P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Narinder quits as Conductor of Exams
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 22
The Controller of Examinations, Punjab School Education Board, Mrs Narinder Kaur, today surrendered her charge as Conductor of Examinations while retaining her powers as the Controller. This comes in the wake of the widespread leakage of Class X and XII question papers leading to the cancellation and postponement of papers.

In another development, one of the five committee members chosen by the board to inquire into the matter today resigned from the committee following reports of his being involved in the examination process himself.

In a written request to the Secretary of the board, Mrs Narinder Kaur stated that her being in the position was bringing negative publicity to the board and in the interest of the office she wanted to step down. She further requested that any senior officer whom the board deemed fit, should take up the charge and ensure smooth re-conduct of examinations due to begin on April 1.

Other than the Controller, the Assistant Secretary (Confidential), Mr M.M. Bansal, also chose to go on long leave and in a separate request to the Secretary, mentioned that he was under tremendous pressure and his health did not allow him to work under stress. The two requests given to the Secretary of the board, Mr Mahinder Bir Singh, were, according to sources, accepted. Sources also stated that an official of the level of a Deputy Secretary was being considered by the board to be given the responsibility surrendered by Mrs Narinder Kaur.

When contacted Mrs Narinder Kaur stated that she had been receiving anonymous telephone calls to the effect that they will not allow the examination process to go on smoothly. ‘‘I felt that there are some people who are trying to jeopardize the whole examination process due to some personal vendetta and even the earlier leakage was part of a well planned conspiracy to unstablise my position in the board. In order to avoid a similar happening, I have asked the Chairman to relieve me of the responsibility of getting the examinations conducted,’’she said, adding that with just a month to retire, it is in the interest of the office that she take a back seat and let some other senior officer do the work.

Mr Lok Nath Sharma, a member of the committee constituted by the board to inquire into the paper leakage, resigned from the committee. Sources stated that according to the reports in certain vernacular newspapers, Mr Sharma had been involved in the examination process himself as a paper setter and thus could not inquire into the process.

Meanwhile, members of the committee today started the probe into the leakage. All the officers involved in the examination process, including the Secretary of the board, Mr Mahinder Bir Singh, were questioned at length by the committee members.

Sources stated that the members were told by the various officers that the leakage of the question papers could also be the result of an internal strife going on within the board due to which many senior officers in the board did not see eye to eye. Sources pointed out that these differences had increased following the six-month extension in service given to the Chairman of the board, Dr Kehar Singh, while some other officers were trying for the post. The leakage was allegedly initiated by those who wanted to harm the position of the COE and the Chairman.

Meanwhile, Mr Anurag Aggarwal also started his inquiry into the paper leakage today. Letters were received by different board employees from him to meet him. When contacted Mr Aggarwal stated that his role in the board was limited to the conduct of the inquiry the details off which he would not reveal.


Report on paper leak by weekend
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
Punjab School Education Board Chairman Kehar Singh said today that the five-member sub committee, which had been constituted to probe the Class X mathematics paper leak, would submit its report by the end of this week.

Talking to newsperson here, Mr Kehar Singh said the board would take action against officials responsible for the leak. He said though the board followed the same process for paper setting as done by various universities, negligence by certain officials seemed to be responsible for the paper leak.

The board chairman said the datesheet of some practical papers, which had been affected due to the recent cancellation of few papers, was being re-issued. He said the examination process had been extended by only 10 days due to these development, adding that the result would be announced as per schedule.


Quasi-NATO status to Pak no cause for concern: Mann
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
President of the SAD (Amritsar) Simranjit Singh Mann today said that the quasi-NATO status bestowed on Pakistan by the USA should be no cause of alarm for India.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Mann said that the with this status, Pakistan would come under the direct influence of the USA and its foreign and defence policies would be governed by an elected, democratic and responsible government in Washington. And it would also eliminate the scope for militarism within the Pakistan administration. With this the danger of war between India and Pakistan would almost end. He said, “This remarkable stroke of the American policy would mark the beginning of peace and progress in the subcontinent. My party was thankful of the USA for its military intervention in the subcontinent,” said the Akali leader.

He said that India was being ruled by a right wing ultra-nationalist government led by the BJP. This government did not consult minorities while framing the foreign policy. Minorities had a big stake in foreign policy for various reasons, he added. He said that his part was for opening the Wagah border for trade. Punjab would be benefited the most with the opening of the border. Tourism between the two countries should be promoted, he added.

He said that the USA’s new foreign policy would cause a setback to the right wing communal forces in the subcontinent.


Join politics, Sunil Dutt exhorts youth
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 22
Veteran actor and politician Sunil Dutt today exhorted the youth to come forward and join politics to serve the nation.

Hailing the joining of politics by Mr Rahul Gandhi, Mr Dutt, who handed over the keys of a van worth Rs 1 crore to the local Guru Nanak Mission Hospital Trust on behalf of the Nargis Dutt Charitable Memorial Trust, Mumbai, said the youth of today had more capacity to do good and they had a clearer vision about what they were doing. “I feel that every person who feels that he can contribute towards the development of society and the nation should serve people by putting in his best efforts and there should be no hitch in joining politics for this,” he said, adding that he did not have any objection to film personalities joining politics.

Asked about allegations that some film stars had received huge sums of money to join political outfits, Mr Dutt said the answer could be found from such parties only.

Commenting on the feel-good factor being propounded by the BJP leadership, Mr Dutt said he would believe in the slogan the day the farmers’ lot would improve and when countless educated youth would be able to lay their hands on jobs. “I equate the BJP’s feel-good factor to a brass urn which has a gold polish.”

On the foreign origin of Ms Sonia Gandhi, Mr Dutt said it was no longer an issue since Ms Gandhi had become a part and parcel of rural India as well. “People of the country are respecting her,” said Mr Dutt, adding that the Congress was a secular party and represented all sections of society.

About the social welfare projects being undertaken by the Nargis Dutt Charitable Memorial Trust, Mr Dutt said the Trust had already donated a similar van for people of Jaipur. “For this van, our Vancouver-based unit has collected money. My dream is to provide better health facilities to about 75 per cent of the people who don’t have such facilities till now. We are trying to provide such mobile hospitals in all states.”

Mr Balbir Singh Saini of Guru Nanak Mission Hospital said the mobile hospital was equipped with ultra-modern facilities such as mamography, X-ray, ultrasound scanning, auto analyser, TV, music system, telephone and a generator.

Mr Balbir Singh, MP of the dissolved Lok Sabha, also spoke.


Don’t allow Cong leaders to campaign in villages: Badal
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Mansa, March 22
The president of SAD and former Punjab Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, today urged the people not to allow any Congress leader to campaign in their respective villages for the forth coming Lok Sabha elections as the state Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, had turned out to be a ‘master cheat’.

Mr Badal, who made a whirlwind tour of this district to campaign for party candidate, Ms Paramjit Kaur Gulshan, while addressing a conference at Bahini Bagha village said Capt Amarinder Singh had deliberately avoided fulfilling any promise made by the Congress during the last Assembly elections.

Instead of fulfilling the promises Capt Amarinder Singh had started committing atrocities and had sold the economic interests of the state to certain big industrialists.

“Can the Chief Minister explain to the people that why Punjab oil refinery project, brought by the previous SAD-BJP government, had been scuttled? Can Capt Amarinder Singh explain to the people that why Punjab Tractors Limited (PTL), a public sector unit, had been sold for a song and can he explain why he had not implemented the crop insurance scheme in Punjab after the same was introduced in the country by BJP-led NDA government?” he asked.

“By doing a lot of injustice to Punjab and its people in the past two years in every sphere of life, how can Capt Amarinder Singh and other Congress leaders seek votes for party candidates during the Lok Sabha elections?” he said.

Mr Badal expressed apprehension that the state Congress Government would make the Rs 380-crore investment on Punjab oil refinery project a waste of public money.

The former Chief Minister alleged that the performance of Capt Amarinder Singh in the past two years had established the fact that there was no difference between him and the former Chairman of Punjab Public Service Commission Ravi Sidhu. While Sidhu recruited civil and police officials in lieu of money, Capt Amarinder Singh had recruited his favourites as DSPs in the Punjab Police for considerations, which couldn’t be made public.

He alleged that now Capt Amarinder Singh had started handing over the revenue-generating departments to his favourites as it had been established from the large scale bunglings committed in the auction of liquor vends in the state.

Mr Balwinder Singh Bhunder, MLA, Sardulgarh; Mr Manpreet Singh Badal, MLA, Gidderbaha and Ms Gulshan also addressed the conference.


BJP seeks security for Advani’s yatra
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Mr Harjit Singh Grewal, general secretary of the Punjab unit of the BJP, has requested the Director-General of Police, Punjab, to make proper security arrangement
for the Bharat Uday yatra of Mr L.K. Advani, Deputy Prime Minister. Mr Grewal has drawn the attention of the DGP towards certain statements made recently by certain political persons to “disrupt” the yatra . The BJP has asked the DGP to provide safe passage to the yatra.

The BJP today released the minute-to-minute schedule of the yatra in Punjab. The yatra would enter the state on March 25 from Chandigarh. It would go to Pathankot via Kharar, Khamano, Samrala, Ludhiana, Phillaur, Goraya, Phagwara, Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Dasuya and Mukerian. After night halt at Pathankot on March 25, the yatra would proceed next day to Amritsar via Dinanagar, Dhariwal and Batala. Its first phase would conclude at Amritsar on March 26.


CPI (ML) to contest 3 LS seats in Punjab
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 22
The Communist Party of India (ML) has decided to field its candidates for three Lok Sabha constituencies, Sangrur, Gurdaspur and Phillaur.

Addressing a press conference here today, Mr Darshan Singh Khatkar, state secretary of the party, Mr Sardara Singh Mahal and Mr Ajmer Singh, said the party would contest the elections on its own with an objective to strengthen the revolutionary people’s movement in the state and without forging any alliance or adjustments with any of parties like the SAD, the CPI, the CPM, the BJP, the Janta Dal, the TDP and the Congress.

“We will make an electoral alliance with communist revolutionaries and conduct a vigorous campaign to expose and isolate those political parties and their policies which have been contributing to increase the gap between the rich and the poor,” said Mr Khatkar and other party leaders accompanying him.

He said wrong policies of different parties had led to the closure of a large number of industrial units, resulting in rendering about 48 lakh persons jobless. He said both the NDA and the Congress had adopted “anti-people” policies.


Left parties strike deal with Congress
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
Dr Joginder Dayal, CPI secretary, Punjab, has announced two Left party candidates for the Lok Sabha elections from Hoshiarpur and Bathinda in electoral adjustment with the Congress.

Mrs Kushal Vohra, wife of a former MP, Mr Bhan Singh Vohra, will be the CPI’s candidate from Bathinda while Mr Darshan Singh Mattu of the CPM will contest from Hoshiarpur. Dr Dayal was addressing a party meeting here today.

Dr Dayal cautioned the Congress regarding its behaviour with allies.

The CPI leader said the support by Left parties to the Congress would strictly be on a “reciprocal basis” and said the latter should not create hurdles for the candidates of the allies.

He favoured inclusion of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the “broader secular front”.


Parties urged to spare funds for healthcare
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 22
The Punjab Civil Medical Services Association (PCMSA) today made an appeal to all political parties to add to their respective election manifestoes that they would earmark funds to the tune of at least 6 per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in place of the existing about 2 per cent for healthcare.

Talking to TNS here today, Dr Surinder Singla, state general secretary of the PCMSA, said the healthcare delivery system should be declared a priority sector.

Dr Singla also appealed to the political parties to make medical education within the reach of the common man.

The state general secretary urged the political parties to keep doctors out of the purview of “criminal negligence” in the event of hospital deaths or on account of wrong treatment.


Punjab to appoint 700 doctors on contract
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 22
The Punjab Government will appoint nearly 700 doctors on contract basis to fill the vacant posts in the three state medical colleges located at Amritsar, Faridkot and Patiala. The memorandum in this connection was already cleared by the state Cabinet during its meeting held at Chandigarh last month. This decision was taken following the lengthy procedure of the Punjab Public Service Commission to finalise the issue in the recruitment of the doctors thus downgrading the health services.

In addition to it the Cabinet also finalised the modalities and approved the tenders for the purchase of medicines and equipment for the institutions. However, both the projects would come on the map after the completion of the Lok Sabha elections in the state. This was stated by Mr Santokh Singh, Minister for Medical Education and Research, while talking to mediapersons after inaugurating the annual sports meet of the local Government Medical College at the Nehru Stadium here today.

He admitted that the financial crunch was hampering the efforts to improve health services in the three medical colleges and the corrective steps were being initiated to do the needful.

In reply to a question the minister promised to start the construction work of the complex of Baba Farid University of Health Sciences at Faridkot without specifying the time and elaborating the plan due to the imposition of the Model Code of Conduct following the general elections in the state.

When his attention was drawn towards various irregularities in the recruitment of some officials in the university in the recent past he also assured to mark an inquiry after getting detailed report on the issue. Earlier, a five-member deputation of the state joint action committee of the paramedical and health departments met the minister and presented a charter of demands which included the immediate release of their salary for the month of February, decentralisation of powers for maintaining the entire account of employees GP fund to the drawing and disbursing officers of the respective institutions and the promotion of the employees by filling the vacant posts besides the provision of proper infrastructure in the local medical college.


‘Mafia’ grabs NRI’s land
Tribune News Service

Alipur Arayian (Patiala), March 22
An 81-year-old non-resident Indian (NRI), who runs a school, computer centre and a host of other social activities in this village on the outskirts of the city, today claimed that a “land mafia” had grabbed a part of his land and was threatening to evacuate him from the remaining portion also.

The NRI, Mr Partap Singh, claimed that he was being targeted by a group of influential persons because of the high cost of the land due to its proximity to the city. Mr Partap Singh is presently running a primary school, computer centre, sewing centre, dispensary and an ambulance service in the village. All these activities are being run under the aegis of the Jai Kaur Charitable Trust which was formed by him in August last year.

Mr Partap Singh says his troubles started when he learned that his brothers had sold away their share of the joint piece of land in the village to a group of persons who are known “land grabbers”. He said the land was sold without it being partitioned amongst the three heirs.

The old man alleged that after the death of one of his brothers, Bhagwan Singh, who had sold off his land to members of the group, he was taken to the house of a former senior official by a police officer and made to sign a deed of partition forcibly. Mr Partap Singh said following the death of his second brother, Gurbaksh Singh, the latter’s family sold off its share of the land plus part of his land to the same group.

The NRI claimed that both mutations were done illegally, adding that the buyers of the land had also approached the Punjab and Haryana High Court and got a decision in their favour by presenting forged record. He said he was able to get relief from the court in July, 2001, following which he had been consistently approaching the police to get his part of the land vacated. He said that he had been unsuccessful in this venture till now.


Commissioner opens ‘illegal’ club
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 22
A piquant situation arose when Dr Swarn Singh, Commissioner, Jalandhar Division, inaugurated the Cantt Club here today, despite of public notice put by the Cantonment Board describing the club as illegal.

A board, which reads, “ It is worth checking up the status of this so-called club since this is not on books/documents of the Amritsar Cantonment Board,” has been put up at the entrance gate of the club.

However, Mr G.S. Dhillon, president of the Cantt Club, claims that the club is legal as it was registered with the Registrar, Societies, under Act XXI of 1860 on November 18, 2003. Mr Dhillon alleged that officials of the club were being intimidated by the military police, which had been deployed to restrict the entry of members.

Earlier, Mr Parshotam Lal, Executive Officer of the Cantonment Board, wrote of Mr G.K. Vij and Mr R.K. Vij — the allottees — that “it has come to the notice of the board that you are running the club for commercial purposes in your bungalow, meant for residential purposes.”

However, Mr Vij denied that his bungalow was being used for commercial purpose. He said, “I am not running any club for commercial purposes in my bungalow. In fact, a major portion of the bungalow is being used for residential purposes and only a small portion is being used as a kitty hall for family members, which does not tantamount to change of purpose under the law.” He, however, said he was ready to comply with any direction issued by Cantonment Board.

Mr G.S. Dhillon, president of the club, said he had video footage of the harassment being caused to members by the military police.


They saw match, but missed Lahore
Our Correspondent

Attari, March 22
Jubilant cricket fans, who supported the Indian team in the pulsating cricket match played in Lahore yesterday, rued that they could not see the historic city of Lahore properly.

Quoting a common phrase “Jine Lahore nahi vekhya, oh jammian nahi” Kapil, a cricket fan from New Delhi who returned on Samjhauta Express today, said. “We went to Lahore but could not see it properly. He said they were issued visas from March 20 to 23. However, he said, the first day was spent in completing customs and immigration formalities on either side of the border, while yesterday was the match and as no special train was available for March 23, they had to return today and therefore had no time to go around the historic places and gardens in Lahore.

The cricket fans who returned today on Samjhauta Express were thrilled over the dramatic win of India. As many as 700 cricket lovers today returned from the Wagah joint check post before the retreat ceremony and the remaining would be allowed to enter after the ceremony.

Anil Mahajan of Jalandhar was all praise for the hospitality that he and his group of seven other members received from Pakistani people. He said people of Lahore even congratulated them on the Indian team’s win.


Muslims celebrate Lahore win
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 22
Muslims in large number celebrated India’s five-wicket victory over Pakistan at Lahore lastnight. Jubilant Muslims hugged their Hindu and Sikh brothers.

The Shahi Imam of the local Jama Masjid, Ubes-ur-Rehman, today asserted that the historic victory was a matter of pride for the nation. Meanwhile, scenes similar to Divali were witnessed as cricket-crazy fans burst crackers till midnight.

People rushed to the streets, raised patriotic slogans and waved the Tricolour. Drums were beaten and slogans of “Bharat Mata ki Jai” and “Lahore Fateh” raised.


Naseer to perform in Pakistan
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, March 22
After winning the hearts of millions of his fans in India by his performances on stage and in films, the versatile Naseeruddin Shah plans to take his theatre group to Pakistan during this year.

Accepting the offer from the leading Pakistani theatre artistes Kazmi and his wife Ruksana, who had come specially from Lahore to see him perform in “Ismat Apa Ke Naam” that was staged here last night at Guru Nanak Bhavan. The play was sponsored by the Durga Das Foundation, The Tribune and Spice Telecom.

Talking to The Tribune, Shah said he had been waiting for an opportunity to stage plays in Pakistan and the invitation extended by the Ajoka theatre group, Lahore, had come at a opportune time when the relations between India and Pakistani had taken a positive turn. He said there was tremendous scope for Indian and Pakistani stage artistes to perform on a common platform as theatre of both countries had similar traditions and culture.

The renowned artist felt that the two neighbouring countries must exchange cultural and stage groups and develop affinity among the artistes. Shah added that he was looking forward to perform in Pakistan in the near future.

Kazmi, a leading theatre personality from Pakistan, said the recently held Indo-Pak theatre festival in Lahore was a major success. He added that five leading theatre groups from India, including those of Neelam Mansingh Choudhary, Usha Ganguly, Neeta Mahindra, Kewal Dhaliwal and others, had received accolades from theatre lovers in Lahore. Kazmi said theatre group based in Lahore was planning to organise a major festival in Lahore and a number of Indian artistes had been invited for it.

A standing ovation by the jam-packed audience was an ideal finale to the enchanting performance by Naseeruddin and his wife Ratna Pathak and their daughter Heeba.

The conceptualisation of the physical text of the book written by Ismat Khanum Chugtai by the Shah family was a revelation for the theatre lovers of the holy city, who had been treated to rich fair of stories of Muslim aristocracy. The three stories ‘Chhui Muee’, ‘Mughal Bachcha’ and ‘Gharwali’ were presented in a narrative form. Shah said the tradition of story telling by grandparents had disappeared and he had tried his hand at reviving it and added that it had fascinated the audiences in India.

The Director of the Durga Das Foundation, Mr Atul Khanna, thanked The Tribune group of newspapers and Spice Telecom for excellent support and cooperation in organising the performance.


Where devotees offer liquor
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 22
The annual fair at the mazar of Baba Rode Shah will begin tomorrow in Bhima village, near here. Devotees are offered liquor at the mazar.

As the folklore goes, Baba Rode Shah, blessed with miracles, is known for fulfilling wishes of devotees visiting the mazar.

Devotees offer liquor at the mazar, which measures up to thousands of litres, particularly during the fair.

People from various parts of the country have started thronging the mazar.

It is said that once a devotee asked Baba Rode Shah to bless him with a son and offered money, which was refused by the Baba, who asked for an offering of liquor. The devotee’s wish was fulfilled. That is how the offering of liquor began.

The number of visitors at the fair has increased manifold over the years.


Check death rate of newborns: doctors
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 22
A state-level workshop-cum-continuing medical education (CME), organised by Ujala, an NGO of Kotkapura, and the district Red Cross Society, Faridkot, at Kotkapura yesterday laid stress on accelerating medical and health facilities to check the high death rate of newborn children in the state.

Leaving aside two or three specialised hospitals like the DMC and the CMC at Ludhiana, all other government and private clinics were lagging behind in providing better treatment to newborn babies, experts said.

Even these institutions were unable to meet the requirements, thereby resulting in a death rate of over 40 among every 1000 children born in the state as compared to 10 to 12 deaths per 1000 in Kerala.

Expressing concern over the prevailing conditions, speakers demanded specialised medical camps in urban and rural areas to train paramedical staff and free medicines for both the mother and her newborn child.

More funds to provide better nutrition to expectant mothers and awareness seminars for parents in educational institutions were also demanded.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr G.P. Kaushal, a Paediatrician from Deen Dyal Hospital, New Delhi, emphasised on regular check up, good diet for expectant mothers and institutional deliveries.

Dr Rajinder from Muktsar urged upon promoting medical facilities in the private sector by advancing loans on easy terms to entrepreneurs who could play a significant role in solving the problem.


Seminar: involve people in development plans
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 22
The urban population of the country is likely to almost double from 285 million in 2001 to 546 million in 2025. The adoption of the Urban Development Planning Federation of India guidelines will go a long way in meeting the challenges of the 21st century for a planned development of towns and cities.

These observations were made by Mr D.S. Meshram, President, Institute of Town Planners India, New Delhi, while delivering his keynote address at the inaugural session of a two-day national seminar on “Challenges and priorities in urban and regional planning” organised by the Guru Ramdas School of Planning of Guru Nanak Dev University and co-sponsored by the UGC and the Chandigarh Regional Chapter of the Institute of Town Planners India here today.

Expressing concern over the poor implementation of development plans, Mr Meshram said these plans should be as per the needs of society. He said these should be for a short period and should be reviewed periodically.

He said the Central Government and the state governments should come forward to provide funds for the successful implementation of development plans. He stressed the need for people’s participation while preparing the plans.

Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said the aspirations of the people were changing fast and these were posing new challenges, which required fresh thinking. He stressed the need for a well-devised urbanisation policy, which should aim at integrating urban, rural and regional development.


Bhagat Singh remembered
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 22
The Department of Youth Services, Punjab, and CT College of Education Organised a joint function in connection with the 74th Martyrdom Day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh at CT Public School here today.

A blood donation camp was also organised on the occasion, in which 22 students of the college and members of PALS International Organisation, Citizen Welfare and Protection Council, Jalandhar cantonment, donated blood.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, the chief guest, said Bhagat Singh had made greatest contribution to the freedom movement by sacrificing his life.

Mr Charanjit Singh, Chairman of the college, said youngsters should make Bhagat Singh their role model and serve the country and its people with total dedication.

Mr Harmanjot Singh, who has already been nominated by the Punjab Government for his services in the field of youth welfare, was honoured along with Mr Kunal Mehta on the occasion. A colourful cultural event was also organised on the occasion.


Mela special trains today
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, March 22
The Northern Railways will run “mela special trains” from Ferozepore to Hussainiwala on March 23, the martyrdom day of Shaheed Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru.

This was stated by Divisional Railway Manager Dharam Singh here today. He said the special trains would run at an interval of two hours from Ferozepore and Hussainiwala from 7.30 am onwards. He added that special booking counters would be opened at the mela site in Hussainiwala.

Divisional Railway Manager also disclosed that the Railways had started a “cricket special train” from New Delhi, which will reach Amritsar on the morning of March 23. He said this special train would go up to Attari, from where the cricket lovers will board a Pakistani special train for going to Lahore.


80 pc of village’s phones dead
Our Correspondent

Moga, March 22
Nearly 80 per cent telephones at Mahesari village under the Ghal Kalan police station in this district have been dead for several weeks. Former president of the Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab, Kuldip Singh said this had been causing inconvenience to residents of the village who are forced to go to a distant village for making calls.

He added that they took up the matter with the Telecommunication Department several times but to no avail.


Ex-servicemen stage dharna

Mansa, March 22
Hundreds of ex-servicemen today staged a dharna in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office and took out a march in the city to lodge a protest against the apathetic attitude of successive governments towards the acceptance of their genuine demands.

Mr Mukhtiar Singh, general secretary, Ex-servicemen Welfare Association, Punjab, said members of various employees unions of Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and Bhartiya Kisan Union had also joined in their agitation today to urge the authorities concerned to accept their demands. — TNS


Park that is a garbage dump
Monica Ahluwalia

Patiala, March 22
Residents of Ajit Nagar Colony here are sore over the lack of maintenance of the so-called Green Park of the area.

They allege that the municipal corporation is not bothered about the park despite the tall promises made by Mayor Vishnu Sharma. There is no clean and open space in the colony where gatherings could be organised.

Mr Avatar Singh, a resident of the locality, says that they had brought the issue to the notice of the Mayor nearly five months ago. The Mayor had said that he was not aware of any municipal park exists in that area. But he had said that he would take up the issue, now that it had been brought to his notice. But nothing came of the promise.

He had also assured that the park would be earmarked for proper upkeep but till date nothing concrete had been done. The park is at present being used to dump garbage by residents of the area. Adding to the woes of the residents is the spread of congress grass. Residents hire labour on their own to check its growth. Even the roads and streetlights in the area are in poor shape.

Mr B.S. Bedi, another resident, says that despite their several requests the corporation has made no attempt to check the menace of stay cattle in the area.

When contacted, the Mayor said the corporation could not undertake any new project till the elections were over. He added that after the elections budget for the maintenance of the park would be prepared and work would start soon after it was passed by the General House.


Medical store closed
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 22
A medical store functioning on the premises of the local Civil Hospital was closed by the administration here today.

The SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, said the Tehsildar had locked the door of the shop. He said two days’ time had been given to the shopkeeper to vacate the premises, but he failed to do so.

He said the Ropar Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, had ordered the closure of the medical store which was functioning in violation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders and subsequent directions issued by the Punjab Government.

The shop had been rented out by the Ropar unit of the Indian Red Cross Society.


High Court
Liquor auction
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Taking up a petition filed by a liquor contractor against the clubbing of Hoshiarpur and Nawanshahr circles, a Division Bench of the High Court today fixed Tuesday as the next date of hearing.

The petitioner, Sanjeev Bhandari, had earlier contended that they were willing to pay Rs 5 crore more than the successful bidder. The auction, he added, was completely hijacked by liquor baron Ponti Chadha’s group.


Life term for four in murder case

Sangrur, March 22
A local court here has sentenced four youths to life imprisonment and also imposed a fine of Rs 20,000 each in a murder case of another youth.

Additional Sessions Judge V.K. Megh also sentenced a car driver, who assisted the youths in the crime, to three-year imprisonment and imposed a fine of Rs 1,000.

One and a half years ago the body of a youth, Rocky, was found near ‘Shiv Temple’. The youth had gone to see Ram Lila and later the body was found near the dais. — UNI


Doctor convicted of seeking bribe
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
A doctor of the local Government Medical College, who demanded a bribe of Rs 1,000 to release a post-mortem report but settled for Rs 600, was today convicted by a local court, which sentenced him a two-year imprisonment.

Special Judge K.C. Puri convicted Dr Deepak Walia, who was accused of demanding a bribe of Rs 1,000 from Mr Jit Singh, a resident of Bras village, near here, to release the post-mortem report of a relative.

Mr Jit Singh had approached the doctor requesting him for the release of the post-mortem report in June, 1999.

Dr Walia demanded a bribe of Rs 1,000, but following “negotiations” he settled for Rs 600. Mr Jit Singh then approached the Patiala Vigilance Bureau with a complaint in this regard.

A trap was laid for the doctor and he was caught red-handed accepting Rs 600 from Mr Jit Singh. The doctor was also fined Rs 1,000 by the court.


Diversification not succeeding, say experts
Tribune News Service

Patiala, March 22
Agriculture experts said today the experiment with diversification was not succeeding in Punjab because research in the field had not been able to give any viable alternative to replace the current wheat - paddy cycle.

Speaking at a Kisan Mela organised by the Young Farmers Association, its head Mr Bhagwan Das Gupta said Punjab needed an alternative for paddy urgently because the crop was depleting water resources in the state. He said despite the ongoing diversification drive, the area under paddy — 25 lakh hectares — had not come down.

Mr Gupta said the diversification alternatives suggested by the government had not yielded any result because they were not practicable. He said the crops suggested by the government were at best ornamental as they could be sowed in a small area only and could not become the mainstay crops of the Punjab farmer.

He said in such a situation the government could stress on basmati plantation. This paddy variety needed less water and fertiliser. Mr Gupta said Punjab farmers could get more from basmati if the state exported it and also marketed it more effectively in the country. Others who spoke on the occasion, including the president of the Young Farmers Association, Mr Jagdeep Singh Cheema, also stressed that diversification needed to be made more meaningful in the state by tackling the problems of farmers who had gone in for new crops.

Later Punjab Public Health Minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa stated that the state government had given a fillip to agriculture in the state through smooth procurement of all foodgrains and also by giving uninterrupted power supply. Mr Randhawa said the uninterrupted supply had helped in boosting the yield of both wheat and paddy crops in the state.

Mr Randhawa also listened to the problems of the farmers as far as the present contract farming is concerned. He said contract farming had been initiated in the state to give a fillip to the diversification process. He said the system would be further fine-tuned so that farmers could benefit from it.

Around 8000 bags of PUSA - 44 were distributed on the occasion. The association said there was a heavy demand for this certified seed. A group of farmers, who were not able to get seed despite standing in queue since morning, raised slogans against the association in the evening. Mr Gupta clarified that foundation seed was given to only those persons who had become members of the association.


ADC’s official car attached
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, March 22
As per the order of Mr G.C. Garg, Civil Judge (Senior Division), Sangrur, a bailiff of the court today attached the official car of the Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC), Sangrur, in execution proceeding of the recovery of arrears of a former employee of the local tehsil office.

According to information, the ‘sapurdari’ of the car has been given to a senior assistant of the office of the Deputy Commissioner.

The court had already passed a decree in the favour of Mr Mohinder Singh, a former employee of the tehsil office, for the recovery of arrears.


G.K. Singh gets PSIDC assignment
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 22
Mr G.K. Singh, Officer on Special Duty to the Deputy Chief Minister, Punjab, will also look after the work of Additional Managing Director, Punjab State Industrial Development Corporation (PSIDC), with immediate effect, says an official order.


Sarpanch dismissed
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 22
The Deputy Director, Rural Development, Mr S.P. Singh, has dismissed Mr Harnek Singh from the post of sarpanch of Hirdapur village of Ropar block.

The sarpanch was dismissed on the basis of the inquiry conducted by the BDO, Kharar.

The BDO had found Mr Harnek Singh guilty of distributing 1586 bigha of village common land on his own among the farmers, including himself during the term ranging from 1993 to 1998. He was also accused of further selling the land despite the ADC, Ropar, staying the mutations of the village common lands distributed among the farmers.


Cable operator ‘kidnapped, tortured’
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, March 22
A cable operator was kidnapped from his Kalia Colony office, threatened and tortured by a group of 10 to 12 youngsters, allegedly led by his rival cable operator.

Janesh Yashroy, the victim, who was bundled into a Contessa car in an injured condition near the Balle Balle resort at the Pathankot bypass, however, managed to escape when he saw some police officials and raised an alarm. This attracted the policemen who saved him.

Janesh, a Win cable operator, was attacked by a group, allegedly led by Babblu Dhillon, a rival cable operator, when he reached his office from Amritsar around 8.20 p.m. on Saturday. “Instead of listening my pleas, Babblu Dhillon, Gogi and others attacked me with a blunt weapon. After this they bundled me in their jeep and took me to a place, which was probably near a railway line. On our way to the place, I heard members of the group talking to many persons and possibly one of them also included Babblu’s father. There, I was again beaten up mercilessly till Babblu’s father came in his Contessa car. He also hit me with a wrench-like blunt thing. While on one hand they keep pressurising me to leave my partnership with Aroras, on the other they kept demanding Rs 15,000 every month if I wanted to run my business in the area. Then someone informed them that the police was searching for me. Following this, they started talking to me in a soft manner and promised that I would be released if my parents agreed to withdraw the complaint against them,” said Janesh, while talking to The Tribune at the local Civil Hospital.

He said from there, he was again bundled into the car and taken to another spot in front of the Balle Balle resort, where all others left the vehicle. “When I tried to come out of the vehicle, I stopped as I found some persons in another vehicle keeping an eye on me. I mustered courage only when I saw gunmen of DSP Rajinder Singh. I jumped out and told the entire story to them. They told me that they were trying to locate me,” he said.

When contacted, Mr Rajinder Singh said a case had been registered against eight persons, including Babblu, a resident of Guru Amar Dass locality, and Gogi, a resident of Preet Nagar area, under Sections 365, 452, 427, 323 and 324 of the IPC on the basis of a medical report. He said raids were being conducted at suspected hideouts.

While none of the accused were available for comments, Mr Rajinder Singh revealed that preliminary inquiry had revealed that Babblu Dhillon’s father was not involved in the alleged “kidnapping” and “torture” of Janesh. He said instead he had saved Janesh from the accused. He said police parties had been despatched to arrest the accused.


Jewellery worth Rs 7 lakh stolen
Our Correspondent

Batala, March 22
A theft was reported at a jewellery shop, Gora Jewellers, in Gandhi Chowk, here today.

On Saturday night, the owner, Mr Kulwant Singh Gora, closed the shop around 8.00 pm. However, today morning, he found that a theft had taken place in the shop and thieves had stolen the jewellery worth about Rs 7 lakh.

The thieves had entered the shop from the top storey, breaking the locks there with the help of an iron rod.

Interestingly none of the locks on the shutter of the shop had been broken.

The police naka at Gandhi Chowk is hardly 15 feet away from the shop and is open 24 hours.

A police team headed by SHO, City police station, Santokh Singh is investigating.


Four migrants drugged, robbed
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 22
Four migrants from Bihar were today drugged, beaten and robbed by two persons, who fled after locking them in a room in gali No. 4 of the local Ratanpura Mohalla.

Vikesh Kumar, Sikander, Saifudin and Sipahi had come from Hoshiarpur to board a train for going back to their native place. Two persons served them some biscuits and some eatable laced with drug. Before they fell   unconscious, they were thrashed and robbed of cash worth Rs 2,000 and bundled into a room.


10 held in raids
Our Correspondent

Barnala, March 22
During surprise raids in the Kotwali, Barnala, Dhanaula and Shehna police station areas the police apprehended 10 persons and seized 60 bottles of illicit country-made liquor, 14 kg of poppy husk, Rs 1800 and 300 gm of opium.

Disclosing this here today, Mr Amit Prasad SSP, Barnala, informed that in the wake of the police intensifying its drive against anti-social elements, the Kotwali police found Rattan Lal, Jarnail Singh and Suresh Kumar gambling and seized Rs 1,800 from them.

The Shehna police succeeded in apprehending Puran Singh, Jagraj Singh and Ramesh Kumar and seized 60 bottles of illicit country-made liquor from their possession. The Barnala and Dhanaula police nabbed, Gurdev Kaur, Paramjit Kaur and Manmohan Kumar and seized 14 kg of poppy husk from them. The CIA staff police Handiaya too seized about 300 gm of opium from Parminder Singh.

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