P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



34 jail inmates hurt in clash; probe ordered
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 17
The district administration today ordered a magisterial inquiry into a clash in which 34 inmates of the Central Jail were injured late last night. “The SDM, Mr Mahinder Pal, has been asked to conduct a probe into the clash between two groups of jail inmates. He will submit a report within two days,” Mr Ashok Gupta, Deputy Commissioner, told reporters here today.

He said medical reports of the inmates had also been sought to know whether any sharp-edged weapon was used in the clash, in which some inmates received severe head injuries.

Mr Nirmal Chand, Jail Superintendent said, “The clash started around 11 p.m. of the 34 inmates who were injured, 19 were shifted to the local Civil Hospital”.

He refuted the allegations that the cause of the clash was the supply of low-quality smack, as claimed by some of the inmates. “One of the undertrails, Malkiat Singh Titto, who was booked in several criminal cases and is known as the ring leader of the inmates, wanted to be referred to the Civil Hospital on false medical grounds while the jail doctor declined his demand. Later, he threatened all inmates not to accept dinner till his demand was met, but some of them refused to toe his line, which led to a clash,” he said.

Titto, along with his accomplices, attacked the others with kitchen utensils, Mr Chand said. He maintained that during a search operation, the jail staff had not found any narcotic substance or a weapon.

Meanwhile, some of the injured undertrials said the clash took place following a verbal duel among inmates over the low quality of contraband supplied by one of the inmates, who was functioning as a smack agent with the alleged connivance of jail officials. When some of the drug-addict inmates complained of the low quality of contraband, they were beaten by a group of inmates led by the supplier of narcotics.

District police chief G.P.S. Bhullar said four inmates had been booked for assaulting fellow inmates under various sections of the IPC and the NDPS Act.

A case has been registered on a complaint of Tirath Singh, an injured inmate, under Sections 323, 334, 148 and 149 of the IPC and various sections of the NDPS Act against four inmates, including its ring leader, Inderjeet, the SSP said.

Meanwhile, security has been beefed up in and around the jail to avoid any untoward incident.

The health authorities today discharged 15 inmates while four others, who received head injuries, were undergoing treatment at the Civil Hospital.

Security lapses led to escape of inmates: report
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, June 17
Mr Hussan Lal, Deputy Commissioner, here today said security lapses led to the escape of three inmates — Paramjit Singh, Jaswant Singh and Baljit Singh — from the local Juvenile Jail on June 13 in the evening. A fivepage fact-finding report in this connection was submitted to him by the SDM today.

The report said only one security official against the required five was performing duty during the incident. The Deputy Commissioner has appealed to the state govt to take action against the erring officials to avoid such incidents in future.

The Deputy Commissioner said plan had been mooted to find out a suitable site to construct a new complex of the observation home here which would not only provide all hygenic facilities but also ensure foolproof security arrangements for the juveniles. The ADC has been asked take steps in this connection on priority for taking up the project at the earliest possible.

The three inmates who were booked under Section 302 under different murder cases called the security guard on duty and asked him to open the door of their cell on the pretext of throwing the garbage. As soon as he opened the door, the three accused pounced upon him and locked him inside the cell and fled away after scaling the boundary wall of the Jail. However one of the accused Paramjit Singh was later arrested but the other two managed to escape.


Akalis stage walkout
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Akali MLAs today walked out of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha when the Speaker, Dr Kewal Krishan, did not permit Capt. Kanwaljit Singh to raise the issue of deteriorating law and order in the state during zero hour. The Speaker ruled that this point could be brought up at the time of discussion on the Governor’s Address. Dissatisfied, the Akalis raised slogans and trooped out.

The Speaker expunged all what Capt. Kanwaljit Singh had said without his permission. But this ruling came much after Parliamentary Secretary Ravinder Singh Sandhu had been charged with “theft’’ of irrigation water from a canal and the Forezepore police not registering any case against him. Denying the charges Mr Sandhu offered to face a probe by a five-member Akali team and asserted he did not have even one marla under paddy.

Earlier, there was commotion in the House during question hour, when several Opposition members continued to bombard Finance Minister, Lal Singh, with supplementary questions on the manner and hurry in which the government had gone in for ‘’disinvestment’’ of the profit-making Punjab Tractors Ltd. (PTL). The original question was from Mr Manpreet Singh Badal.

Mr Lal Singh either did not give clear answers to many questions or skipped answers or repeatedly said that the PTL disinvestment was transparent. Mr Lal Singh was upset when the Speaker agreed to the Opposition request for special discussion for half-an-hour. The Speaker even snubbed Mr Lal Singh saying that “It is me who is to decide how much time is to be given to whom’’.

Today being a “non-official’’ day, members moved two resolutions. One seeking that the government should review its existing policies for welfare of the Scheduled Castes, backward classes and the economically weaker sections and the second on taking effective steps to raise the standard of elementary education in schools. The third resolution to improve the standard of health services in government hospitals, dispensaries and to control the spread of TB, dengue and hepatitis was not taken up due to the absence of the member, who was to move it.

Of the two resolutions, the one on elementary education was dropped at the request of the minister, Mr Khushal Behl, who said the government was seized of the matter and steps were underway on the suggested lines. The other resolution on welfare of the Scheduled Castes, backward classes and economically weaker sections was, however, passed.

These resolution were moved by Mr Sadhu Singh Amloh, Mr Gurjant Singh, Mr Nathu Ram, Mr Tarlochan Singh and Mr Raj Kumar.

During question hour, Deputy Chief Minister, Rajinder Kaur Bhattal informed the House that Punjab had 5.16 lakh families living below the povertyline. Out of these, 3.88 lakh were in rural areas. 

The House was informed by the Minister for Irrigation, Mr Gurchet Singh Bhullar, that work on the Kandi canal, (phase-II), project could not be started for non-availability of funds, though it was “technically cleared’’ by the Central Water Commission. Its estimated cost was Rs 147.13 crore.

The government had earmarked Rs 199.958 lakh under the ashirwad scheme in 2003-04, launched on January 26, the scheme had benefited 3,278 persons.

The House would resume discussion on the Governor’s Address tomorrow.


Losers are gainers in Punjab Cong
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
Losers are the gainers in the Congress at the moment. In fact, they are having the best of times in the party if one is to go by the manner in which the party boss, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, has rewarded some of the prominent losers with the coveted officers in recent days.

And certainly, this phenomenon has caused a lot of heart burning among the party ranks, though, no one is ready to say anything on record against such decisions of the Congress high command. There are many to mock such developments in the party. “ To reward losers seems to have become a norm in Congress. No senior leader would make effort to win elections in future as he or she would be sure to get better office by losing”, said a senior Congress leader, who tried hard for the Rajya Sabha nomination.

Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, who lost the Gurdaspur Lok Sabha election for the third consecutive term, is the latest addition to the list of such gainers. She was today nominated as candidate for the Rajya Sabha elections from Punjab. And her berth in the Upper House is assured. Every one was taken by surprise when she informed all concerned on the phone in Chandigarh from Delhi this morning that she has been picked up for the Rajya Sabha. Today was the last day to file the nomination papers for the Rajya Sabha elections.

No one was expecting that Mrs Bhinder, who lost the elections thrice in recent years, would be politically rehabilitated so soon by, Mrs Sonia Gandhi. Answering a question regarding her nomination even after the defeat in the Lok Sabha elections, Mrs Bhinder said it would be better if this question was posed to the party high command.

Regarding Mrs Bhinder’s nomination, the party high command did not reveal its mind till the last moment. Only this morning, most of the Congress leaders including President of the PCC, Mr H.S. Hanspal, and the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, came to know that Mrs Bhinder had got the ticket for the Rajya Sabha.

In fact, the party high command has been constantly ignoring the Punjab ruling Congress leadership on the issue of selecting candidates for the Rajya Sabha slots from Punjab.

Earlier, Mrs Sonia Gandhi, had surprised many by nominating, Mr M.S. Gill, from the state for the Upper House. Mr Dharmpal Sabharwal was another surprise nominee of the party high command from Punjab for the Rajya Sabha. And Mrs Ambika Soni was yet another surprise for all those Punjab Congress leaders who have been lobbying intensely for the Rajya Sabha slot in Delhi.

Another loser, Mr R.L. Bhatia, who was defeated by Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu in the Lok Sabha elections, has been made Governor of Kerala. Mr Balram Jakhar, another veteran Congress leader from Punjab, who had shifted his political base to Rajasthan a few years ago and lost the Lok Sabha elections this time, has been made Governor of Madhya Pradesh.

However, some other prominent losers, who have not been adjusted by the party high command are Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar, Mr Buta Singh, and Mrs Santosh Chaudhary. All these three lost the last Lok Sabha elections. Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar has been expecting the berth in the Rajya Sabha and also in the Union Council of Ministers. But he has lost on both counts. Now the only hope for Mr Brar is that he may be adjusted in the organisation as General Secretary. Mr Brar is too young to be sent as Governor to any state. He would like to have some more years as active politicians.

Mrs Santosh Chaudhary is considered close to Mrs Sonia Gandhi. But when Mrs Sonia Gandhi will “bless” her, it is not yet known. Same is the case of Mr Buta Singh. Punjab is a state where the number of veteran Congress leaders is quite large. It is not possible for the high command to accommodate all of them. Mr Hanspal was a strong contender for the Rajya Sabha ticket. But it appears the party high command did not want him in Delhi. Though, there had been earlier talk that he would be removed from the office of President of the PCC, but it appears now the high command may allow him to continue as President.

The best gainers among losers are Mr Shivraj Patil, Union Home Minister and Mr P.M. Sayeed, Union Minister for Power.


Did Ambika help Mrs Bhinder to get RS ticket?
Prabhjot Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
After a turn of dramatic events, it was only at 9.30 this morning that the Congress high command decided to field Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder as its candidate for the second Rajya Sabha seat from Punjab.

Until last night, Mrs Bhinder was nowhere in the run for the Rajya Sabha berth as names of Mr Venod Sharma, Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo, Olympian Pargat Singh and cine star Rajesh Khanna besides those of Mr M.M. Singh Cheema, a trade union leader from Gurdaspur, were reportedly in circulation.

It was only after Mrs Ambika Soni returned to the Union Capital after filing her nomination papers in Chandigarh that she reportedly took up the matter with the Congress President, Mrs Sonia Gandhi.

Sources say that in December last year when an agreement was reached between the dissidents led by Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal and the loyalists of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, it was agreed that Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, would be fielded from Punjab in the Rajya Sabha elections.

She, sources reveal, was reluctant to contest the Lok Sabha elections from her home constituency of Gurdaspur.She contested but lost for the third consecutive time to film star-turned-politician Vinod Khanna.

Mrs Sonia Gandhi, sources said, was quick to respond positively after Mrs Ambika Soni reminded her of the assurance given to Mrs Bhinder in December last year. In fact elevating Mrs Rajinder Kaur Bhattal was also a part of the same agreement.

Until Mrs Soni took up her case, it was more or less a toss-up between Mr Venod Sharma, a former Rajya Sabha member from Punjab, and Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo. Both Mr Ghulam Nabi Azad and Mr Ahmed Patel were initially in favour of Mr Venod Sharma. And at one stage it was almost decided to field him from Punjab and give Mr Dulo a key organisational position to rehabilitate him.

In the wake of the controversy over “tainted” ministers, the high command on second thoughts that Mr Venod Sharma went out of reckoning. Subsequently Mr Ahmed Patel also supported Mrs Ambika Soni for Mrs Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder who after getting the news of her nomination had to rush to Chandigarh to file her papers in time on the last day today.

This time, both the Congress candidates are women.

There is some resentment in certain sections of the Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee over adjustment of all those whom electors of the State had rejected in the recent Lok sabha elections.

They hold that the party has elevated Mr R.L. Bhatia as Governor and now accommodated Mrs Bhinder. At one stage, even Mrs Santosh Chaudhary was being considered for the party ticket for the Rajya Sabha.

Since the party has made up its mind on adjusting Mr Shamsher Singh Dulo in the organisational set up, only defeated candidates and senior leaders left to be rehabilitated after crushing defeat in the Lok Sabha elections are Mr Jagmeet Singh Brar and Mr Munish Tewari.


Order on Jagir Kaur’s poll papers today
Our Correspondent

Kapurthala, June 17
Deputy Commissioner Rakesh Verma, who is also district returning officer for the SGPC general elections, today fixed the date of orders for tomorrow in the petition seeking the cancellation of nomination papers of former SGPC President Bibi Jagir Kaur after hearing the arguments of both counsel.

Bibi Jagir Kaur is seeking election to the SGPC from the Bholath constituency for the second time while her opponent Mohan Singh Bal, a panthic morcha candidate, has filed petition before the district returning officer for the rejection of her nomination papers on the allegation of misappropriation of SGPC funds in the admission of NRI students to the MBBS course in 1999 during her tenure as president, her private trip to South Africa and in the purchase of buses.

Arguing on behalf of petitioner Mohan Singh Bal, advocate Harcharan Singh Ahluwalia pleaded that her nomination papers were wrongly accepted by the returning officer Bholath by ignoring the objections raised by candidate Bal on the ground that she is undischarged insolvent as she owed money to the SGPC.

Rebutting his argument, respondent counsel Lakhesh Puri pleaded the rejection of the petition on the ground of its maintainability as there was no creditor who demanded the debt from Bibi Jagir Kaur and the SGPC has issued no-dues certificate in favour of Jagir Kaur.

He argued that all allegations levelled in the petition were mere supposition and since 1999 nobody came forward to claim any amount from Jagir Kaur.

He further argued that the gurdwara judicial commission was a forum where any Sikh can file complaint regarding the recovery of financial irregularities allegedly committed by any office-bearer, member or employee of the SGPC. He added that even the panel of auditors of the SGPC had so far not brought any amount due from Bibi Jagir Kaur. — PTI


SGPC purchase committee meeting cancelled
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 17
Even though the Deputy Commissioner-cum-District Returning Officer has reserved his decision on the probable cancellation of the candidature of Mr Alwinder Pal Singh Pakhoke, working President, SGPC, the prevailing uncertainty has brought the administration of the SGPC to a standstill.

The continuing stand-off between Tohra and Badal loyalists within the SGPC may not end in the coming days if Mr Parkash Singh Badal, President, Shiromani Akali Dal, fails to intervene soon.

This has also resulted in the cancellation of the purchase committee meeting, which was scheduled to be held here today for making orders for the purchase of cloth for “siropas”. The quorum could not be completed as Mr Manjit Singh Calcutta and Mr Sukhdev Singh Bhaur, both loyalists of the late Tohra, virtually boycotted the meeting.

Mr Calcutta, in his written communication, had raised an objection over the holding of the meeting in alleged violation of the model code of conduct. He had also termed the inclusion of certain Pakhoke loyalists in the purchase committee as illegal.

The present situation is likely to affect the prospects of the SAD in the forthcoming SGPC elections as most of the employees are busy discussing the tussle between Mr Calcutta and Mr Pakhoke. It will adversely affect the proposed centenary celebrations of the installation of Guru Granth Sahib, which falls on September 1 this year. The SGPC has failed to draw a plan for celebrating this mega event all over the world. While Dr Balkar Singh, a member of the anniversary committee, has gone abroad, Mr Harbir Singh Bhanwar, media advisor, Mr Gurdarshan Singh Bahia and other staff specially recruited for the celebrations have been sacked.


SAD changes Sunam candidate for SGPC poll
Tribune News Service

Mastuana Sahib (Sangrur), June 17
The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) has changed its candidate from Sunam for the SGPC elections. Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, Secretary-General of the SAD and MP from Sangrur, said today that the SAD had changed its candidate as the sitting SGPC member, Giani Raghbir Singh Jakherpal, had declined to contest on health grounds. He said the SAD was now fielding Mr Gurpreet Singh Lakhmirwala from Sunam.

However, sources said the SAD had changed its candidate under compulsion as Mr Lakhmirwala had already filed nomination papers as an Independent candidate from the Sunam SGPC constituency and he could have posed a danger to the prospects of the SAD candidate if he had contested as a candidate of the Panthic Morcha.

Talking to TNS on the phone, Mr Lakhmirwala said he had today started his election campaign from Gidarriani village, the native village of Sant Harchand Singh Longowal, after the announcement that he had been given the SAD ticket.

Mr Dhindsa admitted that there was resentment among SAD workers against the allotment of party ticket to the sitting SGPC member from Sangrur, Mr Joga Singh Phaguwala. He said the matter would be resolved soon.

He also stated that rebel SAD candidates from Barnala and Bhadaur had assured him the previous day that they would withdraw their nomination papers in favour of SAD candidates.

With regard to the decision of the district Akali Jatha to gherao Mr Simranjit Singh Mann for allegedly using “indecent” remarks against him at a meeting, Mr Dhindsa said he had told the district SAD leaders not to do so.


PSGPC fails to restore ‘maryada’ in shrines
Rashmi Talwar

Attari (Amritsar), June 17
The Pakistan Sikh Gurdwara Parbhandak Committee (PSGPC) has failed to restore “maryada” in various gurdwaras in Pakistan despite a proposal to formulate an Act for gurdwaras in the Pakistan parliament .

As many as 906 devotees today returned here after a 10-day pilgrimage to mark the martyrdom of Guru Arjan dev.

Devotees were critical of SGPC leader Dilbhag Singh whom they said was partisan towards his near and dear ones. Mr Kulwant Singh of Gill village said no ‘parkash’ was there in five of the seven gurdwaras at Nankana Sahib.

Similar was the case of Guru Ram Dass Gurdwara located at Chuna Mandi, Lahore. This gurdwara and Bhai Taru Singh Gurdwara were in a bad condition. In Lahore the ‘parkash’ was seen only in Dera Sahib Gurdwara. He said at Kartarpur Sahib Gurdwara there was only one sevadar for doing everything.

Meanwhile, 50 “birs” of Guru Granth Sahib were brought here in a special coach for cremation.

Mr Rajinder Virk said the jatha leaders did nothing for the convenience of the devotees.

Mr Narinder Singh of Zira lashed out at jatha leaders and said they grabbed all the best accommodation for themselves and their friends.

He said radical leader Manmohan Singh Khalsa of the Dal Khalsa exhorted Punjabi Sikhs to unite to achieve Khalistan.

Jatha leader Dilbhag Singh said a ‘siropa’ was given by PSGPC Chairperson Sham Singh to a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee.

He said they were not invited either by the Chief Minister of Punjab or any other government official during their stay there. He denied any Khalistani propaganda or distribution of literature by Sikh radicals.


Gastroenteritis claims two more lives
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, June 17
Two patients suspected to be suffering from gastroenteritis died here during the past 48 hours. Durga Devi (80), a resident of the local Bassi Khwaju mohalla died yesterday. Manohar Lal (35), a resident of Nangal Wahdan village, died on June, 15 at local Civil Hospital.

Dr Y.C. Markan Civil Surgeon, said here today that Durga Devi, who was being treated by an RMP, was declared brought dead at the hospital. Manohar Lal, who had been under treatment at the hospital earlier, was discharged on the night of June 13. He went to his village, Nangal Wahdan, and had bouts of vomiting again. He took medicine from an RMP of his village, but his condition did not improve He was again brought to the Civil Hospital.

Dr G.P.S Bedi, Senior Medical Officer, Civil Hospital, said 20 fresh cases of gastroenteritis had been reported at the Civil Hospital during the past 24 hours. He said 17 patients were undergoing treatment, of which 13 had been discharged today.

Dr S.K. Sharma District Health Officer, after visiting Nangal Wahdan village, told this correspondent that residents of the village were using contaminated water as the main water supply pipe line was broken. He informed the Executive Engineer concerned of the Public Health Department in this regard who got it repaired. He said his team had distributed chlorine tablets in the village and advised residents to use only boiled water.

Dr Jagmohan Singh Dardi a child specialist, said 20 to 30 patients up to the age of 18 years, who were suffering from gastroenteritis, were daily coming to in his clinic. A suspected cholera patient from the Sunder Nagar mohalla was also admitted to his clinic a few days ago. He had informed the district health authorities in this regard. Authorities took a stool sample and had sent it to a laboratory in Amritsar.

Meanwhile, Mr Kirandeep Singh Bhullar, Deputy Commissioner, convened a meeting of health and municipal authorities today to review measures to prevent gastroenteritis. He instructed them to conduct regular chlorination of drinking water at supply sources, maintain cleanliness and educate people to use only boiled water.


Residents sore over water contamination
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 17
Residents of the Kacha Patiala locality here are sore over the contaminated water coming from the municipal corporation in the area. 

Residents say despite several requests, the corporation has taken no step to deal with the problem. They have demanded that the administration take up the issue immediately.


Youths allege being defrauded of lakhs
Immigration firm owner booked
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
Nine local youths have claimed that they have been defrauded of lakhs of rupees each by a city-based immigration company. The company — Cherry Immigration — allegedly took Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 3 lakh from each youth after providing them immigration clearance certificates and job offers from some companies in Canada. The youths claimed that the offers were found to be fake.

Meanwhile, the company’s office at Alam Complex in the Railway Crossing Number 22 area has been closed and the owner, Ramandeep, and his wife and other associates have gone underground. The youths claim that more than 80 persons had been defrauded of Rs 2 crore by the company.

The youths today approached the Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr A.S. Rai, who asked the Civil Lines police station to register a case in this regard. According to the youths, they visited the company office in June, 2003. They said the company took money from them after giving them job offers from a Canadian company. Following this, more money was taken to handle their immigration cases.

“We were taken in by the professional manner in which the company was running its business”, says Amrik Singh of Sangatpura village, near here, who is one of the complainants. “The fact that the company owner, Ramandeep Singh, had also acquired a franchise of Canwest Immigration Services also helped build our faith in him”, he added. Amrik and other complainants, including Deepak Batra of Bhawanigarh and Jagjit Singh of Nabha, said when they tried to confirm the job offers by calling up the Canadian companies and their relatives in Canada, they came to know that all addresses supplied to them were false.

The complainants said following this, when they confronted Ramandeep Singh, he agreed to return their money. They said when the cheques given to them by Ramandeep bounced, they approached the police.

The company seems to have been thorough as far as the “offers of employment” handed over to the youths are concerned. One typical offer from Harris Transport Limited in Winnipeg, Manitoba, offers Vishal Batta, a complainant, a job as a long haul truck driver. The job offers a salary of 40,000 Canadian dollars annually. He even got a list of the duties he is expected to perform. Vishal says on verification, it was found that fake telephone numbers and addresses had been given in the letter. Similar letters were handed over to youths from the Immigration and Multiculturalism Division of the Manitoba State, telling them that their immigration applications had been approved.

The Civil Lines police has registered a case against the company owner Ramandeep, his wife Cherry and associates Amardev Singh Gill, Harnek Singh Gill and Dimple Walia under Sections 406 and 420 of the IPC.


Reject all water tribunals, says Atinderpal
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
Former MP and Shiromani Akali Dal (International) President Atinderpal Singh today urged the Punjab Vidhan Sabha to reject all water tribunals and decide on issues listed as state subjects in the Constitution itself.

Addressing a press conference here, Mr Atinderpal Singh said it was shocking that the Vidhan Sabha was not able to guard its constitutional rights and had merely passed a resolution stating that everyone was one on the issue of the Satluj-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal. He termed the resolution eyewash.

He said the issue of sharing of river waters had to be decided on the riparian principle due to which all tribunals and commissions formed by the Union Government on the subject were illegal.

Mr Atinderpal Singh said Punjab could not afford to release any water to Haryana through the SYL canal because as much as 107 of its 120 blocks in the state did not have sufficient water for irrigation purposes. He also called for creating more awareness among the people on this issue.

He also asked newly formed SAD president Prem Singh Chandumajra to clarify when he had approached the United Nations to highlight the problems of the Sikh community as claimed by him recently. He said Mr Chandumajra should come out with proof on the issue.


Centre’s yes for 106 MW additional power to Punjab
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
The Central Government has agreed in principle to release 149 MW of power, which constitutes Madhya Pradesh’s share in the Rajasthan atomic power station, to Punjab, besides giving the state an additional 106 MW from the unallocated Central pool.

PSEB Chairman Y.S. Ratra held a meeting with Secretary, Power, R.B. Sahi and other senior officers in Delhi today in this connection. Mr Ratra was accompanied by board Member, Distribution, H.C. Sood.

According to sources, the PSEB Chairman is still camping in Delhi as the proposal is yet to be signed by the Union Power Minister.

Besides this, the ministry has agreed to increase the board’s percentage in the unallocated power from the Central pool from 15 per cent to 22.

Mr Sood stated that earlier the Board was getting 120 MW from the unallocated sector, adding that this would increase by another 106 MW now.

Meanwhile, things are looking up slightly as far as the Bhakra dam is concerned. The water level in the dam was today measured at 1,471 feet, which is 6-foot higher from the lowest level recorded this season.

At Dehar, however, the water level is stable with the dam registering a slight increase in the water level as compared to last year. Against a level of 2,925 feet last year this time, the dam recorded a level of 2,932 feet today. Pong dam registered a drop from, 1,289 feet last year to 1,275 feet this year. Similarly, the level at the Ranjit Sagar dam fell from 508 m last year to 503 m this year. 


DIG-level BSF officers to meet Pak Rangers tomorrow
Deepkamal Kaur
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 17
As part of the confidence building measures (CBMs) being adopted by India and Pakistan, DIG-level officers of the Border Security Force (BSF) will meet their Pakistani counterparts in the Wagah conference hall on the Pakistan side on June 19 after three years to deliberate upon several issues, including the expeditious release of detainees on either side.

The meeting has brought a ray of hope for families of several detainees, who have been waiting for their release for the past several years. The BSF and Pakistani Rangers are likely to reach a consensus on the issue of immediate release of persons, who had inadvertently crossed the border, on humanitarian grounds and will give finishing touches to a comprehensive draft in this regard.

Sources in the BSF told The Tribune that officers of the level of Deputy Inspector-General (DIG) earlier used to meet every three to six months. The flag meeting, that had been planned on several occasions, was being postponed due to the prevalence of tense situation along the border. It has been decided to hold it this time.

The four DIGs who will meet Pakistani Rangers are Mr Hemant Purohit and Mr A.K. Surolia from the Punjab frontier, Mr M.L. Lathar from the Rajasthan frontier and Mr P.K. Mishra from the Jammu frontier. They will be accompanied by their Additional DIGs and staff officers. Besides, the Zonal Director, Narcotics Control Bureau, Punjab, will also attend the meeting.

The DIGs are likely to take up the matter pertaining to 69 Pakistani undertrials in India. As part of the peace process, such inmates are likely to undergo a speedy trial so that they might be sent to Pakistan soon.

The BSF officials will also discuss the smuggling of narcotics, primarily morphine, by agents based in Afghanistan from the Pakistani border. The officials have been demanding strict vigilance against such agents by the Pakistani force so that they are not able to reach the border but to no avail.

The matter pertaining to nine persons who migrated to Greece from Kapurthala, Ludhiana and Patiala districts on the basis of fake passports but now have been sent to Pakistan via Iran will also be discussed. The BSF officials are likely to plead that they might be released soon as they had actually been duped by agents involved in immigration rackets. The case will be taken up with the Rangers and presented before the Ministry of External Affairs for further discussion.

Mr G.S. Gill, Inspector General, BSF, Jalandhar, said the DIGs would make efforts to make Indo-Pak relations more cordial. He said they had also been asked to take up the issues of security problems across the border, including cultivation of tall grasses like elephant grass by villagers who were selling it to pulp manufacturers. The IG said such grasses paved the way for intruders and its growth had to be controlled from time to time.

The IG also said that the meeting of the officials of the IG level would be held in India in October. He said even though the venue had not been decided, it was most likely to be held in Jalandhar.


Delay in registering case upsets Congress leader
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 17
Even as Mr Mohan Lal Jhumba, general secretary, District Congress Committee (DCC), Bathinda and a close confidant of Chief Minister, Punjab, was beaten up at his house here allegedly by some persons belonging to Gidderbaha town on June 14, Mr Inder Singh Sahni, acting president, DCC, expressed his resentment over the delay being caused by the district police authorities in registering a criminal case against the accused.

Mr Sahni, while talking to TNS, said the district police chief, Mr Kapil Dev, had said that action would be taken in the case. This would be done after verifying the statement Mr Jhumba, which was recorded by a senior police official while he was under treatment in the local Civil Hospital after he was beaten up, said Mr Kapil Dev. The case should have been registered against the accused immediately after the incident, Mr Sahni said.

Mr Jhumba alleged that about 15 businessmen, accompanied by a police party of Gidderbaha town, came to his house in the local Lal Singh Basti on June 14. The businessmen along with policemen entered his house without any reason. Then the businessmen started beating him up in presence of the police. After that he was dragged out of his house and bundled into one of the vehicles used by the accused.

He added that after he raised a hue and cry, people living in the surrounding areas gathered on the spot and got him released him from the custody of the accused. He added that the businessmen, who had beaten him up, were having a dispute with his cousin but they made an attack on him without his fault.

Mr Jhumba said that though his statement had been recorded by police officials, no case against the accused had been registered so far.

Mr Kapil Dev, said that action on the statement of Mr Jhumba would be taken after the contents of the same were verified. He added that some of the persons named as accused by Mr Jhumba had, in fact, come with the police party after following a proper procedure. The police party visited this town in connection with a criminal case registered against Binder in the Gidderbaha police station.

Meanwhile, Mr Pardeep, a businessman of Gidderbaha town, whose name also figured as accused in the statement made by Mr Jhumba, when contacted, while denying his involvement in any sort of attack allegedly made on Mr Jhumba, alleged that a group of Congressmen of Bathinda town had been trying to blackmail people by using the influence of the police.


Cops deployed at theatre screening ‘Girlfriend’
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 17
The district administration today directed the district police to provide adequate security at the Lal Rattan theatre here, where the controversial film “Girlfriend” will be screened from tomorrow.

“Keeping in view the disturbance created by activists of the VHP and other organisations in several cities of the country where the film is being screened, we have issued guidelines to the district police chief to provide elaborate security cover to the city theatre to avoid any untoward incident,” Mr Ashok Gupta, District Magistrate, said here today.

Mr G.P.S. Bhullar said as per the direction of the Deputy Commissioner, police personnel had been deployed at the theatre.

Meanwhile, Mr S.N. Dasgupta, manager, Lal Rattan, said he had already approached the district police chief for the deployment of more security and the latter had assured him in this regard.


Reward for giving clues to kidnapped trader
Our Correspondent

Ferozepore, June 17
The police has announced a reward for Rs 1 lakh for providing information about the whereabouts of the local businessman, Mr Darshan Lal Arora, who was allegedly kidnapped by his business rivals on June 6 or giving clues about the three absconding culprits whose name has been given in the FIR registered in this connection.

Mr Arora, a military contractor, had disappeared under mysterious circumstances from this town on June 6 following which a case was registered against seven persons in cantonment police station on the basis of complaint lodged by his brother, Mr Bhagwan Arora.

Family members of Mr Arora had alleged that there was an inordinate delay on part of the police to register a case following which the district police chief, Mr H.S. Chahal, had placed Mr Surinder Sud, SHO, of the cantonment police station under suspension for his lackadaisical approach in this case and his failure to arrest the culprits named in the FIR.

Those arrested included Mr Surjit Singh, Harminder Singh and two others. One of the arrested persons, Surjit Singh is an Army contractor, who because of being in the same trade was allegedly at loggerheads with Darshan Kumar. Mr Darshan Kumar has been supplying food items to various cantonments in Punjab and Haryana for the last 20 years. His family members alleged that he had been receiving threats from his business rivals for past sometime. Three persons who are absconding include Ajay Pal Singh Onkar Singh alias Mintoo, and Harmit Singh, alias Shintoo, both sons of Surjit Singh, Army contractor.

Meanwhile, the local Beopar Mandal has threatened to observe a strike if the police failed to make a breakthrough in the case soon.


Vedanti, others lay stone for divan hall
Tribune News Service

Mastuana Sahib (Sangrur), June 17
Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti, Jathedar, Akal Takht, Giani Tarlochan Singh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Kesgarh Sahib, Giani Balwant Singh Nandgarh, Jathedar, Takht Sri Damdama Sahib, and two other priests laid the fondation stone for a divan hall, to be built at a cost of Rs 1 crore in a year, at Gurdwara Gursagar Mastuana Sahib here today.

Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa, president of the Sant Attar Singh Mustuana Trust and the MP from Sangrur, gave Rs 20 lakh on behalf of the trust for the construction of the divan hall. He also announced a grant of Rs 1.25 lakh from his MP Local Area Development Fund for the purpose.

Mr Dhindsa also announced that the trust had opened Akal Gurmat Training College in the complex of Akal Degree College here for imparting training to granthi Singhs and preachers. He said the gurmat college had started functioning today.

The foundation for the divan hall was laid by the Sikh high priests by laying bricks at the site. Those present on the occasion included Mr Balwant Singh Gill, president of the Akal College Council, Mastuana Sahib, Mr Sukhdev Singh Dhindsa and Mr Jeet Singh Alloarkh, head of the Dharam Parchar Committee of Gursagar Mastuana Sahib.


Police panel for NGO projects
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 17
A Punjab Police State Apex Committee for NGO projects has been constituted recently. The Punjab DGP, Mr A.A. Siddiqui, and the ADGP, Mr D.R. Bhatti, have been nominated as its patron and its chairman, respectively.

This has been stated in a press note issued here yesterday by Mr Naresh Pruthi, who has been nominated as member secretary of the Ferozepore police range level sub-committee.

Mr Pruthi said NGOs would coordinate with the committee for organising drug de-addiction camps to make the public aware about female foeticide and to educate the masses about traffic rules.

Two range level sub-committees have also been set up to ensure coordination with different NGOs. The DIG Faridkot Range, Mr Gurinder Singh Grewal and the DIG, Ferozepore Range, Mr H.S. Randhawa, have been nominated as chairmen of the Faridkot and the Ferozepur range sub-committees, respectively.

While Mr Naresh Pruthi will be member secretary of the Ferozepore level sub-committee, Mr S.K. Bansal will be member secretary of the Faridkot-level committee.


Green Muktsar plan from this monsoon
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 17
The district administration has made a comprehensive plan to make Muktsar green in connection with Guru Angad Dev’s fifth birth centenary. This has been stated by Deputy Commissioner Buta Ram Banga in a press note issued here today.

Mr Banga said a target of planting 3.50 lakh saplings during the coming monsoon season in the district had been fixed under the plan. The plan had been chalked out because the forest area in the district had reduced due to waterlogging problem.

While municipal councils and NGOs will play a prominent role in planting saplings in the urban areas, panchayats and public will do so in rural areas, the Deputy Commissioner said. Special attention would be given to protect the saplings.

Mr Banga stated that the Muktsar Forest Department would plant 2.50 lakh saplings on government land, roadsides and on the banks of canals and waterlogging drains, whereas the district administration would plant one lakh saplings on urban and rural areas of the district.

Meanwhile, a special meeting was held under the presidentship of DTO Rajiv Prashar. It was decided to plant 5,000 saplings in each of the blocks of the district, 1,000 saplings in the area of each of municipal councils and 15,000 saplings in different educational institutions of the district.


No electricity in village for a week
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 17
Unscheduled power cuts have made life miserable for residents of urban as well as rural areas. There were long unscheduled power cuts in the town during the day and at night yesterday.

Sangatpura village has had no electricity for the past seven days, while there was a 21-hour power cut in Dharamkot yesterday.

Business establishments and industrial units bore the brunt of these power cuts. Computer centres, Internet cafes, and photo studios were also affected, but some had made alternative arrangements like inverters and generators.

The power crisis has also affected the water supply in the town. The Executive Officer of the Municipal Council, Mr R.K. Mittal, said they had no prior information about the power cuts, otherwise they would have changed the water supply timings. He said Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) officials had also expressed their helplessness regarding prior information on power cuts.

Residents of Sangatpura village alleged that the PSEB had connected motors of politically influential farmers with their power lines, which had affected the power supply.


Recruitment of 444 employees okayed
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 17
The Punjab Council of Ministers today approved the recruitment of 444 teachers and other employees in aided private schools in the state. These employees were recruited between May 13, 2002, and January 29 last year, according to an official press note.

The ministry also approved amendments in the Punjab Financial Commissioners’ Secretariat (Class-1) Service rules, 1986..

Mr Ramesh Kumar Sharma, General Secretary of the Punjab State Aided Schools Teachers and Other Employees Union, has thanked the government for approving the recruitments.


Three Benches in consumer panel sought
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
The Punjab State Consumer Redressal Commission has requested the state government to create three more Benches in the state commission so that it is able to clear pending complaints.

Stating this here today after inaugurating the new building of the District Consumer Redressal Forum, which is housed in the old CMO office in the Baradari Gardens, Commission Chairman Justice H.S. Brar said the Union Government had also made a similar request to the Punjab Government on the suggestion of the National Consumer Redressal Commission.

Justice Brar said at present as many as 3,500 cases were pending with the state commission. He said the Commission was able to decide only 1,000 cases every year due to which it had requested that three additional Benches needed to be created to ensure speedy trial of pending cases.


Auction of ‘shamlat’ land fetches 1.21 cr
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 17
The auctions of “shamlat” land in the district in the presence of the District Development and Panchayat Officer and the Block Development and Panchayat Officers concerned this year have shown good results. This was stated by the Deputy Commissioner, Ms Seema Jain, here today. She said the district administration had formed a committee for the auction of “shamlat” land of village panchayats. The information regarding the auction was published in newspapers.

The auction of “shamlat” land of 157 panchayats in the district has fetched Rs 1.21 crore. Last year, the auction of land of as many panchayats had fetched Rs 95.45 lakh. The Deputy Commissioner said the “shamlat” land of the remaining panchayats would be auctioned by June 30.


JE caught taking bribe
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, June 17
Surinder Pal Singh, Junior Engineer (JE), Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB), posted at Guru Har Sahai, was today caught taking bribe from Mr Gursewak Singh, for giving him a “kundi” connection for paddy cultivation.

Official sources said a team of the Vigilance Bureau, led by Mr Raminder Singh, DSP, raided the premises of Surinder Pal Singh today on a complaint of Mr Gursewak Singh and caught him while he was accepting a bribe of Rs 1,500.

The sources said the accused had been demanding a bribe of Rs 2,500 from Mr Gursewak Singh ever since he applied for a ”kundi” connection. A deal between the complainant and the accused was struck when the former agreed to give Rs 1,500 as bribe.


Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 17
Lakshmi Narain (31), a resident of Sirhind Bazar locality of the city, allegedly committed suicide at around 11 here last night. Lakshmi Narain, who was married to Meenu Sharma and had three children, went through a divorce nearly eight months back. Three of his children were living with him as he and his wife had strained relations. Since the past few days, Meenu was pressurising Lakshmi to give her the custody of the children.

According to information, Lakshmi Narain cut his nerve on the right wrist and was found lying in a pool of blood near Karam Ashram. Residents of the locality took him to the local Rajindra Hospital where he died.

A case has been registered against both Meenu Sharma and Deepak under Section 306 and 34 of Indian Penal Code (IPC) at Kotwali police station.


Sarvjot Singh tops in Sikh religion examination
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, June 17
Sarvjot Singh (Roll No 4226), a resident of Mohali, has topped in the Sikh religion examination, 2004, for admissions to the Sikh minority engineering and polytechnic colleges run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee.

This year the test was conducted by the local Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College. The Principal of the college, Dr D.S. Hira, who was also the coordinator for the test, said Sarvjot Singh stood first in the test in the country by securing 48 out of 50 marks.

He said the test was conducted at three centres, Sri Guru Ram Das Institute of Dental Science and Research, Amritsar, Guru Nanak College, Muktsar, and the BBSBE College, Fatehgarh Sahib. The test was conducted yesterday from 11.30 am to 12.30 pm at all the three centres and the result was declared in the evening, which had been made available on the college website, bbsbec.org.

He said all those students who had already qualified in the CET-2004 conducted by the PTU or the JET-2004 conducted by the Punjab State Board of Technical Education, Chandigarh, after qualifying this test were eligible for the Sikh minority quota of admissions in Baba Banda Singh Bahadur Engineering (BBSBE) College, Fatehgarh Sahib, Guru Nanak Dev Engineering College, Ludhiana, and Guru Nanak Dev Polytechnic, Ludhiana.

Dr Hira said now all these candidates must appear in the PTU counselling to be held at the university at Jalandhar for admissions in BTech courses in the minority colleges.


Thapar, Helping Hands tie-up for underprivileged
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 17
Sixteen-year-old Jatinder Kaur’s father expired four years back. Her mother ekes out a living by doing odd tailoring jobs. Jatinder had expressed a desire study computers during summer holidays after completing Class X studies. And her mother had promised to let her do so if she could manage the money for the fees.

While Jatinder’s mother is yet to raise the money required for the computer course, the girl need not wait any longer. She was told of a unique offer by the Principal of the school and will now be able to study about computer from the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) in the same laboratory used by budding engineers of the institute. Institute’s staff will be at the disposal of Jatinder as well as 24 other students from similar underprivileged backgrounds .

This has come about after a unique collaboration between the Helping Hands Society, a voluntary group comprising engineers working in the local Goetze India factory, and the institute. The society identified needy students and the institute will now take over their education under programme, which is the first community service-based programme being taken up by it.

Girls like Chandi Pandey, whose father works in a clothes shop, and Mohit, who does not have a father, have been chosen for the capsule course by the institute on the recommendation of Helping Hands Society, its President, Mr Vijay Gupta, told TNS. Mr Gupta said initially the institute would hold a 10-day capsule course. After the course, students who are deemed fit will be taken up for further courses.

The TIET Director, Dr S.C. Saxena, said the aim was to train students in a way that they are able to get jobs on their own steam. He said the institute also envisaged helping the promising students to get admission in the Union government’s Department of Electronics programme. “That will be our final objective”, he said, adding that teachers of the institute had been asked to get down at the level of the students.

Meanwhile, Mr Gupta disclosed that TIET had also agreed to make most of facilities available for the underprivileged. He said the institute had offered to organise special courses for such children at its industrial workshop. Students taking up these free courses would be able to learn special skills, including carpentry, refrigeration, smithy.

The students chosen for the course would also be gifted bicycles, which have been left behind by students of TIET. Mr Gupta said he found that some students had left their bicycles after passing out of the institute. He said the authorities had agreed to give 25 bicycles lying with them to the underprivileged students after minor repairs. This was a welcome news for students like Chandni, who had to forego a computer course because she did not have a conveyance.

The students are happy at getting the opportunity to study in same laboratories used by students of the institute. “The air-conditioning is very powerful”, said one of the students while the other was taken in by the black colour of modern computers in the laboratory. All of them are looking forward to their stint in the institute, which seems to be a dream come true for them.


JET result declared
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 17
Gaurav Aggarwal of Ludhiana has topped the joint entrance test (JET) held on June 13. The result was declared by the Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training, Chandigarh.

Harpreet Singh, also of Ludhiana, stood second while Saurav Kumar of Chandigarh was third. Mr H. S. Nanda, Secretary of the board, said 16,293 candidates appeared in the test. He said the result was available on the board’s websites, www.punjabteched.com and www.punjabteched.net. 

PMET on July 25
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, June 17
The Pre-medical entrance test (PMET) for admission to MBBS, BDS, BAMS and BHMS courses in government and private medical colleges in the state will be conducted by the Baba Farid University of Medical Sciences, Faridkot, on July 25. This was stated by the Punjab Medical Education Minister, Mr Santokh Singh, here today.

The minister said the state government had issued a notification in this regard. He assured complete transparency in conducting the test.

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