P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Panchayats Director goes on leave
Refuses to issue appointment letters
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
All of a sudden, Director of Rural Development and Panchayats, Punjab, Mr Sarup Singh Dhillon, today proceeded on leave. He, according to informs sources, did not agree the way the state government wanted him to issue appointment letters to 909 panchayat secretaries. He has been replaced by Mr S.R. Ladher, an IAS officer, who had held the post for a few months earlier.

Informed sources said the government authorities concerned wanted him to issue appointment letters to 909 panchayat secretaries, who were removed from service following an inquiry conducted by the then Administrative Secretary, Mr P. Ram, on the orders of the Punjab and Haryana High Court.

Following pressure from the party high command, the Rural Development and Panchayats Minister, Mrs Rajinder Kzaur Bhattal, had last week assured in writing to these panchayat secretaries that they would be given appointment letters soon. Even this issue was informally discussed at the last meeting of the Council of Ministers on January 20. It was opined that panchayat secretaries should be accommodated by making some “stop gap” arrangement.

However, refusing to go beyond the rules in the case, the authorities concerned referred the case of the panchayat secrearies to the personnel department which made it clear that there was no government policy to appoint them on ad hoc basis. In case, appointments are to be made on an ad-hoc basis, the necessary amendment should be made in the policy. Following a flat no from the personnel department for allowing ad hoc appointments, another option to appoint them on contract basis has also been examined.

But the authorities concerned have said that it would also not be legally tenable to appoint these secretaries on a contract basis. This would result in the other 3000, who had cleared the test conducted for recruitment, also asking that they should also be considered for appointment on contract basis.

The other main objection that has been raised by the authorities concerned is that when the selection itself has been undone on the basis of the inquiry which held it as “vitiated” and which was endorsed by the High Court, giving any appointment letter whether on contract or on ad hoc basis or in any other form would be violative of the government policy and rules. The officers concerned have cited the legal opinion given by the Advocate-General and Additional General in this connection. The Additional Advocate-General had recorded that “it would be blatantly wrong” to make the appointments.

Officers have told the political executive to first remove all these legal impediments before issuing any appointment letters so that the panchayat secretaries concerned do not face any legal problem or other harassment.


Sacked Panchayat Secys plan dharna
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The 909 Sacked Panchayat Secretaries Union said here today that it would start a dharna in front of the residence of Mrs Sonia Gandhi, President of the All-India Congress Committee in Delhi if the appointment letters were not given to sacked Panchayat Secretaries within two days by the Punjab Government.

A spokesman for the union said though the Punjab Government had assured them of issuing the appointment letters last week, the promise had not been kept.


Elected on fake name
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, February 10
Call it negligence or connivance, Gura Singh, a resident of Kaile Bandar village, who is facing two criminal cases, managed to get himself elected as a panchayat member, besides getting an arms licence on a fake name.

Earlier, Gura Singh had undergone imprisonment for an offence.

Sources said Gura Singh got the arms licence in the name of Gura Ditta Singh. He got himself registered as voter twice, once under the name of Gura Singh and the other time as Gura Ditta Singh.

Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said a case under Sections 465 and 468 of the IPC had been registered in this regard.


Punjab gears up for Lok Sabha poll
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
As political parties in Punjab gear up for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections, the bureaucracy is busy reshuffling field officers who are either in their home districts or have completed four-year stay at one place.

While Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh was in Delhi for preliminary discussions with President, Sonia Gandhi on the selection of candidates and poll tie-ups with other political parties, the SAD was also engaged in a similar exercise. The Congress and the SAD are both keen to woo the BSP.

SAD General Secretary, Kanwaljit Singh told The Tribune today that the SAD was politically more “comfortable” than the Congress. Therefore, while selecting candidates, “winnability” will count more than the number of seats the party would concede to its poll-allies.

The election manifesto, he said, would be a mix of local and national issues. ‘’For us, national political and economic stability is as imperative as providing bread and butter to the people. Punjab will be a major beneficiary of any initiative that will improve relations between India and Pakistan and bring stability and peace to the subcontinent. Therefore, the initiative taken by the Prime Minister on India-Pakistan will be a major poll plank’’.

Second, the SAD would focus on the ‘’non-performance’’ of the Amarinder Singh Government Capt Kanwaljit Singh said, ‘’We have enough political gunpowder to fire at the Congress on corruption’’. The Congress, however, may still cling to corruption as an election issue and blame the previous Akali-BJP Government as well as the NDA.

Analysing the factors that led to the Akali Dal defeat in the 1999 Lok Sabha election and the 2002, Assembly elections Capt Kanwaljit Singh admitted that besides the ‘’anti-incumbency’’ factor, divisions within the Akali Dal and the wrong selection of candidates in several Vidhan Sabha constituencies had also played a part. ‘’Now it is different. Even the infighting in the Congress is an electoral advantage for us’’.

The Congress, on the other hand, faced an uphill task in selecting the candidates. Capt Amarinder Singh has left the final choice of candidates to Ms Gandhi.

The Congress Government was also faced with an acute financial crisis. It had a difficult balancing act to perform. On the one hand, it was keen to implement its own ‘’reform’’ agenda while on the other, it wanted to announce ‘’populist’’ measures to woo Dalits, Schedules Castes etc. It is because of such considerations that the Congress has decided to seek only a vote on account in the budget session later this month.

On the vote-on-account, Capt Kanwaljit Singh, who was the Finance Minister from 1997-2002, said the past two Congress Budgets were “worthless”. Even the promised budgetary allocations were not released for the intended projects. The government had also to borrow Rs 600 crore from a bank to pay salaries.

A finance department official said: ‘’With the elections round the corner, the government cannot be expected to risk taking any steps for additional resource mobilisation to keep at bay a situation which may call for declaring financial emergency’’.

However, the official argument for a vote on account was different. It was that the government had appointed a committee, headed by Planning Board Vice-Chairman S.S. Johl to suggest measures to improve financial health. Its report was expected only toward the end of February. Therefore, due to the elections a proper budget could not be presented to the Vidhan Sabha.


Congress observer meets workers
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 10
Hundreds of Congress workers, including supporters of Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, former MP, and Mr Romesh Chander Dogra, Health and Family Welfare Minister, Punjab, thronged the office of the District Congress Committee on the arrival of Mr Lalit Jain, Congress observer for 8 parliamentary constituencies of Punjab, this afternoon.

Mr Jain met office-bearers of the block Congress committees separately.

Talking to mediapersons, he said the purpose of his visit was to assess the working of the Congress, relations between the government and workers and the choice for candidates for ticket.

During his meeting with Congress workers at Nawanshahr and Hoshiarpur, many of them complained against the functioning of the Congress government in the state.

Mr Jain said he would visit all 8 parliamentary constituencies within a week and would submit his report to the Congress high command within a fortnight.

He made it clear that the Congress would contest from the Hoshiarpur parliamentary constituency even if it had an alliance with the BSP.


BJP: no chance of SAD-BSP pact
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 10
A former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader, Mr Balramji Dass Tandon today said there was no possibility of the Shiromani Akali Dal, BJP’s alliance partner, having a truck with the Bahujan Samaj Party in the state.

Talking to mediapersons at Circuit House here, Mr Tandon said since the SAD was projecting Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee as the next Prime Minister, there was no possibility of the SAD leadership striking an alliance with the BSP.


Dr Verma alleges vendetta
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 10
Terming his suspension as an instance of vindictive attitude of the varsity Dr Hemraj Verma today dismissed as baseless the charge of `undue harassment levelled against him by a former research fellow. Dr Verma, who teaches Physics, was suspended two days ago after a fact finding committee submitted its report in this regard.

Commenting on his suspension Dr Verma stated that the varsity had treated him as a ‘scapegoat’ as the authorities wanted to remove his name from the list of candidates who are eligible for the post of Registrar in the varsity applications for which had been invited through an advertisement by the university.

He added that another ‘irritant’ was the petition he had filed against the varsity regarding the ‘delay’ in his promotion as Professor.

He stated that the suspension was aimed at debarring him both from the headship of the Physics Department of the varsity and Registrarship. Dr Verma added that the candidate had not appeared in person before the committee and the purpose of her allegation was to obtain a migration certificate without obtaining clearance regarding research material. He also said that the research work submitted by the former research fellow was not up to the mark and that her publications in various journals were not concerned to the subject of her thesis.

Dr Verma claimed that he was promoted as a Professor in the Physics Department through the Merit Promotion Scheme and that he had represented the varsity abroad due to his post doctoral positions both at Uppsala University(Sweden) in 83-84 and at Ritsumeikan University (Japan) besides carrying out various research projects. he also objected to the decision taken by the committee saying that it was headed by a non-Ph.D academic not connected with the subject of Physics.

Varsity spokesperson Dr B.S. Sandhu, however, denied the statement of Dr Verma. He said that the petition referred to had been made not by Dr Verma alone but by a number of teachers.

Dr Sandhu said that the context of the case had been the grant of seniority and that had since been settled. On application for the post of Registrar of the varsity, he replied that 25 applicants had applied for the same and that the varsity did not have any grouse against Dr Verma to exclude his claim to the post.

Explaining that the documents submitted by former research fellow Puneeta Verma who is currently on study leave and working as a Scientific Assistant at GSI (Heavy Ion Research Centre) in Germany under noted international nuclear scientist P. Mokelar, had been scrutanised by a panel of academics including an expert in Physics, Dr Sandhu stated that the committee was unanimous that the thesis had been ‘deliberately’ delayed.


French Minister’s assurance on turban
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 10
French Foreign Minister has given an assurance to a delegation of Sikhs that the ban on turban would be looked into.

Mr Chain Singh, president of Singh Sabha Gurdwara in France and senior leader of the SAD (Amritsar) stated today after arrival from France.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann and other senior leaders of the SAD (A) were also present at the press conference.

He, however, clarified that the French government would enact the law but the government had assured them to discuss the matter of turban with representatives of Sikh community there.

Mr Chain Singh expressed disillusionment with the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which had failed to take up the issue of turban in schools of France.

He said that the Sikhs settled in that country had brought to the notice of SGPC authorities about the ban a long time ago, but it (SGPC) failed to take any corrective measures. He said the schools and colleges situated near the gurdwaras where Sikh students were pursuing the study, the gurdwara managements there convinced school authorities on the Sikh religious symbols and managed permission for Sikh students to wear turban.

He said the SGPC was giving statements without consulting the Sikh community in France and also lacked direct coordination with them.

Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, president, SAD (A) said that the matter was raised in Parliament and had put questions to Mr Yashwant Sinha Foreign Minister who failed to give any convincing reply. He criticised the silence of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Union Minister and Mr Parkash Singh Badal over the issue.


When PSEB cheated consumers of crores
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 10
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for years has been charging meter security and allegedly not providing meters to the consumers, forcing them to buy the meters from private sellers.

On an average, 1 lakh new connections are given each year. However, the past about five years the board has had no three or single-phase meters, reveal sources in the PSEB.

The supply of meters to consumers started only in December last year, when after a gap of five years the board initiated the purchase of about 5 lakh meters in a phased manner under the Accelerated Power Development Related Programme, it is learnt.

The PSEB, according to sources, had no meters for about five years, during which period consumers had to shell out the requisite security amount but had to purchase the meter from the market — often at almost double the rates as compared to those fixed by the board.

Even as two circulars of the board issued in December fixed the price of a three-phase static meter at Rs 573.75 and that of a single-phase meter at Rs 298.75, these were being sold at a much higher price in the market.

Sources point out a three-phase meter was available in the price range of Rs 1500-2500 in the market — the charges were mostly under such heads as testing, obtaining of test report and clearing of papers. A single-phase meter was available for Rs 700-900.

According to an official’s estimate, if one lakh consumers (domestic and commercial) had to purchase meters at an average price of Rs 1,000 per meter, they shelled out a whopping Rs 1 crore in one year. And this went on for five years.

The PSEB, meanwhile, was collecting its meter security to the tune of crores of rupees without supplying meters.

The loot does not stop here. Consumers have been denied the benefit of the five-year warranty (if the meter is supplied by the PSEB which the board gets on meters from the supplier. In case a meter develops a fault before the expiry of the warranty, the PSEB authorities usually deduct half the cost of the meter again from the consumer. The PSEB purchase order-cum-agreement has a clause ensuring a five-year warranty cover from the supplier.

Admitting the problems, the Council of Junior Engineers of the PSEB says a more transparent system is needed as such ambiguities bring a bad name to board officials. 


Governor’s call to upgrade education to world standards
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 10
Justice O.P. Verma, Governor, Punjab and Chancellor, Punjabi University, Patiala today said that curriculum and teaching techniques in educational institutions of Punjab should meet of global standards to prepare the youth and students for meeting challenges of the new millennium.

Justice Verma, delivering the convocation address at the DAV college have pointed out that there was a feeling that a progressive state like Punjab might lag behind other states in the field of education, especially in the field of technologies like information technology and biotechnology: “ We must not let this happen. It is imperative that we prepare our youths to meet the challenges.”

Urging the students to imbibe tolerance and truthful living to enrich variegated culture of India, he pointed out that for development, progress and bright future of the country, it was essential to accord a place of pride and priority to education. He added that the country needed educated as well as good citizens.

“The world today is emerging as a global village. Physical boundaries between the countries for the purpose of trade and commerce have vanished. The integration of economies has thrown up challenges and opportunities. In such a situation, we will have to work hard to make every institute as a centre of excellence and the very best in the world. Only then we can legitimately call ourselves great when the standards set by us will be emulated by the rest of world,” he said.

He added that India was “shining” today and was on the threshold of greatness. This had happened due to those, who had toiled in factories, academics and research institutes. It was also equally due to the foresight of forefathers, who laid the foundation of a free democratic India in which each individual could make use of his talent regardless of colour, caste or creed. He said that now it was duty of the students and youths to protect and keep alive these traditions.

The Governor pointed out that today, DAV education movement had grown to become the largest private educational organisation in the country having network of 800 educational institutions covering all fields of education. He added that DAV college here was also known for academic excellence and over the years it had become a nursery of doctors and engineers.

Earlier, Justice Verma conferred degrees on 417 students of the college.

Mr K.A.P. Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, Mr D. K. Tiwari, Commissioner, Municipal Corporation and Mr Chiranji Lal Garg, former Akali minister were present on the occasion.


Octroi company booked for fraud
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 10
Though the district police has registered a case against Kirpal Singh and Company, octroi contractor of Municipal Council Sirhind-Fatehgarh Sahib dated 6.2.04, on the recommendation of Punjab Government allegedly for cheating the government. The company had allegedly pocketed the money collected from vehicle owners by issuing fake transit passes, yet none of the partners of the company has been arrested. The SSP has marked an inquiry to the Economical Offences Wing of the district police.

According to sources the identity of the partners of the Octroi contractor has surprised every one in the town and the wing has established the identity of only five partners out of seven and the police had succeeded in identifying Kirpal Singh on whose name the company had been formed, after a great struggle.

Interestingly, he is a disciple of a saint at religious dera at Uski Didhar near Maloud in Ludhiana district. Other partners who have been identified, include a Home Guard Constable with Railway Police, a student of B. Com a brother-in-law of a Councillor and a mechanic.

According to sources Kirpal Singh and others have absconded and some political leaders of the ruling party have started mounting pressure not to take further action.

The district Beopar Mandal president Mr Varinder Rattan and Mr Amarjit Singh Dhingra General Secretary, DCC has claimed that the identity of the partners had revealed the truth about the proxy owners of the octroi contract company. They said that it was not possible for a student, saint, home guard jawan and a mechanic to take the contract worth crores of rupees and to run such a huge business. They urged the Chief Minister to order a probe and the results would strengthen his campaign against corruption. They also urged the Income Tax Department to intervene and to identify the real owners of the company.


Report on Khalsa Diwan members not final,
says Dr Kapur
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 10
The administrator of Chief Khalsa Diwan (CKD), Dr Prithipal Singh Kapur today claimed that the ‘draft’ recommending the revocation of the suspension of 284 members, prepared by Justice R.S. Narula and Justice Kuldip Singh was not accepted by other members of the sub-committee, constituted by the Sikh clergy.

Dr Kapur who was also a member of the sub-committee, constituted by Akal Takht told The Tribune here today that the Sikh high priests were not bound to accept the recommendations of the panel. Jathedar, Akal Takht was competent to reject or accept the recommendations, he said.

He said that at the meeting of the five-member panel at New Delhi, it was decided on oath that the proceedings would remain confidential, However, Justice Narula had violated it (oath) by ‘leaking’ the draft. He, however, said that the views expressed by Justice Narula about the holding of elections or revoking the suspension of 284 members were his (Justice Narula’s) personal views. He said the role of the panel was to create conducive atmosphere in the CKD so that its elections could be held in cordial conditions.


160 diarrhoea cases reported
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, February 10
More than 160 cases of diarrhoea were reported from the city today. The health authorities claim that these were mild cases and no hospital admissions had been done so far.

Dr Ajit Singh Chawla, District Epidemiologist, when contacted, said the cases had been reported from Hargobindnagar, Near Hero Cycles. A majority of the victims were said to be small children and the condition of all these was stable.

A team of health officials, led by Civil Surgeon Dr S.N. Tiwari, visited the affected area late in the evening to take stock of the situation. Mr Chawla informed that contaminated water could be the reason behind the diarrhoea cases. “We have taken four water samples from the area. The exact cause behind the outbreak could be known once we get the report of water samples. There is, however, no need to panic”, he said.


Pak women lawyers for peaceful co-existence
Gurvinder Kaur

Patiala, February 10
An interaction with four women lawyers from the Lahore High Court, Pakistan, is enough to efface the impression of meek, self-effacing womanhood normally associated with most Islamic countries. These lawyers are part of a 15-member delegation of lawyers from across the border who are here on a goodwill mission.

The women lawyers are not hesitant to express their feelings about the relations between India and Pakistan and give vent to their emotions without bothering about the political correctness of their comments. “I cannot adhere to the sentiment expressed by some people who advocate that both the nations are one and should be reunited. Both India and Pakistan are seperate entities and this fact should be respected by all. It’s only love and a feeling of brotherhood that should deepen”, says advocate Saeeda Butt.

The lawyers say that the affection showered upon them ever since their arrival has been overwhelming. Advocate Shams-ul-Qamar says in a lighter vein: “The only major difference I have found here is that there is too much of ‘paneer’ around whereas in Pakistan there is a surfeit of ‘gosht’”. Shams, whose ancestors belong to the Gurdaspur, the Batala area of Indian Punjab, is also intrigued by the simplicity of the women she has seen so far. “Why, there is hardly anyone around who even remotely resembles the glamorous females portrayed in your soaps”, she chuckles.

Sheema Malik, however, turns sombre when she asks, “Why cannot both the countries accept peaceful coexistence with each other? The focus should not be on what has happened in the past but on how to enrich and strengthen the relations now”. She also dismisses the notion that most Pakistani women can only be seen and not heard. “I am single, living alone for the past many years and have yet to encounter any problem regarding my situation”, she adds.

Advocate Azra Israr muses over the fact that when both East and West Germany and the whole of Europe can be unified with free right of passage given to all their citizens, both the countries can emulate these examples, if only they try hard enough.

What these women are most vocal about are the visa restrictions encountered by people on entering the country. Some of them have their roots here and will like to have a look at their native places. However, in the wake of the restricted visas granted to them, it does not seem possible. For a start, they feel that some groups of professionals and artists could be exempted from the red tape.

As they prepare to leave for Delhi, one message comes across strongly which is vocalised by Shams-ul-Qamar, “The world now is a global village and the only way to live in harmony is to love and respect each other and that is precisely why we are here — to spread a message of love”


NRI lays stone of operation theatre
Our Correspondent

Nawanshahr, February 10
Ms Satpal Kaur, Pandher, an NRI, belonging to Gunachaur village, laid the foundation stone of an operation theatre to be set up at Guru Nanak Mission Hospital, Dhahan Kaleran (Nawanshahr), in memory of her grandmother Punna Devi Gill, yesterday.

Addressing the gathering, Mr Budh Singh Dhahan, founder president Guru Nanak Mission Medical and Educational Trust, Dhahan Kaleran, while thanking the Gill family for providing handsome donations for setting up the intensive care unit and operation theatre said his efforts to mobilise local and NRI philanthropist to serve their community in a planned manner had started yielding results.


Donors seek return of land
Health centre eludes panchayat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
This is the story of Rattewal village in Balachaur subdivision of Nawanshahr district, which dates back to 1986.

Late Baloo Ram Banth, who was elected MLA four times from Balachaur (1952 to 1969) persuaded the village panchayat to donate land for a primary health centre (PHC). Taking the initiative, he donated 1.5 acres while the panchayat made up the rest and 3.5 acres of land was donated for the PHC.

It is 18 years now, but there is no sign of the PHC, as was promised by the government. There is only a small structure on 3.5 acres, housing a rural dispensary.

First it was Mr Banth, who was also a minister in Punjab, and later his son, Mr Om Parkash, who has taken up the cudgels for the setting up of the PHC. But the government has remained unmoved, so far.

Mr Om Parkash told The Tribune that in July 1985, the then Civil Surgeon, Hoshiarpur, wrote to the Rattewal panchayat conveying that funds for the PHC had been provided for in the Budget (1985-86) and sought land from the panchayat. Immediately, 3.5 acres of land were transferred to the Health Department. An MoU was signed by Dr D.P.S. Sandhu, who was then the Senior Medical Officer, Balachaur. He is now the Director, Health and Family Welfare.

The proposed PHC was to be named the Banth Health Centre.

In 1991, the then Civil Surgeon wrote to Mr Baloo Ram, saying that a building had been inspected where the PHC would temporarily shift from Balachaur till the new structure was completed. Nothing happened till 1996, when the government sanctioned Rs 25 lakh. A small part of the building was then constructed and a doctor and two or three health workers started coming there for two or three hours daily.

Soon the construction work stopped with the funds allocated for the PHC having been diverted elsewhere. As of today, the project remains an abandoned child, much to the chagrin of the Rattewal panchayat and the family of late Baloo Ram.

Mr Om Parkash said, the department ultimately expressed helplessness in executing the project, admitting that no staff member was willing to be posted there or to work in Rattewal. Health officials also advised him — “Why don’t the donors seek the land back from the government? We will return it.’’

Terming this lackadaisical attitude as betrayal of the people the panchayat and the family of late Baloo Ram Banth served a legal notice on the Director, Health and Family Welfare. He was asked to either complete and commission the PHC or return the donated land. The two-month notice lapsed on February 6.

Now Rattewal residents propose to file civil and criminal suits in the High Court.


‘Vande Matram’ scheme launched
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 10
More than 200 pregnant women were examined and given medicines free of cost in different private clinics and government hospitals in Faridkot district under the ‘Vande Matram’ scheme sponsored by the Centre in collaboration with Fogsi, a national-level gynaecologists’ association, today.

Inaugurating the scheme at Civil Hospital, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said under the programme all gynaecologists in government and private nursing homes and private clinics would provide full medical care and provide medicines like iron tablets to the needy.

Each beneficiary would be given a ‘Vande Matram’ card to avail of the benefits.


Sikh bodies seek action against pastor
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 10
A number of Sikh organisations have alleged that a pastor of a church at Khojewal village was misguiding poor Sikhs and converting them to Christianity.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Dilbagh Singh Khalsa, chief of the Khalsa Mission Council, Mr Parminder Pal Singh Khalsa, national senior vice-president of the Youth Akali Dal, and Mr Ajit Pal Singh Sethi, president of the All-India Sikh Students Federation, alleged that the pastor had been converting a large number of poor Sikhs of the Mand area.

The Sikh leaders alleged that he had even been detained by the Kapurthala police and “anti-Sikh” posters had been seized from his possession. They said they had been monitoring the activities of the pastor for the past seven months and it had been proved that he had converted more than 200 Sikhs. “We have proof in the form of a CD of the activities of the pastor,” they said, adding that the Khalsa Mission Council would organise a “gurmat samagam” at the village to make the Sikhs aware about the “anti-panthic” activities of the pastor.


Dharna against excise staff
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 10
A large number of residents, including women, of Bath village and Pandori Gola yesterday staged a dharna in front of the local Sadar police station in protest against the harassment of a Amritdhari Dalit Sikh of Bath village.

Mr Pargat Singh Jamarai, Mr Jaspal Singh Dhillon and other leaders of the Communist Party Marxist, Punjab, while addressing the gathering condemned the alleged harassment of the villagers by the ‘armed’ excise staff officials in the area. Harpal Singh, member of the excise staff who allegedly harassed the residents, felt sorry for his behaviour following which the villagers ended the dharna.


LIC staff seek manager’s transfer
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, February 10
Development officers and staff of the local branch of the Life Insurance Corporation today demanded the transfer of Branch Manager T.C. Shinmar for allegedly misbehaving with a woman Development Officer and other members of the staff.

The staff raised slogans against the manager. Development Officer Parveen Ahuja, in a complaint to the Chairman, alleged that the manager often used unparliamentary language and asked her to attend to him at odd hours.

Kapurthala LIC Development Officers Association president Bimal Gautam told mediapersons that development officers and the staff had decided not to resort to work till the manager was transferred. However, Mr Shinmar denied the allegations and said he never misbehaved with any woman employee.

Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Kumar Verma, on a complaint of policy-holder alleging misbehaviour with them, has written to the LIC Chairman for action against the manager.


IT teams conduct surveys
Tribune News Service

Mansa, February 10
Seven teams of income tax officials today conducted surveys on the premises of rice mill owners, commission agents, private medical practitioners, colonisers and real estate dealers of Mansa and Budhlada.

Sources said income tax officials had seized documents pertaining to unaccounted transactions. Some sale deeds were related to residential and commercials plots on the newly developed Arvind Nagar.

Mr L.R. Nayyar, Commissioner, Income Tax, Bathinda, who monitored the surveys said the surveys would make those evading income tax to come forward.

Over the past two to three months, the income tax authorities had been carrying out surveys in Bathinda, Abohar and Malout and had collected Rs 10 crore more in the form of tax as compared to last year’s collection.


High Court
Ascertain conduct breach by Punjab officers,
says Bench
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
In less than a fortnight after a list of members containing names of bureaucrats, police officials or judicial officers was submitted in the Forest Hill Golf and Country Club case, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today asked Union and Punjab governments to ascertain “whether one or more of its employees had committed any apparent breach of code of conduct”.

Taking up the case, the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma, also directed the governments to inform the court about the action they proposed to take “especially when the government of India had already intimated its displeasure and had sought taking of steps against its officials”.

In their detailed 25-page order, the Judges ruled that every government officer, under the rules, was required to maintain absolute integrity at all times and do nothing that was unbecoming of a government employee.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Roy added that the officers, “save as provided under the rules, were required not to accept any gift exceeding a limited value of Rs 500”. They were further required to avoid “lavish or frequent hospitality from individuals having official dealing with them or from industrialists or commercial firms and organisations”.

Referring to a letter received by the Chief Justice in the matter, the Judges also directed that the same should be kept in a sealed cover. The Judges further fixed February 17 as the next date of hearing in the case.

Earlier during the proceedings, counsel for Union of India informed the court that decision had not been taken by the Western Command for providing logistic support to organise a horse show. He, however, sought time for providing firm and categorical information.

The Court, on Monday, was informed that a horse show was being organised at the Club with the help of Indian Army. The club has been involved in a controversy ever since a report appeared in a newspaper claiming that the construction at the club site had been carried out in grave and blatant violation of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 as per Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The story had also stated that a large number of top IAS and IPS officers had either been given honorary membership of the club or were allowed to use the premises and its facilities for private functions.

Fresh decision ordered

Acting on a petition filed by Deputy Superintendent of Punjab Police Puran Singh Purewal, a Division Bench of the High Court, headed by Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy, directed the state and other respondents to objectively consider his plea for security in wake of the jailbreak case.

The Judges also adjourned the case for receiving “objective report”. 


8 companies ordered not to operate bank accounts
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 10
District Magistrate Raminder Singh stopped withdrawal of money by eight companies, from the bank, whose directors or owners were accused of fraud on public and had disappeared.

These, include Sazada Finance Co, Kanwar Palace Shivlaya Road; Majitha Finance Co, Court Road; Rahmet Finance Co, Sharifpura, GT Road; Hilton Finance Co and Investment Limited, near police station sadar; Dhanbir Finance Co, Lawrence Road; Vikas Depositor and Investment Co near bus stand; PS Depositor and Investment Limited Prabhat Finance and Investment Limited both of Kot Khalsa.

The ban has been imposed from February 3 till April 2. The order was passed ex-parte.


Board finds films X-rated

Bathinda, February 10
The issue pertaining to the cancellation of licences of two local cinemas by the then District Magistrate, Mr Anurag Aggarwal, a few months ago for their alleged involvement in screening X-rated films, took a new turn today when the Censor Board, to which the films were sent for examination by the district administration, found these X-rated.

The District Magistrate, Bathinda, while confirming that the Censor Board had found both films X-rated, said action against cinema operators would be taken after a report was received. — TNS


HC stays lecturers’ interviews
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
Taking up a petition challenging the cancellation of selection of college cadre lecturers advertised in 1999-2001, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today stayed the interview process for selecting lecturers in six subjects, including Punjabi.

In their petition, the lecturers had earlier contended that the decision to cancel their selection was misfounded as they had nothing to do with the Punjab Public Service Commission recruitment scam. In fact, former Chairman Ravinder Pal Singh was not directly involved in the process. 


100 illegal structures along highway removed
Our Correspondent

Zirakpur, February 10
More than 100 unauthorised structures, including certain establishments that had come up along the Chandigarh-Ambala and the Chandigarh-Patiala highways here, were removed by the Building and Roads wing of the Punjab Public Works Department (PPWD) today.

A team of the enforcement wing of the department removed the encroachments that include concrete structures, temporary tin sheds, besides electronic goods, building material, vegetable stalls, rehris and certain other goods displayed by the shopkeepers on the highway berms.

The authorities with the help of over six employees cleared the site in presence of the Dera Bassi revenue officials and the Zirakpur Nagar Panchayat authorities. The enforcement team was also assisted by a company of police personnel deployed to avoid any untoward incident during the drive.

Mr P.K. Kalia, Sub-Divisional Engineer (SDO) of the department claimed that the encroachments had virtually taken over the highway. This had not only began causing road congestion but also leading to road accidents for the last a couple of years.

Mr Kalia said the highways had been cleared of the encroachers on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Patiala, who following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana High Court had directed the department to take necessary precautionary measures in reducing road accidents here.

In a similar drive, the encroachments were also removed from the highway in Jharmari village. The enforcement wing of the department (B and R) had directed a liquor shop to shift from the government land while about 10 illegal structures were also removed from the site.

The department will conduct such operations twice a month in Zirakpur, Dera Bassi, Lalru and other areas where the encroachments have mushroomed on PWD land, claimed Mr Kalia.

Meanwhile, the affected shopkeepers of Zirakpur market have expressed their resentment over the anti-encroachment operation saying that their goods worth lakhs of rupees were destroyed by the enforcement wing. 


Probe ordered into encroachments

Ropar, February 10
The chairman of the Ropar district grievances committee, Mr Tej Prakash, Transport Minister of Punjab, today directed the SDM, Kharar, to inquire into the complaints of encroachments on the village common land in the Kharar area. The minister ordered the inquiry in response to the complaints regarding these encroachments. The complaints came up for hearing at the meeting of the district grievances committee. In the complaints, it had been alleged that the village common lands in the Kharar area were not only being encroached upon by influential people but also being sold illegally.

The minister also ordered officials of the district administration to take steps to prevent such encroachments in future.

At the grievances committee meeting, 19 complaints came up for hearing out of the which 11 were redressed on the spot.

In view of the forthcoming Holla Mohalla celebrations, the minister ordered that all roads leading to Anandpur Sahib be repaired. He also said the funds for repairing most of the roads. District had been issued to the PWD authorities. The repair work was likely to be started soon, he told.

On another complaint, the minister ordered the Civil Surgeon, Ropar, to provide essential facilities in the Civil Hospital, Kurali, for a 24-hour emergency.

The SDM, Anandpur Sahib, was also directed to identify a site for the Nurpur Bedi police station.

The members of the grievances committee also complained against the poor design of the speed-breakers constructed by the PWD on the link roads of the district. The minister ordered the ADC, Ropar, to inquire into the complaint. OC


IAS officers shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 10
The Punjab Government today ordered the transfers of four bureaucrats, including two IAS officers.

Mr T.R. Sarangal goes as Commissioner, Municipal Corporation, Jalandhar, while Mr S.R. Ladhar has been posted as Director, Rural Development and Panchayats and ex-officio Special Secretary to the Punjab Government. He will also hold charge as the Director, State Transport.

Mr Chander Gaind has been posted as Assistant Commissioner (Grievances), Hoshiarpur while Mr Kuldip Singh goes as Land Acquisition Officer, Drainage. Meanwhile, the transfer orders of two other PCS officers — Mr Gurnam Singh Gill and Mr Sanjay Popli — issued yesterday have been cancelled.


Notorious gangster held
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 10
The district police claims to have arrested a most-wanted criminal, cheat and a notorious gangster, who had fled from police custody twice — once from the custody of the Moga police and the second time from the custody of the Ludhiana police.

Interestingly, the miscreant had been changing his name and his father’s name frequently. His father has filed a writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court that his son has not escaped from police custody, rather he has been eliminated by the police.

Five police personnel including Sub-Inspector Tarlochan Singh, were suspended after his escape and are facing trial in the District Sessions Court, Ludhiana. The police has registered a case under Sections 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120B, IPC, at Sirhind Police Station. The gangster was presented in the court of Mrs Neelam Arora, Chief Judicial Magistrate, who remanded him in police custody.

It was stated at a press conference that the Sirhind police, during a naka at Madhopur, had arrested a criminal, who had assumed several names like Darshan Singh, Parkash Singh, Sukhdev Singh and also different names of his father. It was stated that he was a known criminal and was involved in selling stolen cars by making fake documents and used to sell opium. He had opened offices in Delhi and used to steal cars from there. After changing the condition of the vehicles and preparing fake papers, he used to sell these in Punjab and Delhi. He fled from the police custody by breaking the lock-ups at Nihal Singhwala and Moga police stations and similarly from a police post at Dugri in Ludhiana.

His father had filed a writ petition in high court against the police that his son had been eliminated. The petition is listed for tomorrow. Various cases are pending against him in the various parts of the state. The police had also recovered a Santro car from him. 


Engineering students protest against PTU’s decision
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, February 10
Protesting against the decision of the Punjab Technical University (PTU), Jalandhar, over the technical training for students studying in various engineering colleges, students of the Sri Sukhmani Engineering Institute of Engineering and Technology, Dera Bassi, today boycotted classes.

According to protesters, the university had divided the six month training period of the students into three intervals. As per the new decision, the trainee students would now have to complete their six-month training period after the second, the third and the fourth semester. The training period would be of two months duration, after the completion of each semester.

The students apprehend that the decision will create problems in their getting jobs after the completion of the course. A charter listing the demands of the students had also been sent by the management of the institute to the PTU, sources in the college said.

Meanwhile, the protest by students of the Punjab College of Engineering and Technology, Malikpur, about 5 km from Lalru, entered its sixth day today.

The students are protesting outside the college premises for not providing them facilities, which the college authorities had promised prior to their admissions. To press their demands, the students have been boycotting classes and raising slogans against the management for not providing facilities, for which they had paid along with the admission fee.

They alleged that the college was lacking almost every facility like adequate infrastructure and well-equipped laboratories due to which they were lagging behind in competitive and other examinations.

Moreover, the authorities had not been able to restore the Internet facility, for which each student was being charged Rs 1,500 per semester, the students alleged.

The authorities of both colleges were not available for comments. 


College gets UGC nod for new courses

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 10
Mata Gujri College, Fatehgarh Sahib, has been allowed to start six new career-oriented vocational courses in humanities and science by the University Grants Commission (UGC) from the next academic year.

Informing this to mediapersons here today, the college Principal, Dr Gurmohan Singh Walia said these courses include diploma in gurmat sangeet, diploma in rural handicrafts, diploma in non-conventional energy resources under humanities stream and diploma in seed technology, diploma in food science and quality control and diploma in mass communication and video production under the science stream.

He said the UGC had agreed to pay Rs 5 lakh for each course in humanities and Rs 7.5 lakh for each course in science stream. He said the college has already received Rs 25 lakh for the construction of a girls hostel and Rs 9.71 lakh for general development from the UGC.

He said the college has also applied to Punjabi University, Patiala, for starting PG diploma in journalism and mass communication and PG diploma in insurance business and risk management and M Com. — UNI


Students get tips on writing script for radio
Tribune News Service

Patiala, February 10
Hard work, dedication and commitment were three success mantras given by Dr Amrit Lal Paul, Station Director, All India Radio, Patiala, to the students of journalism and mass communication. Mr Lal was inaugurating a two-day workshop on “Radio programme production” in the seminar room of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, Punjabi University, Patiala, here today.

Programme executives, AIR, Patiala, Mr Sanjiv Dosanjh and Mr Amarjit Waraich, gave valuable tips to the students. They stressed upon the need to produce simple, imaginative, creative and relevant scripts for radio. The experts got the students involved in the practical exercises in script writing as well as in the production.

Prof Narinder Singh Kapoor, Dean, Faculty of Education and Information Sciences and Mr Navjit Singh Johal, Head, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, also addressed the students and said this workshop would be made an annual feature.


Eco awareness contest at Punjabi University

Patiala, February 10
The Punjab Eco-Friendly Association (PEFA) Punjabi University (unit), its organised their second annual eco awareness contest here today. Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai presided over the function.

In his presidential address Mr Boparai, while comparing the simple life of village with that of metropolitan cities, said the former was environmentally rich in all respects. He called upon the students to motivate the masses to develop eco-friendly approach towards environment. He appreciated PEFA’s efforts in educating the younger generations about the long term benefits of protecting the environment.

Mr K.K.Sharma, Chairman, Patiala Improvement Trust, and Mr. Karamjit Singh Jattana, were also present on the occasion. OC


Alumni meet held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 10
The local Blossoms School organised its first alumni meet since its establishment in 1981. Besides a variety programme, including a dance and musical performances, various other contests were also.

The Principal organised of the school, Ms Ravi Singh said the idea behind the initiative was that it would help the old students to keep in touch. An executive committee was also formed and the following were elected unanimously: president — Mr Doggar Singh; vice-president — Gagandeep Dachdeva; and secretary — Ms Adarshdeep Kaur.


Johar invites Lahore varsity VC

Wagah, February 10
The Minister for Higher Education, Mr Harnam Das Johar, who returned from Pakistan after a 15-day stay there, described his visit as journey down memory lane.

Talking to newspersons, Mr Johar said he had invited the Education Minister of West Punjab and the Vice-Chancellor of Punjab University, Lahore, to visit Punjab to begin interaction in the field of education.— OC

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