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Water issue raised in Rajasthan HC, Punjab unperturbed
Maneesh Chhibber
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
The first legal challenge to the Punjab Termination of Agreements Bill 2004, which annuls the 1981 Indira Gandhi award and subsequent agreements relating to distribution of Ravi-Beas waters among Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan, has been mounted.

A case had been filed by a 72-year-old farmer of Jaipur in Rajasthan seeking directions so that the share of residents of Rajasthan in river waters can be safeguarded through strict compliance of the Punjab Re-organisation Act 1966.

When asked about the latest development, Punjab Advocate General Harbhagwan Singh told The Tribune that the Punjab Government was committed to protect the interests of its people. "This includes fighting all legal battles in the matter. As for this case, we are going to hire a senior lawyer to argue on our behalf. I may also represent Punjab," he added.

Petitioner D.M. Singhvi has stated before the Rajasthan High Court (Jaipur Bench) that the Punjab Government has not been allowing the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) to operate the headworks at Ropar, Harike and Ferozepore with the sole purpose of preventing water from flowing into Rajasthan.

The High Court has issued notice to the Punjab Government, the Union Government and others in the matter.

Incidentally, the petitioner is a retired Chief Engineer of the Irrigation Department, Rajasthan.

Mr Singhvi has also stated that successive agreements between the states of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan etc, allocated different quantities of Ravi-Beas waters to these states. The last agreement that fixed distribution of the surplus water of Ravi-Beas was inked on December 31, 1981, which allocated 8.60 MAF out of the total of 17.17 MAF surplus waters to Rajasthan.

He has said that thousands of farmers in parts of Rajasthan have been getting water through the Gang Canal and Indira Gandhi Canal.

But, after the passage of the Punjab Termination of Agreements Bill 2004 unanimously by the Punjab Assembly, the future of all agreements has been put at stake.

He has said that among the functions of the BBMB are to regulate supply of water from the Ravi and the Beas to the states of Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan. Mr Singhvi has claimed that the Punjab Government has been interfering in the functioning of the BBMB, leading to fears that the supply of the allocated water may be stopped.

He has prayed that the control of all headworks and Bhakra Dam Reservoir should be vested fully in the BBMB so that adequate water can be released to facilitate sowing of crops in Rajasthan.


 

PPCC not briefed on waters Act: Hanspal
Our Correspondent

Jalandhar, July 21
While admitting that state government did not take Punjab Pardesh Congress Committee (PPCC) into confidence before presenting the Punjab Termination of Agreements Bill in the Punjab Assembly, State Congress Chief Mr H.S. Hanspal today justified the assembly’s decision on the bill saying the action was constitutional.

“The state government did not take the PPCC into confidence on the issue of PTA Act, perhaps due to time constraint, but since the water is a state subject, the state government has every right to deal with the issue by keeping in mind the interest of state farmers,” Mr Hanspal told reporters.

Asked about the attitude of the party’s national leadership towards the issue, he said, “It seems that national leadership is not happy over the inactment of PTA and the projection in the media that Punjab was trying to obstruct the construction of SYL canal was responsible for the same.”

Demanding the formation of a new tribunal to assess the current availability of the water in the state, Mr Hanspal said since Eradi Commission worked on the basis of measurement taken in 1960, it carries no relevance now because the availability of water has declined steeply over the last 40 years.


 

Protest by transport workers
Our Correspondent

Amritsar, July 21
Hundreds of members of various transport unions held a protest march from Patakha Market to the Deputy Commissioner’s office here today against the High Court’s decision to debar more than 15-year-old vehicles.

The rally started at 10 am and concluded in the noon. During the rally the traffic came to a halt and commuters faced a lot of problems. Traffic at Bhandari Bridge and near DC office remained suspended for hours.

Mr Harinder Sharma, state president of the Mini Bus Operators Union, said the decision would leave nearly 1,33,000 vehicles in the state useless. He said that around 7.50 lakh families would be affected by the decision.

He alleged that the government had not informed the vehicle owners in time. The decision was passed on March 5 and they were told on July 15. It was almost impossible for them to make alternative arrangements in such a short period, he added.

The union president said that they had submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner in which they had demanded five years to conform to the HC’s decision.


 

In the absence of Lok Pal, VB pro-active
P.P.S. Gill
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
While Punjab has not had a Lok Pal in place since December, 2002, the state’s Vigilance Bureau has been pro-active having initiated investigation into 13,000 complaints in the past 18 months. This arrangement, perhaps, suits the political executive, as probing into the wrong doings by the ministers becomes moribund.

Punjab has neither the Right to Information Act nor Transparency in Tenders and Procurement Act, which too could have contributed to government efforts to check corruption and minimise influence of ‘’special interest groups and lobbies’’ that have managed and manipulated to either stall or rollback reforms not to their interest, though of interest to the state.

Not only the anti-corruption drive of the state went haywire but governance too was effected with the deceleration of administrative reforms that required rationalisation and re-structuring of departments for better policy-making and delivery of services, social and economic at the ground zero level.

Though, registration of over 1,000 corruption cases in the first 18 months by the Vigilance was no mere flash in the pan, several of its actions, since it is part of the government, were viewed as politically motivated and biased. (There are reports how Vigilance either withdrew its hand or acted smug on some of the ‘’inconvenient’’ cases.) It is a different story that because of Vigilance Capt. Amarinder Singh found out that a large percentage of teachers and doctors remained absent from duty.

These observations are part of the suggestions by the World Bank in its ‘Punjab Development Report’, when it comments on ‘’Improving governance and service delivery”. In fact, in December last, World Bank had submitted to the state a six-point paper, “Accelerating the Reforms Process in Punjab: Possible Action”. A perusal of the report reveals that there has been little or no follow up on these points, including administrative reforms. The other five points pertained to ‘’correcting fiscal balance, improving budget, financial management, power sector, growth and investment and gender equity”.

Taking a holistic view of the “action taken” by the state, the report has expressed its displeasure while pointing out grey or soft areas or making references to various aspects of governance — political, administrative, social and economic.

Lok Pal, it may be recalled, has had a chequered history, since 1995, when the Punjab Lok Pal Act was enacted. The main controversy that surrounded it was, whether it should be single or multi-member institution. The ombudsman is to probe corruption charges against elected representatives, including ministers and chairperson of public sector undertakings. Past experience showed that Lok Pal was dependent upon state machinery, Vigilance. It could not act suo-motu.

The report also suggests having an additional Chief Secretary to coordinate working of general administration and need for enhanced transparency in recruitment, posting and transfer policies and neatness in calling tenders and procurement.

Since bureaucracy is top-heavy, where seniority, service jealousies and ego go together, what to do with those who are now administrative secretaries and may not remain when administrative reconstruction is finally done?


 

Iqbal Singh to attend meeting
Tribune News Service

Amritsar, July 21
Jathedar of Akal Takht Giani Joginder Singh Vedanti and Jathedar of Takht Patna Sahib Giani Iqbal Singh are heading towards reconciliation as the latter has decided to attend the meeting of the Sikh clergy, proposed to be held on July 23 at the Akal Takht secretariat.

The relationship between the Jathedars got strained when the Sikh clergy of Patna Sahib had summoned Giani Gurdit Singh, SGPC’s Dharam Prachar Committee member and author of controversial book ‘Mundavani’, to the Takht Patna Sahib along with Jathedar Vedanti and another Sikh scholar Giani Mohan Singh. The development was considered as unprecedented in the Sikh history and the Jathedar of Akal Takht had never been asked by another Takht to appear before the Sikh clergy. The initiative to bury the hatchet was taken by Jathedar Vedanti who had sent invitation to the Jathedars of Patna Sahib and Hazoor Sahib for attending the proposed meeting.

Talking to TNS, Jathedar Vedanti said the proposed meeting of the Sikh clergy would primarily discuss the proposed Sikh centenaries, which fall this year.

Meanwhile, Mr Parlahad Singh Chandok, president of the DSGMC, has decided to appear before Akal Takht on July 25 — the deadline fixed by the Sikh high priest. He was summoned to Akal Takht to explain the circumstances under which he had honoured Mr Jagdish Tytler, the Union Minister, with a siropa (robe of honor) despite the fact that he was indicted by many organisations for his alleged role in the anti-Sikh riots of 1984. Interestingly Giani Iqbal Singh, Jathedar of Patna Sahib, today inaugurated the information centre at Gurdwara Sis Ganj, New Delhi, in presence of Mr Chandok, three days before his appearance at Akal Takht, which raised many eyebrows in the Panthic circles.

The information centre has been opened to facilitate the devotees to get complete information about Takht Patna Sahib and its adjoining gurdwaras. The Panthic circles say that the dedication of the information centre to Patna Sahib was an attempt by Mr Chandok to woo Jathedar Iqbal Singh, who would be attending the meeting of Sikh high priests, which would discuss his (Chandok’s) case. Earlier, Jathedar Vedanti had received flak for meeting Mr Chandok in New Delhi at the residence of Giani Ranjit Singh, Head Granthi, Gurdwara Sis Ganj Sahib.


 

Bhattal got me suspended, alleges BDPO
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
The High Court has issued notice to the State of Punjab and other respondents, including Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Rajinder Kaur Bhattal, on a petition filed by Mr Paramjit Singh, Block Development and Panchayat Officer (BDPO). He is under suspension now.

In his petition, Mr Singh alleged mala fide on the part of the Punjab Government, particularly Mrs Bhattal, who held the portfolios of Rural Development and Panchayats, in first repeatedly transferring him and then suspending him.

The petitioner has claimed that after the Congress government came to power, Mrs Bhattal started harassing him as he refused to follow her wrong directions.

He has stated that within a gap of less than four months he was transferred six times and finally suspended.

He has alleged that in January, he was directed by Mrs Bhattal herself to get her nominee elected to the management of Mansa Cooperative Bank by using his influence over voters. He, however, refused to do her biding and less than a week later was handed his suspension letter.

After hearing counsel for the petitioner, the Bench headed by Mr Justice H.S. Bedi issued notice to the respondents for August 18.


 

Ashwani Kumar lauds Budget proposals
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Claiming that it was not possible for any Finance Minister to satisfy everyone, Rajya Sabha MP Ashwani Kumar on Monday said in his speech on Budget that the Finance Minister had taken some necessary hard decisions. Mr Kumar added, the minister had rightly avoided heavy taxation.

In his speech, the copy of which was released here yesterday, the MP said “hard decisions are there but the Finance Minister has been wrongly condemned by some for not taking hard decisions”.

He asserted that the Finance Minister had “indeed done a lot of tight rope walking. What else could we expect of him? The only way he could have found more income was to go in for heavy taxation, which he has avoided and rightly so”.

The MP said, “over the last couple of years, the burden of subsidy has risen 10 times to about Rs 48,000 crore”.

He added: “The hard facts are that India today is catching up with Sub-Saharan Africa as far as AIDS is concerned. The hard fact is that the Finance Minister has been able to allocate only Rs 210 crore for the purpose. Certainly that is not adequate. Certainly something more could have been done. Yes, he has allocated Rs 152 crore for the urban problems. Yes, it is not adequate”.

Mr Kumar further added: “I think the Finance Minister admits it is not adequate.... But is nobody’s case that we can redeem the backlog of the past decades and we can meet all challenges of the future within the limited resources that we have. So what the Finance Minister do? He talked of fiscal prudence”.

He asserted: “We have seen the spectacle of farmers committing suicides, we have seen the spectacles of anguish, of misery rooted in acute financial distress not only in the rural India, but also in the urban India.... We promised a national employment scheme. Somebody can say “this is a mockery because where are you going to get the money from because you have not even produced a legislation’.... All this is going to come in good time because the Finance Minister has to keep faith.... When the Finance Minister says something, we must give him at least the benefit of reasonable doubt”.


 

50 pc officers holding cadre posts may be shifted
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Fifty per cent of Punjab Police Service (PPS) officers holding cadre posts are likely to be shifted soon. A decision to this effect has reportedly been taken by the Punjab Government in an attempt to resolve the row between the cadre and non-cadre officers.

Though senior officers in the Punjab Home Department are maintaining strict silence over the issue of withdrawing half the number of PPS officers posted on cadre-posts, the sources in the Punjab Police Headquarters reveal that formal posting orders are likely to be issued within a week or so.

Punjab has 79 cadre posts. Forty of them are SP-rank officers. Out of them, as many as 20 posts are occupied by PPS officers, the sources in the police headquarters disclose.

Giving details, they assert that in all there are 23 posts of SSP in Punjab — 17 in regular districts and six in police districts. Initially out of 23, as many as 12 positions were cadre posts.The rest 11 belonged to the non-cadre category. But on November 5, 2003, all 23 positions were made cadre posts. This resulted in the posting of PPS officers on cadre posts. It also resulted in friction between PPS and IPS officers.

The sources add that the Punjab Government has made another attempt to solve the dispute by sending a proposal to the Government of India for de-caderising 11 posts of SSP.

The IPS officers have all along been claiming that PPS officers were being posted on cadre posts in violation of the rules. They have also been contending that regular IPS recruits, in turn, were being relegated to non-cadre posts in the rank of SP.

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

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

The directions were issued during the hearing of a petition filed by social organisation Resurgence India. The issue had snowballed into a major controversy after Punjab's IPS Association, in its general body meeting held on March 27, had demanded that such postings should be immediately taken back.

The association members had also demanded that cadre post should not be given to non-cadre officers. The minutes of the meeting were also sent to Punjab's Principal Secretary, Home Affairs,, for appropriate action.


 

No more arrests in bitumen scam
Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
In less than a month after the Punjab Vigilance Bureau busted the bitumen scam on the basis of a news story carried in these columns, the authorities have decided not to arrest more engineers in the case — at least for the time being.

Though the authorities are maintaining strict silence over the issue, the sources in the Bureau reveal that the authorities as of now were simply asking the engineers — named in the first information report registered in the matter — to join the investigation.

The sources add that the Bureau will finally take into custody only those engineers against whom there is sufficient evidence. The development is significant as about 24 engineers, including a Superintending Engineer, have already been arrested by the Bureau sleuths. Deputy Inspector-General of Police N.S. Dhillon — in charge of the operation — was not available for comments despite repeated comments.

Preliminary investigation into the matter has so far revealed that "huge quantities" of bitumen — meant for laying and repair of roads in the state — were allegedly being diverted by the engineers after taking bribes from trader Satnam Arora. Proprietor of Messers Servo Road Lines in Ludhiana, Arora was allegedly mixing bitumen with kerosene for making "cheap" furnace oil before selling it at higher rates to the industries.

The investigations have further revealed the engineers — taken into custody — had amassed movable and immovable property worth Rs 12 crore. At least two of the engineers had allegedly gathered properties worth Rs 1 crore each, while another engineer had property worth Rs 85 lakh. The properties were in the form of gold jewellery, bonds and national saving certificates, besides residential plots and houses.

The scam was busted by The Tribune last month. Following the publication of a report in these columns, the matter was taken up in an Assembly session. Akali MLA Balwinder Singh Bhunder wanted to know whether bitumen was "scam tainted". Taking a note of the matter, Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had assured that the matter would be looked into.

Soon after the assurance, a case under the provisions of the Indian Penal Code and the Prevention of Corruption Act was registered by the Vigilance Bureau. The engineers were subsequently taken into custody. A majority of the engineers were working with PWD, the Mandi Board and Punjab Urban Development and Planning Authority (PUDA).


 

Ex-Babbar Khalsa militant arrested
Was elected panch despite being history sheeter
Lalit Mohan
Tribune News Service

Batala, July 21
The Batala police achieved a major breakthrough when it arrested a Babbar Khalsa militant who was wanted in a number of terrorist incidents. Kashmir Singh, a resident of Nurpur village in Gurdaspur district, was leading a normal life as a member of his village panchayat before being arrested today.

Only on his arrest at a naka, the police came to know about his criminal antecedents. The SSP, Batala, Mr Ram Singh, while talking to The Tribune said that Kashmir Singh was a former aide of the Babbar Khalsa terrorist Baldev Singh Dorangla.

He, along with Dorangla, has been accused of killing Sewa Singh Bhinder, a relative of Rajya Sabha member from Gurdaspur Sukhbans Kaur Bhinder, Major Bhaatacharaya at the Tibri Cantonment, near Gurdaspur, and Davinder Singh Ragi in 1986.

After his aides were killed in police encounters, he fled to Nainital in Uttar Pradesh. There also he was involved in an encounter with the UP police and had to go imprisonment of two years for the act. Though Kashmir Singh was a history sheeter in police records, he was allowed to contest the panchayat elections in his village.

These days Kashmir Singh, along with his new gang, was involved in incidents of robbery on July 13, 2004, and his accomplices tried to loot a Punjab National Bank branch in Chautala village of Hoshiarpur district. In the scuffle at the bank, they injured the security guard. One of their accomplices, Rashpal Singh, also received a bullet injury. They picked up their injured accomplice in the van who died en route.

They dumped the body of Rashpal Singh in the mand area of the Beas in Kapurthala district. The police has now recovered the body.

The other accomplices of Kashmir Singh who have been arrested are Mohan Singh, Gurmail Singh, Gurmit Singh, Ranjit Singh and Sukhdeep Singh.

A Tata Sumo (PB13-L-3932) used by the accused in the attempted bank robbery and arms and ammunition have also been recovered.

The SSP said that the accused were arrested on a tip-off at a naka raised at a canal bridge in Kotla Bajja village.


 

Moga village mourns youth’s death in Canada
Perneet Singh
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Malihan (Moga), July 21
A pall of gloom descended here when the villagers came to know about the murder of Hardeep Singh, 20-year-old son of an NRI hailing from the village, in Vancouver, Canada. Hardeep was killed when some car-borne youths followed him on his way back home at 2 am on Sunday and fired indiscriminately at him.

Speaking to The Tribune, a tearful Pritam Singh, Hardeep’s paternal uncle, said that Sunny, as Hardeep was fondly called, was a vivacious boy with dreams of making it big in his eyes. Going down the memory lane, his wife Malkit Kaur said that a few years back Hardeep had come to the village and stayed with them for a long time. As he was born and brought up in Canada, he wanted to learn about his Punjabi culture, agricultural work and rural life, she added.

Pritam Singh said they were shocked when they got the news on phone on Monday. “My brother has lost everything as Sunny was his only son. Jaswant was so ecstatic when his daughter was married a few years back, but today he is a shattered man. We are told that he and his wife just can’t speak after they lost Hardeep,” he said.

Sukhjeet Kaur, Hardeep’s cousin, said he was an amicable boy.

What has hurt Pritam Singh and his family more is the fact that those who killed Hardeep are Punjabis and they have got bail too. “I can’t believe that our own people can indulge in such an act. They should be brought to book for killing an innocent youth,” he said.

Cursing the moment when two of his brothers, Jaswant Singh and Karnail Singh, decided to settle in Canada about 30 years back, Pritam Singh said Jaswant was making big plans for Harpreet’s marriage, but God had some other plans for him.

Pritam Singh wanted to be in Canada for Hardeep’s funeral on coming Saturday, but could not owing to some personal problems.


 

Bleaching powder ‘killed’ fish
Tribune News Service

Gurdaspur, July 21
The mixing of bleaching powder in the Sarri rivulet, tributary of the Beas, seemed to have killed fish near Nanowal village in the district a few days ago. Officials of the Fisheries Department here seemed to have reached the conclusion after preliminary investigation.

The Fisheries Officer of Batala, Mr Sarwan Singh, who initially spotted the mass death of fish, told The Tribune that only medium sized fish was found to have perished in a particular stretch of the rivulet. In the same area small or seed fish was found to be surviving.

From this it seems that some poacher added bleaching powder in the rivulet. Due to the bleaching powder in water the fish finds it hard to respire. They come at the top of water and are an easier catch.

Another theory that is being considered is that pesticide mixed water might have entered the rivulet causing the death of fish in a particular stretch.

However, the definite conclusion regarding the perishing of fish could only be found out after the testing of the rivulet water samples.

The water samples collected from the river are being sent to the chemical laboratory in Patiala for testing.

The Fisheries Department officials have also filed a written complaint to the police suspecting poaching activity behind the death of fish. The police was, however, yet to register a case till the filing of this report.

As a precautionary measure the district health authorities have also written to the Deputy Commissioner, Mr Harjit Singh, to stop the sale of fish for a short duration.

The Civil Surgeon Gurdaspur, Mr Niranjan Singh Suman, told The Tribune that the request to stop the sale of fish from the Beas river had been made due to the threat to the health of people from the infected fish.

Otherwise also it being breeding season of fish, it’s catch as well as sale is banned in these months.


 

Disgruntled elements maligning CPI: Samber
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab unit of the CPI today said that certain " disgruntled" elements in the office of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh, were trying to spread " disinformation" with regard to the internal affairs of the CPI in Punjab.

Reacting to various reports published in the print media today, Mr Bhupinder Samber, spokesman of the CPI, said here that " such elements" had no

business to interfere in the functioning of any party, including the CPI. They were playing the most undemocratic role, he added.

Mr Samber said that no one would succeed in " disrupting the unity" of the CPI as party ranks were fully awakened regarding the " anti- Communist conspiracies and propaganda" of anti-Left forces.

Coming to the defeat of the party candidate in Bathinda Lok Sabha elections, the CPI leader said that some sections of the Congress, which was an ally of the CPI in elections, supported the Panthic Morcha candidate instead the CPI candidate.

" Of course there were some weaknesses of the CPI as far as campaigning was concerned but the anti- people and pro-WTO policies being pursued by the Punjab Government and consequent isolation of almost all sections of society from the government led to defeat of the CPI candidate"', said the CPI leader. The factional fight in the Congress and some other reasons also contributed in the defeat.

He said that the party candidate's defeat was reviewed at a meeting of the state executive and state council of the CPI early this week. After the inclusion of various view points expressed at the meeting, the final report, presented by the secretary of the state unit, Dr Joginder Dayal, was accepted unanimously by the state executive and the state council.


 

Bhattal chief of dist panel
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Government today appointed following as chairpersons of the District Grievances Committees: Ms Rajinder Kaur Bhattal (Fatehgarh Sahib), Chaudhery Jagjit Singh (Amritsar) Mr Lal Singh (Ludhiana), Mr Partap Singh Bajwa (Hoshiarpur), Mr Raghunath Sahay Puri (Bathinda), Mr R.C. Dogra (Jalandhar), Mr Jagmohan Singh Kang (Muktsar), Mr Sardool Singh (Patiala), Mr Mohinder Singh Kaypee (Ferozepore), Mr Avtar Henry (Moga), Mr Harnam Dass Johar (Faridkot), Mr Amarjit Singh Samra (Gurdaspur), Mr Jasjit Singh Randhawa (Ropar), Mr Surinder Singla (Sangrur), Mr Rakesh Pandey (Nawanshahr), Mr Hans Raj Josan (Mansa) and Ms Gurkanwal Kaur (Kapurthala).


 

Garbage crisis
Patiala MC officials talk to union leaders
Doctors threaten to paralyse health system
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
Hectic negotiations were conducted with Municipal Corporation union leaders today to end their fortnight long strike following which both the city Mayor and the Corporation Commissioner expressed the hope that the strike would come to an end tomorrow.

The General House of the corporation was also called today to discuss the strike issue. The House passed a resolution requesting the employees to resume duty immediately in public interest. It also passed a separate resolutions condemning the murder of Union leader Harjit Singh and demanding that the killers be brought to book. The house also urged the state government to take action against doctors of the Government Rajindra Hospital who, the resolution claimed, had displayed “negligence” in treating the union leader.

Corporation employees held a protest rally at the Manvendra Chowk, close to the residence of the Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh. They said they would continue their strike until the government did not take action against the doctors of the hospital. The employees have also decided to hold a dharna tomorrow in front of the head office of the corporation. They remained tight-lipped when asked whether they would end their strike tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the State PCMS Association also got into the picture today with its state president Hardeep Singh and organising secretary Dr Y.S. Banga apprehending that action may be taken against PCMS doctors posted in the hospital. Both leaders said in case this happened they would “paralyse” the health system in the entire state. The doctors said any action would also invite a forcible closure of emergency services in the hospital.

The number of diarrhoea cases is also steadily increasing in the state with the hospital receiving a few more patients afflicted with the disease. Sources said people were also suffering water-borne diseases in slum areas.

The day saw hectic lobbying in the corporation office with Mayor Vishnu Sharma holding a lengthy dialogue with union leaders. Mr Sharma said he had requested the employees to join duty immediately promising that their demands would be looked into sympathetically. He said the employees had responded positively and might end their strike tomorrow. Corporation Commissioner Manvesh Singh Sidhu also expressed a similar sentiment.

Medical teachers and doctors of the hospital also held a rally on the hospital premises.


 

Garbage case: 6 doctors transferred
Poonam Batth
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Bowing to pressure by Patiala Municipal Corporation Employees, the Punjab Government today transferred six doctors, including the Principal, Ms Kiranjeet Kaur, and Medical Superintendent of Government Medical College, Patiala, Kulbir Kaur.

The orders have been issued by the state government following an inquiry by a three-member committee into the death of union leader Harjit Singh, who succumbed to his injuries at Government Rajindra Hospital on July 8.

While Dr Kiranjeet Kaur has been shifted to the state Health Department in Chandigarh, Dr Kulbir Kaur has been posted to Government Medical College, Faridkot. Meanwhile, Dr Surinder Singh, Vice-Principal of the college, has been appointed Principal in her place till the inquiry is completed.

Associate Professor Avtar Singh and senior resident B.S Verma have been shifted to Government Medical College, Amritsar. Two other doctors, including Y.S. Banga, who were on deputation, have been repatriated to their parent department of Health and Family Welfare.

Harjit Singh was admitted to the hospital in a critical state after assailants threw acid on him while he was on his way to work on a scooter. The corporation employees had alleged that the union leader died due to the negligence and delay on the part of the doctors attending on him. Agitated employees of the corporation had struck work and boycotted cleaning of streets and lifting of garbage in the city till the government took action.

Health Secretary Satish Chandra said departmental action had been initiated against the doctors following the lapses pointed out in the reports of the inquiry committee and the district administration. Both reports indicate that “inexcusable delay” on the part of doctors on duty led to death of the union leader.

The three-member team had in their report had reported a system failure in the hospital when the union leader was admitted.


 

Shopkeeper alleges manhandling, authorities deny
Tribune News Service

Sangrur, July 21
Mr Mangat Rai Bansal, a shopkeeper here, today alleged that Mr Makhan Sharma and Mr K.S. Brar, president and executive officer, respectively, of the Municipal Council ‘abused’ and ‘slapped’ him in the presence of Mr Zora Singh Thind, SDM, Barnala, at the residence of the SDM yesterday due to his personal enmity. He also alleged that the SDM did not stop them.

Mr Zora Singh Thind, SDM, denied the allegations of Mr Bansal. He said Mr Bansal was using tactics to keep intact a tower at the roof of his shop, installed by Airtel. He said there was a complaint against Mr Bansal for getting Airtel tower installed atop his shop without permission of the Municipal Council.

He was called to show no objection certificates (NOCs), issued by the Municipal Council or the Air Force authorities. He could not produce the certificate and was allowed to go home to remove the tower, he added.

Mr Makhan Sharma on the telephone admitted that Mr Bansal had been taken to the SDM’s residence in connection with showing permission from the SDM, for installing Airtel tower. He also admitted that the SDM, the EO and he (Sharma) had gone to the shop of Mr Bansal the previous day so that the SDM could see the tower site as a complaint had been filed against Mr Bansal for installing the tower without permission. He also denied Mr Bansal’s allegations.

Mr Mangat Rai Bansal also alleged that he along with others met the SSP with regard to the incident, but he also did not care. So he today filed a complaint against Mr Zora Singh Thind, Mr Makhan Sharma, Mr K.S. Brar and another person Mr Chand Ram, a Junior Engineer, in a court here under Sections 342, 452, 506, 504 and 34 of the IPC.


 

Two SGPC-run institutions denied minority status
Yoginder Gupta
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, July 21
Two institutions run by the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee(SGPC), Sri Guru Ram Dass Institute of Medical Sciences and Research, Amritsar, and Sri Guru Ram Dass Institute of Dental Sciences and Research, Amritsar, have been denied the status of minority institutions.

This decision has been taken by the committee for overseeing the entrance test conducted by the Association of Private Professional Colleges appointed by the Punjab Government as per a judgement of the Supreme Court. A former High Court Judge, Justice G.R. Majithia, is the Chairman of the committee.

The committee's decision was split 3 : 2. The Chairman and two members, Dr K.N. Pathak, Vice-Chancellor of Panjab University; and Dr S.K. Sharma, former Director of the PGI, Chandigarh, were of the view that these institutions could not be accorded the minority status because as per the Supreme Court directions a state, and not the entire country, would be the unit for deciding whether a religious community was in a minority. Since the Sikhs constituted the overwhelming majority in Punjab, these institutions could not enjoy the minority status.

However, two members, Mr Satish Chandra, IAS, Secretary of the Medical Education Department, who is also the member-secretary of the committee; and Dr J.S. Gujral, Principal of Baba Farid Medical College, Faridkot, disagreed with the majority view.

In their joint dissenting note, Mr Chandra and Dr Gujral have expressed reservations about the jurisdiction of the committee to go into the minority status of an institution. They said these institutions were granted minority status by the government on April 3, 2001, whereas the Supreme Court judgement in the T.M.A. Pai case came on October 31, 2002.

Agreeing that the Supreme Court had held that a state was to be taken as a unit while determining the minority status of a particular community, the dissenting members that the apex court had not given any power to the committee to decide the status of a particular institution. They said if the majority of the members were of the view that status of these instituions called for a review, a reference should have been made to the government.

The committee decision will not affect the institutions in this academic year. The institutions would be able to admit students through the entrance test conducted by themselves as allowed by the committee in its interim directions on July 1, last. The committee has said that its order will operate prospectively.

The government has been asked to re-determine the management quota seats of these institutions according to the T.M.A Pai case.

The committee has also struck down two notifications of April 3, 2001, and June 17, 2004. The first notification treated the Sikhs as a minority community taking the country as a unit. The second notification stated, among other things, that the status of an institution as a minority institution "is to be determined by taking the state as a unit".


 

DC orders locking of CDPO office
Tribune News Service

Faridkot, July 21
Taking serious note of the Kot Kapura CDPO’s absence in a meeting of various departments, the Deputy Commissioner (DC), Mr Hussan Lal, has ordered locking of the CDPO office at Kot Kapura. The DC was seeking clarification on the expenditure of funds allotted by the District Planning and Development Board for the year 2002-03.

The DC ordered the officials concerned to send details of funds spent on development works. He took serious note of encroachments made by shopkeepers on the Talwandi road. He said people were raising walls to encroach upon land and the department should take immediate steps to stop this. He asked the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Mr Darshan Singh, to write to the SDO in this regard.

The DC said the departments, which did not participate in Van Mahotsava last time, should identify places for plantation and while doing so places like schools, waterworks, crematoriums should be kept in mind. He said to felicitate those who had done well in the area last year, a committee under the chairmanship of the Additional Deputy Commissioner had been formed.

The Deputy Commissioner said the Punjab Government had given its consent for opening a fire station in Faridkot and Rs 31 lakh had been sanctioned for the purpose. He said the station would start working this year only and its building would be located on Circular Road.

SDM Mohan Lal and Jaito SDM Priyank Bharati were present in the meeting.


 

Chemists seek withdrawal of false cases
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 21
A deputation of the Punjab Chemists Association led by its president, Mr Surjit Mehta and Dr Dharambir Kapur, chief advisor, met Mr A.A. Saddiqui, DGP on Monday. It was pointed out that the police was empowered under the NDPS Act 1985, to search any suspected premises of chemists to check the sale and manufacture of spurious drugs and intoxicants in the state. However, the high-powered committee, comprising officers of the Health, Police & Home Departments had in its report of April, 1, 2004, recommended that police could register an FIR on the basis of suspected offence but should effect arrest only if the report of the chemical examiner revealed that the offence was made out under NDPS Act, 1985.

The deputationists alleged that police officials were violating the circular of the report of the high-powered committee. They demanded the withdrawal of cases, recently registered against certain chemists at Pathankot.

Mr Saddiqui assured that the police was ready to get examine all cases registered against chemists in the state. It would also withdraw all those cases which were registered falsely. He asked the association representatives to provide a list of all state and district office-bearers to him so that he could inform the SSPs concerned to take them into confidence before registering any case against chemists.


 

BKU plans march against drugs trade
Tribune News Service

Moga, July 21
The Bharatiya Kisan Union, Punjab, has decided to organise awareness march on July 26 to “expose” the chemists indulging in illegal trade of intoxicating drugs. The union would also meet the Deputy Commissioner and demand immediate check on the sale of drugs and punishment for those selling them.

The union has warned those openly selling drugs to youths that if they did not stop this trade the union would take “direct action” against them. At a meeting held here yesterday, the union members said that the district administration and police officials were “scared” to take action against those selling drugs and now the union would take the case in its own hands.

Addressing the meeting, the state secretary of the union, Prof Manjeet Singh Kadian said that some irresponsible chemists of Moga were playing with the future of youths by selling drugs in the Malwa region. He said that the union workers would no more be mute spectators and they would do everything possible to get these places closed. The union leaders alleged that some chemists were minting money by preparing these drugs at home. They said that the union had made a list of these chemists.


 

Faridkot ‘sans’ DC, SSP
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 21
The district is without the Deputy Commissioner and police chief these days.

Mr Kulshinder Singh, SSP, has gone on leave for about two weeks since July 13. Mr Hussen Lal, Deputy Commissioner, has relinquished his charge yesterday following his transfer to Sangrur on the same post. Mr Alok Sheikhar from Chandigarh who has been posted as the Deputy Commissioner, is yet to join his new assignment.

In addition to it, many senior posts like District Public Grievances Officer, Executive Magistrate, General Assistant Commissioner, besides one ADC against two posts, have been lying vacant for the past many years thus causing inconvenience to the local people.

Faridkot, which was granted a status of Divisional Headquaters on January 26, 1996, is also seeking the posting of a regular Commissioner since then. The conditions became abnormal after the trifurcation of Faridkot district into Muktsar, Moga and Faridkot in 1995, thus becoming one of the smallest district in the country.

Later the state government took no steps to strengthen its (Faridkot) boundaries.

Baba Farid University of Health Sciences and Guru Gobind Singh Medical College here are also facing great hardships in their functioning in the absence of proper infrastructure.

Moreover the computerised ticket reservation centre constructed by the central govt at the cost of rupees more than ten lakh at the railway station Faridkot was also waiting its inauguration for the past three months.


 

Women cops take to active policing
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
For the first time ever, women will play a more active role at the city police stations. They have been given the power to not only write FIRs, but also assist in police investigations.

Women Head Constables have been posted as Additional Moharirs (“munshis”) at three police stations and two stations in Samana and Julkan.

Besides, 11 women constables have been posted at various police stations with the aim of documenting crime against women.

This is the first time that women have been given active policing responsibilities. The districts were exclusive male-dominated bastions earlier.

The Head Constables at the police stations will initially assist the munshis in writing the first information reports (FIRs). Later, they will deal exclusively with women cases.

Head Constable Indu Bala, posted at the Kotwali police station, says she is full of enthusiasm for her new duty. “We are usually put on VIP duty or election duty and rarely get a chance to be part of police investigations”.

“Sometimes women coming to a police station to register a case are reluctant to talk to men. They are more comfortable talking to us. Besides, women can easily go to houses to question women against whom a complaint has been registered and also make searches”, she says.

Superintendent of Police (Headquarters) L.K. Yadav says: “It was felt that women should be put on the forefront to tackle crime against women. Keeping this in mind, the district police conducted a course on professional policing for selected women police personnel.”

He said Head Constables Sarabjit Kaur and Devinder Kaur had been posted at the Civil Lines police station, Nachhattar Kaur at the Sadar police station, Indu Bala at the Kotwali police station and Durga Devi at the Julkan police station.

The officer said 11 other women constables had been posted at various police stations with the aim of learning documentation as well as investigation processes so that they could be an asset in fighting crime against women in the district.

The women will assist in writing FIRs and the case diary and assisting in investigations.


Panchayat Secys to register births, deaths
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 21
Punjab has taken a lead in the country by distributing more than two million birth certificates within a short span of about a month- and-a-half under the national campaign to issue the birth certificates.

In the first phase the certificates were distributed to all those children, who were born between January, 1994, to October, 2003, and whose birth had already been registered but certificates were not issued. In the second phase the birth certificates would be issued to all those born between, 1989, to May, 2004, though their names were registered or yet to be registered, said Mr Inderjit Singh, Director, Census, Punjab, while presiding over the review meeting in this regard held here today.

It had been decided to launch a massive campaign to issue birth certificates to children below 10 years through a country-wide movement. He added that the success of the first phase of the campaign had created awareness among the masses about the need to register the birth. He said the entire civil registration system had been revamped by repealing the Punjab Registration of Births and Deaths Rule, 1972, with the 2004 Rules. The civil registration work in rural areas had been transferred from police stations to gram panchayats from January 2004, onwards. Panchayat secretaries had been designated as the local Registrars of Deaths and Births in place of SHOs.

He said for the success of the second phase time bound tasks had been assigned to the Deputy Commissioners and civil surgeons for the preparations of about 20 to 25 lakh birth certificates by August 31. So that these could be distributed between September 1 to 15.


 

DC launches plantation drive
Our Correspondent

Fatehgarh Sahib, July 21
To control the menace of pollution as well as to make the district green, a sapling plantation drive has been launched by the Rural Development Department through the Zila Parishad. Mr S.K. Ahluwalia, Deputy Commissioner, inaugurated the drive by planting a sapling near the SYL Canal in the district today. Fatehgarh Sahib has become the first district in the state to implement the Sampooran Gramin Rojgar Yojna scheme of the Central Government. An amount of Rs 1.50 crore has been granted to the village Panchayats for planting saplings on government lands.

Mr Ahluwalia while addressing the gathering said 2.50 lakh saplings would be planted in the district through village panchayats, educational institutions, block samitis, Zila Parishad and other NGOs.

He said all panchayats had been given the cheques and directed to plant at least 100 saplings on government lands.

He said besides this “green brigade” units in every school would be formed in the district in which school-students and teachers would be included.

These units would plant saplings and look after it.

He urged the social organisations to come forward for this noble cause and urged every one to plant at least one sapling in or around their residences or at vacant place.


Challan filed against Ahluwalia
Tribune News Service

Patiala, July 21
The Sadar police today filed a supplementary challan in a local court against a former Punjabi University Vice-Chancellor, Dr Jasbir Singh Ahluwalia, and former student leader Mr Balwinder Singh Cheema, who are accused of being responsible for a murderous attack on a Reader of the institution.

The two are accused of being responsible for a murderous attack on the Reader of the Sociology Department, Dr H.S. Bhatti, on March 5, 2002, during the period when a Joint Action Committee of teachers and students were leading an agitation to oust Dr Ahluwalia from the post of the Vice-Chancellor of the university.

According to police sources, the Sadar police station officials had filed a supplementary challan in the court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate.

They said the prosecution had given details of witnesses who heard Dr Ahluwalia giving orders to Balwinder Cheema and others to “fix” Dr Bhatti at his residence prior to the attack on the teacher.


 

Army recruitment rally from August 8
Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, July 21
The Recruiting Office here will hold a rally to recruit into Indian Army general duty soldier, technical soldiers, Nursing Assistants and Soldier Clerks / SKT for candidates from Ludhiana, Ropar, Sangrur, Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib districts of Punjab at Camping Ground near Jagraon Bridge here from August 8 to August 15.

Col B.S. Bisht, Director, Recruitment, BRO, Ludhiana said tokens would be issued to candidates on August 8.

Candidates other than Mazhabis and Ramdasias belonging to the above mentioned districts of Punjab should be matric pass with 45 per cent marks or should have passed 10+2 for soldier general duty.


 

Bharatiya Yuva Morcha appointments
Our Correspondent

Hoshiarpur, July 21
Mr Ashvani Sharma, president Bharatiya Yuva Morcha, Punjab, has appointed Mr Sanjiv Talwar, vice-president of the state unit of the morcha as in charge of Mukerian, Nawanshahr, Ropar and Ludhiana (Urban) districts to strengthen the organisation work. Anil Ram Pal has been appointed in charge for Amritsar (Rural and Urban), Tarn Taran, Majitha and Batala, Mr Narinder Makhija for Faridkot, Moga, Bathinda, Abohar and Muktsar, Mr. Vivek Vicky for Pathankot, Gurdaspur, Jalandhar (Rural and Urban) and Mr. Harpreet Singh Brar for Patiala (Rural and Urban), Ludhiana (Rural) and Fatehgarh Sahib.


 

Regular power supply demanded
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
A two-member delegation of the Beopar Mandal met the Deputy Chief Engineer, West Zone, Bathinda, Mr G.S. Dhindsa in connection with their demand of uninterrupted power supply to Bathinda residents. The delegation comprised the president of the Punjab Pradesh Beopar Mandal, Mr Madanlal Kapoor, and the president of the Bathinda Beopar Mandal, Mr Kasturi Lal Aggrawal.

Mr Kapoor and Mr Aggrawal told The Tribune that they had brought the matter to the notice of the Deputy CE that despite two thermal power plants in Bathinda district, the residents of Bathinda had to face frequent power cuts daily. They demanded that regular power supply should be ensured for Bathinda residents as they had also been facing an acute pollution problem due to the thermal plants.


 

Boy crushed to death  under bus
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 21
An 18-year-old boy was crushed to death when a PRTC bus hit him from behind near Bahadurgarh on Wednesday. According to the information, the deceased, Harwinder Singh, was crushed to death while he was going on a bicycle.

The eye-witness Jagraj Singh, head constable, and Pritpal Singh, inspector rushed him to Rajindra Hospital where he was declared brought dead.


 

Govt to ease pension procedure

Patiala, July 21
The procedure to apply for pension would be relaxed and the entire responsibility for distributing pension will be given to Gram Sabha. This was stated by State Minister for Rural Development and Irrigation Lal Singh in a meeting held at Circuit House here yesterday.

While speaking on the occasion Mr Lal Singh said the entire responsibility of pension allocation and disbursement would be given to Gram Sahba which would work under the supervision of the Welfare Department. He added that the persons eligible for pension would have to apply for pension in front of the village panchayats so that it could be verified on the spot and there was no case of fraud. OC


Ancient play Bhagwad Ajjukam staged
Our Correspondent

Patiala, July 21
The National Theatre Arts Society, Patiala, in collaboration with the North Zone Cultural Centre, Patiala, staged the ancient play “Bhagwad Ajjukam” in Punjabi language on Monday. The play adapted and directed by Pran Sabharwal and Sunita Sabharwal was staged at the packed Central State Library Hall here yesterday. The Patiala Deputy Commissioner, Mr Tejveer Singh, was the chief guest.

Mr Harbans Singh Ghai, Additional Commissioner, Punjab Excise and Taxation, presided over the function.


 

High Court
Govt decides to chargesheet two senior police officers
Our High Court Correspondent

Chandigarh, July 21
The Punjab Government has decided to chargesheet two senior police officers, former Additional Director general of Police (Computers and Wireless) D.R. Bhatti and former Superintendent of Police (Telecommunications) Malwinder Singh Sidhu for their alleged involvement in the police wireless purchase scam.

In his affidavit submitted in the Punjab and Haryana High Court, Punjab Home Secretary S.K. Sinha has stated that the two officers have been held responsible for the irregularities in the purchase of wireless sets for the Punjab Police.

An inquiry conducted by ADGP (Security) RK Gupta had indicted these two officers and then DIG (Computers and Wireless) RP Singh for their role in alleged embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crore in the purchase of wireless sets. He had also questioned the action of ADGP (Administration) Izhar Alam for giving a clean chit to these officers.

However, the State Government had concluded that Mr R.P. Singh and Mr Izhar Alam were not responsible for the scam.

The Home Secretary has stated that Bhatti and Sidhu are being chargesheeted for imposing major penalty as per provisions.

It may be recalled that the Punjab Director General of Police had also written a letter suggesting "comprehensive inquiry by an independent agency into the embezzlement of approximately Rs 2.58 crore" in the purchase of wireless sets.

A case has been going on in the High Court on a petition filed by Mr Ashok Chaudhary and Mr R.K. Kwatra.

The petitioners have claimed that the purchases were made "without technical evaluation of the wireless equipment from a fraudulent company already blacklisted". This, they asserted, "was endangering not only the national security, but also undermining the integrity of the complete police force".

Today, the case was adjourned to August 6.

Order set aside

The High Court has set aside the order of the Ropar Special Judge, handling the corruption cases against former Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal, his family and others, dismissing the request of the owners and other staff of Delhi-based Wimpy International Limited to return personal belongings and company documents.

In its petition, Wimpy International Limited had challenged the order of the Special Judge. They had stated that at the time of arresting them, Punjab Vigilance Bureau officers had also taken away records of the company and personal belongings of the family and staff. These included passports, driving licences, National Saving Scheme certificates etc.

After being granted bail, these people had moved the court of Speical Judge to get their things returned as they were not connected with the case against the Badals. This request was turned down, following which they moved the High Court.

In his order, Mr Justice S.K. Mittal had set aside the order of the Special Judge and directed that all personal and other belongings of the petitioners be returned.


 

Demolition of lawyers’ chambers condemned
Tribune News Service

Talwandi Sabo, July 21
The members of the Bar Association, Talwandi Sabo, today passed a resolution condemning the demolition of the chambers of local lawyers, Mr Kuldeep Singh and Mr Jasvir Singh, by the local civil administration.

Mr Tek Singh, president, Bar Association, in a press note issued here, said that demolition of chambers of lawyers was illegal as the same had been done without giving any prior notice to them.

He added that the act of the civil administration was condemnable and was against the interest of the community of advocates.


 

SDE, 2 JEs suspended
Breached seniority list while giving power connections
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) authorities have placed a Sub-Divisional Engineer (SDE) and two Junior Engineers posted in this district under suspension for their alleged involvement in breaching the seniority list of applicants, who had applied for power connections for their tubewell motors.

Mr Piara Singh Dhillon, SDE, Mr Dalbara Singh and Mr Baru Singh, both Junior Engineers (JEs), were placed under suspension by the PSEB authorities after they were found guilty of sanctioning power connections for tubewell motors to those applicants, whose turn was yet to come and denying the same to those whose turn was due as per the seniority list made by the department.

These three employees had sanctioned the power connection to non-deserving applicants as per the seniority list despite the fact that deserving applicants, who had been denied the same, had submitted their test reports.

The action against these three employees was initiated after the matter was brought to the notice of the PSEB authorities. After finding them guilty of bungling in awarding power connections, the PSEB authorities had placed them under suspension.

Meanwhile, due to acute shortage of funds, the field staff of PSEB had been finding it difficulty to sanction power connections to all applicants in different categories who had submitted their test reports and completed all formalities after their turn came as per the seniority list.

A senior official of the PSEB on the condition of anonymity said that as PSEB funds had been diverted to purchase power from other states, the PSEB authorities had slowed down the purchase of necessary equipments to energise new power connections. He added that power situation would ease only after heavy rains would hit the state.

He pointed out that the field staff had also been finding it difficult to maintain the power supply as a large number of transformers had been damaged due to heavy load on them because of the paddy season. He said that all workshops of PSEB had been working at their full capacity to repair the damaged transformers at the earliest.



 

2 impersonators held
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
The police today arrested Parampreet Singh and Ravinder Singh, both local residents, for their alleged involvement in cheating a cloth merchant by impersonating as Station House Officer (SHO), Punjab Police, and gunman, respectively.

Police sources said that the third accused, identified as Vijay Kumar, also a local resident, was yet to be arrested.

Sources said that Parampreet Singh, Ravinder Singh and Vijay Kumar went to the shop of Mr Bhagwan Dass, a cloth merchant. The accused asked the shopkeeper that there was complaint against him that he (shopkeeper) had bought some stolen property from Vijay Kumar. Parampreet Singh identified himself as a SHO, police station, Bhawanigarh while Ravinder Singh identified himself as his gunman.

After that the accused took some durries and khes from his shop. They also demanded money from Mr Bhagwan Dass to hush up the matter. A deal was struck among them. Mr Bhagwan Dass paid Rs 5,500 to Parampreet Singh. After all accused left the shop, Ravinder Singh came back and asked Mr Bhagwan Dass to give him Rs 500 more, which was given to him accordingly.

Mr Bhagwan Dass then reported the matter to the police. During investigations it was discovered that Mr Bhagwan Dass had been cheated by the accused. After identifying the accused, the police arrested Parampreet Singh and Ravinder Singh. A case under Section 420 of IPC had been registered against them.


 

Two kidnappings in 3 days
Our Correspondent

Tarn Taran, July 21
The police has registered a case of kidnapping against four persons, including a girl. Two days ago another case was registered by the city police when a school girl was kidnapped by three persons.

According to the case registered by the police on Monday night a teenaged girl was kidnapped from a brick kiln at Johal Raju Singh. The father of the girl is a worker at the brick-kiln.

The kidnappers have been identified as Sahib Singh, alias Sabha, Amrik Singh, Reeta, daughter of Dilbag Singh and Meshi.

This is the second case of kidnapping in the past three days in the area.

The police has registered cases under Sections 363, 366, 120B of the IPC.


 

Educational institutions violating traffic rules with impunity
Varinder Singh

Jalandhar: It may sound strange but it is a fact that almost all educational institutions of the Doaba region of Punjab are allegedly violating traffic rules and 1998 traffic guidelines of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, concerning the vehicles owned and operated by educational institutions for transportation of students.

Meanwhile, the Jalandhar police has started a campaign against those educational institution vehicles which were violating traffic rules and has challaned 150 buses of educational institutions, besides impounding 10 buses for different violations.

A survey conducted by The Tribune in major cities of Doaba, including Jalandhar, Kapurthala, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara and Nawanshahr, revealed that a majority of schools and educational institutions were flouting traffic rules and guidelines with impunity, while officials of the Transport Department and the authorities were looking the other way.

Though the traffic guidelines suggest that all drivers and conductors of the buses of schools, colleges and other educational institutions would wear proper uniforms and name plates showing their names and licence numbers while plying vehicles, but, interestingly, it was found that a majority of the drivers were not even aware that any such guidelines or rules existed. “We don’t know that we have to wear a uniform. Nobody has ever told us about this,” maintained a school bus driver operating in the local Model Town area and another school bus driver of Hoshairpur township. “Leave the school authorities apart, none of the traffic people have stopped or challaned us for this. I did not wear any name plate, but still I am carrying out my job,” said a bus driver in Hoshiarpur, while requesting anonymity. Similarly, school bus drivers were not aware that they could not carry more students than 1.5 times of the sanctioned capacity of their vehicles and overloading was a common sight everywhere.

Enquiries revealed that though the Punjab and Haryana High Court guidelines stipulated that the registered owners of the bus or the school authorities were under obligation to subject the conductors and drivers of school buses to a refresher course at least once in two years, but no any such exercise was allegedly undertaken by any school, the traffic police or the Transport Department authorities.

During a tour of these cities it was observed that none of the school buses was carrying a board, showing the name of the school, route and timings on their front or sides, what to talk about first- aid boxes, containing the minimum requisite medical aid items, in stark contrast to the guidelines.

If overspeeding, which was a violation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court’s guidelines issued in 1998, which fixed the maximum speed of a school bus at 50 KMPH, was a common sight, autorickshaws carrying about 15-20 school students against the permissible limit of eight students per autorickshaw, was seemingly a common practice in Jalandhar, Hoshiarpur, Phagwara, Kapurthala and Nawanshahr, which, virtually put hundreds of precious young lives in grave peril. Interestingly, it was observed that traffic constables and other officials did not bother about these alleged violations by school owners and those driving vehicles carrying school or other students.

When contacted, Mr. Gurpreet Singh Bhullar, SSP, Jalandhar, said the Jalandhar Police has initiated a strong campaign against violation of traffic rules by educational institution vehicles and asserted that nobody would be spared if found violating rules and guidelines. “We have also started a campaign against underage driving resorted to by students of different schools, and a number of underage students, who were found to be driving vehicles without driving licences, and their parents have been warned during past 10 days,” said Mr. Bhullar.


 

Punjab DIETs to be linked with NCERT via satellite
Tribune News Service

Bathinda, July 21
The State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT) has initiated a move to link all 17 district institutes of education and training (DIETs) with the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and Indira Gandhi National Open University (IGNOU) through satellite.

Official sources said that Punjab had become first state in the country to improve quality of education with help from best resource persons with the NCERT and the IGNOU for training teachers. A decision to implement this scheme in the country was taken by the Ministry of Human Resource Development six months ago, but only Punjab government has taken steps to implement it.

To accomplish this task by the end of next month, the SCERT had started installing direct receiving systems (DRSs) in the DIETs in a phased manner. The DRSs had been installed in DIETs in Bathinda, Moga, Ferozepore and Faridkot so far while work in other DIETs has been going fast.

Mr Sadhu Singh Randhawa, Director, SCERT, Punjab, said that under this scheme the teachers belonging to all categories except lecturers would be trained to deal with handicapped students and slow-learners, to improve the girls’ education, to make schools child friendly, to improve education of members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, to involve villagers in the improvement of schools’ functioning and to take contribution from villagers for the welfare of school.

He added that under the scheme, the teachers would be trained to make teaching-aids to improve method of teaching. He said that it would be made mandatory that every teacher used teaching aids apart from books for teaching. The head teachers, centre head teachers and block primary education officers would also join training programmes, to be launched shortly.

He pointed out that apart from NCERT and IGNOU, the SCERT had also tied up with Madhya Pardesh Bhoj Open University to hire resource persons. The SCERT would also arrange best resource persons from Punjab also. A resource person would train all teachers in one go and his or her lectures would be telecast on TVs installed in classrooms. The teachers, joining the training, would also be able to ask questions from the resource person.

He said holding of entrance test for Elementary Teachers Training (ETT) programme by the SCERT has been cleared. The test would be held shortly and the Punjab government was contemplating to fix graduation or 10 plus two with 55 per cent marks as qualification for the candidates.

He added that SCERT also got Rs 7.5 crore from the Centre for infrastructure at the DIETs at Muktsar, Nawan Shahr, Moga, Fatehgarh Sahib and Mansa. He added that there was no plan to privatise DIETs.


 

NASA contest winners to be honoured on I Day
They did the country proud, say parents
Jangveer Singh
Tribune news Service

Patiala, July 21
“The children have cried over the phone, flung their jackets in the air when their team’s name was announced for the top prize and are also proud of receiving the support of Pierre Jean Harrison, the husband of Kalpana Chawla.’’ This is the reaction of the parents of the children who won a NASA-sponsored aerospace modelling contest held in Florida.

Ramesh Rai, the father of Ayush Rai, who at 14-year age was the youngest member of the 14-member team, says his son burst out crying on the phone after the team’s victory in the competition. “He told me other members of the team were also crying out of sheer joy but that he was crying the most.” Ramesh says Ayush was a very sensitive but precocious child who was happy at being given a chance to be a member of the team consisting of students of the Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology and Budha Dal Public School, both local institutions.

Naveen Arora, father of Sahil Arora, said his son was involved in making presentations during the competition. He said Sahil told him that the team members were so overjoyed at the victory that they threw their jackets in the air, raised slogans of “Vande Mataram” and “Sat Sri Akal” and even did a bhangra jig. “They were under tremendous pressure during the entire competition and it all came out in a single moment after the announcement of the result,” Mr Arora added.

The parents including Dilbagh Singh, who works in the State Forensic Laboratory here and is the father of Simranjit Singh Bedi and Gurpreet Singh, an engineer in the PSEB who is the father of Ikhwinder Singh Chaddha, said the support extended to the team by Pierre Jean Harrison had been humbling experience. “Our children are indebted to Harrison for carrying his personal tragedy so well and interacting with our children during the competition,” they said.

The parents said meeting Harrison and following in the footsteps of Kalpana had been a major wish which had been fulfilled for their children.

It is not only the parents of the team members who are excited at the team doing so well. Isha, the sister of a team member Mandeep Singh, said her brother’s success had inspired her also. “She said the manner in which the family had allowed Mandeep to pursue his love for sophisticated gadgets had led to his being involed in the NASA project.”

Meanwhile, Punjab Chief Minister today congratulated the students of both Thapar Institute and Budha Dal School on their achievement. He said it was a matter of great pride for the entire state that the children had won an international competition. Patiala Deputy Commissioner Tejveer Singh also clarified that contrary to reports the team had received Rs 4.5 lakh from the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund before it set out for the USA.

The Deputy Commissioner also announced that the children and the other team members, including teacher of the Thapar Institute would be honoured at the coming Independence Day function. Budha Dal School Principal Amrit Aujla also thanked Capt Amarinder Singh for releasing money to facilitate the visit of the children.


 

New govt school begins to totter
Staff on deputation being called back
Kulwinder Sangha

Kharar, July 21
The recently set up Government Model Senior Secondary School here has been added as a mere number in the Punjab Education Deapartment’s list of institutions, lacking not only the required staff strength but also proper facilities.

The first such school in the town, which came into existence through the efforts of Mr Bir Devinder Singh, Kharar, MLA, has now been left to fend for itself. Of the 22 teachers brought on deputation to the institution for a student strength of 650, four have already left to report back to their parent schools. There are reports that more teachers may be recalled from the institution. The department has not sanctioned any staff for the school so far.

It is learnt that the school does not have adequate teachers for Classes XI and XII. There is no instructor for physical education.

Parents have expressed unhappiness over the attitude of the department to the school. They say that they had withdrawn their children from private institutions to take advantage of the English-medium model school, which was to have a low fee structure and better facilities.

Sources say that the school, which is being run in a workshop building of the Punjab Health Department, lacks science laboratories. It does not even have toilets. The building has been renovated by the local municipal council to run the school. The DPI, Schools, had approved the building of the Health Deapartment for running the school till the new building got constructed. The furniture for the institution now had been got on credit from various agencies and the outstanding payment in this regard was in lakhs. No funds have been sanctioned by the department for the school in this regard. Earlier, some furniture was borrowed from Arya Kanya Vidyalaya to run the institution, which was later returned when the school closed for the summer vacation.

It is learnt that the worried parents will be meeting the teachers of the school on July 24 to discuss the problem being faced by the institution.

The registration of students for the school had started on March 20 and classes started in the first week of April. To control the rush of admissions, an entrance test had been held so that the number of students got admitted was in accordance with the accommodation available.

The District Education Officer, Mr Prem Chand Gupta, said that only two teachers had gone back to their parent institutions but four others had been provided to the school. He said that some teachers were called back as schools, which were running much before the Kharar school could not be closed down for the sake of the new school. He said a sweeper and a peon had been sent for the Kharar school. The department was worried about the institution and things were being worked out to run the school. He said that his office had nothing to do with the finances that were needed. It had to be done at the level of the Secretary of the department.


 

Seminar on sapling plantation
Our Correspondent

Faridkot, July 21
Under the centrally sponsored National Green Cores Programme, the district Education Department in collaboration with the Punjab State Council for Science and Technology organised a district-level seminar at the local MGM Senior Secondary School today on making pollution-free environment by planting more and more saplings in the educational institutions and its surrounding areas in Faridkot district.

Presiding over the seminar, Mr Darshan Singh Grewal, ADC (Development), Faridkot, disclosed that the district Education Department had adopted 50 schools this year to monitor the scheme effectively. Each school would constitute Echo Clubs, which would hold rallies, seminars and quizes at their level to make people aware of their respective area and to seek their help in making the plan a success.

Each school would be given a grant of Rs 1,000 to plant at least 500 to 800 saplings in the school and in its surrounding areas besides taking care of them after the plantation. The entire programme was likely to start by the end of the month, said the ADC.

He disclosed that 50 schools were adopted last year and the remaining 54 would be taken up next year. Last year the district administration with the help of gram panchayats and various voluntary organisations planted over one lakh saplings in a day in the district and broke the national record. Ms Sukhmander Kaur Brar, District Education Officer, spoke on the occasion. Nearly 100 heads of various schools and officials of the Forest Department participated in the seminar.


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