’s office. 


I’m not a rebel, says Johar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The presence of Punjab Minister for Higher Education Harnam Das Johar, supporting a pink turban, lent a new political colour to the press conference addressed by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here today.

While Capt Amarinder Singh asserted there was no dissidence in the Congress as “You can all see. We are all working like a team to make a success of the visit of Ms Sonia Gandhi to Bathinda on January 15 and later in the Lok Sabha elections’’. Mr Johar quipped ‘’I neither was nor am a dissident’’.

The Chief Minister fielded questions on corruption as also a possible Congress agenda for the Lok Sabha poll. He said the campaign against corruption would go full steam. As many as 400 officials had fallen into the vigilance net so far on account of corruption. ‘’Corruption cannot disappear. At least screws can be tightened’’.


Bhattal’s removal demanded
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 12
“To stem erosion of Congress  values, action against Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal should be initiated and she should be sacked”. This demand was by Mr Ved Parkash Tallewalia, president, Arhtiya Association, Barnala,  and senior Congress activist of the Barnala region in a letter to Capt Amarinder Singh, Punjab Chief Minister. Mr Tallewalia has  sent copies of this letter to Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President, All-India Congress  Committee, Mr P.K. Mukherjee, Dr Manmohan Singh, Mr Ahmed Patel, Mrs Mohsina Kidwai In charge Punjab Congress all senior Congress leaders.

Praising Capt Amarinder Singh for his crusade against corruption in high places, Mr Tallewalia said that it had exposed Mr Parkash Singh Badal and his other Akalis.

Criticising Mr Badal and  Mrs Bhattal  for promoting corruption, Mr Tallewalia alleged that it was intriguing that Captain Amarinder’s fight against corruption had brought Mr Badal and Mrs Bhattal together.

Mr Tallewalia alleged that Mrs Bhattal saw nothing beyond herself and she had created trouble for Mr H.S. Brar (then Punjab Chief Minister)  in and 1996 and indulged in horse-trading to become Punjab Chief Minister.

Mr Tallewalia regretted that at the lower level i.e. from SHO to the SSP and from Tehsil to District officials corruption remained unchecked.

He also alleged that some centres of extra-constitutional powers had  cropped up attending the functioning of the government officials.


Absent DCs asked to give explanation
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 12
The Deputy Chief Minister-designate, Punjab, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal today said explanation would be sought from the Deputy Commissioners, who were absent from a meeting held here today in connection with AICC chief Ms Sonia Gandhi’s visit despite being asked to attend the same.

Ms Bhattal said she had asked her personal secretary to write a demi-official letter to Chief Secretary, Punjab, in this regard.

Out of six districts of Malwa region, whose Deputy Commissioners were asked to attend today’s meeting, only two from Mansa and Sangrur districts attended the same.


Fresh steps to check ‘sleeping agents’

Attari, January 12
As Samjhauta Express between India and Pakistan is all set to be back on the rails on January 15, the security agencies have started taking fresh measures to ward off threats from anti-national elements, including “sleeping agents”, who choose the train as mode of transport to infiltrate into the country.

The Customs and Immigration Departments have taken fresh measures, including a new software at counters which would enable to keep a complete track of the passengers coming from Pakistan.

“Sleeping agents” are pushed into the country who then mingle with the local populace and build a network for providing safe houses for militants.

“The new software has been loaded in the computers at the Attari railway station. Any passenger coming from Pakistan will have to reveal his final destination after which the police of the state concerned will be asked to keep a track on him like his arrival and departure,” said a senior Immigration official.

He said in case the passenger disembarked midway, a hunt could be launched immediately to nab that person.

This would enable the government to keep a check on such persons who came into the country on one pretext and later went into hybernation and then indulge in anti-national activities.

The official said there had been several occasions when such “sleeping agents” had infiltrated into the country and were caught years later.

The Customs Department has made elaborate measures to check smuggling from Pakistan, which mainly includes drugs and dry fruit.

The Customs Department has placed “drug scanning kits” at the railway station, besides deployment of its staff along the two sides of the track, when the train enters from Pakistan into the Indian side.

Petty smugglers earlier would throw their stuff on the tracks and later retrieve the item with the help of local contacts.

This time, however, Customs preventive staff, along with BSF troops, would be present along the 2-km stretch from the international border to the railway station, said a senior Customs official. — PTI


Sleuths for complete frisking of Samjhauta passengers
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Samjhauta Express may bring back acrimony between the two nations if “100 per cent frisking” of passengers is not started from January 15.

The restart of the train after a gap of two years makes it easier to frisk all passengers, feel intelligence authorities. Before the train link was snapped following the December 13, 2001 Parliament attack the frisking was 30 per cent. They opine that starting off at 30 per cent and then increasing to 100 per cent would send a “wrong signal” to Pakistan.

The absolute frisking would reduce the possibility of terrorist organisations sending their men as well as drug mafia using it to traffic contraband.

Pakistan had objected to India increasing frisking at the height of militancy in Punjab between the late eighties and early nineties. Though both countries have decided to introduce gadgets keep a record of the passengers, yet there is no substitute to 100 per cent frisking, feel the authorities.

Earlier, various agencies were involved in checking the passengers. Now the responsibility has been given to the Intelligence Bureau. Customs and other agencies will coordinate with the Bureau.


Attari-Lahore Railway phone line starts functioning
Rashmi Talwar

Attari (Amritsar), January 12
Telephone lines connecting Attari International Railway station with Lahore railway station in Pakistan became operational today. The communication was put in place in anticipation of the resumption of “Samjhauta Express” on 15 of this month.

An electromagnetic phone was the only mode of Railway communication earlier between the two countries. The system led to delays in information on the arrival and departure of trains. Mr S.K. Madan Station Superintendent Attari confirmed the functional status of the new advanced telephone communication today.

It was only after leaving Wagah station in Pakistan that information was exchanged between Wagah and Attari which are only at a distance of half hour’s run. This had led to several hitches in security and other staff duties in the past. However, the new communication would cut short time on information about departure, arrival, line clearance, signalling and formalities on either sides. It would also afford ample time for staff like Customs, immigration etc to be prepared well in advance.

The train used to start from Lahore at 8 a.m. without communication with Attari. Only on reaching Wagah in Pakistan passengers used to undergo Custom clearance. Communication was possible between the two countries only through “electromagnetic phone lines” train used to leave Wagah at 12 noon and reach Attari in half an hour (12.30) p.m.

The lines which have been laid upto zero line would also benefit goods train-link between the two countries.

“The earlier device will not be discarded. Instead both communication devices would work simultaneously,” revealed Mr Madan.

Other equipment and techniques were also being put in place to counter any attempt of infiltration or smuggling of contraband. This includes X-ray machines, drug-detecting devices, walkie-talkie sets, metal detectors, televisions sets, computers, cameras etc.


White House to host Gurpurb celebrations
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 12
White House will organise a special function to mark the 400th birth anniversary of Guru Granth Sahib this year. Dr Rajwant Singh, founder president, Sikh Council On Religion and Education (SCORE), stated this to select reporters here today. He also held a meeting with Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar Akal Takht in this regard. This would be for the first time that White House would be organising such a function.

Washington based, Dr Rajwant Singh who has been promoting awareness of Sikhism during various inter-faith meetings said that SCORE had already urged the President of the USA to give some top positions of White House to a Sikh to stop hate crime against the community due to “mistaken identity” after the September 11 incident. He said the SCORE would also organise a special function in the USA in connection with 400th anniversary of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib. He said apart from Jathedar Akal Takht, Sikh leaders from all over the world would be invited for the occasion. Dr Rajwant Singh said that world-wide de-addiction campaign would be launched by his organisation as per Sikh tenets.

Earlier, Dr Rajwant Singh held a meeting with Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary, SGPC, Ms Kiranjot Kaur, a former general secretary of the SGPC and Baba Sewa Singh of Khadoor Sahib. He offered his services to make the 400th annivesaries of Guru Granth Sahib and Gurpurb of Guru Angad Dev a success.


7,000 wakf properties illegally occupied
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
The Punjab Waqf Board will launch a campaign to get its illegally occupied properties across the state vacated, Mr Mohammed Izhar Alam, Chief Executive Officer of the board, said here today.

Mr Alam clarified that the Waqf properties did not belong to any individual or any particular community but were owned and managed by the state government. The income generated by the board should be spent on public healthcare, education of poor students, old age pension.

Seeking active participation of the state police in getting its properties vacated, Mr Alam pointed out that 60 per cent of the board’s over 7,000 properties worth crores of rupees were illegally occupied in Punjab. The board owns nearly 23,000 properties worth Rs 1000 crore in the state.

Earlier there was a common board for Punjab, Haryana and Himachal but now each of these states had separate boards. While Mr Sanjit K. Sinha, Principal Secretary (Home), has been appointed Administrator of the Punjab Board, which started functioning on December 10 it would have its office in Sector 22.

The state government had directed the Deputy Commissioners to guard against the unauthorised occupation of wakf properties. In many cases, various courts, including the Supreme Court, had passed vacation orders of some specified properties belonging to the board but the administration had not been able to comply with those orders. Police help had now been sought to get these vacated.


Rally by BJP Yuva Morcha
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 12
The Bathinda district unit of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM) today held a rally to mark “Vivekananda Jayanti”.

The rally started from the Fire-Brigade chowk with the singing of a patriotic song and a address of teachings of Swami Vivekanand.

Mr Naveen Singla, district president, BJYM, said that the youth held the key to the development of any country. He claimed that India was a “young country” as a large portion of the Indian population belonged to age group of 18-45.

Mr Singla said that Swami Vivekanand gave a new direction to the Indian youth and had urged the youth to concentrate on the development of the country. He claimed that the rally and awareness programme was to motivate the youth for the country’s development.

He said that for the success of democracy spread of education was very necessary and for this ‘Sarv Shiksha Aa Bhiyan’ had been launched.

Mr Mohit Gupta, district president, Mr Sunil Bitta, general secretary and Mr Narinder Mittal, mandal president of the BJP and other leaders of the party also addressed the rally. They urged the BJYM members to get ready for Lok Sabha elections.

Activists carried banners and placards. The rally passed through various bazars of the city before concluding at the BJP district office.


SGPC seeks permission for ‘token’ Sikh jatha
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
The SGPC urged the Union Home Secretary, Mr N. Gopalaswami, to give special permission to a ‘token’ jatha of 101 Sikhs to perform ‘ardas’ at the historic Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara located on Indo-Pak border.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, general secretary took up the matter with the Union Secretary due to special significance of gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib during the forthcoming 400th birth anniversary celebrations of second guru, Guru Angad Dev. He said the second Sikh guru was presented the ‘gur-gaddi’ (holy throne) by founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev at this gurdwara that is located on the Indo-Pak border.

He stated that a nagar kirtan was scheduled to be taken out from Pakistan the same day and the ‘token’ Sikh jatha could join them and return the same day to lead a procession here that would conclude at Khadoor Sahib.

The SGPC secretary further urged that a high level Sikh delegation headed by Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra may be allowed to survey the gurdwaras in Pakistan and restore maryada there. Similarly another Sikh jatha should be allowed to survey Sikh shrines in Bangladesh. He contended that adverse reports about gurdwaras were emerging from both these countries.


SGPC urged to bear juveniles’ expenses
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 12
Bhai Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Damdama Sahib, Talwandi Sabo, Bathinda district, has expressed concern over the poor diet and other basic facilities being provided to about 40 juveniles at the district jail, Faridkot.

The jathedar who was on a visit to the jail promised to discuss the issue with the SGPC and urged it to bear the expenses of the juveniles’ needs. Expressing resentment over the attitude of the Pakistan government with regard to the seven Pakistani boys who are languishing in the observation home. He urged upon the Central Government to sort out the matter at the earliest.

He also distributed woollen shawls among all.


Dharna by Sikhs on Jan 22
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, president, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today gave a call to all Sikhs to participate in the protest dharna to be held in front of French High Commission’s office at New Delhi on January 22, Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Honorary Secretary of SGPC said in a press note here. The dharna will be organised to protest against proposed ban by the French government on wearing of turban by Sikhs residing there.

Mr Calcutta added that a meeting of representatives of various Sikh organisations would be held at Teja Singh Samundari Hall on January 15 for deliberations on the celebrations of 500th Parkash Utsav of second Sikh Guru, Guru Angad Dev, 400th Parkash Utsav of Guru Granth Sahib and 300th martyrdom of sons of 10th Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, this year. 


Tension over removal of holy book
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 12
Tension mounted as a tent put up by some devotees to perform akhand Ramayan path opposite canal rest house was “forcibly” removed by some persons here today.

The traffic had to be diverted to other roads as the dharna by devotees continued till night.

A piece of land, owned by some Jain families, had been under the possession of the Army. It ran a Central school here besides housing the Army Medical Corps (AMC) for three decades. The Army had few months back started vacating the land restoring possession to the owners. Initially AMC and the school had been shifted to the cantonment area. Now Sainik Durga Mandir and Shivalya, constructed by the AMC, were to be shifted. The structure around the Shivalya had been recently bulldozed besides removing the boundary wall of the temple.

Residents of the adjoining localities of Sunder Nagari and Jain Nagari had protested against demolition of religious places.

A sangharsh samiti was formed taking members of different political parties into confidence. The samiti resolved to start akhand Ramayan path at the disputed site by putting a tent there. This, they said, would continue till the Shivalya was reconstructed. Some persons allegedly removed the holy book from the site. This sparked resentment among the devotees. They shouted slogans against the Army as they were reportedly told that instructions for removing the tent had been issued by a senior officer. The Army had not so far come up with any clarification in this regard. Sources, however, said the Army officers had contended that they were yet to vacate the disputed land “officially” so only akhand path could be allowed, but putting a tent there without any valid permission was wrong. 


Police averts communal clash
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 12
A potential clash in the heavily populated Dhobghat area of the city involving members of two communities and which had acquired communal colour was averted following the timely intervention of the local police late last night.

Trouble broke out when some inmates of Dhobghat, which is located near Khalsa Mohalla, started constructing a temple on the premises of Dhobghat. Dhobghat Mahasangh general secretary Rajesh Mandora claimed that since they were building the temple on their own land, members of the other community should not interfere in the process. Mr Mandora claimed that a local Congress leader and the Chairman of the Improvement Trust, Mr K.K Sharma, had laid the foundation stone of the temple last year. He justified the construction by saying that the mahasangh had built temples in two other areas of the city and nobody had objected to that.

The situation became explosive last night when the police was forced to deploy commandos in heavy strength. Word reached Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, who fearing a clash between Hindus and Sikhs, immediately asked the local police to diffuse the situation and pacify the warring parties.

In a late night development, the DSP, City-1, Mr G.S Bedi, reached the spot and managed to control the situation even as members of the Dhobghat Mahasangh claimed that they would go ahead with the construction of the temple.

The managements of Khalsa Mohalla Gurdwara and Kalgidhar Gurdwara, which were allegedly responsible for stalling the construction work, were also present at Dhobghat when the DSP arrived at the scene.

In an attempt to ward off further trouble, the police has made elaborate security arrangements at the disputed site and a police party is maintaining round-the-clock vigil at Dhobghat.

A senior office-bearer of the Khalsa Mohalla Gurdwara Committee said no temple could be built within the premises of Dhobghat since it would amount to encroachment on government land.


Red Cross fails to pay back
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
Every government school pupil makes a nominal monthly contribution to the state Red Cross Fund. In return, they are expected to get training in first aid and personality development. But very few camps are organised in the schools, especially in villages, to impart training, in these areas.

In addition to monthly contribution along with tuition fee, the pupils are often asked to raise funds on Red Cross Flag Day and other functions.

School principals say the scheme is run under the patronage of deputy commissioners and education officers at the district level. They are asked to make annual contribution. The schools in the state have reportedly collected over Rs 5 crore last year for the fund.

Incidentally, the previous Akali Dal-BJP government had imposed a ban on the Red Cross to raise funds from public. Insiders say, earlier, the deputy commissioners would simply ask the tehsildars to sell the Red Cross tickets to every person, who would come to them for registration of property.

Ms Neena Khanna, Principal, Kundan Vidya Mandir, Ludhiana, says, “ I have worked as principal in different schools for the past 18 years, but I am not aware of any contribution of the Red Cross for the personality development of school children, or any first aid training programme. We get letters from the higher authorities to make a annual contribution of Rs 1000 or so for the programme.”

Capt Rajinder S. Jaiya, Secretary, Indian Red Cross Society, Punjab, admitted,” Apart from district level societies, the state headquarters of the Red Cross also receives about Rs 10 lakh annually from the school fund. Since we are not getting adequate financial aid, we have urged the government to raise school and college student’s contribution to Rs 10 and Rs 15, respectively.”

He claimed that despite state government’s indifference, his team was making efforts to take the scheme to the school level. He lamented that after the ban on raising funds, the state government had announced to provide annual grant for the activities. He said as against Rs 50 lakh grant during the last financial year, the Red Cross had not received a single penny this year.


New cardio surgery procedure may ease
patients’ pain
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 12
A procedure which earlier quickened the beats of many a heart patients may now become less fearsome with doctors going in for checking the status of coronary arteries and subsequently removing the blockage in arteries by operating through an artery of the patient’s right hand instead of puncturing the groin for this procedure.

Coronary angiography and coronary angioplasty, the procedures through which the status of the arteries was checked and blockages removed subsequently through an operation, had traditionally frightened heart patients.

Under the traditional method, both procedures were performed by puncturing the groin following which special tubes were passed through the femoral artery to perform the operations.

After the procedure the patient had to remain in bed and keep his thigh and leg completely straight for about six hours after angiography and around 12 hours after angioplasty. This caused discomfort, back pain and even difficulty in passing urine.

The Managing Director of the Patiala Heart Institute, Dr Gurpreet Singh Sidhu, said an alternative to this approach was to puncture the radial artery which supplied blood to the hands at the right wrist and perform the angiography and angioplasty from this route.

He said in contrast to the conventional procedure the patient could get up and start walking right after the procedure was completed.

Dr Sidhu said this approach was popular in France with some of the French centers performing 90 per cent of their procedures through the radial route.

He said this procedure was not being performed by any other cardiac center in North India and it was only now that that Patiala Heart Institute was offering this procedure to heart patients. The doctor said the convenience of the procedure was being offered to the patients at no extra cost.

A Senior Interventional Cardiologist, Dr Pramod Jaiswal, has been performing coronary angiography, angioplasty and stenting procedures through the radial route in the institute here. Patients have expressed satisfaction with the procedure.

The patients said they were relieved that the procedure was done through an artery of their right hand instead of their groin which rendered them immobile for some time besides resulting in other problems.

The radial artery route procedure was also being preferred by patients who were going in for extensive angioplasty.

Dr Jaiswal and his team recently performed a complex angioplasty and stenting procedure for Jagtar Singh (50) who was suffering from severe angina on minimal exertion and also had high blood pressure and diabetes for many years.

Dr Jaiswal said despite being advised revascularisation, the patient and his family members opted for multi-vessel angioplasty and stenting of all three blocked arteries which were revealed in the angiogram of the patient.

The entire procedure was performed under local anesthesia given at the right wrist. It lasted for about two hours with the patient being able to walk immediately and being discharged after 48 hours of the procedure.

Dr Jaiswal said he had recently performed angioplasty and stenting from radial route at several other patients at the institute, the youngest of them being 31-year-Anil Mittal. He said he had also performed primary angioplasty and stenting which was done during an acute heart attack to directly open the blocked artery from the radial artery route for 45-year-old Ajay Kumar. 


Reflectors to be fixed on vehicles
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 12
The regional office of Punjab National Bank, in a press note issued here stated that during the Traffic Safety Week, light reflectors would be fixed on nearly 2000 vehicles, including rickshaws and rehris. Students of DAV, SSD and MSD schools would also participate in the project. The fire brigade crossing, the ITI chowk, the Bhai Kanhaiya chowk, the Bibiwala chowk, Paras Ram Nagar and crossing on the Badal road have been chosen as the spots where the reflectors will be fixed.

Meanwhile, the Amarjit Kaur Memorial Charitable Trust held a debate and discussion on road accidents and safety measures at Teachers Home today. Teachers, transporters, students, doctors’ officials of National Insurance Company, police officials and residents participated on the programme.

Mr Jagmohan Kaushal, Chairman, Teachers Home, Mr J.K. Mahajan, Senior Divisional Manager, National Insurance Company, Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP (city), Mr Ashok Kumar Goyal, Executive Engineer (roads), Mr Kiranbir Singh, Assistant District Transport Officer, members of the Bathinda Auto Traders Association and some transporters shared their views on the subject.

Speakers said good roads, enforcement of traffic laws and safe vehicles would help prevent deaths in traffic accidents.

A quiz competition on traffic rules was also held.


Police seeks motor cycles from industry
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 12
Implementing the guidelines of the Director-General of Police regarding community policing and strengthening police-public relations, SSP Shiv Kumar today interacted with prominent citizens and industrialists of the district here. He called upon the people to cooperate with and provide correct information about anti-social elements to the police so that the law and order situation could be maintained .

He said insecurity meant non-prosperity and the police was a public-related agency and that was the reason the DGP had stressed community policing. He said prevention was better than cure and for this purpose the police had decided to start round-the-clock patrol on two-wheelers. He said as the department had limited resources, industrialists should come forward to donate motor cycles to the police. He said these motor cycle squads would be equipped with means of modern communication and sophisticated weapons.

He said the police would not interfere in their functioning, but would provide a secure environment for doing their business without any threat. He said making the force more people-friendly and introducing greater transparency in the working of the police would top his agenda. He said various proposals and plans had been chalked out to streamline the functioning as well as to give a new look to the force. He said besides giving top priority to the redressal of grievances of the public, the prime duty of the police would be to control the crime rate and to ensure safety of life and property.

Industrialists assured the SSP that they would cooperate with the police and extend all possible help. They announced to donate five motor cycles to the police.

They also put forward various suggestions for improving the law and order situation in the district.


31 baby girls get Lohri gifts
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, January 12
A state-level Lohri samaroh was organised today by the Social Security, Welfare of Women and Children Department, Punjab, at Gobindpura village.

Mr J.R. Kundal, Principal Secretary, Punjab Social Welfare Department, presided. Mr Som Parkash, Director, Social Security, Women and Child Welfare, Punjab, and Mr Rakesh Verma, Kapurthala DC, were the special guests at the function.

Mr Kundal and Mr Parkash gave gifts to 31 newly-born girls. Cheques for Rs 600 were given to five girls under the Kanya Jagriti Joyti Scheme.

Mr Kundal claimed that so far 69 cases under the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Technique Act had been registered.

Punjab Social Welfare Minister Joginder Singh Mann, who was to be the chief guest at the function, could not make it due to some pre-occupation.


Indo-Pak mushaira on Jan 21 in Patiala

The Mehak Cultural Forum is organising an Indo-Pak mushaira at Central State Library Auditorium on January 21. The Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, would be the chief guest on the occasion. The Deputy Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha, Mr Bir Devinder Singh would be the guest of honour.

The basic objective of the mushaira is to promote cultural harmony and strengthen bonds of friendship between the two countries. The secretary of the forum, Dr Naresh Raj, informed that some of the eminent poets of both countries were participating in the programme.

From India Dr Bashir Badar, Nida Fazli, Bekal Utsahi, Waseem Barielvi, Munwar Rana, Surjit Pattar and Sardar Anjum and from Pakistan Ahmed Nadeem, Kazmi, Iftikhar Arief, Gulnar Afreen, Naqash Naqvi and Muzfar Warsi will participate.


3 of family die in fog-related mishap
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 12
Three scooter-borne members of a family, including a woman, were killed today in a road accident due to fog near Chihru bridge on the GT Road.

The accident occurred early this morning, when three persons on a scooter were hit by a bus from the rear side resulting in the killing of two persons, including a woman on the spot. The scooter driver later succumbed to his injuries in the Civil Hospital here.

The bus dragged the scooter at least 100 metres away from the accident spot. The deceased hailed from Begowal village in Kapurthala and were identified as Budh Ram, his father Das Ram and his mother Shinny. The bodies have been sent for a post-mortem examination. A case has been registered.


Faridkot health camp in February
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 12
Under its Swasthiaya Jagrukta Maah programme, the Central Government has formulated a scheme to provide all types of medical services free of cost for three days in each parliamentary constituency from January 15 to February 15 in the country. Under the plan, special medical camps to check patients for AIDS, TB, Diabetes, cancer and blood pressure will be examined by experts and provided medicines for five days. Laboratory and diagnostic tests, X-rays and ECG would also be conducted.

Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said details had been chalked out for the health mela in the Faridkot parliamentary constituency. The programme would be held at the local Government Guru Gobind Singh Medical and Hospital in the first week of February. As many as 60 medical check-up stalls to be installed would help from 10 am to 5 pm. 


High Court
CJM to probe disappearance case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 12
In just over 10 years after an Amritsar district resident — involved in an argument with the police for demanding money to supply milk — disappeared, the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed Amritsar’s Chief Judicial Magistrate to look into the matter and submit his report.

In his petition against the state of Punjab and other respondents taken up by Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the High Court, the alleged victim’s mother Surinder Kaur of Ajnala had earlier submitted that her son Kulwinder Singh was picked up at 5 a.m. by a police party on October 26, 1993. The party, she had claimed, was headed by then Assistant Sub Inspector of Police Harnam Singh of Lopoke police station.

The petitioner had submitted that on October 12, same year an altercation had taken place between her son and the police after Kulwinder Singh committed the mistake of asking money for supplying milk. The cops, she had added, had clearly told her son that “for such misbehaviour, people can be killed”.

Denying the allegations, the police had, on the other hand, submitted that milk was not taken by the police. They had also denied the allegations of taking Kulwinder Singh in custody.

Politicisation of police

Taking up a petition filed by a Ludhiana-based social organisation seeking directions to the state of Punjab and other respondents “to arrest unabated politicisation of the police organisation”, besides other directions, a Division Bench of the Court issued notice of motion.

In its petition taken up by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma, the organisation — Resurgence India — had also sought directions to insulate the police against “rampant political interference in its functioning, especially transfers, recruitment, promotions and investigations”. This, the petitioner, had asserted was essential to ensure “just and fair treatment to common citizens while dealing with police”.

Directions were also sough for constituting a non-political, independent and objective state security commission as “a statutory body to exercise superintendence over the police in the state”. Further directions to insulate the Director General of Police from political interference and to ensure a stable tenure were also sought.

Counsel for the petitioner, A.P.S. Shergill, had also sought directions for “addressing the issue of ever-increasing harassment and hardships faced by the common man while dealing with the police in the state.

He added that the respondents should explain their conduct in effecting the transfers in the police department under the influence of legislators and political functionaries by picking up officers of their choice in violation of the provisions of the Police Act.


Judicial remand for patwari
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, January 12
Mrs Neelam Arora, CJM, today sent Mr Gurpal Singh, alias Raja, patwari, in judicial custody up to January 23. It is worth mentioning that on the complaint of Mr Pardeep Kanwal, the patwari was arrested by the CIA Staff, Sirhind, for committing a fraud on him, and during interrogation a big scandal of selling Canal Rest House along with 19.5 acres of land belonging to the Irrigation Department to six different persons by preparing fake documents had come to light. A racket of callgirls being run by the patwari had also come to light.


Private contractors hold rally
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 12
The Private Building Labours and Contractors Union organised a rally near Nehru Park to protest against the anti-people policies of the state government here today.

While addressing the gathering, union president Sardara Singh alleged that the state government and the Municipal Corporation had not passed any plans for the construction of houses in the various colonies of the city for the past one year. He added that this had adversely effected the labourers and private contractors.

The members of the union further demanded that the state government should provide the same facilities to the labourers who died during an accident at the construction site as provided to the farmers of the state. 


Undertrial hoodwinks cops, escapes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
An undertrial prisoner escaped after giving the slip to the police party which had gone with him to attend ‘Bhog’ of his brother at Loharka Kalan village here last evening. A case was registered under Sections 223, 224 of the IPC at Rajasansi police station here today on the statements of head constable Gurwinder Singh.

Gurwinder Singh in his complaint stated on the orders of a court, a police party comprising Gurwinder himself, H.C. Pritam Singh and constable Satnam Singh of Majitha police line, took the accused Mohan Singh, a resident of Loharka Kalan facing trial in a case of murder for last one year, to his residence in the village for the ‘Bhog’ of his brother. No one was present in the house when they reached there. They then went to village Gurdwara where the accused hoodwinked them. Later it was found that there was no bhog ceremony.

Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, Senior Superintendent of Police said the Majitha police had not received any reports from the police official concerned. An inquiry would be initiated and action taken against the policemen only after getting a report from the Amritsar police.

In the meanwhile, the Immigration office of the international airport nabbed Rakesh Kumar, of Patra village, Jalandhar allegedly for possessing a fake passport. He was to board a flight for the United Kingdom. The Rajasansi police has registered a case under Sections 419, 420, 468, 471 of the IPC against him.


4 held for keeping fake currency
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 12
The police arrested four persons today and seized fake Indian currency worth Rs 10,000 from them.

The police took into custody Prof Sarchand, secretary general of the Sikh Students Federation (Mehta group) and Jaswant Singh Baaj another leader of the federation, in a raided on the residence of Alam Bir, one of the accused in the Islamabad area here yesterday.

Mr Kultar Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police said they were taken into custody for investigation and not related to the racket and so released later.

Mr Rajinder Singh Mehta, former president of the federation told ‘The Tribune’ that Prof Sarchand was innocent and returning after taking PPSC examination. However, they got late and incidentally decided to spend night in the house of Alam Bir who was known to them.

The arrested persons, include Alam Bir, Kanwaljit Singh, Nagina Singh, Rajinder Singh alias Gurdip Singh. Their fourth accomplice and leader Sucha Singh was absconding.

The SSP said the police found five fake ration cards on the fake names besides 420 intoxicant capsules. He said the accused had hired a room at Tarn Taran road from where they were operating. He said accused had already distributed fake currency of worth Rs 60,000.


4 held on charge of robbery
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 12
The Ferozepore police here today claimed having arrested four persons for allegedly looting Rs 3,68,000/- from the Zira Gate branch of the Punjab National Bank on December 8, 2003.

Mr Harinder Singh Chahal, SSP, said the police raided Amar Singh cold storage on the Asal Zira Road and apprehended four persons — Kulmohan Singh, Balwinder Singh, Mehar Singh and Baljit Singh. Three members escaped are Manjit Singh, Darshan Singh and Gurmel Singh, all residents of Jagraon.

The police recovered .12 bore gun, .315 bore revolver, .12 bore pistol, lot of ammunition besides a Maruti car and a Kinetic Honda scooter from the custody of the robbers.

Mr Chahal said those arrested confessed to a robbery last month and divided the booty among themselves at Rajiwala village.


Violence at Financiers Association meeting
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 12
A meeting called to elect new president of the Financiers Association in a hotel on the Police Complex road was marked by violence here today.

Some members of the association said at a press conference held in another hotel located on the college road this evening that they had specially requested Mr Vijay Nagpal, a former vice-president of the local Municipal Council to act as Returning Officer for the election meeting. As nominations were invited in open at the meeting a member of protest against removing the present president of the association. As no one paid heed to his protest, he came out of the hotel and allegedly started throwing stones at the vehicles parked outside.

Mr Nagpal lodged a complaint with the city police alleging that a brother of the sitting president of the association along with his friends had “attacked” his vehicle outside the hotel and had made a bid on Mr Nagpal’s life. He demanded that a case should be registered against the persons named in the complaint.

SAD, BJP and dissident Congress workers were present at the press conference. They formed an action committee under the chairmanship of, Dr Ram Kumar Goyal, a former BJP MLA to fight the case.


Gang of thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 12
The Rajpura police has busted a gang of five thieves and recovered number of illegal documents, driving licences and three pistols from them.

Disclosing this here today, the DSP, Mr Prit Pal Singh Thind, said that the accused had been identified as Kulwant Singh of Raipura, Rajvinder Singh of Patiala, Jaswinder Singh of Fatehgarh Sahib, Soma Singh of Pola village and Prem Chand of Shahbad Markanda. The police has recovered .315-bore pistol from Prem Chand and Kulwant Singh and .12-bore pistol from Soma Singh.

Besides this, a number of rubber stamps of various District Transport officials of Patiala, Ambala, Sirsa and Kangra have been recovered from Rajvinder Singh. According to the information, even the Indica car, in which these five accused were travelling, was hired by them from Uttaranchal and later they changed the numberplate of the car and other documents and registration.

A case has been registered against the five accused under Sections 389, 402, 468, 471, 420 and 120 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 25, 54, 59 of the Army Act.


Protests planned against education policy
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 12
Unemployed B.Ed youth will hold meetings at every village in the state to highlight the “anti-education” policies of the Punjab government,” according to the Berojgaar Aadhyapak Front here yesterday.

Mr Sukhdarshan Singh, district president of the front, said the unemployed youth of the state would be enrolled as members and meetings against the education policy of the state government would be held. He added that rallies, relay fasts, dharnas to protest against the ‘indirect’ privatisation of schools would be held at the district levels all over the state. He added that the unemployed youth would oppose the Congress party in the coming Lok Sabha elections.

He alleged that vacancies in government schools were not being filled and the government had not fulfilled its promise regarding the starting of the process in this regard.


SD institutions celebrate annual day
Our Correspondent

Barnala, January 12
Mr Mohammad Izhar Alam, Additional Director-General of Police (Vigilance), Punjab, on Saturday gave away prizes to students of SD Sabha institutions at the annual day celebrations at the local SD Senior Secondary School for excelling in academics, sports and extra-curricular activities. Mr Alam was the chief guest at the function. The ADGP congratulated the students who worked hard to win glory.

The general secretary of the local SD Sabha presented the annual report of the sabha highlighting the various achievements of the educational institutions run by the sabha here.

Others present on the occasion included  Dr Narinder Bhargav, SSP, Mr Jora Singh Thind, SDM, Dr Bhim Sain Garg, newly elected Chairman of the local SD Sabha, Mr Prem Chand Aggarwal, Chairman of the local Improvement Trust, and Mr Makhan Sharma, President of the local municipal council.

Students of  SD Sabha educational institutions presented a cultural programme of popular Punjabi folk dances on the occasion.


Declamation contest

Patiala, January 12
Ramanjeet Singh of DAV School, Meena of Rose Gardens School and Priya of Victoria Girls School won laurels in a declamation contest organised by the State Bank of Patiala in collaboration with the District Red Cross Society and the Traffic Police Road Safety Education Cell at Government Girls Senior Secondary School here today.

Mahesh Kumar of Rose Garden School, Prachi Bansal of Green Valley School and Anil Kumar of Rose Garden School bagged first, second and third position, respectively, in the painting competition. OC


Beopar Mandal for octroi abolition
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 12
The Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal has urged the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to make arrangements for abolishing octroi from Punjab at the earliest.

In a press note here, Mr Madan Lal Kapoor, President, Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, said though octroi had been abolished in more than 20 states and union territories of the country, it was still in vogue in Punjab and had become a source of harassment for traders.

He added octroi had been continuing in Punjab despite the fact that Capt Amarinder Singh had promised in party’s manifesto that it would be abolished after the Congress came to power in Punjab.

He pointed out that Akalis also promised to abolish octroi but they did not fulfil the promise.

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