P U N J A B    S T O R I E S



Badal’s comments on ‘martyrs’ draw flak
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) International today came down heavily on Punjab's former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal for describing as traitors "martyrs who died fighting Indian forces during attack on Akal Takht".

Accompanied by families of the "martyrs", members also assembled at the Matka Chowk this afternoon before reaching the former Chief Minister's residence in Sector 8 here.

They raised "pro-khalistan" slogans and pasted a copy of the memorandum on the wall of his house after no one came forward to accept it. The members. led by their President Atinder Pal Singh, also pledged to distribute one lakh pamphlets in villages and towns over the state for creating awareness.

Earlier during the day, the members — addressing a press conference at the Chandigarh Press Club in Sector 27 — asserted that SAD (Badal) had no moral right to contest the forthcoming Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) polls scheduled to be held next month.

Claiming that Mr Badal had described the "martyrs" as "Khalistani traitors and killers of youngsters" during a speech delivered on June 6, the Dal members added that the former Chief Minister had been taking political advantage of their "sacrifices". But now, he was siding with the BJP and the Congress, along with Indian Government's "anti-panth" agencies, to go against the community.

The members added that they were accepting the challenge with the blessings of the Khalsa Panth. They further added that Guru Panth, and Guru Khalsa, would sort out the matter on their own.

Terming Mr Badal as a stooge of the Central Government, they said the former Chief Minister had swayed from the path of Sikhism and would be buried under the burden of his own actions. They also questioned Mr Badal about the definition of SAD and Akalis. "Do Badals, Tohras and Barnalas form Akalis, or the workers who have made sacrifices without expectations?", they asked.


GEC has no constitutional validity: Ravi Inder
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 28
The Gurdwara Election Commission (GEC) has no constitutional validity and former Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal had got it constituted by an amendment in the election rule effected by an Under-Secretary in 2001.

Mr Ravi Inder Singh, president of the New Akali Dal, alleged this while talking to mediapersons here this evening. He was here to campaign in favour of the Panthic Morcha candidate, Mr Kandola.

He alleged that the GEC was acting at the behest of Mr Badal and it was patronising the SAD leaders who were defaulters of the SGPC. The decision and the authority of the returning officers was being challenged by the GEC in gross violation of rules, he said.

The Chief Election Commissioner should remove the present head of the GEC as he was a relative of Mr Badal and was acting in a prejudiced manner, he said.

Mr Badal, who had been accusing the state government of interfering in SGPC affairs, was indulging in political interference by meeting the Prime Minister, he said.

Asked if the Panthic Morcha would legally challenge the decision of the GEC, Mr Ravi Inder Singh said no decision had been taken in this regard yet. However, any person could individually challenge the decision in court, he said.

Earlier, while addressing a gathering, Mr Ravi Inder Singh accused Mr Badal of destroying the ethos of Sikh institutions. The SGPC had been made a family affair by Mr Badal, he alleged. After the death of Gurcharan Singh Tohra, Mr Badal had deserted his followers, he claimed. He urged voters to help the Panthic Morcha free gurdwaras from the stranglehold of the Badal family.


Ruling on countermanding poll for 3 constituencies accepted
Tribune News Service

Tarn Taran, June 28
The returning officers of Tarn Taran, Dhaliwal and Gurdaspur today accepted the decision of the Gurdwara Election Commission regarding countermanding of SGPC elections in the three constituencies and did not allot symbols to the candidates.

With this, only 91 candidates have been left in the fray while Mr Sukhwinder Singh Jhabal has been declared elected unopposed. This was stated by Mr Raminder Singh, Deputy Commissioner-cum-returning officer for Amritsar district.

The countermanding of elections in the three constituencies has minimised the chances of Mr Alwinderpal Singh Pakhoke, Mr Sewa Singh Sekhwah (Gurdaspur) and Mr Sucha Singh Langah, who were aspirants for the post of SGPC chief after the elections. Legal experts said these three SAD leaders could not be coopted for the SGPC’s general house as they had been declared defaulters of the SGPC for not clearing the amounts outstanding against them.

Meanwhile, hundreds of SAD activists led by Mr Pakhoke, working President of the SGPC, today staged a dharna in front of the SDM office in protest against the alleged partisan role being played by the district administration and the state machinery with a view to help the Panthic Morcha candidates for the SGPC elections.

Addressing the protesters, Mr Pakhoke announced that the SAD would not tolerate the highhandedness of the state government and would launch an intensive campaign in the coming days. Mr Pakhoke alleged that the state government wanted to take control of the SGPC management by proxy. He alleged that the Sikh masses would reject the candidates who were contesting the poll at behest of the state government.

Meanwhile, the returning officer gave certificates to both candidates from the Tarn Taran constituency, mentioning the decision of the Gurdwara Election Commission to countermand the elections. Today was the last day for allocation of election symbols.


350 poll officials attend rehearsal
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 28
The first rehearsal of the staff put on poll duty in connection with the forthcoming SGPC elections was conducted under the supervision of the SDM, Mr Sukhvinder Singh Gill, here today.

As many as 350 officials, including 69 presiding officers, attended the rehearsal. They were provided handbooks regarding instructions for the conduct of poll. Sixteen officials were found absent at the rehearsal. They have been issued notices to come and explain in writing on July 1 as to why the rehearsal was not attended by them.


SYL: Punjab to move SC on July 3
Maneesh Chhibber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The Punjab Government is expected to file a review petition in the Supreme Court (SC) on July 3 to get the recent order regarding the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal changed in its favour. The SC had on June 4 asked the Union Government to complete the remaining portion of the canal.

The 30-day limitation for filing review petition on the June 4 order of the Supreme Court ends on June 5.

According to highly-placed sources, the review petition has already been drafted and efforts are on the get top constitutional lawyers of the country to appear before the SC to argue Punjab's case.

While all the contents of the petition could not be ascertained, sources said that the main plea of the Punjab government would be that the Supreme Court could not have passed the June 4 order without disposing of the application filed by the Haryana Government asking the SC to order Punjab to execute its January 15, 2002, order asking Punjab to complete the remaining portion of the canal within one year.

The Punjab Government had filed a number of objections to Haryana's application. These objections, the Punjab Government maintains, have not been dealt with in the SC order.

However, Haryana Advocate- General Ashok Aggarwal asserted that all objections raised by Punjab were considered by the SC while passing the June 4 order. 


Officials sided with violators: MC chief
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 28
Admitting that a large number of unauthorised commercial buildings and housing colonies are being constructed in different parts of the city, the local Municipal Corporation Commissioner, Mr T.R. Sarangal, has said there were clear signals of bureaucrats and politicians encouraging illegal constructions.

Mr Sarangal expressed surprise over the manner in which the Saturday’s demolition drive was ordered to be stopped, following the alleged intervention of Mayor Surinder Mahey. He said a few councillors “actively sided with the violators of the building laws”.

Meanwhile, the Commissioner constituted two teams of MC officials to give practical shape to the proposed removal of unauthorised constructions. The team would work under Additional Commissioner Satwant Singh Johal.

Mr Sarangal, in an order, said it had come to his notice that a large number of unauthorised constructions of commercial buildings and housing colonies were being done in the city. The construction of such structures had witnessed an increase during the parliamentary polls. Criticising some councillors and the Mayor, the Commissioner’s order said, “There is a bureaucrat-politician nexus in such constructions. The way the demolition drive was ordered to be stopped, with a few councillors actively siding with the violators, points towards such a nexus.”

The Commissioner’s order further said there was a wrong impression that such unauthorised constructions would be regularised under the terms of the recent one-time settlement Act. He clarified that the said Act was not operative on account of the stay by the Punjab and Haryana High Court. “I believe that the Building Branch of the MC has failed to dispel this impression about the Settlement Act from the minds of the councillors,” said the Commissioner.

The Commissioner said whenever such campaigns were started in the past the tendency of the MC officials was to take on insignificant encroachments and illegal constructions while the big violators went scot free. The campaign should be started from the posh areas, including markets and hotels. Structures that endanger public life and property should be the priority, the order stated.


Wardens apply for cancellation of Goyal’s bail
Aditi Tandon
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The poaching case against former Pathankot SDM, Mr Puneet Goyal, took another significant turn today with the honorary wildlife wardens of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur seeking the cancellation of his bail.

Taking up the application filed by Wardens Gunraj Singh and S.S Bajwa of Hoshiarpur and Gurdaspur, respectively, Sessions Judge, Hoshiapur, today issued notices to the state of Punjab, Mr Goyal and his two accomplices for July 3.

Mr Goyal, now posted as Administrative Officer, Public Relations, Punjab, is facing charges of having killed the national bird on February 29 in Hoshiarpur. Although he was caught red-handed with the “kill” by Mr Gunraj Singh and Mr Bajwa, he was let off on bail the same day by Duty Magistrate, Hoshiarpur. For record, killing of the national bird, which is enlisted in Schedule I, is a non-bailable offence.

The application for cancellation of bails of Mr Goyal, his former official driver Makhan Singh and his accomplice Bhola comes in the wake of the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order which empowered the petitioners to move a competent court in this regard. Passing the orders on May 29 in Chandigarh, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice of the High Court Mr Justice B.K. Roy and Mr Justice Surya Kant made it clear that the court where any such application is filed by the two petitioners in this poaching case “would be obliged to take immediate, stringent action in accordance with law.”

Making a strong observation with regard to the repeated threatening calls to the two wardens, also petitioners in the case, the HC had further observed, “Having regard to the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case, we observe that if anything happens to any one of the petitioners, the SSP, Hoshiarpur, and the SSP, Gurdaspur, would be squarely responsible for that act.”

Meanwhile, the application which the honorary wildlife wardens have filed seeking cancellation of Goyal’s bail, states that the Duty Magistrate, Hoshiarpur “exhibited undue haste in releasing Goyal on bail, that too at night. “No proper time was given to the public prosecutor to file a reply. The Duty Magistrate ignored the nature and gravity of situation while granting bail to Goyal, who got a chance to tamper with evidence,” states the application, filed under Section 439, sub clause 2 of the CrPC.

The application reconstructs the entire case from February 29 when SDM, Pathankot, Puneet Goyal was caught by the wardens on the charges of killing the national bird and four partridges near Naroor village. He was released on bail the same night, mentions the application, adding, “At the time of deciding the bail plea, Duty Magistrate, Hoshiarpur did not even wait for the report of post-mortem examinations of birds, and he exercised extraordinary powers of bail. From this it is clear that the investigation agency and the state were both interested in Goyal’s release.”

It may be mentioned here that the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehradun, had refuted the claims of Veterinary Hospital, Hoshiarpur, which, in its post-mortem report, stated the birds were already dead before they were placed in Goyal’s jeep. The Wildlife Institute has shown the recovery of irregular metal palettes from the bodies of birds. Further, forensic tests conducted in Chandigarh have stated that the cartridges were fired from the firearm recovered from Mr Goyal.

The case will now come up for hearing at Hoshiarpur on July 3.


3 cops booked for corruption
Chander Parkash
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, June 28
Three policemen have been booked in a criminal case for corruption. The three policemen, identified as Head Constable Labh Singh and Constables Balwinder Singh and Gurmeet Singh, against whom the case was registered today under the Prevention of Corruption Act, were deployed on city patrol duty and were supposed to check all sorts of crime.

The three policemen were placed under suspension and sent to the police lines. A departmental inquiry was initiated against them.

Police sources said instead of checking the crime, the accused started indulging in corruption and used to set criminals, apprehended by them during patrolling duty, free in lieu of money or other considerations. The police authorities had been receiving repeated complaints against them.

The sources added that today, the three accused apprehended a narcotic smuggler, identified as Ravi Pardhan, and found about 8 kg of poppy husk in his possession. Instead of arresting Ravi Pardhan under the NDPS Act, the policemen set him free by taking his wristwatch and some money.

In another instance, the three policemen had apprehended some persons gambling at a cremation ground in the trans-railway colony. Instead of arresting them, the accused had taken Rs 3,000 from them and set them free.

Senior police officials had got information in connection with the actions of these policemen. Some persons, forced to give bribe to them, had complained against them to senior police officials.


A ray of hope for disabled children
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Kartarpur (Jalandhar), June 28
Disabled children of this region have a ray of hope in England-based Avtar Singh Cheema and a few of his associates who are working overtime to set up Dera Harbansgarh Dharmik Vidya Kendra, an institute with the objective of making such children self-reliant by providing them with free training in recitation of “Gurbani” in accordance with Sikh tenets, classical music and herbal medicine cultivation.

Inspired by the life and works of late Harbans Singh Domeli, a disabled Sikh saint who performed “kar sewa” at gurdwaras in Pakistan despite his being handicapped in the late eighties, Mr Cheema has not only donated 1.5 acres of his land but has already arranged and spent about Rs 28 lakh on the ongoing construction of the institution, the first phase of which is likely to be completed by March next year.

Mr Cheema’s dream project is being set up with an objective of diluting intensity of the physical handicap of children by making them self-sufficient. It is being shared by his associates and friends, including Mr Paramjit Singh, Mr Harbhajan Singh Padda, a Kapurthala-based Congress leader, and his wife, who have been putting their efforts to ensure early completion of the project.

In the first phase, about 50 disabled students, in the age group of 10 to 21 years, would be admitted in the institute from March next year and, according to Mr Cheema, the entire education, vocational training and board and lodging facilities to such children would be provided free of cost.

“The construction of ground floor, which includes the administrative block, kitchen and library is almost complete and so is the herbal garden to which we are giving final touches with the help of Dr S.K. Kaushal, a teacher at Himachal Pradesh Krishi Vishwavidyalaya, Palampur. In the herbal garden, plants of medicinal value such as ‘ashwagandha’, ‘koonj harar’, ‘karaunda,’ ’safed moosli’ and ‘satawar’, would be grown. Students would be taught how to grow such plants and they can use this knowledge for earning their livelihood after passing out from here.

The medicines prepared with the help of plants grown here would also be provided free of cost to the institute’s inmates,” said Mr Cheema and Mr Padda. They maintained that disabled children would be made to undergo rigorous training in recitation of “Gurbani” and “music” as per Sikh traditions.

Mr Padda, in charge of the administrative affairs of the institution, said, apart from making contribution from his pocket, Mr Cheema, who was planning to dedicate the entire yield from his 17-acre farm in the nearby Cheema village to the institution, was also planning to seek financial assistance from his NRI friends and relatives, who have assured him their full support.

“The residential facility to the disabled children would be provided at the first floor of the building which is being constructed,” said Mr Padda, adding that his wife would also serve the disabled children at the institute.


Committee expresses inability to pay rent to civic body
Our Correspondent

Kharar, June 28
The local office of the Market Committee has expressed its inability to pay rent to the Municipal Council for using the land of the civic body for holding Apni Mandi in the town once a week. This issue will be discussed at the monthly meeting of the council to be held tomorrow.

The council had asked the officials of the Market Committee to pay rent for the land that was being used by it for holding the mandi as was being done in Mohali.

In a letter to the council written on June 11, the office of the Market Committee said that Apni Mandi was held in Dasehra Ground every Saturday. The income to the committee was inadequate otherwise the mandi could have been held more often. The committee was even unable to recover the expenses of the employees put on duty and the services provided to residents. The mandi was being run only for the convenience of farmers and residents. The committee gave some figures of the income earned by it in past months. In January it had earned an income of Rs 1210 and in February Rs 1130. In March the income was Rs 1540 while in April it was Rs 1270.

The council will also be discussing a proposal of selling 4 kanal, 2 marlas of its land in Mundi Kharar as colonies were being carved out in the area by colonizers. If the land was sold, the civic body would gain financially. According to another proposal, the civic body wants to sell another piece of land measuring 14 kanals in Mundi Kharar as it fell near a choe.

The house will discuss the issue as to what use can the land, measuring more than 5 acres, which was recently got retrieved from illegal possession, be put to.

An estimate of Rs 5 lakh for laying water supply pipes in different parts of the town will be put up before the House. Another estimate of Rs 5 lakh for laying sewer pipes will also be discussed at the meeting. 


Punjab delegation meets Power Minister today
Tribune News Service

Ropar, June 28
A delegation of the Punjab Congress led by PPCC President H.S. Hanspal will meet the Union Power Minister regarding the demands of the state. The delegation will also take up the demands of Punjab workers with the BBMB with the minister.

Mr K.P.S. Rana, MLA from Nangal and the Chairman of the Punjab Pollution Control Board, who is also a part of the delegation, gave this information while talking to mediapersons here today. He said the delegation would leave today to meet the minister tomorrow.

Mr Rana said the BBMB workers at Nangal had been demanding Bhakra compensatory allowance on a par with the board workers at Talwara. The demand of giving 7.5 per cent allowance had been principally agreed to by the Union Power Minister and the announcement was likely to be made on the golden jubilee celebration of the Nangal hydel canal, scheduled for July 8.

The control of the Punjab Government over the BBMB had reduced though it had a major share in the organisation. The post of Chief Engineer Irrigation at Nangal was generally filled from Punjab cadre officers. Now the post had been given to a Rajasthan cadre officer and a Punjab cadre officer had been given an insignificant post at Talwara.

Punjab cadre officers earlier held important posts like the Secretary of the board. The BBMB was not taking in the employees from Ranjit Sagar or other projects in Punjab. The officers of the board were filling posts on their own.

An inquiry should be held into the recruitment made into the BBMB over the past few years. The officers at the board office of the BBMB had got their next of kin recruited in the organisation by creating new posts, Mr Rana alleged.

He added that the pending matter of the leased land of the BBMB at Nangal would be taken with the Union Power Minister. The minister would be urged to direct the BBMB to sort out the issues at the earliest.


Punjab Regiment officers get together
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
For members of the Punjab Regiment Officers Association, it was a memorable evening as they converged for a social get- together at the Defence Services Officers Institute here today.

About 40 officers from the association's Chandigarh chapter along with their wives attended the occasion, where the old-timers shared old experiences and brought each other up to date.

Among those who were present were Lieut-Gen R S Dayal, who had been decorated with the Maha Vir Chakra for his role in wresting the strategically important Haji Pir Pass from the Pakistanis during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. Also present was Brig K S Chandpuri, who had been awarded the Maha Vir Chakra during the famous Battle of Laungewala in 1971.

Among the oldies was Brig Kuldip Singh, who at 82, is the oldest member of the local chapter. he had served the British Indian Army after being commissioned into 1/2 Punjab in 1938. Later on he commanded 2 Para and 3 Punjab. his father too had served in 1/2 Punjab.


Bus link between Amritsar, Nankana Sahib sought
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
The Guru Gobind Singh Foundation at a meeting today endorsed the demand of Dr Manohar Singh Gill, MP, for immediately starting a bus link between Amritsar and Nankana Sahib, the birthplace of Guru Nanak, as well as for Amritsar-Lahore bus service for bilateral trade, commerce and tourism between the two Punjabs.

In a statement issued here, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, president of the foundation, said it was very "agonizing and astonishing to note that the Sikh devotees wanting to pay obeisance at Nankana Sahib had to obtain permission from the central government.

The Amritsar-Lahore bus service was also essential as direct trade would also encourage stepping up of trade, commerce and tourism between the two Punjabs which shared common language, culture and life styles.


Open Wagah border for pilgrimage, says Mann
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 28
Mr Simranjit Singh Mann, the president of the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar), said today that the Sikhs wanted the opening of Wagah border for pilgrimage so that they could easily pay their obeisance at Sikh shrines in Pakistan.

Mr Mann said this was the major demand of the Sikhs which was never taken up by the former Chief Minister, Mr Parkash Singh Badal, with the Central Government.

Mr Mann also accused Mr Badal of not taking up other Sikh issues with the Vajpayee-led government. He said these issues included the implementation of Anand Marriage Act and release of those Sikh youths who were languishing in jails for the past about 20 years.

Mr Mann said Mr Badal met the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, on the issue of alleged “interference” of the Congress in the SGPC poll, but he did not meet the Prime Minister for solving the core issues of Punjab and the Panth.


Punjab power board to probe tower damage
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has appointed a three member Committee to investigate the cause of the severe damage caused to two towers on the Rajdharani line from Patran after a cyclonic winds in the area. Both the towers were of 66 KV.

According to Board Member, Distribution H.C. Sood a three member team comprising Chief Engineer, Protection and Maintenance, Chief Engineer, Transmission and Chief Engineer, Operation has been made to go into the reasons for the damage caused to the towers. The towers had been installed only one and a half years back.

Mr Sood said a preliminary investigation had revealed that structural failure was responsible for the bend in the towers. He said the Committee had been asked to associate Structural Engineers of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology (TIET) with the inquiry.

The PSEB official said the foundations of the towers were intact and efforts were being made to raise them up quickly. He said the area was now being fed by 11 KV lines to ensure the farmers did not suffer due to the damage caused to the towers.


Dalits block traffic over power cuts
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 28
Hundreds of Dalits, including women, blocked traffic on the Jalandhar-Jandiala road at Dheena village, near here, for about two hours to protest against the failure of the PSEB to restore 24-hour power supply to the Dalit colony at Dheena village.

The protesters, led by Ms Jagdish Kaur, a former sarpanch of the village, and Mr Somnath, president of the Balmiki Samaj, raised slogans against the state government and the PSEB authorities. Ms Jagdish Kaur alleged that though the colony had been given power supply under a special scheme after depositing the mandatory fee of Rs 10,000 about two months back, the authorities concerned used to impose unannounced cuts, ranging from 8 to 10 hours daily.

She alleged that the PSEB had given power supply to some private colonies from the same distribution transformer, which was meant for their colony. “In fact, extra load has been put up on the transformer, resulting in frequent power failures. Though our colony has been covered under the 24-hour power supply scheme, it rarely happens when power is available for the whole day. The department is more concerned about the interests of private colonisers,” she added.

The police reached the spot and tried to pacify the agitators. Later, the dharna was lifted following an assurance from senior police officials to take up the matter with senior PSEB officials. 


Sidhu against closure of passport collection office
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 28
Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, MP, will raise the issue of declaring Punjab a non-disturbed area in the coming session of Parliament. Addressing a press conference here today he said the state was declared disturbed during the period of militancy.

He said he would also raise the issue of closure of the passport collection office here during the session. The office, which had been running in profit was going to be closed down on June 30 without assigning any plausible reason. It had been rendering great help to residents of the border areas who would now have to go to Jalandhar.


18 get jobs on compassionate grounds
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
As many as 18 dependents of Punjab Government employees, who had died in harness, were given jobs on compassionate grounds by the Animal Husbandry, Fisheries and Dairy Development Minister, Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang, here today.

In addition to these, 10 class IV employees were given posting orders by Deputy Directors in different districts after the ban on recruitment was lifted.


Youth wins Rs 2 cr in TV contest
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, June 28
A teenager from Rupaiyawalla village, 23 km from here, has hit the jackpot in Zee TV’s ‘Playwin’ and has won Rs 2.03 crore.

Lakhwinder Singh Sandhu bought the Lotto ticket on June 19 for the first time. Asked as to what he would do with the prize money, Lakhwinder said a part of it would be spent on religious works.


Sangrur admn gears up for floods
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, June 28
The district administration has geared up to tackle floods or flood-like situation during the ensuing monsoon. Various flood-control measures have been initiated in Moonak and Khanauri, the most flood-prone areas.

There are 26 flood-prone villages in the Moonak subdivision which include Moonak, Makror Sahib, Kanauri Kalan, Hotipur, Nawan Gaon, Surjan Bhaini, Hamirgarh, Banarsi, Andana, Mandvi, Kudni and Wazidpur. Almost every year these villages face floods in the Ghaggar, passing through Patiala and Sangrur districts.

Mr Sarvjit Singh, Deputy Commissioner, said these villages had been divided into eight sectors as part of flood-protection measures. He said the Assistant Commissioner (General), Mr Pushpinder Singh Kailay, would look after the flood-control works at the district level. The flood-control rooms would start functioning from July 1 at the district headquarters and the subdivisional headquarters.

The Deputy Commissioner has also directed the officers related to flood protection works not to leave the station headquarters during the flood season. Besides, they would also ensure the attendenance of their staff.

The district administration has also chalked out a plan to prepare the lists of boatmen and divers. The Civil Surgeon here has also been directed to form medical teams and store the needed medicines beforehand. The District Food and Supply Controller, district managers of Punsup and Markfed have also been directed to store the foodgrains and other eatables needed in the event of emergency. The Deputy Director (Animal Husbandry) has been asked to store fodder and medicines.

The Executive Engineer (Drainage) has been ordered to get the drains cleaned before the rains. Besides the officers of the PWD and the PSEB have been directed to be ready to face any flood-like situation.


Three sanitary inspectors suspended
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 28
Three sanitary inspectors of Ferozepur, Jagaron and Kharar Municipal Councils have been placed under suspension. Departmental proceedings had also been initiated against Executive Officers for their "laxity" during the recent outbreak of diarrhoea cases in the state.

This is not all. Punjab's Local Government Department has launched "operation clean up" in the urban areas of the state for preventing and controlling the outbreak of diarrhoea and gastroenteritis cases. The operation has been launched under the supervision of Local Government's Principal Secretary A.K. Dubey and Minister Jagjit Singh.

As part of the operation, the department has also asked the Commissioners of Municipal Corporations and other authorities to take necessary action against the "violators of water supply and sewerage system in the urban areas".

According to department authorities, "unauthorised, unskilled and unqualified plumbers were granting illegal connections". In the process, they were damaging the main water supply and sewerage lines.

Giving details, they added that illegal connections were not only causing revenue loss to the urban local bodies, but were also posing serious threat as far as outbreak of infections and water borne diseases was concerned.

Director of Local Government R.L. Kalsia added that penal action against the violators would help in discouraging the violators and checking the outbreak of the diseases in the future.

He added that preventive and remedial measures like adequate chlorination of drinking water, cleanliness of public toilets and covering of garbage containers, besides supply of water through tankers where drinking water samples have failed, had also been undertaken.


Burglary at PSB branch
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 28
Unidentified burglars struck at the local branch of Punjab and Sind Bank (PSB) and decamped with the belongings of four lockers. The incident came to light when a safaikaramchari, Ramesh Kumar, opened the branch office today and found the back wall broken. However, the police was not sure whether the burglary was committed on Saturday night or Sunday night.

There were 165 lockers in the strong room, said bank officials. However, the burglars could gain access to only four lockers.

The bank has called the parties to whom those lockers belonged to assess the damage caused to them. However, the bank suffered no loss in the burglary as the Rs 16 lakh cash kept in the strong room was safe.

Top police officials, including the DIG (Ferozepore range), SSP M.S. Chhina and the Superintendent of Police visited the branch.

DSP (city) Jatinder Singh said it seemed to be the handiwork of someone who was acquainted with the bank and the way it was executed showed four to five persons might be involved in it. A case has been registered in this regard.


2 held for smuggling liquor
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 28
Two persons who were using a ‘kar sewa’ jeep to smuggle liquor were arrested early today morning along with 15 cartons of liquor.

The accused had stolen the jeep which belonged to the dera of Sant Baba Gurmukh Singh of Anandpur Sahib about one month back. According to police sources, the accused were arrested during surprise checking of their vehicle at 2.30 a.m. today at the Purani Chungi at Rajpura, 25 km from here.

The accused have been identified as Dharminder Singh Bhinda of Guru Nanak Nagar and Dalip Kumar of Urban Estate, Phase II.


Woman, two daughters commit suicide
Our Correspondent and UNI

Phagwara, June 28
Three suicide cases have been reported in the past 24 hours in the Doaba region of Punjab. A 24-year-old migrant woman, Anita Devi, jumped in front of a train along with her daughters Priya, aged two, and Priyanka, aged four, today morning on the outskirts of Phagwara. The bodies were brought for postmortem examination to the local Civil Hospital.

Anita Devi was the wife of a vegetable vendor. Her husband Rajesh Kumar told mediapersons that early this morning, he had gone to buy vegetables, leaving his wife and two daughters at home. However, when he returned, he found them missing. Later, their mangled bodies were found on the railway track.

Rajesh Kumar claimed there was no dispute at home to warrant such an extreme step. In another incident, a judicial clerk, Manish Sahai, posted at Sultanpur Lodhi, allegedly committed suicide by jumping in front of a train near Kapurthala railway station yesterday. Job-related depression is said to be the cause of suicide.

In the third incident, a 35-year-old woman, Rama Rani, reportedly committed suicide by setting herself on fire at her residence in Guru Nanak Pura here last night. Rama Rani was admitted to the Civil Hospital with 80 per cent burns, where she succumbed to her burn injuries. Mental tension was said to be the cause of suicide. The woman’s body was handed over to her family members after the postmortem examination.


BJP leader’s ex-PA remanded
Our Correspondent

Phagwara, June 28
Sodhi Ram, a former personal assistant (PA) of former Punjab minister and senior BJP leader Swarna Ram, who was arrested yesterday on charges of defrauding the local branch of UCO Bank of millions by depositing a fake draft of 2.5 lakh pounds (Rs 2.07 crore) and withdrawing Rs 1,07,60,000 this month, was remanded in police custody till July 1 today. He had got this draft from a British bank. He was arrested under Sections 420, 466,467, 468 and 471 of the IPC for forgery and fraud.

Sodhi Ram deposited a demand draft at the local UCO Bank branch issued by Natwest Bank in his savings account on June 11. It was sent for collection to the branch office at Chennai. Mr Sodhi withdrew Rs 32 lakh on June 18, Rs 25 lakh on June 21 and Rs 50,60,000 on June 24.

On June 25, the manager of the local branch got a telephonic and fax message from Chennai about the draft being fake. The manager informed police, which arrested Sodhi Ram and recovered Rs 46,96,000 from him, which he had distributed among 20 persons.


Case against JE opposed
Tribune News Service

Moga, June 28
The Council of Junior Engineers has expressed surprise over a case registered against Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Junior Engineer Jarnail Singh for in an incident in which two persons were killed when a transformer got burnt at Akalsar Chowk here.

At a meeting held here yesterday, the council alleged that the incident was being given “criminal hue” under police and political pressure as one of the victims, who owned a shop close to the transformer, was son of a police constable. The council said the transformer was installed in 1974, whereas the victim’s shop came up in 1984 and its door was just beneath the transformer, which was against the rules of the electricity board.

The victim had kept inflammable substances like spirit and paint in his shop, which spread the fire, it added. The council said none of the PSEB employees was responsible for the incident as the victim had been told a number of times not to keep inflammable substances near transformer.

The council said various shops were running close to transformers in different parts of the city, but the administration had not taken any action against the shopkeepers.

The council said Jarnail Singh was being made a scapegoat. The council has demanded the cancellation of FIR lodged against the Junior Engineer.


Probe ordered into death of jail inmate
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, June 28
The district magistrate has ordered a magisterial inquiry into the death of an inmate of Central Jail here under mysterious circumstances on the jail premises last night. A panel of three doctors will conduct the postmortem examination.

The deceased, identified as Sucha Singh (35) of Mahilpur in Hoshiarpur district, had been arrested by the Phillaur police for smuggling of poppy husk. A court remanded the accused into judicial custody on June 4. According to sources, Sucha Singh died under mysterious circumstances in barrack 11.

The jail authorities maintained that Sucha Singh died on way to the hospital following complaint of pain in his heart. The mother of the deceased, Ms Satto, maintained that her son was physically fit when she met him last Wednesday and there was no question of his son suffering from any heart ailment. 


Gang of vehicle thieves busted
Our Correspondent

Dera Bassi, June 28
The police claims to have busted a gang of vehicle thieves active in this part of the region after nabbing Nafees Khan, a member of the gang, from the Bawn locality in Uttar Pradesh.

A Qualis that the thief had taken away from a Khanna-based trader after drugging him on June 2 has also been recovered from him.

The police claimed that the gang had been active in the part of the region for the past over five years and had stolen a number of vehicles. Some employees of the RTA office, Shahjahanpur, had also been involved in the racket.


Badungar: retain changes in NCERT books
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
Senior Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) leader and former Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) president Kirpal Singh Badungar today said the changes effected in NCERT books with regard to sikh subjects during NDA rule should be retained.

The SAD leader said the SGPC had been successful in getting relevant changes made in NCERT books after taking up the matter at the highest level. He said following these attempts, Sikh issues had been presented in the right perspective in NCERT books. He said it was unfortunate that the present government was set to waste the effort.

Mr Badungar said a three-member committee constituted by the Union Human Resource Development Ministry had recently issued a statement, saying unless it did not take a final decision, NCERT books should revert to the form as prevalent before the NDA government came into power. He said this would harm the interests of the Sikhs because unsavoury references which had been deleted after great efforts would make a reentry.

The Akali leader said the SGPC, which was the premier institution of the Sikhs, should be associated with the current process, whereby the committee was discussing the various insertions which had been made during the NDA regime.


PTU students hold rally
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, June 28
Demanding a time of four and a half years to complete their degrees, BBA and BCA students from several affiliated colleges of Punjab Technical University (PTU) took out a rally and presented a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner here today.

The students of the three batches that began in 2000, 2001 and 2002, who had to reappear in various exams and had failed in two chances, have been demanding a mercy chance from the university authorities.

The PTU had, however, refused to give them the chance, following which they started protesting against the authorities.

The students have been sitting in dharna on the PTU campus for the past five days but they said their repeated demands were not been heard by the university authorities, forcing them to take out rallies. Addressing today’s rally, Gurcharan Singh Grewal, president, Sikh Students Federation, said the university authorities should have gone by the rules that they had formulated at the beginning of this session. He said by changing in the rules in the middle of the course, they were being unjust with the students.

In the memorandum, the students said though the Punjab and Haryana High Court had rejected their plea, it had not curtailed the rights of the Board of Governors (BoG) to frame new rules or amend older ones.

The students demanded that they should be allowed to get more chances to clear their exams.

On the other hand, Dr M.S. Grewal, Registrar, PTU, maintained that the university could not accommodate such students as per the new rules.


Medical entrance test for Sikhs put off
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, June 28
The all-India medical entrance test for Sikh candidates, scheduled for June 30, has been postponed. Registrar, Examination, of the Association of Unaided Sikh Minority Medical and Dental Institutions of Punjab, stated in a press note issued here today that the fresh date of the test would be notified later.

The SGPC-run medical and dental colleges had been at loggerheads with the state government as the latter had debarred them for holding their own entrance test for the selection of Sikh students to be admitted to their minority institutions. The managing committee of the Guru Ram Das Medical Colleges had been invited by the Justice G. R. Majithia Committee, which had been set up to monitor the admission procedures, to hear their petition for holding separate entrance tests. In view of this development, local SGPC medical colleges had decided to defer the entrance test for Sikh candidates.


University Diary
D. Litt to Sonia smacks of sycophancy, say intellectuals
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Patiala, June 28
Though it was it was the spat between Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai and Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh which hogged the limelight this week, there was almost no discussion on the institution’s Syndicate’s decision to award Congress President Sonia Gandhi the degree of D Litt (honoris causa).

Mrs Gandhi’s way to the D Litt degree has been one of the easiest as far as this institution is concerned. Her candidature was announced immediately after the formation of the UPA government. The “sacrifice” made by Mrs Gandhi in renouncing the prime ministership in favour of Dr Manmohan Singh was touted as the single-most important fact that had rendered her fit for the award of the degree.

Even after the Syndicate meeting, the university could not rise above mouthing the same platitudes while justifying the award of the degree to her.

Surprisingly, according to insiders, there was no discussion on the matter even during the Syndicate meeting. The meeting was very short as no one tried to initiate any discussion on the subject. It was felt there was no need to discuss the issue as government nominees who attended the meeting were all Congress leaders, including Deputy Speaker Bir Devinder Singh, minister Jasjit Singh Randhawa and Mr Surinder Singla.

Intellectuals say the decision smacks of sycophancy and could have been avoided. According to university teachers, the institution is known to honour prominent men of letters and that this decision has opened the door of more such future honours, which cannot be justified on merit.

Astronomical fee

Another issue which is being debated is whether the university is an institution of profit. This accusation is being made on the basis of recent fee charged from students competing for the state-level combined entrance tests for MBA, MCA and LLB. The university is going the way of Punjab Technical University (PTU), which had started the trend of charging astronomical fee for conduct of tests and counselling for various technical courses. This time around, it is not the university’s fault because the government has notified the fee structure to be charged. The university is forced to do so to raise money in view of the severe financial crunch because the grant for the universities in the state has come down to just 40 per cent of the total expenditure. This means students applying for MBA and MCA are being made to pay a counselling fee of Rs 10,000 and those applying for LLB a first counselling fee of Rs 2,500 and a second counselling fee of Rs 1,500. Student unions in the institution have already threatened to launch a protest and things could hot up on this issue.

Students suggest remedies

The only silver lining this week has been a special camp conducted by the university at its regional centre at Talwandi Sabo. Students of the Psychology Department of the institution, including those who are studying a recently introduced course in counselling psychology, interacted with people of the area to understand their problems and suggest remedies. Problems included frustration at not finding jobs for children despite providing them expensive education and social problems of people living around the regional centre. The university plans to hold more such interactions.


Computer essential teaching aid, feel experts
Our Correspondent

Patiala, June 28
Punjabi University may have backtracked on its proposal to introduce Computer Application as a compulsory subject at graduate level following protests and intervention from the Chief Minister’s Office, but the institution’s Vice-Chancellor still feels computer education should be introduced as a compulsory subject as it is the need of the hour.

Vice-Chancellor Swarn Singh Boparai made remarks in this context during the inauguration of a five-day workshop on Computer Laboratory Training at the Department of Physics in the university.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr Boparai said Computer Application should be introduced as a compulsory subject as it was a prerequisite for every job. “One cannot ignore computers if young boys and girls of this region want to compete with their counterparts in other parts of the country,” he added. He said the university had already taken a lead by establishing an engineering college at Talwandi Sabo for rural youth of the state who were talented but neglected due to their socio-economic condition. He also appreciated the efforts of the Department of Physics for taking steps to improve the teaching of the subject by incorporating computer-based experimentation as a compulsory content of syllabi.

Prof R.C. Verma, Head and Coordinator, welcomed the chief guest and delegates. He said a proper exposure coupled with intense lab activity would be provided during the five days of the workshop. Following UGC recommendations, Fortran-based compulsory syllabus was introduced at postgraduate and undergraduate levels.

He said the workshop had been introduced to train participants from different colleges and universities of the country.

The Dean, Academic Affairs, Prof S.P.Singh Virdi, said computer could never replace the role of the teacher in the classroom but it was an excellent tool to supplement him.

Prof P.K. Ahluwalia, Director, UIIT, Shimla, explained the significance of physics and learning. He further said training in computer should be such that it invokes reasoning in the mind of students.

Prof U.S. Kushwaha, former general secretary of the Indian Association of Physics Teachers (IAPT), hoped that such workshops would be conducted in the future in other universities also.

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