P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Escape attempts bare chinks in jail security
Varinder Walia and Pawan Kumar
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
Several jailbreak attempts in the high security jail here not with standing, the ‘disc system’ which plugs all loopholes in the security of the jail has not been revived so far. Though Pakistani nationals and certain international smugglers have made attempts to escape from the jail, in the past yet the inmates have been found using facilities, including cell phones allegedly in connivance with the jail authorities.

The successful sensational escape by seven Pakistani spies and smugglers from the jail in 1971 is still fresh in the minds of jail officials here. While three spies were re-arrested near Rajasansi Airport, four Pakistani smugglers could not be caught. Six Pakistani nationals had made a bid to escape by scaling the 16-feet wall of the jail in January 2002 by using ropes made of cloth sheets which had been provided to them for performing ‘namaz’ on the eve of Id. However their attempt was foiled due to timely detection by vigilant officials. This was revealed by Mr Hardip Singh Chabba who recently retired as Jail Superintendent. Mr Chabba claimed that he had shifted the six Pakistan nationals to security cells after intimating the IG (Prisons), about the attempt.

As many as seven undertrials had escaped during court hearings by dodging the security men while two inmates had escaped from the hospitals since May last year. The recent escape was that of Mohan Singh, a resident of Loharka Kalan, who had escaped from village gurdwara on January 11, where he had been taken by the security men. He had been arrested on attempt to murder charges. Only after five days of this another undertrial Suraj, a resident of Badar Kali (Amritsar), who had been arrested on charges of murder, theft and looting escaped after court hearing. Not even a single escapee has been re-arrested so far.

The Vigilance Bureau had allegedly detected the ‘involvement’ of doctors in certain escape cases. Mr Vijay Kumar, an officiating jail superintendent, while talking to The Tribune said there was need to post doctors in jails on rotation basis to avoid such incidents.

Earlier, also two attempts of jailbreak had been made but these were allegedly ‘hushed up’ by authorities. One such attempt was made by two lifers in the year 1999. This was not brought on record but certain officials, on condition of anonymity, said they vividly remembered this attempt by the lifers.

In an interesting case, Lakha Singh, an international smuggler, who is known as ‘Baba Bohar’ in Pakistan was found using a mobile phone in his barrack. The officiating Jail Superintendent, Mr Vijay Kumar, however, refused to comment whether this mobile was also being used by a DSP also lodged in the jail.

In reply to a question, Mr Vijay Kumar said the ‘disc system’ could not be revived due to opposition to it by the jail warders. The DGP (Jails) had directed the Jail Superintendents to revive the system after a jailbreak attempt in Central Jail, Patiala.

Meanwhile, the jail authorities had shifted ‘hardcore’ undertrials facing charges of killing Gurdial Singh, a former chairman and an Akali leader to different cells. Security has also been tightened inside and outside the jail.


Ranjit Singh sees conspiracy in jailbreak case
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, January 23
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, has said the story of three Sikh youths’ escape from the Burail Jail, Chandigarh, seems to be a cock and bull story. “The story has been cooked up by the NDA government to grab votes in the coming Lok Sabha elections,” he said after returning from Chandigarh here today.

Addressing a press conference, he said the youths, who were shown as escaped, could be killed in a ‘fake encounter’. He said digging of such a deep and long tunnel was not possible.

He said the missing links clearly pointed that a conspiracy was hatched by the Central Government’s intelligence agencies in connivance with the jail authorities. He said the CBI, which could not provide concrete evidence against the alleged accused, was ‘perturbed’ as they (the accused could have been released. He alleged the state had witnessed many encounters during militancy days.

Ridiculing the ‘red alert’ sounded in Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh, he said he had travelled up to the Burail Jail and came back in the wee hours, but he did not see any ‘police naka’ on the way. It clearly indicated that the ‘red alert’ was sounded on papers only as nobody had escaped from the jail, he said.

He has also written to the National Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Minorities to save the lives of the three youths.


DG visits Patiala, Nabha jails
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
Punjab Director-General of Prisons A.P. Bhatnagar today visited the Patiala Central Jail and the Nabha Maximum Security Prison and reviewed the security arrangements there.

He also examined the bathroom site in the “Bhatta barrack” of the Patiala jail from where two undertrials had escaped on the night of December 31 last year.

He also visited the barracks where the accused in the Indian Airlines I C - 84 hijacking case are lodged in the Patiala Central Jail. He stayed on the jail premises for two hours. He also held a meeting with the jail staff. Later, he visited the Nabha jail.

Talking to mediapersons at the Patiala jail, he said a preliminary inquiry had been conducted into the escape of two undertrials from the jail. A detailed inquiry into the matter was being done by Gurdaspur Jail Superintendent Chetan Kumar, he added. Earlier, the Patiala jail authorities had suspended 15 jail guards. He said action had also been recommended against two Assistant Jail Superintendents.

He said a proposal to introduce the facility of web conferencing would be put up before the state Cabinet soon. He said this facility would initially be proposed for the Ludhiana and Patiala jails.


Two undertrials still at large
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
The return of normalcy in Punjab bode well for the people of the State, but for the Central Jail here it meant a slackening of the tight security.

At Central Jail here on the night of December 31 personnel had been deployed on only seven watch towers. Two undertrials removed a ventilator and found their way to freedom after scaling both the inner and outer walls of the jail complex on this day.

On the night of the escape only one police personnel was on duty along the outer wall of the jail complex.

The Jail Guards Association of Central Jail claims that as many as 95 per cent of the lights in the complex were not functioning at the time of the escape. It also alleges that the assistant superintendents who are supposed to check the barracks at night do not do so.

The Jail Superintendent Jagjit Singh when questioned on the issue said due to staff shortages only one person was on duty along the outer wall of the complex on that day. He said as far as the watch towers were concerned, manning seven of them was sufficient for security purposes. “Intense fog on the day helped the undertrials to escape”, he maintains. As far as the lighting is concerned, he says it was sufficient for security purposes.

The undertrials - Jasbir Singh of Indore in Madhya Pradesh and Bihari, a resident of Bans Bareilly in Uttar Pradesh, had managed to prise apart the bricks along the ventilator in the common bathroom between 12 midnight and 3 am on that date. Even though the jail authorities took immediate action and suspended 17 of the jail guards, it has still to identify the lapses by its staff. 


Badal criticises CM's move on expansion
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The Shiromani Akali Dal President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, yesterday described Capt Amarinder Singh’s move to expand his Cabinet as a direct insult to the spirit of the Constitution, an outrage against Parliament and a brazen attempt to buy political survival by burdening the people of the state with an unnecessary fiscal load.

In a statement issued here yesterday, Mr Badal said he would take up this issue with Governor O.P. Verma. He will urge the Governor not to allow the spirit of the Constitution to be breached in view of the constitutional amendment stipulating the size of the ministries in the states .

For Amarinder to go ahead with the proposed expansion at a time when Parliament had taken the initiative in favour of political decorum and economic good showed what scant respect he had for the time- honoured values and democratic institutions in the country, the statement said.

Accusing the Chief Minister of playing politics with the economy of the state, the Akali leader said while he kept announcing that the government had no funds to continue with welfare measures, such as free power to farmers and the Shagun scheme for Dalits, he spared no effort to sanction royal incentives to members of the ruling elite. 


Don’t rake up Sonia’s foreign origin issue: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Various Akali factions differ on making Mrs Sonia Gandhi’s foreign origin as an election issue during the Lok Sabha elections.

The President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, says “it does not suit Sikhs politically to raise such an issue”.

However, the President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, is all for raising this issue.

Mr Mann said yesterday that Sikhs were well organised abroad, especially in the UK, Canada and the USA. They have become ministers, Senators and Mayors in these countries. A few years ago, Mr Ujjal Dosanj, was elected Premier British Columbia. If Akali politicians continued to raise the issue of Mrs Sonia Gandhi as foreign origin in India, there could be its backlash for Sikh politicians in Europe, Canada and the USA, he asserted. There could be a racial problem for Sikhs and their interests could be harmed in these countries, Mr Mann remarked.

Mr Badal has already declared to make this an election issue. “The political battle would be between Mrs Sonia Gandhi, who has foreign origin, and Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who is a hardcore Indian”, Mr Badal has stated.

“Mr Badal never looks beyond his nose. He has neither taken up the issue of ban on tying turbans in schools by the French Government with the Union Government nor showed any interest in hate crimes against Sikhs in the USA earlier. Mr Badal keeps himself above the interests of the Sikh community,” commented Mr Mann. The raising of this issue suited the BJP the most and Mr Badal was saying what the BJP wanted him to say, Mr Mann added.

Mr Badal had stopped raising the issue of transfer of Chandigarh and Punjabi-speaking areas to Punjab, besides resolving of the river waters tangle Mr Badal had also abandoned the Anandpur Sahib resolution, Mr Mann said.

Asked whether he would accept Mrs Sonia Gandhi as Prime Minister of the country, Mr Mann said he was neither in favour of Mrs Sonia Gandhi nor Mr Vajpayee as the Prime Minister. He said his party would contest four seats 


Bail bonds in favour of Ravi Sidhu accepted
May get bail after January 26
Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 23
A local court today accepted personal bail bonds of Rs 5 lakh each filed by two aunts of the ousted PPSC Chairman Ravinderpal Singh Sidhu but the former PPSC Chairman will remain in jail for a few days more as his lawyers failed to submit the sureties necessary in two other courts in Ropar and Chandigarh.

The court of Sessions Judge A.N. Jindal today accepted the personal bonds filed by Amarjit Kaur and Narinderpal Kaur, aunts of Ravi Sidhu. The court ordered both the women to file affidavits stating that the land pledged by them was free from any encumberance and that they would not dispose off the land till the pendency of the case. They were also directed to ensure the presence of the accused in court on every date of hearing of the case. Earlier, both the women were identified by advocate Gurbachan Singh and local Councillor Krishen Chand Buddhu.

The court, meanwhile, also ordered Ravi Sidhu to abide by the orders passed by the Supreme Court while giving him bail in the case. Sidhu's lawyer Sahib Singh Dhindsa disclosed that Sidhu had already submitted his passport in a Ropar court. The Supreme Court orders had directed that Sidhu would report to the Superintendent of Police, Mohali, besides directing him to stay at his permanent address. Mr Dhindsa disclosed that Sidhu's permanent address would be House Number 549, Sector 10-C till the pendency of the case.

Meanwhile Sidhu's senior advocate Tirath Singh said the former PPSC Chairman may get out of jail on bail only after January 26 as sureties had to be filed in two other cases on his behalf at Chandigarh and Ropar.


Hailstorms hit wheat, mustard crops
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Farmers are feeling distressed as hailstorms hit parts of this region this afternoon.

Around 4 p.m. a hailstorm hit several parts of the Morinda area. Around 5.30 p.m. again a hailstorm hit various parts of the Rajpura- Sirhind belt. It was severest in the areas adjoining Mohali and Kharar. While hailstorms flattened crops in the plains, upper reaches of the Himalayas witnessed a heavy snowfall in the past 24 hours.

Incessant rain in the past 48 hours prevented the farmers from draining out water from the wheat and mustard crops.

A senior officer of the Punjab Agriculture Department said it was too early to say whether any damage had been caused to crops in any part of the state. But farmers say otherwise crops have been flattened by high-velocity winds at several places, farmers claim. The mustard crop has been hit hard at many places. Punjab has about 80,000 hectares of land under mustard this year. At certain places pulse crops have also been damaged.

Farmers say the heavy rainfall has also led to the waterlogging of sugarcane fields which is not good at this stage of the crop.

Weather officials say that the clouds are concentrated more in the region adjacent to the Shivalik hills, including areas such as Ropar, Patiala, Chandigarh, Ambala. However, the Malwa belt by and large remained dry today even though some areas had light showers this morning.

Heavy rainfall has been recorded in Chandigarh, Ambala, Karnal, Patiala, Naya Nangal and certain other parts of the region. Against the average rainfall of 22.3 mm this month last year it has been 77.1 mm till date. Inclement weather will prevail in various parts in the next 24 hours.

The rain has, however, improved the power supply position. Mr Kulwinder Singh of Daon Majra village, near Morinda, said the PSEB had been subjecting the rural areas to heavy power cuts for the past several weeks but the situation had improved in the past three days.


12 rice mills sealed

Ferozepore, January 23
The police has sealed at least 12 rice mills here in a bid to unearth what it suspects to be a multi-crore scandal following a complaint by the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

The FCI had alleged that the millers had been supplying FCI low-grade rice imported from Gujarat instead of the one milled from the paddy purchased in Punjab.

Preliminary investigation revealed that the rice millers imported the IR-8 variety rice from Gujarat, which cost them a little over Rs 600 per quintal on arrival here, and sold it as levy rice to the FCI at Rs 1050 per quintal by mixing it with the PR variety and thus earned a huge profit, SSP H.S. Chahal told reporters here this evening.

Mr Chahal said that he had set up a three-member special investigating team (SIT) comprising two SPs and a DSP to investigate the matter.

The district police chief said the rice mills were sealed during raids yesterday at Ferozepore, Talwandi Bhai and Guru Harsahai after registering an FIR on the complaint lodged by the FCI’s Senior Regional Manager K. Siva Prasad.

While Mr Chahal declined to identify the rice mills raided by the police, sources said some of the raided mills belonged to a brother-in-law of PPCC general secretary Parminder Singh, alias Pinky, a relative of Punjab Urban and Housing Minister Raghunath Sahai Puri and friends of Chief Minister’s OSD Rana Gurmit Singh Sodhi.

The SSP said preliminary investigation revealed that some of the raided rice millers had imported one rake of 10 bogies of rice from Ahmedabad, which arrived here on January 10. The import took place through a Delhi-based agent, he added. Mr Chahal said SIT had been asked to investigate arrival of several rakes of rice here in the last few months.

The police official said the FCI manager following discovery of the scandal, had directed District Manager B.P. Subramanian to stop buying levy rice from millers until they produced receipt of local purchase along with receipts of 2 per cent market fee and 2 per cent rural development fund (RDF) cess imposed by the state government.

Interestingly, the state Vigilance Bureau had raided several rice mills last year also to investigate the alleged embezzlement of paddy supplied to the millers for extracting rice. — UNI


Sonia to name LS nominees
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
The state election committee of the PPCC today, resolved to authorise Congress President, Sonia Gandhi to select the candidates for the forthcoming general election. While Chief Minister Amarinder Singh could not make it to the meeting, Deputy Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, PPCC President H.S. Hanspal and Finance Minister, Lal Singh were among those present.


Shatrujit to contest Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, January 23
Tikka Raja Shatrujit Singh, a scion of Nawab Jassa Singh Ahluwalia founder of the Kapurthala princely state and great grandson of Maharaja Jagatjit Singh, will contest the Jalandhar Lok Sabha seat on the Shiromani Akali Dal ticket.

Raja Shatrujit Singh yesterday visited Kapurthala town and held meetings with local Akali leaders, industrialists and prominent residents of the town to ascertain their views. He also visited Jalandhar town along with Mr Raghubir Singh former Transport Minister and president of the Kapurthala district unit of the Akali Jatha and met Akali leaders of the Doaba region.


Bahujan morcha merges with BSP
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 23
The president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) and a former MP, Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, today revealed that his party would merge with the BSP during “Bahujan Ekta Rally” to be held at Banga in Nawanshahr district on February 15.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Kainth said there were no pre-conditions for the merger of the BSM with the BSP.


Panel questions credibility of NHRC
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
The Human Rights Watch Asia (HRWA) has expressed concern over the inordinate delay on the part of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) in pronouncing verdict in the case of large-scale disappearance of people and illegal cremation of 2,098 bodies in Amritsar district. The case has been hanging fire for the past more than six years.

An association of the families of disappeared persons is contemplating to file a writ in the Supreme Court to get the NHRC investigation expedited, besides seeking the setting up of an independent prosecution and investigation agency.

Mr Brad Adams, Director of the Asia division of the HRWA, made these observations while addressing a press conference here today.

The HRWA has raised a question on the credibility of the NHRC. The commission had received the detailed CBI report in 1996, but had failed to appoint any investigation officer to look into the case so far, said Mr Adams.

He said the Supreme Court, in December, 1996, had referred the matter to the NHRC and had vested it with all powers of the apex court under Article 32 of the Constitution.


DGP’s assurance on custodial death
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, January 23
An 11-member deputation, led by Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, MLA from Sherpur, today met the Principal Secretary to the Chief Minister, Punjab, Mr Suresh Kumar, and Punjab DGP A.A. Siddiqui to protest against the “failure” of the police to arrest five policemen, including DSP Gurjit Singh and Sherpur SHO Kulwinder Singh, who were allegedly responsible for the death of Ravinder Singh (25) of Kala Bula village in police custody on January 18.

Sources said the Principal Secretary said that no guilty policemen would be spared, when the deputation told him that people of the area had no faith in the Barnala police as it had been allegedly protecting the DSP, the SHO and the other policemen.

The deputation also brought the matter to the notice of the Punjab DGP. The DGP reportedly assured the deputation that the policemen would be arrested in two days and an inquiry conducted into the death of Ravinder Singh.

Yesterday, leaders of various political parties and hundreds of villagers gheraoed the police station at Sherpur for about five hours. Shopkeepers and traders of Sherpur and Katron villages also observed a complete bandh in this regard yesterday. Meanwhile, a 15-member action committee announced that a protest dharna would be held in front of local police station from January 27 to January 29.


2 kids rendered mentally ill by militants get help
Rashmi Talwar

Two mentally ill minors of Banka Baler village, Amritsar, who have been adopted by the All-India Anti-Terrorist Forum
Two mentally ill minors of Banka Baler village, Amritsar, who have been adopted by the All-India Anti-Terrorist Forum.

Amritsar, January 23
Two minors who lost their mental balance after being severely beaten up by terrorists and witnessing the brutal killing of their father have finally found help after nearly 12 years. The All-India Anti-Terrorist Front adopted the two here yesterday. They were assured financial and material help after they were found tied to a tree in Banka Baler village in the Bhikhiwind area.

Simranjit Kaur, mother of Kuldip Kaur (17) and her brother Gursahib (14), said she was forced to chain them after they started running away from home, tore clothes and bit people. They also threw utensils and other household items outside. Simranjit said she was unable to look after them from her meagre resources. She tied them to keep them under control after she was flooded with complaints from almost all villagers.

A team of the anti-terrorist front members led by senior vice-president, Mr Mahinder Singh Sidhu adopted the two and assured the family of ration, clothes, treatment and education after their treatment at mental hospital here.

Relating that fateful day, Simranjit said Kuldip was five years and Gursahib just two when they came face to face with the ugly face of terrorism. Both were severely beaten up by nearly 15 to 20 terrorists who barged into their house in 1991. They witnessed the inhuman killing of their father, Amar Singh, who was mowed down with a volley of bullets from the automatic weapons. The father’s body lday bulletridden and for quite sometime as no neighbours dared to venture out.

Mr Maninderjit Singh Bitta, President of front, said he had also persuaded the Chief Minister to release Rs 1 lakh from CM’s relief fund.


Stress on more Indo-Pak cultural exchange
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, January 23
Noted Sufi singers from India and Pakistan, including Hans Raj Hans, Bashir Khan and Akbar Ali, today said that there was a need for more cultural exchange between the two countries as this would help the ongoing peace process initiated at the highest level between the two countries. Hans remarked, “Sufism is probably the best antidote for all types of animosities, violence and bloodshed”.

Hans, Khan and Ali, who are here to perform at the Indo-Pak Sufiana Musical summit, organised by the Ludhiana Sanskritik Samagam (LSS) today said that they believed that the people of the two countries had a strong feeling of brotherhood towards each other. Khan and Ali were unanimous about the changing mindset in Pakistan, particularly after the recent peace moves.

Hans, Khan and Ali sounded optimistic about a joint future. They said Indian music, including Punjabi, was popular in Pakistan and people loved it. “Once something appeals you, you do not start thinking about its origins”, Ali pointed out.

Trying to convey the message of peace through their music, the three singers quoted a popular couplet “mitti hai to pal bhar mein bikhar jayay gay hum log, khushboo hai to har daur ko mehkayay gay hum log, hum roohe safar hain humein namoon say na pehchan, kal kissi aur nam say janay jayengay hum log”.


Mahasabha seeks reservation for Jats
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
Mr Gurdial Singh Khaira, General Secretary, All-India Jat Mahasabha, Punjab unit, said the Mahasabha would continue its struggle till the members of the Jat community of the state were given reservation according to the recommendation of the Mandal Commission report.

Addressing a press conferences here on Wednesday, he said the national president of the Mahasabha, Mr Dara Singh, MP, had succeeded in securing reservation for Jats in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh Delhi, Himachal Pardesh, Madhya Pardesh and Gujarat.

He said the Mahasabha had been urging the Centre and the state governments to take steps to give stringent punishments to those, who had been selling spurious seeds, fertilisers and pesticides to farmers. He said the Mahasabha had also been urging the Centre to make adequate laws to check the evil of dowry deaths in the country.

The Mahasabha had also been demanding that the prices of foodgrains should be linked to the price index of 1966-67 to improve the lot of farmers. Apart from it, their loans should also be waived off. The Mahasabha would launch an agitation, if the agencies concerned failed to redress the problems of the farmers, he said.

He pointed out that the Mahasabha had continuously been appreciating the role of the Lok Bhalai Party led by Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia in protecting the rights of those brides, who had been ditched by their husbands based in foreign countries.

He said the Mahasabha would support Mr Ramoowalia in all aspects.


Train coaches derail
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 23
Three coaches of the Ferozepore-Fazilka Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) 3 FF train got derailed near the Jhoke Tehal Singh railway station here today.

The train, which started at 10.05 a.m. from the Ferozepore Cantonment station, reached Jhoke Tehal Singh station in about 30 minutes. As soon as it started from there the bogies got derailed. The driver of the train managed to bring the train to a halt thereby saving any loss of life.

A team of Railways officials reached the spot and transported the passengers to the nearest bus stand. A technical fault has caused the accident, sources said. Work was on to repair the track.

Meanwhile, five trains, had to be cancelled due to the accident. 


Tributes paid to Netaji
Our Correspondent & PTI

Amritsar, January 23
The birth anniversary of Netaji Subas Chandra Bose was celebrated with great enthusiasm here today.

The All India Azad Hind Fouz Freedom Fighters Successors Association held a special function at Government Girls Senior Secondary School in the Putlighar area.

The president of the association, Mr Manohar Singh Saini, paid rich tributes to the leader.

Hoshiarpur: The Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), celebrated the 107th birth anniversary of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose at a function here today.

Mr Manu Sharma, district president, Mr Bhanu Sharma, city vice-president and Mr Lokesh Choubey, city secretary, of the ABVP paid rich tributes to Netaji.

They appealed to the youth to follow in the footsteps of Netaji and lead a disciplined life.

Moga: The birth anniversary of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose was celebrated here today with great enthusiasm. A large number of freedom fighters from all over the district assembled in front of the statue of Netaji on the GT road and garlanded the statue.

The INA men and other freedom fighters assembled in Freedom Fighters Bhavan here where tributes were paid to the Netaji.

By adopting a resolution, the freedom fighters appealed to Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to observe January 23 as Netaji’s birth anniversary officially at the national level and also appealed for installing Netaji’s portrait in the Central Hall of Parliament.


Govt not helping panel on Netaji, says Saini
Our Correspondent

Ropar January 23
“The Union Government is not extending help to the Mukerji Commission probing the circumstances leading to the death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.” Mr V.P. Saini, the general secretary of the All-India Forward Bloc, levelled these allegations at a press conference held here today.

He said he had written a letter in this regard to the Prime Minister. The commission was formed around four years ago, but it has not been able to make any progress in its probe, Ms Saini said. Its members have been alleging that the government was not extending them help in procuring the classified documents regarding the death of Netaji.

He said it was unfortunate that the government was not serious about unearthing the truth about the death of Netaji.

The students of Netaji Model School here also paid homage to Netaji on his birth anniversary today.


Health mela from February 2
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, January 23
Under the ‘Swasthaya Jagrukta Maah’ programme being launched by the Central Government, the district administration in collaboration with Government. Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital and the Health Department has made elaborate arrangements to hold a three-day health mela from February 2 at the Nehru stadium here. Nearly 57 stalls comprising different kinds of medical facilities headed by experts will be set up to provide treatment free of cost to the needy. In addition 12 stalls will be set up to register the patients from 9 am to 5 pm. Diagnostic laboratory tests will also be conducted to ensure proper treatment. Special focus will be on AIDS, leprosy, TB and eyes related problems. Interoculator lens would be fitted in the eyes of the needy said Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, Faridkot, while talking to mediapersons here yesterday.

In the family planning care a motivator who brings two patients for tubectomy operation will be given a blanket free of cost. Treatment for various diseases under the ayurvedic, homoeopathic and unani systems of medicine would also be provided.

Mr Jagmeet Singh, MP, will inaugurate the mela and Gurcharan Kaur, senior vice-president, BJP and MP will be the guest of honour.


High Court
Education board asked to get FIR registered
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, January 23
Acting on a petition filed by Samrala-based Amanpreet Kaur and four other Plus two students seeking declaration of examination result, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the Punjab School Education Board to get a first information report registered against the Principal of the institute they were studying in for allegedly issuing factitious roll numbers.

Issuing the directions in an open court, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice G.S. Singhvi and Mr Justice A.K. Mittal, also directed state of Punjab to probe the allegations. Board Secretary, summoned by the court, was present during the hearing.

In their petition, the students had earlier claimed that they had appeared in the examinations for session 2001-02. But their result was not declared. Going into the background of the case, Mr Satwant Singh Rangi had asserted that the Principal of Khumano-based institute had accepted money for admissions, besides examination fees. The board, on the other hand, had claimed that the result of candidates, to whom the roll numbers were actually issued, had been declared.

Sharma’s petition

A petition filed by Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research’s Director Dr S.K. Sharma will come up for hearing before a Division Bench of the high court on February 13.

In his application, Dr Sharma had earlier sought directions for the modification of a petition initially filed by him, along with the stay on the suspension orders. Arguing on Dr Sharma’s behalf, his counsel had claimed that the Institute’s President had no jurisdiction to pass the orders for placing the petitioner under suspension. 


Delay in notification hits consumers, says Justice Brar
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, January 23
Justice H.S. Brar, President of the State Consumer, Punjab, said here today that the state government had been denying justice to consumers by causing inordinate delay in the issuance of notification in connection with the appointment of presidents of three district consumer forums. Selections in this regard were made by the Statutory Committee of appointments about six months ago, he said.

He was here to inspect the working of the District Consumer Forum, Bathinda. He said the government had also failed to constitute state-level consumer protection council and district-level consumer protection councils, although these should have been constituted by March 15, 2003, as per the amendment made in the Consumer Protection Act (CPA).

He said the government was not fulfilling its responsibility of strengthening the consumer protection system.

He said the non-issuance of notification in connection with the appointments of district presidents of consumer forums at Jalandhar, Mansa and Gurdaspur, had brought the work to a standstill and consumers had been suffering on that account.

He also addressed the members of the District Bar Association, Bathinda.

He said he had asked the government to set up three more state consumer commissions at Chandigarh and one more consumer forum at Jalandhar, Amritsar and Ludhiana, but nothing had been done in that regard so far. “Now, I have taken up the matter with the National Consumer Commissioner,” he said.


Liquor mafia bank records seized
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
The Income Tax investigation team seized relevant documents of three employees of Chadha group that runs liquor trade in the state from Punjab and Sind Bank here on Wednesday on the suspicion that these persons were maintaining fake accounts for paying government excise dues.

The Punjab Human Right Organisation (PHRO) has alleged that the group was paying off its dues through these persons who had been granted large bank limits based on fictitious textile trade. This revelation has added a new dimension to the report of alleged nexus between the liquor mafia and government machinery released on January 20 and 21.

However, Mr Inderpreet Chadha denies allegations levelled by PHRO and its investigation team.

The PHRO had earlier released a detailed investigation report levelling serious charges on the Chadha group and had alleged that they were running a private army to terrify their business rivals and had even implicated them in false cases of planting opium. Refuting the charges Mr Chadha alleged that the report of PHRO had been presented at the behest of bootleggers who were running an organised business and were framing stories as the police and excise departments were constantly conducting raids on their premises.

The Chairman of PHRO, Justice Ajit Singh Bains (retd), had alleged in his report that the henchmen of the liquor mafia were harassing marriage palace owners, hoteliers and citizens. The report had also mentioned the murder of Punnu at police station Bilga in Jalandhar, where the hired henchmen of the liquor contractor had raided his place.

The reports also alleged that a railway employee Krishan Kumar of Chheharta and Balbir Singh had been kidnapped by them. The report also mentioned about the illegal nakas being put up by the Chadha group at various places.


CA held for forgery
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, January 23
The district police has arrested a chartered accountant and his assistant for allegedly preparing forged documents to help applicants secure visas for immigration.

Following a tip-off that a chartered accountant Rajesh Kumar of Balwant Nagar locality here was running a racket of preparing forged documents pertaining to income tax returns, bank accounts and PAN cards to help those who had applied for grant of visa, the police yesterday raided his house and arrested him.

Later, the police also arrested one of his assistants Adarash Kumar of Jandusigha village for conniving with his employer in this regard. The police also conducted raids on the Model Town road office of the accused and confiscated a computer and some documents.

The police maintained that during preliminary interrogation, the arrested person revealed that he was allegedly charging Rs 5000 to Rs 10000 for preparing forged documents for the past about five years. Though police was yet to establish the identity of his clients, who allegedly got visa granted to visit western countries on fake documents, it was learnt that the arrest would lead to unearthing of a big human trafficking racket using illegal means.

A case under Sections 420, 464, 468, 471, 120-B of the IPC has been registered.


Patwari, nambardar held for fraud
Tribune News Service

Phagwara, January 23
A team of Vigilance staff Kapurthala headed by DSP Vigilance Mr Rajwant Kumar today arrested Kashmir Singh a patwari Amarjit Singh, a nambardar, and Darshan Singh a resident of Bhabiana village, presently residing in HP, under Sections 120, 467, 458, 471, 120-B, IPC for fraud, forgery and criminal conspiracy and Sections 7/8 of the Prevention of Corruption Act.

Darshan Singh had forged a death certificate of his brother Shingara Singh and had grabbed his land measuring 25 kanal and 4 marlas in Bhabiana village.

The nambardar attested the document to transfer land in the name of the grabber while the patwari helped him in grabbing the land. Eight kanals plot of the grabbed land was sold to woman in the village.


Porters clash at Wagah, 2 hurt
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, January 23
The Indo-Pak joint checkpost at Wagah was a witness to a clash between two groups of porters on Wednesday evening. The Gharinda police has registered a case against eight porters under Sections 323, 149 and 34 of the IPC.

According to an eyewitness a group led by Jaimal Singh who enjoys political patronage ousted the elected president Dharam Singh and forced the porters to accept him as the new president. This was resented by the loyalists of Dharam Singh. This led to a clash in which members of the Jaimal Singh group thrashed Dharam Singh and his nephew Hardeep Singh, who sustained injuries. The trouble had been brewing for the past two months.


Gang of drug smugglers busted
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, January 23
Sleuths of the Division Field Security unit have reportedly busted a gang allegedly involved in drug peddling and supply of narcotics in the cantonment area.

According to the information, two persons Malkit Singh, son of Jagtar Singh, a resident of Jhandawali village of Hanumangarh and Sunil Kumar, alias Roma, son of Puran Chand, a resident of Ram Bagh in the local cantonment area have been apprehended along with 40 grams of smack while selling the contraband in the Gandhi Garden locality of the cantonment.

According to information, sleuths of the Field Security section laid a trap to nab these persons who were later handed over to the local police. Information suggests that this gang was active in drug peddling in the cantonment area for the past few months. During interrogation at the local police station, the arrested persons disclosed the names of their accomplices as Tagar Singh and Gurjant, who have absconded.


Armed youths rob man of car, cash
Our Correspondent

Lalru, January 23
Three armed miscreants robbed a resident of Ambala of his car and Rs 1,500 on the Ambala-Chandigarh highway in Jharmari village, near here, this morning.

Employed as a technician with an industrial unit in the Industrial Area Panchkula, Mr Brij Kishan, was going to his office in his car (HR-01P-8686) at about 8 am when the incident took place.

Mr Karan Sher Singh, Station House Officer(SHO), Lalru, said Mr Brij Kishan, a resident of Ravi Das Nagar in the Rambagh area of Ambala Cant, going to his office when an Esteem car stopped in front of his vehicle and three armed youths came out of it and signalled him to stop.

Two youths, then, dragged him to the backseat of the car and hit him. While one man took over the driver’s seat, others told him to bow down and threatened him with dire consequences if he tried to raise the alarm.

They also took away his wrist watch, a gold ring and Rs 1,500 from him, the SHO added.

In his complaint, the victim alleged that the three sped away after throwing him out of the car, near the railway level crossing, in Dhakauli village.

According to Mr Manmohan Kumar Sharma, DSP, Dera Bassi, a case under Section 352 of the IPC and the Arms Act has been registered and investigations on to nab the miscreants.


National integration camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 23
The seven-day all-India national integration camp-2004, hosted by Punjabi University concluded here today. The Minister for Higher Education, Punjab, Mr Harnam Dass Johar, was the chief guest.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Johar appreciated the efforts made by Punjabi University in holding a successful and fruitful national integration camp.

The Vice-Chancellor, Punjabi University, Mr Sawarn Singh Boparai called upon the youth to adopt the maxim of righteousness in life irrespective of caste, creed or colour.

He also appealed to the youth to be honest and firm in their approach towards humanity.

Narrating their experiences during the camp, Mr Mohammad Jafri from UP, Mayur Pawar from Maharashtra, Mr Bhola from Rajasthan, Mr Gladwin A.D. from Karnataka and Ms Nazia from Delhi said they had got much exposure and their participation had made them understand India very closely.

They spoke in one voice that on the inaugural day they were representatives of different states but today they were representing India. On the occasion, Mrs Satwant Boparai, wife of the Vice-Chancellor, awarded certificates and souvenirs to the participating universities.

The Deputy Director, Youth Affairs, S.M. Kant, Professor in charge, National Integration Chair, Dr Baltej Singh Mann, and the Dean Academic Affairs, Dr U.C. Singh, were also present.


College students go on strike
Our Correspondent

Patiala, January 23
On the call given by the Students Federation of India (SFI), students of various colleges and schools of the city observed a strike here today.

Speaking on the occasion the state president of the SFI, Gurpal Singh Dhaliwal, said the students would intensify their struggle against the “anti- education” and “anti-employment” policies of the state government. The federation demanded that the government should give 95 per cent grant without any cut to various colleges and universities. They also demanded that the money given for scholarship to poor students should be increased.

District SFI secretary Harbajan Singh condemned the government move to privatise government polytechnics and ITIs.

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