P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



No leadership change in Punjab: Ambika
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
There is a great feeling of jubilation in Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s camp as the General Secretary of the AICC Ambika Soni here today made categorically clear that there is no move for a change of leadership in Punjab.

What has given a big joy to the Amarinder Singh camp is that Ambika Soni has told all concerned that Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has not given any hint “of any possible change in the leadership in Punjab”. Ambika Soni’s utterances are given huge weightage in party circles because she is considered a close confidant of Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Immediately after the party’s massive defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in Punjab, speculation had started in various political circles that Capt Amarinder Singh would be removed from the Chief Ministership of the state by the party high command.

She has fully endorsed the Punjab Chief Minister and the all-party stand on the river waters and the SYL canal issue. “I am with the Punjab ruling party on this issue”, she said in the presence of Capt Amarinder Singh.

Commenting on relations with opposition parties at the state level, Ambika Soni said there should be no bitterness in relations with opposition parties. The fight with the opposition parties should be on ideological basis and not personal basis. She said the elimination of corruption was one of the promises made by the Congress to the people of the state and it might have created some bitterness in political ranks.

Capt Amarinder Singh said his Government would continue the drive against corruption. But he did not make any comment regarding Mr Parkash Singh Badal. He said with the improvement of financial situation in the state all promises made to the people would be fulfilled. “Punjab Government had taken up the issue of minimum support price for foodgrains with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and he was fully aware about the issue”, said Capt Amarinder Singh.


Ambika Soni files papers for Rajya Sabha
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
Accompanied by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, AICC General Secretary Ambika Soni today filed her nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections from Punjab.

PPCC chief H.S. Hanspal, and other senior leaders were also present.

Hoshiarpur to have 4 MPs

Hoshiarpur will perhaps be the first district of Punjab to have four MPs in Parliament at one time. Of these three will be in the Rajya Sabha and one in the Lok Sabha. Ms Ambika Soni, who is certain to be elected to the Upper House, will be the fourth politician from Hoshiarpur to go to Parliament. Earlier, Mr Varinder Singh Bajwa and Mr Dharmpal Sabharwal were elected to the Rajya Sabha as the SAD and Congress candidates, respectively on March 19. Mr Avinash Khanna is another politician from Hoshiarpur, who has been elected to the Lok Sabha in the recent elections.

Ms Ambika Soni, who resigned from the Rajya Sabha last week, had earlier been elected to the Upper House from Delhi. As the party high command wanted to accommodate Mr P.M. Sayeed, Union Minister for Power, in the Rajya Sabha from Delhi, she vacated the Delhi seat for him and opted for Punjab.

SAD candidate Raj Mohinder Singh Majitha filed his nomination papers yesterday. Tomorrow is the last date of filing the nomination papers. Three slots are to be filled in the Rajya Sabha from Punjab, including the one rendered vacant by the death of SGPC chief Gurcharan Singh Tohra, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha but died a few days before the oath ceremony.

As polling for the byelection will be held separately, the Congress is certain to win it. Till today, no nomination was filed for the byelection. Of the three slots to be filled from Punjab, two will go to the Congress and one to the SAD. The polling, if necessary, will be held on June 28.


SGPC-run colleges can’t conduct PMET, says panel
Our Correspondent

Ludhiana, June 16
The SGPC and the Punjab Government are heading for confrontation on the issue of conducting the entrance test for the admission to the MBBS and BDS courses for the year 2004-2005.

The SGPC has taken the stand that the Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Medical Sciences and Research and the Sri Guru Ramdas Institute of Dental Sciences and Research can conduct their own PMET for the Sikh students who will be admitted under the minority status. However, the Justice G.R. Majithia Committee, set up by the state government, has declared that these institutes have to fall in line with the PMET to be conducted by the Baba Farid University of Health Sciences, Faridkot.

Mr Satish Chandra, Secretary, Medical Education and Research, Punjab Government, said today that a meeting of the Majithia Committee was held last night and members were of the view that the SGPC-run colleges could not conduct the entrance test.

He, however, said Christian Medical College and Hospital (CMCH), Ludhiana, could conduct its independent PMET for the minority students as they had been conducting the test for the past 15 years. He said the CMCH management had not yet applied for conducting the independent PMET.

Dr Mohan Verghese, Principal, CMCH, said they had sent a request for conducting independent PMET to the Majithia committee. He said another request would be submitted to the committee again.

Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, honorary secretary, Sri Guru Ramdas Trust, claimed that they could conduct the test for the 50 per cent Sikh students under the minority status. Regarding the formation of the association of Unaided Sikh Minority Medical and Dental Institutions (Punjab State), he said even the Supreme Court had held that more than one college could form an association and conduct their own test.

Meanwhile, Mr Chandra said the committee would take two to three months in fixing the tuition fee and the colleges would be asked to accept provisional fee at time of admission. He said Baba Farid University was likely to hold the PMET on July 18. The notification would be issued in a day or so.

Regarding the NRI quota, he said the Chief Minister would take the decision.


Vedanti not to appear before court
Takht Secretariat refuses to accept summons
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
The Akal Takht Secretariat refused to accept the summons issued by a Chandigarh court even as Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, declared that being a “Pope of the Sikh community”, he was above the law of the land and hence he won’t appear before any court.

Jathedar Vedanti claimed that the directives issued by Akal Takht, including excommunication of Sikhs from the Panth, had been an age-old institution practice introduced by the Sikh gurus.

Talking to The Tribune, Jathedar Vedanti said no Sikh high priest had ever appeared before in any court so far.

The SGPC while describing the summoning of Jathedar by a court as “serious, matter”, said the Sikh clergy was above law. Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, working president of the SGPC said summons issued to Jathedar Akal Takht on the basis of petition filed by Mr Joginder Singh, had hurt the sentiments of Sikh masses. Mr Pakhoke said Maharaja Ranjit Singh had readily accepted the directives issued by the then Jathedar Akal Takht.

Jathedar Vedanti said even Giani Zail Singh, the then President of India and Mr Buta Singh, the then Union Home Minister, had been obeying the directives issued by Akal Takht from time to time.

The Jathedar would convene a meeting of the Sikh clergy on June 19 or June 20 to discuss the issue. He said the meeting would also take a note of the violation of religious code of conduct for the SGPC election by certain candidates. He said Akal Takht would ensure the implementation of the code of conduct in toto.

It is learnt that Akal Takht has received a number of complaints about the violation of “religious code”. Certain complaints are of serious nature. Complainants have alleged that certain candidates of the SGPC were not observing “Sikh maryada”. Some of the complaints are also pending against the Akali stalwarts, including Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, working president, SGPC, who has been facing the charges inaugurating an office of the Shiv Sena in Tarn Taran. However, Mr Pakhoke had denied the charges.


SGPC refuses to abide by gurdwara poll panel’s order
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) today refused to abide by the directions of the Gurdwara Election Commission.

The SGPC working President, Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, in a press statement issued here today said if the gurdwara election commission had any objection to the termination of services of SGPC employees due to the imposition of the model code of conduct it should directly take up the issue with the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission (SGJC) on whose orders the termination of service was carried out.

The SGPC has terminated the services of 28 of its overage employees in the light of directions from the (SGJC), Mr Pakhoke said the SGPC had only followed the directions of the gurdwara commission and this did not amount to the violation of the model code of conduct .

At an interim committee meeting of the SGPC held in June last year which was presided over by then SGPC President, Prof Kirpal Singh Badungar, a unanimous approval was given to the resolution of not employing persons over the age of 60, he said.

It was decided that any positions — honorary or on contract basis — should not be given to overage persons.

Mr Pakhoke said on March 22 this year the SGJC had asked the SGPC for a list of its employees who were working on contract, honorary or without pay basis .

The second summon on this issue by the commission to the SGPC was received on May 24. He said the SGPC complied with the summons of the gurdwara commission’s and a list of 28 employees was sent to the SGJC on June 7.

The SGJC, in its order on June 11, upheld its last year decision. Mr Pakhoke said they took the advice of their legal experts before terminating the services of its employees.


Pakhoke’s candidature may be cancelled
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
The candidature of Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, working President, SGPC, Bibi Jagir Kaur, a former President, Mr Sucha Singh Langah and Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwan may be cancelled by the respective Deputy Commissioners-cum-Returning Officers for the forthcoming SGPC elections on the basis of their being defaulters.

Huge amounts are outstanding against wards of SGPC candidates who had got admission in the MBBS course in the SGPC-run Guru Ram Dass Medical College during the 2000-2001 session under the NRI quota.

The local Deputy Commissioner-cum-Returning Officer has already issued a notice to Mr Pakhoke to submit a reply by tomorrow as a candidate from Tarn Taran had challenged his candidature. The decision will announced on June 18.

The legal adviser to the SGPC had indicted Mr Pakhoke for having failed to clear the outstanding amount of his daughter who had got admission under the NRI quota. The legal adviser, in his note, stated that out of eight students, three had paid the full first instalment of Rs 18.40 lakh at the time of admission out of a total of $ 75,000. He said the defaulting students were issued notices to deposit the balance till June 15, 2002, as per a resolution of the trust. He stated that another notice had been sent to the students to deposit the balance within 30 days (not later than August 30, 2002) but to no avail.

On September 21, 2002, an order was issued by the Director-Principal of the medical college, stating that it was decided that the admission forms of NRI candidates of the 2000-01 batch who had paid the first instalment be sent to the university.

The three-page not of the legal adviser further reads, “The SGPC-run institute of medical sciences and research receives no grant from the government. It is financed by the SGPC, which depends on the contribution and offerings made by millions of devotees around the world. No person can be permitted to take undue advantage of the trust for personal ends”.


Father killed to implicate SGPC member in murder case
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 16
Gurmeet Singh, resident of Kolianwali village in the district, killed his father Sharda Singh, senior Congress worker, to implicate a senior Akali leader and member, Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC), Mr Dyal Singh Kolianwali, in the murder case to settle political scores with him.

Though the murder had taken place on the intervening night of May 12 and 13 in Kolianwali village and subsequently a case registered against Mr Kolianwali on the complaint of Gurmeet Singh at Sadar police station, Malout, the involvement of Gurmeet Singh and his two accomplices in the crime came to light today when the police concluded the investigation of the case.

Mr Kolianwali was declared proclaimed offender in the case by the authorities.

Mr R.S. Khatra, SSP, while talking to TNS, said Gurmeet Singh and other two accused, Surjeet Singh and Kulwant Singh, were arrested today. The firearm used by them in the crime alongwith the empty cartridges was also recovered from them.

He added that all three accused first hatched a conspiracy to kill Sharda Singh. They collected at a point in the village at night. After entering the house of the deceased, Gurmeet Singh first fired a shot which hit Sharda Singh in his chest.

Then Surjeet Singh fired a shot, which hit Sharda Singh at one of his shoulders. Kulwant Singh fired another shot, which hit the deceased at one of the legs.

Then Surjeet Singh and Kulwant Singh fired two shots into the air and ran away in the car. After hearing the sound of gunshots, family members of the deceased got up and raising alarm.

However, Gurmeet Singh, who was still in the house, made them to go to sleep again by saying that those who came to their house and fired shots, had run away.

Next morning, Gurmeet Singh and his accomplices started leveling allegations that Mr Kolianwali had murdered Sharda Singh. The case against Mr Kolianwali was registered.

Mr Khatra pointed out that during the investigation, it was found that Jassa Singh of the same village was severely injured when a clash between two groups having different political affiliation took place on the day of polling, May 10. Jassa Singh was shifted to a Ludhiana hospital, as his condition was critical.

Somehow, a rumour spread in the village that Jassa Singh had died.

As the accused were involved in the clash, they tried to shift the focus of the police away from the clash and they killed Sharda Singh to implicate Mr Kolianwali in a murder case.

After committing the crime, they also succeeded in getting a case registered against Mr Kolianwali under sections 302, 120-B, 148 and 149 of the IPC.

Mr Khatra said the car used in the crime had been recovered from one of the accused Surjeet Singh.

Meanwhile, it is learnt that a senior Congress leader was present in the Kolianwali village when the accused hatched a conspiracy to kill Sharda Singh.


Badal agent of RSS, says Ranjit Singh
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 16
Bhai Ranjit Singh, a former Jathedar of Akal Takht, today released another list of 50 candidates for the ensuing Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee elections here.

At a press conference held at his residence here, the former Jathedar challenged Mr Parkash Singh Badal, president Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) for an open debate on Gurmat in before the SGPC elections. He said: “Let the Sikh sangat decide after debate who is the agent of the Congress or the RSS ?”

Describing Mr Badal as agent of the RSS, Bhai Ranjit Singh alleged that the former had only one agenda of terming his opponents as Congress agents. He alleged Mr Badal was trying to divert the attention of people from real Panthic issues.

He said by terming the holding of paths of Ramayana by SGPC members “as per maryada”, Mr Badal had proved his intentions of implementing the RSS agenda in gurdwaras.

He said Mr Badal got baptised in 1999 to misguide people and participated in ‘Ghallukara divas’ after 20 years of Operation Blue Star.


Chandumajra to announce office-bearers
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 16
Prof Prem Singh Chandumajra, President of the newly formed SAD (Longowal), will announce the party’s organisational structure in Chandigarh tomorrow.

Talking to TNS on the phone this afternoon, Prof Chandumajra said besides a 21-member working committee, other office-bearers of the party and district presidents of the youth wing and istri wing would also be announced.

He said the party activists would actively campaign for the victory of Panthic Morcha candidates on all 170 seats in the SGPC elections.


Action sought against Riar
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
The working committee of the local unit of the Shiromani Akali Dal at a meeting held here today with Mr N.S. Minhas in the chair urged the party chief, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, to take strict action against Mr Gurpartap Singh Riar for his alleged anti-Panthic and anti-party activities.

In a talk with newsmen here, Mr Minhas said Mr Riar had fielded himself against the official candidate of the party. Mr Amarinder Singh, in the forthcoming SGPC elections. Mr Riar, he alleged, had a history of defying party directives and discipline and working against the SAD-BJP alliance candidate, Mr Satya Pal Jain in the recent Lok Sabha poll, issuing press statements against SAD leaders including Mr Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Bibi Jagir Kaur, Mr Sukhbir Singh Badal, Mr Ajaib Singh Mukhmailpur, Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur and Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa.


Calcutta objects to meeting on cloth purchase
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta, whose services as the SGPC Secretary have been terminated through a controversial order, today raised an objection to the convening of a meeting of the tender committee tomorrow to purchase cloth for “siropa” worth Rs 5 crore, saying that it would be in violation of the model code of conduct.

In a communication to the SGPC, Mr Calcutta, who was one of the members of the purchase committee, said any meeting to be held here tomorrow would be termed illegal.


DGP office prepares proposal on cadre posts
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
For complying with the directions issued by the Punjab and Haryana High Court regarding the posting of non-cadre officers against cadre posts, the office of Punjab's Director-General of Police (DGP) A.A. Siddiqui has prepared a detailed proposal. It will be forwarded to Punjab's Home Department for necessary action after the DGP rejoins duty on June 21.

The sources in Punjab Police headquarters reveal that the Home Department had earlier sent a communique to the DGP's office asking the authorities to send the proposal, along with names of officers that could be considered for fresh posting. The department had asked the DGP to act fast as the High Court had set June 30 as the deadline in the matter.

The sources assert that 20 Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers — including nine Senior Superintendents of Police — will be adversely affected by the orders. The officers, sources maintain, are holding cadres posts in violation of the Indian Public Service (cadre) rules and All India Service Manual.

Punjab, the sources assert, has 79 cadre posts. Forty of them are SP-rank officers. Out of them, 20 posts are occupied by PPS officers, the sources assert.

The SSPs likely to be affected are — R.P.S. Bajwa (Majitha), Ranbir Singh Khatra (Muktsar), Shiv Kumar (Fathegarh Sahib), Mukhwinder Singh Chinna (Moga), Narinder Bhargav (Gurdaspur), Gurpreet Singh Bhullar (Jalandhar), Kulshinder Singh (Faridkot), Gurinder Singh Dhillon (Sangrur) and Gur Kirpal Singh (Tarn Taran)

The issue of posting PPS officers against cadre posts has been a cause of friction between them and the IPS officers for a long time. The IPS officers have all along been claiming that successive governments in the state have been posting PPS officers on cadre posts. They had further contended that regular IPS recruits had, in turn, been relegated to non-cadre posts in the rank of SPs.

In fact, IPS officer Nilabh Kishore had filed an application before the High Court against the government. He had stated that the post of SP in the Chief Minister's security was a non-cadre post and he should not have been posted against it.

It may be recalled that the High Court had earlier asked the Punjab Government to decide representations and take appropriate action by June 30 on representations regarding the posting of IPS officers on cadre posts alone.


Kanwaljit favours Ganga-Yamuna link canal for Haryana
Our Correspondent

Mohali, June 16
A Ganga-Yamuna link canal should be constructed to provide water to Haryana as waters of the Ganga is not being utilised at all.

This was stated by Capt Kanwaljit Singh, former Finance Minister, Punjab, while talking to a select group of mediapersons here today. Capt Kanwaljit Singh was the guest of honour at a function organised in connection with the inauguration of a Hero Honda showroom in the Phase III industrial area here today.

He said if such a link was constructed it would benefit both Punjab and Haryana and the dispute over the river waters would be sorted out amicably.

He said Rs 700 crore had been spent on the construction of the SYL canal which had all gone waste as the constructed area had all broken down. The canal had been constructed even before the allocation of waters was done. He said the water issue was not a legal battle but an economic and political issue. It was linked to the prosperity of Punjab.

He said the SAD would never allow water from Punjab to go to any other state. The party would hold a peaceful agitation to protect the interest of the state. He said Capt Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister, Punjab, had asked for rights to take up the issue with the Centre. At an all-party meeting held recently, the Chief Minister was authorised to take up the issue and the SAD would support him in this regard. The SAD does not mind if water was given to Haryana but not at the cost of Punjab. He said Punjab did not have any surplus water. The flow of water in rivers had come down and the government could get a study conducted in this regard.

He said the river water was a state subject and the Parliament was not competent to legislate on state subjects.

Meanwhile, Mr Sanjiv Goyal of Balaji Automobiles, the Hero Honda showroom inaugurated today, said the workshop area would be fully automated and would be equipped with latest gadgetary.


GND varsity BA, BSc II results today
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 16
The results of BA and BSc II examinations of Guru Nanak Dev University, held in April and May, 2004, will be declared tomorrow.

The results can be accessed on the university website at www.gnduonline.org after 5 pm the same day. This was stated in a press note issued by the university here today.


Kainth to launch debate on expulsion
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 16
A former convener of the state unit of the BSP, Mr Satnam Singh Kainth, today announced to launch series of debates in the state over the way the party high command chose to expel senior party leaders on one pretext or the other.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Kainth said a state-level conference would be held at Desh Bhagat Yaadgar Hall here on July 11. Intellectuals of the Bahujan Samaj would deliberate on the issue of management of the BSP by the present leadership.

Accusing the state unit president, Mr Avatr Singh Karimpuri, and in charge of Punjab BSP affairs Mr Narinder Kashyap of hatching a conspiracy against him, Mr Kainth alleged that the two were responsible for the declining base of the party at grassroot level.

“I am not in a hurry to revive the Bahujan Samaj Morcha following expulsion from the party. Neither I will form a new party as I consider it to my basic right to fight against the dictatorship of the state BSP leadership. I will hold district level seminars on the wrong acts of the state leadership and a state-level conference will be held at Jalandhar on July 11 for a debate and for the formulation of future strategy,” Mr Kainth said, adding that he would try to impress upon the expelled leaders like former MLA from Garhshankar Mr Shingara Ram Sahungra and Mr Devi Dass Nahar to join his campaign to enlighten dalit community in this regard.

“It’s very intriguing that I had been expelled because, I opposed the expulsion of Mr Nahar from the party,” he added.


Warring cloth merchants reach agreement
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 16
Tension which gripped the cloth market in the local Banasawala Bazar since last night, following a violent clash between owners and men of two cloth houses last night was defused this afternoon following an amicable settlement on the issue. The two sides reached an agreement in the presence of local DSP Jaspal Singh.

As a result of the settlement, the local Cloth Market Bansawala Bazar was declared a one-way traffic area with police putting barricades on its entry point on the local Banga road and sealing its other three entry points. The case registered against the two sides was withdrawn. It was decided that the encroachments in the bazar, which caused a traffic clutter, would be removed and rehris would be shifted to the Hoshiarpur road.

Mr Krishan Lal Kalra, President, Cloth Merchants Association, Mr Sudesh Sharma, President, Federation of Phagwara Small Industries Association, Mr R.L. Kohli, Chairman, Punjab Chambers of Commerce, Ms Kusam Sharma, PPCC, organising secretary, and local councillor were busy since this morning to pacify the warring groups.

DSP Jaspal Singh confirmed that the issue had been settled. Following the settlement, cloth merchants, who had downed their shutters in the cloth market since this morning today reopened their shops this afternoon. The cloth merchants had closed their shops to demand action against those who had fomented trouble last night which resulted in a violent clash.

The clash had taken place last night on the issue of car parking. The driver of the New Narang Textiles owner reportedly had an altercation with the owner of New Frontier Cloth House, Mr Tarsem Lal Batra. It later snowballed into a violent clash with supporters of both sides joining it.

The police had to use mild force to control the situation. A case was registered and over 12 persons from both sides were arrested. However, they were later let off following an agreement this morning.


PSEB to install bill payment machines
Chitleen K Sethi
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 16
In what could mean an end to waiting in long queues to pay electricity bills, the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) is set to install bill payment machines (BPMs) across the state. Consumers can pay their electricity bills through an automatic machine that will accept both cash and cheques and give a receipt to the consumer in return.

This facility will be available to the consumers round the clock. Initially, 10 such machines, costing the board Rs 5 to 10 lakh, each will be set up in various cities in Punjab.

A trial BPM has already been installed at the Mohali Circle office as part of the pilot project. The machine looks like an ATM machine and most of its functioning is also the same. In order to pay the bill, the consumer feeds his account number, given on the bill, into the machine. The machine flashes the bill amount on the screen. If the payment is to be made in cash, the consumer slips currency notes of specific denominations into the machine through a slit, making a payment to the closest zero. The machine recognises the currency notes and when the full payment is received, a receipt is issued to the consumer.

Similarly, the machine accepts cheques (all payments above Rs 5000 have to be made through cheques) and issues a receipt through a separate window. The interactive machine works on touch screen technology and the consumer is directed through the whole transaction. Consumers will also have the option of interacting with the machine in English, Hindi or Punjabi.

Tata Infotech, a Bangalore-based company was asked to install one machine on a trial basis following the success of which the board will buy more machines from them.

Talking to The Tribune, Mr Y.S. Ratra, Chairman, PSEB, said that the experiment had been a major success in Bangalore where the Bangalore municipal body had automated collection of both electricity and water bills through such machines. ‘‘If the Mohali experiment is successful, we will take it to all the major cities in Punjab. For the rest of the state we will group smaller towns together and install one machine at strategic locations,’’ he said.

Mr V.K. Mahajan, Senior Executive Engineer, Mohali Circle, said that the machine at Mohali would start functioning in the next 10 days. ‘‘Engineers from Tata Infotech are here to smoothen out the teething problems. Right now, the machine accepts only Rs 10, Rs 50 and Rs 100 currency notes but we have asked the company engineers to include Rs 500 notes also,’’ he said. Mr Mahajan added that the machine's software would ensure that fake currency notes were not accepted by the machine. ‘‘Also very old and torn notes will be rejected by the machine,’’ he said.

Highlighting that the machines will be operational 24 hours a day, Mr Ratra said that this gave the consumer the freedom to deposit the bill at any time of the day. ‘‘Then he is satisfied since he is getting a receipt for the payment he is making, which is important for a consumer,’’ he said.

‘‘Even the cheques collection is not the drop-in variety, like in ATMs. Every cheque is scanned by the machine and a receipt given to the consumer. In case the cheque pays for a bill only partially then the consumer is liable for punishment,’ said Mr Mahajan.


SSF’s memo to Kalam to be signed with blood
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 16
The Sikh Students Federation (Mehta) will submit a memorandum, inked with the blood of its members, to President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on June 19 in New Delhi to protest against the possible construction of the SYL canal.

Addressing a press conference here today, Bhai Gurcharan Singh Grewal, National President SSF (Mehta Group), said all members of their organisation would sign the memorandum with their blood.

Mr Grewal said the agitation launched by the federation had yielded tremendous support from the youths, particularly the students community. Mr Grewal said thousands of youths would march towards Rashtrapati Bhavan from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib at 11 am on June 19 and will submit a memorandum on ground realities in Punjab as far as the construction of the SYL canal was concerned. He said the construction of the SYL canal violated the riparian rights of the state and the SSF would never allow it to happen.

Mr Grewal while lashing out at the Congress, asserted that the Congress had always played with the emotions of the Punjabis. He said the appointment of Mr Monmohan Singh to the post of Prime Minister was a political compulsion of Ms Sonia Gandhi.

Bhai Jaspal Singh, vice-president, SSF, and Mr Paramjit Singh Kalsi district unit president were other SSF leaders present on the occasion.


SAD, BJP condemn hike in petrol prices
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, June 16
SAD-BJP combine leaders today described as “back-breaking” the hike in the prices of cooking gas, petrol and diesel. Jathedar Jarnail Singh Wahid, SAD national adviser, Mr Swarna Ram, Punjab BJP vice-president today dubbed the hike as the first anti-people gift of the Congress at the Centre.

The hike in prices of diesel and petrol at a time when paddy transplantation was in progress and when farmers were already burdened with a debt trap was a cruel 
act of the Centre.

SANGRUR: The Punjab Radical Students Union (PRSU) here on Wednesday condemned the Congress-led Union Government for hiking the prices of petrol, diesel and cooking gas.

Mr Amarjit Raju and Mr Sanjiv Mintoo, president and secretary, respectively of the union, termed the hike in the prices of petroleum products by the Union Government as an “anti-people” step.

They said the political parties made false promises with the people before the parliamentary elections by saying that they would reduce the common man’s 

But after coming to power, they did not hesitate in burdening the public in form of taxes.


Bir Devinder attends bhog ceremony of freedom fighter
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 16
Rich tributes were paid to Chaudhry Dharm Pal Dutta, a freedom fighter and former president of the Ashoka Educational Trust, at the bhog ceremony held at Mandi Gobindgarh town of the district. Thousands of people from every walks of life attended his bhog ceremony.

Addressing the gathering Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Deputy Speaker, said Chaudhry Dharm Pal Dutta was devoted to the cause of people irrespective of their caste and creed. He remained the president of the Ashoka Educational Trust, Sirhind, for 25 years.

Dr Harbans Lal, MLA, lauded the contribution of Chaudhry Dharm Pal Dutta in every sphere and particularly in the field of education and development of the area. He announced the construction of a Community Hall at the cost of Rs 5.20 lakh in memory of Dutta.

The bhog ceremony of Mr Kulwant Mehta, a renowned financer of Sirhind, who was allegedly murdered by his servant was also performed. 


Now, fewer people die of rabies, says study
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 16
Even as the annual mortality rate due to rabies has been lowered, the incidents of dog-bite have increased several times. In India, the annual mortality rate due to rabies which, according to a survey conducted in 1990, was 30,000-35000 deaths per year, has come down to 18,000-20,000.

These revelations have been made in the national multi-centric rabies survey “Assessing Burden of Rabies in India” conducted by the Association for Prevention and Control of Rabies in India (APCRI), the report of which was released today.

According to the study conducted at the behest of the World Health Organisation (WHO) to assess the current situation of rabies, including annual incidence of animal bites and human rabies deaths in India, rabies, which is an important public health problem in South East Asia, contributes to about 70 per cent of the global burden.

The study covered 8,500 households from 84 randomly chosen communities to ascertain cases of animal bites and information about their management and was conducted countrywide in collaboration with 22 medical colleges, 18 veterinary colleges and five national research centres. The total population covered was 52,731 at 90 per cent confidence level.

It said, “Though the rabies is vaccine preventable, yet it has not received priority or the resources required”.


‘Chabeels’ mark martyrdom day
Tribune Reporters

Phagwara, June 16
The martyrdom of Guru Arjun Dev, the fifth Guru of Sikhs, was observed here today at the local Gurdwara Singh Sabha, Model Town, Gurdwara Akalian and on Walia Transport premises. “Chabeels” and langar were held to mark the day. A big congregation was held at Gurdwara Akalian which was headed by Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal.

BATALA: Sweet water was served to public to commemorate the martyrdom day of Guru Sri Guru Arjun Dev Ji.

A langar was also held at Circular Road, Batala.

Sweetened water was also served to the bus passengers at Main Bus Stand.


BSP holds dharna against police inaction

Amritsar, June 16
Activists of the Bahujan Samaj Party today held a dharna near the Gharinda police station here. It led to the stoppage of the “Sada-e-Sarhad,” which was allegedly pelted with stones by the protesters.

However, the SP (city-II), Mr Harminder Singh Gill, denied that the bus had been stoned and stopped. He said the bus passed through without any obstruction and termed it as a rumour.

Workers of the BSP were reportedly protesting against the SHO of the Gharinda police station for his alleged failure to take action in a land dispute case. — OC


Plea to amend medical registration Act
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 16
The Action Committee-cum-Legal Cell, Indian Medical Association, Punjab, yesterday demanded amendment to the Punjab Medical Registration Act of 1916.

Dr Raman K. Aggarwal, Chairman of the cell, in a statement here, maintained that the amendment was required to broadbase the council by electing at least one member from each district of the state and nominating at least 15 members.


Wish fulfilled, man dies in Pak
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 16
It was the last wish of Mehmood Alam (65), a resident of Jammu and Kashmir, to attend the marriage of his granddaughter Razia, which was solemnised on April 12 in Lahore. However, he died following a heart attack on June 13.

The body of Alam, who had gone to Pakistan after a gap of 20 years on April 12 by the Samjhauta Express, was brought to India by road through the Wagah joint check-post and was received by Adib Ramaz, son of the deceased.


‘Girlfriend’ screened amid tight security
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 16
The district administration tightened the security at local Phool cinema hall after activists of Hindu outfits hurled stones and damaged property of cinema halls screening ‘Girlfriend’ across the country.


Fake passport case: two remanded
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 16
Even as the Duty Magistrate today remanded Parminder Kaur and Jaspal Singh, both accused in the fake passport case, in police custody for one day, the police has asked the Notary, who “attested” the fake affidavit, to join the investigation.

Mr Rajpal Singh Sandhu, SP, said during investigations, it was found that Parminder, a local resident, had got prepared some forged documents, including a school leaving certificate and a ration card.

“We have decided to incorporate Sections 120-B, 471 and 474 of the IPC into the FIR. The Notary has been asked to join investigation under Section 160 of the Cr.P.C.

We have also identified a travel agent, who helped her to prepare forged documents,” said the SP.


Jasmer to interact with agitating farmers
Tribune News Service

Mohali, June 16
Dr Jasmer Singh, a senior Congress leader, has been appointed as Mr Bir Devinder Singh’s representative to interact with the farmers of the area who are sitting on a chain hunger strike in order to get their grievances addressed by PUDA.

In an official communication to the members of the Pind Bachao Committee, the Deputy Speaker of the Vidhan Sabha and Kharar MLA, said he was appreciative of the sufferings of the farmers and fully endorsed their view points on various issues. ‘‘But they should also understand my limitations that neither I can sit on dharna nor visit the agitating farmers, who have already burnt the effiges of a senior member of the Council of Ministers, Mr Raghunath Sahai Puri, and Captain Kanwaljit Singh,’’ said the communication. He added that the Deputy Speaker was not supposed to visit a group of people who were on an agitational path against the government and had also taken extreme step by burning the effigies of the members.

‘‘I would advise them not to get misled by disgruntled people who were trying to take undue political mileage out of the agitation. I am, as a representative of the area, doing my best in this direction.’ ’he said.

After all we are human beings and they must not hurt the feelings of anybody as it would spoil their cause. I have appointed Dr Jasmer Singh to get in touch with the agitating farmers on my behalf,’’ said the communication.

Meanwhile, a local Akali leader, Mr Rajbir Singh Padiala, today joined the ongoing chain hunger strike. The villagers are protesting against the acquisition of their land by the Punjab Urban Planning and Development Authority (PUDA). The four-month- long struggle against the acquisition of farmers’ land had intensified on May 17 with landlords starting a chain hunger strike that completed one month today.

The protesters are demanding the cancellation of the notification issued by the government dated January 19, 2004, with respect to acquisition of approximately 690 acres in five villages. According to the PUDA notification, over 170 acres will be acquired in Sohana village, another 209 acres will be acquired in Lakhnaur village, 21 acres in Landran, 124 acres in Bermpur and 162 acres in Manak Majra village.


Mela stopped on DC’s directions
Our Correspondent

Pathankot , June 16
The district administration today imposed a ban on the operation of a mela, which was organised by the ARK Amusement here.

The Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioner said, today that the organisers of the mela did not have any sanction of the administration and were evading entertainment tax.

The SP, Mr Manminder Singh, said the mela was stopped on the directions of the Deputy Commissioner.

Meanwhile, the Excise and Taxation Department has served a notice to the ARK Amusement.


3 PCS officers transferred
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 16
The Punjab Government has transferred three PCS officers. The LAO, Drainage, Patiala, Mr Kuldeep Singh, has been posted as District Transport Officer, Ludhiana, in place of Mr Mukand Singh Sandhu, who has been sent as DTO, Fatehgarh Sahib. The Extra Vigilance Commissioner (EAC), Ferozepore, Mr Arnail Singh, has been posted as the EAC, Hoshiarpur.


Two held with stolen car
Tribune News Service

Kapurthala, June 16
With the arrest of two persons, the local police claims to have achieved a major breakthrough in solving several cases of stealing of vehicles in the district.

SI Surinder Singh, CIA staff-cum SHO, Dhilwan, Police Station made the arrests as he laid a naka on the Amritsar-Jalandhar GT Road near Gudana village on a tip-off today. As per the information, two persons were travelling in a stolen Indica car (number HR-17-2971) coming from Ferozepore district and going to Amritsar to sell it off.

The police party saw the car and signalled it to stop. The driver was identified as Jaswant Singh, alias Sattu, resident of Sidhwandona, Kapurthala. The other man was identified as Baldev Singh, alias Tota, resident of Bhanolangah, Kapurthala.

During preliminary interrogation, Jaswant Singh confessed that he had been declared a proclaimed offender in FIR number 78, dated June 15, 2002, under Sections 364, 376, 382, 148 and 149 of the IPC at Sadar Police Station, Kapurthala.

The duo has been involved in two criminal cases under sections 15, 61 and 85 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and were declared proclaimed offenders in two separate cases when they had been found selling poppy husk bags in Mothanwala village and had escaped during the raids conducted by the police.

Both accused confessed that they used to live with Balwant Singh in Jathewal village, Moga, after they had left their villages to escape from the Kapurthala police. They admitted doing a business of purchasing stolen cars at cheaper rates from Hisar and selling them in Punjab on higher prices.

Mr S.K. Asthana, SSP, Kaputhala, said the nakas were laid on the directions of Mr Gurmit Singh, SP (D), and Mr Lakhwinderpal Singh, DSP (D).

He said the two thieves were in the police remand and interrogation was on to recover other vehicles.


Action sought against cops accused of graft
Our Correspondent

Patti, June 16
The National Human Rights Parishad taking a serious note of inaction against a DSP and an SHO, against whom a case of corruption was filed in 1999, has sought the immediate suspension the officials concerned.

Mr J.S. Matoo, chairman of the parishad, in a press note issued here yesterday informed that Mr Kashmir Singh Gill, DSP, and Mr Govinder Singh, SHO Patti, were booked under various sections for taking a bribe Rs 10 lakh from Mr Dilbagh Singh former Sarpanch of Sito Jhuggian village under Patti subdivision to release him from illegal custody of Patti police.

Mr Dilbagh Singh, after securing his release, approached the higher police authorities for the action against the police officers who tortured him during illegal detention and demanded the return of his money. When he found that his repeated pleas for justice had fallen on deaf ears, he filed a civil writ petition in the Punjab and Haryana High Court in 1997. On directions of the high court, the then S.P (Headquarters) Mr Ram Singh, conducted an inquiry and found both the officers guilty. Subsequently, a case was registered on the basis of the inquiry report at Patti Police station on May 4, 1999.

Mr Matoo said no action against the erring police officials had been taken so far. He added that even no departmental action had been taken against the guilty and nor had the challan been presented in court.

Mr Rajinder Pal, DSP, Patti, when contacted said the Punjab Police crime branch, Chandigarh, was investigating the case.


Dalit woman beaten up
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 16
Binder Kaur, a Scheduled Caste woman and resident of Virk Kalan village in the district, was admitted to the local Civil Hospital with multiple injuries after she was allegedly beaten up by 10 residents of the same village on the night of June 11 while she was going to her house from her shop at Bhisiana village.

Though a case has been registered against the accused under Section 323 of the IPC, the SSP, Mr Kapil Dev, when contacted, said that DSP (R) had been asked to conduct a probe into the incident. He added that further action would be taken as per the report of the inquiry being conducted by the DSP (R).

Narrating her tale of woe, Binder Kaur alleged that she was attacked with lathis and sharp-edged weapons by the accused when she was going to her house along with her married son on the night of June 11. She added that she was beaten up merciless and when her son tried to save her, he was also beaten up. She said she was caught by her hair by the attackers and given lathi and “gandasa” blows repeatedly by the accused.

She added that though she along with her kin approached policemen posted at Bhisiana police post for lodging a complaint, she could not get any positive response. Instead of it, her thumb impressions were taken on blank papers by the policemen.

She alleged that though she was hospitalised on June 11, her X-ray examination had not been done so far.

Ms Sukhminder Kaur, legal adviser, Dasta Virodhi Andolan, Punjab, who has taken up the case of Binder Kaur, said she had demanded that the medical examination of Binder Kaur should be done again. She said action should be taken against those officials, who tried to help the accused in the matter.

Mr Bikkar Singh, husband of Binder Kaur, pointed out that his wife and son were attacked by the accused as he had been making efforts against two of the accused in connection with the attempt made by them to rape his daughter-in-law a few months ago.


Three booked in abduction case
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 16
The Bagha Purana police has booked three persons on the charge of abducting a married woman, following an order of the Punjab State Human Rights Commission (PSHRC).

Sources said Gurbhaksh Singh, a resident of Bagha Purana, approached the PSHRC after the police did not register a case against the accused. In his complaint to the PSHRC, Gurbhaksh stated that some persons abducted his daughter, Gurpreet Kaur, on December 28, 2003. Gurpreet had returned on April 20, 2004, and she had said that the accused kept her hostage in Chandigarh and Ludhiana during that period.

About three years ago, the elder sister of Gurpreet had been abducted and the police had registered a case following an order of the ADGP (Crime).

In his complaint, Gurbhaksh alleged that Gurpreet was abducted at the behest of the persons involved in the earlier case.

The accused have been identified as Rulla Singh, his wife, Manjeet Kaur, and Sandeep Singh. A case has been registered against them under Sections 363, 366 and 342 of the IPC at the Bagha Purana police station.


25 bags of poppy husk seized
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 16
The Malerkotla police today seized 25 bags of poppy husk, containing 35 kg of poppy husk each, from the truck near Malerkotla. All three accused fled after abandoning the truck 200 yards away from a police naka.

Giving this information here today, Mr Gurinder Singh Dhillon, SSP, Sangrur, said the Malerkotla police had registered a case against Mohan Singh, Satnam Singh, both residents of Hariyau village, near Patran, and an unidentified person for carrying poppy husk.

Mr Dhillon said the price of the seized poppy husk was said to be more than Rs 4.50 lakh.

The SSP said during the past one week, the district police had seized about 85 bags of poppy husk from the Malerkotla, Sangrur, Bhawnigarh, Sunam and Moonak areas.


Cash, jewellery stolen from Kharar house
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 16
Thieves decamped with cash and gold jewellery from a house in Gobind Colony here today.

It is learnt that Mr Bakhtawar Singh, along with members of his family, had gone to a gurdwara to attend a function organised in connection with the martyrdom day of Guru Anjan Dev today.

In the afternoon when the family returned home it found that a window of the house had been broken. On entering the house they saw that household items and clothes were lying scattered. Locks of almirahs and metal boxes were broken.

The thieves decamped with four gold rings, a pair of gold earings, two watches and Rs 10,000 in cash.


Three injured in road mishap

Amritsar, June 16
It was a miraculous escape for passengers of a private bus (PB-3G-2585) when it overturned. However, three of them, including a woman, sustained minor injuries near Anngarh yesterday.

According to eyewitnesses, the over speeding private bus of G.H. Transport overturned while negotiating a sharp turn. The injured include the Sardool Singh of Gurdaspur district, Ms Paramjit Kaur and Mr Lakhwinder Singh of Thand village . They were admitted to the local Guru Ram Dass Hospital for treatment.

A case under Sections 279, 337, IPC has been registered at D- Division police station.


Two injured in jail clash

Hoshiarpur, June 16
Two undertrials, an alleged rapist and a liquor smuggler, suffered injuries in a clash in the district jail here today.

The Jail Superintendent, Mr R. K. Arora, said Ravi Kumar of facing trial under Section 376 of the IPC, and Sunil Kumar the alleged liquor smuggler, were admitted to the local Civil Hospital.

The Superintendent said it was Sunil, who after assaulting Ravi, inflicted self-injuries with a blade, following a scuffle. — UNI


2 couples held from hotel

Kharar, June 16
Two couples, alleged to be “lovebirds”, were arrested from a hotel on a charge of concealing their identity today.

According to a press note issued by Mr Jasdev Singh, DSP, here the four persons were arrested from two rooms of the hotel located near here on the Chandigarh-Sirhind road. On questioning they did not disclose their identity.

The names entered by them in the hotel register, too, were wrong. One of the couples belonged to Makre village under Kharar police station and the other to Nimayupur village in the Sirhind area. — OC


Varsity youth camp concludes
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 16
As many as 100 students from 10 colleges affiliated to Guru Nanak Dev University attended an eight-day youth training camp organised by the university under the aegis of its Youth Welfare Department. The camp concluded yesterday at Dalhousie. Sandeep Singh of NJSA government College, Kapurthala, was declared best camper, while Paramjit Singh of Hindu College, Amritsar, and Sandeep Sahi of GNPK College, Nadala, stood second. DAV College, Amritsar, was adjudged the disciplined squad.

In geet, ghazal and poetical symposium competitions, Sandip Singh of NJSA Government College Kapurthala stood first while Paramjit Singh of Hindu College, Amritsar and Gurpreet Singh of SL Bawa DAV College, Batala.

In declamation Dhanraj Thakkar of DAV College, Amritsar stood first while Amrik Singh of SDSM Khalsa college Domeli, and Jaskaran Pal Singh of Guru Nanak College, Phagwara stood second. In extempore Avtar Ram of DRV College, Phillaur stood first while Ajay Kataria of RK Arya College, Nawanshahr. stood second.

In debate: DAV College Amritsar stood first while RK Arya College, Nawanshahr stood second.

In quiz, NJSA Government College, Kapurthala stood first and GNPK College Nadala stood second.


Summer camp held for kids of army men
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 16
Over 500 children of armymen posted at Bathinda Military Station participated in a summer camp organised at HQ 10 Corps. The camp was organised with the efforts of the president of Chetak AWWA (Army Wives Welfare Association), Ms Kiran Nandrajog, wife of Lieut. Gen O.P. Nandrajog, GOC, Chetak Corps.

The concluded function was held here last evening, in which camp fire was organised and participants presented cultural programme.

Most of the participants were those who have been living and studying at their native places and had come to meet their fathers posted at the station.

Wives of armymen and women officials played an important role to make the camp a success.

The participants were divided into different groups according to their interests, said Ms Kiran Nandrajog, adding that the activities of the camp were organised thrice a day.

In the morning between 6 to 7 am, fitness and fun activities were organised, which included gymnastics, yoga, taekwondo, aerobics and parasailing, she added.

Ms Kiran said that music, painting, art and craft, theatre, public speaking, spoken English, story-telling, creative writing, book-reading, road etiquettes, traffic discipline, clay pottery, computer, pet care and grooming classes were organised during the afternoon.

Water sports were organised in the evening, she said.

Ms Kiran said the idea of organising such a summer camp for the children of armymen came to her mind because she herself was very fond of participating in extra-curricular activities during her student days.


232 appear for online test
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 16
As many as 232 candidates appeared for an online entrance test to MSc (IT) and MSc computer sciences courses at Lyallpur Khalsa College here today.

The college has now become a pioneer in the state in holding an online examination based on client-server technology. A multiple choice question bank was made available at the server from where client machines picked up questions and displayed them one by one on their monitors. The candidates were told to click on the correct options. The result of the test was made available to the candidates immediately after the completion of the examination.

Students were given 100 questions, each with four options. A specified time was allotted for the completion.

The test, conducted by the computer science and IT Department of the college, is believed to be a foolproof system with little scope for manipulation.


Camp for mentally retarded kids ends

Faridkot, June 16
A 10-day summer camp organised by the District Red Cross Society to impart training to mentally retarded and visually handicapped children in various activities like toy-making, painting, music, and dance concluded here yesterday.

More than 30 children participated. In the concluding address, Ms Nirmala. H. Lal, wife of the Deputy Commissioner and chairperson, Welfare Section Hospital, appealed to the people to come forward to assist the District Red Cross Society in the upliftment of such children.


Entrance test for printing technology
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 16
Guru Nanak Dev University will hold the entrance test for the post-graduate diploma in printing technology and management on June 25 in the Department of Electronics Technology of the university here.

The last date for the submission of application forms is June 21.

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