P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Rethink on Cabinet expansion
P.P.S. Gill

Chandigarh, January 18
There is rethinking in the Congress on the need for tinkering with the present Council of Ministers in Punjab.

Sources say the re-designation of Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal as Deputy Chief Minister may just be a formality but expansion of the council of ministers may be viewed as an infringement of the new law that makes the Anti-Defection Act more stringent and restricts the size of the Council of Ministers at the Centre and in the states.

Punjab will have to prune its existing ministry in conformity with the new rules and Chief Minister Amarinder Singh, therefore, may not have the other option except to reshuffle the existing ministers.

A debate is raging within the Congress whether or not the dissidents should be adjusted, howsoever temporarily, through an expansion of the ministry. There is apprehension whether the Governor will accept the advice of the Chief Minister in case he forwards a list of new ministers to Raj Bhavan or can the Governor legally refuse to accept the advice or will he ask the Chief Minister to re-consider the same in view of the new Act.

Another expression in Congress circles is on the myriad facets of Punjab’s economic growth, development and its fragile financial health. Can the state exchequer bear the additional weight of an expanded council of ministers, when it can hardly support any development projects? Moreover, how long will the Chief Minister keep yielding ground to buy political peace with the dissidents? This is time to take positive political, financial and constitutional steps in view of the Lok Sabha elections ahead.

Capt Amarinder Singh is scheduled to go on Tuesday to New Delhi where Ms Bhattal and dissidents are camping once again, demanding a slice of the political pie. Anxiety for expansion of the ministry on the part of Ms Bhattal is understandable as she alone has benefited, much to the consternation of her dissident associates.

The Chief Minister, sources say, had also been conveyed that it was not the time for any in-house competitive politics but for timing political decisions correctly that will accelerate development and also yield electoral dividends.

In the fast-changing political scenario the Punjab Congress has already lost much time and ground in housekeeping and has unwittingly favoured the opposition.


Vajpayee, Advani to address rallies in state
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 18
The Prime Minister, Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, and the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr L.K. Advani, will address party rallies at three places in Punjab in February, for which a detailed programme was being worked out by the state BJP leadership.

Addressing a press conference here today, the state BJP chief, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, revealed that Mr Vajpayee and Mr Advani would address political rallies at Gurdaspur, Amritsar and Hoshiarpur in February even as they were in the process of giving final touches to the detailed programme in this regard.

Keeping in view, the holding of early Lok Sabha elections, the high command had instructed the state unit to gear up the cadre by holding rallies, he said adding, “ The central leaders, during the recently concluded national executive meeting at Hyderabad had asked me to chalk about a detailed programme for holding big rallies to be addressed by the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister along with their senior Cabinet colleagues.”

He further said a committee of senior party leaders headed by former minister Master Mohan Lal was assigned to prepare poll manifesto for the Lok Sabha elections. The committee would submit its recommendations by the first week of February, he said, adding that non-performance of the Congress government in the state would be highlighted during the poll campaign.

Regarding reported controversy over sharing of seats with its alliance partner SAD (Badal), he said there were no such differences even as winnability was the main criteria for seat adjustments. “Besides, we are concentrating mainly on three parliamentary seats — Gurdaspur, Hoshiarpur and Amritsar — where election meetings are being held in all the 27 Assembly segments by the party to gear up the cadre,” he said.


Punjab yet to form dist plan panels
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
The initiation of process of devolution of powers on panchayati raj institutions with great fanfare in the presence of Congress President Sonia Gandhi in Bathinda on January 15 notwithstanding, the Punjab Government is yet to notify the constitution of district planning committees for consolidation of plans prepared by panchayats and municipalities.

In November last year, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had given a direction to the state government to notify the constitution of such committees within three months. The directions followed a writ petition preferred by the Punjab Panchayat Union challenging the constitution of District Planning and Development Boards in violation of Article 243 ZD of the Constitution.

The 74th Amendment to the Constitution had provided Article 243ZD necessitating the composition of these committees with a provision that not less than four-fifth of their total members shall be from among the elected members of panchayats and municipalities of the district concerned.

Though the Punjab Government had notified the constitution of District Planning and Development Boards on July 4, 2002, it was challenged on the plea that instead of elected members filling four-fifth of the total strength of the Boards, the state took the power of nominating six non-official members, including ex-servicemen, on the recommendation of the district administration concerned.

Since the functions assigned to the District Planning and Development Boards are similar to the district planning committees, the petitioners wanted that instead of boards, the planning committees be constituted in accordance with the constitutional provisions. Even the All-India Convention of Panchayat Adhyakshas had demanded that district planning committees be constituted throughout the country to decentralise planning.

The arguments given by the Punjab Panchayat Union were that by nominating non-official members, the state government and the district administration were accommodating favourites of the ruling party, thus denying these committees the status of being truly representative.

The Punjab Government, however, issued a notification saying that a cabinet minister and a minister of state would be Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively, of every District Planning and Development Board.

Though no objections were raised on the nomination of all Lok Sabha and State Assembly members of the constituency concerned, besides the Chairman of Zila Parishad, the union felt aggrieved over the nomination of six non-official members to be appointed by the state government on the recommendation of the district administration. Another objection was the nomination of a Sarpanch or panchayat samiti member from each subdivision on the recommendation of the district administration.

The union wanted that the July 4 notification of the District Planning and Development Boards be set aside and new district planning committees be notified.


Border villagers oppose move to reclaim land
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 18
Refugee families from Pakistan as well as some locals who survived the Partition holocaust face the stark prospect of being homeless once again.

Thousands of residents living along the Ravi river spread over in 43 villages were allegedly served notices by the Forest Department to vacate more than 20,000 acres of land. Villagers claim that the land along the Ravi had turned fertile mainly due to their relentless toil. Affected villagers today sat on a dharna outside the office of the SDM Ajnala in protest against the government move led by the SAD (Amritsar).

Recalling the poignant moments in their lives, Kehal Singh, an octogenarian of Burj village says. "After the Partition, villagers in this border tract tried to till the inhabitable land. The land was deeply uneven with deep gorges, masshes and pebble ridden besides being sandy and dry. Despite several hardships of two wars with Pakistan (1965, 1971), three floods along the Ravi river (1955, 1988, 1993) militancy in Punjab (1984-96) and the Kargil conflict in 1999 and the Indo-Pakistan stand off (2001-03), residents of these villages have stood up to help the defence of the country.

Despite the fact that they have been ignored by the political masters of the region for any development.

“Lal Singh was blown up by a land mine while his father Puran Singh’s arm and a leg were blown in powerful explosion,” recalls Rattan Singh of Buri village whose son also became disabled in the explosion.

Chaan Singh of Ghoga village say a similar move was initiated some 15 years ago but later it was not pursued.

Mr Baldev Singh vice-president the SAD (A), stated that villagers here had been instrumental in unearthing a “secret tunnel” from Pakistan side in Khoneywal village in the Ramdass area.

He said even as the Forest Department was trying to reclaim this land, the security rules here forbid the growth of any plantation that was beyond a height of 2.5 feet. Villagers have urged the government to give them the land at reserved government rates which they so lovingly nurtured. However, a Forest Department official refused to give his comments on the telephone.


Verma forwards BJP complaint to varsity
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
State Governor and Punjabi University Chancellor Justice O.P. Verma (retd.) has forwarded the complaint submitted by State Bharatiya Janata Party leader Harjit Singh Grewal against the Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai to the university for its comments.

The varsity has constituted a five-member committee, comprising the Dean, Academics, the Dean, Colleges, the Registrar, Director, Public Relations and Professor In charge, Finance, to submit a reply to the complaint. The reply is expected to be sent to the Chancellor within a few days.

The complaint has mainly hit out at the style of functioning of the Vice-Chancellor besides highlighting “illegal” steps taken by him during his tenure. The Vice-Chancellor is accused of mishandling the student agitation, filling up two posts of SDE on deputation “illegally” and also accused of financial irregularities.

The complaint also stresses on the manner in which all powers were withdrawn from the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Dr R.N. Pal and the fact that the Pro Vice-Chancellor is not allowed to sit in selection committee meetings. It has also claimed that senior teacher, Dr K.S. Sidhu, was removed from the post of Registrar and then suspended on flimsy grounds. It claims that the Vice-Chancellor has also resorted to illegal appointments giving the example of senior teachers being appointed as professor in charges’ of various departments. It states that recently another post of Director, Adviser, was also created in the Sports Department.

Sources said the varsity received the complaint recently following which a committee was constituted to draft a reply. The reply is expected to be sent back within a few days.

The varsity Director, Public Relations, when questioned on the matter, said the varsity had received the complaint submitted by the BJP leader for comments. He claimed that the complaint was based on flimsy grounds but the varsity had decided to provide all information regarding the actual picture on the subjects referred to in the complaint.

The varsity spokesman alleged that this was the second attempt by the BJP to politicise the atmosphere on the campus. He said the BJP President had earlier addressed a press conference at the residence of a senior varsity functionary. He said the complaint by Mr Grewal, who was in no way concerned with varsity affairs, seemed to be in league with the earlier attempt by the BJP to spoil the atmosphere on the campus. Dr Sandhu said it was strange that the BJP was acting in this manner now when it had remained a mute witness to the alleged “illegal” acts of former Vice-Chancellor Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia. He said the BJP, which was in power in the state and its representative was also the Higher Education Minister, had then preferred to keep quiet.

The varsity spokesman also claimed that many of the points in the complaint was not based on facts, claiming that the varsity had not established any post of Director, Adviser to the Executive Engineer as claimed in the complaint.


Bul Bul refuses to turn approver
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
Property dealer Bul Bul Mehta, who is accused of being involved in human trafficking case registered against pop singer Daler Mehndi, his brother Shamsher and others, was today “advised” by the Patiala police to turn approver in the case.

Bul Bul Mehta, who is in police custody in the case after he surrendered in a local court, was questioned intensively in two sessions in the morning and evening. His lawyer H.V. Rai was present on both occasions as per the directive of the court.

According to Mr Rai, the accused was advised by the police to turn approver in the case. Mr Rai, however, said Bul Bul had rejected the offer claiming that he was not involved in the case in any manner so the question of his turning approver did not arise.

The lawyer said Bul Bul had been questioned by senior police officers as well as the Station House Officer of the Sadar Police Station. He will now be presented in court on January 20 after his police remand ends.


Heavy police security to avoid clash among migrants
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 18
A heavy posse of police was deployed at Nehru Park here today to avert a clash between two groups of migrants. Police personnel were withdrawn from all nakas and crossings inside and outside the sub divisional town and were deployed around the park located in the heart of the walled city. Each corner and gate of the park was guarded by armed and lathi wielding policemen. SHO of the city police station himself monitored the situation.

Hundreds of migrants from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Orissa who are settled here are divided over leading the community and have formed rival groups of labour organisations.

A group led by a railway employee had announced that a convention of different unions would be held at Nehru Park today. He listed more than a dozen unions claiming their support to form a joint front. He later informed a court here that leader of the rival organisation of migrants had threatened him of dire consequences if he held the convention.

The other group led by a RMP got permission from the SDM for holding the meeting today at Nehru Park. The meeting was originally sponsored by Bhatta (brick kiln) and Allied Mazdoor Union. Only members of Technical Services Union of the PSEB, Rickshaw Pullers Welfare Union, Khet Mazdoor Sabha and Punjab Kisan Sabha attended the meeting under tight security. The rival group members who marched to the park were intercepted by their advisers on the way and agreed to hold separate meeting in their office room.

Those who assembled in Nehru Park resolved to cooperate with each other in their struggle for pressing for the genuine and long pending demands like waving of loans of mazdoors, providing free education to their wards, construction of public toilets in colonies and regular distribution of essential commodities through fair price shops. They resolved to support the TSU in blocking road traffic from 12 noon to 2 pm here on Tuesday as part of struggle against the privatisation of the PSEB.


One more rice milling scam detected
Our Correspondent

Abohar, January 18
One more scam allegedly involving rice mill of Guruharsahai which had been supplied paddy for milling by Punsup had recently come to light, according to sources. It is learnt that an employee of a rice mill at Guruharsahai, owned by a senior functionary of the ruling party in Ferozepore Cantonment, expressed his inability to take charge of the Punsup paddy stock lying at the mill.

Though officials evaded queries, insiders indicated that at least 25,000 bags of paddy were allegedly found missing. The number may be much more. According to officials, the bags in question were lying with another government agency but they could not explain the reason behind this. Inquiries revealed that more than 15 complaints of theft in Punsup godowns in the district had been received at different police stations. Certain employees who had been booked by the police have managed to get their suspension revoked courtesy their political links.

Scams have become a common occurrence ever since Punsup entered the wheat and paddy markets of the state since its formation in 1974. A probe into the over Rs 99 lakh scam detected in January last year is yet to reach any conclusion. Revenue officials conducted a survey of Pashupati Rice Mills at Kalatibba village near here in January to verify whether thousands of bags of paddy purchased by the Punsup from Abohar, Malout and Ferozepore subdivisions were there. They were reportedly told by the watchman on duty that truckloads of paddy bags were allegedly taken to another rice mills at Guruharsahai for milling as the Punjab State Electricity Board had disconnected supply to the Pashupati Mills. Documents revealed that the owners of the Guruharsahai Mills had taken the Pashupati Mills on contract from its promoters as the latter faced financial constraints and could not complete the project. Even the required load of power was not used. The contractors had claimed that they had been doing milling by using generator but they failed to show the generator of the suitable capacity.

The police later seized few hundred bags of paddy stacked at the Guruharsahai Mills without proper authorisation.


Cong rally waste of public money, say Dalits
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
Mr Kiranjit Singh, state president, Dalit Sena, today said that the rally organised by Congress government here on January 15 in connection with the formal initiation of empowerment of panchayats was to waste public money and a move to eradicate reservation in recruitment of employees by the panchayats.

In a press release here today, he alleged that the state government was trying to end reservation in recruitment of employees by promoting contract and privatisation system in the state. He added that by empowering panchayats to recruit employees, the Scheduled Castes would be deprived of their constitutional rights, as the panchayats would not follow the reservation policy in that matter.

He alleged that state government’s rally organised on January 15 was used by the Congress to glorify itself.


D.S. Cheema named SAD Secy
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
Dr Daljit Singh Cheema was today appointed Secretary of the SAD. The Political Affairs Committee, which approved his appointment at its meeting last evening also decided to set up a media office at Jalandhar.

SAD Secretary-General Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa said Dr Cheema would also be the party’s principal media coordinator during the forthcoming parliamentary elections.


Lal Singh award for Harcharan Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 18
The Giani Lal Singh Memorial Trust today honoured noted theatre personality Harcharan Singh with this year’s award in the name of the late scholar at a function organised at the Language Department here.

The function, which was attended by a number of prominent academicians, saw former Vice-Chancellor, Dr S.S. Johal, urging universities in Punjab to honour scholars and eminent personalities with degrees of D Litt. Dr Johal said during his tenure at Vice-Chancellor he had honoured Sobha Singh and Mother Teresa with such degrees.

Guru Nanak Dev University Vice-Chancellor Dr S.P. Singh while speaking on the occasion, said Giani Lal Singh had been a multi-faceted personality who had flayed a crucial role in the formation of the Punjabi Language Act.

Noted theatre personality Harcharan Singh mentioned his 61-year-old association with Giani Lal Singh and mentioned that the late scholar had touched on almost all spheres of activity during his life. Earlier former Punjabi University Professor - Daljit Singh read the proclamation of the award given to Harcharan Singh. Noted writer Dalip Kaur Tiwana welcomed all those present.


Bill to give more teeth to cooperative societies
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 18
In order to make cooperative societies self-sufficient in all respects, the Punjab Government is set to bring Self-reliant Cooperative Societies Bill-2003, in the coming budget session of the Vidhan Sabha.

By virtue of this Bill turning into an Act, the Congress government would be fulfilling one of its election promises wherein it was promised that the cooperative societies would be freed from the tangle of ‘babudom’.

Talking to TNS, Mr A.R. Talwar, Registrar, Cooperative Societies, said the Bill, which already stood approved by the Cabinet had been sent to the Department of Legislative Affairs for vetting so as to give a final shape to the intentions of the government. Following its approval in the Vidhan Sabha, the Act will be forwarded to the Governor for a final consent, he said.

Mr Talwar said the Bill was formulated with a view to giving autonomy to the cooperative societies, specially those where the state government does not put in its share in the capital or loans etc. The proposed Bill has no provision for government participation in the management of societies. So much so that the government will not interfere in matters pertaining to resolving disputes or holding elections.

According to the Bill, the powers to remove Directors of Societies or appoint administrators will be vested with the governing body of the societies. They will also be required to hold the elections before the due date. The constitution of the arbitration council to resolve disputes has also been left to the societies, said Mr Talwar.

The idea of making these societies more autonomous was borrowed from the Brahm Prakash Committee. It had mooted a similar strategy at the central level, and the same was incorporated in the election manifesto of the Congress government when it contested the Assembly elections in 2001. “The passage of this Bill by the Vidhan Sabha will make these cooperative societies true business enterprises, which will be member-driven and the members will eventually call the shots,'' he said. It is a major deviation from the existing Act of 1961, wherein the government could interfere at all levels.

In yet another development, the government has decided to do away with Sections 67-A of the existing Act, wherein defaulters, who do not repay the loans are being arrested by the department officials concerned. But as per the proposed amendment in the Act, the officials — Deputy Registrars and Assistant Registrars of these societies — will no longer have the powers to arrest the defaulters. The same stands vetted by the legal experts also.

However, the government continues to remain undecided whether the passage of this amendment has to be through an ordinance or by the virtue of its passage in the Vidhan Sabha during the coming budget session. Though the Capt Amarinder Singh Government had taken a decision in principle to drop this Section from the Act in the interest of the farmers, a notification in this regard is yet to be issued, sources add.

Mr Talwar, attributed the delay to the department of Legislative Affairs having more pressing matters at hand such as those relating to amendments in the Taxation Act.


A tribute to Giani Gurmukh Singh

The Giani Gurmukh Singh Musafir Trust will celebrate his 105th birth anniversary on January 19 at Chandigarh’s Musafir Bhavan.

GIANI Gurmukh Singh Musafir entered politics after his sensitive poetic soul had reacted strongly against the imperialist violence at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 and at Nankana Sahib in 1921.

Born on January 15, 1899, at Adhwal village in Campbellpore district (now in Pakistan) to a farming father, Musafir was educated and trained to be a teacher. At 19, he was working in the school where master Tara Singh — who later became a great Sikh leader — was the Headmaster. Four years of teaching followed by whole-hearted commitment to the cause of the people, beginning with the Gurdwara Reform Movement and culminating in Independence of the country in 1947 — that was Musafir in his prime. In 1930 he became the Jathedar of Akal Takht. In 1942 he came into contact with Pandit Nehru.

Musafir’s life story, from 1921 to 1947, could very easily be read as the history of the struggle for Independence.

The year 1947-48 saw this man of the masses incessantly active in rehabilitating thousands of refugees from Pakistan. For the next 13 years he was the Punjab Congress President and an elected member of the executive committee of the AICC. He became a member of the Constituent Assembly in 1946. For three terms, beginning in 1952, he remained a member of the Lok Sabha representing Amritsar. He resigned in 1966 to head the government of the newly created state of Punjab. In April, 1968, he got elected to the Rajya Sabha and again in 1974. During his 50 years of public service, Musafir won friends among the ranks of all political groups. His humanism and an infectious sense of humour cut across all barriers of opinions and views and made him beloved of all, irrespective of their political commitments.

All along, Musafir remained at the centre of literary and cultural activity. He published nearly 24 volumes that include poetry, short stories and biographies. As a poet he keenly feels the pangs of the common man and wants to make the suffering man aware of the cause of his predicament.

The first step towards self-fulfilment is to cast off his yoke. His short stories tell his jail experience. The martyrs are the subject of his biographies. His last but incomplete article is ‘Bapu Meri Nazar Wich’ on which he was working for AIR on the fateful night of his death.

Musafir represented Indian writers at the writers conference held in Stockholm in 1954 and again in 1961 in Tokyo. — B.S. Rattan


Free treatment for poor
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 18
“Pahal”, a non governmental organisation (NGO) in collaboration with a group of NRIs has decided to provide free treatment to the poor patients suffering from eye ailments, particularly those living in rural areas of the state.

Making a joint announcement during a free eye check up camp at Gakhal village near here, the president of “Pahal” Prof Lakhbir Singh and Mr Harbhajan Singh of England, revealed that those patients, who belonged to poor families, would be provided treatment of eye related diseases free of cost under its special save eye programme.

Mr Singh further said that the “Pahal” would conduct a detailed state-level survey to identify such patients even as rural area patients would be given priority in the first phase of the campaign.

“In fact, under the programme, we will provide free medicare including eye operation charges to the patients on the one hand while on the other special awareness drive will be launched to motivate the people particularly youth to sign eye donation forms,” Prof Lakhbir Singh said, adding that the “identified” patients would be fully sponsored by a group of NRIs led by Mr Harbhajan Singh.


Building shops on land meant for school
Rashmi Talwar

Amritsar, January 18
Even as the temple management continues construction of 12 shops at a hectic pace, allegedly flouting the lease agreement with the Municipal Corporation for building a primary school on the prime land near the Durgiana temple, the district administration and the corporation have turned a blind eye to the alleged violation.

Mr KS Kang, Commissioner MC, when contacted denied that the Durgiana temple authorities were “emboldened” by the alleged “inaction” of the corporation and the administration to continue the construction. He said the matter being of religious nature, was sensitive and would be brought before the house at the next meeting.

Others feel that matter was more political than religious as the present Durgiana management committee was headed by a political person of the ruling party.

This prime land, worth crores in a commercial area, was given on lease in May 2002 to the Durgiana temple authorities for a primary school on an area of 972 square yards for building a school after a house meeting in 2001 agreed to on the said lease.

It was mentioned in the lease deed that “said land could not be used for any commercial or residential purposes and any violation in this direction would be the responsibility of the Durgiana committee,” However the committee, it is alleged, thought proper to violate the agreement said Mr SS Sharma who raised the issue, Incidentally two letters written to the District Magistrate by the corporation dated December 3, 2003 and January 13, 2004 seeking police force to undertake demolition of the shops were not responded to.

Mr KS Kang had earlier admitted that the shops were “illegal” and temple management was violating the lease agreement as no building plan was sought or permission granted by the corporation.

Meanwhile the temple management in its reply to the corporation denied that the said construction was illegal. Mr Surinder Arjun President, Sri Durgiana Temple committee, said the constructions were “in the parameters of the educational institute that they had assured to make.”

Nearly 17 earlier shops constructed during the SAD-BJP tenure were never demolished when temple’s management was in the hands of then ruling party combine.


Sullar village gets water supply scheme
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 18
The Punjab Finance Minister, Mr Lal Singh, today inaugurated a water supply scheme costing Rs 25 lakh at Sullar village near here.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lal Singh said to provide round-the-clock electricity in villages of the state, an electricity scheme would be implemented shortly. He said a grant of Rs 120 crore had been given to provide monthly pension to senior citizens and widows.\

He informed that to provide toilet facility to 10 lakh families, a scheme costing Rs 500 crore had also been started. He said during the current paddy season, the state government had provided 10 hours’ regular electricity supply to farmers at a cost of Rs 4.50 crore due to which farmers had made a profit of nearly Rs 2,000 crore .

Mr Lal Singh stated that the Central Government was not giving permission to sell sugar costing about Rs 600 crore, which was lying in the godowns of sugar mills of Punjab. He said the Punjab Government was facing problems in giving sugarcane arrears to farmers.

The minister also announced that the ashirawad scheme would be implemented from January 26. Under this scheme, Rs 6,100 would be given at the time of marriage of needy girls of Scheduled Castes and backwards classes. He also presented a cheque for Rs 10 lakh to the gram panchayat for the development work of Sullar village. He also announced a grant of Rs 25,000 for the youth club of the village. Addressing the gathering, Ms Preneet Kaur, MP, said efforts were being made to protect various villages of Patiala district from the danger of floods. She stated that the state government had provided the water supply scheme to about 920 villages of the district.

On the occasion, the Mayor, Mr Vishnu Sharma, announced that streetlights would be installed in Sullar village, as half of its area fell under the Municipal Corporation.

The Chairman, Warehousing Corporation, Punjab, Mr Hardial Singh Kamboj, said during the past two years, round-the-clock electricity and water supply scheme at a cost of Rs 30 lakh had been made available to residents of Sullar village.

Besides this, grants of Rs 2 lakh and Rs 10 lakh had been given for schools and for the overall development of the village, respectively, he said.


Bad weather hits rail services

Jalandhar, January 18
Bad weather and fog continued to paralyse rail traffic with most of the long-distance trains on the Jammu-Delhi and Amritsar-Delhi sections running several hours behind schedule.

According to the Railways sources here, the Amritsar-Howrah mail was running 12 hours behind schedule. The train was scheduled to leave the Jalandhar station at 2000 hrs last night but arrived here from Amritsar at 0745 hrs and left for Howrah at 0800 hours this morning.

Besides, the Amritsar-bound Howrah express was running late by about 10 hours, the Barauni-bound Amritsar-Barauni Express by eight hours, the Amritsar-bound Katihar-Amritsar Amrapali by 12 hours, the Jammu-bound Howrah-Jammu Himgiri Express by 7 hours and the Jammu-bound Jaipur-Jammu Pooja Express was late by five hours.

Bad weather had forced railway officials to cancel the Jammu-Jaipur Pooja Express and Delhi-Amritsar Shan-e-Punjab yesterday. — UNI


Ex-MLA Mofar hurt in mishap
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
Mr Ajit Inder Singh Mofar, former MLA, Sardulgarh Assembly segment of Mansa district, was injured along with his two gunmen when the vehicle, in which they were travelling, collided with a truck near Bhikhi town late last night.

Information gathered by TNS revealed that the accident took place when the car of Mr Mofar hit a truck when the truck driver applied the brake abruptly.

The injured are getting treatment at Civil Hospital, Mansa. All are said to be out of danger.


Four killed in mishap

Batala, January 18
Four persons, including two girls and a woman, were killed and four others seriously injured when a Jeep they were travelling in hit a oil tanker near Malu Dwara village under today, the police said.

The Jeep was believed to have lost control and fell into a roadside ditch after colliding with the tanker, the police said. — PTI


SC panel summons record from VC
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 18
The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has taken cognisance of a complaint filed by sacked Assistant Public Relations Officer (APRO) of Punjabi University H.S. Khokhar and summoned facts and other information pertaining to his dismissal from Vice-Chancellor S.S Boparai.

The commission’s Director, Mr Tanzin Wangyal, has asked the VC to submit the relevant record within 15 days.

The VC had abruptly abolished the post of APRO (Reserved) and subsequently, terminated the services of Mr Khokhar early this month. The post had been dispensed with following a decision of the Syndicate.

In his petition to the commission, Mr Khokhar had pleaded that since he was a Dalit he was being discriminated against by the university high-ups, including the VC. He had claimed that the VC was “bent on violating the reservation policy of the government and by abolishing the post of APRO, the VC had come out openly with his anti-Dalit stance.”


ADC to probe charges against Tehsildar
Our Correspondent

Jalalabad, January 18
The Deputy Commissioner, Ferozepore, Mr Ranjit Singh, has marked an inquiry to the ADC, Ferozepore, to probe corruption charges levelled against Mr Ravinder Walia, Tehsildar, Jalalabad, by Mr Vikasdeep of Jalalabad in his complaint to the DC. The complainant said the Tehsildar had received huge sums of money from one Mr Ashok Kumar for getting demarcated of a disputed piece of land.

According to the complainant, the dispute concerns a 8.5 marla land of khasra no 726/1 at Jalalabad.

The complainant added that in order to give benefit to Ashok Kumar and against court orders, the Tehsildar had made a fresh demarcation and had shown the disputed property as a  property no 1349 and not part of khasra no 726/1. For this he had no revenue record and no authority to demarcate property bearing MC Number alone, he stated.

The matter had also been reported to PS city, Jalalabad and a DDR to this effect had been registered. When contacted, Mr Ravinder Walia, Tehsildar, said that everything had been done as per the law in the case.


Man, parents booked for dowry death
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 18
The sadar police has booked one Arvind Jain and his parents — Abhilash Jain and Veena Jain — in connection with the death of his wife Neetu Jain here today. The woman was pregnant at the time of her death. A case under Sections 306, 34 of the IPC has been registered against them.

Mr Pardeep Jain, father of the deceased, alleged that the in-laws of his daughter used to demand more dowry and torture Neetu.

He said that Neetu was married to Arvind in April last year.

However, Abhilash Jain strongly denied the allegations. He said Neetu was suffering from acute jaundice and her parents were informed about her illness.


One more held in arhtiya murder case
Our Correspondent

Nabha, January 18
The crime branch, Patiala, today arrested Gurmit Singh in connection with the murder of an arhtiya of Nabha, Major Singh. He was sent to judicial custody till January 30.

Police sources said two more persons, Tirath Kaur and her son Gurdev Singh, were also arrested in this connection on January 7. The police also impounded the ‘rehri’ that was used to dispose of his body. The Viseera report shows it to be an alleged case of poisoning.

The body of Maghar Singh was found on the Radhasoami road on September 14, last year. After investigations, the local police found that Maghar Singh died at the house of Sahib Singh but the family had thrown his body there. The family had admitted that the body was disposed of with the help of a family friend, Gurmit Singh.

The police has also picked up Sahib Singh, his wife, Tirath Kaur, has son Gurdev Singh his daughter, Karamjit Kaur, and family friend, Gurmit Singh, and were kept them in custody.


11 held under Gambling Act

Jalandhar, January 18
The police today arrested as many as 11 persons under the Gambling Act, including the kingpin with the recovery of cash worth Rs 1.84 from them sources said.

On receipt of a tip-off that some persons were gambling at a specific point in Mohalla Kucha Bagh area, a police party raided the spot and arrested as many as 11 persons, including the kingpin identified as Satpal Satti, a known businessman of the area, the sources said. — PTI


Residents want govt to take over private college
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 18
A section of panchayats, falling in Nathana, Joga and Rampura Phul Assembly segments and a section of staff members of TPD Malwa College, Rampura Phul, have urged the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to make arrangements to facilitate its takeover by the state government at the earliest.

In a letter to the Chief Minister, a section of the teaching and non-teaching staff members of the college alleged that though the state government had started the process for taking over the control of the college in its hands, the chairman of the management college had started opposing the same.

They added that on January 14, 2004, the management at a meeting passed a resolution to close the science classes in the college for next academic session despite the fact that no information was given to the nominees concerned of Punjabi University, Patiala, as their participation in the meeting was necessary.

They pointed out that they feared that the other reason for calling the meeting on January 14 was that chairman wanted to “misuse” the money lying in the college account under the garb of paying gratuity to the retired teachers and other staff members before it was taken over by the state government.

Mr Shashi Raj Single, chairman of college management, when contacted, denying the allegations said the management had already passed a resolution urging the state government to take over the control of the college. He added that neither he had been withdrawn the money nor there was any move to withdraw it from the college accounts.

He added that certain vested interests were planting news in a section of the Press to bring a bad name to the college. He pointed out that college had been running into loss as the state government had reduced the grant-in-aid from 95 per cent to 55 per cent.


GND varsity wins youth fest trophy
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 18
Guru Nanak Dev University has become the first university in the northern region to win the North Zone Inter Varsity Youth Festival Trophy for the fourth consecutive term.

Addressing a press conference here today, the principal of local A Pee Jay College of Fine Arts, Dr Sucharita revealed that the Varsity lifted the trophy for the fourth consecutive term during five-day youth festival which concluded at Kurukshetra University, Kurukshetra.

She said out of total 21 events, her college team won first position in six events — classical vocal solo, light vocal ghazal, western vocal solo, group song (western), clay modelling and mimicry while in three events — group song (Indian), classical dance and poster making — the college bagged second positions.

Sugandha, a student of A Pee Jay College of Fine Arts, got the distinction of winning first position in classical vocal solo and in mimicry events for the third consecutive term in a row.

Results: Classical instrument (percussion): Doaba College, Jalandhar (second); instrumental (non-percussion): Kanya Mahavidyalya, Jalandhar (first); Quiz: DAV College, Amritsar; Debate: Hans Raj Mahila Maha Vidyalya, Jalandhar (first); skit: DAV College, Amritsar (first); Mime: DAV College, Amritsar (first); one-act play: BBK DAV College, Amritsar (third); rangoli: Guru Nanak National College, Nakodar (third); Collage: DAV College, Amritsar (second).


20,000 students take GK test

Jalandhar, January 18
As many as 20,000 students of different educational institutions today participated in a state-level general knowledge test, organised by the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) here today. The aim of the test was to create awareness among the youth about the Indian history, culture and role of freedom fighters.

The test was conducted in two groups. In group A, Harmanjeet of Kendriya Vidyalya bagged the first position, while Ankit of Saravhitkari Vidya Mandir and Raj Bhaddur of Labhu Ram Doaba Senior Secondary School were adjudged second and third, respectively.

In group B, Ravi Kumar of Government Senior Secondary School, Dhanda, topped the list, while Kishore Kumar of Dr B.R. Ambedkar School and Davinder Rana of Junior Model School were declared second and third, respectively. — OC


One room for five classes!
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, January 18
One room for running five classes? Don’t be shocked. The answer is in the affirmative. In Kharar two government primary schools are being run from one room each. The third government primary school is a little lucky as it has two rooms for Class I to V even though cowdung is dumped by neighbours on its premises.

One can hardly call these schools where young minds are supposed to be moulded. In this era of modernisation, students of these schools are made to sit on “tats” or on the bare floor as furniture has not been provided by the government. Staff shortage plagues these schools which do not have even playgrounds for students.

Government Elementary School - 3, which is located near the police station, functions from one room in which cupboards, metal racks loaded with old records and broken chairs are also kept. Students can use only a part of the room.

The second room is occupied by the Block Education Office. The school has only one teacher to teach all five classes. As it becomes difficult to handle all classes at a time, some students are made to sit in the room and others in the corridor. No wonder the strength of these schools remains low. There are only 29 students, almost all of them belonging to economically weaker sections. Two rooms of the building are under construction.

When this correspondent visited Government Primary School - 2 which falls in Balmik Choti Majri on January 16 at 1.30 p.m., the only room from where the school functions was found locked. Mr Ashok Kumar, who works in the sanitation wing of the Municipal Council and lives in that area, said the school had been closed early because the teacher had to go for some work.

On a blackboard in the courtyard of the school a teacher, Ms Kuljeet Kaur, had written that she was going to “centre school”, Mundi Kharar in connection with admission forms for Class V. The closing time of the school is 3 p.m.

Mr Ashok Kumar, who had studied in this school, said that for the past many years the school had been functioning from one room without basic facilities for students. There are about 25 students in the school.

The condition of Government Elementary School - I is comparatively better. It has two rooms though broken furniture and some boxes containing old records are also lying in one of the rooms. The school has 16 three-seater benches. Most of the students are made to sit on “tats” in the verandah. During summers students are taught under the shade of a tree.

Cowdung heaps are lying in a part of the school area as the boundary wall has not been completed. It is learnt that a dispute in this matter is on. The open area of the school is not cleaned regularly.

While a number of private schools have mushroomed in the area, there is not a single government middle or high school. The President of the council, Mr Charanjit Singh, told Chandigarh Tribune, that the civic body was ready to provide 5 acres if the government started a model school in the area. He said in 1996 a middle school had been started in the town, but was shifted by the Akali government.


Junk dealers agree to shift market
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 18
Local junk dealers have agreed to the plan of the district administration to shift the Kabari Market to Transport Nagar, Rajpura Road.

The Chairman of the local Improvement Trust, Mr K.K. Sharma, said under a special provision made in the Punjab Town Improvement Act, the junk dealers would be given plots at subsidised rates.

Traffic congestion and lack of parking space were the main reasons behind the shifting of the market.

The decision was taken at a meeting chaired by the Punjab Chief Minister, at Punjab Bhavan in Chandigarh yesterday.

On the occasion, the leaders of the Kabari Market Association assured the administration that all junk dealers would shift their shops to Transport Nagar within three months.

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