P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Weapons were stolen from malkhana: report
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 24
Many fire-arms were found to be stolen from the ‘Sadar Malkhana’ in an investigation in September 2002. The interim report of a senior IPS officer had expressed apprehension that the ‘stolen weapons’ might have been handed over to ‘terrorists or criminals’ for a song.

This has raised a question whether there was some official behind the explosion in district courts on February 19 who wanted to destroy record of the ‘stolen material? or, is it wise to describe the explosion as mere negligence when it was already termed a ‘scam’ in the interim report?

Then S.P. (City) Mr Kunwar Vijay Partap Singh had recommended immediate shifting of the ‘malkhana’ to some safer place but it was ignored by senior officers for extraneous reasons. He had also recommended the inspection of the ‘malkhana’ twice in a year by a gazetted officer. It could not be followed up. The interim report had also pointed out that the explosive, arms and ammunition should be stacked separately and a senior police official should be made in charge of the ‘malkhana’.

A senior police officer had given a ‘clean chit’ to the head constable who was found to be involved in stealing and selling of the fire-arms from the malkhana. An interstate smuggler and criminal Prabjinder Singh alias Dimpi who enjoys the patronage of political bigwigs of Haryana was declared Proclaimed Offender in connection with the purchasing of arms from this ‘malkhana’. It is a coincident that the name of Dimpi figured again in the killing of Darshan Kumar Bajakhana near Rampura Phul (Bathinda) on February 19 the day when explosion took place in courts here. It is believed that Dimpi and his associates had committed the killing of Bajakhana with weapons stolen from malkhana here.

Earlier, the “scam” of the stealing of weapons was unearthed in September, 2002 with the chance arrest of a cop by the Ropar police yet the practice had been going unchecked for a long time. However, this was for the first time that the “theft” from the “malkhanas” had been detected. The Ropar police had arrested two constables — Tejinder Paul Singh and Kulwant Singh — both of Amritsar along with some other persons including Sunesh Joshi of Delhi, Narinder Paul Singh Gill of Manimajra and Sucha Singh of Amritsar. A case was also registered against Kulwant Singh and Buta Singh — both constables at the Civil Lines here under Section 409 of the Indian Penal Code.

The Punjab and Haryana High Court had taken serious note of the fact that seized contrabands, instead of being disposed of after due procedure have been kept in “malkhanas. The court had directed the Home Secretaries of Punjab, Haryana and Chandigarh to file affidavits in this regard.

Malkhana to be shifted

Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner said today that the ‘malkhana’ would be shifted to 40 km away from the city. In a letter written to the Chief Secretary, the Deputy Commissioner said that the explosives would be disposed of under the supervision of the Army experts.


Sukhbir Badal’s clout grows
Gets Ludhiana LS seat for confidant
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal has started calling the shots in the SAD headed by his father, Mr Parkash Singh Badal. Its clear proof is the allocation of the Ludhiana LS seat to Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon, President of the SAD Youth wing, today.

For long, the senior Badal resisted the nomination of Mr Dhillon. He wanted to field Mr Apinder Singh Grewal, a former Mayor, or Mr Mahesh Inder Singh Grewal. However, he finally bowed to the junior Badal, who strongly backed the candidature of Mr Dhillon.

In fact, Mr Dhillon has been rewarded for his loyalty to Mr Sukhbir Singh in particular and to the Badal family in general. It was Mr Dhillon, who mobilised youth activists in large numbers in support of the Badal family, when it was facing what the Badals describe persecution at the hands of the Vigilance Bureau. Mr Dhillon organised demonstrations against bureau teams. He had also deployed youth activists as guards at certain Badal family properties to keep watch on Vigilance.

Mr Dhillon recently mounted an extensive advertisement campaign to project the junior Badal as a frontline leader of the party. However, the junior Badal will have to weather many a storm in the party for backing Mr Dhillon. Several senior SAD leaders dislike the growing clout of the junior Badal in the party.

The peculiar characteristic of standing by loyalists has been inherited by the junior Badal from his father. The senior Badal has accommodated his loyalists at the remaining Lok Sabha seats except Patiala, Ropar and Tarn Taran.

Mr Zora Singh Mann, who has been renominated from Ferozepore, has been with the Badal family for long. Mr Charanjit Singh Atwal, who was specially picked up as Speaker by Mr Badal ignoring Mr Ravi Inder Singh, during his five-year rule from 1997-2002, is also a confidant of the family. Same is true in the case of Mrs Paramjit Kaur Gulshan from Bathinda and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa from Sangrur.

But Dr Rattan Singh Ajnala, who has been put up from Tarn Taran, is not considered close to Mr Badal. Dr Ajnala belongs to the Ranjit Singh Brahmpura group, which has been formed by senior leaders of the SAD from the Majha region to counter Mr Surinder Singh Kairon and his son, Mr Adesh Partap Singh Kairon, a son-in-law of Mr Badal. The Brahmpura group always maintains its own political line on various party issues. It rarely signs on the dotted line.

The Tohra group has got two Lok Sabha seats-Ropar and Patiala. At the time of unity between Mr Tohra and Mr Badal, it was agreed that the Tohra group would get three seats — either two Lok Sabha seats and one Rajya Sabha seat or vice versa. But Mr Badal cleverly pushed Capt Kanwaljit Singh in to the Tohra group by nominating him against Mr Tohra’s quota.

At present, the Badal group, dominates in the party. The senior Badal has ousted Capt Kanwajit Singh from the party’s mainstream group. Capt Kanwaljit Singh will now not be able to claim anything from the Badal group’s share but remain dependent on what is offered to Mr Tohra. The Barnala group has not been given any ticket.

As the BSP high command could not clear its stand on tieup with the SAD, Mr Parkash Singh Badal did not leave any seat for the party today. The SAD has left three Lok Sabha seats — Hoshiarpur, Gurdaspur and Amritsar — for the BJP, its electoral ally.


Rebellion in SAD over Dhillon’s nomination
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, February 24
Rebellion has started brewing in the Shiromani Akali Dal after the party announced the candidature of Mr Sharanjit Singh Dhillon for this Lok Sabha constituency. Not only leaders owing allegiance to the SGPC President, Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, even those loyal to the SAD President, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, have come out against his Mr Dhillon’s candidature.

Senior leader of the party Surjan Singh Thekedar urged Mr Badal to reconsider his decision of nominating Mr Dhillon. He said that despite being a patron of the party, he had not been consulted before the announcement of Mr Dhillon’s name as candidate.

Mr Rajiner Singh Bhatia, a local councillor and son of senior vice-president of the SAD Amarjit Singh Bhatia has also opposed the nomination. Mr Bhatia has been a Badal loyalist.


SAD (A) hints at fielding jailed militants
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 24
Criticising SAD (Badal) for ignoring the interests of “Punjabis” for supporting the cause of the BJP in the state and at the Centre, SAD (Amritsar) today hinted at fielding jailed Sikh militants in the coming elections.

Addressing a press conference here today, the general secretary of SAD (A), Dr Harjinder Jakhu, said his party was interested in fielding Prof Davinder Pal Singh Bhullar, Mr Daljit Singh Bittu and Kukki Gill, at present languishing in jails for their alleged involvement in terror activities, as party candidates during the coming Lok Sabha elections.

“In case, they express their desire to contest elections from Punjab, we are ready to allot them party tickets from any of nine parliamentary seats, except Sangrur, Bathinda, Ropar and Phillour,” he said, adding that his party was committed to safeguard the interests of Sikh Panthic leaders, who were languishing in jails, for supporting the cause of independent Sikh state.

Launching a fresh salvo on SAD chief and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, he said Mr Badal was working as a tool of the BJP which was evident from the fact that nothing had been done on long-pending demands of the state during the past five years.

Dr Jakhu supported the move of the newly formed Panthik Parliamentary Board to field its candidates in Punjab to ensure defeat of SAD-BJP candidates.


BJP media convention on February 29
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 24
The BJP, in a bid to impart media training to its senior functionaries in this region, had decided to hold a media convention at Chandigarh on February 29.

State BJP chief Avinash Rai Khanna said in a communication received from the party high command, it had been asked to hold a media convention for senior party leaders who would be dealing with the media.

BJP leaders, including Mr Arun Jaitley, Mr Parkash Javedkar and Mr Parbhat Jha, would give tips on handling the media and its use during campaigns.


Zira to contest as Independent
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, February 24
Former minister and Akali leader Inderjit Singh Zira has decided to contest the coming Lok Sabha elections as an Independent. Talking to this reporter Mr Zira said he was contesting the elections in protest against the treatment meted out to him and other Akali workers at the hands of Mr Parkash Singh Badal.

Mr Zira said if he was expelled from the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), he might think of joining some other party. He said Mr Badal had promised him that all senior officer-bearers of the Sarb Hind Shiromani Akali Dal (SHSAD), would be accorded suitable posts after the merger of the two parties, but he was sidelined and always neglected. About the statement of Mr Badal, in which he had accused Mr Zira of working for the interest of the Congress on the directions of Mr Ravi Inder Singh, Mr Zira said Mr Ravi Inder was a close relative of Mr Badal and he knew him only in the capacity of an MLA.


Fernandes favoured firm, alleges Buta
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 24
Former Union Home Minister and Chairman of Public Accounts Committee in Parliament Buta Singh today alleged that Union Defence Minister George Fernandes was involved in another scam and demanded a probe by a Supreme Court judge into it.

Talking to newsmen at the residence of his nephew and Punjab Social Welfare Minister Joginder Singh Mann here, Mr Buta Singh said Mr Fernandes had helped Thane-based Fair Trading Company, owned by his friend RB Pandit, in getting Rs 16 crore exemption from sales tax.

The company had exported hospital equipments on which sales tax of Rs 22 crore was imposed but Mr Fernandes wrote a recommending letter to the finance minister and got the exemption for him, he alleged. This was on record of Parliament, he claimed. Besides the coffin scam, Mr Fernades was also involved in this scam for which a judicial probe was required, he asserted.

Putting at rest all speculations, Mr Buta Singh declared that he was not contesting Lok Sabha polls from Punjab. I would prefer my constituency of Jallaur in Rajasthan. He projected Mrs Sonia Gandhi as the next Prime Minister and claimed that the Congress would win an absolute majority in the coming polls. He took to task Mr Arun Jaitley, Union Law Minister, for raking up her foreign origin issue at Phagwara rally yesterday.

The NDA had neither any public agenda nor any issue but was trying to sustain itself on India shining campaign, he said.


Why Punjab went in for vote-on-account?
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The advice of the Election Commission of India to the states to opt for a vote-on-account, instead of regular budgets as far as possible, is one reason why Punjab has decided to postpone presentation of the regular budget by three months.

The vote-on-account is to be presented to the Vidhan Sabha, which is likely to meet on March 11 and 12, it is learnt.

It was the Commission that had asked the state chief electoral officers to advise their respective governments on vote-on-account. Accordingly, Punjab Chief Electoral Officer, G.S. Cheema wrote to the Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill. Informed sources said earlier it was proposed to postpone presentation of the formal budget by four months. Mr Gill, however, had favoured postponement by three months.

Besides the Commission’s advice, there were other reasons, as well, why Punjab preferred a vote-on-account. The Principal Secretary, Finance, Mr B R Bajaj, said due to the severity of the financial crisis and the huge budgetary deficit, development had taken a back seat. Without proper financial management, it was difficult to reduce budgetary deficit and make Punjab ‘’revenue surplus’’, once again. This could happen only if the debt burden was reduced and expenditure capped. For this to happen short, medium and long-term measures were needed.

Mr Bajaj said these measures had a certain gestation period. Therefore, firm steps were required to generate resources to at least fund the state Plans. The Plan Resource Committee, headed by the Planning Board Vice-Chairman, Dr S.S. Johl, was seized of the issues involved and was discussing possible revenue mobilisation measures with departments concerned and stakeholders. This committee would present its recommendations to the council of ministers in the form of a memorandum and not a report. Dr Johl holds cabinet minister rank and can do so.

Mr Bajaj said it was a misnomer to describe revenue mobilisation as a ‘’harsh’’ measure or that something unique only to Punjab was on the anvil. The purpose of the committee, he said, was to broaden the tax base, study levying of appropriate user charges on the social and economic services provided to the people, review the rollback in respect of several user charges or reduction and withdrawal of the sales tax or other decisions involving financial losses that had eroded revenue by at least Rs 250 crore this year.

Insiders said ‘’political compulsions’’ were yet another reason, for the vote-on-account. If there were to be a regular budget session prior to the Lok Sabha elections, it would have caused much political embarrassment to the government. The vote-on-account would now enable the treasury benches to avoid controversial political engagement with the opposition as well as include in the regular budget the proposed ‘’harsh’’ measures, so urgently needed to implement the reforms and save Punjab from financial bankruptcy.

“The Commission”, a minister said, ‘’has helped political governments to mobilise votes through several means, including vote-on-account’’.

Thus, the brief Vidhan Sabha session was expected to give the Amarinder Singh government a political breather, as it works its way on various reforms and resource mobilisation. However, much would depend in the post-election period on the outcome of the Lok Sabha elections.


Home Ministry questions status of ‘revolutionists’
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
The Union Ministry of Home Affairs has refused to recognise Kama Gata Maru revolutionists as freedom fighters.

In a written statement filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, the Ministry has claimed that the “revolutionists” were not involved in the freedom struggle.

Seeking directions for dismissing a public interest litigation challenging the denial of freedom fighter status to “revolutionists”, the Ministry has asserted that “merely because the occupants of Kama Gata Maru left the country in 1914-15 and spent some amount and suffered some sort of assault, it does not establish that they participated in the freedom movement or there was any connection with the freedom struggle”.

It was added that the “petitioner has failed to establish any connection between the incident and the struggle for freedom against the British rule. Merely stating that a group of people hired a ship and went up to Canada for violating the immigration rules does not establish that they were fighting against the British rule”.

After going through the reply, petitioner Malwinder Jit Singh Waraich of Saketri, near here, asked the Bench to grant him time for filing replication in the matter for rebutting the contention.

The petitioner had earlier stated that the Kama Gata Maru movement had not been included in the Swatantarta Sainik Samman pension scheme. Going into the background of the case, the petitioner had submitted that Kama Gata Maru — a ship carrying 376 Indian emigrants to Canada — was refused entry to Canada.

He had added that the ship remained stranded for two months from May 21, 1914. In July, 1914, the revolutionists were provided with just the ration for their return journey. In September, 1914, when the ship reached India, travellers were arrested or fired upon.


Employees demand right to strike
Tribune Reporters

Bathinda, February 24
Thousands of members of the Punjab Bank Employees Federation, Punjab Mulazam Sangharsh Committee, Paramedical Staff Union, Income Tax Staff Union, Medical Representatives Association, BSNL Employees Union, TSU, Kisan Sabha and MES Workers Union today took out a march and held a rally here in protest against the verdict on strikes given by the Supreme Court.

Union leaders demanded that the Centre should ensure that the right to strike is not taken away from the worker. The strike affected the functioning of the public-sector links.

Fazilka: All public-sector banks observed strike here on Tuesday in response to the nationwide call given by employees’ organisations to protest against the Supreme Court directive on strikes.

Employees of the Punjab State Electricity Board, the municipal council and several Central and state government offices also joined the strike.

Apart from rallies in front of government offices, a large rally was held by the All-Employees Coordination Committee at Udam Singh Chowk.

Speakers at the rally criticised the alleged anti-people and anti-employee policies of the NDA government. They flayed the “feel-good factor” being claimed by the Vajpayee government and its policy of privatisation.

BARNALA: Banking services here were paralysed on Tuesday as bank staff responded to the all-India strike call given by the United Forum of Bank Unions.

SIRSA: The bandh call given by various employees’ unions evoked a mixed response here it hampered the Haryana Roadways and bank services while Class-I and II insurance employees attended office and power supply and postal services were not affected.

Attendance in the state government offices was low.

The Sirsa Employees Union claimed that the strike was historic as bank, insurance, postal, forest and even kiln workers participated in it.

Employees held a meeting in the town park. Leaders demanded the reinstatement of MITC employees and the fulfilment of promises made by the Haryana Government.

ABOHAR: The Technical Services Union held protest rallies here on Tuesday. However, other demonstrations were cancelled as a senior union leader, Mr Krishan Lal (44), died of a heart attack. Business activities were affected due to the strike in banks here. Safai karamcharis of the municipal council also went on strike after reporting on duty in the morning.


Banks, electricity board work affected
Tribune Reporters

Patiala, February 24
Work at banks was disrupted today with officers affiliated to the United Forum of Bank Unions observing a strike in protest against the verdict given by the Supreme Court on the right to strike.

Officers of the State Bank of Patiala in its headquarters here and various branches in the district observed a complete strike. Associate Banks Officers Association secretary Amar Singh disclosed that officers and employees of banks in the country were agitating on account of the failure of the government to take note of sentiments of the working class in the view of the Supreme Court order.

Punjab Bank Employees Federation secretary G.S. Dhillon and All-India Bank Employees Association joint secretary N.K. Gaur addressed a rally in front of the State Bank of Patiala headquarters. They demanded early conclusion of wage revision and option of pension of all employees.

Income Tax Employees Federation Group “C” also observed a complete strike, its circle secretary general Sudhir Khanna said. The Sanchar Nigam Executives Association held a gate rally in front of the Head Post Office, which was addressed by its district President Davinder Kumar.

Work in the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) also suffered with various organisations, including the Employees Federation, the Bijli Mulazim Front, the Employees Struggle Committee and the Technical Services Union, taking part in the protest in solidarity with central trade unions. According to Mr Jasmel Singh Dhindsa of the Employees Struggle Committee, employees abstained from work in Muktsar, Sangrur, Bathinda, Patiala, Ludhiana, Ropar, Mohali, Faridkot and Jalandhar. He claimed the strike was complete in the Patiala Circle.

Meanwhile, PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra today thanked all employees who attended work today. He claimed that the strike did not have any impact in the PSEB Secretariat here and all thermal and hydro-generation plants functioned smoothly. He said adequate arrangements had been made to maintain regular power supply to all consumers, adding that it had been decided to take disciplinary action against board employees who participated in today’s strike. Besides not being paid for the strike period, absence from duty today would be treated as break in service.

FATEHGARH SAHIB: Members of the Technical Service Union belonging to sub divisions of Badali Ala Singh, Chor Wala, Sirhind, Bassi Pathana and Sirhind(R) observed a strike today. They also organised rallies at their respective subdivisions in protest against the electricity Bill 2003,as well as against the move to privatise the PSEB.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Mangat Singh, mandal president of the union demanded the immediate scrapping of electricity Bill 2003, dropping the move of privatising the PSEB and to remove the ban on strike imposed by the Supreme Court. He said the employees had demanded that the rights of the trade union should be restored. He alleged that the management of the PSEB was compulsory retiring the employees who had crossed 50 to 55 years. This should be immediately stopped, he demanded.

It was also sought that a family member of those employees, who died during service, should be given job. The Union condemned the decision of the PSEB management to stop the pension benefit to work charge employees by putting them under the workmen category.

They demanded that work charge employees should be made Assistant Linemen.

Mr Puran Singh, Mr Mewa Ram, Mr Satnam Singh, Mr Naib Singh, Mr Samsher Singh and Mr Surjit Singh Badochi also addressed the gathering.

Meanwhile, all branches of nationalised banks in the district remained closed due to the one day nationwide strike call.

A large number of employees of these banks assembled in front of the Punjab National Bank, Sirhind, and held a rally in support of their demands. The strike was complete in the district, claimed union leaders.

Addressing the rally, Mr B.K. Jethi, zonal secretary, Punjab Employees Federation, said the stir had been launched against the Supreme Court verdict on the right to strike. The government’s move to privatise the public sector was callous, he said. Its decision on wage revision of the staff had been pending since November 2002. Mr V.K. Takyar, union leader, also addressed the meeting.

ROPAR: Employees of the various government departments went on strike against the privatisation policies of the government in response to the nationwide call of their unions.

The employees of the Punjab Roadways held a dharna outside their Ropar depot. Later they blocked the entry and exit points of the bus stand for about half an hour and raised slogans against the Punjab and Union Governments.

The employees of the PSEB held a dharna at the 132-KW substation in the morning and struck work. INTUC dissociated itself from the strike.

Employees of the Forest Department also held a strike in front of their office.


Police accused of implicating innocent
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, February 24
If allegations in a complaint filed before the Punjab State Human Rights Commission are to be believed, then the police has implicated an innocent in an attempt to save an Amritsar resident accused of being involved in his wife’s murder.

The action was allegedly taken to save the husband as he was close to Amritsar’s Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) and other “high officials”.

Taking a serious view of the matter, the commission has now directed Punjab’s Additional Director General of Police (Crime) and the SSP to appear before it on March 9. A case of murder under Section 302 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) was registered on November 16 last year at the Civil Lines Police Station in Amritsar after the victim died.

In the detailed order, the commission ruled: “During the pendency of the complaint, a challan has been put up under Section 306 of the IPC against accused Ravi Sher Singh, who was not an accused in the first information report. This, according to the complainant, is a fabrication to save main accused Gurdev Singh Randhawa, husband of the deceased. Counsel has stated that this was done by the local police under the directions of Amritsar SSP Kultar Singh”.

The commission further ruled: “Before proceeding further into the matter, the commission would like to hear ADGP (Crime) and Amritsar SSP. They are directed to appear before the commission”.


Oppn members ‘not invited’ to grievances
panel meetings
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, February 24
Jathedar Swaran Singh Panjgrain, senior state vice-president, Akali Dal (Amritsar), and Mr Narinder Mittal, general secretary, district unit of the BJP and members of the District Grievances Committee, Faridkot have expressed concern over the indifferent attitude of the Punjab Government to wards holding meetings of the bodies without ensuring the presence of their members particularly those belonging to different political parties thus regarding the very set back purpose for which these were set up.

In a press release here yesterday the two leaders said that the district authorities had in a written information alongwith the agenda, informed them to attend a meeting at 12 noon in the mini secretariat hall here on Monday Mr Harnam Dass Johar, Minister for Higher Education and Chairman of the committee held the meeting about three hours before the scheduled time thus depriving them from performing their duties. They impressed upon the state Government to direct the chairman to ensure the presence of all members of the committee.

Meanwhile in a press release representatives of different organisations lodged complaints against the improper functioning of various government departments like Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital and running of private clinics by doctors of the institution, the poor condition of the national highway, the efficient working of the District Pollution Board and the frequent movement of stray cattle in different areas of the district. Taking a serious view of the complaints Mr Johar directed the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Hussan Lal, to initiate necessary steps to resolve the grievances on top priority. The Chairman also asked the Deputy Commissioner to ensue the presence of the three MLAs including Mr Kushaldeep Singh Dhillon Mr Mantar Singh Brar and Mr Gurdev Singh Badal from Faridkot, Kotkapura and Panjgrain, respectively. Earlier, presiding over the board meeting Mr Johar directed the officers to pay proper attention to complete development works and other welfare schemes.


Awla appointed Punjab YC chief
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, February 24
Mr Raminder Singh Awla (29) has been appointed president of the Punjab Youth Congress Committee. He is the youngest Congress leader to be appointed Punjab Youth Congress chief. He has earlier been the vice-president of the state unit during 1999 and 2000.

Talking to mediapersons, he said he would work to strengthen the Youth Congress in the state.


Handling of abortion case raises eyebrows
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Rampura, February 24
The authorities of Guru Gobind Singh Medical College and Hospital (GGSMC), Faridkot, have again sent the foetus, recovered from a garbage dump in the town on February 7, to a Kolkata-based laboratory for a DNA test as earlier it was not accepted due to some technical shortcoming.

The 14-week-old foetus was first sent to the GGSMC by the local Civil Hospital authorities for a forensic examination. The GGSMC authorities sent the foetus to the Kolkata-based laboratory.

After the recovery of the foetus, a criminal case was registered against Dr Laxmi Garg, who runs a clinic in the town, for allegedly conducting an illegal abortion and subsequently throwing the foetus into a garbage dump. Dr Jaswant Singh, officiating Principal, GGSMC, said the hospital authorities had sent the foetus to Kolkata a few days ago, but it had been sent back as the documents, sent along with it were incomplete.

He said the documents did not carry the signatures of the police official and the investigation officer concerned. Besides, the FIR, which was in Punjabi, was not translated into English or Hindi, Which was required as per provisions. He said the police had removed the shortcoming and the foetus had again been sent to Kolkata.

However, eyebrows are being raised at the way the case has been handled.

Residents, who helped the police recover the foetus, say that ever since this case came to light, efforts have been made at various levels to hush up the matter.

Earlier, suspicion arose when Dr Laxmi Garg, who was arrested on February 7, was shifted to the Fardikot hospital where the foetus had also been sent for forensic examination, despite the fact that she was referred to Patiala by doctors of the local Civil Hospital, where she was admitted after she complained of pain in the chest while in police custody.

Dr S.K. Goyal, Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, said the process of cancelling the licence of the ultrasound centre being run by Dr Garg had been initiated. He added that a case under the PNDT Act would be registered against her.


Abandoned child gets birth certificate
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 24
Sakhsi, abandoned by “unknown parents” just after birth and adopted by an issueless couple today got birth certificate after the couple who adopted her fought for it more than five months.

In the birth certificate issued today, she has been shown as daughter of Dr Mahinder Singh and Mrs Kiran.

Earlier, Registrar, Birth and Death-cum-Civil Surgeon, Bathinda, Dr S.K. Goyal refused to issue a birth certificate showing her as daughter of Dr Mahinder Singh and Mrs Kiran under the pretext that according to law as Sakhsi was abandoned after her birth, so she could be treated as abandoned child and could be issued a birth certificate as abandoned child.

Sakhsi, was found lying in the premises Qila Mubarak gurdwara of the town on September 1 was adopted an issueless couple of the town. She started growing the care of her “parents”.

Though the couple was happy but found it difficult to get the birth certificate of the ‘adopted’ daughter.

Dr Mahinder Singh told The Tribune that he had got the birth certificate of his daughter mentioning himself her father and his wife as mother of Sakhsi according to guidelines by the Government of India in 1989 by following a judgement of the Supreme Court in a case which recognised the need for issuing a birth certificate to adopted children showing the name of adoptive parents.


World Bank grant to research centre hiked
Our Correspondent

Abohar, February 24
The World Bank, under the crop diversification plan has enhanced by Rs. 1 crore grant for research work at the Central Institute of Post Harvest Engineering and Technology (CIPHET) here. The institute had succeeded in bringing down losses in production and marketing by 17 per cent with an aid of Rs 3 crore from the World Bank.

Dr R.K. Jain in charge of the institute, at the concluding ceremony of four days’ training and visit programme sponsored by the Indian Farmer Fertilizers Cooperative Ltd. (IFFCO) said here yesterday evening that research scientists had found traditional fruits and vegetables growing very useful for this area. AONLA preparations besides Guava leather (Papad) could be popular in the coming days.

Mr Nahar Singh Mavi Area Manager, IFFCO said the organisation aimed at bringing a sea change in the rural life, This would help in checking migration to towns.

Mr Jai Parkash, Deputy Registrar, Cooperation, exhorted that farmers would have to give up the “talk more work less” Mrs Mangi Devi, Ms Soma Rani and others educated the participants on hygienic and economical preparation of several eatables. Mr N.K. Bhatia and Mr R.L. Sethi spoke about better ways of cattle welfare. Among the participants Ms Asha Thakur, Ms Pushpa Devi and Ms Kashmir Kaur shared their experience about visit to the War Memorial of 4 Jats Regiment near the Indo-Pak border, historic places of religious importance and food processing units in the region.


CJM’s daughter’s case to be re-investigated

Moga, February 24
Senior Superintendent Police Anita Punj today ordered reinvestigation of the case got registered against 11 persons by Savita, daughter of Chief Judicial Magistrate Moga J K Mattu, including her husband, father-in-law, mother-in-law and others, for demanding dowry and threat of murder.

Ms Punj said here today that Jatinder Singh DSP had been deputed for the reinvestigation.

The accused according to SSP alleged that none of them ever visited the residence of the Chief Judicial Magistrate Moga on February 20 and question of alleged threat did not arise.

Ms Savita alleged that her in-laws entered her father’s house when he (her father) was away.

She alleged that they beat her and other family members up and her husband threatened her at gun point. — PTI


Railway overbridge at Dhuri to cost Rs 27.50 cr
Tribune News Service

Dhuri (Sangrur), February 24
A long-standing demand of the local residents is likely to be fulfilled soon with the laying of the foundation stone of a railway overbridge across two level-crossings here today. The foundation stone was laid by Mr B.R. Patil, Union Minister of State for Railways, at the local railway station.

The railway overbridge will cost Rs 27.50 crore.

Later, a function was also held at the old grain market here in connection with the foundation stone laying ceremony, which was attended by hundreds for persons.

Addressing the gathering, Mr B.R. Patil promised that the overbridge would complete soon. He said the Vajpayee-led NDA government had launched a countrywide River joro, rail joro and road joro” programme. He also said the NDA government had started a Rs 15,000-crore rail development scheme to inter-link the entire country. He asked the gathering to vote for the SAD-BJP alliance.

Mrs Surjit Kaur Barnala, wife of Mr Surjit Singh Barnala, expressed her dissatisfaction, especially over the allotment of party ticket in Sangrur, by Mr Parkash Singh Badal.


Pakhoke flayed for opening Sena office
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, February 24
Several Sikh organisations today sent a memorandum to the Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, against Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, senior vice-president of the SGPC, for becoming the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the office of the local unit of the Shiv Sena here. They demanded his expulsion from the Panth.

Mr Harmandeep Singh Sarhali of the Khalra Mission Committee, Mr Pal Singh of the Waheguru Simran Sewa Society and others in the memorandum have alleged that Mr Pakhoke was the chief guest at the opening ceremony of the Shiv Sena office on February 22 and that “tilak” was applied on his forehead, which was against Sikh tenets.

Mr Pakhoke, in a clarification sent to The Tribune office, denied “tilak” application. Mr Ashawanu Kumar Kuku, a Shiv Sena leader, in a press note issued here, also denied tilak application.


Police to launch ‘samparak campaign’
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 24
The police will launch a ‘samparak campaign’ in the Jalandhar range next month. This was stated by Mr Paramjit Singh Sarao, DIG (Jalandhar range), while talking to newspersons here yesterday. He said the campaign would be launched in Kapurthala district first and later it would be introduced in other districts.

Monthly meetings would be organised in all subdivisions where DSPs of the area concerned would listen to the problems of people and try to solve these on the spot. He himself would participate in these meetings along with SSPs to make the campaign a success.

Later, Mr Sarao along with Mr Lok Nath Angra, SSP, Hoshiarpur, convened a meeting of gazetted police officers at Police Lines to review the law and order situation.


Border farmers stage protest
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 24
Farmers of 43 border villages, who were issued notices to vacate their land, today held a protest rally in front of the Ajnala SDM’s office.

They have been staging a dharna for the past 40 days.

Mr Satnam Singh, president of the farmers wing of the SAD (A), said a delegation of the wing would meet the Governor tomorrow.

He threatened that the union would approach the Supreme Court if the farmers were not given justice.


SC status for Rai Sikhs mooted

Chandigarh, February 24
The Punjab Government has recommended the inclusion of the 'Rai Sikh community' in the list of Scheduled Castes to the Union Government.

This was stated in an official press note by the Social Welfare Minister, Mr Joginder Singh Mann, here today. A survey to identify Rai families in the state had been done by Punjabi University, Patiala. — TNS


SGPC budget on March 15
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, February 24
Predicting advancement of the Lok Sabha elections, the general house session of the SGPC has been convened on March 15 to pass its annual budget.

This was confirmed by Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, SGPC secretary, here today. The letters had been dispatched to all members of the general house.

A jatha of 3,000 Sikh pilgrims would leave for Pakistan on April 5 and return on April 15.


Skipping 136 times in 15 seconds
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 24
Mr Ranjit Pal today gave a skipping performance in the presence of SDM Pritam Singh and nagar council president Malkiat Singh Ragbotra. He skipped a rope for 136 times in 15 seconds which he claimed was a world record.

A pressnote tonight said the SDM gave Mr Pal a certificate. Mr Pal claimed that he could skip 150 times in 15 seconds and wanted to enter the Limca Book of Records and the Guinness Book of World Record.


Gen J.J. Singh visits Jalandhar
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, February 24
The Western Command chief, Lieut-Gen J.J. Singh, was today briefed about operational and allied matters by the GOC-in-C, Vajra Corps, Lieut-Gen S. Pattabhiraman. It was his first visit here after taking over the reins of the command.

General J.J. Singh was introduced to various formation commanders and staff officers of the corps. Later, he interacted with ex-servicemen and heard their problems.


Youth fails in love, ends life
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, February 24
The body of a youth who reportedly committed suicide was found today on the railway track near Gobindpura. The head was severed from the trunk. A suicide note said failed love was behind the extreme step. The note mentions the name of his love and that of the person who opposed the affair.

The youth’s name as mentioned in the note is Narinder Singh of Dhapran village. He was in his twenties.


BKU activists block PSEB gates
Our Correspondent

Patiala, February 24
Activists of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta)Ugrahan group and the Kisan Sangharsh Committee blocked the three gates of the PSEB headquarters for nearly three hours in protest against the state government’s move to privatise the board.

The activists did not allow employees, including Secretary of PSEB Jaspreet Talwar, to enter office premise till 12 noon. They blocked the Mall road due to which the traffic had to be diverted. Addressing the gathering TSU leader Vijay Dev said the state government’s decision to privatise the board was “anti- farmer” and would add to the economic burden of farmers in the State.

He demanded that the state government should provide free water and power supply to farmers. Speaking on the occasion, BKU (Ekta) president Joginder Singh demanded that a bonus of Rs 30 be given to the farmers per quintal of paddy.

The farmers also demanded that 50 per cent subsidy be given on diesel for agriculture purposes. General Secretary of BKU (Ekta) Sukhdev Singh stated that the state government should increase the rate of crops. He added that the government should also dismiss cases registered against the farmers during various agitations. He also demanded that state government should give compensation to the farmers of boarder areas of the state.

The farmers added that they would intensify their struggle if the state government failed to resolve the issue. Members of the PSEB Employees Federation also supported the agitating farmers.


Panchayats to distribute pension
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, February 24
Powers have been delegated to the Panchyati Raj institution by allocating the pension amount to panchayats for the first time. The panchayats have been given cash amount to distribute the pensions in respective villages. The beneficiaries will get the pension in cash at their doorsteps and they need not go to banks to get the pension, said Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, while handing over a demand drafts worth Rs 1.38 crore to the BDPOs. They will hand over the cash to panchayats.

Mr Ahluwalia said the District Social Security Officer had handed over a demand draft worth Rs 1,38,11,000 to the Rural Development Department. The BDPOs after drawing cash from the banks would hand over it to respective villages as per the lists prepared by the Social Security Department.

He claimed that the delegation of more powers to panchayati raj bodies had started yielding good results. The involvement of elected representatives had ensured that only genuine persons benefited from government sponsored schemes.

He said the panchayats were being provided grants for the development purpose and more than Rs 2 crore, had been released under plan and non plan schemes to the rural areas. Similarly, the grants worth Rs 7 crore had been distributed out of Rs 14 crore received under the MPLAD funds scheme.


Father held for killing daughter’s paramour

Morinda (Ropar), February 24
The father and brothers of Manjit Kaur, a resident of Doomcheri village, allegedly killed her paramour, Paramjit Singh, yesterday.

Police sources said Paramjit Singh, a resident of Chano village in Fatehgarh district, used to visit Manjit Kaur, wife of Avtar Singh.

Manjit Kaur’s father and brothers had warned him against having a relationship with her, they said.

Yesterday night, when Paramjit Singh came to meet Manjit Kaur at her residence, her father and brothers overpowered and killed him with swords.

The police has booked five persons, including Manjit Kaur, her father Amar Singh, brothers Jaspinder Singh and Balbir Singh and Harbajan Singh and Krishan Singh, under Sections 302, 148, 149 and 120-B of the IPC. While Manjit Kaur and Amar Singh have been arrested, others are absconding.


SDO chargesheeted for fund misuse
Lalit Mohan

Ropar, February 24
A case of Drainage Department officials here misutilising Rs 12 lakh, given as loan by Nabard to the Punjab Government, has come to light.

According to sources, Drainage Department officials here received Rs 98.81 lakh as loan from Nabard in 2002 for the construction of studs on the right side of the Sutlej near Shahpur Bela village in Anandpur Sahib. The work was completed with the allotted funds the same year.

However, after six months the new Executive Engineer of the department once again demanded and received Rs 12 lakh from Nabard for the same work. This time the amount was reportedly diverted by the officials concerned for unspecified works. Also, no records are now available regarding the use of the sum.

The government is paying an interest of about Rs 2 lakh per annum to Nabard on this amount without knowing what the money was spent on.

On the directions of the senior officials, the present Executive Engineer, Drainage, Mr Jassar, has prepared a chargesheet against the SDO, Mr Narinder Kumar Chopra, for misutilising the funds. He has also been charged with not keeping any record of the expenditure and misleading senior officers. A move has also been initiated to recover the amount from the SDO.

Mr Jassar, when contacted, admitted that the chargesheet had been prepared. However, he declined to give the details.

According to the sources, action could also be initiated against the then Executive Engineer and three Junior Engineers under whose supervision the funds were utilised.


Forest India MD arrested
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, February 24
The Sadar police here has arrested managing director of Forest India Khushal Singh under Sections 420, 406, 120B of the IPC for cheating the public.

According to police sources, on the complaints of some investors of Forest India, a case was registered on August 25, 2003, in which they had alleged that the company collected about Rs 3 crore as deposits from them. On the maturity of their deposits, its office-bearers went under ground to avoid repayments to the investors. The police has already arrested Balbir Singh, an office-bearer of this company, and was searching Khushal Singh who was absconding.


2 patwaris caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 24
A Vigilance Bureau team, led by the DSP, Mr Ashutosh, caught Gurjit Singh, a patwari of Kot Batta village in the district, while taking a bribe of Rs 1,000 from Sukhwinder Singh for making entries in the mutation register.

In a press note issued here today, Mr Amrik Singh Waraich, SSP, Vigilance, Bathinda Range, said in another case a vigilance team, led by the DSP, Mr Baldev Singh, caught a patwari, Harbhajan Singh, while taking a bribe of Rs 500 from Balwinder Singh of Behiwal village Khurd in Faridkot for making entries in the mutation register.


Governor for change in higher education
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, February 24
The Governor, Justice O.P. Verma (retired), today stressed the need to change the entire system of higher education keeping in view the latest technology.

Delivering the 46th Annual Convocation address at the local DAV College here today, Justice Verma said with the expansion of information technology and globalisation Indian institutions of higher education must use the new technology for creating computer savvy professionals for emerging on the top of the world.

The Governor pointed out that the information explosion through easy accessibility of technology had upset the traditional learning which was teacher oriented. He appreciated the efforts of the Indian education think tank which had made it possible to blend the old system with the present technology and manage to produce the finest professionals which had made India proud. He said the young generation had proved to the world that it was amongst the best.

He said the system was the instrument in creating social awareness which had managed to stabilise and strengthen our democracy. He, however, pointed that there was a need to spread education to a majority of poor and deprived so that education became a mass movement.

Later, the Governor presented degrees to 700 postgraduates and graduates. Earlier Principal M.L. Aeri highlighted the achievements of the college. Mr R.L. Bhatia, Former MP, Justice R.N. Mittal, vice-president of the DAV College Managing Committee were also present.


Inter-Zonal Youth Festival begins

Patiala, February 24
Punjabi University Campus team and Government Rajindra College, Bathinda, won first and second position, respectively, in the Jhoomer competition held on the first day of Inter- Zonal Youth Festival-2004 at Punjabi University here today.

In the Giddha competition, Harkishan Girls College, Phallewal (Sangrur Zone) and Public College, Samana (Patiala Zone) won first and second prize, respectively. The festival was inaugurated by the Secretary General, Association of Indian Universities (AIU), New Delhi, Mr Dyanand Dongaokar.

The Vice-Chancellor Punjabi University, Sawarn Singh Boparai, presided over the function. Appreciating university efforts for its contribution in reviving and promoting the cultural heritage of Punjab through the youth festival, Mr Dongaokar appealed to the other universities of the region to follow the suit.

The Association of Indian Universities was planning to organise international youth festivals, he added.

Mr Boparai said during the youth festival, the students would project changing trends in the society. Such activities provide an opportunity to the youth to sublimate their energies to create a better culture .

The Director, Youth Welfare, Prof Suneeta Dhir, said nearly 400 student artistes from various colleges of four zones were participating in 36 events of performing arts spread over various sessions during the festival.


Industrialists resent non-issuance of subsidy bonds
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, February 24
Even as the state government has been celebrating the current year as “development year”, thousands of industrialists of the state are being driven from pillar to post to get capital and interest subsidy.

A number of small and medium-scale units in Punjab have been facing closure and several units have closed as these had not been given subsidy by the government for the past several years.

Earlier, a large number of industrial units had shifted to Haryana, Rajasthan and Himachal Pradesh during militancy. After militancy was tackled the successive state governments did not bother to fulfil their responsibilities to revive the industry in the state.

Mr Varinder Mohan Garg and Mr M.R. Madaan, president of the Bathinda Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and press secretary of the Consumer Welfare Counsel (Bathinda), respectively, in a press note here today alleged that the state government was deliberately delaying the issuance of convertible bonds to industrialists in lieu of the subsidy amount despite a notification issued in this regard by the government on November 25, 2002.

They alleged that Chief Minister, Amarinder Singh had been making statements that the bonds would be issued to woo industrialists when the Lok Sabha elections were round the corner.

They pointed out that the government was to pay about Rs 600 crore to industrial units in the form of different categories of subsidy and in the past six years, not a single penny against the subsidy had been paid. They said about 25 per cent units in Punjab had closed down due to the non-payment of subsidies.

They said the government was bound to issue bonds worth Rs 100 crore in its first series on April 1, 2003, and then it was bound to issue more bonds in its second series worth Rs 100 crore on April 1, 2004. By continuing this process, the government was bound to meet its liabilities on April 1, 2008. However, it had failed to issue the first series of the bonds.

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