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Wireless scam: Bhatti, Sidhu to be chargesheeted
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Punjab Government’s Home Department has reportedly decided to charge-sheet Additional Director-General of Police (ADGP) D.R. Bhatti in the alleged multi-crore wireless scam. The ADGP is currently posted at Jalandhar.

Though Additional Secretaries in the Home Department R.L. Mehta and Vinod Bhalla were not available for comments despite repeated attempts, the sources in the Police Headquarters revealed that Superintendent of Police Malwinder Singh Sidhu was also being charge-sheeted. He, along with Mr Bhatti, could not be contacted.

The scam was brought to the fore after a petition in public interest was filed before a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court. In their petition, two advocates Ashok Chaudhary and R.K. Kwatra — members of Lawyers’ Initiative — had sought “comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crores” during the purchase of wireless sets.

The two petitioners had alleged that “out of the purchase price of Rs 2.77 crorer, only equipment worth Rs 18.5 lakh was purchased by the respondents without the constitution of a purchase committee” as mandatory under the relevant rules.

They had asserted that the purchases were made “without technical evaluation of the wireless equipment, from a fraudulent company, already blacklisted”. This, they had further asserted, “was endangering not only the national security, but also undermining the integrity of the complete police force”.

During the proceedings of the case before the High Court, a letter reportedly written by Punjab’s Director General of Police was produced before a Division Bench headed by Chief Justice, Mr Justice B.K. Roy. In the letter the DGP had reportedly expressed opinion that the matter may be handed over to an independent agency for inquiry.

Directions were also sought by the petitioners for placing on record the report of an inquiry conducted into the alleged wireless scam by Additional Director General of Police R.K. Gupta — in charge of security. The petitioners had claimed that Mr Gupta had been asked to look into the matter even though he had already submitted his report. The case is scheduled to come up for hearing before the High Court on July 21.


 

I am proud of my stand, says Amarinder
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
"I am not beleaguered or defiant but determined and firm on the stand taken to protect Punjab's right over river waters by abrogating certain water- related agreements", said Chief Minister Amarinder Singh here today.

Appearing confident the Chief Minister said: " I am not repentant on the calculated decision I have taken on river waters to safeguard the livelihood of 16 lakh farming families and to save my state from lapsing back into violence since water is a sensitive and emotive issue".

Most unfortunately, Punjab, which was an aggrieved party, was being branded as the villain of the piece by certain political forces and the national media for protecting the rights of its own people, he added. " All is okay up to the border of Ghaggar river but beyond that certain forces have gone overboard against Punjab", he added.

Justifying the termination of agreements, he said ground realities had changed a lot regarding the availability of water in rivers in the past 23 years. Citing BBMB records, he asserted that water flow had come down to 14.37 MAF from 17.17 MAF in the Ravi and the Beas.

Speaking to the media persons on return from Delhi after meeting the Prime Minister and other Central ministers and leaders, Capt Amarinder Singh ruled out a political solution of the river water tangle. "The lasting solution lay in the legal realms as it had gone beyond the political orbit, he added. "On river waters things have moved far ahead from the political stage. Who would sit across the table to discuss the issue keeping in view the firm positions maintained by all those involved in the dispute", asked Capt Amarinder Singh.

Expressing full faith in the judicial system, Capt Amarinder Singh said that now the only institution left to decide this issue was the Supreme Court. He refused to disclose the content of his discussion with the Prime Minister. "What transpired between me and the Prime Minister, I am not going to tell you", he said replying a volley of question in this regard.

"Neither did I consult the Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh, nor Mrs Sonia Gandhi before passing the Act", he reiterated.

"There was no need to put the PM and Mrs Gandhi into an embarrassing situation by involving them in an inter-state river waters imbroglio", he said. " We have been taking several legal measures to protect our rights on river waters and termination of agreements was one of such steps. Where was the need to tell the Central leadership about it", he said, adding that the state government always worked independently of the Central leadership on such inter-state issues.

"Disinformation has been spread by presenting a wrong picture with regard to the Act passed by Punjab. Whereas the Act actually protected the current usage of water by Rajasthan and Haryana, a wrong impression had been created that Punjab had stopped water to Rajasthan and Haryana. All this stirred up emotions against Punjab in certain other states and at national level", he added.

Dismissing the incidents of stone pelting etc on Punjab buses in Haryana, he said that these were isolated incidents which had no support of the Haryana Government. Asking people of Punjab to maintain calm and peace, he said it was a legal battle for all states to fight and there was no reason to become emotive on the issue.



 

We have Navjot’s support, says CM
Tribune News Service

Navjot Singh SidhuChandigarh, July 16
Though the national leadership of the BJP has taken a stand against Punjab over the river waters issue, its star Member of Parliament, Mr Navjot Singh Sidhu, has taken a pro- Punjab stand.

Revealing this Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said here today that the ace opening batsman of yesteryear, Mr Sidhu, had met him a number of times in the past days to express full support to the state government on the river waters issue. He said that he was happy that the BJP MLAs in Punjab supported the passing of the Punjab Termination of the Agreements Act but at the national level the BJP leadership was playing an anti-Punjab role.


 

Chandumajra backs Capt
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The president of the Shiromani Akali Dal ( Longowal), Mr Prem Singh Chandumajra, today urged the various national political parties and media to give up the anti- Punjab stance adopted by them on the river waters issue.

Supporting Capt Amarinder Singh's decision, which he described as historic and bold, to abrogate the river waters agreements, the Akali leader said Punjab was arm- twisted to sign all river water- related agreements by the Centre from time to time in the past.

He urged the Centre to play a neutral role and not to be influenced by political parties such as the BJP and the vast section of the media, which had launched a well-organised campaign against Punjab on the river waters issue. Warning the BJP and drawing the attention of its national leadership about incidents of stone pelting in Haryana, Mr Chandumajra said that if any agitation started in Punjab because of Haryana- related incidents, the BJP would be responsible for it.


 

Talwandi assails NDA on SYL
Our Correspondent

Jagdev Singh TalwandiLudhiana, July 16
Mr Jagdev Singh Talwandi, former President of the Shiromani Akali Dal, yesterday strongly criticised the statement of Mrs Sushma Swaraj, senior BJP leader, that the NDA would not support the Akali Dal on the issue of SYL canal. Mr Talwandi said the Akali Dal had been extending unconditional support to the BJP for many years and backing it in all agitations against the NDA government. Now when the interests of Punjabis were at stake, the BJP had refused to support the Akali Dal on the vital issue.

Mr Talwandi said interests of Punjabis were supreme to the Akali Dal and it could not betray them at any cost. The Akali Dal would not allow the construction of the SYL canal and not a drop of water would be given at Punjabis cost.

Mr Talwandi also asked Mr Parkash Singh Badal to review his partnership with the NDA under the present circumstances.

Mr Surjan Singh Thekedar, a veteran Akali Dal leader, said the BJP had stabbed Punjabis in the back.


 

Top lawyers to fight Punjab’s case
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
The Punjab Government has engaged top lawyers of the country to defend its case in the Supreme Court. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh said that the legal team would be led by Mr Soli Sorabjee, a top constitutional expert.

Besides him, Mr Harish Salve and Mr A.R. Ganguly would also appear for Punjab in the apex court. “We would be fielding a battery of advocates to defend Punjab’s case”, said the Chief Minister.

On the advice rendered by Mr Sorabjee, Punjab terminated the river water agreements by passing an Act.


 

PRTC stops plying buses on 30 Haryana routes
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The Pepsu Road Transport Corporation (PRTC) has stopped plying its buses on 30 routes in Haryana following apprehensions that its buses may be targeted following Punjab’s decision to scrap water agreements with its neighbouring states.

A PRTC bus was stopped by a mob near Hisar two days ago. It doused the bus with petrol after asking the passengers to come out. However, the bus was saved from being set afire.

Corporation Chairman Ved Prakash Gupta said the corporation had decided to stop buses from going into rural areas in Haryana. He said accordingly all General Managers had been asked to terminate the routes of Haryana-bound buses in Punjab territory itself. These buses were mainly plying on the routes of Jind, Rohtak, Nirwana and Sirsa areas. However, PRTC buses will continue to ply on the Delhi route.

Mr Gupta said the Sangrur and Budhlada depots had been adversely affected by the move as a large number of buses went to various places in Haryana from these depots. He said the corporation was also losing money due to this move. He said the corporation would wait for a few days before restarting its service on various Haryana-bound routes.


 

SYL offices: 1058 workers, no work
Ajay Banerjee
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 16
Even before Punjab annulled the pact for sharing river waters, a silent move was on to prune the staff posted to the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) Canal. The SYL, which has a redundant staff of 1058 regular employees and 650 temporary workers, has four offices in Chandigarh. All offices are located in prime commercial locations in the city.

The employees have no work for the past 15 years or so. The only work they do is to look after salary disbursement, leave charts, annual promotions and other administrative work. Despite the financial crunch faced by Punjab, the employees of SYL have never seen any delay in their salaries. They have been promoted and got increments all these years.

Some time back the Irrigation Department had proposed cutting down on flab. The report said that the staff should be pruned to 300 but it is yet to be implemented.

A visit to the Sector 35-C office of the SYL in Chandigarh yesterday revealed it all. There is no signboard outside, probably a legacy of the days of militancy when engineers of the SYL were shot dead by alleged militants. The office is located on the second floor in what is prime commercial area. On the staircase and also at the entrance there are no signages informing that this is the SYL office.

On the second floor cabins with rotting wood partitions greet the visitor. A photo of Capt Amarinder Singh hangs from a damp wall. Employees are either sitting idle or discussing the latest on the annulment and their own fate. Officially this is the office of Superintending Engineer. However, it is minus the trapping of such a senior officer.

Employees also have no option. One of them told The Tribune: “Even sitting idle is a punishment. We have nothing to do other than talk and go back home.” On the first floor is the office of a private financial company. We ask one of their employees if they knew about the office on the floor above theirs. “Koi sarkari daftar hai pata nahin kaun sa.” (It is some Government office we do not know which one).

Out of the 1058 staff there are five SEs, 10 XENs, 28 SDOs, 20 Head Draftsmen, 80 Draftsmen, 151 Junior Engineers, 58 Junior Draftsmen, 12 Superintendents, 77 Senior Assistants and 205 Junior Assistants-cum-clerks. The SYL also has 11 patwaris, a law officer. This huge army is assisted by 650 employees, who are drivers, chowkidars, supervisors, mechanics, beldars and work masons.


 

PUDA to offer partnership to farmers
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 16
The Punjab Government is going to float a partnership scheme for the farmers whose land is acquired by PUDA. Under the scheme, the farmers whose land is acquired by PUDA for developing a colony, would be given two options —either get the compensation at the rates fixed by the district administration or developed plots in lieu of the land.

Mr Raghunath Sahay Puri, Minister for Housing and Urban Development, gave this information while talking to The Tribune here today. He was here to visit his constituency.

Mr Puri said that as per the calculations of PUDA, about five to six one-kanal plots are carved out in one acre of acquired land. The farmers, who do not want to get compensation for the land, would be given the offer the share the developed plots with PUDA. The farmers would be free to sell the plots of their share on their own.

The formula for the division of the plots between farmers and PUDA is being worked out. It would be based on the development expenses incurred by PUDA.

Responding to a query, the minister said the penalty against those raising illegal colonies in the state was being increased to check violation of the law. Under the present law those violating the PUDA laws were liable to be punished with fine of Rs 10,000 or three years’ imprisonment. The law is being strengthened with both the fine and imprisonment being clubbed.

Mr Puri gave a clean chit to the controversial Janata Colony in Mohali for which PUDA gave permission, ignoring the master plan of the city. He said the issue had been examined and nothing illegal had been found in the sanction given to the colony.

About the conflict of PUDA with many improvement trusts of the state, the minister said that a high-level meeting between PUDA and local government officials would be held soon. A formula was likely to be worked out to draw guidelines for both PUDA and the improvement trusts to work without any conflict.

He said that PUDA would spend Rs 850 crore in the current financial year on acquiring land and developing colonies in Mohali, Khanna, Patiala, Jalandhar, Zirakpur, Amritsar, Sujanpur, Pathankot and Bathinda areas.

In Pathankot a new township was being planned that would cater to the growing urbanisation demands of the area. A special campaign would also be launched to remove encroachments from PUDA land.


 

Mystery shrouds midnight drama
Irate villagers force cops, liquor mafia men to flee
Varinder Walia
Tribune News Service

Sheron Bagga (Beas), July 16
Policemen and musclemen of a wine contractor who allegedly struck terror in this non-descript village of the Mand area had to flee leaving their two vehicles and uniforms (packed in polythene bags) behind when irate mob of two villages gheraoed them last night.

Mystery shrouds the midnight drama, enacted in hostile terrain on the bank of the Ravi late last night, even as residents of Sheron Bagga and Sheron Niggam villages alleged that the raiding party had thrown the bodies of a young woman and a female child into the river after murdering them.

Eyewitnesses who were standing on ‘thikri pehra’ (rotational naka by able bodied youths of villages) alleged that they heard the shrieks of a woman and her daughter.

However, Mr Parmjit Singh Gill, DIG (Border Range), claimed that the raiding party went there on a tip-off that liquor was being smuggled from across the Ravi through Kapurthala and Jalandhar districts on a boat. Mr Gill said he had ordered a high-level probe into the matter. Mr R.P.S. Bajwa, district police chief of Majitha, said departmental action was being taken against the policemen who conducted the raid without taking the local police into confidence.

Sheron Bagga is the last village of Amritsar. It is surrounded by Kapurthala and Gurdaspur districts and the Beas. During the peak of militancy, bodies were thrown into the Beas from this point as it was considered hostile terrain by the police.

Mr Angrej Singh, Mr Kulwinder Singh and Mr Gurvinder Pal Singh, an SGPC member, alleged that the policemen and henchmen of the wine contractor did not stop at the “thikri pehra” when they were signalled to stop at midnight. Instead, they rushed to the bank of the river under mysterious circumstances which aroused suspicion. The youth made an announcement through the public address system of the local gurdwara and, within minutes, a large number of villagers assembled near the river. Both the vehicles were badly damaged and identity cards, log books and uniforms of policemen were seized from the damaged vehicles.

Hundreds of villagers, including women, raised anti-police and anti-government slogans. They forced the police to produce the guilty policemen, including a head constable. The policemen tendered an unconditional apology in presence of the SHO, Beas.

Earlier, the SHO, Mr Gurbhinder Singh, put pressure on the villagers to reach a compromise with the alleged culprits at behest of his seniors. The villagers alleged that instead of taking action, Mr Ashwani Kumar, DSP of Baba Bakala, tried to hush up the matter allegedly to favour the liquor mafia.


 

Residents attack cops
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 16
Hundreds of irked residents of the Jalandhar cantonment area, who were protesting against the arrest of a young resident of the area, allegedly attacked policemen and indulged in hooliganism before blocking traffic at the Rama Mandi chowk for about half an hour this morning.

The police resorted to cane charge to disperse the residents. They had allegedly turned violent during the gherao of the cantonment police station to lodge their protest against the arrest of Surinder Kumar Shooka, alias Bobby. He is a brother of Youth Congress leader Varinder Kumar and they are residents of Mohalla No 30.

The police has identified about 25 miscreants who allegedly attacked the police station, pelted stones and beat some police officials. Six youths have been detained for ascertaining their role in the incident which continued for about two hours despite a heavy downpour in the city.

According to Mr Opinderjit Singh Ghumman, SP (D), Bobby was wanted in a number of cases. As Bobby was taken to the police station from his house, hundreds of residents, mostly youngsters and women, followed him. They allegedly turned violent when the police refused to pay heed to their protest. They allegedly manhandled the munshi and other officials. Mohinder Singh, gunman of SHO Jaswinder Singh, also bore the wrath of the irate mob as the SHO reached the spot alongwith other police officials to control the situation. Harpreet Singh, SHO Division No 6, also suffered some injuries.


 
 

CM promises special package for Punjab
Tribune News Service

Ropar, July 16
Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh today said he would soon take up the matter with Dr Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, to grant special package of economic incentives to Punjab on the pattern of neighbouring states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttranchal and Jammu & Kashmir to boost the prospects of trade and industry in the state.

After inaugurating a new cement plant of the Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd (GACL) here today, Capt Amarinder Singh said Dr Manmohan Singh had assured in the Lok Sabha that Punjab would get a special package he would certainly honour his commitment. The grant of special package to the neighbouring states had not forced the industry to shift to these places because of the availability of a more conducive environment, it has also increased the unemployment problem, he added.

He said no state could sustain its economy without going in for rapid industrialisation which was imperative for the overall development in terms of strong infrastructure base to attract investments in the state which will create economic opportunities for all.

Reiterating his firm commitment for making Punjab a dream destination the Chief Minister said that sincere and all out efforts were being made to attract private investment and to ensure their participation for upgrading the existing infrastructure.

The industrial policy of the state has been hailed as less regulatory, more facilitating and investor-friendly and the unique aspect of this policy was the introduction of self -certification system.

Referring to the empowered committee on mega projects, Capt Amarinder said mega projects having a capital investment of over Rs 100 crore and Rs 25 crore for border areas were eligible for special incentives. The committee had already approved 12 mega projects with a proposed investment. He disclosed that Quark, a multinational IT Company, had already established their IT development Centre at Mohali employing more than 1100 professionals and expansion of its operations were on for creating state-of-the-art industrial Infrastructure in two phases which would generate one lakh job opportunities. Earlier, the CM lauded the management of Gujarat Ambuja Cements Ltd. for setting up of this mega cement plant in a stipulated time period. Prominent amongst others who were present on the occasion included Mr Partap Singh Bajwa, PWD (B&R) Minister and Mr G.S. Bali, Transport Minister.


 

Power tariff hike move: panel invites objections
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission has invited objections to the Annual Revenue Requirements and Tariff Applications filed by the Punjab State Electricity Board for 2004-05 which seeks to raise Rs 392 crore tariff increase.

Board sources said the PSEB had sought revenue requirement of Rs 787 crore for 2004-05. They said the board wanted to raise Rs 392 crore through tariff increase. The board has also accessed an additional revenue requirement of Rs 68 crore for 2003-04 which it wants to be converted into a regulatory asset so that it could be carried forward along with any difference arising after determining the tariff application of 2004-05.

The board has proposed an increase in domestic supply tariff. Earlier, the board charged Rs 2.06 for a unit for up to 100 units of power now it proposes to retain this charge only for 50 units consumption and charge Rs 2.75 per unit from 51 to 100 units. Also tariff is proposed to be raised for the 101 units to 300 unit consumption category from the present Rs 3.44 per unit to Rs 3.75 per unit. Tariff structure for consumption above 300 units is also proposed to be raised from Rs 3.64 per unit to Rs 4 per unit. The power tariff for non-residential lighting is proposed to be raised from Rs 4.17 per unit to Rs 4.25 a unit.

The PSEB also proposes to increase tariff for agricultural tubewells. The tariff without government subsidy is proposed to be raised from Rs 200 per horse power per month to Rs 210 per horse power per month. Tariff for tubewells with government subsidy is proposed to be raised from Rs 57 per horse power per month to Rs 67 per horse power per month.

Small-scale industry is also in for a tariff hike with the board proposing a tariff of Rs 3.50 per unit for small-power industries from the present Rs 3.15 per unit. Medium-scale units are proposed to be charged Rs 3.75 per unit from the present Rs 3.57 per unit.

However, large scale supply consumers are in for a cut in tariff. The Board proposes to charge Rs 3.40 per unit for general industry from the present Rs 3.66 per unit. Similarly, tariff for arc furnaces proposed to be reduced from the present Rs 3.66 per unit to Rs 3.20 per unit. The board also proposes to increase tariff applicable to seasonal industry as well as to ice factories and cold stores in the state.

The Electricity Regulatory Commission while inviting objections to the proposed tariff has stated that as the revised annual revenue applications were filed by the board on May 31, 2004, tariff order was likely to be issued only by September-October, 2004. It said the PSEB had proposed that the tariff might be annualised suitably by the commission to generate the proposed Rs 392 crore in remaining months of the year.

Tariff application’s copies were available in the office of the Chief Engineer, Commercial, PSEB, Patiala and Liaison Officer, PSEB Guest House, House Number 248, Sector 19-A, Chandigarh, besides offices of all Chief Engineers (Operations) in the state. It said objections should be filed in a month with the Secretary of the Regulatory Commission following which hearings will be given by the commission.


 

Cops accused of rape attempt
Tribune News Service

Kotkapura (Faridkot), July 16
A case of alleged police excesses has come to light. Sonu Sharma, a 20-year-old girl and resident of Maharaja Ranjeet Singh Nagar, in a complaint to the DGP, Punjab, and the Punjab State Human Rights Commission, has alleged that eight policemen, including SHO Nachhatar Singh and ASI Sukhdev Singh, tried to rape her 15-year-old sister Rajni in “illegal” custody.

On the other hand, the police said that both sisters were brought to the police station for interrogation in a kidnapping case of a boy named Mandeep, who was kidnapped about three months back.

Sonu has alleged that on the night of July 9 when she and her sister were alone in the house ASI Sukhdev Singh, Head Constable Paramjeet Singh and five other policemen barged into their residence after breaking the door, slapped them and forcibly took them to the police station. Sonu alleged that on their way to the police station the policemen were making vulgar remarks and no woman constable was accompanying them.

She further alleged that they were produced before SHO Nachhatar Singh at the police station and he, without calling any woman constable, got them handcuffed and sent them to jail. “Later these policemen kept abusing and molesting us and threatened to book us in a false case,” she alleged.

Sonu alleged that the policemen tore their clothes and abused them. She said that Mr Nachhatar Singh and Mr Sukhdev Singh tried to rape her minor sister and tore her clothes. They were kept in “illegal” custody for two days and one night without food and water. She added that around 11.30 am on July 10 the policemen, in the presence of various persons, threatened them to book them in a false case if they did not disclose the whereabouts of the missing boy within two days.

Mr Nachhatar Singh said these girls were rounded up on suspicion in kidnapping case of Mandeep Kumar. He said that these girls were having a mobile phone (9814200580) from which the kidnapped boy’s family received ransom and threatening calls. When the police came to know about the same these girls changed their mobile number to 9815775819, he added. The police suspected that these girls were hand in glove with the kidnappers, he said.

The SP (D) and in charge of the investigation team, Mr Baljeet Singh Butar, said that he was yet to talk to the SHO and could not say anything in this connection at the moment.


 

Radical outfits protest against ‘Girlfriend’
Tribune Reporters

Pathankot, July 16
More than 300 activists of the Shiv Sena (Hindustan) led by Mr Ashok Sudan, district president of the sena, demonstrated against the screening of controversial film “Girlfriend” here today.

Mr Sudan alleged that the director and producer of the film were westernising the rich Indian
culture.

He said the sena would not allow the intrusion of western culture into the traditional moral values of the Punjabis.

AMRITSAR: As many as 50 activists of various Hindu organisations, including the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), the Shiv Sena and the Bajrang Dal, were held on Friday when they were protesting against the screening of controversial movie “Girlfriend”.

The arrested include Mr Baldev Bhardwaj, district president, of the Shiv Sena (Bal Thackarey) and Mr Rakesh Madan of the Bajrang Dal.

Mr Ashish Kapur, DSP, Civil Lines, said all the persons had been booked under Sections 107 and 151, IPC, for violating the Section 144, CrPC, imposed by the Deputy Commissioner.

They were produced before the Subdivisional Magistrate, Mr Manpreet Singh, and remanded in the judicial custody till July 27.


 

Truckers block traffic over official lethargy
Tribune News Service

Rampura, July 16
Members of a local Truck Operators Union and Kisan Union today blocked traffic on the Bathinda-Rampura and Rampura-Maur Mandi roads by parking hundreds of vehicles to protest against the callous attitude of the district administration and its alleged involvement in shielding the persons accused of defrauding the union.

To ensure the flow of vehicular traffic on the roads, the local administration diverted the same through link roads. A strong police contingent was deployed on the spots to prevent any untoward incident.

The truck operators alleged that the district administration had failed to conduct the elections for the executive body of the union despite the fact that the Deputy Commissioner, Mr K.A.P. Sinha, had made a promise in that regard. Apart from it, a fraud to the tune of Rs 90 lakh had been committed by those running the affairs of the union.

They further alleged that Mr Gurdev Singh had been imposed as president on the union by a section of bureaucrats and others, claiming closeness to the Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh.

The district administration and the police authorities were not solving their problems and not taking any action against the fraudsters on the “diktats” of close associates of Capt Amarinder Singh, they alleged.

The truck operators pointed out that they would continue the traffic jam till the authorities implemented their demands which included the elections of the executive body of the union, return of money to the truck operators which had been misappropriated by those running the union affairs and registration of criminal case against the accused.

For many months, the district administration and the police authorities had failed to take any action despite the fact that the town had been witnessing frequent clashes among the truck operators and those managing the affairs of the union.

Mr Bhupinder Singh, SDM, said the situation was under control and smooth flow of the traffic had been ensured. He added that talks were going on with the representatives of the agitating truck operators and it was hoped that matter would be resolved by tonight.


 

Jaundice spreading its tentacles in Bathinda
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
Even as the authorities concerned have been claiming that jaundice was under control in the city, it has been spreading its tentacles fast as more and more new cases have been surfacing from the nook and cranny of the town.

The claims of authorities concerned that jaundice was under control as the residents are being supplied chlorinated water, can be judged from the fact that Mr D.K. Tiwari, Commissioner, local Municipal Corporation, has been suffering from it for the past more than one week.

Not only Mr Tiwari, a few of other employees of the Municipal Corporation have been suffering from jaundice. Mr Tiwari and Mr Harbans Lal, Superintendent, MC, who has also been suffering from jaundice, was on leave for the past two weeks.

Dr Yashpal Singla, Civil Surgeon, when contacted, said though he could not give the exact figures of patients suffering from jaundice and getting treatment at the local civil hospital as indoor and outdoor patients, he could say it with certainty that jaundice was fast disappearing from the town.

However, a section of private medical practitioners, who have been running their clinics and hospitals in the town pointed out that there was no decrease in the number of patients suffering from jaundice, who had been reporting to their clinics daily. They added that most of the beds in their hospitals were occupied by the patients suffering from jaundice.

They added that they were not only admitted patients suffering from jaundice but also those suffering from Hepatitis B and C.

Meanwhile, the sale of mineral water has increased as most of the residents have started buying it instead of putting their health at risk by consuming underground water and the water being supplied by the state government agency.

Residents said since the municipal corporation was charging many for supplying potable water, it should also make arrangements for the free treatment of those suffering from jaundice after consuming the same water.

Mr Kamal Kant, Executive Officer, Municipal Corporation, when contacted, said potable water was being supplied to a section of population of this town after it was chlorinated. He added that water supply had also been augmented in some of the localities.


 

Docs reject panel report
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 16
The week-long impasse between municipal corporation employees and doctors of Government Rajindra Hospital today took another turn with the latter rejecting the committee formed to probe the charges of negligence against them amid reports that the committee had submitted an adverse report against them doctors.

However, this could not be confirmed. What has been confirmed is that the committee submitted the report to the Secretary, Medical Education, at Chandigarh today.

The Punjab State Medical and Dental Teachers Association, which is the representative body of medical teachers of the hospital, in a statement here said the committee consisting of the Civil Surgeon, Dr Hardev Singh, SDM Tej Pratap Singh Phoolka and the Assistant Commissioner, municipal corporation, Ms Hargunjit Kaur, was not acceptable to it.

Association president Janak Raj Arora and Secretary B.S. Sohal said earlier a retired Director, Medical Education, Dr Ajmer Singh, was one of the three members of the committee but that his name was withdrawn from the panel following threats.

Following this, the administration had on its own made the Civil Surgeon a member of the committee. The medical teachers said since the Civil Surgeon was from the PCMS cadre, he did not have any knowledge about the functioning of the hospital. The association leaders said any doctor holding an inquiry into the alleged lapses should be above the rank of a Professor in a medical college. They said a retired medical teacher from Patiala or any other senior medical teacher from the PGI or any other institution should be appointed on the committee.

Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh said the Civil Surgeon had been taken on the committee because Dr Ajmer Singh had refused to become a member as he said he was under pressure from both sides. Corporation employees continued with strike today.


 

Cancel FIR against junior engineer: Panel
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
The members of the Diploma Engineers Association, Punjab, today urged the Irrigation Minister, Mr Avtar Henry, to facilitate the cancellation of a false murder case registered against a Junior Engineer, Mr Jagdev Singh Bhatti, at Kotbhai police station of Muktsar district.

Mr Kulwinder Singh, a farmer of Muktsar district had died after falling into the Sirhind feeder canal on July 14. The family members of the deceased and the other farmers alleged that Mr Kulwinder Singh died after he was pushed into the canal by the Irrigation Department officials. Later, they got a case registered against Mr Bhatti.

The representatives of the association of the Abohar-Gidderbaha zone, who met Mr Henry at Lohgarh head works in Muktsar district today pointed out that a false murder case had been registered against Mr Bhatti under the pressure of farmers and a section of politicians despite the fact that Mr Bhatti was carrying out his official duty of checking the theft of canal water on the Sirhind feeder and the farmer Kulwinder Singh, who later died after felling into the canal, was stealing the water at Burji No. 301000 on July 14.

They also pointed out that though Mr Bhatti informed about the incidents pertaining to canal water theft to his superiors through telegrams, he was summoned to Kotbhai police station next morning and booked for murder.

They added that if the state government did not cancel the false case registered against Mr Bhatti, it would be difficult for the Junior Engineers working in the irrigation and drainage departments to carry out their field duties. They added that they would also launch an agitation and for any loss due to that agitation, the Punjab government would be held responsible.

They pointed out that Mr Henry had assured them that matter would be examined and justice would be done in this case.


 

BJP workers’ dharna against power cuts
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
Workers of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha and residents of the city led by Mr Tikshan Sud, MLA, Mr Bhagwant Kishore Gupta, Mr Vijay Sud, BJP leaders and Mr Shiv Sud, Municipal Councillor demonstrated and raised slogans at Shastri Market here yesterday to protest against power cuts by the PSEB and failure of the Punjab Government. They also burnt effigies of the Punjab Government and the Punjab State Electricity Board in protest. Traffic on the Railway road was hit for more than an hour.

Mr Tiskhan Sud and others criticised Mr Amarinder Singh, Chief Minister Punjab for ignoring problems of the people. Meanwhile relay fast by BJP workers, including women and members of the Bhartiya Janata Yuva Morcha entered eighth day yesterday. Ten Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha members led by Mr Satish Sharma, Mr Satish Bawa and Ajay Jain went on relay fast.


 

Akali leader seeks FIR cancellation
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Mr Nirmal Singh Kahlon, former Akali minister, who is on the run after registration of an FIR against him, following firing at a polling station during the SGPC elections in Gurdaspur district, today sought cancellation of a case registered against him along with three other activists of the youth wings of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD).

The Akali minister was booked by the Fatehgarh Churian police (Gurdaspur district).

The high-level drama preceded the press conference . The venue of the press conference convened by Mr Kahlon had to be shifted to another place as he apprehended arrest by the Amritsar police.

Later Mr Kahlon talking to mediapersons alleged that he along with others were implicated in a false case concocted by the Gurdaspur district administration to hide their misdeeds. He alleged that the district administration supported Panthic Morcha candidates in the SGPC elections in Dera Baba Nanak (Gurdaspur).


 

Brick-kiln owners ‘unable’ to use ash
Tribune News Service

Muktsar, July 16
Brick-kiln owners of Muktsar district have expressed inability to follow the notification of Centre wherein the brick-kilns around the 100 km radius of thermal plants have been directed to use 25 per cent ash of thermal plants in the bricks. This was stated in a press note issued here by the general secretary of the Brick-Kiln Association Muktsar district, Mr Devinder Rajdev, here on Wednesday.

The association favoured the resolution passed in this regard by the All-India Bricks and Tiles Federation (AIBTF) at its meeting held here on Wednesday under its president Babu Lal Grover. Brick-kiln owners said no workers’ union was in favour of using ash in bricks. Further, it was not possible to do so without any equipment, which was not provided by the government.


 

Tribune employee bereaved
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Mrs Prabha Devi Sharma (91), mother of Mr Subash Sharma, in charge of the Tribune Sub-Office, Amritsar, died after brief illness at Panjlay village in Nurpur tehsil (Kangra) last evening. She is survived by five sons and one daughter.


 
 

11 get bail in Kanjhla criminal case
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
Mr Jagroop Singh, Sessions Judge, has granted anticipatory bail to 11 residents of Kanjhla village against whom a criminal case was registered by the Dhuri police on June 25 for allegedly making an attack on the police and attacking the house of Amritpal to kill four persons who had been allegedly detained in a room of Amritpal’s house by residents as they were of the view that these four persons were looters.

Those who have been granted anticipatory bail are Bantu, Russi, Satraj, Bittu, Roda Singh, Baldev Singh, Ginder Singh, Kirpal Singh, Giani, Ajaib Singh and Ritha, all residents of Kanjhla village. The police had registered a case against them under Sections 364, 307, 342, 353, 186, 332, 452, 148 and 149 of the IPC and Sections 25/54/59 of the Arms Act.


 

27 accused in bitumen scam get bail

Mohali, July 16
The Special Judge, Ropar, Mr S.K. Goel, yesterday granted bail to 27 accused persons arrested by the Punjab Vigilance Bureau in the Bitumen scam. The accused had filed applications seeking regular bail in the case some days back in the court, which heard the arguments of the defence counsels and public prosecutor during the last hearing and had reserved its orders for yesterday.

The judge ordered them to be released on bail on their furnishing personal bond of Rs 50,000 with surety in the like amount to the satisfaction of Illaqa/Duty Magistrate at Kharar/Ropar and further directed them not to leave the country without court permission of the court. TNS


 
 

Sugarcane growers sore over non-payment of dues
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 16
Even after the lapse of 2 years 1,500-odd sugarcane growers of Fazilka, Jalalabad and Abohar subdivisions have not been paid Rs 8 crore against the sugarcane supplied by them to the local Cooperative Sugar Mill. According to available details during the year 2002-03, 21.47 lakh quintals and in 2003-04 about 13 lakh quintals of sugarcane was crushed in the mill located at Bodiwala Pitha village on the Fazilka-Abohar road, 15 kms from here.

The mill had to pay Rs 100 per quintal to the farmers for the sugarcane purchased by it. However, the mill paid Rs 70 per quintal to the farmers and the remaining Rs 30 per quintal was to be paid as bonus later on.

The mill authorities paid Rs 3 and Rs 4 per Quintal against the sugarcane supplied during the two seasons some days ago. Moreover the balance payment of Rs 23 per quintal amounting to about Rs 8 crore is still outstanding. As a result of this resentment prevails among the farmers.

Mr Davinder Kumar Sachdeva, former president of Kacha Arhtiya Association, Fazilka, in statement issued today had immediately demanded the release of the outstanding payment to farmers. He has also urged the mill authorities to pay the interest on the outstanding amount on the pattern of rice millers who have been paid interest due to delayed payment by the government. Mr Sachdeva has further said that if the farmers are not paid their dues they will move the court.

On the other hand the traditional sugarcane growers who are sore over the indifferent attitude of the government have said they might have to stop growing sugarcane. This is also evident from the fact that the sugarcane crushing of the local cooperative sugar mill has decreased by 8.5 lakh quintals during 2003-04 as compared to 2002-03.


 
 

Drive against intoxicant sellers
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 16
The committee constituted by the district police authorities will carry out an aggressive campaign against those selling intoxicants from chemist shops.

In a press note issued here on Wednesday, Mr Kapil Dev, SSP, said licences of all those, who were running chemist shops would be checked. Those chemists who were suspected to be involved in the sale of intoxicants, would be kept under constant watch.

He pointed out that during the committee meeting held here on Wednesday it had come to notice that a number of medical stores in the rural areas, had been operating without licenses and supplying drugs to people.

He said it had also been found that there was thick growth of marijuana plants in Jassi Bagh wali village of the district and the same were being used for addiction by the people. The SHO had been asked to uproot these plants with the help of village panchayat.

He further said the committee had also come to know that drugs were being supplied to the addicts at their doorsteps from various hospitals. The addicts were also using mobile phones to get the required dose of addiction.


 
CRIME
 

Molestation victims commit suicide
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 16
Two girls of Rode village today committed suicide by consuming some poisonous substance after a few village boys allegedly molested them.

Sources said that last night when these girls were sleeping on the terrace, these boys sneaked in and started molesting them. When the father of one of the girls, who was also sleeping there, got up, the boys fled. He also rebuked both the girls. Angry over the matter, both girls consumed some poisonous substance. These girls were aged 18 and 22.

On getting information, Samalsar SHO Bhola Singh reached the spot, took both the bodies in custody and sent them for post-mortem examination.

The father of the deceased has identified the boys. On the basis of his statements, the police has registered a case against three boys under Sections 306, 452, 354 and 34 of the IPC. All the accused have absconded.


 

Man commits suicide
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 16
Kuldip Kumar Tipu of Hariana town of this district allegedly committed suicide on Wednesday evening.

According to police sources, Kuldip Kumar Tipu, who was residing with his maternal grand-mother, committed suicide by hanging himself with a ceiling fan at his residence.

A suicide note was found in his pocket. He had taken a loan of Rs 7400 on interest at the rate of 1.10 per cent per month from Kaka and his brother Laddi, sons of Teck Chand, alias Teku of Hariana. He returned the money along with the interest. But the money lenders refused to close his loan account and urged him to pay more money. When Tipu refused to pay the money Kaka and his brother threatened him with dire consequences. They forcibly took away some of his household articles. The regular torturing compelled him to commit suicide. The Hariana police has registered a case against both moneylender.


 

Labourers kill farmer
Our Correspondent

Phillaur, July 16
A farmer, Puran Singh, was allegedly beaten to death with iron rods by two migrant labourers, Balli and Bhola of Bihar, at Jajja Khurad village, near here, last night.

A minor quarrel was said to be the cause of murder, the police said. Both accused escaped after committing the crime. The police has registered a case under Sections 302 and 34, IPC. The dead body of the deceased farmer was handed over to the family members of the deceased after a post-mortem examination in the Civil Hospital.


 

Pak intruder electrocuted
Our Correspondent

Amritsar July 16
An unidentified Pakistan intruder was found electrocuted on the barbed wire on the Indo-Pak border early this morning by the BSF.

According to reports, the intruder, aged about 22 years, had probably tried to cross to the Indian side over the barbed wire fence during the heavy rain in the area of Roarawalla Khurd sector, near Attari. However, he was electrocuted as the current was running in the wired fence. Reports stated that the lad was without any clothes other than an underwear and was carrying nothing.


 

Theft bid in UCO Bank
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 16
Thieves struck at the local branch of UCO Bank on Wednesday night, but returned empty-handed as they failed to open the door of the strong room. The police interrogated a gardener of a neighbouring school and a few labourers working there, but failed to get any clue about the thieves.

The incident came to light yesterday morning when the bank manager, Mr Darshan Singh, found a ventilator broken. He said he, along with other employees, inspected the surroundings, he found a wooden ladder near the school wall which might have been used by the thieves to gain access to the bank premises. The thieves had broken the wooden door of the strong room but could not break the metal door.

The police said the school was being whitewashed and suspected the involvement of the labourers working there. A case has been registered.


 

Policeman kidnapped from police station

Ferozepore, July 16
Sadar police station “munshi” Onkar Singh was kidnapped by four car-borne men from inside the police station last night, the police said today.

Two of the kidnappers were in police uniform, Head Constable Resham Singh, on whose statement a case of kidnapping with the intention to kill, was registered under Section 364 of the IPC, it said. — UNI


 

16 hurt in clash
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 16
Sixteen labourers were injured in a group clash this afternoon at the local railway station here.

According to sources, two groups of labourers — one consisting of labourers from the city and another consisting of migrant labourers — clashed over the issue of who was to load foodgrains, in a goods train for the Food Corporation of India (FCI).

They used iron implements to hit each other.

Those injured among the local labourers are Maan Singh, Raj Singh, Pala Singh, Jassa Singh, Rora Singh and Ram Singh.


 
 

Education staff working in unsafe building
Sushil Goyal
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 16
More than 70 officers and employees of the offices of District Education Officer (Secondary), Sangrur, and District Education Officer (Elementary), Sangrur, are facing a threat to their lives as they are working in a building which has been declared unsafe by the Department of Public Works (PWD), Buildings and Roads (B&R).

Both offices are situated in a decades-old building in Magazine Mohalla here. The building was constructed by the then Maharaja of Jind state. For the past several years, the authorities have not bothered to repair or whitewash the building.

According to a letter of the Executive Engineer, Provincial Division, B&R, Sangrur, a committee of the department inspected the building of office of the DEO on January 14. It found that roofs of some rooms were very weak and plaster cakes from the ceilings and walls were falling. Due to the weak roofs of the rooms, ceiling fans had been installed by fixing vertical pipes in the walls. A store and some godowns in the building had already been declared unsafe. Keeping in view the condition and age of the building, it was declared unsafe. Some employees of the office, who met this reporter yesterday, stated their lives were under threat.

They claimed that earlier, a superintendent-rank officer had a narrow escape as the ceiling fan fell on his table and chair minutes after he vacated the seat.

Mr Mahavir Prashad, a state-level leader of the Punjab Education Ministerial Staff Association, told TNS here yesterday that they had approached the administration in 2000, when the new District Administrative Complex was opened, for getting space in the complex.

Though they had been promised space, but it turned out to be false.

He said they now wanted a safe building for their office.

It could be a new one building or a new after demolishing the old one.

Dr Maghar Singh, District Education Officer (Secondary), said a safe building for the district education offices was the need of the hour.


 

Varsity ‘hushing up’ case
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 16
Guru Nanak Dev University allegedly tried to hush up the case of a head examiner for MA (Punjabi), who was accused of tampering with the award sheets to favour students from his college.

The inquiry report of the accused examiner, Mr Hirdejeet Singh Bhogal, was complete nearly a fortnight ago and was supposed to be presented at the Syndicate meeting here today. However, the report was not submitted for action. Dr S.P. Singh, Vice-Chancellor, said the report was not on the agenda of the meeting and so was not taken up.

The inquiry report prepared by a former SP, Mr Apar Singh Bajwa, after The Tribune broke the story, found that the tampering of award sheets in the Sufi poetry paper was done to ensure first position for the examiner’s own college — Baring Union Christian College, Batala. The report found that the accused had increased the marks by 15 to 18 to favour students of his own college, while decreased the marks of students from other colleges by 20 to 25.

Meanwhile, Mr Bhogal accused certain college teachers of hatching a conspiracy against him.


 

2,775 seats filled in CET counselling
Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, July 16
Punjab Technical University has filled nearly 2,775 seats of its 12,510 seats in 43 colleges offering B.Tech in the state during its ongoing counselling being held on the campus for the past more than 20 days.

This was stated by Dr S.K. Salwan, Vice-Chancellor, PTU, at a press conference held here today.

He said that the university had filled 38.54 per cent of the total seats and the rest would soon be filled in the counselling that would continue till August 4.

Dr Salwan said that the one-third seats, falling in the management quota of each college, would be filled at the college level.

He said that many colleges had surrendered such seats as they wanted all their seats to be filled through centralised counselling. The number of management seats left after such a declaration was 3,436, he added. Dr Salwan said that another 15 per cent seats falling in the all-India quota for candidates from outside Punjab would be filled from August 1 on the basis of their performance in All-India Engineering Entrance Examination (AIEEE).


 

10,000 Punjab teachers not paid salaries
Our Correspondent

Fazilka, July 16
About 10,000 teachers and other employees working in 484 government-aided primary, middle, high and senior secondary schools of Punjab have not been paid their salaries for the past six months.

According to available details of these 10,000 employees, 3,000 teachers working in the primary section have not been paid their salaries for the months of April, May and June whereas remaining 7,000 employees working in middle, high and senior secondary schools have not been paid their salaries since January.


 

MA (pol. science) results declared
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 16
The results of MA Political Science (Part I) of Guru Nanak Dev University held in April/May were declared here today. Stating this, Dr R.S. Bawa, Registrar, said the results were available on the university’s website www gnduonline.org.


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