P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SAD contacts BSP to forge poll alliance
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Immediately after the meeting of its top brass here today, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) established contact with senior leaders of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to assess their mood for entering into electoral alliance with the SAD to contest the Lok Sabha elections.

Informed sources told The Tribune that after a green signal from the party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, the SAD General Secretary, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, contacted senior leaders of the BSP from Hoshiarpur district this evening to initiate dialogue regarding electoral tie-up. Mr Bhunder wanted to know from the BSP leaders how many seats their party would like to have in case of an alliance.

On the other hand, there is a dominating opinion in the BSP, especially in Punjab, that the party should have an electoral pact with the regional parties for building a powerful lobby in the Lok Sabha. The BSP and the regional parties jointly could become powerful in the national politics. As regional parties have less stake in the national politics, the BSP could play a greater role with their help in the Centre.

A senior leader of the BSP from Punjab said this viewpoint had been conveyed to Ms Mayawati by the senior leaders of the state unit at yesterday’s meeting of the national body of the BSP. On the other hand, the Congress is desperately trying to have an electoral understanding with the BSP. The Congress wanted an electoral adjustment with the BSP in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and certain other states. The BSP has become a most important party for a while.

Meanwhile, Mr Badal today gave a clear indication that his party wanted to broaden the SAD-BJP alliance by including more political parties eager to defeat the Congress. But there is no other political party except the BSP which could join hands with the SAD-BJP alliance in the state at present. The CPI and the CPM have already become a part of the Congress-led anti-BJP alliance in the Centre. Mr Badal’s party could not have any tie-up with the Akali Dal headed by Mr Ravi Inder Singh. And Mr Badal’s alliance partner, the BJP, has a strong reservation for having an electoral understanding with the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) headed by Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who had recently talked about Akali unity.

As Mr Badal is very sharp in making political calculations, he is aware of the fact that in case the BSP made an electoral adjustment with the Congress in Punjab, it would become a hard task for the SAD-BJP alliance to win the electoral battle against the ruling Congress. The BSP represents a vote bank that has a natural tendency to sway towards the Congress than the SAD. So, it would be an all-out effort of the SAD that either the BSP should shake hands with it (SAD) or it should contest all Lok Sabha elections without entering into an alliance with the Congress. Mr Badal has not revealed yet how many seats would be allocated to the BJP by the SAD.

At today’s meeting, all powers to select candidates for the Lok Sabha constituencies in Punjab were given to Mr Badal. He was also authorised to negotiate with other parties for electoral adjustments. He said the party would start a public contact programme from February 1 to 10 in the state during which failures of the Congress government would be highlighted. The meeting was attended by Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, Mr Harmel Singh Tohra, Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, Mr Gurdev Singh Badal and Bibi Jagir Kaur.

Tohra should contest, says Badal

Mr Parkash Singh Badal today said the party would be happy to make the SGPC chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, candidate from the Patiala Lok Sabha constituency against Mrs Preneet Kaur, wife of the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. Interestingly, Mr Tohra did not attend today’s important meeting of the party. He is to have a one-to-one meeting with Mr Badal tomorrow.

“Mr Tohra will be the strongest party candidate, if he decides to contest from Patiala”, said Mr Badal. However, sources close to Mr Tohra said he would not contest the Lok Sabha elections. His health did not allow him to engage in an exhaustive campaign for the Lok Sabha elections.


Forge Akali unity, Wadala urges Badal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 17
The President of the SAD (Democratic), Mr Kuldip Singh Wadala today urged former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to forge complete Akali unity to defeat the Congress in the coming parliamentary elections.

“The need of the hour is for all Akalis to form an alliance by forgetting their differences to give a befitting reply to the Congress in the parliamentary elections,” Mr Wadala, one-time close confidant of Mr Badal, told reporters here.

Supporting the Akali Dal (Amritsar) chief and MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, who also gave a similar call for unity recently, Mr Wadala said if Mr Badal did not agree, the panth would suffer.


Forensic examination of receipts sought in Bhattal case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
In less than a fortnight after state of Punjab sought directions for deferring framing of charges against Deputy Chief Minister (designate) Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, complainant Balwant Singh Dhillon today claimed that the receipts had to be examined by forensic experts.

The receipts were allegedly submitted by Ms Bhattal regarding the distribution of money out of Chief Minister’s relief fund. The state had claimed that the receipts had been traced.

Relying on newspaper clippings to show that the state was trying to protect her, Mr Dhillon asserted that about 20 days back there was no mention about the receipts. Ms Bhattal had simply claimed that the work had been properly executed. She too had made no mention about submitting the receipts.

In a reply submitted before the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the complainant had added that in any case the receipts could now be used only in defence. He added that Ms Bhattal’s revision petition was not maintainable as the charges had not been framed. The case is expected to be taken up by the court on Monday.

The state, in its application, had earlier sought directions for deferring the framing of charges in the first information report registered in the matter on May 22, 2001, at Ferozepore “during the pendency of another application for further investigation moved by it.”

Going into the background of the case, the state claimed that an application was moved by it on December 24 last year requesting the trial court to defer the framing of charges. Liberty to undertake further investigation in the case was also sought.

This, the state added, was necessitated in view of the fact that a file containing receipts regarding distribution of money out of Chief Minister’s relief fund had been traced. Ms Bhattal was the Chief Minister then. The receipts, the state further added, “were lying in a file inadvertently mixed up with another file”.

The investigation regarding the receipts were to be carried out. If the receipts were found to be genuine, it would have a direct bearing on the result of the case, the state asserted.


Punjab Govt rejects crop insurance scheme
Manoj Kumar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Punjab Government has rejected the new crop insurance scheme announced recently by the Central Government. The state has proposed that the scheme should be amended to cover wheat and paddy, two major crops in the state.

The government has pointed out that due to assured irrigation in the state, farmers face lower risk of fall in crop yields. So, they should not be asked to pay the same premium as paid by the farmers in drought-prone states.

Dr Ajmer Singh, Director, Department of Agriculture, Punjab, said, “We have proposed to cover wheat, paddy and cotton crops under the crop insurance scheme in addition to oilseed and other cereal crops. The scheme should be voluntary for farmers.” Under the scheme, once the state agrees to implement the scheme, all farmers who have taken loans from cooperative or commercial banks, will be compulsorily covered by it.

The Central Government had recently set up the General Crop Insurance Authority as a nodal agency to implement the scheme in collaboration with the state governments, cooperative and commercial banks. Haryana and some other southern states have already announced the implementation of the scheme with effect from the next Khariff crop-2004.

The farmers will have to pay about 1.5 per cent of the sum assured as a premium to avail of the insurance cover. The Central and state governments will provide 50 per cent subsidy in premium for small and marginal farmers. The officials said farmers in rain-fed areas like Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka would gain maximum with the implementation of the scheme.

A senior official in the Department of Agriculture pointed out that the state government had also objected against using block as the unit for giving claims to the farmers. Under the scheme, the farmers will be paid compensation only if the average crop yield in the entire block declined by more than 20 per cent as against the average yield during preceding three normal years.

Dr P.S. Rangi, senior economist at the Department of Economics and Sociology, Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, said, “The crop insurance scheme in its present form is not suitable for the state, since the crop production does not decline significantly even during drought years. The study of data over 30 years reveal that the average yield during drought years had been rather on the higher side due to assured irrigation.”

He said, “The general insurance companies and private players should be be encouraged to offer crop insurance. In addition, the state government can set up a special crop fund by imposing a nominal cess on the procurement of crops by the state agencies and Punjab Mandi Board. Out of this, the farmers can be paid compensation in the case of fall in crop yield due to natural calamity, fire, hailstorms, floods or any other reason.”


Spokesman Editor given last chance to clarify position
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
The Sikh clerics, who held a meeting at Akal Takht secretariat here today, gave yet another chance to Mr Joginder Singh, Editor of the Spokesman, to clarify his position at the earliest. In case he failed to do so before the next meeting, an action as per ‘Sikh maryada’, which may include excommunication from the Sikh panth, would be taken against him.

The Sikh clerics had sought an explanation from Joginder Singh for allegedly denigrating the authority of Akal Takht through his editorials. He was also accused of supporting Canada-based cop-turned-Sikh-scholar Gurbax Singh Kalaafghana, who had been excommunicated from the panth.

The five Sikh high priests who held the meeting at Akal Takht secretariat here included Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar of Takht Damdama Sahib, Giani Tarlochan Singh, acting Jathedar of Takht Kesgarh Sahib and Giani Mal Singh, priest, Golden Temple.

In yet another directive, they directed Mahant Jagmohan Singh Sewa Panthi (Yamunanagar) to undergo ‘tankhah’ (religious punishment for misconduct) for arranging a path of Garud Puran in violation of ‘Sikh traditions’ at his dera. He was also accused of defying the directives of Akal Takht. In the directive, pronounced by Jathedar Vedanti, it was alleged that relatives of the Mahant had used derogatory language against the high priests and tried to denigrate their authority by pushing the doors of the meeting hall. He was directed to dust the shoes of Sikh sangat and listen to ‘kirtan’ for five days at Golden Temple and Takht Patna Sahib.

Akal Takht has asked the SGPC’s Dharm Parchar Committee to reinvestigate the firing incident at ‘Nanaksar Thath’.

The Sikh clerics would also probe into the charges against Mr Sukhwinder Singh Hansra, an NRI who had allegedly got the ‘golak’ of Gurdwara Digsey attached through court orders.

Takht to seek report on politics in US gurdwaras
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
Even as Sikhs in the USA have formed the American Sikh Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee, group politics in gurdwaras abroad has attracted the attention of Sikhs.

Since internal bickerings among the US Sikhs has already created an unsavory situation, Akal Takht is likely to seek a detailed report on this.

The arrest and subsequent release on bail of two activists of the Sikh Youth of America (SYA) Jasjeet Singh and Jai Singh (both sportspersons of yesteryears) has shed light on many aspects of internal politics in Sikh shrines there. The SYA youths, who were arrested on charges of violation of immigration laws, trading in drugs and selling of pirated video CDs have alleged that they were victims of gurdwara politics. The suit regarding the election to the gurdwara parbandhak committee is still pending in a court there. However, the opponent group claimed that the arrest of the SYA youths had nothing to do with the election of the gurdwara.


Admission of 6 MBBS students to DMC terminated
P. P. S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Punjab government on Wednesday ordered the termination of admission of six students of MBBS to Dayanand Medical College (DMC), Ludhiana, and also forwarded to it the names of new students to be admitted with immediate effect, it is reliably learnt.

The order of termination of admission, among others, will also affect the daughter of a senior Punjab bureaucrat. The affected students are, Deepak Garg, Gurnoor Channi, Muskan Dogra, Akaj Jain and Neha Sood. The six new candidates to be admitted to DMC are, Varinder Joshi, Mohit Shukla, Ankit, Richa Garg, Vivek Bansal and Renu Bala.

The order is the outcome of explanations the government had sought on “illegal admissions” from the Chairman of the Selection Committee-cum-Principal, Government Medical College, Amritsar, Dr P S Bedi, the replies received from the Principal, DMC and the enquiry report of the Director, Research and Medical Education.

All this was done following a complaint received by the government from two candidates, Mohit Shukla and Varinder Joshi, who had termed as “illegal” their shifting from Guru Gobind Singh Medical College, Faridkot to Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical Sciences, Amritsar. The third candidate to be shifted from there was Bhawana Sachar. She was admitted to DMC. Their shifting had to done to accommodate NRI students on whose writ the Punjab and Haryana High Court had passed an order that they should be admitted.

The complaint of these two students was that not only their shifting was “illegal” but in view of their high merit they should have been shifted to DMC. Their complaint was looked into by the Director, Research and Medical Education. His inquiry revealed that DMC had admitted three candidates purportedly on the basis of a “waiting list” given by the Chairman of the Selection Committee. The report held that there was no waiting list as such and admission of three candidates on the basis of that so-called waiting list at DMC was “illegal and fraudulent”.

The three candidates were, Paras Sharma, Deepak Garg and Gurnoor Channi. The report revealed that merit-wise, there were seven candidates above Paras Sharma, 55 above Deepak Garg and 89 above Gurnoor Channi. The DRME recommended termination of their admission to MBBS at DMC.

The DRME also reported that in addition to these three candidates, DMC had admitted three other candidates, Muskan Dogra, Aikj Jain and Neha Sood, all wards of faculty members at DMC, out of “faculty quota”. He said, there was no such quota for wards of faculty and seats were required to be filled up only on merit and as per the notification. Thus, these three admissions too were “illegal”. Hence these too should be terminated. The report recommended shifting of Varinder Joshi and Mohit Shukla to DMC. As a result, Rajinder Kaur and Anuj Jain, who were admitted on merit at DMC were to be shifted to Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Medical, Sciences, Amritsar. Accordingly, the Principal DMC was asked to terminate admission of six candidates. The government also asked the authorities concerned to shift the candidates, as per their merit.

In the meantime, one seat had fallen vacant following death of a student. Thus, the government asked the DRME committee to recommend names of seven candidates for shifting to DMC, so that six admissions at DMC could be terminated and 6+1 seats filled up.

The government, went deep into the entire admission and shifting of candidates scandal. The parents of several affected candidates from Patiala were also seeking justice. Despite political and bureaucratic pressures and counter pressure from the parents of the affected students, the government did not “fully agree” with the report of the Chairman of the Selection Committee, who had associated with him representatives of DRME and Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot. It noted that DMC had admitted students as per non-existent “waiting list” given by Dr Bedi that was patently illegal. 


HC quashes school’s plea on post of music teacher
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Punjab and Haryana High Court, in a significant judgement, has turned down a private-aided school’s defence that there was no frozen or aided post available for a music teacher reinstated following a decree passed by a court.

In a ruling, Mr Justice K.S. Garewal also dismissed with Rs 10,000 costs a revision petition filed by Managing Committee of Patiala-based Arya Girls Higher Secondary School for blocking the teacher’s entry in the school as music lecturer.

The teacher, Mr Vijay Kumar Goyal, was terminated by the school Principal in November, 1990. His counsel, Mr Anil Malhotra, had argued that the orders were passed orally. Taking up his suit, a Subordinate Judge at Patiala had ruled that the order was illegal, null and void. The judgement and decree were upheld by Additional District Judge.

The appellate court was of the view that the music teacher’s post was a “freezed” post and the teacher was entitled to protection under the Punjab Privately Managed Recognised Schools Employees (Security of Service) Act, besides other rules.

A regular second appeal filed by the school was, subsequently, dismissed by the High Court in 1997 followed by dismissal of a review application. Special Leave presented before the Supreme Court of India by the school was also dismissed on December 14, 2001.

An objection petition was filed by the school after the teacher launched execution proceedings. The objection petition too was dismissed by a Civil Judge after “categorically holding that Goyal was working on one of the “freezed” (frozen) posts. Dissatisfied with the order, the school filed the revision petition before the High Court for blocking Mr Goyal’s entry.

In their affidavits, the state of Punjab and Patiala’s District Education Officer claimed that there were no part or full time “freezed” vacant posts of music teachers in the state.

After hearing arguments in the case, Mr Justice Garewal observed: “The constant refrain of the school has been that there was no “freezed” or aided post with the school either at the time of Mr Goyal’s appointment or even today.... The past tense of freeze is froze and past participle is frozen. ‘Freezed’ is a classical usage of Miltonian origin, according to Chambers 20th Century dictionary. The school and also the education officers used classical English to describe a post that had been frozen. They should have also shown some concern for the plight of the music teacher who presented his case before the courts to enforce his rights and got his termination declared illegal”.

In his detailed order, the judge added: “Such schools and education officers cannot be permitted to turn around and say that there is no post to which a wrongly terminated teacher can join. Instead of getting appointed against a frozen post after it was thawed, Mr Goyal himself was put in the cold storage”.

The Judge concluded: “The courts have unanimously found that Mr Goyal’s termination was contrary to the relevant Acts and Rules. The decision was upheld right up to the Supreme Court, but the education office working in tandem, denied Mr Goyal the benefits of the decree obtained by him. Indeed the findings of the courts were unanimous that the post of music teacher was one of the freezed post with the school. Resultantly, I find no merit in the petition and the same is dismissed with Rs 10,000 costs”.


Rajanbir joins SAD
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
Mr Rajanbir Singh, a Congress leader, today joined the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). This has been announced by the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Rajanbir Singh contested from the Sultanpur Lodhi Assembly constituency on Congress ticket against the Akali leader, Mrs Upinderjit Kaur, in 1997 and 2001. He lost both times. He is son of late Balwant Singh, who was a Finance Minister in the Barnala government. After the death of his father, Mr Rajanbir Singh had joined the Congress.


Hanspal seeks names for LS nominee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) President, Mr H.S. Hanspal, has directed all district president’s of the party in the state to recommend panels of three names each for their respective Lok Sabha constituencies. Mr Hanspal said candidates for the Lok Sabha elections would be selected from the panels recommended by the district president’s. The names thus recommended would be forwarded to the party high command for necessary action.

He said the recommendations should reach the party headquarters here by January 20.


Govt not serious about transferring powers to panchayats, says Badal
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 17
A former Chief Minister and President of the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, said today that the announcement of the Congress government regarding transfer of powers to panchayats was a political gimmick. Addressing a press conference here, Mr Badal alleged that the Congress had organised a huge political rally at Bathinda on public expenses in the guise of transferring powers to panchayats.

However, till date no notification had been issued for transferring powers to panchayats. In the proposals also, no real powers were being given to panchayats. Only some duties were proposed to be transferred to panchayats. No financial powers were being given to panchayats, without which the entire process of transfer of powers was a hoax, he alleged. Mr Badal alleged that the Congress government was raising the issue of transfer of powers to panchayats in view of the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll.

Asked about the allegation levelled by the Deputy Speaker, Mr Bir Devinder, that a sum of Rs 40 crore was being offered by the BJP to dislodge the Congress government in the state, Mr Badal said the SAD-BJP alliance had never interfered in the internal matters of the Congress. It was only a rift in the Congress that was threatening the government.


No outsiders on Talhan gurdwara panel: villagers
Tribune News Service

Talhan (Jalandhar), January 17
Residents of the village have decided not to include five outside members in the new management committee, which runs the affairs of Gurdwara Shahid Baba Nihal Singh.

The five members are not residents of the village. According to the new formula the villagers have suggested that there should be no outsider in the committee and that each “patti” of the village should nominate one or two members to the committee, the elections of which were deferred this time keeping in view the new decision. The nomination of the new members was likely to be made by residents on Monday.

The existing structure of the committee has a provision for 18 members (five of which are from nearby areas), while two members are from the Dalit community. The village has six to seven “pattis”. “Each “patti” will send one or two members as per its population, while Dalits would nominate two members.


SSP’s assurance to ex-cops on discharge cards
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 17
Mr Kultar Singh, Senior Superintendent of Police, assured the retired policemen to follow up on the requests of issuing of discharge cards on the pattern of Army retirees. He was speaking on the occasion of Police Elders Day in the Police Lines here today.

He said he would write to the Director-General of Police, Mr A.A. Siddique, about the demand made by the Punjab Police Pensioners Welfare Association. He said he could not take any decision individually and the matter would be discussed with the DGP.

He asked station house officers (SHOs) and other police officials to involve retired policemen in their efforts to check snatching incidents, thefts and drug menace.

He also honoured some retired policemen on the occasion.


Govt warned against giving more quota
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
The local unit of the General Category Welfare Federation, Punjab, has warned the state government that if it implements the 85th amendment to the Constitution for facilitating more quota to employees of the reserved categories, it will have to face the consequences in the next Lok Sabha elections.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Tara Singh Brar, press secretary of the federation, said if the 85th amendment was implemented, all top posts of state government departments would be occupied by Scheduled Caste employees while general category employees would find all channels of promotion closed forever.


SGPC ex-secy may face axe
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 17
The forthcoming SGPC executive meeting scheduled to be held on January 19 at Anandpur Sahib is likely to terminate the services of Mr Harbeant Singh, suspended secretary of the SGPC. However, Mr Harbeant Singh had reportedly approached the Shiromani Akali Dal President through former SGPC chief Kirpal Singh Badungar in this regard.

He was placed under suspension following reports that he had got the job in the SGPC on the basis of a fake certificate.


Patiala Heritage Fest from Feb 14
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 17
The Patiala Heritage Festival will be organised at Patiala from February 14 to 22. According to a press statement this was decided in a high-level meeting presided over by Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, here today.

The festival will include a golf tournament, fashion show, painting exhibition and cultural programme. A cricket match, in which many Indian and Pakistani players are expected to play, is also scheduled.


Cold claims one life
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 17
One person died from cold in the city today.

A local NGO said the deceased was a destitute and had been living on a city road. Volunteers of the NGO cremated the body.


Surinder Badal exempted from court appearance
Our Correspondent

Ropar, January 17
The counsel for former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today moved three applications in the court of Special Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel. In one of the application exemption from personal appearance was sought for Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal on health grounds.

Since the prosecution did not oppose the application, exemption from personal appearance was granted to Mrs Badal. Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Mr Sukhbir Badal were present in the court today while Mrs Surinder Kaur Badal remained absent on health grounds.

In the second application the counsel for Badals urged the dropping of proceedings in the corruption case filed against him by the Punjab Vigilance. They challenged the territorial jurisdiction of the special court, Ropar, maintaining that proper sanction had not been taken before prosecuting Mr Parkash Singh Badal and Sukhbir Badal. They alleged malafide intention on the part of the government and main complainant in the case.

The counsel maintained that the main complainant in the case was a Congressman and had been appointed as Director, Punjab Land Development and Reclamation Corporation. He filed the complaint just two days after his appointment.

Challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the special court, Ropar, they maintained that under Section 4 of the Prevention of Corruption Act only the Special Judge of the area in which the crime was committed was competent to hear the case. The Vigilance had alleged that Mr Badal used his office to commit the crime. Since the office of the CM was in Chandigarh only the Special Judge, Chandigarh, was competent to hear the case. They also challenged the notification of the Governor empowering the special court to try all Vigilance cases registered at their Mohali police station on the ground that it has not been endorsed by the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

The Special Judge directed the prosecution to file a reply on the application moved by the counsel for the Badals by January 29 and fixed January 31 as the next date for hearing.

In another application moved today the counsel alleged that many documents had not been provided to them by the Vigilance. The judge ordered that the said documents be provided to the counsel of the Badals.

Mr Badal was accompanied by former SGPC president Kirpal Singh Badungar, Prem Singh Chandumajra and Mr Tara Singh Ladal, former minister.


Anticipatory bail plea of PSEB engineer dismissed
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 17
The Sessions Judge, Mr A.N Jindal, today dismissed the anticipatory bail application of an Assistant Executive Engineer of the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), who was found tampering with official records.

Gurvinder Singh Pannu, Assistant Executive Engineer, at Ghamrauda Subdivision, in connivance with Gurvinder Singh Dhillon, a resident of Sanaur, near here, allegedly made some major alterations in the official records of the PSEB. The fraudulent entries made in various ledgers pertained to the change in the name of a power supply connection which stood in the name of Mr Dhillon’s father, Mr Gurbax Singh, but which later on was illegally transferred in G.S. Dhillon’s name.

The board deputed an officer of the rank of the Superintending Engineer to hold an inquiry into the charge of tampering against the Gurvinder Singh Pannu. The inquiry report revealed that the engineer was guilty and subsequently a case was registered against both G.S. Pannu and G.S. Dhillon. At the time of tampering with documents, Dhillon was posted as SDO.

After listening to arguments, the Sessions Judge dismissed the anticipatory applications of both G.S. Dhillon and G.S. Pannu.



Police remand for Bulbul Mehta

Patiala, January 17
Delhi-based property dealer and one of the prime accused in the case pertaining to illegal human trafficking Bulbul Mehta was remanded in police custody till January 20 by Mr P.S Dhanoa, Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, here today. The court ordered that a thorough medical examination of Mehta be conducted before he was made to join investigations. Mehta’s counsel H.V. Rai has been allowed by the court to meet his client twice a day in the Sadar police station till January 20.

The Public Prosecutor, Mr B.S. Dhami, had pleaded for a 20-day police remand by arguing that the police had yet to recover the passports of the other accused. However, the court denied the prosecution’s plea for a 20-day remand and instead sent Mehta to police custody till January 20.— OC


Two sentenced to life imprisonment

Moga, January 17
Balwinder Singh and his son Jasbir Singh of Lohara village were today sentenced to life imprisonment for murdering Jaswant Singh of the same village in January, 2002, by the court of Additional Sessions Judge Jagmohan Singh.

The judge, however, acquitted Balwinder’s second son Surinder Singh in the case for want of evidence against him.

The three had gunned down Jaswant Singh to avenge the marriage of Balwinder’s daughter Inderjit Kaur with the victim’s son, Resham Singh ,without the consent of Balwinder’s family. — UNI 


Inspector held for firing into air
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 17
Two brothers, one of them a Punjab police Inspector, were arrested for firing into the air during a marriage party at a local hotel late last night.

According to the police, Inspector Manmeet Singh Dhillon, who is posted at Ludhiana along with his brother Vikramjit Singh of Chandigarh reached a local hotel last night to attend a marriage ceremony. After some time, a group of youths allegedly entered into a brawl with Vikramjit Singh over some issue. Provoked over the happenings, Manmeet allegedly fired into the air, causing terror among those attending the party.

The police reached the hotel and arrested the duo. A case under Section 336 of the IPC has been registered. Both of them were later released on bail. Meanwhile, Manmeet Singh said he had to fire into the air in self-defence as the group of youths was beating up his brother.

Meanwhile, in another incident, Rajbir Singh, a student of the local Apeejay College of Fine Arts, was attacked by a group of students of the same college with sharp-edged weapons, causing serious injuries to him. Rajbir said at the local Civil Hospital that a group of students, led by Jaspreet Singh, attacked him while he was sitting in the college canteen. He said he had heated arguments with Jaspreet over some issue on Lohri and the attack was planned to take revenge.


Yet another ‘kabootari’ case
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 17
Another kabootari case has been registered here against a woman of Ambala.

Mr Balwant Singh, registered medical practitioner of Bazidpur Bhoma village, here had lodged a complaint with the police alleging that Ritu, of Ekta Colony, Ambala had taken Rs 1.20 lakh from him on October 15,2002, and promised to send him abroad but did not keep the promise. Moreover, she refused to refund the amount.

Ritu was arrested today under Section 406, IPC. She was remanded in police custody for three days.


2 hawala agents held
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 17
The police has arrested two hawala agents on the charge of laundering money for the gangsters, who had been recently arrested in connection with a fake currency racket.

The district police chief, Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, in a press note issued here today, said following the arrest of fake currency racket kingpin Jagtar Singh and 17 others, it was found that some hawala agents were involved in the case. They had received genuine currency from the gang members on account of price for the fake currency. This currency was routed to Pakistan through hawala transactions.

The arrested hawala agents have been identified as Gurdev Singh of Johl village and Bal Krishan of Sekhan mohalla, Nurmahal. Gurdev Singh revealed that he had been working for a transport company in Dubai since 1994 and had returned from there about a year back. After his return, he started working as a hawala agent. He had received Rs 4 lakh from Jagtar in the first such deal.

The police also seized fake currency worth Rs 30,000 from him, while fake currency notes worth Rs 4,500 were seized from Bal Krishan.


Another undertrial escapes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 17
Another undertrial escaped from the police custody last evening this time from the court complex.

A case was registered against constable Kisan Kumar under Sections 223 and 224 of the IPC at the Civil Lines, police station here today.

The accused, Suraj, a resident of the Bhadarkali area, was caught by the police on the charges of murder, theft and looting. He was brought to the court of the District and Additional Judge, only with four other accused, for where he managed to escape.

Earlier, an undertrial, Mohan Singh, a resident of Loharka Kalan, had escaped from the police custody on January 11. Mohan Singh was facing a trial in a murder case.


Statements of prisoners recorded in graft case
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 17
The Vigilance Bureau (VB) recorded the statements of some prisoners at the local Central Jail here today. These prisoners had been alleging that the jail hospital staff were charging bribe, ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 30,000 to refer a prisoner to the local Civil Hospital for better medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Dheeraj Kumar, a police personnel of the jail, who was caught red-handed while accepting a bribe of Rs 3,000 on behalf of the Medical Officer of the jail, Dr David, from the relative of an undertrial, was sent in judicial custody by a local court here today.

The Vigilance Bureau, in its bid to put up a strong case against Dr David, who has been absconding since Thursday, recorded statements of undertrials and convicts at the Central Jail. The prisoners reportedly reiterated their allegations that Dr David and his accomplices used to demand bribe for referring them to the Civil Hospital.


2 arrested for drug trafficking
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 17
Manvinder Singh of Nanak Nagri here and Jaswinder Singh of Rupana village, near Malout, were nabbed by the Sriganganagar police while they were returning to Abohar after collecting smack from a Sadulshehar-based drug trafficker, sources said.

Youths from Abohar, Fazilka and Malout sub-divisions had been frequenting Sadulshehar to purchase smack and other contrabands.

The police also seized 200 pouches of liquor that were being taken in car. The vehicle was intercepted on the Malout-Sriganganagar bypass. Occupants of the car abandoned the car and escaped.

Nanko Bai, a resident of Seed Farm Colony here, was arrested under the NDPS Act for smuggling 6 kg poppy husk. She was remanded in judicial custody by a court here.


Government to restore 95 pc grant-in-aid to colleges
Amarjit Thind
Tribune News Service

Bondli (Samrala), January 17
Punjab Higher Education Minister Harnam Dass Johar today announced that the state government would restore 95 grant-in-aid to colleges, besides providing better facilities for the promotion of higher education in over 200 colleges in Punjab. To improve the standard of education in colleges, more vocational subjects are being introduced and vacant posts of college lecturers will be filled shortly, he said.

The minister was addressing a function organised by students, teachers and the Alumni Association of Malwa College, Bondli, here today. Mr Kamaljit Rattan, an alumnus and the Political Adviser to the British High Commission, New Delhi, was the guest of honour. He was also handed over two files, containing his handwritten notes from the 1980s when he was the student activities coordinator, by his the then teacher in charge.

Referring to the contribution of privately managed colleges towards providing quality education in the state, Mr Johar said the government was fully aware of their problems and he had taken up their cause by getting the Cabinet to endorse restoring the 95 per cent grant-in-aid.

The minister asserted that the presence of teachers during duty hours in the colleges should be strictly ensured, for which he was making frequent visits to colleges in all parts of the state.He said at least 12 colleges had been inspected by him. He said proper maintenance and utilisation of laboratories, playgrounds and other infrastructure available in colleges would also be ensured.

The Higher Education Minister said to provide information to students regarding facilities for higher education in universities of different countries, the Secretary, Higher Education, had been asked to get relevant data compiled.

Mr Johar said with the induction of information technology on a large scale at all levels, the world had shrunken to a small village and enormous opportunities for education and employment had become available for students. He said to avail of these opportunities, the standard of education had to be raised to international standards, so that Indian students could compete with those from other countries.

He stated that the Department of Higher Education would also organise seminars featuring representatives of foreign universities at Chandigarh and Ludhiana.

Mr Johar urged students to lay more stress on sports and other co-curricular activities to improve their all-round personality. He also appealed to them to be wary of disruptive elements who were out to mislead them for political reasons and trying to spoil the education environment in colleges.

Mr Johar announced a grant of Rs 1 lakh for the college building and Rs 50,000 for the promotion of sports in the college.

Mr Amrik Singh, MLA, Samrala, demanded the release of more funds for the development of the area.

Welcoming the chief guest, Mr Parminder Singh Benipal, Principal of the college, highlighted various achievements of the institution in different fields.

Others present on the occasion included Mrs Johar, Mr Ishar Singh Meharban, a former minister, and Mr Shivdev Singh, president, managing committee of the college.


Punjabi University wins trophy in youth fest
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 17
Punjabi University has won overall first runner-up trophy and overall dance trophy in the North Zone Inter-Varsity Youth Festival. The festival was organised by Association of Indian Universities (AIU) at Kurukshetra University.

As many as 20 universities of the northern region, including Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana, Himachal, Uttaranchal and Delhi, participated in the festival. Punjabi University bagged first prize in folk dance (bhangra), group song (Indian), classical dance, rangoli and poster making. In addition to this, the university team was placed second in classical vocal, group song western, mime, mimicry and clay modelling.

In ghazal, skit and debate contest the varsity bagged third position. The Director Youth Welfare, Dr Sunita Dhir, said that on the basis of the performance in the North Zone festival, ten teams of Punjabi University comprising nearly 35 students would contest in National Youth Festival being organised by AIU at Gwalior in the first week of February. 


300 students get degrees
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 17
The state government is contemplating changes in education policies to provide international-level education to students. This was stated by Prof Darbari Lal, Minister of State for Education at the annual convocation of the Sarup Rani Government College for Girls here today.

As many as 300 graduate and postgraduate students were given degrees.

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