P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Dhindsa to be SAD candidate from Sangrur
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 11
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), today announced the candidature of Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General of the SAD and Union Minister for Chemicals and Fertilisers, for the Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency.

Names of other SAD candidates for remaining Lok Sabha seats of the state would be announced in four or five days, Mr Badal added.

Mr Badal was here to attend an “anti-repression” rally, of the SAD at the new Grain Market today. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, former President of the SGPC; Mr Balramji Dass Tandon, former Punjab Minister Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, Punjab BJP Chief; Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, former Punjab Minister; Mr Gobind Singh Kanjhla, Mr Gobind Singh Longowal, Mr Parminder Singh Dhindsa, Mr Balbir Singh Ghunas, all MLAs, Mr Parkash Chand Garg, a working committee member of the SAD and Mr Rajinder Singh Kanjhla, district president of the SAD were present.

With regard to opposition of Mr Dhindsa by Mr Baldev Singh Mann, general secretary of the SAD, Mr Badal said he (Badal) today talked to Mr Baldev Singh Mann on this issue and had asked him to work as election in charge for Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency.

Mr Badal said with the announcement of party ticket for Mr Dhindsa for Sangrur seat, he was launching the party’s election campaign from here today.

Mr Badal stated that the SAD had not participated in the all party meeting, convened by the Punjab Government on the SYL canal issue, as it felt that the Congress has played a role of a traitor over the SYL canal issue.

All speakers criticised the Congress government in Punjab for anti-people decisions.

On the occasion a purse of rupees two lakh was presented to Mr Badal for party fund.


2 Cong leaders join SAD
Tribune News Service

Gidderbaha, February 11
The Congress suffered a jolt today when its two prominent leaders of this area namely Mr Sukhdev Singh Sukha, member, Block Samiti, and Mr Major Singh, panchayat member of Husnar village, joined the SAD today.

Later talking to mediapersons, Mr Manpreet Badal said more prominent Congress leaders of this area had expressed their willingness to join the SAD.

He said the people and even Congress workers were fed up with the style of functioning of their elected representatives.


Badal meets Ranjit Singh Balian
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 11
Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), today visited expelled SAD leader, Ranjit Singh Balian, here at his residence. Mr Balian was expelled by Badal during previous Assembly elections from the party when he (Balian) contested the Assembly election from Sangrur against the official SAD candidate, Mr Sanmukh Singh Mokha. Mr Mokha also suffered a defeat in the election.

Mr Badal’s visit to Mr Balian’s house is being seen here as an important development in view of the current Lok Sabha elections as Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General of the SAD, has been announced candidate for Sangrur Lok Sabha seat.

At the residence of Mr Balian, the supporters of Mr Balian raised slogans “Sardar Parkash Singh Badal Zindabad” when Mr Badal reached this evening there. He was welcomed by Mr Balian along with his 100 supporters. On the occasion, the supporters of Mr Balian criticised Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa for the denial of ticket to Mr Balian in previous Assembly elections, and asked Mr Badal to adopt Mr Balian as his candidate.

On this Mr Badal gave his consent to Mr Balian to join the SAD on February 16 at the rally of Youth wing of the SAD at Ludhiana. Mr Balian also assured Mr Badal that he would join the SAD on February 16 and would support the SAD candidate from Sangrur.


Punjab told to give evidence in minister’s son case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
Controversy continues to shroud the appointment of a Punjab minister’s son as an Inspector under the terrorist-victims category. Even as his counsel contended that Excise and Taxation Minister Sardool Singh’s son Tejinder Pal Singh was appointed to protect himself and his family, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has directed the state of Punjab to consider evidence showing that he was a terrorist victim.

Arguing before the Bench, comprising Chief Justice Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant Sharma, his counsel had earlier stated that the appointment was made under the Punjab Government’s policy. According to it, the victims were provided jobs with the Police Department so that they could look after their families, instead of being provided with security.

Challenging his appointment, petitioner Surjit Singh of Hassanpur village in Patiala district, on the other hand, had sought directions for the quashing of a letter recruiting him. In his petition against the minister, the state of Punjab, the Director General of Police and another respondent, he had also sought directions for restraining the Inspector from functioning.

Claiming to be “committed to the cause of social service”, the petitioner had contended that highly placed persons, including politicians and senior officers, were using undue influence to grab for their wards the benefits meant for the dependents of terrorist-affected families.

He had added that even the Secretary, Relief and Rehabilitation, had confirmed that the appointment of Tejinder Pal Singh was not “correct”. The Secretary, the petitioner had further claimed, had also admitted that the son of a sitting minister could not be given a job in the Police Department under the terrorist-victims category.

Anticipatory bail confirmed

Acting on a petition filed by Haryana’s Financial Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary Asha Sharma, Mr Justice Nirmal Singh of the Punjab and Haryana High Court has confirmed anticipatory bail granted to her. The court had earlier stayed her arrest in a case registered at Chandigarh by the Vigilance wing. She was asked to join the investigations as and when required.

The IAS officer was apprehending arrest in a case registered at police station Vigilance in Chandigarh under Sections 406, 420, 468 and 471 of the Indian Penal Code.

According to the prosecution, the case was registered after an inquiry was conducted into the allegations against the IAS officer on the complaint of her mother. She had accused Ms Sharma of getting documents pertaining to her house forged.

As per the allegations, Ms Sharma had requested the then Assistant Enforcement Officer to “make available from the Estate Office the original file of a Sector 36 house for inspection”. Complying with her request, a clerk had handed over the file to the petitioner. Later on, certain papers were found to be missing on inspection, the prosecution had claimed.

Seeking the grant of bail, the petitioner had earlier denied the allegations. Claiming to be innocent, Ms Sharma had contended that she had been implicated in a false case.


28 Punjab reunion celebrations begin
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 11
The youngest battalion of the Punjab Regiment, 28 Punjab, will be receiving the President's Colours during the four-day reunion celebrations of the regiment's ninth post-war reunion, which began at the Regimental Centre in Ramgarh, near Ranchi, today.

A glittering parade is being organised to mark the occasion. A first-day cover and stamp is also being released to commemorate the occasion. The presentation of colours hasa special significance in the armed forces as it is a mark of recognition of the recipient unit's professional excellence.

A galaxy of serving as well as retired officers, JCOs, other ranks, war widows and next of kin of those killed in action, are attending the reunion celebrations held once in five years. A number of social and cultural events are being organised. Prominent among the attendees are Lieut-Gen R. S. Dayal (retd), who had captured the famous Haji Pir Pass in the 1965 Indo-Pak war, and Brig K. S. Chandpuri, hero of the Battle of Laungewala fought in 1971.

The regiment's biennial conference is also being held simultaneously. The Adjutant-General and Colonel of the Punjab Regiment, Lieut-Gen Mohinder Singh, the Centre Commandant, Col Pritam Singh Chib, and the commanding officers of all battalions of the regiment are attending the conference.

Regimental matters, including the performance of battalions, future challenges, personnel matters and the welfare of ex-servicemen and widows form part of the deliberations of the conference. The reunion-cum- conference will give the veterans a chance to relive their memories and share experiences with the new generation as well as old comrade-in-arms.

One of the oldest regiments of the Indian Army, the regiment was awarded the Insignia of Galley (ship) for sailing across the seven seas despite religious beliefs and taboos. The regiment has to its credit 35 pre-Independence and 14 post-Independence battle honours. Its’ tally of 919 post-Independence decorations include 18 Maha Vir Chakras, 58 Vir Chakras and 511 Shaurya Chakras. The regiment has also done well in counter-insurgency operations, where seven of its battalions have been awarded the Chief of the Army Staff's Unit Citations and 12 the Army Commander's Unit Citations.


GND varsity to honour Yash Chopra
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 11
Guru Nanak Dev University will honour Dr Sardara Singh Johl, Vice-Chairman, Punjab Planning Board, young businessman of England, Reuben Singh, Advocate-General of Punjab Harbhagwan Singh and film director-producer, Yash Chopra with Honorary degrees in recognition of their valuable contribution in their respective fields.

The university will also honour wrestler, Kartar Singh, Director Sports, Punjab and Ms Satinder Satti, T.V. artiste with gold medals at this convocation.

Mr Justice V.N. Khare, Chief Justice, Supreme Court of India, will address the convocation while Justice O.P. Verma (retd), Governor of Punjab and Chancellor of the university will preside over.

Dr Johl is a noted farm economist. He was commissioned by governments to suggest reforms in the farm sector. His World Bank consultancy report for Russia after disintegration of the USSR, earlier critical analysis of five-year plans of the USSR, rationalisation of policies for agricultural development in China, assessment of Chinese Agriculture for the Government of India, marketing of agricultural produce in Ethiopia, Framework of Sustainable Analysis of Development of Agriculture Sector in Iran, agriculture development Planning in Iran, Analysis of Development Plans sin West Asian Countries, Agricultural Policy Analysis for Somalia, Irrigation and Agriculture Development in West Asia are his notable contributions to the agricultural policy at the international level.

Mr Harbhagwan Singh, legal expert, a freedom fighter, a social activist, was called to the bar in 1951 and was elected President of the Punjab and Haryana Bar Association in 1973.

Mr Chopra is India’s successful film-maker and awarded Dada Saheb Phalke Award, the highest honour given in the Indian film industry, started his career as Assistant to his brother B.R. Chopra. Thereafter, he established his own company Yash Raj Films and produced 22 films under its banner. He directed 11 films himself. He is successful blend of creativity and administrative genius. As director, Mr Yash Chopra possesses rare aesthetic knack of making his films look larger than life.

He was one of the first directors to shoot films out of India. Switzerland, Holland, Germany and the United Kingdom have become even more popular with the Asian population. A lake in Switzerland has been named The Chopra Lake. Yash Chopra was honoured with a Special Award by the Swiss Government for rediscovering Switzerland. The British Film Institute handpicked Yash Chopra for a book written by Dr Rachel Dwyer in their ‘World Directors Series’.

British Ambassador for Entrepreneurship, Mr Reuben Singh appointed British Ambassador for Entrepreneurship by the British Government, honoured as ‘Pioneers to the Life of the Nation’ by Her Majesty Queen Crowned as ‘Global Leader for Tomorrow 2003’ by World Economic Forum, placed at Top 100 Innovators Under 35” by M.I.T Enterprise Technology, Reuben Singh, the pride of Indians in UK, started his business at the age of 18 and over the past nine years received many awards for his achievements including listings in the UK Entrepreneurs of the Year 2002 and in the Sunday Times “Power List”.


Jain pulls up Jalandhar DCC
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
The Congress observer for eight parliamentary constituencies of Punjab, Mr Lalit Jain, has reportedly pulled up the District Congress Committee for recommending only the name of the last Jalandhar MP, Mr Balbir Singh, to the Congress high command, that too “without informing” the seven party MLAs.

It is learnt that not all seven MLAs were informed of the visit of the observer, which was, however, converted into a big show by certain Congress leaders, particularly the DCC (Urban) chief, Mr Tejinder Bittu, who managed a big gathering at the DCC office. The DCC (Rural) is said to have recommended the name of Mr Balbir Singh as the party candidate.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Jain said, “There was some workers and leaders who maintained that Mr Balbir Singh had done good work, while one section maintained he had not come up to their expectation.”

The Congress observer pulled up the DCC for extending only a one-man panel to the party high command and also for its slackness in informing all party MLAs about his visit.

PPCC secretary Anil Datta and chief of the party’s frontal organisations Manjinder Chaudhary are also aspirants for the Lok Sabha seat and both met Mr Jain. Mr Jain also met among others Punjab minister Amarjit Samra, MLA Rana Gurjit Singh, veteran Congress leaders Umrao Singh, Dr Lekh Raj and former Mandi Board Chairman Chaudhary Darshan Singh at Mr Samra’s residence.


BSM-BSP merger on Feb 15

Jalandhar, February 11
The president of the Bahujan Samaj Morcha (BSM) and former MP Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, today said his party would merge with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on February 15 during a “Bahujan Ekta Rally” to be held at Banga in Nawanshahr district.

“To strengthen the Bahujan Samaj in the state, we have decided to unconditionally merge with the BSP on February 15,” he told reporters here today, refuting differences with the state leadership of the BSP.

Mr Kainth had deserted the BSP in 1992 over some differences with the then party president Kanshi Ram and successfully contested the parliamentary election from Phillaur with the outside support of the SAD.

Asked whether he would contest from the Phillaur constituency on BSP ticket, he refused to comment on the issue and said party president Mayawati would select the candidate. — PTI


Venkaiah to launch campaign on Feb 21
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, February 11
The national President of the BJP, Mr M. Venkaiah Naidu, will formally launch an election campaign from Hoshiarpur on February 21 at a rally. The rally will also be attended, among others by Mr Vinod Khanna, a former MP from Gurdaspur.

Talking to mediapersons here today, Mr Avinash Rai Khanna, president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said coordination committee of the SAD and the BJP would decide the seat-sharing arrangements for the Lok Sabha elections.

Mr Khanna said the BJP would contest elections on the achievements of the NDA government and failures of the Congress government in Punjab. The BJP state president also launched a signature campaign against the non-performance of the Amarinder government. He said about five lakh signatures would be collected throughout the state.


Cong leader refutes Khanna’s claims
on development grants

Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 11
Mr Chander Pal Singh, Member of the PPCC and former President District Congress Committee, Gurdaspur in a press note here yesterday claimed that Mr Vinod Khanna was misleading people of Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency by distorting facts relating to MP’s Local Area Development Fund. Mr Khanna had been making false claims on various development grants, he alleged.

Mr Chander Pal Singh citing from records said that Mr Vinod Khanna had failed to utilise MPLAD funds. He had not drawn till today even a single penny out of rupees four crore earmarked for 2002-2003 and 2003-2004, nor did he submit any proposal to the District Administration till January 28, 2004.

Even rupees 51.47 lakh pertaining to 2001-2002 had been left unutilised. Even utilisation certificates of rupees 274.54 lakh had not been submitted which raised doubts on the utility and completion of various on-going projects, he said.


VHP terms for backing candidates
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 11
The VHP will put pressure on political parties and candidates to clarify before the Lok Sabha poll whether they supported the construction of the Ram mandir at Ayodhya. It would oppose those parties and candidates, including those of the BJP, if the party concerned opposed the construction of the temple. This was declared here tonight by Mr Khem Chand Sharma, organising secretary of the north zone of the VHP, at the residence of  the district Bajrang Dal president. He announced that the VHP would support that party or candidate which espoused the temple construction, uniform civil code, cow protection, ban on conversions and scrapping of Article 370.


Border farmers to get more work time
Our Correspondent

Raja Tal (Amritsar), February 11
The BSF today agreed to increase the working hours allowed to farmers in the fields across the fence near the border.

Mr D.K. Sharma, BSF Commandant, said this after listening to the grievances of farmers at a joint meet of the BSF, the district administration and the police here today. Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner, and Mr Kultar Singh, SSP, also participated in the meeting.

Farmers had alleged that their fields were neglected due to the limited hours allowed to them by the BSF. They had also complained about harassment by the BSF when they crossed the fence.

However, Mr Sharma expressed the inability to open the fencing gate daily. He said the gates could be opened only on alternate days. To resolve the problems of the farmers certain decisions had been taken, which would be implemented in a few days, he added.

Mr Ratan Singh Randhawa, general secretary of the Kisan Sangarsh Committee and a CPM leader, demanded the waiver of the electricity bills of the motors that could not be used during the period the land was mined in the aftermath of the Parliament attack.

He urged the government to bring the border villages under the Urban Feeder for providing 24-hour electricity supply to them. He also sought the release of the third instalment of the compensation to the farmers which was pending for a long time.

The Deputy Commissioner assured that the government would work for the development of 72 border villages on a priority basis. The third compensation instalment for the crops had reached the district and would be distributed soon. He also granted Rs 2 lakh for the dispensary of the village.


Villagers fear pollution from distillery
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, February 11
A public hearing meeting organised here today by the Punjab Pollution Control Board (PPCB) for inviting objections to the proposed distillery project at the Industrial Growth Centre in the Sujanpur Assembly constituency was boycotted by the villagers of the area, saying it was an eyewash.

The meeting was attended by representatives of the PPCB, local MLA Ashok Sharma, SDM Puneet Goyal, excise officials, and representatives of the Chamber of Commerce.

Representatives of the affected villages, Madhopur Jaini, Baroi, Jindrai, Jhikli, Awankha, Khanpur, Changeli, Ranipur, Gho, Ranipur Bassa, and Mangni, apprehended large-scale water and air pollution.

The management of the proposed distillery claimed that the project would be unique and have the infrastructure to check pollution and other projects for the welfare of these villages.

The villagers demanded that the public hearing should be held at the Industrial Growth Centre where the industry was to be set up.

The management said villagers would be given employment in the distillery.

Villagers also held a protest march today and submitted a memorandum to the SDM, Mr Puneet Goyal.


Pension paid on paper only, alleges Dang
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
Despite unearthing the sensational Rs 32-crore pension scam, the Department of Social Securities reportedly continues to function in a “questionable manner. As many as 95 persons who were supposedly sent pensions up to March 2003 according to an acknowledgement in a demi-official letter to Mr Satya Pal Dang, have not received the pensions.

Mr Dang claimed that the District Social Securities Officer when asked had said the approval for the payment to these persons was yet to be obtained and the rest of the cases, out of a total of 203, still had to be verified. “This was strange, considering the fact that the Chief Minister had announced more than once, that the verification had been carried out and the money released to the beneficiaries,” he said.

Mr Dang alleged that even an inquiry by the Commissioner (Jalandhar division) that was said to have been completed, remained incomplete. This was evident from the fact that no verifications or investigations were conducted in Ward no 37 which included the Chheharta area from where a large number of complaints had been received and forwarded.


Health mela succumbs to poll code
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 11
A health fair scheduled to be held at the Community Health Centre, Bhunga, from February 12 to 14 has been postponed for now by the district health authorities.

Dr Y.C. Markan, Civil Surgeon, has sought “guidance” from the Chief Election Commissioner, Punjab, regarding the health fair in view of the dissolution of Parliament.

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has given Rs 8 lakh each to all parliamentary constituencies of the country to holding health melas for three days between January 15 and February 15. The amount has already been received by the Civil Surgeon’s office here.

According to the guidelines of ministry, the health fairs were to be publicised through posters and advertisements in newspapers 15 days ahead of the fair.

While no such posters or banners could be seen in the Dasuya, Tanda and Garhdiwala segments — to be benefited by the fair — villagers said announcements were being made regarding the fair at gurdwaras.

Mr Charanjit Singh Channi, local MP in the dissolved Parliament, today alleged that the fair had been postponed at the behest of the state administration in the name of the model code of conduct. The code came into force only after the notification of the Lok Sabha elections, he added.


Engineers oppose execution of units by BHEL
Tribune News Service

Lehra Mohobat, February 11
The PSEB Engineers Association, Guru Hargobind Thermal Plant (GHTP), Lehra Mohobat, while opposing the execution of a project pertaining to setting up two units of 250 MW each under stage-II of the GHTP by the BHEL, pointed out that it would escalate the project cost by minimum of Rs 200 crore.

Mr Gurbir Singh Meen, its regional secretary, stated in a press note here today that the execution of the project on an engineering-procurement-and constitution (EPC) basis by the BHEL would cost about Rs 1,700 crore. If the same work was done through competitive bidding, the project cost would be around Rs 1500 crore.

He pointed out that the concept of competitive bidding was universally accepted procedure to minimise costs and maximise economy and this was being followed by PSEB in the purchase of meters, transformer conductors, substation equipment and other materials.

He pointed out that as the PSEB was equipped with all sorts of engineering specialists and it was also being accused of overstaffing, it was a right occasion to use their services for execution of the stage-II of the thermal plant.

He alleged that the claim of the PSEB management that the EPC contract was being given due to shortage of technical manpower was totally incorrect as the engineers, who worked for the execution of Ropar and local thermal plants, were very much in service in the PSEB and could be deployed for the execution of the stage-II.


Action against gunman recommended

Jalandhar, February 11
The district police chief today made a written recommendation to his counterpart in Ludhiana for taking appropriate departmental disciplinary action against the delinquent security guard whose service weapon was found abandoned near a taxi stand here on Monday last.

During the preliminary inquiry conducted by the district police in the missing gun episode, it was found that an AK-47 rifle had been issued to constable Naunihal Singh of 80th Battalion of PAP who was deployed in the security of state Jail Minister Malkiat Singh Birmi, the SSP stated here today. The report stated that the minister on February 8 visited a local hotel to attend a function while the constable remained outside where he met an acquaintance. Later, they sat on a bench and Naunihal had propped up his service weapon against the bench and left it behind.

An official communication had been sent to the SSP, Ludhiana, for necessary action against the cop. — PTI


Johar for Indo-Pak academic interaction
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 11
Academic interaction between India and Pakistan may take some more time, but the interaction between two parts of Punjab is likely to start from next month after Vice-Chancellors from various universities of the two countries will converge here for a conference. This will be followed with interaction with heads of colleges. Stating this here today, Higher Education Minister, Harnam Dass Johar said during his 10-day stay in Pakistan he had found the atmosphere congenial for academic interaction. He said there was a greater scope for the two Punjabs to learn each other’s script.

Mr Johar had gone to attend the World Punjabi Conference at Lahore. He visited various universities and academic institutions.

“While the two countries have a common history and culture, we have much more in common, particularly the language”, he said. He suggested that during mutual visits of linguistic experts, Persian scripted Punjabi and Gurmukhi Punjabi could be explored.

Mr Johar said he had found a phenomenal difference in the atmosphere in Pakistan regarding India. He said that there was not much bitterness among the common Pakistanis against Indians. There was a growing urge among them to see peace in the region. “We want to improve relations at all levels, be it business, academic, intellectual or political”, he said.


Warrant officer finds 47 bonded labourers

Moga, February 11
A warrant officer of the Punjab and Haryana High Court found 47 alleged bonded labourers in a raid at a brickkiln at Baghapurana in this district yesterday.

The Warrant Officer Mohinder Pal Singh Kohli raided the brickkiln on the directions of the court on a writ petition filed by two labourers Sandeep Kumar and Sat Pal who alleged that they had not been paid salaries for the past four months and not allowed to leave the kiln.

The 47 persons, including women and children, were allegedly held by the brickkiln owner as bonded labourers.

The kiln owner Sukhdev Singh said that he was providing ration to all families as the kiln was closed due to bad weather.

After recording their statements the warrant officer directed all of them to reach Chandigarh so that they all could appear before the court today.


Cooperative society official suspended
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 11
The Cooperative Department, Punjab, has suspended Lakshami Narain, secretary, Cooperative Agriculture Service Society of Lambwali village in Jaito subdivision, on charges of misappropriating society funds worth Rs 11 lakh in the past three years. The matter came to the light last month following complaints of a large number of loanees of Gondhara and Lambwali villages who were served notices for depositing the amount.

Mr Buta Singh, Deputy Registrar, Cooperative Societies, Faridkot, said today that the society advanced loans to 180 persons and later served notices. The loanees stated that they had already deposited the amount with the secretary.

On getting the complaints, a five-member committee was constituted and indicted Lakshami Narain of the embezzlement of funds.

The Deputy Registrar said Lakshami Narain had deposited Rs 6 lakh out of the total embezzled amount.


One hurt in accident
Our Correspondent

Kharar, February 11
One person was injured when he was hit by an unidentified vehicle last night.

Harjinder Singh, a resident of Khoonimajra village, near here, was going on a scooter near Chappar Chiri when he was hit. He was admitted to the PGI, Chandigarh.

In another accident, a Maruti car and a bus collided near here today. The car was damaged but no one was injured.

Meanwhile, the police seized 100 pouches of liquor near Badala village last night from Jaswinder Singh. The liquor was allegedly being smuggled.


CPI workers gherao police station
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
Activists of the CPI today gheraoed the Rajasansi police station in protest against the alleged police inaction in arresting the accused in an attempt to murder case.

In a press note here today, Mr Jagtar Singh Karampura, CPI leader, said the accused were threatening the complainant Mukhtiar Singh of Saidpura village of dire consequences if he did not withdraw the case. The accused were booked by the police for attempting to kill Mukhtiar Singh in a shoot out in May 26 last year.

Mr Karampura said even though over eight months had passed, the police had not arrested the accused.


Gen J.J. Singh visits Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
Lt-Gen J. J. Singh, GOC-in-C Western Command, today met senior staff officers of 10 Corps here and discussed training and operational issues.


IMA decision unethical, says consumer forum
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
The local Consumer Welfare Forum today presented a memorandum to Justice H.S. Brar, Chairman, State Consumers Disputes Redressal Commission, for taking up the matter with the Central and the state health authorities to ensure that government doctors gave their opinion in cases against doctors.

The general secretary of the forum, Mr Vijay Mehra, said the memorandum had stated that the local branch of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had said no doctor would appear before the redress commission to give medical opinion in a case against any doctor. He said such move was unethical and against the professional conduct of doctors. With this decision, the cases pending with the commission were being delayed, he said.

The forum urged the Chairman to take up the matter with the health authorities that at least the government doctors should be instructed to appear before the commission to ensure dispensation of justice in case of pertaining to the 

The forum also expressed its anguish that the Indian Medical Association had also decided that none of the members would treat those whose kin had filed cases with the redress commission.

Talking to newspersons, Justice Brar said the state government must set up more district-level consumer courts to cope with the increase in cases.


Morinda sugar mill not paying dues, alleges farmer
Our Correspondent

Ropar, February 11
His 71-year-old wife is suffering from a heart problem. He is a small farmer owning just seven acres of land. She has to undergo a bypass surgery in the Escorts Hospital at Delhi. He has raised a loan of Rs 2.5 lakh at 13.5 per cent interest for her operation. However, the Morinda Cooperative Sugar Mill is allegedly not paying his dues worth Rs 70,000. Due to non-payment of dues, he has to pay a higher interest’ which has made his financial condition even more precarious.

Mr Sawan Singh, a septuagenarian farmer from the Chamkaur Sahib area, with tears in his eyes today narrated his woes before the Chairman of PUNCOFED, Mr Pawan Kumar Sharma, and the political secretary to the Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Harchand Singh Barsat. Both were here to preside over a district-level function, organised by PUNCOFED for spreading awareness regarding cooperatives among farmers.

Mr Sawan Singh alleged that while directors of the sugar mill were taking advance payments for their personal needs, farmers were not even being given their dues. The sugar mill owed crores of rupees to farmers, he said adding that they were being forced to mortgage land for emergency needs since their dues were not being cleared.

In response to the allegations of the farmer, Mr Barsat passed the blame on to the Union Government. He alleged that sugar worth Rs 670 crore was lying with cooperative sugar mill as the Union Government was not lifting levy sugar from the state.

Earlier, the PUNCOFED Chairman blamed bureaucrats for harming the interests of the cooperatives in the state. Mr Sharma alleged that PUNCOFED was the primary agency for spreading awareness about the cooperative movement and educating members about their rights and duties. All cooperatives in the state had to provide PUNCOFED with fund for carrying out this work.

However, many leading cooperatives, including Markfed, were carrying on with publicity campaigns on their own in violation of the rules. This was being done by some bureaucrats to please advertising agencies, Mr Sharma alleged.

Even though today’s function was organised to spread awareness regarding cooperatives, none of the officials from the Cooperative Department including leading cooperatives Markfed and Ropar Central Cooperative Bank, came to participate in it. When asked, Mr Barsat said the absence of officers was unfortunate.


Probe ordered into filling of pond
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
Mr K.A.P. Sinha, District Magistrate, today ordered a magisterial inquiry into the filling of earth in a pond on a piece of land in the heart of the city allegedly by a section of real-estate developers.

Mr Sinha said the inquiry had been ordered to find out how the property developers managed to make an attempt to fill the pond, in which the waste water of surrounding localities was collected, and to find who the real owner of the land was.

He said Mr D.P.S. Kharbanda, Additional Deputy Commissioner (Development), had been asked to conduct the inquiry and submit the report within 15 days. Till the inquiry was completed, the businessmen would not be allowed to fill the pond.

While one family of this town claims ownership of this land, a section of residents of Mehna Chowk here claim that it is in the joint ownership of the Mehna patti.

For the past several years, the pond, situated in a piece of land measuring more than 15 acres, has been used to collect rainwater and sewage. People living in the colonies around the pond have been pressing the authorities to fill the pond, which is a source of filth and foul smell. They complain that the pond is also being used to dump garbage and animal carcasses.

On the other hand, the local municipal corporation had at one stage written to the higher authorities for acquiring all the four ponds in the city to use them to tackle flooding in the town during monsoon.

Mr Kamal Kant Goyal, Executive Officer, Municipal Corporation, said the corporation had initiated proceedings for acquiring the pond in public interest, though he did not know whether the land was in private ownership or in the Shamlat category.


DC suspends absentee
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 11
Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, today conducted a surprise check at his office and district office. During the checking, 25 employees and officials were found absent.

The Deputy Commissioner ordered the suspension of Mr Tarsem Lal of the office of Fatehgarh SDM for absence and negligence during duty. His headquarter, during the suspension, would be the office of the Khamano SDM. Mr Ahluwalia said explanation of all 25 employees and officials had been called and it had been ordered that no payment for the day of absence would be paid.

He warned the employees and staff saying that strict action would be taken against the latecomers and absentism would not be tolerated at any cost. He directed officials concerned to sort out the grievances of the people on a priority basis and ensure transparency.


31 sites sold for Rs 4.5 cr

Amritsar, February 11
The Amritsar Improvement Trust fetched more than Rs 4.50 crore in the auction of 31 shops and booths.

The Chairperson of the trust, Ms Ratan, in a press note issued here today, said that the shops were auctioned in the posh Nehru Shopping Complex on Lawrence Road.

15 booths had sold for Rs 53 lakh in E-Block, Ajnala Road Extension Scheme. Seeing the good response, more commercial complexes, including multiplexes and hotels, were being planned, she added. — OC


Addl charge for Kulbir Singh

Chandigarh, February 11
Mr Kulbir Singh, State Transport Commissioner, Punjab, has been asked to look after the work of the Secretary, State Election Commission also. — TNS


1.5 kg opium seized
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, February 11
The Jalandhar police today arrested a man for possessing 1.5 kg of opium. Mr G.P.S. Bhullar, SSP, said a police party spotted a suspicious looking person who was carrying a polythene bag in the Chauggitti-Nangal Shama area. He was later identified as Balbir Singh of Raptoke village of Tarn Taran district. Opium was allegedly seized from his possession.

During preliminary investigation, Balbir Singh revealed that he was part of a chain of drug peddlers headed by Shiv Narian of Ujjan in UP, whom he had met at a religious place.


Thefts in four shops
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 11
In separate incidents, cash and goods worth lakhs of rupees were stolen from four shops here last night.

According to the information, travellers cheque worth Rs 3 lakh and nearly $ 40,000 were stolen from Jolly Travels, near bus stand. In another incident, watches worth Rs 1 lakh were stolen from National Watch Company showroom in Dharampura Bazar. The owner of the showroom, Mr Satish Kumar, said he came to know about the theft this morning when he came to open the showroom.

Cash worth Rs 20,000 was stolen from two shops of grocery — Godu Ram and Khan Chand — located in Araya Samaj chowk.


One arrested on rape charge
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 11
The police today arrested Baljit Singh, a resident of Harrangpura village in this district, for his suspected involvement in first raping a minor Dalit schoolgoing girl of the village and then allegedly forcing her to commit suicide on February 8.

Following the arrest, the police at cantonment police station faced a tough time pacifying members of the Mehar community, to which the girl belonged, who were demanding that the accused be taken to the village and paraded with a blackened face.


Dharna by students
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 11
The B.Sc and M.Sc. students of Khalsa College, Agriculture Department under the banner of the Agriculture Students Forum, staged a dharna outside the faculty building in protest against the non-filling of posts in Agriculture, Horticulture, Soil Conservation, Education Departments and related disciplines under various boards and corporations in Punjab.

The students boycotted classes in protest supporting Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana.

In press note here today Mr Anantdeep Dhillon, forum spokesperson, urged that posts in agriculture and related disciplines be filled by recruiting the unemployed agriculture graduates.


Seminar on industrial safety
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 11
The Punjab Government in collaboration with the State Industrial Council organised a seminar on industrial safety and disaster management here today.

Mr M.P. Beri, Deputy Director, State Industrial Factories, stressed that approved power load be consumed and a safety equipment be set-up on high rise buildings to check mishaps. The workers should also wear proper dress approved by the Industries Department.

Presiding over the function Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, underlined the need for constituting a trained special task force in each unit to ensure the timely checking of any mishap. Mr D.S. Sidhu, a specialist from Nestle India Ltd, presented a mock fire drill.

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