P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



SGPC makes up for mistake by giving siropa to CM
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee today corrected its mistake by presenting siropa (robe of honour) to Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister who had come here for undertaking ‘symbolic kar seva’ of the holy tank of the Golden Temple.

Earlier, SGPC had drawn flak from the Sikh sangat on the denial of due honour to when Capt Amarinder Singh had visited the Golden Temple after taking over as Chief Minister of the state. Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former SGPC chief, too had criticised her successor for denying due honour to the dignitaries.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, Secretary, SGPC, who presented siropa to the Chief Minister and Mr H.S. Hanspal, president Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee, admitted that not presenting a siropa to the Chief Minister in the past was a mistake which stood corrected now. Mr Calcutta, Mr Dilmeg Singh — both secretaries, and other senior functionaries of SGPC had received Mr Amarinder Singh and his Cabinet colleagues and Mr R.L. Bhatia, a local Member Parliament, on their arrival at the Golden Temple.

As a goodwill gesture, Capt Amarinder Singh accepted the demands put forward by Mr Calcutta, including the exemption of sales tax on purchase of ration and material to be used for Golden Temple. He directed officials concerned not to create any hurdle in the way of smooth supply of ‘ghee’ for preparing ‘parsad’. Capt Amarinder Singh said after parliamentary elections, his government would endeavour to construct a helipad near the Golden Temple so that devotees were not to put to any inconvenience in case of the visit of VVIPs.

He said he had realised this when ‘kar sevaks’ had to face inconvenience due to his visit to the Golden Temple.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who has described his visit to the Golden Temple as, an inspiring and spiritual visit in the visitors book, said his government would make all efforts to construct an underground passage from Burj Phula Singh to the Golden Temple for smooth flow of rush of devotees. When SGPC mooted a point of constructing a multi-storey parking, Capt Amarinder Singh readily accepted the demand and said parking slot would be created by demolishing Senior Secondary School, Town Hall. He promised to develop Amritsar on the pattern of Anandpur Sahib after May 10. The Badal government had spent huge amount of the overall development of Anandpur Sahib to mark tercentenary celebrations of the birth of Khalsa path. Similarly, SGPC sought the development of this holy city to mark fourth centenary of Guru Granth Sahib.

When Mr Calcutta pointed out that the Chief Minister should not touch political issues during his press conference in the SGPC’s Information Office, Capt Amarinder Singh immediately accepted the suggestion.

Talking to the Press, Capt Amarinder Singh said the Prime Minister had forwarded all suggestions made by him for better relations between India and Pakistan, to the External Affairs Ministry. In reply to a question, Capt Amarinder Singh said Ms Sonia Gandhi would visit Punjab between May 4 and 8.

Capt Amarinder Singh also said Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was unlikely to contest form Sangrur Lok Sabha constituency as she had refused the offer though she was considered to be the best candidate to contest from there.

In reply to a question Capt Amarinder Singh said it was the prerogative of the state government to post PPS officer as district police chief and nobody had the right to challenge it. He, however, denied that the Congress would support Mr Tarlochan Singh Tur, a rebel Akali leader from Tarn Taran Lok Sabha seat.


Arvind Khanna, Manish may get Cong ticket
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Two sitting legislators — Mr Arvind Khanna and Rana Gurjit Singh — are in contention for Congress ticket as the All-India Congress Committee appears to be favourably inclined towards introducing young and fresh faces in the coming Lok Sabha elections. A formal announcement of candidates for remaining Punjab seats is likely to be made on Tuesday.

Sources in the party maintain that former President of the All-India Youth Congress, Mr Manish Tewari, looks certain to get party ticket for the Ludhiana seat. Others in the run for Ludhiana ticket are the sitting MP, Mr G.S. Ghalib, former Rajya Sabha member and MLA from Bathinda, Mr Surinder Singla, and Bollywood star Rajesh Khanna.

From Jalandhar, the sources said the name of Rana Gurjit Singh, MLA from Kapurthala, had been cleared. Olympian and former international hockey player Pargat Singh was also in the race. Though Mr Balbir Singh, sitting MP, who initially opted out of the race had again staked his claim for the party ticket.

In Sangrur, besides Mr Arvind Khanna, industrialist Mr Kewal Dhillon, is also a strong contender for the party ticket. All attempts of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, to rope in his deputy, Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, from Sangrur have met with no success.

The sources admit that though sitting legislators were initially discouraged from applying for party ticket for the Lok Sabha elections, but now other factors, including winnability, have forced the high command to review its decision.

For Taran tarn seat, Mr Sukh Sarkaria appears to be the undisputed choice while decision to shift Mr Jagmeet Brar from Faridkot to Ferozepore also appears to be final. In that case, Ms Karn Brar, daughter-in-law of former Chief Minister Harcharan Singh Brar, will contest on the Congress ticket from Faridkot and oppose Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal (Shiromani Akali Dal).

The Congress will support CPM candidate Darshan Singh Mattu in Hoshiarpur and CPI nominee, Ms Kaushalya Bhaur, in Bathinda, sources added.


Haryana Akalis sever ties with SAD
Our Correspondent

Kharar, March 29
Akalis in Haryana severed ties with the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) because they were asking for the party ticket for the coming Lok Sabha elections which the SAD could not give.

This was stated by Mr Parkash Singh Badal, SAD chief, while taking to mediapersons before addressing an election rally in support of Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra, SAD candidate from the Ropar constituency, here today. He said that the Akalis in Haryana should not have formed a separate party just for this reason. He, however, said that this separation would have no adverse effect on the SAD in the coming elections.

He said that the SAD was contesting the elections only from Punjab and the party would be extending its support to the BJP in other places. However, no decision had been taken in respect of Haryana and Chandigarh, he added.

Mr Badal, who addressed a large gathering organised by Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala, junior vice-president of the Punjab unit of the SAD, did not seek votes in the name of the Panth. Instead, his speech mainly focused on the contest being between Mr Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Launching an attack on the Congress, Mr Badal said that the Congress had so far not announced its candidate for the office of the Prime Minister.

The SAD chief said that the development of the country could be brought about only if power was given in the hands of an experienced leader. He said that Mrs Sonia Gandhi did not have any experience of even being a minister. He said there was a need to amend the Constitution so that the top offices of the country were not given in the hands of leaders who had foreign origin.

Earlier while talking to the media, Mr Badal lashed out at Capt Amarinder Singh Chief Minister, and said that the Punjab Government had sabotaged the Bathinda refinery on which between Rs 400 crore and Rs 500 crore had been spent. It would have given employment to about 5,000 persons. He demanded an inquiry by the CBI in this regard. He said the government had played a “treacherous role” by giving liquor contracts to only one person, which had resulted in major financial loss to the state exchequer. The persons who had come to bid were allegedly turned out of the hall.

Mr Madan Mohan Mittal, former minister, said that the Congress had so far not finalised its candidates for certain seats in Punjab.

Mr Avinash Jaiswal, vice-president of the Punjab unit of the BJP, said that the state government should let the public know where Rs 2 crore recovered from Ravi Sidhu, former chairman of the PPSC, had gone. He also wanted to know why police officials who had recovered unaccounted money from Sidhu were transferred.

Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala said he had visited 136 villages where people wanted to question Congress leaders about the promises that had been made by them at the time of Assembly elections.

A number of persons, who had undergone imprisonment during the Emergency, were honoured.

Among others who spoke on the occasion were Mr Libra, Mr Pritam Singh Sallomajra, president of the Ropar unit of the SAD, Mrs Satwinder Kaur Dhaliwal, former MP, and Mr Kiranbir Singh Kang, Akali leader.

Mrs Satwant Kaur Sandhu, MLA from Chamkaur Sahib, who was an aspirant for the party ticket for the Ropar Lok Sabha seat, was absent from the rally.


MPLAD fund: Phillaur MP spent 99.17 pc
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, March 29
If the utilisation of the Member Parliament Local Area Development (MPLAD) fund is a criterion to judge the performance of an MP, then Mrs Santosh Chowdhary from Phillaur can be called the most efficient former MP from Punjab. She is the only outgoing MP from the state who managed to utilise 99.17 per cent of the funds released to her under the MPLAD scheme. Mr Tirlochan Singh Tur, the MP from Tarn Taran, on the other hand utilised just 39.45 per cent of the total amount released to him, the lowest among the former Lok Sabha MPs from Punjab.

According to the information released by Parliament, every Lok Sabha MP from Punjab was entitled to Rs 16.05 crore under the MPLAD scheme. While majority of the MPs were released the amount entitled to them, in case of some MPs the amount released was less. Actor Vinod Khanna, MP from Gurdaspur, was released an amount of Rs 13.05 crore while Mr Jagmeet Brar of Faridkot and Mr Raghunandan Lal Bhatia of Amritsar got Rs 14.05 crore each. There was also a wide disparity between the amount that was released by the GOI and the amount finally sanctioned to these MPs. For example, in Mr Bhatia’s case, while Rs 14.05 crore were released, only Rs 12.89 crore were sanctioned. Out of which he ultimately he spent only Rs 8.07 crore.

Mr Jagmeet Brar’s performance too has been rather lukewarm. He spent only Rs 8.22 crore out of the Rs 15.73 that was sanctioned to him. Mr Zora Singh of Ferozepore spent Rs 13 crore, Vinod Khanna spent Rs 12.30 crore while Mr Charanjit Singh Channi of Hoshiarpur spent the whole amount of Rs 15.20 crore sanctioned to him. Mr Gurcharan Singh Ghalib of Ludhiana spent Rs 10.49 crore. Mrs Preneet Kaur of Patiala spent Rs 13 crore and was among the two MPs who managed to get an amount of Rs 16.25 crore sanctioned, almost .20 crore more than their entitled amount. The other MP, Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, managed to spend Rs 13.98 crore. Mr Balbir Singh, MP from Jalandhar, also spent the whole of Rs 15.04 crore sanctioned to him.

Mrs Santosh Chowdhary spent the whole of Rs 15.92 crore sanctioned to her during her term while Shamsher Singh Dullo spent only Rs 7.53 crore out of the Rs 14.28 sanctioned to him. Comparing this to the Rajya Sabha MP from Fatehgarh Sahib, Mr Sukhdev Singh Libra who is now contesting against Dullo, Libra spent marginally more at Rs 7.72 crore.

According to the information released by the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation regarding the statewise position in the release and expenditure of funds by MPs as on March 15, 2004, Punjab was sanctioned a total of Rs 307.27 crore, out of which Rs 235.81 crore were spent. The utilisation of MPLAD funds in Punjab was thus 76.18 per cent.

Punjab is among the many states who managed to utilise a substantial amount of the funds given to the MPs. But Mizoram tops the list with a 98.18 per cent utilisation of MPLAD funds followed by Chandigarh where the MPs have spent 98.09 per cent of their funds. Lakshdweep comes lowest on the list with just 66.77 per cent utilisation of funds and among the states Jammu and Kashmir MPs have spent just 67. 48 per cent of the funds.


Punjabi University Syndicate okays Rs 77-cr Budget
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
The Punjabi University Syndicate today formally approved an annual budget of Rs 77.25 crore, with an estimated deficit of Rs 12.5 crore. It also approved admissions to three new courses- electronics and communication engineering, mechanical engineering and computer engineering for the Yadvindra College of Engineering a Guru Kashi campus, Talwandi Sabo, which would be for rural students only.

The syndicate meeting was attended among others by the Vice-Chancellor, Mr S.S. Boparai, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, and Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, Minister for Public Health and Panchayats.

The syndicate also amended rules of extra-ordinary leave for university teachers. The appointment of Mr Param Bakshish Singh as Registrar was also given the stamp of approval.

Noted art historian, Dr B.N. Goswami, was appointed as a visiting professor in the Department of Fine Arts. Dr Goswami had retired from Panjab University and had to his credit significant number of works published in various international journals.

In another important decision, the university decided to identify 100 top sportspersons who would be paid an incentive of Rs 4,000 per year each.

The remuneration for project fellows was increased from Rs 3,600 to Rs 6,000 and that of project associates from Rs 5,000 to Rs 8,000. The salary of research associates was raised from Rs 8,000 to Rs 12,000.

The proposal for constructing a separate complex for the Department of Correspondence Courses was also given the final shape with the university deciding to release Rs 5 crore for its construction. Out of this allocation Rs 2.5 crore would be spent in the first phase for building of classrooms and hostels to accommodate students coming from far flung areas.

Two new hostels built recently had been named as Amrita Shergill hall for girls and Bhagat Puran Singh hall for boys.

The Syndicate also approved the appointments of Dr B.L Mehta as Professor in the Department of Physics, Dr B.S Bains, Dr K.C Mittal and Dr Gurcharan Singh as Readers in the Department of Physics, Punjab School of Management and Guru Kashi College, Talwandi Sabo, respectively.


Break doctor-drug firms nexus: says rights panel
A. S. Prashar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Human Rights Commission (PHRC) has asked the Punjab Government to take effective steps to ensure that fake and substandard drugs are not sold in the market.

It has also observed that government doctors should try to prescribe those effective medicines which are equivalent salts of the costly medicines so that the medical treatment is within the reach of every citizen.

Justice N.C. Jain, Chairperson and Justice R. L. Anand, member of the PHRC, made these observations on a complaint filed before it by Mr M.S. Walia, President of the Forum for Common Cause, Patiala, which alleged that many fake and substandard medicines were being sold in the market and there existed a nexus between chemists and pharmaceutical companies.

“People are entitled to effective and cheap medical treatment”, the commission observed. “Why should they be compelled to pay heavily when effective alternative medicines on cheaper rates are available to them in the market. It is a matter of concern to all of us and the government should try to evolve some process that this apparent nexus between doctors and pharmaceutical firms may be broken.”

These companies allowed more than 1000 per cent margin to the retailers in some cases. Many unused items during the operations were resold to the chemists near big hospitals. All medicines sold without cash memo by the chemists did not stand guarantee of the chemists concerned. The chemists sold samples of medicines to the patients with the connivance of the doctors. He prayed that the government should be directed to set up fair price chemist shops at all the government hospitals in order to safeguard the interests of the patients.

The Director, Health Services and Family Welfare, Punjab, in a communication to the commission denied that fake or substandard drugs were being sold in the market. However, wherever these drugs were suspected to be fake or spurious, the samples were drawn by the District Drugs Inspector and action taken against the defaulters.

So far as the 1000 per cent margin to the retailers was concerned, it was stated that the prices of medicines were fixed by the National Pharmaceuticals Pricing Authority (NPPA) and no company was allowed to sell the drugs at a price higher than the fixed prices.

During 2003, licences of 13 chemists had been cancelled and 168 licences had been suspended for violation of various provisions of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act and Rules.

The commission observed that the reply of the Director, Health Services, Punjab, was self-contradictory. On the one hand, it was stated that it was incorrect that fake, substandard drugs were being sold in the market and on the other, it had been admitted that the licences of various chemists had been suspended for the violation of various provisions of Drugs and Cosmetic Act.

The commission noted that the High Court had already given directions to the government not to issue any licence to any individual for running a chemist shop in the government hospitals.


Samjhauta brings special guests
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Attari, March 29
The Samjhauta Express today brought some special guests — kin of two Sikh women, Jaswant Kaur and his sister Harbhajan Kaur, who had acquired new names, Razia Sultan and Arshad Beghum, respectively, after embracing Islam due to Partition.

Both sisters had gone to West Punjab but could not return to their motherland after the breakout of communal riots at the time of Partition. They are real sisters of Parduman Singh, a veteran journalist from Hoshiarpur who was gunned down by terrorists in 1988, and other family members believed that they (both sisters) might have been killed in communal frenzy. However, one day Parduman Singh got a pleasant news that his sisters were alive and thereafter remained in touch with them through mails. Before he was gunned down, he could meet his sisters once. Jaswant Kaur, who was married to Chaudhary Noor Ilahi in Mandi Bahaudin, however, died about six years ago.

Kin of Jaswant Kaur and Harbhajan Kaur came to India for the first time and were received by their Sikh brethren at Attari railway station itself. Mr Barjinder Singh, Tehsildar Garshankar and son of late Parduman Singh, and other family members had come all the way from Hoshiarpur to received them.

Shagufta Parveen, her husband Dr Yunus Parvaz (both daughter and son-in-law of late Jaswant Kaur, respectively, and their children Zainab, Muzaal and Zahra, besides Mehmood Akhtar Bhatti (cousine of Mr Baljinder Singh) and his children Suhel Akht and Binash also reached here. The grandchildren of Jaswant Kaur and Harbhajan Kaur were so delighted to meet their relatives in India that they wanted to prolong their stay in India. They would visit Hoshiarpur after paying obeisance at Golden Temple.


Sikh jatha for Pak on Baisakhi

Bathinda, March 29
A delegation of 3,000 Sikh devotees will visit Pakistan to pay obeisance at gurdwaras there on the occasion of Baisakhi on April 13.

Led by SGPC General Secretary Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, the devotees will visit gurdwaras at Nankana Sahib, Dera Sahib, Panja Sahib and Sacha Sauda. — PTI


Pakistan author meets students

Patiala, March 29
The Department of Punjabi of Punjabi University, organised a meet-the-author programme on the campus here today. Janab Fakhar Zaman from Pakistan, a noted Punjabi writer, presided over the function.

Addressing the gathering, he described the development of Punjabi in Pakistan and invited students to visit his country. He appreciated steps being taken by both countries towards peace and harmony.

He was accompanied by Mr Kanwar Gill, Mr Iqbal Farid, Mr Riaz Cheema and Mr Ijaz Choudhry. Punjabi University Vice Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai, Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa, both members of the syndicate, Dean Academic Affairs U.C. Singh and Registrar Param Bakhshish Singh, and Head of the department Balwinder Kaur Bar also spoke on the occasion. — OC


Pak MP refuses to part with Sagar Ganga
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
Rai Aziz Ullah Khan, a member of the National Assembly (MNA) of Pakistan and the ninth direct descendant of the ruler of the erstwhile Raikot Riyasat (Ludhiana), said he and his family won’t part with the priceless Sagar Ganga, a metal pitcher gifted by Guru Gobind Singh.

Talking to the Press after paying obeisance at Golden Temple here today, he said Sagar Ganga was in the locker of a bank in England. He however, said he was ready to bring the relic for display on the occasion of the forthcoming fourth centenary of the martyrdom of two sons of Guru Gobind Singh, which would fall this year. He would bring the relic only if the SGPC and the state government would provide fool proof security for Sagar Ganga and his family members, he added.


GND varsity to establish Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, March 29
Guru Nanak Dev University has decided to establish Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan and a Heritage village, saadi virasat saada pind, on the university campus in the next financial year.

It has also resolved to develop and expand regional centres located at Jalandhar and Gurdaspur. The university has earmarked Rs 70 lakh for the establishment of Guru Granth Sahib Bhavan and Rs 50 lakh for the heritage village.

This was announced here today by the Vice-Chancellor of the university, Dr S.P. Singh, while presenting Budget estimates in the Syndicate and the Senate.

Meanwhile, the meetings have unanimously approved the Budget estimates of Rs 56.38 crore for 2004-05.

Elaborating on the development schemes, the Vice-Chancellor said Rs 50 lakh would be provided for the construction of the heritage village. Similarly, Rs 70 lakh would be incurred on the construction of the bhavan, Rs 1.15 crore on the construction of the Centre for South-Central Asian Studies, Rs 90 lakh on the construction of architecture block while Rs 1.65 crore would be spent on the construction of D, E type houses and teachers’ flats.

Mr S.P. Singh said Rs 45.90 lakh would be spent for the extension of Maharaja Ranjit Singh IT Bhavan, Rs 10.40 lakh on the Inquiry and Information centre. He said the university was committed to the development and expansion of university regional centres at Jalandhar and Gurdaspur.

He said Rs 15 lakh would be spent on Law Faculty building, Rs 15 lakh on the IT centre, Rs 35 lakh on teachers’ flats, Rs 59 lakh on girls hostel and Rs 25 lakh on the construction of open air theatre on Jalandhar campus.

Dr S.P. Singh informed the members that during 2004-05 the revenue receipts and the maintenance grant from the state government would be Rs 40.30 crore and Rs 16.08 crore, respectively, making it a total of Rs 56.38 crore.

Talking about the allocation of the Budget, the Vice-Chancellor said of the total expenditure of Rs 68.46 crore, the university would spend 50.08 per cent on teaching, allied teaching, research and improvement of education; 24.78 per cent on miscellaneous departments and medical services, 16.18 per cent on general administration, 4.94 per cent on the conduct of examinations and 4.02 per cent on the construction of buildings.

The Vice-Chancellor said the committed expenditure would be around Rs 68.46 crore and with an opening balance of Rs 11.50 crore, the net deficit shall be Rs 57.75 lakh. But the liability on account of payment of 2 per cent additional DA for the period from January 1 to March 31 would be Rs 60.47 lakh and thus the deficit would increase from Rs 57.75 lakh to Rs 1.18 crore.

He told the members that in the Budget estimates Rs 2.75 crore had been provided for capital works against the demand of Rs 16.75 crore in addition to Rs 1 crore for procuring land for expansion of the boy’s hostel for Guru Nanak Dev University Regional Campus, Jalandhar. But the capital works would only be undertaken subject to the availability of funds.

Similarly, Rs 60 lakh would be spent on the girls hostel and Rs 1.65 crore on the construction of boys hostel at the Regional Centre, Gurdaspur.


Bhinder begins campaign
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 29
Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, former Union Minister and Congress candidate from the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha constituency said yesterday. “Hum Aath Ek Hai” (we eight MLA’s of the Congress from Gurdaspur are united).

Addressing a meeting of workers at Dinanagar 25 km from here, she said, “we may have differences but so far as our fight against the SAD-BJP combine is concerned we are together”. The Congress was the most disciplined party and would fight the Lok Sabha elections together, added Mrs Bhinder.

The senior Congress leader also hoped that the Congress would emerge the single largest party after elections and form government at the Centre with other like-minded secular parties.

Accompanied by her husband and former Punjab police chief P.S. Bhinder, Mrs Aruna Chowdhary, Mr Remal Chanel both MLCs Mr Gurbachan Singh Babehali, Chairman, Milkfed, and other leaders she claimed Hotel management institute in Gurdaspur, seven ITI’s and Beant Engineering College and getting employment to thousands of unemployed youths from the district during the last Congress regime in Punjab.

She said I am seeking votes in the name of employment and development issues while Mr Vinod Khanna his rival and BJP-SAD nominee did not have such records.


Matharu’s charges baseless: Barsat
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
The Punjab Chief Minister’s Political Secretary, Mr Harchand Singh Barsat, today said that he was prepared to face any inquiry into the allegations that had been levelled against him by an Akali leader, Mr Gurmeet Singh Matharu.

Describing the allegations as baseless and false, Mr Barsat that Mr Matharu had tried to tarnish his political career by resorting to such a “drama”. He said that he was prepared to face an inquiry even by some Central investigation agency such as the CBI. There was a need to hold the inquiry to expose those who had the habit of levelling unfounded allegations, said Mr Barsat.

He said that he remained associated with various political and trade union movements in the state and no one had ever raised an accusing finger against him. There appeared to be some political conspiracy to defame him he added. “I am also consulting legal experts to file a defamation case against Mr Matharu,” he asserted.


IMA flays clinical establishment Bill
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 29
The working committee of the Indian Medical Association, Punjab, with Dr Kuldip Singh in chair, has flayed the Punjab Regulation of Clinical Establishment Bill-2004. According to a press note issued by Dr Raman Aggarwal, a spokesman of the state IMA here today, though the Bill had been inked to curb quackery and ensure better health services in private hospitals by prescribing certain minimum standards, yet intriguingly enough only private hospitals were proposed to be brought under the purview of the law.

The committee flayed the covert efforts of bureaucracy to boss over the private doctors who were already providing quality health care to 70 per cent of masses and were regulated by more than 16 Acts. To exempt government hospitals from it was to defeat its very objective, said the committee members. A modification was demanded and it was declared that the body won’t accept the Bill in its present form as it would breed corruption and promote Inspector Raj.

Later, a deputation of IMA, Punjab, met Dr Ramesh Chander Dogra, Punjab Health Minister, who assured them that the Bill would be discussed with IMA representatives and others before being enacted and would be applicable to both government and private hospitals, claimed the press note.

The minister assured the delegation that to avoid hassles of Inspector Raj and harassment, autonomous competent authorities having representatives of IMA would be formed to enforce this law.


Rights panel seeks report in stripping case
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 29
The Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC) has taken cognizance of the incident pertaining to the alleged stripping of a plus two student by an invigilator at the examination centre in SSD School when the former refused to help the ward of a VVIP copy during the examination on March 9.

Sources said the PSHRC took cognizance of the complaint lodged by Mr Ashok Gupta, father of the student.

Mr B.C. Rajput, PSHRC member, in his order passed on March 22, said the allegations prima facie make a case under Section 12 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993.

“A report in this connection may be called for under Section 17 of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, from the SSP, Bathinda, well before July 13, 2004, on which date the case shall come up before the commission for further consideration,” the order said.

Mr Gupta in his complaint alleged that his son was stripped on the pretext that he was copying from a slip. He said his son had declined to give his answer sheet to facilitate copying by an other student.

Mr Gupta had refused to cooperate in the magisterial probe ordered into the case by the District Magistrate, saying that he had no faith in the probe as the district administration had allegedly been trying to hush-up the matter.


Medical report confirms police torture
Our Correspondent

Ropar, March 29
A case of police atrocity has come to light following the order of a court to medically examine two persons involved in a theft and robbery case today. The medical examinations of Balwinder Singh of Chamkaur Sahib and Ajit Singh of a village near Khanna, revealed that they had been beaten in police custody.

They had injury marks on their bodies and were reportedly given electric shocks too as per the report. The doctor who conducted their medical, referred them to an ENT expert as they reported impaired hearing due to the shocks.

Ms Manjit Kaur, wife of Balwinder Singh, had moved an application in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate on March 25, saying that her husband had been picked up by the police on March 23 but no case had been registered against him. She alleged that he was being kept in illegal custody. The court had ordered the SHO, Chamkaur Sahib, to report on the matter.

The police presented the accused in the court on March 27, stating that the accused had been arrested under Sections 382, 323 and 506, IPC, on March 26.

The judge had remanded the accused in police custody for two days.

However, Ms Manjit Kaur today alleged that her husband had been beaten up in police custody. The court ordered the medical examination of the accused at the Civil Hospital.


Panel for return of gaushala land formed
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, March 29
Representatives of the Congress, the Bajrang Dal, the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackrey) and the BJP today announced the formation of a 31-member Gaushala Land Eviction Committee to take the possession of gaushala land.

Mr Jagdish Kataria, president of district unit of the Shiv Sena, was appointed president of the committee.

The action committee members today met the Deputy Commissioner Mr Rakesh Kumar Verma, and presented him a memorandum demanding the return of the gaushala land from Land Mafia within 48 hours.

Mr Verma said he had already entrusted an inquiry in the case of Mr D.S. Sandhewalia, SDM, and asked both parties to submit their claims before the SDM.

Mr Kataria said rulers of Kapurthala princely state had given 661 kanals to the local gaushala for the maintenance of old and infirm cows and buffaloes.

He said in the revenue record the land was recorded as grazing ground for cows.

Mr Kataria said three persons of Kanjli village near the town had got changed the entries in the revenue record in their favour allegedly in connivance with revenue officials with an intention to grab the land.

He alleged that these persons had forcibly occupied the land. He said more than 300 old and infirm cows and buffaloes had been grazing on the land.

Mr Sandhewalia had asked both parties to show their records till March 31 to him in his office.


Amarinder, Kanwaljit visit Kali Mata temple
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh this evening paid obeisance at the Kali Mata temple on the occasion of Ashtam amidst heavy security arrangements.

Capt Amarinder Singh, who was accompanied by Chairman of the local Improvement Trust K.K Sharma and other local Congress leaders, came with his entourage around 5.30 pm and took a round of the temple after paying obeisance.

Addressing an impromptu press conference, he said he did not go to the Golden Temple in the morning today to gain any political mileage as was being envisaged by many. On the contrary, he said he had gone there as a devout Sikh.

Addressing the acute parking problem outside the temple he said the space lying vacant in the Home Guard’s office, in front of the Kali Mata mandir, would be used.

In the morning, amidst heavy rush of devotees, former Finance Minister and SAD candidate for the Patiala Parliamentary constituency Kanwaljit Singh paid obeisance at the temple.

He was accompanied by local leaders of the Patiala district unit of the SAD.


Move to shift powerhouse line opposed
Our Correspondent

Pathankot, March 29
The move to shift the 33-KV line of the Mirthal powerhouse here to Pong Dam, Talwara, has been opposed by members of the Pathankot Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI) and others.

In a letter to the Punjab Chief Minister by Mr Vijay Passi, president of the PCCI, and Mr Ravinder Abhi, secretary of the PPCC, they have urged the government to review the proposal, saying that the sanctioned XLPE 33 KV cable approved for the shifting could not bear the load of the requirements of the entire area.

The change of cable would disrupt the supply of power to the industry of the Nangal and Mirthal areas and over 30 villages, they added.


Bomb hoax on Shatabdi

Jalandhar, March 29
The Delhi-bound Amritsar-Delhi Swarna Shatabdi Express was stopped here for about half hour last night for security check following a bomb scare. Railway sources said here today that an anonymous caller informed the GRP (Amritsar police station) that a bomb had been planted in the Delhi-bound train. The railway police at Jalandhar was informed and arrangements for a search were undertaken.

A bomb disposal squad, besides sniffer dogs were pressed into service but no bomb was found on board the train. — UNI


Post offices to sell revenue stamps
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, March 29
The Punjab Government has decided to sell revenue stamps through post offices after paying a discount of 3 per cent on the entire sale for the current year in the state.

To make the system viable, the government has made an amendment to the Stamp Rules Act 1934, changing it to the Punjab Stamp (First Amendment) Rules, 2004, Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, said in a press note here today. Earlier, the stamps were sold only through stamp vendors by issuing licences to them.


CME on rheumatoid arthritis held
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
The local branch of the India Medical Association (IMA) organised a CME on “Recent trends in the management of rheumatoid arthritis” here today.

The programme was presided over by Dr Adarsh Chopra. Dr D.S. Bhullar, a spokesperson of the IMA, said the programme was attended by as many as 50 doctors.

Speaking on the occasion, Dr Rohini Handa, an expert in rheumatology from the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences, said that nearly one per cent of the Indian population was suffering from the disease which mainly affected hands with morning stiffness, swelling and severe pain in joints.


High Court
Consider regularisation of Home Guards
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, March 29
Acting on a petition filed by 284 Home Guards seeking directions to state of Punjab, the Director General of Police and others, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court today directed the respondents to take a decision on their representations submitted in this regard.

Disposing of a petition filed by Manjit Singh and others, the Bench, comprising Mr Justice S.S. Nijjar and Ms Kiran Anand Lall, added that the petitioners were at liberty to submit supplementary representations to the respondents giving details of pleas taken in the writ petition.

Speaking for the Bench, Mr Justice Nijjar added that the respondents would dispose of the representations within two months of receiving a certified copy of the order.

In their petition, Manjit Singh and others had claimed that they had been regularly working for the past 10 to 15 years. Some of them had even served without a break for over 30 years. It was added that the services of the petitioners and other Home Guards were not being regularised in violation of government instructions even though a large number of posts were lying vacant.


Beef tallow case marked back to ACJM
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 29
Mr Karnail Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, while setting aside the order of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate (ACJM), Mr H.S. Dhaliwal, pertaining to the discharging of the accused in the beef tallow case, which took place in 1982-83 today marked the case back to him for further inquiry.

Mr Karnail Singh ordered the ACJM to make a further inquiry into the beef tallow case while disposing of the revision petition filed against the order of the ACJM by the state government.

A hue and cry had been raised by residents of the city when beef tallow was found in the tanks of a local industry involved in the manufacturing of vegetable oil and soap material in 1982-83. After that, two food inspectors — Dr Seeta Ram and Mr Kishan Chand — took the samples of beef tallow from the tank 5 and tank 10 of Bathinda Chemical Limited.

After the sampling process was over, two complaints were lodged against Mr Dwerka Dass Mittal, his wife Ved Kumari Mittal and sons Rajinder Mittal and Vinod Mittal under Section 16 of the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1954. The then ACJM discharged the accused in 1987 on the basis that cognisance of the complaints by the food inspectors could not be taken as they were not authorised to do the same by the state government.

Against the decision on then ACJM, the state government filed a revision petition before the then District Sessions Judge, which was accepted. Mr Mittal and his kin went into appeal to the high court against the acceptance of the revision petition. The high court marked the case back to the ACJM.

Taking up the case again the current ACJM discharged the accused. Mr Karnail Singh, Additional Sessions Judge, after accepting the revision petition filed by the state government against the order, set aside his order and marked the case back to him.

Mr Nand Lal Garg, defence counsel pointed out that the food inspectors, who took sample of the beef tallow were not empowered to file a complaint under the PFA Act by the state government and hence, no cognisance of the complaint filed by them could be taken. He said he would approach the high court against the decision of Mr Karnail Singh.


CII awards for 10 cotton growers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, March 29
The Punjab Chief Secretary, Mr Jai Singh Gill, today said field experiments of Bt cotton were going on in the state.

He said any decision in connection with Bt cotton would be taken after the experiments were over and according to the recommendations of Punjab Agricultural University (PAU).

Mr Gill, who was in town today to preside over a function organised in connection with the 4th Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Cotton Award ceremony, said the state government was committed to providing full support to the farming community in upgrading cotton productivity in the state.

He added that to make Punjab the highest cotton producing state again, a number of short-term and long-term schemes had been launched and these were being implemented in a phased manner.

Dr B.C. Gupta, Financial Commissioner (Development), Punjab, laid stress on the creation of better links among industry, agriculture, state government and agri-related institutions to make the farming community prosper and become self-reliant and self-sufficient. He added that breaking the wheat-paddy cycle and shifting to cash crops would lead to overall economic development of farmers.

Mr A.K. Das, Managing Director, State Bank of Patiala, said the bank had launched farmer-oriented schemes ensuring better credit delivery to them apart from strengthening links among banking, agriculture and industry.

Mr S.P. Oswal, Chairman, CII, while highlighting the importance of cotton cultivation said the sole motive of instituting the cotton awards was to encourage farmers to become role models for others by producing maximum per acre yield of cotton under standard conditions.

He pointed out that as many as 121 farmers of Nava Pind village of this district, which had been selected for pilot project of CII in connection with increasing the cotton production, had produced 800 kilograms lint per hectare, which was more than that produced in USA, one of the leading cotton producing countries, USA had been witnessing cotton production to the tune of 750 kilograms lint per hectare.

He said encouraged by the Nava Pind results, a consortium of leading textile companies of Northern India, including Vardhman, Nahar, Trident, Aarti International, Winsome Yarns, JCT and Gontermann Peipers, in association with PAU and State Bank of Patiala would adopt 10 villages in group of two clusters in the state for enhancing cotton production in the current crop season.

The farmers, who were honoured for making a mark in cotton production in their respective fields, included Mr Gurpartap Singh of Nava Pind village, Mr Gurpartap Singh was given cash award worth Rs 25,000 by the CII. Mr Bhupinder Singh of Chhatiana village of Muktsar district, who got the second prize was given Rs 20,000 as cash award and Mr Gurtej Singh of Rai Ka Kalan (Bathinda) village, Mr Des Singh of Mozam village (Ferozepore), Mr Gurmeet Singh of Bhulerian village (Muktsar) and Mr Hardev Singh of Ghudda village (Bathinda) were given Rs 10,000 as cash prize each. Four other farmers were honoured with cash prize of Rs 5,000 each.

As many as 800 farmers attended the award presentation ceremony.


Wheat procurement from April 1
Our Correspondent

Patiala, March 29
Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh today said the procurement of wheat would start in the district from April 1. He said the administration had made all arrangements so that farmers did not face any problem. He appealed to the farmers to keep in mind the specifications fixed by the Central Government so that they could sell their produce to government agencies at the minimum support price (MSP). He also directed the agencies not to purchase wheat at rates lesser than the MSP.

He further added that a Grievances Redressal Committee had been constituted to resolve cases of dispute.


Harvesting banned

Faridkot, March 29
The Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Magistrate has banned the harvesting of wheat from 8 pm to 7 am with immediate effect to maintain the quality of the produce. The orders will remain in force until May 25, a press note said here today. — OC


BDPO suspended
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, March 29
The Punjab Government in an order issued here has suspended the BDPO, Bassi Pathana, with immediate effect. During suspension his headquarters will be at Chandigarh. Though the reason for the suspension has not been mentioned in the orders but Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, Chairman, Block Samiti, Bassi Pathana, in a press note issued here yesterday has welcomed the action.

He has claimed that on March 3 during the meeting of block samiti all members had unanimously passed a resolution to suspend the BDPO as he had been misbehaving with the elected representatives.

During the meeting of the block samiti on February 20 serious allegations were levelled against the BDPO, Mr Preet Mohinder Singh Sahota, It was requested to Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal to suspend him immediately and she issued the suspension orders. The Chairman said the Director, Rural Development, had been assigned the job to probe the allegations levelled against him. He termed it as a victory of the democracy.


Trader’s son enacts kidnapping drama

Moga, March 29
A local trader’s son staged a drama to secure a ransom of Rs 5 lakh by informing his parents that he had been kidnapped by four car-borne persons, the police said today.

He told his parents that the kidnappers were demanding a ransom of Rs 5 lakh.

When the police found his motorcycle on the Moga bypass it became suspicious.

As they realised it was a drama, his parents refused to lodge a report and started looking for their son themselves.

Later he made a third person call from his mobile to his parents, saying that they should come to Jalandhar. His father and some relatives reached Jalandhar where he narrated the whole story to them and the police. — PTI


Body of woman found
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, March 29
The body of a young woman was found wrapped in a blanket from platform No 1 of the local railway station today. Some  acid was allegedly thrown on the upper portion of the body, which was burnt. The deceased appeared to be in her twenties. However, the body could not be identified. 

The railway police had taken the body into its possession.


Plea to end commercialisation of education
Our Correspondent

Abohar, March 29
Mr Vimal Thathai, a municipal council member here, has said that commercialisation in media and education, like criminalisation in politics, will be fatal for democracy. Speaking at the annual function of B.L. Vikas Vidya Mandir Senior Secondary School here today, he said there had been a growth of schools recently purely of commercial purposes just as some persons had joined journalism to make money through wrong means.

Mr C.P. Narang, educationist, endorsed the views of Mr Thathai. A cultural programme was presented and awards given to students.

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