P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Terrorism victims yet to get grants, jobs
Rashmi Talwar

Fatahpur (Amritsar), February 8
A sense of resignation is writ large on the face of Balwinder Kaur as she holds photograph of her son Manjit Singh, who was hanged to death by terrorists in 1990. Manjit was newly engaged when he and his friend were picked up from a petrol station. The terrorists belonged to the Resham Singh gang.

Thirteen years on, the poor mother is yet to get the ex gratia grant or the job promised by the government.

Her’s is not an isolated case. The government has turned a blind eye to the plight of nearly, 2,500 terrorism and riot-affected families in Gurdaspur and Amritsar district.

Om Parkash Sehgal and his son Davinder lost their medical store and factory meeting medical expenses following two attacks in 1984-1985 on them in which both sustained serious bullet injuries. Despite an FIR, no “fed card” verifying their “victim” status has been issued. While Om Parkash died recently, his son still awaits the card. This is despite the fact that the government asked the Deputy Commissioner to issue the documents in 2002.

Similar is the case of a couple, Harjinder Singh, and Manjit Kaur, who fell to terrorists’ bullets in 1988.’ Their old parents have not got the promised pension even as Amar Kaur, mother of Harjinder, too, sustained bullet injuries in the brutal attack was disabled.

The case of riot victim Kirpal Singh is also pathetic. He and his family were attacked by a mob at Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh two days after the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Partially paralytic now, Kirpal migrated here with his family.

All he got from the government were promises of rehabilitation.

The All-India Terrorist Victim Association, headed by Dr B.R. Hastir of rehabilitation as information on thousands of such cases in which victims still await the fulfilment of promises made by the successive governments.

All Deputy Commissioners were directed to ensure that the benefits reached the affected families. However, almost 19 years on, most families still remain victims of government apathy. 


Delay in giving jobs on compassionate grounds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 8
Even after approval from the Punjab Council of Ministers to give jobs on compassionate grounds to next of kin of the employees who had died in harness, the authorities concerned have been delaying the process to give appointments to such persons.

After approval from the Council of Ministers, the Personnel Department had asked the Divisional Commissioners and the Secretaries of the departments concerned to set up committees to start recruitment. However, there has been no progress on this front. Incensed at the delay, the dependents of deceased employees have started an agitation.

Claimants to such jobs say as the code of conduct will be soon in force in view of the Lok Sabha elections, it will not be possible for the state government to fill such posts.

Moreover, they say the Personnel Department has sent guidelines only to the government departments concerned while the number of claimants to jobs on compassionate grounds is very high in boards and corporations such as the PRTC, Punjab Roadways and the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The dependents of hundreds of PSEB employees, who had died on duty, have been awaiting jobs on compassionate grounds. These employees include linemen, who were accidentally burnt alive while repairing transformers and power supply lines. As the state government is yet to send instructions to these boards and corporations, these are not able to start the recruitment process.

Mr Ranbir Singh Dhillon, an employees’ leader said the delay in giving jobs had been brought to the notice of Chief Minister Amarinder Singh. The Chief Minister had been requested to get the process expedited. He demanded that instead of making committees at the divisional level, a state-level committee should have been set up to scrutinise the applications of claimants and issue the appointment letters to those found fit.

Mr Dhillon claimed a number of claimants were planning to take extreme steps to make the government realise their hardships in the absence of any source of income. A claimant would launch an indefinite fast here tomorrow, he added.


Meeting on SYL a poll gimmick, says Tohra
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 8
Extending full support to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) chief, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, today stated that the party would sweep the coming Lok Sabha elections in Punjab by winning all 13 seats.

Addressing a gathering at the “Shatabdi Gurmat Samagam” held at the mela grounds here today, Mr Tohra alleged that the Congress’s lust for power had weakened the Sikh community. “The Akali Dal has always fought in favour of the Punjabis and will continue to do so,” he said.

When asked about SAD boycott of the all-party meet on SYL issue called by the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, yesterday, Mr Tohra said the meeting had been called for the benefit of the Congress not Punjab. “The Congress always rakes up the distribution of waters issue just before elections. It is a game to which we will not be a party,” he said.

Mr Tohra was the guest of honour at the day-long samagam organised by the Shatabdi Purab Committee to mark the beginning of the year-long celebrations commemorating 400 years of Guru Gobind Singh’s sons martyrdom. Mr Tohra and six others were honoured on the occasion. They are Bhai Amrik Singh Zakhmi, Principal Harbhajan Singh, Prof Kamaljit Singh, Mr Balwinder Singh, Justice Harjit Singh and Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale.

Bhai Jasbir Singh Khannewale, Bhai Amrik Singh Zakhmi, Bhai Ravinder Singh, Bhai Harnam Singhji and Bhai Harcharan Singh Khalsa performed kirtan.

According to an SGPC member, Mr Hardeep Singh, a blood donation camp, a Sikh history exhibitions, a medical camp, a books exhibition were also organised.


SGPC writes to French President on turban
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 8
SGPC secretary Manjit Singh Calcutta has urged the French President to withdraw legislation banning wearing of turban by Sikhs. The secretary said that in the case of Sikhs, turban is unique compared to other religions.

He quoted the UN General Assembly resolution of November 25, 1981 which had declaration on the elimination of intolerance and discrimination based on religion or belief.

Mr Calcutta pointed out that Sikhs had ties with French people. The secretary added that Sikhs had made sacrifices for freedom and democracy alongside the French people.

He sought intervention of President for stopping this discriminatory law against Sikh religious customs and laws.


Takht in dilemma over panel report
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
A five-member panel constituted by Akal Takht has recommended the revocation of the suspension of 284 members of the Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD), giving a twist to the dispute between the two warring groups in the oldest Sikh institution.

This was disclosed by Justice R.S. Narula, a senior member of the panel, while talking to this reporter on telephone here today.

However, Sikh high priests are undecided whether to implement the recommendations made by the panel or not. The panel, comprising Justice Narula, Justice Kuldip Singh, Dr Kharak Singh, Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur, and Principal Ram Singh, has also recommended the holding of elections of the CKD by April 30 in accordance with the constitution of the body.

It also recommended to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, that an independent electoral officer should be appointed to fix the election schedule. Under the circumstances, the panel said former Deputy Commissioner, Amritsar, Sarbjit Singh could be appointed the electoral officer. On the expulsion of the 284 members by one group of the CKD, the panel felt that as per rules six meetings were required to be held within a year. However, these meetings had not been held during any of the relevant years.

“Moreover, it is a rule of natural justice that any person who is likely to be affected by a decision ... must be given adequate notice and opportunity to show cause against the proposed action. This was, however, not done in this case,” the report reads.


Bhai Ranjit Singh floats Akal Council
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
A former Jathedar of Akal Takht, Bhai Ranjit Singh, today floated Akal Council, which would contest the forthcoming general elections of the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) against the candidates of the Shiromani Akali Dal, headed by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Representatives of various Sikh organisations, including Mr Parhlad Singh Chandok, President of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, announced their financial and moral support for the new organisation.

The Akal Council, which would have 200 members, would chalk out programmes for the propagation of the Sikh faith and restoration of the “lost glory” of Akal Takht and other institutions. Various Sikh leaders who spoke on the occasion urged Bhai Ranjit Singh to give “religious leadership” to the council. Giving reasons for floating the council, Bhai Ranjit Singh said “anti-Sikh forces” were on the rise, which led to the mushrooming of deras. He gave a call to get Akal Takht out of the purview of the Sikh Gurdwara Act, 1925, so that the “institution of Jathedars” could be protected.


Frequent frisking irks border farmers
Anirudh Gupta

ALONG THE ZERO LINE (Ferozepore): The BSF authorities here are facing a tough resistance, not from the enemy on the other side of the fence, but also from their own people, who are protesting against the frequent and stringent frisking of the farmers going across the cobra-fencing to work in their fields. According to information, there are more than 350 valid I-card holders belonging to the villages of Gajniwala, Raja Mohtam, Gatti Mattar, Shikargarh and Dinanath, who daily go to work in their fields across the cobra-fencing installed all along the Indo-Pakistan border in Punjab sector. These farmers allege that they face a lot of ordeal in tilling hundreds of acres of their land between the cobra-fencing and the international border, which is the only source of their bread and butter.

An interaction with a section of the farmers revealed that their main grudge was that they have to undergo frisking at the hands of BSF sleuths in the area twice. This not only causes a great deal of inconvenience, but also consumes a lot of their time, and they get only 4 to 5 hours to work in their fields. Hence, their crop productivity decreases. On this account, the already poor peasants and farmers of this border area have to sustain monetary losses. They informed that there was around 1,000 acres of cultivable land at Gajniwala village, 500 acres in Gatti Mattar, 200 acres at Raja Mohtam and another 500 acres at Dinanath which was situated between the fencing and the international border.

On the other hand, the BSF officials contended that due to unprecedented floods in 1988, a major portion of the fencing measuring around 3 km between the border outposts of Gajniwala and Chak Nawab was washed away due to which the BSF authorities had placed improvised fencing in order to check infiltration and trans-border smuggling activities.

Later, this improvised fencing was converted into a formidable barrier by making it permanent and more effective. The farmers want that the two gaps of 400 metres and 1.4 km near the outposts of Gajniwala and Joginder, respectively, which connect this improvised fencing to the existing main fencing, should be plugged and the second line of the fencing in the area should be removed. The BSF officials, however, claim that it was not practically feasible. The fencing would not be able to sustain for a longer period as it would be raised against the flow of the Sutlej and during monsoons a huge quantity of water is released into the river. It may facilitate anti-national elements and smugglers to carry out their evil activities.

BSF sources say due to the crises-crossing of the Sutlej at various places along the border, here also an enclave is formed which is vulnerable to cross-border infiltration and smuggling activities. Thus, the agriculture process actually helps the force as the wild growth of grass and sirkanda is checked. So, there was no point in discouraging farmers from tilling this land, they add.

BSF officials clarify that out of around 350 genuine I-card holders, who cross over to other side of the fencing through various gates in the area, only 27 have to pass the second fencing, which is situated about 150 yards from the international border. They claim that in order to maintain the sanctity of the border and keep a check on smuggling and infiltration, this practice was quite essential.

But the farmers here have met the DIG, BSF, Mr A.K. Sorollia, to apprise him of their demand and also approached the local MLA, Rana Gurmeet Singh Sodhi, to help them. Some farmers have even approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court for justice, but the BSF officials maintain that the demand was not genuine. It was the brainchild of a few notorious elements working at the behest of anti-national agencies.

Though, the BSF officials have promised to augment the strength of the guards at the entry gates so that less time is consumed for the frisking process, the farmers have refused to compromise on the issue and plan to intensify their stir.


Punjabi youths continue to languish in Pak jails
Anirudh Gupta

Ferozepore: While members of the Punjabi delegation led by the Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh, are feeling ecstatic over the success of their visit to Lahore, scores of innocent Punjabi youths lodged in various jails of Pakistan are feeling let down as no one has bothered to make any effort to secure their release and save them from the ordeal they are undergoing at the hands of Pakistani jail authorities.

These youths’ parents, who are moving from pillar to post to get them released from Pakistani jails, are a dejected lot. They are upset over the fact that neither Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who crossed over to Pakistan to attend the SAARC summit, nor Capt Amarinder Singh, who made it to Lahore to attend the 9th World Punjabi Conference, made any effort in this direction.

These innocent Punjabis landed in Pakistan jails fraudulently as some travel agents had made false promises to fleece money and left in the fray. Lured by the travel agents, the Punjabi youths in search of greener pastures had gone to Turkey where the police arrested them and seized their passports as well as other documents and whatever money they possessed. Thereafter, the youths were taken to the Iran border and told to run away towards the jungle otherwise they would be shot. As destiny would have it, they were again arrested by the Iranian police and imprisoned for three days. Their terrible voyage did not end here as they were later handed over to the Pakistani Rangers. Since that time, the Punjabi youths are languishing in different Pakistani jails.

Mr Harpal Singh Bhullar, president, International Bhai Mardana Society, who was earlier instrumental in procuring the release of a lot of Sikh youths from the clutches of Pakistani security agencies, said it was really unfortunate that out of hundreds of Punjabi intellectuals who came from across the globe to attend the World Punjabi Conference, not one bothered to take up the cause of the jailed youths.

Mr Bhullar said one Punjabi prisoner in Pakistan, Jagjit Singh, called him up from Kot Lakhpat Jail, Lahore, to express the annoyance of jailed Punjabi youths.

While resenting the apathetic attitude of the Punjab Government delegation, Mr Bhullar said the Chief Ministers of both Indian and Pakistani states of Punjab held meticulous discussions over cultural exchange programmes, import and export and other issues, but this vital issue concerning Punjabi youths was absolutely ignored.

He said had this issue been taken up during the meeting of the two Punjab provinces Chief Ministers, the euphoria over the meeting would have augmented menifold. He demanded that this issue should be included in the agenda of talks to be held between the two nations from February 16 to 18 in Islamabad.

He said some of the Punjabi youths undergoing imprisonment in Pakistan had already gone insane while others present there were undergoing great tyranny.


Central observer elicits Cong workers’ views on candidates
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 8
Mrs Chandravati, a former Governor of Goa and central observer of the Congress arrived here on Friday evening to assess the names of the prospective candidates to contest the Lok Sabha elections from the Faridkot parliamentary constituency. She held individual meetings with senior Congress leaders and workers for more than two hours to have their views on the nomination of party candidate from the Faridkot constituency.

According to party sources a large number of members suggested the names of Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar sitting MP, Mr Harcharan Singh Brar former state Chief Minister and Governor of Orissa, Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president PPCC, and local ex-MLA and Mr S.K. Gupta, a veteran Congress leader, Chairman, Local Improvement Trust and close associate of former President Giani Zail Singh. She assured them that their sentiments would be convened to the party high command. Interestingly Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, has stressed for the renomination of sitting MP, Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar from this parliamentary constituency during her press conference at the residence of Mr Avtar Singh Brar, vice-president PPCC, yesterday. Meanwhile addressing party workers and district leaders meeting Mrs Chandravati impressed upon them to sink their differences if any and show unity to dethrone the BJP-led NDA government.


BJP leaders bury the hatchet
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 8
A BJP stalwart, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, and Mr Daya Singh Sodhi, a former minister and former state BJP president, today decided to bury the hatchet and resolved to work in tandem during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Mr Tandon went to the house of Mr Sodhi and both had a closed-door meeting over breakfast.

Earlier, differences had cropped up due to the decision of Mr Tandon to contest the forthcoming Lok Sabha poll from Amritsar. Mr Sodhi had earlier won the Amritsar seat with a comfortable margin while he had lost the previous elections by less than 30,000 votes. It is learnt that Mr Tandon told Mr Sodhi that certain leaders from and outside the party had been trying to create differences between them.

Talking to TNS, Mr Sodhi said his association with Mr Tandon was more than half a century old and hence both of them would continue to support each other in future too.

Mr Tandon said he would love to be the election in charge of Mr Sodhi if the latter got the ticket. A similar assurance was given by Mr Sodhi to Mr Tandon. However, it is learnt that Mr Sodhi expressed his displeasure over Mr Tandon starting the election campaign without taking him into confidence.

Mr Tandon has virtually started his election campaign in anticipation of getting the ticket for the Amritsar’s Lok Sabha seat. He held closed-door meetings with his supporters during his two-day stay in Amritsar.

Another senior BJP leader from Amritsar, Dr Baldev Raj Chawla, has also been lobbying for getting the ticket on the basis of his long association with Amritsar.

Addressing a meeting of office-bearers of the BJP here today, Mr Tandon asked them to work day and night to ensure the victory of the party in this border district during the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections. Among those who attended the meeting were Dr Baldev Chawla, Ms Laxmi Kanta Chawla, Mr Satpal Mahajan, Col Amrik Singh, Mr Anil Joshi, Mr Kandhari and Mr Bakshi Ram Arora.


Maya rejects Punjab list of nominees
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 8
The BSP president, Ms Mayawati, today rejected the party list of candidates, from Punjab. “Ms Mayawati has rejected the candidature of Mr Maan Singh Manhera from Ropar and Mr Pawan Kumar Tinoo from Phillaur Lok Sabha seats, the BSP in change of Punjab, Mr Narinder Kashyap, said in a statement today.

Earlier, the Bhajan Samaj Morcha chief, Mr Satnam Kainth said that the decision to merge his party was being deferred for not taking him into confidence while allocating the party ticket for the coming General Election. Mr Kainth, who had held talks with Ms Mayawati regarding his re-entry into the BSP, was scheduled to announce the merger of BSM during a rally at Banga on February 15.

Mr Kashayap said that the differences with Mr Kainth had already been resolved. The Dalit rally at Banga on February 15 would be held as per the announced schedule.


Hanspal lends support to Bhattal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 8
Ruling out the resignation of the Deputy Chief Minister, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, the Punjab Congress Chief, Mr H.S. Hanspal, today reiterated that the party would provide full legal and moral support to her in the alleged embezzlement case.

Mr Hanspal said here today that there was no need for Ms Bhattal to resign from the post of the Deputy Chief Minister as she was not convicted in the case.

He termed the reported moves of Mr Naresh Gujral to join the Shiromani Akali Dal as “unfortunate and strange”. The name of the president of State Youth Congress would be announced this week, he added.


Body to monitor moneylenders suggested
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Budladha (Mansa), February 8
A seminar held here today stressed upon the need to set up boards and other regulatory bodies to solve the debt crisis and regulate the working of private moneylenders to check the exploitation of farmers.

Speaking at a seminar on “Rural Indebtedness and Suicides”, organised by the local Guru Nanak College, Prof Sucha Singh Gill, Professor of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala, said due to decreasing landholdings, increasing inputs and set pattern of crops has led to mounting debts for Punjab farmers. He said farmers take loans to spend on marriages and improve their standard of living in villages, which was not necessarily associated with an increase in agriculture income.

Creation of employment opportunities outside agriculture, providing job-oriented courses to rural youth and government compensation to the families affected due to suicides could be explored to bail farmers out of the present economic situation.

Mr Inderjit Singh Jaijy, convenor, Movement Against State Repression (MASR), listed various reasons for farmers committing suicide. He urged the government to provide help to affected families within 30 days of the farmer’s suicide. He said boards and agencies should be set up to settle debt disputes. The government should regulate unorganised private moneylenders to prevent exploitation of illiterate farmers.

Dr K. Gopal Aiyar, former professor of Sociology, Panjab University, Chandigarh, said the government should come to the rescue of the farmers.

Mr Jagjit Singh, additional secretary, college management, Dr Daya Singh Dhaliwal, Principal of the college, Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman, Professor of Economics, Punjabi University, Patiala, and Dr Kesar Singh also addressed the seminar. They said innovative schemes like crop insurance should be introduced. Farmers and members of village panchayats attended the seminar. 


Engineers oppose PSEB proposal
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 8
The PSEB Engineers Association has strongly opposed a proposal of the board to entrust the execution of Lehra Mohabat Stage-2 on Engineering Procurement and Constitution (EPC) basis to BHEL. The association said it would escalate the project cost by at least Rs 200 crore.

The association said yesterday that the project could be executed in Rs 1,500 crore if the power plant components were procured through competitive bidding. With EPC arrangement, the cost would shoot up to Rs 1,700 crore, it said.

The general secretary of the association, Mr H.S. Bedi, said in case of Lehra Mohabat Stage 1 and in Ropar thermal plant, the multi-package route was followed. Under this, the main order for turbine, generator and boiler was placed with BHEL while other equipment were procured through competitive bidding.

He said competitive bidding was a universally accepted procedure to minimise costs, adding that there was no justification to discard the procedure and go in for non-competitive bidding. He pointed out that in case of recently constructed units at Kota and Suratgarh in Rajasthan, the competitive bidding route was followed, which reduced costs to Rs 3 crore per MW.

The president of the association, Mr M.S Bajwa, alleged that the claim of the PSEB management that the EPC contract was being given due to shortage of technical manpower was incorrect since the engineers who had worked for the construction and design of Ropar and Lehra thermal plants were in service and could be deployed on Lehra Mohabat Stage 2 as well.


Plan to seek 550 cr WB aid for health
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 8
The Punjab Government is drawing up an ambitious project with an outlay of Rs 550 crore for which it will seek World Bank funds to improve the medical and health services in the rural sector.
This was stated by the Director Health Services and Family Welfare, Dr G.L. Goel, while talking to newspersons after the inauguration of Health Fair-2004 here today.

The three-day Parivar Kalayan Avam Swasthya Mela organised at Jallianwala Bagh Martyrs Memorial Civil Hospital here.

Mr N.S. Kang, Joint Secretary, Department of Health, Government of India, said Punjab had an alarming sex ratio of 750 girls per 1,000 boys under the age of six years. He added that Faridkot district had the lowest ratio with 740 girls per 1,000 boys.

According to studies, only 2 per cent of the men opt for sterilisation as compared to 98 per cent women, he said.

Dr H.S. Gill, Civil Surgeon, said the patients who were to be examined at the camp would be kept under observation till they were fully recovered. The treatment would be provided free of cost, he added.

A number of organisations have set up exhibition stalls at the camp, including those of Ayurvedic and homoeopathic systems, to educate people on various measures for better health.

Earlier, Mr R.L. Bhatia, MP, inaugurated the mela. Tarksheel Society activists presented a play on the evils of female foeticide. 


Doc’s hospitalisation raises suspicion
Tribune News Service

Rampura, February 8
Eyebrows are being raised over the hospitalisation of Dr Laxmi Garg, who was arrested yesterday for her involvement in an illegal abortion and for subsequently dumping the foetus in garbage, at Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital, Faridkot where the foetus has been sent for forensic examination.

What has cast a shadow over the action of the authorities concerned is the fact that Dr Laxmi Garg got herself admitted to the Faridkot hospital despite the fact that she was referred to Government Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, by a Senior Medical Officer of the local Civil Hospital after she complained of chest pain following her arrest by the police in the criminal case registered against her and one of the employees of the maternity centre being run by her. The husband of Dr Laxmi Garg, who is also a doctor, is posted at the local Civil Hospital.

A cross section of residents of the town, who held a demonstration in front of Dr Laxmi Garg’s maternity centre yesterday, said they suspected that the case against Dr Laxmi Garg might not reach its logical conclusion as evidence lying in the Faridkot hospital could be tampered with.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, expressed surprise over the fact that Dr Laxmi Garg had been admitted to the Faridkot hospital despite having been referred to another hospital. Dr Goyal said the maternity centre being run by Dr Laxmi Garg was not authorised for medical termination of pregnancy.

A foetus, which was about 14 weeks old and allegedly thrown by Dr Laxmi Garg after carrying out an illegal abortion, was recovered by the police and officials of the Civil Hospital from a garbage dump yesterday.

A local resident, Mr Ashok Kumar, on whose complaint the case was registered against Dr Laxmi Garg, alleged that the foetus was thrown by Champa, working in the maternity centre.


Every third TB patient in world is Indian, says expert
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 7
Every third tuberculosis (TB) patient in the world is an Indian and the country has 15 million TB patients.
This was stated by Dr Surinder Singla, a TB and chest diseases specialist and medical officer in-charge, District TB Control (MO-DTC), Sangrur, while addressing a TB awareness camp, organised at Cheema village, near Sunam on Thursday.

Dr Singla said TB was fully curable but delayed diagnosis, inadequate treatment and discontinuation of treatment by patients were the major factors which made it a fatal disease.

Dr Singla told the gathering that TB was a big hurdle in the social and economic development of the country as every year more than 17 crore man days were lost due to sickness. Under the revised national TB Control Programme (RNTCP), diagnosis and treatment of the TB patients was free of cost. He urged the gathering to motivate suspected TB patients to get themselves examined.

Dr Sanjeev Aggarwal, medical officer and in-charge, rural hospital, Cheema, urged the gathering to take advantage of the RNTCP to check TB.


Council plans to build colony under town planning scheme
Lalit Mohan

Nangal (Ropar), February 8
The local municipal council has recently passed a resolution 156 declaring about 2 acre in the Sharma store area of Nangal as an unbuilt area. The case on the plea of owner of the land was being sent to the Director, Local Government, for taking the area under the town planning scheme.

However, the area that has been declared as unbuilt was actually a half-built colony developed by the private developer, who has already erected street lights and constructed roads in the colony. Sources said even some of the plots had been sold. Some of the councillors in order to extend under favour to developers got the resolution passed. They also got the area declared as an unbuilt area for covering it under the town planning scheme. Once covered under this scheme the entire developmental work would be done at the expense of the local municipal council. The people who buy land or plots in the area would have to give the development charges. The developers would sell the same at hiked up prices by just leaving 25 per cent land for development. The sources said the town planning scheme was passed in areas where its benefit was extended to a large number of people. As per the rules the council could not take area as small as 2 acres and that also owned a single person under scheme.

The said undeveloped colony had been under controversy for the past few months. Initially the developers of the colony sold the plots on the plea that it would be approved by PUDA. The initial plans of the colony submitted by the developers for approval of the Nangal council were rejected by officials concerned.

However, despite the rejection of the plans by the council developers went on to develop the area as the colony and even sold some plots. Now despite the fact that all work of the colony was being carried under the nose of the council authorities and they had rejected its initial plans, the resolution declaring the colony as un built area has been passed by the ruling party councillors.

The sources said the move of the authorities to get the half-built colony covered under town planning scheme would help the developers sway the gullible investors. Moreover, if covered under the town planning scheme it would prove as an undue favour to a single person at the cost of public money.


Mann for reprieve to Sikh prisoners

Phagwara, February 8
Akali Dal (Amritsar) President Simranjit Singh Mann, in a letter to Deputy Prime Minister L.K. Advani, has demanded presidential reprieve to all Sikh prisoners, whether convicted or under trial, without ascertaining the gravity of their alleged crimes and applying the same principle as was applied in case of Mr Peter Bleach, a foreigner.

It British arms dealer Peter Bleach, who was serving a life sentence for his involvement in the 1995 Purulia arms drop case, could be released from Alipur Jail on February 4 after presidential remission of the remainder of his sentence, why could Indian Sikhs languishing in jails for the past about two decades not be released in the same manner, asked Mr Mann.

Mr Mann urged Mr Advani to recommend to the President a reprieve for the Sikh detainees, including Prof Davinderpal Singh Bhullar and Mr Ranjit Singh Gill in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, and Mr Daljit Singh Bittu in Nabha jail in Punjab. — OC


Infiltration on, says Mangat Ram
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 8
The Deputy Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir, Mr Mangat Ram Sharma, today said that cross-border infiltration in the valley was still on and terrorist training camps in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir were intact.

Mr Sharma was in the city to attend a function on the death anniversary of a Punjab Congress leader, Master Gurbanta Singh, father of state Local Bodies Minister Choudhary Jagjit Singh.

Supporting the healing-touch policy of the state government, the Deputy Chief Minister said there was considerable decline in the terrorist activities in the valley. 


Brahmin Sabha oppose reservation
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 8
The Punjab Brahmin Sabha has opposed the 85th amendment and urged the Chief Minister not to implement it till the Supreme Court decides on it. A resolution in this regard was passed unanimously at a state-level meeting of the sabha held at Sirhind city today. The meeting was organised by district unit of the sabha and presided over by Mr C.D.Shashtri, state president. Hundreds of delegates from all districts of the state participated.

Addressing the delegates, Mr C.D. Shashtri said the sabha was against the reservation. If the government wanted to help the weaker section, it must provide all facilities to them. It was unfortunate that the recruitment was not being made as per merit and ability but on the basis of caste. He said a student belonging to general category, having more than 70 per cent marks was denied admission to various professional courses, whereas a student belonging to a reserved caste having much less marks was preferred.

He also urged the government not to change the name of Ram Tirath at Amritsar. A state-level Parshuram Jyanti would be celebrated at Hatti, near Phagwara on April 22.

Mrs Parveen Dutta, state president of the ladies wing of the sabha, Mr D.D. Sharma and Mr R.N. Sharma, District president and secretary, respectively, Mr Sanjeev Sharma, Mr Madan Lal Prashar of Amritsar and Mr Gian Chand Sharma of Sangrur also spoke.


Pak poets arrive
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 8
Ten Pakistan poets arrived here via the Wagah land route to participate in a kavi darbar to be held in New Delhi on February 15.
Talking to mediapersons here, the leader of the delegation, Mr Azas-Ul-Naz said famous poets, singers, artists, quawals from both India and Pakistan would perform at the mushaira. The idea was to present the common culture of both nations, he added.

Mr Naz said during their stay they would also visit Jaipur, Agra and Ajmer Sharif besides participating in a kavi darbar at ‘Dhudike’ village in Punjab. The delegation includes Aslam Muhmmad, Iqbal Jahangir, Rafiq, poetess Khalid Mohammad Rasiq, Ahmad Hussain, Yashin Ahmad Khan, Salim Anjum and Mustaq Ahmad.

Another 15-member delegation of lawyers arrived to participate in a meeting to be held by the Bar Council of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in Chandigarh. The delegation is headed by Mr Ahmad Sayad. 


Milk coolers for coop societies
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 8
The Punjab government will provide bulk milk coolers at a cost of Rs 3 crore to milk cooperative societies with the aim of ensuring bacteria-free supply of the commodity.

To begin with, the scheme will be implemented as a pilot project in Ropar district under which the coolers will be provided to 50 cooperative societies. The cost of each milk cooler will be between Rs 6 lakh and Rs 8 lakh with a capacity of 1,000 litres to 2,000 litres.

Stating this at an animal welfare and awareness camp held at Teur village, near here, yesterday, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, Minister for Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development, said these coolers would be provided to those cooperative societies which collected at least 500 litres of milk daily. The coolers would be given at a subsidy of 33 per cent. The rest of the amount would be in the form of a loan on easy terms.

The minister said the scheme would benefit 250 villages in the district. It would be extended to other districts next year.

He said the Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had announced the decision to set up Guru Angad Dev University of Animal Sciences. This would prove beneficial as new programmes would be introduced and lead to more young persons becoming veterinary graduates.

The Director of the Animal Husbandry Department, Dr B.S. Sidhu, said a kisan call centre had been set up in Chandigarh to help farmers solve their problems.

The Deputy Director, Animal Husbandry, Dr Ram Singh, said 337 animals were treated free of cost at the camp.


Repair of Pohewa road begins
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 8
State Finance Minister Lal Singh today initiated repair work from the Patiala-Pohewa road to Lelena village.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Lal Singh said the repair work of the road would be completed before April 13. He said nearly Rs 16.50 lakh would be spent for the renovation work. In addition, Rs 261 crore would be spent to provide round-the-clock electricity supply to various village of the state, he added.

On the occasion, Mr Lal Singh also presented a cheque of Rs 1 lakh for the repair work of various roads of the village. He also granted Rs 20,000 for the school in the village and added that the middle school would be upgraded shortly.

Mr Gurpreet Singh, Mr Lakwinder Singh, Mr Naseb Singh and Mr Jasbir Singh were also present on the occasion.


Houses allotted to 30 policemen
Tribune News Service

Mohali, February 8
After years of wait, 30 houses in the newly built Punjab Police Housing Corporation (PPHC) Colony in Sector 68 were allotted to policemen serving in Ropar. The Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) Ropar, Mr S.P. Singh, allotted the houses at a special ceremony conducted for the draw of lots today.

Out of a total of 118 houses constructed by the corporation in Sector 68, here, only 30 had been set aside for Ropar district police personnel. While three of these houses were converted into the Sohana police station, one was allotted for the residence of the SHO, Sohana, and another for the munshi. Another house was allotted for the DSP, Mohali. Three houses were set aside as the SSP’s quota and the rest were allotted after a draw of lots.

Many of the police personnel at the function complained that a large number of houses in the Phase VIII and Phase I police stations campus were occupied by policemen not serving in the area.


He’s nuts over bolts

Amritsar, February 8
Although dhaba owner Surinder Kumar offers his customers with mouth-watering dishes, he prefers to eat iron himself. The 48-year-old Amritsar resident has been eating nut-bolts, pins, iron nails, rivets and zip locks for the past three years.

He has been having the “iron feast” at least once a day and gobbles down nearly 15 coins, nails and zip locks in a day. Inspired by another iron eater Jagir Singh, Surinder wants to get his name registered in the Guinness Book of World Records by eating a scooter. He claimed that doctors had not found anything abnormal with him and he was absolutely healthy. — ANI


Arhtias seek commission hike
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 8
The Federation of Arhtia Association, Punjab has demanded an increase in the commission on left-out agricultural produce and the abolition of market fee on petty agricultural produces. A memorandum in this regard was submitted to the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, recently.

The president of the association, Mr Bal Krishan Singla, said the work of loading in the mandis should be given to the labourers who were already working in the mandis and the contract system should be abolished. 


53 cases settled at Lok Adalat
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 8
A quarterly Lok Adalat was held in the Sessions Court complex here yesterday, in which 53 cases relating to motor accident claims, matrimonial, civil suits, executions and criminal were taken up. As many as 31 cases were disposed of and a sum of Rs 1,61,800 was settled.

Mr Harbans Lal, District and Sessions Judge, Hoshiarpur, said in this Session division, prior to this, 97 Lok Adalats had been organised by the District Legal Services Authority in which 12,583 cases were disposed of and a sum of Rs 26,86,75,871 had been settled. He emphasised the need to resolve disputes through Lok Adalats as per the provisions of Legal Services Authority Act 1987, as it saved time and money wasted in protracted litigatin between the parties.


2,080 traffic challans settled
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 8
As many as 2,080 traffic challans were settled while more than Rs 1.6 lakh was recovered as fine during a special lok adalat held at district courts complex here today.

The acting Chairman of the Punjab Legal Services Authority Justice H.S. Bedi and Legal Remembrance M.M. Aggarwal inspected the functioning of 35 Benches, constituted to settle more than 18,500 traffic challans.

The Chairman of the District Legal Services Authority, Mr S.N. Aggarwal, said 6,321 persons could be delivered summons to attend the proceedings of the lok adalat, which would be made regular feature to provide immediate justice to the litigants.

He said Rs 1,60,385 was recovered as fine while settling 2,080 cases during the day-long lok adalat.


2 brothers held for woman’s murder
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 8
The police has solved the murder of 36-year-old Neetu, which took place in the city on February 4, with the arrest of two brothers.
Neetu, mother of two girls and wife of a bank employee, Mr Mohan Lal, was found murdered by her husband when he came home from the bank.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, at a press conference here today, said Devinder Singh, alias Deepu, and Surinder Singh, who were the victim’s family friends, committed the murder in a filmy style.

The suspects, who had done some wood work in the house of Mr Mohan Lal, went there with the purpose of looting it on February 4. They took some sweets containing a sedative with them and told Mr Mohan Lal’s wife, whom they used to address as maami, that they had got a new job. Not suspecting any foul play, Neetu ate the sweets. They tried to electrocute her and later stabbed her to death.

Both Devinder Singh and Surinder Singh have confessed to their crime. Mr Kapil Dev said jewellery and cash looted by the suspects had been recovered.


Dalit raped, dies
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 8
A Scheduled Caste school going girl of village Harrangpura of this district was allegedly raped by another Scheduled Caste resident of the same village today afternoon.

The victim died under mysterious circumstances few hours after she was raped by Baljit Singh, a 25-year-old youth living in the neighbourhood of the victim.

On reaching home the 14-year-old girl was raped, froth started coming out from her mouth. Her family members took her to a private hospital in the town where she died in few hours.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said the accused had managed to escape from the village.

Mr Nilabh Kishore, SP, City, said that a case in this connection would be registered in the cantonment police station.


Couple booked for faking kidnap

Fatehgarh, February 8
The district police has arrested Sukhpreet Kaur and her husband Ravinder Singh, a resident of Badinpur in the district working as a travel agent, allegedly for misguiding the police by enacting a drama of fake kidnapping just to get their customers, who had been demanding the money they had given them for going abroad, booked. The police has registered a case under Sections 420 and 120B of the IPC against four persons. While these two have been arrested, two are still at large.

Addressing a press conference here yesterday, Mr Shiv Kumar, SSP, said a few days ago Sukhpreet Kaur came with an application recommended by Maharani Preneet Kaur to his office, alleging that her husband had been kidnapped by Lakhbir Singh, Surjit Singh and Gurmeet Singh, all residents of Pandori village under the Lopoke police station in Amritsar district. They were demanding Rs 15 lakh as ransom to free him.

The SSP said he got a case registered and sent a police party to Amritsar. The police arrested the alleged kidnappers and recovered her husband Ravinder Singh.

He said during interrogation of the alleged kidnappers, it was established that they had not kidnapped him. Rather they had given Rs 5.5 lakh each to him for going abroad. Ravinder Singh neither sent them abroad nor returned their money. To get them booked in a kidnapping case, he, along with his wife and two accomplices Garish Kumar and Surinder Singh, hatched a conspiracy. The police has cancelled the first FIR registered against the alleged kidnappers and a fresh case against the couple and their two accomplices has been registered. — OC


ICAR order not implemented
Raising retiring age to 62 years
K.S. Chawla

LUDHIANA: The Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR) has asked all state agricultural universities to enhance the age of retirement of the teachers from 60 to 62 years. This order is effective from October 31, 2003.

The above decision is applicable to all serving teachers/scientists, besides those due to retire on October 31, 2003. It will not be applicable to teachers/scientists who have retired and those who are on extension/re-employment.

Inquiries made by The Tribune reveal that the PAU authorities apprised the Punjab Government of the latest communication of the ICAR, enhancing the age of retirement to 62 years. The PAU authorities have written to the government, pointing out that vide its notification of 27.4.99 revising the pay scales of teachers of Punjab Agricultural University with effect from January 1, 1996, it had not agreed to increase their age of superannuation from 60 to 62 years.

The PAU authorities have requested the government to take a decision in view of the latest order. The Punjab Government has asked the PAU authorities to inform it about the finance liability arising out of this decision.

Inquiries reveal that 86 per cent of the total budget of the university is spent on salaries. The entire funding is done by the government, without any contribution from the ICAR. The ICAR provides grants for development works and teaching facilities only.

None of the state agricultural universities, including those in Haryana and Himachal, has implemented this decision so far.

The state governments are reportedly reluctant to implement the ICAR directive in view of the financial constraints. The PAU currently has 1254 teachers.

Dr A.S. Joshi, President of the Punjab Agricultural University Teachers Association, said a deputation had met Chief Secretary J.S. Gill, seeking early implementation of the ICAR directions. The Chief Secretary assured the delegation that the government would take a decision in this regard soon.


50 papers presented at science congress
Pawan Kumar

Amritsar, February 8
On the second day of seventh Punjab Science Congress more than 50 research papers were presented and young scientist competitions were held for the Young Scientist Award to be presented on February 9 at Guru Nanak Dev University here today. The convention is being held by the Human Genetics Department of Guru Nanak Dev University.

Dr SC Saxena, Director, Thapar Institute, Patiala presented the plenary talk while eminent eye surgeon Dr Daljit Singh chaired the scientific session. Dr Saxena said by 2010 a new class of chips, based on biomolecules like DNA, are speculated to replace the semi-conductors. He stressed upon the need to utilise information and communication technologies to serve humanity.


New course in sports sciences
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 8
As many as 160 students received graduation degrees at the convocation held at Guru Nanak College here today.
Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor of Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, was the chief guest while Punjabi writer Prof Piara Singh Bhogal was the guest of honour.

The Vice-Chancellor, speaking to mediapersons, said a five-year masters in sports sciences integrated course would be introduced from the next academic session in the university. It would be different from MPEd or MA in physical education, as it would have a scientific and technological approach, both in theory and practical, he added. 


Computer education to be imparted in govt schools
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 8
The Minister of State for Education Punjab, Prof Darbari Lal, here today stated that the Punjab Government had prepared a project for imparting computer education to students in government schools to enable them to measure up to the new age hi-tech requirements of the job market at home and abroad.

Talking to newsmen here this afternoon after distributing prizes to winners of the sub-junior wrestling championship, Prof Darbari Lal informed that under the first phase, computers and teachers would be provided to government schools having strength of 1000 students.

Prof Darbari Lal declared that priority would be given to proper stationing of women teachers. In case of the marriage of a woman teacher, she would be posted at a school near her in-laws within one month of her marriage under the concession given to couple cases. 


Father complains against school
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 8
A resident of Mundi Kharar has complained to the SDM that a local school is not allowing his two children to attend classes without assigning any reason.
Mr Harcharan Singh complained in writing that his daughter was studying in Class VII and his son in Class IX at APJ Public School. He said on January 21 they were asked to go home from the school. Later the children were taken twice to the school but were not permitted to attend classes. He complained that his children’s studies were suffering as a result of the school’s action.

However, school principal, Mr Jasvir Chander, told Chandigarh Tribune today that the two students recently remained absent from school for a long period. He had urged their parents to give an application in this regard but they had not done so.

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